Cenex LCV2011September 19, 2011
Cenex LCV is the UK’s largest low carbon vehicle event , and this year it was significant because Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and Nissan were key participants, proving that low carbon vehicles have gone from niche to mainstream.
There were also a number of low and ultra-low carbon vehicles available to drive at LCV2011 including the 89 g/km CO2 plug-in hybrid Range Rover Sport . The event took place over 7-8 September at the Rockingham Race Circuit in Northamptonshire.
Graham Hoare, Ford;
Jerry Hardcastle, Nissan;
Jaguar Land Rover
The event was opened by Brendan Connor, Cenex Chairman , who made the point that the first Cenex LCV event, which took place four years ago in 2007, demonstrated potential future low carbon technology, and the same technology was now back at the event this year but this time in production vehicles.
He also stressed that, after the development of car engines being relatively stable for years, the rate of change in the low carbon area of the automotive industry has gone beyond anything predicted in 2007.
There was also a reference to the situation when petrol cars first appeared – when motorists had to visit the chemist to buy petrol. Once there was an increase in the availability of the fuel, the technology took off. This scenario can be equally applied to electric cars – as well as other fuels such as natural gas and hydrogen. At the time of the conference, 680 electric vehicles had been bought using the government’s plug-in car grant, and there were 704 charging bays – although this is set to rise to 8500 by March 2013. By this time the lack of public recharging infrastructure should not be a valid cause for complaint.
Keynote speech – Mark Prisk, Minister, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
The keynote speech was delivered by Mark Prisk, Minister, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills , although this was via a video link rather than in person. His message was that the government continues to see the automotive sector as being important from an economic point of view, and that it is being proactive in helping in the development of low and ultra-low carbon vehicles.
The journey between concept and commercialisation
Iain Gray from the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) talked about ‘Driving innovation: the journey between concept and commercialisation’, and explained that £127 million from the public sector had been invested in low carbon vehicle technology, equating to £250 million including business match funding. This had so far resulted in 112 research and development projects, with an example of a successful outcome being the advanced hybrid diesel technology at Leyland trucks, which now appears in vehicles on sale.
There have also been trials of 340 electric vehicles.
Interesting new projects include a proposal to change the profile and performance of tyres to reduce emissions by 10%.
Iain concluded by saying that the demand for new forms of environmentally-friendly transport continue to offer new business opportunities.
Low Carbon Vehicles – Opportunities for the UK Automotive Industry
Jerry Hardcastle , on behalf of the Automotive Council , presented on the subject of ‘Low Carbon Vehicles – Opportunities for the UK Automotive Industry ‘.
The Automotive Council is trying to achieve a transformed business environment for the automotive industry in the UK. To do this, working closely with government – both Labour and the coalition – has been essential.
When it was first formed, the Automotive Council was asked to predict what was going to happen in terms of future technology in the industry. Views were invited from different manufacturers and it turned out that all had the same view, ie. there was a consensus in the industry, and a technology roadmap
Since then the car makers have been putting their money where their mouths were, and there have been announcements such as Ford’s £1.5 billion UK investment in low CO2 engines, Toyota building hybrids in the UK, the Jaguar C-X75 hybrid, and Nissan building a battery plant and manufacturing the LEAF in the UK. Honda has also announced the opening of a hydrogen refuelling station at its plant in Swindon.
All this shows that the roadmap is being followed, and due in part to the confidence in the support for low carbon vehicle technologies in the UK, Nissan took the decision to launch the LEAF in the UK before other European markets.
Collaborative funding has been seen as huge success. For example, Nissan brought together 15 different UK suppliers through a TSB funding programme. Thanks to the £2 million of funding, the project has been kept in the UK.
In response to a question from the audience about the emissions from a 99 g/km CO2 plug-in hybrid sports car being unlikely to come anywhere near 99 g/km in real-world use, Jerry responded that the Automotive Council is looking at this issue, and a well-to-wheel approach is likely to be adopted at some stage to give a fairer comparison between the energy use of petrol/diesel and electric cars, as at the moment the results gained from the NEDC cycle tests, which give plug-in hybrids an unrealistic low emission figure, because the tests don’t include allowances for the energy from the grid to charge the battery, is driving the technology.
