Ultracapacitors meet mild hybrids

Valeo and Maxwell Technologies are slated to collaborate on the development of a new stop-start and regenerative-braking system with the emphasis on cost effectiveness. The aim is to create a system using ultracapacitors instead of nickel metal-hydride (NiMH) or lithium-ion batteries, achieving very significant cost savings but still achieving much of the benefit of a conventional mild hybrid application.

The companies have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that involves the incorporation of Maxwell’s BOOSTCAP ultracapacitors in Valeo’s next-generation StARS+X system.

The new 14+X architecture StARS (starter-alternator reversible system) comprises a reversible starter-alternator, a multi-cell ultracapacitor energy-storage module, and other power and control electronics in a 14-V architecture. The system is applicable to standard gasoline and diesel engines. Valeo estimates that the system can reduce fuel consumption and associated emissions by about 12% in normal operation, and by more than 20% in stop-and-go urban traffic.

Valeo’s first-generation StARS provided start-stop technology but did not include a dedicated energy-storage component. The 14+X architecture incorporates enhanced electronics and an ultracapacitor energy-storage module that allows it to capture and store energy from braking. Recovered energy is then available to power peak electrical loads such as deicing and rapid cabin and seat heating and cooling, avoiding increased fuel consumption for such functions.

“Because its energy storage employs high-efficiency, low-cost, ultracapacitor technology rather than costly nickel metal-hydride or lithium-ion batteries, StARS 14+X can deliver 80% of the benefit of a mild hybrid system at 20% of the cost,” said Daniel Richard, Director, R&D Valeo Electrical Systems. “Tax incentives and free access to high-occupancy vehicle lanes have helped to stimulate demand for current premium-priced hybrid cars as niche products, but we believe that mass adoption of low-emission vehicles and much greater benefits in reduced CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions will be driven by the availability of more cost-effective hybrid architectures.”

Richard said that the flexible 14+X system could be adapted for integration with a wide variety of existing automotive platforms and applied to any new fuel technology, including flex fuel: “It will make time-to-market for new models incorporating it much shorter than more-radical hybrid approaches.”

Valeo and Maxwell Technologies’ MOU also covers terms of a proposed multi-year development and supply agreement through which Valeo will source ultracapacitors from Maxwell.

“This design win is the result of an extensive collaborative development effort, and it reflects the progress Maxwell has made in developing and manufacturing products that meet the very demanding performance requirements of the auto industry,” said David Schramm, Maxwell’s President and CEO.

Continental shows next-generation highly automated car

A highly autonomous driving vehicle needs a suite of advanced technologies and a ready-to-take-control driver.

“We’re using infrared driver analyzer cameras on our next-generation highly automated driving vehicle to collect data for the development of a ‘driver model.’ The driver model would tell us if the driver is attentive. And it would predict the driver’s reaction time to resume control of the vehicle,” said Ibro Muharemovic, head of Continental’s advanced engineering in North America.

Continental’s second-generation concept was featured during a media technology preview at the supplier’s Brimley, Michigan proving grounds late last month. Muharemovic began a two-lap driving demonstration with Automotive Engineering by accelerating the vehicle to a highway speed. He then engaged the full-speed-range adaptive cruise control and activated the highly automated driving mode. The specially equipped 2014MY Chrysler 300 responded by autonomously driving at 60 mph (97 km/h), slowing to 46 mph (74 km/h) to navigate smoothly through a banked turn, then resuming highway speed through a straightaway.

Since August 2014, test engineers in the U.S. have been taking turns in the driver’s seat of the next-generation demonstrator as two in-vehicle cameras recognize and track facial movements during drive time. The accumulated data will aid in the development of a robust computer driver model.

“At this point, I only have a very early version of the driver model that indicates attentiveness when the driver is looking forward and inattentiveness when the driver is looking to the side. As for reaction time, that is a big, big undertaking. This is why we need lots and lots of raw data,” said Muharemovic.

A light bar running the length of the dashboard at the windshield’s base provides the driver a visual reminder of the current driving mode. The technology debuted on Continental’s Driver Focus Vehicle (see http://articles.sae.org/11842).

Driver assistance and full-speed adaptive cruise control engagement is indicated by a green light bar. When the light bar is blue, the vehicle is in the highly automated mode. An orange color indicates a stand-by mode, which means the driver is actively steering. “It’s important to have a straightforward, always visible way of knowing what driving mode the car is in,” Muharemovic said.

