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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.]

First look at all-new Voltec propulsion system for 2G Volt; “the only thing in common is a shipping cap”

October 29, 2014

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Cutaway of the new power electronics unit, which is much smaller than in gen 1, and which is now integrated into the drive unit housing. The power electronics and the motors use separate cooling: water for the PE and ol for the motor unit. Click to enlarge.

The second-generation Volt, which makes its world debut in about 10 weeks at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, features a clean-sheet, all-new Voltec propulsion system—new battery, new electric drive unit, new power electronics and new range-extending engine. At an introductory media briefing on the new powertrain held at the Warren Transmission Plant in Michigan, where the new drive unit will be built, Larry Nitz, GM Executive Director, Transmission and Electrification, noted that the only common part between the gen 1 and gen 2 drive units was a little yellow plastic intra-plant shipping cap for the manual selector.

The battery cells, with a tweaked NMC/LMO chemistry from LG, increase storage capacity by 20% volumetrically when compared to the original cell. The drive unit features a large number of changes: new roles for the two motors, two clutches instead of three, and a smaller power electronics unit integrated into the housing among them. (No more big orange high-voltage cables underneath the hood.) The new direct-injected 1.5 liter engine with cooled EGR features a high compression ratio and is optimized to function in its range extender role.

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GM Warren Transmission Plant to build electric drive unit for second-gen Volt; part of $300M investment in Michigan through end of year

October 28, 2014

Later today at the Detroit Economic Club, General Motors CEO Mary Barra will confirm that its Warren Transmission Plant will build the new electric drive unit—the GM Voltec 4ET50 Multi-Mode EDU—for the upcoming second-generation Chevrolet Volt. As a result, most major Volt powertrain components—from the battery cells to the new 1.5-liter range-extending engine—will be made in Michigan, establishing the state as the company’s global engineering center of excellence for vehicle electrification. The new Volt will debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January 2015.

The drive unit for the first-generation Volt consists of two motors—a 111 kW main traction and 63 kW (at 4800 rpm) generator motor (55 kW generator output)—as well as three clutches and a planetary gear set tucked in the end of the traction motor that improve overall efficiency by reducing the combined rotational speed of the electric motors as needed. (Earlier post.) GM will subsequently be providing details of the second-generation drive unit.

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European Council endorses 40% GHG cut by 2030; requests ways to cut transport emissions via efficiency, electrification and renewable fuels

October 24, 2014

On 23 October, leaders of the European Union agreed on the climate and energy policy framework for the EU for the period from 2020 to 2030. During its meeting, the European Council endorsed 4 targets: a binding EU target of at least 40% less greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared to 1990; a binding target of at least 27% of renewable energy used at EU level; an energy efficiency increase of at least 27%; and the completion of the EU-internal energy market by reaching an electricity interconnection target of 15% between members states and pushing forward important infrastructure projects.

The Council members also requested further examination by the European Commission on instruments and measures for a comprehensive and technology-neutral approach to reduce emissions and increase energy efficiency in transport, for electric transportation and for the use of renewable energy sources in transport after 2020.

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8 ZEV states announce US ZEV sales top 260,000 units

October 23, 2014

Representatives of an eight-state partnership to develop and to support the market for zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) joined California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary D. Nichols in Diamond Bar, California to announce that sales figures from around the country now show ZEV sales of more than 260,000 vehicles, with the quarter-million mark reached in September.

In October 2013, the 8 states signed a memorandum of understanding to take specific actions to put 3.3 million ZEVS on the roads in their states by 2025 (earlier post); the partners released a ZEV Action Plan in June 2014 (earlier post). Californians have purchased or leased more than 100,000 ZEVs. The other seven states—Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont—account for more than 135,000 vehicles.

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Navigant Research forecasts plug-ins will be 2.4% of global new vehicle sales by 2023; luxury brands to represent about 50% of that

Navigant Research forecasts that plug-in EVs (which include plug-in hybrids and battery EVs), will represent 2.4% of total worldwide light-duty vehicle sales by 2023, or about 2.5 million units. In its new report, “Global Forecasts for Light Duty Hybrid, Plug-In Hybrid, and Battery Electric Vehicle Sales and Vehicles in Use: 2014-2023”, Navigant notes that luxury brands, which have benefited in recent years from increased interest from the developing markets of Asia Pacific, have committed more strongly to plug-in EV platforms.

