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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.]

NEVS presents Saab 9-3 EV prototype

August 20, 2014

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Under the hood. Click to enlarge.

National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), the company working to resurrect the Saab brand, presented the Saab 9-3 Electric Vehicle as designed and produced as part of a prototype series in Trollhättan. NEVS halted production of the conventional Saab 9-3 Aero in May as it struggles to sort out its financing. (Earlier post.)

The EV prototype is a modified Saab 9-3 Aero Sedan in which the batteries are placed under the floor, keeping the full interior space as well as the luggage compartment intact. The car is equipped with lithium-ion batteries from Beijing National Battery Technology, a company within the Chinese group of green tech companies owned by Kai Johan Jiang’s company National Modern Energy Holdings Ltd.

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U. Mich study: natural-gas-based ICE, BEV and FCV all show promise for environmental benefits relative to conventional ICE

August 19, 2014

Results of a lifecycle analysis by a team at the University of Michigan suggest that multiple types of natural gas-powered vehicles—i.e., natural-gas burning ICE vehicles; battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) recharged with gas-generated electricity; and fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) using hydrogen produced from natural gas—all show promise for reducing environmental impacts, energy demand and climate change impacts relative to conventional petroleum-fueled internal combustion engined vehicles for personal mobility.

Qiang Dai and Christian Lastoskie found that BEVs and FCVs in particular offer significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, especially if carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies are implemented at the fuel conversion facilities. Their study appears in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.

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ORNL researcher suggests that most consumers better off with <100-mile EV range until battery costs drop to $100/kWh

August 18, 2014

Until battery cost is cut down to $100/kWh, the majority of US consumers for battery electric vehicles (BEV) will be better off by choosing an electric vehicle with a range below 100 miles, according to a new study by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) researcher Zhenhong Lin.

The research, published in Transportation Science, a journal of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), suggests reconsideration of the R&D goal that battery electric vehicles should have a driving range similar to that of conventional vehicles. It also implies that the focus of policy and R&D should be on continued reduction of battery costs to make short-range BEVs more price-competitive.

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Saleen introduces $152K FOURSIXTEEN performance version of Tesla Model S

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FOURSIXTEEN. lick to enlarge.

Saleen Automotive unveiled its FOURSIXTEEN Tesla Model S-based (the 85 kWh performance model) vehicle at the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance this past weekend. In addition to an enhanced aerodynamics package, the FOURSIXTEEN is propelled by Tesla’s 3-phase, four-pole AC induction motor and copper rotor with an upgraded Saleen drivetrain including an all-new 11.39:1 final gear ratio for quicker acceleration. Power (416 hp/310 kW) and torque (N·m) remain the same as in the base P85 Tesla Model S.

Also new for the FOURSIXTEEN is a Saleen-specific MAXGRIP locking differential that allows each wheel efficiently to apply rotational force and maximize traction and grip in performance environments. Saleen says that all of its engineered driveline components increase efficiencies in torque management, give a track-capable throttle response, and provide faster acceleration.

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Renovo shows production prototype of Shelby-based electric supercar

August 16, 2014

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Renovo Coupe Click to enlarge.

Renovo Motors, Inc. unveiled a production prototype of its Renovo Coupe electric supercar at the 2014 Pebble Beach Concourse d’Elegance. Using a factory-modified Shelby American CSX9000 rolling chassis (“Cobra Daytona Coupe”), Renovo’s eponymous coupe features twin mid-mounted sequential axial-flux motors producing more than 370 kW (500 hp) and 1,000 lb-ft (1,356 N·m) of torque, with a 0-60 mph time of less than 3.4 seconds. Top speed is more than 120 mph (193 km/h).

Renovo says that its mid-mounted motors, with a single gear direct drive, feature optimized energy mappings for a wide range of driving conditions. The drivetrain ramps to full power in 37 milliseconds. Curb weight is 3,250 lbs (1,474 kg). Price is $529,000.

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Lux: future use of wide bandgap materials in power electronics will reduce EV cost

August 12, 2014

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Power savings in plug-in vehicles versus total savings per car. Source: Lux. Click to enlarge.

Using wide bandgap (WBG) materials such as silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN)s for power electronics can improve efficiency and thereby reduce the high cost of battery packs, according to a new report from Lux Research. In the new report “Silicon vs. WBG: Demystifying Prospects of GaN and SiC in the Electrified Vehicle Market,” Lux projects that SiC will be adopted in electric vehicles in 2020.

As silicon struggles to meet higher performance standards, WBG materials are benefiting critically from evolving battery economics. As an extreme example (because of the very large battery pack), Lux notes that on Tesla Model S, a 20% power savings could result in gains of more than $6,000 in battery cost—8% of the vehicle’s cost.

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SCAQMD funding Siemens test of eHighway overhead catenary system for electric trucks in California

August 06, 2014

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Siemens and Scania have been conducting joint research into the electrification of road freight traffic with a focus on optimizing the integration of the drive system and pantograph into the vehicle and on providing the necessary traffic control systems. Copyright: Scania. Click to enlarge.

Siemens will conduct trials of its eHighway system (earlier post) in California on a two-mile (3.2 km) stretch of highway after installing a catenary system for electric and hybrid trucks in the vicinity of the largest US ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The company was awarded the associated contract by Southern California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD). The objective is to eliminate local emissions such as nitrogen oxides completely and to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels and cut the operating costs of trucks. The test results should be available in the summer of 2016, and will indicate the suitability of the systems for future commercial use.

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Volkswagen and Audi launch sustainability programs for US introduction of e-Golf BEV and A3 e-tron PHEV; carbon offsets with 3Degrees and solar energy

August 05, 2014

Volkswagen of America, Inc. introduced several e-mobility sustainability initiatives to commence with the US launch of the battery-electric e-Golf (earlier post). These begin with an investment in carbon reduction projects via a partnership with 3Degrees to offset emissions created from e-Golf production, distribution and from the estimated emissions produced from keeping the vehicle charged through the initial 36,000 miles of its life. VoA made the announcement at the Management Briefing Seminar, hosted by the Center for Automotive Research.

Volkswagen of America also selected SunPower as VW’s official solar energy partner; Bosch Automotive Service Solutions as its preferred home-charging and installation services provider; and ChargePoint to provide charging stations to the VW dealer network and to provide US e-Golf owners access to consumers to more than 18,000 charging stations nationwide. The 2015 e-Golf will go on sale later this year at participating dealerships in select states.

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Tesla reports Q2 non-GAAP net of $16M, GAAP net loss of $62M

August 01, 2014

For the second quarter for 2014, Tesla Motors reported non-GAAP net income of $16 million and a GAAP net loss of $62 million. Tesla includes both GAAP and non-GAAP financial information because it plans and manages its business using non-GAAP information. Non-GAAP financials exclude stock-based compensation and non-cash interest expense, while adding back the deferred revenue and related costs for cars sold with a residual value guarantee or similar buy-back terms.

Non-GAAP revenue was $858 million for the quarter, up 55% from a year ago, while GAAP revenue was $769 million. Automotive revenue for Q2 included $23 million of powertrain sales to Daimler and Toyota, reflecting the start of production deliveries to Daimler for the Mercedes-Benz B Class Electric Drive and the wind down of sales to Toyota for the RAV4 EV.

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Panasonic and Tesla sign Gigafactory agreement

July 31, 2014

Panasonic Corporation and Tesla Motors, Inc. signed an agreement that lays out their cooperation on the construction of a large-scale battery manufacturing plant in the United States (the specific location yet to be announced) known as the Gigafactory. (Earlier post.) During Tesla’s Q4 earnings call in February, Tesla CEO Elon Musk had noted that because Panasonic is Tesla’s primary partner on battery production, the “default assumption” was that Panasonic would continue to partner with Tesla in the Gigafactory.

According to the agreement, Tesla will prepare, provide and manage the land, buildings and utilities. Panasonic will manufacture and supply cylindrical lithium-ion cells and invest in the associated equipment, machinery, and other manufacturing tools based on their mutual approval. A network of supplier partners is planned to produce the required precursor materials. Tesla will take the cells and other components to assemble battery modules and packs.

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IIHS small overlap front crash testing finds mixed small car results; Volt wins 2014 Top Safety Pick+ award

The Mini Cooper Countryman was the only small car to earn a good rating among the latest group of 12 cars subjected to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) small overlap front crash test. Two battery- electric models and a hybrid also are in the mix, with varied results.

The Chevrolet Volt extended range electric vehicle and the Ford C-MAX Hybrid earned an acceptable rating in this test, while the battery-electric Nissan LEAF earned a poor rating. The gasoline-powered Mazda 5 small four-door wagon is rated poor.

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EPRI, 8 automakers and 15 utilities to create an open grid integration platform for plug-in electric vehicles

July 29, 2014

The Electric Power Research Institute, 8 automakers and 15 utilities are working to develop and to demonstrate an open platform that would integrate plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) with smart grid technologies enabling utilities to support PEV charging regardless of location. The open platform will simplify and streamline V2G (vehicle-to-grid) communications, enabling PEVs to provide grid services and increasing the overall value proposition of plug-in vehicles.

The goal of this program is to develop a cloud-based, central server that would receive grid requests from a utility—such as Demand Response—and then translate and standardize that request so it could be relayed to all appropriate plug-in vehicles in the designated area. Automakers would be expected to develop and deploy technologies compatible with these smart grid communications.

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Navigant forecasts global road transportation energy consumption to increase 25% by 2035; 84% from conventional fuels

July 28, 2014

In a new report (Transportation Forecast: Global Fuel Consumption), Navigant Research forecasts total road transportation energy consumption will grow from 81.1 quadrillion Btu in 2014 to 101.7 quadrillion Btu in 2035—an increase of 25.4%. Approximately 84% of that will be provided by conventional fuels. The United States is currently the largest consumer of energy in the road transportation sector, with nearly 23.1 quadrillion Btu projected to be consumed in 2014.

Navigant also projects that investments in alternative fuel and fuel efficiency improvements will reduce annual energy consumption in the United States year-over-year. Most developed countries in Western Europe and parts of Asia Pacific will also exhibit similar decreases in energy consumption. In contrast, energy consumption will grow in developing regions, particularly in Eastern Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East & Africa. Brazil, Russia, India, and China (the BRIC nations) will represent the largest increases, as the percentage of global road transportation energy consumed by these nations is forecast to grow from 20% in 2014 to 36% in 2035.

