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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.]

Cal Energy Commission awards $1.5M to Berkeley to advance open-source advanced smart charging technology; OpenVBOSS

February 11, 2016

The California Energy Commission is awarding the University of California, Berkeley $1.5 million to develop an advanced smart charging technology that maintains plug-in electric vehicle consumer needs while reducing charging loads, to achieve electricity grid benefits. The project will focus on controlling the charging of PEVs in residential and small commercial settings using a novel and flexible open-source, open-software architecture charge communication and control platform.

The proposed project addresses the problem of access and signals/controls for local data streams in order to control electricity systems loads for grid management. PEVs are proliferating in California under the Advanced Clean Cars Program, sometimes in geographic clusters; this is creating potential load management issues for electrical utility grids at the feeder and transformer level.

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Tesla projects GAAP profit in Q4 2016; 80k-90k new Model S and Model X in 2016

In its Q4 and Full Year 2015 update, Tesla projected being net cash flow positive and achieving non-GAAP profitability for the year, even factoring in a $1.5-billion investment to add more production capacity, start cell production at the Gigafactory, and establish additional customer support infrastructure. Tesla expects moderate GAAP profitability is expected in the fourth quarter. Model 3 is on schedule to be unveiled on 31 March, with production and delivery slated for late 2017.

Tesla delivered 17,478 vehicles in Q4, including 206 Model X vehicles. Tesla directly leased 881 cars to customers in Q4, about the same percentage as last quarter and worth $85 million of aggregate transaction value. As expected, Model S average transaction price declined by about 2% due to vehicle and option mix. Price increases outside the US offset the impact of unfavorable movements in foreign currencies during the quarter.

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UC Riverside reinforcement-learning-based real-time energy management system can improve PHEV efficiency by almost 12%

February 09, 2016

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering have demonstrated that a new, data-driven, reinforcement-learning-based, real-time energy management system (EMS) can improve the efficiency of current plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) by almost 12% compared to the standard, binary mode control strategy. The UCR EMS optimizes the power-split control in real time while learning the optimal decisions from historical driving cycles.

Further, the ~12% improvement does not factor in charging opportunities. An 8% fuel saving—again, compared to the standard binary mode EMS—can be achieved when charging opportunities are considered, the researchers said in a paper describing the system in the journal Transportation Research Record.

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€3.4M OmniSteer project seeks to increase urban maneuverability with highly-integrated lateral and transverse guidance systems for EVs

February 05, 2016

Automobile maneuverability is limited by cramped inner city conditions. Those who need to park their vehicles frequently—such as delivery services and mobile care providers—lose a lot of working time searching for and then getting into parking spaces. New chassis types with wheels that can be steered individually and electric drives make it possible to increase maneuverability and therefore efficiency, particularly in flowing urban traffic.

The OmniSteer project, which is funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research, is aimed at researching suitable concepts and prototypes by 2018 and has a budget of €3.4 million (US$3.8 million).

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Study finds nanoparticle NMC material used in Li-ion batteries harms key soil bacterium

February 04, 2016

Nanoparticle nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC), an emerging material that is being rapidly incorporated into lithium-ion battery cathodes, has been shown to impair Shewanella oneidensis, a key soil bacterium, according to new research published in the ACS journal Chemistry of Materials.

The study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin—Madison and the University of Minnesota is an early signal that the growing use of the new nanoscale materials used in the rechargeable batteries that power portable electronics and electric and hybrid vehicles may have unforeseen environmental consequences.

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Connected Energy and Renault to collaborate on energy storage and EV charging technology; second-life batteries in E-STOR

Renault and distributed energy storage company Connected Energy are partnering to develop sustainable and efficient ways of using electric vehicle batteries at the end of their useable in-vehicle life in order to supply innovative and more affordable vehicle charging solutions.

At the end of their useful in-vehicle life, Renault EV batteries still have considerable remaining capacity, enabling them to server in other applications before recycling. With increasing EV sales—97,687 EVs were sold in Europe in 2015, up 48% on 2014—so is the requirement in energy to charge them. Connected Energy is addressing both issues through use of second-life EV batteries in its E-STOR technology.

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Daimler & enercity storing new replacement EV batteries in working 15 MWh grid storage system; “living storage”

February 02, 2016

Daimler AG, with its wholly owned subsidiary ACCUMOTIVE, and enercity (Stadtwerke Hannover AG) will begin construction of a new stationary energy storage system (ESS) this year; the facility also functions as a spare parts storage facility for electromotive battery systems.

Around 3,000 new battery packs, destined for the current smart electric drive vehicle fleet, are being pooled to create the ESS at the enercity site in Herrenhausen. With a storage capacity totalling 15 MWh, the installation is one of the largest in Europe. After completion, the energy storage facility will be marketed on the German primary balancing energy market. The storage facility is already the third major project for Daimler AG in this business sector.

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New UMTRI paper reviews major advantages and disadvantages of battery-electric and fuel-cell vehicles

February 01, 2016

A new report from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) reviews the major advantages and disadvantages associated with battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) and fuel-cell vehicles (FCVs). The team of Brandon Schoettle and Dr. Michael Sivak also incudes information for current gasoline-powered internal combustion engines as a baseline comparison.

In addition to reviewing the technical literature, the UMTRI researchers interviewed experts in the automotive and energy sectors regarding their views concerning these issues. Among their findings:

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GM creates dedicated team to drive autonomous and advanced technology vehicle development

January 29, 2016

Effective 1 February, GM is creating a combined, dedicated Autonomous and Technology Vehicle Development Team. This team is tasked with accelerating the company’s technical capabilities and create the future direction of GM vehicle programs in the autonomous and “technologically advanced” vehicle space.

Doug Parks, currently vice president, Global Product Programs, is now Vice President, Autonomous Technology and Vehicle Execution. He will lead the team responsible for creating and executing autonomously driven vehicles in addition to advanced technology vehicle programs.

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CPUC approves SDG&E pilot EV grid integration project; 3,500 charging stations at 350 sites, dynamic pricing

Almost two years after SDG&E proposed its Electric Vehicle Grid-Integration (VGI) pilot project (April 2014), the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved a modified version of the program, enabling the utility to own and to install 3,500 charging stations at 350 sites—businesses and multi-family communities, including in underserved neighborhoods, throughout San Diego and south Orange Counties.

The program features dynamic pricing—a time-variant rate—that creates incentives for charging when renewable energy is most available. The CPUC decision comes two weeks after a separate CPUC decision to approve a proposal from Southern California Edison to deploy 1,500 charging stations across its territory. (Earlier post.)

