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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.]

Polestar modestly optimizes Volvo V60 diesel Plug-in Hybrid

August 15, 2014

Polestar, the motorsport and performance collaboration with Volvo Cars, has introduced a modest Performance optimization of the Volvo V60 diesel Plug-in Hybrid. (Earlier post.) The Polestar optimization increases the power output to a total of 298 hp (222 kW) and 670 N·m (494 lb-ft), making it the strongest ever diesel model from Volvo.

The new optimization boosts the power of the 5-cylinder, 2.4-liter turbodiesel diesel engine by 15 hp and 30 N·m, including an optimized power graph. Combined with the 50 kW, 200 N·m electric motor on the rear axle (the same as in the original), acceleration improves to 0-100 km/h in 6.0 seconds, with unchanged fuel consumption and emission levels: 1.8 l/100 km (131 mpg US) and 48 g/km.

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SCAQMD funding Siemens test of eHighway overhead catenary system for electric trucks in California

August 06, 2014

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Siemens and Scania have been conducting joint research into the electrification of road freight traffic with a focus on optimizing the integration of the drive system and pantograph into the vehicle and on providing the necessary traffic control systems. Copyright: Scania. Click to enlarge.

Siemens will conduct trials of its eHighway system (earlier post) in California on a two-mile (3.2 km) stretch of highway after installing a catenary system for electric and hybrid trucks in the vicinity of the largest US ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The company was awarded the associated contract by Southern California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD). The objective is to eliminate local emissions such as nitrogen oxides completely and to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels and cut the operating costs of trucks. The test results should be available in the summer of 2016, and will indicate the suitability of the systems for future commercial use.

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Volkswagen and Audi launch sustainability programs for US introduction of e-Golf BEV and A3 e-tron PHEV; carbon offsets with 3Degrees and solar energy

August 05, 2014

Volkswagen of America, Inc. introduced several e-mobility sustainability initiatives to commence with the US launch of the battery-electric e-Golf (earlier post). These begin with an investment in carbon reduction projects via a partnership with 3Degrees to offset emissions created from e-Golf production, distribution and from the estimated emissions produced from keeping the vehicle charged through the initial 36,000 miles of its life. VoA made the announcement at the Management Briefing Seminar, hosted by the Center for Automotive Research.

Volkswagen of America also selected SunPower as VW’s official solar energy partner; Bosch Automotive Service Solutions as its preferred home-charging and installation services provider; and ChargePoint to provide charging stations to the VW dealer network and to provide US e-Golf owners access to consumers to more than 18,000 charging stations nationwide. The 2015 e-Golf will go on sale later this year at participating dealerships in select states.

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Audi A3 Sportback e-tron plug-in hybrid sales start in Europe; 157 mpg US

July 31, 2014

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A3 e-tron. Click to enlarge.

Audi’s first plug-in hybrid, the A3 Sportback e-tron (earlier post), is now available to order for customers in Europe. Approximately 410 Audi dealers in Europe—including 105 in Germany—are selling the A3 e-tron. Pricing on the German market is €37,900 (US$50,800).

The Audi A3 Sportback e-tron brings together a 1.4 TFSI gasoline engine and an electric motor, giving the compact automobile a system output of 150 kW (204 hp). The A3 Sportback e-tron’s fuel consumption in accordance with the NEDC standard for plug-in hybrid vehicles is 1.5 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers (157 mpg US), with CO2 emissions of 35 grams per kilometer (56.3 g/mi).

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Mercedes-Benz S 500 Plug-In Hybrid goes on sale; 84 mpg US

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S 500 Plug-In Hybrid. Click to enlarge.

Mercedes-Benz has begun taking orders for the new S 500 Plug-In Hybrid (earlier post), with prices (in Germany, including 19% VAT) from €108,944.50 (US$146,000); the sedan will begin arriving at dealerships in September.

The Mercedes-Benz S 500 Plug-In Hybrid offers a combined system output of 325 kW (442 hp) and 650 N·m (479 lb-ft) torque; acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h takes 5.2 seconds, and the plug-in hybrid has an all-electric range of up to 33 km (20.5 miles). The certified fuel consumption is 2.8 liters/100 km (84 mpg US), which corresponds to 65 g CO2/km emissions. (Earlier, Daimler had projected fuel consumption of 3.0 l/100 km.)

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IIHS small overlap front crash testing finds mixed small car results; Volt wins 2014 Top Safety Pick+ award

The Mini Cooper Countryman was the only small car to earn a good rating among the latest group of 12 cars subjected to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) small overlap front crash test. Two battery- electric models and a hybrid also are in the mix, with varied results.

The Chevrolet Volt extended range electric vehicle and the Ford C-MAX Hybrid earned an acceptable rating in this test, while the battery-electric Nissan LEAF earned a poor rating. The gasoline-powered Mazda 5 small four-door wagon is rated poor.

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GKN to supply 500 electric flywheel hybrid drive systems to Go-Ahead Group for buses

July 29, 2014

UK transport operator Go-Ahead Group has ordered 500 electric flywheel Gyrodrive systems from GKN Hybrid Power for use in buses. The Gyrodrive Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) system (featured in Audi’s LeMans-winning R18 e-tron quattro) harvests braking energy normally lost as heat.

When the driver brakes, a traction motor on one of the axles slows the vehicle, generating electricity at the same time. This electricity is used to charge the flywheel, spinning it at up to 36,000 rpm. When the driver accelerates, the system works in reverse. The energy is drawn from the flywheel and converted back into electricity to power the traction motor, which helps accelerate the bus back up to speed, generating fuel savings of more than 20% at a significantly lower cost and weight (60 kg, 132 lbs) than battery hybrid alternatives. Useable stored energy is 1.2MJ, with peak power of 120kW.

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Porsche introducing new plug-in Cayenne S E-Hybrid SUV; third plug-in from Porsche

July 24, 2014

The new generation of the Cayenne will enter the market later this year in five versions: Cayenne S, Cayenne Turbo, Cayenne Diesel, Cayenne S Diesel and—in a world premiere—the Cayenne S E-Hybrid, the first plug-in hybrid in the premium SUV segment. The introduction of this model, together with the Panamera S E-Hybrid (earlier post) and the 918 Spyder, will give Porsche three production plug-in hybrid models. (Although, with a US MSRP of $845,000, the 918 Spyder (earlier post) is a little out of the range of what we might consider a volume production model.)

The new plug-in Cayenne S E-Hybrid is displacing the Cayenne S Hybrid (a parallel full hybrid introduced in 2010) from the line-up—as the Panamera S E-Hybrid did to the older Panamera hybrid. The Cayenne S E-Hybrid shares most of the plug-in powertrain components of the Panamera S E-Hybrid.

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New Volvo XC90 offering two new enhanced automated safety features and new automatic parking capability

July 22, 2014

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The new XC90 will automatically brake should the driver turn in front of an oncoming vehicle. Click to enlarge.

Volvo Cars’ new mid-size SUV XC90—which will be revealed in August—will offer two new “world-first” automated safety features: auto brake when turning in front of an oncoming vehicle; and a solution focusing on accidental road departure. These innovations will form part of a suite of safety features that will make the all-new XC90 one of the safest cars ever made, Volvo Cars claims. The company has a strategic goal that no one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car by 2020.

The new XC90, which is based on the company’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) and will offer a plug-in hybrid version (earlier post), also features IntelliSafe support technologies including an extended Park Assist Pilot, which now also offers automatic reversing into a parking bay as well as entering and exiting a parallel parking spot. The XC90 can also display a digitally created bird’s-eye view of the 360° area around the car on the large center screen.

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First high-heat plastic air intake manifold with integrated charge air cooler in production on hybrid sports car

July 18, 2014

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Plastic air intake manifold with integrated CAC for 3-cylinder 1.5-liter engine.

The world’s first high-heat plastic air intake manifold (AIM) with integrated charge air cooler (CAC) in Stanyl Diablo, Royal DSM’s high-temperature-resistant polyamide 46, recently went into production on a recently introduced hybrid sports car—by its description (although not by confirmation from DSM) the BMW i8 (earlier post). Royal DSM noted that the use marks another major step forward in the use of thermoplastics in automotive high-heat zones.

The injection-molded AIM/CAC manifold operates at 220 °C and withstands pulses of high internal pressure. DSM worked closely together with a leading system supplier to develop the AIM/CAC combination, with DSM providing extensive development and processing support. The part is made in Stanyl Diablo OCD2100, which contains 40% glass fiber reinforcement as well as a specially developed and patented heat stabilizer. This grade has a continuous-use temperature of 220 °C and is able to withstand peak temperatures up to 250 °C.

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Refreshed 2014 Toyota Yaris features revamped 1.0L engine with switching between Atkinson and Otto cycles; new hybrid

July 16, 2014

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2014 Yaris Hybrid. Click to enlarge.

Toyota’s refreshed 2014 Yaris for Europe offers a choice of four powertrains, including a thoroughly reworked 3-cylinder 1.0 gasoline unit that is the first member of a new family of 14 highly efficient engines to be launched by 2015. With a thermal efficiency of 37%, the engine delivers a combined-cycle fuel consumption of 4.1 l/100 (57.4 mpg US), and CO2 emissions reduced to 95 g/km in conjunction with a stop/start system. (Mass-produced gasoline engines on average have a thermal efficiency of between 30 and 35%, Toyota said.)

The hybrid powertrain has also been revamped, with its CO2 emissions reduced still further to 75 g/km and corresponding combined-cycle consumption lowered to 3.3 l/100 (71.3 mpg US). A 4-cylinder, 1.33-liter gasoline engine and 1.4-liter diesel complete the range.

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New Mercedes C-Class Estate offers new 1.6L diesel, diesel hybrid options; gasoline plug-in hybrid model coming

July 15, 2014

Mercedes-Benz is adding a new Estate (wagon) model to its C-Class family starting in September 2014. The powertrain range for the Estate, which includes diesel, gasoline and hybrid options, features a new 1.6-liter 4-cylinder diesel (OM 626) produced by Renault. Compared with the predecessor Estate, certain members of the line-up consume in excess of 20% less fuel.

