Jaguar Land Rover to develop hydrogen-powered Defender prototype
Tata-owned Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is developing a prototype hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) based on the new Land Rover Defender, with testing scheduled to begin this year.
The FCEV concept is part of Jaguar Land Rover’s aim to achieve zero tailpipe emissions by 2036, and net zero carbon emissions across its supply chain, products and operations by 2039, in line with the Reimagine strategy announced last month.
FCEVs, which generate electricity from hydrogen to power an electric motor, are described by JLR as complementary to battery electric vehicles (BEVs) on the journey to net zero vehicle emissions. Hydrogen-powered FCEVs provide high energy density and rapid refuelling, and minimal loss of range in low temperatures, making the technology potentially ideal for larger, longer-range vehicles, or those operated in hot or cold environments.
By 2030, forecasts predict hydrogen-powered FCEV deployment could top 10 million with 10,000 refuelling stations worldwide.
Jaguar Land Rover’s advanced engineering project, known as Project Zeus, is part funded by the government-backed Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), and will allow engineers to understand how a hydrogen powertrain can be optimised to deliver the performance and capability expected by its customers: from range to refuelling, and towing to off-road ability.
The zero tailpipe emission prototype New Defender FCEV will begin testing towards the end of 2021 in the UK to verify key attributes such as off-road capability and fuel consumption.
To deliver Project Zeus, Jaguar Land Rover has teamed up with R&D partners, including Delta Motorsport, AVL, Marelli Automotive Systems and the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) to research, develop and create the prototype FCEV.
Ralph Clague, Head of Hydrogen and Fuel Cells for Jaguar Land Rover, said: “We know hydrogen has a role to play in the future powertrain mix across the whole transport industry, and alongside battery electric vehicles, it offers another zero tailpipe emission solution for the specific capabilities and requirements of Jaguar Land Rover’s world class line-up of vehicles. The work done alongside our partners in Project Zeus will help us on our journey to become a net zero carbon business by 2039, as we prepare for the next generation of zero tailpipe emissions vehicles.”
GM confirms two new battery plants in EV tech boost
General Motors has confirmed that it will build two new battery plants in the US as part of a plan to increase its EV and AV investments from 2020 through 2025 to $35 billion, representing a 75 percent increase from its initial commitment announced prior to the pandemic.
GM is accelerating plans to build two new battery cell manufacturing plants in the United States by mid-decade to complement the Ultium Cells LLC plants under construction in Tennessee and Ohio. Further details about these new US plants, including the locations, will be announced at a later date, the company said.
GM says its enhanced commitment will ‘accelerate its transformative strategy to become the market leader in EVs in North America’ as well as ‘the global leader in battery and fuel cell technology through its Ultium battery platform and HYDROTEC fuel cells; and through Cruise, be the first to safely commercialize self-driving technology at scale’.
“We are investing aggressively in a comprehensive and highly-integrated plan to make sure that GM leads in all aspects of the transformation to a more sustainable future,” said GM Chair and CEO Mary Barra. “GM is targeting annual global EV sales of more than 1 million by 2025, and we are increasing our investment to scale faster because we see momentum building in the United States for electrification, along with customer demand for our product portfolio.”
“There is a strong and growing conviction among our employees, customers, dealers, suppliers, unions and investors, as well as policymakers, that electric vehicles and self-driving technology are the keys to a cleaner, safer world for all,” Barra said.
The latest investment announcement builds on GM’s initial commitment announced in March 2020 to invest $20 billion from 2020 through 2025, including capital, engineering expenses and other development costs, to accelerate its transition to EVs and AVs. In November 2020, the company increased its planned investment over the same period to $27 billion.
GM said the latest investments are enabled by GM’s strong underlying business, including record EBIT-adjusted in the last three quarters. GM also said it now expects to deliver better-than-expected results in the second quarter despite the industry-wide impact of the semiconductor shortage.
Audi to pilot concept for quick charging
Audi is planning a pilot project for a charging hub with quick-charging stations that it says addresses future peak demands and the lack of charging opportunities at home.
A pilot project in the second half of the year will provide a specific outlook and a practical test for a possible serial roll-out.
