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Fuel Efficiency

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

Jaguar 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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VW to launch technically updated Sharan MPV at Geneva; up to 15% more fuel efficient

February 19, 2015

At this year’s Geneva International Motor Show, Volkswagen will present an extensive technical update of the Sharan MPV, of which more than 800,000 units have been sold since its launch in 1995. The update includes numerous systems to assist the driver and enhance convenience and comfort, some features being unique to this market segment, as well as new gasoline (TSI) and diesel (TDI) engines.

The turbocharged direct injection engines are now up to 15% more fuel-efficient and all now comply fully with the Euro-6 standard. The two new TSI engines produce 110 kW (148 hp, 150 PS) and 162 kW (217 hp, 220 PS); the second, higher-powered engine produces 15 kW (20 hp) more power than its predecessor. Three new TDI engines are available at these power levels: 85 kW (114 hp, 115 PS), 110 kW and 135 kW (181 hp, 184 PS (gain of 7 PS)). All engines, except the smallest diesel model, can be combined with a 6-speed dual clutch gearbox (DSG), which now provides a coasting function (decoupling of the engine during deceleration) for additional fuel-saving. The DSG transmission is standard with the top TSI engine; a an alternative, the 150 PS TDI engine is also available with 4MOTION all-wheel drive.

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CMU team finds regional temperature differences have significant impact on EV efficiency, range and emissions

February 18, 2015

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Energy consumption per mile averaged across the LEAF fleet over a full year (Wh/mi). Credit: ACS, Yuksel and Michalek. Click to enlarge.

An adage about batteries is that they are like humans in performing best at moderate (e.g., room) temperatures; extremes in either direction impact performance. Thus, the efficiency of battery electric vehicles can vary with ambient temperature due to battery performance—as well as the energy required for cabin climate control.

In a new paper accepted for publication in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, Tugce Yuksel and Jeremy Michalek at Carnegie Mellon University have now characterized the effect of regional temperature differences on EV efficiency, range, and use-phase CO2 emissions in the US, based on aggregated real-world fleet data for the Nissan LEAF. Among their findings is that the resulting regional differences in efficiency, range and emissions are large enough to affect adoption patterns and the energy and environmental implications of battery EVs relative to alternatives.

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ICCT reviews real-world tractor-trailer fuel economy in US, China and Europe

February 15, 2015

The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) has published a new paper reviewing and summarizing data on commercial vehicle sales and real-world fuel consumption for heavy-duty tractor-trailers in the three key markets of the US, China and Europe, which together account for more than 70% of HDV sales worldwide.

The review found that in the US, average tractor-trailer fuel consumption rates for the entire fleet are approximately 39 L/100 km (6 mpg). For the newest US models, fuel consumption is typically between 33 and 36 L/100 km (6.5–7 mpg). A fleet-wide analysis done for the European Commission estimates tractor-trailer fuel consumption at roughly 31 L/100 km (7.6 mpg), while tests of individual vehicles done by trucking magazines suggest somewhat higher average rates of consumption at approximately 36 to 38 L/100 km (6.5 to 6.2 mpg). Chassis dynamometer testing performed as part of the regulatory development process in China reveals that tractor-trailers seem to have much higher fuel consumption rates, on average, than in the US and the EU, with laboratory results yielding an average of 44 L/100 km (5.4 mpg).

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Honda includes stop-start system in new 2016 Honda Pilot for improved fuel economy, new 9-speed (updated w/ VCM info)

February 13, 2015

Honda gave the all-new 2016 Honda Pilot SUV its global premiere at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show. The 2016 Pilot, launching at Honda dealerships nationwide this summer, is the third generation of Honda’s three-row midsize SUV to be designed, developed and manufactured in the US.

The 2016 Pilot features a new 3.5-liter, direct-injected i-VTEC V-6 engine with new two-stage Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) cylinder deactivation technology. For improved fuel efficiency, the 2016 Pilot will also include a stop start feature—Honda’s first non-hybrid application of this technology.

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BMW introduces 2 Series Gran Tourer; up to 60 mpg US

February 12, 2015

BMW has introduced the new BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer, a premium compact model. At 4,556 millimeters long, 1,800 mm wide and 1,608 mm high, the 2 Series Gran Tourer accommodates up to seven people while additionally offering a load compartment that extends from 645 to 1,905 liters in the five-seater and from 560 to 1,820 liters in the seven-seater variant.

Five three- and four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines will be available from market launch of the new BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer, all featuring the latest BMW TwinPower Turbo technology. In addition to the four-cylinder liter gasoline engine in the BMW 220i Gran Tourer and the three-cylinder in the BMW 218i Gran Tourer, three diesel units round off the engine portfolio available at market launch. They include the four-cylinder diesel in the BMW 220d xDrive and BMW 218d Gran Tourer as well as the three-cylinder diesel in the BMW 216d Gran Tourer.

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Successful vessel test for new Voith Linear Jet; more efficiency in 20-40 knot envelope

February 06, 2015

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Comparison of Voith Linear Jet with other propulsors. Click to enlarge.

At the end of 2014, the first vessel driven by the new Voith Linear Jet (VLJ) propulsion system was successfully tested outside the Isle of Wight in Southern England.

The Voith Linear Jet is a new propulsor combining the best properties of conventional propellers with the best properties of conventional waterjets. The VLJ is a fully submerged, custom-shaped deceleration/acceleration nozzle with a stator section aft of the rotor. The stator section cancels rotor-induced swirl, and through that, optimizes the acceleration of the jet stream and the rudder inflow. The submerged position eliminates the requirement for a long inlet tunnel resulting in linear in- and out-flow and low marine growth sensitivity. The resulting benefits of this natural flow path without redirections are increased efficiency and reduced noise and vibration levels.

