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Local News / Automotive

Tuesday, 19 April, 2011 6:59 PM

New vehicle technologies introduced at 2011 SAE World Congress in Detroit


General Motors EN-V (Electric Networked-Vehicle) is a 2-seat urban electric concept car developed by General Motors that can be driven normally or operated autonomously.

by Jason Rzucidlo



DETROIT -- The 2011 SAE World Congress was held on April 12, 13 and 14 at Detroit's Cobo Center. The annual conference included technical sessions, panel discussions, exhibitors, a career fair, a ride-and-drive and keynote speakers. The World Congress offered a preview of technologies that will be offered in the vehicles of tomorrow. The focus was on improving fuel economy and preparing for more electric vehicles.

One of the most popular features of the event was the Career Fair. With so many people out of work, it was mentioned on all of the TV newscasts in the Motor City. The career fair took place on Tuesday and Wednesday in the lobby of Cobo Center. Engineering is one of the top careers right now that needs new workers. There was also a resume clinic and a career development session.

LG Chem Power Inc. has introduced the Residential Energy Storage Unit. Each unit will provide 10 kWh of energy, which can assist in reducing peak power usage by up to 4 kW. Southern California Edison has teamed up with LG Chem for a pilot program.

"This has lithium ion polymer batteries similar to those in the Chevrolet Volt," said Kevin Fok, Sales Manager at LG Chem Power Inc. "In addition to storing energy, this provides a complete system for managing your home energy use. You're able to plug in your solar rooftop array, you're able to control all of your smart appliances--washers, dryers, refrigerators so you have backup power capability as well. You have the inverter converting the solar power to usable electricity. The larger unit provides 4 kW of power while the smaller unit provides 2 kW of power."

General Motors showed off it's new urban mobility vehicle known as the EN-V. It was on display at the 2011 North American International Auto Show in January. It features four DC motors and two Segway motors underneath. The EN-V was designed to run in the World Expo in Shanghai, China in 2010.

"These vehicles have done their tour of duty in that venue," said Thomas Brown, Vehicle Systems Build & Testing Supervisor at the GM Tech Center in Warren. "They ran for six months straight between May 1 and October 31. We built these to demonstrate V2V technologies (vehicle-to-vehicle), V2I technologies (vehicle-to-infrastructure) and also to demonstrate the ability to run autonomously. It's running on a chassis that GM contracted with Segway to develop for us. The vehicle can operate at 25 mph and it can run for about 25 miles. It can take anywhere between two hours and six hours to recharge."

Genovation Cars Inc. revealed a quarter-scale model of its upcoming G2 plug-in electric car. It was located within the Tata Technologies exhibit. Tata serves as the prime contractor on the design and development of the G2. The G2 will be built and sold within the United States.

"This is a ground-up vehicle that we designed," said Andrew Saul, CEO of Genovation Cars Inc. "We hired Tata Technologies to help us with the design. They contracted some of the two other companies. We're going to have two versions of this vehicle--a battery electric vehicle that will be good for about 100 miles range with all of the accessories turned on. Then, we will have another vehicle with a smaller battery pack and a range extender. That vehicle with a full charge on the battery pack will be good for about a 50-mile range on electric only and the range extender will add another 300 miles so 350 miles total range."

IAV Automotive Engineering Inc. introduced its new universal control unit at the World Congress. It is used for testing batteries for electric vehicles without requiring an automaker to produce the actual vehicle. IAV Inc. also showed off a switchable cam lobe system.

"The universal control unit is a generic electronic control unit that we use for developing new products and control systems for vehicles," said Joseph J. Lemieux, Business Director of Energy Management at IAV Automotive Engineering Inc. "This systems allows us to quickly create a prototype and test whether a particular battery type or a supplier's battery or a particular motor works well within the car without having to create an actual production controller, which can take up to a year to create your first one. We can do it within hours have something hooked up."

