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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.]

ARB posts discussion draft of new proposed mobile-source emissions reduction strategy through 2030; Advanced Clean Cars 2 regulation

October 02, 2015

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) staff has published a discussion draft of a proposed strategy for further regulation and reduction of mobile source—cars, trucks, and off-road equipment—emissions. The approach described is designed to meet simultaneously federal air quality standards; achieve greenhouse gas emission reduction targets; reduce petroleum consumption; and decrease health risk from transportation sources through 2030.

ARB staff developed this strategy using a multi-pollutant scenario planning tool (Vision 2.0) that quantifies changes in ozone and PM2.5 precursor emissions; GHG emissions; petroleum usage; and diesel toxics emissions as various technologies become widespread in vehicle and equipment fleets.

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California ARB announces $24M grant solicitation for zero-emission truck and bus pilot commercial deployment projects

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) announced a grant solicitation for Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Pilot Commercial Deployment Projects. Up to $23,658,000 is available for this project from FY 2014-15 funds. Up to an additional $60,000,000 may be available for projects under this solicitation from future funds appropriated by the California legislature on or before 30 June 2016.

This project complements the Zero-Emission Drayage Truck and Multi-Source Facility Demonstration Projects solicitations released in June of this year as part of a $50-million allocation for advanced technology freight demonstrations.

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INL analysis of 5 large-scale PEV and charging projects finds public charging infrastructure not needed everywhere to enable PEV adoption

October 01, 2015

Idaho National Laboratory has released the voluminous findings from its analysis of five large-scale PEV and charging infrastructure projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Collectively, these projects represent the largest-ever deployment, data collection and analysis, and reporting of PEV and charging infrastructure petroleum reduction benefits. The results will be used to support and refine activities of the US Department of Energy’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge.

The key finding of INL’s assessment of the results was that public charging infrastructure is not needed everywhere to enable PEV adoption. Instead, the results suggest that charging infrastructure should be focused at homes, workplaces and public “hot spots” that serve multiple venues.

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Tesla CEO Musk launches Model X electric SUV: “safest SUV ever”

September 30, 2015

Tesla launched the delayed battery-electric Model X SUV at an event at its Fremont factory Tuesday night (the launch event itself running behind schedule as well) with an emphasis first on the safety of the vehicle; second on the innovative falcon wing lifting rear doors and second row seating; and third on performance. The base all-wheel drive Model X 90D has a range of some 257 miles (414 km), with a 0-60 time of 4.8 seconds; a “Ludicrous” P90 version of the SUV (earlier post) takes 3.2 seconds, said CEO Elon Musk.

Musk said that Tesla expects the Model X to receive 5 star safety rating from NHTSA in every area—the first SUV to do so. Indeed, Musk said, were there such a rating, the Model X should receive a 6-star rating based on the low probability of overall injury.

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International Alliance on ZEVs seeks to accelerate ZEV adoption; 11 founding government members from N America and Europe

September 29, 2015

Eleven European and North American governments are the founding partners of the International ZEV Alliance, which has the mission of accelerating global adoption of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont in the United States; Québec in Canada; and The Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom in Europe are the founding members.

The members will cooperate to set targets to drive ZEV deployment, share data and best practice policies, and encourage other governments to join them. (The 11 members account for 7% of global car sales, but represent 38% of the global market for electric vehicles.) A new report released by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) outlines an agenda for expanding collaboration. The ICCT serves as Secretariat to the International ZEV Alliance.

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Lux: VW “actually in a strong position to innovate their way out of this mess”

September 28, 2015

Reflecting on the implications of the still evolving Volkswagen emissions testing scandal (“a vehicle emissions scandal of unprecedented proportions”), analysts at Lux Research suggest that one outcome of the crisis could be an aggressive push by Volkswagen to accelerate the push towards plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.

VW was slowly moving beyond conventional gasoline and diesel engines anyway, Lux noted, with plans of putting out 20 more plug-in vehicles by 2020 (earlier post)—such as the production version of the Audi e-tron quattro. (Earlier post.) Volkswagen has also invested in next-generation batteries, including lithium-sulfur and solid-state. (Earlier post.)

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DOT announces $22.5M in latest round of low or no emissions bus deployment (LoNo) funding

September 26, 2015

The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced the availability of $22.5 million (FTA-2015-006-TRI) through the latest round of the Low or No Emission Vehicle Deployment Program (LoNo).

The LoNo Program is a capital program focused on deploying new low- or no-emission production buses that are market-ready or near market-ready; i.e., it is not a program for designing and developing prototypes. The program gives priority consideration to the deployment of buses with the lowest energy consumption and least harmful emissions. The previous round of LoNo funding, announced in February 2015, awarded $55 million in grants to ten organizations nationwide. (Earlier post.)

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AKASOL battery pack powering ZF’s electric Advanced Urban Vehicle concept

September 25, 2015

An 8-module Li-ion traction battery from AKASOL GmbH powers the ZF electric Advanced Urban Vehicle concept presented at the IAA in Frankfurt. AKASOL is a supplier of Li-ion batteries for high-performance applications. (Earlier post.)

The 8 modules of the AKASYSTEM battery are configured 2/3/3 in 3 system units and can thus be placed in the free spaces at the front and rear axle for efficient packaging. The 16.3 kWh battery pack features a charging power of 49 kW.

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Audi’s e-tron quattro EV: evolutionary powertrain with a dash of revolution for production in 2018; MLB evo

September 24, 2015

Audi’s e-tron quattro battery-electric SUV concept, which made its formal debut at IAA in Frankfurt (earlier post), is a strong indicator of Audi’s series-production electric SUV due in 2018—especially in terms of the powertrain.

The e-tron quattro is based on Audi’s MLB evo—the second-generation of the modular longitudinal matrix toolkit (MLB, earlier post), and is, at the same time, potentially contributing to the development of the elements of that toolkit, especially with respect to a modular electric drive component. This could eventually have a role comparable to that of the Volkswagen Group’s modular diesel and modular gasoline engine kits (MDB and MOB). (“Baukasten” = German for construction kit)

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EPRI-NRDC report finds widespread vehicle electrification and a cleaner grid could lead to substantial cuts in GHG by 2050

September 21, 2015

Widespread adoption of electric transportation, including electrification in the off-road sector, could lead to substantial reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and could modestly improve air quality, according to a new analysis released by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

The report, “Environmental Assessment of a Full Electric Transportation Portfolio”, is based on a projection that by 2050 electricity replaces traditional fuels for approximately half of light- and medium-duty transportation and a significant portion of non-road equipment. This study builds on the 2007 Environmental Assessment of Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles by EPRI and NRDC (earlier post), which showed that plug-in hybrid electric vehicles could contribute to reductions in national greenhouse gas emissions, while also leading to improved air quality. As with the earlier assessment, this study consists of two separate, but related, analyses: greenhouse gas emissions from 2015-2050, and air quality impacts in 2030.

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DOE awards nearly $55M to advance fuel efficient vehicle technologies in support of EV Everywhere and SuperTruck

September 18, 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is awarding nearly $55 million for 24 projects to develop and deploy advanced vehicle technologies, supporting the Energy Department’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge to make plug-in electric vehicles as affordable to own and operate as today’s gasoline-powered vehicles by 2022.

Through the Advanced Vehicle Power Technology Alliance with the Energy Department, the Department of the Army is contributing an additional $2.26 million in co-funding to support projects focused on battery modeling technologies and computational fluid dynamics.

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Volkswagen Group brings new Audi and Porsche EV concepts, Volkswagen PHEV concept to Frankfurt; 20 more plug-ins by 2020

September 14, 2015

At Volkswagen AG’s Group Night preview Monday of what will come on Tuesday at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Audi unveiled its MLB evo (second-generation MLB)-based e-tron quattro battery-electric vehicle (earlier post); Porsche rolled out the Mission E, its first battery-electric four-seat sports car which offers a 500 km (311 mile) range (and an 800V system); and Volkswagen introduced the new production MQB-based Tiguan, including a Tiguan GTE plug-in hybrid electric model concept.

During his concluding remarks at the Group Night event, Volkswagen Group Chairman Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn said that “The Porsche Mission E and the Audi e-tron quattro concept are nothing less than a quantum leap for our industry”—both vehicles have an all-electric range of 500 kilometers (311 miles). He went on to say that the new Volkswagen Tiguan GTE embodies “our determination to systematically take the plug-in hybrid to further classes and segments.

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Q3 Roland Berger E-Mobility Index finds stagnant sales, lack of concepts to persuade customers to go electric

The latest E-Mobility Index from Roland Berger and Forschungsgesellschaft Kraftfahrwesen mbH Aachen (fka) for the third quarter of 2015 finds that the market share of electric vehicles in the seven leading automotive nations—Germany, France, Italy, the USA, Japan, China and South Korea—remains stubbornly low. “The major growth impetus that would anchor e-mobility in the seven leading automotive nations long term is still nowhere to be seen,” the report states.

While insufficient battery range is a part of the reason, more importantly there is a lack of specific concepts that can persuade customers to buy an electric car, the report finds. The index regularly compares the relative competitive standings of the top seven automotive nations in the electromobility segment based on three indicators: technology, industry and market. Key takeaways from this latest analysis include:

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Los Angeles to lease 160 BEVs, 128 PHEVs as part of commitment to 50% EV purchases by 2017

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Friday announced a commitment to lease 160 pure battery EV vehicles, a move that will give Los Angeles the largest city-owned pure EV fleet in the US. The program commits city departments to the leasing of pure battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) to replace aging city vehicles, including those with conventional internal combustion engines. The announcement came on the eve of the US-China Climate Leaders Summit to be hosted in L.A. this week.

