BorgWarner is working with the University of Huddersfield in the U.K. to establish a master's degree program in turbocharging engineering. The news came May 15 in a BorgWarner announcement outlining several developments in the U.K. (see below). Since 2011, BorgWarner has been collaborating with the University of Huddersfield on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership to research improvements in materials for turbocharger housings. The master's program would address commercial-vehicle and passenger-car applications. In related developments, BorgWarner will supply turbocharging technologies for JaguarLandRover's new family of four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines that are slated to launch in 2015. To support the automaker's new Engine Manufacturing Centre near Wolverhampton, BorgWarner plans to expand on its existing production lines and build a new engineering center in Bradford. The supplier has produced turbocharging systems for several commercial engine makers in Bradford for almost 35 years; the new line will expand its turbocharger offerings to passenger cars.
Volvo Car Group on May 13 began production of its new four-cylinder engine family that includes gasoline and diesel variants on a platform known as the Volvo Environmental Architecture (VEA). The company invested about 2 billion kronor (about U.S. $303.7 million) to expand its plant in Skövde by 4500 m² (48,000 ft²) for the new engine line, preparations for which began two years ago. The company said in a press release that "the strategy of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines and driveline electrification is the path that Volvo Cars has chosen for the future. With total control over the development and production of engines and drivelines and by reducing the number of engine variants, the result is increased flexibility and greater ability to influence quality." The new VEA family, developed in-house and to include three-cylinder variants, is optimized to deliver better performance than the incumbent five- and six-cylinder units while offering lower fuel consumption than Volvo's current generation four-cylinder units. Together with driveline electrification, VEA replaces the previous eight engine architectures on three different platforms. The new engines will be introduced between 2013 and 2015. Almost 20,000 engines will be produced in 2013, and by the end of the year the production rate will be 2000 units per week. The first VEA engines will be fitted to the Volvo S60, V60, XC60, V70, XC70, and S80 in autumn 2013.
Chinese company BYD (Build Your own Dreams) will begin assembling electric buses "in the coming months" at a vacated recreational-vehicle assembly plant formerly occupied by Rexhall Industries in Lancaster, CA. The company also will manufacture lithium-iron-phosphate batteries at a separate plant in Lancaster, which is part of Los Angeles County. The plants will be the BYD's first in the U.S. The company's U.S. headquarters is in the city of Los Angeles. In April, the Long Beach Transit Authority awarded a $12.1 million contract to BYD for 10 electric buses. The company says its electric buses have a range of more than 155 mi (250 km) on a single charge.
Public-road testing by Volvo Car Group of its flywheel technology has shown that when coupled with a four-cylinder turbocharged engine it has the potential to reduce fuel consumption by up to 25% compared with a six-cylinder turbo engine at a comparable performance level. The KERS (kinetic energy recovery system) is fitted to the rear axle. The carbon-fiber flywheel spins in a vacuum at up to 60,000 rpm, and the kinetic energy is released through a specially designed transmission back to the wheels. The flywheel weighs about 6 kg (13 lb) and has a diameter of about 20 cm (7.9 in). "We are the first manufacturer that has applied flywheel technology to the rear axle of a car fitted with a combustion engine driving the front wheels. The next step after completing these successful tests is to evaluate how the technology can be implemented in our upcoming car models," said Derek Crabb, Vice President - Powertrain Engineering, Volvo Car Group. The research is being carried out with SKF.
After a successful first year in which it demonstrated the potential of operating real-time particle sensors in engine exhaust systems, the Particle Sensor Performance and Durability (PSPD) consortium will focus its second year of research on improving the sensors’ durability and reliability. Dr. Imad Khalek, Senior Program Manager in Southwest Research Institute’s Engine, Emissions and Vehicle Research Division, and Principal Investigator of the PSPD consortium, is seeking new members. "The best value for consortium members will require cooperation and contributions from engine and sensor manufacturers, as well as other stakeholders," he said. "More thorough evaluation can be performed if participation in the consortium expands. The objective is not to identify one winner, but rather to clearly identify unique characteristics that may be more beneficial for specific applications." Khalek further stated that the consortium’s goal is to develop PM sensors for production engine emissions systems that will provide value similar to that of NOx sensors. First-year research focused on investigating the performance of the spark-plug-sized exhaust particle sensors at different levels of engine exhaust velocity, temperature, particle concentration, electric charge, and size distribution. Short-term sensor survivability also was measured during various operating conditions. For more information, contact Khalek at (210) 522-2536 or Ikhalek@swri.org.
