Caterham launches new technology business

Caterham Cars, makers of the legendary Seven, has released details of a standalone engineering business, Caterham Technology and Innovation Ltd. (CTI). The Company will be responsible for the development of a completely new line of affordable sportscars, drawing on the advanced technologies and materials from the Group’s Formula One and GP2 motorsport operations.

In addition to the next generation of Caterhams, CTI will undertake advanced projects for external companies operating within the automotive and aerospace sectors. The new business will focus on unique vehicle architectures, high performance engines, advanced materials and manufacturing technologies in association with the Formula One and GP2 race teams.

Ford reinvents door edge protectors

Once, long ago, people attached funny little bits of plastic to the edges of their car doors to stop them being chipped by garage walls and other cars (!).

Now Ford has invented a 21st-century electronic version of the door edge protector that automatically pops out when you open the door.

Ford door edge protector on Focus.

The system was designed by Ford at its Cologne facility and is making its début on the Focus as we speak.

Corona ignition system could replace spark-plugs

Federal-Mogul Corporation has announced a new ignition system for petrol engines that could offer an improvement in fuel economy, emissions and service life compared with conventional spark-plugs.

The Advanced Corona Ignition System (ACIS) is currently undergoing development with several customers. Federal-Mogul is claiming gains of up to 10 per cent. in fuel efficiency.

Corona ignition creates a significantly larger high-intensity plasma ignition source, spread throughout the combustion chamber, when compared to conventional spark ignition systems. The ACIS technology provides more thorough combustion and enables advanced combustion strategies like lean burn, highly diluted mixtures and very high exhaust gas recirculation (EGR). ACIS makes use of materials and design strategies that allow for high-volume production and for implementation on current and new engine architectures.

Federal-Mogul Advanced Corona Ignition System (ACIS).

ACIS uses a high-energy, high frequency electrical field to produce repeatable, controlled ionisation, creating multiple streams of ions to ignite the fuel mixture throughout the combustion chamber; conventional spark ignition creates only a small arc in the gap between the electrodes of a spark plug.

The new ignition technology also allows for more precise timing of the start of combustion than is the case with spark-plugs. ACIS generates rapid ignition and quick burning, ensuring greater conversion of the fuel energy to mechanical energy with the added potential for a reduction in engine cooling requirements.

Corona ignition provides higher energy than a spark-ignition system, accommodating different fuel characteristics.

Federal-Mogul Advanced Corona Ignition System (ACIS).

The two-piece igniter architecture allows engine manufacturers to replace traditional coil and plug systems with no impact on engine design or assembly. Eliminating the spark plug and its arc, ACIS eliminates the source of electrode erosion, the main cause of deterioration in a conventional spark-ignition system. This prolongs ignition system durability. ACIS also uses materials that are already proven in automotive applications.

Nissan moves to boost E.V. charging infrastructure

Nissan has teamed up with leading European utility and electrical vehicle supply equipment companies to speed development of cheaper, smaller quick-chargers for electric vehicle batteries, and to accelerate the installation of publicly-available quick-charge (Q.C.) points across Europe.

This agreement between Nissan, Circutor, DBT, Efacec, Endesa and Siemens is expected to result in a dramatic reduction in the price of the units — by over half, to under €10,000 — paving the way for businesses such as service stations, car-park operators and retail outlets to install quick chargers and run them profitably as a commercial enterprise.

Porsche opens clean new paint-shop

Porsche has opened a new paint-shop at its Zuffenhausen plant in northern Stuttgart.

The new workshop area, which was completed to coincide with the beginning of production of the new 911, is used to paint body-shells inside and out. This takes place in a totally dust-free environment: the plant is completely enclosed. At the same time, a new electrostatic paint droplet removal system and a wet-chemical exhaust air purification plant cut solvent and particulate emissions to a minimum. As a consequence, Porsche can dispense with the otherwise obligatory 60m-high paint exhaust air collecting stack on the new building. With 70 per cent. air recirculation, energy consumption is low.

Audi A1 electric concept

Audi’s latest and most unassuming electric might be small but it’s well packed with technology. We have seen plugless inductive charging before — we’re not fans of this type of system, to be frank — and braking by wire is familiar from the electric Mini, but steering by wire?

Aluminium and CFRP provide the greater part of the body, the result being a kerb mass of 1150kg. The coolant radiator is made from graphite foam.

Adaptive cruise control has been developed to provide a greater degree of autonomy for the car at low speeds, though the driver can intervene. Allegedly. The brightness of the tail-lamps is adjusted automatically according to prevailing visibility, which is detected by a sensor.


Flywheel hybrids for buses and cars

Flywheel hybrids are being tested in various different types of vehicles at the moment, with British transmission consultancy and CVT specialist Torotrak implicated in all of the prototypes. This one is an Optare bus, with Ricardo and Torotrak working as a consortium called Flybus. Ricardo supplies the flywheel.

Meanwhile a Jaguar equipped with a flywheel has achieved a fuel consumption improvement of 22 per cent. over a test cycle — known as ARTEMIS — designed to reflect real-life use. Over the NEDC, the improvement is estimated at 11 per cent. The Jaguar’s hybrid system was developed by a consortium of British companies working under the FHSPV banner — Flywheel Hybrid System for Premium Vehicles.


Jaguar Land Rover welcomes 336 new graduates

Jaguar Land Rover has appointed 336 new graduates, the largest single intake of graduates in the company’s history. They will spend two years developing their technical expertise.

In the last four years, Jaguar Land Rover has employed nearly 700 graduates, making the Company the highest ranking automotive manufacturer in the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers index.

Competition for the places was fierce, with over 8500 applications. In the coming months, the Company is set to launch its next campaign to find graduates for 2012.

NEW Škoda Mission L

Škoda will shortly be launching its replacement for the accomplished and successful Octavia. The new model is provisionally called Mission L, and will be sold in Europe, Russia and China. Each version will be slightly different; a saloon variant wil be sold in the Indian market.

Škoda Mission L.

Škoda has been talking a great deal about model offensives and expansion of late. Evidence for the latter includes Chinese and Russian production of the Yeti. Starting in late 2012, Škoda will manufacture the twin-clutch DQ200 transmission at its plant in Vrchlabí.

Volvo’s new architecture

All of Volvo’s new engine will have four cylinders, with the Company’s upcoming engine range being given the acronym of VEA: Volvo Environmental Architecture.

Volvo claims that the new VEA architecture reduces the number of unique parts by 60 per cent. The new power-trains are also up to 90kg lighter than the present ones, and fuel economy is improved by up to 35 per cent.

Modularity and compact transverse design make the new units suited to future electrification projects. Certain engines will gain added performance using hybrid or other new technologies, such as Volvo’s KERS flywheel drive, which is presently being tested on public roads. The KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) system captures braking energy in a flywheel that spins at up to 60,000rpm. This rotational kinetic energy can either accelerate the car or help to propel it once it reaches cruising speed. Volvo claims that the flywheel system offers the driver an extra 80PS (albeit briefly) while reducing fuel consumption by ‘up to 20 per cent.’ The flywheel drives the rear wheels of a car whose front wheels are driven by a conventional engine.

Volvo KERS flywheel module: carbon fibre flywheel on steel hub spins in vacuum. :More

Volvo will soon begin using a new vehicle architecture called SPA (Scalable Platform Architecture) to help improve economies of scale within the Company’s model range. SPA will allow most Volvo models to be built on the same production line irrespective of vehicle size and complexity. Upcoming SPA models are estimated to be 100kg-150kg lighter than current models of the same size. The new architecture allows electrification at all levels.

