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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.]

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

April 22, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorqStor - display model to be shown at CONEXPO_2
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

Golf GTE_03
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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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Audi wheeling out all-road shooting brake plug-in hybrid concept at Detroit show; the first e-tron quattro

January 12, 2014

Shooting brake concept. Click to enlarge.

Audi will unveil an all-road shooting brake plug-in hybrid concept at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. The two-door car is a crossover; its hybrid drive demonstrates a new form of quattro drive—the e-tron quattro.

The Audi allroad shooting brake represents the first time that Audi has combined the all-road and e-tron form languages. The compact crossover plug-in hybrid has a low fuel consumption figure of 1.9 liters of fuel per 100 km (123.8 mpgUS), equivalent to 45 g CO2 per km (72.42 g/mile) based on the relevant ECE standard. Its total driving range is up to 820 km (510 miles).

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Swiss WTW study finds important role for alternative fuels as well as alt drivetrains in move to low-emissions vehicles

January 03, 2014

WTW energy demand and GHG emissions for EV and PHEV drivetrains for various electricity sources; gasoline ICE vehicle is solid square, hybrid the hollow square. Click to enlarge.

A comprehensive analysis of well-to-wheel (WTW) primary energy demand and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the operation of conventional and alternative passenger vehicle drivetrains in Switzerland has concluded that alternative combustion fuels—not only alternative drivetrains such as PEVs or FCVs—play an important role in the transition towards low-emission vehicles.

The study by a team at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, reported in the Journal of Power Sources, is novel in three respects, the researchers said. First, it considers the performance of both mature and novel hydrogen production processes, multiple electricity generation pathways and several alternative drivetrains. Second, it is specific to Switzerland. Third, the analysis offers a novel comparison of drivetrain and energy carrier production pathways based on natural resource categories.

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Ford unveils C-MAX Solar Energi concept; “plug-in” hybrid not dependent on electric grid can fully recharge from sun

January 02, 2014

Ford’s C-MAX Solar Energi concept combines a rooftop solar panel with an off-board solar concentrator—essentially an inexpensive Fresnel lens canopy. The vehicle moves beneath the canopy during the day to maintain maximum concentrated solar irradiance. Click to enlarge.

Ford Motor Company announced the C-MAX Solar Energi Concept, a sun-powered hybrid vehicle that can deliver the efficiency of a plug-in hybrid without depending on the electric grid for recharging. Instead of recharging its battery from an electrical outlet, Ford C-MAX Solar Energi Concept uses a special Fresnel lens-based solar concentrator as a stationary canopy working with solar panels on the vehicle roof to recharge directly from the sun.

The concept vehicle uses a day’s worth of sunlight to deliver the same performance as the conventional C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid (earlier post), which draws its power from the electric grid. Ford C-MAX Energi gets a combined EPA-estimated 108 MPGe city and 92 MPGe highway, for a combined 100 MPGe. C-MAX Solar Energi Concept, which will be shown at the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas, is a collaborative project of Ford, SunPower Corp. and Georgia Tech.

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Audi to unveil Audi Sport quattro laserlight concept plug-in hybrid at CES; 700 hp and 94 mpg

Audi Sport quattro laserlight concept. Click to enlarge.

Audi will present the Audi Sport quattro laserlight plug-in hybrid concept at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) from 6 to 10 January in Las Vegas. The coupe represents a new evolutionary stage of the Sport quattro concept (earlier post).

The e-tron powertrain delivers 515 kW (700 hp) of system power with 2.5 l/100 km (94.09 US mpg) fuel economy, equivalent to CO2 emissions of 59 g/km (94.95 g/mile); higher performance laser headlights; and new user control and display interfaces and lighting technology. The plug-in hybrid system torque is 800 N·m (590 lb-ft). Power flows via a modified eight-speed tiptronic to the quattro drivetrain, which features a sport differential at the rear axle. The combustion engine is a four-liter V8 with biturbo charging; it produces 412 kW (560 hp) of power and 700 N·m (516 lb-ft) of torque. The cylinder on demand (COD) system, which deactivates four cylinders under part load and a start-stop system contribute to the engine’s efficiency.

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Honda begins sales of new VEZEL and VEZEL hybrid in Japan

December 20, 2013

VEZEL HYBRID. Click to enlarge.

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. began sales of the VEZEL in Japan today. Honda says that the VEZEL fuses the dynamic qualities of an SUV, the elegance of a coupe, the functionality of a minivan and excellent fuel economy.

The conventional VEZEL is equipped with a 1.5L direct-injection DOHC i-VTEC engine coupled to a CVT, as is available in front-wheel and four-wheel drive versions. The VEZEL HYBRID is equipped with Honda’s next-generation SPORT HYBRID i-DCD system (earlier post) that combines a 97 kW (130 hp), 156 N·m (115 lb-ft) 1.5 L direct injection engine with a 22 kW (30 hp), 160 N·m (118 lb-ft) motor. The realized maximum system output of 112 KW (150 hp) is equivalent to that of a 2.0-liter engine.

