Category Archives: Electric

Daimler Trucks testing truck platooning on public highways in the US

Daimler Trucks testing truck platooning on public highways in the US

25 September 2017

Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) is testing connected trucks in platooning operations on public roads in the US. In truck platooning, connectivity and automated driving improve safety within the vehicle convoys, support drivers and enhance efficiency through closer distances between the connected trucks.

Having started with successful trials on Daimler Trucks North America’s proving ground in Madras, Oregon, DTNA has received the appropriate permission from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). In a first step called “pairing”, Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) is testing its platooning technology in two connected Freightliner New Cascadia truck trailer combinations.

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DTNA benefits from proven systems which have successfully been operated by Mercedes-Benz trucks as in the European Truck Platooning Challenge 2016. (Earlier post.) With this initiative, Daimler Trucks North America is reacting to an increasing customer interest in solutions for automated and connected driving in commercial transport.

In a joint effort with fleet customers, DTNA is working to understand how platooning technology may impact fleet operations (e.g. dispatch, logistics, driver training). In a joint effort with large fleet customers DTNA will test digitally connected trucks in every day transport business. With its Freightliner and Western Star brands Daimler Trucks is the market leader accounting for a 40% market share in the North American truck market.

We see growing customer interest in platooning. This technology stands for more efficiency and safety. Platooning technology is not meant to replace drivers—it’s designed to help drivers. When the world is ready for platooning, DTNA will have a proven solution. Right now, we are driving Freightliners in platoons every day. I have personally driven one of our trucks in a connected mode. My experience has been impressive.

—Roger Nielsen, President and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America

Daimler Trucks has been developing automated, connected and electrified driving technologies with its truck brands Mercedes-Benz, Freightliner and FUSO. Around the globe Daimler Trucks has already connected around 500,000 trucks to the internet of things—more than any other manufacturer. To connect its Freightliner New Cascadia digitally in the current tests in the US, Daimler combines connectivity with its experience in automated driving.

Wi-Fi-based vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V) interacts with Freightliner’s Detroit Assurance 4.0 driver assistance systems featuring Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Assist and Active Brake Assist 4. This technology offers fuel savings to the customer when two or more Freightliner trucks closely follow each other, lowering aerodynamic drag and adding safety, because V2V reaction times have dropped to about 0.2 or 0.3 seconds; humans response time is usually not faster than one second. Human errors cause 94 percent of the crashes on the road, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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BHP and Goodfuels Marine to collaborate on biofuels pilot project in Singapore

BHP and Goodfuels Marine to collaborate on biofuels pilot project in Singapore

25 September 2017

With support from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), BHP and GoodFuels Marine have signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) to collaborate on a biofuels pilot project in Singapore, which is expected to be carried out early next year.

The LOI was signed during an MPA-organized inaugural closed-door biofuel roundtable in Singapore which discussed the use of biofuels as a sustainable alternative fuel for the future of shipping.

We are pleased to facilitate discussions on the biofuels front along with our partners, BHP and GoodFuels. The roundtable comes at an opportune time in light of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) 0.5% global sulfur cap on marine fuels which will come into effect from 2020, as well as IMO’s longer term plan to lower carbon emissions for shipping. MPA welcomes dialogues across stakeholders and will continue to work with relevant parties as we prepare the bunkering industry for the future.

—Andrew Tan, Chief Executive of MPA

As the largest bunkering hub in the world, Singapore is working towards providing cleaner alternative sources of fuel to cater to the future energy needs of the global shipping industry. Among the topics discussed at the roundtable included barriers to the use to biofuels and how these could be addressed.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) was established on 2 February 1996, with the mission to develop Singapore as a premier global hub port and international maritime centre (IMC), and to advance and safeguard Singapore’s strategic maritime interests. MPA is the driving force behind Singapore’s port and maritime development, taking on the roles of Port Authority, Port Regulator, Port Planner, IMC Champion, and National Maritime Representative.

GoodFuels Marine develops and delivers sustainable biofuels for the maritime sector. GoodFuels’ products are drop-in replacements of fossil fuels. By utilizing GoodFuels’ advanced biofuels, the CO2-footprint can be reduced up to 90%. All GoodFuels’ products are produced from wastes and residues, and meet the most stringent sustainability criteria. GoodFuels is certified for the RSB-sustainability standard, and has installed an independent sustainability board comprised of NGO’s and academia, reviewing the sustainability of its products. GoodFuels is part of the GoodNRG group.

