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

Peapod adds two LH hydraulic hybrids delivery trucks to fleet

May 20, 2016

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

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

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

May 18, 2016

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

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

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

May 17, 2016

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

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

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

May 12, 2016

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

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

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

May 11, 2016

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

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

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Argonne rolls out updated version of AFLEET alternative fuels and advanced vehicles analysis tool

May 10, 2016

The US Department of Energy (DOE’s) Argonne National Laboratory is releasing an updated version of its AFLEET tool to reflect the latest advances in alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies and updated emissions data. Sponsored by the DOE Clean Cities program, AFLEET (Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environmental and Economic Transportation Tool) is a free, publicly-available tool that provides users with a roadmap for assessing which types of vehicles and fuels are right for them. The 2016 AFLEET Tool and user guide are available online. Although anyone can download and use the tool, AFLEET was designed for managers that purchase and maintain a fleet of vehicles.

The latest version includes, for the first time: gaseous hydrogen fuel cell vehicles; state-based (rather than national-based) fuel pricing, private station fuel pricing and fueling infrastructure costs. Updates to existing inputs include new light-duty vehicle costs; vehicle air pollutant emission factors derived from the Environmental Protection Agency’s emissions modeling system, MOVES 2014a; and petroleum use and greenhouse gas and relative air pollutant emissions from the 2015 GREET model, Argonne’s leading fuel life-cycle analysis model that is now in its twentieth year.

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Study suggests high-mileage light-duty fleets contribute higher emissions and emissions share than expected

May 04, 2016

A study by researchers from the University of Denver and the University of Puget Sound indicates that high-mileage light-duty fleets contribute higher emissions and emissions share than expected based on their actual numbers in the fleet.

In their open-access paper, published in the ACS Journal Environmental Science & Technology, they estimate that these small fleets, which represent less than 1% of the total, may be overlooked as a significant emission source (>2−5% of fleet emissions).

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California issues draft plan for more efficient, less polluting freight system

May 03, 2016

California agency leaders released the Draft California Sustainable Freight Action Plan, an ambitious document that lays a foundation for modernizing California’s multi-billion dollar freight transportation system.

The Draft Action Plan puts forward a single shared vision to improve the efficiency of California’s freight system while reducing its pollution, while continuing to bolster the competitiveness of California’s goods movement system nationally and internationally. Key components of the Action Plan include:

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2017 Ford F-150 to offer 2nd-gen 3.5L EcoBoost with dual direct and port fuel injection; 10-speed automatic

The 2017 Ford F-150 will offer an all-new, second-generation 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine and 10-speed transmission. The new 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine will provide 30 lb-ft more peak torque compared with the first-generation 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine, up to a best-in-class 450 lb-ft (610 N·m) for a V6. F-150 remains the only truck in its segment to offer a twin-turbo V6 gasoline engine.

The all-new Ford-built transmission—the first volume-production 10-speed automatic transmission available to consumers from any automaker—will deliver improved acceleration and performance compared with previous six-speed automatic transmissions. More than 20 patents are approved or pending for the new powertrain combination.

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Qoros and FreeValve partner on camless technology; new Qoros concept uses FreeValve PHEA

April 29, 2016

At Auto China in Beijing, Qoros Auto unveiled a concept car showcasing a new Qoros “Qamfree” engine featuring FreeValve’s Pneumatic-Hydraulic-Electric-Actuator (PHEA) technology. FreeValve and Qoros also announced a partnership for the continued development of the camless technology. FreeValve AB is a sister company to Koenigsegg Automotive.

FreeValve’s PHEA technology replaces the conventional camshaft and associated hardware, and allows the engine management system to have full control over each valve. Where camshaft technology has been limited to the relationship between the valves and the camshaft position, FreeValve’s fully variable valve actuation allows independent control over every valve’s precise opening/closing position and timing throughout the whole combustion cycle.

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VW introduces new, more efficient TSI engine generation; Miller cycle with higher compression and electric VTG turbo

April 28, 2016

Volkswagen is presenting the latest generation of the EA211 TSI evo at the 37th International Vienna Motor Symposium. The first model in this future generation of spark ignition engines is the 1.5-liter TSI. The fuel-efficient and high-torque gasoline-fueled TSI engine is set to launch in late 2016, initially with outputs of 96 kW and 110 kW.

The main technology elements of the new EA211 TSI evo result in efficiency benefits of up to 10% compared with the previous 1.4l TSI (92 kW). The improvements in fuel economy take effect across a wide range of the engine map—i.e, they do not merely apply under test bench conditions but also impact everyday driving. Among the key new/revised technologies are:

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Tula Technology reports up to 18% fuel economy gain in GM 6.2L V8 using Dynamic Skip Fire technology; emissions benefits too

April 25, 2016

In a paper presented at the 2016 SAE World Congress, Tula Technology, developer of Dynamic Skip Fire (DSF) cylinder deactivation technology, reported significant fuel economy gains of up to 18% over a conventional GM 6.2-liter V8 by operating using Dynamic Skip Fire. DSF—a software-enabled powertrain technology that integrates advanced digital signal processing with advanced powertrain controls—reduces the pumping losses while improving the combustion stability in spark ignition engines.

GM has been working closely with Tula Technology; in 2012, GM Ventures made an equity investment in Tula. (Earlier post.) In 2015, Delphi also took a stake in the Silicon Valley-based company. (Earlier post.)

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Tsinghua team evaluates impact of types and arrangements of electric traction motors in fuel cell hybrid buses

April 20, 2016

Researchers at Tsinghua University have compared the performance of two different powertrains for fuel cell hybrid buses. Both buses use 50 kW PEM fuel cell stacks (from different manufacturers) as the primary power source, with LiMn2O4 battery packs as secondary power sources. A significant difference between the two powertrains lies in the types and arrangements of the electrical motor.

One powertrain employs a single induction motor (IM) to drive the vehicle via a reduction gearbox and differential (Powertrain A), while the other powertrain adopts two permanent magnetic synchronous motors (PMSMs) for near-wheel propulsion (Powertrain B). A further difference between the proposed powertrains is the supply path for the fuel cell accessories. A paper on their study is published in Journal of Power Sources.

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Mitsubishi Motors manipulated fuel economy testing on 625K mini-cars sold in Japan; other models affected

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) has admitted to manipulating fuel consumption testing data for some 625,000 mini-cars it manufactured for sale in Japan by itself and partner Nissan. Nissan was the one who identified the discrepancies.

In a statement, MMC said that with respect to the fuel consumption testing data submitted to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), MMC conducted testing improperly to present better fuel consumption rates than the actual rates; and that the testing method was also different from the one required by Japanese law.

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Volvo Trucks used SuperTruck learnings to boost efficiency, performance in 2017 powertrains; wave piston, turbocompounding, injection

April 14, 2016

Key learnings from Volvo’s SuperTruck (earlier post) efforts played a critical role in the design and engineering of Volvo Trucks North America’s recently introduced 2017 powertrain, delivering improved fuel efficiency and performance to customers. (Earlier post.)

The development of several new features, such as the wave piston, turbo compounding and a common rail fuel injection system, was supported by the SuperTruck program, sponsored by the US Department of Energy (DOE).

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Study: Combination of active and passive engine-off coasting delivers optimal fuel savings with 48V hybrid systems

April 13, 2016

A study by Germany-based automotive supplier HELLA found that the combination of active and passive engine-off coasting and recuperation using a 48V mild hybrid system shows the best potential to reduce CO2 emissions for all car segments, with the highest potential in the larger car segments, for both NEDC and WLTP (especially true for real world driving).

On the other hand, passive engine-off coasting alone showed no CO2 reduction potential for NEDC and some in WLTP according to the paper presented at the 2016 SAE World Congress.

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ARPA-E issues $30M NEXTCAR program funding opportunity; 20% reduction in energy consumption beyond current regulatory requirements

April 12, 2016

The Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) has issued a $30-million funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0001564) for the Next-Generation Energy Technologies for Connected and Automated On-Road Vehicles (NEXTCAR) program. (Earlier post.)

