Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Queen is pro-public transport

The Queen is visiting Australia and its not just Airforce Q and Rolls Royces for the Royal Couple. According to 'The Age', the Queen will take a ride in a 'Royal Tram'.

The royal couple will begin their "Meet the People" walk at 12.30pm from the National Gallery of Victoria through to Federation Square.

They will then have the chance to experience Melbourne's famous trams, boarding a "royal tram" which will take them along Swanston Street to Government House Drive.

"Melburnians have always been proud of our tram network and the Queen's tram ride in Melbourne will add to its rich history," Mr Baillieu said.

Im curious to know what type of tram will be used - an iconic W class ? the Bumblebee ? a low-floor Siemens ? 

The Royal Tram 

Im told that the reason that a Z Class tram was selected was that it has a centre rail on the stairs, for the Queen (who is in her 80's) to hold as she boarded. Low floor Siemens trams, do not have this. She seemed to enjoy her ride. 

See also: ACTION - By Royal appointment

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Canberra Electric Vehicle Festival 2011

This year I attended my third Canberra Electric Vehicle Festival, and I must say I am impressed not only with the evolution of commercial electric vehicles, but also the professionalism of the festival. I could only spend an hour at this years show, as I wanted to attend the Queanbeyan American Car Show, held the same day. So this photo essay is shorter than previous years reports (see 2009 here and 2010 here). 

It was great to see that the number of commercially available electric and hybrid vehicles is increasing each year. There are still many homebuilt electric cars, built by incredibly talented and inventive individuals, but it is clear that hybrid and electric vehicles are going mainstream. Electric assisted bicycles are also quite popular, and there were many different models of these on show this year. 

Lets begin our wander around the 2011 Canberra International Electric Vehicle Festival, beginning with a small display of homebuilt electric cars and light trucks.
 Ford light truck, with the battery array cleverly hidden under the tray - no effect on load carrying capacity.
 Volkswagen with owner added electric engine
 Toyota light truck. Not as clever as the Ford, but still lots of usable space. many tradies have boxes this size on their trays. 
 I think this is a Daewoo. Battery array under back seat and using up space behind front seat. 
 A Volkswagen and an unidentified service vehicle. I'd love to go for a spin down the Tuggeranong Parkway in this thing. Im not sure how stable it would be at 100kmh. 

Electric vehicles need to get the power from somewhere. There were several battery vendors and battery technology displays. This technology is getting better and better every year, driven primarily by the mobile phone industry. As batteries become smaller and more powerful, they are also lighter and cheaper. this is good news for the electric vehicle industry. 

There is also a strong focus on the recyclable nature of the batteries. It seems that those committed to the EV technology are also as committed to recycling and proper disposal of some nasty chemicals associated with the batteries. 
 Toyota Camry Hybrid
 Toyota Echo (I think)
 Toyota dealers were there - its good to see this sort of support. This vehicle is manufactured in Australia. 
 Chargepoint were demonstrating their 'charging solution' which i think means 'plug'. Seriously, this is the big challenge with EV's. The industry needs a common standard for charging points, and it needs to be adopted by all EV manufacturers. It's one of the reason petrol cars took off 100 years ago - it is a common fuel, readily available. 
Of course, there is a competitor. Curve or is it Curve Tomorrow ? Lots of motherhood green terminology in the EV field. 
 I did like this approach - using ones own solar array to power ones EV. 
 The Nissan Leaf. I like its plug position. 
 The inevitable plug for the Nissan Leaf
Last year there was a Tesla that was privately owned on show. This year Tesla the company had a stand, there were also several teslas on hand for people to test ride (not test drive). Interest was high and Tesla brochures and stickers were hoovered up by 40 year old EV enthusiasts. Although Tesla are working on a four door sedan, they only had their sports car available at this years EV festival. 

Also note that the Tesla is registered - last year they did not satisfy ADR's and were unable to be registered. Regulations have been altered in the intervening period.  
 Mitsubishi MIEV
Surprisingly roomy for such a small car. I do note that japanese Kei cars are often taller than other small cars. Im 6ft 4' and built like a brick outhouse, so headroom and shoulder room is important to me.   
 Yet another plug. I sure hope they reach a standard plug type soon. 
Better Place were at the EV Festival again. They are flogging a proprietary technology with removable battery packs as the main feature. Im not sure if this MIEV has that technology, or if its just a regular MIEV. 

Better Place have received some media coverage in Canberra with an agreement between the ACT Government, ACTEWAGL and the ACT Government on providing electric recharging stations around Canberra. Im not sure if this means they have moved their business model away from the proprietary quick removable battery packs, to regular electric vehicle recharge stations. Time will tell. 
 Better Places version of an EV plug
 ActewAGL are a Canberra based power company. Naturally an electricity company is keen to see more people adopt electric powered vehicles. 
 The good old Toyota Prius
At last - a hot rodded Toyota prius! This company remove the combustion engine and enhance the electrics. They modify the engine and add more batteries! More power! This would be an ideal conversion for a Canberra based Prius owner. 
 A boat is a vehicle...
 These cars were all available for people to have a ride in, on a small controlled track. The Teslas were very popular. 
The electric motorcycles were intriguing. According to one owner, they are better than combustion powered motorcycles, especially on the dirt. They stop as soon as they fall over, they dont leak fuel or flood when at weird angles. Drop it and you can just pick it up and go, no kick start. Less moving parts than a combustion powered bike is also less to go wrong. 
 Electric powered recumbent bicycle. Just wrong. 
Electric bicycles and scooters are also increasing in availability from commercial vendors. Far fewer home built electric bicycles than previous years. If they are available off the shelf its easier than building one. 

See also: