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

Honeywell Transportation Systems Forecast: turbocharged vehicles to account for 48% of annual global sales by 2021; electric boosting emerges

December 09, 2016

Honeywell’s Transportation Systems Forecast projects that turbocharged vehicles will acount for 48% of annual global sales by 2021, up 9 percentage points from 2016. This annual sales estimate, combining both passenger and commercial vehicles, would add more than 232 million turbocharged vehicles globally between 2017 and 2021—an increase of 35% from today.

This year’s forecast recognizes an industry trend for slightly bigger engine sizes in Europe and China as automakers adapt powertrain strategies to tackle updated emissions regulations developed for real-world driving conditions. In these regions, a typical powertrain is a three- or four-cylinder engine with a displacement size between 1.2 liters and 1.7 liters. By rightsizing engines with available technologies, automakers are able to continue applying the benefits of smaller turbocharged engines while fine-tuning powertrain systems to further optimize fuel economy, emissions and performance.

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New Lexus LC 500h with Multi Stage Hybrid System

December 08, 2016

Following the world premiere of the V8-powered LC 500 at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in January 2016, Lexus introduced its hybrid variant, the new LC 500h. (Earlier post.) The LC is a new flagship 2+2 performance coupe for Lexus’ global model range, and will go on sale in the US in Spring 2017.

The LC 500h is the first model to feature the new Multi Stage Hybrid system. (Earlier post.) Adding a multi stage shift device to the 3.5-liter V6 hybrid powertrain delivers greater torque, more usable power across a wider range of engine speeds and rhythmic, linear acceleration that gives the driver the sensation of working with a 10-speed automatic gearbox.

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Global Automakers calls on EPA to withdraw proposed determination on MY 2022-2025 GHG standards, get back in alignment with NHTSA, provide more time

Global Automakers, the trade association representing the US divisions of 12 international automakers (Aston Martin, Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai, Isuzu, Kia, Maserati, McLaren, Nissan, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota), has called on the EPA either to withdraw its proposed determination on MY 2022-2025 light duty vehicle greenhouse gas standards or to extend the comment period. On 30 November, EPA proposed leaving the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for those model years in place, based on its technical analysis that shows automakers are well positioned to meet the targets, and proposed a 30-day comment period. (Earlier post.)

The final standards are projected to result in an average industry fleet-wide level of 163 grams/mile of CO2 in model year 2025, which is equivalent to 54.5 mpg (4.31 l/100 km), if achieved exclusively through fuel economy improvements.

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Chevrolet’s 1st 9-speed automatic to debut in 2017 Malibu; available in 2017 Cruze Diesel and 2018 Equinox

December 06, 2016

Chevrolet’s first nine-speed automatic transmission makes its debut in the 2017 Malibu and will be available in the 2017 Cruze Diesel and 2018 Equinox, with another Chevrolet model to follow by the end of 2017. The new, General Motors-developed Hydra-Matic 9T50 nine-speed is paired with the available 2.0L Turbo engine in the Malibu, contributing to an EPA-estimated 33 mpg highway (7.12 l/100 km)—a 3% increase over the 2016 model with the eight-speed automatic.

The new nine-speed has a wider 7.6:1 overall ratio compared to the eight-speed transmission, with a “deep” 4.69 first gear that supports excellent off-the-line acceleration and a “tall” 0.62 top gear for low-rpm highway cruising. That balance optimizes acceleration and fuel economy and reduces engine noise during cruising.

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Toyota unveils new TNGA-based engines and transmissions and improved hybrid systems; deployment begins in 2017

In Japan, Toyota Motor Corporation unveiled new advanced engines and transmissions and further evolved hybrid systems based on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA). Toyota intends to deploy these new powertrain units in a rapidly broadening range of vehicle models, starting in 2017. The new units will feature in 60% or more of vehicles sold annually in Japan, United States, Europe and China in 2021, reducing CO2 emissions in those markets by 15% or more.

Within the five years to the end of 2021, Toyota plans to introduce 17 versions of nine new engines; 10 versions of four transmissions, including multi-geared automatic transmissions and a new kind of continuously variable transmission; and 10 versions of six hybrid systems.

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ORNL study finds even low penetration of CAVs delivers significant fuel economy benefits, but increases travel time slightly

December 01, 2016

A new study by a team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) suggests that low penetration rates of connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) can deliver significant fuel consumption benefits, but that the total travel time increases slightly. The study, presented presented at the 9th ACM SIGSPATIAL on Computational Transportation Science, also found that benefits in travel time increase with higher penetration rates of CAVs.

The study—one of the first that captures the impact of different penetration rates of CAVs on fuel consumption and travel time—builds off of earlier work done by the team of Jackeline Rios-Torres and Andreas Malikopoulos to develop an optimization framework and an analytical closed-form solution that addresses the problem of optimally coordinating connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) at merging roadways to achieve smooth traffic flow without stop-and-go driving. (Earlier post.)

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NREL report finds hydrogen fuel cell bus fuel economy up to 1.4x that of diesel, 1.9x CNG

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Fuel Cell Technology Office (FCTO) has released the latest edition of an annual report showing that the average fuel economy of fuel cell electric buses from three fleets is 6.8 miles per diesel gallon equivalent (DGE) (ranging from 5.56 - 7.71 DGE), 1.4 times higher than conventional diesel buses (~4.2 miles per DGE) from one fleet and up to 1.9 times higher than compressed natural gas buses (~3.3 miles per DGE) in another fleet.

This demonstrates significant fuel economy improvement toward the DOE and Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) target of 8 miles per DGE. FCEB durability has reached 23,000 hours, surpassing FCTO’s 2016 target of 18,000 hours, and range has reached up to 340 miles (547 km), more than 13% above the 2016 target of 300 miles (483 km).

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EPA proposes leaving light-duty vehicle GHG standards for MY 2022-2025 unchanged

November 30, 2016

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed leaving the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for light-duty vehicle model years 2022-2025 in place, based on its technical analysis that shows automakers are well positioned to meet the targets. The final standards are projected result in an average industry fleet-wide level of 163 grams/mile of CO2 in model year 2025, which is equivalent to 54.5 mpg (4.31 l/100 km), if achieved exclusively through fuel economy improvements.

As part of the rulemaking establishing the model year 2017-2025 light-duty vehicle GHG standards, EPA committed to conduct a Midterm Evaluation of standards for model years 2022-2025. The public comment period for this action begins today and will end on 30 December 2016. After the comment period has ended and consideration of the input, the Administrator will decide whether she has enough information to make a final determination on the model year 2022-2025 standards.

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Ford to offer cylinder deactivation for 1.0L EcoBoost in 2018; 6% fuel economy boost; global first for a 3-cylinder

Ford will offer the multi-award-winning 1.0‑liter EcoBoost gasoline engine with innovative cylinder deactivation technology for further reducing CO2 emissions and improving fuel efficiency by up to 6%. Ford had been investigating different cylinder deactivation approaches for the 1.0L EcoBoost in collaboration with the Schaeffler Group. (Earlier post.)

The 1.0L EcoBoost with cylinder deactivation will debut in early 2018, becoming the first production three-cylinder engine with that fuel-saving feature. The accomplishment is delivered through innovative engineering by Ford engineers across Europe, and counters industry opinion that a three-cylinder, variable capacity engine could not deliver the refinement needed for passenger car applications.

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Update on DOE Co-Optima project to co-optimize fuels & engines; goal of 30% per vehicle reduction in petroleum

November 28, 2016

In October 2015, the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) launched a broad, joint effort to co-optimize the development of efficient engines and low greenhouse-gas fuels for on-road vehicles with the goal of reducing petroleum consumption by 30% by 2030 beyond what is already targeted. (Earlier post.) The intended application is light-, medium-, and heavy-duty markets including hybrid architectures.

The Co-Optima project team, which is leveraging the technical contributions of nine of DOE’s 17 national laboratories, has grown to more than 130 researchers, according to Robert Wagner, Director of the Fuels, Engines, and Emissions Research Center at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and a member of the Co-Optima leadership team, in a briefing at the lab earlier this month. In August 2016, DOE announced funding of up to $7 million further to support the initiative.

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Volvo Cars’ 90 Series cars receive powertrain, safety and connectivity updates including Android Auto

November 23, 2016

Volvo Cars is updating its 90 series cars with new powertrain, safety and connectivity updates. The new Drive-E powertrain variants include a D3 4-cylinder diesel engine coupled to a new manual 6-speed transmission; estimated fuel economy is 4.3 l/100 km (54.7 mpg US) NEDC in the S90 with emissions down to 114 g/km CO2.

A new automatic 6-speed transmission coupled to the D3 will deliver 114 g/km CO2 and 4.3 l/100 km. The D3 will also now be available with All-Wheel Drive.

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ICCT: 2025 target average of 70 g/km CO2 for new cars in EU feasible and economical; more so with electric drive

November 22, 2016

A 2025 CO2 target of an average 70 g/km for new cars in the EU could be met with very little electrification and with an average payback period of less than 4 years, according to a new study by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). However, transitioning soon to electric drive could lower manufacturers’ compliance costs by as much as €500 (US$532) per vehicle in 2025.

