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ACC's 'Roadmap' gaining traction

Pipe: Passenger vehicles - Thu, 2015-01-22 14:18
With Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards set to hit 54.5 mpg in 2025, plastics and polymer composite suppliers to the automotive industry ...

Can you save money at the bowser by only half-filling the fuel tank?

Pipe: Passenger vehicles - Thu, 2015-01-22 13:56
To answer this we need to look at the fuel economy of the car. This is often quoted as litres per 100km, say, 6L/100km (typical for a small car running ...

New Opel diesels for Mokka and Insignia

Pipe: Advanced tech - Thu, 2015-01-22 13:50

1.6 CDTI with 100 kW/136 hp for Opel Mokka. Click to enlarge.

Opel is introducing two new generation four-cylinder Opel diesels for Mokka and Insignia: the 1.6-liter CDTI (also seen in Astra and Meriva) in the Mokka and a 125 kW/170 hp 2.0-liter CDTI in the Insignia. The engines, which already meet the Euro 6 standards that will be compulsory from September, are another important step in the roll-out of Opel’s new powertrain portfolio.

The all-aluminum 1.6-liter CDTI for the Mokka sub-compact SUV will replace the 1.7 CDTI. The new engine gives more power and torque—up 6 hp and 20 N·m, respectively—from a smaller displacement, as well as significantly lower fuel consumption. The 1.6 CDTI in the 100 kW/136 hp version reaches 85 hp per liter—unrivaled in its displacement class, according to Opel—and delivers torque of 320 N·m.

Opel’s hot Mokka The Mokka sub-compact SUV has proven to be a hit for Opel. In October 2014, the company reported that in the two years since being brought to market, the sub-compact SUV had been ordered 300,000 times, with the latest 100,000 orders recorded in the prior seven months. The Mokka is the third most sold car in the Opel rankings behind Corsa and Astra but ahead of Insignia and Zafira.

The Mokka 1.6 CDTI accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in 9.9 seconds, and makes the transition from 80 to 120 km/h in fifth gear in just 9.9 seconds. Maximum speed is 191 km/h (119 mph). With Opel’s six-speed manual transmission and standard Start/Stop system, the 1.6 CDTI Mokka consumes 4.1 l/100 km (57 mpg US) over the combined cycle while emitting only 109 g/km CO2. This is almost 0.5 l/100 km less fuel and 11 g/km less CO2 than the predecessor 1.7 liter version.

The two-liter turbo diesel in the Insignia has a specific output of 87 hp per liter—a slightly higher power density than Opel’s new-generation 1.6 CDTI. Torque of 400 N·m is available from 1,750 to 2,500 rpm, and maximum power of 125 kW/170 hp is accessed at just 3,750 rpm.

The new powerhouse delivers around 4% more power and 14% more torque while maintaining exactly the same consumption as it predecessor and meeting Euro 6 emission standards. The Insignia with the new engine reaches a maximum speed of 225 km/h (140 mph): an increase of 5 km/h. The sedan accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in just 9.0 seconds – almost half a second quicker than its predecessor.

Two of the main contributors to the performance of both engines are the VGT (variable geometry turbine) turbocharger and the high-pressure, common-rail fuel injection system.

  • The VGT in the Insignia features an electrical actuator for the variable aspect turbine, giving a 20% faster boost response than a vacuum actuator.

  • Injectors capable of supplying fuel at 2,000 bar and of up to 10 injection pulses per cylinder cycle ensure high power, improved fuel atomization and efficient mixing with the air intake charge.

The 1.6 CDTI in the Mokka uses a Lean NOx Trap (LNT), an exhaust after-treatment system upstream of the diesel particulate filter that captures and removes nitrogen oxides (NOx) from the exhaust gases without the use of additives.

2.0 CDTI with 125 kW/170 hp for Opel Insignia. Click to enlarge.

The Insignia comes with Opel’s BlueInjection selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system, which removes nitrogen oxide from the engine’s exhaust gases. Tiny quantities of AdBlue, a fluid consisting of urea and water, are injected into the exhaust gas flow ahead of the SCR catalyst and downstream of the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF). The solution is immediately converted into ammonia (NH3), which is absorbed by the SCR catalyst. Nitrogen oxide in the passing exhaust gas is then selectively reduced to nitrogen and water vapor in a chemical reaction with the ammonia.