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President’s 2016 Budget requests $29.9B for DOE; 9% boost over FY 2015 enacted; $793M (2.7%) for sustainable transportation

February 03, 2015

President Barack Obama’s 2016 Budget requests $29.9 billion for the US Department of Energy (DOE). The FY 2016 DOE Budget Request represents a 9% increase ($2.5 billion) above the FY 2015 enacted level.

42% of the DOE Budget Request ($12.6 billion) is for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), an increase of $1.2 billion over the FY 2015 Enacted level, to maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear weapons stockpile in the absence of nuclear testing and manage the research, development, and production activities and associated infrastructure maintenance and modernization needed to meet national nuclear security requirements.

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Bosch completes acquisition of ZF’s share of ZF Lenksysteme JV; electric steering systems for fuel efficiency, ADAS and automated driving

January 30, 2015

The Bosch Group has completed its acquisition of ZF Friedrichshafen AG’s 50-percent share in the joint venture ZF Lenksysteme GmbH (ZFLS). Bosch now owns all shares in the formerly 50:50 joint venture, formed in 1999. It will be incorporated into the Bosch Group as a new division with the name Robert Bosch Automotive Steering GmbH.

ZFLS is a leading manufacturer of electric steering systems, with which it currently generates around 60% of its sales, which were around €4.1 billion (US$4.6 billion) in 2013. Alongside its potential to save up to 0.8 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers, electric steering is the basic technology required to realize a number of assistance systems in cars as well as automated driving.

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Renault Sport F1 introduces revamped 2015 hybrid power unit

January 28, 2015

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Renault Energy F1-2015 Power Unit. Click to enlarge.

Renault Sport F1 has unveiled its 2015 power unit for Formula 1 racing, which incorporates a number of changes compared to its 2014 predecessor (earlier post). 2015 is the second year of competitive use for the power units that feature a V6 turbocharged internal combustion engine coupled to energy recovery systems.

In introducing the new unit, Renault Chief Technical Officer Rob White noted that the second year of a new engine “is always difficult. The 2015 power unit project was started six months before the 2014 units took to the track, ie. before we had any significant experience of the technology. Then we also needed to consider the issues arising during the season. It creates a need to be both forward thinking and reactive. Splitting resources between projects is therefore a delicate balancing act, in the short, mid and long term. While certain decisions can be taken upstream, a number of design decisions were taken quite late in the day, in order to benefit from the experience of the 2014 power unit. The result is a power unit that is very different to its predecessor,” he said.

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New Opel Corsa diesel with only 82 g/km CO2, 75.8 mpg

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1.3 CDTI four-cylinder only uses 3.1 l/100 km. Click to enlarge.

Opel’s new Corsa three-door equipped with 70 kW/95 hp 1.3 CDTI ecoFlex diesel with Start/Stop technology fitted as standard, braking energy recuperation and low-rolling-resistance tires combined with the new Easytronic 3.0 transmission can reduce CO2 emissions to 82 grams per kilometer.

Fuel consumption is down to 3.1 liters per 100 kilometers (75.8 mpg US) for the combined cycle, making the new Corsa the most economical Opel presently on the market and the most economical diesel available. Sales in Germany begin in March.

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China Yuchai LNG engine powers the “Fuel Efficient Heavy-Duty Truck of the Year 2014” in China

January 26, 2015

China Yuchai International announced that a “K-Gold” model C&C truck equipped with the YC6K1340N liquid natural gas (LNG) engine has won the “Fuel Efficient Heavy-Duty Truck of the Year 2014” at China’s largest annual commercial vehicle event.

At 13 liters, the YC6K1340N engine has the largest displacement and highest torque power among comparable natural gas engines in China. Variants in the K13N range span power ratings from 340-440 PS (250-324 kW, 335-434 hp), with 1950 N·m of torque at 1200 ~ 1500 rpm. By utilizing lean-burn technology, it reduces average energy consumption by approximately 25% compared with diesel engines of similar size and power. The model YC6K1340N is the only engine in China that utilizes the JACOBS in-cylinder brake technology, and has LNG braking power up to 17 kW/L.

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New research collaboration tackling ship hydrodynamics and fuel efficiency

January 23, 2015

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Three-dimensional vortex structures observed in the wake of a cylinder; imposing unsteady hydrodynamic loadings on structure. Such analyses can be employed to optimize new ship designs. Copyright: Agency for Science, Technology and Research Click to enlarge. Click to enlarge.

A new research collaboration between A*STAR’s Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC), Sembcorp Marine Ltd, University of Glasgow and University of Glasgow Singapore (UGS) aims to improve make a ship’s hydrodynamics and energy efficiency. The four organisations signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to collaborate and develop new hull designs for large ocean-going vessels.

Under the three-year MoU, IHPC, Sembcorp Marine Ltd, University of Glasgow and UGS will use computational modelling and visualisation technologies to design vessels with improved hydrodynamics for better fuel efficiency. In addition, they will collaborate and innovate on features to reduce harmful exhaust emissions and discharges by enhancing the vessel’s scrubber and ballast treatment systems. Currently, maritime transport carries about 90% of all international trade and accounts for 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

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DOE to award $55.8M for advanced vehicle technologies; $35M for fuel cell and hydrogen

January 22, 2015

US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced a new Vehicle Technologie program-wide funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0001201) for $55.8 million. DOE also announced up to $35 million to advance fuel cell and hydrogen technologies, including enabling the early adoption of fuel cell applications, such as light duty fuel cell electric vehicles. This new funding opportunity announcement will be available in early February.