Accordingly, Navigant expects this luxury brand push to increase global sales of plug-in EVs significantly in the near term. Navigant expects sales of plug-in EVs from luxury manufacturers, such as Tesla, Mercedes, Audi, and BMW to grow strongly through 2018 before leveling off at around 50% of the plug-in EV market.

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CMU/MIT study finds large-scale battery manufacturing will do little to reduce unit costs past a 200-300 MWh annual production level

October 22, 2014

A new techno-economic analysis by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and MIT has found that economies of scale for manufacturing current Li-ion batteries for light-duty EV applications (in this case, prismatic pouch NMC333-G batteries and packs) are reached quickly at around 200-300 MWh annual production. Increased volume beyond that does little to reduce unit costs, except potentially indirectly through factors such as experience, learning, and innovation, they determined.

That’s comparable to the amount of batteries produced for the Nissan Leaf or the Chevy Volt last year,” said CMU’s Dr. Jeremy Michalek, the corresponding author of a paper on the research published in the Journal of Power Sources. “Past this point, higher volume alone won’t do much to cut cost. Battery cost is the single largest economic barrier for mainstream adoption of electric vehicles, and large factories alone aren’t likely to solve the battery cost problem.

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Daimler restructures cooperation with Tesla; termination of share-price hedging and sale of 4% stake

October 21, 2014

Daimler AG has restructured its cooperation with Tesla Motors. Daimler has terminated the share-price hedge it initiated in 2013 and has sold its stake in Tesla of approximately 4%. The cooperation between the partners on the automotive projects is unaffected. Development work for the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive (http://www.greencarcongress.com/2014/10/20141021-bklasse.html) is completed, and the partnership with Tesla remains in place, Daimler said.

Daimler initially acquired a 9.1% interest in Tesla in May 2009. 40% of that investment was transferred to Aabar Investments PJSC in the context of a joint strategic project in July 2009. Tesla has been listed on the stock exchange since the end of June 2010. As a result of capital increases at Tesla, Daimler’s stake in the company decreased to around 4%, without affecting the two companies’ strategic cooperation or joint development projects.

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More on the Mercedes-Benz 2014 B-Class alternative drive systems: electric and natural gas

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B-Class Electric Drive (right) and B-Class Natural Gas Drive (left). Click to enlarge.

Mercedes-Benz earlier gave the already successful B-Class a thorough facelift, giving particular attention to an upgrade of the interior. (Earlier post.) The revamped B-Class offers a choice of five diesel models with fuel ranging from 3.6 to 5.0 l/100 km (65.3 to 47 mpg US) and four gasoline engines at between 5.4 and 6.6 l/100 km (43.6 and 35.6 mpg US) as well as the B-Class Electric Drive (earlier post) and the B 200 Natural Gas Drive.

Both alternative drive models feature the modular “ENERGY SPACE” bodyshell concept: the underbody houses either the lithium-ion battery (B-Class Electric Drive) or one large and two smaller natural gas tanks and a 14‑liter gasoline tank (B 200 Natural Gas Drive). The B-Class Electric Drive and the B-Class Natural Gas Drive also differ in design from the gasoline and diesel models—particularly in the shaping of the front and rear aprons and the side skirts.

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Visio.M partners present new lightweight EV; 13.5 kWh pack delivers ~100 mile range

October 20, 2014

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Visio.M EV. Click to enlarge.

The academic and industry partners in the Visio.M consortium (earlier post) are showcasing their new lightweight urban electric vehicle at eCarTec in Munich. The 2.5-year project was funded under the priority program “Key Technologies for Electric Mobility - STROM” of the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) with a total budget of €10.8 million (US$13.7 million).

The Visio.M has a range of around 160 kilometers (99 miles) and can accommodate two people with luggage. With only a 15 kW motor, the vehicle reaches a maximum speed of 120 km/h (75 mph). The electric motor in Visio.M draws its power from a lithium-ion battery pack behind the seats, which consists of consumer cells and provides a capacity of 13.5 kWh.

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California ARB mods to ZEV regulations for IVMs would result in ~1.9% drop in total ZEV/TZEV units 2018-2025; no impact on air quality requirements

Early in September, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) announced it would consider in a 23-24 October meeting amendments to the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) regulation that would modify the requirements for intermediate volume manufacturers (IVMs) selling into the state to allow them more time to come into the market. (Earlier post.)

