Minggu, 24 Agustus 2014

Ultracapacitors to be used for braking energy recuperation in Spanish rail system

Maxwell Technologies, Inc has announced that Win Inertia, an engineering firm specializing in power electronics, energy storage and control and communication systems, is using its ultracapacitors for a stationary wayside braking energy recuperation system at an electric rail system in Cerro Negro, Spain. Win Inertia designed and installed the system under a contract with the Spanish government's Administrator of Railway Infrastructures (ADIF). In this installation, the system also enables ADIF to store excess energy in a battery bank that supplies an electric vehicle (EV) charging station located at the rail station. The facility also seamlessly integrated a photovoltaic (PV) generator to supply additional energy if required.

The recuperation system employs Win Inertia's SHAD® hybrid control technology (international patent pending) to integrate batteries and Maxwell ultracapacitors to increase energy recovery efficiency and reduce stress on the batteries, thereby extending battery life. Ultracapacitors' rapid charge/discharge characteristics uniquely enable them to capture and store more energy during each braking event than battery-based systems, which have limited ability to absorb energy in the few seconds required to stop a vehicle. Win Inertia's high-efficiency hybrid energy storage and power delivery system furthers ADIF's return on investment as it enables dual use of the recuperated energy for rail vehicle propulsion and EV charging. By converting kinetic energy into stored electric energy through regenerative braking, the system recovers 8 to 10 percent of the total energy used by the railway system, which is then used to power the EV charging station.

"By incorporating ultracapacitors, which accept charge from the braking energy recuperation system much more efficiently than batteries, the system recovers significantly more energy," said Eugenio Domínguez Amarillo, Win Inertia's CEO and chief technology officer. "Additionally, by using ultracapacitors to relieve the batteries of the stress of repetitive cycling, we expect to extend battery life by 20 to 25 percent."

Braking energy recuperation systems in electric and hybrid rail vehicles save fuel and electrical energy by using resistance from the electric motor to stop the vehicle, and, through that process, converting kinetic energy that would be wasted in a conventional friction-based braking system into stored electrical energy. Ultracapacitors' high reliability and extremely long operational life also make them a preferred option for heavy cycling electric utility grid applications.

Dr. Franz Fink, Maxwell's president and CEO, said, "Transportation is the world's largest energy consumer, so systems that enhance energy efficiency and reduce fossil fuel consumption and emissions can play a transformational role in energy management and create tremendous long-term growth opportunities for rapidly advancing ultracapacitor technology."

Unlike batteries, which produce and store energy by means of a chemical reaction, ultracapacitors store energy in an electric field. This electrostatic energy storage mechanism enables ultracapacitors to charge and discharge in as little as fractions of a second, perform normally over a broad temperature range (-40°C to +65°C), operate reliably through one million or more charge/discharge cycles and resist shock and vibration. Maxwell offers ultracapacitor cells ranging in capacitance from one to 3,000 farads and multi-cell modules ranging from 16 to 160 volts.

Jumat, 22 Agustus 2014

A 'quick' test drive in a Tesla Model S P85+

Earlier this week EV News had the opportunity to test drive a Tesla Model S P85+ around the streets of Sydney. It was only a very brief experience compared to the week long test drives we've had with most other EVs, but it was long enough to confirm that Tesla Motors make electric vehicles that are in a league of their own.

The first thing you notice about the Model S is that it's a big car. All dimensions including wheelbase and track are larger than a full-size car like the Holden Commodore VF. The wheelbase seems governed by the size of the floor mounted flat-pack battery enclosure which makes up 700 kg of the vehicles 2,100 kg kerb weight. The upshot of this being the Model S has more interior storage space (1,796 L) than the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SUV we tested a few weeks ago.

For such a heavy car the weight wasn't noticeable while driving, although I am familiar with driving full sized cars and the test route didn't allow for any high speed loaded cornering. In acceleration the P85 Model S is stunning! Unlike all other EVs I've driven which have synchronous BLDC permanent magnet motors, the asynchronous AC induction motor in the Model S really gives a kick in the back off the line. So much so I'm thinking perhaps Elon Musk should consider issuing Tesla reps with neck braces for test drives.

The BMW i3 I drove in Munich earlier this year was, up until this week, the fastest EV I had driven. I noticed from a standing start, full off the line acceleration in the i3 didn't really come on strong until over approx 25 km/h, on it's way to 100 km/h in 7 seconds. With 310 kw and 600 Nm peak torque from zero RPM, the 3 phase AC induction motor launches the P85 Model S from a standing start to 100 km/h in just 4 seconds. That's faster than your average Porsche. As with all EVs, mid-speed acceleration was also impressive but with the Tesla, mind blowingly so!

One of the reasons I've been so keen to sample a Model S is because on paper it is the only EV that is broadly comparable to my current daily driver, which has 255 Kw / 475 Nm with a 1600 kg chassis. The 5.7 Lt 4 door sedan does 0-100 km/h in around 5 sec which is faster than both a standard Model S 85 (5.6s) and the 60 version (6.2s). I've clocked up over 300,000 km in this car so am very familiar with it's impressive acceleration, yet the Model S P85 absolutely kills it!

Ever since the Tesla test drive I've been trying to get my head around how the Model S P85's mid-speed acceleration could feel twice as fast as my car. Multiplying the Tesla's 600 Nm peak torque by the 9.73:1 reduction gear ratio gives 5,898 Nm at the rear wheels. Divide that by the 2,100 kg kerb weight and the Model S has 2.8 Nm /kg. Running the same numbers for my Corvette engined family sedan gives 4,476 Nm (in first gear only). Divided by 1,600 kg kerb weigh surprisingly gives the same 2.8 Nm/kg figure.

So why does the P85 feel twice as fast at mid speed? The 3 phase AC, copper rotor, induction motor's torque curve gives a flat 600 Nm between 0 and 5,000 rpm. As with all EVs this broad torque curve allows the Tesla to have a single speed transmission. With the gear ratios commonly used in EVs they're effectively in the equivalent of first gear all the time. So while my ICE powered car has approx the same torque to weigh ratio in first gear, the V8 engine doesn't reach peak torque until 4,000 rpm (which accounts for the extra second 0-100) and rear wheel torque reduces with every up-shift of the gearbox until top gear where maximum torque is down to 'only' 1,000 Nm. By comparison, the Tesla has approx 6,000 Nm available on-demand from standstill up to 70 km/h. Over this speed electric motor torque starts to decrease but at 120 km/h the Model S P85 still has 3,405 Nm at the wheels.