The Vehicle Technologies funding is targeted at a wide range of research, development, and demonstration projects that aim to reduce the price and improve the efficiency of plug-in electric, alternative fuel, and conventional vehicles. Topics addressed include: advanced batteries (including manufacturing processes) and electric drive R&D; Lightweight materials; Advanced combustion engine and enabling technologies R&D; and Fuels technologies (dedicated or dual-fuel natural gas engine technologies).

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Thomson Reuters analysis finds automotive new propulsion technology patent activities surge 6-fold in 5 years

January 20, 2015

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Automotive patent filings reduced to one document per DWPI family charted by category and the publication year of the earliest family member. Source: Thomson Innovation & Thomson Reuters Derwent World Patents Index. Click to enlarge.

An analysis of the global automobile industry’s recent patent activity by the Intellectual Property & Science business of Thomson Reuters has found a massive commitment from carmakers and their suppliers to new propulsion technology. Patent data from 2009 through July 2014 show that activity in propulsion technology grew from fewer than 2,000 patents to nearly 12,000: more than any other technology area in the automotive industry. It was also the only area of patents to reflect a year-over-year growth in the five-year span.

For the report, “The State of Innovation in the Automotive Industry”, Thomson Reuters broke patent activity in the automotive industry into five broad categories: Propulsion; Navigation (which included telematics); Handling (which included autonomous driving); Safety & Security (which included driver assistance systems); and Entertainment.

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ZF showcasing second-generation 8HP 8-speed transmission at NAIAS; additional 3% boost in fuel savings

January 18, 2015

At the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, ZF is presenting its broad technology portfolio including the second generation of the 8HP 8-speed transmission. The new generation offers further developments ranging from lower drag torques and higher spread to an improved torsional vibration absorption.

Compared to the already highly energy-efficient first generation of the 8HP (earlier post), the second-generation unit achieves an additional three percent of fuel savings. The first generation of the eight speed 8HP saved up to 6% more fuel—and its stop-start variant up to 11% more—that the second-generation ZF 6-speed automatic transmission. With its flexible modular construction system, ZF’s 8HP covers a broad torque range between 300 and 1,000 N·m (221 to 738 lb-ft) and can be adapted to fit hybrid or all-wheel drive applications.

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Johnson Controls displays 40% lighter CAMISMA seat prototype at NAIAS; planned availability in 2019

January 15, 2015

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CAMISMA seat prototype is 40% lighter than conventional seats. Click to enlarge.

Johnson Controls and its partners are working to reduce the use of metals in vehicle seat structures by replacing them with multi-material systems in the CAMISMA (carbon-amide-metal-based interior structure using a multi-material system approach) research project. (Earlier post.)

The company is displaying the CAMISMA seat prototype, which achieves a more than 40% weight reduction against conventionally manufactured seat structures without compromising safety properties, at the 2015 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. Johnson Controls received this year’s CLEPA (European Association of Automotive Suppliers) Innovation Award in the “Green” category for this work. According to the jury, the project represents an “outstanding, future-oriented solution for sustainable carbon dioxide reduction.

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Land Rover bringing two diesel SUVs to N. America; 32% better combined fuel economy, up to 28 mpg on highway; LEV 3

January 11, 2015

Land Rover will offer the option of diesel powertrains in two 2016 model year luxury SUVs: the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. The Range Rover Td6 and Range Rover Sport Td6 SUVs will deliver 25 mpg (9.4 l/100 km) combined, a 32% improvement over the supercharged V6, and reach a high of 28 mpg (8.4 l/100 km) on the highway. The two new luxury diesel SUVs are making their debut at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit and go on sale Fall 2015.

The 3.0-liter Td6 turbocharged V6 diesel engine delivers 254 horsepower (189 kW) and a low-end torque output of 440 lb-ft (597 N·m). Peak torque arrives at 1,750 rpm in the Td6 while the gasoline V6 produces its 332 lb-ft (450 N·m) at 3,500 rpm. This high torque output at low RPM makes the diesel Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models particularly well suited to towing heavy loads and off-roading where reaching maximum torque at low RPM is extremely beneficial.

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New GM/Tula DSF cylinder deactivation technology could boost fuel efficiency in engines by up to 15%

January 05, 2015

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Comparison of DSF fuel economy gains and costs with competing technologies, from Tula’s 2013 SAE paper. Wilcutts et al. Click to enlarge.

GM is working closely with Tula Technology, a Silicon Valley-based supplier of Dynamic Skip Fire (DSF)—a software-enabled powertrain technology that integrates advanced digital signal processing with advanced powertrain controls to create a variable displacement engine. In 2012, GM Ventures made an equity investment in Tula; in 2013, Tula engineers presented a paper on their technology at the 2013 SAE World Congress.

Independent testing commissioned by Tula finds that the application of DSF technology can improve fuel efficiency in a multi-cylinder engine (4/6/8 cylinders) by as much as 15% when compared to a vehicle equipped with an engine that does not have cylinder deactivation.

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ORNL study finds multi-mode RCCI can offer 15%+ fuel economy improvements across multiple light-duty driving cycles

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Drive cycle fuel economy for PFI, CDC, and multi-mode RCCI operation. Credit: Curran et al. Click to enlarge.

