One of the perceived problems with electric vehicles is that they have to be plugged in.
Anyway, there is considerable work going on to find the ways and means to conveniently charge the cars wirelessly.
And one of the first facilities where vehicle manufacturers and others can test their wireless tech is at the International Transportation Innovation Center (ITIC) in Greenville, South Carolina, where a test bed, which passed a formal project review by the U.S. Dept. of Energy, has been developed through an academic-government-industry partnership. (Which just goes to show you how much work is involved in this development.)
Specifically, the wireless charging test bed was developed by the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) with the collaboration of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), ITIC, Toyota, Cisco, Duke Energy, and Evatran.
The way it worked: ORNL received an $8.1-million grant from the Dept. of Energy in 2013. It, in turn, contracted with CU-ICAR for the development of the grid- and vehicle-side communication system for wireless charging (and the potential impact of electromagnetic fields).
CU-ICAR partnered with ITIC for a physical test bed.
Evantran integrated the coil systems and power electronics developed by ORNL into Toyota-supplied test vehicles. Cisco worked with CU-ICAR on communication radios. Duke Energy provided both the grid connectivity and the power supply infrastructure.
Yes, a lot has gone into this.
In the first test, one of the two Toyota vehicles was tested at a power transfer rate of 6.9-kilowatts; an overall efficiency greater than 85% was achieved.
Stationary charging requires that a vehicle is located above a charging pad.
So to make this even simpler, there’s in-motion wireless charging that they’re also pursuing. They’re working on a mile-long straightaway at the ITIC facility that will support wireless charging at power levels up to 250-kilowatts.
Which, if deployed, could not only alleviate but possibly eliminate the range anxiety common among EV drivers.
Which type of automotive factory uses the most amount of energy?
· Parts facilities
· Machining operations
· Assembly plants
If you selected “Assembly plants,” then you know your energy usage.
In fact, according to GM, assembly plants use 69% of the total energy used by all five categories. Machining comes in second at just 15%.
GM has been working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program to find the ways and means to reduce energy use at its plants. And it has done a good job over the years, based on its performance in the ENERGY STAR Challenge for Industry.
It has 73 plants that met the challenge by reducing energy use by at least 10% within five years or less.
Notably, in the 20 years that GM has partnered with ENERGY STAR, it has reduced energy intensity by 40% and carbon dioxide emissions by 41% and saved $435-million in energy costs—all while increasing production.
This year, three plants met the challenge for the first time: Baltimore Operations, Rochester Operations and Spring Hill Assembly.
And what’s interesting is that what they did in the plants is arguably common sense (and the sorts of things that one could do at an office or home).
At GM Rochester: When you aren’t using equipment, Shut It Off
For example, at Spring Hill reduced energy intensity by 33% over just two years by installing variable-frequency drives for pumps and fans as well as fluorescent lighting and LED fixtures.
At GM Rochester they reduced energy intensity by 29% through upgrading heating units, reducing compressed air pressure, adding motion-controlled lighting, installing energy-efficient windows, deploying manufacturing equipment with high-efficiency motors and variable-speed drives, and shutting things off.
“’Shut It Off’ became a catchphrase throughout the plant,” said Bob Randazzo, Rochester Operations site utilities manager.
Who knows? Maybe “Don’t Be Fuelish” might make a return from 1974.
There is a lot you can learn about the success of a vehicle design in the market by simply driving the vehicle that you’re interested in learning about. One of the things that you simply need to do is to be aware of the reaction of other drivers when you’re behind the wheel of something new. (Of course, this requires that what you’re interested in learning about has been completely—or almost completely—finished, which may be too late.)
If they are oblivious to what you’re driving—and let’s face it, most people are more interested in what they’re doing behind the wheel of their own car (one hopes that it is driving, but too often it is driving and something else)—then it might not be so good for said vehicle.
But if they look and let you know they’re looking: That’s good.
Case in point was a drive down I-95 from Raleigh to Orlando as part of what Chevy is calling its #FindNewRoads program for the 2016 Camaro, which is meant to get the car in all the states of the Lower 48.
