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Fuel Efficiency

[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

New Opel Astra up to 441 lbs lighter than predecessor

August 27, 2015

The new Opel Astra, which makes its debut in several weeks at the IAA in Frankfurt, will be up to 200 kg (441 lbs) lighter than its predecessor (120 kg / 265 lbs at a minimum). The next generation of the compact bestseller is based on an all-new lightweight architecture, with a slimmer body and all-aluminum engines.

The Monza Concept presented at the 2013 IAA (earlier post) was the role model for Opel’s eleventh compact class generation. The new Astra features a slimmed down vehicle architecture: the bodyshell (body-in-white) and structure alone are more than 20 percent lighter, down from 357 to 280 kilograms (787 to 617 lbs). Another 50 kilograms (110 lbs) were saved in the design of chassis components: high-strength and ultra-high-strength lightweight steels, more compact subframes as well as modification to the front and rear suspensions all contributed to this end result.

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Renault Trucks and partners launch EDIT project to cut distribution vehicles’ fuel consumption by 13%

After Optifuel Lab 2 (earlier post), the laboratory vehicle which brought together technological innovations designed to reduce long-distance trucks’ fuel consumption, Renault Trucks is extending its research to distribution vehicles.

Renault Trucks and six partners—Valeo, Lamberet, Michelin, BeNomad, INSA de Lyon (LamCoS) and IFSTTAR (LICIT)—have launched the EDIT (Efficient Distribution Truck) project, which aims to reduce distribution vehicles’ fuel consumption by 13% compared with a current production vehicle.

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FEV working on water injection system using exhaust condensate; fuel consumption improvements up to 16% possible

August 26, 2015

FEV is developing a water injection system for internal combustion engines using condensate from exhaust gases, the “Extended Direct Condensate Injection” system. The concept, as reported in a new paper in the International Journal of Engine Research , demonstrates a potential for efficiency increase of 3.3% – 3.8% in the region of the minimum specific fuel consumption on a stoichiometric combustion concept with Miller cycle and cooled external exhaust gas recirculation.

Further improvement of the efficiency of up to 16% is possible at full-load operation, the researchers said. If water injection is used in addition to homogeneous lean combustion, an efficiency gain of 4.5% in the region of the minimum specific fuel consumption is achieved.

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Team from GM, Ford, FCA reviews how to calculate engine efficiency benefits of high octane fuels

August 25, 2015

A team of engineers from GM Powertrain, Ford and FCA have published a detailed review of how to estimate the engine efficiency benefits of higher octane fuel—e.g., fuel with higher ethanol content—for part- and full-load operation for different engine types and fuel assumptions. Their paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Engine compression ratio plays a fundamental role in engine efficiency; a higher compression ratio improves efficiency, but also causes higher temperatures and pressures of the unburned air-fuel mixture which can lead to knock at high loads. Compression ratio is thus limited to avoid knock. The compression ratio selected for a particular engine depends, the authors note, on the expected duty cycle and fuel octane. A higher compression ratio can be used if an engine will operate primarily at light loads, such that degraded efficiency at high loads is more than offset by improved efficiency at light loads.

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CMU analysis finds BEVs powered with natural gas-based electricity have about 40% of the lifecycle GHGs of a conventional gasoline vehicle

August 21, 2015

According to a new lifecycle analysis by a team at Carnegie Mellon University, a battery electric vehicle (BEV) powered with natural gas-based electricity achieves around an average 40% lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction when compared to a conventional gasoline vehicle. Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), either with a 30- or 60-km range, when powered by natural gas electricity, have the second lowest average emissions. Both BEVs and PHEVs provide large (more than 20%) emissions reductions compared to conventional gasoline, but none of them is a dominant strategy when compared to gasoline hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), the team found.

Gaseous hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles have comparable life cycle emissions with conventional gasoline, offering limited reductions with 100-year global warming potential (GWP) yet leading to increases with 20-year GWP. Other liquid fuel pathways using natural gas—methanol, ethanol, and Fischer–Tropsch liquids—have larger GHG emissions than conventional gasoline even when carbon capture and storage technologies are available. The study is published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.

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New UMTRI report on US vehicle fuel economy from 1923-2013 suggests need to focus on improving lower tails in each vehicle class

August 17, 2015

In a new report, researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) have calculated the actual, on-road fuel economy for the entire fleet of all vehicles in the US, and for different classes of vehicles, with primary interest in light-duty vehicles (cars, pickup trucks, vans, and SUVs), between 1923 and 2013.

The main findings from the analysis are that fuel economy decreased from 14.0 mpg (16.8 l/100 km) in 1923 to 11.9 mpg (19.6 l/100 km) in 1973. Starting in 1974, fuel economy increased rapidly to 16.9 mpg (13.9 l/100 km) in 1991. Thereafter, improvements have been small, with fuel economy in 2013 at 17.6 mpg (13.4 mpg US). Overall, the results suggest, the authors conclude, that efforts on improving fuel economy should focus on the lower tails of the distributions of fuel economy in each vehicle class.

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BMW introduces Concept M4 GTS at Pebble Beach; water injection

August 14, 2015

BMW M GmbH unveiled the BMW Concept M4 GTS at the Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance in Monterey, California. Details on a production version will be revealed at a later date. The BMW Concept M4 GTS is the first M3/M4 special production vehicle to be sold in the US.

The BMW Concept M4 GTS showcases new technologies which will debut in production vehicles later this year. Among them, the BMW Concept M4 GTS features the innovative water injection system (earlier post) that has already provided a significant output and torque boost in the BMW M4 MotoGP Safety Car. In addition, the BMW Concept M4 GTS has rear lights with OLED (organic light-emitting diode) technology for an unmistakable appearance.

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Jeep Cherokee in Europe gains new 2.2L MultiJet II diesel

August 12, 2015

The Jeep Cherokee in Europe is adding a new 2.2-liter MultiJet II diesel engine, available with 185 hp (138 kW) and 200 hp (149 kW) outputs, and offering a significantly wider spread of torque from low rpm, greater power, improved performance and better fuel economy than the out-going two-liter 170 hp automatic engine. The new 2.2-liter Euro 6 compliant engine, appearing on an FCA model for the first time, joins the current 2.0L diesel 140 hp manual version in the Cherokee line-up.

Both power variants are available deliver 440 N·m (325 lb-ft) of peak torque. The 200 hp variant is available on Limited specification while the 185 hp is fitted on Cherokee Longitude and Longitude+ variants only. The engines are available only with Jeep’s segment-first nine-speed automatic gearbox, and are matched to the Active-Drive four-wheel-drive systems.

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Tsinghua studies on alcohol-gasoline dual fuel engines show fuel efficiency and particle number benefits

August 10, 2015

Researchers at Tsinghua University in China are studying the effects of Dual-Fuel Spark Ignition (DFSI) combustion fueled with different alcohols and gasoline. In one paper, published in the journal Fuel, they investigated the use of alcohols–gasoline DFSI Combustion for knock suppression and high fuel efficiency using a gasoline engine with high compression ratio.

In a second paper, also published in Fuel, they systematically compared the stoichiometric alcohol–gasoline and gasoline–alcohol DFSI combustion for engine particle number (PN) reduction (and fuel economy improvement), also using a high compression ratio gasoline engine.

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Ford wins 3rd annual Altair Enlighten Award for lightweighting of F-150

August 07, 2015

Ford Motor Company was the winner of the 3rd annual Altair Enlighten Award for its use of various lightweight materials to minimize weight of the 2015 Ford F-150. The Enlighten Award is the automotive industry’s first award program created specifically to acknowledge innovation in vehicle weight reduction.

Ford’s entry, one of 17 nominations that competed for the award, was selected as the winner for taking 700 pounds (318 kg) off of the Ford F-150 while improving its performance, safety, and efficiency. (Earlier post.) Ford engineers took a holistic approach to weight reduction by incorporating advanced materials into the entire design of the vehicle, including the frame, body, powertrain, battery and interior features such as the seats. The weight savings help the truck tow more, haul more, accelerate quicker and stop shorter, and it contributes to fuel efficiency.

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VW bringing EA211 1.4L turbo direct-injection engine to Jetta range in US

August 04, 2015

Volkswagen is introducing the 1.4-liter EA211 four-cylinder turbocharged and direct-injection TSI engine into the Jetta range, replacing the previous naturally aspirated 2.0-liter engine that was used in the S model and the 1.8T TSI engine in the SE model. This brings implementation of intelligent downsizing to more than 97% of vehicles sold by Volkswagen in the US, available across all the models on sale.

The engine will be mated to either a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission: manufacturer estimated fuel economy on the highway is predicted to be 39 mpg with the six-speed automatic transmission, an improvement of 13% over the EPA estimated highway fuel economy for the previous 2.0-liter engine and 7% over the 1.8T.

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2016 Chevrolet Volt EPA-rated at 53 miles all-electric range

The Chevrolet Volt’s all-new second-generation Voltec extended-range electric propulsion system (earlier post) delivers 53 miles (85 km) of all-electric range, based on EPA testing. That is nearly a 40% improvement over the first-generation Volt, and a 6% boost over the projected 50-mile (80 km) AER estimated at the new Volt’s unveiling in January. (Earlier post.)

