TRW Automotive's steering-wheel concept being shown at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show supports semi and fully automated driving via several multifunctional features including hands on/off detection. The steering wheel is featured in Rinspeed's steer-by-wire XchangE electric vehicle concept. The lightweight design incorporates the following functions, which can be activated by touching transparent switches:
• A "Drive Mode Manager" (DMM) display, located at the top of the steering wheel, illuminating "A" when the vehicle is in automated mode. If the driver touches the steering wheel, "M" (manual) becomes illuminated, indicating that the driver is ready to take back control. If he then touches "Push to Drive" (PTD), control is given back to the driver. Similarly, if the driver later takes his hands off the wheel, the DMM display automatically changes from "M: to A" and the vehicle continues to drive in an automated mode.
• Gear shift—the driver can move from park, neutral, drive, and reverse using the relevant switches on the steering wheel.
• Turn indicators—the indicator switches are illuminated white (ambient lighting), and when activated the corresponding left and right arrows flash.
• Electronic Horn System (EHS)—the horn can be activated by touching a conductive area on the steering-wheel airbag cover.
"With the increasing number of electronically controlled functions in the vehicle, certain controls can be eliminated or packaged into the steering wheel, offering more space and flexibility for the car interior," said TRW's Guido Hirzmann, Group Leader, New Technology, Mechatronic. "For example, with the XchangE vehicle we have been able to remove the center console and integrate the gear shift into the steering wheel."
Global sales of plug-in vehicles (PEVs) rose by more than 55% in 2013, and the market is expected to continue to grow at a steady pace over the next nine years, according to a recent report by Navigant Research. That expansion has led to solid growth in the market for electric vehicle charging equipment (better known in the industry as electric vehicle supply equipment, or EVSE) – growth that is expected to accelerate over the next several years. Worldwide revenue from EVSE sales will grow from $567 million annually in 2013 to $5.8 billion in 2022. The report says: “The market for EV charging has seen an imbalance between the relatively high number of available chargers and the number of vehicles on the road, but that ratio is moving toward equilibrium. In some markets, charging demand outstrips supply,” Lisa Jerram, Senior Research Analyst with Navigant Research said in a press release. “The market has seen a wealth of offerings, including a wider range of EVSE at varying power levels and price points, and this diversity will help drive demand as consumers’ choices increase.” The EVSE market is divided between residential and commercial equipment, which includes workplace, public, and private facilities. The market will see higher demand for residential units than for commercial units through 2014, according to the report, as early PEV buyers are more likely to own their own homes. As the PEV market grows, it will reach a broader base of consumers living in multi-family dwellings, leading to greater growth in the sales of commercial EVSE for private use.
ClipperCreek on Jan. 28 announced availability of its HCS-40P charging station with factory installed NEMA 14-50P or 6-50P wall plugs for 240-V, 30-A charging.
Battery behemoth Johnson Controls and Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, MI, announced Jan. 29 that they will team to identify and validate new energy-storage technologies for vehicles. Johnson Controls says it will donate and install state-of-the-art test equipment and deploy technical resources to the university to propel academic and applied research into optimizing vehicle and battery design. “We believe strongly in building the next generation of technical leaders through academic partnerships,” said MaryAnn Wright, Vice President of Engineering and Product Development for Johnson Controls Power Solutions. “Our partnership with LTU is an example of our commitment to developing new battery technologies. It is also an investment in both the future of academic research in energy management as well the development of the talent pipeline for our industry,” said Wright, who joined LTU’s board of trustees in 2013. LTU will leverage its faculty expertise and research facilities in energy-storage systems, electrification applications, modeling and simulation, and vehicle testing to assist Johnson Controls in meeting its R&D objectives, LTU said in a press release. Johnson Controls Power Solutions says it is the global leader in lead-acid automotive batteries and advanced batteries for stop-start, hybrid, and electric vehicles, and was the first company in the world to produce lithium-ion batteries for mass-production hybrid vehicles.
"The new partnership between Johnson Controls and Lawrence Technological University will identify and validate energy-storage technologies, including absorbent glass mat technology." (Johnson Controls)
Because its engineers have made faster progress than expected, Toyota will offer a fuel-cell car in the U.S. in 2015—earlier than it had planned—the company announced Jan. 6 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Hyundai and Honda were first to announce 2015 launch dates for their fuel-cell vehicles. The Toyota vehicle's name and price will be announced later, as will more details about its technologies, said Bob Carter, Senior Vice President, Automotive Operations, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. The vehicle will be a four-door midsize car with a range of about 300 mi (483 km). Fuel-cell stack output will be more than 100 kW. Acceleration from 0-100 mph (161 km/h) will be in the 10 s range. Rapid technological developments have enabled the company to reduce cost of the car's fuel-cell powertrain and hydrogen storage tanks by an estimated 95% compared with those used on the original Highlander fuel-cell demo vehicle in 2002. A key advance is an improved converter that triples system voltage from the fuel cell to the electric motor, saving weight, space, and "considerable cost," Carter said. A study by Toyota and the University of California-Irvine shows that only 68 hydrogen fueling stations would be needed statewide to accommodate 10,000 or more fuel-cell vehicles concentrated in five urban areas.
A Toyota FCV mule undergoes cold testing in Yellowknife, Canada. Program engineers have logged more than a million fuel-cell test miles in North America.
