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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Hitachi to make electric-vehicle motors in China

Hitachi will turn out electrified-automobile motors in China as soon as fiscal 2020, aiming to capitalise on a government initiative to boost production of environmentally friendly vehicles.

Hitachi Automotive Electric Motor Systems, a joint venture of Hitachi Automotive Systems and Honda Motor, established a unit in Guangdong Province dedicated to the development and production of motors for electrified vehicles, including hybrids, according to Monday's announcement.

Outlays for the production facilities, which will be built on an 88,000-sq.-meter plot, and capacity have not been disclosed. Mass production may kick off in the fiscal year starting April 2020. Hitachi also operates similar sites in Japan and the U.S.

Under the new initiative, automakers will soon be required to make and sell a minimum number of so-called new-energy vehicles based their overall output. These vehicles must account for 10% of production in 2019 and 12% in 2020, with adjustments made for such factors as models that run for longer distances.

Global auto manufacturers have indicated plans to upgrade their new-energy vehicle businesses in China.

Hitachi Automotive Systems, which also makes lithium-ion battery systems for autos, seeks to increase sales 260% in fiscal 2020 from the fiscal 2016 level.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Volkswagen is developing an all-electric race car for Pikes Peak 2018

Volkswagen is developing an all-electric race car for the world’s most famous mountain race, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado, USA on 24 June 2018. The all-wheel-drive prototype’s goal is to set a new record for electric cars at the finish line, 14,000 feet above sea level. The new motorsport project is part of Volkswagen’s process of transforming itself into the leading producer of electric vehicles. By 2025, the Volkswagen brand will already offer 23 all-electric models.

"The Pikes Peak hill climb is one of the world’s most renowned car races. It poses an enormous challenge and is therefore perfectlly suited to proving the capabilities of upcoming technologies," explains Dr Frank Welsch, Member of the Board responsible for Development. "Our electric race car will be equipped with innovative battery and drive technology. The extreme stress test posed by Pikes Peak will give us important feedback that will benefit future development, and it will showcase our products and their technologies."

The vehicle is being developed by Volkswagen Motorsport in close cooperation with Technical Development in Wolfsburg. "The race on Pikes Peak is a new beginning for us. We are developing an all-electric race vehicle for the first time," explains Sven Smeets, Volkswagen Motorsport Director. "The project is also an important milestone in our new motorsport orientation. Our team is literally electrified about taking on this incredible challenge." Volkswagen Motorsport last participated in the Pikes Peak mountain race in 1987 with a spectacular twin-engined Golf which barely missed finishing. "It is high time for a rematch," continues Smeets.

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb—which insiders also call the ‘Race to the clouds’—has been run since 1916 in the Rocky Mountains near Colorado Springs. The race course is 12.4 miles long, and it climbs 4,700 feet to the summit at just over 14,000 feet above sea level. The current record in the class of electric prototypes is 8 minutes 57.118 seconds, set by Rhys Millen in 2016.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Volkswagen to launch heavy-duty electric trucks and buses

Volkswagen Truck & Bus are working on electric solutions for use in both medium- and heavy-duty distribution transport and city buses. It will soon have a complete range of electric vehicles for the European market. The jointly developed e-drivetrain will form the basis of any electric architecture in the future.

This electric powertrain is designed in a way that means that it can be used to drive future distribution trucks and city buses manufactured by the Volkswagen Truck & Bus brands as a universal modular element. Navistar, Volkswagen’s strategic partner in the U.S., will also use the platform to be able to offer electric distribution trucks from 2019 onwards.

MAN is already well on its way to developing an electric distribution truck. “We plan to deliver the first nine fully electric trucks to our customers in Austria by the end of 2017 – including large supermarket chains, breweries and haulers.

Electric drives and distribution are a match made in heaven: The drives are quiet, do not produce any emissions locally, and are a perfect fit for customers’ requirements. Equally, demand for these types of vehicles has been on the rise. We will be launching the first small set of vehicles on the market at the end of 2018,” Joachim Drees, CEO of MAN Truck & Bus, explained.

World premiere in Hamburg for the electric distribution truck, the e-Delivery

With the fast-growing emerging economies in mind, another electrically powered distribution truck has been developed, which had its world premiere under the model designation Volkswagen e-Delivery at the Innovation Day. The e-Delivery is a modern truck for urban logistics designed to improve sustainability in the delivery of goods. It will be built at Volkswagen Caminhões e Onibus in Brazil in 2020. Roberto Cortes, CEO of MAN Latin America: “The e-Delivery marks a milestone in the history of Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus. This is a brand-new platform that was developed in Brazil with the aim of offering new mobility alternatives to large cities.”