Chevrolet expects many next-generation Volt owners will use power solely from their batteries for more than 90% of trips. Today, Volt owners use battery power on 80% of their trips, according to GM. The additional range would enable the average Volt owner to travel well over 1,000 miles (1,609 km) (in multiple trips) between gas fill ups, if they charge regularly.

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Researchers find HEV under real-world conditions delivers significantly greater fuel economy benefits than EPA “sticker” values

August 03, 2015

In a new study reported in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, a team at the University of Vermont found that when including real-world road grade and ambient conditions compared to controlled laboratory tests, fuel consumption benefits for a hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) under study increased by 18% highway and 33% city compared to estimates based on EPA adjusted fuel economy “sticker” values. (The vehicles under study were a conventional and hybrid Camry).

In other words, they found that they real-world fuel economy benefit of adoption of HEVs may be better than for estimates based on EPA “sticker” fuel economy alone. The duo, Britt A. Holmén and Karen M. Sentoff, suggested that based on these results, more positive forecasts for future petroleum and corresponding CO2 emissions savings from increased hybridization of the passenger vehicle fleet may be warranted.

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Aeristech launches new 48V electric supercharger

July 31, 2015

UK-based Aeristech has introduced a new 48V electric supercharger capable of continuous operation at high boost levels. Independently validated by Ricardo and MAHLE Powertrain UK, the technology provides greater efficiency and easier packaging than a mechanical supercharger or a two-stage turbocharger.

Aeristech said it overcame the thermal management issues that can restrict other electric boosting devices currently available on the market to only transient operation by using permanent magnet motor technology in place of the more usual switched reluctance type. This has been made cost-effective by developing a patented control and switching technology that enables the use of many cost-competitive components.

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Delphi invests in Tula; Dynamic Skip Fire cylinder deactivation

July 30, 2015

Delphi has made a minority investment in Tula Technology, the developer of Dynamic Skip Fire cylinder deactivation technology. (Earlier post.) The software-enabled powertrain technology integrates advanced digital signal processing with advanced powertrain controls to create a variable displacement engine.

DSF allows the engine’s cylinders to fire or skip (deactivate) on a continuously variable basis. In independent tests, DSF has improved fuel efficiency by up to 17% as measured on a CAFE basis when compared to a vehicle (V8 engine) that does not have cylinder deactivation. GM Ventures made an equity investment in Tula in 2012.

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Chevrolet introduces Colorado Duramax Diesel midsize pickup

July 28, 2015

Chevrolet has introduced the diesel version (earlier post) of its 2016 Colorado midsize pickup truck. (Colorado is the 2015 Motor Trend Truck of the Year and Cars.com’s Best Pickup Truck of 2015.) With 369 lb-ft of torque (500 N·m) generated by the all-new 2.8L Duramax turbo-diesel, the Colorado’s maximum trailering capacity rises to 7,700 pounds (3,492 kg) on 2WD models, with estimated fuel economy projected by GM to top the already segment-leading efficiency of the gas models (27 mpg (8.7 l/100 km) highway with 2.5L gasoline engine and automatic transmission).

It is also the cleanest diesel truck engine ever produced by General Motors. The new Colorado diesel goes on sales this fall, offered in LT and Z71 Crew Cab models, with 2WD or 4WD. It is priced $3,730 more than a comparably equipped 3.6L V-6 model.

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BMW brings Enlighten real-time signals app into car

July 27, 2015

The BMW Group is the first manufacturer to bring the EnLighten App, by Connected Signals, into the car. Drivers of BMW Vehicles with iOS Devices will be able to see traffic signal data on the vehicle’s display in real time. The EnLighten app makes driving in cities easier by helping the driver anticipate traffic signal changes, which can increase safety and help save fuel by avoiding unnecessary acceleration.

The EnLighten app shows the current status of the traffic light in front of the car in real time as well as a countdown to when the signal will change. Based on the current vehicle position, as well as its speed, the EnLighten app offers a recommendation about whether or not to stop for the traffic light or proceed through. An audio alert notifies the driver about a pending change in the signal they are approaching.

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International Truck invites Class 8 competitors to open event for head-to-head testing on fuel economy, aerodynamics and drivability

July 24, 2015

International Truck (Navistar’s flagship vehicle brand) has invited each of its Class 8 competitors to participate in an open performance testing to compare fuel economy and drivability of their new trucks during the week of 31 August at the Navistar Proving Grounds in New Carlisle, Indiana. Competitors will have the opportunity to bring their two best performing vehicles with regards to fuel economy and drivability.

The vehicle specifications for the test include: Class 8, on-highway sleeper; model year 2016, calendar year 2015 builds; include only factory installed options (hardware, software, and fluids), and currently meet compliance and are capable of delivery to all customer applications; and must fall within total mileage range of 2,500 – 15,000 miles (4,000 - 24,000 km) to maintain consistent break-in levels.

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Next-generation LNG carrier concept about 8% more energy efficient, with 5% more cargo

July 23, 2015

DNV GL announced the completion of the LNGreen joint industry project, which worked to develop a state-of-the-art next-generation LNG carrier. (Earlier post.) The LNGreen joint industry project brought together experts from DNV GL and industry specialists from GTT (cryogenic membrane containment systems for LNG); shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries; and shipowner GasLog.

Each of the project partners contributed their know-how and experience, to develop a next-generation LNG carrier using the latest technology, within the bounds of existing shipbuilding methods. The vessel concept has a significantly improved environmental footprint; a higher level of energy efficiency (up to 8% improvement); as well as an improved boil-off rate and cargo capacity (+5%), making it much better suited to future trading patterns than existing vessels.

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GM using Continental Structural Plastics’ TCA Ultra Lite in Corvette for 20 lb weight savings

July 22, 2015

Continental Structural Plastics (CSP), a global provider of lightweight composite solutions, announced that its Tough Class A (TCA) Ultra Lite material, introduced in September 2014, is now in production on the 2016 Chevrolet Corvette. The use of TCA Ultra Lite, a Class A body panel material, results in a 20 lb (9 kg) weight savings on the Stingray Coupe model. This is the first production use of CSP’s Ultra Lite advanced composite.

Ultra Lite technology uses treated glass bubbles to replace some of the CaCO3 (calcium carbonate) filler, allowing the resin to adhere to the matrix and increase the interfacial strength between the bubble and the resin. This is a patented treatment technology that results in a more robust resin mix that makes molded parts more resistant to handling damage, and prevents the micro-cracks that cause paint pops, pits and blistering. The treated bubbles also help with paint adhesion and bonding characteristics.

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Buick 2016 Encore Sport Touring features new 1.4L direct injection turbo with stop/start

July 20, 2015

Buick introduced the 2016 Encore Sport Touring crossover, a more sporty take on the brand’s popular crossover. (Encore sales increased 29% for the first six months of 2015, logging 30,549 units.) The new model is equipped with an exclusive, all-new 1.4L turbocharged engine with direct injection and stop/start technology. The engine is part of the new, global family of small, power-dense engines developed to balance performance and efficiency with refinement.

Direct injection helps the engine generate an estimated 153 hp (112 kW) and 177 lb-ft of torque (240 N·m), for about 11% more horsepower and nearly 20% more torque than the Encore’s standard engine. The engine is matched with a six-speed automatic transmission.

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Argonne, Ford and FCA partnering to study natural gas and gasoline blending for 50% cut in gasoline, 10% boost in efficiency and power density

July 14, 2015

Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory are partnering with Ford Motor Company and FCA US LLC in pre-competitive research to study blending natural gas and gasoline using natural gas direct injection to enable more efficient engines. The project is a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) resulting from the 2014 DOE Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA).

The project’s objective is to understand potential benefits and demonstrate targeted blending of gasoline and natural gas in an engine that uses half as much gasoline and shows a 10% increase in overall efficiency and a 10% improvement in power density.

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Volkswagen launches new Passat GTE plug-in hybrid in Europe

Volkswagen has launched its second plug-in hybrid based on a high-volume production model: the Passat GTE, available either as a sedan or Variant (wagon)—the first plug-in hybrid from Volkswagen to be sold as either. (Earlier post, earlier post.) The Passat GTE and Passat GTE Variant will arrive on the European market this autumn; in the first few countries advance sales have already begun. In Asia the launch will also be this year. In terms of the brand, the Passat GTE is a basic building block in Volkswagen’s electric motoring strategy.

Together with the plug-in hybrids from Audi (A3 e-tron, Q7 e-tron and R8 e-tron) and Porsche (Cayenne S E-Hybrid and Panamera S E- Hybrid), Volkswagen AG now has ten models in its portfolio driven wholly or partially on electric power. (The Volkswagen brand contributes the Golf and Passat GTE plug-ins, the low-volume XL1, and the battery-electric e-up! and e-Golf.) The Passat GTE is the first plug-in hybrid model being sold by the Group in the high-volume segment of large family cars.

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Ford’s first mass-produced carbon fiber wheels

July 12, 2015

To source the new lightweight track-capable carbon fiber wheels that are standard on the new Shelby GT350R Mustang, Ford partnered with Australia-based Carbon Revolution. Carbon Revolution first began delivering composite wheels in 2004 for Formula SAE campaigns. The company now is producing its “CR-9” wheel series in limited numbers for Porsche, BMW M3, Audi R8, Lamborghini and McLaren MP4-12C within Europe, Japan and North America. Ford, however, wanted more of a mass-production solution.

