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Hybrids

[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.]

Volvo’s new Electric Hybrid (PHEV) buses with overhead fast charging enter scheduled service in Hamburg for first time; Innovation Route 109

December 19, 2014

New Volvo Bus 7900 Electric Hybrid (plug-in hybrid) buses (earlier post) began scheduled operation in Hamburg on 18 December, coinciding with the opening of the Innovation Route 109. The public transport company in Hamburg, the Hamburger Hochbahn AG, is using the route to run comparative tests of innovative drive technologies under the strict everyday conditions of scheduled services. The city of Hamburg intends to acquire only emission-free buses from 2020 on.

Alongside three Volvo 7900 Electric Hybrid buses, Volvo’s diesel hybrid buses in both 18 m articulated and 12 m versions will also be tested on the route, as well as battery fuel cell buses and fuel cell buses from other manufacturers.

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Scania to test wirelessly charged plug-in hybrid city bus for the first time in Sweden

December 17, 2014

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Starting June 2016 a prototype for a new Scania plug-in hybrid bus (based on Scania Citywide Low Entry) will go into daily operation in Södertälje. Click to enlarge.

Scania is undertaking intensive research into various types of electrification technologies that could replace or complement combustion engines. Inductive charging is among the options the company is exploring and would enable vehicles wirelessly to recharge their batteries via electrified roads.

Now, for the first time in Sweden, Scania and the Stockholm based Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) plan to test the wireless charging technology in real-life conditions. Starting June 2016, a prototype for a new Scania plug-in hybrid bus (based on Scania Citywide Low Entry) will go into daily operation in Södertälje as part of a research project into sustainable vehicle technology.

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Hyundai launches all-new Sonata Hybrid with GDI engine; plug-in hybrid variant coming next year

Hyundai Motor Company unveiled the all-new Sonata Hybrid in Seoul, Korea. The new Sonata Hybrid features an upgraded powertrain incorporating a new hybrid system with a new gasoline direct injection engine that delivers fuel economy of 18.2 km/l (43 mpg US or 5.5 l/100 km). A plug-in hybrid variant—to be Hyundai Motor’s first PHEV—will join the lineup next year. The company also plans to introduce its first dedicated Hybrid model in the second half next year.

The all-new Sonata Hybrid, the result of 27 months of development and an investment of approximately 180 billion Won (US$167 million), is scheduled to launch in major markets outside Korea starting in the first half of 2015. Hyundai Motor targets to sell a total of 55,000 units (Korea: 18,000 / Overseas: 37,000) next year.

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Renault & partners show research prototypes: 2-cyl. 2-stroke diesel, 48V mild-hybrid diesel, delivery EV

December 13, 2014

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POWERFUL two-cylinder, two-stroke diesel. Click to enlarge.

At its recent Innovations@Renault event, the France-based automaker presented three research prototypes developed in tandem with its partners as cooperative projects: a mild-hybrid diesel produced as part of the HYDIVU (Hybrid Diesel for LCVs); a two-cylinder, two-stroke diesel from the POWERFUL (POWERtrain for FUture Light-duty vehicles) project (earlier post); and an electric light commercial van developed as part of the du VELUD (Electric Vehicle for Sustainable Urban Logistics) project.

HYDIVU is a 48V mild-hybrid diesel solution to bring down consumption and emissions in LCVs. The objective of this project is to reduce the consumption of LCVs for business customers who travel long distances. Developed on the base of the Renault Master, this prototype is fitted with a powertrain that integrates an electric motor (mild hybridization), Twin-turbo technology and a downspeeding design. The combination of these three technologies results in a in a fuel consumption saving of up to 10% when used over long distances.

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Audi introducing 2nd-gen Q7 SUV at NAIAS; e-tron quattro diesel PHEV model; 2nd gen MLB

December 12, 2014

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The new Q7. Click to enlarge.

Audi will present the new second-generation Audi Q7 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January. In addition to other advances in drivetrain, chassis, lightweight construction, assistance systems and infotainment systems, the new Q7 will also offer an e-tron quattro version: the first plug-in hybrid with a six-cylinder diesel engine and quattro all-wheel drive. The new Audi Q7 also marks the debut of the second-generation modular longitudinal platform (MLB), the Audi technology matrix for models with longitudinally mounted engines, said Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Audi Board Member for Technical Development.

The Audi Q7 e-tron quattro all-wheel drive diesel plug-in hybrid will consume just 1.7 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers (138.4 mpg US), corresponding to less than 50 grams CO2 per kilometer (80.5 g/mi). The lithium-ion battery pack in the Q7 e-tron quattro stores 17.3 kWh of energy, enabling a range of up to 56 kilometers (34.8 mi) in all-electric mode.

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DOE issues FY 2015 SBIR/STTR Release 2 funding opportunity, including hydrogen fuel cells, electric drive batteries

December 09, 2014

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued its FY 2015 Phase I Release 2 Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0001227) for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs. Technical topics for this FOA—which span the range of DOE interests from fossil to nuclear to renewable and low-carbon energies—include two hydrogen- and fuel-cell-related topics: fuel cell-battery electric hybrid trucks and in-line quality control devices for polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells.

Also included are electric drive vehicle batteries, power electronics, on-board reformers, and advanced crank and ignition mechanisms for combustion engines.

