STUTTGART, August 24 -- Elon Musk has talked about making an electric Tesla Van for a while, Volkswagen has teased the return of its iconic bus as an EV.
But Mercedes-Benz beat everybody to the punch in this critical segment with the 2020 Mercedes-Benz EQV—an electric van that seats up to eight and runs a claimed range of over 200 miles. At least in Europe. Mercedes-Benz showed off a “concept” version of the EQV previously, but it was rather obviously very close to production-ready. That’s backed up now that we have the real deal just in time for this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show next month.
The press release only talks about the public charging network services in Europe, so it may be unlikely we’ll be getting this electron-powered van Stateside, but you never know. That said, the EQV has a 90 kWh battery pack centrally mounted under the floor of the van, offering a claimed preliminary range estimate of 405 km, or roughly 250 miles on a single charge. The van is driven by a single motor on the front axle with an output of 150 kw, or 204 horsepower, and 362 nm of torque, or just about 267 lb-ft. On a 110 kw public DC rapid charger, the Mercedes claims the EQV can charge from 10 to 80 percent of its battery capacity in around 45 minutes. On an AC charger, like a standard public parking charger or using the Mercedes-Benz Wallbox Home 11 kW charger that can be installed in your house, the battery should charge in less than 10 hours. The EQV picks up a little bit of the exterior design language of the EQC crossover, and inside it gets some rose gold accent touches and adaptable seating with optional bench seats, which means you can shove up to eight people in this thing. The EQV is nice and acceptable because it’s just an electric version of the regular Mercedes-Benz van, so it’s very practical. EVs do not all need to be fancy! Just zoom around town without contributing to localized pollution! And now it can. In Europe.
LONDON, August 24 -- The world’s first solar farm to power a railway line directly is due to plug into the track near Aldershot, paving the way for solar-powered trains.
From Friday, about 100 solar panels at the trackside site will supply renewable electricity to power the signalling and lights on Network Rail’s Wessex route. The 30kW pilot scheme could pave the way for a larger project capable of directly powering the trains that use this route from next year. The solar breakthrough comes as Network Rail plans to spend billions of pounds electrifying rail lines to avoid running trains on diesel. This could help reduce air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and costs. Solar panels are already used to power the operations of train stations, including Blackfriars in central London. But the Aldershot project is the first time a solar array will bypass the electricity grid to plug directly into a railway’s “traction” system.
Network Rail hopes to use the scheme, developed by the charity 10:10 Climate Action and Imperial College London, to solar-charge its rail lines across the country. Stuart Kistruck, a director for Network Rail’s Wessex route, said: “We have ambitions to roll this technology out further across the network should this demonstrator project prove successful, so we can deliver a greener, better railway for our passengers and the wider public.” The research team behind the project, called Riding Sunbeams, estimates that solar could power 20% of the Merseyrail network in Liverpool, as well as 15% of commuter routes in Kent, Sussex and Wessex. There is also scope for solar trams in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Nottingham, London and Manchester, according to the team. The researchers began work on the plans over two years ago to discover whether bypassing the electricity grid could make solar power a more efficient energy source for trains. Innovate UK awarded the project funding from the Department of Transport after it proved that connecting solar power directly to rail, tube and tram networks could help meet a significant share of their electricity needs.
TOKYO, August 23 -- Toyota Motor Corp. said Friday some 90 percent of around 3,700 vehicles and mobility devices it will provide to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will be electrified, as it seeks to showcase its advanced low-emission technology at the world event.
Of the total, 1,350 units will be either electric or fuel-cell vehicles that produce no carbon dioxide when running, while the rest will be hybrids and plug-in hybrids powered by electric-gasoline engines, Toyota, a sponsor of the Summer Games, said. With the lineup to be used to transport athletes, officials and spectators to and within venues, Toyota said it can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by over 50 percent compared with when the entire fleet was made up of conventional gasoline and diesel models. The official fleet will include more than a dozen box-shaped autonomous electric vehicles, 500 Mirai, the world's first mass-produced fuel-cell car, 200 cart-like EVs specially designed for the games that can be used by people with impairments, and 300 standing-type mobility devices for use by security and medical staff, Toyota said. Fuel-cell vehicles are powered by electricity generation through a chemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen, a green system that Toyota has long been focusing on as a promising future technology.
