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This photo, from 2019, shows a Scania cargo e-truck being powered by overhead electrical power lines on the A5 autobahn in Germany.
Alex Kraus | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The U.K.’s Department of Transport has commissioned a consortium to look into the viability of using overhead wires to power long-distance trucks.

Headed up by construction and engineering group Costain, it includes companies such as Scania and Siemens Mobility, among others, and represents the latest example of how industry and government are trying to develop solutions focused on decarbonizing transportation.

In a statement issued earlier this week, Costain explained how the consortium had “proposed an ‘electric road system'” that would harness Siemens Mobility’s “eHighway” technology, which uses overhead lines to provide trucks with electricity. 

According to Siemens Mobility, when using the eHighway, “trucks can operate completely electrically and at the same time charge their batteries without using fuel.”

The funding has been delivered via Innovate UK, the U.K.’s innovation agency. Costain said it was hoped the study, which is due to last nine months, would act as “the forerunner of a scheme that aims to see the UK’s major roads served by overhead lines by the 2030s.”

Breaking things down, the team will focus on the electrification of a stretch of road between the South Yorkshire town of Doncaster, its airport and the Port of Immingham, on the east coast of England. 

While the U.K.-based project will be looking into the potential of using overhead wires to power road-based transportation, the tech has already been deployed in other parts of the world. Siemens Mobility says tests of the eHighway are underway in Germany on three public routes.

Sue Kershaw, Costain’s managing director for transportation, described the study as “another important step towards understanding how industry could work together to tackle one of the largest carbon emission producers in the country.”

News about the eHighway initiative comes at the end of a month in which the U.K. government said it wanted to create a net zero transport sector by the year 2050.

The above goal represents a major task. According to the government, transport was responsible for 27% of the U.K.’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2019. Breaking things down further, heavy goods vehicles accounted for 18% of emissions from road-based transport.

In a sign of how times are changing, a number of major companies are now attempting to develop solutions to the challenges posed by the electrification of larger vehicles.

Three major transportation firms, for instance, look set to work with one another on the development of a European charging network for “battery electric heavy-duty long-haul trucks and coaches.”

In a joint announcement at the beginning of July, Volvo, Daimler Truck and the Traton Group said they had signed a non-binding agreement related to the installation and operation of the network.

The goal is to set up a joint venture that all three firms would own an equal part of, with operations slated to commence in 2022.

As the number of EVs on our roads increases, extensive charging networks will need to be rolled out for all types of vehicles to meet increased demand and dispel lingering concerns around “range anxiety” — the notion that EVs aren’t able to undertake long journeys without losing power and getting stranded.

The electrification of long-haul, heavy-duty trucks and coaches poses its own set of unique challenges. As the International Energy Agency’s Global EV Outlook for 2021 notes, “long-haul trucking requires advanced technologies for high power charging and/or large batteries.”

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Italy says that it’s illegal for Alfa Romeo to call its new EV the Milano

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Italy says that it’s illegal for Alfa Romeo to call its new EV the Milano

What’s an Alfa Romeo without a cool Italian-sounding name? The Stellantis-owned company is naming its first BEV after the famous city of Milan, but the Italian government is now playing hardball by saying that’s illegal since the car will be built in Poland. If it’s not made in Italy, it can’t sound Italian.

Alfa Romeo – the iconic Italian brand founded in 1910 – unveiled its first all-electric car this week, a small SUV dubbed the Milano. Stellantis has been at odds with the Italian government for months for what he says is its lack of support in EV adoption and not backing home-grown brands Fiat and Alfa Romeo, but the government says that moving production outside the country is a step way too far.

Italy’s industry minister Adolfo Urso, according to Automotive News Europe, slammed Stellantis for the decision to build the EV at the company’s Tychy plant in Poland – meaning the car will be the first Alfa Romeo to be entirely built outside of Italy. And if the electric vehicle isn’t built in Italy, it can’t carry an Italian-sounding name according to Italian law.

“A car called Milano cannot be produced in Poland. This is forbidden by Italian law,” Urso said, referring to 2003 law that prohibits any products being sold with Italian-sounding names that aren’t made in Italy. Yet somehow calling it the Tychy doesn’t have the same ring.

“This law stipulates that you cannot give indications that mislead consumers. So a car called Milano must be produced in Italy. Otherwise, it gives a misleading indication which is not allowed under Italian law,” he added, according to Automotive News Europe.

Urso is referring to a law that says it is illegal to falsely present a foreign-made product as coming from Italy, but has typically been invoked against food products, such as forbidding a US-made “Parmigiano Reggiano” cheese. France has similar laws protecting its products, such as prohibiting sparking wine be called “champagne” if it doesn’t come from the Champagne region of France.

