[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.]
SMDI design study produces twist beam concept that reduces mass ~30% relative to baseline assembly
December 06, 2013
|Twist beam assembly mass comparison. Click to enlarge.|
Results of a new design study for a lightweight steel proof-of-concept twist beam (used in suspensions) by the Steel Market Development Institute’s (SMDI) Automotive Applications Council indicate that the preferred U-Beam Design based on 22MnB5 tubular construction with DP780 and SPFH540 sheet achieves a 30.0% mass reduction relative to the baseline assembly, at a 12–15% premium in manufacturing cost at production volumes of 30,000 to 250,000 vehicles per year, respectively.
An S-Beam Design based on 22MnB5 sheet, DP780 tube and HSLA550 materials was predicted to have a 14.9% mass reduction relative to the baseline assembly. The objective of the study was to develop a twist beam design achieving a 15–25% mass reduction with equivalent structural and elasto-kinematic performance relative to the baseline design at a ≤ 10% cost premium.
Ford researchers present physics-based model of mass-induced fuel consumption for better insight into lightweighting benefits
November 25, 2013
A pair of researchers from Ford Motor Company’s Systems Analytics and Environmental Sciences Department in Dearborn have developed a novel physics-based model of mass-induced fuel (MIF) consumption which can be used in vehicle life cycle assessments to provide better insight—i.e., from a more firm scientific foundation—on the potential benefits of lightweighting.
To illustrate the method, they used their model to estimate the MIF values for 2013 model year internal combustion engined using the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) fuel economy certification data. They found MIF values in the range of 0.2−0.5 L/(100 km 100 kg). As described in a paper on their work in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, the results showed that lightweighting has the most benefit when applied to vehicles with high fuel consumption and high power.
Canada awards $30M to 10 automotive R&D projects; from electrified powertrains to hot stamping
October 28, 2013
The Government of Canada has awarded C$30 million (US$29 million) through the Automotive Partnership Canada (APC) initiative to 10 university-industry partnerships to advance innovative automotive technologies. With a total project value of more than C$52 million (US$50 million), the funding includes some $22 million from industry and other partners.
The largest award from APC is $8,928,200 to the McMaster University-Chrysler partnership (earlier post) for the development of next generation electrified powertrains. (Earlier post.) However, the selected projects include a range of technologies from hot stamping of parts to hydrogen fuel cell stacks.
Volvo Car Group testing lightweight structural energy storage material applied in trunk lid and plenum cover
October 17, 2013
Volvo Car Group—the only automaker participating in a 3.5-year EU-funded project developing a prototype material which can store and discharge electrical energy and which is also strong and lightweight enough to be used for car parts (earlier post)—has created two components for the testing and further development of the technology. These are a trunk lid and a plenum cover, tested within the Volvo S80.
The material combines carbon fibers and a polymer resin, creating a very advanced nanomaterial, and structural supercapacitors. The material can be moulded and formed to fit around the car’s frame in locations such as the door panels, the trunk lid and wheel bowl, substantially saving on space.
New manufacturing technologies deliver lighter and stiffer 2014 Corvette
October 07, 2013
|Aluminum resistance spot welding in Bowling Green. (Photo by Joe Imel for Chevrolet) Click to enlarge.|
General Motors’ $131-million investment in technology at the Bowling Green Assembly Plant, such as the first production use of a GM-patented process allowing aluminum to be spot welded to aluminum (earlier post), is producing the strongest and most precisely built Corvette in its six-decade history.
The new technologies enable more accurate and efficiently produced subassemblies, such as the frame and the components attached to it. Enhanced, laser-based three-dimensional inspection systems verify overall assembly tolerances targeted to be 25% tighter than the previous-generation Corvette.
Chrysler Group files S-1 for IPO; snapshot of R&D priorities; exploring a light-duty hydraulic hybrid
September 24, 2013
Chrysler Group LLC has filed a registration statement on Form S-1 with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) relating to a proposed initial public offering of common shares. Details of the offering—i.e., number of shares and price range—are yet to be determined.
However, the document not only provides a detailed look at the finances of the company, it also provides a quick recap of recent technology developments and some insight into the company’s immediate research priorities. Chrysler writes that its has “made the development of more fuel-efficient vehicles a priority to meet retail consumer preferences, comply with future regulations and as part of our commitment to sustainability.”
