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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.]

UQM Technologies and Kinetics Drive Solutions collaborate on electric drive systems for all-electric commercial vehicles

April 23, 2014

EV3-850 combined with PowerPhase HD220. Click to enlarge.

UQM Technologies Inc. and Kinetics Drive Solutions Inc. are collaborating to offer an integrated electric motor and multi-speed transmission system for commercial vehicle applications that will benefit from a full system approach. This system is engineered to provide commercial vehicle manufacturers with an efficient electric drive powertrain while minimizing the development time for integration.

Advantages for customers will be a fully integrated and calibrated system that allows quicker time to market and reduced development time and cost, as well as fewer engineering variables. Systems will feature UQM PowerPhase HD electric motors and controllers combined with Kinetics NexDrive transmissions.

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Toyota Central R&D developing free-piston engine linear generator; envisioning multi-FPEG units for electric drive vehicles

April 22, 2014

Toyota’s FPEG features a hollow step-shaped piston, combustion chamber and gas spring chamber. Click to enlarge.

A team at Toyota Central R&D Labs Inc. is developing a prototype 10 kW Free Piston Engine Linear Generator (FPEG) featuring a thin and compact build, high efficiency and high fuel flexibility. Toyota envisions that a pair of such units (20 kW) would enable B/C-segment electric drive vehicles to cruise at 120 km/h (75 mph). The team presented two papers on the state of their work at the recent SAE 2014 World Congress in Detroit.

The FPEG consists of a two-stroke combustion chamber, a linear generator and a gas spring chamber. The piston is moved by the combustion gas, while magnets attached to the piston move within a linear coil, thereby converting kinetic energy to electrical energy. The main structural feature of the Toyota FPEG is a hollow circular step-shaped piston, which Toyota calls “W-shape”. The smaller-diameter side of the piston constitutes a combustion chamber, and the larger-diameter side constitutes a gas spring chamber.

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Daimler-BYD JV unveils battery-electric DENZA at Auto China; 47.5 kWh pack; focus on safety

April 21, 2014

DENZA. Click to enlarge.

Shenzhen BYD Daimler New Technology Co., Ltd. (BDNT) officially unveiled its DENZA all-electric vehicle at Auto China 2014, in Beijing. The world premiere of the serial production model is the culmination of cooperative efforts at the 50:50 R&D technology joint venture established by Daimler and BYD back in 2010—the first Sino-German joint venture dedicated to an all-electric vehicle in China. (Earlier post.)

DENZA is powered by an 86 kW (peak) motor that provides a maximum speed of up to 150 km/h (93 mph) and peak torque of 290 N·m. With 47.5 kWh lithium iron phosphate battery capacity, DENZA has a range of up to 300 km (186 miles). In light of the fact that the average daily driving distance in China is 50 to 80 kilometers a day, the typical customer will only have to recharge DENZA twice a week. Driving 100 km with a DENZA costs less than 20 RMB (US$3.20).

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Siemens and BAIC form JV to produce high efficiency electric powertrain systems for NEVs

Siemens AG and Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co., Ltd. (BAIC), one of the major Chinese carmakers, signed a joint venture agreement at the 2014 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition and outlined their plan to utilize Siemens’ electric drive train components in a range of BAIC new energy vehicles (NEVs).

The JV, Beijing Siemens Automotive E-Drive System Co., Ltd., will manufacture components for the electric drivetrain including power-electronics and electric motors. The new electric drivetrains consist of a safer and higher power density inverters and highly energy efficient motors. Prototype and small volume production will start in 2014, followed by mass production in a new Beijing-based factory in 2015. The production volume is planned to be more than 100,000 units per year with upside potential.

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Volkswagen Group launching major electro-mobility campaign in China; $25B on new vehicles, technologies and plants up to 2018

April 20, 2014

The Volkswagen Group is launching a major electro-mobility campaign in China—the the biggest initiative for e-mobility in China’s automotive history, said Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen AG, on the eve of the Auto China motor show in Beijing. The initiative gets underway with the launch this year of the Volkswagen brand’s battery-electric e-up! (earlier post) and e-Golf (earlier post) models.

The Porsche Panamera S E-hybrid plug-in hybrid (earlier post) is already in the showrooms in China; the Group will launch two further plug-in hybrid vehicles there next year with the Audi A3 e-tron (earlier post) and the Golf GTE (earlier post). Starting in 2016, this will be followed by two models developed specially for the Chinese market: These are the Audi A6 (earlier post) and a new mid-size limousine from the Volkswagen brand, both plug-in hybrids which are being developed together with the joint venture partners FAW Volkswagen and Shanghai Volkswagen and will be produced locally.

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Audi presents plug-in hybrid TT offroad concept car at Beijing; wireless charging

April 19, 2014

Audi TT offroad concept. Click to enlarge.

Audi is presenting an Audi TT offroad concept at the Beijing International Automobile Exhibition. Like many of the brand's new production models, the Audi TT offroad concept is also based on the versatile modular transverse matrix (MQB). The TT concept features a plug-in hybrid drive with two electric motors and a system output of 300 kW (408 hp) and 650 N·m (479 lb‑ft) of system torque.

The show car accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 5.2 seconds and reaches an electronically governed top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph). Fuel consumption is 1.9 liters per 100 kilometers (123.8 mpg US), a CO2 equivalent of 45 grams per kilometer (72.4 g/mile). The Audi TT offroad concept can drive more than 50 kilometers (31.1 miles) solely on electric power, and has a total range of up to 880 kilometers (546.8 miles).

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Volvo Cars introducing S60 plug-in hybrid concept at Beijing show; production version in early 2015

April 16, 2014

Illustration of drivetrain in the S60L plug-in hybrid concept. Click to enlarge.

Volvo Car Group (Volvo Cars) will reveal the Volvo S60L PPHEV (Petrol Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) Concept Car at the 2014 Beijing International Auto Show. A production version of the S60L plug-in hybrid will be launched in China early 2015 and will be produced at the Chengdu plant.

The S60L PPHEV Concept Car features the same electrification technology as the Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid, the first diesel plug-in hybrid, on sale in Europe. (Earlier post.) In the S60L, however, the diesel engine of the V60 has been replaced with a new, two-liter, four-cylinder gasoline turbocharged engine from Volvo Cars’ new Drive-E engine family (earlier post).

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Opbrid Bůsbaar demonstrates ultra-fast charging at 625 Amps; pathway to 2-3 minute bus charging

April 15, 2014

The infrared photo shows a temperature increase of only 9.8 degrees at the junction between the pantograph and the overhead charging rail of the Opbrid Bůsbaar at 625 A. Click to enlarge.

During recent tests of Hybricon Bus Systems’ new Arctic Whisper (HAW) urban bus in Umeå, Sweden (earlier post), the Opbrid Bůsbaar achieved ultrafast charging at 625 amps for 6 minutes. This paves the way for charging at 500 – 1000 kW or more to achieve 2- to 3-minute charges at the end stations of longer bus routes. It also allows all-electric heating and 5 – 6 minute charging for the upcoming 18 m 4WD Arctic Whisper articulated bus.

The Opbrid Bůsbaar is an overhead, pantograph-based fast-charging station for buses. In the future, this technology may enable other applications such as medium-distance electric buses or even long distance buses and trucks, the company said.

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Audi and partner FAW to cooperate on plug-in hybrid for China; Audi A6 e-tron on long-wheelbase A6

April 09, 2014

The Audi A6 L e-tron concept presented at Auto China 2012 in Beijing. Click to enlarge.

Together with its Chinese joint-venture partner FAW, Audi will launch a plug-in hybrid car for the Chinese market. The Audi A6 e-tron will be based on the long-wheelbase version of the Audi A6, which is already produced in China, and will be specially developed for the China market—Audi’s “most important,” according to the company. No details on powertrain specifications or market timing are yet available, according to Audi.

The full-size sedan will offer a 50-kilometer (31-mile) all-electric range when operating solely under battery power and is to be produced within the joint venture by FAW-Volkswagen in Changchun in northern China. In 2012, Audi unveiled an Audi A6 L e-tron concept at Auto China in Beijing with an all-electric driving range of 80 km (50 miles). At that time, Audi said that with its first e-tron technology study in the luxury class, it was showing what a locally produced New Energy Vehicle from Audi might look like.

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GM investing $449M in Hamtramck and Brownstown for next-gen electrification; vehicles and batteries

April 08, 2014

In preparation for the next generation of electric vehicles and advanced battery technologies, General Motors will invest $449 million to upgrade manufacturing processes at its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly and Brownstown Battery Assembly plants.

The investment is the largest to date at both facilities and includes $384 million at Detroit-Hamtramck for new body shop tooling, equipment, and additional plant upgrades to build the next generation Chevrolet Volt and two future products. This brings GM’s total investment at Detroit-Hamtramck to more than $1 billion over the last five years.

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DOE releases five-year strategic plan, 2014-2018; supporting “all of the above” energy strategy

The US Department of Energy (DOE) released its five-year 2014-2018 Strategic Plan. The plan is organized into 12 strategic objectives aimed at three distinct goals: Science and Energy; Nuclear Security; and Management and Performance. These objectives represent broad cross-cutting and collaborative efforts across DOE headquarters, site offices, and national laboratories.

The overarching goal for Science and Energy is: “Advance foundational science, innovate energy technologies, and inform data driven policies that enhance US economic growth and job creation, energy security, and environmental quality, with emphasis on implementation of the President’s Climate Action Plan to mitigate the risks of and enhance resilience against climate change.” Under that, the plan sketches out 3 strategic goals:

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ERTRAC publishes roadmap on energy carriers and powertrains; role for power-to-gas

April 07, 2014

Main technology trends and the vision share of engines in Europe. [ERTRAC / EUCAR] Click to enlarge.

The European Road Transport Research Advisory Council (ERTRAC) has published a new roadmap assessing energy carriers and powertrains in the context of the European target to achieve a 60% reduction in CO2 emissions from transport by 2050. ERTRAC is the European Technology Platform (ETP) for Road Transport recognized and supported by the European Commission. ERTRAC has more than 50 members, representing all the actors of the Road Transport System: transport industry, European associations, EU Member States, local authorities, European Commission services, etc.

