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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Torque Vector Steering Improves Electric Vehicle Energy Efficiency

Germany's Karlsruhe Institute for Technology along with industry partner Schaeffler are researching improvements in electric vehicle energy efficiency by using brake steer or torque vector control of wheel motors to assist power steering.

The project "Intelligent Assisted Steering System with Optimum Energy Efficiency for Electric Vehicles (e²-Lenk)" subsidized by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) focuses on a new assisted steering concept. In conventional vehicles, the internal combustion engine not only accelerates the car but also supplies on-board assist systems with energy; such as the assisted steering system, which reduces the strain on the driver at the wheel.

In electric vehicles, this energy comes from the battery and also reduces the range as a result. In this research project by the collaborating partners, Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT) and Schaeffler, the steering system is assisted in an energy-efficient manner by intelligent control of the drive torques transmitted to the individual wheels. The project is being sponsored by BMBF with a sum of around 0.6 million euros over 3 years and was started in January 2015.

"The new assisted steering system would require less system components in an electric vehicle, this would mean savings in terms of weight and energy in an electric vehicle", explain project managers Dr. Marcel Mayer, Schaeffler, and Dr. Michael Frey, KIT. "This would mean that an electric car would be cheaper and have a greater range." Materials and production steps can be saved due to the potential optimization of the design and weight.

The basic idea of the e²-Lenk project is simple: The wheels in an electric car will be driven individually by electric motors in contrast to a car with an internal combustion engine where all the wheels are provided with equal force. If the wheels on the left side transmit more drive torque to the road than those on the right side, this will result in acceleration of the vehicle to the right without the need to turn the front wheels or consume additional energy for steering.

Tracked vehicles or quadrocopters steer using the same principle. "Steering assistance can be provided while driving by means of an intelligent control system and suitable wheel suspension", says Schaeffler engineer Mayer, Manager of the Automatic Driving Working Group, which is carrying out research as part of the collaborative research project SHARE (Schaeffler Hub for Automotive Research in E-Mobility) at KIT. "Only steering when stationary remains a challenge with conventional designs."

"The assisted steering system is part of the drive train with our approach", explains Frey who is researching at KIT's Institute of Vehicle Systems Technology. Steering the front wheels is carried out without using additional energy. "We also want to significantly increase the quality of driving. Customer benefit, comfort, safety and reliability go hand in hand here."

As part of the project, functional demonstrators are being built, with which the concepts can be validated and optimized in experiments. It is also planned to implement the system in last year's Formula Student racing car KIT built by the university group KA-RaceIng with the participation of the students.

e²-Lenk is the first publicly subsidized joint project as part of the collaborative re-search project SHARE at KIT between Schaeffler Technologies AG & Co. KG and KIT. This joint project is being managed at KIT's East Campus in a joint project management office run by SHARE at KIT and the Institute of Vehicle Systems Technology (FAST).

Schaeffler and KIT are partners in the Leading Edge Cluster Electric Mobility South-West (ESW), which connects over 80 stakeholders from science and economics in the region Karlsruhe – Mannheim – Stuttgart – Ulm. The cluster strategy of the ESW cluster aims to achieve intensive regional collaboration in the field of electric mobility by means of new approaches and forms of cooperation. As a result, knowledge is developed, consolidated and ultimately advantages are achieved in international competition.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Aston Martin To Build Electric Rapide by 2018

Aston Martin Chief Executive Andy Palmer says the company may build an electric version of its Rapide sports car in two to three years as a part of its plan to overhaul its lineup and add several new models.

Mr. Palmer said the company has launched a research project for the electric car and is speaking with electric-vehicle technology companies to partner with, though he declined to say which companies.

“We are looking at technologies around the world, including some pretty cool technologies coming from Silicon Valley,” he said. Tesla Motors Inc., based in Palo Alto, Calif., isn’t one of them, he said.

Mr. Palmer, who came to Aston Martin from Nissan Motor Co., where he was an executive vice president, said the company would be producing ultraluxury special editions of its current models in the short-term to generate buzz and revenue, ahead of the new models. Aston is planning a crossover vehicle as well as an executive large sedan to compete with Rolls-Royce.

Aston Martin recently revealed an all electric DBX Concept at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show.