The one-piece carbon fiber wheels for the Mustang weigh nearly half that of an equivalent aluminum wheel (18 pounds versus 33 pounds), and handling and acceleration performance see serious benefits. The wheels also provide a reduction in rotational inertia of more than 40%, which positively impacts acceleration and braking performance. The wheels are so light, the springs and MagneRide dampers had to be recalibrated because the suspension can respond considerably faster to road inputs.

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UMTRI study finds total cost of ownership of diesels in US often much less than gasoline counterparts

July 09, 2015

A comprehensive study of the total cost of ownership (TCO) of light- and medium-duty diesel passenger vehicles in the US has found that the total cost of ownership—depreciation, fuel costs, repairs, maintenance, insurance, and fees and taxes—is often much less for diesel vehicles as compared to gasoline versions of the same vehicles, mostly ranging from $2,000 to $7,000 over three to five years.

Bruce Belzowski, managing director of the U-M Transportation Research Institute's Automotive Futures group, compared thousands of gasoline and diesel versions of the same or nearly identical vehicles sold at auction in 2012-13, including Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen passenger cars and SUVs, and Chevrolet, Ram, Ford and GMC medium-duty pickup trucks.

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European automakers and fuel suppliers argue for diesel as they call on policy makers to accelerate fleet renewal

July 08, 2015

In an open letter to EU policy makers, leading representatives of the automotive and petroleum refining industry in Europe called on policy makers to help accelerate fleet renewal and the introduction of the cleanest vehicles and committed to keep pushing the technical boundaries in order to find ever better ways of combining the customer benefits of diesel—fuel economy and low CO2—with continuously reduced emissions.

The associations pointed out that political measures restricting the rollout of the new generation of diesel technology would undermine existing efforts to cut CO2 emissions.

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Volkswagen 2015 Golf TDI diesel tours all lower 48 states on 101.43 gallons; 81.17 mpg

A 2015 Golf TDI Clean Diesel has set a new Guinness World Records achievement for the “lowest fuel consumption—48 US contiguous States for a non-hybrid car” with an 81.17 mpg (2.9 l/100 km) performance. Traveling 8,233.5 miles (13,251 km) around the US in 16 days on $294.98 of Shell Diesel fuel, the Golf beat the previous mark of 77.99 mpg (3.01 l/100 km) by more than 3 mpg, and also beat the hybrid vehicle record of 74.34 mpg (3.16 l/10 km) by more than 6 mpg. The 2015 Golf TDI carries an EPA-estimated highway fuel economy rating of 45 mpg (5.22 l/100 km).

The record-setting Golf TDI, sporting Volkswagen of America’s 60th anniversary emblem, as well as logos from sponsors Shell, Goodyear, LG, Garmin and Linear-Logic, departed from Volkswagen of America’s headquarters in Herndon, Va., on 22 June. It returned on 7 July, having visited all 48 contiguous states.

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Honda diesel sets new Guinness record for fuel efficiency, averaging 83 mpg US in 8,387-mile drive across 24 EU countries

July 07, 2015

Honda has set a new Guinness World Records title for “Lowest fuel consumption – all 24 contiguous EU countries (all cars)”, recording an average 83 mpg US (2.82 l/100 km) over 8,387 miles (13,498 km), in a 25-day drive across all 24 EU contiguous countries. (Earlier post.) The car achieved an average 932 miles (1,500 km) on each tank of fuel, at a total fuel cost for the whole journey of just £459 (US$716).

Behind the wheel of a Honda Civic Tourer 1.6 i-DTEC for the entire journey were two members of Honda’s European Research & Development (R&D) team, Fergal McGrath and Julian Warren, who took on the challenge to further demonstrate the real-world fuel economy of the Tourer.

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Mercedes-Benz introduces next-gen OM 471 heavy-duty engine; more fuel efficient, more torque with fast build-up at very low revs

July 03, 2015

Mercedes-Benz Trucks has introduced the latest generation of its OM 471 six-cylinder, in-line heavy-duty diesel engine. The latest generation reduces fuel consumption by up to 3% while increasing torque; the new series is also spearheaded by a unit offering new top performance figures of 390 kW (530 hp) and 2600 N·m (1,918 lb-ft) of torque.

Assuming an annual mileage of 130,000 km (80,778 miles) in long-distance transport and a consumption of approx. 28.5 liters/100 km (8.25 mpg US) on a demanding route covered at full load capacity, the latest-generation OM 471 engine would save around 1100 liters (291 gallons) of fuel a year and emit about three tonnes less CO2.

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Study: even with high LDV electrification, low-carbon biofuels will be necessary to meet 80% GHG reduction target; “daunting” policy implications

A study by researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Michigan State University colleague has concluded that even with a relatively high rate of electrification of the US light-duty fleet (40% of vehicle miles traveled and 26% by fuel), an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050 relative to 1990 can only be achieved with significant quantities of low-carbon liquid fuel. The paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

For the study, the researchers benchmarked 27 scenarios against a 50% petroleum-reduction target and an 80% GHG-reduction target. They found that with high rates of electrification (40% of miles traveled) the petroleum-reduction benchmark could be satisfied, even with high travel demand growth. The same highly electrified scenarios, however, could not satisfy 80% GHG-reduction targets, even assuming 80% decarbonized electricity and no growth in travel demand.

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BMW shows future drive technologies; 2 Series PHEV prototype, direct water injection in 3-cyl. engine, and fuel cell eDrive

July 02, 2015

During a driving event at the Miramas proving grounds in southern France, BMW presented future drive technologies, including the prototype of a BMW 2 Series Active Tourer with plug-in hybrid drive. This application of BMW eDrive technologies features the first PHEV system with a front/transverse-mounted combustion engine, high-voltage generator and road-linked all-wheel drive via an electric drive system at the rear axle.

The company also showcased the use of direct water injection to enhance the efficiency of combustion engines at higher performance levels while also significantly reducing fuel consumption and emissions in key driving cycles. Finally, BMW showcased a hydrogen fuel cell drive system as a future-focused variant of BMW eDrive (teased in a technical session during April’s SAE World Congress in Detroit) enabling all-electric driving with a high operating range and short refueling times. (BMW is collaborating with Toyota on fuel cell systems. Earlier post.)

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Tire-integrated triboelectric generator harvests electricity from rolling tire friction; est. up to +10% fuel econ

June 30, 2015

A group of University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers and a collaborator from China have developed a triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG) that harvests energy from a car’s rolling tire friction. An innovative method of reusing energy, the nanogenerator ultimately could provide automobile manufacturers a new way to squeeze greater efficiency out of their vehicles.

The TENG is a novel energy harvesting device to convert mechanical energy into electricity based on the universally known triboelectric principle—i.e., the generation of an electric charge resulting from the contact or rubbing together of two dissimilar objects. Specifically, the nanogenerator relies on the triboelectric effect to harness energy from the changing electric potential between the pavement and a vehicle’s wheels.

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Audi launches next-gen A4 with new Millerized TFSI engine; g-tron model w/ Audi e-gas

June 29, 2015

Audi has unveiled the new-generation Audi A4 and A4 Avant, developed with a high priority on the reduction of CO2 emissions. Among other developments, the new A4 is the launch vehicle for the new high-efficiency 2.0L TFSI based on Miller cycle, introduced by Audi earlier this year at the Vienna Motor Symposium. (Earlier post.) The A4 Sedan and the A4 Avant will be launched in the market this fall.

The new models deliver CO2 emissions as low as 95 grams per kilometer (152.9 grams per mile) for the A4 Sedan 2.0 TDI ultra with 110 kW (150 hp). The new A4 Sedan has the best drag coefficient in its class at 0.23, while Avant has cd 0.26. Further, although compared with the previous model the car’s dimensions have grown, its weight has been reduced by up to 120 kilograms (265 lbs), depending on the engine. The body of the new Audi models is one of the lightest in its class due to an intelligent material mix and lightweight construction.

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Mercedes-Benz increases engine range for refreshed A Class compact

June 28, 2015

Mercedes-Benz increases engine range for refreshed A Class compact

With the refresh of its A-Class, Mercedes-Benz has increased the range of available engines. The A 160 with 75 kW (102 hp) is the new entry-level model. The new efficiency champion is the 80 kW (109 hp) A 180 d BlueEFFICIENCY Edition with an NEDC fuel consumption of 3.5 l/100 km (67 mpg US) and CO2 emissions of 89 g/km. Also new are the manual transmission versions of the dynamic models A 250 and A 250 Sport.

(Mercedes-Benz is using the A-Class model facelift as the opportunity to introduce the new nomenclature for the drive variants in this model series. While the gasoline models have no suffix, the small letter “d” replaces the previous “CDI”—for example, the A 200 CDI is now called the A 200 d.

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Chevrolet introduces new Cruze; new 1.4L EcoTec turbo; new 1.6L diesel coming to US in 2017

June 25, 2015

Chevrolet introduced the all-new 2016 Cruze—larger, lighter, and more efficient than its predecessor. The new Cruze will be offered in more than 40 global markets and goes on sale first in North America in early 2016. A new, standard 1.4L turbocharged direct injection engine (for North America) helps enable a General Motors-estimated 40 mpg (5.88 l/100km) on the highway with the available six-speed automatic transmission. Stop/start technology helps enhance the Cruze’s efficiency in stop-and-go driving.