Under current European Union regulations, average new car CO2 emissions must decrease from the present 120 grams per kilometer (g/km) to 95 g/km by 2021. Although no further reductions are presently mandated, new targets for 2025 and 2030 are under discussion in Brussels. In 2013 the European Parliament recommended an “indicative range” of 68–78 g/km for 2025, while holding out the possibility that even lower targets should be considered if justified.

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Qoros Auto unveils drivable engineering development car with QamFree engine; near +50% boost in power & torque, -15% fuel consumption

November 20, 2016

At the 2016 Guangzhou Auto Show, Qoros Auto introduced the first drivable engineering development car—a modified Qoros 3 hatchback—equipped with the QamFree engine featuring FreeValve’s Pneumatic-Hydraulic-Electric-Actuator (PHEA) technology. (Earlier post.) FreeValve AB is a sister company to Koenigsegg Automotive.

Qoros debuted the Qamfree engine with FreeValve technology in a concept car at the Beijing Motor Show in April 2016. “Called QamFree” in the Qoros application, FreeValve uses PHEA technology to replace the traditional camshaft-based method of controlling valve operation in an internal combustion engine. This results is much more precise and completely customizable control over valve duration and lift, on both the intake and exhaust sides.

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ICCT/TNO study: Real-world vehicle fuel consumption discrepancy widens to 42% in Europe

November 17, 2016

The average gap between official fuel consumption figures and actual fuel use for new cars in the EU has reached 42%, according to the latest update by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) to its on-going research into vehicle fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

Since 2001, the discrepancy between official measurements of vehicle efficiency and actual performance of new cars in everyday driving has more than quadrupled—a discrepancy that translates into €450 per year in extra fuel costs for the average vehicle. As a result, less than half of the on-paper reductions in CO2 emissions since 2001 have been realized in practice.

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Peloton in ARPA-E NEXTCAR project to cut HD truck fuel use by 20% with smart powertrains and platooning

November 15, 2016

Peloton Technology, a connected and automated vehicle technology company developing platooning technology for heavy-duty trucks (earlier post), is participating in the Next-Generation Energy Technologies for Connected and Autonomous On-Road Vehicles (NEXTCAR) program sponsored by the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). (Earlier post.)

The Peloton project, led by Purdue University (earlier post) will apply next-generation truck platooning technology and concepts for smart, cloud-connected powertrains to achieve 20% fuel savings for tractor-trailers.

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Study finds CO2 emissions trading more effective path to automotive CO2 reduction in Europe than tailpipe standards

November 11, 2016

A new study by researchers at MIT and colleagues in Europe has found that rather than adopting a standard for automotive fuel economy ratings, as the United States has done with its CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standards for many years, the EU could achieve the same results for CO2 emission reduction at far lower cost to the economy by simply extending their existing emissions-trading system to encompass transportation rather than just electricity generation and energy intensive industry.

The European Union (EU) recently adopted CO2 emissions mandates for new passenger cars, requiring steady reductions to 95 gCO2/km in 2021. Switching from the automotive standards to the trading scheme could save as much as €63 billion, says the study’s lead author Sergey Paltsev, deputy director at MIT’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change and senior research scientist at the MIT Energy Initiative. The results are published in the journal Transportation.

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Volkswagen unveils updated Golf; Millerized engines, semi-automated driving, digital cockpit and gesture control

November 10, 2016

Volkswagen presented a major update of the Golf in an event at the Autostadt in Wolfsburg. In addition to some design enhancements, the new Golf features new engines (including the Millerized 1.5L EA211 introduced at the Vienna Motor Symposium in April, earlier post), new assistance systems and a new generation of infotainment systems. As a world-first in the compact class, the top-of-the-range “Discover Pro” infotainment system can be operated by gesture control.

With its 9.2-inch screen it forms a conceptual and visual entity with the Active Info Display (digital instrument panel), which is also new to the Golf. (earlier post) The updated Golf is also one of the first compact cars to be available with semi-automated driving functions—the new Traffic Jam Assist function can guide the Golf at speeds of up to 60 km/h (37 mph) in strenuous stop-and-go traffic. It steers, brakes and accelerates the new Golf.

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Argonne study on optimizing gasoline compression ignition at idle and low loads

November 09, 2016

Gasoline compression ignition—i.e., igniting gasoline purely by compression, as with a diesel, rather by using a spark—is a promising, high-efficiency, low-temperature combustion mode that offers low engine-out NOx and soot. (Earlier post.) GCI, however, is challenged by stable idle- to low-load operation (i.e., 0-2 bar BMEP) because it is challenging to ignite the low-reactivity gasoline purely through compression.

One way to address that challenge is through optimizing the injection system and injection strategy to ensure that the air-fuel mixture maintains a high level of reactivity. A team from Argonne National Laboratory now reports in a paper published in the International Journal of Engine Research on the effects of injector nozzle inclusion angle, injection pressure, boost, and swirl ratio on gasoline compression ignition combustion.

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ORNL-led team developing breakthrough high-temperature, high-strength Al alloy for advanced light-duty engines

November 08, 2016

A team led by researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is developing a lower-cost cast aluminum (Al) alloy capable of at least a 50 ˚C temperature increase over the current cylinder head alloys 319 and 356 for use in light duty engines. The new alloy is also targeting a better than 25% increase in strength at 300 ˚C compared to the older alloys at 250 ˚C, as well as excellent hot tearing resistance.

The work, led by Dr. Amit Shyam at ORNL, is part of a 4-year project consisting of a CRADA partnership with FCA and foundry giant Nemak. (Earlier post.)

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Ricardo’s low-cost, fuel-efficient automatic transmission concept for motorcycles

November 07, 2016

Ricardo has developed and demonstrated an advanced and cost-effective motorcycle Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) concept that offers the comfort and convenience of automatic and semi-automatic operation with better-than-manual fuel efficiency.

Manual transmissions predominate in almost all non-scooter two-wheeler categories; automated alternatives can be expensive and bring efficiency penalties. BY contrast, the Ricardo concept avoids these drawbacks and is comparatively simple to integrate into an existing product range.

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SAE REX: PHEVs and REEVs could open door for advanced combustion regime engines

Increased market penetration of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and range-extended electric vehicles (REEVs) across vehicle segments could present an opportunity for emerging advanced combustion regime engines, such as those using various low-temperature combustion modes, according to a number of presentations at the SAE 2016 Range Extenders for Electric Vehicles Symposium held last week in Knoxville.

The REEV or PHEV also may present opportunities for more novel power sources such as turbines (Wrightspeed), fuel cell stacks (Nissan) or aluminum-air batteries (Phinergy and Arconic), speakers suggested. The REX symposium was sponsored by Mahle; the organizers were from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Mahle.

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ARPA-E awards $32M to 10 new projects to improve connected and automated vehicle efficiency

November 03, 2016

The Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) announced up to $32 million in funding for 10 innovative projects as part of the Next-Generation Energy Technologies for Connected and Autonomous On-Road Vehicles (NEXTCAR) program. (Earlier post.) With a goal of reducing individual vehicle energy usage by 20%, NEXTCAR projects will take advantage of the increasingly complex and connected systems in today’s—and tomorrow’s—cars and trucks to improve their energy efficiency.

Connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technology utilizes on-board or cloud-based sensors, data and computational capabilities to help a vehicle better process and react to its surrounding environment. This knowledge could include the location of stop signs and intersections, the actions of nearby vehicles, the location of congested areas, and much more. Currently, CAV technologies predominantly improve upon vehicle safety and add driving convenience. NEXTCAR projects will leverage these rapidly evolving technologies to greatly reduce vehicle energy use.

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Nissan introduces series-hybrid powertrain with Note e-POWER in Japan; small pack, small engine, LEAF motor, low price

November 02, 2016

In Japan, Nissan Motor introduced its new series-hybrid drive system called e-POWER along with its application in the Note. This marks the first availability of e-POWER technology for consumers, marking a milestone in the electrification strategy under Nissan Intelligent Mobility.

e-POWER borrows from the EV technology in the Nissan LEAF. Unlike the all-battery-electric powertrain of the LEAF, e-POWER adds a small gasoline engine to charge the high-output battery when necessary, eliminating the need for an external charger while offering the same high-output. Nissan says that although e-POWER uses a much smaller battery than the LEAF (1.5 kWh vs 30 kWh), it delivers the same driving experience as a full EV.

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Ricardo’s “deep” Miller cycle concept: Magma

November 01, 2016

In its new report on downsized and boosted gasoline engine technologies (earlier post) the ICCT highlighted Ricardo’s work on an “extreme” Miller cycle concept with high (13:1) compression ratio (CR) and central direct injection in a downsized boosted engine.

The basic architecture of “Magma” concept is a boosted four-stroke gasoline engine with four valves per cylinder. The Magma concept architecture closes the inlet valve early to reduce pumping losses. A mechanical supercharger and fixed-geometry turbocharger fill cylinders effectively. A long exhaust stroke then extracts maximum efficiency.

