Monthly Archives: May 2017

The future of electric vehicle – battery or fuel cell?

Electric vehicles are nothing new – we’re all familiar with the technology, and several are already available to the mass market. But is the future of transport really with the battery electric vehicle (BEV)? Or will another technology prove to be a more viable option for motorists and businesses?
62% of automotive executives believe BEV will fail

According to KPMG’s Global Automotive Executive Survey 2017, 62% of the automotive executives asked believed that “battery electric vehicles will fail due to infrastructure challenges”. Certainly, for real-world use, the barriers for electric vehicles are charging and range. With a society built around transport that can be refuelled with no downtime, switching to a slower system is not going to be a popular move – for drivers or businesses.

For BEVs to become successful, we’d need to revolutionise battery technology, implement widespread recharging infrastructure (Tesla’s investment in America is a prime example of how this could be achieved, though they still only have 340 supercharger stations in North America), and possibly move away from private vehicle ownership to a shared, rented model, in which travellers would be able to switch to a new vehicle when needed. This is a major shift in behaviour for consumers – in the short and medium term, it seems unlikely.

But is there an alternative? The current feeling is that fuel cell electric vehicles could offer the answer.

Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles
Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV) run on electricity, but unlike BEV, they produce it within the vehicle. They combine hydrogen and oxygen to create electricity, which then runs the motor. The waste products are heat and water vapour, eliminating CO2, NO2 and pipe emissions.

The key difference for drivers is that FCEVs can be refuelled in a time comparable to conventional diesel or petrol vehicles. It takes less than ten minutes to refuel using pressurised hydrogen, whereas an electric vehicle can take between 30 minutes and 12 hours to recharge (depending on the size of battery and speed of the charging point). Recharging technology is improving all the time, but as FCEV is already has efficient refuelling method, BEVs are behind in the race. Another factor is the availability of recharging/refuelling points. It’s possible to integrate hydrogen refuelling into existing petrol stations, whereas electric recharging points have to be created. There are electric charging points available, but the scale of this infrastructure would need massive investment before it became a viable option for most. Plus, the driving range of a FCEV is comparable to a diesel car – meaning a similar level of service with limited culture change.

Drawbacks
It sounds like FCEVs are the perfect answer to a tricky problem. But as with anything, there is no silver bullet. As we’ve said, FCEVs don’t emit CO2, NO2 and other well-known pollutants, but they do produce water vapour, which is still a greenhouse gas. It traps heat within the earth’s atmosphere instead of letting it escape, thereby contributing to climate change. The levels and impact of water vapour are far less understood than other greenhouse gases, but switching to hydrogen-fuelled vehicles may just delay another radical change until later, instead of solving the problem.

Another issue for both BEVs and FCEVs is the source of the electricity of hydrogen to power both type of engines. Yes, the pipe emissions from both are considered carbon neutral, but the energy both need has to be produced somewhere. If the electricity and hydrogen are produced from renewable sources, then both are environmentally sound options. If not, then we are simply moving the problem of emissions back up the supply chain.

Until there is significant infrastructure investment, however, neither types of vehicle will be widespread. But for the medium-term, fuel cell electric vehicles could be the real winners in the drive towards sustainable transport.

Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles – the essential facts
• Less than 10 minutes – refuelling time
• 200-300 miles – range of a FCEV on one refuel
• Water vapour and heat – the waste products from FCEVs
• 62% – the number of executives that believe BEVs will fail

Ring and Carnation Designs Power Code Blue and Medics Ambulance

Ring and Carnation Designs joined forces at this year’s CV Show to demonstrate their complete vehicle conversion package. Here’s how our products were used in Medics UK’s vehicle, which was built by Code Blue Specialist Vehicles.

What's on board the vehicle?

 Carnation Designs’ genisys

A complete power management system that gives the control you need for a safe, reliable and manageable mobile work station.​



 ECU

The brain of the genisys system governing communication between all modules. The ECU monitors batteries and digital inputs, and uses software logic to control outputs and intelligently preserve power.

