Robert Llewellyn takes the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) for a 500+ mile test drive.
"A really pleasant car to drive, enormous inside, smooth, quiet and very comfortable and it costs the same as the diesel model."
Robert Llewellyn takes the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) for a 500+ mile test drive.
"A really pleasant car to drive, enormous inside, smooth, quiet and very comfortable and it costs the same as the diesel model."
A limiting factor for the driving range of electric vehicles is the amount of energy supplied by the batteries. To recoup as much braking energy as possible, engineers at the Gear Research Center (FZG) at the TU München have developed a light-weight torque vectoring transmission for electric vehicles.
“While drive torque is normally distributed 50/50 to the wheels of the drive axle, our torque vectoring system doses the torque between the wheels as required,” explains engineer Philipp Gwinner from FZG. “This also ensures particularly good drive dynamics.” When a vehicle accelerates in a curve, greater torque is applied to the outside wheel. The car steers itself into the curve. The result: greater agility and, at the same time, safer road handling.
Recovering braking energy in curves
Even more important to the researchers, however, is the efficient recovery of braking energy. Normally, brakes convert kinetic energy into heat. So-called recuperation systems can prevent this. They work along the principle of a bicycle dynamo, which converts energy tapped from the wheel into electrical energy. In the case of electric vehicles this energy can be used to recharge the batteries, thereby extending the driving range.
Unfortunately, in curves the recuperation of braking energy is limited since the inside wheel bears significantly less load than the outside wheel. The torque vectoring function adjusts the recuperation torque for both wheels individually. This increases vehicle stability while at the same time allowing more energy to be recovered.
Less weight, lower cost
Torque vectoring transmissions are used today in select top model cars and sports cars with combustion engines. Due to their high cost and additional weight torque vectoring transmissions have not found application in electric vehicles. The aim of the researchers was, thus, to optimize the transmission for small vehicles with electric drives.
Instead of the standard bevel gears used in differential transmissions, the engineers developed a spur gear differential in which additional torque can be applied from outside via a superimposed planetary gearbox. Using a small (in comparison to the drive motor) electric torque vectoring machine they can generate a large yaw moment at any speed to achieve the desired road handling dynamics.
The housing of the first prototypes are made of aluminum. To save even more weight, the aluminum housing will be replaced by a composite case made of aluminum and a fiber-reinforced synthetic. To reduce the forces acting on the housing without increasing gear noise, which is critical in electrical vehicles, the researchers have developed a special gearing free of axial forces. This and further construction element optimizations led to a reduction in gearbox weight of more than ten percent.
“The elegant thing about the torque vectoring transmission we have developed is that it not only has a higher recuperation level, and, with that, an increased driving range,” says Professor Karsten Stahl, Director of the FZG, “the transmission also improves road handling dynamics, driving pleasure and safety. The continuously improving optimization measures leave us optimistic that in the near future both the weight and cost will be able to compete with today’s standard differential transmissions.”
Participants in the Visio.M consortium are, in addition to the automotive companies BMW AG (lead manager) and Daimler AG, the Technische Universitaet Muenchen as a scientific partner, and Autoliv BV & Co. KG, the Federal Highway Research Institute (BAST), Continental Automotive GmbH, Finepower GmbH, Hyve AG, IAV GmbH, InnoZ GmbH, Intermap Technologies GmbH, LION Smart GmbH, Amtek Tekfor Holding GmbH, Siemens AG, Texas Instruments Germany GmbH and TÜV SÜD AG as industrial partners. The project is funded under the priority program "Key Technologies for Electric Mobility - STROM" of the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) for a term of 2.5 years with a total budget of 10.8 million euro.
Scientists at Nanyang Technology University (NTU) have developed ultra-fast charging batteries that can be recharged up to 70 per cent in only two minutes.
The new generation batteries also have a long lifespan of over 20 years, more than 10 times compared to existing lithium-ion batteries.
This breakthrough has a wide-ranging impact on all industries, especially for electric vehicles, where consumers are put off by the long recharge times and its limited battery life.
With this new technology by NTU, drivers of electric vehicles could save tens of thousands on battery replacement costs and can recharge their cars in just a matter of minutes.
Commonly used in mobile phones, tablets, and in electric vehicles, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries usually last about 500 recharge cycles. This is equivalent to two to three years of typical use, with each cycle taking about two hours for the battery to be fully charged.
