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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.]

New smart fortwo making official premiere in China at Auto Shanghai; China to be largest market

April 17, 2015

The new smart fortwo from Daimler will have its official premiere in China at the 16th Auto Shanghai next week. Following the successful market launch in Europe with a surge in new registrations (+22.7% as at March), the city coupé will be available in China from August 2015. The launch of the smart forfour will follow in early 2016.

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FEV showcasing liquid-cooled, high performance battery for PHEV applications at SAE World Congress

FEV North America will be displaying a liquid-cooled, high performance battery pack for plug-in hybrid applications. The battery will be at the 2015 SAE World Congress next week in Detroit.

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Honda R&D team uses gasoline-diesel dual fuel method for high thermal efficiency at low loads

A team from Honda R&D in Japan reports using a gasoline-diesel dual-fuel method to control ignition timing and combustion duration. A paper on their work is published in the International Journal of Engine Research.

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ITM Power to provide 0.5MW electrolyzer to EMEC for integrated H2 system for tidal energy storage

ITM Power won a competitive tender to supply an integrated hydrogen system for use at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) tidal test site on Eday, Orkney, Scotland. The system’s principal component is a 0.5MW polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolyzer with integrated compression and up to 500 kg of storage.

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Researchers gain fundamental insight into FCC catalyst aging; implications for improving catalyst and reactor design

Fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) particles account for 40 to 45% of worldwide gasoline production. Now, researchers from Albemarle Corporation, Utrecht University and Stanford University have developed a new method for observing fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) catalyst behavior at the nanoscale.

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Volvo pricing the XC90 T8 Twin Engine PHEV for the US starting at $68,100

April 16, 2015

The US MSRP of Volvo Cars’ new XC90 T8 Twin Engine Plug-In Hybrid (earlier post) entry-level Momentum model is $68,100, not including any tax credit incentives or $995 destination charge. The seven-passenger plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, coming to the United States this summer, is powered by Volvo’s 2.0 liter supercharged and turbocharged Drive-E engine and a rear axle electric motor. The T8 can achieve 394 hp and 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds, with fuel economy according to the US driving cycle of 59 MPGe.

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PSA and GM to build next-generation small light commercial vehicle

PSA Peugeot Citroën (PSA) and General Motors (GM) announced that as part of their existing alliance agreement (earlier post), the next generation small light commercial vehicles (B-LCV) from both companies will be built in the PSA plant in Vigo, Spain.

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Ballard providing fuel cell power modules to new customer for 8 buses in China

Ballard Power Systems will supply next-generation FCvelocity-HD7 fuel cell power modules for 8 buses to be deployed in a number of Chinese cities to a Chinese manufacturer. Ballard expects to ship all of the modules in 2015.

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XL Hybrids system being adopted by Watkins Heating & Cooling

April 15, 2015

XL Hybrids, Inc. announced another win for its retrofitted vehicle electrification system, with the successful installation of the XL3 Hybrid Electric Drive System in the fleet of Watkins Heating & Cooling, a family-owned and operated HVAC service company headquartered in Springboro, Ohio. Watkins will convert four more General Motors vans this year using XL Hybrids’ technology and plans to replace its entire 15-vehicle fleet with hybrids in the coming years.

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Pearson Fuels opening 13 E85 fueling sites in SoCal

Pearson Fuels of San Diego, CA and G&M Oil Company of Huntington Beach, CA will open 13 E85 fueling sites in Southern California in San Bernardino, Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties.

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Solazyme and Flotek Industries partner to develop and market advanced drilling fluid technologies

Algal oil company Solazyme and Flotek Industries announced that the companies and certain subsidiaries have entered into agreements to globally commercialize Flocapso, an innovative, advanced drilling fluid additive. In addition, Flotek will market Solazyme’s Encapso lubricant—the first commercially available, biodegradable encapsulated lubricant for drilling fluids—in certain Middle Eastern markets.

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Chrysler recalling up to 5600 Fiat 500 EVs due to software problem

April 14, 2015

Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling certain model year 2013-2015 Fiat 500 EV vehicles manufactured 27 March 2012, to 1 November 2014. If the vehicle goes in to limp home mode, incompatible software between Electric Vehicle Control Unit (EVCU) and Battery Pack Control Module (BPCM) may cause the electric propulsion system to fully shut down. This will cause a stall-like condition, increasing the risk of a crash.

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$26M project implementing new process for extracting hemicellulose from wood chips at Cascades plant

Canada-based Cascades Inc., a company that recovers recyclable materials and manufactures green packaging products and tissue paper, is investing in a new technology at its Norampac – Cabano facility to extract hemicellulose from wood chips. Hemicellulose, a natural polymer found in plant cell walls, presents myriad opportunities ranging from power generation to biofuels such as ethanol, as well as the production of natural sugar-based value-added products.

