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Thursday, May 28, 2015

LG Chem to offer 80 to 120 kWh batteries

South Korean chemical engineering company LG Chem have announced its intention to be a supplier of larger batteries to car manufacturers who are interested in longer range EVs.

LG Chem is targeting a 300-500 km range battery pack. The company contends that currently most EVs with their 100-150 km range have a limited appeal and that hinders the potential for market growth. Currently, only the Tesla Model S possesses a truly long-range battery pack.

To that end, LG Chem says it would begin to offer large capacity lithium-ion batteries that hold between 80 and 120 kWh.

LG Chem is already a supplier for the Chevrolet Volt. General Motors announced this past January that the Bolt, a new pure EV that will go into production in 2016, will have a 320 km range.

Such long-range EVs have the potential to dramatically shake up the electric-car landscape and appeal to a larger audience.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

500 hp BYD Tang Plug-In Hybrid SUV now Available for Pre-orders

BYD Company Ltd. has officially announced their much anticipated Dual Mode Electric SUV, the Tang, will become available for pre-order on January 21, 2015 for the anticipated price of 300,000 RMB (before EV incentives) - USD$48,360. The announcement took place at BYD’s Annual International Auto Innovator Conference in Shenzhen.

Demand for the BYD Tang is said to be incredibly high after BYD saw record EV sales in 2014 with the BYD Qin now topping the World’s Best Selling EV charts (presently in 5th place in PHEV sales). The BYD Tang is expected to quickly surpass the BYD Qin’s monthly sales figures as China has waited a long time for a PHEV Sport Utility Vehicle.

The BYD Tang, announced at Auto China 2014 (the Beijing Auto Show), is BYD Auto’s second generation DM 2.0 PHEV vehicle, and first of the much touted BYD 5-4-2 platform models:

  • 5: standing for 0-100km/ h (0-60 mph) in less than 5 seconds
  • 4: standing for 4-wheel drive
  • 2: standing for less than 2 liters average consumed over 100 km (best-in-class fuel economy nearly equal to 147 mpg)

    Similar to the BYD Qin, Tang gets its name from the Tang Dynasty, and is known throughout the world as the most prosperous of all the great Chinese Dynasties. Also announced during the innovator’s conference were two more Sport Utility offerings from BYD that will become available for order later in 2015:

    The “BYD Song”, a mid-size SUV along with the “BYD Yuan”, a compact SUV will both cater to China’s insatiable demand for Sport Utility Vehicles, and when powered by BYD’s industry leading 5-4-2 platform are set to redefine limitations of current PHEVs and SUVs alike.

  • Tuesday, May 26, 2015

    Daimler and Qualcomm to develop wireless charging for EVs

    Daimler and telecommunications giant Qualcomm Technologies have announced a partnership to develop new wireless charging technologies for vehicles and phones.

    The alliance will focus on “mobile technologies that enhance in-car experiences and vehicle performance,” as well as Qualcomm's Halo Wireless Electric Vehicle (WEVC) technology, with the overall aim of introducing an induction charging system into future Mercedes models.

    Possible candidates for the technology could include the next-generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class, currently powered by a plug-in hybrid 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6, or even the small-sized B-Class Electric Drive.

    Qualcomm, more widely known for producing a range of high-end smartphone processors, started developing the technology in 2011 and WEVC trials have been underway in the United Kingdom since 2012, with the technology working similarly to wireless phone charging.

    A Vehicle Charging Unit (VCU) is installed in the floor of a garage or car park, which sends power wirelessly to a similar unit installed in the car, which sends power to the electric vehicle batteries.

    Currently the technology only allows for stationary charging, but development is underway on dynamic charging that will work by installing multiple VCUs underneath roads capable of charging cars on the move.

    The implementation of dynamic charging could cut the cost of electric vehicle manufacturing by reducing the need for large, range-extending batteries.

    Additionally, Qualcomm's WiPower technology will be implemented to allow full wireless charging on a smaller scale, for compatible smartphones and tablets inside the vehicle.

    Daimler AG group research and Mercedes development board member Thomas Weber said the new partnership will bear fruit for both companies.

