Newsbriefs: New hybrid systems and transmissions, V2G projections and battery-swapping

February 13, 2014 § Leave a comment

kia soul ev_2Alongside the Soul EV, Kia’s going to show off a new hybrid system in Geneva. This involves a 48V lead carbon battery, a small electric motor plus an electric supercharger which ups torque and power at low engine speeds. It gives a short electric-only range and all-electric cruising, features regenerative braking and a stop-start system, and enables the downsizing of the standard battery.

Kia has also been testing the Soul EV in northern Sweden (pictured; apologies for another Kia pic this week, but it is scenic) to check out its cold-climate behaviour and range. Its driver-only ventilation system helps reduce the power drawn from the batteries; its new heat pump uses waste heat from the air conditioning and electrical systems; its new air intake control system better-controls the air flow and humidity inside the vehicle; and owners can also schedule the pre-heating or pre-cooling of the cabin 30 minutes before set-off.

  • Vehicle-to-grid: more than 250,000 V2G-enabled plug-in vehicles will hit the road 2013-2022, according to a new report from Navigant Research. These will enable owners/operators to sell power back to the grid, as well as reducing peak loads and balancing demand, and “smoothing the integration of renewable energy resources and generation revenue from ancillary services markets”, says the release. Basically, you can think of it as all the cars acting as storage devices, emergency back-ups and general repositories for solar/wind/hydro power, which is generated unevenly according to time, climactic conditions etc. And there’s the opportunity to make money there, of course, which is what everyone’s trying to work out.
  • Honda’s showing the new Civic Type R in Geneva, but of more interest to me will be the Euro debut of the FCEV Concept, previewing a production car to be launched in 2015. There’s also, if not the whole car, the powertrain for the new NSX supercar: a twin-turbo, direct-injection V6 with Honda’s all-wheel-drive hybrid system adding electrical assistance.
  • British firm Magnomatics – a spin-off from Sheffield University – has announced a second-generation version of its Magsplit eCVT transmission system for hybrid vehicles. This could potentially replace mechanical planetary gears and motor/generators as in conventional hybrid power-split transmissions, and is said to offer 1-2% fuel consumption savings, though the larger gains are in downsizing, reduced system complexity, no need for lubrication, and low battery charge swing, allowing a downsizing of the battery or longer battery life. More of the science bit explained here.
  • Bosch, Mitsubishi and GS Yuasa have formed a JV to develop next-generation lithium-ion battery tech, with the aim of doubling energy capacity and achieving “a giant leap forward”. More here.
  • Is there still  a place for battery-swapping in the wake of the demise of Better Place? Transport Evolved has the low-down on a Slovakian fleet operator which is using a simple, low-tech manual stacking system – similar to that of loading pallets onto a forklift – to keep its clients’ vans in action. Swaps can take just seven minutes, apparently, and one of its clients has done 24,000 miles in six months due to elimination of the downtime needed for charging.
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