GUAYAQUIL, August 22 -- Looking after the environment is paying off in Ecuador, at least for public transport users in the business hub of Guayaquil.
A new scheme aimed at combatting garbage and pollution allows people to exchange recyclable plastic bottles for money to buy bus tickets. The port city, in Ecuador's south-west, is the second-most populous city in the country with 2.7 million inhabitants, but it generates the most waste. Passengers who use the city's bus transit system, Metrovia, are now queueing at a newly installed machine, waiting to unload their plastic bottles for two cents each, which they can spend on public transport. "Imagine: Two cents (a bottle), for 15 bottles you get 30 cents, that's already a Metrovia ticket," said bus passenger Cristian Cardenas. It is proving more profitable than selling the bottles to a recycling centre, Washington Bravo told AFP. The 76-year-old pensioner lives outside Guayaquil, a US$9 (S$12.45) taxi ride into town. He makes the walk once a week, collecting plastic bottles from garbage cans and the streets along his way. Guayaquil produces 4,200 tonnes of waste a day, only 14 per cent of which is recyclable. "The city is full of corruption and dirty. Before it wasn't like this, it was cleaner," he said.
KUALA LUMPUR, August 22 -- As many as 20 flights, including by Emirates and ANA Holdings Inc, from Kuala Lumpur International Airport are delayed after check-in and baggage systems were disrupted from Wednesday night (Aug 21).
Both the main and the low-cost KLIA2 terminals were affected by disruptions that brought down the flight information display, check-in counters, baggage handling and Wi-Fi connection, airport operator Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) said in a statement. “Since the disruption, our team has been working round the clock, not only to rectify the situation, but also to minimise the inconvenience caused to passengers. “The disrupted connection has affected several airport systems such as WIFI connection, Flight Information Display System (FIDS), Check-In-Counters, Baggage Handling Systems (BHS),” it said. Malaysia Airports said all relevant airport staff have been deployed to assist passengers on the ground as we expect the situation to continue throughout the day today. It advised passengers to reach the airport at least four hours before their flight departure time and to check with the airlines for the latest flight schedules. The airport operator said it will be issuing further updates on the situation either through its social media platforms or news releases.
“Meanwhile, do reach out to our Airport CARE Ambassadors or contact 03-8776 2000 if you require information regarding your flight details,” it said.
TOKYO, August 21 -- A bullet train running at a speed of 280 kilometers per hour had a door open during its journey from Sendai in northeastern Japan to Tokyo on Wednesday, but no passengers were injured, its operator East Japan Railway Co. said.
The incident in the morning lasted 40 seconds, with the door being completely open at one point, and is a rare occurrence for the Japanese shinkansen known for its safety and punctuality.
The problem was caused by a cleaner who forgot to close the car's device that manually opens and closes doors, the train operator said. The conductor of the Hayabusa No. 46 bullet train made an emergency stop inside a tunnel in Shibata, Miyagi Prefecture, after seeing indications the ninth car's door was open. The train resumed its journey 15 minutes later after a checkup. The crew did not notice the cleaner's mistake as the door was closed when the train left Sendai at 10:15 a.m. It is thought to have opened later. Around 340 passengers were aboard the train but nobody was standing near the door. The bullet train arrived at its final destination 19 minutes late. The problem delayed seven shinkansen services up to 28 minutes, affecting around 3,300 passengers. The transport ministry urged JR East, which initially said the door was closed, to prevent a similar incident.
ROTTERDAM, August 19 -- The Maastunnel in Rotterdam reopened again in both directions after two years of renovations.
During the work, the tunnel was closed in the direction of Rotterdam-Zuid. Since 6:00 a.m. on Monday morning, traffic can fully use the tunnel again, Dutch media reported. The renovation to the tunnel started in July 2017. In the two years that followed, concrete rot was dealt with on the roadways and the floor beneath, and the technology in the tunnel was updated so that it meets the latest safety requirements. The two sides of the tunnel were tackled in turns. One of them always had to be open in a northerly direction, in order to keep the city center and Erasmus MC accessible. The Maastunnel has been connecting the banks of the Nieuwe Maas for some 75 years and is the Netherlands oldest tunnel. The renovations on the tunnel is not yet complete. From December on the Maastunnel will be temporarily closed for pedestrians and cyclists.
