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Ford investing US$375M for R&D in Canada; doubling connectivity team, new research and engineering center

30 March 2017

Ford is investing an additional C$500-million (US$375 million) in its Canadian research and development presence, adding connectivity software and hardware engineers and establishing a new Ottawa Research and Engineering Center. Ford is adding more than 400 connectivity engineers in Canada and the US—approximately 300 of whom will be based in Canada—more than doubling Ford’s mobile connectivity engineering team.

The new Ottawa Research and Engineering Center in Canada will focus on research and development across infotainment, in-vehicle modems, gateway modules, driver-assist features and autonomous vehicles.

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Toyota Research Institute launches $35M effort to use AI to accelerate design & discovery of advanced materials; focus on batteries and fuel cells

30 March 2017

The Toyota Research Institute (TRI) will collaborate with research entities, universities and companies on materials science research, investing approximately $35 million over the next four years in research that uses artificial intelligence to help accelerate the design and discovery of advanced materials. Initially, the program will aim to identify new advanced battery materials and fuel cell catalysts that can power future zero-emissions and carbon-neutral vehicles.

Initial research projects include collaborations with Stanford University; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the University of Michigan; the University at Buffalo; the University of Connecticut; and the UK-based materials science company Ilika. TRI is also in ongoing discussions with additional research partners.

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Volkswagen Group’s Škoda to unveil 500 km Vision E electric concept at Shanghai show; leveraging MEB for electromobility

30 March 2017

ŠKODA will stage the world premiere of the VISION E electric concept vehicle at the upcoming Shanghai Motor Show 2017 (19 – 28 April). The five-door SUV coupé can travel up to 500 km (311 miles) on purely electric power and meets the level 3 requirements for autonomous driving. ŠKODA, a member of the Volkswagen Group, is intensively pursuing the electrification of its model range, and will be offering five purely electric models in various segments by 2025.

With system output of 225 kW, the ŠKODA VISION E accelerates instantaneously and dynamically. The top speed of the two-motor, all-wheel drive concept is 180 km/h (112 mph). The front- and rear-wheel drive is suitably adjusted to ensure the highest degree of stability, dynamism and safety at all times.

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AAM develops new axle technology; lighter, more efficient for up to 1.5% better fuel economy

30 March 2017

American Axle & Manufacturing (AAM) has developed completely new, significantly improved axle technology. QUANTUM driveline technology is scalable across a wide range of vehicle segments and provides substantial advantages regardless of vehicle size: reduced mass, increased power density, improved noise vibration and harshness (NVH) and fuel efficiency gains in a more compact system package. The combined additional efficiency and weight reduction can deliver 1% to 1.5% improved vehicle fuel economy, AAM said.

QUANTUM offers a 20% increase in power density along with a minimum 30% mass reduction at the same torque capacity. For a heavy-duty pickup, QUANTUM provides more than 100 lbs. of vehicle weight savings, said Phil Guys, AAM vice president and chief technology officer. “It is significantly more efficient without any reduction in performance.

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AM General and TARDEC partnering on autonomous driving vehicle; testing at West Point

30 March 2017

AM General and the US Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) are partnering to develop and to demonstrate an autonomous driving vehicle that may revolutionize how soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, along with equipment and supplies, are transported inside US military facilities.

Under the Applied Robotics for Installations and Base Operations initiative (ARIBO), AM General and TARDEC are currently developing an autonomous vehicle, with demonstrations expected to begin this Spring at the US Military Academy, West Point.

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London and Paris launch car scoring initiative based on real-world emissions; ICCT the technical lead

29 March 2017

Mayor of Paris and Chair of C40 Cities Anne Hidalgo and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced they are working together to create schemes to score new cars based on their real-world emissions and their impact on air quality and to provide that data in an accurate and accessible form to the public. Other cities have committed to work with the C40 Cities toward adoption of similar schemes.

The initiative announced today by Paris and London is supported by The Real Urban Emissions (TRUE) Project, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the FIA Foundation, and the Joshua and Anita Bekenstein Charitable Fund. This new undertaking will capture detailed information on pollutants from vehicle exhaust using remote-sensing equipment and portable emissions monitoring systems. The ICCT will be the lead technical organizational partner managing vehicle testing and data analysis in the TRUE Project.

