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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.]

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

March 26, 2015

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

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

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Obama orders GHG cuts for Federal Agencies; 50% of all new agency vehicles to be ZEV or PHEV by 2025

March 19, 2015

President Obama today signed a wide-ranging executive order mandating cuts in greenhouse gas emissions for Federal agencies. Through more efficient Federal operations, agency direct greenhouse gas emissions can be cut by at least 40% over the next decade, the order suggests. The order has operational directives for building and fleet management, electricity generation, water use, waste management and purchasing.

As an initial outcome, within 90 days the head of each agency sis to propose to the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) percentage reduction targets for agency-wide reductions of scope 1 and 2 and scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions in absolute terms by the end of fiscal year 2025 relative to a fiscal year 2008 baseline.

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Mercedes-Benz to introduce 10 plug-in hybrids by 2017; GLE PHEV coming soon

March 18, 2015

Mercedes-Benz is making a strategic push on plug-in hybrids: the Stuttgart-based automaker will introduce 10 new plug-in hybrid models by 2017. The company said that the main emphasis as regards alternative drives in years to come will be on plug-in hybrids.

The announcement follows the market introduction of the C 350 e (earlier post, earlier post), the company’s second plug-in hybrid model following the S 500 Plug-In Hybrid (earlier post). At the Geneva Motor Show, the company showcased the new MPV plug-in hybrid Concept V-ision e study. (Earlier post.) As the plug-in hybrid comes into its own especially in larger vehicles and with mixed distance profiles, Mercedes-Benz is opting for this drive concept from the C-Class upwards—the technology will make its entry soon into the SUV segment with the new Mercedes-Benz GLE.

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Mercedes-Benz C 350 e PHEV can reduce full lifecycle CO2 emissions up to 41% compared to gasoline-engined C 250

Compared to the gasoline-engined C 250, the Mercedes-Benz C 350 e plug-in hybrid (earlier post) can reduce full life-cycle (manufacture, use over 200,000 km and recycling) CO2 emissions by some 26% (9.6 tonnes) when charging with the European electricity mix and by up to 41% (15.1 tonnes) when charging with renewable power.

The analysis is outlined in the plug-in’s newly release “Life Cycle” brochure, the results of which have also been confirmed by TÜV Süd, a branch of the German Technical Inspection Agency. The new plug-in hybrid satisfies all criteria of an environmentally responsible product development pursuant to ISO standard TR 14062.

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Simon Fraser study finds PEV success not tied to awareness of public chargers; implications for policy makers

March 17, 2015

A new Canada-wide study conducted by Simon Fraser University researchers found that awareness of public chargers is not a strong predictor of plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) interest; other variables are more important, such as the availability of level 1 (110/120-volt) charging at home. The results have important implications for governments with limited budgets to support the EV market, suggests Jonn Axsen, Assistant Professor in the School of Resource and Environmental Management.

The study, conducted by Axsen and two of his graduate students, is published in the journal Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment. The researchers also recently presented their study to the National Academy of Sciences’ Transportation Research Board in Washington, DC.

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BMW brand’s first production PHEV: the BMW X5 xDrive40e

March 16, 2015

The first plug-in hybrid production car from the BMW core brand is a Sports Activity Vehicle: the BMW X5 xDrive40e. With a total system output of 230 kW/313 hp generated by a four-cylinder gasoline engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology, a synchronous electric motor integrated in the 8-speed Steptronic transmission, and a 9.0 kWh, 96-cell high-voltage Li-ion battery pack, the BMW X5 xDrive40e achieves a combined fuel consumption of 3.4 – 3.3 liters per 100 kilometers (69 - 71 mpg US mpg imp) and a combined electricity consumption of 15.4 – 15.3 kWh over the same distance.

CO2 emissions come in at 78 – 77 grams per kilometer (figures according to EU test cycle for plug-in hybrid vehicles, may vary depending on the tire format specified).

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Audi to have a plug-in hybrid in every model series; new BEV in 2018

March 11, 2015

Audi will have a plug-in hybrid in every model series in the coming years as part of its efforts in efficiency and sustainability, said Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management at Audi AG for Technical Development, during his speech at Audi’s Annual Press Conference in Ingolstadt.

Plug-in hybrids, natural gas vehicles and battery-electric drive systems will have a key role to play in achieving CO2 targets, Hackenberg said. Audi already launched the A3 e-tron plug-in hybrid (earlier post) and the Audi A3 g-tron (earlier post) on the market in 2014. Both of these already have siblings: the Audi Q7 e-tron plug-in hybrid (earlier post) and a future Audi A4 g-tron based on the second generation of the modular longitudinal platform (MLB 2).

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DOE awarding $6M to 11 projects to accelerate alternative fuel vehicle market growth

March 10, 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is awarding $6 million to 11 projects aimed at improving potential buyers’ experiences with alternative fuel and plug-in electric vehicles, supporting training, and integrating alternative fuels into emergency planning. Through the Clean Cities program, these projects address many of the challenges limiting the use of alternative fuel and plug-in electric vehicles, particularly in these three areas: on-the-road demonstrations, safety-related training, and emergency preparedness.

Five projects will enable consumers and fleets to drive alternative fuel vehicles for extended periods of time to help them better understand how these vehicles can meet their everyday needs. Five projects will focus on training for first responders, public safety officials, tow-truck operators, and collision repair specialists and teach these service providers how to safely handle alternative fuel vehicles. One incorporate alternative fuel and advanced vehicles into multiple emergency preparedness plans that address varied geographies and potential incidents.

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Navigant forecasts vehicle-grid integration services revenue to reach nearly $21M by 2024

In a new report, Navigant Research forecasts that worldwide revenue from vehicle-grid integration (VGI) services will grow from $335,000 annually in 2015 to $20.7 million by 2024.

The term VGI refers to a suite of hardware and software technologies that enable plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) to participate in grid services such as the ancillary services markets (typically frequency regulation), demand response (DR) programs, and/or the operation of microgrids. The VGI market can be separated into two categories, according to the report: PEVs can provide services to the grid by changing the rate at which they consume power, which is known as vehicle-to-grid communications for charge management, or V1G. Or they can provide power back to the grid, a bidirectional system known as vehicle-to-grid power transfer, orV2G. While V2G pilots have taken center stage, to date, V1G pilots have fewer barriers in regards to automaker adoption and accessible markets.

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Hyundai showcasing new Tucson 48V Hybrid Concept and diesel Plug-in-Hybrid Concept at Geneva

March 08, 2015

Hyundai Motor is showcasing a range of innovative fuel efficiency and connectivity technologies at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, among them a 48V Hybrid concept and a plug-in hybrid vehicle concept, both based on the all new Tucson platform.

