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Siemens, Northvolt partner in next generation lithium-ion battery cell production; Siemens invests €10M
Siemens and Northvolt, a company working to build a European Li-ion gigafactory with 32 GWh of battery capacity (earlier post), are partnering for the development of best-in-class technology to produce high-quality lithium-ion batteries. The partnership, which will be supported by Siemens through an investment of €10 million (US$11.7 million); after production start in 2020, Northvolt will become a preferred supplier for lithium-ion batteries for Siemens.
We are happy to support Northvolt in building the battery factory of the future. With our Digital Enterprise portfolio, we contribute to a competitive battery cell production in Europe that fully exploits the benefits of software and automation: greater flexibility, efficiency and quality with shorter time to market.
—Jan Mrosik, CEO of Siemens Digital Factory Division
Northvolt is driving the battery production to build a battery with very low CO2 footprint. Our Digital Enterprise portfolio will support Northvolt in building a state-of-the-art battery plant. We are excited to go in as a partner in this project.
—Ulf Troedsson, President and CEO of Siemens Nordics
Siemens sees the Northvolt initiative as a reference project for the battery production of the future, which will rely on the integration and digitization of the entire value chain: from the design of the battery cell through production planning, engineering and production to services.
The technology partnership is set up around two main areas of collaboration:
Technology. Use of the Siemens Digital Enterprise portfolio, encompassing everything from manufacturing planning and design software to automation, including industrial communications networks and cloud solutions, will allow Northvolt to optimize its battery production and sharpen its competitive edge.
Supply of lithium-ion batteries. Siemens intends to purchase batteries from Northvolt once its large-scale production facility is up and running. The companies are also exploring potential areas for joint development programs.
The European industry is moving rapidly towards electrification. With its world-class expertise within electrification, automation and digitalization, Siemens will become an important technology partner, supplier and customer to Northvolt in this coming transition. Once we begin large-scale production, our aim is to supply the greenest lithium-ion batteries in the world.
—Peter Carlsson, Co-Founder and CEO, Northvolt
Northvolt plans to offer the battery factory equivalent of a semiconductor foundry. It will offer one or two basic form factors and perfect the production of these. It will also offer a number of leading industry standard chemistries, which will be improved continuously. For high volume customers, proprietary chemistries will be closely tailored to fit their specific needs.
Study finds car dealerships pose significant barrier to EV adoption
A new study by a team from Aarhus University in Denmark has found that car dealerships pose a significant barrier to electric vehicle adoption at the point of sale due to a perceived lack of business case viability in relation to gasoline and diesel vehicles. Their study is published in the journal Nature.
In 126 “mystery shopper” experiences at 82 car dealerships across Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, the team found that that dealers were dismissive of EVs; misinformed shoppers on vehicle specifications; omitted EVs from the sales conversation; and strongly oriented customers towards gasoline and diesel vehicle options.
The researchers also found that dealers’ technological orientation, willingness to sell and displayed knowledge of EVs were main contributors to likely purchase intentions. The team concluded that policy and business strategies that address barriers at the point of sale are needed to accelerate EV adoption.
Dealers represent an important yet understudied intermediary between new innovations such as EV technology and consumers. Only three North America-focused studies exist as of 2017. For instance, a California-specific (United States) study suggests that EVs require new business and promotion strategies during sales processes, while a study across four US states and an investigation in Ontario (Canada) find that the (lack of) salespersons EV knowledge and positive attitude can influence customers’ purchasing decisions. However, these studies feature small sample sizes, lack cross-country comparisons or focus on early EV adopters.
Despite this dearth of research coverage, the role of industry actors is important because research suggests that current EV buyers can be categorized as early adopters with a higher technological acumen and knowledge of EVs, implying that they may aggressively and actively pursue EVs at the selling point. Early adopters, however, are a minority of the total market. Therefore, car dealerships and EV purchasing experiences at the point of sale may be where a majority of consumers first encounter the technology and also consider purchasing it.
For this reason, we investigate the prospect of purchasing an EV from the perspective of an average or mass market customer in 126 dealership shopping visits at 82 car dealerships across 15 cities in the 5 Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) triangulated with industry stakeholder interviews across these countries. We also analyse the effect of location-specific factors on EV purchases, such as the comparison between urban and rural settings, and the different tax, regulatory, commercial and social conditions of each country. This includes comparisons between the EV global leader Norway, an intermediate adopter (Sweden), and the less developed EV markets of Finland, Iceland and Denmark.
—de Rubens et al.
The researchers posed as mystery shoppers to visit the dealerships, and showed no initial inclination to any particular type of vehicle. To ensure validity, the shopping encounters were triangulated with 30 expert interviews with major automobile manufacturers, importers and associations, and other related organizations such as EV charging station providers across the Nordic region.
Among their findings:
Out of the total 126 dealership visits conducted, only 8.8% of the mystery shopping encounters resulted in the shoppers having preferred an EV option for their next car purchase over an ICEV; this drops to just 2.9% outside of Norway.
In the 77% of the car dealerships visits that had EV brands and EV models available, the salesperson did not discuss the existence of the brand’s EV.
In two-thirds of all shopping experiences, sales personnel strongly or solely oriented the customer to select a gasoline or diesel vehicle, and actively dismissed EVs, even when dealerships had EV options for sale.
In 71% of the visits, dealers demonstrated either low displayed knowledge of EVs or no knowledge at all.
More than half of the expert interviews noted that both the car dealership and sales personnel lack a willingness to sell EVs because of anticipated low profitability, lack of knowledge and competence to sell, and extended sales time per EV purchase, in comparison with internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs).
Ultimately, the implication seems to be that EVs are at a severe disadvantage at the point of sale when competing with petrol and diesel options. Without more progressive action on behalf of industry and government, dealers have little to no incentive to properly sell EVs, even in a Nordic region so steadfastly committed to decarbonizing transport.
—de Rubens et al.
Gerardo Zarazua de Rubens, Lance Noel & Benjamin K. Sovacool (2018) “Dismissive and deceptive car dealerships create barriers to electric vehicle adoption at the point of sale” Nature Energy doi: 10.1038/s41560-018-0152-x
Novelis to invest $180M to double automotive aluminum body sheet capacity at Changzhou
Novelis, the leader in aluminum rolling and recycling, plans to invest approximately $180 million to double its automotive aluminum body sheet capacity at its Changzhou facility in China. The company will begin expanding its existing facility in 2018 and be fully operational by 2020, helping key traditional automakers and electric vehicle start-ups launch new products.
The investment will be a continuous annealing solution heat (CASH) treatment line that will add approximately 100 kilotonnes of capacity and will include a high-speed slitter as well as a fully automated packaging line. (Earlier post.)
Novelis Changzhou Automotive Facility
Novelis’ investment in China is its second automotive investment this year, having recently announced a $300-million greenfield manufacturing facility in Guthrie, Kentucky, USA.
Established in October 2014, the Novelis Changzhou Plant is the company’s first manufacturing facility in China and China’s first plant dedicated to the production of heat-treated aluminum automotive sheet. The initial $100-million investment, with an annual capacity of 120,000 tons, was designed to meet the rapidly growing demand for rolled aluminum used in the design of a new generation of lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Since commissioning its initial automotive finishing line in Changzhou in 2014, Novelis has fully contracted its capacity. The timing of this investment is closely aligned with key customer product launches slated for 2020-2021 from both traditional automakers as well as electric vehicle startups.
In 2017, for example, Novelis announced it provided aluminum solutions for NIO’s electric SUV ES8. Novelis delivers aluminum products to SGM, SAIC, FAW-VW, Chery and Changan Ford. The company is supplying aluminum solutions for the all-new Jaguar XFL, the first Jaguar model from Chery Jaguar Land Rover featuring a body-in-white made of 75% aluminum.
By adding another strategic asset to expand its operations in China, Novelis continues to leverage the strength of the Aditya Birla Group as the global leader in aluminum rolling. Investing ahead of projected customer demand enables Novelis to offer premium products and a reliable supply chain to automakers as they continue to adopt more automotive aluminum.
—Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of the board of directors of Novelis Inc. and chairman of the board of directors of Hindalco Industries Limited
Worldwide, automotive aluminum demand is projected to nearly triple over the next eight years with the largest growth potential to be in China, as both domestic and global automakers increase aluminum penetration and production in the market.
We believe China’s commitment to fuel efficiency and reducing emissions represent a large and favorable opportunity that will require greater adoption of aluminium, particularly in the rapidly growing electric vehicle market.
—Steve Fisher, President and CEO, Novelis Inc.
According to IHS Markit, total passenger vehicle demand in China is expected to reach 34 million units by 2025, with strong market growth coming from battery electric vehicles.
Novelis is the only company producing premium rolled aluminum products on four continents: North America, South America, Europe and Asia. As the single largest producer of aluminum rolled products, it generates an estimated 12% of the world’s supply.
Volkswagen, Siemens partner in project with long-haul electric HD trucks using overhead power lines on public roads
The German Federal Ministry for the Environment gave the green light for a subsidized pilot project to conduct research and development on the electrification of long-haul trucks. The electricity supply for the heavy goods vehicles is provided by means of a pantograph from an overhead power line—the eHighway concept (earlier post).
The two project partners involved—Siemens and Volkswagen Group Research—are sharing the tasks: Siemens is responsible for developing the pantograph while Volkswagen is providing the required hybrid trucks via the Group’s Swedish subsidiary Scania and is carrying out the accompanying research. Trial operations will be conducted jointly as from early 2019.