Among the proposed changes were additional production lead time; a reduced compliance obligation (i.e., lower numbers of ZEVs); an opportunity to pool compliance obligations in ZEV states; and additional time to make up ZEV credit deficits. ARB staff estimated the proposed modifications could reduce total California deliveries of ZEVs (fuel cell and battery-electric vehicles) and TZEVs (Transition Zero Emission Vehicles, i.e., plug-in hybrids) by a total of about 26,000 units in the 2018 through 2025 timeframe out of the originally estimated 1,400,000 ZEVs and TZEVs for that period under the current regulation—i.e., by about 1.9%. (For MY 2026 and following, the reduced compliance obligation goes away.)

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Siemens integrates EV motor and inverter in single housing; common cooling and SKiN

October 17, 2014

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Siemens has developed a solution for integrating an electric car's motor and inverter in a single housing. Click to enlarge.

Siemens has developed a solution for integrating an electric car’s motor and inverter in a single housing. The motor and the inverter, part of the power electronics which converts the battery’s direct current into alternating current for the motor, have up to now been two separate components. The new integrated drive unit saves space, reduces weight, and cuts costs.

The solution’s key feature is the use of a common cooling system for both components. This ensures that the inverter’s power electronics don’t get too hot despite their proximity to the electric motor, and so prevents any reduction in output or service life.

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Nissan begins testing combination of LEAF EVs and “LEAF to Home” for grid demand response services

October 16, 2014

Nissan Motor Corporation has begun testing in Japan of a system to use electric vehicle technology to help power grids cope with peaks in demand.

Nissan is using Nissan LEAF EVs paired with the LEAF to Home power supply system (earlier post) for demand response testing at several of its sales outlets run by subsidiary Kanagawa Nissan Co., Ltd. to assess the effectiveness of EV batteries when used for energy management. The tests are being conducted by ENERES Co., Ltd.

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Visio.M researchers develop lightweight torque vectoring transmission for EVs; improved regen, better dynamics

October 15, 2014

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The lightweight torque vectoring transmission is applied in a Visio.M test vehicle. Click to enlarge.

As part of the Visio.M project in Germany, researchers at the Technische Universität München (TUM), along with their colleagues in the consortium, have developed a lightweight torque vectoring transmission with characteristics that are optimally adapted to electric vehicles. The engineers at the Gear Research Center (FZG) at TUM focused on recouping as much braking energy as possible with the goal of enhancing the range of the vehicle.

Whereas drive torque conventionally is distributed evenly to the wheels of the drive axle, a torque vectoring system allocates torque between the wheels as required, noted FZG engineer Philipp Gwinner. This provides particularly good drive dynamics. As an example, when a vehicle accelerates in a curve, greater torque is applied to the outside wheel. The car steers itself into the curve. The result: greater agility and, at the same time, safer road handling.

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EPRI and partners to stage public demo of Open Vehicle-Grid Integration (VGI) Platform software

October 14, 2014

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), along with several auto manufacturers, utilities, and regional transmission organizations, will demonstrate the Open Vehicle-Grid Integration (VGI) Platform software system, developed by EPRI and Sumitomo Electric Industries. The software is an advanced software platform for integrating plug-in electric vehicles (PEV) with smart grid technologies. (Earlier post.)

The live demonstration will showcase demand response and load curtailment capabilities through a single standards-based interface. The demonstration will involve 8 EV manufacturers, and attendees will include representatives from the state and federal public agencies involved with clean energy and transportation technologies, as well as the utility and automotive industries.

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IHS teardown of Tesla Model S finds more commonality with smartphones and tablets than autos in user-facing electronics

An initial report from IHS’ Teardown Analysis Service finds that, in terms of design, components and manufacturing, the Tesla Model S user-oriented subsystems—i.e., the infotainment and instrumentation system—have more in common with a tablet or smartphone than they do with a conventional automobile.

IHS is in the process of conducting a complete teardown of a 2013 Model S acquired at auction, dissecting and analyzing each subsystem, from the air-conditioning controls, to the safety systems, to the powertrain. The initial analysis focuses on the car’s two most electronics-intensive segments: the virtual instrument cluster and the premium media control unit—aka the head unit—which is the main center stack and touch-screen panel.