The bottom line is, from a standing start the Tesla has full torque almost immediately (see dyno chart below) and at mid-speeds, due to the advantage of a permanent low gear ratio, the Tesla has up to 6x more peak torque available at the flick of the throttle pedal compared to my reasonably powerful internal combustion engine equipped car. The results are... absolutely devastating acceleration from any speed and an almost permanent 'Tesla grin'.

When a start-up company like Tesla Motors can execute a new luxury car with such startling performance, 500 km range and running costs that are 1/10 th that of equivalent ICE cars, It's no surprise that Mercedes, Audi and BMW are already working on their own versions of the Model S. I don't think it's much of an exaggeration to say this car is revolutionary!

The Model S P85+ as driven was priced around $190k. A basic P85 option package with the full 310 kw / 600 Nm and 21" wheels is $130,600. Unfortunately luxury tax and other government charges add another $25k bringing the total cost to $155k in Australia.

(dyno torque curve from a Tesla Roadster - the Model S P85 has 2x more torque @ the wheels)

The global market for EV traction motors to exceed $25 billion in 2025

The electric vehicle business will approach a massive $500 billion in 2025 with the traction motors being over $25 billion.

Their design, location and integration is changing rapidly. Traction motors propelling land, water and air vehicles along can consist of one inboard motor or - an increasing trend - more than one near the wheels, in the wheels, in the transmission or ganged to get extra power. Integrating is increasing with an increasing number of motor manufacturers making motors with integral controls and sometimes integral gearing. Alternatively they may sell motors to the vehicle manufacturers or to those integrating them into transmission.

In a new report from IDTechEx called "Electric Motors for Hybrid and Pure Electric Vehicles 2015-2025: Land, Water, Air" these complex trends are explained with pie charts, tables, graphs and text and future winning suppliers are identified alongside market forecasts. There are sections on newly important versions such as in-wheel, quadcopter and outboard motor for boats.

Today, with the interest in new traction motor design there is a surge in R&D activities in this area, much of it directed at specific needs such as electric aircraft needing superlative reliability and power to weight ratio. Hybrid vehicles may have the electric motor near the conventional engine or its exhaust and this may mean they need to tolerate temperatures never encountered in pure electric vehicles.

Motors for highly price-sensitive markets such as electric bikes, scooters, e-rickshaws and micro EVs (car-like vehicles not homologated as cars so made more primitively) should avoid the price hikes of neodymium and other rare earths in the magnets.

In-wheel and near-wheel motors in any vehicle need to be very compact. Sometimes they must be disc-shaped to fit in. However, fairly common requirements can be high energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness, high torque (3-4 times nominal value) for acceleration and hill climbing and peak power twice the rated value at high speeds. Wide operating torque range is a common and onerous requirement. Overall energy saving over the drive cycle is typically critical. Usually winding and magnet temperature must be kept below 120C and then there are issues of demagnetisation and mechanical strength.

Kamis, 21 Agustus 2014

BMW Formula E course cars to be equipped with Qualcomm wireless charging

The all-electric FIA Formula E Championship has today confirmed that its course cars for the inaugural season will be fitted with Qualcomm Halo™ wireless charging technology – an inductive charging system which allows the car’s battery to be charged without the use of cables.

With the final specification of car set to be announced shortly, the championship’s technical team took advantage of today’s final test at Donington Park to trial two BMW i8 and two BMW i3 models with the aim to evaluate them for the series’ official course cars. Earlier this year, the German marque was part of the Global Launch event of the Formula E in London.

All four BMWs have been specifically modified to meet FIA requirements, with one of the BMW i3 models featuring an inductive charging system from Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM), with the remaining three vehicles set to be adapted at a later stage. The technology has been developed by San Diego-based Qualcomm Incorporated, one of the official Founding and Technology Partners of the series and a global leader in 3G, 4G and next-generation wireless technologies. The Qualcomm Halo™ technology uses resonant magnetic induction to transfer energy between a ground-based pad and a charging pad fitted to the underside of the vehicle. The cars can then simply park over the base pad for charging to start automatically.

The chosen safety car – which will be officially entitled the Qualcomm Safety Car - will be driven by experienced driver Bruno Correia, whilst the medical and extraction cars will be overseen by FIA Medical Delegate Dr Phil Rayner and his team. The cars will be positioned at the end of the pitlane, charging wirelessly and ready to be rapidly deployed as required during each practice, qualifying and race.

Steve Pazol, GM, Wireless Charging at Qualcomm Incorporated, said: “Qualcomm is honoured to be an integral part of FIA’s Formula E Championship. As electric vehicles become more ubiquitous, charging them wirelessly is an obvious next step in the EV evolution and we are excited to showcase this in Formula E. Motorsport is a known proving ground for new technologies, and in addition to our wireless EV charging technology, Qualcomm will be bringing more of its technologies to bear as the series goes forward.” Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E, said: “Qualcomm’s wireless charging system is ground-breaking technology and represents an exciting evolution for charging electric vehicles. Wireless charging has the potential to radically improve the electric vehicle driver experience and Formula E provides the perfect platform in which to develop, test and showcase this exciting new technology.”

Formula E is the FIA’s new fully-electric single-seater championship designed to appeal to a new generation of motorsport fans, whilst accelerating the interest in electric vehicles and promoting sustainability. Competing entirely on city-centre circuits – with races also in China, Malaysia, Uruguay, USA, Monaco, Germany and the UK – it uses cars capable of speeds in excess of 150mph (225kph). Its 10 teams and 20 drivers feature some of the leading international names in motorsport including Alain Prost and Michael Andretti, along with high-profile environmental supporters including Sir Richard Branson.

Rabu, 20 Agustus 2014

LG Chem wins battery order from Audi for plug-in hybrid cars [VIDEO]

South Korea's LG Chem said on Wednesday it had won an order from Audi to supply batteries for its plug-in hybrid and micro hybrid electric vehicles.

LG Chem said the deal was "worth hundreds of millions of dollars" but declined to give further details. It said it expected to win more such orders from Audi parent Volkswagen in the future.

LG Chem, which has secured a total of 20 customers including General Motors, also it aims to achieve combined sales of over $10 billion from large-sized batteries by 2018.