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Study finds testing the technology the strongest initial motivation for fleet managers adopting EVs

July 25, 2014

According to a report from Frost and Sullivan (Kumar, 2013), fleet managers adopted more than half of EVs sold globally up to 2013. A new study of factors influencing fleet managers’ adoption of electric vehicles has found that testing new technologies was the strongest driver of initial EV adoption, followed by lowering environmental impacts; government grants; and improving the organization’s public image. Thereafter fleet managers adopted or indicated an intent to adopt a larger number of EVs because of the benefits that they offer.

The study by William Sierzchula at Delft University of Technology, published in the journal Transportation Research Part D, used fleet manager interviews and pilot project report to investigate 14 US and Dutch organizations that adopted EVs from 2010 to 2013 to determine which factors influenced their purchase decisions. In addition, Sierzchula also analyzed the reasons why these same firms did or did not expand their EV fleets.

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California Energy Commission approves $46.6M for hydrogen refueling and $2.8M for EV charging projects

July 24, 2014

The California Energy Commission gave final approval for nearly $50 million in grant awards for hydrogen refueling and electric charging construction projects recommended for funding in notices of proposed awards published in April and May.

California’s zero-emission vehicle goal is to get 1.5 million hydrogen, battery electric, and plug-in electric vehicles on the roadway by 2025. In response to this directive, the Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP) has already allocated nearly $400 million to help bolster statewide infrastructure and create a viable market for zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), and to promote alternative fuels.

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ABB and Volvo Buses partnering on fast-charging system for hybrid and electric buses

July 22, 2014

ABB and Volvo Buses are partnering to co-develop and to commercialize electric and hybrid buses with open standards-based direct current (DC) fast charging systems. The cooperation will create a city-wide standardized charging system for electric and electric hybrid buses that can charge buses quickly through an automatic roof-top connection system at bus stops or through cabled charging systems overnight.

This approach, based on internationally accepted standards (EN61851-23), enables maximum re-use of existing e-mobility technologies, thereby ensuring a rapid deployment of urban e-mobility. The first joint project will be the implementation of Volvo Electric Hybrids and ABB’s automatic e-bus chargers in the Luxembourg public transport system, where as many as 12 Volvo Electric Hybrid buses operated by Sales-Lentz will be running on existing lines by 2015.

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Driving the VW e-Golf; strategy, assembly in Wolfsburg, Braunschweig battery plant

July 21, 2014

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The e-Golf. Click to enlarge.

The e-Golf (“Das e-Auto” earlier post), the Volkswagen brand’s second series production battery-electric vehicle after the e-up!, is a key model, as it is the best and most current implementation of its strategic decision to begin providing e-mobility based on large-scale production models rather than special “small niche” cars. The Golf is core to Volkswagen; the company has sold more than 30 million units worldwide since the first introduction in 1974. The e-Golf is based on current 7th generation Golf, itself based on the strategic MQB toolkit.

Put another way, Volkswagen’s goal, based on its strategic approach, is for the e-Golf to deliver the performance and handling of a Golf which happens to have a battery-electric powertrain. Based on a second, and slightly longer, chance to drive the new e-Golf unsupervised, we think Volkswagen has succeeded splendidly in this goal; we find the e-Golf to be a nimble and quiet electric delight.

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OpEneR: improving EV range by optimizing energy management

July 17, 2014

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OpEneR partners have developed driving strategies and driver assistance systems to improve the efficiency and safety of electric vehicles. Click to enlarge.

At its final review, the European research project OpEneR (“optimal energy consumption and recovery based on a system network”) presented collaboratively developed driving strategies and driver assistance systems to improve significantly the efficiency (and hence range) and safety of electric vehicles by optimizing energy management. (Earlier post.)

In comparison to a typical sporty driver, the OpEneR operation strategies resulted in a reduced energy consumption of 27 to 36%, with the trade-off of an increase in travel time of between 8 to 21%—depending on the driver’s willingness to follow the recommendations. Approximately 5 percentage points of the energy consumption reduction were due to intelligent torque distribution between front and rear electric motors in the demonstrators, which had no influence on travel time at all.

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BMW Group and Samsung SDI expand partnership on electric drive batteries; i3, i8 and additional hybrid models

July 15, 2014

The BMW Group and Samsung SDI have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to expand their supply relationship for battery cells for electro-mobility. Samsung SDI will supply the BMW Group with battery cells for the BMW i3, BMW i8 and additional hybrid models over the coming years.

The most important elements of the agreement are the increase in quantities delivered over the medium-term in response to growing demand for electro-mobility, and further technological development of battery cells.

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Consortium successfully runs silicon carbide multiport DC-DC converter in EV

July 11, 2014

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Silicon Carbide multiport DC-DC converter fitted to the Tata Vista EV. Click to enlarge.

A consortium led by motorsport and technology company Prodrive has successfully run a silicon carbide-based multiport DC-DC converter in an electric car. The converter controls power flow between multiple energy sources and has been able to achieve efficiency of 98.7%, while increasing power density and reducing the size and weight of the converter when compared to silicon-based systems.

A key aspect of the converter is the use of silicon carbide devices. These operate at a much higher frequency than equivalent silicon components—at 75 kHz in the test vehicles—with a significant reduction in switching losses. This has resulted in a significant reduction in the size of the magnetic components and has enabled the converter to achieve an efficiency of 98.7%, a gravimetric power density of 10.5 kW/kg and a volumetric power density of 20 kW/liter.

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Navigant forecasts MHD vehicle market to nearly double by 2035 with declining share of conventional engines; gases win out over electricity

July 07, 2014

The number of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (MHDVs) in use worldwide will nearly double between 2014 and 2035, according to a new forecast report by Navigant Research. Navigant projects that annual MHDV sales will grow throughout the forecast period at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.4%.

Alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs)—including battery-electric (BEVs), plug-in hybrid (PHEVs), propane autogas (PAGVs) and natural gas vehicles (NGVs)—will grow from 5.0% of the market in 2014 to 11.2% by 2035. A majority of these AFVs will be NGVs and PAGVs. Vehicles running primarily on hydrogen and electricity will make up less than 1% of all MHDVs in 2035, according to Navigant.

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Toyota, Grenoble, EDF and Citélib launching Ha:Mo EV sharing service as part of multimodal transport solution; small EVs for the last kilometer

June 29, 2014

In October 2014, a car charing service featuring 70 Toyota i-ROAD and COMS ultra-compact electric vehicles and around 30 charging stations developed and managed by EDF’s subsidiary Sodetrel will be open for service for a period of three years through a unique partnership between the City and the Metropolitan Area of Grenoble (France), French energy company EDF, Japanese car maker Toyota and Citélib, a local car-sharing operator. (Earlier post.)

Connected to the public transport system’s IT infrastructure, this new car-sharing scheme will complement Citélib, the current car-sharing service of Grenoble, by allowing users to pick up one of the small EVs at one location and drop it off at another. The project also aims to promote multimodal transport methods. The main idea is to allow commuters to drive electrically the first or last kilometers of their journey for increased flexibility and time-saving, thus contributing to reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality in city centers.

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Ford 1.0L EcoBoost wins 3rd consecutive Int’l Engine Of The Year; VW 1.4L TSI takes 9th straight win; Tesla the Best Green Engine

June 26, 2014

Ford’s 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine (earlier post) was named 2014 International Engine of the Year for the third consecutive year. Available in Ford Fiesta and the upcoming 2015 Focus, the 1.0L EcoBoost was also named Best Engine Under 1.0-Liter for third year in a row. The Best Green Engine Award this year went to the Tesla Model S electric powertrain.

Volkswagen’s 1.4-liter TSI twincharger also won for the ninth time in succession in the 1.0 to 1.4 liter cubic capacity category, making it the most successful engine in the history of this international competition for engine technology.

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LowCVP reports indicate pathways for meeting renewable energy targets in transportation, decarbonizing fuel to 2030 and beyond

June 18, 2014

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Illustrative impact of the fuel roadmap. Source: LowCVP, Element Energy. Click to enlarge.

The UK’s LowCVP has published twin reports which set out how the UK could meet its 2020 targets defined in the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive, and proceed on a pathway to decarbonize road transport fuel in the period to 2030 and beyond.

The LowCVP—the stakeholder body which brings government, industry and other stakeholders together to focus on the challenges of decarbonizing road transport—commissioned energy consultancy Element Energy to analyze the UK’s options for meeting the Renewable Energy Directive’s (RED) 2020 transport target which states that at least 10% of the final energy consumption in transport must come from renewable sources. This and the parallel Fuels Roadmap report benefitted from wide industry consultation and explicitly set out to align with existing powertrain roadmaps (including those published by the Automotive Council and the LowCVP).

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Team TAISAN and Power Japan Plus form partnership to develop electric go-kart powered by Ryden Dual Carbon Battery

June 16, 2014

Racing group Team TAISAN and materials engineer Power Japan Plus—a company that is commercializing a dual carbon battery technology (earlier post)—have formed a partnership to develop an electric racing vehicle, which will be the first to use the Ryden dual carbon battery.

Under this partnership, Power Japan Plus will provide Ryden cells and Team TAISAN will leverage its international racing experience to optimize the battery and develop a battery pack and management circuit. A go-kart powered by the Ryden dual carbon battery will begin test driving August of this year.

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California online dashboard provides information about PEV buyers; importance of incentive funds, $130M from California paid out to date

June 15, 2014

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Survey results show the importance of incentives in PEV purchases. Click to enlarge.

A new online tool published by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) and California Center for Sustainable Energy offers the general public, researchers, policymakers and stakeholders the opportunity to learn about who is buying plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) in California, and why. The online “EV Driver Survey Dashboard” offers multiple approaches to analyzing the data provided by a survey of those who received rebates for purchasing PEVs.

The dashboard gathers data from California plug-in electric vehicle drivers, providing monthly updates of market data on a variety of demographic and behavioral topics. The survey data sample represents CVRP applicants who purchased their vehicle between September 2012 and April 2014. Surveys were collected between October 2013 and May 2014.

