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[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

GKN launches new e-axle all-wheel drive technology on global C-segment vehicle platform with BMW

May 24, 2016

GKN is launching electric all-wheel drive technology on a global vehicle platform. A series of new C-Segment vehicles will offer the option of adding plug-in electric all-wheel drive using GKN Driveline’s latest electric axle drive (eAxle) technology.

GKN has secured orders for a major global platform and production is now underway at the company’s eDrive production facility in Bruneck, Italy. The first application is the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer PHEV. (Earlier post.)

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Stanford team develops nanofiber air filters for efficient high-temperature removal of PM2.5

May 16, 2016

A team at Stanford has developed high-efficiency (>99.5%) polyimide-nanofiber air filters for the removal of PM2.5 from exhaust streams. In a paper published in the ACS journal Nano Letters, the researchers report that the new polyimide nanofibers exhibit high thermal stability. The PM2.5 removal efficiency was kept unchanged when temperature ranged from 25–370 °C.

The filters feature high air flux with very low pressure drop. A field-test showed that the new nanofibers could effectively remove >99.5% PM particles from car exhaust at high temperature. Some versions of the filters removed PM2.5 with efficiency higher than 99.98%—the standard of HEPA filters defined as filters with filtration efficiency >99.97% for 0.3 μm airborne particles.

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Project FEVER to develop 48V through-the-road hybrid vehicle technology; SRM-based e-axle

May 09, 2016

Controlled Power Technologies, a developer of vehicle driveline electrification based on state-of-the-art switched-reluctance machines (SRMs), has partnered with Ricardo, Tata Motors European Technical Centre (TMETC) and Provector to develop a 48V through-the-road hybrid vehicle system and demonstrate it in a B-segment city car.

The Forty-Eight Volt Electrified Rear-axle (FEVER) project will apply CPT’s SpeedTorq technology to an ultra-lightweight rear axle module to significantly improve the fuel economy of the target car. The objective of the two-year project is to achieve a CO2 reduction of up to 15% over the regulatory cycle while offering significant savings (around $1,400) in manufacturing cost compared to a full HEV.

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Ford invests $182.2 million in cloud-based software development company Pivotal

May 05, 2016

Ford is investing $182.2 million in Pivotal, a cloud-based software platform company with which it already has partnered (earlier post) on FordPass (earlier post), to further enhance its software development capabilities. The investment was part of Pivotal’s $253-million Series C financing round; the round was led by new investor Ford, in conjunction with Microsoft and all previous investors GE, EMC and VMware. The deal is expected to close in May 2016, subject to customary conditions, including receipt of required regulatory approval.

Ford intends for the $182.2-million investment in Pivotal to help drive Ford’s transition to both an auto and a mobility company.

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Qoros and FreeValve partner on camless technology; new Qoros concept uses FreeValve PHEA

April 29, 2016

At Auto China in Beijing, Qoros Auto unveiled a concept car showcasing a new Qoros “Qamfree” engine featuring FreeValve’s Pneumatic-Hydraulic-Electric-Actuator (PHEA) technology. FreeValve and Qoros also announced a partnership for the continued development of the camless technology. FreeValve AB is a sister company to Koenigsegg Automotive.

FreeValve’s PHEA technology replaces the conventional camshaft and associated hardware, and allows the engine management system to have full control over each valve. Where camshaft technology has been limited to the relationship between the valves and the camshaft position, FreeValve’s fully variable valve actuation allows independent control over every valve’s precise opening/closing position and timing throughout the whole combustion cycle.

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Ricardo Software to partner with Modelon to expand IGNITE simulation package capabilities

April 26, 2016

Ricardo Software will partner with Modelon to expand Ricardo’s IGNITE product capabilities. IGNITE is a physics-based system simulation package operating in Modelica (earlier post) focused on complete vehicle system modeling and simulation. With comprehensive powertrain and thermofluid component libraries, users can quickly and accurately model conventional to highly complex vehicle system models, hybrid-electric, full electric and novel vehicles.

In the upcoming 2016 product release, planned for May, IGNITE users will have instant access to Modelon’s advanced OPTIMICA Compiler Toolkit, a Modelica and Functional Mock-up Interface (FMI) based computational platform for system design.

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Tula Technology reports up to 18% fuel economy gain in GM 6.2L V8 using Dynamic Skip Fire technology; emissions benefits too

April 25, 2016

In a paper presented at the 2016 SAE World Congress, Tula Technology, developer of Dynamic Skip Fire (DSF) cylinder deactivation technology, reported significant fuel economy gains of up to 18% over a conventional GM 6.2-liter V8 by operating using Dynamic Skip Fire. DSF—a software-enabled powertrain technology that integrates advanced digital signal processing with advanced powertrain controls—reduces the pumping losses while improving the combustion stability in spark ignition engines.

GM has been working closely with Tula Technology; in 2012, GM Ventures made an equity investment in Tula. (Earlier post.) In 2015, Delphi also took a stake in the Silicon Valley-based company. (Earlier post.)

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Continental showcases car tires and engine mounts with rubber made from dandelion roots; targeting series production in 5-10 years

Continental has developed and tested car tires and engine mounts with rubber made from dandelion roots. In 2014, Continental brought onto the road the first sample of a premium winter tire featuring tread made from dandelion rubber. (Earlier post.) At the end of 2015, ContiTech tested the new renewable resource, named TARAXAGUM, in engine mounts. The company is striving for series production in five to ten years.

Continental says that the plant has the potential to become an alternative, environmentally friendly resource and could further reduce dependency on traditionally produced natural rubber. Not only this, but because it grows under moderate climatic conditions, it can also generate savings in CO2 emissions and transport costs.

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AVnu Alliance members showcase the first multivendor interoperability demonstration of the AVnu AVB Automotive Profile

April 20, 2016

Members of AVnu Alliance, the industry consortium driving open, standards-based deterministic networking (earlier post), publicly demonstrated interoperability of systems designed to meet the AVnu Automotive Profile at the Automotive Ethernet Congress held in Munich, Germany earlier this year.

The demo featured products and solutions from several AVnu Alliance members: Ixia, a provider of network testing, visibility, and security solutions; Marvell Technology Group, a provider of complete silicon solutions; and NXP Semiconductors, a provider of secure connectivity solutions for embedded applications.

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GKN supplying eAxle to plug-in hybrid Volvo S90

April 18, 2016

GKN Driveline, which works as a development partner on all-wheel drive and plug-in hybrid systems for Volvo Cars, is producing an eAxle system for the new Volvo S90 plug-in hybrid. (Earlier post.) The eAxle system fits in the same space as a standard rear drive module, enabling Volvo Cars to offer customers a plug-in hybrid as a simple, high-performance upgrade.

GKN’s eAxle takes power from a 65 kW, 240 N·m electric machine with a nominal maximum input speed of 13,000 rpm and, via a two-stage single speed gearbox with a ratio of 10:1, delivers a nominal output torque of 2400 N·m.

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New Buick LaCrosse upgrades computing power from 17 to 31 ECUs; new electronic control system

March 16, 2016

The all-new Buick LaCrosse, which launches this week in China, features significant upgrades in computing power and networking to advance connectivity and safety features.

There are 31 ECUs distributed in the all-new Buick LaCrosse—its predecessor utilized only 17. This 82% increase in the number of ECUs helps to optimize calculating efficiency. In order to facilitate the handling of large quantities of data, a specific data bus is arranged to connect ECUs, each of which can process data independently.

