Pipe: Advanced tech

Crumb rubber from old tires can lower road noise and reduce need for road maintenance

Tue, 2014-04-22 07:15

With funding from The National Science Foundation (NSF), Magdy Abdelrahman, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at North Dakota State University, is experimenting with “crumb” rubber—ground up tires of different sized particles—and other components to improve the rubberized road materials that a number of states already are using to enhance aging asphalt.

It’s very durable. We mix it with different materials and in different percentages, and in different conditions, to find the best ways to add rubber to asphalt. —Magdy Abdelrahman

Asphalt rubber is the largest single market for ground rubber, consuming an estimated 220 million pounds, or approximately 12 million tires, according to the EPA. California and Arizona use the most asphalt rubber in highway construction, followed by Florida, the EPA says. Other states that are using asphalt rubber, or are studying its potential, include Texas, Nebraska, South Carolina, New York and New Mexico, according to the agency.

Ground tire rubber, when blended with asphalt, produces longer lasting road surfaces, and can lower road noise and the need for road maintenance.

Abdelrahman’s research involves studying interactions of crumb rubber with specific additives to evaluate and characterize the physical and chemical properties of the compounds. He also is trying to determine whether certain conditions, such as bad weather, will cause chemical releases from the recycled materials—from polymers, for example—and the potential impact on soil and groundwater.

Abdelrahman is conducting his work with an NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award, which he received in 2009. The award supports junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organization. NSF is funding his work with about $400,000 over five years.

The grant’s educational component is strongly tied to the research, through developing a graduate/senior course on recycled material applications with significant scientific components, and through faculty-professional focus meetings to exchange experiences in the area of recycled materials. He also plans to develop activities to recruit, train, and mentor students in the undergraduate and graduate programs, with the goal of preparing them for careers in recycled materials.

Renewable Energy Group has sold 1 billion gallons of biodiesel

Tue, 2014-04-22 06:45

Renewable Energy Group, Inc. (REG) announced that it has sold a cumulative one billion gallons of biodiesel during its 17-year history. The company started by marketing 30,000 gallons of biodiesel in 1996; last year, it sold more than 258 million gallons.

REG said that it achieved this milestone through investments in a fully integrated value chain including its manufacturing, sales & marketing, and supply chain management capabilities. The company also committed itself to research and development as well as continuous improvement, allowing it to streamline the production process and broadly expand the variety of raw materials used to make biodiesel.

REG was formed and began operating as an independent company in 2006, as the successor to the biodiesel operations of West Central Cooperative in Ralston, IA, which first began producing biodiesel from a one million gallon per year batch plant in 1996. Private investors, including West Central, provided capital enabling the company to grow, both organically and through acquisitions in California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, New Jersey and Texas. In January 2012, REG became a publicly traded company listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange and trades under the ticker REGI.

Plug Power and Hyundai Hysco sign MOU to form fuel cell JV in Asia

Tue, 2014-04-22 06:00

Plug Power Inc. signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Hyundai Hysco Co. Ltd. (Hysco) to create a joint venture partnership to develop and to sell hydrogen fuel cells in countries throughout Asia using Hysco’s advanced stack and plate technology.

Specifically, the proposed five-year joint venture will develop, manufacture and sell fuel cell solutions, products and stacks for applications in Asian markets. Under the terms of the MOU, the companies must finalize the details of the joint venture by 31 July 2014.

Hysco’s R&D Center was founded with the goal of developing advanced products, materials, molding techniques, coating and fluid floating technology, which includes work on fuel cell systems and fuel cell stacks with an emphasis on low cost stack plate technologies. Hysco has a significant presence in the Asian marketplace.

Plug Power manufactures and sells fuel cell units and hydrogen fueling solutions, and is a global leader in the material handling market. The company currently has a significant presence in North America, as well as in Europe, via its HyPulsion joint venture with Air Liquide.

Plug Power has more than 4,500 GenDrive fuel cell units deployed in the field with customers including Walmart, BMW, Coca-Cola, Lowes, Kroger, Mercedes-Benz, P&G, and Sysco.

Toyota Central R&D developing free-piston engine linear generator; envisioning multi-FPEG units for electric drive vehicles

Tue, 2014-04-22 05:59

Toyota’s FPEG features a hollow step-shaped piston, combustion chamber and gas spring chamber. Click to enlarge.

A team at Toyota Central R&D Labs Inc. is developing a prototype 10 kW Free Piston Engine Linear Generator (FPEG) featuring a thin and compact build, high efficiency and high fuel flexibility. Toyota envisions that a pair of such units (20 kW) would enable B/C-segment electric drive vehicles to cruise at 120 km/h (75 mph). The team presented two papers on the state of their work at the recent SAE 2014 World Congress in Detroit.

The FPEG consists of a two-stroke combustion chamber, a linear generator and a gas spring chamber. The piston is moved by the combustion gas, while magnets attached to the piston move within a linear coil, thereby converting kinetic energy to electrical energy. The main structural feature of the Toyota FPEG is a hollow circular step-shaped piston, which Toyota calls “W-shape”. The smaller-diameter side of the piston constitutes a combustion chamber, and the larger-diameter side constitutes a gas spring chamber.

Cartoon of the W-shape piston. Click to enlarge.

FPEGs are attractive for a number of reasons, the Toyota researchers note, including thermal efficiency, low friction, and low vibration. Two basic design approaches have emerged: the first is a structure with two opposed combustion chambers; the second, a structure with one combustion chamber and one gas spring chamber. In the latter approach, the gas spring chamber is responsible for returning the piston for the subsequent combustion event. This second configuration is the one selected by Toyota for further investigation by both numerical simulation and experimentation.

The Toyota FPEG is based on a double piston system; at one end is the combustion chamber, and at the other, the adjustable gas spring chamber. Burned gas is scavenged out through exhaust valves mounted in the cylinder head of the combustion chamber; fresh air is brought in through the scavenging port at the side wall of the cylinder liner.

A portion of the kinetic energy of the piston is stored in the gas spring, and extracted on the return stroke to the combustion chamber side. A magnetic “mover” is mounted at the outer periphery of the piston; the mover and the stator coils together comprise the linear generator component of the FPEG.

Animation of Toyota’s FPEG. Click image and video will launch in large separate window. Video played in embedded player on Toyota site is available here.

The “W-shape” piston design offers several advantages, Toyota says:

  • The larger cross-sectional area of the gas spring chamber leads to lower compression temperature of the gas spring chamber and consequently decreased heat loss.

