Powertrain Tech Dominated This Year’s JSAE

YOKOHAMA, Japan – It was decidedly upbeat at Japan’s edition of the Society of Automotive Engineers Exhibition (JSAE) held here earlier this year, where suppliers showed off new technology and in some cases revealed bullish predictions for sales growth.

Aisin AW, Japan’s largest producer of automatic transmissions, is projecting increases in sales of both CVTs and conventional automatics, with global volume seen rising to 7.9 million units in the current fiscal year combined, from 6.9 million in fiscal 2014.

Aisin also sees growth in the manual-transmission sector, projecting sales of 1.6 million units this fiscal year, compared with 1.4 million last year.

On the Aisin stand was a new 6-speed manual developed for an unspecified front-drive CUV and rated at up to 332 lb.-ft. (450 Nm) of torque.

Denso, like Aisin a key Toyota supplier, presented its new “feedback” fuel-injection control system for passenger-vehicle diesels with ultra-high-pressure injection of 36,260 psi (250 MPa).

Key components include a solenoid injector employing Denso’s “i-ART” (Intelligent Accuracy Refinement Technology); a ceramic glow plug, ultra-high pressure pump; common-rail injector; newly designed air-flow meter and intercooler; and an array of sensors including air-fuel ratio, turbo pressure, coolant temperature, cam/crank-position and exhaust-gas temperature. The injector delivers nine injections per cycle.

Denso also reveals a motor-stator for small hybrid cars, lithium battery monitoring unit, current sensor, new and improved DC/DC converter that reduces conversion loss, electric compressor that boosts fuel efficiency nearly 20%, and power control unit for luxury hybrids that achieves 60% higher power density.

Calsonic Kansei, a core Nissan supplier, exhibits a thermal-management system, high-voltage water heater and power control module for future electric vehicles. The thermal-management system cuts heating power requirements 50%. Development of the unit is expected to be completed in 2018 to be followed by market introduction in 2020. The water heater is due on the market in 2018, and the power module, incorporating a downsized DC/DC converter and onboard charger, is scheduled to go on the market in 2019.

Hitachi Automotive presents a prototype hybrid/EV motor for C- and D-segment cars. Production startup is scheduled for 2019. Also on display at the Hitachi exhibit was a 410V inverter for both middle and high-power applications. The device incorporates direct water-cooling technology for the power module which contributes to reducing unit size and weight.

In addition, Hitachi exhibits a double-sided water cooling power module for hybrid, electric and fuel-cell vehicles and a new lithium-ion battery. The water-cooling module helps boost inverter power while reducing inverter cost by cutting thermal resistance up to 35%.

The Li-ion battery, the fourth generation, realizes power and energy density of 2.3 kW/kg and 144 Wh/kg. A new battery module, also on display, has an energy-density rating of 83 Wh/kg, up from the third generation unit’s 61 Wh/kg, and specific power of 5,000 W/kg, up from 3,000.

Hino Motors, Toyota’s truck-making subsidiary, made a presentation about its new plug-in hybrid bus which, in somewhat of a surprise move, incorporates a Li-ion battery from Hitachi Vehicle Energy and not Toyota’s main battery suppliers: Panasonic or Primearth EV Energy.

Powered by Isuzu’s J07E engine and a 175-kW motor, the bus lists for ¥60 million ($496,000). The truck maker plans to sell five units per year.

Toyota and Honda both displayed new engines. Toyota’s lineup included the new 1.0L 1KR-FKE produced by Daihatsu for the Passo; 1.2L 8NR-FTS for the Auris; 1.3L 1NR-FKE for the Vitz and 1.5L 2NR-FKE for Corolla.

Also displayed were the 2.0L 6AR-FSE, 1TR-FE and 8AR-FTS for the Camry, HiAce and Lexus NX200t, and 2.7L 2TR-FE for the HiAce.

Toyota will introduce 14 new engine variants by the end of this year. All run on the Atkinson cycle and incorporate high-speed combustion and cooled exhaust-gas-recirculation technology to improve fuel economy. All achieve thermal efficiency of an estimated 38%, equal to or higher than Toyota’s hybrid engines.

The 1.2L 8NR-FTS and 2.0L 8AR-FTS are the first in the automaker’s new downsized, turbocharged lineup.

Honda’s 1.5L VTEC Turbo engine, which replaces a 2.4L unit, produces 148 hp and 150 lb.-ft. (203 Nm) of torque.

Mitsubishi exhibits the main hybrid components featured in its Outlander Plug-In. Included in the list are the lithium battery module supplied by Lithium Energy Japan, the auto maker’s joint venture with GS Yuasa; the rear motor and front power-drive unit supplied by Meidensha; and the DC/DC converter and onboard charger from Mitsubishi Electric.

NTN displays an EV drive system, wheel-hub motor and rear-wheel independent steering system under development. The supplier currently provides the ball screw for the regenerative braking system adopted by Nissan for the Leaf EV and Fuga Hybrid.

Magna International exhibited an electric rear-axle drive system for hybrids that comprises a compact coaxial design integrating an electric motor, gearbox and disconnect unit. The unit produces 148 lb.-ft. (200 Nm) peak torque while operating at 12,000 rpm.

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