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IEEE approves 802.3bw Ethernet; 100 Mb/s over single twisted-pair driven by needs of automotive industry

March 15, 2016

IEEE announced the approval of IEEE 802.3bw, IEEE Standard for Ethernet Amendment: Physical Layer Specifications and Management Parameters for 100 Mb/s Operation over a Single Balanced Twisted Pair Cable (100BASE-T1). The standard is driven primarily by the needs of the global automotive industry and illustrates Ethernet’s expansion into new application areas.

Mainstream adoption of emerging in-car applications such as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and infotainment has created the need for cost-effective, high-bandwidth connectivity. The first of several Ethernet standards especially tuned to the needs of the in-car automotive market, IEEE 802.3bw-2015 100BASE-T1 will provide 100 Mb/s Ethernet over a single twisted-pair. It is intended to enable the consolidation of these new, as well as legacy, in-car applications on a homogenous network architecture.

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New lineup of Intelligent Power Devices from Renesas contribute to reduced vehicle weight; high-current load switch applications

Renesas Electronics announced the availability of six new intelligent power devices (IPDs) for automotive motor and heater control applications. The devices provide an extremely reliable, high-performance solution compared with mechanical relays that switch the current flow on and off in electronic control units (ECUs).

An IPD is a power IC device that integrates in a single package control circuits that implement protection functions and self-diagnostic functions, in addition to power MOSFET (metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor) switching element(s). The IPDs are compact, lightweight, power efficient, and not subject to the contact wear and tear that affects mechanical relays, enabling highly reliable systems with self-protection functions.

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GKN Driveline introducing eAxle for mass-market C-segment vehicles

March 14, 2016

GKN Driveline has developed an eAxle module—derived from the technology used in cars such as the Porsche 918 Spyder and BMW i8—that will enable C-segment vehicles to offer buyers a plug-in hybrid option with improved performance and a reduction in CO2 emissions of more than 50%.

The new eAxle is an evolution of the system GKN designed for the Porsche 918 Spyder. The single-speed design minimizes weight to just 20.9 kg (46 lbs) while optimizing efficiency, installation space and costs for mass-market vehicle applications. A two-staged geartrain with a gear ratio of 12.5 provides up to 2000 N·m torque and 65 kW power for a dynamic pure-electric mode and balanced wheel torques for all-wheel drive mode.

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Audi SQ7 features new V8 TDI, 48V system, electric compressor

March 03, 2016

Audi is introducing a diesel-engined S model to its Q7 model line. The newly developed 4.0-liter V8 diesel delivers 320 kW (435 hp) and 900 N·m (663.8 lb-ft), with estimated NEDC fuel consumption of 7.4 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers (31.8 mpg US), corresponding to CO2 emissions of 194 grams per kilometer (312.2 g/mi). The SQ7 accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 4.8 seconds; top speed is 250 km/h (155.3 mph) (governed).

Among its features are an electric compressor with a supporting 48V subsytem that augments the work of the two turbochargers. Audi engineers will present a paper on the new V8 TDI at the upcoming Vienna Motor Symposium in April.

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UTRC and ANGP unveil first low-pressure conformable natural gas tank design

March 02, 2016

Adsorbed Natural Gas Products, Inc. (ANGP), a pioneer in the commercialization of adsorbed natural gas (ANG) vehicle technology, and United Technologies Research Center (UTRC), the innovation engine of United Technologies Corp., unveiled a full-scale mockup of UTRC’s conformable fuel tank for ANG vehicles. (Earlier post.)

UTRC and ANGP held the unveiling at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) Energy Innovation Summit.

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Pierburg GmbH electric compressor for turbos

February 24, 2016

Pierburg GmbH, part of the KSPG Group, has developed an electric compressor for spontaneously boosting the charge pressure of engines fitted with an exhaust-gas turbocharger. This component allows pressure to be increased regardless of the exhaust-gas energy availability.

The compressor is compatible with both gasoline and diesel engines. Initial prototypes are now being tested by various customers. The electric compressor fits in well and without any constraints with the proven strategy of downsizing, the company said.

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HRL laboratories team achieves breakthrough in dynamically variable negative stiffness structures

February 22, 2016

Researchers in the HRL Laboratories Sensors and Materials Laboratory have developed an active variable stiffness vibration isolator capable of 100x stiffness changes and millisecond actuation times, independent of the static load. According to Principal Investigator Christopher Churchill, “This performance surpasses existing mechanisms by at least 20 times in either speed or useful stiffness change.”

This isolator has broad applications for makers of automobiles, aircraft, watercraft, rotorcraft, and robotics. An open-access paper on their work is published in the journal Science Advances.

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Audi introducing quattro ultra: predictive, permanently available all-wheel drive for improved efficiency

February 20, 2016

For more than 30 years, Audi quattro has been a permanent all-wheel drive system. (Earlier post.) In 2015, more than 40% of all Audi customers chose a quattro model; the Audi Q5 topped the list with more than 260,000 units.

Audi is now introducing a new “quattro ultra” technology that combines driving dynamics and safety with high efficiency. With quattro ultra, the all-wheel drive is always deactivated when it is not needed, but remains permanently available, significantly reducing the potential fuel consumption difference between front-wheel drive and permanent all-wheel drive. The system is designed for numerous Audi models with longitudinally mounted front engines. An initial variant will debut in the new Audi A4 allroad quattro in mid-2016.

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Automakers testing new GKN electric torque vectoring technology; “eTwinster”

February 18, 2016

Automakers are test-driving a new torque-vectoring electric drive system by GKN Automotive. The “eTwinster” technology is part of a range of new hybrid electric technologies GKN is showcasing to customers at its Wintertest proving ground in Arjeplog, Northern Sweden.

The eTwinster is a plug-in hybrid module that makes it simpler for vehicle platforms to offer electric all-wheel drive and torque vectoring. The driveline combines eAxle technologies proven in the Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine, Porsche 918 Spyder and BMW i8 plug-in hybrids and the twin-clutch torque vectoring technology that features in the Ford Focus RS and Range Rover Evoque.

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CPT invests £1M to industrialize switched-reluctance 48V mild hybrid technology; new durability test cells

February 16, 2016

UK-based Controlled Power Technologies, a developer of vehicle driveline electrification technology, has invested £1 million (US$1.4 million) to further industrialize its CO2 and NOx reduction capabilities for the global automotive and transport industries.

CPT specializes in the safe low-voltage application of switched-reluctance machines (SRMs) to a vehicle powertrain and driveline, providing intelligent electrification of the propulsion system with near full hybrid vehicle capability. (Earlier post.) The £1-million spend will support seven projects at the company’s new technical center in Coventry and at its headquarters in Laindon. A significant proportion of the funding targets product and manufacturing process maturity by capital expenditure in new durability test cells at Laindon and a low volume manufacturing facility in Coventry.

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€3.4M OmniSteer project seeks to increase urban maneuverability with highly-integrated lateral and transverse guidance systems for EVs

February 05, 2016

Automobile maneuverability is limited by cramped inner city conditions. Those who need to park their vehicles frequently—such as delivery services and mobile care providers—lose a lot of working time searching for and then getting into parking spaces. New chassis types with wheels that can be steered individually and electric drives make it possible to increase maneuverability and therefore efficiency, particularly in flowing urban traffic.

The OmniSteer project, which is funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research, is aimed at researching suitable concepts and prototypes by 2018 and has a budget of €3.4 million (US$3.8 million).

