[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.]
Nissan completes 34% stake in Mitsubishi Motors; Mitsubishi joins Renault-Nissan Alliance
October 20, 2016
Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. has completed an acquisition of a 34% equity stake in Mitsubishi Motors (MMC) (earlier post) and has become its largest shareholder. As indicated in May, when Nissan outlined the deal, MMC is also becoming part of the global Alliance with Nissan and Renault. With the addition of MMC, the Alliance will be in the world’s top three automotive groups by global volumes, with sales of 10 million units in fiscal year 2016.
The investment and alliance comes in the aftermath of revelations of MMC cheating on fuel consumption testing in Japan with mini-cars and other models. Nissan was the one which first brought the discrepancies in minicar testing to light; MMC produces minicar models for Nissan in Japan.
Volkswagen Group outselling GM in China
October 18, 2016
The Volkswagen Group is having a very strong sales year so far in China. For September, deliveries were up 20.1% to 382,300 units compared to September 2015. For the nine-month period from January to September, VW Group deliveries were up 10.7% to 2,853,900 from the year before.
As a result, the Group is outselling GM, which itself has been posting record results. General Motors and its joint ventures in China delivered a September record 343,773 vehicles, up 16% year over year. For the first nine months of 2016, retail sales by GM and its joint ventures in China increased 9% on an annual basis to a record 2,718,315 units.
Cumulative plug-in vehicle sales topped 500K units in US in September
October 17, 2016
Cumulative sales of plug-in vehicles in the US topped 500,000 units in September, according to figures gathered by the US Department of Energy (DOE).
The introduction of the first mass market plug-in vehicles occurred in December of 2010 with the introduction of the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf. By the end of 2012 there were 11 different plug-in models available, and by September of 2016 there were 27 different models.
Suzuki and Toyota to explore business partnership; environment, safety, and information technology
October 12, 2016
Suzuki Motor Corporation (Suzuki) and Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) have agreed to start exploring ideas that are directed towards a business partnership.
In a joint statement, the two companies said that, given the rapid change in the auto industry, the industry is required to work not only on conventional automobile R&D, but also on R&D for advanced and future technologies in the fields including environment, safety, and IT. In addition to the R&D that is conducted by individual companies, it is increasingly important to work together with other companies on areas such as infrastructure development, as well as the establishment of new industrial standards.
Volkswagen Truck & Bus launches RIO: open cloud-based platform for transportation industry digitization
September 21, 2016
At the IAA Commercial Vehicles 2016 show in Hanover, Volkswagen Truck & Bus is presenting itself to the public for the first time as a group of strong brands: MAN, Scania, Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.
In addition to numerous new products, Volkswagen Truck & Bus is emphasizing alternative drives and connected commercial vehicles. In addition to electromobility for commercial vehicles—from the Volkswagen e-load up! to MAN’s heavy-duty distribution eTruck—Volkswagen Truck & Bus is launching RIO—a new brand bundling digital solutions for transportation & logistics into a cloud-based open platform that can serve as the “operating system” for the entire transportation industry.
Exascale Computing Project (ECP) announces $39.8M in first-round application development awards
September 08, 2016
The Department of Energy’s Exascale Computing Project (ECP) announced its first round of funding with the selection of 15 application development proposals for full funding and seven proposals for seed funding, representing teams from 45 research and academic organizations.
The awards, totaling $39.8 million, target advanced modeling and simulation solutions to specific challenges supporting key DOE missions in science, clean energy and national security, as well as collaborations such as the Precision Medicine Initiative with the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute. Exascale refers to high-performance computing systems capable of at least a billion billion calculations per second, or a factor of 50 to 100 times faster than the nation’s most powerful supercomputers in use today.
Fujitsu develops low power consumption technology for 5G
September 07, 2016
Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. has built a prototype wireless unit incorporating inter-subarray coding technology, which makes it possible to achieve high-speed transmissions, in excess of 10 Gbps, for 5G mobile wireless base stations and access points. It has achieved these high speeds while maintaining low power consumption levels on par with Wi-Fi.
In verification tests, the prototype successfully transmitted signals simultaneously to multiple devices. In order to achieve 5G ultra high-speed communications, for which development is ongoing with the aim of practical implementation by about 2020, attention is centered on technology that uses the millimeter waveband and multiple antenna elements to simultaneously transmit signals as beams to each individual device.
Volvo Cars and Autoliv to create joint venture for next-gen autonomous driving software
September 06, 2016
Volvo Cars and Autoliv have signed a letter of intent to set up a new jointly-owned company to develop next-generation autonomous driving software. The planned new company will have its headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden, and an initial workforce taken from both companies of around 200, increasing to over 600 in the medium term. The company is expected to start operations in the beginning of 2017.
The new company, which has yet to be named, will develop advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous drive (AD) systems for use in Volvo cars and for sale exclusively by Autoliv to all car makers globally, with revenues shared by both companies.
Volkswagen Truck & Bus enters into strategic alliance with Navistar, takes 16.6% stake; entry into N. America
Volkswagen Truck & Bus has formed a wide-ranging strategic alliance with Navistar International Corporation, which includes an equity investment in Navistar by Volkswagen Truck & Bus and framework agreements for strategic technology and supply collaboration and a procurement joint venture.
Volkswagen Truck & Bus will purchase from Navistar newly issued common shares representing, pro forma for such issuance, a 16.6% stake (19.9% of pre-transaction outstanding common stock) in Navistar for a price per share of $15.76 and an aggregate purchase price of approximately $256 million (or approximately €229 million at current exchange rates). To underscore the long-term nature of the alliance, Volkswagen Truck & Bus has agreed to hold these shares for a minimum of three years.
Why Wall Street is throwing billions at the Permian
August 31, 2016
by Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com
The collapse of oil prices has ground shale drilling to a halt, but the one region where drilling is still active, and even increasing, is in West Texas.
