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February 26, 2018 News of the Day: Volvo's Current Gasoline Powered Engines Will be its Last, BAIC and Daimler to Build $1.9 Billion China Assembly Plant

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【Summary】February 26, 2018 News of the Day

Eric Walz    Feb 26, 2018 2:16 PM PT
February 26, 2018 News of the Day: Volvo's Current Gasoline Powered Engines Will be its Last, BAIC and Daimler to Build $1.9 Billion China Assembly Plant

Volvo's Current Gasoline Powered Engines Will Be its Last

Volvo's current generation of gasoline and diesel engines will be its last according to the company's CEO.

Speaking to Road & Track, Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson said the company will not develop the Drive-E family of three and four cylinder engines any further, aside from possibly adding a third electric compressor on Volvo's 2.0-liter engine to help it reach 400 horsepower before any hybrid assistance.

Samuelsson stated in July 2017 that all future Volvo models would either be hybrids or EVs beginning in 2019, which "marks the end of the solely combustion-engine-powered car." Weeks earlier, he had announced Polestar as a separate performance brand using only hybrid and EV powertrains.

Volvo will continue selling Polestar trims for its high-performance gasoline-powered cars, as the company recently clarified. Geely, Volvo's parent company, has already launched Lynk & Co as a Volvo-based Chinese EV brand and also plans to shift its home-market Geely lineup to Volvo platforms and technologies. A final, complete transition to battery-electric Volvo and Polestar models won't happen for some time, but it is Samuelsson's ultimate goal.

The Drive-E family that Volvo unveiled in 2013 was a quiet revolution among mainstream internal-combustion engines, designed from the onset to accommodate turbocharging, supercharging, and electric assist—or all three—while complying with future global emissions regulations and taxes favoring 2.0-liter displacements.

BAIC and Daimler to Build $1.9 billion China Assembly Plant for NEVs

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BAIC Motor Corp. and Daimler AG plan to build a factory in China for Mercedes-Benz vehicles to meet growing demand as the German automaker deepens its ties with the country.

The automakers will co-invest more than 11.9 billion yuan ($1.9 billion) to build the facility, BAIC said Sunday in a brief filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange. The statement did not disclose the location of the factory.

"The new factory will manufacture various Mercedes-Benz products in China including new energy electric vehicles" (NEVs) and improve the overall production capacity of the companies' joint venture, Beijing Benz Automotive Co., the statement said.

The announcement comes a day after Li Shufu, the billionaire founder of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., said he had acquired a stake worth about 7.3 billion euros ($9 billion) in Daimler, marking the biggest investment in a global automobile manufacturer by a Chinese company. The 9.7 percent stake makes Geely the single largest investor in the parent of Mercedes-Benz.

New Studies Show That Uber and Lyft Actually Create More Traffic in Cities

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BOSTON — Summoning a ride using Uber or Lyft from your smartphone may seem like a good alternative to driving your own car into the city or taking mass transit. However, recent studies suggest that using ride-hailing services such as Uber contributes to urban traffic woes, rather than decreasing the Associated Press has reported.

Uber and Lyft suggest that their services result in fewer cars clogging city streets. However, recent studies suggest that ride-hailing companies are pulling riders off buses, subways, bicycles and their own feet and putting them in cars instead.

Uber's new service called Express Pool now is seen as directly competing with mass transit.

Uber and Lyft argue that in Boston, for instance, they complement public transit by connecting riders to hubs like Logan Airport and South Station. But they have not released their own specific data about rides, leaving studies up to outside researchers.

The impact of all those cars is becoming evident, said Christo Wilson, a professor of computer science at Boston's Northeastern University, who has looked at Uber's practice of surge pricing during heavy volume.

"The emerging consensus is that ride-sharing (is) increasing congestion," Wilson said.

One study included surveys of 944 ride-hailing users over four weeks in late 2017 in the Boston area. Nearly six in 10 said they would have used public transportation, walked, biked or skipped the trip if the ride-hailing apps weren't available.

The report also found that many riders are not using hailed rides to connect to a subway or bus line, but instead as a separate mode of transit, said Alison Felix, one of the report's authors.

"Ride sharing is pulling from and not complementing public transportation," she said.

That's not what Uber founder Travis Kalanick suggested in 2015 when he said, "We envision a world where there's no more traffic in Boston in five years."

A study released in December found that large increases in the number of taxis and ride-sharing vehicles are contributing to slow traffic in midtown Manhattan in New York City. It recommended policies to prevent further increases in "the number of vacant vehicles occupied only by drivers waiting for their next trip request."

In San Francisco, a study released in June found that on a typical weekday, ride-hailing drivers make more than 170,000 vehicle trips, about 12 times the number of taxi trips, and that the trips are concentrated in the densest and most congested parts of the city.

A survey released in October of more than 4,000 adults in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle and Washington, D.C., also concluded that 49 to 61 percent of ride-hailing trips would have not been made at all—if the option didn't exist.

The Boston study found that the main reason people opted for ride-hailing was speed. Instead of waiting for a train of bus, commuters who hold monthly transit passes would opt instead for an Uber, despite the higher costs.