During the course of this research project, one objective will be to determine how goods traffic can be organized in a more climate-friendly manner, particularly over long distances. In Germany alone, heavy goods traffic results in CO2 emissions of 56 million tonnes per year. The extent to which electrification of routes for HGVs can bring about a reduction is to be determined within the scope of this project.
Both Siemens and Scania are already conducting trials on the supply of electrical energy for goods traffic. Now this technology will be gradually coming onto German public roads as part of a research project scheduled to run for three years.
It will involve two Scania trucks with varying degrees of electrification in the hybrid drivetrain taking part in test drives on three different trial routes in Germany. From the beginning of 2019, the first vehicle will be travelling periodically in traffic on public roads on sections of the A5 motorway to the south of Frankfurt, then later also on sections of the A1 motorway near Lübeck and on the B442 federal highway near Gaggenau, as soon as the overhead power line infrastructure there is complete. This research project represents the preliminary stage for a real field trial planned on a larger scale.
We are expecting the project to produce some useful findings on the potential for saving CO2 emissions through electrification and on the required energy demand of the trucks. These findings will then form input for the development of future generations of electric drives and the associated energy management.
—Dr. Axel Heinrich, Head of Group Research at Volkswagen AG
The eHighway system is an economical and sustainable option for decarbonizing road transport. The field trials in Germany are an important step on the way toward realizing these systems. Along with the electrical drive components, the smart pantograph is the key part of the system: It connects the truck to the infrastructure along the highway. An efficiency of more than 80 percent is made possible by the efficient conductive energy transmission to the truck.
—Roland Edel, Chief Technology Officer of the Mobility Division at Siemens
Separately, E.ON, H&M group, Scania and Siemens have formed a coalition to accelerate the decarbonization of heavy transport. The industry players are joining together to impact public opinion and policy with the aim to establish an optimal environment for mutually beneficial change in the transport sector.
The partners said that a systems approach will be required, and the coalition of companies forms a strong foundation with representatives from infrastructure provision, energy solutions and supply, vehicle manufacturing as well as retail with the transport buyer perspective.
The coalition of companies will continue to build knowledge, and identify high impact innovation and partnerships within their operations and respective ecosystems.
Foton Motor and motorcycle leader Piaggio Group partner on development of light commercial vehicles; EVs to come
Foton Motor and Piaggio Group signed the agreement for a joint development project for new light-duty commercial vehicle products in Italy.
Since 2016, Foton Motor and Piaggio Group have signed a Memorandum of Understanding and a Framework Agreement in succession. The final signing of this agreement symbolizes that the two parties have sufficiently completed the project feasibility analysis and officially entered the implementation stage of new product development.
The new four-wheel light-duty commercial vehicle products for the European market are based on the present mini-truck product platform of Foton Motor, inherit the advantages of Foton Motor’s mini-trucks in terms of product quality, driving/riding comfort, and fuel-economy.
Foton Gratour-T mini truck.
In the future, the two parties will, “at an appropriate time”, develop new electric vehicles with intelligent interconnectivity system and, as appropriate, enter the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Central and South America, and Africa markets.
The European market is an important sector for the global development of Foton Motor. The new product development project with Piaggio Group this time is not only a strategic solution of Foton’s global diversification but also demonstrates Foton’s resolution for the expansion of European market.
Piaggio Group is the largest motorcycle manufacturer in Europe, with the production and sales volume of two-wheel motorcycles ranking first in the European market, and it is expanding rapidly in the field of three and four-wheel light-duty commercial vehicles. In 2017, its global sales volume of commercial vehicles hit 176,800 units.
As China’s first commercial vehicle manufacturer, Foton Motor is engaged in the operations of whole-series commercial vehicles, including medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks, light-duty trucks, VANs, pickups, and buses. Foton Motor has established joint ventures with world-leading manufacturers, including Daimler, Cummins, and ZF, and has more than 1,000 sales and service networks for coverage of 110 countries and regions worldwide.
Foton Motor presently is integrating information technology and manufacturing technology and aiming to realize intelligent products, intelligent plants, and intelligent management.
The cooperation between Foton and Piaggio Group this time is an important milestone for the joint expansion of the European auto market for the two parties. By taking this opportunity, Piaggio Group will realize the upgrade of commercial vehicle products in the European market and at the same time play an active role in its expansion of market business and consolidation of market position.
SSB Flex mobility service launches in Stuttgart on 1 June
Stuttgarter Straßenbahnen AG (SSB), the principal public transport operating company in Stuttgart, will launch the SSB Flex mobility service on 1 June 2018. (Earlier post.) SSB Flex will pool similar journey requests in three areas to provide additional, more flexible journey options in certain high-traffic areas or at specific times in order to supplement the existing transportation services offered.
SSB will be deploying a fleet of 10 vehicles: Mercedes-Benz V-Class sedans with five seats in the rear and 2 Mercedes-Benz B-Class vehicles with electric drive and three seats in the rear. All of the vehicles are clearly labeled with the yellow and white SSB Flex logo. SSB vehicle drivers are either specially trained Flex drivers or SSB bus drivers who have received additional training.
The SSB Flex mobility service gives customers a flexible, on-demand and tailored way to book journeys using the SSB Flex app. SSB Flex is the first on-demand service in Germany approved by the Stuttgart Regional Council as a regular passenger service under the German Passenger Transportation Act (Personenbeförderungsgesetz – PBefG).
SSB Flex will be offered from Monday to Saturday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and also from Thursday to Saturday from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. the following day in large sections of Bad Cannstatt and Degerloch. Both service areas are currently underserved in parts by the local public transportation network. SSB Flex will also be available in the Stuttgart city center every Thursday to Saturday from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. the following day.
These are times when trains, buses, and trams run less frequently in the city center. For this reason, SSB will offer SSB Flex as a supplemental mode of public transportation in what are known as transportation “blank spots” and during off-peak times.
We want to complement our existing bus and train service with flexible, customer-oriented solutions. We can then fill the gaps, both in time and location. The goal is to have ever more citizens choosing public transportation.
—Wolfgang Arnold, Chief Technical Officer and spokesperson for Stuttgarter Straßenbahnen
Anyone can use SSB Flex: they simply need to download the SSB Flex app from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store onto their smartphone. Customers can save their personal information and payment details in the app. Flex trips can be paid via the app with a credit card or PayPal. When a customer uses the SSB Flex app, the app locates the passenger and shows them possible connections to their destination. Alongside SSB Flex, the app also includes possible connections with the other means of public transportation in the VVS area, which allows it to show the user all possible combinations together with the cost of each and the estimated timing. The passenger has a minute to choose their preferred option (the app displays the elapsing time) and purchase their ticket for the journey with SSB using the SSB Flex app.
After booking, the app shows the passengers where the Flex vehicle will pick them up and how they can get there quickly on foot. After the booking procedure, the app shows the license plate number of the vehicle booked. The driver of the Flex vehicle also receives the information of how to reach the pickup point, the customer name, and how many passengers will be waiting there. The Flex vehicle arrives, the passengers board, then disembark at the predetermined drop-off point close to their destination. If passengers are already sharing the trip or more passengers register while under way, further stops will be added or the route adjusted. The fare is paid via the SSB Flex app.
SSB Flex thus offers additional intermodal trips in Stuttgart on the basis of the multimodal app. Passengers can use SSB Flex to reach the nearest public transportation stop easily, to avoid an interchange, or to take a more direct or earlier journey.
Holders of VVS day or season tickets can enter the public transportation zones for which their tickets are valid into the SSB Flex app. If the ticket is valid for the time and area where they want to use SSB Flex, the fare will be lowered by around €1. The ticket is valid for the part of the trip traveled using VVS public transportation. SSB Flex users can book trips not just for themselves, but for up to four other passengers. If several passengers use SSB Flex for one booking, the fare is reduced for each passenger. The fare is dependent on the route, the number of passengers in a group, and the VVS ticket entered. An adult can book short trips with SSB Flex from €2.20. Children travel from €1.80.
The SSB Flex app is based on the moovel on-demand platform’s algorithm, which intelligently pools journey requests to enable ridesharing. To ensure that users can get from point A to point B as quickly as possible, the travel routes are continually calculated and updated taking into account the latest real-time traffic data and information from the public transportation network. Furthermore, the anticipated demand is estimated so that the fleet can be managed proactively.
If other people want to take a similar route, the system pools the requests so that multiple passengers can share a single vehicle despite having different pickup and drop-off points. If a passenger decides to use SSB Flex for a portion of their journey, they are picked up within walking distance of their current location. The algorithm lets Flex drivers see where they need to pick up or drop off passengers, how many passengers they need to pick up or drop off, and the route they need to take to the next stop.
The locations where the vehicles pick up passengers are controlled by the algorithm, which uses virtual routes and stops to determine the route the vehicle will take. This means that passengers cannot spontaneously board a passing Flex vehicle or request to be dropped off at a different location. They also cannot be picked up from their location on request or driven directly to their destination, but rather are guided by the app to a pickup location that is a short walk away and brought to a drop-off point close to their destination.
As is the case with a bus or train, the SSB Flex vehicle cannot wait for passengers at the pickup point. The point of contact for SSB Flex passengers and drivers is the Stuttgarter Straßenbahnen AG control center.
We want to offer customer- and needs-oriented, modern public transportation. For this, we use digital innovations for economical mobility solutions.