Volkswagen introduces cylinder shut-off

Those with very long memories might recall Alfa Romeo’s ‘modular’ Alfetta engine from the late 1970s. On light loads, the four-cylinder unit switched to two cylinders. And the occupants’ fillings were duly shaken out. The idea was quietly dropped.

But engine mounting technology has come some way in the last 30 years, as have the engines themselves. Volkswagen has duly reinvented the cylinder shut-off system, this time in a form that is workable. From the beginning of 2012, the system will be deployed on the Company’s 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine. Allegedly cylinder shut-off reduces fuel consumption of this engine by 0.4l/100km over the NEDC driving cycle; when a stop-start system is also specified, the total savings are said to be 0.6l/100km.

At 30mph, in third or fourth gear, claimed savings amount to nearly one litre per 100km. The new TSI engine will meet EU6 emissions standard.

Click on image for full-size image with captions.

Cylinder shut-off is active whenever the engine speed is between 1400rpm and 4000rpm and torque output is between 25Nm and 75Nm. This applies to nearly 70 per cent. of the mileage in the NEDC, though perhaps not on the road. As soon as the driver presses the accelerator pedal sufficiently hard, cylinders two and three are reactivated imperceptibly. The system takes its information from the accelerator pedal sensor to detect the mode of driving. If the driving exhibits a ‘non-uniform pattern’ — for example, while driving in roundabout traffic or in a sporty style on a country road — the shut-off functionality is automatically suppressed.

All in all, a clever and complicated way of failing to get petrol fuel consumption down to diesel levels. The Golf GT’s 160PS 1.4-litre TSI delivers 34.9mpg in the urban part of the NEDC; the GTD’s 170PS TDI offers 43.5mpg.

Fuel-cell Hyundai selected by E.C.

The Hyundai ix35 fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) has been selected by the European Commission-backed Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) to be used as a demonstration vehicle to test and promote hydrogen fuel cell technology in a normal road use.

The ix35 FCEV will be made available for Members of European Parliament, Commissioners, E.U. officials and other policymakers to test drive until March 2012.

Hyundai ix35 FCEV.

The decision moves Hyundai a step closer to the commercialisation of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles, which it intends to achieve by 2015. The ix35 FCEV débuted at the Geneva motor show in 2010; a substantial advance over the previous Hyundai FCEV — a version of the Tucson — it offers a 55 per cent. improvement in driving range and an 80 per cent. reduction in manufacturing costs.


Mazda CX5

We have long been admirers of Mazda’s CX-7 for its refinement, build quality and road manners. Now that excellent but rather big crossover is about to get a baby brother in the shape of the CX-5, due for launch in the U.K. next year.

Three engines will be offered — two diesel and one petrol — along with a choice of manual and automatic transmissions, both with six forward gears. The power-units carry Mazda’s ‘Sky Activ’ branding, meaning that they are slightly unusual: both petrol and diesel engines have a mechanical compression ratio of 14.0:1. The petrol engine is a two-litre unit offering 165PS, while two variants of the 2.2-litre diesel will be available, with 150PS and 175PS.

Mazda CX-5.

We will have more detailed information soon.

Subaru’s newcomers

Subaru has revealed a compact crossover, called XV, and is about to launch a new sports coupé — BRZ. A concept version of the coupé is making its début at the Los Angeles motor show as we write this, while the production version will be unveiled in Tokyo in December.

The XV offers a new flat-four petrol engine in 1.6- and two-litre capacities, and a reworked version of the existing two-litre boxer diesel. The petrol engines are of a longer-stroke design than their predecessors, though engine width has not changed. A chain-driven CVT called Lineartronic will be offered. The car sits on a 2635mm wheelbase (Octavia 2578mm, Mégane 2640mm) for an overall length of 4450mm.

Subaru XV.

Subaru’s compact BRZ coupé has been designed in collaboration with Toyota and styled at the latter’s European design studio, though the two versions will differ in detail. The coupé uses a classic front engine, rear drive layout. A new flat-four power unit has been developed specifically for the new car, and is mounted behind the front axle line; the Toyota version, called FT86, also uses the boxer engine. A low centre of gravity is promised. Production at Subaru’s Gunma plant in Japan is set to start in spring 2012.

Subaru BRZ Concept.
Length 4450 4135
Width 1780 1765
Height 1570 1565
Wheelbase 2635 2530
— front
— rear



Mercedes-Benz extends Nanoslide technology for mass-production

A friction-reducing technology called Nanoslide, previously used in AMG engines, has been extended for use in mass-production Mercedes diesel power-units.

In Nanoslide, twin-wire arc spraying is used to melt iron-carbon wires and spray them onto the cylinder surfaces of a lightweight aluminium crankcase with the help of a flow of gas. Very fine finishing of the resulting nano-crystalline iron coating creates an almost mirror-like surface with fine pores, which reduces friction and wear between the piston assembly and the cylinder wall.


Audi ‘downsizes’ V10 with TFSI V8

Audi’s familiar atmospheric V10, used in various forms in the Company’s ‘S’ models, has been replaced with a new twin-turbo V8. The new unit will be deployed, in two trims, in S6, S8 and S7 models

Among the new engine’s skills is cylinder deactivation: four of the eight cylinders cut out under part load. While owners of cars like the S6 might not care too much about the environmental effects of their motoring, the new engine boasts what has come to be the almost de rigeur one-quarter fuel saving over its predecessor.

As we have mentioned, there are two variants of the new power-pack: for for the S8 and one for the S6 and S7. The lesser version delivers a fraction less ultimate power and a little more torque than the old V10, though outputs are at much more sensible crankshaft speeds.


New Land Rover Defender for 2015

Land Rover’s Defender is very good at clambering around off-road, but its structural design is rooted too far into the past for it to be able to compete quite so effectively on cabin ergonomics or crash safety. And yet it has become an icon, and for this reason is difficult to replace.

But one way or another, Land Rover’s design team, led by Gerry McGovern, intends to deliver a replacement to management in time for production to start in 2015.

Land Rover DC100 concept.

The picture shows a concept called DC100, which was showed at Franfurt in September. It is not the new Defender, but a statement of purpose from the design team regarding how the new vehicle might look. Gerry McGovern describes the concept as ‘the beginning of a four-year journey to design a relevant Defender for the 21st century.’

We assume that the alloy wheels and ultra-low rubber will not be compulsory.

Toyota to race hybrid at le Mans

Toyota will compete in the 2012 le Mans 24 Hours race with a new car powered by a petrol hybrid powertrain. The chassis will be built to LMP1 specifications by Toyota Motorsport in Germany, with the engine produced by Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan.

Toyota also plans to enter other races in the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship. The race car will be rolled out early in 2012 for pre-season testing.

In August, Toyota set a new lap record for an all-electric car on the Nürburgring Nordschleife. The Toyota Motorsport EV P001, with an electric powertrain and Jochen Krumbach at the wheel, set a new lap record of 7'47.794", beating the previous lap recordof 9'1.338" by a convincing margin. The new lap record was set on road-legal tyres.

TMG electric vehicle
Length 4190
Width 1785
Height 1070
Wheelbase 2368
Motor Nm 800
Motor PS 380
Maximum rpm 5000
Battery type Li-ceramic
Battery V 520
Battery capacity 41.5kWh
Battery mass 350
Maximum speed 160
0-100km/h 3.9

Lithium-ceramic cells use a lithium anode with a lithium-conductive ceramic membrane. They offer the possibility of high specific energy and energy densities. Safety improvements have also been mooted.

