Not too many people know automotive trends the way the staff does at The Ohio State University’s Center for Automotive Research (OSU CAR). This interdisciplinary research center at OSU’s College of Engineering focuses on advanced electric propulsion and energy storage systems, engines and alternative fuels, intelligent transportation and vehicular communication systems, autonomous vehicles, vehicle chassis systems, and vehicle safety.
“One of the biggest trends right now in automotive engineering is improving engine efficiency and fuel economy,” says Giorgio Rizzoni, director of OSU CAR. “This includes downsizing, down-speeding, direct fuel injection, and boosting.”
Other engineering trends focus on improving transmissions (adding speeds), accessory load reduction through the intelligent energy management of other vehicle components, vehicle electrification, hybridization, improved battery management systems, new battery chemistries, and power electronics.
“Weight reduction in vehicle subsystems is also being tested by using lightweight structures made from alternative materials such as aluminum, magnesium, composites, plastics, and multi-material construction,” adds Rizzoni.
Battery management systems are being designed to meet performance, life, and warranty goals for both batteries and their monitoring and management systems. “Automakers need to fully understand how varying operational limits affect the life of battery systems through extensive testing and modeling, followed by developing sophisticated algorithms to track and predict various parameters, such as state of charge and state of health through the life of the battery,” comments Rizzoni.
In order to expand battery operating range and reduce costs, some researchers are designing and testing new battery chemistries and subsystems. Advanced chemistries could allow batteries to operate through greater temperature extremes, last longer, and reduce weight and cost. Other efforts are being made to reduce the cost of the ancillary systems, such as cooling, to further reduce the total cost of the battery system.