—Stefanie Haaks, Commercial Director at Stuttgarter Straßenbahnen
SSB has received a permit from the Stuttgart Regional Council (Regierungspräsidium Stuttgart) that allows and enables them to operate SSB Flex under passenger transport regulations, which also apply to regular bus services. This permit is the first of its kind for this type of transport. The Stuttgart Regional Council is thus demonstrating its openness to innovative transport models. This makes SSB the first provider of on-demand, ridesharing, and pooling services in Germany with a permit for passenger transportation in accordance with the German Passenger Transportation Act.
The service is made possible by SSB’s close partnership with moovel. moovel’s contribution to the partnership is its moovel on-demand platform, which has been successfully tested as Flex Pilot in Stuttgart since December 2017. SSB Flex will also initially be piloted until end of 2019.
Results of pilot operation. The moovel Group’s Flex Pilot has served as the preparation for the launch of the on-demand service offered by Stuttgarter Straßenbahnen AG. moovel has been testing the service on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays since 14 December 2017. The pilot phase ends on 26 May 2018. More than 20,000 passengers have used the mobility service for free during the test phase. Flex Pilot proved to be a particularly attractive transportation option late at night when the buses, trains, and trams run less frequently. In April, the pilot phase expanded to parts of Bad Cannstatt and Degerloch in addition to the city center business area. This allowed SSB and moovel to continually develop the system and add intermodal routing.
The positive customer feedback regarding Flex Pilot and the number of passengers who used the service exceeded our expectations. Now we are handing the reins over to SSB. We are pleased to continue working together with SSB to develop SSB Flex in the future so that we can offer customers the best possible service. We feel confident that multimodal platforms and flexible, on-demand mobility solutions will help to encourage the switch to public transport.
—Daniela Gerd tom Markotten, CEO of moovel Group GmbH
moovel on-demand is comprised of a variety of components: There’s the app for the driver, which optimally guides them through the business area by taking the latest traffic information into account. The customers have access to the passenger app, which makes it easy for them to find the right route and book their tickets. The underlying system uses intelligent algorithms to efficiently pool journey requests and also incorporate and combine different mobility options. This makes intermodal routing easy. The operator dashboard can be seamlessly integrated into the transit authority’s existing control center and was developed by moovel in close collaboration with Stuttgarter Straßenbahnen AG. This allows the moovel Group to offer a comprehensive system that can quickly and efficiently supplement existing public transportation networks.
moovel Group GmbH develops solutions that make it easier for passengers to access and use urban mobility services and that encourage people to switch to public transportation. Over time, multimodal platforms that make it possible to integrate a variety of mobility services will become increasingly important. The moovel Group, with locations in Stuttgart, Hamburg, Berlin, and Portland, USA, serves over 4.5 million customers. In the first quarter of 2018, more than 6 million transactions were completed using moovel apps.
Civil Maps joins Renovo AWare Ecosystem to provide interoperability for HD mapping and localization
Civil Maps, creator of the world’s first edge-based HD mapping and localization platform for self-driving cars (earlier post), has teamed up with Renovo, the software technology company behind AWare (earlier post), to provide highly automated vehicle makers and technology providers with seamless access to Civil Maps’ vehicular cognition stack.
Through this technical collaboration, self-driving systems and other automotive modules that integrate with Renovo’s AWare, the first OS built specifically for automated mobility, will be immediately compatible with several key aspects of Civil Maps’ platform, a lightweight, highly scalable solution to HD map creation, usage, and continental-scale crowdsourcing.
Moving forward, the two companies will work together to standardize abstraction layers that sit between Civil Maps’ mapping and localization systems and OEM sensor configurations, decision engines, human machine interfaces (HMIs), and control systems. This collaboration will result in a universal interface, architected by Renovo, that will provide plug-and-play compatibility with Civil Maps’ vehicular cognition stack for all other modules in the fast-growing AWare ecosystem, thereby providing significant time and cost savings for developers.
Interoperability is the right direction for the industry and we are excited to take this step forward with Renovo. By eliminating the painful exercise of each company doing the custom, one-off work of continually translating their software and hardware for other systems, we are removing a tremendous hurdle to production-scale AV deployment.
—Sravan Puttagunta, CEO and Co-founder of Civil Maps
Civil Maps joins a growing roster of leading companies compatible with and leveraging Renovo’s AWare OS including Samsung, Verizon, Velodyne LiDAR, Parsons, INRIX, Argus Cyber Security, Affectiva, Phantom Auto, Metamoto and others with a shared mission to develop and deploy fleets of highly automated vehicles by fostering innovation, collaboration and interoperability.
Renovo is expanding its own AWare-powered fleet of highly automated vehicles that operate in the San Jose, CA area to double digit numbers by the end of 2018. Civil Maps and Renovo will work closely on abstraction and integration standards using the Renovo fleet, sharing their work with customers in the fourth quarter of 2018.
DOE awarding up to $3.5M to 3 projects for nuclear-compatible high-temperature electrolysis for H2 production
The US Department of Energy (DOE) is awarding up to $3.5 million to three hydrogen production research and development (R&D) projects that are compatible with nuclear energy sources.
DOE is focused on developing technologies that can produce hydrogen at a target of less than $4/kg (delivered and dispensed). Using electricity and heat generated at nuclear energy facilities to produce hydrogen via extremely efficient high temperature electrolysis (HTE) is one promising integration approach for generating low-cost hydrogen.
The technology of hydrogen production through conventional water electrolysis is well-established; high-temperature electrolysis (HTE) adds in some of the energy needed to split the water as heat instead of electricity (by using steam instead of liquid water), thus reducing the overall energy required.
According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in the high temperature range of 800–1000 °C, electricity input could be about 35% lower than that of conventional electrolysis.
Through utilization of the high temperature heat generated by nuclear energy plants, less electricity is thus required for the HTE process; thermal energy is generally less expensive than electrical energy. Many utilities are now economically incentivized to consider integrating nuclear energy production with other industrial processes to optimize thermal and electrical energy production.
Through the selection of these projects, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office will advance HTE hydrogen production research and development (R&D) with the potential to offer baseload nuclear plants an additional revenue stream.
The projects identified are chosen as alternates under prior year Fuel Cell Technologies Office funding opportunity announcements, which included topics on hydrogen production materials R&D.
FuelCell Energy will receive $1.5 million for materials R&D aimed at reducing the operating temperature of solid-oxide high-temperature electrolysis (HTE) to levels more compatible with advanced nuclear energy heat sources.
Saint Gobain will receive up to $1 million to adapt its novel all-ceramic stack technology to HTE with a focus on addressing fundamental durability challenges.
West Virginia University will receive up to $1 million to develop new HTE materials capable of durable and efficient operation at temperatures compatible with nuclear energy heat sources.
Alan Turing Institute and Toyota Mobility Foundation collaborate to modernize city planning and traffic management
The Alan Turing Institute—the UK’s national institute for data science and artificial intelligence—and the Toyota Mobility Foundation are collaborating on a project to transform the way cities are planned and managed. The objective of this new project, Optimizing flow within mobility systems with AI, part of the Turing’s new AI program, is to transition complex traffic management from static systems into dynamic, optimized systems that are managed in real-time across many types of mobility.
The work is an 18-month, £650,000+ (US$871,000+) collaboration between the Turing and Toyota Mobility Foundation. Researchers will also be working with data providers, and government managers underpinning future cities, as well as drawing upon expertise from the Turing and partner universities’ ongoing work in the area with the Greater London Authority, and mobility expertise within the Toyota Mobility Foundation.
Potential outcomes include:
Integrating an AI system for traffic lights (signal) control;
Building a platform for interactive data manipulation to monitor and predict traffic behavior, and to test out planning scenarios; and
Finding mechanisms for fleet operators and cities to work together, for example by sharing data about congestion or pollution hotspots, and rerouting around the problem before it becomes serious.
Our vision is that city planners and operators should have a system that shows them real-time data feeds, lets them analyse how the city is working, integrates mathematical and computer modelling as well as machine learning models so that they can test out scenarios, and gives them insight into when behaviour patterns are changing. Because of data and new technology, transport patterns can now change dramatically in a short time. We hope that this will lead to improvements in health and mobility for city populations as well as safety and efficiency in traffic management.
—Alan Wilson, CEO of The Alan Turing Institute and lead researcher
While there has been significant focus on AI inside the vehicle, we are excited for the opportunity to work with the Turing to bring data science and AI to a complementing facet of mobility: Infrastructure. We believe mobility is critical to promoting societal progress and improving lives around the world, and this project represents an important step to improve the social good and help achieve harmony in mobility across all modes for all citizens.
—Ryan Klem, Director of Programs for the Toyota Mobility Foundation
The Toyota Mobility Foundation was established in August 2014 to support the development of a better mobile society. The Foundation aims to support strong mobility systems while eliminating disparities in mobility. Programs include resolving urban transportation problems, expanding the utilization of personal mobility, and developing solutions for next generation mobility.
The Alan Turing Institute is named in honor of Alan Turing, whose pioneering work in theoretical and applied mathematics, engineering and computing is considered to have laid the foundations for modern-day data science and artificial intelligence.
Efficient Drivetrains receives 30-unit PHEV bus order for City of Kunming, China
Efficient Drivetrains, Inc. (EDI) has received a production order for PHEV bus drivetrain systems from the city of Kunming, China. The 30-unit order brings EDI’s total China fleet size to 168 vehicles, all of which are deployed on leading OEMs across urban and rural routes in China.