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DeltaWing partners with DHX Electric Machines; ultra high-torque motors for automotive applications

January 26, 2016

DeltaWing Technology Group—creators of the DeltaWing vehicle design (earlier post)—and DHX Electric Machines—a Georgia Tech spinout and developer and manufacturer of ultra-high torque density electric machines using proprietary and patented direct cooling technology—announced an agreement granting DeltaWing worldwide rights to make, use and sell DHX electric motors and components specifically designed for automotive applications.

DHX traction motor technology is based on proprietary direct-winding heat exchange cooling technology that is able to remove motor heat at the source—the stator windings. The technology is based on the advanced micro-feature heat exchange research and development efforts of Dr. J. Rhett Mayor (DHX CEO) and Dr. S. Andrew Semidey (DHX VP of Engineering) at the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech.

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Volkswagen Group confirms 20 more EV or PHEV models by 2020; Müller says Europe needs to lead with electric mobility

At the Volkswagen Group’s New Year reception in Brussels, Group CEO Matthias Müller said that the Group would concentrate on sustainability more than ever before—encompassing products, strategy and management. Müller will present the new Strategy 2025 for the Group this summer.

Among other things, the company’s brands will introduce about 20 additional models with electrical or plug-in hybrid drive trains by 2020, the CEO confirmed. (That number had been put forth by former CEO Martin Winterkorn at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2015. Earlier post.) The Volkswagen Group comprises twelve brands from seven European countries.

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ExxonMobil projects 25% energy demand increase between 2014-2040, 50% decline in carbon intensity; hybrids to be 40% of new car sales

January 25, 2016

Global energy demand will increase 25% between 2014 and 2040, driven by population growth and economic expansion, ExxonMobil forecasts in the 2016 edition of its annual The Outlook for Energy. At the same time, energy efficiency gains and increased use of renewable energy sources and lower carbon fuels, such as natural gas, are expected to help reduce by half the carbon intensity of the global economy.

During the period, the world’s population will increase by about 2 billion people and emerging economies will continue to expand significantly, according to the forecast. Most growth in energy demand will occur in developing nations that are not part of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Per capita income in those countries is likely to increase by 135%.

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TM4, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Exagon Motors and the Gouvernement du Québec partner on new electric drivetrain

January 21, 2016

TM4, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Exagon Motors, Hydro-Québec and the Gouvernement du Québec are collaborating to develop a new electric drivetrain for light-duty vehicles. TM4 will act as the developer of the electric powertrain in the pre-development phase of the project.

The government’s contribution will be made up of a CAD 10-million equity interest and a CAD 6-million loan. Hydro­Québec will also be contributing CAD 4 million to the project, in addition to the services offered by its subsidiary TM4 to help with the development of an electric motor.

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DOE announces $58M in funding for advanced vehicle technologies

US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz used the Washington DC Auto show as the venue to announce $58 million in funding for vehicle technology advancements. (Earlier post.) (DE-FOA-0001384: Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Vehicle Technologies Program Wide Funding Opportunity Announcement) DOE also released a report highlighting the successes of itsAdvanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program.

Pre-announced in December, a $55-million funding opportunity will solicit projects across vehicle technologies such as energy storage, electric drive systems, materials, fuels and lubricants and advanced combustion. Secretary Moniz also announced that two innovative projects at CALSTART and the National Association of Regional Councils will receive $3 million to develop systems that help companies combine their purchasing of advanced vehicles, components, and infrastructure to reduce incremental cost and achieve economies of scale.

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Volkswagen brand restructures development organization; distinct BEV group

January 20, 2016

The Volkswagen brand has restructured its vehicle development organization. The new organization bundles competencies into four series groups containing several model series: small; compact; mid- and full-size; and BEV.

The brand’s management intends for cross-functional collaboration to be strengthened as a result—from the concept to the end of the life-cycle for any given model, the responsibility for technology, quality, cost and deadline compliance, and the responsibility for cost-effectiveness, now clearly lie in one hand for the first time. Until now, these responsibilities were distributed across different divisions and differentiated into individual models groups as well.

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Audi Brussels to produce exclusively e-tron quattro SUV, battery packs; A1 production moving to Spain

As of 2018, Audi Brussels will produce exclusively the commercial version of Audi’s e-tron quattro battery-electric SUV (earlier post). The plant will also produce its own battery packs. The site in Belgium will thus become a key plant for electric mobility at the Volkswagen Group.

Audi will transfer production of the Audi A1 from Brussels to Martorell in Spain; in 2014, Audi Brussels produced 115,378 Audi A1 models. The Audi Q3, currently produced in Spain, will be built in Győr (Hungary) in the future. The model rotation will benefit all the sites of its global production network, Audi Chairman Rupert Stadler said.

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VW e-Golf to be enhanced with improved infotainment, connectivity and range

January 14, 2016

Over the next few years (exact timing is unannounced) Volkswagen’s e-Golf battery-electric vehicle will receive a boost in range due to planned and anticipated improvements to its batteries (earlier post) as well as some of the advanced HMI (human-machine interface), device and connectivity technologies showcased at CES 2016 in the e-Golf Touch concept. (The exact technology slate for the US is also unannounced.)

The e-Golf Touch introduced a more advanced generation of the Modular Infotainment Toolkit (MIB) and for the first time, an early series-production preview of the new intuitive control technology, some of which will appear in the production e-Golf over the next few years. The e-Golf Touch features the latest version of MIB with a 9.2-inch high-resolution display (1280 x 640 pixels).

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PwC: electrified vehicle sales on the rise in Europe, continued growth expected

January 13, 2016

PwC’s Autofacts group estimates sales of pure electric, plug-in mild and full hybrids will grow 433% to 2.2 million units by 2021, driven by a number of factors, including regulatory pressure. While alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs)—including hybrids and pure electric—are gaining consumer acceptance in the European Union (EU), even in the face of decreased fuel prices, these reduced emission offerings are still a comparatively low%age of overall vehicle sales in this critical market.

Pure electric and plug-in hybrids vehicle sales grew 82.2% from September 2014 to September 2015, as opposed to mild and full hybrids which increased 22% during the same period. The significant EV growth can be attributed to several factors, according to PwC, including consumer desire for more emission-friendly vehicles, the maturation of pure electric technologies and their positive perception among consumers, and continued government incentives.

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Chevrolet releases more details on Bolt drive unit and battery; one-pedal driving

January 11, 2016

Hard on the heels of the reveal of the production Volt EV at CES 2016 in Las Vegas earlier post), Chevrolet used the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit to release additional details on the battery and drivetrain of the new BEV. Engineers developed the Bolt EV’s propulsion system to offer more than an estimated 200 miles (based on GM estimates) and a sporty driving experience.