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New Flyer to start development of first 60' fuel cell hybrid bus in North America; introduces 40' battery-electric bus

New Flyer Industries Inc. is developing the first North American designed and built 60-foot battery-electric/fuel cell hybrid bus that will operate in daily service. CALSTART, which will administer the project for the FTA, received the green light from the FTA for work to proceed.

The electric propulsion system being integrated into New Flyer’s Buy America-compliant Xcelsior X60 heavy-duty transit bus platform includes a combination of batteries, a fuel cell, and hydrogen storage. The electric drive bus will allow the fuel cell to operate at a relative steady-state, while the batteries will be able to both capture breaking energy and provide power for acceleration.

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PEV potential pipeline: possible, promised or planned (13 October 2014 edition)

October 13, 2014

The last few weeks have seen a number of statements from executives at major automakers either pre-announcing, indicating possible development of or simply hinting at a number of new plug-in vehicle models coming over the next couple of years. That should be no surprise; the US-based Electric Drive Transportation Association notes that there are 20 plug-in and fuel cell vehicle models currently on the US market alone with 20 additional models expected here through 2016.

Given that sometimes there is not much more information available than one sentence uttered during an interview or a conference, it’s hard to pull together much that is substantive. However, we thought we’d try keeping a running tally of PEVs possible, promised or planned, with regular updates of the list; globally, to the best of our ability. Please add what we might have missed via the comments section; we’ll incorporate those into the next version of the PEV list. (Concept cars or officially announced models don’t count for this purpose.)

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EPA annual trends report finds new vehicle fuel economy at record 24.1 mpg; new powertrain technologies rapidly gaining share

October 10, 2014

EPA released the latest edition of its annual report on trends in CO2 emissions, fuel economy and powertrain technology for new personal vehicles in the US. Among the top-level findings was that Model year 2013 vehicles achieved an average of 24.1 mpg (9.76 l/100 km)—a 0.5 mpg increase over the previous year and an increase of nearly 5 mpg since 2004. Fuel economy has now increased in eight of the last nine years; average carbon dioxide emissions are also at a record low of 369 g/mile in model year 2013. The majority of the carbon and oil savings from current vehicles is due to new gasoline vehicle technologies, the report observed.

The report, “Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 Through 2014”, also found that the light truck market share increased slightly in MY 2013, after several years of volatility; that the vehicle weight trend is flat and vehicle power trend is increasing more slowly; that many new powertrain technologies are rapidly gaining market share; and that consumers have an increasing number of high fuel economy/low CO2 vehicle choices.

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Tesla adds 2-motor all-wheel drive and advanced driver assistance “Autopilot” to Model S

Tesla Motors is adding a two-motor all-wheel drive option for its electric Model S as well as a standard set of forward-looking camera, radar and 360˚ ultrasonic sensors that will, over time with software updates, provide increasing autonomous drive capabilities.

The two-motor all-wheel drive option—designated by the “D” teased by Elon Musk over which the Internet was all atwitter—is available on all three Model S variants (60, 85 and P85) at $4,000 for the 60D and 85D models and as a $14,600-option for the P85D. (The high performance P85D requires the Tech Package, Smart Air Suspension and 21" wheels as well.) D-model deliveries begin in February.

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USABC reopens 4 RFPIs for development of advanced high-performance batteries for start/stop, 48V HEV, PHEV and EVs

The United States Advanced Battery Consortium LLC (USABC), a collaborative organization operated by Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Company and General Motors, has reopened four requests for proposal information (RFPIs) for the development of advanced high-performance batteries for vehicle applications.

The RFPIs will remain active indefinitely to prompt more submissions from individual developers as well as collaborative R&D/supplier teams. Each requires a 50% minimum cost share. USABC seeks proposals the resulting technology from which will have the capability of meeting or approaching its technology targets for commercialization by 2020 for the following applications:

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New “2-in-1” EV unit integrates traction motor and A/C compressor for increased range in hot climates

October 01, 2014

Engineers from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) have designed a “2-in-1” electric motor unit which can increase the range of electric vehicles in hot climates. This innovative electric machine integrates the A/C compressor, the compressor drive motor and the traction motor into a single housing physically clutching with the compressor during braking events.

The approach unifies the EV traction and compressor drives into a single housing which drive together during braking events. Based on simulations and analysis, the team expects the system to reduce battery consumption by at least 3% compared to existing mechanisms while improving the regenerative energy capturing capacity of the system by 8%. Overall, the novel design could increase the range of electric vehicles by an additional 15 to 20% with other modifications, the researchers suggested.