China’s continued push towards nationwide vehicle electrification is set to grow steadily through the rest of the year. Forecasts indicate that Chinese bus markets will see more than 200,000 PHEV and EV buses by 2020, with full electrification by 2027. Government regulations and subsidy programs in China grow increasingly stringent, leading bus OEMs to seek partners who can enable them to rapidly comply with mandates that require significant emission reduction over the next decade.
Replacement of traditional diesel buses with PHEV versions enables fleet operators to observe 40-50% of savings for fuel on average. Emissions are also reduced by 40-50%, and significant reductions in fleet maintenance expenses are also being realized.
Since 2015, the Chinese-certified EDI PowerDrive 6000 technology has logged more than 6 million miles and has been integrated into major OEMs across China such as Ankai, Shaanxi, Yaxing Motor Coach, Foton, and Master Transportation. EDI expects to work with more OEMs as the market in China continues to grow.
China’s aggressive push to move from traditional diesel vehicles to electrified options has changed the dynamics of the bus market. As demand extends throughout mass transportation sectors in, EDI anticipates an increase in OEM integrations and clean energy solutions in the form of our PowerDrive technology to enable their move to electric fleets.
—Taylor Yu, Head of China Development, EDI
EDI has also experienced strong growth in the North American market for full-electric buses. The company recently announced the production release of the EDI PowerDrive 7000ev (earlier post), after successfully delivering on multiple contracts in 2017 and the first half of 2018. The EDI PowerDrive 7000ev is suited for full electric school and mass transit buses, work and utility trucks, as well as logistics vehicles. With a base of more than 100 miles of all-electric driving, the battery capacity of the EDI PowerDrive 7000ev can be expanded to enable OEMs to extend driving ranges as required by customers.
Toyota moves to expand mass-production of fuel cell stacks and hydrogen tanks towards ten-fold increase post-2020
Toyota projects that global sales of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) will increase significantly after 2020 to at least 30,000 per year from today’s 3,000. To prepare for this growth, the company unveiled plans for two major new facilities: a brand-new building near its original automobile factory for expanding fuel cell (FC) stack mass production, and a new line in an existing plant to manufacture high-pressure hydrogen tanks.
Manufacturing both components at scale is critical to achieving lower system costs and wider availability for further growth and sales of FCEVs.
To increase FC stack output, Toyota will move production from its current location, within one of the existing buildings at its Honsha Plant in Toyota City, to a brand-new, eight-floor high-tech facility on the same premises, near the original site of the company’s first automobile factory in 1938.
The production of high-pressure hydrogen tanks will be handled by a new, dedicated line to be added inside the nearby Shimoyama Plant (Nº 3) in Miyoshi City (Aichi Prefecture). Previously, the hydrogen tanks were assembled at the Honsha plant on a smaller scale. Toyota’s hydrogen tanks are made of extra-thick carbon fiber and are built to withstand major impacts.
Artist rendering of the FC stack production building within the Honsha Plant premises.
The new facilities are expected to help significantly reduce CO2 emissions during the production stage. This is one of the initiatives for the Plant Zero CO2 Emissions Challenge in the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050 announced in October 2015.
Construction of the new hydrogen tank line at Shimoyama is starting now, while the exterior for the new stack production facility is already finished and work will now begin on the interior. Details of the respective facilities will be announced later with a view to start operations around 2020.
Expanding sales. Toyota introduced the mass-produced fuel cell sedan, the Mirai, in December 2014. Annual production and sales have increased yearly, going from about 700 units in 2015, to around 2,000 units in 2016, and, most recently, approximately 3,000 units in 2017. However, in order to encourage more widespread use of hydrogen-powered zero-emission vehicles, popularization needs to start by the 2020s. Toyota aims for annual sales of FCEVs to top 30,000 units globally from around that time.
At present, Mirai is sold in eleven countries: Japan, the United States, and nine countries in Europe. Toyota is working to develop an environment that will allow FCEVs to be sold in more countries and regions in the future. As part of this, demonstration tests of Mirai are currently under way in Australia, Canada, China, and the U.A.E., and Toyota is examining demand for FCEVs while continuing to help with initiatives to promote hydrogen infrastructure development.
In the Japanese market, Toyota aims to reach sales of at least 1,000 FCEV units per month and more than 10,000 units annually, from around 2020. Sales regions within Japan will be expanded further from the current four major metropolitan areas to allow even more customers to enjoy Mirai.
On the commercial side, Toyota started sales of FC buses to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in February 2017, and introduced the final version, the Sora, in 2018 with three additional units. Toyota aims to sell at least 100 such buses ahead of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Going forward, Toyota will expand its FCEV product range and continue to strengthen product appeal, aiming to bring the cost down. Also, Toyota will keep working with Toyota Group and other companies to develop a hydrogen supply infrastructure and construct a low-carbon hydrogen supply chain.
Ohio State takes first place in DOE/GM EcoCAR 3 competition
The Ohio State University has taken first place in the final year of EcoCAR 3, an Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition, sponsored by the US Department of Energy (DOE) and General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM). This is OSU’s fourth consecutive win. The team earned 895 out of 1000 overall points.
Ohio State EcoCAR built a series-parallel plug-in hybrid electric vehicle powered by E85. The powertrain components included a 2.0-liter engine, five-speed automated manual transmission, 150 kW electric machine, and an 18.9 kWh energy storage system.
EcoCAR 3 is the latest Energy Department Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC) series and challenges 16 North American university teams to redesign a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro to further reduce its environmental impact, while maintaining the performance expected from this iconic American car. Teams spent the last four years (2014-2018) harnessing those ideas into the ultimate energy-efficient, high performance vehicle.
Year Four finals began with a week of rigorous safety, technical, drive quality and emissions testing at General Motors Desert Proving Ground in Yuma, Arizona. For the second leg of competition, teams headed to southern California for track events, including autocross, acceleration, and consumer appeal at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. Teams also spent several days presenting to judges and proving how they have developed into the next generation of engineers and business leaders who are prepared to enter the auto industry and related careers. Industry and government officials judged the presentations.
Following presentations, teams hit Los Angeles roads for a 150-mile over-the-road event where the Chevrolet Camaros were scored based on performance with everyday driving applications. At the end of the second week, students had the opportunity to display their completed hybrid-electric Chevrolet Camaros with a car show at Hollywood’s famed Magic Castle.
West Virginia University and University of Alabama teams finished second and third place, respectively.
Additional sponsors joining the DOE and GM include: MathWorks; National Science Foundation; California Air Resources Board; NXP; AVL Powertrain Engineering; The Bosch Group; ETAS; PACCAR; dSPACE, Inc.; Snap-on Tools; Siemens PLM Software; GKN Driveline; Transportation Research Center (TRC, Inc.); Horiba; DENSO; Champlain Cable Corp.; Woodward; Proterra; Ricardo; Mentor Graphics; New Eagle; Gage; tesa tape; Vector CANtech, Inc.; Delphi Foundation; EcoMotors; Electric Power Research Institute, Inc.; A123 Systems; Flextronics; and Samsung SDI.
EcoCAR 3 sponsors have provided more than $87 million in software, hardware and cash donations to the 16 participating universities throughout the four years.
The 16 competing teams were: Arizona State University; California State University-Los Angeles; Colorado State University; Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; Georgia Tech; McMaster University; Mississippi State University; Ohio State University; Penn State University; University of Alabama; University of Tennessee; University of Washington; University of Waterloo; Virginia Tech University; Wayne State University; West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Nissan begins deliveries of new extended-range electric e-NV200 van to global markets
Nissan’s upgraded e-NV200 is now being shipped to customers. Built for global markets in Nissan Barcelona plant, the upgraded model features a new 40 kWh battery, combining the features of the award-winning Nissan NV200 van with the best-selling Nissan LEAF. Nissan’s Barcelona plant is responsible not only for the manufacturing of the vehicle, but also the assembly of the new 40kWh battery packs, in a specialist facility.
Deliveries to customers have now begun, with more than 4,600 orders taken since sales began in January. This reflects the strong demand Nissan is also experiencing for the new Nissan LEAF.
The new generation van will further support efforts to cut the level of emissions in city centers by making 100% electric last mile deliveries achievable for businesses and professional drivers everywhere, Nissan said.
Nissan Barcelona Plant has been the global manufacturing location for the e-NV200 since 2014, which was the best-selling electric van in Europe last year. With more than 18,000 of the original version sold worldwide, the upgraded van is now being shipped to customers in Europe and to Hong Kong, with Japan deliveries to follow.
The 40 kWh battery allows customers to drive up to 301 km (187 miles) (city WLTP cycle) on a single charge. This represents an increase of more than 60% compared to the previous generation, with longer journeys supported further by the extended European CHAdeMO Quick Charging network.
Customers can choose from two body options: the e-NV200 van and e-NV200 Evalia. Both have a versatile interior that allows users to configure racks, bins and seating to suit their needs. With 4.2m³ of load space, there is enough room to hold two Euro pallets, or cargo weighing up to 742 kg.
For customers looking to move passengers or crew, the e-NV200 Evalia makes an ideal people carrier. With its modular seating there is still plenty of room for luggage or tools, and as the only 100% electric seven-seater van available in Europe, it presents a solution for taxi and chauffeur businesses.
The introduction of the upgraded e-NV200 follows the launched of a new range of leading pickups in Nissan’s Barcelona plant: the Nissan Navara, Renault Alaskan and Mercedes Benz X-Class.