 

Voice Alert

genisys Voice Alert gives clear audible instructions and safety warnings to vehicle operators. Much more helpful than just a buzzer.

 

Keypads

A suite of high quality user interfaces, bespoke configured for every application. 18-way variants feature LCD displays for battery voltages and status information.

 

Output Modules

genisys OPMs offer safe, internally fused, high power delivery. Outputs are controlled by semi-conductor switches rather than mechanical relays providing longer operating life, faster switching and requiring very little drive current.

CANBus Interface

genisys CAN modules provide intelligent base vehicle derived inputs, eradicating the need for multiple hard-wired inputs, increasing system sophistication whilst reducing installation time.

 

Protocol Converter

genisys ‘conduit’ to third party devices, the Protocol Converter module facilitates bidirectional communication with PC-based hardware and relays status information to data logging and telemetry systems.

Ring’s Power, Lighting and Camera Systems

Ring’s products work seamlessly with Carnation’s, ensuring your vehicle operates to maximise your mobile work requirements. We offer tailored solutions in interior and exterior lighting, warning and hazard lighting, mains power, in-vehicle charging and vehicle safety systems.

       
Inverter

The Pure Sine Wave Inverter provides reliable consistent power for vehicles working remotely. The low frequency harmonic distortion of 4-5% is vital for the sensitive electrical equipment, used in ambulances to operate without electronic disturbance.

 

DC-DC

The DC-DC smart charger ensures the ambulance’s auxiliary battery power is maintained. The 12V DC power from the main battery and alternator is converted into a multi-stage charge, optimising the performance of the auxiliary battery. Programmable input voltages provide compatibility with smart alternators.

 

Incident camera

This GPS incident camera adds global position recording, which allows playback on Google maps using the software provided. Other new features include a sharp image six element 140° wide angle lens, built-in microphone, smoother full HD video playback and superior low light recording.

High level brake light camera system

The combined unit is REG10 approved and gives the vehicle operator greater control when reversing, reducing incidents and improving safety around the vehicle. Dual channel functionality allows secondary sided or front cameras to be installed and viewed on a choice of mirror or dashboard style monitors. Installation is simple and the range covers most modern vans.

Technician inspects engine bay.

DVSA raises the bar for MOT testers

Last month, the DVSA announced that the pass mark for the assessment to become an MOT tester is to rise from 50% to 60% – meaning that mechanics and technicians will have to work harder to be able to carry out MOT tests.

Integral to garages
Every car owner must take their car into a workshop at least once a year – for the annual MOT. For garages, it’s a good way to get customers through the door and maintain contact. Plus, the annual service and MOT means that other problems will become apparent, and more work can be carried out. So being a registered MOT test site has definite advantages, even if the profits on running the actual tests are low. Many would see carrying out MOTs as a typical feature of a garage – whether that’s a chain or an independent.

The government regulates who can carry out MOTs, demanding that all MOTs “must be conducted within authorised vehicle testing stations (VTSs) by nominated testers (NTs) approved to test the class of vehicle by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA)”. To take the test to become a tester, you must:
• Have a current and full UK Driving Licence in the class of vehicles you wish to test.
• Be nominated by an Authorised Examiner.
• Have four years’ experience working on class of vehicles you wish to test.
• No ‘unspent’ convictions for criminal offences connected with the MOT Testing Scheme or the motor trade, or involving acts of violence or intimidation.

Annual review
The changes come into play after the introduction of the yearly MOT review, as opposed to the five-year refresher test that used to apply. The requirements are that each tester has three hours of training per year – one hour less overall than the 16 hours required every five years.

The moves indicate that the DVSA is focusing on raising standards. Some reports suggest that this increase in the pass mark is the first to be implemented – Garage Wire, the industry publication, has heard that the pass mark could be as high as 80% by 2021. This remains unconfirmed, though – for the moment, the 60% mark is the main change.

MOT test changes – the stats
• 60% – the new pass mark to become and MOT tester.
• 3 hours – amount of training needed per year to remain and MOT tester.
• Once a year – how often refresher course must be taken.
• Four years – minimum years of work experience working on the class of vehicle a tester wishes to test.