The Los Angeles Police, Fire, General Services, and Water and Power departments will together lease the 160 BEVS. In addition, LADWP and the General Services Department will lease an additional 128 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

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BAIC BJEV opens Silicon Valley EV research center, planning another for Europe

China-based automaker BAIC has opened its first overseas research and development center, the BAIC EV R&D Center in Silicon Valley, California. Beijing Electric Vehicle Co., Ltd. (BAIC BJEV), a subsidiary of BAIC, is a developer of new energy vehicles in China.

This new center, established in affiliation with the Beijing New Engineering Research Institute, has more than twenty employees in its current launch phase, and will be dedicated to the research and development of four to six models per year. BAIC said that the Silicon Valley R&D center will also become an important part of BJEV’s eventual globalization plans.

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Williams: Formula E battery power to increase to 170 kW for season two; 70 kWh pack for Evoque-E

September 11, 2015

Williams Advanced Engineering, the sole supplier of the battery packs for the FIA Formula E Championship, confirmed that the maximum power output of the batteries for the racers will increase to 170kW during each race in season two of the Championship.

The 28 kWh (maximum usable) battery packs, which use cells from XALT Energy (earlier post), were initially designed to meet season one technical specifications from the FIA and operated during a race at a maximum power of 133 kW. Following successful pre-season testing this was increased to 150kW for the start of season one to increase the performance of the cars.

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New 2016 Nissan LEAF with available 30 kWh pack for 107-mile range

September 10, 2015

Nissan introduced the 2016 all-electric LEAF with an available 30 kWh battery that provides an EPA-estimated range of 107 miles (172 km)—a 27% increase over the previous 24 kWH battery. All LEAF models feature an 80kW AC synchronous motor that generates 80 kW (107 hp) and 254 N·m (187 lb-ft) of torque, which drives the front wheels through a single-speed reducer.

The new battery (with 25% more capacity than the 24 kWh pack) is standard for LEAF SV and LEAF SL models. LEAF S models continue to be equipped with a 24 kWh battery with an EPA-estimated range of 84 miles.The 2016 model also offers an enhanced IT system that is more user-friendly and gives drivers greater vehicle connectivity.

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DOE to award up to $11M for medium- and heavy-duty vehicle powertrain electrification and dual fuel fleet demonstration

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0001349 ) announcement for up to $11 million to support projects covering two areas of technical interest. The first is medium- and heavy-duty powertrain electrification; the second is a dual fuel fleet demonstration. DOE anticipates making approximately 2 to 4 awards under this FOA, with the majority of funding going to electrification projects.

Area of Interest (AOI) 1: Medium and Heavy Duty Vehicle Powertrain Electrification. The objective of this area of interest is to research, develop, and demonstrate electric-drive powertrain technologies for medium- and heavy-duty Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) and Electric Vehicles (EV) that reduce fuel consumption by at least 50% when compared to an equivalent vehicle with a conventional internal combustion engine powertrain driven on a comparable duty cycle.

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Jaguar Land Rover showcases MHEV, PHEV and BEV Concept_e demonstrators; electric Drive Module

September 09, 2015

At the CENEX Low Carbon Vehicle event in the UK, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is showcasing three Concept_e research demonstrators—a mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery-electric vehicle—including a new novel high performance, modular electric drive module (eDM) developed in-house by Jaguar Land Rover.

These are capable of producing twice the power and torque of any electric motor-generator currently in production, JLR said, and can be inserted between any engine and transmission to create MHEV or PHEV, or used alone for a BEV.

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GKN Driveline develops two new eAxles for Concept_e BEV

GKN Driveline has developed new electric drive technologies as part of its role in the Concept_e project, a £16-million (US$25-million) UK Government-backed initiative to develop advanced hybrid and electric powertrain systems.

The two-year collaborative research and development project has designed and developed three research technology demonstrators to showcase next-generation technology for a mild hybrid electric vehicle (MHEV); a plug-in hybrid (PHEV); and a full battery electric vehicle (BEV). The technologies were unveiled by Jaguar Land Rover and the project partners at the LCV2015 low carbon vehicle show on Wednesday.

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Bosch presenting new heat pump EV thermal management system at IAA; up to 25% increase in effective range

September 08, 2015

At IAA next week, automotive supplier Bosch is presenting a new heat-pump-based thermal management system for EVs that it says can enable an increase in effective range of up to 25% without modifications to the battery.

In battery-driven powertrains, heating and cooling can play a significantly greater role than in gasoline or diesel engines, since without a combustion engine, the vehicle does not have a generous supply of heat. If the passenger compartment is heated using a purely electrical system drawing its power from the battery, range can be significantly reduced. As a result, there has been interest in the industry about the use of heat pumps as a lower energy-intensity solution.

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Peugeot FRACTAL electric concept adds acoustic spatialization to i-Cockpit; 3D printing

At the IAA in Frankfurt next week, Peugeot will introduce FRACTAL, a prospective electric urban coupé design that incorporates the company’s i-Cockpit (first unveiled in 2010) augmented with an acoustic system that features tactile bass systems built into the back of each seat to make driving all the more instinctive, enriching information through the use of acoustics. This additional i-Cockpit feature is characterized by the spatialization and dynamization of sound.

FRACTAL is an ideas incubator that also explores new design and manufacturing processes. 3D-printed parts represent more than 80% of the interior trim surface. The anechoic materials were made through generative design—an incremental, stochastic process used to achieve the perfect component.

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Fraunhofer researchers develop carbon nanotube thin film heater for EVs

September 02, 2015

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA in Stuttgart have developed a film-based panel heater for electric vehicles. The panel is—particularly on short journeys—more effective than conventional electric heaters. (Electric cars generate little heat as opposed to conventional passenger vehicles, which produce more than enough engine heat to heat the interior. An additional electric heater is required. This is supplied with power by the same battery that provides the engine with energy; prolonged use of the heater can significantly deplete range.)

The heating concept is based on a film that is coated with a very thin layer of conductive carbon nanotubes (CNTs). The film is glued to the inner door trim and generates a comfortable warmth there in the area of the armrest within a very short time, according to Serhat Sahakalkan, project manager at the Fraunhofer IPA.

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60% of $18B in US clean energy tax credits 2006-2012 went to top 20% by income; 90% in the plug-in program

August 30, 2015

A working paper by a team at the Energy Institute at Haas, University of California, Berkeley, has found that 60% of the $18 billion in US federal income clean energy tax credits issued between 2006 and 2012—e.g., for weatherizing homes, installing solar panels, and buying hybrid and electric vehicles—went to the top income quintile in the US (above $200,000 per year). The bottom three quintiles (up to $75,000 per year) received about 10%.

The most extreme case, Severin Borenstein and Lucas Davis found through their examination of tax return data from the IRS, is the program aimed at electric vehicles—the top income quintile received about 90% of all these credits. As a result of the work, Borenstein and Davis conclude that tax credits are likely to be much less attractive on distributional grounds than market mechanisms to reduce GHGs.

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CMU analysis finds BEVs powered with natural gas-based electricity have about 40% of the lifecycle GHGs of a conventional gasoline vehicle

August 21, 2015

According to a new lifecycle analysis by a team at Carnegie Mellon University, a battery electric vehicle (BEV) powered with natural gas-based electricity achieves around an average 40% lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction when compared to a conventional gasoline vehicle. Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), either with a 30- or 60-km range, when powered by natural gas electricity, have the second lowest average emissions. Both BEVs and PHEVs provide large (more than 20%) emissions reductions compared to conventional gasoline, but none of them is a dominant strategy when compared to gasoline hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), the team found.

Gaseous hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles have comparable life cycle emissions with conventional gasoline, offering limited reductions with 100-year global warming potential (GWP) yet leading to increases with 20-year GWP. Other liquid fuel pathways using natural gas—methanol, ethanol, and Fischer–Tropsch liquids—have larger GHG emissions than conventional gasoline even when carbon capture and storage technologies are available. The study is published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.

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Evolute Drives test results show 18% reduction in energy consumption with 3-speed MSYS EV transmission compared to single speed

August 20, 2015

Evolute Drives, incorporated as a separate entity by its sister company Drive System Design (DSD) (earlier post), will present practical test results for its high efficiency 3-speed MSYS electric vehicle transmission (earlier post) at the upcoming CTI Symposium in Shanghai (16-18 Sept).

In independent tests, a B-class demonstrator vehicle fitted with the transmission achieved a reduction in energy consumption of up to 18% over the NEDC test cycle, compared to the single-speed base vehicle.

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2015 Harris Poll finds 48% of US car owners would consider hybrid for new car, same as in 2013; plug-in consideration up 2 points

A new Harris Poll of 2,225 US adults (aged 18 and older) has found that 48% of American car owners (or anticipated owners) say they’d consider a traditional hybrid the next time they’re in the market for a new vehicle—a result identical to 2013 findings. Harris recorded lower consideration levels for plug-in vehicles, whether they be plug-in hybrids (29%, up 2 percentage points) or pure electrics (21%, also up 2 points).

An additional two in ten would consider a diesel (19%, up 3 points), while 35% would consider a smaller or gas powered vehicle to save on operating costs (down 3 points).

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EU launches $7.6M ALISE to develop Li-sulfur batteries for plug-ins; targeting stable 500 Wh/kg cell by 2019

August 19, 2015

Under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, the EU has launched ALISE (Advanced Lithium Sulfur battery for xEV), a pan-European collaboration focused on the development and commercial scale-up of new materials and on the understanding of the electrochemical processes involved in lithium-sulfur technology. The €6,899,233 (US$7.6 million) project is focused on achieving a stable 500 Wh/kg Li-S cell by 2019.