The drivetrain was developed in collaboration with Rational Motion GmbH and Evo Electric Ltd.

Research aims to deliver E.V. power-management systems

New research into electric-vehicle (EV) charging systems could provide technology for electricity networks to use car batteries for storing excess power.


Kia Picanto NCAP safety issues

The new Kia Picanto has achieved a respectable four stars in its NCAP safety assessment, but was criticised in a number of areas. One aspect of the car that drew criticism was the lack of electronic stability control as a standard fitment in the entry-level mainland European-market version that was tested. Kia’s U.K. importers have been quick to point out that all British-market Picantos have ESP as standard equipment.

In the supermini category, the only models to have achieved five stars under the new rating system are the Suzuki Swift, Hyundai i20, Toyota iQ and Volkswagen Polo. Other five-star superminis were rated according to the pre-2009 system, which is not comparable.

Lamborghini attains ISO 50001

Automobili Lamborghini, based in Sant’Agata Bolognese, has become the first Italian car manufacturer to be awarded ISO 50001 certification for energy management. Lamborghini already had ISO 9001 (quality management) and ISO 14001 (environmental management) certification, and was the first Italian automotive company to obtain EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) certification.

Audi A8 hybrid to enter production

Audi has confirmed that its A8 hybrid will enter production next year.

The newcomer will use a four-cylinder two-litre petrol engine in combination with an electric motor. A lightweight lithium-ion battery-pack will be used, providing a modest electric range. The hybrid powertrain is ZF’s, so the motor is mounted in what would once have been the torque-converter housing of a modified 8HP automatic transmission.


Frankfurt show: Fiat and Abarth

The most important event this year for Fiat is unquestionably the launch of its third generation Panda, which is happening in Frankfurt as we speak. Fiat has set out to make the new car less utilitarian than its predecessors; the Panda has also grown a little, with an overall length of 3650mm (up from 3538mm) and a width of 1640mm (1578mm). The 85PS Twin Air engine has found its way into the new Panda, along with a 65PS atmospheric version of the vertical twin.

The new all-wheel drive Fiat Freemont is also on show. It will be on sale from October, with a 170PS two-litre diesel or a 280PS 3.6-litre V6 petrol engine. Both come with a six-speed automatic gearbox.

Fiat’s performance tuning offshoot Abarth will be showing three new models at Frankfurt: the 500 Cabrio Italia, the Punto Super Sport and the 695 Competizione.

Of these, the Punto Super Sport and 695 are the most interesting. The former offers 180PS and 270Nm from its turbocharged 1368cc petrol engine, while the 695 uses the same power-unit in the nose of a Fiat 500. Curiously, while the Punto uses a six-speed gearbox, the 695 makes do with five forward gears: we suspect a space problem.


Fast carbon-fibre production process is watershed for lightweight cars

Japanese carbon-fibre manufacturer Teijin has demonstrated a new process for producing large CFRP mouldings very quickly, reducing the cycle time required for molding an automobile cabin frame to less than one minute.

This has huge significance in the production of low-mass car structures. Currently, it is possible to use CFRP only in high-end models where the costs of the slow production process can be absorbed by the buyer.

Teijin’s electric vehicle concept car with fast-process CFRP structure.

Teijin intends to develop mass production applications for CFRP in automobiles and many other items that require certain levels of structural strength, such as machine tools and industrial robots.


Aston Martin Rapide production to be transferred to U.K.

Production of the Aston Martin Rapide, which is currently built by Magna Steyr in Austria, will transfer to Gaydon from the second half of 2012. The original decision to build the car in Austria was taken because of limitations at Aston Martin’s Warwickshire plant.

Daimler and Linde expand German hydrogen network

Daimler is collaborating with technology company Linde to expand the hydrogen infrastructure for refuelling fuel-cell vehicles.

Over the next three years, the two companies plan to construct an additional 20 hydrogen filling stations in Germany, ensuring a supply of hydrogen produced purely from renewable resources for the steadily increasing number of fuel-cell vehicles on the roads. The initiative links in with the existing H2 Mobility and Clean Energy Partnership infrastructure projects, which are being subsidised by the National Innovation Programme for hydrogen and fuel-cell technology (NIP). This places Germany at the international forefront of hydrogen infrastructure development.

Peugeot 508: new drivetrain and 5* NCAP award

The Peugeot 508 has been awarded a five-star rating for safety in NCAP tests, while a new engine-gearbox combination has been added to the lineup.

In its NCAP test, the 508 obtained the highest child occupant protection score in its category and 97 per cent. in the Safety Assist section, which covers driver aids. Also, following the award obtained in October 2010 for the 3008, 5008 and 308, the 508 also picked up the Euro NCAP Advanced prize for its Premium emergency call system, known as Peugeot Connect SOS.

The 508 is now available with the 2.0-litre HDi FAP 163PS mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. This combination delivers CO2 emissions of 129g/km, equivalent to fuel consumption of 4.9l/100km (57.6mpg) over the NEDC for the saloon version. The estate returns 130g/km (5.0l/100km, 56.5mpg). This engine was previously paired only with a six-speed automatic gearbox.

Ford launches alertness system

Ford is now offering a driver alertness system on its Focus, Mondeo, S-Max and Galaxy. The system uses a camera mounted behind the car’s rear-view mirror to track lane positioning, triggering warnings if the system’s software determines that the driver is tired.

Lane markings are used as a reference, with erratic steering the tell-tale.

The alert system works in two stages. First, a soft warning will pop up in the instrument cluster as a text message and will stay there for 10 seconds with an accompanying chime. If the driver continues to demonstrate drowsy behaviour, a hard warning will appear in the instrument cluster which the driver must acknowledge by pressing an ‘OK’ button. If the driver fails to acknowledge the hard warning, the system can only be reset by stopping the car and opening the driver’s door.

Ford driver alert camera.

We have driven a Mondeo with this system fitted. It works, though the initial ‘soft’ warning is perhaps a little too subtle to rouse a driver who really is drowsy. Intentional lane-changing — even without indicating — is usually ignored by the system.

How to make a clean fluel, cleanly

Hydrogen fuel is a conundrum. It’s clean in use, but energy-intensive to produce. But now a consortium of U.K. universities is attempting to develop clean methods of producing fuels such as hydrogen and methanol using solar energy. The SolarCAP project is a multi-disciplinary effort that involves physicists who manipulate the behaviour of photons and harvest them; chemists to utilise these photons for fuel generation; and, eventually, engineers to scale up the process.

:More (new window)

Peugeot and Delphi win at the races

Peugeot’s ‘almost-standard’ RCZ track-racer opened its 2011 season with a second place finish in the D1T Class and a one-two finish in their second race. The car uses a mildly modified 2.0-litre HDi engine with Delphi injection and drivetrain cooling.

The key change to the standard engine is an increase in turbo boost pressure, lifting the torque from 340Nm to 400Nm and the power from 163PS to 204PS. Even with this extra boost, Peugeot has used the production Delphi intercoolers and compact aluminum radiators to meet the demanding performance specifications.

Peugeot RCZ.

Fueling is provided by Delphi’s standard 2000 bar (200MPa) common-rail system with Multec balanced-valve fast servo-solenoid injectors. The only significant upgrade required was to change the nozzle definition, optimizing the spray pattern to suit the increased swirl created by the higher boost levels. The revised configuration also increases maximum fuel flow, contributing to the increase in power and torque.

The standard fuel pump is retained without modification, as is the ECU, which is rare on a race car. Delphi modified the ECU software to allow Peugeot to recalibrate the engine mapping to suit the demands of endurance racing with the re-tuned engine.