NEXTCAR seeks to fund the development of new and emerging vehicle dynamic and powertrain (VD&PT) control technologies that can reduce the energy consumption of future vehicles—light-, medium- and heavy-duty—through the use of connectivity and vehicle automation. The new program is seeking transformative technological solutions that will enable at least an additional 20% reduction in the energy consumption of future connected and automated vehicles (CAVs), compared to vehicles without these VD&PT control technologies. I.e., the NEXTCAR improvements are in addition to and beyond any currently expected future vehicle fleet fuel efficiency improvements that will be required or driven by Federal or State regulations.

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New ACE researchers propose new diesel combustion concept; pathway to >50% BTE without WHR

April 11, 2016

A team at Japan’s New ACE Institute—an industry-funded research initiative founded to develop a new diesel combustion concept—has developed a new diffusion-combustion-based concept with multiple fuel injectors to overcome the trade-offs of thermal efficiency with energy loss and exhaust emissions typical of conventional diesel engines.

In a presentation at the 2016 SAE High Efficiency IC Engine Symposium, Noboru Uchida, general manager of research for New ACE, outlined the basic approach, which he said potentially offers a pathway to greater than 50% brake thermal efficiency without the use of waste heat recovery systems. A paper on their concept is also published in SAE International Journal of Engines.

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FEV showcasing 48V technology at 2016 SAE World Congress

April 08, 2016

FEV will showcase some of its 48-Volt technology capabilities at the 2016 SAE World Congress next week in Detroit. FEV says it believes that 48V technology will be the next evolution in in-vehicle power.

The proliferation of components and systems that require electrical power in today’s vehicle are pushing the standard 12-Volt battery to its limits. Under idle conditions and especially under low-temperature conditions, current 12V electrical systems can account for the entire power output of a conventional alternator, FEV notes.

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Audi refreshes A3 with new engines, driver assistance systems, virtual cockpit

April 06, 2016

Audi is refreshing the A3 with new engines—including the A3’s first 3-cylinder unit and a new 2.0L TFSI—new driver assistance systems and the Audi virtual cockpit. The new A3 is available in a three-door version and as a Sportback, a sedan and a Cabriolet.

The engine lineup for the new Audi A3 comprises six engines (three gasoline and three diesel units). Power output ranges from 81 kW (110 hp) to 140 kW (190 hp). All A3 models fulfill the EU6 standard. With the 1.0 TFSI, Audi is offering a three-cylinder model in the Audi A3 series for the first time.

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EIA: trends in downsized engine design leading to increased demand for higher-octane gasoline

Since 2013, the share of premium gasoline in total motor gasoline sales in the US has steadily increased to 11.3% in August and September 2015—the highest share in more than a decade, according to data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).

This trend of increasing demand for higher octane gasoline is likely driven by changes in fuel requirements for light-duty vehicles (LDV) in response to increasing fuel economy standards, which will have widespread implications for future gasoline markets, according to EIA analysts.

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New Renesas 32-Bit MCUs for improved fuel efficiency in vehicle powertrain control applications

April 05, 2016

Renesas Electronics Corporation announced the 32-bit RH850/E1M-S2 microcontrollers (MCUs) for automotive powertrain control applications. The new MCUs provide high performance and advanced functionality to enable improved fuel efficiency. The RH850/E1M-S2 MCUs include four product versions, including the high-end R7F701216EABA (BGA304, 320MHz).

To help meet increasingly stringent fuel efficiency and CO2targets, engine control systems must optimize the ignition and fuel injection timing to match a variety of conditions, such as current combustion and driving status. Transmission control systems, for their part, must instantly select the optimal gear ratio to match the driving conditions, which change moment by moment, in order to minimize power loss in the transmission.

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BASF 2016 science competition seeks synthetic lubricant solutions for future high-efficiency vehicles

March 31, 2016

BASF has kicked off its second annual North American Science Competition. This year’s competition focuses on chemistries that can be used to develop a synthetic fluid to meet the needs of future high-performance, high-efficiency engines and transmissions.

With more advanced machinery, lubricating and functional fluids represent a steadily growing industry projected to reach $11 billion by 2020. Synthetic fluids, which are more expensive than petroleum-derived materials, address increasing market demands for higher quality and purity, increased performance and more stringent environmental standards. By developing high performing synthetic fluids with better thermal stability, BASF aims to extend the life cycle of these materials, reduce waste and support the development of more fuel-efficient vehicles.

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New Federal-Mogul Powertrain piston skirt coatings increase durability for the life of pistons

March 30, 2016

Federal-Mogul Powertrain has introduced two innovative piston skirt coatings: EcoTough-New Generation (for gasoline engines) and EcoTough-D (for diesel engines). Building on the proven performance of previous EcoTough coatings, the new formulations further reduce engine friction, wear and noise while dealing with the increasingly challenging loads and temperatures that exist in the latest downsized, turbocharged engines.

Gasoline and diesel engines require alternative solutions because of important differences in their relative combustion loads, piston geometry and the lubricity of their respective fuels. Federal-Mogul Powertrain has accommodated these differences by formulating specific coatings, each optimized for either gasoline or diesel application.

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Opel outlines steps in engineering initiative for WLTP-based fuel consumption numbers and improved NOx reduction

March 29, 2016

Opel has outlined the details of its engineering initiative with respect to fuel consumption numbers and improved NOx reductions as announced last December. (Earlier post.)

Starting with the new Opel Astra from June 2016 onwards, and in addition to the official fuel consumption and CO2 information, Opel will publish fuel consumption numbers reflecting different driving behavior recorded under the WLTP test cycle. In addition, Opel will implement an initiative to improve NOx emissions on SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) diesel applications in new vehicles from August onwards.

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IIT team explores combustion, performance and emissions characteristics of HCNG blends in spark ignition engine

March 28, 2016

A new study by a team from the Engine Research Laboratory at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur explores the combustion, performance and emission characteristics of a prototype spark ignition engine operating with different blend ratios of HCNG (hydrogen and compressed natural gas blends). Their paper is published in the journal Fuel.

Use of lower carbon natural gas and carbon-free hydrogen have potential to reduce harmful emissions of criteria pollutants and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and and could displace a portion of conventional liquid fossil fuels, the IIT noted. However, both fuels pose different challenges for use in internal combustion (IC) engines.

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CMU study shows autonomous vehicle algorithms can have considerable effect on fuel economy; need for new approaches in testing

March 24, 2016

Autonomous vehicle driving behavior can have a considerable effect on fuel economy. Researchers in the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University have determined that fuel efficiency for self-driving cars—within the bounds of current fuel economy testing—could improve by up to 10% under efficiency-focused control strategies when following another vehicle.

However, the study also showed that autonomous vehicle (AV) technology following algorithms designed without considering efficiency can degrade fuel economy by up to 3%. In a paper published in the journal Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies, Assistant Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering Constantine Samaras and Ph.D. student Avi Chaim Mersky suggest the need for a new near-term approach in fuel economy testing to account for connected and autonomous vehicles.

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Volvo Trucks unveils new powertrains featuring increased power and 2.2 to 6.5% better fuel efficiency

March 22, 2016

Volvo Trucks North America launched several new integrated powertrain solutions, offering increased fuel efficiency, productivity, reliability, packaging, comfort and uptime. Volvo’s new powertrain offerings include multiple engine enhancements, such as turbo compounding for the Volvo D13 engine; the introduction of Volvo I-Shift with Crawler Gears automated manual transmission; and a one-box Exhaust Aftertreatment System (EATS).

As a result of the improvements, Volvo is delivering between 2.2 to 6.5% better fuel efficiency with the 2017 engines compared with the previous generation.

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Audi unveils redesigned R18 diesel hybrid Le Mans racer for 2016 season

Audi unveiled its redesigned R18 diesel hybrid Le Mans racer for the 2016 World Endurance Championship (WEC) season. Among the new features in the R18 are a more radical aerodynamics concept, including a new safety cell; a Li-ion battery replacing the flywheel energy storage system; and a revised V6 TDI diesel engine. As a result, Audi’s LMP1 sports car is more powerful and more efficient than its predecessor; the new R18 consumes less fuel than any of the generations before it.

