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Vehicle Systems

[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.]

Delphi to debut new Tech Truck at IAA CV show; new high-pressure fuel injection system and new HPDI injector for natural gas

July 27, 2014

Delphi Automotive PLC will unveil the second generation of its Technology Truck concept highlighting future technologies at the upcoming IAA Commercial Vehicles show being held 25 Sept - 2 Oct in Hannover, Germany.

Among the technologies Delphi will unveil is the next-generation fuel injection system for commercial vehicles applications. The system, which builds on the performance of its 2700 bar F2 common rail technologies, includes a patented fuel injector and will help vehicle manufacturers meet future legislated emissions and fuel efficiency levels. Also at IAA, Delphi will showcase the new second-generation High Pressure Direct Injection (HPDI) natural gas injector for heavy-duty engine applications. Delphi co-developed the new HPDI injector with Westport.

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97% of US buyers opted for 2.5L stop/start base engine on 2014, 2015 Malibu

July 23, 2014

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2014 ECOTEC 2.5L I-4 iVLC DI (LKW) with stop/start. Click to enlarge.

Ninety-seven percent of customers in the US who purchased a 2014 or 2015 Malibu—accounting for about 83,000 vehicles—opted for the 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder base engine (LKW) equipped with standard stop/start technology, according to GM. (Earlier post.) This marks the the most aggressive rollout of stop/start technology in the US by an American automaker.

The 2014 Malibu was the first in its segment with a standard engine featuring fuel-saving stop/start technology. Stop/start is featured along other technologies in the Malibu’s new 2.5L intake valve lift control (iVLC), powertrain along with direct injection, variable valve lift control and a new six-speed automatic transmission. All contribute to EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 25 mpg (9.4 l/100 km) in city driving and 36 mpg (6.5 l/100 km) on the highway—14% and 6% improvements, respectively, over earlier models.

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Two Audi TDI technology studies with electric biturbo, 48V electrical systems; both technologies to go into series production

July 17, 2014

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V6 TDI bi-turbo with electric compressor. Click to enlarge.

Audi has built two technology studies with the “electric biturbo” technology it is developing (earlier post): the Audi A6 TDI concept is equipped with a new 3.0 TDI monoturbo (i.e., a single turbo with supplementary electric compressor), while the Audi RS 5 TDI concept with a 3.0 TDI biturbo (two in-series turbochargers with supplementary electric compressor).

The electric biturbo system comprises a classic exhaust turbocharger (mono- or bi-turbo) working together with a supplemental, electric-powered compressor arranged in series and powered by a separate 48-volt electrical system. Instead of a turbine wheel, it contains a small electric motor that applies a maximum drive power of 7 kW to accelerate the compressor wheel to maximum speed within 250 milliseconds.

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Continental supplying first turbocharger with aluminum housing

July 15, 2014

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The water-cooled aluminum turbine housing. Click to enlarge.

Continental’s powertrain developers have launched series production of the first car turbocharger with an aluminum turbine housing. Integration of the unit in the three-cylinder, 1.5L 100 kW gasoline engine for the MINI Hatch (earlier post) has been ongoing since spring 2014.

Water-cooling enables the use of the lightweight material and thus enables a significant weight reduction by nearly 30% while simultaneously providing cost and system benefits.

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Navigant forecasts 40% of new vehicles in 2030 will have some form of autonomous driving capability; 75% by 2035

July 11, 2014

In a new research report (“Autonomous Vehicles”), Navigant Research forecasts that by 2030, about 40% of new vehicles sold will have some form of autonomous driving capability installed. The company expects this to increase to 75% by 2035.

Although the first vehicles with some self-driving capability will come to market in 2020, Navigant said, it expects it will take another 5 years before volumes become significant. By 2030—if the recent proposed changes to the Vienna Convention (which would allow autonomous vehicles with a driver control override) are approved—Western Europe will be slightly ahead on first implementation, but the much larger automotive markets in Asia Pacific and North America will eventually lead, according to the research firm.

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Mercedes-Benz outlines synergies between F1 motorsport and production car engineering

July 10, 2014

Mercedes-Benz has outlined areas of actual synergies between its F1 motorsport activities with Mercedes AMG Petronas and Mercedes-Benz Cars. While there is definitely a technology transfer between race and road car engineering, said Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical) at Mercedes AMG Petronas, “it’s a more subtle process than bolting bits from one car onto another.

There are examples of direct transfer—such as the Nanoslide technology used to coat cylinder bore surfaces (earlier post)—and then there are examples of indirect transfer, such as F1 serving as a research laboratory for developing new solutions and showing the world what is possible, he noted.

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SwRI engineers win SAE award for paper on impact of octane and cooled EGR on engine performance and efficiency

July 03, 2014

A team of engineers from Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has received the prestigious SAE International Harry L. Horning Memorial Award for a 2012 technical paper (2012-01-1149) investigating different octane-rated gasolines and exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) levels.

Institute Engineer Dr. Charles Roberts, Assistant Director Dr. Terry Alger and Research Technologist Barrett Mangold, all of SwRI’s Engine, Emissions and Vehicle Research Division, received the award at the SAE World Congress in Detroit in April. Former SwRI employee Jess Gingrich is also a co-recipient.

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Ford and Intel demonstrate in-car personalization with perceptual computing; Project Mobii

June 26, 2014

Ford and Intel are researching new opportunities for the connected car, including giving drivers the ability to remotely peer into their car using a smartphone, or a vehicle that could identify its owner using facial recognition software. The joint research project, called Mobile Interior Imaging, or Project Mobii, explores how interior-facing cameras could be integrated with sensor technology and data already generated within and around the vehicle to create a more personalized and seamless interaction between driver and vehicle that transforms the driving experience.

The Mobii research, which was showcased during the Go Further with Ford 2014 Trend Conference as part of the “Big Data” track this week in Dearborn, was a collaboration between Intel ethnographers, anthropologists and engineers alongside Ford research engineers. Mobii incorporates perceptual computing technology (now named RealSense by Intel) to offer a more enjoyable and intuitive vehicle experience.

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CMU demo’ing Autonomous SRX in Washington this week

June 25, 2014

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Sample images of urban driving and screen-captures of the Autonomoous SRX’s tracking system’s results. The images in the first row show detection and tracking results from an arriving area of Pittsburgh international airport. The other two images in the second row show those of an urban street. Cho et al. (2014) Click to enlarge.

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) this week will demonstrate the CMU advanced Autonomous Cadillac SRX in Washington, DC. The car was brought to Washington at the request of Congressman Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania, who participated in a 33-mile drive in the autonomous vehicle between a Pittsburgh suburb and the city’s airport last September. Scheduled over two days, the demonstration will show how autonomous technology will eventually be fully integrated into vehicles that are currently on the market.

Developed with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the US Department of Transportation, DARPA and General Motors, the car is the result of more than a decade of research and development by scientists and engineers at CMU and elsewhere. Their work has advanced the underlying technologies—sensors, software, wireless communications and network integration—required to make sure a vehicle on the road is as safe—and ultimately safer—without a driver than with one. (In the case of the Washington, DC, demonstration, an engineer will be on hand to take the wheel if required.)

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Stop/start to be standard with V-6 in Jeep Cherokee and I-4 in 2015 Chrysler 200; up to 3% better fuel economy

June 24, 2014

Chrysler Group is offering fuel-saving Engine Stop-Start (ESS) technology as standard equipment on certain models of the award-winning 2015 Jeep Cherokee mid-size SUV and 2015 Chrysler 200 mid-size sedan.

Chrysler 200 customers who opt for the 2.4-liter Tigershark I-4, and Jeep Cherokee customers who choose the available 3.2-liter Pentastar V-6, will experience estimated fuel-economy improvements of up to 3%, compared with the conventional vehicle-engine pairings. ESS applications in the Chrysler 200 and Jeep Cherokee will also account for an estimated CO2 emissions-reduction of up to 3%.

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The technology behind Ford’s Lightweight Concept Vehicle; prospects for Mach-II with 50% mass reduction difficult

June 18, 2014

Earlier this month, Ford unveiled its Lightweight Concept vehicle, which uses advanced materials to explore future weight-reduction solutions that could improve performance and fuel efficiency while reducing CO2 emissions. The Ford Lightweight Concept reduces the weight of a 2013 Fusion to that of a Ford Fiesta, resulting in a nearly 25% weight reduction. (Earlier post.)

The Ford vehicle is based on the first phase (Mach-I) of work of the DOE-supported Multi-Material Lightweight Vehicles project (Award DE-EE0005574) by Vehma International (an engineering and prototype division within the Cosma International operating unit of Magna) and Ford. The $20.3-million project ($10 million from DOE, $10.3 million from Vehma/Ford) has two main objectives. First, to design and build the “Mach-I” prototype vehicle maintaining donor vehicle architectural space and using commercially available or demonstrated materials and processes while delivering a 22% reduction compared to the baseline vehicle. The result of this is reflected in the Ford concept.

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ABB: tests show up to 27% fuel savings on ship with Onboard DC Grid

June 16, 2014

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Dina Star with Onboard DC Grid. Click to enlarge.

ABB, the power and automation technology group, released third-party testing results showing that ABB’s Onboard DC Grid helps vessels reduce their fuel consumption, cut noise and trim their environmental impact. The measurements and tests, conducted by Pon Power in collaboration with ABB on Myklebusthaug Offshore’s platform supply vessel Dina Star, identified reduction of specific fuel oil consumption of up to 27%. (Earlier post.)

Dina Star is powered by four Caterpillar 3516 engines in combination with a C32 in a variable speed application. These are the first documented results from a vessel outfitted with ABB’s Onboard DC Grid, which allows engines to run at variable speeds for top fuel efficiency at each load level.

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Dearman Engine signs MOU with Hubbard Products for integration of liquid air engine TRU; report details liquid air benefits

June 04, 2014

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Dearman liquid air engine in a TRU system. Click to enlarge.

