Earlier this month the global bicycle industry assembled in Taiwan for its annual pre-season bash. ExtraEnergy was there and used the opportunity to stage a number of events. Among them the LEV Conference, announcement of the Pedelec Award winners and EnergyBus Workshop. Once again, the Test IT Track was a crowd-pleaser at the Taipei Cycle Show.
Every year just before the start of the new season players in the bicycle industry meet at the Taipei Cycle Show in Taiwan to exchange ideas, visions and views. In the days before the Taipei Cycle Show ExtraEnergy brought industry players together at the LEV Conference, where views about long-term trends, market development and technological change were exchanged.
The completed communication protocol 1.0 was unveiled and discussed at the EnergyBus Workshop. The standard is finally market-ripe and ready for application. Developers were invited to use it and so help the global industry move in the direction of a uniform language.
The EnergyBus standard consists of a protocol (based on the machine language CAN Open) and a family of plugs, currently being developed by Rosenberger.
The EnergyBus standard is available to anyone. The only precondition: you must be a member of the organization. Among the existing members are Bosch, Panasonic, BionX, ODU, Singatron, Clean Mobile and Winora.
>>Report about the EnergyBus Workshop
>>Join EnergyBus as adopter member
On 14 and 15 March the LEV industry assembled in the Science Park of Hsinchu to exchange information about markets, technology and trends.Extra chairs had to be carried into the hall to accommodate all of the roughly 70 decision makers who came from Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, China, Taiwan, India, France, US, Canada and the catastrophe-shaken Japan.
The conference was opened by Hannes Neupert, head of ExtraEnergy, who forecast global annual sales of LEVs to reach 1.6 million by the year 2018. He said he expected the electric vehicle to eventually replace the normal bicycle in the same way the PC replaced the typewriter and the washing machine the washboard.
Han Goes, representative of QSquare Consultants, was another very bullish speaker, who said he expected the future of transport to be electricity-driven. But, future vehicles won't look like today's bicycle. Rather, their appearance will be determined by the demands of new segments of consumers.
The lithium battery had contributed to the success of e-vehicles to date, but whether it will still be around in future, will depend on how recyclable it proves to be. Assuming 300,000 new units of electric batteries are sold in Germany annually between now and 2018, the total weight of these batteries will amount to 900 ton by 2018, said Peter Gutzeit, managing director of the firm IB-Rec. Recyclability will thus be crucial to its success.
Hannes Neupert and Matthias Baumann of TÜV Rheinland informed the gathering about BATSO, a safety standard for batteries which goes beyond the UN Transport controls to include safety control during use.
Maxcell introduced new battery technology, specifically aimed at LEVs as outdoor vehicles. The cells of these batteries can handle major temperature swings. Samsung SDI presented its new round cells, optimized for safety and current strengths, and opening up new possibilities for packing the cells.
The conference-goers agreed that test-rides were still the best way to introduce and promote e-vehicles to consumers. In Japan Panasonic has been inviting their clients to test-ride their products since the 90s. ExtraEnergy operates its Test IT Track successfully all around the world. One of its test tracks makes regular appearances at the Taipei Cycle Show.
Taipei Cycle Show 2011
This year's show was characterized by moderate growth rates and cautious innovation in the LEV field. A total of 984 exhibitors were present (6% more than last year). They hailed from 36 countries. Altogether 5,701 visitors attended the trade fair. That was 10.5% more than last year. The visitor boost came mainly from mainland China.
Japan's threatening nuclear meltdown kept mostly the Japanese, French and Germans away from the fair. This enabled the South-Koreans and Americans to slip into the list of Top 5 visiting countries. About half of all visitors (50,6%) came from Asian countries. This prompted TAITRA media spokesperson Andrea Wu to describe the fair as a "springboard to the Asian market".
To find innovations, one had to go from stall to stall. ExtraEnergy managed to convince a few owners of prototypes to release them for test-rides on the Test IT Track. One of the most interesting innovations came from US firm Motor Excellence in the form of a motor control sensor unit, which was very powerful. Even vehicles with turning handle acceleration was powerful enough to effortlessly climb the 100-meter long ramp in the park house, which was part of the Test IT Track.
Recently Nicolai, known for its high-quality frames, unveiled a fork for the LEV industry. It's prototype boasted a Bosch motor, new Gates belt-drive and NuVinci gearshift (rumoured to be automatic). Unfortunately, the bike was not available for test-rides.
A pedelec with belt-drive and HESC motor by Suntour created lots of interest, but no-one was able to test-ride it. A new vehicle built by Höganäs, a newcomer to the LEV industry from Sweden, could be tested as much as the heart desired. This firm originally traded in metal-powder.
JD Components officially presented the first TranzX PST bottom bracket motor on the show, without releasing it for test-rides. That made JD Components the first motor manufacturer with front-, middle- and rear-mounted motors.
>>Our photo gallery (on Facebook) of LEVs at the Show
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Copy: Nora Manthey
Translation: Christoffel Volschenk
Photos: Andreas Törpsch
23 March 2011