The new hybrid TDI powertrain delivers power output of more than 1,000 hp (746 kW), along with 10% less consumption that its immediate predecessor. The current V6 TDI consumes 32.4% less fuel than the first generation did in 2011.

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ETI to launch project to develop Flettner rotor sails for ships; seeking at least 10% improvement in fuel efficiency

March 19, 2016

The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) in the UK is seeking partners for a new project which it hopes will deliver fuel savings of at least 10% for large shipping vessels.

The Flettner Rotor Supply, Install and Commission Project will deliver a full scale demonstrator of Flettner Rotor technology on a large ocean going vessel which the ETI intends to source for the demonstration phase. Flettner rotors use a spinning cylinder to convert the force of the wind into thrust that helps propel the ship.

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ORCnext project concludes waste heat recovery efficiency can be boosted by 20-25%

March 18, 2016

The four-year projet ORCNext, aimed at developing knowledge and design tools for next generation of Organic Rankine Cycles (ORCs), has concluded that waste heat recovery efficiency can be increased by 20 to 25% through appropriate cycle selection, efficient expanders, appropriate control and less oversizing of the heat exchangers.

The project, funded by the government agency IWT, ran from February 2012 to January 2016 and was a partnership between Ghent University, University of Antwerp, University of Liège and Atlas Copco.

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Renault upgrades heavy-duty Trucks T for lower fuel consumption, higher payload

March 17, 2016

Less than three years after its launch and positive feedback from customers, Renault is upgrading the heavy-duty Trucks T to help it be even more cost efficient for its users. The 2016 version of the T benefits from improvements to the chassis and driveline, enabling it to reduce its consumption by up to a further 2%, while at the same time increasing the payload by up to 114 kg (251 lbs). It is also introducing Optivision, a predictive cruise control system with GPS.

Renault pursued three main tracks in the upgrade, in addition to basic engine efficiency improvements: improving the aerodynamics to reduce fuel consumption; reducing the weight to increase payload; and encouraging eco-driving by means of a predictive GPS navigation system, said Sophie Rivière, the Long Haul segment manager at Renault Trucks

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MIT Energy Initiative report on transforming the US transportation system by 2050 to address climate challenges

March 16, 2016

A new MIT Energy Initiative report spearheaded by John Heywood, Sun Jae Professor of Mechanical Engineering Emeritus at MIT, identifies three important paths forward reducing light-duty vehicle energy use and greenhouse gas emissions: improve the existing system and technologies for shorter-term benefits; conserve fuel by changing driver habits for nearer- to longer-term benefits; and transform the transportation system into one that is radically less carbon-intensive for longer-term benefits.

According to the report, “On the Road Toward 2050: Potential for Substantial Reductions in Light-Duty Vehicle Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions,” each element is separately important, but must collectively be pursued aggressively to achieve necessary emissions reductions. More research, development, and demonstration studies are needed to lay the foundation for such a long-term transformation.

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DOE to award $12.5M to improve efficiency of medium- and heavy-duty trucks as part of new tech track for US-China initiative

March 13, 2016

The US Department of Energy is soliciting applications (DE-FOA-0001542) for the formation of a Consortium to pursue five identified R&D topic areas related to improving the operating efficiency of medium- and heavy-duty trucks. The Consortium that is funded through this solicitation will form a new technical track under the US-China Clean Energy Research Center, a bilateral initiative to encourage R&D collaboration and accelerate technology development and deployment in both countries.

Funding available is $12.5 million, and will support the US Consortium. In parallel, and with equivalent resources, Chinese funding will support a collaborative counterpart Chinese Consortium. The US consortium will pursue five topics; responsive application will address all five. These are:

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Argonne and Marathon partner in DOE Optima initiative to co-optimize fuels and engines

March 10, 2016

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory is partnering with Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC) to support an ongoing effort by DOE to explore fuels and engines holistically in search of greater efficiency.

The collaboration between Argonne and MPC is designed to support the “Co-Optimization of Fuels and Engines” initiative, which was recently launched jointly by the DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office and Bioenergy Technologies Office. (Earlier post.) The new collaboration leverages MPC’s and Argonne’s complementary capabilities in fuel design, analysis and production, as well as advanced engine combustion and emissions formation.

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Mercedes-Benz launches new E-Class; new engines, PHEV, driver assistance systems; DRIVE PILOT

March 09, 2016

Mercedes-Benz has launched the new tenth-generation E-Class, introduced at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) this January. (Earlier post.) The new generation features technology innovations in a number of areas, including driver assistance and powertrains, with new efficient engines and a plug-in hybrid version.

Initially, the E 200 d models of the new E-Class will be available with an all-new four-cylinder OM 654 diesel engine (earlier post), while the E 200 will be powered by a four-cylinder gasoline engine and the E 350 d by a six-cylinder diesel.

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EPA and NHTSA seeking comments on new data for Phase 2 Heavy-Duty National Program to reduce GHG

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have issued a Notice of Data Availability (NODA) related to the Phase 2 Heavy-Duty National Program proposed in July 2015 (earlier post) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption for new on-road heavy-duty vehicles and engines.

This NODA provides an opportunity to comment on the new information being made available by the EPA and by NHTSA, including memoranda and data, which been placed in the public dockets. Data relating to the potential stringency of the proposed standards includes:

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2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan EPA-rated at 28 mpg highway, 22 mpg combined; stop/start and PHEV still to come

March 08, 2016

The gasoline-powered version of the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan has earned a highway-cycle fuel-economy rating of 28 mpg US (8.4 l/100km) from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—a benchmark unsurpassed by any minivan on the US market and 12% better than the vehicle Pacifica replaces.

The Chrysler brand’s all-new minivan also has a calculated lifecycle Global Warming Potential (GWP) 9% less than the outgoing vehicle. GWP considers the environmental impact of fuel production and delivery, along with the implications of its consumption. FCA US LLC engineers used industry-standard software to calculate and compare the all-new Pacifica’s GWP with that of the outgoing vehicle over 124,274 miles (200,000 km) of operation.

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ViriCiti, Simacan tool predicts energy usage and savings per route by driving electric

March 04, 2016

ViriCiti B.V., a provider of telematics systems for electric city buses and trucks, and Simacan B.V., a provider of real-time traffic information, are partnering to develop a new online tool that predicts the energy usage and savings per route by driving electric.

The EV Fleet Analyzer provides insights into when the deployment of electric distribution vehicles is profitable. With this tool, ViriCiti and Simacan aim to increase the use of electric vehicles.

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2016 Mazda CX-9 shows 32% improvement in EPA-estimated fuel economy over predecessor; SKYACTIV-G 2.5 turbo

March 02, 2016

Mazda North American Operations released EPA-estimated fuel economy figures for its all-new 2016 Mazda CX-9. Certified at an EPA-estimated 22 mpg city/28 mpg highway/25 mpg combined, when equipped with front-wheel drive, the 2016 CX-9 achieves best-in-class (MY 2016 midsize, three-row, non-hybrid crossover SUVs for sale in the US) city and combined fuel economy ratings and class-leading highway fuel economy.

The second-generation CX-9’s efficiency reflect a 32% improvement compared to its predecessor. (In Canada, NR Canada estimates of fuel consumption put the improvement at 35%.)

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DOE launching $80M Supertruck II initiative; ≥ 55% BTE; awards $12M for 3 medium- and heavy-duty plug-in projects

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is launching SuperTruck II, an $80-million funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0001447), subject to congressional appropriations, for research, development and demonstration of long-haul tractor-trailer truck technology.

The project is a follow-on to the successful $240-million SuperTruck I initiative (earlier post), the goal of which was to develop tractor-trailers that were 50% more efficient on a ton‐mile‐per-gallon basis than baseline models by 2015. Two teams have already exceeded this goal and two are on track to meet it.

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MIT/CalTrans study finds pavement-vehicle interaction accounts for 1% of overall fuel consumption on California highways

March 01, 2016

A recent collaboration between the MIT’s Concrete Sustainability Hub (CSHub) and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) showed that phenomena associated with deflection-induced pavement-vehicle interaction (PVI) accounts for 1% of overall fuel consumption on California highways.