COPENHAGEN, August 15 -- Shipping group A.P. Moller-Maersk (MAERSKb.CO) on Thursday posted second-quarter profit above expectations and reaffirmed its full-year guidance.
But Maersk also warned a trade war between the United States and China could hurt the container sector. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) totalled $1.36 billion (1.13 billion pounds), topping the $1.24 billion forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll. Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping company, said it still expects EBITDA for the full year to total $5 billion.
HONG KONG, August 15 -- The Hong Kong International Airport has successfully handled more than 1,000 flights since the reschedule of flights on Wednesday, after being seriously affected over the past few days by unlawful assemblies.
The operation of Hong Kong International Airport returned to normal on Thursday, the Airport Authority Hong Kong said. The airport has successfully handled more than 1,000 flights since the reschedule of flights on Wednesday, the airport authority said. The two previously-closed car parks were reopened on Thursday. The airport's operation had been seriously affected over the past few days by unlawful assemblies, with 979 flights being canceled, chief executive officer of the airport authority Fred Lam told a press conference on Wednesday. The airport authority said on Wednesday that it had obtained an interim injunction to restrain persons from unlawfully and willfully obstructing or interfering with the proper use of Hong Kong International Airport.
After the last bunch of demonstrators who stayed overnight in the arriving hall left on Thursday morning, there are no more demonstrators in the terminals. Checkpoints have been set up since Wednesday afternoon at different parts of the airport terminals to implement new security measures. Only airport staff and departing passengers with flight tickets or boarding passes for the coming 24 hours and valid travel documents will be allowed into the terminals.
TOKYO, August 14 -- Japan's weather agency said Wednesday that powerful Typhoon Krosa is set to make landfall in the west of the country the following day, warning of potential record rainfall, mudslides and floods.
Airlines and railway operators announced reduced services in regions near the storm's path, possibly disrupting millions of travelers returning to major cities following Bon holidays visits to their hometowns. The Japan Meteorological Agency said the typhoon, traveling at a speed of 20 kilometers per hour, had weakened from the day before but could still dump around 1,200 millimeters of rain on some eastern and western areas facing the Pacific. Japan Airlines Co. and All Nippon Airways Co. have decided to cancel a total of more than 300 domestic and international flights on Thursday. Low-cost carrier Peach Aviation Ltd. canceled 35 domestic flights on Thursday, as well as 13 international flights departing from and arriving at Tokyo's Haneda airport and Kansai International Airport. West Japan Railway Co. will suspend almost all of its shinkansen bullet train services. Services between Shin-Osaka and Kokura will be canceled, while those between Kokura and Hakata in Kyushu will be significantly reduced, the company said.
Central Japan Railway Co., an operator of shinkansen services between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka, and Kyushu Railway Co. said they will also cut their bullet train services. Shikoku Railway Co. said it plans to entirely suspend services in its area on the western main island. The season's 10th typhoon with an atmospheric pressure of 965 hectopascals at its center was packing winds of up to 144 kph as of 9 p.m. Wednesday, the agency said. In a valley in Kusu, Oita Prefecture, a group of 18 people including children were stranded following the rise of a river, local officials said. Rescuers headed to the scene where the group was apparently at a barbecue, the officials said, adding there were no reports of injuries. The typhoon is approaching as Japan on Thursday will mark the 74th anniversary of its surrender in World War II, with memorial services including those in Ehime, Fukuoka, Kumamoto and Oita prefectures already canceled. The government will hold an annual ceremony at Nippon Budokan in Tokyo, but many relatives of the war dead from the Kyushu and Shikoku regions will be unable to attend the event. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned to Tokyo on Wednesday afternoon earlier than scheduled from his hometown in Yamaguchi Prefecture and attended a meeting on the typhoon with ministers at his office.