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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.]

Bosch 48V mild hybrid system to be production-ready by 2017; Gen 2 prototype integrated in transmission for all-electric driving

September 04, 2015

Bosch is developing a 48V entry-level hybrid system that will be production-ready by 2017. “The boost recuperation system is the hybrid for everyone,” says Dr. Rolf Bulander, member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH and chairman of the Mobility Solutions business sector.

Bosch says that the low-cost system, which enables start-stop functionality and braking energy recuperation, will deliver about a 15% improvement in fuel consumption, not only in controlled tests, but also in everyday driving situations. An electric boost feature also enables more dynamic acceleration; the motor generator provides the combustion engine with an additional 150 N·m of support during acceleration.

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BMW to showcase 4 production plug-in hybrids at IAA in Frankfurt; new 225xe

September 03, 2015

BMW is using the upcoming IAA in Frankfurt to showcase four production BMW brand plug-in hybrid models from different vehicle segments—one newly announced. BMW eDrive is the new drive system technology used in all the electrically powered vehicles from BMW i and the plug-in hybrid models from BMW. Alongside BMW TwinPower Turbo technology for combustion engines, intelligent lightweight design and optimized aerodynamics, BMW eDrive technology is therefore one of the most important elements in the EfficientDynamics strategy designed to increase power and further reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

Coinciding with the world premiere of the new generation BMW 7 Series, BMW is highlighting the plug-in hybrid variant of the luxury sedan, the BMW 740e (earlier post). The plug-in hybrid BMW 330e (earlier post) with plug-in hybrid drive is being added to the model line-up for the new BMW 3 Series. Also sharing the stand will be a newly announced plug-in hybrid from the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, the BMW 225xe. Together with the soon-to-be-launched BMW X5 xDrive40e (earlier post) also on display at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, the BMW eDrive technology initially developed for BMW i cars will be available for BMW models spanning four different vehicle segments in 2016.

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Mitsubishi Motors 2016 Outlander PHEV will make its European debut at IAA

August 31, 2015

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC)’s revamped 2016 Outlander PHEV, due to go on sale in Europe in September, will make its European debut at the 66th International Motor Show (IAA) in several weeks. MMC will also show the rally version of the Outlander PHEV that will compete in the Baja Portalegre 500 cross-country rally as well as a display outlining a Vehicle-to-Home (V2H) electricity supply system that will be available for the new Outlander PHEV.

The Outlander PHEV was first launched in Japan in January 2013 as the world’s first plug-in hybrid 4WD SUV. (Earlier post.) Now exported to 48 countries including those in Europe, the Outlander has racked up cumulative sales of some 70,000 units. The Outlander PHEV is powered by Mitsubishi Motors’ Plug-in Hybrid EV system, comprising a Twin Motor 4WD drivetrain, with separate motors driving the front and rear wheels, and a high-capacity battery located under the floor that provides electric-only driving.

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60% of $18B in US clean energy tax credits 2006-2012 went to top 20% by income; 90% in the plug-in program

August 30, 2015

A working paper by a team at the Energy Institute at Haas, University of California, Berkeley, has found that 60% of the $18 billion in US federal income clean energy tax credits issued between 2006 and 2012—e.g., for weatherizing homes, installing solar panels, and buying hybrid and electric vehicles—went to the top income quintile in the US (above $200,000 per year). The bottom three quintiles (up to $75,000 per year) received about 10%.

The most extreme case, Severin Borenstein and Lucas Davis found through their examination of tax return data from the IRS, is the program aimed at electric vehicles—the top income quintile received about 90% of all these credits. As a result of the work, Borenstein and Davis conclude that tax credits are likely to be much less attractive on distributional grounds than market mechanisms to reduce GHGs.

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Skeleton Technologies and Adgero introduce ultracap-based KERS system for truck trailers

August 26, 2015

UK-based ultracapacitor company Skeleton Technologies and France-based Adgero SARL are introducing an ultracapacitor-based Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) for truck trailers. The hybrid system is designed to reduce fuel consumption and associated emissions by up to 25%, and is optimized for intermodal road transport solutions.

The Adgero Hybrid System consists of a bank of Skeleton high-power ultracapacitors working alongside an electrically-driven axle, which is mounted under the trailer. The technology is controlled by an intelligent management system that tracks driver input in order to automatically control the regenerative braking and acceleration boost.

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EDI and Shaanxi Automotive introducing PHEV port trucks at Port of Shanghai

August 24, 2015

Hybrid and electric drivetrain solutions company Efficient Drivetrains, Inc. (EDI) and Shaanxi Automotive, one of the world’s largest truck and bus manufacturers, are introducing a fleet of plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) trucks to the Port of Shanghai.

The PHEV port truck is capable of operating at 99,000 pounds (44,907 kg) gross vehicle weight (GVW) with electrified vehicle accessories—including air conditioning and heating—allowing the use of accessories for driver comfort without idling the engine. The PHEV port truck provides all-electric zero emissions driving capability as well as parallel and series hybrid operation.

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CMU analysis finds BEVs powered with natural gas-based electricity have about 40% of the lifecycle GHGs of a conventional gasoline vehicle

August 21, 2015

According to a new lifecycle analysis by a team at Carnegie Mellon University, a battery electric vehicle (BEV) powered with natural gas-based electricity achieves around an average 40% lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction when compared to a conventional gasoline vehicle. Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), either with a 30- or 60-km range, when powered by natural gas electricity, have the second lowest average emissions. Both BEVs and PHEVs provide large (more than 20%) emissions reductions compared to conventional gasoline, but none of them is a dominant strategy when compared to gasoline hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), the team found.

Gaseous hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles have comparable life cycle emissions with conventional gasoline, offering limited reductions with 100-year global warming potential (GWP) yet leading to increases with 20-year GWP. Other liquid fuel pathways using natural gas—methanol, ethanol, and Fischer–Tropsch liquids—have larger GHG emissions than conventional gasoline even when carbon capture and storage technologies are available. The study is published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.

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2015 Harris Poll finds 48% of US car owners would consider hybrid for new car, same as in 2013; plug-in consideration up 2 points

August 20, 2015

A new Harris Poll of 2,225 US adults (aged 18 and older) has found that 48% of American car owners (or anticipated owners) say they’d consider a traditional hybrid the next time they’re in the market for a new vehicle—a result identical to 2013 findings. Harris recorded lower consideration levels for plug-in vehicles, whether they be plug-in hybrids (29%, up 2 percentage points) or pure electrics (21%, also up 2 points).

An additional two in ten would consider a diesel (19%, up 3 points), while 35% would consider a smaller or gas powered vehicle to save on operating costs (down 3 points).

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Cal Energy Commission grants $2.4M for Class 8 fuel cell hybrid trucks at ports; $1.2M for PEV fleet and V2G software upgrade

August 13, 2015

The California Energy Commission approved a grant of $2.4 million to the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) under the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program to build and to test seven hybrid fuel-cell, Class 8 trucks to transport cargo at the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports.

The Commission also approved $1.2 million to expand the data collection effort for the plug-in vehicle project at Los Angeles Air Force Base (earlier post) to assess fully the economic and technical viability of transforming military base tactical vehicles to plug-in electric drive vehicle drive vehicles participating in vehicle-to-grid services.

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Nissan to address KERS issues of GT-R LM NISMO before returning to FIA World Endurance Championship

August 07, 2015

Nissan will delay its return to the LM P1 class of the FIA World Endurance Championship and instead focus on technical issues that challenged its race team during the Le Mans 24 Hours in June. Issues with the kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) meant that the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO (earlier post) had to run at the Le Mans 24 Hours on engine power alone. The next race for the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO would have been the 6 Hours of Nürburgring, round four of the FIA World Endurance Championship, on 30 August.

The Nissan GT-R LM NISMO represents an innovative interpretation of the sport’s technical regulations: a front-engined, front-wheel-drive car that powered by a V6 3.0-liter twin turbo gasoline engine and a mechanical flywheel Energy Recovery System (ERS) that runs in the 2MJ class.

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2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron PHEV starting at $37,900 in US

August 05, 2015

US prices for the 2016 A3 Sportback e-tron plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (earlier post)—the first of many Audi e-tron models destined to come to the US—will begin at $37,900. Purchasing customers may qualify for applicable state and federal incentives and tax credits. The first electrified Audi sold in the US, the A3 Sportback e-tron will launch at dealerships nationwide in October. EPA figures will be announced in the near future once they are available from US regulators.

The Audi PHEV will come in 3 packages: Premium for $37,900; Premium Plus for $42,000; and Prestige for $46,800. Audi expects the PHEV to qualify for a federal tax credit of $4,168. Buyers in some states may qualify for additional incentives. Tax credits and incentives are subject to availability, and customers should consult their tax professionals and IRS.gov for more information about tax credits and incentives.

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2016 Chevrolet Volt EPA-rated at 53 miles all-electric range

August 04, 2015

The Chevrolet Volt’s all-new second-generation Voltec extended-range electric propulsion system (earlier post) delivers 53 miles (85 km) of all-electric range, based on EPA testing. That is nearly a 40% improvement over the first-generation Volt, and a 6% boost over the projected 50-mile (80 km) AER estimated at the new Volt’s unveiling in January. (Earlier post.)

Chevrolet expects many next-generation Volt owners will use power solely from their batteries for more than 90% of trips. Today, Volt owners use battery power on 80% of their trips, according to GM. The additional range would enable the average Volt owner to travel well over 1,000 miles (1,609 km) (in multiple trips) between gas fill ups, if they charge regularly.

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Researchers find HEV under real-world conditions delivers significantly greater fuel economy benefits than EPA “sticker” values

August 03, 2015

In a new study reported in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, a team at the University of Vermont found that when including real-world road grade and ambient conditions compared to controlled laboratory tests, fuel consumption benefits for a hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) under study increased by 18% highway and 33% city compared to estimates based on EPA adjusted fuel economy “sticker” values. (The vehicles under study were a conventional and hybrid Camry).

In other words, they found that they real-world fuel economy benefit of adoption of HEVs may be better than for estimates based on EPA “sticker” fuel economy alone. The duo, Britt A. Holmén and Karen M. Sentoff, suggested that based on these results, more positive forecasts for future petroleum and corresponding CO2 emissions savings from increased hybridization of the passenger vehicle fleet may be warranted.