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ANGP gets exclusive license to UTRC technology for conformable natural gas vehicle storage tanks

February 04, 2016

Adsorbed Natural Gas Products (ANGP) announced an exclusive licensing agreement with United Technologies Research Center (UTRC) allowing ANGP to use UTRC’s patent-pending technology—developed with support from DOE’s ARPA-E (earlier post)—to develop and produce the first commercially viable conformable adsorbent-based low pressure natural gas (ANG) storage tank for motor vehicles.

The license applies to non-metal composite tanks containing activated carbon adsorbents at operating pressures of up to 1,000 psi.

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Pitt study reveals heat transfer mechanisms in MOF-based adsorbed natural gas storage; advancing the technology

January 22, 2016

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering are working with metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) to develop a new type of natural gas storage system that would adsorb the gas like a sponge and allow for more energy-efficient storage and use. In the journal Physical Review Letters, the team reports on their study of heat transfer mechanisms in such systems, work that may advance the technology.

Traditional CNG tanks are empty structures that require the gas to be stored at high pressure, which affects design and the weight of the vehicle. Dr. Christopher Wilmer and his lab are instead focused on porous crystal/gas systems, specifically MOFs, which possess structures with extremely high surface areas. However, Dr. Wilmer notes, one of the biggest challenges in developing such an adsorbed natural gas (ANG) storage system is that the process generates significant heat which limits how quickly the tank can be filled.

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PSA Peugeot Citroën: tests confirm environmental performance of BlueHDi SCR technology for diesel NOx control

January 15, 2016

PSA Peugeot Citroën announced that the initial results obtained by the Peugeot 208 and Peugeot 508 in tests organized by the technical committee led by the French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy comply with regulations and are aligned with homologated data.

The company said that the results confirm the effectiveness of its BlueHDi after-treatment system, in which selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology is positioned upstream of the particulate filter to eliminate up to 90% of the nitrogen NOx released by diesel engines, bringing NOx emissions down to levels near those of gasoline engines. At the same time, diesel engines maintain their advantage of 15% lower CO2 emissions and 20% greater fuel efficiency.

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Ricardo white paper outlines needed developments to realize autonomous driving

January 14, 2016

Engineering firm Ricardo has published a white paper—Key Enablers for the Fully Autonomous Vehicle—highlighting the technologies and development processes that are needed to develop commercially feasible self-driving cars that meet consumer expectations while also achieving compliance with likely future transport regulations.

According to the Boston Consulting Group, the projected size of the global autonomous vehicle market in 2025 will be $36 billion for partially autonomous vehicles (levels 1–3) and $6 billion for fully autonomous vehicles (level 4). This includes both passenger and commercial vehicle uses. The realization of fully autonomous vehicles will require further evolution in software, sensors, integration and efficient system testing beyond what is in place for current advanced driver assistance systems.

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Visteon to launch ECU-consolidating cockpit domain controller with European automaker in 2018

January 08, 2016

Addressing the proliferation of electronic control units (ECUs) in vehicles, Visteon Corporation is preparing to launch an industry-first, automotive-grade cockpit domain controller with a European automaker on a global vehicle program in 2018.

SmartCore combines previously separate instrument clusters, head-up displays (HUD) and advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) domains on a one-chip, multi-domain controller that can be accessed through an integrated, easy-to-use human machine interaction (HMI). Visteon displayed the SmartCore connected domain controller at CES 2016.

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Toshiba introduces new automotive Ethernet-AVB bridge; working with Qualcomm on advanced connected car systems

AT CES 2016, Toshiba America Electronic Components, Inc. (TAEC) introduced an automotive-grade Ethernet bridge solution for in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) and other automotive applications. The TC9560XBG supports standards such as IEEE 802.1AS and IEEE 802.1Qav, generally referred to as Ethernet-AVB (Audio Video Bridging). The Ethernet-AVB standard enables stable, reliable multimedia transmissions, making it suitable for IVI and telematics. (Earlier post.)

TAEC also announced it is working with Qualcomm Technologies to bring to the automotive market advanced connected car platforms powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 820A and Snapdragon 602A processors, and telematics solutions powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon X12 LTE modem. (Earlier post.)

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Audi to use Gen 2 zFAS controller in production e-tron quattro; piloted driving; moving to domain-controlled architecture

January 07, 2016

The production version of Audi’s e-tron quattro battery-electric SUV (earlier post) will be equipped with the second-generation of Audi’s central driver assistance controller the zFAS (earlier post), according to Ricky Hudi, Executive Vice President Electronic Development, Audi AG. The vehicle will be capable of driving fully autonomously, he said at CES 2016.

zFAS is the domain controller for Audi piloted driving systems. The information supplied by all sensors—including the signals from the 3D cameras, the laser scanner and the radar and ultrasonic sensors—is permanently fed into and processed by this module. With its tremendous computing power, the zFAS will be capable of continuously comparing the data from the vehicle sensor systems with the model of the road space and its surroundings.

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Volkswagen unveils BUDD-e electric van concept at CES; first VW based on new Modular Electric Toolkit (MEB)

January 06, 2016

At CES 2016, Volkswagen unveiled the battery-electric BUDD-e van. Equipped with a 101 kWh battery pack supporting a range of up to 373 miles (600 km) on the NEDC, the BUDD-e concept is the first vehicle based on Volkswagen’s new Modular Electric Platform (MEB) designed specifically for plug-in vehicles. BUDD-e exemplifies what Volkswagen considers as potentially representative of electric mobility offerings in the 2019 timeframe.

With the BUDD-e, Volkswagen has also developed a vehicle that is more thoroughly connected with its surroundings than any car before it. An integral automotive component in the Internet of Things (IoT), BUDD-e is capable of seamlessly communicating with the smart home or office.

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ARPA-E issues RFI on energy efficiency optimization for connected and automated vehicles; vehicle dynamic and powertrain control

January 05, 2016

The Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) has issued a request for information (DE-FOA-0001473) seeking input from researchers and developers in a broad range of disciplines including automotive vehicle control, powertrain control and transportation analytics regarding the development of advanced energy efficiency optimization technologies for future connected and automated vehicles (CAVs).

ARPA-E is interested in new and emerging full vehicle and powertrain control technologies that can reduce the energy use associated with automotive transportation, beyond those technologies currently expected to be deployed in future vehicles. The focus of the RFI is on the potential improvement in the energy efficiency of each individual vehicle in the automotive fleet through the improvement of powertrain control and vehicle dynamic control, by utilizing emerging technologies and strategies in sensing, communications, information, control and automation.

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Ford, Mazda, Mitsubishi Motors & Subaru Join Linux Foundation and Automotive Grade Linux; new unified code base distribution

January 04, 2016

Automotive Grade Linux (AGL), a collaborative open source project developing a common, Linux-based software stack for the connected car, announced that Subaru (Fuji Heavy Industries, Ltd.), Mitsubishi Motors, Mazda Motor Corporation and Ford Motor Company are joining The Linux Foundation and AGL. Ford Motor Company is the first US car manufacturer to join AGL. These latest automakers join existing members Toyota Motor Corporation, Nissan Motor Company Ltd. and Linux Foundation board member Jaguar Land Rover.

AGL also announced a new Unified Code Base (UCB) distribution built specifically for the automotive industry. This new Linux distribution was built from the ground-up to address automotive-specific applications and leverages the best software components from AGL and other existing open source projects such as Tizen and GENIVI Alliance.

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Visteon showcasing advanced gesture recognition and HUD technologies at CES

January 02, 2016

Visteon will display two vehicles featuring advanced concepts at CES 2016 this coming week in Las Vegas: one with 3-D gesture technology and the other with a large field-of-vision windshield head-up-display (HUD). A separate driving simulator brings together the latest Visteon human-machine interaction (HMI) input technologies for an interactive experience using real-world driving scenarios.