A team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has added to the growing body of work exploring the applications and benefits of reactivity-controlled compression ignition (RCCI) by simulating the fuel economy and emissions for a multi-mode RCCI–enabled vehicle operating over a variety of US drive cycles using experimental engine maps for multi-mode RCCI; conventional diesel combustion; and a 2009 port-fuel injected gasoline engine. Their paper is published in the International Journal of Engine Research.

Among their findings were that multi-mode RCCI has the potential to offer greater than 15% fuel economy improvement over a 2009 gasoline PFI baseline over many light-duty driving cycles, despite the lack of complete drive cycle coverage for RCCI mode. Fuel usage over the drive cycles showed that nearly equal amounts of gasoline and diesel fuel would most likely need to be carried on board for RCCI multi-mode operation, which requires two fuels. During RCCI-only operation, fuel usage was found to be between 57 and 69% gasoline.

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Ford Racing offering programming handset to performance enthusiasts for EcoBoost aftermarket tuning

December 31, 2014

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Power and torque curves for stock and performance-tuned Focus ST with 2.0L I-4 EcoBoost. Click to enlarge.

Ford is now offering EcoBoost engines in all of its high-performance nameplates—from Fiesta ST to Mustang—enabling a new kind of aftermarket tuning. Modifying engine performance can be accomplished with hand-held programmers that adjust several engine parameters; adjusting engine control unit programming can result in performance gains of up to 90 lb-ft (122 N·m) of torque in cars such as the Focus ST.

To allow performance enthusiasts to exploit these capabilities, Ford Racing is offering a programming handset (ProCal, $595, along with required new sparkplugs) for Focus ST’s 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine and Fiesta ST’s 1.6-liter EcoBoost. Plugging the device into the car’s diagnostic link connector port in the driver’s side footwell allows tuners to tap into the many aspects of the car’s performance—anything from throttle response characteristics or idle speed, to turbo wastegate control, to fuel curves and spark timing—while maintaining the Ford-backed limited warranty.

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Fiat Chrysler investing additional $266M in Kokomo to increase capacity for 8-speed transmissions

December 23, 2014

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Eight-speed transmission housings move down the assembly line at Kokomo Transmission Plant. Click to enlarge.

With sales of vehicles equipped with the popular eight-speed transmission growing, FCA US LLC (the new name for Chrysler Group LLC) will invest an additional $266 million in its Kokomo Transmission Plant (Ind.) to increase capacity of the fuel-efficient TorqueFlite transmission. This is the sixth investment made at Kokomo Transmission (KTP) since June 2009, bringing total investment in FCA US Kokomo operations to nearly $1.8 billion.

KTP has been producing the eight-speed transmission, introduced and licensed through ZF (earlier post), since September 2012. In 2013, KTP produced nearly 300,000 eight-speeds. That number has more than doubled to nearly 700,000 in the first 11 months of 2014. Currently, the eight-speed transmission is available on the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chrysler 300, Dodge Challenger, Dodge Charger, Dodge Durango and Ram 1500. The Company sold more than 800,000 of these models in the US through November 2014.

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Orbital suing Daimler and Bosch for alleged patent infringement on direct injection technology

Australia-based specialized engine and vehicle systems company Orbital Corporation has filed court documents in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia alleging the infringement of Orbital patents on direct injection technology by Daimler AG, Mercedes-Benz USA LLC, Mercedes-Benz US International, Inc. (Mercedes), Robert Bosch GMGH and Robert Bosch LLC (Bosch). (3:14-cv-00808-REP Orbital Australia Pty Ltd et al. v. Daimler AG et al.)

Specific patents covered by the complaint are United States Patents Nº 6,923,387 (the “387 patent”) ("injector patent"); Nº 5,655,365 (the “365 patent”); and Nº 5,606,951 (the “951 patent”) (“control patents”),under 35 U.S.C.§271.

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ORNL, UT Austin team proposes optimization framework for hybrids; balancing fuel consumption, motor efficiency, battery capacity and life

December 22, 2014

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Sample output. Effect of increasing the β weighting factor (problem formulation with battery) and applying a higher cooling rate (problem formulation without battery) on the cumulative fuel consumption for the UDDS at a 70% target SoC. Shaltout et al. Click to enlarge.

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Texas at Austin have developed an optimization framework for hybrid-electric and plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs and PHEVs) including fuel consumption, motor efficiency, and battery capacity and lifetime. The approach, detailed in a paper accepted for publication in the IEEE Transactions On Control Systems Technology, is intended to enhance the understanding of the associated tradeoffs among the HEV subsystems—e.g., engine, motor, battery—and to investigate the related implications for fuel consumption and battery capacity and lifetime.

With the framework, the performance of the subsystems can be tailored according to consumer preferences, such as reducing fuel consumption or extending battery life. Further, the ability to control battery performance indices—e.g., temperature—enables operating the battery at a higher target SoC (state of charge) without incurring safety concerns. As a result, the results of such analyses could have significant implications for the related HEV and PHEV ownership and warranty costs.

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New BMW 218i Coupe to offer new 3-cylinder gasoline engine

December 12, 2014

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New BMW 3-cylinder turbo gasoline engine for the 218i. Click to enlarge.

With the market launch of the new BMW 218i Coupe, BMW will offer a new a three-cylinder gasoline engine from the BMW Group’s latest engine family (earlier post) for the first time in the compact model. With a displacement of 1.5 liters, the newly developed power unit delivers a maximum output of 100 kW/136 hp and a maximum torque of 220 N·m (162 lb-ft) available at 1,250 rpm.

