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Fuel Efficiency

[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.]

MIT study: higher octane standard fuel in US could lower fleet fuel consumption & GHG an extra 4.5-6% by 2040

April 24, 2014

Offering a higher-octane gasoline to the consumer market in the US as the standard grade could deliver an incremental 4.5% to 6% reduction in fleet fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, on top of a projected 26.8% reduction by then in the baseline case (i.e., without higher octane fuel, but with other projected vehicle and powertrain technology improvements), according to a new analysis by a team at MIT. For their paper, the team proposed a 98 RON gasoline—currently the US premium grade—as the new standard fuel. In other words, they proposed making the current premium fuel the new standard grade.

The analysis by Eric Chow, John Heywood and Raymond Speth, presented as a paper at the recent SAE 2014 World Congress, seeks to quantify the reductions in consumption and GHG if new vehicles designed to use the higher-octane fuel were deployed. Raising octane reduces engine knock constraints, enabling the design of new spark-ignition engines with higher compression ratios and boost levels. This leads to improved engine efficiencies and the sought reductions. (Earlier post.)

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

April 22, 2014

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

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

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

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Oak Ridge researchers pursuing in-cylinder reforming for control of advanced combustion

April 21, 2014

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are pursuing investigations into the use of a non-catalytic in-cylinder reforming process—i.e., the conversion of liquid hydrocarbon fuel to a hydrogen- and CO-rich syngas—potentially for controlling combustion phasing in homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI) and other forms of advanced combustion.

When fuel is injected during negative valve overlap (NVO) in O2-deficient conditions, a portion of the fuel is reformed to products containing H2 and CO. In a paper presented at the recent SAE 2014 World Congress, the ORNL team and colleague from Sandia National Laboratories reported on the chemistry of an NVO in-cylinder reforming process as experimentally determined from a single-cylinder engine. The Oak Ridge team plans to pursue the in-cylinder reforming technique in a multi-cylinder configuration in which one of the engine cylinders would act as the reformer, “essentially breathing in reverse compared to the other cylinders (breathing in from the exhaust manifold and exhausting into the intake system).”

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Lexus introduces new NX compact crossover and hybrid; first twin scroll turbocharger in lineup

April 20, 2014

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2015 Lexus NX 300h. Click to enlarge.

Lexus introduced the NX compact crossover and hybrid at the 2014 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition. (Earlier post.) The all-new NX is Lexus’ first entry into the luxury compact crossover segment.

The Lexus NX compact crossover offers the brand’s first gasoline turbo engine in the NX 200t. The 2.0L NX 200t turbo will balance fuel economy with responsive acceleration and agility and will be available in the US market along with the NX 300h hybrid. The availability of NX model range, including the NX 200 with a naturally aspirated engine, will vary by market.

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EIA Annual Energy Outlook explores implications of behavior and demographics on light-duty vehicle energy demand

April 18, 2014

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Light-duty VMT is beginning to decouple from traditional drivers. Source: EIA. economic Click to enlarge.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) is in the process of staging the release of the full Annual Energy Outlook 2014 (AEO2014), its annual report on projected energy use and analysis of select energy topics. The roll-out began on 7 April and will conclude on 30 April. Included in AEO2014 is a set of eight “Issues in Focus” articles, exploring topics of special significance, including changes in assumptions and recent developments in technologies for energy production and consumption.

The most recent of these In Focus articles explores the impact of demographics and behavior on light-duty vehicle (LDV) energy demand. LDVs accounted for 61% of all transportation energy consumption in the United States in 2012—8.4 million barrels of of oil equivalent per day—and represented nearly 10% of world petroleum liquids consumption. LDV energy use is driven by both LDV fuel economy and travel behavior, as measured by vehicle miles traveled (VMT). LDV VMT per licensed driver peaked in 2007 at 12,900 miles per year and has since decreased to 12,500 miles in 2012.

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Subaru introduces 5th-gen AWD Outback with up to 10% improvement in fuel economy

April 17, 2014

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2015 Outback. Click to enlarge.

Subaru of America, Inc. introduced the 5th-generation 2015 Outback. The 2015 all-wheel drive Outback offers the roomiest interior, most capable chassis and highest fuel-efficiency in the model’s 20-year history.

New for 2015, all Outback models come standard with the Lineartronic CVT (continuously variable transmission), which features paddle-shift control switches and is instrumental in the Outback’s significantly improved fuel economy. Manufacturer-estimated ratings of 25 mpg city / 33 mpg highway / 28 mpg combined (9.4, 7.1 and 8.4 l/100 lm, respectively) for the Outback 2.5i model are up from 24/30/26 (9.8, 7.8 and 9.0 l/100 km, respectively) in the 2014 model—a 7.7% improvement in the combined figure.

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Promising Delphi 1st-gen Gasoline Direct Injection Compression Ignition engine meeting ultra fuel efficient program targets

Researchers at Delphi Powertrain, in collaboration with colleagues at Hyundai Motor, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Wisconsin Engine Research Consultants (WERC), have developed a first-generation multi-cylinder Gasoline Direct Injection Compression Ignition (GDCI) engine, based on several years of extensive simulations and single-cylinder engine tests. (Earlier post, earlier post.)

In a presentation at the SAE 2014 High Efficiency IC Engine Symposium and then in a paper given at SAE 2014 World Congress, Mark Sellnau, Engineering Manager, Delphi Advanced Powertrain, reported that Brake Specific Fuel Consumption for the 1.8L GDCI engine was significantly better than advanced production spark-ignited gasoline engines, and comparable to very efficient hybrid vehicle engines at their best efficiency conditions (214 g/kWh). Compared to new diesel engines, the Delphi team found that BSFC for GDCI at light loads was comparable or better, and at high loads was about 5% higher.

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New 7th-generation Hyundai Sonata updates design, tweaks powertrain

April 16, 2014

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2015 Sonata 2.0T Click to enlarge.

Hyundai introduced its seventh-generation 2015 Sonata mid-size sedan at the New York International Auto Show. The new generation offers a more refined look through a new Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design language, stiffer body structure, better ride quality, reduced noise, vibration and harshness and advanced safety and convenience features.

Hyundai continues its all four-cylinder Theta engine lineup for the 2015 Sonata. (Information on the 2015 Sonata Hybrid will come later this year.) A revised 2.4-liter Theta II GDI four-cylinder engine powers SE, Limited and Sport models. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder produces 185 horsepower (138 kW) and 178 lb-ft (241 N·m) of torque.

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Chevrolet adds Trax small SUV to growing small-vehicle lineup in US

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Chevrolet Trax. Click to enlarge.

Chevrolet will add the Trax, a new small SUV, to its US portfolio. Chevrolet Trax was launched in late 2012 in Mexico and Canada as a 2013 model; about 90,000 have been sold in more than 60 global markets. In addition to the United States, the 2015 Trax will also go on sale in China, adding the small SUV to Chevy’s two largest markets. Trax is named after a 2007 concept vehicle.

Trax is Chevrolet’s seventh small-vehicle launch in less than four years. During that time, the brand’s share of the small-, compact- and mini-car segments has more than tripled—up 221%. GM expects the emerging small SUV market to grow more than 80% by 2016, said Alan Batey, General Motors senior vice president, Global Chevrolet.

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Achates: LD opposed-piston, 2-stroke diesel can meet 2025 final CAFE, Tier 3 standards for full-size pickup; 30% better FE than Cummins ATLAS

April 15, 2014

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Brake specific fuel consumption map for the LD Achates opposed-piston engine. The map is extremely flat, with the engine’s high efficiency extending to low loads. Source: Achates Power. Click to enlarge.

Achates Power, Inc., the developer of a family of two-stroke compression-ignition opposed-piston engines (earlier post), has performed an in-depth study on the performance and emissions of light-duty version of its engine packaged for a full-size pickup truck.

The results of the exercise, reported by Fabien Redon, Achates VP of Technology Development at the recent SAE 2014 High Efficiency IC Engine Symposium and the SAE 2014 World Congress, show that the Achates Power two-stroke opposed piston engine could meet and exceed—with no hybridization—the final 2025 light-truck CAFE fuel economy regulation for a full-size 5,500 lb pick-up truck and has the potential to achieve the engine-out emissions targets to meet the fully phased in LEV III/ Tier 3 emissions with the appropriate aftertreatment. Furthermore, the study shows the potential for a 30% improvement in fuel economy over the equivalent performance Cummins ATLAS Tier 2 Bin 2 engine (earlier post) as well as a significant improvement in NOx and PM (42-74%, depending upon drive cycle and pollutant).

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2015 VW Jetta to debut at New York Show; new EA288 diesel version already LEV3/Tier 3 compliant

April 14, 2014

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2015 Jetta. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen is presenting the world premiere of the redesigned 2015 Jetta sedan at the 2014 New York International Auto Show. In addition to its three four-cylinder gasoline engines (2.0-liter naturally aspirated and 1.8T and 2.0T TSI Gen 3 turbocharged EA888 engines) and the a 1.4-liter turbocharged full hybrid version, the new Jetta offers the new EA288 2.0-liter diesel (earlier post).

The 2.0-liter 150-horsepower (112 kW) EA288 TDI Clean Diesel engine offered in the 2015 Jetta already conforms to the upcoming LEV3/Tier 3 emissions standard (earlier post) in the USA. Compared to the previous engine, the efficiency of this new generation TDI was improved by another 8%. The Jetta TDI Clean Diesel with a manual transmission delivers a manufacturer-estimated 32 city/45 highway mpg (7.35/5.23 l/100 km); its combined fuel economy is projected to be around 37 mpg (6.36 l/100 km).

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Volkswagen to unveil Golf Sportwagen concept at New York show; previewing replacement for Jetta Sportwagen

April 11, 2014

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Golf Sportwagen. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen of America, Inc. will debut a concept version of the latest SportWagen model featuring a 4MOTION all-wheel drive system and the new EA288 TDI Clean Diesel engine (earlier post) at the New York Auto Show. The concept previews the new Golf SportWagen that will go on sale in early 2015.