The proprietary 3-D gesture recognition concept is demonstrated within a compact multi-purpose vehicle. The system quickly reads defined hand movements to command certain features, using time-of-flight camera technology and high-performance, image-processing algorithms.

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IHS: connectivity, infotainment, safety to drive growth in automotive display systems to $18.6B by 2021; > 11% CAGR

December 30, 2015

Driven by continued innovation in vehicle connectivity and safety technologies, global revenue from automotive display systems will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 11% to $18.6 billion by the end of 2021, according to a new forecast by IHS Inc. This will add nearly $9 billion in annual revenue compared to 2015.

Data from the Automotive Display Systems Forecasts from IHS represents production of instrument cluster systems, head-up display systems and center stack display systems as full automotive modules, not just display panels. Center stack display systems are expected to account for half of the overall revenue growth, while head-up display (HUD) systems will deliver the strongest revenue CAGR at nearly 21% from 2015.

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Ford to begin autonomous vehicle testing on California roads; Silicon Valley Lab accelerates Smart Mobility Plan

December 16, 2015

Fully autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrid sedans will begin testing on California streets next year, as Ford Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto continues growing.

Ford is officially enrolled in the California Autonomous Vehicle Tester Program to test autonomous vehicles on public roads. The testing is further advancement of Ford’s 10-year autonomous vehicle development program and a key element of Ford Smart Mobility, the plan to take the company to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience, and data and analytics.

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Continental to demonstrate dynamic eHorizon technology during CES; Connected Energy Management and Blind Curve Warning

Continental will demonstrate its latest generation of eHorizon technology during CES next month in Las Vegas. Continental will show with two use cases based on dynamic eHorizon technology—Connected Energy Management and Blind Curve Warning—how data from the cloud can predict the road ahead, ultimately reducing fuel consumption and making vehicles safer. Both demonstrations will be conducted on public roads in Las Vegas.

Continental has already shown that the static eHorizon—introduced commercially in 2012—which uses certain data from a static map stored in the vehicle, enables a significant reduction of fuel consumption (around 3% on average). As a result of this success, Continental has taken the development of eHorizon even further by using the cloud and crowd intelligence to enhance the digital map in the dynamic eHorizon Backend with fresh and accurate information.

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Torotrak introduces new technologies to enhance V-Charge variable supercharger

December 14, 2015

Torotrak Group presented new technologies for low-cost, high efficiency drive systems at the Berlin CTI symposium and exposition. These developments will allow Torotrak’s V-Charge variable supercharging technology (earlier post) to compete with the latest boosting solutions coming to market, but without their integration challenges.

In a technical paper titled, “Low-cost developments in full-toroidal variator technology”, Chris Gaskell, one of the design engineers responsible for new concepts and intellectual property for the Torotrak Group, introduced and described two new proprietary technologies, called PitchSteer and DriveDisconnect.

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Volkswagen AG provides details on investigations into NOx cheating; origin and fixes; new strategic direction

December 10, 2015

At a press conference in Germany today, Volkswagen Group executives provided details on the status of its investigation—which is being coordinated by a special committee of the Supervisory Board—into the diesel emissions debacle. (Earlier post.)

Approximately 450 internal and external experts are involved in the investigations, which are being conducted in two phases. An internal review, being conducted by a task force of experts from various Group companies with a clearly defined mandate and a deadline, is focused on the mandate to Group Audit by the Supervisory Board and the Management Board to investigate relevant processes, reporting and monitoring systems, and the associated infrastructure.

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Westport and GTI awarded $900,000 to advance natural gas combustion technology; ESI with high frequency corona discharge ignition

December 09, 2015

Westport Innovations Inc., together with the Gas Technology Institute (GTI), has been awarded US$900,000 towards a program to advance state-of-the-art natural gas combustion technology. The work will feature Westport’s enhanced spark ignited (ESI) natural gas engine technology (earlier post) with the integration and demonstration of high frequency corona discharge ignition on an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partner’s engine. The engine has a displacement of between 1 and 1.5 liters per cylinder and is targeted at medium-duty commercial vehicle applications.

Using 100% dedicated natural gas as fuel, Westport’s ESI technology optimizes the combustion and thermal efficiencies of the engine by taking full advantage of the ultra-high octane performance fuel properties of natural gas. The technology enables a “downsized” natural gas solution that is cost-competitive while providing similar levels of power, torque, and fuel economy to a larger diesel engine.

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Swift Navigation raises $11M Series-A round for high-accuracy RTK GPS for autonomous vehicles

Swift Navigation, a startup building centimeter-accurate GPS technology for autonomous vehicles, raised an $11-million series-A round led by Lior Susan and Pierre Lamond of Eclipse, with participation from New Enterprise Associates and Promus Ventures.

By moving GPS positioning from custom hardware to a flexible software-based receiver, Swift Navigation delivers Real Time Kinematics (RTK) GPS that is 100 times more accurate than the GPS in a cell phone at a fraction of the price of the competition. With more than 1,200 customers for its first product, Piksi, the company has already experienced high demand for its low-cost, high-performance GPS receiver.

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Audi’s production electric e-tron quattro may set a new standard for vehicle handling; advanced vehicle dynamics control

December 01, 2015

The production version of Audi’s battery electric e-tron quattro SUV (earlier post), due out in 2018, is an important vehicle for the brand, and especially for Audi of America, which is driving many of the requirements for the C-segment electric SUV. At the LA Auto Show, Audi of America President Scott Keogh said that the brand is targeting at least 25% of its US sales to be e-tron—i.e., plug-in hybrid or full electric—models by 2025. (Earlier post.)

He also observed, in a conversation on the eve of the LAAS, that if an automaker can launch a defining product, the game changes. Audi intends for the e-tron quattro to become such a defining product—an Audi electric SUV in the high-volume C-segment that is reasonably priced (in the luxury sector) and delivers longer range along with all the “known” benefits of electric drive: speedy acceleration, quiet, lower cost of fueling, and zero tailpipe emissions (as well as the high-value HOV sticker for some markets). But to make this a benchmark product, Audi intends to go further, leveraging the three-motor electric quattro powertrain through very advanced software controls to deliver a ride and handling experience not possible even in an all-wheel drive electric vehicle equipped with a torque vectoring differential mechanism (e.g., a Tesla).

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EuroCarBody Award 2015 goes to the Carbon Core body of the new BMW 7 Series

November 12, 2015

The Carbon Core body structure of the new BMW 7 Series has been awarded the EuroCarBody Award 2015 at the 17th Global Car Body Benchmarking Conference. The body of the new BMW luxury sedans was given a rating of 41.87 out of 50 possible points—the best score ever to be obtained in this competition. The EuroCarBody Award has been announced at the annual conference of experts every year since 2002 and is regarded as a leading award for innovations in car body construction.

The Carbon Core used for the body structure is the central element of the BMW EfficientLightweight Technology that was applied particularly consistently in the development of the sixth generation of the BMW 7 Series. For the first time in a volume-production automobile, a composite of CFRP, aluminium and super high-strength steels was created which increases rigidity and stiffness in the passenger cell while at the same time significantly reducing the vehicle weight.

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2017 Cadillac XT5 initiates new series of Cadillac luxury crossovers; cylinder deactivation and stop/start

November 10, 2015

Cadillac unveiled the first 2017 Crossover Touring 5 (XT5), a comprehensively upgraded luxury crossover and the cornerstone of a new series of crossovers. Cadillac crossovers will wear the “XT” designation. The XT5 premieres this month at the Dubai and Los Angeles auto shows and begins production in the US and China in spring 2016.

