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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.]

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

October 01, 2014

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

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

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

September 30, 2014

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

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

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ICCT: gap between official and real-world fuel economy figures in Europe reaches ~38%; call to implement WLTP ASAP

September 28, 2014

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Divergence of real-world CO2 emissions from manufacturers’ type-approval CO2 emissions for various on-road data sources, including an average estimate for private and company cars as well as all data sources. Source: ICCT. Click to enlarge.

The gap between official and real-world fuel-economy figures in Europe has risen to about 38%, according to a new report published by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). Ten years ago the discrepancy between these real-world and sales-brochure values was at 10%. The new report—“From Laboratory to Road: 2014 Update”—updates ICCT’s original 2013 report on the growing discrepancy. (Earlier post.)

The new report is based on data from more than half a million private and company vehicles across Europe. The findings come as the European Commission is preparing to adopt an improved test procedure that would produce more realistic vehicle test results.

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Subaru upgrades US-spec Impreza; EyeSight driver assist technology, 1 mpg boost over 2014 model

September 26, 2014

Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (FHI), the manufacturer of Subaru automobiles, will debut an upgraded Subaru Impreza compact 4-door and 5-door models on the US market later this year as part of its 2015 lineup. This will be the first Impreza offering Subaru’s proprietary “EyeSight” Driver Assist Technology, which includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Braking and Vehicle Lane Departure Warning. (Earlier post.) Other Subarus with EyeSight include the Legacy, Outback and Forester lines.

The 2015 Impreza offers improved fuel economy, strengthening its position as offering the highest fuel economy of any gasoline All-Wheel Drive car offered in the US. Its EPA estimated ratings of up to 28 mpg city, 37 mpg highway and 31 mpg combined (8.4, 6.4 and 7.6 l/100 km, respectively) for models with the Lineartronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) are comparable with front-wheel drive cars.

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4-cylinder Ingenium diesel most efficient Jaguar diesel to date; up to 62 mpg US (3.8L/100 km) in new XE

September 25, 2014

Jaguar says that its new four-cylinder Ingenium diesel (earlier post) is its most efficient diesel to date; with the new Ingenium diesel engines driving the rear wheels, the aluminium-intensive XE (earlier post) is also the most fuel-efficient Jaguar yet, with CO2 emissions as low as 99 g/km.

The new aluminum-intensive XE will feature two versions of the 2.0-liter Ingenium diesel. The first, rated at 163 PS (120 kW) and 380 N·m (280 lb-ft), delivers benchmark efficiency figures of 62 mpg US (3.8 L/100 km) and 99 g/km CO2 without any compromise to launch performance or mid-range acceleration. The 180 PS (132 kW)/430 N·m (317 lb-ft) variant has one of the highest torque outputs in the class.

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Aleris to invest $350M to upgrade Kentucky aluminum rolling mill for anticipated growth in automotive demand

Aleris will invest $350 million to upgrade capabilities at its aluminum rolling mill in Lewisport, Kentucky. The investment positions Aleris to meet anticipated significant growth in North American automotive demand as the industry pursues broader aluminum use for the production of lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles. Aleris is currently a leading supplier to the European premium auto industry, which has led the transition to aluminum driven by tighter emissions standards.

The company expects to begin construction on the project this fall, with a goal of shipping automotive body sheet material to customers by early 2017. When fully operational, the new facility will allow for the production of 480 million pounds of aluminum auto body sheet annually.

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

September 24, 2014

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Mondeo 5-door. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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Audi unveils TT and TTS Roadsters prior to Paris debut; evolution of Audi Space Frame; up to 54.7 mpg US with diesel

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Audi TT Roadster. Click to enlarge.

Audi is presenting the new TT Roadster and the TTS Roadster at the Paris Motor Show; the introduction follows the recent introduction of the 3rd-generation TT Coupé. (Earlier post.) A particular highlight in the third TT generation is the Audi virtual cockpit. For the first time, the digital instrument cluster provides all information within the driver’s field of vision; the Audi TT’s new display and control system has already received the Car Connectivity Award and the honor of Interior Innovation of the Year at the Automotive Interiors Expo Awards.

Intelligent composite construction. The body of the TT Roadster and the TTS Roadster represents a new evolution of the Audi Space Frame (ASF) based on the modular transverse matrix (MQB). Ultra-high-strength components made from hot-shaped steel reinforce the front section and the passenger compartment floor. The passenger compartment and all outer skin and attachment parts are made of the classic semi-finished aluminum products cast node, extruded profile and sheet metal.

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Promising results from Mercedes-Benz fleet test of Clariant high-octane cellulosic E20

September 23, 2014

Clariant, Haltermann and Mercedes-Benz have fleet-tested high-octane sunliquid 20 fuel—containing 20% cellulosic ethanol produced from straw—since January. (Earlier post.) The test found that the use of sunliquid 20 improves engine efficiency—more than compensating for its 4% lower energy content compared to E10. For drivers, this means with sunliquid 20, CO2emissions are reduced while consumption remains the same.

Use of sunliquid 20 also resulted in a 50% improvement in particle emissions count in contrast to the EU 5 reference fuel. The cellulosic ethanol in sunliquid 20 demonstrates greenhouse gas emission savings of up to 95% across the entire value chain (well-to-wheel perspective) without competing with food production or agricultural acreage.

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Canada aligns with US on light-duty vehicle GHGs, Tier 3 regulations and heavy-duty vehicle fuel efficiency

Canadian Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced developments on three new regulatory initiatives to further support Canada’s efforts to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to provide cleaner air through lower air pollutant emissions from cars and trucks. These vehicles and fuels regulatory initiatives are aligned with those of the United States.

GHG regulations. The final Regulations Amending the Passenger Automobile and Light Truck Greenhouse Gas Emission Regulations for model year 2017 and beyond will be published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, on 8 October. These regulatory amendments represent further action to reduce GHG emissions while building on the existing Regulations for 2011-2016 model year vehicles.

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

September 18, 2014

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

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

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

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MAHLE NanoNapier Steel piston ring helps reduce weight and improve quality

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

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

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Renault presents the 235 mpg EOLAB prototype; plug-in “Z.E. Hybrid”; targeting production

September 17, 2014

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EOLAB. Click to enlarge.

Renault has presented EOLAB, a new prototype which explores ways to deliver ultra-low fuel consumption. EOLAB delivers NEDC combined cycle fuel consumption of 1 liter/100 km (235 mpg US), equivalent to 22g of CO2/km. To achieve such low figures, the designers focused their efforts on three main areas: minimizing weight; leveraging aerodynamics with active systems; and using the “Z.E. Hybrid” plug-in hybrid system—the last offering all-electric trips of up to 60 km (37 miles) at speeds of up to 120 km/h (75 mph).

Conceived around a B-segment platform, the prototype incorporates around 100 new, realistic technological developments that are designed to be introduced gradually on upcoming Renault vehicles. EOLAB features materials such as magnesium and aluminium, which are extremely light and also much cheaper than titanium. Meanwhile, the notion of such a car being produced in large numbers within the next 10 years was dialed into the plan from the start.

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

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New Ford C-MAX. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 16, 2014

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BMW 2 Series Coupe. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

September 15, 2014

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

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

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

September 12, 2014

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

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

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Renault Trucks’ Optifuel Lab 2 lab vehicle integrates technologies for more efficient big rigs; road test results coming in 2015

September 11, 2014

Renault Trucks’ heavy-duty Optifuel Lab 2 laboratory vehicle brings together various technologies designed to reduce fuel consumption in heavy-duty trucks and to prepare the way for future production models. Renault Trucks will display a scale model of Optifuel Lab 2 at the upcoming IAA. The vehicle is currently on the road to calculate the fuel savings it can achieve. These figures will be announced during the first quarter of 2015.

Optifuel Lab 2 has 20 technologies on board, each one of which addresses the four main issues associated with consumption: energy management, aerodynamics, wheel resistance and driving aids. Based on a Renault Trucks T, Optifuel Lab 2 is an ongoing version of the Optifuel Lab 1 introduced in 2009. The project has been developed with support from eight partners: Plastic Omnium, Michelin, Sunpower, Renault, IFP Energies Nouvelles, CEP-Armines, CETHIL-INSA from Lyon and LMFA-Ecole Centrale from Lyon. It is also supported by ADEMA, the French Agency for the Environment and Energy Control.