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Total alternative fuel vehicle reg in Europe up 17.4% in Q2 2015, EVs up 53%; EVs up 78.4% for H1

In the second quarter of 2015, total alternative fuel vehicle registrations in the EU increased (+17.4%), totalling 143,595, according to figures from the ACEA. Of these, electric vehicle (EV) registrations—Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) + Plug‐in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) + Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs)—significantly grew (+53.0%), rising from 18,024 units in Q2 2014 to 27,575 units in Q2 2015.

Demand for new hybrid vehicles (HEV) also increased (+22.6%), totalling 53,443 units. 62,577 new passenger cars in the second quarter (+3.0%) were powered by propane and natural gas.

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Daimler wraps up eMERGE EV 2-year fleet trial, launches larger eMERGE2 with EVs and PHEVs

July 31, 2015

Daimler reports that the two-year eMERGE real-world trial of 146 smart fortwo electric drive vehicles has been completed. Those taking part in the project were private and business customers in Berlin, Potsdam and North Rhine-Westphalia. The lowest average energy consumption per vehicle over one year was 10.4 kWh/100 km, while the longest single-charge range was 161 kilometers (100 miles). The smart fortwo electric drive is certified with a consumption of 16.3 kWh/100 km and a range of 145 kilometers (90 miles).

eMERGE is being followed directly by eMERGE2, which will see up to 200 cars being used in the model regions of Berlin/Potsdam, Stuttgart, Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main. The vehicle fleet will include the battery electric B 250 e and plug-in hybrids from Mercedes-Benz. The different technology and vehicle segments suggest different use cases than the smart fortwo electric drive.

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ICCT: ongoing cost reductions in full- and mild-hybrid systems could bring them into consumer mainstream by 2025

July 24, 2015

According to a new technology briefing paper on hybrid system technologies by John German at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), the costs of full-function hybrid systems are likely to drop to half the cost of their 2010 counterparts before 2025.

Combined with the development of mild-hybrid systems (belt-alternator or 48-volt system)s—which will likely provide one-half to two-thirds the fuel-efficiency benefits of full-function hybrids at less than half the cost—these levels of cost reductions could put both those technologies into the consumer mainstream by 2025, at least from a cost of technology point of view, German suggests.

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DLR and Wuppertal publish comprehensive global analysis of e-mobility technologies, outlook and lifecycle assessments

July 23, 2015

The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy (Wuppertal Institut für Klima, Umwelt, Energie GmbH; WI) have published results of their STROMbegleitung (electricity evaluation) comprehensive study to analyze technologies; market outlook; policy support; infrastructure; and life-cycle assessments for electrically-powered transport.

The study, which ran from October 2011 – September 2014, comprehensively charts current progress in technology; identifies trends; analyzes lifecycle assessments for a variety of vehicle concepts; and assess material intensities. At the same time, it places German activities in the field of electromobility within an international context. The research program received a €1.7 million euro grant from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung; BMBF) as part of the STROM support program (key technologies for electromobility).

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MTU Friedrichshafen forms partnership with AKASOL for battery systems for hybrid and e-drive propulsion systems

July 22, 2015

MTU Friedrichshafen GmbH, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of large diesel engines and complete propulsion systems, has formed a close development partnership with AKASOL GmbH, a Darmstadt-based subsidiary of Schulz Group (Tettnang) and a leading manufacturer of Li-ion battery systems for high performance applications. The partnership aims to develop and to deliver battery systems for MTU’s hybrid and e-drive propulsion systems.

With the help of AKASOL battery systems, MTU aims to extend its current product range with hybrid propulsion systems for mobile applications in the marine, heavy duty ground vehicles and rail sector. In the near future, AKASOL systems will be used in stationary industrial drives as well.

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Using the PHEV (Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle) to Transition Society Seamlessly and Profitably From Fossil Fuel to 100% Renewable Energy

July 17, 2015

by Professor Andrew Alfonso Frank
CTO Efficient Drivetrains Inc. and UC-Davis Emeritus
and
Catherine J DeMauro

Abstract. The alternative-fuel car evolved to reduce exhaust emissions and other problems derived from burning fossil fuels. The PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle), a subset of the electric car, combines a primary electric motor with a much smaller back-up engine fueled with a hydrocarbon/biofuel mix. (In this paper PHEV refers solely to the long-range PHEV of 60 miles (100 km) electric-only range.) The PHEV does not require the heavy, costly batteries required by other electric cars, nor does it suffer from a limited range or poor freeway performance.

Though the PHEV combines the two types of energy and power, it is not merely a temporary “transition” between gasoline and diesel cars to pure electric cars. It is much more than that. It offers the solution to several significant transitions we need: moving society from burning fossil fuels to substituting renewable resource fuels such as solar, wind and biofuels; and from using fossil materials as fuel to using them for other recyclable uses.

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SFU researchers find promise for plug-in vehicles in Canada, but need for increased supply and policy support

July 16, 2015

New work by a team at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Canada has found that more than one-third of Canadian buyers want a plug-in vehicle (PEV), with the majority of those (89—93%) wanting a plug-in hybrid rather than a pure electric vehicle. However, less than 1% of vehicle sales in Canada are electric because of low consumer awareness and limited vehicle choice.

With the current supply of PEVs in Canada (7 models), the future PEV new market share is not likely to exceed 4—5% by 2030, according to the report; increasing supply (to 56 models) could increase market share to over 20% by 2030.

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MAHLE control software combines GPS and topographical road data to manage plug-in hybrid energy consumption

July 15, 2015

As part of the continuing development of MAHLE’s range-extended electric vehicle (REEV) initiative (described and demonstrated at the Aachen Colloquium in 2012), the company’s Powertrain division has developed control software which can manage the consumption of battery energy for plug-in hybrids through a combination of GPS (global positioning systems) and topographical road data.

Bernie Porter, head of MAHLE’s Calibration and Controls Engineering group, said the company developed the software to use in research on its REEV test vehicle. MAHLE is investigating this powertrain technology using a range extender combustion engine and a demonstrator vehicle, both developed in house.

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Volkswagen launches new Passat GTE plug-in hybrid in Europe

July 14, 2015

Volkswagen has launched its second plug-in hybrid based on a high-volume production model: the Passat GTE, available either as a sedan or Variant (wagon)—the first plug-in hybrid from Volkswagen to be sold as either. (Earlier post, earlier post.) The Passat GTE and Passat GTE Variant will arrive on the European market this autumn; in the first few countries advance sales have already begun. In Asia the launch will also be this year. In terms of the brand, the Passat GTE is a basic building block in Volkswagen’s electric motoring strategy.

Together with the plug-in hybrids from Audi (A3 e-tron, Q7 e-tron and R8 e-tron) and Porsche (Cayenne S E-Hybrid and Panamera S E- Hybrid), Volkswagen AG now has ten models in its portfolio driven wholly or partially on electric power. (The Volkswagen brand contributes the Golf and Passat GTE plug-ins, the low-volume XL1, and the battery-electric e-up! and e-Golf.) The Passat GTE is the first plug-in hybrid model being sold by the Group in the high-volume segment of large family cars.

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Lightning Hybrids’ lightweight composite accumulator for hydraulic hybrid systems

July 11, 2015

Lightning Hybrids, developer and manufacturer of hydraulic hybrid systems for medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses (earlier post), has provided some detail and background on a core component of its system: the hydraulic accumulator, or “mechanical battery”.

In the hydraulic hybrid system, hydraulic pumps and the lightweight accumulator store braking energy; upon acceleration the stored energy provides torque to the wheels. Up to a 35% gain in fuel efficiency in heavy drive cycles is achieved by regenerating the braking energy that is normally wasted to heat, and using this energy instead of the internal combustion engine for acceleration. Lightning Hybrids’ patented hydraulic hybrid system includes high-efficiency hydraulic pumps, a power transfer module, the lightweight accumulator system, a valve block, and a proprietary control system.

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Navigant forecasts global annual sales of LDVs of 122.6M by 2035, up 38% from 2015

July 06, 2015

In a new report, Navigant Research forecasts global annual sales of light duty vehicles will reach 122.6 million by 2035, up 38% from a projected 88.8 million this year, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.6%. Navigant Research expects the number of LDVs in use on roads worldwide to grow by 57.1% from 2015 to 2035 to almost 1.9 billion units.

Navigant expects sales of conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles will fall significantly over the forecast period, experiencing a CAGR of -6.6%. As a result, the share of vehicles in use that are conventional ICE vehicles will fall from more than 91% in 2015 to under 40% by 2035. Navigant expects ICE vehicles will be replaced by start-stop vehicles (SSVs), which will grow from representing more than 4% of vehicles in use in 2015 to nearly 49% in 2035. Hybrids (HEVs) are expected to account for nearly 3%, while PHEVs (plug-in hybrids), BEVs (battery-electric vehicles), NGVs (natural gas vehicles), PAGVs (propane autogas vehicles), and FCV (fuel cell vehicles) s together are projected to add up to more than 9% of the LDVs in use in 2035.

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Study: even with high LDV electrification, low-carbon biofuels will be necessary to meet 80% GHG reduction target; “daunting” policy implications

July 03, 2015

A study by researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Michigan State University colleague has concluded that even with a relatively high rate of electrification of the US light-duty fleet (40% of vehicle miles traveled and 26% by fuel), an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050 relative to 1990 can only be achieved with significant quantities of low-carbon liquid fuel. The paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

For the study, the researchers benchmarked 27 scenarios against a 50% petroleum-reduction target and an 80% GHG-reduction target. They found that with high rates of electrification (40% of miles traveled) the petroleum-reduction benchmark could be satisfied, even with high travel demand growth. The same highly electrified scenarios, however, could not satisfy 80% GHG-reduction targets, even assuming 80% decarbonized electricity and no growth in travel demand.

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BMW shows future drive technologies; 2 Series PHEV prototype, direct water injection in 3-cyl. engine, and fuel cell eDrive

July 02, 2015

During a driving event at the Miramas proving grounds in southern France, BMW presented future drive technologies, including the prototype of a BMW 2 Series Active Tourer with plug-in hybrid drive. This application of BMW eDrive technologies features the first PHEV system with a front/transverse-mounted combustion engine, high-voltage generator and road-linked all-wheel drive via an electric drive system at the rear axle.