Depending on its configuration, the single-stage turbocharged engine generates 85 or 100 kW (116 or 136 hp) of power from a displacement of 1598 cc and delivers 280 or 300 N·m (207 or 221 lb-ft) of rated torque. Fuel consumption for both variants is rated at 4.3 l/100 km (54.7 mpg US) NEDC.

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BMW Group and Samsung SDI expand partnership on electric drive batteries; i3, i8 and additional hybrid models

The BMW Group and Samsung SDI have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to expand their supply relationship for battery cells for electro-mobility. Samsung SDI will supply the BMW Group with battery cells for the BMW i3, BMW i8 and additional hybrid models over the coming years.

The most important elements of the agreement are the increase in quantities delivered over the medium-term in response to growing demand for electro-mobility, and further technological development of battery cells.

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Mercedes-Benz outlines synergies between F1 motorsport and production car engineering

July 10, 2014

Mercedes-Benz has outlined areas of actual synergies between its F1 motorsport activities with Mercedes AMG Petronas and Mercedes-Benz Cars. While there is definitely a technology transfer between race and road car engineering, said Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical) at Mercedes AMG Petronas, “it’s a more subtle process than bolting bits from one car onto another.

There are examples of direct transfer—such as the Nanoslide technology used to coat cylinder bore surfaces (earlier post)—and then there are examples of indirect transfer, such as F1 serving as a research laboratory for developing new solutions and showing the world what is possible, he noted.

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Volvo XC90 SUV PHEV to offer up to 400 hp and low GHG emissions of around 60 g/km

July 08, 2014

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Powertrain of the Volvo XC90 Twin Engine PHEV. A two-liter, four-cylinder supercharged and turbocharged Drive-E gasoline engine powers the front wheels and an 80 hp (60 kW) electric motor drives the rear wheels. The battery pack is located in the center of the vehicle. Click to enlarge.

Volvo Cars’ all-new XC90 SUV, to be launched later this year, will offer up to 400 horsepower (298 kW) but with CO2 emissions as low as around 60 g/km (NEDC driving cycle). The new XC90 will offer a range of Drive-E engine options, all of which are 4-cylinder engines. (Earlier post.)

For the all-new XC90 seven-seater, the top of the range “Twin Engine” will be a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and carry a T8 badge. Normal driving is conducted in the default hybrid mode. This utilizes a two-litre, four-cylinder supercharged and turbocharged Drive-E gasoline engine that powers the front wheels and an 80 hp (60 kW) electric motor that drives the rear wheels.

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Navigant forecasts MHD vehicle market to nearly double by 2035 with declining share of conventional engines; gases win out over electricity

July 07, 2014

The number of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (MHDVs) in use worldwide will nearly double between 2014 and 2035, according to a new forecast report by Navigant Research. Navigant projects that annual MHDV sales will grow throughout the forecast period at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.4%.

Alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs)—including battery-electric (BEVs), plug-in hybrid (PHEVs), propane autogas (PAGVs) and natural gas vehicles (NGVs)—will grow from 5.0% of the market in 2014 to 11.2% by 2035. A majority of these AFVs will be NGVs and PAGVs. Vehicles running primarily on hydrogen and electricity will make up less than 1% of all MHDVs in 2035, according to Navigant.

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Lexus NX compact utility arrives in North America

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2015 Lexus NX 300h. Click to enlarge.

Lexus has introduced the new Lexus NX compact utility, first unveiled in Beijing (earlier post) to North America. The 2015 Lexus NX debuts in two versions, the NX 200t with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and the NX 300h hybrid with 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine, which brings the brand’s number of hybrid offerings to six—the most among luxury brands.

Among the features of the hybrid is a new transmission with a kick-down function. Further, the hybrid battery pack is split into two separate pods for better weight distribution, with the additional benefit of more efficient use of cabin space. Both NX models offer their own version of pro-active all-weather drive (AWD). The new Lexus NX features numerous other firsts in a Lexus, among them:

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Report finds progress in UK Low Carbon Emissions Bus uptake, but a need to review incentives

July 06, 2014

Despite the recent uptake of low carbon emission buses (LCEBs) in the UK, significant barriers remain to sustained market growth, and there are risks of current progress being disrupted, according to a new report prepared for the UK LowCVP by Transport & Travel Research Ltd, in partnership with TRL.

LCEBs are defined as vehicles producing at least 30% fewer lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than a current Euro-III-equivalent diesel bus of the same total passenger capacity. The well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions, expressed in grams of carbon dioxide equivalent measured over a standard test, take into account both the production of the fuel and its consumption.

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World premiere of new Volkswagen Passat; 8th generation brings plug-in hybrid option

July 04, 2014

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The new Volkswagen Passat. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen unveiled the eight-generation Passat (earlier post) at the Volkswagen Design Centre in Potsdam. The new Passat made its global debut with new engines, less weight and with the latest assistance, Infotainment and convenience systems. The new Passat delivers improved fuel efficiency (up to 20%); diesel and gasoline powertrains; up to 85 kg less weight, and a plug-in hybrid option. At 1.1 million units a year (2013) Passat is the Volkswagen Group’s model series with the highest volume sold world-wide.

The new Passat will be available with 10 direct injection turbocharged gasoline and diesel engines—all new to the model range—covering a power range from 88 kW / 120 PS (118 hp) to 206 kW / 280 PS (276 hp). The engines all meet Euro 6 emission standards and both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions were lowered by up to 20%. All versions are equipped with a stop-start system and a regenerative braking mode. A dual clutch gearbox (DSG) is available as an option for all engine versions, and it is standard with the top engine.

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EDI partners with Greenkraft for parallel-series multi-mode Class-4 CNG-PHEV truck; CEC funding

June 30, 2014

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Greenkraft truck. Click to enlarge.

Efficient Drivetrains, Inc. (EDI), a producer of plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) and continuously variable transmission (CVT) solutions (earlier post), is partnering with Greenkraft, CALSTART, and the California Energy Commission (CEC) to develop a Class-4 vehicle that combines the benefits of compressed natural gas (CNG) and PHEV technology. EDI was co-founded by Professor Andy Frank from UC Davis—a key figure in the development of the PHEV concept and technology—in 2006.

The effort combines EDI’s intelligent multi-mode PHEV powertrain (EDI-Drive) with Greenkraft’s CNG-powered 14,500-pound, Class-4 medium-duty truck, which is equipped with a 6.0L GM engine. EDI’s solution can improve the fuel economy of a conventional CNG-powered medium-duty truck by more than 40%, the company said.

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US Hybrid awarded contract to deliver plug-in fuel cell shuttle bus to Hawaii County Mass Transit Agency

June 19, 2014

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The hydrogen shuttle bus. Click to enlarge.

California-based US Hybrid Corporation has been awarded a contract by the Hawaii Center for Advanced Transportation Technologies (HCATT) for the design, integration and delivery of its H2Ride Fuel Cell Plug-In Shuttle Bus for operation by the County of Hawaii Mass Transit Agency’s (MTA) HELE-ON Big Island bus service. The project is funded by the State of Hawaii and Office of Naval Research via the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI).

Integrated at US Hybrid’s Honolulu facility, the 25-passenger shuttle bus utilizes a 30 kW fuel cell fueled by a 20 kg hydrogen storage and delivery system. The fuel cell and 28 kWh lithium-ion battery pack power the vehicle’s 200 kW powertrain, air conditioning, and auxiliary systems. Onboard batteries are recharged by regenerative braking as well as grid charging. The US Hybrid fuel cell, powertrain, and vehicle controller optimizes power delivered by the energy storage and fuel cell power plant.

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Lightning Hybrids releases initial emissions testing results for medium-duty hydraulic hybrids

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The Lightning Hybrid system. Click to enlarge.

Lightning Hybrids, a maker of hydraulic hybrid systems for medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses (earlier post), released initial results from emissions testing conducted by an independent testing facility in Colorado of two medium-duty trucks upfitted with the Lighting Hybrids system. The results show decreases in NOx of up to 90% and decreases in CO2 emissions of up to 16% over the same baseline vehicle, depending upon the drive cycle tested.

Lightning Hybrids tested two vehicles: a 2013 Ford E450 6.8-liter V10 and a 2010 GMC 3500 Savana Cutaway 6.0-liter V8. Both vehicles were first tested without Lightning’s hydraulic hybrid system to provide a baseline with which to compare the results with the hybrid system installed.

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Scaleo chip and IFP Energies nouvelles unveil OLEA microcontrollers in a plug-in hybrid car

June 18, 2014

Scaleo chip, a fabless semiconductor company specializing in automotive electronics, and IFP Energies nouvelles (IFPEN) announced the “FlexHybrid powered by OLEA”, the first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) driven by OLEA microcontrollers. (Earlier post.) The OLEA family of multicore powertrain microcontrollers implements AMEC (Advanced Motor Events Control) hardware for real-time engine control and events processing and the ISO 26262 ASIL-D SILant (Safety Integrity LeveL agent) functional safety architecture.

Scaleo chip, IFPEN, Continental and CEA partnered within the NextSTEP program (Next Solution for Thermal and Electrified Powertrain), to demonstrate the ability of Scaleo chip’s OLEA microcontroller’s to control the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle FlexHybrid. This program was also actively supported by Bpifrance, the French public investment bank.

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Audi takes one-two win at Le Mans with its diesel hybrids, Toyota third; 13th success for Audi in 16 runs

June 15, 2014

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Audi takes first and second at the 2014 Le Mans. Click to enlarge.

In front of nearly 300,000 spectators at the 82nd running of the Le Mans 24 Hours, Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer (CH/D/F) and Lucas di Grassi/Marc Gené/Tom Kristensen (BR/E/DK) secured a one-two Audi victory in the LMP1 class with the R18 e-tron quattro diesel hybrids.

It marked the 13th Le Mans success for Audi in a tough race that was open for a long time. In the first hours, the Le Mans hybrid-drive prototypes of Audi (earlier post), Porsche (earlier post) and Toyota (earlier post) were battling it out on the Le Mans high-speed circuit. The decision in favor of Audi was only made in the penultimate hour.

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California online dashboard provides information about PEV buyers; importance of incentive funds, $130M from California paid out to date

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Survey results show the importance of incentives in PEV purchases. Click to enlarge.