In the new NTU-developed battery, the traditional graphite used for the anode (negative pole) in lithium-ion batteries is replaced with a new gel material made from titanium dioxide.
Titanium dioxide is an abundant, cheap and safe material found in soil. It is commonly used as a food additive or in sunscreen lotions to absorb harmful ultraviolet rays.
Naturally found in spherical shape, the NTU team has found a way to transform the titanium dioxide into tiny nanotubes, which is a thousand times thinner than the diameter of a human hair. This speeds up the chemical reactions taking place in the new battery, allowing for superfast charging.
Invented by Associate Professor Chen Xiaodong from NTU’s School of Materials Science and Engineering, the science behind the formation of the new titanium dioxide gel was published in the latest issue of Advanced Materials, a leading international scientific journal in materials science.
Prof Chen and his team will be applying for a Proof-of-Concept grant to build a large-scale battery prototype. With the help of NTUitive, a wholly-owned subsidiary of NTU set up to support NTU start-ups, the patented technology has already attracted interest from the industry.
The technology is currently being licensed by a company for eventual production. Prof Chen expects that the new generation of fast-charging batteries will hit the market in the next two years. It also has the potential to be a key solution in overcoming longstanding power issues related to electro-mobility.
“Electric cars will be able to increase their range dramatically, with just five minutes of charging, which is on par with the time needed to pump petrol for current cars,” added Prof Chen.
“Equally important, we can now drastically cut down the toxic waste generated by disposed batteries, since our batteries last ten times longer than the current generation of lithium-ion batteries.”
The 10,000-cycle life of the new battery also mean that drivers of electric vehicles would save on the cost of battery replacements, which could cost over US$5,000 each.
Easy to manufacture
According to Frost & Sullivan, a leading growth-consulting firm, the global market of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries is projected to be worth US$23.4 billion in 2016.
Lithium-ion batteries usually use additives to bind the electrodes to the anode, which affects the speed in which electrons and ions can transfer in and out of the batteries.
However, Prof Chen’s new cross-linked titanium dioxide nanotube-based electrodes eliminates the need for these additives and can pack more energy into the same amount of space.
Manufacturing this new nanotube gel is very easy. Titanium dioxide and sodium hydroxide are mixed together and stirred under a certain temperature so battery manufacturers will find it easy to integrate the new gel into their current production processes.
Recognised as the next big thing by co-inventor of today’s lithium-ion batteries
NTU professor Rachid Yazami, the co-inventor of the lithium-graphite anode 30 years ago that is used in today’s lithium-ion batteries, said Prof Chen’s invention is the next big leap in battery technology.
“While the cost of lithium-ion batteries has been significantly reduced and its performance improved since Sony commercialised it in 1991, the market is fast expanding towards new applications in electric mobility and energy storage,” said Prof Yazami, who is not involved in Prof Chen’s research project.
Last year, Prof Yazami was awarded the prestigious Draper Prize by The National Academy of Engineering for his ground-breaking work in developing the lithium-ion battery with three other scientists.
“However, there is still room for improvement and one such key area is the power density – how much power can be stored in a certain amount of space – which directly relates to the fast charge ability. Ideally, the charge time for batteries in electric vehicles should be less than 15 minutes, which Prof Chen’s nanostructured anode has proven to do so.”
Prof Yazami is now developing new types of batteries for electric vehicle applications at the Energy Research Institute at NTU (ERI@N).
This battery research project took the team of four scientists three years to complete. It is funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF), Prime Minister's Office, Singapore, under its Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE) Programme of Nanomaterials for Energy and Water Management.
Toyota has posted an impressive global milestone with confirmation it has sold its seven-millionth hybrid vehicle.
Firmly established as the world's largest producer of hybrid vehicles, the tally includes 3.3 million sold in Japan, 2.5 million in the United States, 770,000 in Europe and more than 67,000 in Australia.
The latest one-million sales were achieved in record time - just nine months after Toyota (including Lexus) reached the six-million hybrid threshold in December last year, which doubled the three million total passed in February 2011. Globally, Prius accounts for almost half the overall total with 3.36 million sales - making it easily the world's best-selling hybrid vehicle.
In Australia, the locally built Camry accounts for more than half the 55,442 hybrids sold by Toyota dealers, followed by Prius with almost 19,000 sales. Local Lexus dealers have sold 12,244 hybrids, led by the CT 200h and the RX 450h.
