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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.]

Siemens and Valeo to form joint venture in high-voltage electric powertrains

April 18, 2016

Siemens and Valeo have signed an agreement to form a joint venture in high voltage powertrains for the entire range of electric vehicles including hybrids, plug-in hybrids and full electric vehicles. Building upon the complementary scope and portfolio of the partners, the joint venture will provide substantial synergies in manufacturing and sourcing and create a base for sustained growth and profitability.

Siemens said that the electric vehicle components market is expected to grow with a compound annual growth rate of more than 20% until 2020. According to the agreement, Siemens and Valeo will each hold a 50% stake in the joint venture, have joint control and account for their respective stake using the equity method.

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Pi Innovo and GaN Systems collaborate to offer electronics design services for auxiliary systems for multi-voltage, hybrid and electric vehicles

March 21, 2016

Controls engineering firm Pi Innovo and gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductor manufacturer GaN Systems are collaborating to offer automakers a pathway to the efficient and effective electrification of auxiliary systems for multi-voltage conventional, hybrid-electric, and pure electric vehicles.

GaN devices offer a number of benefits compared to silicon-based devices, including high dielectric strength; high current density; high switching speeds; low on-resistance; and the ability to withstand higher operating temperature. Compared to silicon, gallium nitride has ten times higher electrical breakdown characteristics, three times the band gap, and exceptional carrier mobility.

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DOE selects 33 clean energy businesses for nearly $6.7M in support under Small Business Vouchers pilot

March 11, 2016

The US Department of Energy (DOE) selected 33 small businesses to work directly with DOE national labs to accelerate the commercialization of new clean energy technologies.

The department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is investing nearly $6.7 million under Round 1 of the new Small Business Vouchers (SBV) pilot. For Round 1, the small businesses and laboratories will collaborate on advancing a number of clean energy technologies, including water, wind, bioenergy, solar, buildings, vehicles, fuel cells, geothermal technologies, and advanced manufacturing. The selected small businesses will work with scientists at nine department laboratories: Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL); National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL); Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL); Sandia National Laboratories (SNL); Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL); Idaho National Laboratory (INL); Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL); Argonne National Laboratory (ANL); and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).

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DOE to issue $25M funding opportunity for next generation of electric machines; NGEM II

February 19, 2016

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) intends to issue, on behalf of the Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO), a $25-million Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0001467) entitled “Next Generation of Electric Machines: Enabling Technologies.” EERE plans to issue the FOA around March 2016.

Through this FOA, AMO seeks to create future high impact manufacturing opportunities through the Next Generation of Electric Machines (NGEM) vision, which is a targeted development of high power density, high revolutions per minute motors and integrated power electronics. (Earlier post.) Specifically, this FOA targets the development of key technologies that will enable further efficiency enhancements and weight reductions in a cost effective way while addressing the limitations of traditionally used conductive metals and electrical steels.

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TM4, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Exagon Motors and the Gouvernement du Québec partner on new electric drivetrain

January 21, 2016

TM4, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Exagon Motors, Hydro-Québec and the Gouvernement du Québec are collaborating to develop a new electric drivetrain for light-duty vehicles. TM4 will act as the developer of the electric powertrain in the pre-development phase of the project.

The government’s contribution will be made up of a CAD 10-million equity interest and a CAD 6-million loan. Hydro­Québec will also be contributing CAD 4 million to the project, in addition to the services offered by its subsidiary TM4 to help with the development of an electric motor.

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DOE releases SBIR/STTR FY16 Phase 1 Release 2 topics; hydrogen, electric vehicles, more efficient combustion engines; biogas-to-fuels

November 16, 2015

The US Department of Energy has announced the 2016 Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Phase I Release 2 Topics, covering eight DOE research program organizations.

Among the many topics listed are magnetocaloric materials development for hydrogen delivery; two hydrogen technology transfer opportunities (TTO); EV traction batteries and power electronics; new combustion engine technologies; and the co-utilization of CO2 and methane in biogas to produce higher hydrocarbon fuels. DOE plans to issue the full Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) on 30 November 2015.

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UQM Technologies in 10-year electric propulsion systems agreement with ITL in China; 3K units ordered; potential for >$400M in revenue

October 27, 2015

UQM Technologies Inc. has signed a 10-year supply agreement with ITL Efficiency Corporation in China, a subsidiary of Eastlake New Energy, to provide electric propulsion systems for three market segments: 6-8 meter shuttle buses; light- to medium-duty delivery trucks; and 10-12 meter transit buses. Over the term of the Agreement, revenues could exceed $400 million based on projected volume shipments.