Apart from increasing performance and efficiency, the improvement of running smoothness was a key requirement for the new engines right from the outset of their design. The engineers implemented several measures during construction and fine-tuning to reduce the noise levels and vibrations of the engine thus improving refinement. Architectural improvements focused on two main noise-emitting areas: the top and bottom of the engine and ranged from a decoupled, cam cover on the aluminum cylinder head over a newly designed oil sump to a new balancer shaft module for the two-liter diesel.

The new 2.0 CDTI thus features reduced noise levels in every rpm range compared to its predecessor and is five decibels quieter when idling.

Chevrolet to begin selling Spark EV in Maryland

Pipe: Advanced tech - Thu, 2015-01-22 13:16

Chevrolet will start selling the Spark EV in Maryland this spring, the electric mini-car’s first entry into the East Coast market. The Spark EV delivers an EPA-estimated combined city/highway 119 MPGe fuel economy equivalent and 82 miles of EPA-estimated combined city/highway range.

The Spark EV is also sold in California and Oregon, where sales totaled 1,145 in 2014. Spark EV is priced as low as $17,845, after federal and Maryland tax credits, and it features a locally sourced electric motor and drive unit, manufactured at General Motors’ Baltimore Operations facility in White Marsh, Md.

Chevrolet requires service training certification before a dealer is authorized to sell the Spark EV because of its unique propulsion system.

The GM-built motor and drive unit deliver 327 lb-ft (444 nm) of torque, enabling a 0-60 time of 7.2 seconds. With a 12.2-foot overall length and a tight 33.8-foot turning radius, Spark EV is suited for the tight confines of city streets and parking spaces.

Three available levels of recharging capability include the industry’s first use of the recently approved SAE combo charger for DC fast charging, which charges 80% of the battery in just 20 minutes. Aero refinements, unique wheels and tires and active shutter system on the grille opening help extend the Spark EV’s range. Storing that energy from the charging process and the vehicle’s regenerative braking capability is a 19 kWh lithium-ion battery pack.

VW, BMW and ChargePoint partner to create SAE Combo DC fast charging corridors on the East and West Coasts

Pipe: Advanced tech - Thu, 2015-01-22 13:01

In a major boost to the availability of public fast charging stations with SAE Combo connectors (J1772, earlier post), Volkswagen of America and BMW of North America, together with ChargePoint, the largest electric vehicle charging network, announced at the Washington Auto Show an initiative to create more express charging corridors along heavily-traveled routes on the East and West Coasts.

In the initial phase, the aim is to install nearly 100 DC Fast charging ports across both coasts, with plans to expand the program to increase access to fast charging across the country. The installations will occur both within and between relevant metro areas, strategically spaced at a maximum of 50 miles (80 km) apart. Each fast charging location along the express charging corridors is expected to include up to two 50 kW DC fast chargers or 24 kW DC fast chargers with the SAE Combo connector. The 50 kW fast chargers will also have a CHAdeMO connector available, according to Volkswagen, while the 24 kW units will be SAE Combo only, at least to start.

The SAE Combo connector is used in both BMW and Volkswagen electric vehicles as well as the Chevrolet Spark EV, with more applications anticipated. These newly installed DC Fast chargers will be added to the growing ChargePoint network of more than 20,000 charging spots in North America.

All three companies are making a significant investment to achieve the goal of nearly 100 fast charging ports by the end of 2015. The partners say they expect additional private and public funding to expand this program nationally.

Public fast charging in the US. There are three fast charging standards currently active in the US: the Japan-developed CHAdeMO (used e.g. in the Nissan LEAF, Kia Soul EV, Mitsubishi i-MiEV); the Tesla Supercharger (used in the Model S); and now the SAE Combo, used by BMW, VW, and GM (Spark EV).
Tesla continues to build out its network of Supercharger fast charging stations, which are well represented along the East and West coasts.
A variety of initiatives have established CHAdeMO charging corridors in the US as well—again, well represented on both coasts.
According to the most recent (22 Jan 2015) figures from US DOE, there are 1,344 CHAdeMO DC fast charging connectors active in the US, excluding private stations; 908 Tesla Supercharger connectors; and 208 SAE J1772 connectors. All maps from DOE AFDC, with data as of 22 Jan 2015. Click to enlarge.

