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Mercedes-Benz unveils its revamped G-Class


The all-new G-Class makes its public debut at the Detroit auto show in G550 form. Completely redeveloped and fitted with a 4.0-liter V8 biturbo gasoline engine offering 427ps and 450 lb-ft of torque at 2,000rpm to 4,750rpm, despite near-identical looks to its predecessor plenty has changed for the Mercedes-Benz SUV.

Ford’s F150 pickup gets its first diesel motor


Developed by the powertrain team behind the 6.7-liter Power Stroke engine for super duty trucks, the all-new 3.0-liter V6 Power Stroke unit promises 250ps, 440 lb-ft of torque, and an anticipated 5175kg of towing capacity.

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In light of Fisker's solid-state battery breakthrough and claims of a one minute charge time, will this electric vehicle technology development kick-start mass BEV uptake? 


New clutchless multi-speed transmission boosts EV range

Transmission specialist Zeroshift has devised a multi-speed gearbox for EVs that needs no clutch – a damper inside the gear hubs and electronic control of the motor make ratio changes seamless. Having more than one gear ratio and the ability to shift without interrupting torque means the motor runs at higher efficiency, extending range and batteries’ life expectancy by up to 10%.

Development of the concept is underway using Zeroshift’s proprietary gear-shifting system. The innovation could enable manufacturers to downsize EVs’ electric motors, keeping them running longer at the medium loads and speeds where peak efficiency of over 95% is possible. For drivers, that could mean more performance, greater range and longer lasting batteries.

“Our studies suggest that by using a compact, multi-speed transmission and a smaller electric motor, manufacturers can gain an operating efficiency of up to 10%, said ZeroShift MD, Bill Martin. “You can use that 10% to improve EVs’ range or reduce the size, weight and cost of battery packs.”

Zeroshift’s concept prevents any torque interruptions during ratio changes and does not require a clutch, two key issues that have so far deterred EV manufacturers from fitting multi-speed gearboxes. Current EVs instead use a single-speed transmission, but the motor then spends more of its time outside of its optimum efficiency range.

“The benefits of Zeroshift’s transmission would be greatest for electric delivery vehicles where the compromises in efficiency are greatest,” added Martin. “To be able to pull away fully laden on hills requires low gearing, but the motor then runs too fast and too inefficiently on the highway.”

The improved efficiency offered by Zeroshift’s concept could also extend EVs’ in-service battery life. Current range limitations often lead EV drivers to drain the cells to the maximum allowable level of discharge in order to reach their destination; the deeper cycling affects batteries’ life expectancy. Improving the motor efficiency uses less of the energy stored for a given journey, easing the discharge-recharge cycles and reducing recharge time.

Zeroshift is developing its compact transmission with several vehicle manufacturers. The company is also working with highly regarded consultancy firms and manufacturers on the integration of its technology into the next generation of seamless layshaft automatic transmissions for hybrid medium-duty trucks, buses and passenger cars.

The company’s technology replaces the synchromesh in a conventional manual gearbox with paired interlocking rings that change ratios without interrupting the torque. To provide the required levels of shift refinement, Zeroshift’s concept uses electronic control of the electric motor(s) to match the shaft speeds and an integrated a passive damper system within the drive hub to isolate any vibrations. The combination of sealed pockets of silicone fluid and mechanical compression springs make shifts virtually unnoticeable to occupants.

16 September 2010


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