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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.]

Tenneco developing new gasoline particulate filter (GPF) technology ahead of Euro 6c emissions regulation

March 31, 2015

Tenneco is leveraging its expertise in diesel particulate filter (DPF) technology to develop gasoline particulate filters for 2017 model year light vehicles. These filters are designed for gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines to reduce particulate emissions in compliance with the Euro 6c emissions regulation (particulate number of no more than 6 x 1011particles/km), which takes effect on 1 September 2017.

GDI engines help improve fuel economy and therefore reduce CO2 emissions; however, they can have higher particulate emissions due to shorter fuel/air mixing times in the cylinder compared to multiport fuel injection engines. Advanced fuel injection strategies are currently used to control gasoline particulate emissions in-cylinder but they are designed for a particular emission test cycle and may be less effective under real driving conditions.

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Achates Power awarded $14M military single-cylinder engine project; partnering with Cummins

Achates Power, Inc., the developer of a family of two-stroke compression-ignition opposed-piston engines (earlier post), has been awarded a $14-million project by the National Advanced Mobility Consortium to support research and development work of the US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC). The project is the Single Cylinder Advanced Combat Engine Technology Demonstrator, part of the Army’s 30-year strategy to modernize tactical and combat vehicles.

Achates has partnered with Cummins Inc. for the project. Together, their technologies will be used to further refine the opposed-piston engine for lower heat rejection, greater fuel efficiency, increased power density and the ability to operate on various fuels. The end goal is to deliver a product that improves the mobility and performance of combat vehicles.

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Total natural gas vehicle sales in US down 6.5% in 2014 due to 34% drop in light-duty sales; medium- and heavy-duty up

March 29, 2015

In 2014, light-, medium-, and heavy-duty natural gas vehicle (NGV) production/sales in the US totaled just over 18,000 vehicles, down 6.5% from 2013, according to NGVAmerica’s 2014 NGV Production/Sales Report. The report is based on the organization’s annual survey of OEMs and approved aftermarket suppliers.

The heavy-duty market segment grew at a healthy pace, up 30% over 2013. The medium-duty market segment also grew steadily, up 24% over 2013. The light-duty segment fell 34% from 2013, mostly related to a drop in orders from the gas and oil exploration and production (E&P) sector.

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Daimler Trucks NA SuperTruck achieves 115% freight efficiency improvement over 2009 baseline; 50.2% engine BTE

March 27, 2015

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DTNA’s SuperTruck was unveiled at the 2015 Mid-America Trucking Show. Click to enlarge.

Daimler Trucks North America’s (DTNA) SuperTruck program has achieved 115% freight efficiency improvement (gallons of fuel consumed per ton of goods moved per mile traveled)—surpassing the Department of Energy (DOE) program’s goal of 50% improvement and exhibiting the best results of all reporting OEMs. (Earlier post.) DTNA unveiled its SuperTruck at the 2015 Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS) in the Freightliner Trucks booth.

To measure freight efficiency, DTNA ran vehicle testing on highway routes in Oregon and Texas; one city route in Portland, Ore.; and anti-idle testing in both a cold chamber and hot chamber. These tests resulted in the combined 115% freight efficiency improvement over a 2009 baseline truck. Testing was also conducted at the DTNA Detroit engineering facility to demonstrate engine efficiency by achieving 50.2% engine brake thermal efficiency.

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Cummins ATLAS light-duty diesel surpasses fuel economy targets, with criteria emissions lower than Tier 2/Bin 2

March 26, 2015

Cummins Inc. is showcasing the results of a four-year joint program with the US Department of Energy (DOE) at the Mid-America Trucking Show. The Advanced Technology Light Automotive Systems (ATLAS) program (earlier post) was initiated to develop a commercially viable diesel engine for the half-ton pickup truck market that is capable of meeting future Tier 2 Bin 2 emissions regulations and Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and stringent greenhouse gas (GHG) requirements out to the year 2025.

The Cummins team not only surpassed all fuel-economy targets, but also achieved criteria emissions lower than the stringent Tier 2/Bin 2 levels.

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New Ford S-MAX first worldwide to offer Intelligent Speed Limiter

March 24, 2015

Ford of Europe announced that the a new S-MAX will be the first Ford worldwide to offer Intelligent Speed Limiter, a new technology that scans traffic signs and adjusts the throttle to help drivers stay within legal speed limits and avoid fines.

Intelligent Speed Limiter for the first time combines the two current Ford technologies Adjustable Speed Limiter and Traffic Sign Recognition, which are both already available on models including Focus, all-new Mondeo, and Kuga SUV. Drivers can choose between speed limiting systems in the vehicle menu using the steering wheel controls, and activate them using the speed system controls.

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Daimler putting ~€1B into Stuttgart-Untertürkheim to make it the center of competence for efficient engines, hybrid powertrains and fuel cell system production

March 21, 2015

Daimler is investing about €1 billion (US$1.07 billion) in the Mercedes-Benz plant in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim and is transforming it into a center of competence for highly efficient engines, hybrid powertrains and the production of fuel cell systems.

From 1 June, Untertürkheim will assume responsibility for a facility in Nabern in the greater Stuttgart area where assembly of the fuel cell system will take place. The Nabern facility will remain the center of competence for the overall development of fuel cell drive systems under the direction of Daimler AG.

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Cadillac launches new V-6 family; 3.0L Twin Turbo w/ cylinder deactivation and stop/start for CT6

March 20, 2015

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The new 3.0L Twin Turbo for the 2016 Cadillac CT6 combines turbocharging with cylinder deactivation and stop/start technologies to conserve fuel. Click to enlarge.

GM’s Cadillac announced a new generation of V-6 engines, led by an exclusive 3.0L Twin Turbo V-6 that will power the upcoming, top-of-the-range CT6 luxury performance sedan, premiering at the New York International Auto Show. (Earlier post.)

The 3.0L Twin Turbo is the only six-cylinder engine to combine turbocharging with cylinder deactivation and stop/start technologies to conserve fuel. Cadillac expects the combination to enhance fuel economy by up to an estimated 6%.

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EPA awards $8M in FY2014 clean diesel grants in 21 states, Puerto Rico

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $8 million to communities in 21 states and Puerto Rico to reduce emissions from the nation’s existing fleet of diesel engines through the agency’s Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) program. The grants will fund projects such as retrofitting older school buses to improve air quality for children riding to school, upgrading marine propulsion and agriculture engines, and replacing long haul truck engines.

The twenty-one projects will receive funding through the EPA’s DERA Fiscal Year 2014 allocation. The selected projects are cost-effective and will impact fleets operating in areas that will benefit from additional steps to protect air quality and public health.

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VW of America introducing the Golf SportWagen; increased cargo volume and fuel efficiency; up to 43 mpg highway with diesel

March 09, 2015

Volkswagen of America is hosting a media drive in Austin this week to introduce the newest US member of the seventh-generation Golf family, the Golf SportWagen. Based on the Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) architecture introduced with the latest Golf generation, the SportWagen replaces the Jetta SportWagen in the Volkswagen US line-up. (The Golf SportWagen was also the basis for the hydrogen fuel cell Golf SportWagen HyMotion concept shown at the LA Auto Show last November. Earlier post.)

The Golf SportWagen will be offered with two powertrains: the third-generation EA888 1.8-liter, 170 hp (127 kW) turbocharged and direct-injection four-cylinder TSI engine (earlier post) mated to a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission; and the EA288 2.0-liter, 150-hp turbocharged and direct-injection four-cylinder TDI diesel (earlier post), fitted with a six-speed manual or a six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission. Volkswagen is taking a more aggressive pricing stance with the diesel, reducing the base price of the TDI S (entry-level) model by almost $2,000 compared to the older SportWagen.

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Elio Motors unveils engine prototype for 84 mpg highway 3-wheeler

March 07, 2015

Elio Motors, the start-up developing a $6,800, 84-mpg- (2.8l/100 km) three-wheeled vehicle with a target date of 2016, unveiled its engine prototype: a 0.9-liter, 3-cylinder unit developed by IAV. To provide its customers with high fuel efficiency and still provide the performance consistent with today’s passenger vehicles, the Elio Motors engine must operate efficiently at two different loads—lower loads representative of highway cruising, and more demanding loads associated with the fast starts of city driving.

The original engine concept for the three-wheeler was to take the Geo Metro engine and create a template for the Elio engine; the Metro engine was compact, perceived to be efficient, had the correct power requirements, and is relatively inexpensive to produce. As the team began to dive into some of the details and changes to meet the desired Elio targets, it found that the Geo Metro engine would not meet the fuel efficiency targets to enable the vehicle fuel economy goal of 84 mpg highway.

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Sub-micrometer carbon spheres as oil additives reduce engine friction up to 25%

March 06, 2015

Researchers at Purdue University have shown that adding ultra-smooth submicrometer carbon spheres to motor oil can reduce friction and wear typically seen in engines by up to 25%. The researchers also have shown how to potentially mass-produce the spheres, making them hundreds of times faster than previously possible using ultrasound to speed chemical reactions in manufacturing.

In a paper in the ACS journal Advanced Materials & Interfaces, they reported that the new lubricant composition—3% carbon spheres suspended in a reference SAE 5W30 engine oil—exhibited a substantial reduction in friction and wear (10 to 25%) compared to the neat oil, without change in the viscosity. Friction reduction was dependent on the sliding speed and applied load, and maximum reduction was achieved at the highest sliding speed in the boundary lubrication regime.

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Toyota introduces facelifted Auris; revamped powertrains including new Otto/Atkinson 1.2L gasoline engine

March 04, 2015

At the Geneva Motor Show, Toyota introduced the facelifted Auris. With the launch of the Auris Hybrid in 2010, Toyota became the first manufacturer to offer a choice of three powertrains (gasoline, gasoline-electric hybrid, and diesel) in the C-segment.

