Olympics: Going for gold in E-mobility?


By URBACT, on August 9th, 2012

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Back in November Neil Earnshaw, Sustainable Mobility Manager of London 2012, was invited to talk to EVUE city partners. EVUE is one of the URBACT projects aiming at accelerating the uptake of electric vehicles in cities! Neil talked about the forthcoming challenges in hosting the world’s biggest event.

Now, midway through the Games, it seems that, so far,the organisers are succeeding in providing safe, secure and reliable transport for all visitors and in keeping the city and the UK moving.

In terms of electric mobility London 2012 offers an interesting showcase as one of the first large scale deployments of EVs (At the recent Rio Earth Summit a zero emission fleet transported UN delegates). BMW won the competitive tender to be the Tier 1 automotive sponsor of the Games, supplying a total of 4,000 low-emission diesel, hybrid and electric cars as well as motorcycles and bicycles to the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG).  LOCOG’s challenging average fleet emissions target of 120 grams CO2 per kilometre was set significantly below the UK total new car emissions average of 138 grams CO2 per kilometre / 54.2mpg.

200 electric vehicles are being deployed for the Torch Relay, the Marathon, and other Olympic Park operational roles. Models in use are Mini E, BMW 1 Series Active-E,non-standard production models and UPS Modec Vehicles. In a fun twist a number of miniature remote control E-MINIs- roughly quarter scale and specially designed for the Olympics -are being used to pick up javelins, discuses, hammers and other throwable items from the field events, saving time for athletes during the competition (See photo). General Electric and EDF have provided 120 Charging  Points at fleet depots and Charge Point Services has set up a bespoke software solution for monitoring and controlling them.

Several EVUE city partners voiced the view that a green Olympics should provide the opportunity to showcase a more diverse selection of clean vehicle suppliers, to publicise all the vehicles coming onto the market. The realities of the sponsorship framework give exclusivity to BMW, and this links to the on-going debates about balancing the interests of all stakeholders- the Olympic family,commercial sponsors,the host city and its citizens, as well as visiting participants and spectators. The wider legacy of the Olympic Games in London will not doubt be the subject of many further discussions.

Important for all those interested in sustainable mobility and the EV market is to be able to share the post Games evaluation data, to add to the already plentiful evidence that EVs perform well, also under the particular conditions and realities of the Games. This message needs to be well promoted to boost uptake of EVs.

The Games has also been a trigger to trial other anti- congestion measures, such as more home working to reduce regular commuter numbers, staggered event times, special lanes, road closures, and access and delivery restrictions for commercial and private vehicles. If these initiatives have been successful, which appears to be the case at the moment, then there are important lessons learnt about how to introduce and manage these often unpopular initiatives. They can become more permanent tools for London and other cities to use in future to achieve carbon reduction from transport.

Read more :
–    EVUE project mini-site – URBACT website
–    Low Carbon Urban Environments projects – URBACT website

Sally Kneeshaw
EVUE Lead Expert

3 Responses to “Olympics: Going for gold in E-mobility?”

  1. Segolene says:

    As regards to the sustainability of London Olympics, this article is interesting: http://sustainablecitiescollective.com/node/53001
    It’s an interview with Paul Deighton, Chief Executive of the London Organizing Committee.
    He quotes 6 major highlights : the sustainability of the Olympic Park as the largest new urban parkland in Europe for 150 years, the measurement of carbon footprint, the commitment to allow all visitors to reach the Olympic sites by public transportation or soft transport means, the sustainability of food catering, the commitment to deliver a zero waste to landfill game ( using e-use and recycling of materials in demolition and construction) and the set up of sustainability standards.

  2. faisal says:

    No matter what we say or believe about electric cars, there is very little doubt that they are the future, for sustainability.

  3. Governments and car companies should work towards bringing in electric cars in order to reduce pollution. Electric cars and plug in hybrid vehicles will be the way forward, but installing the required infrastructure for electric cars is the biggest challenge.

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