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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Airbus, Rolls-Royce, and Siemens team up for electric aircraft

Airbus, Rolls-Royce, and Siemens have formed a partnership which aims at developing a near-term flight demonstrator which will be a significant step forward in hybrid-electric propulsion for commercial aircraft.

The three companies together announced the groundbreaking collaboration, bringing together some of the world’s foremost experts in electrical and propulsion technologies, at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London.

The E-Fan X hybrid-electric technology demonstrator is anticipated to fly in 2020 following a comprehensive ground test campaign, provisionally on a BAe 146 flying testbed, with one of the aircraft’s four gas turbine engines replaced by a two megawatt electric motor. Provisions will be made to replace a second gas turbine with an electric motor once system maturity has been proven.

“The E-Fan X is an important next step in our goal of making electric flight a reality in the foreseeable future. The lessons we learned from a long history of electric flight demonstrators, starting with the Cri-Cri, including the e-Genius, E-Star, and culminating most recently with the E-Fan 1.2, as well as the fruits of the E-Aircraft Systems House collaboration with Siemens, will pave the way to a hybrid single-aisle commercial aircraft that is safe, efficient, and cost-effective,” said Paul Eremenko. “We see hybrid-electric propulsion as a compelling technology for the future of aviation.”

The E-Fan X demonstrator will explore the challenges of high-power propulsion systems, such as thermal effects, electric thrust management, altitude and dynamic effects on electric systems and electromagnetic compatibility issues. The objective is to push and mature the technology, performance, safety and reliability enabling quick progress on the hybrid electric technology. The programme also aims at establishing the requirements for future certification of electrically powered aircraft while training a new generation of designers and engineers to bring hybrid-electric commercial aircraft one step closer to reality.

Paul Stein, Rolls-Royce, Chief Technology Officer, said: “The E-Fan X enables us to build on our wealth of electrical expertise to revolutionise flight and welcome in the third generation of aviation. This is an exciting time for us as this technological advancement will result in Rolls-Royce creating the world’s most powerful flying generator.

“Siemens has been driving innovation in core technology fields at full speed,” said Roland Busch, Chief Technology Officer of Siemens. “In April 2016 we opened a new chapter in electric-mobility with the collaboration with Airbus. Building up electric propulsion for aircraft, we are creating new perspectives for our company and also for our customers and society. With the E-Fan X partnership, we now take the next step to demonstrate the technology in the air.”

Among the top challenges for today’s aviation sector is to move towards a means of transport with improved environmental performance, that is more efficient and less reliant on fossil fuels. The partners are committed to meeting the EU technical environmental goals of the European Commission’s Flightpath 2050 Vision for Aviation (reduction of CO2 by 60%, reduction of NOx by 90% and noise reduction by 75%). These cannot be achieved with the technologies existing today. Therefore, Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Siemens are investing in and focusing research work in different technology areas including electrification. Electric and hybrid-electric propulsion are seen today as among the most promising technologies for addressing these challenges.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Renault Samsung unveil new SM3 Z.E with 36 kWh battery

Renault Samsung Motors have unveiled the new SM3 Z.E. at the Daegu International Future Auto Expo in South Korea. Determined to upgrade its electric vehicle range to meet customer demand, and buoyed by the EV expertise it has gained over the past eight years, Groupe Renault is continuing to renew its line-up, the latest example being the new version of the SM3 Z.E. which first appeared in 2013.

The autonomy of the Renault Samsung Motors SM3 Z.E. – the market’s only three-box saloon – has been increased by 57 percent to 213 kilometres based on the Korean type approval cycle.

Battery power has been upped to 36kWh with no increase in weight and, with the average daily trip in South Korea standing at 40 kilometres in 2016 according to a Korean Transportation Safety Authority (KOTSA) report, the new SM3 Z.E. is capable of running for approximately five days on a single charge.

This increase in autonomy and the model’s spacious cabin will permit the SM3 Z.E. to address the strong demand expressed not only by retail customers, but also by state-run fleets and taxi operators. Indeed, 1,200 cars were purchased by South Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare last April, while the model is also popular as an EV taxi in Seoul, Daegu and Jeju Island.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Honda to halve electric cars' charging time to 15 minutes

Honda Motor plans to release in 2022 a selection of fully electric cars that can run 240km on a single 15-minute charge. Most electric vehicles now available take at least twice that long to reach an 80% charge even using a high-speed charger.

Key to this plan is developing a new type of high-capacity battery that can handle the ultra-quick charging. The carmaker sources batteries for its electric-gas hybrid vehicles from Panasonic and others, but plans to create the new batteries in collaboration with a partner to be chosen later. A lighter vehicle body and more efficient power control system will ensure the new cars can go farther on a single charge.

Before then, Honda plans to release mass-market electric vehicles in Europe in 2019 and in Japan the following year.

Fast chargers in Japan now provide a maximum output of 150kW, but industry plans call for raising that to 350kW starting in 2020. Europe is expected to have a network of several thousand 350kW charging stations by that year. Honda's next-generation electric vehicles will take advantage of this faster charging infrastructure.

Nissan Motor's new 2018 Leaf will also offer quicker charging times than the current model and range 30% longer -- more than 500km on a single charge. The automaker has a head start on Japanese rivals Honda and Toyota Motor in mass-market electric vehicles.

There were 470,000 electric vehicles on the world's roads in 2016, according to Tokyo-based research firm Fuji Keizai, making up 0.5% of the total. That share is expected to climb to only 4.6% by 2035. By offering faster charging and longer range, Honda hopes to give its electric cars an edge with everyday drivers.

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.