Based on the new MQB (modular transverse matrix) architecture, the Golf SportWagen will continue the trend introduced by the seventh generation Golf whereby it is lighter, bigger, roomier, more fuel efficient and more powerful than the outgoing SportWagen model. The new SportWagen will be offered with two powertrains:

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Toyota introducing new series of gasoline engines with gain of at least 10% fuel efficiency; up to 38% maximum thermal efficiency

April 10, 2014

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New 1.3L Atkinson cycle engine can reach a thermal efficiency of 38%. Click to enlarge.

Toyota Motor Corporation has developed a new series of fuel-efficient gasoline engines that achieve improved thermal efficiency. The new engines leverage combustion and loss-reduction technologies Toyota has refined in its dedicated hybrid engines (such as use of the Atkinson cycle) as well as in its conventional engines, and will deliver fuel efficiency improvements of at least 10% over current vehicles (based on the JC08 cycle).

In developing the new engines, Toyota focused on four key areas: rapid combustion; a higher compression ratio; reduced pumping losses (e.g., through using the Atkinson cycle and large-volume cooled EGR); and low friction.

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ExxonMobil, Corning and Toyota develop onboard membrane system to separate gasoline into octane fractions to optimize engine efficiency and performance

ExxonMobil, Corning and Toyota have collaborated to develop an Onboard Separation System (OBS) to optimize gasoline engine efficiency and performance. OBS is a membrane-based process that separates gasoline into higher and lower octane fractions—essentially creating a dual fuel system from a single base fuel—allowing optimal use of fuel components based on engine requirements. The system, say the researchers, offers the potential to exploit most of the benefits of operating on premium high octane fuel while using less expensive regular grade more effectively.

In a paper on the OBS presented at the SAE 2014 World Congress, the researchers suggested that potential applications include downsizing to increase fuel economy by ∼10% while maintaining performance, and or using OBS with turbocharging to improve performance and knock resistance.

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ORNL study quantifies fuel economy costs of common driver practices and vehicle alterations

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have quantified the fuel economy effects of some common driver practices and vehicle accessories or alterations—including underinflated tires, open windows, and rooftop and hitch-mounted cargo. They presented their results in a paper at SAE 2014 World Congress in Detroit.

They first subjected a compact passenger sedan and a sport utility vehicle to SAE J2263 coastdown procedures. From these coastdowns, the ORNL team developed vehicle dynamometer coefficients which enabled the execution of vehicle dynamometer experiments to determine the effect of the practices on vehicle fuel economy and emissions over standard drive cycles and at steady highway speeds. In addition, two minivans were subjected to coastdowns to examine the similarity in derived coefficients for two duplicate vehicles of the same model.

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SwRI D-EGR gasoline demo vehicle delivers diesel efficiency at lower cost; potential for LEV III/Tier 3 emissions

April 09, 2014

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Specific BSFC improvements from the D-EGR engine relative to baseline engine. Overall, the engine offered a 13.1% improvement in city fuel economy (24.5 to 27.7 mpg) and a 9.2% improvement on the highway (43.6 to 47.6 mpg). Chadwell et al., 2014-01-1190. Click to enlarge.

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) announced preliminary test results of its Dedicated-Exhaust Gas Recirculation (D-EGR) demonstration vehicle (earlier post) at the SAE 2014 World Congress in Detroit. D-EGR is a SwRI-developed gasoline engine concept that uses in-cylinder fuel reforming to produce CO and H2 (with Research Octane Numbers of 106 and 130, respectively) and high levels of recirculated gas (EGR) to achieve very high levels of thermal efficiency.

The D-EGR demonstrator is a converted 2012 Buick Regal with a 2.0-liter gasoline direct injection engine. In their paper, the SwRI researchers reported that the conversion to D-EGR improved engine efficiency and fuel consumption at least 10% across the performance map, with some operating conditions seeing substantially higher improvements. The D-EGR engine offers efficiency similar to diesel engine (~40% BTE) but at half the cost; it also demonstrates the potential for meeting the very stringent LEV III/Tier 3 emissions.

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Ford unveils new 2015 Focus four-door sedan; 1.0L EcoBoost with start/stop comes to US model

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2015 Focus four-door sedan. Click to enlarge.

Ford unveiled the new Ford Focus four-door sedan prior to its debut at the 2014 New York International Auto Show next week. The debut of the new Focus four-door sedan and the Focus Electric in New York follows the Geneva Motor Show debut in March of the Focus three- and five-door hatchback and wagon. (Earlier post.) A new version of the performance Focus ST will be shown later this year.

The redesigned Ford Focus offers a bolder exterior design, an improved interior, a range of advanced driver assistance technologies and the additional powertrain option of Ford’s 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine with a new six-speed manual transmission and standard Auto Start-Stop feature in the US-spec Focus. US EPA fuel economy ratings are not yet available.

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

April 08, 2014

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

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

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HeatReCar project demonstrates technical feasibility of thermoelectric generator for waste heat recovery; economic case more difficult

April 07, 2014

A recently completed European project coordinated by Centro Ricerche Fiat (CRF) demonstrated the technical feasibility of a Bi2Te3-based thermoelectric generator (TEG) for waste heat recovery for application to a diesel light-duty truck (LDT). The project “Reduced energy consumption by massive thermoelectric waste heat recovery in light-duty trucks” (HeatReCar) focused on thermoelectrics to provide electricity, either to on-board components or to the power train of hybrid electric vehicles. Reduced fuel consumption for these purposes translates to emissions reductions.

TE materials have been employed previously in automotive applications but have not achieved reasonable conversion efficiencies. The researchers tackled this issue in two ways. They selected bismuth telluride (Bi2Te3) suitable for lower operating temperatures in a diesel engine. They also optimized the geometry of heat transfer surfaces to maximize the temperature difference available to the TE modules. The technology was implemented in a prototype TE generator (TEG) for a diesel IVECO Daily light-duty truck (LDT) in common use in the EU.

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Magnesium alloy VSC Machine successfully begins trial operation at GM China Advanced Technical Center

April 04, 2014

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Magnesium alloy VSC machine. Click to enlarge.

The GM China Advanced Technical Center (ATC) in Shanghai announced the operation of its magnesium alloy Vertical Squeeze Casting (VSC) machine—the first designed for developing next-generation magnesium castings. GM said that this achievement marks a breakthrough in its lightweight materials research.

Squeeze casting is a process in which molten metal is introduced to casting cavities with minimum turbulence and then solidifies under very high pressure (typically above 100 MPa) within closed dies. The absence of turbulent metal flow, aided by the high applied pressure, can suppress gas porosity, notes Ohio State University Professor Alan Luo in a 2013 review of magnesium casting technologies.

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NRC report offers guidance on development of Phase 2 rules to reduce fuel consumption and GHG from medium-and heavy-duty vehicles; more natural gas and aerodyanamics, expanded lifecycle considerations

April 03, 2014

Expanding the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel and greater use of aerodynamic devices on trailers are among the 17 overarching strategies recommended by a new National Research Council report for reducing fuel consumption by tractor-trailers, transit buses, commercial vehicles, trucks, and other medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (MHDVs).

The report follows a 2010 Research Council report the findings and recommendations of which informed the “Phase I Rule” on fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles issued jointly by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and US Environmental Protection Agency. (Earlier post.) The new report offers guidance for the “Phase II Rule” under development, which is directed at technologies and programs in the post-2018 time frame. (Earlier post.) The committee will expand upon this new work and issue a final report in 2016 that will cover a broader range of technologies and approaches that address the 2025-2030 time frame.

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Torotrak-led consortium wins $4M towards manufacturability of core variable drive technologies

April 02, 2014

A consortium of British high-technology companies led by Torotrak PLC has won £2.4 million (US$4 million) in funding from the UK government’s Technology Strategy Board towards the development of an optimized manufacturing route for key components of the company’s variable drive systems.

Called S-CONTACCT, the program, with a total project value of £3.8 million (US$6.3 million), will establish new manufacturing processes for the traction drive disks and rollers at the heart of Torotrak’s portfolio of automotive CO2 and fuel consumption reduction technologies, which includes variable drive superchargers; infinitely variable toroidal transmissions; and an advanced flywheel kinetic energy recovery system (KERS).

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Full lifecycle CO2 of new Mercedes C-Class 10% less than outgoing model

March 31, 2014

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CO2 emissions of the C 180 in comparison to its predecessor [t/car]. Source: Mercedes-Benz. Click to enlarge.

Over the course of its entire life cycle—from its manufacture through 200,000 kilometer of driving to its recycling—the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class (earlier post) produces around 10% fewer CO2 emissions than its predecessor at the time of its market exit (compared to the time of its launch in 2007 the improvement is much higher, at around 28%). The C 180 (115 kW) with manual transmission was taken as the base variant of the new C-Class at market launch for the lifecycle analysis; it was compared with the corresponding preceding model. The analysis was validated by TÜV SÜD Management Service GmbH.

Over the entire lifecycle of the C 180, the lifecycle analysis yields a primary energy consumption of 521 gigajoules (corresponding to the energy content of around 16,000 liters of gasoline); an environmental input of approx. 35 tonnes of CO2; around 19 kilograms of non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC); around 25 kilograms of nitrogen oxides (NOx); and 37 kilograms of sulfur dioxide (SO2). For CO2 emissions—and likewise for primary energy consumption—the use phase dominates with a share of 78 and 74% respectively.

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Kenworth and Peterbilt introduce more fuel-efficient Class 8 trucks

March 27, 2014

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Kenworth T680 Advantage. Click to enlarge.

At the Mid-America Trucking show, PACCAR companies Kenworth and Peterbilt introduced more fuel efficient version of their heavy-duty models: the Kenworth T680 Advantage and the Peterbilt Model 579 with EPIQ package. Kenworth says that the T680 Advantage can deliver up to a 5% fuel efficiency enhancement over a standard T680. Peterbilt says that the Model 579 with EPIQ package can improve fuel efficiency compared to a standard Model 579 by up to 10%.

Both trucks rely on a combination of the PACCAR MX-13 engine with an Eaton Fuller Advantage Automated Transmission. This pairing features precise communication between the engine and transmission, as well as proprietary control logic to further enhance fuel economy.

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GM introducing new generation of modular 3- and 4-cylinder Ecotec engines; 11 variants from 1.0L to 1.5L

March 19, 2014

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New Ecotec 1.0L I-3, 1.4L I-4, 1.5L I-4 engines. Click to enlarge.