The Dearman Engine Company has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Hubbard Products Ltd to manage the vehicle integration of the Dearman engine liquid air transport refrigeration system (TRU) (earlier post). Part of the worldwide Zanotti group, Hubbard Products is the UK’s principal designer, manufacturer and supplier of refrigeration systems and units and the leaders in refrigeration for commercial vehicles and refrigerated vans.

The objective of this collaboration is to advance the technical, commercial and industrial development of the Dearman engine transport refrigeration system to a stage where Hubbard can manufacture, integrate and market cooling systems incorporating the Dearman engine in commercial volumes. The announcement of the MOU was concurrent with a release of a report—Liquid Air on the Highway—detailing the environmental benefits of the liquid air engine.

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Ford and Samsung outline R&D efforts for next-generation non-hybrid battery technology; dual-battery systems and lightweight Li-ion

In an event in San Francisco, Ford Motor Company and Samsung SDI, an affiliate of Samsung Group, outlined several collaborative research efforts on next-generation battery technology for non-hybrid vehicles. For the near term, they have been working on a dual-battery combining a lithium-ion battery with a 12-volt lead-acid battery that could enable regenerative braking technology in non-hybrid vehicles for greater fuel savings. Ford suggested the dual battery system might go into production soon.

Ford and Samsung SDI said they are also are researching a longer-term (e.g., about 10 years) ultra-lightweight lithium-ion battery that could one day supplant lead-acid batteries. The research advances lithium-ion battery technology currently available on Ford’s electrified vehicles.

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Environment Canada/MECA team assesses black carbon emissions in GDI engine exhaust; evaluation of prototype gasoline particulate filter

June 02, 2014

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BC mass emissions for all four GDI and PFI vehicles over the three different driving patterns. Solid bars represent low ambient temperature measurements whereas open, dashed bars represent standard temperature measurements. Credit: ACS, Chan et al. Click to enlarge.

Although gasoline direct injection engines (GDI) are a favorable technology for reducing fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, recent studies have shown that GDI vehicles could emit more PM than traditional PFI (gasoline port fuel injection) vehicles as well as heavy-duty diesel trucks equipped with diesel particulate filters. This may result in the need for new emissions control strategies—such as a gasoline particulate filter (GPF)—to enable compliance with California LEV III and US EPA Tier 3 particulate emissions standards.

Now, a team from Environment Canada and Manufacturers of Emission Controls Association (MECA) report on an evaluation of emissions from two pairs of GDI and PFI (gasoline port fuel injection) vehicles over two different drive cycles and at different ambient temperatures to understand how solid particle number and BC mass relationships vary under the influence of different factors. Their paper appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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DENSO develops a new low-cost fuel injection system for small motorcycles

May 30, 2014

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Main components of the DIET-FI system. Click to enlarge.

Global automotive supplier DENSO Corporation has developed a new electronic fuel injection system for small motorcycles called DIET-FI (DENSO Intelligent Economical Technology-Fuel Injection). DIET-FI is the first fuel injection system that doesn’t use a throttle position sensor or engine temperature sensor. Rather, it uses newly developed control technologies that ensure the same fuel economy and environmental performance as conventional fuel injection systems, thus cutting costs.

In the two-wheeler segment, fuel injection systems are usually only used in motorcycles; however, in recent years there has been a growing need to apply these systems to smaller motorized bikes up to the size of 150cc that are used in emerging markets, such as China.

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

May 27, 2014

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

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

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

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New Ford Transit debuts with new two-wet monocoat paint technology; improved durability and sustainability

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New two-wet monocoat paint process. Click to enlarge.

Ford began production of the North American Transit at Kansas City Assembly Plant on 30 April, and vans will be available in US and Canada this summer. Transit vehicles built in Kansas City are the first to use a new two-wet monocoat paint process developed by Ford and its paint suppliers. The technology results in more durable paint, uses less energy and water, and reduces carbon dioxide and particulate emissions compared with conventional paint processes.

The new paint was subjected to testing simulating typical conditions the vehicle will see over 10 year—e.g., resistance to chipping and scratching, pollutants and sun exposure. Data from preliminary advanced weathering testing indicates that paint applied with the new two-wet technology will retain 90% of its gloss at four years in service compared to 1% gloss retention for paint applied using a conventional monocoat process.

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

May 12, 2014

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

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

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

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Bosch offering range of complete powertrains for two-wheelers; Asia and smartphones

May 08, 2014

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Bosch regards the two-wheeler segment as one of the growth markets of the future and expects worldwide sales of motorcycles to reach around 150 million units in 2020, more than the equivalent figure for cars. Asia is a driver of growth. Source: Bosch. Click to enlarge.

Bosch is entering the global market for two-wheeler powertrains with its own range of complete systems. The company has developed an electronically controlled fuel injection system that can be adapted to any vehicle—allowing Bosch to offer solutions ranging from the cheapest single-cylinder two-wheeler in Asia to the high-performance bikes prevalent in Europe and North America.

Bosch regards the two-wheeler segment as one of the growth markets of the future and expects worldwide sales of motorcycles to reach around 150 million units in 2020, more than the equivalent figure for cars. Just as it is for cars, Asia is a driver of growth in the two-wheeler segment. Up to now, Bosch’s presence in the two-wheeler segment has revolved chiefly around automotive components modified for use in high-performance motorcycles.

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UK APC selects four powertrain projects for $51M in funding; contributing to next-gen Ford EcoBoost

April 30, 2014

UK Business Secretary Vince Cable recently announced the first four automotive technology projects to be funded by the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) (earlier post) with grants totaling £30.3 million (US$51 million); the projects that will help develop next-generation engines (including the Ford EcoBoost) and see Formula 1 technology applied in buses and excavators.

The jointly funded government and industry APC will invest around £1 billion (US$1.7 billion) over the next 10 years to develop, commercialize and manufacture greener and more efficient technologies for engines of vehicles of the future. The four projects are the winners of an up to £75 million competition that the Technology Strategy Board launched in partnership with the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) and the Automotive Council in December 2013.

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Dearman-led consortium awarded $3.1M to develop waste-heat-recovery system using liquid air engine

April 23, 2014

A consortium led by the Dearman Engine Company has been awarded £1.86 million (US$3.12 million) in the latest round of IDP10 funding from the UK’s Technology Strategy Board to support the development of a heat-recovery system for urban commercial vehicles. The tenth competition under the Low Carbon Vehicles Innovation Platform’s integrated delivery program (IDP), IDP10 is targeting the building of an integrated low-carbon-vehicle innovation chain, from the science base, through collaborative R&D to fleet-level demonstration.

The Dearman project is to deliver a production-feasible waste-heat recovery system for urban commercial vehicles, which offers life-cycle CO2 savings of up to 40%; fuel savings of 25%, with the potential of up to almost 50%; and potential payback in less than three years. The project uses the Dearman Engine, a highly-efficient liquid nitrogen or air (LiN) engine (earlier post) that harvests low-grade heat sources and, in this configuration, is most effective in urban duty cycles, working with the internal combustion engine (ICE) as a hybrid powertrain.

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IHS: Renesas maintains dominance in $26.7B automotive semiconductor market

April 18, 2014

Renesas remained the leader in the automotive semiconductor market in 2013, with the company’s dominance in microcomponents and logic integrated circuits (IC) helping it to hold a half-billion-dollar gap over the second-place competitor, according to analysis by IHS Technology. Japan-based Renesas posted automotive semiconductor revenue of $2.9 billion last year, giving the company a market share of 11%. This compares to $2.4 billion in revenue and 9% share for the Nº 2 contender, Infineon of Germany, allowing Renesas to maintain the leading position it held in 2012.

Although the IHS ranking shows Renesas experienced a 14% decline in revenue for the year, the drop was entirely driven by a fluctuation in the exchange rate between the Japanese yen and the US dollar. When measured in terms of its native yen, Renesas’ automotive semiconductor revenue actually rose by about 5% in 2013 compared to 2012, according to IHS. The overall automotive semiconductor market expanded by 5% in 2013, according to IHS. Market revenue last year rose to $26.7 billion in 2013, up from $25.4 billion in 2012.

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Subaru introduces 5th-gen AWD Outback with up to 10% improvement in fuel economy

April 17, 2014

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2015 Outback. Click to enlarge.

Subaru of America, Inc. introduced the 5th-generation 2015 Outback. The 2015 all-wheel drive Outback offers the roomiest interior, most capable chassis and highest fuel-efficiency in the model’s 20-year history.

New for 2015, all Outback models come standard with the Lineartronic CVT (continuously variable transmission), which features paddle-shift control switches and is instrumental in the Outback’s significantly improved fuel economy. Manufacturer-estimated ratings of 25 mpg city / 33 mpg highway / 28 mpg combined (9.4, 7.1 and 8.4 l/100 lm, respectively) for the Outback 2.5i model are up from 24/30/26 (9.8, 7.8 and 9.0 l/100 km, respectively) in the 2014 model—a 7.7% improvement in the combined figure.

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LMU study finds 20% of gases from combustion of R1234yf MAC refrigerant consist of highly toxic carbonyl fluoride (correction and update)

April 11, 2014

Chemists at Ludwig Maximilians Universität München report that 20% of the gases produced by the combustion of R1234yf—the approved low global warming potential refrigerant for mobile air conditioning (MAC) systems, the adoption of which has met with resistance from German automakers (earlier post)—consist of the highly toxic chemical carbonyl fluoride.

Carbonyl fluoride is structurally related to phosgene (which contains chlorine in place of fluorine), which was used as a chemical weapon during the First World War. Kornath and his co-workers have just published the results of their investigation in the journal Zeitschrift für Naturforschung B.

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ExxonMobil, Corning and Toyota develop onboard membrane system to separate gasoline into octane fractions to optimize engine efficiency and performance

April 10, 2014

ExxonMobil, Corning and Toyota have collaborated to develop an Onboard Separation System (OBS) to optimize gasoline engine efficiency and performance. OBS is a membrane-based process that separates gasoline into higher and lower octane fractions—essentially creating a dual fuel system from a single base fuel—allowing optimal use of fuel components based on engine requirements. The system, say the researchers, offers the potential to exploit most of the benefits of operating on premium high octane fuel while using less expensive regular grade more effectively.

