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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.]

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

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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

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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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Chevrolet cuts price on Spark EV; with incentives and “bonus cash”, as low as $14,995

April 14, 2015

Chevrolet has lowered the price on the Spark EV 1LT to a new manufacturer’s suggested retail price starting at $25,995, down from $26,820. Depending on an individual’s tax situation, the Spark EV (earlier post) is eligible for federal tax credit up to $7,500.

California and Maryland Spark EV owners may also qualify for a $2,500 California state rebate or $2,300 Maryland excise tax exemption. Additional Chevrolet bonus cash is also available: $1,000 in California, $1,200 in Maryland, and $3,500 in Oregon. After full federal and state tax credits and Chevrolet bonus cash, the Spark EV could be as low as $14,995. Individuals should consult a tax professional prior to claiming any credits to confirm eligibility for tax benefits.

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California Energy Commission awards nearly $9M to 3 projects to support local manufacturing of heavy-duty electric vehicles, PHEVs

April 09, 2015

As part of its approval of more than $83.7 million in grants and loans for 46 projects covering transportation, energy storage, biogas and efficiency programs, the California Energy Commission awarded nearly $9 million to three companies to encourage the manufacturing of heavy-duty electric vehicles and components in California.

The Energy Commission also approved the 2015-2016 Investment Plan Update for its Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP). The program develops and deploys innovative technologies that transform California’s fuel and vehicle types to help attain the state’s climate change goals. The annual Investment Plan Update determines priorities and opportunities for the program, describes how funding will complement existing public and private efforts, and guides funding decisions. Recent legislation extended the ARFVTP until 1 January 2024.

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CEC awards Proterra $3M toward electric bus manufacturing plant; Foothill Transit orders 13 more buses

The California Energy Commission (CEC) awarded a $3-million grant to leading battery-electric bus manufacturer Proterra as one of 46 transportation, energy storage, biogas and efficiency projects receiving a total of $83.7 million in grants and loans. The grant to Proterra will fund the design, development and construction of Proterra’s new battery-electric transit bus manufacturing line in California. The plant will be Proterra’s second after its original plant in Greenville, SC; the company said that its expansion was prompted by the strong growth in market demand for the new Proterra Catalyst electric buses.

Concurrent with the award, Proterra announced that Foothill Transit, the primary public transit provider of the San Gabriel and Pomona valleys in California, has ordered an additional 13 Proterra buses to be delivered in 2016; this is Foothill Transit’s fourth order from Proterra in five years. This latest order is Foothill’s largest order to date, bringing the all-electric fleet to about 30—nearly 10% of the transit agency’s total. Foothill Transit will also become the first customer for Proterra’s new extended-range vehicle, the Proterra Catalyst XR. (Earlier post.)

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Roland Berger: China is the frontrunner in e-mobility subsidies; sales of xEVs double in Q1

April 03, 2015

China is currently subsidizing the development of e-mobility, making just under €7.7 billion (US$8.4 billion) available in the period to 2016, and is the global frontrunner in e-mobility subsidies by far, according to the Q1 2015 E-Mobility Index published by consultancy Roland Berger. The report also found that while Japan increased its subsidies slightly to €171 million (US$187 million) through 2016, most of the major automotive nations have seen the public subsidization of e-mobility decline dramatically. The US and Italy offer the least subsidization.

The index, prepared by Roland Berger and fka experts, compares the relative competitive standings of the top seven automotive nations (Germany, France, Italy, the USA, Japan, China and South Korea) in the electromobility segment. The outcome is based on analysis of three indicators: technology, industry and market.

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U Toronto LCA suggests that with CNG as primary vehicle energy source, EVs best targeted at non-attainment areas

April 01, 2015

A team at the University of Toronto has examined the life cycle air emissions (climate change and human health) impact benefits and life cycle ownership costs of compressed natural gas (CNG) use directly in conventional vehicles (CV) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEV), and natural gas-derived electricity (NG-e) use in plug-in battery electric vehicles (BEV), using a gasoline-fueled conventional vehicle as a reference.

Among their findings, published in a paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, are that policies should for the foreseeable future focus on the niche adoption of plug-in vehicles in non-attainment regions, as CNG vehicles are likely more cost-effective at providing overall life cycle air emissions impact benefits.

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New Fairchild automotive SuperFET II MOSFETs and HV Rectifiers for power electronics in electrified vehicles

Fairchild, a leading global supplier of high-performance power semiconductor solutions, has introduced the automotive-qualified SuperFET II MOSFET and High Voltage Rectifier product families, both of which enable cleaner and smarter vehicles overall and are suited for increasing the power ratings of onboard chargers and DC-to-DC converters used in hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles.

“A chief goal for plug-in hybrid and electric vehicle manufacturers is keeping on-board battery chargers and DC-DC converters as light and small as possible while increasing power levels. With the broad portfolio of new SuperFET II MOSFETs and High Voltage Rectifiers, Fairchild is enabling manufacturers to maximize efficiency, power density and reliability of these units, which is key to reducing their size and weight and is of course in line with the environmental, economic and energy benefits inherent in electric vehicle development,” said Fabio Necco, Director, Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Segment at Fairchild.

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Berkeley Lab/UC Berkeley study shows EV batteries meet daily travel needs of 85%+ of US drivers even after 20% energy capacity fade; calls for new EOL criteria

March 31, 2015

A new study by researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and UC Berkeley shows quantitatively that EV batteries can continue to meet daily travel needs of drivers well beyond the 80% floor for remaining energy storage capacity that is commonly assumed. An open access paper on their work, which applied detailed physics-based models of EVs with data on how drivers use their cars, is published in the Journal of Power Sources.

The study also sheds light on a number of other factors concerning battery use and energy and power fade, including that even EV batteries with substantial energy capacity fade continue to provide sufficient buffer charge for unexpected trips with long distances; that enabling charging in more locations, even if only with 120 V wall outlets, prolongs the useful life of EV batteries; and that EVs meet performance requirements even down to 30% remaining power capacity.

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Millbrook joins APC-funded consortium to develop fuel cell range-extended electric LCVs

March 30, 2015

Millbrook, one of Europe’s leading independent test and technology centers for vehicles and vehicle systems, will join a UK industry consortium to develop a new class of light commercial vehicle (LCV) combining fuel cell technology with battery electric vehicles to provide significantly improved range and rapid refueling. The consortium, led by Intelligent Energy (earlier post), will receive a £6.3-million ($9.3-million) grant from the UK’s Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) for the £12.7-million ($19-million) project. The other partners are Frost Electronics, Frost EV, CENEX, British Gas and DHL.

The three-year project will develop validated systems and vehicle conversion expertise ready for volume manufacture. The goal is also to provide fleet operators with a solution that enables vehicle operation for extended periods while being emissions-free at the tailpipe.

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BASF and Floatility partner on ultra-lightweight solar-powered electric scooter: 12kg e-floater

March 26, 2015

BASF and Floatility have partnered for the development of an ultra-lightweight and solar-powered electric scooter. Weighing less than 12 kilograms (26.5 lbs) and consisting of more than 80% composite and plastic materials from BASF, the scooter will give commuters the sensation of floating and thus has been named ‘e-floater’. The e-floater is designed to bridge the gap on the last mile between home or city center and the nearest public transport.

BASF will provide versatile plastic materials and support the project with its extensive development capabilities. Molding multiple parts to create complex shapes with plastic materials enables design freedom and the streamlined construction of the ‘e-floater’.

