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February 20, 2018 News of the Day: Porsche to End Production of Diesel Vehicles in Favor of EVs, New Toyota Electric Motor Needs Less Rare-Earth Metal to Manufacture

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【Summary】February 20, 2018 News of the Day

Eric Walz    Feb 20, 2018 4:32 PM PT
February 20, 2018 News of the Day: Porsche to End Production of Diesel Vehicles in Favor of EVs, New Toyota Electric Motor Needs Less Rare-Earth Metal to Manufacture
author: Eric Walz   

Porsche to End Production of Diesel Vehicles in Favor of EVs

Although it's been 16 years since Porsche introduced a diesel-powered version of its Cayenne SUV, the automaker has since followed that up with a diesel version of the Panamera and Macan. Now, diesel production is coming to an end, as Porsche terminates production of all its diesel vehicles in 2018—because drivers no longer want them.

Autocar quoted a Porsche spokesman saying it's all about a "cultural shift", as the recently much-maligned turbo-diesel variants are shelved globally. There was no Cayenne with an available diesel option when the third generation vehicle was launched last year. Since that time, the Macan S Diesel has been pulled off the market along with the Panamera 4S Diesel. Porsche said the Macan S Diesel will not be re-engineered to meet future standards.

Porsche has been the first German carmaker to publicly speak of discontinuing its diesel models. In July, Porsche's CEO Oliver Blume told Reuters that the manufacturer could abandon diesels in favor of gasoline hybrids and full electric vehicles. Porsche has spent over one billion dollars overhauling its Stuttgart plant and plans to release the Mission E four-door electric sedan in 2019, which is poised to compete directly with the Tesla Model S.

Porsche R&D board member Michael Steiner stated that electric vehicles (EVs) should account for a quarter of yearly Porsche sales in 2025. Future Porsche "e-models" would share a new electrified platform co-developed with Audi.

New Toyota EV Motor Needs Less Neodymium & Costs Less to Manufacture

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TOYOTA CITY, Japan — Toyota has found a way to reduce the amount of a key rare earth metal used in magnets for electric car motors by 20 percent, which could lower the cost of producing electric vehicles (EVs) and reduce the risk of a supply shortage of materials needed for their production.

The Japanese automaker on Tuesday said it had developed a magnet which replaces some of the neodymium, a rare earth metal used in the world's most powerful permanent batteries, with more abundant and less expensive lanthanum and cerium, adding that it aimed to use the magnets in electric vehicle motors within the next 10 years.

As production of hybrid and other electric cars is expected to ramp up in the coming years, automakers and electronics companies have been developing new high-powered magnets which require less rare earth metals to reduce costs and limit exposure to possible fluctuations in supply.

A temporary export ban of neodymium by major supplier China in 2010 during a territorial dispute with Japan and periodic supply shortages have highlighted automakers' dependence on these materials.

"An increase in electric car production will raise the need for motors, which will result in higher demand for neodymium down the line," Akira Kato, general project manager at Toyota's advanced R&D and engineering company, told reporters at a briefing in Tokyo.

"If we continue to use neodymium at this pace we'll eventually experience a supply shortage ... so we wanted to come up with technology which would help conserve neodymium stocks."

At the moment, magnets used in most automobiles to operate motors for everything from hybrid and other electric drivetrains to power steering systems comprise a total of around 30 percent of the rare earth elements neodymium, terbium and dysprosium.

Other automakers, including Honda have found ways to eliminate dysprosium and terbium, which cost around $400 and $900 per kilogram, respectively, from magnets by increasing the amount of neodymium, which costs around $100 per kilogram.

Toyota has come up with a way to cut out the expensive metals from the magnets and also reduce the amount of neodymium in favor of lanthanum and cerium, which each cost around $5-$7 per kilogram.

Kato declined to give specific details on cost reductions, but said that Toyota could replace up to half of the neodymium used in magnets for motors which operate conventional vehicle functions like power windows with lanthanum and cerium, and around 20 percent for electric motor magnets.

Delphi Technologies Launches Revolutionary Combined Inverter and DC/DC Converter for EVs

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SUZHOU, China — Delphi Technologies, PLC (NYSE: DLPH), a provider of advanced automotive solutions, is bringing New Energy Vehicle (NEV) to the next level with the launch of the first Combined Inverter and DC/DC Converter in the China market.

For automotive applications, a high DC bus voltage coupled with liquid cooling allows for high electric motor power in a very compact and lightweight unit. The unit is self contained, and designed to be sited adjacent to a high voltage EV battery assembly. Output terminals provide the high current electrical connection to the motor. these components deliver a higher power density, integrated in a smaller and lighter package.