Selasa, 19 Agustus 2014

LG Chem signs battery deal with Volkswagen [VIDEO]

LG Chem has agreed to supply electric-vehicle batteries to Volkswagen, a company executive said Tuesday.

"Volkswagen has designated LG Chem as one of its key battery-sourcing channels to push its electric car projects," the executive said by telephone on condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the issue. "LG is going to supply battery packs and solutions to the German carmaker."

The deal with Volkswagen is not as big as similar deals between LG and other leading carmakers such as General Motors and Ford, said the executive.

The partnership also involves collaboration on various products the German car manufacturer is working to develop as part of its electric-vehicle projects, part of its efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

For example, Volkswagen is working to attain "ultra-low-carbon mobility" for its new eGolf electric vehicle, said officials.

The vehicle is a fully electric version of Volkswagen's popular Golf.

"LG Chem will join futuristic electric car business projects such as [projects to develop] plug-in hybrid electric vehicles led by the German carmaker thanks to the latest battery deal," said the official.

An LG Chem spokesman declined to confirm.

LG Chem has been in talks with Volkswagen over the past four years regarding a business partnership involving batteries for electric vehicles.

The executive said it was Beijing's approval to proceed with LG's plans to build a battery joint venture in China that helped the LG Group affiliate land the partnership with Volkswagen.

Volkswagen plans to spend more than $2 billion on models and on two new facilities in China, increasing total investments in the world's biggest auto market to nearly $8 billion.

LG Chem Chief Financial Officer Cho Suk-jeh told investors and analysts that the company aimed to generate nearly 2 trillion won in revenue from its large battery business, including energy systems, by 2016.

The petrochemical business is the biggest cash cow for LG Chem, accounting for 77 percent of its 5.87 trillion won in sales in the second quarter. Batteries accounted for 12.3 percent and electronic information materials 12.1 percent.

LG Chem is gradually cutting its reliance on petrochemical products as part of an effort to diversify its revenue sources.

On a related note, in 2016 the company plans to begin providing carmakers with batteries capable of powering electric vehicles for at least 200 miles (322 kilometers).

LG Chem currently supplies lithium-ion batteries to General Motors, Ford, Hyundai-Kia, Renault, Volvo, and other carmakers. The 200-mile-plus range of the new batteries is roughly double that of the company's current, first-generation electric-vehicle batteries.

Senin, 18 Agustus 2014

WORLD FIRST: Electric Racer beats field of petrol powered cars.. twice

With less than 4 weeks to go until the inaugural FIA Formula E race in Beijing China, an electric race car in Australia has already made history.

In what is believed to be a world first, a battery powered Radical SR8 entered by ELMOFO in the NSW SuperSports State Championship has become the first electric car to win a race against petrol vehicles in a sanctioned race event. To prove it was no fluke, it won twice!

Not only did the EV win two of the three races comprising round four of the championship, held 17th August at Wakefield Park Raceway, the ELMOFO Radical, driven by Garth Walden, also set the fastest lap time for the entire meeting (57.6870 sec) beating all other categories which included Formula 3 and Sports Sedans.

The ELMOFO Radical is similar in concept to the current Nürburgring EV lap record, the TMG EV P001 built by Toyota Motorsport GmbH and the TMG EV P002 modified by TOYOTA Racing Development U.S.A. to tackle Pikes Peak in 2013.

The race winning electric Radical SREV was built by Newcastle based Solar PV systems firm Solar Power Australia. The car delivers 280 kw (375 hp) and 570 Nm (428 ft-lbs) of torque almost instantly from its twin sequential BLDC motors. Power is controlled by dual Rinehart Motion Systems inverters which are fed voltage from a 37 kWh lithium ion battery pack controlled by a Batrium BMS. Power is transmitted to the rear wheels via a single speed limited slip differential. Performance specs for the all-electric racer, built on a Radical SR8 chassis, include 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.5 seconds, 0 to 160 km/h (100 mph) in 6.5 seconds with a top speed of 265 km/h (165 mph).

The 2014 CAMS NSW SuperSports Championship is mostly a one-make series for Radicals, with a couple of Stohr WF1 single seaters also contesting the series. The ELFOMO team have worked hard over the previous three rounds to debug the car and the wins are a just reward for achieving solid reliability. Since the beginning of the season the car has demonstrated it had raw speed by routinely qualifying on the front row of the grid. In only round 4 of the championship the battery powered racer dominated from the front with Walden blasting well ahead of the pack for the first 4 or 5 laps and then backing off a little to preserve the car.

The ELMOFO team would like to thank Rinehart Motion Systems, AM Racing, Batrium, Garth Walden Racing, Royal Purple and the Supersports Racecar Club Committee who have been very supportive of the car, scheduling some races of a length that the battery powered vehicle could complete to ensure it’s inclusion in the series.

Minggu, 17 Agustus 2014

Silicon Valley startup Renovo Motors unveil $529,000 EV supercar [VIDEO]

When they started their company in 2010, the founders of Silicon Valley startup Renovo Motors saw a hole in the market for a pure electric supercar.

Today they revealed their first product, the $529,000 Renovo Coupe, scheduled to launch in the United States next year.

Performance specs for the all-electric two-seater, built on the Shelby CSX9000 chassis, include 0 to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds, with a top speed of 120 mph. The company says the car will deliver 370 kw (500 hp) and 1,356 Nm (1,000 ft-lbs) of torque almost instantly from its twin sequential axial flux motors. Power is controlled by dual RMS inverters which are fed high-voltage from a 740 volt lithium ion battery pack, with output power transmitted to the rear wheels via a single speed differential.

After developing the car in secrecy for the past four years, Renovo launched the running prototype last weekend at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The company plans to begin taking orders for a production run of less than 100 cars, with the first cars due to be delivered in California next year.

Renovo’s founders, Christopher Heiser and Jason Stinson, previously worked at the computer security company Verisign and chipmaker Intel. Though they are new to the industry, they hope to find space in the supercar market alongside venerable names such Ferrari and Lamborghini, and relative newcomers such as Pagani and Koenigsegg.

Though many luxury brands and exotic car companies are starting to offer plug-in hybrids and pure EVs, including Ferrari and McLaren with their LaFerrari and P1, Heiser said in an interview Thursday that no one offers a product like the Renovo Coupe. That includes their Silicon Valley neighbor and inspiration of sorts, Tesla Motors Inc., which stopped selling its Roadster sports car in 2012.