Reflecting both changes in the highly-competitive C-segment market and Toyota customer feedback, the 2015 Auris range features significant improvements in five key areas: Design; Sensory Quality; the Hybrid model; Safety; and, improving the model’s segment coverage by some 40%, Powertrains. As part of the change, an all-new, 1.2 liter direct injection turbocharged engine from Toyota’s new family of efficient engines announced last year (earlier post) joins the existing gasoline line-up.

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New 2016 Range Rover Evoque with new Ingenium diesel will deliver up to 56 mpg; Geneva debut

February 23, 2015

Land Rover will stage the world debut of the MY 2016 Range Rover Evoque. Equipped with the EU6-compliant, four-cylinder Ingenium diesel (earlier post), the new Evoque will be the most efficient production Land Rover yet, with fuel consumption as low as 4.2 l/100 km (56 mpg US) and CO2 emissions of 109 g/km.

The all-aluminium 2.0-liter Ingenium TD4 engine, 20-30 kg (44-66 lbs) lighter than its predecessor with stiff cylinder blocks and decoupled injectors ensuring low levels of vibration and noise intrusion, is available in two power outputs: 150 PS (148 hp, 110 kW) (eD4 2WD) offering the 4.2 l/100km fuel consumption level, while the 180 PS (178 hp, 132 kW) unit offers 4.8 l/100km (49 mpg US) and CO2 emissions from 125g/km. The 150PS unit is 18% more fuel efficient compared to the Evoque’s previous diesel engines.

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Kia unveiling new cee’d GT line with new 1.0L T-GDi and 7-speed DCT at Geneva

February 20, 2015

Kia Motors Europe will unveil a new Kia cee’d GT Line specification at the 85th Salon International de l’Automobile in Geneva on 3 March. In addition to a range of visual upgrades, the new cee’d GT Line features the debut of Kia’s all-new downsized 1.0-liter T-GDi (turbo gasoline direct injection) “Kappa” engine and new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission in Europe.

The 1.0-liter T-GDi is a downsized, three-cylinder power unit engineered to improve fuel consumption and emissions while offering strong performance and immediate response. This is the first of Kia’s upcoming range of downsized engines to make its debut in Europe. The 1.0-liter T-GDi engine produces 120 PS (118 hp, 88 kw) and 172 N·m (127 lb-ft) torque, and has been engineered to deliver lower CO2 emissions than the 1.6-liter GDI engine found in other cee’d models, pending final homologation closer to the GT Line’s launch.

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

February 19, 2015

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

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

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VW to launch technically updated Sharan MPV at Geneva; up to 15% more fuel efficient

At this year’s Geneva International Motor Show, Volkswagen will present an extensive technical update of the Sharan MPV, of which more than 800,000 units have been sold since its launch in 1995. The update includes numerous systems to assist the driver and enhance convenience and comfort, some features being unique to this market segment, as well as new gasoline (TSI) and diesel (TDI) engines.

The turbocharged direct injection engines are now up to 15% more fuel-efficient and all now comply fully with the Euro-6 standard. The two new TSI engines produce 110 kW (148 hp, 150 PS) and 162 kW (217 hp, 220 PS); the second, higher-powered engine produces 15 kW (20 hp) more power than its predecessor. Three new TDI engines are available at these power levels: 85 kW (114 hp, 115 PS), 110 kW and 135 kW (181 hp, 184 PS (gain of 7 PS)). All engines, except the smallest diesel model, can be combined with a 6-speed dual clutch gearbox (DSG), which now provides a coasting function (decoupling of the engine during deceleration) for additional fuel-saving. The DSG transmission is standard with the top TSI engine; a an alternative, the 150 PS TDI engine is also available with 4MOTION all-wheel drive.

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ICCT reviews real-world tractor-trailer fuel economy in US, China and Europe

February 15, 2015

The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) has published a new paper reviewing and summarizing data on commercial vehicle sales and real-world fuel consumption for heavy-duty tractor-trailers in the three key markets of the US, China and Europe, which together account for more than 70% of HDV sales worldwide.

The review found that in the US, average tractor-trailer fuel consumption rates for the entire fleet are approximately 39 L/100 km (6 mpg). For the newest US models, fuel consumption is typically between 33 and 36 L/100 km (6.5–7 mpg). A fleet-wide analysis done for the European Commission estimates tractor-trailer fuel consumption at roughly 31 L/100 km (7.6 mpg), while tests of individual vehicles done by trucking magazines suggest somewhat higher average rates of consumption at approximately 36 to 38 L/100 km (6.5 to 6.2 mpg). Chassis dynamometer testing performed as part of the regulatory development process in China reveals that tractor-trailers seem to have much higher fuel consumption rates, on average, than in the US and the EU, with laboratory results yielding an average of 44 L/100 km (5.4 mpg).

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Honda includes stop-start system in new 2016 Honda Pilot for improved fuel economy, new 9-speed (updated w/ VCM info)

February 13, 2015

Honda gave the all-new 2016 Honda Pilot SUV its global premiere at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show. The 2016 Pilot, launching at Honda dealerships nationwide this summer, is the third generation of Honda’s three-row midsize SUV to be designed, developed and manufactured in the US.

The 2016 Pilot features a new 3.5-liter, direct-injected i-VTEC V-6 engine with new two-stage Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) cylinder deactivation technology. For improved fuel efficiency, the 2016 Pilot will also include a stop start feature—Honda’s first non-hybrid application of this technology.

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BMW introduces 2 Series Gran Tourer; up to 60 mpg US

February 12, 2015

BMW has introduced the new BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer, a premium compact model. At 4,556 millimeters long, 1,800 mm wide and 1,608 mm high, the 2 Series Gran Tourer accommodates up to seven people while additionally offering a load compartment that extends from 645 to 1,905 liters in the five-seater and from 560 to 1,820 liters in the seven-seater variant.

Five three- and four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines will be available from market launch of the new BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer, all featuring the latest BMW TwinPower Turbo technology. In addition to the four-cylinder liter gasoline engine in the BMW 220i Gran Tourer and the three-cylinder in the BMW 218i Gran Tourer, three diesel units round off the engine portfolio available at market launch. They include the four-cylinder diesel in the BMW 220d xDrive and BMW 218d Gran Tourer as well as the three-cylinder diesel in the BMW 216d Gran Tourer.

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Direct measurement of key molecule will increase accuracy of combustion models

February 08, 2015

Sandia National Laboratories researchers are the first to measure directly hydroperoxyalkyl radicals—a class of reactive molecules denoted as “QOOH”—that are key in the chain of reactions that controls the early stages of combustion. This breakthrough has generated data on QOOH reaction rates and outcomes that will improve the fidelity of models used by engine manufacturers to create cleaner and more efficient cars and trucks. A paper describing the work, performed by David Osborn, Ewa Papajak, John Savee, Craig Taatjes and Judit Zádor at Sandia’s Combustion Research Facility, is published in the journal Science.

As the Science Editor notes, the net combustion reaction is simple to describe (oxygen reacts with hydrocarbons to form water and carbon dioxide) but the details are much more complicated. Thousands of chemical reactions are involved in the conversion of a fuel’s chemical energy into mechanical work in an automobile engine. The fleeting molecules that initiate, sustain and then increase combustion are radicals: short-lived molecules that readily react and form new chemical bonds.

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Ford Focus RS features optimized 2.3L EcoBoost, Ford Performance All-Wheel Drive

February 04, 2015

Ford revealed another of its promised performance models (earlier post), the all-new Focus RS, a high-performance road car that debuts Ford Performance All-Wheel Drive with Dynamic Torque Vectoring Control. The all-new Focus RS is equipped with a new 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine producing in excess of 315 horsepower.

Developed by a small team of global Ford Performance engineers, the new Focus RS is the third generation in the line, following models launched in 2002 and 2009. It will be the 30th car to wear the RS badge, following such technology trendsetters as the 1970 Escort RS1600 with 16 valves, 1985 Sierra RS Cosworth with turbocharging and radical aerodynamics and 1992 Escort RS Cosworth with four-wheel drive.

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

February 03, 2015

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

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

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Renault Sport F1 introduces revamped 2015 hybrid power unit

January 28, 2015

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Renault Energy F1-2015 Power Unit. Click to enlarge.

Renault Sport F1 has unveiled its 2015 power unit for Formula 1 racing, which incorporates a number of changes compared to its 2014 predecessor (earlier post). 2015 is the second year of competitive use for the power units that feature a V6 turbocharged internal combustion engine coupled to energy recovery systems.

In introducing the new unit, Renault Chief Technical Officer Rob White noted that the second year of a new engine “is always difficult. The 2015 power unit project was started six months before the 2014 units took to the track, ie. before we had any significant experience of the technology. Then we also needed to consider the issues arising during the season. It creates a need to be both forward thinking and reactive. Splitting resources between projects is therefore a delicate balancing act, in the short, mid and long term. While certain decisions can be taken upstream, a number of design decisions were taken quite late in the day, in order to benefit from the experience of the 2014 power unit. The result is a power unit that is very different to its predecessor,” he said.

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HEI ACES study of lifetime animal exposure to New Technology Diesel Engine exhaust finds no lung cancer

January 27, 2015

The first study to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of lifetime exposure to new technology diesel exhaust (NTDE)—i.e., exhaust from heavy-duty diesel engines meeting EPA 2007 and later emissions requirements—has found no evidence of carcinogenic lung tumors. The Advanced Collaborative Emissions Study (ACES), released today by the Health Effects Institute (HEI), also confirmed that the concentrations of particulate matter and toxic air pollutants emitted from NTDE are more than 90% lower than emissions from traditional older diesel engines (TDE). (Earlier post.) HEI is an independent, non-profit research institute funded jointly by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the worldwide motor vehicle industry.

The study exposed laboratory rats 80 hours a week, for up to 30 months, to emissions from a heavy-duty diesel engine meeting 2007 US EPA standards using new filters and other control technology. The study evaluated the long-term effects of multiple concentrations of inhaled NTDE in male and female rats on more than 100 different biologic endpoints, including tumor development, and compared the results with biologic effects seen in earlier studies in rats after exposure to TDE.