  • The piston has a hollow structure and moves along a column stay, which in turn enables the construction of a cooling oil passage within the stay. The key technologies to deliver stable continuous operation of an FPEG are lubricating, cooling, and control logic. (The Toyota team’s second paper deals exclusively with the control system.)

  • The inner periphery of the hollow piston also serves as a sliding surface on the column stay, enabling a steady small clearance between the magnets and coil for improved generating efficiency.

  • The magnet is set far from the piston top, preventing magnet degaussing by heating.

The researchers developed a one-dimensional cycle simulation to investigate the performance of the proposed structure, and used it to assess spark ignition combustion (SI) and premixed charged compression ignition combustion (PCCI). They achieved output power of 10 kW with both SI and PCCI combustion cases; the PCCI combustion case realized 42% thermal efficiency.

They then constructed an FPEG prototype with a uni-flow scavenging type, two-stroke SI combustion system as an experimental study. They used ceramic-coated piston rings and cylinder liner they developed in order to ensure the smooth sliding of the piston even under insufficient lubrication. Poppet valves seated in a water-cooled cylinder head were actuated by hydraulic valve trains to control exhaust valve timing. Direct injection reduced unburned hydrocarbon emissions exhausted through the scavenging process.

A pressure regulating valve in the gas spring chamber enabled a variable gas mass, thereby varying the stiffness of the gas springs—one of the variables to shift the FPEG to different operating points.

The linear generator was a permanently excited synchronous machine consisting of the stationary coil, the mover (based on neodymium-iron-boron magnets) attached to the piston, and iron-cored stator. The poer electronics drive the machine as both a motor and a generator.

The researchers designed the prototype control system to ensure that the compression ratio was kept to the values which enable stable combustions—i.e., the generating load coefficient is variable, not constant. The coefficient is determined by a feedback control method based on the postion and velocity of the piston.

As there is no crank mechanism, the piston position in an FPEG is not defined with crank angle. However, knowing the piston position is critical not only to timings (fuel injection, ignition, opening/closing exhaust valves), but also to mode selections of driving or generating. To determine piston position, the Toyota researchers count plural-lines grooves engraved on the side surface of the piston body with gap sensors fixed on the inner wall of the cylinder block. (The detailed method of detecting and controlling piston position is the subject of the second paper.)

The generator control logic must meet the following requirements, according to the researchers:

  • Assuming a multi-unit vehicle application, the multiple FPEGs would cancel out vibration through a horizontally opposed layout; the frequency and phase of the piston oscillation should be controllable.

  • TDC and BDC need to be precisely controlled for stabilizing two-stroke combustion.

  • After knocking or misfire, the oscillation must continue robustly.

The prototype FPEG with W-shape piston and two-stroke SI combustion system achieved stable operation for more than 4 hours without any cooling and lubricating problems.

The experimental analysis also showed that the precise control of ignition position is essential for stable operation of the FPEG.

In future work, the research team plans to improve the power generation of the system and to perform a quantitative analysis of the efficiency.


  • Kosaka, H., Akita, T., Moriya, K., Goto, S. et al. (2014) “Development of Free Piston Engine Linear Generator System Part 1 - Investigation of Fundamental Characteristics,” SAE Technical Paper 2014-01-1203 doi: 10.4271/2014-01-1203

  • Goto, S., Moriya, K., Kosaka, H., Akita, T. et al. (2014) “Development of Free Piston Engine Linear Generator System Part 2 - Investigation of Control System for Generator,” SAE Technical Paper 2014-01-1193 doi: 10.4271/2014-01-1193

Harman and Tsinghua University establish joint research lab with focus on connected vehicles

Tue, 2014-04-22 05:00

Harman International Industries, Inc. has entered into an agreement with China’s Tsinghua University to establish a new joint research laboratory focused on creating disruptive innovations for future vehicles. Based in Beijing, the Harman-Tsinghua Automotive Innovation joint lab will focus on both technical and business considerations of the connected car, and ways to make cars more productive, intelligent, immersive, and safe.

Among the initial joint research topics, the Harman-Tsinghua Automotive Innovation lab will conduct research into the Chinese and global automotive market of the future, examining topics such as strategic market analysis, innovation in future infotainment technologies, and the intelligent use of audio technologies.

We see tremendous value in partnering with top thought leaders from different disciplines to inform our next generation systems. Because China is the fastest growing automotive market in the world, we believe the Chinese perspective will be extremely important as we develop solutions for future vehicles. We are excited about this new relationship and the work we will do to make our vehicles and our roads safer.—Dinesh C. Paliwal, Chairman, President, and CEO at Harman

Tsinghua University’s Automotive Engineering Department is a leader in research, with scientific programs focused on automotive safety, energy conservation, environmental protection, and strategy. The Harman-Tsinghua Automotive Innovation lab will work in close cooperation with the Tsinghua Automotive Strategy Research Institute (TASRI).

Under the initial three-year partnership, HARMAN will provide up to 4.5 million RMB (approximately US$700,000) to fund facilities, faculty, and student research. The new facility will allow for joint research projects, and for HARMAN staff to be located on-site with students and faculty.

Harman currently employs about 2,500 people in China, and maintains R&D and manufacturing facilities in Shanghai, Suzhou, Shenzhen, and Dandong.

EU-funded project develops diesel engine for light helicopters

Tue, 2014-04-22 04:10

EU-funded scientists developed a novel 320 kW (429 hp) diesel engine for light helicopters as an alternative to conventional turboshaft engines. The technology demonstrated substantial reductions in fuel consumption and emissions.

Helicopters conventionally employ a turboshaft engine that has a much better power-to-weight ratio compared to diesel engines. However, engine efficiency decreases dramatically with increasing altitude and it requires a large and heavy reduction gear to reduce main rotor speed to desired revolutions-per-minute. The EU-funded project “Diesel engine matching the ideal light platform of the helicopter” (DELILAH) developed a lightweight, high-power diesel engine that can also operate on biofuel.

The technical challenge has been to obtain the power-to-weight ratio taking into account helicopter requirements such as reliability and TBO [time between overhaul]. An optimal diesel engine has been chosen by selection procedure where ratings criteria will be based on performance, weight, size, fuel economy, emissions, multi-fuel capability, reliability, noise, technology, costs, integration, cooling, and drag.

