Ricardo Showcases Green Technologies at Convergence 2008

  • Sentience powertrain control system uses GPS, mapping technology and situational awareness to improve fuel efficiency
  • Hybrid systems developed for Chery and featured at Beijing Olympics entering production
  • More thorough and precise development of battery systems for hybrid and electric vehicles at Ricardo's Battery Systems Development Center
  • Ricardo demonstrating its technology at booth 1126

VAN BUREN TWP., Mich., (October 20, 2008) - Ricardo, Inc., a leading independent provider of technology, product innovation and engineering solutions to the world's automotive, military, transport and new energy industries, is showcasing a suite of safe, green and efficient technologies today through October 22 at the 2008 SAE Convergence Transportation Electronics Conference in Detroit. Technologies on display include Sentience, a powertrain control system that uses GPS, terrain mapping and situational awareness to improve fuel efficiency; two gasoline-electric hybrid systems now entering production in China; and new details about Ricardo's advanced capabilities in developing battery packs and control systems for hybrid and electric vehicles.

The Sentience Project: Improving Fuel Consumption and Emissions with Telematics
While most fuel-saving technologies fundamentally are "hardware" solutions - e.g., gasoline-electric powertrains, high-efficiency transmissions, etc., Sentience works to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions by taking the external environment into account and adjusting vehicle operation accordingly. It captures geographical and situational awareness information from sources such as GPS, terrain mapping and telecommunications systems. The data can include fixed-feature information such as speed limits, stop signs, turns and hills, plus variable features like traffic lights, pedestrian crossings and road congestion. Sentience feeds the information to multiple vehicle systems, including intelligent powertrain systems controls, active safety systems, and navigation and route planning systems, allowing it to optimize vehicle performance based on real-life road and traffic conditions.

For example, if GPS and mapping data indicate the vehicle is approaching a hill, Sentience evaluates the situation based on past and current knowledge of the vehicle and the terrain, then takes appropriate action such as suspending charging of the battery, reducing other ancillary loads, selecting the most efficient gear ratio and using battery assist (if so equipped) to help climb the grade. On the down slope, another gear could be selected and excess energy used to recharge the battery. In the case of "over the horizon" information such as road congestion, an accident ahead or adverse weather, the system could recommend an alternate, more efficient route.

According to Karina Morley, global vice president of Controls and Electronics at Ricardo, Sentience could deliver fuel economy improvements from six to 16 percent if applied to all systems in a complex powertrain vehicle. "Because much of the information Sentience uses is already available on such a vehicle, the cost of implementing this type of powertrain control could be very low - essentially a 'software-only' cost. Such real-world efficiency improvements can help justify the cost of advanced low-carbon powertrains."

Ricardo joined with InnovITS, Jaguar Land Rover (with support from Ford Motor Company), mapping agency Ordnance Survey, mobile giant Orange and the UK's Transport Research Laboratory to develop Sentience.

Chery A50 Gasoline-Electric Hybrids Co-Developed with Ricardo Enter Production
The recent Beijing Olympics featured a fleet of 50 hybrid vehicles which Ricardo co-developed with China's Chery Automobile Company Ltd. as part of the transportation arrangements for the games. The two hybrid versions of Chery's A5 sedan used in the games are now entering production and will be available for both domestic Chinese and export markets.

The first version is a stop-start hybrid based on a 12-volt belt starter-generator (BSG) linked to a 1.6 liter gasoline engine with a 5-speed manual transmission. The second is a more comprehensive mild hybrid equipped with a 1.3 liter gasoline engine and a 12 kw crankshaft-mounted 151-volt integrated starter-generator (ISG). These technologies provide significant fuel savings through the use of advanced powertrain control and energy management strategies. The BSG vehicle achieved a 10 percent improvement in fuel consumption over the baseline product. The ISG version approached a 15 percent improvement compared to the 1.6 liter benchmark vehicle.

For the ISG version, Ricardo assumed full system design responsibility, including specification and integration of the ISG system and the high-voltage battery pack and battery management system. Ricardo also developed an integrated hybrid control unit that incorporates the motor drive power electronics, DC to DC converter, and hybrid supervisory and safety functions into one compact package. The safety-critical application strategies and software were defined, engineered and validated through extensive vehicle and hardware-in-the-loop testing.

With its comprehensive mild-hybrid functionality, the ISG-equipped sedan provides a significant increase in performance over the equivalent baseline A5 vehicle with a 1.3 liter engine. Peak power and torque of the ISG-equipped vehicle are comparable to a 1.6 liter engine. The system enables engine restart within 200 milliseconds, thus allowing stop-start functionality to be included in the hybrid control strategy.

Battery Systems Development Center
With the completion shortly of its Battery Systems Development Center, Ricardo is taking a leading position in the engineering and development of complete high-voltage battery-pack systems for hybrid (HEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and electric vehicles (EV). The center features three lithium-ion (Li-Ion)-capable development chambers, large HEV/EV-capable battery cyclers and equipment to facilitate the development of battery systems in simulated vehicle environments. This enables Ricardo to validate the design, analysis and simulation of advanced high-power battery packs.

The Battery Systems Development Center, combined with the company's pack/vehicle integration, hybrid transmission development and vehicle development capabilities, puts Ricardo in a unique position of being able to provide turnkey vehicle battery systems development.

"There are critical items to address with battery systems, including control algorithm robustness, accurate state-of-charge estimation, fault-tolerance design, thermal management optimization and cost management," Morley said. "Ricardo has the engineering expertise to meet these challenges. Our simulation, control, and optimization capabilities are extremely accurate in setting the parameters for battery-pack design. The development chambers will validate these designs in real-world tests, assuring maximum performance and efficiency in this important new technology."

About Ricardo
Ricardo, the Eco-Innovation Technology Company, is a leading independent provider of technology, product innovation, engineering solutions and strategic consulting to the world's automotive, military, transport and new energy industries. The company's skill base represents the state-of-the-art in low emissions and fuel-efficient powertrain technology, and can be best summarized: "Ricardo is Fuel Economy."

Ricardo offers TVFE™, its Total Vehicle Fuel Economy engineering service, to transportation manufacturers worldwide to provide objective evaluation of all available technologies to identify the most cost-effective strategies to optimize fuel economy and CO2 goals. For more information on TVFE, please visit www.totalvehiclefueleconomy.com.

With technical centers and offices throughout Europe, the U.S. and Asia, Ricardo provides engineering expertise ranging from vehicle systems integration, controls & electronics, hardware and software development, to the latest driveline and transmission systems and gasoline, diesel, hybrid and fuel cell powertrain technologies. Its customers include the world's major automakers and suppliers as well as manufacturers in the military, commercial, off-highway and clean energy sectors. The company also serves in advisory roles to governmental and independent agencies. Ricardo's U.S. operation, Ricardo, Inc., is headquartered in Van Buren Township, Michigan. Ricardo plc posted sales of $394 million in financial year 2008 and is a constituent of the FTSE TechMark 100 index - a group of innovative technology companies listed on the London Stock Exchange. For more information, visit www.ricardo.com.

Media Contacts:
Joe Kirik / The Quell Group / (248) 649-8900 / jkirik@quell.com
Anthony Smith / Ricardo Media Office / +44 1273 382710 / media@ricardo.com