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New Mercedes-Benz C-Class drops weight, adds new engines, diesel hybrid, w/ plug-in to come; up to 20% cut in fuel consumption

December 16, 2013

The new C-Class. Click to enlarge.

Mercedes-Benz has launched its new C-Class, featuring a lightweight design concept with weight savings of up to 100 kg (220 lbs); excellent aerodynamics; and new, economical engines along with a hybrid model. The C-Class is the top-selling model series from Mercedes-Benz; sales of the preceding model, which was launched in 2007, total more than 2.4 million.

Ordering for the C-Class sedan have begun in Europe, with the model range initially comprising the C180, the C200; and the diesel C220 BlueTEC. All are equipped with the ECO start/stop function and comply with the Euro 6 emissions standard. They also cut fuel consumption by up to 20% compared with the preceding model. The US market launches with two C-Class models: C300 4MATIC and C400 4MATIC.

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EIA: light duty vehicle energy consumption to drop 25% by 2040; increased oil production, vehicle efficiency reduce US oil and liquid imports

Energy consumption by light-duty vehicles in the United States, AEO2013 and AEO2014, 1995-2040 (quadrillion Btu). LDV energy consumption declines in AEO2014 Reference case from 16.0 quadrillion Btu in 2012 to 12.1 quadrillion Btu in 2040, compared with 13.0 quadrillion Btu in 2040 in the AEO2013 Reference case. Source: EIA. Click to enlarge.

Reflecting slow growth in travel and accelerated vehicle efficiency improvements, US light-duty vehicle (LDV, cars and light trucks) energy use will decline sharply between 2012 and 2040, according to the US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA’s) Annual Energy Outlook 2014 (AEO2014) Reference case released today.

AEO2014 includes a new, detailed demographic profile of driving behavior by age and gender as well as new lower population growth rates based on updated Census projections. As a result, annual increases in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in LDVs average 0.9% from 2012 to 2040, compared to 1.2% per year over the same period in AEO2013. The rising fuel economy of LDVs more than offsets the modest growth in VMT, resulting in a 25% decline in LDV energy consumption decline between 2012 and 2040 in the AEO2014 Reference case.

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ExxonMobil Outlook: 35% growth in energy demand by 2040; hybrids to account for ~50% of new vehicle sales

December 15, 2013

By 2040, hybrids are expected to account for about 35% of the global light-duty vehicle fleet, up from less than 1% in 2010. Hybrids are expected to account for about half of global new-car sales by 2040. Source: ExxonMobil. Click to enlarge.

Driven by increasing population, urbanization and rising living standards, the world will require some 35% more energy in 2040, according to ExxonMobil’s annual forecast report: Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040. Anticipated population growth will reach nearly 9 billion in 2040 from about 7 billion today, and the global economy is projected to double—at an annual growth rate of nearly 3%—largely in the developing world.

Demand for energy in non-OECD nations will grow by about two-thirds, accounting for essentially all of the increase in global energy use. ExxonMobil projects that meeting future energy demand will be supported by more efficient energy-saving practices and technologies; increased use of less-carbon-intensive fuels such as natural gas, nuclear and renewables; as well as the continued development of technology advances to develop new energy sources. Without the projected gains in efficiency, global energy demand could have risen by more than 100%.

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EPA trends report sees record levels of average new vehicle fuel economy and CO2 emissions for MY 2012; role of new gasoline vehicle technologies

December 13, 2013

Manufacturer-specific technology adoption over time for key technologies. EPA projects advanced transmissions (6+ speeds and CVTs), gasoline direct injection (GDI) systems, and turbocharged engines will be installed on at least 15% of all MY 2013 vehicles. Click to enlarge.

Average new vehicle CO2 emissions rate and fuel economy in the US achieved record levels in MY 2012, and have improved in 7 of the last 8 years, according to the newly released Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 - 2013 (the annual “Trends” report) from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The majority of the emissions and fuel savings from current vehicles, EPA noted, is due to new gasoline vehicle technologies.

The final model year (MY) 2012 adjusted, real world CO2 emissions rate is 376 g/mi—a 22 g/mi decrease (-5.5%) relative to MY 2011. MY 2012 adjusted fuel economy is 23.6 mpg (9.97 l/100 km), which is 1.2 mpg higher (+5.4%) than MY 2011. Both values represent all-time records since the database began in MY 1975, and the authors of the report believe that these represent historical records as well. The 1.2 mpg fuel economy improvement from MY 2011 to MY 2012 is the second largest annual improvement in the last 30 years.