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

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

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

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

September 10, 2014

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

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

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Ricardo to display functional integration prototype of ADEPT 48V “intelligent electrification” diesel

September 09, 2014

ADEPT schematic
ADEPT schematic. Click to enlarge.

Ricardo will display the first functional integration prototype of the Advanced Diesel Electric Powertrain (ADEPT) collaborative research project (earlier post) in public for the first time this week at the Low Carbon Vehicle Event (LCV 2014) in the UK.

The ADEPT project was launched in 2013 to demonstrate the potential for 48V-based intelligent electrification to deliver full hybrid-scale fuel efficiency from a highly cost-effective package. As the project approaches its mid-point, the research team—led by Ricardo and including Ford Motor Company, Controlled Power Technologies (CPT), the European Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium (EALABC), Faurecia and the University of Nottingham—has completed the build of the first functional integration prototype ADEPT vehicle.

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

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New Ford Focus. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

September 08, 2014

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

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

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

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

September 05, 2014

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

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

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Shanghai GM launches Buick Envision; new 6-speed with start/stop standard, new AWD system

August 29, 2014

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Buick Envision. Click to enlarge.

Shanghai GM officially launched the Buick Envision premium midsize SUV today in Chengdu. Four variants are being offered: the AWD Elite, AWD Luxury, AWD Versatile Flagship and AWD Versatile Sporty Flagship.

The Envision comes with GM’s latest-generation 2.0T direct injection turbocharged engine, named one of Ward’s 10 Best Engines for 2013. It generates maximum power of 191 kW (256 hp) at 5,500 rpm and peak torque of 353 N·m (260 lb-ft) at 5,300 rpm, with power per liter reaching 95.5 kW/L. The Envision accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 8.4 seconds; with engine start/stop standard across the lineup, combined fuel economy is 8.8L/100 km (26.7 mpg US).

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Renault introduces 3rd-gen Twingo city car

August 28, 2014

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New Renault Twingo. Click to enlarge.

Renault has introduced its new, third-generation Twingo, which was developed in partnership with Daimler (earlier post). The latest generation of the city car is 10cm shorter than its predecessor, yet the interior of its cabin is 33cm longer; its turning circle is 4.30 meters (14 feet).

New Twingo comes with a choice of two three-cylinder gasoline engines (naturally aspirated or turbocharged): the 1.0L SCe 70 (along with a stop/start-equipped version) and the turbo 0.9L TCe 90. Combined cycle fuel consumption is as low as 4.2 l/100 km (56 mpg US) for the SCe 70 with stop/start.

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

August 27, 2014

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

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

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

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Audi moving ahead with 48V system in vehicles; mild hybrids

August 25, 2014

Audi will upgrade part of its vehicle electrical system from 12 to 48 volts. The move represents another technical building block for facilitating the integration of new automotive technologies while increasing the power and efficiency of its cars.

Audi recently showcased the scope of the 48-volt electrical system with the two technology demonstrators Audi A6 TDI concept and RS 5 TDI concept. (Earlier post.) Both models are fitted with an electrically powered compressor. This operates independently of the engine load and therefore fundamentally improves the acceleration performance. 48-volt technology is also suited for realizing convenience systems for dynamic chassis control. Audi will shortly be unveiling a variety of applications in this field.

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

August 22, 2014

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The new Chevrolet Cruze. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

August 14, 2014

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

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

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

August 11, 2014

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

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

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GMZ-led project tracking to deliver vehicular thermoelectric generators for Bradley Fighting Vehicle, Honda Accord

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The assembled 200W TEG tested in June delivered 270W of output. Click to enlarge.

GMZ Energy and its partners are on track to deliver a 1 kW thermoelectric generator (TEG) for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle as well as to design and to integrate a light-duty vehicle TEG into a Honda Accord as part of a DOE-funded project. Thermoelectric materials convert temperature differences into electric voltage; a TEG in a vehicle is designed to convert waste heat to power. GMZ Energy, a provider of advanced nano-structured thermoelectric generation technology, was co-founded by MIT’s Professor Gang Chen and collaborator Zhifeng Ren of the University of Houston.

The project is using Half-Heusler (HH) thermoelectric materials (earlier post) in designing the vehicular TEG systems. Although these materials (ferromagnetic intermetallic alloys with a strong crystal structure that allows great stability at high temperatures) have a ZT (dimensionless figure of merit) lower than some other TE materials such as Skutterudites, the mechanical strength and the reliability of HH compensates for this deficit, according to GMZ.

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Virginia Tech Transportation Inst. investigating adaptive stop/yield traffic signs; part of connected vehicle research

August 04, 2014

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VTTI test display for adaptive road signs. Click to enlarge.

Researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) are in the early stages of investigating the development of adaptive stop and yield traffic signs. The concept is to replace conventional roadside stop and yield signs with an in-vehicle display that would automatically alert the driver of what actions to take, if any. If no other car is present at the intersection, the driver would be allowed to pass through and go on—i.e., without halting before proceeding.

Alexandria Noble is spearheading the proof of concept adaptive stop-yield study with funding from the US Department of Transportation and under direction of her adviser and project manager, Thomas A. Dingus, the institute’s director and an endowed professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech. Noble is the first student in the newly launched Human Factors Transportation Safety Graduate Certificate Program, led by the transportation institute.

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Jaguar: aluminum-intensive XE will feature fuel consumption lower than 4L/100km; structure is 75% aluminum

July 29, 2014

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The aluminum body of the XE. Click to enlarge.

In the second of four technology previews leading up to the introduction of the new Jaguar XE on 8 September, Jaguar outlined its extensive use of aluminum in the new model. Designed around Jaguar’s modular vehicle architecture, the XE is the only car in the class to use an aluminum-intensive monocoque, with lightweight aluminum accounting for 75% of the structure.

The new aluminum-intensive SE will be paired with engines from the new Ingenium family of efficient diesel and gasoline engines (earlier post)—powertrains specifically designed and calibrated to complement reduced-weight vehicles. Jaguar projects that the resulting XE will achieve fuel consumption of less that 4.0 l/100 km (59 mpg US) on the NEDC combined cycle (subject to certification) and CO2 emissions of less than 100 g/km.

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Mercedes-Benz introduces new Vito mid-size van; up to 41.3 mpg US, new front-wheel drive option

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New Vito. Click to enlarge.

Mercedes-Benz introduced its new Vito model series for the mid-size van (2.5–3.2 t GVW) segment. Among the variants is the Vito 116 CDI BlueEfficiency, offering fuel consumption of 5.7 l of diesel per 100 km (41.3 mpg US).

The new Vito is also the first van in the mid-size segment to offer three different drive system variants—rear-wheel, all-wheel, and, new, front wheel drive systems. The Vito also and incorporates a broad range of innovative safety and assistance systems.

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97% of US buyers opted for 2.5L stop/start base engine on 2014, 2015 Malibu

July 23, 2014

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2014 ECOTEC 2.5L I-4 iVLC DI (LKW) with stop/start. Click to enlarge.

Ninety-seven percent of customers in the US who purchased a 2014 or 2015 Malibu—accounting for about 83,000 vehicles—opted for the 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder base engine (LKW) equipped with standard stop/start technology, according to GM. (Earlier post.) This marks the the most aggressive rollout of stop/start technology in the US by an American automaker.

The 2014 Malibu was the first in its segment with a standard engine featuring fuel-saving stop/start technology. Stop/start is featured along other technologies in the Malibu’s new 2.5L intake valve lift control (iVLC), powertrain along with direct injection, variable valve lift control and a new six-speed automatic transmission. All contribute to EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 25 mpg (9.4 l/100 km) in city driving and 36 mpg (6.5 l/100 km) on the highway—14% and 6% improvements, respectively, over earlier models.

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Ford provides some performance specs for its new 2.7L twin-turbo EcoBoost for the MY2015 F-150

July 22, 2014

The MY 2015 Ford F-150 will offer a new high-output, twin-turbo 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 producing 325 hp (242 kW) and 375 lb-ft (508 N·m) of torque. Due to the extensive lightweighting in the new F-150 (earlier post), this will improve the power-to-weight ratio of the 2015 truck by 15% over the 2014 5.0-liter V8-equipped F-150 with similar torque output.

