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

Audi of America targeting 25% of sales to be plug-ins by 2025; national network of 150 kW fast chargers

November 19, 2015

Flanked by the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron (earlier post) on one side and the Audi concept e-tron quattro (earlier post) on the other, Audi of America president Scott Keogh used his press conference speech at the Los Angeles Auto Show yesterday to declare that the brand is targeting at least 25% of its US sales to be e-tron—i.e., plug-in hybrid or full electric—models by 2025.

Further, Keogh said, Audi will support the broad adoption of EV technology in the US by developing a nationwide 150 kW fast charging network that would charge the 95 kWh battery pack of the e-tron quattro to 80% in only 30 minutes—enough for 200 miles worth of driving in the battery-electric SUV. The network will be in place for the launch of the fully electric SUV in 2018.

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Toyota anticipates 2016 Prius at 52 mpg combined, 56 mpg with Eco grade

November 18, 2015

Toyota anticipates that the 2016 Prius (earlier post) will deliver fuel economy ratings of 54 MPG city / 50 MPG highway / 52 MPG combined. (Final EPA figures pending.) A new Eco grade model is expecting ratings of 58 MPG city / 53 MPG highway / 56 MPG combined thanks to lighter weight and further optimized aerodynamics.

As in the third-generation Prius, the Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive combines the output of a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine and two motor/generators through an electronically controlled planetary-type continuously variable transmission (CVT). The 2016 Prius uses smaller, lighter hybrid components, including a new lithium-ion hybrid battery that replaces the nickel-metal hydride battery (excluding the Prius Two non-Eco grade) in most models. The new battery’s smaller size and flatter shape allow it to be packaged under the rear seat, rather than beneath the luggage area, yielding more cargo space.

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More details on the coming new Kia Optima hybrid and plug-in hybrid

November 17, 2015

Kia Motors has provided a few more details on the new hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains planned for the all-new Optima, as part of the company’s ongoing commitment to broaden its global range of low-emission vehicles. (Earlier post.)

A new addition to the Kia model line-up, the Optima Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) will be Kia’s first plug-in hybrid for global markets when it goes on sale in the second half of 2016, offering increased battery capacity and pure electric range. Meanwhile, the new Optima Hybrid (HEV) will offer buyers substantial improvements over the existing Optima Hybrid, with a larger battery pack, more powerful electric motor and revised transmission. These changes are expected to contribute to a 10% improvement in fuel economy over earlier versions of the Optima Hybrid.

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Audi highlights its range of electrification efforts; Q7 diesel PHEV, A7 fuel cell PHEV, BEV, 48V and more; 750 Wh/l by 2025

Audi presented a range of its ongoing work on electromobility and efficiency—from fuels and systems to full vehicles—under the “Future Performance Days 2015” banner.

On the full vehicle side, Audi put forward the Audi Q7 e-tron 3.0 TDI quattro plug-in hybrid (earlier post); the Audi A7 h-tron quattro fuel cell vehicle (earlier post); the Audi e-tron quattro concept battery-electric SUV (earlier post); the Audi TT clubsport turbo concept (earlier post); the Audi RS 5 TDI competition concept (earlier post); and the Audi R18 e-tron quattro (earlier post). On the systems and fuels side, Audi discussed battery technology; wireless charging; 48 V electrification (earlier post); Audi fuel cell technology; and Audi e-fuels (earlier post).

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Ford offering 3 years’ complimentary public charging to C-MAX Energi customers in California and Maryland with EV 1-2-3 Charge

Ford Motor Company will offer three years of complimentary charging to California and Maryland customers who purchase or lease a 2016 C-MAX Energi with its pilot EV 1-2-3 Charge program. EV 1-2-3 Charge will provide unlimited, complimentary charging sessions of four hours each at more than 500 NRG EVgo and SemaConnect public stations across the nation. C-MAX Energi is capable of being fully charged in approximately 2.5 hours with the 240-volt charging stations that are included in the program.

Beginning in December, Ford will make it easy for customers to find these charge stations with MyFord Mobile, which will identify participating stations with a pink-colored icon. The MyFord Mobile app and website are integrated with the vehicle’s in-car communications and entertainment system – SYNC 3.

