Category Archives: Electric / Electronic

Is The Future of Cars Electric?

We’ve been told that the future is bright; we’ve even been told that the future is orange, but when it comes to cars is the future electric? Should we be turning our backs on the increasingly old-school petrol driven cars and be fully embracing electric cars so as to future-proof ourselves?

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It isn’t uncommon for the US to lead the way when it comes to technology, and particularly California. The home base of the behemoth Google, not to mention the hundreds and thousands of start-ups in Silicon Valley, when it comes to the future Californians should know their tablet-form onions. And if you’re looking to California for guidance then the suggestions are that electric cars are very much the next step.
Charging stations and points for electric cars have been a common sighting in The Golden State for some time, but earlier this month the region took the next step. The first public EV charging station that supports all models of electric vehicles has now opened in San Diego, all the more reason to buy an electric car. The charge point, located at the Fashion Valley Mall, can charge the batteries of cars that operate on any of the three existing connection systems to about 80 per cent in around 20 minutes.

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In the UK, charging points remain few and far between and for the most point limited to slow performing charging stations dotted around the big cities. If you drive around London regularly then you’ll have a lot less trouble keeping your car charged than you will in North Yorkshire say, where you’ll have to cross your fingers that you can make it from York to Scarborough in one charge.
The plus point, I suppose, is that our concerns have shifted from the vehicles themselves to how to keep them running. Thanks to celebrity endorsements and a greater range being produced by manufacturers, electric cars are no longer the concept fads they were once supposed to be. Just this year the BMW has gone all guns blazing with UK television advertising to herald the arrival of their i8 and i3 vehicles. Neither comes cheap, but they each mark a significant departure from the staid conservative nature of the Toyota Prius.
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As more vehicles come on to the market, an electric future on the road appears to be inevitable, although not quite a here and now solution. If you live out in the country then you may want to hang fire before putting all your eggs in a snazzy new electro-basket to save being stuck on a darkened ‘B’ road in the middle of the night, but if you’re in the city then perhaps the time has come to embrace the electric car future.

This article was written by guest blogger Hiten Solanki

Has Tesla’s Safe Image Gone Up in Smoke to the Public?

Has the Tesla S’ Reputation as the Safest Car Gone Up in Flames?

Specialist automotive company, Tesla Motors has certainly made its mark as a manufacturer of safe, high performance electric vehicles. In May 2013 Consumer Reports magazine proclaimed that the Tesla Model S had outscored “every other car in our test ratings.”

In August, the NHTSA awarded the Tesla Model S a Five-Star rating, with an overall Vehicle Safety Score of 0.42, for frontal, side, and roll-over crashes. This is the best score of any vehicle the agency has tested under a new rating system it began applying in 2011.

Although the NHTSA test has no specific battery tests, it’s interesting that in Tesla’s press release on their achievement they state: “The Model S lithium-ion battery did not catch fire at any time before, during or after the NHTSA testing. It is worth mentioning that no production Tesla lithium-ion battery has ever caught fire in the Model S or Roadster, despite several high speed impacts. While this is statistically unlikely to remain the case long term, Tesla is unaware of any Model S or Roadster occupant fatalities in any car ever.”

A Tesla Model S experiences a battery fire after an accident.

All this good news translated to a share price that rose from $35 on the 2nd of January to $184 in September. Everything was going well for the small company from Fremont, California… until a Model S was involved in an accident early in October. The resultant battery fire saw Tesla shares fall 6 percent in 24 hours, and drop a further $7.64, or 4.2 percent the following day.

Despite the fact that there were no injuries the news soon went viral and at $173.31Tesla’s market value dropped about $2.4 billion in two days…

( Excerpted from an article by Peter Els)
To read and download the rest of this article please view it on Automotive IQ: Full Article

Autonomous Driving: Revolution or Evolution?

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Alfred Eckert, Head of Advanced Engineering at Chassis & Safety, and Thomas Gallner, Overall Vehicle E/E Architecture. Both work for Continental in Germany. It was a great conversation and very enlightening about the what the future holds in terms of safety and autonomous vehicles. We also discussed the potential of moving to a 48 volt power supply to supplement the current 12 volt system in cars. The full interview is available by clicking on the image below:

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Autonomous driving has come up in quite a few discussions recently. Some people express excitement at the prospect of being able to relax in the car, others express fear of not being fully in control. Yet a third group seems to despair at the idea that the car as-we-know-it may cease to exist. Admittedly, I am a car-enthusiast and the prospect of such a revolutionary change is daunting. However, it’s unlikely that the transition into autonomous vehicles will be quite so dramatic and revolutionary. According to Alfred Eckert,  “…in the future, there will be cars. There will be a steering wheel in front of the driver. There will be pedals…the process needs to change fluidly. You cannot say, okay, now you have to drive this vehicle without a steering wheel. Can you imagine the ensuing discussion?”

