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Continental puts first 48V hybrid assist system into production with Renault diesels

21 October 2016

From the end of 2016, diesel variants of the Renault Scénic and Grand Scénic models will be equipped with Continental’s 48-volt hybrid drive—the first application of the 48V “Hybrid Assist” in production vehicles.

The first production solution combines an efficient, water-cooled induction motor with an integrated inverter. The electric motor transmits power via a belt drive directly to the crankshaft of the combustion engine—an arrangement referred to as “P0 topology.” Further production ramp-ups are soon to be set in motion on the basis of a modular system for 48-volt drives.

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ICL study of 39 new Euro-6 diesels finds huge variability in NOx emissions with an average 4.5x the type approval limit

21 October 2016

A new study by researchers from Imperial College London(ICL) of 39 new Euro 6 diesel passenger cars has foundhuge variability” in the on-road NOx emissions of Euro 6 diesel passenger cars, with results ranging from 1 to 22 times the type approval limit. All but 2 exhibited higher NOx than the limit.

The average NOx emission from the test cars of 0.36 g km-1 equates to 4.5 times the type approval limit; this rose to 5.4 times for urban driving. They attributed the increase in urban cycle NOx emissions in part to more frequent acceleration events. (Urban driving emissions could be reduced by more effective management of traffic flows (e.g., earlier post), easing of congestion and promotion of eco-driving, though further work is required to confirm this, they suggested.)

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In-flight wireless power transfer for drones

21 October 2016

Scientists at Imperial College London have demonstrated a highly efficient inductive method for wirelessly transferring power to a drone while it is flying. Theoretically, this wireless power transfer (WPT) technology could allow flying drones to stay airborne indefinitely by simply hovering over a ground support vehicle to recharge. The team estimates it is one year away from a commercially available product.

The technology uses inductive coupling, similar to the technology being developed for WPT for electric vehicles. To demonstrate their approach, the Imperial College London researchers bought an off-the-shelf quadcopter drone—around 12 cm (4.7 inches) in diameter—and altered its electronics and removed its battery. They made a copper foil ring receiving antennae that encircles the drone’s casing. On the ground, a transmitter device made out of a circuit board was connected to electronics and a power source, creating a magnetic field.

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Toyota to start sales of fuel cell buses under the Toyota brand from early 2017

21 October 2016

Toyota Motor Corporation will begin to sell fuel cell buses (FC buses) under the Toyota brand from early 2017. After repeated field tests of the hydrogen-powered buses for practical use, the Bureau of Transportation of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government plans to utilize two of the Toyota FC Buses as fixed-route buses.

Toyota plans to introduce more than 100 FC buses mainly in the Tokyo area, ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. In view of this, the FC buses will be sold for the first time in Japan in early 2017, so as to help increase the level of understanding by the general public of the utilization of FC buses as a form of public transportation.

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Ford trialing GLOSA app in Mondeo hybrids in UK; “riding the green wave”

21 October 2016

In Europe, Ford is trialing its implementation of “Green Light Optimal Speed Advisory” (GLOSA) technology, which uses information on traffic light timings from a roadside unit to display to the driver the best speed to travel to get a green light.

GLOSA applications have been of prominent interest for intelligent transportation system (ITS) and connected vehicle research for a number of years due to the fairly obvious benefits. For example, a 2011 study by Katsaros et al. posited that implementation of a GLOSA could reduce both fuel consumption and congestion.

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Geely launches Lynk & Co; a new electrified and connected global car brand

21 October 2016

China-based automaker Geely has launched Lynk & Co—a new global car brand designed and engineered in Sweden; every model will feature an electrified powertrain.

First in the range will be the Lynk & Co 01—an SUV featuring full premium specifications and characteristics as standard. Full mobile connectivity will also be standard, working in partnership with Ericsson. (Each vehicle will be a Wi-Fi hub, with the cellular data plan included in the price.) Geely claims that the SUV will be the most connected car to date, built around an open API and inviting developers’ creative ideas to enrich the automotive experience. (This open approach sounds similar to Volkswagen’s open-platform approach it is taking with MEB for its electric vehicles. Earlier post.)

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CARB approves $363M plan that includes putting more clean vehicles in disadvantaged communities; low-carbon transportation, ZEVs, scrap-and-replace pilot

21 October 2016

The California Air Resources Board has adopted a revised funding plan for proceeds from the cap-and-trade program that includes putting more clean vehicles in disadvantaged communities. The investments range from supporting increased numbers of zero-emission heavy-duty trucks and buses to rebates for low- and zero-emission passenger vehicles.