To facilitate a more human-like autonomous driving style, high-definition digital map information is being employed on the second-generation demonstrator.

“The HD map is a highly accurate representation of the road environment. It provides us with precise information, such as how many lanes there are, the exact curvatures of those lanes, and the exact location of roadway exits,” said Muharemovic, “HD map information helps us localize the vehicle on the road environment.”

Continental’s demonstrator is fitted with an array of sensing technologies.

Next-generation long-range radar looks forward 250 m (820 ft) with a 120-degree opening. That is double the field of view in the near range and an additional 50 m (165 ft) in the complete range compared to the third-generation technology used on the first-generation demonstrator. Four short-range radars look to the sides at 90 m (295 ft) with a 120-degree opening. The second-generation vehicle demonstrator also has a 360-degree surround view camera system, a feature the first-generation vehicle concept did not have.

The next-generation concept uses a windshield-mounted, forward-facing stereo camera for lane detection and to recognize pedestrians, traffic signs, oncoming high-beam headlights, and other objects.

Redundancies abound.

“The stereo camera has two lane recognition algorithms that were developed by two different teams. It was done that way so we can compare the outputs of each and get added redundancy in one sensor,” said Muharemovic.

There is redundant braking and steering in case something happens with the primary units. In addition to the actuation redundancies, there is redundancy with the power supply. “As an example, the front radar is on one power supply and the stereo camera is on another power supply and communication line,” said Muharemovic.

Continental has three highly autonomous demonstration vehicles in Auburn Hills, MI. First-generation technology was showcased on a Volkswagen Passat. Two Chrysler 300s are now part of the demonstration fleet, with one car being used as a development platform for sensor fusion/sensing architecture and the other car serving as a development platform for redundant braking and steering.

“We share development globally, so whenever my colleagues in Germany or Japan make an update to a sensor or a system or a function, we are able to bring it to this region and vice-versa,” said Muharemovic. “Our partner companies are also developing technologies and as those technologies become available, we’ll make the updates.”

Mazda reveals 2016 Global MX-5 Cup racer at SEMA Show

Based on the 2016 MX-5, the Global MX-5 Cup Car Concept shown at SEMA offers a glimpse of the car to be raced in a new Global Cup series, in North America, Europe, and Asia. Mazda is developing the racecar to be available as an affordable, turnkey, “ready-to-race” platform.

Starting in 2016, multiple Mazda Global MX-5 Cup series will take place around the world, all using identically prepared cars. Full details of the Global MX-5 Cup, including which countries will be involved and when the races will take place, will be announced as they are confirmed, Mazda says.

The Global MX-5 Cup will culminate at the end of 2016 with a Global Shootout at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, CA, to crown the series champion. The winner will receive, among other prizes, a one-day test in Mazda’s Tudor United States SportsCar Championship SkyActiv prototype racecar.

“Because the MX-5 is inherently such a good car to drive, it is an ideal platform to learn basic and advanced race-craft, and this has made the professional MX-5 Cup series very successful to date,” said John Doonan, Director of Motorsports for Mazda North American operations.

The Global MX-5 Cup racecar will be equipped with a 2.0-L SkyActiv-G four-cylinder engine. Mazda Motorsports plans to undertake a development period this winter to select the optimum tires, suspension, powertrain, and safety modifications. Final specs will be announced in 2015, says Mazda, when it is ready to accept orders for the 2016 series.

Technical partners for the car also will be announced at a later date. The Global MX-5 Cup racecars will be sold “ready to race” from a single supplier—a first for Mazda.

For 2015, the third-generation MX-5 will be used for its final season of professional racing in North America. (For 2016 and beyond, existing MX-5 Cup racecars will be eligible to compete in club racing only, the company notes.)

The 2015 Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires will kick off at Sebring in March, and conclude at the Petit Le Mans Powered by Mazda at Road Atlanta in October.

Renault applies model-based systems engineering to dual-clutch transmission

Car manufacturers are facing various and sometimes contradicting constraints such as energy efficiency, high performance, driving comfort, reliability, and safety. In a global context, they must also adapt driveline designs to different markets. Therefore, Renault must handle a variety of powertrain designs. Moreover, due to increasingly intelligent systems, mechanical and controls system design cycles are more and more linked. A common system mock-up is needed.