Hyundai debuted its new ix FCEV (fuel cell electric vehicle) based on its popular Tucson. It is is equipped with its newest 100-kilowatt fuel cell system and two hydrogen storage cylinders (700bar) to deliver a substantial improvement in fuel efficiency. The Tucson ix FCEV can travel more than 400 miles on a single fueling, a 76-percent improvement over its predecessor, and a range equal to a gasoline-powered car.

"This fuel cell electric vehicle is powered by pure hydrogen," said Jonngeon-Yi, Engineer of EcoTech Planning Team at Hyundai. "It can drive for one charge, 426 miles. That is our benefit. We can refuel the hydrogen, it takes three to five minutes. There is no engine. It is a fuel cell system and in the center of the car is the fuel cell stack. Our aim is $50,000. We can make in three or four years. It has long range compared to EV. We will develop the best fuel cell car. We will make some environmentally-friendly vehicles."

TI Automotive introduced its new battery cooling systems for electric vehicles and HVAC cooling systems for gasoline or electric vehicles. TI Automotive also showcased parts for exhaust treatment to improve emissions for diesel vehicles. The challenge for a lot of suppliers is to keep the noise down on hybrid and EVs.

"The key thing this year is we're highlighting the key megatrends within the industry--fuel efficiency, environmental improvement," said Frank Buscemi, Global Director of Marketing and Communications at TI Automotive. "All of the technologies here are high-end innovations for fluid systems technology within the vehicle. Behind me are battery cooling loops for electric vehicles that basically circulate fluid through the battery system to keep it cool. It's a technology that's beginning to move into the industry very rapidly with the advent of hybrids, electric vehicles."

EcoCAR 2 is a three-year collegiate engineering competition and the only program of its kind established by the U.S. Department of Energy and GM. The mission of EcoCAR 2 is to educate the next generation of automotive engineers through an unparalleled hands-on, real-world engineering experience. The competition challenges 16 North American universities (including Wayne State University) to reduce the environmental impact of vehicles without compromising performance, safety and consumer acceptability.

"Each of the 16 universities are going to be given the same vehicle platform, which is a Chevrolet Malibu," said Vincent J. Sabatini, Technical Support Engineer at dSPACE Inc. "They are going to re-engineer that vehicle by taking out the engine, putting in a more efficient engine, putting fuel cell technology in, putting electric components in like a high-voltage battery, lithium ion battery pack or electric motors to increase the fuel efficiency of the vehicle. Yes, there is prizes for the universities. Students get the real-world experience, they're working with industry partners and sponsors of the competition."

The inaugural Fuel Cell Olympics competition and awards ceremony were held on Thursday morning. The event featured SAE International’s AWIM curriculum, and revolved around student teams building small car models that use hydrogen fuel cells. Students were able to compete in a variety of events with these cars. The Fuel Cell Olympics were sponsored by the GM Foundation.

"Today's event was a culminating event of six weeks of work the kids have put on and actually building fuel cell vehicles in the classrooms," said Matthew M. Miller, Director of the SAE Foundation & Pre-Professional Programs. "They came here today, about 150 students to compete against each other in categories like distance, accuracy, time and weight-carry ability. We're very fortunate to have a very strong supporter in the GM Foundation. The GM Foundation has funded the development of the fuel cell curriculum. Standard materials, all of the students were running on a level playing field."

In addition to the exhibitors and the technical sessions, a Ride-and-Drive activity was offered on all three days of the conference. All registered attendees were invited to go on a test drive of a new vehicle along with an engineer from the automaker. General Motors, Nissan, Ford, Honda, Protean Electric and Robert Bosch all brought vehicles to participate in the Ride-and-Drive. The longest lines were at the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan LEAF.

For more information about the SAE World Congress, visit

Related Story: 93 MPGe Chevrolet Volt highlighted at SAE Detroit Section Meeting



TI Automotive develops, manufactures and supplies automotive fluid storage, carrying and delivery systems.



A model of the Genovation G2 plug-in electric car.



An attendee checks out both models of the new Residential Energy Storage Unit (RESU).



EcoCAR 2 participants will use a Chevrolet Malibu, donated by General Motors, as the basis for their entries in the three-year engineering competition.


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