The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)’s Annual Energy Outlook 2017 (AEO2017) projects a decline in light-duty vehicle energy use between 2018 and 2040 as higher fuel economy offsets increases in light-duty vehicle miles.
An increase of vehicles in use in 2016 led to a record 2.84 trillion vehicle miles in the U.S.That figure is expected to continually increase, reaching 3.33 trillion miles traveled in 2040.
Fuel economy is expected to increase as well due to market developments and a rise in fuel economy standards. For model year 2015, fuel economy standards averaged about 35 miles per gallon (mpg) for cars and about 27mpg for light trucks. Standards are set to rise to 53mpg and 38mpg for model year 2025.
AEO2017 projects new on-road vehicle fuel economy for passenger cars will increase 43% between 2015 and 2025, from 31mpg in 2015 to 45mpg. New light truck fuel economy is projected to increase 46%, from 21mpg to 31mpg.
The net effect of these fuel economy trends is that light-duty vehicle energy consumption is projected to decrease 12%, from 16.1 quadrillion British thermal units (BTUs) in 2017 to 14.2 quadrillion BTUs in 2025, despite a 5% growth in miles traveled.
Nearly all vehicle energy consumption is gasoline, with gasoline consumption by light-duty vehicles projected to fall from 8.7 million barrels per day in 2017 to 7.5 million barrels per day in 2025. www.eia.gov
DOJ accuses FCA of diesel emissions cheating
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) accused Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA US LLC) of cheating on emissions tests for 104,000 vehicles equipped with 3L diesel engines.
Though not as large as the Volkswagen diesel cheating scandal discovered in 2015 (more than 500,000 vehicles), regulators in both cases accuse automakers of using software code to cheat tests. Officials say Jeep and Ram vehicles would operate in a low-emissions mode during testing and pollute far more during real-world driving.
FCA officials denied the charges.
“The company intends to defend itself vigorously, particularly against any claims that the company engaged in any deliberate scheme to install defeat-devices to cheat U.S. emissions tests,” officials said.
A week before the DOJ filed suit, FCA announced updated emissions software calibrations to address regulators’ concerns for Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV and Ram 1500 pickup models equipped with the 3L diesel. If federal and California regulators approve the 2017 model year emissions controls, FCA officials say they can apply the software fix to 2014 through 2016 models.
The Clean Air Act (CAA) mandates that automakers disclose all controls, including software, that could impact emissions. DOJ officials said the Ram and Jeep models had eight software-based features not disclosed on emissions applications that lessen the effectiveness of emissions control systems.
Regulators said in January that FCA US was being investigated for diesel cheating. FCA officials said they have been working to explain software tools, but their answers did not satisfy the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“One or more of these undisclosed software features, alone or in combination with the others, renders inoperative, bypasses, and/or defeats the vehicles’ emission control systems,” DOJ officials said.
Each CAA violation can carry penalties ranging from $37,500 to $45,268 (fines increased following the discovery of Volkswagen’s cheating), putting FCA US’ potential fines at $3.9 billion to $4.7 billion. Volkswagen faced more than $18 billion in fines but settled with regulators for $15 billion – $10 billion to buy back tainted cars and $5 billion in fines. www.epa.gov; www.fcanorthamerica.com; www.justice.gov
Jenoptik has relocated to a modern engineering, production, sales, and service campus for industrial metrology and laser processing systems in Rochester Hills, Michigan.
The facility covers 100,000 ft² on a 16-acre campus – almost twice as large as its current location – and includes flexible application areas that can be used simultaneously for training and meeting rooms.
“In our expanded laser application center, we will be able to demonstrate and perform feasibility studies, application-specific competencies, as well as cutting and welding services,” says Andreas Blind, vice president of sales, services, and marketing.
The facility features sensor-controlled offices, light-emitting diode (LED) lighting, and energy saving heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.
“We will markedly exceed U.S. and local environmental standards,” says David Matynowski, vice president of operations.
The facility will provide expansion options for other Jenoptik activities and future planned growth in the U.S. www.jenoptik.com
Ford ousts Mark Fields, Jim Hackett named new CEO
Ford Motor Co. has fired CEO Mark Fields, leader of the automaker for the past three years, and replaced him with board member and head of Ford’s Smart Mobility tech venture Jim Hackett, former CEO of furniture maker Steelcase.
Despite turning in record earnings in 2015, the automaker’s stock price has languished since 2014. Fields tried several initiatives to change that, ranging from big investments in autonomous vehicle technology and mobility startups to stock repurchases. Low stock prices, coupled with growing interest in companies with more investor appeal, have pushed Ford to No. 3 in market value for U.S. automakers, behind GM (No. 1) and Tesla (No. 2).
Ford’s near-term prospects didn’t show a lot of room for improvement. Fields had warned investors in recent weeks that 2017 didn’t hold a lot of growth promise for Ford – as rollout costs for new vehicles are expected to lower earnings – and investors questioned Fields’ strategies for further growing the automaker.
Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford said he decided to replace Fields with Hackett in hopes of revitalizing the company and focusing on the future.
“He’s a proven transformational leader. He’s a visionary thinker. He and I think very much alike,” Bill Ford says. “He can integrate future thinking into an operation and help seamlessly deliver a future that has been envisioned.”
A former Ford board member, Hackett became executive chairman of Ford Smart Mobility LLC a little more than a year ago.
The future is not a fantasy,” Hackett says, adding that Ford engineers are watching trends such as 3D printing, autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles, and lightweight materials. “We’re triangulating all of these forces to try to come up with a competitive set about where we’re going to play and how we’re going to win.” http://corporate.ford.com
Auto insurance premiums to rise $81B
Research from Accenture and Stevens Institute of Technology suggests auto premiums will increase by $81 billion during the next eight years, driven by risks related to cybersecurity, software and hardware, and the need for additional public infrastructure.
Larry Karp, a co-author of the report and global insurance telematics lead in Accenture Mobility says, “Cybersecurity, product liability for sensors and software algorithms, and public infrastructure [technology spending] are going to drive billions in new insurance premiums for the U.S. auto insurance industry.”
Premium growth will precede an anticipated decline in industry revenue beginning in 2026. With roads becoming safer, policies will shift from consumers to autonomous vehicle manufacturers and other service providers. Chen Liu, co-author of the report and a research assistant at Stevens Institute of Technology’s School of Systems and Enterprises, says, “Autonomous-vehicle technology will drive a significant shift in risk from human error to malicious third-party software, hardware, and infrastructure risk.” www.accenture.com; www.stevens.edu
If you have any connection to motor vehicle technology, you’ve likely heard these questions: Do you think we’ll actually have self-driving cars available in our lifetime? Will delivery drivers be out of work if trucking companies automate driving? Do you think the technology is really going to work?
Autonomous driving has caught a lot of attention as companies invest millions into developing sensors, controllers, and algorithms to take over driving functions. Tech companies are buying autonomous-driving startups in hopes of participating in the next big thing in transportation technology.
But that last question I keep getting at parties is the most important – will the technology really work?
Here are two things I know about that question – automakers, commercial truck companies, tier suppliers, and technology companies are investing heavily to make the answer yes. And dumping billions of dollars into a technology does not guarantee that it will ever be viable.
Look at hydrogen fuel cells. Several companies have test fleets on the road, you can lease fuel-cell-powered Hondas in California, and automotive experts are saying the technology is about 10 years away from commercial viability. With some minor tweaks, that previous sentence would have been true 30 years ago. A 2002 article in Wired magazine talks about General Motors’ billion-dollar bet on hydrogen. Congress passed legislation in 1995 to push commercialization of the technology. Earlier this year, Toyota, Daimler, and BMW joined a consortium pledging to invest $10 billion during the next five years to make hydrogen fuel cells viable.
Despite these massive investments, hydrogen power remains 10 years away, and the finish line doesn’t appear much closer today than it did in the 1970s when R&D efforts began.
Autonomous mobility has vastly different technical challenges, so it might be easier to accomplish than hydrogen power. Automating the physical aspects of driving – steering, braking, acceleration – is simple because so many of those functions are computer controlled. The challenge is developing sensors that can gather data on what’s going on in the driving environment and computer systems to interpret that data and translate it into driving instructions.
Lots of money is flowing into the sensor/algorithm side of the problem, and technology is developing quickly. The goods-hauling industry thinks the technology could alleviate a shortage of drivers, and safety regulators like the idea of getting stupid human decision-making out of the driving process. Multiple states are in a weird sort of arms race to rush autonomous vehicles onto public roads for testing.
But as hydrogen power continues to show, billions of dollars of R&D investments do not automatically create solutions. Sensor systems may never become sophisticated enough to identify and categorize every potential driving hazard. Algorithms may never develop decision-making processes that will satisfy regulators. The driving public may never fully embrace the idea of fully automated roads.
Will we actually have self-driving cars in our lifetime? I’ll hedge and say sure, they’ll be here in 10 years, powered by hydrogen fuel cells.
As motor vehicle manufacturers plan what types of cars, trucks, and commercial vehicles to launch in the coming years, federal highway data can be a critical tool in catching trends in how and where people are driving. From 1969 until 2002, both urban and rural miles driven per year grew rapidly, with urban growth outpacing rural traffic. Since 2002, urban growth has continued but rural traffic has fallen. Such trends explain why automakers are spending billions to develop fuel-efficient small cars, despite the popularity of trucks and sport utility vehicles (SUVs).
3.2 trillion vehicle miles driven on U.S. state and local highways in 2016, up 7.4% from 2006
69.4% of highway traffic was urban in 2016, up 4.2 percentage points from 2006
1969 year urban traffic miles overtook rural traffic (537.4 billion, urban vs. 525.4 billion, rural)
61% of commercial vehicle miles driven by Class 8 trucks in 2015; the roughly 60% Class 8 vs. 40% medium-duty ratio has stayed steady for more than a decade
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