[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.]
Freescale introduces new vision microprocessor targeting autonomous driving
March 02, 2015
Freescale Semiconductor has introduced the S32V vision microprocessor—the first automotive vision system-on-chip (SoC) with the requisite reliability, safety and security measures to automate and ‘co-pilot’ a self-aware car, the company said.
Leveraging a number of automotive-grade technologies, the S32V moves beyond the current, convenience-centric “assist” paradigm and toward an era where cars can capture data, process it and share control with drivers in critical situations. This capability establishes a bridge from the current “assist” era toward the fully autonomous vehicles of tomorrow, Freescale suggested.
NXP acquiring Freescale for $11.8B; shooting for Nº 1 automotive semiconductor supplier
NXP Semiconductors N.V. and Freescale Semiconductor, Ltd. have entered into a definitive agreement under which NXP will merge with Freescale in an approximately $11.8-billion cash and equity transaction. The resulting combined enterprise would be valued at just over $40 billion (representing enterprise value as of the market close 27 February 2015). The merger creates a high performance mixed signal semiconductor industry leader, with combined revenue of greater than $10 billion.
The merged entity will become the market leader in automotive semiconductor solutions, surpassing Infineon and Renesas, as well as becoming the market leader in general purpose microcontroller (MCU) products, NXP and Freescale said. According to IHS, Infineon Technologies AG took the top spot from Renesas Electronics Corp. in automotive semiconductor sales in 2014 with sales of about $2.8 billion. The previous year Infineon had been on about $2.4 billion in sales and $500 million behind long-time market leader Renesas.
Honda includes stop-start system in new 2016 Honda Pilot for improved fuel economy, new 9-speed (updated w/ VCM info)
February 13, 2015
Honda gave the all-new 2016 Honda Pilot SUV its global premiere at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show. The 2016 Pilot, launching at Honda dealerships nationwide this summer, is the third generation of Honda’s three-row midsize SUV to be designed, developed and manufactured in the US.
The 2016 Pilot features a new 3.5-liter, direct-injected i-VTEC V-6 engine with new two-stage Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) cylinder deactivation technology. For improved fuel efficiency, the 2016 Pilot will also include a stop start feature—Honda’s first non-hybrid application of this technology.
Porsche names GKN Driveline “Technology Partner” for eAxle system in 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid supercar
February 12, 2015
Porsche has awarded GKN Driveline “Technology Partner” status for its development of the high-performance eAxle for the 918 Spyder, an advanced plug-in hybrid supercar. (Earlier post.) GKN Driveline’s eAxle module—used for the 918 Spyder’s front axle—supports full-electric mode, all-wheel drive and provides a boost function.
The eAxle that supplements the 918 Spyder’s hybridized 4.6-liter V8 is an evolution of the company’s innovative eAxle drive. (Earlier post.) The module has maximum power of 95 kW and can deliver up to 1500 N·m (1,106 lb-ft) of torque to the front wheels via a fixed gear ratio. A specially developed compact differential engages the torque seamlessly, giving the 918 Spyder optimum power distribution at all times. The differential also disengages the module to minimize drag losses and maximize efficiency. At speeds above 265 km/h (164 mph), a clutch isolates the electric motor to prevent it from over-spinning.
BMW introduces 2 Series Gran Tourer; up to 60 mpg US
BMW has introduced the new BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer, a premium compact model. At 4,556 millimeters long, 1,800 mm wide and 1,608 mm high, the 2 Series Gran Tourer accommodates up to seven people while additionally offering a load compartment that extends from 645 to 1,905 liters in the five-seater and from 560 to 1,820 liters in the seven-seater variant.
Five three- and four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines will be available from market launch of the new BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer, all featuring the latest BMW TwinPower Turbo technology. In addition to the four-cylinder liter gasoline engine in the BMW 220i Gran Tourer and the three-cylinder in the BMW 218i Gran Tourer, three diesel units round off the engine portfolio available at market launch. They include the four-cylinder diesel in the BMW 220d xDrive and BMW 218d Gran Tourer as well as the three-cylinder diesel in the BMW 216d Gran Tourer.
Extensive materials genome modeling study suggests best adsosrbent materials for natural gas storage already designed; 70% of ARPA-E target
February 03, 2015
Using a materials genome approach, a collaboration between EPFL, the University of California at Berkeley, Rice University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology has searched for high-performance adsorbent materials to store natural gas in a vehicular fuel tank.
In their study, published in the RSC journal Energy & Environmental Science, they simulated more than 650,000 designs for nanoporous materials. They found that the best candidates for natural gas storage have already been designed—but that those best materials meet only 70% of the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) targets for natural gas storage on vehicles. (Earlier post.)