The express charging corridors will provide electric vehicle drivers access to SAE DC Fast chargers along the most heavily populated and highly-trafficked regions on Interstate 95 on the east coast, from Boston to Washington, D.C., and on the west coast covering and connecting the metropolitan areas of Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

When charging at a 50 kW station, both the BMW i3 and the Volkswagen e-Golf can charge up to 80% in 20 minutes. Both vehicles can charge up to 80% in 30 minutes at a 24 kW station. Locations will also include Level 2 chargers, currently the most commonly available public charging stations, which are compatible with all electric vehicles. Level 2 stations can dispense up to 25 miles of range per hour of charging, providing a full charge for the BMW i3 and the VW e-Golf within 3.5 to 4 hours.

DC charging the BMW i3 (left) and Volkswagen e-Golf (right). Click to enlarge.

A robust network of conveniently located DC Fast charging stations will go a long way toward increasing electric vehicle adoption and making electric vehicle ownership even more enjoyable. The express charging corridors are another important step in the development of the US e-mobility infrastructure that makes longer distance travel a real option for consumers, particularly along the most heavily trafficked portions of both coasts—making the BMW i3 and other electric vehicles even more appealing.—Robert Healey, Head of EV Infrastructure at BMW of North America

Volkswagen believes in a holistic approach to e-mobility in order to create a seamless experience for the consumer. The investment in the express charging corridor will provide e-Golf and other electric vehicle owners with the added support to travel their day-to-day and popular long distance routes.—Jörg Sommer, vice president, product marketing and strategy, Volkswagen of America

The DC Fast charging stations will be part of the ChargePoint network and can be easily accessed with a ChargePoint or ChargeNow card or with the ChargePoint mobile app.

Average Gas Prices Drop Below $2 in 27 States

Pipe: Passenger vehicles - Thu, 2015-01-22 12:15
That figure would seem hard to quantify given the broad range of pump prices across the country, wide differences in fuel economy among vehicles ...

Fleet maintenance: Diesel fuel treatment improves mileage, performance

Pipe: Passenger vehicles - Thu, 2015-01-22 11:52
The result is better fuel economy and less black smoke, as well as protection against fuel system corrosion and premature wear of pumps and injectors ...

Jeep, BMW and Ford win Green Car honors

Pipe: Passenger vehicles - Thu, 2015-01-22 11:43
The BMW i3 with range extender gets a fuel economy rating of 117 MPGe and 39 miles per gallon (in gas mode) with a 72-mile EV range. The EV-only ...

Small drop in sea level had big impact on southern Great Barrier Reef

Pipe: Climate and Health - Thu, 2015-01-22 10:32
A small drop in sea level 2000 years ago on the southern Greater Barrier Reef led to a dramatic slowdown in the coral reef's growth, research shows. The researchers analyzed samples from One Tree Reef in the southern Great Barrier Reef. They radiocarbon dated sediment cores from the lagoons of the coral reef to calculate sand infilling. Sea level change was calculated by dating fossil samples from micro-atolls.

Wrangler could become Chrysler's first hybrid

Pipe: Passenger vehicles - Thu, 2015-01-22 10:11
Chrysler's vehicles posted a mediocre 21.1 mpg average fuel economy last year, compared with an industry average of 24.2, said.

Green Biologics secures $76M in financing; repurposing MN ethanol plant for n-butanol and acetone

Pipe: Advanced tech - Thu, 2015-01-22 10:01

Green Biologics (GBL) closed an internal follow-on equity round of $42 million co-led by Swire Pacific Limited and Sofinnova Partners. Existing investors Capricorn Venture Partners, Oxford Capital Partners, Morningside Technology Partners and ConvergInce Holdings, LLC also participated in the round. In addition to the $42-million internal equity round, an additional $34 million in funding was raised predominantly in debt financing from Tennenbaum Capital Partners (TCP), along with equity and debt investment rolled over by existing members of Central MN Ethanol Co-op LLC (CMEC) in Central MN Renewables LLC (CMR), a US affiliate of GBL.