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Volvo XC90 T8 plug-in hybrid 7-seater SUV delivers 59 MPGe; more powertrain details

December 08, 2014

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XC90 T8. Click to enlarge.

Volvo Cars’ new XC90 T8 plug-in 7-seater hybrid SUV delivers total system output of 400 hp (298 kW) and 640 N·m (472 lb-ft) of torque combined with ultra-low emissions (59 g/km) and high fuel efficiency (2.5 l/100km). The fuel economy according to the US driving cycle is 59 MPGe. Volvo earlier this year had suggested the fuel economy rating on the US drive cycle would be around 60 MPGe. (Earlier post.)

The XC90 T8 builds on Volvo’s new modular Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform and successful Drive-E gasoline powertrain. The XC90 T8 can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.9 seconds. The car has five different driving modes that deliver a range of performance and efficiency-enhancing characteristics. Using either a scroll wheel on the centre console or a touchscreen on the dashboard, drivers can choose from:

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Oerlikon Graziano showcasing hybrid and electric transmission systems at CTI; new 2-speed AMT

December 05, 2014

Transmission specialist Oerlikon Graziano is showcasing its range of hybrid and electric transmission systems, including the OGeco torque infill unit that integrates a 6-speed automated manual with a 120 kW electric motor through a 2-speed epicyclic transmission, as well as a new 2-speed automated manual drive system, at the the 2014 CTI Symposium and Transmission Expo in Berlin next week.

The OGeco unit provides torque infill, electric boost, regeneration, electric drive and engine cranking. A prototype unit has been installed in a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG by Oerlikon Graziano and its UK partner, Vocis. The packaging is so effective that the OGeco with integrated electric motor fits into the same space as the 7-speed DCT normally fitted to the car.

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Mercedes-Benz S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID can cut lifecycle CO2 by up to 56% compared to S 500

December 01, 2014

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Comparison of CO2 emissions for the S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID and the S 500 [t/car]. Source: TÜV SÜD. Click to enlarge.

The Mercedes-Benz S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID (earlier post) can cut CO2 emissions by some 43% when recharged using the European electricity mix and by up to 56% when using hydroelectricity compared to the conventional S 500 model on a full lifecycle basis, according to the environmental certificate awarded by TÜV SÜD.

TÜV SÜD awarded the life cycle assessment environmental certificate in accordance with ISO TR (technical report) 14062. (ISO/TR 14062:2002 describes concepts and current practices relating to the integration of environmental aspects into product design and development, and is applicable to the development of sector-specific documents. It is not applicable as a specification for certification and registration purposes.)

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Honda begins sales of new Grace Hybrid in Japan; 4WD option

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. has begun sales of the all-new Grace hybrid sedan at dealerships across Japan. The Grace is equipped with Honda’s Sport Hybrid i-DCD one-motor hybrid system that enables the driver to start in EV mode and realizes fuel economy of 34.4 km/L (81 mpg US or 2.9 l/100 km) under the JC 08 mode—best among all hybrid sedan models in the Japanese market. The Sport Hybrid i-DCD is also applied in the Fit and Vezel hybrids, and earlier had been the subject of three recalls due to separate problems with its &-speed DCT. (Earlier post.)

Also, for the first time as a compact hybrid sedan in this size category, the all-new Grace offers a 4WD version in its lineup. Honda’s monthly sales target in Japan is 3,000 units.

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Calls for an international 48V electrical standard for vehicles; looming WLTP implementation

At the 2nd International Conference Automotive 48 V Power Supply Systems, held last week in Düsseldorf, Germany, Controlled Power Technologies (CPT), a major sponsor of the event, together with leading car makers and Tier 1 suppliers, argued the need for an internationally agreed 48V electrical standard. Such a standard will be necessary for the global automotive industry to achieve the economies of scale demanded by original equipment manufacturers.

CPT, together with other sponsors of the event, including AVL and Ricardo, is in the vanguard of 48V mild hybrid developments intended to address the ever-tightening European CO2 regulations and potentially a new and more aggressive test cycle—i.e., the Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedures (WLTP).

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MHI completes development of next-generation LNG carrier; apple-shaped tanks and hybrid propulsion

November 29, 2014

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Sayaringo STaGE. Click to enlarge.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) has completed development of the “Sayaringo STaGE,” a next-generation LNG (liquefied natural gas) carrier. The Sayaringo STaGE was developed as a successor to the Sayaendo (earlier post), the company’s LNG carrier evolved from carriers with Moss-type spherical tanks that offer a high level of reliability. (Moss-type LNG carriers use independent spherical cargo tanks supported by a cylindrical skirt integrated with the hull and covered with a hemispherical steel cover attached to the main deck.)

While the Sayaendo (sayaendo = peas in a pod in Japanese) features a peapod-shaped continuous cover for the Moss spherical tanks that is integrated with the ship’s hull, in lieu of a conventional hemispherical cover, the new Sayaringo (ringo being the Japanese word for “apple”) STaGE adopts apple-shaped tanks, resulting in nearly a16% increase in LNG carrying capacity without changing the ship’s width. Further, a hybrid propulsion system has boosted fuel efficiency by more than 20% compared to the Sayaendo (and more than 40% vis-à-vis earlier carriers).