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Torotrak to acquire remaining 80% of Flybrid for up to £23M; targeting commercial launch of M-KERS in 2015

Torotrak’s M-KERS unit. Click to enlarge.

Supercharger, kinetic energy recovery and transmission specialist Torotrak will acquire, pending shareholder approval, the remaining 80% of flywheel hybrid innovator Flybrid for up to £23.0 million (US$37.4 million), of which £15.0 million (US$24.4 million) is subject to performance targets. Torotrak had acquired 20% of its partner in March of this year. (Earlier post.)

Torotrak uses Flybrid’s flywheel module in its Mechanical Kinetic Energy Recovery System (M-KERS). M-KERS captures and stores energy that is otherwise lost during vehicle deceleration events. The integration of Flybrid and Torotrak provides a platform for a joint development and commercial launch of M-KERS, Torotrak said. The group intends to exploit what it sees as a market window from 2015 to 2020 in which new technologies are being demanded to achieve new EU CO2 targets applying to vehicle manufacturers’ overall fleets.

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New Audi R18 e-tron quattro LMP1 racer integrates two hybrid systems, kinetic and thermal

December 12, 2013

Audi R18 e-tron quattro 2014. Click to enlarge.

Audi has released initial details on its new 2014-generation Audi R18 e-tron quattro LMP1 Le Mans prototype racer. Although the new diesel hybrid sports car appears like a continuous further development of the World Championship winning car and Le Mans winner of the past two years, due to the new LMP1 regulations that will come into effect in 2014, Audi Sport redeveloped every component.

In the new Technical Regulations, a large number of principal definitions, which concern the powertrain, body dimensions, safety and aerodynamics, were re-determined. With the new R18, Audi Sport has opted for a similar concept as in the past—albeit with new detailed solutions and an additional hybrid system. Powertrain elements include:

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New Bosch start-stop system with coasting mode can reduce fuel consumption by up to another 10%

December 11, 2013

Bosch has developed a new start-stop system with coasting mode; the system stops the engine when the vehicle is traveling at speed, helping to reduce fuel consumption by up to 10%. The function can be combined with any type of combustion engine.

First generation start-stop systems stop an engine only when the vehicle is completely stationary; enhanced versions of this start-stop system cut the engine as soon as the vehicle is coasting to a halt—e.g., at a red light. In contrast, as soon as the driver’s foot is off both the gas and the brake pedal, vehicles equipped with the new start-stop coasting function stop the engine while the vehicle is in motion. Because the engine is disengaged, the vehicle can coast for longer than it could with an overrun fuel cutoff system, for example.

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Ricardo report finds hybrid buses have higher regulated emission intensities than conventional buses; need for whole vehicle testing

December 09, 2013

While technologies for low carbon buses such as hybridization offer the prospect of significant reductions in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions compared to conventionally powered vehicles, the improvement in terms of regulated emissions (criteria pollutants) may not be as great, according to a new report by Ricardo. Local emissions from buses are of particular significance, as the vehicles mainly operate in urban areas.

The UK’s Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) commissioned the review of the air quality impacts arising from the recent rapid increase in the number of low carbon buses in the UK, a result of subsidies provided through the Government’s Green Bus Funds. The UK now has around 1,300 low carbon buses in operation. The new report recommends that the legislation needs to consider hybrid technology impacts in the test processes to avoid potential unintended consequences in terms of local emissions.

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Anderman report sees strongest growth for full-hybrid systems; Li-ion batteries for hybrids may be in short supply

November 22, 2013

Low-cost 14V micro hybrid systems and full (strong) hybrid (i.e., systems with limited electric drive) architectures at 140-300V are entering strong growth phases, while the future of intermediate systems—those falling between the high-voltage full hybrids and the low-voltage stop-start systems—is less clear, according to “Assessing the Future of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles: The 2014 xEV Industry Insider Report” by Dr. Menahem Anderman of Advanced Automotive Batteries (AAB), to be released next week.

The 170-page report also finds that while the combined global EV and plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) market share is expected to grow to about 1.5% of total vehicle sales by 2020, the more significant story is the rapid expansion of strong-hybrid vehicles led by Toyota, Ford, and Honda, followed by Hyundai, Nissan and others. The current market share in Japan already exceeds 20%, and the world market share is estimated to exceed 5% by 2020.

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Mazda showcases CNG and hybrid Axela models in Tokyo; Mazda’s approach to environmental performance

At the Tokyo Motor Show, Mazda is showcasing the recently-released Mazda Axela (known as Mazda3 overseas) with a variety of engine types at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, including a CNG concept and hybrid variants. (Earlier post.)

The Axela accounts for more than 30% of global sales; the latest Axela is the third generation. The new Axela range also introduces a hybrid vehicle, and marks the first time for a single model launched on the Japanese market to include gasoline, diesel, and hybrid power plants in its powertrain lineup.