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California Energy Commission awards $24.9M to 9 medium- and heavy-duty advanced truck demo projects

March 25, 2015

The California Energy Commissions has selected 9 projects to receive a combined $24,873,512 in proposed funding for cost share in the field demonstration of advanced medium- and heavy-duty on-road vehicle technologies—primarily battery electric and fuel cell technology—that may become commercially available in California. The match amount for the nine projects is $17,212,984. The solicitation (PON-14-605) was under the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP).

Nineteen other projects also passed the screening. However, the Energy Commission started with the highest score and began determining the awards, descending through the list of finalists until the money available (the $24,873,512) ran out. Five applications did not pass. The nine projects receiving funding are:

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XALT Energy in major multi-year contract to supply LTO batteries to HK Group for electric buses in China

XALT Energy (originally founded in 2009 as Dow-Kokam, LLC), a leading developer and manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries, signed a global exclusive agreement with Hybrid Kinetic Group (HK Group) of China for the supply of its Lithium Titanate (LTO) batteries from its manufacturing facilities in Midland, Michigan for all-electric buses in China.

Production is expected to begin during the third quarter of 2015. The multi-year contract, valued at more than $1.0 billion, will create 300 new high-tech and manufacturing jobs in Midland this year. Hiring is underway with 80 positions expected to be filled in April.

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New UK Energy & Fuels 2050 transportation roadmap highlights important role of drop-in fuels and power-to-gas

March 23, 2015

Professor Neville Jackson, Ricardo’s chief technology and innovation officer, presented the results of a research project carried out by the Automotive Council UK to establish a long-term (to 2050) transition from current gasoline and diesel fuels to a majority renewable energy portfolio. Inputs to the new Energy & Fuels Roadmap included recent UK & EU studies on automotive technologies, as well as roadmaps for passenger cars, commercial vehicles and internal combustion engines previously published by the Automotive Cuncil.

The research, presented at last week’s Open Forum organized by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) in London, aimed to create a high level consensus view for the future of transport energy in the UK. Chaired by Professor Jackson of Ricardo, the research team that produced the report was made up of representatives drawn from a wide range of industry stakeholder organizations including BP, Shell, Jaguar LandRover, Caterpillar, the Energy Technologies Institute, the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, E4tech, Element Energy and Associated British Foods.

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Obama orders GHG cuts for Federal Agencies; 50% of all new agency vehicles to be ZEV or PHEV by 2025

March 19, 2015

President Obama today signed a wide-ranging executive order mandating cuts in greenhouse gas emissions for Federal agencies. Through more efficient Federal operations, agency direct greenhouse gas emissions can be cut by at least 40% over the next decade, the order suggests. The order has operational directives for building and fleet management, electricity generation, water use, waste management and purchasing.

As an initial outcome, within 90 days the head of each agency sis to propose to the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) percentage reduction targets for agency-wide reductions of scope 1 and 2 and scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions in absolute terms by the end of fiscal year 2025 relative to a fiscal year 2008 baseline.

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Ford’s Go!Drive car sharing on-demand experiment in London entering beta phase

FordSmartMobility-CityDrivingOnDemand_15
Ford’s Go!Drive on-demand car sharing experiment apps allows users to register, select a vehicle and pay through a mobile app. Click to enlarge.

Ford’s Go!Drive car sharing on-demand experiment in London is entering its beta phase, which will entail ramping up the fleet from 20 to 50 units and beginning to look at different elements of customer access around car sharing, including pricing and incentives in terms of how the car sharing model and operate smoothly and efficiently, according to Alicia Agius, product innovation manager of Ford Europe.

Go!Drive was originally announced as “City Driving On-Demand” and is one of the original set of 25 Smart Mobility experiments announced by Ford CEO Mark Fields at CES in January. (Earlier post.) While there are many car-sharing services based on the reservation model, the focus of this experiment is on-demand use, as well as gaining understanding about EV preference—half of the Go!Drive fleet is Focus Electrics, the other half Ford Fiestas with EcoBoost engines. Go!Drive provides guaranteed parking and one-way rentals; there is no membership fee and the cost is 17p/min ($.26/min). The target is to have more than 2,000 Londoners in the program.

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Audi to have a plug-in hybrid in every model series; new BEV in 2018

March 11, 2015

Audi will have a plug-in hybrid in every model series in the coming years as part of its efforts in efficiency and sustainability, said Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management at Audi AG for Technical Development, during his speech at Audi’s Annual Press Conference in Ingolstadt.

Plug-in hybrids, natural gas vehicles and battery-electric drive systems will have a key role to play in achieving CO2 targets, Hackenberg said. Audi already launched the A3 e-tron plug-in hybrid (earlier post) and the Audi A3 g-tron (earlier post) on the market in 2014. Both of these already have siblings: the Audi Q7 e-tron plug-in hybrid (earlier post) and a future Audi A4 g-tron based on the second generation of the modular longitudinal platform (MLB 2).

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

March 10, 2015

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

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

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German project exploring integration of electromobility with transport services

March 09, 2015

A project funded by the German government—“BiE – Bewertung integrierter Elektromobilität” (evaluation of integrated electromobility)—is exploring how mobility services (such as public transport services and car sharing) can be integrated better with electric vehicles and into the everyday life of users. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding BiE with €2 million (US$2.2 million) under the federal program “Electric Mobility”. BiE is part of the “Cluster Electric Mobility South-West”. The joint project is coordinated by cantamen GmbH, a provider of IT solutions for fleets and carsharing.

The BiE project focuses on concepts for the seamless cooperation of various mobility service providers as well as on the optimized planning of larger, electrically driven car sharing fleets. The paramount project goal is to design an evaluation system for the integration of electric mobility into everyday life. Based on characteristics, the project tools will make specific calculations regarding the use of electric mobility in various areas.

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Renault boosts ZOE EV’s range by almost 15% to 149 miles with new motor unit

March 04, 2015

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The new R240 motor unit with integrated PEC. Click to enlarge.

Renault has extended the range of its battery-electric ZOE to 149 miles (240 kilometers)—a boost of 19 miles (31 km), or 14.6%—in the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) by using a new lighter and more compact R240 electric motor and an optimized electronic management system. (Earlier post.)

The R240 is a synchronous electric motor with rotor coil, with a power output of 65 kW and torque of 220 N·m (162 lb-ft). It also features a built-in Chameleon charger (earlier post) which allows faster charging at home (3 kW and 11 kW). The R240 is an all-Renault motor, designed by Renault engineers at the Technocentre R&D facility outside Paris and at the Cléon plant where the motor is made—close to Flins, where the ZOE is produced.

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Nissan launches 7-seat version of the electric e-NV200 van

Due to growing requests from companies and fleets alike, Nissan hasadvanced the introduction of the latest iteration in its electric vehicle line-up—a seven-seat version of the all-electric e-NV200 van, and launched it at the Geneva Motor Show. (Earlier post.)

The e-NV200’s electric drivetrain, based on that used in the LEAF, is combined with the cargo volume of the NV200 to create a practical and versatile vehicle capable of carrying people or goods. Since the inception of the e-NV200, a seven-seat version of the electric van has always been part of Nissan’s plans, fulfilling an unmet need for an electric vehicle that can move a larger number of people.