The company also showcased the use of direct water injection to enhance the efficiency of combustion engines at higher performance levels while also significantly reducing fuel consumption and emissions in key driving cycles. Finally, BMW showcased a hydrogen fuel cell drive system as a future-focused variant of BMW eDrive (teased in a technical session during April’s SAE World Congress in Detroit) enabling all-electric driving with a high operating range and short refueling times. (BMW is collaborating with Toyota on fuel cell systems. Earlier post.)

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Researchers find Nissan LEAF creates less CO2 than Toyota Prius hybrid in west US and Texas, but more in N. Midwest

July 01, 2015

Regionally specific lifecycle CO2 emissions per mile traveled for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in the US can vary widely based on grid emission factors (i.e., the “carbon footprint” of electricity production and use), according to a new study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University. Under some conditions, the battery electric Nissan LEAF can produce higher emissions than a Toyota Prius hybrid. The paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The team characterized the vehicle emissions across the United States under alternative assumptions for regional electricity emission factors, regional boundaries, and charging schemes. Among the findings were that:

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Skeleton Technologies launches new range of high-performance ultracapacitors; up to 111 kW/kg and 9.6 Wh/kg; hybrid truck application coming

June 30, 2015

Skeleton Technologies (earlier post) has launched a new range of cylindrical ultracapacitors that offers specific power performance of up to 111 kW/kg (SC450, 450F) and specific energy up to 9.6 Wh/kg (SC4500, 4500F) with ESR as low as 0.075 mΩ (SC3000, 3000F)—the highest performance cylindrical cell ultracapacitors in the market.

Through the use of its patented graphene material, the new series features a capacitance of up to 4500 farads (the SC4500 cell). By contrast, the closest competitor product has a capacitance of 3400 farads. Skeleton claims this is the single biggest increase in energy density for ultracapacitors in the past 15 years.

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Saft to provide 800 kWh Li-ion system for hybrid ferry

June 22, 2015

Saft has won a contract to supply Li-ion battery systems to Imtech Marine, a leading maritime technology supplier. Two Saft Seanergy systems will be at the heart of the diesel-electric hybrid propulsion system and energy management system for “Hybrid III”, a Roll On Roll Off (RORO) passenger and vehicle ferry designed for use on Scotland’s short sea crossing routes around the Clyde and Hebrides.

The new vessel, currently under construction by Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd for CMAL (Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd), will be Scotland’s third hybrid ferry when it enters service in autumn 2016, carrying up to 150 passengers and 23 cars or two HGVs (Heavy Goods Vehicles) with a service speed of 9 knots. (CMAL is currently holding a naming competition for the ferry.)

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Mercedes-Benz premieres 2nd generation GLC and plug-in hybrid GLC 350 e 4MATIC

June 18, 2015

Mercedes-Benz unveiled the second generation of its mid-range GLC SUV (the SUV in the C-Class segment, formerly the GLK). In addition to cutting fuel consumption by up to 19% in comparison to the previous model on the conventional engined models, Mercedes also introduced another plug-in hybrid SUV model: the GLC 350 e 4MATIC.

In March, Mercedes-Benz said it would 10 new plug-in hybrid models by 2017. (Earlier post.) The company introduced its first SUV PHEV in the form of the GLE 550 e earlier this year. (Earlier post.) The GLE 550 e is Mercedes-Benz’ first plug-in hybrid SUV, the GLC 350 e its second.

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BMW wins overall International Engine of Year 2015 for hybrid drive system in i8 PHEV

June 17, 2015

BMW took top honors at the latest International Engine of the Year Awards, with the 1.5-liter, three-cylinder hybrid drive unit in the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid being declared the overall winner—as well as picking up two class wins—edging out Ford’s 1.0L three-cylinder EcoBoost. BMW also picked up a class win (2.5-liter to 3-liter) for the 3-liter, Twin Turbo six-cylinder engine in the BMW M3 and BMW M4.

The BMW i8 TwinPower Turbo three-cylinder gasoline engine was voted class winner in the 1.4-liter to 1.8-liter category, while the overall drive unit of the BMW i8 claimed a further class win as the best “new engine”. The combination of electric motor and gasoline engine also earned it overall victory.

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DDFlyTrain flywheel hybrid technology to deliver around 10% fuel savings, rapid ROI

The DDFlyTrain research project, conducted by Ricardo, Artemis Intelligent Power (a group company of Mitsubishi Heavy) and Bombardier Transportation, (earlier post) has projects a fuel savings of around 10% based on the use of high speed flywheel brake recovery technology retrofitted to Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) rolling stock. This order of saving means that the technology has a potential return on investment (ROI) of inside five years.

The DDFlyTrain hybrid solution—designed for integration onto a Bombardier Turbostar DMU—is based on Ricardo’s TorqStor high-speed flywheel energy storage technology and the high efficiency Artemis Digital Displacement hydraulic pump-motor transmission. (Earlier post.) The project has also produced a proof of concept test rig used to demonstrate the technology to rail industry stakeholders and a concept for integration onto a Bombardier Turbostar DMU.

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New generation GKN Hybrid Power flywheel hybrid system for Audi R18 e-tron

June 16, 2015

Among its many other changes, the hybrid Audi R18 e-tron quattro that placed third at the Le Mans 24 Hours this past weekend featured a new generation of the Gyrodrive flywheel hybrid energy storage system, developed by GKN in collaboration with Audi Sport. (Earlier post.) Audi driver André Lotterer set a new record lap time of 3m 17.47s with GKN’s technology on board.

GKN increased the energy storage capacity and average power rating while retaining the same dimensions and mass, enabling Audi to compete this year in the 4-megajoule of hybrid energy category. GKN said the technology advances embodied in the new flywheel hybrid system will accelerate its work to scale the technology into a lower-cost alternative to battery hybrids for transport applications.

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Honda discontinuing Civic Hybrid, Civic natural gas model, Accord plug-in hybrid; new BEV, PHEV models coming

June 15, 2015

Due in part to Honda’s ability to advance fuel economy through conventional engine technology, the Civic lineup will no longer include a hybrid or a natural gas model, according to John Mendel, Executive Vice President, Automobile Division American Honda Motor Co., Inc. Both of these products with the end of the 2015 model year. Mendel also said said that Honda will not offer a plug-in version of Accord going forward as the company looks toward the scheduled launch of a new dedicated plug-in model. Honda currently is selling the MY 2014 Accord Plug-in Hybrid.

Honda will launch the all-new 10th-generation Civic this fall. With two new engines on the new Civic, including its first turbo engine, Honda is targeting class-leading fuel economy for Civic, with EPA highway fuel economy “a few ticks” above 40 miles per gallon, Mendel said.

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BMW introduces 6th generation 7 Series; new 740e plug-in hybrid; remote control parking

June 10, 2015

BMW has introduced the new generation (6th) of its top-end 7 Series, featuring technology innovations in the areas of lightweight design, powertrains, chassis, operating systems, and intelligent connectivity. The all-new BMW 7 Series will be offered in the US exclusively as a long wheelbase version.

Key factors in enhancing dynamics, efficiency, comfort and safety are the use of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) in the body structure; engines from the BMW Group’s new generation of power units; the plug-in hybrid system in the new BMW 740e; the Executive Drive Pro active chassis system; the Driving Experience Control switch with ADAPTIVE mode; and BMW Laserlight.

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Evolute Drives seeking investors for MSYS multi-speed transmission for hybrids and EVs

June 09, 2015

Evolute Drives, incorporated as a separate entity by its sister company Drive System Design (DSD) (earlier post), is seeking investors to help commercialize its high efficiency MSYS multi-speed transmission system for hybrids and electric vehicles. (Earlier post.)

The MSYS transmission was originally developed under a 3-year Technology Strategy Board (now InnovateUK) grant awarded in 2011, and in 2013 DSD was named as a key member of a £16-million (US$24.4-million) UK government-supported consortium known as the Evoque_E development program. Evoque_E took a pragmatic look at how new transmission and motor technologies could be implemented to increase the range, performance and refinement of electric vehicles. Almost completed, the project has investigated a number of evolving powertrain options, including multi-speed transmissions and the potential for doubling electric vehicle motor speeds.

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Hybrid-electric powertrain for road sweepers; natural gas genset

June 06, 2015

Empa, ETH Zürich and the road sweeper manufacturer Bucher Municipal have jointly developed a pioneering hybrid-electric powertrain for road sweepers in a CTI (Switzerland’s Commission for Technology and Innovation) project. The concept is based on a natural gas-driven engine, which provides power to the electric motors. Compared to conventional sweepers, the energy consumption has been halved and CO2 emissions reduced by more than 60%.

Bucher Municipal, the European market leader in compact sweeping vehicles, is currently working on a concept study based on its CityCat platform to investigate possible commercialization of the new technologies.

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EcoCAR 2 winner OSU wins year one of North American EcoCAR 3 competition

The US Department of Energy and General Motors announced The Ohio State University (OSU) as the overall winning team for Year One of the EcoCAR 3 competition, a four-year collegiate engineering program that gives students the chance to design, build, and demonstrate cutting-edge, eco-friendly automotive technologies in the all-new 2016 Chevrolet Camaro. (Earlier post.) Virginia Tech and the University of Waterloo took second and third place respectively.

The judges decided that OSU showed all-around excellence in Year One, demonstrating a highly mature software development process, and as a result received a trophy, $10,000 and repeat winner bragging rights. The team earned a total of 937 points out of 1,000 and also took first place in the Communications and Project Management categories. Judges were impressed by their efforts in identifying a target market for their vehicle and branding strategy, including the tagline: “Classic.Recharged.”

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Scania to test electrically powered trucks on “electric road” under real-life conditions

June 04, 2015

In February 2016, Scania will start testing electric trucks on the electric road which will become a reality as the Swedish Transport Administration has now approved support for the Gävle Electric Road project. The project will demonstrate and evaluate conductive technology, which involves electrical transmission through overhead lines above vehicles equipped with a pantograph power collector.

The investment in the Gävle Electric Road project is in line with the Government’s goal of an energy-efficient and fossil-free vehicle fleet by 2030. The project consists of about SEK 77 million (US$9.3 million) in public financing combined with about SEK 48 million (US$5.8 million) in co-financing from the business community and the Gävleborg region.