The 48V Hybrid combines a 2.0-liter diesel model with 134 hp (100 kW) and a six-speed manual transmission along with a 14 hp (10 kW) electric motor; combined system performance is 148 hp (110 kW) and 413 N·m (305 lb-ft) of torque. This boosts system power by 10% while emitting only 109 g/km CO2. Compared to a full hybrid system, the 48V system delivers similar efficiency, for only a quarter of the cost.

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DOE to award up to $35M to advance fuel cell and hydrogen technologies; fuel cell range extenders

March 03, 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced (DOE-FOA-0001224) up to $35 million in available funding to advance fuel cell and hydrogen technologies, and to enable early adoption of fuel cell applications, such as light duty fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). (Earlier post.)

As FCEVs become increasingly commercially available, the Energy Department is focused on reducing the costs and increasing technical advancements of critical hydrogen infrastructure including production, delivery, and storage. This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) covers a broad spectrum of the Fuel Cell Technology Office (FCTO) portfolio with areas of interest ranging from research and development (R&D) to demonstration and deployment projects.

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Mercedes-Benz unveils V-Class concept plug-in hybrid MPV at Geneva; 78 mpg US

At the Geneva International Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the Concept V‑ision e: a plug-in hybrid concept version of its V-Class MPV (earlier post). The plug-in hybrid van utilizes the same advanced drive system as in the new Mercedes-Benz C 350 e plug-in hybrid (earlier post) and offers NEDC fuel consumption of 3.0 liters per 100 km (78 mpg US), corresponding to CO2 emissions of 71 g/km. The MPV concept can travel up to 50 km in the all-electric mode if driven at a maximum speed of 80 km/h (50 mph).

The four-cylinder gasoline engine has an output of 155 kW (210 hp) and develops a maximum torque of 350 N·m (258 lb-ft), while the electric motor delivers 90 kW and 340 N·m (250 lb-ft) of torque. This results in a system output of 245 kW (333 hp) and a system torque of up to 600 N·m (443 lb-ft).

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Volkswagen introduces the Sport Coupé Concept GTE PHEV at Geneva; 118 mpg US

Volkswagen is unveiling the Sport Coupé Concept GTE plug-in hybrid at the 2015 Geneva International Motor Show, ushering in a new and progressive Volkswagen brand design language. “Evolution and revolution come together in the Sport Coupé Concept GTE. This concept is based on Volkswagen design DNA, which has been visibly sharpened even more. It shows how the highest-volume brand of our Group is shaping the immediate future,” said Walter de Silva, Head of Design of Volkswagen AG.

The GTE designation indicates a plug-in hybrid drive system (earlier post). Equipped with a V6 TSI engine, two electric motors and externally chargeable 10.7 kWh battery pack, the 279 kW / 374 hp Sport Coupé Concept GTE plug-in hybrid delivers the long-distance properties of a Gran Tourismo while enabling zero-emission driving. The concept car, with a top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph), has an average combined fuel consumption (NEDC combined) of 2.0 l/100 km (118 mpg US), or 46 g CO2/km.

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Audi introduces Q7 e-tron quattro diesel PHEV SUV at Geneva; 138 mpg US

March 02, 2015

Audi introduced the Q7 e-tron quattro plug-in hybrid (earlier post) at the Geneva show. The Q7 e‑tron quattro is Audi’s second vehicle featuring a plug‑in hybrid drive system, and the first diesel plug-in hybrid with quattro drive in its segment.

Powered by the 17.3 kWh, liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack, the large SUV covers up to 56 kilometers (34.8 mi) on electric power alone. Together with the diesel engine, the car can cover a total distance of 1,410 kilometers (876.1 miles). According to the ECE standard for plug‑in hybrid vehicles, the Audi Q7 e‑tron quattro needs only 1.7 liters of diesel fuel per 100 kilometers (138.4 US mpg) and has a CO2 emission level of less than 50 grams per kilometer (80.5 g/mi).

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Volvo Cars unveils new V60 D5 Twin Engine Special Edition diesel PHEV in Geneva

Volvo Cars has unveiled a D5 Twin Engine Special Edition of its V60 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid, which went on sale in 2012. (Earlier post.) The V60 D5 Twin Engine will deliver 120 kW (161 hp) via the combustion engine and about 50 kW (67 hp) from its 11.2 kWh Lithium-ion battery pack using the same proven configuration used in the V60 D6 Twin Engine.

This translates to a maximum driveline power output of approximately 230 hp when the electric motor and diesel engine are working simultaneously. The V60 D5 Twin Engine offers 50 km of all-electric range, and fuel consumption of 1.8 l/100 km (131 mpg US).

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Magna unveiling lightweight plug-in hybrid sportscar at Geneva show

February 27, 2015

Global automotive supplier Magna International Inc. will debut MILA Plus, an two-seat plug-in hybrid sports car, at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show. The lightweight (1,520 kg, 3,351 lb) concept vehicle, the latest member of the MILA family of concept vehicles (earlier post), offers an all-electric range of 75 km with reduced CO2 emissions of 32g/km.

System power output is 200 kW (272 hp), with 580 N·m of peak torque. The MILA Plus accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 4.9s; electric acceleration from 0-80 km/h takes 3.6s. The performance of the three-cylinder gasoline engine is enhanced by the addition of two electric motors—one between the internal combustion engine and transmission to drive the rear axle, and one on the electric front axle. This arrangement results in an electric all-wheel-drive system which transmits more torque to the road and results in improvement of vehicle maneuverability and dynamics.

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Cal Energy Commission adopts report outlining how state transforming transportation system to meet climate goals

February 26, 2015

The California Energy Commission adopted its 2014 Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) Update, which outlines, among many things, how the state is working to transform the transportation system to zero- and near-zero technologies and fuels to meet its climate and clean air goals. This report highlights the importance of incentives in helping speed this transition and specifically explores the role Assembly Bill 8, which makes more than $2 billion available for public investment, can play in helping to achieve this progress.

The Energy Commission also approved almost $16 million in research grants to help develop the next generation of energy efficient technologies for commercial and residential buildings; $11 million for projects to convert feedstock and waste into biofuels; and about $900,000 for natural gas innovations.

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Mitsubishi Motors to unveil new small crossover PHEV concept at Geneva; headed for production

February 25, 2015

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) will stage the global debut of the Mitsubishi Concept XR-PHEV II at the 85th Geneva International Motor Show. The Concept XR-PHEV II is a small crossover powered by a new plug-in hybrid EV (PHEV) system. Mitsubishi said it expects the Concept XR-PHEV II to become MMC’s second production PHEV following the Outlander PHEV launched in January 2013. (Earlier post.) (The Outlander PHEV was Europe’s top-selling plug-in vehicle in 2014, with 19,980 units sold.)