Deflection-induced PVI—which results from a vehicle overcoming a resisting force (i.e. dissipating energy due to deformation of the pavement structure)—results in wasted fuel because the dissipated energy does not contribute to the vehicle’s forward movement. Past studies on PVI and the three elements that impact PVI—texture, roughness, and deflection—have been empirical in approach, using actual trucks on actual pavements. This approach has ignored the pavement layer structure and material properties, and has led to high variability in the reported results.

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Pierburg GmbH electric compressor for turbos

February 24, 2016

Pierburg GmbH, part of the KSPG Group, has developed an electric compressor for spontaneously boosting the charge pressure of engines fitted with an exhaust-gas turbocharger. This component allows pressure to be increased regardless of the exhaust-gas energy availability.

The compressor is compatible with both gasoline and diesel engines. Initial prototypes are now being tested by various customers. The electric compressor fits in well and without any constraints with the proven strategy of downsizing, the company said.

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HRL laboratories team achieves breakthrough in dynamically variable negative stiffness structures

February 22, 2016

Researchers in the HRL Laboratories Sensors and Materials Laboratory have developed an active variable stiffness vibration isolator capable of 100x stiffness changes and millisecond actuation times, independent of the static load. According to Principal Investigator Christopher Churchill, “This performance surpasses existing mechanisms by at least 20 times in either speed or useful stiffness change.”

This isolator has broad applications for makers of automobiles, aircraft, watercraft, rotorcraft, and robotics. An open-access paper on their work is published in the journal Science Advances.

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Diesel/2-methylfuran blends show higher brake thermal efficiency, higher NOx than diesel

Researchers at Wuhan University report on the first comprehensive study of the combustion and emissions performance of blends of diesel and the renewable fuel 2-methylfuran (MF) in compression-ignition engines. Their paper is published in the journal Fuel.

Among their findings were that diesel–MF blends show higher brake thermal efficiency (BTE) than pure diesel. However, diesel–MF blends also lead to higher NOx emissions than pure diesel and the NOx emissions are increased with the increase of MF fraction.

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Audi introducing quattro ultra: predictive, permanently available all-wheel drive for improved efficiency

February 20, 2016

For more than 30 years, Audi quattro has been a permanent all-wheel drive system. (Earlier post.) In 2015, more than 40% of all Audi customers chose a quattro model; the Audi Q5 topped the list with more than 260,000 units.

Audi is now introducing a new “quattro ultra” technology that combines driving dynamics and safety with high efficiency. With quattro ultra, the all-wheel drive is always deactivated when it is not needed, but remains permanently available, significantly reducing the potential fuel consumption difference between front-wheel drive and permanent all-wheel drive. The system is designed for numerous Audi models with longitudinally mounted front engines. An initial variant will debut in the new Audi A4 allroad quattro in mid-2016.

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GM’s new RWD PHEV system for Cadillac CT6 designed for fun-to-drive high performance as well as efficiency; Volt on steroids

February 19, 2016

In a preview of three detailed papers to be presented at the SAE World Congress in April, Tim Grewe, GM’s General Director of electrification, and Pete Savagian, GM General Director of electric drives and systems engineering, provided a technical overview of the new rear-wheel drive PHEV propulsion system for the Cadillac CT6 (earlier post) at the recent SAE 2016 Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Technologies Symposium in Anaheim.

The efficient and very fun-to-drive system, with 335 kW (449 hp) combined system power, propels the CT6 from 0-100 km in 5.6 seconds; delivers an all-electric range of more than 60 km (37 miles) and an all-electric top speed of 125 km/h (78 mph); and features combined fuel consumption of less than 2.0 L/100 km (117.7 mpg US).

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New Multi Stage Hybrid System in Lexus LC 500h; hybrid drive + 4-speed automatic

February 18, 2016

Following the world premiere of the V8-powered LC 500, Lexus is introducing the new LC 500h, featuring the first Multi Stage Hybrid System, the next-generation of hybrid powertrains specifically designed for performance vehicles. The LC 500h delivers total system output of 264 kW (354 hp), with a targeted 0-100 km/h time of below 5 seconds. below 5

The Multi Stage Hybrid System (MSHS) was developed with opposing goals in mind: to create a hybrid with a more sporting and engaging driving experience by closely aligning engine speed with throttle inputs, and to achieve the best possible balance of power and fuel consumption. The new MSHS combines the elements of a Toyota/Lexus traditional full hybrid powertrain—including a 220 kW, 348 N·m 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine, electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack—with a 4-speed automatic gearbox mounted at the rear of the hybrid transmission.

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CPT invests £1M to industrialize switched-reluctance 48V mild hybrid technology; new durability test cells

February 16, 2016

UK-based Controlled Power Technologies, a developer of vehicle driveline electrification technology, has invested £1 million (US$1.4 million) to further industrialize its CO2 and NOx reduction capabilities for the global automotive and transport industries.

CPT specializes in the safe low-voltage application of switched-reluctance machines (SRMs) to a vehicle powertrain and driveline, providing intelligent electrification of the propulsion system with near full hybrid vehicle capability. (Earlier post.) The £1-million spend will support seven projects at the company’s new technical center in Coventry and at its headquarters in Laindon. A significant proportion of the funding targets product and manufacturing process maturity by capital expenditure in new durability test cells at Laindon and a low volume manufacturing facility in Coventry.

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UK study finds fifth of car fuel-efficiency savings eroded by increased driving; long-term rebound effect

February 10, 2016

Around a fifth of the energy-saving benefits of fuel-efficient cars are eroded because people end up driving them more, according to a study into British motoring habits over the last 40 years.

Using data from 1970 to 2011, energy experts at the University of Sussex found a long-term rebound effect among British car-drivers of around 20%. Published in an open access paper in the February issue of the journal Energy Economics, this is the first estimation of this rebound effect—a term used to describe the increased consumption of cheaper energy services—for car travel in Great Britain.

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Study of eco-driving in hybrids finds need for systems that facilitate energy-efficient behaviors

January 30, 2016

A study of eco-driving behavior in hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) by a team from Technische Universität Chemnitz (Germany) and the University of Southampton (UK) has found that simply providing drivers with a technology that has the potential for high energy savings—i.e., a hybrid—is not sufficient to result in high energy savings; systems must be developed in a way that facilitates energy efficient behaviors.

Put another way, they found that eco-driving motivation does not guarantee ecodriving success. Their study showed that even among drivers who were highly motivated for eco-driving, the individual differences in applied ecodriving strategies were still substantial. Building on the results, the team presented a number of suggestions for the design of systems that facilitate ecodriving. A paper on their study is published in the journal Applied Ergonomics.

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Federal-Mogul Powertrain cuts engine valve development time using new simulation model

January 28, 2016

Federal-Mogul Powertrain has developed a simplified transient dynamic simulation model of valve closing action in order to predict dynamic loading on engine valves. By improving the accuracy of calculated deformation and stress under load, the technique enables valve fatigue life to be estimated more reliably and helps to ensure optimum material selection from the early stages of a new engine design.

In the design of intake and exhaust valves for combustion engines, especially those with a high degree of forced induction by supercharging or turbocharging, particular attention is paid to the loading conditions during valve closing.

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ALABC: 48V mild hybrids can meet emission targets with CO2 reductions of 15-20%

January 27, 2016

Current mild-hybrid vehicle projects, in partnership with Ford and Hyundai/Kia, that utilize advanced 48V lead-carbon batteries, can reduce CO2 emissions by 15-20%, according to the latest data from the Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium (ALABC), presented at the Advanced Automotive Battery Conference (25-28 January, Mainz).

The T-Hybrid (based on a Kia Optima) (earlier post) and the ADEPT (based on a Ford Focus) (earlier post) both utilize an advanced 48V lead-carbon battery system with bolt-on electrical components that allow for significant engine-downsizing without loss in performance.

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New Porsche Boxsters up to 13% more fuel efficient with new turbocharged four-cylinder flat engines

Porsche has restructured its Boxster mid-engine roadster lineup, introducing the new 718 Boxster and 718 Boxster S. The launch of the new 718 Boxster generation represents the first time since the late 1960s that Porsche is implementing sports cars with four-cylinder flat (i.e., horizontally opposed, or “boxer”) engines. The outgoing Boxsters were equipped with 2.7-liter, 6-cylinder boxer engines.