ESKAM finishing electric drive axle module for commercial vehicles, new production technologies; vehicle testing this year
February 02, 2015
|Electric drive axle module with two motors and integrated power electronics. Groschopp AG. Click to enlarge.|
The ESKAM (Electric Scalable Axle Module, Elektrische SKalierbare AchsantriebsModule) consortium in Germany, sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), is completing the development of an optimized electric drive axle module for commercial vehicles, consisting of two motors, transmissions and power electronics. All components fit neatly and compactly into a shared housing, which is fitted in the vehicle using a special frame construction also developed by the project engineers.
The individual modules developed by the various partners are complete, as are new manufacturing techniques developed by the partners. The consortium is now putting the individual parts together to make a demonstrator. After that, they want to fit the axle module into a real vehicle for testing by the end of 2015.
NHTSA announces follow-up recall of 2.12 million cars and SUVs over TRW airbag defects
January 31, 2015
US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced today the recall of more than 2.12 million Acura, Dodge, Jeep, Honda, Pontiac, and Toyota vehicles from model years 2002 to 2004 for a defect that may cause airbags to deploy inadvertently.
The vehicles were subject to earlier recalls to address a problem with an electronic component manufactured by TRW that caused some airbags to deploy in the absence of a crash. The recalls will provide vehicle owners with a new remedy after the manufacturers’ original attempts to fix the defects proved ineffective in some vehicles.
Bosch completes acquisition of ZF’s share of ZF Lenksysteme JV; electric steering systems for fuel efficiency, ADAS and automated driving
January 30, 2015
The Bosch Group has completed its acquisition of ZF Friedrichshafen AG’s 50-percent share in the joint venture ZF Lenksysteme GmbH (ZFLS). Bosch now owns all shares in the formerly 50:50 joint venture, formed in 1999. It will be incorporated into the Bosch Group as a new division with the name Robert Bosch Automotive Steering GmbH.
ZFLS is a leading manufacturer of electric steering systems, with which it currently generates around 60% of its sales, which were around €4.1 billion (US$4.6 billion) in 2013. Alongside its potential to save up to 0.8 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers, electric steering is the basic technology required to realize a number of assistance systems in cars as well as automated driving.
Study finds vertical force of in-wheel switched reluctance motors deteriorates vehicle stability and comfort
January 27, 2015
In a study investigating switched reluctance motors (SRMs) for in-wheel motor applications, researchers at Chongqing University in China have found that the vertical component of the residual unbalanced radial force of the motor deteriorates the lateral and anti-rollover stabilities of the vehicle in addition to having a considerable impact on vehicle comfort. (The unbalanced radial force is the radial force difference between a pair of opposite stator poles.)
In their paper, published in the Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part D: Journal of Automobile Engineering, they suggest that a control method addressing these issues will be needed if SRMs are to see use in in-wheel applications. In an earlier paper, members of the team had proposed the use of an FxLMS (filtered-X least mean square) controller based on active suspension system to generate controllable force to suppress the vibration caused by SRM vertical force. In that paper, they found that utilizing active suspensions could reduce the effect of SRM vertical force on suspension performance.
EPA, ECOS and Motor Vehicle Industry Associations to sign memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the reduction of copper in brake pads
January 20, 2015
On Wednesday 21 January, representatives of the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA), the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) and motor vehicle industry associations will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the agency and the motor vehicle industry for the reduction of copper in brake pads. The signing will take place in conjunction with the SAE 2015 Government/Industry Meeting.
The MOU will provide the motor vehicle industry with consistent copper reduction guidelines, eliminate disparate state regulations and create a level playing field for brake product manufacturers. The MOU is the result of a collaborative effort between the regulatory agency and the motor vehicle industry.
New GM/Tula DSF cylinder deactivation technology could boost fuel efficiency in engines by up to 15%
January 05, 2015
|Comparison of DSF fuel economy gains and costs with competing technologies, from Tula’s 2013 SAE paper. Wilcutts et al. Click to enlarge.|
GM is working closely with Tula Technology, a Silicon Valley-based supplier of Dynamic Skip Fire (DSF)—a software-enabled powertrain technology that integrates advanced digital signal processing with advanced powertrain controls to create a variable displacement engine. In 2012, GM Ventures made an equity investment in Tula; in 2013, Tula engineers presented a paper on their technology at the 2013 SAE World Congress.
Independent testing commissioned by Tula finds that the application of DSF technology can improve fuel efficiency in a multi-cylinder engine (4/6/8 cylinders) by as much as 15% when compared to a vehicle equipped with an engine that does not have cylinder deactivation.
