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EMBATT-goes-FAB project developing bipolar Li-ion batteries and production processes
Project partners thyssenkrupp System Engineering GmbH, IAV GmbH, Daimler AG and the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS are developing bipolar Li-ion batteries and processes for their fabrication in the EMBATT-goes-FAB project sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.
With the EMBATT battery, the project partners are pursuing a new approach to achieving system-level energy densities of more than 450 Wh/l and hence making the range of electric vehicles suitable for everyday use.
These bipolar Li-ion batteries, like fuel cells, consist of stacked electrodes connected in series. In contrast to conventional Li-ion batteries, these electrodes are, as the name indicates, bipolar. This means that the active materials for the battery cathode and, overleaf, the active materials for the anode are applied to a common electrode carrier.
The individual Li-ion cells are then no longer packed separately in aluminum housings. Only the finished stack of electrodes is given a fixed housing. This eliminates housing components and connecting elements, which saves costs and space in the vehicle.
The freed-up space can be filled with more active material. As a result, the battery can store more energy and the vehicle can drive further. Li-ion bipolar batteries have so far only been investigated on a laboratory and pilot scale.
By researching scaled manufacturing technologies and integration solutions, the project aims to advance the industrialization of bipolar batteries.
The motivation for the four project partners to take this technology to the next level of maturity is obvious, as is the incentive for the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy, which will provide financial support for the “EMBATT-goes-FAB” project over a period of two years.
The partners must be closely interlinked in order to master the new challenges. These range from the production of improved bipolar electrodes based on lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt oxides and graphite as storage materials (Fraunhofer IKTS), to the scaling of assembly technology up to a size of 1000 x 30 cm² (thyssenkrupp System Engineering), the incorporation of an electric battery monitoring system (IAV GmbH), and safety simulations to address specific vehicle requirements (Daimler AG).
2019 Kia Niro EV crossover utility makes North American debut at LA Auto Show
The 2019 Kia Niro EV made its North American debut at the LA Auto Show. Energy and power for Niro EV comes from a liquid-cooled 64 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery packaged under the floor of the vehicle to allow for minimal passenger space intrusion.
Combined Charging System (CCS) DC fast-charge is standard equipment, supporting an approximately 100-mile recharge in 30 minutes at on the 50 kW charger at 200 amps; 80% total battery capacity is available in 75 minutes.
The Level 2 (240v) at 7.2 kWh charger needs approximately 9.5 hours for a full charge.
(Kia Motors Corporation sources EV, HEV, and PHEV batteries from multiple global suppliers. The battery specifications and exact cell chemistry varies for each application, which can impact materials and sourcing. Globally, battery manufacturers, including Kia suppliers LG Chem and SK innovation, source battery elements, including cobalt, from a variety of regions. These battery manufacturers regularly review mineral sourcing, and re-source to new areas to manage stability, cost, logistics, and other factors, ultimately looking at other ways to source cobalt and to reduce usage.)
With 291 lb-ft (395 N·m) of torque, the Niro EV’s 150 kW electric motor offers plenty of pull. With a low center of gravity due to the floor-mounted battery pack and a 106.3 inch-long wheelbase, the Niro EV delivers a vehicle that’s entertaining to drive, stable and feels planted and substantial on the road.
The Niro EV is equipped with a variety of tools that put energy management control in the driver’s hands, including:
Four drive modes—Eco, Normal, Sport and Eco+—that automatically adjust regenerative braking level, air conditioning and heating settings, and even set speed limits to help manage operating efficiency.
Smart regenerative braking operated via paddle shifters provides drivers the ability to slow the car and capture kinetic energy, returning energy to the battery and adding extra range. Drivers can choose from four regen braking levels (0 to 3) depending on how aggressive drivers want the regen effort and energy efficiency (range) needs.
Brake and Hold System feature allows regen paddle shifter to bring the car to a full stop, adding energy to the battery that would be lost using normal braking.
Smart Regen System adjusts the regenerative braking level based on a vehicle being detected in front of the Niro EV and can create smoother coast-down driving, especially when descending a steep road.
Smart Eco Pedal Guide display on the instrument cluster that helps to keep the driver aware of real-time power distribution based on accelerator pedal input.
When Kia designed and created the Niro, it was engineered to accommodate many different advanced electrified powertrains. First to arrive in 2016 was the hybrid, then in 2017 the Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV), and now a fully-electric powertrain.
The new Niro EV will be built in South Korea at Kia’s Hwaseong manufacturing facility, alongside the Niro hybrid and plug-in hybrid. When it goes on sale early next year (pricing will be announced near the on-sale date), the Niro EV will be available in two trims, EX and EX Premium, which adds a host of upscale features to the already well-equipped EX.
Audi unveils e-tron GT concept at LA Auto Show; production version in about 2 years
Audi is presenting the battery-electric e-tron GT concept four-door coupé as a show car at the Los Angeles Auto Show. A volume-production counterpart is set to follow in around two years. The e-tron GT is Audi’s third electric vehicle, following the Audi e-tron SUV and the Audi e-tron Sportback slated for 2019.
The flat-floor architecture provides for exciting proportions and a low center of gravity, while the 434 kW (590 hp) delivers performance fit for a sports car. The torque is transferred to the wheels via the quattro permanent all-wheel drive with torque vectoring. The performance subsidiary Audi Sport GmbH is responsible for subsequently transforming the car into a volume-production model.
The Audi e-tron GT concept has a 4.96-meter (16.3 ft) length, 1.96-meter (6.4 ft) width and 1.38‑meter (4.5 ft) height. The lightweight body of the four-door coupé is manufactured using a multi-material construction. A roof section is made from carbon along with numerous aluminum components and supporting elements made from high-strength steel. The technology for this automobile was developed in close collaboration with Porsche.
Together with the targeted airflow of the body, large air inlets in the front effectively cool the assemblies, battery and brakes. The hood with its airflow on the surface echoes the brand’s two latest show cars, the Aicon and the PB18 e-tron. It is designed in such a way that the airflow hugs the body, thus reducing undesired swirl.
Separate permanently excited synchronous electric motors are fitted to the front and rear axles. They put down the torque onto the road via all four driven wheels; the new Audi e-tron GT concept is an electric quattro, since there is no mechanical link between the front and rear axle. The electronic control system coordinates the drive between the axles as well as between left and right wheels. That means optimum traction and just the desired amount of slip.
In the future, the vehicle should accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (0-62.1 mph) in around 3.5 seconds before going on to 200 km/h (124.3 mph) in just over 12 seconds. The top speed is regulated at 240 km/h (149.1 mph) to maximize the range. One feature that not all the competition can match is the option of fully utilizing the drive’s acceleration potential several times in succession. While elsewhere the drive is switched to overdrive for thermal considerations, the Audi e-tron GT concept can provide the driver with the full potential of both motors and the battery because of its sophisticated cooling strategy.
The range of the concept car will be more than 400 kilometers (248.5 mi), determined according to the new WLTP standard. The required drive energy comes from a lithium-ion battery with an energy content of more than 90 kWh, which takes up the entire underfloor area between the front and rear axle with its flat design.
The recuperation system increases the range by up to 30% on Audi electric vehicles. The recuperation involves both the two electric motors and the electrohydraulically integrated brake control system.
Different recuperation modes are combined: manual coasting recuperation using the shift paddles, automatic coasting recuperation via the predictive efficiency assist, and brake recuperation with smooth transition between electric and hydraulic deceleration.
Up to 0.3 g, the Audi e-tron GT concept recuperates energy solely via the electric motors, without using the conventional brake—that covers more than 90% of all decelerations. As a result, energy is fed back to the battery in practically all normal braking maneuvers. The wheel brakes are involved only when the driver decelerates by more than 0.3 g using the brake pedal. The Audi e-tron GT concept features high-performance ceramic disks which also operate with multiple extreme decelerations without compromising braking performance.
The battery in the Audi e-tron GT concept can be charged in several ways: using a cable which is connected behind the flap in the left front wing, or by means of contactless induction with Audi Wireless Charging. Here a charging pad with integral coil is installed permanently on the floor where the car is to be parked, and connected to the power supply. The alternating magnetic field induces an alternating voltage in the secondary coil fitted in the floor of the car, across the air gap. With a charging output of 11 kW the Audi e-tron GT concept can be fully charged conveniently overnight.
Wired charging is much faster as the four-door coupé is fitted with an 800-volt system. This substantially reduces charging times compared with conventional systems that are currently in use. Thus it takes around 20 minutes to recharge the battery to 80% of its capacity, once again providing a range of more than 320 kilometers (198.8 mi) (WLTP). The e-tron GT concept can, however, also be recharged at charging points with lower voltages, providing the driver with access to the entire charging network.
Another joint project of the development departments at Audi and Porsche is the Premium Platform Electric (PPE). It will be the foundation for multiple Audi model families with all-electric drive covering the high-volume B through D segments.
BMW unveils BMW Vision iNEXT at LA Auto Show; all of ACES in one vehicle
The BMW Group unveiled the BMW Vision iNEXT concept at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The BMW Vision iNEXT represents a building block for the future of the BMW Group, encompassing technology, design and new ways of thinking that are set to filter through across the company and its brands.
This is the first time all of the BMW Group’s strategic innovation fields—Autonomous driving, Connectivity, Electrification and Services (ACES)—have been incorporated into a single vehicle, while its design lends them visual expression (D+ACES) and offers a look ahead to the future face of driving pleasure.
The BMW iNEXT production model will roll off the assembly line at Plant Dingolfing from 2021, the new technological flagship transporting the company’s strategic innovation fields (D+ACES) onto the road.
The all-electric BMW Vision iNEXT has been created as a mobile space that offers real quality of life and addresses the need for a new “favorite space” in which to be oneself and to relax.
The geometry of the iNEXT cabin is composed of just a few, clean-cut lines, placing the focus on materials and colors. A mix of cloth and wood creates the kind of sophisticated feel associated with furniture design, helping to give the interior its special “boutique” character.
In the BMW Vision iNEXT, smart technologies stay in the background and out of sight—hence the name Shy Tech—and are only deployed when needed or at the driver’s or passengers’ request. There is virtually no need for either screens or buttons. Functions can be operated using surfaces made of materials such as wood or cloth, like the Jacquard cloth upholstery in the BMW Vision iNEXT. Control of the vehicle is therefore tailored in every respect to the requirements of the people travelling in it.
The BMW Vision iNEXT features a very modern take on the classical BMW four-eyed front end, complete with super-slender headlights, while cameras (rather than exterior mirrors) show what’s happening behind. The windshield merges seamlessly into a large panoramic roof, providing a clear view of the car’s innovative interior.