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BMW reveals 3 Series Plug-in hybrid prototype with 117.5 mpg; next-gen Power eDrive: 2x current capacity, electric AWD

November 27, 2014

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BMW 3 Series Plug-in hybrid prototype. Click to enlarge.

BMW has unveiled a 3 Series plug-in hybrid prototype. Combining a four-cylinder TwinPower Turbo gasoline engine from the new Efficient Dynamics engine family with an electric motor, the BMW 3 Series plug-in hybrid prototype offers performance on a par with a conventionally powered BMW 3 Series six-cylinder model, combined with a significant reduction in fuel consumption.

In addition, BMW outlined its work on Power eDrive next-generation electrification platforms—an effort to deliver “highly electrified” plug-in hybrids with higher-powered electric motors and batteries with twice the capacity of present versions. Future plug-in hybrid concepts, said BMW, will use the electric motor—the main source of power for everyday driving—to drive the rear wheels, while a second electric motor driving the front wheels will create an all-electric road-coupled all-wheel-drive system. At the same time, an internal combustion engine will also supply power to the front axle.

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Bus maker Alexander Dennis to fit GKN Gyrodrive flywheel hybrid systems to 250 buses; partners on international development

November 24, 2014

GKN Hybrid Power Gyrodrive technology
Gyrodrive. Click to enlarge.

Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL), Britain’s biggest bus and coach manufacturer, has chosen GKN Hybrid Power as a preferred partner and committed to the purchase of 250 of its Gyrodrive electric flywheel hybrid systems (earlier post). ADL will focus initially on the introduction of the low emission technology to bus fleets in London and Oxford but anticipates rapid deployment across the UK in the next few years. It will also be working closely with GKN to develop the technology for international markets.

Instead of a battery, the Gyrodrive system uses a magnetically loaded high-speed carbon-fiber flywheel to store the energy generated by a bus as it slows down to stop. It then utilizes the stored energy to power a GKN EVO electric motor which helps accelerate the bus back up to speed, generating significant fuel savings of up to around 25% at a considerably lower cost than battery-hybrid alternatives.

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Lux Research: fuel cell vehicles lag other drivetrains in terms of cost of ownership; ICE and HEV lowest cost

Based on an analysis of various cost of ownership scenarios for various drivetrains, including internal combustion engine (ICE) gasoline and diesel; hybrid (HEV); battery-electric (EV); plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV); and fuel cell vehicles, Lux Research concludes that fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) are “solidly in a laggard position.

The Lux analysts ran scenarios associated with operation and ownership, broken out into fuel cost alone; fuel cost plus operation, but excluding purchase or lease; and fuel cost plus operation, including purchase or lease (total ownership cost). When looking at fuel cost only, EVs lead the way due to the relatively low price of electricity, followed by various types of hybrids (HEVs and PHEVs). Fuel cell vehicles can match EV fuel costs at $3/kg dispensed H2—a price highly unlikely in near-term, Lux said.

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Mitsubishi shows XR-PHEV concept at LA Show

November 20, 2014

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Mitsubishi Concept XR-PHEV on stage in LA. Click to enlarge.

Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. (MMNA) gave the Mitsubishi Concept XR-PHEV (earlier post) plug-in hybrid its North American debut at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. Mitsubishi said that the Concept XR-PHEV crossover hints at its future design direction for production vehicles in North America and further reaffirms the automaker’s commitment to the US market.

The powertrain features a front engine/front-wheel drive gasoline-powered 1.1-liter inline-3-cylinder turbocharged engine (134 hp/100 kW) paired with a compact electric motor (161 hp/121 kW) with a high-boost converter and a main drive lithium-ion battery pack with storage capacity of 14 kWh (located beneath the floor of the cabin). The new converter raises the MiEV system to 700 volts and helps to further improve energy output and efficiency from both the electric motor as well as the generator.

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EALABC paper outlines approach to 48V hybrid systems with advanced lead-carbon batteries

November 19, 2014

The European Advanced Lead-Acid Battery Consortium (EALABC) is delivering a paper this week outlining the consortium’s approach to 48V hybridization at the 2nd International Conference on Advanced Automotive 48V Power Supply Systems in Düsseldorf. The EALABC focus is on the environmental and cost benefits of current and future advanced lead-carbon batteries for 48V hybrid vehicles.

The state-of-charge (SoC) of current lead-carbon batteries is typically maintained at between 30 and 50%, with the voltage and amperage meeting VDA requirements by not exceeding 54V at 150A when recovering joules of energy from vehicle deceleration (kinetic energy recovery) and exhaust gas energy recuperation (thermal energy recovery), also dropping not less than 38V at 180A when discharging energy for engine starting and torque assist. Advanced lead-carbon batteries for vehicles currently under development will be capable of operating in the 30 to 70% SoC range at 12.5kW.

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

November 11, 2014

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

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

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Honda beginning sales of Legend with 3-motor Sport Hybrid SH-AWD system in January; V6 with cylinder deactivation

November 10, 2014

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. will begin sales of the all-new Legend flagship sedan (its cousin is already on sale in the US as the Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD) at dealerships across Japan on 22 January 2015. The fifth-generation Legend features the 3-motor Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system also offered in the RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD (earlier post).