In a paper on the OBS presented at the SAE 2014 World Congress, the researchers suggested that potential applications include downsizing to increase fuel economy by ∼10% while maintaining performance, and or using OBS with turbocharging to improve performance and knock resistance.

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SwRI D-EGR gasoline demo vehicle delivers diesel efficiency at lower cost; potential for LEV III/Tier 3 emissions

April 09, 2014

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Specific BSFC improvements from the D-EGR engine relative to baseline engine. Overall, the engine offered a 13.1% improvement in city fuel economy (24.5 to 27.7 mpg) and a 9.2% improvement on the highway (43.6 to 47.6 mpg). Chadwell et al., 2014-01-1190. Click to enlarge.

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) announced preliminary test results of its Dedicated-Exhaust Gas Recirculation (D-EGR) demonstration vehicle (earlier post) at the SAE 2014 World Congress in Detroit. D-EGR is a SwRI-developed gasoline engine concept that uses in-cylinder fuel reforming to produce CO and H2 (with Research Octane Numbers of 106 and 130, respectively) and high levels of recirculated gas (EGR) to achieve very high levels of thermal efficiency.

The D-EGR demonstrator is a converted 2012 Buick Regal with a 2.0-liter gasoline direct injection engine. In their paper, the SwRI researchers reported that the conversion to D-EGR improved engine efficiency and fuel consumption at least 10% across the performance map, with some operating conditions seeing substantially higher improvements. The D-EGR engine offers efficiency similar to diesel engine (~40% BTE) but at half the cost; it also demonstrates the potential for meeting the very stringent LEV III/Tier 3 emissions.

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

April 03, 2014

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

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

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

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Torotrak-led consortium wins $4M towards manufacturability of core variable drive technologies

April 02, 2014

A consortium of British high-technology companies led by Torotrak PLC has won £2.4 million (US$4 million) in funding from the UK government’s Technology Strategy Board towards the development of an optimized manufacturing route for key components of the company’s variable drive systems.

Called S-CONTACCT, the program, with a total project value of £3.8 million (US$6.3 million), will establish new manufacturing processes for the traction drive disks and rollers at the heart of Torotrak’s portfolio of automotive CO2 and fuel consumption reduction technologies, which includes variable drive superchargers; infinitely variable toroidal transmissions; and an advanced flywheel kinetic energy recovery system (KERS).

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Kenworth and Peterbilt introduce more fuel-efficient Class 8 trucks

March 27, 2014

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Kenworth T680 Advantage. Click to enlarge.

At the Mid-America Trucking show, PACCAR companies Kenworth and Peterbilt introduced more fuel efficient version of their heavy-duty models: the Kenworth T680 Advantage and the Peterbilt Model 579 with EPIQ package. Kenworth says that the T680 Advantage can deliver up to a 5% fuel efficiency enhancement over a standard T680. Peterbilt says that the Model 579 with EPIQ package can improve fuel efficiency compared to a standard Model 579 by up to 10%.

Both trucks rely on a combination of the PACCAR MX-13 engine with an Eaton Fuller Advantage Automated Transmission. This pairing features precise communication between the engine and transmission, as well as proprietary control logic to further enhance fuel economy.

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Volvo Car and Flybrid vehicle testing showing flywheel KERS can deliver fuel savings up to 25%, with significant performance boost

March 26, 2014

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Rear-axle KERS unit. Click to enlarge.

Volvo Car Group and engineering company Flybrid Automotive, part of the Torotrak Group, have been conducting UK tests of lightweight Flybrid flywheel KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) technology. (Earlier post.) The test car applies flywheel technology to the rear axle, while the combustion engine drives the front wheels.

The four-year partnership, using real-world driving data from tests on public roads and test tracks in both Sweden and the UK, has shown that the flywheel-based hybrid technology can deliver an 80 hp (60 kW) performance boost, together with fuel savings of up to 25%. (Earlier post.) The research forms part of Volvo’s continued Drive-E Powertrain research and development program; the Flybrid KERS tests show that it is a lightweight, financially viable and efficient solution for efficiency and performance, the partners said.

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Toyota and partners develop vehicle-to-vehicle copper recycling technology

March 25, 2014

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Sample vehicle wiring harness. Click to enlarge.

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) has developed a world-first technology for recycling the copper contained in wiring harnesses, in collaboration with Yazaki Corporation (Yazaki), Toyota Tsusho Corporation (Toyota Tsusho), and eight other companies. The newly-developed technology produces copper with a purity of 99.96%.

Roughly 40 years’ worth of mineable copper resources remain worldwide, according to a 2013 report by Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC). At the same time, global consumption is growing, driven particularly by infrastructure-related demand for wiring in emerging markets. In addition, large amounts of copper are used in the motors of hybrid vehicles, which are becoming increasingly popular.

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EU approves Mercedes-Benz ECO Thermo engine cover as fuel-saving Eco-innovation

March 18, 2014

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Phantom graphics of the Mercedes-Benz S 300 BlueTEC HYBRID showing ECO Thermo engine cover. Click to enlarge.

The European Commission has approved the new ECO Thermo Cover engine compartment encapsulation in the Mercedes-Benz S 300 BlueTEC HYBRID (earlier post) as a manufacturer’s Eco-innovation. Insulating buildings saves energy; Mercedes engineers have adopted a similar idea in the car.

With insulating partitions in the engine compartment and a radiator shutter that is closed when the car is at a standstill, the heat inside the Mercedes-Benz S 300 BlueTEC HYBRID remains in the engine compartment, even if the vehicle is stopped for some time. When the engine is started again, the higher temperatures reduce friction in the engine, minimize cold-start losses, and cut CO2 emissions. Tests performed at Mercedes-Benz indicate an average fuel saving of up to 1.5 liters per full 70-liter tank (i.e., around 2.1%) over the course of a year.

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Volvo Cars developing systems for Driver State Estimation; driver sensors

March 17, 2014

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A sensor that is able to monitor in which direction the driver is looking, how open the eyes are, as well as head position and angle is part of Volvo Cars’ work on developing systems that can detect if a driver is tired or inattentive. The technology is based on a sensor installed in the dashboard and small LEDs that illuminate the driver with infrared light.The information can be used to adjust the action of safety systems to the driver’s condition. Click to enlarge.

Volvo Cars is researching systems that can recognize and distinguish whether a driver is tired or inattentive. By placing a sensor on the dashboard to monitor aspects such as in which direction drivers are looking, how open their eyes are, as well as their head position and angle, it is possible to develop precise safety systems that detect a driver’s state and are able to adjust the car accordingly.

The analysis of the driver’s state, known as Driver State Estimation, in which driver sensors play an important role, is a field that may be key to self-driving cars in the future, Volvo suggests. The car will need to be able to determine for itself whether the driver is capable of taking control when the conditions for driving autonomously are no longer present. A driver sensor could be of assistance in this.

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Predictive Powertrain Control cuts test consumption in Setra coach by an average of 9.2%

March 14, 2014

In a European media test event, the fuel consumption of Daimler’s new TopClass 500 with Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC) (earlier post) fell by an average of 9.2%. Daimler has been citing fuel consumption improvements of up to 4% for the anticipatory cruise control technology.

More than two dozen journalists from the specialist press tested PPC intensively on the topographically challenging A6 motorway between Kaiserslautern and Grünstadt. On five days of driving they covered a total of 3,120 km (1,939 miles). The fuel consumption was precisely recorded using measuring devices. Three new Setra TopClass 500 touring coaches were tested in various versions.The three-axle super-high-deck touring coaches were each realistically loaded to a gross vehicle weight of 21.5 t.

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ATDynamics projects 200,000 semi-trailers to be equipped with fuel-saving rear-drag aerodynamics technology by end of 2017

March 11, 2014

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The patented TrailerTail design lowers vehicle fuel consumption by reducing low-pressure suction drag directly behind a trailer. Source: ATDynamics. Click to enlarge.

ATDynamics, a supplier of semi-trailer aerodynamics technology, projects that, based on current trucking fleet adoption trends, 200,000 semi-trailers will be equipped with fuel saving TrailerTail technology by the end of 2017. TrailerTail technology, which reduces aerodynamic drag at the back of tractor-trailers and improves vehicle fuel efficiency by approximately 5%, has been incorporated into three of the Department of Energy’s SuperTruck Projects.

ATDynamics launched the patented thermoplastic composite TrailerTail design in 2010. At present, 350 US trucking companies, including top 100 US fleets such as Mesilla Valley Transportation; Prime Inc.; Roehl Transport; and C.R. England operate approximately 20,000 semi-trailers with TrailerTails.

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Joint Research Centre review concludes no serious risk in use of R1234yf MAC refrigerant under normal and foreseeable conditions

March 07, 2014

A scientific review of research regarding the safety aspects of the use of refrigerant R1234yf in Mobile Air Conditioning (MAC) systems, published by the European Commission, concludes that there is no evidence of a serious risk in the use of this refrigerant in MAC systems under normal and foreseeable conditions of use.

The review, carried out by Europe’s Joint Research Centre, provided an in-depth analysis of testing and a subsequent report on the refrigerant’s safety by KBA (Kraftfahrt Bundesamt, the German authority responsible for market surveillance and product safety for road vehicles) in order to ascertain whether the results stemming from the tests were well founded and supported by a rigorous and scientific methodology.

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Maxwell Technologies introduces ultracapacitor-based engine start module for medium-duty diesel trucks

March 05, 2014

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New medium-duty ESM. The third terminal connects to the starter solenoid. Click to enlarge.

Maxwell Technologies, Inc. is expanding its ultracapacitor-based Engine Start Module (ESM) product line (earlier post) to provide the same benefits to class 3 through 6 medium-duty trucks that it has been offering previously to class 7 and 8 heavy-duty diesel trucks.