The analysis concludes that while the goal is challenging, it is also realizable; however the overall high-level goals need to be segmented into precise targets for the different industries and stakeholders. For the topic of future road mobility these are the development of alternative and decarbonized fuels and energy carriers; and higher powertrain efficiency leading to cleaner mobility and reduction in resource demand.

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California ARB posts final modifications for ZEV rule on fast refueling/battery exchange for public comment

April 05, 2014

The staff of the California Air Resources Board (ARB) has posted for public comment current final modifications for the Zero Emission Vehicle Regulation for 15 days. (Earlier post.) Statutorily, depending upon the comments received, ARB staff may either make further modifications and resubmit to Board for further consideration; failing that, the Board will adopt the new regulatory language.

These final tweaks to the ZEV rule involve the allocation of ZEV credits for different types of ZEV vehicles and the handling of the associated fast-refueling accreditation, which includes the possible use of battery-swapping.

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Volkswagen Group’s MQB plug-in hybrid powertrain; foundation for Golf GTE, A3 e-tron, and more

April 03, 2014

The MQB plug-in hybrid powertrain serves both the A3 e-tron and the Golf GTE. Source: Volkswagen AG. Click to enlarge.

The first two mainstream plug-in hybrid electric vehicles from the Volkswagen Group—e.g., not the $845,000 base price plug-in hybrid Porsche 918, earlier post, or even the $100,000 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, earlier post—the Golf GTE (earlier post) and the A3 e-tron (earlier post), are both based on the same MQB (Modularen Querbaukasten, or modular transverse toolkit) plug-in hybrid powertrain.

The Volkswagen Group’s MQB modular toolkit is one of the four main modular toolkits (modularen Baukästen) of the Group: the MQB (transverse); the MLB (longitudinal); the MSB (standard drive); and the NSF (New Small Family). The toolkits standardize many vehicle component parameters across brands and vehicle classes, while at the same time offering access to new technologies, such as alternative drive systems. The new Mark 7 Golf, which is MQB-based, offers gasoline; diesel; natural gas; plug-in hybrid (the GTE); and battery-electric (the e-Golf) versions, all of which can be manufactured bumper-to-bumper on the same assembly line. The MQB spans the A0 to C segments.

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ZSW: more than 400,000 plug-in cars on road worldwide at beginning of 2014; 2x 2013

April 01, 2014

Accumulated number of xEVs in leading global markets. Annual growth rate over the past three years is more than 100%. Click to enlarge.

At the beginning of 2014, there were more than 400,000 electric cars—battery-electric, plug-in hybrid, and range-extended electric vehicles—on the road worldwide, according to an analysis by Zentrums für Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoff-Forschung Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) in Germany. This represents a doubling from 2013, according to ZSW.

According to ZSW, the number of registered electric vehicles worldwide has increased at an annual rate of more than 100% over the last three years. At the beginning of 2012, nearly 100,000 of the cars were on the roads worldwide. This rose year later to a total of 200,000, and then to 405,000 units earlier this year.

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Tesla adding underbody triple shield system to Model S to reduce risk of battery fires caused by impacts

March 28, 2014

In an effort to reduce further the already low risk of a Model S battery fire resulting from impact with road debris, Tesla Motors is outfitting new Model S cars (as of 6 March) with an underbody triple shield system consisting first of an aluminum bar; then a titanium shield; and finally a shallow angle solid aluminum extrusion.

Tesla will also retrofit the system, free of charge, to existing Model S cars upon request or as part of a normally scheduled service, wrote Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk in a post on the Internet publishing site Medium. The action comes as an additional Tesla response in the wake of the two widely-reported Model S collisions in 2013 that resulted in underbody damage that led to car fires. Tesla had earlier provided an over-the-air software update to increase the default ground clearance of the Model S at highway speeds, thereby also reducing the odds of a severe underbody impact.

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Walmart showcases WAVE tractor-trailer at MATS; micro-turbine range extended electric vehicle with 45.5 kWh Li-ion pack

Walmart showcased its Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience (WAVE) at the Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS) in Louisville, Ky. WAVE is a tractor-trailer combination that features leading edge aerodynamics; an advanced turbine-powered range extending series hybrid powertrain; electrified auxiliary components; and control systems.

The project aims to demonstrate a wide range of advanced technologies and designs Walmart is considering in an effort to improve the overall fuel efficiency of its fleet and lower the company’s carbon footprint. Although the prototype currently runs on diesel, its turbine is fuel-neutral and can run on compressed or liquid natural gas, biofuels or other fuels.

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JEC updates well-to-wheels study on automotive fuels and powertrains; electro-mobility, natural gas and biofuels

March 27, 2014

WTW energy expended and GHG emissions for conventional fuels ICE and hybrid vehicles shows the potential for improvement of conventional fuels and ICE based vehicles. Source: EUR 26236 EN - 2014 Click to enlarge.

Europe’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and its partners in the JEC Consortium—JRC, EUCAR (the European Council for Automotive R&D) and CONCAWE (the oil companies European association for environment, health and safety in refining and distribution)—have published a new version of the Well-to-Wheels Analysis of Future Automotive Fuels and Powertrains in the European Context. (Earlier post.)

The updated version includes a longer-term outlook by expanding the time horizon from 2010 and beyond to 2020 and beyond. It adds an assessment of electrically chargeable vehicle configurations, such as plug-in hybrid, range extended, battery and fuel-cell electric vehicles. It also introduces an update of natural gas pathways, taking into account the addition of a European shale gas pathway. Furthermore, biofuel pathways, including an entirely new approach to NOx emissions from farming, were thoroughly revised.

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Honda opens Smart Home US in California; produces more energy than it consumes; direct DC-DC EV charging

March 25, 2014

The Honda Smart Home US integrates a number of technologies, and is managed by Honda’s Home Energy Management System (HEMS). Click to enlarge.

Honda marked the opening of Honda Smart Home US, showcasing technologies that enable zero net energy living and transportation, including Honda’s home energy management system (HEMS), a proprietary hardware and software system that monitors, controls and optimizes electrical generation and consumption throughout the home’s microgrid.

The home, located on the West Village campus of the University of California, Davis, is capable of producing more energy on-site from renewable sources than it consumes annually, including enough energy to power a Honda Fit EV for daily commuting. Honda Smart Home is expected to generate a surplus of 2.6 MWh of electricity over the course of a year, while a comparable home will consume approximately 13.3 MWh. The home’s occupant will be able to use less than half of the energy of a similarly sized new home in the Davis area for heating, cooling and lighting. The home is also three times more water-efficient than a typical US home.

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BYD’s Qin plug-in hybrid the best selling automotive EV in China

March 21, 2014

2nd-generation Dual Mode (DM II) plug-in hybrid system of the Qin. Click to enlarge.

BYD’s second-generation Dual-Mode, plug-in hybrid electric sedan Qin has posted a second month of strong sales in February. Trends in March now make it “China’s Best-Selling Electric Vehicle” according to China’s National Passenger Car Association. In the first weeks of 2014, more than 6,000 Qin vehicles were sold, accounting for more than one-half of the Chinese new-energy vehicle market.

Analysts are not expecting sales to slow, as both Shanghai and Beijing announced earlier this month that they will now permit BYD new energy vehicles to qualify for local municipality green-vehicle incentives and be licensed in those regions.

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Ford installing GE WattStation chargers, charging network at facilities

March 20, 2014

Charging Network Graphic copy
The WattStation Connect network will enable Ford to gather information on charging station use. Click to enlarge.

Ford Motor Company, in conjunction with GE, will supply electric vehicle charging stations at Ford facilities nationwide, beginning with facilities in and around its headquarters. Ford will begin installing the GE WattStation Level 2 charging stations across its North American campuses, developing a workplace charging network at nearly every Ford facility in the United States and Canada.

Ford now offers three plug-in vehicles: the battery electric Focus Electric, and the C-MAX Energi and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrids. Ford Fusion Energi and C-MAX Energi drivers typically make three of their four daily trips in all-electric mode, based on data from Ford’s MyFord Mobile app. Ford estimates that its customers now have logged 65 million all-electric miles, increasing at a rate of 290,000 electric miles per day.

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Study finds no benefit to delaying or weakening ZEV policies to drive transition to electric drive

March 14, 2014

A study by a team from the Howard H. Baker Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Oak Ridge National Laboratory concludes that starting the California ZEV (Zero Emission Vehicle) mandates five years earlier or doubling their intensity increases upfront costs but also increases benefits by a greater amount.

Similarly, the study found, delaying the ZEV mandate is estimated to reduce upfront costs, but cause an even greater reduction in the present value of benefits. Even using pessimistic assumptions about future costs of electric drive technologies, the study showed no net benefit to delaying or weakening ZEV requirements. The simulations also show the important synergies between California and US transition policies, the authors noted.

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Volkswagen: e-mobility and sustainability; Part 1, the e-Golf and Golf GTE

March 13, 2014

The e-Golf. Click to enlarge.

In conjunction with its annual media and investor conference, Volkswagen is staging a two-week (8 - 21 March) e-mobility event at Berlin-Tempelhof. Although the company (both the brand and the larger Volkswagen Group) has been researching electromobility for a number of years; has previously outlined accelerating implementation of electric drive projects (e.g., earlier post); and currently has two battery-electric passenger cars on the market (e-Up! and e-Golf) with other plug-in models following, the event marks a very large and public stake in the ground, in terms of defining the current and future importance of e-mobility for Volkswagen.

At the event, Volkswagen is presenting its new battery electric e-Golf (earlier post), along with the battery-electric e-up! (earlier post) and a pre-production prototype of the plug-in hybrid electric Golf GTE (earlier post). Although the other electric-drive vehicles are prominent, the focus is on the new e-Golf—the first electric version of the most successful European car.