… The engine weight is the crux of the project. The engine configuration has been selected from among several types of engines (in-line, V, opposed-piston, radial, Wankel) and cycle types (two-stroke or four-stroke). The V-8 engine has been defined as the optimal configuration. —DELILAH final report

The team conducted a multi-criteria analysis to develop the engine with the desired characteristics.Scientists focused on optimizing the design of a turbocharged diesel engine with self-ignition and an electronic control system. Their goal was to achieve substantial reductions in the emission of toxic substances, carbon dioxide (CO2) and noise.

To realize such an engine, the team employed extensive modeling to solve problems related to engine configuration design and integration with the rotorcraft. Scientists analysed the high-dimensional, dynamic, multi-body mechanical system and the adaptive control system to address issues related to vibration, noise, oscillations, engine control and response.

Comparison of flight scenarios demonstrated that the DELILAH optimal turbocharged diesel engine for light helicopters could potentially reduce fuel consumption by 50%. As a result, CO2 emissions were halved with 20x less carbon monoxide production and 229x less soot than conventional turboshaft engines.

The results are fully in line with the environmental impact reductions laid out by the Advisory Council for Aviation Research and Innovation in Europe (ACARE) for the year 2020. The engine is compatible with the use of alternative fuels such as 100% biofuel (B100), reducing dependence on fossil fuels and thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

arbcombo -- May 5, 2014 Sustainable Freight Strategy Public Forum

Mon, 2014-04-21 21:16
On May 5, 2014, the California Air Resources Board (ARB or Board) will hold a public forum for the development of the Sustainable Freight Strategy (Strategy).

newsclips -- Newsclips for April 21, 2014

Mon, 2014-04-21 18:34
ARB Newsclips for April 21, 2014.

arbcombo -- Notice of Public Meeting to Consider Approval of the 2014 Progress Report for the California Regional Haze Mid-Course Review

Mon, 2014-04-21 17:23
The Air Resources Board will conduct a public meeting at the time and place noted below to consider approval of the California Regional Haze Plan 2014 Progress Report for submittal to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.

Oak Ridge researchers pursuing in-cylinder reforming for control of advanced combustion

Mon, 2014-04-21 11:51

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are pursuing investigations into the use of a non-catalytic in-cylinder reforming process—i.e., the conversion of liquid hydrocarbon fuel to a hydrogen- and CO-rich syngas—potentially for controlling combustion phasing in homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI) and other forms of advanced combustion.

When fuel is injected during negative valve overlap (NVO) in O2-deficient conditions, a portion of the fuel is reformed to products containing H2 and CO. In a paper presented at the recent SAE 2014 World Congress, the ORNL team and colleague from Sandia National Laboratories reported on the chemistry of an NVO in-cylinder reforming process as experimentally determined from a single-cylinder engine. The Oak Ridge team plans to pursue the in-cylinder reforming technique in a multi-cylinder configuration in which one of the engine cylinders would act as the reformer, “essentially breathing in reverse compared to the other cylinders (breathing in from the exhaust manifold and exhausting into the intake system).”

In concept, the use of one cylinder to generate reformate for consumption in the other cylinders is similar to the approach being take by Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and its Dedicated-EGR (D-EGR) project. SwRI has implemented its in-cylinder reforming technology in a multi-cylinder engine, and installed it in a demonstrator. (Earlier post.)

In the SwRI D-EGR system, one cylinder is converted to operate under fuel-rich conditions to produce reformate with significant concentrations of H2 and CO. The reformate is exhausted to the intake of the remaining cylinders and consumed in spark-ignited (SI) combustion.

The SwRI D-EGR demonstrator—a converted 2012 Buick Regal with a 2.0-liter gasoline direct injection engine—shows improved engine efficiency and fuel consumption og at least 10% across the performance map, with some operating conditions seeing substantially higher improvements. The D-EGR engine offers efficiency similar to diesel engine (~40% BTE) but at half the cost; it also demonstrates the potential for meeting the very stringent LEV III/Tier 3 emissions.

The distinction in the ORNL concept is how the reformate is generated rather than how it is used. The SwRI approach uses fuel-rich combustion during partial oxidation to produce power. The conceptual ORNL approach requires input work from the crankshaft to the reforming cylinder rather than extracted from it. The applicability of this approach resides in the present study results which show that O2 deficient operation provides the possibility of chemistry that is more favorable to the overall system energy balance.

Specifically, the present approach may be a pathway toward a chemical reforming proces that is not thermodynamically expensive, and may even enable thermodynamic recuperation. It should be noted that this in-cylinder reforming process is being pursued at ORNL in a multi-cylinder configuration and results will be disclosed in future publications.—Szybist et al.
A comparison of the conceptualized ORNL approach to in-cylinder reforming (left) and the SwRI D-EGR approach (right). Source: Szybist 2013. Click to enlarge.

In the ORNL work reported at the World Congress, the team compared experimental results from two very different engine cycles and facilities. ORNL developed a unique 6-stroke engine cycle that continually exhausts gases following NVO recompression, allowing real-time chemical analysis. (The 6-stroke cycle is only for research purposes, not commercialization.)

The base engine was a highly modified GM 2.0L Ecotec SI engine with a stock direct injection system and an aftermarket port fuel injection (PFI) system. Three cylinders are disabled to allow single-cylinder operation; a custom piston increased compression ratio to 11.85, up from the stock 9.2.

The Oak Ridge team examined results form a range of operating conditions, including multiple fuels, varying exces O2, charge temperature, and NVO fuel injection timing.

To confirm the ORNL experimental results, colleagues at Sandia performed collaborative experiments. Sandia used a dump valve to capture the exhaust from a single NVO event for analysis.

The teams found that the results from the two experiments are in excellent trend-wise agreement and indicate that the reforming process under low-O2 conditions produces substantial concentrations of H2, CO, methane, and other short-chain hydrocarbon species.

Major findings of the study included:

  • Work has to be put into the in-cylinder non-catalytic reforming process. This is mainly attributable to heat transfer during NVO, but the reforming process under sufficiently low-O2 conditions also requires work input.

  • The concentration of reformate species exhibits a stronger dependency on fuel injection timing than on the available O2 or the exhaust temperature, indicating the fuel reforming is a kinetically-limited process.

  • NVO reforming does not require a large energy input from the engine. The majority of fuel energy can be recovered as reformate for advanced fuel injection timing conditions, indicating that this process may be thermodynamically inexpensive.

Application of the in-cylinder reforming technique investigated here will continue to be pursued by ORNL in a multi-cylinder configuration. In follow-on work, the reforming cylinder will breathe in from the exhaust manifold and exhaust into the intake. In that configuration, the advantageous fuel properties of reformate (i.e., improved anti-knock properties combined with improved dilution tolerance) will be utilized to determine if a sufficiently large efficiency benefit can be realized in the combustion cylinder to overcome the added friction and thermodynamic penalties associated with the NVO reforming process. —Szybist et al.