Boosting 2.7-liter EcoBoost fuel efficiency is the debut of standard Auto Start-Stop technology for F-150. The technology is off when towing or in four-wheel-drive mode. The 2.7-liter EcoBoost 4x2 has a maximum payload rating of 2,250 lbs (1,021 kg) and maximum tow rating of 8,500 pounds (3,856 kg), suited for meeting mid-range capability needs.

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Allison Transmission unveils integrated stop-start technology for Cummins ETHOS E-85 engine

July 21, 2014

Allison Transmission Holdings Inc. announced new integrated stop-start technology in conjunction with Project ETHOS, an ultra-low carbon powertrain program created by Cummins Inc. to demonstrate the potential of alternative fuels for carbon dioxide (CO2) reductions in medium-duty commercial vehicles.

The Cummins ETHOS 2.8L engine is designed specifically to use E-85 (85% ethanol and 15% gasoline). To take full advantage of the favorable combustion attributes and potential of E-85, the engine operates at diesel-like cylinder pressures and incorporates advanced spark-ignition technology. It delivers the power (up to 250 hp / 186 kW) and peak torque (up to 450 lb-ft / 610 N·m) of gasoline and diesel engines nearly twice its 2.8-liter displacement. (Earlier post.)

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Argonne VERIFI researchers applying GSA to investigate combustion engine parameters; seeking cleaner and more efficient engines

July 18, 2014

Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory, as part of the new Virtual Engine Research Institute and Fuels Initiative (VERIFI) (earlier post), are using global sensitivity analysis (GSA)—a specific form of uncertainty analysis which breaks down the uncertainty into constitute parts—to investigate a number of parameters in the internal combustion process. By gaining a better understanding of how these parameter uncertainties affect outcomes, the VERIFI researchers, along with colleagues at the University of Connecticut, are seeking to create cleaner and more efficient engines.

The parameters being investigated include the relationships between the diameter of the nozzle in the fuel injector; the dynamics of the fuel spray; the proportion of fuel to air in the combustion chamber; and the exhaust products. In an SAE paper presented at the World Congress this year, the researchers described the results of the first demonstration of GSA for engine simulations.

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First high-heat plastic air intake manifold with integrated charge air cooler in production on hybrid sports car

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Plastic air intake manifold with integrated CAC for 3-cylinder 1.5-liter engine.

The world’s first high-heat plastic air intake manifold (AIM) with integrated charge air cooler (CAC) in Stanyl Diablo, Royal DSM’s high-temperature-resistant polyamide 46, recently went into production on a recently introduced hybrid sports car—by its description (although not by confirmation from DSM) the BMW i8 (earlier post). Royal DSM noted that the use marks another major step forward in the use of thermoplastics in automotive high-heat zones.

The injection-molded AIM/CAC manifold operates at 220 °C and withstands pulses of high internal pressure. DSM worked closely together with a leading system supplier to develop the AIM/CAC combination, with DSM providing extensive development and processing support. The part is made in Stanyl Diablo OCD2100, which contains 40% glass fiber reinforcement as well as a specially developed and patented heat stabilizer. This grade has a continuous-use temperature of 220 °C and is able to withstand peak temperatures up to 250 °C.

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OpEneR: improving EV range by optimizing energy management

July 17, 2014

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OpEneR partners have developed driving strategies and driver assistance systems to improve the efficiency and safety of electric vehicles. Click to enlarge.

At its final review, the European research project OpEneR (“optimal energy consumption and recovery based on a system network”) presented collaboratively developed driving strategies and driver assistance systems to improve significantly the efficiency (and hence range) and safety of electric vehicles by optimizing energy management. (Earlier post.)

In comparison to a typical sporty driver, the OpEneR operation strategies resulted in a reduced energy consumption of 27 to 36%, with the trade-off of an increase in travel time of between 8 to 21%—depending on the driver’s willingness to follow the recommendations. Approximately 5 percentage points of the energy consumption reduction were due to intelligent torque distribution between front and rear electric motors in the demonstrators, which had no influence on travel time at all.

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Two Audi TDI technology studies with electric biturbo, 48V electrical systems; both technologies to go into series production

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V6 TDI bi-turbo with electric compressor. Click to enlarge.

Audi has built two technology studies with the “electric biturbo” technology it is developing (earlier post): the Audi A6 TDI concept is equipped with a new 3.0 TDI monoturbo (i.e., a single turbo with supplementary electric compressor), while the Audi RS 5 TDI concept with a 3.0 TDI biturbo (two in-series turbochargers with supplementary electric compressor).

The electric biturbo system comprises a classic exhaust turbocharger (mono- or bi-turbo) working together with a supplemental, electric-powered compressor arranged in series and powered by a separate 48-volt electrical system. Instead of a turbine wheel, it contains a small electric motor that applies a maximum drive power of 7 kW to accelerate the compressor wheel to maximum speed within 250 milliseconds.

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UK study finds low carbon policy has bolstered UK automotive sector, but trucks neglected and biofuels stalled

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Value of low carbon investments by year and cumulative. Click to enlarge.

A major new report published at the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership’s Annual Conference shows the UK automotive sector has been revitalized by consistently applied policy centered on cutting carbon.

Carried out for LowCVP by E4tech and the Centre for Automotive Industry Research at Cardiff Business School, the study was conducted between March and June 2014. The broad industry survey, supplemented by in-depth interviews with senior executives showed that a consistent and sustained policy approach can produce both green results and growth. The link between consistently applied policy and a win-win in terms of investment and emissions performance was validated by the survey involving more than 120 senior industry and stakeholder respondents.

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World premiere of new smart fortwo and forfour

July 16, 2014

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The new smart fortwo: Body panels in white, tridion safety cell in lava orange (metallic). The new smart forfour: Body in white, tridion safety cell in black. Click to enlarge.

In a world premiere staged in Berlin, Daimler brand smart unveiled the new versions of its iconic smart fortwo and forfour city cars. The new smart fortwo, developed in partnership with Renault (sharing the third-generation Twingo platform) has undergone improvements in virtually all areas and is markedly more comfortable, while the smart rear engine concept is now being offered for the first time in the four-seater smart forfour as well.

Drive power is supplied by three-cylinder engines rated at 45 kW/60 hp, 52 kW/71 hp and 66 kW/90 hp, while power transmission is performed by a five-speed manual transmission or the twinamic automatic dual clutch transmission. A new version of the smart fortwo electric drive (earlier post), based on the new model, will follow.

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Refreshed 2014 Toyota Yaris features revamped 1.0L engine with switching between Atkinson and Otto cycles; new hybrid

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2014 Yaris Hybrid. Click to enlarge.

Toyota’s refreshed 2014 Yaris for Europe offers a choice of four powertrains, including a thoroughly reworked 3-cylinder 1.0 gasoline unit that is the first member of a new family of 14 highly efficient engines to be launched by 2015. With a thermal efficiency of 37%, the engine delivers a combined-cycle fuel consumption of 4.1 l/100 (57.4 mpg US), and CO2 emissions reduced to 95 g/km in conjunction with a stop/start system. (Mass-produced gasoline engines on average have a thermal efficiency of between 30 and 35%, Toyota said.)

The hybrid powertrain has also been revamped, with its CO2 emissions reduced still further to 75 g/km and corresponding combined-cycle consumption lowered to 3.3 l/100 (71.3 mpg US). A 4-cylinder, 1.33-liter gasoline engine and 1.4-liter diesel complete the range.

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Continental supplying first turbocharger with aluminum housing

July 15, 2014

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The water-cooled aluminum turbine housing. Click to enlarge.

Continental’s powertrain developers have launched series production of the first car turbocharger with an aluminum turbine housing. Integration of the unit in the three-cylinder, 1.5L 100 kW gasoline engine for the MINI Hatch (earlier post) has been ongoing since spring 2014.

Water-cooling enables the use of the lightweight material and thus enables a significant weight reduction by nearly 30% while simultaneously providing cost and system benefits.

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New Mercedes C-Class Estate offers new 1.6L diesel, diesel hybrid options; gasoline plug-in hybrid model coming

Mercedes-Benz is adding a new Estate (wagon) model to its C-Class family starting in September 2014. The powertrain range for the Estate, which includes diesel, gasoline and hybrid options, features a new 1.6-liter 4-cylinder diesel (OM 626) produced by Renault. Compared with the predecessor Estate, certain members of the line-up consume in excess of 20% less fuel.

