High voltage battery insight from Delphi Technologies

Delphi Technologies Academy EV content enhanced with high voltage battery insight.

Delphi Technologies has enhanced the electrified vehicle content on its training platform with the addition of a virtual insight into the workings of a high voltage battery.

Entitled ‘Inside a HV battery’ the short video provides viewers with an easy-to-follow understanding of the principles and components of the high voltage battery. This complements existing H/EV tutorials on the Delphi Technologies Academy learning platform – the company’s new online training resource. The HV battery introduction joins training materials on topics including instruction on how to lift an EV, information on protective equipment and modules that support the completion of popular IMI courses, such as the Hybrid Level 3 IMI programme – that covers everything other than working on a live battery or active system.

Phil Mitchell, Technical Services Manager, Delphi Technologies Aftermarket, said: “We recognised the increasingly urgent need for independent garages to have access to electric vehicle training a long time ago. The Delphi Technologies Academy and the introduction of online tutorials, such as the HV battery video, are part of our solution to help address the huge shortage in non-franchised garage personnel having the skills to work on electrified vehicles.

“The virtual content of the Delphi Technologies Academy perfectly complements our practical EV training, allowing us to offer a sought-after ‘blended learning approach’, but also enables users to significantly expand their knowledge of EVs in general. With the technology being so fresh, the content is suitable for those who are just starting out on their career right through to those who have spent 30 years in the industry.”

https://academy.delphiautoparts.com

Hybrid & EV Sales Increase

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ September 2021 report showed sales increases of 104.9% and 87.9% (year-to-date change) for new plug-in hybrid electric and battery electric vehicles respectively and workshops are catching up with this trend, with training courses enabling technicians to safely work on these vehicles proving popular, with many dates fully booked months in advance. However, current estimates still highlight around only 6% of the workforce are EV qualified.

A YouGov study of 1,731 UK drivers commissioned by The Motor Ombudsman reveals that six in ten respondents would consider getting behind the wheel of an electric car if they were to purchase a new or used vehicle in 2022, with 39% of citing the fact that a decision to go electric was due to the rising cost of fuel. MD Bill Fennell, comments: “As our study has shown, electric vehicles are fast becoming a leading choice for motorists when buying a car, thanks in part to the growing charging network and the greater choice of models now on the market. However, current events, such as the rising cost of petrol and diesel at the pumps, the unavailability of fuel, as well as the expansion of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone in the London area, are clearly front of mind for consumers, and are playing their part in the decision regarding what type of car to get next.”

Over the next few pages, we look at the latest offerings from parts and training suppliers to support the growing opportunity that hybrid and EV repair presents…

EV Parts

Parts for an EV can differ to their ICE cousins.

Be wary of ‘identical’ ICE and EV components…

Peter Wallace, Comline Auto Parts’ Group Senior Business Line/Product Manager, tells autotechnician that technicians need to be cautious when fitting EV steering & suspension components. While developing its steering & suspension catalogue, Peter has noticed scenarios where parts for an EV are different to their internal combustion engine cousins; for example, on an electric Peugeot 208 and Vauxhall Corsa-F, the original anti-roll bar link is lighter than the one fitted to models with an ICE.

Peter explained: “My gut instinct is that these parts have been made lighter to compensate for the additional battery weight. The issue, though, is that these components will look identical to the original specification but will comprise of subtle rotational or dimensional differences; therefore, if fitted, those components will cause some issues when the vehicle is being driven, such as veering left-to-right (yaw ratio) and vice-versa.

“What’s more, sticking with the same vehicle layout, the orientation of the bush in the lower wishbone arms are different on the electric version, which will allow for similar comfort as the ICE version when going over bumps – again, due to weight. The same applies to the ball joint, which has a different articulation angle and mounting face to pinch bolt height. These are things that technicians need to be aware of and why Comline’s cataloguing needs to be accurate and up- to-date.”

Peter believes this trend is a result of VMs changing their approach when developing parts for their vehicles. “When the Nissan Leaf (2010-2017) was launched, it was equipped with components from models within Nissan’s existing range, such as arms, links, ball joints and track rod ends off a Nissan Juke (2010-onwards); however, because of scenarios like the one identified above, VMs are having to change tact.

“The Tesla Model 3, Audi e-tron and Volkswagen ID.3 are all examples where every part is new, so VMs are spending significant amounts of time and resources in developing new parts. As a result, technicians need to be careful and may need to adapt their fitting techniques because it’s not just ‘another vehicle’; it’s a heavier vehicle and boasts different characteristics, wear and tear.”

Comline is set to launch 50 parts that will only fit EV vehicles over the next three-to-six months. www.comline.uk.com/products/steering-suspension.

High-voltage e-learning course…

The MEYLE Academy has a wide range of free to access digital training courses, including an e-learning course on high-voltage vehicles.

Participants receive a certificate after successful participation and passing of the final exam. This certificate is based on the German DGUV regulations and is mandatory there to work on high-voltage vehicles. MEYLE’s senior technical trainer Patrick Stüdemann stresses the relevance of the course for the international market: “The course content is not only highly relevant for all workshops in Germany but also across the globe, since the training covers all essential aspects, when dealing with a high-voltage vehicle.”

In addition to the relevant safety and health aspects, content includes the differences between the various drive topologies, legal matters as well as hazards and relevant first aid. www.meyle.com/en/trainings

Instant access to vital data…

Pro-Assist is a mobile app, designed by training providers Pro- Moto, providing access to critical and simplified information for technicians working on hybrid and electric vehicles.

Vehicle manufacturers all have a different way of presenting the relevant and critical information, Pro-Assist presents the different Hybrid, Electric, REV models currently across the UK and European markets in one intuitive format. Users can find the technical information required to correctly, and safely, work on these vehicles – from towing to safe shut-down procedures.

Download on the Apple Store or Google Play via https://m.appbuild.io/proassis

A new era for the electric motor…

Remanufacturer Carwood is evolving its offering to include capability for hybrid and electric vehicles. Here, they tell autotechnician about its upcoming specialist rewind business based down in Yeovil, that enables workshops to provide customers with a cost-effective electric motor repair.