The new luxury crossover joins Cadillac’s lineup immediately following the new range-topping CT6 Sedan, as the brand enters a new phase of product growth. In the US market, the 2017 Cadillac XT5 will be powered by the new 3.6-liter V6 engine which debuted earlier this year on the brand’s ATS and CTS sport sedans and is featured on the CT6. This engine has been completely redesigned and features Active Fuel Management cylinder deactivation technology, which allows the engine seamlessly and automatically to switch to a fuel-saving 4-cylinder mode under low or moderate loads.

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Frost & Sullivan forecasts Gasoline Particulate Filters to climb from 50,335 units now to 4.2-4.6 million units by 2020

November 08, 2015

Gasoline direct injection (GDI) is a strategy to improve fuel efficiency that is rapidly gaining market acceptance. However, unlike conventional gasoline engines, gasoline direct injection engines produce particulate matter, as do diesels, and emission controls will become an issue the technology must address as standards for particle mass tighten, and also as standards for particle numbers emerge.

In a 2013 study, a team from Ford’s Research and Advanced Engineering group in Dearborn noted that because the efficiency advantage of homogeneous GDI is not as large as with diesel engines, the use of gasoline particulate filters (GPF) is a less practical solution to PM emissions aftertreatment. Accordingly, there are significant research efforts—including Ford’s own—aimed at understanding how PM emissions can be reduced by engine design (e.g., fuel injection timing, number of injections, fuel pressure, injector placement, etc.) and fuel properties. (Earlier post.) Nevertheless, Frost & Sullivan projects the number of engines equipped with GPFs will climb from 50,335 units today to 4.2–4.6 million units by 2020. (“Analysis of the GPF Market for Passenger Cars in Europe and North America”)

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Aeristech developing turbomachine-type electric air compressors for fuel cells; claims potential doubling of output

October 27, 2015

UK-based Aeristech, a provider of electrically driven pressure charging solutions (earlier post), is developing electric air compressor technology that the company says could double the output from a hydrogen fuel cell. The electric compressor would enable vehicle manufacturers to increase performance or to specify a considerably more compact fuel cell, improving packaging and weight.

The Aeristech fuel cell compressor uses an aluminium, turbomachine-type compressor with volume automotive manufacturing tolerances, direct-coupled to a variable high-speed motor with no transmission. This represents a significant change from roots- and screw-type compressors.

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Qualcomm & Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team partner on racecar data sharing over 5 GHz 802.11ac Wi-Fi; planned migration to 802.11ad (WiGig)

October 24, 2015

Qualcomm Incorporated through its subsidiary, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., and the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team, have collaborated to enable the wireless download of racecar telemetry data via Wi-Fi using 5 GHz spectrum during Formula One practice sessions. This technology implementation marks a significant improvement over previous wired data offloading processes. The telemetry includes data from thermal imaging tire cameras, which is used to improve speed, efficiency and vehicle safety.

The system deployed by the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team and Qualcomm Technologies comprises several Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processors with Qualcomm VIVE 802.11ac Wi-Fi, along with multiple access points, one in the pit lane and one in the garage, to improve the speed of connectivity and data transfer.

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Mercedes-Benz to begin equipping top models with CO2 air conditioning systems starting in 2017; adapting other models for R1234yf

October 20, 2015

From 2017, Mercedes-Benz will offer in Europe the S- and E-Class as the first production passenger cars equipped with CO2 air conditioning systems. These completely newly developed systems are based on the DIN specifications defined by the automotive standards committee of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA).

Due to especially quickly available and high cooling performance, CO2 air conditioning systems swiftly provide for a pleasant feel-good climate inside vehicles even in very hot weather, the company said, while at the same time complying with legal requirements for low global warming potential refrigerants and avoiding the use of R1234yf, which Mercedes has found problematic. (Earlier post.)

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

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

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

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Toyota bringing advanced ITS technology to mass-market models in Japan; V2X

September 30, 2015

By the end of 2015, Toyota will make a new ITS (Intelligent Transportation System) safety package available on three models in Japan. The package, named ITS Connect, uses Japan’s standardized ITS frequency of 760 MHz to receive and share data transmitted by external infrastructure and other vehicles. Equipping ITS on these three models will make Toyota the world’s first automaker to bring a driver assist function that uses a dedicated ITS frequency to market.

ITS Connect uses vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication (collectively V2X) to provide drivers with the kind of safety information that cannot be picked up by onboard sensors. This includes traffic signal information and information about the presence of vehicles and pedestrians in blind spots.

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Renesas introducing R-Car W2R 5.9 GHz automotive wireless communication SoC for V2X communication

Renesas Electronics Corporation announced the R-Car W2R system-on-a-chip (SoC), the first member of the new Renesas R-Car Family of devices developed specifically for V2X applications. The new automotive wireless communication SoC is designed for Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) communication in the 5.9-gigahertz (GHz) band.

Through the use of Renesas’ exclusive RF system design technology, the R-Car W2R is the first in the world to succeed in suppressing out-of-band transmission signal noise below the -65 dBm stipulated by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). This makes it possible for products that use the R-Car W2R to achieve the best noise characteristics in the world. This enables high-quality signals with little interference to be transmitted, making it possible to implement vehicle-to-everything (V2X) at a practical level in various kinds of ADAS systems for supporting safe driving.

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Schaeffler introduces new high-voltage P2 hybrid module; up to 800 N·m; first production application in China in 2017

September 29, 2015

Schaeffler has developed a new P2 (parallel, two-clutch) high-voltage hybrid module—arranged between the internal combustion engine and transmission—that can transmit engine torques of up to 800 N·m (590 lb-ft) to the transmission without having to incorporate a commensurately expensive clutch.The new generation P2 hybrid module can be used in both medium- and very high-performance transmission concepts—e.g., from mild to plug-in hybrids.

The high-torque module distributes the flow of forces in an innovative way; the pathway of torque conveyance depends on its direction. Torques are transmitted to the crankshaft via a 300 N·m disconnect clutch, while traction torques from the internal combustion engine are transmitted to the transmission via a one-way clutch. The clutch can therefore have a compact design, even at high torques, with the corresponding advantages in terms of space utilization and cost. Schaeffler showcased the unit at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt.

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Eaton launches new, more efficient TVS2 supercharger; targeting super-turbo systems

September 25, 2015

Eaton has announced its newest supercharger—TVS2—which improves vehicle manufacturers’ ability to deliver an optimal single boosted application, or to pair this device with other boosting technologies in order to deliver compound boosting solutions for improved engine performance—a combined supercharger-turbocharger system. The announcement came at the 20th Supercharging Conference in Dresden, Germany.

Eaton’s Twin Vortices Series (TVS) is a Roots-type supercharger with four- lobe rotors and high-flow inlet and outlet ports. TVS2 technology builds on Eaton’s supercharger portfolio by delivering significant improvements in efficiency and increased capability, achieved through a rotor design that improves the internal aerodynamics. Key elements of this new design include:

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Audi’s e-tron quattro EV: evolutionary powertrain with a dash of revolution for production in 2018; MLB evo

September 24, 2015

Audi’s e-tron quattro battery-electric SUV concept, which made its formal debut at IAA in Frankfurt (earlier post), is a strong indicator of Audi’s series-production electric SUV due in 2018—especially in terms of the powertrain.