Image: Picture1.png

Renault has implemented model-based systems engineering (MBSE) to manage these challenges as well as to reduce development cycle and costs. With MBSE, design and integration problems are solved earlier, the number of prototypes and test benches are reduced, and cross-team collaboration is improved. The MBSE approach allows Renault to evaluate, throughout the development phases, the key attributes of the complete vehicle including the engine, transmission, actuators, and chassis.

Renault recently extended its MBSE approach to include a new dual-clutch transmission (DCT) and controls strategies validation and optimization.

The DCT, developed by Getrag, is being integrated into C-segment vehicles such as the Renault Mégane or Scenic, and will be widely applied to other vehicle ranges. The new DCT includes seven gears. Wet clutches allow for increased torque capacity up to 300 N•m (221 lb•ft).

The DCT enables gear pre-engagement when another gear is already engaged and drives power. The gear shifting is limited to clutch switching, without significant engine torque reduction. It makes the whole gear change faster, smoother, and more comfortable than a standard automated manual transmission. The engine control unit just needs to manage a slight torque drop by controlling the fuel injection in diesel engines or spark advance in gasoline engines.

The internal DCT command relies on electrohydraulic actuation for clutches and electromechanical actuation for shifting gears. The electrified command decreases the gearbox’s global power consumption, and it is mandatory when gears are shifted without available engine power (for instance, stop-start applications).

To address different steps of the design V-cycle, Renault must carry out numerous analyses to integrate the gearbox with the various engines and chassis. To cope with multiple simulations addressing different levels of assumptions, Renault has opted for LMS Imagine.Lab Amesim software from Siemens PLM Software as the simulation platform for multi-domain modeling. Using LMS Amesim, various levels of models can be built depending on user constraints and needs: parameters availability, level of details and accuracy, fast simulation constraints, real-time capabilities, etc.


Search Mechanic jobs

For the DCT project, Renault has used two levels of models addressing the complete drivetrain:

• Level one model: actuators are assumed to be ideal (excepting delays). This model remains simple and accelerates simulations for controls development and validation. It can be used for real-time applications, such as hardware-in-the-loop or software-in-the-loop to help software development.

• More detailed model: mechanical actuators geometry (barrels, connected finger, etc.) is replicated in the model to accurately compute contact forces between components. Main lines and consumers are included within hydraulic circuits that are pressurized by electropumps for clutch actuation. The speed of electropumps is regulated by the control logic to control pressure on the clutch pistons. This model was built to perform deeper analysis related to transmission actuation control and design.

These models help engineers understand the power flows between all subsystems and components as well as some drivability aspects.

Two types of validation were performed to demonstrate the models’ capabilities and accuracy:

• Functional validation confirms very simple scenarios such as correct gear shifting and providing the right actuators responses to the requests.

• Experimental validation compares measurements and simulation results with various variables such as gearbox in-shaft speeds, side-shafts torques, vehicle longitudinal acceleration, engine speed or actuators positions.

Functional model validation is an important stage in the modeling workflow. This step makes sure that the system will have the right type of behavior and functionality. Then, model correlation with experimental data lets Renault check simulation capabilities.

System simulation is used at Renault throughout the V-cycle for different applications. At the beginning, system simulation is applied to select the best system architecture and evaluate how a solution helps answer customer requirements. Then, simulation is used to evaluate high-level controls laws as well as calibration of actuator regulations to estimate the influence of different controls calibration on the gear shifting quality.

For the DCT project, approximately 60 requirements have been translated into scenarios. Then, the scenarios were simulated to validate virtually that the system and its controls fulfill the requirements. This early evaluation enabled Renault to isolate, understand, and solve several minor bugs and logic design issues that could have become critical if identified later on. Moreover, prototype testing can be accelerated by applying simulation during the pre-validation stage of the controls logic.

In addition, MBSE helps engineers quickly evaluate new designs or controls logic improvements, for example, to reduce fuel consumption with a good balance between the NVH response and drivability.

Racecar with composite-intensive suspension gets track tested in 2015

The tangy yellow-colored 1986 Honda CRX emblazoned with SANLUIS Rassini on its hood uses a patents-pending rear suspension as a replacement to its most recent setup of coil-over-springs and a straight axle with a Mumford linkage for lateral control.

“We’ve converted it to a dual-cantilever thermoplastic spring in the rear. It’s very similar to a double-wishbone geometry. The thermoplastic upper control arms are coupled with what’s very similar to a Watt’s linkage. That means during a two-wheel bump, the rear wheels move together. But when the car goes into roll, the coupling linkage locks the arms and those arms flex to add roll stiffness,” Jonathan Spiegel, Polystrand Inc.’s Senior Engineer, told Automotive Engineering.