TMC estimates its hybrid vehicles have cut carbon-dioxide emissions by approximately 49 million tonnes* and saved approximately 18 million kilolitres* of fuel compared with vehicles of similar size and driving performance using petrol-only engines.
Toyota began selling the Prius in the Japan in 1997 and in Australia in 2001. Camry Hybrid has been built and sold in Australia since 2010 while the Prius was expanded into a family of three vehicles in 2012 with the addition of the Prius c city car and the Prius v seven-seater.
Over the 17 years since the first Prius was launched, Toyota has endeavoured to encourage the mass-market adoption of hybrid vehicles, which use less fuel and emit fewer tailpipe emissions than equivalent petrol-only models. Toyota has positioned hybrid and its related developments as core technologies for the 21st century. The company therefore plans to continue working to enhance performance, reduce costs and expand its product line-up to create vehicles that are popular with consumers.
Toyota's hybrid sales - Australia
Unveiling of the Toyota Hybrid System (THS)
Prius launched in Japan
Cumulative Prius sales top 50,000 vehicles
Cumulative hybrid vehicle sales top 100,000 mark
Cumulative Prius sales top 100,000 vehicles
Unveiling of the Toyota Hybrid System II (THSII)
Prius completely redesigned
Cumulative hybrid vehicle sales top 500,000 mark
Prius production begins in China
Cumulative Prius sales top 500,000 vehicles
Camry Hybrid launched
Cumulative global hybrid vehicle sales top one-million mark
Cumulative Prius sales top one million vehicles
Hybrid Camry production announced for Australia and Thailand
Third-generation Prius launched (July in Australia )
Cumulative global hybrid vehicle sales top two-million mark
Hybrid Camry production commences in Australia
Locally produced Hybrid Camry goes on sale in Australia
Cumulative Prius sales top two million vehicles
Annual Prius sales in Japan of 315,669 - a record for any vehicle
Cumulative global hybrid vehicle sales top three-million mark
Production of third-generation Prius commences in China
Completely redesigned Camry Hybrid launched in Australia
Prius c launched in Australia
Cumulative global hybrid vehicle sales top four-million mark
Prius v launched in Australia
Global hybrid sales top one million in a year for the first time
Cumulative global hybrid vehicle sales top five-million mark
Cumulative Prius sales top three million vehicles
Cumulative global hybrid vehicle sales top six-million mark
Cumulative global hybrid vehicle sales top seven-million mark
Venkat Viswanathan, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, is developing a search engine that will help researchers and industry experts discover and develop electrolytes for batteries more quickly and efficiently than currently possible.
Viswanathan, who is researching new types of lithium batteries for electric vehicles, realized how slow and inefficient it is to search for specific information on the different components. "You have to go read through multiple charts or go through handbooks to get to that information, and then try to discover something that will actually work," Viswanathan says.
Viswanathan was inspired to find a solution to this problem by President Barack Obama's first announcement of the Materials Genome Initiative. Making the announcement at Carnegie Mellon in 2011, he called upon scientists and engineers to help discover and produce new materials faster and in more cost-effective ways by creating and using a massive database of information on industry materials.
While the Materials Genome Initiative is intended for a broad spectrum of industry applications, Viswanathan is currently focused on developing a data genome for electrolytes. Electrolytes consist of salt and a solvent, and are essential in lithium ion batteries because they serve as the channel that moves the lithium ions, which store the energy. Charged ions must be moved from one side of the battery, and when they are charged, back to the other side, where they can be consumed. Finding electrolytes that work is currently one of the major barriers to developing more energy-dense storage solutions for consumer use.
Using a search engine similar to social networking sites Facebook and Yelp, scientists and researchers can use the electrolyte genome to enter the beginning of queries and receive suggestions about what they might mean, similarly to how when you type "Sara" into your Facebook search, the people named Sara who are your friends are the top suggestions. It also can handle queries with "and," such as if you type in "Sara" AND "Boston" to discover Saras who live in Boston. While this sounds common for everyday users, it is novel for very technical organic chemistry searches.
The search engine is robust enough to help users come up with ideas, such as if a researcher is trying to think of a certain set of desired attributes for a solvent but cannot quite precisely state it — like how you might be trying to think of a word on the tip of your tongue, but can only remember it starts with a certain letter and means something similar to another word.
In the future, users will be able to seamlessly merge data graphically to get more complex information such as correlations between various properties of solvents or between different solvents. This is similar to the search engine Wolfram Alpha, which, should a user type in "GDP of China and India," will provide the users not only with the countries' current GDPs but also with a graph detailing how their GDPs have increased over time, among other relevant facts.
