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Archive for the ‘emissions’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Skoda Vision RS

Unveiled at the Paris Motor Show, the Skoda Vision RS shows the path the Czech manufacturer is likely to take for the next generation of its cars. This is a hatchback, sized like a Volkswagen Golf, but sharpened up to the level of a hot-hatch. The Vision RS, a concept car, rolled under the Paris Motor Show lights with a 1.5-liter turbocharged gas engine producing 148 horsepower but assisted with an additional electric motor good for 100 horsepower. As a hybrid, the Vision RS demonstrates Volkswagen’s uncanny ability to craft modern compact cars and transform them into hot hatchbacks – a type of a car the company is definitely versed in (just remember the Golf GTI, the Leon Cupra, the Audi S3, and the Octavia, among others).

PostHeaderIcon The Future of Renault Lies in this KWID-Based Electric Crossover Concept from the Paris Motor Show

Renault premiered the grand stage with an all-electric crossover concept called K-ZE. It will eventually head to the production line and reach the masses next year. The concept looks funky, and the production version may not be very different from the concept. Given the segment Renault has slotted it in, the car will most likely fetch big sales numbers.

PostHeaderIcon Make Way for the i4 – the Fifth Electric Vehicle in BMW’s Stable

BMW is adding yet another all-electric car to its portfolio – the i4. BMW Chairman Harald Krüger has announced at the ongoing Paris Motor Show that the i4 will be launched in 2021. The i4 becomes the fifth vehicle in the lineup, which already includes the BMW i3, 2019 MINI Electric, 2020 iX3, and the iNext.

PostHeaderIcon Elon Musk Accused of Fraud, SEC Sues to Remove Him from Tesla

Elon ‘Controversy’ Musk is in the news yet again. This time, it seems serious. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has accused Musk of fraud. What fraud, you ask? The agency says he made a series of “false and misleading” tweets about potentially taking Tesla private last month. They want him fired from Tesla.

PostHeaderIcon FCA Facing Big Fines Over Diesel Emissions Cheating

A new stage has been reached with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ legal troubles over alleged cheating diesels. The U.S. Department of Justice has offered to settle its lawsuit against the automaker if FCA recalls 104,000 Jeep and Ram vehicles equipped with the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 for a software upgrade and to pay a “very substantial” fine that, according to the DOJ, “adequately reflects the seriousness of the conduct that led to the violations.”

While the fine amount has not been disclosed, it will likely be far less than Volkswagen’s massive $30 billion fine over its emission test-dodging diesels fitted in 580,000 vehicles in the U.S. Globally, Volkswagen’s turbodiesel issue affected some 11 million vehicles. Estimates made last year by Barclays Plc, Mediobanca SpA and Evercore ISI say FCA could be liable for between $460 million and more than $1 billion.

Unlike Volkswagen, FCA has denied any wrongdoing or conscious effort to cheat on emissions testing with its EcoDiesel V-6. The EPA is also not requesting FCA conduct a buy-back of the vehicles. The diesels in question were sold in 2014 to 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Ram 1500 pickups. The EPA denied FCA permission to sell 2017 model year vehicles with the EcoDiesel.

The EcoDiesel’s still has a future, though. FCA says its updated EcoDiesel will make more power and be available in future vehicles. The new engine is said to have increased horsepower from 240 to 260 and torque from 420 to 442 pound-feet. The engine will return to the Jeep Grand Cherokee, debut in the new Jeep Wrangler JL, and be available in the new 2019 Ram 1500.

References


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Read more FCA news.

PostHeaderIcon FCA Facing Big Fines Over Diesel Emissions Cheating

A new stage has been reached with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ legal troubles over alleged cheating diesels. The U.S. Department of Justice has offered to settle its lawsuit against the automaker if FCA recalls 104,000 Jeep and Ram vehicles equipped with the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 for a software upgrade and to pay a “very substantial” fine that, according to the DOJ, “adequately reflects the seriousness of the conduct that led to the violations.”

While the fine amount has not been disclosed, it will likely be far less than Volkswagen’s massive $30 billion fine over its emission test-dodging diesels fitted in 580,000 vehicles in the U.S. Globally, Volkswagen’s turbodiesel issue affected some 11 million vehicles. Estimates made last year by Barclays Plc, Mediobanca SpA and Evercore ISI say FCA could be liable for between $460 million and more than $1 billion.

