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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.]

ORNL researcher proposes solution for online optimization of power management in HEVs/PHEVs and for different drivers

October 12, 2015

Dr. Andreas Malikopoulos at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has developed a solution for the online optimization of power management in parallel HEVs/PHEVs and for any different driver (i.e., for different driving styles). A paper on his work is published in IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology.

There has been a great deal of work done since the late 1990s on the optimization of power management control—i.e., the optimal distribution of power demanded by the driver to the available subsystems of combustion engine, motor, generator and battery—in parallel HEVs. Despite that significant body of work, Malikopoulos notes, deriving online an optimal solution for different driving styles still remains a challenging control problem.

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California ARB announces $24M grant solicitation for zero-emission truck and bus pilot commercial deployment projects

October 02, 2015

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) announced a grant solicitation for Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Pilot Commercial Deployment Projects. Up to $23,658,000 is available for this project from FY 2014-15 funds. Up to an additional $60,000,000 may be available for projects under this solicitation from future funds appropriated by the California legislature on or before 30 June 2016.

This project complements the Zero-Emission Drayage Truck and Multi-Source Facility Demonstration Projects solicitations released in June of this year as part of a $50-million allocation for advanced technology freight demonstrations.

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INL analysis of 5 large-scale PEV and charging projects finds public charging infrastructure not needed everywhere to enable PEV adoption

October 01, 2015

Idaho National Laboratory has released the voluminous findings from its analysis of five large-scale PEV and charging infrastructure projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Collectively, these projects represent the largest-ever deployment, data collection and analysis, and reporting of PEV and charging infrastructure petroleum reduction benefits. The results will be used to support and refine activities of the US Department of Energy’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge.

The key finding of INL’s assessment of the results was that public charging infrastructure is not needed everywhere to enable PEV adoption. Instead, the results suggest that charging infrastructure should be focused at homes, workplaces and public “hot spots” that serve multiple venues.

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Lux: VW “actually in a strong position to innovate their way out of this mess”

September 28, 2015

Reflecting on the implications of the still evolving Volkswagen emissions testing scandal (“a vehicle emissions scandal of unprecedented proportions”), analysts at Lux Research suggest that one outcome of the crisis could be an aggressive push by Volkswagen to accelerate the push towards plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.

VW was slowly moving beyond conventional gasoline and diesel engines anyway, Lux noted, with plans of putting out 20 more plug-in vehicles by 2020 (earlier post)—such as the production version of the Audi e-tron quattro. (Earlier post.) Volkswagen has also invested in next-generation batteries, including lithium-sulfur and solid-state. (Earlier post.)

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Mercedes-Benz unveils plug-in hybrid Concept IAA: Intelligent Aerodynamic Automobile; Industry 4.0

September 15, 2015

Mercedes-Benz unveiled the “Concept IAA” (Intelligent Aerodynamic Automobile) at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The study switches automatically from a four-door coupé with a fascinating design to an aerodynamic world record breaker with a Cd figure of 0.19 when the vehicle reaches a speed of 80 km/h (50 mph), at which point numerous aerodynamics measures alter the shape of the vehicle.

At the rear end, eight segments deploy, extending the length of the car by up to 390 mm; front flaps in the front bumper extend outwards by 25 mm and rearwards by 200 mm, improving airflow around the front end and the front wheel arches; the active wheel rims change their cupping from 50 mm to zero; and the fin in the front bumper retracts by 60 mm to improve flow along the underbody.

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Volkswagen introduces new MQB-based Tiguan at Frankfurt; plug-in hybrid concept

Volkswagen introduced the second-generation Tiguan SUV at the IAA in Frankfurt. The second generation Tiguan is the first Volkswagen Group SUV whose design is based on the MQB platform. Volkswagen has sold some 2.6 million units of the first generation version since its introduction in 2007.

Volkswagen presented four versions of the new Tiguan simultaneously. The three production versions are the sporty Tiguan R-Line; the basic on-road model; and a version customized for off-road use. The Tiguan GTE—a concept vehicle with a plug-in hybrid drive (160 kW / 218 PS of system power) (earlier post)—offers an outlook on future development of the best-selling SUV.

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Volkswagen Group brings new Audi and Porsche EV concepts, Volkswagen PHEV concept to Frankfurt; 20 more plug-ins by 2020

September 14, 2015

At Volkswagen AG’s Group Night preview Monday of what will come on Tuesday at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Audi unveiled its MLB evo (second-generation MLB)-based e-tron quattro battery-electric vehicle (earlier post); Porsche rolled out the Mission E, its first battery-electric four-seat sports car which offers a 500 km (311 mile) range (and an 800V system); and Volkswagen introduced the new production MQB-based Tiguan, including a Tiguan GTE plug-in hybrid electric model concept.

During his concluding remarks at the Group Night event, Volkswagen Group Chairman Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn said that “The Porsche Mission E and the Audi e-tron quattro concept are nothing less than a quantum leap for our industry”—both vehicles have an all-electric range of 500 kilometers (311 miles). He went on to say that the new Volkswagen Tiguan GTE embodies “our determination to systematically take the plug-in hybrid to further classes and segments.

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Q3 Roland Berger E-Mobility Index finds stagnant sales, lack of concepts to persuade customers to go electric

The latest E-Mobility Index from Roland Berger and Forschungsgesellschaft Kraftfahrwesen mbH Aachen (fka) for the third quarter of 2015 finds that the market share of electric vehicles in the seven leading automotive nations—Germany, France, Italy, the USA, Japan, China and South Korea—remains stubbornly low. “The major growth impetus that would anchor e-mobility in the seven leading automotive nations long term is still nowhere to be seen,” the report states.

While insufficient battery range is a part of the reason, more importantly there is a lack of specific concepts that can persuade customers to buy an electric car, the report finds. The index regularly compares the relative competitive standings of the top seven automotive nations in the electromobility segment based on three indicators: technology, industry and market. Key takeaways from this latest analysis include:

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Los Angeles to lease 160 BEVs, 128 PHEVs as part of commitment to 50% EV purchases by 2017

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Friday announced a commitment to lease 160 pure battery EV vehicles, a move that will give Los Angeles the largest city-owned pure EV fleet in the US. The program commits city departments to the leasing of pure battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) to replace aging city vehicles, including those with conventional internal combustion engines. The announcement came on the eve of the US-China Climate Leaders Summit to be hosted in L.A. this week.

The Los Angeles Police, Fire, General Services, and Water and Power departments will together lease the 160 BEVS. In addition, LADWP and the General Services Department will lease an additional 128 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

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Jaguar Land Rover showcases MHEV, PHEV and BEV Concept_e demonstrators; electric Drive Module

September 09, 2015

At the CENEX Low Carbon Vehicle event in the UK, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is showcasing three Concept_e research demonstrators—a mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery-electric vehicle—including a new novel high performance, modular electric drive module (eDM) developed in-house by Jaguar Land Rover.

These are capable of producing twice the power and torque of any electric motor-generator currently in production, JLR said, and can be inserted between any engine and transmission to create MHEV or PHEV, or used alone for a BEV.

