Originally published on LinkedIn.
By Roger Atkins
Amidst the marvel that is the UK’s impressive Millbrook Test Centre – squirrelled away deep in the Bedfordshire countryside far from prying eyes – much of what is up and coming to EV Land has just been on display for a couple of days at the 8th annual Low Carbon Vehicles Show – LCV2015.
Here’s a quick spin around some of it — forgive the shaky camera work!
I’ve been to them all — as an exhibitor with Modec and then Ricardo — but this was my first year as a delegate and director of my own EV consultancy. Plenty of friends and familiar faces as well as many welcome newcomers — particularly pleased to bump into FIA Formula E’s Nicki Shields as she is very well wired into all the race research and development — a very exciting place to be right now!
Without doubt, this one was as buzzy as a beehive in the late summer sun. This was the best show so far.
As a veteran of a few EV conferences/exhibitions over the years… all too often, they are disappointing, in truth – déjà vu displays and exhibitor efforts getting a very poor return on investment with the feeble footfall. Not at this show! Without doubt, over the 2 days, deals have been progressed, purchase orders will now be actioned, and partnerships will emerge. Hopefully something comes my way too!
I sensed you could ‘touch’ a real tipping point for the electric vehicle et al movement as development programs that have been underway for several years now bear fruit. From small- and medium-sized enterprises to the vehicle manufacturers themselves (and all points in between), a bamboozling array of government-funded folk — more acronyms than you can shake a stick at as APC – UKTI – OLEV – BIS – KTN – LCVIP – all take to the stage to announce match-funded development programs and share some of the ROI to date.
The number of success stories now seems to be overtaking the funded failures of the past – with companies like Flybrid Automotive, Oxis Energy, and Magnomatics, to name just a few.
The Ride & Drive opportunities on offer were too good to miss – so I didn’t (other than the Nissan Leaf, which I’m already very familiar with). A ride in an i8 is not to be sniffed at, and neither was a run out in the Toyota Mirai — sorry, I can’t share more material on that, but there is an embargo until early October apparently, and I promised….
As much as I enjoyed the cars, the Tevva Motors electric truck really took my fancy, as I remain a zealot for electrification of these chief polluters in quick time to stem the appalling urban death toll from tailpipe emissions. Delighted to hear that UPS are working with Tevva on that for a hybrid solution. I enjoyed a chat about it all with CEO Asher Bennett and Department for Transport Director for Energy, Technology & International Michael Hurwitz.
Another eye-catcher for me was the ishare – but before you get too excited about that, it wasn’t something picked off the Apple tree. This one is from Spanish outfit IDIADA. I was taken for a spin – slow spin – and my host explained the virtues of it all as we weaved in and around the ‘urban’ demo circuit. Electric. Shared. Low Cost. Last year’s LCV Show saw the launch of Gordon Murray Design’s Yamaha MOTIVEe – we are perhaps inevitably seeing variations on a theme with all this…
The supporting cast of the EVSE world were much in evidence – and whilst we all know that is due for a “shakedown,” the players who are likely to prevail are watching and waiting for their moment. It will come. It already has in some places of course.
This is by no means a complete review of all on offer, but I have left what I believe to be the best till last. JLR. Yes Jaguar Land Rover!…
Despite CEO Dr Ralf Speth appearing very long term on electric vehicles in recent comments, I think they are about to surprise many people – myself included! The Evoque E project has scanned a number of technologies within a platform strategy over the past couple of years, and 3 cars were at the show – MHEV, PHEV, and BEV. Whilst the JLR people were telling me that all 3 cars are merely test prototypes and unlikely to come to market before 2020, I could see much merit in launching an all-electric Range Rover Evoque with a 70kWh battery and 200+ mile range — sometime within the next 12–24 months. In fact, I’ll stick my neck out here – they will! Reports earlier this year suggested Magna Steyr might build future vehicles on their behalf as JLR’s UK plants are close to full capacity, and if you are wondering where you’ve heard that company mentioned before, it’s been linked to the Apple electric vehicle ambition.
If I can be so bold as to offer JLR some advice…
Take a lead from Tesla and offer a concurrent product and charging proposition to your customer. Oh, and incorporate wireless charging amongst it all.
So, I feel energised this week-end, but well aware that the long and winding road of vehicle electrification has only just begun of course.
In the meantime, if you can get to LCV2016 next September, I’d recommend putting it in your schedule today. I’ve got to admit it’s getting better – getting better all the time!
A recent poem from an early career mentor of mine keeps me on track:
The road to success is paved with tests,
So you’ve got to believe in yourself above the rest.
Dream big, and let your passion shine,
If you don’t, you won’t end up with a dime.
Challenge the status quo, disrupt the market and say YES!
And remember that innovation is an endless quest.
Don’t forget to change business for good,
If you want to change the world then you should.
If you think with your head and listen to your heart,
I promise you’ll get off to a flying start.
Make bold moves, but always play fair,
Always say please and thank you – it’s cool to care.
Do what you love and love what you do,
This advice is nothing new.
Now, stop worrying about whether your business will be a hit,
Rise to the challenge and say ‘screw it, let’s do it!’
Sir Richard Branson
Thanks for reading! As always with my write-ups, feel free to share….