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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.]

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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World premiere of new Volkswagen Passat; 8th generation brings plug-in hybrid option

July 04, 2014

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The new Volkswagen Passat. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen unveiled the eight-generation Passat (earlier post) at the Volkswagen Design Centre in Potsdam. The new Passat made its global debut with new engines, less weight and with the latest assistance, Infotainment and convenience systems. The new Passat delivers improved fuel efficiency (up to 20%); diesel and gasoline powertrains; up to 85 kg less weight, and a plug-in hybrid option. At 1.1 million units a year (2013) Passat is the Volkswagen Group’s model series with the highest volume sold world-wide.

The new Passat will be available with 10 direct injection turbocharged gasoline and diesel engines—all new to the model range—covering a power range from 88 kW / 120 PS (118 hp) to 206 kW / 280 PS (276 hp). The engines all meet Euro 6 emission standards and both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions were lowered by up to 20%. All versions are equipped with a stop-start system and a regenerative braking mode. A dual clutch gearbox (DSG) is available as an option for all engine versions, and it is standard with the top engine.

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EDI partners with Greenkraft for parallel-series multi-mode Class-4 CNG-PHEV truck; CEC funding

June 30, 2014

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Greenkraft truck. Click to enlarge.

Efficient Drivetrains, Inc. (EDI), a producer of plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) and continuously variable transmission (CVT) solutions (earlier post), is partnering with Greenkraft, CALSTART, and the California Energy Commission (CEC) to develop a Class-4 vehicle that combines the benefits of compressed natural gas (CNG) and PHEV technology. EDI was co-founded by Professor Andy Frank from UC Davis—a key figure in the development of the PHEV concept and technology—in 2006.

The effort combines EDI’s intelligent multi-mode PHEV powertrain (EDI-Drive) with Greenkraft’s CNG-powered 14,500-pound, Class-4 medium-duty truck, which is equipped with a 6.0L GM engine. EDI’s solution can improve the fuel economy of a conventional CNG-powered medium-duty truck by more than 40%, the company said.

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US Hybrid awarded contract to deliver plug-in fuel cell shuttle bus to Hawaii County Mass Transit Agency

June 19, 2014

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The hydrogen shuttle bus. Click to enlarge.

California-based US Hybrid Corporation has been awarded a contract by the Hawaii Center for Advanced Transportation Technologies (HCATT) for the design, integration and delivery of its H2Ride Fuel Cell Plug-In Shuttle Bus for operation by the County of Hawaii Mass Transit Agency’s (MTA) HELE-ON Big Island bus service. The project is funded by the State of Hawaii and Office of Naval Research via the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI).

Integrated at US Hybrid’s Honolulu facility, the 25-passenger shuttle bus utilizes a 30 kW fuel cell fueled by a 20 kg hydrogen storage and delivery system. The fuel cell and 28 kWh lithium-ion battery pack power the vehicle’s 200 kW powertrain, air conditioning, and auxiliary systems. Onboard batteries are recharged by regenerative braking as well as grid charging. The US Hybrid fuel cell, powertrain, and vehicle controller optimizes power delivered by the energy storage and fuel cell power plant.

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Scaleo chip and IFP Energies nouvelles unveil OLEA microcontrollers in a plug-in hybrid car

June 18, 2014

Scaleo chip, a fabless semiconductor company specializing in automotive electronics, and IFP Energies nouvelles (IFPEN) announced the “FlexHybrid powered by OLEA”, the first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) driven by OLEA microcontrollers. (Earlier post.) The OLEA family of multicore powertrain microcontrollers implements AMEC (Advanced Motor Events Control) hardware for real-time engine control and events processing and the ISO 26262 ASIL-D SILant (Safety Integrity LeveL agent) functional safety architecture.

Scaleo chip, IFPEN, Continental and CEA partnered within the NextSTEP program (Next Solution for Thermal and Electrified Powertrain), to demonstrate the ability of Scaleo chip’s OLEA microcontroller’s to control the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle FlexHybrid. This program was also actively supported by Bpifrance, the French public investment bank.

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California online dashboard provides information about PEV buyers; importance of incentive funds, $130M from California paid out to date

June 15, 2014

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Survey results show the importance of incentives in PEV purchases. Click to enlarge.

A new online tool published by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) and California Center for Sustainable Energy offers the general public, researchers, policymakers and stakeholders the opportunity to learn about who is buying plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) in California, and why. The online “EV Driver Survey Dashboard” offers multiple approaches to analyzing the data provided by a survey of those who received rebates for purchasing PEVs.