The new PHEV system presented in the Concept XR-PHEV II is a lightweight, compact and high-efficiency front-engine/front-drive system suited for an urban crossover. The system is estimated to achieve very low CO2 emissions of below 40 g/km, while also delivering performance and response with its 120 kW electric motor.

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Audi introducing Audi prologue Avant diesel plug-in hybrid show car at Geneva; 147 mpg, wireless charging

At the Los Angeles Auto Show, Audi presented the Audi prologue concept car, featuring a mild hybrid powertrain with a 48V electrical subsystem. (Earlier post.) At the upcoming Geneva show, Audi will show a new variant of the prologue—the Audi prologue Avant—featuring a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Both prologue variants provide a view into coming Audi design language, as well as the technology experience inside and outside.

The Audi prologue Avant uses technology which is close to series production. It is equipped with the plug‑in diesel hybrid drive from the Audi Q7 e‑tron quattro (earlier post)—which achieves even higher performance in the show car.

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CMU, Ford, Drexel study suggests Chinese more receptive to adopting BEVs than Americans, regardless of subsidies

February 23, 2015

Results from a study by a team from Carnegie Mellon University, Ford and Drexel University suggest that Chinese consumers are more receptive to adopting battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) than their American counterparts, regardless of subsidies. The study is published in the journal Transportation Research Part A.

The team modeled consumer preferences and willingness to pay (WTP) for conventional, hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV), and battery electric (BEV) vehicle technologies in China and the US using data from choice-based conjoint surveys fielded in 2012–2013 in both countries. They found that find that gasoline vehicles continue to be most attractive to consumers both countries, and that American respondents have significantly lower relative willingness-to-pay for BEV technology than Chinese respondents. Although plug-in subsidies in the US and Chinese subsidies both favor vehicles with larger battery packs, differences in consumer preferences lead to different outcomes, they found.

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Mitsubishi introduces Concept GC-PHEV SUV to North America

February 13, 2015

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Concept GC-PHEV. Click to enlarge.

Mitsubishi staged the North American debut of its Concept GC-PHEV (“Grand Cruiser”)—a next-generation full-size crossover plug-in hybrid. (Earlier post.) The Concept GC-PHEV features a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 gasoline engine paired with a high-output electric motor; 12 kWh lithium-ion battery; 8-speed automatic transmission; and Mitsubishi Motors’ advanced full-time Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) all-wheel drive. The PHEV drivetrain offers high performance (335 bhp/250 kW) combined with excellent fuel economy.

For additional power optimization with reduced exhaust emissions, the 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 engine benefits from the latest iteration of Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control (MIVEC) variable valve timing.

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Porsche names GKN Driveline “Technology Partner” for eAxle system in 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid supercar

February 12, 2015

Porsche has awarded GKN Driveline “Technology Partner” status for its development of the high-performance eAxle for the 918 Spyder, an advanced plug-in hybrid supercar. (Earlier post.) GKN Driveline’s eAxle module—used for the 918 Spyder’s front axle—supports full-electric mode, all-wheel drive and provides a boost function.

The eAxle that supplements the 918 Spyder’s hybridized 4.6-liter V8 is an evolution of the company’s innovative eAxle drive. (Earlier post.) The module has maximum power of 95 kW and can deliver up to 1500 N·m (1,106 lb-ft) of torque to the front wheels via a fixed gear ratio. A specially developed compact differential engages the torque seamlessly, giving the 918 Spyder optimum power distribution at all times. The differential also disengages the module to minimize drag losses and maximize efficiency. At speeds above 265 km/h (164 mph), a clutch isolates the electric motor to prevent it from over-spinning.

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PG&E proposes major build-out of 25,000 electric vehicle charging stations in California

February 09, 2015

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has filed an application with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for permission to build an estimated 25,000 electric vehicle (EV) chargers at sites across its service area in Northern and Central California—8 times the number currently installed. If approved, this program would be the largest deployment of EV charging stations in the country, PG&E said.

The cost of the plan would be shared by all electric customers as a contribution to helping the state meet its clean air and climate goals. The total impact on system average bundled rates would be minimal in 2016 and 2017 and would average only a tenth of a cent per kilowatt-hour over the next five years of the program. A typical residential customer would pay about 70 cents more per month over the period 2018 to 2022, according to PG&E.

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Lux Research: despite cheap oil, niche plug-in vehicle sales will be resilient; conventional hybrids to be hardest hit

February 02, 2015

The current plunge in oil prices will likely negatively affect plug-in and hybrid vehicle sales in the short term; automakers such as BMW are already warning of lower sales of plug-in vehicles given the market context. However, an analysis by Lux Research suggests that despite some decrease in sales, sales of plug-in vehicles will likely be resilient, and rebound as oil prices rise back to the prior higher levels over time.

In the likely case of only a gradual return to previous higher prices—which Lux calls the “cheap oil” scenario in its analysis—then electric vehicle (EV) sales will dip by 20% for a number of years, while plug-in hybrid (PHEV) sales will dip by about 14% during that same period, the research firm found. The forecast declines are relative to the other forecasted scenario, in which oil prices rebound much more quickly—the “stable oil” scenario.

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Navigant forecasts 29.3% CAGR growth for electric-drive and electric-assisted commercial vehicles to nearly 160K units in 2023

January 28, 2015

In a new report, Navigant Research forecasts that global sales of electric drive and electric-assisted medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles (MHDV, Classes 3 to 8) will grow from less than 16,000 in 2014 to nearly 160,000 in 2023, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 29.3%. Powertrain type included in the report are hybrid-electric, plug-in hybrid electric, and battery electric. Onboard energy storage can be achieved via batteries, ultracapacitors, or a combination of both.

The medium and heavy duty vehicle (MHDV) market includes all highway-capable vehicles in excess of 10,000 lbs (4,536 kg) gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). Navigant Research defines medium duty (MD) vehicles as between 10,000 lbs and 26,000 lbs (11,793 kg) and heavy duty (HD) vehicles as greater than 26,000 lbs.

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DOE to issue $35M funding opportunity for hydrogen and fuel cell technology; Class 1-2 fuel cell plug-in hybrids

January 24, 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) intends to issue a $35-million funding opportunity (FOA DE-FOA-0001224) (earlier post) covering a broad spectrum of its Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) portfolio with topics ranging from research and development (R&D) to demonstration and deployment projects.