Mitsubishi Motors showcases e-Evolution concept at LA Auto Show; battery-electric crossover w/triple motor 4WD
Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. (MMNA) unveiled the e-Evolution Concept vehicle at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, marking the vehicle’s North American debut. A technical prototype, the e-Evolution Concept incorporates the strengths of a sport utility vehicle (SUV), electric vehicle (EV), and the ability to integrate new systems for a connected mobility customer experience.
The e-Evolution Concept uses two high-torque, high-performance electric motors, fed by a high-capacity battery system to deliver a smooth and powerful performance. The drive battery is located under the floor mid-ship of the vehicle, providing a low center of gravity for the utmost driving stability.
The triple motor 4WD system employs a single motor to drive the front wheels, complemented by a new Dual Motor Active Yaw Control (AYC) system that couples two rear motors through an electronically controlled torque-vectoring AYC unit. All of this is integrated into Mitsubishi’s unique Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) vehicle dynamic control system, developed on the company’s World Rally Championship and Paris-Dakar racecars.
In the e-Evolution Concept, Active Yaw Control uses individual brakes to responsively and precisely control the driving forces, through electric calipers that supersede the conventional hydraulic caliper. The effects of the system can be felt and appreciated immediately, even at low speeds when G-forces are low.
The brain of the e-Evolution Concept is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system that augments the driver’s capabilities. An array of sensors allows the AI system to instantly read changes in road and traffic conditions, as well as the driver's intent. Seamlessly coordinating driver intent with vehicle performance, the system supports drivers of all abilities.
By making it easier and safer to control the vehicle, the driving experience is brought to a new level. A special coaching function allows the AI system to transfer knowledge to the driver, and unobtrusively to enhance the driver’s skill. After building a picture of the driver’s skill level, the system constructs a training program that provides advice through voice dialogue and a large dashboard display.
Kia unveils new Soul EV at LA Auto Show
Kia Motors unveiled the new Soul EV, a completely new iteration of Kia’s award-winning electric compact crossover, at the LA Auto Show. The new Soul EV has a new liquid-cooled lithium-ion polymer 64 kWh battery pack with Combined Charging System (CCS) DC fast-charge as standard equipment.
The Soul EV is currently being tested to ascertain its estimated range, with the overall battery range due to be announced early in 2019.
With 204 ps and 395 N·m of torque (up from 285 N·m in the outgoing model), the new Soul EV accelerates more strongly than its predecessor. Handling and driving dynamics are also much improved, with the adoption of new fully-independent rear suspension.
The new Soul EV also provides tools for drivers to customize their driving experience and their battery usage, with four drive modes—Eco, Comfort, Sport and Eco+—which automatically adjust power output to the traction motor. The driving modes also control the level of regenerative braking on offer, air conditioning and heating settings, and enable drivers to set speed limits to help manage operating efficiency in different driving conditions.
The Soul EV’s smart regenerative braking is operated via paddle shifters behind the steering wheel, providing drivers with the ability to slow the car and capture more kinetic energy, adding extra range. Drivers can choose from four regenerative braking levels (0 to 3), depending on desired driving smoothness, enjoyment and efficiency. The regenerative braking system also features a ‘Brake and Hold’ system, which enables drivers to use the paddle shifters to bring the car to a full stop while harvesting kinetic energy.
In addition, the smart regenerative braking system adjusts the braking level based on a vehicle being detected in front of the Soul EV, creating smoother coast-down driving, especially when descending a steep road.
The system is paired with a Smart Eco Pedal Guide display on the instrument cluster, which keeps the driver aware of real-time battery usage based on accelerator pedal input.
The Soul EV features restyled front and rear bumpers, for a smoother, more aerodynamic appearance. It features a solid insert in place of the conventional Soul’s front grille, with a door housing the charging socket conveniently located on the driver’s side. The Soul EV’s unique LED headlamps are integrated into the upper ‘brow’ of the front of the car, which itself extends the full width of the car for a wide, stable appearance. The EV’s ‘face’ is finished with unique fog lamps, while, in profile, the zero-emissions Soul gets its own five-spoke 17-inch alloy wheel design, distinct from other models in the Soul line-up.
Depending on market, the Soul EV is available with a suite of Kia’s advanced driver-assistance systems, and a long list of standard and optional equipment.
In-cabin technology includes a high-tech ‘shift-by-wire’ rotary shifter, while the Soul’s infotainment system is based on a 10.25-inch color touchscreen with rear-view monitor and parking guidance. The infotainment package is supported by Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as Bluetooth wireless connectivity with voice recognition. The system is paired with a six-speaker audio system with USB input and steering-wheel mounted audio controls.
Depending on market, the car is fitted with up to seven airbags (dual front air bags, dual front seat-mounted side air bags, side curtain air bags with rollover sensor, and a driver's side knee air bag), as well as a suite of vehicle safety systems. These include anti-lock braking, traction control, electronic stability control, hill-start assist control, pedestrian warning system and a tire pressure monitoring system.
Active safety is just as important, with the Soul available with a range of advanced driver-assistance systems, depending on market. Available systems include Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Driver Attention Warning (DAW), Smart Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Blind Spot Collision Warning (BSW), Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning (available) and Reverse Parking Distance Warning.
Unique to the Soul EV is a revamped ‘UVO’ telematics system, allowing owners to monitor and control a long range of vehicle operations. Drivers have access to notifications of battery and charging status, real-time charging station updates and scheduled charging functionality. Panic notifications enable the vehicle to send an alert to the server if the panic alarm is triggered, dialling 911 emergency services and providing the car’s position via GPS—this opens a live microphone so that emergency workers can communicate with vehicle occupants. The UVO telematics sytems also offers ‘Send2Car’ points of interest (POI) and waypoint functionality, allowing owners to plan a route or road trip with waypoints, and send it directly to the Soul EV’s navigation system.
Buyers can choose from two trims: the Soul EV and the Soul EV Designer Collection. The Designer Collection model offers everything from the standard Soul EV, plus a series of additional features.
Built at the Gwangju plant in Korea, the new Soul EV goes on sale in the US in the first half of 2019, with Kia’s global markets to follow. Pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date.
Volkswagen Group China, JAC and SEAT sign new deal advancing e-mobility in China
Spain-based SEAT, a member of the Volkswagen Group, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Volkswagen Group China and Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group Corp., Ltd (JAC) to advance e-mobility in China.
Under the agreement, all parties will leverage their technology and product strengths to develop a battery electric vehicle platform for production at JAC Volkswagen. JAC Volkswagen will introduce the SEAT brand by 2021, and jointly electrify SEAT products.
The construction of the JAC Volkswagen R&D center will start before the end of 2018 and will focus on key areas such as connectivity, autonomous driving and other future strategic directions. The signing provides new impetus in the growing partnership between Volkswagen Group China, SEAT and JAC, working together in the important e-mobility market in China.
E-mobility along with digitalization, connectivity and autonomous driving are the future of the mobility industry, and China has established itself as a major driver of this transformation. This partnership also represents the benefits of a globalized approach to delivering sustainable mobility.
—Dr. Herbert Diess, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG
SEAT, Volkswagen Group China and JAC signed an agreement last July in Berlin, in the presence of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang, whereby SEAT formed part of the joint venture and became the Volkswagen Group’s lead brand in this project. Since the joint venture was created in 2017, SEAT has been contributing its know-how in the areas of design and R&D.
This memorandum of understanding helps the Volkswagen Group take solid steps in the Chinese market and SEAT is set to play a leading role in implementing the agreement’s initiatives. The products which will be manufactured on the battery electric vehicle platform will address the e-mobility requirements of Chinese customers. The R&D center, which will be established through joint efforts, aims to develop connectivity and autonomous driving technologies specifically tailored to the Chinese market.
2019 Prius offered with new electric all-wheel drive system
Toyota is offering a new electric all-wheel drive system (AWD-e) on the facelifted 2019 Prius. Toyota projects fuel economy of 52 mpg city / 48 mpg highway / 50 mpg combined for the AWD-e model, and estimates that the AWD-e model—which is debuting at the LA Auto Show—could account for as much as 25% of annual US Prius sales.
The front-wheel-drive (FWD) 2019 Prius will offer manufacturer-projected fuel economy estimates of 58 mpg city / 53 mpg highway / 56 mpg combined on the L Eco grade, while the LE, XLE and Limited has projected fuel ratings of 54 mpg city / 50 mpg highway / 52 mpg combined.
The automatic on-demand AWD-e system does not require a center differential or other torque-apportioning device, nor does it need a front-to-rear driveshaft. The Prius AWD-e uses an independent electric, magnet-less rear motor (a Toyota first) to power the rear wheels from 0 to 6 mph, then when needed, up to 43 mph. This system provides the power to the rear wheels to pull away from a stop, yet the on-demand system recognizes when all-wheel-drive performance is not needed to provide great fuel economy.
The AWD-e models use a newly developed compact Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) battery that is designed to provide excellent performance in cold-weather conditions. The AWD-e battery fits under the rear seat area and does not impact the luggage capacity. FWD models will feature a Li-ion battery.
The Prius AWD-e shares the Hybrid Synergy Drive system with other Prius models. The system combines the output of a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine and two motor/generators through an electronically controlled planetary-type continuously variable transmission (CVT). The Electronically Controlled Brake System coordinates control between the regenerative braking and the vehicle’s hydraulic brake force to provide optimal brake performance and feel.
Due to ultra-low internal friction and efficient combustion, the 2ZR-FXE 1.8-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine exceeds 40% thermal efficiency, which is among the highest in the world for a gasoline engine.
The Prius gets a good share of its fuel efficiency by cheating the wind with an ultra-low 0.24 coefficient of drag (Cd), which is among the lowest of current production passenger cars. An automatic grille shutter reduces drag by closing when airflow to the radiator is not needed. The air conditioning system, which uses a quiet electric compressor, works intelligently to maximize energy efficiency. The Smart-flow (S-FLOW) mode directs airflow only to seated occupants to conserve energy and maximize comfort.
Standard Bi-LED headlamps and LED rear combination lamps reduce energy consumption compared to halogens, while giving better light and having a longer service life. A backup camera comes standard on all grades, and a full-width glass panel beneath the rear spoiler aids rearward visibility while also serving as a distinctive design feature.
The Prius AWD-e models offer the same 65.5 cu. ft. of carrying space with the standard 60:40 split rear seatbacks lowered as other Prius models. That’s more than in some small SUVs and larger than most full-size sedans. Expanding carrying options, the Prius AWD-e will offer available Genuine Toyota Accessory cargo crossbars for roof rack attachments, such as for carrying bikes, kayaks, snowboards, or a cargo carrier. The Prius AWD-e XLE features upgraded SofTex-trimmed, heated front seats with 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat.