Source: WSJ

Monday, March 30, 2015

Chris Harris - McLaren P1 Hybrid [VIDEO]

Chris Harris takes the McLaren P1 hybrid hypercar for a drive around the UK in typical wet British weather.

The car is obviously a gorgeous piece of automotive engineering but watching this video you could be forgiven for forgetting the P1 is a hybrid.

Despite the fact Harris talks about throttle response and low-end torque through-out the video, he makes no mention of the torque-fill provided by the 130 kw / 257 Nm electric motor, right up until the the last minute of the film when Harris hits E-mode for a short demo which is more novelty value.

Better late than never, as the saying goes!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

LG Chem to supply batteries for Daimler's Smart EVs

Daimler has picked South Korea's LG Chem to be the sole battery supplier for the automaker's new range of Smart electric vehicles, which will be launched in 2016.

LG Chem did not disclose the value or volume of the deal, but said EVs account for a small portion of about 100,000 Smart mini cars sold a year currently.

LG Chem, which is also an EV battery supplier for General Motors and Renault, said it will provide Smart EV battery cells, which will be made into packs by Daimler's wholly owned subsidiary Deutsche ACCUmotive.

Daimler is LG Chem's 13th automaker client for EV battery packs.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Electric vehicles account for over 20% of Norway's new-car sales

Plug-in electric car sales in Norway continue at just above 20% (21.03%) market share with 2,235 registrations in February 2015. Battery-only electric vehicles now account for 18% of all new-car sales.

The over-all #1 best selling car in Norway for the second month running is the VW e-Golf with 839 units. Sales of the Volkswagen e-Golf in Feb were almost double the top selling fossil fuelled car, the Toyota RAV4 with 450 sales.

The e-Golf accounts for almost 40% of all EV sales in Norway YTD (1,718) selling 3x more than second place Nissan Leaf (556) and 4x more than third placed Tesla Model S (392).

The ICE powered Volkswagen Golf has been one of the best selling cars in Norway for many years but the e-Golf and GTE Plug-in variants now account for 70% of all Volkswagen sales in Norway.

The Norwegian e-Golf sales success sends a clear signal to auto makers that non-quirky, conservative body styling can boost EV market share significantly.


PlNorwayFeb.YTD '15%'14Pl
1Volkswagen e-Golf8391.718395
2Nissan Leaf247556121
3Tesla Model S32139292
4Mitsu Outlander PHEV e)15038496
5Volkswagen e-Up! e)16033173
6BMW i312622754
7Audi A3 e-Tron134188421
8Kia Soul EV4513737
9Renault Zoe5413338
10
11
Mitsubishi I-Miev
Peugeot iOn
32
54
130
114
3
3
9
11
12Volvo V60 Plug-In2757114
13
14
15
16
17
Nissan e-NV200 / Evalia e)
Mercedes B-Class ED e)
BMW i8
Toyota Prius Plug-In
Opel Ampera 
20
20
4
2
53
22
10
5
2
1
0
0
0
0
15
N/A
20
17
21

TOTAL2.2354.459100


Source: EV Sales, Bestsellingcarblog

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Automakers race to double the driving range of affordable electric cars

Global automakers are readying a new generation of mass-market electric cars with more than double the driving range of today’s Nissan Leaf, betting that technical breakthroughs by big battery suppliers such as LG Chem Ltd will jump-start demand and pull them abreast of Tesla Motors Inc.

At least four major automakers — General Motors, Ford, Nissan and Volkswagen — plan to race Tesla to be first to field affordable electric vehicles that will travel up to 320 km (200 miles) between charges.

That is more than twice as far as current lower-priced models such as the Nissan Leaf, which starts at $29,010. The new generation of electric cars is expected to be on the market within two to three years.

To get a Tesla Model S that delivers 265 miles (427 km) on a charge requires buying a version that starts at $81,000 before tax incentives. Most electric cars offered at more affordable prices can travel only about 75 to 85 miles (121 to 137 km) on a charge – less in cold weather or when drivers have the air conditioning on.

Automakers need to pump up electric vehicle demand significantly by 2018. This is when California and eight other states will begin to require the companies to meet much higher sales targets for so-called zero emission vehicles — in other words, electric cars — and federal rules on reducing fuel consumption and greenhouse gases become much stricter.

