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Jack Martin

Another zero-emissions powerplant emerges - the Dearman Engine runs on liquid air

A new zero-emissions engine capable of competing commercially with hydrogen fuel cells and battery electric systems appeared on the radar yesterday when respected British engineering consultancy Ricardo validated Dearman engine technology and its commercial potential. The Dearman engine operates by injecting cryogenic (liquid) air into ambient heat inside the engine to produce high pressure gas that drives the engine - the exhaust emits cold air. It's cheaper to build than battery electric or fuel cell technology, with excellent energy density, fast refuelling and no range anxiety. It just might be a third alternative.  Read More

The above-average auto makers in customer retention

It's a lot easier to keep a customer than to get a new one, at least that's how the sales force maxim goes. So what then does the newly released J.D. Power and Associates 2012 Customer Retention Study say about the automotive brands and their ability to sell the same customer another car. For starters, something incredibly positive is happening at Hyundai - just two years ago, Hyundai was below the industry average in customer retention - now the Korean brand has flown past Mercedes, BMW, Porsche, Lexus, Infiniti and Acura to become the stickiest brand in the business. Which isn't hard - one in two motorists defects to another brand with their next purchase.  Read More

Peterhansel and his MINI ALL4 Racing

New names dominated the Dakar Rally from start-to-finish this year - MINI being the most obvious with a 1-2, but also Iveco broke the Eastern Block stranglehold on the truck section. Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel won his tenth Dakar (six on motorcycles, four in cars) ahead of MINI teammate Nani Roma (a prior motorcycle winner). MINI's new owner BMW must be delighted to add the world's toughest race to its illustrious heritage, even if that MINI looks a tad bigger than your average Countryman.  Read More

D-Art melds three-wheel and robotics expertise to create a tilting three-wheeled EV

Japanese design studio D-Art seems to be popping up in all the right places. Its design for a robotic exoskeleton arm was demonstrated at the International Robotics Expo in November, with an target retail price US$2500 to US$3000 projected for 2013, and just a fortnight later at the Tokyo Motor Show, it showed an all-electric three wheeler named the “Style.” The 30 kg Style will do around 25 km/h for 20 km, and costs JPY500,000 (around US$6500).  Read More

The Swildens desks will return to their original home at at 75 avenue de la Grande Armee i...

The Swilden desk - a flourish of metal in which the desk surface winds in on itself to become the chair - was originally commissioned in 1966 for the foyer of the then new Peugeot head office in Paris. Three desks were created and three receptionists were each seated at their very own work of art. Since they were decommissioned, the three extraordinary industrial chic desks have been so sought after at auction, that French furniture designer Furdess has negotiated with the original designer, Ben Swildens, to create a limited re-release of eight desks. Only three are still to be sold, with an asking price of EUR65,000 (US$87,000) a piece.  Read More

A kerb weight of 350 kg enables go-kart handling

There are many small cars with high-performance motorcycle engines, but there has never been one quite like the Spartan. Most use big in-line Japanese four cylinder engines which can produce meaty 200 bhp powerbands. The Spartan uses Ducati's 170 hp (106 kW) 1198 cc V-twin in a race chassis - there are no frills and the use of carbon fiber bodywork and the barest of essentials results in a kerb weight of 350 kg. Then there's the sound of the engine that won this year's World Superbike title just behind your left ear and the promise it feels at one with the driver ... it appears to be the perfect four-wheeled execution of the Ducati ethos. Fantastic picture library with this one.  Read More

There is no doubt that autonomous capabilities will eventually permeate every aspect of pe...

A thinktank headed by Volkswagen Group Research has re-conceptualized the delivery vehicle and come up with a thought-provoking commercial EV concept vehicle named the eT! The eT! drives semi-autonomously on voice commands such as "follow me" and "come to me" and the driver can also steer from the passenger side using a joystick. There's an electric sliding door that opens in two stages for quick walk-on access, reducing the need for walking around the vehicle. For even quicker turnaround, the passenger side features a standing seat.  Read More

If you are planning to purchase a car in the near future, you'd be well served by checking...

It's a well known fact that simply driving a new car away from the dealership is one of the most horrifically expensive things you'll ever do. ALG measures automotive residual values in the American marketplace - that is, the value of a car when you sell it, three years after purchase. Depreciation of the value of a car is often the largest part of the cost of ownership, and hence a good performance in ALG's Annual Residual Value Awards is a strong indication of how much that brand will cost to drive, and for the average man in the street, the current retained-value king is Subaru. Fuji Heavy Industries Subaru brand has now won the award three years running, with Lexus regaining top spot amongst luxury brands. The report suggests that German and American manufacturers are a long way behind Japanese (11 of the 21 awards) manufacturers in this critical but often overlooked aspect of real car ownership costs.  Read More

Russian Aircraft Company's MiG-29

Russian Aircraft Company's MiG is best known for its fighter planes which have been used by the USSR, China, North Korea and North Vietnam since the beginning of WWII. These days, the former Government-owned RAC MiG is a publicly traded entity and competes on the open market with its technologies, having more than 1600 of its MiG-29 fighters in operation in 25 countries. Now MiG is claiming a major first in military aviation with the launch of a 3D flight simulator at the Dubai Air Show, providing volumetric visualization of beyond-the-cockpit space for trainee top guns. The simulator comes complete with the MiG-29’s cockpit and actual control systems.  Read More

The three new concepts - the D-X (top left), PICO (bottom left) and FC ShoCase (top right)

Daihatsu is Japan's oldest car maker, celebrating its sixtieth year of production this year, having honed its skills in micro-vehicle design in an environment where space is at a premium, and the roads are as congested as any country on earth. Toyota's controlling interest looks set to pay off as the world is belatedly realising that small cars are the future. The three new concept cars it will exhibit at the Tokyo Motor Show two weeks from now point the way to the future in several ways.  Read More

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