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BMW i8 customer demand exceeding planned production; improved fuel consumption

March 11, 2014

Series production of the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid (earlier post) begins in April, with delivery of the first customer cars to start in June 2014, beginning with the main European markets. Customers have already been able to place pre-orders for the BMW i8 in all major markets since autumn 2013; BMW says that demand for the BMW i8 is already exceeding the planned production volume during ramp-up.

In the run-up to production and delivery, in parallel to the completion of the statutory type approval, BMW engineers were able further to improve key driving performance and fuel consumption data. With the BMW eDrive in plug-in hybrid configuration, the i8 combines a 0–100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration time of 4.4 seconds with an EU test cycle average fuel consumption of 2.1 liter/100 km (112 mpg US) and CO2 emissions of 49 g/km. The related electricity consumption was measured at 11.9 kWh per 100 km. BMW had originally anticipated combined test-cycle fuel consumption of 2.5 l/100km (94 mpg US).

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Volkswagen Group’s new Future Tracks program targeting digitalization era in auto industry; “James 2025”

March 10, 2014

At the Geneva Motor Show and now at the IT trade fair CeBIT in Hanover, Germany, Volkswagen Group executive management has begun to outline its “Future Tracks” program which will address, among other things, what Chairman of the Board of Management Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn calls an approaching new era of digitalization.

In an address at the opening ceremony of CeBIT 2014 in Hanover in the presence of Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel, the British Prime Minister David Cameron, the Minister-President of Lower Saxony Stephan Weil and Prof. Dieter Kempf, President of BITKOM, the IT industry Association, Winterkorn declared that the increasingly intensive networking of cars with their surroundings and automatic driving would be the key topics for the intelligent mobility of the future.

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nanoFLOWCELL unveils flow cell battery prototype vehicle

March 05, 2014

Powertrain of the QUANT. The two 200L (400L, 106 gallons US total) electrolyte tanks are packaged in the rear and central tunnel of the vehicle. Click to enlarge.

Liechtenstein-based nanoFLOWCELL unveiled the QUANT e-Sportslimousine, a prototype vehicle equipped with a nanoFLOWCELL flow cell battery powertrain, at the Geneva Motor Show. This flow cell system supports an electric driving range of between 400 to 600 km (249 to 373 miles) in the QUANT e-Sportlimousine prototype, the company claims.

Flow cells or flow batteries combine aspects of an electrochemical battery cell with those of a fuel cell. The electrolytic fluids in flow cells—usually metallic salts in aqueous solution—are pumped from tanks through the cell. This forms a kind of battery cell with a cross-flow of electrolyte liquid. One advantage of this system in general is that the larger the storage tanks for the electrolyte fluid are, the greater the energy capacity. Too, the concentration of an electrolytic solution contributes to the the quantity of energy that it transports.

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Nissan introduces the e-NV2000 electric van

March 04, 2014

e-NV200. Click to enlarge.

Nissan introduced the Nissan e-NV200 battery-electric compact commercial van (earlier post), the second battery-electric vehicle in its global line-up, joining the Nissan LEAF.

The e-NV200’s electric drivetrain, based on that used in the LEAF, is combined with the cargo volume of the NV200 to create a practical and versatile vehicle capable of carrying people or goods. Although based on significant elements of the two existing vehicles, e-NV200 is a bespoke vehicle with a unique part count of more than 30%. When sales start in June, e-NV200 will be available as a van or as a five-seat people carrier in Combi or more luxurious Evalia guises.

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Volkswagen to introduce Passat Plug-in hybrid “soon”; Group electrifying more than 40 more models over next few years

In remarks before the opening of the Geneva Motora Show, Volkswagen Group Chairman of the Board of Management Prof. Dr. Winterkorn said that a plug-in hybrid version of the Volkswagen Passat would join the Group’s range of low-CO2 vehicles “soon.”

In his remarks, Winterkorn noted that Group research and development expenditure rose by 15% last year to the record value of €10.2 billion (US $14 billion), with the “lion’s share going to green technologies.” Winterkorn said that the Group was reinforcing its objective to become the world’s leading automaker, also in ecological terms, by 2018.

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Kia using SK Innovation NCM Li-ion cells in Soul EV

February 24, 2014

Kia is using lithium-ion polymer battery cells supplied by SK Inovation in the battery pack for the new Soul EV (earlier post). The pack, featuring an energy density of 200 Wh/kg (on the high end of specific energy ratings for current EVs), is the result of a three-year joint development program between Kia Motors Corporation and SK Innovation in Korea. The Soul EV offers a driving range of around 200 km (124 miles) on a single charge.

Engineers from Kia developed the pack with 192 SK lithium-ion polymer battery cells in eight modules, for a total capacity of 27 kWh. The pack incorporates advanced thermal control technology to maintain individual cells at optimum temperature and structural design to enhance crash worthiness.

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Study finds 20-25% of EV range lost as psychological safety buffer; driver assistance systems could shrink that buffer

February 23, 2014

Adaptive control of range resources. Drivers compare the current range situation with their range level reference values, which are driven by certain trait and coping skill variables. As a result, coping strategies are adapted (e.g., drive more economically, do not use EV). This leads to a certain efficiency of range utilization. Source: Franke (2014) Click to enlarge.

Between 20 to 25% of the potential range of an electric vehicle is lost as a psychological safety buffer, according to a study by a doctoral candidate at Technische Universität Chemnitz in Germany. The results of the study, which also suggested that assistance systems could reduce the size of that buffer, were based on more than 400,000 km (249,000 miles) of user experience gathered in the research project “MINI E Berlin powered by Vattenfall”. (Earlier post.)

The MINI E project was funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. The Professorship of Cognitive and Engineering Psychology of TU Chemnitz was involved in the project from the start, alongside with BMW and Vattenfall and other university partners. During the field study a total of 79 users drove the MINI E for six months. The psychologists of TU Chemnitz conducted qualitative interviews at several points in time. In addition, questionnaires, diary methods and data loggers were used.

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Update on Honda/GM fuel cell partnership; “It’s about cost reduction”

February 21, 2014

In July 2013, General Motors and Honda announced a long-term, definitive master agreement to co-develop next-generation fuel cell system and hydrogen storage technologies, aiming for the 2020 time frame. (Earlier post.) At the SAE 2014 Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Technologies Symposium, Mark Mathias, Director, Fuel Cell R&D for GM, provided an update on the collaboration, as well as a brief dive into the technical drivers behind the ongoing automotive efforts on fuel cell propulsion related to the scaling properties of batteries and fuel cells.

The GM/Honda partnership is about cost reduction, Mathias said. “We have vehicles now that work and can be durable, it’s really now about making a business out of the technology. Obviously it involves both the vehicle and the infrastructure and the hydrogen supply, so there are a lot of elements to this.

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Zytek lightweight electric powertrain for Yamaha’s MOTIV.e city car concept

Zytek’s lightweight 25kW powertrain drives the Yamaha MOTIV.e through a Vocis single ratio transmission. A further development of the electric machine will deliver more power and torque from the same compact package. Click to enlarge.

Yamaha’s new MOTIV.e city car concept, shown at the Tokyo motorshow, is powered by an electric drive system from Zytek that employs a range of new design approaches to minimize the cost, weight and size of the powertrain while maximizing the performance and range. By supplying a number of core high-voltage components as an optimized system, Zytek is also minimizing the time required for vehicle development.

MOTIV.e comes from the partnership between Yamaha and Gordon Murray Design, using Murray’s iStream manufacturing technology; Murray has partnered in the past with Zytek on the T.27 City Car—the technology basis for the MOTIV.e. (Earlier post). Zytek Automotive, a specialist EV/HEV/fuel cell engineering consultancy, is a subsidiary of Continental, the global powertrain, chassis and interior products supplier.

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BMW provides initial look at X5 eDrive plug-in hybrid prototype

February 20, 2014

BMW X5 plug-in hybrid prototype at Efficient Dynamics Innovation Days 2014. Click to enlarge.

At BMW’s Efficient Dynamics Innovation Days 2014 in Germany, the company provided the first opportunities for test-driving the BMW X5 eDrive plug-in hybrid (PHEV) prototype (earlier post). BMW also presented the first four-cylinder member of its new EfficientDyanamics engine family—the 2.0-liter unit would serve as the engine component in a future production X5 eDrive PHEV—as well as ideas for future solutions in the field of lightweight design, aerodynamics and thermal management.

Powertrain technology is key to BMW’s EfficientDynamics strategy, with a dual focus on the continuous evolution of conventional internal combustion engines on the one hand and the development of alternative drive concepts on the other. As well as achieving significant emissions reductions based on continuous evolutionary advances of the TwinPower Turbo gasoline and diesel engines, future BMW core brand models will also benefit from the transfer of new electrified drive technology (BMW eDrive) developed by the BMW i sub-brand.

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Tesla shipped 6,892 Model S units in Q4 2013, 22,477 full year; battery Gigafactory announcement next week

Tesla Motors announced record deliveries of 6,892 Model S vehicles worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2013, with 22,477 vehicles in the full year. For the quarter, non-GAAP revenue was $761 million, up 26% from Q3. GAAP revenue for Q4 was $615 million, up 43% from Q3. Q4 non-GAAP net income was $46 million, or $0.33 per share, while Q4 GAAP net loss was $16 million or $(0.13) per share.

The differences between GAAP and non-GAAP are primarily due to lease accounting for resale value guarantee (RVG) and employee stock-based compensation as a result of the increase in stock price last year. The results show Tesla moving closer to break-even or profitability even on a GAAP basis. (GAAP net loss per share for the quarter ending 30 Sep 2013 was $(0.32), and for Q4 of 2012, $(0.79). For the full 2013 calendar year, net loss per share $(0.62), while for all of 2012, it was $(3.69).

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New 3-speed EV powertrain to offer 10-15% improvement in EV range

February 19, 2014

Compared to a single-speed EV or HEV transmission, DSD’s MSYS 3-speed system provides a 40% weight saving and 10-15% lower energy consumption. Click to enlarge.

