First response vehicles go electric

5 min read

A new hybrid emergency services First Responder vehicle incorporating a revolutionary aerodynamic concept and devised in conjunction with the Police is another step on the path to electrification and tackling climate change.

When we consider electrification of road transport, the tendency is to think primarily in terms of private vehicles, followed by public transport and haulage. But this type of thinking often ignores the vast array of vehicles on our roads, all of which will have to be migrated from the internal combustion engine to other, more environmentally-friendly models.

Among these, of course, are emergency vehicles, which as well as being environmentally-friendly also face the additional demand of being constantly available and able to to reach their destination quickly and efficiently. This is why White Motorcycle Concepts [WMC] has unveiled a revolutionary new electric hybrid scooter – the WMC300FR. The bike is designed specifically for use as a fully operational first response vehicle that will help bring emergency services into line with new national objectives to combat the effects of climate change and cost reduction.

The pioneering British engineering company, founded by Chief Executive Officer Rob White and based in Northamptonshire, has based the WMC300FR on the same patented technology central to its all-electric WMC250EV high-speed demonstrator with which it intends to break the world electric land speed record over the next 12 months. In the case of First Responder however, the key objectives are not so much to achieve ultimate speed as to significantly increase range and viability while reducing CO2 footprint and running costs for emergency service fleets.

The WMC300FR is the second major project of many that White Motorcycle Concepts has in its pipeline. This project will deliver a proof of concept aerodynamic device, incorporated into a city motorcycle that under real world conditions, will deliver significant advantages over current production models, enabling electrification.

WMC has completed substantial feasibility studies delivering the data required to more than prove its potential. The performance benefits these studies highlighted are between 15-20% efficiency improvement against the equivalent city motorcycle.

With range limitations and battery cost being the main concern of electric vehicle ownership, the WMC300FR addresses this major problem. The benefits for both speed and efficiency of energy use have serious potential to disrupt the market as we know it.

The three-wheeled scooter, developed in conjunction with Northamptonshire Police, and with the cooperation and guidance of the Northants force’s Chief Constable Nick Adderley – the Motorcycle Lead for UK Police – is the result of nearly three-year’s worth of research into pioneering drag reduction aerodynamics. This, paired with the latest generation of hybrid technology, can reduce carbon emissions by up to 50% of that of comparable conventional motorcycles and scooters.

The First Responder features WMC’s patented Venturi Duct, which reduces drag by pushing air through the vehicle, rather than around it. This system is aided by aerodynamic front fenders, which funnel the air towards the venturi, reducing overall frontal resistance and meaning less energy is required to propel the vehicle forward.

The Patented concept, an unrestricted duct through the centre of a motorcycle, has been incorporated into this motorcycle, significantly reducing drag, enhancing performance and fuel efficiency, reducing CO2 by 50% against a similar performance motorcycle.

The scooter is based on the Yamaha Tricity 300 and uses the same 292cc single-cylinder four-stroke motor, but the WMC300FR features hybrid power assist utilising two robust & proven 56V 12Ah detachable lithium ion batteries from industry leader - EGO Power+. These unique & innovative batteries can be fast charged in multiples of 6 from a standard three-pin plug, removing the need to wait during re-charge. As well as removing the need for providing expensive charging infrastructure, the EGO detachable batteries also mean that the WMC300FR is always available for use.  They are robust and designed to operate in all conditions. Moreover, this feature ensures that the First Responder is ready to go into service long before the infrastructure is in place to cope with targeted legislation that will phase out all petrol and diesel-powered sales by 2030.

The project has been being supported by Innovate UK through the Advanced Propulsion Centre, enabling the concept to be designed, tested, redesigned and tested again.  The concept is being created in collaboration with EY3 (core engineering), Total Sim (CFD) and Engenuity (FEA).  Once the working demonstrator is created this will then be tested in real world environments at the world famous testing facilities of MIRA and Millbrook.

The First Responder’s up to 5kW power assist hybrid system works predominantly in the lower speed ranges of the vehicle, which improves acceleration and range and removes the need to use so much petrol until the venturi effect of the aerodynamics becomes prominent as the speed increases, maximising fuel saving. Because of the minimum width between the two front wheels, the scooter can also be ridden with anyone holding a regular car drivers’ license (in most countries).

In addition to the obvious ecological benefits for emergency service fleet managers to consider with the vehicle, this also significantly widens the accessibility to first responders, many of whom do not hold a motorcycle license.

Funded in part by government grants from the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles [OZEV], Advanced Propulsion Centre [APC] and Niche Vehicle Network [NVN], one of the most outstanding aspects of the WMC300FR First Responder is that it is a tangible example of the scheme paying back into the community through job creation, economic growth, tax savings and all while working towards a greener future.

Northants Police Chief Constable & UK Police lead for Motorcycles, Nick Adderley says: “COP26 showed that there is a will by all Governments around the World to reduce their CO2. We need to turn this will into action and lead by example. By adopting vehicles like the WMC300FR we are able to show the World what is possible and how innovation can be part of the solution for CO2 reduction without compromising our functional role in society. As well as meet the green agenda we also need vehicles that are fit for purpose and what we see in the WMC300FR is one of the first vehicles that can achieve both these aims. We are only 2 fleet cycles away from having to meet the targets set by central government and so I am delighted that we have started those conversations now, with the WMC300FR. As the national Police chief lead for motorcycling, it is incredible to have been involved in this project from the off, incorporating what we needed in a first responder vehicle. One of the things that I was really clear on in our initial discussions was that the motorcycle should have presence and stand out in our community Policing, provide accessibility to officers and be reflective of the professionalism of the police service, the WMC300FR ticks all those boxes. I think that introducing the WMC300FR will make a real difference and I know that this will be welcomed by the police service.”

WMC CEO Rob White said: “We were encouraged by the great reception the launch of our WMC250EV high-speed demonstrator and the high level of interest that the project has subsequently gained. Whilst our concept in its most extreme form will help us go faster, its real-world application is all about improving range and reducing down time – major considerations in the electric vehicle industry at present.

“As the recent COP26 summit highlighted, we are still at the beginning of a revolution in aggressive carbon reduction and this global shift in thinking presents a unique opportunity to think radically about motorcycle design, finding the most efficient and cleanest way to power the future of transport. I am delighted to reveal our first product, the WMC300FR, which we have developed specifically for the first responder market. As well as the duct there are a whole host of innovative features that mean the motorcycle reduces CO2 by up to 50%. For us this is just the starting point and we will continue to innovate to accelerate the de-carbonisation of the automotive sector.”

 

 

The V-Air

The mass-market motorcycle form has not really changed since Hildebrand & Wolfmüller introduced the first series production motorcycle in 1894.  Whilst the last 100 years have seen significant aerodynamic drag reductions in cars, attempts to improve motorcycles aerodynamic efficiency have been, to date, less successful. Despite a motorcycle using nearly all its energy to overcome aerodynamic drag at 100kph (Canada Moto), there’s little focus in this area and no current design close to the V-Air.

The V-Air is a patent granted (UK) and pending (Europe, USA & Japan) proven technology that reduces the motorcycle’s aerodynamic drag by 69% (in its most extreme form).  Without changing the rider experience, increasing downforce and stability this simple solution is the Holy Grail in motorcycle efficiency enhancement.  Whilst the trajectory of battery technology improvement is steep there is still a distance to parity with existing models, particularly at high speed and acceleration the aim is to have this technology incorporated into all motorcycles and facilitate mass market acceptance of electric motorcycles.