T rust the Swedish
Technically, this isn’t a vehicular innovation – rather, an infrastructural one. The eroadarlanda project is one of many initiatives now being implemented to reach the country’s goal of fossil-fuel-free transportation by 2030. If you’ve ever played with a Scalextric set, then you already pretty much know how this new style of road works.
eroadarlanda is currently a twokilometre stretch of road between the Arlanda Cargo terminal and the Rosersberg logistics area, and is intended for trucks hauling cargo between the two areas. Engineers designed the rail to be safe by embedding the conductive parts deep in the groove. Vehicles are equipped with a special arm that deploys to make contact with the groove. That connection also helps clear any water or debris away from the working parts.
In the long term, these tracks will be built into the highway network and the construction team says it can be rolled out at a rate of one kilometre per hour into existing road infrastructure. Any vehicle making use of the this facility will have its energy use calculated and that will be billed to the owner.
This is an innovative way around some of the biggest obstacles that are currently slowing down the mass roll- out of electric cars: charging infrastructure, charging time and billing. This solution, if it’s widely adopted, could also accelerate the development of autonomous cars, because the cars are quite literally driving in tracks. And there could, theoretically, be embedded data in the system that could signal offramps and other waypoints, which the car’s navigation could interpret and feed into the autonomous system.
It’s pie-in-the-sky thinking right now, but a far more elegant solution than overhead cables.
Volvo’s XC40 launched here in South Africa to great fanfare (about 100 units sold in the first month of release), and rightly so – when specced accordingly, the XC40 is like a baby XC90 with the same engine. That means all of the Intellisafe semiautonomous driving technology can also be equipped. We drove the range-topping D5 R-design with all the available trimmings for a week and could fault nothing but the performance of the Sensus infotainment system’s touchscreen – a common problem for resistive/capacitive hybrid systems that are designed for colder climates where users are more likely to don gloves in winter.
What stood out as most striking about the model, however, was seeing it at the Google I/O developer conference. Volvo will also add phone-free Android Auto on top of the already impressive Sensus system, as well as harnessing future models’ embedded SIM cards for a persistent data connection. Then, your navigation will be handled by Google Maps and users will have open access to various Android Auto compatible apps like Spotify, Pocket Casts and Waze.
Currently, Volvo has put the XC90 forward as its main technology development platform, but seeing these new innovations debut on the smallest SUV in the stable makes the route to the average consumer a lot shorter. South Africa will also benefit from the Volvo On Call connected features in the near future after the system is overhauled to fold in the on- demand rental service required.
Volvo Cars South Africa provisionally put a fourth- quarter 2019 timeline on the service roll out, but also explained that our local experience will be paired down from what users in the US and EU have been using since the beginning of the year. The most notable omission for us will be the rental service. Users in certain US cities can join a paid subscription service and rent Volvos on demand through an electronic system.
Combined attack BMW and Porsche have j oined t heir vast r esearch might t o f i nally deliver 15- minute
EV charging stations a t hing. The German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital I nfrastructure i s putting a 7, 8- million euro grant behind t he project, which will f ocus on i mproving t he charging r ate t o 900 V
at 500 A, which r esults i n 450 kw charge. This will most probably only be an of f ering open only t o l arger- batteried commercial vehicles, with consumer t echnology rolling out at a l ater stage.