ALISE includes the development of the key components of the cell—anode, cathode and electrolyte—and will culminate in an ultra-lightweight 17 kWh battery for a SEAT (a member of the Volkswagen Group) vehicle for testing on-track and public roads. LEITAT is the lead organization involved and will co-ordinate and manage the entire project, which also incorporates dedicated durability, testing and lifecycle analysis (LCA) activities to deliver safety, adequate cyclability and competitive cost.

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Audi releases exterior sketch of 311-mile e-tron quattro concept for Frankfurt; 3-motor powertrain

Audi has released an exterior sketch of the 311-mile-range (500 km) Audi e-tron quattro concept it will unveil at the International Motor Show (IAA) 2015 in Frankfurt next month. (Earlier post.) The sporty SUV study is based on the second-generation modular longitudinal platform (MLB), which provides considerable scope for the drive system and package. The concept provides an outlook on the brand’s first large-series electric car.

Audi is leveraging its experience with the electrically driven Audi R8 e-tron sports car (earlier post) for the drive system. Three electric motors—one on the front axle and two on the rear axle—drive the Audi e-tron quattro concept.

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Lux suggests how LG Chem might overtake EV battery leader Panasonic

August 18, 2015

Panasonic is currently the runaway leader in the nascent battery market for electric vehicles, but LG Chem has the potential to overtake it in what will be a $30 billion market in 2020, according to a new report—“Watch the Throne: How LG Chem and Others Can Take Panasonic’s EV Battery Crown by 2020”—by Lux Research.

Panasonic’s 39% share of the battery market for plug-in vehicles makes it the leading supplier, but its reliance on a single deal with EV leader Tesla leaves it vulnerable, according to the consultancy. Panasonic lead rival LG Chem has already signed up large automakers including General Motors, Volkswagen, Daimler, and Ford. In the event of a surge in sales of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) by the German manufacturers, LG Chem would only need to win over Japan’s Nissan to topple Panasonic.

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National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB (NEVS) and Dongfeng Motor Corporation enter strategic cooperation, focused on new energy vehicles

August 17, 2015

National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB (NEVS)—the rebirthed Saab—and Dongfeng Motor Corporation (Dongfeng) have signed a strategic cooperation agreement to achieve global industrial synergies.

According to the agreement, Dongfeng will support NEVS on the construction of new energy vehicles production and R&D in Tianjin and the formation of NEVS’ sales and service with support from Dongfeng’s dealer network. Dongfeng will also support NEVS to achieve the new energy vehicle mass production.

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Audi: upcoming battery-electric SUV to use LG Chem and Samsung SDI cell modules; 311-mile range

August 13, 2015

Audi announced that it will develop the battery for a purely electrically powered sport utility vehicle on the basis of battery cell modules from the South Korean suppliers LG Chem and Samsung SDI. The two Audi partners plan to invest in the cell technology in Europe and will supply the Ingolstadt-based car producer from their European plants.

The new technology will give drivers of the Audi sport utility vehicle a range of more than 500 kilometers (311 miles). At Audi’s Annual General Meeting in May, the company announced it was developing a sporty SUV with electric drive, which is to be launched in 2018. (Earlier post.)

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Tesla posts record deliveries in Q2; hedges a bit on full year outloook

August 06, 2015

Tesla Motors delivered 11,532 vehicles in the second quarter of 2015, and produced a record 12,807 vehicles, exceeding plan (12,500 units) while improving efficiency, according to the company’s quarterly letter to shareholders. This represents a 15% sequential increase in production and a 46% increase from a year ago. Total GAAP revenue was $955 million (+24% year-on-year) for the quarter, while non-GAAP revenue was $1.20 billion (+40%). Net GAAP loss was $184 million (almost triple the $62-million loss in Q2 2014); non-GAAP net loss was $60.2 million (an almost 4x increase). Total Q2 gross margin was 22.3% on a GAAP basis and 23.4% on a non-GAAP basis.

Globally, Model S orders increased following the launch of 85D (earlier post) and 70D (earlier post). In the US, Q2 Model S orders grew almost 30% year-over-year. In Europe, Q2 Model S orders grew more than 50% year-over-year, despite two price increases in the past six months. In Asia, Q2 Model S orders nearly doubled from last quarter, helped by the initial success of a revised China strategy. Encouraged by this improvement, Tesla is increasing its investments in China by planning to grow this year from one to five retail stores located in high foot traffic areas.

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2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron PHEV starting at $37,900 in US

August 05, 2015

US prices for the 2016 A3 Sportback e-tron plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (earlier post)—the first of many Audi e-tron models destined to come to the US—will begin at $37,900. Purchasing customers may qualify for applicable state and federal incentives and tax credits. The first electrified Audi sold in the US, the A3 Sportback e-tron will launch at dealerships nationwide in October. EPA figures will be announced in the near future once they are available from US regulators.

The Audi PHEV will come in 3 packages: Premium for $37,900; Premium Plus for $42,000; and Prestige for $46,800. Audi expects the PHEV to qualify for a federal tax credit of $4,168. Buyers in some states may qualify for additional incentives. Tax credits and incentives are subject to availability, and customers should consult their tax professionals and for more information about tax credits and incentives.

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BMW launches BMW i ChargeForward pilot in SF Bay Area

August 04, 2015

The BMW Group Technology Office, together with Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), have launched an 18-month pilot of the BMW i ChargeForward Program in the San Francisco Bay Area. The program is now issuing calls to participating BMW i3 drivers in the Bay Area to request the interruption of the charging of their EVs for one hour.

Working with a group of nearly 100 BMW i3 drivers, selected from approximately 400 applicants, BMW i ChargeForward will demonstrate how intelligent management of electric vehicle charging can contribute to optimizing electric power grid efficiency while reducing total cost of electric vehicle ownership. The study has two parts: (1) a managed charge pilot program involving BMW i3 owners; and (2) a battery second-life energy storage system.

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Total alternative fuel vehicle reg in Europe up 17.4% in Q2 2015, EVs up 53%; EVs up 78.4% for H1

August 03, 2015

In the second quarter of 2015, total alternative fuel vehicle registrations in the EU increased (+17.4%), totalling 143,595, according to figures from the ACEA. Of these, electric vehicle (EV) registrations—Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) + Plug‐in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) + Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs)—significantly grew (+53.0%), rising from 18,024 units in Q2 2014 to 27,575 units in Q2 2015.

Demand for new hybrid vehicles (HEV) also increased (+22.6%), totalling 53,443 units. 62,577 new passenger cars in the second quarter (+3.0%) were powered by propane and natural gas.

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Daimler wraps up eMERGE EV 2-year fleet trial, launches larger eMERGE2 with EVs and PHEVs

July 31, 2015

Daimler reports that the two-year eMERGE real-world trial of 146 smart fortwo electric drive vehicles has been completed. Those taking part in the project were private and business customers in Berlin, Potsdam and North Rhine-Westphalia. The lowest average energy consumption per vehicle over one year was 10.4 kWh/100 km, while the longest single-charge range was 161 kilometers (100 miles). The smart fortwo electric drive is certified with a consumption of 16.3 kWh/100 km and a range of 145 kilometers (90 miles).

eMERGE is being followed directly by eMERGE2, which will see up to 200 cars being used in the model regions of Berlin/Potsdam, Stuttgart, Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main. The vehicle fleet will include the battery electric B 250 e and plug-in hybrids from Mercedes-Benz. The different technology and vehicle segments suggest different use cases than the smart fortwo electric drive.

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ICCT study assesses EV promotion and uptake in top 25 metropolitan areas in US

July 30, 2015

A new study by a team at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) has found that the top metropolitan markets in the US for electric vehicles tend to be characterized by a combination of relatively progressive promotional activities; more extensive charging infrastructure per capita; greater consumer incentives; and a broader range of available models.

The newly published white paper—Assessment of Leading Electric Vehicle Promotion Activities in United States Cities, surveys actions being taken by state and local governments and public utilities to facilitate electric vehicle deployment in the 25 most populous US metropolitan areas, which together represent more than 42% of the population; 46% of auto sales; 67% of new electric vehicle registrations; and 53% of the public electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the US as of 2014.

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Qualcomm and BRUSA sign commercial wireless electric vehicle charging license agreement

July 29, 2015

BRUSA Elektronik AG, an automotive Tier 1 power electronics supplier, has licensed Qualcomm Incorporated’s Halo (earlier post) patented inventions to commercialize Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging (WEVC) systems for Plug-In Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (EVs). Under the terms of the agreement, Qualcomm granted to BRUSA a royalty-bearing patent license to develop, make and supply WEVC systems for certain automobile manufacturers.

BRUSA, which has been working on its own Inductive Charging System (ICS) for wireless power transfer (WPT), developed its own coil geometry: FRAME technology. The coil is rectangular and enables inductive charging of electric vehicles with the integration of power electronics both in the vehicle and in the base plate, enabling a one-box system.

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BMW i novel drive unit swing arm powers HNF eBike

July 27, 2015

In addition to developing its own innovative premium vehicles and technologies with a focus on sustainability, BMW i also serves within the BMW Group as an incubator for innovation reaching beyond the brand’s vehicles.

As one example, a drive unit swing arm, now entering production at the HNF eBike factory after development to series maturity in collaboration with BMW Research and Technology, originated from the first stage of BMW i market research and the early concept phase. As there was no longer any immediate use for the patent at BMW i, the company released it for external use.