Bolivia chooses ACI Systems as strategic partner to industrialize lithium deposits
Salar de Uyuni in the Andes in southwestern Bolivia is the world’s largest salt flat (10,582 km2 / 4,086 mi2) and holds the world’s largest known deposit of lithium. The Bolivian state is creating a value chain to use the deposits of this raw material for industrial purposes. The state-owned company Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos (YLB) has now selected the German company ACI-Systems as a strategic partner for this project.
According to a 1978 study by the US Geological Survey, widely scattered brine samples from Salar de Uyuni show lithium values ranging from 80 to 1500 ppm. High values of 300-700 ppm are most prevalent in an area of about 2500 km2 in the east-central and southeastern part of the salar. A few brine samples in small areas in Coipasa and Empexa Salars have values ranging from 170 to 580 ppm Li. All the brines are essentially saturated with halite and are moderately high in sulfate (5000-15,000 ppm SO4) but low in carbonate (<500 ppm HCO3).
Potassium and magnesium values are relatively high, chiefly in the range of 2000-20,000 ppm, and the K:Mg ratio is about 1:1. The Li:K and Li:Mg ratios are relatively constant at about 1:20.
In 2013, COMIBOL completed the construction of a pilot plant for processing brines at the Salar de Uyuni, but commercial production was not expected until the fourth quarter of this year. Despite this, and other early work, the lithium desposit in Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia is currently largely untouched.
This situation is now going to change. The state enterprise Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos (YLB), which is responsible for extracting, utilizing and marketing the raw material, was founded specially for this purpose. The project was divided into three phases.
Phase three involves establishing a value chain from extraction of the raw material to the finished product, in which Bolivia has a majority stake.
The industrialization phase involves extracting and producing raw materials from residual brine, developing production capacities, as well as manufacturing and marketing cathode material and battery systems in Bolivia. YLB invited eight international consortia to submit proposals to realize this step. One of them was the German company ACI-Systems GmbH.
The concepts submitted were intensively examined, evaluated and analyzed by YLB according to their specified criteria. After numerous iteration and discussion phases, on 20 April 2018 the state-owned company selected ACI-Systems as a strategic industrialization partner.
The company is a member of the ACI Group, which specializes in developing and constructing innovative and sustainable production solutions for photovoltaics and battery system manufacture, as well as in extracting and utilizing raw materials and materials for these branches of industry.
By entering into this Bolivian-German partnership, Germany will also gain access to the lithium. The decision in favor of ACI-Systems is therefore also of strategic importance to Germany and Europe.
The decisive factor was, on the one hand, the combined high level of technical expertise of the experts in the ACI-System team, reinforced by the cooperation with K-UTEC AG Salt Technologies from Sondershausen. On the other hand, integrated approach of the concept and project content were also convincing.
Potassium sulphate, magnesium hydroxide and sodium sulphate are extracted from the residual brine in addition to lithium hydroxide, and subsequently processed or marketed. Among other things, potential partners and customers were identified for this purpose.
Another important point is the transfer of knowledge through training and enhancing the skills of Bolivian employees. Environmental aspects were also pivotal. These include the environmentally compatible extraction of the raw materials, the use of renewable energies and the establishment of a decentralized power supply which, for the first time, will enable batteries and cathodes to be produced ecologically.
Joint venture. The next step, which is to be completed by the middle of this year, is to form a public-private joint venture between YLB and ACI-Systems in Bolivia, in which the Bolivian state-owned company will hold a 51% majority stake. The tasks of this company, which will be solved jointly, are to clearly define the areas of activity, as well as to draw up detailed business and environmental plans for the subsequently-founded project companies for extracting and processing lithium.
The differentiated conception of the technical and economic implementation of the project also falls within the company’s common field of activity. As project manager, ACI-Systems will be responsible for the final selection of technology and implementation partners, right up to the construction of the necessary production lines to ensure innovative, efficient and sustainable production.
Wärtsilä LNGPac passes 100th order milestone
The technology group Wärtsilä’s has booked the 100th order for its LNGPac Fuel Gas Supply Systems. Two new shuttle tankers being built for Singapore based AET Tankers will feature Wärtsilä 34DF dual-fuel auxiliary engines running primarily on LNG fuel, and fitted with LNGPac units. This contract brought the total number of orders received for this innovative system to 100.
The Wärtsilä LNGPac system is based on an IMO type C LNG storage tank with either double-walled vacuum or single-walled polyurethane insulation. Bunkering takes place from the bunkering station to the LNG tank via an insulated pipe. All necessary process equipment is installed in a separate unit which can be either mounted directly to the LNG tank or placed remotely from the LNG tank. The main process equipment ensures correct gas temperature and pressure for the engines and other gas consumers.
First introduced in 2009, the Wärtsilä LNGPac has played an important role in establishing the viability of LNG as a marine fuel. The LNGPac fuel system can be offered as a standalone product, or as part of a complete propulsion system.
A major reason for the global acceptance of LNG fuel for shipping is that Wärtsilä realised at an early stage that more than just a dual-fuel engine and a stand-alone LNG system was needed. LNG fuelled ships require a complete fuel handling system, and the innovative LNGPac system very successfully meets this requirement.
—Mathias Jansson, General Manager, Fuel Gas Supply Systems, Wärtsilä Marine Solutions
The first LNGPac installation was for the chemical tanker Bit Viking owned by Swedish operator Tarbit. This vessel was converted for LNG fuel operation in 2011, and its success paved the way for the rapid acceptance of the Wärtsilä solution. Today the LNGPac is installed on some 12 or more different types of vessel, including passenger ferries, tugs, dredgers and offshore vessels. Wärtsilä can deliver LNG systems for propulsion and power generation for any applicable type of ship or engine.
Since the original introduction of the LNGPac, Wärtsilä has continued to develop the system. The company has, for example, pioneered the utilisation of the cold energy stored in LNG by using it to cool the onboard HVAC and galley system. Another pioneering achievement has been the development of a compact LNGPac with an integrated gas valve unit (GVU) and airlock.
The inline tank connection space for single shell tanks has been developed, as has been a dedicated LNG fuel pump based on the well-proven deepwell pump technology. As the maritime industry moves into a new era of connectivity and digitalisation, Wärtsilä is actively developing more smart features for the LNGPac, such as energy content measurement and real-time gas quality measurement.
The LNGPac system can be customised to the needs of each project on a case by case basis. Dedicated engineering is conducted from the beginning of the project to match the specific operational requirements, safety and classification society requirements.
Kia unveils upgraded Sportage with diesel 48V mild-hybrid powertrain
In Germany, Kia Motors revealed the upgraded Kia Sportage, introducing a range of enhancements to the brand’s European and global best-seller. The Sportage’s advanced new EcoDynamic+ 48V diesel mild-hybrid powertrain (earlier post) is the first to be launched as part of the brand’s global powertrain electrification strategy. Kia is the first manufacturer to offer hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery-electric and 48-volt mild-hybrid technology across its full model line-up. Kia will launch 16 advanced powertrain vehicles by 2025, including five new hybrids, five plug-in hybrids, five battery-electric vehicles and, in 2020, a new fuel-cell electric vehicle. Kia Sportage 2018, European spec. Kia sold more than 131,000 examples of the Sportage in 2017, representing a quarter of the brand’s total European sales. Upgrades to the Sportage range also include modifications to GT Line models. European customer deliveries of the new model will start during Q3 2018. The Sportage now offers a wider range of engines, including Kia’s new ‘EcoDynamics+’ 2.0-liter ‘R’ diesel mild-hybrid powertrain. EcoDynamics+ supplements acceleration with power from a 48-volt battery, and extends engine-off time with a new Mild-Hybrid Starter-Generator unit. The EcoDynamics+ diesel mild-hybrid system is paired with Kia’s Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) active emissions control technology, reducing CO2 emissions by up to 4% on the new Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP), and up to 7% on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC). The Sportage’s existing 1.7-liter CRDi (common-rail direct injection) diesel engine has been replaced with Kia’s efficient new 1.6-liter ‘U3’ CRDi engine, the cleanest diesel engine Kia has ever made. The new 1.6-liter diesel engine produces 115 or 136 ps, with higher-powered models available with all-wheel drive and seven-speed double-clutch transmission. All powertrains are now fully compliant with the Euro 6d TEMP emissions standard. The upgraded Sportage adopts Kia’s latest advanced driving assistance systems, including Smart Cruise Control with Stop&Go, an Around View Monitor for easier parking maneuvers, and Driver Attention Warning. European customers have a choice of Kia’s new infotainment systems: a 7.0-inch touchscreen, or a new frameless 8.0-inch infotainment system.
