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Toyota to invest ~$50M to establish joint research centers at MIT and Stanford; intelligent vehicle and mobility technologies

4 September 2015

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) will be investing approximately $50 million over the next 5 years to establish joint research centers at Stanford and MIT, focused on the research and development of intelligent vehicle and mobility technologies.

Additionally Dr. Gill Pratt, former Program Manager at DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and leader of its recent Robotics Challenge, has joined Toyota to direct and accelerate these research activities and their application to intelligent vehicles and robotics.

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Bosch 48V mild hybrid system to be production-ready by 2017; Gen 2 prototype integrated in transmission for all-electric driving

4 September 2015

Bosch is developing a 48V entry-level hybrid system that will be production-ready by 2017. “The boost recuperation system is the hybrid for everyone,” says Dr. Rolf Bulander, member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH and chairman of the Mobility Solutions business sector.

Bosch says that the low-cost system, which enables start-stop functionality and braking energy recuperation, will deliver about a 15% improvement in fuel consumption, not only in controlled tests, but also in everyday driving situations. An electric boost feature also enables more dynamic acceleration; the motor generator provides the combustion engine with an additional 150 N·m of support during acceleration.

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BMW showcasing new connected car apps; Smart Home, G2 smart watch, GoPro

4 September 2015

BMW is showcasing new solutions for the “connected car” under the BMW ConnectedDrive banner at the IFA 2015 show in Berlin (4–9 September 2015), one of the world’s leading consumer electronics and home appliance fairs.

One of the company’s focal points at the IFA are a pair of apps designed for operating functions inside connected houses. The Smart Home app from Deutsche Telekom is an Apple iOS-based application which can be integrated into a BMW i3 or any other BMW vehicle with BMW ConnectedDrive Services—as can the Samsung SmartThings app developed for Android devices, on display at the IFA 2015 as a research application. BMW is giving both apps their in-car world premiere, underlining its flexibility in linking applications for the two leading mobile operating systems seamlessly with its cars.

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Harris AutoTECHCAST suggests deluge of infotainment features & connected services doing little to accelerate consumer adoption

4 September 2015

Results from the recently released 2015 Harris Poll AutoTECHCAST suggest that the deluge of infotainment features and connected services coming from the automotive industry may do little to accelerate consumer adoption. Survey results suggest that redefining car design success with a focus on familiarity, usage, satisfaction and loyalty between users and brands—rather than on the sheer number of features offered—may better serve the industry.

AutoTECHCAST, an annual study of consumer awareness and adoption of advanced and emerging automotive technologies, continuously monitors and tracks adoption. The latest AutoTECHCAST survey was conducted during Q2 2015 among more than 14,000 US recent new car buyers, and covers approximately 60 technologies including Entertainment; Exterior & Interior Comfort and Convenience; Intelligent Sensing; Lighting; Powertrain and Alternative Fuels; Safety; and Telematics.

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Proterra extended range electric bus delivers 258 miles on one charge of 257 kWh pack

3 September 2015

A Proterra 40-foot Catalyst XR (extended range) electric bus drove 258 miles (415 miles) on a single charge under test conditions at Michelin’s Laurens Proving Grounds (LPG). The Catalyst XR configuration for the max mileage test used 8 NMC Li-ion battery packs, with a total energy capacity of 257 kWh. Average speed was 30 mph (48 km/h); average energy consumption was 0.8 kWh/mile.

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Federal-Mogul Powertrain develops new high strength aluminium alloy material for automotive diesel pistons

3 September 2015

Federal-Mogul Powertrain has developed a new premium diesel piston aluminium alloy: DuraForm-G91. In benchmarking tests, the new alloy—which will be on display at the IAA show later this month—provides between three and five times the component life of established as-cast materials in modern, highly loaded, diesel engines. The increased strength of the new material also supports higher mechanical loads, allowing engines to operate at higher specific power and more efficiently.

The enhanced alloy properties facilitate piston designs with a lower compression height and reduced mass. The resulting benefits of less reciprocating mass and smaller, lighter cylinder blocks contribute to vehicle CO2 emissions reduction.

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ICCT: industry lagging UN fuel efficiency goals for new commercial aircraft by about 12 years; need for a CO2 standard

3 September 2015

Reductions in the average fuel burn of new commercial aircraft have returned to the long-term average after stagnating from 2000 to 2010. However, according to a new report from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), manufacturers continue to lag the UN’s fuel efficiency goals for new aircraft; on average, industry is about 12 years behind the 2020 and 2030 aspirational goals established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The authors of the ICCT report, which updates its 2009 report on the topic (earlier post), do expect to see an accelerating improvement rate in the foreseeable future due to the introduction of new, more efficient aircraft designs such as the a320neo, 737 MaX, and 777X. Despite that, when comparing the ICAO fuel burn technology goals (a 40% improvement in fuel efficiency for new single-aisle (SA) and small twin-aisle (STA) aircraft in 2020 relative to 2000 levels) with fuel burn trend projections, they found the 12-year time lag between the projected fuel burn improvement and the time needed to reach ICAO’s goals.

