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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Toyota confirms turbo engine for 2016 LeMans

Toyota has confirmed that it will switch to turbocharged power for the 2016 World Endurance Championship season.

Toyota's technical director Pascal Vasselon confirmed the decision, stating: "I don't think we will retain the normally aspirated V8 configuration. It will be a turbo engine. It's a little too early to release any specific information."

The engine is highly likely to be a small-capacity turbo engine and will target the 8MJ category, something which has reaped dividends for Porsche so far in 2015.

The new technical package will also introduce battery storage, which will work with the same twin-axle retrieval system the team currently uses.

The 2016 car will be known as the Toyota TS 050 and is scheduled to test just after Christmas.

2015 development halted

Toyota is set to undergo a painful remainder of the 2015 season as it essentially calls time on significant development of the TS 040.

"Clearly, it wouldn't be very efficient for us to invest in developing this year's car," said Vasselon. "We could tweak a few things on it, but we do not think that these would make a significant difference. So, yes, we are fully focused on next year's car.

"The gap will vary, obviously, depending on the characteristics of the circuits. However, we expect a difficult end to the season, a bit like Audi experienced last year".

Third Toyota at Le Mans still possible

Toyota could run a third car at Le Mans in 2016, but it would only happen if it would not impinge on the initial development of the TS 050 program.

The decision would also depend on budget resources, which are set to be increased for 2016 onwards.

"We couldn't enter a third car previously, but now the question will arise," said Vasselon. "Now, I cannot give you that answer because we do not yet know the full budget we'll have.

"We know it will be increased, but we know that it will never be at the same level as Audi and Porsche, that's a sure thing. However, it will be increased.

"We will need to re-assess whether running a third car is acceptable without threatening our development programme."

Friday, August 28, 2015

Tesla Model S P85D Broke Consumer Reports' Rating System [VIDEO]

Consumer Reports put the performance version of Tesla's all-electric Model S through its testing and found that it's fast and super-efficient, proving that car companies don't have to sacrifice to achieve superior fuel economy.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Bosch buys solid state battery start-up Seeo

German industrial conglomerate Bosch is acquiring Silicon Valley battery firm Seeo, including all of its intellectual property and research staff. With the move, Bosch is looking to enhance its offer to the electric car industry, which is witnessing a significant growth.

Founded in 2007, Seeo is known for its advancements in creating high-energy rechargeable lithium-ion batteries based on a nano-structured polymer electrolyte. Seeo uses solid state technology that avoids the use of flammable liquid electrolyte.

Using solid electrolyte, Seeo manufactures DryLyte batteries that deliver high energy density alongside impressive reliability and safety. Seeo has an exclusive license to core patents from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and has more than 30 issued, exclusively licensed and pending patent applications.

News website Quartz reported that Bosch confirmed the acquisition. A Bosch spokeswoman told the website that the financial terms of the deal will not be released.

In December, Seeo made news as its CEO Hal Zarem announced plans to manufacture a battery with an energy density that is about double that of existing commercial lithium-ion batteries. The new battery would have a density of 300 watt hours per kg.

Bosch, which is already supplying a lot of components to the automobile industry, has long been looking to enter the advanced battery market. The acquisition may prove successful, as Seeo and its innovations are said to be of great potential.

Meanwhile, Seeo faces intense competition from start-ups such as Sakti3, QuantumScape, XG Sciences, Envia Systems and SolidEnergy Systems that are working on new types of electric car batteries. Panasonic is currently the leading player in the electric car battery market with a 39% market share, followed by LG Chem and Samsung SDI, according to research firm Lux Research.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Volkswagen e-Golf vs. BMW i3 REx [VIDEO]

Polish blogger Marek Wieruszewski reviews the Volkswagen e-Golf and the BMW i3 REx.

The Volkswagen e-Golf has a claimed range of up to 200 kilometres while the BMW i3 can squeeze up to around 160 kilometers, but it can be equipped with a petrol range-extender, which doubles its range.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Consumer Reports Tesla P85D Test Results [VIDEO]

Consumer Reports put the electric Model S P85D through the same tests other cars undergo at its track as part of its overall assessment of Tesla's performance sedan.