CalZEV Coalition supports Innovative Clean Transit measure under consideration at California ARB; 100% zero-emission buses
Californians for Zero Emission Vehicles (CalZEV), a coalition of public health, environmental and electric vehicle industry organizations, announced its strong support for the Innovative Clean Transit (ICT) measure currently before the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Under the proposal (earlier post), California transit agencies would be required to purchase 100% zero-emission buses by 2040 as they gradually phase out their dependence on buses that pollute the atmosphere. CARB staff released the Innovative Clean Transit Discussion Document on 12 December 2017 for public comments and held a regulatory workshop on 15 December 2017. CARB staff is still collecting comments, and had originally planned an April 2018 workshop to discuss a revised proposal. CalZEV expects CARB to make a decision on the ICT in September 2018. Full battery-electric buses running on today’s California electric grid emit 70% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than both natural gas and diesel-powered buses, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. An MIT study estimated that air pollution is responsible for 200,000 premature deaths in the United States every year—higher than CDC estimates for annual deaths from accidents, strokes and lower chronic lower respiratory diseases. Meanwhile, electric buses are already more cost effective over the lifetime of the vehicle, compared to fossil fuel powered buses. Replacing a single conventional bus with an electric bus can save a transit authority as much as $448,000 in operational savings over a 12-year period, CalZEV said. The transition to an all-electric bus fleet is estimated to save California taxpayers more than half a billion dollars, while reducing air pollution, and boosting the state’s economy. People of color in California bear the most burdens from air pollution in the state. Until California’s underserved communities become a high priority for the deployment of truly clean transportation, they will continue to feel the worst impacts of the transportation sector. California’s burgeoning heavy-duty electric vehicle sector presents a unique opportunity to combat pollution and climate change, while at the same time providing Californians an opportunity to grow clean energy jobs.—Adrian Martinez, staff attorney at Earthjustice Californians for Zero Emissions Vehicles is a coalition of more than ten organizations and companies, including: AxleTech International, Inc., Brightline Defense, California Electric Transportation Coalition, Coltura, Green for All, Green Power Bus, EVgo, The Lion Electric Co., Motiv Power, Plug In America, Proterra and Zoox.
MIT team develops new lane-change algorithm for autonomous cars
Most existing lane-change algorithms for autonomous cars have one of two drawbacks: Either they rely on detailed statistical models of the driving environment, which are difficult to assemble and too complex to analyze on the fly; or they’re so simple that they can lead to impractically conservative decisions, such as never changing lanes at all. At the IEEE 2018 International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) are presenting a new lane-change algorithm that splits the difference. It allows for more aggressive lane changes than the simple models do but relies only on immediate information about other vehicles’ directions and velocities to make decisions. The motivation is, What can we do with as little information as possible? How can we have an autonomous vehicle behave as a human driver might behave? What is the minimum amount of information the car needs to elicit that human-like behavior?—Alyssa Pierson, a postdoc at CSAIL and first author on the new paper Pierson is joined on the paper by Daniela Rus, the Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; Sertac Karaman, associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics; and Wilko Schwarting, a graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science. The optimization solution will ensure navigation with lane changes that can model an entire range of driving styles, from conservative to aggressive, with safety guarantees, said Rus, who is the director of CSAIL. One standard way for autonomous vehicles to avoid collisions is to calculate buffer zones around the other vehicles in the environment. The buffer zones describe not only the vehicles’ current positions but their likely future positions within some time frame. Planning lane changes then becomes a matter of simply staying out of other vehicles’ buffer zones. For any given method of computing buffer zones, algorithm designers must prove that it guarantees collision avoidance, within the context of the mathematical model used to describe traffic patterns. That proof can be complex, so the optimal buffer zones are usually computed in advance. During operation, the autonomous vehicle then calls up the precomputed buffer zones that correspond to its situation. The problem is that if traffic is fast enough and dense enough, precomputed buffer zones may be too restrictive. An autonomous vehicle will fail to change lanes at all, whereas a human driver would cheerfully zip around the roadway. With the MIT researchers’ system, if the default buffer zones are leading to performance that’s far worse than a human driver’s, the system will compute new buffer zones on the fly—complete with proof of collision avoidance. That approach depends on a mathematically efficient method of describing buffer zones, so that the collision-avoidance proof can be executed quickly. The MIT researchers began with a Gaussian distribution representing the current position of the car, factoring in both its length and the uncertainty of its location estimation. Then, based on estimates of the car’s direction and velocity, the researchers’ system constructs a logistic function. Multiplying the logistic function by the Gaussian distribution skews the distribution in the direction of the car’s movement, with higher speeds increasing the skew. The skewed distribution defines the vehicle’s new buffer zone. But its mathematical description is so simple—using only a few equation variables—that the system can evaluate it on the fly. The researchers tested their algorithm in a simulation including up to 16 autonomous cars driving in an environment with several hundred other vehicles. The autonomous vehicles were not in direct communication but ran the proposed algorithm in parallel without conflict or collisions. Each car used a different risk threshold that produced a different driving style, allowing us to create conservative and aggressive drivers. Using the static, precomputed buffer zones would only allow for conservative driving, whereas our dynamic algorithm allows for a broader range of driving styles.—Alyssa Pierson This project was supported, in part, by the Toyota Research Institute and the Office of Naval Research. Resources A. Pierson, W. Schwarting, S. Karaman, and D. Rus, “Navigating Congested Environments with Risk Level Sets,” In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), May 2018, Paper ThA@G.6.
BP invests in ultra-fast charging battery company StoreDot
BP Ventures has invested $20 million in Israel-based ultra-fast charging battery developer StoreDot. (Earlier post.) StoreDot has developed a lithium ion-based battery technology which enables ultra-fast charging for the mobile and industrial markets. Using this technology, StoreDot is also developing a new type of electric-car battery that will aim to achieve a charging experience that is comparable to the time spent to refuel a traditional car. StoreDot currently expects first sales of its flash batteries for mobile devices as early as 2019. The EV flash battery enables full charge in 5 minutes, providing up to 300 miles (480 km) of driving distance, depending on the model of EV. StoreDot fast charging technology shortens the amount of time drivers have to wait in line to charge their cars, thus also reducing the number of required charging posts in a given charging station. EV flash battery’s remarkably fast charging rate is achieved due to StoreDot’s novel materials and new battery structure. The electric vehicle will have a pack comprising of hundreds of EV flash battery cells that can store enough energy for a full EV range on a 5-minute charge. For a 300-mile car, this translates to 60 miles of travel range on a 1-minute charge. StoreDot’s core technology incorporates chemically synthesized organic molecules of non-biological origin. These innovative molecules demonstrate uniquely tunable optical and electrochemical properties, which allow for enhanced performance of energy storage devices. Current Li-ion batteries contain inorganic compounds in the battery’s cathode, typically comprising metal oxides or polyanions which are continuously recharged by the insertion of lithium ions. This process limits ionic conductivity, thereby reducing the power density and shortening the battery’s life expectancy. Moreover, the liquid electrolyte used in LiBs is highly volatile and flammable, posing a safety risk to consumers. Using a unique multifunction electrode (MFE), StoreDot’s FlashBattery combines two benefits of energy storage solutions, incorporating the high-power rapid-charging rate capability with the high-energy storage ability. This optimized charging ability is achieved through an innovative electrode structure containing proprietary organic polymers with metal oxide compounds of the cathode that trigger the redox reactions. This solution enables ions to flow from a modified anode to a modified cathode at a speed that is much faster than existing technologies. Together with a proprietary separator and electrolyte, this new architecture delivers a high current and low internal resistance, with enhanced energy density and a prolonged battery life. While some battery manufacturers are able to improve only one of the following properties—capacity, fast-charging or extended battery-life—StoreDot’s novel technology has optimized these three parameters simultaneously, the company says. In September 2017, Daimler led a third round of financing for StoreDot; the $60M round also included Lucion venture capital and participation of financial institutions from Israel and China, as well as existing investors such as Samsung Ventures and Norma Investments, representing Roman Abramovich. In conjunction with the round, Daimler joined as a strategic partner to accelerate the adoption of the Flash Battery technology to the Electric Vehicles market. This round of funding focused on the adoption of StoreDot’s fast charging Flash Battery technology to the electric vehicle segment. StoreDot’s Flash Battery technology enables charging any electric vehicle as quick as filling a tank of gas, as it only takes five minutes to reach a full charge that – depending on the battery capacity – can keep the vehicle going for 300 miles or more. StoreDot technology uses advanced nano materials as well as proprietary organic compounds to optimize the charging speed of electric vehicles. The number of electric vehicles (EVs) worldwide is growing rapidly and BP is working across the supply chain to support the development of the technologies and infrastructure required to support that growth. BP believes that ultra-fast charging will be key in accelerating the adoption of EVs worldwide. Ultra-fast charging is at the heart of BP’s electrification strategy. StoreDot’s technology shows real potential for car batteries that can charge in the same time it takes to fill a gas tank. With our growing portfolio of charging infrastructure and technologies, we’re excited by our opportunities to develop truly innovative EV customer offers. We are committed to be the fuel provider of choice—no matter what car our customers drive.—Tufan Erginbilgic, chief executive, BP Downstream BP’s work on advanced mobility and developing fast and convenient EV charging networks, including venturing investments in both StoreDot and Freewire Technologies, supports customers who aim to reduce their emissions through EVs. BP currently has more than 70 charge points on its retail sites globally. In January 2018, BP invested $5 million in FreeWire Technologies, a manufacturer of mobile EV rapid charging systems. (Earlier post.) On 10 May, BP signed an MOU with China’s NIO Capital to explore opportunities in advanced mobility.
