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Looking at the economic potential of electric mobility

Posted: 04 Dec 2013     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Munich Technical University  electric vehicle  electric mobility  smartphone 

A team of researchers from the Munich Technical University (TUM) has set up the "Virtual Electromobility among taxis and commercial vehicles in Munich" (VEM) field trial to evaluate the economic efficiency of electric vehicles. Smartphone apps acquire mobility data that will be used to determine, if a given mobility profile could be implemented economically with an electric vehicle.

The researchers equip conventional vehicles of fleet operators participating in the trial with smartphones that measure their mobility behaviour. Beginning early next year, the software developed by TUM's Institute of Automotive Technology will simulate the operation of an electric vehicle on each of the smartphones. The phones will record the exact location of the vehicle via GPS, along with driving behaviour such as acceleration, deceleration and turns. Once these driving data have been collected, the software will calculate the energy consumption for a fictional electric vehicle and display the charge status of a virtual battery.

In parallel to the simulation phase, the data calculated will be validated against a real electric car. "This will show various taxi and commercial operators that partial electrification of their fleet would not only be technical feasible, but would already today offer economic and environmental benefits," said engineer Benedikt Jager from TUM's Institute of Automotive Technology.

For the researchers, the biggest challenge lies in establishing the measures needed for electric vehicles to handle the considerable distances driven by taxis and commercial vehicles every day. Electric vehicles have different ranges, depending on their intended purpose. So, one of the important findings from the project will be the location of additional charging stations that would need to be installed on taxi and commercial routes.

This information would be of particular interest to the VEM project managers at Munich's urban utilities provider SWM and the central Munich transport organisation MVG, as they are in charge of expanding the charging station infrastructure for electric vehicles in the Munich area. Other partners involved in the project include the Munich taxi drivers' association and the chamber of commerce for Munich and Upper Bavaria. The VEM project is part of the "ICT for electromobility II-Smart Car-Smart Grid-Smart Traffic" electromobility research programme sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for the Economy and Technology.

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