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

November 16, 2015

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

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

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2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid coming to market with EPA-estimated 27-mile electric range; starts at $34,600

November 13, 2015

The 2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) is arriving in select dealerships in 10 states this week with an EPA-estimated 27-mile (43.5-kilometer) All-Electric Range (AER). At the Sonata PHEV’s launch in January, Hyundai had estimated a 22-mile AER (earlier post), which it later bumped up to around 24 miles (earlier post).

The 2016 Sonata Plug-in is EPA-rated at 99 MPGe combined, with 34 kWh/100 miles, and 40 mpg combined for charge sustaining (conventional hybrid) operation. Pricing (without factoring in incentives) starts at $34,600 for the base model and $38,600 for the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid Limited model.

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

November 06, 2015

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

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

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First drive: US spec Audi A3 Sportback e-tron plug-in hybrid; 83-86 MPGe with 16-17 mile EV range

November 02, 2015

More than two and one-half years after the car was first announced (earlier post) and more than one year after sales began in Germany and Central Europe (earlier post), the US-spec version of the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron plug-in hybrid will begin arriving in US showrooms in the next few weeks.

Although the EPA has not as of this writing released the final fuel economy numbers for the US A3 e-tron, Filip Brabec, Director, Product Management, Audi of America, said that the figures will be around 83 to 86 MPGe combined (depending on the equipment level), with 35 to 39 mpg gasoline only and 16-17 miles of EV range. The A3 e-tron can cruise at up to 80 mph in all-electric mode; a spec we confirmed—with enjoyment—last week during a media drive in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Audi using Alstom H3 plug-in hybrid shunting locomotive at Ingolstadt

October 30, 2015

Audi has begun using a new 1,000 horsepower plug-in hybrid shunting locomotive manufactured by Alstom in daily operations at the Audi plant in Ingolstadt, Germany. The new locomotive runs without any emissions inside the plant buildings and can operate for up to two hours at a time in purely electric mode. Its battery is plugged in during breaks for recharging with CO2‑free electricity, or is supported while in motion by a diesel engine.

The three-axle Alstom H3 hybrid locomotive is significantly quieter than its conventional counterparts, and can deliver up to a 50% reduction in diesel fuel use, with a concomitant reduction in CO2emissions. This means that the plug‑in‑hybrid locomotive emits up to 60 tons less CO2 each year. For the Ingolstadt plant, this is another stage on the way to the CO2‑neutral factory.

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Acura provides more technical detail on NSX sports hybrid AWD powertrain, body

October 28, 2015

Acura unveiled the production model of the next-generation NSX at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) this past January (earlier post), and now has provided more technical detail on the high-performance hybrid sports car and its new Sport Hybrid-AWD power unit.

At the core of this new hybrid power unit is a bespoke, mid-mounted twin-turbocharged, 75-degree 3.5-liter DOHC V6 engine with dry sump lubrication, mated to an all-new 9-speed dual clutch transmission (9DCT) and Direct-Drive Motor. This is augmented by the front Twin Motor Unit (TMU) driving the front wheels. The NSX Sport Hybrid power unit offers exceptional horsepower and torque with a broad powerband for tremendous throttle response and acceleration. Total system peak output is estimated at 573 horsepower—500 horsepower from the gasoline engine and 73 horsepower from the front TMU.

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JRC report finds electric vehicles in Europe on the way to full-scale commercialization

October 23, 2015

The European Union appears to be undergoing a transition from the testing of and experimentation with electric vehicles to full-scale EV commercialization, according to a new report from the EU’s Joint Research Center (JRC). This report covers battery-electric (BEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV), range extended electric vehicles (REV), and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV).

The number of sold electric vehicles of all types rose from 760 in 2010 to more than 70,000 in 2014, with the trend continuing in the first half of 2015, according to the report. The choice of models went from 3 to nearly 30 in the same period. The share of electric vehicles produced in the EU has also expanded, increasing from 30% (of EV registered in the EU) in 2011 to 65% in 2014.