The Prius comes standard with driver’s door Smart Key System, Push Button Start and remote illuminated entry. The XLE and Limited grades include Standard Smart Key System on three doors. An Adaptive Front Lighting System is available on the XLE grade and is standard on the Limited grade. And, Toyota Safety Connect, standard on Limited models, includes Emergency Assistance, Stolen Vehicle Locator, Roadside Assistance and Automatic Collision Notification and comes with a complimentary three-year trial subscription.
All 2019 Prius models, including the Prius AWD-e versions, come standard with Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P). Using millimeter-wave radar and a monocular camera sensor to help detect a pedestrian, a vehicle, and lane markers and headlights in the surrounding area, TSS-P provides a comprehensive bundle of active safety features including: Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/ PD), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/ SA), Automatic High Beams (AHB), and Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC).
Because all Prius models, under certain circumstances, can operate in battery mode alone, during which they make little to no noise, they incorporate a Vehicle Proximity Notification System (VPNS) to help alert pedestrians and cyclists.
Mazda unveils new Mazda3; first production car to offer Skyactiv-X SPCCI engine with M Hybrid system
In Japan, Mazda Motor Corporation hosted the world premiere of the all-new Mazda3. The fully redesigned model will be rolled out to global markets starting from North America in early 2019. The all-new Mazda3 will be on display at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
The all-new Mazda3 adopts Mazda’s new Skyactiv-Vehicle Architecture, designed to enable people to make the most of their natural sense of balance. The powertrain lineup comprises the latest Skyactiv-X (Mazda’s Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI) engine, earlier post), Skyactiv-G and Skyactiv-D engines, each of which provides responsive speed control in any driving situation. Mazda has enhanced the car’s fundamental driving attributes such that accelerating, turning and braking feel completely natural.
All-new Mazda3 is the first production car to offer Mazda’s innovative Skyactiv-X engine. Running on regular gasoline, SPCCI works by compressing the fuel-air mix at a much higher compression ratio, with a very lean mix. The SKYACTIV-X engine uses a spark to ignite only a small, dense amount of the fuel-air mix in the cylinder. This raises the temperature and pressure so that the remaining fuel-air mix ignites under pressure (like a diesel), burning faster and more completely than in conventional engines.
Features include superior initial response, powerful torque, faithful linear response and free-revving performance. The engine is assisted by Mazda’s intelligent new M Hybrid system, which supports greater gains in fuel economy, and achieves higher levels of driving pleasure and environmental friendliness.
5-, 2.0- and 2.5-liter versions of the latest Skyactiv-G comprise the gasoline engine lineup for the new Mazda3. All three adopt optimized intake ports and piston shape, split fuel injection and a coolant control valve to deliver higher levels of dynamic performance, fuel economy and environmental friendliness.
The Skyactiv-D 1.8 is the diesel engine offering for the new Mazda3. Incorporating ultra-high-response multi-hole piezo injectors allows the engine to utilize high-pressure, precisely controlled multi-stage injection. This realizes a finer balance of enhanced fuel economy, quietness and reduced exhaust gases, while also delivering smoother, more robust performance.
Mazda’s evolved i-Activ AWD newly adds four-wheel vertical load detection and works in harmony with G-Vectoring Control Plus (GVC Plus) to control torque distribution between the front and rear wheels. As a result, it is fully capable of responding faithfully to the driver’s intentions, regardless of the driving scene. It also reduces overall mechanical loss by approximately 60% over the previous model and contributes to improved fuel economy.
G-Vectoring Control Plus (GVC Plus) adds direct yaw moment control via the brakes. This enables the car to better handle emergency avoidance maneuvers and offers more confidence-inspiring controllability in various situations, including lane changes at high speeds and driving on slippery roads.
Having sold over 6 million units since its 2003 debut, the all-new Mazda3 is a global strategic model that has driven Mazda’s growth from both a brand and business perspective.
Toyota introducing Corolla Hybrid to US at LA Auto Show; at least 50 mpg
Toyota is introducing the Corolla Hybrid to the US market at the LA Auto Show. (Earlier post.)
The new hybrid version of Toyota’s all-time best-selling car series achieves at least 50 mpg (4.7 l/100 km) combined fuel economy (projected). That makes the 2020 Corolla Hybrid the most fuel-efficient model to ever wear the model name that debuted more than a half-century ago. The model adapts the latest Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive from the new-generation Prius, already proven as an MPG winner.
As on the 2020 Corolla gas models, the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite of active safety systems comes standard on the hybrid.
The new hybrid system combines a 1.8-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with two motor/generators through an electronically controlled planetary-type continuously variable transmission (CVT) transaxle. Combined system output of 121 horsepower yields responsive performance.
The nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) battery pack employs a newly developed technology called Hyper-Prime Nickel (developed by Primearth EV Energy—originally Panasonic EV Energy—in Japan) to boost battery performance in a smaller and lighter package.
The battery’s smaller size and flatter shape allow it to be packaged under the rear seat, rather than taking up trunk space, and also allowing a 60/40 split folding rear seatback to expand cargo capacity. The battery location also contributes to the vehicle’s lower center of gravity, a boon to agility.
The engine, working in concert with the electric motor (MG2), assures responsive performance, while energy efficiency is achieved by using both electric motors (MG1 and MG2) for hybrid battery charging.
Driving the Corolla Hybrid.The battery provides a subtle power boost when pulling away in order to put less strain on the engine and eliminate the “rubber band” effect experienced with some hybrids.
A preload differential adds to the confident acceleration feel. During low loads and low differential rotation, differential-limited torque is distributed to the left and right wheels, yielding handling stability. At mid-range and high engine loads, the preload differential functions as an open differential.
Corolla Hybrid has EV mode, which allows the vehicle to be operated as a pure electric vehicle for short distances, depending upon certain conditions, such as battery charge level. This mode is useful for operating the vehicle in parking lots or indoor parking garages, for example. The Vehicle Proximity Notification feature alerts pedestrians of the vehicle’s presence when running in battery mode.
Along with the expected NORMAL and ECO drive modes, a SPORT drive mode setting allows for an increase in power for stronger acceleration response when desired.
NORMAL mode: Allows the hybrid system to achieve an ideal combination of fuel economy and vehicle acceleration. The accelerator opening amount changes linearly in response to accelerator pedal operation.
ECO mode: Improves hybrid system efficiency by limiting power in response to light to moderate accelerator pedal input.
SPORT mode: Available power is increased, allowing for improved acceleration response.
Stopping the Corolla Hybrid. Another boost to efficiency comes from the Electronically Controlled Brake (ECB) system, which coordinates operation between the regenerative braking force of the electric motors and the hydraulic braking system force to provide optimal stopping power. By proactively using the electric motors to recover as much electrical energy as possible from the regenerative braking system, this extremely efficient cooperative control helps to maximize fuel economy.
An active hydraulic booster on the conventional (non-regenerative) braking system improves pedal feel and feedback for the driver. Critically, should there ever be a malfunction in the ECB system, the conventional hydraulic braking system can stop the vehicle.
Brake Hold, when engaged, is a convenient technology that reduces driver effort while waiting at a traffic light or while driving in heavy traffic. When the driver presses the accelerator, Brake Hold releases instantly.
The engine. The 2ZR-FXE 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder engine was designed specifically for a hybrid application. The long-stroke configuration employs the Atkinson cycle, which uses a very high compression ratio (13.0:1) along with a shorter intake stroke and longer expansion stroke than the Otto cycle. The Atkinson cycle extracts more energy from the fuel, and the electric motors compensate for reduced low-end power (versus the Otto cycle).
Friction created by the piston skirts, rotating parts and oil pump is reduced, and an electric water pump eliminates the parasitic losses with a conventional belt-driven pump. Toyota sought efficiency gains in every system. The highly-efficient air conditioning system, for example, uses S-FLOW control, which automatically optimizes airflow throughout the cabin according to the temperature setting, actual cabin and outside temperatures, sunlight intensity, and occupied seats.
Getting the engine up to operating temperature quickly is critical to conserving fuel and reducing emissions at start-up. In the Corolla Hybrid, an exhaust heat recirculation system speeds up engine coolant warm-up. That in turn allows the hybrid system to stop the gas engine earlier and more often in the driving cycle when it’s not needed, for example in low-power-demand city driving conditions.
The PTC (Positive Temperature Coefficient) heater quickly provides cabin heat electrically in cold temperatures.
Hybrid Exclusives. The Corolla Hybrid rolls on 15-inch aluminum alloy wheels with low-rolling resistance tires. As on the Corolla gasoline models, the new multi-link rear suspension improves both handling agility and ride comfort compared to the previous-generation Corolla Sedan.
The instrument panel uses a high-grade meter with a 7-inch Multi-Information Display (MID). The MID shows the speedometer, as well as a hybrid system indicator/real-time battery charge status indicator. ECO accelerator guidance, also shown in the MID, can provide a guideline for maximizing fuel efficiency by coaching the driver on optimal accelerator pedal operation to match driving conditions. Drivers who like the visual appeal of seeing engine rpm can choose to display a tachometer.
The Corolla Hybrid features eight standard airbags and Toyota’s Star Safety System, which includes Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist, Anti-lock Braking System, and Smart Stop Technology. All Corolla models come equipped with a standard backup camera.
All 2020 Corolla models are equipped as standard with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, an advanced suite of integrated active safety features.
PCS (Pre-Collision System): Is designed to automatically activate the brakes to help avoid a collision or mitigate the impact force. PCS is able to detect a vehicle or pedestrian in day and low-light conditions, as well as a bicycle during daylight.
Full-Speed DRCC (Dynamic Radar Cruise Control): Designed for highway use, designed to maintain a set vehicle-to-vehicle distance and is also capable of low-speed following up to speeds of about 24 mph. The Corolla can stop when the vehicle ahead comes to a stop, maintaining an appropriate distance to it.
LDA (Lane Departure Alert) w/ Steer Assist: Designed to give the driver audible and visual warnings and, if necessary, provides steering assistance if it detects the possibility of leaving the driving lane. It also detects excess weaving within the driving lane that might indicate driver distraction, inattention or drowsiness.
LTA (Lane Tracing Assist): LTA is enabled when LDA and DRCC are both on and active. LTA employs a lane centering function that will make constant steering inputs to help the driver keep the vehicle in its lane. LTA is designed for uses on relatively straight highways to preemptively avoid unwanted lane departures and reduce driver fatigue.
AHB (Automatic High Beam): When enabled, detects the headlights of oncoming vehicles and taillights of preceding vehicles and automatically switches between high and low beams as appropriate.