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ANSYS Fluent now includes Li-ion battery models; ANSYS, GM, NREL, ESim CAEBAT project

June 05, 2014

ANSYS Fluent software—a leading, fully featured fluid dynamics solution for modeling flow and other related physical phenomena—now includes as standard Li-ion battery models, due to the efforts of ANSYS, GM, the Energy Department’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and ESim.

Over the last two and half years, the team worked on a DOE-funded project, Computer-Aided Engineering for Electric Drive Vehicle Batteries (CAEBAT) (earlier post), to combine new and existing battery models into engineering simulation software to shorten design cycles and optimize batteries for increased performance, safety and lifespan.

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Mitsubishi Motors running two new MiEV Evolution III electric racers in Pikes Peak Climb

June 03, 2014

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) will enter two MiEV Evolution III all-electric racecars in the 2014 edition of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (23-29 June). MMC has competed twice before in the Electric Division—in 2012 and 2013—and now with the MiEV Evolution III, hopes to take its first victory, this time in the new Electric Modified Division. (Also running in the Electric Modified Division will be a Tesla Roadster from Latvia.)

The MiEV Evolution III racecar is an improved and evolved version of last year's MiEV Evolution II. (Earlier post.) Main components—including the 50 kWh battery from Lithium Energy Japan, high-output electric motor and electric-powered 4WD consisting of four Meidensha electric motors—have been retained with improvements made to give better motive and cornering performance. To reduce weight in the pipe-frame chassis, the design has rationalized and some structural materials have been replaced.

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Japan automakers form joint venture to advance electric charging infrastructure: Nippon Charge Service

May 30, 2014

Toyota Motor Corporation, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Honda Motor Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation have jointly established a new company, Nippon Charge Service, LLC, to promote the installation of chargers for plug-in electric vehicles (PHVs, PHEVs, EVs). The goal is to help build a charging network that offers more convenience to drivers in Japan.

The new company will promote the installation of chargers, for the good of society and to expand the use of electric-powered vehicles. Related industries are also expected to benefit. Development Bank of Japan Inc. (DBJ) will support the joint effort of the four automakers by investing in the new company with its “Fund for Japanese Industrial Competitiveness”.

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8-state alliance releases action plan to put 3.3M ZEVs on their roads by 2025

May 29, 2014

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Projected ZEV compliance scenario for the eight states. Click to enlarge.

Eight partnering states released their Multi-State ZEV Action Plan as the first promised milestone for the bi-coastal collaboration to pave the way for increasingly large numbers of zero emission vehicles: plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), battery electric vehicles (BEVs), and hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). The partner states are California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont. Together they represent about a quarter of the nation’s new car sales.

The governors of the 8 states began this latest collaboration with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on 24 October 2013. (Earlier post.) The ultimate goal is to reduce greenhouse gas and smog-causing emissions by transforming the transportation sector over the next 11 years.

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Study finds V2G-capable electric school buses cost-effective with current technology; financial and environmental benefits

Electric school bus fleets with vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capabilities are cost-effective with today’s technology, and could save schools money while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving public health, according to a new study by a team at the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE).

Lance Noel and Regina McCormack conducted a cost-benefit analysis of owning and operating a V2G-capable electric school bus, and compared its cost-effectiveness to a traditional diesel school bus. They analyzed several factors, including fuel expense, electricity and battery costs, health externalities, and frequency regulation market price. The V2G-capable electric bus provides the school savings of $6,070 per seat in net present value ($230,000 per bus over the vehicle’s 14-year lifespan) and becomes a net present benefit after five years of operation. Without externalities (e.g., medical and climate change costs), the net present benefit would be $5,700 per seat.

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DELIVER electric light commercial vehicle demonstrator to make its debut at FISITA

May 28, 2014

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DELIVER. Click to enlarge.

Liberty Electric Cars, the European subsidiary of Green Automotive Company, has completed the build of the first fully functioning example of “DELIVER”—an electric light commercial delivery vehicle funded by the European Commissions’ 7th Framework Programme. DELIVER will have its world premiere at FISITA World Automotive Congress, which starts on 2 June 2014 in Maastricht (NL).

The DELIVER (Design of Electric LIght Vans for Environment-impact Reduction) project started in November 2011 with the goal of reducing the environmental impact in urban areas by 40%, along with delivering optimized ergonomics and loading space at affordable costs. Ten partner companies are involved in the design and construction of an electric light commercial vehicle.

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Industry study finds lead-acid to remain most wide-spread automotive energy storage for foreseeable future; new chemistries continue to grow

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Overview of the three vehicle classes identified in the study, and their corresponding battery technologies. Click to enlarge.

There would be a significant impact on the overall performance and cost of vehicles, plus an effect on targets for fuel efficiency and reduced CO2 emissions, if established battery applications were to be replaced with alternative technologies, according to a new study published by associations representing the European, Japanese and Korean automotive industry (ACEA, JAMA and KAMA); EUROBAT (the Association of European Automotive and Industrial Battery Manufacturers) and the International Lead Association (ILA).

The study, which provides a joint industry analysis of how different types of batteries are used in different automotive applications, concludes that lead-based batteries will by necessity remain the most wide-spread energy storage system in automotive applications for the foreseeable future.

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Kinetics Drive Solutions and Efacec collaborate on electric bus propulsion systems

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Kinetics’ NexDrive EV3-850 + PowerPhase HD electric drive system. Click to enlarge.

Kinetics Drive Solutions Inc. and Portugal-based Efacec Electric Mobility, S.A. are collaborating to deliver full-vehicle propulsion systems for electric buses. This solution is engineered to provide bus OEMs a fully integrated and optimized system that can be implemented on various platforms with minimal engineering development. Efacec’s first electric bus with the NexDrive solution will be deployed for field operation in July.

In April, UQM Technologies Inc. and Kinetics announced their collaboration to offer an integrated electric motor and multi-speed transmission system for commercial vehicle applications (earlier post); that system is used in the Kinetics/Efacec solution.

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Navigant forecasts plug-in and fuel cell vehicles to be 2.5% of all vehicles in use in 2035; global parc of >2B vehicles

May 20, 2014

In a new report, Navigant Research estimates that nearly 84.1 million new light-duty vehicles (LDVs) will be sold globally in 2014, putting more than 1.2 billion vehicles on the world’s roads. The company forecasts that annual LDV sales will grow to 126.9 million in 2035, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.0%. The number of LDVs in use worldwide will grow by 72.4% over the forecast period—i.e., to more than 2 billion vehicles.

Navigant forecasts that sales of conventional ICE vehicles will fall significantly over the period, experiencing a CAGR of -6.7%; the share of vehicles in use with conventional ICE powertrains will thus fall from 95% in 2014 to 45% in 2035. Navigant suggests that conventional ICE vehicles will be mainly supplanted by stop-start vehicles (SSVs), which will grow from representing fewer than 3% of vehicles in use in 2014 to around 45% in 2035. Hybrid-electric and natural-gas (HEVs and NGVs) will account for almost 8% of global share, while plug-in hybrid (PHEV), battery-electric (BEV), and fuel-cell electric (FCV) together will add up to almost 2.5% of the LDVs in use in 2035.

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The Volvo Group studies potential for dynamic charging for city buses with test electric road

May 19, 2014

The Volvo Group, in collaboration with the Swedish Transport Administration, will study the potential for building electrified roads on which city buses can be charged inductively at the same time as the bus is in operation (dynamic charging). A 300- to 500-meter electric road may be built for test operations in central Gothenburg during 2015.

The Volvo Group will develop a detailed proposal within the framework of innovation procurement from the Swedish Transport Administration. The proposal entails building a road section equipped with wireless charge technology and developing vehicles that will automatically charge their batteries when passing such a road section.

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Bultaco brand returning to market with electric two-wheelers

May 18, 2014

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The Bultaco Rapitán. Click to enlarge.

A start-up is bringing the old Bultaco motorcycle brand back to the market with the planned launch of a line of electric two-wheelers. The new company unveiled the Rapitán and Rapitán Sport prototypes—close approximations to the Bultaco motorcycles that will be brought to market later in 2014.

The Rapitán & Rapitán Sport will be powered by a 40 kW air-cooled brushless induction motor delivering 125 N·m (92 lb-ft) of torque, and a Li-ion battery-based energy storage system. Maximum speed is 145 km/h (90 mph) and expected range is 200 km (124 miles) in the city; 110 km (68 miles) on the highway; and 140 km (87 miles) combined.

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UC Riverside opening Sustainable Integrated Grid Initiative; integration of solar energy, battery storage and electric and hybrid vehicles

May 15, 2014

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Schematic of the “New Grid Testbed” components, including renewable energy generation, energy storage, smart distribution and electric transportation Click to enlarge.

The University of California, Riverside is opening its Sustainable Integrated Grid Initiative to research the integration of: intermittent renewable energy, such as photovoltaic solar panels; energy storage, such as batteries; and all types of electric and hybrid electric vehicles. It is the largest renewable energy project of its kind in California.

The first two years of operation is supported by a $2-million contract from the South Coast Air Quality Management District, awarded in January 2012. Construction of the initial testbed platform was also supported by an additional $10 million in contributions from UC Riverside and private partners. The testbed, which is located at UC Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT), includes:

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Gamma Technologies and Sendyne introducing comprehensive hybrid and EV simulation with integrated battery model

May 14, 2014

Gamma Technologies, in cooperation with Sendyne Corp., is introducing an advanced technology platform for comprehensive electric and hybrid vehicle simulation that combines Gamma’s GT-Suite vehicle simulator with Sendyne’s CellMod CPM and RTSim real-time solver. This new platform provides total electric and hybrid vehicle multi-physics simulation including engine, vehicle, electric machines, cooling, and aftertreatment systems, along with a Compact Physical Model (CPM)-based virtual battery pack.

Total vehicle simulation can reduce time to market, improve performance and cut costs by aiding in the optimization of the power delivery system. In order to ensure high accuracy of complete hybrid powertrain simulations, it is important that models capture the temperature-sensitive behavior of the involved components and the flow of energy between subsystems.

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GM’s Brownstown Battery Assembly expands; building new battery system for 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV

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General Motors Brownstown Battery Assembly Plant worker Tina Oaks attaches wiring harnesses on a Spark EV battery pack. Click to enlarge.