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Toyota revamps Auris powertrain lineup, including hybrid; debut of new 1.2L turbo with Otto/Atkinson technology

May 29, 2015

Toyota’s 2015 Auris range in Europe features significant improvements in five key areas; design; sensory quality; the hybrid model; safety; and, improving the model’s segment coverage by some 40%, powertrains. Toyota had introduced the facelifted Auris at the Geneva show earlier this year. (Earlier post.)

Reflecting changing trends in the C-segment market which call for further reductions in fuel consumption, emissions and cost of ownership without detriment to performance or driving pleasure, Toyota has both extended and extensively revised the Auris full hybrid, gasoline and diesel powertrain line-up. Included in the revised lineup is the new 1.2-liter Turbo with Otto/Atkinson cycle technology. (Earlier post.) Every engine in the range now meets Euro 6 emissions regulations.

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California providing incentives up to $12K to help low-income families afford the cleanest cars

May 28, 2015

In coordination with local air officials, the California Air Resources Board is initiating a retire-and-replace pilot program in the Greater Los Angeles area and San Joaquin Valley to help people of low income replace old, polluting cars with cleaner, more fuel efficient vehicles that also cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The air district-administered program provides incentives on a sliding scale, with larger cash payments for the lowest-income families moving up to the cleanest cars. The lowest-income recipient purchasing the very cleanest car receives the highest incentive amounts. Under the program, it is possible for a family that meets income guidelines to receive as much as $12,000 toward the purchase of an electric car.

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Ford opens portfolio of patented technologies to competitors to accelerate industry-wide electrified vehicle development

Ford Motor Company is offering competitors access to its electrified vehicle technology patents in a move to help accelerate industry-wide research and development of electrified vehicles. In 2014, Ford filed more than 400 patents dedicated to electrified vehicle technologies. This is more than 20% of the patents the company filed, totaling more than 2,000 applications.

Ford currently offers six hybrid or fully electrified vehicles including Ford Focus Electric; Ford Fusion Hybrid; Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid; Ford C-MAX Hybrid; Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid; and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. In total, Ford has more than 650 electrified vehicle patents and approximately 1,000 pending patent applications on electrified vehicle technologies.

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Navigant forecasts annual plug-in electric vehicle sales in N America to exceed 1.1M by 2024

May 27, 2015

In a new report, Navigant Research forecasts that North American plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) sales will exceed 1.1 million annually by 2024. The report, Electric Vehicle Geographic Forecasts, provides data and forecasts for LD PEV sales in North America, including US states, MSAs, and utility service territories and Canadian provinces and cities.

To date, North America is the strongest market for light duty (LD) plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), with more than 133,000 sold in 2014. Navigant forecasts the US will continue to be the largest market throughout the forecast period, with annual PEV sales in 2024 exceeding 860,000 in the conservative scenario and 1.2 million in the aggressive. Navigant Research estimates this market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of between 14.7% and 18.6% between 2015 and 2024.

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First Drive: 2016 Hyundai Sonata PHEV and HEV

May 26, 2015

Hyundai began the US rollout of the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) (earlier post) and its conventional hybrid sibling (HEV) with a series of media drives in California—one of the main markets for the PHEV, which offers some 24 miles (38.6 km) of all electric range and a 9.8 kWh Li-ion polymer that can recharge in less than three hours with a Level-Two charger. Sonata Plug-in Hybrid will be built at the Asan, South Korea plant and will go on sale in select markets later this Fall. Hyundai unveiled the first generation hybrid Sonata in 2010, with a 2011 market introduction. (Earlier post.)

Hyundai will initially offer the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid in the ZEV states—California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont—in 2015. (Hyundai expects California and Oregon to be the top markets and areas of focus.) Sonata Plug-in Hybrid buyers will be eligible for a $2,500 fixed federal tax credit and a variable federal tax credit based on battery capacity that will also be over $2,000.

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Hitachi Automotive Systems supplying 5 kW/kg high power density prismatic Li-ion cells for MY 2016 Malibu Hybrid

May 20, 2015

Hitachi Automotive Systems, Ltd. will supply 5,000 W/kg high power density prismatic lithium-ion battery cells for the new MY 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid (earlier post). Featuring a new full-hybrid powertrain which leverages technology from the Chevrolet Volt, the 2016 Malibu Hybrid will offer an estimated combined fuel economy rating exceeding 45 mpg (5.22 l/100 km).

The Hitachi Li-ion cells employ heat resistant separators to ensure the ionic conductivity between the electrodes, achieving not only a high output power density of 5,000W/kg, but also a high level of safety. In addition to this, the battery’s ability to maintain its high output power density in GM evaluations, even under extremely low temperatures such as the -30 ˚C cold region test, led to its adoption.

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First drive: Volvo XC90 T8 Drive-E Twin Engine PHEV sets a high bar for full-size luxury SUV plug-ins in US

May 17, 2015

With the 2016 XC90 (earlier post) heading to dealerships across the US, Volvo Cars gave media an opportunity to experience the next generation of its full-size luxury SUV—in both its conventional T6 and plug-in hybrid T8 Drive-E Twin Engine forms—in and around Los Angeles. Volvo also brought in members of its engineering and design teams, including Michael Fleiss, VP of Powertrain Engineering, to provide more technical details on the car.

The XC90 is a critical car for Volvo’s revitalization worldwide and especially in the US market. Combining Volvo’s new design language, advanced safety and in-car connectivity technologies, and the new strategic Drive-E powertrains, the XC90 is the first product based on Volvo’s new strategic Scalable Product Architecture (SPA). (Earlier post.) The XC90 T8 Twin Engine will be the first 3-row, 7-passenger, plug-in hybrid electric light-duty vehicle in the US when it arrives in showrooms toward the end of 2015, but will soon be joined by—at least—the Audi Q7 e-tron quattro diesel PHEV (earlier post), the Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e PHEV (earlier post), and the BMW X5 xDrive 40e (earlier post).

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Volkswagen unveils Golf GTE Sport PHEV concept: 0-100 km/h in 4.3s and 118 mpg

May 14, 2015

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Golf GTE Sport PHEV concept. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen used the annual Wörthersee festival in Austria as the venue to unveil the Golf GTE Sport concept plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. Featuring a carbon fiber body and a three power unit, all-wheel drive system, the 295 kW (396 hp) Golf GTE Sport accelerates from 0 - 100 km/h in 4.3 seconds, has a top speed of up to 280 km/h (174 mph), yet offers fuel consumption of just 2.0 l/100 km/h (118 mpg) on the NEDC cycle for plug-in hybrid vehicles. All-electric range is up to 50 km (31 miles).

The 1.6 liter TSI (turbocharged direct-injection engine) adapted from the engine used in the Polo R WRC (World Rally Car) is fitted in the engine compartment at the front. The delivers 220 kW (295 hp) and maximum torque of 400 N·m (295 lb-ft). Volkswagen has already won the World Rally Championship twice with this engine. In the Golf GTE Sport, the four-cylinder unit is assisted by two electric motors, each producing 85 kW.

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BMW will launch plug-in hybrid version of refreshed 3 Series in 2016: BMW 330e

May 07, 2015

As part of its introduction of the lifecycle freshening for all 3 Series Sedans and Sports Wagons, BMW announced that it will launch the BMW 330e plug-in hybrid in 2016. The BMW 330e will be powered by a plug-in hybrid drive system with a combined output of around 250 hp (186 kW) and 310 lb-ft (420 N·m) (preliminary).

The BMW 330e will accelerate from 0–60 mph in approximately 6.1 seconds (preliminary) and have a top speed of 140 mph (225 km/h) (preliminary). The new BMW 330e is also capable of traveling up to 22 miles (35 km) in all-electric mode.

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OEMs shifting towards onboard chargers > 6 kW for EVs; lower output chargers to remain dominant through 2020

May 05, 2015

Most battery and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) manufacturers in Europe and the US have been adopting onboard chargers with a power output between 3 to 3.7 kilowatts (kW). Now, EV manufacturers are moving towards onboard chargers with a power output greater than 6.6 kW to reduce charging time.

While high-end PHEVs are contributing to this trend, lower-end models in this segment are still using 3.7 kW onboard chargers. Consequently, onboard chargers with power ratings between 3 to 3.7 kW are expected to remain dominant, accounting for 62% of sales even in 2020, according to new analysis from Frost & Sullivan.

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Volkswagen Group to offer more than 20 electric vehicle models in China “in near future”

The Volkswagen Group plans to offer more than 20 electric vehicle models—from small cars to large sedans and SUVs, plug-in hybrids and battery-electric vehicles—to Chinese customers “in the near future,” according to Prof. Dr. Jochem Heizmann, Member of the Group Board of Management with responsibility for China, in a special essay published in the Environment section of the company’s newly released sustainability report.

The Chinese government has set guidelines to reduce CO2 emissions in China to a fleet fuel consumption of 5 l/100 km (47 mpg US) as measured on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) by 2020. The expected fleet average this year is 6.9 l/100 km (34 mpg US). Thus, the government is requiring an overall reduction of about 28%, or 6.2% per year, between 2015 and 2020. Meeting this target will be even more challenging than meeting the 95 g/km target for 2020 set by the European Union, writes Dr. Heizmann, explaining:

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Wrightspeed unveils new turbine range extender for medium- and heavy-duty electric powertrains; 30% more efficient than current microturbine generators

May 04, 2015

Wrightspeed Inc., a developer of range-extended electric vehicle powertrains for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (earlier post), has unveiled the Fulcrum, a new proprietary turbine generator for use in its Route family of electric powertrains (Route for Class 3-6, Route HD for Class 7-8). The new 80 kW Fulcrum is a radial inflow, axial turbine, intercooled and recuperated. Fulcrum is a single shaft machine, the generator runs at turbine speed (~100,000 rpm). Weighing in at 250 lbs (113.4 kg), the Fulcrum is approximately 1/10th the weight of its piston generator counterparts and it is designed to have a 10,000-hour lifetime.

The Route extended range electric powertrains incorporate a range-extending genset designed to recharge the high-power battery pack (currently from A123 Systems) and Wrightspeed’s own geared traction drive (GTD) (earlier post). Wrightspeed, founded by Ian Wright, one of the original co-founders of Tesla Motors, has used a 65 kW Capstone microturbine in earlier Route powertrains. The 65 kW Capstone unit weighs 300 lbs (136.1 kg), for a power-to-weight ratio of 478 W/kg; by comparison, Wrightspeed’s new Fulcrum microturbine offers a power-to-weight ratio of 750 W/kg. With Fulcrum, on which the company has been working for about 3 years, Wrightspeed now owns 100% of the Intellectual Property of its powertrain products.

