[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.]
Canada files to define outer limits of expanded Atlantic continental shelf; preliminary filing on Arctic, targeting North Pole
December 10, 2013
|Overview of the outer limits of the expanded Canadian continental shelf in the Atlantic Ocean. Click to enlarge.|
On 6 December, Canada filed a submission to define the outer limits of its expanded continental shelf area in the Atlantic Ocean with the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. At the same time, Canada also filed preliminary information concerning the expanded outer limits of its continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean, which could include the North Pole.
In a news conference on the submission, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said that Canada will indeed try to extend its territorial claims to the North Pole. “What we want to do is claim the biggest geographic area possible for Canada.”
Volkswagen Group to invest €84.2B (US$114B) in automotive division over next 5 years; China JVs to invest separate €18.2B (US$24.7B)
November 22, 2013
The Volkswagen Group will invest a total of €84.2 billion (US$114 billion) in its automotive division over the coming five years. Investments in property, plant and equipment in the automotive division will amount to €63.4 billion (US$85.9 billion).
The Group will spend €41.2 billion (US$55.8 billion)—about 65%—of the total amount to be invested in property, plant and equipment on modernizing and extending the product range for all its brands. The main focus will be on new vehicles and successor models in almost all vehicle classes, which will be based on the modular toolkit technology and related components. This will allow the Volkswagen Group systematically to continue its model rollout with a view to tapping new markets and segments.
Daimler takes 12% stake in Chinese parter BAIC Motor; first non-Chinese automotive company to acquire an interest in a Chinese OEM
November 19, 2013
Daimler AG is taking a major step forward in its China strategy with the closing of the company’s 12% investment in long-standing partner BAIC Motor, the passenger car unit of Beijing Automotive Group (BAIC Group), one of the top automotive companies in China. This marks the first investment by a non-Chinese automotive company in a Chinese OEM.
The official closing of the transaction followed a short time after the signing of the investment agreement between the two companies in Stuttgart earlier this year and a smooth approval by the relevant Chinese authorities. Daimler’s investment will take place through the issuance of new shares corresponding to a 12% stake in BAIC Motor. With this investment, Daimler is proving its strong support for BAIC Motor’s intention to launch an initial public offering (IPO) in the future.
Study finds rates of LDV fuel consumption in US peaked in 2004; indications of peak motorization
November 16, 2013
In a follow-up study to his earlier analysis of trends of light-duty vehicle registration and distance driven in the US (earlier post), Dr. Michael Sivak of The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) finds that fuel consumption rates—per person, per driver, and per household—are declining, as are ownership and driving. The bottom line, he concludes in this third report, is that “We drive fewer light-duty vehicles, we drive each of them less, and we consume less fuel.”
Sivak examined the period from 1984 through 2011. Based on the present data, his best estimates of the current annual fuel-consumption rates are: 398 gallons (1,507 liters) per person, 585 gallons (2,214 liters) per licensed driver, 1,033 gallons (3,910 liters) per household, and 530 gallons (2,006 liters) per registered vehicle. These rates are down 16% to 17% from their peaks in 2004, except that the rate per vehicle is down 13% (from its peak in 2003).
Daimler/Renault-Nissan collaboration expanding
September 12, 2013
|The smart fourjoy introduced at Frankfurt is being developed on the basis of a Daimler/Renault-Nissan shared architecture. Click to enlarge.|
The chief executives of the Renault-Nissan Alliance and Daimler AG said during an annual briefing at the Frankfurt Motor Show that their companies’ partnership (earlier post) is advancing quickly, and the scope of the collaboration is increasingly global.
The French-Japanese-German partnership began in April 2010, with three “pillar projects” primarily focused on Europe. Since then, the portfolio has increased to ten significant projects, including major initiatives from North America to Japan. In addition, relevant business units are working together in best-practice sharing and other forms of cooperation.
Ricardo study predicts that BRIC automotive markets will be eclipsed by the “Rising-15”
September 05, 2013
|Positioning the Rising 15. Source: Ricardo Consulting. Click to enlarge.|
A study by Ricardo Strategic Consulting has concluded that while sluggish automotive demand in Europe, Japan and North America will be balanced by the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) markets through 2020, thereafter the ‘Rising-15’ nations become the engine for profitable growth—assuming political stability.
Ricardo’s Rising-15 automotive markets include: Argentina; Egypt; Indonesia; Iran; Malaysia; Mexico; Morocco; Nigeria; Peru; the Philippines; South Africa; Thailand; Turkey; Ukraine; and Vietnam.