ORNL study finds aluminum-intensive vehicles can deliver up to 29% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to typical steel-bodied vehicle
September 20, 2013
|Lifecycle energy findings. Source: Sujit Das, ORNL. Click to enlarge.|
A lifecycle study of aluminum-intensive vehicles by Sujit Das at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) found that an aluminum-intensive vehicle can achieve up to a 32% reduction in total lifecycle energy consumption, and up to a 29% reduction in CO2 emissions, compared to a typical vehicle on the road today which uses traditional and high-strength steel in the body construction.
The study, underwritten by The Aluminum Association, performed a full cradle-to-grave analysis (primary metal production; autoparts manufacturing and assembly; use; semi-fabrication material production; transportation; and end-of-life metals recycling) on three modeled vehicle types: a baseline steel vehicle; a lightweight steel vehicle (LWSV); and an aluminum intensive vehicle (AIV).
ARPA-E selects 33 projects for $66M in awards; advanced biocatalysts for gas-to-liquids and lightweight metals
September 19, 2013
The US Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) is awarding around $66 million to 33 projects under two new programs. One program, Reducing Emissions using Methanotrophic Organisms for Transportation Energy (REMOTE, earlier post), provides $34 million to 15 projects to find advanced biocatalyst technologies that can convert natural gas to liquid fuel for transportation.
The other program, Modern Electro/Thermochemical Advancements for Light-metal Systems (METALS, earlier post), provides $32 million to 18 projects to find cost-effective and energy-efficient manufacturing techniques to process and recycle metals for lightweight vehicles. The funding opportunity announcements for both programs were released earlier this year in March.
NXP and TTTech partner on automotive Ethernet switch chip; infotainment, advanced driver assistance and OBD over single twisted-pair cable
NXP Semiconductors N.V. and TTTech signed a Memorandum of Understanding to develop jointly automotive Ethernet switch solutions supporting OPEN Alliance BroadR-Reach Ethernet PHY (physical layer transceiver) technology. The switch chip will be specifically designed for the automotive market, but will also be suitable for various demanding industrial real-time applications.
The jointly developed switch chip will enable applications with unshielded twisted-pair cabling with BroadR-Reach PHY technology. BroadR-Reach Ethernet automotive technology allows multiple in-vehicle systems (such as infotainment, automated driver assistance and on board-diagnostics) simultaneously to access information over a single unshielded twisted-pair cable. By eliminating cumbersome, shielded cabling, automotive manufacturers can significantly reduce connectivity costs and cabling weight.
Jaguar announces new advanced aluminium monocoque architecture; C-X17 concept
September 09, 2013
|The C-X17 concept is the first revealed implementation of the new iQ[Al] architecture. Click to enlarge.|
Along with the unveiling of its C-X17 concept car on the eve of the Frankfurt Motor Show, Jaguar announced a new advanced aluminium monocoque architecture. The C-X17 concept sports crossover is a study to demonstrate the capabilities of this new architecture.
Codenamed iQ[Al], the architecture will form the basis for a new range of future Jaguars, the company said; the first product will be a mid-size premium C/D segment sedan on sale in 2015. This will be the first aluminium monocoque product in the segment. Using the new architecture, Jaguar expects to deliver vehicles with class-leading performance, including top speeds of more than 300 km/h (186 mph), and emissions lower than 100g of CO2 per km.
DSM and KACO develop crankshaft cover made in bio-based EcoPaXX polyamide 410 for next-gen VW diesels
September 02, 2013
|Crankshaft cover. Click to enlarge.|
Royal DSM, together with its automotive component specialist partner KACO, has developed a lightweight multi-functional crankshaft cover in EcoPaXX, DSM’s bio-based polyamide 410, for the latest generation of diesel engines developed by the Volkswagen Group. EcoPaXX, a bio-based, high-performance long-chain polyamide, is made mainly from tropical castor beans.
This EcoPaXX cover incorporates integral seals in PTFE and liquid silicon rubber (LSR), as well as various metal inserts. It will be used on Volkswagen’s new MDB modular diesel engine platform, implemented across its Audi, Seat, Škoda and VW brands.