The Bolt EV’s drive system uses a single high capacity electric motor to propel the car. The engineering team designed the Bolt EV’s electric motor with an offset gear and shaft configuration tailored to meet efficiency and performance targets—most notably more than an estimated 200 miles of range. The motor is capable of producing up to 266 lb-ft (360 N·m) of torque and 200 hp (150 kW) of motoring power. Combined with a 7.05:1 final drive ratio, it helps propel the Bolt EV from 0-60 mph in less than seven seconds.

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Chevrolet unveils the Bolt EV

January 06, 2016

As promised, GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra unveiled the production 2017 Bolt battery-electric vehicle at CES 2016. The Bolt EV, which will go into production by the end of 2016, will offer more than 200 miles of range on a full charge. It also features advanced connectivity technologies designed to enhance and personalize the driving experience.

GM said that the Bolt EV benefits directly from the suggestions and ideas of Volt owners and features technologies that make owning a long-range electric vehicle easy. The Bolt EV’s connectivity innovations will provide smart, personalized solutions for managing the driving experience. For example, in the future an accurate driving range projection will be based on the time of day, topography, weather and the owner’s driving habits.

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Volkswagen unveils BUDD-e electric van concept at CES; first VW based on new Modular Electric Toolkit (MEB)

At CES 2016, Volkswagen unveiled the battery-electric BUDD-e van. Equipped with a 101 kWh battery pack supporting a range of up to 373 miles (600 km) on the NEDC, the BUDD-e concept is the first vehicle based on Volkswagen’s new Modular Electric Platform (MEB) designed specifically for plug-in vehicles. BUDD-e exemplifies what Volkswagen considers as potentially representative of electric mobility offerings in the 2019 timeframe.

With the BUDD-e, Volkswagen has also developed a vehicle that is more thoroughly connected with its surroundings than any car before it. An integral automotive component in the Internet of Things (IoT), BUDD-e is capable of seamlessly communicating with the smart home or office.

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Audi introducing Q2, new Q5 in 2016, confirms electric SUV for 2018; investing more than €3B in 2016

December 28, 2015

Audi management said that the company will continue with its high levels of investment in 2016, with planned capital expenditure to amount to more than €3 billion (US$3.3 billion). Half of the planned investment will take place at the Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm sites in Germany.

Audi plans to enter a new market segment with the Audi Q2 model next year, and will also present the the successor of the Audi Q5. In 2018, Audi will launch its first large‑series battery‑electric vehicle, based on the Audi e-tron Quattro concept. (Earlier post.) By 2020, Audi will expand its model range to include 60 different automobiles. “A significant proportion of our investment is naturally in the field of alternative drive systems,” said Audi CEO Rupert Stadler.

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DINA consortium researches integrated diagnostic system for electromobility; draws up standards for diagnosis and repair

A consortium led by the Bosch Group has developed a standardized integrated diagnostic system that in the future will be able to clearly identify and locate defects in the electrical powertrain. The consortium’s project on diagnosis and repairs for electric vehicles—“DINA”—was funded with €2.8 million (US$3.1 million) by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of the leading-edge “Electric Mobility South-West” cluster.

Besides the Bosch Group, the consortium included DEKRA Automobil GmbH, the Fraunhofer Ernst-Mach-Institut, and the Research Institute of Automotive Engineering and Vehicle Engines Stuttgart (FKFS). The results of this research have important implications for suppliers, automakers, workshops, and testing organizations.

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Bain: Germany’s goal of 1M electric cars by 2020 is unattainable; fewer than 50,000 units on road by end of this year

December 23, 2015

The German Federal Government plan to have one million electric cars on its roads by 2020 has failed, according to the analysis of international management consulting firm Bain & Company. By the end of 2015, there will be a total of about 50,000 electric cars and plug-in hybrids on the roads in Germany (about 75% below plan); nevertheless, structural transformation towards electromobility is continuing, according to the firm.

Stricter emission laws and the technological advances in electric drives will accelerate the trend towards e-mobility in the medium term, Bain said.

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Navigant forecasts global light duty electrified vehicle sales to exceed 6.0M in 2024; PEVs to account for roughly half

December 21, 2015

In a new report, Electric Vehicle Market Forecasts, Navigant research projects that under its base scenario, global sales of light duty electrified vehicles (i.e., vehicles that use electricity for traction, including hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and battery-electrics) will grow from 2.6 million vehicle sales in 2015 to more than 6.0 million in 2024.

Under a conservative scenario, Navigant forecasts more than 5.8 million electrified vehicles by 2024, while the aggressive scenario sees more than 6.4 million. Navigant estimates that sales of plug-in vehicles (PEVs) accounted for roughly 19% of electrified vehicle sales in 2015; in 2024, Navigant expects light duty PEVs to capture between 47% and 51% of the electrified vehicle market.

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DOE to issue $56M funding opportunity for vehicle technologies in January

December 20, 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) will issue, on behalf of the Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO), a FY 2016 Vehicle Technologies Program Wide Funding Opportunity Announcement, with an estimated $56 million of total program funding, in the January 2016 timeframe.

VTO supports a broad technology portfolio aimed at developing and deploying advanced highway transportation technologies that reduce petroleum consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, while meeting or exceeding vehicle performance and cost expectations. Research, development, and deployment efforts are focused on reducing the cost and improving the performance of a mix of near- and long-term vehicle technologies including advanced batteries, power electronics and electric motors, lightweight and propulsion materials, advanced combustion engines, advanced fuels and lubricants, and other enabling technologies. The January 2016 FOA thus may include the following Areas of Interest, covering that spectrum of interests:

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$12B EV deal: NEVS to provide Panda with 150K 9-3 EVs through 2020, 100K other EV products and services

December 17, 2015

National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) and the Chinese company Panda New Energy Co., Ltd. have signed a strategic collaboration agreement under which NEVS will provide Panda with 150,000 9-3 sedan electric vehicles through the end of 2020. In addition, the agreement also includes 100,000 other EV products and services from companies associated to NEVS and its owners. The total value of the agreement is 78 billion RMB (US$12 billion).

Panda New Energy is a new energy vehicle leasing company with focus on low emission mobility solutions. Cooperating with many chauffeured car service platforms in China, Panda aims to become one of the biggest EV leasing companies in the world.

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6 new EVgo fast charging locations in Salt Lake City; 100th station in California

December 15, 2015

EVgo and multiple site host partners have installed Electric Vehicle (EV) Fast-Charging EVgo Stations at 6 Salt Lake City, Utah area locations. The chargers will give EV drivers the ability to recharge their vehicles in 30 minutes or less.