Maxwell’s ESM ULTRA 31/900 assumes the starting responsibility for the truck and effectively eliminates cranking problems that come from weak or discharged batteries. Consistent with Maxwell’s current award-winning ESM product, the ESM ULTRA 31/900 delivers the quick-burst power trucks need to crank their engines in extreme cold, down to -40°F.

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Nissan introducing smart rearview mirror combining LCD monitor and conventional mirror

February 28, 2014

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Smart rearview mirror. Click to enlarge.

Nissan Motor Company, Ltd., has developed what it is calling a “smart” rearview mirror—an LCD monitor that not only provides clear rearward visibility under various conditions, but also allows the driver the ability to switch between the LCD monitor and the traditional rearview mirror, depending on the preference. Nissan will introduce the Smart rearview mirror at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show.

The Smart rearview mirror is housed within the structure of the rearview mirror, with a built-in LCD monitor that can be activated in place of the conventional mirror. A high-resolution camera mounted on the rear of the vehicle provides the driver with a clear unobstructed view of the rear flanks, allowing the ability to check blind spots and other traffic conditions. The camera projects a clear image onto the monitor to provide the driver with a better view for a more comfortable driving experience.

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Flybrid flywheel KERS to be integrated into a manual gearbox by Lotus-led consortium

February 27, 2014

The UK’s Technology Strategy Board has awarded Torotrak, in collaboration with lead technology partner Lotus Cars, a grant to develop a new application of the Flybrid KERS (kinetic energy recovery system) technology for integration into a manual gearbox. (Torotrak completed its acquisition of Flybrid in January. Earlier post.)

The project is valued at £4.3 million (US$7.2 million) to the consortium members and will be part-funded by the Technology Strategy Board grant, with a value of works undertaken by the Torotrak Group directly of approximately £0.7 million (US$1.2 million) over the course of the project. It will run for approximately 24 months from its commencement in the second quarter of 2014 and will see the lightweight, race-proven Flybrid KERS technology installed into one of Lotus’s signature performance road cars.

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SwRI develops D-EGR demonstrator highlighting fuel-efficient, cost-effective engine; 10% and above fuel economy improvements

February 25, 2014

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has built a demonstrator vehicle, based on a 2012 Buick Regal GS, incorporating the latest D-EGR (dedicated EGR) technology (earlier post), an outgrowth of SwRI’s HEDGE (High Efficiency Dilute Gasoline Engine) consortium projects (earlier post). The vehicle is currently delivering about a ~13% improvement on the FTP and 10% on the HwFET cycles, according to Dr. Terry Alger, SwRI Assistant Director, Engine & Vehicle R&D, Engine, Emissions & Vehicle Research.

Staff at the non-profit research organization presented it with little fanfare to the SwRI board of directors and advisory trustees along with 7 other research projects at the 66th annual meeting on Monday. The demonstrator will be present at the upcoming SAE 2014 High Efficiency IC Engine Symposium in Detroit in April; SwRI engineers are presenting a paper (2014-01-1190) at the SAE 2014 World Congress on the development of the demonstrator’s engine.

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Ricardo launches pre-production prototype of high-speed flywheel energy storage for off-road equipment

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200 kJ capacity TorqStor prototype to be shown at CONEXPO. Click to enlarge.

Ricardo will introduce TorqStor—the latest generation of Ricardo’s high speed flywheel energy storage technology—at the CONEXPO 2014 show in Las Vegas as a pre-production prototype for OEM product integration.

Ricardo’s TorqStor technology combines a modular, high-efficiency, carbon-fibre composite construction flywheel with a magnetic coupling and gearing system to provide for a scalable range of energy storage capacities for different equipment applications. The magnetic coupling also enables the unit to operate in a permanently sealed vacuum and permits ease of in-field maintenance for high availability applications.

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Update on Nissan’s 1-motor, 2-clutch hybrid system

February 20, 2014

Nissan’s 1-motor, 2-clutch parallel hybrid system (1M2CL), first introduced in 2010 for the rear-wheel drive Infiniti M35 Hybrid (earlier post), has since grown into its second-generation rear-wheel drive system as well as spawned a front-wheel drive variant with CVT (earlier post). The system and its offshoots are now applied in 4 Infiniti and Nissan hybrid vehicles—Q50, Q70, QX60 and Pathfinder.

At the recent SAE 2014 Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Technologies Symposium, Tomoaki Momose, manager of powertrain development from Nissan Technical Center North America, gave an update on the technical evolution of the core hybrid system.

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New 3-speed EV powertrain to offer 10-15% improvement in EV range

February 19, 2014

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Compared to a single-speed EV or HEV transmission, DSD’s MSYS 3-speed system provides a 40% weight saving and 10-15% lower energy consumption. Click to enlarge.

UK-based Drive System Design is developing a new EV powertrain based on an alternate approach to powershifting (no torque interrupt) achieved by separating the existing functions of a synchronizer. The integrated design of an axial flux YASA motor (earlier post) with the multi-speed transmission contributes to simplification of the motor cooling system, electrical architecture and powertrain control system.

The MSYS system can mean a 10-15% improvement in the range of electric vehicles, the company says. (Earlier post.) The company was recently showcased at the Cleantech Innovate 2014 event by the UK’s LowCVP organization (Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership), along with 7 other companies. DSD was the winner of a LowCVP commendation as the most impressive of the road transport-focused entries.

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CPT presenting two papers at SAE World Congress on SpeedStart and TIGERS for 48V mild hybrid systems

February 18, 2014

Controlled Power Technologies (CPT) will deliver two technical papers at SAE World Congress in April on its SpeedStart torque assist and kinetic energy recovery system (earlier post) and TIGERS turbine integrated gas energy recovery system (earlier post) for 48V mild hybrid vehicles.

The switched reluctance (SR) motor-based SpeedStart and TIGERS technology are being incorporated into the recently announced Advanced Diesel Electric Powertrain project known as ADEPT. (Earlier post.) ADEPT combines the two technologies, which have been demonstrated individually but not yet as an integrated system, applying the low voltage concept of ‘intelligent electrification’ for the first time to a diesel car. For the ADEPT project, the consortium comprises CPT, the European Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium (EALABC), Faurecia Emissions Control Technologies, Ford and the University of Nottingham. The management of the project is being handled by Ricardo.

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NHTSA awards Virginia Tech Transportation Institute $1M for V2V framework project

February 14, 2014

Following a US Department of Transportation decision to move ahead with require vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology for all cars and light trucks on the nation’s highways (earlier post), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has awarded the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) a $1-million follow-on to a $3 million project managed by the transportation institute.

The goal of the project is to design, to test, and to disseminate the initial recommended framework that controls how motorists receive communications—traffic warnings, the too-close approach of another vehicle, weather warnings, or text messages—while driving. Focus will be placed on the communication’s format, visual or audible, and the order and timing of such messages.

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Magnetic eCVT could replace conventional hybrid mechanical eCVT with likely 1-2% fuel economy improvement and other benefits

February 12, 2014

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MAGSPLIT is intended to replace mechanical eCVTs with a combination motor/magnetic gear. Source: Magnomatics. Click to enlarge.

At the SAE 2014 Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Technologies Symposium in San Diego, Chris Kirby, founder and Managing Director of UK-based Magnomatics, presented an overview of the company’s second-generation MAGSPLIT (Magnetic Power Split) eCVT system, a compact magnetic transmission designed to replace both the mechanical planetary gearset and motor/generator that form a typical hybrid powersplit system.

Preliminary testing results of a prototype of the magnetic eCVT presented at the conference suggest a likely 1-2% improvement in fuel consumption compared to a conventional hybrid system, along with the benefits of reduced system complexity, no lubrication, low battery charge swing (allowing either downsizing the battery or extending the life of the original size) and compact packaging. Much further testing and optimization remains to be done, Kirby noted.

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Mitsubishi Electric develops ultra-simple and fast HMI for in-car device operation

February 10, 2014

Mitsubishi Electric Corporation has developed an “Ultra-simple HMI” (human-machine interface) that predicts a car driver’s needs for the safe and easy operation of vehicle equipment in one or two steps and no more than 15 seconds. Mitsubishi electric has filed for 25 patents on the technology in Japan and 42 abroad; pending design patent applications number five in Japan.

Mitsubishi Electric’s highly intelligent human-machine interface (HMI) technology bases its predictions on operational history and current conditions to minimize the steps and time required to operate the vehicle’s four primary on-board devices: navigation system, phone, air conditioner and audio-visual equipment.

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Renault introduces ZE-ready concept with drone Flying Companion; targeting new markets

February 05, 2014

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The KWID CONCEPT comes with a Flying Companion drone stored on the roof. Click to enlarge.

Renault unveiled the KWID CONCEPT at the Delhi Auto Show—the first Renault concept car unveiled outside Europe. The KWID CONCEPT features a “Flying Companion”—a small drone that can be operated in one of two modes. Automatic mode uses a pre-programmed flying sequence and GPS location; manual mode enables the companion to be controlled using a dashboard-integrated tablet.

The Flying Companion is the first of its kind in the automotive world. It takes off from the rotating rear portion of the KWID CONCEPT’s roof. Renault suggests that the Flying Companion could be used for a variety of purposes, including scouting traffic, taking landscape pictures and detecting obstacles on the road ahead.

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Audi introducing new “ultra” A4, A5, A6 models; diesels with up to 60 mpg

February 04, 2014

Audi is expanding its “ultra” strategy with 11 new models: especially efficient diesel engine versions in the A4, A5 and A6 model lines will be launched in Europe in early 2014. A new 2.0-liter TDI will provide the drive at 100 kW (136 hp), 120 kW (163 hp) or 140 kW (190 hp); the engine emits just 104 to 119 grams of CO2 per kilometer (167.37 to 191.51 g/mile) depending on the model.

“Ultra” is Audi’s designation for more efficient mobility that is fully available for everyday use. With a combined fuel consumption rate of 3.9 to 4.6 liters per 100 kilometers (60 to 51 mpg) and CO2 emissions of 104 to 119 grams per kilometer (167 to 192 g/mile), the new ultra models from Audi are among the most efficient cars of their segment.