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BRUSA offering new high-efficiency motor/gearbox combination for electric commercial vehicles

BRUSA Elektronik AG is offering its Planetary Traction Drive DTSP1—a fully integrated electric vehicle drivetrain combining motor and gearbox—with its higher power HSM1-10.18.22 Hybrid Synchronous Motor, offering 220 kW (295 hp) maximum power (145 kW/194 hp continuous) and up to 460 N·m (339 b-ft) peak torque (270 N·m/199 lb-ft continuous). With this configuration, BRUSA is targeting light commercial vehicles, vans or sports cars.

The compact design of the transmission in combination with the powerful motor results in a highly efficient power set. The DTSP1 unit can be used as an axle or four-wheel drivetrain set. By using the differential on the axles, powerful yet weight-optimized drives can be realized. With the adjustment of the axle differential every application can be achieved with the right ratio.

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Researchers show use of MFRE can at least double wireless power transfer efficiency; more efficient than metamaterials

July 23, 2015

Researchers at North Carolina State University and Carnegie Mellon University have shown that passing wireless power transfer through a magnetic resonance field enhancer (MR-FE)—which could be as simple as a copper loop—can at least double transfer efficiency as compared to transferring through air alone. MR-FE use could potentially boost transfer efficiency by as much as 5,000% in some systems, the researchers said.

Wireless power transfer works via magnetic coupling or inductive coupling, and can achieve very high efficiency when the distances between the transmitter and receiver are small—less than a few centimeters. In such a case, the transmitter and receiver are strongly coupled, with a high coupling coefficient (usually greater that 0.9). As distance increases, the strength of the coupling decreases. Enhancing wireless power transfer efficiency over greater distances—to support, for example, the wireless charging of electric vehicles—has thus been a major goal of many research groups.

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DLR and Wuppertal publish comprehensive global analysis of e-mobility technologies, outlook and lifecycle assessments

The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy (Wuppertal Institut für Klima, Umwelt, Energie GmbH; WI) have published results of their STROMbegleitung (electricity evaluation) comprehensive study to analyze technologies; market outlook; policy support; infrastructure; and life-cycle assessments for electrically-powered transport.

The study, which ran from October 2011 – September 2014, comprehensively charts current progress in technology; identifies trends; analyzes lifecycle assessments for a variety of vehicle concepts; and assess material intensities. At the same time, it places German activities in the field of electromobility within an international context. The research program received a €1.7 million euro grant from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung; BMBF) as part of the STROM support program (key technologies for electromobility).

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China Zhongwang and Brilliance Bus partner to develop all-aluminum new energy public buses

July 20, 2015

China Zhongwang Holdings Limited, the second largest industrial aluminum extrusion product developer and manufacturer in the world and the biggest one in Asia, has successfully designed, manufactured and developed all-aluminum new energy electric buses for Brilliance Bus (Dalian) Company Limited. This co-operation marks China Zhongwang’s inauguration as the first and only aluminum processing enterprise in China to have the capability of undertaking both the design and manufacturing of all-aluminum new energy public buses.

The frame and body of this new public bus model use aluminum alloy as the key material. Its weight is reduced by 40% compared to its steel counterparts. Aluminium-bodied vehicles are more durable, corrosion resistant and have better vibration absorption capabilities. The lighter auto bodies increase the vehicles’ driving range, thereby conserving energy and reducing operating costs.

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London adding 51 more all-electric buses to operating fleet

July 17, 2015

Transport for London (TfL) announced that two additional bus routes, the 507 and 521, will operate entirely with electric single-deck buses from autumn next year. The 5-year contract to operate the routes has been awarded to Go Ahead following a competitive tender process, and will mean that 51 electric buses will operate across the two routes that will become the second and third pure electric bus routes in the Capital.

Go Ahead will confirm which manufacturer will supply the buses in due course. By 2020, as part of the Ultra Low Emission Zone, TfL is committed to ensuring all 300 single-decker buses operating in central London are zero emission (e.g. electric or hydrogen), and all 3,000 double deck buses are hybrid.

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BMW launches operations at Center of Urban Mobility Competence; boosting electromobility through EV sharing

BMW Group has officially launched operations at its Center of Urban Mobility Competence, which it established earlier this year. Its experts are working with cities and the relevant stakeholders to develop sustainable concepts for future mobility in urban areas.

BMW established the Competence Center to help bring the goal of creating a sustainable model for urban mobility, reducing traffic volumes and improving the quality of life in cities within reach, through partnerships with cities themselves. At the same time, BMW also announced that 100 all-electric BMW i3 cars are now available for DriveNow car sharing customers in Berlin, Hamburg and Munich. In London the BMW i3 was already added to the DriveNow fleet in May, and other cities in Germany and Europe will soon follow suit.

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SFU researchers find promise for plug-in vehicles in Canada, but need for increased supply and policy support

July 16, 2015

New work by a team at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Canada has found that more than one-third of Canadian buyers want a plug-in vehicle (PEV), with the majority of those (89—93%) wanting a plug-in hybrid rather than a pure electric vehicle. However, less than 1% of vehicle sales in Canada are electric because of low consumer awareness and limited vehicle choice.

With the current supply of PEVs in Canada (7 models), the future PEV new market share is not likely to exceed 4—5% by 2030, according to the report; increasing supply (to 56 models) could increase market share to over 20% by 2030.

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ELIX Wireless introduces MDC-based 10kW wireless charging solution

July 15, 2015

ELIX Wireless introduced the E10K Wireless Charging System, a wireless charging solution that delivers a full 10kW of wireless power transfer. The E10K Wireless Charging System is based on ELIX Wireless’ patented Magneto-Dynamic Coupling (MDC) technology. MDC, developed at the University of British Columbia, is based on two rotating permanent magnets in transmitter and receiver, rather than resonant inductive technology. (Earlier post.) ELIX Wireless rolled out its initial product offering, the E1K Wireless Charging System, to customers in early 2015. The E10K Wireless Charging System is now commercially available to customers and partners.

Typical wireless charging solutions available in the market today are based on inductive technologies and deliver up to 7.7kW. To meet the demand for a faster, higher power wireless charging solution that can operate under extreme environmental conditions, ELIX Wireless developed the E10K Wireless Charging System. E10K “building blocks” can be combined together to create even higher power systems.

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EU project V-Charge makes final demonstration of automated valet-parking and inductive charging system

The V-Charge (Valet Charge) research project, a four-year, €5.63-million (US$6.21-million) effort partly funded through the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research to develop systems for automated valet-parking and inductive charging for electric vehicles, has made the final presentation of its work in a demonstration at the Excellence Parking Garage at Amsterdam airport.

The fully automated parking system relieves drivers of the tiresome and time-consuming task of finding a parking spot. The vehicle not only automatically looks for an empty parking space, but finds an empty space with charging infrastructure and inductively charges its battery. Once the charging process is finished, it automatically frees up the charging bay for another electric vehicle and looks for a conventional parking space.

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Kia prepping Washington and Oregon for Soul EV launch; dealers and charging network w/ fast-chargers

July 09, 2015

Kia Motors America (KMA) is continuing its progressive launch of the Soul EV and adding to the electric vehicle ecosystem in the Pacific Northwest with 20 Soul EV-certified dealers and a charging network. Of the 20 dealers in the region, 12 will be located in Washington and eight in Oregon.

In addition to each being equipped with two Level-2 chargers (40 total in the PNW region), 10 of the dealers will also be up-fitted with 50kW Signet FC50K-CC-S DC fast chargers, increasing Kia’s overall network of fast-charging stations. This fast charger can charge the Soul EV’s battery from empty to 80% in about 33 minutes. As an added value, select Kia dealers will allow Soul EV owners to charge at no cost.

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Hyundai-Kia America and Mojo Mobility partnering on wireless fast-charging project

July 08, 2015

Hyundai-Kia America Technical Center, Inc., (HATCI) and Mojo Mobility, Inc., a wireless power technology company, have been awarded funding from the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Vehicle Technologies (VT) program to research and develop a system for wireless fast-charging an electric vehicle at up to a 19.2 kW power transfer rate. The two have already been partnering on a DOE-funded project on high-efficiency, low-EMI and positioning-tolerant wireless charging of EVs.

Mojo Mobility’s Near Field Power technology is able to meet charging power levels ranging from 1 W to 90 W and higher for mobile devices and up to 20 kW for electric vehicles. The wireless charging systems are capable of transferring their high power without need for precise alignment between the charger and the vehicle.

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Berkeley Lab analysis finds autonomous electric taxis could greatly reduce US LDV GHG emissions

July 06, 2015

Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have found that the per-mile greenhouse gas emissions of an electric autonomous taxi in 2030 would be 63-82% lower than a projected 2030 hybrid vehicle driven as a privately owned car and 90% lower than a 2014 gasoline-powered private vehicle. Their paper appears in the journal Nature Climate Change.

The autonomous vehicles (AVs) gain their through three synergistic effects, the researchers found: (1) future decreases in electricity GHG emissions intensity; (2) smaller vehicle sizes resulting from trip-specific autonomous taxi deployment (i.e., “right-sizing,” where the size of the taxi deployed is tailored to each trip’s occupancy needs); and (3) higher annual vehicle-miles travelled (VMT), increasing high-efficiency (especially battery-electric) vehicle cost-effectiveness.

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BMW and SCHERM put 40t battery-electric truck into service for material transport in 1-year pilot

The BMW Group and the SCHERM group have put a 40-ton electric truck for material transport into service on public roads in a one-year pilot. The truck, a Terberg YT202-EV electric tractor, has successfully completed its first test drives. The truck will travel a 2km route (1.2 miles) eight times a day between the SCHERM group logistics center and the BMW Group plant in Munich, transporting different vehicle components such as shock absorbers, springs and steering systems.