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ORNL study finds best current use of natural gas for cars is efficient production of electricity for EVs

September 24, 2014

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Top: Components of well-to-wheels pathway. Middle: WTW efficiency for CNGVs. Bottom: WTW efficiency for EVs. Curran et al. Click to enlarge.

A well-to-wheels analysis of the use of natural gas for passenger vehicles by a team of researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has found that, with a high PTW (pump-to-wheels) efficiency and the potential for high electrical generation efficiency with NGCC (natural gas combined cycle) turbines, natural gas currently is best used in an efficient stationary power application for charging EVs.

However, they also noted, high PTW efficiencies and the moderate fuel economies of current compressed natural gas vehicles (CNGVs) make them a viable option as well. If CNG were to be eventually used in hybrids, the advantage of the electric generation/EV option shrinks. Their open access paper is published in the journal Energy.

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California governor signs 6 bills to advance state’s electric vehicle market; HOT and HOV benefits

September 22, 2014

Capping off National Drive Electric Week, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law half a dozen bills to strengthen California’s best-in-the-nation electric vehicle market, including free or reduced-rate access to new high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes, and more HOV stickers for plug-in hybrids.

The action builds on the state’s efforts to support the growth of the electric vehicle market, including legislation Governor Brown signed last year and the executive order he issued in 2012 to establish a target of 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road in California by 2025 and a number of other long-term goals. California accounts for 40% of US plug-in electric vehicle sales and earlier this month, surpassed 100,000 plug-in electric vehicles sold. (Earlier post.)

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Nissan extends trial of ultra-compact EV sharing service in Yokohama for one year; publishes top-level data

September 20, 2014

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd and the City of Yokohama will extend the one-year trial run of the first large-scale One-way Car Sharing Service in Japan, called “Choimobi Yokohama,” for another year. (Earlier post.)

The service, which kicked off on 11 October 2013, features Nissan’s ultra-compact New Mobility Concept electric vehicles. The program's main objectives are to encourage low-carbon emission transport options, improve the quality of transportation in the city, and promote tourism. Nissan provided some top-level user data from the first year to illustrate the effectiveness of the service.

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BMW using ams data acquisition IC for battery management system in i3

September 18, 2014

BMW is using the AS8510, an integrated automotive data acquisition front-end integrated circuit (IC) from ams AG, a leading provider of high performance analog ICs and sensors, to provide extremely accurate battery voltage and current measurements in its i3 electric vehicles (EVs).

The BMW i3 model in volume production today includes an AS8510 in the battery sensor. The battery management system (BMS) monitors battery voltage and battery current of the 400V li-ion battery powering the cars’ electric motors, and ensures the functional safety of the vehicle’s battery systems.

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Siemens equipping EV with new information and communications technology concept developed by RACE project

September 17, 2014

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Prof. Armin Schnettler from Siemens’ central research department and Prof. Achim Kampker, Managing Director of StreetScooter, agreed to equip a StreetScooter EV with an innovative electronic and software architecture by end of 2014. Click to enlarge.

Siemens will equipping an electric car with a completely redesigned information and communications technology (ICT). Basically, the idea is to control a variety of vehicle functions on a uniform, centralized computer platform instead of providing every system with its own hardware and software as today.

The new ICT concept was developed by Siemens’ global Corporate Technology (CT) department and its partners in the German government-funded RACE (Robust and Reliant Automotive Computing Environment for Future eCars) project. (Earlier post.)

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Audi Sport wins 1st FIA Formula E race in Beijing

September 14, 2014

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Lucas di Grassi, FIA Formula E Beijing (Audi Sport ABT Formula E Team). Click to enlarge.

Audi factory driver Lucas di Grassi and the Audi Sport ABT Formula E team won the inaugural event of the new all-electric FIA Formula E Championship in Beijing. (Next weekend, di Grassi will return to the cockpit of the Audi R18 e-tron quattro hybrid sports car in round four of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at Austin). The inaugural round of the 10-race season of the global electric race series was closely contested throughout. Winding round the Bird’s Nest stadium built to host the 2008 Olympic Games, the Beijing course supplied all usual ingredients of a city-center circuit, with a succession of straights, chicanes and 90° bends.

