Hybrid powertrain innovations set the bar higher for the sector 

Posted: October 29, 2018 by oldbrew in Emissions, innovation, opinion, Travel
Tags: ,

Fiat 500X hybrid

Tinkering with electric and hybrid vehicle technology is one thing, but getting today’s buyers to willingly pay for it is another, as shown by weak sales despite the already widespread use of hefty subsidies.

Pan-European efforts under the ECOCHAMPS project have led to the development of five hybrid vehicles boasting reduced CO2 emissions, higher efficiency and powertrains with reduced weight and volume, says the European Commission’s CORDIS News.

The current focus on electric vehicles as the cornerstone of future urban mobility shouldn’t make us forget that their hybrid counterparts have a future too – and that this future is now. With electric vehicle range and a lack of charging infrastructure still being a problem, hybrid vehicles are likely to become the preferred solution for travelling beyond city limits, but on one condition: the development of easy to integrate, cost-efficient hybrid powertrain technology.

The ECOCHAMPS (European COmpetitiveness in Commercial Hybrid and AutoMotive PowertrainS) project was created with this requirement in mind. Since May 2015, the 25-strong consortium – which includes light- and heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers FIAT, Renault, Daimler, Iveco, MAN and DAF Trucks – has been working on solutions to improve powertrain efficiency by up to 20 %, reduce powertrain weight and volume by up to 20 % and, broadly speaking, make hybrid vehicles more cost-effective.

The results of the project, which include a modular system and standardisation framework for hybrid electric drivetrain components and auxiliaries for commercial vehicles (available on the project website), a set of electric components for hybrid powertrains, and optimised drivelines, have been demonstrated in two light-duty and three commercial vehicles at TRL 7. These vehicles are a FIAT 500X, a Renault Megane, a medium-duty commercial truck, a city bus and a heavy tractor.

Guus Arts, coordinator of the project on behalf of DAF Trucks, discusses its outcomes and importance for the future of mobility in Europe.

Continued here.

  1. It is very simple. If running costs of hybrids are cheaper than conventional, then people will gradually turn to them. At the moment the opposite is true.

    The idea that most drivers give a toss about CO2, or even other emissions, is away with the fairies, as the sales stats show

  2. oldbrew says:

    Uncertainty over battery life is a negative factor for the market value of used EVs and hybrids.

    Contract hire could be cheaper and/or less risky than purchase.

  3. ivan says:

    I would think they could do away with the battery for the drive and just use a diesel motor connected to a generator and have electric motors at each wheel hub. You run the diesel at optimum speed for efficiency and vary the output of the generator. The wheel motors should be double duty – low voltage, high torque for start and heavy lifting and high voltage, low torque for speed and endurance.

    Doing that would get away from the large inflammable heavy weight battery and the requirement for higher grid output for charging. It also removes the fuelling time and distance problems.

  4. pochas94 says:

    Government sponsored science. What could go wrong?

  5. oldbrew says:

    ivan says: October 29, 2018 at 11:05 pm
    I would think they could do away with the battery for the drive and just use a diesel motor connected to a generator and have electric motors at each wheel hub.

    Sounds like a series hybrid with electric traction motors.

    Because a series-hybrid has no mechanical link between the ICE and the wheels, the engine can run at a constant and efficient rate regardless of vehicle speed, achieving higher efficiency (37%, rather than the ICE average of 20%) and at low or mixed speeds this could result in ~50% increase in overall efficiency (19% vs 29%).

  6. oldbrew says:

    Some UK trains are going down the hydrogen route, using fuel cells. Expensive, but like diesel no overhead wires needed.

    – – –
    World’s first hydrogen train rolls out in Germany

    The new trains carry a hydrogen tank and fuel cells on the roof, and produce electricity by combining hydrogen and oxygen. Excess energy is stored in ion lithium batteries. The engines can run for around 1,000 kilometers without refueling and reach a maximum speed 140 kilometers per hour (87 miles per hour), similar to diesel trains.

    Steam, not smoke

    However, unlike the older machines, hydrogen trains produce only steam and liquid water. The manufacturers claim that the new trains are also quieter and less costly to operate.

    “Sure, buying a hydrogen train is somewhat more expensive than a diesel train, but it is cheaper to run,” Stefan Schrank, the project’s manager at Alstom, told the AFP news agency.


    But first the hydrogen has to be produced using energy.

  7. A C Osborn says:

    ivan says October 29, 2018 at 11:05 pm
    “a diesel motor connected to a generator and have electric motors at each wheel hub.”
    I totally agree, the “range Extender” is based on that principle, but still has a massive battery.
    I would have thought that even a very small diesel could run 2 generators without any problem, add in a “Capacitor”for smoothing rather than a battery and you should have the best of both worlds

  8. stpaulchuck says:

    a long time back, two separate universities did a total cost of pollution study independently of a Hummer and a Toyota Pious, er… Prius. When you factor the pollution and CO2 from raw materials to manufacture to recycling at the end of its life, the Humvee is kinder to the planet.

    Of course Toyota and the greenies immediately published dozens of articles trying to destroy the facts of the study in favor of the Pious.

  9. ivan says:

    A C Osborn, getting the massive battery out of the car was my main reason for suggesting what I did. Removing the battery reduces the car weight by a third on average, it also has the advantage of reducing the possibility of catastrophic fire in an accident.

    In fact the idea has been in use in open cast mining for years – most of the big dump trucks use it.

  10. pochas94 says:

    ivan says:
    October 29, 2018 at 11:05 pm

    “I would think they could do away with the battery for the drive and just use a diesel motor connected to a generator and have electric motors at each wheel hub. You run the diesel at optimum speed for efficiency and vary the output of the generator.”

    This is how diesel locomotives are built. It gives excellent breakaway torque, otherwise you would never get the train moving. Same goes for electric cars. Lots of scat!

  11. oldbrew says:

    Electric cars are clean, but their batteries can be dirty
    Updated October 30, 2018 at 9:31 pm

    Electric car makers are manufacturing lithium-ion batteries in places with some of the most polluting grids in the world.
    . . .
    “We’re facing a bow wave of additional CO2 emissions,” said Andreas Radics, a managing partner at Munich-based automotive consultancy Berylls Strategy Advisors, which argues that for now, drivers in Germany or Poland may still be better off with an efficient diesel engine.