The new turbo engine and a leaner architecture that reduces up to 250 pounds (113 kg) also contribute to the new Cruze’s stronger performance, with expected 0-60-mph acceleration of eight seconds. Chevrolet will add a new clean diesel engine to the US lineup in 2017, featuring a B20-capable 1.6L diesel already proven in Europe and other global markets.

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Ford assessment of two cylinder deactivation strategies for award-winning 3-cyl. EcoBoost

June 23, 2015

Ford wien1
A comparison of the benefits of two different cylinder deactivation operating strategies for downsized 3-cylinder engines such as the 1.0L EcoBoost. The largest difference proved to be in cost. Schamel et al. Click to enlarge.

Ford’s 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine recently received its eighth award in four years at the 2015 International Engine of the Year Awards. The judges selected the 999cc EcoBoost as the winner (for the fourth consecutive year) in the “Sub 1-Litre” category, awarding it 444 points. The second place challenger, GM’s 999cc EcoTec 3-cylinder turbo, scored 176 points. (Although the EcoBoost received 61 fewer points than last year, the gap between first and second place widened.) Last year, the 1.0‑liter EcoBoost became the first engine to be named overall International Engine of the Year three times in a row, and was in 2012 named “Best New Engine.”

One of the judges, Hormazd Sorabjee of Autocar India said, “That so much can be achieved from a sub 1-liter, three-cylinder motor is simply astounding.” That may be, but Ford is exploring ways to further improve the fuel efficiency of the three-cylinder design, including the possible use of cylinder deactivation. (Earlier post.)

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BorgWarner R2S two-stage turbo boosts performance of new top-end Ford 2.0L diesel

June 22, 2015

BorgWarner’s regulated two-stage (R2S) turbocharging technology is improving the performance and fuel economy of Ford’s new 2.0-liter TDCi diesel engine, the first Ford engine for passenger cars equipped with a two-stage turbocharging system. The high-performance engine, being offered in Mondeo, S-MAX and Galaxy models in Europe, achieves an output of 155 kW (210 PS) and a maximum torque of 450 N·m from 2000 rpm and will replace the 2.2-liter TDCi diesel engine.

BorgWarner’s R2S turbocharging technology consists of two turbochargers arranged in series to deliver improved torque and smooth power over the entire engine speed range. One compact KP35 high-pressure turbocharger generates boost pressure at low exhaust gas flow rates for rapid acceleration at low engine speeds without delay or turbo lag. As engine speed increases, the exhaust gas stream is split, and the larger K04 low-pressure turbocharger works in series with the KP35 high-pressure turbocharger.

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New PSA 1.2-liter 3-cylinder turbo takes International Engine of Year category award

PSA Peugeot Citroën’s new 1.2-liter 3-cylinder Turbo PureTech engine (earlier post) was named best in the 1.0-liter to 1.4-liter category International Engine of the Year 2015 earlier this month. Some 100,000 units of the engine, which displaced the reigning category champion Volkswagen Group 1.4-liter TSI Twincharger (2014-2006) by 69 points, have already rolled off the production line at the Française de Mécanique plant in Douvrin, France.

The PureTech family of 3-cylinder engines offers high levels of performance, cutting fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by an average of 18% compared with its predecessors. The 1.0-liter and 1.2-liter naturally aspirated versions have been manufactured since 2012 at the French Trémery plant, which has an annual production capacity of 640,000 units. The 1.2-liter turbo versions have been split since 2014 between the Française de Mécanique plant and the Xiangyang plant in China, which have respective annual production capacities of 320,000 and 200,000 units.

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EPA and NHTSA propose Phase 2 GHG and fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks

June 19, 2015

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are jointly proposing Phase 2 standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles to improve fuel efficiency and cut greenhouse gas emissions. The proposal builds on the Phase 1 fuel efficiency and GHG emissions standards already in place for model years 2014-2018. (Earlier post.)

Three years in development, the proposed Phase 2 vehicle and engine performance standards would cover model years 2021-2027, and apply to semi-trucks, large pickup trucks and vans, and all types and sizes of buses and work trucks. They would achieve up to 24% lower CO2 emissions and fuel consumption than an equivalent tractor in 2018, based on the fully phased-in standards for the tractor alone in a tractor-trailer vehicle.

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NRC report finds Federal analysis to set LD CAFE and GHG standards generally of high quality; some technologies and issues should be re-examined

The analysis used by federal agencies to set standards for fuel economy (CAFE) and greenhouse gas emissions for new US light-duty vehicles from 2017 to 2025 was thorough and of high caliber overall, according to a new report from the National Research Council.

However, the report authors found, the agencies should re-examine certain issues such as consumer behavior and the effectiveness of certain technologies in an upcoming mid-term review. In addition, the report found, evidence suggests that the standards will lead the nation’s light-duty vehicle fleet to become lighter but not less safe.

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Reducing the weight of the 2016 Malibu

June 18, 2015

Chevrolet’s new 2016 Malibu, engineered to offer more efficiency, connectivity and advanced safety features, and featuring the option of a new full-hybrid powertrain (earlier post), is also nearly 300 pounds (136 kg) lighter than the current model.

The 3,100 lb (1,406 kg) Malibu has the mid-size segment’s lightest base curb weight, and also offers an estimated 37 mpg (6.35 l/100 km) highway for the 1.5L turbo base engine. (The hybrid model offers an estimated 48 mpg (4.9 l/100 km) in city driving.) The lighter curb weight also improves ride and handling.

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Mercedes-Benz premieres 2nd generation GLC and plug-in hybrid GLC 350 e 4MATIC

Mercedes-Benz unveiled the second generation of its mid-range GLC SUV (the SUV in the C-Class segment, formerly the GLK). In addition to cutting fuel consumption by up to 19% in comparison to the previous model on the conventional engined models, Mercedes also introduced another plug-in hybrid SUV model: the GLC 350 e 4MATIC.

In March, Mercedes-Benz said it would 10 new plug-in hybrid models by 2017. (Earlier post.) The company introduced its first SUV PHEV in the form of the GLE 550 e earlier this year. (Earlier post.) The GLE 550 e is Mercedes-Benz’ first plug-in hybrid SUV, the GLC 350 e its second.

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GM to premiere new efficient 1.4L turbo at Frankfurt IAA

June 17, 2015

GM will premiere the new 1.4 ECOTEC Direct Injection Turbo and in the new Opel Astra at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt (IAA) in September. The four-cylinder turbocharged unit with central direct fuel injection will be available in two outputs, 92 kW/125 hp and 110 kW/150 hp.

The new all-aluminum engine is the bigger brother of the recently introduced 1.0-liter, three-cylinder ECOTEC Direct Injection Turbo used in the Opel ADAM and Corsa. (Earlier post.) Both engines are members of the small gasoline engine family—a group of high-tech engines with three or four cylinders and a displacement below 1.6 liters. They are key players in the biggest engine offensive in Opel’s history which will see 17 new engines brought to market from 2014 to 2018.

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VW launches new Sharan MPV; up to 14.3% more fuel efficient; stop-start, battery regen standard

June 16, 2015

Volkswagen is launching the latest version of its Sharan MPV, equipped with new TSI and TDI engines that are up to 14.3% more fuel efficient; the most efficient model consumes 5.0 l/100 km (47 mpg US). The entire engine range (115 to 220 PS) meets the Euro-6 standard.

The first generation Sharan made its debut in Geneva in 1995; between 1995 and 2015 more than 800,000 Sharans were sold worldwide. The vehicle is the best-selling German MPV in its class.

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Suzuki to partner with Proton in Malaysia; new 2-cylinder 0.8L diesel for compacts in India

Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC) will collaborate with the Malaysian national carmaker Proton Holdings Berhad. As the first step of the collaboration, SMC will supply KD (knocked down) components for a Suzuki model to Proton.

Proton will manufacture the model at its own plant, and distribute and sell the model under the Proton brand through its sales network in Malaysia. The first model will be a compact passenger car, to be manufactured at the PROTON Tanjung Malim plant from around August 2016. Other additional models will be mutually studied by Proton and SMC.

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Honda discontinuing Civic Hybrid, Civic natural gas model, Accord plug-in hybrid; new BEV, PHEV models coming

June 15, 2015

Due in part to Honda’s ability to advance fuel economy through conventional engine technology, the Civic lineup will no longer include a hybrid or a natural gas model, according to John Mendel, Executive Vice President, Automobile Division American Honda Motor Co., Inc. Both of these products with the end of the 2015 model year. Mendel also said said that Honda will not offer a plug-in version of Accord going forward as the company looks toward the scheduled launch of a new dedicated plug-in model. Honda currently is selling the MY 2014 Accord Plug-in Hybrid.

Honda will launch the all-new 10th-generation Civic this fall. With two new engines on the new Civic, including its first turbo engine, Honda is targeting class-leading fuel economy for Civic, with EPA highway fuel economy “a few ticks” above 40 miles per gallon, Mendel said.