The racecar will compete in the Sports Car Club of America’s (SCCA) Grand Touring Lite (GTL) 2015 race season on various tracks in the U.S. Project GTL partners are Polystrand, PPG Fiber Glass, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), and SANLUIS Rassini.

Polystrand provided the thermoplastic composite material. PPG supplied the continuous fibers for reinforcement of the thermoplastic material. UAB conducted materials property evaluation and molded the glass-reinforced springs and upper control arms, while SANLUIS Rassini handled suspension modeling, fabrication work, as well as final rear suspension assembly.

The racecar will compete against other purpose-built, highly modified series production sports cars, starting in the spring of 2015.

“We’ll be putting the rear suspension system under a real torture test. If we run the minimum number of SCCA’s GTL races, the suspension will experience several thousand miles of racing. Each race means continual high-stress on these lightweight, recyclable components,” said Spiegel, who designed the racecar’s suspension layout.

Bob Friedrichs, SANLUIS Rassini’s Vice President Engineering Suspension Group North America, noted that “the development of the GTL project in collaboration with Polystrand and PPG is an important one. It allows for testing of new continuous fiber thermoplastic technology for suspension springs and provides us with a lot of [vehicle] limit handling data in a short period of time.”

Spiegel estimates that the front-wheel-drive racecar shed more than 100 lb (45 kg) by replacing its all-steel rear suspension with a configuration featuring glass-reinforced nylon 6 springs and upper control arms attached to a steel subframe.

“The suspension loads are now fed directly into the frame structure rather than being in the unibody, so the car no longer needs all that supporting structure. In a production car that supporting structure would take up rear-passenger compartment volume and trunk space,” said Spiegel. “The prototype suspension not only reduces the mass but we can put what mass there is down lower, so that will help with the car’s handling.”

For SANLUIS Rassini, the world’s largest designer and manufacturer of leaf springs for light-duty vehicles, developing lightweight suspension components for future production applications is important. According to Friedrichs, “A commercially viable composites-intensive suspension for passenger cars would absolutely be a game changer.”

Weight savings between 30-40% are possible. “The implication that would have on lightweighting and CAFE standards would be huge,” Friedrichs noted.

3D-printed high-temperature ceramics

Heat-resistant ceramics are useful for making components such as engine hot parts, rocket nozzles, and nose cones that have to contend with high temperatures or extreme environments. The trouble is it’s not at all easy to cast or machine these heat-stable engineering ceramics into the necessary complex shapes.

In recent years, 3D-printing processes have been developed that enable much greater geometrical flexibility in fabricating ceramics. But whether the process deposits photosensitive resins that contain ceramic particles, jets binders onto ceramic particles, or fuses beds of ceramic powder with lasers, current additive manufacturing (AM) methods are limited by slow fabrication rates. Plus, they are often followed by a time-consuming binder-removal process. In any case, the physical properties of the final components are not optimal, yielding unreliable, low-strength parts that suffer from residual porosity, cracks, and/or inhomogeneities.

A new AM technique developed at HRL Laboratories, an R&D lab in Malibu, CA, that is jointly owned by General Motors and Boeing, has demonstrated the ability to make high-strength ceramic components featuring complex geometries more easily and rapidly. HRL’s Senior Chemical Engineer Zak Eckel and Senior Chemist Chaoyin Zhou have invented a polymer resin formulation that can be 3D-printed into green parts with complex geometries and then fired in a furnace where they pyrolyze with uniform shrinkage into high-density ceramics.

“With our new 3D-printing process we can take full advantage of the many desirable properties of this silicon oxycarbide ceramic, including high hardness, strength, and temperature capability as well as resistance to abrasion and corrosion,” said HRL program manager Tobias Schaedler when the new technology was unveiled. Such cellular ceramic materials are of interest for the core of lightweight, load-bearing ceramic sandwich panels for high-temperature applications—for example, in hypersonic vehicles and jet engines.

Printing preceramic monomers

“We go straight from printing the preceramic polymer to fully dense parts,” Eckel said. “The first method is stereolithography, where we solidify, polymerize a special ultraviolet (UV) curable preceramic resin and a UV photo initiator with a laser to form complex shapes, but this still takes hours or even days.”

That’s why the HRL team focused as well on a home-grown technique that produces green parts much more quickly in larger volumes. As part of a decade-long DARPA contract to develop lightweight, high-strength materials, he explained, researchers had developed a way “to funnel the UV light all the way down to the bottom” of the precursor resin tank, allowing much faster builds.