Positioned at the front of the vehicle is a newly developed V6 3.5L direct injection i-VTEC engine and a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT) with an integrated 35 kW electric motor. The rear-mounted TMU (Twin Motor Unit) contains two 27-kilowatt motors that dynamically distribute electric-motor torque to the rear wheels. Both the front and rear motors capture kinetic energy during vehicle deceleration and braking and convert it to electricity to supply the Intelligent Power Unit’s 72-cell, 1.3-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, located behind the rear seatback. Teaming up with a high-output lithium-ion battery, the control unit coordinates the operation of the engine and three motors.

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GKN Land Systems ramping up production of electric flywheel hybrid technology for buses

November 06, 2014

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GKN Gyrodrive bus. Click to enlarge.

GKN Land Systems is ramping up production of its Gyrodrive electric flywheel hybrid technology for buses following successful trials in London and the start of UK production. (Earlier post.)

Gyrodrive uses a high-speed composite flywheel paired with an innovative GKN EVO electric motor to regenerate the energy normally lost during braking. When the driver brakes, a traction motor on one of the axles slows the vehicle and generates electricity simultaneously. The electricity charges the flywheel, spinning it at up to 36,000 rpm.

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Daimler opens new MB R&D center in Beijing, presents G-Code hydrogen-electric plug-in hybrid all-wheel drive concept

November 04, 2014

Daimler Greater China opened its new 865-million RMB Mercedes-Benz Research & Development Center in China and extended its local R%D network in Beijing. A new Advanced Design Studio is a centerpiece of the R&D facility and represents the company’s new design hub in Asia. At the official opening, Gorden Wagener, Head of Design Daimler AG, presented the Mercedes-Benz G-Code plug-in hybrid crossover show car.

The G-Code is powered by two individually controlled drive cores: a compact, turbocharged hydrogen-fueled combustion engine which solely drives the front wheels, and an electric motor which drives the rear axle and transmits its power selectively to the two wheels via a dual multi-disc clutch. Disclaimer: Mercedes-Benz emphasized that the G-Code, like the previously introduced Ener-G-Force and GT 6 vehicle studies, “makes absolutely no claim to be implemented within foreseeable periods.”

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ICCT study finds state EV incentives playing a significant role in driving sales

October 31, 2014

A study by a team from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) shows that state electric vehicle incentives are playing a significant early role in reducing the effective cost of ownership and driving electric vehicle sales.

As described in their white paper, “Evaluation of state-level US electric vehicle incentives”, the researchers found that some of the states with the largest electric vehicle incentives—i.e., California, Georgia, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington—have electric vehicle sales shares that are approximately 2–4 times the national average. A statistical regression revealed that the total monetary benefit to consumers from state incentives significantly positively correlates with BEV sales when all 50 states and the District of Columbia are included.

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Mercedes-AMG HPP awarded Dewar Trophy for PU106A Hybrid F1 Power Unit

October 30, 2014

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The Dewar Trophy was presented to Andy Cowell, Managing Director of HPP, along with members of his project team from Brixworth. Click to enlarge.

The UK’s Royal Automobile Club (RAC) has awarded the prestigious Dewar Trophy, presented for outstanding technical achievement in the automotive industry, to Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) for the design of the PU106A Hybrid Formula One Power Unit. (Earlier post.)

The team at HPP was recognized for its development of the most advantageous powertrain within the new Formula One regulations. The aim for 2014 was to raise the engine efficiency from around 29% for the previous normally aspirated 2.4-liter V8 to better than 40% with the new 1.6-liter V6 Hybrid turbo. The successful design, research and teamwork resulted in the Mercedes-Benz PU106A Hybrid Power Unit, which has not only been the dominant powertrain in this first season under the new Formula One rules, but is also arguably among the most thermally efficient gasoline powertrains ever produced, with a claimed thermal efficiency of greater than 40%.

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GM Warren Transmission Plant to build electric drive unit for second-gen Volt; part of $300M investment in Michigan through end of year

October 28, 2014

Later today at the Detroit Economic Club, General Motors CEO Mary Barra will confirm that its Warren Transmission Plant will build the new electric drive unit—the GM Voltec 4ET50 Multi-Mode EDU—for the upcoming second-generation Chevrolet Volt. As a result, most major Volt powertrain components—from the battery cells to the new 1.5-liter range-extending engine—will be made in Michigan, establishing the state as the company’s global engineering center of excellence for vehicle electrification. The new Volt will debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January 2015.

The drive unit for the first-generation Volt consists of two motors—a 111 kW main traction and 63 kW (at 4800 rpm) generator motor (55 kW generator output)—as well as three clutches and a planetary gear set tucked in the end of the traction motor that improve overall efficiency by reducing the combined rotational speed of the electric motors as needed. (Earlier post.) GM will subsequently be providing details of the second-generation drive unit.

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Navigant Research forecasts plug-ins will be 2.4% of global new vehicle sales by 2023; luxury brands to represent about 50% of that

October 23, 2014

Navigant Research forecasts that plug-in EVs (which include plug-in hybrids and battery EVs), will represent 2.4% of total worldwide light-duty vehicle sales by 2023, or about 2.5 million units. In its new report, “Global Forecasts for Light Duty Hybrid, Plug-In Hybrid, and Battery Electric Vehicle Sales and Vehicles in Use: 2014-2023”, Navigant notes that luxury brands, which have benefited in recent years from increased interest from the developing markets of Asia Pacific, have committed more strongly to plug-in EV platforms.