Unlike Volkswagen, FCA has denied any wrongdoing or conscious effort to cheat on emissions testing with its EcoDiesel V-6. The EPA is also not requesting FCA conduct a buy-back of the vehicles. The diesels in question were sold in 2014 to 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Ram 1500 pickups. The EPA denied FCA permission to sell 2017 model year vehicles with the EcoDiesel.

The EcoDiesel’s still has a future, though. FCA says its updated EcoDiesel will make more power and be available in future vehicles. The new engine is said to have increased horsepower from 240 to 260 and torque from 420 to 442 pound-feet. The engine will return to the Jeep Grand Cherokee, debut in the new Jeep Wrangler JL, and be available in the new 2019 Ram 1500.

References


maker logos - image 750373

Read more FCA news.

PostHeaderIcon London Poised To Enact New Ultra-Low Emissions Zone By 2021

In the ongoing effort to curb emissions amid growing concern over pollution and air quality, London is looking to enact expanded ultra-low emission zones (ULEZ) that will fine older-model vehicles to travel through the city. Some analysts estimate the move could force upwards of 1.6 million motorists into a more modern automobile, which is a huge shift in just three years’ time.

Continue reading for the full story.

The Full Story


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“Classic cars built between the '80s and early 2000's will also see a significant impact, which means enthusiasts driving machines like the Mazda MX-5, BMW M3, and VW Golf GTI might not be able to afford the vehicle as a daily driver in London traffic.”

Anyone who’s been stuck in gridlock in a major urban area will agree – breathing fumes is no fun. And while the necessary actions required to clamp down on air pollution remain a matter of debate, those living in and traveling through London will need to adapt to a new set of rules slated to go into effect in 2021 that fine individuals driving in older-model vehicles.

“Urgent action is required to tackle London’s air quality crisis and reduce emissions from older more polluting cars,” said Alex Williams, Director of City Planning at Transport for London (TfD). “We are currently consulting on expanding the ULEZ, which would see a 71 percent reduction in schools in high pollution areas in 2021 – lowering the exposure of school children to harmful toxins that can reduce their lung development.”

The expanded ultra-low emissions zone would levy a 12-pound charge (roughly a little over $17 at current exchange rates) against car owners for each day they use their older-model vehicle, with the ultimate goal being the widespread adoption of newer, lower-emission vehicles.

The rule change could affect upwards of 1.6 million motorists according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders, as reported byAutocar. That number is far more than the roughly 500,000 motorists as estimated by the Transport for London.

Owners of EU5-designated (Euro 5) diesels, the same models associated with the Diesel Gate scandal, are likely to be among those most affected by the new rules. Classic cars built between the ’80s and early 2000’s will also see a significant impact, which means enthusiasts driving machines like the Mazda MX-5, BMW M3, and VW Golf GTI might not be able to afford the vehicle as a daily driver in London traffic. If used every day, they will likely incur an additional annual cost of 4,380 pounds ($6,248 at current exchange rates).


London Poised To Enact New Ultra-Low Emissions Zone By 2021 - image 765049
“Additional proposals are lining up for other major cities in the U.K., including Birmingham, Manchester, and Oxford.”

Older classics (those built before 1981) will be exempt, as it’s argued they contribute only a small amount to overall air-quality degradation due to their low usage numbers.

Those affected by the new regulations are encouraged to contact the consultation putting the plan together to help the new proposal take shape.

Additional proposals are lining up for other major cities in the U.K., including Birmingham, Manchester, and Oxford.

Without a doubt, these new regulations affect less wealthy individuals more prominently, as it’s far more likely that those at the lower end of the income scale are the ones driving an older-model vehicle. Not only that, but less wealthy individuals are less likely to be able to afford the extra daily charge in the proposal.

Of course, the fact that air pollution in centralized cities is getting out of hand is more than obvious, and a tax on high-emissions vehicles is probably the most direct way to address it.

What would your reaction be if similar proposals were laid for a city in the U.S., such as New York or San Francisco? Let us know in the comments.

References


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Read more UK news.