The dashboard gathers data from California plug-in electric vehicle drivers, providing monthly updates of market data on a variety of demographic and behavioral topics. The survey data sample represents CVRP applicants who purchased their vehicle between September 2012 and April 2014. Surveys were collected between October 2013 and May 2014.

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Ohio State team wins EcoCAR2 competition with E85 series-parallel plug-in hybrid Malibu

June 13, 2014

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OSU’s series-parallel PHEV. Click to enlarge.

The US Department of Energy and General Motors Co. announced that the Ohio State University (OSU) team was the overall winner of the EcoCAR 2: Plugging In to the Future finals. The OSU team’s engineered 2013 Chevrolet Malibu featured a series-parallel plug-in hybrid drive with E85-fueled engine technology.

The OSU EcoCar2 Malibu featured an A123 18.9 kWh battery pack used with an 80 kW peak electric machine on the rear axle to provide power to the rear wheels through a single-speed gearbox. The vehicle’s front powertrain utilized a 1.8 L, high-compression-ratio engine recalibrated to run on E85 fuel and an 80 kW peak electric machine to provide power to the front wheels through a six-speed automated manual transmission. The vehicle is capable of operating in charge-depleting, charge-sustaining series and charge-sustaining parallel modes.

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Japan automakers form joint venture to advance electric charging infrastructure: Nippon Charge Service

May 30, 2014

Toyota Motor Corporation, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Honda Motor Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation have jointly established a new company, Nippon Charge Service, LLC, to promote the installation of chargers for plug-in electric vehicles (PHVs, PHEVs, EVs). The goal is to help build a charging network that offers more convenience to drivers in Japan.

The new company will promote the installation of chargers, for the good of society and to expand the use of electric-powered vehicles. Related industries are also expected to benefit. Development Bank of Japan Inc. (DBJ) will support the joint effort of the four automakers by investing in the new company with its “Fund for Japanese Industrial Competitiveness”.

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8-state alliance releases action plan to put 3.3M ZEVs on their roads by 2025

May 29, 2014

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Projected ZEV compliance scenario for the eight states. Click to enlarge.

Eight partnering states released their Multi-State ZEV Action Plan as the first promised milestone for the bi-coastal collaboration to pave the way for increasingly large numbers of zero emission vehicles: plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), battery electric vehicles (BEVs), and hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). The partner states are California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont. Together they represent about a quarter of the nation’s new car sales.

The governors of the 8 states began this latest collaboration with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on 24 October 2013. (Earlier post.) The ultimate goal is to reduce greenhouse gas and smog-causing emissions by transforming the transportation sector over the next 11 years.

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Industry study finds lead-acid to remain most wide-spread automotive energy storage for foreseeable future; new chemistries continue to grow

May 28, 2014

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Overview of the three vehicle classes identified in the study, and their corresponding battery technologies. Click to enlarge.

There would be a significant impact on the overall performance and cost of vehicles, plus an effect on targets for fuel efficiency and reduced CO2 emissions, if established battery applications were to be replaced with alternative technologies, according to a new study published by associations representing the European, Japanese and Korean automotive industry (ACEA, JAMA and KAMA); EUROBAT (the Association of European Automotive and Industrial Battery Manufacturers) and the International Lead Association (ILA).

The study, which provides a joint industry analysis of how different types of batteries are used in different automotive applications, concludes that lead-based batteries will by necessity remain the most wide-spread energy storage system in automotive applications for the foreseeable future.

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Volkswagen provides first technical details of Gen 8 Passat, including plug-in hybrid drive; multiple new assistance systems

May 27, 2014

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Among the features of the coming eighth-generation Passat is a lighter weight design and a new 2.0L bi-turbo diesel. A plug-in hybrid drivetrain will be on offer, also, making Passat Volkswagen’s third model with a PHEV option. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen has revealed the first technical details of the all-new Passat sedan and wagon—including the plug-in hybrid drive option—ahead of the cars’ unveiling in July, their public premiere at the Paris Motor Show in October, and their arrival in the first tranche of world markets in the fourth quarter. The eighth-generation Passat leverages advanced materials—including high-strength, hot-formed steel and aluminium in certain areas—to drop up to 85 kg (187 lbs) compared to its predecessor, helping it to claim expected fuel-efficiency improvements of up to 20%.