Accordingly, Navigant expects this luxury brand push to increase global sales of plug-in EVs significantly in the near term. Navigant expects sales of plug-in EVs from luxury manufacturers, such as Tesla, Mercedes, Audi, and BMW to grow strongly through 2018 before leveling off at around 50% of the plug-in EV market.

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Nissan leads with transfer of California ZEV credits out for year ending 30 Sep 2014

October 17, 2014

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Nissan led with California ZEV credit transfers out during the last report period. Click to enlarge.

Between 1 October 2013 and 30 September 2014, Nissan transferred out 663.6 ZEV (zero emission vehicle) credits from its balance account, according to the latest report by the California Air Resources Board (ARB)—just edging out Tesla with 650.195 credits. The next closest was Fiat, with 235.2 ZEV credits transferred out; followed by Ford with 38.738.

This latest credit balance report reflects ZEV regulation compliance through model year 2013, representing a total of 3.5 million vehicles including: more than 500 fuel cell vehicles; 38,000 battery electric vehicles; 29,300 neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs); 30,000 plug-in hybrids; 570,000 hybrids; and 3 million gasoline vehicles. As of September 2014, more than 100,000 ZEVs and plug-in hybrids are on California roads.

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New Flyer to start development of first 60' fuel cell hybrid bus in North America; introduces 40' battery-electric bus

October 14, 2014

New Flyer Industries Inc. is developing the first North American designed and built 60-foot battery-electric/fuel cell hybrid bus that will operate in daily service. CALSTART, which will administer the project for the FTA, received the green light from the FTA for work to proceed.

The electric propulsion system being integrated into New Flyer’s Buy America-compliant Xcelsior X60 heavy-duty transit bus platform includes a combination of batteries, a fuel cell, and hydrogen storage. The electric drive bus will allow the fuel cell to operate at a relative steady-state, while the batteries will be able to both capture breaking energy and provide power for acceleration.

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Worldwide sales of Toyota Corp. hybrids top 7 million; Prius family accounts for 67.8%

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TMC cumulative hybrid sales by year. The blue bar represents the running cumulative total, the green bar the hybrid sales for each year. Click to enlarge.

Cumulative global sales of Toyota Motor Corporation’s (TMC) hybrid vehicles has exceeded the 7 million unit mark as of 30 September, reaching 7.053 million units. This latest million-unit milestone was achieved in the fastest time yet for Toyota, taking just nine months.

As of this month, Toyota sells 27 different hybrid passenger car models and one plug-in hybrid model in more than 90 countries and regions. The Prius family with all its variants accounts for 67.8% of all TMC hybrids sold through 30 Sep: 4.778 million units.

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PEV potential pipeline: possible, promised or planned (13 October 2014 edition)

October 13, 2014

The last few weeks have seen a number of statements from executives at major automakers either pre-announcing, indicating possible development of or simply hinting at a number of new plug-in vehicle models coming over the next couple of years. That should be no surprise; the US-based Electric Drive Transportation Association notes that there are 20 plug-in and fuel cell vehicle models currently on the US market alone with 20 additional models expected here through 2016.

Given that sometimes there is not much more information available than one sentence uttered during an interview or a conference, it’s hard to pull together much that is substantive. However, we thought we’d try keeping a running tally of PEVs possible, promised or planned, with regular updates of the list; globally, to the best of our ability. Please add what we might have missed via the comments section; we’ll incorporate those into the next version of the PEV list. (Concept cars or officially announced models don’t count for this purpose.)

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

October 11, 2014

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

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

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

October 10, 2014

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

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

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USABC reopens 4 RFPIs for development of advanced high-performance batteries for start/stop, 48V HEV, PHEV and EVs

The United States Advanced Battery Consortium LLC (USABC), a collaborative organization operated by Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Company and General Motors, has reopened four requests for proposal information (RFPIs) for the development of advanced high-performance batteries for vehicle applications.

The RFPIs will remain active indefinitely to prompt more submissions from individual developers as well as collaborative R&D/supplier teams. Each requires a 50% minimum cost share. USABC seeks proposals the resulting technology from which will have the capability of meeting or approaching its technology targets for commercialization by 2020 for the following applications:

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Parker Hannifin gaining traction with RunWise HD hydraulic hybrid; developing CNG-based HD system, next-gen MD system

October 09, 2014

Parker Hannifin is seeing growing acceptance in the market for its RunWise heavy-duty hydraulic series hybrid system (earlier post), currently only applied in Autocar refuse trucks. After the introduction of pilot units in 2010, Parker is now close to the 100-unit mark with the RunWise system, with 84 of those in the North American market, and another 70 being built or on order, said Mark McGrew, RunWise sales manager. “Things are continuing to press forward in a very good way,” he added. “Within the last 6-12 months, we’ve seen tremendous traction.

In addition to seeking more heavy-duty applications for the RunWise hybrid system—such as transit—McGrew said that the company is working on a new generation of the product that should launch in 2016 for Class 4-6 delivery trucks—e.g., FedEx, UPS, etc. (Earlier post.) Further, Parker Hannifin has paired a RunWise transmission with a CNG engine in the series hybrid powertrain as a one-off to test the waters for such a combination, McGrew said.