A new online tool published by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) and California Center for Sustainable Energy offers the general public, researchers, policymakers and stakeholders the opportunity to learn about who is buying plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) in California, and why. The online “EV Driver Survey Dashboard” offers multiple approaches to analyzing the data provided by a survey of those who received rebates for purchasing PEVs.

The dashboard gathers data from California plug-in electric vehicle drivers, providing monthly updates of market data on a variety of demographic and behavioral topics. The survey data sample represents CVRP applicants who purchased their vehicle between September 2012 and April 2014. Surveys were collected between October 2013 and May 2014.

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Ohio State team wins EcoCAR2 competition with E85 series-parallel plug-in hybrid Malibu

June 13, 2014

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OSU’s series-parallel PHEV. Click to enlarge.

The US Department of Energy and General Motors Co. announced that the Ohio State University (OSU) team was the overall winner of the EcoCAR 2: Plugging In to the Future finals. The OSU team’s engineered 2013 Chevrolet Malibu featured a series-parallel plug-in hybrid drive with E85-fueled engine technology.

The OSU EcoCar2 Malibu featured an A123 18.9 kWh battery pack used with an 80 kW peak electric machine on the rear axle to provide power to the rear wheels through a single-speed gearbox. The vehicle’s front powertrain utilized a 1.8 L, high-compression-ratio engine recalibrated to run on E85 fuel and an 80 kW peak electric machine to provide power to the front wheels through a six-speed automated manual transmission. The vehicle is capable of operating in charge-depleting, charge-sustaining series and charge-sustaining parallel modes.

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2014 Audi R18 e-tron Quattro Le Mans racer consumes about 40% less fuel than first TDI engine at Le Mans in 2006

June 09, 2014

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Audi is racing three R18 e-quattros at Le Mans. Click to enlarge.

The Audi R18 e-tron quattro diesel hybrids (earlier post) that will race at Le Mans this coming weekend (14-15 June) are the lightest and most fuel efficient LMP1 racers has yet to bring to the track. New WEC regulations require up to 30% less fuel use this year.

For the powertrain, Audi, in the 25th year of the TDI engine, has developed a new diesel 4.0-liter V6 unit for Le Mans. It has been purposefully designed for efficiency and, together with many other optimizations of the race car, such as aerodynamics, helps save energy. Compared with the 2006 5.5-liter V12 Audi R10 TDI, the first TDI engine used at Le Mans, the current race car consumes about 40% less fuel while achieving comparable lap times.

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New passenger vehicle diesel registrations in US up 11.5%, hybrids up 65% from 2010-2013; diesel 2.5x hybrids

June 05, 2014

New registrations of all types of diesel passenger vehicles—passenger cars, light-duty trucks, vans, SUVs and heavy-duty pickup trucks (> 8,500lbs gvwr)—increased 11.5% (from 6,337,460 units to 7,068,439), and registrations of hybrid-electric passenger vehicles increased 65% (from 1,717,601 units to 2,826,885) from 2010 through 2013, according to a new analysis and supporting data released by the Diesel Technology Forum. Diesel registrations were 2.5 times those of hybrids over the period, according to the data.

When looking only at cars and SUVs over that period, diesel registrations in the US increased 30% from 640,779 units to 833,324 units; registrations of hybrid cars and SUVs climbed 65% from 1,714,966 units to 2,821,599. Hybrid car and SUV registrations were 3.4 times those of diesel cars and SUVs.

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Dearman Engine signs MOU with Hubbard Products for integration of liquid air engine TRU; report details liquid air benefits

June 04, 2014

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Dearman liquid air engine in a TRU system. Click to enlarge.

The Dearman Engine Company has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Hubbard Products Ltd to manage the vehicle integration of the Dearman engine liquid air transport refrigeration system (TRU) (earlier post). Part of the worldwide Zanotti group, Hubbard Products is the UK’s principal designer, manufacturer and supplier of refrigeration systems and units and the leaders in refrigeration for commercial vehicles and refrigerated vans.

The objective of this collaboration is to advance the technical, commercial and industrial development of the Dearman engine transport refrigeration system to a stage where Hubbard can manufacture, integrate and market cooling systems incorporating the Dearman engine in commercial volumes. The announcement of the MOU was concurrent with a release of a report—Liquid Air on the Highway—detailing the environmental benefits of the liquid air engine.

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Industry study finds lead-acid to remain most wide-spread automotive energy storage for foreseeable future; new chemistries continue to grow

May 28, 2014

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Overview of the three vehicle classes identified in the study, and their corresponding battery technologies. Click to enlarge.

There would be a significant impact on the overall performance and cost of vehicles, plus an effect on targets for fuel efficiency and reduced CO2 emissions, if established battery applications were to be replaced with alternative technologies, according to a new study published by associations representing the European, Japanese and Korean automotive industry (ACEA, JAMA and KAMA); EUROBAT (the Association of European Automotive and Industrial Battery Manufacturers) and the International Lead Association (ILA).

The study, which provides a joint industry analysis of how different types of batteries are used in different automotive applications, concludes that lead-based batteries will by necessity remain the most wide-spread energy storage system in automotive applications for the foreseeable future.

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Volkswagen provides first technical details of Gen 8 Passat, including plug-in hybrid drive; multiple new assistance systems

May 27, 2014

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Among the features of the coming eighth-generation Passat is a lighter weight design and a new 2.0L bi-turbo diesel. A plug-in hybrid drivetrain will be on offer, also, making Passat Volkswagen’s third model with a PHEV option. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen has revealed the first technical details of the all-new Passat sedan and wagon—including the plug-in hybrid drive option—ahead of the cars’ unveiling in July, their public premiere at the Paris Motor Show in October, and their arrival in the first tranche of world markets in the fourth quarter. The eighth-generation Passat leverages advanced materials—including high-strength, hot-formed steel and aluminium in certain areas—to drop up to 85 kg (187 lbs) compared to its predecessor, helping it to claim expected fuel-efficiency improvements of up to 20%.

A highlight of the new MQB-based Passat’s range of engines is a high-performance, four-cylinder, 2.0-liter, bi-turbo diesel delivering 240 PS (237 hp, 177 kW) and 500 N·m (369 lb-ft) from 1,750 rpm. This engine will be available only with a new seven-speed DSG gearbox and 4MOTION all-wheel drive. A plug-in hybrid model will also be offered, with potential to travel 31 miles (50 km) powered by a 9.9 kWh battery pack alone power alone, and with a potential combined maximum range of around 600 miles (966 km).

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Lux: 48 V micro-hybrid market will pass 7M vehicles in 2024; promising for LTO Li-ion batteries

May 26, 2014

According to a new forecast by Lux Research, the likely 48 V micro-hybrid market will exceed 7 million vehicles in 2024, with the first adoption year beginning in 2015 and more focused on premium vehicles, in which cost sensitivity in order to reach regulation targets without sacrificing performance is lower.

Europe will lead global demand with 2.6 million units sold in 2024, followed by the US and China. With 1.6 million units, China will be the third-largest market for 48 V micro-hybrids despite having a more attractive total cost of ownership than 48 V micro-hybrids sold in the US. This is due to stricter long-term regulations in the US as well as a greater need to ramp up fuel efficiency to catch up to regulations, Lux said. Europe will lead all other key markets in terms of adoption percentage, with 48 V micro-hybrids representing 11% of all vehicle sales in 2024, according to the forecast.

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Navigant forecasts plug-in and fuel cell vehicles to be 2.5% of all vehicles in use in 2035; global parc of >2B vehicles

May 20, 2014

In a new report, Navigant Research estimates that nearly 84.1 million new light-duty vehicles (LDVs) will be sold globally in 2014, putting more than 1.2 billion vehicles on the world’s roads. The company forecasts that annual LDV sales will grow to 126.9 million in 2035, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.0%. The number of LDVs in use worldwide will grow by 72.4% over the forecast period—i.e., to more than 2 billion vehicles.

Navigant forecasts that sales of conventional ICE vehicles will fall significantly over the period, experiencing a CAGR of -6.7%; the share of vehicles in use with conventional ICE powertrains will thus fall from 95% in 2014 to 45% in 2035. Navigant suggests that conventional ICE vehicles will be mainly supplanted by stop-start vehicles (SSVs), which will grow from representing fewer than 3% of vehicles in use in 2014 to around 45% in 2035. Hybrid-electric and natural-gas (HEVs and NGVs) will account for almost 8% of global share, while plug-in hybrid (PHEV), battery-electric (BEV), and fuel-cell electric (FCV) together will add up to almost 2.5% of the LDVs in use in 2035.

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Toyota and Denso develop SiC power semiconductor for power control units; targeting 10% improvement in hybrid fuel efficiency

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Toyota intends to leverage the benefits of high frequency and high efficiency of SiC power semiconductors to enable PCU downsizing of 80%. Click to enlarge.

Toyota Motor Corporation, in collaboration with Denso Corporation (Denso) and Toyota Central R&D Labs., Inc. (Toyota CRDL), has developed a silicon carbide (SiC) power semiconductor for use in automotive power control units (PCUs). Toyota will begin test driving vehicles fitted with the new PCUs on public roads in Japan within a year.

Compared to silicon, SiC power semiconductors lose 1/10 the power and drive frequency can be increased by a factor of ten. This enables the coil and capacitor, which account for approximately 40% of the size of the PCU, to be reduced in size. Through use of SiC power semiconductors, Toyota aims to improve hybrid vehicle (HV) fuel efficiency by 10% under the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism’s (MLIT) JC08 test cycle and reduce PCU size by 80% compared to current PCUs with silicon-only power semiconductors.

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Gamma Technologies and Sendyne introducing comprehensive hybrid and EV simulation with integrated battery model

May 14, 2014

Gamma Technologies, in cooperation with Sendyne Corp., is introducing an advanced technology platform for comprehensive electric and hybrid vehicle simulation that combines Gamma’s GT-Suite vehicle simulator with Sendyne’s CellMod CPM and RTSim real-time solver. This new platform provides total electric and hybrid vehicle multi-physics simulation including engine, vehicle, electric machines, cooling, and aftertreatment systems, along with a Compact Physical Model (CPM)-based virtual battery pack.