The e-tron quattro is based on Audi’s MLB evo—the second-generation of the modular longitudinal matrix toolkit (MLB, earlier post), and is, at the same time, potentially contributing to the development of the elements of that toolkit, especially with respect to a modular electric drive component. This could eventually have a role comparable to that of the Volkswagen Group’s modular diesel and modular gasoline engine kits (MDB and MOB). (“Baukasten” = German for construction kit)

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Oak Ridge AMIE demo integrates 3D-printed building, natural gas hybrid with bi-directional wireless power transfer

A research demonstration unveiled at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (DOE ORNL) combines clean energy technologies into a 3D-printed building and a 3D-printed natural gas-powered hybrid vehicle to showcase a new approach to energy use, storage and consumption. The Additive Manufacturing Integrated Energy (AMIE) demonstration, displayed at DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Industry Day event, is a model for energy-efficient systems that link buildings, vehicles and the grid.

An ORNL team worked with industrial partners to manufacture and connect a natural-gas-powered hybrid electric vehicle with a solar-powered building to create an integrated energy system. Power can flow in either direction between the vehicle and building through a lab-developed wireless technology. The approach allows the car to provide supplemental power to the 210-square-foot building when the sun is not shining.

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New ORNL non-precious metal catalyst shows promise as low-cost component for low-temperature exhaust aftertreatment

September 23, 2015

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have developed a ternary mixed oxide catalyst composed of copper oxide, cobalt oxide, and ceria (dubbed “CCC”) that outperforms synthesized and commercial platinum group metal (PGM) catalysts for CO oxidation in simulated exhaust streams while showing no signs of inhibition—i.e., the clogging of the catalyst by NOx, CO and HC.

PGM catalysts are the current standard for emissions aftertreatment in automotive exhaust streams. However, in addition to their high cost, PGM catalysts struggle with CO oxidation at low temperatures (<200 °C) due to inhibition by hydrocarbons in exhaust streams. The new ORNL catalyst shows great potential as a low-cost component for the low temperature exhaust streams that are expected to be a characteristic of future automotive systems, the researchers noted in their paper in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

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NRC Canada team investigates effect of gasoline particulate filter on PM from light-duty GDI engine

September 17, 2015

A team led by researchers from the National Research Council Canada has investigated the effect of the use of a gasoline particulate filter on the size and morphology of PM emitted from a light-duty gasoline-direct-injection (GDI) vehicle over the FTP-75 and US06 transient drive cycles.

Using transmission-electron-microscope (TEM) image analysis, they compared PM from a 2012 Ford Focus powered by a 2.0-liter wall-guided GDI engine, operating under globally stoichiometric condition, to the results for the same vehicle equipped with a catalyzed gasoline particulate filter (GPF). A paper describing their results is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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Johnson Controls expanding global production of AGM batteries for start-stop systems; $555M investment from 2011 to 2020

September 16, 2015

In anticipation of increasing demand for start-stop systems, Johnson Controls is adding Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) battery production capacity. AGM battery technology is at this point the dominant start-stop energy storage technology.

The market for new vehicle and aftermarket Start-Stop batteries could rise to 56 million worldwide by 2020, compared to 22 million today. In this time frame, 85% of all new vehicles in Europe and 40% in the US and China are expected to be powered with Start-Stop batteries. With $555 million in investments between 2011 and 2020, the company is implementing plans to expand AGM production capacity in Germany, the United States and China.

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

September 15, 2015

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

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

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Continental Voltage Stabilization System with Maxwell Ultracapacitors to power start-stop in Cadillac ATS and CTS as standard

Maxwell Technologies, Inc. announced that Continental Automotive Systems’ Maxwell-powered voltage stabilization system (VSS) will be a standard feature on 2016 Cadillac ATS and CTS sedans. General Motors is the first North American automotive OEM to integrate the Continental ultracapacitor-based voltage stabilization as part of the enhanced start-stop system, which lowers fuel costs, improves performance and reduces emissions, delivering an overall superior owner-driver experience.

There are currently some 1.5 million vehicles on the road in Europe with the Maxwell-based Continental VSS, said Marty Mills, regional sales manager, ultracapacitor products, Central North America.

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Jaguar Land Rover investigating energy-efficient vehicle heating and cooling; Air Bubbles and Air Blankets

September 10, 2015

Because heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC) consume substantial amounts of energy—and therefore fuel, or electrical energy stored in the battery of a Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)—Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is working on research projects that could significantly reduce the energy consumed when heating and cooling a vehicle.

Rather than continuously heating or cooling a flow of air as it enters the car, Jaguar Land Rover is exploring how a car could heat or cool an “Air Bubble” inside the vehicle once, and then maintain the temperature and quality of this air bubble using innovative new HVAC technologies. These include infra-red reflective (IRR) glass, tailor-made for the solar radiation profile of an individual region or country. The glass would reflect the sun’s rays so less energy is required to cool the inside of the car.

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

September 09, 2015

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

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

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New Tandem Axle Lift function from Volvo Trucks lowers fuel consumption up to 4%

Volvo Trucks has introduced a new function—Tandem Axle Lift—that makes it possible to disengage and raise the second driven axle even while driving. This gives better road grip and up to 4% lower fuel consumption when the truck is driven without a load. The new function is designed for heavy duty transports with loads being carried one way and empty return trips—for example, when hauling timber or in construction and bulk cargo operations.

By replacing the differential in the first driven axle with a dog clutch, the second driven axle can be disengaged and raised; the tires can be lifted 140mm (5.51 inches) off the road surface. The driver thus has access to both the power and capacity of two driven axles (6X4) and also the better maneuverability of a single driven axle (4X2).

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Bosch presenting new heat pump EV thermal management system at IAA; up to 25% increase in effective range

September 08, 2015

At IAA next week, automotive supplier Bosch is presenting a new heat-pump-based thermal management system for EVs that it says can enable an increase in effective range of up to 25% without modifications to the battery.

In battery-driven powertrains, heating and cooling can play a significantly greater role than in gasoline or diesel engines, since without a combustion engine, the vehicle does not have a generous supply of heat. If the passenger compartment is heated using a purely electrical system drawing its power from the battery, range can be significantly reduced. As a result, there has been interest in the industry about the use of heat pumps as a lower energy-intensity solution.

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Peugeot FRACTAL electric concept adds acoustic spatialization to i-Cockpit; 3D printing

At the IAA in Frankfurt next week, Peugeot will introduce FRACTAL, a prospective electric urban coupé design that incorporates the company’s i-Cockpit (first unveiled in 2010) augmented with an acoustic system that features tactile bass systems built into the back of each seat to make driving all the more instinctive, enriching information through the use of acoustics. This additional i-Cockpit feature is characterized by the spatialization and dynamization of sound.

FRACTAL is an ideas incubator that also explores new design and manufacturing processes. 3D-printed parts represent more than 80% of the interior trim surface. The anechoic materials were made through generative design—an incremental, stochastic process used to achieve the perfect component.

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Fraunhofer researchers develop carbon nanotube thin film heater for EVs

September 02, 2015

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA in Stuttgart have developed a film-based panel heater for electric vehicles. The panel is—particularly on short journeys—more effective than conventional electric heaters. (Electric cars generate little heat as opposed to conventional passenger vehicles, which produce more than enough engine heat to heat the interior. An additional electric heater is required. This is supplied with power by the same battery that provides the engine with energy; prolonged use of the heater can significantly deplete range.)

The heating concept is based on a film that is coated with a very thin layer of conductive carbon nanotubes (CNTs). The film is glued to the inner door trim and generates a comfortable warmth there in the area of the armrest within a very short time, according to Serhat Sahakalkan, project manager at the Fraunhofer IPA.