Although electric motors have been used in automotive applications for well over a century, their adoption as one of the three main powertrain components in electric vehicles, effectively replacing the internal combustion engine, represents a significant technology leap. Whilst traditional motors typically consist of a stator, rotor and bearings, the latest generation of motors for electric vehicles are much more complex. Incorporating integrated gearboxes, sophisticated electronic control and hi-tech cooling systems, they are a completely different animal, and require an altogether different skill set to service them.

Faced with this reality, many garages shy away from any sort of work on the electric motor in hybrid and electric vehicles, choosing only to sell the motor, and not offer even a fitment service, let alone repair. As well as the unnecessary expense of a brand-new motor, this costs the vehicle owner additional time and hassle. Carwood has the necessary equipment and know-how needed to return the unit to its original condition, providing hybrid and EV owners with a much more cost- effective and convenient service option.

The company recently had a Renault Zoe come into its Coventry workshop, with a danger warning sign illuminated on the dashboard, indicating a high-voltage, electrical fault and rendering the vehicle undriveable. Having performed a series of advanced, on-vehicle diagnostic tests, and the prospect of a new replacement unit costing the customer upwards of £2,000, the motor was removed and sent to Yeovil for further testing. Here, the motor was stripped down and subjected to further diagnostic and test routines, developed in-house for the remanufacturing of electric vehicle motors. Although the motor was intended to be non-serviceable, Carwood has also developed special tools to both dismantle, and reassemble the motor assembly back to OE build specifications.

EV motor stator

An EV motor stator.

A stator fault, caused by an insulation failure on one of the slot linings, was subsequently identified, requiring a full rewind – an intricate process which took over 16 hours to complete by hand. To verify its electrical integrity, and confirm the fault had been fixed, the stator was retested on a static surge test. Once reassembled with new bearings, seals and brushes, the complete motor was then put on a dynamometer to replicate on-vehicle conditions, before being reinstalled into the customer’s car. With a motor now performing as good as new, and with a much lower bill, the customers were very satisfied. Carwood’s electric motor programme for hybrid and electric motors will be launched in early 2022. Email: electricvehicle@carwood.org

Causes of electric motor failure…

Carwood is seeing electric motor failures due to a variety of reasons. These include:

Evolving support…

Tapping into new trends, and preparing for them in advance, is essential for the long-term success of a workshop says Schaeffler, and it is working on solutions to support workshops moving forward. “We consider digitalisation to be an opportunity to support complex repair procedures on- site,” explains Jens Schüler, President GKAM, Global Sales & Marketing. REPXPERT provides workshops with appropriate special tools and repair support, not just via traditional channels like personal training and hotlines, but increasingly through digital formats such as virtual installation instructions and training sessions.

Schaeffler is also helping to ensure that independent workshops do not lose out on the opportunities offered by electric mobility, developing e-axles and hybrid modules for electric vehicle manufacturers.

Evolving components…

The impact of new technologies on the independent aftermarket (IAM) has had a big influence on the direction Nissens Automotive has taken. “We see two main technology impacts on the IAM currently – new e nergy vehicles (NEVs) and electrification of components,” says Nissens VP of Product & Technology, Jesper Petersen.

“We already have plans to be part of the development and preparation for upcoming NEVs. For electrification of components, emission norms and rigorous efficiency standards are forcing car manufacturers to provide vehicle systems with more intelligent parts. We must address this change as many components in the Nissens portfolio are currently experiencing an update, for example, our electrically actuated turbochargers, EGR valves, electric water pumps and electronically controlled fan/ blower assemblies.”

The company is now focusing on more active parts in its offerings across three major systems – air conditioning (AC), engine cooling (EC) and efficiency & emissions (EE) – by developing electricity-driven and software-controlled components. It currently provides almost 400 parts for the most popular hybrid and electric cars, for systems like AC, including heat pumps and compressors, as well as parts for the EC and EE systems, like EGR valves and turbo part upgrades.

Nissens’ electrical water pump – there will be more instances of cooling and HVAC systems where electrical components supersede traditionally powered components.

EV Masters Roadshow…

Our Virtual Academy has entered the world of face-to-face training and the first offering of OVA Live is its EV Masters Roadshow, developed in partnership with HEVRA.

Over four days, technicians will be fully immersed in the practical diagnosis of hybrid and electric vehicles, giving successful candidates an IMI Level 4 Award and the necessary skills, knowledge, and confidence to undertake the diagnosis and associated repairs of electrified vehicles The time spent in the classroom will be kept to a minimum, with a heavy emphasis on immersive, practical training on real cars with live faults, within the workshop.

The training includes the function, operation and diagnosis of the following systems: Hybrid/Electric Vehicle Powertrain Management – Sensors, Actuators, and Control Methods; Charging Systems – Cables, Connections, Communication Protocols; Battery Management Systems – Operating States, Failure Modes, Monitoring Systems, Thermal Management; Battery Diagnosis and Repair – Live Work and Analysis; Hybrid/ Electric Vehicle Safety and Protection Systems – Interlock, Isolation, Insulation, and Bonding Circuits.

The course is being held at multiple locations across the UK – upcoming dates include Walsall 14-17 December, St. Helens 18-21 January 2022, Somerset 25-28 January, Surrey 15-18 February, and Brands Hatch 22-25 February. Candidates must already have achieved the Level 3 Award in Electric Hybrid Vehicle System Repair and Replacement, or an equivalent industry qualification.

“This incorporates IMI Level 4, but it’s called EV Masters for a reason,” Ben Stockton, MD of Our Virtual Academy told autotechnician. “We’re very good trainers but we do acknowledge we’re not there working day in, day out at the grindstone seeing all of the various faults that are around and this is where our tie up with HEVRA has come in. Pete Melville has been collecting failed components for a donor vehicle that we can use, simulating genuine faults that have happened and have been diagnosed throughout the HEVRA network. We dedicate around two and a half days teaching the diagnostic techniques and underpinning knowledge of what these techniques are all about and then wheel out the vehicle and go through the hands-on training, giving us the confidence that what we’ve taught them on the hypothetical on how to diagnose, transfers into doing it for real, with real faults.”

The four-day EV Masters training costs £1,395 + VAT per person. In addition to receiving an OVA EV Masters certificate and an IMI L4 certificate, attendees will also gain three months free access to the advanced hybrid and electric content on OurVirtualAcademy.com.