GM is introducing a new generation of Ecotec small-displacement engines (1.0 to 1.5 liters) featuring a modular architecture that broadens its adaptability to global markets and reduces manufacturing complexity while offering customers efficiency, refinement and durability.

GM developed the new engines for the company’s global vehicle portfolio; the engines will power many of the company’s highest-volume small cars and compact crossovers, including the next-generation Chevrolet Cruze specifically tailored for China, which launches in 2014 as a 2015 model. The new engine family, including naturally aspirated and turbocharged variants, will make its way into five GM brands and 27 models by the 2017 model year, said Steve Kiefer, GM vice president, Global Powertrain Engineering.

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New VW EA288 diesel to debut in 2H 2014 in the MY 2015 Golf, Jetta, Passat and Beetle; MDB comes to the US (updated with diagrams)

March 18, 2014

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Main modules of development of the EA288 diesel. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen of America announced that the new 2.0-liter EA288 diesel engine will power the 2015 Golf, Beetle, Beetle Convertible, Passat, and Jetta, all of which are set to arrive in dealer showrooms in the second half of 2014. The EA288 is based on the Volkswagen MDB, its modular diesel engine toolkit (Modularen Diesel Baukasten) (earlier post).

The new EA288 engine will eventually replace all the 2.0-liter diesels currently fitted in Audi and Volkswagen TDI Clean Diesel models. This turbocharged, common-rail, direct-injection four-cylinder engine makes 150 hp (112 kW)—an increase of 10 hp over the current engine—and 236 lb-ft (320 N·m) of torque. This powerplant shares only the bore spacing with the previous diesel engine that had the same designation.

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EU approves Mercedes-Benz ECO Thermo engine cover as fuel-saving Eco-innovation

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Phantom graphics of the Mercedes-Benz S 300 BlueTEC HYBRID showing ECO Thermo engine cover. Click to enlarge.

The European Commission has approved the new ECO Thermo Cover engine compartment encapsulation in the Mercedes-Benz S 300 BlueTEC HYBRID (earlier post) as a manufacturer’s Eco-innovation. Insulating buildings saves energy; Mercedes engineers have adopted a similar idea in the car.

With insulating partitions in the engine compartment and a radiator shutter that is closed when the car is at a standstill, the heat inside the Mercedes-Benz S 300 BlueTEC HYBRID remains in the engine compartment, even if the vehicle is stopped for some time. When the engine is started again, the higher temperatures reduce friction in the engine, minimize cold-start losses, and cut CO2 emissions. Tests performed at Mercedes-Benz indicate an average fuel saving of up to 1.5 liters per full 70-liter tank (i.e., around 2.1%) over the course of a year.

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GM uses lightweight, advanced materials to reduce weight on 2015 Colorado pickup

March 17, 2014

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Mass comparison, 4x4 crew cabs. Click to enlarge.

The 2015 Chevrolet Colorado uses engineering techniques and lightweight materials to create fuel-efficient pickup capability in a mass-efficient mid-size package. The 2015 Colorado 4x4 crew cab, which GM expects to be the most popular version of the new trucks, weighs 880 to 1,400 lbs (363 to 635 kg) less than a full-size truck. Chevrolet expects EPA fuel economy estimates for Colorado this summer.

This weight saving is a result of the slightly smaller overall dimensions of the Colorado, along with extensive use of lightweight materials, including high-strength steels and aluminum.

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Predictive Powertrain Control cuts test consumption in Setra coach by an average of 9.2%

March 14, 2014

In a European media test event, the fuel consumption of Daimler’s new TopClass 500 with Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC) (earlier post) fell by an average of 9.2%. Daimler has been citing fuel consumption improvements of up to 4% for the anticipatory cruise control technology.

More than two dozen journalists from the specialist press tested PPC intensively on the topographically challenging A6 motorway between Kaiserslautern and Grünstadt. On five days of driving they covered a total of 3,120 km (1,939 miles). The fuel consumption was precisely recorded using measuring devices. Three new Setra TopClass 500 touring coaches were tested in various versions.The three-axle super-high-deck touring coaches were each realistically loaded to a gross vehicle weight of 21.5 t.

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ATDynamics projects 200,000 semi-trailers to be equipped with fuel-saving rear-drag aerodynamics technology by end of 2017

March 11, 2014

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The patented TrailerTail design lowers vehicle fuel consumption by reducing low-pressure suction drag directly behind a trailer. Source: ATDynamics. Click to enlarge.

ATDynamics, a supplier of semi-trailer aerodynamics technology, projects that, based on current trucking fleet adoption trends, 200,000 semi-trailers will be equipped with fuel saving TrailerTail technology by the end of 2017. TrailerTail technology, which reduces aerodynamic drag at the back of tractor-trailers and improves vehicle fuel efficiency by approximately 5%, has been incorporated into three of the Department of Energy’s SuperTruck Projects.

ATDynamics launched the patented thermoplastic composite TrailerTail design in 2010. At present, 350 US trucking companies, including top 100 US fleets such as Mesilla Valley Transportation; Prime Inc.; Roehl Transport; and C.R. England operate approximately 20,000 semi-trailers with TrailerTails.

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Inside the fuel-efficient 9-speed 9G-TRONIC from Mercedes-Benz

March 06, 2014

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Design of the Mercedes-Benz automatic transmission 9G-TRONIC. Click to enlarge.

Mercedes-Benz’ new 9-speed 9G-TRONIC, the first rear-wheel drive nine-speed automatic transmission with torque converter, is making its debut in the E 350 BlueTEC as the standard transmission paired with the 185 kW (252 hp) V6 diesel. Announced in 2013 (earlier post), the 9G-TRONIC represents the seventh automatic transmission generation from Mercedes-Benz.

The E 350 BlueTEC offers an average NEDC fuel consumption (sedan model) of 5.3 liters of diesel per 100 km (44.4 mpg US). While an overall reduction in engine speed improves NVH comfort and also cuts down external noise by up to 4 dB(A), the reduced fuel consumption of the E 350 BlueTEC with 9G-TRONIC has primarily been achieved as a result of the high efficiency level of the transmission, Mercedes says.

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ICCT provides policy update on proposed China Phase 4 fuel economy regulations

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Comparison of global passenger vehicle fuel consumption standards normalized to NEDC L/100km. In absolute terms, the new regulations would put China third behind the EU and Japan for fuel consumption and GHG regulations. Source: ICCT. Click to enlarge.

A team from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) has provided an update on China’s proposed Phase 4 fuel consumption standard for passenger cars. The proposal was published on 21 January 2014 by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

The proposed regulations cover passenger cars sold in China from 2016 to 2020, and project an overall fleet-average fuel consumption of 5L/100km (47 mpg US) for new passenger cars in 2020, as measured over the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC), from an expected fleet average of 6.9L/100km (34 mpg US) in 2015. This works out to an overall reduction of about 28%—6.2% annually—between 2015 and 2020.

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Toyota revamps 1.0L 3-cylinder engine for new AYGO; up to 60 mpg in ECO version

March 05, 2014

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New AYGO. Click to enlarge.

Toyota’s new AYGO, introduced at the Geneva Motor Show, is equipped with an improved version of Toyota’s award-winning 3-cylinder, 1.0-liter VVT-i gasoline engine. Still one of the lightest engines in its class, the unit incorporates numerous revisions that enhance performance and help deliver class-leading fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions.

Gasoline engines are chosen by 85% of A-segment customers in Europe. “We wanted to improve performance, as well as economy. In the A-segment, running costs are paramount—customers don’t want to spend a fortune on fuel bills. But at the same time, we didn’t want to resort to costly technology to reduce consumption, as this would have driven the vehicle price up too much. So our challenge was to come up with relatively simple yet clever ways to achieve our targets,” said David Terai, Chief Engineer of new AYGO.

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Jeep introduces new Renegade small SUV; segment-first 9-speed transmission

March 04, 2014

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2015 Jeep Renegade. Click to enlarge.

Jeep unveiled the new 2015 Jeep Renegade small SUV at the Geneva Motor Show. Designed for global markets, the Renegade offers 16 powertrain combinations globally and the segment’s first nine-speed automatic transmission.

Leveraging 4x4 technology from the new Jeep Cherokee, the Renegade offers a full-time 4x4 system (Jeep Active Drive) and a full-time 4x4 system with 20:1 crawl ratio (Jeep Active Drive Low) The Renegade is also the first small SUV to feature a disconnecting rear axle and power take-off unit (PTU) (earlier post) to provide Jeep Renegade 4x4 models with enhanced fuel economy. The system instantly engages when 4x4 traction is needed.

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New 3rd generation Audi TT diesel offers fuel economy of 56 mpg

March 03, 2014

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3rd generation Audi TT. Click to enlarge.

Audi is unveiling the third-generation of its TT compact sports car at the Geneva Motor Show. (The first generation arrived on the market in 1998.) The new TT and TTS models will be available with three different four-cylinder engines with turbocharging and direct injection. A start-stop system is a standard feature.

For the launch of the TT, the 2.0 TDI diesel will be available with manual shift and front-wheel drive. It delivers 135 kW (184 hp) and torque of 380 N·m (280 lb-ft). The new sports car can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 7.2 seconds and reaches a top speed of 235 km/h (146 mph). Standard fuel consumption is 4.2 liters per 100 km (56 mpg US), which translates into CO2 emissions of 110 g/km (177 g/mile).

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Flybrid flywheel KERS to be integrated into a manual gearbox by Lotus-led consortium

February 27, 2014

The UK’s Technology Strategy Board has awarded Torotrak, in collaboration with lead technology partner Lotus Cars, a grant to develop a new application of the Flybrid KERS (kinetic energy recovery system) technology for integration into a manual gearbox. (Torotrak completed its acquisition of Flybrid in January. Earlier post.)

The project is valued at £4.3 million (US$7.2 million) to the consortium members and will be part-funded by the Technology Strategy Board grant, with a value of works undertaken by the Torotrak Group directly of approximately £0.7 million (US$1.2 million) over the course of the project. It will run for approximately 24 months from its commencement in the second quarter of 2014 and will see the lightweight, race-proven Flybrid KERS technology installed into one of Lotus’s signature performance road cars.

