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Auto OEMs Supply Chains Pave the Road to Green

According to Britain’s environmental mandate traditionally powered cars and trucks will be eliminated from the roads altogether in the next couple of decades. That’s why now telematics are being applied to several models to find the most sustainable choices—both for consumer and industrial purposes.

This past July the UK took another step in its ambitious CO2 reduction targets that would keep pace with the plans set in France. UK environment secretary Michael Gove  announced that Britain would ban the sale of any cars powered by gas (petrol, as they call it,) or diesel fuel by 2040. That means that car manufacturers have to find economical designs (and the supply chains to bring those designs to reality) for cars and trucks powered by electricity in the near future.

To that end, the government has directed toward research and testing with funding of £20 million to be distributed via the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and Innovate UK among 20 firms that were selected to participate in the trial of low and zero emissions vehicles. The objective is not just to reduce C02 from auto emissions for the sake of improved air quality but to contribute to England’s aspirations “to be a global leader in electric vehicle technology.”

The name of the trial is LEFT, which stands for low emission freight and logistics trial. As data accuracy is essential to judging the performance of the vehicles involved, Microlise was selected to provide the telematics. Matthew Hague, executive director, product strategy at Microlise shared some insight about the project with me via email.

Microlise’s role is to provide the telematics units that “capture tracking data, vehicle maintenance data, fuel (diesel or gas) consumption, state of charge of battery, state of health of the battery etc.,” Hague explained. The data is then to be collected and analyzed by, TRL,  as well as Cenex, described as ”the UK’s first Centre of Excellence for Low Carbon and Fuel Cell technologies.” That analysis is to inform planning for low and zero emissions vehicles that fit with the UK’s plans.

This trial is set for three years, having commenced in April 2017 and scheduled to conclude in March 2020. It involves over 130 vehicles with particular attention directed toward heavy goods vehicles (HGVs).  

Trucks are a particular environmental concern in the UK. The UK’s department of transport  estimated that trucks to contribute “about 30% of the UK’s CO2 transport emissions.” The innovations tested over the trial is intended to remedy that situation. Innovations that will be tested include electric-powered vans and trucks that could run on Hydrogen dual-fuel.

“The companies involved applied for the government funding together as part of a consortium,” Hague said. These companies “agreed to write a joint proposal for consideration for the funding,” as did Microlise, Hague explained.

The funding is not evenly distributed among participants, though. As the news story on the competition winners said, “Air Liquide Group receives the largest amount of funding – £2.57 million.” That is going for a test of biogas in 86 fairly heavy trucks, with a weight range from 26 to 44 tons. The company is also testing a “prototype liquid nitrogen system” in give refrigeration units.

Another group led by ULEMco was given £1.31 million to test out the effect of “innovative hydrogen dual-fuel technology,” A third, UPS, was granted “£1.33 million to invest in smart charging of its electric vans which run in central London.”

The different companies bring different approaches to solving the problem of emissions on different types of HGVs that serve various purposes. Hague explained:

The aim of this competition is to trial and/or develop low emission vehicles in the freight, logistics, utilities and emergency industries. The aim of the trial is to demonstrate new technologies and to encourage the widespread introduction of low and zero emission vehicles to UK fleets. The ultimate aim is to speed up the adoption of low emission vehicles.

It makes sense to run trials now.  Lower emission vehicles have to be developed not just to meet the requirements set for 2040 but to meet the emissions standards that the UK put into place this past September. As of this year, the “Euro 6 emission limits” are already required, and the standards are to become even more stringent in 2020.

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