The centerpiece of the new model series is the newly developed four-cylinder flat engine with turbocharging. The 718 Boxster develops 220 kW (300 hp) of power from 2.0 liters of engine displacement, while the 718 Boxster S attains 257 kW (350 hp) from 2.5 liters of displacement.

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Hyundai introduces 2017 Elantra with two new powertrains; up to 35 mpg combined with new 1.4L TGDI

January 26, 2016

Hyundai’s all-new 2017 Hyundai Elantra arrives in dealerships this month, featuring two new, more efficient powertrains; lower weight; improved stiffness, and a number of safety and connectivity technologies. Elantra is one of Hyundai’s all-time best-selling models; the 2017 version starts at $17,150—$100 less than the award-winning model it replaces.

The standard engine available on the base SE and Limited trim is a 2.0-liter Nu MPI (multi-port injection) Atkinson four-cylinder engine producing a peak 147 hp (110 kW) at 6,200 rpm and 132 lb-ft (179 N·m of torque at 4,500 rpm.

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DeltaWing partners with DHX Electric Machines; ultra high-torque motors for automotive applications

DeltaWing Technology Group—creators of the DeltaWing vehicle design (earlier post)—and DHX Electric Machines—a Georgia Tech spinout and developer and manufacturer of ultra-high torque density electric machines using proprietary and patented direct cooling technology—announced an agreement granting DeltaWing worldwide rights to make, use and sell DHX electric motors and components specifically designed for automotive applications.

DHX traction motor technology is based on proprietary direct-winding heat exchange cooling technology that is able to remove motor heat at the source—the stator windings. The technology is based on the advanced micro-feature heat exchange research and development efforts of Dr. J. Rhett Mayor (DHX CEO) and Dr. S. Andrew Semidey (DHX VP of Engineering) at the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech.

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Northwestern researchers discover crumpled graphene balls are a promising lubricant additive

Researchers at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering have found that crumpled graphene balls are an extremely promising lubricant additive. In a series of tests, a polyalphaolefin base oil with only 0.01–0.1 wt % of crumpled graphene balls outperformed a fully formulated commercial lubricant in terms of friction and wear reduction. A paper on their work is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

For the average car, 15% of the fuel consumption is spent overcoming friction in the engine and transmission. While oil helps reduce this friction, researchers have long sought additives that enhance oil’s performance. Ultrafine particles are often used as lubricant additives because they are capable of reducing friction and protecting surfaces from wear. They also tend to be more stable than molecular additives under high thermal and mechanical stresses during rubbing. However, they also can aggregate, reducing the effective concentration.

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ExxonMobil projects 25% energy demand increase between 2014-2040, 50% decline in carbon intensity; hybrids to be 40% of new car sales

January 25, 2016

Global energy demand will increase 25% between 2014 and 2040, driven by population growth and economic expansion, ExxonMobil forecasts in the 2016 edition of its annual The Outlook for Energy. At the same time, energy efficiency gains and increased use of renewable energy sources and lower carbon fuels, such as natural gas, are expected to help reduce by half the carbon intensity of the global economy.

During the period, the world’s population will increase by about 2 billion people and emerging economies will continue to expand significantly, according to the forecast. Most growth in energy demand will occur in developing nations that are not part of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Per capita income in those countries is likely to increase by 135%.

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Bosch says its haptic gas pedal can reduce fuel consumption up to 7%; safety warnings via nav and V2X systems

The automotive industry has been exploring the use of haptic gas pedal technologies as a way to reduce fuel consumption and increase safety by signaling the driver using a mechanism such as a vibration or a counterforce in the accelerator pedal. Continental announced its Accelerator Force Feedback Pedal in 2010, Frost & Sullivan anticipates wide premium-segment deployment of the active gas pedal technology post-2018 (earlier post); and Mercedes-Benz offers the technology in the C 350 PLUG-IN HYBRID (earlier post).

Bosch now says that its active gas pedal allows drivers to reduce fuel consumption by as much as 7%. This is possible because the gas pedal can be networked with other automotive functions, such as the transmission. Up to now, the only indication drivers have had of the best time to shift gear has been in the form of small arrows on the instrument display. The active gas pedal comes with the option of a palpable indication of the best time to shift gear.

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Driving Chevrolet’s 2015 Impala Bi-Fuel sedan

January 19, 2016

Chevrolet offers the 2015 Impala full-size sedan as an all-new bi-fuel model—the only manufacturer-produced full-size sedan in North America that can run on both compressed natural gas (CNG) and gasoline. Available at the end of 2015 to both fleet and retail customers in either LS or LT trims, the bi-fuel Impala features a dedicated version of the standard 3.6L V–6, with specific valves and hardened valve seats for improved wear resistance and durability with the CNG fuel system. The engine, mated to a six-speed automatic, is rated at an estimated 260 hp (195 kW) on gasoline and 230 horsepower (172 kW) on CNG.

EPA figures put combined fuel economy in gasoline mode at 20 mpg combined (17 mpg city/25 mpg highway), and 19 mpg combined (16 mpg city/24 mpg highway) with natural gas. That works out to 437 grams CO2 per mile with gasoline, and 343 g CO2/mile with natural gas.

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ORNL team reviews fuel-injection strategies for low-temperature gasoline compression ignition

January 18, 2016

The potential for using low temperature combustion (LTC) in compression ignition engines (i.e., diesel) to reduce NOx and PM while maintaining high efficiency has attracted a great deal of research interest over the past several years. While achieving LTC with diesel fuel over a wide operating range has been shown to be difficult for several reasons, gasoline, with its high volatility and low chemical reactivity, offers a more attractive fuel option for LTC.

Accordingly, in the industry’s quest for lower fuel consumption and emissions, a number of schemes for achieving LTC gasoline compression ignition have emerged. Now, a team of researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s National Transportation Research Center (NTRC) has published a comprehensive, open-access review of a variety of fuel injection strategies being investigated for LTCGCI. The paper is available for download from the International Journal of Engine Research.

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ICCT analysis shows growing divergence between official and real-world fuel economy values for new cars in Europe

January 15, 2016

Researchers at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) have used data from Spiritmonitor.de—a free web service that allows users to track their fuel consumption by entering odometer readings and the amount of fuel added during fill-ups—to calculate the divergence between official fuel consumption values in Europe and real-world performance.

Presented in a working paper, the ICCT findings show that after EU-wide CO2 standards were introduced in 2009, official fuel consumption values decreased by 15% while real-world figures only decreased by 2%.

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Fraunhofer characterizes Alphabet Energy thermoelectric PowerCard; up to 5% fuel economy improvement in automotive

January 14, 2016

Alphabet Energy is commercializing low-cost, efficient thermoelectric materials for power generation leveraging technology initially developed at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. (Earlier post.)

The company has now announced characterization from the Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques IPM of heat flow and thermal resistance (in air) of the Alphabet Energy PowerCard, the company’s core thermoelectric device for power generation. The PowerCard has shipped to customers in a variety of industries, including automotive; has been tested extensively; and is now entering high-volume production.

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Mercedes-Benz introduces new E-Class with PHEV version coming

January 13, 2016

At the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), Mercedes-Benz introduced the 10th generation of its E-Class. The new sedans feature the world premiere of a number of technical innovations including additional driver assistance, infotainment and control systems.

The new E-Class will come with a choice of two engines at market launch: the E 200 with a four-cylinder gasoline engine and the E 220 d with an all-new four-cylinder diesel engine. Further model variants will be added to the range after the market launch, including the E 350 e plug-in hybrid. The E 350 e will deliver some 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) of all-electric range.

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Chrysler introduces Pacifica plug-in hybrid minivan; 80 mpge city, 30-mile AER

January 11, 2016

Chrysler unveiled the all-new 2017 Pacifica minivan in both conventional and plug-in hybrid versions at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. The PHEV is the minivan segment’s first.

