The ESPRIT project aims to develop a fleet of working prototype vehicles purpose built for the requirements of one-way car hire.
One-way car hire is becoming more common across main land Europe and several schemes are already in place. Some of these schemes use bespoke purpose built vehicles (such as the Paris Autolib’) however, all of these schemes have huge operating costs due to the large number of professional drivers required to redistribute the vehicles from where they are left to where they are needed. ESPRIT was born out of the idea of using one driver to redistribute multiple cars at the same time to reduce the operational costs.
It is hoped that the ESPRIT transport system would serve areas where it is not currently economical to run bus or other public transport services, and would help feed the major public transport routes.
The ESPRIT vehicles are small lightweight cars (legislatively known as ‘L7 category heavy quadricycles’) that can be coupled together into a train of up to 8 cars. The train of cars can then be redistributed by a single driver at the front of the train.
As well as the development of the prototype vehicles, the ESPRIT project will develop a first iteration of the station infrastructure required to run the system. With the physical aspects in place the ESPRIT project will develop the business case through simulation of the demand and operational models.
Far-UK is working on the design and manufacture of the axles Including the material challenges to reduce the weight of the vehicle – to below 450kg (the upper weight limit for L7 category vehicles).
Far-UK is also working on the packaging challenges at the front and rear which come from the unusual architecture required to allow the vehicles to couple into a train.
Far-UK is also undertaking the crash simulation to demonstrate safety of the vehicles.
The other partners are:
Commissariat a l’energie atomique et aux energies alternatives (CEA)
Lyon Smart Design
Voith Engineering Services GMBH
First Somerset & Avon Limited
Ajuntament de L’hospitalet de Llobregat
Peter Davidson Consultancy
Consiglio Nazionale Delle Ricerche
Vectos (South) Limited
University of Aberdeen
Fondation Partenarial Mov’eotec (VeDecoM)
Team Red Deutschland GMBH