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Finnish firms are driving advances in mobility

Finland aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from road transport by at least 50 per cent by 2030.

Solar Motors

Finnish firms have announced projects that could shape how people move from one place to another, be it by air, land or water.

VR, the Finnish state-owned railway company, is taking over Arriva Sverige, the Swedish subsidiary of Deutsche Bank-owned Arriva.

VR on 24 March said the acquisition is an attempt to strengthen its market position in the urban transport sector and utilise its expertise to accelerate the electrification of bus transport in Sweden. By acquiring what is the third largest train operator and fourth largest bus operator in Sweden, the company is also implementing a growth strategy designed to set itself up to fare better in the newly de-regulated domestic market.

The Finnish state-owned company was stripped of its monopoly on passenger rail transport last year, opening the door for other operators to vie for rail routes in Finland.

Topi Simola, director of passenger services at VR, said Arriva Sverige has been a leader in quality in the rail market of Sweden, a market that is growing due to population growth, urbanisation and public investments in infrastructure and public transport.

“This will strengthen our competitiveness in the future rail competition also in Finland,” he affirmed. “Moreover, the acquisition offers us a scale advantage in electric bus development and purchases.”

VR, the Finnish state-owned railway company, is preparing for life after its monopoly status by acquiring Arriva Sverige, the third largest train and fourth largest bus operator in Sweden. Image: Kirsi Tuura / VR

Johan Lindgren, CEO of Arriva Sverige, described VR as a veteran in the transport business and a pioneer in climate-friendly commuter services that is able to provide great growth opportunities to Arriva.

“We look forward to the opportunity to utilise VR Group’s expertise and to developing our electric bus traffic together with VR Group,” he said.

Neste expands partnership that brought its sustainable aviation fuel to Japan

Neste in February reported that it is expanding its partnership with ITOCHU Corporation, the branded distributor of its sustainable aviation fuel at the two largest international airports in Japan, Haneda in Tokyo and Narita in Chiba.

“This partnership is a major step forward in making our sustainable aviation fuel available in the Japanese market,” commentedSami Jauhiainen, director of renewable aviation for Neste in Asia-Pacific.

“It underlines our commitment to working together with the aviation industry to achieve its emission reduction targets.”

According to Sami Jauhiainen, Neste is ready to support the Japanese and broader Asia-Pacific aviation markets in driving emission reductions. Image: Neste

Tsuyoshi Matsumoto, director of petroleum trading at ITOCHU, said the Japanese general trading company is excited to contribute to the aviation industry’s effort to reduce its carbon footprint by increasing the availability of sustainable aviation fuel in Japan.

The Finnish petroleum company estimated it will have the capacity to produce roughly 1.5 million tons of sustainable aviation fuel per year by the end of 2023. Its Singapore refinery will account for up to two-thirds of the total following the completion of its expansion in the first quarter of next year.

Neste produces its sustainable aviation fuel from sustainably sourced, fully renewable waste and residual raw materials. The fuel, it says, produces up to 80 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions over its life cycle than its fossil-based alternatives. As a drop-in fuel, it can be adopted without any investments or modifications to existing aircraft engines or airport infrastructure.

Driving advances on roads and water

Finland’s Valoe is developing higher-volume solar cells for Sono Sion, a self-charging solar electric car developed by Germany’s Sono Motors. Image: Sono Motors

Valoe, a Mikkeli-based developer of photovoltaic technology, in March announced it is moving on to the next phase of its co-operation with Sono Motors, a German company developing an electric solar car called Sono Sion.

Having begun co-operation to develop solar cells for the self-charging cars, the two companies will now begin building a series-validation vehicle fleet by running tests to determine the product equipment and process specifications for higher-volume solar cell assemblies. They have also started negotiations over a contract to deliver solar cell assemblies for almost 260 000 vehicles in the next seven years.

“This is an important step to make the world’s first affordable solar electric vehicle for the masses a reality,” saidMathieu Baudrit, solar technology lead at Sono Motors.

The Finnish company announced roughly a week earlier that it is embarking on a project to develop integrated solar systems for electric city ferries built by Eker Design, a part of Norway’s Eker Group. The Norwegian company is planning on manufacturing 100–200 ferries a year equipped with the systems.