Audi maintains that a solution to peak demands in the future could be the ‘Audi charging hub’. The concept calls for high-power charging (HPC) stations that can be reserved in advance to provide a high level of planning security. A lounge area directly nearby will provide an attractive, premium place to pass the time, the brand says.
Cubes form the foundation of the Audi charging hub. The flexible container cubes fulfill various technical requirements and house charging pillars as well as used lithium ion batteries for energy storage. The use of 2nd life modules from disassembled development vehicles doesn’t just give the battery cells a new, sustainable purpose – it also provides a great benefit in their suitability as ancillary storage for direct current. This makes complex infrastructure with high-voltage lines and expensive transformers unnecessary.
Thanks to what Audi describes as ‘huge interim storage’ – roughly 2.45 Mwh – the six charging stations, which have a charging output of up to 300 kW, only need a standard 400 volt high-voltage hook-up. That makes output starting at 11 kW per cube sufficient to be able to fill the three storage modules with a total capacity of 2.45 MWh continually and to charge them overnight. Photovoltaic modules on the roof provide additional green energy. This, Audi says, not only makes it easier to selection possible locations, but also reduces the planning time required and the costs while also saving resources. In addition, the modular concept provides maximum flexibility and scalability.
The hub can be transported, installed and adapted to the individual location quickly – largely independent of local network capacities.
“The charging hub embodies our aspiration for the electric era and highlights Audi’s commitment to ‘Vorsprung durch Technik.’ A flexible high-performing HPC charging park like this does not require much from the local electricity grid and uses a sustainable battery concept. Our customers benefit in numerous ways: from the ability to make exclusive reservations, a lounge area and short waiting times thanks to high-performance charging. This is consistent with the premium concept,” says Oliver Hoffmann, Member of the Board for Technical Development of Audi AG.
Premium: Lounge area upstairs
It only takes a little longer than a coffee break to charge an electric Audi, the brand says. The Audi e-tron GT1/2, for example, reaches a charging capacity of up to 270 kW. That allows it to charge enough energy for up to 100 kilometres in about five minutes, with a charge from 5 to 80 percent taking roughly 23 minutes under ideal conditions.
To make the wait a true premium experience, a lounge will provide Audi customers with the ‘perfect setting for an enjoyable charging stop’. The upstairs lounge area offers a place to pass the time that is modern and in line with the premium concept, the perfect space and setting for a break with added value. A variety of amenities and a range of snacks, drinks and non-food items make the charging stop a welcome break, Audi says.
Trials and practical test: Pilot to launch in late summer
The search for a location in Germany for the Audi charging hub pilot project and talks with possible partners are currently underway. It is planned to go into operation in the second half of the year. The findings about day-to-day operations and customer acceptance that are generated from this will be decisive for further implementation of the concept. “We are testing what the optimal technical solution is in a very realistic way. The focus in doing so is firmly on the needs of our customers,” Hoffmann adds. The plan for the pilot phase also calls for drivers of other brand cars to be able to use charging stations that are open and not reserved as well as parts of the lounge.
GAC claims 'graphene-based' fast-charging battery breakthrough
Guangzhou Auto (GAC) Group says it has achieved a breakthrough in graphene-based fast-charging battery technology and that its vehicle model Aion V will be equipped with the new battery, which is to start production in September.
GAC says that in recent years, graphene, a new material with excellent electrical conductivity, has been the key to breakthroughs in battery technology.
Aion V, the first vehicle to be equipped with the new battery, underwent winter testing and is initially scheduled for mass production in September this year.
At the "2020 GAC Tech Day" held last July, GAC Group demonstrated its 3DG (three-dimensional graphene) production technology with independent intellectual property rights, solving the issue of high costs of graphene, it is claimed. It says the simple, stable, and efficient production method reduces costs to only one-tenth of the conventional method.
After achieving low-cost and large-scale production of graphene, GAC Group says it has also made major breakthroughs in the downstream application of its use. Among them, the electric vehicle industry is most interested in the graphene-based super-fast-charging battery. This graphene-based battery has a 6C fast charge capability, combined with a 600A high-power charger, can be recharged to 80% capacity in 8 minutes. GAC says the battery has also passed the most stringent safety test - Battery Shooting Test, possessing quality and reliability of the highest standard.