The Permian Basin is one of the last profitable areas to still drill with sub-$50 oil, and as other regions fall by the wayside, an increasing portion of drilling activity and spare investment dollars are flowing into the Permian. The rebound in the rig count in the U.S. is largely concentrated in the Permian. The West Texas shale basin has captured two-thirds of the 90 oil rigs that have been added since hitting a nadir in May.
Opinion: Could A Lithium Shortage De-Rail The Electric Car Boom?
August 26, 2016
by James Stafford of Oilprice.com
We’ve gone electric, and there’s no going back at this point. Lithium is our new fuel, but like fossil fuels, the reserves we’re currently tapping into are finite—and that’s what investors can take to the bank.
You may think lithium got too popular too fast. You may suspect electric vehicles are too much buzz and not enough real future. You may, in short, be a lithium skeptic, one of many. And yet, despite this skepticism, lithium demand is rising steadily and sharply, and indications that a shortage may be looming are very real.
OPEC’s Output Freeze: What Has Changed Since Doha?
August 25, 2016
by Rakesh Upadhyay for Oilprice.com
It’s possible that OPEC is crying wolf with hints of an output freeze next month in Algiers; but it’s also possible that they are ramping up production to take the sting out of a freeze. This is a delicate balancing act that the Saudis need to play very carefully.
The official chatter is that the OPEC meeting in Algeria from September 26 to 28 could conclude with an agreement to freeze production by the member nations, with even Russia joining forces in a freeze that may prevent further oil price erosion. But everyone’s a bit gun-shy after the false hopes of the last round in Doha—even if a freeze at levels that existed then wouldn’t have meant much either—and it’s hard to blame them. The question is, how many times can the Saudis cry wolf without forever losing the ability to leverage this chatter to affect a rise in oil prices?
Ford targeting highly autonomous vehicle for ride-sharing in 2021; new tech company investments, staffing up in Silicon Valley
August 17, 2016
Ford intends to have a high-volume, highly autonomous SAE level 4-capable vehicle in commercial operation in 2021 in a ride-hailing or ride-sharing service. To achieve this, the company is investing in or collaborating with four startups to enhance its autonomous vehicle development, doubling its Silicon Valley team and more than doubling its Palo Alto campus.
Autonomous vehicles in 2021 are part of Ford Smart Mobility, the company’s plan to be a leader in autonomous vehicles, as well as in connectivity, mobility, the customer experience, and data and analytics.
Lux: Total is leading example of oil supermajor expanding into solar plus storage and distributed generation
August 09, 2016
France-based Total is the first oil supermajor aggressively to enter new areas of business including solar plus storage and distributed generation, notes Lux Research in a new report: “Superpower Darwinism: What Big Oil Can and Cannot Do About Total’s Billion-Dollar Battery Move.”
Even though viable battery companies have become harder and more expensive to buy since Total’s $1-billion acquisition of Saft (earlier post), the oil supermajors—BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell and Total—have cash piles ranging from $5 billion to $30 billion each, despite shrinking profits since 2012 and uncertainty about timing of the eventual recovery of oil prices.
Fujitsu develops technology to enable high-speed deep learning
Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. has developed software technology that uses multiple GPUs to enable high-speed deep learning powered by the application of supercomputer software parallelization technology. This newly developed technology was implemented in the Caffe deep learning framework, where, in a test measuring learning time using AlexNet on 64 GPU-equipped computers, it achieved a learning speed that is 27 times faster than a single GPU.
Compared with before this technology was applied, it achieved learning speed improvements of 46% for 16 GPUs and 71% for 64 GPUs (according to internal comparisons). Using this technology, the time required for deep learning R&D can be shortened, such as in the development of unique neural network models for the autonomous control of robots, automobiles, and so forth, or for healthcare and finance, such as with pathology classification or stock price forecasting, enabling the development of higher-quality models.
Survey: Fuel efficiency top criterion for US buyers regardless of size of vehicle; good news for start-stop
August 03, 2016
American consumers are strongly influenced by fuel efficiency and the price of gas when purchasing a vehicle, according to a new survey conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation on behalf of Johnson Controls. Of the 1,006 people surveyed, fuel efficiency (57%) is top of mind for consumers when they go to buy any size automobile, followed closely by cost (55%) and safety (54%).
That preference is consistent with a similar survey conducted five years ago, despite falling gas prices, which are down more than 37% from the national average in 2011. The new survey also found consumers are sensitive to the price of fuel when considering a new vehicle, with 64% saying it directly impacts their purchase. This is up 14% from 2011.
TÜM study finds reduction in fuel consumption from eco-driving training, even with incentives, to be fleeting
August 01, 2016
A study of the persistence of effects of eco-driving training by a team from Technische Universität München has found that, while there is an immediate reduction of the average fuel consumption following eco-driving training along with the provision of an incentive, there is an attenuation of this effect after six months.
Further, they also found no impact on fuel consumption from purely theoretical eco-driving training—i.e., without incentives—either short-term or long-term. A paper describing their study is published in the journal Energy Policy.
Report: Uber to invest $500M in global mapping project
July 31, 2016
The Financial Times reports that Uber will invest $500 million into a global mapping project in an effort to decrease its dependence on Google Maps and to prepare for autonomous driving. The FT cited “a person familiar with Uber’s plans” as the source.
Uber has already hired Brian McClendon, formerly the head of Google Maps for more than a decade. In a post on the Uber site last week, McClendon noted that “Accurate maps are at the heart of our service and the backbone of our business.”
California releases Sustainable Freight Action Plan to transform freight system; 25% more efficient by 2030
July 30, 2016
In response to an Executive Order issued last year by California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., state agency leaders on Friday released the California Sustainable Freight Action Plan, a comprehensive document that serves as a blueprint for transforming the state’s multi-billion dollar freight transport system into one that is environmentally cleaner, more efficient, and more economically competitive than it is today.
The revised document is similar to the draft version issued in May 2016, but reflects new input provided by industry, labor, regional and local government, and community and environmental group stakeholders, who submitted more than 85 comments on the draft plan.