Lightning Systems expands all-electric model lineup for Ford Transit with 150-mile-range version
Lightning Systems, a global developer of zero-emissions solutions for commercial fleets, announced the LightningElectric Ford Transit product line (earlier post) will expand to include a 150-mile range version, adding to the 50-mile and 100-mile versions. The LightningElectric is a battery-electric drivetrain package for the heavy-duty Ford Transit, a product used extensively by commercial and government fleets. Last month, Lightning announced that in testing, the Ford Transit 350HD equipped with the zero-emissions LightningElectric drivetrain achieved 61 MPGe on EPA City routes and 66 MPGe on EPA Highway routes. This compares to 13 and 15 MPG respectively for the identically configured gasoline Ford Transit 350HD. The testing is a part of the newly released 2018 CARB efficiency and range validation test procedures for medium-duty vehicles. The new 150-mile LightningElectric Ford Transit provides an answer for our customers who need more range for longer cargo and shuttle routes. This longer range, combined with an industry-first 50 kW DC Fast Charge capability, means customers can use the vehicle for 3-shift operations and long-distance routes.—Tim Reeser, CEO, Lightning Systems LightningElectric is available for the Ford Transit as part of Ford’s eQVM program. The product, which went on sale earlier this year, is available for heavy-duty Ford Transits with a 10,360-pound gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). Ford’s vehicle warranty covers the base chassis for vehicles with the Lightning drivetrain. Ford QVM dealers and upfitters perform installations and service. The all-electric Lightning product features liquid-cooled Lithium-Ion batteries from volume-ready world-class battery suppliers. The batteries can be fast-charged in 30 minutes for the 50-mile version and 90 minutes for the 150-mile version. Depending on battery option and drive cycle, LightningElectric has a payload capacity of up to 4,000 pounds. The longer range pack uses similar technology, but a newer generation of cells, said Reeser.
Punch Powertrain and XPT to form joint venture for production of EV powertrains in China
Punch Powertrain and XPT have signed a joint venture agreement that will establish a new manufacturing plant in Nanjing and will yearly supply hundreds of thousands of electric powertrains for pure EV applications to customers of both partners. The partners will invest €10 million in a new production facility in Nanjing, where powertrains of both partners will be industrialized. Design and development of current and future products will remain within the parent companies. To start the cooperation, one single-speed electric transmission by Punch Powertrain and one by XPT will be brought in production beginning of 2019. Punch Powertrain’s EP2 packages a high-output switched reluctance motor, single-speed gearbox, power electronics and controls. XPT is a global startup, based in China, focused on e-propulsion platforms, including Electric drive systems and energy storage systems. XPT operates under the car manufacturer NIO, supplying primarily to NIO, but also to other OEMs. XPT has full design and development capabilities for electric propulsion systems. In Punch Powertrain it has found an established partner with broad automotive experience for the industrialization of their transmissions. Punch Powertrain is an independent supplier of powertrains with more than 45 years of experience in development and industrialization. The company has started with CVTs and in recent years expanded its portfolio with DCTs, Hybrid and Electric Powertrains. This JV enables Punch Powertrain to accelerate its electrification rate and to faster scale up its production of electric powertrains. In the past years Punch Powertrain has successfully been implementing its expansion strategy by expanding its product portfolio and establishing a broader customer base on the global market. According to Punch Powertrain’s business intelligence, the move towards New Energy vehicles will happen faster than generally assumed by the ICE-minded automotive community. The company has been taking steps towards cleaner and electrified drive systems for years; with the mass production of its first electric powertrain, the company sees its strategy materializing. Earlier this month, Groupe PSA selected Punch Powertrain as the supplier of its next-generation e-DCT electrified transmission systems by 2022. (Earlier post.)
UK government launches new clean air strategy; ending sales of conventional diesel and gasoline LDVs by 2040
UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove published a new Clean Air Strategy to cut air pollution backed up through new primary legislation. The UK said it will go further and faster than the EU in reducing human exposure to particulate matter pollution. These proposals are in addition to the government’s £3.5-billion (US$4.7-billion) plan to reduce air pollution from road transport and diesel vehicles, set out in July last year. The European Commission is taking the UK to court—along with Germany, France, Italy, Romania, and Hungary—over its long-standing failure to meet EU limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO₂). The new UK strategy, now out for consultation, is a key part of a 25-Year Plan; stated goals for the strategy include: By 2025, to halve the number of people living in locations where concentrations of particulate matter are above the WHO guideline limit of 10 ug/m3. To introduce new primary legislation, which will give local government new powers to improve air quality. To legislate to ensure only the cleanest domestic fuels will be available for sale, preventing 8,000 tonnes of harmful particulate matter from entering the atmosphere each year. To take concerted action to tackle ammonia from farming, responsible for 88% of ammonia emissions, by requiring farmers to invest in the infrastructure and equipment that will reduce emissions. Farmers will be supported to achieve this through a new system of public money for public goods. To work with international partners to research and develop new standards for tires and brakes to address toxic non-exhaust emissions of micro plastics from vehicles which can pollute air and water. To provide a personal air quality messaging system to inform the public, particularly those who are vulnerable to air pollution, about the air quality forecast, providing clearer information on air pollution episodes and accessible health advice. Among the other actions detailed in the new plan to reduce emissions from transport are: A coming plan to reduce emissions from shipping and aviation. Ending the sale of new conventional diesel and gasoline cars and vans by 2040. New legislation enabling the Transport Secretary to compel manufacturers to recall vehicles and machinery for any failures in their emissions control system, and make tampering with an emissions control system a legal offense. A coming plan to phase out diesel-only trains by 2040. Air quality strategies for all major English ports. Air quality has improved significantly since 2010 but sixty years on from the historic Clean Air Act a clear truth remains—air pollution is making people ill, shortening lives and damaging our economy and environment. This is why today we are launching this clean air strategy, backed up with new primary legislation. It sets out the comprehensive action required across all parts of government to improve air quality.—Environment Secretary Gove The UK also released a report showing just 1 in 5 respondents felt they knew a lot about the effects of air pollution. The report also showed a lack of awareness of the wide range of sources of air pollution with most naming transport as the main cause. However, transport emissions are only one part of the problem. From farming to cleaning solvents there are a large range of other day to day practices, processes and products that produce harmful emissions. Of particular concern, the government noted, is burning wood and coal to heat a home which contributes 38% of UK emissions of damaging particulate matter. Cleaner fuels and stoves produce less smoke, less soot and more heat. In future only the cleanest domestic fuels will be available for sale. Also announced, by UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, was a new tool for local authorities developed for Public Health England by Imperial College and the UK Health Forum which will enable local authorities to estimate the economic impact of air pollution in their area. The tool takes account of the cumulative cost for diseases where there is a strong association with air pollution: coronary heart disease; stroke; lung cancer; and child asthma.
Exoès and Saft partner to improve Li-ion battery thermal management
Organic Rankine Cycle specialist Exoès and Saft Incubator have signed a cooperation agreement to do common tests to improve next generation battery thermal management. The temperature of a Li-ion battery has a major influence on its performance and its lifespan. Harsh climatic environments and severe solicitations can rapidly degrade cells if their temperature is not correctly managed. Aside from the cell chemistry, the associated thermal management is another strategic component of the battery system performance. Saft is a 100-year-old company and one of the leading developers of cutting edge batteries. This agreement will enable Saft to explore new paths to improve the performance of its batteries with innovative thermal management in various applications. We have found in Exoès a really skilled partner in thermal management and testing that will hopefully bring further innovation to our developments. The battery pack that includes the thermal management function is foreseen to be a key driver to improve battery performances in the coming years.—Nicolas Evanno, Director of Incubator Department at Saft This cooperation will enable Exoès to demonstrate its key competences in thermal management and testing. This also gives Exoès a strong position in the field of engineering services and product development for batteries in the sectors of energy and transport. We consider that thermal management will be key to improve battery performance in the coming years. This partnership is the first stepping stone of our offers in the zero- emission domain which Exoès will strongly develop in the 3 coming years.—Arnaud Desrentes, Exoès CEO Exoès Engineering has key competences and technologies in thermal management and fluid transfers dedicated to 2 markets: thermal engine emissions reduction and zero emission propulsion and storage. The company, founded in 2009, has developed the Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC)-based EVE (Energy Via Exhaust), an exhaust waste heat recovery technology which reduces heavy-duty engine fuel consumption and emissions. A heat exchanger evaporates a working fluid into high pressure gas; the transfer of heat from the exhaust gases is controlled by an actuated by-pass valve. Exoès’ patented expander is mechanically coupled to the powertrain. As the low pressure gas comes out of the expander, it is condensed into liquid through a compact heat exchanger (condenser). The closed loop of the working fluid is fed by an electro-pump, which drives the working fluid back to the boiler.