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KSPG awarded $342M in contracts for new compact EGR valve

February 26, 2014

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Compact EGR valve. Click to enlarge.

Pierburg GmbH, a member of the KSPG Group, has been awarded contracts worth a lifetime total of €250 million (US$342 million) for a newly developed compact exhaust-gas recirculation valve. (Earlier post.) Ordered by European and North American automakers, the valve will be installed in engines designed to comply with the Euro 6 emission norm.

The valve recently became a standard feature from a German premium carmaker. The other valves ordered will be installed in 2014 and 2015 when certain new engines go into production at the European and US plants of further manufacturers. With its comparatively compact footprint, the valve takes into account the continuous shrinkage of engine space on present car ranges.

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New Fuso Canter with EcoEfficiency; up to 9% more fuel efficient; new hybrid

February 25, 2014

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Fuso Canter 7C15 Eco Hybrid, box body. Click to enlarge.

Mitsubishi Fuso, 90% owned by Daimler AG, has improved the performance of its Fuso Canter light-duty truck. With 140,000 units produced worldwide, the Fuso Canter is an international hit in the light-duty-truck sector and easily the best-selling truck model at Daimler Trucks. The new Canter is up to 9% more economical than its predecessor, depending on variant and field of application. At the same time, CO2 emissions have been reduced by a similar amount.

The new Canter offers compliance with Euro 5b+ emissions for the light versions up to 6.0 t permissible GVW and Euro VI for the heavy versions. The “EcoEfficiency” models combined a number of measures available as standard for all Canter model variants. These include higher injection pressure for even more efficient fuel combustion; low-friction engine oil to reduce in-engine friction; an electromagnetic fan clutch; an optimized cooling system; a start/stop system for the engine; a new axle ratio configuration; low rolling-resistance tires for the Euro VI models; and reduced friction losses in the transmission with manual gearshift.

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SwRI develops D-EGR demonstrator highlighting fuel-efficient, cost-effective engine; 10% and above fuel economy improvements

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has built a demonstrator vehicle, based on a 2012 Buick Regal GS, incorporating the latest D-EGR (dedicated EGR) technology (earlier post), an outgrowth of SwRI’s HEDGE (High Efficiency Dilute Gasoline Engine) consortium projects (earlier post). The vehicle is currently delivering about a ~13% improvement on the FTP and 10% on the HwFET cycles, according to Dr. Terry Alger, SwRI Assistant Director, Engine & Vehicle R&D, Engine, Emissions & Vehicle Research.

Staff at the non-profit research organization presented it with little fanfare to the SwRI board of directors and advisory trustees along with 7 other research projects at the 66th annual meeting on Monday. The demonstrator will be present at the upcoming SAE 2014 High Efficiency IC Engine Symposium in Detroit in April; SwRI engineers are presenting a paper (2014-01-1190) at the SAE 2014 World Congress on the development of the demonstrator’s engine.

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Ford reveals redesigned 2015 Ford Focus with 1.0L EcoBoost engine option

February 24, 2014

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2015 Ford Focus. Click to enlarge.

Ford revealed the redesigned 2015 Ford Focus at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the world’s largest exhibition for the mobile industry. The new Focus will make its auto show debut at Geneva next week. In addition to a number of styling and technological advances, the new Focus will offer 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine with a six-speed transmission—surpassing the fuel efficiency of the previous model. (Earlier post.)

The smallest engine in the company’s growing EcoBoost family will increase the choice for Ford customers in the United States, as Fiesta is already available with the 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine.

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Ford unveils 2015 Expedition full-size utility; 3.5L V6 EcoBoost displaces 5.4L V8

February 19, 2014

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2015 Expedition. Click to enlarge.

Ford unveiled the 2015 Expedition—Ford’s largest utility vehicle—in Dallas ahead of the 2014 DFW Auto Show. Texas is Ford’s largest market by sales volume, and home to the top two cities for Expedition sales: Dallas and Houston. The 2015 Ford Expedition will feature the 3.5-liter, direct-injected twin-turbocharged V6 EcoBoost engine popular in the Ford F-Series as the only engine offered in the vehicle in North America.

The new EcoBoost engine significantly changes the driving characteristics of Expedition, Ford says. Compared with the outgoing 5.4-liter V8, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost gives drivers not just better fuel economy, but more power and torque on demand at very low engine speeds.

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Obama directs EPA and DOT to develop and issue next phase of fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by March 2016

February 18, 2014

President Obama has directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) to develop and to issue the next phase of medium- and heavy-duty vehicle fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards by March 2016. Under this timeline, the agencies would issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) by March 2015.

This second round of fuel efficiency standards will build on the phase 1 standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (model years 2014 through 2018) issued in 2011. (Earlier post.) Under the phase 1 program, trucks and buses built in 2014 through 2018 will reduce oil consumption by a projected 530 million barrels and greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution by approximately 270 million metric tons.

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CPT presenting two papers at SAE World Congress on SpeedStart and TIGERS for 48V mild hybrid systems

Controlled Power Technologies (CPT) will deliver two technical papers at SAE World Congress in April on its SpeedStart torque assist and kinetic energy recovery system (earlier post) and TIGERS turbine integrated gas energy recovery system (earlier post) for 48V mild hybrid vehicles.

The switched reluctance (SR) motor-based SpeedStart and TIGERS technology are being incorporated into the recently announced Advanced Diesel Electric Powertrain project known as ADEPT. (Earlier post.) ADEPT combines the two technologies, which have been demonstrated individually but not yet as an integrated system, applying the low voltage concept of ‘intelligent electrification’ for the first time to a diesel car. For the ADEPT project, the consortium comprises CPT, the European Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium (EALABC), Faurecia Emissions Control Technologies, Ford and the University of Nottingham. The management of the project is being handled by Ricardo.

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Opel introducing ADAM with new 1.0L, 3-cylinder engine and 6-speed manual at Geneva

February 17, 2014

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The new 1.0 ECOTEC Direct Injection Turbo from Opel. Click to enlarge.

At the upcoming Geneva Motor Show in March, Opel will introduce an ADAM will an all-new, three-cylinder turbo gasoline mated with a 6-speed manual transmission that is also from a new generation. (Earlier post.) Opel introduced the ADAM small car last year.

ADAM is the first car in the Opel range to receive this new, all-aluminum 1.0 ECOTEC Direct Injection Turbo gasoline engine that has been developed at the manufacturer’s International Technical Development Center in Rüsselsheim, Germany. The engine will come in two configurations, respectively giving 66 kW/90 hp and 85 kW/115 hp. Both deliver strong, low-end torque of 166 N·m (1222 lb-ft) from 1,800 rpm.

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BMW introducing 2 Series Active Tourer at Geneva; new 3- and 4-cylinder engines, front-wheel drive

February 14, 2014

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The new compact 2 Series Active Tourer. Click to enlarge.

The new compact BMW 2 Series Active Tourer will celebrate its world premiere at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show. The 2 Series Active Tourer follows the Coupe as the second member of the new BMW 2 Series line-up and features new 3- and 4-cylinder gasoline and diesel turbocharged engines, front-wheel drive (BMW’s first), EfficientDynamics technology and ConnectedDrive.

The new engines are mounted transversely and feature a compact design along with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology, at the same time as complying with the EU6 emissions standard. Fuel consumption (provisional) for the 2 Series Active Tourer will range from 6.0–4.1 liters per 100 km (39–57.4 mpg US) on the European combined cycle, with CO2 emissions ranging from 139–109 g/km.

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

February 11, 2014

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

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

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Fiat updates 500L range for 2014 with new 120 hp diesel and gasoline engines, LPG version

Fiat is updating its 500L range for 2014 with two new turbocharged 120 hp (88 kW) engine options—the 1.6 MultiJet II turbodiesel and the 1.4 T-Jet gasoline—and a dual fuel LPG/gasoline variant of the 1.4 T-Jet.

120 HP 1.6 MultiJet II. The adoption of a small variable geometry turbocharger developed by Honeywell enables high torque delivery at low rpm— 320 N·m (236 lb-ft) at 1,750 rpm—and maximum running flexibility. A third-generation Common Rail injection system uses new injectors to manage up to eight injections per cycle. This enables actuating increasingly advanced strategies focused on optimizing the combustion— such as the Injection Rate Shaping (IRS) system which involves two consecutive injections so close together in time as to generate a continuous and modulated fuel supply into the cylinders.

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Brunel engineers optimizing CAI combustion in 2-stroke camless gasoline DI engine

February 10, 2014

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Operating range of 2-stroke CAI fueled with gasoline, E10 and E85. Zhang et al. (2013a) Click to enlarge.

Researchers at Brunel University in the UK, led by Professor Hua Zhao, Head of Mechanical Engineering and Director, Centre for Advanced Powertrain and Fuels (CAPF), are investigating optimizing the performance of controlled autoignition (CAI) combustion in a four-valve camless gasoline direct injection engine running in a two-stroke cycle. Most recently, this has entailed an exploration of boosting strategies, as described in a new paper published in the International Journal of Engine Research, as well as an exploration of the effects of ethanol blends.

Controlled autoignition (e.g., homogeneous charge compression ignition, HCCI) combustion processes offer the promise of simultaneously reducing fuel consumption and NOx emissions. Accordingly, the processes have been extensively researched over the last decade and adopted on prototype gasoline engines (e.g., GM’s ongoing work, earlier post).

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Mercedes brings lean-burn, stratified BlueDirect to CLA-Class for 7% boost in fuel economy; new all-wheel A-Class diesels

February 07, 2014

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BlueDIRECT 2.0L, 4-cylinder direct injection engine operates in stratified lean-burn or homogeneous modes. Click to enlarge.

Mercedes-Benz announced that seven new versions of the Mercedes-Benz A-, B- and CLA-Class now offer enhanced fuel savings compared with their respective predecessors. Additionally, the A 200 CDI 4MATIC and A 220 CDI 4MATIC represent the first all-wheel-drive diesel models forming part of the new generation of compact cars from Mercedes-Benz.