Both MAN and Scania will be testing the module on pre-series production versions of a city bus that runs on electric batteries (BEV) under everyday conditions in several European cities. Series production of these electric buses is due to start before 2020. Both brands can already offer comprehensive advice on introducing electric mobility solutions, along with the necessary charging requirements for electric buses, to bus operators and communities. As part of this endeavor, the focus is on being able to offer a variety of options, such as charging the buses overnight in depots or charging mid-route at bus stops.

Initiatives are under way to find a different way to electrify heavy-duty trucks to make sure that their range and load capacity can become suitable for long-haul traffic. The buzzword for this area of development is “e-road”, which focuses on the use of overhead power lines, as in the rail sector. Trucks powered by overhead lines can run with zero emissions, and any batteries can be charged depending exactly on how many emission-free kilometers still lie ahead. A test route for electric Scania trucks already exists in Sweden. Test routes have also been announced in Germany.

Drive systems of the future will not be uniform, since their aim is to achieve an intelligent transition from diesel engines to alternative drive systems and fuels. “Volkswagen Truck & Bus has announced its aim of becoming number one in the field of alternative drive systems,” Andreas Renschler explained. “The company already has a broadly diversified portfolio, which offers the best possible foundation for this endeavor.”

Transparent structures, clearly defined goals and a wealth of both tried and tested expertise and pioneering technology: Volkswagen Truck & Bus is rapidly becoming a Global Champion. This three-pronged approach, which combines automated transportation, digital services, and environmentally-friendly alternative drive systems, will reduce costs, make rising transport volumes manageable and protect the environment. In implementing the approach, the Group and its brands will set new benchmarks and be able to offer the right solution for every customer.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Porsche Cayman e-volution rips 0-100 km/h in 3.3 Seconds

Porsche have showcased an electric vehicle concept at the Electric Vehicle Symposium in Stuttgart. The Cayman e-volution is a research vehicle with a charging voltage of 800 volts that accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in 3.3 seconds and offers a range of 200 kilometres. Unfortunately, no powertrain details have been released. The vehicle will not go into series production, but does give an early indication of just how sporty Porsche believes e-mobility can be.

The Cayman e-volution also hints at what is to come in 2019, when Porsche will bring its first purely electric sports car, the Mission E, into production. The Mission E will be capable of covering a range of over 500 kilometres, and will be able to charge its batteries to 80 per cent within just 15 minutes.

With Porsche Turbo Charging, the sports car manufacturer is also showcasing its first ever accumulator-based fast charging system, which is capable of achieving a charging capacity of up to 320 kW per vehicle or twice 160 kW. The system is a collaborative development between Porsche Engineering and ADS-TEC, and is particularly suitable for use in areas where the distribution system is subject to power limitations.

The system is to be used as a supplement to high-power fast charging network with medium voltage connection. One of these networks will be built on major European traffic routes by 2020 in a joint venture between Porsche, Audi, BMW, Daimler and Ford.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Toyota Forms Electric Vehicle Joint Venture

Toyota Motor Corporation has formed a joint venture with Mazda Motor Corporation and Denso Corporation to develop basic structural technologies for electric vehicles (EVs) with a view to reducing costs and lead times.

The three companies are establishing a new company that will develop a diverse range of models, from mini-vehicles to passenger vehicles, SUVs and light trucks to ensure flexible and rapid response to market trends.

Called the EV Common Architecture Spirit Co. Ltd, the new company will be owned 90 per cent by Toyota while Mazda and Denso will each have stakes of five per cent.

Toyota, Japan's largest vehicle manufacturer, said the joint technological development project would ensure efficient development processes, and take advantage of existing production facilities.

It would allow Toyota and Mazda to create appealing EVs that embody the unique identities of each brand and avoid the commoditisation of EVs.

Toyota said new regulations that mandate a certain proportion of electric vehicle sales are beginning to emerge as countries adopt increasingly stringent policies to help reduce greenhouse gases.

It said complying with these environmental regulations, while ensuring sustainable growth, required the development of a wide range of powertrains and technologies.

"We regard electric vehicles (EVs) as a key technological field in this process alongside fuel-cell vehicles," Toyota said in a statement.

"With EVs yet to find widespread market acceptance, the huge investments and time required to cover all markets and vehicle segments is a pressing issue for individual automakers when responding to the widely varying demand for vehicles around the world.