In particular, the R&D areas of interest for this FOA will include hydrogen production via microbial biomass conversion; low PGM (Platinum Group Metal) catalyst development for PEM fuel cell applications; development of an integrated intelligent hydrogen dispenser; and fuel cell and hydrogen manufacturing R&D focusing on hydrogen delivery pipeline manufacturing R&D. This FOA also includes demonstration topic areas that will help to accelerate adoption of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies with specific interest in mobile hydrogen refuelers; fuel cell powered range extenders for light duty hybrid electric vehicles; and a Communities of Excellence topic featuring hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.

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BYD Tang SUV PHEV available for pre-orders starting at $48.3K before incentives; twice that for performance model

January 23, 2015

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Tang. Click to enlarge.

BYD has begun taking pre-orders for the Tang plug-in hybrid SUV (earlier post) in China with a starting price of 300,000 RMB (US$48,306) before EV incentives. (The higher-performance top end model goes for twice that.) BYD said that demand for the BYD Tang, originally introduced at the 2014 Beijing Auto Show, is high; BYD expects orders for the Tang quickly to surpass those for the Qin plug-in hybrid (earlier post)—at 14,747 units, the best-selling plug-in in China in 2014.

The Tang uses BYD Auto’s second-generation DM (Dual-Mode) 2.0 PHEV platform, and the first of its much-touted 5-4-2 platform models: 5: standing for 0-100km/h (0-60 mph) in less than 5 seconds; 4: standing for 4-wheel drive; 2: standing for less than 2 liters average consumed over 100 km (117.5 mpg US).

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VW, BMW and ChargePoint partner to create SAE Combo DC fast charging corridors on the East and West Coasts

January 22, 2015

In a major boost to the availability of public fast charging stations with SAE Combo connectors (J1772, earlier post), Volkswagen of America and BMW of North America, together with ChargePoint, the largest electric vehicle charging network, announced at the Washington Auto Show an initiative to create more express charging corridors along heavily-traveled routes on the East and West Coasts.

In the initial phase, the aim is to install nearly 100 DC Fast charging ports across both coasts, with plans to expand the program to increase access to fast charging across the country. The installations will occur both within and between relevant metro areas, strategically spaced at a maximum of 50 miles (80 km) apart. Each fast charging location along the express charging corridors is expected to include up to two 50 kW DC fast chargers or 24 kW DC fast chargers with the SAE Combo connector. The 50 kW fast chargers will also have a CHAdeMO connector available, according to Volkswagen, while the 24 kW units will be SAE Combo only, at least to start.

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Honda brings FCV Concept to N. America, promises new EV and PHEV models by 2018

January 13, 2015

Honda staged the North American debut of the Honda FCV fuel cell vehicle at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS); the company also announced US availability for the FCV in 2016. (Earlier post.)

Honda also used the venue to announce that it will offer several next-generation, advanced powertrain vehicles, including a new battery-electric model and plug-in hybrid model by 2018. Additionally, Honda said it plans further application of its two- and three-motor hybrid systems in the years to come. Honda also announced plans to introduce new VTEC Turbo engines to be built in Ohio and debut later in 2015.

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Hyundai launches Sonata PHEV; 22-mile electric range

January 12, 2015

Hyundai lanched the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle—Hyundai’s first plug-in hybrid vehicle—along with the hybrid version of the seventh-generation Sonata, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The PHEV is fitted with a 9.8 kWh lithium polymer battery pack—roughly five times larger than the Sonata Hybrid’s battery—and is expected to travel up to 22 miles (35 km) on electric power alone. Recharging takes as little as two and a half hours with a Level 2 charger. Sonata Plug-in Hybrid will be built at the Asan, South Korea plant and will go on sale in select markets later this year.

Sonata Plug-in Hybrid uses a six-speed automatic transmission with Hyundai’s Transmission-Mounted Electrical Device (TMED), a 50 kW electric motor, in place of a torque converter. The 50 kW electric motor is 32% more powerful than the motor used the in regular Sonata Hybrid and allows EV operation at higher speeds. A 2.0-liter Nu four-cylinder GDI engine coupled with the electric motor allows the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid to operate just like the Sonata Hybrid once the onboard battery charge is depleted. Sonata PHEV’s Nu engine produces 154 horsepower (115 kW) and 140 lb-ft (190 N·m) of torque; total system output is 202 horsepower (151 kW) at 6,000 rpm.

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Mercedes-Benz introduces C 350 PLUG-IN HYBRID; on sale in March

Mercedes-Benz introduced the C 350 PLUG-IN HYBRID, in both sedan and wagon versions, at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). Following the C 300 BlueTEC HYBRID, the C 350 PLUG-IN HYBRID is the second hybrid model in the new C-Class and the second Mercedes-Benz model (following the S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID) to feature PLUG-IN HYBRID technology. Its four-cylinder gasoline engine, in conjunction with 60 kW electric motor, gives it a total system output of 205 kW (279 hp) and torque of 600 N·m (443 lb-ft).

The all-electric range is 31 kilometers (19 miles); fuel consumption figures is 2.1 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers both versions. This corresponds to CO2 emissions of 48 grams (49 grams for the wagon) per kilometer. Both models are also equipped as standard with AIRMATIC air suspension plus a Pre-Entry Climate Control system that can be controlled via the internet. The C 350 PLUG-IN HYBRID will be at dealerships from March 2015.

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VW unveils Cross Coupe GTE plug-in hybrid concept SUV at Detroit show; 70 mpge; previewing 7-seater SUV in 2016

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Cross Coupe GTE. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen is unveiling a five-seater Cross Coupe GTE plug-in hybrid at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit as a preview to its new seven-seater mid-size SUV due to enter production at the end of 2016. The Cross Coupe GTE plug-in hybrid system has a maximum output of 355 hp (265 kW) and features an all-wheel-drive system that uses an “electric driveshaft”. The hybrid has a manufacturer-estimated fuel economy rating of 70 MPGe.

The GTE acronym generally applies to all sporty Volkswagen models with a high-tech plug-in hybrid drivetrain. They offer the driving characteristics of a grand tourer (Gran Turismo or GT) and, with one or more electric motors and a battery (E as in Electric), they also offer zero-emissions driving. (E.g., the Golf GTE, earlier post.) The Cross Coupe has a zero-emissions range of up to 20 miles (32 km) and can reach 60 mph from rest in just 6.0 seconds. The car has five operating modes: E-Mode, GTE, Hybrid, Off-road and Battery Hold/Battery Charge.

