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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Toyota to Trial New SiC Power Semiconductor Technology [VIDEO]

Using a "Camry" hybrid prototype and a fuel cell bus, Toyota Motor Corporation will bring a brand new technology to the streets of Japan for testing this year. The tests will evaluate the performance of silicon carbide (SiC) power semiconductors, which could lead to significant efficiency improvements in hybrids and other vehicles with electric powertrains.

Technology

Power semiconductors are found in power control units (PCUs), which are used to control motor drive power in hybrids and other vehicles with electric powertrains. PCUs play a crucial role in the use of electricity, supplying battery power to the motors during operation and recharging the battery using energy recovered during deceleration.

At present, power semiconductors account for approximately 20 percent of a vehicle's total electrical losses, meaning that raising the efficiency of the power semiconductors is a promising way to increase powertrain efficiency.

By comparison with existing silicon power semiconductors, the newly developed high quality silicon carbide (SiC) power semiconductors create less resistance when electricity flows through them. The technologies behind these SiC power semiconductors were developed jointly by Toyota, Denso Corporation, and Toyota Central R&D Labs., Inc. as part of the results of a broader R&D project* in Japan.

Test vehicles and period

In the Camry hybrid prototype, Toyota is installing SiC power semiconductors (transistors and diodes) in the PCU's internal voltage step-up converter and the inverter that controls the motor. Data gathered will include PCU voltage and current as well as driving speeds, driving patterns, and conditions such as outside temperature. By comparing this information with data from silicon semiconductors currently in use, Toyota will assess the improvement to efficiency achieved by the new SiC power semiconductors. Road testing of the Camry prototype will begin (primarily in Toyota City) in early February 2015, and will continue for about one year.

Similarly, on January 9, 2015, Toyota began collecting operating data from a fuel cell bus currently in regular commercial operation in Toyota City. The bus features SiC diodes in the fuel cell voltage step-up converter, which is used to control the voltage of electricity from the fuel cell stack.

Data from testing will be reflected in development, with the goal of putting the new SiC power semiconductors into practical use as soon as possible.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Supercharger Wars are Go: Nissan to have 1,700 CHAdeMO chargers in US by 2016

Following closely on the heals of BMW and Volkswagen announcing a 100 station fast charger network, Nissan have plans to install up to 1,700 CHAdeMO fast chargers in the US by 2016.

Since the launch of the Nissan LEAF in late 2010, Nissan has reinforced its commitment to zero emission mobility with investments in EV charging infrastructure to serve the needs of LEAF drivers in markets across the U.S.

Nissan has a multi-pronged strategy to invest with charging partners to install quick charging for owners in the communities where they live and work, as well as at corporate workplaces and Nissan dealerships.

Timeline of (CHAdeMO) quick charging rollout:

  • January 2013: Approximately 160 CHAdeMO chargers chargers installed nationwide.
  • January 2015: More than 800 total U.S. quick chargers installed and active.
  • April 1, 2015: 1,100 quick chargers expected nationwide.
  • April 1, 2016: 1,700 quick chargers projected.

    "Access to quick chargers that can provide about 80 percent charge to a Nissan LEAF battery in less than 30 minutes has proved to increase our owner satisfaction and get more buyers to consider the benefits of an all-electric car," said Brendan Jones, Nissan's director of Electric Vehicle Sales and Infrastructure Deployment. "Nissan continues to invest heavily with our charging partners to ensure that LEAF owners have easy access to convenient public charging as they seek to maximize the benefits of their cars."

    For reference there are currently 140 Tesla Supercharger locations in the USA but due to their use of a proprietary standard only Tesla vehicles can be charged at these stations.

  • Sunday, January 25, 2015

    GM developing a high-performance electric AWD system for next-gen Cadillacs

    According to Edmunds, General Motors is developing a high performance electric all-wheel drive system for next-gen V-Series Cadillac models and maybe their crossovers. This system could make its way into other GM Alpha-platform-based vehicles such as the Cadillac ATS and Chevrolet Camaro, and possibly a Corvette derivative.