Email: Sales@OurVirtualAcademy.comwww.ourvirtualacademy.com/ev-masters-roadshow

EV battery & coolant leak detector…

Redline Detection has engineered diagnostic leak detection technology exclusively for battery electric vehicles. “Redline has partnered with leading EV automakers to develop technology that gives 100% assurance that battery cases and battery coolant systems are sealed under precise pressures and meet all OEM and battery manufacturer warranty standards for safety,” says CMO Alex Parker.

The Battery + Coolant Leak Detector (BCLD) was designed to test the integrity of battery enclosures in electric and hybrid vehicles, it connects to the battery enclosure on or off the vehicle, giving audible and visual progress and precise pass/fail indication—specific to that battery and vehicle type—when testing is complete. Data logging and reports can be accessed remotely, and the machine is programmable for future battery configurations.

Testing the integrity of battery enclosures is necessary to ensure that there is no possible intrusion of water, dust, or contaminants that could cause catastrophic failure. Battery enclosures are tested after any collision, even a scrape to the bottom of the battery box over a curb that could compromise the seal, as well as after lid off battery maintenance or service.

New Car Focus: BMW i4

By making its latest electric vehicle simpler, Rob Marshall finds that BMW has made the electric car better.

Regardless of whether you are a Bimmer liker, or hater, the company deserves credit for its stance on EVs. Back in 2008, BMW had embarked on ‘Projekt i’, an exercise that involved leasing 500 Battery Electric MINIs to selected North American punters and a further 24 to designated Londoners. This was not environmental greenwash. As BMW saw its moral responsibilities extending beyond the motorcar and into its ‘fuel’, it partnered with Norsk Hydro, the Norwegian hydroelectric firm that generated 28% of Germany’s total electricity supply at the time.

Sure enough, the fruits of the ‘Projekt’ included a continued relationship with hydroelectric power, which BMW now sources more locally and uses it in its factories. This is a crucial point, because EV’s environmental worth is undermined, if produced in a country, where fossil fuels provide most of the electricity, which is the situation in Germany, unlike the UK. ‘Projekt i’ also spawned the intriguing and promisingly different i3 and i8 models. Unfortunately, those high-voltage BMWs were built on expensive bespoke platforms and, despite being interesting and desirable, they are hardly mainstream. The new i4 five-door hatchback, or ‘Gran Coupé’ in BMW marketing parlance, is being launched alongside the iX SUV. Both vehicles are underpinned by the same basic Cluster Architecture (CLAR) BMW’s new i4 Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) is a Gran Coupé (i.e. a five-door hatchback) with dimensions that are similar to those of a current production 3-series. Pictured is the rear-driven i4 eDrive40 platform that is shared with other petrol/diesel/hybrid BMWs, including the G20 3-series.

The BMW i4 eDrive40 is rear-driven, using a 335bhp (250KW) motor, and possesses a 366 miles range between charges and can dispatch 0-60mph in 5.6s. The i4 M50 has the honour of being the first all-electric BMW M car and is equipped with an additional electric motor on the front axle, giving all-wheel drive capability (albeit still with a rear drive bias) and a combined output of 536bhp (400KW), translating into a 0-60mph acceleration time of 3.9s and a 317 miles stated range.

The fifth generation eDrive drive unit comprises the electric motor, inverter and a single-speed transmission. BMW claims it has a 50% higher energy density than a current i3.

BMW claims that the electric drive motors boast a 93% efficiency rating, which helps to keep down the battery size and weight.

Addressing the critics…

The i4’s handsome but conservative looks hints at technical convention. Indeed, on the surface, there is little to surprise and delight: the battery pack is fixed to the floor pan, while the main motor/transmission/differential is mounted beneath the boot floor. Yet, looking closer reveals clever thinking to address common EV criticisms. While the precise battery cell technology is not revealed, BMW has made the batteries less bulky, championing a cell height of 110mm. It is also another manufacturer that realises how disproportionately heavy battery packs harm handling and efficiency. It has also strived to keep pre-assembly component distances as low as possible. BMW produces its prismatic cell modules in Dingolfing (Germany), the flexible assembly specifications of which vary according to model. The batteries are then transported to Munich. The i4 possesses four modules, containing 72 cells each and three 12-cell modules, giving a gross energy content of 83.9kWh. The battery warranty lasts for just under 100,000 miles, or eight years.

While it cannot do much about the locations in which the precious metals are situated, BMW has taken the human rights problems of cobalt mining into its own hands, by sourcing the rare element from mines in Australia, rather than the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The company has also strived to reduce the cobalt content within the battery packs, although as the ~5% cobalt (traditionally) accounts for ~95% of a traditional high voltage battery’s scrap value (lithium is relatively worthless), this might make it harder to justify recycling from an economics point of view. Even so, BMW claims a 90% recycling rate, compared to the EU legal limit of 50% by weight.

BMW i4 assembly takes place in Munich, on the same production lines as petrol/diesel/hybrid 3-series and M3 models.

The i4’s high-voltage battery pack is fitted to the underside by a fully-automated system.

Perhaps more importantly, BMW utilises electromagnetism to replace permanent magnets within the drive motors, avoiding the need for expensive and rare earth elements to be used in their production. This is a radical departure from convention, by making its EV less dependent on very rare and expensive elements. With the US considering the imposition of tariffs on neodymium magnet imports, BMW’s decision may be crucial to reduce the cost of EV production – although whether these savings will be passed to the customer, or not, is another question altogether.

Under the skin…

The voice-activated HVAC system possesses three zones. The cabin filter uses nano-fleece technology and more conventional activated carbon to enable ultra-fine dust and even certain micro-bacterial particles to be kept out of the cabin. A pre-conditioning function can be activated by the driver via the BMW smartphone app, prior to entering the car.

The basic thermal management (i.e. not just cooling but also heating) for the battery and associated hardware comprises three coolant circuits, interconnected by electric valves, all of which share a common expansion tank. This can, for example, allow heat from the drive motor to warm the battery pack. The new heat pump system uses 75% less energy than the current i3 and consists of a high-voltage refrigerant compressor, a pair of evaporators, a water-cooled condenser, and two 9KW heaters for extremely cold conditions. Surprisingly, the resultant energy savings can increase driving range by up to 30%. While the advantages offered by enhanced battery density, less weight and a more efficient drive unit benefit handling and acceleration, BMW has also considered that EVs tend to have feeble towing capacities. Yet, the i4 can tow up to 1,000 kgs.

