Last night we tried to charge the car at Tom and Els’ place. Normally charging on 16A is allright, definitely in countries with a strong energy grid. However after a few minutes some lights popped out and we found that one of the fuses broke. We reset the fuse and tried charging on 10A, also that didn’t work. We switched to another group and with an extension cord we plugged in at the garden. From my sleeping room I could see the car’s dashboard light and checked it regularly. After half an hour I would check again and saw the dashboard light went out. I changed Tom’s extension cord with my own because it’s an industrial one. I thought it worked.
At breakfast next morning Tom told me that when he got up during the night he saw it was not charging. The car charged to 69% which was not enough to reach the destination for today which was Linköping. But that were worries for later.
With Tom I drove to Scania, his workplace. Scania is a carmaker specialized in trucks. The factory in Oskarshamn produces the cabines of the trucks, about 300 a day. When finished they are transported to Zwolle (Netherlands) or Angers (France) for assembly.
I was welcomed by few of Tom’s colleagues and journalists. They where all very interested in what I was doing. You can find one of the interviews here.
They took me inside and gave a presentation about what the company is doing on the terms of sustainability and e-mobility. And they are actually being very innovative. The company has the goal to become carbon-neutral, and for a carmaker that is something you hear not quite often. Of course this is not realized tomorrow but small steps eventually have to lead there. They are not just focussing on making their heave duty vehicles electric but trying to find alternative solutions, which I found very interesting.
One of the steps is ‘platooning’, automated driving for fuel saving. An intelligent system makes trucks communicate with each other. On the highways trucks will form a line and they will automatically keep the ideal distance. By doing this the aerodynamical drag reduces significantly which saves fuel. Even the truck which leads the platoon becomes more energy efficient because normally the truck will drag vacuumed air behind it. A recent test where they drove from Södertälje (Sweden) to Rotterdam (NL) proved that it saved fuel consumption by 1% compared to driving by yourself.
My favorite part was the electric highway. It’s a normal highway but with electric wires running over it. The trucks are mounted with a system that connects to the wires and receives electric energy from it. It looks like a trolly but the trucks can disconnect from the grid so they can overtake or leave the highway. When it disconnects from the wires it starts running on the internal combustion engine.
In Germany there is a testtrack and a second one is planned to be build in Sweden. Watch the video to see how it works.
It was my first time in a large-scale factory like this. There are 2.500 people working in many different roles. The factory is divided in different areas: logistics, press-shop, body shop, paint shop and the assembly line, where the magic happens. All the cabines that are produced here are customer-specific.
Also in the production process they think about the environment. For example the painting process of the trucks has changed significantly over the years. Normally the cars are dipped in to a basin with wet paint and then dried which creates a lot of gasses. At Scania they have a more cleaner process, they use powder. In a closed room the cabins are electrical charged and a robot sprays the powder on the material. 85% sticks to the material and the other 15% is collected and re-used. In this process all the powder is used.
So far most of the companies I visited where small-scale. A company with the size like Scania encounters way other issues then the smaller one so to hear from them what they do about sustainability and e-mobility was seriously interesting.
Hit the road
The end-destination for today was Linkoping where I should meet Lisa. It was still early and I had some time to do sightseeing. Tom told me I should really should go see Stensjö. It’s a tiny village close to Oskarshamn which is very traditional Swedish. The road to there was already a joy to drive. I passed fields with huge buffels and many sheep. The fields where separated from the road with wooden fences which look really cool. In Stensjö there where dozens of cute stables, farms and houses. See the pictures below.
Then I needed to find a place to charge. Els made me a list of charging stations in Vastervik. There where some 220v sockets. In Sweden it’s common to have these as they use it to charge the accu of a normal car in extremely cold weather. When I reached 60% I was hoping that it would be enough to do the remaining 100km. Unfortunately it started raining and had to stop one more time to charge. Luckily the cities are dense and you can find these normal stations everywhere.
Around 8.30pm I arrived in Linköping with 3% battery left. Lisa was already waiting for me, I met her 7 years ago in Australia and it was great to see her again. She lives right in the middle of the city so we had to drive a few kilometers to a free chargingspot. On the way back we talked a lot about what we did since Australia.
Lisa finished here study and works for a NGO which helps children in need. She really enjoys the outdoors. No alarm clocks, no computers and just being in the nature without any obligations is what gives her energy. We had a lot of fun watching her photo-albums from our time in Ozzie. It seems like such a short time ago but it’s amazing how we changed (or become old but I found that hard to say).