The ability to access this in-depth level of information would result in faster and more successful testing of new materials, ultimately allowing researchers and businesses to get products from concept to marketplace more quickly.
Viswanathan's electrolyte genome project is tailored for expert users who are looking for complex information, such as electrochemical and chemical properties, and highest occupied molecule orbital (HOMO) level of solvents, but he hopes to eventually expand the project to be accessible to the general public and to other kind of solvents beyond organic solvents. The data genome search engine would support a wide range of querying options, from complicated searches by experts to simple searches by general users who are looking for information unavailable outside of print materials or who just want to see the capability of the data genome.
To test Viswanathan's electrolyte genome project, visit: http://www.andrew.cmu.edu/user/venkatv/SEED.html.
Tesla Motors founder and CEO Elon Musk takes Bloomberg's Betty Liu for a test drive of the Tesla Model P85D, including using the car's autopilot feature.
At a launch event held at Hawthorne Airport in California, Tesla Motors founder and CEO Elon Musk showcased details of improvements to the Model S range. While some early predictions of a Model 3 launch were wide of the mark, the much predicted AWD version of the Model S was correct.
The ‘D’ stands for ‘dual’ motor, which has been achieved by mounting a second electric motor on the front axle. The technology will be available on the entry-level 60 kWh and standard 85 kWh cars as well as the top of the line P85.
This not only transforms the Model S into the fastest four-door production car in the world with a 0-100 km/h time of 3.2 seconds but also improves the vehicles energy efficiency. Maximim power for a P85+ with AWD (now renamed P85D) is 690 hp (508 Kw) with a peak torque of 930 Nm. Weight has increased to 2,238 kg but vehicle range is increased by 10 miles. Total range for the P85D is now 275 miles, with the 85D and 60D boasting 295 miles and 225 miles respectively.
With the addition of a second motor on the front axle the power split between the two motors is 221 hp at the front and and 470 hp at the rear (Tesla has tuned the existing unit, up from 416 hp). Cornering grip is also significantly higher than in the standard car, with a reported 1G of lateral acceleration achievable.
The AWD car’s performance improvements aren’t limited to raw pace. The extra motor allows the Model S to increase levels of regenerative braking, but the main benefit of having the two power units is improving efficiency at any given speed. Electric motors tend to reach maximum energy efficiency at close to full rated load. With the Tesla's rear drive motor being twice as powerful as any other EV on the market, at light loads it is not operating efficiency.
By plugging in a much smaller 163 kw / 300 Nm motor into the front axle, which is closer to the size of motor in the BMW i3, Tesla engineers can calibrate the powertrain to run the front motor closer to full rated load when the vehicle is driven at moderate speeds. As the Model S is limited to 60 Kw maximum brake regeneration, increasing brake bias towards the smaller front motor should also moderately increase brake regen energy efficiency.
Elon Musk mentioned the AWD powertrain will have torque vectoring but we expect this will be a friction brake controlled system much like in the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. Both vehicles use only 2 motors that drive the wheels via mechanical differentials so there is no way to control torque at each wheel individually via the motors.
These new digital AWD systems vastly improvement torque split front to rear compared to old inefficient analogue All-Wheel-Drive systems where front and rear axles are connected via a drive shaft, but they aren't quite there yet with side to side torque control.
First deliveries of the $120,170 Model S P85D are scheduled before the end of this year, with 85D and 60D variants arriving in February.
Mitsubishi has introduced the Outlander PHEV Concept-S this week at the Paris Motor Show.
Likely previewing an upcoming facelift for the mid-size SUV, the concept adopts a fresh front fascia with an "X" layout and chrome accents along with LED headlights & fog lights. There's also a different grille while on the inside it has a black & burgundy color scheme with a black wood grain trim with silver accents. The center console has been designed with influences from the Japanese traditional black lacquered boxes and the cabin also comes with hand-stitched soft leather upholstery.
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Concept-S is 4760mm long, 1840mm wide, 1700mm tall and has a wheelbase that spans at 2670mm. Power is provided by a plug-in hybrid system encompassing a four-cylinder 2.0-liter gasoline engine teamed up with two electric motors and a 12 kWh lithium-ion battery pack.
Just like the production Outlander PHEV, the concept can provide a total range of 547 miles (880 km) and working solely on electric power it will do 34 miles (55 km) before running out of juice. When used as a hybrid, the vehicle is capable of returning an outstanding 143.5 mpg US (172.3 mpg UK or 1.6 liters / 100 km).