The car’s BMW TwinPower Turbo technology comprises a supercharger that is integrated into the exhaust manifold; a further developed gasoline direct injection system; the latest version of the variable valve control system VALVETRONIC; and Double VANOS variable camshaft control. The new power unit is conventionally positioned lengthwise in the engine compartment under the hood. Its low weight benefits the well-balanced load distribution of almost 50:50 between the front and rear axle.

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ExxonMobil: global GDP up ~140% by 2040, but energy demand ~35% due to efficiency; LDV energy demand to rise only slightly despite doubling parc

December 10, 2014

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As the world population increases by the estimated 30% from 2010 to 2040, ExxonMobil sees global GDP rising by about 140%, but energy demand by only about 35% due to greater efficiency. Click to enlarge.

Significant growth in the global middle class, expansion of emerging economies and an additional 2 billion people in the world will contribute to a 35% increase in energy demand by 2040, according to ExxonMobil’s latest Outlook for Energy report.

Even as demand increases, the world will continue to become more efficient in its energy use, according to the 2015 Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040. Without efficiency gains across economies worldwide, energy demand from 2010 to 2040 would be headed toward a 140% increase instead of the 35% forecast in the report.

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Achates Power secures fifth OEM contract for opposed-piston 2-stroke CI engines; 3-cylinder configurations under test

December 09, 2014

Achates Power, Inc., the developer of a family of efficient compression-ignition opposed-piston two-stroke (OP2S) engines (earlier post) has secured another contract with a leading global OEM. With this contract, the company has five concurrent customers the contracts for which encompass five different engine applications: passenger vehicle, light commercial vehicle, heavy commercial vehicle, military and marine/stationary power.

Achates Power’s engine allows OEMs to achieve the most stringent current and future fuel efficiency and emissions standards—including EPA 2010, Euro 6 and Tier 3/LEV 3—without additional cost or complexity. During 2014, Achates Power’s annual revenue has increased by more than 300%. The company has customers located in the US, Japan, Europe, China and India and its current engine programs range from 45 hp to more than 5,000 hp.

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ICCT study compares leading global driving cycles and provides usable conversion factors for CO2 emissions

December 08, 2014

A team at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) has compared the dynamics of the four leading driving cycles worldwide—the US CAFE standards (a composite of FTP75 and HWFET); the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC); Japan’s JC08; and the recently developed Worldwide Harmonized Light-Duty Test Cycle (WLTC)—and their impacts on fuel consumption and CO2 emissions on an equal basis. (WLTC will be replacing NEDC in a few years.)

The result is a set of usable conversion factors for distance-based CO2 emissions among the different driving cycles. The ICCT team determined these factors on distinct levels of detail, characterized by technology parameters such as share of diesel engines in the fleet, vehicle size, share of hybrid systems, aerodynamic drag, and others. This study updates and refines an earlier analysis completed in 2007. (Earlier post.) The new study uses a different methodology with different mathematical approaches.

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GMZ Energy successfully demonstrates 1 kW thermoelectric generator for Bradley Fighting Vehicle

December 03, 2014

GMZ Energy, a market leader in the development of high-temperature thermoelectric generation (TEG) solutions, has successfully demonstrated a 1,000W TEG designed for diesel engine exhaust heat recapture in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. (Earlier post.) This announcement follows GMZ’s June 2014 demonstration of its 200W diesel TEG. The company integrated five of its 200W TEGs into a single 1,000 W diesel engine solution that directly converts exhaust waste heat into electrical energy to increase fuel efficiency and lower costs.

With this demonstration, GMZ has successfully reached the next milestone in the $1.5 million vehicle efficiency program sponsored by the US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) and administered by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

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New Mercedes-Benz compact CLA Shooting Brake; up to 60 mpg

November 26, 2014

Mercedes-Benz is introducing a Shooting Brake version of its CLA compact coupé. The CLA Shooting Brake (length/width/height: 4630/1777/1435 mm) will initially be available with a choice of two diesel and three gasoline engines—all equipped as standard with the ECO start/stop function and Euro 6-compliant—as well as with 4MATIC all-wheel drive. It goes on sale in January 2015, with the first models going to customers towards the end of March 2015.

Two years ago, with the CLS Shooting Brake, Mercedes-Benz created a sports car with five seats and a large tailgate. (Earlier post.) The CLA Shooting Brake takes the elegant Shooting Brake design into a smaller model. The new CLA Shooting Brake is the latest member of Mercedes’ successful compact range, which now includes five models. A total of 375,000 A-, B-, CLA- and GLA-Class vehicles were sold in the first ten months of 2014.

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LiquidPiston unveils 70cc rotary gasoline engine prototype embodying HEHC; power dense, low-vibration

November 19, 2014

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LiquidPiston X1 engine features three separate combustion chambers creating 3 power strokes per revolution for high power density. Source: LPI. Click to enlarge.

LiquidPiston, Inc. (LPI) the developer of engines based on its High Efficiency Hybrid Cycle (HEHC) (earlier post), has unveiled the alpha prototype of the X Mini—a power-dense, low-vibration, quiet, 70cc spark-ignited, non-Wankel rotary embodiment of the HEHC. Dr. Alexander Shkolnik, President and Co-Founder of LiquidPiston, is presenting the engine in a paper at the SAE International/JSAE 2014 Small Engine TechnologyConference today in Pisa, Italy.