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ICCT-led analysis of turbocharged, downsized engine tech finds lower costs and greater benefits than 2012 EPA/NHTSA analysis; 48V, e-boost, Miller

October 31, 2016

A new white paper published by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), in collaboration with Eaton, Ricardo, JCI, BorgWarner, Honeywell, and the ITB Group, analyzes current turbocharged, downsized gasoline engine technology developments and trends.

The assessment, which relies on data from publicly available sources and data and information from the participating automotive suppliers, provides an update to the technology assessments performed by US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to inform the 2017–2025 fuel economy and GHG rule.

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Mercedes-Benz powering ahead with €3B strategic engine initiative; increasing electrification, 48V; diesel and gasoline; cylinder deactivation

October 30, 2016

Following the launch of the new Mercedes-Benz four-cylinder OM 654 diesel engine in spring 2016 in the E 220d (earlier post), 2017 will see the addition of four more members to the all-new family of engines: six-cylinder in-line engines in both diesel (OM 656) and gasoline (M 256) versions; a new four-cylinder gasoline engine (M 264); and a new biturbo V8 (M 176) with cylinder deactivation. Mercedes-Benz is investing a total of around €3 billion (US$3.3 billion) in its strategic engine initiative.

The scaling of state-of-the-art technologies and electrification options from 12 V to 48 V to high-voltage plug-in applications makes it possible to configure the appropriate powertrain for every vehicle. There will be world premieres for new advanced technologies, such as the Integrated Starter-Alternator (ISG); the 48 V electrical system; and the electric auxiliary compressor (eZV).

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MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 plug-in hybrid on sale in June 2017

October 26, 2016

MINI has officially unveiled the MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4, the brand’s first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, as one of the three variants of the new MINI Countryman. (Earlier post.) All three of the new MINI Countryman variants will make their World Premiere at the Los Angeles International Auto Show at a press conference on 16 November.

Propulsion is shared between a 134 hp (100 kW) 3-cylinder gasoline engine and a 65 kW synchronous electric motor. Together they produce a system output of 221 hp (165 kW) with system torque of 385 N·m (284 lb-ft). Average fuel consumption on the EU test cycle for plug-in hybrid vehicles is 112 mpg US, with CO2 emissions of 49 grams per kilometer; 0–62 mph time is 6.9 seconds.

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Japan researchers successfully synthesize new lightweight thermoelectric material

October 25, 2016

Researchers at the Materials Function Control Laboratory at the Toyohashi University of Technology and the Nagoya Institute of Technology have successfully synthesized a new thermoelectric material, CaMgSi, an intermetallic compound. The key to this development was the synthesis procedure; bulk CaMgSi intermetallic compound was synthesized by combining mechanical ball-milling (MM) and pulse current sintering (PCS) processes.

The new thermoelectric material is lightweight, with a low density of 2.2 g/cm3. One of the possible applications of the material is in automobiles to utilize waste heat emitted from engines, the research team suggested. A paper on the work is published in the Journal of Alloys and Compounds.

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2017 Audi A3 replaces 1.8L with Millerized 2.0L TFSI; better fuel economy, power and torque

The 2017 Audi A3 Sedan and Cabriolet models in the US are now available with Audi’s more efficient Millerized 2.0-liter TFSI engine (earlier post) and seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission. The A3 sedan with 2.0-liter engine replaces the 1.8-liter engine previously offered on A3 front-wheel drive models.

This new 2.0-liter engine offers an increase of 16 hp and 21 lb-ft of torque compared to the previous generation A3 1.8T, along with EPA-estimated combined cycle fuel economy of 29 mpg (8.1 l/100km), compared to an EPA-rated 27 mpg (8.7 l/100 km) from the 2016 A3 with the 1.8-liter engine (a 7.4% improvement).

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Divergent 3D partners with Altran to deploy 3D printing for car manufacturing

Divergent 3D, a manufacturing technology company focused on the automotive sector, has entered into a global development partnership with engineering research and development (ER&D) firm Altran. The partnership comes shortly following Divergent 3D’s signing a strategic partnership letter of intent with top-ten global automaker PSA Group. Divergent 3D is commercializing a software-hardware platform for manufacturing that leverages 3D metal printing.

Under the agreement, Altran has invested in Divergent 3D and will provide support to accelerate implementation and licensing of its manufacturing technology platform across the continent as part of Altran’s new vehicle architecture initiatives. Together, the companies intend to help automakers leverage 3D printing to unleash design innovation while cutting costs, time-to-market and environmental impact.

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Honda Clarity Fuel Cell EPA-rated with 366-mile range; longest of any ZEV

October 24, 2016

The Honda Clarity Fuel Cell sedan (earlier post), launching later this year, received an EPA driving range rating of 366 miles (589 km) and fuel economy rating of 68 mpg of gasoline-equivalent combined, giving it the best range rating of any electric vehicle without a combustion engine, including fuel cell and all-electric vehicles, in the United States.

Honda will introduce the new 5-passenger, hydrogen-powered Clarity Fuel Cell sedan by the end of 2016, beginning with retail leasing to customers through its expanded network of 12 approved fuel cell vehicle dealerships located in select California markets.

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Continental puts first 48V hybrid assist system into production with Renault diesels

October 21, 2016

From the end of 2016, diesel variants of the Renault Scénic and Grand Scénic models will be equipped with Continental’s 48-volt hybrid drive—the first application of the 48V “Hybrid Assist” in production vehicles.

The first production solution combines an efficient, water-cooled induction motor with an integrated inverter. The electric motor transmits power via a belt drive directly to the crankshaft of the combustion engine—an arrangement referred to as “P0 topology.” Further production ramp-ups are soon to be set in motion on the basis of a modular system for 48-volt drives.

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2017 Audi Q7 now available with 2.0-liter TFSI turbo-charged four-cylinder engine; lower entry point to premium SUV

October 20, 2016

Audi of America is offering a new 2.0-liter TFSI four-cylinder engine on 2017 Audi Q7 models. This new model, when equipped with the 2.0-liter engine, is half a second faster on the 0-60 mph sprint; nearly 500 pounds lighter; and up to 22% more fuel-efficient than the previous generation Q7 3.0T V6.

With the 2.0 TFSI, Audi is creating a value proposition that makes entry into the luxury full-size SUV more accessible. The starting MSRP ($49,000) (Premium trim) is $5,800 below the current entry point of $54,800 for the Premium 3.0 TFSI; pricing for the 2.0L Premium Plus trim starts at $53,000 ($1,800 below the current entry point and $5,800 below the Premium Plus 3.0 TFSI). The specifications of the 2.0- and 3.0-liter engined cars are virtually the same except for the engine; the inlays which are a mix of aluminum and wood on the lower and upper dash vs all wood; and 18-inch wheels instead of 19-inch wheels.

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Daimler Buses to offer electrohydraulic power steering to reduce fuel consumption

October 19, 2016

Daimler Buses will offer electrohydraulic power steering (EHPS) to reduce fuel consumption in coming bus models. The fully integrated system replaces the conventional power steering pumps used currently in all buses with a gross weight of more than 7.5 t.

Conventional hydraulic power steering (HPS) is driven directly by the internal combustion engine via belts or gear trains with a fixed gear ratio which results in a pump speed that is directly proportional to the engine speed. To provide sufficient power for the steering in every situation, the pump must be able to deliver the full volumetric flow rate even when the engine speed is low—meaning that it is over-dimensioned for most operating situations. For this reason, higher engine speeds require a restriction of the volumetric flow rate by means of a bypass, which, however, entails unnecessary losses.

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NASA to test in-flight folding spanwise adaptive wing (SAW) to enhance aircraft efficiency; advanced actuators

October 18, 2016

NASA is developing and validating a system that will allow part of an aircraft’s wing to fold in flight to increase efficiency through wing adaptation.

Engineers at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California, Langley Research Center in Virginia, and Glenn Research Center in Ohio, are working on the Spanwise Adaptive Wing concept, or SAW. The concept would permit the outboard portions of the wings to move to the optimal position during operation. This could increase efficiency by reducing drag and increasing lift and performance.

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Aeristech develops advanced 12V electric supercharger

October 14, 2016

UK-based electric forced induction specialist, Aeristech, has developed an advanced 12V electric supercharger system, eCharger. The new system makes use of Aeristech’s motor control technology to derive maximum pressure charging utility from the power available in conventional 12V vehicle architectures. The company introduced a 48V electric supercharger capable of continuous operation at high boost levels in 2015. (Earlier post.)

Designed to provide transient boost to support traditional mechanical forced induction systems, the 12V architecture enables the system to be integrated into existing driveline technologies. The product is currently in development, with validation testing set to begin in November 2016 and prototypes available for customer trials from January 2017.

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BMW unveils Gen7 5 Series; more efficient gasoline and diesel units; plug-in hybrid 530e in 2017

October 13, 2016

BMW has unveiled the seventh generation of the BMW 5 Series Sedan, which will go on-sale in markets around the world in February 2017. The 5 Series has been a major hit for BMW, selling 7.6 million units since its first introduction in 1972. Further enhanced dynamics, assistance systems, connectivity and a new and innovative operating system are important new features in the latest generation, in addition to the new, more efficient powertrains.

