The motor vehicle is at the cusp of being transformed by two threads of technology advancement. One is electrification, replacing gasoline and other liquid fuels with the direct use of electrons, enabling cars to plug in for some or all of their power. The other is intelligence, relieving humans of the error-prone task of driving through the connectivity, sensing and increasing automation, leading to vehicles that will one day drive themselves.
Officials from the U.S. Department of Energy, China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, faculty and students from the University of Michigan- led Clean Energy Research Center- Clean Vehicle Consortium (CERC-CVC) and industry partners met in Ann Arbor on August 11th and 12th to review progress on the initiative's joint clean vehicle energy research projects.
Carrie Morton, a member of the Energy Institute team since 2011, is leaving the Institute to join the University’s new Mobility Transformation Center (MTC) as Managing Director. The MTC is a public/private R&D partnership formed to develop the foundations of a commercially viable ecosystem of connected and automated vehicles that will dramatically improve transportation safety, sustainability, and accessibility. The Energy Institute is a partner supporter of the MTC.
Frank Markus of Motor Trend magazine explains why every carbon molecule in a liquid biofuel, such as ethanol or biodiesel, can't be counted "as an ecological freebie." He reports on the debate about the Renewable Fuel Standard that took place during a panel discussion at this year's Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Government-Industry Meeting in Washington, DC.
Fuel economy must improve 57 percent in order for light-duty vehicles to match the current energy efficiency of commercial airline flights, says a University of Michigan researcher.
Michael Sivak, a research professor at the U-M Transportation Research Institute, examined recent trends in the amount of energy needed to transport a person a given distance in a light-duty vehicle (cars, SUVs, pickups and vans) or on a scheduled airline flight. His analysis measured BTU per person mile from 1970 to 2010.
Autonomous "robot" vehicles that can drive themselves hold great promise for transforming transportation systems across the world. Part of their appeal is the potential to greatly improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions. Not so fast, notes Bradley Berman in a critical piece on ReadWriteDrive, where he quotes Energy Institute research professor John DeCicco's admonition that technology "doesn't save us from ourselves."
Based on results from his recent study, the Energy Institute’s John DeCicco has authored an article for Yale’s Environment 360 blog. This thought-provoking piece opens:
Every U.S. president since Ronald Reagan has backed programs to develop alternative transportation fuels. But there are better ways to foster energy independence and reduce greenhouse gas emissions than using subsidies and mandates to promote politically favored fuels.
More and more plug-in electric vehicles are hitting the roads each year, but is the technology really close to a tipping point for mass-market growth? In this analysis piece for the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), U-M Energy Institute research professor John DeCicco argues that the real turning point for EVs will come only after transportation systems are automated for driverless operation. Read the article here at Automotive Engineering International Online.
Since 2005, the United States has embarked on a steady expansion of renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, widely touted as a win-win proposition for energy security and the environment. However, the promised breakthroughs in biofuel technology have greatly lagged the rapid ramp-up of production mandated by Congress while adverse side effects of the policy have become ever more clear.
With the backing of 13 car companies, the United Auto Workers and other parties, the Obama Administration announced the biggest step forward on auto efficiency in over a generation. The new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations just finalized target the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent of 54.5 mpg by model year 2025, double the efficiency of this year's vehicle fleet.
Building on the Bush Administration's 2007 proposal to raise automotive fuel economy by up to four percent per year, the Obama Administration is now considering regulations that might target a doubling of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards by 2025. But just how much can the efficiency of cars and light trucks be improved, and at what cost?