UK-based Drive System Design is developing a new EV powertrain based on an alternate approach to powershifting (no torque interrupt) achieved by separating the existing functions of a synchronizer. The integrated design of an axial flux YASA motor (earlier post) with the multi-speed transmission contributes to simplification of the motor cooling system, electrical architecture and powertrain control system.

The MSYS system can mean a 10-15% improvement in the range of electric vehicles, the company says. (Earlier post.) The company was recently showcased at the Cleantech Innovate 2014 event by the UK’s LowCVP organization (Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership), along with 7 other companies. DSD was the winner of a LowCVP commendation as the most impressive of the road transport-focused entries.

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Study finds that EV-specific factors rather than socio-demographic variables better predictors of EV uptake

A study by researchers at the Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands) examining the impact of financial incentives and other socio-economic factors on electric vehicle (both plug-in hybrids and battery electrics) adoption in 30 countries found that financial incentives; the number of charging stations (corrected for population); and the presence of a local manufacturing facility were positive and significant in predicting EV adoption rates for the countries studied.

Of those, charging infrastructure was the best predictor of a country’s EV market share. However, the team cautions in their paper in Energy Policy, descriptive analyses indicated how country-specific factors such as government procurement plans or the target recipient of subsidies can significantly affect the adoption rate. In other words, neither financial incentives nor charging infrastructure ensure high electric vehicle adoption rates. However, on the whole, they conclude, the analysis tentatively endorses financial incentives and charging infrastructure as a way to encourage EV adoption.

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MHI to supply 2 electric buses featuring MLIX Li-ion batteries for Kitakyushu City

February 17, 2014

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) will supply two electric buses to serve in a transportation system being planned by the city of Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan. The buses—full-size, low-floor models for the city’s regular route network—will operate on MHI’s high-performance “MLIX” lithium-ion rechargeable batteries.

In combination with a lighter body enabled by the partial adoption of carbon fiber construction, the new buses will be able to operate continuously over increased distances—up to 80 kilometers (50 miles) on a full charge, at a top speed of 85 km/h (53 mph). Load capacity is 72 passengers.

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Volkswagen launches the battery-electric e-Golf in Germany; “Das e-Auto”

February 15, 2014

The e-Golf shown at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in January. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen has launched the battery-electric version of the Golf, the e-Golf, in Germany with immediate availability. (Earlier post.) In launching the new e-Golf, Volkswagen is bringing the most successful European car ever onto the market as a full production electric vehicle. The e-Golf, sporting signature LED headlights, is available from €34,900 (US$47,796), including an 8-year / 160,000-kilometer (99,419-mile) battery warranty.

The launch of the e-Golf marks Volkswagen’s second electric vehicle brought to market inside six months; the first was the e-up!. (Earlier post.) The e-Golf features low power consumption of 12.7 kWh/100 km (the frugal e-up! offers power consumption of 11.7 kWh/100 km). As a comparison, the Nissan LEAF consumes 15 kWh/100 km (in accordance with UN/ECE Regulation 101).

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Toyota to begin wireless vehicle charging system verification testing

February 13, 2014

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) will begin verification testing of its newly developed wireless battery charging system for plug-in electric vehicles—such as plug-in hybrids and battery-electric vehicles—in late February in Aichi Prefecture, Japan. The system can charge a vehicle parked in alignment over a coil on the surface of the ground, making the charging process simpler and more convenient.

The charging system uses magnetic-resonance technology, which transmits electricity by utilizing the magnetic resonance resulting from changes in magnetic field intensity between a coil on the ground that transmits and a coil on the vehicle that receives.

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Calif. ARB releases GHG scoping plan update; more ZEVs, “LEV IV”, MD and HD regulations; ZEV for trucks; more LCFS

February 11, 2014

The California Air Resources Board released the draft proposed first update to the AB 32 Scoping Plan, which guides development and implementation of California’s greenhouse gas emission reduction programs. The Air Resources Board is required to update the Scoping Plan every five years.

Among the actions proposed or considered in the transportation sector include aggressive implementation of the light-duty Zero Emission Vehicle standard; LEV IV emissions regulations for the light-duty fleet post-2025 (GHG reductions of about 5% per year); Phase 2 GHG regulations for medium and heavy-duty (MD and HD) vehicles; a possible ZEV regulation for trucks; more stringent carbon reduction targets for the Low Carbon Fuel Standard; and others.

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Sumitomo installs first large-scale power system using used EV batteries

February 08, 2014

Sumitomo Corporation has developed and installed the first large-scale power storage system which utilizes used batteries collected from electric vehicles. This commercial scale storage system, built on Yume-shima Island, Osaka, will begin operating in February 2014.

Sumitomo Corporation created the joint venture company, 4R Energy Corporation, in collaboration with Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. in September 2010, to address the secondary use of EV lithium-ion batteries. (Earlier post.) The used EV batteries that will be recycled into this large-scale storage system have been recovered and have gone through thorough inspection and maintenance at 4R, to confirm safety and performance. This prototype system (600kW/400kWh) consists of sixteen used EV batteries.

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Renault unveils Next Two autonomous electric vehicle prototype for 2020

February 06, 2014

The Next Two prototype. Click to enlarge.

Renault has unveiled the Next Two concept—the company’s current vision of an autonomous drive (AD) capable electric vehicle for the year 2020.

The Next Two prototype—based on a Renault ZOE—focuses on two areas: the delegation of driving functions under certain conditions and connectivity. Using sensor technologies, Next Two enables the delegation of driving functions from the driver to the car in congested traffic up to km/h (18.6 mph) on main roads. It also offers an Automated Valet Parking function which permits the vehicle to park itself completely autonomously in car parks equipped to cater for automated vehicles. This includes both finding a parking place and the necessary maneuvering.

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Kia unveils Soul EV at Chicago Auto Show

Soul EV. Click to enlarge.

Kia Motors America (KMA) introduced the 2015 Soul EV at the Chicago Auto Show. Scheduled to go on sale in the third quarter of 2014, the Soul EV will be Kia’s first battery-electric car sold in the US. Kia also highlighted its Niro hybrid concept along with the 2014 Optima hybrid at the event.

The Soul EV is equipped with a 27kWh, air-cooled, 200 Wh/kg Li-ion polymer battery pack located beneath the floor. Kia expects the pack to support a range of approximately 80-100 miles (129-161 km) of real-world driving on a full charge. Internal testing and evaluation showed results exceeding 100 miles in some instances.

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Alcoa and Phinergy enter joint development agreement for high energy-density aluminum-air batteries

February 05, 2014

Alcoa and Israel-based Phinergy have entered into a joint development agreement to develop further Phinergy’s aluminum-air batteries. Announced at the Advanced Automotive Battery Conference in Atlanta, the partnership will collaborate on new materials, processes and components to commercialize the aluminum-air battery, which could significantly extend electric vehicle range.

Aluminium–air cells are high-energy density primary (non-rechargeable) batteries originally developed in the 1960s. Aluminum-air batteries (a type of metal-air cell) use a catalytic air cathode in combination with an electrolyte and an aluminum anode; the systems offer a theoretical specific energy of 8.1 kWh/kg of Al—second only to the Li-air battery (13.0 kWh/kg). (Earlier post.)

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Renault introduces ZE-ready concept with drone Flying Companion; targeting new markets

The KWID CONCEPT comes with a Flying Companion drone stored on the roof. Click to enlarge.

Renault unveiled the KWID CONCEPT at the Delhi Auto Show—the first Renault concept car unveiled outside Europe. The KWID CONCEPT features a “Flying Companion”—a small drone that can be operated in one of two modes. Automatic mode uses a pre-programmed flying sequence and GPS location; manual mode enables the companion to be controlled using a dashboard-integrated tablet.

The Flying Companion is the first of its kind in the automotive world. It takes off from the rotating rear portion of the KWID CONCEPT’s roof. Renault suggests that the Flying Companion could be used for a variety of purposes, including scouting traffic, taking landscape pictures and detecting obstacles on the road ahead.

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IHS Automotive forecasts global production of plug-in vehicles to rise by 67% this year

February 04, 2014

Global electric vehicle production forecast for 2014. Source: IHS Automotive. Click to enlarge.

Driven by tighter emission standards in Europe, worldwide production of plug-in electric vehicles(PEVs)—including both battery-electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models—will increase by 67% this year, according to IHS Automotive, driven by Polk. The jump in the PEV market this year contrasts with an expected 3.6% rise in global manufacturing of all motor vehicles expected in 2014.

Total production of PEVs is projected to rise to more than 403,000 this year, up from slightly more than 242,000 in 2013. Growth will accelerate sharply from the 44% increase in 2013, based on data from the new IHS Automotive Hybrid-EV Portal. In December 2013, IHS projected total global automotive sales in 2014 of 85 million, roughly resulting in an expected approximate 0.5% share for PEVs in the global market this year.

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EVDrive demonstrates 4-wheel 4-motor torque vectoring technology for electric UTVs

January 27, 2014

EVDrive Overview - PUBLIC
EVDrive torque vectoring. Click to enlarge.

EVDrive has developed and demonstrated an electric 4-wheel, 4-motor torque vectoring technology (Terra-Torque-Drive) specifically targeted at 4-wheel off-road powersports vehicles such as side-by-side Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTVs).

The Terra-Torque-Drive-powered e-UTV demonstrator uses four sealed liquid-cooled EVDrive EVD35 35kW/47hp peak drive sub-systems, de-tuned to ~30kW/hp each or delivering a total of ~160hp/120kW peak. At each motor shaft, ~66 ft-lbs (89 N·m) peak torque is delivered. The 4 gearboxes allow ratio changes with off-the-shelf gearsets. With the currently installed single speed gearsets at the CV joint of each wheel, 726 ft-lbs (984 N·m) peak torque is delivered. This is the kind of torque necessary to perform Zero Radius Turns with a fully loaded vehicle and perhaps even some extreme rock climbing.