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Volkswagen Group invested €11.5B (US$12.9B) in R&D in 2014; ongoing focus on electromobility and digitalization of vehicles

March 02, 2015

The Volkswagen Group invested €11.5 billion in research and development last year, more than ever before and more than any other company worldwide. Speaking on the eve of the Geneva International Motor Show, Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, underscored the Group’s increasingly aggressive R&D stance: “Volkswagen is an innovation think tank. We develop technologies that point the way well into the future.

According to Winterkorn, the company now employs 46,000 researchers and developers as well as more than 10,000 IT experts, all of whom are working on the mobility of the future such as alternative drive concepts or the digitalization of vehicles and factories. He went on to say that the car manufacturer is positioning itself at the forefront of automotive change with its forward-looking “Future Tracks” program. (Earlier post.)

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Ford expands Smart Mobility projects with connected e-bike study

Ford Motor Company is expanding its global Ford Smart Mobility plan (earlier post) with a new experiment to study how connected electric bicycles can work seamlessly with cars and public transport to deliver faster and easier daily commutes and help businesses operating in urban centers.

Ford detailed the new experiment called Handle on Mobility at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Ford Smart Mobility is the company’s plan to help change the way the world moves through innovation in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience and big data. These experiments will help test transportation ideas for better customer experiences, more flexible user-ship models and social collaboration that can reward customers.

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Lux Research: the $40,000, 200-mile-range EV is the biggest coming growth opportunity for energy storage in transportation

Analysis by Lux Research suggests that the market space represented by the emerging lower-cost, 200-mile-range EV will be the biggest coming growth opportunity in electric storage for transportation. By 2020, this new EV battleground should account for $5 billion or more in Li-ion battery sales, because it combines larger packs (around 50 kWh) with more sales (hundreds of thousands of vehicles).

According to Lux Research’s Automotive Battery Tracker, in 2014 EVs used $2.1-billion worth of energy storage. While selling in similar volumes, plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) used three times less batteries: about $0.7 billion worth. Despite selling about 1.5 million units in 2014, an order of magnitude more than the 140,000 EVs that consumers bought in 2014, HEVs also used just $0.7-billion worth of energy storage in 2014.

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TM4 receiving $3.7M to develop low-cost wheel motors

February 28, 2015

TM4, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hydro-Québec, is receiving $3.7 million in funding from Sustainable Development Technology Canada’s (SDTC) SD Tech Fund, through the ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative, to develop low-cost wheel motors for electric and hybrid vehicles.

The objective of this project is to design an in-wheel motor electric drive system with one of the highest power densities in the world, and at the lowest possible cost. This system will consist of one or more power converters and electric machines, to be assembled and bench tested, and then tested on the road in an electric vehicle.

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Cal Energy Commission adopts report outlining how state transforming transportation system to meet climate goals

February 26, 2015

The California Energy Commission adopted its 2014 Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) Update, which outlines, among many things, how the state is working to transform the transportation system to zero- and near-zero technologies and fuels to meet its climate and clean air goals. This report highlights the importance of incentives in helping speed this transition and specifically explores the role Assembly Bill 8, which makes more than $2 billion available for public investment, can play in helping to achieve this progress.

The Energy Commission also approved almost $16 million in research grants to help develop the next generation of energy efficient technologies for commercial and residential buildings; $11 million for projects to convert feedstock and waste into biofuels; and about $900,000 for natural gas innovations.

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Audi to offer new R8 e-tron EV on request; almost 2x pack capacity, 280-mile range with new Li-ion technology (update 1)

Audi is presenting the second generation of its high-performance R8 sports car at the upcoming Geneva show, featuring new V10 engines, newly developed quattro drive, and a new multimaterial Audi Space Frame (ASF) combining aluminum and carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). The top of the range version delivers 449 kW (610 hp), achieving 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 3.2 seconds, with a top speed of 330 km/h (205.1 mph).

The second generation of the Audi R8 also forms the basis for two more models, including a high-performance battery-electric version, the R8 e-tron 2.0. This latest evolution of the vehicle takes up the multimaterial Audi Space Frame from the new series-production model. The new R8 e-tron, which will be available for order in 2015 upon customer request, uses a newly developed high energy density lithium-ion technology which was specially conceived for a purely electric vehicle drive. In comparison to the first technology platform (earlier post), the battery capacity has grown from 49 kWh to approximately 92 kWh—without changing the package.

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Mitsubishi Motors to unveil new small crossover PHEV concept at Geneva; headed for production

February 25, 2015

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) will stage the global debut of the Mitsubishi Concept XR-PHEV II at the 85th Geneva International Motor Show. The Concept XR-PHEV II is a small crossover powered by a new plug-in hybrid EV (PHEV) system. Mitsubishi said it expects the Concept XR-PHEV II to become MMC’s second production PHEV following the Outlander PHEV launched in January 2013. (Earlier post.) (The Outlander PHEV was Europe’s top-selling plug-in vehicle in 2014, with 19,980 units sold.)

The new PHEV system presented in the Concept XR-PHEV II is a lightweight, compact and high-efficiency front-engine/front-drive system suited for an urban crossover. The system is estimated to achieve very low CO2 emissions of below 40 g/km, while also delivering performance and response with its 120 kW electric motor.

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French Post Office and Renault Trucks testing electric truck with fuel cell range extender

February 24, 2015

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Maxity Electric with fuel cell range extender. Click to enlarge.

Renault Trucks and the French Post Office (La Poste) will introduce on an experimental basis, and as a first in Europe, an electric truck equipped with a hydrogen-powered range extender. The range-extended 4.5-ton Maxity Electric model doubles th electric truck range to 200 kilometers (124 miles) and will be tested for one year under actual operating conditions in the city Dole (Jura Department), allowing Renault Trucks to explore all potential avenues of hydrogen technology under actual operating conditions.

For La Poste, which at present owns the world's largest fleet of electric vehicles, this experiment is part of a continuous effort underway to extend the range of its fleet. For nearly a year, in the Franche-Comté Region, the Post Office has been testing, during carriers’ collection and distribution of mail and packages, Renault Kangoo Z.E. mail delivery vehicles with fuel cell range extenders. (Earlier post.)

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SDG&E piloting integration of EVs and energy storage systems into CAISO energy markets for demand response services

In a pilot vehicle-to-grid project, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is actively bidding a group of energy storage systems and electric vehicle fleets as one resource directly into the California Independent System Operator’s (CAISO) energy markets. These markets include those that address short-term imbalances in electricity supply caused by such things as intermittent renewable energy. This marks SDG&E as one of the first utilities to integrate EVs into California’s wholesale energy market.

The project currently aggregates stationary storage systems together with the charging demand of EV fleets at five separate locations throughout San Diego County. The assets are remotely controlled using software that both balances the participant’s charging needs, and identifies opportunities to provide demand response services at the grid level.

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

February 23, 2015

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

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

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Libertine LPE free piston technology targeting power generation, waste-heat recovery and range-extended EV applications; feasibility study with PETRONAS

February 19, 2015

UK startup Libertine LPE has developed a free piston linear power generator technology that it says overcomes the key challenges faced by earlier free piston engine schemes of motion control, emissions and power conversion efficiency. The company, which on 16 Feb won the €20,000 (US$22,800) Climate-KIC cash prize at this year’s Cleantech Innovate, will be presenting its Linear Power Systems technology to investors at CleanEquity Monaco from 5-6 March.

