Ford on July 16 announced it will increase its electrification engineering workforce by this year 50% to 500 salaried employees and invest $50 million in electrified-vehicle development and testing centers in Dearborn. Among other things, it will double electrification battery-testing capabilities by the end of the year to 160 individual battery testing cells. The automaker also announced that it will make calibration updates to improve the real-world fuel economy for owners of the 2013 Ford C-MAX Hybrid, 2013 Fusion Hybrid, and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. Calibration enhancements include:
• Increasing maximum pure-electric vehicle speed to 85 mph (137 km/h) from 62 mph (100 km/h)
• Shortening engine warm-up time by up to 50% to enable electric-only driving and engine shutdown at stops sooner after cold starts
• Optimizing the use of active grill shutters to reduce drag under more driving conditions
• Reducing electric fan speed as a function of coolant temperature
• Optimizing the climate-control system to minimize use of the air-conditioning compressor and reduce the energy used in cold-weather operation.
Owners will not be charged for the calibration updates.
A safe, reliable, and easy-to-use charging infrastructure is key to further market acceptance of plug-in vehicles. With that in mind, SAE International is seeking participation from OEMs and electric-vehicle-supply-equipment (EVSE) manufacturers in a project to develop consensus-based industry standards and test procedures addressing EVSE-vehicle interoperability. Currently, OEMs and EVSE manufacturers test their products using their own internal procedures. The likelihood of interoperability problems would diminish if there were a uniform standard and test procedure. To address this, SAE is leading the new interoperability project. Uniform testing procedures will be spelled out in SAE J1953/2 - Test Procedures for the Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Interoperability with Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE). SAE’s work is being done under a contract from ECOtality, which is under a U.S. Department of Energy contract to carry out a larger project addressing advanced-vehicle technologies. Parties interested in participating in the interoperability project should contact SAE’s Keith Wilson at email@example.com.
More reliable interoperability between vehicles and charging equipment is the goal of a new SAE International project. (ECOtality)
The reliability of fast-charging of plug-in vehicles got good grades in a recent joint testing program by General Motors and BMW. Engineers conducted dc fast charging according to the SAE J1772 standard over several days and came away from the experience confident that the charging stations of several suppliers that participated in the test program “will consistently allow an electric vehicle to take on an 80 percent charge in about 20 minutes.” Both hardware and software were tested for conformance to J1772. Participating in the testing were dc fast-charger makers ABB, Aker Wade, Eaton, and IES. “This unprecedented cooperation among OEMs and equipment suppliers demonstrates the maturity of this important technology that will help speed the adoption of electric vehicles around the world,” said Britta Gross, GM Director, Advanced Vehicle Commercialization Policy. The first vehicle models to be equipped for J1772 dc fast charging are the Chevrolet Spark (to be launched imminently in California and Oregon) and the BWM i3 (first half of 2014). GM, BMW, Ford, Chrysler, Daimler, Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche have committed to adopting the so-called “Combo Connector” as specified in J1772. The Combo Connector allows a vehicle with a Combo mating receptacle in the vehicle to be charged via dc at a fast rate or via ac at a slower rate.
ABB's Terra 53 CJ fast-charger for the U.S. market is still in development and will be launched later this summer, the company says. Shown is the European version.
Better Place, the Israel-based company that had pinned its hopes on building stations where the traction batteries of electrified vehicles could be quickly removed and replaced with fully charged ones, has made a legal motion to dissolve. In a May 26 press release, it cited as a reason for its motion a failure to secure additional funding for continued operation: "Unfortunately, after a year’s commercial operation, it was clear to us that despite many satisfied customers, the wider public take-up would not be sufficient and that the support from the car producers was not forthcoming."
Better Place's battery-swap stations worked on an automated basis and could replace a battery in just a few minutes.
Scania and Siemens are teaming to develop hybrid trucks that draw electrical current conductively from overhead wires or inductively from energy-transmitting devices embedded in the road. “Full-scale demonstration of electrified road sections can quickly become a reality through this partnership,” Henrik Henriksson, Executive Vice President and head of Scania’s Sales and Marketing, said in a March 11 press release that contained few technical details. In 2012, the two companies displayed a mockup of a truck fitted with a catenary system like those used on some trams and trains. Siemens has been studying catenary technology as part of its eHighway concept, which it says involves three core components: diesel-electric hybrid technology, power supply via catenary lines and regenerative braking, and intelligently controllable pantographs for energy transmission.