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Infiniti Q80 Inspiration concept hybrid delivers 550 hp with 42.8 mpg fuel economy

October 02, 2014

Infiniti unveiled the Q80 Inspiration concept car at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, it what it called a signal of its intent to break into the top tier of the premium sedan category; the concept will lead to a future model. The four-door fastback is powered by a hybrid electric powertrain that is expected to deliver 550 hp (410 kW) with fuel consumption of 5.5 L/100 km (42.8 mpg US) and CO2 emissions of about 129 g/km.

The powertrain incorporates a new aluminum-based downsized twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that is part of a new engine family which will be introduced within the next two years. (Infiniti plans to double its powertrain range over the next five years.) The 450 hp (336 kW) V6 gasoline engine will be supported by an electric motor powered by a Li-ion battery pack, capable of adding around 75 kW (100 hp) hybrid power boost when required, and a 9-speed automatic gearbox.

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

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New engines and transmission. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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Lamborghini’s first plug-in hybrid super sports car demonstrator debuts at Paris

Automobili Lamborghini (part of the Volkswagen Group) unveiled its first plug-in hybrid (PHEV) technology demonstrator, the Lamborghini Asterion LPI 910-4, at the 2014 Paris Mondial de l’Automobile.

Conceived and developed entirely in-house by Lamborghini, Asterion’s hybrid system combines a V10 5.2-liter naturally aspirated engine with three electric motors for total power of 669 kW/910 hp, enough for acceleration of 0-100 km/h in 3.0 s and a top speed of 320 km/h (199 mph), or up to 125 km/h (78 mph) under pure electric power. All-electric range is 50 km (31 miles). Fuel consumption is 4.12 l/100 km (57 mpg US) combined cycle (NEDC).

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Volkswagen XL1-based XL Sport concept powered by Ducati V2 joins Passat GTE plug-in hybrid on Paris stage

October 01, 2014

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Volkswagen XL Sport concept. Click to enlarge.

On the evening before the Paris Motor Show, the Volkswagen Group presented not only the production-bound Passat GTE plug-in hybrid (earlier post), but also staged the world premiere of the XL Sport—a highly efficient sports car concept based on Volkswagen’s XL1 diesel plug-in hybrid (earlier post). The XL Sport is a sister model of the XL1; both share the same basic design—although not the same powertrain. The main element they have in common is the body, many parts of which are manufactured in carbon-reinforced polymer (CFRP), with a monocoque featuring slightly offset seats for the driver and passenger.

The XL Sport concept car is a sports car with 200 PS (197 hp, 147 kW) of power and a top speed of 270 km/h (168 mph) that was created based on the hyper-fuel-efficient XL1. Operating at the rear of the XL Sport—and the technical highlight of the powertrain—is a modified V2 engine from the new Ducati 1199 Superleggera—the world’s most powerful two-cylinder motorcycle engine. (Ducati is also part of the Volkswagen Group.) This engine, together with a 7-speed DSG, launches the sports car from zero to 100 km/h in 5.7 seconds and revs up to 11,000 rpm.

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Promised VW Passat plug-in hybrid to debut at Paris show; both sedan and wagon

September 29, 2014

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Passat GTE sedan. Click to enlarge.

In his remarks before the opening of the Geneva Motora Show in March 2014, Volkswagen Group Chairman of the Board of Management Prof. Dr. Winterkorn said that a plug-in hybrid version of the Volkswagen Passat would join the Group’s range of low-CO2 vehicles “soon.” (Earlier post.)

Accordingly, at the Paris Motor Show, Volkswagen will introduce the new Passat GTE plug-in hybrid, the Volkswagen brand’s third plug-in hybrid (after the XL1, earlier post and Golf GTE, earlier post) and its first plug-in hybrid offered in both sedan and wagon styles. The Passat GTE leverages the Volkswagen Group’s MQB-based plug-in hybrid powertrain, also seen in the VW Golf GTE and the Audi A3 e-tron. (Earlier post.) The Passat GTE will be launched in the second half of next year in Europe.

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Promised VW Passat plug-in hybrid to debut at Paris show; both sedan and wagon

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Passat GTE sedan. Click to enlarge.

In his remarks before the opening of the Geneva Motora Show in March 2014, Volkswagen Group Chairman of the Board of Management Prof. Dr. Winterkorn said that a plug-in hybrid version of the Volkswagen Passat would join the Group’s range of low-CO2 vehicles “soon.” (Earlier post.)

Accordingly, at the Paris Motor Show, Volkswagen will introduce the new Passat GTE plug-in hybrid, the Volkswagen brand’s third plug-in hybrid (after the XL1, earlier post and Golf GTE, earlier post) and its first plug-in hybrid offered in both sedan and wagon styles. The Passat GTE leverages the Volkswagen Group’s MQB-based plug-in hybrid powertrain, also seen in the VW Golf GTE and the Audi A3 e-tron. (Earlier post.) The Passat GTE will be launched in the second half of next year in Europe.

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MAN shows TGX parallel diesel hybrid truck concept, previews CNG in TGM trucks at IAA; gearbox cooperation with Scania

September 28, 2014

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MANs TGX hybrid concept at IAA. Click to enlarge.