Platinum-free fuel cell developed

Conventional fuel-cells — which convert hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity — depend on a platinum-based catalyst. The high cost of platinum has traditionally been a barrier to the adoption of fuel-cells for powering vehicles. But researchers in the U.S. have developed platinum-free catalysts, based on carbon, iron and cobalt, that seem to work just as well.

:More (new window)

New alloy turns waste heat into electricity

Waste heat from a car’s exhaust could be used to produce electricity for charging the battery, using a new ‘multiferroic’ alloy combining nickel, cobalt, manganese and tin.

:More (new window)

Alternative fuels 1: Biomass

Britain’s Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) is evaluating the future of biomass production in the U.K. The Institute estimates that domestic biomass, sustainably grown, could provide up to 10 per cent. of the country’s energy needs by 2050.


Alternative fuels 2: Alcohol

For every gallon of ethanol produced, there are about five gallons of leftovers known as stillage. Iowa State University engineering professor Hans van Leeuwen is leading a research team that has developed a process that uses a fungus to make a high-protein animal feed from stillage.


ZF integrates power electronics into hybrid drivetrain

Engineering giant ZF is working on a hybrid transmission with integrated power electronics, making it much easier for cr manufacturers to ‘hybridise’ existing models.


Audi’s R18 TDI takes Le Mans with lady engineer in charge

When Audi’s R18 TDI won the Le Mans endurance race for the tenth time on 12 June, victory was shared by number one race engineer Leena Gade from Harrow in England, the first female race engineer in this traditionally rather macho sport.

Gade, who is a Manchester University graduate, described her job. ‘I’m responsible for the final decisions on the race car. If a part on the car moves, changes temperature or changes pressure, I’m logging it. A snapshot of our computer screens could show hundreds of channels at one time. The collected information is then used by me to give instructions over a radio to the driver to help him maintain tyres or maximise the engine performance for example. In addition to looking after all functions of the car, we have to manage the tyre allocation, fuel stops, driver time in the car while keeping an eye on the weather. This information is used to make strategy decisions on when to pit for fuel and which variant of tyre to use.

‘I’m the main contact to the driver. The driver-engineer psychology has to be strong and trust plays a vital part in gaining performance. A driver performs better knowing his or her engineer is in control of the crew, the car and race which means they can focus on their driving. One miscalculation or decision that is waivered over can be the difference between winning or losing the race.’

Audi R18 TDI at Le Mans.

The R18 TDI started from pole-position, set the fastest race lap and did not have any major problems in what was only the car’s second race. The power-unit is a V6 with a single blower mounted between the cylinder banks, mounted in a one-piece carbon-fibre monocoque. During development, the possible future electrification of the powertrain was considered as well as energy recuperation systems, though none is fitted at present.

New regulations introduced by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) this year demand significantly smaller engines. Audi has chosen a compact 3.7-litre V6 TDI, which is about 25 per cent. lighter than the V10 TDI power-plant fitted to last year’s contender, the R15 TDI.

To lower the car’s centre of gravity as much as possible, and to improve airflow through the car, the exhaust manifolds have been moved from the outside of the engine to the space between the cylinder banks — ‘hot side inside’. This arrangement was used in Formula 1 in the 1980s. But the V6 TDI engine powering the Audi R18 TDI has a very unusual cylinder angle of 120 degrees, allowing far better heat dissipation than a conventional 60-degree vee, as well as delivering a low centre of gravity. Because of the new exhaust arrangement, the new engine has a single (Garrett) turbocharger instead of the twin blowers used in earlier engines. Variable turbine geometry is used. Intake air is drawn directly from a scoop on the roof, providing an additional degree of supercharging at speed.

Engine output is something over 540PS.

Mercedes to launch four new compact models

Mercedes-Benz is to launch four new compact models, starting from next year with a new A-Class.

Mercedes-Benz A-class concept.

This car, which will be in showrooms from next year, marks a new stylistic direction from Mercedes-Benz. Its design is intended to make the ‘A’ a more serious competitor to the BMW 1-series. The concept car, shown in Shanghai, is powered by a turbocharged two-litre four-cylinder petrol engine producing 210PS. Of particular note is the radar-based collision warning system with Bosch’s Adaptive Brake Assist, a first in this size of car. The system gives the driver visual and audible warnings and prepares the braking pressure needed when the driver hits the pedal.

Bosch makes its 11 millionth airbag controller

Bosch has announced that it has built its 11 millionth airbag control unit since the devices entered seried production in 1980.

Over the years, the functionality of the controllers has increased vastly, from looking after a single airbag to triggering multiple bags that can inflate to different degrees according to the severity and angle of the impact. Current control units are capable of dealing with up to 32 restraint devices, including seat belt pretensioners, using networking technology.

The first production application of Bosch’s airbag controller was the Mercedes-Benz S-class in 1981, where it triggered the driver airbag and a seat belt pretensioner.

In 1977, Bosch started development of an electronic airbag control unit equipped with centrally positioned sensors. The first patent application under the title Trigger device circuit (alternative release mechanism) for a vehicle occupant restraint system was filed in March 1978.

When the first system was installed in the S-class, it consisted of three separate components: an electronic control unit, a voltage converter, and an energy storage unit. In its basic configuration, the latest generation of the system — dubbed Airbag 10 — takes up 70 per cent. less space and consists of a single control unit.

Bosch airbag controllers.

Airbag performance has improved steadily over the years. Deployment systems now include additional sensors installed in the side panels of the vehicle that make it possible to determine the force and direction of impact more quickly. Other sensors installed inside the passenger cell provide information on the weight and seating position of the driver and front-seat passenger. If the vehicle occupants do not weigh much or are leaning forward, the airbag release mechanism is inhibited or fired in stages, reducing the risk of injuries. Additional functions to prevent injury to pedestrians, such as automatically raising the bonnet in the event of a collision, can also be integrated into the safety system.

Extra safety functions can be added when airbag control units are linked with the sensors and systems used to provide driver assistance and vehicle communication. For example, Secondary Collision Mitigation links the airbag system with the ESP (electronic stability program): if the collision sensors detect an impact, the ESP automatically applies the brakes to slow the vehicle, reducing its kinetic energy and thus minimising the force of a possible secondary collision (‘domino effect’).

Next Qashqai will be designed, engineered and built in the U.K.

The first stage of development will see the new version of Nissan’s crossover styled at the Company’s European Design Centre in Paddington, London. Once the design is finalised, engineers from the Nissan Technical Centre Europe in Cranfield, Bedfordshire will take over. The completed car will be built at Nissan’s Sunderland plant, where the current model is built alongside the Note and Juke.

Porsche’s electric Boxster

Porsche has demonstrated rear- and four-wheel drive electric Boxsters at an event in Berlin.

The Boxster E concept cars — which is all they are at present — are being used as part of the large-scale ‘Model Region Electro-Mobility Stuttgart’ trial to explore the everyday practicality of all-electric vehicles and how they are used, especially in terms of driving and battery charging.

Porsche Boxster E.

Propulsion in the case of the all-wheel drive variant is provided by two independent electric motors with single-speed reduction gears that act on the front and rear axles. The two motors between them deliver 244PS and 540Nm.

Rear-wheel drive Boxster Es are simply the same thing without the front drivetrain. Maximum outputs are therefore 122PS and 270Nm.


Jaguar adopts Ford-PSA 2.2-litre diesel

Jaguar has announced that it will shortly be introducing a ‘new’ 2.2-litre diesel engine in the XF.