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China Yuchai LNG engine powers the “Fuel Efficient Heavy-Duty Truck of the Year 2014” in China

January 26, 2015

China Yuchai International announced that a “K-Gold” model C&C truck equipped with the YC6K1340N liquid natural gas (LNG) engine has won the “Fuel Efficient Heavy-Duty Truck of the Year 2014” at China’s largest annual commercial vehicle event.

At 13 liters, the YC6K1340N engine has the largest displacement and highest torque power among comparable natural gas engines in China. Variants in the K13N range span power ratings from 340-440 PS (250-324 kW, 335-434 hp), with 1950 N·m of torque at 1200 ~ 1500 rpm. By utilizing lean-burn technology, it reduces average energy consumption by approximately 25% compared with diesel engines of similar size and power. The model YC6K1340N is the only engine in China that utilizes the JACOBS in-cylinder brake technology, and has LNG braking power up to 17 kW/L.

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New Opel diesels for Mokka and Insignia

January 22, 2015

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1.6 CDTI with 100 kW/136 hp for Opel Mokka. Click to enlarge.

Opel is introducing two new generation four-cylinder Opel diesels for Mokka and Insignia: the 1.6-liter CDTI (also seen in Astra and Meriva) in the Mokka and a 125 kW/170 hp 2.0-liter CDTI in the Insignia. The engines, which already meet the Euro 6 standards that will be compulsory from September, are another important step in the roll-out of Opel’s new powertrain portfolio.

The all-aluminum 1.6-liter CDTI for the Mokka sub-compact SUV will replace the 1.7 CDTI. The new engine gives more power and torque—up 6 hp and 20 N·m, respectively—from a smaller displacement, as well as significantly lower fuel consumption. The 1.6 CDTI in the 100 kW/136 hp version reaches 85 hp per liter—unrivaled in its displacement class, according to Opel—and delivers torque of 320 N·m.

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BMW and Total begin field tests of AdBlue pumps in Germany

January 21, 2015

In Germany, BMW and Total have officially begun the field testing of AdBlue pumps installed at three fueling stations in Munich and Berlin. AdBlue, used in Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) NOx aftertreatment systems for modern diesels, is stored in an auxiliary tank in the car. The AdBlue filler neck is found underneath the fuel filler flap or in the engine compartment, depending on the BMW diesel model.

The pump is in lieu of a separate hand-held container of AdBlue, as currently used. Both parties expect to gain new insights into the practice of fueling the auxiliary AdBlue tanks from the field tests—especially from a customer perspective. The experience from the field trial will be used further to develop the AdBlue dispenser technology and to ensure the best user experience, the companies said.

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Thomson Reuters analysis finds automotive new propulsion technology patent activities surge 6-fold in 5 years

January 20, 2015

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Automotive patent filings reduced to one document per DWPI family charted by category and the publication year of the earliest family member. Source: Thomson Innovation & Thomson Reuters Derwent World Patents Index. Click to enlarge.

An analysis of the global automobile industry’s recent patent activity by the Intellectual Property & Science business of Thomson Reuters has found a massive commitment from carmakers and their suppliers to new propulsion technology. Patent data from 2009 through July 2014 show that activity in propulsion technology grew from fewer than 2,000 patents to nearly 12,000: more than any other technology area in the automotive industry. It was also the only area of patents to reflect a year-over-year growth in the five-year span.

For the report, “The State of Innovation in the Automotive Industry”, Thomson Reuters broke patent activity in the automotive industry into five broad categories: Propulsion; Navigation (which included telematics); Handling (which included autonomous driving); Safety & Security (which included driver assistance systems); and Entertainment.

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Ford puts the pedal down on performance … but not with electric drive technology right now

January 14, 2015

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The new Ford GT on display in the Ford stand at NAIAS. Click to enlarge.

In December, Ford President and CEO Mark Fields said Ford would focus on five key areas of innovation, one of them being performance. He said that more than 12 new performance vehicles would be introduced through 2020. (Earlier post.) At the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit this week, Ford delivered first proof of that focus with the reveal of the new Ford GT carbon-fiber supercar, as well as the new F-150 Raptor based on the new aluminum F-150 and the Shelby GT350R Mustang.

The stunning Ford GT—which received the EyesOn Design Award at NAIAS for best production vehicle—serves as a technology showcase for top EcoBoost engine performance, aerodynamics and lightweight carbon fiber construction. Beginning production late next year, the GT will the road in select global markets in honor of the 50th anniversary of Ford GT race cars placing 1-2-3 at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. However, unlike today’s hybrid drive Le Mans racers, or the new Acura NSX hybrid supercar, also revealed at NAIAS (earlier post), the GT—nor any of the other Ford performance vehicles unveiled at NAIAS—makes no use of electric drive technology.

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

January 13, 2015

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

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

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Cummins 5.0L V8 Turbo Diesel debuts in new 2016 Nissan Titan XD pickup

January 12, 2015

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2016 Nissan Titan XD Cummins 5.0L V8 Turbo Diesel. Click to enlarge.

Nissan’s new 2016 Titan XD full-size pickup, which made its debut at the 2015 North American International Auto Show, was also the platform for the debut of the first vehicle installation of the all-new Cummins 5.0L V8 Turbo Diesel engine. Nissan and Cummins have worked together on optimizing a calibration and specific hardware for the Cummins 5.0L V8 Turbo Diesel since the partnership began in 2007. (Earlier post.)

The next-generation Nissan TITAN expands Cummins presence in the North American pickup market from heavy-duty trucks to now extending to serve the light-duty segment. The new TITAN XD engine features more than 70% parts commonality with the commercial variant of the Cummins ISV5.0 engine family, which includes vehicles with 30,000-pound gross vehicle weight ratings. The 5.0L V8 Turbo Diesel stands alone between the smaller and larger diesel offerings in the pickup market.

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

January 07, 2015

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

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

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New GM/Tula DSF cylinder deactivation technology could boost fuel efficiency in engines by up to 15%

January 05, 2015

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Comparison of DSF fuel economy gains and costs with competing technologies, from Tula’s 2013 SAE paper. Wilcutts et al. Click to enlarge.

GM is working closely with Tula Technology, a Silicon Valley-based supplier of Dynamic Skip Fire (DSF)—a software-enabled powertrain technology that integrates advanced digital signal processing with advanced powertrain controls to create a variable displacement engine. In 2012, GM Ventures made an equity investment in Tula; in 2013, Tula engineers presented a paper on their technology at the 2013 SAE World Congress.

Independent testing commissioned by Tula finds that the application of DSF technology can improve fuel efficiency in a multi-cylinder engine (4/6/8 cylinders) by as much as 15% when compared to a vehicle equipped with an engine that does not have cylinder deactivation.

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ORNL study finds multi-mode RCCI can offer 15%+ fuel economy improvements across multiple light-duty driving cycles

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Drive cycle fuel economy for PFI, CDC, and multi-mode RCCI operation. Credit: Curran et al. Click to enlarge.

A team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has added to the growing body of work exploring the applications and benefits of reactivity-controlled compression ignition (RCCI) by simulating the fuel economy and emissions for a multi-mode RCCI–enabled vehicle operating over a variety of US drive cycles using experimental engine maps for multi-mode RCCI; conventional diesel combustion; and a 2009 port-fuel injected gasoline engine. Their paper is published in the International Journal of Engine Research.

Among their findings were that multi-mode RCCI has the potential to offer greater than 15% fuel economy improvement over a 2009 gasoline PFI baseline over many light-duty driving cycles, despite the lack of complete drive cycle coverage for RCCI mode. Fuel usage over the drive cycles showed that nearly equal amounts of gasoline and diesel fuel would most likely need to be carried on board for RCCI multi-mode operation, which requires two fuels. During RCCI-only operation, fuel usage was found to be between 57 and 69% gasoline.

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Ford Racing offering programming handset to performance enthusiasts for EcoBoost aftermarket tuning

December 31, 2014

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Power and torque curves for stock and performance-tuned Focus ST with 2.0L I-4 EcoBoost. Click to enlarge.

Ford is now offering EcoBoost engines in all of its high-performance nameplates—from Fiesta ST to Mustang—enabling a new kind of aftermarket tuning. Modifying engine performance can be accomplished with hand-held programmers that adjust several engine parameters; adjusting engine control unit programming can result in performance gains of up to 90 lb-ft (122 N·m) of torque in cars such as the Focus ST.

To allow performance enthusiasts to exploit these capabilities, Ford Racing is offering a programming handset (ProCal, $595, along with required new sparkplugs) for Focus ST’s 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine and Fiesta ST’s 1.6-liter EcoBoost. Plugging the device into the car’s diagnostic link connector port in the driver’s side footwell allows tuners to tap into the many aspects of the car’s performance—anything from throttle response characteristics or idle speed, to turbo wastegate control, to fuel curves and spark timing—while maintaining the Ford-backed limited warranty.

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Audi boosting investment over next 5 years by 9% to €24B; 70% to new models and technology

December 27, 2014

From 2015 through 2019, Audi plans to invest €24 billion (US$29 billion)—€2 billion (US$2.4 billion), or 9% more, more than in the previous planning period. 70 percent of the investment will flow into the development of new models and technologies. Audi aims to meet stringent CO2 limits worldwide with a new generation of extremely economical combustion engines and alternative efficiency technologies as well as new features in the areas of connectivity and driver assistance.

Audi also plans to create additional production capacities worldwide in the next five years through large-scale investment. More than half of the planned investment will take place at the German sites in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm.

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Breakthrough in predictions of pressure-dependent combustion chemical reactions

December 24, 2014

Researchers at Sandia and Argonne national laboratories have demonstrated, for the first time, a method to successfully predict pressure-dependent chemical reaction rates. It’s an important breakthrough in combustion and atmospheric chemistry that is expected to benefit auto and engine manufacturers, oil and gas utilities and other industries that employ combustion models.