  • Szybist, J., Steeper, R., Splitter, D., Kalaskar, V. et al. (2014) “Negative Valve Overlap Reforming Chemistry in Low-Oxygen Environments,” SAE Int. J. Engines 7(1) doi: 10.4271/2014-01-118

  • James P. Szybist, Derek A. Splitter, Vickey Kalaskar, Josh A. Pihl, and C. Stuart Daw (2013) “An Investigation Of Non‐Catalytic In‐Cylinder Fuel Reforming,” SAE 2013 High Efficiency Internal Combustion Engine Symposium

Daimler-BYD JV unveils battery-electric DENZA at Auto China; 47.5 kWh pack; focus on safety

Mon, 2014-04-21 11:50

DENZA. Click to enlarge.

Shenzhen BYD Daimler New Technology Co., Ltd. (BDNT) officially unveiled its DENZA all-electric vehicle at Auto China 2014, in Beijing. The world premiere of the serial production model is the culmination of cooperative efforts at the 50:50 R&D technology joint venture established by Daimler and BYD back in 2010—the first Sino-German joint venture dedicated to an all-electric vehicle in China. (Earlier post.)

DENZA is powered by an 86 kW (peak) motor that provides a maximum speed of up to 150 km/h (93 mph) and peak torque of 290 N·m. With 47.5 kWh lithium iron phosphate battery capacity, DENZA has a range of up to 300 km (186 miles). In light of the fact that the average daily driving distance in China is 50 to 80 kilometers a day, the typical customer will only have to recharge DENZA twice a week. Driving 100 km with a DENZA costs less than 20 RMB (US$3.20).

DENZA has been designed around its lithium iron phosphate battery which is framed by a lightweight aluminium case with extrusion profiles. Designed to absorb large amounts of energy, it is located safely underneath the body. The layout also ensures that all powertrain components are separated from the passenger compartment.

Additionally, DENZA’s intelligent Power Flow Management System constantly monitors the energy flow between the battery and powertrain to guarantee that, in the event of an accident, the battery is disconnected automatically and, if needed, quickly discharges to levels below critical values.

As a forerunner in electric vehicle safety, BDNT worked closely with China’s official safety certification body, CATARC, to develop an electric vehicle safety standard for China. By also considering real life accident data, DENZA has gone further than these legal requirements.

The DENZA has been put through 18 months of intensive testing that saw various cars drive over 1.2 million kilometers (746,000 miles) across all of China under extreme and various weather and road conditions. This testing program, which looked at overall quality and endurance, was complemented by additional component testing and crash test programs. In total, BDNT crashed more than 20 cars, including high-speed, low-speed and rollover-scenarios.

DENZA also became the first electric vehicle to be tested according to C-NCAP consumer ratings at C-NCAP facilities, obtaining the highest possible rating of 5 stars.

Charging can be done at any household power outlet, public charging facilities or special wall boxes, with times ranging from seven hours to less than an hour. With the DENZA app, available for both Android and iOS phones, wall box customers can even check on their charging status and vehicle location using their smartphones.

Dedicated sales and service outlets from three of China’s leading automobile dealership groups will distribute the vehicle, initially in Beijing (Pangda Group); Shanghai (Lei Shing Hong Group); and Shenzhen (Zhongsheng Group). Phase 2 market cities will include Guangzhou, Hangzhou, and Tianjin.

DENZA’s customer commitment is further supported by 11 service centers, a 24-hours all-year customer service hotline, and a strategic partnership with global leading technology group ABB, with whom DENZA aims to establish the world’s largest charging infrastructure in China by 2020. (Earlier post.) ABB will provide a variety of flexible fast charging solutions for DENZA customers, per request and as a one-stop-solution as it is fully integrated in DENZA’s sales and aftersales process.

BDNT’s first DENZA car will be on the market in September 2014. Starting at RMB 369,000 (~$US59,000), DENZA offers its customers exemption from the standard license plate lottery in Beijing, or free license plates in Shanghai and Shenzhen; and central and local subsidies totaling up to almost RMB 120,000 (~US$19,000) that can be deducted from the vehicle price right away.

Study finds removing corn residue for biofuel production can decrease soil organic carbon and increase CO2 emissions; may miss mandated 60% GHG reduction

Mon, 2014-04-21 06:30

Contribution of modeled CO2 emissions from SOC to the life cycle of biofuel from corn residue. Error bars are ± one standard deviation. Liska et al. Click to enlarge.

Using corn crop residue to make ethanol and other biofuels reduces soil carbon and under some conditions can generate more greenhouse gases than gasoline, according to a major, multi-year study by a University of Nebraska-Lincoln team of researchers published in the journal Nature Climate Change. The findings cast doubt on whether biofuels produced from corn residue can be used to meet federal mandates for cellulosic biofuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 60% compared to gasoline.

The study, led by assistant professor Adam Liska, was funded through a three-year, $500,000-grant from the US Department of Energy, and used carbon dioxide measurements taken from 2001 to 2010 to validate a soil carbon model that was built using data from 36 field studies across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Using USDA soil maps and crop yields, they extrapolated potential carbon dioxide emissions across 580 million 30-meter by 30-meter geospatial cells in Corn Belt states.

Changes in SOC Changes in SOC occur via two dominant processes: soil erosion by water and wind; and soil respiration where SOC is oxidized to CO2. Crop residue conventionally has been left on the field after harvest to reduce soil erosion and maintain the SOC stocks and soil fertility of the Corn Belt. Liska et al. note that accurately measuring SOC change is limited due to high spatial variability in SOC stocks, inability to detect a small annual percentage change, short-term studies, and failure to express SOC results in an equivalent mass basis to account for changes in soil bulk density. Furthermore, when crop residue is removed, it is essential to determine whether SOC loss is due to erosion or respiration, to accurately estimate the resulting net CO2 emissions.

A massive amount of data was used to produce the results. Liska and his colleagues analyzed the data using high-performance computer clusters in the Holland Computing Center (HCC) at University of Nebraska-Lincoln that employ parallel programs to speed up computation. The uncompressed input data totalled ∼3 terabytes (TB) and the uncompressed output data totalled > 30 TB.

The program split each state’s input file into ∼40 megabyte (MB) files, and then executed computations on the smaller files in parallel. The output files were then joined together in a single state file, for each of the 12 states. If input files had not been split, the computational speed would have been significantly reduced owing to opening and closing of files and because loading an entire large disk file into memory at once is infeasible.