At the IAA, MAN (part of the Volkswagen Group) presented a concept diesel-electric parallel hybrid version of its long-haul TGX truck. (MAN showed the Metropolis research truck, a range-extended electric refuse collection truck developed in collaboration with Benteler Engineering Services for use in the city, at IAA 2012, earlier post.) Also at IAA, MAN gave a preview of the CNG technology in trucks with a TGM distributor chassis; the CNG trucks are due in the market in 2016. (MAN has an established line of CNG-powered buses.)

TGX Hybrid. The MAN TGX concept hybrid will be driven by a parallel hybrid system, supplied by a 440 hp (328 kW) diesel engine and an electric motor with 130 kW drive power. The electric motor acts as an alternator when coasting and braking. A MAN TipMatic gearbox transfers power to the rear axle.

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BorgWarner supplying wet friction technology for Volkswagen Group’s DQ 400e dual-clutch transmission for hybrids

September 26, 2014

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Rendering of friction plate. Click to enlarge.

BorgWarner is supplying its high-performance wet friction technology for Volkswagen Group’s DQ 400e dual-clutch transmission (earlier post)—the Group’s main near-term gearbox for all hybrid and plug-in hybrid applications that are transverse. (Earlier post.) Current examples include the Golf GTE and Audi A3 e-tron.

This core transmission for hybrid vehicles with transversely mounted engines employs three clutches—two drive clutches (K1/K2) plus an engine-disconnect clutch (K0). An 80 kW, 330 N·m (243 lb-ft) three-phase permanently excited synchronous machine is located in the hybrid module on the input shaft, between the engine-disconnect clutch K0 and the drive clutches (K1/K2).

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ORNL study finds best current use of natural gas for cars is efficient production of electricity for EVs

September 24, 2014

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Top: Components of well-to-wheels pathway. Middle: WTW efficiency for CNGVs. Bottom: WTW efficiency for EVs. Curran et al. Click to enlarge.

A well-to-wheels analysis of the use of natural gas for passenger vehicles by a team of researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has found that, with a high PTW (pump-to-wheels) efficiency and the potential for high electrical generation efficiency with NGCC (natural gas combined cycle) turbines, natural gas currently is best used in an efficient stationary power application for charging EVs.

However, they also noted, high PTW efficiencies and the moderate fuel economies of current compressed natural gas vehicles (CNGVs) make them a viable option as well. If CNG were to be eventually used in hybrids, the advantage of the electric generation/EV option shrinks. Their open access paper is published in the journal Energy.

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

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Mondeo 5-door. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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Volvo Buses officially launches the all-new plug-in Electric Hybrid bus

September 19, 2014

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Volvo 7900 Electric Hybrid with overhead conductive charging station and pantograph extended. Click to enlarge.

As previously announced (earlier post), Volvo Buses will officially launch the new plug-in 7900 Electric Hybrid bus at the International IAA Commercial Vehicles show in September. The plug-in hybrid drive reduces diesel fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by up to 75%, compared to a conventional diesel bus. Total energy consumption is reduced by 60%.

The Volvo Electric Hybrid Driveline is an extension of the well-proven driveline used in the Volvo 7900 Hybrid. The difference lies in a more powerful electric motor, increased energy storage and equipment for overhead conductive opportunity charging. The bus is equipped with a 150 kW electric motor that delivers maximum torque of 1200 N·m (85 lb-ft) and is powered by a 19 kWh Li-ion battery pack as well as a 240 hp/918 N·m Volvo D5K 240, 4-cylinder, in-line Euro 6 diesel engine with common rail injection.

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Peugeot showcasing QUARTZ plug-in hybrid crossover concept at Paris

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Peugeot QUARTZ Concept. Click to enlarge.

Peugeot will showcase the plug-in hybrid QUARTZ Concept for the Crossover segment at the 2014 Paris Motor Show. The QUARTZ is based on the same EMP2 platform that underpins the new 308. The composite structure and bonded panels save weight but bring stiffness, enabling the engineers to remove the central B pillar and create scissor doors. A retractable step further eases access.

QUARTZ uses a plug-in “HYbrid” drive system comprising a gasoline engine supplemented by two electric motors. A 1.6-liter THP 270 engine developed by PEUGEOT Sport is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The four-cylinder engine delivers 330 N·m (243 lb-ft) of torque, with a specific output of nearly 170 hp per liter.

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Citroën unveiling Cactus AIRFLOW 2L concept at Paris: Hybrid Air powertrain and 2L/100 km

September 18, 2014

Citroën will unveil its new C4 Cactus AIRFLOW 2L concept at the Paris Motor Show. With the C4 Cactus AIRFLOW 2L concept, Citroën is demonstrating fuel consumption of 2l/100 km (118 mpg US) through the use of optimized design with a 20% improvement in aerodynamics; lower rolling resistance (Tall&Narrow) tires; efforts to use lighter parts and thus reduce overall vehicle weight by 100 kg; and the implementation of Hybrid Air technology (earlier post), which cuts fuel consumption by 30%.

The C4 Cactus AIRFLOW 2L project was conducted as part of the “2l/100 km vehicle” program set up by the Plateforme de la Filière Automobile, an industry group. The objective was to deliver practical solutions to reduce the impact of vehicle running costs, on household expenditure and to reduce the eco-footprint of car travel.