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Volkswagen combines XL1 powertrain with up! for the twin up! concept plug-in diesel hybrid; 214 mpg

November 20, 2013

Introducing the twin up! Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen presented the twin up! concept car at the Tokyo Motor Show. Equipped with a plug-in hybrid system from the super-efficient XL1 (earlier post), the four-seater based on the up! city car achieves combined fuel consumption of 1.1 liters per 100 km (214 mpgUS) (NEDC), with corresponding CO2 emissions of 27 g/km.

All new Volkswagen vehicles are configured to accept alternative drive systems as well as conventional ones, making installation of the compact XL1 plug-in hybrid system in the twin up! relatively easy. The only modification made in the production version was to lengthen the up!’s extremely short front overhang by 30 mm. The drive unit of the twin up! (system power: 55 kW) is mounted at the front of the car. It comprises a two-cylinder 0.8L TDI (35 kW); electric motor (35 kW); a 7-speed DSG (DQ200E) and the power electronics.

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Lexus introduces RC and RC hybrid sports coupes; to launch in 2H 2014

Lexus RC. Click to enlarge.

At the Tokyo Motor Show, Lexus unveiled the new RC 350 and RC 300h hybrid variant sports coupes scheduled for launch in the second half of 2014. The platform is based on the GS package, enabling the use of large-diameter wheels. The wide tread and a wheelbase that is 70 mm shorter than the IS further highlight the sporty design and nimble handling.

Two powertrains are available: a 3.5-liter gasoline powertrain and a 2.5-liter Lexus Hybrid Drive. The RC 300h hybrid utilizes a 2.5-liter 2AR-FSE engine with D-4S1 direct injection technology for high power and fuel economy.

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Field test shows Volvo Buses’ plug-in hybrid reduces fuel consumption by 81% and energy consumption by 61%; 21 mpg

November 14, 2013

Volvo Plug-in hybrid_EN_2013
Volvo Bus’ plug-in hybrid. The pantograph for rapid charging can be seen on the roof. Click to enlarge.

Field tests being conducted in Gothenburg show that Volvo Buses’ plug-in hybrid reduces fuel consumption by 81% and total energy consumption (diesel plus electricity) by 61% compared to a comparable Euro 5 diesel bus. (Earlier post.)

The field test in Gothenburg began in June 2013 and includes three plug-in hybrid buses, the batteries of which are rapidly recharged at the terminals. This makes it possible for the buses to run on electric power for most of the route.

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Toyota launching redesigned Harrier (Lexus RX) in Japan; hybrid model following in January

Toyota Motor Corporation will launch the redesigned Harrier crossover SUV (Lexus RX in overseas markets) in Japan on 2 December, with a hybrid model scheduled for release on 15 January 2014.

The hybrid model, powered by a 2.5-liter engine and hybrid system achieves fuel efficiency of 21.8 km/L (51.3 mpgUS, 4.6 l/100 km) and CO2 emissions of 106 g/km under the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism’s JC08 test cycle.

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Nissan launches new Skyline in Japan; one-motor two-clutch hybrid system in every grade

November 12, 2013

New Skyline. Click to enlarge.

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. launched of the all-new Skyline, which will go on sale late February 2014 with an Infiniti badge at Nissan dealers throughout Japan. Nissan first introduced the Skyline in 1957; Skyline is sold overseas as the Infiniti Q50.

Nissan’s original one-motor two-clutch parallel hybrid “Intelligent Dual Clutch Control” system (earlier post) is adopted in every grade. Skyline delivers maximum power output of 268 kW (360 hp) and fuel economy of 18.4 km/L (43.3 mpgUS, 5.4 l/100km) on JC08 mode. The new Skyline achieves 20% improvement in fuel economy over 2015 standards and SU-LEV certification, emitting 75% fewer exhaust emissions than 2005 standards, thereby fully exempting it from the automobile acquisition tax and automobile weight tax in every grade.

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Ford takes lead with plug-in hybrid sales in US in October; 34% of market

November 05, 2013

Monthly sales of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in 2013 in the US. The Ford line (blue) represents combined sales of the Fusion and C-MAX Energi models. Click to enlarge.

With a significant increase in monthly sales for each unit, Ford took the top spot in plug-in hybrid vehicle sales in October with the C-MAX Energi (1,092 units) and the Fusion Energi (1,087) units posting a combined 2,179 units for the month. This represented 34% of the total plug-in hybrid market

The combination of the two PHEV Energi models pushed Ford just beyond the second-place Prius PHV (2,095 units, for 33% of the market) and the third-place Volt (2,022 units, for 32% of the market.) The Honda Accord PHEV was a distant fourth (71 units.)

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Toyota showing latest fuel cell concept, hybrid minivan, other future mobility vehicles at Tokyo show

Toyota FCV Concept. Click to enlarge.