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Alliance Autogas showcases converted F650/F-750 LPG bi-fuel truck

Alliance AutoGas showcased a Ford F-650/F-750 tractor featuring a Bi-Fuel AutoGas System at the recent AutoGas Pavilion at the NPGA Propane Expo in Atlanta. Westport’s Prins VSI system “plug and play” conversion on the 2016 Ford F650/F-750 requires no intake manifold drilling, cutting, or splicing of wiring. Westport acquired Prins in late 2014. (Earlier post.)

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Study suggests fine particulates increase risk of stroke

While numerous studies have shown that air pollution is associated with cardio-pulmonary mortality, there has been less research into the possible effect of air pollution on stroke and non-fatal coronary events. Results from the Heinz Nixdorf Recall (HNR) study, reported in Deutsches Ärzteblatt International by Barbara Hoffmann and her coauthors, now suggest that fine particulates also increase the risk of stroke.

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Proton OnSite delivers electrolyzer for first power-to-gas project in the US

April 13, 2015

Proton OnSite, the world leader in Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) electrolyzer technology, will participate in the first power to gas (P2G) project in the United States, announced earlier by Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas).

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Audi wins WEC opener at Silverstone in R18 e-tron quattro

In the season opener of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at Silverstone, the Audi R18 e-tron quattro (earlier post) of Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer took victory after a six-hour race in which the lead kept changing and was fiercely contested.

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HC and PM emissions from common rail diesel running n-butanol blends

Researchers at Chonnam National University (S. Korea) have investigated the effect of diesel fuel blends with n-butanol (5%, 10%, and 20% by volume) on the individual hydrocarbons and particulate matter (PM) of a turbocharged common rail direct injection diesel engine and compared the results with those from using neat diesel fuel. The emission characteristics were estimated by using of n-butanol blended with conventional diesel fuel.

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Crowdtap purchasing study finds 80% of those in the market for a car are more likely to turn to social media than a salesperson

Crowdtap released the results of a new study exploring the consumer path to purchase when it comes to buying a vehicle. The data shows that car buyers are increasingly relying on peer reviews and social media—above traditional advertising and professional review sources—when it comes to researching and learning about car brands and models.

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Toyota opening special showroom for Mirai fuel cell vehicle

On Friday 17 April, Toyota will open a showroom to highlight the groundbreaking Mirai fuel cell vehicle, which went on sale last December.

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US Navy’s 2015-2016 solicitation for biofuel blends now posted

April 11, 2015

The US Defense Logistics Agency-Energy (DLA-Energy) has posted the Rocky Mountain/West Coast/Offshore (RMW) solicitation (SPE600-15-R-0711) on behalf of the US Navy for fuel deliveries from 1 October 2015 to 30 September 2016. Vendors can submit bids with a minimum of 10% alternative fuel up to the maximum 50% allowed in the fuel specifications. The two approved pathways are FT (Fischer-Tropsch) and HEFA (Hydro-processed esters and fatty acids).

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In settlement, EPA agrees to 30 November deadline for setting RFS requirements

April 10, 2015

A proposed consent decree in litigation brought against EPA by the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) would establish the following schedule for issuing Renewable Fuel Standards for 2014 and 2015:

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EcoCAR3 will be using the next-gen 2016 Camaro

Last April, General Motors announced it would be continuing its partnership with the US Department of Energy and Argonne National Laboratory for the EcoCAR 3 collegiate advanced vehicle technology competition, and would donate a Chevrolet Camaro to each one of the 16 universities that were recently selected for the exclusive competition. (Earlier post.) GM has now revealed that the teams will be receiving the new next-gen 2016 Camaro, to be unveiled next month, as the base vehicle for the competition.

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NXP and NTU Singapore launch $16M smart mobility test bed

NXP Semiconductors has signed an agreement with Singapore’s Nanyang Technology University (NTU) to establish a real-world smart mobility test bed on the NTU campus. Supported by Singapore Economic Development Board, the joint initiative paves the way for Singapore’s “Smart Mobility 2030” vision, making the city-state a global innovation hub for intelligent transport systems. It is also a step to accelerate the introduction of life-saving vehicle communications globally.

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Daimler introduces electric mobility in driving schools in Germany

Daimler AG and the ACADEMY Holding AG are launching a pilot project with five selected ACADEMY driving schools in the wider Stuttgart area, with the aim of making electric vehicles an integral part of driver training.

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US MARAD to award up to $900K for project converting vessel to natural gas

The US Maritime Administration (MARAD) Office of Environment has issued a request for proposals (RFP) (DTMA91R1500009) for projects that focus on converting a vessel to natural gas in an effort to measure in situ change in criteria pollutant emissions and greenhouse gas emissions before and after the conversion.