Opinion: Why Lithium Will See Another Price Spike This Fall
July 20, 2016
by James Stafford of Oilprice.com
So far, lithium has been the hottest metal of 2016, beating out gold, with exponential demand expected over the coming years. Although the price trajectory of the metal has been subdued in recent months, the fundamentals behind the long-term trajectory suggest strong potential for long-term growth. Price doubling from 2014/2015 was first seen in China and is now being felt worldwide, with lithium hydroxide prices from $16-20 and carbonate prices from $12-14 thousand USD per ton.
Automotive Thrust. There is no doubt as to the push that Tesla has given the current automotive transition to electric vehicles (EVs). Since 2014, when Tesla first announced the Gigafactory with Panasonic, other manufacturers have begun to take notice and take action. Volkswagen AG announced last week that it was considering LG Chem Ltd. or Panasonic Corp. as partners for several US$2-billion factories, according to Bloomberg, with confirmation expected later in the year. Previous announcements of billion-dollar investments in battery factories by Volkswagen were largely brushed off by investors as deflections from their “Dieselgate” scandal. But with LG and Panasonic in the picture, concrete plans appear to be crystalizing.
Mazda introduces SKYACTIV-VEHICLE DYNAMICS control technologies; G-Vectoring Control uses engine to enhance chassis performance
July 14, 2016
Mazda Motor Corporation is introducing SKYACTIV-VEHICLE DYNAMICS, a series of new-generation vehicle motion control technologies. The first in the series, G-Vectoring Control, will be introduced to all new-generation models starting with the updated Mazda Axela (known as Mazda3 outside Japan), which has just gone on sale in Japan. By adopting GVC, Mazda vehicles will exhibit even smoother transitions between G-forces in all driving scenarios.
Until now, lateral and longitudinal acceleration (G) forces have been controlled separately. GVC is the first technology to adjust engine torque in response to steering inputs in order to control these forces in a unified way and optimize the vertical loading of each tire to realize smooth and efficient vehicle behavior.
BMW Group expands use of additive manufacturing processes in series production; planar technologies
July 13, 2016
The BMW Group has been using components from 3D printers in series production since 2012; more than 10,000 additively-manufactured parts are built into the Rolls-Royce Phantom. The Additive Manufacturing Center at the company’s Research and Innovation Centre (FIZ) has also been using these forming processes to produce parts for the new Rolls-Royce Dawn since the beginning of the year.
The BMW Group is steadily pursuing the evolution and use of advanced additive-manufacturing methods, and says it will continue to expand the application of 3D printing in the future. Planar 3D printing technologies will enable much faster production times and more economical production.
Oil Industry Faces Huge Worker Shortage
by Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com
The rig count has rebounded from the lows seen in late May, a small indication that oil companies in the US could begin drilling anew. Shale drilling is a short-cycle prospect, requiring only a few weeks to drill and bring a well online. Because of this, the collective US shale industry has been likened to the new “swing producer”: low oil prices force quick cutbacks but higher prices trigger new supplies. In essence, shale could balance the market in the way OPEC used to.
While that notion was always a bit simplistic, one reason that US shale production won’t necessarily spring into action in short order is because the people and equipment that were sidelined over the past two years can’t come back at a moment’s notice.
Volkswagen brand says it has met 2018 Think Blue. Factory. environmental targets; environmental compatibility of car production improved by 25%
July 09, 2016
The Volkswagen brand announced that it has reached the self-defined sustainability target for production set out in Think Blue. Factory. for 2018. (Earlier post.) At the brand’s production facilities throughout the world, vehicles and components are now manufactured in a way which is 25% more environmentally compatible than five years ago.
Taking the average of the five agreed environmental indicators for the Volkswagen brand, environmental impact has been reduced by 25.3%, with energy consumption down by 24.7%; CO2 emissions by 29.1%, waste production by as much as 46.5%; water consumption by 18.2%; and solvent emissions by 8.2% between 2010 and the end of 2015. These figures are determined per vehicle or component produced.
Morgan Stanley Warns That Rising Rig Count Could Undo The Oil Rally
by Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
In an industry where anything could happen, surprises—often unwelcome—are hard to come by. Oil is exactly such an industry at the moment. No one is sure where oil is heading, near-tem forecasts range from $20 to $80 per barrel by the end of the year, and there are just too many wild cards on the scene.
So, in a sense, the news that shale producers are launching more drilling rigs is not really news at all. It was expected, the companies themselves said they are ready to start ramping-up production as soon as prices reach some more reasonable level. What’s new, perhaps, is Morgan Stanley’s warning that production from the new wells being drilled could prompt a reversal of forecasts that U.S. crude production is falling and will continue to fall.
CDC: US has highest motor vehicle crash death rate among high-income countries; could be cut in half with proven strategies
July 07, 2016
About 90 people die each day from motor vehicle crashes in the United States, resulting in the highest death rate among 19 high-income comparison countries, according to the latest Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There were more than 32,000 crash deaths in the US in 2013, with more than $380 million in direct medical costs.
Athough the US has made progress in road safety—reducing crash deaths by 31% from 2000 to 2013—other high-income countries reduced crash deaths by an average of 56% during the same period. Lower death rates in comparison countries, as well as the high prevalence of risk factors in the US, suggest that more progress can be made in saving lives, according to the CDC. Compared with other high-income countries, the US had the:
NHTSA projects 7.7% increase in US traffic fatalities for 2015 year-on-year; significant increase in motorcyclist and non-occupant deaths
July 02, 2016
A just-released National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistical projection of traffic fatalities for 2015 estimates that 35,200 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes—an increase of about 7.7% as compared to the 32,675 fatalities reported in 2014. If the 35,200 figure turns out to be accurate, this will mark the highest level of fatalities since 2008, which saw 37,423 fatalities.
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) preliminary data shows that vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in 2015 increased by about 107.2 billion miles—about a 3.5% increase. The fatality rate for 2015 increased to 1.12 fatalities per 100 million VMT, up from 1.08 fatalities per 100 million VMT in 2014—about a 3.7% increase. Fourth quarter of 2015 represents the fifth consecutive quarter with year-to-year increases in fatalities as well as the fatality rate.