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Volvo adding production of next-gen XC90 to South Carolina from 2021

Volvo adding production of next-gen XC90 to South Carolina from 2021

25 September 2017

Volvo Cars announced that the next generation of the XC90 large premium SUV will be built in its new manufacturing plant in Charleston, South Carolina from 2021. This takes Volvo Cars’ total investment in its US manufacturing operations to more than US$1.1 billion and will raise the total of new jobs created at the Charleston site to nearly 4,000.

The South Carolina plant will start production of the next-generation S60 in the fall of 2018. The addition of the next generation XC90 from 2021 as well as a planned new office campus will create 1,900 new jobs, which come on top of the 2,000 new employees currently being hired.

The US is the largest single market for the XC90, although a considerable amount of XC90 volume will be exported from the Port of Charleston. Total US production capacity at the plant will rise to 150,000 vehicles annually.

The XC90 has played an important role in Volvo Cars’ sales revival in the United States and around the globe. The large SUV, launched in 2014, is the most awarded luxury SUV of the century and helped Volvo Cars recover its sales in the United States from a low of 56,000 units sold in 2014 to almost 83,000 units in 2016.

The announcement on further expansion in South Carolina allows Volvo Cars to take another step toward the company’s ‘build where you sell’ global manufacturing strategy. It currently operates two manufacturing plants in Europe, as well as two factories in China. A third Chinese plant is currently under construction.

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Electric-car cash, Tesla Model 3 videos, future MPG rules, why battery startups fail: Today’s Car News

Today, we’ve got more info on two Teslas, a look at China’s electric-car battery plans plus a study on why battery startups fail, and survey results on what may happen to future fuel-economy rules. All this and more on Green Car Reports.

Over the weekend, as always, we ran down last week’s important green-car news stories.

Changes have come fast and furious this year to the Tesla Model S lineup, which will lose the rear-wheel-drive 75 version.

We also reported on a new study looking at why battery startups fail in the U.S. and what could be done to address that.

Today, a couple of videos offer new details of the Tesla Model 3 interior, controls, and features, as does a window-sticker photo.

Our Twitter followers are evenly split on the question of what will happen to future fuel-economy rules under the Trump Administration.

Connecticut’s unique incentive for dealerships that sell electric cars has worked, but could be improved, a new study concludes.

China will build many dozens of gigafactory equivalents in its quest to dominate global electric-car battery production.

We compare the 2018 Nissan Leaf and the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV now that we have more details on the new Leaf.

Last week, Greenpeace activists boarded a ship to prevent delivery of Volkswagen diesel vehicles to the U.K.

Finally, if you want to loan the upcoming 2019 Volvo XC40 small crossover to a friend, you can do so via your cellphone—no key required.

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2018 Nissan Leaf vs Chevrolet Bolt EV: new electric cars compared

The 2017 Chevy Bolt EV went on sale last December, but only became available nationwide in August.

Meanwhile, electric-car shoppers waited eagerly for details of the 2018 Nissan Leaf, the second-generation car that finally premiered in early September.

We’ve now driven both cars, and can take a high-level look at how they stack up against each other.

CHECK OUT: 2018 Nissan Leaf review and 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV review

PRICE and RANGE

The two cars contrast most vividly in price and range ratings, with the Bolt EV’s 60-kilowatt-hour battery giving it 238 miles of range, 60 percent more than the Leaf’s projected 150 miles from a 40-kwh pack.

But the cost for that extra range is almost $7,000: the 2018 Leaf starts at $30,875, while this year’s Bolt EV is priced at $37,500. Both prices include mandatory delivery fees, and various manufacturer incentives are likely available.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, road test, California coastline, Sep 2016

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, road test, California coastline, Sep 2016

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Nissan suggests a starting price just over $30,000 will let far more buyers consider the new Leaf than the costlier Chevy, and it expects Leaf sales to double globally as a result.

Next year, by the way, the company will launch a version of the 2019 Nissan Leaf that offers a larger 60-kwh battery, more power, and a higher price that will compete straight across with the Bolt EV.

DESIGN

Both cars are five-door hatchbacks that, in silhouette, have more in common than you’d expect.

While four-door sedans would likely be slightly more aerodynamic, so-called C-segment hatchbacks are the world’s most common vehicle segment, despite their lack of popularity in the U.S. market.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, road test, California coastline, Sep 2016

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, road test, California coastline, Sep 2016

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We admit we’re somewhat used to the Bolt EV’s looks by now, so the Leaf feels fresher. Its lines are a touch more exaggerated than the Bolt’s, but neither car looks strange or bulbous, as the first-generation Leaf did.

Inside, the 2018 Leaf interior conveys the message that this is a mass-market car, while the Bolt EV has considerably a more advanced touchscreen interface.