Production is expected to begin in early 2017 following development, test and certification programs during 2016; timing will be dependent on the successful completion of the test and certification processes, followed by orders under the Agreement. UQM has received the first purchase order under the Agreement for the initial 3,000 units which are expected to ship in 2017.

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GM and LG expand their relationship on Bolt EV; 12 components, including PEEM

October 20, 2015

GM and LG announced an expanded and deepened relationship around the coming Bolt battery-electric vehicle (earlier post), with LG providing not only the battery pack and battery heater, but also the critical PEEM (power electronics and electric machine) components; the HVAC electronic climate control system compressor; telematics hardware for OnStar; and the instrument cluster and infotainment system displays.

In a media briefing, Mark Reuss, GM executive vice president – global product development, purchasing and supply chain, observed that the expanded strategic partnership with LG marked a significant new approach to the adversarial automaker-supplier relationships of the past. Further, he noted, such a new type of relationship would be essential for electric vehicles. “The Bolt EV will be the result of an entirely different PEM/supplier relationship.

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Toyota details powertrain advances in Gen4 Prius; available E-Four system for all-wheel drive (not for US)

October 13, 2015

Toyota made significant improvements in its new generation full hybrid powertrain applied in the fourth generation Prius (earlier post), reducing losses, redesigning and relocating key components and reducing weight. Extensive changes to the transaxle, engine and combined hybrid system, generate an expected improvement in EPA estimated MPG on core models of up to 10% (i.e., up to ~55 mpg US combined), with an Eco model that will achieve an even greater improvement.

In a presentation outlining the changes to the new Prius system, Shunsuke Fushiki from Toyota’s Hybrid Engineering Management Division noted that the new engine contribues about 28% of the improvement in fuel efficiency; hybrid system management contributes about 26%; the new electric motor, 16%; new transaxle and PCU, 13% each; and new battery packs, 4%.

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Study finds EV use-phase fuel savings exceed marginal increase in energy demand for WBG semiconductor manufacturing by 2 orders of magnitude

August 14, 2015

Power electronics semiconductors, which manage voltage and current, are a key technology for enabling improvements in “fuel economy” in electric vehicles. While conventional silicon-based semiconductor technology currently owns the plug-in vehicle power electronics market, emerging wide band gap (WBG) semiconductors offer significantly greater energy efficiency potential than silicon.

A team from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, Northwestern University and the US Department of Energy (DOE) has now estimated the potential energy benefits in electric vehicles for two leading WBG semiconductor architectures—silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN)—and compared those with conventional silicon. Their paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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

July 23, 2015

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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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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Infineon heading up 3 major related EU electromobility research projects; ~$75M in total funding

June 10, 2015

The European Commission is launching three new related research projects aimed at making electromobility cheaper, more efficient and more reliable in order to facilitate more electric vehicles on Europe’s roads. Europe will be the site for the continued development and production of electric vehicles under these projects, which will run until 2018 and are headed by Infineon Technologies AG. Total funding for the three research initiatives is about €67 million (US$75 million).

As a result of the three research projects 3Ccar, OSEM-EV and SilverStream, electrical systems used in electric vehicles will benefit from being approximately one-fifth more compact and lighter; their range improved; and their cost lowered by about 25%. The three projects will collaborate to research and develop environmentally-friendly, safe and robust electric vehicles. The entire automotive value chain is contributing to this effort, from chip producers to car manufacturers.

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DOE announces $26.6M SBIR/STTR FY15 Phase 1 Release 2 awards; fuel cells, batteries, power electronics and efficient combustion engines

May 28, 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has selected 162 projects to receive about $26.6 million in the 2015 Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Phase I Release 2 Awards. (Earlier post.) Of these, 16 are vehicle-related, encompassing projects developing batteries, power electronics and improved combustion engine technology including on-board reformers, and two are specifically hydrogen fuel cell-related.

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) are Federal programs in which agencies with large research and development (R&D) budgets set aside a small fraction of their funding for competitions among small businesses only. Small businesses that win awards in these programs keep the rights to any technology developed and are encouraged to commercialize the technology. While the original charter of the program focused on technological innovation, the current programs have evolved to have a greater focus on commercialization.

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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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