Dependent on specification, up to 40 ADAS systems can feature, although they all work using camera, radar and/or ultrasonic sensors. Out of the six categories of automation, defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers, the i4’s systems achieve Level Two (i.e. ‘partial automation’), where both steering and speed are controlled simultaneously. While Distance Cruise Control is hardly novel, the i4’s system can also stop the car at red traffic light signals. While BMW says this feature is unique to the segment, it has not been confirmed if its availability is restricted only to the German market. The Route Monitoring function is another noteworthy feature, because it uses the satellite navigation system to select the appropriate speed for the selected route.

Summary: By normalising its new BEV, BMW has improved the electric vehicle in several important ways, especially by reducing its environmental impact at the manufacturing stage. The i4 will be available in the UK from November. Prices start at £51,905 for the i4 eDrive40 and commence at £63,905 for the i4 M50.

Compared with the i4 eDrive40, the i4 M50’s suspension differs by possessing adaptive M suspension dampers, an additional front strut brace, an increased track width (26mm front, 12mm rear), increased negative camber at the front axle and additional rear axle reinforcement. Both models boast self-levelling rear air springs.

 

4-Focus – New vehicle innovations from Volvo, Suzuki, Nissan and MG

VOLVO’S ADVANCED AIR CLEANING (AAC)

As a real world-first, Volvo’s innovative air ionisation and filtration system allows occupants to breathe cleaner air and will even clean the cabin air prior to entry. No other carmaker analyses air quality down to PM 2.5 fine particulate contents as yet. Blueair’s 25 years proven system in office environments has been adapted for car use, which gives airborne pollutants an electrical charge that makes them ‘sticky,’ so instead of simply passing through, they stick like magnets to the cabin filter. Volvo claims that that 95% of ‘invisible’ cancer-causing PM 2.5 particulates are prevented from entering the interiors of its cars thus fitted.

Should the driver’s mobile phone be equipped with the relevant app, the driver can compare both in cabin and exterior atmospheric conditions, detected by sensors that determine whether a cleaning cycle is required, prior to making a journey. If air quality changes while driving, the HVAC system will close off outside air and recycle and refresh cabin air. In addition, materials used inside all new cars are known to give off esters and particulates, factors that Volvo has been seeking to reduce significantly in recent years in all of its models and they are also filtered out.

Volvo’s Advanced Air Cleaning (AAC) occupies no more space, or weight, than the original HVAC system and is a size-for-size filter replacement, with a connection to the car’s fuse box to power-up the ioniser and provide a status check on the car’s touchscreen. Although not tested as yet on Covid-19, it is said to remove 99.97% of airborne viruses and bacteria. Intriguingly, Blueair also offers the system as an aftermarket retrofit, distributed by CabinAir of Sweden.

SUZUKI IGNIS – NEW CVT

Suzuki, sometime holder of ‘leading UK value brand’ status, has just introduced its version of a Constantly Variable Transmission (CVT) to its sassy, 1.2-litre, four-cylinder, mild hybrid petrol-engined Ignis model. Reliable and relatively simple CVTs are known to help reduce CO2 emissions, when contrasted with manual gearbox cars. Consisting of a two-speed planetary gear set, an expanded range of six electronically managed step-off points creates a notional seven speed ranges, selected using steering wheel-located up and down paddles.

The torque converter is of a three element, single step and two-phase type, equipped with an automatic lock-up mechanism, which eliminates converter slippage, thereby increasing transmission efficiency, in D (Drive). The gearchange aspect consists of the planetary gear unit, both multiple plate clutch and brake discs, as well as the steel belt running between the primary and secondary pulleys. Using a high-pressure control device and a series of solenoids, accurate line pressure results and the changing distance between the pulleys avoids shift shock and provides seamless, constantly variable progress. For downhill gradients, the brake energy recovery system recharges the mild-hybrid battery (48v, located below front passenger seat) via the combined starter-alternator (ISG). As expected, the car’s stop:start technology is integrated fully with the CVT for smooth stops and restarts in D (Drive).

NISSAN – RELIEF PROVIDED WHERE RE-LEAF CAN OPERATE…

It is a sad fact of life that disasters occur as a result of natural, or man- instigated phenomena and power outages usually result. Yet, Nissan has been working extensively on a specially developed version of its Leaf EV that can provide a positive aid in the recovery process, its lithium-ion battery pack providing a dependable emergency supply of electricity for medical equipment, communications, lighting and other life support items. Known as RE-LEAF, its potential has been hailed as revolutionary by disaster management experts.

Access along debris strewn routes is achieved by raising the standard ride height (from 70 to 225mm), installing a protective underbody guard and fitting multi-surface tyres on forged alloy wheels. The rear seats have been removed to provide space for rescue equipment and a pull-out desk with 32-inch monitor. Yet, since the Nissan Leaf was launched, it has been equipped with a bi-directional charging ability; it can not only draw charge but also feed it back into the grid, or directly to charge other electric devices. Blessed with high reliability and a consistent supply of electricity a boot-located domestic socket is supported by a pair of weatherproofed external sockets, which can run a jack hammer, a ventilation fan, an ICU ventilator, a 100W floodlight, or other devices, for up to 24 hours. Since 2011, in Japan, the RE-LEAF has become a valuable disaster support medium and is a prime example of automotive technology providing further reaching human benefits.

MG5 – ‘KERS’… OR NOT

Some carmakers will resort to any means by which to make their latest models appear up to date on the money and more sophisticated than they really are. KERS, or Kinetic Energy Recovery System, was developed for F1 racing cars, as a means to recover energy such as that generated by braking, or deceleration, which might have been ‘lost’ otherwise.

The recovered heat energy can be stored in a battery, a supercapacitor, or even as mechanical energy in a flywheel, ready to be redeployed as a power boost subsequently. The latest MG5, which is an EV, is the first road-going vehicle to feature a KERS button in its centre console switch bank. While a Formula One car can store 111Wh in each circuit lap, which equates to an extra 82bhp and just over six seconds of deployment time, it is a different mechanical ideology to that of the MG5.

