Volt on Track
The LEV Automotive Partnership, comprising the RACV and Future Climate Australia, presented an EV and LEV industry forum and drive day for fleet managers at Sandown International Raceway, Melbourne on Monday 21st May, 2012.
Supported by event partners the Global Fuel Economy Initiative, Better Place, Michelin and the RACV, 28 current or soon-to-be-released electric and low emission vehicles were presented for testing by around 100 fleet customers.
Holden, Honda, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Renault, Toyota and Volvo supplied vehicles, with Volvo presenting an hourly demonstration of its City Safety accident avoidance technology.
Delegates were invited to take drives around the track in the vehicles, for a hands-on experience of the latest automotive technology aimed at reducing fuel consumption and tail pipe emissions.
The day began with an event and test drive partner panel session, chaired by industry commentator John Mellor, Publisher of GoAuto Media.
Panellists gave a brief overview of their innovative technological solutions and took questions from the floor, as well as from the chair.
After a networking lunch, an industry forum and interactive round-table Q&A session unlocked answers to some of the practical issues exercising the minds of fleet managers and purchasers across Australia, all of whom are faced with the increasing onslaught of new technology, carbon tax imposts, fuel cost volatility and mooted government vehicle emission standard regulations.
The forum was introduced with a short film from the Global Fuel Economy Initiative, narrated by Damon Hill as he underwent a fuel economy challenge in the UK.
Then, the forum considered issues such as:
- Which cars will employees request?
- Will they have a second life?
- And at what residual value?
- And what are the consequences if fleets opt for what turns out to be the ‘wrong’ technology or vehicle choice?
Kristian Handberg, Project Manager, Low Emission Vehicles, Victorian Department of Transport posed the question: Electric Vehicles in Australia – Is there an EV market and are we ready for one?
Paul Davies, Manager Environment Policy, South Australian Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure asked: Low Emission Vehicle Policy for South Australia – How do we decouple emissions from transport?
Mark McKenzie, Principal, RARE Consulting covered: Essential Fleet Management Tools – Dealing with the carbon price, regulation and reporting.
Simon Mikedis, Manager Environmental Programs, RACV considered: Promoting the Uptake of Low Emission Vehicles – How can we best promote fuel efficiency in Australia?
Tony Brand, General Manager, Innovation Group looked at: Managing and Maintaining a Fleet Perspective – What are the key challenges we face?
And the event convenor, Henry O’Clery, Executive Director, Future Climate Australia and Director, LEV Automotive Partnership, looked further into the future to divine the emerging challenges for the industry.
Some themes emerged from the resulting Q&A, including:
- How easily will employees migrate to an EV driving lifestyle?
- Who will pay for the installation of EV recharging points at employees’ homes?
- How can fleets insulate against the rapid development of technology negatively impacting on residuals?
- How to budget for running costs of EVs?
Wrapping up the formal proceedings Henry O’Clery suggested there was still a lot of life left in the internal combustion engine, specifically petrol engines where capacity downsizing, turbocharging and direct injection, low friction components, auto stop/start and low rolling resistance tyres were able to have a significant impact on consumption and emissions.
“We have the technology to go leaner; at the top end we see a Porsche with a 770 bhp engine that returns 3.0-litres per 100 km. We have the technology but it is not yet commercially viable for the mass market,” he said.
The next ‘big thing’ to deal with is the projected doubling of the population by 2050, so traffic congestion in our cities will increase very dramatically. In some countries and cities, personal mobility demand is expected to more than treble in that time.
“How will we get into and out of the city? Perhaps cars will carry a small device such as an electric bike for drivers to ride into the city from peripheral park stations, and of course rapid transit park-and-ride schemes.
Congestion charges, the banning of private cars from the CBD, and the development of intelligent transport systems are all options that will have to be considered.
The implications for city planning and infrastructure development are very challenging”, he said.