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New Jeep Cherokee debuting at Geneva show with new 2.0L Multijet II turbo diesel, start/stop and 9-speed transmission

February 03, 2014

The new Jeep Cherokee (earlier post) will make its European debut at the 84th Geneva International Motor Show this year. The new Jeep Cherokee will be introduced in Jeep dealerships throughout Europe beginning the second quarter of 2014, with four engine choices: the efficient 2.0-liter Multijet II turbo diesel delivering 170 hp matched witha new 9-speed automatic; a 140 hp version of the 2.0-liter diesel engine combined with a 6-speed manual; the 3.2-liter V-6 Pentastar gasoline engine paired to the 9-speed; and in Russia and the Middle East, the new 9-speed is offered in combination with the 2.4-liter Tigershark MultiAir I-4.

The new generation Jeep Cherokee is available in both two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations, and is also the first mid-size SUV to feature rear-axle disconnect, resulting in reduced energy loss when 4x4 capability isn’t needed and ensuring improved fuel efficiency.

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Hino and DENSO develop the world’s first electric refrigerator system for heavy-duty trucks powered by a hybrid unit

January 31, 2014

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Hino Profia with an electric refrigerator system. Click to enlarge.

Hino Motors, Ltd., a Toyota Group company, and DENSO Corporation have jointly developed the first electric refrigerator system for heavy-duty trucks using a hybrid unit. This system is being applied in the Hino Profia, which will be released on 1 February in Japan; Hino is targeting annual sales of 180 units.

Hybrid trucks conventionally use energy generated from hybrid systems to assist the vehicle’s driving. However, this new truck uses energy from hybrid unit only for the new electric refrigeration system. The compact and light-weight hybrid unit—also applied in the Hino Dutro Hybrid (Hino 300 outside of Japan)—was optimized as an energy source for this new refrigerator. With the combination of Hino’s hybrid powertrain system technology and DENSO’s electric refrigerator system technology, the two companies have developed a high-quality refrigerator system that helps improve fuel economy, improves refrigeration performance, and is quieter when operating.

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New ceramic hollow fiber substrate for catalytic converters cuts fuel consumption, size and manufacturing costs

January 28, 2014

A new ceramic hollow fiber substrate for catalytic converters designed by Dr. Benjamin Kingsbury and colleagues at Imperial College London could cut the size and precious metal loading of the devices in automobiles while reducing fuel consumption and and manufacturing costs. Kingsbury has founded MicroTech Ceramics Ltd. as a spin-out to commercialize the technology.

The new structure can achieve a 2-3% fuel saving in engines (through the elimination of backpressure), or offer high performance cars an equivalent increase in engine power. It also enables the size of catalytic convertors to be reduced by around 50%, offering engine and exhaust system designers greater freedom. The new substrate can use up to 80% less rare metal, a development that could significantly reduce costs for vehicle manufacturers.

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EVDrive demonstrates 4-wheel 4-motor torque vectoring technology for electric UTVs

January 27, 2014

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EVDrive torque vectoring. Click to enlarge.

EVDrive has developed and demonstrated an electric 4-wheel, 4-motor torque vectoring technology (Terra-Torque-Drive) specifically targeted at 4-wheel off-road powersports vehicles such as side-by-side Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTVs).

The Terra-Torque-Drive-powered e-UTV demonstrator uses four sealed liquid-cooled EVDrive EVD35 35kW/47hp peak drive sub-systems, de-tuned to ~30kW/hp each or delivering a total of ~160hp/120kW peak. At each motor shaft, ~66 ft-lbs (89 N·m) peak torque is delivered. The 4 gearboxes allow ratio changes with off-the-shelf gearsets. With the currently installed single speed gearsets at the CV joint of each wheel, 726 ft-lbs (984 N·m) peak torque is delivered. This is the kind of torque necessary to perform Zero Radius Turns with a fully loaded vehicle and perhaps even some extreme rock climbing.

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Schaeffler demo vehicle hits 2020 CAFE targets without electrification; 15% cut in fuel consumption; 48V hybrid system for 2025

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Schaeffler Efficient Future Mobility North America demo vehicle in Detroit. Click to enlarge.

At the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), Schaeffler highlighted its range of fuel-efficiency technologies and systems in the form of its current demonstration vehicle: Efficient Future Mobility North America. Based on the current version of a popular mid-size SUV, the demonstration vehicle achieves the limit values specified by the CAFE standard for 2020 with no additional electrification of the powertrain.

The use and optimization of a range of Schaeffler technologies allowed the vehicle’s fuel consumption to be reduced by 15%. These values were initially simulated using Schaeffler calculation programs and verified by Schaeffler’s experts in North America using measurements and test cycles, and then certified by an independent testing institute.

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DOE to award $49.4M for advanced vehicle technologies research; meeting Tier 3 emissions

January 22, 2014

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award $49.4 million to projects to to accelerate research and development of new vehicle technologies. The new program-wide funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0000991) (earlier post), was announced by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz at the Washington Auto Show.

The funding opportunity will contains a total of 13 areas of interest in the general areas of advanced light-weighting; advanced battery development; power electronics; advanced heating, ventilation, air conditioning systems; advanced powertrains (including the ability to meet proposed EPA Tier 3 tailpipe emissions standards); and fuels and lubricants. These areas of interest apply to light, medium and heavy duty on-road vehicles.

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KSPG showcases numerous system and components for fuel efficiency at NAIAS; new steel pistons

January 20, 2014

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The new steel pistons are due to go into series production with an OEM this year and can consume of to 4% less fuel. Produced with a single cast, the piston has integral cooling galleries. Click to enlarge.

At the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, tier one supplier KSPG is showcasing systems for cars, light and medium-duty commercial vehicles and components for efficient fuel and emission reduction for both gasoline and diesel vehicles. KSPG AG is the parent and flagship company of the Automotive sector of the Rheinmetall Group, Germany.

For the new, high-performance generation of diesels, KSPG is exhibiting components for the exhaust gas system, steel pistons, and ultramodern high-duty plain bearings. Also being displayed are oil, coolant and vacuum pumps addressing growing cooling requirements and stiffer challenges posed by today’s generations of engines.

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Audi using supplementary port fuel injection to address particulates from gasoline direct injection

January 14, 2014

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Elements of the dual injection system. Red is for the high-pressure direct injection system, blue for the low pressure MPI system. Credit: Audi. Click to enlarge.

The 2.0-liter EA888 Gen3 engine featured in Audi’s all-road shooting brake plug-in hybrid concept unveiled at the North American International Auto Show this week (earlier post) features—as does its production ilk—a dual injection system that combines direct injection with indirect injection into the intake manifold. In part-load operation, the indirect injection supplements direct gasoline injection to improve fuel economy and to reduce the output of particulates from the engine. (Earlier post.)

Audi says the approach is sufficient to meet Euro 6 particle limits without the use of a particulate filter. (Earlier post.) The EU has set a standard for 6 × 1012 number/km limits between 2014 and 2017, tightening to 6 × 1011 number/km. (Earlier post.)

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Volkswagen to intro Passat BlueMotion Concept at Detroit show; 4-cylinder with cylinder deactivation; 42 mpg highway

January 09, 2014

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Passat BlueMotion Concept. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen of America will introduce the Passat BlueMotion Concept at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit next week. Based on the current Passat that was developed specifically for North America, the BlueMotion label defines the version that has the best efficiency in the model lineup. In this case, the Passat BlueMotion Concept has a manufacturer-estimated highway fuel economy of 42 mpg (5.6 l/100 km), best-in-class among non-hybrid, gasoline-engined mid-size sedans.

The Passat BlueMotion Concept features an all-new version of the Volkswagen 1.4-liter EA211 TSI engine with direct injection and turbocharging. (Earlier post.) Additionally, this Passat also offers Active Cylinder Management (ACT) technology, previously seen on the European Volkswagen Polo and Golf models.

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CAR report quantifies automotive’s position as a leading high-tech industry

January 08, 2014

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Percentage of Global R&D Spending by Industry, 2013. Source: Booz & Company “Global Innovation”; Battelle R&D Magazine; Center for Automotive Research 2012. Click to enlarge.

A newly-released report by the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) concludes that the automotive industry is not only “high-tech,” it is frequently a leader in technological developments and applications. The report, supported by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, measures the technological nature of today’s auto industry and compares it to other sectors of the economy often viewed as technologically advanced.

The report authors acknowledge the difficulty of defining “high-tech” in an ever-changing economic environment. After reviewing of the works of several researchers and government agencies, CAR developed a working definition to differentiate high-tech industries from other sectors. Broadly, high-tech industries generally have the following characteristics:

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Audi and TTTech present prototype advanced ECU for piloted driving at CES; computing capacity superior to entire current A4

January 07, 2014

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Audi AG’s Ulrich Hackenberg (Member of the Board for Technical Development) holds the prototype zFAS at CES. Click to enlarge.

At the CES in Las Vegas, Audi and its technology partner TTTech Computertechnik AG presented a prototype of the zFAS platform ECU for piloted driving. TTTEch is a leading provider of reliable network solutions based on time-triggered technology and modular safety platforms. (Earlier post.)

The highly integrated platform ECU zFAS is based on a complex multicore network, hosting sophisticated sensor fusion and a variety of innovative functions with multiple safety criticality levels for applications such as piloted parking or driving.

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NASA Glenn develops automated flywheel pulse-and-glide system; improving fuel economy up to 40-100%

December 27, 2013

Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed an automated pulse-and-glide technique using a flywheel energy storage system for on-road vehicles; the technology, which NASA Glenn says can improve fuel economy over existing internal combustion or battery hybrid systems by 40-100%, is available for licensing.

Drivers can use a manual “pulse-and-glide” (PnG) driving technique—accelerating and decelerating an automobile in cycles of approximately 10-30 seconds—as a way to improve fuel economy. A 2009 SAE paper by a team from Virginia Tech and Argonne National Laboratory found that a simulated PnG driving strategy in a Ford Focus delivered 33-77% fuel economy improvement depending on different speed ranges and acceleration times. The fuel economy results of a 2004 Toyota Prius from simulation and testing showed 24-90% fuel economy improvement with PnG drive cycles compared to steady speed results.

