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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.]

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

April 01, 2015

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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DOE to award up to $20M to advance high-speed industrial motors and drives

March 20, 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award up to $20 million to spur the development of high-speed industrial motors and drives, using high power-density designs and integrated power electronics to increase efficiency. Individual awards may vary between $3 million and $5 million, not including the recipient cost share.

The Energy Department plans to select four to six projects, through the Next Generation Electric Machines: Megawatt Class Motors funding opportunity (DE‐FOA‐0001208), that demonstrate the benefits of using wide bandgap (WBG) variable-speed drives. These projects are expected to target a 30% reduction in system losses and a 50% reduction in size for megawatt-scale motor and drive systems used in the chemical and petroleum refining industries; natural gas infrastructure; and general industry compressor applications such as HVAC systems, refrigeration, and wastewater pumps.

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Renault boosts ZOE EV’s range by almost 15% to 149 miles with new motor unit

March 04, 2015

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The new R240 motor unit with integrated PEC. Click to enlarge.

Renault has extended the range of its battery-electric ZOE to 149 miles (240 kilometers)—a boost of 19 miles (31 km), or 14.6%—in the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) by using a new lighter and more compact R240 electric motor and an optimized electronic management system. (Earlier post.)

The R240 is a synchronous electric motor with rotor coil, with a power output of 65 kW and torque of 220 N·m (162 lb-ft). It also features a built-in Chameleon charger (earlier post) which allows faster charging at home (3 kW and 11 kW). The R240 is an all-Renault motor, designed by Renault engineers at the Technocentre R&D facility outside Paris and at the Cléon plant where the motor is made—close to Flins, where the ZOE is produced.

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ESKAM finishing electric drive axle module for commercial vehicles, new production technologies; vehicle testing this year

February 02, 2015

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Electric drive axle module with two motors and integrated power electronics. Groschopp AG. Click to enlarge.

The ESKAM (Electric Scalable Axle Module, Elektrische SKalierbare AchsantriebsModule) consortium in Germany, sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), is completing the development of an optimized electric drive axle module for commercial vehicles, consisting of two motors, transmissions and power electronics. All components fit neatly and compactly into a shared housing, which is fitted in the vehicle using a special frame construction also developed by the project engineers.

The individual modules developed by the various partners are complete, as are new manufacturing techniques developed by the partners. The consortium is now putting the individual parts together to make a demonstrator. After that, they want to fit the axle module into a real vehicle for testing by the end of 2015.

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Toyota beginning on-road testing of new SiC power semiconductor technology; hybrid Camry and fuel cell bus

January 29, 2015

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SiC PCU under the hood of the Camry hybrid test vehicle. Click to enlarge.

Toyota will begin the on-road testing of silicon carbide (SiC) power semiconductors in Japan this year, using a Camry hybrid prototype and a fuel cell bus. The tests will evaluate the performance of the SiC technology, which could lead to significant efficiency improvements in hybrids and other electric-drive vehicles. (Earlier post.)

Power semiconductors are found in power control units (PCUs), which are used to control motor drive power in hybrids and other vehicles with electric powertrains. PCUs play a crucial role in the use of electricity, supplying battery power to the motors during operation and recharging the battery using energy recovered during deceleration. At present, power semiconductors account for approximately 20% of a vehicle’s total electrical losses; raising the efficiency of the power semiconductors is a promising way to increase powertrain efficiency.

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DOE to award $55.8M for advanced vehicle technologies; $35M for fuel cell and hydrogen

January 22, 2015

US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced a new Vehicle Technologie program-wide funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0001201) for $55.8 million. DOE also announced up to $35 million to advance fuel cell and hydrogen technologies, including enabling the early adoption of fuel cell applications, such as light duty fuel cell electric vehicles. This new funding opportunity announcement will be available in early February.

The Vehicle Technologies funding is targeted at a wide range of research, development, and demonstration projects that aim to reduce the price and improve the efficiency of plug-in electric, alternative fuel, and conventional vehicles. Topics addressed include: advanced batteries (including manufacturing processes) and electric drive R&D; Lightweight materials; Advanced combustion engine and enabling technologies R&D; and Fuels technologies (dedicated or dual-fuel natural gas engine technologies).

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