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Initial results from first phase of road trials for 40-ft BYD electric bus in Canada

January 25, 2014

2013 STO-AVT electric bus test results chart: BYD Electric Bus energy consumption (Wh/km) over speed (km/h). Click to enlarge.

The first phase of a ten-month trial for a 40-foot BYD battery-electric bus (which commenced the Summer of 2013) was completed in Gatineau, Québec and Ottawa, Ontario in December. (Although the bus drive is zero-emissions, in frigid weather bus-heating was supplemented with a small diesel heater integrated into the bus).

The evaluation, performed by the Société de transport de l’Outaouais (STO) in conjunction with AVT (the Société de gestion et d’acquisition de véhicules de transport), found that the average speed of drivers on Gatineau and Ottawa routes was 23 km/h (14 mph), and the resulting distance the BYD bus could travel at this average speed was 250 km (155 miles)—the equivalent of 1.3 kWh/km without air-conditioning and 1.5 kWh/km with air-conditioning, and full passenger loads).

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CMU researchers find controlled charging of PHEVs can cut cost of integration into electricity system by 54-73%; higher benefits with wind power

January 24, 2014

In a new study published in the journal Applied Energy, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) researchers found that controlled charging of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) reduces the costs of integrating the vehicles into an electricity system by 54–73% depending on the scenario.

More specifically, controlled charging can cut the cost of integrating PHEVs approximately in half. The magnitude of these savings is ~5% to 15% higher in a system with 20% wind penetration compared to a system with no wind power, and the savings are 50–60% higher in a system that requires capacity expansion.

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DOE to award $49.4M for advanced vehicle technologies research; meeting Tier 3 emissions

January 22, 2014

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award $49.4 million to projects to to accelerate research and development of new vehicle technologies. The new program-wide funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0000991) (earlier post), was announced by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz at the Washington Auto Show.

The funding opportunity will contains a total of 13 areas of interest in the general areas of advanced light-weighting; advanced battery development; power electronics; advanced heating, ventilation, air conditioning systems; advanced powertrains (including the ability to meet proposed EPA Tier 3 tailpipe emissions standards); and fuels and lubricants. These areas of interest apply to light, medium and heavy duty on-road vehicles.

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Mayor of London: all new London taxis will need to be zero-emission capable from 2018

January 16, 2014

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, announced plans that would require all new taxis presented for licensing in the capital to be zero-emission capable from 1 January 2018, with the expectation that they will automatically operate in zero-emission mode while in areas where the capital’s air quality is at its worst—such as parts of central London.

The Mayor confirmed his plan at Transport for London’s (TfL’s) “New Taxis for London” event, at which he met five manufacturers developing zero emission capable taxis—Frazer-Nash, Nissan, Karsan, London Taxi Company and Mercedes-Benz. The new zero-emission capable taxis being developed include both plug-in full series hybrid vehicles and full electric models.

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Comprehensive modeling study finds electric drive vehicle deployment has little observed effect on US system-wide emissions

January 15, 2014

The results of a new, comprehensive modeling study characterizing light-duty electric drive vehicle (EDV) deployment in the US over 108 discrete scenarios do not demonstrate a clear and consistent trend toward lower system-wide emissions of CO2, SO2, and NOx as EDV deployment increases.

As explained in their paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, the researchers from North Carolina State Univesity and the University of Minnesota found that, while the scenario parameters can influence EDV deployment—even to a most extreme scenario of adoption—this EDV deployment does not in turn produce a discernible effect on total system-wide emissions. There are three reasons for this lack of observed effect, they concluded: (1) at present the overall share of emissions from the LDV sector is only 20% of US CO2 emissions; (2) EDV charging can still produce comparable emissions to conventional vehicles depending on the grid mix; and (3) the effect of other sectors on emissions is significant.

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SwRI develops first ERCOT-qualified vehicle-to-grid aggregation system

SwRI’s V2G aggregation system allows electric delivery truck fleet owners to make money by using normal vehicle charge times to assist in managing grid frequency. This laboratory test framework, using light bulbs in place of the vehicle chargers, allows SwRI engineers to continue to test and fine-tune the system post-deployment. Click to enlarge.

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has deployed the first vehicle-to-grid (V2G) aggregation system qualified by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) to manage charging activities for a fleet of electric delivery trucks. The SwRI system suspends vehicle charging when the electric grid frequency drops too far below 60 Hertz, the normal operating frequency. This novel smart grid system demonstrates enabling technologies to support stable electric power delivery.

Electricity is difficult to store yet has to be available on demand. Because supply and demand across a grid vary continuously, organizations such as ERCOT coordinate power through various suppliers to maintain frequency levels and make rapid adjustments when the frequency falls outside the normal range. Alternative energy supplies, such as wind energy, can be especially variable, so the SwRI-developed technology is particularly useful for integrating these green technologies into the energy infrastructure.

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FTA to award up to $24.9M to low- or no-emissions transit bus projects

January 10, 2014

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced the availability of $24.9 million of Fiscal Year 2013 funds (FTA-2014-001-TRI) for the deployment of low- or no-emission (LoNo) transit buses. Of that amount, $21.6 million is available for buses and $3.3 million is available for supporting facilities and related equipment.

The LoNo Program provides funding for transit agencies for capital acquisitions and leases of zero emission and low-emission transit buses, including acquisition, construction, and leasing of required supporting facilities such as recharging, refueling, and maintenance facilities.

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Plug Power to develop H2 fuel cell range extenders for FedEx Express electric delivery trucks

January 09, 2014

Plug Power Inc., the leading provider of hydrogen fuel cell technology to the materials handling market, will develop hydrogen fuel cell range extenders for 20 FedEx Express electric delivery trucks, allowing FedEx Express to nearly double the amount of territory the vehicles can cover with one charge. (Earlier post.)

This $3-million project is funded by the US Department of Energy (DOE) and includes project partners FedEx Express, Plug Power and Smith Electric Vehicles. The resulting hybrid vehicles will be powered by lithium-ion batteries and a 10 kW Plug Power hydrogen fuel cell system. The fuel cell solution is based on Plug Power’s GenDrive Series 1000 product architecture.

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Navigant Research forecasts new EV global sales of > 346,000 units in 2014; 10 predictions for the year

January 08, 2014

During 2014, the global plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) industry is poised to grow by 86% and will surpass more than 346,000 new vehicles sold, according to a new white paper—“Electric Vehicles: 10 Predictions for 2014”—published by Navigant Research. This would bring the global total of PEVs on the road to more than 700,000 by the end of the year, according to the firm’s calculations.

Broadly, Navigant expects expansion in both the higher end of the market (thereby putting competitive pressure on Tesla Motors), as Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Mercedes, Saab, and Volvo introduce their first plug-in cars. More mainstream models will come from Kia, Mahindra, Škoda, and Volkswagen. North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific will continue to drive PEV sales, as the technology will have only limited availability in the emerging markets of Latin America and Africa.

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Researchers call for major change in US policies supporting plug-ins; failure of “mainstream consumer bias”

January 06, 2014

Although sales of plug-in vehicles (plug-in hybrid-electric and battery-electric vehicles, collectively PEVs) in the US climbed more than 80% in 2013 to more than 96,000 units (Tesla has not yet released its final figures) from 52,835 units in 2012 EDTA), the 2013 results still reflect a meagre new light-duty vehicle market share of ~0.6% for PEVs.

In a paper published in the journal Energy Policy, Erin Green of Green Energy Consulting; Steven Skerlos of the University of Michigan; and James Winebrake of the Rochester Institute of Technology argue that current US policies intended to promote the uptake of plug-in electric vehicles haven proven inefficient and ineffective. Suggesting that “mainstream consumer bias” is an explanation for the policy deficiencies that have resulted in slower than expected market penetration of PEVs, they propose an alternative policy agenda including the leveraging of strategic market niches, targeted R&D and incentives, and loans.

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Tsinghua team develops zinc-air fuel cell stack with high power density

December 29, 2013

Researchers at Tsinghua University have developed a high-power-density zinc-air fuel cell (ZAFC) stack using an inexpensive manganese dioxide (MnO2) catalyst with potassium hydroxide (KOH) electrolyte. As reported in a paper in the Journal of Power Sources, they achieved peak power in a ZAFC stack as high as 435 mW cm-2.

They also reported that the time required for voltages to reach steady state and for current step-up or step-down are in milliseconds, indicating that the ZAFC could be applied to vehicles with rapid dynamic response demands.

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California ISO publishes roadmap for integrating EVs into grid

December 28, 2013

Summary of the path to enable EVs to provide grid services. Source: CA ISO. Click to enlarge.

The California Independent System Operator Corporation (ISO) has released a blueprint for integrating electric vehicles (EVs) into the grid: “California Vehicle-Grid Integration Roadmap: Enabling Vehicle-based Grid Services”.

The VGI blueprint outlines three inter-dependent tracks to assess how consumer use of electric vehicles could benefit electric reliability, and to determine policies and technologies necessary to elicit that value through appropriate market signals for a more reliable, sustainable electric grid.

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Two case studies outline how Houston and Loveland are saving money with EVs in their fleets

December 17, 2013

The Electrification Coalition released two case studies outlining how two cities—Houston, Texas and Loveland, Colorado—are saving money by using electric vehicles (EVs) in their vehicle fleets. The Electrification Coalition, launched in November 2009, is committed to promoting policies and actions that facilitate the deployment of electric vehicles on a mass scale in order to combat the economic, environmental, and national security threats posed by US dependence on petroleum. (Earlier post.)

City officials in Houston estimate that the city’s 27 Nissan LEAF electric vehicles will save the city $110,000 annually compared to internal combustion engine vehicles. A similar study examining Loveland, Colo. found that the city’s LEAFs will cost 41% less to own and operate than gasoline-powered vehicles.