Depending on its configuration, the single-stage turbocharged engine generates 85 or 100 kW (116 or 136 hp) of power from a displacement of 1598 cc and delivers 280 or 300 N·m (207 or 221 lb-ft) of rated torque. Fuel consumption for both variants is rated at 4.3 l/100 km (54.7 mpg US) NEDC.

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Cummins ETHOS 2.8L optimized E-85 engine demonstrates 50-80% reduction in CO2 emissions in medium-duty truck

July 14, 2014

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The ETHOS 2.8L demo truck. Click to enlarge.

Cummins has developed an E-85-specific engine and powertrain that reduce carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 80% compared with a baseline gasoline-powered medium-duty truck. The work was jointly funded by Cummins and partners ($3,790,027) in partnership with the California Energy Commission (CEC) ($2,712,140).

The Cummins ETHOS 2.8L is designed specifically to use E-85 (85% ethanol and 15% gasoline). To take full advantage of the favorable combustion attributes and potential of E-85, the engine operates at diesel-like cylinder pressures and incorporates advanced spark-ignition technology. It delivers the power (up to 250 hp / 186 kW) and peak torque (up to 450 lb-ft / 610 N·m) of gasoline and diesel engines nearly twice its 2.8-liter displacement.

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Alcoa unveils first aluminum alloy fan blade forging for jet engines; $1.1B supply agreement w/ Pratt & Whitney

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Click to enlarge.

Under a new 10-year, $1.1-billion agreement, Alcoa will supply key parts for Pratt & Whitney’s jet engines, including the forging for the first aluminum fan blade for jet engines. The forging was developed for Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower engines using an advanced aluminum alloy and a proprietary manufacturing process. Also for the PurePower engines, Alcoa is developing a fan blade forging using its most advanced aluminum-lithium alloy.

Under the $1.1 billion deal, Alcoa will supply components for Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower PW1000G, V2500, GP7000 and several other regional jet and military engines. The unique Geared Turbofan architecture of the PurePower engine allows for aluminum alloys to be used in the Pratt & Whitney designed fan blades, making the engine lighter, as well as more fuel and cost efficient.

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Jaguar shares details about new Ingenium family of efficient gasoline and diesel engines

July 10, 2014

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Ingenium engine. Click to enlarge.

Jaguar Land Rover has revealed some details about its new Ingenium family of efficient diesel and gasoline engines. The powerplants—designed, engineered and manufactured by Jaguar Land Rover—deliver class-leading levels of torque, horsepower and refinement while reducing emissions and fuel consumption.

Design goals for the new engine family included: configurable and flexible to enable seamless installation in a range of new Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles; scalable up and down to create smaller or larger displacement variants in the future; able to accommodate a range of powertrain layouts including rear-, all- and four-wheel drive; engineered to support manual and automatic transmissions as well as electrified hybrid drive systems; and easily accepting of new advances in engine technologies as they become available.

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Mercedes-Benz outlines synergies between F1 motorsport and production car engineering

Mercedes-Benz has outlined areas of actual synergies between its F1 motorsport activities with Mercedes AMG Petronas and Mercedes-Benz Cars. While there is definitely a technology transfer between race and road car engineering, said Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical) at Mercedes AMG Petronas, “it’s a more subtle process than bolting bits from one car onto another.

There are examples of direct transfer—such as the Nanoslide technology used to coat cylinder bore surfaces (earlier post)—and then there are examples of indirect transfer, such as F1 serving as a research laboratory for developing new solutions and showing the world what is possible, he noted.

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Opel reveals 5th generation Corsa; new 1.0L, 3-cylinder turbo

July 09, 2014

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5th generation Corsa Click to enlarge.

Opel revealed the new, fifth-generation of the Corsa, which will make its world premiere in October at the Paris Motor Show. The gen 5 Corsa will offer new, refined and efficient 1.0-liter three-cylinder turbo engines, smooth-shifting transmissions, a new suspension and optimized steering. The new Corsa will be in production in Zaragoza and Eisenach before the end of the year.

The highlight under the hood of the new so-called “Corsa E” of the fifth generation is the installation of Opel’s newly-developed three-cylinder, 1.0 ECOTEC Direct Injection Turbo, part of the brand’s major powertrain offensive. This is the only 1.0-liter three-cylinder production engine with a balance shaft, which enables it set a new class benchmark for exceptionally low noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) characteristics, as well as high driving comfort.

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EPA selects ANSYS for simulation software to develop advanced test engine

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Streamlines showing intake process for an SI engine in a FORTE simulation. Source: ANSYS. Click to enlarge.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has selected ANSYS simulation solutions to model in-cylinder combustion to develop an advanced test engine that will demonstrate fuel-saving and emissions-reducing technologies. The EPA’s test engine will help establish the feasibility of meeting recently issued fuel standards through improvements to combustion chamber geometries, fuel injection strategies, fuel composition, valve timing and intake conditions.

While physical prototyping and direct tests on real engine hardware can guide engine design, they are very costly and time-intensive. By using ANSYS FORTÉ, the EPA can experiment with engine design in a virtual setting. As a result, its engineers can quickly and inexpensively make multiple design iterations. ANSYS acquired FORTÉ as part of its acquisition of Reaction Design earlier this year. (Earlier post.)

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Lexus NX compact utility arrives in North America

July 07, 2014

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2015 Lexus NX 300h. Click to enlarge.

Lexus has introduced the new Lexus NX compact utility, first unveiled in Beijing (earlier post) to North America. The 2015 Lexus NX debuts in two versions, the NX 200t with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and the NX 300h hybrid with 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine, which brings the brand’s number of hybrid offerings to six—the most among luxury brands.

Among the features of the hybrid is a new transmission with a kick-down function. Further, the hybrid battery pack is split into two separate pods for better weight distribution, with the additional benefit of more efficient use of cabin space. Both NX models offer their own version of pro-active all-weather drive (AWD). The new Lexus NX features numerous other firsts in a Lexus, among them:

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Report finds progress in UK Low Carbon Emissions Bus uptake, but a need to review incentives

July 06, 2014

Despite the recent uptake of low carbon emission buses (LCEBs) in the UK, significant barriers remain to sustained market growth, and there are risks of current progress being disrupted, according to a new report prepared for the UK LowCVP by Transport & Travel Research Ltd, in partnership with TRL.

LCEBs are defined as vehicles producing at least 30% fewer lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than a current Euro-III-equivalent diesel bus of the same total passenger capacity. The well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions, expressed in grams of carbon dioxide equivalent measured over a standard test, take into account both the production of the fuel and its consumption.

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World premiere of new Volkswagen Passat; 8th generation brings plug-in hybrid option

July 04, 2014

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The new Volkswagen Passat. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen unveiled the eight-generation Passat (earlier post) at the Volkswagen Design Centre in Potsdam. The new Passat made its global debut with new engines, less weight and with the latest assistance, Infotainment and convenience systems. The new Passat delivers improved fuel efficiency (up to 20%); diesel and gasoline powertrains; up to 85 kg less weight, and a plug-in hybrid option. At 1.1 million units a year (2013) Passat is the Volkswagen Group’s model series with the highest volume sold world-wide.

The new Passat will be available with 10 direct injection turbocharged gasoline and diesel engines—all new to the model range—covering a power range from 88 kW / 120 PS (118 hp) to 206 kW / 280 PS (276 hp). The engines all meet Euro 6 emission standards and both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions were lowered by up to 20%. All versions are equipped with a stop-start system and a regenerative braking mode. A dual clutch gearbox (DSG) is available as an option for all engine versions, and it is standard with the top engine.

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Caterpillar and Argonne’s VERIFI undertake cooperative virtual engine design, control project; first VERIFI CRADA

July 03, 2014

Low-temperature combustion regimes show great efficiency and emissions potential, but they present optimization and control challenges that must be addressed before they enter the engine mainstream.

Caterpillar Inc. has entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with Argonne National Laboratory and its recently formed Virtual Engine Research Institute and Fuels Initiative (VERIFI), where experts are developing new engine combustion models that incorporate accurate descriptions of two-phase flows, chemistry, transport phenomena and device geometries to provide predictive simulations of engine and fuel performance.

