Although it took a few days, the effects of Hurricane Harvey are finally beginning to be felt at the pump. The price for a gallon of regular unleaded fuel hit $2.45 on average, the highest recorded price so far this year according to the Automobile Association of America. The average price was only $2.37 three days ago.
The last time the national average price was in this range was August 2015, when the average price was $2.50. The price of a gallon of gasoline in February 2016 was $1.70.
The reason for the dramatic increase isn’t a decrease in inventory, however. It’s mostly fear. Oil markets are typically jittery and a major event such as Hurricane Harvey is enough to set off a short-term spike.
In some parts of Texas, however, it’s the drivers who are jittery as hundreds of filling stations have run out of fuel not due to a widespread gasoline shortage but a delay in production due to Harvey. GasBuddy, a company that tracks such information, reported that 123 stations in San Antonio were out of fuel as of Thursday at 6:30 p.m. local time. Some filling stations in the Dallas/Fort Worth area were also out of fuel and many drivers, fearing a shortage, lined up to fill their tanks.
To counter any short-term shortage, the Department of Energy released 500,000 barrels of oil from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve while ten Gulf Coast refineries remain shut down and several refineries and pipelines are operating at reduced rates. In addition, refiners in the Northeast are offsetting the lack of supply from Gulf Coast refineries.
Meanwhile, the largest increases have been seen in South Carolina (19 cents), Delaware (18 cents), Kentucky (17 cents), Georgia, Missouri, and North Carolina (all 16 cents), and Maryland (14 cents).
(Photo: Accura Media Group)
Extending electric vehicle range is not all about the battery, says German supplier Bosch in revealing its new “e-axle.”
The new technology takes aim at incremental efficiency by integrating three powertrain components – motor, power electronics, and transmission – into one unit that saves weight, space, and cost.
The new powertrtain which Bosch predicts will be well received by major automakers is being touted as robust and versatile enough to be applied to EVs, hybrids, compact cars, SUVs, and light trucks.
Front- and rear-axle drive is possible and would be ideal for EVs and hybrids. It can also be applied to vehicles weighing up to 7.5 metric tons (16,534 pounds), which speaks to light-duty pickups, SUVs, vans, and a few medium-duty commercial vehicles.
The company said the new system can accelerate better and maintain high speeds longer than competitive technologies. This in turn improves motor and power electronics and extends range per charge.
E-axle is capable of delivering between 50 and 300 kilowatts. Torque at the axle can go from 1,000 to 6,000 Newton meters (737 to 4,425 pounds-feet).
EVs will be lightened with the e-axle able to deliver about 150 kW weighs only about 90 kilograms (198.4 pounds). Bosch said that weight is much less than the previous versions of the three components needed to run an electric drive train.
Bosch says it focused on improving electric motor and power electronics components, which in turn improved energy efficiency.
The e-axle has already been tested with a few customers. The German auto supplier plans to start mass production in 2019.
It’s being designed as compatible with global manufacturing specifications, and will also be customizable to all types of vehicles for quick integration into a vehicle manufacturer’s production process.
Bosch expects it to be a hit, already having supplied components to over 500,000 EVs and hybrids on roads around the world. The company expects sales to general billions in euros.
“With its e-axle, Bosch is applying the all-in-one principle to the powertrain,” said Dr. Rolf Bulander, member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH.
“Economically speaking, the e-axle may turn out to be a major coup for Bosch,” Bulander said.
Automakers and suppliers have for years been developing components that can make vehicles of all types more efficient, with lighter, smaller, long-range lithium-ion batteries having become the benchmark for EVs.
Companies such as Protean Electric, with its in-wheel electric motor, have had a slight presence in the market. Bosch may be in a better position to partner with automakers at mass scale for hybrids and EVs.
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Honda will take steps forward in its Electric Vision campaign at next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show with introduction of the Honda Urban EV Concept and CR-V Hybrid Prototype.
The battery reliant vehicles are part of Honda’s pledge to have electrified powertrains in two thirds of its European cars sold by 2030.
No photos have been released yet of the Urban EV Concept – just the teaser of the dashboard screen showing 80 percent charge completed. It is expected to be a small EV, ideal for navigating through narrow, crowded streets of European cities.
It could be small crossover SUV, similar in design to the Honda Urban SUV Concept shown in 2013 at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto.
The only details released by Honda on the Urban EV Concept are that it will set the direction for a future production model, indicating it will be built on an all-new platform; and that it’s Honda’s first EV for Europe.
The company will also preview the European version of the refreshed CR-V crossover through the CR-V Hybrid Prototype.
The all-new 2017 Honda CR-V was launched for the U.S. market in October 2016. It’s been a strong seller for the automaker in global markets.
Honda will also display a new look for the Jazz, which is sold in the U.S. as the Honda Fit.
Another new model will be a new diesel-powered version of the tenth-generation Honda Civic. That indicates demand for diesel cars hasn’t gone away completely since the Volkswagen diesel emissions cheating scandal broke nearly two years ago.
The most telling aspect of the Frankfurt reveal is how similar Honda’s strategy is to that of German automakers. It has seemed to have notched the U.S. down a peg from its strategic market planning list, and this may have to do with the Trump administration’s expected softening of fuel economy and emissions rules and leaving the Paris climate accord.
Europe and China are staying with strict standards supporting EVs and eventually eliminating fossil-fuel powered cars.
In June, Nikkei reported Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo saying two new EV models will be coming out in 2018, one of them developed specifically for China.
The second model will be sold globally, he said. It could very well be the Honda Urban EV Concept designed for the European market.
In March, when Electric Vision was launched by Honda Motor Europe’s President and COO, Katsushi Inoue, the company statement said that “Europe is at the forefront of Honda’s global electric vehicle strategy.”
The only EV that Honda is selling now in the U.S. is the Honda Clarity BEV at very small numbers.
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