The new 5 Series features TwinPower Turbo gasoline and diesel engines from the modular BMW EfficientDynamics family of power units. Two diesel engines and two gasoline variants will be available from launch, working in tandem with either rear-wheel drive or BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive. In March 2017, a BMW 5 Series Sedan with plug-in hybrid drive system—the BMW 530e iPerformance—will join the line-up, offering extremely low CO2 emissions of just 46 g/km (2.0 l/100 km), based on the EU test cycle. System output is 185 kW/252 hp.

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VanDyne SuperTurbo and Allison Transmission collaborating to maximize benefits of downspeeding, supercharging and turbo compounding

October 12, 2016

VanDyne SuperTurbo Inc. and Allison Transmission Inc. are collaborating to co-develop a vehicle demonstrator. The companies plan to leverage the unique performance benefits of VanDyne’s mechanically driven turbocharger in combination with Allison’s TC10 transmission in a Class 8 tractor.

Through the deployment of advanced control techniques, the two technologies will maximize the benefits of engine downspeeding, efficient supercharging and turbo compounding. The primary objective of the collaboration is to demonstrate how these two products, when paired with an intelligently controlled vehicle, can reduce carbon dioxide emissions and improve fuel efficiency without sacrificing performance.

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PSA Group, NGOs T&E and FNE, and Bureau Veritas publish their protocol for measuring real-world fuel consumption

October 11, 2016

Following the official release of real-world fuel consumption figures for 30 Peugeot, Citroën and DS models in July 2016, the PSA Group; the NGOs Transport & Environment (T&E) and France Nature Environnement (FNE); and Bureau Veritas are fulfilling their commitments and publishing the test protocol, as well as a spreadsheet tool.

The protocol for measuring real-world fuel consumption defines the means (necessary equipment) and methods (measurement and processing) that should be systematically applied to calculate the average real-life fuel consumption of the average customer. The protocol, which is valid for Europe, is carried out in three stages:

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Testing confirms Torotrak V-Charge variable drive mechanical supercharger enables more ambitious downsizing; 1.0L demo at Aachen

October 10, 2016

Independent on-engine test results have verified the simulation predictions that a Torotrak V-Charge variable drive mechanical supercharger enables more ambitious levels of engine downsizing. Compared to a current 1.5L GTDI engine producing 240 N·m torque, a 1.0L GTDI engine of the same Ford EcoBoost family outperformed the 1.5L version when fitted with a V-Charge unit.

The tests were carried out by the University of Bath Powertrain and Vehicle Research Centre (PVRC), using a Ford 1.0L EcoBoost engine, in a part-government funded program. The 1.0L engine with V-Charge delivered 250 N·m (184 lb-ft) torque, corresponding to a BMEP (Brake Mean Effective Pressure) of 31 bar.

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Navistar SuperTruck demo vehicle CatalIST exceeds DOE freight efficiency goal; 50.3% BTE, path to 55%

October 02, 2016

Navistar unveiled its innovative SuperTruck demonstration vehicle, CatalIST, which has achieved a freight efficiency improvement of 104% compared to the control vehicle, exceeding the improvement goal set by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for the SuperTruck program. In addition, the Navistar vehicle has achieved fuel efficiency of 13 miles per gallon, and demonstrated 50.3% Brake Thermal Efficiency (BTE) and a path towards 55% BTE.

The last three letters of the vehicle’s name, the CatalIST, stand for “International SuperTruck,” referencing the company’s International commercial truck brand. The CatalIST concept underscores the company’s conviction that the innovations achieved through the program will serve as the catalyst for significant improvements in future commercial vehicles.

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Infiniti unveils I4 Variable Compression Turbo engine; targeting 27% improvement in fuel efficiency over V6 engines of similar output

September 30, 2016

At the Paris Motor Show, Infiniti unveiled the new VC-Turbo (Variable Compression Turbo)—the first production-ready variable compression ratio engine. (Earlier post.) VC-Turbo technology combines the power of a high-performance 2.0-liter turbo gasoline engine with the torque and efficiency of an advanced diesel powertrain without the equivalent emissions.

Transforming on demand, Infiniti’s VC-Turbo technology uses an advanced multi-link system to raise or to lower the reach of the pistons, detecting the car’s driving condition and driver inputs, and instantly selecting the most suitable compression ratio. The engine is able to offer any compression ratio between 8:1 (for high performance) and 14:1 (for high efficiency).

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New ICCT study identifies significant potential to reduce aviation fuel consumption by up to 40% by 2034

September 27, 2016

A new report from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) identifies significant potential to reduce aviation emissions through emerging fuel efficiency technologies.

The study summarizes the results of the first independent, bottom-up cost assessment of near- (2024) and mid-term (2034) technologies to improve new aircraft fuel efficiency. Carried out in cooperation with a panel of top technical experts and consultants using NASA and DoD-approved models to evaluate aviation technology programs, the study concludes that the rate of fuel efficiency improvement for new aircraft can be more than doubled through 2034, from about 1% today to 2.2% annually, by the adoption of cost effective technologies to improve engine efficiency, reduce aerodynamic drag, and trim aircraft empty weight.

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Chevrolet introduces 2018 Equinox SUV with turbo diesel option in N. America

September 23, 2016

Chevrolet has introduced the all-new 2018 Equinox compact SUV with a choice of three turbocharged engines—including the segment’s first turbo-diesel in North America. The choices are a 1.5L turbo, a 2.0L turbo—matched with GM’s new nine-speed automatic transmission—and a 1.6L turbo-diesel.

The new Equinox is the first Chevrolet model in North America to use an all-turbocharged, multi-engine powertrain lineup. The 2018 Equinox goes on sale in the first quarter of 2017 in North America and rolls out to approximately 115 additional global markets later in the year.

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DEKRA-certified tests: Mercedes-Benz HD trucks cut fuel consumption 22% in 20 years while meeting more stringent emissions rules; VECTO

September 22, 2016

Despite drastically more stringent emission standards for nitrogen oxides and particulates, the fuel consumption of Mercedes-Benz heavy trucks has been reduced by 22% over the last 20 years, according to the results of a comparative test drive certified by the test organization DEKRA.

The August 2016 testing by commercial vehicle magazine Lastauto Omnibus (LaO) compared the latest generation of the Mercedes-Benz Actros long-distance truck compared to the basic model of 1996—a Mercedes-Benz from the SK model series and therefore one of the last representatives of the pre-Actros era. The model 1844 was certified according to the Euro II standard valid in 1996, and was therefore allowed to emit 7 grams of NOx per kilowatt hour (kWh) while staying within the limiting value of 0.15 g/kWh for particulate matter. The number and size of the soot and other particles was not prescribed.

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Cummins introduces next-gen X-series Euro 6 engines; up to 605 hp

At the IAA Show in Germany, Cummins Inc. revealed the next generation X Series for heavy-duty truck applications with 15-liter and 12-liter displacements to meet Euro 6 (VI) and equivalent emissions standards as they become globally adopted from 2019 onward.

Across a broad 350 hp to 605 hp (260-451 kW) range, the X Series introduces an innovative approach to duty-cycle optimization with a medium-bore X12 engine and two big-bore configurations, available as the X15 Efficiency Series and the X15 Performance Series.

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Bentley introduces its first diesel: Bentayga Diesel with 48V system & electric supercharger

Bentley Motors has introduced its first diesel model: the Bentayga Diesel SUV. At its core is an all-new, technologically advanced, triple-charged, 4.0-liter, 32-valve V8 engine. Developing 435 PS (429 bhp) and 900 N·m (664 lb. ft.) of torque, the Bentayga Diesel hits a top speed of 270 km/h (168 mph) and can accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 4.8 seconds (0-60 mph in 4.6 seconds). Peak torque is available from very early in the rev range (just 1,000 rpm).

The Bentayga Diesel, equipped with a start-stop system, has the lowest CO2 emissions of any Bentley (210 g/km), as well as a range of more than 1,000 km (621 miles)—allowing owners to, for example, drive from London to Verbier, Bordeaux or the Scottish Highlands on a single tank.

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Ford showcases Transit line-up powered by new Ford EcoBlue diesel at Hannover; 6-speed auto, AWD and SYNC 3

September 21, 2016

Ford is showcasing the latest Transit and Transit Custom line-up powered by the Ford EcoBlue diesel engine (earlier post) at 2016 IAA Hannover Commercial Vehicle Show.

The 2.0-liter Ford EcoBlue engine powers every vehicle displayed on Ford’s Hannover stand, and provides commercial vehicle operators with fuel efficiency improved by up to 13% compared with the outgoing 2.2-liter TDCi engine, with CO2 emissions from 157 g/km. EcoBlue also delivers significant improvements in low-rpm torque for enhanced driveability.