The rationale for building the vehicle in Poland, according to Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares, is that it will shave off €10,000 from its retail price.

While pricing has yet been released, the new EV is based on Stellantis’s e-CMP platform, which powers its Jeep Avenger. A 54 kWh battery pack will deliver up to 250 miles of range, and in an urban cycle, it can get up to 366 miles of range.

Italy, home to some of the oldest, most polluting cars in Europe, is working (finally) to change that, with the government weighing a plan to put €930 million ($1 billion) into some enticing financial incentives to nudge drivers toward electric cars. This includes an incentive topping €13,750 to allow Italian citizens with an annual income lower than €30,000 to replace old Euro 2 models (meeting emissions standards set back in 1997) for new electric cars. An EV made is Italy is even better, of course.

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IEA downgrades oil demand growth forecast as prices heat up on elevated Middle East tensions

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IEA downgrades oil demand growth forecast as prices heat up on elevated Middle East tensions

An oil pumpjack is shown near the Callon Petroleum vicinity on March 27, 2024 in Monahans, Texas. 

Brandon Bell | Getty Images

The International Energy Agency on Friday downgraded its forecast for 2024 oil demand growth, citing “exceptionally weak” OECD deliveries, a largely complete post-Covid-19 rebound and an expanding electric vehicle fleet.

In its latest monthly oil market report, the IEA said it had revised down its 2024 oil demand growth forecast by around 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 1.2 million bpd.

The global energy watchdog said that it expected the pace of expansion to decelerate even further to 1.1 million bpd next year “as the post-Covid 19 rebound has run its course.”

The IEA’s report comes amid a rebound in oil prices on elevated Middle East tensions, with energy market participants closely monitoring the prospect of supply disruptions from the oil-producing region.

Iran, which is a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, has vowed to retaliate after it accused Israel of bombing its embassy in the Syrian capital of Damascus earlier this month.

The attack has ratcheted up tensions in a region already grappling with the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. Israel has not claimed responsibility for the attack.

International benchmark Brent crude futures with June delivery traded 0.8% higher at $90.45 per barrel on Friday at 9:30 a.m. in London, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures with May delivery rose nearly 1% to trade at $85.84 per barrel.

“We’re seeing the surge in [electric vehicle] sales, especially in China and also in Europe, really taking into gasoline demand, but also in the United States,” Toril Bosoni, head of oil industry and markets division at the IEA, told CNBC’s “Street Signs Europe” on Friday.

“There has been a lot of talk about sales not increasing as much as maybe was expected, but EV sales and increased fuel efficiencies in the car fleet is lowering gasoline demand, at least in advanced economies and particularly in China.”

Asked about some of the main concerns relating to oil supply security, Bosoni replied, “We are watching, obviously, the Middle East very closely. The continued tanker attacks in the Red Sea is of key concern, but also escalating tensions between Iran and Israel, and then we’re seeing tensions between Russia and Ukraine continue, with attacks on Russian refineries.”

“So, there are several tension points in the oil market today that we’re watching very closely that could have major impacts … if there would be any significant outages,” she added.

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Tesla unveils new Sport Seats to absorb Model S Plaid’s insane power

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Tesla unveils new Sport Seats to absorb Model S Plaid's insane power

Tesla has unveiled new Sport Seats for the Model S Plaid to absorb the electric supercar’s insane power better.

While it’s in the form of a family sedan, the Model S Plaid could easily pass as an electric supercar with its 1.99-second 0 to 60 mph acceleration.

That’s more power than anyone would need, but it is fun.

Some Model S Plaid owners even like to take the fun to the racetrack. When cornering, you can really feel the Gs on the racetrack.

Tesla’s Model S seats are comfortable, but they are not designed for super-spirited driving, which the rest of the vehicle enables.

Today, Tesla decided to address the issue with the release of new Sports Seats:

They obviously feature much more pronounced side support. Here are the main features of the seats:

  • Increased lateral support
  • Modular seat architecture for comfort & support, plus same 12-way power adjust, heating & ventilation
  • High performance suede for increased grip & reduced weight

Here’s another look at the new seats:

The seats are now standard for the $90,000 Model S Plaid and included on all cars built since the beginning of the month.

Electrek’s Take

We had known new sports seats were coming to the new Model 3 Performance, which is expected to be unveiled any day, but it makes sense that the Model S Plaid would get them first.

The vehicle’s level of performance deserves sports seats.

I am surprised that Tesla is making it standard rather than a paid option, but we’ll take it.

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