A number of groups have recently or are currently investigating the use of free piston engine power generation applications with a focus on automotive, including work at West Virginia University (WVU), Sandia National Laboratory (SNL), Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden), and Shanghai Jiaotong University. (Earlier post.) At the SAE 2014 World Congress, a team from Toyota Central R&D Labs presented their own work on a prototype 10 kW Free Piston Engine Linear Generator (FPEG) featuring a thin and compact build, high efficiency and high fuel flexibility. Toyota envisions that a pair of such units (20 kW) would enable B/C-segment electric drive vehicles to cruise at 120 km/h (75 mph). (Earlier post.)

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CMU team finds regional temperature differences have significant impact on EV efficiency, range and emissions

February 18, 2015

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Energy consumption per mile averaged across the LEAF fleet over a full year (Wh/mi). Credit: ACS, Yuksel and Michalek. Click to enlarge.

An adage about batteries is that they are like humans in performing best at moderate (e.g., room) temperatures; extremes in either direction impact performance. Thus, the efficiency of battery electric vehicles can vary with ambient temperature due to battery performance—as well as the energy required for cabin climate control.

In a new paper accepted for publication in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, Tugce Yuksel and Jeremy Michalek at Carnegie Mellon University have now characterized the effect of regional temperature differences on EV efficiency, range, and use-phase CO2 emissions in the US, based on aggregated real-world fleet data for the Nissan LEAF. Among their findings is that the resulting regional differences in efficiency, range and emissions are large enough to affect adoption patterns and the energy and environmental implications of battery EVs relative to alternatives.

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Mitsubishi introduces Concept GC-PHEV SUV to North America

February 13, 2015

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Concept GC-PHEV. Click to enlarge.

Mitsubishi staged the North American debut of its Concept GC-PHEV (“Grand Cruiser”)—a next-generation full-size crossover plug-in hybrid. (Earlier post.) The Concept GC-PHEV features a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 gasoline engine paired with a high-output electric motor; 12 kWh lithium-ion battery; 8-speed automatic transmission; and Mitsubishi Motors’ advanced full-time Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) all-wheel drive. The PHEV drivetrain offers high performance (335 bhp/250 kW) combined with excellent fuel economy.

For additional power optimization with reduced exhaust emissions, the 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 engine benefits from the latest iteration of Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control (MIVEC) variable valve timing.

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Chevrolet will produce Bolt EV; ~200 mi of range

February 12, 2015

Chevrolet confirmed production of a next-generation battery-electric vehicle based on the Bolt EV concept introduced last month at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. (Earlier post.) Leveraging the technology found in the Chevrolet Volt and Spark EV, the Bolt EV concept was developed as a longer-range BEV for all 50 states, designed to offer more than a GM-estimated 200 miles (322 km) of range at a target price of around $30,000. The production car will be built at General Motors’ Orion Assembly facility near Detroit.

GM North America President Alan Batey made the announcement ahead of the Chicago Auto Show.

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Tesla delivers mixed results with 4Q and full 2014 report

In its Q4 and full 2014 release on Wednesday, Tesla Motors reported mixed results. The company built 11,627 vehicles in Q4, achieving its production target of 35,000 Model S vehicles in 2014. However, deliveries slipped by about 1,400 vehicles due to a variety of factors.

In 2014, about 55% of new Model S vehicles were delivered into North America. While North American Model S orders grew year-on-year, deliveries were about flat as vehicles flowed into Asia/Pacific (APAC) markets to support the first year of deliveries there. The APAC region represented about 15% of Tesla deliveries for the year, and the remaining 30% of deliveries were to Europe, where delivery volume more than doubled from a year ago.

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nanoFLOWCELL to present new QUANT F flow cell EV at Geneva

February 11, 2015

Liechtenstein-based R&D company nanoFLOWCELL will present its new QUANT F electric vehicle at the upcoming Geneva show; the QUANT F is a further development of the QUANT E from 2014, the first automobile with flow cell drive to be approved by the German TÜV technical inspection authority. (Earlier post.)

The nanoFlowcell (a flow battery) is operated with two ionic fluids, one with a positive charge and one with a negative charge, said Chief Technical Officer Nunzio La Vecchia. With a total tank capacity of 500 liters—2x 250 liters in two tanks accommodated separately in the QUANT’s substructure—the QUANT F has a projected range of 800 km (497 miles)—a 30% increase in comparison to the QUANT E from 2014.

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Bosch, BMW and Vattenfall launch Second Life Batteries alliance for reuse of EV batteries

Bosch is cooperating with BMW and Vattenfall to explore second-life applications for EV batteries. The partners have launched the Second Life Batteries alliance and are interconnecting used batteries from electric vehicles to form a large-scale energy storage system in Hamburg. BMW and Vattenfall has announced the start of a research project on such second-life uses in 2013. (Earlier post.)

The current plans call for the construction of a storage unit with an output of two megawatts (MW) and an installed capacity of two megawatt hours (MWh) in Hamburg. The energy will be fed into the energy balancing market to balance out short-term fluctuations in the power grid. More than 100 vehicle batteries will be interconnected to achieve these targets.

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Volkswagen of America to invest $10M in EV charging infrastructure by 2016; calls for more legislative support to spur EV adoption

February 10, 2015

Volkswagen of America will invest $10 million by 2016 to support the build-out of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the US, said Jörg Sommer, vice president, product marketing and strategy. At the same time, Sommer said in his presentation at the 2015 Electric Drive Congress in Washington DC, continued legislative support is needed to reach the next level of electric vehicle adoption.

In January, Volkswagen of America and BMW of North America, together with ChargePoint, announced an initiative to create more express charging corridors along heavily-traveled routes on the East and West Coasts; specifically to install nearly 100 DC Fast Chargers across both coasts aiming to have charging sites no more than 50 miles apart. (Earlier post.) This program is one component of the $10-million commitment Volkswagen is making to support the build-out of the electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

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PG&E proposes major build-out of 25,000 electric vehicle charging stations in California

February 09, 2015

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has filed an application with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for permission to build an estimated 25,000 electric vehicle (EV) chargers at sites across its service area in Northern and Central California—8 times the number currently installed. If approved, this program would be the largest deployment of EV charging stations in the country, PG&E said.

The cost of the plan would be shared by all electric customers as a contribution to helping the state meet its clean air and climate goals. The total impact on system average bundled rates would be minimal in 2016 and 2017 and would average only a tenth of a cent per kilowatt-hour over the next five years of the program. A typical residential customer would pay about 70 cents more per month over the period 2018 to 2022, according to PG&E.

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FTA awarding $55M to 10 projects deploying battery-electric and fuel-cell buses

February 06, 2015

The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has selected 10 projects that will receive a share of $55 million in competitive grants that will help put a new generation of zero-emission buses on the road. Funding is provided through FTA’s Low or No Emission Vehicle Deployment Program (LoNo). (Earlier post.)

Established under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), the LoNo program focuses on deploying the cleanest and most energy-efficient US-made transit buses designed to cut CO2 and criteria pollutant emissions. Grants from the LoNo program help transit agencies integrate more of these advanced buses into their fleets. The selected projects are:

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Bosch CEO: 15% of new cars by 2025 to be at least a hybrid; batteries to deliver 2x energy density for 1/2 current cost by 2020

February 04, 2015

Speaking at the 15th CAR Symposium in Bochum, Germany, Dr. Volkmar Denner, chairman of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH, said that that Bosch expects roughly 15% of all new cars built worldwide to have at least a hybrid powertrain by 2025. Denner, whose responsibilities on the board of management include research and advanced development, believes that by 2020 batteries will deliver twice as much energy density for half the present cost.