The revised plan for fiscal year 2016-17 keeps much of the original funding plan (approved in June 2016) intact while addressing the smaller budget appropriation of $363 million under AB 1613 and additional direction from the Legislature. Key highlights of the revised plan include:

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UK, Saudi team shows hydrocarbon wax is a viable, safe medium for on-board hydrogen storage

20 October 2016

Researchers at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Cardiff in the UK, and the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) in Saudi Arabia have shown that benign, readily-available heavy alkane hydrocarbon wax is capable of rapidly releasing large amounts of hydrogen—sufficient to meet the 7 wt% target set by the US DOE—through microwave-assisted catalytic decomposition.

This discovery, reported in an open-access paper in Scientific Reports, offers a new material and system for safe and efficient hydrogen storage and could facilitate its application in a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. Hydrocarbon wax is the major product of the low temperature Fischer-Tropsch synthesis process from syngas and is currently thermally “cracked” to produce various fuels.

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Toyota to produce hybrid transaxle and new gasoline engines in Poland; adjusting to shrinking diesel share in Europe

20 October 2016

Toyota Motor Europe will start production of a hybrid transaxle in 2018 at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Poland (TMMP) in Walbrzych, and add two gasoline engines—a 1.5L in 2017 and a 2.0L in 2019—at Toyota Motor Industries, Poland (TMIP) in Jelcz-Laskowice. Combined, the new projects represent an additional investment of approximately €150 million (US$165 million), bringing the total investment to-date of Toyota’s manufacturing operations in Poland to more than €950 million (US$1 billion) since operations started in 2002.

The hybrid transaxle to be produced at TMMP is a key part of Toyota’s hybrid powertrain, and will be fitted with the 1.8L ZR engine. This hybrid engine equips all Toyota Auris and Auris Touring Sports Hybrid vehicles sold in Europe, and will equip the new crossover Toyota C-HR when it starts production at the end of this year.

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Nissan completes 34% stake in Mitsubishi Motors; Mitsubishi joins Renault-Nissan Alliance

20 October 2016

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. has completed an acquisition of a 34% equity stake in Mitsubishi Motors (MMC) (earlier post) and has become its largest shareholder. As indicated in May, when Nissan outlined the deal, MMC is also becoming part of the global Alliance with Nissan and Renault. With the addition of MMC, the Alliance will be in the world’s top three automotive groups by global volumes, with sales of 10 million units in fiscal year 2016.

The investment and alliance comes in the aftermath of revelations of MMC cheating on fuel consumption testing in Japan with mini-cars and other models. Nissan was the one which first brought the discrepancies in minicar testing to light; MMC produces minicar models for Nissan in Japan.

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Coming HEI study suggests air pollution regulations likely contributors to improvements in air quality and children’s health

20 October 2016

The Health Effects Institute (HEI) will soon publish a study by Frank Gilliland and his colleagues at the University of Southern California the findings of which suggest that US and California regulations directed at reducing emissions of mobile-source pollutants were likely contributors to improvements in air quality between 1985 and 2012 that were in turn associated with improvements in children’s respiratory health.

The researchers analyzed pollutant monitoring and pulmonary health effects information as well as multiple covariates that they had collected over more than 20 years from participants in several cohorts recruited into the Children’s Health Study (CHS) in Southern California. The children lived in communities that differed in sources and levels of the outdoor pollutants PM, NO2, and ozone.

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2017 Audi Q7 now available with 2.0-liter TFSI turbo-charged four-cylinder engine; lower entry point to premium SUV

20 October 2016

Audi of America is offering a new 2.0-liter TFSI four-cylinder engine on 2017 Audi Q7 models. This new model, when equipped with the 2.0-liter engine, is half a second faster on the 0-60 mph sprint; nearly 500 pounds lighter; and up to 22% more fuel-efficient than the previous generation Q7 3.0T V6.

With the 2.0 TFSI, Audi is creating a value proposition that makes entry into the luxury full-size SUV more accessible. The starting MSRP ($49,000) (Premium trim) is $5,800 below the current entry point of $54,800 for the Premium 3.0 TFSI; pricing for the 2.0L Premium Plus trim starts at $53,000 ($1,800 below the current entry point and $5,800 below the Premium Plus 3.0 TFSI). The specifications of the 2.0- and 3.0-liter engined cars are virtually the same except for the engine; the inlays which are a mix of aluminum and wood on the lower and upper dash vs all wood; and 18-inch wheels instead of 19-inch wheels.

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