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[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

Argonne researchers develop new non-precious-metal fuel cell catalyst with performance comparable to platinum

August 27, 2015

Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have developed a new fuel cell catalyst using earth-abundant materials with performance that is comparable to platinum in laboratory tests. The nanofibrous non-precious metal catalyst (NPMC) is synthesized by electrospinning a polymer solution containing a mixture of ferrous organometallics and metal-organic frameworks and then is thermally activated.

The resulting catalyst offers a carbon nanonetwork architecture made of microporous nanofibers decorated by uniformly distributed high-density active sites. As reported in an open access paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), in a single-cell test, the membrane electrode containing the catalyst delivered volumetric activities of 3.3 A⋅cm−3 at 0.9 V or 450 A⋅cm−3 extrapolated at 0.8 V, representing the highest reported value in the literature. The team also observed improved fuel cell durability.

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TTI/INRIX study shows US traffic congestion back at pre-recession levels; average travel delay/commuter 2x that in 1982

A new report produced by INRIX and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) shows that traffic congestion in the US has returned to pre-recession levels. Washington, D.C. tops the list of gridlock-plagued cities, with 82 hours of delay per commuter, followed by Los Angeles (80 hours), San Francisco (78 hours), New York (74 hours), and San Jose (67 hours).

According to the 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard, travel delays due to traffic congestion caused drivers to waste more than 3 billion gallons of fuel and kept travelers stuck in their cars for nearly 7 billion extra hours—42 hours per rush-hour commuter. The total nationwide price tag: $160 billion, or $960 per commuter. Other top-level findings include:

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US total VMT hits historic high in first half of year; VMT per capita trending upward, but below 2005 peak

August 23, 2015

US Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) estimates show that US driving topped 1.54 trillion miles in the first half of 2015, beating the previous record of 1.5 trillion miles, set in June 2007. This is more than double the amount driven during the same period in 1981, continuing a trend of America’s driving mileage doubling nearly every generation.

However, on a per capita basis (non-institutional population), VMT, although it has been trending upward for the last year on a 12-month moving average, is still below its peak in June 2005, according to the Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED) database from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

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Hawai‘i Governor signs bill setting 100% renewable portfolio standard for electricity sector by 2045

June 11, 2015

Hawai‘i Governor David Ige this week signed into law four energy bills, including one (HB623) directing the state’s utilities to generate 100% of their electricity sales from renewable energy resources by 2045. This makes Hawai‘i the first state in the nation to set a 100% renewable portfolio standard (RPS) for the electricity sector.

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EIA AEO2015 projects elimination of net US energy imports in 2020-2030 timeframe; transportation energy consumption drops

April 14, 2015

The Annual Energy Outlook 2015 (AEO2015) released today by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that US energy imports and exports will come into balance—a first since the 1950s—because of continued oil and natural gas production growth and slow growth in energy demand.

AEO2015 presents updated projections for US energy markets through 2040 based on six cases (Reference, Low and High Economic Growth, Low and High Oil Price, and High Oil and Gas Resource) that reflect updated scenarios for future crude oil prices. US net energy imports decline and ultimately end in most AEO2015 cases, driven by growth in US energy production—led by crude oil and natural gas—increased use of renewables, and only modest growth in demand.

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DOE awarding $6M to 11 projects to accelerate alternative fuel vehicle market growth

March 10, 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is awarding $6 million to 11 projects aimed at improving potential buyers’ experiences with alternative fuel and plug-in electric vehicles, supporting training, and integrating alternative fuels into emergency planning. Through the Clean Cities program, these projects address many of the challenges limiting the use of alternative fuel and plug-in electric vehicles, particularly in these three areas: on-the-road demonstrations, safety-related training, and emergency preparedness.

Five projects will enable consumers and fleets to drive alternative fuel vehicles for extended periods of time to help them better understand how these vehicles can meet their everyday needs. Five projects will focus on training for first responders, public safety officials, tow-truck operators, and collision repair specialists and teach these service providers how to safely handle alternative fuel vehicles. One incorporate alternative fuel and advanced vehicles into multiple emergency preparedness plans that address varied geographies and potential incidents.

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CMU, Ford, Drexel study suggests Chinese more receptive to adopting BEVs than Americans, regardless of subsidies

February 23, 2015

Results from a study by a team from Carnegie Mellon University, Ford and Drexel University suggest that Chinese consumers are more receptive to adopting battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) than their American counterparts, regardless of subsidies. The study is published in the journal Transportation Research Part A.

The team modeled consumer preferences and willingness to pay (WTP) for conventional, hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV), and battery electric (BEV) vehicle technologies in China and the US using data from choice-based conjoint surveys fielded in 2012–2013 in both countries. They found that find that gasoline vehicles continue to be most attractive to consumers both countries, and that American respondents have significantly lower relative willingness-to-pay for BEV technology than Chinese respondents. Although plug-in subsidies in the US and Chinese subsidies both favor vehicles with larger battery packs, differences in consumer preferences lead to different outcomes, they found.

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Ford opens new Silicon Valley research center; focus on connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, big data

January 22, 2015

Ford has opened its new Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto, growing its global research team and accelerating the company’s work in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience and big data.