RSA (Road Sign Assist): Designed to recognize speed limit, Stop, Yield, and Do Not Enter signs and display them on the vehicles MID to help assist the driver.
Nissan LEAF helps power company’s NA facilities with V2G; Nissan Energy
Working with Fermata Energy, a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) systems company, Nissan North America is launching a new pilot program under the Nissan Energy Share initiative which leverages bi‑directional EV charging technology to partially power its North American headquarters in Franklin, TN, and its design center in San Diego, CA.
Bi-directional charging technology means not only charging the Nissan LEAF, but also pulling energy stored in the LEAF's battery pack to partially power external electrical loads, such as buildings and homes.
Suited for companies with fleet vehicles, the Nissan Energy Share pilot program will continuously monitor a building’s electrical loads, looking for opportunities to periodically draw on the LEAF’s “lower-cost energy” to provide power to the building during more expensive high-demand periods. This constant monitoring, called demand-charge management, could result in significant electricity savings and could offer the secondary benefit of reducing the burden of peak loads on local utilities.
The Nissan Energy Share pilot program using Nissan LEAFs will serve as a test of both technology and business viability as Nissan and Fermata Energy investigate the outcome for possible commercialization.
Nissan also has a number of other "second-life battery" initiatives for Nissan LEAF batteries, including installing second-life LEAF batteries at its North American facilities along with investigating new recycling methods for lithium ion batteries. Leading the industry, Nissan has also received certification for second-life LEAF batteries to be used in stationary energy storage.
Under the global plan, called Nissan Energy, owners of Nissan’s electric vehicles will be able to easily connect their cars with energy systems to charge their batteries, power homes and businesses or feed energy back to power grids. The company will also develop new ways to reuse electric car batteries.
Nissan has already begun programs in the US, Japan and Europe aimed at creating an ecosystem around its range of electric vehicles, including the Nissan LEAF, the world’s best-selling electric car. Nissan Energy brings these initiatives together as part of the company’s Nissan Intelligent Mobility strategy.
Nissan Energy will establish new standards for connecting vehicles to energy systems through three key initiatives: Nissan Energy Supply, Nissan Energy Share, and Nissan Energy Storage.
Nissan Energy Home. In Japan, Nissan unveiled the Nissan Energy Home demonstration house that shows how electric vehicles can help provide power for a home’s energy needs.
Located in the Nissan Global Headquarters Gallery in Yokohama, the demonstration house features solar panels and a Nissan LEAF electric car that provides power from its battery pack. The Nissan Energy Home allows guests to learn about Nissan Energy, the company’s vision for connecting homes, cars and power grids.
At the heart of the Nissan Energy Home is a vehicle-to-home system. The system charges the connected electric vehicle, which then shares power with the home. This demonstrates Nissan Energy Share by using Nissan’s electric vehicle technology to store, share and repurpose energy.
During the day, when the sun is out, the solar panels generate electric power and forward it to the Nissan LEAF battery pack for charging. The LEAF assumes the role of an energy storage unit while the solar energy is harnessed.
When the sun goes down, the home’s electrical demands are managed by the Nissan LEAF to power lighting, air conditioning, televisions and even cooking appliances. The needs of a typical house can be provided using a small percentage of the battery capacity, leaving plenty of range for driving. The next day, the cycle is repeated.
U of Illinois team models capabilities of hybrid-electric propulsion systems for general aviation aircraft
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have utilized a series of simulations to model the performance of twin-engine hybrid-electric general-aviation propulsion systems. Their paper appears in the Journal of Aircraft.
They created a flight-performance simulator to represent accurately the true flight performance of a Tecnam P2006T on a general mission to include take off, climb, cruise, descent, and landing, along with sufficient reserves to meet FAA regulations. Transition segments were incorporated into the simulation during climb and descent where the throttle setting, flap deployment, propeller rotation rate, and all other flight control variables were either set to mimic input from a typical pilot or prescribed in accordance with the aircraft flight manual.
After configuring the simulator to collect baseline performance data, a parallel hybrid drivetrain was integrated into the simulation. The researchers compared the sensitivity of range and fuel economy to the level of electrification, battery specific energy density, and electric motor power density. The same sensitivities were studied with a series hybrid-electric drivetrain.
a) parallel and b) series drivetrain models
They found that current technology allows a parallel hybrid configuration to achieve a maximum theoretical range of approximately 175 n mile. The results also indicated that parallel hybrid architectures will offer an effective near-term configuration, by offering greater range performance than a series hybrid with incremental future advancements in battery specific energy density and electric motor power density.
However, distant future advancements in these technologies will allow series-hybrid architectures to produce similar range capabilities with improved fuel economy over parallel-hybrid architectures.
Jet fuel and aviation gasoline are easy to store on an airplane. They are compact and lightweight when compared to the amount of energy they provide. Unfortunately, the actual combustion process is very inefficient. We’re harnessing only a small fraction of that energy but we currently don’t have electrical storage systems that can compete with that.
—Phillip Ansell, assistant professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois
Ansell said adding more batteries to fly farther may seem logical, but it works against the goal to make an aircraft as lightweight as possible.
Ansell said that, overall, a hybrid-electric drivetrain can lead to substantial improvements in fuel efficiency of a given aircraft configuration, though these gains depend strongly on the coupled variations in the degree of drivetrain electrification and the required mission range. Both of these factors influence the weight allocation of battery and fuel systems, as well as the weight scaling imposed by internal combustion engine and electrical motor components. In general, to obtain the greatest fuel efficiency a hybrid architecture should be used with as much electrification in the drivetrain as is permissible within a given range requirement.
The fuel efficiency improvements were shown to particularly shine for short-range missions, which is a good thing since range limitations serve as one of the key bottlenecks in hybrid aircraft feasibility.
One interesting and unexpected result we observed, however, came about when comparing the parallel and series hybrid architectures. Since the parallel architecture mechanically couples the shaft power of the engine and motor together, only one electrical machine is needed. For the series architecture, a generator is also needed to convert the engine power to electrical power, along with a larger motor than the parallel hybrid configuration to drive the propulsor. Unexpectedly, this aspect made the parallel architecture more beneficial for improved range and fuel burn almost across the board due to its lighter weight. However, we did observe that if significant improvements are made in maturing electrical motor components in the very long term, we may actually someday see better efficiency out of series-hybrid architectures, as they permit a greater flexibility in the placement and distribution of propulsors.
This project was supported by NASA Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center under Small Business Technology Transfer in collaboration with Rolling Hills Research Corporation.
Tyler S. Dean, Gabrielle E. Wroblewski, and Phillip J. Ansell (2018) “Mission Analysis and Component-Level Sensitivity Study of Hybrid-Electric General-Aviation Propulsion Systems” Journal of Aircraft doi: 10.2514/1.C034635
Johnson Controls and Toshiba partner to bring leading automakers low-voltage lithium-ion solutions; dual-battery systems
Johnson Controls Power Solutions and Toshiba Infrastructure Systems & Solutions Corporation have partnered to deliver low-voltage lithium-ion solutions to meet automaker demands for improved efficiency, lower costs and less complexity.
Under the agreement, Johnson Controls will collaborate with Toshiba to develop and manufacture lithium-ion batteries at its Holland, MI, plant and pair them with existing lead-acid battery technology as part of dual-battery systems.
Dual-battery vehicles are expected to be the fastest-growing form of electrification and by 2025 will account for approximately 20% of new vehicles built globally, according to IHS Markit. Adoption rates will be even greater in locations with strict fuel economy standards.
Because paired systems require minimal powertrain alterations, automakers can deploy them across multiple vehicle lines with a lower investment than other electrified powertrains. Paired systems achieve up to 8% greater fuel efficiency than a conventional system.
Low-voltage dual-battery technology is the next step in the evolution of vehicle systems that helps to strike a balance between consumer demands, increasing regulations and automaker economics.
—Brian Cooke, group vice president, Products, Power Solutions, Johnson Controls
Our SCiB is distinguished by its excellent characteristics and the use of a lithium-titanium anode to deliver safety, a long life, low-temperature performance, rapid charging, high input and output power, and a large effective capacity. It is also a good match with lead-acid batteries, and we are sure our joint work with Johnson Controls will greatly benefit automakers around the globe facing efficiency challenges.
—Fujio Takahashi, general manager of Toshiba Infrastructure Systems & Solutions Corporation
The Holland, MI, plant opened in 2010 and was first in the United States to produce complete lithium-ion battery cells and systems. The two companies plan to collaborate on future technology development and exploration of additional applications in which Toshiba technology can be integrated.
UT Austin team proposes novel approach to suppress polysulfide shuttle in Li-S batteries
Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin are proposing a novel approach to suppress the “polysulfide shuttle” in Li-S batteries—a freestanding, three-dimensional graphene/1T MoS2 (3DG/TM) heterostructure with highly efficient electrocatalysis for lithium polysulfides (LiPSs).
Cells with 3DG/TM exhibit outstanding electrochemical performance, with a high reversible discharge capacity of 1181 mAh g-1 and a capacity retention of 96.3% after 200 cycles. An open-access paper on their work is published in the RSC journal Energy & Environmental Science.
The 3DG/TM heterostructure is constructed by a few-layered graphene nanosheets sandwiched by hydrophilic, metallic, few-layered 1T MoS2 nanosheets with abundant active sites.
The metallic 1T MoS2 nanosheets are hydrophilic with rich active sites and high electronic conductivity that is six orders of magnitude higher than that of 2H MoS2.
The conversion process of LiPSs on a graphene surface with 1T MoS2. The 3DG/TM heterostructures work as a highly efficient electrocatalyst for LiPSs conversion. He et al.
The porous 3D structure and the hydrophilic feature of 1T-MoS2 are beneficial for electrolyte penetration and Li-ion transfer, and the high conductivities of both graphene and 1T MoS2 nanosheets facilitate electron transfer.
These attributes lead to a high electrocatalytic efficiency for LiPSs due to excellent ion/electron transfer and sufficient electrocatalytic active sites.
Jiarui He, Gregory Hartmann, Myungsuk Lee, Gyeong S. Hwang, Yuanfu Chen and Arumugam Manthiram (2018) “Freestanding 1T MoS2/Graphene Heterostructure as a Highly Efficient Electrocatalyst for Lithium Polysulfides in Li-S Batteries” Energy Environ. Sci. doi: 10.1039/C8EE03252A
Global Bioenergies receives 13 LOIs for purchases covering the capacity of its renewable isobutene and derivatives plant
Global Bioenergies has received 13 letters of intent from French and international industrial leaders for purchases totaling 49,000 to 64,000 tons of isobutene and derivatives annually. This covers the total production capacity of the planned IBN-One plant, a joint venture with Cristal Union, the fourth-largest sugar producer in Europe.