PostHeaderIcon VW, BMW, and Daimler Also Gas-Chambered Humans In Diesel Emission Study

Earlier this week, we covered a story posted by The New York Times that revealed the big three German automakers (BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen) had funded research on the effects of diesel emissions, including an experiment that involved locking a group of monkeys in an airtight chamber and forcing the animals to breathe fumes. Now, it’s looking like a similar experiment took place that involved humans.

Continue reading for the full story.

The Full Story


BMW, Daimler, and VW Paid To Put Monkeys In Diesel-Emission Gas Chamber For “Research” - image 763868
“In 2014, BMW, Daimler, and VW financed an experiment conducted in the U.S. that subjected research monkeys to exhaust fumes in an effort to prove the latest oil burners were cleaner than their forerunners. Now it's coming to light that the three automakers also funded similar tests involving humans.”

And the plot once again thickens.

The public image of diesel is in a bad way right now, and it’s only getting worse. To recap, let’s start with the Diesel Gate scandal. Back in 2015, Volkswagen received a notice from the EPA about a series of violations regarding several of its diesel-equipped passenger cars, alleging the German automaker had equipped millions and millions of vehicles with emissions “defeat devices” that essentially reprogrammed the ECU to create fewer emissions in testing, but emit upwards of 40 times more NOx on the street. Volkswagen eventually had to pony up $26 billion in fines.

All told, diesels aren’t looking so great at the moment, but the latest news casts the fuel in an even worse light. Last week, The New York Times broke a story that in 2014, BMW, Daimler, and VW financed an experiment conducted in the U.S. that subjected research monkeys to exhaust fumes in an effort to prove the latest oil burners were cleaner than their forerunners. As an added wrinkle, the car producing the emissions, a diesel-equipped VW Beetle, was equipped with the very same defeat device that landed the automaker in hot water a year later.

Following revelations of the emission monkey experiment, Volkswagen’s CEO made a statement condemning the trials, while the company’s chief lobbyist took a leave of absence so that VW could conduct an investigation into the matter. There were also political repercussions, with Germany’s government issuing further condemnation. BMW and Daimler distanced themselves from the experiments.


Volkswagen Diesel Scandal Explained - image 649870
“It's believed the experiment was conducted in an effort to make diesel seem cleaner and more appealing, but in the end, it seems to have done more harm than good.”

Now it’s coming to light that the three automakers also funded similar tests involving humans. Revealed in an article published by the German newspaper Stuttgarter Zeitung, the latest is that the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (or E.U.G.T., the same group funded by BMW, Daimler, and VW that financed the emission monkey experiment) also financed a similar experiment at the German University of Aachen which involved 25 human participants.

It’s believed the experiment was conducted in an effort to make diesel seem cleaner and more appealing, but in the end, it seems to have done more harm than good.

Nevertheless, according to Bloomberg, the human study followed all the correct procedures and ethics protocols.

BMW has distanced itself from the studies all the same, but did say that the human experiments were appropriately vetted prior to taking place. Meanwhile, Daimler says it is investigating the matter, while also stating it had no influence in the study.

“We are appalled by the extent of the studies and their implementation,” Daimler said in a statement. “We condemn the experiments in the strongest terms.”

References


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Read more Volkswagen news.


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Read more Mercedes-Benz news.


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PostHeaderIcon Is it Really Surprising that California Wants to Ban Internal Combustion Engines?

So, once Donald Trump became president, California reminded us that it’s the home of the biggest bunch of crybabies on the planet and started screaming for secession from the United States. Of course, those of us who are informed know that California simply couldn’t survive on its own, but hey that’s just my opinion. The point is, the state has a habit of thinking it knows better (hence the emissions laws that are more strict than in the rest of the nation) and now, it’s looking to take things another step further by imposing a state-wide ban on the internal combustion engine. This, of course, comes after several other nations in the world have put out the word that they, too, will ban the ICE in coming years.

This move would put California on the same pedestal as the Netherlands, Norway, France, the U.K., India, and China, with the list to surely grow even more in the future. There’s no official word as to when any of these bans will be set in stone, but anytime between 2025 and 2040 is a good guess. This would, however, have a huge impact on automakers, and could force them to take the move to EVs even more seriously, as Cali is responsible for registering more vehicles than France in 2016 – that’s a lot of cars, folks. Members of CARB have gone on record saying that such a ban would be at least a decade out, so If you’re ready to tell California to bite you, you still have plenty of time to relocate. And, in fairness, electric cars have to be readily available and affordable to the everyday joe – otherwise, you’re leaving a lot of people without a legal mode of transportation. We used to bootleg booze… next, it’ll be gasoline.