The EU has set strict fleet CO2 targets for 2021. For this reason alone, Bosch expects hybrid powertrains to become the standard for SUVs. This will give diesel and gasoline engines an extra boost.

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President’s 2016 Budget requests $29.9B for DOE; 9% boost over FY 2015 enacted; $793M (2.7%) for sustainable transportation

February 03, 2015

President Barack Obama’s 2016 Budget requests $29.9 billion for the US Department of Energy (DOE). The FY 2016 DOE Budget Request represents a 9% increase ($2.5 billion) above the FY 2015 enacted level.

42% of the DOE Budget Request ($12.6 billion) is for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), an increase of $1.2 billion over the FY 2015 Enacted level, to maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear weapons stockpile in the absence of nuclear testing and manage the research, development, and production activities and associated infrastructure maintenance and modernization needed to meet national nuclear security requirements.

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ESKAM finishing electric drive axle module for commercial vehicles, new production technologies; vehicle testing this year

February 02, 2015

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Electric drive axle module with two motors and integrated power electronics. Groschopp AG. Click to enlarge.

The ESKAM (Electric Scalable Axle Module, Elektrische SKalierbare AchsantriebsModule) consortium in Germany, sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), is completing the development of an optimized electric drive axle module for commercial vehicles, consisting of two motors, transmissions and power electronics. All components fit neatly and compactly into a shared housing, which is fitted in the vehicle using a special frame construction also developed by the project engineers.

The individual modules developed by the various partners are complete, as are new manufacturing techniques developed by the partners. The consortium is now putting the individual parts together to make a demonstrator. After that, they want to fit the axle module into a real vehicle for testing by the end of 2015.

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Lux Research: despite cheap oil, niche plug-in vehicle sales will be resilient; conventional hybrids to be hardest hit

The current plunge in oil prices will likely negatively affect plug-in and hybrid vehicle sales in the short term; automakers such as BMW are already warning of lower sales of plug-in vehicles given the market context. However, an analysis by Lux Research suggests that despite some decrease in sales, sales of plug-in vehicles will likely be resilient, and rebound as oil prices rise back to the prior higher levels over time.

In the likely case of only a gradual return to previous higher prices—which Lux calls the “cheap oil” scenario in its analysis—then electric vehicle (EV) sales will dip by 20% for a number of years, while plug-in hybrid (PHEV) sales will dip by about 14% during that same period, the research firm found. The forecast declines are relative to the other forecasted scenario, in which oil prices rebound much more quickly—the “stable oil” scenario.

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Navigant forecasts 29.3% CAGR growth for electric-drive and electric-assisted commercial vehicles to nearly 160K units in 2023

January 28, 2015

In a new report, Navigant Research forecasts that global sales of electric drive and electric-assisted medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles (MHDV, Classes 3 to 8) will grow from less than 16,000 in 2014 to nearly 160,000 in 2023, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 29.3%. Powertrain type included in the report are hybrid-electric, plug-in hybrid electric, and battery electric. Onboard energy storage can be achieved via batteries, ultracapacitors, or a combination of both.

The medium and heavy duty vehicle (MHDV) market includes all highway-capable vehicles in excess of 10,000 lbs (4,536 kg) gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). Navigant Research defines medium duty (MD) vehicles as between 10,000 lbs and 26,000 lbs (11,793 kg) and heavy duty (HD) vehicles as greater than 26,000 lbs.

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BYD unveils battery-electric over-the-road coach bus; two more models to launch this year

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The C9. Click to enlarge.

BYD Motors Inc. unveiled the first long range, 100% battery-electric over-the-road coach bus (as opposed to a city transit bus) at the United Motorcoach Association Expo in New Orleans. This first electric coach—the BYD C9—is a two-axle, 40' coach with the seating capacity to carry 47 people at highway speed for more than 190 miles.

The BYD C9 is the first of three battery-electric coaches the company will launch globally this year. The other two, a 45' three-axle coach named the C10 and a 23' coach with executive and transport configurations named the C6 will be arriving by the end of 2015. BYD is taking orders for all three of the coaches starting now.

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E3 study finds low-carbon gas fuels option for meeting Calif GHG reduction goals

A new study by Energy Environmental Economics (E3) consulting suggests that low-carbon gas fuels are a viable option for meeting California’s greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals and can simultaneously help achieve pollution emission reduction targets.

Low-carbon gas fuels or “decarbonized gas” refers to gaseous fuels with a net-zero, or very low, greenhouse gas impact on the climate. These include fuels such as biogas, hydrogen and renewable synthetic gases produced with low lifecycle GHG emission approaches.

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Study finds vertical force of in-wheel switched reluctance motors deteriorates vehicle stability and comfort

January 27, 2015

In a study investigating switched reluctance motors (SRMs) for in-wheel motor applications, researchers at Chongqing University in China have found that the vertical component of the residual unbalanced radial force of the motor deteriorates the lateral and anti-rollover stabilities of the vehicle in addition to having a considerable impact on vehicle comfort. (The unbalanced radial force is the radial force difference between a pair of opposite stator poles.)

In their paper, published in the Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part D: Journal of Automobile Engineering, they suggest that a control method addressing these issues will be needed if SRMs are to see use in in-wheel applications. In an earlier paper, members of the team had proposed the use of an FxLMS (filtered-X least mean square) controller based on active suspension system to generate controllable force to suppress the vibration caused by SRM vertical force. In that paper, they found that utilizing active suspensions could reduce the effect of SRM vertical force on suspension performance.

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DOE to award $55.8M for advanced vehicle technologies; $35M for fuel cell and hydrogen

January 22, 2015

US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced a new Vehicle Technologie program-wide funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0001201) for $55.8 million. DOE also announced up to $35 million to advance fuel cell and hydrogen technologies, including enabling the early adoption of fuel cell applications, such as light duty fuel cell electric vehicles. This new funding opportunity announcement will be available in early February.

The Vehicle Technologies funding is targeted at a wide range of research, development, and demonstration projects that aim to reduce the price and improve the efficiency of plug-in electric, alternative fuel, and conventional vehicles. Topics addressed include: advanced batteries (including manufacturing processes) and electric drive R&D; Lightweight materials; Advanced combustion engine and enabling technologies R&D; and Fuels technologies (dedicated or dual-fuel natural gas engine technologies).

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VW, BMW and ChargePoint partner to create SAE Combo DC fast charging corridors on the East and West Coasts

In a major boost to the availability of public fast charging stations with SAE Combo connectors (J1772, earlier post), Volkswagen of America and BMW of North America, together with ChargePoint, the largest electric vehicle charging network, announced at the Washington Auto Show an initiative to create more express charging corridors along heavily-traveled routes on the East and West Coasts.

In the initial phase, the aim is to install nearly 100 DC Fast charging ports across both coasts, with plans to expand the program to increase access to fast charging across the country. The installations will occur both within and between relevant metro areas, strategically spaced at a maximum of 50 miles (80 km) apart. Each fast charging location along the express charging corridors is expected to include up to two 50 kW DC fast chargers or 24 kW DC fast chargers with the SAE Combo connector. The 50 kW fast chargers will also have a CHAdeMO connector available, according to Volkswagen, while the 24 kW units will be SAE Combo only, at least to start.