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Next-gen Chevy Volt EREV is more efficient, with 50-mile electric range

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The new Chevy Volt has a decidedly more sculpted look than its predecessor. Click to enlarge.

Chevrolet unveiled the second-generation Volt extended range EV at the North American International Auto Show. With a sportier design and an entirely new drive system (earlier post), the 2016 Volt electric car features a higher capacity battery pack and 50 miles of all-electric range (MY 2015 = 38 miles); greater efficiency; and stronger acceleration. GM estimates fuel economy to be 41 mpg combined (MY 2015 = 37 mpg) with 102 mpge (MY 2015 = 98 mpge). The 2016 Volt goes on sale in the second half of 2015.

The new propulsion system will offer a General Motors’-estimated total driving range of some 420 miles and with regular charging, owners are expected to travel more than 1,000 miles on average between gas fill-ups. Currently, drivers of the first-generation Volt are averaging more than 900 miles between fill-ups. Put another way, drivers of the first gen Volt drive electric about 80% of the time, said Andrew Farah, chief vehicle engineer for both generations of the Volt. Farah suggested that the new Volt may be able to boost that figure to nearly 90% in moderate climates.

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BMW presents research application for inductive charging at CES

January 07, 2015

At CES, BMW is demonstrating a research application for inductive—i.e. wireless—battery charging using a BMW i8. Earlier this year, BMW and Daimler agreed jointly to develop and to implement one common technology for wireless recharging high-voltage batteries of electric drive and plug-in hybrid vehicles. (Earlier post.)

Inductive charging provides reliable, wear-free and user-friendly EV battery charging using a magnetic field, without the need for a hard-wired connection between the vehicle and the power source. The system comprises a primary and a secondary coil. The primary coil is fitted in a base pad underneath the vehicle, for example on or embedded in the garage floor. The secondary coil is integrated in the underside of the BMW i8.

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Volkswagen showcases inductive charging w/ “power lift”, autonomous and semi-autonomous capabilities & gesture control at CES

January 06, 2015

At the 2015 CES in Las Vegas, Volkswagen is showcasing the ongoing development of more connected, more intelligent vehicles by demonstrating four main aspects of emerging mobility technology: computer-controlled drive systems; app and smartphone integration; intuitive vehicle operation; and autonomous and semi-autonomous driving.

These technologies are realized in several different vehicles for CES: the e-Golf Intelligent Charge with inductive charging (with “power lift”); an e-Golf with Trained Parking; the Golf R Touch concept with gesture control; and the Connected Golf—an e-Golf equipped with the latest generation (MIB II) infotainment system incorporating a range of apps, smartphones and tablets via a progressive interface management system.

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Audi boosting investment over next 5 years by 9% to €24B; 70% to new models and technology

December 27, 2014

From 2015 through 2019, Audi plans to invest €24 billion (US$29 billion)—€2 billion (US$2.4 billion), or 9% more, more than in the previous planning period. 70 percent of the investment will flow into the development of new models and technologies. Audi aims to meet stringent CO2 limits worldwide with a new generation of extremely economical combustion engines and alternative efficiency technologies as well as new features in the areas of connectivity and driver assistance.

Audi also plans to create additional production capacities worldwide in the next five years through large-scale investment. More than half of the planned investment will take place at the German sites in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm.

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ORNL, UT Austin team proposes optimization framework for hybrids; balancing fuel consumption, motor efficiency, battery capacity and life

December 22, 2014

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Sample output. Effect of increasing the β weighting factor (problem formulation with battery) and applying a higher cooling rate (problem formulation without battery) on the cumulative fuel consumption for the UDDS at a 70% target SoC. Shaltout et al. Click to enlarge.

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Texas at Austin have developed an optimization framework for hybrid-electric and plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs and PHEVs) including fuel consumption, motor efficiency, and battery capacity and lifetime. The approach, detailed in a paper accepted for publication in the IEEE Transactions On Control Systems Technology, is intended to enhance the understanding of the associated tradeoffs among the HEV subsystems—e.g., engine, motor, battery—and to investigate the related implications for fuel consumption and battery capacity and lifetime.

With the framework, the performance of the subsystems can be tailored according to consumer preferences, such as reducing fuel consumption or extending battery life. Further, the ability to control battery performance indices—e.g., temperature—enables operating the battery at a higher target SoC (state of charge) without incurring safety concerns. As a result, the results of such analyses could have significant implications for the related HEV and PHEV ownership and warranty costs.

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DOE releases report from 6 projects evaluating EV charging impacts on grid and customer charging behaviors

December 21, 2014

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Charging patterns with (TOU) and without (RES) whole house time-of-use rate during summer weekdays at Progress Energy, one of the participating utilities. (Peak period is in gray.) Click to enlarge.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has released a report detailing the findings from six utilities which evaluated operations and customer charging behaviors for in-home and public electric vehicle charging stations. The work was done under the DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability’s (OE) Smart Grid Investment Grant (SGIG program).

This report provides the results of these SGIG projects to help individual utilities determine how long existing electric distribution infrastructure will remain sufficient to accommodate demand growth from electric vehicles, and when and what type of capacity upgrades or additions may be needed. The report also examines when consumers want to recharge vehicles, and to what extent pricing and incentives can encourage consumers to charge during off-peak periods.

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

December 19, 2014

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

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

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California to award up to $4M for projects to advanced smart charging and V2G technologies

The California Energy Commission has issued a solicitation (PON-14-310, Driving the Integration of Electric Vehicles to Maximize Benefits to the Grid) to fund Applied Research and Development projects that will advance technologies and strategies for smart and efficient charging and vehicle-to-grid communication interfaces that will provide maximum benefits to both the electricity grid and the plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) market.

There is up to $4 million available for grants awarded under this solicitation. The minimum funding amount for each project is $500,000; maximum funding amount is $1.5 million. Match funding is not required for this solicitation; however, applications that include match funding will receive additional points during the scoring phase.

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

December 17, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ABB-led consortium launches $10.5M project to install fast chargers along key European highways

December 16, 2014

A 5-partner consortium led by ABB has launched a €8.4-million (US$10.5-million) project, co-funded 50% by the European Union, to install a corridor of high-quality fast chargers along key European motorways until the end of 2015. In addition to ABB, the consortium includes the Dutch e-mobility operator and retailer Fastned B.V.; the Danish e-mobility operator CLEVER A/S; the Swedish public utility and e-mobility operator Öresundskraft AB; and the German Testing and Certification Institute VDE Prüf-und Zertifizierungsinstitut GmbH.