NEV is China's designation for plug-in electric vehicles eligible for public subsidies, and includes only battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). This product's potential to deliver more efficient future electric propulsion systems, while also meeting the industry's highest technological standards, has already attracted the attention of major automakers who have selected this technology to power their vehicles.

"This launch marks another major step forward for Delphi Technologies' pioneering position in electrification and another development of power electronics as an enabler," said Kevin Quinlan, senior vice president and general manager, Electronics & Electrification for Delphi Technologies. "We continue to develop our business around the globe with exciting steps forward in the China market."

Delphi Technologies' 80 million USD investment in the Suzhou Plant covers an area of over 17,000  square meters (180,000 sq ft). The launch of this product underpins the technological developments the company is pursuing to address diverse local requirements for the Chinese market.

"We bring two decades of expertise to this product, which began with an initial investment in advanced engineering of electric vehicles," said Quinlan. "Today's launch could not have been possible without leveraging the unique engineering talent of our people."

Maine Wants to Charge EV & Hybrid Drivers More for Consuming Less Gas

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AUGUSTA, Maine — A new bill in Maine is aimed squarely at drivers of electric vehicles. The bill is targeting drivers who own EVs or other plug-in hybrid vehicles, in order to recoup tax revenue from gasoline that these driver's will consume less of. The Maine State Legislature bill L.D. 1806 proposes charging a supplemental registration fee for drivers of battery-electric and hybrid vehicles.

If the measure is passed, Maine will join at least 11 other states in levying an additional charge on environmentally conscious drivers trying to save money at the pump. Maine's electric vehicle levy would become the most expensive in the nation at $250, exceeding the $200 supplemental tax charged by Georgia and Michigan. The proposed fee for plug-in hybrids is $150.

Maine's governor and Department of Transportation justified support for the bill for the same reason as in other states— with infrastructure repair funds tied to revenue from gas taxes, electric vehicle owners do not pay their fair share to use the road. What the bill fails to recognize is that these vehicles contribute towards cleaner air— by not producing the harmful emissions that their fossil fueled powered counterparts do.

Due to fiscal mismanagement, Maine's highway maintenance fund has borrowed about $100 million each year for the past two years to limit its shortfall, yet still runs $60 million per year into the red. If Maine's 19,450 hybrid and EV owners — which represent less than 3 percent of the state's registered passenger vehicles — pay the proposed fees, they'll reduce the overdraft by around $2.9 million per year.

The governor and a state representative have floated at least two other ideas for generating more infrastructure revenue, but both are given little chance of passing. The governor has made it clear he won't support raising the state's gas tax, which increased to 30 cents per gallon back in 2011.

As expected, hybrid and EV drivers and Maine environmental groups are united in their opposition to L.D. 1806. Drivers believe "legislation deliberately targets them for protecting the environment and their wallets without really addressing the state's chronically underfunded highway fund."

The Natural Resources Council of Maine and the Maine Audubon Society both testified against the bill, saying it sends a bad message about U.S. energy priorities, and in some cases would see hybrid and EV drivers contribute more in road taxes than drivers of internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. "We think drivers should be paying some sort of fee, let's talk about what amount would be appropriate." Said a Maine DOT official.

Electronics Giant Sony May Launch an AI-Powered Taxi Hailing System

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Is Sony getting into the ride-hailing business? English language newspaper Nikkei has learned that the tech heavyweight is leading an alliance of well known Japan taxi companies including Checker Cab, Daiwa Motor Transportation, Green Cab, Hinomaru Kotsu and Kokusai Motorcar in the creation of an AI-powered hailing platform.

The algorithmic system would dispatch taxis more effectively by studying a host of conditions like traffic, weather and events. It might send a horde of drivers near the end of a concert, for instance.

There's no word on when this would be ready, or whether Sony hopes to offer the service outside of Japan.

It may seem strange for Sony to target taxis, when ridesharing services like Uber are quickly taking hold. However, Japan has a ban on using private cars for ride hailing services, which largely kills the ridesharing business model. This gives Sony an entry into the transportation world without having to limit use to other countries, which could be helpful if and when self-driving cars become the norm.

There's plenty of competitive pressure in Japan. Toyota just poured about $70 million into the app creator JapanTaxi, and it's working on its own AI-centered taxi system. If Sony doesn't get in early, it risks being left out completely.


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