The 100th EVgo Freedom Station in California also recently opened to the public and is the nation’s largest publicly-available multi-standard (CHAdeMO and DC Fast Combo) fast charging site. Located in the hottest EV area of the country, the Lucky Fremont location at 5000 Mowry Ave. features four 50kW DC Fast Chargers in addition to Level 2 charging. It can support 9 plug-in concurrently.

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Jaguar returns to motorsport with team entry in Formula E; Williams Advanced Engineering technical partner

Jaguar is returning to global motorsport with a team entry in the FIA Formula E Championship in the autumn of 2016. The company said that FIA Formula E—the first global single-seater championship for electric-powered cars—offers a unique opportunity for Jaguar Land Rover to further the development of future EV powertrain including motor and battery technology.

Williams Advanced Engineering will be Technical Partner to the Jaguar Formula E Team and provide extensive motorsport knowledge, combined with high performance EV Systems experience and success. Jaguar Land Rover has a long term relationship with Williams, who partnered with Jaguar on the development of the Jaguar C-X75 plug-in hybrid concept car. (Earlier post.)

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Ford investing additional $4.5B to add 13 new electrified vehicles by 2020; new fast-charging Focus Electric next year

December 10, 2015

Ford is investing an additional $4.5 billion to add 13 new electrified vehicles to its portfolio by 2020, when more than 40% of the company’s global nameplates will come in electrified versions. Although Ford is currently the second-largest vendor of electrified vehicles in the US, having sold more than 450,000 units since the introduction of its first hybrid (the Escape Hybrid) in 2004 (earlier post), it has not brought a new electrified vehicle model to its US showrooms since the Focus Energi plug-in hybrid in February 2013.

The new $4.5B infusion is Ford’s largest-ever electrified vehicle investment in a five-year period.

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Ford expanding global electrified vehicle battery R&D

Ford is expanding its electrified vehicles research and development program in Europe and Asia this year, creating a “hub-and-spoke” system that allows the global team to further accelerate battery technology and take advantage of market-specific opportunities.

The global expansion also allows Ford’s Electrified Powertrain Engineering teams to share common technologies and test batteries virtually, in real time, to develop new technology faster while reducing the need for costly prototypes.

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Nissan and ENEL announce V2G system, launch smart grid trials in Europe

December 08, 2015

At the 21st UN Conference on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris this week, Nissan announced the development of a Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) system which will allow drivers to operate as individual energy hubs with the ability to store, use or return electricity to the grid.

Nissan will commence Smart Grid trials in partnership with multinational energy manufacturer and distributor, ENEL. In March, Nissan and Endesa, an Enel Group subsidiary, had signed an agreement at the Geneva International Motor Show pledging to work together to deliver a mass-market V2G system and an innovative business model designed to leverage this technology. (Earlier post.)

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Nissan and Eaton partner on second-life EV battery applications

Nissan and Eaton will partner to combine their respective expertise in lithium-ion batteries and power electronics respectively, to bring reliable and cost-competitive second-life energy storage and control technologies to the market.

The partnership will focus on creating commercially viable energy storage and control centers that will provide a sustainable second life for Nissan’s lithium-ion batteries after their automotive usage.

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Hyundai introduces IONIQ: compact car with BEV, PHEV or HEV powertrains

December 07, 2015

Hyundai Motor announced the name of its advanced, alternative-fuel compact vehicle due for launch in 2016: the Hyundai IONIQ. The car will be available with battery-electric electric (BEV), plug-in gasoline/electric hybrid (PHEV), or gasoline/electric hybrid (HEV) powertrains—the first car from any manufacturer to offer customers these three powertrain options in a single body type.

Based on an exclusive new platform, made specifically for the car’s multi-powertrain options, the IONIQ chassis is optimized to deliver responsive handling while remaining efficient in each of its three powertrain configurations.

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Audi’s production electric e-tron quattro may set a new standard for vehicle handling; advanced vehicle dynamics control

December 01, 2015

The production version of Audi’s battery electric e-tron quattro SUV (earlier post), due out in 2018, is an important vehicle for the brand, and especially for Audi of America, which is driving many of the requirements for the C-segment electric SUV. At the LA Auto Show, Audi of America President Scott Keogh said that the brand is targeting at least 25% of its US sales to be e-tron—i.e., plug-in hybrid or full electric—models by 2025. (Earlier post.)

He also observed, in a conversation on the eve of the LAAS, that if an automaker can launch a defining product, the game changes. Audi intends for the e-tron quattro to become such a defining product—an Audi electric SUV in the high-volume C-segment that is reasonably priced (in the luxury sector) and delivers longer range along with all the “known” benefits of electric drive: speedy acceleration, quiet, lower cost of fueling, and zero tailpipe emissions (as well as the high-value HOV sticker for some markets). But to make this a benchmark product, Audi intends to go further, leveraging the three-motor electric quattro powertrain through very advanced software controls to deliver a ride and handling experience not possible even in an all-wheel drive electric vehicle equipped with a torque vectoring differential mechanism (e.g., a Tesla).

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Samsung SDI to supply cylindrical Li-ion batteries to JAC Motors for new EV; 50 million 18650 cells next year

November 23, 2015

In a departure from its usual approach of supplying high-capacity prismatic Li-ion cells for automotive applications, Samsung SDI will supply cylindrical 18650 format Li-ion batteries for JAC Motors’ new electric SUV iEV6S, unveiled at the 2015 Guangzhou International Auto Parts & Accessories Exhibition. JAC Motors says that its iEV6S will be the first electric SUV in China to offer more than 250 km (155 miles) of range.

The battery pack for the iEV6S will comprise approximately 3,000 of Samsung SDI’s high-performance 18650 battery cells. Additionally, JAC Motors signed an MOU with Samsung SDI for the supply of 50 million battery cells next year alone.

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ABB joins CharIN; taking Combined Charging System to the next level; 150 kW demos, targeting 350 kW

November 22, 2015

The Charging Interface Initiative association (CharIN) announced earlier this month that ABB has been granted core membership in the association. CharIN was founded by Audi, BMW, Daimler, Mennekes, Opel, Phoenix Contact, Porsche, TÜV SÜD and Volkswagen to focus on developing and establishing the Combined Charging System (CCS) as the standard for charging battery-powered electric vehicles of all kinds. ABB—based in the Netherlands—is the first non-German member.

The Combined Charging System is currently the only internationally standardized charging system covering conventional (AC) and different fast charging scenarios with one integrated system approach. It combines single-phase with rapid three-phase charging using alternating current at a maximum of 43 kilowatts (kW), as well as direct-current charging at a maximum of 200 kW. (Earlier post.) The majority of available CCS charging stations and vehicles currently in the market provide direct-current charging at the level of 50 kW.