    All-wheel drive has become a must-have for high-performance luxury car buyers, and Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche are ahead of the game with their AWD-equipped vehicles. Cadillac, however, lags behind this trend, having just introduced the 455-horsepower ATS-V and 640-hp CTS-V, both rear-wheel-drive sedans. Cadillac is also lagging in its offering of electrified fuel-efficient models.

    An electric all-wheel-drive system, known in the industry by the acronym e-AWD, can potentially boost fuel economy in many future vehicles and help expand their plug-in hybrid offerings, however, the system GM desires is many years in the future.

    Joe Slenvak, director of powertrain electrification for North America at Robert Bosch, told Edmunds that adding electric all-wheel drive to the front wheels of a rear-drive car has challenges.

    "When you put the electric axle drive in the front, you have a lot of crossmembers and things that are in the cradle that you have to work around. It would be a little bit hard to do (but) I think you could do it," Slenvak said.

    Sounds like an application perfectly suited to in-wheel motors.

    Slenvak said a vehicle could be retrofitted to add that system. He would not say if Bosch is developing an electric all-wheel-drive system for GM's rear-drive cars.

    Source: Edmunds

    Thursday, January 22, 2015

    BMW and Volkswagen to build Supercharger Network in US [VIDEO]

    At the 2015 Washington Auto Show, two of the top automakers, BMW of North America and Volkswagen of America, together with ChargePoint, the largest electric vehicle charging network, announced an initiative to create express charging corridors along heavily-traveled routes on the East and West Coasts. Designed to increase the number of fast charging locations, the initiative will help meet the large and growing demand for convenient, publicly available electric vehicle fast chargers, including direct current (DC) Fast charging locations, and support the adoption of electric vehicles in the United States.

    In the initial phase, the aim is to install nearly 100 DC Fast charging ports across both coasts, with plans to expand the program to increase access to fast charging across the country. These newly installed DC Fast chargers will be added to the growing ChargePoint network of more than 20,000 charging spots in North America.

    With more than 280,000 electric vehicles sold in the United States, EV owners need more charging flexibility while on the go. The express charging corridors will provide electric vehicle drivers access to DC Fast chargers along the most heavily populated and highly-trafficked regions on Interstate 95 on the east coast, from Boston to Washington, D.C., and on the west coast covering and connecting the metropolitan areas of Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. The installations will occur both within and between relevant metro areas, strategically-spaced at a maximum of 50 miles apart, making it even easier to take long road trips in an EV.

    "A robust network of conveniently located DC Fast charging stations will go a long way toward increasing electric vehicle adoption and making electric vehicle ownership even more enjoyable," said Robert Healey, Head of EV Infrastructure at BMW of North America. "The express charging corridors are another important step in the development of the U.S. e-mobility infrastructure that makes longer distance travel a real option for consumers, particularly along the most heavily trafficked portions of both coasts-making the BMW i3 and other electric vehicles even more appealing."

    "Volkswagen believes in a holistic approach to e-mobility in order to create a seamless experience for the consumer," said Jörg Sommer, vice president, product marketing and strategy, Volkswagen of America. "The investment in the express charging corridor will provide e-Golf and other electric vehicle owners with the added support to travel their day-to-day and popular long distance routes."

    Each fast charging location along the express charging corridors is expected to include up to two 50 kW DC Fast chargers, or 24 kW DC Combo Fast chargers with the SAE Combo connector, used in both BMW and Volkswagen electric vehicles as well as many other electric vehicles that incorporate a DC Fast Charging capability. When charging at a 50 kW station, both the BMW i3 and the Volkswagen e-Golf can charge up to 80 percent in 20 minutes.

    Both vehicles can charge up to 80 percent in 30 minutes at a 24 kW station. Locations will also include Level 2 chargers, currently the most commonly available public charging stations, which are compatible with all electric vehicles. Level 2 stations can dispense up to 25 miles of range per hour of charging, providing a full charge for the BMW i3 and the VW e-Golf within 3.5 to 4 hours.