Toyota confirmed that it will display its latest fuel cell vehicle concept along with four other world premiere future mobility concepts at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show. The Toyota FCV Concept is a practical concept of the fuel cell vehicle Toyota plans to launch around 2015 as a pioneer in the development of hydrogen-powered vehicles. The vehicle has a driving range of at least 500 km (311 miles) and refueling times as low as three minutes, roughly the same time as for a gasoline vehicle.

The Toyota FC Stack has a power output density of 3 kW/L, more than twice that of the current “Toyota FCHV-adv” FC Stack, and an output of at least 100 kW. In addition, the FC system is equipped with Toyota’s high-efficiency boost converter. Increasing the voltage has made it possible to reduce the size of the motor and the number of fuel cells, leading to a smaller system offering enhanced performance at reduced cost.

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JRC study finds 8 metals for low-carbon energy technologies at risk of shortages; EVs, wind and solar, and lighting the applications of most concern

November 04, 2013

A new European Joint Research Centre (JRC) study looking into the supply of raw materials for the manufacture of low-carbon energy technologies found that eight metals were at high risk of shortages. The applications, i.e. technologies, of particular concern as a result are electric vehicles, wind and solar energy, and lighting. The risk arises from EU dependency on imports, growing demand worldwide and geopolitical reasons.

The study builds on a 2011 effort which looked into the six key applications of the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan: wind, solar, nuclear fission, bioenergy, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and the electricity grid. In the new study, these were re-assessed and considered along with 11 other technologies—including fuel cells, electricity storage, electric vehicles and lighting—treated in the new report, this time evaluated on the expected supplies of the metals and not on the current situation as in the first report.

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Stanford faculty awarded $2.2 million for innovative energy research; fuel cells, hybrids, splitting CO2

October 30, 2013

Stanford University’s Precourt Institute for Energy, the Precourt Energy Efficiency Center and the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy have awarded 11 seed grants totaling $2.2 million to Stanford faculty for promising new research in clean technology and energy efficiency.

The seed funding supports early work on concepts that have the potential for very high impact on energy production and use. Through a competitive process, two committees of faculty and senior staff awarded the grants to Stanford researchers from a broad range of disciplines, including engineering, physics, economics, business, communication and education.

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Governors of 8 states sign MoU to put 3.3M zero-emission vehicles on roads by 2025; 15% of new vehicle sales

October 24, 2013

The governors of 8 states—California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont—have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to take specific actions to put 3.3 million zero emission vehicles on the roads in their states by 2025, along with the refueling infrastructure required to support those vehicles. Zero-emission vehicles include battery-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel-cell-electric vehicles; the technologies can be applied in passenger cars, trucks and transit buses.

The 3.3 million ZEVs would represent a new vehicle market penetration for the group of states of about 15%, said Mary Nichols, Chairman of the California Air Resources Board (ARB), during a conference call announcing the agreement. This multi-state effort is intended to expand consumer awareness and demand for zero-emission vehicles. Collectively, the eight signatory states represent more than 23% of the US car market.

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UCR CE-CERT testing of hybrid construction equipment finds reduction in fuel consumption, but increase in NOx emissions

October 22, 2013

Summary of comparison of NOx emissions and fuel consumption of hybrid (D7E) and conventional (D6) dozers. Negative values mean hybrid benefit and positive values mean dis-benefit. PM, THC, and CO emission rates were very low for both the D7E and D6T and thus were not able to be quantified as a hybrid benefit or dis-benefit. Idle emissions showed a similar trend, with the hybrid emitting less CO2 (-15%) and more NOx (+15%). Johnson et al. Click to enlarge.

A study of hybrid excavators and dozers in use in public and private fleets found that while the use of hybrid equipment could decrease fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 28%, depending upon the type of work being done, NOx emissions could increase by up to 21%.

In the study, researchers at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT) completed activity characterization; sequence of operations/test cycle development; and in-use emissions testing on three hybrid Komatsu HB215-LC-1 excavators and three hybrid Caterpillar D7E dozers.

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Tier 1 HELLA evaluating PowerGenix NiZn batteries for 48V mild hybrid vehicles

October 21, 2013

PowerGenix, the developer of nickel-zinc (NiZn) rechargeable batteries (earlier post), has signed a product evaluation contract with HELLA, a Tier 1 supplier to major automotive manufacturers worldwide. HELLA will conduct real-world vehicle tests to evaluate NiZn’s ability in meeting the high-power requirements of 48-volt mild hybrid systems, while substantially reducing overall system complexity and cost.

High-rate, high-power capabilities are critical to the performance of 48-volt systems, but cost and complexity of Li-ion battery technologies capable of meeting such requirements pose the biggest challenge to their widespread adoption. Advanced battery solutions such as NiZn offer a promising alternative, while meeting both the cost and technical performance targets of mild hybrids, PowerGenix suggests.