The Pacifica Hybrid will deliver an estimated all-electric range of 30 miles from a 16-kWh lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery. In city driving, it is expected to achieve an efficiency rating of 80 MPGe based on US Environmental Protection Agency standards.

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Lux: micro-hybrids will provide the most economical path for automakers to meet 2025 fuel efficiency targets

January 06, 2016

While battery-electric vehicles, super-light carbon fiber composites, and hydrogen fuel cells will all be available, a new report from Lux Research has concluded that micro-hybrids will provide the most economical route—$1,700 additional average vehicle cost—to meet aggressive fuel efficiency targets in 2025: 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) in the US and 95 g CO2/km in Europe.

The Lux report—Building the Car of 2025: How to Cost-Effectively Get to 54.5 MPG Using the Right Mix of Advanced Technologies—concluded that nearly half of the improvements required to meet the targets will come from improvements in micro-hybrid technology, notably through improved batteries, while lighter structural materials will contribute 39% and improved fuels will add 13%.

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Dalian team proposes jet controlled compression ignition to control PCCI phasing in a hybrid pneumatic engine

December 30, 2015

Researchers at the Dalian University of Technology have proposed a novel method to control premixed charge compression ignition (PCCI) phasing in internal combustion engines in all load operations. High-pressure air jet controlled compression ignition (JCCI) is based on a compound thermodynamic cycle and is implemented in a hybrid pneumatic engine (HPE) as proposed by Schechter in 1999.

The application of HPE is also beneficial to the fuel consumption and emissions because of its several flexible operation modes. A paper on the use of JCCI is published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.

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Lux: 48V microhybridization could prove to be cost-effective means of achieving 2025 CAFE targets

December 21, 2015

Lux Research has built a bottom-up model for automotive innovation for fuel economy improvements to analyze the cost-effectiveness of all the various pathways for meeting regulatory fuel consumption and emissions targets.

The roadmap to reducing fuel consumption and emissions from the automotive sector has many options—including lightweight materials, increasing electrification, autonomy, and alternative fuels—but picking the right mix of options is tricky.

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DOE to issue $56M funding opportunity for vehicle technologies in January

December 20, 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) will issue, on behalf of the Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO), a FY 2016 Vehicle Technologies Program Wide Funding Opportunity Announcement, with an estimated $56 million of total program funding, in the January 2016 timeframe.

VTO supports a broad technology portfolio aimed at developing and deploying advanced highway transportation technologies that reduce petroleum consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, while meeting or exceeding vehicle performance and cost expectations. Research, development, and deployment efforts are focused on reducing the cost and improving the performance of a mix of near- and long-term vehicle technologies including advanced batteries, power electronics and electric motors, lightweight and propulsion materials, advanced combustion engines, advanced fuels and lubricants, and other enabling technologies. The January 2016 FOA thus may include the following Areas of Interest, covering that spectrum of interests:

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Infiniti introducing new advanced 3.0L V6 twin-turbo engines for 2016 Q50; up to 6.7% improvement in fuel efficiency

December 18, 2015

Infiniti has developed a new advanced compact and lightweight 3.0-liter V6 twin-turbo engine which is making its debut in a 400 hp configuration for the new 2016 Infiniti Q50, which will premiere at the North American International Auto Show in January.

Key engine features include a compact, lightweight aluminum-alloy engine block and cylinder heads; Gasoline Direct Injection (DIG) system; optimized turbine blade design; turbine speed sensor; electronic wastegate actuator; water-cooled engine charging; e-motor valve timing control; and an integrated exhaust manifold.

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DOE BETO seeking input on Optima initiative for co-optimization of fuels and engines

December 17, 2015

The US Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) and Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) have released a request for information (RFI) (DE-FOA-0001460) titled “Co-Optimization of Fuels and Engines” (Optima).

The Optima program is a key collaborative initiative being pursued by EERE, VTO, and BETO. The Optima initiative is focused on the development of new fuels and engine architectures that are co-optimized—i.e., designed in tandem to maximize performance and carbon efficiency. (Earlier post.) The initiative intends to accelerate the widespread deployment of significantly improved fuels and vehicles (passenger to light truck to heavy duty commercial vehicles) by 2030. Specifically, Optima is targeting a reduction in per-vehicle petroleum consumption by 30% versus the 2030 business as usual.

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Achates OPGCI project targeting 50% fuel efficiency gains over downsized GDI engine at reduced cost

Achates Power will work with Delphi Automotive and Argonne National Laboratory on its ARPA-E-funded project to develop an innovative opposed-piston, gasoline compression ignition (OPGCI) engine. (Earlier post.) The engine should yield fuel efficiency gains of more than 50% compared to a downsized, turbo-charged gasoline direct injection engine, while reducing the overall cost of the powertrain system, said Fabien Redon, Vice President, Technology Development at Achates Power.

ARPA-E will provide initial funding of $9 million to this project over three years; Achates Power, Argonne and Delphi expect to spend a total of $13 million on the program, including cost share. The $9-million award is “one of the largest single ARPA-E awards ever made,” noted Chris Atkinson, the ARPA-E program manager for the Achates project.

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Ford and Corning introduce lightweight Gorilla Glass hybrid windshield technology on Ford GT

Ford and Corning have developed Gorilla Glass hybrid windshield technology—a light-weighting innovation set to debut on the all-new Ford GT. The Gorilla Glass hybrid is thinner and about 30% lighter than traditional laminate glass, and will improve Ford GT handling by lowering the vehicle’s center of gravity and positively impact acceleration, fuel economy and braking performance. The Gorilla Glass hybrid window will be used on both the windshield and rear engine cover of Ford GT.

When tasked with developing lightweight and advanced material vehicle applications, the Ford team approached Corning, a recognized leader in materials science that introduced light and durable Gorilla Glass to the consumer electronics market in 2007. Interested in further exploring potential automotive applications, Ford engaged Corning to help research and develop a unique formulation for exterior vehicle glass.

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Opel to begin publishing WLTP fuel consumption numbers in Q2 2016; improving SCR for NOx reductions

December 15, 2015

Beginning in Q2 2016, and in addition to the official fuel consumption and CO2 information, Opel will start publishing fuel consumption numbers recorded under the WLTP cycle, starting with the new Astra.

In addition, Opel’s diesel engineers have recently started working on an initiative to implement NOx emission improvements on SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) diesel applications. This is a voluntary and early improvement towards the RDE (Real Driving Emissions) legislation that goes into effect in Europe in 2017. Opel said it is committed to providing the testing authorities transparency.

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Torotrak introduces new technologies to enhance V-Charge variable supercharger

December 14, 2015

Torotrak Group presented new technologies for low-cost, high efficiency drive systems at the Berlin CTI symposium and exposition. These developments will allow Torotrak’s V-Charge variable supercharging technology (earlier post) to compete with the latest boosting solutions coming to market, but without their integration challenges.

In a technical paper titled, “Low-cost developments in full-toroidal variator technology”, Chris Gaskell, one of the design engineers responsible for new concepts and intellectual property for the Torotrak Group, introduced and described two new proprietary technologies, called PitchSteer and DriveDisconnect.

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U Wisconsin team investigates RCCI and GCI in single engine using adaptive dual-fuel injector

December 10, 2015

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have investigated blending the benefits of reactivity controlled compression ignition (RCCI) and gasoline compression ignition (GCI) using QuantLogic’s novel adaptive dual-fuel injector which is capable of direct injecting both gasoline and diesel fuel in a single cycle.

Working with Deyang Hou, the founder of injection technology company QuantLogic, they reported on the computational optimizations of RCCI and GCI in a paper in the International Journal of Engine Research.

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Volkswagen: CO2 “irregularities” issue largely concluded; no unlawful changes

December 09, 2015

In early November, the Volkswagen Group announced that during the course of its internal investigation into the diesel emission cheating issue, it had uncovered “irregularities” when determining type-approval CO2 levels. (Earlier post.) Some 800,000 vehicles in Europe could be affected, the company said.

Today, Volkswagen announced that, “following extensive internal investigations and measurement checks,” almost all of those model variants do correspond to the CO2 figures originally determined.