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MINI revealing prototype augmented reality eyewear at Auto Shanghai

At the Auto Shanghai show, MINI will unveil MINI Augmented Vision eyewear. Using see-through technology, the prototype augmented reality (AR) eyewear shows relevant information in the driver’s direct field of vision but without concealing other road users, thereby serving to increase safety and comfort while driving. The following functions will be projected into the field of view with MINI Augmented Vision:

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UK Oil & Gas announces significant onshore oil-in-place in South of England

April 09, 2015

UK Oil & Gas Investments PLC (UKOG) announced that analysis by US-based NUTECH Ltd of the results from its Horse Hill-1 (HH-1) well in the Weald Basin onshore in the South of England suggests that the area has a total oil in place (OIP) of 158 million barrels (MMBO) per square mile, excluding a previously reported Upper Portland Sandstone oil discovery. The Horse Hill licences cover 55 square miles of the Weald Basin in southern England in which the UKOG has a 20.36% interest.

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NHTSA issues safety advisory on preventing undercarriage corrosion to prevent brake-line failures; closes GM investigation

The Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a Safety Advisory and consumer video encouraging owners of model year 2007 and older trucks, SUVs and passenger cars to inspect brake lines and thoroughly wash the underside of their vehicles to remove corrosive salt after the long winter in order to prevent brake-line failures that increase the risk of a crash.

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New Daimler compact car plant begins production at BBAC in China

Mercedes-Benz’ new compact car plant in China, housed at the company’s local production joint venture Beijing Benz Automotive Corporation (BBAC), has begun production with the German car maker’s first locally build compact car: the GLA. The new plant will bring local passenger car production capacities to about 250,000 units by the end of 2015.

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Renault delivers 45 EVs to Jas Hennessy & Co

Renault has delivered 45 electric vehicles (23 ZOEs and 22 Kangoo ZEs) to Jas Hennessy & Co, based in and around Cognac, France. Intended for workers traveling between the company’s sites, these electric vehicles refresh 80% of a fleet that until now was entirely composed of internal combustion-engined vehicles. The company now boasts one of the largest electric vehicle fleets among private businesses in France.

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NASA selects three proposals to develop ultra-lightweight materials for future aerospace vehicles and structures; seeking 40% mass reduction

NASA has selected three proposals to develop and manufacture ultra-lightweight (ULW) materials for future aerospace vehicles and structures. The proposals will mature advanced technologies that will enable NASA to reduce the mass of spacecraft by 40% for deep space exploration.

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Fujitsu and GMS partner on trial of electric tricycles in the Philippines

Fujitsu Limited and Global Mobility Service, Inc. (GMS), a venture company providing mobility services, will partner on field testing to expand the use of electric tricycles (a three-wheel taxi) in the Republic of the Philippines.

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Evident Technologies licenses JPL thermoelectric materials; potential for automotive waste-heat recovery

April 08, 2015

Evident Technologies has licensed patents on high-temperature thermoelectric materials developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Evident provides thermoelectric solutions for power generation, and currently offers patented nanostructured bulk skutterudite and bismuth telluride materials.

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Teijin seeks to accelerate automotive CFRTP business

Teijin Limited has integrated its development and marketing of automotive-use carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastic (CFRTP), aiming to strengthen the group’s business in this value-added form of CFRP.

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OPEN Alliance for Ethernet-based automotive connectivity releases specs

The OPEN Alliance (One-Pair EtherNet) Special Interest Group (SIG), a non-profit industry alliance established to drive wide scale adoption of Ethernet-based automotive connectivity, announced broad availability of its automotive Ethernet specifications. The public release of the specifications is aimed at continuing the Alliance’s momentum in establishing single pair Ethernet as the connectivity technology of choice for the connected car.

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Nissan investing $600M in Argentina; domestic production of new pick-up

Nissan Motor will invest $600 million in Argentina and will become an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) with the domestic production there of an all-new NP300 Frontier pick-up.

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UW Madison, U. Minn and Argonne focusing on high value commodity chemicals from biomass

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Minnesota and Argonne National Laboratory will explore ways to produce renewable plastic precursors and other substances from biomass with a recently announced $3.3-million grant from the United States Department of Energy.

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PNNL team uses in situ NMR to gain real-time information about cycling reactions in Li-S batteries

April 07, 2015

Researchers at the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have successfully used an in situ NMR technique to probe the transient electrochemical and chemical reactions occurring during the cycling of a Li–sulfur system. In situ NMR provides real time, semiquantitative information related to the evolution of lithium polysulfides during both discharge/charge processes.

