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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.]

Volkswagen Group launching major electro-mobility campaign in China; $25B on new vehicles, technologies and plants up to 2018

April 20, 2014

The Volkswagen Group is launching a major electro-mobility campaign in China—the the biggest initiative for e-mobility in China’s automotive history, said Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen AG, on the eve of the Auto China motor show in Beijing. The initiative gets underway with the launch this year of the Volkswagen brand’s battery-electric e-up! (earlier post) and e-Golf (earlier post) models.

The Porsche Panamera S E-hybrid plug-in hybrid (earlier post) is already in the showrooms in China; the Group will launch two further plug-in hybrid vehicles there next year with the Audi A3 e-tron (earlier post) and the Golf GTE (earlier post). Starting in 2016, this will be followed by two models developed specially for the Chinese market: These are the Audi A6 (earlier post) and a new mid-size limousine from the Volkswagen brand, both plug-in hybrids which are being developed together with the joint venture partners FAW Volkswagen and Shanghai Volkswagen and will be produced locally.

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Audi presents plug-in hybrid TT offroad concept car at Beijing; wireless charging

April 19, 2014

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Audi TT offroad concept. Click to enlarge.

Audi is presenting an Audi TT offroad concept at the Beijing International Automobile Exhibition. Like many of the brand's new production models, the Audi TT offroad concept is also based on the versatile modular transverse matrix (MQB). The TT concept features a plug-in hybrid drive with two electric motors and a system output of 300 kW (408 hp) and 650 N·m (479 lb‑ft) of system torque.

The show car accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 5.2 seconds and reaches an electronically governed top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph). Fuel consumption is 1.9 liters per 100 kilometers (123.8 mpg US), a CO2 equivalent of 45 grams per kilometer (72.4 g/mile). The Audi TT offroad concept can drive more than 50 kilometers (31.1 miles) solely on electric power, and has a total range of up to 880 kilometers (546.8 miles).

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Volvo Cars introducing S60 plug-in hybrid concept at Beijing show; production version in early 2015

April 16, 2014

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Illustration of drivetrain in the S60L plug-in hybrid concept. Click to enlarge.

Volvo Car Group (Volvo Cars) will reveal the Volvo S60L PPHEV (Petrol Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) Concept Car at the 2014 Beijing International Auto Show. A production version of the S60L plug-in hybrid will be launched in China early 2015 and will be produced at the Chengdu plant.

The S60L PPHEV Concept Car features the same electrification technology as the Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid, the first diesel plug-in hybrid, on sale in Europe. (Earlier post.) In the S60L, however, the diesel engine of the V60 has been replaced with a new, two-liter, four-cylinder gasoline turbocharged engine from Volvo Cars’ new Drive-E engine family (earlier post).

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Audi and partner FAW to cooperate on plug-in hybrid for China; Audi A6 e-tron on long-wheelbase A6

April 09, 2014

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The Audi A6 L e-tron concept presented at Auto China 2012 in Beijing. Click to enlarge.

Together with its Chinese joint-venture partner FAW, Audi will launch a plug-in hybrid car for the Chinese market. The Audi A6 e-tron will be based on the long-wheelbase version of the Audi A6, which is already produced in China, and will be specially developed for the China market—Audi’s “most important,” according to the company. No details on powertrain specifications or market timing are yet available, according to Audi.

The full-size sedan will offer a 50-kilometer (31-mile) all-electric range when operating solely under battery power and is to be produced within the joint venture by FAW-Volkswagen in Changchun in northern China. In 2012, Audi unveiled an Audi A6 L e-tron concept at Auto China in Beijing with an all-electric driving range of 80 km (50 miles). At that time, Audi said that with its first e-tron technology study in the luxury class, it was showing what a locally produced New Energy Vehicle from Audi might look like.

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GM investing $449M in Hamtramck and Brownstown for next-gen electrification; vehicles and batteries

April 08, 2014

In preparation for the next generation of electric vehicles and advanced battery technologies, General Motors will invest $449 million to upgrade manufacturing processes at its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly and Brownstown Battery Assembly plants.

The investment is the largest to date at both facilities and includes $384 million at Detroit-Hamtramck for new body shop tooling, equipment, and additional plant upgrades to build the next generation Chevrolet Volt and two future products. This brings GM’s total investment at Detroit-Hamtramck to more than $1 billion over the last five years.

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Among BMW’s highlights at New York Show are new diesel X3, plug-in hybrid concept X5

April 04, 2014

Making its North American debut at the New York International Auto Show 2014 will be the updated 2015 BMW X3 Sports Activity Vehicle, which will include the X3 xDrive28d, the first BMW Advanced Diesel X3 model for the US. BMW is also using the show to present the latest version of what it sees as the logical next step towards reducing fuel consumption and emissions in the sports activity vehicle SAV segment: the plug-in hybrid BMW Concept X5 eDrive. (Earlier post.)

X3. The newest X3 builds on the success of the second generation model with enhancements including new engine and drivetrain options. A new offer of BMW Advanced Diesel power for the US in the X3 xDrive28d will enhance efficiency while further reducing emissions. There will also be the first-time offer of the gasoline-engined rear-wheel drive BMW X3 sDrive28i for the US market.

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Volkswagen Group’s MQB plug-in hybrid powertrain; foundation for Golf GTE, A3 e-tron, and more

April 03, 2014

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The MQB plug-in hybrid powertrain serves both the A3 e-tron and the Golf GTE. Source: Volkswagen AG. Click to enlarge.

The first two mainstream plug-in hybrid electric vehicles from the Volkswagen Group—e.g., not the $845,000 base price plug-in hybrid Porsche 918, earlier post, or even the $100,000 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, earlier post—the Golf GTE (earlier post) and the A3 e-tron (earlier post), are both based on the same MQB (Modularen Querbaukasten, or modular transverse toolkit) plug-in hybrid powertrain.

The Volkswagen Group’s MQB modular toolkit is one of the four main modular toolkits (modularen Baukästen) of the Group: the MQB (transverse); the MLB (longitudinal); the MSB (standard drive); and the NSF (New Small Family). The toolkits standardize many vehicle component parameters across brands and vehicle classes, while at the same time offering access to new technologies, such as alternative drive systems. The new Mark 7 Golf, which is MQB-based, offers gasoline; diesel; natural gas; plug-in hybrid (the GTE); and battery-electric (the e-Golf) versions, all of which can be manufactured bumper-to-bumper on the same assembly line. The MQB spans the A0 to C segments.

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ZSW: more than 400,000 plug-in cars on road worldwide at beginning of 2014; 2x 2013

April 01, 2014

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Accumulated number of xEVs in leading global markets. Annual growth rate over the past three years is more than 100%. Click to enlarge.

At the beginning of 2014, there were more than 400,000 electric cars—battery-electric, plug-in hybrid, and range-extended electric vehicles—on the road worldwide, according to an analysis by Zentrums für Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoff-Forschung Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) in Germany. This represents a doubling from 2013, according to ZSW.

According to ZSW, the number of registered electric vehicles worldwide has increased at an annual rate of more than 100% over the last three years. At the beginning of 2012, nearly 100,000 of the cars were on the roads worldwide. This rose year later to a total of 200,000, and then to 405,000 units earlier this year.

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BYD’s Qin plug-in hybrid the best selling automotive EV in China

March 21, 2014

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2nd-generation Dual Mode (DM II) plug-in hybrid system of the Qin. Click to enlarge.

BYD’s second-generation Dual-Mode, plug-in hybrid electric sedan Qin has posted a second month of strong sales in February. Trends in March now make it “China’s Best-Selling Electric Vehicle” according to China’s National Passenger Car Association. In the first weeks of 2014, more than 6,000 Qin vehicles were sold, accounting for more than one-half of the Chinese new-energy vehicle market.

Analysts are not expecting sales to slow, as both Shanghai and Beijing announced earlier this month that they will now permit BYD new energy vehicles to qualify for local municipality green-vehicle incentives and be licensed in those regions.

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Ford installing GE WattStation chargers, charging network at facilities

March 20, 2014

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The WattStation Connect network will enable Ford to gather information on charging station use. Click to enlarge.

Ford Motor Company, in conjunction with GE, will supply electric vehicle charging stations at Ford facilities nationwide, beginning with facilities in and around its headquarters. Ford will begin installing the GE WattStation Level 2 charging stations across its North American campuses, developing a workplace charging network at nearly every Ford facility in the United States and Canada.

Ford now offers three plug-in vehicles: the battery electric Focus Electric, and the C-MAX Energi and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrids. Ford Fusion Energi and C-MAX Energi drivers typically make three of their four daily trips in all-electric mode, based on data from Ford’s MyFord Mobile app. Ford estimates that its customers now have logged 65 million all-electric miles, increasing at a rate of 290,000 electric miles per day.

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Study finds no benefit to delaying or weakening ZEV policies to drive transition to electric drive

March 14, 2014

A study by a team from the Howard H. Baker Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Oak Ridge National Laboratory concludes that starting the California ZEV (Zero Emission Vehicle) mandates five years earlier or doubling their intensity increases upfront costs but also increases benefits by a greater amount.

Similarly, the study found, delaying the ZEV mandate is estimated to reduce upfront costs, but cause an even greater reduction in the present value of benefits. Even using pessimistic assumptions about future costs of electric drive technologies, the study showed no net benefit to delaying or weakening ZEV requirements. The simulations also show the important synergies between California and US transition policies, the authors noted.

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Volkswagen: e-mobility and sustainability; Part 1, the e-Golf and Golf GTE

March 13, 2014

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The e-Golf. Click to enlarge.

In conjunction with its annual media and investor conference, Volkswagen is staging a two-week (8 - 21 March) e-mobility event at Berlin-Tempelhof. Although the company (both the brand and the larger Volkswagen Group) has been researching electromobility for a number of years; has previously outlined accelerating implementation of electric drive projects (e.g., earlier post); and currently has two battery-electric passenger cars on the market (e-Up! and e-Golf) with other plug-in models following, the event marks a very large and public stake in the ground, in terms of defining the current and future importance of e-mobility for Volkswagen.