Removal of corn residue for biofuels can decrease soil organic carbon (SOC) and increase CO2 emissions because residue C in biofuels is oxidized to CO2 at a faster rate than when added to soil. Net CO2 emissions from residue removal are not adequately characterized in biofuel life cycle assessment (LCA). Here we used a model to estimate CO2 emissions from corn residue removal across the US Corn Belt at 580 million geospatial cells. To test the SOC model, we compared estimated daily CO2 emissions from corn residue and soil with CO2 emissions measured using eddy covariance with 12% average error over nine years.

The model estimated residue removal of 6 Mg per ha−1 yr−1 over five to ten years could decrease regional net SOC by an average of 0.47–0.66 Mg C ha−1 yr−1. These emissions add an average of 50–70 g CO2 per megajoule of biofuel (range 30–90) and are insensitive to the fraction of residue removed. Unless lost C is replaced, life cycle emissions will probably exceed the US legislative mandate of 60% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions compared with gasoline.—Liska et al.

The results showed that the states of Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin had the highest net loss of carbon from residue removal because they have cooler temperatures and more carbon in the soil.

Total annual production emissions, averaged over five years, would equal about 100 grams of carbon dioxide per megajoule—7% greater than gasoline emissions and 62 grams above the 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as required by the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. They found the rate of carbon emissions is constant whether a small amount of stover is removed or nearly all of it is stripped.

… development of other bioenergy systems, such as perennial grasses or forestry resources, may provide feedstocks that could have less negative impacts on SOC, GHG emissions, soil erosion, food security and biodiversity than from removal of corn residue.

Soil CO2 emissions from residue removal, however, can be mitigated by a number of factors and management options. As residue is a source of N2O emissions, residue removal would lower these emissions by ∼4.6 g CO2e MJ−1, or ∼8% of SOC emissions. The lignin fraction of residue can also potentially be burned to produce electricity, off-setting coal- generated electricity and saving emissions of up to ∼55g CO2e MJ−1. Furthermore, use of improved soil and crop management practices, such as no-till cover crops, forage-based cropping systems, animal manure, compost, biochar and biofuel co-products, could replace the estimated SOC loss after residue removal. These management options require more research under different residue removal practices to ensure SOC stocks are maintained where crop residue is removed.—Liska et al.

Liska said his team tried, without success, to poke holes in the study.

If this research is accurate, and nearly all evidence suggests so, then it should be known sooner rather than later, as it will be shown by others to be true regardless. Many others have come close recently to accurately quantifying this emission.—Adam Liska

Until now, scientists have not been able to fully quantify how much soil carbon is lost to carbon dioxide emissions after removing crop residue. They’ve been hampered by limited carbon dioxide measurements in cornfields, by the fact that annual carbon losses are comparatively small and difficult to measure, and the lack of a proven model to estimate carbon dioxide emissions that could be coupled with a geospatial analysis.

The research has been in progress since 2007, involving the coordinated effort of faculty, staff and students from four academic departments at UNL. Liska is an assistant professor of biological systems engineering and agronomy and horticulture. He worked with Haishun Yang, an associate professor of agronomy and horticulture, to adapt Yang’s soil carbon model, and with Andrew Suyker, an associate professor in the School of Natural Resources, to validate the model findings with field research. Liska also drew upon research conducted by former graduate students Matthew Pelton and Xiao Xue Fang. Pelton’s master’s degree thesis reprogrammed the soil carbon model, while Fang developed a method to incorporate carbon dioxide emissions into life cycle assessments of cellulosic ethanol.

Liska also worked with Maribeth Milner, a GIS specialist with the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, Steve Goddard, professor of computer science and engineering and interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and graduate student Haitao Zhu to design the computational experiment at the core of the paper. Humberto Blanco-Canqui, assistant professor of agronomy and horticulture, also helped to address previous studies on the topic.


  • Adam J. Liska, Haishun Yang, Maribeth Milner, Steve Goddard, Humberto Blanco-Canqui, Matthew P. Pelton, Xiao X. Fang, Haitao Zhu & Andrew E. Suyker (2014) “Biofuels from crop residue can reduce soil carbon and increase CO2 emissions,” Nature Climate Change doi: 10.1038/nclimate2187

SAE publishes technical paper on hydrogen fueling standard

Mon, 2014-04-21 06:09

SAE has published the technical paper on hydrogen fueling, and the SAE J2799 standard. (Earlier post.) The SAE J2601 (Hydrogen fueling standard) will be published, possibly within the next month.

In March, SAE International’s Fuel Cell Standards Taskforce reported the completion of two technical standards: SAE J2601, “Fueling Protocols for Light Duty Gaseous Hydrogen Surface Vehicles”; and SAE J2799, “Hydrogen Surface Vehicle to Station Hardware and Software”. The standards were created to harmonize hydrogen fueling worldwide for both 35 MPa and 70 MPa pressures.

A key to maximizing a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle’s driving range is to ensure that the fueling process achieves a complete fill to the rated Compressed Hydrogen Storage System (CHSS) capacity. An optimal process will safely transfer the maximum amount of hydrogen to the vehicle in the shortest amount of time, while staying within the prescribed pressure, temperature, and density limits.

The taskforce developed the SAE J2601 light duty vehicle fueling standard to meet these performance objectives under all practical conditions. The standard defines the fueling protocol and operational fueling parameters that ensure both station and vehicle maintain their safety limits, while delivering optimal fueling performance. The results of the standard allow a representative FCEV under the target conditions to be completely fueled within three minutes.

The team working on SAE J2601 performed extensive simulation and sensitivity studies which were validated through laboratory testing with representative CHSS hardware and field testing with fuel cell vehicles. The new SAE paper documents the lab and field validation testing for SAE J2601.


  • Schneider, J., Meadows, G., Mathison, S., Veenstra, M. et al., “Validation and Sensitivity Studies for SAE J2601, the Light Duty Vehicle Hydrogen Fueling Standard,” SAE Int. J. Alt. Power. 3(2) doi: 10.4271/2014-01-1990

Siemens and BAIC form JV to produce high efficiency electric powertrain systems for NEVs

Mon, 2014-04-21 06:08

Siemens AG and Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co., Ltd. (BAIC), one of the major Chinese carmakers, signed a joint venture agreement at the 2014 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition and outlined their plan to utilize Siemens’ electric drive train components in a range of BAIC new energy vehicles (NEVs).

