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Transport overview

Transport Overview No. 57

Transport Overview No. 57


A unique overview by the Centre d’analyse stratégique written by Christine Raynard, Department of Sustainable Development.

1) A Chinese farmer has presented a prototype of the world's first electrical car powered by wind energy through a propeller placed in the front of the vehicle. It can reach a top speed of 113 km/h and travel distances up to about 140 km.

2) The American company Terrafugia has completed an initial flight test of its flying car called "Transition."
The prototype flew a total of eight minutes. On the road it can be used as a car by folding the wings and is 2,30 m wide, which allows it to park in normal car locations. When the wings are spread for flight, it is 8 m wide, 6 m long and weighs 440 kg. To fly, it needs a 762 m long runway to take off. It can fly at a maximum speed of 185 km/h, but can only drive 105 km/h given its small wheels and engine.

Equipped with retractable wings, the two-seater has a single 100 hp rotary engine for driving and flies with a single propeller. Its interior looks more like a car than an airplane with a dashboard with dual screens, but the flying handles give away its flying capabilities.

It’s estimated to cost about 300,000 dollars (240,000 euros). Transition can be reserved for 10,000 dollars (8,000 euros) and will be introduced on the market within a year.

3) The French company Voliris presented a draft of an airship, the V901, designed to be an alternative to traditional modes of goods and freight transportation. The ship is 37 m long, 7 m wide and 5 m high. It can reach a speed of 150 km/h, whereas traditional airships have only reached 80 to 100 km/h.

For Voliris, the machine represents a promising solution for the airline since it doesn’t depend on oil and only needs simple ground infrastructure. The company is targeting sparsely populated, inaccessible areas by sea, rail or road.

In the start (within the next 10 years), the V901 will use diesel and helium and should be able to transport containers weighing up to 32 tons. Ultimately, the goal is to use hydrogen for both for lifting and driving the airship. In this case, to avoid risks of fire the aircraft would fly unmanned.

The development cost of the first aircraft is estimated at 300 million euros, but the target price is one euro per ton/km. A first flight is scheduled for the second half of 2012.

4) The German railway operator Deutsche Bahn (DB), in partnership with Deutsche Telekom (DT), is developing a car sharing system.
DB will use DT’s mobile network for locating, booking and making available vehicles. Car rental and billing will happen on a mobile phone. Discussions are underway with automakers wishing to join the project.

A pilot project is already underway in Friedrichshafen on Lake Constance.

Meanwhile, DB and Renault are working on a flexible system of car sharing in Berlin using electric vehicles called "Twizy". They have made it possible to return a borrowed car to another place in town than where it was rented.

Les ressources


Centre d’analyse stratégique