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BMW to showcase 4 production plug-in hybrids at IAA in Frankfurt; new 225xe

September 03, 2015

BMW is using the upcoming IAA in Frankfurt to showcase four production BMW brand plug-in hybrid models from different vehicle segments—one newly announced. BMW eDrive is the new drive system technology used in all the electrically powered vehicles from BMW i and the plug-in hybrid models from BMW. Alongside BMW TwinPower Turbo technology for combustion engines, intelligent lightweight design and optimized aerodynamics, BMW eDrive technology is therefore one of the most important elements in the EfficientDynamics strategy designed to increase power and further reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

Coinciding with the world premiere of the new generation BMW 7 Series, BMW is highlighting the plug-in hybrid variant of the luxury sedan, the BMW 740e (earlier post). The plug-in hybrid BMW 330e (earlier post) with plug-in hybrid drive is being added to the model line-up for the new BMW 3 Series. Also sharing the stand will be a newly announced plug-in hybrid from the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, the BMW 225xe. Together with the soon-to-be-launched BMW X5 xDrive40e (earlier post) also on display at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, the BMW eDrive technology initially developed for BMW i cars will be available for BMW models spanning four different vehicle segments in 2016.

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Mitsubishi Motors 2016 Outlander PHEV will make its European debut at IAA

August 31, 2015

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC)’s revamped 2016 Outlander PHEV, due to go on sale in Europe in September, will make its European debut at the 66th International Motor Show (IAA) in several weeks. MMC will also show the rally version of the Outlander PHEV that will compete in the Baja Portalegre 500 cross-country rally as well as a display outlining a Vehicle-to-Home (V2H) electricity supply system that will be available for the new Outlander PHEV.

The Outlander PHEV was first launched in Japan in January 2013 as the world’s first plug-in hybrid 4WD SUV. (Earlier post.) Now exported to 48 countries including those in Europe, the Outlander has racked up cumulative sales of some 70,000 units. The Outlander PHEV is powered by Mitsubishi Motors’ Plug-in Hybrid EV system, comprising a Twin Motor 4WD drivetrain, with separate motors driving the front and rear wheels, and a high-capacity battery located under the floor that provides electric-only driving.

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EDI and Shaanxi Automotive introducing PHEV port trucks at Port of Shanghai

August 24, 2015

Hybrid and electric drivetrain solutions company Efficient Drivetrains, Inc. (EDI) and Shaanxi Automotive, one of the world’s largest truck and bus manufacturers, are introducing a fleet of plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) trucks to the Port of Shanghai.

The PHEV port truck is capable of operating at 99,000 pounds (44,907 kg) gross vehicle weight (GVW) with electrified vehicle accessories—including air conditioning and heating—allowing the use of accessories for driver comfort without idling the engine. The PHEV port truck provides all-electric zero emissions driving capability as well as parallel and series hybrid operation.

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2015 Harris Poll finds 48% of US car owners would consider hybrid for new car, same as in 2013; plug-in consideration up 2 points

August 20, 2015

A new Harris Poll of 2,225 US adults (aged 18 and older) has found that 48% of American car owners (or anticipated owners) say they’d consider a traditional hybrid the next time they’re in the market for a new vehicle—a result identical to 2013 findings. Harris recorded lower consideration levels for plug-in vehicles, whether they be plug-in hybrids (29%, up 2 percentage points) or pure electrics (21%, also up 2 points).

An additional two in ten would consider a diesel (19%, up 3 points), while 35% would consider a smaller or gas powered vehicle to save on operating costs (down 3 points).

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2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron PHEV starting at $37,900 in US

August 05, 2015

US prices for the 2016 A3 Sportback e-tron plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (earlier post)—the first of many Audi e-tron models destined to come to the US—will begin at $37,900. Purchasing customers may qualify for applicable state and federal incentives and tax credits. The first electrified Audi sold in the US, the A3 Sportback e-tron will launch at dealerships nationwide in October. EPA figures will be announced in the near future once they are available from US regulators.

The Audi PHEV will come in 3 packages: Premium for $37,900; Premium Plus for $42,000; and Prestige for $46,800. Audi expects the PHEV to qualify for a federal tax credit of $4,168. Buyers in some states may qualify for additional incentives. Tax credits and incentives are subject to availability, and customers should consult their tax professionals and for more information about tax credits and incentives.

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BMW launches BMW i ChargeForward pilot in SF Bay Area

August 04, 2015

The BMW Group Technology Office, together with Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), have launched an 18-month pilot of the BMW i ChargeForward Program in the San Francisco Bay Area. The program is now issuing calls to participating BMW i3 drivers in the Bay Area to request the interruption of the charging of their EVs for one hour.

Working with a group of nearly 100 BMW i3 drivers, selected from approximately 400 applicants, BMW i ChargeForward will demonstrate how intelligent management of electric vehicle charging can contribute to optimizing electric power grid efficiency while reducing total cost of electric vehicle ownership. The study has two parts: (1) a managed charge pilot program involving BMW i3 owners; and (2) a battery second-life energy storage system.

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2016 Chevrolet Volt EPA-rated at 53 miles all-electric range

The Chevrolet Volt’s all-new second-generation Voltec extended-range electric propulsion system (earlier post) delivers 53 miles (85 km) of all-electric range, based on EPA testing. That is nearly a 40% improvement over the first-generation Volt, and a 6% boost over the projected 50-mile (80 km) AER estimated at the new Volt’s unveiling in January. (Earlier post.)

Chevrolet expects many next-generation Volt owners will use power solely from their batteries for more than 90% of trips. Today, Volt owners use battery power on 80% of their trips, according to GM. The additional range would enable the average Volt owner to travel well over 1,000 miles (1,609 km) (in multiple trips) between gas fill ups, if they charge regularly.

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Daimler wraps up eMERGE EV 2-year fleet trial, launches larger eMERGE2 with EVs and PHEVs

July 31, 2015

Daimler reports that the two-year eMERGE real-world trial of 146 smart fortwo electric drive vehicles has been completed. Those taking part in the project were private and business customers in Berlin, Potsdam and North Rhine-Westphalia. The lowest average energy consumption per vehicle over one year was 10.4 kWh/100 km, while the longest single-charge range was 161 kilometers (100 miles). The smart fortwo electric drive is certified with a consumption of 16.3 kWh/100 km and a range of 145 kilometers (90 miles).

eMERGE is being followed directly by eMERGE2, which will see up to 200 cars being used in the model regions of Berlin/Potsdam, Stuttgart, Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main. The vehicle fleet will include the battery electric B 250 e and plug-in hybrids from Mercedes-Benz. The different technology and vehicle segments suggest different use cases than the smart fortwo electric drive.

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ICCT study assesses EV promotion and uptake in top 25 metropolitan areas in US

July 30, 2015

A new study by a team at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) has found that the top metropolitan markets in the US for electric vehicles tend to be characterized by a combination of relatively progressive promotional activities; more extensive charging infrastructure per capita; greater consumer incentives; and a broader range of available models.