Source: Renovo Motors

Jumat, 15 Agustus 2014

Tesla Model S Drive Unit now has Infinite Mile Warranty

Following recent negative reports about Tesla Model S drive unit reliability, Tesla has increased the Model S drive unit warranty to match that of the battery pack. That means the 85 kWh Model S, the most popular model by far, now has an 8 year, infinite mile warranty on both the battery pack and drive unit. There is also no limit on the number of owners during the warranty period. Moreover, the warranty extension will apply retroactively to all Model S vehicles ever produced.

The drive unit is now covered under the same provisions as the existing battery warranty, so owners with an 85 kWh battery will benefit from eight years of coverage with no mileage restrictions, while 60 kWh owners have up to 125,000 miles.

The drive unit issue, described as a grinding or “milling” noise that increases over time, was picked up by Motor Trend Magazine who reported that they had to have a drive unit replaced in their Model S. The issue really hit the headlines when Edmunds reported they are on their 4th drive train.

Tesla had transmission issues with the Roadster. The two-speed transmission designed for the Roadster by Magna International proved not to be durable so in 2008 Tesla Motors selected BorgWarner for the production of a single-speed gearbox.

While the single speed BorgWarner fixed gear (8.27:1 ratio) transmission in the Roadster was reliable, anecdotal evidence suggests the BorgWarner eGearDrives supplied for the the Ford eTransit Connect has quite a high failure rate. The source of the current 9.73:1 gearbox in the Model S is not known but because the transmission housing is integrated with the AC Induction motor enclosure and without knowing which components have failed, it's too early to attribute blame for the design fault.

When you take into consideration how common transmission failures are within the automotive industry and how high performance the Tesla Model S is, it's not so surprising to find the powertrain needs some mechanical debugging. For example, Subaru have been making the Impreza WRX since 1992 yet after two decades in production this high performance model is still prone to transmission failure. The only sure way to avoid mechanical transmission issues / losses is to delete all gearing and differentials from the vehicle by using direct drive wheel motors.

The standard warranty for Tesla Model S is 4 year, 50,000 mile (80,000 km). In April last year Tesla announced an unlimited "no-fault" battery warranty. Elon Musk says that in hindsight, the infinite warranty should have been policy for the powertrain from the beginning of the Model S program. If they truly believe that electric motors are fundamentally more reliable than gasoline engines, with far fewer moving parts and no oily residue or combustion byproducts to gum up the works, then the warranty policy should reflect that.

Fully Charged - Tesla Model S Road Trips [VIDEO]

Robert Llewellyn has had the opportunity to do a couple of long road trips in the Tesla Model S this year.

One to Cornwall and the Eden Project with co-driver Simon Hackett and more recently to Edinburgh and the Fringe Festival.

Kamis, 14 Agustus 2014

BYD Electric Bus Goes 1,200 km in 24 hours

The Antelope Valley Transit Authority’s (AVTA) new electric BYD bus is performing better than advertised! AVTA and BYD operators put the electric bus to the test this weekend during a 24-hour marathon ride that looped from Rosamond to Palmdale a total of 18 times.

The BYD bus managed to travel an astounding 746 miles (1,193 kms) over the 24-hour period, operating in three shifts. Each shift logged between 240 and 256 miles before recharging the battery. “This is tremendous news and it proves the BYD electric bus can be a transit work horse like its diesel counterpart,” stated Board Chair Norm Hickling. “We are looking forward to putting our electric buses into service on local transit routes to further evaluate their true performance under all weather and road conditions.”

This weekend’s 24-hour marathon began on Saturday at 1:04 in the afternoon starting from the BYD factory in Lancaster. AVTA’s electric bus was loaded with 5,250 lbs. of sand bags to simulate the weight of 35 passengers. The bus traveled a total of 240 miles before its first battery charge, which is nearly 100 miles more than BYD advertises and 30 miles more than is needed to service an average transit route in the Antelope Valley. The air conditioning system ran during most of the test except during the early morning hours when it was cold outside.

This is the second test for AVTA’s electric bus. Its first unofficial test was July 29 when it traveled to Los Angeles to pick up the consul general of the Chinese Consulate who was scheduled to tour the BYD manufacturing facility in Lancaster. AVTA offered to pick up the Chinese delegation using its new BYD bus in order to test the zero emission vehicle’s performance on the 14 freeway. After circulating downtown, the electric bus easily climbed the 14 Freeway grade which has an elevation change of nearly 4,000 feet. The 92-mile trip ended in Lancaster, CA with 64% of the bus’ battery life still remaining.

“We are ecstatic to see our electric bus performing so well. Our 12-month demonstration project is now off the ground and we could not be more pleased at the early results,” stated Executive Director Julie Austin. “We are also hopeful our plans to install wireless charging stations at AVTA’s two main transfer centers will extend the battery life of our electric buses even more than BYD technology can guarantee.”

Consumer Reports: Tesla Model S: Problems After 15,000 Miles [VIDEO]

The Tesla Model S electric car earned the highest score ever in Consumer Reports tests, and owners love them.

But after 20 months and over 15,000 miles, CR’s test car has had more than its fair share of problems.

Smart electric drive drag race [VIDEO]

The smart fortwo electric drive is a champion of urban mobility. But is it a champion of the drag strip? Against some of the fastest cars in the city?!

Remember, in urban driving top speed means nothing, it's the first 5 meters that count!

Rabu, 13 Agustus 2014

Brammo Expands into Australia and Welcomes ELMOFO to Dealer Network

Brammo has announced the appointment of ELMOFO (Electro Motive Force) as their importer and distributor for Australia.

Brammo is excited to partner with ELMOFO, who have a deep understanding of the Australian EV market and the challenges associated with building premium electric vehicles.

Commenting on this latest appointment, Founder and CEO of Brammo Inc., Craig Bramscher, said, “Our vision continues to be to bring our world-class motorcycles to leading global markets. This partnership marks a significant milestone in our expansion. We look forward to being part of the Australian EV market and working with ELMOFO.”

"Over the past two years, ELMOFO has been searching globally for the best two wheel EV company to provide electric motorcycles to the Australian market. Brammo offers award-winning, leading-edge technology that will bring a real world impact to Australian riders," said Brett Sutherland, CEO of ELMOFO.