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CSR Sifang demonstrates first fuel-cell powered fixed rail electric tram; Ballard module

CSR Qingdao Sifang Company (CSR Sifang), a Chinese rolling stock manufacturer based in Qingdao, Shandong province, has successfully demonstrated the first hydrogen fuel cell powered fixed rail electric tram. Ballard Power Systems’ FCvelocity fuel cell module is integrated into the low floor tram design.

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BMW staging world premiere of X5 plug-in hybrid at Auto Shanghai

BMW is using the upcoming Auto Shanghai event as the platform for the world premiere of the BMW X5 xDrive40e Sports Activity Vehicle, the first plug-in hybrid production model from the BMW core brand. (Earlier post.)

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NTSB issues urgent recommendations calling for improved rail tank cars to carry flammable liquids

The National Transportation Safety Board issued four urgent recommendations calling for more robust and fire-resistant rail cars to be produced to safely carry flammable liquids such as crude oil and ethanol.

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Zendrive launches smartphone-based automobile accident detection service

Driving data and analytics company Zendrive—a BMW i Ventures portfolio company—announced the availability of Zendrive Accident Detection, a smartphone-based service which instantly determines that an automobile accident has taken place at a particular location.

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Stanford team develops ultra-fast aluminum-ion battery with stability over thousands of cycles

April 06, 2015

A team at Stanford University, led by professor Hongjie Dai, has developed a high-performance, safe, fast-charging aluminum-ion battery that can last for thousands of cycles. The Al-ion battery—comprising an aluminum anode, graphite cathode and ionic liquid electrolyte—produces about half the voltage of a Li-ion battery. In addition to powering small electronic devices, Al-ion batteries could be used to store renewable energy on the electrical grid, Dai said.

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GM awarded two EPA ENERGY STAR Partner of Year awards

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has named General Motors as one of its 2015 ENERGY STAR Partners of the Year award for Sustained Excellence in Energy Management. GM also received the ENERGY STAR Climate Communications award.

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Toshiba opens Hydrogen Energy Research & Development Center

Toshiba Corporation has opened the Toshiba Group Hydrogen Energy Research & Development Center (HRDC) at its Fuchu Complex in western Tokyo. The new Center will drive forward the development and demonstration of solutions integrating hydrogen-related energy technologies; Toshiba Group aims to increase the sales of hydrogen-related business to ¥100 billion (US$840 million) by 2020.

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Fraunhofer researchers develop tire simulation software for virtual testing; realtime application coming

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM in Kaiserslautern have developed a software tool—CDTire/3D—enabling the realistic simulation of tires for use in virtual testing on vehicle designs. The software takes into account the heat that is generated during driving and how the properties of the tires change.

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SiriusXM and Nissan introduce new NissanConnect Services powered by SiriusXM

April 04, 2015

SiriusXM and Nissan announced that Nissan will launch NissanConnect Services powered by SiriusXM in select 2016 model year Nissan vehicles, starting with Maxima, its all-new flagship sedan. The new telematics program is Nissan’s first in-vehicle launch of SiriusXM’s connected vehicle services and will feature vehicle security, vehicle health monitoring, remote access services, and more.

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UMTRI: new vehicle average fuel economy in March up 0.2 mpg from February

April 03, 2015

The average fuel economy (window-sticker value) of new vehicles sold in the US in March was 25.4 mpg (9.25 l/100 km)—up 0.2 mpg from February, according to the latest monthly analysis br. Dr. Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle at University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI). They sugested that this change likely reflects the increased gasoline prices from February to March. However, fuel economy is still down 0.4 mpg from the peak reached in August 2014.

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Tesla delivered 10,030 vehicles in Q1 2015

Tesla Motors announced that it delivered, in total, 10,030 cars in the first quarter (Q1) of 2015—a new company record for the most deliveries in a quarter and a 55% increase over Q1 last year. Tesla does not break out deliveries by region.

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Delphi automated vehicle completes coast-to-coast drive

Delphi Automotive has completed the longest automated drive in North America, traveling from San Francisco to New York in the first coast-to-coast trip ever taken by an automated vehicle. (Earlier post.) Nearly 3,400 miles (5,472 km) were covered with 99% of the drive in fully automated mode.

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Twizy two-seater EV now in Bluely car-sharing service

Twizy, Renault’s all-electric two-seater, is now available to users of the Bluely car-sharing service in Lyon. Inclusion of Renault Twizy in the Bolloré group’s car-sharing network, alongside Bolloré’s Bluecar, extends the scope of the service offered to customers. The deployment of the Twizys is the first concrete outcome of the Renault-Bolloré joint venture formed in 2014. (Earlier post.)