Where’s That Strong Earthquake When you Need One?

Okay, so maybe that header is a little harsh, but for real… If California wants to impose its own liberal ways so bad, maybe it shouldn’t be a part of the continental United States or the union as a whole. It wants to pretend to be its own nation, then perhaps we should cut off all water supplies and government funding and see just how well it does on its own. That Earthquake that is set to separate a good chunk of the state from the content might even be welcomed at this point – let them float out to sea and be their own little sovereign nation for a bit.

“This move would put California on the same pedestal as the Netherlands, Norway, France, the U.K., India, and China”

And, before all of you start hating and tying me to the stake, let me just point out that I’m not hating on the independence of the state, but at the same time, it hasn’t exactly made life easy for the rest of the country in the past either. Admittedly, my issue is that I’m just a little mad because I just had to pay out an extra $300 for emissions-related parts because my car was built to be CARB compliant. Maybe I should praise the state, as that exact thing would be a thing of the past if all cars went electric, right? Hmmm, decisions decisions.

Back to the point, it seems that if the state doesn’t get its way it wants to secede with absolutely no effort to actually find common ground and come to an agreement with the rest of the country. I understand that an ICE ban from California alone could do some good for the world – considering it registers a massive number of vehicles each year, and more than France in 2016 —
but, at the same time, I have a feeling that it won’t even try to take into consideration the right time to do this, and that’s what irks me. But, what do you all think? Am I being too harsh? Does California have the right idea? Will it set the bar and lead the way for the rest of us? Let us know in the comments section below.

References


Owning an All-Electric Car in New York is About to Get Easier - image 733314

Read more emission news.


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Read more electric care news.

PostHeaderIcon Why The U.K.’s Ban on Petrol and Diesel Cars Won’t Save The Earth

As I’m sure many of you’ve heard, the U.K. wants to ban the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by the year 2040. According to the British government, the proposed ban is supposed to lower air pollution and save the penguins or something. I’m sorry, but this is total nonsense. The fact of the matter is, switching from diesel and petrol-fueled vehicles will, at best, do nothing. It is true that electric cars are more efficient than petrol and diesel-fueled vehicles, and they produce fewer emissions post-production. But by switching from petrol and diesel cars to electric cars, you are relying more on the nation’s power grid.

The British government hasn’t released full year statistics regarding energy production and consumption since 2015, and as a result, these figures may or may not be totally accurate. These figures were taken from the 2016 press release of U.K. Energy Statistics for 2015 and Q4 2015 [1]. According to this document, the majority of energy produced in the U.K. comes from non-renewable resources. Natural gas seems to be the energy source of choice, accounting for the most electricity generated at 29.5 percent. Renewable energy sources account for 24.7 percent, nuclear for 20.8 percent, coal for 22.6 percent, and oil and other sources for 2.4 percent.

PostHeaderIcon Ferrari SUV to Arrive in 2020

Rumors of Ferrari planning to build an SUV have been flying around for more than a decade now, and the general consensus is that a utility Prancing Horse is no longer a matter of “if,” but “when.” And that time is getting closer, with new reports from people familiar with the company’s plans claiming that the Ferrari SUV will get the green light by the end of 2018. Specifically, Sergio Marchionne wants to devise a new five-year plan for the brand until he retires in 2021 and the new strategy will include a four-seat “utility vehicle.

According to Bloomberg, Ferrari finally wants to move beyond its traditional supercar niche in an effort to double profits by 2022. Sounds like the kind of strategy we’ve seen from most automakers, including Maserati and Alfa Romeo, lately, right? Yes, but for Ferrari, things are a bit more complex. Adding an SUV means that the self-imposed limit of 10,000 vehicles produced per year will be exceeded and push Ferrari beyond its small vehicle maker status that protects it from some of the more severe fuel and emission rules. In return, Maranello will have to roll out more hybrids in order to keep its carbon footprint down.

Continue reading for the full story.