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Frost & Sullivan projects Volkswagen Group to be the leader in 48V systems over next 10 years

In a new report on the prospects for 48V automotive systems (earlier post), consultancy Frost & Sullivan forecasts that the Volkswagen Group will lead in this area primarily because of Audi’s 48V offering (earlier post). The consultancy projects that by 2025, Volkswagen Group will have 48V volumes in excess of 1 million systems in North America and Europe combined, far exceeding its competition.

The report, “The 48V Power-net Market in Europe and North America”, projects that by 2017, Audi and PSA will be the front-runners in Europe, while in North America, the major push is expected by the German OEMs.

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CONVERGE code optimization yields three-fold increase in engine simulation speed

June 10, 2015

Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory are partnering with Convergent Science, Inc. (CSI), to speed up a key piece of modeling and simulation software to ensure those cycles are used as effectively as possible, reducing product development time and resulting in better engines and savings for consumers.

The research is part of Argonne’s Virtual Engine Research Institute and Fuels Initiative (VERIFI), which is working with CSI to optimize the company’s CONVERGE code, a CFD (computational fluid dynamics) program widely used in industry to conduct modeling and simulation for engine design. (Earlier post.) While the effort has been ongoing for more than two years, it has recently moved into a code optimization phase that is showing dramatic gains.

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EcoCAR 2 winner OSU wins year one of North American EcoCAR 3 competition

June 06, 2015

The US Department of Energy and General Motors announced The Ohio State University (OSU) as the overall winning team for Year One of the EcoCAR 3 competition, a four-year collegiate engineering program that gives students the chance to design, build, and demonstrate cutting-edge, eco-friendly automotive technologies in the all-new 2016 Chevrolet Camaro. (Earlier post.) Virginia Tech and the University of Waterloo took second and third place respectively.

The judges decided that OSU showed all-around excellence in Year One, demonstrating a highly mature software development process, and as a result received a trophy, $10,000 and repeat winner bragging rights. The team earned a total of 937 points out of 1,000 and also took first place in the Communications and Project Management categories. Judges were impressed by their efforts in identifying a target market for their vehicle and branding strategy, including the tagline: “Classic.Recharged.”

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US$7.5M JOSPEL project to develop energy efficient climate control for EVs; leveraging Joule and Peltier effects

June 03, 2015

A trans-European collaboration aims to develop a novel energy efficient climate control system to help reduce the energy used for passenger comfort in electric vehicles by at least 50%. Even in today’s modern electric vehicles, a lot of energy is wasted on heating or cooling, in turn limiting the already relatively short range by further draining the battery capacity.

The aim of the €6.7-million (US$7.5-million) JOSPEL project is to develop an efficient, electrical climate control system using an integrated approach that combines the application of the Joule and Peltier effects; efficient insulation of the vehicle interior; energy recovery from heat zones; increased battery life as a side effect of thermal management; reduced battery energy consumption via the integration of Peltier cooling; innovative automated and eco-driving strategies; and the electronic control of power flows.

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BMW announces second-generation X1; fuel consumption reduced up to 17%

BMW announced the all-new BMW X1 Sports Activity Vehicle. In its second generation, the new MY 2016 BMW X1 builds on the success of its predecessor (more than 730,000 sold worldwide to date, 61,974 sold in the US) by incorporating a roomier interior combined with greater efficiency and technology. The new generation features enhanced sportiness and ride comfort compared to the outgoing model, with fuel consumption and emissions reduced by up to 17%, model-on-model.

The second-generation BMW X1 (fuel consumption NEDC combined: 6.4–4.1 liters/100 km [36.8–57.4 mpg US]; CO2 emissions combined: 149–109 g/km) is fitted with an all-new range of engines comprising two gasoline and two diesel units, each with 2.0-liter displacement and BMW TwinPower Turbo technology. Beyond this, the model range is scheduled to be extended from November 2015 by the variants BMW X1 sDrive18i with 100 kW/136 hp and the BMW X1 sDrive16d with 85 kW/116 hp, both driven by three-cylinder engines. The engines link up with either a six-speed manual gearbox or an eight-speed Steptronic unit, both of which are new developments.

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Volkswagen introduces new 1L, 3-cylinder gasoline Golf; 54.7 mpg

June 02, 2015

In Europe, Volkswagen has introduced the new Golf TSI BlueMotion featuring a new 1.0-liter, 3-cylinder with low fuel consumption of 4.3 l/100 km (54.7 mpg US) (99 g/km CO2)—more efficient than any previous Golf with a gasoline engine. (Volkswagen unveiled the model earlier this year at the Geneva show.) The new TSI engine also offers the highest specific torque of any large-scale production series gasoline engines: 200 N·m per liter displacement.

Despite its efficiency, the Golf TSI BlueMotion with the 85 kW / 114 hp downsized 999 cc EA211-series engine reaches 100 km/h in 9.7 seconds and goes on to a top speed of 204 km/h (127 mph). A 6-speed manual or 7-speed DSG (with automatic gear changes) are available; both consume just 4.3 l/100 km.

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Retrofit of ship with Caterpillar diesel-electric twin fin system yields 30% gain in fuel efficiency

June 01, 2015

Caterpillar’s twin fin diesel-electric marine propulsion system, introduced in 2014 and first retrofit to the Polarcus Naila, a seismic vessel, has resulted in a 30% gain in fuel efficiency and an 84% performance improvement in bollard pull thrust during seismic conditions for the vessel, with no reported reliability problems, according to Cat’s 2014 Sustainability Report. These benefits are expected to boost the customer’s revenue by approximately $3.3 million per year.

Initially conceived for harsh operating environments, the Cat Propulsion Twin Fin System comprises a compact electric motor and gearbox configuration connected via short drive shaft, rotating a pair of controllable pitch propellers whose performance is enhanced by two tailor-made fins attached to the hull.

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Mercedes-Benz investing around $558 million in Berlin plant; global center of competence for CAMTRONIC

May 22, 2015

Mercedes-Benz is investing a total of around €500 million (US$558 million) in its plant in Berlin—the Group’s oldest production facility in operation—which is being developed into a high-tech facility for component production. Some €150 million ($168 million) of that will be applied this year. In the future, Berlin will be a global center of competence for the production of the CAMTRONIC engine management system, giving it a unique position within the production network. The V6-cylinder diesel engine is produced in Berlin.

With the agreement of this transformation plan, the plant is continuing to push forward its development into a high-tech component manufacturing facility, focusing on the expansion of capacity for advanced products. In addition to high-precision transmission parts, camshaft adjusters and fuel systems, these include the CAMTRONIC valve timing system that will be the subject of the majority of the agreed investment.

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Evident Thermoelectrics acquires GMZ Energy

May 19, 2015

In a major expansion move, Evident Thermoelectrics has purchased the assets of GMZ Energy, Inc. a developer of high temperature thermoelectric generation (TEG) systems, in an acquisition that includes all patents, equipment, product lines, website, customer contacts and brand. In December 2014, GMZ had successfully demonstrated a 1kW TEG designed for diesel engine exhaust heat recapture in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle (earlier post).

The purchase comes shortly after Evident’s April announcement of a licensing agreement with NASA and is intended to solidify the company’s position as a leader in high temperature thermoelectric applications. (Earlier post.)

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Review of research suggests inconclusive support for fuel consumption benefits of catalyzed EGR

May 18, 2015

Conflicting evidence does not support making a firm conclusion on the fuel consumption benefit of catalysed Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR), according to a review of current studies by a team at the University of Bath (UK). In catalyzed EGR, a catalyst alters the chemical composition of the exhaust gas mix before its reintroduction to the engine. As an example, one study found a decrease in fuel consumption of up to 2%, while another found an increase of 1.5%-3.5%.

According to the review, the conversion of HCs, CO, and NO in the exhaust gas by the catalyst can result in up to a 4.5% reduction (in extreme cases) in the calorific value of the charge for catalyzed EGR when compared to equivalent operation with un-catalyzed EGR; this reduction in calorific value has a negative impact on the achievable BSFC. An open access paper on the study (an update of an earlier version published late last year) appears in the International Journal of Engine Research.

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First drive: Volvo XC90 T8 Drive-E Twin Engine PHEV sets a high bar for full-size luxury SUV plug-ins in US

May 17, 2015

With the 2016 XC90 (earlier post) heading to dealerships across the US, Volvo Cars gave media an opportunity to experience the next generation of its full-size luxury SUV—in both its conventional T6 and plug-in hybrid T8 Drive-E Twin Engine forms—in and around Los Angeles. Volvo also brought in members of its engineering and design teams, including Michael Fleiss, VP of Powertrain Engineering, to provide more technical details on the car.

The XC90 is a critical car for Volvo’s revitalization worldwide and especially in the US market. Combining Volvo’s new design language, advanced safety and in-car connectivity technologies, and the new strategic Drive-E powertrains, the XC90 is the first product based on Volvo’s new strategic Scalable Product Architecture (SPA). (Earlier post.) The XC90 T8 Twin Engine will be the first 3-row, 7-passenger, plug-in hybrid electric light-duty vehicle in the US when it arrives in showrooms toward the end of 2015, but will soon be joined by—at least—the Audi Q7 e-tron quattro diesel PHEV (earlier post), the Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e PHEV (earlier post), and the BMW X5 xDrive 40e (earlier post).