The newly published white paper—Assessment of Leading Electric Vehicle Promotion Activities in United States Cities, surveys actions being taken by state and local governments and public utilities to facilitate electric vehicle deployment in the 25 most populous US metropolitan areas, which together represent more than 42% of the population; 46% of auto sales; 67% of new electric vehicle registrations; and 53% of the public electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the US as of 2014.

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Qualcomm and BRUSA sign commercial wireless electric vehicle charging license agreement

July 29, 2015

BRUSA Elektronik AG, an automotive Tier 1 power electronics supplier, has licensed Qualcomm Incorporated’s Halo (earlier post) patented inventions to commercialize Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging (WEVC) systems for Plug-In Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (EVs). Under the terms of the agreement, Qualcomm granted to BRUSA a royalty-bearing patent license to develop, make and supply WEVC systems for certain automobile manufacturers.

BRUSA, which has been working on its own Inductive Charging System (ICS) for wireless power transfer (WPT), developed its own coil geometry: FRAME technology. The coil is rectangular and enables inductive charging of electric vehicles with the integration of power electronics both in the vehicle and in the base plate, enabling a one-box system.

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Researchers show use of MFRE can at least double wireless power transfer efficiency; more efficient than metamaterials

July 23, 2015

Researchers at North Carolina State University and Carnegie Mellon University have shown that passing wireless power transfer through a magnetic resonance field enhancer (MR-FE)—which could be as simple as a copper loop—can at least double transfer efficiency as compared to transferring through air alone. MR-FE use could potentially boost transfer efficiency by as much as 5,000% in some systems, the researchers said.

Wireless power transfer works via magnetic coupling or inductive coupling, and can achieve very high efficiency when the distances between the transmitter and receiver are small—less than a few centimeters. In such a case, the transmitter and receiver are strongly coupled, with a high coupling coefficient (usually greater that 0.9). As distance increases, the strength of the coupling decreases. Enhancing wireless power transfer efficiency over greater distances—to support, for example, the wireless charging of electric vehicles—has thus been a major goal of many research groups.

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DLR and Wuppertal publish comprehensive global analysis of e-mobility technologies, outlook and lifecycle assessments

The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy (Wuppertal Institut für Klima, Umwelt, Energie GmbH; WI) have published results of their STROMbegleitung (electricity evaluation) comprehensive study to analyze technologies; market outlook; policy support; infrastructure; and life-cycle assessments for electrically-powered transport.

The study, which ran from October 2011 – September 2014, comprehensively charts current progress in technology; identifies trends; analyzes lifecycle assessments for a variety of vehicle concepts; and assess material intensities. At the same time, it places German activities in the field of electromobility within an international context. The research program received a €1.7 million euro grant from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung; BMBF) as part of the STROM support program (key technologies for electromobility).

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Using the PHEV (Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle) to Transition Society Seamlessly and Profitably From Fossil Fuel to 100% Renewable Energy

July 17, 2015

by Professor Andrew Alfonso Frank
CTO Efficient Drivetrains Inc. and UC-Davis Emeritus
Catherine J DeMauro

Abstract. The alternative-fuel car evolved to reduce exhaust emissions and other problems derived from burning fossil fuels. The PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle), a subset of the electric car, combines a primary electric motor with a much smaller back-up engine fueled with a hydrocarbon/biofuel mix. (In this paper PHEV refers solely to the long-range PHEV of 60 miles (100 km) electric-only range.) The PHEV does not require the heavy, costly batteries required by other electric cars, nor does it suffer from a limited range or poor freeway performance.

Though the PHEV combines the two types of energy and power, it is not merely a temporary “transition” between gasoline and diesel cars to pure electric cars. It is much more than that. It offers the solution to several significant transitions we need: moving society from burning fossil fuels to substituting renewable resource fuels such as solar, wind and biofuels; and from using fossil materials as fuel to using them for other recyclable uses.

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SFU researchers find promise for plug-in vehicles in Canada, but need for increased supply and policy support

July 16, 2015

New work by a team at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Canada has found that more than one-third of Canadian buyers want a plug-in vehicle (PEV), with the majority of those (89—93%) wanting a plug-in hybrid rather than a pure electric vehicle. However, less than 1% of vehicle sales in Canada are electric because of low consumer awareness and limited vehicle choice.

With the current supply of PEVs in Canada (7 models), the future PEV new market share is not likely to exceed 4—5% by 2030, according to the report; increasing supply (to 56 models) could increase market share to over 20% by 2030.

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MAHLE control software combines GPS and topographical road data to manage plug-in hybrid energy consumption

July 15, 2015

As part of the continuing development of MAHLE’s range-extended electric vehicle (REEV) initiative (described and demonstrated at the Aachen Colloquium in 2012), the company’s Powertrain division has developed control software which can manage the consumption of battery energy for plug-in hybrids through a combination of GPS (global positioning systems) and topographical road data.

Bernie Porter, head of MAHLE’s Calibration and Controls Engineering group, said the company developed the software to use in research on its REEV test vehicle. MAHLE is investigating this powertrain technology using a range extender combustion engine and a demonstrator vehicle, both developed in house.

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Volkswagen launches new Passat GTE plug-in hybrid in Europe

July 14, 2015

Volkswagen has launched its second plug-in hybrid based on a high-volume production model: the Passat GTE, available either as a sedan or Variant (wagon)—the first plug-in hybrid from Volkswagen to be sold as either. (Earlier post, earlier post.) The Passat GTE and Passat GTE Variant will arrive on the European market this autumn; in the first few countries advance sales have already begun. In Asia the launch will also be this year. In terms of the brand, the Passat GTE is a basic building block in Volkswagen’s electric motoring strategy.

Together with the plug-in hybrids from Audi (A3 e-tron, Q7 e-tron and R8 e-tron) and Porsche (Cayenne S E-Hybrid and Panamera S E- Hybrid), Volkswagen AG now has ten models in its portfolio driven wholly or partially on electric power. (The Volkswagen brand contributes the Golf and Passat GTE plug-ins, the low-volume XL1, and the battery-electric e-up! and e-Golf.) The Passat GTE is the first plug-in hybrid model being sold by the Group in the high-volume segment of large family cars.

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Hyundai-Kia America and Mojo Mobility partnering on wireless fast-charging project

July 08, 2015

Hyundai-Kia America Technical Center, Inc., (HATCI) and Mojo Mobility, Inc., a wireless power technology company, have been awarded funding from the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Vehicle Technologies (VT) program to research and develop a system for wireless fast-charging an electric vehicle at up to a 19.2 kW power transfer rate. The two have already been partnering on a DOE-funded project on high-efficiency, low-EMI and positioning-tolerant wireless charging of EVs.

Mojo Mobility’s Near Field Power technology is able to meet charging power levels ranging from 1 W to 90 W and higher for mobile devices and up to 20 kW for electric vehicles. The wireless charging systems are capable of transferring their high power without need for precise alignment between the charger and the vehicle.