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EIA: light duty vehicle energy consumption to drop 25% by 2040; increased oil production, vehicle efficiency reduce US oil and liquid imports

December 16, 2013

Energy consumption by light-duty vehicles in the United States, AEO2013 and AEO2014, 1995-2040 (quadrillion Btu). LDV energy consumption declines in AEO2014 Reference case from 16.0 quadrillion Btu in 2012 to 12.1 quadrillion Btu in 2040, compared with 13.0 quadrillion Btu in 2040 in the AEO2013 Reference case. Source: EIA. Click to enlarge.

Reflecting slow growth in travel and accelerated vehicle efficiency improvements, US light-duty vehicle (LDV, cars and light trucks) energy use will decline sharply between 2012 and 2040, according to the US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA’s) Annual Energy Outlook 2014 (AEO2014) Reference case released today.

AEO2014 includes a new, detailed demographic profile of driving behavior by age and gender as well as new lower population growth rates based on updated Census projections. As a result, annual increases in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in LDVs average 0.9% from 2012 to 2040, compared to 1.2% per year over the same period in AEO2013. The rising fuel economy of LDVs more than offsets the modest growth in VMT, resulting in a 25% decline in LDV energy consumption decline between 2012 and 2040 in the AEO2014 Reference case.

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EPA trends report sees record levels of average new vehicle fuel economy and CO2 emissions for MY 2012; role of new gasoline vehicle technologies

December 13, 2013

Manufacturer-specific technology adoption over time for key technologies. EPA projects advanced transmissions (6+ speeds and CVTs), gasoline direct injection (GDI) systems, and turbocharged engines will be installed on at least 15% of all MY 2013 vehicles. Click to enlarge.

Average new vehicle CO2 emissions rate and fuel economy in the US achieved record levels in MY 2012, and have improved in 7 of the last 8 years, according to the newly released Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 - 2013 (the annual “Trends” report) from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The majority of the emissions and fuel savings from current vehicles, EPA noted, is due to new gasoline vehicle technologies.

The final model year (MY) 2012 adjusted, real world CO2 emissions rate is 376 g/mi—a 22 g/mi decrease (-5.5%) relative to MY 2011. MY 2012 adjusted fuel economy is 23.6 mpg (9.97 l/100 km), which is 1.2 mpg higher (+5.4%) than MY 2011. Both values represent all-time records since the database began in MY 1975, and the authors of the report believe that these represent historical records as well. The 1.2 mpg fuel economy improvement from MY 2011 to MY 2012 is the second largest annual improvement in the last 30 years.

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DOE awards $98M in tax credits to automakers and suppliers for clean technology manufacturing

December 12, 2013

The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced $150 million in clean energy tax credits to 12 businesses to build US capabilities in clean energy manufacturing; $98 million of that goes to five automakers and suppliers towards investments in domestic manufacturing equipment. The awards are made through the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit program (48C Program).

The Departments of Energy and the Treasury worked in partnership to develop, launch, and award the funds for this program. The Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit authorized Treasury to provide developers with an investment tax credit of 30% for the manufacture of particular types of energy equipment. Funded at $2.3 billion, the tax credit was made available to 183 domestic clean energy manufacturing facilities during Phase I of the program.

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Protean Electric and FAW-VW developing production-intent electric propulsion system with in-wheel motors

Cutaway of the Protean Electric in-wheel motor. Click to enlarge.

In-wheel electric drive developer Protean Electric is partnering with FAW-Volkswagen Automotive Co., Ltd. (FAW-VW) in China to develop a new electric propulsion system that will include Protean Electric’s Protean Drive with intent towards a demonstration vehicle program and production.

FAW-VW will create a new rear-wheel drivetrain for an electric vehicle (EV) based on the new Bora compact sedan, utilizing two Protean in-wheel motors. This cooperation began several months ago; all bench testing, engineering calibration and on-site application support is expected to be completed within a year. Protean Electric will also assist FAW-VW in the development of safety and vehicle controls that can be applied to additional vehicle programs.

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La Poste testing hydrogen fuel cell range extenders in Renault Kangoo Z.E. mail delivery vehicles

December 11, 2013

Symbio ALP-5 range extender. Click to enlarge.

The Franche-Comté region and La Poste (the French postal service) are testing hydrogen fuel cell range extender kits from Symbio FCell in three Renault Kangoo Z.E. electric mail delivery vehicles under real working conditions. This system is expected to double the range of the electric cars used for postal delivery.

The three Kangoos Z.E.s with fuel cell range extenders (HyKangoos) will be deployed in the first quarter of 2014 on mail delivery platforms. These vehicles, with a combination of a hydrogen fuel cell and batteries, offer an extended range that performs under demanding conditions: mail routes of 100 km (62 miles) or more through the cold, hilly and mountainous terrain. (The Franche-Comté region borders on Switzerland, with the Vosges mountains to the north and the Jura to the south.)

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INL releases results of testing of Evatran Plugless 3.3 kW Level 2 wireless charging system

System efficiency at 100mm gap for 3.3kW output plotted against primary coil position relative to secondary coil (mm). Source: INL. Click to enlarge.

Idaho National Laboratory researchers recently released independent testing results of a wireless charging system designed for plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). The system tested, Evatran’s Plugless 3.3 kW Level 2 Charging System, uses inductive technology to wirelessly charge a PEV’s traction battery, which powers the vehicle. The Plugless system is the first wireless power transfer technology to be independently documented and published.

INL researchers performed 2,600 separate tests of Evatran’s Plugless Level 2 Charging System, which included testing at different distances and varying alignments, said Jim Francfort, INL’s principal investigator for advanced technology vehicles. INL continues to conduct independent testing of PEVs and charging systems.

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Honda joins vehicle-to-grid technology demonstration project in partnership with University of Delaware and NRG Energy

December 05, 2013

Honda has joined a demonstration project for experimental vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology aimed at providing a potentially valuable energy storage resource to the electrical grid while providing for more cost-effective ownership of plug-in electric vehicles.

The Honda technology builds off of the research conducted by the University of Delaware and now supported by NRG Energy, Inc. through their eV2g joint venture (earlier post). eV2g came online early in 2013 with the first revenue-generating vehicle-to-grid project, demonstrating the controls, regulatory requirements, and market participation rules for selling energy storage from vehicles into the PJM Interconnection Regulation Market. (Earlier post.)

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Mitsubishi slashes prices of 2014 i-MiEV by 21% ($6K), offers more standard features

Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. (MMNA) is reducing the price of the MY 2014 i-MiEV battery electric vehicle by 21% ($6,130) from the previous 2012 vehicle and delivering an expanded standard equipment package with it. The 2014 model year Mitsubishi i-MiEV ES model including CHAdeMO DC quick charge port, battery warming system and heated side view mirrors now starts at $22,995.

After factoring in the Federal tax credit of $7,500, the net MSRP of the 2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEV drops down to only $15,495. Adding in the California state EV financial incentive of up to $2,500 (other generous financial incentives are available through numerous states and municipalities), residents in California can obtain the 2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEV for as low as $12,995.

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Nissan testing LEAF as electrical power storage and supply for office buildings; LEAF-to-Building a development of LEAF-to-Home

November 29, 2013

Nissan reports a successful early field test of a system that will allow companies to regulate their electricity bills using the batteries of Nissan LEAFs used by their staff to commute to work. “Vehicle-To-Building” allows up to six Nissan LEAF EVs to be connected to a building’s power distribution board.

Charging is phased during the day so at peak hours, when electricity is most expensive, the building draws power from the cars. When electricity is cheaper it flows the other way. The system ensures the Nissan LEAFs are fully charged by the end of the working day for their owners to drive home.

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UK government awards £598K for hydrogen fuel cell range extender with micro-bead H2 storage for BEVs

November 28, 2013

The UK Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) have awarded £598,000 (US$980,000) to micro-bead hydrogen storage company Cella Energy (earlier post) and its partners MIRA, Coventry University and Productiv to develop a hydrogen generation system to extend the range of battery electric vehicles. The award is part of the Low Carbon Vehicle Innovation Platform Integrated Delivery Programme 8 (IDP8) competition.

In an existing TSB-funded project called “Breakthrough in Energy Storage Technology,” Cella, MIRA, Unipart Eberspacher Exhaust Systems and Productiv are developing a 1 kW hydrogen generator using Cella Energy’s lightweight hydrogen storage material. The aim of this new project is to take this technology and scale it to a 5 kW unit to power a small electric vehicle produced by Microcab Ltd, a spinout company from Coventry University.

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Ford recalling Focus Electrics over electric powertrain propulsion failure

November 27, 2013

Ford Motor is recalling certain model year 2012-2014 Focus Electric vehicles manufactured from 15 September 15, 2011 through August 23, 2013. In the affected vehicles, a powertrain control module software fault may result in a sudden loss of motive power, increasing the risk of a crash.

According to the defect information report Ford filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 2,456 vehicles in the US and federalized territories are potentially affected. According to Ford’s monthly electrified vehicle sales and production report, the company has produced 2,911 units of the battery-electric vehicle in total through October 2013.

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TUM CREATE introduces tropical megacity e-taxi prototype at Tokyo; super-fast charging with twin charge ports

November 26, 2013

Drawing of the 50 kWh pack and the twin charge ports for super-fast charging. Click to enlarge.

Singapore-based TUM CREATE unveiled an electric taxi prototype designed for tropical megacities, codenamed EVA, at the Tokyo Motor Show. EVA serves as a platform to showcase the results of the work at TUM CREATE, a joint research program by Technische Universität München (TUM) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

EVA was designed from the ground-up as an e-taxi and is a result of interdisciplinary research in the areas of energy storage, battery charging, thermal management, and lightweight materials and design.

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Anderman report sees strongest growth for full-hybrid systems; Li-ion batteries for hybrids may be in short supply

November 22, 2013

Low-cost 14V micro hybrid systems and full (strong) hybrid (i.e., systems with limited electric drive) architectures at 140-300V are entering strong growth phases, while the future of intermediate systems—those falling between the high-voltage full hybrids and the low-voltage stop-start systems—is less clear, according to “Assessing the Future of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles: The 2014 xEV Industry Insider Report” by Dr. Menahem Anderman of Advanced Automotive Batteries (AAB), to be released next week.