Continental has set a time frame for their development of autonomous vehicle systems. Their goal is that by 2016, vehicles will be available with systems allowing driver’s to transfer control over to the car in heavy traffic situations up to about 30 km/hr. By 2025, fully automated driving should be available but only for highway scenarios.

Driving enthusiast or not, you have to admire the work these engineers are doing. Not only is the technology amazing, but its potential to save lives is incredibly important.

Read the full interview and share your thoughts.

Will Hornick is the Managing Editor of Automotive IQ

Tesla Model S Not So Super in East Coast Winter Weather?

Browsing through the NY Times’ Automobiles section, a review of Tesla’s Model S 416 hp supercar caught my attention. Tesla has been very successful on the West Coast of the Unites States in implementing a network of charging stations for its attractive looking electric vehicles. Recently, Tesla has opened up its Supercharger stations on the East Coast along a stretch of the I-95 corridor between Washington and Boston. Given how well the system is working out West, this seemed like a logical next step for improving electric vehicle charging infrastructures.

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

The test did not go so well for NY Times writer John M. Broder. In the below freezing temperatures of an East Coast winter day, the lithium-ion battery powered vehicle did not reach its EPA rated 265 miles/per charge leaving the test driver no option but to turn off the heater and drive 10 mph under the speed limit. Later in the trip, the car needed the assistance of a tow truck to get to the next closest charging point.

The article was published on February 8th to almost immediate criticism and controversy. Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, Tweeted that the article was a ‘Fake’ and accused the author of not charging the car to its max, taking a long detour and driving at high speed and vowing to publish the vehicle data logs of the journey (Tesla claims that it does not log data on its customers without their written permission but for all media test drives they turn on the feature).

Mr. Broder responded with an article rebutting the claims of the Tesla CEO. His “long detour” was apparently a brief stop in Manhattan that added 2 miles to his journey.  The author admitted that he did not keep the partially-charged car plugged in overnight on his trip not realizing the effect that the cold weather would have on the battery. Mr. Broder wrote,
 “This evaluation was intended to demonstrate its practicality as a “normal use,” no-compromise car, as Tesla markets it. Now that Tesla is striving to be a mass-market automaker, it cannot realistically expect all 20,000 buyers a year (the Model S sales goal) to be electric-car acolytes who will plug in at every Walmart stop.”

Regardless of the outcome of the data logs, what is clear is that this 416 hp supercar cannot be driven like a BMW M5 if you still expect to arrive at your destination in one go. It also puts the spotlight on the challenges that exist for lithium-ion batteries. Increasing their range per charge is an important issue that will help determine how successful the current generation of EVs will be at gaining a share of the automobile market. Another factor is their cost – much of which comes from the battery pack as the production process of lithium-ion batteries is still not completely automated or optimized for high quantities.

Original article from the NY Times: Click Here

Response from Mr. Broder: Click Here

If you are interested in learning more about battery production for EVs and HEVs, Automotive IQ interviewed a German expert in production management. To read the interview, click here.

We are also hosting a conference on Smart EV and HEV Battery Production from April 22-24, 2013.

Find out more information about the conference and access lots of free relevant content by following this link

Will Hornick is the Managing Editor of Automotive IQ

LED technology promotes form and function

Recently, an article was published in the Art & Design section of the NY Times (full article here). The article discusses automotive lighting paying particular attention to the design elements evoked by lighting systems over the past century. A car’s headlamps can be one of the most dramatic visual cues on the front of a vehicle. They can set the tone and help to create a car model’s persona and character. The article mentions how design elements over the past century also reflected a particular era’s history from the straight lines representing machine age production lines to softer curves after the 2nd World War meant to calm emotions after such traumatic events.

The current design of headlamps is very futuristic thanks in no small part to the introduction of modern LEDs into vehicle lighting. A great example of this is the Audi R8 which was the first car to use full LED lamps. Light Emitting Diode technology is a particularly impressive innovation with regard to design.  In an interview with Valeo’s Benoist Fleury (see below link), he explained that in addition to being significantly more efficient than traditional halogen lights, LED lighting allows for much more creative styling opportunities in the design of the lighting system. This includes the components as well as the actual beam produced. Their small size allows for a much greater range of configurations and car designers are taking advantage of that.

Automotive lighting systems also provide a functional benefit for every vehicle in terms of safety and here LEDs can also provide benefits.  European regulation dictates that all new vehicles have daytime-running-lights (DRLs) installed and LEDs are significantly more energy efficient.  They are also designed to last for the life of the car.