3 Years Of Painful Cuts Sets Oil Markets Up For Serious Supply Crunch
June 01, 2016
by Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com
Total global oil production could decline for the next several years in a row as scarce new sources of supply come online.
According to data from Rystad Energy, overall global oil output will fall this year as natural depletion overwhelms all new sources of supply. But the deficit will only widen in the years ahead due to the dramatic scaling back in spending on new exploration and development.
CCM: China Li-ion industry booming; domestic outputs triples in 2015 to 15.7 GWh
May 23, 2016
In China, the development of alternative energy vehicles and the Li-ion battery sector are booming with the support of promotional policies from the Chinese government, according to new report from CCM, a leading market intelligence provider for China’s agriculture, chemicals, food & ingredients and life science markets. In May 2016 alone, nearly RMB2.6 billion (US$400 million) flowed into the Li-ion battery market, with Tianqi Lithium, Ganfeng Lithium and GEM CO., Ltd. putting in the most capital.
Over the past five years, the growth of electrochemical energy storage market in China has outpaced that of the global market, with a CAGR (2010-2015) of 110%—six times as high as that of the global. Among it, the installed capacity of Li-ion battery captured 66% of the market share in the electrochemical energy storage market.
What Does The Next OPEC Meeting Have In Store?
by Rakesh Upadhyay for Oilprice.com
The next OPEC meeting on the 2nd of June will act as little more than a forum for continued altercations between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The 2 June 2016 OPEC meeting will be held amid a backdrop of oil prices near $50 per barrel, a sharp drop in Nigerian production due to sabotage, turmoil in Venezuela, Saudi Arabia operating with a new oil minister, and Iran aggressively pumping close to pre-sanction levels.
OPEC interactions have become a direct altercation between Saudi Arabia and Iran, with the remaining members reduced to mere observers.
Euro Big 5 auto markets up 8.6% in April, SUVs continue to dominate; shift in segment shares
May 13, 2016
Led by strong growth in Spain and Italy, new car registrations in Europe’s Big 5 markets grew by 8.6% to 958,400 units in April 2016, according to the latest figures from JATO Dyanmics. After the UK’s traditional volume peak in March, which saw registrations rise to 1.36 million, April produced further gains across the top five European markets with SUVs driving higher volume and counting for 24.4% and 24.9% of April’s and YTD’s totals respectively. The Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) came in at 11.35 million, up from March registrations of 11.04 million and significantly higher than the 10.48 million in April 2015.
Germany continued to lead the market, with volume up by 8.4% at 315,900 units, accounting for a third of the Big 5’s total. After a relatively flat March, April saw registrations grow healthily, bringing the YTD total to 1.11 million units, up by 5.6% over January-April 2015. April’s volume for Germany was the highest since 2009. The UK also saw positive growth—despite only seeing a 2.0% rise on April 2015, last month was the best April for UK car registrations for a decade.
Nissan taking 34% stake in Mitsubishi Motors for $2.17 billion; expanding the Alliance model at a good discount
May 12, 2016
Following an MMC share issue, Nissan Motor will take a 34% equity stake in Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) for ¥237 billion (US$2.17 billion). The two companies have signed a Basic Agreement to form a strategic alliance, extending an existing partnership under which the two companies have jointly collaborated for the past five years.
The investment and alliance comes as MMC struggles to deal with the aftermath of its recently revealed fuel consumption testing cheating in Japan with mini-cars and other models. Nissan was the one which first brought the discrepancies in minicar testing to light; MMC produces minicar models for Nissan in Japan. (Earlier post.)
Ghosn: Renault-Nissan needs both high- and low-spec EVs to be player in China market; ongoing importance of gov’t support
May 05, 2016
At a press roundtable held at the Auto China 2016, Renault-Nissan Alliance CEO Carlos Ghosn observed that both Nissan and Renault had what he called “high-spec” electric vehicle offers in China: the Venucia for Nissan, and the coming Freelance Electric by Renault. He defined high-spec as models with a high-price and very good performance.
Unfortunately, he noted, these models are not selling very well in China. The China market is currently oriented toward “lower-spec” models—i.e., more affordable. Accordingly, both Renault and Nissan are working to develop high spec models that are lower cost and with more range. The two are also working very hard, in conjunction with partner Dongfeng, to introduce a low-spec affordable EV, Ghosn said.
Volkswagen again reaffirms 20 new PEV models coming across the Group; MEB development
April 29, 2016
In his remarks at the Annual Media Conference, where the Group presented 2015 results, Matthias Müller, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, said that 2016 will be a year of transition for Volkswagen, and will also see the accelerated transformation of the company.
The Group is currently working on the further development of its strategy, to be presented mid-year. This will focus on the major fields of future importance in the industry—such as digitalization, networking, e-mobility and new mobility services. Although Volkswagen is already addressing all of these fields, it will in the future do so “in a much more systematic and focused manner. Our Strategy 2025 will provide the framework for this," Müller said.
SAE technical experts: fuel cell technology has advanced significantly, FC vehicle production has begun, further cost reductions & infrastructure development required
April 27, 2016
Wrapping up the track on the commercialization of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen infrastructure held at the 2016 SAE World Congress (earlier post), a panel of technical experts agreed that while significant progress has been made with the technology, and while the first generation of consumer-available fuel cell vehicles is now being sold in parts of the US, there are still challenges to overcome with respect to the cost of the technology and the build-out of a supporting hydrogen refueling infrastructure.
The panel, moderated by Jesse Schneider, BMW, included Takashi Moriya, Senior Chief Engineer at Honda R&D; Dr. Will James, Manager, Safety, Codes, and Standards at the US Department of Energy (DOE); and Dr. Ralph Clague, Head of Motive Systems and Architecture, Intelligent Energy.