ELMOFO have been racing a battery powered Radical, the current electric lap record holder and the only electric powered vehicle in a field of petrol powered cars in the NSW SuperSports State Championships.

Selasa, 12 Agustus 2014

Silicon Carbide Power Electronics Can Slash $6,000 From Cost of Tesla Model S

Wide bandgap (WBG) materials such as silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) are best positioned to address emerging power electronics performance needs in electric vehicles (EVs), with SiC displacing silicon as early as 2020, according to Lux Research.

As silicon struggles to meet higher performance standards, WBG materials are benefiting critically from evolving battery economics. On Tesla Model S, for example, a 20% power savings can result in gains of over $6,000 in battery cost, or 8% of the vehicle's cost.

"Efficient power electronics is key to a smaller battery size, which in turn has a positive cascading impact on wiring, thermal management, packaging, and weight of electric vehicles," said Pallavi Madakasira, Lux Research Analyst and the lead author of the report titled, "Silicon vs. WBG: Demystifying Prospects of GaN and SiC in the Electrified Vehicle Market."

"In addition to power electronic modules, opportunities from a growing number of consumer applications -- such as infotainment and screens -- will double the number of power electronic components built into a vehicle," she added.

Lux Research analysts evaluated system-level benefits WBG materials are bringing to the automotive industry, and predicted a timeline for commercial roll-outs of WBG-based power electronics. Among their findings:

  • Power saving threshold lower for EVs. At 2% power savings, if battery costs fall below $250/kWh, SiC diodes will be the only economic solution in EVs requiring a large battery, such as the Tesla Model S. However, for plug-in electric vehicles (PHEVs), the threshold power savings needs to be a higher 5%.

  • SiC ahead in road to commercialization. SiC diodes lead GaN in technology readiness and will attain commercialization sooner, based on the current Technology Readiness Level (TRL). Based on the TRL road map, SiC diodes will be adopted in vehicles by 2020.

  • Government funding is driving WBG adoption. The U.S., Japan and the United Kingdom, among others, are funding research and development in power electronics. The U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Power Electronics and Electric Motors is spending $69 million this year and defining performance and cost targets; the Japanese government funds a joint industry and university R&D program that includes Toyota, Honda and Nissan.
  • Sabtu, 09 Agustus 2014

    New Tesla Roadster coming in 2017

    According to a recent report, Tesla could launch up to four new models by 2018.

    While we already know about the Model X and the Model 3, Autobild is reporting the company is considering a compact city car.

    Little is known about the vehicle - which has been dubbed the Model C - but it would be smaller and more affordable than the Model 3 which is expected to cost approximately $35,000.

    The magazine goes says a new roadster - dubbed Model R - could arrive in 2017. This seems to contradict statements from Tesla CEO Elon Musk who has previously said an all-new Roadster is at least five years off. However, the wait could be worth it as Tesla's vice president of sales, George Blankenship, has previously suggested it could accelerate from 0-60 mph in less than four seconds and have a range in excess of 200 miles (322 km).

    Jumat, 08 Agustus 2014

    Bugatti plan new 1500 hp Hybrid with axial flux motor & electric turbos

    Autocar report that a new Bugatti Veyron is currently undergoing initial conceptual engineering tests in a programme aimed at unveiling the car in 2016 prior to a planned start to customer deliveries the following year. According to sources close to Bugatti, early test 
mules for the new car exist 
and have already been 
pressed into action in an 
early round of testing.

    “Five developmental prototypes with differing powertrain combinations have been constructed up to now,” said one insider. “They are based on the existing car 
but use various solutions 
that are being considered for the new model.”

    Following recent arrivals such as the McLaren P1, Porsche 918 Spyder and LaFerrari, the new Bugatti will feature a battery powered hybrid electric powertrain. The same quad-turbocharged 8.0-litre W16 powerplant as 
its predecessor will be retained but with the possible addition of electric turbochargers, perhaps along the lines of those used by Porsche in LMP1 (Porsche and Bugatti are both part of the VW group) and the 2014 Formula One ERS MGU-H (where the H stands for heat).

    The big news centres around plans to provide the new Bugatti with hybrid drive by way of a disc-shaped Axial Flux electric motor mounted within the gearbox housing. Together, the petrol engine and electric motor are said to deliver up to 1500 hp. By comparison, the Veyron Super Sport has 1183 hp.

    Autocar sources suggest that torque will be capped at 1500 Nm for the sake of gearbox reliability. A Veyron Super Sport already has 1500 Nm from 3000 to 5000 rpm. With an Axial Flux AC Induction motor able to generate almost as much torque (1250 Nm from the EE in-wheel motor) The Bugatti hybrid electric powertrain design looks like a very conservative step with full potential limited by the fragility of it's mechanical driveline.

    The new hybrid Veyron should have some fairly startling performance in electric only mode (if it has one - see LaFerrari), but in parallel mode, other than providing torque fill below 3,000 rpm, (partly explaining why Bugatti expect 0-100 km/h times to drop to 2.3 sec) the full potential of the hybrid powerplant will be restricted by a mechanical transmission layout that may not have moved on much from the current Veyron.

    As with the McLaren P1, a hybrid that still idles in traffic, or the LaFerrari which has no pure EV mode, the new Bugatti may succeed in combined the superior low rpm torque characteristics of an electric motor to give the instant throttle response and acceleration of an EV, what McLaren call 'torque fill', with the enormous top end torque of a large displacement forced induction ICE, but in common with the aforementioned hybrid hypercars, it may be very much a first generation mild hybrid.

    As Bugatti are testing five prototypes with differing powertrain combinations perhaps there are some surprises still in store. With an expected sales date in 2017 the new Veyron should be much father down the road technically than either the McLaren of LeFerrari. The current cutting edge is represented by the Mercedes SLS E-Drive with it's wheel motor powertrain allowing full blown dynamic torque vectoring to amazing effect.

    In fact it was a Mitsubishi developed wheel motor powertrain with S-AWC (Mitsubishi brand for torque vectoring) that recently re-set the record books at Pikes Peak finishing 2nd and 3rd outright with only one ICE powered car preventing an EV clean sweep in 2014.

    Is it too much to hope for a Bugatti with torque vectoring or will we have to wait for future evolutions of hybrid supercar powertrain design before we see anything truly revolutionary.