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UPS orders 319 CNG fuel systems for heavy-duty trucks from Quantum

April 02, 2015

Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide, Inc. has received an order from UPS for 319 fuel systems for UPS’ heavy-duty CNG vehicle program. UPS is adding 1,400 new CNG vehicles to its fleet this year. (Earlier post.) The issuance of purchase orders will be coordinated through two OEMs and their installation partners.

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Massachusetts announces additional $2M for electric vehicle rebate program

An additional $2 million will be allocated to the Massachusetts Offers Rebates for Electric Vehicles (MOR-EV) program. The electric vehicle rebate program, administered by the Department of Energy Resources’ (DOER), offers rebates of up to $2,500 to Massachusetts residents who buy or lease electric vehicles.

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BMW i8 beats Mercedes S 500 PHEV, Golf GTE to win World Green Car award in New York

The BMW i8 plug-in hybrid (earlier post) was named the World Green Car at the World Car Awards in New York. The other two short-listed finalists in contention for the award were the Mercedes-Benz S 500 Plug-In Hybrid and the Volkswagen Golf GTE. Its battery-electric sibling, the BMW i3, took the same award in 2014.

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AT&T and Autonet Mobile to team up on new connected car capabilities

AT&T 4G LTE wireless connectivity will support Autonet integrated connected car services they provide to carmakers, the two companies said today. Autonet Mobile currently provides connected car services to Chrysler Fiat Automobiles, General Motors, Maserati, Subaru and other major auto brands.

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Siluria Technologies announces successful start-up of first demo plant directly converting natural gas to ethylene through OCM

Siluria Technologies held a grand opening event heralding the successful start-up of its demonstration plant located in La Porte, Texas. The plant is wholly owned by Siluria, and co-located at a plant operated by Braskem America, Inc. This milestone marks the world’s first large-scale production of ethylene directly from natural gas through Oxidative Coupling of Methane (OCM). (Earlier post.) The demonstration plant is the final scale-up of the OCM process technology and paves the way for Siluria to deploy commercial-scale plants in the 2017/2018 timeframe.

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Subaru displaying STARLINK prototype system at New York show

Subaru of America, Inc. is displaying a prototype of its new STARLINK system for the first time at the New York International Auto Show. STARLINK is the Subaru in-vehicle platform that provides hands-free connectivity, entertainment and safety services to vehicle occupants.

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California Governor directs 25% statewide mandatory water reductions; first such in state history

California Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order mandating substantial water reductions across the drought-stricken state. For the first time in state history, the Governor has directed the State Water Resources Control Board to implement mandatory water reductions in cities and towns across California to reduce water usage by 25%. This savings amounts to approximately 1.5 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months, or nearly as much as is currently in Lake Oroville. Other measures ordered include:

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Honda begins testing of automated vehicle technology at “GoMentum Station”

April 01, 2015

Honda has begun testing of its automated and connected vehicle technology at the Concord Naval Weapons Station (CNWS) in the San Francisco Bay Area. Under the terms of an agreement reached with the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) in conjunction with the City of Concord, Honda will use the newly branded “GoMentum Station” test-bed site at the CNWS to advance its technologies. Honda also plans to participate in a consortium committed to making Contra Costa County home to a premier testing facility for automated drive technologies.

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Global Bioenergies obtains €4.4M loan to complete financing of demo plant, begins construction

Global Bioenergies, a startup developing and commercializing a fermentation process that targets gaseous isobutene, has obtained a €4.4-million (US$4.7-million) loan from a consortium of four French banks—BNP Paribas, Société Genéralé, CIC and Bpifrance—to complete the financing of its demo plant. (Earlier post.) Concurrent with obtaining the loan, construction has begun and will last one year.

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Raven Transport to deploy 115 additional heavy-duty LNG trucks; Clean Energy expands refueling network

Florida-based truckload carrier Raven Transport is expanding its clean-burning natural gas fleet with 115 Peterbilt Model 579s, equipped with sleepers and powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) to haul goods for a leading consumer packaged goods company.

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Golf SportWagen Alltrack to go onsale in 2016 as 2017 model

Coinciding with the arrival of the all-new Golf SportWagen, currently available in dealer showrooms, Volkswagen http://media.vw.com/release/953/ that the all-wheel-drive Alltrack model will go on sale in 2016 as a 2017 model. (Earlier post.)

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Scania and Swedfund invest to develop biogas as automotive fuel in Indian city

March 31, 2015

Scania and the development financier of the Swedish state Swedfund are establishing a partnership to develop the production of biogas as an automotive fuel in the Indian city of Nagpur, which is located in the state of Maharashtra and has 2.5 million inhabitants. The biogas will be produced from digested sludge from one of the city’s wastewater treatment plants in collaboration with local companies. Nagpur is participating in the Indian Government’s initiative to improve the environment and transport systems in the country’s 100 largest cities.

