The skyrocketing cost of driving

Lately I hear a lot of whining that fuel prices are skyrocketing, while the largest majority of cars sold still use petrol or diesel.

I think it is time to stop whining and start thinking and acting. FOD Economie have made a nice image to spark thinking.

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I have been driving an electric car for the last 7 years and can confirm that it is really much cheaper. By the way, I have managed to reduce the electicity cost for running my car by 75% (compared to what is shown) by installing solar panels on the roof of my house.
Image translation: Cost of driving a car 100km by fuel type, estimation for Q2 2022.

Electric car fires – an overblown issue

Lately electric car fires have been on the news a lot. I think the coverage is biased: if we look at statistics from insurance providers in the US, electric cars burn 61 times less often than regular gas cars.

Brussels transport company to experiment with self-driving vans

Ziegler, the same company that is experimenting with large cargo bikes here in Brussels, has announced that it is planning to bring self-driving vans of Udelv to Brussels.

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The driverless vans will be electric and monitored remotely. Like it is shown in the photo, the van is split into compartments. And each compartment has a hatch, which can be opened by the customer with a QR code.

The tests are said to start in a closed area at Zieglers Welkenraedt site later this year. But for a wider deployment new legislation in Belgium on the federal level will be required.

If this works in Brussels, it is a path for cleaner and cheaper deliveries. It would be exciting to see those vans on the streets.

Report: Economic Impacts of the Catenary Electric Road System Implementation in Flanders

We at University of Antwerp, Department of Transport and Regional Economics have finished the work on WP2 of Logibat project for VIL where we investigated the impacts the implementation of catenary ERS would have in Flanders, Belgium.

This research showed that catenary ERS has the potential to be developed into an economically sustainable and cheap way of decarbonising road freight transport. It offers considerable economic incentives for all involved stakeholders and is beneficial to the society as a whole.

The report can be downloaded here.

Video from Lübeck eHighway test site

The video by Tom Scott shot at the Lübeck eHighway test site shows the catenary trucks in action. He nicely explains the basic principles and also talks about the importance of return on investment for the infrastructure operator.

Visiting eHighway on A5 in Hessen near Frankfurt Airport

Last week was exciting. I had the opportunity to join a visit of the eHighway site in Hessen near Frankfurt Airport. A strech of motorway A5 there is equipped with catenary to supply trucks with electricity for propulsion.

Currently there are only diesel hybrid vehicles in service on that part of the motorway, but it is technically possible to equip other vehicles, e.g. battery electric, hydrogen fuel cell, LNG hybrid, for use on the eHighway network. My preliminary calculations for the Logibat project show that battery electric vehicles have the biggest potential. In the project we are investigating the socio-economic impact of implementing such catenary network in Flanders, Belgium.

I am confident this technology has a bright future for decarbonising road freight.

How long will it take to arrive? I think with catenary for road transport we are in the same development stage as with electric vehicles in 2011 when the first ones existed, you could see the advantages but there was no adoption yet. Today, when buying a new car, people think strongly if they are ready to be stuck with an outdated polluting technology, not being allowed to drive in cities for the lifetime of their car. With eHighway today looks like 10 years ago with EVs. The technology and standards are almost there, the economics say it is a logical choice, but there is no wider adoption yet. I think for road freight the economic incentive is stronger. But also, the governments have a role to play to allow this to happen. I hope it takes 10 years or less.

Some photos from the trip:

DISCLAIMER: All views expressed on this site are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity whatsoever with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated.