Albis Plastic (Hamburg, Germany) announced the development of a plastic solution for fuel-cell applications, which is currently being validated in projects with well-known OEMs. The validation process includes Albis’ technical compounds Altech, Alfater SL TPV, Tedur L PPS and Alcom, all of which can be adapted to customer-specific requirements.

Battery-powered cars are currently being introduced to the market on a large scale, such as the VW ID, Audi e-tron, BMW i3, Opel Ampera-e and Mercedes EQC models. Albis stated that it has no doubt that CO2 emissions can be reduced while driving these vehicles, provided the energy comes from renewable sources.

However, this technology poses a number of challenges that need to be addressed, added the company, including the procurement of resources, the maximum range per load and the associated duration of loading times.

Albis Plastic fuel-cell project
Fuel-cell systems require the use of numerous materials, including metals, plastics and sealing materials, in the fuel-cell core itself as well as the hydrogen, oxygen, air supply and cooling circuit. Image courtesy Albis Plastic.

“Hybrid solutions that combine battery and fuel cells are a promising solution here,” said Ian Mills, a member of the Albis Management Board and head of the Compounding business.

Fuel-cell systems require the use of numerous materials, including metals, plastics and sealing materials. These are used both for the fuel cell core itself, the so-called “stack,” and the hydrogen, oxygen, air supply and cooling circuit. They are also used in components such as pumps, valves, compressors, pipes and connectors.

Pollutants, such as volatile components or ions, can contribute to the degradation of the fuel cell through emissions and, thus, reduce its service life and performance by changing the surfaces of the “bipolar plates,” for example. These volatile components can migrate from the materials used in the individual assemblies of the fuel cell.

“The production of a fuel-cell system from completely emission-free components is almost impossible because of the large number of individual parts and attachments,” explained Thies Wrobel, Business Development Manager—Automotive. “Therefore, the materials used must be carefully examined for emissions.”

Another important factor is production of the materials in a consistent, reproducible process using the same raw materials in a clean production environment. Given these considerations and in cooperation with OEMs, Albis has developed materials that have been tested in cooling and air supply systems.

The materials include polypropylene compounds from the Altech PP portfolio with 20%, 40% and 50% glass fibers; PPS compounds from the Tedur L portfolio with 30% and 40% glass fibers plus 15% PTE (for bearing applications); and Alfater TPV, a peroxidically cross-linked thermoplastic vulcanizate with comparable properties to elastomer/rubber in Shore A 60 and 70 hardness (for sealing applications).

Additional compounds will be tested in the future at Albis’ laboratory on a specially installed test rig.


Crafting new ways to rapidly shift from fossil fuels to electrification, most critically in the transportation sector, may well be the biggest challenge mankind will ever face.

If engineers can develop novel solutions that reduce, then eliminate, both smokestack and tailpipe emissions, we will have a fighting chance against climate change. If the world’s engineers are not up to this challenge, we will need to shift our focus to re-engineering our buildings and infrastructure to cope with the negative consequences. Either way, this is a time for engineers like no other before, where practical skills and imagination have the potential to shift the fate of mankind.

Lucky for us all, clean energy technologies have advanced dramatically over the last decade. Most importantly, the cost of batteries has fallen dramatically, and materials science and improved battery designs are providing us newer, better-performing batteries each year. Improved, affordable battery systems will become the building blocks of dramatic new engineering opportunities. Better batteries drive more affordable electric vehicles, for example.

But EVs require ubiquitous public fast charging infrastructure to serve this transformation in time to make a difference.

In a utility world, where energy storage has never been cost effective, engineers designed an electricity system that delivered power “just in time” out of necessity. Now the distribution grid, heralded as the most complex feat of engineering in the twentieth century, must adapt faster and go further than it ever has before – moving beyond the controlling paradigm of just-in-time production and delivery. The grid must be redesigned to accommodate not only affordable, ubiquitous energy storage, but also a proliferating array of onsite energy technologies like solar, fuel cells, and DC fast charging.

The new engineering frontier will be out on the “edge,” where we will integrate onsite battery energy storage and mobile EV batteries with EV charging infrastructure, the distribution grid, and buildings. In the face of wildfires, hurricanes, and “rain bombs,” engineers are creating more efficient, cleaner energy solutions to achieve a new quality that we will be hearing more and more about in the next year: regional resilience, which is, “the toughness to bounce back from unexpected events.”

We can already see the patterns of change in North America, as geographic hotspots emerge. California has a front row seat to a 180-degree turnaround in historic utility reliability, as public safety power shutoffs (PSPS) curb the risk of devastating wildfires, but also leave thousands to millions of energy consumers in the dark for days.

In the Caribbean, along the Gulf Coast and up the Atlantic seaboard, regional economies are now hostage to recurrent devastation from increasingly powerful hurricanes, fueled by hotter ocean surface temperatures and new weather patterns. In 2017 Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria introduced us to rain bombs and the awesome destructive power of a Category 5 hurricane. Two years later, Hurricane Dorian pounded Grand Bahama Island for 51 hours, decimating the island community’s buildings and infrastructure.

What new solutions will meet the urgent needs for resilience? For power continuity? For decarbonization? We’ve never before contemplated such a failure of conventional power systems. Resilience has moved from a concept to a distinct reality and necessity.

Examining a new era

Our new era of extreme weather and advancing climate change is motivating us to design and engineer new power and transportation systems that are better suited to our new critical needs. And new technologies and innovative business models are providing us with the necessary tools. We’re embarking on a journey to transform our economies and societies more rapidly than ever before.

As an innovation thought leader and author in the electricity sector, I’ve spent my career trying to understand the bleeding edge. It’s been a challenge, and timing has been critical – too often I’ve been too far ahead and had to wait as institutions and markets caught up. But now technology, innovation, and urgency have converged, and the time is right like never before.

As a smart grid pioneer 15 years ago, I helped showcase new applications of IP networks and data inside electric utilities. As the smart grid matured and became a widely accepted business practice inside the utility sector, an array of new digital technologies became commonplace and more clean energy was able to integrate with the grid.

But progress was slow. With more clean energy, we’ve been able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel generation (i.e., “smokestack emissions”). Our grand clean energy transformation is well underway, but now it must dramatically accelerate to address climate change. We have to go much faster.

There are so many facets to cover, which converge on a wide area of new technologies and new approaches to energy and the environment. I see the landscape as an unfolding innovation spectrum, where I will explore different applications of innovative concepts. The need for pilots and demonstrations among transportation companies, electric utilities, and solution providers has never been greater. We’re rapidly entering a grand age of experimentation.

And nothing will be more important than design and engineering. In the coming months, we will explore and reimagine this area, repeating a pattern of analysis and synthesis, going back and forth in iterative waves. Drilling down on specific technologies and business model innovations will provide insights on new capabilities and possibilities. At the same time, moving back up to 50,000 feet will allow us to chew on the impact of such significant changes.

Energy and transportation are converging, creating a new emergent reality as innovation becomes better understood and more widely applied. Engineers will need to design novel solutions that master new tasks that were heretofore unimaginable, solve old problems that were previously unsolvable, and conquer new problems that still seem impossible.

I’m excited to begin this adventure with the readers of Design News in the weeks and months ahead.

DesignCon 2020 25th anniversary Logo

January 28-30: North America’s largest chip, board, and systems event, DesignCon, returns to Silicon Valley for its 25th year! The premier educational conference and technology exhibition, this three-day event brings together the brightest minds across the high-speed communications and semiconductor industries, who are looking to engineer the technology of tomorrow. DesignCon is your rocket to the future. Ready to come aboard? Register to attend!


VW’s ad agency, Doyle Dane Bernbach, earned great renown during the “Mad Men” era for the wit of its ads.

  • Volkswagen’s golden era of advertising by its New York ad agency of Doyle Dane Bernbach could be considered the ads that defined the era depicted by American Movie Classics’ Mad Men series. The clever ads employed humor and often went against conventional wisdom with their depictions of VW’s similarly iconoclastic products. VW remembers those ads, and if you do too, they offer a compilation of them in a book, “Remember those great Volkswagen ads?”

    The book promises more the 450 examples of the ads, but we’ll quickly review some of our favorites here.

  • Image source: Volkswagen

  • Image source: Volkswagen

  • Image source: Volkswagen

  • Image source: Volkswagen

  • Image source: Volkswagen

  • Image source: Volkswagen

  • Image source: Volkswagen

  • Image source: Volkswagen

  • Image source: Volkswagen

Dan Carney is a Design News senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.

A 2018 Toyota Camry being struck by the IIHS impact barrier. (Image source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

The introduction of a side-impact crash test by the Insurance Institute for Highway safety has been an absolute success in terms of vehicle safety, as only 20 percent of tested vehicles earned a “Good” score when the test launched in 2003. 

A study showed that drivers are 70 percent more likely to survive a left side impact in a car with a Good score compared to drivers in cars that were rated Poor, and today, 99 percent of tested vehicles earn a Good.

In this test, the Camry is struck by a Honda Pilot SUV, illustrating the differences between the impact barrier’s results and a crash with a real vehicle. (Image source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

Despite these improvements, side impacts continue to represent 23 percent of vehicle occupant fatalities in 2018, so the IIHS is developing a still-more stringent side-impact test in a bid to provide even better protection from collisions with the kinds of vehicles drivers are likely to encounter on the road.

That means more trucks and SUVs than were on the road in 2003. In recognition of that, IIHS is increasing the mass of the ram they use to crash into tested cars, from 3,300 lbs., which was a fair estimation of the average weight of cars in 2003, to 4,200, which is closer to the average weight of today’s vehicles. They are also increasing the impact speed from the current 31 mph to 37 mph to further stress the test cars’ protection systems.

This diagram illustrates how the SUV penetrates further into the Camry than the impact barrier. (Image source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

The combined effects of the higher speed and increased mass make this test much tougher, according to senior research engineer Becky Mueller.  “It may not seem like a big deal, but we’re looking at a test that has 82 percent more energy, so that is a lot to ask,” she pointed out.

IIHS senior research engineer Becky Mueller (Image source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

In developing and refining the updated test, the IIHS has conducted 25 side impact tests to study possible changes, and they plan another dozen or so before the specification is finalized, Mueller said.

These tests have been valuable, but they’ve revealed some incorrect expectations, so the process has run longer than was originally planned. “We expected this to take six months, and it has been a year,” Mueller noted. 

“Your engineering predictions didn’t result in what actually happened in the test,” she recalled. “Sometimes knowing what is going to happen, isn’t what has happened. So I’m using my engineering skills to see why it hasn’t gone as expected.” Far from a setback, Mueller and the IIHS view the test results as illuminating a better understanding of the process. “We as engineers always want something to keep our brains going,” she enthused.

The main takeaway was that the ramming barrier’s uniform aluminum honeycomb didn’t perform like a real SUV striking the test vehicle. Real SUVs have harder areas where the frame rails are, and these stronger points were penetrating the test cars’ sides and inflicting damage to the crash test dummies inside.

In recognition of this reality, IIHS is developing a new structure for its impact barrier that mimics the uneven stiffness of striking vehicles. “Our goal is to create a barrier that creates the same type of damage as a typical late-model SUV or pickup would in a 37-mph crash,” Mueller said. “That way, we can be confident that the changes automakers make in hopes of achieving good ratings in the new side test will result in better protection for vehicle occupants in real-world crashes.” 

The new impact barrier will still be made of aluminum honeycomb, as before. But now, instead of a solid piece of aluminum that is the same density, they will use multiple pieces of varying density, to imitate the variable stiffness at the front of striking vehicles.

A likely outcome of this more stringent test will be car makers adding torso-protecting side airbags for rear seat occupants, or enlarging the bags they already have there, Mueller predicted.

“Side protection is more challenging than front protection because in front protection you’ve got the whole engine bay to absorb energy and deflect impacts,” she observed.  Side airbags have only 4-6 milliseconds to respond to an impact, in comparison to a leisurely 40-60 ms in frontal impacts, according to Mueller. “And you have a lot less space to work with,” she added.

Current side air curtains are well-defined by regulations and they are doing a good job, Mueller reported. But the side torso air bags aren’t currently performing as well, especially for occupants of different sizes, so those airbags will probably get larger, she said.

Rear seat side air curtains like this one are doing a good job of protecting occupants’ heads. (Image source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

The IIHS will begin officially using the new test in 2020 and will issue scores for tested vehicles. However, it will be a couple years before they incorporate those results into their vehicle rating system, allowing manufacturers time to respond. “We typically give it a little time before applying those results to the ratings,” she explained.

Dan Carney is a Design News senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.


There’s a scene in the 2019 Child’s Play remake in which an elderly woman has her first experience in an autonomous car. Naturally, being a horror movie and all, everything goes terribly wrong – the car gets hacked by a killer Bluetooth-enabled doll (yes, that really happens!) and the woman winds up dead.

As farcical as that scene is it does play into to a very real concern around self-driving cars – consumer fear. It won’t matter if we reach full Level 5 autonomy if people are afraid to get into the cars. Even now, years – perhaps decades – before we’ll actually see a fully autonomous car on a public road, people are already concerned about how safe the vehicles are.

AAA has been surveying consumers about autonomous vehicles since 2016, and have never found the majority of people to be completely comfortable with the idea of a self-driving car.

In its latest survey. AAA found that 71 percent of US drivers are afraid of getting into a fully autonomous vehicle. That’s an eight percent increase from 2018 (63%).

Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations believes the sustained level of fear can be attributed to several highly publicized accidents involving autonomous vehicles, including an incident in Tempe, Arizona in which a self-driving Uber killed a pedestrian.

“Also, it could simply be due to a fear of the unknown. AAA’s research has found that the more exposure drivers have to similar types of technology such as advanced driver assistance systems, comfort level improves,” Brannon wrote in a press statement.

Speaking as part of a panel on autonomous vehicle trust at the recent Automobility LA conference Steve Koenig , VP of research at the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) said the future of consumer/autonomous vehicle relations lies in “two Es – education and experience.” He said this will be particularly important in the next two to three years as more innovations come to the market and commercial deployments take place.

Fellow panelist, Amitai Bin-Nun, VP of autonomous vehicles and mobility innovation at Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE), agreed:

“The first major grant to develop autonomous vehicles happened in 1983. What matters is not whether it hits the road in 2023 or 2030, but that it’s done in a responsible manner,” Bin-Nun said. “

AAA’s annual automated vehicle survey has consistently shown the majority of US consumers have a fear of self-driving cars. (Image source: AAA)

The big ‘why’ of Level 5

But is reaching Level 5 autonomy even necessarily, particularly given the fears and concerns around it? “What happens at Level 4 [autonomy] is that you start opening things up for the disabled, elderly, and others who can’t drive,” Bin-Nun said. “[AVs] need to be implemented in a way that solves problems and creates value. AVs by themselves don’t’ solve [traffic] congestion, for example, but they do things that are very helpful.”

“We have the ability to eliminate human driver error,” panelist Bert Kaufman, head of corporate and regulatory affairs at Zoox, a developer of AV technologies, said. “To get to trust you have to have safety. And there is an incredible safety opportunity with this technology.”

“AVs have a potential to change society in ways we haven’t seen,” panelist Steven Surhigh, vice president and general manager, cloud services for Harman International said.” There will be no need for parking lots and garages, for example. It allows you to change the dynamics of green space – creating businesses and jobs that we can’t even imagine yet.”

For Surhigh the real question is, “How do we make it so consumers don’t think about whether they trust the vehicle or not?” Harman International, a subsidiary of Samsung, develops connected electronics technologies for the automotive industry. In his work Surhigh says he encourages companies to focus on “experiences per mile” when examining consumer experience with AVs. The idea is to provide consumers with such an immersive, entertaining, or productive experience in the vehicle that issues of trust fade into the background.

“There has to be a benefit to the rider in terms of productivity or entertainment,” Surhigh said. “In a fully autonomous vehicle we can leverage things like augmented reality to create unique experiences. We can create unique and personalized experience in vehicles beyond just something you can do in your couch.”

Cases like what Surhigh is talking about are already happening with traditional autos. This past Halloween, Universal Studios theme parks partnered with holoride, an immersive entertainment company, to create an attraction that combined VR with a 2020 Ford Explorer to create a virtual haunted hayride-like experience.

holoride turns vehicles into moving theme parks using VR. Could attractions like this ease consumer worries about autonomous cars?

Riding the curve

If there is a silver lining to AAA’s survey, it’s that it does show consumers aren’t opposed to being better educated about autonomous vehicles.

“Despite fears still running high, AAA’s study also shows that Americans are willing to take baby steps toward incorporating this type of technology into their lives,” AAA’s Brannon said in a press statement. “Hands-on exposure in more controlled, low-risk environments coupled with stronger education will play a key role in easing fears about self-driving cars.”

AAA’s findings fall in line with similar discoveries made by the CTA. “At the CTA we do a lot of research and a lot of this is grounded in sentiments,” Koenig said. “Typically, the adoption curve is S-shaped – where there’s some inflection point that causes the market to grow. Where are we now with AVs? We’re in this very beginning stage.”

Koenig said CTA’s research has shown more than any particular technology it will be helping consumers understand the “why” that really pushes consumers towards AVs. “There are key ingredients like 5G, but the consumer doesn’t care about a lot of these nitty-gritty details. When you talk about trust it really comes around to educating people about the benefits of autonomous vehicles.”

He continued: “We ask consumers,’Would you ride in a self-driving vehicle?’ and they say, no. Why? Because they don’t understand what it is or the use case. But when we talk about it in terms of the benefits – what if it could save time; reduce accidents? – we see a vast majority endorsement of these benefits.”

The technologies behind , from artificial intelligence to 5G connectivity, are going to continue to roll out and improve. What’s going to be crucial for consumers in many experts’ minds is how those initial rollouts are handled – even if they are small and limited in scale.

“We talk about getting autonomy on the road; it’s about doing it in a judicious manner. OEMs are looking to make sure it’s done right and done safely,” Harman’s Surhigh said. “Getting from Level 3 to 4 means the whole system has to come together. And how the vehicle communicates with the occupants is an important factor.”

“We can’t let fear be the enemy of good,” Koenig added. “The AI will improve; services will get better. Very soon, as 5G networks start to build out and more in-car experiences happen, these solutions will start to take their place in that multimodal mosaic of transportation options.

“It’s going to be baby steps…We need to build trust around these initial experiences. It is still true today that word of mouth is the real gold in marketing.”

Chris Wiltz is a Senior Editor at  Design News covering emerging technologies including AI, VR/AR, blockchain, and robotics.

DesignCon 2020 25th anniversary Logo

January 28-30: North America’s largest chip, board, and systems event, DesignCon, returns to Silicon Valley for its 25th year! The premier educational conference and technology exhibition, this three-day event brings together the brightest minds across the high-speed communications and semiconductor industries, who are looking to engineer the technology of tomorrow. DesignCon is your rocket to the future. Ready to come aboard? Register to attend!

Bridgestone off-road tires, like this Firestone Destination M/T made at the company’s Aiken, S.C. plant, are candidates to be made with a blend of recycled carbon black. (Image source: Bridgestone Americas)

Carbon black, the sooty by-product of incompletely oxidized petroleum that is used to reinforce the rubber in tires, is such a sought-after commodity that Bridgestone Americas, Inc. expects demand to outstrip supply.

To ensure the supply of carbon black so that it can keep making tires and as a step toward Bridgestone’s commitment to cut its carbon footprint in half by 2050, the company has started blending in recovered carbon black extracted from worn-out tires for use in its new tires.

Delta-Energy Group recovers the carbon black from this crumb rubber of old tires. (Image source: Bridgestone Americas)

Bridgestone started looking at the Delta-Energy Group, LLC’s work in this area starting in 2007, and the companies became partners on the project in 2014, with the goal of promoting industrial-scale recycling, or a “circular” economy.

“Bridgestone Group is deeply committed to advancing an environmentally sustainable society by supporting a truly circular economy,” said Nizar Trigui, chief technology officer, Bridgestone Americas, Inc. “Through this partnership with Delta-Energy Group, we hope to shape the future of our industry and ensure efficient mobility solutions for generations to come.”

Firestone agricultural tires like these will start using recovered carbon black. (Image source: Bridgestone Americas)

Extracting carbon black from old tires provides an 81 percent reduction in CO2 versus creating new virgin carbon black, Bridgestone reports.

The partners have understood the fundamentals of recovering carbon black and re-using it in new tires for a while, but the nitty gritty details have needed sorting out to ensure that the performance and wear characteristics of the new tires with recycled carbon black are exactly the same as those made only with so-called virgin carbon black made directly from petroleum.

Jamie McNutt, Technical Fellow for Bridgestone’s Product Development Group (Image source: Bridgestone Americas)

In the early days, the recovery process charred the old tires so totally that it there wasn’t much left of value, noted Jamie McNutt, Technical Fellow for Bridgestone’s Product Development Group. “The original materials were burned to the point it didn’t have any reinforcement left in the material,” she recalled. Because reinforcement is the purpose of adding carbon black to tires’ rubber, that meant the recovered material was not useful.

Since then Delta-Energy has shifted to a low-oxygen pyrolysis process that minimizes the burning and retaining more of the structure, McNutt said. So far, Bridgestone has bought the equivalent of 70,000 recycled tires worth of carbon black from Delta-Energy, while verifying the correct ratio of recovered carbon black to virgin in the agricultural and passenger car tires where it will be used.

The blend turns out to be about 80 percent virgin and 20 percent recycled carbon black, reports Jon Kimpel, Executive Director of Bridgestone’s New Mobility Solutions Engineering. The material will be used in the tires’ sidewall inner liners, not in the tread area, he added.

The goal is to recycle two million tires to recover and re-use their carbon black in 2020. “As Delta-Energy[’s capacity] grows, that will allow us to grow as well,” he said.

In contrast, the overall tire industry will be facing price increases and availability constraints for virgin carbon black due to tightening regulations that make it difficult for those suppliers to expand production, according to Kimpel. “Supply is not going to be able to keep up with the pace of product.”

Bridgestone makes a lot more than two million tires each year, so the recycling program won’t make the company’s operation fully “circular,” that is a very significant volume. “We’re really proud of what we’re doing,” Kimpel said, “not only in recovered carbon black, but in sustainability overall. It is a good first step.”

Dan Carney is a Design News senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.


New off-roaders star in this year’s LA Auto Show.

  • The 112th annual Los Angeles International Auto Show showcased an array of new models that focused on electrification and the SUV market in particular. Lexus ensured their was a zoomy new convertible sports car, but overall the theme was of practicality. 

    Although some big announcements occurred off-site, the timing and location of the Land Rover and Tesla reveals made them part of this year’s auto show. These are our 10 favorites from the 2019 edition of the LA Auto Show.

  • Aston Martin DBX

    At 106 years, Aston Martin is nearly as old as the LA Auto Show itself. But the DBX marks the marque’s first entry into the SUV class. Propelled by a 542-horsepower, twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 sourced from Mercedes’ AMG division, the DBX rockets to 60 mph in less than 4.5 seconds and reaches a top speed of 181 mph. Pricing starts at $189,900, with deliveries scheduled for the second quarter of next year from Aston’s new factory in Wales.

    (Image source: Aston Martin)

  • Audi e-tron Sportback

    Audi is expanding the family of the e-tron crossover SUV we recently tested, introducing the Sportback as a sleeker, sportier version of the same vehicle. The Sportback’s racy lines contribute to an amazing 0.25 coefficient of drag, which aids the Sportback’s estimated 277-mile driving range per battery charge. The improved aerodynamics compared to the regular e-tron we drove adds another six miles of range just by slipping through the air more efficiently, according to Audi.

    (Image source: Audi) 

  • Hyundai RM19

    Hyundai reminded us that there is a future for non-SUV models with the RM19 concept. While it looks like a modified Hyundai Veloster, the RM19 has a mid-mounted 390-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine driving the rear wheels through 6-speed sequential gearbox rather than a transverse front-drive arrangement. Incredibly, Hyundai said that the company is gauging interest from customers and is considering selling this thinly veiled rally racer to the public. We can’t wait!

    (Image source: Hyundai) 

  • 2021 Kia Seltos

    Kia previewed the 2021 Seltos compact SUV by showing it in X-Line Trail Attack concept form at the LA Auto Show. It enjoys a two-inch lift and rides on 17×8-inch wheels with knobby tires for 9.2 inches of ground clearance. The production model is scheduled to arrive in the first quarter of 2020, with a turbocharged 175-horsepower 1.6-liter engine and 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.

    (Image source: Kia) 

  • 2020 Land Rover Defender

    The Defender is Land Rover’s signature model, so its return to the lineup is overdue. It rolls on an all-new aluminum chassis that is unique to this model rather than one shared with the Discovery and other Land Rovers. Just as importantly, the new Defender includes an entirely new electrical architecture to support a variety of modern electronic technologies, and, unlike its mechanical underpinnings, it will share this Electrical Vehicle Architecture 2.0 technology with its stablemates over time, as they get upgraded.

    (Image source: Land Rover) 

  • Lexus LC500 Convertible

    The Lexus LC500 coupe is one of the most attractive cars on the road today, so the new LC500 Convertible is an obvious extension to the line that should appeal to sun lovers. With the roof removed, structural rigidity is reduced. Test driver Scott Pruett told Design News that he worked extensively with Lexus to tune the suspension accordingly, with the goal of making the convertible the perfect Pacific Coast Highway cruiser rather than a race track bruiser.

    Lexus says we can expect the LC’s handsome folding canvas roof to open in 15 seconds and close in 16 seconds. We think that during cloudbursts, drivers will wish those numbers were reversed.

    (Image source: Lexus)

  • Mercedes EQC

    Mercedes-Benz launched its “EQ” line of electric vehicles with the EQC, a compact crossover slated to arrive early next year. It packs a 402-horsepower all-wheel drive system that lets it sprint to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds. There are no driving range estimates yet for the the 80 kilowatt-hour battery pack. Starting price is $67,900

    (Image source:  Mercedes-Benz)

  • Vision Mercedes Simplex

    The Mercedes-Benz Vision Simplex concept is a tribute to the 1901 Daimler 35 PS, a race car that was the first to carry the name of Mercedes Jellinek, daughter of an important Daimler advisor and client. A video display takes the place of the original car’s radiator, highlighting the fact that the Vision Simplex is an electric runabout. It shows animations indicating the vehicle’s status.

    (Image source:  Mercedes-Benz)

  • Tesla Cybertruck

    Tesla CEO Elon Musk has made characteristically bold claims for the Cybertruck’s price, shipping date, and capabilities, but the angular machine certainly breaks the mold of pickup truck expectations with its unusual shape. Musk promises a 500-miles electric driving range, 3,500-lb. payload, and sub-2.9-second 0-60 acceleration, with a base price of $39,900. Production is scheduled for “late 2021.”

    (Image source: Tesla) 

  • Volkswagen ID VIZZION

    Volkswagen has bet on a future based on its modular electrical toolkit (MEB) platform, which company CEO Scott Keogh said will underpin roughly 20 million vehicles by 2029. The ID VIZZION crossover concept is the version that will come to the US. Using an 82-kilowatt-hour battery pack, the ID VIZZION slices through the air with just a 0.24 coefficient of drag, permitting a driving range of 300 miles. In its 335-horsepower all-wheel drive form, the ID VIZZION acclerates to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds. Look for a production version in 2021.

    (Image source: Volkswagen)

Dan Carney is a Design News senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.


Predicting human movement, five-minute EV charging, and enhanced sensing all all a part of this latest crop of automotive startups reshaping the industry.

  • While the timeline for deploying fully autonomous vehicles keeps getting readjusted, that hasn’t slowed growth in the automotive startup ecosystem. While companies are still working toward the goal of level 5 autonomy many others are tackling challenges around electric vehicles, cybersecurity, processor hardware, and other pain points in the automotive industry.

    Meet 10 of the newest automotive startups who are already having an impact on the auto industry that are likely to continue there momentum well into 2020 and beyond.

  • Acerta

    Canadian startup Acerta’s mission is to provide automotive OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers with data-driven insights to improve product quality at every stage of the design and manufacturing lifecycle. The company’s Acerta Cortex is a data solution specifically designed for the automotive industry.

    Cortex transforms any existing storage structure into a smart data hub that allows for a wide range of machine learning solutions to be implemented in a single framework. The company says, Cortex “ eliminates data silos, increases data discoverability, and reduces data management overhead” without the need for labor intensive data engineering.

    (Image source: Acerta)

  • Chanje

    California-based Chanje is a new addition to the electric trucking space. The company manufactures vehicles dedicated to the “last mile” of delivery – where packages and goods go from the distribution center to their final destination.

    Chanje’s V8100 (shown above) is a fully-electric, medium-duty, panel van with a 150-mile-per-charge range and 675 cubic feet of storage, capable of carrying up to a 6,000-lb payload.

    (Image source: Chanje)

  • GBatteries

    Canada’s GBatteries is working on major obstacle for electric vehicles – charging times. Gas engine vehicles are way less green, but it certainly doesn’t take hours to fill your gas tank.

    GBatteries is using a combination of software and hardware to drastically reduce vehicle charging times down to as fast as five minutes. Using hardware, along with AI that generates complex charging pulse profiles based on real-time monitoring and analysis of a battery’s internal state, GBatteries is developing a means of charging off-the-shelf lithium-ion batteries as quickly as filling up a tank of gas.

    (Image source: GBatteries)

  • GuardKnox

    Israel has become notorious for producing companies with a novel approach to cybersecurity, and GuardKnox is no exception. The automotive cybersecurity company has taken technology used to secure Israeli fighter jets and ported it over to automotive. GuardKnox produces an electronic control unit (ECU) it calls the Secure Network Orchestrator (SNO) that protects each layer of a vehicle, from its keyless entry to infotainment system, and more, from cyberattacks. GuardKnox says its SNO can be implemented by OEMS, Tier 1’s, and even in the aftermarket.

    (Image source: GuardKnox)

  • Humanising Autonomy

    The challenge with pedestrians is they don’t ever behave the way you want or expect. UK and Detroit-based startup, Humanising Autonomy is leveraging AI to go one step beyond detecting pedestrians to actually predicting their behavior. The company says it has trained AI

    to make culture and context specific predictions. Someday autonomous cars will not just recognize pedestrians at a crosswalk, but also anticipate whether they may dart out into the street unexpectedly or aren’t paying attention to traffic.

    Humanising Autonomy was the winner of the Automobility LA’s 2019 Top Ten Automotive Startups Competition

    (Image source: Humanising Autonomy)

  • Silicon Mobility

    Silicon Mobility is a French startup that creates semiconductors targeted at the automotive industry – specifically for energy efficiency and reducing emissions. The company’s OLEA field programmable control unit (FPCU) is designed for next-generation electric and hybrid electric vehicles. Combined with the company’s own software stack, Silicon Mobility’s FPCU’s can control vehicle’s motors, battery charging, and power conversion systems. The company says its products can help auto manufacturers increase the range of electric vehicles and also reduce pollutant emissions of hybrids.

    (Image source: Silicon Mobility)

  • StreetScooter

    Given it’s name you might think that StreetScooter was out to compete with the likes of Bird and Lime. In reality the German startup produces electric delivery vehicles ranging from vans to small trucks for various commercial and municipal applications. The company’s Work L truck (shown) features a 43 KwH lithium-ion battery and a 68 kW motor capable of up to 92 horsepower. The truck’s box can also be customized and configured depending on its type of cargo. The company says it currently has more than 12,000 vehicles in daily use throughout Germany.

    (Image source: StreetScooter)

  • TriEye

    Israeli startup TriEye is a semiconductor company tackling the challenge of low visibility for autonomous vehicles and ADAS. The company’s Raven camera is a CMOS sensor based, shortwave infrared (SWIR) camera that can capture HD images under all weather and lighting conditions while still remaining cost effective. TriEye says its camera technology is algorithm agnostic and can be implemented into exists ADAS and autonomous vehicle architectures.

    (Image source: TriEye)

  • TuSimple

    San Diego-based TuSimple has had a very big year. In 2019 both the USPS and UPS signed on to conduct pilot programs using the company’s technology. TuSimple uses a combination of cameras and computer vision to convert long-haul trucks into level 4 autonomous vehicles. If the company’s momentum continues through 2020 it’s trucks could find their way into a variety of industries.

    (Image source: TuSimple)

  • Wunder Mobility

    Germany-based Wunder Mobility is all about mobility software. The company produces app-based platforms that help businesses and cities build and scale their mobility services. Essentially, rather than having to create a mobility platform from scratch, a vehicle maker can use Wunder Mobility’s app to create their own custom solution. Think of it as an app builder or template – but for automotive fleets, e-scooters, bikes, or other vehicles. The company says its platform is deployed in more than 100 cities across five continents.

    (Image source: Wunder Mobility)

Chris Wiltz is a Senior Editor at   Design News  covering emerging technologies including AI, VR/AR, blockchain, and robotics.


Despite some speed bumps in the automotive sector, the global plastic injection molding market is poised for sustained growth, according to Saipriya Iyer, Research Content Developer at Global Market Insights (Selbyville, DE). The market research and management consulting company has published a report on the global injection molded plastic market, which can be purchased on its website. Iyer shared some key insights from her research with PlasticsToday.