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Tesla leads with transfer of ZEV credits for year ending 30 Sep 2013

October 17, 2013

Tesla by far dominated the transfer of ZEV credits in California in 2012. Data: ARB. Click to enlarge.

Between 1 October 2012 and 30 September 2013, electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla Motors transferred out 1,311.520 ZEV (zero emission vehicle) credits, according to the latest report by the California Air Resources Board (ARB)—by far, the largest of any automaker in the state. The next closest was Toyota, with 507.5 credits; Nissan only transferred 25 credits, and those generated from its PZEVs—not from the LEAF EV.

As of 30 September, Tesla still had a balance of 276.080 credits, according to the data; behind the six major automakers, who are mostly banking their credits.

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Under Wanxiang, Li-ion battery maker A123 Systems to increase focus on low-voltage hybrids

October 09, 2013

A123 Systems LLC, a developer and manufacturer of Nanophosphate lithium iron phosphate batteries and systems, has outlined its new organizational structure and strategic focus as a member of the Wanxiang Group, which acquired nearly all of A123’s businesses last January. (Earlier post.)

A123’s transportation business continues to serve customers including BAE Systems, BMW, Daimler, GM and SAIC, among others. The production facilities in Michigan continue to produce the majority of A123’s transportation output and successfully launched the Chevy Spark EV battery system for General Motors earlier this year. (Earlier post.) However, going forward, the transportation unit will be increasingly focused on low-voltage (12- and 48-volt) hybrids to capitalize on the performance advantages of its Nanophosphate EXT chemistry and systems competence in micro-hybrids. (Earlier post.)

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Pre-orders start for Mazda Axela in Japan; gasoline and hybrid models first, followed by diesel

Axela Hybrid. Click to enlarge.

Mazda Motor Corporation will begin taking pre-orders for the new Mazda Axela sports compact (known outside of Japan as Mazda3) on 10 October 10, 2013 at its dealers throughout Japan. (Earlier post.) The company expects to sell 3,000 units per month in Japan.

Sales will begin on 21 November, starting with the gasoline engine and a hybrid models, to be followed by a diesel version. This will make Mazda the first domestic automaker to offer gasoline, diesel and hybrid versions of a single model in Japan.

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Ford doubles electric drive market share in US from 2012 to 2013; surging with plug-in hybrids

October 04, 2013

Ford’s changing share of the hybrid-electric, plug-in hybrid electric, battery-electric vehicle segments and total ED market in the US in 2012 and YTD 2013. Data: EDTA, Ford Motor. Click to enlarge.

Ford Motor Company’s C-platform electric drive strategy has driven an increase in Ford’s overall electric drive market share (hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery-electric) from 7.3% in calendar year 2012 to 14.7% for the first nine months of 2013.

Specifically, out of 487,480 electric drive units sold in 2012 (according to data from the Electric Drive Transportation Association), Ford accounted for 35,719 units (7.3%). From January through September 2013, total electric drive sales were 457,704 units (EDTA); Ford’s electric drive sales climbed to 67,232 units during that period (14.7%).

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XL Hybrids introduces 3rd generation hybrid system for Class 1-4 trucks; XL3 features in-line motor to ease upfitting

October 01, 2013

XL Hybrids’ third-generation inline post transmission motor and system components. Click to enlarge.

XL Hybrids, Inc., developer of a low-cost hybrid electric powertrain designed specifically for class 1 to 4 commercial fleet use (earlier post), unveiled its third-generation XL3 product release for model year 2014 vehicles. The XL3 system features a patent-pending inline traction motor system design, the newest upgrade for its hybrid conversion system.

The new inline (post-transmission) motor delivers the same output power rating (40 kW peak) as the preceding system, which used a motor installed in parallel to the existing drivetrain along with a 1.8 kWh Li-ion battery pack, said Justin Ashton, VP Business Development and co-founder. From a system-level perspective, the XL3 will deliver the same level of fuel economy, the same overall system efficiency Ashton said—but with lower cost components and lower cost installation.

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Chrysler Group files S-1 for IPO; snapshot of R&D priorities; exploring a light-duty hydraulic hybrid

September 24, 2013

Chrysler Group LLC has filed a registration statement on Form S-1 with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) relating to a proposed initial public offering of common shares. Details of the offering—i.e., number of shares and price range—are yet to be determined.

However, the document not only provides a detailed look at the finances of the company, it also provides a quick recap of recent technology developments and some insight into the company’s immediate research priorities. Chrysler writes that its has “made the development of more fuel-efficient vehicles a priority to meet retail consumer preferences, comply with future regulations and as part of our commitment to sustainability.

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One way or another, Fisker Automotive may soon be off the market

September 23, 2013

by Keith Patterson

Two German investors, Ingo Voigt and Fritz Nol, announced their intent to buy Fisker Automotive, the failing plug-in hybrid car company, on 11 September. The team submitted a detailed offer to the US Department of Energy (DOE) along with a letter of intent for restructuring Fisker.