Watch the above video to see how it fared in three key tests, along with its fuel efficiency figure.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Audi e-tron quattro concept will be unveiled at IAA 2015 next month

The conceptual basis for a completely new all-electric Audi SUV with a potential range of more than 310 miles will be one of the stars of the IAA in Frankfurt next month. The Audi e-tron quattro concept profits from the expertise gained in the development of the forthcoming R8 e-tron, and the roadgoing model which it will help to spawn will be notable as the brand’s first large-series electric car when it enters production in 2018.

The Audi e-tron quattro concept is designed from the ground up as an electric car and proves to be pioneering in its segment at the very first glance. It follows the Audi “Aerosthetics” concept, combining technical measures for reducing aerodynamic drag with creative design solutions. Movable aerodynamic elements at the front, on the sides and at the rear improve the air flow around the car. The aerodynamically optimised underbody is completely closed. With a cd value of 0.25, the car sets a new record in the SUV segment. This contributes considerably to the long range of more than 500 kilometres (310 miles).

The study is based on the second-generation modular longitudinal platform, which provides considerable scope for the drive system and package. Its length is between that of the Audi Q5 and the Q7. Its typical SUV body and flat, coupé-like cabin give the Audi e-tron quattro concept a very dynamic appearance. The spacious interior offers room for four people.

The large lithium-ion battery is positioned between the axles and below the passenger compartment. This installation position provides for a low centre of gravity and a balanced axle load distribution, giving the car better driving dynamics and driving safety than other vehicles in the segment.

Audi uses its experience with the electrically driven Audi R8 e-tron sports car for the drive system. Three electric motors – one on the front axle and two on the rear – effectively create an ‘electrified quattro’, making the e-tron quattro concept both highly efficient and responsive.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Going solid-state could make batteries safer and longer-lasting

New research paves the way for rechargeable batteries with almost indefinite lifetimes, researchers say.

If you pry open one of today’s ubiquitous high-tech devices — whether a cellphone, a laptop, or an electric car — you’ll find that batteries take up most of the space inside. Indeed, the recent evolution of batteries has made it possible to pack ample power in small places.

But people still always want their devices to last even longer, or go further on a charge, so researchers work night and day to boost the power a given size battery can hold. Rare, but widely publicized, incidents of overheating or combustion in lithium-ion batteries have also highlighted the importance of safety in battery technology.

Now researchers at MIT and Samsung, and in California and Maryland, have developed a new approach to one of the three basic components of batteries, the electrolyte. The new findings are based on the idea that a solid electrolyte, rather than the liquid used in today’s most common rechargeables, could greatly improve both device lifetime and safety — while providing a significant boost in the amount of power stored in a given space.

The results are reported in the journal Nature Materials in a paper by MIT postdoc Yan Wang, visiting professor of materials science and engineering Gerbrand Ceder, and five others. They describe a new approach to the development of solid-state electrolytes that could simultaneously address the greatest challenges associated with improving lithium-ion batteries, the technology now used in everything from cellphones to electric cars.

The electrolyte in such batteries — typically a liquid organic solvent whose function is to transport charged particles from one of a battery’s two electrodes to the other during charging and discharging — has been responsible for the overheating and fires that, for example, resulted in a temporary grounding of all of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner jets, Ceder explains. Others have attempted to find a solid replacement for the liquid electrolyte, but this group is the first to show that this can be done in a formulation that fully meets the needs of battery applications.

Solid-state electrolytes could be “a real game-changer,” Ceder says, creating “almost a perfect battery, solving most of the remaining issues” in battery lifetime, safety, and cost.

Costs have already been coming down steadily, he says. But as for safety, replacing the electrolyte would be the key, Ceder adds: “All of the fires you’ve seen, with Boeing, Tesla, and others, they are all electrolyte fires. The lithium itself is not flammable in the state it’s in in these batteries. [With a solid electrolyte] there’s no safety problem — you could throw it against the wall, drive a nail through it — there’s nothing there to burn.”