GAC says the graphene-based battery technology will significantly shorten charging time, as well as greatly extend battery life, solving the current "pain points" of pure electric vehicles.
VW 'Project Trinity' car to lift EV/AV strategy
Volkswagen says it is planning an electric car to be built in Wolfsburg from 2026 that will set new standards in terms of range, charging speed and digitization – and will be able to drive highly automated according to SAE Level 4.
The project for the car is named Trinity and stands for three crucial themes: (1) a newly developed electronics platform, (2) the simplification of the supply structure, and (3) fully networked and intelligent production at the main plant in Wolfsburg.
"Trinity is a sort of crystallization point for our 'Accelerate' strategy, a lighthouse project, our software dream car," says Ralf Brandstätter, CEO of the Volkswagen brand. VW says the newly developed vehicle architecture will set standards in terms of range, charging speed ("charging as fast as refuelling") and digitalization.
In addition, VW claims Trinity will make autonomous driving in the volume segment possible for many people. By the planned start of series production in 2026, VW says Trinity will already reach Level 2+ and be technically ready for Level 4. "We are using our economies of scale to make autonomous driving available to many people and to build a learning neural network. In this way, we are creating the conditions for the continuous exchange of data from our vehicle fleet – for example, on the traffic situation, on obstacles or on accidents," says Ralf Brandstätter.
VW claims that Trinity gives people time and saves them stress. After a long highway trip, for example, you arrive at your destination relaxed 'because you have been driven by a chauffeur to your vacation or to your home after work'.
"Trinity therefore becomes a kind of 'time machine' for our customers," says Ralf Brandstätter.
With the production of the series version, the Wolfsburg plant will become a showcase for an intelligent and fully networked production processes, VW says. "We will completely rethink the way we build cars and introduce revolutionary approaches. Digitalization, automation and lightweight construction play an important role here," says Ralf Brandstätter.
VW maintains that future vehicle models such as Trinity will be produced with considerably fewer variants, and the hardware will be largely standardized. The cars will then have virtually everything on board and customers will be able to activate desired functions "on demand" at any time via the digital ecosystem in the car. This will significantly reduce complexity in production, the company says.
By developing the automobile into a software-based product, Volkswagen says it is creating the conditions for new, data-based business models. Entry barriers to individual mobility are to be lowered while at the same time offering 'even more attractive usage packages'.
Volkswagen intends to generate additional revenue in the usage phase – for charging and energy services, for software-based functions that customers can book as needed, or for automated driving. "In the future, the individual configuration of the vehicle will no longer be determined by the hardware at the time of purchase. Instead, customers will be able to add functions on demand at any time via the digital ecosystem in the car," says Ralf Brandstätter.
VW says that all-electric vehicles are expected to exceed 70% of European and 50% of Chinese and US sales volumes by 2030.
Half Daimler suppliers commit to carbon neutral
Almost half of about 2,000 Daimler suppliers have signed an Ambition Letter of Intent and are committed to supplying only CO2 neutral parts, said Gunnar Guethenke, head of procurement and supplier quality for Mercedes-Benz Cars.
Under its 'Ambition 2039' plan, Mercedes-Benz wants to offer a CO2 neutral new car fleet in less than 20 years. The switch to electric mobility poses supply chain challenges because, compared to ICE vehicles, the production of an all-electric is twice as CO2 intensive, mainly because of the lithium-ion batteries. But, despite the higher energy demand for production, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles offer a clear advantage in terms of CO2 emissions compared to conventional drives already today, since only when the entire life cycle of the vehicles is considered a realistic picture emerges: electric vehicles can make up for a large part of the initially higher CO2 emissions from the upstream value chain due to their emission-free driving.
R&D head Markus Schaefer said: "With the electric EQS luxury sedan, we have already achieved important milestones in close cooperation with our partners - for example by purchasing CO2 neutrally produced battery cells.
"When awarding contracts for our subsequent electric vehicle platform - Mercedes-Benz Modular Architecture (MMA) for compact and medium-sized cars - we are already applying CO2 as a key criterion."
The automaker said it was talking with all other suppliers to jointly develop strategies for CO2 reduction.
Climate-neutrality is incorporated into contractual terms, and the ambition letter is a key criterion for awarding contracts. From 2039 at the latest, only production materials which are completely CO2 neutral will be purchased and any supplier declining to sign the ambition letter will not be awarded new contracts.