Integral Technologies and BASF jointly to explore North American market for automotive applications of Electriplast conductive thermoplastics
August 28, 2013
Integral Technologies, Inc. and wholly owned subsidiary ElectriPlast Corp. (earlier post) signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with BASF Corporation jointly to explore the North American market for ElectriPlast’s conductive thermoplastics.
BASF and ElectriPlast will jointly explore the potential to utilize ElectriPlast materials as a lightweight solution for applications requiring electrical shielding, while reducing weight to help meet CAFE requirements initially targeting a broad array of automotive applications. ElectriPlast is non-corrosive and weather-resistant.
BMW Group presents prototype of i8 plug-in hybrid; first use of new 3-cylinder engine
August 07, 2013
|Prototype BMW i8 at the track. Click to enlarge.|
BMW i presented a prototype of its second production vehicle, the i8 (earlier post), at a driving event at the BMW Group’s Miramas test track in France. Following the world debut of the first production model, the battery-electric urban-focused BMW i3 (earlier post), the BMW Group’s next step will be to address the sports car segment with the plug-in hybrid BMW i8. The BMW i8 will make its world debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month and arrive in BMW showrooms in 2014.
Calculated using the EU test cycle for plug-in hybrid vehicles, the average fuel efficiency of the BMW i8 at model launch will be less than 2.5 liters/100 km, which equates to approximately 95 miles per US gallon, with CO2 emissions of less than 59 grams per kilometer.
EDAG study finds NanoSteel sheet steels can achieve up to 30% weight reduction in automotive structures
August 05, 2013
|NanoSteel body-in-white using the three grades of steel. Click to enlarge.|
The NanoSteel Company released the results of an automotive light-weighting study it had commissioned from EDAG, Inc., an independent engineering firm, demonstrating the potential for the company’s Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS) (earlier post) to enable a 30% reduction of weight in the BIW (body-in-white) structure of a baseline mass-market sedan.
EDAG used methodology in the study consistent with recent similar studies, including NHTSA’s “Light Weight Vehicle (LWV)” study in 2012, and WorldAutoSteel’s “Future Steel Vehicle” design in 2011. The NHTSA LWV study was a comprehensive redesign of the 2011 Honda Accord that met North American competitive targets for safety and other significant vehicle attributes while optimizing for weight savings. EDAG duplicated the criteria and methods used then have been duplicated in that study to investigate NanoSteel’s materials.
BYU friction bit joining process bonds aluminum to cast iron
July 15, 2013
Engineers at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Utah and the University of Ulsan in South Korea have used friction bit joining (FBJ) to bond dissimilar combinations of aluminum alloy A356 and grey cast iron.
The process of friction bit joining uses a small, consumable bit to create a solid-state joint between metals. The method was invented by BYU manufacturing engineering technology professor Michael Miles and retired BYU professor Kent Kohkonen, in their collaboration with local Orem-based company MegaStir Technologies, a joint venture between Schlumberger and Advanced Metal Products. MegaStir provides both low- and high-temperature friction stir welding (FSW) systems.
UK government and industry to invest >$1.5B in Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) for low carbon vehicles; technology roadmaps for 5 priority areas
July 12, 2013
The UK government and automotive industry are investing £500 million (US$755 million) each over the next 10 years in an Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) to research, to develop and to commercialize the technologies for the low carbon vehicles of the future. Backed by 27 companies in the sector, including supply chain companies, the commitment is expected to secure at least 30,000 jobs currently linked to producing engines and create many more in the supply chain.
The investment forms part of the report “Driving success – an industrial strategy for growth and sustainability in the UK automotive sector”, published jointly by the government and industry. It follows the recent plans for construction, aerospace and other key sectors to secure sustainable future growth in the economy.
New ArcelorMittal lightweight car door solutions; up to 34% weight savings over existing steel doors in medium-term
June 25, 2013
|ArcelorMittal lightweight door. Click to enlarge.|
ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel and mining company, unveiled its new ultra-lightweight car door solutions. Using steels and technology currently available, ArcelorMittal’s global R&D automotive team has demonstrated that a 27% weight and cost saving can be achieved without compromising safety and structural requirements.