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GM provides technical details of the Gen 2 Voltec propulsion system used in the 2016 Volt

April 23, 2015

The second-generation “Voltec” extended range electric powertrain applied in the MY2016 Chevy Volt (earlier post) marks a significant evolution in the electric drive technology platform from its first-generation origins. After proving a initial look at the design and capability of the different components (earlier post) late last year, GM is now providing deeper technical insight into the second-generation platform.

At the SAE 2015 World Congress in Detroit this week, GM engineers are presenting four papers on the technology of the Gen 2 Voltec propulsion system: an overview of the system and the realized improvements in efficiency and performance; a paper on the significantly re-engineered traction power inverter module (TPIM); a paper on the design and performance of the new electric motors used in the propulsion system; and a paper on the selection and design of the optimized gasoline-fueled 1.5-liter range extender engine.

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Emissions testing shows Lighting Hybrids hydraulic hybrid drive delivers significant reduction in NOx, up to 18% improved fuel consumption

April 21, 2015

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The LH gasoline hydraulic hybrid shows an extreme reduction in NOx compared to a diesel baseline. Source: Lightning Hybrids. Click to enlarge.

Lightning Hybrids (LH), a provider of hydraulic hybrid drive systems for fleet vehicles such as shuttle buses, delivery vehicles and work trucks (earlier post), has released some results from its ongoing emissions testing with SGS Environmental Testing Corporation. Broadly, the test results show significant reductions in NOx, particularly against a non-hybrid diesel baseline, and fuel economy improvements of up to 18% for the vehicle and under the drive cycles tested.

By design, LH noted, a hybrid drive system provides benefits during a vehicle’s braking and subsequent acceleration phases, so not all drive cycles will take equal advantage of the system. For example, an urban delivery truck which stops many times per mile will benefit strongly, whereas a truck that spends most of its time on the highway would not be a good candidate for any form of hybridization.

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Volkswagen introduces high-end plug-in hybrid C Coupé GTE concept in Shanghai

April 20, 2015

At Auto Shanghai, Volkswagen is presenting the world premiere of the C Coupé GTE, which illustrates a new design approach for future top-end sedans at Volkswagen. This four-door concept car for the Chinese market—which is more than five meters in length—is powered by a plug-in hybrid drive system, the drive sources of which combine to produce 500 N·m of system torque.

The front-wheel drive C Coupé GTE can be powered all-electrically up to a speed of 130 km/h (81 mph); this mode enables driving with zero local emissions and a range of 50 kilometers (31 miles). The car’s combined fuel consumption (NEDC for plug-in hybrid vehicles) is 2.3 liters per 100 kilometers. This figure equates to CO2 emissions of 55 grams per kilometer. The car’s total driving range is over 800 kilometers.

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Cadillac announces CT6 plug-in hybrid for China

April 19, 2015

Cadillac will add a Plug-In Hybrid Electric (PHEV) propulsion system to its upcoming range-topping CT6 sedan, to be manufactured at the new Shanghai GM Cadillac plant, Pudong Jinqiao, China. The new PHEV version of the CT6 will be capable of greater than 60 km (32.4 miles) of all-electric range, and pairs with Cadillac’s 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder gas engine to offer estimated fuel efficiency of approximately 2.0L per 100 km (141 mpg US) based on China testing standards. CT6 PHEV will qualify for China new energy vehicle regulations and incentives, and is planned to be onsale in 2016. The CT6 PHEV may come subsequently to the US, according to Cadillac spokesman Dave Caldwell as quoted in the Detroit News.

The CT6 Plug-In Hybrid system is designed to provide all-electric driving for most daily commutes, while maximizing fuel efficiency by providing blended power from the engine and battery at higher speeds and higher loads, even when there is energy stored in the battery. (By comparison, in the GM taxonomy the Cadillac ELR and its cousin the Chevy Volt are extended-range electric vehicles with all-electric drive, augmented by a range-assisting engine. ELR is not offered in the Chinese market.)

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Peugeot unveils 308 R HYbrid plug-in with 500 hp and four-wheel drive

April 17, 2015

Peugeot has unveiled the Peugeot 308 R HYbrid, a plug-in hybrid version of the compact family hatchback boasting a combined 500 bhp and four-wheel drive. The Peugeot 308 R HYbrid was developed by Peugeot Sport, the brand’s in-house engineering and racing division. The car’s plug-in gasoline hybrid powertrain delivers 0-62 mph (100 km/h) in 4.0 seconds, yet with CO2 emissions of 70g/km.

The powertrain combines three sources of power, each capable of moving the vehicle independently of the others: a four-cylinder 1.6-liter THP 270 S&S gasoline engine, plus two 85 kW electric motors mounted one on each axle. The front one is linked to the six-speed gearbox.

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Audi unveiling two new production plug-in hybrids in Shanghai, new prologue allroad PHEV show car

April 16, 2015

Audi is introducing two new models with plug-in hybrid drive systems to the market in China in 2016, both of which are having their world premier at Auto Shanghai 2015: the Audi Q7 e-tron 2.0 TFSI quattro and the Audi A6 L e tron. In addition, Audi is unveiling the Audi prologue allroad show car, providing a glimpse into the future of Audi’s design language, at the show.

Audi Q7 e-tron 2.0 TFSI quattro. With the Audi Q7 e-tron 2.0 TFSI quattro, the company is combining a TFSI plug‑in hybrid with quattro drive for the first time. (The earlier announced Q7 e-tron quattro plug-in hybrid features a 6-cylinder, 3.0-liter TDI diesel. Earlier post.) Audi has developed this newest Q7 model especially for the Asian markets China, Singapore and Japan. The Q7 e-tron 2.0 TFSI quattro accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in less than six seconds and consumes 2.5 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers (94 mpg US), according to the measuring method prescribed in China for plug‑in hybrid vehicles.

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Cadillac boosts performance of ELR plug-in hybrid for MY2016, cuts MSRP by $9K; $58,495 net after Fed credits

April 15, 2015

Cadillac has greatly enhanced the performance of its ELR extended range electric vehicle (plug-in hybrid) (earlier post) for the 2016 model year, and is also cutting the MSRP by $9,005, bringing the starting price down to $58,495 net after the $7,500 US federal tax credit (MSRP = $65,995). MSRP for MY2014 was $75,000, with a net price of $67,500 after the Federal credit. (Cadillac sold 1,310 units of the ELR in the US in calendar year 2014, and sold 311 units in the first quarter of 2015.)

Major product upgrades include a more than 25% boost in power and torque; faster acceleration that improves 0-60 mph by 1.5 seconds; higher top speed; retuned chassis and steering for better handling; more responsive brakes and a new Performance equipment package.

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Volvo Cars introducing production S60L T6 Twin Engine PHEV at the Shanghai Motor Show; on sale next week

Volvo Cars will introduce the production version of the S60L T6 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid sedan at the 2015 Shanghai Motor Show; the plug-in sedan first made its appearance as a concept car at the Beijing auto show in 2014. (Earlier post.) Sales of the S60L T6 Twin Engine begin next week in China.

The new S60L Twin Engine is manufactured in Volvo Cars’ Chengdu Plant. The car is powered by a Drive-E four-cylinder 2–liter gasoline engine, linked to rear-axle drive 50 kW electric motor, powered by an energy-optimized 11.2 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. This combination delivers 306 hp (238 + 68 hp) and 350 + 200 N·m with emissions of 49 g/km (NEDC, mixed driving cycle for certification). The S60L T6 Twin Engine also delivers a full 53 km (33 km) of all-electric range.

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Efficient Drivetrains develops PHEV SUV for Asian market

April 13, 2015

Efficient Drivetrains, Inc. (EDI), a developer of plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) and continuously variable transmission (CVT) technologies spanning light- to heavy-duty classes (earlier post), has developed a new energy plug-in hybrid electric SUV for the Asian marketplace. Based on EDI’s proprietary drivetrain technology, the SUV offers the highest performance for a PHEV in its class, the company said.

The vehicle is a full-size Chinese SUV with a 2.4-liter engine that has been converted into a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). The vehicle offers an affordable price point for a PHEV in its class with full electric capability for more than 50 km (31 miles), making it eligible for government incentives.

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Citroën introducing new plug-in hybrid SUV concept at Shanghai Motor Show

April 08, 2015

Citroën will introduce a new plug-in hybrid SUV concept, the Aircross, at the upcoming Shanghai Motor Show. The company said that Aircross illustrates its international ambitions, rolling out its positioning initiated with the C4 Cactus with a body style intended for sale around the world.

Citroën Aircross is powered by a gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid system. An electric motor on the rear axle develops power of 95 bhp (70 kW) and torque of 200 N·m (148 lb-ft). The motor is powered by lithium-ion batteries that charge up in just three and a half hours via a 16A domestic socket. The electric motor is combined with a 1.6 THP gasoline engine developing 218 bhp (160 kW) and torque of 275 N·m (203 lb-ft).

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Nissan launches new X-Trail Hybrid in Japan

April 07, 2015

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. launched the new Nissan X-Trail Hybrid, which goes on sale on 13 May 2015 at Nissan dealers throughout Japan. Equipped with an optimized 2.0-liter MR20DD engine and Nissan’s one-motor-two-clutch hybrid system (earlier post), the new X-Trail Hybrid delivers performance eclipsing those of typical 2.5-liter gasoline engines, Nissan said. All the grades will achieve fuel economy-based tax exemptions in Japan.

In addition, the new X-Trail Hybrid will have Forward Emergency Braking as standard equipment, expanding its safety technology features. Nissan is planning to introduce Forward Emergency Braking as standard on major models in Japan, by the end of autumn 2015.

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Toyota unveils 2016 RAV4 Hybrid; 8th hybrid in Toyota line-up

April 02, 2015

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The RAV4 Hybrid makes its debut in New York. Click to enlarge.

