[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.]
Audi launches next-gen A4 with new Millerized TFSI engine; g-tron model w/ Audi e-gas
June 29, 2015
Audi has unveiled the new-generation Audi A4 and A4 Avant, developed with a high priority on the reduction of CO2 emissions. Among other developments, the new A4 is the launch vehicle for the new high-efficiency 2.0L TFSI based on Miller cycle, introduced by Audi earlier this year at the Vienna Motor Symposium. (Earlier post.) The A4 Sedan and the A4 Avant will be launched in the market this fall.
The new models deliver CO2 emissions as low as 95 grams per kilometer (152.9 grams per mile) for the A4 Sedan 2.0 TDI ultra with 110 kW (150 hp). The new A4 Sedan has the best drag coefficient in its class at 0.23, while Avant has cd 0.26. Further, although compared with the previous model the car’s dimensions have grown, its weight has been reduced by up to 120 kilograms (265 lbs), depending on the engine. The body of the new Audi models is one of the lightest in its class due to an intelligent material mix and lightweight construction.
Evolute Drives seeking investors for MSYS multi-speed transmission for hybrids and EVs
June 09, 2015
Evolute Drives, incorporated as a separate entity by its sister company Drive System Design (DSD) (earlier post), is seeking investors to help commercialize its high efficiency MSYS multi-speed transmission system for hybrids and electric vehicles. (Earlier post.)
The MSYS transmission was originally developed under a 3-year Technology Strategy Board (now InnovateUK) grant awarded in 2011, and in 2013 DSD was named as a key member of a £16-million (US$24.4-million) UK government-supported consortium known as the Evoque_E development program. Evoque_E took a pragmatic look at how new transmission and motor technologies could be implemented to increase the range, performance and refinement of electric vehicles. Almost completed, the project has investigated a number of evolving powertrain options, including multi-speed transmissions and the potential for doubling electric vehicle motor speeds.
Ford investing $2.5B for new engine, transmission plants in Mexico
April 17, 2015
Ford is investing $2.5 billion in new engine and transmission plants in the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Guanajuato, respectively. The investment covers three projects: a new engine plant in Chihuahua; expansion of Ford’s I-4 and diesel engine lines in Chihuahua; and a new transmission plant—Ford’s first in Mexico—in Guanajuato.
The investment, which comes during the celebration of Ford’s 90th anniversary in the country, will bring 3,800 direct new jobs plus additional indirect jobs to Mexico. Ford officials announced the investment today during a ceremony with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and other members of the country’s Federal Government.
Honda’s 2016 Pilot features more power, 9-speed option, new drivetrain capabilities
April 10, 2015
Honda is enhancing its new third-generation MY2016 Pilot mid-size SUV with a new, more powerful direct-injected 3.5-liter engine with Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) cylinder deactivation technology producing 280 horsepower (210 kW) @6000 rpm and 262 lb-ft (355 N·m) of torque @4700 rpm, and new 6-speed and 9-speed (a Honda first) automatic transmissions. The engine’s peak output and torque are up 30 hp and 9 lb-ft, respectively, over the previous model.
The new Pilot also features a new Intelligent Variable Torque Management (i-VTM4) AWD System and all-new selectable Intelligent Traction Management system with Normal, Mud, Sand, and Snow modes on the AWD model and Normal and Snow on the 2WD model.
Daimler putting ~€1B into Stuttgart-Untertürkheim to make it the center of competence for efficient engines, hybrid powertrains and fuel cell system production
March 21, 2015
Daimler is investing about €1 billion (US$1.07 billion) in the Mercedes-Benz plant in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim and is transforming it into a center of competence for highly efficient engines, hybrid powertrains and the production of fuel cell systems.
From 1 June, Untertürkheim will assume responsibility for a facility in Nabern in the greater Stuttgart area where assembly of the fuel cell system will take place. The Nabern facility will remain the center of competence for the overall development of fuel cell drive systems under the direction of Daimler AG.
Kia unveiling new cee’d GT line with new 1.0L T-GDi and 7-speed DCT at Geneva
February 20, 2015
Kia Motors Europe will unveil a new Kia cee’d GT Line specification at the 85th Salon International de l’Automobile in Geneva on 3 March. In addition to a range of visual upgrades, the new cee’d GT Line features the debut of Kia’s all-new downsized 1.0-liter T-GDi (turbo gasoline direct injection) “Kappa” engine and new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission in Europe.