By looking ahead to new advanced high strength steels and technology that will come to market over the next few years, the team has identified additional solutions that will deliver even greater weight savings of up to 34% compared to existing steel car door solutions.
Ford LCA harmonization study clarifies benefits of lightweighting for vehicle life cycle energy use and GHG emissions
May 29, 2013
|Correlation between weight reduction and life cycle primary energy demand for (a) component and (b) total vehicle scenarios. Credit: ACS; Kim and Wallington. Click to enlarge.|
While reducing vehicle weight (lightweighting) by replacing steel and iron with alternatives such as aluminum, magnesium, and composites decreases fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions during vehicle use, it can increase energy consumption and GHG emissions during vehicle production.
Hyung Chul Kim and Timothy J. Wallington at Ford Motor’s Systems Analytics and Environmental Sciences Department set out to clarify the lifecycle benefits of vehicle lightweighting in a meta-analysis of previously published life cycle assessments (LCAs). While numerous studies assay the benefits of lightweighting, the wide variety of assumptions used makes it difficult to compare results from the studies, the pair noted in their paper, published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Ricardo-led technology demonstrator delivers 72% improved fuel economy over regular Humvee
May 23, 2013
|Ricardo-TARDEC FED. Click to enlarge.|
Ricardo released an analysis of two years of on-the-ground testing of the Ricardo-engineered Fuel-Efficient Ground Vehicle Demonstrator (FED) showing that, when compared to the US military’s regularly outfitted M1151 HMMWV (“Humvee”), the FED experienced a 72% improvement in fuel economy. (Earlier post.) The FED’s performance was assessed using a number of realistic duty cycles including highway, off-road and idle conditions.
The FED powertrain features include a supercharged Cummins I4 diesel engine; a high efficiency 28V permanent magnet integrated starter-generator from Kollmorgen that enables electric accessories and 20 kW of power for on-board equipment; a 6-speed automatic transmission from Aisin; and an accelerator feedback pedal and fuel economy display to inform drivers how to operate the vehicle to produce the best fuel economy.
MIT team devises approaches for practical carbon-nanotube-coated carbon fiber; stronger, more electrically conductive
May 20, 2013
|MIT scientists demonstrated two approaches for growing CNTs on carbon fiber without degrading the fiber strength. Credit: ACS, Steiner et al. Click to enlarge.|
Researchers at MIT have demonstrated two approaches for producing carbon fibers coated in carbon nanotubes without degrading the underlying fiber’s strength. A paper on the work, which could result in carbon-fiber composites that are not only stronger but also more electrically conductive, is published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.
Hierarchical carbon fibers (CFs) sheathed with radial arrays of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are promising candidates for improving the intra- and interlaminar properties of advanced fiber-reinforced composites (such as graphite/epoxy) and for high-surface-area electrodes for battery and supercapacitor architectures, the authors note.
DSM’s Stanyl and EcoPaXX polyamides used in SIM-CEL electric concept car to reduce weight
May 15, 2013
|DSM’s Stanyl and EcoPaXX are used in the new SIM-CEL EV prototype. Click to enlarge.|
SIM-Drive Corporation, founded by Hiroshi Shimizu and based in Kawasaki City, Japan, unveiled the SIM-CEL on 27 March—the third prototype of an advanced all-electric car incorporating in-wheel motors that the company has developed since it was founded in 2009. SIM stands for Shimizu In-wheel Motor, and CEL stands for Cool Energy Link.
EDAG study finds aluminum BIW can deliver mass savings of 35-40% over steel; fuel economy boost
April 17, 2013
|Material selection for the Venza aluminum BIW. Click to enlarge.|
A new study by EDAG Group, commissioned by the Aluminum in Transportation Group of the US Aluminum Association, finds that an all-aluminum body in white (BIW) can deliver potential mass savings in the 35 – 40% range over a base steel BIW. This, when combined with secondary mass savings and other design changes, could boost fuel economy by around 18%.
The study built upon research EDAG performed last year for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) examining mass reduction, safety and cost variables in a mid-size crossover Toyota Venza. The EPA study aimed to reduce vehicle mass by 20% while meeting all NHTSA and IIHS safety standards, and maintaining or improving performance, handling and braking.