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BMW to showcase 4 production plug-in hybrids at IAA in Frankfurt; new 225xe

3 September 2015

BMW is using the upcoming IAA in Frankfurt to showcase four production BMW brand plug-in hybrid models from different vehicle segments—one newly announced. BMW eDrive is the new drive system technology used in all the electrically powered vehicles from BMW i and the plug-in hybrid models from BMW. Alongside BMW TwinPower Turbo technology for combustion engines, intelligent lightweight design and optimized aerodynamics, BMW eDrive technology is therefore one of the most important elements in the EfficientDynamics strategy designed to increase power and further reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

Coinciding with the world premiere of the new generation BMW 7 Series, BMW is highlighting the plug-in hybrid variant of the luxury sedan, the BMW 740e (earlier post). The plug-in hybrid BMW 330e (earlier post) with plug-in hybrid drive is being added to the model line-up for the new BMW 3 Series. Also sharing the stand will be a newly announced plug-in hybrid from the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, the BMW 225xe. Together with the soon-to-be-launched BMW X5 xDrive40e (earlier post) also on display at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, the BMW eDrive technology initially developed for BMW i cars will be available for BMW models spanning four different vehicle segments in 2016.

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FCA US upgrades 3.6L Pentastar V-6; 2-step VVL, cooled EGR; up to 6% better fuel economy

2 September 2015

FCA has upgraded its 3.6-liter Pentastar engine for MY 2016. The 3.6L Pentastar, first introduced in 2009 (earlier post), was the first of an all-new line of V-6 engines intended to improve fuel efficiency across the Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge lineup. More than 5 million Penetastar engines are now on the road.

Depending on the application, the redesigned V-6 delivers fuel-economy improvements of more than 6% while increasing torque more than 14.9%. This occurs at engine speeds below 3,000 rpm, where elevated torque has its most profound impact on the driving experience. Enhancements such as two-step variable valve lift (VVL), cooled exhaust-gas recirculation (EGR) and innovative weight-reduction strategies boost the engine’s efficiency and performance, all while preserving its smoothness.

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Fraunhofer researchers develop carbon nanotube thin film heater for EVs

2 September 2015

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA in Stuttgart have developed a film-based panel heater for electric vehicles. The panel is—particularly on short journeys—more effective than conventional electric heaters. (Electric cars generate little heat as opposed to conventional passenger vehicles, which produce more than enough engine heat to heat the interior. An additional electric heater is required. This is supplied with power by the same battery that provides the engine with energy; prolonged use of the heater can significantly deplete range.)

The heating concept is based on a film that is coated with a very thin layer of conductive carbon nanotubes (CNTs). The film is glued to the inner door trim and generates a comfortable warmth there in the area of the armrest within a very short time, according to Serhat Sahakalkan, project manager at the Fraunhofer IPA.

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BMW i Ventures makes strategic investment in parking services company ZIRX

2 September 2015

BMW Group has made a strategic investment in on-demand parking and car services company ZIRX through BMW’s venture capital entity, BMW i Ventures. ZIRX intends to eliminate the frustration that drivers face in parking in major urban markets such as New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C.

This latest investment increases the number of mobility services start-ups in BMW i Ventures’ portfolio to 13. The current portfolio includes companies such as Chargepoint, Life360, Moovit, JustPark, Chargemaster and Zendrive.

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DLR-led NEMESIS 2+ project develops compact direct steam reformer for diesel/biodiesel to H2

2 September 2015

The European NEMESIS 2+ consortium has and successfully tested a pre-commercial on-site system for the production of hydrogen from diesel and biodiesel. The prototype system—the size of a shipping container—can be integrated into existing infrastructure with relative ease.

The prototype, built by the Dutch project partner HyGear, produces 4.4 kilograms of hydrogen from 20 liters of biodiesel per hour—this roughly corresponds to the fuel tank of a B-Class F-cell vehicle. The efficiency of the process, from start to finish, is approximately 70%. (Original project goals were 50 Nm3/h, or 4.5 kg/h with an efficiency >80%.) The EU NEMESIS 2+ project, which ran until June 2015, was coordinated by the German Aerospace Center (DLR).

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