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2016 Prius c hybrid gets big safety boost with Safety Sense-C system

October 17, 2015

Toyota gave its Prius c—the smallest of the brand’s eight hybrid models—a major styling and interior upgrade for 2015; for 2016 the big enhancement is the available Toyota Safety Sense C (TSS-C), which equips the car with an array of driver-assist technologies: Pre-Collision System, Lane Departure Assist, and Automatic High Beams.

In adapting Toyota’s hybrid technology to the Prius c platform, each of the system’s major components benefitted from a design focus to reduce weight and size while improving efficiency. Toyota’s hybrid technology integrates a gasoline engine, an electric motor within a Continuously Variable Transaxle, a nickel-metal hydride battery, a power control unit (inverter), a DC-DC converter, a step-up converter and a hybrid control computer.

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

October 15, 2015

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

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

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

October 14, 2015

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

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

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Volkswagen: reorienting diesel strategy, new Modular Electric Toolkit, MQB push on PHEVs, electric Phaeton

October 13, 2015

The newly-formed Volkswagen Brand Board of Management has made a number of major strategic product decisions, including a reorientation of the diesel strategy to use the most advanced emission aftertreatment technologies; the development of a standardized electric architecture (Modular Electric Toolkit, MEB) for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles; and an electric next-generation Phaeton.

Further, Volkswagen will accelerate its efficiency program and cut spending by some €1 billion per year.

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

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

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

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Ford to invest $1.8B in R&D in China

Ford Motor plans to invest RMB 11.4 billion (US$1.8 billion) in research and development in China in recognition that Chinese consumers are increasingly driving global innovation. The investment will allow Ford significantly to build up its research and development capabilities in the country—especially at its Nanjing Research and Engineering Center (REC)—and will help Ford create more world-class vehicles in China, for China.

First established in 2007 as part of Ford’s global product development network, Ford’s REC includes advanced product development laboratories which help the company develop new powertrains, test electronic systems, analyze the durability and safety of interior materials and improve vehicle manufacturing quality using the latest in 3-D scanning technologies.

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ORNL researcher proposes solution for online optimization of power management in HEVs/PHEVs and for different drivers

October 12, 2015

Dr. Andreas Malikopoulos at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has developed a solution for the online optimization of power management in parallel HEVs/PHEVs and for any different driver (i.e., for different driving styles). A paper on his work is published in IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology.

There has been a great deal of work done since the late 1990s on the optimization of power management control—i.e., the optimal distribution of power demanded by the driver to the available subsystems of combustion engine, motor, generator and battery—in parallel HEVs. Despite that significant body of work, Malikopoulos notes, deriving online an optimal solution for different driving styles still remains a challenging control problem.

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Schaeffler preparing 48V mild hybrid Audi TT for road testing

September 30, 2015

Schaeffler has been testing and demonstrating the performance capabilities of 48 volt hybridization in a range of concept vehicles including the“Gasoline Technology Car” (GTC), co-developed with Ford and Continental and the “Schaeffler Efficient Future Mobility North America” vehicle, as launched at the 2015 Detroit Motor Show (NAIAS) (earlier post). Schaeffler is now applying 48V hybridization to an Audi TT.

The drive for the “Schaeffler System 48 V” is based around an electrified rear axle which complements the front-wheel drive internal combustion engine. An additional belt-driven starter generator is connected to the engine which also operates at 48 V. The 48 V on-board electric subsystem uses a lithium-ion battery as its energy store. It is connected via a voltage transformer to the 12 V on-board electric system which powers all the different electrical components in the vehicle, from headlights to seat adjusters.

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JAC and Ricardo develop production version of HyBoost concept; seeking 30% boost in fuel economy with same performance

Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group Co Ltd (JAC) and Ricardo are collaborating on a project to develop the Ricardo HyBoost concept (earlier post)—a combination of low-cost technologies to deliver improved performance and fuel economy which featured recently in the Ricardo Centenary celebrations —into volume production on a JAC vehicle.

The Ricardo HyBoost concept is based on a downsized, highly boosted turbocharged direct injection gasoline (TDGI) engine giving improved fuel economy at low cost, linked to a 48V electrical architecture including a belt starter generator (BSG), DC-DC converter and a lithium-ion battery for energy storage.