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CALSTART survey of major auto suppliers finds 70% don’t want US to change CAFE targets; split on amount of electrification needed

September 15, 2016

Major automotive suppliers see national fuel economy standards as important for long-term planning and investment and don’t want to see them altered by US policymakers, according to a first-of-its-kind industry survey commissioned by CALSTART and conducted by Ricardo Energy & Environment.

The firm polled and interviewed 23 suppliers, almost all of them global Tier 1 suppliers that sell parts directly to automakers. According to the survey:

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Volvo Trucks SuperTruck demonstrator improves freight efficiency by 88%, fuel efficiency by 70%

Volvo Trucks North America unveiled an innovative SuperTruck demonstrator whose combination of advanced aerodynamics, vehicle and powertrain technologies achieved a freight efficiency improvement of 88%—exceeding the 50% improvement goal set by the US Department of Energy (DOE) Supertruck I program.

The sleek tractor-trailer combination boosted fuel efficiency by 70%—exceeding 12 mpg, with some test runs showing more than 13 mpg—in road tests, and powertrain brake thermal efficiency reached 50%.

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Jaguar Land Rover expanding Ingenium powertrain family; new gasoline engine, TRANSCEND transmission

September 12, 2016

This week, Jaguar Land Rover will expand its Ingenium powertrain family (earlier post), unveiling new technologies for both current and future vehicles. The new additions will support the company’s long-term commitment to reduce vehicle emissions and improve fuel economy across its range through the introduction of more efficient engines along with alternative powertrains, lighter vehicles and improved vehicle energy conservation.

At the heart of its low-emissions strategy, the new four-cylinder Ingenium gasoline engine is now in production at Jaguar Land Rover’s £1-billion (US$1.33-billion) Engine Manufacturing Centre. Designed, engineered and manufactured in the UK, these engines will deliver up to 25% more power than the engines they replace and offer fuel consumption reductions of up to 15%.

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Nissan introducing Rogue Hybrid model for 2017; one-motor, two-clutch system

September 10, 2016

The newly announced 2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid, the latest addition to the popular Rogue crossover lineup, offers a second powertrain choice for Rogue buyers for the 2017 model year in both FWD and AWD applications. Like the MY2017 2.5-liter inline 4-cylinder gasoline engine-equipped standard Rogue models, the Rogue Hybrid offers freshened exterior and interior styling, additional safety, security and driving aid technology and a wide range of standard and available comfort, convenience and utility features. Rogue Hybrid will join the lineup by the end of 2016.

The 2017 Rogue Hybrid produces projected fuel economy of 33 mpg city, 35 mpg highway and 34 mpg combined (estimated) (7.12, 6.71 and 6.91 l/100km respectively) for the front-wheel drive model. Rogue Hybrid all-wheel drive models are projected at 31 mpg city, 34 mpg highway and 33 mpg combined (estimated) (7.58, 6.91 and 7.12 l/100km, respectively). Rogue Hybrid does so with virtually no compromise of performance, interior roominess or cargo space (compared to standard Rogue models).

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Torotrak to present extreme engine downsizing solution at Dresden supercharging conference

September 08, 2016

At the 21st Supercharging Conference in Dresden next week, Torotrak Group will present results from engine testing that verify previous claims for V-Charge, a variable drive mechanical supercharger.

In comparison with the incumbent fixed-ratio positive-displacement supercharger on a 1.0L GTDI engine, V-Charge achieved improved BSFC (brake specific fuel consumption), better transient performance and a maximum BMEP (brake mean effective pressure) of 31 bar.

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Kia introducing its first FWD 8-speed automatic

September 06, 2016

Kia Motors has revealed some details of its advanced new eight-speed automatic transmission (8AT), engineered for use in front-wheel drive vehicles.

Kia developed the new front-wheel drive 8AT (FWD 8AT) in-house; the new FWD 8AT occupies the same space as a conventional six-speed automatic transmission, and weighs 3.5 kg less. Under development since 2012, the development program for the breakthrough transmission led Kia to patent 143 new technologies to ensure a high level of performance and efficiency in a compact structure.

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Study finds isopropanol-n-butanol-ethanol and gasoline blend viable as alternative fuel

September 05, 2016

Researchers from the University of Illinois and colleagues in China investigating the performance, combustion and emission characteristics of a port fuel-injection SI engine fueled with isopropanol-n-butanol-ethanol (IBE)-gasoline blends have concluded that an IBE30 blend could be a good alternative to gasoline.

Bio-n-butanol itself is a promising alternative fuel, produced conventionally from the fermentation of carbohydrates by Clostridium bacteria in a well-established process referred to as ABE fermentation, after its major chemical products: acetone, butanol and ethanol. However, ABE fermentation production suffers from relatively low production efficiency as well as the high cost of component recovery; the product mixture typically has an A:B:E ratio of 3:6:1.

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Daimler Trucks NA presents new Class 8 Freightliner Cascadia with fuel efficiency improved up to 8%

September 02, 2016

Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) has presented its new heavy-duty truck flagship: the new Freightliner Cascadia.

When developing the new Cascadia, the engineers set a priority goal of achieving significant fuel savings. A fresh, aerodynamic shape with dozens of new updates and advanced powertrain components contribute to increased fuel efficiency by up to 8% over a 2016 Cascadia Evolution. One key benefit of the new Cascadia is its integrated powertrain. Unlike in Europe, it is quite common in the North American commercial vehicle market that the customer has third party aggregates in its trucks.

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Cummins and Peterbilt to team up on SuperTruck II

September 01, 2016

Cummins will partner with Peterbilt Motors Company, a division of PACCAR to develop and demonstrate technologies under the US Department of Energy (DOE) SuperTruck II program. (Earlier post.)

For SuperTruck II, the Cummins–Peterbilt team will focus on breakthrough advances in Class 8 vehicle freight efficiency technologies that are cost-effective enough to be used in everyday real-world applications. Building on the solid foundation of SuperTruck I, Cummins will develop and demonstrate 55% or greater engine Brake Thermal Efficiency (BTE) at a 65 mph cruise condition and the full team will demonstrate a greater than 100% improvement in vehicle Freight-Ton Economy (FTE) over the 2009 baseline vehicle.

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Bosch more broadly commercializing water injection system; up to 13% fuel savings under some conditions

Bosch is now more broadly commercializing its water injection system for turbocharged engines (earlier post). Bosch currently supplies water injection parts for the BMW M4 GTS—the first production vehicle to feature a water injection system. (Earlier post.) In the vehicle’s turbocharged six-cylinder engine, it offers improved performance and consumption even at full load.

Bosch’s WI 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. Particularly when accelerating quickly or driving on the freeway, the injection of additional water makes it possible to reduce fuel consumption by as much as 13% in highway conditions and 4% in normal driving (WLTC).

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Volvo Group selected to participate in DOE’s SuperTruck II Program; 55% BTE

August 31, 2016

Under a SuperTruck II award announced by the US Department of Energy (DOE) (earlier post), Volvo Group North America is scheduled to receive $20 million in federal funding that it will use to improve the freight-moving efficiency of heavy-duty trucks. The Volvo Group and its partners will match the development funds dollar-for-dollar.

The Volvo Group’s team of researchers and engineers will use alternative engine designs and an integrated system approach to build a lightweight tractor-trailer concept that exceeds the freight efficiency goal of 100% improvement on a ton-mile-per-gallon basis compared with a 2009 baseline. The team also will demonstrate a powertrain capable of 55% brake thermal efficiency.

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XL Hybrids awarded DOE Small Business Vouchers Pilot; testing of first diesel/XL3 combo at Argonne

August 30, 2016

XL Hybrids, Inc. has been awarded test funding from the US Department of Energy (DOE) Small Business Vouchers Pilot (SBV). Testing validation and analysis of its XL3 Hybrid Electric Drive System for Reach walk-in commercial vans will be performed at Argonne National Laboratory. The goal of the SBV-funded project is to overcome specific technical challenges, the company said.

The Reach van from Utilimaster is a high-roof Class 3 delivery van that comes with a standard 151.4 inch wheelbase and the high efficiency 3.0L, 150 hp, Isuzu DOHC I-4 diesel engine. The XL3 hybrid system is available on the Reach van with 2,500 pounds payload capacity with the XL3 system installed. (Hybrid system weight is 385 lbs / 175 kg.)

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Select truck fleets boosted fuel economy 3% in 2015 compared to national Class 8 average

August 28, 2016

Seventeen trucking fleets operating more than 62,000 tractors and 217,000 trailers recorded a 3% increase in fuel economy in 2015, saving an accumulative $501 million on fuel when compared to the 2015 national average fuel spend of 1.7 million over-the-road class 8 trucks. They achieved these gains by purchasing a variety of fuel efficiency technologies, according to the Annual Fleet Fuel Study released by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE).

As a result of these investments, fleet-wide mpg increased from 6.87 to 7.06 in 2015, the largest margin of improvement in eight years of consecutive improvements. The trade cycle for these fleets is a little over five years, meaning that the new trucks are about 16% more efficient than the 2010 model year trucks they replaced.