While the MG uses Brake Energy Recovery as a means to extend the usable charge available in its main rechargeable lithium ion battery pack, it is not intended as a means to boost power momentarily for greater acceleration. Depress the KERS button in an MG5 and it reveals three-stages of energy recovery, from light and medium to heavy. The latter setting will allow the driver to slow the car rapidly and reduce the need to use the brake pedal in normal driving conditions. However, as innovative as the all-electric, only estate car model MG wishes to be perceived, its KERS is not as technologically capable as in an F1 car, however ‘cute’ the terminology might be.

Sales of alternative fuel vehicles overtake diesel

33,000 pure electric and hybrid cars were registered between April and June, compared with 29,900 diesels, according to The Department for Transport. Research from Close Brothers Motor Finance finds that pre lockdown, a third of drivers planned to buy a green vehicle next, while petrol and diesel were seeing a downward drop in popularity.

Close Brothers Motor Finance’s research included a telephone survey of over 200 UK car dealers and a consumer survey of over 2,000 UK drivers, weighted to be nationally representative. It found that once purchased, car buyers do not switch back, with 93% of AFV owners admitting they’d buy another one again, compared with just one in ten buyers who said they would opt for a diesel car next. Although petrol remains the most popular choice of fuel type, it continues to see a downward drop year on year, from 42% to 37% of drivers planning to buy another. With a fifth planning on buying a hybrid car, and one in ten opting for electric. Environmental concerns are the leading reason why people would opt for an AFV (28%), followed by cheaper running costs.

Seán Kemple, Managing Director at Close Brothers Motor Finance, commented: “At the start of the year, it looked like the shift to AFVs would be one of the biggest trends for the motor industry in 2020. Ambitious targets set by the Government to achieve zero-emissions streets put the wheels in motion for a greener future. And the demand is clearly there too.

“But in recent months, the shift to electric has been deprioritised for car dealers as they were forced to shut down shop in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis. While the sector is bouncing back, dealers are now focused on getting buyers the keys to their next car and adapting to a very different retail environment. But the coming months are also an opportunity for the industry to build back better, a part of which will be building back, but greener. As people are continuing to turn away from public transport and look for alternative ways to travel, the car market is seeing a boost. Coupled with growing environmental consciousness and a looming diesel ban, demand for AFVs is likely to continue rising, and dealers have a chance to capitalise on this. Government support will also be vital in shaping the recovery of the sector and develop infrastructure to facilitate the shift the electric.”

SEAT unveils new e-Scooter concept

SEAT’s fully-electric e-Scooter concept has a compact design based on stylised geometric shapes. The final version of the motorcycle will ultimately be available to buy in 2020, and will be aimed at private users, shared services and fleets.

The e-Scooter concept is equipped with a 7kW motor with a peak rate of 11kW (14.8hp), equivalent to 125cc, which delivers instant engine torque of 240Nm with a top speed of 100km/h (62mph), enough to accelerate to 50 km/h (31mph) in just 3.8 seconds. Furthermore, its driving range on a single charge amounts to 115 kilometres (71 miles), according to WMTC test results.

The battery can be removed and easily charged at home or public charging stations at an estimated cost to all customers of only €0.70 for every 100 kilometres (62 miles) in continental Europe. In addition, the e-Scooter concept has enough storage space for two helmets beneath the seat. Users can track battery charge level and location via a mobile app.

The company has also unveiled a concept of its new generation e-Kickscooter. This new version features a range of up to 65km (40 miles), two independent brake systems and a much higher capacity battery that reaches 551Wh.

 

4 Focus – Innovative Technology – Jaguar, Renault, Kia, Falken

Iain Robertson takes a look at innovative technology in newer models…

JAGUAR – VIRTUAL REALITY IN-CAR 

It might be terrifying enough to have other road-users jumping out at you, while carrying out a test drive, but Jaguar is already working on the first application of Virtual Reality (3D technology) for its next-generation of head-up displays (HUD). Naturally, HUD is not new and the Land Rover arm of the company has already developed ‘virtual terrain’ technology using perimetric cameras to provide off-roaders with a virtual and augmented view of what lies ahead and just below the front axle, aspects that would normally dictate an external check first. However, Jaguar’s research is being carried out in conjunction with the Centre for Advanced Photonics and Electronics (CAPE) at Cambridge University. The intention is to develop a more immersive and safer driving experience that will match more closely real-life activities to make drivers react more speedily and naturally to hazards and prompts, when using the HUD (the graphic images of which are normally projected onto the lower section of windscreen). Perhaps more intriguing is the ‘split-screen’ technology that allows a front passenger but not the driver to view TV programmes on the car’s central touchscreen (nothing new) but 3D programmes can now be viewed without a need to wear special glasses. Both developments form part of Jaguar Land Rover’s ‘Smart Cabin’ vision for the future, applying technologies that combine to create personalised in-car spaces, with enhanced safety, entertainment and convenience central to an autonomous, shared plan. 

RENAULT – ZOE BECOMES MORE ECO-FRIENDLY 

One of the core issues residing around the ‘eco-friendly’ claims made by various carmakers for their latest electrified vehicle offerings, apart from electricity being sourced from coal, gas, or oil-fired power stations, is that CO2 emissions are still high in manufacturing terms. Therefore, it makes it difficult, when attempting to state a positive environmental contribution, when the ‘costs’ associated with EVs are steeper than for ICE alternatives. Carmakers have been slow to introduce trim fabrics produced from rapidly renewable plants. BMW has managed it with its i3, in using bamboo fibres to produce upholstery. Now, Renault has joined the 100% renewable set with its much- revised Zoe model. Using a special carding technique, without melting or chemical reconstruction, the industry first process uses old seatbelts and recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastics that are already regarded as being inert and safe, in what is known as ‘short-loop’ manufacturing. It is cost- effective and reduces emissions by around 60%, in contrast with conventional fabric production. Applied to dashboard, centre console, door cards and seating, the result is a very high-quality finish. However, on upmarket versions of the Zoe, which feature a leather-like fabric alongside the cloth, no animals have been sacrificed for the more luxurious appearance. Again, a similar process has resulted in the leatherette fabric, which breathes similarly to hide and is even more wear and stain resistant, as added bonuses. 