New method for the precise analysis of the composition of secondary organic aerosols in PM
Researchers in Poland have developed a new precise method for the chemical analysis of secondary organic aerosol (SOA)—an important yet not fully characterized constituent of atmospheric particulate matter. The method, easily adaptable in many modern laboratories, not only determines the chemical composition of compounds, but also recognizes changes in the spatial distribution of atoms in molecules. The Warsaw-based scientists from the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IPC PAS), the Institute of Organic Chemistry of the PAS and the Institute of Environmental Protection of the National Research Institute presented their method in a paper in the ACS journal Analytical Chemistry. The chemical properties of molecules, especially organic ones, are determined not only by their chemical composition itself, but also by the spatial structure of the molecules. SOAs are characterized by a richness of chemical compounds, many of them occurring in isomeric forms—i.e., differing in the distribution of atoms in the molecule, and consequently also in their chemical properties. The detection of these isomers used to be the weak point of modern analytical techniques. Atmospheric aerosols are a major pollutant of the Earth’s atmosphere. They consist of fine particulate matter with diameters below 100 μm that are suspended in the air. A large proportion of aerosols originate in the atmosphere through the chemical transformation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) followed by gas-to-particle partitioning and/or transfer, followed by further reaction therein. These aerosols are known as secondary organic aerosols (SOA). Consequently, SOA particles are complex mixtures of organic and inorganic compounds that have a negative impact on human health, influence the biosphere and take part in climate change. The organic fraction of atmospheric aerosols is one of the most important subjects of recent atmospheric studies. … Most of these compounds are strongly hydrophilic and occur as minute quantities in samples. Thus, they are difficult to separate or analyze with conventional techniques and resist detailed identification of molecular structure, including differentiation of positional and/or stereo isomers. … the quantification of SOA components of complex isomeric profiles remains a challenge for analytical atmospheric chemists. The goal of this study was to optimise and improve commonly used UHPLC [ultra-high performance liquid chromatography] methods and create a tool for the qualitative comparison for SOA compositions obtained in different environmental laboratories. —Spolnik et al. The Warsaw-based scientists have shown that a very accurate chemical composition of the atmospheric aerosol can be obtained without any great financial expenditure, with the help of apparatus already operating in many contemporary laboratories. There is only one condition: during the analysis, various analytical chemistry tools need to be skillfully combined. In this tandem analytical technique, the key role is played by the specific combination of possibilities offered by two quite common analytical techniques: chromatography and mass spectrometry. Particulate matter is collected for research using special samplers. They suck in air, which passes through a system of nozzles allowing for division of the aerosol particle fractions depending on their size. What enters the instrument reaches a clean quartz fibre disc on which it is deposited. Then, by means of solvent extraction, the collected aerosol particles are transferred to the solution and concentrated there. As part of our method, we chose, among others, more effective solvents for transferring particles to the solution, which significantly improved the results obtained by mass spectrometry.—Dr. Rafal Szmigielski, corresponding author and professor at IPC PAS The new method of analyzing smog particles is accurate and fully reproducible. Samples taken from the same place, analyzed in different laboratories, lead to the same results. This means that those who are professionally responsible for monitoring the environment will be able to provide the public with truly reliable information on the current concentration of pollutants in the air. Knowledge of not only the chemical composition of smog particles, but also the isomers of its individual components, is of additional, significant practical significance. With such accurate knowledge, scientists are able to more precisely identify the sources responsible for the emission of individual compounds and recreate the migration of pollutants in the atmosphere. Resources Grzegorz Spolnik, Paulina Wach, Krzysztof J. Rudzinski, Krzysztof Skotak, Witold Danikiewicz, and Rafal Szmigielski (2018) “Improved UHPLC-MS/MS Methods for Analysis of Isoprene-Derived Organosulfates” Analytical Chemistry 90 (5), 3416-3423 doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.7b05060
Study suggests more active commute could cut risk of developing and dying from heart disease
People who are more active when commuting to work by walking or cycling could be cutting their relative risk of developing ischaemic heart disease or stroke by 11% and their relative risk of dying from these diseases by 30%, suggests an open-access study published in the BMJ journal Heart. Physical activity, including less vigorous forms such as walking and cycling, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Despite this well-known benefit, levels of activity are still low in many countries. There are concerns that many peoples’ lives involve increasingly sedentary occupations and little opportunity for leisure time physical activity. Thus, activity as part of a journey—such as the commute or for transport in general—can offer a comparatively easy way to integrate exercise into daily life. However, despite current clinical practice guidelines recommending physical activity, the benefits of active travel on mortality and morbidity are still unclear. A team of researchers from the University of Cambridge, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and Imperial College London, set out to investigate the associations between using alternatives to the car which are more active for commuting and non-commuting purposes, and illness and mortality. The researchers used data on 358,799 participants in the UK Biobank, a national population based study designed to measure and track the health of adult residents of primarily urban areas in the UK. Data was studied on these people between 2006 and 2010. People were followed up for an average of seven years. They were asked about their commute and non-commute travel and to detail whether they relied exclusively on the car or used alternative modes of transport that were more active at least some of the time. Outcome measures used were incident and fatal cardiovascular disease (CVD), incident and fatal cancer, and all-cause mortality. Among the results of the study: Approximately two-thirds of commuters relied exclusively on the car to travel to work, with more active travel patterns being more frequently reported for non-commuting travel. Cycling was less prevalent, being mentioned by 8.5% and 7% of regular commuters for commuting and non-commuting travel, respectively, and by 4.8% of other participants. Analysis of the data showed that regular commuters with more active patterns of travel on the commute had a 11% lower risk of incident cardiovascular disease (CVD) and 30% lower risk of fatal CVD. Those regular commuters who also had more active patterns of commute and non-commute travel combined had an even lower risk of fatal CVD: 43% less risk. Among people who were not regular commuters, more active patterns of travel were associated with an 8% lower risk of all-cause mortality. This was an observational study, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, but the authors said their analysis had used a very large multicentre general population dataset, and had focused on feasible travel choices for commuting and non-commuting travel. The authors took into account potential confounding factors, such as other physical activity, fruit and vegetable consumption and measures of socioeconomic status. They also excluded participants who developed disease or died within two years of follow-up to reduce the likelihood of reverse causation—meaning that those who have early signs of disease may be less active because of their illness and so more likely to travel by car. They concluded that interventions that encourage people to make more use of public transport, walking and cycling could be more widely promoted, including by clinicians. Resources Panter J, Mytton O, Sharp S, et al. (2018) “Using alternatives to the car and risk of all-cause, cardiovascular and cancer mortality” Heart doi: 10.1136/heartjnl-2017-312699
Consumer Reports declines to recommend Tesla Model 3
Consumer Reports, although finding “plenty to like” about the Tesla Model 3, including record-setting range as well as exhilarating acceleration and handling that could make it a healthy competitor to performance-oriented cars such as BMW’s 3 Series and the Audi A4, declined to recommend the EV. Consumer Reports said that its testers found big flaws with the vehicle, such as long stopping distances in the emergency braking test and difficult-to-use controls. CR said that in its testing, the Model 3’s stopping distance of 152 feet from 60 mph was far worse than any contemporary car it had tested and about 7 feet longer than the stopping distance of a Ford F-150 full-sized pickup. A Tesla spokesperson told CR that the company’s own testing found stopping distances from 60 to 0 mph were an average of 133 feet, with the same tires as the CR Model 3. The automaker noted that stopping-distance results are affected by variables such as road surface, weather conditions, tire temperature, brake conditioning, outside temperature, and past driving behavior that may have affected the brake system. CR said that its braking test is meant to determine how a vehicle performs in an emergency situation. The test is based on an industry-standard procedure designed by SAE International. The testers take the car up to 60 mph, then slam on the brakes until the car comes to a stop. They repeat this multiple times to ensure consistent results. Between each test, the vehicle is driven approximately a mile to cool the brakes and make sure they don’t overheat. The test is done at CR’s 327-acre test facility on dedicated braking surfaces that are monitored for consistent surface friction. Before each test, we make sure the brake pads and tires have been properly conditioned. We’ve conducted it on more than 500 vehicles, and we are always looking for consistent, repeatable results.—Jake Fisher, director of auto testing at CR In CR testing of the Model 3, the first stop recorded was significantly shorter (around 130 feet, similar to Tesla’s findings), but that distance was not repeated, even after the brakes cooled overnight. Consumer Reports publishes a distance based on all the stops we record in the test, not just the shortest individual stop. Because CR saw some inconsistency in the braking performance, it got a second Model 3 (a privately owned vehicle that was loaned to CR) to verify the results. (CR has tested second samples in previous situations to double-check findings.) The results of testing on the second vehicle were almost identical. The Tesla Model 3’s 152 feet is 21 feet longer than the class average of 131 feet for luxury compact sedans and 25 feet longer than the results for its much larger SUV sibling, the Model X. CR noted that is experience with the Model 3’s braking is not unique. Car and Driver, in its published test of a Model 3, said it noticed “a bizarre amount of variation” in its test, including one stop from 70 mph that took “an interminable 196 feet.” CR noted that Tesla responded that the company has the ability to update its vehicles over the air, and that such over-the-air software updates can improve factors such as stopping distance. Controls. Another major factor that compromised the Model 3’s CR road-test score was its controls. This car places almost all its controls and displays on a center touch screen, with no gauges on the dash, and few buttons inside the car. CR noted that this layout forces drivers to take multiple steps to accomplish simple tasks. The CR testers found that everything from adjusting the mirrors to changing the direction of the airflow from the air-conditioning vents required using the touch screen. Such types of complex interactions with a touch screen can cause driver distraction because each act forces drivers to take their eyes off the road and a hand off the steering wheel. The Model 3’s stiff ride, unsupportive rear seat and excessive wind noise at highway speeds also hurt its road-test score. In the compact luxury sedan class, most competitors deliver a more comfortable ride and rear seat. The upside. The performance and ergonomic problems were serious downsides to an otherwise impressive performance sedan, CR said. The Model 3 delivered a “blistering” 0-60 time of 5.3 seconds, and its handling was reminiscent of a Porsche 718 Boxster. CR testers found the Model 3 “thrilling” to drive. In addition, the Model 3 set a range record in CR testing. It managed to go 350 miles (563 km) on a single charge—the longest distance CR has ever recorded in an EV—when set to Tesla’s higher regenerative braking mode (which the company refers to as Standard Regenerative Braking Mode). This mode will aggressively slow the vehicle to charge the battery as soon as the driver removes his or her foot from the accelerator pedal. When set to the lower regenerative braking mode, which more accurately reflects the driving experience of a conventional vehicle, the EV still managed to go 310 miles (499 km)—in line with what Tesla estimated for the car. Resources Consumer Reports 2018 Tesla Model 3 road test