IQPC’s 13th International Conference Intelligent Automotive Lighting 2013 will take place from Monday, 28th to the 29th of January, 2013 with interactive workshops on the 30th. The conference will focus on developments in interior and exterior vehicle lighting including design, thermal management for LEDs and OLED technology.

Who will you meet by attending?
•    Lighting component suppliers
•    Automotive OEMs
•    Lighting system suppliers
•    Optical Systems
•    Solid state lighting manufacturers
•    OLED manufacturers
To find out more about the conference click here

LAST CALL: 6th International Congress Automotive Doors

The design of automotive plays a crucial role in light of attempts to reduce weight and therefore carbon emissions of vehicles. The trend is to replace the steel doors with extremely light steel or lightweight materials such as aluminium or carbon fibre reinforced plastic. Meet experts and OEMs at IQPC’s 6th International Congress Automotive Doors 2012, 19 – 21 March in Mainz to discuss alternatives in door components and materials.

Which combination of materials will ensure a light-weight construction and customer comfort at the same time? Which are the most promising solutions with potential for serial production? A special focus lies on doors for electric vehicles.

Presentations by a number of OEMs and many networking opportunities provide room for addressing the most relevant questions of automotive door design.

 The congress covers the following topics:

  •  Automotive doors today – trends and developments
  • Lightweight door solutions – materials and concepts in practice
  • Renewable materials for the door interior
  • Challenges for noise reduction
  • Integrating new functions and vehicle access systems

Late bookings are still being accepted! Please get in touch via or visit the website.

Futuristic view on Functional Safety of Automobile E/E components

New E/E-based safety systems are being developed to assist drivers of the vehicle as well as the traffic participants. Moreover, its development to combat with advanced sensor technologies and procedures involving signal processing in the automotive industry is undisputed. Automobile manufacturers have started applying draft standard guidelines of ISO 26262 in order to initiate state of art technology as well as adhering with concept of ‘functional safety.’ In the current scenario, the domain of safety is embodied in passive safety systems as well as in the arena of vehicle dynamics. The whole dynamics of automobile processes have welcomed standardization in order to provide guidance in manufacture of its E/E components and such other ancillaries. The ISO 26262 standards encompass complete lifecycle of vehicle manufacture in sync with concept of ‘Functional Safety.’

ASIL related safety procedures as well as the management of functional safety are compiled in the 10 volumes of the standard ISO 26262. A safety requirement in a particular process is generated upon possibility of risk, estimated as a probability due to an outcome of some unwanted event or any other factor related to controllability by driver, any of these which may lead to ASIL. The standard invokes four probable levels namely, A, B, C and D, wherein A is the level demanding least strictness whereas D requiring maximum stringency.

Integration of Safety Process

With the application of ISO 26262, stable concepts ensuring vehicle safety can be derived at the initial stages of development process, by optimal risk assessment and analysis of possible hazards. The faults or errors apparent during later stages can be drastically reduced, if not eliminated, by designing stable safety concept. However, if ISO 26262 has to be implemented during the later stages, it could be very tedious. This is because the aim of ISO 26262 is to instill standards into development of the car. Thus, if the standard is sought to be implemented in later stages of development, it will tend to contradict the concept behind the regulatory standard in the first place.

Safety case requirement is explicitly implied in ISO 26262 mandate at its introduction. Electrical and electronic systems have to comply with safety case requirement as per the automotive safety standard ISO 26262. The activities of the standard produces set of work products, which are implied to be ISO 26262 safety case. However, organizations are required to demonstrate its work products rather than just satisfy their compliance with the standard by mere indulging in box ticking. In fact, Part 10 of ISO 26262 mandate explains characteristics of a safety case. In this parlance, ISO 26262 is informative in approach. Moreover, as independent functional assessment is required by the regulatory standard ISO 26262, the assessor has to ensure that assurance argument is contained in the safety case. However there is qualification attached to this. The standards of production dictate the potential for safety cases by gap of some significance. Likewise, independent functional safety assessment is not required for ASIL A or ASIL B, but only an applicable requirement for ASIL C or ASIL D. Moreover, ASIL D controls complete independence in release authority, financial and managerial functions. Safety case denotes essentially process safety argument communicated by ISO 26262. Read also more here.

LED Technology for Intelligent Automotive Lighting

Carsten Befelein, CEO at CB Lichtdesign shares his view of LED technology in an interview with Joanna Scheffel from IQPC.

Joanna Scheffel, IQPC: What is your company’s role in the automotive lighting industry?