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

September 17, 2014

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EOLAB. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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More details on the Mercedes-Benz S500 PLUG-IN HYBRID; new warranty for battery and PEEM

September 15, 2014

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S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID. Click to enlarge.

With order-taking having begun in July (earlier post), and first customer deliveries slated for this month, Mercedes-Benz has provided more detail on its top-end S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID, the third hybrid model in the new S-Class (the others being the S 400 HYBRID and S 300 BlueTEC HYBRID). (Earlier post.)

The Mercedes-Benz S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID offers a system output of 325 kW (436 hp) and 650 N·m (479 lb-ft) torque, accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in a fast 5.2 seconds and can drive up to 33 km (20.5 miles) purely electrically. The certified consumption in Europe is 2.8 liters/100 km (84 mpg US)—lower than Mercedes initially suggested upon the vehicle’s unveiling in 2013—which corresponds to 65 g CO2/km emissions. Key elements of this performance are the V6 biturbo and the intelligent hybrid drive.

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Peugeot showcasing 208 Hybrid Air 2L Demonstrator at Paris show

September 12, 2014

PEUGEOT is showcasing its 208 HYbrid Air 2L Demonstrator at next month’s Paris Motor Show. The 2L stands for two liters per 100 km, equivalent to 118 mpg US, and is based on a production version of the Peugeot 208 1.2-liter PureTech 82 hp 5-seater Hatchback.

Peugeot’s Hybrid Air (earlier post) is a full-hybrid solution combining compressed air and hydraulic power, with no battery required for energy storage. Hybrid Air combines the PureTech gasoline engine; a compressed air energy storage unit located beneath the trunk; a hydraulic pump/motor unit in the engine bay; and and an automatic transmission with an epicyclic gear train.

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Rental company eHi Car Services enters into strategic partnership with SAIC Motor; more electric-drive vehicles

September 02, 2014

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The recently introduced Roewe 550 plug-in is part of the eHi acquisition deal. Click to enlarge.

eHi Car Services has entered into a strategic partnership with SAIC Motor, the largest automotive manufacturer in China and a Global Fortune 500 company. This relationship starts with a first order of thousands of vehicles including Roewe E50 electric vehicles and Roewe 550 plug-in electric hybrid vehicles.

eHi already offers the Roewe E50 EV for rental; this new round of EV acquisition is based on eHi’s more than a year of operating experience, data analysis and market experiments.

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TfL to test IPT wireless charging technology on 4 extended range diesel electric hybrid buses next year

August 29, 2014

TfL (Transport for London) will trial inductive charging systems provided by IPT Technology on up to four extended range diesel electric hybrid buses in east London from next year.

The specially built hybrid double deck buses will operate on route 69 between Canning Town and Walthamstow bus stations. The Alexander Dennis double-deck Enviro400H E400 buses will be fitted with technology enabling on-board batteries to receive a wireless charge boost at bus stands at either end of the route. It is hoped this will enable the buses to operate in pure electric mode for a significant period of the time they are in passenger service.

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Nissan to begin production of Pathfinder hybrid in Russia; importance of Russian market

August 27, 2014

Nissan launched its Pathfinder range in the Russian market at the Moscow Motor Show. The Pathfinder made its debut alongside the new Russian-built Sentra sedan.

Nissan’s all-new fourth-generation Pathfinder—which will be built in Russia—will be available with a standard 3.5L gasoline engine as well as the hybrid drive system. (Earlier post.) Production of Pathfinder’s hybrid engine variant will make the St. Petersburg plant Russia’s first to produce a hybrid. The plant currently builds the Teana, Murano and X-Trail, and Qashqai will be added in 2015.

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Polestar modestly optimizes Volvo V60 diesel Plug-in Hybrid

August 15, 2014

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

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

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

August 06, 2014

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

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

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

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

August 05, 2014

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

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

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

July 31, 2014

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A3 e-tron. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

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S 500 Plug-In Hybrid. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 29, 2014

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

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

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

July 24, 2014

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

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

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

July 22, 2014

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

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

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

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

July 18, 2014

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

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

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

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

July 16, 2014

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2014 Yaris Hybrid. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

July 15, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 10, 2014

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

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

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

July 08, 2014

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

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

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

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

July 07, 2014

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

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

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Lexus NX compact utility arrives in North America

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2015 Lexus NX 300h. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

July 06, 2014

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

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

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

July 04, 2014

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The new Volkswagen Passat. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

June 30, 2014

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Greenkraft truck. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

June 19, 2014

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The hydrogen shuttle bus. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

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The Lightning Hybrid system. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

June 18, 2014

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

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

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

June 15, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 13, 2014

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

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

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

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

June 09, 2014

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

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

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

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

June 05, 2014

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

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

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

June 04, 2014

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

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

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

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

May 28, 2014

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

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

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

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

May 27, 2014

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

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

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

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

May 26, 2014

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

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

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

May 20, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 14, 2014

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

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

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

May 08, 2014

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

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

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

May 07, 2014

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

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

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

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

May 06, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 01, 2014

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

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

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

April 30, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 29, 2014

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

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

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

April 25, 2014

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

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

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

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

April 24, 2014

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

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

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

April 22, 2014

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

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

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

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

April 21, 2014

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

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

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

April 20, 2014

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2015 Lexus NX 300h. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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