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Ford of Europe announced that the a new S-MAX will be the first Ford worldwide to offer Intelligent Speed Limiter, a new technology that scans traffic signs and adjusts the throttle to help drivers stay within legal speed limits and avoid fines.
Intelligent Speed Limiter for the first time combines the two current Ford technologies Adjustable Speed Limiter and Traffic Sign Recognition, which are both already available on models including Focus, all-new Mondeo, and Kuga SUV. Drivers can choose between speed limiting systems in the vehicle menu using the steering wheel controls, and activate them using the speed system controls.
Maximum speed for Intelligent Speed Limiter can be set and then raised or lowered in 5 km/h (5 mph) increments. Between 30-200 km/h (20-120 mph) the technology utilises speed limit information from the Traffic Sign Recognition system. In vehicles equipped with onboard navigation, Intelligent Speed Limiter also uses map data for improved accuracy.
Intelligent Speed Limiter allows drivers to set a speed tolerance of up to 10 km/h (5 mph) above the detected speed limit. The system does not apply the brakes but smoothly controls engine torque by electronically adjusting the amount of fuel delivered. If the S‑MAX overruns the set maximum speed because of a downhill gradient, an alarm is sounded. Drivers can temporarily override the system by pressing firmly on the accelerator.
Intelligent Speed Limiter also communicates with the onboard navigation system to help accurately maintain the appropriate maximum speed when distances between speed limit signs are greater, for example on long country roads. Drivers can temporarily override the system by firmly depressing the accelerator pedal.
Speed limiting technology was last year specified on around two-thirds of Ford vehicles for which it was available—proving popular with drivers who want to ensure they avoid incurring speeding fines by unintentionally exceeding the speed limit. Intelligent Speed Limiter makes that even easier. —Stefan Kappes, active safety supervisor, Ford of Europe
The S-MAX—a seven-seat sports activity vehicle—offers a range of more than 20 new technologies, including global debuts for Glare-Free Highbeam and Ford Adaptive Steering. For the first time, S-MAX will also be available with Ford’s Intelligent All-Wheel Drive (iAWD).
Glare-Free Highbeam. Fading out light that could dazzle other road users from the headlights, Glare-Free Highbeam retains maximum illumination for other areas. The technology works in conjunction with Ford Dynamic LED headlights with Adaptive Front Lighting System, which can adjust the headlight beam angle and intensity to one of seven settings according to speed, ambient light, steering angle, distance to the vehicle in front and windscreen wiper activation.
A windshield-mounted camera detects oncoming vehicles up to 800 meters ahead, and the system uses shutters to block specific paths of light.
Ford Adaptive Steering. Introducing a new generation of steering technology, Ford Adaptive Steering will later this year make it easier to maneuver at low speeds and in tight spaces, and provides a more precise and intuitive feel at high speeds. The system continually adjusts the ratio between the steering wheel and the road wheels in the following scenarios:
City-driving speeds: an electric motor and gearing system contained within the steering wheel adds to the driver’s inputs so that fewer turns of the wheel are required to park or negotiate tight turns and T-junctions.
Medium speeds: the system reacts smoothly to steering inputs while retaining nimble response for increased precision and a fun-to-drive, agile feel.
Highway speeds: the system uses the electric motor to subtly reduce steering sensitivity and deliver smoother high-speed lane-changes and more relaxed cruising.
An electronic control unit and steering angle sensor also housed within the steering wheel enable Ford Adaptive Steering to calculate the steering inputs required. System settings can be configured using the instrument cluster and steering wheel controls, and steering weight and response adapt to match the S-MAX’s “comfort,” “normal” and “sport” chassis settings.
Ford Adaptive Steering works with Electric Power Assisted Steering, which also enables refinement-enhancing features including Torque Vectoring Control, Pull-Drift Compensation, Active Nibble Compensation, and Torque Steer Compensation.
S-MAX powertrains. The all-new S-MAX will be offered with TDCi diesel and EcoBoost gasoline engines for quiet, effortless cruising, and CO2 emissions reduced by up to 7%.