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Behind Audi’s new “rightsized” efficient EA888 Gen.3B family

May 14, 2015

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Audi’s new “rightsized” 2.0L Gen.3B engine maintains the displacement of the 2.0L Gen.3 and delivers the power of the 1.8L TFSI with the fuel consumption of the 1.4L TFSI. Click to enlarge.

Audi’s new higher-efficiency series-production 2.0 TFSI turbocharged gasoline direct injection engine introduced at the Vienna Motor Symposium last week is the first of the company’s EA888 Gen.3B family. The engine, featuring a new combustion method based on the Miller cycle, will be used for the first time in the next generation of the A4. (Earlier post.) The Miller cycle uses a higher expansion ratio than compression ratio (i.e., over-expansion) obtained by either early or late closing of the intake valves (EIVC and LIVC, respectively), resulting in a smaller effective compression stroke; combustion and expansion proceed normally.

The new Audi engine combines shorter intake events with a high geometric compression ratio; together with other refinements to the basic engine, the new combustion concept enables a reduction in combined cycle CO2 emissions of up to 10-12 g/km compared to its predecessor.

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Ford exploring cylinder deactivation for 1.0L EcoBoost; testing shows up to 6% fuel efficiency improvement

May 12, 2015

Ford, in collaboration with the Schaeffler Group, is investigating different cylinder deactivation approaches on its award-winning 1.0-liter, three-cylinder EcoBoost engine. On-road tests using a working prototype showed fuel efficiency improvements of up to 6%, according to Dr. Andreas Schamel, director, Ford Global Powertrain, Research & Advanced Engineering in Vienna last week.

For the test, the engineers also developed a new dual mass flywheel. This enabled cylinder deactivation to take place at a wider range of engine loads and speeds, and helped minimize noise, vibration and harshness levels.

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California ARB posts discussion document for developing Advanced Clean Transit (ACT) regulation

May 09, 2015

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has posted a discussion document for upcoming workshops on the development of the Advanced Clean Transit (ACT) regulation.

The proposed Advanced Clean Transit regulation will consider strategies to achieve additional criteria pollutant emissions reductions from transit fleets and to accelerate purchases of zero emission buses as part of an overall strategy to transform all heavy duty vehicles to zero emission or near zero emission vehicles to meet air quality and efficiency improvement goals. ARB staff Staff is evaluating four potential broad elements to the Advanced Clean Transit regulation:

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Volkswagen introduces new generation of EU6 TDI diesels for light-duty vehicles; 2.0 TDI BiTurbo offers avg. 14% reduction in fuel consumption

May 08, 2015

At the Vienna Motor Symposium, Jörn Kahrstedt, Head of Diesel Engine Development for the Volkswagen brand, presented the new EU6 TDI engine family for light-duty vehicles. The newly developed 2.0 TDI 4V engine, based on the modular diesel component system (MDB) (earlier post), makes its debut with the market launch of the new Multivan and Transporter models from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. The new family of engines is tailored to the requirements of commercial vehicles, while also extending the power range.

During development the focus was on a significant reduction in fuel consumption (by 14%, on average) while simultaneously meeting the EU6 emission limits, as well as a traction capacity oriented torque curve with a noticeable increase in driving performance for the customer. The top-of-the-range engine features a newly developed dual-stage turbocharger layout.

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Bosch developing series production water injection system for SI engines to reduce fuel consumption and improve performance

Bosch is developing a water injection (WI) system for spark ignition engines in partnership with a pilot customer, said Dr. Rolf Bulander, member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH and chairman of the Mobility Solutions business sector, in his talk on powertrain optimization at the Vienna Motor Symposium. The port water injection system comprises a water pump; a water rail; and injectors which have been designed to handle the specific challenges arising as a result of operation with water.

Dr. Bulander said that a WI system can enable up to a 4% improvement in NEDC fuel consumption by cooling the charge to minimize/avoid fuel enrichment; mitigate knocking (premature denotation); and enable an increased compression ratio. A port-injection WI system is low complexity and highly effective, he noted.

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Audi introduces new high-efficiency 2.0L TFSI based on Miller cycle; 190 hp, 47 mpg

Audi introduced its new series-production 2.0 TFSI gasoline turbocharged direct injection engine for the first time at the Vienna Motor Symposium this week. The engine, which features a new combustion method, will be used for the first time in the next generation of the A4.

The four-cylinder engine delivers 140 kW (190 hp) and 320 N·m (236.0 lb-ft) from a displacement of 1,984 cc; the high torque is applied in a broad range of 1,450 to 4,400 rpm. The engine also features low fuel consumption levels of less than 5.0 l/100 km (47.0 mpg US) in the NEDC, clearly undercutting both its predecessor and comparable competitors. Enabling the performance of the new 2.0 TFSI is a new combustion method, according to Audi. At its core, its principle is comparable to the Miller cycle.

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Cooper Tire completes work on $1.5M DOE project to develop fuel efficient tires, exceeding targets

May 04, 2015

Cooper Tire & Rubber Company completed work under a $1.5-million government grant to develop advanced tire technology aimed at increasing vehicle fuel efficiency. The grant, awarded by the US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, called for Cooper to develop technology for light vehicle tires that delivered a minimum 3% improvement in vehicle fuel efficiency while lowering average tire weight by at least 20%, all without sacrificing performance.

Cooper was successful in developing technologies that exceeded the project’s goals, delivering an average fuel efficiency improvement of 5.5% and weight reduction ranging from 23% to 37% in concept tires.

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Jaguar bringing XE diesel to US in 2016

April 29, 2015

The Jaguar US lineup will expand in 2016 with the addition of the all new, aluminum-intensive Jaguar XE compact sports sedan in 20d (diesel) and 35t models each in Premium, Prestige and R-Sport trim levels and available in RWD or AWD. The Jaguar XE will be offered with a lighter version of the ZF 8-speed automatic used in the rest of the Jaguar range.

The fuel economy leader will be the Jaguar XE 20d, powered by the company’s new Ingenium 2.0 liter diesel (earlier post) delivering 180 hp (134 kW) and 318 lb-ft (431 N·m) of torque. Mated with the eight-speed automatic transmission, the Jaguar XE 20d will be the brand’s most fuel efficient model (EPA figures to be released at later date).

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Japan Ministries propose light commercial vehicle fuel economy standards for 2022

April 28, 2015

In a policy update, the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) reports that Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) and Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) have finalized new proposed fuel economy standards for light- and medium-duty commercial vehicles with gross vehicle weights less than 3.5 tonnes. MLIT and METI will use the proposal as a basis for revisions to relevant laws and regulations, with a target for completion in spring of 2015.

The new standards will require that the fuel economy of model year 2022 light and medium commercial vehicles sold in Japan average 17.9 km/L (42 mpg US, 5.6 l/100 km) in 2022, compared to 14.2 km/L (33.4 mpg US, 7.0 l/100 km) in 2012. This represents a 26% increase in fuel economy from 2012 values, and a 23% increase from the 2015 standard of 14.5 km/L (34.1 mpg US, 6.9 l/100 km).

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Achates Power testing shows transient capabilities of opposed piston engine

April 27, 2015

Initial test results of the transient control and exhaust temperature management capability of Achates Power’s opposed piston (OP) two-stroke diesel engine show that under a typical transient maneuver—25% to 100% load step at low and constant engine speed—the engine can control both NOx and soot with a minimal torque lag. Test results also showed that the air system control flexibility and robust combustion system that Achates Power developed for the OP engine can be used to achieve high exhaust gas temperatures for a diesel engine at idle-like speeds and load, thereby assisting catalyst light-off.

The results follow a paper published earlier this year detailing steady-state testing results that showed the research 4.9L three-cylinder engine was able to achieve 43% brake thermal efficiency at the best point and almost 42% on average over the modes of the SET (Supplemental Emission Test) cycle. The results from this test confirmed the modeling predictions and pointed to a 48% best BTE and 46.6% average over the cycle for a production design of this engine, the Achates team concluded. With the latest paper Achates Power is exploring other critical attributes necessary to deliver a successful engine to the industry.

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Carbon Core of next-gen BMW 7 Series helps reduce sedan’s weight by up to 130 kg; remote control parking

April 18, 2015

BMW presented an initial selection of technology highlights for the next generation of the BMW 7 Series model range featuring developments in lightweight design, driving dynamics, comfort, intelligent connectivity and operation.

Due to the BMW EfficientLightweight strategy, the new BMW 7 Series line-up will weigh up to 130 kilograms (287 lbs) less than the outgoing generation of models. At its heart is a body structure with a Carbon Core based on the transfer of technology from the development of the BMW i models. The use of CFRP for structural elements of the passenger cell based on hybrid construction with ultra-high-strength steels—such as the B-pillars—increases both the overall strength and the torsional and bending stiffness of the passenger cell. To this end, the configuration of sheet metal elements can be adjusted as required, allowing for a significant reduction in the weight of the body.

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Ford, DowAksa jointly to develop carbon fiber for high-volume automotive light-weighting applications

April 17, 2015

Ford and DowAksa signed a joint development agreement (JDA) formally to advance research on cost-effective, high-volume manufacturing of automotive-grade carbon fiber, a material poised to play a significant role in the drive to make vehicles lighter. (Earlier post.)

