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A new research program initiated by VTT – Finland’s Research Center, named SMILE - Smart Mobility Integrated with Low-carbon Energy, set to commence in 2013, will focus on four corner stones for establishing low-carbon transportation; Low-carbon energy, Advanced vehicles, Smart transport services, and Transport systems. This program sees a continuation of VTT’s long standing research of future automotive technologies and their practical implications concerning wide spread adoption and carbon reduction.

VTT’s new program’s multi-themed research focus enables a truly synthesized overview of the requirements as well as the impacts of wide-scale electric vehicle adoption as a crucial component to ensuring the sustainability of future urban societies. Through this research program VTT builds on the research it is conducting within the Eco Urban Living initiative as a technological research partner, in collaboration with electric vehicle manufacturer Valmet Automotive.

SMILE also features an interesting focus on the ways in which today’s advanced information and communication technologies can not only increase consumer interest in electric vehicles by improving the EV driver’s experience, but also how such technologies can improve urban mobility in general, whether travelling by car or not.

Source: Research Professor Nils-Olof Nylund spoke with Good News from Finland! on January 3rd, 2013 about the SMILE program and its ambitious scope.

Chinese auto parts manufacturer Wanxiang Group won control of the bankrupt battery manufacturer, which provides batteries for the Fisker Karma among other electric vehicles, with its bid of $256 million (€198 million). The deal, which still faces an approval hearing in US courts, would see the Chinese firm take control of everything except the struggling battery makers’ US government businesses, which are set to be transferred to a new EV firm Navitas Systems for $2.2 million (€1.7 million).

The deal would allow A123 Systems to resume battery production and continue delivery of batteries to Fisker Automotive, whose production has been at a standstill since late November owing, in part, to the battery maker’s inability to continue delivery.

Source: NY Times article

Read more: Bloomberg report on A123's bankruptcy filing

In an effort to cut its transport emissions by 80% by 2018, the Finnish capital region’s local public transit provider Helsinki Region Transport (HSL), together with Veolia Transport, has begun a new trial program integrating electric buses into local traffic in Espoo. The initial pilot includes plans to test between four and six buses from a variety of different manufacturers, the first of which was taken into use on local Espoo route number 11 and comes from Portuguese manufacturer Caetano Bus.

The pilot program is scheduled to run through 2015 and will evaluate the various bus models’ performance under Finland’s severe winter conditions, particularly engine performance and battery life as well as comparing different alternative fuel options. Through the trial, HSL also hopes to gather commuter opinions and experiences of riding one of these new electric buses. The pilot supports HSL’s plans to have up to a hundred electric buses in use by the year 2018 and will help to identify the models capable of standing up to Finland’s rough climate.

Keep an eye out for one of these new buses and report back on your ride If you live in the Tapiola or Matinkylä area! You can get back to us on our Facebook wall or on Twitter!

Source: (English and Finnish) and (in Finnish)

According to a report from national news agency YLE, Finnish consulting firm, and leader of the electric vehicle development project Electric Traffic, Eera will gather together the nation’s leading electric companies to begin planning the development of a nationwide electric vehicle charging network. The project aims to increase the number of charging poles available from the current 150 EV charging points nationwide to, at least, one thousand charging poles. Furthermore, the group also aims to develop a simple, uniform means for billing drivers for the electricity consumed at these charging stations.

Source: Report on (in Finnish)

Back ground on the project from consulting firm Eera (in Finnish)

Fisker Automotive, makers of the luxury extended range EV Karma, have recently secured an additional $392 million in funding following a rocky early 2012, a period which saw the company lose a significant federal loan and struggle with limited production due to technical difficulties with the Karma’s battery. This latest round of additional financing now places the company in a sound fiscal position in advance of the imminent unveiling of its second EV project, codenamed the Nina, at the New York Auto Show.

Source: Interview with Fisker spokesman Roger Ormisher on the VentureWire