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Opel introduces new Corsa 1.4 LPG ecoFLEX, Corsa 1.3 CDTI ecoFLEX

The newly introduced Opel Corsa 1.4 LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) ecoFLEX develops 66 kW/90 hp and comes from the factory with a bi-fuel capability, and is specifically aimed at cost-conscious customers. LPG fuel costs are almost 50% lower compared to gasoline. The three-door model is available from €14,745 ($15,870), and the five-door model from €15,495 euros ($16,677) (RRP incl. VAT in Germany).

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Study finds unprecedented urbanization and urban expansion in East-Southeast Asia from 2000 to 2010

In an open-access paper published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, researchers find that urban populations across the whole of East-Southeast Asia have grown more rapidly than the expansion of urban areas, leading to increased population densities in some of the most populated yet vulnerable regions in the world.

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US submits target to cut GHGs by 26-28% from 2005 levels to UNFCCC; doubling the rate of reduction

The United States submitted its target to cut net greenhouse gas emissions to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The submission—an Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC)—is a formal statement of the US target, announced in China last year, to reduce emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025, and to make best efforts to reduce by 28%.

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Audi expects series production of zFAS central driver assistance controller within 2 years

Audi expects to begin the series production of the central driver assistance controller (zFAS)—the core of future systems for piloted driving under development by Audi, within two years. Audi developed zFAS in collaboration with TTTech, Mobileye, nVidia and Delphi. (Earlier post, earlier post.) Delphi has been awarded the series production contract.

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IBM to invest $3B in new Internet of Things unit; acting on Big Data

IBM will invest $3 billion over the next four years to establish a new Internet of Things (IoT) unit, and that it is building a cloud-based open platform designed to help clients and ecosystem partners build IoT solutions.

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Bridgestone launches new tire in Ecopia fuel-efficient line-up

Bridgestone Americas (Bridgestone) launched the latest tire in its fuel-efficient Ecopia tire line, the Ecopia EP422 Plus tire. The Ecopia EP422 Plus tire is engineered with a combination of light and strong materials for greater fuel efficiency, giving consumers an extra 20 miles per tank. The range projection is based on rolling resistance in lab testing comparing Ecopia EP422 Plus (215/60R16) to Firestone FR710 (215/60R16) when new, with the extra 20 miles based on 400 miles per tank. Actual results may vary based on proper tire maintenance, vehicle, driving style and road conditions.

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Fraunhofer IAO patent analysis finds China leading in Industry 4.0

Part of Fraunhofer IAO’s China TechWatch research project involves analyzing developments in Chinese technology. The project’s first white paper reveals that China is way out in front when it comes to patent applications for the basic technologies needed for Industry 4.0. Purely in terms of the number of patents filed, China has now far outstripped the United States and Germany. Since 2013, Chinese inventors have filed more than 2,500 patents in this field, putting China way ahead of the United States (1,065 patents) and Germany (441), with China’s efforts accelerating.

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Honda to unveil new China market SUV concept at Auto Shanghai

Honda Motor (China) Investment Co., Ltd., a wholly-owned Honda subsidiary in China, plans to stage the world premiere of an all-new concept model as well as other new Honda models at Auto Shanghai 2015 (The 16th International Automobile & Manufacturing Technology Exhibition, press days: April 20-21, 2015, public days: April 22-29, 2015).

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Hadrian South comes on-stream in US Gulf of Mexico ultra-deep waters

Production has begun in the Hadrian South Field in the Keathley Canyon area, located some 230 miles (370 km) off the coast of Louisiana, with water depths around 2,332 meters (7,651 feet, or 1.45 miles).

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2016 Camaro sheds 200 lbs (90.7 kg); new architecture

March 30, 2015

The new 2016 Chevrolet Camaro, which will make its debut in May during a special public event at Detroit’s Belle Isle Park, shed more than 200 lbs (90.7 kg) Camaro compared with the fifth-generation model. A new architecture, one of the most mass-efficient ever from General Motors, is responsible for much of the weight savings.

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KIT and Schaeffler working on new energy-efficient assisted steering system for EVs

Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT) and Schaeffler are developing a new energy-efficient assisted steering system for EVs under the project “Intelligent Assisted Steering System with Optimum Energy Efficiency for Electric Vehicles (e²-Lenk)” subsidized by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF).

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Report: VW e-Golf takes top EV sales spot from LEAF in W. Europe in Jan-Feb

The AID Newsletter reports that the Volkswagen e-Golf was the top-selling EV in the 17 West European markets during the first two months of 2015, ousting the Nissan LEAF from first place.