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DOE to issue FY14 Vehicle Technologies program-wide funding opportunity announcement

December 20, 2013

The Department Of Energy (DOE), Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) intends to issue, on behalf of its Vehicle Technology Office (VTO), a program-wide Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0000991) for fiscal year 2014 on or about January 2014. The advance notice (DE-FOA-0001053) is to alert interested parties of the coming FOA.

The areas of interest outlined in the notice of intent (NOI) fall into two broad categories: technologies to advance plug-in electric vehicles; and technologies to improve fuel efficiency, including dual-fuel, fuel properties (e.g., high octane fuels), and advanced powertrain work.

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American Axle introduces EcoTrac disconnecting all wheel drive

American Axle & Manufacturing (AAM) announced the introduction of the automotive industry’s first disconnecting all-wheel-drive (AWD) system. EcoTrac is featured on the all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee (rear-axle disconnect).

The EcoTrac Disconnecting All Wheel Drive takes a new approach to minimizing the effect of inertia and drag on a vehicle’s driveline system by disconnecting many of the rotating components from the driveline when they are not needed. These components include both the PTU and RDM hypoid gear sets, the bearings associated with the gear sets, and the driveshaft.

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Navigant Research forecasts stop-start vehicles to account for 53.4% of global vehicle sales by 2022

December 19, 2013

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Annual stop-start light duty vehicle sales by region, world markets: 2013-2022. Source: Navigant. Click to enlarge.

By 2022, total global annual sales for light duty stop-start vehicles (SSVs) will exceed 55 million, accounting for 54.3% of total vehicle sales, according to a new report by Navigant Research. Growth in light duty SSV sales during the next decade will be predominately in the three major market regions of North America, Western Europe, and Asia Pacific, primarily because these regions are the most aggressive in their implementation of fuel economy and emissions regulations.

By then, 82.8% of vehicles sold in Western Europe, 69.9% of vehicles sold in Asia Pacific, and 42.6% sold in North America will have the stop-start feature, Navigant projects.

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Airbus signs MoU with EGTS for electric taxiing solution for A320 family; projected fuel saving up to 4% per trip

December 18, 2013

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Using the aircraft’s Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) to power electric motors on its main landing gear, the “eTaxi” solution is projected to save fuel and reduce CO2 emissions during an A320 Family jetliner’s ground operations by up to 4% per trip. Click to enlarge.

As part of on-going research and development into future technology options, Airbus has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with EGTS International (Electric Green Taxiing System), a joint venture company between Safran and Honeywell Aerospace formed in 2011, further to develop and to evaluate an autonomous electric pushback and taxiing solution for the A320 Family. (Earlier post.)

The agreement marks the selection of EGTS International’s Electric Green Taxiing System to be evaluated as a new option on the A320 Family—referred to by Airbus as eTaxi. This option would allow the aircraft to push-back from the gate without a tug, taxi-out to the runway, and return to the gate after landing without operating the main engines.

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EPA trends report sees record levels of average new vehicle fuel economy and CO2 emissions for MY 2012; role of new gasoline vehicle technologies

December 13, 2013

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Manufacturer-specific technology adoption over time for key technologies. EPA projects advanced transmissions (6+ speeds and CVTs), gasoline direct injection (GDI) systems, and turbocharged engines will be installed on at least 15% of all MY 2013 vehicles. Click to enlarge.

Average new vehicle CO2 emissions rate and fuel economy in the US achieved record levels in MY 2012, and have improved in 7 of the last 8 years, according to the newly released Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 - 2013 (the annual “Trends” report) from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The majority of the emissions and fuel savings from current vehicles, EPA noted, is due to new gasoline vehicle technologies.

The final model year (MY) 2012 adjusted, real world CO2 emissions rate is 376 g/mi—a 22 g/mi decrease (-5.5%) relative to MY 2011. MY 2012 adjusted fuel economy is 23.6 mpg (9.97 l/100 km), which is 1.2 mpg higher (+5.4%) than MY 2011. Both values represent all-time records since the database began in MY 1975, and the authors of the report believe that these represent historical records as well. The 1.2 mpg fuel economy improvement from MY 2011 to MY 2012 is the second largest annual improvement in the last 30 years.

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Torotrak to acquire remaining 80% of Flybrid for up to £23M; targeting commercial launch of M-KERS in 2015

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Torotrak’s M-KERS unit. Click to enlarge.

Supercharger, kinetic energy recovery and transmission specialist Torotrak will acquire, pending shareholder approval, the remaining 80% of flywheel hybrid innovator Flybrid for up to £23.0 million (US$37.4 million), of which £15.0 million (US$24.4 million) is subject to performance targets. Torotrak had acquired 20% of its partner in March of this year. (Earlier post.)

Torotrak uses Flybrid’s flywheel module in its Mechanical Kinetic Energy Recovery System (M-KERS). M-KERS captures and stores energy that is otherwise lost during vehicle deceleration events. The integration of Flybrid and Torotrak provides a platform for a joint development and commercial launch of M-KERS, Torotrak said. The group intends to exploit what it sees as a market window from 2015 to 2020 in which new technologies are being demanded to achieve new EU CO2 targets applying to vehicle manufacturers’ overall fleets.

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Ford unveils Fusion Hybrid research vehicle for autonomous driving

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Ford Fusion Hybrid automated research vehicle with four LiDAR sensors. Click to enlarge.

Ford, in conjunction with the University of Michigan and State Farm, unveiled a Ford Fusion Hybrid automated research vehicle that will be used to make progress on future autonomous driving and other advanced technologies.

The result of an ongoing project that builds on more than a decade of Ford’s automated driving research, the Fusion Hybrid automated vehicle will test current and future sensing systems and driver-assist technologies. Ford’s goal is to advance development of new technologies with its supplier partners so these features can be applied to the company’s next generation of vehicles.

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Ford to make start-stop technology available on 70% of its N. America lineup by 2017

Auto Start-Stop technology will be available on 70% of Ford’s North American vehicle lineup by 2017, the company said. Ford Auto Start-Stop can increase fuel efficiency by up to 10% in city driving.

A major part of the company’s Blueprint for Sustainability, the expansion of Auto Start-Stop comes as the 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine (earlier post) is set to go on sale in the 2014 Ford Fiesta. Rated at 45 mpg EPA highway (5.2 l/100 km), the new Fiesta is the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid or diesel on the market. Ford is also researching dynamic cruise control, a technology that predicts road conditions to optimize fuel economy.

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New Audi R18 e-tron quattro LMP1 racer integrates two hybrid systems, kinetic and thermal

December 12, 2013

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Audi R18 e-tron quattro 2014. Click to enlarge.

Audi has released initial details on its new 2014-generation Audi R18 e-tron quattro LMP1 Le Mans prototype racer. Although the new diesel hybrid sports car appears like a continuous further development of the World Championship winning car and Le Mans winner of the past two years, due to the new LMP1 regulations that will come into effect in 2014, Audi Sport redeveloped every component.

In the new Technical Regulations, a large number of principal definitions, which concern the powertrain, body dimensions, safety and aerodynamics, were re-determined. With the new R18, Audi Sport has opted for a similar concept as in the past—albeit with new detailed solutions and an additional hybrid system. Powertrain elements include:

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Protean Electric and FAW-VW developing production-intent electric propulsion system with in-wheel motors

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Cutaway of the Protean Electric in-wheel motor. Click to enlarge.

In-wheel electric drive developer Protean Electric is partnering with FAW-Volkswagen Automotive Co., Ltd. (FAW-VW) in China to develop a new electric propulsion system that will include Protean Electric’s Protean Drive with intent towards a demonstration vehicle program and production.

FAW-VW will create a new rear-wheel drivetrain for an electric vehicle (EV) based on the new Bora compact sedan, utilizing two Protean in-wheel motors. This cooperation began several months ago; all bench testing, engineering calibration and on-site application support is expected to be completed within a year. Protean Electric will also assist FAW-VW in the development of safety and vehicle controls that can be applied to additional vehicle programs.

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New Bosch start-stop system with coasting mode can reduce fuel consumption by up to another 10%

December 11, 2013

Bosch has developed a new start-stop system with coasting mode; the system stops the engine when the vehicle is traveling at speed, helping to reduce fuel consumption by up to 10%. The function can be combined with any type of combustion engine.

First generation start-stop systems stop an engine only when the vehicle is completely stationary; enhanced versions of this start-stop system cut the engine as soon as the vehicle is coasting to a halt—e.g., at a red light. In contrast, as soon as the driver’s foot is off both the gas and the brake pedal, vehicles equipped with the new start-stop coasting function stop the engine while the vehicle is in motion. Because the engine is disengaged, the vehicle can coast for longer than it could with an overrun fuel cutoff system, for example.

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Honeywell and suppliers to invest ~$300M to boost production of HFO-1234yf low GWP MAC coolant

December 10, 2013

Honeywell and key suppliers will invest approximately $300 million to increase production capacity for HFO-1234yf, its low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerant for mobile air conditioning (MAC) systems in automobiles. (Earlier post.) GWP is a relative measure of how much heat a greenhouse gas traps in the atmosphere, with carbon dioxide setting the comparison with a GWP of 1. HFO-1234yf’s GWP is 99.9% lower than that of HFC-134a, the current refrigerant in use (GWP = 1,300).

Among these investments, Honeywell will construct a high-volume manufacturing plant using new process technology at the company’s existing Geismar, Louisiana, refrigerants manufacturing site, which is expected to be fully operational in 2016. The exact size of the plant will depend on supply agreements that Honeywell is putting in place with major customers.

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Panasonic develops high precision, wide field of view millimeter-wave radar technology for automotive applications

October 15, 2013

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The new high-precision radar keeps close objects separated. Click to enlarge.