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Tohoku U team produces rare-earth-free high quality Fe-Ni magnet with simple industrial technology

Researchers from Tohoku University in Japan have succeeded in producing a completely rare-earth free high-quality Fe-Ni magnet. The team, led by Professor Akihiro Makino as principal investigator is supported by a MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan) project entitled, “Ultra-low Core Loss Magnetic Material Technology Area,” under the framework of the “Tohoku Innovative Materials Technology Initiatives for Reconstruction.”

Currently high quality magnets, which are used in various applications such as automobiles, household appliances, medical equipment etc. are made up of rare earth elements such as Sm (samarium), Nd (neodymium) and Dy (dysprosium). Importing rare earth elements is costly, and has become “too political,” the researchers said, making it increasingly difficult for Japan to maintain industrial superiority and competitiveness in the production of energy-saving technologies for next generation of electrical machines/devices.

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Volkswagen Group to cut overall spending by ~€1B next year, but to boost investments in electric drive tech by €100M

November 20, 2015

The Volkswagen Group is cutting its planned investments in its Automotive Division for next year as it girds itself for the financial impacts of responding to the diesel emission issue. The Group will cap planned investments in property, plant and equipment, investment property and intangible assets, excluding capitalized development costs (capex) at approximately €12 billion next year—a cut of about €1 billion from earlier plans.

At the same time, however, the Group intends to increase spending on alternative drive technologies by approximately €100 million next year, with the core focus to be on rapidly developing electric drive systems for the for the Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Audi and Porsche brands, according to Matthias Müller, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG.

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ROEV Association forms to promote public EV charging interoperability

November 19, 2015

Automakers, electric vehicle charging networks and other stakeholders have joined together to create the ROEV Association (ROEV), a neutral collaboration of industry stakeholders designed to support EV adoption by facilitating public charging network interoperability. Initial automaker members include BMW of North America, Nissan, Honda and Audi; the three largest charging networks in the US—CarCharging/Blink, ChargePoint, and NRG EVgo—are also participating.

One of ROEV’s primary goals is to provide easier access to all networked, public EV chargers by adopting and promoting interoperability standards, so that drivers can confidently charge anywhere public stations are found in the US, using a participating EV charging network account.

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Audi of America targeting 25% of sales to be plug-ins by 2025; national network of 150 kW fast chargers

Flanked by the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron (earlier post) on one side and the Audi concept e-tron quattro (earlier post) on the other, Audi of America president Scott Keogh used his press conference speech at the Los Angeles Auto Show yesterday to declare that the brand is targeting at least 25% of its US sales to be e-tron—i.e., plug-in hybrid or full electric—models by 2025.

Further, Keogh said, Audi will support the broad adoption of EV technology in the US by developing a nationwide 150 kW fast charging network that would charge the 95 kWh battery pack of the e-tron quattro to 80% in only 30 minutes—enough for 200 miles worth of driving in the battery-electric SUV. The network will be in place for the launch of the fully electric SUV in 2018.

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JATO Dynamics: 2016 will be record year for plug-ins with global sales in excess of 700K units; China to begin dominating the market

November 18, 2015

A new white paper from JATO Dynamics, the UK-based supplier of automotive business intelligence, projects, based on its partner LMC Automotive’s forecasts, that the global market for plug-in vehicles (plug-in hybrid and battery-electric vehicles) will reach record sales in excess of 700,000 units next year thanks to strong growth in China, Europe and the US. This will be followed by strong annual growth, according to the report.

Global electric passenger car sales totalled 280,000 units in 2014, representing growth of 43% compared with 2013; total global passenger car sales that year were 72 million units. The report projects annual EV sales in Europe of 500,000 units by 2019. By 2022, the Chinese market is expected to account for half of global sales—almost 1.5 million units a year. The forecast for 2025 sees more than 5.5 million electric vehicles being sold worldwide.

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Audi highlights its range of electrification efforts; Q7 diesel PHEV, A7 fuel cell PHEV, BEV, 48V and more; 750 Wh/l by 2025

November 17, 2015

Audi presented a range of its ongoing work on electromobility and efficiency—from fuels and systems to full vehicles—under the “Future Performance Days 2015” banner.

On the full vehicle side, Audi put forward the Audi Q7 e-tron 3.0 TDI quattro plug-in hybrid (earlier post); the Audi A7 h-tron quattro fuel cell vehicle (earlier post); the Audi e-tron quattro concept battery-electric SUV (earlier post); the Audi TT clubsport turbo concept (earlier post); the Audi RS 5 TDI competition concept (earlier post); and the Audi R18 e-tron quattro (earlier post). On the systems and fuels side, Audi discussed battery technology; wireless charging; 48 V electrification (earlier post); Audi fuel cell technology; and Audi e-fuels (earlier post).

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Kia outlines 5-year plan for more green vehicles; Optima PHEV, Niro hybrid, FCV; $10.2B investment

November 16, 2015

Kia Motors outlined its mid- to long-term plans for the development of a greatly increased range of environmentally friendly vehicles, with the goal of becoming a leader in the low-emissions car market by 2020. Kia said it intends to expand its green car line-up from four current models to 11 by 2020, including hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery-electric and fuel cell electric vehicles.

The five-year development plan will see Kia further increase its investment in research and development (R&D) into fuel-efficient technologies and new products, with a range of all-new models and highly advanced powertrains for global markets.

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Study finds EV deployment in China to increase Environmental Justice challenge there

A new study by a team from the University of Tennessee, Tsinghua University and the University of Minnesota has found that the wide-scale deployment of electric vehicles in China can increase the Environmental Justice (EJ) challenge in that country.

According to their findings, published in a paper in the ACS journalEnvironmental Science & Technology, most (∼77%, range: 41–96%) emission inhalation attributable to urban EVs use—i.e., from the shifting of transportation’s air pollution from urban tailpipes to rural power plants—is distributed to predominately rural communities the incomes of which are on average lower than the cities in which the EVs are used.

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IHS Automotive sees Google leading technology, testing, software development for autonomous driving

November 13, 2015

The key to self-driving cars is software that can interpret all of a vehicles’ sensors and learn to mimic the driving skills and experiences of the very best drivers. Google is the current technology leader in this arena, according to a report from industry analysts IHS Automotive: “Google Self-Driving Car Strategy and Implications”. IHS estimates suggest Google has invested nearly $60 million so far in autonomous vehicle research and development, at a run rate of nearly $30 million per year.

Unlike traditional vehicle manufacturers, Google also has the ability to leverage adjacent technologies and learnings from its other projects and investments—including robotics, drones and related technologies that help automotive operations, such as neural networks, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and machine vision. This provides Google researchers additional expertise not available directly to traditional OEMs.