A paper (Jasper et al.) describing the work, performed by researchers at Sandia’s Combustion Research Facility and Argonne’s Chemical Sciences and Engineering Division is published in the journal Science. As well, a Perspective on the problem and the methodology developed by the Sandia and Argonne team appears in the journal, written by Dr. Michael Pilling at the University of Leeds.

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Orbital suing Daimler and Bosch for alleged patent infringement on direct injection technology

December 23, 2014

Australia-based specialized engine and vehicle systems company Orbital Corporation has filed court documents in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia alleging the infringement of Orbital patents on direct injection technology by Daimler AG, Mercedes-Benz USA LLC, Mercedes-Benz US International, Inc. (Mercedes), Robert Bosch GMGH and Robert Bosch LLC (Bosch). (3:14-cv-00808-REP Orbital Australia Pty Ltd et al. v. Daimler AG et al.)

Specific patents covered by the complaint are United States Patents Nº 6,923,387 (the “387 patent”) ("injector patent"); Nº 5,655,365 (the “365 patent”); and Nº 5,606,951 (the “951 patent”) (“control patents”),under 35 U.S.C.§271.

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

December 13, 2014

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

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

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

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New BMW 218i Coupe to offer new 3-cylinder gasoline engine

December 12, 2014

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New BMW 3-cylinder turbo gasoline engine for the 218i. Click to enlarge.

With the market launch of the new BMW 218i Coupe, BMW will offer a new a three-cylinder gasoline engine from the BMW Group’s latest engine family (earlier post) for the first time in the compact model. With a displacement of 1.5 liters, the newly developed power unit delivers a maximum output of 100 kW/136 hp and a maximum torque of 220 N·m (162 lb-ft) available at 1,250 rpm.

The car’s BMW TwinPower Turbo technology comprises a supercharger that is integrated into the exhaust manifold; a further developed gasoline direct injection system; the latest version of the variable valve control system VALVETRONIC; and Double VANOS variable camshaft control. The new power unit is conventionally positioned lengthwise in the engine compartment under the hood. Its low weight benefits the well-balanced load distribution of almost 50:50 between the front and rear axle.

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Volvo Cars well along with 3-cylinder gasoline engine development program; prototype testing underway

December 11, 2014

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Volvo Car’s 3-cylinder gasoline engine. Click to enlarge.

Volvo Cars confirmed its production program to develop a lightweight 3-cylinder Drive-E gasoline engine. The engine, wholly developed in Sweden, will join the company’s 4-cylinder Drive-E engines (earlier post). “The development program for the new 3-cylinder engine is very advanced and we have already begun prototype testing of the unit,” said Dr. Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research & Development at Volvo Car Group.

Volvo has a long history of developing its own unique 6-, 5- and 4-cylinder engines and in-house expertise. (Volvo has been developing its own powertrain solutions since the company was founded in 1927.) The move to include a 3-cylinder in Volvo’s engine program is a natural next step in its downsizing strategy, the company said.

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Achates Power secures fifth OEM contract for opposed-piston 2-stroke CI engines; 3-cylinder configurations under test

December 09, 2014

Achates Power, Inc., the developer of a family of efficient compression-ignition opposed-piston two-stroke (OP2S) engines (earlier post) has secured another contract with a leading global OEM. With this contract, the company has five concurrent customers the contracts for which encompass five different engine applications: passenger vehicle, light commercial vehicle, heavy commercial vehicle, military and marine/stationary power.

Achates Power’s engine allows OEMs to achieve the most stringent current and future fuel efficiency and emissions standards—including EPA 2010, Euro 6 and Tier 3/LEV 3—without additional cost or complexity. During 2014, Achates Power’s annual revenue has increased by more than 300%. The company has customers located in the US, Japan, Europe, China and India and its current engine programs range from 45 hp to more than 5,000 hp.

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

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

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

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Westport Innovations acquires alt fuel systems company Prins Autogassystemen for €12.2M

December 03, 2014

Natural gas engine and vehicle company Westport Innovations Inc. has acquired Netherlands based Prins Autogassystemen Holding B.V. for €12.2 million (US$15.1 million) through a combination of €6.6 million (US$8.2 million) in assumed liabilities and €5.6 million (US$6.9 million) in cash.

Founded in 1986, Prins is a leading developer of high quality alternative fuel systems powered by liquefied petroleum gas (LPG or propane), compressed natural gas (CNG), and liquefied natural gas (LNG) for light-, medium-, and heavy-duty applications. Prins operations in Europe will be combined under the Westport Applied Technologies business unit.

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Start-up Eco-Motive developing dual-fuel “H” engine; parallel, independently fueled piston banks

December 01, 2014

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The H-engine—basically two separate engines housed within the same engine block—comprises two switchable parallel piston banks, independently fueled by gasoline and CNG. Click to enlarge.

Startup Eco-Motive has developed what it calls the first dual-fuel “H” engine; it recently received a patent (#8807098) on the design. The H-shaped engine comprises parallel left-side and right-side vertical inline piston banks, each having a crankshaft and pistons, a cylinder head, and individual fuel feeds, but sharing a common power transmission system. Each piston bank operates independently of the other but is housed within the same engine block and has separate lubrication systems.

The Eco-Motive H-motor—basically two separate engines housed within the same engine block—can be powered by either gasoline or compressed natural gas (CNG), at the driver’s decision. The chosen engine is mechanically or electrically selected via an engine bank selector box using a selector control which selects the fuel type and engages a drive gear on the crankshaft of the selected engine, and transfers power to the transmission. The selector control actuates a transfer system that prevents simultaneous operation of both engines. The vehicle stays in that fuel mode until changed by the driver.

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Toyota Motor to consolidate development and production of diesel engines under TICO; manual transmissions under Aisin Seiki; brake systems under Advics

November 29, 2014

Toyota Industries Corporation (TICO) and Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) will consolidate their joint diesel engine development and production under the control of TICO. The purpose of this decision is to strengthen the competitiveness of both companies by bringing the development and production of diesel engines under one roof and enabling more efficient allocation of resources.

Further, Toyota is consolidating development and Japanese production of manual transmissions under Aisin Seiki subsidiary Aisin AI Co., Ltd. and will accelerate the consolidation of brake system engineering, manufacturing and sales under Advics, which was founded in July 2001 by Aisin Seiki, Denso, Sumitomo Electric, and TMC. (TMC, TICO, Aisin Seiki and Denso are part of the Toyota Group.)

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MHI completes development of next-generation LNG carrier; apple-shaped tanks and hybrid propulsion

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Sayaringo STaGE. Click to enlarge.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) has completed development of the “Sayaringo STaGE,” a next-generation LNG (liquefied natural gas) carrier. The Sayaringo STaGE was developed as a successor to the Sayaendo (earlier post), the company’s LNG carrier evolved from carriers with Moss-type spherical tanks that offer a high level of reliability. (Moss-type LNG carriers use independent spherical cargo tanks supported by a cylindrical skirt integrated with the hull and covered with a hemispherical steel cover attached to the main deck.)

While the Sayaendo (sayaendo = peas in a pod in Japanese) features a peapod-shaped continuous cover for the Moss spherical tanks that is integrated with the ship’s hull, in lieu of a conventional hemispherical cover, the new Sayaringo (ringo being the Japanese word for “apple”) STaGE adopts apple-shaped tanks, resulting in nearly a16% increase in LNG carrying capacity without changing the ship’s width. Further, a hybrid propulsion system has boosted fuel efficiency by more than 20% compared to the Sayaendo (and more than 40% vis-à-vis earlier carriers).

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

November 27, 2014

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

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

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

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New Mercedes-Benz compact CLA Shooting Brake; up to 60 mpg

November 26, 2014

Mercedes-Benz is introducing a Shooting Brake version of its CLA compact coupé. The CLA Shooting Brake (length/width/height: 4630/1777/1435 mm) will initially be available with a choice of two diesel and three gasoline engines—all equipped as standard with the ECO start/stop function and Euro 6-compliant—as well as with 4MATIC all-wheel drive. It goes on sale in January 2015, with the first models going to customers towards the end of March 2015.

Two years ago, with the CLS Shooting Brake, Mercedes-Benz created a sports car with five seats and a large tailgate. (Earlier post.) The CLA Shooting Brake takes the elegant Shooting Brake design into a smaller model. The new CLA Shooting Brake is the latest member of Mercedes’ successful compact range, which now includes five models. A total of 375,000 A-, B-, CLA- and GLA-Class vehicles were sold in the first ten months of 2014.

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LiquidPiston unveils 70cc rotary gasoline engine prototype embodying HEHC; power dense, low-vibration

November 19, 2014

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LiquidPiston X1 engine features three separate combustion chambers creating 3 power strokes per revolution for high power density. Source: LPI. Click to enlarge.

LiquidPiston, Inc. (LPI) the developer of engines based on its High Efficiency Hybrid Cycle (HEHC) (earlier post), has unveiled the alpha prototype of the X Mini—a power-dense, low-vibration, quiet, 70cc spark-ignited, non-Wankel rotary embodiment of the HEHC. Dr. Alexander Shkolnik, President and Co-Founder of LiquidPiston, is presenting the engine in a paper at the SAE International/JSAE 2014 Small Engine TechnologyConference today in Pisa, Italy.

The compact engine with a 4-lb (1.8 kg) core has only two primary moving parts—a rotor (the primary work-producing component) and an eccentric shaft—and fits in a 6.6" x 6.2" x 5.4" box. In prototype testing, the spark-ignited X Mini engine has shown high power density, producing 3.5 horsepower (indicated at 10,000 RPM). When mature, the engine is expected to weigh 3 pounds, produce more than 5 hp at up to 15,000 RPM, and be more than 30% smaller and lighter than comparable four-stroke piston engines.

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Federal-Mogul expands powertrain materials portfolio for more efficient heavy-duty diesel engines

November 16, 2014

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A heavy-duty exhaust valve guide with thermal deformation and temperature color scaling demonstrates high side load at high temperatures in contact with the exhaust gas. Federal-Mogul is developing powertrain materials to address conditions such as these. Source: Federal-Mogul. Click to enlarge.

