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Vehicle Systems

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

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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Mitsubishi Electric introduces new in-vehicle noise reduction system, next-generation infotainment system

May 19, 2015

Mitsubishi Electric, long active in reducing automotive in-cabin noise attributable to engines, is introducing an advanced Active Noise Control (ANC) system that cancels less predictable and harmonically unrelated road sounds. Named FLEXConnect.ANC, the system uses advanced XSe ANC technology developed by Mentor Graphics, minimizing engine and road noise to provide a quiet, comfortable environment in the cabin of the vehicle.

FLEXConnect.ANC joins Mitsubishi Electric’s existing Ethernet-enabled architectures: FLEXConnect.RSE (Rear Seat Entertainment) and IFLEXConnect.IVI (In-Vehicle Infotainment). The company also announced its new generation of FLEXConnect.IVI systems. FLEXConnect.IVI provides a cost effective, yet intuitive, three-screen user interface. By combining swipe and touchscreen technology, the user can easily and safely interact with the heads-up display and instrument cluster on the center panel.

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Review of research suggests inconclusive support for fuel consumption benefits of catalyzed EGR

May 18, 2015

Conflicting evidence does not support making a firm conclusion on the fuel consumption benefit of catalysed Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR), according to a review of current studies by a team at the University of Bath (UK). In catalyzed EGR, a catalyst alters the chemical composition of the exhaust gas mix before its reintroduction to the engine. As an example, one study found a decrease in fuel consumption of up to 2%, while another found an increase of 1.5%-3.5%.

According to the review, the conversion of HCs, CO, and NO in the exhaust gas by the catalyst can result in up to a 4.5% reduction (in extreme cases) in the calorific value of the charge for catalyzed EGR when compared to equivalent operation with un-catalyzed EGR; this reduction in calorific value has a negative impact on the achievable BSFC. An open access paper on the study (an update of an earlier version published late last year) appears in the International Journal of Engine Research.

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Volvo Trucks introduces automatic all-wheel drive for improved driveability and fuel economy

May 13, 2015

Volvo Trucks is introducing automatic all wheel drive—a feature it calls Automatic Traction Control—on construction trucks. ATC activates the drive on the front axle automatically when in motion, if the truck risks getting stuck—i.e., when the rear wheels lose traction on slippery or soft ground. The driver enjoys improved maneuverability, and the owner benefits from lower fuel consumption and less wear and tear on the truck.

The solution consists of software connected to the wheel speed sensors which detect and control wheel drive. When a rear wheel starts to slip, the power moves automatically to the front wheels without the truck losing torque or speed. A dog clutch activates the front-wheel drive in just half a second. The clutch is lighter and has fewer moving parts than a traditional solution with permanent all-wheel drive. If the driver encounters particularly rough ground, then it is possible to manually lock the other differentials at both front and rear.

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Ford exploring cylinder deactivation for 1.0L EcoBoost; testing shows up to 6% fuel efficiency improvement

May 12, 2015

Ford, in collaboration with the Schaeffler Group, is investigating different cylinder deactivation approaches on its award-winning 1.0-liter, three-cylinder EcoBoost engine. On-road tests using a working prototype showed fuel efficiency improvements of up to 6%, according to Dr. Andreas Schamel, director, Ford Global Powertrain, Research & Advanced Engineering in Vienna last week.

For the test, the engineers also developed a new dual mass flywheel. This enabled cylinder deactivation to take place at a wider range of engine loads and speeds, and helped minimize noise, vibration and harshness levels.

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Audi power-dense 2.5L TFSI engine with electric biturbo delivers 591 hp from 2,480 cc; 48V subsystem for the turbo

May 09, 2015

At the Wörthersee festival, Audi is showcasing the Audi TT clubsport turbo technology concept equipped with a new 2.5 TFSI gasoline engine with an electric biturbo (earlier post) that delivers 441 kW (591 hp) and 650 N·m (479.4 lb-ft), with acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 3.6 seconds. Peak torque is available from 3,000 to 7,000 rpm. Power is transferred via a manual six-speed transmission.