Ricardo Software to partner with Modelon to expand IGNITE simulation package capabilities
April 26, 2016
Ricardo Software will partner with Modelon to expand Ricardo’s IGNITE product capabilities. IGNITE is a physics-based system simulation package operating in Modelica (earlier post) focused on complete vehicle system modeling and simulation. With comprehensive powertrain and thermofluid component libraries, users can quickly and accurately model conventional to highly complex vehicle system models, hybrid-electric, full electric and novel vehicles.
In the upcoming 2016 product release, planned for May, IGNITE users will have instant access to Modelon’s advanced OPTIMICA Compiler Toolkit, a Modelica and Functional Mock-up Interface (FMI) based computational platform for system design.
Edmunds.com: EV and hybrid loyalty falls to all-time low
April 21, 2016
Only 27.5% of all hybrid and electric vehicle trade-ins in the US in 2016 have been applied to the purchase of another hybrid or EV, according to a new analysis from car shopping destination Edmunds.com. The rate is a sharp drop from the 38.5% of hybrid and EV trade-ins in 2015, and the findings reinforce a trend first identified last year by Edmunds that owners of alt-fuel vehicles are returning to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles in greater numbers than ever before.
Edmunds’ analysis found that a hybrid or electric trade-in is more likely to go toward the purchase of a SUV (33.8%) than another hybrid or EV. The trend is even more apparent when looking only at EV trade-ins—25.7% of EV trade-ins went toward the purchase of a SUV, compared to just 4.8% that went toward another EV.
NASA awards Aerojet Rocketdyne $67M to develop advanced solar electric propulsion system for space
April 20, 2016
NASA has awarded Aerojet Rocketdyne a $67-million contract to design and develop an Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS) for spaceflight. Work performed under the contract could potentially increase spaceflight transportation fuel efficiency by 10 times over current chemical propulsion technology and more than double thrust capability compared to current electric propulsion systems.
Such a system could significantly advance the nation’s commercial space capabilities, and enable deep space exploration missions, including the robotic portion of NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) and its Journey to Mars, NASA said.
Tesla And Other Tech Giants Scramble For Lithium As Prices Double
April 14, 2016
by James Stafford of Oilprice.com
Demand for lithium—the hottest commodity on the planet and the only commodity to show positive price movement in 2015—is poised to continue on its upward trajectory, becoming the world’s new gasoline and earning the moniker of “White Petroleum”. And the battle for market share in and around this commodity has everyone from major tech players to trend-setting investor gurus vying for a foothold.
Driven by the rise of battery gigafactories and game-changing Powerwall and energy storage businesses, the world now finds itself at the beginning of a lithium super cycle that is all about securing new supply, much of which is poised to come from lithium superstar Argentina.
US Lifted The Crude Oil Export Ban, And Exports Went Down
March 30, 2016
by Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
Just over three months after the authorities lifted the four-decade ban on crude oil exports, the US has actually exported less this year than it did over the same period the year before, when the ban was still in place.
According to Clipper Data market intelligence cited by the Financial Times, we’ve seen a 5 percent decline in U.S. crude oil export volumes since the beginning of this year. The data suggests that on average we are exporting (waterborne) 325,000 barrels per day now, compared to 342,000 barrels per day during the first months of 2015.
ABI Research: 6 transformative paradigms driving toward smart, sustainable automotive transportation
March 25, 2016
ABI Research has defined six transformative paradigms for the automotive industry over the next 25 years: the software-defined car; sensors and big data; the connected car; cooperative mobility and the IoT; electrification; and car sharing/driverless cars. While the first three phases are already underway, the latter three will start to drive the market forward within the next 10 years, according to the market research firm.
Car manufacturers are currently revamping vehicles’ electronics and networking architecture to ensure every sub-system is connected and software-defined. Moving toward the next decade, the automotive industry will achieve cooperative mobility. Cars will communicate with not only each other but also infrastructures and environments. Electrification will then change the way consumers power their vehicles. And, lastly, car sharing and driverless cars will likely lead to market consolidation.
GM 5-year growth strategy for China; 10 New Energy Vehicles in the coming mix
March 21, 2016
Between now and 2020, GM and its joint ventures plan to roll out more than 60 new and refreshed models in China, including 13 this year, with a strong focus on SUVs, MPVs and luxury vehicles.
During the period, GM and its joint ventures will roll out more than 10 new energy vehicles under the Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac and Baojun brands. They will include the Shanghai-built Cadillac CT6 Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (earlier post), which will go on sale later this year.
CCM: slowdown in China Li-ion unit output growth signals shift in market structure toward new energy vehicle applications
In 2015, China’s total output of Li-ion batteries increased by 3.13% year-on-year (YoY)—a significant slowdown in the output growth rate from the prior 5 years, according to the National Bureau of Statistics of the People’s Republic of China.
CCM, a leading market intelligence provider for China’s agriculture, chemicals, food & ingredients and life science markets, suggests that the reduction in growth rate is a signal that the market structure of Li-ion batteries in China is changing, with Li-ion batteries for alternative energy vehicles moving to dominate China’s Li-ion battery market instead of consumer Li-ion batteries.
Ford logs strongest-ever calendar year start for SUVs in US; sales bolstered by women and Millenials
March 17, 2016
Ford recorded 115,228 SUV US sales at retail through the first two months of 2016, making for the best-yet calendar year start for Ford SUVs (Escape, Edge, Flex, Explorer, Police Interceptor Utility, Expedition) ever, highlighted by a best-ever February. Sales of Ford’s utilities for January and February 2016 were up 16.1% compared to the same period in 2015. As a comparison, over the same periods, total Ford brand sales rose 8.6%, with sales of Ford cars rising 3.0% and Ford trucks up 7.6%
Explorer sales rose 18% last month over February 2015; Explorer is Ford’s best-selling SUV with millennial buyers ages 25 to 34, and the best-selling midsize SUV with women, according to Ford analysis of the most recent personal new vehicle registrations in the US from IHS Automotive. Escape, coming off a record sales year in 2015, was up 14% through the first two months of 2016, while Edge sales jumped 56%.