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SwRI engineers win SAE award for paper on impact of octane and cooled EGR on engine performance and efficiency

A team of engineers from Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has received the prestigious SAE International Harry L. Horning Memorial Award for a 2012 technical paper (2012-01-1149) investigating different octane-rated gasolines and exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) levels.

Institute Engineer Dr. Charles Roberts, Assistant Director Dr. Terry Alger and Research Technologist Barrett Mangold, all of SwRI’s Engine, Emissions and Vehicle Research Division, received the award at the SAE World Congress in Detroit in April. Former SwRI employee Jess Gingrich is also a co-recipient.

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China iCET releases 2014 Green Car China report ranking mainstream cars by green and health impacts

July 01, 2014

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Only hybrids performed very well on both the green rating and the smog index. Source: iCET. Click to enlarge.

China’s Innovation Center for Energy and Transportation (iCET) recently released its 2014 Green Car China Annual Report, an evaluation of mainstream vehicles on sale in China by their lifecycle impacts and their health impacts.

Based on the lifecycle impact assessment, every vehicle obtains a green score (0-10). The higher the green score, the lower the environmental impact (i.e., the greener it is). After normalizing the health impacts of tailpipe emissions, every vehicle also obtains a smog index score (1-8). The lower the smog score, the more eco-friendly it is.

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Ford introduces new Focus ST with diesel and EcoBoost options

June 30, 2014

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The new Ford Focus ST (in the new dark gray paint option) is offering a choice of an EcoBoost or diesel engine. Click to enlarge.

The new Focus ST made its global debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK. The most advanced Focus ST yet offers new chassis control technologies, tuned suspension and steering, and a bespoke tire specification. For the first time, the Focus ST it will be offered with the choice of an EcoBoost gasoline or a new version of Ford’s 2.0L TDCi diesel engine. Ford has sold more than 140,000 Focus ST models in 40 countries worldwide since the car was first launched in 2002.

The diesel Focus ST is the most fuel‑efficient and lowest CO2 Ford performance car yet: the 185 PS (182 hp, 136 kW) 2.0‑liter TDCi achieves 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in 8.1 seconds, with fuel consumption of 4.4 l/100 km (53.5 mpg US), and 114 g/km CO2.

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Ram introduces Doblò-based 2015 Ram ProMaster City van

June 27, 2014

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2015 Ram ProMaster City. Click to enlarge.

Chrysler’s Ram brand introduced the 2015 Ram ProMaster City commercial van. The Ram ProMaster City is based on the Fiat Doblò, a two-time International Van of the Year winner with more than 1.3 million units sold. The new, smaller van joins the ProMaster and Ram Cargo vans, and is intended to provide incremental growth for Ram’s brand sales volumes.

The front-wheel drive 2015 Ram ProMaster City will be offered in two-seat cargo van and five-seat passenger wagon configurations and is powered by the 2.4-liter Tigershark I-4. The engine generates 178 hp (133 kW) at 6,400 rpm with peak torque of 174 lb-ft (236 N·m) at 3,900 rpm.

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Ford unveils 2015 Edge; new EcoBoosts for N. America, diesels for Europe

June 25, 2014

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2015 Edge. Click to enlarge.

Ford has revealed the all-new 2015 Edge. The newest version of its crossover sport utility vehicle will go on sale in North America early next year with an expanded range of smart technology. Sales in South America, Europe—to include Western Europe—and Asia Pacific will follow. Eventually, Edge will be sold in more than 100 markets worldwide.

Two new EcoBoost engines. The 2015 Edge, now based on the same global platform as the Ford Fusion, will feature three engine options in North America, two of which are new powerplants: a standard twin-scroll 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder and a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6. A normally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 engine will also be offered. All will be equipped with dual output exhaust and a six-speed automatic transmission. Edge represents the first Ford vehicle to feature standard EcoBoost power.

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Stop/start to be standard with V-6 in Jeep Cherokee and I-4 in 2015 Chrysler 200; up to 3% better fuel economy

June 24, 2014

Chrysler Group is offering fuel-saving Engine Stop-Start (ESS) technology as standard equipment on certain models of the award-winning 2015 Jeep Cherokee mid-size SUV and 2015 Chrysler 200 mid-size sedan.

Chrysler 200 customers who opt for the 2.4-liter Tigershark I-4, and Jeep Cherokee customers who choose the available 3.2-liter Pentastar V-6, will experience estimated fuel-economy improvements of up to 3%, compared with the conventional vehicle-engine pairings. ESS applications in the Chrysler 200 and Jeep Cherokee will also account for an estimated CO2 emissions-reduction of up to 3%.

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Cummins progressing with lightweight downsized T2B2 diesel for pickup; 40% improvement in fuel economy over gasoline V8

June 23, 2014

Cummins reports that it, along with partners Johnson Matthey and Nissan, is on plan in a 4-year, $30-million ($15 million from the US Department of Energy) research project to deliver a light-duty diesel engine with fuel economy 40% improved over that of baseline gasoline V8 engine for a half-ton pickup truck while also meeting the requirements of US Tier2 Bin2 tailpipe emissions. (Earlier post.)

At the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Annual Merit Review meeting in Washington, DC last week, Michael Ruth from Cummins noted that the DOE program target for the project is a fuel economy (CAFE) target of 26 mpg (9.05 l/100 km), and as such would not meet the GHG requirement of 28 mpg (8.4 l/100 km) for a vehicle of that size. However, he added, the internal goal is “significantly higher,” and is targeting the GHG limit.

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Ford moving to vehicle testing with advanced 2.3L MiGTDI engine research project; Tier 3 SULEV30 target with 25% fuel economy improvement

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The 2.3L MiGTDI engine. Source: Ford. Click to enlarge.

Ford is now three-fourths of the way into a 4-year, $30-million project (supported by $15 million from the US DOE) with Michigan Technological University (MTU) (earlier post) to demonstrate a 25% fuel economy improvement in a mid-sized sedan using a downsized, advanced gasoline turbocharged direct injection (GTDI) engine with no or limited degradation in vehicle level metrics, while demonstrating that the vehicle is capable of meeting Tier 3 Bin 30 (CA LEV III SULEV30) emissions on the FTP-75 cycle. (Earlier post.)

The original project target was Tier 2 Bin 2 emissions, but in August 2013, it was agreed to shift that to the Tier 3 target—essentially the same with combined NOxand NMOG emissions, but more strict with CO and PM.

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Hyundai introduces 2015 Sonata Eco with 1.6L Gamma turbo; 32 mpg combined

June 20, 2014

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2015 Sonata Eco. Click to enlarge.

Hyundai announced the third powertrain available in the 2015 Sonata: the Sonata Eco. The 2015 Sonata Eco is powered by a variant of the 1.6-liter turbocharged Gamma four-cylinder engine (earlier post)—already available in the Veloster—producing an estimated 177 horsepower (132 kW) and 195 lb-ft (264 N·m) of torque. Sonata Eco is the first Hyundai product to utilize a new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, which no other mid-size sedan offers.

The powertrain helps Sonata Eco deliver an estimated 28 mpg city (8.4 l/100 km) and 38 mpg (6.2 l/100 km) highway. The estimated 32 mpg (7.4 l/100 km) combined rating is segment-leading for a non-hybrid mid-size sedan and more than a 10% improvement over a 2015 Sonata SE powered by the 2.4-liter Theta II engine.

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Toyota implements Atkinson cycle in non-hybrid ESTEC engine; up to 38% thermal efficiency and improved fuel economy

   
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Performance of the new ESTEC engine (1NR-FKE) compared to the current 1NR-FE engine applied in the Yaris. Yamada et al. Click to enlarge.

Engineers at Toyota have developed an approach to applying the Atkinson cycle—used in the engines in Toyota hybrids since 1997—for engines in conventional, non-hybrid vehicles. The Atkinson cycle with a high compression ratio is a common approach that hybrid vehicle engines use to enhance thermal efficiency. However, the drawback of the high compression ratio is a reduction of engine torque; in a hybrid, the motor torque compensates for this reduction in engine torque. Thermal efficiency at low load areas is relatively more important with conventional engines than with hybrid engines and how to overcome these issues is significantly important with conventional engines, the Toyota developers observed.