    Kamis, 07 Agustus 2014

    Next Generation Volt to debut at 2015 @ Detroit Auto Show

    The next generation Chevrolet Volt will debut at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Global Chevrolet Chief Marketing Officer Tim Mahoney said today.

    The 2016 Volt will build on the award-winning original's strong foundation of technology innovation. Volt sales were up 13 percent in July and more than 65,000 have been sold since it was introduced – making it the best-selling plug-in passenger car in the U.S. market.

    "Volt is the perfect example of the ingenuity that drives everything we do at Chevrolet," Mahoney said at the Center for Automotive Research Management Briefings. "Volt fully delivers on the promises of Find New Roads and will continue to provide consumers with the transportation solutions they need and deserve in the future."

    Volt owners are driving more than 63 percent of their overall miles in electric vehicle mode, collectively logging more than 500 million gas-free miles since the Volt's retail debut in 2010. That has saved more than 25 million gallons of gasoline.

    While the driving range in EV mode can be affected by temperature, driving technique and terrain, the ease with which Volt drivers are avoiding gasoline use demonstrates the Volt's suitability for almost any lifestyle.

    Volt owners who charge regularly typically drive more than 970 miles between fill-ups and visit the gas station less than once a month.

    The Volt has received multiple customer satisfaction awards from leading third-parties. According to a recent leading independent satisfaction survey, the Volt is the highest-rated compact car under $55,000. Owners are showing their satisfaction as well. For the past three years, a leading customer publication has reported survey results showing more than 90 percent of Volt owners said they would definitely buy a Volt again.

    The Volt continues to draw buyers from non-General Motors' products. In the 2013 calendar year, nearly seven of 10 new Volt buyers traded in a non-GM vehicle, the majority of which were Toyota Priuses.

    Among its accolades, the 2014 Volt has been recognized for its safety, most recently receiving the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety 2014 Top Safety Pick+ designation for vehicles equipped with an available Forward Collision Alert system.

    Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Best Seller on UK Gov Grant Scheme

    The Outlander PHEV is helping Mitsubishi sales success in the UK.

    In July Outlander PHEV outsold all other vehicles which qualify for the governments Plug-in Car Grant, accounting for 43% of successful applications. This car has received huge levels of public interest, driven by the vehicle’s outstanding fuel consumption of 148 MPG and low emission credentials – 44g/km.

    Toby Marshall, Director of Sales & Marketing for Mitsubishi Motors in the UK, said: “Now that the sales figures are in for July, it is clear to see we have made significant progress so far this year. The addition of the game-changing Outlander PHEV to our vehicle line-up has helped boost Mitsubishi brand awareness, increasing sales of all models in our range.”

    Rabu, 06 Agustus 2014

    New Rechargeable Cell Has 7x Higher Energy Density Than Li-ion Cells

    A Japanese research group developed a rechargeable battery based on a new principle in cooperation with Nippon Shokubai Co Ltd.

    The group is led by Noritaka Mizuno, professor at the School of Engineering, the University of Tokyo. The new battery uses the oxidation-reduction reaction between oxide ions and peroxide ions at the positive electrode. The group proved that peroxides are generated and dispersed due to charge and discharge reactions by using a material made by adding cobalt (Co) to the crystal structure of lithium oxide (Li2O) for the positive electrode, verifying a battery system based on a new principle.

    The new technology can realize an energy density seven times higher than that of existing lithium (Li)-ion rechargeable batteries, increase capacity, lower price and enhance safety. It is expected to be used for batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) and next-generation stationary batteries.

    The oxidation-reduction reaction between Li2O and Li2O2 (lithium peroxide) and oxidation-reduction reaction of metal Li are used at the positive and negative electrodes, respectively, of the new battery. The battery has a theoretical capacity of 897mAh per 1g of the positive/negative electrode active material, voltage of 2.87V and theoretical energy density of 2,570Wh/kg.

    At that time, the energy density is 370Wh per 1kg of the positive/negative electrode active material, which is about seven times higher than that of existing Li-ion rechargeable batteries using LiCoO2 positive electrodes and graphite negative electrodes. The theoretical energy density of the new battery is lower than that of lithium-air batteries (3,460Wh/kg). But it has a sealed structure like conventional Li-ion batteries, realizing a high reliability and safety.

    This time, as the positive electrode material, the research group used a material made by using a planetary ball mill to add Co to the crystal structure of LiO2. And the group proved that it is possible to realize a battery system in which the oxidation-reduction reaction between oxides and peroxides reversibly proceeds. And it proved that (1) peroxides are generated in the positive electrode for charge, (2) the peroxides are dispersed for discharge and (3) those reactions are repeated, by quantitatively analyzing the peroxides.

    The group also proved that neither O2 nor CO2 is generated in the range where it is possible to reversibly charge/discharge the battery.

    The positive electrode used in the demonstration test enables to repeatedly charge/discharge the battery with a capacity of 200mAh/g and to quickly charge/discharge the battery with a large current. The positive electrode has a smaller mass ratio of Co than LiCoO2, which is used for existing Li-ion batteries, and possibly lowers costs.

    First Siemens e-highway in the USA by 2015 [VIDEO]

    For the first time ever, electric trucks powered by overhead cables will run in the USA and help to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) has given the go-ahead for Siemens to install an e-highway system for test purposes close to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the biggest in the USA.

    The Siemens e-highway electrifies selected traffic lanes using an overhead cable system. As a result, trucks can be supplied with electricity in the same way as trams. Working together with the Volvo Group and its Mack brand, Siemens is developing a demonstration vehicle for the project. Siemens is also working with local truck integrators in California whose vehicles will be part of the test as well.

    The overhead cable infrastructure will now be installed in two directions in Carson (California) near Los Angeles. The project is expected to begin in July 2015 and will last a year. During the test phase, up to four trucks will travel up and down the route every day. The "e-trucks" are equipped with a hybrid drive system and intelligent current collectors. Powered by electricity from overhead cables, they produce no emissions when operating in the local area. On roads without overhead cables, the vehicles use an electric drive system which can be powered by diesel, compressed natural gas, a battery or with other energy sources. The current collector allows the vehicles to overtake and automatically dock and undock at speeds of up to 90 kilometers per hour.