BMW rolls out new strategy, focusing on further advances in e-mobility and automated driving; Project i 2.0
March 16, 2016
BMW has revealed initial details of its new strategy, “Strategy NUMBER ONE > NEXT”. The BMW Group sees digitalization as an opportunity to make mobile life simpler, safer and more convenient, thereby capturing new customer groups. In the coming years, the Group will focus on broadening its technological expertise, expanding the scope of digital connectivity between people, vehicles and services and actively strengthening sustainable mobility.
BMW’s technology focus will therefore be on consistently achieving further advances in the fields of electric mobility and automated driving. Under the banner of BMW iNEXT, the BMW Group will bring new forms of automated driving and digital connectivity together with a new generation of electric mobility, lightweight construction and interior design. BMW said that it would usher in the next decade with a new BMW i model.
Euro Parliament report analyzes Industry 4.0 potential
March 15, 2016
The European Parliament has release an analysis of the Industry 4.0 Initiative—the digitalization of production processes based on devices autonomously communicating with each other along the value chain. It considers the potential of the initiative and business paradigm changes and impacts of this transformation.
The study assesses the rationale for public intervention and outlines measures that could be adopted to increase the gains and limit the threats from Industry 4.0.
$67 Oil Has All The Majors Converging in Argentina
March 13, 2016
by Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com
Argentina offers one of the few places on earth where oil companies are not suffering from the full force of the collapse in prices. Argentina regulates oil prices, a policy originally intended to insulate the public from the whims of the market, protecting people from triple-digit crude prices. But with the crash in prices since mid-2014, the effect of the regulation has reversed: motorists are now effectively subsidizing the oil industry.
Prices for light oil are set at $67 per barrel and natural gas prices fixed at $7.50 per million Btu (MMBtu). That means consumers are not reaping the benefits of cheap fuel. The higher prices they pay offer a huge lifeline for the oil industry.
BMW looks ahead to its next century with VISION NEXT 100; Alive Geometry; 4D Printing; Companion
March 07, 2016
To mark its centenary year in 2016, the BMW Group is looking further ahead than usual with a series of Vision Vehicles designed to anticipate and respond to future mobility needs. In developing the BMW VISION NEXT 100, the company said that its main objective was to create not an anonymous vehicle but one that is highly personalized and fully geared to meet the driver’s every need in an effort to retain the emotional connection between a BMW and its driver.
For the BMW VISION NEXT 100, the design team specifically took into account many of the trends and technological developments that will be most relevant to BMW in differentiating its products over the coming decades, including autonomous driving. (Absent from the presentation was a discussion of powertrain technology.)
Ford only automaker on Ethisphere Institute’s list of 2016 World’s Most Ethical Companies
Ford Motor Company is the only automaker named a 2016 World’s Most Ethical Company by Ethisphere Institute today; this marks the seventh consecutive year Ethisphere Institute has named Ford a World’s Most Ethical Company. Engine manufacturer Cummins, Inc. and Tier 1 supplier Delphi Automotive also made the 2016 list.
The framework of Ethisphere’s proprietary rating system, the corporate Ethics Quotient (EQTM), consists of a series of multiple-choice questions that capture a company’s performance. Ethisphere says that the information collected is not intended to cover all aspects of corporate governance, risk, sustainability, social responsibility, compliance or ethics, but rather is a comprehensive sampling of definitive criteria of core competencies.
Study suggests policymakers need to move beyond alt fuels hype to decarbonize transport successfully
March 02, 2016
Policymakers who want to decarbonize the transportation sector will need to move beyond the hype that has characterized alternative fuels over the past three decades and find better ways to assess and sustain promising technologies and fuels, according to a study from Simon Fraser University, Canadian consulting firm Navius Research, and the University of California, Davis.
In the study, published in the journal Nature Energy, Noel Melton, Jonn Axsen and Daniel Sperling conduct a media analysis to show how society’s attention has skipped among alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) technology between 1980 and 2013, including methanol, natural gas, plug-in electric, hybrid electric, hydrogen and biofuels. They then make recommendations that governments can follow to move past hype to support significant AFV adoption and displace fossil fuel use in the transportation sector.
Toyota restructures; product-based instead of function-based
Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) is restructuring to streamline work processes on a company-wide basis. The changes will take effect starting this April.
The fundamental goal is to create a company built around product-based organizations, rather than function-based organizations. Doing so will enable the dissolution of barriers within the company and eliminate unnecessary coordination work, thus helping to ensure that all team members’ efforts will be leveraged toward the purpose of making ever-better cars and developing a talented workforce.
J.D. Power study finds ACEN technology woes affecting vehicle reliability for consumers
February 26, 2016
Problems with technology continue to affect vehicle reliability for consumers, according to the J.D. Power 2016 US Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS). The number of problems with infotainment, navigation and in-vehicle communication systems—collectively known as audio, communication, entertainment and navigation or ACEN—has increased and now accounts for 20% of all customer-reported problems in the study.
ACEN is now the most problematic area on most vehicles and is the cause of the industry’s 3% year-over-year decline in vehicle dependability. Key findings of the study included:
President Obama proposes 50% increase in spending on clean transportation, funded by $10/barrel tax on oil
February 05, 2016
President Obama has laid out a plan for building a “21st Century Clean Transportation System”, the investment for which would be funded by a new $10 per barrel fee on oil paid by oil companies, which would be gradually phased in over five years. The President’s plan would increase US investments in clean transportation infrastructure by roughly 50%.
The President’s plan invests nearly $20 billion per year above current spending to reduce traffic and provide new ways for families to get to work and to school. The plan would expand transit systems in cities, suburbs and rural areas; make high-speed rail a viable alternative to flying in major regional corridors and invest in new rail technologies like maglev; modernize the freight system; and expand the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program begun in the Recovery Act to support high-impact, innovative local projects.
Daihatsu to become wholly-owned subsidiary of Toyota Motor; strengthening small car operations
January 29, 2016
Toyota Motor Corporation and its subsidiary Daihatsu Motor Co., Ltd. (Daihatsu) have reached an agreement whereby Daihatsu will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Toyota by way of a share exchange (expected to be completed in August 2016). Under the agreement, 0.26 shares of common stock of Toyota will be allotted and delivered for each share of common stock of Daihatsu. Toyota currently owns 51.2% of the small-car specialist.