The result of their work, presented in papers this spring at the SAE 2014 World Congress, the Vienna Motor Symposium, and the JSAE Annual Congress, is the new 1.3-liter ESTEC (Economy with Superior Thermal Efficient Combustion) in-line 4-cylinder Gasoline Engine (1NR-FKE). The ESTEC 1NR-FKE achieves 73 kW of output (3 kW higher than the 1NR-FE used in Toyota A and B segment vehicles such as Yaris, iQ, etc.) with thermal efficiency of up to 38%—equivalent to the engines in hybrids. Further, at low loads, the ESTEC engine improves fuel consumption by 11% in the JC08 mode.

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ABB: tests show up to 27% fuel savings on ship with Onboard DC Grid

June 16, 2014

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Dina Star with Onboard DC Grid. Click to enlarge.

ABB, the power and automation technology group, released third-party testing results showing that ABB’s Onboard DC Grid helps vessels reduce their fuel consumption, cut noise and trim their environmental impact. The measurements and tests, conducted by Pon Power in collaboration with ABB on Myklebusthaug Offshore’s platform supply vessel Dina Star, identified reduction of specific fuel oil consumption of up to 27%. (Earlier post.)

Dina Star is powered by four Caterpillar 3516 engines in combination with a C32 in a variable speed application. These are the first documented results from a vessel outfitted with ABB’s Onboard DC Grid, which allows engines to run at variable speeds for top fuel efficiency at each load level.

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Ohio State team wins EcoCAR2 competition with E85 series-parallel plug-in hybrid Malibu

June 13, 2014

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OSU’s series-parallel PHEV. Click to enlarge.

The US Department of Energy and General Motors Co. announced that the Ohio State University (OSU) team was the overall winner of the EcoCAR 2: Plugging In to the Future finals. The OSU team’s engineered 2013 Chevrolet Malibu featured a series-parallel plug-in hybrid drive with E85-fueled engine technology.

The OSU EcoCar2 Malibu featured an A123 18.9 kWh battery pack used with an 80 kW peak electric machine on the rear axle to provide power to the rear wheels through a single-speed gearbox. The vehicle’s front powertrain utilized a 1.8 L, high-compression-ratio engine recalibrated to run on E85 fuel and an 80 kW peak electric machine to provide power to the front wheels through a six-speed automated manual transmission. The vehicle is capable of operating in charge-depleting, charge-sustaining series and charge-sustaining parallel modes.

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Ford lowers fuel economy ratings for hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and Fiestas; goodwill payments to buyers coming

Ford Motor Company is lowering the fuel economy ratings for its 2013- and 2014-model year hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles, as well as most 2014-model year Fiestas. In some cases, the reduction was minor, on the order of 2-3%. The MKZ hybrid, however, was hit with a 15.6% reduction in combined fuel economy (45 mpg down to 38 mpg), and the C-MAX and Fusion plug-in hybrids saw about a 12% decrease in charge sustaining and charge depleting fuel economy, and about a 10% decrease in all-electric range.

Ford said it had identified an error with fuel economy ratings on the vehicles and notified the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Ford worked with EPA as the agency retested the vehicles to determine the correct fuel economy ratings. Ford reviewed its entire line up to determine the vehicles that required further testing and revised the fuel economy ratings for the affected vehicles. No other label adjustments are planned.

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2015 Mitsubishi Mirage w/ 3-cylinder engine the most fuel efficient non-hybrid gasoline car in US; up to 40 mpg combined

June 12, 2014

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2015 Mirage ES. Click to enlarge.

The 2015 Mitsubishi Mirage is currently the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid gasoline car in the US, with combined EPA rating of 40 mpg (5.88 l/100 km), consisting of 37 mpg (6.36 l/100 km) city and 44 mpg (5.35 l/100 km) highway, when equipped with the continuously-variable transmission (CVT) option. The 2015 Mirage is priced with a low starting MSRP of $12,995.

The Mirage is equipped with a 1.2-liter 3-cylinder DOHC engine that features the latest version of Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control (MIVEC) variable valve-timing system to maximize fuel efficiency and power output while minimizing exhaust emissions.

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Ducker: automotive aluminum content to hit explosive growth from 2015 to 2025; 50 years of uninterrupted growth “guaranteed”

June 10, 2014

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NA aluminum sheet demand for auto body and closure parts. Click to enlarge.

By 2025, more than 75% of all new pickup trucks produced in North America will be aluminum-bodied, according to a survey of automakers conducted by global consulting and research firm Ducker Worldwide and commissioned by The Aluminum Association’s Aluminum Transportation Group (ATG). The study surveyed all major automakers and forecasts that Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler will become the biggest users of aluminum sheet in the next decade.

It also forecasts that the number of vehicles with complete aluminum body structures will reach 18% of North American production, from less than 1% today. Vehicle segments revealed as emerging aluminum content leaders are pickup trucks, sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) and both mid-sized and full-size sedans.

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Upcoming Mazda2 will offer new SKYACTIV 1.5-liter diesel

The upcoming new Mazda2 (known as Demio in Japan) will feature the SKYACTIV-D 1.5, a newly developed 1.5-liter clean diesel engine making use of the company’s next-generation SKYACTIV technology. Mazda unveiled the 1.5-liter diesel unit in the Mazda Hazumi concept at the Geneva Motor Show in March. (Earlier post.)

Similarly to the next generation SKYACTIV-D 2.2 clean diesel engine available in models such as the Mazda CX-5, the SKYACTIV-D 1.5 was developed in the pursuit of ideal combustion despite a very low compression ratio. (Earlier post.) The engine offers dynamic performance, including torque equal to a 2.5-liter gasoline engine and linear acceleration all the way up the rpm range. It also features excellent environmental performance without resorting to expensive NOx aftertreatment systems.

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2015 Ford Transit offers fuel economy up to 46% better than old E-Series vans

June 06, 2014

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2015 Ford Transit offers up to 46% better fuel economy than the old E-Series. Click to enlarge.

The all-new 2015 Ford Transit delivers as much as 46% better fuel economy than Ford E-Series. Transit goes on sale for the first time at US and Canadian dealerships this summer, eventually replacing the E-Series—the best-selling van for 35 years, first sold in 1961 as Ford Econoline.

Transit comes standard with a 3.7-liter V6 engine, and customers also can choose from an available 3.5-liter EcoBoost or 3.2-liter Power Stroke diesel. When equipped with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine, 2015 Transit low- and medium-roof regular wheelbase wagons deliver a 14 mpg city/19 mpg highway EPA-estimated rating (16.8 and 12.4 l/100 km).

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Ford introduces Lightweight Concept vehicle to showcase ongoing light-weighting and advanced materials work; nearly 25% weight reduction

June 04, 2014

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Ford Lightweight Concept. Click to enlarge.

Ford Motor Company unveiled its Lightweight Concept vehicle, which uses advanced materials to explore future weight-reduction solutions that could improve performance and fuel efficiency while reducing CO2 emissions. The Ford Lightweight Concept reduces the weight of a 2013 Fusion to that of a Ford Fiesta, resulting in a nearly 25% weight reduction.

The vehicle represents the latest phase of Ford’s research into developing sustainable technology solutions that are affordable for consumers and can be produced in large volumes across the product lineup. This research has also led to the significant weight reduction of up to 700 pounds (318 kg) in the all-new F-150 through the use of high-strength steel and aluminum. (Earlier post.)

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Ford and Samsung outline R&D efforts for next-generation non-hybrid battery technology; dual-battery systems and lightweight Li-ion

In an event in San Francisco, Ford Motor Company and Samsung SDI, an affiliate of Samsung Group, outlined several collaborative research efforts on next-generation battery technology for non-hybrid vehicles. For the near term, they have been working on a dual-battery combining a lithium-ion battery with a 12-volt lead-acid battery that could enable regenerative braking technology in non-hybrid vehicles for greater fuel savings. Ford suggested the dual battery system might go into production soon.

Ford and Samsung SDI said they are also are researching a longer-term (e.g., about 10 years) ultra-lightweight lithium-ion battery that could one day supplant lead-acid batteries. The research advances lithium-ion battery technology currently available on Ford’s electrified vehicles.

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New VW Golf Sportwagen going on sale in 2015 in US with gasoline and diesel powertrains; improved power and fuel economy

June 03, 2014

Volkswagen’s new Golf SportWagen that goes on sale in the first quarter 2015 in the US is based on the MQB (modular transverse matrix) architecture, as is the 2015 Golf and Golf GTI. The new SportWagen—a more fuel-efficient replacement for the Jetta Sportwagen—will continue the trend introduced by the seventh-generation Golf: lighter, bigger, roomier, more fuel efficient and more powerful than the outgoing model. Volkswagen is positioning it as a sportier alternative to compact SUVs.