The new power-unit is Jaguar’s own version of the familiar 2179cc Ford-PSA unit. In Jaguar’s application, the engine is mounted north-south for the first time and develops 190PS and 450Nm. The turbocharger is water-cooled. NEDC fuel consumption and emissions returns are 149g/km and 52.3mpg overall.

Apart from being mounted the other way round, there are substantial differences between applications, chiefly to allow the operation of Jaguar’s stop-start system, which will be standard. The injectors and crankshaft are new for the Jaguar version, as is the oil-pan. The electronics are different too. The stop-start has been set up with the aim of reducing the time spent in the shutdown and start-up phases: Jaguar claims that its system is able to restart the engine from the shut-down phase from as little as 400rpm. The inclusion of stop-start improves engine efficiency by between five and seven per cent. according to Jaguar.

The 2.2-litre XF will come fitted with ZF’s 8HP eight-speed automatic gearbox. Overall gearing will be pitched more towards cruising refinement than performance.

Bizarrely, Jaguar has issued an official photograph of a disguised car, suggesting that the XF will soon be facelifted. Click here for an exterior view of the power-unit.

New Jensen Interceptor under development

An all-new Jensen Interceptor will be launched later this year, after CPP Global Holdings was appointed to engineer, develop and build the new car. In charge of the project is Healey Sports Cars Switzerland Ltd. (HSCS), which owns all assets, intellectual property, designs and brand rights for the Jensen and Interceptor brands.

CPP, a British specialist automotive group (and possibly the next owner of Spyker), will finalise the new car’s development in Coventry and manufacture it at a new production facility on Browns Lane from 2014. A team of Coventry-based design consultants employed by HSCS has completed the design of the new Interceptor, which has already gained significant customer interest.

A styling sketch for the new Interceptor and a 1974 Interceptor II.

The new Jensen Interceptor strongly echoes the design of the original four-seat GT, built between 1966 and 1976. It is based on an all-new aluminium chassis and wears a hand-made aluminium body. The public unveiling of the Interceptor is planned for late 2012, with deliveries to customers beginning in 2014. Annual production numbers and pricing are yet to be confirmed, but will be fixed to ensure ultra-exclusivity. Expressions of interest can be registered on the Jensen web-site:

Gordon Murray Design and Toray announce electric sportscar

Gordon Murray Design and Toray Industries Inc. have announced a prototype electric sportscar named Teewave AR.1, or T.32 to Gordon Murray insiders. The car is the result of a commission from Toray for Gordon Murray Design to design, tool and build a fully-functioning prototype vehicle which uses a range of Toray’s advanced automotive materials with the aim of providing an attractive car and a rolling advertisement for Toray.

The two-seater sports car is designed to use the Toray carbon-fibre component system with a process time of less than 10 minutes. A carbon-fibre monocoque, one of the key technologies of Teewave, can be applied any type of car.

Gordon Murray Design Teewave AR.1.

The Teewave is a compact car at under four metres. Predictably, kerb mass is modest, at 850kg (including the 240kg battery), but the drive motor delivers a rather unambitious 64PS and 180Nm, so performance is adequate rather than spectacular.


Fisker buys BMW petrol engines

U.S. hybrid luxury car manufacturer Fisker has announced that it will be buying four-cylinder N20 petrol engine from BMW for the next generation of its cars. Fisker cars are electrically powered and use petrol engines as range-extenders. The N20 is the same directly fuelled 1997cc unit that powers the new 320i and 328i: headline outputs are 184PS and 270Nm for the 320i, 245PS and 350Nm for the 328i. A twin-scroll blower is used with both variants, with one turbine per pair of cylinders.

Code-named Project Nina, the new Fisker model is scheduled to go into production in the re-commissioned former G.M. plant in Wilmington, Delaware, at the end of 2012; it will go on sale globally in 2013. The first Project Nina derivative will be a mid-size premium saloon.

Fisker Karma hybrid.

The agreement with BMW calls for up to 100,000 engine units per year at peak volume.


New cell chemistry boosts E.V. range

Battery manufacturer Axeon and engineering consultancy Ricardo have successfully demonstrated a new battery-pack for electric vehicles using nickel-cobalt-manganese cathode chemistry.

This type of cell usefully increases the energy-density of the pack compared with the more conventional lithium-iron-phosphate chemistry — though power density is actually inferior. For a given installed battery-pack mass, the new type of battery extends a vehicle’s range by around 35 per cent.

Axeon-Ricardo assembled prototype battery-pack.

The prototype which Axeon and Ricardo have built along with project partner Allied Vehicles uses ‘pouch’ or ‘coffee-bag’ cells.


Oerlikon Graziano and Vocis test multi-speed gearbox for E.V.s

A multi-speed transmission developed specifically for electric vehicles is currently being road-tested by Italian transmission manufacturer Oerlikon Graziano and British control systems specialist Vocis.

Electric drive systems benefit from multi-speed transmissions for the same reasons that conventional drivetrains do, but car manufacturers (with one or two rather exotic exceptions) have hitherto not bothered with them for reasons of cost, bulk and, it has to be said, engineering laziness. As is the case with a heat engine, multiple gear ratios allow the motor to be kept in its most efficient speed range for the load that is being applied to it.

The Graziano-Vocis transmission is similar in principle to a dual-clutch unit. Rather than using a single motor-generator unit, the new driveline uses two units, each on an independently-controlled shaft. The design allows the distribution of drive and recovered energy to be balanced between the two motors, with gear-changing smoothed out by ‘torque infill’ during each shift.

Electric motor efficiency with load and rotor speed. Click image for larger version.

Though obviously more complex than a single-speed reduction gearbox, the cost and mass of the multi-speed system compares favourably to a conventional gearbox because it requires no clutch or synchronisers. This inherent simplicity makes the technology attractive to EV producers. It is also possible that the additional cost could be more than recovered through reductions in the size of the battery-pack required to achieve a given target range.

The technology is scalable, including the number of ratios.

Vocis has already demonstrated a twin-speed transmission for electrics in a Mercedes Vito minibus. The twin-speed unit was co-developed with powertrain engineering consultants Zytek.

Torotrak works on variable supercharger

Lancashire-based CVT specialist Torotrak is working on a mechanical supercharger driven by a miniaturised continuously-variable drive unit.

The supercharger installation is known as Rotrak and uses a Rotrex blower. The rolling prototype, which is currently undergoing road trials, is a 1.2-litre petrol Renault Clio.

New nine-speed auto, electric drives from Z.F.

Z.F. has introduced a new nine-speed epicyclic automatic transmission, along with a new electric axle drive system for small cars.

The new 9HP gearbox is designed for transverse installation and either front- or four-wheel drive. Its standard ratio spread is 9.84; this compares with 7.07 for the 8HP fitted to the BMW 116d. Z.F. estimates a 16 per cent. efficiency gain over a six-speed automatic. The 9HP, like the Company’s eight-speed longitudinal transmission, can be hybridised, with the torque-converter replaced by an electric motor-generator, or ‘hybrid module’.

Z.F.’s electric axle drive for small and medium-sized cars consists of an electric motor, a compact one-speed reduction gearbox, power electronics and control software. For mini- and micro-cars, an electric twist beam axle integrates the drivetrain into the rear suspension.


Škoda begins testing of Octavia Green E-Line electric fleet

Škoda has begun the testing of a 10-car trial fleet of its first ever fully electric car, the Octavia E-Line.

The Octavia Green E-Line is based on the series-production Octavia estate, whose modular floorpan design is sufficiently adaptable to allow for the installation of batteries, electrical control units and electric motor. The motor provides a constant 81PS of power, with a peak of 115PS; maximum torque is 270Nm, available from the first revolution.

The Green E-Line features a sound generator that simulates the noise of an engine at speeds of up to 25mph. Standing-start acceleration to 100km/h takes 12s, and maximum speed is limited to 84mph.

The Octavia’s battery-pack is a 26.5kWh lithium-ion unit consisting of 180 cells and weighing 315kg. Škoda clains a range of 150km (93 miles), helped by the expected kinetic energy recovery system.

Škoda has said that it will offer its customers a plug-in hybrid vehicle in the future, though no time-scale has been stated.


R9M for Qashqai

Renault’s 130PS R9M diesel engine, with a capacity of 1.6 litres, has replaced the previous two-litre unit with the same output in the Nissan Qashqai. Improvements in fuel economy and emissions are substantial: over the NEDC rolling-road test régime, fuel consumption drops by some 31 per cent. to an overall 62.8mpg. The CO2 yield is 129g/km. Early next year, Nissan will start equipping this powertrain with a stop-start system, cutting the CO2 figure to 119g/km.

BMW-SGL begins carbon-fibre production

SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers [sic], a joint venture between SGL Group and BMW, has opened its new carbon fibre manufacturing plant in Moses Lake, Washington state in the U.S. The new facility produces carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP) for use in the new BMW i vehicles.

It is necessary to start the manufacture of carbon fibre now to prepare for the large-scale production of BMW i vehicles in 2013. The first vehicle to use the carbon fibers manufactured in Moses Lake will be the electrically-powered BMW i3. The BMW i3 produces no local emissions, as it is powered electrically. BMW has also attempted to make the car’s entire life-cycle as sustainable as possible, and the Company estimates that the whole-life cycle emissions figures for the i3 are at least a third lower than for an efficient combustion-engine car. If the i3 is run on electricity from renewable sources, the figures improve by over 50per cent.

BMW i3.

All electricity needed for the production of carbon fibres will come from readily available clean and renewable local hydropower.

Porsche 911 club racer improved

Porsche’s 911 GT3 R club racer now offers more power and better handling.

The output of the four-litre flat-six has increased by 20PS to 500PS through changes to the intake system, while the gearing of the sequential six-speed dog-type gearbox has been altered to suit the higher output. A softer front anti-roll bar reduces understeer.

Porsche 911 GT3 R.

A Porsche 911 GT3 R from the 2010 or 2011 model years can be upgraded to the 2012 specification.

BMW develops laser lighting

On the face of it, the idea of using lasers for vehicle lighting doesn’t make sense. They’re dangerous to look at and, by definition, they don’t provide a broad beam of illumination.

That’s not the end of the story, though. Laser light is very energy-efficient to produce, and the narrow, coherent beams of light are converted into a safe form that is useable on a vehicle. The originally bluish laser light beam is first of all converted by means of a fluorescent phosphor material inside the headlight into a pure white light which is very bright and pleasant to the eye.

The efficiency question is quite convincing: conventional LED lighting produces around 100 lumens per Watt, while laser diodes produce around 170 lumens per Watt. The laser diodes themselves are very small — around 10µm long by one millimetre wide — opening up the possibility of reducing headlamp size and giving stylists more flexibility at the front of the car.

BMW is confident that in future it will be possible to use laser light to implement all of its current lighting functions, such as Adaptive Headlights, the ‘Dynamic Light Spot’ spotlighting system and the Anti-Dazzle High-Beam Assist. Additionally, it will be possible to use laser lighting to implement completely new functions, which will have only minimal power consumption. But at present, either BMW isn’t saying anything about these new functions, or it hasn’t invented them yet.

Porsche re-invents 911 (again)

It’s long been a moot point whether Porsche wouldn’t be better off creating an all-new, mid-engined supercar and equipping the rear-engined 911 with power-units that its layout can more comfortably cope with. But Porsche clearly doesn’t think so, and the new 911 Carrera is proof.

The new car is lower and longer than its predecessor, with 100mm added to the wheelbase. The bodyshell is constructed from a mixture of steel and aluminium, with a boost to torsional stiffness, and kerb masses are down by up to 45kg.

The Carrera’s engine is a new 3.4-litre derivative of the Porsche flat six, delivering 350PS; if this isn’t enough, an ‘S’ model is available, offering 400PS from 3.8 litres. A thermal management system is a feature, as is kinetic energy capture for battery charging.

Porsche 911 Carrera.

The standard transmission is the world’s first seven-speed manual, while Porsche’s dual-clutch unit — also a seven-speeder — is an option. Quite apart from saving a lot of work, the dual-clutch PDK unit delivers better fuel returns over the NEDC rolling-road test régime. Electric power steering is now standard, as is a stop-start system.


Ford Evos concept: a shopping-basket of high-tech

Ford’s Evos concept car, shown at Franfurt earlier this year, contains an interesting foretaste of technologies that will be hitting the mainstream in the future.

The Evos is a plug-in petrol-electric hybrid using a lithium-ion battery-pack — essentially the same system as the C-MAX Energi scheduled for introduction in North America in 2012 and Europe in 2013. The concept car also features ‘cloud connectivity’, allowing the car to make decisions about how it should be powered based on details of a planned journey.

There are a variety of ‘wellness’ features, too: the driver’s seat monitors his or her heart-rate, and air-quality information obtained from the ‘cloud’ can be used to suggest alternative, cleaner routes to the destination.

Volvo and Siemens collaborate on E.V.s

Volvo Car Corporation and Siemens intend to work together on the technical development of electric cars.

The companies will work on the development of electrical drive technology, power electronics and charging technology, and on integrating the results into Volvo C30 Electric vehicles.

The first electric cars of this model fitted with Siemens electric motors will be on the test tracks as early as the end of this year. Beginning in late 2012, Volvo will deliver a test fleet of up to 200 vehicles to Siemens, which will then be tested and validated under real-life conditions as part of Siemens’ own internal test fleet.

Siemens electric motors developed for Volvo have a peak power output of 146PS with a maximum torque of 220Nm. The inverter design will be jointly developed to meet all safety requirements in an automotive application. In addition, Siemens will provide on-board and off-board charging systems.

Yaris grows (a little), revised diesel for Avensis

It’s still no giant in its class, but Toyota’s third-generation Yaris is 100mm longer than its predecessor. There’s no harm done, though, as mass-reduction measures mean it’s still a few kilos lighter, model-for-model. Technically the new car features a good few detail changes but nothing spectacular.

The facelifted Toyota Avensis, unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show, features a number of refinements to its two-litre diesel engine. Predictably, consumption and emissions drop significantly, with CO2 yields falling from 139g/km to 119g/km — this rolling-road figure applies to both saloon and estate models, despite the greater mass of the estate. The engine modifications amount to a new turbocharger, combustion-chamber changes and improved glow-plug control. With a relatively low 15.8:1 compression ratio, the unit offers 124PS at 3600rpm and 310Nm at 1800rpm.

In addition to the revised 2.0-litre D-4D, the new Avensis is available with a 148PS 2.2-litre D-4D unit — with either a diesel particulate filter (DPF) or a diesel particulate and NOx reduction filter (DPNR) — or a 145PS 1.8-litre petrol engine.


New Civic majors on refinement

Honda has unveiled its ninth generation Civic, with the emphasis on comfort and refinement — though curiously the Company is claiming no more than having matched its European competitors, rather than beaten them. The car it replaces has been with us since January 2006.