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Two years in, BMW i3 is the best-selling EV in Germany and the 3rd top seller worldwide; 80% of buyers new to BMW

Two years after it went on sale, the BMW i3 has become the top selling electric vehicle in Germany (one in every four electrically-powered vehicles sold since introduction) and the third best selling model worldwide (one in 10). More than 80% of the BMW i3 buyers worldwide are new customers to the BMW Group.

The most important single market for the all-electric five-door is the USA, where it ranks third as well. In Norway the BMW i3 has been the best-selling model across the entire BMW range in the current year. (Source for all market data: POLK / IHS per 3Q/2015)

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Bombardier battery-electric powered tram sets range record: 25.9 miles of catenary-free operation

November 06, 2015

Bombardier Transportation has successfully completed a 41.6 km (25.9 miles) catenary-free test run using a Bombardier-built tram, powered entirely by its PRIMOVE battery in combination with BOMBARDIER MITRAC (Modular Integrated TRACtion system). The test run was conducted in the German city of Mannheim on the Rhein-Neckar-Verkehr GmbH (RNV) network.

RNV began using SuperCaps energy storage systems in 2009, and has integrated this technology into 30 of their trams. This provided sufficient energy for short catenary-free operation (CFO) distances. However, the latest generation of Bombardier’s PRIMOVE battery system has been specifically developed for use with CFO where greater distances need to be covered.

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Daimler and partners deploying world’s largest 2nd-life EV battery storage unit for grid support

November 04, 2015

The world’s largest 2nd-life battery storage unit will soon go into operation in the Westphalian town of Lünen. A joint venture between Daimler AG, The Mobility House AG and GETEC, it will be operated from the beginning of next year at the site of REMONDIS SE and marketed in the German electricity balancing sector. The stationary storage unit, with a total capacity of 13 MWh, uses second-life battery systems from the second generation of smart electric drive vehicles.

Under the banner of “E-Mobility thought to the end,” Daimler, The Mobility House, GETEC and REMONDIS are mapping out the entire battery value creation and recycling chain with their project in Lünen. The process demonstrably improves the overall environmental performance of electric vehicles, thereby helping to make e-mobility more economically efficient.

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Opinion: Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Takes A Step Forward

by Michael McDonald of Oilprice.com

For the first time in close to a century, mankind may be about to give serious attention to a technology that has the potential to be a true game-changer in transportation.

Elon Musk famously proposed the idea of the Hyperloop a few years ago [earlier post], and suggested it could be a revolutionary method for travel based on available technology today. The Hyperloop has already created extreme controversy with skeptics citing everything from the cost of land in California to the substantial g-forces that would impact passengers being accelerated from 0 to 700+ miles per hour in a short span of time. Yet while there are reasons to be cautious about the technology, the Hyperloop should also be cheered as the continuation of a long tradition of American innovation and pushing the boundaries of the human experience.

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Tesla Q3 revenue up 10% year-on-year, losses widen; robust production outlook

Tesla Motors reported total GAAP revenue of $937 million in Q3 2015, up 10% from the prior year. Total Q3 non-GAAP revenue was $1.24 billion for the quarter, up nearly 33% from a year ago. Losses for the quarter widened to $230 million, an increase over the $75-million loss in Q3 2014.

Tesla delivered 11,603 vehicles in Q3, slightly above its earlier guidance. GAAP automotive revenue in Q3 was $853 million, up 6.7%. For its non-GAAP accounting, Tesla recorded a net increase of $307 million in deferred revenue as a result of lease accounting, bringing the figure the company calculates as its non-GAAP automotive revenue to $1.16 billion.

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1-year customer field trials of FUSO electric Canter in Portugal show 64% lower costs, 37% reduction in CO2 given local power mix

November 02, 2015

Daimler has concluded customer field trials with eight pre-production Fuso Canter E-Cell electric trucks (earlier post) in Portugal. In addition to delivering a 64% savings in operating costs compared to conventional diesel trucks, the Canter E-Cells also reduced CO2 emissions by 37% compared to diesel, taking into account the current power production mix in Portugal.

FUSO developed the battery-powered and locally emission-free Canter E-Cell at the Daimler Trucks Center of Competence for Hybrid Technology. To prove the practicality of the Canter E-Cell, FUSO sent eight of them on a field trial in mid-2014. All eight vehicles travelled the roads of Portugal and were permanently monitored and analyzed during the one-year field trial. The Canter E-Cell trucks were equipped with platforms and box bodies. They were operated by couriers and freight forwarding agents as well as by municipalities and public works departments.

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Nissan begins testing piloted driving on both city roads and highway

October 31, 2015

Nissan has begun testing its first prototype vehicle that demonstrates piloted drive on both highway and city/urban roads. Nissan’s “Intelligent Driving” comprises features that will be introduced in stages, all toward achieving Nissan’s “Zero Fatality” goal of eliminating virtually all fatalities stemming from traffic accidents.

For Stage One, Nissan will offer “Piloted Drive 1.0” by the end of 2016 in Japan. Piloted Drive 1.0 allows for autonomous driving under heavy highway traffic conditions. By 2018, the company hopes to implement a multiple lane piloted drive that can conduct lane changes on highways. By 2020, Nissan will introduce a new technology that allows vehicles to successfully manage city/urban roads—including intersections—autonomously. Autonomous driving under congested city conditions, with all the variables, is a much more difficult problem than on the highway.

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Cambridge researchers take new approach to overcome challenges to Li-O2 batteries; laboratory demonstrator

October 30, 2015

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have developed a working laboratory demonstrator of a lithium-oxygen battery which has very high energy density, is more than 90% efficient, and, to date, can be recharged more than 2000 times, showing how several of the problems holding back the development of these devices could be solved.

In contrast to standard Li-O2 cells, which cycle via the formation of Li2O2, the Cambridge team used a reduced graphene oxide (rGO) electrode, the additive LiI (lithium iodide), and the solvent dimethoxyethane reversibly to form and remove crystalline LiOH with particle sizes larger than 15 micrometers during discharge and charge. This led to high specific capacities, excellent energy efficiency (93.2%) with a voltage gap of only 0.2 volt, and impressive rechargeability. While the results, reported in the journal Science, are promising, the researchers caution that a practical lithium-air battery still remains at least a decade away.

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New EU/US lab for interoperability of e-vehicles and smart grids

October 29, 2015

Following the Transatlantic Economic Council’s decision to promote electric vehicles and smart grid interoperability, on 29 October the European Commission inaugurated the European Interoperability Centre, a laboratory operated by the JRC.

Together with its partner facility in the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, the new lab will ensure that the next generation of electric cars and smart grids are fully interoperable, based on harmonized standards, technology validation and testing methods. This is an important step towards creating “a single language” for all components.