The truck battery takes three to four hours to charge. When fully charged, the vehicle has a range of up to 100 kilometers (62 miles). Thus, the electric truck can theoretically complete a full production day without any additional recharging.

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Navigant forecasts global annual sales of LDVs of 122.6M by 2035, up 38% from 2015

In a new report, Navigant Research forecasts global annual sales of light duty vehicles will reach 122.6 million by 2035, up 38% from a projected 88.8 million this year, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.6%. Navigant Research expects the number of LDVs in use on roads worldwide to grow by 57.1% from 2015 to 2035 to almost 1.9 billion units.

Navigant expects sales of conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles will fall significantly over the forecast period, experiencing a CAGR of -6.6%. As a result, the share of vehicles in use that are conventional ICE vehicles will fall from more than 91% in 2015 to under 40% by 2035. Navigant expects ICE vehicles will be replaced by start-stop vehicles (SSVs), which will grow from representing more than 4% of vehicles in use in 2015 to nearly 49% in 2035. Hybrids (HEVs) are expected to account for nearly 3%, while PHEVs (plug-in hybrids), BEVs (battery-electric vehicles), NGVs (natural gas vehicles), PAGVs (propane autogas vehicles), and FCV (fuel cell vehicles) s together are projected to add up to more than 9% of the LDVs in use in 2035.

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China’s ZTE pushing ahead with high-power wireless charging vehicle test deployment

ZTE Corporation, China’s largest listed telecommunications equipment company, is developing high-power wireless charging systems and services for electric vehicles, with a focus on public charging infrastructure. At a China-US workshop on electric vehicle standardization held in June (earlier post), Academus Tian, VP of ZTE New Energy Vehicle Co., presented an overview of ZTE’s efforts in wireless power transfer (WPT).

Tian said that ZTE’s inductive charging WPT module has a potential capacity of up to 30 kW, with a gap of 20 cm and efficiency of up to 90%. The footprint of the device is less than 1 m2; frequency is 85 kHz. ZTE, which has aggressively partnered with a number of passenger and commercial vehicles makers over the past few years, has recently launched a series of commercial vehicle (bus) WPT trials.

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Study: even with high LDV electrification, low-carbon biofuels will be necessary to meet 80% GHG reduction target; “daunting” policy implications

July 03, 2015

A study by researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Michigan State University colleague has concluded that even with a relatively high rate of electrification of the US light-duty fleet (40% of vehicle miles traveled and 26% by fuel), an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050 relative to 1990 can only be achieved with significant quantities of low-carbon liquid fuel. The paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

For the study, the researchers benchmarked 27 scenarios against a 50% petroleum-reduction target and an 80% GHG-reduction target. They found that with high rates of electrification (40% of miles traveled) the petroleum-reduction benchmark could be satisfied, even with high travel demand growth. The same highly electrified scenarios, however, could not satisfy 80% GHG-reduction targets, even assuming 80% decarbonized electricity and no growth in travel demand.

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Researchers find Nissan LEAF creates less CO2 than Toyota Prius hybrid in west US and Texas, but more in N. Midwest

July 01, 2015

Regionally specific lifecycle CO2 emissions per mile traveled for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in the US can vary widely based on grid emission factors (i.e., the “carbon footprint” of electricity production and use), according to a new study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University. Under some conditions, the battery electric Nissan LEAF can produce higher emissions than a Toyota Prius hybrid. The paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The team characterized the vehicle emissions across the United States under alternative assumptions for regional electricity emission factors, regional boundaries, and charging schemes. Among the findings were that:

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CMU policy briefs outline benefits and potential for adoption of electrified vehicles in the US

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) have published two new policy briefs, along with accompanying videos, about the benefits of electrified vehicles and the potential for their adoption in the US. The briefs condense the findings of a number of recent papers coming out of the CMU group led by Professor Jeremy Michalek.

The first—“Electric Vehicle Benefits and Costs in the United States”—shows that the benefits of vehicle electrification vary based on vehicle type; driving style; climate; how supplying electricity is generated; and time of charge. To achieve the best outcomes, the brief suggests, plug-in vehicle adoption should typically be focused on HEVs and PHEVs by city drivers in mild-climate regions with a clean electricity grid, such as San Francisco or Los Angeles. Further, drivers should not be encouraged to charge at night in coal-heavy regions.

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BMW Group and NTU Singapore launch US$965K electromobility research program; Electromobility in Asia and Smart Materials

BMW Group and Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) launched a new electromobility research program, involving the all-electric BMW i3 and plug-in hybrid sports car BMW i8. This new research program will be conducted at the Future Mobility Research Lab located on the NTU campus, which is the BMW Group’s first joint lab in Southeast Asia.

Both parties will be injecting a combined S$1.3 million (US$965,000) to drive the new research projects, on top of the initial S$5.5 million (US$4.1 million) funding allocated to the joint lab in 2013. The new research program will focus on two new areas, Electromobility in Asia and also Smart Materials. This is in addition to the original three research topics on which the joint lab is already working: Advanced Battery; Driver Enhancement; and Intelligent Mobility.

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DOE to award $20M to projects to recover rare earth elements from coal and coal byproducts

June 29, 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0001202) that will award an estimated $20 million to projects quickly to develop bench scale and pilot scale projects for recovering Rare Earth Elements (REE)—a set of seventeen chemical elements in the periodic table and key components of electronics and renewable energy technologies—from coal and coal byproducts.

The DOE has begun investigating the economic feasibility of recovery of REEs from domestic United States coal and coal byproducts. n FY14, DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) conducted a preliminary, short-term, baseline field evaluation of coal and coal by-products as potential domestic resources of REEs. NETL has characterized a number of REE-bearing samples of coal and coal related materials, and posted the associated results and reports here.

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Opinion: Why Buffett Bet A Billion On Solar: Miles Per Acre Per Year

by Henry Hewitt for

During the late innings of the ICE-age (as in the Internal Combustion Engine age) it has become clear that feeding gasoline and diesel to the next billion new cars is not going to be easy, or cheap. In China alone, 500 million new vehicles can be expected to jam the roads between now and 2030.

That may sound far-fetched, but considering annual sales have already made it to 25 million units per year (vs. around 17 million in the US—China became the top market in 2009), it only requires a 4 percent growth rate to reach that target in fifteen years.

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California ARB approves $373M funding plan for advanced vehicle technologies in FY2015-2016; up from $150M last year

June 26, 2015

The California Air Resources Board today approved a $373-million funding plan that covers all investments in advanced technologies for fiscal year 2015-16, from zero-emission heavy-duty trucks and buses to rebates for low- and zero-emission passenger vehicles.

The budget for the annual Funding Plan for Low Carbon Transportation Investments and the Air Quality Improvement Program is up by $150 million over last year’s budget, and is subject to approval by the Legislature when it considers the proposed expenditure of Cap-and-Trade auction proceeds as part of the State Budget.

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LowCVP: 5 Ps for influencing uptake of low emission vehicles at local level

The UK’s Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership has launched a Good Practice Guide for Local Measures to Encourage the Uptake of Low Emission Vehicles. A key recommendation is that policy measures implemented at the local level should be consistent with each other, that common definitions and vocabulary for low emission vehicles should be established. The Good Practice Guide for Local Measures to Encourage the Uptake of Low Emission Vehicles was prepared for the LowCVP by Urban Foresight.

Released to coincide with the LowCVP’s 2015 Annual Conference which features a discussion on mobility in future cities, the LowCVP has identified five ‘P’s from the Guide—levers that local authorities can most effectively use to influence low emission vehicle uptake at the local level:

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Toho Tenax’s prepreg helps to cut 1.1MW Tajima Rimac electric racer’s weight

June 22, 2015

Teijin Limited announced that carbon fiber sheet pre-impregnated with matrix resin, or prepreg, made by Toho Tenax Co., Ltd., the core company of the Teijin Group’s carbon fibers and composites business, is used in the lightweight body of a new 1.1 MW electric racecar operated by Team APEV with Monster Sport. The Tajima Rimac E-Runner Concept_One—driven by Tajima CEO Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima—will race in the Electric Modified Division in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb from June 22 to 28.

The racer, developed by Rimac Automobili in collaboration with Monster Sport and Team APEV, is based on an aluminum space frame covered with the carbon fiber composite body panels. A 57 kWh Rimac battery pack powers four Rimac permanent magnet synchronous motors, delivering combined maximum output of 1,100 kW (1,475 hp) and 1,500 N·m (1,106 lb-ft) of torque.

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PSA Peugeot Citroën and Bolloré Group sign strategic cooperation agreement on Bluesummer EV and car sharing

June 17, 2015

PSA Peugeot Citroën and Bolloré Group have signed a strategic cooperation agreement covering electric vehicle production and distribution as well as car sharing. The two said the agreement is aligned with their common goal of becoming a leading player in the car sharing market, which will account for a significant portion of the new mobility economy, alongside public transport solutions.

The electric vehicle that will be distributed by PSA Peugeot Citroën is the Bluesummer, a four-seat cabriolet designed by Bolloré, with an urban driving range of 200 kilometers (124 miles). Top speed is 110 km/h (68 mph), and the vehicle is powered by a 30 kWh Bolloré BlueSolutions LMP battery pack.