Total vehicle simulation can reduce time to market, improve performance and cut costs by aiding in the optimization of the power delivery system. In order to ensure high accuracy of complete hybrid powertrain simulations, it is important that models capture the temperature-sensitive behavior of the involved components and the flow of energy between subsystems.

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Volkswagen Group 2014 sustainability report shows progress on key environmental performance indicators; Strategy 2018 and leadership in e-mobility

May 08, 2014

The Volkswagen Group continues to make progress on the way to its goal of becoming the world’s most sustainable automaker, according to its 2014 sustainability report. The report provides information on the progress achieved in economic, environmental and social sustainability in 2013, and was drawn up in accordance with the G3 Guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). For the first time this involved the use of an IT system that in future will be expanded for Group-wide data acquisition and control activities, as well as for stakeholder management within the Group.

In the reporting year 2013, average energy consumption per vehicle produced was 2,205 kWh, down 0.4% from 2,213 kWh in 2012 and down 12.5% below the figure for the base year of 2010. Per vehicle CO2 emissions in 2013 were 422 kg, down 6% from 449 kg in 2013 and 19.5% lower than the 588 kg of the base year of 2010. The Group now takes one-third of its electric power from renewable sources.

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Lux: Panasonic has 39% share of plug-in vehicle batteries, thanks to its deal with Tesla

May 07, 2014

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Panasonic jumps to top of the plug-in vehicle battery leaderboard, overtaking NEC and LG Chem. Source: Lux Research. Click to enlarge.

Batteries for hybrids and plug-in vehicles are growing fast, more than tripling over the past three years to reach 1.4 GWh per quarter, according to the Automotive Battery Tracker from Lux Research. Panasonic has emerged as the leader thanks to its partnership with Tesla, capturing 39% of the plug-in vehicle battery market, overtaking NEC (27% market share) and LG Chem (9%) in 2013.

Lux Research analysts used historical and current vehicle sales, detailed battery specifications for each car, and supplier relationships to create the Automotive Battery Tracker.

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Chrysler to introduce PHEV models in 2016 and 2017 to meet ZEV requirements; new FCA gasoline engine family coming in 2015

May 06, 2014

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ (FCA) Chrysler Brand will launch two plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV) over the next several years, said Al Gardner, President and CEO of the Chrysler Brand, during the FCA Investor Day presentations at Auburn Hills, Mi.

One will be a PHEV version of the new Chrysler Town & Country minivan to be introduced in 2016; the second will be a PHEV version of a new full-size crossover vehicle to be introduced in 2017. Neither is the result of immediate wide-spread customer demand, noted Bob Lee, VP and Head of Engine, Powertrain and Electrified Propulsion Systems Engineering for Chrysler Group LLC, later in the day:

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ICCT study details differences in fiscal policies to support uptake of EVs across 11 major markets

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2012 and 2013 market share vs. per-vehicle incentive for battery-electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric PHEV (where applicable, only company car market incentives shown here). Source: ICCT. Click to enlarge.

The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) has published a new white paper detailing the differences in the fiscal policies used to support electric vehicle sales across eleven major auto markets. Tax exemptions and subsidies are playing a key role in spurring electric vehicle markets, but in widely divergent ways, the report by Peter Mock and Zifei Yang finds.

The ICCT study is the first to evaluate the response to fiscal incentives in 2013 to incentivize the purchase of plug-in electric vehicles in major vehicle markets worldwide. It offers a synthesis of wide-ranging sales data, national taxation policy information, and direct electric vehicle purchasing rebates to analyze the link between government policy and electric vehicle sales. To do so, it focuses on two representative vehicles, the Renault Zoe battery-electric vehicle (BEV) and the Volvo V60 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV).

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BYD’s “5-4-2” performance standard for New Energy Vehicles; 3 models over 3 years

May 01, 2014

Using the recent Beijing Auto Show as its stage, BYD introduced its new “5-4-2” New Energy Vehicle performance standard and a series of cars designed to meet it. “5” represents the maximum time in seconds to accelerate from zero to 100 km/h (0-60 mph in less than 5 seconds) in future car models. “4” stands for the number of wheels under power; BYD’s future new energy cars will be integrated with all-wheel drive. “2” stands for the maximum liters of gasoline maximum that will be consumed for 100 km traveled in a BYD car—i.e., 2.0 l/100 km, or 118 mpg US.

BYD introduced its first 5-4-2 vehicle at the show, the Tang plug-in hybrid SUV. Tang accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in only 4.9 seconds, has a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine paired with two electric motors and consumes less than 2L of fuel in 100 km traveled.

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UK APC selects four powertrain projects for $51M in funding; contributing to next-gen Ford EcoBoost

April 30, 2014

UK Business Secretary Vince Cable recently announced the first four automotive technology projects to be funded by the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) (earlier post) with grants totaling £30.3 million (US$51 million); the projects that will help develop next-generation engines (including the Ford EcoBoost) and see Formula 1 technology applied in buses and excavators.

The jointly funded government and industry APC will invest around £1 billion (US$1.7 billion) over the next 10 years to develop, commercialize and manufacture greener and more efficient technologies for engines of vehicles of the future. The four projects are the winners of an up to £75 million competition that the Technology Strategy Board launched in partnership with the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) and the Automotive Council in December 2013.

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DOE to award up to $10M for projects advancing Zero Emission Cargo Transport (ZECT)

The US Department of Energy (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), on behalf of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Office of Vehicle Technologies (OVT) Program, has issued a funding opportunity announcement (DE-FOA-0001106) to award up to $10 million for projects to accelerate the introduction and penetration of electric transportation technologies (ETT) into the cargo transport sector for Zero Emission Cargo Transport (ZECT).

Goals for awards resulting from this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) include demonstrating reductions of 1) petroleum use, 2) greenhouse gas emissions, and 3) criteria pollutant and toxics emissions. Other goals include evaluating the market viability of cargo ETT and collecting detailed information to analyze the benefits and viability of this freight transportation approach for this and other non-attainment areas.

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UK to invest $841M from 2015-2020 to boost ultra low emission vehicle industry

April 29, 2014

The UK government announced plans to invest £500 million (US$841 million) between 2015 and 2020 to boost the ultra low emission vehicle (ULEV) industry and help drivers both afford and feel confident using electric cars.

The automotive industry is worth £11.2 billion (US$18.8 billion) to the UK economy, the government said. The production of ultra low emissions vehicles is a major part of growth both now and for the future. Full details of the elements of the €500-million plan will be published by autumn 2014; briefly, the different schemes include:

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SWASH pilot boat with Siemens diesel hybrid drive system; ELFA packaged in a tube

April 25, 2014

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The Explorer is a SWASH (Small Waterplane Area Single Hull) vessel with a torpedo-shaped float located centrally underneath the hull. The boat’s propulsion system is also located in this tube. Copyright: Abeking & Rasmussen AG. Click to enlarge.

A diesel hybrid-electric pilot boat is under test on the Elbe River in Germany. The vessel, named Explorer, is a SWASH (Small Waterplane Area Single Hull) vessel with a torpedo-shaped float located centrally underneath the hull. The boat’s propulsion system is also located in this tube. The vessel remains stable in the water even in rough seas and is relatively light, thus reducing fuel consumption.

The tube contains a flexible and compact EcoProp Hybrid system, which is based on the ELFA drive system that was originally developed for buses. At the heart of the system is an electrical machine that can serve either as a motor or a generator. When the boat is being propelled by the diesel engine, the latter also supplies energy to the generator.

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Navigant: US to remain largest national plug-in vehicle market over next 10 years; Tokyo to take metro market lead spot from LA

April 24, 2014

Navigant Research forecasts that the United States will remain the largest national market for light-duty plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) during the next 10 years, with LD PEV sales exceeding 514,000 in 2023. Currently, North America is the strongest market for light duty PEVs with nearly 100,000 sold in 2013, according to the market research firm. Japan is a distant second, with just under 30,000 sales, followed by the Netherlands (more than 23,000) and China (more than 17,000).

Navigant Research forecasts that the global LD PEV market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.6% while the global market for LD vehicles will grow at a CAGR of only 2.6% during that period. Navigant Research estimates the US PEV market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.3% between 2014 and 2023. Canada, which is about 1 year behind the United States in terms of vehicle availability, is expected to have a CAGR of 25.4%, reaching more than 66,000 vehicles in 2023.

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Toyota Central R&D developing free-piston engine linear generator; envisioning multi-FPEG units for electric drive vehicles

April 22, 2014

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Toyota’s FPEG features a hollow step-shaped piston, combustion chamber and gas spring chamber. Click to enlarge.

A team at Toyota Central R&D Labs Inc. is developing a prototype 10 kW Free Piston Engine Linear Generator (FPEG) featuring a thin and compact build, high efficiency and high fuel flexibility. Toyota envisions that a pair of such units (20 kW) would enable B/C-segment electric drive vehicles to cruise at 120 km/h (75 mph). The team presented two papers on the state of their work at the recent SAE 2014 World Congress in Detroit.

The FPEG consists of a two-stroke combustion chamber, a linear generator and a gas spring chamber. The piston is moved by the combustion gas, while magnets attached to the piston move within a linear coil, thereby converting kinetic energy to electrical energy. The main structural feature of the Toyota FPEG is a hollow circular step-shaped piston, which Toyota calls “W-shape”. The smaller-diameter side of the piston constitutes a combustion chamber, and the larger-diameter side constitutes a gas spring chamber.

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New Toyota TS040 HYBRIDs take 1st and 2nd at Six Hours of Silverstone in UK; new Porsche 919 Hybrid takes 3rd

April 21, 2014

Toyota Racing scored a one-two finish (#8 taking first, #7 second) from pole position in the Six Hours of Silverstone with its new TS040 HYBRIDs (earlier post) in a the first race of the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship season. Porsche’s new 919 Hybrid with two energy recovery systems (earlier post) posted a third its in its first race.

Track conditions varied from completely dry to torrential rain, which ultimately saw the race red flagged less than 30 minutes before the checkered flag. Rain initially came around the 40-minute mark. Both Toyota cars pitted for new tires, the #7 taking wets and the #8 taking hybrid intermediates. With the rain soon easing, hybrid intermediate tires proved the most effective.