The 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine of the new CLA 250 is a member of the BlueDIRECT family of gasoline engines, and was first applied in combination with exhaust-gas turbocharging and external high-pressure exhaust gas recirculation in the E 250 Coupé introduced last year (earlier post). (It is also being applied in the new C Class, as highlighted at the North American International Auto Show.) The engine—which operates in lean-burn stratified or homogeneous mode, depending on the operating state—contributes to the CLA 250’s combined cycle fuel consumption of 5.4 l/100 km (43.6 mpg US)—7% less compared to its predecessor.

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2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel earns 28 mpg highway; best in segment

February 04, 2014

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2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. Click to enlarge.

The 3.0-liter V6 EcoDiesel-powered 2014 Ram 1500 pickup (earlier post) has earned a 28-mpg (8.4 l/100 km) rating from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—the best highway-cycle test result achieved yet by a full-size, half-ton pickup. It also exceeds the EPA highway rating for the top-ranked small pickup. The combined city/highway rating is 23 mpg (10.2 l/100 km.)

On the gasoline side, the 2013 Ram 1500 equipped with a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 gasoline engine earned 25 mpg (9.4 l/100 km) highway, a rating that stands for model-year 2014. The Ram 1500 now owns the half-ton pickup segment’s top two spots in the EPA’s 2014 highway fuel-economy rankings.

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Audi introducing new “ultra” A4, A5, A6 models; diesels with up to 60 mpg

Audi is expanding its “ultra” strategy with 11 new models: especially efficient diesel engine versions in the A4, A5 and A6 model lines will be launched in Europe in early 2014. A new 2.0-liter TDI will provide the drive at 100 kW (136 hp), 120 kW (163 hp) or 140 kW (190 hp); the engine emits just 104 to 119 grams of CO2 per kilometer (167.37 to 191.51 g/mile) depending on the model.

“Ultra” is Audi’s designation for more efficient mobility that is fully available for everyday use. With a combined fuel consumption rate of 3.9 to 4.6 liters per 100 kilometers (60 to 51 mpg) and CO2 emissions of 104 to 119 grams per kilometer (167 to 192 g/mile), the new ultra models from Audi are among the most efficient cars of their segment.

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New Jeep Cherokee debuting at Geneva show with new 2.0L Multijet II turbo diesel, start/stop and 9-speed transmission

February 03, 2014

The new Jeep Cherokee (earlier post) will make its European debut at the 84th Geneva International Motor Show this year. The new Jeep Cherokee will be introduced in Jeep dealerships throughout Europe beginning the second quarter of 2014, with four engine choices: the efficient 2.0-liter Multijet II turbo diesel delivering 170 hp matched witha new 9-speed automatic; a 140 hp version of the 2.0-liter diesel engine combined with a 6-speed manual; the 3.2-liter V-6 Pentastar gasoline engine paired to the 9-speed; and in Russia and the Middle East, the new 9-speed is offered in combination with the 2.4-liter Tigershark MultiAir I-4.

The new generation Jeep Cherokee is available in both two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations, and is also the first mid-size SUV to feature rear-axle disconnect, resulting in reduced energy loss when 4x4 capability isn’t needed and ensuring improved fuel efficiency.

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Mercedes-Benz unveils the new V-Class MPVs; full-size luxury diesel MPV with fuel economy up to 41.3 mpg

January 30, 2014

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Launch of the V-Class. Click to enlarge.

Mercedes-Benz unveiled the new V-Class full-size MPVs at an event in Munich. The V-Class, the successor to the Viano, is the newest and largest member of the Mercedes-Benz passenger car family. The new V-Class is equipped with four-cylinder diesel engines, offering fuel consumption as low as 5.7 l/100 km (41.3 mpgUS), or 149 g CO2/km, in the V220 CDI model.

The 2.1-liter turbodiesel engine for the V-Class offers three power output levels: 100 kW (136 hp), 120 kW (163 hp) and 140 kW (190 hp). Internally designated OM 651, the engine, which has proven itself in almost all car models of the brand from the A-Class to the S-Class, has been further developed specifically for use in the V-Class. The focus of these efforts was to combine the performance of a six-cylinder engine with the efficiency of a four-cylinder.

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Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 team unveils 2014 challenger and PU106A Hybrid Power Unit; new fuel and lubricants

January 28, 2014

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The PU106A Hybrid Power Unit. Click to enlarge.

The Mercedes AMG PETRONAS (Petroliam Nasional Berhad) Formula One Team unveiled the F1 W05, its 2014 challenger, at the Circuito de Jerez in southern Spain. Designed from the ground up as an integrated project between the Mercedes-Benz teams based at Brackley and Brixworth, this new car—the first all-new Silver Arrow to hit the track since 1954—comes in a year when Mercedes-Benz celebrates 120 years of motorsport and the 80th anniversary of the Silver Arrows.

The F1 W05 will deliver more than one-third more performance from every unit of fuel consumed. At the core of the racer is the new PU106A Hybrid Power Unit designed to meet the new philosophy and resulting requirements of Formula One. A maximum race fuel allowance of 100 kg per race, coupled with a maximum fuel flow rate of 100 kg/hour, focused development efforts on delivering performance with a set of new technologies that achieve the efficiency gain of more than 30%.

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New generation VW Polo features more fuel-efficient engines and advanced driver assistance; Polo TDI BlueMotion with 73.5 mpg

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The new Volkswagen Polo. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen is introducing its next generation of the supermini (B segment) Polo, featuring a range of new EU6 engines that are up to 21% more fuel-efficient and new driver assistance technologies. All versions are available with a stop-start system and a regenerative braking mode.

The new Polo TDI BlueMotion takes the efficiency lead with combined fuel consumption of 3.2 l/100 km (73.5 mpgUS), or 82 g/km CO2. The Polo TSI BlueMotion, available starting this autumn, also marks the first time that a Volkswagen with a gasoline engine is being marketed as an independent BlueMotion model. The Polo TSI BlueMotion, equipped with a 1-liter, three-cylinder turbocharged direct-injection gasoline engine, delivers 4.1 l/100 km (57.4 mpgUS) and 94 g/km CO2.

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Report argues advanced HD natural gas vehicles foundational for California to hit air and climate goals; near zero-emission potential

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Five technology paths for very-low-NOx and GHG emissions from heavy-duty natural gas engines. Click to enlarge.

Gladstein, Neandross & Associates (GNA), a consulting firm specializing in market development for low emission and alternative fuel vehicle technologies, infrastructure, and fuels for both on- and off-road applications, released a report examining the critical role that ultra-low-emission heavy-duty (HD) natural gas engines can play in helping California achieve its air quality, climate protection and petroleum-displacement goals.

The “Pathways to Near-Zero-Emission Natural Gas Heavy Duty Vehicles” report, authored by GNA on behalf of Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas), showcases the technologies currently under development that could deliver near-zero-emission heavy-duty natural gas engines by the end of this decade.

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Schaeffler demo vehicle hits 2020 CAFE targets without electrification; 15% cut in fuel consumption; 48V hybrid system for 2025

January 27, 2014

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Schaeffler Efficient Future Mobility North America demo vehicle in Detroit. Click to enlarge.

At the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), Schaeffler highlighted its range of fuel-efficiency technologies and systems in the form of its current demonstration vehicle: Efficient Future Mobility North America. Based on the current version of a popular mid-size SUV, the demonstration vehicle achieves the limit values specified by the CAFE standard for 2020 with no additional electrification of the powertrain.

The use and optimization of a range of Schaeffler technologies allowed the vehicle’s fuel consumption to be reduced by 15%. These values were initially simulated using Schaeffler calculation programs and verified by Schaeffler’s experts in North America using measurements and test cycles, and then certified by an independent testing institute.

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BMW introducing a 7 Series diesel model in US

January 24, 2014

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BMW 7 Series Long Wheel Base. Click to enlarge.

BMW will introduce the diesel-engined BMW 740Ld xDrive Sedan in the US. The new model will feature BMW’s 3.0-liter TwinPower Turbo diesel engine in the long-wheelbase 7 Series body and will include xDrive, BMW’s intelligent all-wheel drive system. The 2014 BMW 740Ld xDrive Sedan will have a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price of $83,425, including $925 destination and handling. It will make its US auto show debut at the Chicago Auto Show in February 2014 and arrive in US showrooms in Spring 2014.

The 3.0-liter inline-6 BMW Advanced Diesel engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology makes 255 hp (190 kW) at 4,000 rpm and 413 lb-ft (560 N·m) of torque from 1,500 – 3,000 rpm. It is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. The BMW 740Ld xDrive will accelerate from 0-60 mph in 6.1 seconds.

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Constellium and UACJ plan JV in US to produce Body-in-White aluminium sheet for the automotive industry

Constellium N.V, a global aluminum products company formerly known as Alcan Engineered Products and headquartered in Amsterdam, and UACJ Corporation (UACJ), a Japan-based global aluminum manufacturer, are joining forces with a view to supply and market aluminum Body-in-White sheet to the North American automotive industry. To achieve this goal, Constellium and UACJ, through Tri-Arrows Aluminum Inc. (TAA), (UACJ’s subsidiary with Sumitomo Corporation and Itochu Group), intend to create a joint venture company in the United States, as an equal partnership, to serve the North American market.

The JV is expected to include a continuous heat treatment and conversion line with an initial target capacity of 100,000 metric tons supplied by cold rolled coils from both partners’ rolling mills. The planned facility is designed to allow for expansion beyond 100,000 tons. The total joint investment by both parties is expected to amount to approximately $150 million.

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

January 22, 2014

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

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

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Oak Ridge Lab study finds E30 blend and EGR can deliver significant efficiency improvements in optimized SI engines

January 17, 2014


Estimated gasoline equivalent MPG of each fuel and combustion strategy in a midsize sedan at a 65 mph steady cruise condition, referenced to chassis dyno data of the production GM Ecotec SI engine and vehicle. CDC = conventional diesel combustion. Credit: ACS, Splitter and Szybist (2014a). Click to enlarge.

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s National Transportation Research Center (NTRC) report that an E30 (30% ethanol) mid-level ethanol blend shows promise as a means for significant improvement in vehicle efficiency in optimized spark-ignited (SI) engines. Results of the study by Derek Splitter and Jim Szybist suggest that it could be possible to implement a 40% downsize + downspeed configuration (1.2 L engine) into a representative midsize sedan using this combination of optimized engine and mid-level alcohol blend.