The proposed solid electrolyte also holds other advantages, he says: “With a solid-state electrolyte, there’s virtually no degradation reactions left” — meaning such batteries could last through “hundreds of thousands of cycles.”

The key to making this feasible, Ceder says, was finding solid materials that could conduct ions fast enough to be useful in a battery. “There was a view that solids cannot conduct fast enough,” he says. “That paradigm has been overthrown.”

The research team was able to analyze the factors that make for efficient ion conduction in solids, and home in on compounds that showed the right characteristics. The initial findings focused on a class of materials known as superionic lithium-ion conductors, which are compounds of lithium, germanium, phosphorus, and sulfur, but the principles derived from this research could lead to even more effective materials, the team says.

The research that led to a workable solid-state electrolyte was part of an ongoing partnership with the Korean electronics company Samsung, through the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Ceder says. That alliance also has led to important advances in the use of quantum-dot materials to create highly efficient solar cells and sodium batteries, he adds.

This solid-state electrolyte has other, unexpected side benefits: While conventional lithium-ion batteries do not perform well in extreme cold, and need to be preheated at temperatures below roughly minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit, the solid-electrolyte versions can still function at those frigid temperatures, Ceder says.

The solid-state electrolyte also allows for greater power density — the amount of power that can be stored in a given amount of space. Such batteries provide a 20 to 30 percent improvement in power density — with a corresponding increase in how long a battery of a given size could power a phone, a computer, or an electric car.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

LG & Samsung to develop 500km+ battery for Audi Q6 e-tron

German carmaker Audi said it will develop batteries for electrically powered Q6 e-tron sport utility vehicles (SUVs) that can run more than 500 kilometers per charge, in partnerships with South Korea's LG Chem Ltd and Samsung SDI Co Ltd.

The South Korean companies will supply the batteries from plants in Europe, Audi said in a statement on Thursday.

Audi, Samsung SDI and LG Chem declined to give financial terms of the respective partnerships.

LG Chem recently entered into a patent license agreement with 3M to expand the use of nickel, cobalt, manganese (NCM) in lithium ion batteries. In May LG Chem also announced its intention to be a supplier of larger batteries between 80 and 120 kWh to car manufacturers targeting a range of 300-500 km.

LG Chem's automotive customers include General Motors, Renault SA, and Daimler AG, while Samsung SDI supplies electric vehicle batteries to BMW and Volkswagen

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

UK To Test Dynamic Wireless Charging For Electric Cars

Electric cars promise a greener future. But current battery technology limits how far you can go on a single charge. One possible workaround: “electric motorways”—roads that will charge your electric vehicle as you drive on it.

The UK government has already spent £200,000 ($300,000) investigating the feasibility of the idea, and is now setting up an 18-month off-road trial. If successful, it hopes to spend some of the £500 million budgeted for promoting the use of low-emission vehicles in the UK on creating these electric motorways.

Wireless charging technology already has been proven to work, both in phones and buses. South Korea has a 12-kilometer road that charge buses as they drive. The wireless technology that vehicles use is called SMFIR—it stands for shaped magnetic field in resonance—which involves the transfer of electric charge via magnetic fields that are generated and captured by coils installed in the road and car respectively.

The trials are the first of their kind and will test how the technology would work safely and effectively on the country’s motorways and major A roads, allowing drivers of ultra-low emission vehicles to travel long distances without needing to stop and charge the car’s battery.

The trials follow the completion of the feasibility study commissioned by Highways England into ‘dynamic wireless power transfer’ technologies.

Transport Minister Andrew Jones said:

The potential to recharge low emission vehicles on the move offers exciting possibilities. The government is already committing £500 million over the next five years to keep Britain at the forefront of this technology, which will help boost jobs and growth in the sector. As this study shows, we continue to explore options on how to improve journeys and make low-emission vehicles accessible to families and businesses.

Highways England Chief Highways Engineer Mike Wilson said:

Vehicle technologies are advancing at an ever increasing pace and we’re committed to supporting the growth of ultra-low emissions vehicles on our England’s motorways and major A roads.

The off road trials of wireless power technology will help to create a more sustainable road network for England and open up new opportunities for businesses that transport goods across the country.

The trials are expected to begin later this year following the completion of an ongoing procurement process. The trials will involve fitting vehicles with wireless technology and testing the equipment, installed underneath the road, to replicate motorway conditions. Full details of the trials will be publicised when a successful contractor has been appointed.

The trials are expected to last for approximately 18 months and, subject to the results, could be followed by on road trials.

As well as investigating the potential to install technology to wirelessly power ultra-low efficient vehicles, Highways England is also committed in the longer-term to installing plug-in charging points every 20 miles on the motorway network as part of the government’s Road Investment Strategy.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

ZF Powers First Australian All-Electric Bus [VIDEO]

ZF is at the core of a next generation of public transport, with the global drive line technology specialists providing local company Bustech with electric drive axles for Australia's first all-electric city bus.

Long-time partners in diesel powered bus projects, ZF has previously supplied Bustech with products such as transmissions, axles, steering and suspension systems, with the new project paving the way for zero-emissions operation along busy urban roads.

The bus features an AVE130 electric drive axle, which dimensionally fits into the same envelope as a conventional drop centre axle, making the system simple to integrate into existing designs.

In Bustech’s configuration, the AVE130 utilises pure battery power, although the system can be used in serial as a hybrid with a conventional combustion engine, or via alternate power sources such as fuel cells or overhead lines.

With no requirement for a traditional transmission, the electric axle provides smooth acceleration in all driving conditions.

“It’s exciting times for ZF Services in Australia, particularly with Bustech, and the bus industry in general,” said Gary Bain, ZF Services Australia OE Business Manager. “Working closely with Bustech and their design and development partners such as the CSIRO and Swinbourne University, we have the finished vehicle today, the all-electric bus ready for the market place.

“Bustech is a rather unique company; not only do they produce chassis and bodies for buses, but they undertake some of the best market research in the bus industry. “With over 800 vehicle in service under the Transit Australia banner, they have incredible insight into the requirements of public transport passengers.”

Designed for axle loads of up to 13 tonnes, each wheel is fitted with a high-revving (11,000rpm) asynchronous electric motor, which provides maximum drive power of 240kW, while continuous power of 120kW is available per axle. Like many electric engines, the motors have strong torque characteristics, with output peaking at 21,000Nm per axle.

This makes the system ideal for stop-start city traffic, which also takes advantage of the systems power regenerative braking, which tops up batteries while in operation. Because there is no requirement to provide space for a diesel engine, Bustech has been able to employ an interesting new cabin design.

The AVE130 axle uses widely available existing components such as standard wheels and tyres, brake callipers, ventilated brakes discs, as well as wheel bearings and seals, making the units extremely service-friendly. In operation, the axle paves the way for improved torque distribution which in turn reduces tyre wear.

The system also includes sensors for temperature, ABS, and speed.

Operational targets between recharges for Australia are 300km, and 200km in Malaysia, with trials set to commence in September.

Outside of the electric axle, the new design also utilises a conventional RL85A low-floor front axle, and many modern innovations, such as touch screens, LED lighting, as well as all-electric doors and air conditioning.

An example of the forward thinking of the design, the bus utilises rear vision cameras, which provide a wider field of vision, while also streamlining the bus exterior, saving drivers from having to make mirror adjustments.

Previous collaborations between Bustech and ZF Services Australia have included projects such as the Bustech CDI, the world's first low-floor twin steer double decker bus.

The project was developed in part due to Australia’s front axle load regulations, which limit design flexibility, especially for a city bus with a passenger capacity of around 90.

While the steering setup is common in trucks, ZF Services worked closely with Bustech to develop the system to allow for easy access throughout the cabin for passengers, while the 12.5 metre package has considerable operational cost savings over conventional articulated buses.