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USDOT proposes speed limiters for large commercial vehicles; potential savings up to ~$1B in fuel each year depending on limit

August 26, 2016

The US Department of Transportation’s (DOT’s) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) are proposing equipping heavy-duty vehicles with devices that limit their speeds on US roadways, and requiring those devices be set to a maximum speed, a safety measure that could save lives and more than $1 billion in fuel costs each year.

Specifically, NHTSA is proposing to establish a new Federal motor vehicle safety standard (FMVSS) requiring that each new multipurpose passenger vehicle, truck, bus and school bus with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 11,793.4 kilograms (26,000 pounds) be equipped with a speed limiting device.

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2017 Audi A4 ultra with Millerized 2.0 TFSI offers 31 mpg combined; highest EPA-estimated fuel economy in competitive segment

August 17, 2016

Audi’s 2017 A4 ultra leverages the Millerized 2.0-liter TFSI engine (earlier post) to achieve 27 mpg (8.7 l/100 km) city, 37 mpg (6.35 l/100 km) highway, and 31 mpg (7.58 l/100 km) combined EPA-estimated fuel economy. No other luxury sedan in its non-hybrid competitive segment offers higher EPA-estimated city or highway mileage.

The efficiency of the 2.0 TFSI is the result of Audi’s Millerized combustion method with shorter compression and longer expansion phases as well as increased compression. 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), and results in a smaller effective compression stroke; combustion and expansion proceed normally.

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DOE to award up to $137M for SuperTruck II, Vehicle Technology Office programs

August 16, 2016

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will invest up to $137 million in two programs, subject to appropriations, to develop next-generation technologies that will support industry in going beyond the newly announced Phase II standard for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (earlier post) and also accelerating technology advances for passenger cars and light trucks.

One initiative, SuperTruck II (earlier post), will award $80 million to four projects to develop and to demonstrate cost-effective technologies that more than double the freight efficiency of Class 8 trucks. Through the other initiative, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Vehicle Technologies Office Program Wide Funding Opportunity Announcement (earlier post)selections, 35 new projects will receive $57 million to develop and deploy a wide array of cutting-edge vehicle technologies, including advanced batteries and electric drive systems, to reduce carbon emissions and petroleum consumption in passenger cars and light trucks.

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EPA and DOT issue final Phase 2 GHG and fuel efficiency rulemaking for medium- and heavy-duty trucks

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) jointly released the finalized Phase 2 greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks.

The product of four years of testing and research and outreach to industry, environmental organizations, labor unions, and other stakeholders, the vehicle and engine performance standards will 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. These standards will result in significant GHG emissions reductions and fuel efficiency improvements across all of these vehicle types. For example, when the standards are fully phased in, tractors in a tractor-trailer will achieve up to 25% lower CO2 emissions and fuel consumption than an equivalent tractor in 2018.

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Infiniti introducing production-ready variable compression ratio engine at Paris Motor Show

August 15, 2016

Infiniti will introduce a production-ready variable compression ratio engine VC-T (Variable Compression-Turbocharged) at the 2016 Paris Motor Show (Mondial de l’Automobile) in September. Infiniti said that the new four-cylinder turbocharged gasoline VC-T engine has been in development for more than 20 years. (Nissan was awarded a patent in 1995 on compression ratio control for an engine.)

Interest in variable compression engines stretches back more than 40 years. In a 1976 SAE paper, Grundy et al. described the Teledyne Continental Motors (TCM) AVCR 1360-2 variable compression ratio (VCR) diesel engine, the culmination of fifteen years of VCR piston and high specific output research. Two main types of variable compression ratio systems have been proposed over the years: continuous and two-stage.

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CALSTART white paper shows nationwide tech supplier industry ready to support more efficient heavy-duty trucks and buses

August 12, 2016

A new high-level white-paper from clean transportation industry group CALSTART shows that US companies that develop and manufacture high-efficiency, low-carbon technologies for heavy-duty vehicles are ready to support more efficient trucks and buses.

In a first attempt to gauge the scope of the United States’ high-efficiency technology supplier sector for heavy-duty trucks and buses, CALSTART conducted an initial scan of businesses and identified and mapped 255 companies. The firms range from vehicle manufacturers to component suppliers to technology developers, and operate from 535 facilities in 40 states, impacting 80% of the nation.

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Argonne team discovers self-regenerating DLC tribofilm

August 05, 2016

Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory have discovered an ultra-durable, self-lubricating tribofilm that regenerates in the presence of oil, heat, and pressure—meaning that it will not wear away over the life of an engine. The film, reported yesterday in the journal Nature, develops when a new catalytic coating that can be applied to engine parts interacts with lubricating oil to create an extremely tough coating that almost eliminates wear.

Tests revealed the diamond-like carbon (DLC) tribofilm reduced friction by 25-40% and that wear was reduced to unmeasurable values. The discovery could have implications for the efficiency and durability of future engines and other moving metal parts that can be made to develop self-healing DLC tribofilms.

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Survey: Fuel efficiency top criterion for US buyers regardless of size of vehicle; good news for start-stop

August 03, 2016

American consumers are strongly influenced by fuel efficiency and the price of gas when purchasing a vehicle, according to a new survey conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation on behalf of Johnson Controls. Of the 1,006 people surveyed, fuel efficiency (57%) is top of mind for consumers when they go to buy any size automobile, followed closely by cost (55%) and safety (54%).

That preference is consistent with a similar survey conducted five years ago, despite falling gas prices, which are down more than 37% from the national average in 2011. The new survey also found consumers are sensitive to the price of fuel when considering a new vehicle, with 64% saying it directly impacts their purchase. This is up 14% from 2011.

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UPS hits target of 1 billion alternative-fueled miles one year early

August 02, 2016

UPS has achieved its goal of driving 1 billion miles in its alternative fuel and advanced technology fleet one year earlier than planned, and marked more than 10 years of learning from its “Rolling Laboratory” of now more than 7,200 alternative fuel vehicles.

UPS’ long-term commitment to sustainability is transforming commercial transportation and logistics, spurring growth in the clean fuels market and enabling critical engineering advances. The company’s wider sustainability progress is detailed in the newly released 14th annual Sustainability Report.

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DOE to award $7M to accelerate fuel and engine co-optimization technologies; Co-Optima initiative

August 01, 2016

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award up to $7 million in project funding to accelerate the introduction of affordable, scalable, and sustainable high-performance fuels for use in high-efficiency, low-emission engines as part of the Co-Optimization of Fuels and Engines (Co-Optima) initiative. (Earlier post.)

Co-optimized fuels and engines offer the opportunity to build on decades of advancements in both fuels and engines. Groundbreaking research in the last 10 years has identified combustion engine strategies that—especially if optimized to run on new fuels—would offer significantly higher efficiency and produce fewer engine-out pollutants than current engines. The new funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0001461) will advance the long-term objective of the Co-Optima initiative to accelerate widespread deployment of significantly improved fuels and vehicles (from passenger to light truck to heavy-duty commercial vehicles) by 2030.

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TÜM study finds reduction in fuel consumption from eco-driving training, even with incentives, to be fleeting

A study of the persistence of effects of eco-driving training by a team from Technische Universität München has found that, while there is an immediate reduction of the average fuel consumption following eco-driving training along with the provision of an incentive, there is an attenuation of this effect after six months.

Further, they also found no impact on fuel consumption from purely theoretical eco-driving training—i.e., without incentives—either short-term or long-term. A paper describing their study is published in the journal Energy Policy.

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California releases Sustainable Freight Action Plan to transform freight system; 25% more efficient by 2030

July 30, 2016

In response to an Executive Order issued last year by California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., state agency leaders on Friday released the California Sustainable Freight Action Plan, a comprehensive document that serves as a blueprint for transforming the state’s multi-billion dollar freight transport system into one that is environmentally cleaner, more efficient, and more economically competitive than it is today.

The revised document is similar to the draft version issued in May 2016, but reflects new input provided by industry, labor, regional and local government, and community and environmental group stakeholders, who submitted more than 85 comments on the draft plan.

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Argonne National Laboratory to lead US consortium for new CERC medium- and heavy-duty truck technical track; 50% boost in efficiency

July 23, 2016

The US Department of Energy (DOE) selected Argonne National Laboratory to lead a consortium of university, private sector and national laboratory partners for a new, medium- and heavy-duty truck technical track under the US-China Clean Energy Research Center (CERC) Truck Research Utilizing Collaborative Knowledge (TRUCK) program.

The multidisciplinary consortium includes Cummins Inc.; Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation; Ohio State University; Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Purdue University; and the University of Michigan. The program will address cost-effective measures to improve on-road freight efficiency of medium- and heavy-duty trucks by greater than 50% compared to today’s vehicles.

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EPA, NHTSA & ARB Draft TAR finds MY 2022-2025 LD fuel and GHG standards can be met largely with more efficient gasoline-powered cars

July 18, 2016

The US EPA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and California Air Resources Board (ARB) have released the Draft Technical Assessment Report mid-term evaluation of greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy standards for light-duty cars and trucks for model years (MY) 2022-2025.