EIA: world energy consumption to grow 56% 2010-2040, CO2 up 46%; use of liquid fuels in transportation up 38%
July 25, 2013
|World energy consumption by fuel type, 2010-2040. Source: IEO2013. Click to enlarge.|
The US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA’s) International Energy Outlook 2013 (IEO2013) projects that world energy consumption will grow by 56% between 2010 and 2040, from 524 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) to 820 quadrillion Btu. Most of this growth will come from non-OECD (non-Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries, where demand is driven by strong population and economic growth; energy intensity improvements moderate this trend
Renewable energy and nuclear power are the world’s fastest-growing energy sources, each increasing 2.5% per year, according to the biennial report. However, fossil fuels continue to supply nearly 80% of world energy use through 2040. Natural gas is the fastest-growing fossil fuel, as global supplies of tight gas, shale gas, and coalbed methane increase. Given current policies and regulations limiting fossil fuel use, worldwide energy-related CO2 emissions rise from about 31 billion metric tons in 2010 to 36 billion metric tons in 2020 and then to 45 billion metric tons in 2040, a 46% increase over the 30-year span.
UMTRI study finds US diesel vehicles generally have lower total cost of ownership than gasoline vehicles
June 28, 2013
|TCO for selected gas and diesel vehicles over a 3 year timeframe. Source: UMTRI. Click to enlarge.|
Diesel vehicles generally saved owners between $2,000 to $6,000 in total ownership costs during a three to five year period when compared to similar gasoline vehicles, according to data compiled by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI). The study—Total Cost of Ownership: A Gas Versus Diesel Comparison—was conducted for Robert Bosch LLC; the results were released at the 2013 Alternative Clean Transportation Expo in Washington DC.
The report reviewed the role diesel vehicles play in the current vehicle fleet by analyzing the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for clean diesel vehicles and comparing their TCO to their gas vehicle counterparts. The UMTRI researchers—Bruce M. Belzowski and Paul Green—built the TCO model by developing three and five year cost estimates of depreciation by modeling used vehicle auction data and fuel costs by modeling government data.
UMTRI study concludes number of LDVs in the US likely has not yet peaked
June 20, 2013
A brief study by Dr. Michael Sivak, Director, Sustainable Worldwide Transportation at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) concludes that despite the absolute number of vehicles in the US having reached a maximum in 2008, it is highly likely that—from a long-term perspective—the absolute number of vehicles in the US has not yet peaked.
However, he notes, the rates of vehicles per person, licensed driver, and household reached their maxima prior to the onset of the current economic downturn. As a result, Sivak concludes, it is likely that the declines in these rates prior to 2008 reflect other societal changes that influence the need for vehicles (such as, increases in telecommuting and in the use of public transportation). Therefore, the recent maxima in these rates have better chances of being long-term peaks as well, he suggests.
EPRI: lifetime cost of ownership of plug-ins is roughly comparable with conventional vehicles
June 11, 2013
Consumers who purchase an electric vehicle will find that lifetime costs to own the vehicle are competitive with conventional and hybrid vehicles, according to an analysis conducted by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). The study is based on pricing for the automotive products for the 2013 model year.
The baseline analysis relies on a cost-of-ownership model that examines only current vehicles; current fuel prices; and a relatively conservative set of customer values. In particular, the report analyzes the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan LEAF in comparison with a limited set of current conventional and hybrid vehicles. The EPRI analysis focused on the LEAF and Volt because the plug-in vehicles have been on the market the longest, have generated the greatest sales volume and provide data on real-world performance.
SEC issues cease-and-desist order against split-cycle engine developer Scuderi Group for violations of Securities Act
June 01, 2013
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued a cease-and desist order against split-cycle engine developer Scuderi Group (earlier post) and its president, Salvatore Scuderi, as well as a $100,000-fine against Salvatore Scuderi for violations of the Securities Act including unregistered stock offerings and “misleading disclosures regarding the use of offerings proceeds.”
The Scuderi Engine is a split-cycle design that divides the four strokes of a conventional combustion cycle over two paired cylinders. Intake air is compressed in the compression cylinder and transferred to the power cylinder for combustion. The engine has two crossover passages that connect the two cylinders, which separate the four strokes of the pistons. The combination of discrete, asymmetrically sized cylinders and fully variable valvetrain promises the ability to vary displacement ratios, bore-stroke ratios, compression-expansion ratios, compression-expansion phasing, and gas transfer phasing for engine optimization—i.e., a more efficient internal combustion engine.