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Ascend Energy and Atrex Energy demo tubular SOFC electric ATV, fueled by natural gas

29 March 2017

Ascend Energy, in collaboration with solid oxide fuel cell manufacturer Atrex Energy, released the results of a joint project to demonstrate a newly developed tubular solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) in an electric all-terrain vehicle (ATV). The project was supported by a $146,283 Energy Innovations Small Grant (EISG) from the California Energy Commission.

Ascend worked with Tructronics Inc., idea Solutions Design, and JB Mechanical to integrate and install a commercial 1000 Watt Atrex Energy fuel cell power generator fueled with compressed natural gas in an all-electric Polaris Ranger ATV. ATVs are in common use in California farms, ranches and orchards as a utility vehicle but the gasoline-fueled versions make a significant contribution to poor air quality in the farm regions of the state.

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DOE BETO report provides overview of current state of alternative aviation fuels; overcoming technical and commercial barriers

29 March 2017

The US Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) has published a report titled Alternative Aviation Fuels: Overview of Challenges, Opportunities, and Next Steps. The report provides an overview of the current state of alternative aviation fuels, as reported in findings by recent working groups, and also presents findings from the Alternative Aviation Fuel Workshop hosted by BETO in September 2016.

Unlike other liquid fuels (e.g., diesel or gasoline) with developed alternatives (such as electrical power), alternatives to current aviation jet fuels are at the early stages of development. In the near term, the most promising option is bio-derived aviation fuel. Bio-based jet fuels also present a tremendous opportunity to transition away from fossil fuels towards domestically produced aviation biofuel that would further reduce US reliance on foreign oil and create jobs, BETO notes.

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National Academies report finds EPA’s controlled human exposure studies of air pollution are warranted

29 March 2017

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carries out controlled human inhalation exposure (CHIE) studies in which volunteer participants agree to be intentionally exposed by inhalation to specific pollutants at restricted concentrations over short periods to obtain important information about the effects of outdoor air pollution on human health.

A new report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine finds these studies are warranted and recommends that they continue under two conditions: when they provide additional knowledge that informs policy decisions and regulation of pollutants that cannot be obtained by other means; and when it is reasonably predictable that the risks for study participants will not exceed biomarker or physiologic responses that are of short duration and reversible.

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Opinion: What A Westinghouse Bankruptcy Could Mean For U.S. Utilities

29 March 2017

by Leonard Hyman and Bill Tilles for Oilprice.com

International news services now report that Japan’s Toshiba Corporation (9502.T) is preparing to make a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in the US for its Westinghouse Electric subsidiary. For most of our readers this news evokes little surprise. This is merely another chapter of a slow moving financial and accounting train wreck involving nuclear design and construction firm Westinghouse and its troubled Japanese parent, Toshiba. But like an old, leaky garbage scow, there is much to clean up in its wake.

The two U.S. utilities with the most at risk are Southern Company and SCANA Corp. Westinghouse is presently constructing two unit, AP 1000 nuclear power stations for each utility. These projects are over-budget and behind schedule. It appears that Westinghouse offered both utilities a fixed price contract for these new nuclear plants. Our best guess is that this fixed price construction guarantee has doomed Westinghouse and prevented other potentially willing buyers from stepping in. No one it seems is willing to take on this seemingly open-ended nuclear construction liability.

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Ford investing $1.2B in 3 Michigan plants; focus on trucks, SUVs, big data & mobility services

28 March 2017

Ford Motor Company is investing $1.2 billion in three Michigan manufacturing facilities to strengthen its leadership in trucks and SUVs and support the company’s expansion to an auto and mobility company.

Ford is investing $850 million in Michigan Assembly Plant to retool the plant to build the all-new Ford Ranger and Ford Bronco. Employees at Michigan Assembly Plant will begin building Ranger at the end of 2018 and Bronco in 2020.

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Hermes to deploy 1500 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Vito electric vans by 2020; pilot project in 2018

28 March 2017

Hermes and Mercedes-Benz Vans have agreed on a wide-ranging strategic partnership to electrify the courier service’s vehicle fleet. The companies are to start using battery-electric vehicles in the logistics provider’s normal operations in a pilot phase in Stuttgart and Hamburg in early 2018.

The focus will be on the economy, sustainability and practicality of tailpipe emission-free delivery vans when used for the last mile. By the end of 2020, Hermes Germany intends to deploy 1,500 Mercedes-Benz Vito and Sprinter electric vans in urban areas across Germany.

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