KIA – RESOLVING TRANSMISSION POWER LOSSES IN HYBRIDS 

While pre-emptive gearbox shift technology features in the Nissan Skyline GTR35, see New Car Focus on page 60, problems confronting manufacturers of hybrid vehicles are, firstly, the type of transmission being used, which tends to favour constantly variable, secondly, the speed of perceived ratio changes and, as an adjunct, the enjoyment factor for the driver. Kia, while not unique, uses a fairly conventional, twin-clutch, automated-manual gearbox in its hybrid models. Renowned for effecting race-quick and normally smooth gearchanges, you might not feel that further improvements can be made. However, Hyundai, Kia’s parent company, has now developed ASC (Active Shift Control), which applies control logic software (that monitors gearshift speeds 500 times a second) to the Hybrid Control Unit (HCU) electric motor that aligns the rotational speeds of both engine and gearbox, to reduce gearshift times from 500ms to 350ms and make the changes smoother too. Most hybrids do not feature torque converters, as they can be very inefficient. Using the ASC, Kia’s tests resulted in better acceleration, increased fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions, with the added benefit of increasing the longevity of the transmission, by minimising friction during each gearshift. The speedier gearshifts impart extra driver satisfaction. Once the test programme is completed, ASC will be introduced to all hybrid cars in Hyundai-Kia’s ranges. 

FALKEN – USING TYRES TO DEVELOP ENERGY 

School-time physics ensures that most people know that motion energy can be turned into another form of energy. Therefore, it is fascinating to learn that Falken Tyre, which is part of the enormous Sumitomo Rubber Industries conglomerate, has been working in close association with the Kansai University in Japan. While energy is required and used by both engine and transmission to turn road wheels, the tyres heat-up and static electricity builds-up. If the energy were harnessed, it might be  used to generate electricity efficiently, as the wheels turn. The result of the exercise is the Energy Harvester tyre. Within its carcass are two layers of rubber, each of which is covered in an electrode, along with a negatively charged film that interfaces with a positively charged film. When fixed to the inside of a conventional tyre carcass, it generates electricity as the tyre deforms during rotation. Falken’s engineers believe that the Energy Harvester could lead to practical applications, such as a power source for sensors used by TPMS (Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems), although it has to be noted that TPMS sensors are not especially power sapping, meaning that future development is needed for it to be of any practical use. Created as part of Sumitomo’s R&D programme to develop technologies that target improvements in safety and environmental performance, the Japan Science and Technology Agency (a national R&D body) has recognised it as a ‘seed project’ under A-STEP (a technology transfer programme). Sumitomo Rubber Industries will now advance its research with support from the Agency. 

 

4 Focus – Innovative Technology – Hyundai, Honda, Mazda & Suzuki

Ian Robertson takes a look at innovative technology in newer models.

HYUNDAI – CVVD TECHNOLOGY 

We have all heard about and worked on various ‘Constantly Variable’ aspects of valve-train technology but South Korean carmaker, Hyundai, still believes in the on-going viability of the ICE. It says that its Constantly Variable Valve Duration (CVVD) optimises engine performance, fuel efficiency and emissions. In essence, the system regulates the duration of intake valve opening and closing, according to driving conditions. It claims to increase power by 4%, with a 5% improvement in fuel economy, while reducing overall CO2 exhaust emissions by a significant 12%. While variable valve technology is far from new, Hyundai claims that CVVD takes it in a fresh direction, by adjusting the length of duration that an intake valve is open. It opens the intake valve from the middle to the end of the compression stroke, improving fuel efficiency by reducing the forces acting against the piston. At higher speeds, keeping the intake valve closed during the beginning of the compression stroke maximises the amount of air in the mix to create superior combustion, therefore increasing torque and improving acceleration. Later this year, Hyundai will launch the new petrol engine that features CVVD in 1.6-litre V4 form, with turbocharger and direct injection, in a new Sonata model. It develops a cool 180bhp and 195lbs ft of torque. The new unit also features 350bar fuel pressure, a new thermal management system to heat, or cool, the engine speedily and 34% lower friction parts. 

HONDA – A GROUND-UP COMPACT EV 

With hopes of managing expectations for its all new Honda e, as THE EV of choice for city dwellers, the Japanese carmaker has insisted on a ‘simplicity-first’ stance. Featuring a water-cooled 35.5kWh lithium ion high capacity battery pack, the Honda e can be charged using either a Type 2 AC connection or a CCS2 DC rapid charger, with an at-a-glance indication of charging status. The Honda e has a driving range of up to 125 miles, to underscore its urban mobility role. A rapid charger can restore up to 80% of its battery capacity from ‘empty’ within 30 minutes. The charge port is located beneath a small flap set into the bonnet’s leading edge, with an illuminated glazed panel for nocturnal charging. The full-width digital instrument panel inside the car also displays charging and usage rates. Set to be launched in two months’ time, its low and compact, mid-chassis battery location helps to provide it with a near perfect 50:50 weight distribution. Dedicated to providing balanced dynamics, the electrically driven rear axle ensures that the car’s steering responses are uncorrupted. However, featuring fairly conventional independent suspension, with many components produced from forged aluminium, the car has been gifted a fluent ride quality allied to a first-rate, responsive handling remit. A tight turning circle aids urban manoeuvrability. Although the car was revealed at Geneva earlier this year, it was also demonstrated at the recent Goodwood Festival of Speed and has attracted over 30,000 interested responses across Europe, with 9,000 from the UK. 

MAZDA – TAKING A LARGER CAPACITY ROUTE TO MANAGING FRUGALITY 

With its latest Mazda3 model, which boasts exceptional aerodynamics (0.21Cd), the Japanese company continues to exercise a larger ICE engine capacity with lower specific power outputs in both petrol and diesel forms. CO2 ratings and noxious emissions are the core issues. Rather than take the small engine/high power route of many of its rivals, an aspect leading them to revert to larger capacity
ICEs, due to future emissions requirements, Mazda has concentrated on‘Well-to-Wheel’(W2W) methodology, believing that current EV ratings of 0g/ km are disingenuous. It supports its contention by stating that its Skyactiv-G (petrol) and -D (diesel) units average out at 142g/km, while an equivalent EV might be around a true 124g/km, which suggests that a 10% improvement in efficiency would draw them into similar territory. Mazda believes that the ICE will have a major role to play beyond 2030. However, it is the firm’s Skyactiv-X engine development, featuring Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI) that combines the benefits of both spark and compression ignition technology, which is its most exciting development. Running 2-3 times leaner than today’s ICEs, conventional spark plugs alone cannot ignite the mixture. Mazda’s solution is to trigger both forms of combustion in different ways. By managing the spark, while compressing the mixture, using a new piston design, the combustion phase can be stabilised, made predictable and reliable, but both work seamlessly together, as dictated by load. SPCCI returns 20% greater fuel economy, while torque increases by 10-30%. 