The trick is to solidify material by shining a UV lamp simultaneously through the holes in a lithographic mask while at the same time collimating the light within the illuminated shafts to harden all the way to the bottom. In this “self-propagating photopolymer waveguide method” the light penetrates via a waveguide effect based on successive downward reflections off the internal surfaces of the resin column. This process has created uniquely lightweight but strong truss structures, for instance.

“We produced an ultralight nickel microlattice that for awhile was the world’s lightest material; now it’s the world’s lightest metal material.”

Multiple ceramic recipes

Today they’re applying the alternative additive fabrication technique to high-temperature ceramic components.

Both UV hardening processes can ultimately produce many different ceramic materials, but for a start the team has demonstrated a silicon oxycarbide ceramic shaped into an intricately porous, lightweight structure that can withstand ultrahigh temperatures in excess of 1700°C (3092°F) and exhibits strength ten times higher than similar cellular ceramic materials, Eckel said.

“Technically, the amorphous glass microstructure is sort of a hybrid of glass and carbides; at the nanoscale it’s segregated into tiny silicon oxide regions surrounded by graphite layers,” he explained.

“We’re leveraging a certain special chemistry here,” Eckel continued. “Preceramic polymers and polymer-derived ceramics are pretty common. This class of materials was first developed in the 1960s.”

When heat treated to 1000°C (1832°F) under an inert atmosphere such as argon, they pyrolyze, forming many ceramic compounds including silicon carbide, silicon nitride, boron nitride, aluminum nitride, and various carbonitrides. At the same time, volatile chemical species such as methane, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, water, and hydrocarbons “cook off,” leaving the mostly densified, shrunken-down ceramic shape behind.

By attaching various organic molecular groups to an inorganic silicon- or carbon-based backbone such as a siloxane, silazane, or carbosilane, the research team can formulate the UV-active pre-ceramic monomers that crosslink strongly when suitably illuminated.

Uniform shrinkage

In the test reported in their paper, “Additive Manufacturing of Polymer Derived Ceramics” in the January 1st issue of Science magazine, the silicon oxycarbide precursor pattern experienced a substantial 42% mass loss and 30% linear shrinkage during conversion in the furnace. But the team described the shrinkage as “remarkably uniform,” almost like the storied shrunken heads of South Sea headhunters of yore, the relative proportions of the shrunken objects’ features remain the same.

The NRL team has used the ceramic fab technology to produce thin-element truss structures—demoing multiple microstructures, honeycombs, re-entrant honeycombs—that exhibit surprising degrees of flexibility. They’ve also built everything from corkscrews to rocket nozzles, missile nose cones, gas turbine engine blades, and micro impellers.

Additive manufacturing of such polymer-derived ceramic materials is not only of interest for propulsion components for jet engines and hypersonic vehicles, but thermal protection systems, porous burners, microelectromechanical systems, and electronic device packaging as well. HRL said that it is looking for a commercialization partner for this technology.

Ohio State’s ‘Bullet’ EV has a short range, but could surpass 400 mph

There were several electric vehicles (EVs) on display at the New York International Auto Show, but one of them is 38 ft (11.6 m) long, and weighs 8000 lb (3630 kg). It has a cockpit for just the driver, and will be trying to push the land speed record for an EV to over 400 mph at the Bonneville, UT, Salt Flats this August.

Image: aei-OSU-ev-a-415.jpg

It’s a college student project, but there’s no reason to sell the engineering team short. They are graduate students in Ohio State University’s Center for Automotive Research (CAR), which holds the existing world EV record—307 mph.

The team is working with a premier engineering company, Venturi Monaco, a racing EV team with a solid record of success, and is using a new generation of 2000 lithium-ion-phosphate pouch cells from A123 Systems. The total pack capacity is 100 kW·h and the weight is 3400 lb (1542 kg). Although the cells are similar to other A123 pouch cells, the ones in the “Bullet” EV’s pack are not yet commercially available, according to student team leader David Cooke.

Latest in “Bullet” series

This EV is the fourth in OSU’s Bullet series, although designated Bullet 3. No. 1 was an EV with nickel metal-hydride batteries, No. 2 was a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle, and No. 2.5 was a first effort with Li-ion batteries (32,113 cylindrical cells from A123) and is the holder of the existing world record.