Freescale S12 MagniV Mixed-Signal MCUs supporting mid-class vehicle growth in China
May 31, 2013
|Freescale’s S12 MagniV block diagram. Click to enlarge.|
China’s automotive market is now the largest in the world by volume, with some 22 million units produced last year, and expectations of 22-23 million units this year. Automobile sales alone in China posted a 13% year-over-year gain for April 2013, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
At the same time, the amount of electronic content per vehicle continues to increase as automakers add features to differentiate themselves in this highly competitive market. To help address the need for cost-effective vehicle electronic systems, the Freescale Semiconductor S12 MagniV mixed-signal microcontroller (MCU) portfolio (earlier post) offers Chinese automakers highly integrated, single-chip solutions that are reliable, easy to develop with, and energy and weight efficient, helping to reduce the bill of materials and hence, overall manufacturing costs.
National Academies issues interim report on overcoming barriers to PEV deployment
May 22, 2013
The National Academies has issued a pre-publication version of an interim report on Overcoming Barriers to Electric-Vehicle Deployment. A final, comprehensive report will be published in late summer 2014.
Given recognized technical, social, and economic barriers to widespread adoption of plug-in electric vehicles (plug-in hybrid and battery-electric vehicles), Congress had asked the Department of Energy (DOE) to commission a study by the National Academies to address market barriers that are slowing the purchase of electric vehicles and hindering the deployment of supporting infrastructure. As a result, the National Research Council (NRC)—a part of the National Academies—appointed the Committee on Overcoming Barriers to Electric-Vehicle Deployment.
Roskill forecasts increasing dependence of Li market on batteries; switch from portable electronics to hybrids
May 20, 2013
|Consumption of lithium in rechargeable batteries by end use, 2012-2017, kt LCE. Source: Roskill. Click to enlarge.|
In a forecast of the Lithium market through 2017, Roskill Information Services estimates that rechargeable batteries will, in the base-case growth scenario, contribute 75% of the growth in forecast lithium demand to 2017, when total demand for lithium is expected to reach slightly more than 238,000t lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE). Roskill is an international metals and minerals market research firm.
Batteries accounted for 27% of global lithium consumption in 2012, up from 15% in 2007 and 8% in 2002. This end-use was responsible for 44% of the net increase in lithium consumption over the last ten years, and 70% over the last five years.
Reports highlight ongoing advances in vehicle technology, consumer demand for fuel efficiency in US and Europe
May 02, 2013
|4-cylinder engines and hybrid vehicles as a percent of cars sold in the US. Source: CFA. Click to enlarge.|
Two separate reports highlight the ongoing improvement in vehicle technologies and the growing trend toward consumers purchasing more fuel efficient vehicles in the US and in Europe. In the US, the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) released an analysis—“On the Road to 54.5 MPG: A Progress Report on Achievability”—of the response of consumers and automakers as both begin to experience the effects of the newly adopted federal fuel economy standard.
In Europe, a new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) found that the average car sold in the EU in 2012 was 9% more fuel-efficient than the average three years before, due to improved technology and an increase in the share of diesel cars.
Honda and Ford separately launching smart home demos
April 24, 2013
American Honda Motor Co., Inc. will create the Honda Smart Home US, a showcase that demonstrates Honda’s vision for sustainable, zero-carbon living and personal mobility, including the use of solar power to charge a Honda Fit EV battery electric vehicle. The site is on the campus of the University of California, Davis; the building process will be documented and shared through the Honda Smart Home US website.
Separately, Ford Motor Company and KB Home announced that products from the Ford-led initiative MyEnergi Lifestyle (earlier post) will be featured in the homebuilder’s ZeroHouse 2.0 model home in San Marcos, Calif., and potentially in additional KB Home markets.
GM outlines plans for China with 17 launches this year; developing advanced propulsion and electrification tech in China
April 21, 2013
General Motors discussed its future plans in China during a press conference in conjunction with the start of Auto Shanghai 2013. GM and its joint ventures are launching 17 new and upgraded models in China this year, including the Chevrolet Cruze hatchback; the new Wuling Sunshine; two new Jiefang light-duty trucks, the S230 and F330; and the Insignia Sports Tourer, Zafira Tourer and Astra GTC from Opel.
GM is also in the process of bringing Cadillac’s entire global portfolio to China, adding one locally produced model per year through 2016. Earlier this year, it introduced the locally produced XTS luxury sedan as well as the refreshed SRX luxury SUV, which is Cadillac’s best-selling model in China.