The 1.0-liter T-GDi is a downsized, three-cylinder power unit engineered to improve fuel consumption and emissions while offering strong performance and immediate response. This is the first of Kia’s upcoming range of downsized engines to make its debut in Europe. The 1.0-liter T-GDi engine produces 120 PS (118 hp, 88 kw) and 172 N·m (127 lb-ft) torque, and has been engineered to deliver lower CO2 emissions than the 1.6-liter GDI engine found in other cee’d models, pending final homologation closer to the GT Line’s launch.
ESKAM finishing electric drive axle module for commercial vehicles, new production technologies; vehicle testing this year
February 02, 2015
|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.
ZF showcasing second-generation 8HP 8-speed transmission at NAIAS; additional 3% boost in fuel savings
January 18, 2015
At the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, ZF is presenting its broad technology portfolio including the second generation of the 8HP 8-speed transmission. The new generation offers further developments ranging from lower drag torques and higher spread to an improved torsional vibration absorption.
Compared to the already highly energy-efficient first generation of the 8HP (earlier post), the second-generation unit achieves an additional three percent of fuel savings. The first generation of the eight speed 8HP saved up to 6% more fuel—and its stop-start variant up to 11% more—that the second-generation ZF 6-speed automatic transmission. With its flexible modular construction system, ZF’s 8HP covers a broad torque range between 300 and 1,000 N·m (221 to 738 lb-ft) and can be adapted to fit hybrid or all-wheel drive applications.
Fiat Chrysler investing additional $266M in Kokomo to increase capacity for 8-speed transmissions
December 23, 2014
|Eight-speed transmission housings move down the assembly line at Kokomo Transmission Plant. Click to enlarge.|
With sales of vehicles equipped with the popular eight-speed transmission growing, FCA US LLC (the new name for Chrysler Group LLC) will invest an additional $266 million in its Kokomo Transmission Plant (Ind.) to increase capacity of the fuel-efficient TorqueFlite transmission. This is the sixth investment made at Kokomo Transmission (KTP) since June 2009, bringing total investment in FCA US Kokomo operations to nearly $1.8 billion.
KTP has been producing the eight-speed transmission, introduced and licensed through ZF (earlier post), since September 2012. In 2013, KTP produced nearly 300,000 eight-speeds. That number has more than doubled to nearly 700,000 in the first 11 months of 2014. Currently, the eight-speed transmission is available on the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chrysler 300, Dodge Challenger, Dodge Charger, Dodge Durango and Ram 1500. The Company sold more than 800,000 of these models in the US through November 2014.
Consultancy looks to aggressive weight reduction in major powertrain components for CO2 savings; metal and polymer matrix composites
December 11, 2014
UK automotive engineering consultancy Drive System Design (DSD) suggests the next breakthrough in CO2 emissions reduction will come from more aggressive weight reduction in major powertrain components. Analysis by the company has identified both near-term and medium-term solutions for the manufacture of items such as transmission casings using advanced composite materials, but favors modern hybrid materials such as metal and polymer matrix composites (MMCs and PMCs) over conventional carbon composite solutions.
Continual pressure on the automotive industry to reduce carbon emissions is leading to weight reduction initiatives throughout the vehicle. Currently, several of the heaviest individual components in the powertrain, such as the main casings for the transmission, are still metal (e.g., aluminum alloys, magnesium alloys and iron) castings despite the widespread use of lighter materials elsewhere on the vehicle.
Oerlikon Graziano showcasing hybrid and electric transmission systems at CTI; new 2-speed AMT
December 05, 2014
Transmission specialist Oerlikon Graziano is showcasing its range of hybrid and electric transmission systems, including the OGeco torque infill unit that integrates a 6-speed automated manual with a 120 kW electric motor through a 2-speed epicyclic transmission, as well as a new 2-speed automated manual drive system, at the the 2014 CTI Symposium and Transmission Expo in Berlin next week.
The OGeco unit provides torque infill, electric boost, regeneration, electric drive and engine cranking. A prototype unit has been installed in a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG by Oerlikon Graziano and its UK partner, Vocis. The packaging is so effective that the OGeco with integrated electric motor fits into the same space as the 7-speed DCT normally fitted to the car.
Honda begins sales of new Grace Hybrid in Japan; 4WD option
December 01, 2014
Honda Motor Co., Ltd. has begun sales of the all-new Grace hybrid sedan at dealerships across Japan. The Grace is equipped with Honda’s Sport Hybrid i-DCD one-motor hybrid system that enables the driver to start in EV mode and realizes fuel economy of 34.4 km/L (81 mpg US or 2.9 l/100 km) under the JC 08 mode—best among all hybrid sedan models in the Japanese market. The Sport Hybrid i-DCD is also applied in the Fit and Vezel hybrids, and earlier had been the subject of three recalls due to separate problems with its &-speed DCT. (Earlier post.)