Toyota unveiled the new RAV4 Hybrid at the New York International Auto Show, along with refreshed versions of the conventional RAV4. The eighth hybrid in the Toyota lineup, the RAV4 Hybrid offers more power as well as better fuel economy than the conventional RAV4, according to Toyota Group Vice President and General Manager Bill Fay. (Toyota has yet to release specific performance and fuel economy numbers.)

The hybrid system consists of a 4-cylinder, 2.5-liter gasoline engine and eCVT transmission along with an All-Wheel-Drive System with Intelligence (AWDi) featuring a rear motor that operates independently from the front motor. This additional electric motor delivers instant torque to the rear wheels only when additional traction is needed, thereby automatically helping prevent wheel spin.

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U Toronto LCA suggests that with CNG as primary vehicle energy source, EVs best targeted at non-attainment areas

April 01, 2015

A team at the University of Toronto has examined the life cycle air emissions (climate change and human health) impact benefits and life cycle ownership costs of compressed natural gas (CNG) use directly in conventional vehicles (CV) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEV), and natural gas-derived electricity (NG-e) use in plug-in battery electric vehicles (BEV), using a gasoline-fueled conventional vehicle as a reference.

Among their findings, published in a paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, are that policies should for the foreseeable future focus on the niche adoption of plug-in vehicles in non-attainment regions, as CNG vehicles are likely more cost-effective at providing overall life cycle air emissions impact benefits.

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Lexus unveils 2016 RX at New York show; RX 350 and RX 450h hybrid

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2016 RX 450h. Click to enlarge.

Lexus unveiled the new fourth-generation Lexus RX at the 2015 New York Auto Show. The RX is the best-selling model in the brand’s 26-year history, with global sales of more than 2.1 million units—three out of ten vehicles ever sold by Lexus. Since 2005, the RX has maintained about 25% of the sales of the mid-size luxury crossover market, said Jeff Bracken, Group Vice President and General Manager, Lexus Division. The new RX lineup—the RX 350 and the RX450h hybrid—feature safety technologies that include the Lexus Safety System+ (earlier post).

Under the RX 350’s hood is an upgraded and more powerful 3.5-liter V6 aiming to deliver 300 hp (224 kW) with direct injection, mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission. Based on this enhanced powertrain is the RX 450h’s Atkinson-cycle 3.5-liter V6. When combined with the electric motor generator, the combined output also results in around 300 hp. All RX engines have been tuned in anticipation of high fuel economy ratings and low carbon emissions.

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New Fairchild automotive SuperFET II MOSFETs and HV Rectifiers for power electronics in electrified vehicles

Fairchild, a leading global supplier of high-performance power semiconductor solutions, has introduced the automotive-qualified SuperFET II MOSFET and High Voltage Rectifier product families, both of which enable cleaner and smarter vehicles overall and are suited for increasing the power ratings of onboard chargers and DC-to-DC converters used in hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles.

“A chief goal for plug-in hybrid and electric vehicle manufacturers is keeping on-board battery chargers and DC-DC converters as light and small as possible while increasing power levels. With the broad portfolio of new SuperFET II MOSFETs and High Voltage Rectifiers, Fairchild is enabling manufacturers to maximize efficiency, power density and reliability of these units, which is key to reducing their size and weight and is of course in line with the environmental, economic and energy benefits inherent in electric vehicle development,” said Fabio Necco, Director, Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Segment at Fairchild.

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Chevrolet introduces 2016 Malibu; full hybrid option; 8-speed auto

Chevrolet introduced the all-new 2016 Malibu—the ninth generation of the midsize sedan which made its debut in 1964. The completely restyled midsize sedan is engineered to offer more efficiency, connectivity and advanced safety features, and features the option of a new full-hybrid powertrain, which leverages technology from the Chevrolet Volt. (Earlier post.) The Malibu Hybrid will offer an estimated combined fuel economy rating exceeding 45 mpg (5.22 l/100 km). When equipped with the standard 1.5L turbo engine option, Malibu is projected to offer 37 mpg (6.35 l/100 km) highway.

The 2016 Malibu is also longer and lighter, with more interior space and improved fuel efficiency. Its wheelbase has been stretched close to four inches (101 mm), and it is nearly 300 pounds (136 kg) lighter than the current model.

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Millbrook joins APC-funded consortium to develop fuel cell range-extended electric LCVs

March 30, 2015

Millbrook, one of Europe’s leading independent test and technology centers for vehicles and vehicle systems, will join a UK industry consortium to develop a new class of light commercial vehicle (LCV) combining fuel cell technology with battery electric vehicles to provide significantly improved range and rapid refueling. The consortium, led by Intelligent Energy (earlier post), will receive a £6.3-million ($9.3-million) grant from the UK’s Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) for the £12.7-million ($19-million) project. The other partners are Frost Electronics, Frost EV, CENEX, British Gas and DHL.

The three-year project will develop validated systems and vehicle conversion expertise ready for volume manufacture. The goal is also to provide fleet operators with a solution that enables vehicle operation for extended periods while being emissions-free at the tailpipe.

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Toyota progress report on TNGA; half of vehicles sold in 2020 to feature new platforms

March 27, 2015

In 2012, Toyota Motor introduced its new development framework, the Toyota New Global Architecture. (Earlier post.) Designed to balance product advances with cost reductions, TNGA supports the grouping of the development of new vehicles to promote strategic sharing of parts and powertrain components. One goal is the reduction of resources required for development by 20% or more.

Toyota recently provided an update and an outlook on its progress with TNGA, focusing on new vehicle development (powertrain components and vehicle platforms) as well as production systems.

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Porsche presents more efficient Gen 2 919 Hybrid LMP1 racer for 2015

Porsche has presented the second generation of its Le Mans Prototype 919 Hybrid race car. (Earlier post.) The new racer will compete in the 8 MJ category (8 MJ of recovered energy per race lap)—the highest of the current four energy categories in the LMP1 class. (The amount of liquid fuel that may be used in a lap decreases in proportion to the amount of electrical energy a driver is able to employ.)

Although the basic concept of the Class 1 Le Mans Prototype (LMP1)— a downsized turbocharged direct injection gasoline engine and two different energy recovery systems—was retained in the second generation, virtually every component was refined. System power now totals nearly 1,000 hp (746 kW). The goals for the next evolutionary stage were to make the vehicle more efficient, more rigid, easier to handle, lighter and yet more robust.

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Mercedes-Benz introduces its first plug-in hybrid SUV: the GLE550 e

March 26, 2015

Keeping pace with its announced intention to roll out 10 plug-in hybrids by 2017 (earlier post), Mercedes-Benz introduced the new GLE550 e 4MATIC plug-in hybrid (PHEV) along with the other members of the new GLE family of full-size SUVs. The GLE550 e is Mercedes-Benz’ first plug-in hybrid SUV. The high-performance SUV models, the Mercedes-AMG GLE63 4MATIC and the GLE63 S 4MATIC, will also celebrate their world premieres at the same time at the New York International Auto Show.

With full system output of 436 hp (325 kW), the GLE550 e 4MATIC delivers European cycle CO2 emissions of just 78 g/km (3.3 l/100 km, 71 mpg US). (EPA estimated fuel consumption for the US is still TBD.) With a power consumption of 16.7 kWh/100 km, the PHEV model is capable of up to 30 km (18.6 mi) of all-electric driving.

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GM to introduce strong hybrid version of Malibu; combined fuel economy above 45 mpg; leverages Volt

March 25, 2015

GM will introduce a strong hybrid version of the next-generation Malibu. Using technology from the 2016 Chevrolet Volt propulsion system (earlier post), Malibu Hybrid will offer an estimated combined fuel economy rating exceeding 45 mpg (5.22 l/100 km), higher than the combined cycle mileage ratings of the Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry and Hyundai Sonata hybrid variants and a significant boost over the 29 mpg combined of the MY 2015 Malibu with 2.5L engine with start/stop.

An all-new direct-injection 1.8L 4-cylinder engine mated to a two-motor drive unit slightly modified from the 2016 Chevrolet Volt drive unit powers the Malibu Hybrid. The drive unit provides additional power to assist the engine during acceleration, for 182 horsepower (136 kW) of total system power.

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New UK Energy & Fuels 2050 transportation roadmap highlights important role of drop-in fuels and power-to-gas

March 23, 2015

Professor Neville Jackson, Ricardo’s chief technology and innovation officer, presented the results of a research project carried out by the Automotive Council UK to establish a long-term (to 2050) transition from current gasoline and diesel fuels to a majority renewable energy portfolio. Inputs to the new Energy & Fuels Roadmap included recent UK & EU studies on automotive technologies, as well as roadmaps for passenger cars, commercial vehicles and internal combustion engines previously published by the Automotive Cuncil.

The research, presented at last week’s Open Forum organized by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) in London, aimed to create a high level consensus view for the future of transport energy in the UK. Chaired by Professor Jackson of Ricardo, the research team that produced the report was made up of representatives drawn from a wide range of industry stakeholder organizations including BP, Shell, Jaguar LandRover, Caterpillar, the Energy Technologies Institute, the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, E4tech, Element Energy and Associated British Foods.

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Audi revamps 2015 R18 e-tron quattro Le Mans diesel hybrid racer; 4MJ class

In the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and in the Le Mans 24 Hours as the season’s pinnacle event, Audi will compete with a thoroughly revised R18 e-tron quattro diesel hybrid racer in the 4-megajoule class. (Earlier post.) A two-fold quantity of hybrid energy, fundamentally revised aerodynamics, the next step in lightweight design and detailed optimization work characterize the fifth generation of the Audi R18.

Audi, the only manufacturer to date to have won the Le Mans 24 Hours with hybrid racers, has doubled the amount of energy recovered per race lap from 2 to 4 megajoules (MJ). During braking, energy is recovered which the system subsequently feeds back to the front axle on acceleration. The electrical machine that performs this task now delivers an output of more than 200 kW (272 hp)—a significant increase compared to last year. Therefore, Audi has increased the capacity of the energy storage system as well.

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Daimler putting ~€1B into Stuttgart-Untertürkheim to make it the center of competence for efficient engines, hybrid powertrains and fuel cell system production

March 21, 2015

Daimler is investing about €1 billion (US$1.07 billion) in the Mercedes-Benz plant in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim and is transforming it into a center of competence for highly efficient engines, hybrid powertrains and the production of fuel cell systems.

