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  • 10-Apr-2012 02:54 EDT

Powertrain Innovation Requires Infrastructure Innovation!

Who are the people who know the most about the buses in your fleet? They are most likely the operators and the servicing technicians. They are also the key people whose knowledge, level of training and attitude can determine the success or failure of new powertrain technologies. Training and recruitment of both need to be held to a higher standard than we have seen in the past. I will argue that even the culture of those involved in fleet operations needs to be changed. The bar for technical competence and product knowledge needs to be raised for operators and technicians. In return managers should find ways to include them as stakeholders, investing them with both additional responsibility and accountability. This will require greater access to training and recognition of achievement. Where are the busses stored and serviced? Most likely in an all-purpose state/county/municipal service facility servicing a variety of equipment. We have decades of experience and training dealing with a liquid fuel (Diesel) with relatively low volatility. But gaseous fuels are a game changer and they come with a new set of regulations and procedures. For example, CNG is lighter than air so ignition sources must be removed from shop ceilings, whereas Autogas is heavier than air and will fall to the floor when released. Will your shop service both fuel systems? And then there are hybrid/electric powertrains with their own suite of codes and standards! In this segment we will investigate these topics in detail so that your consideration of new drive systems is not based solely upon the vehicle. I will advocate a holistic approach to powertrain innovation that includes changes required for both your people and your facilities.

Rich Cregar, Wilson Community College

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The Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team of Virginia Tech participated in the three-year EcoCAR Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition organized by Argonne National Laboratory, and sponsored by General Motors and the U.S. Department of Energy. The team established goals for the design of a plug-in, range-extended hybrid electric vehicle that meets or exceeds the competition requirements for EcoCAR. The challenge involved designing a crossover SUV powertrain to reduce fuel consumption, petroleum energy use, regulated tailpipe emissions, and well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions. To interface with and control the hybrid powertrain, the team added a Hybrid Vehicle Supervisory Controller, which enacts a torque split control strategy. This paper builds on an earlier paper [1] that evaluated the petroleum energy use, criteria tailpipe emissions, and greenhouse gas emissions of the Virginia Tech EcoCAR vehicle and control strategy from the 2nd year of the competition.
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