    The DC Fast charging stations will be part of the ChargePoint network and can be easily accessed with a ChargePoint or ChargeNow card or with the ChargePoint mobile app.

    "Our goal at ChargePoint is to get everyone behind the wheel of an EV and provide EV charging everywhere they go," said Pasquale Romano, ChargePoint CEO. "With strategically-placed stations where drivers need them, these express charging corridors will give EV drivers the freedom to go farther and have an EV as their only car without limitation."

    Installations have already begun on the west coast, with the first location in San Diego County. There is a target of nearly 100 DC Fast charging ports in the first phase, available by the end of 2015. DC Fast chargers along the express charging corridors are expected to be installed in convenient locations such restaurants, shopping centers, rest stops, and more. ChargePoint will leverage its existing customer base and knowledge on usage to pick strategic locations either where drivers currently charge, or to fill in spaces where there is currently a lack of infrastructure.

    With the investment, BMW, Volkswagen and ChargePoint are providing drivers with the ability and confidence to enjoy longer distance driving and recharge their electric vehicles quickly, ultimately leading to greater electric vehicle adoption.

    Porsche Pajun Due in 2018/19 as a pure electric car

    Announced last year, the second sedan manufacturered by Porsche will not be sold until 2018. A source quoted by the German magazine Auto Motor & Sport says the small Panamera could become the first electric car from the German manufacturer.

    Apparently, Porsche believe that in four years time battery technology will advance to allow ranges from at least 350 to 400 kilometers.

    The E-Pajun is expected to be a four-seater significantly smaller than the Panamera.

    Wednesday, January 21, 2015

    Track debut for 2015 Porsche 919 Hybrid

    Extensive testing with the second generation of Porsche’s Le Mans prototype began on January 18, on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit. As scheduled, this marks the start of the 2015 motorsport season for the Porsche Team. The new Porsche 919 Hybrid has already had its roll-out on the Weissach test track. As a next step, there will be several performance and endurance tests before the WEC season opener on April 12 in Silverstone, Great Britain.

    The new Porsche 919 Hybrid is a comprehensive evolution of the successful car that made its debut in 2014. It will feature the same innovative drivetrain concept consisting of a 2-litre V4 turbocharged petrol engine, an electric motor powering the front wheels, and two energy recovery systems. The new generation car had its first roll-out on December 15, 2014.

    Tuesday, January 20, 2015

    BMW sell almost 18,000 "i" vehicles in 2014 and ramp up production

    Around 17,800 customers have taken delivery of a BMW i vehicle in 2014. Global deliveries of the BMW i3 total 16,052; nearly three-quarters of those sales occurred in the second half of the year, following the vehicle’s late-spring market launch in several major markets including the USA. The keys to a total of 1,741 BMW i8s have been handed over to customers since it went on sale in the summer.

    Due to the success of the BMW i vehicles, their production continues to ramp up. Harald Krüger, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Production said,

    “Our production lines in Leipzig are highly flexible and we have switched more production to the i8 to reduce customer waiting times to a better level. Meanwhile, more than 100 BMW i3’s leave the plant each day. The BMW Group is the first automotive company to manufacture using significant quantities of carbon fibre in series production and the success of these cars speaks for itself.”

    BMW plans to offer plug-in hybrid versions of all their main models including Mini and Rolls Royce brands.

    Source: BMW

    Tuesday, January 13, 2015

    Korean Companies Hold 41% of Global Automotive Battery Patents

    Korean companies are building up a solid lead in the market for electric vehicle batteries.

    According to a market report on automotive batteries published by SNE Research on January 12, Korean companies held a 41 percent share of automotive battery patents as a percentage of the global total. LG Chem held 757 patents among 4,427 patents in 2014, accounting for 17.1 percent of all global patents. Samsung SDI owned 528 patents, accounting for 11.9 percent, while Hyundai Motor owned 244.