For this inaugural season, the entire field is competing in Spark-Renault STR01E single-seaters. (Earlier post.) Spark-Renault, together with a consortium of leading motorsport companies, produced 40 cars for the race, with each driver using two cars during the 1-hour event. Thirty-five of the 40 cars entered crossed the finishing line without incident.

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Toyota and partners launching Cité lib by Ha:mo EV car sharing in Grenoble; ultracompact EVs complementing public transport

September 13, 2014

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Toyota i-ROAD and COMS for use in "Cité lib by Ha:mo" EV sharing trial in Grenoble, France. Click to enlarge.

The City of Grenoble, France, its metropolitan area Grenoble-Alpes Metropole, EDF and its affiliate Sodetrel, Toyota Motor Corporation and Cité lib officially launched the new “Cité lib by Ha:mo” electric vehicle car-sharing service. (Earlier post.)

Offering a new type of mobility based on ultra-compact electric vehicles, the service aims to complement Grenoble’s public transport network with a solution for short-trips—including one-way trips—that can be planned as part of overall city journeys. The vehicles and the charging stations are seamlessly connected to the IT infrastructure of Grenoble’s transport network, offering both route planning and online/mobile app reservations.

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Facelifted Mercedes-Benz B-Class with diesel, gasoline, natural gas and electric drives debuting at Paris show

September 12, 2014

Mercedes-Benz has given its B-Class range—more than 350,000 of which have been sold worldwide since market launch in late 2011—a major facelift including exterior and interior enhancements along with redefined design and equipment lines. Sales of the new B-Class commenced on 12 September, with the world première taking place during the Paris Motor Show (4 to 19 October). The revamped models will be making their way to dealerships from 29 November 2014.

Buyers have a wide choice of powertrains: five diesel models with fuel ranging from 3.6 to 5.0 l/100 km (65.3 to 47 mpg US); four gasoline engines at between 5.4 and 6.6 l/100 km (43.6 and 35.6 mpg US); alternative drive systems (B 200 Natural Gas Drive and B-Class Electric Drive); as well as optional 4MATIC all-wheel drive. The sports tourer also features a Cd value of less than 0.25. Prices in Europe will start from €27,102.25 (around US$35,000) for the B 180.

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Proterra selects Toshiba SCiB cells for next-gen electric bus

September 10, 2014

Proterra Inc. has selected Toshiba as the battery supplier for its next-generation, all-electric bus from Proterra Inc. The new fleet will use Toshiba’s Rechargeable Batteries (SCiB), a safe rechargeable battery solution with high-rate performance and long-life capabilities that is used in a wide range of applications, from EVs to grid energy storage. (Earlier post.)

Featuring a Lithium Titanate Oxide (LTO), Toshiba’s SCiB batteries have excellent thermal performance, enabling their high-rate charging capability. The lithium-titanate chemistry contained in SCiB makes the batteries highly resistant to thermal runaway and lithium metal plating, providing exceptional battery safety characteristics.

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Opbrid Trůkbaar ultra-high-power automatic charging station for heavy-duty trucks debuts at IAA 2014

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The Opbrid Trůkbaar. Click to enlarge.

Spain-based Opbrid, the provider of the overhead pantograph-based ultra-fast charging Opbrid Bůsbaar V3 for buses (earlier post), is introducing the Opbrid Trůkbaar for trucks at IAA 2014. The system for the automatic fast charging of heavy-duty electric trucks is 100% compatible with the standards-based Bůsbaar.

The Opbrid Trůkbaar and Bůsbaar V3 are designed for ultra high power mode 4 DC charging, up to 650 kW. This amount of power transfer uses safe and reliable conductive technology transferred from the European electric rail industry by our partner Furrer+Frey, with more than 90 years of experience in high power transfer to locomotives.

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California Energy Commission to award $13M to further ZEVs and advanced vehicle technology manufacturing in the state

The California Energy Commission has issued two solicitations for a combined $13.3 million to further advanced ZEV and advanced vehicle technologies in the state. The first, Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Readiness (PON-14-603), will award about $3.3 million to support planning efforts for plug-in and fuel cell vehicles.

The second, Advanced Vehicle Technology Manufacturing (PON-14-604), will award about $10 million to support the development of either full advanced vehicles or advanced vehicle components in the state.