ARPA-E to award up to $20M for technologies for primary domestic processing of light metals (Al, Mg, Ti); vehicle lightweighting
March 22, 2013
The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) has issued a Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0000882) for up to $20 million for the Modern Electro/Thermochemical Advancements for Light-metal Systems (METALS) program. METALS is to support the development of innovative technologies for cost-effective processing and recycling of aluminum, magnesium and titanium (Al, Mg and Ti).
ARPA-E also last week issued a Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0000881) for up to $20 million to fund the development of bioconversion technologies to convert methane into liquid fuels. (Earlier post.)
Study finds technology cost of achieving European 2020 LDV CO2 targets more than offset by resultant fuel savings
March 19, 2013
|Provisional 2030 economic impact of achieving the 2020 targets in the two Phase I scenarios—Current Policy Initiatives and Tech 1— compared to baseline. Source: Cambridge Econometrics.Click to enlarge.|
A report published by Cambridge Econometrics and Ricardo-AEA concludes that overall, the cost of technologies required to meet proposed European 2020 CO2 regulations for vehicles (95 g/km for cars and 147 g/km for vans) will be more than offset by the resultant fuel savings. The technical and macro-economic study, commissioned by the European Climate Foundation, focuses on light-duty vehicles.
The project is taking a phased approach. This first report (Phase I) examines only the impact of improving the efficiency of fossil-fueled vehicles, in which efficiency gains are delivered by the improvement of the internal combustion engine vehicle, including lightweighting, engine downsizing and hybridization. The Phase II report, to be presented mid-2013, examines the impact of the gradual penetration of advanced powertrains, such as battery-electric vehicles and fuel cell electric vehicles, and the gradual replacement of fossil fuels with increasing levels of indigenous energy resources, such as electricity and hydrogen.
Freescale introduces new automotive microcontrollers; streamlining body electronics networks and reducing vehicle weight
At Electronica China in Shanghai, Freescale Semiconductor introduced a new Qorivva vehicle body gateway network microcontroller (MCU) and two new S12 MagniV end-node devices to address increasing requirements for higher bandiwdth automotive networks, improved data security, increased functional safety and reduction of overall energy consumption.
As the number of electronic control units in a vehicle grows (up to 100 ECUs, requiring some 10 million lines of code, said Brad Loane, Freescale product manager) the amount of connectivity needed also increases. The average vehicle now includes several miles of copper wire—weighing up to 150 lbs (68 kg) or more—for in-vehicle networking. Integrating more functionality within the vehicle’s main ECUs and increasing the intelligence of its satellite nodes (i.e. modules in doors or electric motors) can help reduce the number of ECUs and the amount of associated wiring required, eliminating weight in the vehicle wiring harness and helping improve vehicle fuel economy.
Nano-spaced stacking faults create stronger, lightweight magnesium alloys; potential for structural applications in automotive and aerospace
March 14, 2013
|Summary of room temperature tensile yield strength and uniform elongation of earlier efforts and the new work. Numbers adjacent to data points are references cited in Jian et al. Source: Jian et al. Click to enlarge.|
Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new technique for creating ultra-strong magnesium alloys that maintain good ductility. By introducing stacking faults with nanoscale spacing into a magnesium alloy using conventional hot rolling, they produced a yield strength of 575 MPa, an ultimate strength of 600 MPa, and moderate ductility (uniform elongation of 5.2%).
The nano-spaced stacking faults are essentially a series of parallel fault-lines in the crystalline structure of the alloy that isolate any defects in that structure. The process can lead to Mg alloys with superior mechanical properties with potential structural applications in the automobile and aerospace industries, the researchers suggested in an open access paper in the journal Materials Research Letters.
Nissan to expand use of Advanced High Tensile Strength Steel into up to 25% of new model parts; 1.2 GPa ultra high strength steel for weight reduction
March 12, 2013
|Relationship of material strength and elongation in steel plates. Source: Nissan. Click to enlarge.|
Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. plans to expand the use of Advanced High Tensile Strength Steel (AHSS) into up to 25% of the vehicle parts (measured by weight) installed in its new production models starting in 2017 as one of its initiatives to help reduce vehicle weight.