The agreement, between Ford Motor Company, Ford Global Technologies and DowAksa (a 50/50 joint venture between The Dow Chemical Company and Aksa Akrilik Kimya Sanayii A.Ş.) will combine DowAksa’s feedstock capacity, carbon fiber conversion and downstream intermediates production capabilities with Ford’s expertise in design, engineering and high-volume manufacturing. The goal is to produce materials that make cost-effective carbon fiber composite parts that are much lighter than steel but meet automotive strength requirements.

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Visio.M partners showcasing energy efficient passenger climate control for EVs

April 15, 2015

As part of the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) collaborative project Visio.M (earlier post, earlier post), scientists of the TU München have developed an energy efficient solution for passenger climate control in EVs. The researchers are presenting the results of their work, as implemented in the Visio.M prototype vehicle, in the German government stand at the Hannover Messe.

In a combustion-engined vehicle, waste heat could be used to heat the vehicle passenger compartments directly. Many electric vehicles simply took over concepts from the combustion engined vehicles—e.g., a heater and an air conditioner. However, the energy drain of this approach can put a noticeable dent in vehicle range. The Visio.M researchers thus took a new look at all potential solutions, considering their efficiency, comfort and cost.

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EIA AEO2015 projects elimination of net US energy imports in 2020-2030 timeframe; transportation energy consumption drops

April 14, 2015

The Annual Energy Outlook 2015 (AEO2015) released today by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that US energy imports and exports will come into balance—a first since the 1950s—because of continued oil and natural gas production growth and slow growth in energy demand.

AEO2015 presents updated projections for US energy markets through 2040 based on six cases (Reference, Low and High Economic Growth, Low and High Oil Price, and High Oil and Gas Resource) that reflect updated scenarios for future crude oil prices. US net energy imports decline and ultimately end in most AEO2015 cases, driven by growth in US energy production—led by crude oil and natural gas—increased use of renewables, and only modest growth in demand.

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DOE investing $200M in next-gen supercomputer for Argonne; on the road to exascale computing

April 10, 2015

Under the joint Collaboration of Oak Ridge, Argonne, and Lawrence Livermore (CORAL) initiative, the US Department of Energy (DOE) will invest $200 million to deliver a next-generation supercomputer—Aurora—to the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF). When commissioned in 2018, this supercomputer will be open to all scientific users.

The new system, Aurora, will use Intel’s HPC (high performance computing) scalable system framework to provide a peak performance of 180 PetaFLOP/s. Aurora, in effect a “pre-exascale” system, will be delivered in 2018. Argonne and Intel will also provide an interim system, the 8.5 PetaFLOP Theta, to be delivered in 2016, which will help Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF) users transition their applications to the new technology. (Theta will require only 1.7 MW of power.)

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Shell, Gordon Murray and Osamu Goto to develop new ultra-compact ICE city car

April 09, 2015

Shell, in collaboration with Professor Gordon Murray and engine specialist Osamu Goto will co-engineer an ultra-compact, efficient car for city use based around the internal combustion engine (ICE). Initiated by Shell, the collaboration, which is called Project M, brings together Shell’s Lubricant’s Technology Team, The Gordon Murray Design Group and Goto’s engine specialist company Geo Technology. Development of the lubricants, engine and vehicle will be completely integrated.

The Shell car will be a ground-up, total re-think of the Gordon Murray Design T.25 car developed in 2010 using specially formulated Shell lubricants. (Earlier post.) The car, intended to be a simple, practical global city car leveraging light-weight engineering, streamlining, and driveline efficiency, is scheduled to be unveiled in November 2015.

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Toyota’s second turbocharged gasoline engine now available in Auris in Japan; 36% thermal efficiency

April 06, 2015

Toyota Motor has introduced its second turbocharged engine (following the 2.0-liter in the Lexus NX 200t turbo last year, earlier post) from a series of new engines with improved thermal and fuel efficiency. (Earlier post.) The new 8NR-FTS 1.2-liter direct-injection turbo engine is now available as an option for the partially redesigned Auris, which went on sale in Japan today. Toyota announced the new engine in March at the Geneva Motor Show. (Earlier post.)

The new 1.2-liter engine in the new Auris 120T generates peak torque of 185 N·m (136 lb-ft) at a wide range of rpms between 1,500 rpm and 4,000 rpm; maximum power is 85 kw (112 hp) at 5,200-5,600 rpm. At 19.4 km/L (46 mpg US, 5.15 l/100 km), fuel efficiency exceeds the Japanese government’s 2015 fuel economy standards by at least 10%. The 120T grade is eligible for the Japanese government’s subsidies and tax incentives for eco-cars.

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Toyota unveils 2016 RAV4 Hybrid; 8th hybrid in Toyota line-up

April 02, 2015

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The RAV4 Hybrid makes its debut in New York. Click to enlarge.

Toyota unveiled the new RAV4 Hybrid at the New York International Auto Show, along with refreshed versions of the conventional RAV4. The eighth hybrid in the Toyota lineup, the RAV4 Hybrid offers more power as well as better fuel economy than the conventional RAV4, according to Toyota Group Vice President and General Manager Bill Fay. (Toyota has yet to release specific performance and fuel economy numbers.)

The hybrid system consists of a 4-cylinder, 2.5-liter gasoline engine and eCVT transmission along with an All-Wheel-Drive System with Intelligence (AWDi) featuring a rear motor that operates independently from the front motor. This additional electric motor delivers instant torque to the rear wheels only when additional traction is needed, thereby automatically helping prevent wheel spin.

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Jaguar introduces Gen 2, aluminum-intensive XF; up to 60 mpg US with diesel Ingenium engine

Jaguar has unveiled the second-generation, all-new Jaguar XF at the New York International Auto Show. The coupé-like design uses Jaguar’s aluminum-intensive (75% aluminum) architecture (earlier post) to enable weight savings of up to 190 kg (419 lbs)—making the 163PS diesel model 80 kg (176 lbs) lighter than the nearest competitor—plus an increase in torsional stiffness of up to 28%. The architecture also delivers improvements in packaging and proportions.

The powertrain range will consist of: 163PS (161 hp, 120 kW) and 180PS (178 hp, 132 kW) 2.0-liter diesel manual and automatic; RWD, 240PS (237 hp, 177 kW) 2.0-liter gasoline automatic; RWD, 300PS (296 hp, 221 kW) 3.0-liter diesel automatic; RWD and AWD, 340PS (335 hp, 250 kW) and 380PS (375 hp, 279 kW) 3.0-liter gasoline automatic. With fuel economy as low as 60 mpg US (3.94 l/100 km) (104 g/km CO2) on the European combined cycle from the Ingenium diesel (earlier post), the all-new XF delivers an improvement of almost 20% compared to its predecessor.

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Chevrolet introduces 2016 Spark; new 1.4L engine with 16% more power and 40 mpg highway

At the New York International Auto Show, Chevrolet introduced the all-new 2016 Spark—a completely redesigned and more sophisticated execution of the brand’s global minicar. It offers greater efficiency and refinement, along with new, available safety and connectivity features. As one of Chevrolet’s most global vehicles (global Chevrolet Spark sales have surpassed 1 million since it went on sale in 2010), the 2016 Spark will be offered in more than 40 markets around the world.

The new Spark has a sleeker appearance, thanks to a slightly longer wheelbase, and an overall height about 1.6 inches (40 mm) lower than the current model. The lower profile reduces aerodynamic drag to help improve efficiency and interior changes maintain the Spark’s headroom. The new Spark is built on an all-new, more robust architecture that serves as the foundation for an improved driving experience. The stronger body structure enabled engineers to tune ride and handling more precisely, for greater feelings of control and refinement, while fostering a quieter ride.

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2016 Optima midsize sedan gains new 1.6L engine

Kia Motors America (KMA) introduced the re-designed Optima midsize sedan at the New York International Auto Show. The new Optima maintains its athletic identity but rides on a chassis that is longer, wider and stiffer for improved ride and handling and a more spacious cabin.

The all-new Optima is available with three engine choices, providing a balance between sportiness and fuel efficiency. Two powerplants carry over from the previous generation, the 2.4-liter GDI four-cylinder, available on the LX and EX models, and the 2.0-liter GDI turbo engine, available on the SXL and SX Turbo models. All new for the 2016 model is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbo engine offered on the LX trim.

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Lexus unveils 2016 RX at New York show; RX 350 and RX 450h hybrid

April 01, 2015

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2016 RX 450h. Click to enlarge.

Lexus unveiled the new fourth-generation Lexus RX at the 2015 New York Auto Show. The RX is the best-selling model in the brand’s 26-year history, with global sales of more than 2.1 million units—three out of ten vehicles ever sold by Lexus. Since 2005, the RX has maintained about 25% of the sales of the mid-size luxury crossover market, said Jeff Bracken, Group Vice President and General Manager, Lexus Division. The new RX lineup—the RX 350 and the RX450h hybrid—feature safety technologies that include the Lexus Safety System+ (earlier post).

Under the RX 350’s hood is an upgraded and more powerful 3.5-liter V6 aiming to deliver 300 hp (224 kW) with direct injection, mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission. Based on this enhanced powertrain is the RX 450h’s Atkinson-cycle 3.5-liter V6. When combined with the electric motor generator, the combined output also results in around 300 hp. All RX engines have been tuned in anticipation of high fuel economy ratings and low carbon emissions.