The new SportWagen will be offered with two powertrains, one gasoline, one diesel. The first is a 170 hp (127 kW), 1.8-liter turbocharged direct-injection four-cylinder TSI engine, mated to a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmissions. Volkswagen estimates highway fuel economy to have improved by as much as 17% compared to the 2.5-liter Jetta SportWagen.

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Environment Canada/MECA team assesses black carbon emissions in GDI engine exhaust; evaluation of prototype gasoline particulate filter

June 02, 2014

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BC mass emissions for all four GDI and PFI vehicles over the three different driving patterns. Solid bars represent low ambient temperature measurements whereas open, dashed bars represent standard temperature measurements. Credit: ACS, Chan et al. Click to enlarge.

Although gasoline direct injection engines (GDI) are a favorable technology for reducing fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, recent studies have shown that GDI vehicles could emit more PM than traditional PFI (gasoline port fuel injection) vehicles as well as heavy-duty diesel trucks equipped with diesel particulate filters. This may result in the need for new emissions control strategies—such as a gasoline particulate filter (GPF)—to enable compliance with California LEV III and US EPA Tier 3 particulate emissions standards.

Now, a team from Environment Canada and Manufacturers of Emission Controls Association (MECA) report on an evaluation of emissions from two pairs of GDI and PFI (gasoline port fuel injection) vehicles over two different drive cycles and at different ambient temperatures to understand how solid particle number and BC mass relationships vary under the influence of different factors. Their paper appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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Renault introducing new steel piston in mass-production 1.5L diesel; 2% fuel savings

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Brake specific fuel consumption (BSFC) advantages of the steel piston over aluminum on an NEDC cycle. Hollemaert et al. Click to enlarge.

Renault is introducing a new steel piston on a mass-production 1.5-liter diesel engine for a passenger car, according to a paper presented at the recent SIA Powertrain Rouen 2014 conference. Based on extensive testing, Renault engineers concluded that the new pistons will deliver a fuel savings of some 2%.

Renault’s technical center in Rueil-Malmaison, France led the development of the piston, in cooperation with Renault partner’s and supplier. The new piston features an improved design to minimize weight, low-friction coatings, and a low-tension ring package.

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7th-generation Golf GTI on sale in US; lighter and more fuel-efficient

May 30, 2014

Volkswagen of America, Inc. announced the official arrival of the new 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI in US. The MQB-based seventh-generation of the original “hot hatch” (first introduced in the US in 1983) preserves the performance and handling style of its forebears, while being bigger—but lighter—and more powerful—but more fuel efficient—than its immediate Mk 6 predecessor.

The new GTI is also Volkswagen’s introduction of the MQB (modular transverse matrix) vehicle platform to the North American market—a significant step in standardizing, simplifying, and improving the design and creation of products across the entire Volkswagen Group portfolio. The use of the MQB also more easily supports the deployment of alternative powertrain architectures, as seen in the plug-in hybrid Golf GTE. (Earlier post.)

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UCS analysis finds Hyundai-Kia with best sales-weighted new vehicle environmental performance in US in 2013

May 27, 2014

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Click to enlarge.

In its sixth sales-weighted analysis of emissions from 8 major automakers’ 2013 model year vehicles, the Union of Concerned Scientists’ (UCS) latest Automaker Rankings report found that Hyundai-Kia unseated Honda as the “Greenest Automaker.” Honda came in second, with Toyota, Nissan, and Volkswagen in a three-way tie for third place.

For the first time since UCS began the Automaker Rankings report in 2000, all eight major automakers reduced their average greenhouse gas (GHG) and smog-forming emissions compared to their fleet averages from 1998, the model year examined in the first report. The Automaker Rankings report examines the emissions of both global warming and smog-forming pollution from of the automakers. Due to strong federal and state emissions standards, the average new car has gotten 43% cleaner since 1998.

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Chevrolet makes Stop/Start standard on base 4-cylinder in 2015 Impala; 5% improvement in city fuel economy

May 22, 2014

Stop/start technology will be standard on the 2015 Impala base 2.5-liter ECOTEC engine, an addition that improves the vehicle’s city fuel economy by nearly 5%, or one mile per gallon. The Impala comes standard with a four-cylinder engine, which currently accounts for more than 30% of Impala retail sales.

For the 2015 model year, the Impala will be available with two powertrains, a standard 2.5L engine with stop/start, and a premium 3.6L six-cylinder engine. The Impala with the 3.6L V-6 engine will not include stop/start technology.

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EC sets out strategy to cut CO2 emissions from heavy-duty vehicles; short-term focus on measurement and reporting

May 21, 2014

Heavy-duty trucks, buses and coaches would use less fuel and emit lower amounts of carbon dioxide under a strategy adopted by the European Commission. Such heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) are responsible for around a quarter of CO2 emissions from road transport in the EU. Without action, HDV emissions in 2030-2050 are projected to remain close to current levels.

While light-duty CO2 emissions are already being addressed by recent EU legislation, the new “Strategy for reducing Heavy-Duty Vehicles’ fuel consumption and CO2 emissions” marks the European attempt to address emissions from HDVs. The strategy focuses on short-term action to certify, report and monitor HDV emissions as an essential first step towards curbing emissions. The strategy is addressed to the European Parliament and the Council, which are invited to endorse it and help deliver the actions outlined.

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Toyota and Denso develop SiC power semiconductor for power control units; targeting 10% improvement in hybrid fuel efficiency

May 20, 2014

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Toyota intends to leverage the benefits of high frequency and high efficiency of SiC power semiconductors to enable PCU downsizing of 80%. Click to enlarge.

Toyota Motor Corporation, in collaboration with Denso Corporation (Denso) and Toyota Central R&D Labs., Inc. (Toyota CRDL), has developed a silicon carbide (SiC) power semiconductor for use in automotive power control units (PCUs). Toyota will begin test driving vehicles fitted with the new PCUs on public roads in Japan within a year.

Compared to silicon, SiC power semiconductors lose 1/10 the power and drive frequency can be increased by a factor of ten. This enables the coil and capacitor, which account for approximately 40% of the size of the PCU, to be reduced in size. Through use of SiC power semiconductors, Toyota aims to improve hybrid vehicle (HV) fuel efficiency by 10% under the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism’s (MLIT) JC08 test cycle and reduce PCU size by 80% compared to current PCUs with silicon-only power semiconductors.

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Ford researchers: global light-duty CO2 regulatory targets broadly consistent with 450 ppm stabilization

May 15, 2014

An analysis by researchers at Ford Motor Company Research and Advanced Engineering in Dearborn and Ford Forschungszentrum in Germany concludes that existing global light-duty vehicle CO2 regulations through 2025 are broadly consistent with the light-duty vehicle (LDV) sector contributing to stabilizing CO2 at an atmospheric concentration of approximately 450 ppm—a target often proposed in the literature as preventing dangerous climate change. Their paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

In the study, the Ford team derived regional CO2 targets for new LDVs while still providing an integrated view of the global LDV fleet—a perspective critical to the planning needs for global automotive firms. The teams calls the time-varying LDV targets “CO2 glide paths”.

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SwRI forms Advanced Combustion Catalyst and Aftertreatment Technologies consortium

May 14, 2014

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has formed the Advanced Combustion Catalyst and Aftertreatment Technologies (AC2AT) consortium. The four-year joint-industry consortium, scheduled to kick off 27 June 2014, will be open to engine and vehicle manufacturers and affiliated businesses in the automotive industry, including catalyst formulators, substrate and component manufacturers, and emission control system integrators.

The focus of the program will be to develop the tools and technologies necessary for the synergistic application of catalysts to advanced engine technologies. Annual membership will be $95,000. SwRI will pursue patents for technology developed by the AC2AT program, and participants will receive a royalty-free license to use AC2AT-developed technology.

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EIA: China promoting both fuel efficiency and alternative-fuel vehicles to curb growing oil use

May 13, 2014

Consumption of gasoline in China grew from 0.9 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2003 to more than 2 million bbl/d in 2013, according to figures from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). This continues a trend of significant growth in China’s transportation sector since the 1990s.