BATTERY BREAKTHROUGHS

Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said last week that “200 miles is the minimum threshold” to alleviate consumer concerns over EV range. There is “a sweet spot around 250-350 miles that’s really ideal,” he said.

Musk has promised a more affordable Tesla, the Model 3, which will sell for around $35,000 and provide a driving range of 200 miles or more. That car is slated to begin production in mid-to-late 2017.

However, GM says it plans to field a 200-mile electric car, the Chevrolet Bolt, by late 2016.

The Bolt will use an advanced lithium-ion battery pack developed by Korea’s LG Chem, which also supplies batteries for the Chevrolet Volt hybrid. The newer batteries are said to have much higher energy density and provide much longer range between charges, thanks to breakthroughs in battery materials, design and chemistry, according to a source familiar with LG Chem’s technology.

"Several factors are at play that are landing at this 200-mile range" for a vehicle priced between $30,000 and $35,000, LG Chem Chief Executive Prabhakar Patil said in an interview. "We’ve been talking to several OEMs (automakers) regarding where our battery technology is and where it’s going."

LG Chem also supplies standard lithium-ion batteries to the Ford Focus Electric and may supply the longer-range batteries to a new compact EV that Ford is tentatively planning to introduce in late 2018 or early 2019, according to three suppliers familiar with the program.

Compared with the 2015 Focus Electric, which has a range between charges of 76 miles, the new compact electric model would have a range of at least 200 miles, the suppliers said.

Nissan and VW both have battery supply deals with LG Chem, and both are working on longer-range EVs for 2018 and beyond.

Nissan is planning to introduce a successor to the Leaf in early 2018, according to a source familiar with the program, and that model is expected to offer significantly greater range than the current Leaf, the best-selling electric car in the United States, which can go 84 miles (135 km) between charges.

The 2015 Leaf uses batteries made by a joint venture between Nissan and supplier NEC. It is not clear if the future model will shift to LG Chem, although Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has identified LG Chem as a potential battery supplier.

VW plans to expand its current range of electrified vehicles, including a successor to the battery-powered e-Golf in 2018 with much longer range, according to two sources familiar with the program. The current e-Golf uses batteries made by Panasonic and has a range between charges of 83 miles.

Volkswagen plans to decide in the first half of this year whether new battery technology under development at U.S. startup QuantumScape Corp, which may expand an electric vehicle’s driving distance between recharges to as much as 700 kilometers (430 miles), is ready for use in its electric cars.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Foxconn Partners with Tencent in Electric Car Business

Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, better known as Foxconn, on Monday said it has partnered Chinese social networker Tencent Holdings Ltd to develop opportunities related to electric vehicles, marking the latest tech foray into "smart" cars.

Foxconn, WeChat operator Tencent and luxury car dealer China Harmony Auto Holding Ltd signed an agreement to work together in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou, Henan province, the contract manufacturer said without detailing specifics.

The partnership would put Tencent on a par with online peers Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Baidu Inc, which have already moved into the nascent market for Internet-connected cars vie tie-ups with major auto makers.

Foxconn said the coalition would form a working team drawing on its manufacturing capabilities, Tencent's Internet platform and China Harmony Auto's dealership network, to explore commercial possibilities in smart electric vehicles.

Foxconn announced an investment of over $800M to build electric cars in China in 2014.

Foxconn, known more for assembling the bulk of Apple Inc's iPhones, already has experience with electric vehicles having manufactured the touch screens in some cars made by U.S. automaker Tesla Motors Inc.

The absence of a carmaker from its new partnership appears to put the group on a different tack to that of Alibaba or Baidu in targeting electric vehicles.

The Chinese government has recently redoubled efforts to promote electric vehicles, renewing tax breaks and setting aggressive emission standards.

Foxconn has manufacturing operations across China and has been working to diversify from the competitive, low-margin contract business. As part of that drive, it bought around 10 percent of Zhengzhou-based China Harmony Auto last year.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Nissan LEAF Battery Reliability Outperforms Cynics [VIDEO]

Five years and more than 35,000 European sales since the launch of its all-electric LEAF, proprietary data released by Nissan for the first time shows that 99.99 percent of its battery units remain entirely fit for purpose.