From 1 June, Untertürkheim will assume responsibility for a facility in Nabern in the greater Stuttgart area where assembly of the fuel cell system will take place. The Nabern facility will remain the center of competence for the overall development of fuel cell drive systems under the direction of Daimler AG.

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Obama orders GHG cuts for Federal Agencies; 50% of all new agency vehicles to be ZEV or PHEV by 2025

March 19, 2015

President Obama today signed a wide-ranging executive order mandating cuts in greenhouse gas emissions for Federal agencies. Through more efficient Federal operations, agency direct greenhouse gas emissions can be cut by at least 40% over the next decade, the order suggests. The order has operational directives for building and fleet management, electricity generation, water use, waste management and purchasing.

As an initial outcome, within 90 days the head of each agency sis to propose to the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) percentage reduction targets for agency-wide reductions of scope 1 and 2 and scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions in absolute terms by the end of fiscal year 2025 relative to a fiscal year 2008 baseline.

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Mercedes-Benz to introduce 10 plug-in hybrids by 2017; GLE PHEV coming soon

March 18, 2015

Mercedes-Benz is making a strategic push on plug-in hybrids: the Stuttgart-based automaker will introduce 10 new plug-in hybrid models by 2017. The company said that the main emphasis as regards alternative drives in years to come will be on plug-in hybrids.

The announcement follows the market introduction of the C 350 e (earlier post, earlier post), the company’s second plug-in hybrid model following the S 500 Plug-In Hybrid (earlier post). At the Geneva Motor Show, the company showcased the new MPV plug-in hybrid Concept V-ision e study. (Earlier post.) As the plug-in hybrid comes into its own especially in larger vehicles and with mixed distance profiles, Mercedes-Benz is opting for this drive concept from the C-Class upwards—the technology will make its entry soon into the SUV segment with the new Mercedes-Benz GLE.

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Mercedes-Benz C 350 e PHEV can reduce full lifecycle CO2 emissions up to 41% compared to gasoline-engined C 250

Compared to the gasoline-engined C 250, the Mercedes-Benz C 350 e plug-in hybrid (earlier post) can reduce full life-cycle (manufacture, use over 200,000 km and recycling) CO2 emissions by some 26% (9.6 tonnes) when charging with the European electricity mix and by up to 41% (15.1 tonnes) when charging with renewable power.

The analysis is outlined in the plug-in’s newly release “Life Cycle” brochure, the results of which have also been confirmed by TÜV Süd, a branch of the German Technical Inspection Agency. The new plug-in hybrid satisfies all criteria of an environmentally responsible product development pursuant to ISO standard TR 14062.

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BMW brand’s first production PHEV: the BMW X5 xDrive40e

March 16, 2015

The first plug-in hybrid production car from the BMW core brand is a Sports Activity Vehicle: the BMW X5 xDrive40e. With a total system output of 230 kW/313 hp generated by a four-cylinder gasoline engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology, a synchronous electric motor integrated in the 8-speed Steptronic transmission, and a 9.0 kWh, 96-cell high-voltage Li-ion battery pack, the BMW X5 xDrive40e achieves a combined fuel consumption of 3.4 – 3.3 liters per 100 kilometers (69 - 71 mpg US) and a combined electricity consumption of 15.4 – 15.3 kWh over the same distance.

CO2 emissions come in at 78 – 77 grams per kilometer (figures according to EU test cycle for plug-in hybrid vehicles, may vary depending on the tire format specified).

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Audi to have a plug-in hybrid in every model series; new BEV in 2018

March 11, 2015

Audi will have a plug-in hybrid in every model series in the coming years as part of its efforts in efficiency and sustainability, said Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management at Audi AG for Technical Development, during his speech at Audi’s Annual Press Conference in Ingolstadt.

Plug-in hybrids, natural gas vehicles and battery-electric drive systems will have a key role to play in achieving CO2 targets, Hackenberg said. Audi already launched the A3 e-tron plug-in hybrid (earlier post) and the Audi A3 g-tron (earlier post) on the market in 2014. Both of these already have siblings: the Audi Q7 e-tron plug-in hybrid (earlier post) and a future Audi A4 g-tron based on the second generation of the modular longitudinal platform (MLB 2).

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Hyundai showcasing new Tucson 48V Hybrid Concept and diesel Plug-in-Hybrid Concept at Geneva

March 08, 2015

Hyundai Motor is showcasing a range of innovative fuel efficiency and connectivity technologies at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, among them a 48V Hybrid concept and a plug-in hybrid vehicle concept, both based on the all new Tucson platform.

The 48V Hybrid combines a 2.0-liter diesel model with 134 hp (100 kW) and a six-speed manual transmission along with a 14 hp (10 kW) electric motor; combined system performance is 148 hp (110 kW) and 413 N·m (305 lb-ft) of torque. This boosts system power by 10% while emitting only 109 g/km CO2. Compared to a full hybrid system, the 48V system delivers similar efficiency, for only a quarter of the cost.

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Lightning Hybrids secures order for 35 hydraulic hybrid systems from Kiessling Transit

March 05, 2015

Lightning Hybrids, developer and manufacturer of hydraulic hybrid systems for medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses (earlier post), announced an agreement with Kiessling Transit to supply 35 hydraulic hybrid systems. The sale marks Lightning Hybrids’ largest order to date. The company’s system demonstrated improvements of 30% in fuel efficiency and significantly reduced NOx emissions during a year-long pilot program with the leading Massachusetts-based transportation company.

Kiessling Transit’s vehicles, featuring new 2015 and 2016 model year Ford E450 chassis and Elkhart Coach bodies, will have the Lightning Hybrids patented parallel hybrid system installed prior to delivery this summer. The technology, which has no electric batteries, applies a hydraulic system to the driveline of a vehicle to regenerate braking energy. Hydraulic pumps and a lightweight accumulator store braking energy and use the stored energy to power the wheels. The application of this technology will result in improved emissions, less fuel use, longer brake life, better low-end torque, and lower maintenance and operational costs.

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Toyota introduces facelifted Auris; revamped powertrains including new Otto/Atkinson 1.2L gasoline engine

March 04, 2015

At the Geneva Motor Show, Toyota introduced the facelifted Auris. With the launch of the Auris Hybrid in 2010, Toyota became the first manufacturer to offer a choice of three powertrains (gasoline, gasoline-electric hybrid, and diesel) in the C-segment.

Reflecting both changes in the highly-competitive C-segment market and Toyota customer feedback, the 2015 Auris range features significant improvements in five key areas: Design; Sensory Quality; the Hybrid model; Safety; and, improving the model’s segment coverage by some 40%, Powertrains. As part of the change, an all-new, 1.2 liter direct injection turbocharged engine from Toyota’s new family of efficient engines announced last year (earlier post) joins the existing gasoline line-up.

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DOE to award up to $35M to advance fuel cell and hydrogen technologies; fuel cell range extenders

March 03, 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced (DOE-FOA-0001224) up to $35 million in available funding to advance fuel cell and hydrogen technologies, and to enable early adoption of fuel cell applications, such as light duty fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). (Earlier post.)

As FCEVs become increasingly commercially available, the Energy Department is focused on reducing the costs and increasing technical advancements of critical hydrogen infrastructure including production, delivery, and storage. This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) covers a broad spectrum of the Fuel Cell Technology Office (FCTO) portfolio with areas of interest ranging from research and development (R&D) to demonstration and deployment projects.

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Mercedes-Benz unveils V-Class concept plug-in hybrid MPV at Geneva; 78 mpg US

At the Geneva International Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the Concept V‑ision e: a plug-in hybrid concept version of its V-Class MPV (earlier post). The plug-in hybrid van utilizes the same advanced drive system as in the new Mercedes-Benz C 350 e plug-in hybrid (earlier post) and offers NEDC fuel consumption of 3.0 liters per 100 km (78 mpg US), corresponding to CO2 emissions of 71 g/km. The MPV concept can travel up to 50 km in the all-electric mode if driven at a maximum speed of 80 km/h (50 mph).

The four-cylinder gasoline engine has an output of 155 kW (210 hp) and develops a maximum torque of 350 N·m (258 lb-ft), while the electric motor delivers 90 kW and 340 N·m (250 lb-ft) of torque. This results in a system output of 245 kW (333 hp) and a system torque of up to 600 N·m (443 lb-ft).

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Volkswagen introduces the Sport Coupé Concept GTE PHEV at Geneva; 118 mpg US

Volkswagen is unveiling the Sport Coupé Concept GTE plug-in hybrid at the 2015 Geneva International Motor Show, ushering in a new and progressive Volkswagen brand design language. “Evolution and revolution come together in the Sport Coupé Concept GTE. This concept is based on Volkswagen design DNA, which has been visibly sharpened even more. It shows how the highest-volume brand of our Group is shaping the immediate future,” said Walter de Silva, Head of Design of Volkswagen AG.

The GTE designation indicates a plug-in hybrid drive system (earlier post). Equipped with a V6 TSI engine, two electric motors and externally chargeable 10.7 kWh battery pack, the 279 kW / 374 hp Sport Coupé Concept GTE plug-in hybrid delivers the long-distance properties of a Gran Tourismo while enabling zero-emission driving. The concept car, with a top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph), has an average combined fuel consumption (NEDC combined) of 2.0 l/100 km (118 mpg US), or 46 g CO2/km.

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Audi introduces Q7 e-tron quattro diesel PHEV SUV at Geneva; 138 mpg US

March 02, 2015

Audi introduced the Q7 e-tron quattro plug-in hybrid (earlier post) at the Geneva show. The Q7 e‑tron quattro is Audi’s second vehicle featuring a plug‑in hybrid drive system, and the first diesel plug-in hybrid with quattro drive in its segment.

Powered by the 17.3 kWh, liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack, the large SUV covers up to 56 kilometers (34.8 mi) on electric power alone. Together with the diesel engine, the car can cover a total distance of 1,410 kilometers (876.1 miles). According to the ECE standard for plug‑in hybrid vehicles, the Audi Q7 e‑tron quattro needs only 1.7 liters of diesel fuel per 100 kilometers (138.4 US mpg) and has a CO2 emission level of less than 50 grams per kilometer (80.5 g/mi).