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Navigant forecasts global annual sales of LDVs of 122.6M by 2035, up 38% from 2015

July 06, 2015

In a new report, Navigant Research forecasts global annual sales of light duty vehicles will reach 122.6 million by 2035, up 38% from a projected 88.8 million this year, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.6%. Navigant Research expects the number of LDVs in use on roads worldwide to grow by 57.1% from 2015 to 2035 to almost 1.9 billion units.

Navigant expects sales of conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles will fall significantly over the forecast period, experiencing a CAGR of -6.6%. As a result, the share of vehicles in use that are conventional ICE vehicles will fall from more than 91% in 2015 to under 40% by 2035. Navigant expects ICE vehicles will be replaced by start-stop vehicles (SSVs), which will grow from representing more than 4% of vehicles in use in 2015 to nearly 49% in 2035. Hybrids (HEVs) are expected to account for nearly 3%, while PHEVs (plug-in hybrids), BEVs (battery-electric vehicles), NGVs (natural gas vehicles), PAGVs (propane autogas vehicles), and FCV (fuel cell vehicles) s together are projected to add up to more than 9% of the LDVs in use in 2035.

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BMW shows future drive technologies; 2 Series PHEV prototype, direct water injection in 3-cyl. engine, and fuel cell eDrive

July 02, 2015

During a driving event at the Miramas proving grounds in southern France, BMW presented future drive technologies, including the prototype of a BMW 2 Series Active Tourer with plug-in hybrid drive. This application of BMW eDrive technologies features the first PHEV system with a front/transverse-mounted combustion engine, high-voltage generator and road-linked all-wheel drive via an electric drive system at the rear axle.

The company also showcased the use of direct water injection to enhance the efficiency of combustion engines at higher performance levels while also significantly reducing fuel consumption and emissions in key driving cycles. Finally, BMW showcased a hydrogen fuel cell drive system as a future-focused variant of BMW eDrive (teased in a technical session during April’s SAE World Congress in Detroit) enabling all-electric driving with a high operating range and short refueling times. (BMW is collaborating with Toyota on fuel cell systems. Earlier post.)

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CMU policy briefs outline benefits and potential for adoption of electrified vehicles in the US

July 01, 2015

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) have published two new policy briefs, along with accompanying videos, about the benefits of electrified vehicles and the potential for their adoption in the US. The briefs condense the findings of a number of recent papers coming out of the CMU group led by Professor Jeremy Michalek.

The first—“Electric Vehicle Benefits and Costs in the United States”—shows that the benefits of vehicle electrification vary based on vehicle type; driving style; climate; how supplying electricity is generated; and time of charge. To achieve the best outcomes, the brief suggests, plug-in vehicle adoption should typically be focused on HEVs and PHEVs by city drivers in mild-climate regions with a clean electricity grid, such as San Francisco or Los Angeles. Further, drivers should not be encouraged to charge at night in coal-heavy regions.

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BMW Group and NTU Singapore launch US$965K electromobility research program; Electromobility in Asia and Smart Materials

BMW Group and Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) launched a new electromobility research program, involving the all-electric BMW i3 and plug-in hybrid sports car BMW i8. This new research program will be conducted at the Future Mobility Research Lab located on the NTU campus, which is the BMW Group’s first joint lab in Southeast Asia.

Both parties will be injecting a combined S$1.3 million (US$965,000) to drive the new research projects, on top of the initial S$5.5 million (US$4.1 million) funding allocated to the joint lab in 2013. The new research program will focus on two new areas, Electromobility in Asia and also Smart Materials. This is in addition to the original three research topics on which the joint lab is already working: Advanced Battery; Driver Enhancement; and Intelligent Mobility.

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California ARB approves $373M funding plan for advanced vehicle technologies in FY2015-2016; up from $150M last year

June 26, 2015

The California Air Resources Board today approved a $373-million funding plan that covers all investments in advanced technologies for fiscal year 2015-16, from zero-emission heavy-duty trucks and buses to rebates for low- and zero-emission passenger vehicles.

The budget for the annual Funding Plan for Low Carbon Transportation Investments and the Air Quality Improvement Program is up by $150 million over last year’s budget, and is subject to approval by the Legislature when it considers the proposed expenditure of Cap-and-Trade auction proceeds as part of the State Budget.

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LowCVP: 5 Ps for influencing uptake of low emission vehicles at local level

The UK’s Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership has launched a Good Practice Guide for Local Measures to Encourage the Uptake of Low Emission Vehicles. A key recommendation is that policy measures implemented at the local level should be consistent with each other, that common definitions and vocabulary for low emission vehicles should be established. The Good Practice Guide for Local Measures to Encourage the Uptake of Low Emission Vehicles was prepared for the LowCVP by Urban Foresight.

Released to coincide with the LowCVP’s 2015 Annual Conference which features a discussion on mobility in future cities, the LowCVP has identified five ‘P’s from the Guide—levers that local authorities can most effectively use to influence low emission vehicle uptake at the local level:

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NREL: battery second use offsets EV expense, improves grid stability; recommendations

June 24, 2015

PEV battery life cycle with second use. Source: NREL. Click to enlarge.

Researchers at the US Department of Energy (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are identifying battery second use (B2U) strategies capable of offsetting vehicle expenses while improving utility grid stability.

Second-use options for automotive “end-of-life” Li-ion battery packs support a broad spectrum of sustainable energy strategies, as they increase the potential for widespread PEV adoption by eliminating end-of-life automotive service costs, in addition to helping utilities support peak electricity demands while building a cleaner, more flexible electricity grid. NREL research confirms that after being used to power a car, a Li-ion battery retains approximately 70% of its initial capacity—making its reuse a valuable energy storage option for electric utilities, before battery materials are recycled.

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Mercedes-Benz premieres 2nd generation GLC and plug-in hybrid GLC 350 e 4MATIC

June 18, 2015

Mercedes-Benz unveiled the second generation of its mid-range GLC SUV (the SUV in the C-Class segment, formerly the GLK). In addition to cutting fuel consumption by up to 19% in comparison to the previous model on the conventional engined models, Mercedes also introduced another plug-in hybrid SUV model: the GLC 350 e 4MATIC.

In March, Mercedes-Benz said it would 10 new plug-in hybrid models by 2017. (Earlier post.) The company introduced its first SUV PHEV in the form of the GLE 550 e earlier this year. (Earlier post.) The GLE 550 e is Mercedes-Benz’ first plug-in hybrid SUV, the GLC 350 e its second.

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Honda discontinuing Civic Hybrid, Civic natural gas model, Accord plug-in hybrid; new BEV, PHEV models coming

June 15, 2015

Due in part to Honda’s ability to advance fuel economy through conventional engine technology, the Civic lineup will no longer include a hybrid or a natural gas model, according to John Mendel, Executive Vice President, Automobile Division American Honda Motor Co., Inc. Both of these products with the end of the 2015 model year. Mendel also said said that Honda will not offer a plug-in version of Accord going forward as the company looks toward the scheduled launch of a new dedicated plug-in model. Honda currently is selling the MY 2014 Accord Plug-in Hybrid.