As an example, for a midsize sedan at a 65 mph (105 km/h) cruise, estimated fuel efficiency of 43.9 mpg (5.4 l/100 km) with engine-out CO2 of 102 g/km could be achieved with similar reserve power to a 2.0 L engine fueled with regular gasoline (38.6 mpg/6.1 l/100km, engine out CO2 of 135 g/km). The data suggest that, with midlevel alcohol–gasoline blends, engine and vehicle optimization can offset the reduced fuel energy content of alcohol–gasoline blends and likely reduce vehicle fuel consumption and tailpipe CO2 emissions.

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New Chrysler 200 mid-size sedan features standard nine speed transmission, expected 35 mpg highway

January 14, 2014

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2015 Chrysler 200. Click to enlarge.

Chrysler introduced the revamped new 2015 Chrysler 200 mid-size sedan at the Detroit Auto Show. The mid-size sedan segment is one of the largest segments in North America, with more than 2 million sales annually. The 200 is the industry’s first mid-size sedan with a standard nine-speed automatic transmission, which enables expected highway fuel economy ratings of 35 mpgUS (6.7 l/100 km) when coupled with the 2.4-liter MultiAir2 Tigershark I-4 engine.

The standard Tigershark engine delivers 184 horsepower (137 kW) and 173 lb-ft (235 N·m) of torque, equating to horsepower improvements of 6% and torque improvements of 10% compared with the outgoing four-cylinder engine, with an overall fuel economy improvement of 13%. In addition to the standard 2.4-liter MultiAir2 Tigershark I-4 engine, a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine is available, which delivers 295 horsepower (220 kW) and 262 lb-ft (355 N·m) of torque.

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Honda introduces all-new 2015 Fit at Detroit; more fuel efficient, with new 1.5L VTEC

January 13, 2014

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2015 Fit. Click to enlarge.

Honda unveiled the all-new 2015 Fit at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Set to go on sale in the US this spring, the new subcompact Fit is completely redesigned, featuring a sportier style. Retaining a similar exterior footprint to the current model, the new Fit is slightly shorter (-1.6 in.) and wider (+0.3 in.) with a longer wheelbase (+1.2 in.), resulting in improved handling and maneuverability. The new Fit also delivers a significant increase in passenger volume (+4.9 cu ft) and rear legroom (+4.8 in.) compared to the previous model.

The 2015 Fit marks the US debut of an all-new direct-injected 1.5-liter DOHC i-VTEC engine. Generating 130 horsepower (97 kW) at 6500 rpm and 114 lb-ft (155 N·m) of torque at 4600 rpm, engine output is increased by 13 horsepower and 8 lb-ft compared to the outgoing engine, while reducing weight and improving efficiency.

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Ford unveils next-gen F-150; up to 700 lbs lighter, new 2.7L EcoBoost with stop-start

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2015 F-150. Click to enlarge.

Ford introduced the all-new Ford F-150 at its press conference at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The “reinvention” of this critical vehicle for Ford features an improved fully boxed ladder frame that incorporates more high-strength steel than ever, making it stronger and lighter.

Aluminum alloys are used throughout the F-150 body for the first time, improving dent and ding resistance and also saving weight. Overall, up to 700 pounds (318 kg) of weight have been saved. As one of the four engine options, the new F-150 also offers a new 2.7L EcoBoost with standard Auto Start-Stop.

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GMC unveils the midsize 2015 Canyon pickup; diesel coming in 2016

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2015 GMC Canyon All Terrain SLE Extended Cab Short Bed Click to enlarge.

GMC revealed the new 2015 Canyon midsize pickup on the eve of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Based on a proven global architecture, the new Canyon will initially offer two engines, with a Duramax 2.8L turbodiesel engine coming in the 2016 model year.

The standard 2.5L I-4 is estimated at 193 horsepower (146 kW) and 184 lb-ft of torque (253 N·m), with approximately 90% of the peak torque available from 2,000 rpm to 6,200 rpm. The 3.6L V-6 engine is estimated at 302 horsepower (224 kW) and 270 lb-ft of torque (366 N·m). SAE certification of the power ratings is pending. Both engines feature direct injection and variable valve timing.

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Making driving less energy-intensive than flying

January 09, 2014

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Energy intensities of flying (blue) and driving (green), 1970-2010. Data: Sivak, UMTRI-2014-2. Click to enlarge.

Currently, the energy intensity (BTU per person mile) of driving is 57% greater than that of flying, according to a new analysis by Dr. Michael Sivak, Director, Sustainable Worldwide Transportation at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI). To make driving less energy intensive than flying, the fuel economy of the entire US fleet of light-duty vehicles would have to improve from the current 21.5 mpg (10.9 l/100 km) to at least 33.8 mpg (7.0 l/100 km) at the current vehicle load, or vehicle load would have to increase from the current 1.38 persons to at least 2.3 persons.

In the report, Sivak considered domestic operations of all certified air carriers were considered and all light-duty vehicles (cars, SUVs, pickups, and vans) over the past 40 years. During that period, the energy intensities of both driving and flying decreased. However, the improvement for driving (17%) was substantially less than for flying (74%).

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Volkswagen to intro Passat BlueMotion Concept at Detroit show; 4-cylinder with cylinder deactivation; 42 mpg highway

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Passat BlueMotion Concept. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen of America will introduce the Passat BlueMotion Concept at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit next week. Based on the current Passat that was developed specifically for North America, the BlueMotion label defines the version that has the best efficiency in the model lineup. In this case, the Passat BlueMotion Concept has a manufacturer-estimated highway fuel economy of 42 mpg (5.6 l/100 km), best-in-class among non-hybrid, gasoline-engined mid-size sedans.

The Passat BlueMotion Concept features an all-new version of the Volkswagen 1.4-liter EA211 TSI engine with direct injection and turbocharging. (Earlier post.) Additionally, this Passat also offers Active Cylinder Management (ACT) technology, previously seen on the European Volkswagen Polo and Golf models.

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Oak Ridge-GM prototype low-viscosity ionic liquid-additized engine oil delivers 2% fuel economy improvement over 5W-30

December 30, 2013

A team from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and General Motors, led by ORNL researcher Dr. Jun Qu, has developed a new group of ionic liquids as lubricant additives that could help improve the energy efficiency of cars and trucks. Prototype low-viscosity ionic liquid-additized engine oil demonstrated a 2% improved fuel economy compared to Mobil 1 5W-30 engine oil (3.93% over the 20W-30 baseline oil) in standard fuel efficiency engine dynamometer tests. The prototype oil also successfully passed a 100-hour high-temperature, high-load engine dynamometer test.

Friction is the cause of the loss of ~10-15% of the energy in an internal combustion engine; for the transportation sector, parasitic friction (primarily induced by elastohydrodynamic drag between the piston rings and cylinder liners, which is proportional to the lubricant viscosity) consumes approximately 400 million barrels of oil annually in the US. Accordingly, the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Vehicle Technologies Office, which sponsored this research, has set a goal of 2% fuel economy improvement via lubricant advances by 2015.

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DOE to issue FY14 Vehicle Technologies program-wide funding opportunity announcement

December 20, 2013

The Department Of Energy (DOE), Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) intends to issue, on behalf of its Vehicle Technology Office (VTO), a program-wide Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0000991) for fiscal year 2014 on or about January 2014. The advance notice (DE-FOA-0001053) is to alert interested parties of the coming FOA.

The areas of interest outlined in the notice of intent (NOI) fall into two broad categories: technologies to advance plug-in electric vehicles; and technologies to improve fuel efficiency, including dual-fuel, fuel properties (e.g., high octane fuels), and advanced powertrain work.

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American Axle introduces EcoTrac disconnecting all wheel drive

American Axle & Manufacturing (AAM) announced the introduction of the automotive industry’s first disconnecting all-wheel-drive (AWD) system. EcoTrac is featured on the all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee (rear-axle disconnect).

The EcoTrac Disconnecting All Wheel Drive takes a new approach to minimizing the effect of inertia and drag on a vehicle’s driveline system by disconnecting many of the rotating components from the driveline when they are not needed. These components include both the PTU and RDM hypoid gear sets, the bearings associated with the gear sets, and the driveshaft.

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Navigant Research forecasts stop-start vehicles to account for 53.4% of global vehicle sales by 2022

December 19, 2013

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Annual stop-start light duty vehicle sales by region, world markets: 2013-2022. Source: Navigant. Click to enlarge.

By 2022, total global annual sales for light duty stop-start vehicles (SSVs) will exceed 55 million, accounting for 54.3% of total vehicle sales, according to a new report by Navigant Research. Growth in light duty SSV sales during the next decade will be predominately in the three major market regions of North America, Western Europe, and Asia Pacific, primarily because these regions are the most aggressive in their implementation of fuel economy and emissions regulations.

By then, 82.8% of vehicles sold in Western Europe, 69.9% of vehicles sold in Asia Pacific, and 42.6% sold in North America will have the stop-start feature, Navigant projects.

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Airbus signs MoU with EGTS for electric taxiing solution for A320 family; projected fuel saving up to 4% per trip

December 18, 2013

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Using the aircraft’s Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) to power electric motors on its main landing gear, the “eTaxi” solution is projected to save fuel and reduce CO2 emissions during an A320 Family jetliner’s ground operations by up to 4% per trip. Click to enlarge.

As part of on-going research and development into future technology options, Airbus has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with EGTS International (Electric Green Taxiing System), a joint venture company between Safran and Honeywell Aerospace formed in 2011, further to develop and to evaluate an autonomous electric pushback and taxiing solution for the A320 Family. (Earlier post.)

The agreement marks the selection of EGTS International’s Electric Green Taxiing System to be evaluated as a new option on the A320 Family—referred to by Airbus as eTaxi. This option would allow the aircraft to push-back from the gate without a tug, taxi-out to the runway, and return to the gate after landing without operating the main engines.

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New Mercedes-Benz C-Class drops weight, adds new engines, diesel hybrid, w/ plug-in to come; up to 20% cut in fuel consumption

December 16, 2013

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The new C-Class. Click to enlarge.