A highlight of the new MQB-based Passat’s range of engines is a high-performance, four-cylinder, 2.0-liter, bi-turbo diesel delivering 240 PS (237 hp, 177 kW) and 500 N·m (369 lb-ft) from 1,750 rpm. This engine will be available only with a new seven-speed DSG gearbox and 4MOTION all-wheel drive. A plug-in hybrid model will also be offered, with potential to travel 31 miles (50 km) powered by a 9.9 kWh battery pack alone power alone, and with a potential combined maximum range of around 600 miles (966 km).

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Navigant forecasts plug-in and fuel cell vehicles to be 2.5% of all vehicles in use in 2035; global parc of >2B vehicles

May 20, 2014

In a new report, Navigant Research estimates that nearly 84.1 million new light-duty vehicles (LDVs) will be sold globally in 2014, putting more than 1.2 billion vehicles on the world’s roads. The company forecasts that annual LDV sales will grow to 126.9 million in 2035, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.0%. The number of LDVs in use worldwide will grow by 72.4% over the forecast period—i.e., to more than 2 billion vehicles.

Navigant forecasts that sales of conventional ICE vehicles will fall significantly over the period, experiencing a CAGR of -6.7%; the share of vehicles in use with conventional ICE powertrains will thus fall from 95% in 2014 to 45% in 2035. Navigant suggests that conventional ICE vehicles will be mainly supplanted by stop-start vehicles (SSVs), which will grow from representing fewer than 3% of vehicles in use in 2014 to around 45% in 2035. Hybrid-electric and natural-gas (HEVs and NGVs) will account for almost 8% of global share, while plug-in hybrid (PHEV), battery-electric (BEV), and fuel-cell electric (FCV) together will add up to almost 2.5% of the LDVs in use in 2035.

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UC Riverside opening Sustainable Integrated Grid Initiative; integration of solar energy, battery storage and electric and hybrid vehicles

May 15, 2014

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Schematic of the “New Grid Testbed” components, including renewable energy generation, energy storage, smart distribution and electric transportation Click to enlarge.

The University of California, Riverside is opening its Sustainable Integrated Grid Initiative to research the integration of: intermittent renewable energy, such as photovoltaic solar panels; energy storage, such as batteries; and all types of electric and hybrid electric vehicles. It is the largest renewable energy project of its kind in California.

The first two years of operation is supported by a $2-million contract from the South Coast Air Quality Management District, awarded in January 2012. Construction of the initial testbed platform was also supported by an additional $10 million in contributions from UC Riverside and private partners. The testbed, which is located at UC Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT), includes:

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California Energy Commission publishes investment plan for alt and renewable fuel and vehicle technology, 2014-2015

May 14, 2014

The California Energy Commission has published the “2014‐2015 Investment Plan Update for the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program”. The 2014‐2015 Investment Plan Update covers the sixth year of the program and reflects laws, executive orders, and policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, petroleum dependence, and criteria emissions. It details how the California Energy Commission, with input from stakeholders and the program Advisory Committee, determines the program’s goal‐driven priorities, coupled with project opportunities for funding.

The Energy Commission held public Advisory Committee workshops to collect feedback on the initial and then revised staff drafts; a lead commissioner report version was released on 8 April 2014, and the Energy Commission adopted this commission report at its Business Meeting on 22 April 2014.

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CAM/PwC name Volkswagen Group most innovative global automotive company, Mercedes-Benz most innovative brand

May 12, 2014

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Top spot went to Volkswagen Group, followed by Daimler, BMW, GM and Toyota. Source: CAM. Click to enlarge.

The Germany-based Center of Automotive Management (CAM), in cooperation with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) AG WPG, named the Volkswagen Group the world’s most innovative automotive company in its 2014 AutomotiveINNOVATIONS Awards; this marks the fourth consecutive time Volkswagen Group has picked up the top award. The Volkswagen Group also received awards in the “Conventional drives”, “Alternative drives” and “Networked vehicle” categories. Daimler followed in second place, then BMW Group, GM and Toyota.

CAM also selected Mercedes-Benz as the most innovative brand; BMW came in second, followed by Volkswagen, Audi and Ford.

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BMW and SGL to triple production capacity at Moses Lake carbon fiber plant with $200M expansion; world’s largest carbon fiber plant

May 09, 2014

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A production line for carbon fiber takes the PAN precursor through two stages (stabilization/oxidation and carbonization) and then to winding. Source: SGLACF. Click to enlarge.