Federal-Mogul Holdings Corporation’s Powertrain Division has expanded its range of high performance materials for valve guides, seats and turbocharger bushings that support the commercial vehicle industry’s drive towards more efficient engines. Providing superior wear resistance at elevated temperatures, the new materials use Federal-Mogul’s well-proven powder metal (PM) technology to add other benefits, such as greater corrosion resistance and mechanical strength, depending upon the application.

Downsized, heavily turbocharged engines with high levels of aftertreatment such as particulate filter systems and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) run hotter than their predecessors, explained Frank Zwein, Federal-Mogul’s global application engineering director, Valve Seats and Guides.

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Audi offers two new 3-cylinder engines in refreshed A1: 1.0 TFSI and MDB 1.4 TDI diesel for A1 ultra

November 14, 2014

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Audi A1. Click to enlarge.

Since their introduction on the market in 2010, the Audi A1 and A1 Sportback have sold more than 500,000 units worldwide. Audi is now refreshing its A1 models, including the offer of six engines—gasoline and diesel—that are new or that have been intensively further developed.

For the first time, Audi is offering completely new three-cylinder engines: the 1.0 TFSI gasoline engine and the 1.4 TDI diesel. The 1.4 TDI follows the 2.0L 4-cylinder engine as the second engine in the Volkswagen Group’s modular diesel engine platform (MDB). (Earlier post.) Power output—ranging from from 66 kW (90 hp) to 141 kW (192 hp)—has been increased in most engines, while fuel economy has been reduced by as much as 10% percent. The seven-speed S tronic is available for all engines, either optional or standard (with the 1.8 TFSI).

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DSM wins SPE Automotive Innovation Award for bio-based EcoPaXX integrated crankshaft cover for Volkswagen Group diesels

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EcoPaXX crankshaft cover. Click to enlarge.

A lightweight multi-functional crankshaft cover in Royal DSM’s EcoPaXX high-performance polyamide 410 was top in the Powertrain category at the Society of Plastics Engineers Automotive Division Innovation Awards Competition and Gala in Detroit. The 70% bio-based EcoPaXX is made principally from topical castor beans and is 100% carbon neutral from cradle to gate. Castor oil is obtained from the Ricinus Communis plant, which grows in tropical regions on relatively poor soil, and does not compete with the food-chain.

The EcoPaXX crankshaft cover is produced by DSM’s automotive component specialist partner KACO in Germany for the latest generation of MDB-4 TDI diesel engines developed by the Volkswagen Group. The engines are fitted to various car models made by VW, Audi, Seat and Škoda. Dr. Lutz Wohlfarth from Volkswagen, and Marcio Lima from KACO were both at the Gala in Detroit to collect the SPE award.

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Volkswagen outlines a range of near-term technologies for reducing fuel consumption and emissions; stop-start 2.0, 10-speed DSG

November 11, 2014

Volkswagen presented its latest technologies for reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions—which includes the first 10-speed dual-clutch gearbox (DSG)—in an Innovation Workshop for the media at the Ehra-Lessien test track facility near Wolfsburg.

Volkswagen AG has set the goal of becoming the world’s most sustainable carmaker by the year 2018. Compared to baseline figures for 2010, the Group wants to reduce energy and water consumption, waste generation and emissions (including CO2 emissions) by 25% in all of its business areas. (I.e., VW’s “Strategy 2018”, earlier post.) To achieve this, the Volkswagen brand—the highest volume brand of the Group—is counting on electric mobility (zero-emission and plug-in hybrid models); on continually more fuel-efficient combustion engines and gearboxes; progressive lightweight design; aerodynamics; and efficiency “in every conceivable area”.

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Honda beginning sales of Legend with 3-motor Sport Hybrid SH-AWD system in January; V6 with cylinder deactivation

November 10, 2014

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. will begin sales of the all-new Legend flagship sedan (its cousin is already on sale in the US as the Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD) at dealerships across Japan on 22 January 2015. The fifth-generation Legend features the 3-motor Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system also offered in the RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD (earlier post).

Positioned at the front of the vehicle is a newly developed V6 3.5L direct injection i-VTEC engine and a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT) with an integrated 35 kW electric motor. The rear-mounted TMU (Twin Motor Unit) contains two 27-kilowatt motors that dynamically distribute electric-motor torque to the rear wheels. Both the front and rear motors capture kinetic energy during vehicle deceleration and braking and convert it to electricity to supply the Intelligent Power Unit’s 72-cell, 1.3-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, located behind the rear seatback. Teaming up with a high-output lithium-ion battery, the control unit coordinates the operation of the engine and three motors.

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New generation smart fortwo and forfour offer new drive systems, suspension

November 04, 2014

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The new generation smart forfour and fortwo. Click to enlarge.

The new generation smart fortwo and forfour city cars (earlier post), developed in cooperation with Renault, offer a new range of drive systems: three three-cylinder engines rated at 45 kW/60 hp, 52 kW/71 hp and 66 kW/90 hp, coupled with a five-speed manual transmission or the twinamic dual clutch transmission.

The two most powerful engines will be available for the launch on the market in Europe on 22 November, and the basic gasoline engine will follow a few months after the market introduction. The smart forfour now also features the rear-mounted engine design of the fortwo.

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CDTi introduces Spinel technology to replace PGMs and rare earths in catalytic converters

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CDTi says that its Spinel technology uses various base metals to create an effective exhaust catalyst. Click to enlarge.

Clean Diesel Technologies, Inc. announced new proprietary technology—which it calls Spinel—to replace costly platinum group (PGM) and rare earth metals in catalytic converters. The new technology will power multiple catalytic product lines that CDTi believes will be highly disruptive to the traditional platinum-based or rare-earth based device industry. This is CDTi’s first public announcement regarding its Spinel technology, the development of which has been kept confidential until now.

Spinel is the name initially given to naturally-occurring magnesium aluminate (MgAl2O4) and is now used to describe any composition with the same structure. CDTi’s “Spinel” technology utilizes various base metals which when combined together in a common structure achieve unusual and very effective catalytic conversion activity. The technology is applicable in a wide range of engine and vehicle applications, both gasoline and diesel, as well as other potential vertical markets, CDTi says.

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Researchers in POWERFUL develop new two-stroke diesel featuring low consumption and low criteria emissions

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Two-stroke diesel in test car. Click to enlarge.

A European project led by Renault, in collaboration with the Czech Technical University in Prague, IFP Energies Nouvelles, Delphi, Le Moteur Moderne (LMM) and Universitat Politècnica de València have developed an advanced two-cylinder, two-stroke compression ignition (CI) engine integrating LTHC (low temperature homogeneous combustion) as part of the European project POWERFUL (POWERtrain for FUture Light-duty vehicles).

The €25-million (US$31-million) FP7 project, which ended in June, also supported two other engine projects: an advanced four-stroke two-cylinder SI engine concept characterized by low-cost / low emissions; and an advanced four-stroke, three-cylinder CI engine concept able to run also on new tailored fuels and integrating the LTC (low temperature combustion) mode in the CI combustion system.

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Daimler opens new MB R&D center in Beijing, presents G-Code hydrogen-electric plug-in hybrid all-wheel drive concept

Daimler Greater China opened its new 865-million RMB Mercedes-Benz Research & Development Center in China and extended its local R%D network in Beijing. A new Advanced Design Studio is a centerpiece of the R&D facility and represents the company’s new design hub in Asia. At the official opening, Gorden Wagener, Head of Design Daimler AG, presented the Mercedes-Benz G-Code plug-in hybrid crossover show car.

The G-Code is powered by two individually controlled drive cores: a compact, turbocharged hydrogen-fueled combustion engine which solely drives the front wheels, and an electric motor which drives the rear axle and transmits its power selectively to the two wheels via a dual multi-disc clutch. Disclaimer: Mercedes-Benz emphasized that the G-Code, like the previously introduced Ener-G-Force and GT 6 vehicle studies, “makes absolutely no claim to be implemented within foreseeable periods.”

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Mercedes-AMG HPP awarded Dewar Trophy for PU106A Hybrid F1 Power Unit

October 30, 2014

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The Dewar Trophy was presented to Andy Cowell, Managing Director of HPP, along with members of his project team from Brixworth. Click to enlarge.

The UK’s Royal Automobile Club (RAC) has awarded the prestigious Dewar Trophy, presented for outstanding technical achievement in the automotive industry, to Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) for the design of the PU106A Hybrid Formula One Power Unit. (Earlier post.)

The team at HPP was recognized for its development of the most advantageous powertrain within the new Formula One regulations. The aim for 2014 was to raise the engine efficiency from around 29% for the previous normally aspirated 2.4-liter V8 to better than 40% with the new 1.6-liter V6 Hybrid turbo. The successful design, research and teamwork resulted in the Mercedes-Benz PU106A Hybrid Power Unit, which has not only been the dominant powertrain in this first season under the new Formula One rules, but is also arguably among the most thermally efficient gasoline powertrains ever produced, with a claimed thermal efficiency of greater than 40%.

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Mercedes-Benz wins MATERIALICA awards for diesel passenger car steel pistons and CFRP struts

October 25, 2014

Mercedes-Benz received two MATERIALICA Design and Technology Awards at the MATERIALICA 2014 trade fair for materials applications, surface technology and product engineering in Munich. The first was for the new steel pistons for diesel engines (earlier post), the second for high-strength carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) struts.

The MATERIALICA Award 2014 comprised five categories: Material; Surface & Technology; Product; CO2 Efficiency; and Student. The MATERIALICA Design + Technology Award focuses on product and technological developments in all sectors which implement a successful bundling of competencies.

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Ford investing $306M more at Dagenham for new generation of 2.0L diesels; LCVs from 2016 and cars from 2018

October 20, 2014

Ford is investing an additional £190 million (US$306 million) at its Dagenham London site to produce a family of all-new advanced 2.0-liter diesel engines (code-named Panther) in a wide range of outputs due to be applied in commercial vehicles starting in 2016 and in cars starting in 2018. (Earlier post.) This investment includes £8.9 million (US$14.3 million) from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund. Ford is creating 318 new jobs connected with this investment.