"The new company aims to innovate the development process by combining the strengths of each company, including Mazda's bundled product planning and prowess in computer modelling-based development, Denso's electronics technologies, and the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform."

Toyota, Mazda and Denso also aim to create a business structure that is open to participation by other automakers and suppliers.

The new partnership builds on last month's announcement that Toyota and Mazda would work together to develop electric car and advanced safety technologies. As part of that announcement, Toyota agreed to take a five-per-cent stake in Mazda.

The new company will engage in the following:

  • 1. Research into the characteristics (common architecture*) that define optimum performance and functions of EVs from the standpoint of both individual components and the whole vehicle.

  • 2. Verification of component installation and vehicle performance realised by the characteristics achieved in item 1)

  • 3. Examination of the optimum concept for each car classification with regard to each component and each type of vehicle realized by achieving items 1) and 2).

    It will initially have approximately 40 employees including selected engineers from the three companies.

  • Wednesday, September 20, 2017

    Sunswift Violet ready to compete in World Solar Challenge

    Sunswift Violet, a sleek four-seat sedan designed and built by engineering students at UNSW, left Sydney on Wednesday on a 4,300 km drive to Darwin, where it will compete in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge.

    It is the sixth-generation solar car created by the UNSW Solar Racing Team Sunswift (EV News had the opportunity to test Sunswift eVe back in 2014), built for practicality, speed and endurance, combining cutting-edge technology with modern comfort.

    Sunswift Violet will be battling 47 teams from 21 nations in the 3,021 km race from Darwin to Adelaide, which begins on Sunday 8 October 2017.

    “Violet looks like a family sedan, but uses as much power as a four-slice toaster,” said Sunswift team leader Simba Kuestler. “She’s got entertainment and air-conditioning systems, including navigation, reverse camera parking sensors, and there’s even wi-fi aboard. And she’s got plenty of front and rear boot space.”

    It has a top speed of 130 km/h and a range of 800 km running just on its rooftop solar panels. It also sports modular lithium-ion batteries which store power from the sun; running just on its batteries, it has a range of 400 km. The vehicle relies on around 7kW of horsepower at 110km/h, and two 1.5kW motors that run at 98% efficiency.

    With a twill carbon-fibre monocoque chassis, Sunswift Violet weighs less than 400kg. And because good aerodynamics are vital in the quest for energy efficiency – the more slippery the car, the better – Sunswift Violet has a drag coefficient below 0.2, better than the best wind-cheating cars on the market.

    While undergoing race testing at the Sydney Motorsport speedway in Eastern Creek late last week, the car experienced a mishap: a bolt on the left-hand front suspension fractured during intense speed braking tests, causing the car to drop onto the roadway and skid for some 30 metres. There were four students aboard at the time, but no-one was hurt.

    Mark Hoffman, UNSW’s Dean of Engineering, said challenges like these were a learning opportunity: “The car is operating at the cutting-edge of what’s possible, and the students are putting it through strenuous testing ahead of a race where they will face intense conditions, so it’s no surprise they will face setbacks,” he said. “That’s what an engineering degree should be about, learning about demanding, real-world challenges.”

    Despite the setback, the team of undergraduate students worked late nights and over the weekend to repair the damage and reinforce all the dynamic systems of the car, in order meet their original schedule.

    The Sunswift team holds the world land-speed record for an electric vehicle, recognised in 2014 by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, when their previous vehicle – Sunswift eVe – travelled at an average 100 km/h over a distance of 500 km on a single charge. This broke a record that had stood for 26 years, and was recognised with a world record trophy.

    Teams competing in this year’s Bridgestone World Solar Challenge come from Belgium, Canada, Chile, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States as well as Australia.

    Thursday, September 14, 2017

    Opel Ampera-e Covers 750 Kilometers on Single Charge

    A TV crew from auto mobil, a show on the VOX channel, wanted to know exactly what the Opel Ampera-e electric range champion was capable of and whether it could drive from the most easterly to the most westerly city in Germany on a single charge. From Görlitz to Aachen - a distance of 750 kilometers.

    With an official range of 520 kilometers measured in accordance with the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) Opel’s electric car boasts a considerably larger range than its current closest segment rivals. And the Opel Ampera-e also impresses when tested approximated to the speed profile defined in the WLTP (Worldwide Harmonized Light-Duty Vehicles Test Procedure) driving cycle (shortened test procedure): Based on this development test, the engineers estimate a combined WLTP range of 380 kilometers.