This $76-million financing follows GBL’s previous equity round of $25 million in December 2013, bringing GBL’s total fund raising to just over $100 million since late 2013.

On 23 December 2014, GBL announced the acquisition of the assets of CMEC, a 21-million gallon per year ethanol producer in Little Falls, Minnesota through its CMR affiliate. In addition to the acquisition, the proceeds of the round will be utilized by GBL to repurpose the Minnesota plant to produce n-butanol and acetone, along with funding GBL’s advanced technology process technology platform.

Green Biologics Ltd (GBL) is a renewable chemicals company based in Abingdon, England with a wholly owned US operating company, Green Biologics Inc., based in Gahanna, Ohio. GBL’s Clostridium fermentation platform converts a wide range of sustainable feedstocks into green chemicals such as n-butanol, acetone, and through chemical synthesis, derivatives of butanol and acetone used by a growing global consumer and industrial products customer base.

Hyundai & Kia Fined $360 Million For Faulty MPG Claims (None Of Which Will Fund Electric Cars)

Pipe: Passenger vehicles - Thu, 2015-01-22 10:00
... 2012, and 2013 that failed to meet their stated fuel economy. The underachievers included the Hyundai Accent, Azera, Elantra, Genesis, Santa Fe, ...

Eurotunnel warning over MyFerryLink sale

Pipe: Aviation - Thu, 2015-01-22 09:44
Channel tunnel operator says it may have to dispose of bare assets

Toyota increasing production of Mirai fuel cell vehicle

Pipe: Advanced tech - Thu, 2015-01-22 09:37

Toyota Motor Corporation will increase production of the Mirai fuel cell sedan, which launched in Japan on 15 December 2014. The new plan calls for production to increase from the 2015 level of 700 units to approximately 2,000 units in 2016 and approximately 3,000 units in 2017.

Considering the approximately 1,500 orders received in the first month of sales in Japan, and the upcoming launches in Europe and the United States later this year, Toyota decided that the supply structure should be adjusted to reflect the level of demand for the vehicle.

Toyota will formulate sales plans for Japan, the US and Europe following the production increases taking into consideration each region’s level of hydrogen infrastructure development, energy policies, car-purchasing subsidies, consumer demand, environmental regulations, and other factors.

The Honda HR-V Dominates With 35 MPG

Pipe: Passenger vehicles - Thu, 2015-01-22 09:37
Of course, this is all pending the final fuel economy numbers for the HR-V's upcoming rivals in the Mazda CX-3, Fiat 500X and Jeep Renegade.

Cadillac to unveil CT6 on March 31

Pipe: Passenger vehicles - Thu, 2015-01-22 09:37
... to the brand later this year and will greatly expand the use of cylinder deactivation to improve fuel economy to both four- and six-cylinder engines.

U.S. consumers to save big on gasoline costs

Pipe: Passenger vehicles - Thu, 2015-01-22 09:30
Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards drive fuel economy for cars and light trucks produced for sale in the United States. Improved fuel ...

Oil price to blunt efficiency drive?

Pipe: Passenger vehicles - Thu, 2015-01-22 09:03
Fuel economy has improved by 25 percent since 2004, according to the EPA. And the number of kilometres driven peaked in 2007 and was still almost ...

Outdoors commentary: Survival, nature and economics

Pipe: Passenger vehicles - Thu, 2015-01-22 09:03
... of “greenhouse gases” entering the atmosphere, boost farm income and keep auto companies from having to alter anything but fuel economy. Thus ...

COLUMN-US drivers put oil market on road to recovery: Kemp

Pipe: Passenger vehicles - Thu, 2015-01-22 09:02
Car buyers are also opting for vehicles which get fewer miles to the gallon. Adjusted average fuel economy for new cars purchased in December was ...