Also, for the first time as a compact hybrid sedan in this size category, the all-new Grace offers a 4WD version in its lineup. Honda’s monthly sales target in Japan is 3,000 units.
Toyota Motor to consolidate development and production of diesel engines under TICO; manual transmissions under Aisin Seiki; brake systems under Advics
November 29, 2014
Toyota Industries Corporation (TICO) and Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) will consolidate their joint diesel engine development and production under the control of TICO. The purpose of this decision is to strengthen the competitiveness of both companies by bringing the development and production of diesel engines under one roof and enabling more efficient allocation of resources.
Further, Toyota is consolidating development and Japanese production of manual transmissions under Aisin Seiki subsidiary Aisin AI Co., Ltd. and will accelerate the consolidation of brake system engineering, manufacturing and sales under Advics, which was founded in July 2001 by Aisin Seiki, Denso, Sumitomo Electric, and TMC. (TMC, TICO, Aisin Seiki and Denso are part of the Toyota Group.)
GKN develops two-speed eAxle; in production on BMW i8
November 10, 2014
GKN has developed the first two-speed eAxle; the technology has entered production on the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car, (earlier post) in which it provides power to the front wheels from a 96 kW, 250 N·m (184 lb-ft) electric motor. (A 170 kW/231 hp three-cylinder combustion engine in the BMW i8 drives the rear wheels.)
Production electric and axle-split hybrid vehicles have used single-speed transmissions; however, GKN said, using a fixed ratio limits electric drives in terms of either acceleration or top speed as they must disconnect at certain speeds to prevent the motor overspinning. GKN said its two-speed eAxle is the first in series production to enable the electric drive to boost the vehicle’s performance across its entire speed range.
New Unipiston clutch piston technology in series production; enables better fuel economy
November 06, 2014
Federal-Mogul Powertrain’s new high-modulus injection-molded Unipiston clutch pistons are now in series production at the company’s facility in Chivasso, Italy. The technology was a 2013 Automotive News PACE Award Winner in the process category.
Unipiston is a one-piece, rubber-to-metal bonded piston that hydraulically engages clutches to activate the gearshift. The compact one-piece design reduces the number of leak paths while improving reliability and simplifying assembly, and allows transmission designers more flexibility, including increased clutch apply pressures, higher rotational clutch speeds, and larger diameter clutches. This flexibility enables transmissions with additional clutches to be packaged in a smaller space, while providing improved fuel economy, reduced emissions and enhanced vehicle performance.
Volkswagen begins production of latest-gen DSG at new plant in China; 1.2M unit capacity by 2016
November 05, 2014
Volkswagen started production of the latest generation of its advanced dual-clutch gearbox (DSG), the DQ380, at its new Tianjin components plant in North China. Initially, the new Volkswagen plant will have an annual production capacity of 450,000 units, which will be increased to 1.2 million units by 2016. Volkswagen has invested about €265 million (US$332 million) in the first stage of the plant.
The dual-clutch gearboxes produced especially for the Chinese market will be used in several Group models in China in the future. With the DQ380 gearbox in combination with the third generation of the new EA888 engine, which is produced at the engine plants in Changchun and Shanghai, Volkswagen will achieve a consumption reduction of 0.5 l/100 km and therefore a CO2 reduction of 12 g/km compared with the previous generation.
GM Warren Transmission Plant to build electric drive unit for second-gen Volt; part of $300M investment in Michigan through end of year
October 28, 2014
Later today at the Detroit Economic Club, General Motors CEO Mary Barra will confirm that its Warren Transmission Plant will build the new electric drive unit—the GM Voltec 4ET50 Multi-Mode EDU—for the upcoming second-generation Chevrolet Volt. As a result, most major Volt powertrain components—from the battery cells to the new 1.5-liter range-extending engine—will be made in Michigan, establishing the state as the company’s global engineering center of excellence for vehicle electrification. The new Volt will debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January 2015.
The drive unit for the first-generation Volt consists of two motors—a 111 kW main traction and 63 kW (at 4800 rpm) generator motor (55 kW generator output)—as well as three clutches and a planetary gear set tucked in the end of the traction motor that improve overall efficiency by reducing the combined rotational speed of the electric motors as needed. (Earlier post.) GM will subsequently be providing details of the second-generation drive unit.