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

April 20, 2014

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2015 Lexus NX 300h. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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Volkswagen Group launching major electro-mobility campaign in China; $25B on new vehicles, technologies and plants up to 2018

The Volkswagen Group is launching a major electro-mobility campaign in China—the the biggest initiative for e-mobility in China’s automotive history, said Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen AG, on the eve of the Auto China motor show in Beijing. The initiative gets underway with the launch this year of the Volkswagen brand’s battery-electric e-up! (earlier post) and e-Golf (earlier post) models.

The Porsche Panamera S E-hybrid plug-in hybrid (earlier post) is already in the showrooms in China; the Group will launch two further plug-in hybrid vehicles there next year with the Audi A3 e-tron (earlier post) and the Golf GTE (earlier post). Starting in 2016, this will be followed by two models developed specially for the Chinese market: These are the Audi A6 (earlier post) and a new mid-size limousine from the Volkswagen brand, both plug-in hybrids which are being developed together with the joint venture partners FAW Volkswagen and Shanghai Volkswagen and will be produced locally.

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Audi presents plug-in hybrid TT offroad concept car at Beijing; wireless charging

April 19, 2014

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Audi TT offroad concept. Click to enlarge.

Audi is presenting an Audi TT offroad concept at the Beijing International Automobile Exhibition. Like many of the brand's new production models, the Audi TT offroad concept is also based on the versatile modular transverse matrix (MQB). The TT concept features a plug-in hybrid drive with two electric motors and a system output of 300 kW (408 hp) and 650 N·m (479 lb‑ft) of system torque.

The show car accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 5.2 seconds and reaches an electronically governed top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph). Fuel consumption is 1.9 liters per 100 kilometers (123.8 mpg US), a CO2 equivalent of 45 grams per kilometer (72.4 g/mile). The Audi TT offroad concept can drive more than 50 kilometers (31.1 miles) solely on electric power, and has a total range of up to 880 kilometers (546.8 miles).

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Mercedes-Benz’ anticipatory energy management system for hybrids

April 17, 2014

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The Intelligent HYBRID operating strategy manages the state of charge of the battery to exploit the potential for energy recuperation. Click to enlarge.

Mercedes-Benz has developed an intelligent energy management system for hybrid vehicles that assesses the road ahead and takes it into account. The objectives of the “Intelligent HYBRID” system are to maximize the benefit of recuperation energy and to provide driving pleasure through the boost effect of the electric motor. (Earlier post.)

The Intelligent HYBRID operating strategy, which Mercedes-Benz has employed in the S-Class since summer 2013 and now also uses in the new C-Class, ensures that the high-voltage battery is always charged only enough to take advantage of all opportunities for recuperation provided by the route and the terrain.

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Volvo Cars introducing S60 plug-in hybrid concept at Beijing show; production version in early 2015

April 16, 2014

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Illustration of drivetrain in the S60L plug-in hybrid concept. Click to enlarge.

Volvo Car Group (Volvo Cars) will reveal the Volvo S60L PPHEV (Petrol Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) Concept Car at the 2014 Beijing International Auto Show. A production version of the S60L plug-in hybrid will be launched in China early 2015 and will be produced at the Chengdu plant.

The S60L PPHEV Concept Car features the same electrification technology as the Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid, the first diesel plug-in hybrid, on sale in Europe. (Earlier post.) In the S60L, however, the diesel engine of the V60 has been replaced with a new, two-liter, four-cylinder gasoline turbocharged engine from Volvo Cars’ new Drive-E engine family (earlier post).

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Survey of power management control technologies for HEVs and PHEVs suggests future need to consider vehicle as part of larger system

April 11, 2014

A comprehensive survey of major power management control algorithms for hybrid-electric (HEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) proposes that future work will need to consider the vehicle as part of a larger system which can be optimized at an even larger scale.

This type of large-scale optimization will require the acquisition and processing of additional information from the driver and conditions outside the vehicle itself, suggests Dr. Andreas Malikopoulos, Deputy Director of the Urban Dynamics Institute and an Alvin M. Weinberg Fellow in the Energy and Transportation Science Division with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

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Audi and partner FAW to cooperate on plug-in hybrid for China; Audi A6 e-tron on long-wheelbase A6

April 09, 2014

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The Audi A6 L e-tron concept presented at Auto China 2012 in Beijing. Click to enlarge.

Together with its Chinese joint-venture partner FAW, Audi will launch a plug-in hybrid car for the Chinese market. The Audi A6 e-tron will be based on the long-wheelbase version of the Audi A6, which is already produced in China, and will be specially developed for the China market—Audi’s “most important,” according to the company. No details on powertrain specifications or market timing are yet available, according to Audi.

The full-size sedan will offer a 50-kilometer (31-mile) all-electric range when operating solely under battery power and is to be produced within the joint venture by FAW-Volkswagen in Changchun in northern China. In 2012, Audi unveiled an Audi A6 L e-tron concept at Auto China in Beijing with an all-electric driving range of 80 km (50 miles). At that time, Audi said that with its first e-tron technology study in the luxury class, it was showing what a locally produced New Energy Vehicle from Audi might look like.

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GM investing $449M in Hamtramck and Brownstown for next-gen electrification; vehicles and batteries

April 08, 2014

In preparation for the next generation of electric vehicles and advanced battery technologies, General Motors will invest $449 million to upgrade manufacturing processes at its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly and Brownstown Battery Assembly plants.

The investment is the largest to date at both facilities and includes $384 million at Detroit-Hamtramck for new body shop tooling, equipment, and additional plant upgrades to build the next generation Chevrolet Volt and two future products. This brings GM’s total investment at Detroit-Hamtramck to more than $1 billion over the last five years.

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ERTRAC publishes roadmap on energy carriers and powertrains; role for power-to-gas

April 07, 2014

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Main technology trends and the vision share of engines in Europe. [ERTRAC / EUCAR] Click to enlarge.

The European Road Transport Research Advisory Council (ERTRAC) has published a new roadmap assessing energy carriers and powertrains in the context of the European target to achieve a 60% reduction in CO2 emissions from transport by 2050. ERTRAC is the European Technology Platform (ETP) for Road Transport recognized and supported by the European Commission. ERTRAC has more than 50 members, representing all the actors of the Road Transport System: transport industry, European associations, EU Member States, local authorities, European Commission services, etc.

The analysis concludes that while the goal is challenging, it is also realizable; however the overall high-level goals need to be segmented into precise targets for the different industries and stakeholders. For the topic of future road mobility these are the development of alternative and decarbonized fuels and energy carriers; and higher powertrain efficiency leading to cleaner mobility and reduction in resource demand.

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Among BMW’s highlights at New York Show are new diesel X3, plug-in hybrid concept X5

April 04, 2014

Making its North American debut at the New York International Auto Show 2014 will be the updated 2015 BMW X3 Sports Activity Vehicle, which will include the X3 xDrive28d, the first BMW Advanced Diesel X3 model for the US. BMW is also using the show to present the latest version of what it sees as the logical next step towards reducing fuel consumption and emissions in the sports activity vehicle SAV segment: the plug-in hybrid BMW Concept X5 eDrive. (Earlier post.)

X3. The newest X3 builds on the success of the second generation model with enhancements including new engine and drivetrain options. A new offer of BMW Advanced Diesel power for the US in the X3 xDrive28d will enhance efficiency while further reducing emissions. There will also be the first-time offer of the gasoline-engined rear-wheel drive BMW X3 sDrive28i for the US market.

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Volkswagen Group’s MQB plug-in hybrid powertrain; foundation for Golf GTE, A3 e-tron, and more

April 03, 2014

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The MQB plug-in hybrid powertrain serves both the A3 e-tron and the Golf GTE. Source: Volkswagen AG. Click to enlarge.

The first two mainstream plug-in hybrid electric vehicles from the Volkswagen Group—e.g., not the $845,000 base price plug-in hybrid Porsche 918, earlier post, or even the $100,000 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, earlier post—the Golf GTE (earlier post) and the A3 e-tron (earlier post), are both based on the same MQB (Modularen Querbaukasten, or modular transverse toolkit) plug-in hybrid powertrain.

The Volkswagen Group’s MQB modular toolkit is one of the four main modular toolkits (modularen Baukästen) of the Group: the MQB (transverse); the MLB (longitudinal); the MSB (standard drive); and the NSF (New Small Family). The toolkits standardize many vehicle component parameters across brands and vehicle classes, while at the same time offering access to new technologies, such as alternative drive systems. The new Mark 7 Golf, which is MQB-based, offers gasoline; diesel; natural gas; plug-in hybrid (the GTE); and battery-electric (the e-Golf) versions, all of which can be manufactured bumper-to-bumper on the same assembly line. The MQB spans the A0 to C segments.

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

April 02, 2014

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

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

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ZSW: more than 400,000 plug-in cars on road worldwide at beginning of 2014; 2x 2013

April 01, 2014

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Accumulated number of xEVs in leading global markets. Annual growth rate over the past three years is more than 100%. Click to enlarge.

At the beginning of 2014, there were more than 400,000 electric cars—battery-electric, plug-in hybrid, and range-extended electric vehicles—on the road worldwide, according to an analysis by Zentrums für Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoff-Forschung Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) in Germany. This represents a doubling from 2013, according to ZSW.

According to ZSW, the number of registered electric vehicles worldwide has increased at an annual rate of more than 100% over the last three years. At the beginning of 2012, nearly 100,000 of the cars were on the roads worldwide. This rose year later to a total of 200,000, and then to 405,000 units earlier this year.

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GKN acquires Williams Hybrid Power flywheel-based energy storage system business

GKN plc, the global engineering group, has acquired Williams Hybrid Power Limited (WHP) from Williams Grand Prix Engineering Limited. WHP specializes in the design and manufacture of composite flywheel-based energy storage systems, initially focused on the bus, truck and tram markets. The new business will be called GKN Hybrid Power.

GKN and WHP have been working together to validate the use of this technology. GKN said that now that this stage has been reached, it is appropriate for it to use its global resources and manufacturing capability to maximize the commercial opportunities that exist.