    Japan’s Hitachi, a rival of Korean companies in the automotive battery industry, accounted for 7.9 percent of global patents, owning 349 patents in 2014. Toyota owned 242 patents, accounting for 5.5 percent of all patents. The share of patents owned by Japanese companies was no more than 60 percent of the share owned by Korean companies in 2014. Tesla Motors in the U.S. owned 65 patents, accounting for 1.5 percent of all patents.

    U.S. companies owned 1,428 patents overall while Korean companies owned 1,039 patents. Japanese companies owned 989 patents and European companies held 569 patents in 2014.

    Patents categorized to be concerning automotive batteries are related to technologies in assembly, cooling modules, durability, battery management, capacity control and thermal control.

    Kenny Kim, CEO of SNE Research, said that based on the report, battery focused companies will take the lead in the automotive battery market in the future, replacing automobile companies.

    Monday, January 12, 2015

    Chevrolet unveils Bolt EV Concept; 320 km range for $30,000 [VIDEO]

    Chevrolet today made a significant statement on its commitment to electrification with the introduction of the Bolt EV concept – a vision for an affordable, long-range all-electric vehicle designed to offer more than 200 miles of range starting around $30,000.

    “The Bolt EV concept is a game-changing electric vehicle designed for attainability, not exclusivity,” said General Motors CEO Mary Barra. “Chevrolet believes electrification is a pillar of future transportation and needs to be affordable for a wider segment of customers.”

    Leveraging the electrification prowess established by Volt and Spark EV, the Bolt EV concept is designed to offer long-range performance in all 50 states and many global markets.

    Drivers will be able to select operating modes designed around preferred driving styles such as daily commuting and spirited weekend cruising, for uncompromising electric driving. The modes adjust accelerator pedal mapping, vehicle ride height and suspension tuning. The Bolt EV concept is also designed to support DC fast charging.

    “We have made tremendous strides in technologies that make it easier and more affordable for Chevrolet customers to integrate an all-electric vehicle in their daily lives,” said Barra. “The Bolt EV concept demonstrates General Motors’ commitment to electrification and the capabilities of our advanced EV technology.”

    The Bolt EV concept also pushes the envelope for crossover aesthetics. Its unique proportion, with practically no front or rear overhang, makes the most of interior space and was designed to create a roomy environment for four that feels expansive. Lightweight materials, including aluminum, magnesium, carbon fiber and even woven mesh, complement the design, while driving down the curb weight to help maximize range. Aero-optimizing features such as vented rear fenders also help contribute to range.

    “Form and function have never meshed so well together,” said Ed Welburn, vice president, GM Global Design. “No compromises were made when it came to aesthetics and the elements that contribute to the Bolt EV concept’s range, resulting in a unique proportion that’s sleek, efficient and obviously a Chevrolet.”

    The Bolt EV concept’s airy interior ambience is enhanced with bold use of glass all around – as well as a full-length, frosted glass roof with unique, faceted design elements. A high beltline sweeps upward with the D-pillar, culminating in an integrated roof spoiler, for a lean, athletic stance. An advanced nano-composite rear hatch and wraparound rear window give the Bolt EV concept a distinctive appearance and flood the interior with more natural light.

    High-intensity, efficient light-emitting diode (LED) headlamp and taillamp elements are housed behind jewel-like faceted lenses in which translucent elements illuminate evenly to create the signature lighting effect.

    Inside, the Bolt EV concept has a large feel reinforced by generous headroom and legroom dimensions. A flat, flow-through floor adds to the roominess, while a contemporary, light color scheme adds to the feeling of an open, airy cabin and conveys warmth.

    The cabin’s airy, high-tech environment is reinforced with lightweight, slim-architecture seats mounted on exposed aluminum pedestals that create a floating effect. The minimalist center console “floats,” too, suspended from the front seats.

    “The Bolt EV concept’s interior is intended as a sanctuary, with materials and technologies that reinforce the airy ambience and help contribute to the vehicle’s overall efficiency,” said Welburn. “It also incorporates technology in a subtler and simpler manner, for a more soothing driving experience – particularly in busy, urban environments.”