Eaton announced April 20 that it will double capacity at its Jining, China, plant to meet growing customer demand in the region for its valve and valvetrain products and technologies. Located within the Eaton campus in Jining Shandong province, the expansion began this year and is expected to be operational in March 2014. Workers at the facility assemble valve and value-actuation systems and devices for passenger cars, light and commercial vehicles, and medium- and heavy-duty trucks. In addition to its expansion of the Jining facility, Eaton’s Vehicle Group is undertaking joint technology programs with Shanghai Jiao Tong University and South China University of Technology. Eaton’s Vehicle Group opened its first China plant in 1998, in Shanghai; today, it has four manufacturing plants, an engineering lab, and an R&D center. Sales of passenger and commercial vehicles rose 4.3% to 19.3 million units in the country last year, according to the China Association of Auto Manufacturers. The organization forecasts a 7% rise in China vehicle sales for 2103
Zhongding Power of China will finance and construct a plant to build EcoMotors' opposed-piston opposed-cylinder (opoc) engine in Xuangcheng, Anhui province, the two companies announced April 9. The Chinese automotive supplier (mainly commodity parts) will also sell the engine under the licensing agreement. The plant represents an investment by Zhongding of more than $200 million "and will have a capacity of about 150,000 engines per year—over U.S. $1 billion in revenue potential," according to the companies. Volume production is expected to begin in 2014. EcoMotors claims that its opoc engine can deliver power levels equivalent to conventional turbodiesel engines at half the size, a lower cost, and lower emissions with the potential for 20-50% better fuel economy. (View an AEI article on the opoc engine here.) Under the agreement, Zhongding will supply opoc engines to customers in genset, off-road, and commercial-vehicle industries. A key provision of the agreement allocates a portion of the plant's output to EcoMotors for sale and distribution to its own direct customers.
Zhongding Power and EcoMotors executives at the commercialization announcement April 9. From left: Don Runkle, CEO of EcoMotors; Edward Chen, CEO of Zhongding Power; Prof. Peter Hofbauer, Chairman, Founder, and CTO of EcoMotors; and Xia Ding Hu, Chairman of Zhongding Holding (Group) Co., Ltd., and CEO of Zhongding Power.
Only Telecommunications and computers & peripherals outnumbered the automotive industry in patent activity in 2012, according to a Thomson Reuters report called 2012 State of Innovation: Twelve Key Technology Areas and their States of Innovation. The auto industry’s greatest single source of new patent activity was alternative-powered vehicles, with 22,688 new patents filed globally in 2012, an increase of 42.6% from 2010. The top patent assignees in key world markets were Toyota (Asia), Robert Bosch (Europe), and General Motors (United States). In 2011 Toyota filed 1660 patents in the category of alternative-powered vehicles, the most of any auto company worldwide. At 495 patent filings, Honda ranks second in that category, followed by Denso (457), Nissan (440), and Panasonic (429). Patent filing for innovation in transmission technology ranks second in the auto industry with 11,859 followed closely by navigation systems at 11,594. Rounding out the top 10 are safety (10,286); seats,seatbelts and airbags (8614); pollution control (7262); steering (6862); suspension (6393); security (5686); engine design and systems (5201); braking (4247); entertainment (2734).
The U.S. EPA on March 29 a proposed rule to lower the sulfur content of gasoline and to reduce NOx and other pollutant emissions (not including CO2) from light-duty vehicles. The proposed rule—encompassing a number of provisions that together are called Tier 3—is supported by the two U.S. lobbying organizations representing the world's major automakers and would cover the period 2017-2025 to coincide with already approved federal CO2 emissions (EPA addresses CO2 separately from the traditional pollutant emissions types such as NOx). The rule would result in a gasoline sulfur content of 10 parts per million by 2017—a reduction of more than 60% from today's levels. The American Petroleum Institute opposes the rules and claims compliance costs will be much higher than those projected by the EPA. The proposed gasoline sulfur levels would match those already being achieved in many parts of the world, including Europe and Japan. The same low sulfur levels are also already required in California, which has its own set of pollutant emissions rules (LEV III) that are similar to those proposed in Tier 3. Without alignment of the state and federal rules on gasoline sulfur content and vehicle emissions, automakers would have to offer different vehicles in different parts of the country to comply with the different requirements, adding costs, EPA says. Compared to current standards, the proposed nonmethane organic gases (NMOG) and nitrogen oxides (NOx)—presented as NMOG+NOx—tailpipe standards for light-duty vehicles represent approximately an 80% reduction from today’s fleet average and a 70% reduction in per-vehicle particulate matter (PM) standards.
Increased spending on new vehicle technologies to comply with proposed European CO2 emissions regulations for 2020 will add between €100 and €1100 to the capital cost of the average new light-duty vehicle in 2020, but also save vehicle owners €400 annually in fuel expenses, according to a new study carried out jointly by Ricardo-AEA and Cambridge Econometrics. That translates into a break-even point for vehicle owners of about three years, if actual technology costs end up aligning with those projected. The study also projects that a shift to low-carbon-emitting vehicles would increase spending on vehicle technology, "generating positive direct employment impacts." At the EU level, the cost of running and maintaining the European car fleet would become €33-35 billion lower each year compared to a “do nothing scenario” by 2030, "leading to mildly positive economic impacts." The study looks only at the impact of improvements related to internal-combustion engines and hybridization; a second phase of the study will "examine the impact of gradually substituting fossil fuels with domestically produced electricity and hydrogen as energy sources for vehicles." EU Regulation 443/2009 set an average CO2 target for new cars sold in the EU at 130 g/km by 2015. The proposed CO2 target for 2020 (95 g/km) is currently under review.