The Bullet body is carbon fiber, mounted on a steel space frame. The coefficient of drag is just 0.127, thanks to an extreme effort at tapering the body sides and a driver “seating” position that is nearly horizontal.

“We had to justify everything that might increase the width, even screw heads,” said Evan Maley, a member of the student team. The body was designed at OSU by masters degree students, with CFD assistance from TotalSim USA.

To reduce width, the Bullet 3 uses one centrally located electric motor for each (front and rear) axle of the four-wheel-drive system, instead of a motor at each wheel. The battery pack has been tested for full power. However, the electrical system, including its two 10,500-rpm peak-rated permanent magnet synchronous motors, has only been tested to 2.1 MW (2816 hp), although design-rated for a total of 3000 hp (2238 kW).

With continued tweaking of the inverters and motor control, the Bullet 3 team expects to reach the full design power, Cooke said.

Powertrain by Venturi Monaco

Basic development of the powertrain, including the motors, was done by Venturi Monaco, with the student team performing the integration work. Venturi’s area of expertise is engineering for environmentally oriented racing, and it has developed EVs, hybrids, and biofuel vehicles.

The 24.5-in (622-mm) wheels are of forged bullet aluminum, No. 7075 alloy, a high-strength aircraft grade aluminum that gets both a pre- and post-treatment. The tires are a special ultra-lightweight design by Mickey Thompson Performance Tires & Wheels, and have only 0.0625-in (1.6-mm) of tread rubber.

In a track run, there is up to 1.5 in (38 mm) of growth in the diameter of the wheel-tire assembly, Maley said. This change creates a significant challenge for the electronic control system for the drivetrain, which needs precise information on the speed of the vehicle.

The carbon-fiber body and the high power outputs (which create interference) limit the use of wireless to a GPS signal, which in conjunction with a six-axis accelerometer detects all wheel motion to correct the GPS signal. In addition, there is an airspeed signal as a backup, using a bank of pitot tubes—a variant of the airspeed indicators in planes.

Two-speed transmission

The Bullet 3 has a two-speed transmission, so when the driver requests a shift, the control system slows each motor and then commands the shift. The computer next gradually raises motor speed at a rate of 1000 rpm per second, and at a specific rpm an overrunning clutch engages—a mechanical operation.

The motor is cooled by automatic transmission fluid, which is chilled immediately before the run to reduce its temperature to 25-30°C (77-86°F). During the run, the oil in the motor will rise to about 130°C (266°F).

The clutch and gearbox are not subject to high temperatures, so light racing gear oil is circulated, primarily to lubricate the bearings and reduce friction between gear teeth.

Motor electronics “ice” cooling

The motor electronics require active cooling. The circuit is filled with water, then is partly drained, leaving just enough to keep the pump primed. The system then is filled with ice chips just before the run, and by the time the run is over, all the ice will have melted.

Vehicle weight “is not your friend when you’re trying to accelerate,” noted Cooke. But he pointed out that the coefficient of friction of the Salt Flats course is just 0.3 to 0.6, which provides half the grip of asphalt. So if the vehicle is too light, there’s a traction issue, Cooke added. However, to get the overall performance needed, the Bullet 3 is heavier than what the team would consider ideal from a standpoint of what is required for traction.

Because acceleration is so important, in the drawing-board phase the OSU team did look at capacitors, which discharge more quickly. However, the batteries chosen maintain a relatively flat voltage curve as they discharge, going from 20% to 90% depletion with little voltage drop, he added. So on balance, they were the best choice, Cooke said.

The braking system uses a combination of aircraft disc brakes and two parachutes to stop the car.

FIA rules for record

The rules for the world land speed record in miles per hour (there also can be runs for a record in kilometers) are set by FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile). Speed is measured over a mile—between mile 5.5 and 6.5 on the 12-mi Bonneville course. The car is run both ways on the same course within an hour, and the two numbers are averaged.

When the vehicle completes its first run, the team has a brief period to prepare for the second run, including recharging the battery pack. There isn’t enough time for a full recharge, Maley said, but it takes only about 20 min for a 20-90+%. So the overall sizing of the battery pack factors this into the design. The charging operation uses a diesel generator (rated at 150 kVA) feeding through a dc battery supply, with the charge rate regulated by a control system from a laptop.

The driver will be Roger Schoer, the performance driver and instructor at the track of the East Liberty, OH, Transportation Research Center, where the OSU team does some of its testing.