SUZUKI – SMALL CAPACITY ENGINES WILL NOT MANAGE FUTURE CO2 CONTROLS 

For many years, the world’s best small car specialist was Fiat. Today that mantle is worn by Suzuki Cars. While the Japanese company’s design stance is a blend of pleasant and benign, its first-class engineering has seldom been drawn into question. The Vitara crossover model pictured is a good example of a market-leading 1.0-litre turbo-triple (109bhp) powered car that can boast 50mpg potential but, under WLTP rules, emits 153g/km in 2WD form (162g/km 4×4). Although road tax and (for business-users) Benefit-in-Kind taxation continue to use existing NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) laboratory ratings for both fuel economy and emissions, the change to WLTP (World Harmonised Light Vehicle Test
Procedure) ‘real world’ testing will occur within the next two years. As a result, Suzuki is now developing its naturally aspirated GDI DualJet, rather than the more recent BoosterJet turbo-petrol technology. The engine capacities will increase, although Suzuki is remaining tight-lipped on what size they will be. DualJet engines are a collaboration between Suzuki and Bosch and feature paired fuel injectors. Being positioned close to the combustion chamber, improved fuel atomisation, faster vaporisation and more efficient filling of the chamber are achieved. Like Mazda’s latest engines, a higher compression ratio (12.0:1) increases the speed that the flame passes through the mixture and it burns more efficiently. It has revised piston crown profiles, below piston cooling, an optimised water jacket and a revised EGR layout (to deal with NOx emissions) featuring integrated cooling to resolve abnormal combustion events such as misfiring, fuel issues and so on. 

Reader Letter: Does EV business pay?

“For the last 15 years, many have said that to continue as an independent, we should alienate much of our customer base and specialise in a certain area or marque. Well, we at Cleevely Motors are still busy and, although having to continually invest in equipment and training, we are still able to maintain most makes and models. 

“Looking to the near future though, what will become of the independent who can’t look after their customers who are changing over to a hybrid or EV? I took the commercial decision 18 months ago to start building an EV and Hybrid part of the business called Cleevely EV after purchasing a Nissan Leaf. After driving this new technology, I knew it would be the successor to our slow, expensive and inefficient combustion engines. We are already seeing our traditional customers transfer to alternative-fuelled vehicles and we can continue to look after them and retain their business. So, 18 months on, how is it going? Day to day we don’t see enough faults or jobs to survive as an EV-only business, however, work and enquiries are increasing, as many owners of these first generation of EVs are searching for somewhere more economical, than dealers, to maintain them. 

“Owning and using EVs daily is a key factor of the reputation we are building. EV customers tend to be very informed about their cars and very passionate about them – be warned, you won’t be able to baffle them with information about repairs! I haven’t yet experienced any hugely problematic jobs. We have replaced a Tesla on-board charge unit, which was diagnosed by Tesla remotely, and the customer came to us for the replacement to save costs. We have investigated faults that we have traced back to wiring, nothing more technical than you will see in your workshop. There are the obvious dangers of working with high voltage, but due to my training, I am fully aware of the necessary processes to keep myself and my colleagues safe. 

“You may have seen previous reports about our training facilities being used by Pro-Moto to train other technicians, or ‘the competition’. I have been asked, more than once, why I would want other garages doing the same thing as us? The answer is because I want all independents to continue and thrive. Electrified drivetrain adoption will grow and I believe it will grow faster if independents are qualified to maintain them and promote the benefits to their customer bases, or at least have the knowledge to answer questions about them. This is why I’m assisting the IMI with the TechSafe scheme and share my experience with the Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Repair Alliance, or HEVRA. Over the last 18 months, we have developed specialist parts, instructional videos and guides for any independent that wants to create their own EV section of the business. These are now available with the additional membership levels of HEVRA, including access to our stock of used EV and Tesla rental opportunities. I can’t recommend the benefits HEVRA membership has given us highly enough. We are regularly asked by EV owners up and down the country if we are going to franchise, but we see our involvement with HEVRA as a better opportunity to share the benefits with other independents, so we can all thrive. 

“So, am I happy I made the difficult commercial decision 18 months ago? The answer is most definitely, yes. I’m very proud of the Cleevely EV and Motors team for building the reputation we have within the EV community. It has involved a lot of dedication, weekend events and still requires constant social media promotion and involvement, but I know it is the right direction to go in. We aren’t stopping at what we have achieved so far either, there is more to come, but we are in the biggest change period our trade has ever seen, so why not keep changing?” 

Matt Cleevely, Cleevely Motors, Cheltenham. 

For EV and hybrid technical information, training and support, please contact: hello@hevra.org.uk. 

Thoroughly revamped Land Rover Discovery Sport addresses some issues

Nominated by Iain Robertson as his favourite model from JLR’s stable, the stalwart Disco Sport has been comprehensively revised for a new era, which is an essential exercise for a ‘go- anywhere’ car that has become a vital pillar in JLR’s overall line-up. With optimised proportions that project a more striking visual appeal, featuring another set of new signature LED lamps at the front and rear, alongside an updated front grille and bumpers, the top-selling Discovery Sport (over 100,000 have found largely satisfied homes in the past three years) should help Land Rover to draw-up its socks with confidence. 

Having posted its worst annual losses ever (£2.5bn, May 2019), every future move by the company must be carefully measured. To do so, the new Disco Sport variant features a raft of technological changes that start with the drivetrain. 

Personal preferences can be dialled into chassis settings.

