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Are Electric Vehicles the next bubble?

The 1841 book, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles MacKay, describes a variety manias and bubbles throughout history and is still considered by many to be important in the study of social psychology and psychopathology.  Will a future edition include a chapter on electric cars? Will Telsa’s peak market capitalization of over $37 billion (as of 9/12/2014) be compared to the peak of the Dutch tulip mania, where a single tulip bulb sold for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled carpenter

“We find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object, and go mad in its pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion, and run after it, till their attention is caught by some new folly more captivating than the first.” – Charles Mackay

 

In a recent speech at the North American International Auto Show, Tesla CEO Elon Musk defended electric cars, saying, “electric motors were ‘fundamentally’ better than gasoline engines in terms of efficiency.” I am not sure what Mr. Musk meant, but let’s look at some figures. Continue reading

The Achates Power Engine: A Game Changer for the Truck Industry?

As Americans are finding out that modern diesel engines are among the cleanest and most sustainable propulsion systems available in the market today, diesel engines are gaining momentum in the US.  In Europe more than 50% of passenger cars and almost 100% of light commercial vehicles are powered by state-of-the-art clean, diesel engines.  As the US press and customers start to understand the diesel engine’s advantage of delivering a great driving experience combined with outstanding fuel economy, automakers are expecting a significant rise in sales for diesel powered vehicles. Continue reading

What Makes A “Best Competitor” in the Green Car Space?

Yesterday, The Green Car Reports, published an article called “Plug-In Hybrids Are The Best Competitors To Fuel-Cell Vehicles: Here’s Why.” This immediately grabbed my attention and the article made some interesting points, but also got me thinking. What is the true definition of  “Best Competitors” in this space?

The Green Car Reports article seems to focus on vehicles that are easier to use (long driving range between refueling stops and short refueling stops at refueling stations that are already available), so it takes a functional view of the products on offer or that will be offered, but it doesn’t take into account cost, price or any other financial/economic measure.  That’s missing the mark (at least in the real world). Continue reading

Diesel: The Alternative Fuel

In an age where the national news is dominated by reports on rising fuel costs and greenhouse gas regulations, consumers are aware of the different alternative fuels that promise to save money at the pump and reduce tailpipe emissions.  These fuels—such as natural gas, ethanol, biodiesel, and hydrogen—are designed to decrease the carbon footprint of vehicles; market penetration, however, has been slower than expected. Ultimately, a significant reduction in fuel costs and carbon emissions will not be realized by a new fuel type alone, but rather by a better internal combustion engine that substantially increases the efficiency of our vehicles. Continue reading

Advanced Combustion and the Achates Power Engine

Last month, I had the opportunity to organize and co-chair a technical session at SAE World Congress on efficiency and emissions in compression-ignition combustion. In my session as well as several others, there were a number of papers focused on advanced combustion concepts aimed at simultaneously controlling emissions and improving engine efficiency. This is not surprising as we head towards CAFE regulations for on-highway applications and, likewise, strict emissions standards for industrial power generation and marine applications. At this year’s World Congress as well as over the past few years, there has been a surge in the R&D activity of universities, research institutes and OEMs to accelerate the evaluation and development of advanced combustion regimes. Continue reading

Revolutionizing Vehicle Transportation

Last week, I had the privilege of presenting our light-duty diesel engine’s latest performance and emissions results at the SAE High Efficiency IC Engine Symposium and SAE World Congress. It’s always an honor to share our work with automotive executives, analysts, academics and engineers. And, it’s even more meaningful when those same individuals realize the potential our engine has to revolutionize passenger and commercial vehicle transportation. Continue reading

How to Meet CAFE 2025 Standards

By 2025, passenger cars and light-duty trucks in the U.S. must meet Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) fleet standards of 54.5 miles per gallon (MPG). And, between 2017 and 2025, vehicle manufacturers are required to achieve annual efficiency gains of 5% and 3.5% respectively. While the goals are clear, the path to achieving them is not. So how will automotive manufacturers get there?
 
According to a report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), technological innovation remains the primary driver behind vehicle improvements in C02, emissions and fuel economy. Continue reading

Diesel Is Now in the Driver’s Seat

It’s no surprise that diesel-powered vehicles are growing in popularity. After all, they’re far more efficient than gasoline engines and much more fun to drive. They’re also cleaner than their predecessors, thanks to ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel and new technologies that include particulate filters, SCR and common-rail fuel injection.
 
What may be surprising to some, however, is that diesels are becoming more popular than hybrids in the United States. Just ask Volkswagen. Continue reading

Are Diesels Cleaner than Gasoline Engines?

The conventional tradeoff between spark-ignited gasoline engines and compression-ignition diesel engines is that diesels are significantly more efficient—on the order of 30%. One reason for this is that diesel fuel is more energy dense (by volume). And more energy density translates into better fuel economy. Despite the added efficiency benefit, diesels are also more expensive due to: Continue reading

Reducing Our Oil Dependence

We were honored to make the final three in the inaugural Emerging Innovation Award from Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE), and even more pleased to be named first runner up. SAFE’s sole mission is to improve America’s energy security by combating oil dependence. The Emerging Innovation Award was created to recognize and inspire the emerging innovations that have the most potential to help achieve that goal. Continue reading