    Chevrolet’s signature dual-cockpit interior layout incorporates easy-to-use technology designed to make the driving experience easier and more enjoyable. It wraps into the door panels and features a frosted and translucent appearance – and a subtle glow at night.

    The concept’s technological intuitiveness can be accessed via a smartphone with the concept Bolt EV Connect app, which is designed to:

  • Allow a smartphone to perform as the key fob
  • Allow ride-sharing management, including reservations, vehicle location, digital key and even payment processing via the smartphone
  • Incorporate the concept automatic park-and-retrieval technology, which enables the driver to exit the vehicle and tell the Bolt EV concept to park itself – and when errands are completed, the Bolt EV concept can be summoned to return to the owner’s location.

    A large, color 10-inch-diagonal capacitive-touch screen, with interface features, complements the concept Bolt EV Connect app. It even allows the projection of all the application and other smartphone data onto the screen.

  • Sunday, January 11, 2015

    Chevrolet Introduces All-New 2016 Volt

    Chevrolet today unveiled the all-new 2016 Volt electric car with extended range, showcasing a sleeker, sportier design that offers 50 miles of EV range, greater efficiency and stronger acceleration.

    The Volt’s new, efficient propulsion system will offer a General Motors’-estimated total driving range of more than 400 miles and with regular charging, owners are expected to travel more than 1,000 miles on average between gas fill-ups.

    “The 2016 Chevrolet Volt provides our owners with a no-compromise electric driving experience,” said Alan Batey, president of GM North America. “We believe our engineering prowess combined with data from thousands of customers allows us to deliver the most capable plug-in vehicle in the industry.”

    The 2016 Chevrolet Volt’s technology and range advancements are complemented by a design that blends sculpted, muscular proportions with aerodynamic efficiency, and an all-new interior with seating for five and improved functionality.

    Everything from charging the battery and checking the charge status, to the intuitiveness of instrument panel controls were designed for easier use.

    “According to independent surveyors, Volt owners are the most satisfied in the industry and they were our compass for developing the next-generation model,” said Batey.

    New Voltec propulsion system

    An all-new, second-generation Voltec extended range electric vehicle (EREV) propulsion system is the power behind the 2016 Volt’s increased all-electric driving range, greater efficiency and stronger acceleration. It was engineered based on the driving behaviors of first-gen Volt owners.

    “Volt owners complete more than 80 percent of their trips without using a drop of gasoline and they tell us they love the electric driving experience. Putting that experience at the center of the new Voltec system’s development helped us improve range, while also making the new Volt more fun to drive,” said Andrew Farah, vehicle chief engineer. “We established a precedent when the original Voltec propulsion system debuted and this newest iteration sets the EV technology bar even higher.”

    The Voltec system includes the battery, drive unit, range-extending engine and power electronics.

    GM’s industry-leading battery technology has been reengineered for the next-generation Volt. The 2016 Volt will use an 18.4 kWh battery system featuring revised cell chemistry developed in conjunction with LG Chem. While overall system storage capacity has increased, the number of cells have decreased from 288 to 192 as the result of a revised chemistry. The cells are positioned lower in the pack for an improved (lower) center of gravity and the overall mass of the pack is 21 pounds (9.8 kg) lighter.

    Like the battery system, the next-generation Volt’s two-motor drive unit delivers increased efficiency and performance along with reduced noise and vibration. The drive unit operates up to 12 percent more efficiently and weighs 100 pounds (45 kg) less than the current system.

    Both motors operate together in more driving scenarios, in both EV and extended-range operation. The ability to use both motors helps deliver a 19 percent improvement in electric acceleration from zero to 30 mph (2.6 seconds) and a 7 percent improvement from zero to 60 mph (8.4 seconds). GM engineers designed the Voltec electric motors to use significantly less rare earth materials. One motor uses no rare earth-type magnets.

    The 2016 Volt goes on sale in the second half of 2015.

    Source: GM