Ford’s new bi‑turbo 2.0-liter TDCi engine also will be introduced to S-MAX. Offering 210 PS (207 hp, 154 kW) and 450 N·m (332 lb-ft) of torque, delivered from 2,000 rpm, the new engine is offered with Ford’s six-speed PowerShift automatic gearbox and uses electronically-controlled sequential bi-turbo design for faster engine response. A small, low-inertia turbine responds quickly to initial boost demand, and a larger high-inertia turbo sustains greater boost pressure for peak performance.
Ford’s revised 2.0-liter TDCi diesel engine with single variable geometry turbocharger technology is offered with 120 PS, 150 PS and 180 PS (118 hp/88 kW; 148 hp/110 kW; and 178 hp/132 kW) . Combined with a six-speed manual gearbox, all three variants will offer 5.0-liter 100/km (47 mpg US) fuel efficiency and 129 g/km CO2 emissions from a revised engine block, new cylinder-head and fuel injection designs. Ford’s lean NOx trap exhaust after-treatment system helps deliver cleaner emissions.
The 150 PS and 180 PS 2.0-liter TDCi S-MAX models will be offered with Ford’s six-speed PowerShift automatic gearbox and are available with iAWD, for a seamless transition between front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive performance to enhance traction and road-holding. The system continually measures how the car’s wheels are gripping the road surface every 16 milliseconds; can adjust power delivery to individual wheels in 100 milliseconds; and can send 100% of available engine torque to the rear wheels.
S-MAX gasoline engine options will include Ford’s new fuel-efficient 160 PS (158 hp/118 kW) 1.5-liter EcoBoost with manual transmission. The engine features integrated exhaust manifold technology that improves efficiency by helping the engine reach optimal temperatures faster, and delivers torque more rapidly by minimizing the distance exhaust gasses travel between cylinders and turbocharger.
The engine also uses the core EcoBoost technologies of turbocharging, high-pressure direct fuel-injection and Twin-independent Variable Cam Timing alongside a new aluminium engine block. A water-cooled intake charge cooler delivers a more efficient feed of air into the engine and the control system has been reprogrammed to offer high levels of refinement.
Ford’s 240 PS (237 hp/177 kW) 2.0-liter EcoBoost with 6-speed automatic transmission will be offered, and the complete S-MAX engine range meets Euro Stage VI emissions standards with CO2 emissions and fuel efficiency enhanced using:
Smart Regenerative Charging, which selectively engages the alternator and charges the battery when the vehicle is coasting and braking to recapture energy.
Auto-Start-Stop, which automatically shuts down the engine when the vehicle is at idle and restarts the engine when the driver wants to move off.
Active Grille Shutter, which improves aerodynamics and optimizes airflow for engine cooling.
Aerodynamic efficiency has been optimized during 400 hours of wind tunnel testing and with enhanced underbody aerodynamic shielding.
Other Driver Assistance. For drivers approaching junctions where visibility is reduced, or situations where pedestrians may unexpectedly cross the road, the S-MAX is equipped with new technology that could help.
New-to-segment Front Split View Camera technology displays in the cockpit the 180-degree view from a camera installed within the grille. To ensure the lens remains clear, a high-pressure jet washer extends to clean the camera when the headlight washer is activated.
Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection technology also is first to segment. This system is designed to detect people in or near the road ahead, or who may cross the vehicle’s path, and can automatically apply the brakes if a potential collision is detected and the driver does not respond to warnings.
Information collected from the windshield-mounted camera, and radar located in the bumper, is processed and checked against a database of “pedestrian shapes” to help distinguish people from typical roadside scenery and objects. If a pedestrian is detected in front of the car, and a collision becomes imminent, the driver will first receive an audible and visual warning. Should the driver not respond, the system then shortens the time required to apply the brakes by reducing the gap between brake pads and discs. If the driver still does not respond the brakes are applied automatically.
Real world testing was an important part of the development. Pedestrians come in all shapes and sizes, and adopt an infinite number of postures. We covered more than 500,000 kilometres that included an extremely wide range of people and potential situations.—Gregor Allexi, active safety engineer, Ford of Europe
Pre-Collision Assist scans ahead for vehicles, too, and if an imminent collision is detected it can automatically apply up to full braking force to help the driver mitigate or avoid many types of rear-end collision.