Millimeter-wave radar is capable of detecting pedestrians and other vehicles in night time and under poor weather conditions. Panasonic Corporation has developed high precision, wide field of view millimeter-wave technologies that are able to detect cars, pedestrians and bicycles separately in less than 0.1 seconds, on the condition that they are separated by 20 cm.

These technologies will be applied to 79GHz radar, and utilized in detection sensors to avoid accidents occurring at intersections, accelerating the adoption of advanced safety support systems. These technologies also allow the operation of multiple millimeter radars, enables for a wider field of view (FOV) system.

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NREL review of E15 effects on MY2001 and later cars finds no meaningful differences with E10

October 13, 2013

A review of 43 studies of the effects of E15 (15% ethanol blends) on Model Year 2001 and newer cars by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that the studies reviewed showed no meaningful differences between E15 and E10 in any performance category.

The NREL study, commissioned by the Renewable Fuels Association, included 33 unique research studies, as well as 10 related reviews. The study does not address engines that EPA has not approved for use with E15, such as pre-2001 cars, marine, snowmobile, motorcycle, and small non-road engines.

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UC Irvine study finds organic constituents of UFP play important role in heart disease; suggestions for more effective emission control

October 12, 2013

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Particle scale. Inset: 4 polydisperse modes of traffic-related ambient particulate matter span approximately 4 orders of magnitude from below 1 nm to above 10 μm. Source: Kleinman presentation. Click to enlarge.

Results of a study funded and released by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) suggest that the organic constituents of ultrafine PM (UFP, particles ≤ 0.18 μm aerodynamic diameter) resulting from internal-combustion engine exhaust and from chemical reactions in the air play an important role in the progression of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the US. The findings thus suggest a direction for mor effective emission control measures—i.e., technology for the removal of the organic constituents as well as the reduction of the number of particles.

Led by Dr. Michael T. Kleinman of the University of California Irvine, the new study used a novel approach to determine whether or not the toxicity of UFP particles depends on the concentration and composition of semi-volatile and non-volatile fractions of the PM.

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NXP delivers first RoadLINK Car-to-X communications chip; in sampling with major automotive OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers

October 11, 2013

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NXP Semiconductors N.V. announced that the SAF5100, the first product from the RoadLINK range, is now available for automotive customer design-in. The SAF5100 is a flexible software-defined radio processor for car-to-car (C2C) and car-to-infrastructure (C2I) communication, helping to realize NXP’s vision for a complete C2X (C2C+C2I) solution.

Scheduled for mass production in the second half of 2014, the SAF5100 is also the first product to become generally available from the MK4 reference design for connected vehicles, following its unveiling in July by NXP and Cohda Wireless, a leading specialist in wireless communication for automotive safety applications. (Earlier post.)

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New thermoplastic-graphene nanoribbon composite could offer lighter, more effective natural gas storage for vehicles

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An electron microscope image shows graphene nanoribbons embedded in a block copolymer. Image by Changsheng Xiang. Click to enlarge.

A new composite material created at Rice University is nearly impervious to gas and may lead to lighter and more efficient storage of compressed natural gas for vehicles. By adding modified, single-atom-thick hexadecyl-functionalized low-defect graphene nanoribbons (HD-GNRs) to thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), the Rice lab of chemist James Tour made the resulting material far more impermeable to pressurized gas and far lighter than the metal in tanks now used to contain the gas.

In an open access paper in the journal ACS Nano, Tour and his colleagues at Rice and in Hungary, Slovenia and India reported that nitrogen gas effective diffusivity of the TPU was decreased by three orders of magnitude with only 0.5 wt% GNRs.

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SwRI to launch Automotive Consortium for Embedded Security (ACES)

September 26, 2013

As vehicles become increasingly dependent on computers to operate integrated systems, from engine timing to anti-lock brakes, it is crucial to safeguard those systems from outside threats. To investigate leading-edge technologies and understand and reduce the risk of attack, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) is forming the Automotive Consortium for Embedded Security (ACES).

The joint industry program aims to provide pre-competitive and non-competitive research in automotive embedded systems security to protect the safety, reliability, brand image, trade secrets and privacy of client members’ future products. It is open to original equipment manufacturers and affiliated businesses in the automotive industry.

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Ko-Fas project finds cooperative transponders and cooperative perception technology could bring significant road safety benefits

September 25, 2013

The 17 partners—including vehicle manufacturers BMW and Daimler; suppliers Continental and Delphi; and universities, institutes of applied science and research establishments—in Germany’s €25-million (US$34-million), 4-year Cooperative Vehicle Safety (Ko-FAS) research initiative presented the final results from the project last week in Aschaffenburg, Germany. The results showed that use of cooperative transponder technologies in combination with cooperative perception technologies could bring important benefits for road safety.

The aim of this project was to improve road safety significantly, with an attendant reduction in the number of road traffic accidents and fatalities. The approach centered on accurate detection of traffic environments using cooperative sensing and perception, comprehensive situation assessment to precisely evaluate collision risks, and subsequent activation of appropriate advance protection measures.

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New valveless electro-hydraulic steering system for off-road equipment shows significant fuel savings and productivity benefits

Researchers at Purdue University have developed a new valveless hydraulic steering system for heaving construction equipment that improves efficiency and reduces fuel consumption. The new approach eliminates valves now needed to direct the flow of hydraulic fluid in steering systems and uses advanced algorithms and models to control hydraulic pumps precisely. New designs might also incorporate textured “micro-structured” surfaces inside pumps to improve performance.

Testing the new “electro-hydraulic power steering system” on a front loader has shown a 15% fuel savings and 23% increased machine productivity, for a total fuel efficiency increase of 43% during steering maneuvers. The findings are detailed in a research paper being presented during the SAE 2013 Commercial Vehicle Engineering Congress (1-3 October). The paper was authored by doctoral student Naseem Daher and Monika Ivantysynova, Maha Fluid Power Systems Professor in Purdue’s School of Mechanical Engineering, and director of Purdue’s Maha Fluid Power Research Center.

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Chrysler Group files S-1 for IPO; snapshot of R&D priorities; exploring a light-duty hydraulic hybrid

September 24, 2013

Chrysler Group LLC has filed a registration statement on Form S-1 with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) relating to a proposed initial public offering of common shares. Details of the offering—i.e., number of shares and price range—are yet to be determined.

However, the document not only provides a detailed look at the finances of the company, it also provides a quick recap of recent technology developments and some insight into the company’s immediate research priorities. Chrysler writes that its has “made the development of more fuel-efficient vehicles a priority to meet retail consumer preferences, comply with future regulations and as part of our commitment to sustainability.

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NXP and TTTech partner on automotive Ethernet switch chip; infotainment, advanced driver assistance and OBD over single twisted-pair cable

September 19, 2013

NXP Semiconductors N.V. and TTTech signed a Memorandum of Understanding to develop jointly automotive Ethernet switch solutions supporting OPEN Alliance BroadR-Reach Ethernet PHY (physical layer transceiver) technology. The switch chip will be specifically designed for the automotive market, but will also be suitable for various demanding industrial real-time applications.

The jointly developed switch chip will enable applications with unshielded twisted-pair cabling with BroadR-Reach PHY technology. BroadR-Reach Ethernet automotive technology allows multiple in-vehicle systems (such as infotainment, automated driver assistance and on board-diagnostics) simultaneously to access information over a single unshielded twisted-pair cable. By eliminating cumbersome, shielded cabling, automotive manufacturers can significantly reduce connectivity costs and cabling weight.

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New hybrid plasma-catalyst aftertreatment system feasible for low-temperature combustion engines

September 17, 2013

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Schematic diagram of the plasma−catalyst reactor. Credit: ACS, Kang et al. Click to enlarge.

Researchers at the Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials (KIMM) have developed a new hybrid reactor for automotive exhaust aftertreatment that combines plasma and a honeycomb-structured monolith catalyst resulting in an enhanced synergistic effect of low-temperature catalytic activity.

As reported in a paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, the plasma−catalyst synergistic reaction is more effective at low temperatures; the hybrid reaction reduces the temperature required to achieve the same level of DRE (destruction and removal efficiency) for hydrocarbon (HC) pollutants when compared to the temperature of the reaction under the influence of the catalyst alone. As a result of their work, the authors suggest that the plasma−catalyst technology is feasible to control exhaust emissions from next-generation low-temperature combustion (LTC) diesel engines.

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USC researchers find car ventilation setting critical to in-cabin exposure to particulate pollutants; new model for aiding exposure assessments

September 15, 2013

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In-vehicle-to-outside (I/O) ratios for four pollutants under different ventilation settings. Credit: ACS, Hudda and Fruin (2013). Click to enlarge.

Researchers at USC have found that using recirculation rather than outside air ventilation in a car can effectively reduce in-cabin exposure to on-road particle pollution. In a study published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, they also report that in addition to the benefits of recirculation settings, exposures are lower in newer cars; at slower speeds; and on arterial roads, where pollutant concentrations are lower than on freeways.

Scott Fruin, assistant professor of preventive medicine, and Neelakshi Hudda, research associate in environmental health, both of the Keck School of Medicine of USC, performed a systematic study of in-vehicle exposure to include a full range of car types and operating conditions, as well as all types of particulate pollution. According to the researchers, concentrations of particle pollutants on freeways are often five to 10 times higher than elsewhere.

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Johnson Controls introducing first-generation 48V Micro Hybrid battery at Frankfurt show (fuel economy benefit corrected)

September 11, 2013

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The first-generation 48-volt Lithium-ion Micro Hybrid battery has the potential to enable up to 1% fuel savings in vehicles. Click to enlarge.

Johnson Controls unveiled its first-generation 48-volt Lithium-ion Micro Hybrid battery (earlier post) at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt, Germany. The company had shown demonstration modules earlier in the year at the Detroit Auto Show and the Hannover Messe.

Leveraging a dual voltage architecture, Johnson Controls’ Micro Hybrid battery system will involve a 12-volt lead-acid starter battery and a 48-volt Lithium-ion battery that enables optimization of energy generation and consumption. The Micro Hybrid technology has the potential to provide up to 15% fuel savings in vehicles and is available for testing with key automotive customers this December.