PostHeaderIcon Maserati Is Going Hybrid in 2019

Founded in late 2014, the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles alliance isn’t doing particularly well, despite initial high hopes and what appeared to be a solid five-year production plan. With Jeep reported to do better than the entire group, FCA needs to act fast if it wants to keep up with the likes of GM, Toyota, and the Volkswagen Group or even avoid facing a second bankruptcy. Company CEO Sergio Marchionne is well aware of that and devised a new five-year plan that revolves around launching a host of plug-in hybrid vehicles. This is far from surprising, but interestingly enough, Marchionne wants Maserati to lead this offensive with full electrification from 2019 onward.

The Italian boss didn’t have much info to share, but it seems that the plan is for all Maserati vehicles launched in 2019 and beyond to plug-in hybrid or all-electric drivetrains. “When it completes the development of its next two models, it will effectively switch all of its portfolio to electrification,” he told journalists. “As these products come up for renewal post 2019, it will start launching vehicles which are all-electric and which embody, I think, what will be considered state of the art technology.” In addition to that, more than half the FCA fleet will be electrified in some way by 2022.

Continue reading for the full story.

PostHeaderIcon More Bad News For Oil Burners; DOJ Sues FCA Over Cheating Diesels

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, also known as FCA, has issued a statement in response to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division over alleged diesel vehicle emissions cheating. The suit claims FCA pursued “a deliberate scheme to install defeat devices to cheat U.S. emissions tests,” similar to the dieselgate scandal that’s plagued the Volkswagen Group since 2015. In response, FCA is offering up a software fix that will hopefully quell the problem without affecting individual vehicle fuel economy.

In the recent statement, FCA says it has collaborated with the EPA and California Air Resources Board (CARB) for the past several months to rectify the issue, testing diesel emissions for 2014 through 2016 model years of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500. Back in January, the EPA and CARB accused FCA of diesel cheating via “defeat devices” that alter engine programming during emissions tests, providing cleaner results than those returned during normal operation. It’s estimated that roughly 100,000 vehicles are affected. The suit has already dinged FCA’s stock price, which hovers at 10.57 as of this writing.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Trump Endorses Dirty Air with Reduced Funding for EPA

The EPA has done wonders for keeping automakers in check and making sure they report fuel economy and emissions output accurately. In the past few years, the agency has cracked down on automakers like Hyundai and Kia for overstating fuel economy and investigated the largest automotive scandal in history when Volkswagen was found to be cheating on emissions testing. But, don’t expect automakers to be held accountable for much longer if Trump gets his way. See, a recent budget document shows that the Trump administration plans to cut $48 million of federal funding for the EPA – a move that deprives the agency of 99-percent of its funding for testing and has some convinced that it will all but shut down the EPA’s emissions and fuel economy testing labs.

All told, the move will cut 168 of the 304 full-time jobs in the EPA’s testing division and could lead to delays in new vehicle testing and sales as the agency tries to keep up with nearly half of its workforce missing. The Trump Administration has a plan to keep some funding rolling to the EPA testing divisions, however, by increasing the fees that automakers and engine manufacturers pay for testing. While that sounds like a suitable compromise to some, that will undoubtedly delay the availability of new cars and engine technology, and could ultimately increase new car pricing as automakers will have no choice but to recoup the additional money spent by passing the expense on to consumers.

Keep reading for the rest of the story


PostHeaderIcon Emissions Cheating: Did Porsche Jump Into the Swamp with Volkswagen?

Volkswagen played a risky game when it decided to cheat on emissions testing. The Dieselgate scandal has tarnished the brand’s reputation that will take many years rebuild. But, it isn’t only VW that has come under scrutiny for cheating, as the massive scandal triggered investigations of other automakers as well. Mitsubishi and Chevrolet have since found to have been involved in misstating MPG figures, while brands like Opel, Daimler, Fiat, PSA, and Renault have all been found or accused of cheating as well. All were to a lesser extent than VW, but it’s cheating nonetheless. Now, Porsche is being investigated for using a cheating device similar to that of Volkswagen.

It all started for Porsche when insiders told a German newspaper known as WirtshaftsWoche that Porsche was indeed cheating. The investigation is being conducted by Germany’s Motor Transport Authority known as KBA. The purpose of the investigation is whether or not some Porsche models have software that can detect if a car is undergoing examination and, subsequently, engage a “Special” mode to dramatically cut back on power output, CO2 emissions, and increase fuel economy. The software in question is that which detects steering wheel movement – an easy way to determine if the car is actually being driven or sitting on a machine, as the steering wheel generally isn’t moved during emissions testing.