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Chevrolet introduces 2016 Malibu; full hybrid option; 8-speed auto

Chevrolet introduced the all-new 2016 Malibu—the ninth generation of the midsize sedan which made its debut in 1964. The completely restyled midsize sedan is engineered to offer more efficiency, connectivity and advanced safety features, and features the option of a new full-hybrid powertrain, which leverages technology from the Chevrolet Volt. (Earlier post.) The Malibu Hybrid will offer an estimated combined fuel economy rating exceeding 45 mpg (5.22 l/100 km). When equipped with the standard 1.5L turbo engine option, Malibu is projected to offer 37 mpg (6.35 l/100 km) highway.

The 2016 Malibu is also longer and lighter, with more interior space and improved fuel efficiency. Its wheelbase has been stretched close to four inches (101 mm), and it is nearly 300 pounds (136 kg) lighter than the current model.

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

March 31, 2015

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

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

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

March 27, 2015

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

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

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

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Toyota progress report on TNGA; half of vehicles sold in 2020 to feature new platforms

In 2012, Toyota Motor introduced its new development framework, the Toyota New Global Architecture. (Earlier post.) Designed to balance product advances with cost reductions, TNGA supports the grouping of the development of new vehicles to promote strategic sharing of parts and powertrain components. One goal is the reduction of resources required for development by 20% or more.

Toyota recently provided an update and an outlook on its progress with TNGA, focusing on new vehicle development (powertrain components and vehicle platforms) as well as production systems.

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SABIC introduces novel thermoplastic roof fairing concept for 3% improvement in heavy-duty truck fuel economy

March 26, 2015

SABIC has introduced a thermoplastic roof fairing concept that can potentially reduce annual fuel consumption of a heavy-duty truck by at least 3%. SABIC’s design concept is aerodynamically optimized to deflect air by accelerating airflow through and across the top and sides of the roof fairing. The result is a significant drop in drag, up to 5.9%, improving the aerodynamic performance and fuel efficiency of a heavy-duty truck.

SABIC’s new thermoplastic roof fairing concept incorporates air ducts to reduce front end pressure and accelerate airflow both over the surface and through the fairing itself. Conventional roof fairings, in contrast, achieve aerodynamic efficiencies simply by maximizing airflow over smooth, closed surfaces.

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EPA annual report finds automakers outperforming GHG emissions standards

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Process for determining compliance status. Source: EPA. Click to enlarge.

For the second consecutive model year, the automotive industry outperformed the national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards by a wide margin, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) second annual Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards for Light Duty Vehicles: Manufacturer’s Performance Report.

Overall industry compliance in model year 2013 was 12 grams/mile— or 1.4 miles per gallon—better than required by the 2013 standard. (Industry compliance in 2012 was 11 grams/mile better than required.) EPA’s GHG emissions standards cover light-duty vehicles from model year 2012 to 2025. Findings of this year’s report included:

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Mercedes-Benz introduces its first plug-in hybrid SUV: the GLE550 e

Keeping pace with its announced intention to roll out 10 plug-in hybrids by 2017 (earlier post), Mercedes-Benz introduced the new GLE550 e 4MATIC plug-in hybrid (PHEV) along with the other members of the new GLE family of full-size SUVs. The GLE550 e is Mercedes-Benz’ first plug-in hybrid SUV. The high-performance SUV models, the Mercedes-AMG GLE63 4MATIC and the GLE63 S 4MATIC, will also celebrate their world premieres at the same time at the New York International Auto Show.

With full system output of 436 hp (325 kW), the GLE550 e 4MATIC delivers European cycle CO2 emissions of just 78 g/km (3.3 l/100 km, 71 mpg US). (EPA estimated fuel consumption for the US is still TBD.) With a power consumption of 16.7 kWh/100 km, the PHEV model is capable of up to 30 km (18.6 mi) of all-electric driving.

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

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

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

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

March 24, 2015

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

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

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DeltaWing to develop GT race car concept; step toward street-legal DeltaWing sports car

March 23, 2015

DeltaWing Technology Group is beginning development of a DeltaWing GT race car concept. The racer will be designed to demonstrate that with far less horsepower than many of today’s best sports cars, a two-seat performance car based on the DeltaWing architecture would deliver the same performance, yet with previously unattained fuel economy and efficiency. Expected to appear in 2015, this new DeltaWing Racing Cars project is a major step toward a street-legal two-seat DeltaWing sports car, the company said.

In Mat 2014, DeltaWing released a rendering of an application of its DeltaWing aerodynamic and lightweight design architecture as a street-legal, four-passenger car. DeltaWing Technologies said at the time that it was seeking OEM partners with the ultimate goal of licensing the DeltaWing vehicle architecture that is 35% lighter, requires 35% less horsepower, and consumes 35% less fuel. (Earlier post.)

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

March 20, 2015

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

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

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

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Renault Trucks Optifuel Lab 2 vehicle results: reduction in fuel consumption by 22% compared to conventional truck

March 19, 2015

Following several months of road trials and test bench programs adding up to the equivalent of 20,000 km (12,427 miles), Renault Trucks Optifuel Lab 2 laboratory vehicle (earlier post) is recording fuel consumption 22% lower than that of a production Renault Trucks T. This means 7.2 liters of diesel are saved for every 100 km covered, together with a 194 g reduction of CO2 emissions for every kilometre travelled.

Optifuel Lab 2 has been equipped with 20 technologies, each of which meet four major challenges associated with consumption: energy management, aerodynamics, rolling resistance and driving aids. Based on a Renault Trucks T, Optifuel Lab 2 is an ongoing version of the Optifuel Lab 1 introduced in 2009.

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Cadillac CT6 mixed-material body structure saves 90 kg over predominantly steel construction

March 15, 2015

Cadillac will use an advanced mixed-material approach for the lightweight body structure of the upcoming CT6 range-topping full-size sedan, which will debut 31 March at the New York International Auto Show. The structure is aluminum-intensive, but the new Cadillac also includes 13 different materials customized for each area of the car to advance driving dynamics, fuel economy and cabin quietness; the mixed material approach saved 90 kg (198 pounds) compared to a predominately steel construction.

Sixty-four percent of the CT6 body structure is aluminum, including all exterior body panels. Thirteen complex high-pressure die cast components make up the lower structure of the CT6 body, along with aluminum sheets and extrusions. The vehicle underbody uses steel close-out panels on the lower structure to create a bank vault-quiet cabin without the added weight of extensive sound-deadening material, often used to compensate for aluminum panels in the occupant compartment.

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First drive: Volkswagen 2015 Golf SportWagen

March 10, 2015

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2015 Golf SportWagen. Click to enlarge.

With the entry of the new 2015 Golf SportWagen, Volkswagen of America is bringing some dynamic and reasonably priced fuel-efficient verve to the non-luxury wagon segment in the US. The Golf SportWagen replaces the Jetta SportWagen with a slightly larger, definitely sportier and more dynamic vehicle that is a clear member of Volkswagen’s award-winning Golf family. Equipped with the new EA288 2.0L TDI diesel, the SportWagen can offer up to 43 mpg (5.47 l/100 km) on the highway—matching the fuel economy rating of the 2015 BMW 328d xDrive Sports Wagon, currently the highway fuel economy leader among the wagon segment, according to fueleconomy.gov.

VW of America is hosting a media drive in a rainy Austin, Texas this week to introduce the new model. (Earlier post.) Although currently only offered with FWD (an AWD version is slated for next year, according to Volkswagen), the Golf SportWagen stayed glued to the rain-slick roads in the hills around Austin even through climbing and dipping curves at speeds well exceeding posted limits. The lower profile and center of gravity compared to an SUV, combined with the powertrain, suspension and chassis, give the SportWagen a nimble and secure feel even in nasty weather.

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

March 09, 2015

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

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

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

March 07, 2015

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

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

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

March 06, 2015

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

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

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

March 04, 2015

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

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

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UPS accelerates use of ORION routing optimization software; reducing 100M miles driven annually at full deployment

March 03, 2015

UPS expects its ORION (On-Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation) routing system (earlier post) to reduce the distance driven by its drivers by 100 million miles annually when fully implemented in 2016. The company is accelerating its implementation to complete all planned US routes by then. The deployment will result in a 100,000-metric-ton reduction in CO2 emissions, equivalent to taking 21,000 passenger cars off the road for a year, according to the Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator.

The company expects additional benefits including annual savings of 10 million gallons of fuel and more than $300 million when ORION completes US implementation. Additional environmental benefits and cost reduction savings will be realized when vehicles outside the US are equipped with the technology in future years, the company said. During 2015, UPS plans to complete installation of ORION routing on about 70% of the planned routes.

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SwRI wins $20M EPA contract for emissions and fuel consumption testing, analytical services

February 25, 2015

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has been awarded a five-year, $20.16-million contract by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide testing and analytical services related to vehicle emissions and fuel consumption.

Key areas of support include emissions characterization and technology assessment. SwRI can develop test procedures and equipment for regulated and unregulated emissions in light- and heavy-duty vehicles and components as well as marine, railway, aircraft, small engine, and other non-highway propulsion systems.

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

February 20, 2015

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

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

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