At the event, Volkswagen is presenting its new battery electric e-Golf (earlier post), along with the battery-electric e-up! (earlier post) and a pre-production prototype of the plug-in hybrid electric Golf GTE (earlier post). Although the other electric-drive vehicles are prominent, the focus is on the new e-Golf—the first electric version of the most successful European car.

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More details on Mitsubishi’s three hybrid concepts: two PHEVs and one 48V mild hybrid

March 06, 2014

Mitsubishi Motors (MMC) is showcasing its three new hybrid drive concepts—two plug-ins and one 48V mild hybrid—at the Geneva Motor Show. The three vehicles were introduced earlier at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show (earlier post).

Concept GC-PHEV. Concept GC-PHEV (for “Grand Cruiser”) is a next-generation full-time 4WD full-size SUV, fitted with an advanced plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) powertrain. Applying Outlander PHEV’s engineering fundamentals to a much bigger, more powerful, all-terrain (where legal) high-end full-size SUV, Concept GC-PHEV develops plug-in hybrid electric powertrain technology further.

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Subaru shows VIZIV-2 diesel plug-in hybrid concept; independent rear-motor driven Symmetrical AWD

March 05, 2014

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VIZIV-2. Click to enlarge.

Subaru returned to the Geneva Motor Show with the VIZIV-2 plug-in hybrid concept. The automaker unveiled the first version of the VIZIV concept at the 2013 Geneva show (earlier post), followed by the VIZIV Evolution Concept at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show.

The plug-in hybrid system combines a 1.6-liter diesel Horizontally-Opposed direct injection turbo (DIT) Boxer engine; high-torque-compatible Lineartronic (CVT) automatic transmission; one front electric motor; and two rear electric motors with vectoring. Subaru’s new independent rear motor-driven Symmetrical AWD system developed for VIZIV-2 points to a future generation of Subaru AWD technology.

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Nissan introduces the e-NV2000 electric van

March 04, 2014

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e-NV200. Click to enlarge.

Nissan introduced the Nissan e-NV200 battery-electric compact commercial van (earlier post), the second battery-electric vehicle in its global line-up, joining the Nissan LEAF.

The e-NV200’s electric drivetrain, based on that used in the LEAF, is combined with the cargo volume of the NV200 to create a practical and versatile vehicle capable of carrying people or goods. Although based on significant elements of the two existing vehicles, e-NV200 is a bespoke vehicle with a unique part count of more than 30%. When sales start in June, e-NV200 will be available as a van or as a five-seat people carrier in Combi or more luxurious Evalia guises.

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Volkswagen to introduce Passat Plug-in hybrid “soon”; Group electrifying more than 40 more models over next few years

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

In his remarks, Winterkorn noted that Group research and development expenditure rose by 15% last year to the record value of €10.2 billion (US $14 billion), with the “lion’s share going to green technologies.” Winterkorn said that the Group was reinforcing its objective to become the world’s leading automaker, also in ecological terms, by 2018.

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Navigant Research forecasts global annual sales of wireless charging equipment for light-duty EVs will surpass 300,000 units by 2022

February 27, 2014

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Navigant projections of wireless EVSE sales. Click to enlarge.

In a new report, “Wireless Charging Systems for Electric Vehicles”, Navigant Research forecasts that worldwide sales of wireless EV charging equipment for light-duty vehicles will grow by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 108% from 2013 to 2022, reaching annual sales of slightly less than 302,000 units in 2022.

Until recently, wireless charging systems were in the R&D and pilot stages only, but now products have begun to reach the market. In 2013, Bosch announced a sales and distribution agreement with Evatran, maker of the Plugless Power system, with products scheduled to reach the market in the first quarter of 2014. Toyota has begun verification testing of its newly developed wireless battery charging system based on WiTricity technology. (Earlier post.)

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Study finds 20-25% of EV range lost as psychological safety buffer; driver assistance systems could shrink that buffer

February 23, 2014

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Adaptive control of range resources. Drivers compare the current range situation with their range level reference values, which are driven by certain trait and coping skill variables. As a result, coping strategies are adapted (e.g., drive more economically, do not use EV). This leads to a certain efficiency of range utilization. Source: Franke (2014) Click to enlarge.

Between 20 to 25% of the potential range of an electric vehicle is lost as a psychological safety buffer, according to a study by a doctoral candidate at Technische Universität Chemnitz in Germany. The results of the study, which also suggested that assistance systems could reduce the size of that buffer, were based on more than 400,000 km (249,000 miles) of user experience gathered in the research project “MINI E Berlin powered by Vattenfall”. (Earlier post.)

The MINI E project was funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. The Professorship of Cognitive and Engineering Psychology of TU Chemnitz was involved in the project from the start, alongside with BMW and Vattenfall and other university partners. During the field study a total of 79 users drove the MINI E for six months. The psychologists of TU Chemnitz conducted qualitative interviews at several points in time. In addition, questionnaires, diary methods and data loggers were used.

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Volkswagen to introduce Golf plug-in hybrid at Geneva; first deliveries in autumn

February 21, 2014

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Golf GTE plug-in hybrid. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen will formally unveil the Golf GTE—a new plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version of the Golf hatchback combining electric mobility with the dynamics of a Golf GTI—at the Geneva Motor Show next month. The GTE marks the fifth drive type for the Golf, which is already available with gasoline, diesel, natural gas, and battery-electric drives, varying with markets. Golf GTE will arrive at dealers in the first markets world-wide in autumn 2014.

The Golf GTE packages a 1.4-liter 150 PS (148 hp, 110 kW) TSI direct-injection gasoline engine with a 75 kW electric motor; combined system power is 204 PS (150 hp), with torque of 350 N·m (258 lb-ft). Using the electric motor alone, the GTE is capable of speeds of 81 mph (130 km/h); with the TSI engine as well, the Golf GTE can accelerate from zero to 62 mph in 7.6 seconds and on to 135 mph (217 km/h).

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BMW provides initial look at X5 eDrive plug-in hybrid prototype

February 20, 2014

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BMW X5 plug-in hybrid prototype at Efficient Dynamics Innovation Days 2014. Click to enlarge.

At BMW’s Efficient Dynamics Innovation Days 2014 in Germany, the company provided the first opportunities for test-driving the BMW X5 eDrive plug-in hybrid (PHEV) prototype (earlier post). BMW also presented the first four-cylinder member of its new EfficientDyanamics engine family—the 2.0-liter unit would serve as the engine component in a future production X5 eDrive PHEV—as well as ideas for future solutions in the field of lightweight design, aerodynamics and thermal management.

Powertrain technology is key to BMW’s EfficientDynamics strategy, with a dual focus on the continuous evolution of conventional internal combustion engines on the one hand and the development of alternative drive concepts on the other. As well as achieving significant emissions reductions based on continuous evolutionary advances of the TwinPower Turbo gasoline and diesel engines, future BMW core brand models will also benefit from the transfer of new electrified drive technology (BMW eDrive) developed by the BMW i sub-brand.

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Study finds that EV-specific factors rather than socio-demographic variables better predictors of EV uptake

February 19, 2014

A study by researchers at the Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands) examining the impact of financial incentives and other socio-economic factors on electric vehicle (both plug-in hybrids and battery electrics) adoption in 30 countries found that financial incentives; the number of charging stations (corrected for population); and the presence of a local manufacturing facility were positive and significant in predicting EV adoption rates for the countries studied.

Of those, charging infrastructure was the best predictor of a country’s EV market share. However, the team cautions in their paper in Energy Policy, descriptive analyses indicated how country-specific factors such as government procurement plans or the target recipient of subsidies can significantly affect the adoption rate. In other words, neither financial incentives nor charging infrastructure ensure high electric vehicle adoption rates. However, on the whole, they conclude, the analysis tentatively endorses financial incentives and charging infrastructure as a way to encourage EV adoption.

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Toyota to begin wireless vehicle charging system verification testing

February 13, 2014

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) will begin verification testing of its newly developed wireless battery charging system for plug-in electric vehicles—such as plug-in hybrids and battery-electric vehicles—in late February in Aichi Prefecture, Japan. The system can charge a vehicle parked in alignment over a coil on the surface of the ground, making the charging process simpler and more convenient.

The charging system uses magnetic-resonance technology, which transmits electricity by utilizing the magnetic resonance resulting from changes in magnetic field intensity between a coil on the ground that transmits and a coil on the vehicle that receives.

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IHS Automotive forecasts global production of plug-in vehicles to rise by 67% this year

February 04, 2014

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Global electric vehicle production forecast for 2014. Source: IHS Automotive. Click to enlarge.

Driven by tighter emission standards in Europe, worldwide production of plug-in electric vehicles(PEVs)—including both battery-electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models—will increase by 67% this year, according to IHS Automotive, driven by Polk. The jump in the PEV market this year contrasts with an expected 3.6% rise in global manufacturing of all motor vehicles expected in 2014.

Total production of PEVs is projected to rise to more than 403,000 this year, up from slightly more than 242,000 in 2013. Growth will accelerate sharply from the 44% increase in 2013, based on data from the new IHS Automotive Hybrid-EV Portal. In December 2013, IHS projected total global automotive sales in 2014 of 85 million, roughly resulting in an expected approximate 0.5% share for PEVs in the global market this year.

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China Yuchai introduces 8 new diesel engines for on-road and off-road applications; plug-in hybrid model

January 27, 2014

China Yuchai International Limited’s main operating subsidiary, Guangxi Yuchai Machinery Company Limited (GYMCL), unveiled 8 new engine models for truck, construction and marine applications.

To better meet the needs of the truck and bus markets in China, several new engine models were introduced, all meeting the National IV emission standards (comparable to Euro IV). The new YC4E-48 is a light-truck diesel engine for urban logistical uses, special purpose vehicles and other vehicles focused on short- to mid-range transportation. This model uses a two-valve cylinder head combined with a Bosch common rail system paired with EGR, DOC and POC technologies. Its power range covers 103-118 kW (138-158 hp).