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Berkeley Lab study finds hybrids more fuel efficient in India, China than in US

March 31, 2014

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Improvement in fuel consumption in India of a hybrid vehicle over a conventional vehicle. Click to enlarge.

In a pair of studies using real-world driving conditions, scientists at the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) found that hybrid cars are significantly more fuel-efficient in India and China than they are in the United States due to traffic and driving conditions in those countries.

They found that driving a hybrid would achieve fuel savings of about 47 to 48% over a conventional car in India and about 53 to 55% in China. In the United States, hybrids are rated to produce a fuel savings of about 40% over their conventional counterparts. Currently hybrid and electric vehicles have a tiny share of the market in India and China and are seen as a higher-end product.

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Walmart showcases WAVE tractor-trailer at MATS; micro-turbine range extended electric vehicle with 45.5 kWh Li-ion pack

March 28, 2014

Walmart showcased its Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience (WAVE) at the Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS) in Louisville, Ky. WAVE is a tractor-trailer combination that features leading edge aerodynamics; an advanced turbine-powered range extending series hybrid powertrain; electrified auxiliary components; and control systems.

The project aims to demonstrate a wide range of advanced technologies and designs Walmart is considering in an effort to improve the overall fuel efficiency of its fleet and lower the company’s carbon footprint. Although the prototype currently runs on diesel, its turbine is fuel-neutral and can run on compressed or liquid natural gas, biofuels or other fuels.

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Toyota Racing formally introduces TS040 HYBRID; 1000 PS with 480 PS 4WD hybrid boost

March 27, 2014

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TS040 HYBRID. Click to enlarge.

Toyota Racing has revealed the TS040 HYBRID car and revised driver line-up for the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship. (Earlier post.)

With 480 PS (473 hp, 353 kW) of four-wheel-drive hybrid boost in addition to the 520 PS (513 hp, 383 kW) 3.7-liter V-8 gasoline engine, the TS040 HYBRID, launched at Paul Ricard, has a maximum power of 1000 PS (986 hp, 735 kW). The move to a four-wheel drive hybrid sees Toyota return to a concept which has been part of its racing hybrid development since 2007, when the four-wheel drive Supra HV-R became the first hybrid to win an endurance race, the Tokachi 24 Hours.

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JEC updates well-to-wheels study on automotive fuels and powertrains; electro-mobility, natural gas and biofuels

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WTW energy expended and GHG emissions for conventional fuels ICE and hybrid vehicles shows the potential for improvement of conventional fuels and ICE based vehicles. Source: EUR 26236 EN - 2014 Click to enlarge.

Europe’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and its partners in the JEC Consortium—JRC, EUCAR (the European Council for Automotive R&D) and CONCAWE (the oil companies European association for environment, health and safety in refining and distribution)—have published a new version of the Well-to-Wheels Analysis of Future Automotive Fuels and Powertrains in the European Context. (Earlier post.)

The updated version includes a longer-term outlook by expanding the time horizon from 2010 and beyond to 2020 and beyond. It adds an assessment of electrically chargeable vehicle configurations, such as plug-in hybrid, range extended, battery and fuel-cell electric vehicles. It also introduces an update of natural gas pathways, taking into account the addition of a European shale gas pathway. Furthermore, biofuel pathways, including an entirely new approach to NOx emissions from farming, were thoroughly revised.

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Volvo Car and Flybrid vehicle testing showing flywheel KERS can deliver fuel savings up to 25%, with significant performance boost

March 26, 2014

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Rear-axle KERS unit. Click to enlarge.

Volvo Car Group and engineering company Flybrid Automotive, part of the Torotrak Group, have been conducting UK tests of lightweight Flybrid flywheel KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) technology. (Earlier post.) The test car applies flywheel technology to the rear axle, while the combustion engine drives the front wheels.

The four-year partnership, using real-world driving data from tests on public roads and test tracks in both Sweden and the UK, has shown that the flywheel-based hybrid technology can deliver an 80 hp (60 kW) performance boost, together with fuel savings of up to 25%. (Earlier post.) The research forms part of Volvo’s continued Drive-E Powertrain research and development program; the Flybrid KERS tests show that it is a lightweight, financially viable and efficient solution for efficiency and performance, the partners said.

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Li-ion maker A123 Systems sells Energy Solutions business to NEC for ~$100M; focus on micro-hybrids and transportation

March 24, 2014

A123 Systems LLC, a developer and manufacturer of advanced Nanophosphate lithium iron phosphate batteries and systems, is selling its grid storage business and other assets related to energy storage for telecom and IT data storage applications to NEC Corporation for approximately $100 million.

A123, which is retaining its all of its existing cell manufacturing and sales, research and development, and automotive operations, is increasingly focused on the transportation market with a particular emphasis on micro-hybrids (earlier post). NEC will incorporate the former A123 Energy Solutions Business into a new “NEC Energy Solutions” company, which will begin operation in June 2014.

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Johnson Controls and Fraunhofer Gesellschaft collaborate on next-gen cooling systems for Li-ion battery packs; focus on 48V micro-hybrid system

March 20, 2014

Johnson Controls and Fraunhofer Gesellschaft have signed a collaboration agreement to develop the next generation of more energy efficient, cost-effective cooling systems for vehicle batteries. The scope of the work will initially focus on 48V Micro Hybrid battery technology, which is designed to deliver strong fuel and emissions efficiency, and load management at a lower price than hybrid and electric vehicle technology. (Earlier post.)

Scientists and engineers at Johnson Controls will work with both Fraunhofer’s Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology (UMSICHT) and with its Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials (IFAM).

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Volkswagen: e-mobility and sustainability; Part 1, the e-Golf and Golf GTE

March 13, 2014

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The e-Golf. Click to enlarge.

In conjunction with its annual media and investor conference, Volkswagen is staging a two-week (8 - 21 March) e-mobility event at Berlin-Tempelhof. Although the company (both the brand and the larger Volkswagen Group) has been researching electromobility for a number of years; has previously outlined accelerating implementation of electric drive projects (e.g., earlier post); and currently has two battery-electric passenger cars on the market (e-Up! and e-Golf) with other plug-in models following, the event marks a very large and public stake in the ground, in terms of defining the current and future importance of e-mobility for Volkswagen.

At the event, Volkswagen is presenting its new battery electric e-Golf (earlier post), along with the battery-electric e-up! (earlier post) and a pre-production prototype of the plug-in hybrid electric Golf GTE (earlier post). Although the other electric-drive vehicles are prominent, the focus is on the new e-Golf—the first electric version of the most successful European car.

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More details on Mitsubishi’s three hybrid concepts: two PHEVs and one 48V mild hybrid

March 06, 2014

Mitsubishi Motors (MMC) is showcasing its three new hybrid drive concepts—two plug-ins and one 48V mild hybrid—at the Geneva Motor Show. The three vehicles were introduced earlier at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show (earlier post).

Concept GC-PHEV. Concept GC-PHEV (for “Grand Cruiser”) is a next-generation full-time 4WD full-size SUV, fitted with an advanced plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) powertrain. Applying Outlander PHEV’s engineering fundamentals to a much bigger, more powerful, all-terrain (where legal) high-end full-size SUV, Concept GC-PHEV develops plug-in hybrid electric powertrain technology further.

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Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 Le Mans prototype makes its debut at Geneva Show

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Porsche 919 Hybrid. Click to enlarge.

The Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 Le Mans prototype made its premiere at the Geneva Motor Show. The hybrid prototype will be joined by the Porsche 911 RSR at the Porsche exhibition in Geneva as well as at all eight races of the World Endurance Championship (WEC), the season highlight of which will be the 24 hours of Le Mans.

Porsche 919 Hybrid development began in the middle of 2011 on a blank sheet of paper. With a 16-year absence from the LMP1 class, Porsche engineers have had to develop the racecar without the same experience of their competitors. However, the experience acquired in racing the 911 GT3 R Hybrid (earlier post) and production of the 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid (earlier post) has directly translated to the 919 Hybrid.

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Subaru shows VIZIV-2 diesel plug-in hybrid concept; independent rear-motor driven Symmetrical AWD

March 05, 2014

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VIZIV-2. Click to enlarge.

Subaru returned to the Geneva Motor Show with the VIZIV-2 plug-in hybrid concept. The automaker unveiled the first version of the VIZIV concept at the 2013 Geneva show (earlier post), followed by the VIZIV Evolution Concept at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show.

The plug-in hybrid system combines a 1.6-liter diesel Horizontally-Opposed direct injection turbo (DIT) Boxer engine; high-torque-compatible Lineartronic (CVT) automatic transmission; one front electric motor; and two rear electric motors with vectoring. Subaru’s new independent rear motor-driven Symmetrical AWD system developed for VIZIV-2 points to a future generation of Subaru AWD technology.

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Toyota Europe hybrid sales up 43% year-on-year in 2013; almost 18.5% of total TME sales, 28% in W. Europe

March 04, 2014

At the Geneva Motor Show, Toyota Motor Europe (TME) announced that European sales of hybrid vehicles reached an all-time high in 2013 totaling 156,863 units, up 43% year-on-year. Hybrid models now represent 18.5% total TME sales, including several countries outside of the EU. In Western Europe, 28% of all Toyota and Lexus vehicles sold are hybrid models.

In 2013 total Toyota Motor Europe sales reached 847,540 vehicles, an increase of 9,569 units from 2012, equalling a 0.2 percentage point share gain to 4.7%. This progress is mainly due to the excellent sales performance of hybrid models.

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Kia introduces new mild hybrid powertrain, 7-speed DCT

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Kia’s 48V mild hybrid system uses a lead-carbon battery. Click to enlarge.

Kia revealed a new mild hybrid powertrain as well as its new 7-speed DCT at the Geneva Motor Show. (Earlier post.) Developed by Kia’s European R&D centre, the new hybrid system employs a 48V lead-carbon battery, which powers a small electric motor to increase the engine’s power output and cut exhaust emissions. The mild hybrid powertrain will be available on new diesel and gasoline production cars from Kia in the near future.

The development team behind the mild hybrid powertrain selected lead-carbon batteries over lithium-ion equivalents as they require no active cooling, are more easily recyclable at the end of the vehicle’s life and can function much more efficiently in sub-zero temperatures.