General Motors will bring all its electric vehicle battery pack building capabilities in-house with production of battery systems for the 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV at its expanded battery assembly plant in Brownstown, Mich.

A newly designed battery system features an overall storage capacity of 19 kWh and uses 192 lithium ion cells. The cells are produced at LG Chem’s plant in Holland, Mich. The battery system weight of 474 lbs (215 kg)—86 pounds (39 kg) lighter than the system in the 2014 Spark EV. The Spark EV battery is built on a dedicated production line at Brownstown, which also manufactures complete battery packs for the Chevrolet Volt, Opel Ampera and Cadillac ELR.

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California Energy Commission publishes investment plan for alt and renewable fuel and vehicle technology, 2014-2015

The California Energy Commission has published the “2014‐2015 Investment Plan Update for the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program”. The 2014‐2015 Investment Plan Update covers the sixth year of the program and reflects laws, executive orders, and policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, petroleum dependence, and criteria emissions. It details how the California Energy Commission, with input from stakeholders and the program Advisory Committee, determines the program’s goal‐driven priorities, coupled with project opportunities for funding.

The Energy Commission held public Advisory Committee workshops to collect feedback on the initial and then revised staff drafts; a lead commissioner report version was released on 8 April 2014, and the Energy Commission adopted this commission report at its Business Meeting on 22 April 2014.

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EIA: China promoting both fuel efficiency and alternative-fuel vehicles to curb growing oil use

May 13, 2014

Consumption of gasoline in China grew from 0.9 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2003 to more than 2 million bbl/d in 2013, according to figures from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). This continues a trend of significant growth in China’s transportation sector since the 1990s.

Increasing oil demand is requiring increasing imports; since 2009, China has been importing more than half of its petroleum needs. To counter this trend triggered by China’s rapid motorization, the Chinese government is adopting a broad range of policies, including improvements in the fuel economy of new vehicles and the promotion of alternative-fuel vehicles, EIA notes.

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Smith Electric Vehicles secures new strategic investor and battery supplier; production to resume in Kansas City in mid-2014

Smith Electric Vehicles (SEV) has secured a $42-million commitment from Li-ion battery developer and manufacturer Sinopoly Battery Limited for a conditional subscription of Series AA convertible promissory notes, Series E preferred stock and common stock of post-listing of SEV in the amounts of US$2 million, US$10 million and US$30 million, respectively.

The $42-million investment will position Sinopoly as a strategic shareholder in Smith Electric. Under the agreement, Sinopoly will become Smith Electric’s exclusive supplier for batteries in vehicle applications that are compatible with Smith Electric’s platforms and customer requirements. Sinopoly will also become a preferred supplier for certain electric vehicle components that can be manufactured in its Hangzhou facility. The first $2 million in funding closed Monday, and the remainder will be invested in two tranches pending milestones to be achieved by both companies in the coming months.

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CAM/PwC name Volkswagen Group most innovative global automotive company, Mercedes-Benz most innovative brand

May 12, 2014

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Top spot went to Volkswagen Group, followed by Daimler, BMW, GM and Toyota. Source: CAM. Click to enlarge.

The Germany-based Center of Automotive Management (CAM), in cooperation with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) AG WPG, named the Volkswagen Group the world’s most innovative automotive company in its 2014 AutomotiveINNOVATIONS Awards; this marks the fourth consecutive time Volkswagen Group has picked up the top award. The Volkswagen Group also received awards in the “Conventional drives”, “Alternative drives” and “Networked vehicle” categories. Daimler followed in second place, then BMW Group, GM and Toyota.

CAM also selected Mercedes-Benz as the most innovative brand; BMW came in second, followed by Volkswagen, Audi and Ford.

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BMW and SGL to triple production capacity at Moses Lake carbon fiber plant with $200M expansion; world’s largest carbon fiber plant

May 09, 2014

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A production line for carbon fiber takes the PAN precursor through two stages (stabilization/oxidation and carbonization) and then to winding. Source: SGLACF. Click to enlarge.

Due to the high demand for carbon fiber in automotive production, SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers, a joint venture between the BMW Group and the SGL Group, will triple the capacity of the carbon fiber plant in Moses Lake, Washington. SGL and BMW made the announcement at the groundbreaking ceremony for the planned site expansion. The expansion will be funded by an investment of US$200 million, on top of the previously invested US$100 million.

The site expansion, scheduled to be completed by early 2015, will make the plant in Moses Lake the world’s largest carbon fiber plant. At present, the Moses Lake plant operates two production lines, exclusively for BMW i, with an annual output of approx. 3,000 tons of carbon fiber. The expansion of the site in Moses Lake will make it possible for the BMW Group to apply carbon fiber material also in other model series in the future, at competitive costs and in large quantities.

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Coritech Services orders Ideal Power’s bi-directional battery converters for DoD vehicle-to-grid program

Ideal Power Inc., developer of a power conversion technology called Power Packet Switching Architecture (PPSA), received a purchase order for ten of its PPSA-enabled 30 kW battery converters from Coritech Services, a provider of custom engineering solutions for a variety of applications including electric vehicle charging. Coritech intends to install the battery converters in its bi-directional electric vehicle charging system for use in Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) applications for the Department of Defense (DoD).

A new approach to electronic power converters, PPSA has a 100% indirect power transfer compared to direct power transfer from conventional power converters. All the energy runs through, and is temporarily stored in, a high-frequency AC link consisting of an inductor and capacitor.

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Bosch offering range of complete powertrains for two-wheelers; Asia and smartphones

May 08, 2014

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Bosch regards the two-wheeler segment as one of the growth markets of the future and expects worldwide sales of motorcycles to reach around 150 million units in 2020, more than the equivalent figure for cars. Asia is a driver of growth. Source: Bosch. Click to enlarge.

Bosch is entering the global market for two-wheeler powertrains with its own range of complete systems. The company has developed an electronically controlled fuel injection system that can be adapted to any vehicle—allowing Bosch to offer solutions ranging from the cheapest single-cylinder two-wheeler in Asia to the high-performance bikes prevalent in Europe and North America.

Bosch regards the two-wheeler segment as one of the growth markets of the future and expects worldwide sales of motorcycles to reach around 150 million units in 2020, more than the equivalent figure for cars. Just as it is for cars, Asia is a driver of growth in the two-wheeler segment. Up to now, Bosch’s presence in the two-wheeler segment has revolved chiefly around automotive components modified for use in high-performance motorcycles.

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Volkswagen Group 2014 sustainability report shows progress on key environmental performance indicators; Strategy 2018 and leadership in e-mobility

The Volkswagen Group continues to make progress on the way to its goal of becoming the world’s most sustainable automaker, according to its 2014 sustainability report. The report provides information on the progress achieved in economic, environmental and social sustainability in 2013, and was drawn up in accordance with the G3 Guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). For the first time this involved the use of an IT system that in future will be expanded for Group-wide data acquisition and control activities, as well as for stakeholder management within the Group.

In the reporting year 2013, average energy consumption per vehicle produced was 2,205 kWh, down 0.4% from 2,213 kWh in 2012 and down 12.5% below the figure for the base year of 2010. Per vehicle CO2 emissions in 2013 were 422 kg, down 6% from 449 kg in 2013 and 19.5% lower than the 588 kg of the base year of 2010. The Group now takes one-third of its electric power from renewable sources.

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Tesla delivers 6,457 Model S cars worldwide in Q1; GAAP net loss of $50M, non-GAAP net of $17M

During the first quarter of 2014, Tesla Motors produced a record 7,535 Model S vehicles for global delivery; the company also delivered 6,457 cars worldwide—slightly exceeding guidance—while also filling the pipeline of deliveries into Europe and Asia. North American net orders grew sequentially by more than 10% in the quarter. Tesla delivered 1,181 cars with a resale value guarantee (RVG) in Q1.

Non-GAAP revenue was $713 million for the quarter—up 27% from a year ago, while GAAP revenue was $621 million, up 10.5% year-on-year. Q1 non-GAAP net income was $17 million—up 10.3% from Q1 2013 results—while Q1 GAAP net loss was $50 million, compared to Q1 2013 GAAP net income of $11.4 million. Both results include a $6.7 million net gain from a favorable foreign currency impact. (Tesla continues to report both GAAP and non-GAAP results.)

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Lux: Panasonic has 39% share of plug-in vehicle batteries, thanks to its deal with Tesla

May 07, 2014

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Panasonic jumps to top of the plug-in vehicle battery leaderboard, overtaking NEC and LG Chem. Source: Lux Research. Click to enlarge.

Batteries for hybrids and plug-in vehicles are growing fast, more than tripling over the past three years to reach 1.4 GWh per quarter, according to the Automotive Battery Tracker from Lux Research. Panasonic has emerged as the leader thanks to its partnership with Tesla, capturing 39% of the plug-in vehicle battery market, overtaking NEC (27% market share) and LG Chem (9%) in 2013.

Lux Research analysts used historical and current vehicle sales, detailed battery specifications for each car, and supplier relationships to create the Automotive Battery Tracker.

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ICCT study details differences in fiscal policies to support uptake of EVs across 11 major markets

May 06, 2014

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2012 and 2013 market share vs. per-vehicle incentive for battery-electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric PHEV (where applicable, only company car market incentives shown here). Source: ICCT. Click to enlarge.

The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) has published a new white paper detailing the differences in the fiscal policies used to support electric vehicle sales across eleven major auto markets. Tax exemptions and subsidies are playing a key role in spurring electric vehicle markets, but in widely divergent ways, the report by Peter Mock and Zifei Yang finds.

The ICCT study is the first to evaluate the response to fiscal incentives in 2013 to incentivize the purchase of plug-in electric vehicles in major vehicle markets worldwide. It offers a synthesis of wide-ranging sales data, national taxation policy information, and direct electric vehicle purchasing rebates to analyze the link between government policy and electric vehicle sales. To do so, it focuses on two representative vehicles, the Renault Zoe battery-electric vehicle (BEV) and the Volvo V60 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV).

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BMW Motorrad’s electric C evolution

May 01, 2014

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The C evolution. Click to enlarge.