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UQM Technologies granted patent on permanent magnet electric motor design using non-rare earth magnets

January 20, 2015

UQM Technologies Inc. has been granted a US patent (8,928,198, “Brushless PM machine construction enabling low coercivity magnets”) for an electric and hybrid electric vehicle motor design using non-rare earth magnets. The patent covers the unique magnet geometry and the method of manufacturing the motor.

The majority of electric and hybrid electric vehicles produced today use permanent magnet (PM) motors with rare-earth magnet materials because of the high coercivity of the rare earth materials. Coercivity is a measure of the reverse field needed to drive magnetization to zero after being saturated—i.e., it is a measure of the resistance to demagnetization. The new UQM design enables the use of low coercivity magnets, such as Aluminum Nickel Cobalt (AlNiCo) or Iron Cobalt Tungsten (FeCoW), in PM machines.

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Nissan LEAF is best-selling electric car in Europe for fourth year in a row; 26% market share

January 19, 2015

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European 2014 EV marketshare of top 5 OEMs. Data: Nissan. Click to enlarge.

The battery-electric Nissan LEAF has topped its own European sales record with a 33% increase in European sales in 2014 over the previous year, taking 26% of the burgeoning electric car market with 14,658 sales out of a total 56,393, according to figures from Nissan. Nissan and its partner Renault together accounted for a full 46% of the EV market in Europe in 2014.

This year the Nissan LEAF has been joined by an number of new entrants into the EV market and still emerged as the leader on a global, US and European basis. 2014 was the fourth year in a row that the electric family car has topped the electric vehicle sales charts in Europe.

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California approves another $18M for clean energy projects; $12M for alternative vehicles

January 15, 2015

The California Energy Commission approved nearly $18 million to fund projects that will help the state meet its climate and energy goals. Twelve million dollars will go toward three alternative fuel projects, $4 million will help fund two geothermal projects and $3.5 million will help fund local energy efficiency projects.

The three alternative fuels projects will receive funding through the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP), which supports technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on petroleum-based fuels. Recipients include:

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Honda brings FCV Concept to N. America, promises new EV and PHEV models by 2018

January 13, 2015

Honda staged the North American debut of the Honda FCV fuel cell vehicle at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS); the company also announced US availability for the FCV in 2016. (Earlier post.)

Honda also used the venue to announce that it will offer several next-generation, advanced powertrain vehicles, including a new battery-electric model and plug-in hybrid model by 2018. Additionally, Honda said it plans further application of its two- and three-motor hybrid systems in the years to come. Honda also announced plans to introduce new VTEC Turbo engines to be built in Ohio and debut later in 2015.

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Chevrolet unveils Bolt EV Concept; 200+ electric miles for ~$30,000

January 12, 2015

At the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), Chevrolet introduced the Bolt EV concept crossover—a vision for an affordable, long-range all-electric vehicle designed to offer more than 200 miles of range starting around $30,000. The Bolt EV concept is designed to offer long-range performance in all 50 states and many global markets.

Drivers will be able to select operating modes designed around preferred driving styles such as daily commuting and spirited weekend cruising. The modes adjust accelerator pedal mapping, vehicle ride height and suspension tuning. The Bolt EV concept is also designed to support DC fast charging.

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Next-gen Chevy Volt EREV is more efficient, with 50-mile electric range

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The new Chevy Volt has a decidedly more sculpted look than its predecessor. Click to enlarge.

Chevrolet unveiled the second-generation Volt extended range EV at the North American International Auto Show. With a sportier design and an entirely new drive system (earlier post), the 2016 Volt electric car features a higher capacity battery pack and 50 miles of all-electric range (MY 2015 = 38 miles); greater efficiency; and stronger acceleration. GM estimates fuel economy to be 41 mpg combined (MY 2015 = 37 mpg) with 102 mpge (MY 2015 = 98 mpge). The 2016 Volt goes on sale in the second half of 2015.

The new propulsion system will offer a General Motors’-estimated total driving range of some 420 miles and with regular charging, owners are expected to travel more than 1,000 miles on average between gas fill-ups. Currently, drivers of the first-generation Volt are averaging more than 900 miles between fill-ups. Put another way, drivers of the first gen Volt drive electric about 80% of the time, said Andrew Farah, chief vehicle engineer for both generations of the Volt. Farah suggested that the new Volt may be able to boost that figure to nearly 90% in moderate climates.

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

January 09, 2015

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

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

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

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ARPA-E issues $125M open solicitation for energy R&D; transportation and stationary applications

January 07, 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) has issued a $125-million open Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA). OPEN 2015 (DOE-FOA-0001261) will support the development of potentially disruptive new technologies in all areas of energy research and development, for both transportation and stationary applications.

OPEN 2015 is the third open funding solicitation issued by the agency. Open solicitations ensure that ARPA-E does not miss opportunities to support potentially transformational projects outside the scope of existing ARPA-E programs. The projects selected under OPEN 2015 will pursue novel approaches to energy innovation and support the development of potentially disruptive new technologies across the full spectrum of energy applications.

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BMW i ChargeForward Program to demo contribution of intelligent EV charging to grid efficiency

January 05, 2015

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, BMW announced the BMW i ChargeForward Program—a pilot study to be undertaken by the BMW Group Technology Office, together with Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E). Working with a select group of BMW i3 drivers, BMW i ChargeForward will demonstrate how intelligent management of electric vehicle charging can contribute to improved electric power grid efficiency while reducing total cost of electric vehicle ownership.

BMW i ChargeForward is designed to explore how to better match the impact of electric vehicles with other dynamic energy supply and demand sources. The study has two parts, a managed charge pilot program involving BMW i3 owners and a battery second life energy storage system. In the managed charge pilot program, select BMW i3 owners will allow PG&E to request a delay in the charging of their vehicles by up to an hour, when grid loads are at their peak. The program also includes a “second life” for used MINI E batteries, by repurposing these batteries into a stationary solar-powered electric storage system located at the BMW Technology Office in Mountain View, California.

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

December 21, 2014

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

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

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

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Tesla to begin piloting battery pack swap program for invited Model S owners

December 20, 2014

Starting next week, Tesla Motors will pilot a battery pack swap program with invited Model S owners. The selected owners will have the opportunity to swap their car’s battery at a custom-built facility located across the street from the Tesla Superchargers at Harris Ranch, CA. Tesla intends the pilot program to test the technology and to assess demand.

The Harris Ranch Superchargers sit off the I-5, the interstate highway connecting Los Angeles (and San Diego) with the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento in the north. Harris Ranch is roughly equidistant from Sacramento (~187 miles); San Francisco (~183 miles); and LA (~199 miles).

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Washington governor proposes slate of measures to curb GHG emissions & transition state to cleaner energy; cap-and-trade and EV incentives

December 17, 2014

Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced a set of proposals to transition Washington to cleaner sources of energy and to meet greenhouse gas (GHG) emission limits adopted by the state Legislature in 2008. The proposals build on a comprehensive executive order issued by the governor in April.

Cap-and-trade. The proposed “Carbon Pollution Accountability Act” (CPAA) would create a new, market-based program that sets an annual limit CO2 emissions; major emitters will need to purchase “allowances” for their emissions. Each year, the number of available allowances will decline to ensure emissions are gradually reduced. The Governor’s office projects that the program will generate about $1 billion in the first year, and more thereafter, which will be used for transportation, education, tax relief for working families and other purposes.

