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Volkswagen to unveil zero-emission Multivan T17 today

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After a long teaser campaign, the new generation Volkswagen Transporter (T7) will be set loose on the Nurburgring, Germany, today, Thursday June 10, 2021.

Volkswagen says the all-new Multivan T7, built as 2022 model, will be more car-like than never by switching to the MQB platform.

The German automaker, according to Carscoops, has concentrated its efforts on hiding the Golf-like front end by making the headlamps look bigger than they are. The grille, logo and parts of the bumper are also under wraps, alongside the side window line, tailgate, roof-mounted spoiler and taillights

In its preview of the vehicle, the auto reviewer says, “In the Multivan – aka MPV – configuration, the 2021 T7 features three rows of seats and a clever table design on tracks that can be used in different ways. Things such as a modern infotainment system with a 10-inch display, shift-by-wire gear selector, and 360-degree cameras will be included.

“Built around the MQB platform that’s shared with a wide number of Volkswagen Group products, like the Golf Mk8, the T7 will launch with different powertrains. As usual, petrol and diesel units are understood to be part of the lineup.”

The all-new Multivan will get an eHybrid version from day one to denote its PHEV setup with an E-Mode that will offer zero-emissions driving for an unspecified range.

VW Commercial Vehicles doesn’t go too deep into details about the plug-in hybrid arrangement but we do know it will be linked to a dual-clutch automatic transmission as all T7 versions will come exclusively with the DSG. Another important detail revealed today is the Multivan’s front-wheel-drive configuration, which means the PHEV version lacks a rear-mounted electric motor.

The e-motor will work closely together with a turbocharged gasoline engine (TSI) for a plug-in hybrid setup likely adapted from the VW Golf eHybrid or the more powerful GTE. Expect the combustion engine to be a 1.4-liter unit since other VW Group products offered with a PHEV configuration have this four-cylinder engine. Relevant examples include the SEAT Leon e-Hybrid, Skoda Octavia iV, and the Audi A3 E-Tron.

VW Commercial Vehicles explains the lithium-ion battery pack sits within the van’s underbody to save up space inside the cabin and also to lower the center of gravity to improve handling. The charging port is located in the front fender on the right-hand side and owners will get a charging card to “fill up” the Multivan T7 at public charging points. In addition, wall boxes with fast-charging support are going to be available.

Based on the MQB platform, the T7 goes official sometime in June and will go on sale in Europe in the second half of 2021. Thankfully, the Multivan eHybrid will be available right away alongside conventional gasoline and most likely diesel powertrains. VW Commercial Vehicles will still offer the old T6.1-based Transporter as the workhorse is sticking around for a couple of years.

Sources: Volkswagen Commercial Services, Carscoops

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(Video) Toyota’s new robot takes selfies while cleaning office/home

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Toyota has developed a robot that can clean office equipment including reflective surfaces or do household chores and take selfie simultaneously.

Toyota has released a video demonstrating the robot wiping down tables and other surfaces while taking the video itself.

Vice President of Robotics at Toyota Research Institute, Max Bajracharya, said, “Training robots to understand how to operate in home environments poses special challenges because of the diversity and complexity of our homes where small tasks can add up to big challenges.”

Bajracharya’s team aims to develop robotic capabilities to amplify human abilities, so that machines can help out people in an aging society.

The development is considered a big step towards achieving that goal, according to engadget,com and MSN Auto,

The release of the friendly video was made to coincide with the National Selfie Day marked on Monday — a robot that wants to take selfies while it works around the house.

The unnamed machine is the latest step forward in the TRI’s robotics studies as engineers and far smarter minds work to teach the robot new skills, the firm says.

It also states, “Most robots are programmed to react to the objects and geometry in front of them” and can’t differentiate between an actual object and its reflection.

It notes that something as common as a drinking glass or a shiny toaster could prevent robots made to work in homes from doing their tasks properly.

The automaker also says it has overcome that problem by developing the novel training method allowing robots to “perceive the 3D geometry of the scene while also detecting objects and surfaces.”

In the video, one can see the robot move the cups out of the way to continue cleaning a surface.

All of this led to a breakthrough TRI calls “programmable data.” The robot can take synthetic data to recreate a situation and learn, rather than collect physical data for quite some time, and then practise a task.

This machine primarily focuses on cleaning and helping around the house, and that’s a goal for the firm.