Ohio State’s CAR began its EV program by participating in the open wheel Formula Lightning college series that ran through the 1990s. It also has been a participant in Formula SAE, Supermileage SAE, and Baja SAE programs.

Kettering FSAE team improved as season progressed

This year brought many new challenges to the Kettering University Formula SAE team. Since the team’s previous chief engineer had left and other core members had graduated, members knew that it was going to be an uphill battle coming into this competition season.

Additional challenges arose when the team decided to switch to ten-in wheels from the old, heavy thirteens that GMI2014’s predecessors wore (GMI is a reference to General Motors Institute, the former name of Kettering University). With new members coming aboard and a redesign of key parts such as the chassis, uprights, suspension, and brakes, this year tested not only the team’s engineering skills, but also its patience.

A Kettering strength

After completing GMI2014 and having a few days to test it, the story of the Kettering University Formula SAE team’s competition at Michigan International Speedway (MIS) began. Arriving at MIS on Thursday (May 15) morning, sleep-deprived and teeth-stained from coffee, team members quickly got ready for the static events while preparing to go through technical inspection. The first event for the team was the cost event. There, the judges looked over the team’s car and picked over things that were not in the cost report—things that otherwise would have gone unnoticed. Walking away from the audit, the team placed the highest in any event that it would at MIS with a respectable sixth place.

The next stop for the team was the design event. Having an all-new design with very few days of testing meant that the theoretical data was there, but there was hardly any test data. Despite lacking the test data of a new design, the team came out 38th overall, tying with some other teams.

The last static event on tap for the team was the business presentation. After finishing 52nd in the event last year, the 2014 Kettering team business presenters were able to pitch the team to 12th place for the event, an improvement of 40 places. Placing quite well in the static events, it was clear that the Kettering University Formula SAE team was unable to be stopped…or so it seemed.

Problems with Percy

During the mandatory technical inspection, the team had a hard time getting Percy (the name of the template representing a person sitting in a Formula SAE vehicle) to fit comfortably in the car. Unfortunately, by the time the team passed tech inspection on Friday, the acceleration and skid pad events had come to a close. But the team was able to get the car through the tilt, noise, and brake tests, and was able to compete in the autocross event held that afternoon.

Managing to do well enough in the autocross event to land the team’s car in the 33rd spot for the endurance event to be held the next day allowed members of the team to sleep comfortably Friday night.

But the next day was full of surprises.

Saturday brought the highest-weighted event: endurance. While this year’s endurance event at MIS had some surprising occurrences such as three car fires and less than half of the field finishing the event, the Kettering University Formula SAE team’s car came out in full force. Unfortunately, a little over halfway through the team’s swing at endurance, the car ran out of gas. This was puzzling because the Kettering team’s car won fuel economy last year. The team bounced into action getting the car back into the paddocks so that the problem could be diagnosed.

The good news

What may have turned out to be a problematic issue turned out to be a simple one.

“The main issue with the vehicle at Michigan [International Speedway] was an issue with the ECU code,” commented the Kettering University Formula SAE team chief engineer Adam Watson. For the 2014 season, it was decided to use a new adaptive O2 sensor. This allows the fuel map to continuously update to refine itself based on the feedback from the O2 sensor. While this would normally be a positive change to the vehicle, removing the O2 sensor and turning off the adaptive O2 instead of just disabling the adaptive O2 can cause the fuel map to continuously adapt to a fixed feedback value, which is incorrect.

That is, unfortunately, what the Kettering University Formula SAE team did. Without disabling the adaptive O2, the ECU kept injecting more and more fuel into the combustion chamber every lap until the car ran out of fuel. At the time that the car did so, it was just over halfway through the endurance event. The car had to be towed off of the course.

After finding out what went wrong, the Kettering team set its focus on the Formula SAE competition in Lincoln, NE. The team also made some adjustments to its vehicle.

“For Lincoln, we tested many combinations of camber, toe, springs, and roll center to tune the chassis for the different dynamic events,” explained Watson.

By testing the different combinations, the team nailed the different vehicle setups needed for the dynamic events. The team also gave the car more curb appeal by powder-coating the chassis white. This required the car to be disassembled before powder coating and then reassembled. In addition, more data was acquired during the time between the two competitions for the static events, especially for the design event, through more testing.

Despite not having a stellar performance at MIS like it did last year, it was evident that the Kettering University Formula SAE team brought some lessons home to learn from. Still, finishing 62nd overall with one of the lowest-priced cars at the competition is nothing to be upset about and proves that the lowest-priced car is certainly not the worst car. That is especially so considering that most of the parts of the car were completely redesigned and the car was partially built by new team members.