Technology developments in passenger cars
A set of particularly interesting presentations came from three of the major motor manufacturers, who were talking about technology developments in passenger cars . A main focus of the first LCV event, four years ago, was niche manufacturers; it shows how far the low carbon vehicle agenda has progressed to have three of the major car companies on stage.
Graham Hoare, Ford
Graham Hoare from Ford opened with a play on Henry Ford’s famous line of “You can have a Model T Ford in any colour – as long as it’s black”. Now the Ford message is “You can have a Ford in any colour – as long as it’s green”.
Graham reminded us that the Ford Fiesta and Focus (and their predecessors) have been the two best-selling cars in the UK for most of the last 33 years. Ford employs 15,000 people in the UK; one out of every three engines in a Ford worldwide is from the UK; and the UK is a global hub for sustainability.
Over the next three years we’ll see another 20 new vehicles from Ford based on global platforms. Ford’s bold aim is to have fuel economy and CO2 to be ‘best in class or equal best in class in every segment’. And of course Ford wants its reduced CO2 cars to ‘touch everyone’, with high volume affordable solutions for millions of customers.
At the moment efficient diesel (and petrol) engines are the key to the low CO2 plan – but hybrids will come, and electric.
In 2012 we’ll get an 89 g/km CO2 Focus ECOnetic , along with an 87 g/km CO2 Fiesta ECOnetic . Using diesel engine technology, these will be more affordable than using hybrid technology, but will still deliver hybrid-levels of economy. A 1-litre, 3-cylinder ECOboost petrol engine will also be coming. By the end of 2012, 50% of Ford vehicles will have ECOnetic features.
Ford is currently the second largest producer of hybrids in the US, and this technology will be rolled out in Europe over the next 2-3 years. Ford doesn’t see that the market is ready for volume electric cars yet, but electric Fords will happen; an electric Transit Connect is currently on sale, and an electric Focus will follow next year, with a 100 mile range and a 4-hour home charge time. Plug-in hybrids are also seen as a good solution.
Graham concluded that we’re at a milestone in automotive history, and at the edge of major change, but there is no one ‘silver bullet’ for Ford.
We drove the electric Transit Connect at Rockingham and if potential buyers have concerns over lack of performance, they shouldn’t have. The electric Transit has very strong acceleration that keeps on going, and electric vans just make so much sense for urban deliveries where fixed routes can ensure the driving range is not exceeded.
Bob Joyce , Jaguar Land Rover
Bob Joyce from Jaguar Land Rover was next up, and he cited the example of the new Jaguar C-X16 concept, with its hybrid electric powertrain, as demonstrating the company’s progress towards its low carbon vision, but he stressed that there’s a significant investment cost to achieve this vision.
The firm’s Range_e was also at the event and Beating Spirit was able to drive it. This is a Range Rover Sport with emissions of just 89 g/km CO2 thanks to its diesel hybrid plug-in powertrain. It still has 4×4 capability, together with an electric-only range of 20 miles. So you could drive it on your 10 mile commute to work and back every day with zero-emissions, then at weekends scare Land Rover Defenders with its incredible off-road ability – as well as turning up in style at the golf club.
Driving a Range Rover Sport around Rockingham race circuit, knowing that it officially emits no more CO2 than a Toyota Prius, is a weird and wonderful feeling. There’s lots of admiration for the Land Rover brand and its go-anywhere capabilities, but such engineering comes with a hefty CO2 premium. For Land Rover to get the Range Rover Sport’s emissions down to these sort of levels – even though plug-in hybrids enjoy low emission figures from the NEDC test that are unrepresentative of real-life use – is indeed an impressive achievement.
The Range_e is only a development vehicle and you can’t buy this technology on a Land Rover yet; however what you can buy now is a Range Rover Evoque , which is the brand’s greenest-ever model. We also took this around the Rockingham race circuit, which confirmed that it’s a highly impressive machine – as well as one that looks fantastic. We’ll be producing a special feature on the Evoque very shortly, once we’ve covered many more miles in one, on and off road.
