Among many solutions displayed at the March 2013 Geneva International Motor Show, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has unveiled the e-Co-Motion, a compact transporter concept vehicle powered by an electric drivetrain.
Spokesperson Dr. Eckhard Scholz explained: “Fully independent of existing models, the exterior of the e-Co-Motion is focused on finding the optimal balance between maximum space and minimal vehicle footprint.
“Electric mobility – especially in light commercial vehicles – could play a crucial role in meeting the growing [alternative] transport needs of the world’s megacities.”
“Freight trains and conventional or hybrid-powered high capacity lorries would deliver goods up to the city limits. Then, at transfer stations, smaller electric delivery vans would take over. Their predictable travel routes and fixed depots would simplify battery charging and equipment maintenance.”
Alternative transportation takes precedence at Volkswagen, when the need arises – no matter how unusual. We will explore a transparent (hint) example of this in a future story.
In case you wonder, why the Volkswagen-Audi Group is mentioned frequently — it’s because they provide me with unparalleled information.
The 2013 situation —a continuing quest by all automakers at the present time— exists as I write this; The following happened a generation ago - the connection will soon become clear:
Suddenly, the Arab oil embargo of 1973 changed automotive thinking. The increased cost of fuel encouraged research and development of more economical vehicles. The U.S. Department of Energy invited and tested electric and hybrid vehicles from various manufacturers. One of these hybrids became known as the “VW Taxi”. The “Taxi” used a parallel hybrid configuration, permitting easy switching between the gasoline engine and electric motor. The VW ‘Bulli’ micro-bus logged over 12,000 km on public roads, and was shown throughout Europe and North Americ; I remember seeing a vehicle with “Voltswagen” emblazoned on it in Toronto.
VW also hybridized one of the early Golf / Rabbit models, tested on this continent; it became known as the New York taxi.
As the oil crisis eased, and petroleum prices decreased to previous levels, people purchased lager ‘gas-guzzlers’ again.
The 1970s were the time when computers were first used to control the emissions from internal combustion engines, by regulating fuel delivery, ignition timing, and exhaust-gas after-treatment.
It takes five to seven years to develop a new model of any car or truck. To develop a new technology takes much more time, as is evident from present HEVs and fuel cell vehicles (FCV). Hybrid Electric Vehicle technology gained momentum, and the results are showing up in today’s showrooms and streets.
In 1975 the U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration began a program to advance hybrid technology. During that year AM General (later known as Hummer) sold three hundred and fifty-two electric-hybrid vans to the US Postal Service for short-run mail delivery. One year later, Congress passed the ‘Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development, and Demonstration Act of 1976’. The law’s purpose was to work with industry to improve batteries, motors, controllers and other hybrid-electric components. It took more than a decade to improve this technology, helped by the Space Program’s work to bring computers to a new level of efficiency and reliability.
In 1992 the Toyota Motor Corporation announced the "Earth Charter", a document outlining goals to develop and market vehicles with the lowest emissions possible.
The age of alternative transportation –as we understand it today– started to gain momentum.