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Maverick expands synfuels plant line-up with bio- and landfill-gas-to-methanol offerings

Maverick Synfuels announced the availability of the Maverick Oasis BG Gas-to-Liquid methanol plant product line. These plants convert biogas from sources such as anaerobic digesters and landfills into higher value methanol, one of the world’s most widely used industrial chemicals. In September 2014, Maverick had introduced its Oasis GTL plants, small-scale, modular methane-to-methanol production plants that can be co-located at the methane source. (Earlier post.)

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Volvo Cars to build new $500M factory in US

Volvo Cars will build a manufacturing facility in the US, fulfilling its ambition to be a truly global car maker, investing around US$500 million in the plant and underscoring its long term commitment to the US market. The company has drawn up a shortlist of potential locations; full details of the location of the new factory and the size of the investment will be announced at a later date.

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HondaJet receives provisional type certification from FAA

March 28, 2015

Honda Aircraft Company announced that the HondaJet has received provisional type certification (PTC) from the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). (Earlier post.) This achievement indicates the FAA’s approval of the HondaJet design based on certification testing, design reviews, and analyses completed to date.

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MTU America fined $1.5M for selling uncertified engines

The California Air Resources Board (ARB), US Department of Justice (DOJ) and US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) joined forces to prosecute MTU America Inc. for selling uncertified large engines used in mining operations, resulting in a $1.5-million settlement which includes $300K to ARB to be used to fund school bus upgrades and air quality research.

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Volvo Cars demos self-driving cars in Beijing

March 27, 2015

Volvo Car Group demonstrated its autonomous driving technology (earlier post) to media and decision makers in Beijing today; Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven joined the event.

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Mercedes-Benz Vans to launch midsize pickup by end of decade

Before the end of the decade, Mercedes-Benz will launch the first pickup from a premium manufacturer. The new Mercedes-Benz midsize pickup will initially be targeted at markets in Latin America, South Africa, Australia, and Europe, all of which are posting sustained growth in this segment.

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Ceres accelerates sugarcane trait development following positive field results in Latin America

Ceres has advanced the testing of its biotech sugarcane traits to the next stage ahead of schedule due to positive data from initial field evaluations under tropical conditions in Latin America. Leading product candidates are currently being multiplied for wider-scale field evaluations which are scheduled to begin in May and June 2015.

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Gallup poll finds Americans’ worries about environmental threats easing

Americans’ concern about several major environmental threats has eased after increasing last year, according to Gallup’s annual Environment survey, conducted March 5-8. As in the past, Americans expressed the greatest worry about pollution of drinking water, and the least about global warming. Gallup trends on many of these items stretch back more than two decades. Last year’s increased worry proved temporary, with the current level of worry on each of the problems back to about where it was in 2013.

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Toyota updates hybrid LMP1 racer for 2015

Toyota has updated its championship-winning LMP1 racer for 2015 with new aerodynamics, revised front end including crash structure and new suspension kinematics to optimize tire usage, plus additional weight saving. During the 2014 season, the TS040 Hybrid took five wins from eight races.

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Peterbilt increases its natural gas offerings; medium-duty CNG, heavy-duty LNG

Peterbilt Motors introduced two new medium-duty vehicles powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) during the Mid-America Trucking Show: the Model 337 and the Model 348. Both vehicles are now in production and can be configured as trucks or tractors. The company also announced that heavy-duty models 579 and 567 are now available with liquefied natural gas (LNG); Peterbilt had begun production of CNG configurations of the 579 and 567 last year.

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Munich Re America joins U-M research partnership on connected and automated vehicles

Munich Reinsurance America, Inc. has joined the University of Michigan’s Mobility Transformation Center (MTC) Affiliates Program—part of a major research partnership of industry, government, and academia that is laying the foundation for a commercially viable system of connected and automated vehicles. The Affiliates Program has 27 initial members from a wide range of industries.

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Tritium and ChargePoint partner for fast charging across the US

March 26, 2015

Under a newly signed agreement, ChargePoint will install Australia-based Tritium’s Veefil DC fast charging stations (earlier post) across the US. The 50 kW Tritium stations are able to charge all cars equipped for DC fast charging, using the included SAE-Combo connector or a CHAdeMO connector. Tesla drivers will be able to use the CHAdeMO connector with an adapter slated to go on sale shortly.

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TTTech closes $55M investment round to scale IoT and autonomous driving solutions; new strategic partners join Audi

TTTech closed a €50-million (US$55-million) investment round involving two new key strategic partners: General Electric (GE Ventures) and Infineon Technologies AG. This funding is backed by the strong commitment of the existing shareholders, led by Audi AG. TTTech said it intends to use the proceeds to accelerate growth with its safety certified solutions in its core markets as well as to enable new value propositions and global support for its customers in the Industrial Internet of Things and autonomous driving car markets.