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Schaeffler introduces new high-voltage P2 hybrid module; up to 800 N·m; first production application in China in 2017

September 29, 2015

Schaeffler has developed a new P2 (parallel, two-clutch) high-voltage hybrid module—arranged between the internal combustion engine and transmission—that can transmit engine torques of up to 800 N·m (590 lb-ft) to the transmission without having to incorporate a commensurately expensive clutch.The new generation P2 hybrid module can be used in both medium- and very high-performance transmission concepts—e.g., from mild to plug-in hybrids.

The high-torque module distributes the flow of forces in an innovative way; the pathway of torque conveyance depends on its direction. Torques are transmitted to the crankshaft via a 300 N·m disconnect clutch, while traction torques from the internal combustion engine are transmitted to the transmission via a one-way clutch. The clutch can therefore have a compact design, even at high torques, with the corresponding advantages in terms of space utilization and cost. Schaeffler showcased the unit at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt.

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Oak Ridge AMIE demo integrates 3D-printed building, natural gas hybrid with bi-directional wireless power transfer

September 24, 2015

A research demonstration unveiled at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (DOE ORNL) combines clean energy technologies into a 3D-printed building and a 3D-printed natural gas-powered hybrid vehicle to showcase a new approach to energy use, storage and consumption. The Additive Manufacturing Integrated Energy (AMIE) demonstration, displayed at DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Industry Day event, is a model for energy-efficient systems that link buildings, vehicles and the grid.

An ORNL team worked with industrial partners to manufacture and connect a natural-gas-powered hybrid electric vehicle with a solar-powered building to create an integrated energy system. Power can flow in either direction between the vehicle and building through a lab-developed wireless technology. The approach allows the car to provide supplemental power to the 210-square-foot building when the sun is not shining.

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Toyota introduces second C-HR concept at Frankfurt; based on TNGA

September 16, 2015

Toyota introduced a new C-HR Concept (its proportions place it between the B-SUV and C-SUV segments) at the 2015 Frankfurt motor show. The 2015 version follows on the first C-HR Concept, a 3-door concept introduced in 2014 at the Paris motor show. Featuring a 5-door cabin, this new design study is more closely representative of the compact crossover which is now confirmed for production; the final production model will be revealed at the Geneva show next year.

The new C-HR Concept was designed around a new platform, developed under the TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) program (earlier post), with a focus on handling and controllability, and features a new, advanced, full-hybrid powertrain.

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Mercedes-Benz unveils plug-in hybrid Concept IAA: Intelligent Aerodynamic Automobile; Industry 4.0

September 15, 2015

Mercedes-Benz unveiled the “Concept IAA” (Intelligent Aerodynamic Automobile) at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The study switches automatically from a four-door coupé with a fascinating design to an aerodynamic world record breaker with a Cd figure of 0.19 when the vehicle reaches a speed of 80 km/h (50 mph), at which point numerous aerodynamics measures alter the shape of the vehicle.

At the rear end, eight segments deploy, extending the length of the car by up to 390 mm; front flaps in the front bumper extend outwards by 25 mm and rearwards by 200 mm, improving airflow around the front end and the front wheel arches; the active wheel rims change their cupping from 50 mm to zero; and the fin in the front bumper retracts by 60 mm to improve flow along the underbody.

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Nissan introduces series-hybrid Gripz Concept leveraging LEAF platform

Nissan unveiled a new compact crossover concept, the Nissan Gripz Concept, at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The Gripz Concept is a series-hybrid system in which a small efficient gasoline engine is used to power the electric motor found in the Nissan LEAF. Nissan calls the series-hybrid system “Pure Drive e-Power”.

The powertrain combines Nissan’s various control technologies from its years of experience developing EVs. This configuration efficiently delivers smooth, swift and linear acceleration in near-silence.

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Volkswagen introduces new MQB-based Tiguan at Frankfurt; plug-in hybrid concept

Volkswagen introduced the second-generation Tiguan SUV at the IAA in Frankfurt. The second generation Tiguan is the first Volkswagen Group SUV whose design is based on the MQB platform. Volkswagen has sold some 2.6 million units of the first generation version since its introduction in 2007.