The all-new S-MAX also features technologies that make parking easier:
Perpendicular Parking can detect and reverse the car hands-free into spaces alongside other cars in the same way that Active Park Assist helps drivers to parallel park.
Park-Out Assist helps drivers exit a parallel parking space, the system operating the steering while the driver operates the accelerator and brake.
Side Parking Aid delivers audible alerts and on-screen distance indicators to obstacles.
Cross Traffic Alert warns drivers reversing out of a parking space of vehicles that may soon be crossing behind them.
Further driver assistance technologies offered with all-new S-MAX include Blind Spot Information System, Traffic Sign Recognition, Lane Keeping Alert, Lane Keeping Aid, Adaptive Cruise Control and Driver Alert.
Improved active and passive safety. S-MAX has been designed to help protect an occupant in the event of a crash. The body structure uses hydro-formed high strength steel for A‑pillars, B-pillars, and roof rails, enhancing side impact performance while reducing weight.
For the first time, S-MAX offers second-row seat side-airbags, in addition to driver and front-passenger, driver-knee, and first-, second- and third-row curtain airbags. Second-row seatbelt pre-tensioners with load limiters enhance rear passenger safety. Seatbelt minders feature for all three rows.
MyKey technology will enable owners to program a key—usually for younger drivers—that can inhibit incoming phone calls; restrict top speed; prevent deactivation of driver assistance and safety features; reduce audio system maximum volume, and disable the audio system altogether if occupants are not using safety belts.
Vehicle stability also is enhanced with Curve Control and Roll Stability Control systems that adjust engine torque and braking to help drivers maintain control.
We’re not just developing cars at Ford, we’re also developing technologies to make driving more convenient, safer, and ultimately help improve mobility around the world. Innovative systems like Intelligent Speed Limiter, Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection, and Active Park Assist are making the benefits of semi-autonomous technology accessible to everyone.—Pim van der Jagt, executive technical leader, Ford Research & Advanced Engineering
The all-new S-MAX is available to order now with deliveries due in the summer. The first-generation S-MAX was European Car of the Year in 2007 and has been sold to more than 400,000 customers across Europe
The US Department of Energy announced 94 2015 Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Phase 2 Release 1 Awards, including three Office of Science projects focusing on hydrogen production from electrolysis and hydrogen systems supporting fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). The 94 projects will receive about $96 million in total funding.
DOE’s key hydrogen objectives are to reduce the cost of producing and delivering hydrogen to less than $4 per gallon of gasoline equivalent (gge) to enable fuel cell vehicles to be competitive with gasoline vehicles. Key fuel cell objectives are to reduce fuel cell system cost to $40/kW and improve durability to 5,000 hours (equivalent to 150,000 miles of driving) for automotive fuel cell systems by 2020.
Projects, each selected to receive about $1 million (subject to negotiation) include:
Tetramer Technologies, LLC of Pendleton, South Carolina, will improve PEM electrolyzer ion exchange membranes to develop a lower cost, higher performance method of commercially generating on-site hydrogen by electrolyzing water.
GVD Corp. of Cambridge, Massachusetts, will develop improved plastic and elastomer seals coatings to enable reliable performance of hydrogen systems supporting FCEVs.
Giner, Inc. of Newton, Massachusetts, will address the high capital and operating costs of electrolysis by working to commercialize advanced water electrolysis catalysts that are more active and require a significantly less amount of precious metal than those used in conventional PEM electrolyzers.
The Nikkei reports that Toray Industries will step up production of separators for Li-ion batteries, investing about ¥10 billion ($82.6 million) to boost output at a South Korean plant.
According to the Nikkei, Toray will add two production lines to the existing four at the plant in Gumi, thereby expand its capacity by 50%. The factory, owned by subsidiary Toray Battery Separator Film, will adopt a technology to enhance the heat resistance of the product. The plant also underwent a ¥5-billion (US$42-million) expansion in 2012.