Mercedes-Benz will additionally focus on materials and components that are particularly CO2 intensive in manufacturing and processing until 2039 - items such as battery cells, steel, and aluminium which account for about 80% of the CO2 emissions in the supply chain of a fully electric vehicle.
CATL (Contemporary Amperex Technology) and Farasis Energy have committed to supply battery cells that are produced using electricity from renewable sources such as hydropower, wind, and solar energy. This reduces the CO2 footprint of an entire battery by more than 30%. The rest of the supply chain will be included next.
The goal is to consistently reduce the use of primary raw materials for electric drives by 2030 and gradually increase the share of secondary and renewable materials in vehicles.
Mercedes-Benz plants, including the global battery production network, will produce on a CO2 neutral basis worldwide from 2022. This will make them role models for the supplier network. In line with plant procedure, suppliers are required to avoid and reduce emissions as a fundamental principle. Only then can compensation via high-value projects be considered. The areas of approach for climate-neutral production are diverse, and range from reducing consumption to purchasing energy from renewable energy sources.
The company aims to have plug-in hybrids or all-electric vehicles to make up more than 50% of its car sales by 2030. Other major goals include involvement in shaping the charging infrastructure and agreeing to specific CO2 measures with suppliers.
Kia to supply discounted EVs to Uber drivers in Europe
Kia Corporation announced it had agreed to supply tens of thousands of electric vehicles (EVs) per year to the European drivers of US taxi company Uber Technologies.
The South Korean automaker said in a statement the deal was aimed at promoting the adoption of EVs as well as speeding up the expansion of the EV recharging infrastructure in major European cities.
In April, affiliate Hyundai Motor signed a similar agreement to supply many thousands of battery-powered Ioniq and Kona vehicles to Uber drivers operating in Europe.
Kia Corporation confirmed it would supply its Niro EV and other battery-powered models at a discount to Uber drivers operating in 20 European countries. It hopes that the deal will help it complete the establishment of its “zero-emission mobility platform” by 2030.
Kia aims to have sold more than 100,000 EVs to Uber drivers in Europe by 2025, around 50% of which are expected to operate in just seven European capital cities, including Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Lisbon, London, Madrid and Paris.
Great Wall, CATL sign ten-year EV collaboration deal
Chinese automaker Great Wall Motors has signed a ten-year agreement with the country’s largest electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology Company (CATL), allowing it to strengthen its EV manufacturing strategy.
The agreement will help the two partners leverage their respective strengths to help grow the new energy vehicle segment and contribute to China’s goal of reaching peak carbon emissions by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2060.
The two companies, who began working together to develop battery-powered vehicles in 2016, said the new agreement will help “consolidate their relationship”. CATL currently supplies batteries for Great Wall’s popular Ora range of EVs, with cumulative sales expected to reach 1 million units by 2023.
Great Wall also said it plans to launch a new hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV) later this year, an SUV model with a range of 840km, followed by a range of 100 hydrogen-powered heavy trucks.
The automaker had previously announced plans to invest up to US$460m in hydrogen-related R&D over the next three years with the aim of establishing itself as a leading player in this segment. Last month it signed an agreement with local energy company Sinopec to collaborate in the development of hydrogen technologies.
Ford creates batteries R&D hub
Ford has announced a new global battery centre – called Ford Ion Park – to accelerate research and development of battery and battery cell technology, as well as future battery manufacturing.
The company is centralising a cross-functional team of 150 experts in battery technology development, research, manufacturing, planning, purchasing, quality and finance to help Ford more quickly develop and manufacture battery cells and batteries.
The Ford Ion Park team also is exploring better integration and innovation opportunities across all aspects of the value chain – from mines to recycling – working with all teams within Ford, including experts at Ford’s new Battery Benchmarking and Test Laboratory, Ford Customer Service Division, plus key suppliers and partners.
“We’re already scaling production of all-electric vehicles around the world as more customers experience and crave the fun-to-drive benefits of electric vehicles with zero emissions,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s chief product platform and operations officer. “Investing in more battery R&D ultimately will help us speed the process to deliver more, even better, lower cost EVs for customers over time.”