Nissan, in collaboration with Nippon Steel Corporation and Kobe Steel, Ltd., earlier developed 1.2 gigapascal (GPa) Ultra High Tensile Strength Steel with High Formability. (Earlier post.) Prior to the development of 1.2GPa ultra high strength steel it had been difficult to use high tensile steels for vehicle parts with highly-complex shapes. This steel is first employed in the new Infiniti Q50, which goes on sale in North America in 2013.
DOE to award more than $50M for new plug-in vehicle technology research projects
March 09, 2013
The US DOE has released the final version of a new funding opportunity announcement (DE-FOA-0000793) that will award more than $50 million in funding for new projects intended to accelerate the development of advanced plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) technologies to increase vehicle fuel economy and improve performance. DOE had earlier requested public comment on a draft of the solicitation. (Earlier post.) The FOA supports the President’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge. (Earlier post.)
DOE will select new research projects—an anticipated minimum of 30 and maximum of 50—that focus on lowering the cost and increasing the efficiency of PEV components, as well as the development of models and tools to predict these vehicles' performance and help improve fuel economy. The Department will fund projects across five major areas of research and development that cover 12 areas of interest (AOIs), including:
GM CEO outlines highlights of fuel economy plan through MY2016: lightweighting; more efficient gasoline and clean diesel engines, electrification
March 07, 2013
Within his talk about the need for a US energy policy at the IHS CERAWeek 2013 energy conference in Houston, GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson outlined some highlights of the company’s fuel economy plan through the 2016 model year.
The auto industry should play a central role in the energy discussion, Akerson noted, because light-duty vehicles account for about 60% of total transportation energy usage in the United States. Automakers are currently deploying and developing technologies that will satisfy customers and make an enormous contribution to energy security at the same time, he added. The near-term elements of GM’s fuel economy efforts he adduced are:
Audi and BMW Group join Aluminium Stewardship Initiative; seeking a standard for sustainable aluminum
February 28, 2013
AUDI AG and the BMW Group, along with Hydro and Rexam, have joined the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) to help develop a global standard for sustainable aluminum. Aluminium is the world’s second most used metal after steel, and is of specific importance to the automotive industry due to its combination of its light weight, durability and strength.
The Aluminium Stewardship Initiative was founded in the autumn of 2012 and aims to develop the first version of a sustainability standard for aluminum by the end of 2014, with the support of the environmental organization IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). Founding members of the Initiative are AMCOR Flexibles, AMAG, Constantia Flexibles, Constellium, Nespresso, Rio Tinto Alcan, and Tetra Pak.
USAMP and A/SP receive $6M from DOE for automotive advanced high-strength steel project
February 26, 2013
The United States Automotive Materials Partnership LLC (USAMP), in collaboration with the Auto/Steel Partnership (A/SP), received a competitively solicited award for $6 million from the US Department of Energy (DOE) for its “Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME) Approach to Development of Lightweight, Third-Generation Advanced High-Strength Steels (3GAHSS)” project. (Earlier post.)
USAMP, a collaborative organization of Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Company and General Motors, will work in cooperation with the A/SP on the project to demonstrate the applicability of ICME for the development and deployment of 3GAHSS for passenger vehicle weight reduction. The four-year project is slated to begin by early spring.
Volkswagen to produce XL1 diesel plug-in hybrid at Osnabrück; 261 mpg US
February 21, 2013
|The XL1. Click to enlarge.|
Volkswagen has confirmed that its XL1 Super Efficient Vehicle, featuring fuel consumption of 0.9 l/100 km (approx. 261 mpg US), will go into limited production at the company’s Osnabrück factory in Germany. The plug-in diesel-electric hybrid, which Volkswagen will showcase at the Geneva show, can cover a distance of up to 50 km (31 miles) in all-electric mode.
The XL1 is low weight (795 kg), aerodynamic (Cd 0.189) and with a low center of gravity (1,153 mm high). This gives it the ability to cruise on the road at a constant speed of 100 km/h (61 mph) using just 6.2 kW / 8.3 hp, Volkswagen says. In all-electric mode, the XL1 requires less than 0.1 kWh to cover a driving distance of more than one kilometer.