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CMU researchers find controlled charging of PHEVs can cut cost of integration into electricity system by 54-73%; higher benefits with wind power

January 24, 2014

In a new study published in the journal Applied Energy, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) researchers found that controlled charging of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) reduces the costs of integrating the vehicles into an electricity system by 54–73% depending on the scenario.

More specifically, controlled charging can cut the cost of integrating PHEVs approximately in half. The magnitude of these savings is ~5% to 15% higher in a system with 20% wind penetration compared to a system with no wind power, and the savings are 50–60% higher in a system that requires capacity expansion.

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DOE to award $49.4M for advanced vehicle technologies research; meeting Tier 3 emissions

January 22, 2014

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award $49.4 million to projects to to accelerate research and development of new vehicle technologies. The new program-wide funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0000991) (earlier post), was announced by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz at the Washington Auto Show.

The funding opportunity will contains a total of 13 areas of interest in the general areas of advanced light-weighting; advanced battery development; power electronics; advanced heating, ventilation, air conditioning systems; advanced powertrains (including the ability to meet proposed EPA Tier 3 tailpipe emissions standards); and fuels and lubricants. These areas of interest apply to light, medium and heavy duty on-road vehicles.

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Mayor of London: all new London taxis will need to be zero-emission capable from 2018

January 16, 2014

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, announced plans that would require all new taxis presented for licensing in the capital to be zero-emission capable from 1 January 2018, with the expectation that they will automatically operate in zero-emission mode while in areas where the capital’s air quality is at its worst—such as parts of central London.

The Mayor confirmed his plan at Transport for London’s (TfL’s) “New Taxis for London” event, at which he met five manufacturers developing zero emission capable taxis—Frazer-Nash, Nissan, Karsan, London Taxi Company and Mercedes-Benz. The new zero-emission capable taxis being developed include both plug-in full series hybrid vehicles and full electric models.

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Comprehensive modeling study finds electric drive vehicle deployment has little observed effect on US system-wide emissions

January 15, 2014

The results of a new, comprehensive modeling study characterizing light-duty electric drive vehicle (EDV) deployment in the US over 108 discrete scenarios do not demonstrate a clear and consistent trend toward lower system-wide emissions of CO2, SO2, and NOx as EDV deployment increases.

As explained in their paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, the researchers from North Carolina State Univesity and the University of Minnesota found that, while the scenario parameters can influence EDV deployment—even to a most extreme scenario of adoption—this EDV deployment does not in turn produce a discernible effect on total system-wide emissions. There are three reasons for this lack of observed effect, they concluded: (1) at present the overall share of emissions from the LDV sector is only 20% of US CO2 emissions; (2) EDV charging can still produce comparable emissions to conventional vehicles depending on the grid mix; and (3) the effect of other sectors on emissions is significant.

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BYD launches Qin plug-in hybrid in China

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BYD Qin. Click to enlarge.

BYD has officially launched its Qin plug-in hybrid in China; the performance-based hybrid car is intended to target key world markets. European availability of a similar but probably renamed model is planned for early 2015.

The dual mode Qin can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 5.9 seconds and has a top speed of 185 km/h (115 mph) with a claimed overall fuel consumption of up to 1.6 L/100 km (147 mpgUS). The Qin can be driven in pure electric mode for up to 70 km (44 miles). For long distance journeys the car uses its 1.5TID gasoline engine.

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Audi wheeling out all-road shooting brake plug-in hybrid concept at Detroit show; the first e-tron quattro

January 12, 2014

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Shooting brake concept. Click to enlarge.

Audi will unveil an all-road shooting brake plug-in hybrid concept at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. The two-door car is a crossover; its hybrid drive demonstrates a new form of quattro drive—the e-tron quattro.

The Audi allroad shooting brake represents the first time that Audi has combined the all-road and e-tron form languages. The compact crossover plug-in hybrid has a low fuel consumption figure of 1.9 liters of fuel per 100 km (123.8 mpgUS), equivalent to 45 g CO2 per km (72.42 g/mile) based on the relevant ECE standard. Its total driving range is up to 820 km (510 miles).

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CAR report quantifies automotive’s position as a leading high-tech industry

January 08, 2014

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Percentage of Global R&D Spending by Industry, 2013. Source: Booz & Company “Global Innovation”; Battelle R&D Magazine; Center for Automotive Research 2012. Click to enlarge.

A newly-released report by the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) concludes that the automotive industry is not only “high-tech,” it is frequently a leader in technological developments and applications. The report, supported by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, measures the technological nature of today’s auto industry and compares it to other sectors of the economy often viewed as technologically advanced.

The report authors acknowledge the difficulty of defining “high-tech” in an ever-changing economic environment. After reviewing of the works of several researchers and government agencies, CAR developed a working definition to differentiate high-tech industries from other sectors. Broadly, high-tech industries generally have the following characteristics:

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Navigant Research forecasts new EV global sales of > 346,000 units in 2014; 10 predictions for the year

During 2014, the global plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) industry is poised to grow by 86% and will surpass more than 346,000 new vehicles sold, according to a new white paper—“Electric Vehicles: 10 Predictions for 2014”—published by Navigant Research. This would bring the global total of PEVs on the road to more than 700,000 by the end of the year, according to the firm’s calculations.

Broadly, Navigant expects expansion in both the higher end of the market (thereby putting competitive pressure on Tesla Motors), as Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Mercedes, Saab, and Volvo introduce their first plug-in cars. More mainstream models will come from Kia, Mahindra, Škoda, and Volkswagen. North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific will continue to drive PEV sales, as the technology will have only limited availability in the emerging markets of Latin America and Africa.

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Researchers call for major change in US policies supporting plug-ins; failure of “mainstream consumer bias”

January 06, 2014

Although sales of plug-in vehicles (plug-in hybrid-electric and battery-electric vehicles, collectively PEVs) in the US climbed more than 80% in 2013 to more than 96,000 units (Tesla has not yet released its final figures) from 52,835 units in 2012 EDTA), the 2013 results still reflect a meagre new light-duty vehicle market share of ~0.6% for PEVs.

In a paper published in the journal Energy Policy, Erin Green of Green Energy Consulting; Steven Skerlos of the University of Michigan; and James Winebrake of the Rochester Institute of Technology argue that current US policies intended to promote the uptake of plug-in electric vehicles haven proven inefficient and ineffective. Suggesting that “mainstream consumer bias” is an explanation for the policy deficiencies that have resulted in slower than expected market penetration of PEVs, they propose an alternative policy agenda including the leveraging of strategic market niches, targeted R&D and incentives, and loans.

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Swiss WTW study finds important role for alternative fuels as well as alt drivetrains in move to low-emissions vehicles

January 03, 2014

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WTW energy demand and GHG emissions for EV and PHEV drivetrains for various electricity sources; gasoline ICE vehicle is solid square, hybrid the hollow square. Click to enlarge.

A comprehensive analysis of well-to-wheel (WTW) primary energy demand and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the operation of conventional and alternative passenger vehicle drivetrains in Switzerland has concluded that alternative combustion fuels—not only alternative drivetrains such as PEVs or FCVs—play an important role in the transition towards low-emission vehicles.

The study by a team at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, reported in the Journal of Power Sources, is novel in three respects, the researchers said. First, it considers the performance of both mature and novel hydrogen production processes, multiple electricity generation pathways and several alternative drivetrains. Second, it is specific to Switzerland. Third, the analysis offers a novel comparison of drivetrain and energy carrier production pathways based on natural resource categories.

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Ford unveils C-MAX Solar Energi concept; “plug-in” hybrid not dependent on electric grid can fully recharge from sun

January 02, 2014

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Ford’s C-MAX Solar Energi concept combines a rooftop solar panel with an off-board solar concentrator—essentially an inexpensive Fresnel lens canopy. The vehicle moves beneath the canopy during the day to maintain maximum concentrated solar irradiance. Click to enlarge.

Ford Motor Company announced the C-MAX Solar Energi Concept, a sun-powered hybrid vehicle that can deliver the efficiency of a plug-in hybrid without depending on the electric grid for recharging. Instead of recharging its battery from an electrical outlet, Ford C-MAX Solar Energi Concept uses a special Fresnel lens-based solar concentrator as a stationary canopy working with solar panels on the vehicle roof to recharge directly from the sun.

The concept vehicle uses a day’s worth of sunlight to deliver the same performance as the conventional C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid (earlier post), which draws its power from the electric grid. Ford C-MAX Energi gets a combined EPA-estimated 108 MPGe city and 92 MPGe highway, for a combined 100 MPGe. C-MAX Solar Energi Concept, which will be shown at the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas, is a collaborative project of Ford, SunPower Corp. and Georgia Tech.

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Audi to unveil Audi Sport quattro laserlight concept plug-in hybrid at CES; 700 hp and 94 mpg

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Audi Sport quattro laserlight concept. Click to enlarge.

Audi will present the Audi Sport quattro laserlight plug-in hybrid concept at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) from 6 to 10 January in Las Vegas. The coupe represents a new evolutionary stage of the Sport quattro concept (earlier post).

The e-tron powertrain delivers 515 kW (700 hp) of system power with 2.5 l/100 km (94.09 US mpg) fuel economy, equivalent to CO2 emissions of 59 g/km (94.95 g/mile); higher performance laser headlights; and new user control and display interfaces and lighting technology. The plug-in hybrid system torque is 800 N·m (590 lb-ft). Power flows via a modified eight-speed tiptronic to the quattro drivetrain, which features a sport differential at the rear axle. The combustion engine is a four-liter V8 with biturbo charging; it produces 412 kW (560 hp) of power and 700 N·m (516 lb-ft) of torque. The cylinder on demand (COD) system, which deactivates four cylinders under part load and a start-stop system contribute to the engine’s efficiency.