In 2012, Scania and Siemens displayed a mockup of an electrically powered truck fitted with a pantograph.
SMILE FC System Corp. (“SMILE FC”), a joint venture between U.K.-based Intelligent Energy and Suzuki Motor Corp. has established a ready-to-scale production plant for its fuel-cell systems in Yokohama, Japan. The manufacturing center will be scaled up to supply fuel-cell stacks for integration with as-yet unnamed Suzuki vehicles. No information was available from Suzuki on its fuel-cell-vehicle plans, but an Intelligent Energy spokesman told AEI that work to date has focused on two-wheelers.The new production line marks the successful transfer of proven semi-automated production technology, developed and utilized by Intelligent Energy. Expected are reduced manufacturing and assembly costs, as well as improved cycle times and enhanced product quality. SMILE FC was created in February 2012 to develop and manufacture air-cooled fuel cell systems for a range of industry sectors including automotive. The joint venture provides Suzuki with access to Intelligent Energy’s air-cooled fuel-cell technology through partnering and licensing.
Suzuki and Intelligent Energy executives with a fuel-cell-powered Suzuki Burgman scooter cutaway, showing propulsion system components. Note the low-central location of the hydrogen storage pressure tank.
On an equivalent energy basis, motor gasoline (which contains up to 10% ethanol) was estimated to account for 99% of U.S. light-duty vehicle fuel consumption in 2012, according to new information released on the U.S. Energy Information Administration website. Over half of the remaining 1% was from diesel; all other fuels combined for less than half of 1%, according to the EIA. The widespread use of these fuels is largely explained by their energy density and ease of onboard storage, as no other fuels provide more energy within a given unit of volume. Compared to gasoline and diesel, other options may have more energy per unit weight, but none have more energy per unit volume.
The data points represent the energy content per unit volume or weight of the fuels themselves, not including the storage tanks or other equipment that the fuels require. For example, compressed-gaseous fuels require heavy storage tanks, while cooled fuels require equipment to maintain low temperature.
The Fuel Cell Technologies Office under the U.S. Department of Energy has issued a request for information (RFI) seeking feedback from stakeholders regarding proposed cost and durability targets for automotive fuel cells. The proposed cost targets are $40/kW for automotive fuel-cell system cost in 2020 and $30/kW in 2030. The proposed durability target is 5000 h (corresponding to about 150,000 mi/240,000 km). While the automotive industry represents a large market opportunity for fuel cells, further technological improvements are required to make them competitive with incumbent technologies, according to the RFI. The information obtained is to be used in refining already established targets. Feedback should address one or more of the following:
• Appropriateness of target values
• Comparison of targets to baseline and competing technologies (both gasoline internal-combustion engine and hybrid or other advanced systems)
• Status of fuel-cell technologies in comparison to targets
• Recommendations for testing conditions and protocols
• Assumptions used for targets and status (e.g., platinum loading and platinum price).
Comments are due by April 1 and must be provided as an attachment to an e-mail message addressed to: FCcosttargets@go.doe.gov.
With the expectation of launching "the world's first affordable, mass-market fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs)" as early as 2017, Daimler, Ford, and Nissan on Jan. 28 announced an agreement to work together in that cause. Specifically the automakers will collaborate on a common fuel-cell stack and related propulsion technologies, with the aim of reducing development time and costs. Each company will invest equally towards the project. Together, the automakers have more than 60 years of experience developing FCEVs. Their FCEV demonstrators have logged more than 10 million km (6.2 million mi) globally in real-world customer testing. The common powertrains ultimately will be used in highly differentiated, separately branded FCEVs. According to the companies the collaboration, which follows a similar recent announcement by BMW and Toyota, "sends a clear signal to suppliers, policymakers, and the industry to encourage further development of hydrogen refueling stations and other infrastructure necessary to allow the vehicles to be mass-marketed."
FCEV demonstrators from Daimler, Ford, and Nissan have logged more than 10 million km (6.2 million mi) in customer test-drive programs.
In what they term a "strategic partnership," bearing maker SKF will provide "critical components" to Protean Electric for the latter's in-wheel electric drive technology. The five-year agreement also calls for the companies to "look at additional new areas of collaboration for the hybrid and electric vehicle market." The initial focus of the partnership will be on a custom-designed SKF wheel bearing system with integrated sealing and sensors developed specifically for Protean. The bearing system is engineered to optimize performance of the in-wheel motor, which operates in a harsh environment. Protean claims its technology offers superior regenerative braking performance—energy recovery of up to 85%, among other attributes.