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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.]

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

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

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

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

October 22, 2014

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

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

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

October 21, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 20, 2014

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Visio.M EV. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 17, 2014

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

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

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

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

October 16, 2014

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

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

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

October 15, 2014

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

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

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

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

October 14, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 13, 2014

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

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

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

October 10, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 01, 2014

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

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

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

September 24, 2014

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

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

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

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

September 22, 2014

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

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

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

September 20, 2014

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

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

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

September 18, 2014

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

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

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

September 17, 2014

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

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

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

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Audi Sport wins 1st FIA Formula E race in Beijing

September 14, 2014

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

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

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

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

September 13, 2014

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

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

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

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

September 12, 2014

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

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

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Proterra selects Toshiba SCiB cells for next-gen electric bus

September 10, 2014

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

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

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

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The Opbrid Trůkbaar. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

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

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

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Production of BYD-Daimler DENZA EV begins in China

September 09, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 08, 2014

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

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

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

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

September 03, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 02, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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