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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.]

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

April 20, 2014

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2015 Lexus NX 300h. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

April 18, 2014

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

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

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

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

April 17, 2014

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2015 Outback. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 16, 2014

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2015 Sonata 2.0T Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

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Chevrolet Trax. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

April 15, 2014

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

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

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

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

April 14, 2014

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2015 Jetta. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

April 11, 2014

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Golf Sportwagen. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

April 10, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 09, 2014

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

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

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

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

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2015 Focus four-door sedan. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

April 08, 2014

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

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

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

April 07, 2014

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

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

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

April 04, 2014

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Magnesium alloy VSC machine. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

April 03, 2014

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

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

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

April 02, 2014

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

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

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

March 31, 2014

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

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

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

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Kenworth and Peterbilt introduce more fuel-efficient Class 8 trucks

March 27, 2014

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Kenworth T680 Advantage. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

March 19, 2014

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

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

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

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

March 18, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 17, 2014

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

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

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

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

March 14, 2014

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

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

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

March 11, 2014

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

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

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

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

March 06, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 05, 2014

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New AYGO. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

March 04, 2014

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2015 Jeep Renegade. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

March 03, 2014

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3rd generation Audi TT. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

February 27, 2014

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

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

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

February 26, 2014

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Compact EGR valve. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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