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DOE to issue FY14 Vehicle Technologies program-wide funding opportunity announcement

December 20, 2013

The Department Of Energy (DOE), Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) intends to issue, on behalf of its Vehicle Technology Office (VTO), a program-wide Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0000991) for fiscal year 2014 on or about January 2014. The advance notice (DE-FOA-0001053) is to alert interested parties of the coming FOA.

The areas of interest outlined in the notice of intent (NOI) fall into two broad categories: technologies to advance plug-in electric vehicles; and technologies to improve fuel efficiency, including dual-fuel, fuel properties (e.g., high octane fuels), and advanced powertrain work.

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Two case studies outline how Houston and Loveland are saving money with EVs in their fleets

December 17, 2013

The Electrification Coalition released two case studies outlining how two cities—Houston, Texas and Loveland, Colorado—are saving money by using electric vehicles (EVs) in their vehicle fleets. The Electrification Coalition, launched in November 2009, is committed to promoting policies and actions that facilitate the deployment of electric vehicles on a mass scale in order to combat the economic, environmental, and national security threats posed by US dependence on petroleum. (Earlier post.)

City officials in Houston estimate that the city’s 27 Nissan LEAF electric vehicles will save the city $110,000 annually compared to internal combustion engine vehicles. A similar study examining Loveland, Colo. found that the city’s LEAFs will cost 41% less to own and operate than gasoline-powered vehicles.

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New Mercedes-Benz C-Class drops weight, adds new engines, diesel hybrid, w/ plug-in to come; up to 20% cut in fuel consumption

December 16, 2013

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The new C-Class. Click to enlarge.

Mercedes-Benz has launched its new C-Class, featuring a lightweight design concept with weight savings of up to 100 kg (220 lbs); excellent aerodynamics; and new, economical engines along with a hybrid model. The C-Class is the top-selling model series from Mercedes-Benz; sales of the preceding model, which was launched in 2007, total more than 2.4 million.

Ordering for the C-Class sedan have begun in Europe, with the model range initially comprising the C180, the C200; and the diesel C220 BlueTEC. All are equipped with the ECO start/stop function and comply with the Euro 6 emissions standard. They also cut fuel consumption by up to 20% compared with the preceding model. The US market launches with two C-Class models: C300 4MATIC and C400 4MATIC.

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EIA: light duty vehicle energy consumption to drop 25% by 2040; increased oil production, vehicle efficiency reduce US oil and liquid imports

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Energy consumption by light-duty vehicles in the United States, AEO2013 and AEO2014, 1995-2040 (quadrillion Btu). LDV energy consumption declines in AEO2014 Reference case from 16.0 quadrillion Btu in 2012 to 12.1 quadrillion Btu in 2040, compared with 13.0 quadrillion Btu in 2040 in the AEO2013 Reference case. Source: EIA. Click to enlarge.

Reflecting slow growth in travel and accelerated vehicle efficiency improvements, US light-duty vehicle (LDV, cars and light trucks) energy use will decline sharply between 2012 and 2040, according to the US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA’s) Annual Energy Outlook 2014 (AEO2014) Reference case released today.

AEO2014 includes a new, detailed demographic profile of driving behavior by age and gender as well as new lower population growth rates based on updated Census projections. As a result, annual increases in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in LDVs average 0.9% from 2012 to 2040, compared to 1.2% per year over the same period in AEO2013. The rising fuel economy of LDVs more than offsets the modest growth in VMT, resulting in a 25% decline in LDV energy consumption decline between 2012 and 2040 in the AEO2014 Reference case.

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INL releases results of testing of Evatran Plugless 3.3 kW Level 2 wireless charging system

December 11, 2013

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System efficiency at 100mm gap for 3.3kW output plotted against primary coil position relative to secondary coil (mm). Source: INL. Click to enlarge.

Idaho National Laboratory researchers recently released independent testing results of a wireless charging system designed for plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). The system tested, Evatran’s Plugless 3.3 kW Level 2 Charging System, uses inductive technology to wirelessly charge a PEV’s traction battery, which powers the vehicle. The Plugless system is the first wireless power transfer technology to be independently documented and published.

INL researchers performed 2,600 separate tests of Evatran’s Plugless Level 2 Charging System, which included testing at different distances and varying alignments, said Jim Francfort, INL’s principal investigator for advanced technology vehicles. INL continues to conduct independent testing of PEVs and charging systems.

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Honda joins vehicle-to-grid technology demonstration project in partnership with University of Delaware and NRG Energy

December 05, 2013

Honda has joined a demonstration project for experimental vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology aimed at providing a potentially valuable energy storage resource to the electrical grid while providing for more cost-effective ownership of plug-in electric vehicles.

The Honda technology builds off of the research conducted by the University of Delaware and now supported by NRG Energy, Inc. through their eV2g joint venture (earlier post). eV2g came online early in 2013 with the first revenue-generating vehicle-to-grid project, demonstrating the controls, regulatory requirements, and market participation rules for selling energy storage from vehicles into the PJM Interconnection Regulation Market. (Earlier post.)

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Anderman report sees strongest growth for full-hybrid systems; Li-ion batteries for hybrids may be in short supply

November 22, 2013

Low-cost 14V micro hybrid systems and full (strong) hybrid (i.e., systems with limited electric drive) architectures at 140-300V are entering strong growth phases, while the future of intermediate systems—those falling between the high-voltage full hybrids and the low-voltage stop-start systems—is less clear, according to “Assessing the Future of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles: The 2014 xEV Industry Insider Report” by Dr. Menahem Anderman of Advanced Automotive Batteries (AAB), to be released next week.

The 170-page report also finds that while the combined global EV and plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) market share is expected to grow to about 1.5% of total vehicle sales by 2020, the more significant story is the rapid expansion of strong-hybrid vehicles led by Toyota, Ford, and Honda, followed by Hyundai, Nissan and others. The current market share in Japan already exceeds 20%, and the world market share is estimated to exceed 5% by 2020.

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Audi of America officially introduces the new A3 family; plug-in hybrid version coming in 2015

November 20, 2013

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The A3 e-tron plug-in hybrid. Click to enlarge.

Audi of America officially announced plans today for the arrival in the US of the new A3 family of premium compact cars, with three body styles, five new engines and seven variants including its plug-in hybrid model. Audi first revealed the A3 Sportback e-tron at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show earlier this year. (Earlier post.)

This new A3 lineup begins with the A3 sedan, which goes on sale in the spring of 2014. The A3 sedan plays a pivotal role in the soon to be expanding Audi A3 family and will be priced from a base MSRP of $29,900. It will be joined later in the fall of 2014 by the Audi A3 Cabriolet; A3 TDI clean diesel sedan; the high-performance S3 sedan; and in early 2015, the A3 Sportback e-tron gasoline electric plug-in hybrid (PHEV).

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Volkswagen combines XL1 powertrain with up! for the twin up! concept plug-in diesel hybrid; 214 mpg

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Introducing the twin up! Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen presented the twin up! concept car at the Tokyo Motor Show. Equipped with a plug-in hybrid system from the super-efficient XL1 (earlier post), the four-seater based on the up! city car achieves combined fuel consumption of 1.1 liters per 100 km (214 mpgUS) (NEDC), with corresponding CO2 emissions of 27 g/km.

All new Volkswagen vehicles are configured to accept alternative drive systems as well as conventional ones, making installation of the compact XL1 plug-in hybrid system in the twin up! relatively easy. The only modification made in the production version was to lengthen the up!’s extremely short front overhang by 30 mm. The drive unit of the twin up! (system power: 55 kW) is mounted at the front of the car. It comprises a two-cylinder 0.8L TDI (35 kW); electric motor (35 kW); a 7-speed DSG (DQ200E) and the power electronics.

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Inaugural PlugInsights report highlights need to expand public fast charging

November 15, 2013

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The study shows that home charging is dominant. Data: PlugInsights. Click to enlarge.

Electric vehicle software and information services company Recargo Inc., has launched a plug-in vehicle (PEV) research firm—PlugInsights—which released an inaugural report addressing the experiences, behaviors and opinions around charging a plug-in vehicle in America.

The sample for the study was drawn from PlugInsights’ PEV panel, comprising more than 3,700 plug-in drivers of 17 different vehicle makes and models of plug-in hybrid, mid-range battery-electric vehicles and long-range battery electric vehicles (the Teslas), mathematically modeled to reflect the “real world”. The growing panel will be the data source for upcoming PEV studies, and will be used for custom survey and focus group research with PlugInsights clients.

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SAE task force agrees on frequency of operation and power classes for wireless power transfer for light-duty plug-in vehicles

SAE International J2954 Task Force for Wireless Power Transfer (WPT) of Light Duty, Electric and Plug-in Electric Vehicles, has agreed upon two key factors for the Technical Information Report (TIR) on interoperability for the first phase of pre-commercial development: a common frequency of operation (85 kHz) and the definition of three power classes for light duty vehicles: WPT 1, 2 and 3.

Made up of OEMs, WPT Suppliers, industry experts and government representatives, the Task Force plans to complete the TIR in early 2014. The SAE Technical Information Report will be followed by publication of SAE J2954 Standard, based on field data confirmation.

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NCSU team proposes new system for dynamic wireless EV charging

Researchers from North Carolina State University are proposing a new topology appropriate for dynamic wireless charging—i.e., wireless charging on the go. Currently, at peak efficiency, the new system can transmit energy at a rate of 0.5 kilowatts (kW). The team’s goal is to move from 0.5 kW into the 50 kW range.

The system, outlined in a paper published in IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics, features a transmitter made from segmented multiple coils, each of which broadcasts a low-level electromagnetic field and is powered by a single inverter. A receiver coil that is the same size as each of the transmitter coils is placed in a car or other mobile platform. (The size of the coils is important, because coils of the same size transfer energy more efficiently.)