Honda will launch the all-new 10th-generation Civic this fall. With two new engines on the new Civic, including its first turbo engine, Honda is targeting class-leading fuel economy for Civic, with EPA highway fuel economy “a few ticks” above 40 miles per gallon, Mendel said.

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A closer look at Audi’s new R8 e-tron EV and battery

June 12, 2015

The model line-up of the second generation of Audi’s high-performance R8 sports car, unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, includes the new R8 e-tron battery-electric vehicle. (Earlier post.) The new R8 e-tron delivers 340 kW (456 hp) of power; acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 3.9 seconds; and a driving range of up to 450 km (279.6 mi). Range for the first generation R8 e-tron was was 215 km (133.6 mi).

Available for order this year upon customer request, the new R8 e-tron uses a newly developed high energy density Li-ion technology optimized for a purely electric vehicle drive. Li-ion cell energy density was increased from 84 to 152 Wh/kg; in comparison to the first technology platform, the battery capacity has grown from 48.6 kWh to 90.2 kWh—without changing the package.

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CA Energy Commission awards CSE $1.5M for development of standards-based smart EV charging platform; first employment of ISO/IEC 15118

The California Energy Commission has awarded a $1.5 million grant to the Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE) to lead development of an advanced management platform for integrating electric vehicle (EV) charging with utility-scale energy systems. CSE will work closely with KnGrid, a leader in vehicle-grid communications, to create a standardized platform that optimizes charging benefits for both grid operators and vehicle owners. The result will be the first data platform to employ the international ISO/IEC 15118 standard for flexibly managing vehicle charging with data from the power grid.

The project team will develop and implement the first standards-based smart charging platform, termed a “demand clearing house” (DCH) in the international ISO/IEC 15118 protocol (entitled “Road vehicles - Vehicle to grid communication interface”), that will consolidate real-time grid profiles from local utilities and energy market pricing from the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) with simultaneous charging of grid-connected EVs.

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BMW introduces 6th generation 7 Series; new 740e plug-in hybrid; remote control parking

June 10, 2015

BMW has introduced the new generation (6th) of its top-end 7 Series, featuring technology innovations in the areas of lightweight design, powertrains, chassis, operating systems, and intelligent connectivity. The all-new BMW 7 Series will be offered in the US exclusively as a long wheelbase version.

Key factors in enhancing dynamics, efficiency, comfort and safety are the use of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) in the body structure; engines from the BMW Group’s new generation of power units; the plug-in hybrid system in the new BMW 740e; the Executive Drive Pro active chassis system; the Driving Experience Control switch with ADAPTIVE mode; and BMW Laserlight.

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1st major utility proposal for EV charging infrastructure presented to CPUC

June 05, 2015

A diverse set of public interest groups, automakers, labor unions, and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) submitted a proposed settlement to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to accelerate the deployment of smart electric vehicle (EV) charging stations that would support the utility grid in San Diego.

The application is California’s first utility pilot proposal to help develop charging infrastructure, and, through pricing that allows for customer-managed charging, to manage transportation electrification load to support the evolving needs of an electrical grid increasingly dominated by variable renewable energy.

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Volkswagen Group and SAIC to produce EVs and PHEVs in China

June 03, 2015

The Volkswagen Group and SAIC Motor Corporation Ltd, Volkswagen’s original joint venture partner in China, have agreed to expand the main plant of their joint venture Shanghai Volkswagen (SVW) in Anting to support the local production of electric vehicles. Full localization of the Volkswagen Group’s electric vehicles in China will be gradually implemented.

With the development and local production of electric vehicles and components, Volkswagen is taking the next step in the further expansion of its research and development activities in China. The company said that it will also intensify its local research in the fields of fuel cells and plug-in hybrid vehicles as well.

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California providing incentives up to $12K to help low-income families afford the cleanest cars

May 28, 2015

In coordination with local air officials, the California Air Resources Board is initiating a retire-and-replace pilot program in the Greater Los Angeles area and San Joaquin Valley to help people of low income replace old, polluting cars with cleaner, more fuel efficient vehicles that also cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The air district-administered program provides incentives on a sliding scale, with larger cash payments for the lowest-income families moving up to the cleanest cars. The lowest-income recipient purchasing the very cleanest car receives the highest incentive amounts. Under the program, it is possible for a family that meets income guidelines to receive as much as $12,000 toward the purchase of an electric car.

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Ford opens portfolio of patented technologies to competitors to accelerate industry-wide electrified vehicle development

Ford Motor Company is offering competitors access to its electrified vehicle technology patents in a move to help accelerate industry-wide research and development of electrified vehicles. In 2014, Ford filed more than 400 patents dedicated to electrified vehicle technologies. This is more than 20% of the patents the company filed, totaling more than 2,000 applications.

Ford currently offers six hybrid or fully electrified vehicles including Ford Focus Electric; Ford Fusion Hybrid; Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid; Ford C-MAX Hybrid; Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid; and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. In total, Ford has more than 650 electrified vehicle patents and approximately 1,000 pending patent applications on electrified vehicle technologies.

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Ford partners with Haier, Trina Solar and Delta Electronics to launch MyEnergi Lifestyle in China

May 27, 2015

At Consumer Electronics Show Asia, Ford launched a strategic collaboration with Haier (home appliance), Trina Solar (solar power) and Delta Electronics (power management) to introduce MyEnergi Lifestyle (earlier post) to China, a holistic approach for lowering the energy costs and carbon footprint of Chinese families.

MyEnergi Lifestyle, designed to address China’s energy needs and air quality concerns, showcases how combining renewable energy sources, efficient home appliances and a plug-in vehicle can significantly reduce energy costs and carbon footprint. Ford introduced a MyEnergi Lifestyle collaboration for the US in 2013, working with Whirlpool, SunPower and Eaton.

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Navigant forecasts annual plug-in electric vehicle sales in N America to exceed 1.1M by 2024

In a new report, Navigant Research forecasts that North American plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) sales will exceed 1.1 million annually by 2024. The report, Electric Vehicle Geographic Forecasts, provides data and forecasts for LD PEV sales in North America, including US states, MSAs, and utility service territories and Canadian provinces and cities.

To date, North America is the strongest market for light duty (LD) plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), with more than 133,000 sold in 2014. Navigant forecasts the US will continue to be the largest market throughout the forecast period, with annual PEV sales in 2024 exceeding 860,000 in the conservative scenario and 1.2 million in the aggressive. Navigant Research estimates this market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of between 14.7% and 18.6% between 2015 and 2024.

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First Drive: 2016 Hyundai Sonata PHEV and HEV

May 26, 2015

Hyundai began the US rollout of the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) (earlier post) and its conventional hybrid sibling (HEV) with a series of media drives in California—one of the main markets for the PHEV, which offers some 24 miles (38.6 km) of all electric range and a 9.8 kWh Li-ion polymer that can recharge in less than three hours with a Level-Two charger. Sonata Plug-in Hybrid will be built at the Asan, South Korea plant and will go on sale in select markets later this Fall. Hyundai unveiled the first generation hybrid Sonata in 2010, with a 2011 market introduction. (Earlier post.)