Honda develops new technology to join steel and aluminum, with first application to outer door panel of mass production vehicles
February 18, 2013
|Structure of door panels. Click to enlarge.|
Honda Motor Co., Ltd. has developed a technology to join steel and aluminum and applied it to enable adoption of aluminum for an outer door panel, which has conventionally been made of steel. Honda will adopt this technology first to the North American version of the all-new Acura RLX, which will go on sale in the United States in March 2013, and will expand application sequentially to other models.
To join together the dissimilar metals of steel and aluminum, the simultaneous establishment of several different technologies was required such as technologies to prevent corrosion (electrical corrosion) and thermal deformation caused by the different expansion rates of steel and aluminum.
New Corvette marks GM’s first use of heat-activated shape memory alloy to replace heavier motorized part
February 12, 2013
|Corvette’s new shape memory alloy wire replaces a heavier motorized part. Click to enlarge.|
As one of a number of advances to reduce its weight (90 lbs/41 kg lighter than its predecessor), the redesigned seventh-generation Chevrolet Corvette is the first vehicle to use a GM-developed lightweight shape memory alloy wire in place of a heavier motorized actuator to open and close the hatch vent that releases air from the trunk. This allows the trunk lid to close more easily than on the previous models where trapped air could make the lid harder to close.
With about 200 motorized movable parts on the typical vehicle that could be replaced with lightweight smart materials, GM says it is looking at significant mass reduction going forward.
DOE seeking comment on draft $50M solicitation for new projects over 11 areas of interest to improve vehicle performance and decrease fuel consumption
February 02, 2013
The US Department of Energy (DOE) Vehicle Technology Program is seeking public comment on the draft of an upcoming solicitation (DE-FOA-0000793) totaling more than $50 million for new research projects that will develop advanced technologies to improve vehicle performance and increase fuel economy. As part of the Advanced Vehicle Power Technology Alliance between DOE and the Department of the Army, the Army plans to contribute $3.5 million in co-funding for several areas where there are joint development opportunities. The FOA supports the President’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge. (Earlier post.)
DOE will release the final version after a period of public comment and revision. The FOA contains a total of 11 areas of interest (AOIs) in the general areas of advanced lightweighting and propulsion materials; advanced battery development; power electronics; advanced heating, ventilation, air conditioning systems; and fuels and lubricants. Specific AOIs are:
$15M Visio.M project seeking to maximize light weight and safety in an urban EV
January 31, 2013
|A prototype vehicle on the track from the Visio.M project. Click to enlarge.|
In Germany, the Visio.M consortium is developing a mobility concept for an efficient electric vehicle, making the design as light as possible while still delivering the best possible safety protection.
Participants in the Visio.M consortium are, in addition to the automotive companies BMW AG (lead manager) and Daimler AG, the Technische Universität München (TUM) as a scientific partner, and Autoliv BV & Co. KG, the Federal Highway Research Institute (BAST), Continental Automotive GmbH, E.ON AG, Finepower GmbH, Hyve AG, IAV GmbH, InnoZ GmbH, Intermap Technologies GmbH, LION Smart GmbH, Neumayer Tekfor Holding GmbH, Siemens AG, Texas Instruments Germany GmbH and TÜV SÜD AG as industrial partners.
BMW and Toyota expand collaboration with work on fuel cell system, sports vehicle, light-weight technology and Li-air battery
January 24, 2013
BMW Group and Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) signed binding agreements aimed at long-term collaboration between the two companies for the joint development of a hydrogen fuel cell system; joint development of architecture and components for a sports vehicle; and joint research and development of lightweight technologies. These agreements follow a memorandum of understanding signed in June 2012. (Earlier post.)
The companies also today signed a binding agreement to commence collaborative research on lithium-air batteries. This agreement marks the second phase of collaborative research into next-generation lithium-ion battery cells that commenced in March 2012. (Earlier post.) The main points of the new agreements are:
GM debuts 2014 Stingray; direct injection, cylinder deactivation, CVVT contribute to more power and reduced fuel consumption
January 14, 2013
|2014 Corvette Stingray. Click to enlarge.|
GM staged the debut of the all-new, 7th generation Chevrolet Corvette Stingray on the eve of the Detroit Auto Show. The 2014 Corvette Stingray is the most powerful standard model ever, with a new LT1 6.2L Small Block V8 delivering an estimated 450 hp (335 kW) and 450 lb-ft of torque (610 Nm). The new LT1 combines advanced technologies, including direct injection, Active Fuel Management (cylinder deactivation), continuously variable valve timing and an advanced combustion system that delivers more power while using less fuel.