While production car engines with this level of output are available from a number of mainstream OEMs, the displacement of the Audi engine is about half or less that of the others, resulting in a very power- and torque-dense unit. The five-cylinder, 2,480 cc engine produces 178 kW (239 hp) and 262 N·m (193 lb-ft) per liter of displacement. By comparison:

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OEMs shifting towards onboard chargers > 6 kW for EVs; lower output chargers to remain dominant through 2020

May 05, 2015

Most battery and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) manufacturers in Europe and the US have been adopting onboard chargers with a power output between 3 to 3.7 kilowatts (kW). Now, EV manufacturers are moving towards onboard chargers with a power output greater than 6.6 kW to reduce charging time.

While high-end PHEVs are contributing to this trend, lower-end models in this segment are still using 3.7 kW onboard chargers. Consequently, onboard chargers with power ratings between 3 to 3.7 kW are expected to remain dominant, accounting for 62% of sales even in 2020, according to new analysis from Frost & Sullivan.

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HRL Labs video demonstrates principle of thermal battery based on advanced metal hydrides for EV heating and cooling

April 30, 2015

In 2011, the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) awarded $2.7 million to a team comprising researchers from the University of Utah, HRL Laboratories and GM Global R&D for a project to develop a new generation of high-density thermal battery based on advanced metal hydrides. (Earlier post.) The goal of the project, part of ARPA-E’s HEATS (High Energy Advanced Thermal Storage) portfolio, was to develop a compact thermal battery for climate control in electric vehicles. Such a thermal battery would provide heating and cooling without draining the electric battery, in effect, extending the driving range of EVs per electric charge.

As described in a paper in press in the Journal of Alloys and Compounds, the developed system uses a pair of thermodynamically matched metal hydrides as energy storage media: (1) catalyzed MgH2 as the high temperature hydride material, due to its high energy density and enhanced kinetics; and (2) TiV0.62Mn1.5 alloy as the matching low temperature hydride. HRL has now released a video demonstrating the principle behind the work on thermal battery technology.

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Visio.M partners showcasing energy efficient passenger climate control for EVs

April 15, 2015

As part of the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) collaborative project Visio.M (earlier post, earlier post), scientists of the TU München have developed an energy efficient solution for passenger climate control in EVs. The researchers are presenting the results of their work, as implemented in the Visio.M prototype vehicle, in the German government stand at the Hannover Messe.

In a combustion-engined vehicle, waste heat could be used to heat the vehicle passenger compartments directly. Many electric vehicles simply took over concepts from the combustion engined vehicles—e.g., a heater and an air conditioner. However, the energy drain of this approach can put a noticeable dent in vehicle range. The Visio.M researchers thus took a new look at all potential solutions, considering their efficiency, comfort and cost.

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Jaguar introduces Gen 2, aluminum-intensive XF; up to 60 mpg US with diesel Ingenium engine

April 02, 2015

Jaguar has unveiled the second-generation, all-new Jaguar XF at the New York International Auto Show. The coupé-like design uses Jaguar’s aluminum-intensive (75% aluminum) architecture (earlier post) to enable weight savings of up to 190 kg (419 lbs)—making the 163PS diesel model 80 kg (176 lbs) lighter than the nearest competitor—plus an increase in torsional stiffness of up to 28%. The architecture also delivers improvements in packaging and proportions.

The powertrain range will consist of: 163PS (161 hp, 120 kW) and 180PS (178 hp, 132 kW) 2.0-liter diesel manual and automatic; RWD, 240PS (237 hp, 177 kW) 2.0-liter gasoline automatic; RWD, 300PS (296 hp, 221 kW) 3.0-liter diesel automatic; RWD and AWD, 340PS (335 hp, 250 kW) and 380PS (375 hp, 279 kW) 3.0-liter gasoline automatic. With fuel economy as low as 60 mpg US (3.94 l/100 km) (104 g/km CO2) on the European combined cycle from the Ingenium diesel (earlier post), the all-new XF delivers an improvement of almost 20% compared to its predecessor.

