Cenex Low Carbon Vehicle Show
Cenex is an annual event, now in its tenth year which takes place at Millbrook, near Bedford about an hour and half's drive north from Gatwick Airport. It brings together leading companies and agencies in the green automotive sector. Its principal focus is transportation looking at future technology, manufacturing technology, energy storage and intelligent mobility. As well as being an exhibition, it also provides an extensive program of seminars.
I arrived at Gatwick airport after a quick flight on Aurigny, Guernsey's airline. I had pre-booked a hire car through Avis using their 'preferred' service but on this occasion deferred service might be more apt as the pick up process was only marginally quicker than the regular queue. I picked up a plain, little Korean car which rather reminded me of the Fiat Uno I had in my younger days, in terms of driving experience. You know you've been driving an electric car for a while when you find yourself stalling in very slow moving traffic on account of the need to once again get attuned to mobilising the left foot to activate the clutch. It feels like a step back in time, rather slow and jerky. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy
driving a classic car with manual gears on an open road but it just seems to be a rare occurrence these days. Incidentally, Jaguar Land Rover have just announced the re-birth of the E-type with electric drive but what will happen to the gear stick? Electric motors have instant power without the need for multiple gears so perhaps it will just be there for nostalgic purposes.
I headed north along the M25 and and M1 to Cenex which is set in the imposing grounds of the Millbrook Proving Ground, the number one test track for low carbon vehicles in Europe. After a short trip in an electric double-decker bus, we arrived at the entrance to the LCV show.
Cenex consists of two halls and an exterior section
called the steering pad with around a hundred exhibitors. The main halls have organisations showing everything from clean fuel systems to electric vehicle charging systems and autonomous vehicle systems. Also with a strong presence, are a number of UK government sponsored projects being overseen by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles which is investing £1 billion to place the UK at the forefront in the development, manufacture and use of alternative fuel vehicles.
The Steering pad is the testing ground with some of the main auto companies present including VW with its EGolf and hybrid GTE and Passat, BMW with the i3 and i8. Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and Toyota were present with their R&D departments. London taxi were showing the brand new British built TX5 electric cab which looks identical to the existing black cab but is the first battery electric range extended London taxi cab. A number of tuning companies were present such as Mahle, and specialists like Amplifii which is an innovation project focused on Battery architecture funded by the UK Office for low emission Vehicles. Iveco was present with their alternative fuel commercial vehicles including a natural gas articulated lorry and electric box van, the only one currently available in the UK. These vehicles are targeted mainly at cities and zero emission zones. Tata Motors European Technical Centre were displaying an electric car Concept, the Bolt EV. Saietta Engineering were showing their electric motorcycles. There were a number of other research projects for hydrogen and battery technology.
A driverless shuttle Pod was on display from Westfield Sportcars. This was a four seat
version with a 6 seater being developed for an on demand service. Its slim dimensions would certainly be an asset in the Channel Islands! The company have been successfully operating a POD at terminal 5, Heathrow since 2011. This British company are also developing autonomous road sweepers, electric cars and even electric jet skis!
Inside the halls, there were a number of electric vehicle charge point providers and electric mobility specialists showcasing their products for example streetlamp chargers which are new to the market, new increasingly powerful public EV charge points with a load capacity up to 150 kW intended for motorway service station and high traffic locations.
Overall, this show is a real eye opener for anyone interested in vehicle technology and where the future is taking us; www.cenex-lcv.co.uk