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Volkswagen to introduce Passat Plug-in hybrid “soon”; Group electrifying more than 40 more models over next few years

In remarks before the opening of the Geneva Motora Show, Volkswagen Group Chairman of the Board of Management Prof. Dr. Winterkorn said that a plug-in hybrid version of the Volkswagen Passat would join the Group’s range of low-CO2 vehicles “soon.”

In his remarks, Winterkorn noted that Group research and development expenditure rose by 15% last year to the record value of €10.2 billion (US $14 billion), with the “lion’s share going to green technologies.” Winterkorn said that the Group was reinforcing its objective to become the world’s leading automaker, also in ecological terms, by 2018.

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Honda to end production of the Insight hybrid, commits to the expansion of hybrid offerings in the US

March 01, 2014

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Annual sales of the second-generation Honda Insight. Data: Honda. Click to enlarge.

Honda announced that while the US model Insight will be available at dealerships in the US through the end of the year, production of the hybrid will end in summer 2014.

Honda said the move reflects its reinforced commitment to a clear product strategy focused on further advancing fuel-efficient and alternative-fuel vehicle technologies that are better aligned with customer needs and that strengthen the company’s US sales momentum. The Insight, introduced in 2009, had posted steadily decreasing sales, from a high of 20,962 units in 2010 down to 4,802 units in 2013.

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

February 27, 2014

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

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

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Magna to introduce lightweight natural gas vehicle concept at Geneva; less than 49 gCO2/km

February 26, 2014

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MILA Blue. Click to enlarge.

To showcase its capabilities, global automotive supplier Magna International Inc. will showcase the MILA Blue vehicle concept at the Geneva Motor Show 2014. MILA Blue is a natural-gas powered, A-segment lightweight vehicle that produces less than 49g CO2/km.

MILA Blue, the seventh concept vehicle in the MILA family, represents a new lightweight design approach. Realized through a combination of an optimized vehicle architecture and lightweight design concepts as well as novel materials and joining technologies, MILA Blue achieves a weight savings of 300 kg (661 lbs) compared to typical current A-segment vehicles.

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New Fuso Canter with EcoEfficiency; up to 9% more fuel efficient; new hybrid

February 25, 2014

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Fuso Canter 7C15 Eco Hybrid, box body. Click to enlarge.

Mitsubishi Fuso, 90% owned by Daimler AG, has improved the performance of its Fuso Canter light-duty truck. With 140,000 units produced worldwide, the Fuso Canter is an international hit in the light-duty-truck sector and easily the best-selling truck model at Daimler Trucks. The new Canter is up to 9% more economical than its predecessor, depending on variant and field of application. At the same time, CO2 emissions have been reduced by a similar amount.

The new Canter offers compliance with Euro 5b+ emissions for the light versions up to 6.0 t permissible GVW and Euro VI for the heavy versions. The “EcoEfficiency” models combined a number of measures available as standard for all Canter model variants. These include higher injection pressure for even more efficient fuel combustion; low-friction engine oil to reduce in-engine friction; an electromagnetic fan clutch; an optimized cooling system; a start/stop system for the engine; a new axle ratio configuration; low rolling-resistance tires for the Euro VI models; and reduced friction losses in the transmission with manual gearshift.

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Ricardo launches pre-production prototype of high-speed flywheel energy storage for off-road equipment

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200 kJ capacity TorqStor prototype to be shown at CONEXPO. Click to enlarge.

Ricardo will introduce TorqStor—the latest generation of Ricardo’s high speed flywheel energy storage technology—at the CONEXPO 2014 show in Las Vegas as a pre-production prototype for OEM product integration.

Ricardo’s TorqStor technology combines a modular, high-efficiency, carbon-fibre composite construction flywheel with a magnetic coupling and gearing system to provide for a scalable range of energy storage capacities for different equipment applications. The magnetic coupling also enables the unit to operate in a permanently sealed vacuum and permits ease of in-field maintenance for high availability applications.

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Oerlikon Fairfield introducing off-highway hybrid electric drivetrain technology; up to 30% fuel economy improvement

February 24, 2014

Oerlikon Fairfield will unveil its new patent-pending off-highway hybrid electric drivetrain technology at the upcoming ConExpo-Con/Agg trade show from March 4-8 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The drivetrain technology utilizes a Tier 3 or Tier 4 engine driving a 227kW switch reluctance generator with step-up gearing to produce electrical energy. Alternators and starter motors are eliminated to improve system reliability.

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Volkswagen to introduce Golf plug-in hybrid at Geneva; first deliveries in autumn

February 21, 2014

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Golf GTE plug-in hybrid. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen will formally unveil the Golf GTE—a new plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version of the Golf hatchback combining electric mobility with the dynamics of a Golf GTI—at the Geneva Motor Show next month. The GTE marks the fifth drive type for the Golf, which is already available with gasoline, diesel, natural gas, and battery-electric drives, varying with markets. Golf GTE will arrive at dealers in the first markets world-wide in autumn 2014.

The Golf GTE packages a 1.4-liter 150 PS (148 hp, 110 kW) TSI direct-injection gasoline engine with a 75 kW electric motor; combined system power is 204 PS (150 hp), with torque of 350 N·m (258 lb-ft). Using the electric motor alone, the GTE is capable of speeds of 81 mph (130 km/h); with the TSI engine as well, the Golf GTE can accelerate from zero to 62 mph in 7.6 seconds and on to 135 mph (217 km/h).

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Update on Nissan’s 1-motor, 2-clutch hybrid system

February 20, 2014

Nissan’s 1-motor, 2-clutch parallel hybrid system (1M2CL), first introduced in 2010 for the rear-wheel drive Infiniti M35 Hybrid (earlier post), has since grown into its second-generation rear-wheel drive system as well as spawned a front-wheel drive variant with CVT (earlier post). The system and its offshoots are now applied in 4 Infiniti and Nissan hybrid vehicles—Q50, Q70, QX60 and Pathfinder.

At the recent SAE 2014 Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Technologies Symposium, Tomoaki Momose, manager of powertrain development from Nissan Technical Center North America, gave an update on the technical evolution of the core hybrid system.

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BMW provides initial look at X5 eDrive plug-in hybrid prototype

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BMW X5 plug-in hybrid prototype at Efficient Dynamics Innovation Days 2014. Click to enlarge.

At BMW’s Efficient Dynamics Innovation Days 2014 in Germany, the company provided the first opportunities for test-driving the BMW X5 eDrive plug-in hybrid (PHEV) prototype (earlier post). BMW also presented the first four-cylinder member of its new EfficientDyanamics engine family—the 2.0-liter unit would serve as the engine component in a future production X5 eDrive PHEV—as well as ideas for future solutions in the field of lightweight design, aerodynamics and thermal management.

Powertrain technology is key to BMW’s EfficientDynamics strategy, with a dual focus on the continuous evolution of conventional internal combustion engines on the one hand and the development of alternative drive concepts on the other. As well as achieving significant emissions reductions based on continuous evolutionary advances of the TwinPower Turbo gasoline and diesel engines, future BMW core brand models will also benefit from the transfer of new electrified drive technology (BMW eDrive) developed by the BMW i sub-brand.

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CPT presenting two papers at SAE World Congress on SpeedStart and TIGERS for 48V mild hybrid systems

February 18, 2014

Controlled Power Technologies (CPT) will deliver two technical papers at SAE World Congress in April on its SpeedStart torque assist and kinetic energy recovery system (earlier post) and TIGERS turbine integrated gas energy recovery system (earlier post) for 48V mild hybrid vehicles.

The switched reluctance (SR) motor-based SpeedStart and TIGERS technology are being incorporated into the recently announced Advanced Diesel Electric Powertrain project known as ADEPT. (Earlier post.) ADEPT combines the two technologies, which have been demonstrated individually but not yet as an integrated system, applying the low voltage concept of ‘intelligent electrification’ for the first time to a diesel car. For the ADEPT project, the consortium comprises CPT, the European Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium (EALABC), Faurecia Emissions Control Technologies, Ford and the University of Nottingham. The management of the project is being handled by Ricardo.

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Peugeot showing new 108, new engines, new HYbrid Air implementation at Geneva Show

February 17, 2014

Peugeot will unveil two all-new models—the 108, successor to the popular 107; and the 308 SW—and two new engine technologies—the 1.2-liter PureTech e-THP three-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engines and new BlueHDi diesel emissions technology, to appear on several versions of PEUGEOT 308, 308 SW and 508—at the forthcoming Geneva Motor Show.

The company will also showcase a 2008 HYbrid Air crossover—an implementation of Peugeot’s HYbrid Air hybrid system (earlier post) in a 2008 Crossover. HYbrid Air is a full-hybrid solution combining compressed air and hydraulic power, with no battery required for energy storage. Hybrid Air combines a PureTech gasoline engine, a compressed air energy storage unit, a hydraulic pump/motor unit and an automatic transmission with an epicyclic gear train.

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Magnetic eCVT could replace conventional hybrid mechanical eCVT with likely 1-2% fuel economy improvement and other benefits

February 12, 2014

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MAGSPLIT is intended to replace mechanical eCVTs with a combination motor/magnetic gear. Source: Magnomatics. Click to enlarge.

At the SAE 2014 Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Technologies Symposium in San Diego, Chris Kirby, founder and Managing Director of UK-based Magnomatics, presented an overview of the company’s second-generation MAGSPLIT (Magnetic Power Split) eCVT system, a compact magnetic transmission designed to replace both the mechanical planetary gearset and motor/generator that form a typical hybrid powersplit system.

Preliminary testing results of a prototype of the magnetic eCVT presented at the conference suggest a likely 1-2% improvement in fuel consumption compared to a conventional hybrid system, along with the benefits of reduced system complexity, no lubrication, low battery charge swing (allowing either downsizing the battery or extending the life of the original size) and compact packaging. Much further testing and optimization remains to be done, Kirby noted.

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Toyota recalling about 701,000 Gen 3 Prius vehicles in US over software issue in inverter assembly

Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc., is advising the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of plans to conduct voluntary safety recalls of approximately 701,000 Model Year 2010-2014 Prius vehicles to update the motor/generator control ECU and hybrid control ECU software. This is part of a global recall for the issue.