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Honda discontinuing Civic Hybrid, Civic natural gas model, Accord plug-in hybrid; new BEV, PHEV models coming

June 15, 2015

Due in part to Honda’s ability to advance fuel economy through conventional engine technology, the Civic lineup will no longer include a hybrid or a natural gas model, according to John Mendel, Executive Vice President, Automobile Division American Honda Motor Co., Inc. Both of these products with the end of the 2015 model year. Mendel also said said that Honda will not offer a plug-in version of Accord going forward as the company looks toward the scheduled launch of a new dedicated plug-in model. Honda currently is selling the MY 2014 Accord Plug-in Hybrid.

Honda will launch the all-new 10th-generation Civic this fall. With two new engines on the new Civic, including its first turbo engine, Honda is targeting class-leading fuel economy for Civic, with EPA highway fuel economy “a few ticks” above 40 miles per gallon, Mendel said.

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Nissan and 4R Energy partner with Green Charge Networks for commercial energy storage featuring second-life EV batteries

Nissan Motor Company and Green Charge Networks, a provider of commercial energy storage, are partnering to deploy second-life Li-ion vehicle batteries for stationary commercial energy storage in the US and international markets. General availability is targeted for Q4 2015.

With more than 178,000 sales since its launch in late 2010, Nissan LEAF is the world’s top-selling electric vehicle. As part of the company’s commitment to sustainability and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Nissan has conducted multiple research projects in Japan, the US and Europe to use the 24 kWh LEAF battery packs outside the vehicle through 4R Energy, a joint-venture with Sumitomo Corp. formed in 2010. (Earlier post.)

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A closer look at Audi’s new R8 e-tron EV and battery

June 12, 2015

The model line-up of the second generation of Audi’s high-performance R8 sports car, unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, includes the new R8 e-tron battery-electric vehicle. (Earlier post.) The new R8 e-tron delivers 340 kW (456 hp) of power; acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 3.9 seconds; and a driving range of up to 450 km (279.6 mi). Range for the first generation R8 e-tron was was 215 km (133.6 mi).

Available for order this year upon customer request, the new R8 e-tron uses a newly developed high energy density Li-ion technology optimized for a purely electric vehicle drive. Li-ion cell energy density was increased from 84 to 152 Wh/kg; in comparison to the first technology platform, the battery capacity has grown from 48.6 kWh to 90.2 kWh—without changing the package.

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Lux: China’s advanced energy storage market to quadruple to $8.7B in 2025; 85% share by transport

June 11, 2015

Driven by environmental problems, a growing auto industry, and a big policy push, China’s advanced energy storage market will be worth $8.7 billion in 2025, more than quadrupling from the current $1.7 billion, according to a new report from Lux Research called “Clearing the Haze: Demystifying Energy Storage Opportunities in China”.

Transport applications will dominate with $7.4 billion, or 85% share of the revenues. Stationary applications will earn $1.3 billion. Overall, revenues will grow slower than volumes on account of continually falling battery and systems prices.

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Leclanché to provide 4.2 MWh Li-ion battery pack to Green Ferry Project electric ferryboat

Swiss battery manufacturer Leclanché has been selected as the Li-ion battery system supplier for a battery-electric ferryboat to be built by Danish shipbuilder Søby Shipyard Ltd. The ferry will be placed in service in June 2017 to transport vehicles and passengers between island Ærø and the mainland in Denmark.

Leclanché is a joint partner in the Green Ferry Project and will deliver a full-electric drive train to the ferry with its partner Visedo. The ferry will be equipped with a 4.2 MWh battery system from Leclanché, making the boat the world’s largest ferry in terms of battery capacity. As one of the Top 5 projects in the EU Horizon 2020 initiative, a program with a total budget of €21 million (US$24 million), this initiative is part of the Danish Natura project.

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Proterra Catalyst electric bus sets records at Altoona in efficiency, gradeability, weight and acceleration

June 10, 2015

Proterra has completed the structural testing program at the Altoona Bus Research and Testing Center with its new Catalyst battery-electric bus (earlier post), in the process setting records for efficiency, gradeability, weight and acceleration. The full public Altoona report is available here.

While conventional diesel buses average 3.86 mpg (60.9 l/100 km), the Proterra Catalyst achieved the best overall average fuel consumption rating yet for a 40' transit bus at 22.16 MPGe (equivalent to 10.7 l/100 km) (1.70 kWh/mile). Nearly six times more efficient than a diesel or CNG bus, the Catalyst is also ~15% more energy efficient per mile than its closest competitor’s electric bus on the same test (BYD, which averaged 1.988 kWh/mile), which translates to a lower lifetime energy consumption of 15%. Proterra’s new 40' bus is more energy efficient per mile than most light-duty trucks and SUVs on the road today.

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Infineon heading up 3 major related EU electromobility research projects; ~$75M in total funding

The European Commission is launching three new related research projects aimed at making electromobility cheaper, more efficient and more reliable in order to facilitate more electric vehicles on Europe’s roads. Europe will be the site for the continued development and production of electric vehicles under these projects, which will run until 2018 and are headed by Infineon Technologies AG. Total funding for the three research initiatives is about €67 million (US$75 million).

As a result of the three research projects 3Ccar, OSEM-EV and SilverStream, electrical systems used in electric vehicles will benefit from being approximately one-fifth more compact and lighter; their range improved; and their cost lowered by about 25%. The three projects will collaborate to research and develop environmentally-friendly, safe and robust electric vehicles. The entire automotive value chain is contributing to this effort, from chip producers to car manufacturers.

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Evolute Drives seeking investors for MSYS multi-speed transmission for hybrids and EVs

June 09, 2015

Evolute Drives, incorporated as a separate entity by its sister company Drive System Design (DSD) (earlier post), is seeking investors to help commercialize its high efficiency MSYS multi-speed transmission system for hybrids and electric vehicles. (Earlier post.)

The MSYS transmission was originally developed under a 3-year Technology Strategy Board (now InnovateUK) grant awarded in 2011, and in 2013 DSD was named as a key member of a £16-million (US$24.4-million) UK government-supported consortium known as the Evoque_E development program. Evoque_E took a pragmatic look at how new transmission and motor technologies could be implemented to increase the range, performance and refinement of electric vehicles. Almost completed, the project has investigated a number of evolving powertrain options, including multi-speed transmissions and the potential for doubling electric vehicle motor speeds.

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Up close and personal with Volkswagen’s e-Golf carbon offset project: Garcia River Forest

June 08, 2015

TCF, the manager of the Garcia River Forest Project, would like to enable its increasing number of redwood trees to reach the 1,000-year-old status of some of their neighbors, like this one. Click to enlarge.

In 2014, Volkswagen of America announced that starting with the launch of the zero-tailpipe emissions battery-electric 2015 e-Golf (earlier post), it would invest in projects to offset the carbon emissions created from the e-Golf on a full lifecycle basis: production, distribution and up to approximately 36,000 miles (57,936 km) of driving.

Last week, Volkswagen provided a close-up look at one of the projects in which it is investing: the Garcia River Conservation-Based Forest Management Project, located in Mendocino County, California. This project, to which Volkswagen contributes along with companies such as UPS, repairs and preserves a ~24,000-acre native redwood forest, increasing carbon sequestration and storage, while also helping to restore the natural wildlife habitat. Emission reductions produced by the project are verified by an approved third party and registered with the Climate Action Reserve (Project ID CAR102).

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1st major utility proposal for EV charging infrastructure presented to CPUC

June 05, 2015

A diverse set of public interest groups, automakers, labor unions, and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) submitted a proposed settlement to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to accelerate the deployment of smart electric vehicle (EV) charging stations that would support the utility grid in San Diego.

The application is California’s first utility pilot proposal to help develop charging infrastructure, and, through pricing that allows for customer-managed charging, to manage transportation electrification load to support the evolving needs of an electrical grid increasingly dominated by variable renewable energy.

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US$7.5M JOSPEL project to develop energy efficient climate control for EVs; leveraging Joule and Peltier effects

June 03, 2015

A trans-European collaboration aims to develop a novel energy efficient climate control system to help reduce the energy used for passenger comfort in electric vehicles by at least 50%. Even in today’s modern electric vehicles, a lot of energy is wasted on heating or cooling, in turn limiting the already relatively short range by further draining the battery capacity.

The aim of the €6.7-million (US$7.5-million) JOSPEL project is to develop an efficient, electrical climate control system using an integrated approach that combines the application of the Joule and Peltier effects; efficient insulation of the vehicle interior; energy recovery from heat zones; increased battery life as a side effect of thermal management; reduced battery energy consumption via the integration of Peltier cooling; innovative automated and eco-driving strategies; and the electronic control of power flows.

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Volkswagen Group and SAIC to produce EVs and PHEVs in China

The Volkswagen Group and SAIC Motor Corporation Ltd, Volkswagen’s original joint venture partner in China, have agreed to expand the main plant of their joint venture Shanghai Volkswagen (SVW) in Anting to support the local production of electric vehicles. Full localization of the Volkswagen Group’s electric vehicles in China will be gradually implemented.

With the development and local production of electric vehicles and components, Volkswagen is taking the next step in the further expansion of its research and development activities in China. The company said that it will also intensify its local research in the fields of fuel cells and plug-in hybrid vehicles as well.

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Overhead fast charging system for electric buses from Fraunhofer and partners

June 01, 2015

Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Transportation and Infrastructure Systems IVI and its several partners in the EDDA Bus project, have developed a pantograph fast-charging solution for electric buses that supports route-based opportunity charging. Operational system testing of a converted bus and its charging station began in Dresden in November last year.