The aim of the ELECTRIC project is to create an open-access fast-charging corridor situated along major motorways connecting Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands via a total of 155 chargers, with up to 30 in the Netherlands, 23 in Denmark, 35 in Sweden and 67 in Germany.

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

December 12, 2014

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The new Q7. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

December 08, 2014

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XC90 T8. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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Siemens, Duke Energy and Ford demonstrate lower cost home smart charging technology for plug-ins; due on market next year

December 05, 2014

Siemens Energy Management Division has teamed with Duke Energy and Ford to demonstrate the results of an 18-month effort to reduce the cost and expand electric vehicle charging technologies. Held at the Duke Energy Envision Center in Erlanger, Ky., and utilizing a Ford Fusion Energi Plug-In Hybrid, Siemens provided the first UL-approved residential electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) to demonstrate the ability to monitor status, report energy use, and be controlled locally from the local area network and from the cloud.

In 2012, Siemens was awarded $1.6 million in development funding from the US Department of Energy (DOE) to support research aimed at significantly reducing the current costs of electrical vehicle (EV) chargers and developing “smart” charging capabilities that support power grid efficiency and consumer demand.

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ANSI EV standards panel releases progress report on standardization activities

December 03, 2014

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Electric Vehicles Standards Panel (EVSP) published of a Progress Report on activity within the standardization community to address the gaps and recommendations described in the ANSI EVSP’s Standardization Roadmap for Electric Vehicles – Version 2.0 (May 2013). (Earlier post.)

Available as a free download, the report outlines significant developments including new areas where there is a perceived need for additional standardization work to facilitate the safe, mass deployment of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and charging infrastructure in the United States.

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

December 01, 2014

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

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

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

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

November 27, 2014

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

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

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

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DOE to fund development of processes to aggregate purchases of alt-fuel and advanced vehicles; goal is cost reduction and accelerated adoption

November 21, 2014

DOE plans (DE-FOA-0001236) to issue in the February 2015 timeframe a funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0001237) to develop and to implement effective purchasing/procurement processes designed to coordinate and consolidate bulk alternative fuel vehicle and advanced vehicle orders and thus reduce the per-unit prices of commercially-available vehicles.

DOE expects that such an aggregated purchasing/procurement process will enable original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and suppliers to increase production volumes; achieve economies of scale; and reduce incremental vehicle costs specific to electric drive, natural gas, propane, hybrid, and other alternative fuel vehicle and advanced vehicle technologies.

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Mitsubishi shows XR-PHEV concept at LA Show

November 20, 2014

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

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

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

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Air Force tests all plug-in vehicle fleet in California; part of large DoD V2G project

November 14, 2014

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A fleet of plug-in electric vehicles sits ready to roll at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, California. (US Air Force photo by Sarah Corrice/RELEASED.) Click to enlarge.

The Air Force unveiled the Department of Defense’s first non-tactical vehicle fleet composed entirely of plug-in electric vehicles at Los Angeles Air Force Base today. The 42-vehicle fleet marks a milestone in partnership between federal, state and private energy organizations, as well as in DoD’s demonstration of emerging vehicle-to-grid technology.

The PEV fleet includes both electric and hybrid vehicles ranging from sedans to trucks and a 12-passenger van. California energy providers and regulators worked closely with the Air Force on safety and performance testing as well as technical and regulatory aspects of launching the vehicles.

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Tritium launches Fast Cities Network charging initiative; Australia’s largest fast charging network for EVs

November 11, 2014

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The Fast Cities Network. Click to enlarge.

Brisbane, Australia-based Tritium, developer of the Veefil Electric Vehicle (EV) Fast Charger, has launched a Fast Cities Network initiative to establish Australia’s largest fast-charging network in Australia and the first in Eastern Australia. Located within the SE Queensland region, the proposed 430 km (267-mile) network will create an electric super highway, showcasing intra-city and intercity travel for EVs in Brisbane and the Gold Coast area.

The Fast Cities Network will connect Brisbane to Noosa, Toowoomba and Byron Bay, making charging quick, easy and convenient for drivers of pure electric and hybrid vehicles. Twelve Veefil fast charge points will be strategically located along major transport corridors, meeting around 95% of the travel needs of people living in South East Queensland.

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

November 04, 2014

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

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

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

October 31, 2014

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

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

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First look at all-new Voltec propulsion system for 2G Volt; “the only thing in common is a shipping cap”

October 29, 2014

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Cutaway of the new power electronics unit, which is much smaller than in gen 1, and which is now integrated into the drive unit housing. The power electronics and the motors use separate cooling: water for the PE and ol for the motor unit. Click to enlarge.

The second-generation Volt, which makes its world debut in about 10 weeks at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, features a clean-sheet, all-new Voltec propulsion system—new battery, new electric drive unit, new power electronics and new range-extending engine. At an introductory media briefing on the new powertrain held at the Warren Transmission Plant in Michigan, where the new drive unit will be built, Larry Nitz, GM Executive Director, Transmission and Electrification, noted that the only common part between the gen 1 and gen 2 drive units was a little yellow plastic intra-plant shipping cap for the manual selector.

The battery cells, with a tweaked NMC/LMO chemistry from LG, increase storage capacity by 20% volumetrically when compared to the original cell. The drive unit features a large number of changes: new roles for the two motors, two clutches instead of three, and a smaller power electronics unit integrated into the housing among them. (No more big orange high-voltage cables underneath the hood.) The new direct-injected 1.5 liter engine with cooled EGR features a high compression ratio and is optimized to function in its range extender role.

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

October 28, 2014

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

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

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European Council endorses 40% GHG cut by 2030; requests ways to cut transport emissions via efficiency, electrification and renewable fuels

October 24, 2014

On 23 October, leaders of the European Union agreed on the climate and energy policy framework for the EU for the period from 2020 to 2030. During its meeting, the European Council endorsed 4 targets: a binding EU target of at least 40% less greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared to 1990; a binding target of at least 27% of renewable energy used at EU level; an energy efficiency increase of at least 27%; and the completion of the EU-internal energy market by reaching an electricity interconnection target of 15% between members states and pushing forward important infrastructure projects.

The Council members also requested further examination by the European Commission on instruments and measures for a comprehensive and technology-neutral approach to reduce emissions and increase energy efficiency in transport, for electric transportation and for the use of renewable energy sources in transport after 2020.

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8 ZEV states announce US ZEV sales top 260,000 units

October 23, 2014

Representatives of an eight-state partnership to develop and to support the market for zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) joined California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary D. Nichols in Diamond Bar, California to announce that sales figures from around the country now show ZEV sales of more than 260,000 vehicles, with the quarter-million mark reached in September.