    “It's important that we remain on the cutting edge of technology and continue to deliver unparalleled experiences to our customers,” he said.

    “With this in mind, we are eager to jointly explore possible fields of future cooperation with an internationally leading tech-firm like Qualcomm.”

    Qualcomm Incorporated President Derek Aberle said integration of vehicle and mobile communications is the way of the future.

    “The automobile has become an extension of always-on connectivity, and as such, we're continuously utilising our expertise in wireless mobility to deliver in-car experiences comparable to the ease and convenience of smartphones,” he said.

    Last year, German luxury rival brand BMW announced it would team up with Daimler to research and explore the possibilities of similar technology, and Volvo has also previously revealed it is looking at the cordless tech and Toyota signed a deal with WiTricity in late 2013.

    Californian Electric car specialist Tesla has also tested the potential of such systems, but dismissed them saying too much power was wasted in the transfer process.

    Graphene Supercapacitor equals Li-ion battery energy density

    Scientists in South Korea have developed a graphene supercapacitor that stores as much energy per kilogram as a lithium-ion battery and can be recharged in under four minutes.

    Supercapacitors are not a new idea. But graphene, which is a form of carbon composed of sheets a single atom thick, is especially suitable for making them.

    Graphene has an area of 2,675 square metres per gram. All of this surface is available for the storage of static electricity. Graphene could therefore be used to make supercapacitors that hold more energy per kilogram than lithium-ion batteries.

    Graphene is to graphite what a single playing card is to a full pack. Strong chemical bonds keep the graphene layers intact, but the individual layers are held to each other only weakly, which is why graphite can be used to make the “lead” in pencils. To make small amounts of graphene, you can peel the layers from the surface of a graphite crystal one at a time, as a dealer might when distributing cards (there are various ways of doing this). To make a lot of it, though, you have to pull the whole crystal apart, as one might scatter a pack across a table.

    Dr Lu Wu of Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, in South Korea, did this in two stages. First, he exposed powdered graphite to oxygen in a controlled manner to produce a substance called graphite oxide. This is not a true oxide, with a fixed chemical formula. Rather, it is a graphite-like substance that has oxygen-rich clusters of atoms between the graphene layers.

    This done, he then heated the graphite oxide to 160°C in a vessel which had an internal pressure of a tenth of an atmosphere. The heat caused chemical reactions inside the graphite oxide, and these produced carbon dioxide and steam. The increased internal pressure these gases created, pushing against the reduced external pressure in the vessel, blew the graphite apart into its constituent sheets. Those, after a bit of further treatment to remove surplus oxygen, were then suitable for incorporation into a supercapacitor—which Dr Lu did.

    The result, though small, worked well. It stored as much energy per kilogram as a lithium-ion battery and could be recharged in under four minutes. Scaled up to the size needed for a car, the current required to recharge it that quickly would require a pretty robust delivery system.

    Monster Tajima to contest 2015 Pikes Peak with Rimac [VIDEO]

    Rimac Automotive have released a tease video of a track test session. The car featured has been built by Rimac for Monster Tajima, who will contest the 2015 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb with the vehicle.

    Full details will be revealed soon

    Bosch test robotic Tesla Model S around German test track [VIDEO]

    Bosch's engineers took a pair of Model S and fitted them with autonomous technology to allow them to drive themselves.

    That technology consisted of 50 new components, including (brace yourselves) a front stereo video camera to watch the road markings and identify obstacles, six (non-Bosch) LiDAR laser scanners for 360º coverage around the car, two long-range (200m) and four mid-range (120m) radar sensors facing forwards and backwards, inertial sensors, a GNSS GPS navigation antenna, backup braking (both Bosch’s iBooster and ESP boxes) and ECU systems and a massive great PC in the back to hold hi-res maps and crunch the incoming data via bespoke algorithms.

    In total, 1400 human-hours, 1300 metres of cable and an estimated €200,000 went into the car.

    The result looks almost like a normal Model S - no pirhouetting Velodyne ‘Christmas tree’ on the roof here, just a few dark panels, a flying saucer GNSS antenna on the back and some industrial-looking buttons - and it’s so effective that it’s almost prosaic.