The failure rate of the battery power unit is less than 0.01 percent - or just three units in total - a fraction of the equivalent industry-widei figure for defects affecting traditional combustion engines.

To prove the long-term reliability of the battery technology, Nissan tracked down a rather infamous early model, whose owner is still enjoying fault-free motoring in her LEAF three years on.

Electric vehicle advocate and presenter of online TV channel Fully Charged, Robert Llewellyn commented: “This comes as no surprise. There was a lot of apprehension about electric technology in the beginning, but with sales climbing month-on-month I struggle to see how these myths continue to be regurgitated today.”

The Nissan LEAF has smashed its own sales record with a 33 percent increase in sales in 2014 over the previous year, taking more than a quarter of the burgeoning electric car market with 15,098 sales.

Jean-Pierre Diernaz, Director of Electric Vehicles for Nissan in Europe, comments: "The facts speak for themselves. The rate of battery faults in our vehicles is negligible, even the most ardent critic cannot argue with that.

“The battery technology is just part of our success story. With over 165,000 customers globally, it’s clear that we’re not the only people who are thrilled by the success of this state-of-the-art technology.”

With just three main components – the on-board charger, inverter and motor – the Nissan LEAF is also 40 percent cheaper to maintain compared to petrol or diesel-powered alternatives.

The Nissan LEAF launched over four years ago in 2010, as one of the first mass-market, pure-electric vehicles. It is now the best-selling electric vehicle in history, with over 165,000 LEAF vehicles sold globally, more than 35,000 of which have been sold in Europe; clocking up an impressive one billion kilometres worldwide.

UK Highways Agency commissions study into wireless power on roads

The Highways Agency has commissioned the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) to undertake a feasibility study into the use of dynamic wireless power transfer (WPT) on Britain’s roads.

The Highways Angency wants to understand whether WPT can be used on motorways and major A roads, so it can prepare for and “potentially encourage” greater uptake of electric vehicles (EV).

Scheduled to report in spring this year, TRL will identify two near-market dynamic WPT technologies that could be suitable in future research and trials of the technology in the UK. The feasibility study will also consider “the requirements for integration with road infrastructure and maintenance, connection to the grid and requirements for provision of power and energy”.

In addition, TRL will look into approaches by vehicle manufacturers of integration into different classes of vehicle from cars to HGVs and busses, and investigate the viability of introducing the technology.

TRL said in a statement: “The purpose of the project is not to find an alternative to current plug-in charging infrastructure but rather to develop a comprehensive charging eco-system capable of delivering power to EVs via different methods. This is to facilitate greater and more flexible use of EVs in the UK, overcome range anxiety and allow switching to zero emission for vehicle types that have traditionally been accepted as not suitable for electrification, such as HGVs and coaches.”

Once the study is completed, TRL said it could be followed by a series of off-road “test track trials and accelerated pavement facility testing”.

Audi Launch 2015 R18 E-Tron Quattro WEC

Audi Motorsport has taken the wraps off the 2015 R18 e-tron quattro scheduled to compete in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).

The new version has some big shoes to fill taking into account last year's model triumphed at Le Mans, but Audi is confident they can repeat the 2014 success thanks to a more aerodynamic body. It features larger air inlets in the redesigned front wheel arches along with reshaped headlights benefiting from matrix LED and Audi Laserlight technologies. Also new are the front wing, hood and engine cover while the monocoque has been carried over.

Audi has prepared two body configurations suitable for various tracks of the 2015 WEC calendar and they have also optimized the chassis in collaboration with Michelin. The engineers were responsible for doubling the amount of energy from 2 to 4 megajoules per race lap at Le Mans and during braking the energy recovered is then sent back to the front axle during acceleration.

The electric motor has been upgraded to 272 HP (200 kW), representing a "significant increase" compared to last year's variant while the encapsulated flywheel energy storage system can now store 700 kilojoules which is 17% more than before.

The LMP1 prototype tips the scales at just 870 kg (1,918 lbs) and now consumes 2.5% percent less diesel per lap than last year in order to meet the more stringent regulations implemented by FIA. Output of the TDI 4.0-liter V6 engine stands at 558 HP (410 kW) and only five engines will be available during the 2015 WEC season.