ELECTRIFICATION

Despite looking broadly similar, the new body, which is based on the company’s new ‘Premium Transverse Architecture’ (PTA), is 13% stiffer but 8% lighter than its predecessor and, together with rigidly mounted subframes that reduce noise, vibration and harshness into the cabin, it has been designed with electrification in mind, starting with a new 48-volt mild hybrid (MHEV) powertrain on Discovery Sport. As introduced on the current Range Rover Evoque, the system uses an engine- mounted, belt-integrated starter generator to harvest energy lost normally during deceleration and to store it in the under- floor battery. Although the system is always ‘on’, at speeds below 11mph, the engine shuts off, when the driver applies the brakes, before redeploying the stored energy to assist the engine under acceleration resulting in a minor power boost and a discernible (up to 6%) reduction in fuel consumption. 

New electronics for dashboard are totally configurable.

Land Rover informs us that an all-new, three-cylinder (1.5-litre, 110bhp) variant of the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder Ingenium petrol engine will power a plug-in hybrid model by the end of 2019 but the details are being kept close to JLR’s corporate chest at present. Although ‘low-cal’ versions of its existing transverse engine line-up remain as the primary motive force, a new entry-level turbo-diesel model (D150) that drives the front wheels only through a six-speed manual gearbox develops 147bhp, emits 140g/km CO2 and attains up to 47.8mpg (official combined WLTP figure). It is of non-hybrid type. However, in an attempt to maximise efficiency on both D180 and D240 turbo-diesel and P200 and P250 petrol-turbo engines, the All-Wheel Drive (AWD) variants benefit from Driveline Disconnect, which is a power transfer unit at the front axle that disconnects drive to the rear wheels, using an electro- magnetic clutch, under steady state cruising, thereby reducing frictional losses but with the capacity to re-engage AWD in less than 500 milliseconds, when required. 

Available across the range of four-cylinder engines, the mild hybrid delivers emissions from as low as 144g/km CO2 and fuel economy up to 40.9mpg (WLTP). Customers are being assured that the latest diesel engines available on the Disco Sport are both cleaner and more efficient than ever (six months ahead of RDE2 standards being introduced in early-2020). At the other end of the scale, the 249bhp alternative in AWD petrol-automatic (9-speed) form delivers 269lbs ft of torque and can blast from 0-60mph in a brisk 7.1s. JLR has pledged to introduce an electrified version of every model it launches from 2020, as a lack of them is said to have affected its business negatively in recent years. 

CONNECTIVITY

Land Rover has been addressing the reported unreliability of its electronic packages; a situation that has arisen from using different suppliers, with the individual hardware not relating with the core architecture. In pursuit of perceived high quality, the digital Touch Pro infotainment system, which has featured as a major revision on recent Jaguar and Range Rover models, is said to be linked more competently. The system recognises all of the latest smartphone and iPod syncing potential, to provide instant connectivity. 

The company has been extolling the application of ‘wearable technology’, with the extra-cost option of Land Rover’s Activity Key. With the actual key-fob secured within the car, once the final door has been closed, you waggle the ‘Fitbit’-like wrist- strap at the Land Rover logo on the hatchback door and the familiar lamps-flash and accompanying locking sound notifies you that the car is safe and secure. It is equally easy to unlock it. 

Designed to meet the digital demands of a typical modern family, as well as an array of connectivity and electronic driver aids, the latest Discovery Sport is also available with a ‘smart rear-view mirror’ that transforms into a video screen, at the flick of a switch, to display what is behind the vehicle in crisp high definition. Should the boot be loaded fully to the roofline, the rear-view is managed by a hatch-mounted exterior camera connected directly to the rear-view mirror in the same perspective. 

VERSATILITY

New seats have been fitted across each of the three rows to provide improved comfort and versatility, aided by the second row’s 40:20:40 split-fold and slide functionality. Improved small item stowage across all rows, using pockets and trim slots, enhances the levels of practicality. 

Terrain Response 2, the company’s electronically managed 4×4 system, is now available on the new Discovery Sport. Not only does it allow drivers to choose from four dial-in surface modes (comfort, sand, grass-gravel-snow, mud and ruts), in order to optimise performance and traction levels, the new ‘Auto’ mode enables the most appropriate setting for prevailing conditions and adjusts the engine’s torque delivery automatically to suit the terrain. When paired with Adaptive Dynamics, which is Land Rover-speak for a semi-active damper control system, an additional ‘Dynamic’ setting also delivers a sportier driving experience.

In fact, the latest Discovery Sport comes with a number of additional all-terrain technologies that have been pioneered by Land Rover, with Hill Descent Control and All-Terrain Progress Control available as standard on all-wheel drive models. Optional ClearSight Ground View, a realisation of Land Rover’s transparent bonnet concept seen originally in 2014, provides a virtual 180-degree view using tiny cameras beneath the front of the vehicle, which is useful when tackling uneven terrain, or even assisting with tight city centre parking spaces, further aiding its versatility. The top models also feature Active Driveline, which is an electronic torque vectoring system that balances the engine output across both front and rear axles when cornering, to improve both grip levels and steering responses. 

The Sport has been refined to cope with challenging off- road terrain, thanks to a ground clearance of 212mm and excellent approach, departure and breakover angles of 25, 30 and 20 degrees respectively. The four-wheel drive versions can cope with gradients of up to 45 degrees. However, the Disco has always been a superior towing machine and, while the maximum towing capacity remains at 2,500kg, it has been improved with optional Advanced Tow Assist, which is pioneering and incorporates semi-autonomous driving technology (self-parking) to allow the driver to concentrate on steering the trailer, while letting the car guide itself. The driver would use the touchscreen for visual guidance and one of the lower rotary dials to ‘steer’ the trailer, as such it removes the need to counter-steer the vehicle while manoeuvring. 

Summary: Available in Discovery Sport, S, SE and HSE trim, in addition to the R-Dynamic variants that feature sportier bumpers, and a 20% increase in fuel tank capacity (up to 67.0-litres), the various changes made to the Discovery Sport are said to resolve the ‘teething problems’ evident on the outgoing models. Prices start at £31,575, rising to £49,675 for the all-singing-and-dancing top diesel variant. 

Hot on the news that JLR has posted its worst annual figures ever, the company truly needs Discovery Sport to score positively on every level. As a right-sized, practical and well-packaged SUV, this model can help with the essential turnaround that the company needs so desperately.