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Mitsubishi eX concept crossover highlights design and electric vehicle technology directions

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) unveiled the Mitsubishi eX electric crossover concept at the Tokyo Motor Show. MMC intends the eX to showcase next-generation electric vehicle technologies, as well as a new take on the Dynamic Shield front design concept.

The next-generation EV system employs a 45 kWh battery pack together with compact 70 kW electric motors, one on each axle, for a combined output of 140 kW. With further weight reductions in the vehicle itself, the eX can deliver a cruising range of 400 km (249 miles).

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Nissan IDS Concept previews future of autonomous driving and EVs

October 28, 2015

At the Tokyo Motor Show, Nissan Motor unveiled a concept vehicle that embodies Nissan’s vision of the future of autonomous driving and EVs: the Nissan IDS Concept.

Nissan Intelligent Driving, Nissan’s concept of autonomous drive technology, integrates advanced vehicle control and safety technologies with artificial intelligence (AI) and represents what Nissan believes next-generation vehicles should be. “Nissan Intelligent Driving improves a driver’s ability to see, think and react. It compensates for human error, which causes more than 90 percent of all car accidents. As a result, time spent behind the wheel is safer, cleaner, more efficient and more fun,” said Nissan president and CEO Carlos Ghosn.

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Guest post: Honda Introduces the EV-Cub; two-wheel-drive electric motorcycle

October 25, 2015

by Alex Vanover

Honda isn’t a car company… it never really has been. When asked to define what kind of company Honda is, company representatives bill the multinational firm as an engineering company. It is a company that strives to engineer products in a variety of different sectors of the highest quality. And it is also an innovative company that looks for problems in the world and then engineers solutions to those problems. And that’s exactly what the company has been focusing on lately in the world of motorcycles.

Honda has been making and selling a motorcycle called the Cub for decades. Mostly sold in emerging markets around the world as an urban commuter, the Cub is a very small motorcycle with an equally small engine. While technically a motorcycle, it kind of resembles a cross between a motorcycle and a scooter. It is a bike that is not designed to be pretty or go fast. It is designed for one thing only: to get its rider from point A to point B reliably and safely at low speeds while sipping gas.

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JRC report finds electric vehicles in Europe on the way to full-scale commercialization

October 23, 2015

The European Union appears to be undergoing a transition from the testing of and experimentation with electric vehicles to full-scale EV commercialization, according to a new report from the EU’s Joint Research Center (JRC). This report covers battery-electric (BEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV), range extended electric vehicles (REV), and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV).

The number of sold electric vehicles of all types rose from 760 in 2010 to more than 70,000 in 2014, with the trend continuing in the first half of 2015, according to the report. The choice of models went from 3 to nearly 30 in the same period. The share of electric vehicles produced in the EU has also expanded, increasing from 30% (of EV registered in the EU) in 2011 to 65% in 2014.

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Japan’s NEDO selects Nissan and Kanematsu to analyze EV use in California; focus on fast charging and encouraging longer distances

October 21, 2015

The New Energy Industrial Technology and Development Organization (NEDO), Japan’s largest public R&D management organization, has selected Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. and the Japan-based trading company Kanematsu Corporation to analyze electric vehicle use patterns in Northern California.

The NEDO project will seek to encourage the use of electric vehicles for longer distances and inter-city driving by installing and maintaining multiple quick chargers along specific inter-city routes. Nissan and Kanematsu will collect and analyze data on EV driving patterns in California, and create a suitable model to help promote more extensive use of electric vehicles in the state and beyond.

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GM and LG expand their relationship on Bolt EV; 12 components, including PEEM

October 20, 2015

GM and LG announced an expanded and deepened relationship around the coming Bolt battery-electric vehicle (earlier post), with LG providing not only the battery pack and battery heater, but also the critical PEEM (power electronics and electric machine) components; the HVAC electronic climate control system compressor; telematics hardware for OnStar; and the instrument cluster and infotainment system displays.

In a media briefing, Mark Reuss, GM executive vice president – global product development, purchasing and supply chain, observed that the expanded strategic partnership with LG marked a significant new approach to the adversarial automaker-supplier relationships of the past. Further, he noted, such a new type of relationship would be essential for electric vehicles. “The Bolt EV will be the result of an entirely different PEM/supplier relationship.

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Nissan partners with Scoot Networks mobility service with 10 Nissan New Mobility Concept EVs

October 18, 2015

Nissan has provided 10 all-electric Nissan New Mobility Concept vehicles to the Scoot Networks mobility service in San Francisco. The Nissan New Mobility Concept, also known as a Scoot Quad, is a battery-electric, two-seater compact vehicle with a range of 40 miles (64 km) and top speed of 25 mph (40 km/h), based on Renault’s Twizy. Nissan is also testing the EV in car sharing services in Japan. (Earlier post.)

The Scoot Quad joins the Scoot family of light electric vehicles—including a classic electric moped and a larger cargo outfit—and it is Scoot’s first foray on four wheels. The Scoot fleet currently comprises 400 customized electric scooters that go up to 30 mph (48 km/h) and have a range of 20 to 25 miles (32 to 40 km). San Francisco residents use Scoots for a variety of activities such as quick commutes across town, running errands or as a fun way to explore the city.

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ARB sees beginning of market penetration of battery-electric medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses

October 16, 2015

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has released its draft technology assessment of medium- and heavy-duty battery-electric trucks and buses. The draft assessment identifies the status of battery-electric vehicle (BEV) technology that can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) and criteria pollutant emissions from Class 2b through Class 8 vehicles (gross vehicle weight of 8,501 pounds and up).

Overall, the assessment finds that BEVs are beginning to penetrate the medium- and heavy-duty vehicle markets. Battery electric transit buses are increasingly available from a variety of manufacturers and some school buses are commercially available. Battery electric shuttle buses are also increasingly available, as are other medium-duty BEVs, primarily delivery vehicles. Currently, BEVS in the marketplace typically use lithium-ion battery chemistries. Class 8 heavy-duty trucks remain a significant challenge, according to the report.

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AKASOL supplying Li-ion battery systems for eight fast-charging electric buses in Cologne

October 15, 2015

AKASOL, a Germany-based provider of high-performance Li-ion battery systems (earlier post), is supplying the Li-ion battery systems for 8 all-electric articulated 18-meter buses, manufactured by VDL Bus & Coach, to be operated by the Cologne public transport company Kölner Verkehrs-Betriebe. Both AKASOL and VDL are displaying their battery systems and Citea SLFA Electric articulated bus, respectively, at Busworld.