The draft TAR shows that automotive manufacturers are innovating and bringing new technology to market at a rapid pace, and that they will be able to meet the MY 2022-2025 standards established in the 2012 rulemaking with a wide range of cost-effective technologies. Moreover, it indicates that these standards can be achieved by relying primarily on advanced gasoline vehicles.

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MAHLE Jet Ignition for Ferrari F1 as well as sub-200 g/kWh BSFC in light-duty engine; on-road and stationary applications

July 11, 2016

MAHLE Powertrain has been developing Jet Ignition—a high-energy distributed ignition technology that enables homogeneous ultra-lean (λ > ∼1.6) combustion, with its attendant benefits of reduced fuel consumption and emissions—for a number of years. (E.g., Earlier post, (Earlier post.)

MAHLE Jet Ignition (MJI) uses a pre-chamber in conjunction with a spark plug and secondary fuel injector. The chemical, thermal and kinetic energy from the combustion of this small fuel-air mixture is transferred via nozzles to the main combustion chamber where it ignites the main fuel-air mixture.

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GE Aviation hits Farnborough at full throttle; $7.5B in R&D investments since 2010; ceramic matrix composites and 3D printing

July 10, 2016

GE Aviation will enter the Farnborough Air Show on Monday with a wave of new product and technology introductions while expanding its factory network to deliver on a record $154-billion industrial backlog of product and services.

From running the first full GE9X engine for the Boeing 777X (earlier post)—fired more than seven months ahead of a typical engine program schedule—to certifying the Passport jet engine for the Bombardier Global 7000 and Global 8000 (earlier post), GE Aviation this year is introducing new jet engines for business jets to wide-body airline aircraft. GE Aviation has announced eight new factories in eight years to respond to record engine orders. By year’s end, GE and CFM International (the 50/50 joint company of GE and Safran) will have more than 15,000 commercial engines on back order.

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Porsche opens new plant for eight-cylinder engines; digitalization and data management; V8s for all VW Group brands

July 08, 2016

Porsche has officially dedicated a new engine plant for eight-cylinder engines. The factory at the main site in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen works with state-of-the-art production methods, leveraging digitalization and data management. At full plant utilization produces around 200 eight-cylinder V-engines daily. The sports car manufacturer has invested nearly €80 million in the new production facility.

Porsche’s new engine plant will also contribute towards synergies within the Volkswagen Group. Plans call for producing the eight-cylinder V-engines for all Group brands in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen from this point forward.

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Report: combination of new mobility technologies creates opportunities for cutting emissions, but requires strategic policy interventions

June 30, 2016

The combination of connectivity, automation plus shared vehicle ownership and use has the potential to make car travel greener and cheaper, cutting energy use and helping accelerate the introduction of low carbon vehicles. However, these energy and carbon benefits are by no means guaranteed and will require strategic policy interventions to maximize them according to new report by the Institute for Transport Studies (ITS) at the University of Leeds, commissioned by the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).

The study—Automated vehicles; Automatically low carbon?— was presented at the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership Conference at the Olympic Park in London. According to the study, better coordination and connectivity between vehicles and infrastructure is likely to improve energy efficiency, as well as potentially make road transport safer and quicker.

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WEC report: EVs need 16% market share by 2020 for fuel economy standards to be met

Electric vehicles (EVs) will need to increase their combined market share to 16% by 2020 for markets to achieve the aggressive fuel economy standards set by regulators, according to new research by the World Energy Council, the UN-accredited global energy body representing the entire energy spectrum.

While EVs currently represent less than 1% combined market share across the world’s largest markets for new passenger cars, they should be considered central to any policy and technology portfolio designed to lower transport emissions, WEC said.

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Canada, US and Mexico commit to align light- and heavy-duty fuel efficiency and GHG standards out to 2025 and 2027, respectively

As one of the outcomes of the “Three Amigos” meeting in Ottawa, Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, US President Barack Obama, and Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto committed to an “ambitious and enduring” North American Climate, Clean Energy, and Environment Partnership. A key element of that partnership is a goal for North America to strive to achieve 50% clean power generation by 2025.

The action plan also encompasses a range of initiatives, including a focus on clean transportation. As part of that effort, the leaders committed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from light- and heavy-duty vehicles by aligning fuel efficiency and/or GHG emission standards out to 2025 and 2027, respectively. They further agreed to reduce air pollutant emissions by aligning air pollutant emission standards for light- and heavy-duty vehicles and corresponding ultra low-sulfur fuel standards by 2018. In addition, the SmartWay freight transportation program will be extended to Mexico.

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Report finds US automakers remain profitable under future CAFE standards even with fuel price fluctuation

June 28, 2016

Even with wide-ranging unpredictable gas prices, US automakers will remain profitable and suppliers will benefit under existing national fuel economy standards slated to be in place until 2025, according to a new economic analysis brief prepared by independent automotive industry analysts, commissioned by the nonprofit group Ceres. The brief is a summary for investors and policy analysts of a larger study that will be available from Ceres in August 2016.

The study, Economic Implications of the Current National Program vs. a Weakened National Program in 2022-2025 for Detroit Three Automakers and Tier One Suppliers, was released shortly before federal agencies are expected to release a new technical assessment report regarding a midterm review of light-duty fuel-efficiency and carbon emissions standards.

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Torotrak outlines advances in its full-toroidal traction-drive CVT using PitchSteer; EV applications as well

June 24, 2016

At the 2016 International VDI Congress “Drivetrain for Vehicles” in Friedrichshafen, Germany, John Fuller, Director of Concepts & IP for Torotrak Group, presented and discussed the company’s latest advances to optimize its full-toroidal variator technology for the light vehicle market as applied in continuously variable transmissions (CVTs).

Torotrak’s main drive CVTs combine its full toroidal traction drive variator with other conventional transmission components. By combining its extensive experience in main drive and auxiliary drive transmissions, Torotrak has designed a variator concept with ratio spread of up to 12, operated by a low cost actuation system.

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Beijing Foton launches “China Internet Super Truck Global Innovation Alliance”; Auman Energy Super Truck

June 23, 2016

Chinese truck and utility vehicle manufacturer Beijing Foton has launched the China Internet Super Truck Global Innovation Alliance and showcased the Auman EST (Energy Super Truck) at an event in Athens, Greece.

The Internet super truck project is a collaboration that brings together Foton Motor Group, Cummins, and Daimler AG and aims at building Internet-driven super trucks that are green, efficient, safe, and intelligent through the integration of global resources, the effective use of new energies, the establishment of vehicle networks, and the implementation of intelligent truck-loading technology.

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Ricardo investigating potential for its split-cycle engine in large engine market

Ricardo is exploring the value proposition for applications of its novel split-cycle combustion engine (earlier post). In a poster-session paper presented at CIMAC Congress 2016 in Finland, Ricardo described the use of this split-cycle concept in high- and medium-speed engines for power generation to achieve efficiencies of 60% from units of 1–30 MW mechanical output.

Ricardo, in collaboration with the University of Brighton, has been developing the split-cycle engine with an eye toward improving the thermal efficiency of heavy-duty engines. The engine is based on a fundamentally new split-cycle combustion concept using a recuperated split-cycle with isothermal compression via cryogenic injection. The technology has the potential to realize brake thermal efficiencies in the order of 60% across a number of applications, Ricardo says.

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Iveco launches the New Stralis XP long-haul truck; fuel savings up to 11%

June 20, 2016

Iveco has introduced the New Stralis XP long-haul truck, featuring fuel savings of up to 11% and a reduction in total cost of ownership (TCO) of up to 5.6% in long-distance transport operations.

The New Stralis XP builds on the foundation of the Stralis Hi-Way, launched in 2012 and named “International Truck of the Year 2013”. It carries over the best of its predecessor, and in particular the Hi-Way cab, which is very well appreciated by customers, Iveco’s HI-SCR Euro VI solution that requires no regeneration and preserves the long-term value of engine and vehicle, and the quality and reliability of the previous range.

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Dana presenting VariGlide beltless transmission technology at International VDI Conference

June 17, 2016

Dana Holding Corporation will present its VariGlide planetary variator for beltless continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) at the International VDI Conference, to be held 21-22 June 2016, in Friedrichshafen, Germany.

Dana’s VariGlide technology features a unique planetary, coaxial configuration, which eliminates belts and pulleys used in conventional CVTs. In addition to providing fuel economy benefits relative to 6-, 8-, and 9-speed transmissions, the VariGlide variator has the potential to improve fuel economy by up to 10% when compared with conventional CVTs with belts.

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Mercedes-Benz Trucks boosts power, lowers emissions and fuel consumption with latest generation OM 470 engine

At the upcoming IAA this fall, Mercedes-Benz Trucks will showcase the latest generation of the OM 470 six-cylinder in-line engine, which incorporates numerous new developments to achieve a further reduction in fuel consumption of up to 5%.