Due to the high demand for carbon fiber in automotive production, SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers, a joint venture between the BMW Group and the SGL Group, will triple the capacity of the carbon fiber plant in Moses Lake, Washington. SGL and BMW made the announcement at the groundbreaking ceremony for the planned site expansion. The expansion will be funded by an investment of US$200 million, on top of the previously invested US$100 million.

The site expansion, scheduled to be completed by early 2015, will make the plant in Moses Lake the world’s largest carbon fiber plant. At present, the Moses Lake plant operates two production lines, exclusively for BMW i, with an annual output of approx. 3,000 tons of carbon fiber. The expansion of the site in Moses Lake will make it possible for the BMW Group to apply carbon fiber material also in other model series in the future, at competitive costs and in large quantities.

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Lord Drayson launches business to commercialize efficient wireless power transfer over distances; ongoing partnership with Imperial College London

May 07, 2014

Lord Drayson has launched Drayson Wireless Limited, a new venture to commercialize technology developed at Imperial College London (ICL) for the efficient wireless transfer of power over longer distances. Working closely with Imperial Innovations plc, Drayson Wireless will rapidly bring the technology to market in numerous applications and sectors.

The Drayson Wireless near-field systems can transfer up to 1.5 kW over a distance of up to 0.5 m using a lightweight receiver weighing less than 0.3 g/W. In addition, Drayson Wireless long distance power transfer system can transfer up to 10 mW at distances up to 5 m. The systems operate at high efficiencies (over 80% end-to-end efficiency), while operating through variable vertical offsets, separation distances and angular misalignments.

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Lux: Panasonic has 39% share of plug-in vehicle batteries, thanks to its deal with Tesla

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Panasonic jumps to top of the plug-in vehicle battery leaderboard, overtaking NEC and LG Chem. Source: Lux Research. Click to enlarge.

Batteries for hybrids and plug-in vehicles are growing fast, more than tripling over the past three years to reach 1.4 GWh per quarter, according to the Automotive Battery Tracker from Lux Research. Panasonic has emerged as the leader thanks to its partnership with Tesla, capturing 39% of the plug-in vehicle battery market, overtaking NEC (27% market share) and LG Chem (9%) in 2013.

Lux Research analysts used historical and current vehicle sales, detailed battery specifications for each car, and supplier relationships to create the Automotive Battery Tracker.

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Chrysler to introduce PHEV models in 2016 and 2017 to meet ZEV requirements; new FCA gasoline engine family coming in 2015

May 06, 2014

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ (FCA) Chrysler Brand will launch two plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV) over the next several years, said Al Gardner, President and CEO of the Chrysler Brand, during the FCA Investor Day presentations at Auburn Hills, Mi.

One will be a PHEV version of the new Chrysler Town & Country minivan to be introduced in 2016; the second will be a PHEV version of a new full-size crossover vehicle to be introduced in 2017. Neither is the result of immediate wide-spread customer demand, noted Bob Lee, VP and Head of Engine, Powertrain and Electrified Propulsion Systems Engineering for Chrysler Group LLC, later in the day:

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ICCT study details differences in fiscal policies to support uptake of EVs across 11 major markets

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2012 and 2013 market share vs. per-vehicle incentive for battery-electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric PHEV (where applicable, only company car market incentives shown here). Source: ICCT. Click to enlarge.

The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) has published a new white paper detailing the differences in the fiscal policies used to support electric vehicle sales across eleven major auto markets. Tax exemptions and subsidies are playing a key role in spurring electric vehicle markets, but in widely divergent ways, the report by Peter Mock and Zifei Yang finds.

The ICCT study is the first to evaluate the response to fiscal incentives in 2013 to incentivize the purchase of plug-in electric vehicles in major vehicle markets worldwide. It offers a synthesis of wide-ranging sales data, national taxation policy information, and direct electric vehicle purchasing rebates to analyze the link between government policy and electric vehicle sales. To do so, it focuses on two representative vehicles, the Renault Zoe battery-electric vehicle (BEV) and the Volvo V60 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV).

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BYD’s “5-4-2” performance standard for New Energy Vehicles; 3 models over 3 years

May 01, 2014

Using the recent Beijing Auto Show as its stage, BYD introduced its new “5-4-2” New Energy Vehicle performance standard and a series of cars designed to meet it. “5” represents the maximum time in seconds to accelerate from zero to 100 km/h (0-60 mph in less than 5 seconds) in future car models. “4” stands for the number of wheels under power; BYD’s future new energy cars will be integrated with all-wheel drive. “2” stands for the maximum liters of gasoline maximum that will be consumed for 100 km traveled in a BYD car—i.e., 2.0 l/100 km, or 118 mpg US.