BMW Motorrad is launching its battery-electric C evolution maxi scooter. (Earlier post.) Its two conventionally powered maxi scooter model—C 600 Sport and C 650 GT—combine the ride qualities of a motorcycle with the specific agility and comfort of a scooter; the C evolution adds the dynamism and emissions-free operation of an electric vehicle.

The C evolution is powered by a drivetrain swing arm with liquid-cooled permanent magnet synchronous motor via a toothed belt and ring gearing. The rated power output is 11 kW (15 hp), with a peak output of 35 kW (47 hp); maximum torque is 72 N·m (53 lb-ft). This enables the C evolution to achieve a top speed of 120 km/h (75 mph, electronically limited) and gives it better acceleration than some maxi scooters powered by engines with displacements of 600 cc or more.

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BYD’s “5-4-2” performance standard for New Energy Vehicles; 3 models over 3 years

Using the recent Beijing Auto Show as its stage, BYD introduced its new “5-4-2” New Energy Vehicle performance standard and a series of cars designed to meet it. “5” represents the maximum time in seconds to accelerate from zero to 100 km/h (0-60 mph in less than 5 seconds) in future car models. “4” stands for the number of wheels under power; BYD’s future new energy cars will be integrated with all-wheel drive. “2” stands for the maximum liters of gasoline maximum that will be consumed for 100 km traveled in a BYD car—i.e., 2.0 l/100 km, or 118 mpg US.

BYD introduced its first 5-4-2 vehicle at the show, the Tang plug-in hybrid SUV. Tang accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in only 4.9 seconds, has a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine paired with two electric motors and consumes less than 2L of fuel in 100 km traveled.

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DOE to award up to $10M for projects advancing Zero Emission Cargo Transport (ZECT)

April 30, 2014

The US Department of Energy (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), on behalf of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Office of Vehicle Technologies (OVT) Program, has issued a funding opportunity announcement (DE-FOA-0001106) to award up to $10 million for projects to accelerate the introduction and penetration of electric transportation technologies (ETT) into the cargo transport sector for Zero Emission Cargo Transport (ZECT).

Goals for awards resulting from this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) include demonstrating reductions of 1) petroleum use, 2) greenhouse gas emissions, and 3) criteria pollutant and toxics emissions. Other goals include evaluating the market viability of cargo ETT and collecting detailed information to analyze the benefits and viability of this freight transportation approach for this and other non-attainment areas.

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Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive priced at $41,450 for US; 85-mile range

April 29, 2014

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The MY14 B-Class Electric Drive. Click to enlarge.

The Mercedes-Benz MY14 B-Class Electric Drive (earlier post)—the first electric offering for the brand in the United States—is priced at $41,450, excluding $925 destination and delivery. Customers may be eligible for federal tax credits (which run up to $7,500) or state/local tax credits. The MY14 B-Class Electric Vehicle will be available beginning in mid-July to dealers in California; Connecticut; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; New Jersey; New York; Oregon; Rhode Island; and Vermont. 50-state availability will be announced in 2015.

All B-Class Electric Drive vehicles will be covered by Battery Coverage Plus which includes 8-year, 100,000 mile battery coverage, coverage for defects, coverage for capacity, no cost annual maintenance, and Roadside Assistance.

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UK to invest $841M from 2015-2020 to boost ultra low emission vehicle industry

The UK government announced plans to invest £500 million (US$841 million) between 2015 and 2020 to boost the ultra low emission vehicle (ULEV) industry and help drivers both afford and feel confident using electric cars.

The automotive industry is worth £11.2 billion (US$18.8 billion) to the UK economy, the government said. The production of ultra low emissions vehicles is a major part of growth both now and for the future. Full details of the elements of the €500-million plan will be published by autumn 2014; briefly, the different schemes include:

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First public test flight of Airbus electric 2-seat E-Fan aircraft at E-Aircraft Day; precursor to 4-seat extended range version

April 27, 2014

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The successful first public flight of the electric E-Fan experimental aircraft took place during the E-Aircraft Day in Bordeaux. Click to enlarge.

The Airbus Group’s electric E-Fan experimental aircraft made its first public test flight at E-Aircraft Day in Bordeaux, France. The electric E-Fan training aircraft is an innovative technology experimental demonstrator based on an all-composite construction.

Airbus Group plans to further develop the E-Fan technology demonstrator and to produce and market two versions of the aircraft by a subsidiary named VoltAir. The two-seater version E-Fan 2.0 will be a fully electric training aircraft powered only by batteries. The four-seater version E-Fan 4.0 will be a training and general aviation aircraft which will also have a combustion engine within the fuselage to provide an extended range or endurance.

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Navigant: US to remain largest national plug-in vehicle market over next 10 years; Tokyo to take metro market lead spot from LA

April 24, 2014

Navigant Research forecasts that the United States will remain the largest national market for light-duty plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) during the next 10 years, with LD PEV sales exceeding 514,000 in 2023. Currently, North America is the strongest market for light duty PEVs with nearly 100,000 sold in 2013, according to the market research firm. Japan is a distant second, with just under 30,000 sales, followed by the Netherlands (more than 23,000) and China (more than 17,000).

Navigant Research forecasts that the global LD PEV market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.6% while the global market for LD vehicles will grow at a CAGR of only 2.6% during that period. Navigant Research estimates the US PEV market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.3% between 2014 and 2023. Canada, which is about 1 year behind the United States in terms of vehicle availability, is expected to have a CAGR of 25.4%, reaching more than 66,000 vehicles in 2023.

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UQM Technologies and Kinetics Drive Solutions collaborate on electric drive systems for all-electric commercial vehicles

April 23, 2014

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EV3-850 combined with PowerPhase HD220. Click to enlarge.

UQM Technologies Inc. and Kinetics Drive Solutions Inc. are collaborating to offer an integrated electric motor and multi-speed transmission system for commercial vehicle applications that will benefit from a full system approach. This system is engineered to provide commercial vehicle manufacturers with an efficient electric drive powertrain while minimizing the development time for integration.

Advantages for customers will be a fully integrated and calibrated system that allows quicker time to market and reduced development time and cost, as well as fewer engineering variables. Systems will feature UQM PowerPhase HD electric motors and controllers combined with Kinetics NexDrive transmissions.

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Toyota Central R&D developing free-piston engine linear generator; envisioning multi-FPEG units for electric drive vehicles

April 22, 2014

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Toyota’s FPEG features a hollow step-shaped piston, combustion chamber and gas spring chamber. Click to enlarge.

A team at Toyota Central R&D Labs Inc. is developing a prototype 10 kW Free Piston Engine Linear Generator (FPEG) featuring a thin and compact build, high efficiency and high fuel flexibility. Toyota envisions that a pair of such units (20 kW) would enable B/C-segment electric drive vehicles to cruise at 120 km/h (75 mph). The team presented two papers on the state of their work at the recent SAE 2014 World Congress in Detroit.

The FPEG consists of a two-stroke combustion chamber, a linear generator and a gas spring chamber. The piston is moved by the combustion gas, while magnets attached to the piston move within a linear coil, thereby converting kinetic energy to electrical energy. The main structural feature of the Toyota FPEG is a hollow circular step-shaped piston, which Toyota calls “W-shape”. The smaller-diameter side of the piston constitutes a combustion chamber, and the larger-diameter side constitutes a gas spring chamber.

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Daimler-BYD JV unveils battery-electric DENZA at Auto China; 47.5 kWh pack; focus on safety

April 21, 2014

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DENZA. Click to enlarge.

Shenzhen BYD Daimler New Technology Co., Ltd. (BDNT) officially unveiled its DENZA all-electric vehicle at Auto China 2014, in Beijing. The world premiere of the serial production model is the culmination of cooperative efforts at the 50:50 R&D technology joint venture established by Daimler and BYD back in 2010—the first Sino-German joint venture dedicated to an all-electric vehicle in China. (Earlier post.)

DENZA is powered by an 86 kW (peak) motor that provides a maximum speed of up to 150 km/h (93 mph) and peak torque of 290 N·m. With 47.5 kWh lithium iron phosphate battery capacity, DENZA has a range of up to 300 km (186 miles). In light of the fact that the average daily driving distance in China is 50 to 80 kilometers a day, the typical customer will only have to recharge DENZA twice a week. Driving 100 km with a DENZA costs less than 20 RMB (US$3.20).

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Siemens and BAIC form JV to produce high efficiency electric powertrain systems for NEVs

Siemens AG and Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co., Ltd. (BAIC), one of the major Chinese carmakers, signed a joint venture agreement at the 2014 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition and outlined their plan to utilize Siemens’ electric drive train components in a range of BAIC new energy vehicles (NEVs).

The JV, Beijing Siemens Automotive E-Drive System Co., Ltd., will manufacture components for the electric drivetrain including power-electronics and electric motors. The new electric drivetrains consist of a safer and higher power density inverters and highly energy efficient motors. Prototype and small volume production will start in 2014, followed by mass production in a new Beijing-based factory in 2015. The production volume is planned to be more than 100,000 units per year with upside potential.

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Volkswagen Group launching major electro-mobility campaign in China; $25B on new vehicles, technologies and plants up to 2018

April 20, 2014

The Volkswagen Group is launching a major electro-mobility campaign in China—the the biggest initiative for e-mobility in China’s automotive history, said Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen AG, on the eve of the Auto China motor show in Beijing. The initiative gets underway with the launch this year of the Volkswagen brand’s battery-electric e-up! (earlier post) and e-Golf (earlier post) models.

The Porsche Panamera S E-hybrid plug-in hybrid (earlier post) is already in the showrooms in China; the Group will launch two further plug-in hybrid vehicles there next year with the Audi A3 e-tron (earlier post) and the Golf GTE (earlier post). Starting in 2016, this will be followed by two models developed specially for the Chinese market: These are the Audi A6 (earlier post) and a new mid-size limousine from the Volkswagen brand, both plug-in hybrids which are being developed together with the joint venture partners FAW Volkswagen and Shanghai Volkswagen and will be produced locally.

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Audi presents plug-in hybrid TT offroad concept car at Beijing; wireless charging

April 19, 2014

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Audi TT offroad concept. Click to enlarge.

Audi is presenting an Audi TT offroad concept at the Beijing International Automobile Exhibition. Like many of the brand's new production models, the Audi TT offroad concept is also based on the versatile modular transverse matrix (MQB). The TT concept features a plug-in hybrid drive with two electric motors and a system output of 300 kW (408 hp) and 650 N·m (479 lb‑ft) of system torque.