In October 2013, the 8 states signed a memorandum of understanding to take specific actions to put 3.3 million ZEVS on the roads in their states by 2025 (earlier post); the partners released a ZEV Action Plan in June 2014 (earlier post). Californians have purchased or leased more than 100,000 ZEVs. The other seven states—Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont—account for more than 135,000 vehicles.

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

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

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

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CMU/MIT study finds large-scale battery manufacturing will do little to reduce unit costs past a 200-300 MWh annual production level

October 22, 2014

A new techno-economic analysis by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and MIT has found that economies of scale for manufacturing current Li-ion batteries for light-duty EV applications (in this case, prismatic pouch NMC333-G batteries and packs) are reached quickly at around 200-300 MWh annual production. Increased volume beyond that does little to reduce unit costs, except potentially indirectly through factors such as experience, learning, and innovation, they determined.

That’s comparable to the amount of batteries produced for the Nissan Leaf or the Chevy Volt last year,” said CMU’s Dr. Jeremy Michalek, the corresponding author of a paper on the research published in the Journal of Power Sources. “Past this point, higher volume alone won’t do much to cut cost. Battery cost is the single largest economic barrier for mainstream adoption of electric vehicles, and large factories alone aren’t likely to solve the battery cost problem.

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California ARB mods to ZEV regulations for IVMs would result in ~1.9% drop in total ZEV/TZEV units 2018-2025; no impact on air quality requirements

October 20, 2014

Early in September, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) announced it would consider in a 23-24 October meeting amendments to the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) regulation that would modify the requirements for intermediate volume manufacturers (IVMs) selling into the state to allow them more time to come into the market. (Earlier post.)

Among the proposed changes were additional production lead time; a reduced compliance obligation (i.e., lower numbers of ZEVs); an opportunity to pool compliance obligations in ZEV states; and additional time to make up ZEV credit deficits. ARB staff estimated the proposed modifications could reduce total California deliveries of ZEVs (fuel cell and battery-electric vehicles) and TZEVs (Transition Zero Emission Vehicles, i.e., plug-in hybrids) by a total of about 26,000 units in the 2018 through 2025 timeframe out of the originally estimated 1,400,000 ZEVs and TZEVs for that period under the current regulation—i.e., by about 1.9%. (For MY 2026 and following, the reduced compliance obligation goes away.)

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

October 17, 2014

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

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

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

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EPRI and partners to stage public demo of Open Vehicle-Grid Integration (VGI) Platform software

October 14, 2014

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), along with several auto manufacturers, utilities, and regional transmission organizations, will demonstrate the Open Vehicle-Grid Integration (VGI) Platform software system, developed by EPRI and Sumitomo Electric Industries. The software is an advanced software platform for integrating plug-in electric vehicles (PEV) with smart grid technologies. (Earlier post.)

The live demonstration will showcase demand response and load curtailment capabilities through a single standards-based interface. The demonstration will involve 8 EV manufacturers, and attendees will include representatives from the state and federal public agencies involved with clean energy and transportation technologies, as well as the utility and automotive industries.

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

October 13, 2014

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

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

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UC Davis ITS study suggests hastening consumer adoption of plug-ins will require innovation on the sales side

October 12, 2014

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Ratings of buyer satisfaction with the new vehicle purchase experience by phase of the purchase process from 2013 SSI buyer index scores. Source: ICCT. Click to enlarge.

A study by researchers at the Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis finds that buyers of plug-in vehicles (PEVs) are substantially less satisfied with the dealer purchase experience than buyers of conventional vehicles—with the notable exception of Tesla buyers. A fundamental problem appears to be divergent expectations regarding the level of support buyers receive from dealerships.

In a new working paper, the team contends that PEVs require innovation in how these products are retailed to customers as well as demanding changes in consumer behavior and relying on new support infrastructure. While the diversity of the dealer community could foster innovation in retail activities, the same diversity could also hinder the quality and pace of diffusion amongst dealers. This, in turn, the team suggests, could—through a sub-par purchase experience—hinder the quality and pace of the adoption of plug-in vehicles by customers. This dynamic may have repercussions for achieving ZEV targets and potentially other regulatory objectives, they note.

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

October 11, 2014

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

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

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

October 10, 2014

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

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

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

October 02, 2014

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

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

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

October 01, 2014

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Volkswagen XL Sport concept. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

September 29, 2014

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Passat GTE sedan. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

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Passat GTE sedan. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

September 26, 2014

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Rendering of friction plate. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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California governor signs 6 bills to advance state’s electric vehicle market; HOT and HOV benefits

September 22, 2014

Capping off National Drive Electric Week, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law half a dozen bills to strengthen California’s best-in-the-nation electric vehicle market, including free or reduced-rate access to new high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes, and more HOV stickers for plug-in hybrids.

The action builds on the state’s efforts to support the growth of the electric vehicle market, including legislation Governor Brown signed last year and the executive order he issued in 2012 to establish a target of 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road in California by 2025 and a number of other long-term goals. California accounts for 40% of US plug-in electric vehicle sales and earlier this month, surpassed 100,000 plug-in electric vehicles sold. (Earlier post.)

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

September 19, 2014

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

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

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

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Peugeot showcasing QUARTZ plug-in hybrid crossover concept at Paris

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Peugeot QUARTZ Concept. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

September 17, 2014

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EOLAB. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

September 15, 2014

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S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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California Energy Commission to award $13M to further ZEVs and advanced vehicle technology manufacturing in the state

September 10, 2014

The California Energy Commission has issued two solicitations for a combined $13.3 million to further advanced ZEV and advanced vehicle technologies in the state. The first, Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Readiness (PON-14-603), will award about $3.3 million to support planning efforts for plug-in and fuel cell vehicles.

The second, Advanced Vehicle Technology Manufacturing (PON-14-604), will award about $10 million to support the development of either full advanced vehicles or advanced vehicle components in the state.

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CATARC and UC Davis establish China-US ZEV Policy Lab to accelerate adoption of plug-in and fuel cell cars in US and in China

September 08, 2014

The University of California, Davis, and the China Automotive Technology and Research Center (CATARC) have entered a new agreement to work together to help speed the commercialization of plug-in and fuel cell electric cars in China. CATARC is China’s the administrative body that oversees and regulates many activities of the auto industry in China, the world’s largest new-car market, and in the US.

The five-year memorandum of understanding, signed on 6 September during the 2014 International Forum on Chinese Automotive Industry Development in Tianjin, China, establishes the China–US ZEV Policy Lab. Primary UC Davis partners are the Institute of Transportation Studies and the UC Davis Policy Institute for Energy, Environment and the Economy.