BYD introduced its first 5-4-2 vehicle at the show, the Tang plug-in hybrid SUV. Tang accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in only 4.9 seconds, has a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine paired with two electric motors and consumes less than 2L of fuel in 100 km traveled.

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UK to invest $841M from 2015-2020 to boost ultra low emission vehicle industry

April 29, 2014

The UK government announced plans to invest £500 million (US$841 million) between 2015 and 2020 to boost the ultra low emission vehicle (ULEV) industry and help drivers both afford and feel confident using electric cars.

The automotive industry is worth £11.2 billion (US$18.8 billion) to the UK economy, the government said. The production of ultra low emissions vehicles is a major part of growth both now and for the future. Full details of the elements of the €500-million plan will be published by autumn 2014; briefly, the different schemes include:

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Navigant: US to remain largest national plug-in vehicle market over next 10 years; Tokyo to take metro market lead spot from LA

April 24, 2014

Navigant Research forecasts that the United States will remain the largest national market for light-duty plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) during the next 10 years, with LD PEV sales exceeding 514,000 in 2023. Currently, North America is the strongest market for light duty PEVs with nearly 100,000 sold in 2013, according to the market research firm. Japan is a distant second, with just under 30,000 sales, followed by the Netherlands (more than 23,000) and China (more than 17,000).

Navigant Research forecasts that the global LD PEV market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.6% while the global market for LD vehicles will grow at a CAGR of only 2.6% during that period. Navigant Research estimates the US PEV market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.3% between 2014 and 2023. Canada, which is about 1 year behind the United States in terms of vehicle availability, is expected to have a CAGR of 25.4%, reaching more than 66,000 vehicles in 2023.

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Toyota Central R&D developing free-piston engine linear generator; envisioning multi-FPEG units for electric drive vehicles

April 22, 2014

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Toyota’s FPEG features a hollow step-shaped piston, combustion chamber and gas spring chamber. Click to enlarge.

A team at Toyota Central R&D Labs Inc. is developing a prototype 10 kW Free Piston Engine Linear Generator (FPEG) featuring a thin and compact build, high efficiency and high fuel flexibility. Toyota envisions that a pair of such units (20 kW) would enable B/C-segment electric drive vehicles to cruise at 120 km/h (75 mph). The team presented two papers on the state of their work at the recent SAE 2014 World Congress in Detroit.

The FPEG consists of a two-stroke combustion chamber, a linear generator and a gas spring chamber. The piston is moved by the combustion gas, while magnets attached to the piston move within a linear coil, thereby converting kinetic energy to electrical energy. The main structural feature of the Toyota FPEG is a hollow circular step-shaped piston, which Toyota calls “W-shape”. The smaller-diameter side of the piston constitutes a combustion chamber, and the larger-diameter side constitutes a gas spring chamber.

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Siemens and BAIC form JV to produce high efficiency electric powertrain systems for NEVs

April 21, 2014

Siemens AG and Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co., Ltd. (BAIC), one of the major Chinese carmakers, signed a joint venture agreement at the 2014 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition and outlined their plan to utilize Siemens’ electric drive train components in a range of BAIC new energy vehicles (NEVs).

The JV, Beijing Siemens Automotive E-Drive System Co., Ltd., will manufacture components for the electric drivetrain including power-electronics and electric motors. The new electric drivetrains consist of a safer and higher power density inverters and highly energy efficient motors. Prototype and small volume production will start in 2014, followed by mass production in a new Beijing-based factory in 2015. The production volume is planned to be more than 100,000 units per year with upside potential.

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

April 20, 2014

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

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

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

April 19, 2014

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Audi TT offroad concept. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

April 16, 2014

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

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

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

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

April 09, 2014

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

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

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

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

April 08, 2014

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

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

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

April 04, 2014

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

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

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

April 03, 2014

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

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

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

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

April 01, 2014

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

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

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

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

March 21, 2014

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

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

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

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Ford installing GE WattStation chargers, charging network at facilities

March 20, 2014

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

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

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

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

March 14, 2014

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

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

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

March 13, 2014

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The e-Golf. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

March 06, 2014

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

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

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

March 05, 2014

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VIZIV-2. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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Nissan introduces the e-NV200 electric van

March 04, 2014

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e-NV200. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

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

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

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