The JV, Beijing Siemens Automotive E-Drive System Co., Ltd., will manufacture components for the electric drivetrain including power-electronics and electric motors. The new electric drivetrains consist of a safer and higher power density inverters and highly energy efficient motors. Prototype and small volume production will start in 2014, followed by mass production in a new Beijing-based factory in 2015. The production volume is planned to be more than 100,000 units per year with upside potential.

As the first customer of the new Siemens-BAIC joint venture, BAIC plans to utilize the electric power train products for its S, C and L car series. The performance scale of these models ranges from 45 to 200 kW.

This in-depth cooperation between BAIC and Siemens regarding EV motors is a big move for BAIC. We will develop NEVs via integrated global resources and continuous open and integrated innovation. This cooperation will bring the technology of BAIC’s NEV products to the next level. With world-leading motors as the core component, BAIC’s NEV cars, with the strength this partnership adds, will be distinguished even further during this important start-up phase for NEVs in China.— Xu Heyi, Chairman of BAIC

Siegfried Russwurm, member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG and CEO of Siemens Industry Sector, noted that the joint venture brings two strong brands together.

BAIC is a major player in one of the fastest growing markets for e-Mobility. Siemens is a global innovative pioneer for electric power train solutions. We will pave the way for a higher share of e-Mobility on tomorrow’s roads.—Siegfried Russwurm

Through EV technology and manufacturing, Beijing Siemens Automotive E-Drive System Co., Ltd. will contribute to Chinese government’s initiative in establishing higher environmental standards by pushing New Energy Vehicle (NEV) technologies, the partners said.

In 2013, BAIC Group sold about 2 million units, with sales revenue of RMB 266 billion (US$43 billion), and profit of RMB 16 billion (US$2.6 billion); it ranked 336 on the 2013 Fortune Global 500.

New Toyota TS040 HYBRIDs take 1st and 2nd at Six Hours of Silverstone in UK; new Porsche 919 Hybrid takes 3rd

Mon, 2014-04-21 05:30

Toyota Racing scored a one-two finish (#8 taking first, #7 second) from pole position in the Six Hours of Silverstone with its new TS040 HYBRIDs (earlier post) in a the first race of the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship season. Porsche’s new 919 Hybrid with two energy recovery systems (earlier post) posted a third its in its first race.

Track conditions varied from completely dry to torrential rain, which ultimately saw the race red flagged less than 30 minutes before the checkered flag. Rain initially came around the 40-minute mark. Both Toyota cars pitted for new tires, the #7 taking wets and the #8 taking hybrid intermediates. With the rain soon easing, hybrid intermediate tires proved the most effective.

Toyota’s #8 in front of Porsche’s #20. Click to enlarge.

Heavy rain hit the track with just over an hour remaining and the team responded by calling both cars in for wet tires.

The safety car was deployed with 40 minutes left before the race was ended early, with further running impossible in the wet conditions. That confirmed TOYOTA Racing’s sixth win from 15 WEC races, its second consecutive victory following its triumph in the 2013 season finale in Bahrain.

Toyota first competed in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) in 1983, marking the start of a long period of participation in endurance racing. TOYOTA cars have raced in 15 Le Mans 24 Hours races, achieving a best result of second place on four occasions (1992, 1994, 1999 & 2013).

TOYOTA entered the revived WEC in 2012, as Toyota Racing, with its first hybrid LMP1 car, the TS030 HYBRID. That car competed for two seasons, winning five races. It was designed and built by TOYOTA Motorsport GmbH (TMG), where the race team is based.

TMG is the former home of Toyota’s World Rally and Formula 1 works teams, and was responsible for design and operation of TOYOTA’s TS020 Le Mans car in 1998-99. TMG now combines motorsport participation with work as a high-performance engineering services provider to third party companies, as well as the Toyota family.

Porsche started with with two cars; one had to retire after 1 hour 15 minutes because of a technical problem.

The Porsche 919 Hybrid is equipped with two different energy recovery systems and is the most complex race car the sports car manufacturer has ever built; besides the kinetic energy recovery system (MGU-K) under braking, the 919 Hybrid recuperates thermal exhaust energy (MGU-H) when accelerating. It also serves as the fastest mobile research laboratory for future road cars.

919 Hybrid pit stop. Click to enlarge.

The combination of the two energy recovery systems was a step into unknown territory for Porsche and a unique feature in the entire WEC. When the driver recalls the stored energy from the liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery packs, an electric motor drives the two front wheels with more than 250 hp. This power adds to the over 500 hp combustion engine (downsizing 2.0 liters V4-cylinder, turbocharged with direct injection) and this way the two systems result in temporary all-wheel drive.

Considering how complex this completely new technology is, it is very positive to have finished the race with one car. The no. 20 Porsche 919 Hybrid ran trouble free. We will have to have a long look into the reasons for the retirement of car no. 14.—Alexander Hitzinger, Technical Director LMP1

I am really proud. This was a proper comeback to the highest class of endurance racing. Preparation, operation, discipline in the garage and at the wheel of the two Porsche 919 Hybrids have been very good. The race itself was fascinating and this shows me that the new WEC rules work well—despite or even because of the great technical freedom. Three manufacturers, three innovative hybrid systems and exciting competition on the highest level. For me this is motorsport that contributes to road car development.—Wolfgang Hatz, Board Member for Research and Development of Porsche AG

Volkswagen shows MQB-based New Midsize Coupé concept at Beijing

Mon, 2014-04-21 05:00

Among Volkswagen’s premieres at Auto China 2014 in Beijing was the MQB-based New Midsize Coupé concept car. The New Midsize Coupé is shorter than the Jetta but is wider than the Passat—thus qualifying for the mid-size segment. Volkswagen said that the concept—a fusion of A and B segments—demonstrates the flexibility of the MQB toolkit.

The design of the New Midsize Coupé gives an initial look at how Volkswagen Design envisions a sport sedan positioned below the Passat.

New Midsize Coupé, four-door design concept. Click to enlarge.

The concept features a 162 kW / 218 hp TSI engine. The 2-liter turbo gasoline injection engine accelerates the coupé to 100 km/h in 6.5 seconds. The concept car has a top speed of 244 km/h (152 mph). Thanks to the efficiency of the turbocharged engine, the similarly efficient 7-speed dual clutch gearbox, a still lower weight than the Jetta or Passat and a cD value of 0.299 (cD x A = 0.643 m2) the sports car performance is accompanied by fuel consumption of 6.4 l/100 km (36.8 mpg US).

New Midsize Coupé, four-door design concept. Click to enlarge.