The show car accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 5.2 seconds and reaches an electronically governed top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph). Fuel consumption is 1.9 liters per 100 kilometers (123.8 mpg US), a CO2 equivalent of 45 grams per kilometer (72.4 g/mile). The Audi TT offroad concept can drive more than 50 kilometers (31.1 miles) solely on electric power, and has a total range of up to 880 kilometers (546.8 miles).

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Volvo Cars introducing S60 plug-in hybrid concept at Beijing show; production version in early 2015

April 16, 2014

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Illustration of drivetrain in the S60L plug-in hybrid concept. Click to enlarge.

Volvo Car Group (Volvo Cars) will reveal the Volvo S60L PPHEV (Petrol Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) Concept Car at the 2014 Beijing International Auto Show. A production version of the S60L plug-in hybrid will be launched in China early 2015 and will be produced at the Chengdu plant.

The S60L PPHEV Concept Car features the same electrification technology as the Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid, the first diesel plug-in hybrid, on sale in Europe. (Earlier post.) In the S60L, however, the diesel engine of the V60 has been replaced with a new, two-liter, four-cylinder gasoline turbocharged engine from Volvo Cars’ new Drive-E engine family (earlier post).

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Opbrid Bůsbaar demonstrates ultra-fast charging at 625 Amps; pathway to 2-3 minute bus charging

April 15, 2014

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The infrared photo shows a temperature increase of only 9.8 degrees at the junction between the pantograph and the overhead charging rail of the Opbrid Bůsbaar at 625 A. Click to enlarge.

During recent tests of Hybricon Bus Systems’ new Arctic Whisper (HAW) urban bus in Umeå, Sweden (earlier post), the Opbrid Bůsbaar achieved ultrafast charging at 625 amps for 6 minutes. This paves the way for charging at 500 – 1000 kW or more to achieve 2- to 3-minute charges at the end stations of longer bus routes. It also allows all-electric heating and 5 – 6 minute charging for the upcoming 18 m 4WD Arctic Whisper articulated bus.

The Opbrid Bůsbaar is an overhead, pantograph-based fast-charging station for buses. In the future, this technology may enable other applications such as medium-distance electric buses or even long distance buses and trucks, the company said.

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Audi and partner FAW to cooperate on plug-in hybrid for China; Audi A6 e-tron on long-wheelbase A6

April 09, 2014

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The Audi A6 L e-tron concept presented at Auto China 2012 in Beijing. Click to enlarge.

Together with its Chinese joint-venture partner FAW, Audi will launch a plug-in hybrid car for the Chinese market. The Audi A6 e-tron will be based on the long-wheelbase version of the Audi A6, which is already produced in China, and will be specially developed for the China market—Audi’s “most important,” according to the company. No details on powertrain specifications or market timing are yet available, according to Audi.

The full-size sedan will offer a 50-kilometer (31-mile) all-electric range when operating solely under battery power and is to be produced within the joint venture by FAW-Volkswagen in Changchun in northern China. In 2012, Audi unveiled an Audi A6 L e-tron concept at Auto China in Beijing with an all-electric driving range of 80 km (50 miles). At that time, Audi said that with its first e-tron technology study in the luxury class, it was showing what a locally produced New Energy Vehicle from Audi might look like.

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GM investing $449M in Hamtramck and Brownstown for next-gen electrification; vehicles and batteries

April 08, 2014

In preparation for the next generation of electric vehicles and advanced battery technologies, General Motors will invest $449 million to upgrade manufacturing processes at its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly and Brownstown Battery Assembly plants.

The investment is the largest to date at both facilities and includes $384 million at Detroit-Hamtramck for new body shop tooling, equipment, and additional plant upgrades to build the next generation Chevrolet Volt and two future products. This brings GM’s total investment at Detroit-Hamtramck to more than $1 billion over the last five years.

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DOE releases five-year strategic plan, 2014-2018; supporting “all of the above” energy strategy

The US Department of Energy (DOE) released its five-year 2014-2018 Strategic Plan. The plan is organized into 12 strategic objectives aimed at three distinct goals: Science and Energy; Nuclear Security; and Management and Performance. These objectives represent broad cross-cutting and collaborative efforts across DOE headquarters, site offices, and national laboratories.

The overarching goal for Science and Energy is: “Advance foundational science, innovate energy technologies, and inform data driven policies that enhance US economic growth and job creation, energy security, and environmental quality, with emphasis on implementation of the President’s Climate Action Plan to mitigate the risks of and enhance resilience against climate change.” Under that, the plan sketches out 3 strategic goals:

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ERTRAC publishes roadmap on energy carriers and powertrains; role for power-to-gas

April 07, 2014

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Main technology trends and the vision share of engines in Europe. [ERTRAC / EUCAR] Click to enlarge.

The European Road Transport Research Advisory Council (ERTRAC) has published a new roadmap assessing energy carriers and powertrains in the context of the European target to achieve a 60% reduction in CO2 emissions from transport by 2050. ERTRAC is the European Technology Platform (ETP) for Road Transport recognized and supported by the European Commission. ERTRAC has more than 50 members, representing all the actors of the Road Transport System: transport industry, European associations, EU Member States, local authorities, European Commission services, etc.

The analysis concludes that while the goal is challenging, it is also realizable; however the overall high-level goals need to be segmented into precise targets for the different industries and stakeholders. For the topic of future road mobility these are the development of alternative and decarbonized fuels and energy carriers; and higher powertrain efficiency leading to cleaner mobility and reduction in resource demand.

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California ARB posts final modifications for ZEV rule on fast refueling/battery exchange for public comment

April 05, 2014

The staff of the California Air Resources Board (ARB) has posted for public comment current final modifications for the Zero Emission Vehicle Regulation for 15 days. (Earlier post.) Statutorily, depending upon the comments received, ARB staff may either make further modifications and resubmit to Board for further consideration; failing that, the Board will adopt the new regulatory language.

These final tweaks to the ZEV rule involve the allocation of ZEV credits for different types of ZEV vehicles and the handling of the associated fast-refueling accreditation, which includes the possible use of battery-swapping.

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Volkswagen Group’s MQB plug-in hybrid powertrain; foundation for Golf GTE, A3 e-tron, and more

April 03, 2014

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The MQB plug-in hybrid powertrain serves both the A3 e-tron and the Golf GTE. Source: Volkswagen AG. Click to enlarge.

The first two mainstream plug-in hybrid electric vehicles from the Volkswagen Group—e.g., not the $845,000 base price plug-in hybrid Porsche 918, earlier post, or even the $100,000 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, earlier post—the Golf GTE (earlier post) and the A3 e-tron (earlier post), are both based on the same MQB (Modularen Querbaukasten, or modular transverse toolkit) plug-in hybrid powertrain.

The Volkswagen Group’s MQB modular toolkit is one of the four main modular toolkits (modularen Baukästen) of the Group: the MQB (transverse); the MLB (longitudinal); the MSB (standard drive); and the NSF (New Small Family). The toolkits standardize many vehicle component parameters across brands and vehicle classes, while at the same time offering access to new technologies, such as alternative drive systems. The new Mark 7 Golf, which is MQB-based, offers gasoline; diesel; natural gas; plug-in hybrid (the GTE); and battery-electric (the e-Golf) versions, all of which can be manufactured bumper-to-bumper on the same assembly line. The MQB spans the A0 to C segments.

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ZSW: more than 400,000 plug-in cars on road worldwide at beginning of 2014; 2x 2013

April 01, 2014

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Accumulated number of xEVs in leading global markets. Annual growth rate over the past three years is more than 100%. Click to enlarge.

At the beginning of 2014, there were more than 400,000 electric cars—battery-electric, plug-in hybrid, and range-extended electric vehicles—on the road worldwide, according to an analysis by Zentrums für Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoff-Forschung Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) in Germany. This represents a doubling from 2013, according to ZSW.

According to ZSW, the number of registered electric vehicles worldwide has increased at an annual rate of more than 100% over the last three years. At the beginning of 2012, nearly 100,000 of the cars were on the roads worldwide. This rose year later to a total of 200,000, and then to 405,000 units earlier this year.

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Tesla adding underbody triple shield system to Model S to reduce risk of battery fires caused by impacts

March 28, 2014

In an effort to reduce further the already low risk of a Model S battery fire resulting from impact with road debris, Tesla Motors is outfitting new Model S cars (as of 6 March) with an underbody triple shield system consisting first of an aluminum bar; then a titanium shield; and finally a shallow angle solid aluminum extrusion.

Tesla will also retrofit the system, free of charge, to existing Model S cars upon request or as part of a normally scheduled service, wrote Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk in a post on the Internet publishing site Medium. The action comes as an additional Tesla response in the wake of the two widely-reported Model S collisions in 2013 that resulted in underbody damage that led to car fires. Tesla had earlier provided an over-the-air software update to increase the default ground clearance of the Model S at highway speeds, thereby also reducing the odds of a severe underbody impact.

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Walmart showcases WAVE tractor-trailer at MATS; micro-turbine range extended electric vehicle with 45.5 kWh Li-ion pack

Walmart showcased its Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience (WAVE) at the Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS) in Louisville, Ky. WAVE is a tractor-trailer combination that features leading edge aerodynamics; an advanced turbine-powered range extending series hybrid powertrain; electrified auxiliary components; and control systems.

The project aims to demonstrate a wide range of advanced technologies and designs Walmart is considering in an effort to improve the overall fuel efficiency of its fleet and lower the company’s carbon footprint. Although the prototype currently runs on diesel, its turbine is fuel-neutral and can run on compressed or liquid natural gas, biofuels or other fuels.

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JEC updates well-to-wheels study on automotive fuels and powertrains; electro-mobility, natural gas and biofuels

March 27, 2014

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WTW energy expended and GHG emissions for conventional fuels ICE and hybrid vehicles shows the potential for improvement of conventional fuels and ICE based vehicles. Source: EUR 26236 EN - 2014 Click to enlarge.

Europe’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and its partners in the JEC Consortium—JRC, EUCAR (the European Council for Automotive R&D) and CONCAWE (the oil companies European association for environment, health and safety in refining and distribution)—have published a new version of the Well-to-Wheels Analysis of Future Automotive Fuels and Powertrains in the European Context. (Earlier post.)