Volkswagen presented four versions of the new Tiguan simultaneously. The three production versions are the sporty Tiguan R-Line; the basic on-road model; and a version customized for off-road use. The Tiguan GTE—a concept vehicle with a plug-in hybrid drive (160 kW / 218 PS of system power) (earlier post)—offers an outlook on future development of the best-selling SUV.

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DOE to award up to $11M for medium- and heavy-duty vehicle powertrain electrification and dual fuel fleet demonstration

September 10, 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0001349 ) announcement for up to $11 million to support projects covering two areas of technical interest. The first is medium- and heavy-duty powertrain electrification; the second is a dual fuel fleet demonstration. DOE anticipates making approximately 2 to 4 awards under this FOA, with the majority of funding going to electrification projects.

Area of Interest (AOI) 1: Medium and Heavy Duty Vehicle Powertrain Electrification. The objective of this area of interest is to research, develop, and demonstrate electric-drive powertrain technologies for medium- and heavy-duty Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) and Electric Vehicles (EV) that reduce fuel consumption by at least 50% when compared to an equivalent vehicle with a conventional internal combustion engine powertrain driven on a comparable duty cycle.

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Jaguar Land Rover showcases MHEV, PHEV and BEV Concept_e demonstrators; electric Drive Module

September 09, 2015

At the CENEX Low Carbon Vehicle event in the UK, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is showcasing three Concept_e research demonstrators—a mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery-electric vehicle—including a new novel high performance, modular electric drive module (eDM) developed in-house by Jaguar Land Rover.

These are capable of producing twice the power and torque of any electric motor-generator currently in production, JLR said, and can be inserted between any engine and transmission to create MHEV or PHEV, or used alone for a BEV.

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

September 04, 2015

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

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

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

September 03, 2015

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

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

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

August 31, 2015

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

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

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

August 30, 2015

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

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

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

August 26, 2015

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

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

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

August 24, 2015

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

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

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

August 21, 2015

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

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

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

August 20, 2015

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

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

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

August 13, 2015

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

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

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

August 07, 2015

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

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

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

August 05, 2015

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

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

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

August 04, 2015

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

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

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

August 03, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 31, 2015

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

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

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

July 24, 2015

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

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

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

July 23, 2015

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

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

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

July 22, 2015

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

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

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

July 17, 2015

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

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

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

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

July 16, 2015

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

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

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

July 15, 2015

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

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

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Volkswagen launches new Passat GTE plug-in hybrid in Europe

July 14, 2015

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

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

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Lightning Hybrids’ lightweight composite accumulator for hydraulic hybrid systems

July 11, 2015

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

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

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

July 06, 2015

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

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

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

July 03, 2015

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

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

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

July 02, 2015

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

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

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

July 01, 2015

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

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

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

June 30, 2015

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

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

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

June 22, 2015

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

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

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

June 18, 2015

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

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

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

June 17, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 16, 2015

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

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

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

June 15, 2015

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

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

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

June 10, 2015

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

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

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

June 09, 2015

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

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

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Hybrid-electric powertrain for road sweepers; natural gas genset

June 06, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 04, 2015

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

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

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

May 29, 2015

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

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

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

May 28, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 27, 2015

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

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

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First Drive: 2016 Hyundai Sonata PHEV and HEV

May 26, 2015

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

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

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

May 20, 2015

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

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

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

May 17, 2015

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

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

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

May 14, 2015

Golf GTE Sport PHEV concept. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

May 07, 2015

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

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

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

May 05, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 04, 2015

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

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

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

April 23, 2015

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

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

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

April 21, 2015

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

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

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

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

April 20, 2015

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

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

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Cadillac announces CT6 plug-in hybrid for China

April 19, 2015

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

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

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

April 17, 2015

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

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

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

April 16, 2015

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

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

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

April 15, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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Efficient Drivetrains develops PHEV SUV for Asian market

April 13, 2015

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

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

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

April 08, 2015

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

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

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Nissan launches new X-Trail Hybrid in Japan

April 07, 2015

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

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

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

April 02, 2015

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

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

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

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

April 01, 2015

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

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

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

2016 RX 450h. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 30, 2015

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

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

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

March 27, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 26, 2015

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

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

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