The announcement confirms the second phase of investment in the new engine program following the original investment of £287 million (US$462.3 million) for phase one with support from the UK Government’s Regional Growth Fund. The first phase of investment relates to the production of low-carbon 2.0-liter diesel engines for Ford commercial vehicles (CVs) globally. The second phase is for low-carbon, 2.0-liter diesel engines for passenger cars.

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California Energy Commission to award up to $2.25M for R&D on advanced ignition systems for Class 3-8 natural gas engines

October 10, 2014

The California Energy Commission has issued a funding notice (PON-14-501) to support the applied research and development of advanced high-energy ignition systems capable of overcoming the challenges of igniting natural gas fuel under high boost pressures with heavy exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) for spark-ignited Class 3-8 engines.

Ignition characteristics of natural gas fuel represent challenges to engine manufacturers working to satisfy tighter emission standards, achieve lower fuel consumption and higher engine performance, and respond to market demand for extended maintenance options. Funded projects must involve the development and demonstration of one or both of the following concepts for new or existing ignition systems:

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

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

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

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2015 VW Jetta TDI: a more refined, powerful and efficient diesel within a nicely redesigned model line

October 07, 2014

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2015 Jetta TDI. Click to enlarge.

The Jetta is Volkswagen’s current best selling car in the US; total 2014 Jetta sales through September were 115,055 units, or 42.5% of Volkswagen USA total sales. In addition, its diesel version is the top selling passenger car diesel in the market here, with about 29% share, according to figures compiled by Baum & Associates and hybridcars.com.

For 2015, Volkswagen has refined the entire sixth-generation Jetta lineup, endowing the compact with a crisper exterior design which also improves aerodynamics; an updated interior; a number of newly available driver assistance systems; and, significantly for the diesel model, the new 2.0T TDI Clean Diesel EA288 engine (earlier post) with an EPA-rated highway fuel economy rating of 46 mpg with the manual transmission (45 mpg automatic). Volkswagen’s refreshed 2015 Jetta is now in showrooms in the US.

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Volvo Cars reveals triple-boosted 4-cylinder, 450 hp Drive-E powertrain concept

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Drive-E Powertrain Concept. Click to enlarge.

Volvo has developed a concept 2-liter, 4-cylinder, triple-boost Drive-E concept engine that delivers 450 hp (336 kW). The 450 hp High Performance Drive-E Powertrain Concept is based on a set of technologies not usually found in a four-cylinder engine.

The engine utilizes two parallel turbochargers, which are fed by an electrically powered turbo-compressor. The compressed air from this unit, rather than being fed to the cylinders, is instead used to spool up the two parallel turbochargers. Fuel is fed by a dual fuel pump working at 250 bar pressure. With this kind of power density, this triple boost installation and unique fuel system enables a very dynamic drivability without any turbo lag, compared to a mono-turbo.

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Major refresh on 2015 Honda CR-V with new Earth Dreams powertrain provides fuel economy gain of up to 12%

October 04, 2014

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2015 Honda CR-V. Click to enlarge.

Honda has given its 2015 CR-V compact SUV, which launched in US dealerships on 1 October, the most significant mid-model cycle refresh in the 17-year history of the model. The 2015 CR-V offers a new direct-injected Earth Dreams Technology i-VTEC engine and new continuously variable transmission (CVT); a new suite of “Honda Sensing” safety and driver assistance systems (DAS); significantly enhanced exterior and interior styling; as well a long list of new standard and available features and a new premium Touring trim.

The 2015 CR-V features increased EPA fuel economy ratings of 27/34/29 mpg (8.7/6.9/8.1 l/100 km) (city/highway/combined) for front-wheel-drive models and 26/33/28 mpg (9.0/7.1/8.4 l/100 km) for Real Time AWD models, both increasing +4/+3/+3 mpg over 2014 models—i.e., an increase in the combined rating of 11.5% and 12%, respectively, compared to the 2014 models.

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Infiniti Q80 Inspiration concept hybrid delivers 550 hp with 42.8 mpg fuel economy

October 02, 2014

Infiniti unveiled the Q80 Inspiration concept car at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, it what it called a signal of its intent to break into the top tier of the premium sedan category; the concept will lead to a future model. The four-door fastback is powered by a hybrid electric powertrain that is expected to deliver 550 hp (410 kW) with fuel consumption of 5.5 L/100 km (42.8 mpg US) and CO2 emissions of about 129 g/km.

The powertrain incorporates a new aluminum-based downsized twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that is part of a new engine family which will be introduced within the next two years. (Infiniti plans to double its powertrain range over the next five years.) The 450 hp (336 kW) V6 gasoline engine will be supported by an electric motor powered by a Li-ion battery pack, capable of adding around 75 kW (100 hp) hybrid power boost when required, and a 9-speed automatic gearbox.

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Hyundai showcasing new downsized turbo engines and 7-speed dual-clutch transmission; i40 48V Hybrid, i30 CNG

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New engines and transmission. Click to enlarge.

Hyundai Motor is showcasing two new turbocharged gasoline direct injected (T-GDI) engines at the Paris Motor Show 2014. Both engines—1.0-liter and 1.4-liter units which are part of a new generation of engines from the Kappa family—meet growing demand for small capacity, turbocharged engines to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emission without compromising performance.

In addition, Hyundai is premiering at the Paris show its first 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, fitted into the i30 CNG natural gas concept car, which contributes to improved fuel efficiency. Hyundai is also displaying the diesel i40 48V hybrid concept, featuring a lead-carbon battery.

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Westport updates HPDI 2.0 dual fuel system with new Delphi injectors, upgraded LNG storage and supply

October 01, 2014

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1st-generation Westport HPDI Injector and next-generation injector. (CNW Group/Westport Innovations Inc. Click to enlarge.

Westport Innovations Inc. is updating its second-generation Westport high pressure direct injection (Westport HPDI 2.0) (earlier post) development program with a new family of high-pressure fuel injectors, co-developed with Delphi Automotive PLC. The new injectors are designed to provide lower cost, smaller size and improved packaging compared to prior generation Westport HPDI injector designs.

The new generation injectors are running in engine tests today and are on display at the Delphi booth at the IAA Commercial Vehicles Show in Hanover, Germany.

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Chrysler’s Ram Truck increases EcoDiesel mix to 20% of Ram 1500 production; double expectations

September 30, 2014

Chrysler’s Ram has decided to increase the 3.0-liter V-6 EcoDiesel powertrain mix to 20% of the total Ram 1500 production volume—double the initial expectation. The EcoDiesel delivers 240 hp (179 kW), 420 lb-ft (569 N·m) of torque with up to 9,200 pounds (4,173 lbs) of towing capability and 28 mpg highway (8.4 l/100 km) in the full-size half-ton pickup. (Earlier post.)

When the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel opened for orders earlier this year, Ram Truck received more than 8,000 requests within three days, which quickly filled the initial allocation for the powertrain.

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Honeywell Global Turbo Forecast projects 49M turbocharged vehicle sales, $12B revenue per year by 2019

The automotive turbocharging industry will generate $12 billion in revenue by equipping 49 million vehicles with turbochargers annually by 2019, according to Honeywell Turbo Technologies’ 2014 Global Turbo Forecast. The continued growth of turbocharging technologies will be driven by requirements for manufacturers to meet global environmental emissions regulations and bolstered by strong demand in emerging markets.

Automakers are turning to downsized turbocharged engines to satisfy more stringent global fuel economy and emission regulations and customer demand for better-performing vehicles. Turbochargers can help downsized engines improve fuel economy as much as 20 to 40% in gasoline and diesel engines, respectively, when compared with larger naturally aspirated engines and still provide the same or better engine performance. In addition to improving fuel efficiency, downsized turbocharged engines also reduce harmful exhaust emissions.

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New Ford Mondeo to offer new high-power diesel, 1L EcoBoost, hybrid model, pedestrian detection technology

September 24, 2014

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Mondeo 5-door. Click to enlarge.

Ford Motor Company announced that the all-new Ford Mondeo (which is badged as Fusion in the US) in Europe will offer a new high-power diesel engine in addition to a new 1.0L EcoBoost gasoline engine option and a new hybrid option. The new Mondeo goes on sale as a four-door hybrid, five-door or wagon in dealerships across Europe later this year. The high-powered diesel will be available in early 2015.

Additionally, the new Mondeo will be Ford’s first car globally to offer a new pedestrian detection technology that could help reduce the severity of accidents or help drivers avoid them altogether.

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Westport unveils proprietary enhanced spark-ignited natural gas system; up to 10% improvement in power and torque over diesel

September 23, 2014

Westport Innovations Inc. unveiled the first generation of its new, proprietary enhanced spark-ignited (ESI) natural gas system. The new approach to natural gas combustion technology is designed to provide vehicle and engine original manufacturers (OEMs) with a “downsized” natural gas solution that is cost competitive while providing similar levels of power, torque, and fuel economy to a larger diesel engine.

Using 100% dedicated natural gas as fuel, Westport’s new technology optimizes the combustion and thermal efficiencies of the engine by taking advantages of the positive properties of natural gas. The Westport ESI combustion system is targeted at sub 9L engines for Class 6 and 7 trucks applications and is also adaptable for sub 2L applications for use in automotive and non-automotive applications.

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ORNL team using neutron imaging to study cavitation inside GDI fuel injector

September 22, 2014

Researchers from the Fuels, Engines and Emissions Research Center (FEERC) at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and collaborators from ORNL’s High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) (earlier post) are using neutron imaging to study the formation of damage-causing bubbles in fuel injectors. When gas bubbles form in injectors, they disrupt the spray pattern and ultimately deteriorate the injector material properties.

Under a Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) project, the team, led by Eric Nafziger, Derek Splitter and Todd Toops from FEERC/ORNL, is attempting to make the first neutron images of cavitation—the physical event that leads to bubble/gas formation—inside the body of a spray-guided gasoline direct-injection (SGDI) unmodified 6-hole injector.

