Monday, October 11, 2010

Commercial electric cars replace transport pods plan

Masdar, the Abu Dhabi Government's clean energy company, has put its plan for futuristic transport pods on the back-burner and will instead turn to commercial electric cars, executives said yesterday.

The personal rapid transport (PRT) system, a network of driverless electric vehicles, is in use at the Masdar Institute, the first stage of the city that was completed last month. But the technology would require further development to meet the needs of later stages of the city, said Dr Sultan al Jaber, the chief executive of Masdar.

"We're big believers in this technology," he said. "But today does it meet our requirements moving forward? No, not as it is today. "Has the PRT matured over the past three years? Absolutely. But the way to get it from where it is today at the Masdar project to where we want it to be, is going to take a little bit more time than our own design."Today we have access to electric vehicles that have developed very quickly over the past three years."

The emerging electric vehicle industry has accelerated, with the release of two battery-powered cars, the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf, due before the end of the year. Dr al Jaber confirmed that Masdar had begun talks with Daimler to co-operate on electric cars and said it would make use of developments by other UAE-based companies focused on clean technology, including Aabar, the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, known as Taqa, and IPIC. Alan Frost, the director of Masdar City, said the project ought to make use of these mass-market technologies instead of developing its own networks. "For Masdar to be a true learning experience it needs to be innovative but it also needs to be tapping into what's available in all the rest of the world," he said.

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