Orbital suing Daimler and Bosch for alleged patent infringement on direct injection technology
December 23, 2014
Australia-based specialized engine and vehicle systems company Orbital Corporation has filed court documents in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia alleging the infringement of Orbital patents on direct injection technology by Daimler AG, Mercedes-Benz USA LLC, Mercedes-Benz US International, Inc. (Mercedes), Robert Bosch GMGH and Robert Bosch LLC (Bosch). (3:14-cv-00808-REP Orbital Australia Pty Ltd et al. v. Daimler AG et al.)
Specific patents covered by the complaint are United States Patents Nº 6,923,387 (the “387 patent”) ("injector patent"); Nº 5,655,365 (the “365 patent”); and Nº 5,606,951 (the “951 patent”) (“control patents”),under 35 U.S.C.§271.
BASF’s new four-way conversion catalyst: TWC plus particulate filter
December 10, 2014
BASF researchers have further developed the three-way conversion catalyst and optimized its cleaning effect. The new four-way conversion catalyst, FWC, is a technology for vehicles with gasoline engines. The catalyst removes the gaseous pollutants and now also solids such as particulates from the exhaust gas flow.
Compared to the ubiquitous three-way conversion catalyst and the downstream uncoated particulate filter, the new FWC occupies much less space, said Dr. Klaus Harth, responsible for research on automotive catalytic converters at BASF. “The compact four-way conversion catalyst now combines all the important properties in a single component.”
GMZ Energy successfully demonstrates 1 kW thermoelectric generator for Bradley Fighting Vehicle
December 03, 2014
GMZ Energy, a market leader in the development of high-temperature thermoelectric generation (TEG) solutions, has successfully demonstrated a 1,000W TEG designed for diesel engine exhaust heat recapture in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. (Earlier post.) This announcement follows GMZ’s June 2014 demonstration of its 200W diesel TEG. The company integrated five of its 200W TEGs into a single 1,000 W diesel engine solution that directly converts exhaust waste heat into electrical energy to increase fuel efficiency and lower costs.
With this demonstration, GMZ has successfully reached the next milestone in the $1.5 million vehicle efficiency program sponsored by the US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) and administered by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
Westport Innovations acquires alt fuel systems company Prins Autogassystemen for €12.2M
Natural gas engine and vehicle company Westport Innovations Inc. has acquired Netherlands based Prins Autogassystemen Holding B.V. for €12.2 million (US$15.1 million) through a combination of €6.6 million (US$8.2 million) in assumed liabilities and €5.6 million (US$6.9 million) in cash.
Founded in 1986, Prins is a leading developer of high quality alternative fuel systems powered by liquefied petroleum gas (LPG or propane), compressed natural gas (CNG), and liquefied natural gas (LNG) for light-, medium-, and heavy-duty applications. Prins operations in Europe will be combined under the Westport Applied Technologies business unit.
Toyota Motor to consolidate development and production of diesel engines under TICO; manual transmissions under Aisin Seiki; brake systems under Advics
November 29, 2014
Toyota Industries Corporation (TICO) and Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) will consolidate their joint diesel engine development and production under the control of TICO. The purpose of this decision is to strengthen the competitiveness of both companies by bringing the development and production of diesel engines under one roof and enabling more efficient allocation of resources.
Further, Toyota is consolidating development and Japanese production of manual transmissions under Aisin Seiki subsidiary Aisin AI Co., Ltd. and will accelerate the consolidation of brake system engineering, manufacturing and sales under Advics, which was founded in July 2001 by Aisin Seiki, Denso, Sumitomo Electric, and TMC. (TMC, TICO, Aisin Seiki and Denso are part of the Toyota Group.)
Toyota bringing vehicle-infrastructure cooperative systems to some new models in Japan in 2015
November 26, 2014
Starting next year, some of Toyota Motor Corporation’s new models will be compatible with advanced vehicle-infrastructure cooperative systems that use a wireless frequency reserved for Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). This compatibility will be offered as an option for the “Toyota Safety Sense P” active safety package that will be made available in 2015 on select new models sold in Japan.
The systems will use the dedicated ITS frequency of 760 MHz for road-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-vehicle communication to gather information that cannot be obtained by onboard sensors. At intersections with poor visibility, information about oncoming vehicles and pedestrians detected by sensors above the road will be conveyed via road-to-vehicle communication, and information about approaching vehicles will be conveyed via vehicle-to-vehicle communication, with audio and visual alerts warning drivers when necessary.
