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Automotive Technology

The Automotive Technology Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about electrical/electronic components, materials, design & assembly, and powertrain systems. Here, you'll find everything from application ideas, to news and industry trends, to hot topics and cutting edge innovations.

Getting the Grid into the Driver's Seat

Posted August 26, 2015 8:51 AM by IHS Engineering360 eNewsletter

The power industry is facing a tough dilemma when it comes to charging electric cars. On one hand, lots of consumers need to first invest in electric cars in order to justify the cost of implementing new charging system infrastructure. But, consumers aren't going to spend that money until car-charging is convenient. So how does industry best address infrastructure needs and reassure consumers in order to kick-start electric car adoption worldwide?Renewable Energy Focuslooks at some of the projects currently underway, but in this two-part series also stresses what changes need to happen first.

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4 comments; last comment on 08/27/2015
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Car Tech that Combats Drunk Driving

Posted August 14, 2015 5:00 AM by cheme_wordsmithy

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drunk driving was involved in 31% of all fatal car crashes in 2013. Roughly 10,000 die each year in drunken-driving related accidents. Despite all the statistics, warnings, and harsh punishments for driving while impaired (DWI) and driving under the influence (DUI), every day people still make the choice to drive after drinking too much, and put themselves and others in danger. As with other safety concerns, researchers are always looking for technology's help to minimize the risk of DWIs and DUIs.

One form of technology in use today is the ignition interlock. Ignition interlocks are sometimes mandated for past DUI offenders and on rare occasions have been used voluntarily by concerned parents or others seeking driver accountability. The devices basically utilize a breathalyzer that integrates with the car's ignition. The driver must blow into the breathalyzer in order to start the car; if his blood alcohol content (BAC) is above a pre-determined level, the car will not start. The device will also request additional breaths at random times while driving to prevent the driver from deciding to drink after starting the car (if the driver is caught, the vehicle gives a warning and time to pull over before the car shuts off). BAC and operating information is monitored and can be reviewed by the judge, parent, etc. For DWIers or unruly teenagers, this device can be a good accountability tool, and in many U.S. states it is a requirement for first-time DUI offenders

While effective, ignition interlocks would not work well for the everyday driver. If you think about it, who really wants to have to blow into a tube in order to start their car? If we could remove the intrusiveness of the technology, the benefits would be worth considering. That's what the NHTSA and Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS) have been working on since 2008, and it's called the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS). [Yes, this industry loves their acronyms... bear with me].

Like an ignition interlock, the DADSS uses sensors (in this case both breath and touch) to determine the user's BAC and regulate ignition accordingly. The difference is that DADSS does the work passively: sensors on the ignition switch would screen for alcohol on the skin's surface using infrared light, and sensors in front of the driver would measure BAC from his/her breath. These sensors are able to read and trip very quickly, so it does not inconvenience the driver in any way. And the price for the modification to new cars would be $150 to $200 currently, which is not a bad price, all things considered. On these items alone, it seems like an easy win for safety.

Unfortunately, there are many other factors that need to be considered. For instance, can we be sure the technology is reliable enough not to fail during the life of the car, or will it add to the list of possible points of failure in the vehicle? What about emergencies (confrontations, medical issues, and the like) where someone had a couple drinks beforehand but needed their car to start fast -- can we excuse those instances in the name of safety? What about the slippery slope of privacy, assuming the data can (and if it can it will) be recorded -- would we be OK if it became linked to our insurance rates, driving history, or vehicle inspections?

This is an engineering forum, and I write this post because I am intrigued by the technology that we have available today, particularly the computing power in our vehicles and the ways that capability is opening doors (albeit closing others for the traditional car enthusiasts). The DADSS is one of those doors. But as with all new tech, we must look at not just the "Can we?" but the "Should we?" and the "How?". These are the questions worth asking, ones I hope the community asks as this effort develops.


22 comments; last comment on 08/19/2015
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Trend Analysis Yields Design Payoffs

Posted August 13, 2015 12:00 AM by IHS Engineering360 eNewsletter

With Chorus 2015, engineers can take data from thousands of simulations to determine trends within their design space (see video). The latest release provides color filtration in the 2D scatter plots that represent the product's design space. Result: enhanced visualization and better understanding of the effects of constraints within the 2D scatter plots, which can lead to lighter, stronger, and more efficient designs. For more on Chorus, see this automotive case study.

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Green Proposal for Automotive Manufacturing

Posted July 31, 2015 12:00 AM by IHS Engineering360 eNewsletter

While electric or hybrid propulsion reduces a vehicle's carbon footprint, vehicle and fuel manufacturing processes must also be addressed to build a better environment. One company suggests a two-step approach to greening the automotive industry. First, "dematerialize" the vehicle by reducing the amount of material needed. Second, "democratize" the manufacturing process by replacing large, centralized automobile plants with local "microfactories." Learn how 3D printing could play a role in both steps.

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2 comments; last comment on 08/03/2015
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IHS Introduces New PEV Index

Posted July 27, 2015 8:32 AM by joekroog

The sails of electric vehicles have caught a warm breeze. The accelerating growth of this segment from special tax incentives, stricter regulations, and significant country incentives is under close watchful eye by the IHS Automotive team. And hitting the market just at the right time, IHS has recently introduced the IHS Automotive Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV) Index.

The IHS Automotive PEV Index is a quarterly ranking of the top EV/PHEV countries and provides insights into market drivers of market share and quarterly changes in volume. Not surprising to anyone, Norway continues to lead adoption with PEV market share exceeding 30% of new vehicle registrations. One local individual said that amongst the incentives, fuel prices and the economy for PEVs says it all about Norway. The US continues to lead in total volume of PEV registrations, trailed closely by China, and to little surprise given price point and sleek design of the Tesla Model S, it has become the dominant brand in the US.

A notable surprise to me was the rapid growth of 392% in the United Kingdom; but it totally makes sense given the latest grants that discount car and van electric vehicles purchase by up to 35% and other grants for creating the infrastructure and putting charging stations on the street. Late last year I visited Milton Keynes and saw some of this infrastructure being developed and only recently heard that it's going to be a planned site for further testing of autonomous vehicles, too.

Interested in finding out which PEV is the most popular in each country? Download the insight-rich infographic from IHS Automotive or go one step further and check out the eMobility Sample Report on The Netherlands.

2 comments; last comment on 07/30/2015
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Renewed Pursuit of the All-plastic Auto Engine

Posted July 16, 2015 12:00 AM by IHS Engineering360 eNewsletter

Shaving 100 lbs or more from an auto engine, a great idea. The fastest way to cut that much weight? The all-plastic auto engine. Unfortunately that concept, pursued since the 1980s, is still struggling to reach reality. Among the first plastic motors was the Polimotor, built for Ford, but never installed in a vehicle. Now, the Polimotor's original designer, Matt Holzberg and several plastics companies are racing to develop the Polimotor2, in time to power a race car competitively next year in Connecticut. Leading the charge is Solvay, which is providing seven high-performing thermoplastic materials to replace metal engine components.

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2 comments; last comment on 08/03/2015
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