Simulating an “EV city”

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Here’s an interesting question: how would a small city function if mobility were provided only by electric vehicles (EVs)? That’s a scenario a newly-formed partnership between Mitsubishi Motors North America (MMNA) and the University of Southern California (USC) through its Viterbi School of Engineering is going to try and determine.

The ungainly titled Mitsubishi Motors/USC Electric Vehicle Smart Grid Demonstration Project is designed to figure out how city infrastructure would need to change in order to accommodate widespread EV usage – and no doubt at some point such “usage” would include commercial trucks, not unlike those built by Smith Electric Vehicles, as they of course are required to move goods from place to place within urban centers.

Yannis Yortsos, dean of the USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering, said this unusual “Living Laboratory” program will simulate a city with a population between 50,000 to 60,000 citizens, tourists, visitors and two hospitals as they document their experiences operating a fleet of EVs under a wide range of conditions and simulations over a period of two years.

MMNA will be providing 12 of its i-MiEV EVs and several Level 2 EVSE charging systems to the program, and plans to consult with the USC throughout the course of the research program.

[The Australian arm of Mitsubishi Motors put together a nice YouTube video playlist describing the particulars of the i-MiEV and how EVs work in general. You can watch one of them below.]

Yoichi Yokozawa, MMNA’s president and CEO, said his company hopes to learn how to help craft a cost-effective EV infrastructure “game plan” for city operation – adding that some 30,000 i-MiEV and i-MiEV-based vehicles are already on the road around the world today.

Industrial giant Siemens, which is also a big player in the EV and hybrid propulsion market, came up with its own “future vision” of what cities based around EV-only transport might look like. It’s a bit far-fetched (especially where wind power is concerned) but it gives one ideas to chew on nonetheless.

It will be interesting to review the findings generated by the simulated “EV city” as the project develops over the next couple of years – especially how electric-only trucks figure into the picture. 

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