IBM Research and ASELSAN to collaborate on metal-air battery technology, focusing on EVs; mm-wave ICs
November 25, 2014
IBM Research and Turkish defense industry technology company ASELSAN (Askerî Elektronik Sanayii, Military Electronic Industries) have signed collaborative development agreements concerning research and development of metal-air battery technologies and millimeter wave integrated circuits. The companies will work together on these projects, and through these efforts ASELSAN will enhance its in-house research and development activities.
In 2009, IBM and its partners launched a multi-year research initiative specifically exploring rechargeable Li-air systems (one type of metal-air battery): “The Battery 500 Project”. (Earlier post.) The “500” stands for a target range of 500 miles/800 km per charge, which translates into a battery capacity of about 125 kWh at an average use of 250 Wh/mile for a standard family car.
Tsinghua team devises in-cycle control method for diesel LTC using detection of Start of Combustion
Low temperature combustion (LTC) refers to a broad range of in-cylinder combustion strategies for the reduction of NOx emissions from diesel combustion; NOx is formed primarily by a thermal mechanism, which production rates increasing exponentially with temperature. LTC strategies reduce combustion temperatures by the dilution of the in-cylinder combustible mixtures, either with excess charge gas to create more fuel-lean mixtures, or with moderate to high levels of EGR.
However, challenges remain in diesel low temperature combustion implementation due to combustion inconsistency or instability. To address this, a team from Tsinghua University has devised an in-cycle combustion feedback control method based on the detection of the Start of Combustion (SOC) in diesel LTC. A paper describing their method is published in the journal Applied Energy.
Bus maker Alexander Dennis to fit GKN Gyrodrive flywheel hybrid systems to 250 buses; partners on international development
November 24, 2014
|Gyrodrive. Click to enlarge.|
Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL), Britain’s biggest bus and coach manufacturer, has chosen GKN Hybrid Power as a preferred partner and committed to the purchase of 250 of its Gyrodrive electric flywheel hybrid systems (earlier post). ADL will focus initially on the introduction of the low emission technology to bus fleets in London and Oxford but anticipates rapid deployment across the UK in the next few years. It will also be working closely with GKN to develop the technology for international markets.
Instead of a battery, the Gyrodrive system uses a magnetically loaded high-speed carbon-fiber flywheel to store the energy generated by a bus as it slows down to stop. It then utilizes the stored energy to power a GKN EVO electric motor which helps accelerate the bus back up to speed, generating significant fuel savings of up to around 25% at a considerably lower cost than battery-hybrid alternatives.
DSM wins SPE Automotive Innovation Award for bio-based EcoPaXX integrated crankshaft cover for Volkswagen Group diesels
November 14, 2014
|EcoPaXX crankshaft cover. Click to enlarge.|
A lightweight multi-functional crankshaft cover in Royal DSM’s EcoPaXX high-performance polyamide 410 was top in the Powertrain category at the Society of Plastics Engineers Automotive Division Innovation Awards Competition and Gala in Detroit. The 70% bio-based EcoPaXX is made principally from topical castor beans and is 100% carbon neutral from cradle to gate. Castor oil is obtained from the Ricinus Communis plant, which grows in tropical regions on relatively poor soil, and does not compete with the food-chain.
The EcoPaXX crankshaft cover is produced by DSM’s automotive component specialist partner KACO in Germany for the latest generation of MDB-4 TDI diesel engines developed by the Volkswagen Group. The engines are fitted to various car models made by VW, Audi, Seat and Škoda. Dr. Lutz Wohlfarth from Volkswagen, and Marcio Lima from KACO were both at the Gala in Detroit to collect the SPE award.
New Volvo XC90 debuts enhanced multi-filter that improves interior air quality
November 13, 2014
Volvo is introducing a larger, more efficient multi-filter in its cabins as part of its CleanZone initiative. CleanZone is an approach to controlling interior air quality and providing a better driving environment through innovative solutions for enhanced wellbeing and health. Drivers can breathe easier because most microscopic, hazardous “fine dust” particles will now be prevented from entering the car.
The multi-filter was designed especially for the SPA platform and will first appear in the all-new XC90 in the beginning of 2015. It features a larger design that intercepts more particulates and pollen, as well as a layer of active charcoal that effectively removes a range of contaminants that can impact the health of drivers.
Visio.M partners present new lightweight EV; 13.5 kWh pack delivers ~100 mile range
October 20, 2014
|Visio.M EV. Click to enlarge.|
The academic and industry partners in the Visio.M consortium (earlier post) are showcasing their new lightweight urban electric vehicle at eCarTec in Munich. The 2.5-year project was funded under the priority program “Key Technologies for Electric Mobility - STROM” of the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) with a total budget of €10.8 million (US$13.7 million).