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AVnu Alliance, Cisco and TTTech to host Deterministic Ethernet Forum for in-vehicle networking

August 28, 2015

AVnu Alliance, Cisco and TTTech will host the Deterministic Ethernet Forum for automotive in-vehicle networking and the Industrial Internet of Things (IoT), on 23 October 2015 in Vienna, Austria. The forum will be an opportunity for leading automotive and industrial companies to discuss and influence the implementation of deterministic Ethernet solutions and related standards. Confirmed keynotes at the event include presentations by Altera, Audi, AVnu Alliance, Cisco, Delphi, GE, KUKA, NXP, Renesas and Vestas.

Deterministic Ethernet uses time scheduling to bring deterministic real-time communication to standard IEEE 802 Ethernet. Deterministic Ethernet is based on IEEE 802.3, IEEE 802.1Q AVB and 802.1Qbv TSN (pre-standard) as well as SAE AS6802 standards, and guarantees message delivery across switched Ethernet networks. It offers improved safety and security with a traffic class immune to Denial of Service. It also enables the full convergence of critical, real-time and regular traffic within a single network.

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FEV working on water injection system using exhaust condensate; fuel consumption improvements up to 16% possible

August 26, 2015

FEV is developing a water injection system for internal combustion engines using condensate from exhaust gases, the “Extended Direct Condensate Injection” system. The concept, as reported in a new paper in the International Journal of Engine Research , demonstrates a potential for efficiency increase of 3.3% – 3.8% in the region of the minimum specific fuel consumption on a stoichiometric combustion concept with Miller cycle and cooled external exhaust gas recirculation.

Further improvement of the efficiency of up to 16% is possible at full-load operation, the researchers said. If water injection is used in addition to homogeneous lean combustion, an efficiency gain of 4.5% in the region of the minimum specific fuel consumption is achieved.

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BMW introduces Concept M4 GTS at Pebble Beach; water injection

August 14, 2015

BMW M GmbH unveiled the BMW Concept M4 GTS at the Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance in Monterey, California. Details on a production version will be revealed at a later date. The BMW Concept M4 GTS is the first M3/M4 special production vehicle to be sold in the US.

The BMW Concept M4 GTS showcases new technologies which will debut in production vehicles later this year. Among them, the BMW Concept M4 GTS features the innovative water injection system (earlier post) that has already provided a significant output and torque boost in the BMW M4 MotoGP Safety Car. In addition, the BMW Concept M4 GTS has rear lights with OLED (organic light-emitting diode) technology for an unmistakable appearance.

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Audi, BMW and Daimler agree with Nokia on joint acquisition of HERE digital mapping business; swarm intelligence for new information density

August 03, 2015

AUDI AG, the BMW Group and Daimler AG have agreed with Nokia Corporation that they will acquire its mapping and location services business HERE. The acquisition is intended to secure the long term availability of HERE’s products and services as an open, independent and value-creating platform for cloud-based maps and other mobility services accessible to all customers from the automotive industry and other sectors.

The three partners will each hold an equal stake in HERE; none of them seeks to acquire a majority interest. Subject to the approval of the relevant antitrust authorities, the transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2016.

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Aeristech launches new 48V electric supercharger

July 31, 2015

UK-based Aeristech has introduced a new 48V electric supercharger capable of continuous operation at high boost levels. Independently validated by Ricardo and MAHLE Powertrain UK, the technology provides greater efficiency and easier packaging than a mechanical supercharger or a two-stage turbocharger.

Aeristech said it overcame the thermal management issues that can restrict other electric boosting devices currently available on the market to only transient operation by using permanent magnet motor technology in place of the more usual switched reluctance type. This has been made cost-effective by developing a patented control and switching technology that enables the use of many cost-competitive components.

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Delphi invests in Tula; Dynamic Skip Fire cylinder deactivation

July 30, 2015

Delphi has made a minority investment in Tula Technology, the developer of Dynamic Skip Fire cylinder deactivation technology. (Earlier post.) The software-enabled powertrain technology integrates advanced digital signal processing with advanced powertrain controls to create a variable displacement engine.

DSF allows the engine’s cylinders to fire or skip (deactivate) on a continuously variable basis. In independent tests, DSF has improved fuel efficiency by up to 17% as measured on a CAFE basis when compared to a vehicle (V8 engine) that does not have cylinder deactivation. GM Ventures made an equity investment in Tula in 2012.

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Roland Berger study explores need for consolidation in vehicle electronic architectures

July 29, 2015

In a new study, Roland Berger Strategy Consultants explores the strategy of module consolidation as a solution for the feature- and function-driven increasing complexity of vehicle electronic architectures.

Consumers increasingly expect the latest and greatest in electronics and safety when purchasing a car, regardless of type. Whether it’s an instrument cluster with a graphics rich, fully reconfigurable display or a lane departure warning system, a tremendous amount of processing power and electronic communication is required. The current approach to adding these features to vehicle’s electric/electronic (E/E) architectures is generally “ad-hoc”—i.e., simply adding a new ECU every time a new vehicle feature requires processing power. This has resulted in vehicles with as many as 100 ECUs and more than 100 million lines of code in ultra-luxury cars.

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BMW i novel drive unit swing arm powers HNF eBike

July 27, 2015

In addition to developing its own innovative premium vehicles and technologies with a focus on sustainability, BMW i also serves within the BMW Group as an incubator for innovation reaching beyond the brand’s vehicles.

As one example, a drive unit swing arm, now entering production at the HNF eBike factory after development to series maturity in collaboration with BMW Research and Technology, originated from the first stage of BMW i market research and the early concept phase. As there was no longer any immediate use for the patent at BMW i, the company released it for external use.

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GM opens new $14M Active Safety Test Area at Milford; 22 different active safety technologies across GM MY2016 US lineup; V2V and autonomous driving

July 25, 2015

GM officially opened its new $14-million, 52-acre Active Safety Test Area at its Milford Proving Ground near Detroit. GM’s brands—Chevrolet, Buick GMC and Cadillac will offer 22 different active safety technologies across their 2016 model year US lineups, ranging from driver alerts to those that automatically intervene and assist the driver in critical situations.

Safety engineers will develop and test these and other safety technologies for products around the world at the new Active Safety Test Area. Cynthia Bay, director of Active Safety Electronics and Controls said the facility is also ideal for testing vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technologies, which will be standard on the 2017 Cadillac CTS.

The most recent J.D. Power APEAL study found that the increasing number of safety-related technologies equipping new vehicles are making those vehicles more appealing to their owners. (Earlier post.)

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Bosch and TomTom partner on high-precision maps for highly automated driving

July 21, 2015

Bosch and TomTom have agreed to collaborate on innovative mapping technology for automated driving. Under this agreement, TomTom is designing the necessary maps, while Bosch, on the basis of its systems engineering work, is defining the specifications these maps have to meet.

The maps are already being used in the automated vehicles Bosch is testing on certain public roads in Germany (A81) and in the United States (I280). High precision maps are a necessary enabler for deploying automated driving on freeways by 2020, said Bosch board of management member Dr. Dirk Hoheisel. Jan Maarten de Vries, Vice President Automotive at TomTom, said that by the end of 2015, the company wants to have new high-precision maps for automated driving for all freeways and freeway-like roads in Germany. Road coverage will subsequently be extended to the rest of Europe and North America.

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Magna to acquire Getrag for approximately €1.75B

July 16, 2015

Magna International Inc. signed an agreement to acquire the Getrag Group of Companies for approximately €1.75 billion (US$1.9 billion). This represents an enterprise value of approximately €2.45 billion (US$2.7 billion) less proportionate net debt and proportionate pension liabilities, which together are estimated to be approximately €700 million (US$762 million) at closing.

