Home > Electric Vehicles > Auto Industry Heavy Hitters Talk Up Hybrids & EVs at SAE Symposium (Part 2 of 3)

Auto Industry Heavy Hitters Talk Up Hybrids & EVs at SAE Symposium (Part 2 of 3)

March 16th, 2011

The SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) hosted an international symposium on hybrid and electric vehicle technology Feb 9-11, 2011. Bob Weed, CDA Vice President, OEM, gives his impressions.

Re-charging a Ford Fusion EV, quick and easy.

The recent SAE 2011 Hybrid Vehicle Technologies Symposium in Anaheim, Calif., brought out the leading OEMs in PHEV & EV, who gave their predictions on how electric vehicles technology is evolving and what’s needed to ensure its success. So what does this have to do with copper? Copper plays an important role in all electric vehicle technologies. It’s found in propulsion motors, regenerative braking systems and battery-pack conductors, as well as traditional applications such as electrical and electronic equipment, audio-visual accessories and wiring harnesses. Studies have shown that hybrids and EVs contain between 1 ½ -3 times the weight of copper as found in their internal combustion engine counterparts. 

According to Chuck Gray, Chief Engineer, Core Electrification Engineering at Ford Motor Co., half of all U.S. vehicles are driven fewer than 25 miles daily and about two-thirds of the total drive only about 40 miles every day. His studies also showed that for commutes under 40 miles, 70% of the distance was on surface streets rather than freeways. Fuel costs also are a big deal for Americans. Gray predicts these factors will lead to an increased interest in hybrid and electric vehicles among American consumers. 

Ford already has had success in this arena. By producing a hybrid vehicle first, and adapting what they learned to a plug-in hybrid, Ford has been able to use the same components for eight of the 11 most critical (and expensive) applications. Ford plans to maintain a balanced portfolio of electric powertrain vehicles. Volume sales will come from the hybrid electric vehicles, but plug-ins are gaining consumer acceptance. HEVs and PHEVs are expected to make up 2-5% of Ford’s inventory by 2015 and 10-25% of the company’s total product by 2020. Read more about Ford’s hybrid and electric vehicle technology here. 

Bob Taenaka, Technical Leader, Advanced Battery Systems, Ford Motor Co., said the company has had great success using the NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) batteries in hybrid vehicles. Ford launched the Escape and Mariner hybrids using this technology in 2004, followed by the Fusion and Milan hybrids in 2009. Ford-produced hybrid taxis in New York City and San Francisco have successfully logged more than 200,000 miles with no battery cell wear-out failures. 

In the last five years, Ford has achieved a 20% increase in battery power, while decreasing battery weight by 23%. Taenaka said Ford plans to adapt lithium-ion batteries in the future because they have a 10-20% lower cell volume and a 50% lower cell weight. These batteries also are more energy efficient, have reduced thermal management needs and provide simpler state-of-charge (SOC) monitoring.

Pete Savagian, Director, Hybrid Powertrain Systems Engineering for General Motors, said the new PHEV/EV technology is important given that petroleum supplies 25% of the world’s total energy, but it accounts for 95% of the energy used for transportation. GM is focusing on improving fuel economy by providing the most consumption reduction with the least expense. Their areas of focus include engine idle stop, reducing engine and driveline losses, aerodynamic improvements, low rolling resistance tires and the capture of lower power regenerative energy.

If you look at a mid-sized full hybrid vehicle, it yields a 35% reduction in consumption or a 54% increase in fuel economy. If you have a full hybrid with the vehicle efficiency improvements proposed by GM, you could see a 39% reduction in consumption, or a 65% increase in fuel economy, a significant increase by today’s engineering standards.  

GM will introduce this technology in the 2012 Buick LaCrosse with a 2.4L Ecotec engine and the eAssist powertrain. This system will utilize a 115V/15kW lithium-ion battery system that takes up very little room in the trunk area. Battery thermal management will be accomplished by forced air cooling. Though this system is not applicable to a plug-in hybrid, it should be available on other future GM models and provide a supplement to the significant hybrid technology employed on the Chevrolet Volt. Read more about GM’s powertrain technology here 

If you’d like more information about this exciting technology and copper’s role in it, please email me, rweed@cda.copper.org.

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