Hyundai will initially offer the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid in the ZEV states—California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont—in 2015. (Hyundai expects California and Oregon to be the top markets and areas of focus.) Sonata Plug-in Hybrid buyers will be eligible for a $2,500 fixed federal tax credit and a variable federal tax credit based on battery capacity that will also be over $2,000.

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Daimler and Qualcomm announce strategic collaboration on connected car technologies, wireless EV charging

May 24, 2015

Daimler AG and Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. (QTI), a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, announced a strategic collaboration focused on connected car technologies. In the first phase of the collaboration, the companies will focus on transforming future vehicles with mobile technologies that enhance in-car experiences and vehicle performance such as 3G/4G connectivity; wireless charging technology for in-vehicle use; and implementation of the Qualcomm Halo Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging (WEVC) technology.

In addition, the companies are jointly assessing the application of Qualcomm Technology’s newly developed Automotive Solutions.

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First drive: Volvo XC90 T8 Drive-E Twin Engine PHEV sets a high bar for full-size luxury SUV plug-ins in US

May 17, 2015

With the 2016 XC90 (earlier post) heading to dealerships across the US, Volvo Cars gave media an opportunity to experience the next generation of its full-size luxury SUV—in both its conventional T6 and plug-in hybrid T8 Drive-E Twin Engine forms—in and around Los Angeles. Volvo also brought in members of its engineering and design teams, including Michael Fleiss, VP of Powertrain Engineering, to provide more technical details on the car.

The XC90 is a critical car for Volvo’s revitalization worldwide and especially in the US market. Combining Volvo’s new design language, advanced safety and in-car connectivity technologies, and the new strategic Drive-E powertrains, the XC90 is the first product based on Volvo’s new strategic Scalable Product Architecture (SPA). (Earlier post.) The XC90 T8 Twin Engine will be the first 3-row, 7-passenger, plug-in hybrid electric light-duty vehicle in the US when it arrives in showrooms toward the end of 2015, but will soon be joined by—at least—the Audi Q7 e-tron quattro diesel PHEV (earlier post), the Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e PHEV (earlier post), and the BMW X5 xDrive 40e (earlier post).

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Volkswagen unveils Golf GTE Sport PHEV concept: 0-100 km/h in 4.3s and 118 mpg

May 14, 2015

Golf GTE Sport PHEV concept. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen used the annual Wörthersee festival in Austria as the venue to unveil the Golf GTE Sport concept plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. Featuring a carbon fiber body and a three power unit, all-wheel drive system, the 295 kW (396 hp) Golf GTE Sport accelerates from 0 - 100 km/h in 4.3 seconds, has a top speed of up to 280 km/h (174 mph), yet offers fuel consumption of just 2.0 l/100 km/h (118 mpg) on the NEDC cycle for plug-in hybrid vehicles. All-electric range is up to 50 km (31 miles).

The 1.6 liter TSI (turbocharged direct-injection engine) adapted from the engine used in the Polo R WRC (World Rally Car) is fitted in the engine compartment at the front. The delivers 220 kW (295 hp) and maximum torque of 400 N·m (295 lb-ft). Volkswagen has already won the World Rally Championship twice with this engine. In the Golf GTE Sport, the four-cylinder unit is assisted by two electric motors, each producing 85 kW.

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BMW will launch plug-in hybrid version of refreshed 3 Series in 2016: BMW 330e

May 07, 2015

As part of its introduction of the lifecycle freshening for all 3 Series Sedans and Sports Wagons, BMW announced that it will launch the BMW 330e plug-in hybrid in 2016. The BMW 330e will be powered by a plug-in hybrid drive system with a combined output of around 250 hp (186 kW) and 310 lb-ft (420 N·m) (preliminary).

The BMW 330e will accelerate from 0–60 mph in approximately 6.1 seconds (preliminary) and have a top speed of 140 mph (225 km/h) (preliminary). The new BMW 330e is also capable of traveling up to 22 miles (35 km) in all-electric mode.

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OEMs shifting towards onboard chargers > 6 kW for EVs; lower output chargers to remain dominant through 2020

May 05, 2015

Most battery and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) manufacturers in Europe and the US have been adopting onboard chargers with a power output between 3 to 3.7 kilowatts (kW). Now, EV manufacturers are moving towards onboard chargers with a power output greater than 6.6 kW to reduce charging time.

While high-end PHEVs are contributing to this trend, lower-end models in this segment are still using 3.7 kW onboard chargers. Consequently, onboard chargers with power ratings between 3 to 3.7 kW are expected to remain dominant, accounting for 62% of sales even in 2020, according to new analysis from Frost & Sullivan.

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Volkswagen Group to offer more than 20 electric vehicle models in China “in near future”

The Volkswagen Group plans to offer more than 20 electric vehicle models—from small cars to large sedans and SUVs, plug-in hybrids and battery-electric vehicles—to Chinese customers “in the near future,” according to Prof. Dr. Jochem Heizmann, Member of the Group Board of Management with responsibility for China, in a special essay published in the Environment section of the company’s newly released sustainability report.

The Chinese government has set guidelines to reduce CO2 emissions in China to a fleet fuel consumption of 5 l/100 km (47 mpg US) as measured on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) by 2020. The expected fleet average this year is 6.9 l/100 km (34 mpg US). Thus, the government is requiring an overall reduction of about 28%, or 6.2% per year, between 2015 and 2020. Meeting this target will be even more challenging than meeting the 95 g/km target for 2020 set by the European Union, writes Dr. Heizmann, explaining:

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Wrightspeed unveils new turbine range extender for medium- and heavy-duty electric powertrains; 30% more efficient than current microturbine generators

May 04, 2015

Wrightspeed Inc., a developer of range-extended electric vehicle powertrains for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (earlier post), has unveiled the Fulcrum, a new proprietary turbine generator for use in its Route family of electric powertrains (Route for Class 3-6, Route HD for Class 7-8). The new 80 kW Fulcrum is a radial inflow, axial turbine, intercooled and recuperated. Fulcrum is a single shaft machine, the generator runs at turbine speed (~100,000 rpm). Weighing in at 250 lbs (113.4 kg), the Fulcrum is approximately 1/10th the weight of its piston generator counterparts and it is designed to have a 10,000-hour lifetime.

The Route extended range electric powertrains incorporate a range-extending genset designed to recharge the high-power battery pack (currently from A123 Systems) and Wrightspeed’s own geared traction drive (GTD) (earlier post). Wrightspeed, founded by Ian Wright, one of the original co-founders of Tesla Motors, has used a 65 kW Capstone microturbine in earlier Route powertrains. The 65 kW Capstone unit weighs 300 lbs (136.1 kg), for a power-to-weight ratio of 478 W/kg; by comparison, Wrightspeed’s new Fulcrum microturbine offers a power-to-weight ratio of 750 W/kg. With Fulcrum, on which the company has been working for about 3 years, Wrightspeed now owns 100% of the Intellectual Property of its powertrain products.