EPA annual report on CO2, fuel economy and technology trends finds 2012 heading for all-time best; rapid adoption of new technologies
March 15, 2013
|Adjusted CO2 emissions and adjusted fuel economy, MY 1975-2011. Source: EPA. Click to enlarge.|
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its annual report summarizing key trends in carbon dioxide emissions, fuel economy, and CO2- and fuel economy-related technology for gasoline- and diesel-fueled personal vehicles sold in the United States, from model years (MY) 1975 through 2012.
Data for MY 2011 are final; data for MY 2012 are preliminary and based on projected vehicle production values provided to EPA by manufacturers. The report finds that CO2 emissions rates and fuel economy values reflect a very favorable multi-year trend beginning in MY 2005. The fleet-wide average real world MY 2011 personal vehicle CO2 emissions value is 398 g/mi and average fuel economy is 22.4 mpg (10.5 l/100 km), both slightly worse relative to MY 2010. Preliminary projections for MY 2012 are 374 g/mi CO2 emissions and 23.8 mpg (9.9 l/100 km), which, if realized, would be all-time records and amongst the largest annual improvements since 1975.
ExxonMobil: diesel will surpass gasoline as the number one global transportation fuel by 2020
March 09, 2013
|Transportation fuel mix in millions of oil-equivalent barrels through 2020. Source: ExxonMobil Outlook. Click to enlarge.|
Diesel will surpass gasoline as the number one transportation fuel worldwide by 2020 and continue to increase its share through 2040, according to ExxonMobil’s recently published Outlook For Energy: A View To 2040. The relative shift away from motor gasoline to diesel is driven by improving light-duty vehicle fuel economy and the growth in commercial transportation activity. Diesel demand accounts for 70% of the growth in demand for all transportation fuels through the forecast period to 2040.
Fuel demand for heavy-duty vehicles, the largest subsector, sees the greatest growth, up 65%, and accounts for 40% of all transportation demand by 2040. About 80% of the growth in commercial transport demand will come from developing nations, according to the forecast. Fuel for aviation and marine will increase about 75% and 90%, respectively, over the Outlook period, with their combined share growing from about 20% today to more than 25% by 2040.
European automakers welcome Obama’s announcement of comprehensive US-Euro trade talks; major focus on regulatory convergence
February 14, 2013
In his State of the Union (SOTU) address Tuesday night, President Barack Obama announced the launch of talks on a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union. The European Association of Automobile Manufacturers (ACEA) welcomes the talks, one of the elements of which will be addressing regulatory issues and non-tariff barriers such as different safety or environmental standards for cars.
The goal of the talks, said the EU in a statement, will be to move towards a more integrated transatlantic marketplace, noting that: “Currently, producers who want to sell their products on both sides of the Atlantic often need to pay and comply with procedures twice to get their products approved. The goal of this trade deal is to reduce unnecessary costs and delays for companies, while maintaining high levels of health, safety, consumer and environmental protection....The regulatory area is where the highest potential benefit lies with these trade negotiations.”
Energy 2030 outlines steps to double US energy productivity by 2030; spend $166B a year to net savings of $327B
February 07, 2013
The Alliance Commission on National Energy Efficiency Policy released a set of recommendations—Energy 2030—designed to double US energy productivity by 2030. The Commission was created in 2012 to identify solutions for increasing US energy productivity and aid in jumpstarting the economy.
To achieve the Commission’s goal of doubling energy productivity by 2030 with currently available technology and design practices, households, businesses, and federal, state, and local governments will need to invest about an additional $166 billion a year (in real 2010 US dollars) in building improvements, energy efficient vehicles and industrial equipment, and energy saving transportation systems, according to the report. This investment would both reduce the amount of energy needed to run the American economy and the price of energy for US consumers, lowering overall energy costs by some $494 billion a year, according to the analysis.
KPMG survey finds global auto execs expect ICE dominance for some time; ICE downsizing and PHEVs to receive greatest investment over next 5 years; mobility-as-a-service in cities
January 10, 2013
|Biggest investments in powertrain technologies over next five years. Source: KPMG. Click to enlarge.|
Global auto executives have cooled a bit on the prospects for e-mobility, with a majority of automakers from both developed and emerging markets believing that internal combustion engines (ICE) will remain the dominant powertrain for some time, according to the 14th Annual Global Automotive Executive Survey conducted by KPMG LLP, the US audit, tax and advisory firm.
Two-thirds (67%) of respondents believe e-vehicles will represent 15% or less of total new car sales by 2025. Nevertheless, this still represents potential sales of up to 5.7 million in China, 2.5 million in India, 3.8 million in the US and 2.1 million in Western Europe.