Most of the development work for the new car was carried out in Japan, though a fair amount of later refinement work took place in Europe, including Honda’s anechoic chamber at its R&D facility in Swindon.

Honda Civic Mk I (a 1975 CVCC model) and next year’s Mk IX.

The Civic range is produced in 14 countries — including Britain since 1994 — and sold in around 160 markets. The new model goes on sale in Britain in early 2012; we will have more information when it becomes available.

Honda’s CVCC engine, fitted to the Mk I model illustrated, was a stratified-charge unit, developed to allow the car to be sold in the U.S. without a catalytic converter. (In fact, it didn’t have fuel injection either.) Two intake valves were used: one drew in a weak charge that filled the greater part of the combustion-chamber, while the second, smaller valve delivered a richer mixture to a volume close to the spark-plug. The flame-front propagated from here to the rest of the chamber through a metal mesh.

Daimler nominated for Deutscher Zukunftspreis

The Deutscher Zukunftspreis, or German Future Prize, is the Federal President’s prize for technology and innovation. Daimler has been nominated for its 6D-Vision project, which uses a stereo camera to map the terrain in front of the vehicle in three dimensions and in real time. An analysis of consecutive pairs of images allows instant identification of any movement — of a pedestrian, for example.

The Deutscher Zukunftspreis has been awarded annually since 1997. This year’s prize is due to be awarded by German Federal President Christian Wulff on 14 December, 2011, in Berlin.

Frankfurt show: Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz is holding five world premieres at the 2011 Frankfurt motor show.

New Mercedes B-class.

The centrepiece of the Company’s stand is the new B-class. Also on show is the will be the F 125 research car, which looks at electric drive in the luxury segment. The new SLS AMG Roadster is making its first public appearance at the show, along with the SLK 250 CDI and SLK 55 AMG.

Daimler nominated for Deutscher Zukunftspreis

The Deutscher Zukunftspreis, or German Future Prize, is the Federal President’s prize for technology and innovation. Daimler has been nominated for its 6D-Vision project, which uses a stereo camera to map the terrain in front of the vehicle in three dimensions and in real time. An analysis of consecutive pairs of images allows instant identification of any movement — of a pedestrian, for example.

The Deutscher Zukunftspreis has been awarded annually since 1997. This year’s prize is due to be awarded by German Federal President Christian Wulff on 14 December, 2011, in Berlin.

Bosch: ‘The future belongs to electromobility’

Dr Bernd Bohr, chairman of the Bosch Automotive Group, has made it clear in his annual press briefing that, whatever the efficiency improvements in diesel and gasoline vehicles, the future belongs to the electric drive. But Bohr went on to pose the rhetorical question: ‘When is the future?’

In Bohr’s view, the present high battery costs and limited range mean that the switch to electromobility will take well over a decade. For the not-too-distant future, he considers the outlook for plug-in hybrids to be good: a relatively small, cost-effective battery for urban trips that can be recharged from a power socket, combined with a gasoline or diesel engine for longer journeys. ‘Combinations of this sort,’ Bohr said, ‘require broad and well-networked systems expertise.’

Dr Bohr also made a striking prediction about car safety systems. ‘Over the next 20 years,’ he said, ‘technical advances will lead to autonomous driving.’

Young Europeans share mobility ideas with industry chiefs

The leaders of today’s major vehicle makers have met with the drivers of tomorrow’s industry during a summit at Autoworld Brussels.

During workshops prior to the summit, the young delegates worked collectively to create a ‘Book of Ideas’, which was presented to all participants of the summit including European Commissioners, MEPs, and CEOs of the largest automotive manufactures in Europe.

Our Future Mobility Now is a project from major European manufacturers and is run by ACEA, the industry’s European trade association.

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European initiative aims to imrprove electrics’ range and safety

A new European Research Project has been launched with the aim of developing new driving strategies and driver assistance systems that will significantly increase the efficiency, driving range, and safety of electric vehicles. This will be achieved by merging data from on-board and off-board sources, with a particular focus on cooperation between the electric drivetrain and the regenerative braking system, supported by data from radar, video, satellite navigation, car-to-infrastructure and car-to-car systems.


Electric Land Rover for S.A. game parks

Battery manufacturer Axeon and Jaguar Land Rover South Africa have produced an electric Defender for use in game parks.

In the prototype Defender 110 High Capacity Pick-up, the lithium-ion battery system has been fitted in place of the standard 2.4-litre diesel engine in the vehicle’s engine-bay, maintaining ground-clearance and wading depth. The installation incorporates Axeon’s proprietary battery management system, which monitors the battery state — particularly important for an electric vehicle that may encounter harsh conditions.

Land Rover Defender with Axeon electric powertrain.

In testing, the range was shown to be capable of three times a typical game drive on a single charge — around 50 miles with a 12-mile reserve range.

The electric Defender is reported to have performed well on the rigorous Gerotek test facility. In the field (literally), the electric vehicle has also been able to get closer to animals in the game park because of its much quieter operation.

Land Rover Defender
Axeon electric drive
Battery capacity 28.8kWh
Dimensions 1080x780x590
Battery mass 400kg
Nominal voltage 288V
Max/min voltage 324V/225V
Max. pulse power 195PS
Land Rover Defender with Axeon electric powertrain. Note twin fans for power electronics (right).

Hybrid technology could break into heavy-duty machines

While the motor industry has driven the large-scale uptake of hybrid technology by targeting environmentally conscious consumers, sectors such as construction and goods handling have proved more difficult to persuade.

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Students & lecturers give views on future of U.K. engineering

A new report based on a major survey commissioned by G.E. of nearly 1000 engineering students and lecturers details their views about the current state of the engineering technology sector.

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Audi A1 with 500PS shown at Wörthersee

Audi has shown a track variant of the A1 at the V.W. group’s annual enthusiasts’ meeting in Austria.

The A1 Clubsport Quattro — a one-off at present — uses a reworked version of the TT’s 2.5-litre TFSI engine rated at 503PS and 660Nm. Maximum power is available between 2500rpm and 5300rpm. Kerb mass is 1390kg, helped by the lack of a back seat and various other creature comforts, though there is a large cross-bar for body stiffening where the rear seat used to be. A small starter battery for competition use is mounted in the rear below the two storage compartments, while the lightweight bucket seats are taken from the Audi R8 GT and feature a chassis made of carbon-fibre-reinforced polymer.

Audi A1 Clubsport Quattro.

The show-car rides on 255/30 tyres mounted on 19-inch alloy wheels. Up front, six-piston callipers grab perforated carbon-fibre-ceramic discs. Large steel discs are used at the rear. The coilover suspension of the A1 clubsport quattro features adjustable compression and rebound damping. The front wings, doors and rear side panels have been widened by 60mm.

DS4 awarded 5* rating by NCAP

The Citroën DS4 has achieved a five-star rating in Euro NCAP crash tests, with a score of 97 per cent. for its assistance systems. It has also received the Euro NCAP Advanced award, like the C5, new C4 and DS3.

BOOKS Russian Motor Vehicles: Soviet Limousines 1930-2003 by Maurice A. Kelly Ch.Eng R.R.S., M.N. (Ret’d)

A book concerning Russian limousines — along with the Chinese models that were initially derived from them — has never been attempted before. This book investigates the whole story of why the Soviet Communist Party required such a bourgeois product, and how production was subsequently achieved.

Following the orders of Stalin, work on the limousines commenced during the first Five Year Plan (1927-1933) at the Putilov Works, later the Kirov Zavod, where the Leningrad L-1 was made in limited numbers. From these beginnings, the Moscow and Gorky models emerged, and later the Chinese-derived types made with Russian aid during the late 1950s.