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Toyota and Lexus roll-out low-cost automated braking safety packages on RAV4 Hybrid and RX crossover

March 30, 2015

At separate press conferences Wednesday and Thursday at the New York Auto Show, Toyota will reveal the RAV4 Hybrid SUV, while Lexus unveils its all-new fourth-generation RX luxury crossover SUV. Both debuts will mark the arrival of new, multi-feature, integrated safety packages, each anchored by automated pre-collision braking and offered at a price below comparable systems across the auto industry.

Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) and Lexus Safety System+ (LSS+) are designed to support the driver’s awareness, decision making and vehicle operation over a wide range of speeds. Packaged together in an integrated system, their features help address three key areas of accident protection: preventing or mitigating rear collisions; keeping drivers within their lane; and enhancing road safety during night time driving. The systems are intended to address commonly occurring crash types according to traffic accident statistical analyses.

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Toyota progress report on TNGA; half of vehicles sold in 2020 to feature new platforms

March 27, 2015

In 2012, Toyota Motor introduced its new development framework, the Toyota New Global Architecture. (Earlier post.) Designed to balance product advances with cost reductions, TNGA supports the grouping of the development of new vehicles to promote strategic sharing of parts and powertrain components. One goal is the reduction of resources required for development by 20% or more.

Toyota recently provided an update and an outlook on its progress with TNGA, focusing on new vehicle development (powertrain components and vehicle platforms) as well as production systems.

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SABIC introduces novel thermoplastic roof fairing concept for 3% improvement in heavy-duty truck fuel economy

March 26, 2015

SABIC has introduced a thermoplastic roof fairing concept that can potentially reduce annual fuel consumption of a heavy-duty truck by at least 3%. SABIC’s design concept is aerodynamically optimized to deflect air by accelerating airflow through and across the top and sides of the roof fairing. The result is a significant drop in drag, up to 5.9%, improving the aerodynamic performance and fuel efficiency of a heavy-duty truck.

SABIC’s new thermoplastic roof fairing concept incorporates air ducts to reduce front end pressure and accelerate airflow both over the surface and through the fairing itself. Conventional roof fairings, in contrast, achieve aerodynamic efficiencies simply by maximizing airflow over smooth, closed surfaces.

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New ABB Azipod D for electric marine propulsion requires 25% less installed power, boosts flexibility

March 25, 2015

Pod
Azipod D. Click to enlarge.

ABB has introduced a new offering, Azipod D, to its line of Azipod marine electric propulsion systems. This new product will allow a wider range of vessel types to benefit from the proven reliability and flexibility that have made Azipod the leading propulsion system across numerous ship types.

Azipod Propulsion is a gearless steerable propulsion system in which the electric drive motor is in a submerged pod outside the ship hull. A ship with Azipod Propulsion does not need rudders, long shaftlines or stern transversal thrusters. This new Azipod D provides designers and ship builders with increased design flexibility in order to accommodate a wide range of hull shapes and propeller sizes, as well as simplicity of installation. The Azipod D requires up to 25% less installed power. This is partly due to the fact that the new hybrid (air and water) cooling helps reduce the thruster’s weight and directs more power toward propulsion of the ship, not cooling requirements. The performance of the electric motor is increased by up to 45%.

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Renault Trucks Optifuel Lab 2 vehicle results: reduction in fuel consumption by 22% compared to conventional truck

March 19, 2015

Following several months of road trials and test bench programs adding up to the equivalent of 20,000 km (12,427 miles), Renault Trucks Optifuel Lab 2 laboratory vehicle (earlier post) is recording fuel consumption 22% lower than that of a production Renault Trucks T. This means 7.2 liters of diesel are saved for every 100 km covered, together with a 194 g reduction of CO2 emissions for every kilometre travelled.

Optifuel Lab 2 has been equipped with 20 technologies, each of which meet four major challenges associated with consumption: energy management, aerodynamics, rolling 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.