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Field test shows Volvo Buses’ plug-in hybrid reduces fuel consumption by 81% and energy consumption by 61%; 21 mpg

November 14, 2013

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Volvo Bus’ plug-in hybrid. The pantograph for rapid charging can be seen on the roof. Click to enlarge.

Field tests being conducted in Gothenburg show that Volvo Buses’ plug-in hybrid reduces fuel consumption by 81% and total energy consumption (diesel plus electricity) by 61% compared to a comparable Euro 5 diesel bus. (Earlier post.)

The field test in Gothenburg began in June 2013 and includes three plug-in hybrid buses, the batteries of which are rapidly recharged at the terminals. This makes it possible for the buses to run on electric power for most of the route.

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CMU study finds limited dedicated residential parking and charging a significant barrier to mainstream EV adoption

November 12, 2013

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Selected forecasts of US PEV sales with barriers to fleet penetration from limited residential charging infrastructure. Traut et al. Click to enlarge.

An analysis by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University of parking and charging availability for electric vehicles in the US has concluded that limited availability of dedicated residential parking—and hence charging opportunities—is a significant barrier to mainstream electric vehicle adoption. The study, which was funded in part by grants from the National Science Foundation, CMU’s Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research, General Motors, Ford and Toyota, is to appear in the journal Transportation Research (Part D).

The team, led by Professor Jeremy Michalek, assessed existing and potential charging infrastructure for plug-in vehicles in US households using data from the American Housing Survey and the Residential Energy Consumption Survey. The team found that while approximately 79% households have off-street parking for at least some of their vehicles, only an estimated 56% of vehicles have a dedicated off-street parking space—and only 47% at an owned residence. Only approximately 22% vehicles currently have access to a dedicated home parking space within reach of an outlet sufficient to recharge a small plug-in vehicle battery pack overnight.

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Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Mitsubishi to provide financial assistance for EV charging infrastructure in Japan

Toyota Motor Corporation, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Honda Motor Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation have agreed on the details of specific financial assistance they will provide to installers of charging stations for electric vehicles (PHVs, PHEVs, and EVs). This announcement follows an agreement the four companies announced in July jointly to promote the construction of a user-friendly network of charging infrastructures. (Earlier post.)

In order for electric vehicles to become widely adopted, the partners point out, it is imperative that charging infrastructure be made widely available as quickly as possible. By assisting installers with the part of their costs not covered by government subsidies, the four companies intend to promote wider availability of chargers to make electric vehicle use more convenient.

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GFEI report suggests $2T savings from fuel economy improvements in ICE vehicles through 2025 can help fund long-term transition to plug-ins

November 08, 2013

Fuel economy improvements from conventional internal combustion engine cars can save an estimated $2 trillion in fuel costs through 2025—and more in years after—according to a new working paper published by the Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI) prepared by Dr. Lew Fulton, Co-Director, NextSTEPS Program at the Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California at Davis.

The GFEI, a partnership of international agencies and top energy policy experts, suggests that these cost savings could in part be used to help offset the costs of developing a global market for electric vehicles over this time frame, since the savings are estimated to be at least four times bigger than these costs.

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DOE Inspector General criticizes agency’s handling of disclosures over Ecotality awards

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has issued a report concluding that DOE “had not fully disclosed known concerns regarding Ecotality’s ability to meet its EV project obligations” to the Office of Inspector General prior to completion of an earlier audit, and thus prior to Ecotality’s bankruptcy filing in September. (Earlier post.)

The OIG concluded that DOE had not provided information that raised questions about Ecotality’s ability to meet its project goals, including completing planned EV charger installations and the collection of EV usage data—even though the data had a “readily apparent” connection to the OIG audit then underway.

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Ford takes lead with plug-in hybrid sales in US in October; 34% of market

November 05, 2013

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Monthly sales of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in 2013 in the US. The Ford line (blue) represents combined sales of the Fusion and C-MAX Energi models. Click to enlarge.

With a significant increase in monthly sales for each unit, Ford took the top spot in plug-in hybrid vehicle sales in October with the C-MAX Energi (1,092 units) and the Fusion Energi (1,087) units posting a combined 2,179 units for the month. This represented 34% of the total plug-in hybrid market

The combination of the two PHEV Energi models pushed Ford just beyond the second-place Prius PHV (2,095 units, for 33% of the market) and the third-place Volt (2,022 units, for 32% of the market.) The Honda Accord PHEV was a distant fourth (71 units.)

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NSF awards Univ. of Maryland and Genovation $438K to develop novel hybrid energy storage system for EVs

October 29, 2013

The National Science Foundation has selected a project by researchers at the University of Maryland and their partners from Genovation Cars (earlier post) for a $438,418 GOALI (Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry) award to develop a novel hybrid energy storage system for electric vehicles.

The specific objectives of the project—“Advanced Silicon Carbide based Novel Hybrid Energy Storage System for Plug-In Electric Vehicles”—are to: (a) reduce the weight of the energy storage system (composed of high energy-density battery pack, ultracapacitor pack and a DC/DC converter) to less than the weight of a high power-density battery pack alone, while increasing the battery lifetime; and (b) implement, develop, and validate this technology on the powertrain of a new electric car.

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Governors of 8 states sign MoU to put 3.3M zero-emission vehicles on roads by 2025; 15% of new vehicle sales

October 24, 2013

The governors of 8 states—California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont—have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to take specific actions to put 3.3 million zero emission vehicles on the roads in their states by 2025, along with the refueling infrastructure required to support those vehicles. Zero-emission vehicles include battery-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel-cell-electric vehicles; the technologies can be applied in passenger cars, trucks and transit buses.

The 3.3 million ZEVs would represent a new vehicle market penetration for the group of states of about 15%, said Mary Nichols, Chairman of the California Air Resources Board (ARB), during a conference call announcing the agreement. This multi-state effort is intended to expand consumer awareness and demand for zero-emission vehicles. Collectively, the eight signatory states represent more than 23% of the US car market.

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Tesla leads with transfer of ZEV credits for year ending 30 Sep 2013

October 17, 2013

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Tesla by far dominated the transfer of ZEV credits in California in 2012. Data: ARB. Click to enlarge.

Between 1 October 2012 and 30 September 2013, electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla Motors transferred out 1,311.520 ZEV (zero emission vehicle) credits, according to the latest report by the California Air Resources Board (ARB)—by far, the largest of any automaker in the state. The next closest was Toyota, with 507.5 credits; Nissan only transferred 25 credits, and those generated from its PZEVs—not from the LEAF EV.

As of 30 September, Tesla still had a balance of 276.080 credits, according to the data; behind the six major automakers, who are mostly banking their credits.

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Car Charging Group acquires Blink-related charging assets of ECOtality; Access Control Group and Intertek buyers of other assets

October 11, 2013

Blink Acquisition, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Car Charging Group, Inc., a nationwide provider of electric vehicle (EV) charging services, won the bid to purchase the Blink-related assets of bankrupt ECOtality. (Earlier post.) The assets included in the transaction are all of Blink’s inventory: more than 12,450 installed electric vehicle Level II charging stations; the 110 DC Fast charging station;, and the Blink network, which is the turnkey operating system for EV drivers, commercial businesses, and utilities, that services the Blink stations.

Blink Acquisition is paying $3,335,000 in cash, plus payment or satisfaction of cure costs and the assumption of Assumed Liabilities (i.e., agreements with the US government). The Blink deal does not include Minit-Charger, which manufactures and distributes fast-charging systems for material handling and airport ground support vehicles; this business was acquired for $250,000 by Access Control Group. Nor does it include ETEC LABS, ECOtality’s research and testing resource for governments, automotive OEMs and utilities; this was acquired by Intertek Testing for $750,000.

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Ford doubles electric drive market share in US from 2012 to 2013; surging with plug-in hybrids

October 04, 2013

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Ford’s changing share of the hybrid-electric, plug-in hybrid electric, battery-electric vehicle segments and total ED market in the US in 2012 and YTD 2013. Data: EDTA, Ford Motor. Click to enlarge.

Ford Motor Company’s C-platform electric drive strategy has driven an increase in Ford’s overall electric drive market share (hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery-electric) from 7.3% in calendar year 2012 to 14.7% for the first nine months of 2013.

Specifically, out of 487,480 electric drive units sold in 2012 (according to data from the Electric Drive Transportation Association), Ford accounted for 35,719 units (7.3%). From January through September 2013, total electric drive sales were 457,704 units (EDTA); Ford’s electric drive sales climbed to 67,232 units during that period (14.7%).

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CARB draft of updated AB 32 Scoping Plan for climate change actions post-2020; pushing for greater transportation reductions

October 02, 2013

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has released the public discussion draft of the required update to the AB 32 Scoping Plan. (Earlier post.) The Scoping Plan describes the comprehensive range of efforts California must take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and meet the state’s long-term goals to combat climate change.

AB 32 requires the Scoping Plan to be updated every five years. The original Plan, first released in 2008, was developed on the principle that a balanced mix of strategies is the best way to cut emissions and grow California’s economy in a clean and sustainable direction. This draft update continues with that approach and focuses on three questions:

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DENSO and Nagoya University jointly develop in-vehicle battery-based energy management system for house and car; field testing begins

September 30, 2013

Global automotive supplier DENSO and Nagoya University have developed an in-vehicle battery-based energy management system (EMS) which uses forecasting models of household electricity demand and vehicle use to reduce electricity costs.

The two organizations will start to evaluate the performance of the system in October this year under the Toyota City Low-carbon Society Verification Project, one of the Next-Generation Energy and Social System Demonstration Projects in Japan led by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).

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California Governor signs 6 bills to support burgeoning EV market, including $2B AB 8

September 28, 2013

Marking National Plug-in Day (NPID), California Governor Jerry Brown signed 6 bills to support California’s burgeoning electric vehicle market, including the $2-billion AB 8 (earlier post), which will continue clean vehicle and fuel incentives through 2023.