    Naturally, the range in everyday use varies and depends on personal driving behavior and on external factors. And this is exactly where VOX auto mobil head of testing Albert Königshausen and presenter Alexander Bloch come into play. The duo set off from Görlitz in a standard Opel Ampera-e at the end of August. Their route took them along country roads towards Aachen.

    The two journalists took turns at the wheel and patiently reeled off kilometer after kilometer at speeds mainly between 40 and 50 km/h for no less than 25 hours and 30 minutes, making full use of the brake energy regeneration of the Ampera-e, thus charging the battery under deceleration (recuperation). And then the ‘external factors’ had their say. Diversions extended the route by 20 kilometers and this was exactly the distance that the duo failed to reach the Aachen town sign by. When the 60 kWh lithium-ion battery was finally flat, the distance on the odometer was exactly 754.9 kilometers. On a single charge!

    Ampera-e combines practicality with efficiency and temperament

    Apart from dazzling with its exceptional range, the 4.16 meter long Ampera-e also offers plenty of space for up to five passengers plus trunk space of 381 liters (1,274 liters when the seats are folded down). This is made possible by the space-saving underbody integration of the large capacity batteries. ‘Das Elektroauto’ also offers Opel-typical outstanding digital connectivity: The Ampera-e comes with latest generation IntelliLink infotainment, which is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with Opel OnStar.

    Elsewhere, the Opel Ampera-e also shines with its electrifying temperament based on the electric motor with its output that is equivalent to 150 kW/204 hp (PS) and instant torque of 360 Nm. This enables it to accelerate from 0 to 50 km/h in just 3.2 seconds and from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.3 seconds – times rivalling those of sports cars. Mid-range acceleration from 80 to 120 km/h, which is especially important for overtaking maneuvers, is completed in just 4.5 seconds. Top speed is limited to 150 km/h for the benefit of the overall range.

    Monday, September 11, 2017

    VW announce $84 billion investment in electric cars

    Volkswagen is stepping up its shift to electric cars and plans to invest more than 20 billion euros ($24 billion) in zero-emission vehicles by 2030 to challenge pioneer Tesla in creating a mass market.

    The world’s largest automaker by sales said on Monday it would roll out 80 new electric cars across its multi-brand group by 2025, up from a previous goal of 30, and wanted to offer an electric version of each of its 300 group models by 2030.

    The German company had previously said it would spend more than 10 billion euros by 2025 on a move to electric vehicles.

    “A company like Volkswagen must lead, not follow,” Chief Executive Matthias Mueller told reporters on the eve of the Frankfurt auto show as he unveiled the group’s “roadmap E”.

    “We are setting the scene for the final breakthrough for e-mobility.”

    VW’s electric car offensive mirrors pre-Frankfurt show announcements by German rivals.

    Daimler said on Monday its Mercedes-Benz luxury brand planned to offer electric motors for all models by 2022, though cautioned the shift to lower-margin electric cars required extra cost savings.

    BMW, which launched the i3 electric car in 2013, said on Thursday it was readying its factories to mass produce electric vehicles by 2020 and pledged to have 12 purely battery-powered models on offer by 2025.

    The Volkswagen Group will fully electrify its entire model portfolio by 2030. That means: By then at the latest, there will be at least one electric variant of each of the Group’s around 300 models. For all brands and in all markets. “That’s not a non-binding declaration of intent, but a commitment we’ll be measured by as of this day,” stresses Müller.

    The company will provide more than €20 billion for direct investment in industrializing electromobility by 2030. The money will be spent on vehicles based on two completely newly developed electric platforms, as well as on the plants and workforce qualification. It will also go toward the charging infrastructure.

    “We also won’t let the issue of batteries be taken out of our hands,” emphasizes Müller. He adds that the company will need a battery capacity of more than 150 GWh a year by 2025 solely to fit its own e-fleet with lithium-ion batteries.

    To cater for that enormous demand, the Volkswagen Group has initiated an invitation to tender for long-term strategic partnerships for China, Europe and the United States. “We’re talking here about one of the largest procurement projects in our industry’s history, one with a global order volume of more than €50 billion over its term,” states Müller. That was solely for the Group’s high-volume vehicles based on the all-electric architecture.

    News of a €10 Billion battery Gigafactory surfaced last year with Salzgitter in the German state of Lower Saxony being a likely location.