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PNNL team finds correlation between reaction mechanism for zeolite SCR catalyst for NOx aftertreatment and bacterial enzyme catalysis

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Computer model of Cu-SSZ-13 shows nitric oxide (ball-and-stick) interacting with a positively charged copper ion (copper ball) at an unexpected angle (red dotted lines). Photo courtesy of Kwak et al. Click to enlarge.

A team of researchers in the Institute for Integrated Catalysis at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory led by chemist János Szanyi has proposed a reaction mechanism for a highly active zeolite catalyst (Cu-SSZ-13) used in selective catalytic reduction (SCR) NOx aftertreatment systems for diesel emissions. A paper on their work is published in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

Although the catalyst is in use, exactly how it converts NOx to nitrogen and water with the help of ammonia (urea) hasn’t been entirely clear. The new research finds that the catalyst works much the same way that similar bacterial enzymes do: by coming at the target from the side rather than head on. The finding provides insight into how to make better catalytic converters.

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Mercedes-Benz S-Class INTELLIGENT DRIVE drives autonomously over 100km interurban and urban route with near-production technology

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Networked sensor systems of the S 500 INTELLIGENT DRIVE research vehicle. Click to enlarge.

Mercedes-Benz has demonstrated the feasibility of autonomous driving on both interurban and urban routes with its S 500 INTELLIGENT DRIVE research vehicle. The company set the vehicle to cover a 100 km (62-mile) route from Mannheim to Pforzheim—retracing that taken by motoring pioneer Bertha Benz exactly 125 years ago when she set off on the first long-distance drive.

The self-driving S-Class had to deal autonomously with a number of highly complex situations such as traffic lights, roundabouts, pedestrians, cyclists and trams. The successful drive was achieved with the aid of near-production-standard technology, very similar to that already found in the new E and S-Class. The project thus marks a milestone along the way that leads from the self-propelled (automobile) to the self-driving (autonomous) vehicle, the company said.

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Continental presents new “48 Volt Eco Drive” system; orders received and production begins in 2016

September 10, 2013

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Components of the 48 Volt Eco Drive system and the demonstrator. Click to enlarge.

Continental presented its new “48 Volt Eco Drive” system at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The new system supplements the traditional 12V electrical network with a 48V electrical system and components, bridging the gap between low-end hybridization based on present-day 12V start/stop systems and more sophisticated high-voltage hybrid solutions.

Installed in a demonstrator vehicle, the 48 Volt Eco Drive system offers NEDC fuel savings of around 13%. First orders have been received, and production will begin in 2016, according to José Avila, Head of the Powertrain Division and Member of the Continental Executive Board.

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Opel Monza Concept at Frankfurt features CNG extended range electric vehicle powertrain with new 1.0L 3-cylinder engine

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Monza Concept. Click to enlarge.

Opel intends that its Monza Concept (earlier post), unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show, serve as a role-model for next-generation Opel cars, with particular emphasis on design, maximum connectivity, and optimum efficiency, including advanced powertrain flexibility.

The Monza Concept is based on a modular design to allow highest-possible flexibility when selecting a propulsion system. A variety of sustainable powertrains based on increasing electrification of the automobile are conceivable, Opel noted. For the Monza Concept displayed at the Frankfurt show, engineers conceived an electric drive with a CNG (compressed natural gas) range extender—a further development of the Ampera’s technology.

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Jaguar announces new advanced aluminium monocoque architecture; C-X17 concept

September 09, 2013

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The C-X17 concept is the first revealed implementation of the new iQ[Al] architecture. Click to enlarge.

Along with the unveiling of its C-X17 concept car on the eve of the Frankfurt Motor Show, Jaguar announced a new advanced aluminium monocoque architecture. The C-X17 concept sports crossover is a study to demonstrate the capabilities of this new architecture.

Codenamed iQ[Al], the architecture will form the basis for a new range of future Jaguars, the company said; the first product will be a mid-size premium C/D segment sedan on sale in 2015. This will be the first aluminium monocoque product in the segment. Using the new architecture, Jaguar expects to deliver vehicles with class-leading performance, including top speeds of more than 300 km/h (186 mph), and emissions lower than 100g of CO2 per km.

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GKN Driveline on-demand all-wheel drive system contributes to improved fuel consumption in 2014 Range Rover Evoque

September 05, 2013

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2014 Range Rover Evoque. Click to enlarge.

In August, Land Rover introduced the 2014 Range Rover Evoque, equipped with several new technologies which, combined, can lower fuel consumption by up to 11.4% and reduce CO2 emissions by up to 9.5%. In addition to the new 9-speed transmission (earlier post), the new Evoque offers as an option an Active Driveline—an on-demand four-wheel drive system which operates in front-wheel drive only during steady-state driving at speeds above 22 mph (35 km/h).

A GKN Driveline all-wheel drive system is basis for the the Active Driveline disconnect all-wheel drive system.

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DOE awards $45M to 38 advanced transportation technology projects; $3M from the Army

September 04, 2013

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award more than $45 million to 38 new projects that accelerate the research and development of advanced vehicle technologies. Through the Advanced Vehicle Power Technology Alliance between the Energy Department and the Department of the Army, the Army is contributing an additional $3 million in co-funding to support projects focused on lightweighting and propulsion materials, batteries, fuels, and lubricants.

The 38 projects span five major areas: advanced lightweighting and propulsion materials; advanced batteries; power electronics; fuels and lubricants; and efficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.

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ADEPT project to apply gasoline engine HyBoost system to diesel; 48V architecture; full hybrid fuel economy at much lower cost

The developers of the successful gasoline-engine HyBoost project (earlier post)—Ricardo, Ford Motor Company, Control Power Technologies (CPT) and the European Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium (EALABC)—will be joined by Faurecia Emissions Control Technologies UK Ltd and University of Nottingham to apply the intelligent electrification concept for the first time to a diesel vehicle (a Ford Focus).

The Ricardo-led Advanced Diesel Electric Powertrain (ADEPT) project will apply 48V “intelligent electrification” concepts, mild hybridization and waste heat recovery in a Ford Focus diesel demonstrator. The project aims to deliver full hybrid equivalent fuel economy and performance with less than 70 g/km CO2 emissions as measured over the European Drive Cycle, but at a significantly lower cost.

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Ricardo advancing with two novel heavy-duty vehicle technologies: cryogenic split-cycle engine and microwave fuel reforming

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The concept of the Ricardo Split-Cycle engine. The recuperated engine uses isothermal compression via cryogenic injection to enable significant exhaust to compressed gas heat transfer. Source: Neville Jackson. Click to enlarge.

Ricardo is advancing its work with two novel technologies to improve the efficiency of heavy-duty goods vehicles: a cryogenic split-cycle engine “CryoPower” (earlier post), and a low-carbon waste-heat powered microwave fuel reformer “HeatWave II”.

Heavy duty vehicles, such as long haul trucks, represent a significant challenge in terms of the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. An essential element of the transportation mix of modern industrialized society, they are inherently less amenable to the type of electrification and hybridization strategies that are already contributing to reduced carbon emissions and potential long-term sustainability for the light vehicle sector.

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Integral Technologies and BASF jointly to explore North American market for automotive applications of Electriplast conductive thermoplastics

August 28, 2013

Integral Technologies, Inc. and wholly owned subsidiary ElectriPlast Corp. (earlier post) signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with BASF Corporation jointly to explore the North American market for ElectriPlast’s conductive thermoplastics.

BASF and ElectriPlast will jointly explore the potential to utilize ElectriPlast materials as a lightweight solution for applications requiring electrical shielding, while reducing weight to help meet CAFE requirements initially targeting a broad array of automotive applications. ElectriPlast is non-corrosive and weather-resistant.

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Continental develops its first air suspension system for EVs

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The air suspension system. Click to enlarge.

Continental has developed its first air suspension system for an all-electric vehicle. Following a shortened development phase, the first series delivery of the air suspension system started in spring 2012 to a manufacturer of electric vehicles. Continental’s experience of air suspension systems goes back more than 30 years; its chassis technology has been installed in luxury and other high-end vehicles as well as in minivans, pick-ups and vans.

The vehicle is the first purely electric vehicle to be equipped with a Continental air suspension.

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ZF and start-up Levant Power partnering on first fully active, regenerative suspension for automobiles

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The first fully active and regenerative suspension is based on a pioneering electrohydraulic functional unit fitted to the exterior of the damper. Photo: ZF. Click to enlarge.

ZF Friedrichshafen AG has entered into a partnership with Levant Power Corp. to build the first fully active suspension system with energy recovery function. GenShock technology is a fully active system for passenger cars which combines dynamics, safety and comfort characteristics with minimum energy consumption.

Levant Power Corp., founded in 2009 out of MIT (earlier post), is an emerging technology company headquartered working to develop the first fully active, regenerative suspension for the automotive, trucking, mass transit, and defense industries. The company holds several patents focused primarily on vehicle dynamics, and is the originator of GenShock and Activalve technology.

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Bosch eClutch enables stop-and-go driving with manual transmission without driver engaging clutch

August 12, 2013

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This electronically controlled eClutch closes the gap between automatic and manual transmissions. In addition, the eClutch makes the coasting function possible, which saves fuel. Click to enlarge.

Bosch’s electronically controlled eClutch allows drivers of cars with a manual transmission to use first gear in stop-and-go traffic without engaging the clutch. If the powertrain is electrified, the electronically controlled clutch means that a combination of hybrid powertrain and manual transmission is now possible.

Up to now, it has only been possible to combine a hybrid powertrain with an automatic transmission, since it is not possible to coordinate a combustion engine and an electrical powertrain using a merely manual transmission. In this respect, the eClutch offers two advantages, Bosch says: (1) a manual transmission is possible in hybrid vehicles, and (2) the price of entry-level hybrids can be reduced, since a fully automatic transmission is no longer necessary.

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