A spokesman for Lyft stressed that ride-hailing could reduce the number of personally owned cars on the roads.

"Lyft is focused on making personal car ownership optional by getting more people to share a ride, helping to reduce car ownership, and partnering with public transportation," spokesman Adrian Durbin said in a statement.

Uber is hoping to wean drivers from their cars in part by encouraging its carpooling services, spokeswoman Alix Anfang said.

"Uber's long-term goal is to end the reliance on personal vehicles and allow a mix of public transportation and services like Uber," Anfang said.

Uber's new Express Pool links riders who want to travel to similar destinations. Riders walk a short distance to be picked up at a common location and are dropped off near their final destinations — essentially, the same way a bus or subway line functions.

The service was tested in November in San Francisco and Boston and has found enough ridership to support it 24 hours a day. Round-the-clock service was also rolled out last week in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Washington, Miami, San Diego and Denver, with more cities to follow.

"This could be good for congestion if it causes vehicle occupancy rates to go up, but on the other hand, the Uber Pool rides and I guess these Express rides are really, really cheap, just a couple of dollars, so they're almost certainly going to be pulling people away from public transport options," Wilson said. "Why get on a bus with 50 people when you can get into a car and maybe if you're lucky, you'll be the only person in it?"

In a study released in October by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), as many as two-thirds of transit users reported also using ride-hailing companies.

A report released this month by San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system found ridership down disproportionately on weekends and off-peak hours, in part citing ride-hailing trips.

The MBTA is focusing on what it can control—investing money into new trains, buses and infrastructure improvements, spokesman Joe Pesaturo said.

At least one other study did not blame increased congestion on hailing services. Seattle-based firm Inrix crunched data from 2012 to 2015 in London and found the number of passenger vehicles, including Uber cars, remained the same or even dipped slightly. Reasons for increased congestion included a surge in road construction and delivery trucks dropping off online purchases.

BorgWarner's New eGearDrive Transmission Extends the Driving Range of FAW's EVs

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich., — BorgWarner's eGearDrive transmission has been specifically designed for the emerging high-volume electric vehicle market and is featured in Chinese automaker First Automotive Works (FAW) Group's Besturn B30EV and Junpai A70E electric vehicles.

The eGearDrive transmission provides high torque capacity in a compact package. Its highly efficient helical gear train offers quiet performance and contributes to extended driving range for electric vehicles. Helical gears are used in almost all car transmissions.

"BorgWarner has supplied turbochargers, EGR modules and advanced transmission components to FAW for several years. We are very pleased to build upon this successful collaboration by supporting this major Chinese automaker with our fast-to-market and environmentally friendly solution for electric vehicles," said Dr. Stefan Demmerle, President and General Manager, BorgWarner PowerDrive Systems. "As the supplier of choice, BorgWarner meets the significantly increasing demand in the Chinese market for our innovative eGearDrive transmission by offering local manufacturing and engineering support."

BorgWarner's eGearDrive transmission can handle high input speeds of up to 14,000 rpm while providing smooth and quiet operation. The proven solution is available in a wide range of ratios for a variety of electric motor sizes to provide optimized vehicle acceleration and top speed. The eGearDrive transmission contributes to extended battery-powered driving range through its compact, low-weight design and highly efficient gear train.

The materials used in BorgWarner's eGearDrive transmissions are also 99 percent recyclable.

Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet Confirmed for 2020 Production

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Volkswagen's T-Roc Cabriolet will be an unusual, yet cool-looking SUV, being it will have a convertible roof.

Volkswagen confirmed it will produce a T-Roc cabriolet from 2020, adding a second soft-top to its lineup after the Golf Cabriolet was axed in 2016.

Scheduled for a launch at the turn of the decade, the T-Roc cabrio is to be built at the Osnabrück plant - formerly the home of coachbuilder Karmann, which produced the Golf Cabriolet and original drop-top Beetle. Currently, the plant oversees part-production of the Porsche Cayenne and Cayman, the Skoda Fabia and the VW Tiguan, before the model is finished in Wolfsburg.

At its peak, around 20,000 T-Roc convertibles will be made per year, representing an investment of around £70 million in Osnabrück.

More than 40,000 T-Roc orders have been placed since its launch late last year, although convertibles are slower-selling for VW - 613 Beetle Cabriolets sold in the UK across 2017.

SUVs and electric vehicles are increasingly important for Volkswagen, as the brand plans to launch 20 before 2020, by which time SUVs will represent around 40% of the brand's total sales.

It's part of a new, more emotional strategy at Volkswagen, as the brand seeks to introduce cars away from its traditionally rational approach. The dramatically-styled Arteon was the first example of this effort. The T-Roc cabrio will be the brand's first drop-top SUV.

VW brand boss Herbert Diess said: "Volkswagen is evolving into an SUV brand. The T-Roc is already setting new standards in the compact SUV segment. With the cabriolet based on the T-Roc, we will be adding a highly emotional model to the range."

A T-Roc R model has previously been reported, but Volkswagen remains secretive on whether the model will make it to production, despite the sports SUV market growing with new market entries announced regularly.

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