    At the winding Boxberg test track, a Ford Fiesta drove around in front of us to show how smart the Tesla now is. Stopping quickly, driving at snail’s pace, accelerating into the distance: the Tesla reacted to the lot in a considered, sedate, measured manner. (Bosch tells us it can also swap lanes, overtake and merge with traffic on its own, but we didn’t get to check that out.)

    [Stuff]

    Sunday, May 24, 2015

    Wireless in-wheel motor system developed for electric vehicles

    Japanese researchers have successfully developed the world’s first in-wheel motor system for electric vehicles that transmits power wirelessly to run motors incorporated in each wheel.

    Hiroshi Fujimoto, an associate professor at the University of Tokyo specializing in electric vehicle control, and other researchers ran a vehicle equipped with the new system that transmits electricity wirelessly from an onboard power source to a coil attached to the wheel hubs.

    “This technology will pave the way for the development of advanced electric vehicles, including those that receive electricity wirelessly from transmitting coils that are embedded under road surfaces,” Fujimoto said. “It can be also applied to fuel-cell vehicles and industrial machinery.”

    The in-wheel motor, also known as wheel hub motor, is an electric motor that is incorporated into the hub of a vehicle's wheels to directly drive each wheel.

    Compared with conventional electric vehicles, the in-wheel motor model does not require a drive shaft, a component that takes power from a single source and mechanically transfers it to all the wheels to drive them. Thus, a car using the system could be built lighter and require less energy.

    Acceleration and braking for each wheel can also be controlled, which would help prevent mishaps such as skids.

    Current cars using in-wheel motors need wires to transmit electricity. The complex wiring distribution and its susceptibility to shorting out have remained a hurdle in developing such a vehicle for practical use.

    The research team’s wireless system transmits the electricity stored in the vehicle’s batteries through a transmitting coil to a receiving coil in the wheel hub, a distance of 10 centimeters.

    The researchers successfully ran a motor using a maximum of 3 kilowatts of electricity and sent control information to each wheel using standardized Bluetooth wireless technology.

    The rear-wheel-drive prototype car can, in theory, run at maximum 75 kph, the researchers said.

    Friday, May 22, 2015

    Nissan Leaf Taxi passes 160,000 km and still on 1st set of brake pads!

    A Nissan LEAF taxi in Cornwall has clocked up its 100,000th mile (160,000 km) since entering service with C&C Taxis in 2013.

    ‘Wizzy’ as it was named by operators at St Austell-based C&C Taxis, hit the milestone in the course of more than 25,000 pure electric paying fares and having been rapid charged over 1,700 times yet retains near full battery health and is still on its first set of brake pads.

    Inspired by Wizzy’s performance, C&C Taxis now operates five further 100% electric Nissan LEAFs and an all-electric Nissan e-NV200 Combi.

    Mark Richards, fleet manager at C&C Taxis, estimates that each vehicle saves the business around £8,500 per year in fuel bills and maintenance costs.

    "When we speak to other taxi operators they often tell us range and battery life are the biggest factors preventing them from considering an electric taxi," he said. "Then, when we tell them Wizzy’s done 100,000 miles and still has full battery health, they’re left speechless.”

    “It’s no exaggeration to say Wizzy has transformed our business. We took a gamble when we bought her but she’ll have paid for herself in just 24 months and the savings we’re now making across the fleet are phenomenal,” he added.

    Korean Firm to Launch EV sports car with 570 km range in 2016

    Power Plaza Co Ltd, a South Korea-based firm, showed an electric vehicle (EV) concept that can travel 571km (approx 354.8 miles) at a speed of 60km/h (approx 37.3 mph) per charge.

    The EV, "Yebbujana R," was exhibited at the 28th International Electric Vehicle Symposium and Exhibition (EVS 28), an international symposium/trade show on EVs, which took place from May 3 to 6, 2015. The company plans to release the EV at the end of 2016 in South Korea at a price of US$40,000.