Visio.M researchers develop lightweight torque vectoring transmission for EVs; improved regen, better dynamics
October 15, 2014
|The lightweight torque vectoring transmission is applied in a Visio.M test vehicle. Click to enlarge.|
As part of the Visio.M project in Germany, researchers at the Technische Universität München (TUM), along with their colleagues in the consortium, have developed a lightweight torque vectoring transmission with characteristics that are optimally adapted to electric vehicles. The engineers at the Gear Research Center (FZG) at TUM focused on recouping as much braking energy as possible with the goal of enhancing the range of the vehicle.
Whereas drive torque conventionally is distributed evenly to the wheels of the drive axle, a torque vectoring system allocates torque between the wheels as required, noted FZG engineer Philipp Gwinner. This provides particularly good drive dynamics. As an example, when a vehicle accelerates in a curve, greater torque is applied to the outside wheel. The car steers itself into the curve. The result: greater agility and, at the same time, safer road handling.
EPA annual trends report finds new vehicle fuel economy at record 24.1 mpg; new powertrain technologies rapidly gaining share
October 10, 2014
EPA released the latest edition of its annual report on trends in CO2 emissions, fuel economy and powertrain technology for new personal vehicles in the US. Among the top-level findings was that Model year 2013 vehicles achieved an average of 24.1 mpg (9.76 l/100 km)—a 0.5 mpg increase over the previous year and an increase of nearly 5 mpg since 2004. Fuel economy has now increased in eight of the last nine years; average carbon dioxide emissions are also at a record low of 369 g/mile in model year 2013. The majority of the carbon and oil savings from current vehicles is due to new gasoline vehicle technologies, the report observed.
The report, “Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 Through 2014”, also found that the light truck market share increased slightly in MY 2013, after several years of volatility; that the vehicle weight trend is flat and vehicle power trend is increasing more slowly; that many new powertrain technologies are rapidly gaining market share; and that consumers have an increasing number of high fuel economy/low CO2 vehicle choices.
GKN develops all-wheel drive disconnect system for A-, B-, C-segments; fuel economy improvement up to 4%
October 07, 2014
GKN has developed the first Disconnect All-Wheel Drive System for A-, B- and C-segment vehicle platforms. The innovative disconnect function enables vehicles to combine the enhanced traction, dynamics and stability of all-wheel drive with improved on-highway fuel efficiency.
The system responds to driver inputs and road conditions, connecting and disengaging drive to the rear axle on demand. By eliminating rotating losses from the driveline, during steady state cruising fuel efficiency can be improved by up to 4% compared to permanent all-wheel drive systems.
Major refresh on 2015 Honda CR-V with new Earth Dreams powertrain provides fuel economy gain of up to 12%
October 04, 2014
|2015 Honda CR-V. Click to enlarge.|
Honda has given its 2015 CR-V compact SUV, which launched in US dealerships on 1 October, the most significant mid-model cycle refresh in the 17-year history of the model. The 2015 CR-V offers a new direct-injected Earth Dreams Technology i-VTEC engine and new continuously variable transmission (CVT); a new suite of “Honda Sensing” safety and driver assistance systems (DAS); significantly enhanced exterior and interior styling; as well a long list of new standard and available features and a new premium Touring trim.
The 2015 CR-V features increased EPA fuel economy ratings of 27/34/29 mpg (8.7/6.9/8.1 l/100 km) (city/highway/combined) for front-wheel-drive models and 26/33/28 mpg (9.0/7.1/8.4 l/100 km) for Real Time AWD models, both increasing +4/+3/+3 mpg over 2014 models—i.e., an increase in the combined rating of 11.5% and 12%, respectively, compared to the 2014 models.
MAN shows TGX parallel diesel hybrid truck concept, previews CNG in TGM trucks at IAA; gearbox cooperation with Scania
September 28, 2014
|MANs TGX hybrid concept at IAA. Click to enlarge.|
At the IAA, MAN (part of the Volkswagen Group) presented a concept diesel-electric parallel hybrid version of its long-haul TGX truck. (MAN showed the Metropolis research truck, a range-extended electric refuse collection truck developed in collaboration with Benteler Engineering Services for use in the city, at IAA 2012, earlier post.) Also at IAA, MAN gave a preview of the CNG technology in trucks with a TGM distributor chassis; the CNG trucks are due in the market in 2016. (MAN has an established line of CNG-powered buses.)