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California ARB considering modifications to ZEV regs to provide more flexibility for intermediate volume manufacturers

September 03, 2014

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) will conduct a public hearing on 23 October to consider amendments to the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) regulation that would modify the requirements for intermediate volume manufacturers (IVMs) selling into the state to allow them more time to come into the advanced technology vehicle market.

The modifications to the ZEV rule, developed by the ARB staff to be presented to the Board at the meeting, provide additional compliance flexibility to the IVMs by providing additional production lead time; a reduced compliance obligation; an opportunity to pool compliance obligations in ZEV states; and additional time to make up ZEV credit deficits.

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Wireless charging company WiTricity scaling up EV charging capability as well as itself

September 02, 2014

WiTricity, the MIT spin-off commercializing strongly coupled magnetic resonance wireless charging technology for EVs as well as consumer devices, industrial, medical and military applications (earlier post), has work underway to deliver wireless charging systems capable of delivering 10s of kilowatts for plug-ins, compared to the current 3.3 or 6.6 kW, says CEO Alex Gruzen.

In addition to its ongoing work on the technology, WiTricity has been steadily tuning its executive suite over the past few months, starting with the naming of Gruzen as CEO in April. Gruzen succeeded Eric Giler who, in his five-plus year term as CEO, successfully established WiTricity’s business foundation and commercial capabilities. Giler remains a member of the WiTricity Board of Directors. Gruzen earlier served in senior management roles at Dell, HP, Compaq and Sony.

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

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

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

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

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Study suggests OEMs should use a modular design for PHEV and EREV vehicle battery packs to offer capacity choices to customers

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TCO in € cents/km of EREV as a function of battery size for users with different annual mileages. Redelbach et al. Click to enlarge.

Car manufacturers should develop a modular design for plug-in hybrid and extended range electric vehicles (PHEVs and EREVs), allowing them to offer a choice of storage capacity to meet individual customer requirements rather than forcing a “one size fits all” approach, according to the results of a German-market-specific TCO study by a team from the Institute of Vehicle Concepts, German Aerospace Center (DLR).

The authors of the study, published in the journal Energy Policy, stress that they are not suggesting OEMs offer each customer an individual battery size, but rather than they offer, as an example, three different battery sizes dedicated to drivers with low, average and high mileage. The development of a modular design for battery packs could help OEMs to change the size with less effort and few implications on the rest of the vehicle, they suggested. (This is analogous to the approach taken by Tesla Motors with its two—originally three—pack capacity sizes offered in the Model S.)

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

August 29, 2014

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

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

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Volvo reveals new XC90; limited diesel, gasoline First Edition on sale only online

August 27, 2014

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The new XC90, with “Thor’s hammer” DRL lights. Click to enlarge.

Volvo Cars revealed the XC90, its new 7-seat SUV, at an event in Sweden. Three years in the making and part of an $11-billion investment program, the new XC90 leverages the new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) technology, and will offer a range of two-liter, four-cylinder Drive-E powertrains. The two launch engines are the D5 twin turbo diesel and the T6 supercharged and turbocharged gasoline unit. Top of the model range will be the XC90 Twin Engine—a plug-in hybrid delivering around 400 hp (298 kW) with carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of around 60 g/km (NEDC driving cycle). (Earlier post.)

Volvo Cars also announced the release of a limited First Edition of its new flagship; the 1,927 individually numbered cars celebrate the year Volvo was founded and will only be available for sale online at www.volvocars.com, beginning 3 Sep.

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Polestar modestly optimizes Volvo V60 diesel Plug-in Hybrid

August 15, 2014

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

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

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

August 05, 2014

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

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

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

July 31, 2014

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A3 e-tron. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

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S 500 Plug-In Hybrid. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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BMW introduces compact i DC Fast Chargers; ChargeNow DC Fast program for no-cost 30-min charge through 2015

July 28, 2014

BMW of North America launched its BMW i DC Fast Chargers, which can charge the BMW i3 all-electric vehicle’s battery up to 80% in 30 minutes, at the Plug-In 2014 conference. The fast chargers are a joint development between BMW and Bosch Automotive Service Solutions.

BMW also announced its new ChargeNow DC Fast program in cooperation with NRG eVgo, in which BMW i3 drivers in California can enjoy no-cost unlimited 30 minute DC fast charging, at NRG eVgo Freedom Station sites equipped with DC Combo Fast Charging, through 2015.

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Study finds testing the technology the strongest initial motivation for fleet managers adopting EVs

July 25, 2014

According to a report from Frost and Sullivan (Kumar, 2013), fleet managers adopted more than half of EVs sold globally up to 2013. A new study of factors influencing fleet managers’ adoption of electric vehicles has found that testing new technologies was the strongest driver of initial EV adoption, followed by lowering environmental impacts; government grants; and improving the organization’s public image. Thereafter fleet managers adopted or indicated an intent to adopt a larger number of EVs because of the benefits that they offer.

The study by William Sierzchula at Delft University of Technology, published in the journal Transportation Research Part D, used fleet manager interviews and pilot project report to investigate 14 US and Dutch organizations that adopted EVs from 2010 to 2013 to determine which factors influenced their purchase decisions. In addition, Sierzchula also analyzed the reasons why these same firms did or did not expand their EV fleets.

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

July 24, 2014

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

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

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California Energy Commission approves $46.6M for hydrogen refueling and $2.8M for EV charging projects

The California Energy Commission gave final approval for nearly $50 million in grant awards for hydrogen refueling and electric charging construction projects recommended for funding in notices of proposed awards published in April and May.

California’s zero-emission vehicle goal is to get 1.5 million hydrogen, battery electric, and plug-in electric vehicles on the roadway by 2025. In response to this directive, the Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP) has already allocated nearly $400 million to help bolster statewide infrastructure and create a viable market for zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), and to promote alternative fuels.

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EEI encourages utilities to spend at least 5% of fleet acquisition budgets on plug-ins

July 23, 2014

The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) released a white paper, “Transportation Electrification: Utility Fleets Leading the Charge,” that focuses on the electric power industry’s effort to accelerate the expansion of electric transportation in commercial and retail markets, beginning with electric utility fleets. The paper encourages investor-owned electric utilities to meet an industry-wide goal to spend at least 5% of annual fleet acquisition budgets on plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and technologies.

An analysis of utility fleets by Utilimarc shows only about 1.7% of the vehicles purchased by electric utilities in the last five years were equipped with plug-in technology.

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

July 22, 2014

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

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

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

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

July 18, 2014

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

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

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

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

July 15, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 08, 2014

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

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

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

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