The Visio.M has a range of around 160 kilometers (99 miles) and can accommodate two people with luggage. With only a 15 kW motor, the vehicle reaches a maximum speed of 120 km/h (75 mph). The electric motor in Visio.M draws its power from a lithium-ion battery pack behind the seats, which consists of consumer cells and provides a capacity of 13.5 kWh.
Visio.M researchers develop lightweight torque vectoring transmission for EVs; improved regen, better dynamics
October 15, 2014
|The lightweight torque vectoring transmission is applied in a Visio.M test vehicle. Click to enlarge.|
As part of the Visio.M project in Germany, researchers at the Technische Universität München (TUM), along with their colleagues in the consortium, have developed a lightweight torque vectoring transmission with characteristics that are optimally adapted to electric vehicles. The engineers at the Gear Research Center (FZG) at TUM focused on recouping as much braking energy as possible with the goal of enhancing the range of the vehicle.
Whereas drive torque conventionally is distributed evenly to the wheels of the drive axle, a torque vectoring system allocates torque between the wheels as required, noted FZG engineer Philipp Gwinner. This provides particularly good drive dynamics. As an example, when a vehicle accelerates in a curve, greater torque is applied to the outside wheel. The car steers itself into the curve. The result: greater agility and, at the same time, safer road handling.
EPA annual trends report finds new vehicle fuel economy at record 24.1 mpg; new powertrain technologies rapidly gaining share
October 10, 2014
EPA released the latest edition of its annual report on trends in CO2 emissions, fuel economy and powertrain technology for new personal vehicles in the US. Among the top-level findings was that Model year 2013 vehicles achieved an average of 24.1 mpg (9.76 l/100 km)—a 0.5 mpg increase over the previous year and an increase of nearly 5 mpg since 2004. Fuel economy has now increased in eight of the last nine years; average carbon dioxide emissions are also at a record low of 369 g/mile in model year 2013. The majority of the carbon and oil savings from current vehicles is due to new gasoline vehicle technologies, the report observed.
The report, “Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 Through 2014”, also found that the light truck market share increased slightly in MY 2013, after several years of volatility; that the vehicle weight trend is flat and vehicle power trend is increasing more slowly; that many new powertrain technologies are rapidly gaining market share; and that consumers have an increasing number of high fuel economy/low CO2 vehicle choices.
Researchers find isolated Pd atoms efficient low-temperature catalysts to convert CO in automotive exhaust
October 08, 2014
Researchers have found that isolated palladium atoms on γ-alumina supports along with a small amount of lanthanum oxide can efficiently turn the carbon monoxide in automotive exhaust into carbon dioxide at temperatures as low as 40 ˚Celsius, potentially reducing toxins emitted by vehicle exhaust—especially at start-up—and replacing or reducing the need for platinum in automotive catalytic converters.
The catalyst activity can be regenerated by oxidation at 700 °C in air. The high-temperature stability and regenerability of these ionic palladium species make this catalyst system of potential interest for low-temperature exhaust treatment catalysts, the researchers suggested in a recent paper in the journal Nature Communications.
GKN develops all-wheel drive disconnect system for A-, B-, C-segments; fuel economy improvement up to 4%
October 07, 2014
GKN has developed the first Disconnect All-Wheel Drive System for A-, B- and C-segment vehicle platforms. The innovative disconnect function enables vehicles to combine the enhanced traction, dynamics and stability of all-wheel drive with improved on-highway fuel efficiency.
The system responds to driver inputs and road conditions, connecting and disengaging drive to the rear axle on demand. By eliminating rotating losses from the driveline, during steady state cruising fuel efficiency can be improved by up to 4% compared to permanent all-wheel drive systems.
2015 VW Jetta TDI: a more refined, powerful and efficient diesel within a nicely redesigned model line
|2015 Jetta TDI. Click to enlarge.|
The Jetta is Volkswagen’s current best selling car in the US; total 2014 Jetta sales through September were 115,055 units, or 42.5% of Volkswagen USA total sales. In addition, its diesel version is the top selling passenger car diesel in the market here, with about 29% share, according to figures compiled by Baum & Associates and hybridcars.com.
For 2015, Volkswagen has refined the entire sixth-generation Jetta lineup, endowing the compact with a crisper exterior design which also improves aerodynamics; an updated interior; a number of newly available driver assistance systems; and, significantly for the diesel model, the new 2.0T TDI Clean Diesel EA288 engine (earlier post) with an EPA-rated highway fuel economy rating of 46 mpg with the manual transmission (45 mpg automatic). Volkswagen’s refreshed 2015 Jetta is now in showrooms in the US.
ONR developing offensive autonomous swarming capability for unmanned surface vehicles; adapting JPL’s CARACaS
October 05, 2014
The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is developing an autonomous offensive swarming capability for unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) not only to protect Navy ships, but also, for the first time, to attack hostile vessels.