We tried to reach out to Porsche for comment, but have yet to receive a response. Carbuzz, however, has reported that a Porsche Spokesman has denied all allegations, claiming that the data from the steering wheel sensors are only used to help calculate shift points. So far, there’s no word as to what models here in the U.S. could be affected, but the 911 is one model that makes use of a steering angle sensor, so if Porsche really is cheating, you can bet the 911 will be on the list of cars affected.


PostHeaderIcon Scientists Discover How To Easily Turn CO2 into Ethanol

Converting CO2 in ethanol isn’t a new concept but, up until now, it hasn’t exactly been easy. During an experiment at the Oak Ridge National laboratory in Tennessee, scientists stumbled across a new method that is that uses common materials and nanotechnology to create ethanol from Co2. The experiment was initially designed to determine a series of chemical reactions that would make the conversion, but much to the surprise of everyone working on the project, the very first step in a series of many produced the result they were looking for.

To put things simply, copper and carbon are arranged into nanospikes on a silicon surface, ultimately allowing the reaction create to be very precise with a limited number of contaminants – essentially reversing the combustion process. Dr. Adam Rondinone – one of the authors of this study – said, “By using common materials, but arranging them with nanotechnology, we figured out how to limit the side reactions and end up with the one thing that we want. A process like this would allow you to consume extra electricity when it’s available to make and store as ethanol. This could help to balance a grid supplied by intermittent renewable sources.”

Outside of the fact that the whole process can be done with common, and therefore cheap, materials, the most important aspect is that the reaction that creates the ethanol can be created at room temperature. This means that the process can be controlled easily and will little energy cost. And, while it can have major positive implications for the automotive industry – cars are said to be a major contributor to the on-going CO2 and global warming problem – it could really help bring peace to the entire energy industry as this process is a controllable way to make fuel efficiently.

Renewable energy sources like wind and solar power are growing in popularity, but we have no way to control the weather and therefore cannot control when we generate energy from these sources. This process isn’t exactly the solution to our global energy needs quite yet, but it could ultimately provide the buffer needed for us to rely more on renewable energy in the future.

Keep reading for the rest of the story.


PostHeaderIcon The Era of Small Engines in Europe Could be Coming to an End

The war on emissions has been on-going with automakers continuously pressed to lower emissions output from their vehicles year after year. Over in Europe, the strategy to meet stringent emissions regulations has resulted in the downsizing of engines and the addition of turbochargers to make up for the power deficit. As such, the average engine size in Europe is anywhere between 1.3- and 1.9-liters. The shrinking of engines has worked well for emissions tests in Europe up until now, but according to Reuters, new on-the-road emissions testing has shown that smaller engines actually fail to meet the latest standards. This being the case, automakers are being forced to rethink their strategy, and those smaller engines could be on the chopping block.

So how bad is it? Well, real-world testing has shown that most of the smaller engines currently in use – like GM’s 1.2-liter diesel and VW’s 1.4-liter, three-pot diesel – can produce NOx levels up to 15 times the current legal standard when driven at higher loads. Smaller gasoline engines of similar size lose fuel-efficiency and “spew fine particles and carbon monoxide.” Renault’s 0.9-liter H4Bt engine injects excess fuel to prevent overheating, which has been found to produce massive levels of unburned hydrocarbons, fine particles, and CO2. So, what can automakers do to meet the tougher emissions regulations that must be adhered to by 2019?

Automakers have largely remained silent as to what their strategy will be going forward. But, sources have indicated that Volkswagen, Renault, and General Motors are all preparing to upsize some of their best-selling smaller engines while others will be retired altogether. All three have declined to comment on specific plans so far, but Alain Rapos – the Head of Powertrain for Renault-Nissan – said, “The techniques we’ve used to reduce engine capacities will no longer allow us to meet emissions standards. We’re reaching the limits of downsizing.”

Keep Reading for the rest of the story.