The Bolt EV front seats, however, have come in for their share of criticism for being too narrow and thin, so you should test them yourself if you’re thinking of buying.

READ THIS: 2018 Nissan Leaf electric-car prototype driven: first impressions

PERFORMANCE and DRIVING FEEL

Both cars are what you’d expect on the road, though the 150-kilowatt (200-horsepower) Bolt EV is more powerful than the 110-kw (147-hp) Leaf, making it quicker, which a driver can feel.

Each now offers one-pedal driving, with the Leaf’s a bit softer and more gentle in its transitions than the Bolt EV—although the Chevy offers a “regen pedal” drivers can use to slow the car when it’s in its default mode, a feature Nissan hasn’t provided.

With battery weight under the floor, each car feels stable and planted, but we give the nod to the Bolt EV’s steering feel. The Leaf remains a little numb in comparison, though it’s less appliance-like than its predecessor in that respect.

FEATURES

You can look through the reviews linked above for a full listing of features in each car, but a couple of points stand out.

The Bolt EV inexplicably doesn’t offer adaptive cruise control; engineers told us its fast development cycle simply precluded that, so we’d expect it to show up down the line.

The Leaf, on the other hand, has three different types of cruise control, the top level being Nissan’s ProPilot Assist, which adds active lane control to adaptive cruise, providing it with what’s defined as Level 2 autonomy.

Both offer Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, but a conventional navigation system remains an option in the Leaf, whereas the Bolt EV offers navigation solely through a connected smartphone.

DON’T MISS: 2018 Nissan Leaf: does 150 miles pioneer the ‘mid-range’ electric car?

CHARGING NETWORKS

Each car has a 6.6-kilowatt onboard charger using the standard plug, but their DC fast-charging options differ.

The 2018 Leaf continues with the 50-kw CHAdeMO system used in Japan, while the Bolt EV offers a 50-kw Combined Charging System port.

While CCS stations were considerably sparser than CHAdeMO sites in earlier years, the gap is closing fast and most public fast-charging sites now offer both.

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Danish Power Systems sets new record with degradation rate in high-temperature polymer fuel cells

Danish Power Systems sets new record with degradation rate in high-temperature polymer fuel cells

25 September 2017

The clean technology company Danish Power Systems (DPS), with partners at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and the University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague, Czech Republic, reports the best operating stability for high-temperature polymer fuel cells (HTPEMFC) yet.

In a 9,000-hour long test at 160 ˚C under constant load, the DPS cell exhibited a degradation rate of 0.5 μV h−1—equivalent to degradation of 0.00008% per hour—compared to 2.6 μV h−1 for a reference membrane. For the full test period of 13,000 h, the average voltage decay rate was about 1.4 and 4.6 μV h−1 for cells equipped with cross-linked and linear polybenzimidazole membranes, respectively. Results are published in the Journal of Power Sources.

Danish Power Systems manufactures the MEA (membrane electrode assembly), and is one of the few companies that can manufacture the material-polybenzimidazole (PBI), of which the fuel cell’s plastic membrane are made. The polymer can operate at a higher temperature than traditional PEM cells. HTPEM operates at 160-200 °C and can use several fuels such as natural gas, biogas or methanol.

The company was founded in 1994 by three researchers at DTU and two development engineers from the battery factory Hellesens, Denmark. The company currently has approximately 24 employees, of whom 12 are academics.

Phosphoric acid doped membranes based on polybenzimidazoles … have been developed as one of the most promising electrolyte materials for high temperature polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (HT-PEMFCs) operating under dry conditions. In a typical operating temperature range of 120=180 ˚C, HT-PEMFCs exhibit advantages such as good CO tolerance along with simple water and thermal management. However, improving the long-term durability remains a most critical and challenging task to address for the commercialisation of the HT-PEMFC technology. Understanding the mechanisms responsible for the degradation is far from trivial though, because the predominant degradation modes vary depending on the operating conditions.

… With respect to the membrane, several approaches for improving the long-term durability of HT-PEMFCs have been reported. These include increasing the linear average molecular weight of the polymer, minimizing metal impurity contamination, and development of the membrane systems such as composites, cross-linked structures, or alternative polymer chemistries. Furthermore, thermal treatment of the membranes at temperatures up to 350 ˚C prior to acid doping result in non-specific cross-linking of the polymer matrix. This has recently been proven as an effective strategy for mitigating degradation of HT-PEMFCs. In the present work, thermally cross-linked m-PBI membranes were further evaluated in extended durability tests using membranes based on linear m-PBI as a reference.

Testing in the Czech Republic was a part of the successful European Union project “CISTEM” that was coordinated by the German research institution Next Energy (now part of DLR).