The Stingray accelerates from 0-60 in less than four seconds and achieve more than 1g in cornering grip; it is also expected to be the most fuel-efficient Corvette, exceeding the EPA-estimated 26 mpg (9.05 l/100km) of the current model.
Study finds that aluminum reduces electric vehicle cost against steel counterpart for same targeted range
January 07, 2013
|The study task design steps. Source: fka. Click to enlarge.|
A recent study found that an aluminum electric vehicle can cost up to €635 (US$829) less than that its steel counterpart despite the higher cost of aluminum, given equivalent range targets. The study, conducted by Forschungsgesellschaft Kraftfahrwesen mbH Aachen (fka) for the European Aluminium Association (EAA) and the International Aluminum Institute (IAI), found that any additional cost of building a car with aluminum is more than offset by the cost savings that can be made on the battery pack, since a lighter car needs less battery capacity to drive the same distance.
A C-segment crash reference vehicle (Volkswagen Golf) with steel unibody and internal combustion engine served as the basis for this study. The mass and crashworthiness properties of this vehicle were analyzed in four Euro NCAP and FMVSS 301 high-speed load cases, serving as the crash reference within the project. One of the requirements was that electric vehicles (steel-based or aluminium-based) should at least be as safe as the crash reference vehicle.
Fiat 500L using SABIC polycarbonate glazing materials in rear fixed side windows; lighter weight than glass
December 19, 2012
Saudi Basic Industries Corporation’s (SABIC) Innovative Plastics business is marking continued progress in the adoption of its polycarbonate (PC) glazing materials for automotive window applications with Fiat’s new 500L multi-purpose vehicle (MPV), which features rear fixed side windows molded from SABIC’s clear LEXAN GLX resin and black CYCOLOY resin. These high-performance SABIC materials help reduce weight by about 35 percent, improve aerodynamic efficiency and achieve the desired styling vs. glass.
The Fiat 500L has already launched in Europe and is set to roll out in the United States in early 2013. The rear fixed side windows of the vehicle will be the first in the United States to use two-shot injection compression molding, which allows for the seamless integration of an aerodynamic spoiler. SABIC suggests that the 500L windows demonstrate the enabling power of SABIC’s PC glazing materials, the practical application of PC glazing in today’s mass production vehicles and the continued traction of PC glazing in the automotive industry.
Frost & Sullivan consultant suggests European EV success will require radical lightweighting plus enabling legislation
December 17, 2012
|The 400 kg (curbweight) Aixam quadricycle, with a 400cc two-cylinder diesel, is an example of the size and weight needed in future city vehicles, Meilhan suggests. Click to enlarge.|
Significant vehicle weight reduction and an accompanying change of enabling regulations and norms is the way forward in the quest to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions, according to Paris-based Frost & Sullivan Senior Consultant, Nicolas Meilhan.
The car of the future is a small city car, but not necessarily electric, Meilhan suggests. The future of electric vehicles (EVs) depends on regulations from governments and the European Union, incentivizing the consumer to buy them. Legislations for taxing weight size and engine power will help produce and sell such a car. Making parking even more expensive for regular cars will help. Other incentives for small cars, such as being allowed to drive in bus lines, as practiced in Norway, would certainly improve the business case for EVs.
Lotus Engineering Phase 2 lightweighting study for ARB shows crashworthiness of low-mass body structures and potential for cost-effective mass production
December 06, 2012
|Phase 2 body-in-white material usage front three-quarter view. Source: Lotus Engineering. Click to enlarge.|
Building on a Phase 1 Lotus study published in 2010 (earlier post), the Phase 2 study demonstrated the crashworthiness of a low mass body-in-white (BIW) using computer aided analysis and simulation. The study also illustrates how a holistic, total vehicle approach to system mass and cost reduction can help offset the additional cost of a 37% mass reduced body structure. This study’s findings also indicate that the 30% mass-reduced vehicle could be cost-effectively mass-produced in the 2020 timeframe with materials and techniques technically feasible by 2017.