The technology under development—based on the Control Architecture for Robotic Agent Command and Sensing (CARACaS) developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)—can be put into a transportable kit and installed on almost any boat. It allows boats to operate autonomously, without a Sailor physically needing to be at the controls. Capabilities include operating in sync with other unmanned vessels; choosing their own routes; swarming to interdict enemy vessels; and escorting/protecting naval assets.
New “2-in-1” EV unit integrates traction motor and A/C compressor for increased range in hot climates
October 01, 2014
Engineers from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) have designed a “2-in-1” electric motor unit which can increase the range of electric vehicles in hot climates. This innovative electric machine integrates the A/C compressor, the compressor drive motor and the traction motor into a single housing physically clutching with the compressor during braking events.
The approach unifies the EV traction and compressor drives into a single housing which drive together during braking events. Based on simulations and analysis, the team expects the system to reduce battery consumption by at least 3% compared to existing mechanisms while improving the regenerative energy capturing capacity of the system by 8%. Overall, the novel design could increase the range of electric vehicles by an additional 15 to 20% with other modifications, the researchers suggested.
Westport updates HPDI 2.0 dual fuel system with new Delphi injectors, upgraded LNG storage and supply
|1st-generation Westport HPDI Injector and next-generation injector. (CNW Group/Westport Innovations Inc. Click to enlarge.|
Westport Innovations Inc. is updating its second-generation Westport high pressure direct injection (Westport HPDI 2.0) (earlier post) development program with a new family of high-pressure fuel injectors, co-developed with Delphi Automotive PLC. The new injectors are designed to provide lower cost, smaller size and improved packaging compared to prior generation Westport HPDI injector designs.
The new generation injectors are running in engine tests today and are on display at the Delphi booth at the IAA Commercial Vehicles Show in Hanover, Germany.
GMZ Energy announces new, high-power thermoelectric module: TG16-1.0
|TG16. Click to enlarge.|
GMZ Energy, a developer of high temperature thermoelectric generation (TEG) solutions, has introduced the TG16-1.0, a new thermoelectric module capable of producing twice the power of the company’s first product, the TG8-1.0. By doubling the power density, GMZ’s new module substantially increases performance while maintaining a minimal footprint.
GMZ has been using TG8 modules in developing vehicular thermoelectric generators for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle (1 kW TEG) as well as to design and to integrate a light-duty vehicle TEG into a Honda Accord as part of a DOE-funded project. (Earlier post.)
Honeywell Global Turbo Forecast projects 49M turbocharged vehicle sales, $12B revenue per year by 2019
September 30, 2014
The automotive turbocharging industry will generate $12 billion in revenue by equipping 49 million vehicles with turbochargers annually by 2019, according to Honeywell Turbo Technologies’ 2014 Global Turbo Forecast. The continued growth of turbocharging technologies will be driven by requirements for manufacturers to meet global environmental emissions regulations and bolstered by strong demand in emerging markets.
Automakers are turning to downsized turbocharged engines to satisfy more stringent global fuel economy and emission regulations and customer demand for better-performing vehicles. Turbochargers can help downsized engines improve fuel economy as much as 20 to 40% in gasoline and diesel engines, respectively, when compared with larger naturally aspirated engines and still provide the same or better engine performance. In addition to improving fuel efficiency, downsized turbocharged engines also reduce harmful exhaust emissions.
ORNL team using neutron imaging to study cavitation inside GDI fuel injector
September 22, 2014
Researchers from the Fuels, Engines and Emissions Research Center (FEERC) at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and collaborators from ORNL’s High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) (earlier post) are using neutron imaging to study the formation of damage-causing bubbles in fuel injectors. When gas bubbles form in injectors, they disrupt the spray pattern and ultimately deteriorate the injector material properties.
Under a Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) project, the team, led by Eric Nafziger, Derek Splitter and Todd Toops from FEERC/ORNL, is attempting to make the first neutron images of cavitation—the physical event that leads to bubble/gas formation—inside the body of a spray-guided gasoline direct-injection (SGDI) unmodified 6-hole injector.
MAHLE NanoNapier Steel piston ring helps reduce weight and improve quality
September 18, 2014
MAHLE has developed a piston ring with new technology that offers engine manufacturers improvements in weight, quality and overall value. MAHLE’s new “second” piston ring uses chrome-silicon steel to replace cast iron traditionally used for the second of three rings found on gasoline-powered spark-ignition engines. MAHLE’s thinner, lighter-weight steel-wire design for the second ring is based on the company’s own NanoNapier Steel (NNS) technology for which a patent is pending.
