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Home > Getting around today > Two wheels

California, a paradise for sustainable mobility?

A street in San Francisco

California would appear to be taking the sustainable mobility issue to heart! We look at the American state’s latest projects to develop electric mobility.

Hit of the week


San Francisco, the city of fifty hills… Rather than promoting a classic bike-sharing system, the town hall, with the financial support of the Federal Highway Administration, has decided to launch an electric bicycle-sharing scheme. These are more efficient for cycling the heights of the city. The system will run in conjunction with City CarShare, which is the local car-sharing initiative. Innov’in the City specifies that 45 “e-bikes” will be put into service this year and that the system will be extended in 2013.


For those who are still hesitating about investing in an electric car, what’s more of an incentive than an express carriageway specially adapted to these vehicles? Once again, it’s in California that this idea will materialise. In fact, the Voiture du futur website tells that Edmund G. Brown, the Governor of the State, has decided to invest $120m (around £75m, at current rates) in the construction of an ‘electric motorway’ – an expressway fitted with charging infrastructure. The Governor aims to have 1.5 million electric vehicles on Californian roads by 2025.


As far as sustainable development is concerned, California is clearly at the cutting edge. It has once more demonstrated this, by organising a smart cities symposium on the 22nd March 2012, an event described in detail by the Agrion website. First on the agenda was a debate on the planning, financing and development of smart city initiatives between representatives of governments that are being innovative in such projects. Then the subject of “Big data” infrastructures was covered. This was followed by meetings between several specialists to discuss the subject of innovation in the transport sector.



Electric rollout in Europe


In order to facilitate access to charging terminals, and to therefore develop electric vehicle use, several German manufacturers (Bosch, Daimler, BMW, Siemens and RWE) have decided to form a partnership. What’s the aim of the agreement? Avem explains that it’s a matter of creating a common charging infrastructure network. Thanks to a subscription system shared by all the German operators, motorists will be able to charge their vehicles at any terminal identified by a specific sticker.


Flanders also wishes to promote electric vehicles in its territory. Indeed, RTL reveals on its website that Flemish roads are going to be fitted with 71 terminals by the EVA (Electric Vehicles in Action) project. More than just simple charging stations, in reality, these will be parking spaces able to accommodate any kind of electric vehicle, including bicycles!


Another great initiative is that of the Ecologic Vehicles & Renewable Energies International Conference & Exhibition (Ever), which was held between the 22nd and 25th March in Monaco. As is the case each year, the organisers unveiled the list of the vehicles available at the Ride & Drive 2012 on the 21st March. This is an event at which visitors are able to try out different electric vehicles. Le buzz auto reports that Renault’s Fluence and Kangoo models, and the Opel Ampera, winner of Car of the Year at the Geneva Motor Show, were spotted among the 37 cars being test-driven this year.


The electric vehicle represents a genuine area of innovation for automotive manufacturers. The Mobilités Intelligentes website thus reports that the Japanese manufacturer Mitsubishi is to launch its Power Box. This is a device that can power domestic appliances from the energy stocked in a car’s battery. With a 6-hour autonomy, the system plugs into the car’s charging connector. This new device is part of the “vehicle-to-grid” trend.



What are the immediate prospects for sustainable mobility?


The Themavision website has chosen to focus on French SMEs, the European leaders in the small electric vehicle market. Indeed, France accounts for 40% of purchases. The country got involved in the electric adventure back in 1996: since then, numerous calls for proposals made by the State or local authorities have encouraged the emergence of this network of innovative SMEs. The article presents the different companies in the sector, such as Volteis, mia electric, LUMENEO and Little Car.


Here is a new invention that proves ideas are bubbling concerning sustainable mobility: have you heard of Moduloscoot? Created by the company of the same name, this new urban electric scooter was designed to easily increase its capacity from two to four passengers, through the expansion of its wheelbase and the extension of its rear track width! Unfortunately it is not commercially available yet, but we hope it will be soon…


Innov’ in the City recently told us about the launch of the Covoiturama platform, which brings together all the French car pooling websites. In the face of sparse supply in terms of car pooling websites and heterogeneous demand from users, this website enables a simplification of this new, thriving ‘market’, clearing the way for interoperability.


Finally, we recommend reading this article on Innov’ in the City about disability and accessibility. Geoffroy Bing, a specialist in territorial forecasting studies and public service marketing, shows how accessibility infrastructures aimed at persons with reduced mobility are, in reality, genuine drivers of innovation.

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