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Russia’s KAMAZ to create artificial city as autonomous driving testing ground

Russian commercial vehicle manufacturer KAMAZ is proposing to create an artificial city as a testing ground for unmanned vehicles. The project will cost about 5 billion rubles (US$87 million). In it, trucks without drivers will test out moving through traffic and navigating complex intersections and pedestrian crossings. Models of cars, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians will be placed on the testing ground.

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California ARB seeking Grantee to administer pilot project for enabling disadvantaged communities to purchase advanced tech vehicles

The California Air Resources Board (ARB or Board) is soliciting Grantee(s) to administer the Light-Duty Financing Assistance Pilot Project in Disadvantaged Communities. Funding of up to $1.5 million for this project is provided by Low Carbon Transportation Investments, which is funded from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.

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Report: Toyota wants hybrids to account for half of sales in Japan by next year

The Nikkei reports that Toyota Motor will roll out more hybrid vehicles in Japan, wanting them to account for one in two cars sold domestically by next year. The report suggests that the automaker is trying to keep pace with criteria for tax breaks for buyers of fuel-efficient, low-emission cars. More than 80% of cars sold in Japan now qualify for tax savings under the eco-car program, but only about half of new cars are expected to qualify after the implementation of stricter standards next month.

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Kenworth offering Maxwell ultracap Engine Start Module as factory-installed option

March 25, 2015

Kenworth will now offer the Maxwell Technologies ultracapacitor-based Engine Start Module (ESM) (earlier post) as a factory-installed option on new Kenworth T680 and T880 trucks. Kenworth dealers have offered the ESM as an aftermarket solution since 2011. With increasing demand for reliable truck engine starting, Kenworth is now the first original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to offer Maxwell’s ESM as a factory-installed option.

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Kenworth’s latest T680 Advantage gains up to 10% in fuel efficiency; driver assistance systems for fuel economy

The latest Kenworth T680 Advantage—Kenworth’s fuel-efficiency leader—has gained up to 10% in fuel efficiency compared to a standard Kenworth T680 built in 2013. The 10% gain for the heavy-duty truck equates to a yearly savings of more than $4,600 in fuel per truck for the average long-haul operation.

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Sandia releases literature survey of crude oil properties relevant to handling and fire safety in transport

Sandia National Laboratories, in cooperation with the Department of Transportation, has released a report on crude oil properties relevant to handling and fire safety in transport as part of a DOE effort to develop an understanding of scientific questions associated with the production, treatment, and transportation of crude oils, including Bakken crude oil.

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GE and EV Connect partner on EV charging

EV Connect, a provider of electric vehicle (EV) charging solutions, including a cloud-based software platform for managing electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, their interaction with utilities and the driver experience, entered into a joint marketing and product agreement with GE’s Industrial Solutions business. Under the terms of the agreement, GE will be a preferred charging station supplier of EV Connect, and EV Connect will be a preferred management provider for GE charging stations worldwide.

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FEV acquires D2T Powertrain

FEV GmbH, headquartered in Aachen, Germany has acquired French test systems and engineering service provider D2T Powertrain Engineering S.A. FEV GmbH takes over the business of D2T in France, its subsidiaries in Germany, China, the US and interests in South Korea and Japan.

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EV bus manufacturer Proterra reaches 1,000,000th mile in revenue service

March 24, 2015

EV bus manufacturer Proterra Inc. congratulated its customers on logging one million miles in revenue service. The company celebrated this achievement with an event at its plant in Greenville, S.C. honoring its transit agency partners for their leadership as EV pioneers.

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Siemens develops new low-weight, high-power electric motor for aircraft; enabling larger hybrid aircraft

Siemens researchers have developed a new electric motor that, with a weight of just 50 kilograms (110 lbs), delivers a continuous output of about 260 kW—five times more than comparable drive systems. The motor was specially designed for use in aircraft. Due to its record-setting power-to-weight ratio, larger aircraft with takeoff weights of up to two tons will now be able to use electric drives for the first time, Siemens said.

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$1.6M UK project for next generation of Li-S batteries for marine autonomous systems

Innovate UK will award £1.1 million (US$1.6 million) to a consortium of UK companies and academic partners led by Steatite for the research and development of the next generation of Lithium batteries for marine autonomous systems. In addition to Steatite, whose speciality is the design and manufacture of lithium battery pack solutions, collaborators include Li-sulfur battery company OXIS Energy, underwater vehicle designers and manufacturers MSubs Ltd, and the National Oceanography Centre (NOC).

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