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Delphi Automotive launching coast-to-coast automated drive

March 15, 2015

Delphi Automotive is launching a US coast-to-coast automated drive—the longest automated drive ever attempted in North America—to showcase its technology capabilities and to gather data and further advance the company’s active safety technology development in this rapidly growing segment of the auto industry. The coast-to-coast trip will launch near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on 22 March and will cover approximately 3,500 miles.

Recently demonstrated on the streets of Las Vegas at CES 2015, Delphi’s Audi SQ5 automated driving vehicle leverages a full suite of technologies and features to make this trip possible, including:

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Opel developing eye-tracking technology to guide headlights

March 12, 2015

Engineers at Opel, in collaboration with the Technical University of Darmstadt, are developing eye-tracking technology for application in a third-generation of automotive adaptive lighting that will be introduced after the current AFL+ bi-xenon system. The concept is that the driver’s eye movements will control the direction and intensity of light.

High-performance eye-tracking systems can require 5 to 10 cameras; for the Opel system, the researchers began with a simple webcam. Focused on the driver’s head, it scanned prominent points, such as the nose and eyes, to detect movement and thereby the driver’s line of sight.

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Mobileye unveils Gen4 system-on-chip EyeQ4; visual processing for ADAS and automated driving; design win for 2018

March 05, 2015

Mobileye N.V., a designer and developer of camera-based Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) for the automotive industry, introduced its 4th-generation system-on-chip, the EyeQ4. Leveraging the company’s more than 15 years of expertise in designing computer-vision specific cores, the EyeQ4 consists of 14 computing cores out of which 10 are specialized vector accelerators with extremely high utilization for visual processing and understanding.

The first design win for EyeQ4 in series production has been secured for a global premium European car manufacturer for production to start in early 2018. The EyeQ4 would be part of a scalable camera system starting from monocular processing for collision avoidance applications, in compliance with EU NCAP, US NHSTA and other regulatory requirements, up to trifocal camera configuration supporting high-end customer functions including semi-autonomous driving. The EyeQ4 would support fusion with radars and scanning-beam lasers in the high-end customer functions.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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

February 02, 2015

Blickpunkt_ESKAM_Achse_1_310
Electric drive axle module with two motors and integrated power electronics. Groschopp AG. Click to enlarge.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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New GM/Tula DSF cylinder deactivation technology could boost fuel efficiency in engines by up to 15%

January 05, 2015

Tula
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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Bus maker Alexander Dennis to fit GKN Gyrodrive flywheel hybrid systems to 250 buses; partners on international development

November 24, 2014

GKN Hybrid Power Gyrodrive technology
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.

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DSM wins SPE Automotive Innovation Award for bio-based EcoPaXX integrated crankshaft cover for Volkswagen Group diesels

November 14, 2014

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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.

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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.

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Visio.M partners present new lightweight EV; 13.5 kWh pack delivers ~100 mile range

October 20, 2014

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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.

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Visio.M researchers develop lightweight torque vectoring transmission for EVs; improved regen, better dynamics

October 15, 2014

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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2015 VW Jetta TDI: a more refined, powerful and efficient diesel within a nicely redesigned model line

2015 Jetta TDI Static 1
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.

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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.

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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.

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Westport updates HPDI 2.0 dual fuel system with new Delphi injectors, upgraded LNG storage and supply

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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.

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GMZ Energy announces new, high-power thermoelectric module: TG16-1.0

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Ford introduces new C-MAX and Grand C-MAX with standard Start-Stop on new EcoBoost and diesel engines

September 17, 2014

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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GMZ-led project tracking to deliver vehicular thermoelectric generators for Bradley Fighting Vehicle, Honda Accord

August 11, 2014

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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.

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

July 27, 2014

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

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

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

July 23, 2014

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

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

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

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

July 17, 2014

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

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

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

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Continental supplying first turbocharger with aluminum housing

July 15, 2014

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

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

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

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

July 11, 2014

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

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

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

July 10, 2014

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

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

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

July 03, 2014

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

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

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

June 26, 2014

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

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

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CMU demo’ing Autonomous SRX in Washington this week

June 25, 2014

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

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

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

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

June 24, 2014

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

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

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