The legislation builds on the state’s efforts to help California’s electric vehicle market grow, including an Executive Order issued by Governor Brown that established a target of 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road in California by 2025 and a number of other long-term goals. The newly signed bills are:

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One way or another, Fisker Automotive may soon be off the market

September 23, 2013

by Keith Patterson

Two German investors, Ingo Voigt and Fritz Nol, announced their intent to buy Fisker Automotive, the failing plug-in hybrid car company, on 11 September. The team submitted a detailed offer to the US Department of Energy (DOE) along with a letter of intent for restructuring Fisker.

The purchase funds for Fisker would in theory go directly to the DOE since the government agency loaned the auto company a large sum of money before it stopped production more than a year ago. Though the Voight/Nol offer amount has not yet been made public, many predict the company will sell for $25 million to $50 million. However, subsequent to the Voight/Nol offer, DOE announced it would auction off the remainder of Fisker’s loan obligation, “after exhausting any realistic possibility for a sale that might have protected our entire investment.” [See sidebar.]

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Balqon working with Polar Power to develop series plug-in hybrid drive system for heavy-duty trucks and buses

September 16, 2013

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XRE-20 battery-electric yard tractor. Click to enlarge.

Balqon Corporation, a developer of electric drive system technology for commercial vehicles (earlier post), has entered into a Joint Development Agreement with Polar Power Inc. to develop a series plug-in hybrid system for Balqon’s line of heavy-duty electric trucks and buses. Under this agreement both companies will work towards development of a 40 kW on-board DC generator to charge batteries during the daily drive cycle to increase the range of Balqon vehicles.

Balqon’s heavy-duty trucks and drive systems are designed to transport up to 30 ton cargo containers. Products include the Li-in battery-powered Model XRE20 yard tractor designed for port drayage applications.

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Ford launches electric vehicle charging network for employees; hoping to increase number of all-electric trips

Ford Motor Company is installing a new workplace plug-in vehicle charging network at nearly every Ford facility in the US and Canada. Ford will install charging stations at more than 50 company offices, product development campuses and manufacturing facilities. Installation will begin later this year and roll out throughout 2014.

Ford employees will be able to charge the all-electric Focus Electric, as well as Ford’s two plug-in hybrids—the Fusion Energi and C-MAX Energi—at the charge stations. The service will initially be free to employees for the first four hours. Ford estimates it will cost the company about $0.50 fully to charge a vehicle.

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Navigant forecasts 18.6% CAGR for plug-ins in North America to 2022; 2.4% new vehicle share in US

September 10, 2013

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Annual light duty PEV Sales, top 5 states, 2013-2022. Source: Navigant. Click to enlarge.

In an update to its 2012 geographic breakdown of plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) sales in North America, Navigant Research now forecasts that overall sales of will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 18.6% between 2013 and 2022. Navigant Research forecasts that PEVs will reach 416,153 annual sales in the United States and 230,479 in Canada by 2022.

The model for North American PEV sales by US state, metropolitan statistical area (MSA), Canadian province, Canadian city, and selected US utility service area has been updated to better align with actual sales data from the first full year of wide availability of PEVs.

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Opel Monza Concept at Frankfurt features CNG extended range electric vehicle powertrain with new 1.0L 3-cylinder engine

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Monza Concept. Click to enlarge.

Opel intends that its Monza Concept (earlier post), unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show, serve as a role-model for next-generation Opel cars, with particular emphasis on design, maximum connectivity, and optimum efficiency, including advanced powertrain flexibility.

The Monza Concept is based on a modular design to allow highest-possible flexibility when selecting a propulsion system. A variety of sustainable powertrains based on increasing electrification of the automobile are conceivable, Opel noted. For the Monza Concept displayed at the Frankfurt show, engineers conceived an electric drive with a CNG (compressed natural gas) range extender—a further development of the Ampera’s technology.

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BMW unveils production i8 plug-in hybrid; 94 mpg; on sale in US in 2014 priced from $135,925

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The BMW i8 goes on sale in the US in 2014. Click to enlarge.

BMW unveiled the BMW i8 2+2 plug-in hybrid sports car (earlier post) today at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show. The i8—the first plug-in hybrid vehicle from the BMW Group—will have a manufacturer’s suggest retail price of $135,925 (including destination and handling) when it arrives in US showrooms in spring of 2014.

The combination of a new 3-cylinder, 1.5-liter BMW TwinPower Turbo engine and BMW eDrive technology plus intelligent energy management produces system output of 266 kW/362 hp (max. torque: 570 N·m / 420 lb-ft). The BMW i8 accelerates from 0 – 100 km/h in 4.4 seconds), and offers EU combined cycle fuel consumption of 2.5 liters per 100 km / 94 mpg (US) along with an AWD driving experience with torque distribution geared towards optimized dynamics. The everyday driving range of the BMW i8 on a full fuel tank and with a fully charged battery is more than 500 kilometers (310 miles) in COMFORT mode.

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Georgia Tech study suggests unlinking EVs from CAFE and coordinating with power sector for low-cost benefits

September 08, 2013

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Change in total consumer expenditure for EVs and conventional vehicles (CVs) purchased in 2030 over the vehicle lifetime for 20% and 100% EV adoption scenarios. A negative value means the case has a lower TCE than the reference case. Credit: ACS, Choi et al. Click to enlarge.

A team from Georgia Tech suggests, based on their modeling of electric vehicle (EV) adoption scenarios in each of six regions of the Eastern Interconnection (containing 70% of the US population), that coordinating EV adoption with the adoption of controlled EV charging, unlinking EVs from consideration in the CAFE fuel economy regulations; and implementing renewable electricity standards would deliver low-cost reductions in emissions and gasoline usage. (For the study, they define EVs as including both battery-electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) vehicles.

Only in the case of high EV market share and a high renewable electricity standard (RES) do EVs make a material contribution to greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions, they found. However, managed EV adoption can reduce the cost of achieving GHG reductions through a RES, they concluded in their paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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August sales of plug-in hybrids in US up 83% from July, up 65% y-o-y

September 06, 2013

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Monthly sales of plug-in hybrids in US. Data: EDTA, automakers. Click to enlarge.

Sales of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in the US in August reached 6,407 units—up 83% from the prior month and up 65% from results in August 2012. jumped 83% from the prior month to 6,407 units. The results marked the strongest monthly results to date for plug-in hybrids (i.e., not conventional hybrids, and not battery-electric vehicles.)

Sales were led by the Chevy Volt, with 3,351 units, up 18.4% from its August 2012 results of 2,831 units. Jan-August 2013 sales for the Volt were 14,994 units, up 11.1% from the same period in 2012. The Prius PHV put in a very strong second-place showing of 1,791 units in August 2013, up 65% from 1,047 units in August 2012. Its sales for the first 8 months of 2013 were 6,822 units, up 11.6% from the same period in 2012.

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Jaguar Land Rover to lead $25M Evoque_e collaborative research project to develop new modular HEV, PHEV and BEV technology

September 04, 2013

Jaguar Land Rover will lead a £16.3-million (US$25 million) “Evoque_e” collaborative research project to develop new modular hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery-electric vehicle (BEV) technology. Evoque_e is a two-year UK government Technology Strategy Board project.

Jaguar Land Rover will contribute £4 million (US$6.3 million) to the project and will lead a consortium of 12 selected partners—eight from industry and three universities. The partners include Zytek Automotive, GKN Driveline, Motor Design Limited, AVL, Drive System Design, Williams Advanced Engineering, Delta Motorsport, Tata Steel, Bristol University, Cranfield University and Newcastle University.

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Audi presenting plug-in hybrid Sport quattro concept show car at Frankfurt; 700 hp and 94 mpg

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The Audi Sport quattro concept. Click to enlarge.

At the upcoming 2013 IAA in Frankfurt am Main, Audi will present the Audi Sport quattro concept show car—a coupé plug-in hybrid with a system output of 515 kW (700 hp). The original Sport quattro, which made its debut at the 1983 IAA and was designed as a homologation model for the World Rally Championship, delivered 225 kW (306 hp).

The new Audi Sport quattro concept show car, which picks up on an Audi quattro concept study of three years ago, combines acceleration of 0-100 km/h in 3.7 seconds with fuel consumption of 2.5 liters per 100 kilometers (94 mpgUS)—a CO2 equivalent of 59 grams per kilometer (95 g/mile).

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BMW to present Concept X5 eDrive all-wheel drive plug-in hybrid at Frankfurt show

August 22, 2013

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BMW Concept X5 eDrive PHEV. Click to enlarge.

BMW will present the Concept X5 eDrive all-wheel drive plug-in hybrid at the 2013 Frankfurt International Motor Show (IAA). The Concept X5 eDrive delivers the handling of a BMW, with an all-electric maximum speed of up to 120 km/h (75 mph), maximum electric range of 30 kilometers (19 miles), and average fuel consumption in the EU test cycle of 3.8 liters per 100 kilometers (61.9 mpgUS).

The concept study’s BMW eDrive system consists of a four-cylinder combustion engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology and an electric motor which is also the work of the BMW Group. (Earlier post.) The 70 kW/95 hp motor sources its energy from a high-voltage lithium-ion battery that can be charged from any domestic power socket.

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Mercedes-Benz unveils S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID

August 21, 2013

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S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID. Click to enlarge.

Mercedes-Benz unveiled the third hybrid model of the new S-Class, the S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID, prior to its introduction in a few weeks at the Frankfurt Motor Show. (Earlier post.) Market launch for the plug-in will be next year.

The S 500 PLUG-IN combines an 80 kW, 340 N·m electric motor, externally rechargeable battery, and a new 245 kW, 480 N·m 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 engine. Fuel consumption is 3 l/100 km (78 mpgUS), with about 30 km (18.6 miles) of all-electric range possible. CO2 emissions are 69 g/km. Top speed is 250 km/h (155 mph), with 0-100 km/h acceleration in 5.5 sec.

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KAIST rolling out dynamic wireless charging in buses in South Korea

August 08, 2013

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The OLEV bus in Gumi. Click to enlarge.