The 170-page report also finds that while the combined global EV and plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) market share is expected to grow to about 1.5% of total vehicle sales by 2020, the more significant story is the rapid expansion of strong-hybrid vehicles led by Toyota, Ford, and Honda, followed by Hyundai, Nissan and others. The current market share in Japan already exceeds 20%, and the world market share is estimated to exceed 5% by 2020.

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BMW Brilliance unveils Zinoro 1E BEV at Guangzhou show

November 21, 2013

Zinoro 1E.

BMW Brilliance, the China joint venture company formed by the BMW Group and Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd., unveiled the Zinoro 1E battery-electric vehicle (BEV) at the Guangzhou Auto Show. The EV is the first product of the company’s new brand, the first e-drive SAV built in China, and the first new energy vehicle (NEV) from a Chinese premium manufacturer.

BBA said that it is not aiming at volume sales of Zinoro 1E, but is using it to build the Zinoro (Zhi Nuo, 之诺, in Chinese) brand image, increase customer understanding and acceptance of electric vehicles, and drive the commercialization of electric vehicles in China.

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BMW announces partners and services for 360° Electric portfolio for BMW i drivers

November 18, 2013

BMW of North America has announced the partnerships and programs comprising its 360° Electric portfolio. Available in early 2014, 360° Electric is a portfolio of consumer-oriented offerings designed to overcome commonly perceived barriers to purchasing an electric vehicle.

360° Electric encompasses products for home and public charging, assistance services, and flexible mobility. BMW is currently the only automotive manufacturer offering this comprehensive a plan for consumers to cover their individual electric mobility needs beyond their vehicles. BMW says it is situated to branch into complementary electric vehicle markets because of its experience with the MINI E and ActiveE field trials.

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Inaugural PlugInsights report highlights need to expand public fast charging

November 15, 2013

The study shows that home charging is dominant. Data: PlugInsights. Click to enlarge.

Electric vehicle software and information services company Recargo Inc., has launched a plug-in vehicle (PEV) research firm—PlugInsights—which released an inaugural report addressing the experiences, behaviors and opinions around charging a plug-in vehicle in America.

The sample for the study was drawn from PlugInsights’ PEV panel, comprising more than 3,700 plug-in drivers of 17 different vehicle makes and models of plug-in hybrid, mid-range battery-electric vehicles and long-range battery electric vehicles (the Teslas), mathematically modeled to reflect the “real world”. The growing panel will be the data source for upcoming PEV studies, and will be used for custom survey and focus group research with PlugInsights clients.

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NCSU team proposes new system for dynamic wireless EV charging

Researchers from North Carolina State University are proposing a new topology appropriate for dynamic wireless charging—i.e., wireless charging on the go. Currently, at peak efficiency, the new system can transmit energy at a rate of 0.5 kilowatts (kW). The team’s goal is to move from 0.5 kW into the 50 kW range.

The system, outlined in a paper published in IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics, features a transmitter made from segmented multiple coils, each of which broadcasts a low-level electromagnetic field and is powered by a single inverter. A receiver coil that is the same size as each of the transmitter coils is placed in a car or other mobile platform. (The size of the coils is important, because coils of the same size transfer energy more efficiently.)

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VW provides details on e-Golf prior to launch at LA Auto Show

November 14, 2013

e-Golf. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen of America, Inc. announced details of the e-Golf, its first fully electric vehicle to go on sale in the US, prior to its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Volkswagen earlier this year introduced the production version of the e-Golf and e-up! at the Frankfurt show. (Earlier post.)

The e-Golf is available in five-door form only and is immediately recognizable by its unique aluminum-alloy wheels and by its LED headlights, the first time they have been used as standard on a Volkswagen vehicle. The e-Golf is due to go on sale in select states in the fourth quarter of 2014.

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SAE New Energy Vehicle Forum: China’s focus on NEVs may have profound impact on future of transportation

November 13, 2013

China has a number of critical economic and environmental imperatives driving its pursuit of vehicle electrification, said the roster of plenary speakers at the SAE 2013 New Energy Vehicle Forum held in Shanghai this week. These include the increasingly problematic pollution and haze in cities; China’s projected increased reliance on imported oil; the need for rationalized multimodal transportation systems in ever more congested and space-limited cities; the growing dominance of the China auto market; and the desire to have China become the leader in the next generation of automotive technology, vehicles and mobility systems.

The shift from fossil fuels to electricity—while held in common with other countries—will be based on the “specific situation” in China, making the best use of China’s own advantages and innovations, but also with international cooperation, said Dr. Zhixin Wu, Vice President of the China Automotive Technology and Research Center (CATARC). The details of that specific situation may result in an electric vehicle parc somewhat different than in Western countries, other speakers noted, and may indeed—given the obvious scale of the China market—herald a major transformation in transportation, including the type and role of personal vehicles, others suggested.

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TÜV SÜD Technical Inspectorate confirms BMW i3 can emit 30-50% less total life cycle greenhouse gases than comparable conventional vehicles

The BMW i3 battery electric vehicle can emit 30-50% less total life cycle greenhouse gases than comparable conventional vehicles depending upon the source of its electricity, according to its ISO 14040/14044 certificate from the TÜV SÜD Technical Inspectorate. (Earlier post.) Market launch for the i3 is on 16 November.

The 30% reduction is achieved by using energy from the EU 25 electricity mix, which takes account of all electricity generation in the European Union. The 50% reduction compared with conventional automobiles results as soon as the BMW i3 is powered exclusively by energy generated from renewables such as wind or solar power. ISO 14040/14004 are international standards for lifecycle assessment.

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CMU study finds limited dedicated residential parking and charging a significant barrier to mainstream EV adoption

November 12, 2013

Selected forecasts of US PEV sales with barriers to fleet penetration from limited residential charging infrastructure. Traut et al. Click to enlarge.

An analysis by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University of parking and charging availability for electric vehicles in the US has concluded that limited availability of dedicated residential parking—and hence charging opportunities—is a significant barrier to mainstream electric vehicle adoption. The study, which was funded in part by grants from the National Science Foundation, CMU’s Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research, General Motors, Ford and Toyota, is to appear in the journal Transportation Research (Part D).

The team, led by Professor Jeremy Michalek, assessed existing and potential charging infrastructure for plug-in vehicles in US households using data from the American Housing Survey and the Residential Energy Consumption Survey. The team found that while approximately 79% households have off-street parking for at least some of their vehicles, only an estimated 56% of vehicles have a dedicated off-street parking space—and only 47% at an owned residence. Only approximately 22% vehicles currently have access to a dedicated home parking space within reach of an outlet sufficient to recharge a small plug-in vehicle battery pack overnight.

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Kia confirms development of battery-electric Soul for US; on sale in 2014

November 11, 2013

p> Kia Motors has confirmed the development of a battery-electric version of the Kia Soul for the US market, scheduled to go on sale in 2014. The Kia Soul EV will be Kia’s first all-electric, zero-emissions vehicle marketed outside of Korea.

The Soul EV takes its design cues from the recently-launched second-generation Kia Soul. Equipped with a high-capacity 27 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack, the Soul EV is expected to offer a driving range of more than 120 miles (193 km) on a single charge. Recharging times are up to five hours for a fully depleted battery using a standard 240v outlet, or 25 minutes on fast charge with 100 kW output.

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DOE Inspector General criticizes agency’s handling of disclosures over Ecotality awards

November 08, 2013

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has issued a report concluding that DOE “had not fully disclosed known concerns regarding Ecotality’s ability to meet its EV project obligations” to the Office of Inspector General prior to completion of an earlier audit, and thus prior to Ecotality’s bankruptcy filing in September. (Earlier post.)

The OIG concluded that DOE had not provided information that raised questions about Ecotality’s ability to meet its project goals, including completing planned EV charger installations and the collection of EV usage data—even though the data had a “readily apparent” connection to the OIG audit then underway.

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Nissan to show BladeGlider EV concept at Tokyo Motor Show

BladeGlider_top view
Nissan BladeGlider concept. Click to enlarge.

Nissan will reveal several new concept cars at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show. Among them is the BladeGlider—a highly efficient EV with radical swept-wing styling.

Aerodynamically-focused, BladeGlider’s narrow front track and wide, stable rear track reduces drag while generating downforce to enhance maneuverability and road-hugging performance, with high G cornering and acceleration-yet the vehicle is thrifty in its power use.

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Tesla delivered ~5,500 Model S worldwide in Q3, more than 1,000 to European customers; non-GAAP profit narrows and GAAP loss widens from Q2

November 06, 2013

In its third quarter results, Tesla Motors reported delivering about 5,500 Model S units worldwide, with more than 1,000 of those going to European customers. On a total unit basis, that exceeded the second quarter’s 5,150 models which went to the North America market. (Earlier post.)

CEO Elon Musk said that Tesla is continuing to expand production and plans to deliver slightly less than 6,000 Model S vehicles in Q4, which would increase total expected deliveries to 21,500 vehicles worldwide for 2013. The company is now producing 550 cars per week.

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Renault-Nissan Alliance and Mitsubishi Motors to explore expanded cooperation; new EVs

November 05, 2013

The Renault-Nissan Alliance and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation intend to explore several new projects covering shared products, technologies and manufacturing capacity among the automakers. As a consequence, they agreed that the strategic cooperation between Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors could be expanded across the broader Renault-Nissan Alliance.

Between Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors, it is expected that the existing NMKV joint-venture company (earlier post) will be extended to co-develop a new small car including a specific electric version that can be sold on a global basis. (NMKV was established in June 2011 for the purpose of co-developing a range of Kei cars for both brands; the first of these products—the Nissan Dayz and Mitsubishi eK wagon—went on sale in Japan this year.)

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JRC study finds 8 metals for low-carbon energy technologies at risk of shortages; EVs, wind and solar, and lighting the applications of most concern

November 04, 2013

A new European Joint Research Centre (JRC) study looking into the supply of raw materials for the manufacture of low-carbon energy technologies found that eight metals were at high risk of shortages. The applications, i.e. technologies, of particular concern as a result are electric vehicles, wind and solar energy, and lighting. The risk arises from EU dependency on imports, growing demand worldwide and geopolitical reasons.