The new Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto joins Ford’s global network of research and innovation centers, including its location in Dearborn, Michigan, which focuses on advanced electronics, human-machine interface, materials science, big data and analytics; and Aachen, Germany, which focuses on next-generation powertrain research, driver-assist technologies and active safety systems.

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IBM automotive study sees consumer co-creation, greater personalized driving, but not widespread fully autonomous driving by 2025

January 15, 2015

During the Automotive News World Congress this week, IBM released results of its new Automotive 2025 Global Study, outlining an industry ripe for disruptive changes that are breaking down borders of the automotive ecosystem. The study forecasts that while the automotive industry will offer a greater personalized driving experience by 2025, fully autonomous vehicles or fully automated driving will not be as commonplace as some think.

The IBM Automotive 2025 Global Study is based on interviews with 175 executives from automotive OEMs, suppliers, and other thought leaders in 21 countries, detailing customer expectations, growth strategies, mobility requirements, ecosystem disruption and other topics shaping the direction of the industry. Entitled “Automotive 2025: Industry without borders,” the study was developed by the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) as a follow up to “Automotive 2020: Clarity beyond the chaos.”

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European LEAF owners on average drive 50% more per year than European ICE average

January 09, 2015

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Average miles driven by LEAF owners in European countries, compared to average ICE driver. Data: Nissan. Click to enlarge.

Based on telemetry data from its CarWings system, Nissan revealed that European owners of the battery-electric LEAF drive more than 50% further per year (10,307 miles, 16,588 km) than the European average for a traditional internal combustion-engined (ICE) vehicle (6,721 miles, 10,816 km).

Totals are based on data from Nissan’s Global Data Center (GDC) as of 30 September 2014. The average is generated form data gathered only from Nissan LEAF vehicles registered with CarWings, approximately 54% of total sales. Data used was gathered from 1 April 2014 to 30 September 2014.

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Ford issues 2015 trends report; the emergent role of Generation Z

December 29, 2014

Ford has issued its third annual trends report, a compilation of consumer research and insights from thought leaders around the world, which is intended to provide a look at micro-trends expected to influence products and brands for 2015 and beyond. From the growing influence of young, socially conscious consumers, to a greater acceptance of modern-day rebels and a shifting perspective that de-stigmatizes failure, Ford Motor Company’s trend report suggests 2015 will be marked by a broad desire to enact change for the good.

The Looking Further with Ford 2015 report pays particular attention to the role of Generation Z—roughly defined as those born after 1993. Generation Z, which follows the Millennials, is the first truly global generation, born into an on-demand, technology-driven culture. Expected to account for more than 20% of the world’s population, these digitally savvy, socially conscious consumers, most of whom are still teenagers, are working to help define the trends of both today and tomorrow, Ford says.

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DOE releases report from 6 projects evaluating EV charging impacts on grid and customer charging behaviors

December 21, 2014

Progress
Charging patterns with (TOU) and without (RES) whole house time-of-use rate during summer weekdays at Progress Energy, one of the participating utilities. (Peak period is in gray.) Click to enlarge.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has released a report detailing the findings from six utilities which evaluated operations and customer charging behaviors for in-home and public electric vehicle charging stations. The work was done under the DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability’s (OE) Smart Grid Investment Grant (SGIG program).

This report provides the results of these SGIG projects to help individual utilities determine how long existing electric distribution infrastructure will remain sufficient to accommodate demand growth from electric vehicles, and when and what type of capacity upgrades or additions may be needed. The report also examines when consumers want to recharge vehicles, and to what extent pricing and incentives can encourage consumers to charge during off-peak periods.

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BMW i Ventures makes strategic investment in smartphone driving analytics company Zendrive

November 25, 2014

The BMW Group’s venture capital company, BMW i Ventures, has made an investment in the startup Zendrive, a company that uses data and analytics gathered from smartphones rather than OBD to improve driving through driving analytics. Related BMW mobility services investments currently include JustPark, Chargepoint, Life360, Chargemaster, and MyCityWay. The Zendrive investment is the first in a series of investment announcements that will be made in the months ahead, said Ulrich Quay, Managing Director of BMW i Ventures, LLC.

Zendrive uses the sensors on a smartphone to measure a driver’s behaviors; Zendrive’s Driver-Centric Analytics process the data from the phone’s sensors into a Zendrive score that factors in cell phone use, speed, swerves, hard stops, fast accelerations, fatigue, as well as weather, trip duration, time of day, and more.

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Ford and Automatic Labs working together to support connected-car solutions

September 21, 2014

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Automatic uses vehicle data from the OBD port to report on driving performance. Click to enlarge.

Automatic Labs and Ford Motor Company announced a joint experimental collaboration to improve the driving experience for Ford & Lincoln vehicle owners. Together, the companies will test and develop new features that provide enhanced capabilities enabling drivers to opt-in to provide data from their vehicle and then use that information to be smarter, safer drivers.

Automatic provides a widget that plugs into the OBD port and uses a car’s onboard computer and the driver’s smartphone’s GPS and data plan (via Bluetooth) to upgrade the car’s capabilities. For example, Automatic learns about a driver’s driving style and provides subtle audio cues when a driver does things that waste gas, such as:

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