Mercedes-Benz is also introducing a new top-of-the-range variant with a power output of 335 kW (456 hp). All the heavy-duty engines benefit from new low-friction engine oils. The Mercedes PowerShift 3 twelve-speed transmissions have been modified for optimum efficiency and the driving strategy of the anticipatory cruise control system Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC) has been refined. The Actros additionally benefits from aerodynamic improvements.

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Honda launches 2017 Accord Hybrid; 2nd generation two-motor hybrid powertrain

June 15, 2016

Honda has launched the 2017 Accord Hybrid (earlier post) at its dealers in the US. Featuring an advanced second-generation two-motor hybrid powertrain, the 2017 Accord Hybrid midsize sedan delivers peak total system output of 212 hp, best-in-class EPA fuel economy ratings of 49/47/48 mpg US (4.8/5.0/4.9 l/100 km) (city/highway/combined), and a starting MSRP of $29,605.

In addition to the more powerful and fuel-efficient hybrid powertrain, the 2017 Accord Hybrid benefits from the extensive upgrades made to the Accord lineup for 2016 including new styling, sportier driving performance and increased levels of standard and available equipment including the Honda Sensing suite of advanced safety and driver-assistive technologies, offered as standard equipment on all models.

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LiquidPiston releases proof-of-concept video of X Mini 70cc rotary engine applied in a kart

June 14, 2016

LiquidPiston, Inc. (LPI), the developer of engines based on its High Efficiency Hybrid Cycle (HEHC) (earlier post), has released a proof-of-concept video of its X Mini rotary engine applied in a go-kart.

LiquidPiston’s X Engine architecture is a non-Wankel rotary embodiment of the HEHC. The X Engine has few parts and three combustion events per rotor revolution, resulting in tremendous power density. The X Engine’s few moving parts consist of a rotor (the primary work-producing component) and an eccentric shaft. Except for ancillary parts such as injectors, fuel pumps, and oil pumps, there are no other moving parts.

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EU investing >€3M in research into ultra-efficient aero engines; ULTIMATE project

The EU is investing more than €3 million in innovative aero-engine technologies in the three-year ULTIMATE project, short for Ultra Low emission Technology Innovations for Mid-century Aircraft Turbine Engines. The 3-year project, which launched in September 2015, targets radical concepts for new aero engines, in line with the EU’s long-term emissions reduction target for 2050. The project is being presented in a paper (Grönstedt et al.) at the ASME Turbo Expo 2016 conference this week in Seoul, South Korea.​

The project team, coordinated by Chalmers University of Technology, includes four of the largest engine manufacturers in Europe: Rolls-Royce (UK), MTU Aero Engines (Germany), Safran Aircraft Engines (France) and GKN Aerospace (Sweden), four universities: Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden), Cranfield University (UK), Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece) and Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace (France), the research institute Bauhaus Luftfahrt (Germany) and the technology management company Arttic (France).

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New aluminum-cerium alloys could boost rare earth production; improved energy efficiency of engines

June 03, 2016

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and partners Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and Eck Industries have developed aluminum-cerium (Al-Ce) alloys that are both easier to work with and more heat tolerant than existing products.

ORNL scientists Zach Sims, Michael McGuire and Orlando Rios, along with colleagues from Eck, LLNL and Ames Laboratory in Iowa, discuss the technical and economic possibilities for aluminum–cerium alloys in an article in JOM, a publication of the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society. The alloys have the potential to jump-start US production of rare earth elements, the researchers suggested.

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Audi’s Gen2 A5 offers up to 17% more performance and up to 22% lower fuel consumption

Nine years after the launch of the mid-size A5, Audi unveiled the second-generation A5 and S5 Coupé during an event at the company’s headquarters in Ingolstadt. The new Audi A5 Coupé will launch in Germany with five engines: two gasoline TFSI and three diesel TDI units.

Their power output has increased considerably and is now between 140 kW (190 hp) and 210 kW (286 hp). Compared with the previous model, they offer up to 17% more performance while consuming as much as 22% less fuel. All the engines combine high efficiency with sporty power development and smooth running—especially the two 3.0 TDI six-cylinder engines.

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New BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo improves fuel economy by up to 14%

June 01, 2016

BMW will launch the latest BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo in time for the start of summer. Combining the style of a coupé, the passenger spaciousness of a luxury sedan and the trunk capacity of a station wagon, the 3 Series Gran Turismo has developed into a firm fixture of the mid-size class over the last three years. Its biggest sales markets are China, Germany and the USA; the majority of BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo customers are new to the BMW brand.

The new version of the Gran Turismo offers three new gasoline and five diesel engines with noticeably higher output; all the engines are turbocharged and burn up to 14% less fuel. A total of 18 engine, transmission and drive configurations are available for the BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo.

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Volvo Trucks’ new concept truck cuts fuel consumption by more than 30%

May 31, 2016

With support from the Swedish Energy Agency, Volvo Trucks has developed a new concept vehicle, the Volvo Concept Truck. The result of a five-year long research project aimed at creating more energy-efficient vehicles, the new concept truck cuts fuel consumption by more than 30%. The aim of the project is to improve the efficiency for long-haul truck transportation by 50%.

One of the key factors behind the low fuel consumption is the massive 40% improvement in aerodynamic efficiency that has benefited both the tractor and trailer. Aerodynamically optimized chassis side-skirts cover the rear wheels on the tractor and all the trailer wheels; aerodynamic spoilers extend the trailer and cut air resistance.

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Peapod adds two LH hydraulic hybrids delivery trucks to fleet

May 20, 2016

Peapod, the leading online grocer in the US, took delivery of its first two hydraulic hybrid delivery trucks this month. The vehicles, existing Workhorse walk-in vans with GM gasoline engines and equipped with the Lightning Hybrids Energy Recovery System (ERS), are in service on the streets of Chicago and were partially paid for by the Drive Clean Chicago voucher program for clean vehicles.

The trucks, the first hydraulic hybrids in Peapod’s fleet of approximately 130 vehicles in the Midwest, are expected to reduce fuel consumption, reduce brake maintenance costs and cut emissions significantly in Peapod service neighborhoods.

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Suzuki reports fuel economy testing irregularities in Japan but says no need to amend values

May 18, 2016

Suzuki announcement that it has found “some discrepancies” between the automobile emission and fuel efficiency testing methodology it has used in Japan and the requirements from Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT).

However, the company said, after retesting vehicles, it found that all certified fuel efficiency values remained within the range of measurement deviation. The company said it thus was not necessary adjust the measured values. The announcement came as Suzuki delivered the results of an internal investigation into its emissions and fuel efficiency testing ordered by the MLLIT. The issues do not apply to products sold under the Suzuki badge outside of Japan.

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BMW introducing new quad-turbo 6-cylinder diesel in 7 Series; engine output up 5%, average fuel consumption down 11%

May 17, 2016

BMW is introducing its new quad-turbo, six-cylinder diesel, described several weeks ago at the Vienna Motor Symposium, in the BMW 750d xDrive and BMW 750Ld xDrive. The new diesel—billed by BMW as the world’s most powerful six cylinder diesel, generates maximum output of 294 kW/400 hp and peak torque of 760 N·m (560 lb-ft).

The 14 kW/19 hp (i.e. 5%) increase in output and peak torque up by 20 N·m (15 lb-ft) are accompanied by a 11% reduction in average fuel consumption and emissions over the predecessor model. Combined cycle fuel consumption is 5.9 – 5.7 l/100 km (39.8 – 41.2 mpg US); the corresponding CO2 emissions are 154 – 149 g/km. The engine comes standard with intelligent all-wheel drive.

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New GM 10-speed auto for Camaro ZL1 shifts quicker than DCT; to be applied in 8 other models by 2018

May 12, 2016

With faster upshifts than a dual-clutch transmission (DCT) and a wider overall gear ratio spread to optimize performance and efficiency, the all-new available GM Hydra-Matic 10-speed automatic transmission sets a new performance standard in the 2017 Camaro ZL1. The transmission is an all-new design—and the first application in a car—with a wider, 7.39 overall gear ratio spread, that enables the ZL1’s supercharged engine to remain at optimal engine speeds during upshifts. GM and Ford began joint development of 9- and 10-speed transmission designs in 2013. (Earlier post.)

The wider overall ratio enables a lower numerical top gear ratio—an attribute that reduces engine speed on the highway, which contributes to greater fuel efficiency than a comparable eight-speed transmission. Improvements in spin loss complement the optimized gearing, further enhancing efficiency. Although the Camaro ZL1 will be the first GM vehicle to offer the new 10-speed automatic, designed for rear-wheel-drive applications, it will be available in eight additional vehicles by 2018.

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Mitsubishi Motors admits to improper fuel consumption testing in 9 additional models

May 11, 2016

In April, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) admitted to manipulating fuel consumption testing data for some 625,000 mini-cars representing four models it manufactured for sale in Japan by itself and partner Nissan. (Earlier post.)

MMC now says that its internal hearings into the cheating suggest that the method used to cheat—the improper calculation of running resistance—was also applied in nine other models currently sold in Japan, as well as in other models no longer sold in Japan. The use of the calculations is also suspected on the RVR and some other models, and investigations into the background and details are ongoing and will be announced separately.

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