The letters of intent come from the cosmetics, specialty fuels, road fuels and air transport industries.
More than half of the letters of intent and a significant share of capacity (about 20%) are earmarked for high added-value niche markets in specialty fuels and cosmetics. Several of the letters of intent include price indications that confirm the potential for isobutene derivatives to fetch prices far higher than their oil-derived counterparts.
The internal return rate (IRR) is around 18% in our base case scenario, well above average for industrial projects. This IRR would be even higher under optimistic scenarios, with greater demand from high-premium market segments. The investment bank Vulcain is assisting IBN-One in putting together the financing package and identifying financial partners for the project.
—Bernard Chaud, CEO of IBN-One
Audi, Airbus and Italdesign present flying, driving model prototype of flying taxi/autonomous EV concept
Audi, Airbus and Italdesign are presenting for the first time a flying and driving prototype of “Pop.Up Next”. This innovative concept for a flying taxi combines a self-driving electric car with a passenger drone.
In the first public test flight, the flight module accurately placed a passenger capsule on the ground module, which then drove from the test grounds autonomously.
This is still a 1:4 scale model. But as soon as the coming decade, Audi suggests, its customers could use a convenient and efficient flying taxi service in large cities—in multi-modal operation, in the air and on the road.
Flying taxis are on the way. We at Audi are convinced of that. More and more people are moving to cities. And more and more people will be mobile thanks to automation. In future senior citizens, children, and people without a driver’s license will want to use convenient robot taxis. If we succeed in making a smart allocation of traffic between roads and airspace, people and cities can benefit in equal measure.
—Dr. Bernd Martens, Audi board member for sourcing and IT, and president of the Audi subsidiary Italdesign
To see what an on-demand service of this kind could be like, Audi is conducting tests in South America in cooperation with the Airbus subsidiary Voom. Customers book helicopter flights in Mexico City or Sao Paulo, while an Audi is at the ready for the journey to or from the landing site.
Services like this help us to understand our customers’ needs better. Because in the future, flying taxis will appeal to a wide range of city dwellers. With Pop.Up Next we are simultaneously exploring the boundaries of what is technically possible. The next step is for a full-size prototype to fly and drive.
Audi is also supporting the Urban Air Mobility flying taxi project in Ingolstadt. This initiative is preparing test operations for a flying taxi at Audi’s site, and is part of a joint project of the European Union in the framework of the marketplace for the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities. This project aims to convince the public of the benefits of the new technology and answer questions concerning battery technology, regulation, certification, and infrastructure.
Volkswagen showcasing electric I.D. BUZZ CARGO, Cargo e-Bike concepts at LA Auto Show
At the Los Angeles Auto Show, Volkswagen is showcasing two electric concepts. The I.D. BUZZ CARGO,in its auto show debut, is an electric panel van concept based on the MEB toolkit that offers up to 340 miles of range on the WLTP cycle. The electric Cargo e-Bike concept, in its North American debut, carries a 463 lb payload.
Both concepts were unveiled at the IAA Commercial Vehicles Show in Germany in September. (Earlier post.) The I.D. BUZZ CARGO shown in Los Angeles has been reimagined from the version first shown in Hannover earlier this year. As a support vehicle for the I.D. R Pikes Peak record holder, its livery mimics the R’s colors and the design includes the course map for the race.
The original Volkswagen Transporter is arguably the most recognizable light commercial vehicle of all time. With the auto show premiere of the I.D. BUZZ CARGO concept, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is showing how an electrically powered and completely redeveloped Transporter might change the world of LCVs. Based on the Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB), and a sibling to the I.D. BUZZ concept first shown in Detroit last year, the CARGO could be launched as a production vehicle in Europe as early as 2022.
As the newest member of the I.D. Family, I.D. BUZZ CARGO offers long range driving capability, multiple packaging options and innovative features. Like all I.D. family models, a variety of battery packs can be fitted, according to vehicle usage. Depending on the size of the battery pack, CARGO can achieve ranges between about 200 and 340 miles on the WLTP cycle. If the vehicle covers fairly normal distances in the city on a daily and weekly basis, a lithium-ion battery with an energy capacity of 48 kWh is recommended. If greater range is needed, the energy capacity can be increased up to 111 kWh.
The 111kWh battery in the CARGO can be charged to 80% capacity in 30 minutes with a 150 kW DC fast-charger. The battery system has also been prepared for inductive charging.
The battery is integrated into the vehicle floor, lowering the vehicle’s center of gravity and improving handling significantly. The transporter’s axles have been shifted outwards, because no space is required for a combustion engine at the front, and the compact electric motor is mounted on the rear axle, creating up to 7 cubic feet of extra space in the front of the vehicle.
To charge, the van is positioned over a charging plate while parking. As soon as the control unit of the charging plate in the pavement has set up a communications channel with the vehicle, contactless energy can be transferred through an electromagnetic field generated between two coils (one in the floor of the parking space and one in the vehicle).
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has combined the battery in the CARGO with a 201-horsepower (150 kW) electric motor, a single-speed transmission, and rear-wheel drive. However, an all-wheel drive system, such as the one implemented in the I.D. BUZZ, is possible in the future simply by adding a motor at the front of the vehicle.
The vehicle’s top speed is electronically limited to 99 mph.
In driving mode, the main controls are located on the steering wheel and key information is projected in 3D via an Augmented Reality (AR) head-up display. Rear view mirrors become a thing of the past, with cameras projecting images onto small screens in the cab, and other information such as infotainment and climate control functions is displayed on a tablet.
During autonomous driving it is possible to accept, schedule, and process orders from the driver's workplace. Thanks to the connected shelving system's data it is also possible to perform order-related stock checks while on the move. It is also possible to perform optimum, flexible route planning, taking customer appointments into account. With the Safety Check function, any unsecured tools or missing parts are indicated before the start of the journey. Any components taken out get automatically registered, working times recorded and invoices issued. An 8.6-square-foot light integrated in the roof makes access to the items even easier and quicker.
Other innovative features of the CARGO include a solar roof that can extend the range of the vehicle by up to 9.3 miles a day, fully autonomous driving with “I.D. Pilot” model, a digital cargo system and a 230V socket to provide power for workers’ tools.
Cargo e-Bike. The Cargo e-Bike concept is suited for making emissions-free deliveries in places where a truck can’t go—such as pedestrian-only city centers. A 250W motor assists the rider, and is powered by a lithium-ion battery. This vehicle—the smallest Volkswagen commercial vehicle ever—is equipped with two wheels at the front, with the load platform positioned low between them. Mounted on this load platform is a cargo box with a 17.7 ft3 storage volume.
The Cargo e-Bike can carry a total payload of 463 pounds and innovative tilt-compensating tech keeps the load platform horizontal in turns.
EEA: rising energy consumption, particularly in transport, slows EU progress on renewables and energy efficiency targets
Progress on increasing the use of renewable energy and improving energy efficiency is slowing across the European Union, putting at risk the EU’s ability to achieve its energy and emissions reduction targets. Rising energy consumption, particularly in the transport sector, is to blame for the slowdown, according to preliminary data released in the European Environment Agency’s (EEA) annual analysis on the EU’s progress towards its targets on renewables and energy efficiency.
EU progress towards 2020 and 2030 targets on climate and energy
The EEA’s updated assessment on the EU’s progress on renewable energy and energy efficiency targets completes this year’s ‘Trends and Projections in Europe: 2018: Tracking progress towards Europe’s climate and energy targets’ package. The report is based on the most recent reported and approximated data from EU Member States on greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy uptake and energy consumption. Complementing the report are updated climate and energy country factsheets. The first part of the ‘Trends and Projections’ report, which includes an assessment of progress towards the EU’s climate targets, was published in October.
While the EU as a whole remains on track to meet its 2020 targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase renewable energy use, recent increasing trends in energy consumption need to be reversed in order to meet the 2020 targets. Renewed efforts will also be necessary to meet the 2030 climate and energy targets.
Progress on renewables. The uptake of renewable energy as part of the EU’s energy mix resulted in a 17.4% share of renewables in gross final energy consumption in 2017, according to preliminary EEA data. This indicates that the EU remains on track to reach its target of a renewables share of 20% by 2020.
However, the pace of increasing renewables use was only up marginally from 17.0% in 2016. There has also been insufficient progress towards the 10% target for renewables in the transport sector by 2020. With 2020 approaching, the trajectories needed to meet the national targets are becoming steeper. Increased energy consumption and persisting market barriers are hindering the uptake of renewables in several Member States.
Preliminary EEA data for 2017 show that 20 Member States were on track to reach their individual targets on renewable energy by 2020—a decline from 2016, when 25 countries were on track. In many countries, the slowing of progress is due to increases in total energy consumption, which caused the share of renewables in energy consumption to fall.
Energy efficiency hampered by increased consumption. Over the past decade, energy consumption generally decreased at a pace that could ensure the achievement of the EU’s 2020 targets on energy efficiency. However, in 2015, energy consumption in the EU began to increase, and the EEA’s preliminary estimates for 2017 indicate that both primary energy consumption and final energy consumption now lie above the indicative trajectory towards 2020.
Notably, in 2016, growing demands for energy in the transport sector reached 33 % of final energy consumption in the EU. The continued growth in energy consumption, particularly in transport but also in other sectors, makes achieving the 2020 target increasingly uncertain.
Preliminary EEA data from 2017 show that 13 Member States are expected to have increased their primary energy consumption to levels above the trajectories to their 2020 targets. That is an increase of three countries from 2016. Member States will need to increase their efforts to bring the EU back on track and reverse the trend of increasing energy consumption, in particular in the transport sector.
Stepped up measures needed to meet 2030 targets. New EU-wide targets are set for 2030 in the areas of greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy and energy efficiency, namely to:
Reduce the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions domestically by at least 40% (compared to 1990 levels);
Increase the share of renewable energy sources to at least 32 % of gross final energy consumption; and
Achieve at least a 32.5% improvement in energy efficiency (compared to the 2007 baseline).
The EEA’s Trends and Projections report indicates that the current trends will not be adequate to reach the 2030 targets, and additional and enhanced efforts will be necessary in the coming decade.
To this end, Member States will submit by the end of 2018 their first draft national energy and climate plans, including details on climate and energy objectives and policies that that will help them achieve the 2030 targets.
GM restructuring; changing product development, production; 5 NA & 2 international plants shutting next year; staff reduction
General Motors on Monday outlined a series of major restructuring steps that it said would accelerate its transformation for the future, building on the strategy it laid out in 2015 to strengthen its core business, to capitalize on the future of personal mobility and to drive significant cost efficiencies.