What the Kettering team learned at MIS was used as a basis for preparing the car for the Lincoln competition, where the team took 1st in fuel efficiency, 2nd in cost, 11th in endurance and, along with winning Nucor Steel’s Pay for Performance Award for the second year in a row, 10th overall.

Charles Mancino, a junior studying mechanical engineering at Kettering University, wrote this article for MOMENTUM. He has been on the Kettering University Formula SAE team since his freshman year and has been an instrumental part in designing and building the university’s Formula SAE vehicles. He is also the vice president of the Kettering University A-Section Firebirds Club, a member of the Kettering University student-run newspaper, a tour guide at Kettering University, and a blog writer for the university.

Tesla applies for dealership license in Michigan

Tesla Motors Inc. has applied for a Michigan dealership license, a move the automaker said is intended to test a state law effectively banning the electric-vehicle maker’s direct-sales model.

A decision on the application is expected within two months, Michigan Secretary of State spokesman Fred Woodhams said today.

Tesla applied for the license in November, about a year after Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill prohibiting the direct sale of vehicles from automakers to consumers.

The application is a way of testing the state’s seriousness in enforcing the law, a Tesla spokeswoman wrote in an email to Automotive News.

“As recently amended, current Michigan law prohibits Tesla from being able to license its own sales and service operations in the state,” the spokeswoman wrote. “Submission of the application is intended to seek the secretary of state’s confirmation of this prohibition. Once confirmed, Tesla will review any options available to overturn this anti-consumer law.”

Tesla applied for a Class A dealership license, which would allow the company to sell new and used vehicles if approved, Woodhams said. A Class A dealership also must have an on-site repair center or be affiliated with a third-party repair operation, Woodhams said.

He said Tesla supplied the secretary of state’s office with additional information late last week after the office requested it. It is unclear what information was sought, but Woodhams said it is typical for an applicant to be asked for more information.

In October 2014, Snyder signed a bill into law banning the direct sale of vehicles from automakers to consumers. The bill passed both houses of the Legislature with one combined “no” vote, closing a loophole that allowed Tesla and others to operate in the state.

Tesla called the bill, backed by the Michigan Automobile Dealers Association, “a raw deal” when it passed the Legislature. The language banning direct sales was added at the last minute to the bill, which initially was written to ensure that dealers could tack additional fees on to the purchase price of vehicles sold in the state.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tesla also has fought to crack into other states where direct sales are banned, including Texas. While it has not had success in tilting public policy in its favor in Michigan or Texas, Tesla succeeded in 2015 in getting Georgia, Maryland and New Jersey to allow direct sales.

Arvind Saxena appointed as MD of Volkswagen Passenger Cars in India

a leading German car manufacturer has announced Arvind Saxena as the managing director of Volkswagen Passenger Cars in India.

Saxena, former director, sales & marketing at Hyundai India, will now be heading the Volkswagen brand with responsibility of sales, after sales & marketing, said the statement issued by the company on Wednesday.

ET had exclusively reported in July that Saxena was looking at growth options with leading automotive companies in the country including Volkswagen India.

Gerry Dorizas, president & MD, Volkswagen Group Sales India Private Limited said, “”We are confident that his (Saxena’s) extensive experience in the Indian automotive sector will contribute towards the growth of the Brand.””

With the appointment of Saxena, Volkswagen has created a new position of managing director in the company. He will manage the function of Neeraj Garg, who was member of board, director – passenger cars, Volkswagen Group Sales India Private Limited.

With over 3 decades of experience in the automotive industry, Saxena has worked for various automobile majors like Bajaj Auto, Maruti Suzuki, Fiat India and Hyundai India. He has assumed various roles right from area manager, regional marketing manager, general manager, dealer development, chief general manager sales, VP sales & marketing to director & member of Board at Hyundai India, when he made this move.

This appointment is part of the major churn in the automotive industry. Just last week, Tata Motors appointed Karl Slym as the managing director of the company.Ford India has appointed Vinay Piparsania as the new executive director, marketing, sales and service, who is likely to take charge from 1 stof September from Nigel Wark.

And Nissan’s marketing arm Hover Automotive recently recalled Nitish Tipnis to lead sales and marketing role, taking charge from Dinesh Jain. Hyundai India will now be on the look out to replace Arvind Saxena’s position.