The controls, including the multifunction sports steering wheel and the infotainment system, are based on MQB-A (Modular Transverse Matrix A) and have thus been adapted from the current Golf. Combined with the axles and the width of MQB-B (the modules of the next larger vehicle class), the result is spacious conditions not just in the passenger compartment, but in the trunk as well, with a capacity of 500 liters (17.7 ft3.

GM’s China JVs investing $12B between 2014-2017 to expand; GM outlines China market trends

Mon, 2014-04-21 04:54

In conjunction with the start of Auto China 2014 in Beijing, GM China President Matt Tsien announced that GM’s China joint ventures will make capital expenditures of about $12 billion between 2014 and 2017. That investment will help GM step up its pace by funding facility and capacity expansion and new product programs. China has been GM’s largest market since 2010, last year accounting for about one-third of its global sales.

Some of the $12 billion investment will fund the launch of more than 60 new and upgraded vehicles coming to market through 2018. GM’s focus will be on answering the growing demand for luxury vehicles, SUVs, multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) and smaller passenger cars.

This year the company is launching the new Cadillac CTS midsize luxury sedan, two new SUVs (the Chevrolet Trax and a new midsize entry from Buick), the Baojun 730 seven-seat family vehicle and 610 hatchback, upgraded versions of the Buick Enclave and GL8 as well as a next-generation Chevrolet Cruze.

Investments in GM’s quality growth will include the opening of five new manufacturing facilities by the end of 2015: four vehicle assembly plants and one powertrain plant. With additional facility expansion between 2014 and 2020, GM China’s manufacturing capacity will increase by 65%.

GM is also continuing to expand its presence in the central and western regions of the country. These areas already represent about 45 percent of GM’s domestic sales. GM will add dealerships and manufacturing facilities in these regions, including plants in Wuhan and Chongqing by the end of 2015.

Tsien and General Motors President Dan Ammann also discussed some of the trends shaping China’s auto industry in the next few years, including:

  • Luxury vehicles are expected to make up at least 10 percent of auto sales by 2020, and GM will add one new Cadillac per year through 2016.

  • The SUV market will reach 7 million by 2020, or triple what it is today. GM will add 11 new SUVs between now and 2018.

  • MPV sales will likely double to 2.8 million by 2020, from about 1.4 million last year. GM has demonstrated success in this area, with the Buick GL8 and Wuling Hongguang series and more entries to come from its other brands.

  • In 2020 compact sedans will still be the most popular segment, with about 10M annual sales. GM offers the Buick Excelle family, Chevrolet Cruze and Baojun 630 and has more new models in the segment under development.

  • Within six years, replacement or repeat purchases in China could exceed two-thirds of industry demand, compared to one-third today. This trend is expected to drive demand for more diverse offerings.

One means for GM and its joint ventures to achieve their ambitious growth plans is by creating new vehicle technologies locally. The Research and Development team at GM’s Advanced Technical Centers in Shanghai recently developed a magnesium alloy Vertical Squeeze Casting (VSC) machine—the first designed for developing next-generation magnesium castings—which are 30% lighter than aluminum parts and can improve a vehicle’s fuel economy by as much as 7% for every 150-kilogram reduction in weight. (Earlier post.)

GM will also continue to strengthen its focus on innovation through its Pan Asia Technical Center (PATAC) joint venture, which will open a new facility in Shanghai next year, and the GM China Advanced Technical Center in Shanghai.

Helping make the local community greener, safer and healthier is another key focus, Tsien explained. GM will maintain its support of corporate social responsibility initiatives across China such as the three-year GM Restoring Nature’s Habitat Project, which is helping protect key wetlands in eastern China. GM is also supporting the Chevrolet Red Chalk Program to educate children in rural areas.

The company’s Safe Road Project, which is educating drivers and other road users on proper road safety, will be expanded in June with the launch of a new project to help increase children’s safety in and around cars.

GM has 12 joint ventures, two wholly owned foreign enterprises and more than 58,000 employees in China. GM and its joint ventures offer the broadest lineup of vehicles and brands among automakers in China. Passenger cars and commercial vehicles are sold under the Baojun, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Jiefang, Opel and Wuling brands. In 2013, GM sold nearly 3.2 million vehicles in China.

Volvo Cars: China may replace US as its largest market this year

Sun, 2014-04-20 07:27

China is poised to replace the US as Volvo Car Group’s (Volvo Cars) largest market in 2014 with sales of at least 80,000 cars, up from 61,146 in 2013, the company said. Sales in the US in 2014 are expected to increase in line with the broader market.

The emergence of China as Volvo Cars’ leading market represents an important step towards the company’s long term goal of selling 800,000 cars a year; this would break a 20-year cycle during which it has consistently sold around 400,000 cars a year.

The premium segment of the car market in China is forecast to grow by 20% this year. Volvo Cars expects to outpace this growth, indicating it is gaining market share from its competitors. Volvo Cars’ confidence is borne out by first quarter sales figures for the China market, which reveal sales rose 25.4% compared to the first quarter of 2013, to 17,286 cars.

During the first quarter, the Volvo XC60 SUV was the best-selling model, followed by the S60L long wheelbase sedan and V40 hatchback. The sales start of the V40 Cross Country as well as an ongoing expansion of the dealer network will further support Volvo Cars’ continued growth in China.

At the Beijing Motor Show, Volvo Cars also officially introduced the Volvo S60L Petrol Plug-in Hybrid (PPHEV) (earlier post), underlining its commitment to bringing electrification technology to China.

The S60L PPHEV features the same electrification technology as the Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid, the world’s first diesel plug-in hybrid, which has been successful in Europe.

The S60L Petrol Plug-in Hybrid will be launched in China early 2015. The car will be built in the Chengdu plant, which already now produces the gasoline-powered Volvo S60L.

The first car to be assembled in the Daqing plant in northeastern China will be the Volvo XC Classic, a locally-built variant of the current Volvo XC90, production of which in the Torslanda plant in Sweden will cease this summer. The XC Classic will be sold solely in the Chinese market after its launch later this year. Other models to be built in the Daqing plant will be confirmed at a later stage.

Lexus introduces new NX compact crossover and hybrid; first twin scroll turbocharger in lineup

Sun, 2014-04-20 07:01

2015 Lexus NX 300h. Click to enlarge.

Lexus introduced the NX compact crossover and hybrid at the 2014 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition. (Earlier post.) The all-new NX is Lexus’ first entry into the luxury compact crossover segment.