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Production of BYD-Daimler DENZA EV begins in China

September 09, 2014

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The DENZA EV is manufactured by a Sino-German joint venture of BYD and Daimler in Shenzhen. Click to enlarge.

DENZA, the “made in China, for China” electric vehicle from Daimler’s technology joint venture with its Chinese partner BYD (earlier post), has started rolling off production line at Shenzhen BYD Daimler New Technology Co., Ltd. (BDNT), in Shenzhen. The joint-venture company, established in 2010 by Daimler and BYD with a 600-million-yuan ($98 million) initial investment, is the first Sino-German joint venture dedicated to an all-electric vehicle in and for China.

DENZA is powered by an 86 kW (peak) / 69 kW (rated) motor that provides a maximum speed of up to 150 km/h (93 mph) and peak torque of 290 N·m (177 N·m rated torque). With a 47.5 kWh lithium iron phosphate battery pack, range is 253 km on the China cycle (157 miles). Energy consumption on the China cycle is 17.2 kWh/100 km (18.9 kWh/100 km with charging losses). Acceleration from 0 – 50 km/h (31 mph) takes 4.5s; acceleration from 50 – 80 km/h (50 mph) takes 5s; and acceleration from 0 – 100 km/h takes 14s.

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Renault and Bolloré form a partnership in electric vehicles; assembly, car-sharing and 3-seat Bluecar

Following the letter of intent signed in September 2013 (earlier post), French groups Renault and Bolloré are joining forces to promote electric vehicles through a set of three agreements involving assembly, a car-sharing JV, and new vehicle development. In order to reduce significantly the environmental impact of cars, the partners noted, the development of electric vehicles and car-sharing is not an option—it is a necessary transformation.

The overall environmental impact of an electric vehicle is virtually half that of an equivalent internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle, Renault noted, citing its comparative study of Fluence ICE and electric vehicles. (Earlier post.) The three agreements include:

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UC Riverside team shows new eco-routing navigation tool can cut EV energy use up to 51%

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering have shown that a vehicle navigation tool they created can cut electric vehicle energy use up to 51%. The researchers outlined their findings in a report to the California Energy Commission, which paid for the study with a $95,000 grant. (Earlier post.)

The researchers tested the “eco-routing” navigation system—which takes into account real-time traffic information, road type and road grade—on three routes around Riverside. Using road testing and computer simulations, they studied three types of navigation systems: shortest distance; least time; and least energy. They found energy savings between 25% and 51% when they took the route that the navigation system said would take the least amount of time. The tradeoff is that the travel distance increased between 3% and 19%.

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Team led by Local Motors 3D-printing a car during 6-day IMTS

September 08, 2014

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The Strati is being 3D-printed at IMTS. Click to enlarge.

A team led by Local Motors is 3D-printing a full vehicle body over 44 hours during the International Manufacturing Technology Show 2014 and will follow it up with a first drive set to take place the morning of Saturday, 13 September. Local Motors collaborated with Cincinnati Incorporated, a large-scale manufacturing system builder; Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), a pioneer in advanced materials research; and SABIC to develop and validate the technology and materials needed to deliver the large-format 3D-printing technology. (Earlier post.)

Called the Strati, the electric vehicle will be 3D-printed in one piece using direct digital manufacturing (DDM)—the first time this method has been used to make a car. The car will be printed using SABIC’s LNP STAT-KON AE003, a compound strong enough for automotive applications. Mechanical components—i.e., battery, motor, wiring, and suspension—are sourced from a variety of suppliers, including Renault’s Twizy, a line of electric-powered city cars.

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Lux: Tesla likely to miss 2020 vehicle target by >50%; Gigafactory to bring only modest reduction in costs, >50% overcapacity

September 03, 2014

Lux Research forecasts that Tesla Motors’ Gigafactory—the announced new 35 GWh lithium-ion cell production facility that is the target of hot competition between five states (earlier post)—will bring about only a modest reduction in Li-ion battery costs and create significant overcapacity, given likely Tesla EV sales in 2020 of less than half of the company’s targeted 500,000.

Tesla and its partner, Panasonic, will contribute about 45% and 35%, respectively, of the initial $4 billion required to build the Gigafactory, proposed to go on-stream in 2017. Lux Research’s new report—“The Tesla-Panasonic Battery Gigafactory: Analysis of Li-ion Cost Trends, EV Price Reduction, and Capacity Utilization”—projects sales of some 240,000 Tesla cars in 2020, leading to razor-thin margins to Panasonic and 57% overcapacity.

