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EIA projects light-duty vehicle energy use to drop 12% by 2025

23 May 2017

The US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Annual Energy Outlook 2017 (AEO2017) Reference case projects a decline in light-duty vehicle energy use between 2018 and 2040 as improvements in fuel economy more than offset increases in light-duty vehicle (LDV) miles.

EIA projects that light-duty vehicle energy consumption will decrease 12%—from 16.1 quadrillion Btu in 2017 to 14.2 quadrillion Btu in 2025—in the AEO2017 Reference case, despite projected growth in vehicle-miles traveled of 5% over the same period. Nearly all of this energy consumption is gasoline, with gasoline consumption by light-duty vehicles projected to fall from 8.7 million barrels per day in 2017 to 7.5 million barrels per day in 2025 (-13.8%).

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US sues Fiat Chrysler over diesel emissions

23 May 2017

The Environmental and Natural Resources Division of the US Department of Justice (DOJ-ENRD) has filed a lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler for using software defeat devices in nearly 104,000 Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles (Model Years 2014-2016) with 3.0-liter diesel engines.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had issued a notice of violation (NOV) to FCA over the alleged violations of the Clean Air Act in January 2017. (Earlier post.) The undisclosed engine management software results in increased NOx emissions from the vehicles, EPA said. Since then, FCA US has been working with the EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB), including extensive testing of the vehicles, to clarify issues related to the emissions control technology.

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Proposed 2018 Trump budgets cuts EPA funding 31.4%, DOE 5.6%, DOT 12.7%, NSF 10.7%

23 May 2017

The Trump Administration released its proposed FY 2018 budget, which it calls “A New Foundation for American Greatness”. To help achieve the Administration’s overall budget goal in 10 years, the FY2018 budget includes $3.6 trillion in spending reductions over 10 years, the most ever proposed by any President in a budget.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is targeted for the largest percentage reduction in FY 2018, with a $2.6-billion cut (31.4%) in discretionary spending to a proposed $5.7 billion. The US Department of Energy (DOE) faces a $1.7-billion cut (5.6%) to $28 billion, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) faces a $2.4-billion cut (12.7%) to $16.2 billion, and the National Science Foundation (NSF) is looking at a cut of $800 million (10.7%) to $6.7 billion. (Health and Human Services faces the largest dollar cut: $12.7 billion, or 16.2%).

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2018 Volkswagen Tiguan powered by 2.0L EA888 Gen3B engine

23 May 2017

The all-new 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan arrives in US dealerships this summer powered by the most advanced version yet of Volkswagen’s EA888 four-cylinder engine, the Gen3B. The updated version of the four-cylinder, turbocharged and direct-injection engine uses a modified Miller cycle to offer an improved combination of power, efficiency and responsiveness. Audi engineers described the development of the Gen3B at the Vienna Motor Symposium in 2015. (Earlier post.) The Audi version of the EA888 Gen3B made its debut in the new A4.

First introduced in the 2009 CC, the EA888 continued Volkswagen’s move toward smaller, turbocharged engines that offer the fuel economy benefits of downsizing with the power of a larger-displacement unit. Though EPA estimates are not yet available, compared with the 1.8-liter EA888 Gen 3 engine that is fitted in the current Passat, Jetta, Beetle, and Golf family models, the new 2.0-liter EA888 Generation 3B is expected to offer improved fuel efficiency along with a 20% boost in maximum torque to 221 lb-ft (300 N·m).

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2017 smart fortwo electric drive offers more for less; starting MSRP $23,800 in US

23 May 2017

Arriving in US dealers this summer, Mercedes-Benz’ 2017 smart fortwo electric drive coupe will start at just $23,800; the electric drive cabrio will start at $28,000, excluding federal and state incentives. (Prices exclude $750 destination and delivery charge.) At launch, the smart electric drive cabrio will also be the only electric drive convertible on the market.

The all-new smart electric drive coupe will be $1,200 less expensive than the outgoing model, with improved range, more power, more space and additional standard features. Battery capacity remains the same at 17.6 kWh, but the new pack features 96 rather than 93 cells. Pricing on the cabrio remains the same.

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Researchers show mechanism by which diesel exhaust particles trigger respiratory “flare-ups”

23 May 2017

Researchers at Imperial College London, working with colleagues from King’s College London and University of British Columbia, have demonstrated a mechanism by which diesel exhaust particles directly affect the lungs to initiate symptoms such as a tightening of the airways and cough. These triggered respiratory reflexes can potentially worsen underlying conditions, such as asthma.

Previous research has shown a strong association between urban air pollution and respiratory symptoms such as coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath, but the underlying mechanism has been unclear. In the study, published as an open-access paper in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the team showed that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the exhaust particles directly stimulate nerves in the lungs, causing a reflex response in the airways.