The study builds on a 2011 effort which looked into the six key applications of the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan: wind, solar, nuclear fission, bioenergy, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and the electricity grid. In the new study, these were re-assessed and considered along with 11 other technologies—including fuel cells, electricity storage, electric vehicles and lighting—treated in the new report, this time evaluated on the expected supplies of the metals and not on the current situation as in the first report.

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Altran and Quimera expand vehicles partnership; first up is the electric AEGT Evo2 racer

November 02, 2013

Rendering of the AEGT Evo2. Click to enlarge.

Altran and Quimera have signed a new agreement to invest in their continued development and construction of vehicles to achieve better performance while significantly reducing environmental impact.

One of the key commitments outlined by Altran and Quimera to deliver tangible results for this new endeavor will be for Altran to enhance its Excellence Centre for New Automotive—the hub of the Altran Group’s projects focused on innovation and electric vehicle development. The center, with an R&D budget of €4 million (US$5.4 million) will now benefit from Quimera aligning its existing vehicles, project pipeline, motor sports program and global strategic partner programs with the center.

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Panasonic and Tesla expand supply agreement for Li-ion cells; nearly 2 billion through 2017

October 30, 2013

Panasonic Corporation and Tesla Motors have expanded their 2011 supply agreement so that Panasonic will now supply nearly 2 billion automotive-grade lithium-ion battery cells to Tesla through 31 December 2017 at long-term preferential prices. Panasonic also has a position in Tesla, having purchased $30 million of Tesla’s common stock in a private placement transaction that closed in November 2010.

The lithium-ion battery cells purchased from Panasonic will be used to power the Model S as well as Model X, a performance utility vehicle that is scheduled to go into production by the end of 2014.

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NSF awards Univ. of Maryland and Genovation $438K to develop novel hybrid energy storage system for EVs

October 29, 2013

The National Science Foundation has selected a project by researchers at the University of Maryland and their partners from Genovation Cars (earlier post) for a $438,418 GOALI (Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry) award to develop a novel hybrid energy storage system for electric vehicles.

The specific objectives of the project—“Advanced Silicon Carbide based Novel Hybrid Energy Storage System for Plug-In Electric Vehicles”—are to: (a) reduce the weight of the energy storage system (composed of high energy-density battery pack, ultracapacitor pack and a DC/DC converter) to less than the weight of a high power-density battery pack alone, while increasing the battery lifetime; and (b) implement, develop, and validate this technology on the powertrain of a new electric car.

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Chevrolet previews Spark EV Tech Performance concept, other performance concepts including Cruze Diesel for SEMA

October 28, 2013

Chevrolet Spark EV Tech Performance concept. Click to enlarge.

Chevrolet previewed the Spark EV Tech Performance concept, as well as other performance-oriented concepts of the Sonic, Malibu, new Impala, and Cruze Diesel. The cars will debut at the SEMA Show, 5-8 Nov. in Las Vegas. SEMA is the world’s largest convention of automotive aftermarket parts and accessories.

The basic Spark EV is a battery-electric urban mini-car delivering 400 lb-ft (542 N·m) of instant torque—more than the classic 1969 Camaro SS muscle car with a 350 V-8. (Earlier post.) The EV It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds. The Spark EV Tech Performance concept builds on Spark EV’s performance with a unique power-delivery algorithm that enhances acceleration.

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Canada awards $30M to 10 automotive R&D projects; from electrified powertrains to hot stamping

The Government of Canada has awarded C$30 million (US$29 million) through the Automotive Partnership Canada (APC) initiative to 10 university-industry partnerships to advance innovative automotive technologies. With a total project value of more than C$52 million (US$50 million), the funding includes some $22 million from industry and other partners.

The largest award from APC is $8,928,200 to the McMaster University-Chrysler partnership (earlier post) for the development of next generation electrified powertrains. (Earlier post.) However, the selected projects include a range of technologies from hot stamping of parts to hydrogen fuel cell stacks.

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Chrysler Group in 5-year, $18.2M partnership with McMaster University to develop advanced electric and hybrid powertrains; funding from Canadian Government

October 25, 2013

Chrysler Group LLC has entered a 5-year, $18.2-million partnership with McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, with funding support from the Canadian government, to develop next-generation, energy-efficient, high-performance electrified powertrains and powertrain components. For McMaster, the project partnership is one of three new partnerships with Chrysler, the federal government and other auto industry leaders worth a combined $24 million.

Chrysler Group will invest $9.25 million in cash and in-kind contributions, with an additional $8.93 million coming from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the lead agency within Automotive Partnership Canada (APC), an initiative that supports industry research at Canadian universities and government laboratories.

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Consortium including Volvo Car Group completes successful study of EV wireless charging

October 24, 2013

Inductive battery charging components. Click to enlarge.

A consortium of companies, including Volvo Car Group, Bombardier Transportation and the coachbuilder Van Hool, has successfully completed a 3-year research project studying the possibilities of inductive charging for electric vehicles. (Earlier post.) The results show that this technology for transferring energy via an electromagnetic field has “great potential,” according to Volvo.

The inductive charging project was initiated by Flanders’ Drive, a research and test center for the automotive industry in the Flanders region in Belgium and was partly funded by the Flemish government. Volvo Cars supplied the car for the inductive charging project: a Volvo C30 Electric with a power output of 89 kW (120 hp) and a 24 kWh battery pack.

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Governors of 8 states sign MoU to put 3.3M zero-emission vehicles on roads by 2025; 15% of new vehicle sales

The governors of 8 states—California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont—have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to take specific actions to put 3.3 million zero emission vehicles on the roads in their states by 2025, along with the refueling infrastructure required to support those vehicles. Zero-emission vehicles include battery-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel-cell-electric vehicles; the technologies can be applied in passenger cars, trucks and transit buses.

The 3.3 million ZEVs would represent a new vehicle market penetration for the group of states of about 15%, said Mary Nichols, Chairman of the California Air Resources Board (ARB), during a conference call announcing the agreement. This multi-state effort is intended to expand consumer awareness and demand for zero-emission vehicles. Collectively, the eight signatory states represent more than 23% of the US car market.

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Musk says Tesla making significant investments in Germany: Superchargers, service centers and free tuning for better Autobahn performance

October 23, 2013

Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO of Tesla Motors announced that his company will make “a significant investment” in Germany, focused on expanding the Supercharger network, expanding the number of service centers, and high-speed tuning for the Model S for improved performance on the Autobahn.

Deliveries of Model S in Europe started this summer. Citing data from Germany’s Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (KBA), a report in the International Business Times noted that Tesla had sold 98 Model S units in August and September. lagging sales of other EVs in the country. This performance is in contrast to Norway, where the Model S was the best selling vehicle of any model last month, and in the Netherlands, the car’s second-strongest Northern European market.

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Tesla leads with transfer of ZEV credits for year ending 30 Sep 2013

October 17, 2013

Tesla by far dominated the transfer of ZEV credits in California in 2012. Data: ARB. Click to enlarge.

Between 1 October 2012 and 30 September 2013, electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla Motors transferred out 1,311.520 ZEV (zero emission vehicle) credits, according to the latest report by the California Air Resources Board (ARB)—by far, the largest of any automaker in the state. The next closest was Toyota, with 507.5 credits; Nissan only transferred 25 credits, and those generated from its PZEVs—not from the LEAF EV.

As of 30 September, Tesla still had a balance of 276.080 credits, according to the data; behind the six major automakers, who are mostly banking their credits.

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BRUSA picks up awards at eCarTec Munich 2013 for wireless charging and electric truck; synchronous motor shortlisted

The two components of BRUSA’s Inductive Charging System. Click to enlarge.

BRUSA won two of the eCarTec Awards presented at eCarTec Munich 2013 trade fair. BRUSA’s new ICS inductive charging system and the E-FORCE electric truck won in their particular categories, while BRUSA’s synchronous motor was shortlisted in the category of “Drive Technology, System Electrics, Testing Systems”.

BRUSA Inductive Charging System. BRUSA’s ICS was the winner in the category “Energy, Infrastructure, Connection Technology”. The new system only comprises a floor and vehicle plate—the required power electronics are integrated.

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Navigant Research tags Jiangsu Xinri E-Vehicle Company as leader in e-scooter market

October 15, 2013

Navigant ranks Jiangsu Xinri E-Vehicle Company as the top e-scooter company. Source: Navigant. Click to enlarge.

According to a new Leaderboard report from Navigant Research, Jiangsu Xinri E-Vehicle Company is the best positioned company in the global e-scooter market in terms of strategy and execution.

Although still a nascent market in most regions of the world, electric scooters sell in significant numbers in Asia Pacific today, according to Navigant Research. Sales of e-scooters in China alone are expected to reach 9.4 million in 2013, compared to 2.6 million in all other countries combined. Sales in regions outside of Asia Pacific are estimated at 31,338 vehicles in 2013, Navigant said.

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BMW i3 on sale in US 2Q 2014, base MSRP $41,350 for BEV; $45,300 with range extender

October 10, 2013

BMW i3. Click to enlarge.

The BMW i3 (earlier post, earlier post) will go on sale in the US market in the second quarter of 2014. The battery electric model will have a base MSRP of $41,350, before any federal or state incentives, and before destination and handling fee (currently $925). The range-extender model will have a starting MSRP of $45,300. Again, this is before any federal or state incentives, and before Destination & Handling fee.

Studies carried out as part of BMW’s Project i, involving more than 1,000 participants and conducted over some 12.5 million miles, found that the average daily distance covered was around 30 miles. The BMW i3 will be able to travel 80 to 100 miles on a single charge of its 22 kWh Li-ion battery pack. This can be increased by up to approximately 12% in ECO PRO mode and by the same amount again in ECO PRO+ mode.

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