These steps include the reorganization of its global product development and product development staffs; the realignment of its manufacturing capacity including the shuttering of 5 North American plants and two international plants in 2019; and a reduction of salaried workforce. GM expects these actions to increase annual adjusted automotive free cash flow by $6 billion by year-end 2020 on a run-rate basis.
Contributing to the cash savings of approximately $6 billion are cost reductions of $4.5 billion and a lower capital expenditure annual run rate of almost $1.5 billion. The actions include:
Transforming product development. GM is evolving its global product development workforce and processes to drive world-class levels of engineering in advanced technologies, and to improve quality and speed to market. Resources allocated to electric and autonomous vehicle programs will double in the next two years. Additional actions include:
Increasing high-quality component sharing across the portfolio, especially those not visible and perceptible to customers.
Expanding the use of virtual tools to lower development time and costs.
Integrating vehicle and propulsion engineering teams.
Compressing global product development campuses.
Optimizing product portfolio. GM has recently invested in newer, highly efficient vehicle architectures, especially in trucks, crossovers and SUVs. GM now intends to prioritize future vehicle investments in its next-generation battery-electric architectures. As the current vehicle portfolio is optimized, GM expects that more than 75% of GM’s global sales volume will come from five vehicle architectures by early next decade.
Increasing capacity utilization. In the past four years, GM has refocused capital and resources to support the growth of its crossovers, SUVs and trucks, adding shifts and investing $6.6 billion in US plants that have created or maintained 17,600 jobs.
With changing customer preferences in the US and in response to market-related volume declines in cars, future products will be allocated to fewer plants next year.
Assembly plants that will have no product allocated (i.e., no operations) in 2019 include:
Oshawa Assembly in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.
Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly in Detroit. (Detroit-Hamtramck is the home of the Chevy Volt, which is being dropped from the 2019 lineup.)
Lordstown Assembly in Warren, Ohio.
Propulsion plants that will be unallocated in 2019 include:
Baltimore Operations in White Marsh, Maryland.
Warren Transmission Operations in Warren, Michigan.
In addition to the previously announced closure of the assembly plant in Gunsan, Korea, GM will cease the operations of two additional plants outside North America by the end of 2019.
These manufacturing actions are expected to significantly increase capacity utilization. To further enhance business performance, GM will continue working to improve other manufacturing costs, productivity and the competitiveness of wages and benefits.
Staffing. GM is transforming its global workforce to ensure it has the right skill sets for today and the future, while driving efficiencies through the utilization of best-in-class tools. Actions are being taken to reduce salaried and salaried contract staff by 15%, which includes 25% fewer executives to streamline decision making.
GM expects to fund the restructuring costs through a new credit facility that will further improve the company’s strong liquidity position and enhance its financial flexibility.
GM expects to record pre-tax charges of $3.0 billion to $3.8 billion related to these actions, including up to $1.8 billion of non-cash accelerated asset write-downs and pension charges, and up to $2.0 billion of employee-related and other cash-based expenses. The majority of these charges will be considered special for EBIT-adjusted, EPS diluted-adjusted and adjusted automotive free cash flow purposes. The majority of these charges will be incurred in the fourth quarter of 2018 and first quarter of 2019, with some additional costs incurred through the remainder of 2019.
Air Liquide to build $150M liquid hydrogen plant in US; long-term agreement with, investment in FirstElement Fuel
Air Liquide expects to invest more than US$150 million to build a liquid hydrogen plant in the western United States, with construction to begin in early 2019. Further, Air Liquide has signed a long-term agreement with FirstElement Fuel Inc (FEF), a leader in retail hydrogen infrastructure in the US, to supply renewable hydrogen to FEF’s retail liquid hydrogen fueling stations in California.
The plant will have a capacity of nearly 30 tons of hydrogen per day—an amount that can fuel 35,000 Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs). Through this investment, Air Liquide will enable the large-scale deployment of hydrogen mobility on the west coast, providing a reliable supply solution to fuel the 40,000 FCEVs expected to be deployed in the state of California by 2022.
The plant will also support other fuel cell vehicle and transportation markets in the region, such as material handling and forklifts and heavy duty trucks.
The new plant is the first large-scale investment into the supply chain infrastructure needed to support hydrogen energy solutions for the energy transition, starting with transport and mobility. The pace of FCEV deployment has now reached a level requiring a growing scale of investment and is paving the way for the growth of zero emission mobility in other geographies.
In addition to the long-term supply agreement, Air Liquide and FEF have entered into an agreement outlining Air Liquide’s intent to make an equity investment in FEF, following previous assistance to the company by Toyota and Honda.
With these agreements, Air Liquide also builds upon its existing collaborations with Toyota and Honda to further enable a robust hydrogen fueling infrastructure and, along with others, bolster the deployment of fuel cell electric vehicles and the retail fueling infrastructure in California.
Over the past 50 years, Air Liquide has developed expertise enabling it to master the entire hydrogen supply chain, from production and storage to distribution and the development of applications for end users, thus contributing to the widespread use of hydrogen as a clean energy source, for mobility in particular. Air Liquide has designed and installed more than 120 stations around the world to date.
FirstElement Fuel Inc is a California-based company established in 2013 with the sole purpose of providing safe, reliable, retail hydrogen to customers of fuel cell electric vehicles. The company is the developer, owner and operator of the True Zero brand of retail stations, which currently represents the largest retail hydrogen station network in the world.
Currently FirstElement operates 19 of its True Zero retail hydrogen stations with 12 more under development. The True Zero Network of stations spans from San Diego, throughout Orange County, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area, and out to Santa Barbara and Lake Tahoe.
Since the opening of its first station in January 2016, the True Zero Network has completed over 230,000 successful fills, eliminated more than 52 million gasoline miles and replaced them with zero emission fuel cell miles, and avoided over 32 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions (in CO2 equivalence).
More of us work from home, but for those who do not, commuting time has increased
by Michael Sivak.
This analysis examines the recent changes in the percentage of people who work at home and changes in time spent commuting to work in the United States and in the 15 largest US cities. The source of the data is the American Community Survey—an ongoing survey by the US Census Bureau. The analysis uses the estimates for 2012 and 2017. The information is for workers 16 years of age and older. The city data apply to the cities listed and not their respective metropolitan areas.
The table below shows the percentages of workers who worked at home, both for the entire country and for the 15 largest cities, with the cities listed in decreasing order of this percentage in 2017.
The percentage increased both for the United States (from 4.4% in 2012 to 5.2% in 2017), and for each examined city except for San Jose (which showed a decrease). In 2017, the percentage in the individual cities ranged by a factor of 2.4—from 8.8% in Austin to 3.6% in Fort Worth.
The table below shows the mean one-way travel time to work (by any means) for those who did not work at home, both for the entire country and for the 15 largest cities (with the cities listed in decreasing order of the mean travel time in 2017).
The mean travel time increased both for the United States (from 25.7 minutes in 2012 to 26.9 minutes in 2017), and for each examined city except for Columbus (which showed no change). In 2017, the mean travel time in the individual cities ranged by a factor of 1.9—from 41.8 minutes in New York to 21.6 minutes in Columbus.
This analysis has documented two seemingly opposing trends. On one hand, the percentage of those who work at home (and thus have travel time of zero) has recently increased, albeit they still represent only a small minority. On the other hand, for those who commute to work, travel time has increased.
Michael Sivak is the managing director of Sivak Applied Research and the former director of Sustainable Worldwide Transportation at the University of Michigan.
“Toyota Safety Sense” preventive safety package-equipped vehicles top 10 million units globally
Toyota Motor Corporation announced that the total global number of vehicles equipped with Toyota Safety Sense (TSS), the Toyota-developed preventive safety package, has reached the 10 million unit mark approximately three and a half years after its March 2015 introduction. Toyota anticipates that within this year, three million vehicles in Japan and five million vehicles in North America will have the package.
Toyota first introduced the package with the Corolla series, centered on the belief that popularizing safety technology is vital. Toyota Safety Sense is currently equipped in approximately 90% of Toyota and Lexus vehicles for the Japanese, United States, and European markets. At present, it has been introduced in a total of 68 countries and regions, including China, other select Asian countries, the Middle East, and Australia.
Toyota Safety Sense helps avoid or mitigate damage and/or injury from serious traffic accidents, based on accident data from Japan, the United States, and Europe. It comprises the following three elements:
Pre-Collision System (PCS): helps prevent and mitigate damage from rear-end collisions involving vehicles and/or pedestrians.
Lane Departure Alert (LDA): helps prevent vehicles from deviating from their lanes and head-on collisions.
Automatic High Beam (AHB): contributes to the early detection of pedestrians and the reduction of accidents during nighttime driving.
Rear-end collisions—the most common type of accident in Japan—involving vehicles equipped with Toyota Safety Sense have been reduced by approximately 70%. If TSS and Intelligent Clearance Sonar (ICS), which covers lower-speed collisions, are combined, rear-end collisions have fallen by approximately 90%.
Toyota Safety Sense is further evolving, based on a two-pronged approach of bolstering its adaptability to traffic accidents involving fatalities and/or injuries, and further popularizing the package, aiming toward the goal of completely eliminating traffic fatalities and injuries.
The second-generation Toyota Safety Sense, introduced in January 2018, makes improvements in detection and performance compared to the previous version, and allows the package to respond to nighttime pedestrian and/or bicycle accidents. Further development is focusing on expanding adaptability to traffic accidents involving fatalities and/or injuries, such as with pedestrians and head-on collisions with oncoming traffic at intersections.
Toyota and Lexus aim to introduce the packages in around 100 countries and regions, including Asia and Latin America, by 2020.
With a focus on providing everyone with safe, reliable mobility, Toyota considers Safety Sense a cornerstone of safe car-making. Toyota will continue to develop safety from a wide range of perspectives, including activities to raise awareness such as “Support Toyota” and by supporting development of a traffic environment that includes the use of Intelligent Transport System (ITS) and connected technologies.
Novel solid-phase transformation enables high-energy Li-S batteries in conventional Li-ion electrolyte
Researchers from Western University, Canadian Light Source, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have proposed a novel solid-phase Li-S transformation mechanism that enables high energy Li-S batteries in conventional Li-ion carbonate electrolytes. An open-access paper on their work is published in Nature Communications.
Schematic of a lithium sulfur battery in carbonate-based electrolyte. Alucone coating is applied to carbon–sulfur electrodes and the sulfur cathode is in cyclo-S8 molecule format. Alucone thin film is directly deposited on the C–S electrodes by alternatively introducing trimethylaluminium and ethylene glycol via molecular layer deposition. Blue balls represent aluminium, green ball represent methyl, and gray balls represent hydroxyl. Li et al.