Tesla Motors will unveil its Model 3, the mass-market car, and new versions of the Model S sedan at the event Oct. 9, analyst Trip Chowdhry with Global Equities Research said in a note Friday.
It is no coincidence the event is to take place in the Los Angeles area rather the San Francisco Bay Area, where the electric-car maker is headquartered: Tesla's top designer "spends almost 90% of this time in the LA Design Center," Chowdhry said.
Tesla earlier Friday said the event was scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Hawthorne airport. By showing a Model 3 prototype Tesla is also hoping to garner more attention from potential "gigafactory" investors, he added.
The new Model S versions would have all-wheel drive and semi-autonomous driver-assistance system.
Scientists from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and German Aerospace Centre (DLR) have invented a 2-in-1 electric motor which increases the range of electric vehicles.
This innovative engine integrates the traditional electric motor with the air-con compressor, typically two separate units. This novel, space-saving design allows the use of bigger batteries, which can increase the range of electric vehicles by an additional 15 to 20 per cent.
Prof Subodh Mhaisalkar, Executive Director of the Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N), said: “The biggest challenge with electric cars in tropical megacities is the range that they can travel on a full-charge, because their batteries are needed to power both the engine and the air-conditioning. In tropical countries like Singapore, up to half the battery’s capacity is used to power the air-conditioning system.”
The new 2-in-1 design allows the electric motor to be more efficient in powering the car’s wheels, while its integrated air-con compressor uses less power due to synergy between the engine and the compressor, which can also tap on energy regenerated directly from the car’s brakes.
With the potential boost in range through the efficient use of energy, the joint invention recently won the Best Originality Award in the TECO Green Tech International Contest held in Taiwan.
The competition saw 19 entries from top universities including Boston University, University of California (UCLA), Waseda University, and universities from China and Russia.
NTU’s partner, DLR, the German aerospace and space agency will conduct further tests and improvements to the new engine with the aim of eventual commercialisation. The team is applying for a Proof-Of-Concept (POC) grant in Singapore. After the development of the prototype, test bedding and refinements will be done at DLR’s facilities in Germany.
Prof Mhaisalkar, said this innovation will pave the way for extending the range of electric cars, as the integrated design combines the two of the most important parts of an electric car, thus reducing its complexity into one highly efficient solution.
“With the global population of electric vehicles set grow rapidly to 20 million in 2020, a more efficient electric motor cum air-con compressor, will enable cars to travel further on a single charge,” added Prof Mhaisalkar. “This energy efficiency will in turn reduce overall greenhouse emissions and promote sustainable transportation solutions.”
“This integrated design solution for air conditioning will go a long way in reducing the range anxiety of drivers, reduce maintenance costs, and will save time and money for the driver.”
For the automobile manufacturers, the new electric motor will also cost less to produce, as it requires less material than its counterparts. Both the weight and size of the electric motor are reduced, creating more space for other components such as an auxiliary battery source.
Dr Michael Schier, from DLR’s Institute of Vehicle Concepts, said: “For electric vehicles, the air conditioning uses a lot of electrical energy, thereby cutting down the range of electric cars by up to 50 per cent. To increase the energy efficiency and therefore the range of electric cars, the thermal management and the integration of additional functions into existing powertrain components play a major role.”
“By integrating the refrigerant compressor directly into the electric motor, we save components, weight and cost. Simultaneously, the more regenerative braking part of the kinetic energy is passed directly to the refrigerant compressor and thus the efficiency is further increased,” added Dr Schier.
Research scholar Mr Satheesh Kumar from the Energy Research Institute @ NTU said his award-winning, integrated electric motor challenges conventional design that goes way back to the 1960s when air-conditioning first became popular.
“Back then, air-conditioning was something new that was an add-on feature to a car’s combustion engine,” said the 29-year-old Singaporean.
“Since we are now designing electric vehicles from scratch, I see no reason why we should keep both units separate. As we have proven, combining the two gives us synergy – a more efficient use of electricity and it also improves engine braking, which stops the car faster with lesser wear on the brake pads.”
This research is part of NTU’s focus on sustainability research. Sustainable Earth and Innovation are two of NTU’s Five Peaks of Excellence, which are areas of research that the university hopes to make its global mark in. The other three peaks are Future Healthcare, New Media, and the Best of East and West.