The purchase funds for Fisker would in theory go directly to the DOE since the government agency loaned the auto company a large sum of money before it stopped production more than a year ago. Though the Voight/Nol offer amount has not yet been made public, many predict the company will sell for $25 million to $50 million. However, subsequent to the Voight/Nol offer, DOE announced it would auction off the remainder of Fisker’s loan obligation, “after exhausting any realistic possibility for a sale that might have protected our entire investment.” [See sidebar.]

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Balqon working with Polar Power to develop series plug-in hybrid drive system for heavy-duty trucks and buses

September 16, 2013

XRE-20 battery-electric yard tractor. Click to enlarge.

Balqon Corporation, a developer of electric drive system technology for commercial vehicles (earlier post), has entered into a Joint Development Agreement with Polar Power Inc. to develop a series plug-in hybrid system for Balqon’s line of heavy-duty electric trucks and buses. Under this agreement both companies will work towards development of a 40 kW on-board DC generator to charge batteries during the daily drive cycle to increase the range of Balqon vehicles.

Balqon’s heavy-duty trucks and drive systems are designed to transport up to 30 ton cargo containers. Products include the Li-in battery-powered Model XRE20 yard tractor designed for port drayage applications.

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Ford launches electric vehicle charging network for employees; hoping to increase number of all-electric trips

Ford Motor Company is installing a new workplace plug-in vehicle charging network at nearly every Ford facility in the US and Canada. Ford will install charging stations at more than 50 company offices, product development campuses and manufacturing facilities. Installation will begin later this year and roll out throughout 2014.

Ford employees will be able to charge the all-electric Focus Electric, as well as Ford’s two plug-in hybrids—the Fusion Energi and C-MAX Energi—at the charge stations. The service will initially be free to employees for the first four hours. Ford estimates it will cost the company about $0.50 fully to charge a vehicle.

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ETH Zürich team developing light-duty natural gas-diesel hybrid electric powertrain; 43 g/km CO2

September 12, 2013

Consumption measurements of the dual-fuel natural gas-diesel engine as a function of speed and load. Source: Ott et al. Click to enlarge.

Researchers at ETH Zürich have developed a light-duty hybrid electric vehicle featuring a dual-fuel natural gas-diesel engine. In an open access paper in the journal Energies, they report that CO2 emissions can be reduced to as low as 43g/km in a subcompact car configuration using the dual-fuel hybrid electric powertrain on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC). The dual-fuel engine can also serve in a non-hybrid application.

In the dual-fuel engine, the natural gas (usually a fuel for spark-ignited engines) is injected into the intake manifold of a compression-ignition diesel engine. Instead of using a spark plug for ignition, the premixed air-gas mixture is ignited with a small amount of directly injected diesel fuel. This approach—already being successfully commercialized in heavy-duty engines by Westport Innovations (e.g., earlier post) and Clean Air Power (e.g., earlier post)—delivers the high performance and efficiency of diesel with lower CO2 and tailpipe emissions.

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Johnson Controls introducing first-generation 48V Micro Hybrid battery at Frankfurt show (fuel economy benefit corrected)

September 11, 2013

The first-generation 48-volt Lithium-ion Micro Hybrid battery has the potential to enable up to 1% fuel savings in vehicles. Click to enlarge.

Johnson Controls unveiled its first-generation 48-volt Lithium-ion Micro Hybrid battery (earlier post) at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt, Germany. The company had shown demonstration modules earlier in the year at the Detroit Auto Show and the Hannover Messe.

Leveraging a dual voltage architecture, Johnson Controls’ Micro Hybrid battery system will involve a 12-volt lead-acid starter battery and a 48-volt Lithium-ion battery that enables optimization of energy generation and consumption. The Micro Hybrid technology has the potential to provide up to 15% fuel savings in vehicles and is available for testing with key automotive customers this December.

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Navigant forecasts 18.6% CAGR for plug-ins in North America to 2022; 2.4% new vehicle share in US

September 10, 2013

Annual light duty PEV Sales, top 5 states, 2013-2022. Source: Navigant. Click to enlarge.

In an update to its 2012 geographic breakdown of plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) sales in North America, Navigant Research now forecasts that overall sales of will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 18.6% between 2013 and 2022. Navigant Research forecasts that PEVs will reach 416,153 annual sales in the United States and 230,479 in Canada by 2022.

The model for North American PEV sales by US state, metropolitan statistical area (MSA), Canadian province, Canadian city, and selected US utility service area has been updated to better align with actual sales data from the first full year of wide availability of PEVs.

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Continental presents new “48 Volt Eco Drive” system; orders received and production begins in 2016

Components of the 48 Volt Eco Drive system and the demonstrator. Click to enlarge.