In terms of the Jaguar brand, the Jaguar XF 2.2d was at Rockingham, and this car represents significant progress in terms of efficiency for Jaguar. It has an upmarket feel in terms of its ambience and its ride that enables it to rise above the likes of the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class, and with the new 2.2-litre diesel engine, it is now competitive in terms of economy and emissions. Again, read our full review of the Jaguar XF 2.2d soon, after we’ve had chance to live with one for a while.
The other vehicle of note on display from JLR was the Jaguar C-X75 . Featuring an electric powertrain with gas-turbine range extenders, I first saw this concept in the flesh at the Paris Motor Show and was absolutely blown away by its beauty. I then had the privilege of meeting its designer – and therefore a complete hero – Ian Callum, at the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power event in July. If Jaguar can continue to create cars with the design flair and the low carbon powertrain of the C-X75, then it certainly deserves to enjoy huge success.
Bob Joyce confirmed that the C-X75 will emit less than 99 g/km when it enters production in mid-2013.
Jerry Hardcastle, Nissan
Jerry Hardcastle reappeared, but this time on behalf of Nissan. Jerry always provides good entertainment when presenting at such conferences, and this time was no exception.
The big difference between Nissan and Ford/Jaguar Land Rover is that Nissan has an electric car on sale today in the form of the Nissan LEAF – and it’s an excellent car. Production of the LEAF will start in the UK in 2013.
However Nissan is not only focusing on electric cars, but it has introduced a supercharged, three-cylinder petrol engine in the Micra, capable of 68.9 mpg and emissions of 95 g/km CO2, and the next version of the highly successful Qashqai crossover will emit just 119 g/km CO2.
The LCV event incorporates a conference, ride and drive opportunities, and trade stands. The trade stands are generally rather technical business-to-business affairs, however one stand of interest was that of Evida. Evida, a company with a presence in the UK, is supplying batteries to the new French-German Mia electric car. The main focus of Evida is to supply battery packs at a lower cost than many competitors. The technology is ideal for urban delivery vehicles – such as for postal companies.
Jonathan Shine is leading the business development for Evida in the UK. Jonathan also has a business called Drive Electric, which offers sales, support and consultancy for EVs – the electric Citroen Berlingo in particular – a vehicle that was very overlooked when in production, but in hindsight, probably ahead of its time.
Jonathan drives an electric car himself, a Nissan LEAF, although he’s looking to get hold of an Ampera.
HaloIPT was another exhibitor with an interesting product – technology to recharge electric cars without a physical connector lead. The recharging is done by transferring the charge wirelessly from a pad underneath the vehicle. This involves extra cost, but there are certain situations where this technology could be ideal – such as laying the pads in taxi ranks to enable electric taxis to operate and recharge while waiting for fares. Theoretically, the same technology could be used for buses that operate on the same routes, to enable electric buses to be a viable proposition for the first time. Another application is for electric racing cars – laying pads in the track, or at least in the pits initially, would allow the cars to recharge as they competed.
Some other cars on display:
Racing Green Endurance electric supercar
This car completed a 26,000 km journey along the Pan-American Highway from Alaska to the southern tip of South America in late 2010.
Delta Motorsport E-4 Coupe
Delta Motorsport’s battery-electric Delta E-4 Coupé has a top speed of 150 mph and a range of 200 miles. The lightweight, two-door E-4 Coupé can also accelerate from zero to 60 mph in less than five seconds. The E-4 Coupé has a carbon composite chassis, designed by Delta and manufactured by KS Composites, which weighs just 85 kg – two-thirds less than a comparable steel structure, despite being designed to pass EU crash tests.
The iRACER is a track-focused electric vehicle, designed and engineered from the ground up as a pure race car. With 660 Nm of torque per rear wheel it can achieve 0-60 mph in less than 5 seconds. The iRACER is the result of a collaborative project between Westfield Sportscars, and Niche Vehicle Network partners Potenza Technology, Delta Motorsport, RDM Automotive, and Coventry University.
Beating Spirit has attended every LCV event since our own Beating Spirit Live! event, co-sponsored by Cenex, in 2008.
Read our reviews of other Cenex events:
Read our review of the Cenex Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Conference 2011
Read our review of LCV2010
Read our review of the 2010 Green Vehicle Congress
Read our review of LCV2009
Read our review of LCV2008
Read our review of LCV2007
Read our reviews of other events: