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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.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Honda's all-electric NSX 4-Motor EV is more advanced than any Tesla

Honda's head of research and development, Sekino Yosuke, has revealed the next-generation Honda NSX could be based on the firm’s 1,000 hp Pikes Peak race car, the NSX-inspired 4-Motor Acura EV Concept.

The 4-Motor Acura EV finished third overall at the Pikes Peak hill climb in 2016. That was thanks to its all-electric all-wheel-drive powertrain, comprising four electric motors that developed around 740 kW and 800 Nm of torque with a 70 kwh lithium-ion battery pack and a kerb weight of only 1,500 kg. Honda claims the electric NSX is capable of 0-100 km/h in 2.5 seconds and 0-200 km/h in 6.2 seconds.

With the current all wheel drive hybrid NSX having only been on sale since last year, an all-new NSX is unlikely to be launched before 2023, when battery technology is expected to have progressed significantly.

Honda first demonstrated a 4-Motor EV CR-Z prototype in 2015 with journalists who test drove the vehicle suggesting torque vectoring gave it cornering ability in a whole other league to a Model S.

While there's no denying Tesla, especially with ludicrous mode, have re-calibrated the auto-industry's definition of 'quick', it's probably less well known that Tesla's powertrain is actually based on 1990s technology with the 3 phase AC induction motor and controller designs originally licensed from EV1 drive system engineer Alan Cocconi.

Unlike current high performance all-wheel drive electric vehicles, like Tesla's Model S P100D, which use 2x electric motors and conventional mechanical differentials, Honda's electric NSX features four electric motors — one for each wheel.

With a dedicated motor at each corner, the Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system can precisely apply either positive or negative torque individually to each wheel. This opens the door to torque vectoring and full-time active yaw control - something that will make consumer EVs safer and more energy efficient.

How does this work? Imagine electronic stability control that, instead of applying friction brakes (wasted energy), applies negative torque (regenerative braking) to individual wheels. Unlike friction-brake based ESC, the NSX 4-Motor system can also apply positive torque to individual wheels. Not only that but positive and negative torque can be applied simultaneously across the vehicle adjusting pitch, roll, and yaw to accurately position the vehicle along any vector. Combining that range of precise control with a multi gyro inertial measurement platform unlocks an entirely new level of safety and high performance active dynamic control.

While it might be another 5-6 years before Honda's 4-Motor Super Handling All-Wheel Drive makes it into production, the team at Evans Electric are developing an AWD torque vectoring system based on compact Axial flux induction motors.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

New national body to drive uptake of electric vehicles in Australia

A new national body that aims to drive the uptake of electric vehicles in Australia was officially launched in Canberra today.

The Electric Vehicle Council is an industry-led organisation representing and coordinating the broader electric vehicle industry in Australia. Representing companies involved in providing, powering and supporting electric vehicles, its members sell over 350,000 new vehicles per year in Australia, and have over 6 million Australian customers.

The Minister for Energy and Environment, Josh Frydenberg, who attended the launch, announced a $390,000 grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to support the uptake of electric vehicles in Australia.

The Electric Vehicle Council’s Chair, Behyad Jafari, said the market for electric vehicles includes significant opportunities to deliver economic investment, innovation and environmental sustainability. “While the global industry grows exponentially each year, Australia continues to miss out. In the next twelve months, almost one million electric vehicles are projected to be sold, with more than $50bn invested in the industry over the last 10 years,” he said.

“Addressing the barriers preventing the mass uptake of electric vehicles in Australia requires a consistent and collaborative effort across a range of sectors.

“In addition to introducing vehicle emission standards, key policy measures include incentivising electric vehicle purchase in the short term as the technology works to meet price parity through upfront incentives and taxation measures, as well as establishing a recommended roadmap for national public charging infrastructure.

“We welcome others from across industry, consumer groups and government to join the Electric Vehicle Council as we work to build and provide certainty for investment in the Australian electric vehicle industry.”

ClimateWorks Australia Head of Implementation, Scott Ferraro said the funding from ARENA would support a broader effort to educate and engage Australians about electric vehicles. “Globally, the number of electric vehicles sold annually is growing rapidly. However in 2014, electric vehicle sales accounted for just 0.1 per cent of new cars sold in Australia,” he said. ‘This funding will enable us to work with the Electric Vehicle Council to provide more information about electric vehicles to Australian consumers and undertake research on the best policies to drive greater uptake of electric vehicles, particularly at the early stages in order to increase model choice and infrastructure.

“The council will also publish a state of electric vehicles report annually so we can monitor progress on the transition of the Australian fleet.”

Mr Ferraro said electric vehicles provide a significant range of environment, economic and social benefits.

“When powered by renewable energy, electric vehicles are zero emission vehicles. This will help us meet our emission reduction targets faster and at lower cost, and can reduce impacts from air pollution in our cities,” he said.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Renault & Qualcomm demonstrate dynamic wireless electric vehicle charging [VIDEO]

Renault today demonstrated dynamic wireless electric vehicle charging (DEVC), which allows vehicles to charge while driving. Renault has participated with Qualcomm Technologies and Vedecom in designing a DEVC system capable of charging an electric vehicle dynamically with a charge of up to 20 kilowatts at speeds up to, and in excess of, 100 kilometers per hour. The DEVC system has been designed to support real-world implementation of dynamic charging. The two Renault Kangoo Z.E. vehicles can pick up charge in both directions along the track.

The dynamic charging demonstrations took place at the 100-meter test track, built by Vedecom at Satory, Versailles, near Paris, within the FABRIC project. Qualcomm Technologies and Vedecom installed the primary part of the DEVC system in the test track, whilst Vedecom and Renault installed the secondary part onto two Renault Kangoos Z.E.. The DEVC system will shortly be handed over to Vedecom to perform tests for FABRIC. The tests will evaluate the operation and efficiency of energy transfer to the vehicles for a wide range of practical scenarios including vehicle identification and authorization on entering track, power level agreement between track and vehicle, speed and alignment of vehicle along track.

FABRIC is a €9 million project, mostly funded by the European Commission, addressing the technological feasibility, economic viability, and socio-environmental sustainability of wireless DEVC. The project began in January 2014 and will continue through December 2017, and is being undertaken by a consortium of 25 organizations from nine European countries, including automotive manufacturers, suppliers, service providers and research organizations from automotive, road and energy infrastructure domains. VEDECOM is one of the FABRIC collaborators and responsible for providing the demonstration of the charging solution at Satory using the Qualcomm Halo DEVC system. FABRIC’s main goal is to conduct feasibility analysis of wireless DEVC as a means of EV range extension.

“Our engineers and management have fully supported this project since the very beginning as it aligns perfectly with our focus on EVs, charging systems and mobility services,” says Luc Marbach, chief executive officer, VEDECOM. “We are a public-private partnership focused on pre-competitive research. The installation of one of the world’s first DEVC test platforms has provided us with a unique test facility and we look forward to expanding our expertise with the future testing.”

“Being part of this exciting project has enabled us to test and further research dynamic charging on our Kangoo Z.E. vehicles,” said Eric Feunteun, electric vehicle program director, Groupe Renault. “Our engineers have worked very closely with the Qualcomm Technologies and VEDECOM teams to complete the DEVC system integration demonstration as part of FABRIC. We see dynamic charging as a great vision to further enhance the ease of use of EVs, thus the accessibility of EVs for all.”

“We are inventors. We are WEVC. This dynamic charging demonstration is the embodiment of this,” said Steve Pazol, vice president and general manager, wireless charging, Qualcomm Incorporated. “I am immensely proud of what we have achieved. The combination of a global team of expert engineers and Qualcomm Halo technology, which covers all aspects of WEVC systems, irrespective of the magnetics used, has enabled us to really push the boundaries of the possible and outline our vision for future urban mobility.”

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

MotoGP set for all-electric class in 2019

The world’s most popular motorcycle racing series is adding an all-electric class. Dorna CEO, Carmelo Ezpeleta, told Motorsport.com that an electric support series featuring up to 18 bikes could start competing as early as 2019.

Plans are under way to have an electric series on the support bill for as many as five MotoGP races in 2019, with four manufacturers having offered to supply the grid of 18 bikes.

The bikes are expected to reach speeds of around 200 km/h (124mph), making them slightly slower than the existing Moto3 bikes, while races are planned to last around 10 laps each.

Electric motorcycles have been around long enough that the MotoGP class won’t be the first time they’ve seen serious competition. What started in 2010 as a zero-emissions class at the yearly Isle of Man TT motorcycle race is now dominated by electric bikes, and they’re quickly catching up to their gas-powered counterparts.

Meanwhile in Australia the local superbike championship has run an eFXC electric Formula Xtreme class since 2011.

While Formula E relies on carbon-neutral glycerine generators to recharge its cars between sessions, Ezpeleta wants the new MotoGP support series to use solar panels.

“We want the batteries to be recharged from solar panels, not from generators like in other championships,” added Ezpeleta. “This way, we can leave something profitable for the circuits where the series races.”

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Lamborghini open to considering all-electric supercar: CEO

Lamborghini is open to an all-electric addition to its line-up of luxury sports cars, its chief executive said on Wednesday, evidence that German parent Volkswagen's interest in producing zero-emission vehicles could extend to the very top end of its brands.

The 54-year-old Italian car firm is already deviating from its tradition of producing high-powered, low-slung sportscars with its new sport utility vehicle, called Urus, itself a variation in its bovine branding.

The SUV will be launched at the company's headquarters in Sant'Agata Bolognese, Italy, towards the end of this year, with deliveries starting in the second half of 2018.

"Electrification is an area of great attention for us, but I'm not expecting it will happen in the short term," CEO Stefano Domenicali told Reuters at the Geneva car show, ruling out a purely battery-powered Lamborghini before 2025.

"We need to be realistic," he said, pointing to the need to preserve the characteristics of a supercar in terms of handling, weight and performance even in an electric model, while at the same time considering its cost and the required investments.

Lamborghini, one of VW's stable of superluxury brands along with Bentley and Bugatti, already plans to bring a plug-in hybrid version of the Urus SUV by 2020.

Separately, the CEO held out the prospect of another record year for Lamborghini in 2017, powered by undiminished demand for super-luxury cars in the United States, China and Europe.

The company was showing its new Huracan Performante in Geneva ahead of first deliveries in June, with the level of pre-orders already looking good, said Domenicali, the former head of Ferrari's Formula One racing team.

The Huracán's Active Electronic Stability Control, believed to be the most advanced in the auto industry, keeps the car remarkably stable through every twist and turn and no doubt contributed significantly to the much debated recent Nurburgring lap record.

The aeronautics style triple gyroscope, triple accelerometer inertial platform is the brain controlling the dynamic steering unit which adjusts the steering ratio, the magnetic ride control operating the suspension system, power flow through a Haldex gen V hydraulic centre differential four-wheel drive and brake torque vectoring systems.

Adapting Lamborghini's inertial platform to an AWD electric powertrain would unlock an entirely new level of high performance active dynamic control.

"Since the financial crisis, the market for super sports cars has seen a constant recovery," he said.

"For the medium term, I don´t see a change in that substantially positive trend, especially since economic regions like the U.S. and China are showing unchanged growth."

Domenicali said he expected sales this year to increase by a single-digit percentage rate from last year's record 3,457 deliveries.

Future shipments for sportscars would be capped at around 3,500 a year but could go slightly higher as the market expands to a maximum of 3,800, to safeguard the brand's exclusivity, he added, although the Urus SUV could double overall production volumes.

"We will be prudent. Of course we will grow sustainably, but being in the luxury market we must not take every growth potential that is there," he said.

Depending on demand the Urus could add at least another 3,500 vehicles to Lamborghini's total output, he added.