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Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive reduces lifecycle CO2 emissions by as much as 64% compared to B 180 gasoline model

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CO2 emissions of the B-Class Electric Drive compared with the B 180 gasoline-engine variant [t/car]. Click to enlarge.

The Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive (earlier post) delivers up to 64% lower CO2 emissions than the equivalent B 180 gasoline model (when charged with hydroelectricity), according to Mercedes-Benz and TÜV Süd. The 132 kW B Class Electric Drive has a range of some 200 km (124 miles). TÜV Süd has awarded the electric-drive Sports Tourer the environmental certificate in accordance with ISO standard TR 14062 based on a comprehensive life-cycle assessment of the B-Class Electric Drive.

Over its entire life cycle, comprising production, use over 160,000 kilometers (99,419 miles) and recycling, the B-Class Electric Drive produces emissions of CO2 that are 24% (7.2 tonnes – EU electricity mix) or 64% (19 tonnes – hydroelectricity) lower than those of the B 180, despite the higher emissions generated during the production process.

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Scania to test wirelessly charged plug-in hybrid city bus for the first time in Sweden

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Starting June 2016 a prototype for a new Scania plug-in hybrid bus (based on Scania Citywide Low Entry) will go into daily operation in Södertälje. Click to enlarge.

Scania is undertaking intensive research into various types of electrification technologies that could replace or complement combustion engines. Inductive charging is among the options the company is exploring and would enable vehicles wirelessly to recharge their batteries via electrified roads.

Now, for the first time in Sweden, Scania and the Stockholm based Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) plan to test the wireless charging technology in real-life conditions. Starting June 2016, a prototype for a new Scania plug-in hybrid bus (based on Scania Citywide Low Entry) will go into daily operation in Södertälje as part of a research project into sustainable vehicle technology.

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ABB-led consortium launches $10.5M project to install fast chargers along key European highways

December 16, 2014

A 5-partner consortium led by ABB has launched a €8.4-million (US$10.5-million) project, co-funded 50% by the European Union, to install a corridor of high-quality fast chargers along key European motorways until the end of 2015. In addition to ABB, the consortium includes the Dutch e-mobility operator and retailer Fastned B.V.; the Danish e-mobility operator CLEVER A/S; the Swedish public utility and e-mobility operator Öresundskraft AB; and the German Testing and Certification Institute VDE Prüf-und Zertifizierungsinstitut GmbH.

The aim of the ELECTRIC project is to create an open-access fast-charging corridor situated along major motorways connecting Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands via a total of 155 chargers, with up to 30 in the Netherlands, 23 in Denmark, 35 in Sweden and 67 in Germany.

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Renault & partners show research prototypes: 2-cyl. 2-stroke diesel, 48V mild-hybrid diesel, delivery EV

December 13, 2014

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POWERFUL two-cylinder, two-stroke diesel. Click to enlarge.

At its recent Innovations@Renault event, the France-based automaker presented three research prototypes developed in tandem with its partners as cooperative projects: a mild-hybrid diesel produced as part of the HYDIVU (Hybrid Diesel for LCVs); a two-cylinder, two-stroke diesel from the POWERFUL (POWERtrain for FUture Light-duty vehicles) project (earlier post); and an electric light commercial van developed as part of the du VELUD (Electric Vehicle for Sustainable Urban Logistics) project.

HYDIVU is a 48V mild-hybrid diesel solution to bring down consumption and emissions in LCVs. The objective of this project is to reduce the consumption of LCVs for business customers who travel long distances. Developed on the base of the Renault Master, this prototype is fitted with a powertrain that integrates an electric motor (mild hybridization), Twin-turbo technology and a downspeeding design. The combination of these three technologies results in a in a fuel consumption saving of up to 10% when used over long distances.

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DOE issues FY 2015 SBIR/STTR Release 2 funding opportunity, including hydrogen fuel cells, electric drive batteries

December 09, 2014

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued its FY 2015 Phase I Release 2 Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0001227) for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs. Technical topics for this FOA—which span the range of DOE interests from fossil to nuclear to renewable and low-carbon energies—include two hydrogen- and fuel-cell-related topics: fuel cell-battery electric hybrid trucks and in-line quality control devices for polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells.

Also included are electric drive vehicle batteries, power electronics, on-board reformers, and advanced crank and ignition mechanisms for combustion engines.

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Oerlikon Graziano showcasing hybrid and electric transmission systems at CTI; new 2-speed AMT

December 05, 2014

Transmission specialist Oerlikon Graziano is showcasing its range of hybrid and electric transmission systems, including the OGeco torque infill unit that integrates a 6-speed automated manual with a 120 kW electric motor through a 2-speed epicyclic transmission, as well as a new 2-speed automated manual drive system, at the the 2014 CTI Symposium and Transmission Expo in Berlin next week.

The OGeco unit provides torque infill, electric boost, regeneration, electric drive and engine cranking. A prototype unit has been installed in a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG by Oerlikon Graziano and its UK partner, Vocis. The packaging is so effective that the OGeco with integrated electric motor fits into the same space as the 7-speed DCT normally fitted to the car.

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Siemens, Duke Energy and Ford demonstrate lower cost home smart charging technology for plug-ins; due on market next year

Siemens Energy Management Division has teamed with Duke Energy and Ford to demonstrate the results of an 18-month effort to reduce the cost and expand electric vehicle charging technologies. Held at the Duke Energy Envision Center in Erlanger, Ky., and utilizing a Ford Fusion Energi Plug-In Hybrid, Siemens provided the first UL-approved residential electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) to demonstrate the ability to monitor status, report energy use, and be controlled locally from the local area network and from the cloud.

In 2012, Siemens was awarded $1.6 million in development funding from the US Department of Energy (DOE) to support research aimed at significantly reducing the current costs of electrical vehicle (EV) chargers and developing “smart” charging capabilities that support power grid efficiency and consumer demand.

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ANSI EV standards panel releases progress report on standardization activities

December 03, 2014

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Electric Vehicles Standards Panel (EVSP) published of a Progress Report on activity within the standardization community to address the gaps and recommendations described in the ANSI EVSP’s Standardization Roadmap for Electric Vehicles – Version 2.0 (May 2013). (Earlier post.)

Available as a free download, the report outlines significant developments including new areas where there is a perceived need for additional standardization work to facilitate the safe, mass deployment of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and charging infrastructure in the United States.

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BMW reveals 3 Series Plug-in hybrid prototype with 117.5 mpg; next-gen Power eDrive: 2x current capacity, electric AWD

November 27, 2014

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BMW 3 Series Plug-in hybrid prototype. Click to enlarge.

BMW has unveiled a 3 Series plug-in hybrid prototype. Combining a four-cylinder TwinPower Turbo gasoline engine from the new Efficient Dynamics engine family with an electric motor, the BMW 3 Series plug-in hybrid prototype offers performance on a par with a conventionally powered BMW 3 Series six-cylinder model, combined with a significant reduction in fuel consumption.

In addition, BMW outlined its work on Power eDrive next-generation electrification platforms—an effort to deliver “highly electrified” plug-in hybrids with higher-powered electric motors and batteries with twice the capacity of present versions. Future plug-in hybrid concepts, said BMW, will use the electric motor—the main source of power for everyday driving—to drive the rear wheels, while a second electric motor driving the front wheels will create an all-electric road-coupled all-wheel-drive system. At the same time, an internal combustion engine will also supply power to the front axle.