The updated version includes a longer-term outlook by expanding the time horizon from 2010 and beyond to 2020 and beyond. It adds an assessment of electrically chargeable vehicle configurations, such as plug-in hybrid, range extended, battery and fuel-cell electric vehicles. It also introduces an update of natural gas pathways, taking into account the addition of a European shale gas pathway. Furthermore, biofuel pathways, including an entirely new approach to NOx emissions from farming, were thoroughly revised.

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Honda opens Smart Home US in California; produces more energy than it consumes; direct DC-DC EV charging

March 25, 2014

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The Honda Smart Home US integrates a number of technologies, and is managed by Honda’s Home Energy Management System (HEMS). Click to enlarge.

Honda marked the opening of Honda Smart Home US, showcasing technologies that enable zero net energy living and transportation, including Honda’s home energy management system (HEMS), a proprietary hardware and software system that monitors, controls and optimizes electrical generation and consumption throughout the home’s microgrid.

The home, located on the West Village campus of the University of California, Davis, is capable of producing more energy on-site from renewable sources than it consumes annually, including enough energy to power a Honda Fit EV for daily commuting. Honda Smart Home is expected to generate a surplus of 2.6 MWh of electricity over the course of a year, while a comparable home will consume approximately 13.3 MWh. The home’s occupant will be able to use less than half of the energy of a similarly sized new home in the Davis area for heating, cooling and lighting. The home is also three times more water-efficient than a typical US home.

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BYD’s Qin plug-in hybrid the best selling automotive EV in China

March 21, 2014

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2nd-generation Dual Mode (DM II) plug-in hybrid system of the Qin. Click to enlarge.

BYD’s second-generation Dual-Mode, plug-in hybrid electric sedan Qin has posted a second month of strong sales in February. Trends in March now make it “China’s Best-Selling Electric Vehicle” according to China’s National Passenger Car Association. In the first weeks of 2014, more than 6,000 Qin vehicles were sold, accounting for more than one-half of the Chinese new-energy vehicle market.

Analysts are not expecting sales to slow, as both Shanghai and Beijing announced earlier this month that they will now permit BYD new energy vehicles to qualify for local municipality green-vehicle incentives and be licensed in those regions.

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Ford installing GE WattStation chargers, charging network at facilities

March 20, 2014

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The WattStation Connect network will enable Ford to gather information on charging station use. Click to enlarge.

Ford Motor Company, in conjunction with GE, will supply electric vehicle charging stations at Ford facilities nationwide, beginning with facilities in and around its headquarters. Ford will begin installing the GE WattStation Level 2 charging stations across its North American campuses, developing a workplace charging network at nearly every Ford facility in the United States and Canada.

Ford now offers three plug-in vehicles: the battery electric Focus Electric, and the C-MAX Energi and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrids. Ford Fusion Energi and C-MAX Energi drivers typically make three of their four daily trips in all-electric mode, based on data from Ford’s MyFord Mobile app. Ford estimates that its customers now have logged 65 million all-electric miles, increasing at a rate of 290,000 electric miles per day.

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Study finds no benefit to delaying or weakening ZEV policies to drive transition to electric drive

March 14, 2014

A study by a team from the Howard H. Baker Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Oak Ridge National Laboratory concludes that starting the California ZEV (Zero Emission Vehicle) mandates five years earlier or doubling their intensity increases upfront costs but also increases benefits by a greater amount.

Similarly, the study found, delaying the ZEV mandate is estimated to reduce upfront costs, but cause an even greater reduction in the present value of benefits. Even using pessimistic assumptions about future costs of electric drive technologies, the study showed no net benefit to delaying or weakening ZEV requirements. The simulations also show the important synergies between California and US transition policies, the authors noted.

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Volkswagen: e-mobility and sustainability; Part 1, the e-Golf and Golf GTE

March 13, 2014

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The e-Golf. Click to enlarge.

In conjunction with its annual media and investor conference, Volkswagen is staging a two-week (8 - 21 March) e-mobility event at Berlin-Tempelhof. Although the company (both the brand and the larger Volkswagen Group) has been researching electromobility for a number of years; has previously outlined accelerating implementation of electric drive projects (e.g., earlier post); and currently has two battery-electric passenger cars on the market (e-Up! and e-Golf) with other plug-in models following, the event marks a very large and public stake in the ground, in terms of defining the current and future importance of e-mobility for Volkswagen.

At the event, Volkswagen is presenting its new battery electric e-Golf (earlier post), along with the battery-electric e-up! (earlier post) and a pre-production prototype of the plug-in hybrid electric Golf GTE (earlier post). Although the other electric-drive vehicles are prominent, the focus is on the new e-Golf—the first electric version of the most successful European car.

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BMW i8 customer demand exceeding planned production; improved fuel consumption

March 11, 2014

Series production of the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid (earlier post) begins in April, with delivery of the first customer cars to start in June 2014, beginning with the main European markets. Customers have already been able to place pre-orders for the BMW i8 in all major markets since autumn 2013; BMW says that demand for the BMW i8 is already exceeding the planned production volume during ramp-up.

In the run-up to production and delivery, in parallel to the completion of the statutory type approval, BMW engineers were able further to improve key driving performance and fuel consumption data. With the BMW eDrive in plug-in hybrid configuration, the i8 combines a 0–100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration time of 4.4 seconds with an EU test cycle average fuel consumption of 2.1 liter/100 km (112 mpg US) and CO2 emissions of 49 g/km. The related electricity consumption was measured at 11.9 kWh per 100 km. BMW had originally anticipated combined test-cycle fuel consumption of 2.5 l/100km (94 mpg US).

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Volkswagen Group’s new Future Tracks program targeting digitalization era in auto industry; “James 2025”

March 10, 2014

At the Geneva Motor Show and now at the IT trade fair CeBIT in Hanover, Germany, Volkswagen Group executive management has begun to outline its “Future Tracks” program which will address, among other things, what Chairman of the Board of Management Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn calls an approaching new era of digitalization.

In an address at the opening ceremony of CeBIT 2014 in Hanover in the presence of Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel, the British Prime Minister David Cameron, the Minister-President of Lower Saxony Stephan Weil and Prof. Dieter Kempf, President of BITKOM, the IT industry Association, Winterkorn declared that the increasingly intensive networking of cars with their surroundings and automatic driving would be the key topics for the intelligent mobility of the future.

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nanoFLOWCELL unveils flow cell battery prototype vehicle

March 05, 2014

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Powertrain of the QUANT. The two 200L (400L, 106 gallons US total) electrolyte tanks are packaged in the rear and central tunnel of the vehicle. Click to enlarge.

Liechtenstein-based nanoFLOWCELL unveiled the QUANT e-Sportslimousine, a prototype vehicle equipped with a nanoFLOWCELL flow cell battery powertrain, at the Geneva Motor Show. This flow cell system supports an electric driving range of between 400 to 600 km (249 to 373 miles) in the QUANT e-Sportlimousine prototype, the company claims.

Flow cells or flow batteries combine aspects of an electrochemical battery cell with those of a fuel cell. The electrolytic fluids in flow cells—usually metallic salts in aqueous solution—are pumped from tanks through the cell. This forms a kind of battery cell with a cross-flow of electrolyte liquid. One advantage of this system in general is that the larger the storage tanks for the electrolyte fluid are, the greater the energy capacity. Too, the concentration of an electrolytic solution contributes to the the quantity of energy that it transports.

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Nissan introduces the e-NV2000 electric van

March 04, 2014

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e-NV200. Click to enlarge.

Nissan introduced the Nissan e-NV200 battery-electric compact commercial van (earlier post), the second battery-electric vehicle in its global line-up, joining the Nissan LEAF.

The e-NV200’s electric drivetrain, based on that used in the LEAF, is combined with the cargo volume of the NV200 to create a practical and versatile vehicle capable of carrying people or goods. Although based on significant elements of the two existing vehicles, e-NV200 is a bespoke vehicle with a unique part count of more than 30%. When sales start in June, e-NV200 will be available as a van or as a five-seat people carrier in Combi or more luxurious Evalia guises.

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Volkswagen to introduce Passat Plug-in hybrid “soon”; Group electrifying more than 40 more models over next few years

In remarks before the opening of the Geneva Motora Show, Volkswagen Group Chairman of the Board of Management Prof. Dr. Winterkorn said that a plug-in hybrid version of the Volkswagen Passat would join the Group’s range of low-CO2 vehicles “soon.”

In his remarks, Winterkorn noted that Group research and development expenditure rose by 15% last year to the record value of €10.2 billion (US $14 billion), with the “lion’s share going to green technologies.” Winterkorn said that the Group was reinforcing its objective to become the world’s leading automaker, also in ecological terms, by 2018.

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Kia using SK Innovation NCM Li-ion cells in Soul EV

February 24, 2014

Kia is using lithium-ion polymer battery cells supplied by SK Inovation in the battery pack for the new Soul EV (earlier post). The pack, featuring an energy density of 200 Wh/kg (on the high end of specific energy ratings for current EVs), is the result of a three-year joint development program between Kia Motors Corporation and SK Innovation in Korea. The Soul EV offers a driving range of around 200 km (124 miles) on a single charge.

Engineers from Kia developed the pack with 192 SK lithium-ion polymer battery cells in eight modules, for a total capacity of 27 kWh. The pack incorporates advanced thermal control technology to maintain individual cells at optimum temperature and structural design to enhance crash worthiness.

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Study finds 20-25% of EV range lost as psychological safety buffer; driver assistance systems could shrink that buffer

February 23, 2014

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Adaptive control of range resources. Drivers compare the current range situation with their range level reference values, which are driven by certain trait and coping skill variables. As a result, coping strategies are adapted (e.g., drive more economically, do not use EV). This leads to a certain efficiency of range utilization. Source: Franke (2014) Click to enlarge.

Between 20 to 25% of the potential range of an electric vehicle is lost as a psychological safety buffer, according to a study by a doctoral candidate at Technische Universität Chemnitz in Germany. The results of the study, which also suggested that assistance systems could reduce the size of that buffer, were based on more than 400,000 km (249,000 miles) of user experience gathered in the research project “MINI E Berlin powered by Vattenfall”. (Earlier post.)