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California ARB considering modifications to ZEV regs to provide more flexibility for intermediate volume manufacturers

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) will conduct a public hearing on 23 October to consider amendments to the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) regulation that would modify the requirements for intermediate volume manufacturers (IVMs) selling into the state to allow them more time to come into the advanced technology vehicle market.

The modifications to the ZEV rule, developed by the ARB staff to be presented to the Board at the meeting, provide additional compliance flexibility to the IVMs by providing additional production lead time; a reduced compliance obligation; an opportunity to pool compliance obligations in ZEV states; and additional time to make up ZEV credit deficits.

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Wireless charging company WiTricity scaling up EV charging capability as well as itself

September 02, 2014

WiTricity, the MIT spin-off commercializing strongly coupled magnetic resonance wireless charging technology for EVs as well as consumer devices, industrial, medical and military applications (earlier post), has work underway to deliver wireless charging systems capable of delivering 10s of kilowatts for plug-ins, compared to the current 3.3 or 6.6 kW, says CEO Alex Gruzen.

In addition to its ongoing work on the technology, WiTricity has been steadily tuning its executive suite over the past few months, starting with the naming of Gruzen as CEO in April. Gruzen succeeded Eric Giler who, in his five-plus year term as CEO, successfully established WiTricity’s business foundation and commercial capabilities. Giler remains a member of the WiTricity Board of Directors. Gruzen earlier served in senior management roles at Dell, HP, Compaq and Sony.

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Kia selects Greenlots to provide fast chargers and open standards networking for 2015 Soul EV rollout in US

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Kia is partnering with Greenlots for charging of the Kia Soul EV. Click to enlarge.

Greenlots, a global provider of open standards-based technology solutions for electric vehicle (EV) networks, is partnering with Kia Motors America (KMA) and ABB, a global leader in power and automation technologies, to offer DC fast-chargers (DCFCs) at select Kia dealerships on the West Coast for the soon-to-launch 2015 Kia Soul EV. (Earlier post.)

Unveiled in February 2014 at the Chicago Auto Show and rolling out in the third quarter of 2014, the Kia Soul EV is Kia’s first zero-tailpipe-emissions car to be sold in the US. Also beginning in the third quarter, Kia will roll out Greenlots’ SKY Smart Charging platform to 17 dealerships in California. The new DCFC stations will allow Kia Soul EV owners to charge their vehicles from empty to 80% in approximately 30 minutes. Soul EV owners can find EZCharge locations via Kia’s UVO EVServices app or the 8-inch touch screen inside the vehicle, and pay for charging with their Kia ChargeUp card.

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Rental company eHi Car Services enters into strategic partnership with SAIC Motor; more electric-drive vehicles

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The recently introduced Roewe 550 plug-in is part of the eHi acquisition deal. Click to enlarge.

eHi Car Services has entered into a strategic partnership with SAIC Motor, the largest automotive manufacturer in China and a Global Fortune 500 company. This relationship starts with a first order of thousands of vehicles including Roewe E50 electric vehicles and Roewe 550 plug-in electric hybrid vehicles.

eHi already offers the Roewe E50 EV for rental; this new round of EV acquisition is based on eHi’s more than a year of operating experience, data analysis and market experiments.

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Study suggests OEMs should use a modular design for PHEV and EREV vehicle battery packs to offer capacity choices to customers

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TCO in € cents/km of EREV as a function of battery size for users with different annual mileages. Redelbach et al. Click to enlarge.

Car manufacturers should develop a modular design for plug-in hybrid and extended range electric vehicles (PHEVs and EREVs), allowing them to offer a choice of storage capacity to meet individual customer requirements rather than forcing a “one size fits all” approach, according to the results of a German-market-specific TCO study by a team from the Institute of Vehicle Concepts, German Aerospace Center (DLR).

The authors of the study, published in the journal Energy Policy, stress that they are not suggesting OEMs offer each customer an individual battery size, but rather than they offer, as an example, three different battery sizes dedicated to drivers with low, average and high mileage. The development of a modular design for battery packs could help OEMs to change the size with less effort and few implications on the rest of the vehicle, they suggested. (This is analogous to the approach taken by Tesla Motors with its two—originally three—pack capacity sizes offered in the Model S.)

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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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