The Danish Power Systems fuel cell stacks use methanol as fuel. Methanol is cheap to produce and it is easy to extract methanol from biological resources. To assemble full fuel cell stacks, Danish Power Systems collaborated with SerEnergy, based in Aalborg, Denmark—financially supported by the Danish Ministry of Energy’s EUDP-program. Additionally, SerEnergy’s operating stability results on cell-stacks, fabricated of Danish Power Systems’ cells, have also shown very low degradation rates.

In recent years, Danish Power Systems has focused on increasing exports of fuel cell products where they are successful in manufacturing the special high-temperature plastic contained in the cells. The company projects that the technology is so mature that actual commercialization is in the near future. 


This world record is a milestone in our work towards a commercialization. The advantage of using both hydrogen and methanol is that the systems can generate electricity with almost no pollution and on fuels made from biological ‘green’ materials. Fuel cells can be used in electric vehicles without a hydrogen infrastructure. With [this] durability we are rapidly approaching a breakthrough for large-scale production.

—managing director of Danish Power Systems Hans Aage Hjuler

Resources

  • Tonny Søndergaard, Lars Nilausen Cleemann, Hans Becker, David Aili, Thomas Steenberg, Hans Aage Hjuler, Larisa Seerup, Qingfeng Li, Jens Oluf Jensen (2017) “Long-term durability of HT-PEM fuel cells based on thermally cross-linked polybenzimidazole,” Journal of Power Sources, Volume 342, Pages 570-578 doi: 10.1016/j.jpowsour.2016.12.075

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China to build many gigafactories’ worth of electric-car battery plants

While the United States federal government threatens to backslide on renewable energy, California and China continue to move at an aggressive pace to lead the world in zero-emission vehicles.

However, there’s another piece to the electric-car puzzle that China seems poised to lead as well: battery production.

As the global market for electric and plug-in car grows, battery production will need to increase dramatically to match demand.

DON’T MISS: Chinese maker BYD plans U.S. expansion into other electric industrial vehicles

It’s expected that electric-vehicle batteries will become a $240 billion industry, and China has already begun to cement itself as a leader in battery production.

In China alone, there are 140 electric-vehicle battery makers, and in the next 20 years, they’ll likely reap the rewards of early adoption, according to a Forbes report.

Combined, they have already led global battery cell manufacturing production to produce 125 Gigawatt-hours (1 GWh is equal to 1 million kilowatt-hours) worth of cells last year alone.

Tesla gigafactory as photographed by drone, May 17, 2015 [screen capture from YouTube video]

Tesla gigafactory as photographed by drone, May 17, 2015 [screen capture from YouTube video]

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Back in 2014, Tesla announced that it would collaborate with Panasonic to build its (first) Gigafactory, which would produce 35-GWh worth of cells every year once it hit full capacity, as noted by Tesla in a 2014 presentation.

China’s rapid production underscores Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s later suggestion that it would need multiple gigafactories across the globe to achieve its production goals.

Cell production globally is expected to double from 125 GWh to 250 GWh by 2020, also led by Chinese battery production.

Tesla gigafactory: Planned 2020 production of lithium-ion cells [slide: Tesla Motors, Feb 2014]

Tesla gigafactory: Planned 2020 production of lithium-ion cells [slide: Tesla Motors, Feb 2014]

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Even with the rapid increase of production, analysts suggest that 250 GWh will not be enough for the automotive industry to turn away from fossil fuels to electrified cars in the volumes expected.

The report states total cell production will need to increase tenfold between 2020 and 2037 to match demand.

That’s the equivalent of adding 60 new gigafactories.

READ THIS: VW says it needs ’40 gigafactories’ for electric-car batteries by 2025

German automakers have lately begun to toughen up on the reality of battery production.

Volkswagen Group specifically said it believes it alone will need the equivalent of 40 new gigafactories to meet the its own demand for batteries as it adds electric or electrified versions of all 300 cars it makes by 2030.

In total, VW predicts a total of 1.5 terawatt-hours per year will be required within the global automotive industry.

Tesla battery gigafactory site, Reno, Nevada, Feb 25, 2015 [photo: CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 Bob Tregilus]

Tesla battery gigafactory site, Reno, Nevada, Feb 25, 2015 [photo: CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 Bob Tregilus]

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Much of Germany’s battery production is nestled in what has been referred to as the Silicon Saxony region.

There, BMW, Daimler, and VW have all planted roots and produce batteries.

Of the three German giants, Daimler has invested the most; the automaker announced a new 20-hectare (50-acre) battery plant to support the slew of electric vehicles it plans to bring to market over the next nine years.

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