Conventionally, there are two types of piston rings: compression and oil control. A piston assembly includes one or more compression rings that generate a seal between the outer surface of the piston and the wall of the cylinder to prevent high-pressure combustion gases and air from escaping the combustion chamber. Today’s engines have three piston rings: two compression rings: top (or first) and second and the oil control ring. The second ring is known as a Napier ring.
Ford introduces new C-MAX and Grand C-MAX with standard Start-Stop on new EcoBoost and diesel engines
September 17, 2014
|New Ford C-MAX. Click to enlarge.|
Ford of Europe has unveiled the new C-MAX and Grand C-MAX prior to the Paris Motor Show. The models offer significantly improved CO2 figures and for the first time feature as standard Ford’s Auto-Start-Stop technology on EcoBoost gasoline and 2.0-liter TDCi diesel engines. The most improved model is expected to offer a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions.
The new C-MAX family powertrain line-up is being extended to include Ford’s fuel-efficient new 1.5-liter EcoBoost gasoline engine with 150 PS (110 kW) and 182 PS (134 kW), and also will be offered with Ford’s new 1.5-liter TDCi diesel engine, delivering 95 PS (70 kW) or 120 PS (88 kW), and a new ECOnetic version that is expected to deliver 99 g/km CO2 in the five-seat C-MAX. The C-MAX family will continue to be offered with 100 PS (74 kW) and 125 PS (92 kW) versions of the multi-award winning 1.0-liter EcoBoost gasoline engine.
Ford reveals all-new S-MAX; Adaptive Steering Technology
Ford of Europe revealed the all-new S‑MAX seven-seat sports activity vehicle. The new S-MAX will debut Ford Adaptive Steering technology in Europe for optimized response to driver input when it goes on sale in 2015. It will also offer Intelligent All-Wheel Drive and a range of powertrains—including a new 1.5-liter EcoBoost gasoline engine.
S-MAX will also be the first Ford globally to feature Ford Dynamic LED Headlamps with Glare-Free Highbeam that maintain maximum illumination without distracting other road users. Ford’s advanced Pre-Collision Assist technology will assist in mitigating accidents even at motorway speeds.
Renault Trucks’ Optifuel Lab 2 lab vehicle integrates technologies for more efficient big rigs; road test results coming in 2015
September 11, 2014
Renault Trucks’ heavy-duty Optifuel Lab 2 laboratory vehicle brings together various technologies designed to reduce fuel consumption in heavy-duty trucks and to prepare the way for future production models. Renault Trucks will display a scale model of Optifuel Lab 2 at the upcoming IAA. The vehicle is currently on the road to calculate the fuel savings it can achieve. These figures will be announced during the first quarter of 2015.
Optifuel Lab 2 has 20 technologies on board, each one of which addresses the four main issues associated with consumption: energy management, aerodynamics, wheel resistance and driving aids. Based on a Renault Trucks T, Optifuel Lab 2 is an ongoing version of the Optifuel Lab 1 introduced in 2009. The project has been developed with support from eight partners: Plastic Omnium, Michelin, Sunpower, Renault, IFP Energies Nouvelles, CEP-Armines, CETHIL-INSA from Lyon and LMFA-Ecole Centrale from Lyon. It is also supported by ADEMA, the French Agency for the Environment and Energy Control.
Audi moving ahead with 48V system in vehicles; mild hybrids
August 25, 2014
Audi will upgrade part of its vehicle electrical system from 12 to 48 volts. The move represents another technical building block for facilitating the integration of new automotive technologies while increasing the power and efficiency of its cars.
Audi recently showcased the scope of the 48-volt electrical system with the two technology demonstrators Audi A6 TDI concept and RS 5 TDI concept. (Earlier post.) Both models are fitted with an electrically powered compressor. This operates independently of the engine load and therefore fundamentally improves the acceleration performance. 48-volt technology is also suited for realizing convenience systems for dynamic chassis control. Audi will shortly be unveiling a variety of applications in this field.
NHTSA releases advanced notice of proposed rulemaking on V2V, supporting research report
August 18, 2014
The US Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) and a supporting comprehensive research report on vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications technology. NHTSA is working to deliver a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by 2016.
The report will include analysis of the Department’s research findings in several key areas including technical feasibility, privacy and security, and preliminary estimates on costs and safety benefits, while the ANPRM seeks public input on these findings to support the Department’s regulatory work to eventually require V2V devices in new light vehicles.