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Renault-Nissan Alliance has sold 200,000 EVs worldwide so far; 58% ZEV market share

November 26, 2014

The Renault-Nissan Alliance has passed the 200,000th electric vehicles sold mark and currently has a leading 58% market share for zero-emission cars (ZEVs) worldwide. Together, Renault and Nissan EVs have driven approximately 4 billion zero-emission kilometers (2.5 billion miles)—enough to circle the earth 100,000 times. Alliance EVs also represent 450 million kg of CO2 that has not been emitted while driving. (The zero-emission distance and CO2 data are based on a calculated average.)

Of those EVs, Japan-based Nissan has sold a cumulative 148,700 units worldwide since December 2010, when Nissan LEAF went on sale. The top markets for Nissan LEAF are the United States with about 67,000 sales since its launch; Japan with about 46,500 units; and Europe with about 31,000 units.

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Lux Research: fuel cell vehicles lag other drivetrains in terms of cost of ownership; ICE and HEV lowest cost

November 24, 2014

Based on an analysis of various cost of ownership scenarios for various drivetrains, including internal combustion engine (ICE) gasoline and diesel; hybrid (HEV); battery-electric (EV); plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV); and fuel cell vehicles, Lux Research concludes that fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) are “solidly in a laggard position.

The Lux analysts ran scenarios associated with operation and ownership, broken out into fuel cost alone; fuel cost plus operation, but excluding purchase or lease; and fuel cost plus operation, including purchase or lease (total ownership cost). When looking at fuel cost only, EVs lead the way due to the relatively low price of electricity, followed by various types of hybrids (HEVs and PHEVs). Fuel cell vehicles can match EV fuel costs at $3/kg dispensed H2—a price highly unlikely in near-term, Lux said.

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DOE to fund development of processes to aggregate purchases of alt-fuel and advanced vehicles; goal is cost reduction and accelerated adoption

November 21, 2014

DOE plans (DE-FOA-0001236) to issue in the February 2015 timeframe a funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0001237) to develop and to implement effective purchasing/procurement processes designed to coordinate and consolidate bulk alternative fuel vehicle and advanced vehicle orders and thus reduce the per-unit prices of commercially-available vehicles.

DOE expects that such an aggregated purchasing/procurement process will enable original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and suppliers to increase production volumes; achieve economies of scale; and reduce incremental vehicle costs specific to electric drive, natural gas, propane, hybrid, and other alternative fuel vehicle and advanced vehicle technologies.

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Quick drive of the Passat HyMotion hydrogen fuel cell hybrid

November 20, 2014

Volkswagen unveiled the Golf Sportwagen HyMotion hydrogen fuel cell hybrid research vehicle demonstrator yesterday at the Los Angeles Auto Show (earlier post). Volkswagen has also built several research vehicles based on the US version of the Passat using the same hydrogen drivetrain components as fitted in the Golf SportWagen HyMotion.

The fleet of Passat HyMotion vehicles is currently being tested on the streets of California. In addition, Volkswagen brought a pair of the hydrogen Passats to the Los Angeles Auto Show for test drives (and Audi brought a pair of its A7 Sportback h-tron hydrogen fuel cell plug-in hybrids for drives, as well.)

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Air Force tests all plug-in vehicle fleet in California; part of large DoD V2G project

November 14, 2014

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A fleet of plug-in electric vehicles sits ready to roll at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, California. (US Air Force photo by Sarah Corrice/RELEASED.) Click to enlarge.

The Air Force unveiled the Department of Defense’s first non-tactical vehicle fleet composed entirely of plug-in electric vehicles at Los Angeles Air Force Base today. The 42-vehicle fleet marks a milestone in partnership between federal, state and private energy organizations, as well as in DoD’s demonstration of emerging vehicle-to-grid technology.

The PEV fleet includes both electric and hybrid vehicles ranging from sedans to trucks and a 12-passenger van. California energy providers and regulators worked closely with the Air Force on safety and performance testing as well as technical and regulatory aspects of launching the vehicles.

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Tesla delivers record 7,785 Model S units worldwide in Q3; non-GAAP net of $3M, GAAP loss of $75M

November 06, 2014

Tesla reported third-quarter global deliveries of 7,785 Model S units, despite a factory shutdown in July; this included the highest ever peak deliveries in a single day of 907 vehicles. The majority of Q3 delivers were in North America. (Tesla does not fully break out its sales by country, nor does it provide monthly sales reports.) The company also reported that Model X deliveries would start in Q3 2015, later than the previously revised target.

Based on orders since the introduction of Dual Motor all-wheel drive and “Autopilot” (earlier post), Tesla management said it was confident of a 50% increase in both net orders and deliveries for Model S alone in 2015. While Tesla is not planning major platform changes to the hardware in the near term, there will be several “significant” over-the-air software releases that add functionality.

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Navigant forecasts modest global annual sales growth of e-bicycles, reaching 40.3M units in 2023

November 05, 2014

In a new report, Navigant Research forecasts that global annual sales of e-bicycles will grow modestly from 31.7 million units in 2014 to 40.3 million units in 2023 under a base scenario—a CAGR of 2.7%. Navigant expects China, the market leader, to reach 28.8 million e-bicycle sales this year under the base scenario, representing 91% of the total global market. In 2023, Navigant expects China to have 85% of the total market.

This growth in demand is expected to result in revenue for global e-bicycle sales of $13.5 billion by 2023. Under Navigant Research’s aggressive scenario, in which e-bicycle become a stronger alternative to passenger vehicles in urban environments, global e-bicycle sales could reach as many as 44.4 million units annually by 2023.

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ICCT study finds state EV incentives playing a significant role in driving sales

October 31, 2014

A study by a team from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) shows that state electric vehicle incentives are playing a significant early role in reducing the effective cost of ownership and driving electric vehicle sales.

As described in their white paper, “Evaluation of state-level US electric vehicle incentives”, the researchers found that some of the states with the largest electric vehicle incentives—i.e., California, Georgia, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington—have electric vehicle sales shares that are approximately 2–4 times the national average. A statistical regression revealed that the total monetary benefit to consumers from state incentives significantly positively correlates with BEV sales when all 50 states and the District of Columbia are included.

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La Poste Group and Renault enter new eco-mobility partnership; coincides with delivery of the 5,000th Kangoo Z.E.

Philippe Wahl, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of La Poste group, and Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Renault group, signed a new partnership agreement today to pursue and strengthen their cooperation on the search for eco-mobility solutions. Since the launch of France’s low-carbon vehicle project in January 2009, La Poste group, which has the country’s largest industrial fleet with some 69,000 vehicles, has equipped itself with a complete range of electric vehicles, including small light commercial vehicles, quads, three-wheelers and electrically assisted bicycles. Today, La Poste mailmen and mailwomen use nearly 25,000 means of electric transport daily.

The Renault group and La Poste group are working together in a wide range of fields on forward-looking issues independently of their business relations. By signing the new partnership agreement, the two French companies are pursuing their collaborative efforts on the search for eco-mobility solutions. Through research work and studies, the two groups will develop pilot projects on new mobility solutions and continue to foster the sustainable mobility of the present and future, focusing on four main areas:

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

October 29, 2014

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

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

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

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

October 28, 2014

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

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

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

October 24, 2014

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

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

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

October 23, 2014

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

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

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