Toray, with other Japanese companies, is stepping up investment to raise output of separators to meet anticipated demand for automotive Li-ion batteries. Asahi Kasei, the market leader with a 34.9% share, recently announced it would acquire Nº 3 player Polypore International of the US for around ¥260 billion (US$2.2 billion). (Earlier post.) Sixth-ranked Sumitomo Chemical is also planning to triple global output capacity by 2020.
Advanced Battery Technologies signed a strategic partnership agreement with Jiangsu Duke New Energy Automobile Co., Ltd to supply its fast charging lithium-ion batteries for Jiangsu Duke’s 20,000 electronic sports cars in 2015.
Jiangsu Duke New Energy Automobile specializes in research and development, design and manufacture of its Supercar-branded electric sports cars. Jiangsu Duke New Energy Automobile’s new energy project is authorized by the China Development and Reform Commission. It expects to produce 20,000 electric sports cars in 2015 and Advanced Battery Technologies will provide the fast charging lithium batteries for all these vehicles.
With three manufacturing subsidiaries in Harbin, Wuxi and Dongguan, China, ABAT engages in the design, manufacture, marketing and distribution of rechargeable polymer lithium-ion (PLI) batteries and related Light Electric Vehicles (LEV) products.
by Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com
Oil companies continue to get burned by low oil prices, but the pain is bleeding over into the financial industry. Major banks are suffering huge losses from both directly backing some struggling oil companies, but also from buying high-yield debt that is now going sour.
The Wall Street Journal reported that tens of millions of dollars have gone up in smoke on loans made to the energy industry by Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and UBS. Loans issued to oil and gas companies have looked increasingly unappetizing, making it difficult for the banks to sell them on the market.
To make matters worse, much of the credit issued by the big banks have been tied to oil field services firms, rather than drillers themselves—companies that provide equipment, housing, well completions, trucks, and much more. These companies sprung up during the boom, but they are the first to feel the pain when drilling activity cuts back. With those firms running out of cash to pay back lenders, Wall Street is having a lot of trouble getting rid of its pile of bad loans.
Robert Cohen, a loan-portfolio manager at DoubleLine Capital, told the Wall Street Journal that he declined to purchase energy loans from Citibank. “We’ve been pretty shy about dipping back into the energy names,” he said. “We’re taking a wait-and-see attitude.”
But some big investors jumped back into the high-yield debt markets in February as it appeared that oil prices stabilized and were even rebounding. However, since March 4 when oil prices began to fall again, an estimated $7 billion in high-yield debt from distressed energy companies was wiped out, according to Bloomberg.
The high-yield debt market is being overrun by the energy industry. High-yield energy debt has swelled from just $65.6 billion in 2007 up to $201 billion today. That is a result of shaky drillers turning to debt markets more and more to stay afloat, as well as once-stable companies getting downgraded into junk territory. Yields on junk energy debt have hit 7.44 percent over government bonds, more than double the rate from June 2014.
An estimated $1 trillion in loans were provided to the energy industry over the past decade, with most of that passed off to other investors. The practice is common, but starts to fall apart when the quality of loans starts to deteriorate. Banks like Citi have been sitting on bad loans, hoping for a rebound. But with oil prices dipping once again, big banks are starting to eat the losses. Some bad loans were sold off in mid-March at 65 cents on the dollar, the Wall Street Journal reported on March 18.
Souring debt comes at a time when oil and gas firms are also issuing new equity at the fastest pace in more than a decade. Drillers are desperate for cash, and issuing new stock, while not optimal because it dilutes the value of all outstanding shares, is preferable to taking on mountains of new debt. An estimated $8 billion in new equity was issued in the first quarter of 2015 in the energy sector, the highest quarterly total in more than ten years. But, falling oil prices have caused share prices to tank, reducing the value of new shares sold, and ultimately, the amount of cash that can be raised.
Big Finance’s struggle to unload some bad energy loans will ripple right back to the energy industry. If financial institutions cannot find buyers, they will be a lot less likely to issue new credit. That means that oil and gas companies in need of new cash injections may have trouble finding willing partners. Once access to cash is cut off, the worst-off drillers could be forced into a liquidity crisis.