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DOE: gasoline direct injection engine technology showing very rapid adoption; 48.5% market share after 9 years

23 May 2017

Gasoline direct injection (GDI) technology has seen very rapid adoption in the US since its first significant use, according to data gathered by the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Only nine years after its first significant use in the market, GDI penetration has climbed to 48.5% market share. (First significant use generally represents a production threshold of about 1%.)

Many auto manufacturers have used the combined benefits of GDI and turbocharging for increasing power output from downsized engines. This is evident in the rapid rise of turbo-charged engines in over the past five years, after 11 prior years of desultory growth.

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Toyota Research Institute exploring blockchain technology for development of new mobility ecosystem

22 May 2017

The Toyota Research Institute (TRI) is exploring blockchain and distributed ledger technology (BC/DL) (earlier post) for use in the development of a new mobility ecosystem that could accelerate development of autonomous driving technology. TRI is collaborating with the MIT Media Lab (MIT ML) and other industry partners to foster a digital environment in which users—both businesses and consumers—may securely share driving and autonomous vehicle testing data, manage ride-share and car-share transactions and store vehicle usage information that could be used in the setting of insurance rates.

Blockchain technology sends information over a network of independent computers (distributed ledger), intended to ensure that the transaction is secure and ownership rights over the data/property are protected. Blockchain originally underpinned Bitcoin, but has gained traction as a means to record and track the movement of assets. TRI believes blockchain may create transparency and trust among users, reduce risk of fraud and reduction or elimination of transaction costs, such as fees or surcharges applied by third party institutions.

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Daimler lays foundation for its second battery factory; €500M investment for premium eBattery plant

22 May 2017

Daimler has laid the foundation for its second battery factory. At its wholly-owned subsidiary ACCUMOTIVE in Kamenz, the second factory for lithium-ion batteries is being built with an investment of around €500 million (US$562 million).

Daimler is investing an overall amount of around €1 billion () in a global production for batteries. “With the second battery plant in Kamenz, we are giving the initial start for the development of the first premium eBattery factory. The local production of batteries is an important success factor in our electric offensive and a crucial element in order to flexibly and efficiently serve the global demand for electric vehicles. This makes our production network very well positioned for future mobility,” said Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain.

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Ford Motor replaces CEO Fields

22 May 2017

Ford Motor Company has appointed Jim Hackett as Ford Motor Company president and CEO, replacing Mark Fields, who is retiring, effective immediately. Hackett led Steelcase Inc.’s turnaround, served as interim Athletic Director at University of Michigan, and has led Ford Smart Mobility LLC since March 2016. He served on Ford’s board from 2013 to 2016.

Fields’s 3-year tenure as CEO, succeeding Alan Mulally, saw the share price of the automaker drop 39%. Ford’s US sales are down 5.1% year-to-date, with cars showing the steepest decline of 22.1%. Ford’s US hybrid and electric vehicle lineup—unchanged since 2013—has seen its sales volumes decline 10% from 2014-2016 to a combined 77,511 units in 2016 (with only 872 BEVs). At the annual shareholders’ meeting on 11 May, Fields had taken flak from investors over Ford’s share price and product performance.

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HZB team devises new Ti4O7 cathode material for Lithium-sulfur batteries

22 May 2017

Researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie (HZB), with colleagues from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and University of Potsdam, have fabricated a nanomaterial made from nanoparticles of a titanium oxide compound (Ti4O7) for use as a cathode material in lithium-sulfur batteries. The highly porous nanomaterial features high storage capacity that remains nearly constant over many charging cycles.

The well-defined porous Ti4O7 particles exhibit interconnected pores in the interior and have a high-surface area of 592 m2 g−1. To improve the conductivity of the electrode, the team coated a thin layer of carbon is coated on the Ti4O7 surface without destroying its porous structure. The porous Ti4O7 and carbon-coated Ti4O7 particles show significantly improved electrochemical performances as cathode materials for Li–S batteries as compared with those of TiO2 particles. A paper on the work is published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.

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Brunel, Sarginsons developing high-performance cast aluminum alloys for energy-absorbing structures; better bumpers without steel

22 May 2017

The Brunel Centre for Advanced Solidification Technology (BCAST), a global leader in metallurgical casting research, is working closely with foundry partner Sarginsons Industries and others on the development of high-performance cast aluminum alloys as part of the Lightweight Energy Absorbing Aluminium Structures for Transport (LEAAST) project.

Advanced aluminum automotive body designs still depend on steel for bumper beams; in rail applications, steel-based crash systems predominate. LEAAST is working to design, manufacture and demonstrate lightweight aluminium systems based on the use of a novel high strength aluminium extrusion alloy that can replace the incumbent steel systems while providing at least a 25% weight reduction using alloys formulated from recycled end of life scrap.

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