Four Things: Electric Trucks, Quiet Gears, Radar Beams and ŠKODA Sketches
Volvo Launches Real Electric Trucks
(Image: Volvo Trucks)
As the world—OK, maybe not the entire world, but given the fanboy base it sure seems like it—awaits the Tesla Semi (which is possibly going into limited production in 2020), traditional truck manufacturers aren’t waiting to roll out with their electric vehicles.
Case in point: Volvo Trucks has begun sales of its FL Electric and FE Electric urban transport trucks in Sweden, Norway, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands. It will start production of these vehicles—which are used in applications like distribution, refuse handling and various urban applications—in March 2020.
The FL and FE models are available with diesel engines. But the FL Electric has an electric motor with a maximum power rating of 130 kW and the FE Electric has dual motors that provide maximum power of 370 kW and a continuous output of 260 kW.
Development work on the vehicles was performed with customers in Gothenburg, Sweden.
The FL Electric has a GVW of 16 tonnes (17.6 tons) and the FE Electric 27 tonnes (29.7 tons).
One thing that they’ve learned is that there needs to be more charging infrastructure: according to Jonas Odermalm, Volvo Trucks vp, Product Line Electromobility, “While customer feedback has been positive, we do recognize that charging infrastructure is still under development in most cities and we are working alongside both public and private partners to agree on a long-term strategy for the expansion of charging infrastructure.
But it’s clear that the pace of development of charging infrastructure needs to increase.”
Listen to the Exhaust, Not the Gear Set
The QuietTec ring and pinion gear sets, introduced by Eaton at SEMA this week, are developed for aftermarket applications (currently available for Dana 60, Ford 8.8” and Ford 9” axles), for high performance vehicles. Why that name? According to Tim Bauer, vp, Aftermarket, Eaton Vehicle Group North America, “QuietTec ring and pinon sets are manufactured with extreme precision using the latest cutting technology”—CNC machining of the teeth, rolling of the splines—“to provide optimized performance and reduced noise, vibration and harshness in the vehicle and driveline.”
“Electronically beamsteering radar will fundamentally change the way automakers think about sensors and their ADAS fusion,” said Tony Cannestra, director of Corporate Ventures at DENSO, who went on to say, “and Metawave has a head start in solving this complicated problem with a robust and modular technology platform.”
DENSO just lead the initial Series A funding for Metawave, a Palo Alto-based company that is developing what it says is “the first advanced analog beamsteering radar system.”
The SPEKTRA radar system, working with the AI system Metawave has also developed, named AWARE, is able to be able to precisely identify objects, vehicles at a range of 350 meters or more and pedestrians at some 200 meters.
Metawave says that its radar system can be used for adaptive cruise control, lane change assist and automatic emergency braking, and that it is operative under less-than-ideal climactic conditions.
It is worth noting than in Metawave’s initial funding round, which DENSO also participated in, Toyota, Hyundai and Infineon were among the investors. That round raised $17 million.
DENSO’s Cannestra, who is also on the company’s board, said, “We’ve been working with Metawave since its founding and are continually impressed with the innovation the team can deliver.”
It is interesting to note that not only is the company pursuing an automotive track, but it’s also developing 5G platforms for high-speed communications, which its AWARE AI system is also being deployed with. Presumably, that could be combined with the automotive undertakings, say in the form of vehicle-to-infrastructure setups.
ŠKODA Teases Octavia
I recently had dinner with Kevin Kang, senior creative manager at Hyundai Design North America, and asked him what designers like when it comes to publications (digital and otherwise).
“We really like to see sketches of work other designers have done,” Kang answered.
The fourth-generation ŠKODA Octavia is going to be introduced on November 11. This “large compact car” has been in production for 60 years and is responsible for about a third of the company’s total sales, with approximately 400,000 per year being sold. It is the overall best-selling model in the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Finland, Hungary, Poland, Serbia and Belarus; the estate (a.k.a., wagon) body style, which accounts for about two-thirds of Octavia sales, is the best-selling estate in Europe.
As teasers, ŠKODA Design has released two sketches for the forthcoming Octavia. There is the instrument panel, which has a multilevel configuration, and the two-spoke steering wheel.
So for all of you out there who think like Kevin Kang (who, incidentally, worked on the interior of the soon-to-be-launched Hyundai Sonata). . .
Ram Truck chief exterior designer Joe Dehner talks about how they’ve developed the all-new pickup. “We’ve been building trucks for over 100 years,” he says. “Best I could come up with is that this is our 15th-generation truck.”
Topology optimization cuts part development time and costs, material consumption, and product weight. And it works with additive, subtractive, and all other types of manufacturing processes, too.
Although the RAV4 has plenty of heritage in the small crossover segment, competition has gotten a whole lot tougher, so Toyota has made significant changes to the fourth-generation model.