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GFEI: vehicle fuel economy is below global targets, jeopardizing action on climate and energy; failure of policy

December 08, 2015

Worldwide, the vehicle fleet is not making enough progress on fuel economy and is failing to reach global targets aimed at reducing CO2 emissions, cutting oil consumption and improving energy efficiency according to a new report from the Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI) (earlier post) released at the Paris COP21 Climate Summit.

The new report shows that while fuel economy is improving in OECD countries, progress is still below the rate needed to hit global targets by 2030. Meanwhile, developing countries—where vehicles markets are set to grow massively—are failing to make any substantial improvements in fuel economy, and are way off target as measured by the GFEI. The GFEI targets—which are reflected in the new global Sustainable Development Goals—include a 50% reduction in l/100km by 2030 in all new cars worldwide.

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Achates Power wins $9M from ARPA-E to develop gasoline compression ignition medium-duty multi-cylinder opposed-piston engine

November 24, 2015

Achates Power, the developer of a family of two-stroke compression-ignition opposed-piston engines (earlier post), has been selected by APRA-E under its OPEN 2015 solicitation (earlier post) for an award of more than $9 million to develop a multi-cylinder opposed piston engine operating with compression ignition that uses gasoline as the fuel.

The unthrottled nature of the compression ignition process provides high engine efficiency while achieving compliant exhaust emissions with conventional, low-cost aftertreatment. This—in addition to the opposed engine architecture—could increase fuel efficiency by 40-50% over the comparable spark-ignited gasoline engine, Achates said.

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Continental and Fallbrook to collaborate on new CVTs for urban mobility incorporating Fallbrook NuVinci technology

November 20, 2015

Continental has entered into licensing and engineering services agreements with Fallbrook Technologies Inc. (Fallbrook). The central focus of the collaboration is Fallbrook’s NuVinci transmission technology. (Earlier post.)

This innovative continuously variable planetary (CVP) is a new class of continuously variable transmission (CVT) utilizing rotating balls that allow the transmission ratio to change continuously.

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Elio introduces Gen5 three-wheeler prototype at LA Auto Show

Elio Motors introduced its three-wheeled P5 fifth-generation prototype at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The company is targeting a launch date of late 2016 for the enclosed vehicle that is expected to deliver to 84 mpg and retail for a targeted base price of $6,800.

The P5 is the company’s first prototype to feature the 0.9-liter, 3-cylinder 60 hp (45 kW) engine designed specifically for Elio Motors by engine developer IAV. (Earlier post.)

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U-M teams with Argonne, Idaho national labs to study potential energy savings of connected vehicles

November 19, 2015

The University of Michigan is working with two US Department of Energy national laboratories to study whether connected and automated vehicles could help people drive more efficiently. U-M, with Argonne National Laboratory and Idaho National Laboratory, won a three-year, $2.7 million grant from DOE to fund the research.

Reuben Sarkar, DOE deputy assistant secretary for transportation, announced the grant Wednesday during a conference at U-M. He called it an “incubator award” to help DOE learn more about connected and automated vehicles, which are a growing focus for the agency.

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Propel Fuels reports strong consumer adoption of renewable diesel in SoCal; retail sales up 300% over biodiesel

November 18, 2015

Propel launched Diesel HPR across Southern California in August 2015, and consumer adoption of the fuel has risen 300% compared to its former biodiesel product (B20). (Earlier post.) Utilizing Neste’s NEXBTL renewable diesel, Propel’s Diesel HPR is a low-carbon, drop-in renewable fuel that meets the ASTM D-976 petroleum diesel specifications for use in diesel engines, while offering drivers better performance and lower emissions.

Performance features include a 75 cetane rating, 40 percent higher than regular diesel. Diesel HPR provides cleaner and more efficient combustion for more power and a smoother ride at a cost similar to or lower than petroleum diesel.

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ICCT benchmarking report finds wide 51% gap between most- and least- fuel-efficient transatlantic airlines

November 17, 2015

The gap between the most- (Norwegian Air Shuttle) and least- (British Airways) fuel-efficient airlines on 2014 transatlantic operations was 51%—roughly twice the performance gap between the best and worst US airlines on domestic operations (25% in 2014), according to a newly released study by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). The new report is an extension of ICCT’s work benchmarking US airline fuel efficiency on domestic operations since 2010 (earlier post).

The gap in carbon intensity on international flights is larger than expected, which holds implication for ongoing efforts by policymakers to constrain emissions growth.

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New Ford Escape launching with two new EcoBoost engines with standard Auto Start-Stop

The new Ford Escape, being showcased at the Los Angeles Auto Show, is the first Ford vehicle to make Auto Start-Stop standard with either of two EcoBoost engines new to the model—a 1.5-liter and 2.0-liter twin-scroll.

The start-stop technology senses when the vehicle is sitting idle and shuts off the engine to conserve fuel, resulting in a 4 percent to 6 percent improvement in fuel economy in stop-and-go traffic. The engine restarts automatically—in less than half a second—when the driver releases the brake pedal.

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Kia outlines 5-year plan for more green vehicles; Optima PHEV, Niro hybrid, FCV; $10.2B investment

November 16, 2015

Kia Motors outlined its mid- to long-term plans for the development of a greatly increased range of environmentally friendly vehicles, with the goal of becoming a leader in the low-emissions car market by 2020. Kia said it intends to expand its green car line-up from four current models to 11 by 2020, including hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery-electric and fuel cell electric vehicles.

The five-year development plan will see Kia further increase its investment in research and development (R&D) into fuel-efficient technologies and new products, with a range of all-new models and highly advanced powertrains for global markets.

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Report finds road transportation sector in Canada likely to fall far short of 2050 GHG emissions reduction target

November 12, 2015

A new Conference Board of Canada report finds that Canada is unlikely to achieve an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2050. Even when taking into account reduced distances traveled per vehicle, improvements in fuel efficiency, and greater market penetration of alternative technology vehicles, Canada falls short of the 80-by-50 target.

Despite voluntary and regulatory initiatives that have improved the emissions efficiency of passenger and freight transportation, emissions from road transportation are increasing due to growing number of cars on the road and Canadians’ changing preference for light trucks. Canada’s road transport emissions were 40% higher in 2013 than in 1990. Between 1990 and 2013, transportation emissions accounted for nearly half of the growth of Canada’s total emissions levels, with road transport accounting for the largest share of transportation emissions.

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Chevy Colorado diesel pickup EPA-rated at up to 31 mpg highway

The 2016 Chevrolet Colorado two-wheel drive with the Duramax turbo-diesel (earlier post) will be the most fuel efficient pickup in the US, offering an Environmental Protection Agency-estimated 31 mpg (7.58 l/100 km) highway fuel economy. The EPA-estimated highway fuel economy for 2016 Colorado four-wheel drive diesel is 29 mpg.

The EPA has issued a Certificate of Conformity for the Chevrolet Colorado Duramax diesel. The agency expressed no issues or concerns following its recent extensive testing and evaluation of the emission control system on the Colorado Duramax diesel.

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Ford EcoBoost US sales up 46% year-to-date; tracking to top 1 million in US in 2015 for 1st time

November 11, 2015

Year-to-date, total sales of EcoBoost-powered Ford vehicles are up 46%; F-150, Escape and Fusion are the top-selling EcoBoost-powered Ford vehicles. Ford expects 2015 will be the first year in which EcoBoost-equipped vehicles in the United States exceed 1 million sales.

For 2015, EcoBoost is available on every non-hybrid light-duty passenger vehicle in Ford’s US lineup. The technology combines smaller engines with turbocharging, direct injection and variable valve timing—as well as Ford’s proprietary EcoBoost engine management software—to deliver improved fuel efficiency along with performance. Ford’s global EcoBoost engine family now includes the 1.0-liter three-cylinder; 1.5-liter, 1.6-liter, 2.0-liter and 2.3-liter four-cylinder engines; and the powerful 2.7-liter and 3.5-liter V6 engines. A Lincoln-exclusive 3.0-liter V6 debuts in 2016.