Under a new joint strategy, Toyota and Daihatsu intend to combine their bases of operations in addition to sharing their respective areas of proficiency and technical expertise. This, the two companies said, will leverage the advantages of both brands, allowing the development of attractive products that are competitive on a global basis. The Daihatsu brand, said Toyota President Akio Toyoda, will have a position equal to that of Toyota and Lexus.
Volkswagen brand restructures development organization; distinct BEV group
January 20, 2016
The Volkswagen brand has restructured its vehicle development organization. The new organization bundles competencies into four series groups containing several model series: small; compact; mid- and full-size; and BEV.
The brand’s management intends for cross-functional collaboration to be strengthened as a result—from the concept to the end of the life-cycle for any given model, the responsibility for technology, quality, cost and deadline compliance, and the responsibility for cost-effectiveness, now clearly lie in one hand for the first time. Until now, these responsibilities were distributed across different divisions and differentiated into individual models groups as well.
IBM study finds consumers very interested in alternative ownership models for cars, self-enabling vehicles
January 12, 2016
Consumers expect to use cars differently—showing particular interest in self-enabling vehicles—though they don’t necessarily want to own one in the traditional sense, according to the results of IBM’s automotive consumer study, presented at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. This presents opportunities for automakers to apply analytics and cognitive capabilities to develop new vehicle options.
“A New Relationship – People and Cars,” developed by the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV), reports that consumers also show a high level of interest in self-enabling vehicles, or cars that can learn, heal, drive and socialize. These capabilities include autonomous, self-driving cars, vehicles that can be fixed without human intervention and the implementation of cognitive computing to learn and assimilate to the driver’s behaviors, the vehicle itself and the surrounding environment.
$10-Trillion Investment Needed To Avoid Massive Oil Price Spike Says OPEC
December 30, 2015
by Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com
OPEC says that $10 trillion worth of investment will need to flow into oil and gas through 2040 in order to meet the world’s energy needs.
The OPEC published its World Oil Outlook 2015 (WOO) in late December, which struck a much more pessimistic note on the state of oil markets than in the past. On the one hand, OPEC does not see oil prices returning to triple-digit territory within the next 25 years, a strikingly bearish conclusion. The group expects oil prices to rise by an average of about $5 per year over the course of this decade, only reaching $80 per barrel in 2020. From there, it sees oil prices rising slowly, hitting $95 per barrel in 2040.
Audi introducing Q2, new Q5 in 2016, confirms electric SUV for 2018; investing more than €3B in 2016
December 28, 2015
Audi management said that the company will continue with its high levels of investment in 2016, with planned capital expenditure to amount to more than €3 billion (US$3.3 billion). Half of the planned investment will take place at the Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm sites in Germany.
Audi plans to enter a new market segment with the Audi Q2 model next year, and will also present the the successor of the Audi Q5. In 2018, Audi will launch its first large‑series battery‑electric vehicle, based on the Audi e-tron Quattro concept. (Earlier post.) By 2020, Audi will expand its model range to include 60 different automobiles. “A significant proportion of our investment is naturally in the field of alternative drive systems,” said Audi CEO Rupert Stadler.
EIA ups total shale oil resource estimate by 13% to 419B barrels, shale gas by 4% to 7576 Tcf
December 15, 2015
The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) continues to expand its assessment of technically recoverable shale oil and shale natural gas resources around the world. The addition of four countries—Chad, Kazakhstan, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)—to a previous assessment covering 42 countries has resulted in a 13% increase in the global assessed total resource estimate for shale oil and a 4% increase for shale gas.
A total of 26 formations within 11 basins were analyzed in these 4 countries. Although these formations contain significant volumes of technically recoverable resources, there is currently no shale exploration underway in any of the four countries, meaning the new assessed resources are not yet economically recoverable.
Hyundai and Kia license Paice’s hybrid vehicle technology, ending litigation
December 13, 2015
Paice has reached an agreement to license all of its hybrid vehicle technology to Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. Paice has now licensed all or part of its hybrid vehicle technology portfolio to Toyota, Hyundai/Kia, and Ford. These three companies currently account for 90% of all hybrid vehicle sales in the United States.
The confidential licensing agreement with Hyundai and Kia brings an end to all litigation between the companies. Paice and the Abell Foundation, a Baltimore-based non-profit organization that invested in Paice, filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Hyundai and Kia in US District Court in 2012. After an eight-day jury trial earlier this year, the jury sided with Paice and Abell, awarding $28,915,600.
Oil Well Strippers Suffering From Low Oil Prices
December 10, 2015
by Michael McDonald of Oilprice.com
With OPEC breaking down and any kind of coordination among its members on price cuts looking increasingly unlikely, it now appears that oil prices could remain below $50 a barrel for a year or more. As producers confront this unpleasant reality, some will finally start to significantly curtail or even shut down operations. And that is going to severely hurt an all but invisible group; strippers in the United States.
A stripper is a small operator of very old oil wells that frequently produce less than five barrels per day of oil. These wells may not seem consequential, but there are roughly 410,000 of them in the US. Since 2002, according to the industry association for strippers [National Stripper Well Association, NSWA], these marginal wells have generated more than 2.9 billion barrels of oil and 18.8 Mcf of natural gas.
KPMG study finds autonomous vehicles & mobility services could add one trillion more vehicle miles traveled annually by 2050
November 26, 2015
Innovations in autonomous vehicles, connectivity, and mobility-on-demand will have a profound impact on consumers, particularly among younger and older people, according to a new study by KPMG. With these age groups set to embrace these technological and transformational changes, vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the US will soar by approximately one trillion additional miles per year by 2050.