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Volvo Cars unveils new V60 D5 Twin Engine Special Edition diesel PHEV in Geneva

Volvo Cars has unveiled a D5 Twin Engine Special Edition of its V60 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid, which went on sale in 2012. (Earlier post.) The V60 D5 Twin Engine will deliver 120 kW (161 hp) via the combustion engine and about 50 kW (67 hp) from its 11.2 kWh Lithium-ion battery pack using the same proven configuration used in the V60 D6 Twin Engine.

This translates to a maximum driveline power output of approximately 230 hp when the electric motor and diesel engine are working simultaneously. The V60 D5 Twin Engine offers 50 km of all-electric range, and fuel consumption of 1.8 l/100 km (131 mpg US).

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TM4 receiving $3.7M to develop low-cost wheel motors

February 28, 2015

TM4, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hydro-Québec, is receiving $3.7 million in funding from Sustainable Development Technology Canada’s (SDTC) SD Tech Fund, through the ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative, to develop low-cost wheel motors for electric and hybrid vehicles.

The objective of this project is to design an in-wheel motor electric drive system with one of the highest power densities in the world, and at the lowest possible cost. This system will consist of one or more power converters and electric machines, to be assembled and bench tested, and then tested on the road in an electric vehicle.

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Magna unveiling lightweight plug-in hybrid sportscar at Geneva show

February 27, 2015

Global automotive supplier Magna International Inc. will debut MILA Plus, an two-seat plug-in hybrid sports car, at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show. The lightweight (1,520 kg, 3,351 lb) concept vehicle, the latest member of the MILA family of concept vehicles (earlier post), offers an all-electric range of 75 km with reduced CO2 emissions of 32g/km.

System power output is 200 kW (272 hp), with 580 N·m of peak torque. The MILA Plus accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 4.9s; electric acceleration from 0-80 km/h takes 3.6s. The performance of the three-cylinder gasoline engine is enhanced by the addition of two electric motors—one between the internal combustion engine and transmission to drive the rear axle, and one on the electric front axle. This arrangement results in an electric all-wheel-drive system which transmits more torque to the road and results in improvement of vehicle maneuverability and dynamics.

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Mitsubishi Motors to unveil new small crossover PHEV concept at Geneva; headed for production

February 25, 2015

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) will stage the global debut of the Mitsubishi Concept XR-PHEV II at the 85th Geneva International Motor Show. The Concept XR-PHEV II is a small crossover powered by a new plug-in hybrid EV (PHEV) system. Mitsubishi said it expects the Concept XR-PHEV II to become MMC’s second production PHEV following the Outlander PHEV launched in January 2013. (Earlier post.) (The Outlander PHEV was Europe’s top-selling plug-in vehicle in 2014, with 19,980 units sold.)

The new PHEV system presented in the Concept XR-PHEV II is a lightweight, compact and high-efficiency front-engine/front-drive system suited for an urban crossover. The system is estimated to achieve very low CO2 emissions of below 40 g/km, while also delivering performance and response with its 120 kW electric motor.

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Audi introducing Audi prologue Avant diesel plug-in hybrid show car at Geneva; 147 mpg, wireless charging

At the Los Angeles Auto Show, Audi presented the Audi prologue concept car, featuring a mild hybrid powertrain with a 48V electrical subsystem. (Earlier post.) At the upcoming Geneva show, Audi will show a new variant of the prologue—the Audi prologue Avant—featuring a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Both prologue variants provide a view into coming Audi design language, as well as the technology experience inside and outside.

The Audi prologue Avant uses technology which is close to series production. It is equipped with the plug‑in diesel hybrid drive from the Audi Q7 e‑tron quattro (earlier post)—which achieves even higher performance in the show car.

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French Post Office and Renault Trucks testing electric truck with fuel cell range extender

February 24, 2015

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Maxity Electric with fuel cell range extender. Click to enlarge.

Renault Trucks and the French Post Office (La Poste) will introduce on an experimental basis, and as a first in Europe, an electric truck equipped with a hydrogen-powered range extender. The range-extended 4.5-ton Maxity Electric model doubles th electric truck range to 200 kilometers (124 miles) and will be tested for one year under actual operating conditions in the city Dole (Jura Department), allowing Renault Trucks to explore all potential avenues of hydrogen technology under actual operating conditions.

For La Poste, which at present owns the world's largest fleet of electric vehicles, this experiment is part of a continuous effort underway to extend the range of its fleet. For nearly a year, in the Franche-Comté Region, the Post Office has been testing, during carriers’ collection and distribution of mail and packages, Renault Kangoo Z.E. mail delivery vehicles with fuel cell range extenders. (Earlier post.)

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Making the Mirai fuel cell vehicle

In Japan, Toyota Motor held a production ceremony at the Motomachi Plant, which first began production in 1959, to mark the production of the Mirai fuel cell vehicle, which the company launched in November 2014, and began selling in Japan in December 2014. (Earlier post.)

Motomachi has been home to some of Toyota’s most notable models, including the Publica, Corona, Cresta, Soarer, Supra, RAV4, and the Lexus LFA supercar. The former “LFA Works”—where craftspeople hand-built each of the 500 series limited Lexus supercars—is now the home of the Mirai. Toyota released a set of 5 short videos giving an overview of Mirai production, which delivers an estimated 3 units per day.

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CMU, Ford, Drexel study suggests Chinese more receptive to adopting BEVs than Americans, regardless of subsidies

February 23, 2015

Results from a study by a team from Carnegie Mellon University, Ford and Drexel University suggest that Chinese consumers are more receptive to adopting battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) than their American counterparts, regardless of subsidies. The study is published in the journal Transportation Research Part A.

The team modeled consumer preferences and willingness to pay (WTP) for conventional, hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV), and battery electric (BEV) vehicle technologies in China and the US using data from choice-based conjoint surveys fielded in 2012–2013 in both countries. They found that find that gasoline vehicles continue to be most attractive to consumers both countries, and that American respondents have significantly lower relative willingness-to-pay for BEV technology than Chinese respondents. Although plug-in subsidies in the US and Chinese subsidies both favor vehicles with larger battery packs, differences in consumer preferences lead to different outcomes, they found.

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Lightning Hybrids introducing hydraulic hybrid system on walk-in box truck

February 16, 2015

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Morgan Olson walk-in van with Lightning Hybrids hydraulic drive system installed for AmeriPride. Click to enlarge.

Lightning Hybrids, developer and manufacturer of hydraulic hybrid systems for medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses (earlier post), will introduce the application of its first emission-reducing brake regeneration technology on a walk-in box truck. The debut will take place during the South Shore Clean Cities annual meeting in Merrillville, Indiana, on 17 February.

Lightning Hybrids’ hydraulic hybrid system on the vehicle, featuring a Ford F59 chassis and Morgan Olson Route Star walk-in van body, enhances fuel efficiency while significantly reducing emissions.

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Mitsubishi introduces Concept GC-PHEV SUV to North America

February 13, 2015

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Concept GC-PHEV. Click to enlarge.

Mitsubishi staged the North American debut of its Concept GC-PHEV (“Grand Cruiser”)—a next-generation full-size crossover plug-in hybrid. (Earlier post.) The Concept GC-PHEV features a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 gasoline engine paired with a high-output electric motor; 12 kWh lithium-ion battery; 8-speed automatic transmission; and Mitsubishi Motors’ advanced full-time Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) all-wheel drive. The PHEV drivetrain offers high performance (335 bhp/250 kW) combined with excellent fuel economy.

For additional power optimization with reduced exhaust emissions, the 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 engine benefits from the latest iteration of Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control (MIVEC) variable valve timing.

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Porsche names GKN Driveline “Technology Partner” for eAxle system in 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid supercar

February 12, 2015

Porsche has awarded GKN Driveline “Technology Partner” status for its development of the high-performance eAxle for the 918 Spyder, an advanced plug-in hybrid supercar. (Earlier post.) GKN Driveline’s eAxle module—used for the 918 Spyder’s front axle—supports full-electric mode, all-wheel drive and provides a boost function.

The eAxle that supplements the 918 Spyder’s hybridized 4.6-liter V8 is an evolution of the company’s innovative eAxle drive. (Earlier post.) The module has maximum power of 95 kW and can deliver up to 1500 N·m (1,106 lb-ft) of torque to the front wheels via a fixed gear ratio. A specially developed compact differential engages the torque seamlessly, giving the 918 Spyder optimum power distribution at all times. The differential also disengages the module to minimize drag losses and maximize efficiency. At speeds above 265 km/h (164 mph), a clutch isolates the electric motor to prevent it from over-spinning.

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Kia unveils Soul-based e-AWD Trail’ster Concept; through-the-road hybrid

Kia Motors America (KMA) unveiled the Trail’ster e-AWD concept at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show. The Trail’ster, based on Kia’s Soul urban passenger vehicle, is primarily powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine delivering 185 horsepower (138 kW) and 185 lb-ft (251 N·m) of torque through a six-speed automatic transmission, matched to an electric all-wheel-drive system on the rear axle intended for low-speed assist, enhanced launch acceleration and improved traction in inclement weather or off-road situations. In addition, this approach helps mitigate turbo lag by providing instant torque.

The system also improves fuel economy over standard all-wheel-drive setups by operating only when needed and serving as an energy recovery mechanism. Further defining the near future perspective of Soul as a capable and efficient all-wheel-driver runner, the Trail’ster arrives as a “Through-the-Road” hybrid—i.e., the two power sources (front gasoline engine and rear electric motor) meet “through the road,” as opposed to inside the transmission with a common mechanical driveline connection.

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ALABC showcased three 48V hybrid demonstrators at AABC featuring advanced lead-carbon batteries

February 10, 2015

The Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium (ALABC) last month showcased three hybrid electric concept vehicles resulting from its R&D program that demonstrate the real-world potential of lead-carbon batteries in 48V architectures. The cars, two of which were produced in association with major OEMs (Ford and Hyundai/Kia), exhibit substantial environmental and fuel-efficient benefits through low-cost hybridization. The vehicles were part of the ALABC display at the Advanced Automotive Battery Conference (AABC Europe 2015) held at the Rheingoldhalle in Mainz, Germany.

All three vehicles feature advanced lead-carbon batteries, also known as carbon-enhanced lead-acid batteries. The batteries, Exide’s spiral-wound Orbital AGM and East Penn Manufacturing’s UltraBattery (the latest model of which was also on display at the ALABC stand), are some of the most effective lead-carbon designs for 48V hybrid electrification, ALABC said.

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