I had a BMW X6 roll up quickly behind me at one point, so I moved out of the left lane and into the right. Oddly, the X6 didn’t go blasting beyond me but pulled alongside and stayed there. I glanced over.
And got a point to the Camaro and got a thumbs-up.
Then he blasted by.
Next, it was a guy in a Hyundai Genesis 2.0T Coupe. Now it strikes me that about the only things that the Hyundai and Chevy have in common are two doors and powerful engines under the hood. I was in a car with a 3.6-liter V6, which is said to have the highest specific output of any car in its segment, 335 hp and 284 lb-ft. It also has cylinder deactivation, so I averaged 29.1 mpg over what was, admittedly, mainly highway driving, but a chunk of trying to find a parking place in Savannah.
Yet there it was: a thumbs-up.
I pulled into a gas station and when I came out of the station’s store I saw I guy who was walking around the back of the Camaro with a look of admiration on his face. On the other side of the island was a massive RV with Massachusetts plates. “That’s one good-looking machine,” he said.
One of the things that is clearly clicking at General Motors is design. This sixth-generation Camaro is a clear predecessor of gen five, but designer Hawsup Lee went beyond that and nailed what is its own design.
While this is still a muscle car in presence, it is one that is of our time, not a historic anomaly.
#FindNewRoads will clearly FindNewCustomers.
“These are the cars I would like to drive.”
So says Todd Parker, director of Design, Global Chevrolet, of the vehicles in the Chevy Red Line Series, concepts that the company will be displaying at this year’s SEMA.
He says that the designs are all about “Takin’ it to the max.”
Across the board the vehicles have Enhanced Silver Metallic exteriors, a custom Charcoal roof panel, and Satin Graphite and red accents.
Trax Red Line: Also included are 18-in. wheels with custom accents, black bowtie kid and roof mounts by Thule.
Malibu Red Line: Also included are a Chevrolet Performance concept suspension lowering kid, 19-in. wheels, tinted taillamp lenses and windows.
Camaro Red Line: Also included are 20-in. wheels in Satin Graphite with red accents, Camaro nameplates in gloss black with red accent, air intake kit, and red upper and lower grille inserts.
Colorado Red Line: Also included are Goodyear Wrangler Fortitude tiers on 18-in. wheels, nameplates in gloss black with red accent, GearOn bike rack by Thule.
Silverado Red Line: Z71 bedside graphics and Silverado nameplates in black with red accents, red tow hooks, 22-in. wheels, black-chrome exhaust tip, Brembo front brake kit.
Le Corbusier, the Swiss/French architect and city planner (1887-1965; he’s the guy who wrote “A house is a machine for living in”), was a big proponent of the automobile. And he understood that the industry that was growing during his middle years would require the transformation of cities, especially given that roads were designed primarily, especially in Europe, of modes of transport that weren’t powered by internal combustion engines. He saw how companies in the industry were changing the means and modes of production to create cars.
As Antonio Amado quotes his in Voiture Minimum: Le Corbusier and the Automobile (The MIT Press, 2011), “The automobile is an object with a simple function (to run) and complex ends (comfort, resistance, looks) that has placed major industry under an imperious necessity to standardize. . .through the relentless competition of the countless firms that build them, each has found itself under the obligation to dominate the competition, and, on top of the standard for realized practical things, there has intervened a search for perfection and harmony outside of brute practical fact, a manifestation not only of perfection and harmony, but of beauty.”
In France there is a celebration of Le Corbusier at the Centre des Monuments Nationaux, “Des voitures à habiter: automobile et modernisme XXe-XXIe siècles” (“Cars for living: the automobile and modernism in the 20th and 21st centuries”) at the Villa Savoye in Poissy running through March 20, 2016.
For this exhibition, Groupe Renault design teams developed a concept car, finding inspiration in the 1930s, considered by some as the “golden age” of the automobile.
The vehicle is called the “Coupe Corbusier.”