Airbus signed a memorandum of understanding with EGTS International, a joint-venture company between Safran and Honeywell Aerospace, to further develop and evaluate an autonomous electric pushback and taxiing solution for the A320 Family. The agreement marks the selection of EGTS International’s Electric Green Taxiing System to be evaluated as a new option on the A320 Family—referred to by Airbus as eTaxi. This option would allow the aircraft to push-back from the gate without a tug, taxi-out to the runway, and return to the gate after landing without operating the main engines. (For more on the Electric Green Taxiing System, visit http://articles.sae.org/12662). Over the next few months the partners will jointly develop and present a global commercial case and implementation plan to determine the feasibility of an electric taxiing solution for the A320 Family. To this end, Airbus and EGTS International are reinforcing their existing teams to finalize validation studies, define specifications, and converge on market requirements for a fully tailored forward-fit and retrofit technological solution.
Per trip, the projected fuel savings and CO2 reductions for the A320 Family would be approximately 4% with the eTaxi option.
“The 2014 xEV Industry Insider Report” recently was released by noted battery expert Dr. Menahem Anderman, President of Total Battery Consulting. Based on on-site interviews with senior battery technologists and business development executives at 18 major automakers and 20 battery-system suppliers across three continents, the 175-page work dissects hybrid and electric vehicles and battery technology, the market for each, and provides an assessment of the likely trajectory of all three tiers of the industry as far out as 2020. “The heavy discounts offered by carmakers to buyers of EVs and PHEVs (Tesla excluded) put a price pressure on the whole supply chain. The key question here,” Anderman told Automotive Engineering International, “is whether or not EVs with a longer range, say 150-200 miles, will prove more viable. Most car companies do not see a route for a cost-effective 150-200-mile EV, but Tesla did surprise them once.” On the other hand, he continued, “strong (full) HEVs are sold with profits—providing a more attractive business environment. This poses a big challenge to companies who have over-invested in EVs and PHEVs, rather than strong HEV technology.” Anderman will present some of his findings at his company’s event, the Advanced Automotive Battery Conference Feb. 3-7, and at the SAE 2014 Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Technologies Symposium Feb. 11-13
An SAE International volunteer task force working on a standard for wireless charging of electric vehicles has agreed on the frequency (85 kHz) and the power levels that should be used. “After three years of international collaboration and investigation within the team, consensus has been reached on a nominal common frequency of operation for the light-duty vehicle guideline,” said Jesse Schneider, Chair of the J2954 Task Force for Wireless Power Transfer (WPT) of Light Duty, Electric, and Plug-in Vehicles. “A common frequency of operation for WPT is essential.” Made up of OEMs, WPT suppliers, industry experts, and government representatives, the task force also nailed down the power transfer levels: the first one is identified as WPT1 and has a maximum transfer level of 3.7 kW; for WPT2 it is 7.7kW; and for WPT3 it is 22 kW. The task force plans to complete by early 2014 a Technical Information Report (TIR) on these and other “interoperability” aspects of wireless vehicle charging (e.g., coil geometries and alignment), according to Schneider, who serves as Fuel Cell, EV, Hydrogen and Standards Development Manager at BMW of North America. He said the TIR will be followed by publication of an updated J2954 standard within a year or two. For more information, or to join the task force, contact SAE’s Pat Ebejer at email@example.com.
A "stretchy" polymer developed by scientists at Stanford University and the U.S. Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, CA, could open a path to self-healing electrodes in the lithium-ion batteries of future electric vehicles. The polymer coats a silicon electrode, binds it together, and spontaneously heals small cracks that develop during battery operation, the researchers said. Carbon nanoparticles are added to the polymer to conduct electricity. Silicon electrodes swell to three times their normal size when ions flow into them during charging, then return to normal size upon release of the ions in discharge. Tests found that the electrodes lasted 10 times longer when coated with the polymer, "which repaired any cracks within just a few hours," said Stanford Professor Zhenan Bao. A major challenge to overcome is the polymer's durability. Significant energy-storage capacity loss occurred after about 100 charge-discharge cycles—far fewer than 3000 typical of an electric vehicle, the researchers acknowledge. "But the promise is there," said Yi Cui, an Associate Professor at SLAC and Stanford who led the research with Bao.
Stanford postdoctoral researcher Chao Wang holds a container of self-healing polymer that can be applied to silicon electrodes to keep them from cracking and falling apart during battery operation. (Brad Plummer/SLAC)
Kia will begin selling an all-electric vehicle based on the Soul in 2014, the company announced Nov. 11. Called the Soul EV and equipped with a 27-kW·h lithium-ion battery pack, it has a target range of 120 mi (193 km) and is geared for city commuters. Front-wheel-drive prototypes currently under development are powered by an 81-kW electric motor that generates 285 N·m and delivers power to the wheels via a single-speed constant-ratio gear-reduction unit. Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) will be in less than 12 s, with a top speed of about 145 km/h (90 mph). Energy recovery from braking and coasting will help recharge the battery. Plug-in charging time is expected to be up to 5 h using a standards 240-V outlet and about 25 min using fast charge with 100-kW output. Asked whether the vehicle would be equipped for SAE International J1772 fast-charging or CHAdeMO fast-charging, a Kia spokesman said the company does not want to say yet.
Panasonic Corp. will supply almost 2 billion lithium-ion battery cells to Tesla Motors over four years under an agreement announced today. The cylindrical cells (18650 form factor) will be used in the Model S and the Model X—the latter slated for production start-up by the end of 2014. The agreement builds on an earlier collaboration between the two companies to "develop next-generation automotive-grade battery cells and accelerate the market expansion of electric vehicles." The say the current cell, developed together, is a "customized technology designed specifically for optimizing electric vehicle quality and life," and offers the highest energy density in the market. Panasonic said it will increase production capacity of Li-ion cells to meet demand from Tesla.