  • The global plastic injection molding market is expected to reach a value of $345 billion by 2024. Key sectors contributing to this growth are automotive, driven by lightweighting to improve fuel efficiency and electric vehicle range; packaging, including thin-wall and rigid bulk products; and electronics, where plastic injection molding results in consumer-friendly designs and lower production costs.
  • China’s market for plastic injection molding is expected to grow at 6% through 2024. The continued building spree and norms supporting sustainable construction contribute to this growth.
  • The German market, which was valued at $11 billion in 2018, is expected to reach $14.5 billion by 2024. The automotive sector historically has been a big customer of injection molding services, but it is currently in a down cycle.
  • The automotive sector typically is one of the prime, revenue-generating end markets for injection molders in Germany and elsewhere, but economic factors and technological change are affecting that dynamic. Slumping demand in China, emissions-related issues in Europe and a shifting trend toward electric cars are conspiring to drive down global demand. Germany saw an approximate 12% decline in car production in the first half of 2019. Although new car sales have declined from historic highs in the United States, the country remains a bit of an economic oasis in the world, and that has propped up vehicle sales in 2018, which grew 0.3% over the previous year.
  • Stringent regulations regarding CO2 emissions in Europe will saddle carmakers with an additional expense of approximately €1000 per vehicle to comply with the new standards. But demand for injection molded plastic parts will continue to grow, as automotive OEMs seek to improve fuel efficiency through lightweighting. Molded plastic parts are widely used throughout automobiles, from wiring harnesses and light covers to dashboards and door handles.
  • The adoption of electrical vehicles is likely to increase at a rapid rate by the year 2030. Companies such as Tesla are witnessing double-digit growth in terms of revenue. The company’s Model 3 was ranked the best-selling electric car in 2018, followed by Model X (ranked fourth) and Model S (fifth). The company reported revenue growth of 82.5% in 2018 as compared to 2017. Electric vehicle sales volumes are creating significant profit pools for upstream players and distributors: Sales of electric vehicles grew to more than two million units globally, 63% year-on-year growth but a market penetration rate of only 2.2%.


Ford has stretched the definition of what Mustang means from the very beginning.

  • Corners of the internet reacted with dismay to Ford’s introduction of the Mustang Mach-E electric crossover SUV. But Ford’s history with Mustang is one of experimentation, testing boundaries, and most significantly, of pioneering new market segments.

    So the Mach-E is in keeping with those components of what Mustang has meant historically. After considering the longstanding malleability of what “Mustang” means, maybe the question we should be asking when looking at the Mach-E is, “What does SUV mean?”

    Click through to see some of the Mustang ‘rules’ Ford has bent or broken over the decades.

  • Rule #1: Mustangs have the engine in front. 

    The 1962 Mustang I, 1967 Mach II and 1993 Mach III concepts all illustrate Ford’s exploration of the idea of a mid-engine sports car Mustang.

    (Image source: Ford Motor Co.)

  • Rule #2: Mustangs have a back seat.

    This 1964 clay model shows Ford’s examination of the original Mustang’s lines in a shortened, two-seat version. 

    (Image source: Ford Motor Co.)

  • Rule #3: All Mustangs have two doors.

    Ford also looked at squeezing an extra set of doors into the original Mustang to improve rear seat access. 

    (Image source: Ford Motor Co.)

  • Rule #4: Mustangs are sport coupes:

    Ford has noodled with station wagon versions of the Mustang, as shown with the 1966 concept (above) and the Mustang III study from the ’70s (below). 

    (Image source: Ford Motor Co.)

  • Rule #5: Mustangs have impractical little trunks.

    In 1974, Ford debuted the Mustang II hatchback, with voluminous storage space. 

    (Image source: Ford Motor Co.)

  • Rule #6: Mustangs have two expressive headlight ‘eyes’.

    As early as 1971, Ford looked at using hidden pop-up headlights on the Mustang. And the Fox body Mustang of 1979 debuted quad rectangular lights that ran until the car switched to styled aerodynamic lights. 

    (Image source: Ford Motor Co.)

  • Rule #7: Aspirational flagship Mustang models have V8 power.

    The Mustang SVO (Special Vehicle Operations) was the pinnacle of the Mustang line from 1984 through this 1986 model, and it featured a turbocharged four-cylinder engine as its powerplant in place of the traditional V8. 

    (Image source: Ford Motor Co.)

  • Rule #8: Mustangs have rear-wheel drive.

    As with the move toward turbocharged four-cylinder engines, Ford also wanted to move the Mustang to front-wheel drive. The company developed this contemporary front-drive sport coupe, complete with hidden pop-up headlights, to replace the Fox body Mustang of the 1980s, but ultimately debuted it as the 1989 Ford Probe instead.

     (Image source: Ford Motor Co.)

  • Rule #9: Mustangs have vertical tri-bar taillights.

    In a break from the past, the restyled 1994 Mustang debuted wearing horizontally oriented taillights. Fans revolted, and traditional vertical bars returned in 1995.

     (Image source: Ford Motor Co.)

  • Rule #10: Mustangs are svelte.

    The Mustang fastback of 1971-73 was so porky that it gained the nickname ‘bread van.” If a bread van can be a Mustang, so can a crossover SUV. 

    (Image source: Ford Motor Co.)


Dan Carney is a  Design News  senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.