    The EV uses cylindrical lithium-ion battery cells called "18650." The total capacity of the cells is 54kWh. A carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) was applied to the body of the EV to reduce weight, realizing a drive range longer than 500km. The mass of the body is 745kg. According to Power Plaza, the auto body consists of an underpiece, hood, doors, rear, etc, and all of them are made of CFRP.

    As a driving motor, an 80kW motor manufactured by Robert Bosch GmbH was employed. The maximum speed of the EV is 198km/h, and it takes 4.6 seconds to reach a speed of 100km/h from zero.

    Established in 1991, Power Plaza has been dealing with switching power modules and developing EVs under its own brand. Thus far, it has developed six kinds of EVs (1t and 0.5t pickup trucks and four passenger cars) and launched them into the market. So, the Yebbujana R is the company's seventh EV.

    Wednesday, May 20, 2015

    Bosch choose Tesla Model S for autonomous drive testing [VIDEO]

    As we reported a month ago, Bosch has confirmed they are working with Tesla to develop automated driving systems for production vehicles.

    Spotting a test vehicle, equipped as they are with measurement devices, sensors, and instruments, is usually pretty easy. But that’s not the case for the new Model S Teslas that recently joined the Bosch fleet. Both these test vehicles are helping engineers further refine automated driving. But at first glance, it’s hard to tell them apart from production models. “Bosch is developing automated driving for production vehicles of all kinds,” says Dr. Dirk Hoheisel, member of the Bosch board of management. The new test vehicles are evidence of the progress Bosch has already made in integrating the necessary systems and components. Those attending the 62nd International Automotive Press Briefing can see this for themselves in Boxberg, Germany, from May 19 to 21, 2015

    Fit for highly automated driving after 1,400 hours of work

    To make the test vehicles ready for automated driving, they first had to be retrofitted. Fifty new Bosch components were installed in each car. They included a stereo video camera (SVC), which the car uses to recognize lanes, traffic signs, and clear spaces. The Bosch SVC is the smallest stereo camera system for automotive applications currently available in the market. Its compact design makes it easy to integrate into vehicles. In addition to the camera, 1,300 meters of cable were laid in each car and fixed in place with 400 cable ties. “After some 1,400 hours of work on each of them, the test vehicles are ready for highly automated driving,” Hoheisel says. Thanks to Bosch technology, the two Teslas can now autonomously drive from on-ramp to off-ramp without the driver needing to constantly monitor them.

    This transfer of responsibility from the driver to the vehicle explains why so much time and effort is necessary for the retrofit. Highly automated vehicles must be capable of operating safely even if a component fails. The only way to achieve such operational reliability is by a design strategy that includes redundancy in safety-critical systems such as braking and steering. For example, both test vehicles feature both the iBooster electromechanical brake booster and the ESP braking control system. These Bosch components can brake the car independently of each other, without any need for driver intervention. “For Bosch, the principle here is safety first,” Hoheisel says. Back-up systems are also available for the two test vehicles’ power supply and vital ECUs.

    Several thousand test kilometers driven without a hitch

    Since 2011, Bosch has had two teams – on two continents – working on automated driving. At the Abstatt location in Germany, Bosch engineers are working on system integration. Their colleagues at Palo Alto in California’s Silicon Valley are driving forward work on function development. The two teams receive support from roughly 2,000 driver-assistance engineers who work for Bosch around the world. To make it as easy as possible for the two teams to share their results, Bosch uses identical test vehicles. Hoheisel explains why Bosch opted for two all-electric Model S vehicles made by the U.S. automaker Tesla: “They combine two automotive industry trends: electrification and automation.” This presents a particular challenge, he says, but one that Bosch relishes.

    Bosch started testing automated driving on public roads at the beginning of 2013. So far, it has been using test vehicles based on the BMW 325d Touring. Engineers have successfully driven them for several thousand kilometers on freeways – both the A81 near Stuttgart and the I280 in California. Before the first test drives, the German certification authority TÜV Süd reviewed the safety concept that Bosch had prepared specially for the purpose. And even though the technology on board the vehicles is designed to handle any situation in freeway traffic, the drivers at the wheel have been specially trained. Bosch’s test drivers not only know the safety precautions inside out, but have also completed a multi-day training course.