According to KPMG’s research, which consisted of consumer focus groups in Atlanta, Chicago and Denver, two generations will largely drive consumer demand in the future, the millennials and the “baby boomers plus”—ranging from 45 to 75 years. However, in every age group, participants showed significant attraction to mobility on demand for specific conditions or circumstances, including safety, weather, premium experience, and leisure time.
Oil Jobs Lost: 250,000 And Counting; Texas Likely To See Massive Layoffs Soon
by Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
Crude oil just capped off a third straight week of declines, as WTI nears the $40 per barrel threshold. Goldman Sachs is once again raising the possibility of oil dipping into the $20s per barrel.
That spells more pain for the energy sector. Many companies have already slashed spending and culled their payrolls, but the total number of job losses continues to climb. According to Graves & Co., an industry consultant, oil and gas companies have laid off more than 250,000 workers around the world, a tally that will rise if oil prices remain in the dumps.
Volkswagen submits recall plan for 2-liter diesel cars to California Air Resources Board; ARB to respond
November 21, 2015
The Volkswagen Group of America (VW) submitted a recall plan to the California Air Resources Board (ARB) on Friday, responding to the violations described in ARB’s 18 September 2015 letter to VW concerning illegal defeat devices in 2-liter diesel-powered vehicles, model years 2009-2015. (Earlier post.)
The submission of the plan triggers a review by ARB of up to 20 business days of all elements of the plan. Based on ARB’s review, VW may be required to revise and resubmit all, or specific elements of the recall plan. ARB will also consult with US EPA during this process to develop a national recall plan.
Opinion: Saudis Planning For A War Of Attrition In Europe With Russia’s Oil Industry
November 18, 2015
by Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com
Russia’s central bank recently warned about the growing financial risks to the Russian economy from Saudi Arabia encroaching upon its traditional export market for crude oil. Russia sends 70 percent of its oil to Europe, but Saudi Arabia has been making inroads in the European market amid the oil price downturn.
The result is a heavier discount for Russia’s crude oil, the so-called Urals blend. Bloomberg reported that the Urals typically lands in Rotterdam, a major European destination, at a discount to Brent of around $2 or less. But the discount has widened to $3.50 lately due to increased competition from Saudi Arabia. “Oil supplies to Europe from Saudi Arabia are probably adversely affecting Urals prices,” the Russian central bank warned in a recent report.
Opinion: Political Climate Shifting Against The Oil And Gas Industry
November 10, 2015
by Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com
Oil and gas companies have had a tough time over the past year trying to weather the storm of falling oil prices. But the political and financial winds are moving in the wrong direction for the industry, raising more “above ground” problems at a time that they can ill-afford it.
Drilling oil and gas wells requires a lot of money. For companies that have seen their revenues vanish because of collapsing oil prices, access to credit is obviously critically important. But US financial regulators are growing concerned about a pile of energy debt that is deteriorating in quality. A report from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve singled out the oil and gas sector when it concluded that credit risk was rising across the United States.
Fujitsu launches Singapore field trial of AI-enhanced event-congestion-mitigation system
November 09, 2015
Fujitsu Laboratories has begun a field trial that aims to reduce congestion around major events, stadiums, and shopping centers through behavioral guidance. This field trial uses a smartphone application that, based on the expected congestion when people return home from major events, proposes behavior or how to spend time best suited to the user, and then verifies the results.
These suggestions for behavior are generated by Human Centric AI Zinrai, Fujitsu Limited’s systematic approach to artificial-intelligence. This technology works to fine-tune the details of suggestions with the goal of mitigating congestion, by shifting times of peak traffic and modes of transportation.
Opinion: Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Takes A Step Forward
November 04, 2015
by Michael McDonald of Oilprice.com
For the first time in close to a century, mankind may be about to give serious attention to a technology that has the potential to be a true game-changer in transportation.
Elon Musk famously proposed the idea of the Hyperloop a few years ago [earlier post], and suggested it could be a revolutionary method for travel based on available technology today. The Hyperloop has already created extreme controversy with skeptics citing everything from the cost of land in California to the substantial g-forces that would impact passengers being accelerated from 0 to 700+ miles per hour in a short span of time. Yet while there are reasons to be cautious about the technology, the Hyperloop should also be cheered as the continuation of a long tradition of American innovation and pushing the boundaries of the human experience.
Opinion: Stop Blaming OPEC For Low Prices
October 29, 2015
by Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com
We are a little more than a month away from OPEC’s next meeting, which will be held in Vienna on December 4, 2015.
OPEC altered the course of the oil markets last year when it decided to cast aside its traditional role of maintaining balance through production cuts. Instead it pursued a strategy of fighting for market share, contributing to an immediate rout in oil prices. WTI and Brent then went on to dive below $50 in the weeks following OPEC’s decision. OPEC is widely expected to continue its current strategy at its next meeting, and as such, no rebound in oil prices is expected, at least not because of the results of the group’s meeting in Vienna.
Day Of Reckoning For US Shale Will Have To Wait
October 25, 2015
by Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com
October has been billed as a pivotal month in which indebted shale companies would see their credit lines cut, precipitating a faster consolidation in the industry that would sow the seeds of a rebound.
But banks appear to be taking a more lenient approach than expected. A new Jeffries report says that only $450 million in borrowing bases have been cut, across more than 20 companies. That amounts to just 2 percent of available credit lines, much lower than the 15 percent reduction expected by analysts. In other words, banks are allowing drillers to continue to borrow, which could delay the inevitable balancing needed in the market.
New, faster cutting-plane optimization algorithm
October 23, 2015
The theory—and sometimes the implementation—of control systems relies heavily on optimization (e.g., earlier post)—as do many other aspects of engineering and design (e.g., earlier post). At the IEEE Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science, a trio of present and past MIT graduate students won a best-student-paper award for a new general-purpose algorithm for solving optimization problems.
The new “cutting-plane” method algorithm improves on the running time of its most efficient predecessor, and the researchers offer some reason to think that they may have reached the theoretical limit. They also present a new method for applying their general algorithm to specific problems, which efficiency gains of several orders of magnitude.
JRC report finds electric vehicles in Europe on the way to full-scale commercialization
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.