The Lexus NX compact crossover offers the brand’s first gasoline turbo engine in the NX 200t. The 2.0L NX 200t turbo will balance fuel economy with responsive acceleration and agility and will be available in the US market along with the NX 300h hybrid. The availability of NX model range, including the NX 200 with a naturally aspirated engine, will vary by market.

Positioned below the RX, the new NX model will provide an exciting entry point into the Lexus crossover and luxury utility vehicle family. Its expressive design and turbocharged performance embody the technology and design focused direction customers can expect from Lexus.—Jeff Bracken, Lexus group vice president and general manager
New 2.0L direct injection turbo. Click to enlarge.

The NX 200t will use the all-new 2.0-liter turbo direct injection gasoline engine matched to a six-speed automatic transmission specially tuned for the NX. The six-speed automatic transmission features new torque-demand control logic, which calculates required engine torque and maximizes it.

The Lexus-developed direct-injection turbo engine features the first combination of a cylinder head with an integrated water-cooled exhaust manifold and a twin scroll turbocharger. This combination in addition to other new technologies such as a turbo-specific D-4ST fuel injection technology and continuous variable valve timing with expanded valve opening angles (VVT-iW) realizes both an excellent ride and environmental performance.

The 2.0-liter NX is also the first non-hybrid Lexus to be fitted with an idling-stop system, which reduces fuel consumption by automatically switching off the engine when the vehicle is idling. The system used in the NX has extremely fast engine-restart time.

The new Lexus 2.0-liter turbo engine was tested extensively on various road conditions and harsh environments. The NX 200t produces 235 hp (175 kW) and 258 lb-ft (350 N·m) of torque.

The NX 300h hybrid adopts the Lexus Hybrid Drive with a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle engine, generator, motor and battery. Special features of the hybrid model include sprung-weight damping control to increase ride comfort and handling stability by reducing pitching on uneven road surfaces.

2015 Lexus NX 300h. Click to enlarge.   2015 Lexus NX 300h. Click to enlarge.

The NX 300h hybrid delivers total system power of 194 hp (145 kW).

China and Russia will offer the NX 200. A naturally aspirated 2.0-liter Valvematic variable valve mechanism gasoline engine matched to a Sequential-Continuously Variable Transmission (S-CVT)/Multi-drive transmission will power the NX 200.

The Lexus Valvematic system provides high torque through an expanded valve opening angle and Variable Valve Timing (VVT) operation range.

The 2.0-liter powerplant has a high compression ratio and diagonal fuel injectors, which optimizes fuel mixture to produce strong power through the rev-range.

The NX has been designed for agile driving, handling stability, turning posture and ride comfort, including yaw-rate response to steering input and stability on uneven road surfaces.

The NX features a highly rigid body with extensive underbody reinforcement. The new body has a comprehensive package of reinforcements, additional bulkheads and spot welding, suspension braces, and the use of Lexus body adhesive, laser-screw welding and high-rigidity glass adhesive.

NX F SPORT models will have newly developed performance dampers to further enhance handling stability.

The NX has an array of innovative on-board technology, including an available Lexus-first Wireless Charging Tray which enables Qi compatible phones to be charged. Other available technology includes the first application of a new Lexus Remote Touch Interface with a touch pad; Pre-Collision System with All-speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control; Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert; power folding rear seat and Lane Departure Alert. The standard-equipped Multi-information Display features an available Lexus-first G sensor and boost meter.

The Lexus NX will go on sale globally in the second half of 2014, and appear in US showrooms in the fall of 2014. Both US models, NX 200t and NX 300h, will be available in front-wheel-drive and all-weather-drive.

Volkswagen Group launching major electro-mobility campaign in China; $25B on new vehicles, technologies and plants up to 2018

Sun, 2014-04-20 05:09

The Volkswagen Group is launching a major electro-mobility campaign in China—the the biggest initiative for e-mobility in China’s automotive history, said Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen AG, on the eve of the Auto China motor show in Beijing. The initiative gets underway with the launch this year of the Volkswagen brand’s battery-electric e-up! (earlier post) and e-Golf (earlier post) models.

The Porsche Panamera S E-hybrid plug-in hybrid (earlier post) is already in the showrooms in China; the Group will launch two further plug-in hybrid vehicles there next year with the Audi A3 e-tron (earlier post) and the Golf GTE (earlier post). Starting in 2016, this will be followed by two models developed specially for the Chinese market: These are the Audi A6 (earlier post) and a new mid-size limousine from the Volkswagen brand, both plug-in hybrids which are being developed together with the joint venture partners FAW Volkswagen and Shanghai Volkswagen and will be produced locally.

Furthermore, the Bentley Hybrid Concept opens a window on the broad-ranging potential of hybrid technology. (Earlier post.)

All these vehicles are highly efficient and eco-friendly. And at the same time they offer lots of driving pleasure. That is exactly what people all over the world and here in China expect of the Volkswagen Group. Thanks to the modular strategy, which is also being implemented at our Chinese factories, we can electrify nearly every model in our range: From small cars to large sedans, from pure electric drives to plug-in hybrids. Here in China, we are now setting out on the road to a future of emission-free mobility.—Martin Winterkorn

As a result, the Volkswagen Group is making its Chinese vehicle fleet ever more efficient. 17 Group models already meet the updated legal requirements set by the Chinese authorities to qualify as “especially energy-efficient vehicles.”

To that end, the two joint venture partners FAW Volkswagen and Shanghai Volkswagen are investing more than ever before in advanced vehicles and drives, green technologies and resource-efficient plants: €18.2 billion (US$25.1 billion) up to 2018.

Over the coming years, more than 20,000 new skilled jobs will be created in China alone.

In addition, the Group’s dealer network will see significant growth and increase by 50% from the present approximately 2,400 dealerships to more than 3,600. More than 500,000 people will then be employed by the Volkswagen Group’s Chinese dealer organization. This year alone, the Group brands will be putting more than 30 new models, successor models and product upgrades in Chinese showrooms.

Winterkorn also said that China is the Volkswagen Group's largest single market and plays a key role in the Group’s Strategy 2018. For 2014, Volkswagen Group is again targeting double-digit growth in China and is aiming to deliver more than 3.5 million vehicles to customers for the first time in a calendar year, Winterkorn said.

Globally, the Group is aiming to deliver more than 10 million vehicles worldwide for the first time; achieving that would mean the quantitative target of Strategy 2018 would have been reached four years earlier than planned.

China will be an integral part of the Group’s “Future Tracks” initiative, which addresses the nascent digitalization era in the auto industry. (Earlier post.)