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Study finds US refining sector could produce higher octane E20 and E30 at modest additional cost; enabling more efficient engines

September 18, 2014

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A new study concludes that using ethanol can be a cost-effective approach to increasing the octane rating of the US gasoline pool. Source: ACS, Hirshfeld et al. Click to enlarge.

A number of studies recently have pointed out that increasing the octane rating of the US gasoline pool (currently ∼93 Research Octane Number (RON)) would enable higher engine efficiency for light-duty vehicles through reducing engine knock constraints, thereby enabling the design of new spark-ignition engines with higher compression ratios and boost levels. (Earlier post.) Such a move would also have significant implications for refineries in the US refining sector, whether the higher octane was achieved via more severe refining operations, increased use of ethanol, or both.

A linear programming analysis of US refining sector by a team from MathPro Inc., Ford, GM and Chrysler has found that, by increasing the volume of ethanol, the refining sector could produce hydrocarbon blendstocks for oxygenate blending (BOBs) yielding finished E20 and E30 gasolines with higher octane ratings at modest additional refining cost (ARC): e.g., ∼1¢/gal for 95-RON E20 or 97-RON E30; 3–5¢/gal for 95-RON E10, 98-RON E20, or 100-RON E30; and 96-RON E10, 99-RON E20, or 101-RON E30 gasoline pools at approximately 10¢/gal.

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MAHLE NanoNapier Steel piston ring helps reduce weight and improve quality

MAHLE has developed a piston ring with new technology that offers engine manufacturers improvements in weight, quality and overall value. MAHLE’s new “second” piston ring uses chrome-silicon steel to replace cast iron traditionally used for the second of three rings found on gasoline-powered spark-ignition engines. MAHLE’s thinner, lighter-weight steel-wire design for the second ring is based on the company’s own NanoNapier Steel (NNS) technology for which a patent is pending.

Conventionally, there are two types of piston rings: compression and oil control. A piston assembly includes one or more compression rings that generate a seal between the outer surface of the piston and the wall of the cylinder to prevent high-pressure combustion gases and air from escaping the combustion chamber. Today’s engines have three piston rings: two compression rings: top (or first) and second and the oil control ring. The second ring is known as a Napier ring.

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Two new generation TwinPower Turbo diesels in BMW 518d and 520d; up to 57.4 mpg

September 17, 2014

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New BMW 518d sedan. Click to enlarge.

BMW has introduced two variants of its new generation of 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel engines in the 5 Series which boost the output of the new BMW 518d and new BMW 520d by another 5 kW apiece. Average fuel consumption drops to as little as 4.1 l/100 km (57.4 mpg US) (European cycle) and CO2 emissions to 109 g/km; this marks a reduction in consumption and CO2 emissions in the EU test cycle by as much as 0.4 liters per 100 kilometers / 10 grams per kilometer.

For example, the new BMW 520d Sedan—which now produces 140 kW/190 hp—burns 4.7–4.3 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers (50 - 54.7 mpg US) with CO2 emissions of 114–124 g/km. If the optional eight-speed Steptronic transmission is specified, these figures improve further to 4.5–4.1 l/100 km (52.3 – 57.4 mpg US) with CO2 emissions of 109–119 g/km, depending on the tire format fitted.

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Ford introduces new C-MAX and Grand C-MAX with standard Start-Stop on new EcoBoost and diesel engines

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New Ford C-MAX. Click to enlarge.

Ford of Europe has unveiled the new C-MAX and Grand C-MAX prior to the Paris Motor Show. The models offer significantly improved CO2 figures and for the first time feature as standard Ford’s Auto-Start-Stop technology on EcoBoost gasoline and 2.0-liter TDCi diesel engines. The most improved model is expected to offer a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions.

The new C-MAX family powertrain line-up is being extended to include Ford’s fuel-efficient new 1.5-liter EcoBoost gasoline engine with 150 PS (110 kW) and 182 PS (134 kW), and also will be offered with Ford’s new 1.5-liter TDCi diesel engine, delivering 95 PS (70 kW) or 120 PS (88 kW), and a new ECOnetic version that is expected to deliver 99 g/km CO2 in the five-seat C-MAX. The C-MAX family will continue to be offered with 100 PS (74 kW) and 125 PS (92 kW) versions of the multi-award winning 1.0-liter EcoBoost gasoline engine.

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Ford reveals all-new S-MAX; Adaptive Steering Technology

Ford of Europe revealed the all-new S‑MAX seven-seat sports activity vehicle. The new S-MAX will debut Ford Adaptive Steering technology in Europe for optimized response to driver input when it goes on sale in 2015. It will also offer Intelligent All-Wheel Drive and a range of powertrains—including a new 1.5-liter EcoBoost gasoline engine.

S-MAX will also be the first Ford globally to feature Ford Dynamic LED Headlamps with Glare-Free Highbeam that maintain maximum illumination without distracting other road users. Ford’s advanced Pre-Collision Assist technology will assist in mitigating accidents even at motorway speeds.

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New gen 2.0L diesel for BMW 220d Coupe, Active Tourer; coming 3-cylinder diesel

September 16, 2014

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BMW 2 Series Coupe. Click to enlarge.

BMW is introducing a new generation (earlier post) four-cylinder 2.0-liter diesel for its 220d Coupe and 220d Active Tourer. Coupled with the optional 8-speed Steptronic transmission, the BMW 220d Coupe now only hits the 100 km/h mark in a 7 seconds, but also attains a CO2 emission level of less than 100 grams/km. In the Active Tourer, the engine delivers combined fuel consumption of 4.5 - 4.4 l/100 km (52.3 - 53.5 mpg US) with CO2 emissions of 119 – 115 g/km).

The 2-liter diesel power unit is a member of the new BMW Group engine family. It features the latest version of BMW TwinPower Turbo technology, achieves a maximum power output of 140 kW/190 hp, while delivering a maximum torque of 400 N·m (295 lb-ft). With the standard 6-speed manual gearbox, the two-door car accomplishes an average fuel consumption of 4.4 to 4.1 liters/100 km (53.5 to 57.4 mpg US) and a CO2 level of 115 to 107 grams per km.

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SwRI launching consortium to develop new dynamic engine bearing test rig

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has announced the formation of a consortium for joint research into new technologies to evaluate engine bearings for internal combustion engines. The objective of the Dynamic Bearing Rig Consortium is to design, to demonstrate and to validate a dynamically loaded bearing test rig that can replicate the variable loads critical to how bearings perform in an operating engine under transient and steady-state conditions.

Various rig tests are used in the bearing industry for comparative material evaluation. While these tests are effective in comparing new materials and coatings against existing designs, they do not successfully replicate the engine operating environment. As such, SwRI notes, they are not useful in correlating fatigue or scuff performance to what is seen in the field.

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Peugeot introducing new Euro-6 versions of 3-cylinder gasoline and 4-cylinder diesel engines

September 15, 2014

Peugeot is introducing new Euro 6-compliant versions of its three-cylinder PureTech gasoline and four-cylinder BlueHDI diesel engines. All are equipped with Stop & Start (S&S) technology. Each engine is also coupled with Peugeot’s third-generation Efficient Automatic Transmission 6 (EAT6) transmission.

The introduction of the new engines has reduced the average weighted CO2 emissions of Peugeot’s European range to 111.2 g/km, as measured at the end of May 2014. That compares with 115.1 g/km at the same point in 2013, putting PSA Peugeot Citroën at the top of the CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) ranking.

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

September 12, 2014

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

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

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UK EPSRC awards almost $10M to two low-carbon vehicle technology projects; energy storage, engines and fuels

September 11, 2014

Two new low-carbon vehicle technology research projects will receive £6 million (US$9.7 million) funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), as part of the Research Councils UK (RCUK) Energy Programme. The two discrete projects—ELEVATE (ELEctrochemical Vehicle Advanced Technology) and Ultra Efficient Engines and Fuels—will involve academics from eight UK universities.

The announcement was made by UK Minister for Universities, Science and Cities, Greg Clark to coincide with the annual Low Carbon Vehicle Event - LCV Cenex 2014 at the Millbrook Proving Ground near Bedford.

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Opel’s new generation 2.0L turbo diesel to debut in Paris

September 10, 2014

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Opel’s new generation, 125 kW/170 hp 2.0 CDTI for Insignia and Zafira Tourer. Click to enlarge.

Opel’s new-generation, 2.0-liter turbo diesel will make its debut in the Insignia and Zafira Tourer at “Mondial de l’Automobile 2014” in Paris (4-19 October. Delivering 125 kW/170 hp and torque of 400 N·m (295 lb-ft), it will replace the current 120 kW/163 hp 2.0 CDTI engine at the top of Opel’s diesel range.

The Euro 6 compliant engine delivers almost 5% more horsepower and 14% more torque while reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. The engine is also quiet and smooth as a result of Opel’s focus on sound engineering measures to minimize NVH (noise, vibration, harshness).

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Jaguar Land Rover investing $1.6M in two new Centers of Excellence for Engine Combustion Research at Oxford and University College London; gasoline and diesel

Jaguar Land Rover announced the creation of two new Centers of Excellence for Engine Combustion Research at two leading UK universities. The £1-million (US$1.6 million) investment will be shared equally between University College London (UCL) and the University of Oxford to support the development of new research facilities and fund two 5-year study programs.

Each center will focus on specific combustion technologies, both targeting higher engine efficiency. The work at UCL’s Department of Mechanical Engineering will be dedicated to spark ignition in gasoline engines, led by Dr. Pavlos Aleiferis. At the University of Oxford’s Department of Engineering Science, Dr. Martin Davy will lead the project on compression ignition in diesel engines.

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New Ford Focus in Europe delivers fuel economy improvements up to 19% with new 1.5L TDCi; 1.5L EcoBoost, Enhanced Transitional Stability

September 09, 2014

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New Ford Focus. Click to enlarge.