The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) is trialing a bus application for its Online Electric Vehicle (OLEV) technology, a dynamic wireless charging technology that recharges a vehicle’s battery while the vehicle is in motion. (Earlier post.) An OLEV bus thus requires no pantographs to feed power from electric wires strung above the tram route.

Following the development and operation of commercialized OLEV trams (at an amusement park in Seoul) and shuttle buses (at KAIST campus), respectively, the city of Gumi in South Korea, beginning on 6 August, is providing its citizens with OLEV public transportation services. After the successful operation of the two OLEV buses by the end of this year, Gumi City plans to provide ten more such buses by 2015.

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BMW Group presents prototype of i8 plug-in hybrid; first use of new 3-cylinder engine

August 07, 2013

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Prototype BMW i8 at the track. Click to enlarge.

BMW i presented a prototype of its second production vehicle, the i8 (earlier post), at a driving event at the BMW Group’s Miramas test track in France. Following the world debut of the first production model, the battery-electric urban-focused BMW i3 (earlier post), the BMW Group’s next step will be to address the sports car segment with the plug-in hybrid BMW i8. The BMW i8 will make its world debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month and arrive in BMW showrooms in 2014.

Calculated using the EU test cycle for plug-in hybrid vehicles, the average fuel efficiency of the BMW i8 at model launch will be less than 2.5 liters/100 km, which equates to approximately 95 miles per US gallon, with CO2 emissions of less than 59 grams per kilometer.

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AKASOL providing Li-ion systems for Bombardier PRIMOVE; wireless charging

August 05, 2013

German Li-ion battery systems specialist AKASOL is supplying Li-ion battery systems for Bombardier’s PRIMOVE system. (Earlier post.) PRIMOVE is a Business Unit of Bombardier that specializes in creating market-ready solutions in the field of electromobility; its portfolio comprises integrated charging, battery, and power solutions for all types of electric rail and road vehicles. The wireless PRIMOVE charging technology permits automatic inductive rapid charging with up to 200 kW of power.

AKASOL’s water-cooled PRIMOVE Li-ion battery systems feature an extremely compact size and low weight. Depending on use, the energy capacity of the system packs varies between 50 and 90 kWh. Under the Bombardier partnership, AKASOL will supply 5-10 MWh of its Li-ion battery systems to Bombardier by the end of 2014 for use in various applications and at sites of operation around the world. Starting in 2015, volume should rise to a middle to high double-digit MWh range.

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“Big data” analysis of Beijing taxi fleet suggests maximum electrification subsidy benefit from targeting medium-range plug-in hybrids

August 02, 2013

A pair of researchers at the University of Michigan have used “big data” mining techniques to evaluate the impact of adopting plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) in the Beijing taxi fleet on life cycle greenhouse gas emissions based on the characterized individual travel patterns.

Although the results are based on a specific public fleet, the study demonstrates the benefit of using large-scale individual-based trajectory data (big data) to better understand environmental implications of fleet electrification and inform better decision making, Hua Cai and Ming Xu suggested in a paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology. This research represents the first of a series of studies exploring the role of big data in environmental systems analysis for the emerging PHEV/BEV systems.

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Ford aggregate driver data show its PHEV owners operate in electric mode nearly 60% of the time

July 30, 2013

Ford plug-in hybrid owners are operating in electric mode nearly 60% of the time, according to new aggregate data collected from Ford’s MyFord Mobile app.

MyFord Mobile is available on Ford’s plug-in (PHEV) and battery-electric (BEV) vehicles, Fusion Energi, C-MAX Energi and Focus Electric, and is available for download both through the App Store and Google Play. Early aggregate data collected through vehicles tied to MyFord Mobile show nearly 60% of total PHEV miles driven every day are in electric mode, and that there is an improvement in this figure over the first 30 days of vehicle ownership.

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Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Mitsubishi agree to joint development of charging infrastructure for plug-in vehicles in Japan

July 29, 2013

Toyota Motor Corporation, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Honda Motor Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation jointly announced their agreement to work together to promote the installation of chargers for plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs)—(plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and battery-electric vehicles (EVs)—and to build a charging network service that offers more convenience to drivers in Japan. (Earlier post.)

The partners said the move is in recognition of the need for the swift development of a charging infrastructure facilities to promote the use of electric-powered vehicles. Assisted by subsidies provided by the Japanese government, the four automakers will bear part of the cost to install the charging facilities. They will also work together to build a convenient and accessible charging network in collaboration with companies that are already providing charging services in which each of the four automakers already have a financial stake.

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Project developing lightweight motors and their production technologies for EVs; fiber-reinforced plastics

July 22, 2013

In cooperation with four other companies, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) is developing flexible technologies for the series production of lightweight electric motors under the “ProLeMo” project (website scheduled to go live 15 August). ProLeMo is a 3-year, €3.3-million (US$4.4-million) project is managed by the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology(BMWi) is providing €1.7 million (US$2.2 million) of the funding.

ProLeMo is funded under the German government’s “e-mobility, positioning along the value chain - Electric Power” program, and will seek to replace metals in motors with fiber-reinforced composite materials and soft magnetic composites. At the end of the project, KIT will set up a complete demonstration manufacturing cell.

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Renault Trucks and Norbert Dentressangle testing 16t series hybrid electric truck

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Series hybrid 16-t truck. Click to enlarge.

Renault Trucks is working with Norbert Dentressangle, a major transport, logistics and freight forwarding company, to develop and to test a 16-tonne series hybrid electric truck. Developed on a Midlum chassis, the vehicle has an all-electric range of up to 60 km (37 miles), with a total operating range of more than 400 kilometers (249 miles).

The vehicle will be tested from June 2013 to January 2014 in the Paris region on behalf of ThyssenKrupp Materials France. This project is part of the continued technology partnership between Renault Trucks, PVI and IFP Energies nouvelles.

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JRC assesses EU RD&D investments in electric-drive vehicles; controls and energy storage top the list

July 20, 2013

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Distribution of total investments and public co-funding in publicly co-funded R&D projects. Controls and energy storage top the list. Source: JRC. Click to enlarge.

A report from the JRC on research, development and demonstration (RD&D) projects on electric drive vehicles (not including fuel cell vehicles) in the EU finds that increased exchange of information and more coordination between projects would result in a better leverage of the investments—at this point, some €1.9 billion (US$2.5 billion), 65% from public funding. The JRC (Joint Research Centre) is the European Commission’s (EC’s) in-house science service.

The report is the third in a series that deals with aspects of electromobility in Europe. Its goal was to collect the information on all on-going or recently concluded RD&D projects on electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, which received EU or national public funding with a budget of more than €1 million (US$1.3 million), in order to assess which of the electric drive vehicles (EDV) challenges are addressed by these projects and to identify potential gaps in the RD&D landscape in Europe.

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Chevrolet Spark EV: speedy, smooth and quiet; the importance of motor control

July 19, 2013

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The Spark EV. Click to enlarge.

Chevrolet is hosting a series of media drives this week for the production version of its new Spark EV (earlier post). Featuring a GM-developed 105 kW electric motor that pushes out 400 lb-ft (542 N·m) of torque and a 21 kWh pack that supports an estimated 82-mile (132 km) range, the Spark EV is a speedy (0-60 mph in 7.6 seconds); efficient (combined city/highway 119 MPGe); affordable (as low as $17,495 in California net after Federal and state rebates); fun-to-drive electric vehicle targeted for the urban environment.

There are multiple interesting aspects to the vehicle, including GM’s rationale for offering fast charging as an option (it’s not to go across country), but one of the most manifest when driving the car (aside from the “Wheee!” of those 400 lb-ft in action) is how smooth and quiet the drive is. Much of this derives from the efforts GM has put over the years into motor control and active damping for hybrids and EVs.

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Chrysler Group partnering with NextEnergy to evaluate vehicle-to-grid technology

July 18, 2013

Chrysler Group is working with NextEnergy to evaluate vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology using four all-electric minivans. Detroit-based NextEnergy is a non-profit energy-technology and business accelerator.

The battery-powered minivans are connected to a charging module that, using NextEnergy technology, can simulate any electrical grid in the world. Among the scenarios under study is reduced reliance on “spinning reserves”—the expensive practice of having huge generators at the ready to balance spikes in energy demand.

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Bosch and PSA present first two OpEneR prototypes for increased range of electric drive vehicles

July 13, 2013

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OpEneR prototype at RIVE2013 in Alès. Click to enlarge.

Bosch, PSA Peugeot Citroën and partners recently presented the first two Optimal Energy Consumption and Recovery solution (OpEneR) prototypes. OpEneR is a European research project under the Seventh Framework Programme designed to increase the range of future hybrid and electric vehicles by optimizing energy management.

Launched in 2011, OpEneR is developing new driving strategies and driver assistance systems that significantly increase the efficiency, driving range, and safety of electric vehicles without increasing battery size—and thus also by limiting battery price and charging time. This is achieved by merging data from on-board and off-board sources. A particular focus lies on an optimal cooperation between the electric drivetrain and the regenerative braking system, supported by data from radar, video, satellite navigation, car-to-infrastructure and car-to-car systems.

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New LowCVP report highlights need to go “beyond the tailpipe” for CO2 metrics for vehicles

July 11, 2013

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Proportion of lifecycle CO2e emissions for future cars 2020-2030. The new study projects the increasing dominance of the production phase in terms of lifecycle CO2 impacts. Click to enlarge.

The introduction of new energy technologies in road transport will mean that the current tailpipe measures of the climate impact of vehicles will become increasingly inadequate in future.

A new report—“Life Cycle CO2e Assessment of Low Carbon Cars 2020-2030”—prepared for the UK’s LowCVP Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership by PE International and validated by Partnership stakeholders—shows how total life cycle CO2e emissions will change for different vehicle technologies in the future and estimates how the balance of emissions will alter for different stages in the life cycle for the varying technologies.