The VDL buses use AKASOL’s modular AKASYSTEM lithium-ion battery system in a 4 x 15M configuration in every bus. Each AKASYSTEM 15M is rated at 460 kW, 35 kWh, and 666 V and weighs 314 kg. The high-performance liquid-cooled battery system offers a charging capacity of more than 300 kilowatts and has an overall useable energy content of more than 100 kWh.

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ABB launches automated fast charging system for electric buses; inverted pantograph

ABB is introducing an automated fast charging system which allows electric city buses to drive 24/7. With its automated rooftop connection and a typical charge time of 4–6 minutes, the system can easily be integrated in existing bus lines by installing fast chargers at end points, terminals, depots and/or intermediate stops. The modular design offering 150 kW, 300 kW or 450 kW of charging power provides any city bus with enough energy in only a few minutes to run its inner-city route continuously throughout the day.

The robust automated connection is based on a pantograph: a proven system used commonly on trains, trams and metro’s, but mounted in inverted position on a stylish infrastructure pole. When a bus arrives at the charging stop, wireless communication will be established between bus and charger and the pantograph will come down automatically. After all safety checks are performed the system will provide the bus with a powerful fast recharge. (A Combo 2 connector can also serve to link bus with charger.)

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Honda adding 120 EV chargers to Torrance Campus; 50kW DC fast charger adjacent to campus

In an effort to increase the use of alternative fuel vehicles by its associates for daily commuting, and to prepare for a new generation of plug-in vehicles set to arrive by 2018, Honda is adding 120 new electric vehicle (EV) chargers on the Torrance, CA headquarter campus of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. The new chargers (Level 2 SAE J1772 6.6 kW units from Chargepoint) will be installed in two phases, the first of which has already begun.

To support the local community in conjunction with the project, Honda is installing a publicly-accessible DC fast charger on Harpers Way, adjacent to its campus, which will enable Torrance residents to rapidly refuel EVs equipped with DC charging capabilities. The fee-based 50 kW DC Fast charger will open in early 2016 and will support both the CHAdeMO and SAE Combo standards.

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Volvo Cars introduces new compact architecture; expects electrified vehicles to be 10% of total sales by 2020

Volvo Cars will extend its range of compact cars into new segments based on its new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA)—a smaller version of Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) (earlier post). The company’s first car on CMA is expected to be launched in 2017. CMA’s introduction in 2017 means that all future Volvo cars will be built on just two fully scalable and wholly modular vehicle architectures.

The company also announced its electrification strategy in which plug-in hybrids will be introduced across its entire range. Volvo Cars will also develop an entirely new range of electrified smaller cars and build a fully electric car for sale by 2019.

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Tesla v7.0 software update boosts self-driving capabilities; Autopilot arrives

Beginning in October 2014, Tesla began equipping Model S vehicles with hardware to support the incremental introduction of self-driving technology: a forward radar; a forward-looking camera; 12 long-range ultrasonic sensors positioned to sense 16 feet around the car in every direction at all speeds; and a high-precision digitally-controlled electric assist braking system. (Earlier post.)

The company’s latest software release—Tesla Version 7.0—enables a range of new active safety and convenience features based on that hardware, designed to work in conjunction with the automated driving capabilities already offered in Model S: Lane Departure Warning; Blind Spot Warning; Intelligent Speed Assist; Traffic-Aware Cruise Control (TACC); Forward Collision Warning; and Automatic Emergency Braking.

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Toyota announces aggressive environmental targets through 2050; cutting new vehicle CO2 by 90% compared to 2010

October 14, 2015

Addressing key global environmental issues such as climate change, water shortages, resource depletion, and degradation of biodiversity, the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050 aims to reduce the negative impact of manufacturing and driving vehicles as much as possible. The challenge comprises six individual challenges across three areas: Ever-better cars, quantified as reducing global average new-vehicle CO2 emissions by 90% by 2050 compared to Toyota’s 2010 global average; ever-better manufacturing (zero CO2 emissions at all plants by 2050); and enriching the lives of communities.

As a key step toward achieving these long-term targets, Toyota is announcing its Sixth Toyota Environmental Action Plan, which will be enacted between April 2016 and the end of March 2021.

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Volkswagen: reorienting diesel strategy, new Modular Electric Toolkit, MQB push on PHEVs, electric Phaeton

October 13, 2015

The newly-formed Volkswagen Brand Board of Management has made a number of major strategic product decisions, including a reorientation of the diesel strategy to use the most advanced emission aftertreatment technologies; the development of a standardized electric architecture (Modular Electric Toolkit, MEB) for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles; and an electric next-generation Phaeton.

Further, Volkswagen will accelerate its efficiency program and cut spending by some €1 billion per year.

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Kia Motors America expands Soul EV availability to four additional states; 10 total

October 07, 2015

Following the launch of the Soul EV (earlier post) late last year in California, along with sales beginning in Georgia, Texas, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii earlier this year, Kia Motors America (KMA) is expanding availability of its fully charged urban runabout into four new states: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Maryland. KMA’s announcement will bring the total number of states selling the Soul EV to 10.

Nineteen Kia dealers will be certified to sell and service the Soul EV across these four states, and customers will have access to charging stations installed at these facilities. The Soul EV will be sold in eight New York dealerships, six New Jersey dealerships, three Maryland dealerships, and two Connecticut dealerships. From January through September, KMA has sold 727 units of the Soul EV, according to the monthly compilation by hybridcars.com.

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Proterra introduces 35-foot electric bus

October 05, 2015

Battery-electric bus manufacturer Proterra has introduced a new 35-foot vehicle based on the same technology platform as its current 40-foot Catalyst vehicle. (Earlier post.)

Tracking the broader transportation trend towards advanced safety systems, the new 35-foot Catalyst electric bus provides customers with nimble maneuvering and enhanced automated features, including collision avoidance and traction control in a smaller model for dense urban areas, building on the performance of the 40-foot Catalyst vehicle. Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) will be the first customer for the new bus, receiving seven 35-foot Catalyst FC buses and two overhead semi-autonomous fast chargers.

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

October 02, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 01, 2015

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

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

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

September 30, 2015

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

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

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

September 29, 2015

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

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

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

September 28, 2015

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

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

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

September 26, 2015

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

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

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

September 25, 2015

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

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

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

September 24, 2015

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

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

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

September 21, 2015

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

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

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

September 18, 2015

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

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

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

September 14, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 11, 2015

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

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

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

September 10, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 09, 2015

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

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

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GKN Driveline develops two new eAxles for Concept_e BEV

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

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

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

September 08, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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Fraunhofer researchers develop carbon nanotube thin film heater for EVs

September 02, 2015

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

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

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

August 30, 2015

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

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

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

August 21, 2015

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

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

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

August 20, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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