Carbonate-based electrolytes demonstrate safe and stable electrochemical performance in lithium-sulfur batteries. However, only a few types of sulfur cathodes with low loadings can be employed and the underlying electrochemical mechanism of lithium-sulfur batteries with carbonate-based electrolytes is not well understood.
Here, we employ in operando X-ray absorption near edge spectroscopy to shed light on a solid-phase lithium-sulfur reaction mechanism in carbonate electrolyte systems in which sulfur directly transfers to Li2S without the formation of linear polysulfides. Based on this, we demonstrate the cyclability of conventional cyclo-S8-based sulfur cathodes in carbonate-based electrolyte across a wide temperature range, from −20 °C to 55 °C.
Remarkably, the developed sulfur cathode architecture has high sulfur content (>65 wt%) with an areal loading of 4.0 mg cm−2. This research demonstrates promising performance of lithium-sulfur pouch cells in a carbonate-based electrolyte, indicating potential application in the future.
—Li et al.
For most developed Li-S batteries, the well-known reaction mechanism is that solid sulfur first reduces to liquid long-chain polysulfides and then to solid lithium sulfide (solid-liquid dual-phase reaction). However, the well-developed carbonate electrolyte from conventional Li-ion batteries is not compatible with polysulfides since the side-reaction between polysulfides and carbonate electrolyte is fatal to Li-S batteries. Therefore, the most developed sulfur cathodes cannot be used directly in Li-ion carbonate electrolyte.
Prof. Xueliang (Andy) Sun’s team from Western University, Canada developed a novel surface modification strategy to eliminate polysulfide intermediate product in the Li-S electrochemical reaction, consisting of a molecular layer deposition (MLD) alucone coating applied to a conventional sulfur cathode.
This coating material physically separates the direct contact between the electrolyte and the sulfur cathode but still allows Li-ion transmission—resulting in high performance Li-S batteries in carbonate-based electrolyte.
Xia Li, Mohammad Banis, Andrew Lushington, Xueliang Sun, et al. (2018) “A high-energy sulfur cathode in carbonate electrolyte by eliminating polysulfides via solid-phase lithium-sulfur transformation.” Nature Communications 9, 4509 doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-06877-9
EEA report: EVs are better for climate and air quality
Battery electric cars emit less greenhouse gases and air pollutants over their entire life cycle than petrol and diesel cars, according to a European Environment Agency (EEA) report. Promoting renewable energy and circular economy—including the shared use of vehicles and product design that supports reuse and recycling—will help maximize the benefits of shifting to electric vehicles, according to the report.
The EEA report ‘Electric vehicles from life cycle and circular economy perspectives’ reviews current evidence on electric cars’ impacts on climate change, air quality, noise and ecosystems, compared with conventional cars.
Across its life cycle, a typical electric car in Europe produces fewer greenhouse gases and air pollutants compared with its gasoline or diesel equivalent, according to the report. Emissions are usually higher in the production phase of electric cars, but these are more than offset by lower emissions in the use phase over time.
The report finds that the greenhouse gas emissions of electric vehicles, with the current EU energy mix and over the entire vehicle life cycle, are about 17-30% lower than the emissions of gasoline and diesel cars. However, as the carbon intensity of the EU energy mix is projected to decrease, the life-cycle emissions of a typical electric vehicle could be cut by at least 73% by 2050.
The largest potential reduction in GHG emissions between a BEV and an ICEV occurs in the in-use phase, which can more than offset the higher impact of the raw materials extraction and production phases. However, the extent to which the GHG emissions advantage is realised during the in-use stage of BEVs depends strongly on the electricity mix. BEVs charged with electricity generated from coal currently have higher life-cycle emissions than ICEVs, whereas the life-cycle emissions of a BEV could be almost 90% lower than an equivalent ICEV using electricity generated from wind power. In future, with greater use of lower carbon electricity in the European mix the typical GHG emissions saving of BEVs relative to ICEVs will increase.
—“Electric vehicles from life cycle and circular economy perspectives”
For local air quality, electric vehicles also offer clear benefits, mainly due to zero exhaust emissions at street level. However, even electric vehicles emit particulate matter from road, tire and break wear, the report reminds. Shifting to electric vehicles could also reduce noise pollution, especially in cities where speeds are generally low and traffic often stands still.
BEVS can offer local air quality benefits due to zero exhaust emissions, e.g., nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM). However, BEVs still emit PM locally from road, tre and brake wear, as all motor vehicles do. For local PM emissions, there is a great deal of uncertainty and variation in the results, depending on the assumptions made around ICEV emissions and on the different estimation methods for non-exhaust emissions. In addition, electricity generation also produces emissions.
Here, the spatial location of emissions is important. Where power stations are located away from population centres, replacing ICEVs with BEVs is likely to lead to an improvement in urban air quality, even in contexts in which the total emissions of the latter may be greater. Under these circumstances, the contribution of power stations to regional background levels of air pollution, which also affect the air quality in cities, will probably be outweighed by a reduction in local emissions. As the proportion of renewable electricity increases and coal combustion decreases in the European electricity mix (EC, 2016) the advantage in terms of air quality of BEVs over ICEVS is likely to increase in tandem.
—“Electric vehicles from life cycle and circular economy perspectives”
The result of the comparison is less favorable for electric cars when looking at the current impacts of their production on ecosystems and the toxicity of the materials involved. These impacts are mostly due to the extraction and processing of copper, nickel and critical raw materials. The report suggests that these impacts could be minimized through a circular economy approach that facilitates reuse and recycling—especially of batteries.
The EEA has also published a new briefing on the environmental and climate impacts of transport. According to the briefing, the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions have been increasing in the EU since 2014. Preliminary estimates for 2017 put EU transport emissions at 28% above the 1990 levels, indicating that the sector is currently not on track to meet its long-term climate goals.
Transport also continues to be a significant source of air pollution, especially of particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide, and the main source of environmental noise in Europe, the briefing notes.
Other key findings:
Preliminary data show that average CO2 emissions of new passenger cars in the EU increased by 0.4% in 2017. This was the first time the average emissions increased since the monitoring started in 2010. By contrast, average CO2 emissions from new light commercial vehicles continued to fall in 2017, showing the largest annual decrease (7.7 g CO2/km) since 2012.
Registrations of battery electric vehicles increased by 51% in 2017, comprising 0.6% of all new registrations in the EU. Registrations of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles increased by 35%, comprising 0.8 % of new registrations.
In 2017, gasoline cars became more popular (53% of new registrations) than diesel cars (45%) for the first time since the monitoring started.
Reducing oil consumption in transport remains a challenge, and the EU’s share of renewable energy in transport is still well below the 10% target set for 2020, taking into account only biofuels complying with specific sustainability criteria. So far, only two EU Member States (Austria and Sweden) have reached the 10% target.
ADEME / IFPEN study examines non-geological risks in the security of lithium supplies based on electrification of global car fleet
ADEME, France’s Environment and Energy Management Agency, carried out a study with IFP Energies nouvelles (IFPEN) on the dynamics of lithium supply and demand, based on different scenarios for the electrification of the global car fleet by 2050.
The lithium market continues to grow; in 2015, the market grew by 5% a year, and supply will have to increase sharply to meet future demand.
Distribution of reserves (dashed circles) and world primary production (solid circles) with the main companies present on current production sites and on-going projects. (Source: USGS, 2017)
According to the scenarios developed in this study, a high penetration of electric vehicles worldwide (up to 75% of the stock of vehicles in 2050) would not entail a geological supply risk, as reserves are sufficient in the long run.
On the other hand, this could lead to a marked decrease in the safety margin of lithium supply—the ratio between the cumulative consumption and current reserves—and a possible significant volatility of lithium prices by 2050.
More generally, vulnerabilities economic, industrial, geopolitical or environmental issues are still possible.
Production is currently concentrated between Australia (40%), Argentina and Chile (50% between them). The latter two countries belong to the lithium triangle (Argentina, Bolivia and Chile), which represents about 55% of the world’s resources. The strategies of these 3 countries will have a decisive weight in the medium- and long-term capacity to supply lithium to industrial players, especially in Europe.
Further, vulnerabilities could emerge from increased competition among lithium buyers. China, which has put in place a policy of security of supply, will have competitive advantages and will be able to favor its internal market to the detriment of the importing countries. Developments in China’s trade policy will therefore become an essential parameter of the market, according to the report.
AVEVAI introduces IONA e-LCVs with more than 300 km range; supercapacitor-battery hybrid technology
AVEVAI, a new B2B e-mobility and logistics solutions and technology provider based in Singapore, launched its range of IONA electric light commercial vehicles (e-LCVs) at the 5th Guangzhou International Electric Vehicles Show in China (16-25 November 2018).
The electric vehicles—in van and truck configurations—are designed specifically for use by delivery and service businesses and use supercapacitor battery hybrid technology to achieve an all-electric range of 330 km (205 miles) for the IONA Van and 300 km (186 miles) for the IONA Truck—up to 40% more than comparable e-LCVs.
Supercapacitors are able to accept and deploy electrical charge much faster than conventional batteries, and are less affected by charge and discharge cycles, thereby giving them a longer life.
The graphene-infused supercapacitor technology used by AVEVAI in its IONA models is developed by Singapore-based e-SYNERGY, a provider of smart batteries and energy management systems. This system also extends the optimal productive life of the batteries, compared with existing products on the market. In addition to lowering the total cost of ownership, a factory warranty of five years or 200,000 km (whichever comes first) ensures that no further battery-related expenses are incurred by the vehicle owner or operator.
IONA electric vehicles are powered by a Graphene Energy Management System (GEMS) that can be customized for use in any electric vehicle to enhance performance and range and maximize the productive life of the battery.
The patented GEMS technology, which AVEVAI and e-SYNERGY plan to market in 2019, uses graphene-infused supercapacitors with very low internal resistance. Controlled by a proprietary smart algorithm, GEMS allows charging and discharging cycles to run in nanoseconds and the entire vehicle electrical system to store and distribute energy more efficiently and with greater flexibility.
The system can also harness and utilize up to 85% of energy captured through regenerative braking, which contributes to a substantial extension in range of up to 40% in real-life road tests.
Vehicle down-time is also reduced with fewer charging intervals and optimal charging versatility. A 22kW AC charging station will fully charge the IONA Truck in two hours, while the IONA Van takes less than four hours to be fully charged via a fast-charging terminal. Standard 220v charging is also available. The enhanced durability and performance of the batteries is assured in extreme weather conditions, enabling battery operation in temperatures as low as -40 ˚C and as high as +70 ˚C.