The compact engine with a 4-lb (1.8 kg) core has only two primary moving parts—a rotor (the primary work-producing component) and an eccentric shaft—and fits in a 6.6" x 6.2" x 5.4" box. In prototype testing, the spark-ignited X Mini engine has shown high power density, producing 3.5 horsepower (indicated at 10,000 RPM). When mature, the engine is expected to weigh 3 pounds, produce more than 5 hp at up to 15,000 RPM, and be more than 30% smaller and lighter than comparable four-stroke piston engines.

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Federal-Mogul expands powertrain materials portfolio for more efficient heavy-duty diesel engines

November 16, 2014

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A heavy-duty exhaust valve guide with thermal deformation and temperature color scaling demonstrates high side load at high temperatures in contact with the exhaust gas. Federal-Mogul is developing powertrain materials to address conditions such as these. Source: Federal-Mogul. Click to enlarge.

Federal-Mogul Holdings Corporation’s Powertrain Division has expanded its range of high performance materials for valve guides, seats and turbocharger bushings that support the commercial vehicle industry’s drive towards more efficient engines. Providing superior wear resistance at elevated temperatures, the new materials use Federal-Mogul’s well-proven powder metal (PM) technology to add other benefits, such as greater corrosion resistance and mechanical strength, depending upon the application.

Downsized, heavily turbocharged engines with high levels of aftertreatment such as particulate filter systems and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) run hotter than their predecessors, explained Frank Zwein, Federal-Mogul’s global application engineering director, Valve Seats and Guides.

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Audi offers two new 3-cylinder engines in refreshed A1: 1.0 TFSI and MDB 1.4 TDI diesel for A1 ultra

November 14, 2014

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Audi A1. Click to enlarge.

Since their introduction on the market in 2010, the Audi A1 and A1 Sportback have sold more than 500,000 units worldwide. Audi is now refreshing its A1 models, including the offer of six engines—gasoline and diesel—that are new or that have been intensively further developed.

For the first time, Audi is offering completely new three-cylinder engines: the 1.0 TFSI gasoline engine and the 1.4 TDI diesel. The 1.4 TDI follows the 2.0L 4-cylinder engine as the second engine in the Volkswagen Group’s modular diesel engine platform (MDB). (Earlier post.) Power output—ranging from from 66 kW (90 hp) to 141 kW (192 hp)—has been increased in most engines, while fuel economy has been reduced by as much as 10% percent. The seven-speed S tronic is available for all engines, either optional or standard (with the 1.8 TFSI).

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Volkswagen outlines a range of near-term technologies for reducing fuel consumption and emissions; stop-start 2.0, 10-speed DSG

November 11, 2014

Volkswagen presented its latest technologies for reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions—which includes the first 10-speed dual-clutch gearbox (DSG)—in an Innovation Workshop for the media at the Ehra-Lessien test track facility near Wolfsburg.

Volkswagen AG has set the goal of becoming the world’s most sustainable carmaker by the year 2018. Compared to baseline figures for 2010, the Group wants to reduce energy and water consumption, waste generation and emissions (including CO2 emissions) by 25% in all of its business areas. (I.e., VW’s “Strategy 2018”, earlier post.) To achieve this, the Volkswagen brand—the highest volume brand of the Group—is counting on electric mobility (zero-emission and plug-in hybrid models); on continually more fuel-efficient combustion engines and gearboxes; progressive lightweight design; aerodynamics; and efficiency “in every conceivable area”.

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New Unipiston clutch piston technology in series production; enables better fuel economy

November 06, 2014

Federal-Mogul Powertrain’s new high-modulus injection-molded Unipiston clutch pistons are now in series production at the company’s facility in Chivasso, Italy. The technology was a 2013 Automotive News PACE Award Winner in the process category.

Unipiston is a one-piece, rubber-to-metal bonded piston that hydraulically engages clutches to activate the gearshift. The compact one-piece design reduces the number of leak paths while improving reliability and simplifying assembly, and allows transmission designers more flexibility, including increased clutch apply pressures, higher rotational clutch speeds, and larger diameter clutches. This flexibility enables transmissions with additional clutches to be packaged in a smaller space, while providing improved fuel economy, reduced emissions and enhanced vehicle performance.

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Volkswagen begins production of latest-gen DSG at new plant in China; 1.2M unit capacity by 2016

November 05, 2014

Volkswagen started production of the latest generation of its advanced dual-clutch gearbox (DSG), the DQ380, at its new Tianjin components plant in North China. Initially, the new Volkswagen plant will have an annual production capacity of 450,000 units, which will be increased to 1.2 million units by 2016. Volkswagen has invested about €265 million (US$332 million) in the first stage of the plant.

The dual-clutch gearboxes produced especially for the Chinese market will be used in several Group models in China in the future. With the DQ380 gearbox in combination with the third generation of the new EA888 engine, which is produced at the engine plants in Changchun and Shanghai, Volkswagen will achieve a consumption reduction of 0.5 l/100 km and therefore a CO2 reduction of 12 g/km compared with the previous generation.

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New generation smart fortwo and forfour offer new drive systems, suspension

November 04, 2014

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The new generation smart forfour and fortwo. Click to enlarge.

The new generation smart fortwo and forfour city cars (earlier post), developed in cooperation with Renault, offer a new range of drive systems: three three-cylinder engines rated at 45 kW/60 hp, 52 kW/71 hp and 66 kW/90 hp, coupled with a five-speed manual transmission or the twinamic dual clutch transmission.

The two most powerful engines will be available for the launch on the market in Europe on 22 November, and the basic gasoline engine will follow a few months after the market introduction. The smart forfour now also features the rear-mounted engine design of the fortwo.