PostHeaderIcon NASA is on a Mission to Bring Electrification to the Skies

No matter what way you look at it, if the human race continues on as it is, our future will no doubt be electrified. The push in the personal transportation sector is strong, with all major manufacturers like Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes, and GM (among others) all pushing their own hybrid and electric technology in next-level cars. Eventually, there won’t be a car on the road that has a fuel-powered drivetrain, but what the mass transportation sector? I’m not talking about your municipal public transportation service; no, I’m talking about long-distance travel or, more specifically, airplanes. You can look really hard, but you won’t find any in-service hybrid or electrical planes, but if NASA has its way, all that will change soon enough. How you ask? Well, the U.S. Government’s space agency has recently announced its newest facility – NASA’s Electric Aircraft Testbed (NEAT) – where engineers will design, develop, and test electric aircraft.

That’s right! NASA is officially designing and testing all-electric aircraft. Things are still in the early stages, however, so don’t expect to board an all-electric Boeing anytime soon. But, NEAT ran its first test last September in which 600 volts of electricity to test an electric power system that was large enough to power a small, one- or two-person aircraft.

“As large airline companies compete to reduce emissions, fuel burn, noise and maintenance costs, it is expected that more of their aircraft systems will shift to using electrical power,” Said Dr. Rodger Dyson – Technical Lead of NASA Glenn Hybrid Gas Propulsion. “What we’re hoping to learn now is how to make it more efficient and light-weight. Next year we’re going to upgrade the size of these motors – we’ll use the same technology to test the higher-power stuff next.”

For now, NEAT is just in the beginning stages, but give it time and it will be a “world-class, reconfigurable testbed” that will be able to create and test systems rated at over 20 Megawatts of power – the massive amount of electrical energy it will take to propel a large passenger aircraft like the Boeing 747, for example.

Note: The image above shows two engineers conducting the first test of an electric aircraft engine at NEAT

Keep reading for the rest of the story.


PostHeaderIcon Renault Plans to Phase Out Diesel Engines by the Turn of the Decade

Over in Europe, Diesel engines are quite popular. But, Euro 6 emissions standards are getting tougher and, starting in 2019, emissions performance tests for new cars will be based on real driving scenarios. This means that manufacturers ultimately have to spend more to treat emission systems. And, according to a report from Reuters, Renault is rethinking its investment in diesel altogether. In fact, Renault is expecting diesel engines to disappear from most of its European-market cars due to the ever increasing cost of emissions equipment.

Sources who attended a Renault meeting before the summer break have said that Thierry Bollore – Renault’s Chief Competitiveness Officer – has said the tougher standards and testing methods will ultimately increase technology costs so much that diesel will be forced out of the market. And, this all comes after Renault (along with Peugeot) went on a heavy defensive to boast the future viability of diesel engines.

Long story short, Renault is predicting that by 2020, emissions standards will push diesel out of the B-segment vehicles like the Renault Clio and even some C-segment vehicles like the Megane hatchback. Renault has remained rather silent to the public on this matter, however, more than 60 percent of Renaults 1.6 million vehicle deliveries in the B- and C-segments were powered by diesel. Put simply; diesel engines are the clear winners as far as fuel economy goes in non-hybrid vehicles, but they are dirty – at least by the government’s standards.

Keep reading for the rest of the story.


PostHeaderIcon Bavaria to File Lawsuit against Volkswagen for Pension Fund Losses

The whole Dieselgate scandal has done a number on Volkswagen financially. Despite my harsh words for the company in the past over the scandal, I’m starting to feel bad about for it. It’s been hit for billions here in the U.S., and there are more lawsuits coming down the pipe than I can shake a stick at. The most recent suit is coming from within the company’s home country from the state of Bavaria, but it’s nowhere near as bad as some of the suits.

According to Reuters, the lawsuit will be filed in September and is supposed to recover at least a portion of the €700,000 that the state’s pension fund lost when the scandal went public, and stock prices plummeted. This isn’t the only suit of this type. Norway’s sovereign wealth fund has filed a similar suit along with a fairly large group of individual investors too. Each suit has a different reason or purpose, but it’s like the blows just keep coming for the German automaker.

So far, the U.S. has nailed the company pretty harshly, and South Korea has also taken efforts to claim some of VW’s cash. Even individual states within the U.S. have also filed similar suits. As far as Bavaria goes, the lawsuit seems rather slim compared to some, but something tells me it isn’t the last suit we’ll be seeing. At this point, one really has to wonder: Is everyone going to sue VW straight into bankruptcy?


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