Mercedes-Benz has launched its new C-Class, featuring a lightweight design concept with weight savings of up to 100 kg (220 lbs); excellent aerodynamics; and new, economical engines along with a hybrid model. The C-Class is the top-selling model series from Mercedes-Benz; sales of the preceding model, which was launched in 2007, total more than 2.4 million.

Ordering for the C-Class sedan have begun in Europe, with the model range initially comprising the C180, the C200; and the diesel C220 BlueTEC. All are equipped with the ECO start/stop function and comply with the Euro 6 emissions standard. They also cut fuel consumption by up to 20% compared with the preceding model. The US market launches with two C-Class models: C300 4MATIC and C400 4MATIC.

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

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

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

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

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ExxonMobil Outlook: 35% growth in energy demand by 2040; hybrids to account for ~50% of new vehicle sales

December 15, 2013

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By 2040, hybrids are expected to account for about 35% of the global light-duty vehicle fleet, up from less than 1% in 2010. Hybrids are expected to account for about half of global new-car sales by 2040. Source: ExxonMobil. Click to enlarge.

Driven by increasing population, urbanization and rising living standards, the world will require some 35% more energy in 2040, according to ExxonMobil’s annual forecast report: Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040. Anticipated population growth will reach nearly 9 billion in 2040 from about 7 billion today, and the global economy is projected to double—at an annual growth rate of nearly 3%—largely in the developing world.

Demand for energy in non-OECD nations will grow by about two-thirds, accounting for essentially all of the increase in global energy use. ExxonMobil projects that meeting future energy demand will be supported by more efficient energy-saving practices and technologies; increased use of less-carbon-intensive fuels such as natural gas, nuclear and renewables; as well as the continued development of technology advances to develop new energy sources. Without the projected gains in efficiency, global energy demand could have risen by more than 100%.

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

December 13, 2013

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

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

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

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Torotrak to acquire remaining 80% of Flybrid for up to £23M; targeting commercial launch of M-KERS in 2015

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Torotrak’s M-KERS unit. Click to enlarge.

Supercharger, kinetic energy recovery and transmission specialist Torotrak will acquire, pending shareholder approval, the remaining 80% of flywheel hybrid innovator Flybrid for up to £23.0 million (US$37.4 million), of which £15.0 million (US$24.4 million) is subject to performance targets. Torotrak had acquired 20% of its partner in March of this year. (Earlier post.)

Torotrak uses Flybrid’s flywheel module in its Mechanical Kinetic Energy Recovery System (M-KERS). M-KERS captures and stores energy that is otherwise lost during vehicle deceleration events. The integration of Flybrid and Torotrak provides a platform for a joint development and commercial launch of M-KERS, Torotrak said. The group intends to exploit what it sees as a market window from 2015 to 2020 in which new technologies are being demanded to achieve new EU CO2 targets applying to vehicle manufacturers’ overall fleets.

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Ford to make start-stop technology available on 70% of its N. America lineup by 2017

Auto Start-Stop technology will be available on 70% of Ford’s North American vehicle lineup by 2017, the company said. Ford Auto Start-Stop can increase fuel efficiency by up to 10% in city driving.

A major part of the company’s Blueprint for Sustainability, the expansion of Auto Start-Stop comes as the 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine (earlier post) is set to go on sale in the 2014 Ford Fiesta. Rated at 45 mpg EPA highway (5.2 l/100 km), the new Fiesta is the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid or diesel on the market. Ford is also researching dynamic cruise control, a technology that predicts road conditions to optimize fuel economy.

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

December 12, 2013

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

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

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Scania to lead 3-year European research project on vehicle platooning

December 11, 2013

Scania will take the lead role in a three-year European research project to develop a system for implementing truck platooning on roads. Introducing platooning on European roads can significantly contribute towards reducing the carbon footprint of trucks. The European Union has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gases by 20% by 2020; heavy vehicles currently account for 17% of total CO2 emissions.

Through the €5.4-million (US$7.45-million) COMPANION research project, of which €3.4 million (US$4.69 million) is funded by the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme, the partners will identify means of implementing the platooning concept in practice in daily transport operations. The project also includes Volkswagen Group Research; Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology (KTH); Oldenburger Institut für Informatik (OFFIS) in Germany; IDIADA Automotive Technology in Spain; Science [&] Technology Corporation in the Netherlands; and the Spanish haulage company Transportes Cerezuela.

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New Bosch start-stop system with coasting mode can reduce fuel consumption by up to another 10%

Bosch has developed a new start-stop system with coasting mode; the system stops the engine when the vehicle is traveling at speed, helping to reduce fuel consumption by up to 10%. The function can be combined with any type of combustion engine.

First generation start-stop systems stop an engine only when the vehicle is completely stationary; enhanced versions of this start-stop system cut the engine as soon as the vehicle is coasting to a halt—e.g., at a red light. In contrast, as soon as the driver’s foot is off both the gas and the brake pedal, vehicles equipped with the new start-stop coasting function stop the engine while the vehicle is in motion. Because the engine is disengaged, the vehicle can coast for longer than it could with an overrun fuel cutoff system, for example.

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Ricardo report finds hybrid buses have higher regulated emission intensities than conventional buses; need for whole vehicle testing

December 09, 2013

While technologies for low carbon buses such as hybridization offer the prospect of significant reductions in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions compared to conventionally powered vehicles, the improvement in terms of regulated emissions (criteria pollutants) may not be as great, according to a new report by Ricardo. Local emissions from buses are of particular significance, as the vehicles mainly operate in urban areas.

The UK’s Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) commissioned the review of the air quality impacts arising from the recent rapid increase in the number of low carbon buses in the UK, a result of subsidies provided through the Government’s Green Bus Funds. The UK now has around 1,300 low carbon buses in operation. The new report recommends that the legislation needs to consider hybrid technology impacts in the test processes to avoid potential unintended consequences in terms of local emissions.

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SMDI design study produces twist beam concept that reduces mass ~30% relative to baseline assembly

December 06, 2013

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Twist beam assembly mass comparison. Click to enlarge.

Results of a new design study for a lightweight steel proof-of-concept twist beam (used in suspensions) by the Steel Market Development Institute’s (SMDI) Automotive Applications Council indicate that the preferred U-Beam Design based on 22MnB5 tubular construction with DP780 and SPFH540 sheet achieves a 30.0% mass reduction relative to the baseline assembly, at a 12–15% premium in manufacturing cost at production volumes of 30,000 to 250,000 vehicles per year, respectively.

An S-Beam Design based on 22MnB5 sheet, DP780 tube and HSLA550 materials was predicted to have a 14.9% mass reduction relative to the baseline assembly. The objective of the study was to develop a twist beam design achieving a 15–25% mass reduction with equivalent structural and elasto-kinematic performance relative to the baseline design at a ≤ 10% cost premium.

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New Ford Mustang receives its own 2.3L EcoBoost variant

December 05, 2013

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Mustang 2.3L EcoBoost. Click to enlarge.

Ford revealed its new 2015 version of the Mustang (with great fanfare simultaneously in six cities on four continents and CEO Alan Mulally on ABC’s Good Morning America) with a choice of three powertrains: a upgraded 5.0L V8, a 3.7-liter V6 and an all-new 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine developed specifically for Mustang.

Among the features of the new EcoBoost engine are an optimized intake manifold and turbocharger housing to provide better breathing and higher output. The new 2.3L EcoBoost offers a projected 305-plus hp (227 kW) and 300-plus lb-ft (407 N·m) of torque. (The upgraded V8, at more than twice the displacement, offers around 420 hp and 390 lb-ft.)

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Study suggests fuel cell hybrid with supercapacitors for energy storage the most fuel efficient

December 02, 2013

An evaluation of different fuel cell hybrid electric vehicle (FCHEV) powertrain designs—such as fuel cell/supercapacitor (FC/SC), fuel cell/battery (FC/B), and a combination of supercapacitors and batteries (FC/SC/B)—and different control strategies by researchers in Belgium concluded that the FC/SC HEV has slightly higher fuel economy than the FC/B HEV and FC/B/SC HEV powertrains.

This, the researchers suggested in a paper presented at the recent EVS 27 conference in Barcelona, was due to the use of the efficient supercapacitors for the majority of the transient-power requirements (the SC can be charged or discharged at a high current, at which the battery cannot function). The fuel economy of the supercapacitor fuel cell hybrid, they noted, is higher despite the vehicle being heavier and more expensive.

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Ford researchers present physics-based model of mass-induced fuel consumption for better insight into lightweighting benefits

November 25, 2013

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Schematic of fuel use in driving. Fw = fuel consumption due to mass-induced loads; Fx = fuel cons. due to aerodynamic resistance and accessory power loads; Ff = fuel cons. due to mechanical losses in the engine; Fl = fuel cons. due to mechanical losses outside of the engine; Fload = fuel cons. used to overcome vehicle loads; Floss = fuel cons. due to mechanical losses. Credit: ACS, Kim and Wallington. Click to enlarge.

A pair of researchers from Ford Motor Company’s Systems Analytics and Environmental Sciences Department in Dearborn have developed a novel physics-based model of mass-induced fuel (MIF) consumption which can be used in vehicle life cycle assessments to provide better insight—i.e., from a more firm scientific foundation—on the potential benefits of lightweighting.

To illustrate the method, they used their model to estimate the MIF values for 2013 model year internal combustion engined using the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) fuel economy certification data. They found MIF values in the range of 0.2−0.5 L/(100 km 100 kg). As described in a paper on their work in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, the results showed that lightweighting has the most benefit when applied to vehicles with high fuel consumption and high power.

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Mazda showcases CNG and hybrid Axela models in Tokyo; Mazda’s approach to environmental performance

November 22, 2013

At the Tokyo Motor Show, Mazda is showcasing the recently-released Mazda Axela (known as Mazda3 overseas) with a variety of engine types at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, including a CNG concept and hybrid variants. (Earlier post.)

The Axela accounts for more than 30% of global sales; the latest Axela is the third generation. The new Axela range also introduces a hybrid vehicle, and marks the first time for a single model launched on the Japanese market to include gasoline, diesel, and hybrid power plants in its powertrain lineup.