Covering all of these models, up to the last one produced in 2003, and featuring full specifications translated from the relevant primary sources in Russian and Chinese literature, this is a meticulous and unique account of a previously neglected subject. Full specifications and illustrations are provided.

Russian Motor Vehicles: Soviet Limousines 1930-2003

Volvo uses Torotrak drive in flywheel hybrid project

Volvo is using a CVT designed and built by Lancashire-based Torotrak in a flywheel-hybrid prototype.

Volvo’s project, part-funded by the Swedish Energy Agency, also features a flywheel developed by Flybrid Systems (U.K.). The project will look at how mechanical hybrids can reduce emissions and improve fuel economy, perhaps more cost-effectively than ‘traditional’ electric hybrid solutions. Volvo’s flywheel system is certainly simpler and lighter, though it is not able to provide sustained power.

Porsche has already demonstrated the use of a flywheel to recover brake energy and use it to power electric motors in the 911 GT3 R. The Volvo system is different, in that the angular momentum of the flywheel is fed directly into the drivetrain through Torotrak’s CVT.


M.G. returns

M.G. — owned by Chinese giant SAIC — is keen to promote its Britishness. Visitors to its motor-show stands are greeted by the prominent use of the Morris Garages name, as well as and numerous glimpses of the Union Jack and images of such illustrious British cars as the Morris Minor.

Alongside the M.G. 5 concept, the Company has been showing its new small hatchback, the M.G. 3. This has been developed jointly by M.G.’s 250-strong design and engineering team in the U.K. and its team in Shanghai. It’s slated for launch in Britain in December 2012, and M.G. is promising a 1.4-litre diesel among the engine choices. The M.G. 3 is about the same size a five-door Fiesta, and M.G. says its will rival the Škoda Fabia on price.

M.G. 6.

Between M.G.s 3 and 6 lies the Roewe 350, which is set to go into production at Longbridge. It will also be badged as an M.G. For now though, we must content ourselves with the M.G. 6...


Dick Bensted-Smith

Journalist, intrepid international rally driver and co-driver, author and car fanatic Dick Bensted-Smith has died at the age of 81.

The former editor of The Motor, Dick Bensted-Smith loved the motor industry and motoring in general. His love of motoring extended far beyond simply writing about cars: his rallying exploits saw him become one of the ‘unsinkable seven’ on the 1968 East African Safari Rally, then a qualifying round of the RAC World Rally Championship. He was co-driver to Joginder Singh, who recorded more finishes on the rally than any other driver. Dick and Joginder’s Datsun Cedric was one of only seven cars to complete the notorious 3100 mile event, which was beset by floods, booby traps and generally hazardous conditions.

Dick Bensted-Smith.

A decade earlier Dick had participated in an even longer drive across Africa, which he wrote about in his book Turn Left for Tangier: The hard way for Heralds, an account of his 9600 mile proving run in a Triumph Herald prototype from Kano, Nigeria, to Tangier, Morocco.

Toyota expands digital dummy family

Toyota has added a small female and a large male to its family of digital crash test dummies. Known as THUMS (Total HUman Model for Safety), these virtual humans deliver crash test results in much greater detail than is achievable with conventional crash-test dummies.

The new models of a 153cm tall female and a 189cm tall male will join the existing 179cm tall, average-build adult male in THUMS. All three models come in two types — a vehicle occupant and pedestrian — bringing the total number of models to six. It is now possible to take into account different body sizes when conducting analyses of internal injuries caused by car accidents. Toyota has plans to add an elderly person and a child model.

Toyota digital dummy.

This latest software upgrade is the result of a cooperative development arrangement with Toyota Central R&D Labs, Inc., universities and other external research bodies (ahem) to make detailed measurements of the human body’s internal structure using a high-precision CT (computed tomography) scanner. By creating precise models of various internal organs, including their positions and how they interconnect, Toyota was able to develop a virtual human model containing approximately 14 times more information than the previous version. This increased detail allows finer understanding of how damage is inflicted to internal organs during a collision.

Beginning this summer, the small female and large male models will be marketed to universities through Toyota Technical Development Corporation and to private companies through consultant, JSOL Corporation.

Toyota began developing THUMS in 1997 in cooperation with Toyota Central R&D Labs, Inc. Version 1 was completed and commercially launched in 2000, followed in by Version 2 in 2004, which added a face and bones to the model. Version 3, launched in 2006, added a precise brain model. Version 4, with detailed modelling of internal organs, was completed and released in 2010.

Porsche gilds the lily

Porsche has introduced a new variant of the Panamera, topping the four-door GT range. The new Panamera Turbo S uses improved turbochargers, with titanium-aluminium alloy turbines, along with modified engine control to boost headline outputs by 50PS to 550PS and by 50Nm to 750Nm. If the driver is using Sport or Sport Plus driving mode, an overboost to 800Nm is available briefly.

Fuel consumption — at least, over the NEDC — is not worsened by the engine modifications: in fact, it is slightly improved, from 12.2l/100km (23.1mpg) to 11.5l/100km (24.5mpg). Low rolling-resistance Michelin tyres are available: these improve the returns a little more, to 11.3l or 25.0mpg.

Porsche Panamera Turbo S
Cylinders 8V
Block/head material Al/Al
Valves 4
Aspiration 2T
Fuel/injectiom P/d
Bore/strok 96.0/83.0
Swept volume 4806cc
Compression ratio 10.5:1
PS/rpm 550/6000
Nm/rpm 750*/2250
NEDC mpg
Maximum Speed 191
0-100km/h 3.8
Length 4970
Width 1931
Height 1418
Wheelbase 2920
— front
— rear

Cd x A 0.30 x 2.33
* Overboost 800Nm
Porsche Panamera Turbo S.

Hybrid buses delivered in Dresden

The Dresden Transport Company has taken delivery of its first Mercedes-Benz Citaro Hybrid buses. The vehicles are series hybrids, using a modestly-specified 4.8-litre, 210PS diesel engine — less than half the mass of the standard 12l OM457 unit — to power a lithium-ion battery-pack of around 350kg and 240kW (325PS). Brake energy regeneration is also used to provide charge for the battery-pack. This powers four hub motors, delivering 435PS between them.

Mercedes-Benz Citaro Hybrid bus.

Ricardo signs MoU with Chinese auto-maker

Engineering consultancy Ricardo has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China’s Great Wall Motor Company. Among the first product programmes to benefit from this collaboration with Ricardo will be internationally competitive powertrain products including an advanced technology gasoline engine and six-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Tata expands U.K.-based engineering

Tata Motors’ European Technical Centre (TMETC), a wholly-owned U.K.-based subsidiary of Tata Motors, has announced that it will be expanding its partnership with the Warwich Manufacturing Group at the University of Warwick.

Tata Motors has invested over £85m in automotive R&D at TMETC since it was established on the University Campus in 2005 and it already has a team of 240 engineers and researchers working alongside WMG colleagues. TMETC aims to increase the engineering and research force at Warwick by a further 100 to 340 by 2013.

Tata Indica Vista E.V.

TMETC’s engineers work alongside WMG researchers in low carbon technology collaborative R&D programmes. The focus on low carbon technology has already produced the Tata Vista Electric Vehicle prototype, which will be built at a factory in Coventry and will be available to fleet customers in the U.K. later this year. Vista has a range of around 110 miles as a maximum speed of 71 mph. The Tata Pixel city car, which was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, was as also developed at the WMG campus.

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