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GM OnStar partners with TimberRock for demo of EV solar charging and market-based regulation; OnStar Demand Response service

July 10, 2013

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The OnStar-TimberRock project. Click to enlarge.

GM’s OnStar announced a project with TimberRock Energy Solutions, Inc. that uses aggregation software and solar charging canopies with integrated storage to manage the flow of solar power to benefit the electric grid. It will be the first “real-world” use of OnStar’s Smart Grid solutions. (Earlier post.)

TimberRock will monitor the output of its solar charging stations, how much stored energy is available and when it can sell energy back to the grid to help meet peak demand. To help balance this system, TimberRock will then manage its fleet of four Chevrolet Volts to help regulate energy flow. This practice is known as market-based regulation.

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ORNL researcher proposes more efficient control strategy for series hybrids

July 09, 2013

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Cumulative fuel consumption for a modeled series hybrid electric truck using a thermostat-type controller and the centralized controller using the equilibrium control policy. Malikopoulos 2013. Click to enlarge.

The increasing demand for and investment in hybrid propulsion systems has brought with it focused study of the supervisory control (i.e., energy management) problem along with a range of different approaches (e.g., rule-based control, dynamic programming, equivalent consumption minimization strategies, and so on) to tackle the problem.

In a paper presented at the recent 2013 American Control Conference (ACC) in Washington, Dr. Andreas Malikopoulos from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) described an approach to the problem of optimizing online the supervisory control in a series hybrid configuration by modeling its operation as a controlled Markov chain using an average cost (in this case, fuel consumption) criterion to create an equilibrium control policy.

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XL1 dive and drive: Volkswagen aggressively optimizes for efficiency in its sleek diesel plug-in hybrid

June 24, 2013

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XL1s ready to roll. Click to enlarge.

During a media event in Wolfsburg, Germany, Volkswagen provided a medium dive into details of its two-seater XL1 Super Efficient Vehicle diesel plug-in hybrid (earlier post) as well as some driving time on local roads and highways.

The XL1 is aggressively optimized for efficiency in all areas of its design and technology—from materials (carbon fiber reinforced polymer monocoque); to powertrain (0.8L two-cylinder diesel, 20 kW electric motor and 5.5 kWh Li-ion pack with efficiency-optimized control and brake regeneration strategies); to lightweighting (little baffling to shield the driver from engine, chassis and road noises); to aerodynamics (with a Cd of 0.189, the XL1 bests the only other production vehicle that has come close, the GM EV1’s 0.19; the original Honda Insight hybrid had a Cd of 0.25). It reflects, the Volkswagen team members said, an effort by the company to deliver the most efficient vehicle they could—but one that could still be series-produced, homologated and sold—with current technologies.

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Nissan unveils ZEOD RC electric Le Mans Prototype; targeting 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours

June 21, 2013

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Nissan ZEOD RC. Click to enlarge.

Nissan unveiled the ZEOD RC (Zero Emission On Demand Racing Car)—an electric Le Mans prototype racing car intended to reach speeds of more than 300 km/h (186 mph) at the Le Mans 24 Hours race in 2014, where it will makes its debut.

Nissan will use the same core lithium-ion battery technology as in the LEAF and will test out variants of new electric drive train technologies as part of its intended future return to LM P1 competition.

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Honda introduces Accord hybrid and plug-in in Japan; hybrid in US in October

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. has introduced the new Accord Hybrid in Japan. Featuring the new Sport Hybrid i-MMD (intelligent Multi-Mode Drive) powertrain, the Accord Hybrid offers fuel economy of 30.0 km/L (70.6 mpg US, 3.33 L/100 km) on the JC08 cycle. The company also introduced the Accord Plug-in Hybrid, with fuel economy (gasoline plus electricity) of 70.4 km/L equivalent (165.6 mpg US, 1.42 L/100 km) on the JC08. The plug-in will be available for lease, primarily to corporations and government agencies. (Earlier post.)

The Accord plug-in came in limited availability to the US earlier this year. Honda will introduce the conventional hybrid version of the Accord in the US nationwide in October. Honda estimates that the Accord Hybrid will earn an EPA fuel economy rating of 47 mpg US (20 km/L, 5.0 L/100 km) on the combined cycle. The plug-in hybrid in the US has a fuel economy rating of 115 mpg US (48.9 km/L, 2.05 L/100 km) equivalent.

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Volkswagen CrossBlue Coupé plug-in makes its European debut; showcasing the MQB

June 20, 2013

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Engine compartment of the CrossBlue Coupé plug-in hybrid shows the transverse-mounted 3.0L V6; DSG is to the right, with the power electronics unit mounted above it. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen brought the new CrossBlue Coupé plug-in hybrid sporty mid-size SUV show car, introduced in April at Auto Shanghai 2013 (earlier post), to a media event in Berlin for its European premiere.

The CrossBlue Coupé—based off the Volkswagen Group’s MQB architecture (the Group’s modular assembly kit for vehicles with transverse-mounted engines)—features a transverse-mounted turbocharged direct-injection (TSI) 220 kW (295 hp) 3.0L V6 gasoline engine (EA 390) and six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission with 40 kW electric motor (DQ 400 E) in the engine compartment. The DQ 400 E hybrid transmission is also being applied in the upcoming Audi A3 plug-in hybrid. (Earlier post.)

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Bosch sees future requiring multiple powertrain technologies; the larger the vehicle, the more the electrification

June 18, 2013

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Powertrain technologies outlook up to 2020. Click to enlarge.

At the company’s 61st Automotive Press Briefing in Boxberg, Germany, Bosch senior executives outlined the company’s view on the general future of automotive technology—“efficient and increasingly electrical”, and provided a thumbnail of the way they see—and thus are developing products for—sector-specific technology trends.

In general, said Dr. Bernd Bohr, Chairman of the Bosch Automotive Group, the pace of development continues to pick up, in the form of powertrain electrification and the automation of driving. Bosch does not believe there is just one powertrain solution for the future; most of the cars on the world’s roads are still running on diesel and gasoline, and things will stay that way for the rest of the decade, Bohr noted. However, “slowly but surely”, the number of alternatives is growing.

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Calif. Energy Commission to award more than $44M for hydrogen refueling and alternative fuel vehicle projects

June 13, 2013

In two packages of awards, the California Energy Commission approved more than $44 million to expand the hydrogen fueling infrastructure and increase the number of alter alternative fuel vehicles on the road in the state.

These awards were made through the Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, created by Assembly Bill 118. For the current fiscal year, the program is slated to invest approximately $90 million to encourage the development and use of new technologies, and alternative and renewable fuels, to help the state meet its climate-change goals. It is paid for through surcharges on vehicle and boat registrations, and smog check and license plate fees.

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SEAT unveils plug-in hybrid prototype based on the new Leon hatchback; smart charging and V2G

June 12, 2013

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SEAT Leon Verde PHEV prototype. Click to enlarge.

SEAT, a Spanish motor company and member of the Volkswagen Group, has unveiled a plug-in hybrid R&D prototype based on the new Leon hatchback. The Leon Verde (“Green”) prototype is the culmination of the four-year Cenit Verde research project in Spain, and was presented at the official closing event of the project.

The plug-in hybrid combines a 120 hp (90 kw) 1.4 TSI gasoline engine with a 75 kW electric motor. Combined maximum output is 125 kW. Combined cycle fuel consumption is estimated at 1.6 l/100 km (147 mpg US), with 36 g/km CO2; all-electric range is 31 miles (50 km). With a fully charged battery and a full 40-liter (10.6 gallons US) gasoline tank, its total range is 507 miles (816 km).

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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.

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Navigant forecasts hybrids to account for almost 4% of global LDV sales by 2020, plug-ins 3%

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Annual light duty electric vehicle sales by drivetrain, world markets: 2013-2020. Source: Navigant Research. Click to enlarge.

In its latest forecast for hybrid and plug-in electric vehicle sales, Navigant Research expects that hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), which today account for about 2% of global light duty vehicle sales, will grow to almost 4% of global LDV sales by 2020.

The company also expects, despite the challenges of new technology, that plug-in electric vehicles will grow rapidly in many regions as a result of rising fuel prices, falling PEV prices, and increasing availability of PEV models. The result is a PEV market that will reach 3 million vehicles sold in 2020, representing 3% of the global light-duty vehicle market.

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CCST report: an integral role for next-gen biofuels in meeting California GHG targets requires advanced biofuels and demand reduction

Next-generation biofuels can reduce greenhouse gas emissions of transportation to meet California’s target greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goal, but deep replacement of fossil fuels through implementation of low-carbon lignocellulosic ethanol and advanced biomass derived hydrocarbons (drop-in biofuels) and reduction in demand is required, according to a new report from the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST).

The study, “California Energy Future: the Potential for Biofuels,” co-authored by Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) scientists Heather Youngs and Chris Somerville, is the seventh and final report in its California’s Energy Future (CEF) project. The CEF project seeks ways the State could meet the mandated reductions of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, exploring possible energy strategies for California through in-depth examinations of different technology scenarios.

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CMU study finds driving conditions have “substantial” impact on benefits of electrified vehicles; policy implications

June 10, 2013

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NHTS-Averaged Annual GHG Emissions per vehicle type by drive cycle. (Base Case). Source: Karabasoglu and Michalek. Click to enlarge.

A new analysis by Orkun Karabasoglu and Jeremy Michalek of the Carnegie Mellon Vehicle Electrification Group at Carnegie Mellon University found that driving conditions affect the economic and environmental benefits of electrified vehicles “substantially”.

As a result, they suggested, vehicle window stickers, fuel economy standards, and life cycle studies using average lab-test vehicle efficiency estimates are incomplete. Driver heterogeneity matters, they found, and efforts to encourage adoption of hybrid and plug-in vehicles will have greater impact if targeted to urban drivers vs. highway drivers. Further, electrified vehicles perform better on some drive cycles than others, so non-representative tests can bias consumer perception and regulation of alternative technologies. Their study is published in the journal Energy Policy.

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