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Researchers in POWERFUL develop new two-stroke diesel featuring low consumption and low criteria emissions

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Two-stroke diesel in test car. Click to enlarge.

A European project led by Renault, in collaboration with the Czech Technical University in Prague, IFP Energies Nouvelles, Delphi, Le Moteur Moderne (LMM) and Universitat Politècnica de València have developed an advanced two-cylinder, two-stroke compression ignition (CI) engine integrating LTHC (low temperature homogeneous combustion) as part of the European project POWERFUL (POWERtrain for FUture Light-duty vehicles).

The €25-million (US$31-million) FP7 project, which ended in June, also supported two other engine projects: an advanced four-stroke two-cylinder SI engine concept characterized by low-cost / low emissions; and an advanced four-stroke, three-cylinder CI engine concept able to run also on new tailored fuels and integrating the LTC (low temperature combustion) mode in the CI combustion system.

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Hyundai & Kia to pay record $100M penalty for GHG conformity violations & lose $200M+ in emission credits

November 03, 2014

Hyundai and Kia will pay a combined $100-million civil penalty, the largest in Clean Air Act history, to resolve violations concerning the testing and certification of vehicles sold in the US (“Conformity Violations”) and will spend approximately $50 million on measures to prevent any future violations. Hyundai and Kia will also forfeit 4.75 million greenhouse gas emission credits that the companies previously claimed, which are estimated to be worth more than $200 million. (The value for GHG emission credits is not set or controlled by EPA; it is determined by the market of automakers that buy and sell these credits.)

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Department of Justice announced the historic settlement which will resolve alleged Clean Air Act violations based on the sale of close to 1.2 million vehicles that will emit approximately 4.75 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in excess of what the automakers certified to EPA.

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ICCT analysis projects new 2020 European car CO2 target value of 100 g/km under WLTP

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Graphical illustration of estimated effect of transition to WLTP both in percentage terms and if applied to an absolute target of 95 g/km in the NEDC. The resulting target value in WLTP would then be 100 g/km (without temperature correction) and 102 g/km (including temperature correction). Mock et al. Click to enlarge.

The anticipated transition from the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) to the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) for the European type approval procedure for fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of cars will result in a new WLTP-based target of 100g CO2/km for 2020, up from 95 g/km, according to a detailed analysis by a team at the the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). If the ambient test temperature is also changed for the EU-WLTP (to 14 °C instead of 23 °C), an additional correction of 2 g CO2/km would be appropriate, making the target 102 g CO2/km, the authors said.

The currently in-use NEDC includes a number of tolerances and flexibilities and no longer accurately reflects current advanced technologies; the gap between official and real-world fuel-economy figures in Europe has risen to about 38%, according to an earlier report published by the ICCT. (Earlier post.) The European Union is planning to replace the NEDC with the newly developed Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure in 2017.

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First look at all-new Voltec propulsion system for 2G Volt; “the only thing in common is a shipping cap”

October 29, 2014

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Cutaway of the new power electronics unit, which is much smaller than in gen 1, and which is now integrated into the drive unit housing. The power electronics and the motors use separate cooling: water for the PE and ol for the motor unit. Click to enlarge.

The second-generation Volt, which makes its world debut in about 10 weeks at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, features a clean-sheet, all-new Voltec propulsion system—new battery, new electric drive unit, new power electronics and new range-extending engine. At an introductory media briefing on the new powertrain held at the Warren Transmission Plant in Michigan, where the new drive unit will be built, Larry Nitz, GM Executive Director, Transmission and Electrification, noted that the only common part between the gen 1 and gen 2 drive units was a little yellow plastic intra-plant shipping cap for the manual selector.

The battery cells, with a tweaked NMC/LMO chemistry from LG, increase storage capacity by 20% volumetrically when compared to the original cell. The drive unit features a large number of changes: new roles for the two motors, two clutches instead of three, and a smaller power electronics unit integrated into the housing among them. (No more big orange high-voltage cables underneath the hood.) The new direct-injected 1.5 liter engine with cooled EGR features a high compression ratio and is optimized to function in its range extender role.

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Mercedes-Benz wins MATERIALICA awards for diesel passenger car steel pistons and CFRP struts

October 25, 2014

Mercedes-Benz received two MATERIALICA Design and Technology Awards at the MATERIALICA 2014 trade fair for materials applications, surface technology and product engineering in Munich. The first was for the new steel pistons for diesel engines (earlier post), the second for high-strength carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) struts.

The MATERIALICA Award 2014 comprised five categories: Material; Surface & Technology; Product; CO2 Efficiency; and Student. The MATERIALICA Design + Technology Award focuses on product and technological developments in all sectors which implement a successful bundling of competencies.

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European Council endorses 40% GHG cut by 2030; requests ways to cut transport emissions via efficiency, electrification and renewable fuels

October 24, 2014

On 23 October, leaders of the European Union agreed on the climate and energy policy framework for the EU for the period from 2020 to 2030. During its meeting, the European Council endorsed 4 targets: a binding EU target of at least 40% less greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared to 1990; a binding target of at least 27% of renewable energy used at EU level; an energy efficiency increase of at least 27%; and the completion of the EU-internal energy market by reaching an electricity interconnection target of 15% between members states and pushing forward important infrastructure projects.

The Council members also requested further examination by the European Commission on instruments and measures for a comprehensive and technology-neutral approach to reduce emissions and increase energy efficiency in transport, for electric transportation and for the use of renewable energy sources in transport after 2020.