Getrag is the world’s largest (by volume) OEM-independent supplier of automotive transmissions, offering a range of transmission systems which include manual, automated-manual, dual-clutch, hybrid and other advanced systems.

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New safety test environment for high-speed flywheels for energy storage systems; new high-speed imaging techniques

July 07, 2015

The Ricardo-led FlySafe research collaboration—involving a range of leading industrial and academic partners including the University of Brighton’s Centre for Automotive Engineering—has delivered an innovative flywheel safety test environment to enable the development of next-generation flywheel energy storage systems.

The FlySafe project is investigating the potential failure mechanisms and behaviors of high-speed flywheel systems. Operating at extremely high rotational speeds, these systems offer a practical and potentially cost-effective mechanical means of saving fuel and reducing carbon emissions through the mechanical storage and reuse of energy in applications such as regenerative braking. The FlySafe research aims to provide best-practice design guidelines for the safety containment systems of high speed flywheels, appropriate for commercial mass market deployment of these systems. A key output of the project in this respect will be a proposed BSI flywheel safety standard.

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Free piston/ORC system for automotive waste heat recovery being tested at University of Brighton

June 18, 2015

A prototype automotive waste heat recovery system has been fired up on a recently commissioned test rig at the University of Brighton. The organic Rankine cycle test rig uses a novel linear free piston expander from Libertine (earlier post) to overcome the technical and economic barriers to using Rankine cycle technology for automotive waste heat recovery.

Initially configured to simulate heavy duty truck applications, the 20 kWe system can be scaled down to 3 kWe for light duty trucks and passenger cars. Libertine expects the results from rig tests to confirm the system’s potential to convert the high grade heat in the exhaust into electrical power, which can contribute to either powertrain or auxiliary loads.

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DDFlyTrain flywheel hybrid technology to deliver around 10% fuel savings, rapid ROI

June 17, 2015

The DDFlyTrain research project, conducted by Ricardo, Artemis Intelligent Power (a group company of Mitsubishi Heavy) and Bombardier Transportation, (earlier post) has projects a fuel savings of around 10% based on the use of high speed flywheel brake recovery technology retrofitted to Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) rolling stock. This order of saving means that the technology has a potential return on investment (ROI) of inside five years.

The DDFlyTrain hybrid solution—designed for integration onto a Bombardier Turbostar DMU—is based on Ricardo’s TorqStor high-speed flywheel energy storage technology and the high efficiency Artemis Digital Displacement hydraulic pump-motor transmission. (Earlier post.) The project has also produced a proof of concept test rig used to demonstrate the technology to rail industry stakeholders and a concept for integration onto a Bombardier Turbostar DMU.

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New generation GKN Hybrid Power flywheel hybrid system for Audi R18 e-tron

June 16, 2015

Among its many other changes, the hybrid Audi R18 e-tron quattro that placed third at the Le Mans 24 Hours this past weekend featured a new generation of the Gyrodrive flywheel hybrid energy storage system, developed by GKN in collaboration with Audi Sport. (Earlier post.) Audi driver André Lotterer set a new record lap time of 3m 17.47s with GKN’s technology on board.

GKN increased the energy storage capacity and average power rating while retaining the same dimensions and mass, enabling Audi to compete this year in the 4-megajoule of hybrid energy category. GKN said the technology advances embodied in the new flywheel hybrid system will accelerate its work to scale the technology into a lower-cost alternative to battery hybrids for transport applications.

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Audi sets new lap record for diesels on Sachsenring; electric compressor overcomes turbo lag, enhances sprint performance

June 12, 2015

Audi has set a new record time on the Sachsenring for cars with a diesel engine. The Audi RS 5 TDI competition concept rounded the 3.6 km (2.2 mi) race course in a time of 1 minute 35.35 seconds. (According to fastestlaps.com, that time edges out the 1:35.53 results of a gasoline-fueled 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. The fastest lap on the Sachsenring was set this year by a 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z06 with a time of 1:30.47.)

The diesel technology platform draws its power from a 3.0-liter V6 biturbo TDI with 320 kW (435 hp) of power and 800 N·m (590 lb-ft) of torque. The highlight is an electrically driven compressor. (Earlier post.) The Audi RS 5 TDI competition concept is based on a technical concept car that Audi presented in summer 2014 on the 25th anniversary of the TDI engine. (Earlier post.)

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Scania to test electrically powered trucks on “electric road” under real-life conditions

June 04, 2015

In February 2016, Scania will start testing electric trucks on the electric road which will become a reality as the Swedish Transport Administration has now approved support for the Gävle Electric Road project. The project will demonstrate and evaluate conductive technology, which involves electrical transmission through overhead lines above vehicles equipped with a pantograph power collector.

The investment in the Gävle Electric Road project is in line with the Government’s goal of an energy-efficient and fossil-free vehicle fleet by 2030. The project consists of about SEK 77 million (US$9.3 million) in public financing combined with about SEK 48 million (US$5.8 million) in co-financing from the business community and the Gävleborg region.

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US$7.5M JOSPEL project to develop energy efficient climate control for EVs; leveraging Joule and Peltier effects

June 03, 2015

A trans-European collaboration aims to develop a novel energy efficient climate control system to help reduce the energy used for passenger comfort in electric vehicles by at least 50%. Even in today’s modern electric vehicles, a lot of energy is wasted on heating or cooling, in turn limiting the already relatively short range by further draining the battery capacity.

The aim of the €6.7-million (US$7.5-million) JOSPEL project is to develop an efficient, electrical climate control system using an integrated approach that combines the application of the Joule and Peltier effects; efficient insulation of the vehicle interior; energy recovery from heat zones; increased battery life as a side effect of thermal management; reduced battery energy consumption via the integration of Peltier cooling; innovative automated and eco-driving strategies; and the electronic control of power flows.

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Toyota to explore integration of SmartDeviceLink Technology with Ford subsidiary; open source version of Ford AppLink

Toyota Motor Corporation has reached an agreement with Ford Motor Company to explore collaboration with Livio, a Ford subsidiary acquired in 2013 (earlier post), for the implementation of SmartDeviceLink (SDL) technology in future Toyota and Lexus vehicles.

SDL is an open source version of Ford AppLink, created to facilitate smartphone applications including entertainment, traffic, parking and other data from the internet for use in in-car infotainment systems. Those apps can be easily accessed using voice recognition, display screens, and dashboard controls. Besides its seamless ease of operation, the benefits of SDL technology include the ability for developers to design an app only one time, yet have it work across multiple infotainment systems. This saves development time and allows apps to be introduced more quickly to a wider audience.

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DARPA program integrates non-mechanical optical scanning tech on microchip; new class of low-cost, miniature LIDAR could support autonomous vehicle apps

May 30, 2015

DARPA’s Short-range Wide-field-of-view Extremely agile Electronically steered Photonic EmitteR (SWEEPER) program has successfully integrated breakthrough non-mechanical optical scanning technology onto a microchip. Freed from the traditional scanning architecture of gimbaled mounts, lenses and servos, SWEEPER technology has demonstrated that it can sweep a laser back and forth more than 100,000 times per second, 10,000 times faster than current state-of-the-art mechanical systems.

SWEEPER technology can also steer a laser precisely across a 51-degree arc, the widest field of view yet achieved by a chip-scale optical scanning system. These accomplishments could open the door to a new class of miniaturized, extremely low-cost, robust laser-scanning technologies for LIDAR and other uses. Applications can include autonomous vehicle technology.

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