Continental presented its new “48 Volt Eco Drive” system at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The new system supplements the traditional 12V electrical network with a 48V electrical system and components, bridging the gap between low-end hybridization based on present-day 12V start/stop systems and more sophisticated high-voltage hybrid solutions.

Installed in a demonstrator vehicle, the 48 Volt Eco Drive system offers NEDC fuel savings of around 13%. First orders have been received, and production will begin in 2016, according to José Avila, Head of the Powertrain Division and Member of the Continental Executive Board.

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Opel Monza Concept at Frankfurt features CNG extended range electric vehicle powertrain with new 1.0L 3-cylinder engine

Monza Concept. Click to enlarge.

Opel intends that its Monza Concept (earlier post), unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show, serve as a role-model for next-generation Opel cars, with particular emphasis on design, maximum connectivity, and optimum efficiency, including advanced powertrain flexibility.

The Monza Concept is based on a modular design to allow highest-possible flexibility when selecting a propulsion system. A variety of sustainable powertrains based on increasing electrification of the automobile are conceivable, Opel noted. For the Monza Concept displayed at the Frankfurt show, engineers conceived an electric drive with a CNG (compressed natural gas) range extender—a further development of the Ampera’s technology.

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BMW unveils production i8 plug-in hybrid; 94 mpg; on sale in US in 2014 priced from $135,925

The BMW i8 goes on sale in the US in 2014. Click to enlarge.

BMW unveiled the BMW i8 2+2 plug-in hybrid sports car (earlier post) today at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show. The i8—the first plug-in hybrid vehicle from the BMW Group—will have a manufacturer’s suggest retail price of $135,925 (including destination and handling) when it arrives in US showrooms in spring of 2014.

The combination of a new 3-cylinder, 1.5-liter BMW TwinPower Turbo engine and BMW eDrive technology plus intelligent energy management produces system output of 266 kW/362 hp (max. torque: 570 N·m / 420 lb-ft). The BMW i8 accelerates from 0 – 100 km/h in 4.4 seconds), and offers EU combined cycle fuel consumption of 2.5 liters per 100 km / 94 mpg (US) along with an AWD driving experience with torque distribution geared towards optimized dynamics. The everyday driving range of the BMW i8 on a full fuel tank and with a fully charged battery is more than 500 kilometers (310 miles) in COMFORT mode.

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Georgia Tech study suggests unlinking EVs from CAFE and coordinating with power sector for low-cost benefits

September 08, 2013

Change in total consumer expenditure for EVs and conventional vehicles (CVs) purchased in 2030 over the vehicle lifetime for 20% and 100% EV adoption scenarios. A negative value means the case has a lower TCE than the reference case. Credit: ACS, Choi et al. Click to enlarge.

A team from Georgia Tech suggests, based on their modeling of electric vehicle (EV) adoption scenarios in each of six regions of the Eastern Interconnection (containing 70% of the US population), that coordinating EV adoption with the adoption of controlled EV charging, unlinking EVs from consideration in the CAFE fuel economy regulations; and implementing renewable electricity standards would deliver low-cost reductions in emissions and gasoline usage. (For the study, they define EVs as including both battery-electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) vehicles.

Only in the case of high EV market share and a high renewable electricity standard (RES) do EVs make a material contribution to greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions, they found. However, managed EV adoption can reduce the cost of achieving GHG reductions through a RES, they concluded in their paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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Citroën to show Cactus concept with Hybrid Air powertrain

September 06, 2013

Citroën Cactus concept with Airbumps (not related to the Hybrid Air powertrain). Click to enlarge.

At the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show, Citroën will showcase its Cactus C-segment concept car, featuring, among other technologies, the Hybrid Air powertrain co-developed by PSA Peugeot Citroën and Bosch. (Earlier post.)

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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2014 Honda Accord Hybrid EPA-rated at 50 mpg city

2014 Honda Accord Hybrid. Click to enlarge.

Honda has begun US production of the 2014 Accord Hybrid (earlier post), which will carry an EPA fuel economy rating of 50 mpg (4.7 l/100 km) in city driving. The EPA rating is 1 mpg higher than Honda had originally anticipated for the hybrid (49 mpg). The new Accord Hybrid also carries an EPA-rated highway fuel economy of 45 mpg (5.2 l/100 km) and combined cycle fuel economy of 47 mpg (5.0 l/100 km) as the company had earlier projected.

Set to go on sale in the US in October, the 2014 Accord Hybrid’s city fuel-economy rating is 3 mpg higher than the closest segment competitor (Ford Fusion Hybrid) and its calculated driving range of 673 miles is more than 46 miles farther than any vehicle in its segment, according to Honda’s analysis. (The Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid holds the top highway fuel economy rating at 48 mpg (4.9 l/100 km).)

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