2011 CAR MBS Day 2 addresses Advanced Powertrains session

Six speakers from the auto industry will address the 2011 CAR Seminars with a key session call ed Advanced Powertrains Forum.

With a group of strong engineering expertise at Day 2 of the 2011 MBS, the forum will include Ken Davis (Eaton); Charlie Klein GM); Dan Knapp (Ford); Douglas Patton (Densi International America); Justin Ward (Toyota) and Mike Donoughe (Bright Automotive).

Theme ior the forum is, planning in an uncertain market. It will be interesting to see if anyone addresses the split cycle engine technology at all as well as the external combustion engine,

Up first is Ken Davis, Pres of the Americas, Vehicle Group, Eaton Corporation. His key words are " doing it right." In this case, the emphasis is on performance and efficiency boosting using superchargers. Just chnaging the angle of blades can increase peak efficiency range; so it's just not about speed perrfmance anymore. Think downsize but not down power of engines anymore, and use less fuel.

Plus doing it right is not just some cute words, but a slogan for success.

Charlie Klein, Director, Global Mass, Energy and Aerodynamics, General Motors Company (NYSE: GM) is up next. The key message that sticks out here is that global auto use is outstrripping our ability to supply the needed energy to empower them. Furthermore, all global standards are different which contributes to the complexity; that is, until 2020 where they seem to diverge.

For sure, 30 mpg doesn't cut it anymore; and the 40 mpg club is getting crowded. So, we now have a diversity of technolocal solutions vying for that next mpg level. Question is, where are we going? GM prefers to focus on fundamental benefits, but mechanical losses are still there to solve.for engineers to solve.

While there are great gains using turbos, direct injection, the simple fact is, electrification cuts across all solutions as contributing a solution. Interesting to note that GM failed to say much about its HCCI technology; so a split cycle does not seem to be in their talking points at this time either. So much for advanced propulsion forums, but this author is not surprised.

Up next is Dan Kapp of Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F). Solutions, he says, varies by region. The challenege is driving innovation in a cost-effective manner.. Future climate and global energy legislation is key.

Major product actions are required, though, to meet aggressive CO2 and fuel economy regulations. Imbedded in these solutions are alternate fuels. Ford thus developed its technology migration plan, which matches the CO2 target with the appropriate technology. Point is, every element of the car plays a role, such as aero, tires, weight, etc.

EcoBoost proves Ford owners do not have to live with less power; meraning no compromise in performance. Evolving witht he technology is the downsizing, as well as operation just below the knock level. He did, however, mention Miller Cycle technologies without saying split cycle.

As with GM, electrification is complementary. Most important part of electrification is driving cost down, So, that is why the Ford drive to get economies of scale using the global C-platform. The forecast is 20-25 percent of the total volume to be electrified, but the IC engine is still expected to be here.

Doug Patton, Senior VP, Engineering Div., DENSO International America, Inc. is next. DENSIO is one of two largest suppliers in the world. The company plays in all areas of the car; thus all areas affect powertrain.

Just heard that ammonia is a potential ffuture fuel. Who knew? Point is, the solutions are often beyond just powertrain; meaning, a whole systems approach is required. Collaboration is thus key.

Regarding long-term electrification, system components efficiencies are required to contribute to the whole solution, so to speak. Batteries are one element, but how do you manage them? What about their heat? It's as imporatant as the batery itself. it's about cost-value.

Mini-electrification means stop-start technology. it ranges from a heavy duty starter motor system to become"change of mind" capable. The next level is total shut-off and restart; and the public will have to learn to accept this. Start-restart time is crucial facotr. Noise, vibration and harshness play into market perception. Public will also have to accept that a highway driver should probably drive a diesel.

80 percent of engines by 2020 will likely be turbo-charged, even with advanced combustions like HCCI. Still, no mention by DENSO of split-cycle technology, though. Why? Public needs affordable as well as appealing vehicles.

Coffee Break Time! Stay tuned for forum updates as each speaker 's message arises. Also, I will be meeting with Altair and Achates Power for separate interviews after the Q/A session of the forum.

Back to the Forum

Just watched special presentation on Michigan Solar Car by students of University of Michigan, It is considered right now the ultimate electric vehicle., and attempting to win the Solar Challenge. Next car is 320 pounds not counting the driver; that's less than 500 pounds total. Emphasis includes Smart Energy Management techniques. as well as vehicle telemetry.

Next speaker is Justin Ward, Advanced Powertrain Program Manager, Advanced Powertian (APT) Toyota Tech Center. He addressed Toyota's fuel cell program. Bottom line is, hydrogen is a strong candidate of energy for future vehicles; and that future is coming up fast as Toyota will have a vehicle by 2015.

Furthermore, Japan will have 500 hydrogen stations by 2015, 1,000 by 2025, and 5,000 by 2030. In america, expect focus to be in California and New York. What, no Detroit?

Final speaker is Mike Donohue, CEO, Bright Automotive. It is surprising to to see a supplier like Bright taking a proactive role in auto development rather than just waiting for the OEMs to take a position.

Torque News Assessment

The OEMs like Ford and GM did not reveal much about their direction, except in general ways. Truth is, I do not think they really know. For example, Ford will not commit to diesels until it sees a business case, as American drivers have not favored diesels as they do in Europe. At least gM is testing the diesel case with the Chevy Cruze.

On the other hand, I found Toyota committing to hydrogen in a big way. Keep in mind that Toyota was behind GM at one point. Now they target 2015 for a vehicle in Japan, including the start of a serious infrastructure.

At least the panel host brought my submited question to the forum's Q & A. Unfortunately, all of them dodged the split cycle engine as being in the category of "advanced powertrain tech." In fact, I only heard the terms Miller Cycle once; and that was disappointing.

In my opinion, the OEMs know they need these advance technologies for engines, but do not know which direction to really choose. They are uncertian; and that is what I will address in a future article.

Tomorrow, Marchionne will speak, but I choose to spend the rest of my time here with my wife and my family. Besides, these are briefings; and as such will never reveal the full details all of us want to know.

About the Reporter: After 39 years in the auto industry as a design engineer, Frank Sherosky now trades stocks, futures and writes articles, books and ebooks like, "Perfecting Corporate Character," "Awaken Your Speculator Mind", and "Millennial World Order" via authorfrank.com. He may be contacted here by email: [email protected]
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