The solution is based on four core technologies: the Dresden-based company M&P GmbH designed a charging station with very high charging capacities; HOPPECKE Advanced Battery Technology GmbH supplied special batteries designed for such high power capacities; Vossloh Kiepe GmbH was responsible for adapting the power electronics; and the contact system located on the roof of the bus was realized by Fraunhofer IVI together with Schunk Bahn- und Industrietechnik GmbH.

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California providing incentives up to $12K to help low-income families afford the cleanest cars

May 28, 2015

In coordination with local air officials, the California Air Resources Board is initiating a retire-and-replace pilot program in the Greater Los Angeles area and San Joaquin Valley to help people of low income replace old, polluting cars with cleaner, more fuel efficient vehicles that also cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The air district-administered program provides incentives on a sliding scale, with larger cash payments for the lowest-income families moving up to the cleanest cars. The lowest-income recipient purchasing the very cleanest car receives the highest incentive amounts. Under the program, it is possible for a family that meets income guidelines to receive as much as $12,000 toward the purchase of an electric car.

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Ford opens portfolio of patented technologies to competitors to accelerate industry-wide electrified vehicle development

Ford Motor Company is offering competitors access to its electrified vehicle technology patents in a move to help accelerate industry-wide research and development of electrified vehicles. In 2014, Ford filed more than 400 patents dedicated to electrified vehicle technologies. This is more than 20% of the patents the company filed, totaling more than 2,000 applications.

Ford currently offers six hybrid or fully electrified vehicles including Ford Focus Electric; Ford Fusion Hybrid; Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid; Ford C-MAX Hybrid; Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid; and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. In total, Ford has more than 650 electrified vehicle patents and approximately 1,000 pending patent applications on electrified vehicle technologies.

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Navigant forecasts annual plug-in electric vehicle sales in N America to exceed 1.1M by 2024

May 27, 2015

In a new report, Navigant Research forecasts that North American plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) sales will exceed 1.1 million annually by 2024. The report, Electric Vehicle Geographic Forecasts, provides data and forecasts for LD PEV sales in North America, including US states, MSAs, and utility service territories and Canadian provinces and cities.

To date, North America is the strongest market for light duty (LD) plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), with more than 133,000 sold in 2014. Navigant forecasts the US will continue to be the largest market throughout the forecast period, with annual PEV sales in 2024 exceeding 860,000 in the conservative scenario and 1.2 million in the aggressive. Navigant Research estimates this market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of between 14.7% and 18.6% between 2015 and 2024.

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Audi showcasing R8 e-tron piloted driving EV at CES Asia; piloted driving Audi A7 Sportback

May 25, 2015

At CES Asia 2015 in Shanghai, Audi is showcasing a piloted driving technology study version of its new R8 e-tron battery-electric sports car, introduced earlier this year at the Geneva show. (Earlier post.) Audi is also featuring a piloted driving version of its A7 Sportback. (Earlier post.)

The R8 e-tron—340 kW (456 hp) of power, acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 3.9 seconds, and a driving range of 450 km (280 miles)—is based on the multi-material Space Frame of the second-generation production R8. The piloted driving technology study integrates a range of future technologies for lightweight design, high-performance drive systems and functions for piloted driving.

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Daimler and Qualcomm announce strategic collaboration on connected car technologies, wireless EV charging

May 24, 2015

Daimler AG and Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. (QTI), a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, announced a strategic collaboration focused on connected car technologies. In the first phase of the collaboration, the companies will focus on transforming future vehicles with mobile technologies that enhance in-car experiences and vehicle performance such as 3G/4G connectivity; wireless charging technology for in-vehicle use; and implementation of the Qualcomm Halo Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging (WEVC) technology.

In addition, the companies are jointly assessing the application of Qualcomm Technology’s newly developed Automotive Solutions.

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Bosch retrofits a pair of Tesla Model S EVs for automated driving testing

May 21, 2015

Bosch has retrofitted two Model S Teslas for automated driving; the vehicles join the Bosch test fleet. The two Teslas can now autonomously drive from on-ramp to off-ramp without the driver needing to monitor them constantly. Dr. Dirk Hoheisel, member of the Bosch board of management, said that Bosch opted for two all-electric Model S vehicles because they combine two automotive industry trends: electrification and automation.

Fifty new Bosch components were installed in each car, including a stereo video camera (SVC), which the car uses to recognize lanes, traffic signs, and clear spaces. The Bosch says that its SVC is the smallest stereo camera system for automotive applications currently available in the market; the compact design makes it easy to integrate into vehicles. In addition to the camera, 1,300 meters of cable were laid in each car and fixed in place with 400 cable ties.

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Lux Research: Li-ion battery costs to drop to as low as $172/kWh by 2025; big boost for EVs in mid- to late 2020s

May 19, 2015

The electric vehicle opportunity is set to expand, as leading battery developers such as Panasonic drive down prices of Li-ion battery packs by 35% to $172/kWh in 2025, according to a new report, “Crossing the Line: Li-ion Battery Cost Reduction and Its Effect on Vehicles and Stationary Storage,” by Lux Research. However, only the best-in-class players will achieve that cost threshold, while others lag at $229/kWh.

The estimate is based on a new bottom-up cost model built by Lux Research in an industry known for being highly secretive about its costs. The model accounts for differences in battery chemistry, form factor, production scale, location and other nuances.

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Faradion demonstrates proof-of-concept sodium-ion electric bike

May 15, 2015

E-bike powered by Faradion prototype Na-ion battery pack. For the proof-of-concept, the cells were manufactured to be larger than necessary to avoid unnecessary costs and lengthy manufacturing processes at this early stage. Click to enlarge.

British battery R&D company Faradion has demonstrated a proof-of-concept electric bike powered by sodium-ion batteries at the headquarters of Williams Advanced Engineering, which collaborated in the development of the bike. Oxford University was also a partner. Although lithium-ion batteries are currently the predominant battery technology in electric and hybrid vehicles, as well as other energy storage applications, sodium-ion could offer significant cost, safety and sustainability benefits.

Sodium-ion intercalation batteries—i.e., batteries using the same process of ion insertion and removal as in Li-ion batteries—have been discussed in the literature for some time. (e.g., Earlier post.) Using sodium instead of lithium in a battery is attractive because it could potentially be much less expensive (~30% less) and safer, and it would be more environmentally benign. However, developing efficient Na+ intercalation compounds is a challenge because sodium ions are much larger than lithium ions—about 70% larger in radius. Thus, insertion/deinsertion of sodium ions in a host material is much more difficult than that of lithium ions.

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Volkswagen unveils Golf GTE Sport PHEV concept: 0-100 km/h in 4.3s and 118 mpg

May 14, 2015

Golf GTE Sport PHEV concept. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen used the annual Wörthersee festival in Austria as the venue to unveil the Golf GTE Sport concept plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. Featuring a carbon fiber body and a three power unit, all-wheel drive system, the 295 kW (396 hp) Golf GTE Sport accelerates from 0 - 100 km/h in 4.3 seconds, has a top speed of up to 280 km/h (174 mph), yet offers fuel consumption of just 2.0 l/100 km/h (118 mpg) on the NEDC cycle for plug-in hybrid vehicles. All-electric range is up to 50 km (31 miles).

The 1.6 liter TSI (turbocharged direct-injection engine) adapted from the engine used in the Polo R WRC (World Rally Car) is fitted in the engine compartment at the front. The delivers 220 kW (295 hp) and maximum torque of 400 N·m (295 lb-ft). Volkswagen has already won the World Rally Championship twice with this engine. In the Golf GTE Sport, the four-cylinder unit is assisted by two electric motors, each producing 85 kW.

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Smith Electric Vehicles and FDG form JV for commercial EVs in US; new joint EV platform

May 13, 2015

Smith Electric Vehicles executed an agreement to form a joint venture with China-based strategic partner and investor FDG Electric Vehicles, a vertically integrated electric vehicle and lithium-ion battery manufacturer engaged in the R&D, production and distribution of all-electric vehicles. Both parties have also entered into Intellectual Property (IP) and technology licensing agreements with the JV, taking full advantage of the combination of FDG’s electric vehicles designs and Smith’s technologies and distribution network, so as to accelerate the development of the FDG brand name and products in the US market.

FDG will contribute the US-exclusive right to use its self-designed passenger van, minibus, panel van and cab/chassis (a US$30-million consideration) into the JV and also subscribe to the JV’s shares with US$15 million in cash; Smith will inject all of its US-exclusive IP pertaining to electric vehicles and its current client base (a US$40-million consideration). In addition, the JV will enter into an exclusive sourcing agreement for electric vehicles’ SKD (semi-knocked down) kits and electric vehicle battery with FDG, and the exclusive agreement of assembly and production with Smith respectively to entrust Smith to manufacture electric vehicles using FDG SKD kits and batteries.

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Tesla posts $154M GAAP loss, $45M non-GAAP loss in Q1 on record deliveries; confident in 55K total deliveries this year

May 07, 2015

In its Q1 2015 financial report, Tesla Motors said it produced 11,160 vehicles in Q1 (10% better than guidance, at an average of 1,000 cars per production week); delivered 10,045 (worldwide), a quarterly record; and posted a $154-million GAAP net loss (non-GAAP net loss of $45 million). The Q1 GAAP net loss was 43% greater than the Q4 2014 GAAP net loss and 210% greater than GAAP net loss in Q1 2014.

Tesla has begun breaking out the revenues and costs of its automotive business from its other activities—i.e., powertrain sales, service revenue, Tesla Energy (the new line of stationary energy storage systems) and pre-owned Tesla vehicle sales. Automotive revenue and related costs reflect activities related to the sale or lease of new vehicles including regulatory (e.g., ZEV) credits, data connectivity and Supercharging.