The MINI E project was funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. The Professorship of Cognitive and Engineering Psychology of TU Chemnitz was involved in the project from the start, alongside with BMW and Vattenfall and other university partners. During the field study a total of 79 users drove the MINI E for six months. The psychologists of TU Chemnitz conducted qualitative interviews at several points in time. In addition, questionnaires, diary methods and data loggers were used.

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Update on Honda/GM fuel cell partnership; “It’s about cost reduction”

February 21, 2014

In July 2013, General Motors and Honda announced a long-term, definitive master agreement to co-develop next-generation fuel cell system and hydrogen storage technologies, aiming for the 2020 time frame. (Earlier post.) At the SAE 2014 Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Technologies Symposium, Mark Mathias, Director, Fuel Cell R&D for GM, provided an update on the collaboration, as well as a brief dive into the technical drivers behind the ongoing automotive efforts on fuel cell propulsion related to the scaling properties of batteries and fuel cells.

The GM/Honda partnership is about cost reduction, Mathias said. “We have vehicles now that work and can be durable, it’s really now about making a business out of the technology. Obviously it involves both the vehicle and the infrastructure and the hydrogen supply, so there are a lot of elements to this.

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Zytek lightweight electric powertrain for Yamaha’s MOTIV.e city car concept

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Zytek’s lightweight 25kW powertrain drives the Yamaha MOTIV.e through a Vocis single ratio transmission. A further development of the electric machine will deliver more power and torque from the same compact package. Click to enlarge.

Yamaha’s new MOTIV.e city car concept, shown at the Tokyo motorshow, is powered by an electric drive system from Zytek that employs a range of new design approaches to minimize the cost, weight and size of the powertrain while maximizing the performance and range. By supplying a number of core high-voltage components as an optimized system, Zytek is also minimizing the time required for vehicle development.

MOTIV.e comes from the partnership between Yamaha and Gordon Murray Design, using Murray’s iStream manufacturing technology; Murray has partnered in the past with Zytek on the T.27 City Car—the technology basis for the MOTIV.e. (Earlier post). Zytek Automotive, a specialist EV/HEV/fuel cell engineering consultancy, is a subsidiary of Continental, the global powertrain, chassis and interior products supplier.

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BMW provides initial look at X5 eDrive plug-in hybrid prototype

February 20, 2014

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BMW X5 plug-in hybrid prototype at Efficient Dynamics Innovation Days 2014. Click to enlarge.

At BMW’s Efficient Dynamics Innovation Days 2014 in Germany, the company provided the first opportunities for test-driving the BMW X5 eDrive plug-in hybrid (PHEV) prototype (earlier post). BMW also presented the first four-cylinder member of its new EfficientDyanamics engine family—the 2.0-liter unit would serve as the engine component in a future production X5 eDrive PHEV—as well as ideas for future solutions in the field of lightweight design, aerodynamics and thermal management.

Powertrain technology is key to BMW’s EfficientDynamics strategy, with a dual focus on the continuous evolution of conventional internal combustion engines on the one hand and the development of alternative drive concepts on the other. As well as achieving significant emissions reductions based on continuous evolutionary advances of the TwinPower Turbo gasoline and diesel engines, future BMW core brand models will also benefit from the transfer of new electrified drive technology (BMW eDrive) developed by the BMW i sub-brand.

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Tesla shipped 6,892 Model S units in Q4 2013, 22,477 full year; battery Gigafactory announcement next week

Tesla Motors announced record deliveries of 6,892 Model S vehicles worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2013, with 22,477 vehicles in the full year. For the quarter, non-GAAP revenue was $761 million, up 26% from Q3. GAAP revenue for Q4 was $615 million, up 43% from Q3. Q4 non-GAAP net income was $46 million, or $0.33 per share, while Q4 GAAP net loss was $16 million or $(0.13) per share.

The differences between GAAP and non-GAAP are primarily due to lease accounting for resale value guarantee (RVG) and employee stock-based compensation as a result of the increase in stock price last year. The results show Tesla moving closer to break-even or profitability even on a GAAP basis. (GAAP net loss per share for the quarter ending 30 Sep 2013 was $(0.32), and for Q4 of 2012, $(0.79). For the full 2013 calendar year, net loss per share $(0.62), while for all of 2012, it was $(3.69).

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New 3-speed EV powertrain to offer 10-15% improvement in EV range

February 19, 2014

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Compared to a single-speed EV or HEV transmission, DSD’s MSYS 3-speed system provides a 40% weight saving and 10-15% lower energy consumption. Click to enlarge.

UK-based Drive System Design is developing a new EV powertrain based on an alternate approach to powershifting (no torque interrupt) achieved by separating the existing functions of a synchronizer. The integrated design of an axial flux YASA motor (earlier post) with the multi-speed transmission contributes to simplification of the motor cooling system, electrical architecture and powertrain control system.

The MSYS system can mean a 10-15% improvement in the range of electric vehicles, the company says. (Earlier post.) The company was recently showcased at the Cleantech Innovate 2014 event by the UK’s LowCVP organization (Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership), along with 7 other companies. DSD was the winner of a LowCVP commendation as the most impressive of the road transport-focused entries.

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Study finds that EV-specific factors rather than socio-demographic variables better predictors of EV uptake

A study by researchers at the Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands) examining the impact of financial incentives and other socio-economic factors on electric vehicle (both plug-in hybrids and battery electrics) adoption in 30 countries found that financial incentives; the number of charging stations (corrected for population); and the presence of a local manufacturing facility were positive and significant in predicting EV adoption rates for the countries studied.

Of those, charging infrastructure was the best predictor of a country’s EV market share. However, the team cautions in their paper in Energy Policy, descriptive analyses indicated how country-specific factors such as government procurement plans or the target recipient of subsidies can significantly affect the adoption rate. In other words, neither financial incentives nor charging infrastructure ensure high electric vehicle adoption rates. However, on the whole, they conclude, the analysis tentatively endorses financial incentives and charging infrastructure as a way to encourage EV adoption.

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MHI to supply 2 electric buses featuring MLIX Li-ion batteries for Kitakyushu City

February 17, 2014

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) will supply two electric buses to serve in a transportation system being planned by the city of Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan. The buses—full-size, low-floor models for the city’s regular route network—will operate on MHI’s high-performance “MLIX” lithium-ion rechargeable batteries.

In combination with a lighter body enabled by the partial adoption of carbon fiber construction, the new buses will be able to operate continuously over increased distances—up to 80 kilometers (50 miles) on a full charge, at a top speed of 85 km/h (53 mph). Load capacity is 72 passengers.

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Volkswagen launches the battery-electric e-Golf in Germany; “Das e-Auto”

February 15, 2014

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The e-Golf shown at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in January. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen has launched the battery-electric version of the Golf, the e-Golf, in Germany with immediate availability. (Earlier post.) In launching the new e-Golf, Volkswagen is bringing the most successful European car ever onto the market as a full production electric vehicle. The e-Golf, sporting signature LED headlights, is available from €34,900 (US$47,796), including an 8-year / 160,000-kilometer (99,419-mile) battery warranty.

The launch of the e-Golf marks Volkswagen’s second electric vehicle brought to market inside six months; the first was the e-up!. (Earlier post.) The e-Golf features low power consumption of 12.7 kWh/100 km (the frugal e-up! offers power consumption of 11.7 kWh/100 km). As a comparison, the Nissan LEAF consumes 15 kWh/100 km (in accordance with UN/ECE Regulation 101).

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Toyota to begin wireless vehicle charging system verification testing

February 13, 2014

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) will begin verification testing of its newly developed wireless battery charging system for plug-in electric vehicles—such as plug-in hybrids and battery-electric vehicles—in late February in Aichi Prefecture, Japan. The system can charge a vehicle parked in alignment over a coil on the surface of the ground, making the charging process simpler and more convenient.

The charging system uses magnetic-resonance technology, which transmits electricity by utilizing the magnetic resonance resulting from changes in magnetic field intensity between a coil on the ground that transmits and a coil on the vehicle that receives.

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Calif. ARB releases GHG scoping plan update; more ZEVs, “LEV IV”, MD and HD regulations; ZEV for trucks; more LCFS

February 11, 2014

The California Air Resources Board released the draft proposed first update to the AB 32 Scoping Plan, which guides development and implementation of California’s greenhouse gas emission reduction programs. The Air Resources Board is required to update the Scoping Plan every five years.

Among the actions proposed or considered in the transportation sector include aggressive implementation of the light-duty Zero Emission Vehicle standard; LEV IV emissions regulations for the light-duty fleet post-2025 (GHG reductions of about 5% per year); Phase 2 GHG regulations for medium and heavy-duty (MD and HD) vehicles; a possible ZEV regulation for trucks; more stringent carbon reduction targets for the Low Carbon Fuel Standard; and others.

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Sumitomo installs first large-scale power system using used EV batteries

February 08, 2014

Sumitomo Corporation has developed and installed the first large-scale power storage system which utilizes used batteries collected from electric vehicles. This commercial scale storage system, built on Yume-shima Island, Osaka, will begin operating in February 2014.

Sumitomo Corporation created the joint venture company, 4R Energy Corporation, in collaboration with Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. in September 2010, to address the secondary use of EV lithium-ion batteries. (Earlier post.) The used EV batteries that will be recycled into this large-scale storage system have been recovered and have gone through thorough inspection and maintenance at 4R, to confirm safety and performance. This prototype system (600kW/400kWh) consists of sixteen used EV batteries.

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Renault unveils Next Two autonomous electric vehicle prototype for 2020

February 06, 2014

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The Next Two prototype. Click to enlarge.

Renault has unveiled the Next Two concept—the company’s current vision of an autonomous drive (AD) capable electric vehicle for the year 2020.

The Next Two prototype—based on a Renault ZOE—focuses on two areas: the delegation of driving functions under certain conditions and connectivity. Using sensor technologies, Next Two enables the delegation of driving functions from the driver to the car in congested traffic up to km/h (18.6 mph) on main roads. It also offers an Automated Valet Parking function which permits the vehicle to park itself completely autonomously in car parks equipped to cater for automated vehicles. This includes both finding a parking place and the necessary maneuvering.

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