Increasing oil demand is requiring increasing imports; since 2009, China has been importing more than half of its petroleum needs. To counter this trend triggered by China’s rapid motorization, the Chinese government is adopting a broad range of policies, including improvements in the fuel economy of new vehicles and the promotion of alternative-fuel vehicles, EIA notes.

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CAM/PwC name Volkswagen Group most innovative global automotive company, Mercedes-Benz most innovative brand

May 12, 2014

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Top spot went to Volkswagen Group, followed by Daimler, BMW, GM and Toyota. Source: CAM. Click to enlarge.

The Germany-based Center of Automotive Management (CAM), in cooperation with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) AG WPG, named the Volkswagen Group the world’s most innovative automotive company in its 2014 AutomotiveINNOVATIONS Awards; this marks the fourth consecutive time Volkswagen Group has picked up the top award. The Volkswagen Group also received awards in the “Conventional drives”, “Alternative drives” and “Networked vehicle” categories. Daimler followed in second place, then BMW Group, GM and Toyota.

CAM also selected Mercedes-Benz as the most innovative brand; BMW came in second, followed by Volkswagen, Audi and Ford.

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BMW and SGL to triple production capacity at Moses Lake carbon fiber plant with $200M expansion; world’s largest carbon fiber plant

May 09, 2014

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A production line for carbon fiber takes the PAN precursor through two stages (stabilization/oxidation and carbonization) and then to winding. Source: SGLACF. Click to enlarge.

Due to the high demand for carbon fiber in automotive production, SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers, a joint venture between the BMW Group and the SGL Group, will triple the capacity of the carbon fiber plant in Moses Lake, Washington. SGL and BMW made the announcement at the groundbreaking ceremony for the planned site expansion. The expansion will be funded by an investment of US$200 million, on top of the previously invested US$100 million.

The site expansion, scheduled to be completed by early 2015, will make the plant in Moses Lake the world’s largest carbon fiber plant. At present, the Moses Lake plant operates two production lines, exclusively for BMW i, with an annual output of approx. 3,000 tons of carbon fiber. The expansion of the site in Moses Lake will make it possible for the BMW Group to apply carbon fiber material also in other model series in the future, at competitive costs and in large quantities.

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Caterpillar investigating 6-stroke engine cycle as low-emission solution

May 05, 2014

Caterpillar engineers have been exploring a novel 6-stroke compression ignition engine cycle in search of a low-emission system that retains fuel efficiency. In a paper presented at the SAE 2014 World Congress, they reported on their investigations of the 6-stroke cycle for near-stoichiometric and lean operation.

The primary difference between the conventional 4-stroke and Caterpillar 6-stroke cycle is the addition of a second compression and combustion stroke immediately following the primary combustion event. The fourth stroke omits the conventional exhaust event in order to recompress the combustion gases. This approach differs from the traditional 6-stroke approach in which water is injected into the cylinder after recompression to extract additional expansion work from the hot combustion products, the team noted.

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A pathway to gasoline compressed ignition using naphtha fuels; higher efficiency, lower cost

May 02, 2014

A new study by Dr. Gautam Kalghatgi and his colleagues at Saudi Aramco provides further support a pathway for significant improvements in the efficiency of a gasoline engine (i.e., spark ignited, SI) by running it in compression ignition mode with naphtha fuels. (Earlier post.) This latest work, presented at SAE 2014 World Congress, shows that moving to higher compression ratios (CR) and lower fuel cetane numbers (DCN) from an SI base engine offers a better trade-off than increasing DCN with a lower CR. In other words, using only cetane to improve CI fuel consumption is less beneficial than relying on a low cetane fuel and higher compression ratio.

Past work done by Kalghatgi and his team, as well as by Prof. Bengt Johansson at Lund University and others, has demonstrated that using low-octane gasoline in diesel engines has the potential to achieve very high efficiency while reducing the cost of diesel engines by lowering injection pressures and requiring less expensive exhaust aftertreatment. Broadly, this approach is termed Gasoline Compression Ignition (GCI).

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UK APC selects four powertrain projects for $51M in funding; contributing to next-gen Ford EcoBoost

April 30, 2014

UK Business Secretary Vince Cable recently announced the first four automotive technology projects to be funded by the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) (earlier post) with grants totaling £30.3 million (US$51 million); the projects that will help develop next-generation engines (including the Ford EcoBoost) and see Formula 1 technology applied in buses and excavators.

The jointly funded government and industry APC will invest around £1 billion (US$1.7 billion) over the next 10 years to develop, commercialize and manufacture greener and more efficient technologies for engines of vehicles of the future. The four projects are the winners of an up to £75 million competition that the Technology Strategy Board launched in partnership with the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) and the Automotive Council in December 2013.

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ICCT: US domestic airlines show modest improvement in fuel efficiency since 2010, top performers Alaska and Spirit widen lead

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Fuel efficiency scores (FES) of the 13 largest US airlines on domestic operations in 2012. An FES of 1.00 corresponds to average in-use fuel efficiency in 2012; values above or below represent airlines that performed better or worse, respectively. 2010 industry average is also shown. ICCT. Click to enlarge.

The overall fuel efficiency of US airlines on domestic operations improved by 2.3% from 2010 to 2012, less than what is needed to meet US greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals, according to an analysis released today by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT).

Alaska Airlines had the most efficient US domestic operations in both 2011 and 2012, the same position it occupied in a 2010 benchmark assessment published by the ICCT last year. (Earlier post.) Spirit Airlines ranked a close second all three years. Alaska and Spirit have widened their lead over other airlines since 2010, the study found, by deploying advanced aircraft and other technologies as well as through more efficient operations practices.

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CFA analysis shows more than 50% of current year LD models in US get more than 23 mpg

April 29, 2014

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Change in market share for different vehicle categories. Source: CFA. Click to enlarge.

For the first time, more than 50% of the current year’s light-duty (LD) vehicles in the US get more than 23 mpg (10.2 l/100 km), according to an analysis by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA). CFA selected 23 mpg as a benchmark for this analysis because it is the EPA fuel economy label equivalent to the 30.6 mpg (7.7 l/100 km) overall corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) requirement for 2014. Five years ago, only 19% of models got 23 mpg.

CFA categorized 1,099 2014 passenger vehicle models into 10 different fuel economy rating categories. 11.6% of the models deliver more than 30 mpg (7.8 l/100 km), up from 1.6% five years ago. For the first time, there are no 2014 models getting below 13 mpg (18.1 mpg US).

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Honda progressing with high-efficiency low-emission Homogeneous Lean Charge Spark Ignition (HLSI) combustion work

April 28, 2014

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Honda’s engine technology roadmap and the key role of HLSI, as presented at the 2013 Aachen Colloquium by Toshihiro Mibe, Managing Officer, Honda R&D Co., Ltd. Automobile R&D Center. Click to enlarge.

Honda is developing a Homogeneous Lean Charge Spark Ignition (HLSI) combustion engine as one of the key elements in its technology roadmap for a higher thermal efficiency gasoline engine. Honda reported on its basic approach in a 2013 SAE paper; Takashi Kondo of Honda R&D then presented results to date at the recent SAE 2014 High Efficiency IC Engine Symposium.

Lean burn engines using a stratified air-fuel configuration with a comparatively rich mixture in the vicinity of the spark plugs can deliver stable combustion of an overall lean mixture. Lean burn engines can deliver a higher theoretical thermal efficiency, and their higher air/fuel (A/F) ration leads to low pumping losses. However, because a comparatively rich mixture is burned during the first half of combustion, engine-out NOx emissions are not reduced sufficiently, and the emissions reduction provided by the three-way catalyst (TWC) is insufficient, Kondo noted.

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EPA Report: data show automakers on track in meeting Greenhouse Gas Standards after first year

April 26, 2014

On Friday, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a Manufacturers Performance Report that assesses the automobile industry’s progress toward meeting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for cars and light trucks in the 2012 model year—the first year of the 14-year program.

The report shows that automakers’ combined calculated overall GHG performance was, on average, 286 grams of GHG/mile, 9.8 grams of GHG/mile better than what the 2012 standards of 296 grams/mile required. This industry-wide over-compliance means that consumers bought vehicles with lower greenhouse gas emissions than the 2012 model year standards required. Because of the program’s multi-year structure, EPA will not make formal compliance determinations for the 2012 model year until 2015.

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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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