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Audi of America officially introduces the new A3 family; plug-in hybrid version coming in 2015

November 20, 2013

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The A3 e-tron plug-in hybrid. Click to enlarge.

Audi of America officially announced plans today for the arrival in the US of the new A3 family of premium compact cars, with three body styles, five new engines and seven variants including its plug-in hybrid model. Audi first revealed the A3 Sportback e-tron at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show earlier this year. (Earlier post.)

This new A3 lineup begins with the A3 sedan, which goes on sale in the spring of 2014. The A3 sedan plays a pivotal role in the soon to be expanding Audi A3 family and will be priced from a base MSRP of $29,900. It will be joined later in the fall of 2014 by the Audi A3 Cabriolet; A3 TDI clean diesel sedan; the high-performance S3 sedan; and in early 2015, the A3 Sportback e-tron gasoline electric plug-in hybrid (PHEV).

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New 4-cylinder 2.3L EcoBoost on Lincoln MKC small SUV; future EcoBoost prospects

November 18, 2013

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Lincoln MKC is the first to get the new 2.3L EcoBoost. Click to enlarge.

The all-new 2015 Lincoln MKC small premium utility, unveiled last week, offers an all-new engine—a 2.3-liter EcoBoost gasoline turbocharged direct injection (GTDI) four-cylinder unit. Ford says the engine can deliver up to 15% better fuel economy than comparable six-cylinder engines.

Featuring a twin-scroll turbocharger and a three-port integrated exhaust manifold (IEM), the 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder offers projected best-in-class horsepower per liter and best-in-class torque per liter, generating 275 hp (205 kW) at 5,500 rpm and 300 lb-ft (407 N·m) of torque at 3,000 rpm, according to preliminary test data.

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Study finds rates of LDV fuel consumption in US peaked in 2004; indications of peak motorization

November 16, 2013

In a follow-up study to his earlier analysis of trends of light-duty vehicle registration and distance driven in the US (earlier post), Dr. Michael Sivak of The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) finds that fuel consumption rates—per person, per driver, and per household—are declining, as are ownership and driving. The bottom line, he concludes in this third report, is that “We drive fewer light-duty vehicles, we drive each of them less, and we consume less fuel.”

Sivak examined the period from 1984 through 2011. Based on the present data, his best estimates of the current annual fuel-consumption rates are: 398 gallons (1,507 liters) per person, 585 gallons (2,214 liters) per licensed driver, 1,033 gallons (3,910 liters) per household, and 530 gallons (2,006 liters) per registered vehicle. These rates are down 16% to 17% from their peaks in 2004, except that the rate per vehicle is down 13% (from its peak in 2003).

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NASA, Boeing finish tests of 757 vertical tail with active flow control technology

November 15, 2013

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The full-sized test tail modified and equipped with sweeping jet actuators. (Image credit: NASA Ames Research Center) Click to enlarge.

NASA’s Ames Research Center and NASA’s Langley Research Center, in partnership with The Boeing Co., have completed wind tunnel testing of a full-scale Boeing 757 vertical tail model equipped with active flow control (AFC) technology. The project is one of eight large-scale integrated technology demonstrations that are part of NASA’s Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) Project. (Earlier post.)

Active flow control involves the manipulation of a flow field—through the addition of energy—to improve the aerodynamic performance of an aircraft structure. Active flow control can enable the design of simpler, smaller and more aerodynamically efficient structures that help reduce aircraft weight, drag, and fuel consumption.

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Audi offering three engines with cylinder deactivation technology; fuel savings up to 20%

November 12, 2013

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Cylinder on demand V8. Click to enlarge.

Audi has three gasoline engines equipped with its cylinder-on-demand (COD) technology (cylinder deactivation): the 1.4 TFSI COD, the 4.0 TFSI COD and now also the 12-cylinder W12 COD in the new Audi A8 L. (Earlier post.) COD can deliver reductions in fuel consumption of up to 20%, Audi says.

The Audi COD technology is versatile, equally suitable for use in the four-cylinder direct-injection unit, as well as the V8 TFSI and the 12-cylinder naturally aspirated unit. In all engines, it deactivates half of the cylinders at low to intermediate loads and engine speeds in the upper gears until the driver once again accelerates strongly. Efficiency in the active cylinders increases because the operating points are displaced toward higher loads.

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UK launches £75M fund for more energy efficient engines and cars; £1.5M for autonomous pods

November 10, 2013

The UK government has launched a £75-million (US$120-million) fund to speed the development of low carbon technologies for engines. Selected projects are to be the pilot projects of the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) announced in July. (Earlier post.) The APC will channel £1-billion (US$1.6 billion) investment from government and industry to fund the development of new technologies over the next 10 years.

To apply for a share of the £75 million APC fund, bidders must form a group which includes at least one vehicle manufacturer, an SME and at least one supply chain company. The competition, which will support a range of powertrain technologies, will open on 2 December 2013, with projects expected to begin from April 2014.

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Global Commercial Vehicle Industry Meeting endorses harmonized global approach to improve fuel efficiency and reduce GHGs

November 09, 2013

Leading global manufacturers of heavy-duty commercial trucks and engines gathering at the annual Global Commercial Vehicle Industry Meeting endorsed a harmonized global approach as an effective pathway to further improve energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from commercial vehicles. The manufacturers have been pursuing policy cooperation for a number of years. (Earlier post.)

Meeting in Chicago, the chief executives of commercial vehicle and engine manufacturers in Europe, Japan, and the United States discussed fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions reductions, diesel fuel specifications, and topics related to heavy-duty engine and vehicle regulation and certification.

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GFEI report suggests $2T savings from fuel economy improvements in ICE vehicles through 2025 can help fund long-term transition to plug-ins

November 08, 2013

Fuel economy improvements from conventional internal combustion engine cars can save an estimated $2 trillion in fuel costs through 2025—and more in years after—according to a new working paper published by the Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI) prepared by Dr. Lew Fulton, Co-Director, NextSTEPS Program at the Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California at Davis.

The GFEI, a partnership of international agencies and top energy policy experts, suggests that these cost savings could in part be used to help offset the costs of developing a global market for electric vehicles over this time frame, since the savings are estimated to be at least four times bigger than these costs.

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Brookings analysts recommend against repeating cash for clunkers program in future recession

November 03, 2013

According to a new paper and policy brief by Brookings, the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) or “cash for clunkers” program, launched during the height of the recession with the intention of stimulating the economy and reducing emissions, actually resulted in only a small and short-lived impact on GDP; a higher implied cost per job created than alternative fiscal stimulus programs; and a higher cost per ton of CO2 reduced than what would be achieved through a policy such as a carbon tax or cap-and-trade.

However, the cost of CO2 reduced was comparable or lower than that achieved through less cost-effective policies such as the tax subsidy for electric vehicles, the analysis concluded. In terms of distributional effects, compared to households that purchased a new or used vehicle in 2009 without a voucher, CARS program participants had a higher before-tax income, were older, more likely to be white, more likely to own a home, and more likely to have a high-school and a college degree.

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Pinnacle’s opposed-piston scooter engine can meet NOx target with lean operation and ignition delay; little fuel economy hit

November 01, 2013

In a paper presented at the recent Small Engine Technology Conference organized by JSAE and SAE International, Michael (Tony) Willcox from Pinnacle Engines reported that the 110cc version of the 4-stroke, spark-ignited (SI), opposed-piston, sleeve-valve architecture engine (earlier post) can use lean operation and ignition delay to meet Euro 4 NOx emission targets without aftertreatment and with only a negligible impact (< 1.5%) on the fuel consumption benefits of the engine (about 25-27% better than a comparable conventional engine in the relevant drivecycle).

Further, Pinnacle noted, recently developed hardware designed for additional lean limit extension is under test. The new hardware is anticipated to leave margin with Euro 5/6 NOx regulations using an oxidation-only catalyst for aftertreatment.

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Fairbanks Morse Engine and Achates Power team up on opposed-piston engines

October 31, 2013

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Fairbanks Morse Model 38 opposed-piston engine. Click to enlarge.

The leading manufacturer of opposed-piston engines, Fairbanks Morse Engine (FME), an EnPro Industries company, has signed a joint development and licensing agreement with Achates Power, Inc., the developer of a family of two-stroke compression-ignition opposed-piston engines (earlier post), to reduce emissions and fuel consumption of Fairbanks Morse proprietary diesel and dual-fuel opposed-piston engines.

The Fairbanks Morse Model 38 opposed-piston engine was designed and developed for a wide array of electrical power generation and heavy industrial applications. OP engines are propelling ships, driving locomotives, powering natural gas compressors, running chillers and pump drives, and producing electricity in a variety of marine and stationary applications.

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EEA: All major car manufacturers in Europe met 2012 CO2 targets; 9 already meet 2015 targets

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Distance to 2012 target by individual manufacturer. Source: EEA. Click to enlarge.

Based on emission levels recorded in vehicle tests, car registration data analyzed by the European Environment Agency (EEA) in the report “CO2 emissions performance of car manufacturers in 2012” shows that in 2012 all major car manufacturers met their targets for their fleet. Nine of the larger manufacturers (Audi AG, BMW AG, Automobiles Citroën, Fiat group, Ford-Werke, Adam Opel, Automobiles Peugeot, Seat, Toyota Motor Europe, and Volvo Car) were already compliant with 2015 targets in 2012.

Carbon emissions of the average car sold in the EU fell 2.6% between 2011 and 2012, cutting the EU average to 132.2 grams of CO2 per kilometer—close to the 130 g target for the average new car sold in 2015.

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UPS begins operational rollout of ORION advanced route optimization software

October 30, 2013

ORION infographic
ORION infographic. Click to enlarge.

UPS has launched its ORION (On-Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation) advanced route optimization software. The rollout of ORION is intended to optimize 10,000 delivery routes by the end of the year, reduce miles driven and reinforce UPS’ sustainability efforts. US deployment to nearly all 55,000 routes is planned to be completed in 2017 and global deployments are planned for the future.

ORION contains more than 250 million address data points. The software combines customers’ shipping requirements with customized map data the company has compiled to provide UPS drivers with optimized routing instructions that meet service-level requirements, while reducing miles driven.

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