 Carsten Befelein, CB Lichtdesign: Within the focus of my engineering office “CB-Lichtdesign” are attractive lighting concepts, innovations, designs, feasibility and profitability analysis and lighttechnical predevelopment for interior- and exterior lighting for all OEMs, suppliers and aftermarket.

 J.S.: In a growing and developing market like the automotive industry, how is your company setting itself apart?

 C.B.: CB-Lichtdesign especially develops high value and attractive, customer- and design-relevant, feasible and cost effective lighting concepts and innovations on the basis of in-depth lighting know-how and automotive experience (more than 20 years of BMW lighting technology and electronics) – from concept to specification.

J.S.: What major challenges is the industry facing at the moment?

 C.B.: Lighting features for the interior and exterior of vehicles have come more and more into the interest and focus of customers and thus in the industry for lighting and electronics. The lighting products have to be innovative, high value in appearance and technical quality, “intelligent”, functional, emotional, individual etc. and also be affordable.

 J.S.: With regards to the LED technology, a lack of technology and experience are often named as the key challenges. Do you agree? How can these factors be improved?

 C.B.: I agree with this statement. This was one important reason to start “CB-Lichtdesign”.

Interested in reading the full interview? Read more here!

Developments in LED Lighting for the Automotive Industry

Automotive lights are an essential part of road and driver safety, both in terms of seeing and of being seen by other vehicles. The progression and development of LED lighting now makes it a viable proposition for the automotive industry, as an alternative to traditional lighting systems. The versatility of LED lighting also frees manufacturers to implement new styles of lighting, both in function and innovation of design.

The Benefits of LED Lighting

LED’s are semi-conductor devices which can convert electrical energy directly into light, rather than relying on heat to produce the light. With the advancement of high-lumen output white LED’s it is possible to use them for low and high beam front lighting as well as daytime running lights, fog lights and advanced lighting systems. The increased functionality means that the lights can prevent glare for the driver by using intelligent beam control by powering different elements. LED lighting also reduces energy consumption compared with conventional lighting methods, and offers consumers a more environmentally friendly solution to lighting, as they are mercury-free (1).

Daytime Running Lights

In 2008 the European commission published directive 2008/89/EC, which legislates that all new cars and light vans built after 7th February 2011 should incorporate daytime running lights in their design (2).  

This is not an entirely new concept in Europe, although it is the first time that regulations have been brought in across the continent. Vehicles have been required to drive with headlights on all year round since 1977 in Sweden, while Iceland, Latvia, Macedonia and Norway followed suit in 1980. Other countries such as Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic require drivers to use headlights all day during the winter months, while Hungary and Italy require daytime use of lights only when outside built-up areas. The new regulations are a positive development for the LED market, and due to the flexibility of LED, designers are coming up with a variety of ways to implement daytime running lights into new vehicles.

Innovative Lighting Design

Besides the obvious qualities that consumers require from automobiles, such as performance, reliability and quality, there is also a keen desire for design and style. LED lighting offers a greater range of options for designers when implementing interior and exterior lighting. Rather than using conventional methods of two main bulbs for headlights, manufacturers are able to integrate several LED lights, in rows or formations to create a completely different look whilst maintaining the important aspects of safety. Indirect and decorative use of LED lights can also create an entirely different style to a vehicle, and have a great impact on the overall look of the car. It is quite possible for lighting to be hidden behind the front grill of a car as demonstrated by Visteon with their prototype design pictured below (3).

Interested in learning more about automotive lighting? Check out more articles here.





Automotive Lighting – energy efficiency, sophisticated design & enhanced safety

LED is the lighting technology of the future and one of the fastest growing markets in Automotive production. LED lighting is not only long-lasting and energy-efficient, but offers with developments such as white lighting much more innovative design possibilities. IQPC’s 12th International Conference Intelligent Automotive Lighting 2012, from 30 January until 1 February 2012 in Stuttgart will focus on modularity, thermal management, color and efficiency of LEDs with special attention towards the improvement of road safety.

Main topics of the conference include: 

  • Standardization of LEDs
  • LED design, for example thermal and optical solutions
  • LED beam options, such as low beam, high beam and glare-free beam
  • Marketing aspects of LED lighting, e.g. design of OLED interior lighting as a sales argument

 Conference participants can actively take part in all-day interactive workshops on Wednesday, 1 February. Following topics can be discussed with experts from across industry:    

  • LED low-beam development
  • Benchmarking of LED headlamps
  • Thermal design of high power LEDs
  • OLED – establishing a new technology

 International experts from leading companies and institutions offer valuable insight into current discussion of LED technology and innovative solutions concerning heat, colour and safety. Companies taking part include BMW, Renault, Skoda, TNO, Hella and Visteon, amongst others.

For more information, please visit the website.

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