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First 18-meter electric bus in China powered by TM4 SUMO HD powertrain with external rotor motor technology

China’s first 18-meter battery electric bus has been put into service in Beijing. The Foton AUV 18-meter Harmony City BJ6180 is powered by a TM4 SUMO HD electric powertrain with a maximum torque of 3,500 N·m (2,581 lb-ft), 1600 N·m (1,180 lb-ft) continuous.

The SUMO HD is designed to interface with standard rear differentials without the need for an intermediate gearbox. Its direct drive / gearless approach makes it a good match for high-duty platform and commercial vehicle applications. The system features TM4’s external rotor motor technology (in which the rotor rotates on the outside of the stator). The external rotor motor technology delivers higher power density, high torque density, and increased long-term reliability than a similar motor with an internal rotor, according to TM4.

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OEMs shifting towards onboard chargers > 6 kW for EVs; lower output chargers to remain dominant through 2020

May 05, 2015

Most battery and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) manufacturers in Europe and the US have been adopting onboard chargers with a power output between 3 to 3.7 kilowatts (kW). Now, EV manufacturers are moving towards onboard chargers with a power output greater than 6.6 kW to reduce charging time.

While high-end PHEVs are contributing to this trend, lower-end models in this segment are still using 3.7 kW onboard chargers. Consequently, onboard chargers with power ratings between 3 to 3.7 kW are expected to remain dominant, accounting for 62% of sales even in 2020, according to new analysis from Frost & Sullivan.

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Volkswagen Group to offer more than 20 electric vehicle models in China “in near future”

The Volkswagen Group plans to offer more than 20 electric vehicle models—from small cars to large sedans and SUVs, plug-in hybrids and battery-electric vehicles—to Chinese customers “in the near future,” according to Prof. Dr. Jochem Heizmann, Member of the Group Board of Management with responsibility for China, in a special essay published in the Environment section of the company’s newly released sustainability report.

The Chinese government has set guidelines to reduce CO2 emissions in China to a fleet fuel consumption of 5 l/100 km (47 mpg US) as measured on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) by 2020. The expected fleet average this year is 6.9 l/100 km (34 mpg US). Thus, the government is requiring an overall reduction of about 28%, or 6.2% per year, between 2015 and 2020. Meeting this target will be even more challenging than meeting the 95 g/km target for 2020 set by the European Union, writes Dr. Heizmann, explaining:

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Wrightspeed unveils new turbine range extender for medium- and heavy-duty electric powertrains; 30% more efficient than current microturbine generators

May 04, 2015

Wrightspeed Inc., a developer of range-extended electric vehicle powertrains for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (earlier post), has unveiled the Fulcrum, a new proprietary turbine generator for use in its Route family of electric powertrains (Route for Class 3-6, Route HD for Class 7-8). The new 80 kW Fulcrum is a radial inflow, axial turbine, intercooled and recuperated. Fulcrum is a single shaft machine, the generator runs at turbine speed (~100,000 rpm). Weighing in at 250 lbs (113.4 kg), the Fulcrum is approximately 1/10th the weight of its piston generator counterparts and it is designed to have a 10,000-hour lifetime.

The Route extended range electric powertrains incorporate a range-extending genset designed to recharge the high-power battery pack (currently from A123 Systems) and Wrightspeed’s own geared traction drive (GTD) (earlier post). Wrightspeed, founded by Ian Wright, one of the original co-founders of Tesla Motors, has used a 65 kW Capstone microturbine in earlier Route powertrains. The 65 kW Capstone unit weighs 300 lbs (136.1 kg), for a power-to-weight ratio of 478 W/kg; by comparison, Wrightspeed’s new Fulcrum microturbine offers a power-to-weight ratio of 750 W/kg. With Fulcrum, on which the company has been working for about 3 years, Wrightspeed now owns 100% of the Intellectual Property of its powertrain products.

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HRL Labs video demonstrates principle of thermal battery based on advanced metal hydrides for EV heating and cooling

April 30, 2015

In 2011, the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) awarded $2.7 million to a team comprising researchers from the University of Utah, HRL Laboratories and GM Global R&D for a project to develop a new generation of high-density thermal battery based on advanced metal hydrides. (Earlier post.) The goal of the project, part of ARPA-E’s HEATS (High Energy Advanced Thermal Storage) portfolio, was to develop a compact thermal battery for climate control in electric vehicles. Such a thermal battery would provide heating and cooling without draining the electric battery, in effect, extending the driving range of EVs per electric charge.

As described in a paper in press in the Journal of Alloys and Compounds, the developed system uses a pair of thermodynamically matched metal hydrides as energy storage media: (1) catalyzed MgH2 as the high temperature hydride material, due to its high energy density and enhanced kinetics; and (2) TiV0.62Mn1.5 alloy as the matching low temperature hydride. HRL has now released a video demonstrating the principle behind the work on thermal battery technology.

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GM provides technical details of the Gen 2 Voltec propulsion system used in the 2016 Volt

April 23, 2015

The second-generation “Voltec” extended range electric powertrain applied in the MY2016 Chevy Volt (earlier post) marks a significant evolution in the electric drive technology platform from its first-generation origins. After proving a initial look at the design and capability of the different components (earlier post) late last year, GM is now providing deeper technical insight into the second-generation platform.

At the SAE 2015 World Congress in Detroit this week, GM engineers are presenting four papers on the technology of the Gen 2 Voltec propulsion system: an overview of the system and the realized improvements in efficiency and performance; a paper on the significantly re-engineered traction power inverter module (TPIM); a paper on the design and performance of the new electric motors used in the propulsion system; and a paper on the selection and design of the optimized gasoline-fueled 1.5-liter range extender engine.

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NRC report recommends ways to overcome barriers hindering purchases of PEVs; vehicle cost, battery tech and consumer knowledge among others

April 22, 2015

Vehicle cost, current battery technology, and inadequate consumer knowledge are some of the barriers preventing widespread adoption of plug-in electric vehicles, according to a new congressionally mandated report from the National Research Council. Developing less expensive, better performing batteries is essential to reducing overall vehicle cost, and a market strategy is needed to create awareness and overcome customer uncertainty, the report finds. The report recommends a range of incentives that the federal government can offer to address these and other barriers.

The premise of the report—“Overcoming Barriers to Deployment of Plug-in Electric Vehicles”—is that there is a benefit to the United States if a higher fraction of vehicle miles traveled is fueled by electricity rather than by petroleum due to the resulting reduction in dependence on petroleum and reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases and criteria pollutants. The task of the committee of experts and stakeholders writing the report was (1) to identify market barriers slowing the purchase of PEVs and hindering the deployment of supporting infrastructure in the United States and (2) to recommend ways to mitigate those barriers.

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Chevrolet unveils new Chevrolet-FNR autonomous electric concept vehicle at Shanghai

April 20, 2015

Chevrolet unveiled the Chevrolet-FNR autonomous electric concept vehicle at Shanghai GM Gala Night. The concept was joined by the all-new Malibu, Bolt EV concept and the 2015 Captiva, which made their China debut. The Chevrolet-FNR was developed in Shanghai by GM’s Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC) joint venture.

The FNR engineering, design and electrification teams drew on their past experience developing electric concept vehicles. Their aim was to create a unique, intelligent vehicle for tomorrow’s younger consumers by utilizing innovative car networking technology.

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CMU study finds controlled EV charging can reduce generation cost, but at greater health and environmental costs depending upon the generation mix

April 16, 2015

In a study focused on the PJM portion of the US electricity grid, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) found that although charging electric vehicles at night (when electricity is cheap and wind power is typically more plentiful) could lower electricity costs, doing so also creates more air emissions, and that the health and environmental costs from these emissions outweigh the electricity cost savings. A paper describing the work is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Results from the study also suggest that with sufficient coal plant retirement and sufficient wind power, controlled charging could result in positive net benefits instead of negative. The result of the analysis depends on the details of the region, notes CMU Professor Jeremy Michalek, corresponding author—i.e., other parts of the US and the world could be different. The question of electricity costs vs. health and environmental cost is important to ask everywhere, Michalek said.

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Cadillac boosts performance of ELR plug-in hybrid for MY2016, cuts MSRP by $9K; $58,495 net after Fed credits

April 15, 2015

Cadillac has greatly enhanced the performance of its ELR extended range electric vehicle (plug-in hybrid) (earlier post) for the 2016 model year, and is also cutting the MSRP by $9,005, bringing the starting price down to $58,495 net after the $7,500 US federal tax credit (MSRP = $65,995). MSRP for MY2014 was $75,000, with a net price of $67,500 after the Federal credit. (Cadillac sold 1,310 units of the ELR in the US in calendar year 2014, and sold 311 units in the first quarter of 2015.)

Major product upgrades include a more than 25% boost in power and torque; faster acceleration that improves 0-60 mph by 1.5 seconds; higher top speed; retuned chassis and steering for better handling; more responsive brakes and a new Performance equipment package.

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Visio.M partners showcasing energy efficient passenger climate control for EVs

As part of the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) collaborative project Visio.M (earlier post, earlier post), scientists of the TU München have developed an energy efficient solution for passenger climate control in EVs. The researchers are presenting the results of their work, as implemented in the Visio.M prototype vehicle, in the German government stand at the Hannover Messe.

In a combustion-engined vehicle, waste heat could be used to heat the vehicle passenger compartments directly. Many electric vehicles simply took over concepts from the combustion engined vehicles—e.g., a heater and an air conditioner. However, the energy drain of this approach can put a noticeable dent in vehicle range. The Visio.M researchers thus took a new look at all potential solutions, considering their efficiency, comfort and cost.

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