The new Ford Focus for Europe (earlier post) delivers the car’s most fuel-efficient powertrain line-up yet with improvements of up to 19%, and a significant CO2 emission reduction across the entire line-up.

The new Focus will be the first vehicle in Europe to offer Ford’s new 1.5-liter EcoBoost gasoline engine and new Focus also will be available for the first time with Ford’s 1.5-liter TDCi diesel engine. Ford engineers have further optimized power, torque and fuel efficiency from the 2.0-liter TDCi engine; and Focus will continue to be offered with the award-winning 1.0-liter EcoBoost gasoline engine, including a 99 g/km CO2 1.0-liter EcoBoost model.

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Chevy’s Cruze Diesel: a compact diesel contender in the US

September 08, 2014

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The Cruze Diesel is identified by a discreet badge on the trunk. Click to enlarge.

US buyers hunting for a non-premium diesel passenger car (i.e., not a truck or SUV, and not a vehicle from BMW, Audi, Porsche or Mercedes-Benz) have until recently only had Volkswagen-brand cars as an option: Beetle, Golf, Jetta, Passat. Accordingly, Volkswagen of America (VoA) diesel sales to date in 2014 represent slightly north of 23% of all Volkswagen of America sales. In August, Jetta posted 3,988 diesels sales (26% of Jetta sales, while Passat TDI sales were 2,767 units, representing 30.1% of sales of the vehicle.

However, Chevrolet is trying to challenge that passenger car diesel hegemony with the compact Cruze Diesel, introduced for MY 2014, and now with a facelift for MY 2015. (Earlier post.) Chevrolet is positioning the Cruze, which features a US-modified 2.0L diesel from GM’s European lineup (the engine is manufactured in Kaiserslautern, Germany) to challenge Jetta on the basis of highway fuel economy and power, as well as content. Based on a week with the car (MY2014), the claimed fuel economy superiority may be tough to realize in real-world driving (especially in the face of the new, more fuel-efficient diesel in the 2015 Jetta, earlier post) but overall, the Cruze Diesel is a worthy challenger, and a very good and thrifty drive, especially on the highway.

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Camry in Europe features new 2.0L engine with VVT-iW for both Atkinson and Otto cycles; 13% lower fuel consumption

September 05, 2014

The 2014 Camry in Europe is benefitting from a new, Euro V-compliant, 4-cylinder, 1,998 cc, 16v, DOHC petrol engine mated to a 6-speed Multi-mode automatic transmission which replaces the existing 2.0-liter unit and its 4-speed automatic transmission.

With a high 12.8:1 compression ratio, the new engine generates maximum power of 150 DIN hp/110 kW at 5,600 - 6,500 rpm, and maximum torque of 199 N·m (147 lb-ft) at 4,600 rpm. This accelerates the Camry from 0-100 km/h in 10.4 seconds, and on to a top speed of 210 km/h (130 mph). At 7.2 l/100 km (32.7 mpg US), fuel consumption is a substantial 13% less than that of the outgoing engine.

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Researchers propose new class of high-temperature alloy; eutectic high-entropy alloys with both high ductility and high strength

August 29, 2014

High-entropy alloys (HEAs), which represent an emerging effort in materials science and engineering, are multi-principal-element (at least four) alloys that are promising for high-temperature applications due to their high resistance to softening at elevated temperatures and sluggish diffusion kinetics.

However, HEAs so far have either high strength or high ductility; achieving both has been a challenge. Further, the inferior castability and compositional segregation of HEAs have been obstacles for commercialization. Now, researchers in China are proposing a new strategy for designing high-entropy alloys using the eutectic alloy concept to accomplish both attributes. As reported in a paper in Nature’s open access journal Scientific Reports, an eutectic high-entropy alloy (EHEA) showed an “unprecedented” combination of high tensile ductility and high fracture strength at room temperature. The excellent mechanical properties could be kept up to 700 °C.

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Volvo reveals new XC90; limited diesel, gasoline First Edition on sale only online

August 27, 2014

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The new XC90, with “Thor’s hammer” DRL lights. Click to enlarge.

Volvo Cars revealed the XC90, its new 7-seat SUV, at an event in Sweden. Three years in the making and part of an $11-billion investment program, the new XC90 leverages the new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) technology, and will offer a range of two-liter, four-cylinder Drive-E powertrains. The two launch engines are the D5 twin turbo diesel and the T6 supercharged and turbocharged gasoline unit. Top of the model range will be the XC90 Twin Engine—a plug-in hybrid delivering around 400 hp (298 kW) with carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of around 60 g/km (NEDC driving cycle). (Earlier post.)

Volvo Cars also announced the release of a limited First Edition of its new flagship; the 1,927 individually numbered cars celebrate the year Volvo was founded and will only be available for sale online at www.volvocars.com, beginning 3 Sep.

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Shanghai GM introduces new Chevrolet Cruze; up to 24% more fuel efficient than current generation

August 22, 2014

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The new Chevrolet Cruze. Click to enlarge.

Shanghai GM officially launched the new generation Chevrolet Cruze midsize performance sedan in Shenzhen. Priced between RMB 109,900 and RMB 169,900 (US$17,870 and US$27,626), the new Cruze is offered in China in seven variants with a choice of segment-first 1.4L mid-mounted direct injection turbocharged or 1.5L mid-mounted naturally aspirated gasoline engines. Among its features are an energy-efficient automatic climate control which filters out 90% of PM2.5 in the interior.

The mid-mounted direct injection engine technology and wide range of fuel-saving features such as start/stop technology and ultra-low rolling resistance tires make the new Cruze up to 24% more fuel efficient than the current-generation Cruze. The engines offer peak fuel economy of only 5.9 liters per 100 km. In addition, they are up to 50% quieter than engines in competitive models.

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DOE awards $17M for vehicle technologies; batteries, PEEM, engines, materials, fuel

August 21, 2014

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is awarding $17.6 million in 14 cooperative agreements with small businesses and institutions of higher education to develop and to deploy efficient and environmentally friendly highway transportation technologies that will help reduce petroleum use in the United States. The awards made under an Incubator Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0000988) issued in January. (Earlier post.)

The newly selected projects are in five areas: energy storage; power electronics and electric motors (PEEM); advanced combustion engines; materials technologies, and fuels and lubricant technologies. Awardees are:

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Volvo Trucks introduces new monofuel natural gas version of FE

August 20, 2014

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Volvo FE CNG. Click to enlarge.

Volvo Trucks is expanding its model range in Europe with a new version of the Volvo FE running entirely on natural gas. The Volvo FE CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) has been primarily developed for operations involving short driving cycles with repeated starts and stops such as refuse collection and local distribution.

The Volvo FE CNG is powered by an all-new 9-liter Euro 6 engine featuring spark plug technology that produces 320 hp (239 kW) and 1356 N·m (1000 lb-ft) of torque. Spark plug technology is particularly suitable for driving cycles where the truck covers short distances with a lot of start-stop traffic, said Christina Eriksson, Business Manager Alternative Drivelines at Volvo Trucks.

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DOE to award more than $55M to 31 projects for plug-in and efficient vehicle technologies; Delphi receives $10M to further GDCI

August 14, 2014

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is awarding more than $55 million to 31 new projects to accelerate research and development of vehicle technologies that will improve fuel efficiency and reduce costs under a program-wide funding opportunity announced in January. (DE-FOA-0000991, earlier post.) These new projects are aimed at meeting the goals and objectives of the President’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge (19 projects), as well as improvements in other vehicle technologies such as powertrains, fuel, tires and auxiliary systems (12 projects).

The largest single award ($10 million) goes to Delphi Automotive Systems to further the development of its Gasoline Direct-Injection Compression Ignition (GDCI) low-temperature combustion technology (earlier post) that provides high thermal efficiency with low NOx and PM emissions. The largest number of awards (9) in a single area of interest goes to developing beyond Li-ion battery technologies.

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Emissions study suggests E10 + renewable hydrocarbons a high bioenergy alternative for conventional cars

Researchers from VTT Technical Research Center of Finland and Neste Oil analyzed the exhaust emissions from three different spark ignition engine technologies—multipoint fuel injection (MPFI); direct-injection spark-ignition (DISI); and flex-fuel (FFV)—using different biofuels—low- and high-concentration ethanol blends; isobutanol; and biohydrocarbons. They report their findings in a paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Among their conclusions was that the combination of ethanol or isobutanol with renewable hydrocarbon components (i.e., drop-in biohydrocarbons) could offer an option to achieve a high-bioenergy-content gasoline that is compatible with conventional gasoline-fueled cars (i.e., those limited to a 10% ethanol blend) without a significant change in emissions.

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Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations reveals new lightweight E-type

August 12, 2014

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Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations’ new Lightweight E-type. Click to enlarge.

Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations unveiled its new Lightweight E-type—the first recreation to come from Jaguar Heritage, which operates within the Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations division. Only 6 will be built. Car Zero has been completed and, on 14 August, will be revealed at the opening reception to the Pebble Beach Automotive weekend. Jaguar announced in May 2014 that it would recreate six new Lightweights, each built by Jaguar Heritage, part of Jaguar Land Rover’s new Special Operations division.

In recreating the Lightweight, Jaguar Heritage has drawn on Jaguar’s engineering and design resources, including the company’s aluminum body technology. The specification includes an aluminum bodyshell with doors, trunklid, hardtop and hood also in aluminum. The six-cylinder XK engine mirrors the original power units, with an aluminum block, wide-angle aluminum cylinder head and dry sump lubrication.

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Mercedes-Benz to use new steel pistons in V6 diesel of E 350 BlueTEC

August 11, 2014

Mercedes-Benz will replace conventional aluminum pistons with a new generation of steel pistons in the V6 diesel engine of the E 350 BlueTEC in September. Combined with the innovative NANOSLIDE (earlier post) cylinder bore coating technology and the aluminum housing, the advantages of the shift include lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

Mercedes-Benz has already announced the coming use of steel pistons in the OM 626 four-cylinder diesel produced by Renault and applied in the C-Class Estate. (Earlier post.)

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