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HRL Labs video demonstrates principle of thermal battery based on advanced metal hydrides for EV heating and cooling

April 30, 2015

In 2011, the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) awarded $2.7 million to a team comprising researchers from the University of Utah, HRL Laboratories and GM Global R&D for a project to develop a new generation of high-density thermal battery based on advanced metal hydrides. (Earlier post.) The goal of the project, part of ARPA-E’s HEATS (High Energy Advanced Thermal Storage) portfolio, was to develop a compact thermal battery for climate control in electric vehicles. Such a thermal battery would provide heating and cooling without draining the electric battery, in effect, extending the driving range of EVs per electric charge.

As described in a paper in press in the Journal of Alloys and Compounds, the developed system uses a pair of thermodynamically matched metal hydrides as energy storage media: (1) catalyzed MgH2 as the high temperature hydride material, due to its high energy density and enhanced kinetics; and (2) TiV0.62Mn1.5 alloy as the matching low temperature hydride. HRL has now released a video demonstrating the principle behind the work on thermal battery technology.

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GM provides technical details of the Gen 2 Voltec propulsion system used in the 2016 Volt

April 23, 2015

The second-generation “Voltec” extended range electric powertrain applied in the MY2016 Chevy Volt (earlier post) marks a significant evolution in the electric drive technology platform from its first-generation origins. After proving a initial look at the design and capability of the different components (earlier post) late last year, GM is now providing deeper technical insight into the second-generation platform.

At the SAE 2015 World Congress in Detroit this week, GM engineers are presenting four papers on the technology of the Gen 2 Voltec propulsion system: an overview of the system and the realized improvements in efficiency and performance; a paper on the significantly re-engineered traction power inverter module (TPIM); a paper on the design and performance of the new electric motors used in the propulsion system; and a paper on the selection and design of the optimized gasoline-fueled 1.5-liter range extender engine.

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NRC report recommends ways to overcome barriers hindering purchases of PEVs; vehicle cost, battery tech and consumer knowledge among others

April 22, 2015

Vehicle cost, current battery technology, and inadequate consumer knowledge are some of the barriers preventing widespread adoption of plug-in electric vehicles, according to a new congressionally mandated report from the National Research Council. Developing less expensive, better performing batteries is essential to reducing overall vehicle cost, and a market strategy is needed to create awareness and overcome customer uncertainty, the report finds. The report recommends a range of incentives that the federal government can offer to address these and other barriers.

The premise of the report—“Overcoming Barriers to Deployment of Plug-in Electric Vehicles”—is that there is a benefit to the United States if a higher fraction of vehicle miles traveled is fueled by electricity rather than by petroleum due to the resulting reduction in dependence on petroleum and reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases and criteria pollutants. The task of the committee of experts and stakeholders writing the report was (1) to identify market barriers slowing the purchase of PEVs and hindering the deployment of supporting infrastructure in the United States and (2) to recommend ways to mitigate those barriers.

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Volkswagen introduces high-end plug-in hybrid C Coupé GTE concept in Shanghai

April 20, 2015

At Auto Shanghai, Volkswagen is presenting the world premiere of the C Coupé GTE, which illustrates a new design approach for future top-end sedans at Volkswagen. This four-door concept car for the Chinese market—which is more than five meters in length—is powered by a plug-in hybrid drive system, the drive sources of which combine to produce 500 N·m of system torque.

The front-wheel drive C Coupé GTE can be powered all-electrically up to a speed of 130 km/h (81 mph); this mode enables driving with zero local emissions and a range of 50 kilometers (31 miles). The car’s combined fuel consumption (NEDC for plug-in hybrid vehicles) is 2.3 liters per 100 kilometers. This figure equates to CO2 emissions of 55 grams per kilometer. The car’s total driving range is over 800 kilometers.

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Cadillac announces CT6 plug-in hybrid for China

April 19, 2015

Cadillac will add a Plug-In Hybrid Electric (PHEV) propulsion system to its upcoming range-topping CT6 sedan, to be manufactured at the new Shanghai GM Cadillac plant, Pudong Jinqiao, China. The new PHEV version of the CT6 will be capable of greater than 60 km (32.4 miles) of all-electric range, and pairs with Cadillac’s 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder gas engine to offer estimated fuel efficiency of approximately 2.0L per 100 km (141 mpg US) based on China testing standards. CT6 PHEV will qualify for China new energy vehicle regulations and incentives, and is planned to be onsale in 2016. The CT6 PHEV may come subsequently to the US, according to Cadillac spokesman Dave Caldwell as quoted in the Detroit News.

The CT6 Plug-In Hybrid system is designed to provide all-electric driving for most daily commutes, while maximizing fuel efficiency by providing blended power from the engine and battery at higher speeds and higher loads, even when there is energy stored in the battery. (By comparison, in the GM taxonomy the Cadillac ELR and its cousin the Chevy Volt are extended-range electric vehicles with all-electric drive, augmented by a range-assisting engine. ELR is not offered in the Chinese market.)

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Peugeot unveils 308 R HYbrid plug-in with 500 hp and four-wheel drive

April 17, 2015

Peugeot has unveiled the Peugeot 308 R HYbrid, a plug-in hybrid version of the compact family hatchback boasting a combined 500 bhp and four-wheel drive. The Peugeot 308 R HYbrid was developed by Peugeot Sport, the brand’s in-house engineering and racing division. The car’s plug-in gasoline hybrid powertrain delivers 0-62 mph (100 km/h) in 4.0 seconds, yet with CO2 emissions of 70g/km.

The powertrain combines three sources of power, each capable of moving the vehicle independently of the others: a four-cylinder 1.6-liter THP 270 S&S gasoline engine, plus two 85 kW electric motors mounted one on each axle. The front one is linked to the six-speed gearbox.

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Audi unveiling two new production plug-in hybrids in Shanghai, new prologue allroad PHEV show car

April 16, 2015

Audi is introducing two new models with plug-in hybrid drive systems to the market in China in 2016, both of which are having their world premier at Auto Shanghai 2015: the Audi Q7 e-tron 2.0 TFSI quattro and the Audi A6 L e tron. In addition, Audi is unveiling the Audi prologue allroad show car, providing a glimpse into the future of Audi’s design language, at the show.

Audi Q7 e-tron 2.0 TFSI quattro. With the Audi Q7 e-tron 2.0 TFSI quattro, the company is combining a TFSI plug‑in hybrid with quattro drive for the first time. (The earlier announced Q7 e-tron quattro plug-in hybrid features a 6-cylinder, 3.0-liter TDI diesel. Earlier post.) Audi has developed this newest Q7 model especially for the Asian markets China, Singapore and Japan. The Q7 e-tron 2.0 TFSI quattro accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in less than six seconds and consumes 2.5 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers (94 mpg US), according to the measuring method prescribed in China for plug‑in hybrid vehicles.