“We are pleased to establish a new development project and especially happy about entering [into] a co-operation with Eker Group. This co-operation opens us an opportunity to develop something new for maritime transport,” statedIikka Savisalo, CEO of Valoe.

Basemark in February revealed it has had a significant role in developing “groundbreaking” augmented reality applications for iX, a new series of electric activity vehicles from BMW.

Basemark says BMW’s iX features a front-view camera that sends live footage to the curved central information display that is supplemented, using augmented reality, with interactive and intuitive arrows that show where the driver needs to go. Image: Basemark

The vehicles utilise sensor data and computer vision, enabling the presentation of augmented reality-enhanced information such as upcoming turning manoeuvres and lane recommendations on the central information display while navigation is enabled. The information helps the driver to interact with the vehicle and be more aware of the surroundings, thus increasing the ease, accuracy and safety of navigation.

“The BMW Group’s augmented reality-powered applications set a new standard for driver experience, comfort and safety,” declaredTero Sarkkinen, CEO of Basemark.

“We are delighted that Basemark’s leading automotive software know-how resulted in AR implementations that fulfilled the concept of the BMW Group and asset requirements with great technical feasibility and high performance.”

Charging to India, North America

Kempower in March revealed it is pursuing the certifications required to launch its electric vehicle charging products in North America.

The Lahti-headquartered company will deploy its electric vehicle chargers to the market to respond to growing demand for rapid-charging services from private and commercial vehicles alike. While the US has around 43 000 public charging stations and 120 000 charging points, the vast majority of them are alternating-current chargers rather than direct-current chargers that enable rapid charging.

The US is poised to become the world’s largest market for electric vehicles, highlighted Tomi Ristimäki, CEO of Kempower. The shift toward electric road traffic is supported by several clean-technology policies, including an infrastructure bill that set aside 7.5 billion dollars for charging infrastructure development in late 2021.

“We’re very excited to expand into North America,” stated Ristimäki.

Kempower will initially offer its C and S-series chargers in North America. Image: Kempower

The Finnish company recently also signed a deal that makes it an official supplier of rapid-charging equipment to Scania.

Fortum Charge & Drive and BSES Yamuna Power Limited (BYPL) in February launched what they say is the a first-of-a-kind pilot project on load balancing in India. The one-year pilot will focus on managing charging by balancing dynamic demand from electric vehicles with static load input in three smart chargers, with capacities ranging from 22 to 60 kilowatts, built and operated by Fortum.

The chargers will be deployed in Mayur Vihar Phase 1 Extension in New Delhi.

“This project will augment our efforts in laying a strong foundation to enable smooth functioning of EVs across the country by creating a widespread network of charging solutions that the vehicle owners and operators can rely on,” saidAwadhesh Jha, executive director of Fortum Charge & Drive India.

Jha added that the project partners hope to inspire other utilities to come forward and establish charging infrastructure without major investments.

As the electrification of road transport is picking up pace, developing the charging network has been identified as a priority also in Finland.

The Finnish Information Centre of Automobile Sector in February reported that plug-in vehicles – that is, fully electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles – made up roughly 30 per cent of the first registrations of passenger cars in 2021. The proportion is forecast to increase to 40 per cent in 2022, to 55 per cent by 2025 and to 66 per cent by 2030, resulting in a plug-in vehicle stock of 740 000.

The vehicle stock consisted of about 77 000 plug-in hybrids and 23 000 fully electric vehicles at the end of 2021.

“The proliferation of electric and gas cars could be accelerated further by supporting the charging infrastructure and offering more generous purchase incentives,” said Tero Kallio, managing director of the Association of Finnish Automobile Importers.

The Finnish Government has estimated that around 700 000 electric vehicles is required to reach its goal of halving emissions from road transport by 2030.

The Ministry of Transport and Communications in March observed that although the national charging network has grown significantly to a good level, some regional weaknesses persist particularly with respect to rapid and high-power charging.

“The number of charging stations for electric cars is growing as road traffic becomes increasingly electrified. We are now seeking flexible solutions to cover regional shortfalls in public rapid and high-power charging,” commented Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka.

“It has been a pleasure to hear about the plans that various operators have already formulated for developing the public charging infrastructure,” he added.

Originally published in March 2022.

By: Aleksi Teivainen