    VW invested in solid-state battery startup QuantumScape in late 2014 and have publicly stated they expect the technology can deliver 700 km range. VW is also targeting a 66 percent cost reduction by using a single battery module design for all of its electrified vehicles.

    The CEO makes it clear that the campaign has ambitious objectives: “We want to make Volkswagen the world’s number 1 when it comes to electromobility by 2025.” One-in-four of all new vehicles from the Group might then be powered solely by electricity. “Depending on how the market develops, we’re talking here about up to three million e-cars a year.”

    “Nothing can stop the transformation in our industry. And we’ll lead that transformation,” emphasizes Müller. His mission is to shape the system change in drive technology, boldly, uncompromisingly, yet responsibly. As the CEO notes: “Our goal is to redefine mobility. To make it sustainable, clean and better for our customers worldwide. That’s what drives us. That drives me personally. And it’s what 600,000 employees at the Volkswagen Group and our brands are working to accomplish.”

    Monday, September 4, 2017

    Porsche trials full electric 40 ton truck for logistics

    More than 600 trucks arrive at the Porsche plant in Leipzig every day as part of the company’s logistics network. Now the first truck with a purely electric drive is being used between the logistics centre and the assembly supply centre. This action is part of the eJIT research project, which involves Porsche Leipzig as well as IAV GmbH, Schnellecke Logistics, Volkswagen Sachsen and the Saxony Automotive Supplier Network. The aim of the pilot project is to test the use of electric trucks under real conditions in multi-shift operation at automotive plants.

    The electric truck is charged during the planned waiting times while it is being loaded at the supply centre. The battery is charged while the process is ongoing using a 150-kW fast charger, enabling the truck to be used in three-shift operation. Once fully charged, the truck has a range of around 70 kilometres and a top speed of 85 kilometres per hour. Alongside the project at Porsche Leipzig, a second electric truck is being tested by Volkswagen Sachsen at the Zwickau plant.

    The eJIT project is intended to run for a total of three years

    A second stage of the project is scheduled for the coming year, with the Porsche plant in Leipzig set to operate a highly automated vehicle from 2018 onwards. The eJIT project is intended to run for a total of three years. The project partners IAV GmbH, Porsche Leipzig, Schnellecke Logistics, Volkswagen Sachsen and the Saxony Automotive Supplier Network have been working together since early 2016 on the electrification of trucks, with the aim of reducing noise and emissions at automotive sites.

    The project is part of the technology programme “Information and communication technology for electric mobility III: Integrating commercial e-vehicles in logistics, energy, and mobility infrastructure”, which is run by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and is a continuation of the previous research into the commercial use of electric mobility.

    Monday, July 3, 2017

    Honda team up with Hitachi in EV motor joint venture

    Hitachi Automotive Systems, Ltd. and Honda Motor Co., Ltd. today announced the establishment of a joint venture company for the development, manufacture and sales of motors for electric vehicles on the premises of Hitachi Automotive Systems in Hitachinaka-shi, Ibaraki Prefecture.

    As announced on February 7, 2017, the two companies have conducted discussions based on a Memorandum of Understanding signed on February 3, and entered into a joint venture agreement on March 24 to make more tangible preparations to establish the new company.

    The newly established company will receive a financial grant from Ibaraki Prefecture as it has been recognized as a relevant project that "promotes the establishment of corporate head office functions" within the prefecture.

    The new company will respond to the growing global demand from automakers for electric vehicle motors by developing competitive motors that combine the expertise of the two companies.

    Automakers are increasingly teaming up with parts suppliers to build components for the fast-growing EV segment as a way to expand product line-ups while containing high development costs.

    "Producing motors is capital intensive, so rather than just manufacturing them for our own purposes, we would like to produce in large volumes with the possibility of supplying a variety of customers," said Honda Chief Executive Officer Takahiro Hachigo.

    "In pairing up with Hitachi, we're hoping to tap into its expertise in volume production."

    The venture will be 51 percent owned by Hitachi Automotive Systems Ltd and 49 percent held by Honda, the two companies said.

    It will build motors to be used in petrol hybrids, plug-in hybrids and battery-electric cars, and will have sales and manufacturing functions in the United States and China in addition to Japan, they said.

    Hitachi Automotive Systems is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd and longtime supplier of components including engine and brake parts to Honda.

    It counts the alliance of Nissan Motor Co Ltd and Renault SA as its biggest client, accounting for around one-third of annual sales. Other customers include Toyota Motor Corp, Ford Motor Co and Volkswagen AG.