DOE to award more than $55M to 31 projects for plug-in and efficient vehicle technologies; Delphi receives $10M to further GDCI
August 14, 2014
The US Department of Energy (DOE) is awarding more than $55 million to 31 new projects to accelerate research and development of vehicle technologies that will improve fuel efficiency and reduce costs under a program-wide funding opportunity announced in January. (DE-FOA-0000991, earlier post.) These new projects are aimed at meeting the goals and objectives of the President’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge (19 projects), as well as improvements in other vehicle technologies such as powertrains, fuel, tires and auxiliary systems (12 projects).
The largest single award ($10 million) goes to Delphi Automotive Systems to further the development of its Gasoline Direct-Injection Compression Ignition (GDCI) low-temperature combustion technology (earlier post) that provides high thermal efficiency with low NOx and PM emissions. The largest number of awards (9) in a single area of interest goes to developing beyond Li-ion battery technologies.
GMZ-led project tracking to deliver vehicular thermoelectric generators for Bradley Fighting Vehicle, Honda Accord
August 11, 2014
|The assembled 200W TEG tested in June delivered 270W of output. Click to enlarge.|
GMZ Energy and its partners are on track to deliver a 1 kW thermoelectric generator (TEG) for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle as well as to design and to integrate a light-duty vehicle TEG into a Honda Accord as part of a DOE-funded project. Thermoelectric materials convert temperature differences into electric voltage; a TEG in a vehicle is designed to convert waste heat to power. GMZ Energy, a provider of advanced nano-structured thermoelectric generation technology, was co-founded by MIT’s Professor Gang Chen and collaborator Zhifeng Ren of the University of Houston.
The project is using Half-Heusler (HH) thermoelectric materials (earlier post) in designing the vehicular TEG systems. Although these materials (ferromagnetic intermetallic alloys with a strong crystal structure that allows great stability at high temperatures) have a ZT (dimensionless figure of merit) lower than some other TE materials such as Skutterudites, the mechanical strength and the reliability of HH compensates for this deficit, according to GMZ.
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.
97% of US buyers opted for 2.5L stop/start base engine on 2014, 2015 Malibu
July 23, 2014
|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.
Two Audi TDI technology studies with electric biturbo, 48V electrical systems; both technologies to go into series production
July 17, 2014
|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.
Continental supplying first turbocharger with aluminum housing
July 15, 2014
|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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
CMU demo’ing Autonomous SRX in Washington this week
June 25, 2014
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.)
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%.
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.
ABB: tests show up to 27% fuel savings on ship with Onboard DC Grid
June 16, 2014
|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.
Dearman Engine signs MOU with Hubbard Products for integration of liquid air engine TRU; report details liquid air benefits
June 04, 2014
|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.
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.
Environment Canada/MECA team assesses black carbon emissions in GDI engine exhaust; evaluation of prototype gasoline particulate filter
June 02, 2014
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.
DENSO develops a new low-cost fuel injection system for small motorcycles
May 30, 2014
|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.
Volkswagen provides first technical details of Gen 8 Passat, including plug-in hybrid drive; multiple new assistance systems
May 27, 2014
|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).
New Ford Transit debuts with new two-wet monocoat paint technology; improved durability and sustainability
|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.
CAM/PwC name Volkswagen Group most innovative global automotive company, Mercedes-Benz most innovative brand
May 12, 2014
|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.
Bosch offering range of complete powertrains for two-wheelers; Asia and smartphones
May 08, 2014
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.
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.
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.
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.
Subaru introduces 5th-gen AWD Outback with up to 10% improvement in fuel economy
April 17, 2014
|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.
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.
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.
SwRI D-EGR gasoline demo vehicle delivers diesel efficiency at lower cost; potential for LEV III/Tier 3 emissions
April 09, 2014
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.
Volkswagen Group’s MQB plug-in hybrid powertrain; foundation for Golf GTE, A3 e-tron, and more
April 03, 2014
|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.
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).
Kenworth and Peterbilt introduce more fuel-efficient Class 8 trucks
March 27, 2014
|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.
Volvo Car and Flybrid vehicle testing showing flywheel KERS can deliver fuel savings up to 25%, with significant performance boost
March 26, 2014
|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.
Toyota and partners develop vehicle-to-vehicle copper recycling technology
March 25, 2014
|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.
EU approves Mercedes-Benz ECO Thermo engine cover as fuel-saving Eco-innovation
March 18, 2014
|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.
Volvo Cars developing systems for Driver State Estimation; driver sensors
March 17, 2014
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.
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.
ATDynamics projects 200,000 semi-trailers to be equipped with fuel-saving rear-drag aerodynamics technology by end of 2017
March 11, 2014
|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.
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.
Maxwell Technologies introduces ultracapacitor-based engine start module for medium-duty diesel trucks
March 05, 2014
|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.