    The e-highway concept is particularly effective from an environmental and economic point of view on heavily used and relatively short truck routes, e.g. between ports, industrial estates, freight transport centers and central transshipment terminals. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are looking for a zero-emission solution ("Zero Emission I-710 Project") for a section of the Interstate I-710. Around 35,000 shuttle truck journeys currently take place here every day. The intention is to set up a "zero emission corridor" for shuttle traffic between the two sea ports and the inland rail transshipment centers around 30 kilometers away. This will help to ease the pressure on the environment in a region which is plagued by smog. The aim is to eliminate local emissions completely, reduce the use of fossil fuels, cut operating costs and establish a basis for using the system on a commercial basis in the future

    Nissan, Mitsubishi to launch low-cost electric car by 2016

    Nissan Motor and Mitsubishi Motors will work together to develop a minicar-based electric vehicle, aiming to release a new model in fiscal 2016 at the lowest price among major automakers.

    The carmakers have set up a 50-50 joint venture to pursue development.

    Nissan, which released the Leaf electric car in 2010, is the world's largest manufacturer of electric vehicles, with global sales of at least 124,000 units. Mitsubishi has a track record in this area as well, including the minicar-based i-MiEV released in 2009. They plan to co-produce the new car and work together to procure such key components as lithium-ion batteries.

    The i-MiEV is the cheapest electric passenger car on the Japanese market, starting at $26,440. When government subsidies of up to $7,760 are included, it can be purchased for as little as $18,680.

    By basing the new EV on a minicar, Nissan and Mitsubishi expect to sell it for around $15,000 including subsidies, the lowest price among major automakers and similar to gas-fueled compacts.

    Minggu, 03 Agustus 2014

    Bosch Launches Next Generation E-Bike Systems [VIDEO]

    Bosch eBike Systems is introducing two new drive systems which will be available next to the existing Classic+ line. The newcomers are called Active Line and Performance Line. Both Lines have a new mid-motor developed by Bosch which is smaller and lighter than the current one. It's also not possible to mount it upside down at 220º as the Classic+ one. Thanks to its design the new drive unit of both Active and Performance lines offer even for the sportive segment enough ground clearance.

    While the Classic+ drive system is offered in both up to 25 km/h and up to 45 km/h versions, the new agile Active Line comes only in a 25 km/h version and stands for "carefree enjoyment". The more dynamic and powerful Performance Line offers next to a 25 km/h also a 45 km/h version for derailleur-equipped bicycles. Also new is that the Active Line offers a version for coaster brake bikes.

    Also new at the Active and Performance Lines are 'drivetrains'. Bosch means by that a drive concept ensuring optimal coordination by relying on three sensors for force, cadence, and speed. According to Bosch there are now, "1,000 sensor measurements per second and more powerful electronics with a modern 32-bit processor." Also new: gear shift detection for derailleur systems. "During shifting, the torque is reduced at precisely at the right moment and then increased, resulting in a smooth shifting process which reduces stress on the components and cuts down on wear."

    Not only the mid drive unit and rear carriers that hold the battery pack are tuned, but also the Intuvia onboard computer that comes with the Bosch e-bike kit. More functions are available as well as more modes: eco, tour, sport, turbo, and off. Both Active and Performance e-bike kits weigh less than four kilograms (Classic+: 4.1 kilos).

    Jumat, 01 Agustus 2014

    Mercedes-Benz S 500 Plug-In Hybrid goes on sale

    The Mercedes-Benz S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID can be ordered for prices from 108,944.50 euros[1]. The S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID blends an ultramodern hybrid drive configuration with the unique innovations and the luxurious equipment and appointments of the S-Class. The luxury saloon with a long wheelbase impresses with unique dynamism and efficiency. Thanks to standard pre-entry climate control it also offers unique climate comfort. In September the first certified three-litre luxury saloon in the world will be arriving at the dealers - a further milestone on the road to emission-free mobility.

    "The new S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID offers our customers the entire range of innovations that make our new S-Class so successful, and thanks to its intelligent operating strategy ensures outstanding driving pleasure and dynamism combined with the highest efficiency. Moreover, it allows completely emission-free driving for up to 33 km," says Ola Källenius, Executive Vice-President for Sales at Mercedes-Benz Cars.

    "The S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID is the first luxury saloon with the performance of a V8 and the fuel consumption of a compact model. The greatest challenge in this is to translate highest efficiency into superior performance. In this respect there is a highly interesting parallel with our successful Formula 1 racing car, which likewise has a turbocharged V6 engine and hybrid drive," says Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber, member of the Daimler AG Executive Board responsible for corporate research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.

    The Mercedes-Benz S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID offers a system output of 325 kW and 650 Nm torque, and in just 5.2 seconds sprints from 0 to 100 km/h and can drive up to 33 km purely electrically. The certified consumption is 2.8 litres/100 km, which corresponds to 65 g CO2/km emissions. Key elements of this impressive output are the V6 biturbo and the intelligent hybrid drive. Following the S 400 HYBRID and S 300 BlueTEC HYBRID the S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID is the third hybrid model in the new S-class. Its new high-voltage lithium-ion battery can be externally recharged via the charging socket in the right side of the rear bumper.

    In order to strengthen the customers' trust in the new, innovative PLUG-IN HYBRID drive system, for the S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID Mercedes-Benz is for the first time issuing a certificate and thus a promise to perform for the high-voltage battery and PLUG-IN HYBRID components (e.g. e-machine and power electronics). This ensures that every technical malfunction within a period of six years after initial delivery or registration, or up to a mileage of 100,000 kilometres, is corrected by Mercedes-Benz.

    The technical data at a glance:
    Internal combustion engine:
    Number of cylinders/arrangement
    Mixture formation
    High-pressure injection, 2 turbochargers
    Displacement (cc)
    Rated output (kW/hp at rpm)
    245/333 at 5250-6000
    Rated torque (Nm at rpm)
    480 at 1600-4000
    Electric motor:
    Output (kW)
    Torque (Nm)
    System output (kW/hp)
    System torque (Nm)1
    Consumption combined from (l/100 km)2
    CO2 emissions combined from (g/km)2
    Efficiency class
    Electric range (km)
    Charge time 20%-100% (400 V/16 A – 230 V/8 A)3(h)
    2 – 4.1
    Acceleration 0-100 km/h (s)
    Top speed (km/h)1
    Top speed electric (km/h)1
    Price (euros)4
    Electronically limited, In accordance with NEDC, 3 Charge time at 230 V/8 A e.g. at a commercially available socket. Through settings on the control element of the charging cable shorter charge times can be realised (standard setting: 8 A), provided that the power supply system is designed for this. Charge time at 400 V/16 A e.g. at a wallbox. The voltage and current ratings indicated refer to the power supply infrastructure and can be limited by the car. Sales price in Germany, incl. 19 percent VAT

    Audi planning to challenge Tesla with 500-700 km range EVs

    Audi this week proudly launched their first plug-in hybrid, the A3 Sportback e-tron, a full 17 years after the Prius.