The TRI says it is not in the business of building robots to replace human activities, but to help humans with tasks.

This, it stresses, is especially true for older folks who may need a hand with carrying groceries and those kinds of things. The robot will happily take a selfie while carrying out its tasks.

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Honda discontinues fuel-cell vehicle, Clarity

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Honda says it has stopped production of the Japanese market Odyssey minivan and Legend sedan due to low sale of the hydrogen vehicles.

A Honda official told Autoweek, “We discontinued the RLX after the 2020 model year, so we haven’t had it in the lineup for about a year now.”

Honda launched the Clarity six years ago, and even though it’s going away it has not ruled out working on more hydrogen technology in the future.

“The entire Clarity series played a valuable role in advancing Honda’s portfolio approach to electrification, which is an important aspect of our commitment to reduce CO2 emissions,” the official said.

The official also said, “Now, with a commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050, Honda has set a target to make 100% of our vehicles sales battery-electric or fuel-cell electric by 2040.

“We are evolving our strategy with a focus on increased application of our two-motor hybrid system to core models in advance of the introduction of our first volume BEV models in 2024,” Honda told us.

“Consistent with this strategy, Honda will conclude production of the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid and Clarity Fuel Cell in August 2021. This will ensure we have the Clarity Fuel Cell available for lease through 2022, and Honda will continue to support our Clarity customers in the marketplace.

The automaker noted that the fuel cell EV would play a key role in our zero emissions strategy, “which is being advanced by our joint manufacturing and development agreements,” Honda told us. “We continue to make significant investments in fuel-cell infrastructure and battery technology.”

To that end, Honda’s partnership with General Motors to develop fuel-cell vehicles and EVs is expected to continue.

The Clarity, Legend, and Odyssey were all built Honda’s Sayama plant, scheduled to close in March 2022.

The Clarity Fuel Cell was a lease-only car and it has been reported that a poor hydrogen refueling infrastructure contributed to slow demand for the model.

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BMW begins road tests of hydrogen EV X5

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BMW has begun real-world tests of its i-Hydrogen Next, an X5 paired with EV and hydrogen tech.

The BMW i Hydrogen Next is an all-electric vehicle fueled by the reaction of hydrogen and oxygen in a fuel cell. The German automaker firmly believes that hydrogen fuel cell technology can replace internal combustion engines, plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), and battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) as the future of mobility.

Toyota and BMW are collaborating on hydrogen cars, with BMW planning to launch the i Hydrogen Next in 2022.

The i Hydrogen Next will see limited production, as BMW plans to devote more energy to EVs in the coming years.

According to multiple sources including Overdrive and Slashgear, both online auto journals, the testing that began this week will aim to tune the software controlling the car’s driving and operating functions, the automaker has said, following static tests of the fuel cell system and hydrogen tanks.

BMW has been experimenting with hydrogen fuel cell technology for decades.

But BMW’s efforts in this field are still a few rungs below Toyota and Honda, which have already fielded hydrogen fuel cell cars.

“Hydrogen fuel cell technology can be an attractive option for sustainable drive trains – especially in larger vehicle classes,” says Frank Weber, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Development.

“That is why road testing of near-standard vehicles with a hydrogen fuel cell drive train is an important milestone in our research and development efforts.”

According to the automaker, hydrogen fuel-cell drivetrains could become an attractive alternative to EVs, but with a planned small-series production it’s not quite going all-in, unlike Toyota and a few other automakers that have marketed unique sedan designs for years.

BMW is also aiming to get practical experience using this drivetrain in real-world conditions.

The i Hydrogen Next will pair BMW’s eDrive technology already rolled out in vehicles like the iX3 with a hydrogen fuel cell technology developed along with Toyota—one of the other major players in this field.

The vehicle is largely based around architecture and technology borrowed from existing vehicles, rather than being a model developed entirely from scratch, which suits the model’s planned small-series production volume.

The SUV promises 374 hp—the same as the most powerful inline-six gas engine in the automaker’s lineup, as BMW points out.

“The energy stored in the performance buffer battery is generated in a particularly efficient way during driving by recovering energy from coasting overrun and braking phases,” the automaker said.

It also stated, “The hydrogen needed to supply the fuel cell is stored in two 700-bar tanks made of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP), which together hold six kilograms of hydrogen.

“Its precisely controlled reaction with oxygen in the fuel cell generates electricity, while water vapor is the only emission produced by the drive train.

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