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Visio.M partners present new lightweight EV; 13.5 kWh pack delivers ~100 mile range

October 20, 2014

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Visio.M EV. Click to enlarge.

The academic and industry partners in the Visio.M consortium (earlier post) are showcasing their new lightweight urban electric vehicle at eCarTec in Munich. The 2.5-year project was funded under the priority program “Key Technologies for Electric Mobility - STROM” of the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) with a total budget of €10.8 million (US$13.7 million).

The Visio.M has a range of around 160 kilometers (99 miles) and can accommodate two people with luggage. With only a 15 kW motor, the vehicle reaches a maximum speed of 120 km/h (75 mph). The electric motor in Visio.M draws its power from a lithium-ion battery pack behind the seats, which consists of consumer cells and provides a capacity of 13.5 kWh.

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EPA Trends on EVs and PHEVs; beginning of a “measurable and meaningful impact” on new vehicle fuel economy and emissions

October 11, 2014

The US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) annual report “Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends” (earlier post) has, in its past editions since its inception in 1975, treated alternative fuel vehicles—electric vehicles (EVs), plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs), and compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles—separately from gasoline and diesel vehicles, with the vast majority of its analysis limited to gasoline and diesel vehicles only.

The agency’s reasoning was that since alternative fuel vehicle production has generally been less than 0.1% of total vehicle production until very recently, the impact of excluding alternative fuel vehicles was negligible. With alternative fuel vehicles now approaching 1% of new vehicle production, however, they are in fact beginning to have a “measurable and meaningful impact” on overall new vehicle fuel economy and CO2 emissions.

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EPA annual trends report finds new vehicle fuel economy at record 24.1 mpg; new powertrain technologies rapidly gaining share

October 10, 2014

EPA released the latest edition of its annual report on trends in CO2 emissions, fuel economy and powertrain technology for new personal vehicles in the US. Among the top-level findings was that Model year 2013 vehicles achieved an average of 24.1 mpg (9.76 l/100 km)—a 0.5 mpg increase over the previous year and an increase of nearly 5 mpg since 2004. Fuel economy has now increased in eight of the last nine years; average carbon dioxide emissions are also at a record low of 369 g/mile in model year 2013. The majority of the carbon and oil savings from current vehicles is due to new gasoline vehicle technologies, the report observed.

The report, “Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 Through 2014”, also found that the light truck market share increased slightly in MY 2013, after several years of volatility; that the vehicle weight trend is flat and vehicle power trend is increasing more slowly; that many new powertrain technologies are rapidly gaining market share; and that consumers have an increasing number of high fuel economy/low CO2 vehicle choices.

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GKN develops all-wheel drive disconnect system for A-, B-, C-segments; fuel economy improvement up to 4%

October 07, 2014

GKN has developed the first Disconnect All-Wheel Drive System for A-, B- and C-segment vehicle platforms. The innovative disconnect function enables vehicles to combine the enhanced traction, dynamics and stability of all-wheel drive with improved on-highway fuel efficiency.

The system responds to driver inputs and road conditions, connecting and disengaging drive to the rear axle on demand. By eliminating rotating losses from the driveline, during steady state cruising fuel efficiency can be improved by up to 4% compared to permanent all-wheel drive systems.

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Major refresh on 2015 Honda CR-V with new Earth Dreams powertrain provides fuel economy gain of up to 12%

October 04, 2014

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2015 Honda CR-V. Click to enlarge.

Honda has given its 2015 CR-V compact SUV, which launched in US dealerships on 1 October, the most significant mid-model cycle refresh in the 17-year history of the model. The 2015 CR-V offers a new direct-injected Earth Dreams Technology i-VTEC engine and new continuously variable transmission (CVT); a new suite of “Honda Sensing” safety and driver assistance systems (DAS); significantly enhanced exterior and interior styling; as well a long list of new standard and available features and a new premium Touring trim.

The 2015 CR-V features increased EPA fuel economy ratings of 27/34/29 mpg (8.7/6.9/8.1 l/100 km) (city/highway/combined) for front-wheel-drive models and 26/33/28 mpg (9.0/7.1/8.4 l/100 km) for Real Time AWD models, both increasing +4/+3/+3 mpg over 2014 models—i.e., an increase in the combined rating of 11.5% and 12%, respectively, compared to the 2014 models.

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Hyundai showcasing new downsized turbo engines and 7-speed dual-clutch transmission; i40 48V Hybrid, i30 CNG

October 02, 2014

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New engines and transmission. Click to enlarge.

Hyundai Motor is showcasing two new turbocharged gasoline direct injected (T-GDI) engines at the Paris Motor Show 2014. Both engines—1.0-liter and 1.4-liter units which are part of a new generation of engines from the Kappa family—meet growing demand for small capacity, turbocharged engines to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emission without compromising performance.

In addition, Hyundai is premiering at the Paris show its first 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, fitted into the i30 CNG natural gas concept car, which contributes to improved fuel efficiency. Hyundai is also displaying the diesel i40 48V hybrid concept, featuring a lead-carbon battery.

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

October 01, 2014

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

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

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

September 30, 2014

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

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

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

September 28, 2014

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

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

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

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

September 26, 2014

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

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

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

September 25, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 24, 2014

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Mondeo 5-door. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

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Audi TT Roadster. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

September 23, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 18, 2014

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

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

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

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MAHLE NanoNapier Steel piston ring helps reduce weight and improve quality

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

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

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

September 17, 2014

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EOLAB. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

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New Ford C-MAX. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 16, 2014

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BMW 2 Series Coupe. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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