According to the information Toyota is providing Prius customers in the US, the problem resides in the Intelligent Power Module (IPM), which is inside the Hybrid Inverter Assembly. The inverter converts high-voltage direct current (DC) stored in the high-voltage (HV) battery into high-voltage alternating current (AC) for the motor/generator. It also converts AC into DC during regenerative braking for storage in the HV battery. According to Toyota, due to problems with the software, certain transistors in the IPM could become damaged when operating the vehicle under high-load driving conditions, such as accelerating during highway driving.

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Honda recalls Fit Hybrids and Vezel Hybrids in Japan; 3rd recall due to problems with 7-speed DCT

February 10, 2014

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. announced a voluntary recall of the all-new Fit Hybrid (earlier post) and Vezel Hybrid (earlier post) produced in Japan from July 2013 through February 2014 due to a problem with the software program controlling the 7-speed dual clutch transmission (DCT) which could cause non-engagement of gears, a delay in the ability to begin driving or the inability to move at all. Honda notified Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of the recall with a total recall population of 81,353 units.

Honda conducted two earlier recalls in October and December 2013 due to a defect with the software program controlling the 7-speed DCT which could have caused a delay in the ability to drive the vehicle or the inability to drive. This latest recall is this the third related to problems with the 7-speed DCT. Each recall was due to a different cause.

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IHS Automotive forecasts global production of plug-in vehicles to rise by 67% this year

February 04, 2014

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Global electric vehicle production forecast for 2014. Source: IHS Automotive. Click to enlarge.

Driven by tighter emission standards in Europe, worldwide production of plug-in electric vehicles(PEVs)—including both battery-electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models—will increase by 67% this year, according to IHS Automotive, driven by Polk. The jump in the PEV market this year contrasts with an expected 3.6% rise in global manufacturing of all motor vehicles expected in 2014.

Total production of PEVs is projected to rise to more than 403,000 this year, up from slightly more than 242,000 in 2013. Growth will accelerate sharply from the 44% increase in 2013, based on data from the new IHS Automotive Hybrid-EV Portal. In December 2013, IHS projected total global automotive sales in 2014 of 85 million, roughly resulting in an expected approximate 0.5% share for PEVs in the global market this year.

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New Toyota TS040 racing hybrid features new V8 all-wheel drive hybrid system with supercap energy storage

February 03, 2014

Since 2012, Toyota has been racing its TS030 Hybrid, equipped with a full racing hybrid system, in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). (Earlier post.) Participating in all eight races and with two wins last year, Toyota plans to enter all races this year with two new TS040 vehicles from Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) designed to meet changes in this year’s vehicle rules. Toyota hopes to achieve its first win in this year’s Le Mans 24-hour race, the third race in the WEC series.

The THS-R (Toyota Hybrid System―Racing) powertrain, developed at Toyota’s Higashi-Fuji Technical Center in Japan, incorporates a new hybrid system equipped with a new V8 engine and an Aisin AW motor/generator on the front axle in combination with the DENSO unit at the rear to better power all four wheels to meet changes in vehicle rules this year.

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Hino and DENSO develop the world’s first electric refrigerator system for heavy-duty trucks powered by a hybrid unit

January 31, 2014

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Hino Profia with an electric refrigerator system. Click to enlarge.

Hino Motors, Ltd., a Toyota Group company, and DENSO Corporation have jointly developed the first electric refrigerator system for heavy-duty trucks using a hybrid unit. This system is being applied in the Hino Profia, which will be released on 1 February in Japan; Hino is targeting annual sales of 180 units.

Hybrid trucks conventionally use energy generated from hybrid systems to assist the vehicle’s driving. However, this new truck uses energy from hybrid unit only for the new electric refrigeration system. The compact and light-weight hybrid unit—also applied in the Hino Dutro Hybrid (Hino 300 outside of Japan)—was optimized as an energy source for this new refrigerator. With the combination of Hino’s hybrid powertrain system technology and DENSO’s electric refrigerator system technology, the two companies have developed a high-quality refrigerator system that helps improve fuel economy, improves refrigeration performance, and is quieter when operating.

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China Yuchai introduces 8 new diesel engines for on-road and off-road applications; plug-in hybrid model

January 27, 2014

China Yuchai International Limited’s main operating subsidiary, Guangxi Yuchai Machinery Company Limited (GYMCL), unveiled 8 new engine models for truck, construction and marine applications.

To better meet the needs of the truck and bus markets in China, several new engine models were introduced, all meeting the National IV emission standards (comparable to Euro IV). The new YC4E-48 is a light-truck diesel engine for urban logistical uses, special purpose vehicles and other vehicles focused on short- to mid-range transportation. This model uses a two-valve cylinder head combined with a Bosch common rail system paired with EGR, DOC and POC technologies. Its power range covers 103-118 kW (138-158 hp).

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Schaeffler demo vehicle hits 2020 CAFE targets without electrification; 15% cut in fuel consumption; 48V hybrid system for 2025

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Schaeffler Efficient Future Mobility North America demo vehicle in Detroit. Click to enlarge.

At the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), Schaeffler highlighted its range of fuel-efficiency technologies and systems in the form of its current demonstration vehicle: Efficient Future Mobility North America. Based on the current version of a popular mid-size SUV, the demonstration vehicle achieves the limit values specified by the CAFE standard for 2020 with no additional electrification of the powertrain.

The use and optimization of a range of Schaeffler technologies allowed the vehicle’s fuel consumption to be reduced by 15%. These values were initially simulated using Schaeffler calculation programs and verified by Schaeffler’s experts in North America using measurements and test cycles, and then certified by an independent testing institute.

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CMU researchers find controlled charging of PHEVs can cut cost of integration into electricity system by 54-73%; higher benefits with wind power

January 24, 2014

In a new study published in the journal Applied Energy, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) researchers found that controlled charging of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) reduces the costs of integrating the vehicles into an electricity system by 54–73% depending on the scenario.

More specifically, controlled charging can cut the cost of integrating PHEVs approximately in half. The magnitude of these savings is ~5% to 15% higher in a system with 20% wind penetration compared to a system with no wind power, and the savings are 50–60% higher in a system that requires capacity expansion.

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DOE to award $49.4M for advanced vehicle technologies research; meeting Tier 3 emissions

January 22, 2014

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award $49.4 million to projects to to accelerate research and development of new vehicle technologies. The new program-wide funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0000991) (earlier post), was announced by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz at the Washington Auto Show.

The funding opportunity will contains a total of 13 areas of interest in the general areas of advanced light-weighting; advanced battery development; power electronics; advanced heating, ventilation, air conditioning systems; advanced powertrains (including the ability to meet proposed EPA Tier 3 tailpipe emissions standards); and fuels and lubricants. These areas of interest apply to light, medium and heavy duty on-road vehicles.

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Renault Energy’s Sport F1 hybrid Power Unit; competing with intelligent energy management, not just power

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Exploded view of the parts of the power unit: 1.6l turbocharged V6 engine; battery; turbocharger; MGU-K; and MGU-H. Click to enlarge.

Renault’s Energy F1-2014 hybrid Power Unit (earlier post), designed and developed for the FIA Formula One World Championship this year, is ready for the track; the 2014 season kicks off in Australia on 16 March. New FIA regulations are driving energy efficiency levels higher this year, with two types of energy propelling the cars. The internal combustion engine will produce power through consumption of traditional carbon-based fuel, while electrical energy will be harvested from both exhaust and braking by two discrete motor generator units. Teams and drivers will balance the use of the two types of energy throughout the race.

This year, the power unit is divided into six separate elements: Engine (ICE); Motor generator unit-kinetic (MGU-K); Motor generator unit-heat (MGU-H); Energy store (ES); Turbocharger (TC); and Control electronics (CE). The combination of the 1.6-liter turbocharged direct injection V6 engine (maximum speed of 15,000 rpm) with the two motor generator units and battery energy store delivers combined maximum power output of 760 bhp (567 kW), on a par with the previous V8 generation.

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Toyota launches fully redesigned Voxy and Noah minivans in Japan; class-first hybrid system

January 20, 2014

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Noah G (hybrid model with options). Click to enlarge.

In Japan, Toyota Motor Corporation launched the completely redesigned Voxy minivan through Netz dealers, and the completely redesigned Noah minivan through Toyota Corolla dealers; hybrid models are scheduled for release on 14 February. Monthly sales targets for Japan are 4,600 units for Voxy and 3,400 units for Noah.

For the hybrid variants, a 2ZR-FXE 1.8-liter Atkinson cycle combustion engine, evolved and matured from the third-generation Prius, together with a class-first full hybrid system (THS II with reduction gear) achieves fuel economy of 23.8 km/L (56 mpgUS, 4.2 l/100 km) and CO2 emissions of 98 g/km under the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism’s (MLIT) JC08 test cycle.

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Worldwide sales of Toyota hybrids top 6 million units

January 15, 2014

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Annual global sales of TMC hybrids. Click to enlarge.

Cumulative global sales of Toyota’s hybrid vehicles topped the 6 million unit mark as of 31 December 2013, reaching 6.072 million units. The latest million-unit milestone was achieved in the fastest time yet for Toyota, taking just nine months.

As of this month, Toyota sells 24 hybrid passenger car models and one plug-in hybrid model in approximately 80 countries and regions around the world. Within the next two years, Toyota will launch a total of 15 new hybrid vehicles worldwide, including the new Harrier Hybrid in Japan on 15 January and the new Highlander Hybrid in the United States in the near future.

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BYD launches Qin plug-in hybrid in China

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BYD Qin. Click to enlarge.

BYD has officially launched its Qin plug-in hybrid in China; the performance-based hybrid car is intended to target key world markets. European availability of a similar but probably renamed model is planned for early 2015.

The dual mode Qin can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 5.9 seconds and has a top speed of 185 km/h (115 mph) with a claimed overall fuel consumption of up to 1.6 L/100 km (147 mpgUS). The Qin can be driven in pure electric mode for up to 70 km (44 miles). For long distance journeys the car uses its 1.5TID gasoline engine.

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