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Cadillac boosts performance of ELR plug-in hybrid for MY2016, cuts MSRP by $9K; $58,495 net after Fed credits

April 15, 2015

Cadillac has greatly enhanced the performance of its ELR extended range electric vehicle (plug-in hybrid) (earlier post) for the 2016 model year, and is also cutting the MSRP by $9,005, bringing the starting price down to $58,495 net after the $7,500 US federal tax credit (MSRP = $65,995). MSRP for MY2014 was $75,000, with a net price of $67,500 after the Federal credit. (Cadillac sold 1,310 units of the ELR in the US in calendar year 2014, and sold 311 units in the first quarter of 2015.)

Major product upgrades include a more than 25% boost in power and torque; faster acceleration that improves 0-60 mph by 1.5 seconds; higher top speed; retuned chassis and steering for better handling; more responsive brakes and a new Performance equipment package.

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Volvo Cars introducing production S60L T6 Twin Engine PHEV at the Shanghai Motor Show; on sale next week

Volvo Cars will introduce the production version of the S60L T6 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid sedan at the 2015 Shanghai Motor Show; the plug-in sedan first made its appearance as a concept car at the Beijing auto show in 2014. (Earlier post.) Sales of the S60L T6 Twin Engine begin next week in China.

The new S60L Twin Engine is manufactured in Volvo Cars’ Chengdu Plant. The car is powered by a Drive-E four-cylinder 2–liter gasoline engine, linked to rear-axle drive 50 kW electric motor, powered by an energy-optimized 11.2 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. This combination delivers 306 hp (238 + 68 hp) and 350 + 200 N·m with emissions of 49 g/km (NEDC, mixed driving cycle for certification). The S60L T6 Twin Engine also delivers a full 53 km (33 km) of all-electric range.

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Efficient Drivetrains develops PHEV SUV for Asian market

April 13, 2015

Efficient Drivetrains, Inc. (EDI), a developer of plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) and continuously variable transmission (CVT) technologies spanning light- to heavy-duty classes (earlier post), has developed a new energy plug-in hybrid electric SUV for the Asian marketplace. Based on EDI’s proprietary drivetrain technology, the SUV offers the highest performance for a PHEV in its class, the company said.

The vehicle is a full-size Chinese SUV with a 2.4-liter engine that has been converted into a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). The vehicle offers an affordable price point for a PHEV in its class with full electric capability for more than 50 km (31 miles), making it eligible for government incentives.

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Citroën introducing new plug-in hybrid SUV concept at Shanghai Motor Show

April 08, 2015

Citroën will introduce a new plug-in hybrid SUV concept, the Aircross, at the upcoming Shanghai Motor Show. The company said that Aircross illustrates its international ambitions, rolling out its positioning initiated with the C4 Cactus with a body style intended for sale around the world.

Citroën Aircross is powered by a gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid system. An electric motor on the rear axle develops power of 95 bhp (70 kW) and torque of 200 N·m (148 lb-ft). The motor is powered by lithium-ion batteries that charge up in just three and a half hours via a 16A domestic socket. The electric motor is combined with a 1.6 THP gasoline engine developing 218 bhp (160 kW) and torque of 275 N·m (203 lb-ft).

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Roland Berger: China is the frontrunner in e-mobility subsidies; sales of xEVs double in Q1

April 03, 2015

China is currently subsidizing the development of e-mobility, making just under €7.7 billion (US$8.4 billion) available in the period to 2016, and is the global frontrunner in e-mobility subsidies by far, according to the Q1 2015 E-Mobility Index published by consultancy Roland Berger. The report also found that while Japan increased its subsidies slightly to €171 million (US$187 million) through 2016, most of the major automotive nations have seen the public subsidization of e-mobility decline dramatically. The US and Italy offer the least subsidization.

The index, prepared by Roland Berger and fka experts, compares the relative competitive standings of the top seven automotive nations (Germany, France, Italy, the USA, Japan, China and South Korea) in the electromobility segment. The outcome is based on analysis of three indicators: technology, industry and market.

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U Toronto LCA suggests that with CNG as primary vehicle energy source, EVs best targeted at non-attainment areas

April 01, 2015

A team at the University of Toronto has examined the life cycle air emissions (climate change and human health) impact benefits and life cycle ownership costs of compressed natural gas (CNG) use directly in conventional vehicles (CV) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEV), and natural gas-derived electricity (NG-e) use in plug-in battery electric vehicles (BEV), using a gasoline-fueled conventional vehicle as a reference.

Among their findings, published in a paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, are that policies should for the foreseeable future focus on the niche adoption of plug-in vehicles in non-attainment regions, as CNG vehicles are likely more cost-effective at providing overall life cycle air emissions impact benefits.

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New Fairchild automotive SuperFET II MOSFETs and HV Rectifiers for power electronics in electrified vehicles

Fairchild, a leading global supplier of high-performance power semiconductor solutions, has introduced the automotive-qualified SuperFET II MOSFET and High Voltage Rectifier product families, both of which enable cleaner and smarter vehicles overall and are suited for increasing the power ratings of onboard chargers and DC-to-DC converters used in hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles.

“A chief goal for plug-in hybrid and electric vehicle manufacturers is keeping on-board battery chargers and DC-DC converters as light and small as possible while increasing power levels. With the broad portfolio of new SuperFET II MOSFETs and High Voltage Rectifiers, Fairchild is enabling manufacturers to maximize efficiency, power density and reliability of these units, which is key to reducing their size and weight and is of course in line with the environmental, economic and energy benefits inherent in electric vehicle development,” said Fabio Necco, Director, Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Segment at Fairchild.

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Millbrook joins APC-funded consortium to develop fuel cell range-extended electric LCVs

March 30, 2015

Millbrook, one of Europe’s leading independent test and technology centers for vehicles and vehicle systems, will join a UK industry consortium to develop a new class of light commercial vehicle (LCV) combining fuel cell technology with battery electric vehicles to provide significantly improved range and rapid refueling. The consortium, led by Intelligent Energy (earlier post), will receive a £6.3-million ($9.3-million) grant from the UK’s Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) for the £12.7-million ($19-million) project. The other partners are Frost Electronics, Frost EV, CENEX, British Gas and DHL.

The three-year project will develop validated systems and vehicle conversion expertise ready for volume manufacture. The goal is also to provide fleet operators with a solution that enables vehicle operation for extended periods while being emissions-free at the tailpipe.

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

March 26, 2015

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

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

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

March 19, 2015

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

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

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

March 18, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 17, 2015

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

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

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

March 16, 2015

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

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

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

March 11, 2015

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

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

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

March 10, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 08, 2015

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

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

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

March 03, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 02, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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Magna unveiling lightweight plug-in hybrid sportscar at Geneva show

February 27, 2015

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

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

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

February 26, 2015

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

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

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

February 25, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 23, 2015

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

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

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Mitsubishi introduces Concept GC-PHEV SUV to North America

February 13, 2015

Concept GC-PHEV. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

February 12, 2015

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

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

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

February 09, 2015

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

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

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

February 02, 2015

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

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

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

January 28, 2015

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

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

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

January 24, 2015

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

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

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

January 23, 2015

Tang. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

January 22, 2015

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

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

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

January 13, 2015

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

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

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Hyundai launches Sonata PHEV; 22-mile electric range

January 12, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cross Coupe GTE. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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