TGX Hybrid. The MAN TGX concept hybrid will be driven by a parallel hybrid system, supplied by a 440 hp (328 kW) diesel engine and an electric motor with 130 kW drive power. The electric motor acts as an alternator when coasting and braking. A MAN TipMatic gearbox transfers power to the rear axle.
BorgWarner supplying wet friction technology for Volkswagen Group’s DQ 400e dual-clutch transmission for hybrids
September 26, 2014
|Rendering of friction plate. Click to enlarge.|
BorgWarner is supplying its high-performance wet friction technology for Volkswagen Group’s DQ 400e dual-clutch transmission (earlier post)—the Group’s main near-term gearbox for all hybrid and plug-in hybrid applications that are transverse. (Earlier post.) Current examples include the Golf GTE and Audi A3 e-tron.
This core transmission for hybrid vehicles with transversely mounted engines employs three clutches—two drive clutches (K1/K2) plus an engine-disconnect clutch (K0). An 80 kW, 330 N·m (243 lb-ft) three-phase permanently excited synchronous machine is located in the hybrid module on the input shaft, between the engine-disconnect clutch K0 and the drive clutches (K1/K2).
Chevy’s Cruze Diesel: a compact diesel contender in the US
September 08, 2014
|The Cruze Diesel is identified by a discreet badge on the trunk. Click to enlarge.|
US buyers hunting for a non-premium diesel passenger car (i.e., not a truck or SUV, and not a vehicle from BMW, Audi, Porsche or Mercedes-Benz) have until recently only had Volkswagen-brand cars as an option: Beetle, Golf, Jetta, Passat. Accordingly, Volkswagen of America (VoA) diesel sales to date in 2014 represent slightly north of 23% of all Volkswagen of America sales. In August, Jetta posted 3,988 diesels sales (26% of Jetta sales, while Passat TDI sales were 2,767 units, representing 30.1% of sales of the vehicle.
However, Chevrolet is trying to challenge that passenger car diesel hegemony with the compact Cruze Diesel, introduced for MY 2014, and now with a facelift for MY 2015. (Earlier post.) Chevrolet is positioning the Cruze, which features a US-modified 2.0L diesel from GM’s European lineup (the engine is manufactured in Kaiserslautern, Germany) to challenge Jetta on the basis of highway fuel economy and power, as well as content. Based on a week with the car (MY2014), the claimed fuel economy superiority may be tough to realize in real-world driving (especially in the face of the new, more fuel-efficient diesel in the 2015 Jetta, earlier post) but overall, the Cruze Diesel is a worthy challenger, and a very good and thrifty drive, especially on the highway.
Details on GM’s new efficient top-end 8-speed automatic
August 21, 2014
|2015 Hydra-Matic 8L90 (M5U) Eight Speed RWD Automatic Transaxle Click to enlarge.|
GM is offering a version of its new GM-developed Hydra-Matic 8L90 paddle-shift eight-speed automatic transmission in the 2015 Corvette Stingray (earlier post) and Z06. The 8L90, the replacement for the venerable 6L80 six-speed in GM’s lineup, is offered as well as standard on 2015 Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra and GMC Yukon Denali/Yukon XL Denali models equipped with the 6.2L EcoTec3 V-8 (L86) (earlier post), and on the Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV. The rated turbine torque capacity of the new transmission is 1000 N·m (738 lb-ft).
GM’s objectives in developing the new 8-speed were improved fuel economy, performance, and NVH—while staying in the footprint of the 6L80. The eight-speed powerflow yields a 7.0 overall ratio spread, enabling improved launch capability because of a deeper first gear ratio and better fuel economy due to lower top gear N/V capability, relative to the 6L80.
Allison Transmission unveils integrated stop-start technology for Cummins ETHOS E-85 engine
July 21, 2014
Allison Transmission Holdings Inc. announced new integrated stop-start technology in conjunction with Project ETHOS, an ultra-low carbon powertrain program created by Cummins Inc. to demonstrate the potential of alternative fuels for carbon dioxide (CO2) reductions in medium-duty commercial vehicles.
The Cummins ETHOS 2.8L engine is designed specifically to use E-85 (85% ethanol and 15% gasoline). To take full advantage of the favorable combustion attributes and potential of E-85, the engine operates at diesel-like cylinder pressures and incorporates advanced spark-ignition technology. It delivers the power (up to 250 hp / 186 kW) and peak torque (up to 450 lb-ft / 610 N·m) of gasoline and diesel engines nearly twice its 2.8-liter displacement. (Earlier post.)