    Auto Bild has revealed Audi plans to catch-up with the competition in automotive electrification with two purely electric Audi SUV, the A2Q and Q6 expected around 2017/18.

    A2Q with up to 500 km electric range

    If the expected advances in battery technology are true, the compact A2Q, expected in 2016, will have 500 km battery range. Seen as a competitor against BMW's i3, Audi will not develop a completely new electric platform but uses the familiar MQB modular architecture of Golf/A3.

    Audi Q6 as Tesla competitor

    The Q6, internally designated within Audi as the Tesla Fighter, is expected to be a coupe-like offshoot of the Q5 and come with 700 km battery range with a launch date around 2017. A larger battery powered Q7/8 is also expected around 2017.

    Test Driving the BMW i8 around London [VIDEO]

    BMW presented the new i8 hybrid supercar for the official UK launch at an event held in Mayfair, London. With two models on display auto buff Shmee takes a quick look around the car before jumping in for a test drive.

    Audi's first plug-in hybrid - A3 Sportback e-tron - now on sale in EU

    The first plug-in hybrid from Audi, the A3 Sportback e-tron, is now available to order for customers in Europe. Approximately 410 Audi dealers in Europe – including no fewer than 105 in Germany – are selling the A3 e-tron at a basic price of 37,900 euros on the German market. An individual installation check, the “e-tron plus” special package and “green” power from Audi complete the offering for the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron. The compact electric car will be handed over to its first customers this winter.

    “For Audi, the A3 Sportback e-tron marks another important step toward sustainable individual mobility,” states Wayne Griffiths, Head of Sales Germany at AUDI AG. “Our dealers have had an entirely positive response to the A3 Sportback e-tron, which shows that the combination of efficient drive technology and a sustainable energy source is really what the market is looking for.”

    The Audi A3 Sportback e-tron brings together a 1.4 TFSI gasoline engine and an electric motor, giving the compact automobile a system output of 150 kW (204 hp). The A3 Sportback e-tron’s fuel consumption in accordance with the NEDC standard for plug-in hybrid vehicles is just 1.5 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers (156.8 US mpg), with CO2 emissions of 35 grams per kilometer (56.3 g/mi). Under electric power alone it has a range of 50 kilometers (31.1 mi), and over 900 kilometers (559.2 mi) in combined mode. The basic price for the Audi A3 e-tron in Germany is 37,900 euros. Audi is also offering attractive leasing conditions: 319 euros per month with a term of 36 months.

    In Germany, the plug-in hybrid will be sold by 105 selected e-tron dealers; across Europe approximately 410 dealerships will sell the model. Their employees are receiving special training in sales and service relating to electric vehicles. Between mid-July and the end of August, Audi is providing training to around 2,000 sales, service and used car employees from all over Europe at its Training Center next to Munich. In addition, some 300 German high-voltage technicians and service advisors from Audi will undertake a technical training course at the Service Training Center in Neckarsulm.

    In future, every e-tron dealer will also have at least one charging station that e-tron customers can use, even after their purchase. The Audi A3 Sportback e-tron can be charged quickly via a charging point at the dealership, within the public charging infrastructure or at the customer’s home. For the latter option, Audi offers – in Germany – an individual installation service whereby a technician checks the electrics in the customer’s home, makes any adjustments that may be required and installs the charging dock, which is designed for safe, convenient charging.

    To ensure that sustainability is not compromised during the at-home charging process, customers in Germany can switch to environmentally friendly electricity, known as Audi energy. With Audi energy, the A3 Sportback e-tron is totally emission-free when operated electrically. All electricity all comes from hydroelectric power stations in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. To mark the start of the A3 Sportback e-tron, Audi has additionally put together the attractive “e-tron plus” package. In Germany it includes the charging dock, a cable for public charging points, MMI navigation plus, Audi connect and phone box.

    VW & Bosch working on automated park-and-charge systems for EVs [VIDEO]

    There are only a few minutes before your flight check-in closes, or before your train departs, but you now have to spend precious time hunting for a free space at the airport or station car park. Imagine leaving your vehicle at the main entrance and letting the car do the rest on its own. Researchers from Germany, Italy, the UK and Switzerland are working on this, and successful tests took place at Stuttgart airport earlier this year. €5.6 million of EU funding is invested in the system which will be available in the coming years.

    In the future, more and more people will drive electric cars and will switch from one mode of transport to another – creating the need for more and varied parking options at transport hubs. To prepare for this mobility shift, the V-CHARGE consortium is working on a fully automated parking and charging system for electric cars at public car parks.

    "The idea is that we can actually use technology to give people a better mix of public and private transport", explains Dr Paul Furgale, scientific project manager for V-CHARGE and deputy director of the autonomous systems lab at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.

    A smartphone app to leave and get back the car

    Drivers will be able to leave their car in front of the car park and use a smartphone app to trigger the parking process. The vehicle will connect with the car park’s server and drive itself to the designated space. While in the garage, the car can also be programmed to go to a charging station. Upon returning, the driver uses the same app to summon the car – fully charged and ready to go.

    Since GPS satellite signals don’t always work inside garages, the scientists have developed a camera-based system based on their expertise in robotics and environment sensing. Safety is at the centre of the project: the car is designed to avoid unexpected obstacles.

    Dr Furgale believes the same technology could be used to develop autonomous parking systems for electric cars on city streets. "That will be more of a challenge", he says. "But once you have the maps in place, the rest of the technology will come together."

    A system to be integrated into production

    In April, the team presented the latest version of the system at Stuttgart airport. This was a success and the researchers are now fine-tuning the technology to tackle more precise manoeuvres and ensure reliability, even in difficult weather conditions.

    The project is set to conclude in 2015, and its results available to be progressively commercialised in the coming years. The functions developed should be cost-effective enough to be integrated into production of electric vehicles. Engineers are working with equipment that is already available today such as ultrasonic sensors and stereo cameras that are used in parking assistance and emergency braking systems.