ACEA says that without improved conditions, unlikely full potential of e-mobility will be met; need for standards, coordinated approach to incentives, R&D support; 2–8% market penetration for next decade
January 07, 2013
The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) is warning that under current conditions, it is unlikely that the full potential of e-mobility will be met.
This is partly due to the current economic situation, with declining sales of vehicles. However, the trade association says, it is to a large extent also due to slow progress in charging standards; the fragmentation of internal market as a result of uncoordinated approach to market incentives; a lack of dedicated support for R&D; and no clear and unified vision on infrastructure.
Avis Budget group to acquire car-sharing company Zipcar in cash deal for approximately $500 million
January 02, 2013
|Avis Budget sees car-sharing as a rapidly growing component of the mobility industry, with Zipcar well positioned for the opportunity. Source: Avis Budget. Click to enlarge.|
Rental car company Avis Budget Group, Inc. has agreed to acquire car-sharing company Zipcar for $12.25 per share in cash, a 49% premium over the closing price on 31 December 2012, representing a total transaction value of approximately $500 million. Founded in 2000, Zipcar operates the largest member-based, car sharing network in the world.
The transaction is subject to approval by Zipcar shareholders and other customary closing conditions, and is expected to be completed in the spring of 2013. The Boards of Directors of both companies unanimously approved the transaction, and Zipcar shareholders representing approximately 32% of the outstanding common stock have agreed to vote their shares in support of the transaction.
Toyota agrees to fund a settlement valued up to $1.4 billion for unintended acceleration cases
December 27, 2012
Toyota has agreed to a settlement valued between $1.2 and $1.4 billion in a class action suit by Toyota vehicle owners who claim that their vehicles are prone to sudden, unexplained acceleration. The estimated settlement is the largest of this type in US history in terms of dollars paid out and number of vehicles involved. The settlement includes direct payments to consumers as well as the installation of a brake-override system in an estimated 3.25 million vehicles.
The case was filed in 2010 after drivers across the country began reporting that Toyota vehicles suddenly and unintentionally accelerated. Toyota has long maintained that the vehicles were free from electronic flaws causing the acceleration.
PSA Peugeot Citroën and General Motors to co-develop three common vehicle platform projects; launch of vehicles expected in 2016
December 20, 2012
PSA Peugeot Citroën (PSA) and General Motors have signed definitive agreements related to three of initial vehicle projects as well as to the purchasing joint venture as part of the execution of their Global Strategic Alliance. (Earlier post.)
The first common vehicle projects selected encompass platform and architecture developments in (1) a joint program for a multi-purpose vehicle for the C segment (C-MPV) for Opel/Vauxhall and a crossover utility vehicle for the C segment (C-CUV) for the Peugeot brand; (2) a joint multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) program for the B-segment for both groups; and (3) the co-development of an upgraded low CO2 B-segment platform to feed Opel/Vauxhall and PSA’s next generation of cars in Europe and other regions.
Anderman: Li-ion capacity far outstripping demand as automakers focus more on hybrids, less on full EVs
December 18, 2012
Global automotive Li-Ion battery production capacity is outstripping demand five-to-one as automakers refocus on hybrids and away from full electric vehicles, according to Dr. Menahem Anderman’s recently released xEV Industry Insider Report. Anderman is founder and chairman of the Advanced Automotive Battery Conference (AABC); the 13th annual conference is scheduled for February 2013 in Pasadena, California.
The report notes that despite heavy subsidies by governments and automakers, 2012 EV sales are coming short of meeting many automakers’ sales and production plans. Conversely, those of HEVs are in line with plans. As a result, production plans for EVs and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) for the next 4-5 years are being slashed. Anderman projects a global EV/PHEV 2016 market at around 0.6% of anticipated 2016 new vehicle sales, leaving the over-invested battery industry in a trying environment.
German automotive companies launch “clean-diesel” marketing campaign in US
December 12, 2012
Six German automotive companies—passenger car manufacturers Audi, BMW, Daimler, Porsche and Volkswagen, and the supplier Bosch—launched their first joint campaign for diesels in the US. Under the slogan “Clean Diesel. Clearly Better.” they will argue for the advantages of modern diesel passenger car technology over gasoline engines in terms of cleanliness, consumption and performance.
The new vehicle market share of light-duty diesels in the US is quite low (2.6%) compared with a diesel share of 55% in Western Europe. However, sales of diesel passenger cars by German manufacturers—representing 100% of the market in diesel passenger cars in the US—have more than doubled over the last three years. In the first nine months of the current year, around 69,600 diesel cars were sold in the USA, compared to 30,600 for the same period in 2009.