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ORNL, industry partners using high-performance computing to develop new high-temperature aluminum alloys for engines

The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, FCA US LLC, and Nemak, a specialist in the production of high complex aluminum components for the automotive industry such as cylinder heads and engine blocks, are partnering to create lightweight powertrain materials that will help the auto industry meet the mandated target of 54.5 mpg (4.3 l/100 km) by 2025. Using high-performance computing, ORNL researchers are modeling the atomic structure of new alloys to select the best candidates for physical experimentation.

The ORNL-led project is part of a new initiative from DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office to develop such new high-performance alloys. Ford, General Motors and FCA US are collaborating with national laboratories, universities and the casting industry to develop an affordable, 300 ˚C-capable high-strength cast aluminum alloy.

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2017 Cadillac XT5 initiates new series of Cadillac luxury crossovers; cylinder deactivation and stop/start

November 10, 2015

Cadillac unveiled the first 2017 Crossover Touring 5 (XT5), a comprehensively upgraded luxury crossover and the cornerstone of a new series of crossovers. Cadillac crossovers will wear the “XT” designation. The XT5 premieres this month at the Dubai and Los Angeles auto shows and begins production in the US and China in spring 2016.

The new luxury crossover joins Cadillac’s lineup immediately following the new range-topping CT6 Sedan, as the brand enters a new phase of product growth. In the US market, the 2017 Cadillac XT5 will be powered by the new 3.6-liter V6 engine which debuted earlier this year on the brand’s ATS and CTS sport sedans and is featured on the CT6. This engine has been completely redesigned and features Active Fuel Management cylinder deactivation technology, which allows the engine seamlessly and automatically to switch to a fuel-saving 4-cylinder mode under low or moderate loads.

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Toyota announces expected fuel economy and pricing for RAV4 Hybrid: 33 mpg combined, entry at $28,370

November 06, 2015

Toyota anticipates that the 2016 RAV4 Hybrid—unveiled earlier this year at the New York International Auto Show (earlier post) and the eighth hybrid in Toyota’s line-up—will receive EPA ratings of 34 mpg city / 31 mpg highway / 33 mpg combined (6.9, 7.6 and 7.1 l/100 km, respectively) for both 2016 RAV4 Hybrid models. The RAV4 Hybrid comes in two premium grades: XLE and Limited. The RAV4 gasoline version comes in four grades: LE, XLE, Limited and the new SE.

The manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) for the 2016 RAV4 Hybrid will be $28,370 for the AWD XLE and $33,610 for the AWD Limited. MSRP for the 2016 RAV4 gasoline models will range from $24,350 for the LE 2WD to $32,910 for the AWD Limited.

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VW uncovers irregularities in type-approval CO2 levels affecting about 800K vehicles as part of diesel investigation

November 03, 2015

The Volkswagen Group announced today that during the course of its internal investigation into the diesel emission cheating issue, it uncovered “irregularities” when determining type-approval CO2 levels. Based on present knowledge, around 800,000 vehicles from the Volkswagen Group could be affected, the company said.

Under the ongoing review of all processes and workflows in connection with diesel engines, Volkswagen investigators established that the CO2 levels—and thus the fuel consumption figures—for some models were set too low during the CO2 certification process. The majority of the vehicles concerned have diesel engines.

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ICCT updates US airline fuel efficiency rankings; Alaska stays on top, American on bottom

October 22, 2015

The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) has released its annual update on the fuel efficiency of US airlines. (Earlier post.) The report, which covers US airlines in domestic operations in 2014, highlights a continuing gap in the carbon intensity of US carriers, and comes as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) meets in Montreal to debate proposals that will serve as the basis for future US regulation.

The ICCT team found that the gap between most- and least-efficient airlines has narrowed slightly to 25%, and overall industry fuel efficiency has improved by 1.7% on an RPM (revenue passenger miles) per fuel basis, due in large part to a 1% increase in average passenger load factor to 84% in 2014and higher seating densities (and greater passenger discomfort) on domestic flights.

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New efficient hybrid optimization control method for diesel engine emissions and performance

October 19, 2015

Researchers at Iowa State have developed a new hybrid optimization control method to improve diesel engine emissions and performance. As reported in a paper in the International Journal of Engine Research, the hybrid method, which combines both particle swarm optimization (PSO) and genetic algorithm (GA) methods was able to locate a narrow window of operation which showed 27% lower NOx emissions and 60% lower particulate matter emissions than a standard PSO method.

The hybrid method was also able to locate the improvements using similar dynamometer time, indicating that the hybrid method is more efficient and more effective, the researchers said.

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EPA: jatropha-based biofuels could qualify as biomass-based diesel or advanced biodiesel under RFS

Based on its analysis of the production and transport components of the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of biofuel made from jatropha oil, the US EPA anticipates that biofuels produced from jatropha oil could qualify as biomass-based diesel or advanced biofuel under the Renewable Fuel Standard program if typical fuel production process technologies or process technologies with the same or lower GHG emissions are used. EPA has published its analysis in the Federal Register and is inviting comment.

Background. The RFS regulations lists three critical components of an approved fuel pathway: (1) Fuel type; (2) feedstock; and (3) production process. EPA uses lifecycle analysis to assess the overall greenhouse gas (GHG) impacts of a fuel throughout each stage of its production and use.

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Volvo Cars introduces new compact architecture; expects electrified vehicles to be 10% of total sales by 2020

October 15, 2015

Volvo Cars will extend its range of compact cars into new segments based on its new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA)—a smaller version of Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) (earlier post). The company’s first car on CMA is expected to be launched in 2017. CMA’s introduction in 2017 means that all future Volvo cars will be built on just two fully scalable and wholly modular vehicle architectures.

The company also announced its electrification strategy in which plug-in hybrids will be introduced across its entire range. Volvo Cars will also develop an entirely new range of electrified smaller cars and build a fully electric car for sale by 2019.

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Toyota announces aggressive environmental targets through 2050; cutting new vehicle CO2 by 90% compared to 2010

October 14, 2015

Addressing key global environmental issues such as climate change, water shortages, resource depletion, and degradation of biodiversity, the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050 aims to reduce the negative impact of manufacturing and driving vehicles as much as possible. The challenge comprises six individual challenges across three areas: Ever-better cars, quantified as reducing global average new-vehicle CO2 emissions by 90% by 2050 compared to Toyota’s 2010 global average; ever-better manufacturing (zero CO2 emissions at all plants by 2050); and enriching the lives of communities.

As a key step toward achieving these long-term targets, Toyota is announcing its Sixth Toyota Environmental Action Plan, which will be enacted between April 2016 and the end of March 2021.

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Toyota details powertrain advances in Gen4 Prius; available E-Four system for all-wheel drive (not for US)

October 13, 2015

Toyota made significant improvements in its new generation full hybrid powertrain applied in the fourth generation Prius (earlier post), reducing losses, redesigning and relocating key components and reducing weight. Extensive changes to the transaxle, engine and combined hybrid system, generate an expected improvement in EPA estimated MPG on core models of up to 10% (i.e., up to ~55 mpg US combined), with an Eco model that will achieve an even greater improvement.

In a presentation outlining the changes to the new Prius system, Shunsuke Fushiki from Toyota’s Hybrid Engineering Management Division noted that the new engine contribues about 28% of the improvement in fuel efficiency; hybrid system management contributes about 26%; the new electric motor, 16%; new transaxle and PCU, 13% each; and new battery packs, 4%.

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Argonne study finds lightweight material substitution increases vehicle-cycle GHGs, but results in total life-cycle benefit

October 12, 2015

A team at Argonne National Laboratory has taken a closer look at vehicle-cycle (all processes related to vehicle manufacturing) and vehicle total life-cycle (vehicle-cycle plus fuel cycle—i.e., the use phase) impacts of substituting lightweight materials into vehicles.

In a study published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, they reported that while material substitution can reduce vehicle weight, it often increases vehicle-cycle greenhouse gas emissions GHGs—for example, replacing steel with wrought aluminum, carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CRFP), or magnesium increases the vehicle-cycle GHGs. However, lifetime fuel economy benefits often outweigh the vehicle-cycle, resulting in a net total life-cycle GHG benefit, they found. This is the case for steel replaced by wrought aluminum in all assumed cases, and for CFRP and magnesium except for high substitution ratio and low fuel reduction value.

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