Designed by AVEVAI in Singapore, the IONA is built on a chassis developed in an R&D facility in Stuttgart, Germany, in cooperation with Daimler and Foton. The development process incorporates all performance and safety related elements, from brakes, bearings, drive and control systems, as well as insulation and NVH, to achieve the highest international standards for quality and meet stringent European safety regulations.
AVEVAI was founded in response to the growing demand from small- and medium-sized businesses for low-cost, flexible e-LCVs, driven by the growth of e-commerce. The first two IONA models can be configured to exact customer requirements, with short and long wheel-base versions capable of carrying a payload of up to 2,500 kg and as much as 18 m3 of cargo.
IONA models will be distributed directly by AVEVAI, with first deliveries from February 2019 and deliveries to other markets, including Europe and the US, from May 2019.
A manufacturing partnership has been agreed with China Foton Motor Co., Ltd. to build the vehicles at the FOTON facilities in Shangdong, China, ensuring the highest levels of build quality. With the factory and test drive facilities already established, orders are being taken immediately with minimal build time.
The AVEVAI company name is formed from the words ‘Autonomous Vehicle; Electric Vehicle; Artificial Intelligence’, hinting at future developments planned in other key mobility-focussed technologies. Partnerships with specialist automotive and technology partners will enable the fast development of innovative logistics software, including AI machine-learning and driverless technology for its next generation of products.
JRC: Europe must take steps to boost supply of cobalt for EV batteries
The coming electric vehicle boom will significantly increase the demand for cobalt in the EU and globally. As a result, demand is expected to exceed supply already in 2020 and the EU must take steps to boost supply and curb demand without hindering the growth in electric vehicles, according to a new JRC (Joint Research Center) report.
Cobalt is necessary for the production of the most common types of lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles. While the switch from combustion engines could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it could also create bottlenecks that may stall the process unless they are identified and addressed early on.
As the world’s electric vehicle stock is expected to grow from 3.2 million in 2017 to 130 million in 2030, the overall demand for cobalt could increase threefold within the next decade, outstripping supply already in 2020.
Annual cobalt production in the EU is around 2,300 tonnes, while demand is already about nine times higher. As the gap between supply and demand is expected to increase in the next decade, the EU will continue to depend on imports for the foreseeable future.
Whereas in 2017 65% of the world cobalt mine production (160,000 tonnes) was enough to satisfy the global demand (104,000 tonnes), the latter is expected to skyrocket in the next decade.
The report predicts that, under average conditions, demand will outgrow supply by 64,000 tonnes in 2030.
Cobalt supply chain at risk of concentration disruption. The global supply chain of cobalt is fragile due to extreme concentration. On the one hand, more than half of the worldwide supply (126,000 tonnes) is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo. On the other hand, China produces almost half of the world’s refined cobalt.
According to the JRC report these risks will persist in the future, increasing in the short term but potentially decreasing between 2020 and 2030, when currently ongoing exploration projects could add new suppliers and diversify the market.
Rising prices may impact battery production. Cobalt prices have tripled between 2015 and 2018. A continued trend might seriously impact battery manufacturing, as cobalt accounts for a significant part of production costs.
Substituting cobalt with other metals is technically possible and could reduce demand from electric-vehicle manufacturing by almost 30%.
However, substitution will not be enough to resolve imbalance in the mid-to-long term.
As the EU continues to develop its battery manufacturing capacity, it is crucial to secure adequate cobalt supplies which are obtained sustainably. The report highlights the importance of EU initiatives such as the Raw Materials Initiative pillars and the European Battery Alliance and suggests specific actions which could improve the cobalt market situation in the future, such as:
Promoting cobalt extraction and attracting private investment into minerals exploration by improving regulatory conditions;
Consolidating trade agreements with countries such as Australia and Canada, whose importance as cobalt producers is expected to grow in the future;
Ensuring that used batteries, including those from plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, are collected efficiently in order to boost cobalt recycling;
Exploring ways to bring low-cobalt battery chemistries and cobalt-free alternatives to the market; and
Monitoring the supply-and-demand situation of metals which could potentially substitute cobalt, such as nickel.
Volkswagen Group takes 49% stake in diconium; growing the Volkswagen Automotive Cloud
The Volkswagen Group is acquiring a 49% stake in diconium, strengthening its digital business capabilities. diconium will be a technology partner for the development of business models and digital added-value services in the nascent Volkswagen Automotive Cloud.
The completion of the participation transaction is still subject to approval by the anti-trust authorities.
diconium (formerly dmc), with headquarters in Stuttgart, was established in 1995 and is a leading specialist in the holistic development of digital business models. Its activities include strategy development and the design of the user experience (UX), as well as the implementation and operational realization of business ideas.
The proprietor-managed company has a total workforce of about 800 people working at locations in Germany, Portugal, the US and India. The core competences of diconium include the development of sales platforms for digital products and services as well as IT systems in customer management.
With diconium as a technology partner, the Volkswagen Group is taking the next step in its digitalization efforts. The objective is to offer customers digital value-added services quickly and easily for their vehicles, which will then be fully connected.
The Volkswagen brand has taken the lead within the Group and is developing the Volkswagen Automotive Cloud together with Microsoft—this will link the connected vehicle, the cloud-based platform and digital services.
At Volkswagen, we intend to expand our core business sustainably and to offer our customers more and more tailor-made digital value-added services in and around their vehicles. For this purpose, we are taking technology partners on board to assist us with development. Together, we will offer customers a wide and convenient range of services that they can use with their mobile devices or in their cars. With diconium, we have secured the support of a strong technology partner with substantial experience and considerable competence in the development of digital sales solutions.
—Christoph Hartung, Head of Digital & New Business / Mobility Services of the Volkswagen brand
Among other activities, Volkswagen and diconium intend to launch a global online sales platform allowing Volkswagen customers to purchase and manage all the upcoming “We” services and on-demand functions for their connected vehicles. The functions available will include multimedia streaming, automatic payment for fuel, battery charging and parking, and over-the-air updates.
Volkswagen will also cooperate with diconium on strengthening its digital business capabilities and implementing the items agreed in the recently signed dealer contracts. These provide for close cooperation between the manufacturer and dealers in the consistent digitalization of sales processes and vehicles. Together, Volkswagen and diconium will develop possible projects such as the provision of a software and platform landscape for modern customer and data management.
Albemarle signs exclusivity agreement with Mineral Resources for 50/50 lithium JV in W. Australia; $1.15B deal
Albemarle Corporation, a leader in the global specialty chemicals industry, signed an Exclusivity Agreement (Agreement) with Mineral Resources Limited in relation to the potential creation of a 50/50 joint venture (JV) to own and operate the Wodgina hard rock lithium mine and ultimately develop an integrated lithium hydroxide operation at the resource site.
Wodgina, located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, is a world-class hard rock lithium deposit, with an estimated mine life of more than 30 years.
The proposed JV, which remains subject to negotiation of definitive documents, would combine Albemarle’s lithium production and marketing expertise with Mineral Resources Limited’s (MRL) leading regional presence and mining capabilities. Under the terms of the Agreement, Albemarle would manage the marketing and sales of lithium hydroxide produced by the JV via Albemarle’s long-term agreement strategy.
The purchase price for Albemarle’s 50% interest in the JV would be US$1.15 billion, which Albemarle expects to fund with available cash and new credit facilities. It is expected that the transaction will be accretive to Albemarle’s earnings.
The agreement includes the following key provisions and commercial terms: Albemarle would acquire a 50% interest in all mineral rights within the Wodgina tenements, other than iron ore (which will be retained exclusively by MRL) and tantalum (which remain held by a third party), all fixed infrastructure and utility assets, the spodumene concentration plant and the mobile mining equipment.
The parties would jointly manage the JV, through a company to be owned in equal shares by the parties.
After construction and ramp-up of the spodumene concentration plant, the JV is expected to produce up to 750 ktpa of 6% spodumene concentrate from Wodgina which is planned to be used as feedstock to the future lithium hydroxide plant. The parties would jointly fund, design, build and operate the lithium hydroxide plant in stages at Wodgina utilizing Albemarle’s core design.
The first stage, once fully commissioned, is expected to produce at least 50 ktpa of battery-grade lithium hydroxide. Construction would commence as soon as the necessary licenses and approvals are in place.
The second stage is expected to convert the remaining volume of spodumene concentrate to battery-grade lithium hydroxide (subject to prevailing lithium market conditions at the time supporting this development), at which point the plant is expected to be producing at least 100 ktpa of lithium hydroxide.
The exclusivity period extends to 14 December 2018 (or such later period as the parties mutually agree) for the parties to agree upon and execute binding definitive documents.
While the above terms have been commercially agreed and the agreement is binding in respect to the exclusivity period, the parties will only become legally bound to enter into the proposed joint venture upon execution of definitive documents and board approval by the parties. Completion of the transaction will be subject to satisfaction of conditions of an administrative nature, any regulatory approvals and any third party consents.
Eni and Hera Group partner on conversion of used vegetable oil to renewable diesel for waste collection vehicles
In Italy, Eni and Hera signed a partnership agreement with the aim of converting used vegetable oil into renewable diesel for Hera’s waste collection vehicles. The agreement revolves around household waste vegetable oil, such as that used for frying, collected by Hera in around 400 roadside containers and about 120 collection centres.
The waste oil will be sent to the Eni bio-refinery in Porto Marghera, Venice—the first oil refinery in the world to be converted into a bio-refinery for the production of Green Diesel, a completely renewable product that accounts for 15% of Enidiesel+. Enidiesel+ will power Hera’s urban waste collection vehicles.
Green Diesel—renewable diesel—is produced by Ecofining technology developed in Eni’s laboratories in collaboration with Honeywell UOP.
During an initial phase, Enidiesel+ will be used by around thirty large vehicles in the Modena area to test and optimize the fuel’s environmental benefits.
Results from tests of Enidiesel+ have shown major benefits in terms of air quality, the economy and industry. Compared to conventional diesel, Enidiesel+ features a renewable component that reduces polluting emissions by up to 40%, consumption by about 4% and engine maintenance costs. These metrics be monitored by both companies in collaboration with the Institute for Engines (Istituto Motori) at the National Research Council of Italy (CNR).
To further support of the initiative, Hera has decided to boost the roadside collection of vegetable oil by introducing 300 new dedicated containers in the areas in which it operates. In 2017 alone, 800 tons of waste vegetable oil were collected, recovered and processed for use either as lubricants or energy. This service is increasingly comprehensive. It also provides an incentive to properly recycle waste oil and also works to prevent behavior such as pouring oil down the sink, which damages household plumbing and water treatment plants.