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The New BMW M6 Convertible

June 20, 2006 The world-famous performance division of BMW, M GmbH today unveiled the BMW M6 Convertible, continuing its tradition of producing ultra-performance luxury vehicles for the genuine motoring enthusiast. In terms of performance, it’s just the open air version of one of the world’s most capable performance vehicles. It shares all the same features as the M6 Coupe, including the back-to-back Engine Of The Year 5.0-litre V10, the variable M Differential Lock, the M Power button, Electronic Damper Control, new generation Dynamic Stability Control, Head-Up Display, a Sequential M Gearbox (SMG) complete with Drivelogic, a suspension developed for supreme dynamics and lap times on the longer Nordschleife loop of the fabled Nurburgring circuit are almost as fast as in the Coupe. The M6 Convertible immediately slots into the top bracket of the most desirable open sports cars available.  Read More

Mazda MX-5 gets electrically-retractable hard top

June 20, 2006 Mazda will use the 2006 British International Motor Show (July 18-30) to publicly debut a new version of its top-selling Mazda MX-5 Miata equipped with a powered retractable hard top roof. Now in its 17th year of production and third generation of design, the MX-5 is already the top selling sports car of all time and can be expected to get a significant lease of life with the newfound convenience of an electrical hardtop.  Read More

Grand Challenge winner talks autonomous robotic vehicles of the future

June 19, 2006 Those who had a passing interest in the DARPA Grand Challenge and the field of autonomous robotics will no doubt be interested to learn of AutoBlog’s recent article reporting on Dr. Sebastian Thrun's keynote presentation at the 2006 Sensors Expo. Thrun you may recall, was the project leader of Stanford University’s Volkswagen-based autonomous vehicle (aka Stanley) which won DARPA’s Grand Challenge for autonomous vehicles, hence ensuring himself a place in history. Apart from being director of Stanford's Artificial Intelligence Lab and Associate Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University, we believe that robotics will become so ubiquitous one day, Thrun's work will be regarded as landmark in the same way that the Wright Brothers first flight is revered. Thrun openly discussed Stanley’s technology and even gets into the future of autonomous navigation on the roads.  Read More

General Motors, DaimlerChrysler and BMW premiere two-mode hybrid technology

June 19, 2006 UPDATED with extensive image and diagram library Details of the hybrid drive system under co-development by General Motors, DaimlerChrysler and BMW have been released and the new system is quite a technological feat due to the full integration of electric motors with a fixed-gear transmission. As a result of its low- and high-speed electric continuously variable transmission (ECVT) modes, the system is commonly referred to as the 2-mode hybrid. The system also incorporates four fixed gear ratios for high efficiency and power-handling capabilities. During the two ECVT modes and four fixed gear operations, the hybrid system can use the electric motors for boosting and regenerative braking. Traditional “one-mode” hybrid systems typically have only one torque-splitting arrangement and no fixed mechanical ratios. Due to their less capable mechanical content, one-mode hybrids need to transmit a significant amount of power through an electrical path that is 20 percent less efficient than a mechanical path. Working collaboratively, the group has conceived a full hybrid system featuring four fixed mechanical ratios, within the two ECVT modes, to reduce power transmission through the less efficient electrical path. Consequently, the electric motors are more compact and less dependent on engine size.  Read More

Audi triumphs with TDI diesel at Le Mans 24 hour

June 18, 2006 AUDI AG has written an important chapter in the history of motor racing with its historic triumph in the Le Mans 24 Hour race. The new Audi R10 TDI was the first diesel car to win arguably the toughest car race in the world. In front of a record crowd of 235,000 spectators, Frank Biela (Germany), Emanuele Pirro (Italy) and Marco Werner (Germany) clinched the sixth and most important Le Mans win for Audi so far. Dindo Capello (Italy), Tom Kristensen (Denmark) and Allan McNish (Scotland) also achieved a podium in finishing third overall.  Read More

General Motors debuts panoramic windscreen

June 18, 2006 General Motors’ Astra range is available across the world under different brand names which are comfortably familiar to the locals such as Ion (planned for U.S.), Opel (Europe), Vauxhall (UK) and Holden (Australia), yet benefit from the best of GM's worldwide design capability such as the TwinTop. One innovation certain to have all countries holding their breath will be the new UK-only-at-this-stage Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch which is now available with a Panoramic windscreen. After an initial run on GTC models, the Panoramic roof will be available as an UKP850 (1250 Euro) option across the Astra Sport Hatch range. The windscreen is made of heat-absorbing glass and extends backwards past the driver’s head, to offer what GM claims is “an unusual yet stimulating driving experience, and a feeling of freedom from behind the wheel.” An electric blind can be slid forward should you crave some more shade. Extensive image section.  Read More

Audi's new magnetic semi-active suspension system

June 18, 2006 The Audi TT is a cult car, an icon –from the day it made its debut, in autumn 1998, it took the sports coupe segment by storm, sharpening the brand's profile in the process. We reported on the coming of the second generation of this successful model in April but overlooked one of the most interesting facets of the new machine which uses a completely new form of damping technology developed in conjunction with Delphi that resolves the age-old conflict between comfort and driving dynamics without countenancing any of the otherwise unavoidable compromises. As a continuously adaptive system, it adapts the damping characteristic to the profile of the road and the driver's gear-shifting habits within just a few milliseconds. The shock absorber pistons on the TT do not contain conventional oil, but a magneto-rheological fluid – a synthetic hydrocarbon oil in which microscopically small magnetic particles measuring between three and ten microns are enclosed. When a voltage is applied to a coil – by means of a pulse delivered by a control unit – a magnetic field is created in which the alignment of the particles changes. They position themselves transversely to the direction of flow of the oil, and so inhibit its flow through the piston channels. This alters the characteristic of the damping characteristic much faster than is the case in conventional adaptive dampers.  Read More

Peugeot unveils V12 HDi DPFS diesel motor

June 16 2006 A year ago this week, Peugeot announced its decision to take up a new technological challenge: to win the Le Mans 24 Hours race with a car powered by an HDi diesel engine. Though much of the potential thunder of winning in a diesel has been usurped by the already dominant perfrormanc eof the Audi disel race cars this year, Peugeot intends to use the race effort to showcase its brand values: reliability, dynamic performance, style illustrated by the feline lines and, finally, innovation expressed, amongst other means, by the use of environmentally friendly technology. The level of performance expected – more than 515kW (700 bhp) of power and a torque output greater than 1.200 Nm – is without precedent in a diesel engine and is a direct result of Peugeot’s current level of know-how in diesel technology, linked to the mechanical characteristics of the V12.  Read More

Audi TDI diesel claims Le Mans pole

June 16, 2006 The Le Mans 24 Hour race will be held this weekend and as we’ve been suggesting for some time, there’s a big chance that the brutally fast Audi R10 TDI will create history becoming the first diesel to win the legendary event and marking a changing of the guard in motor-racing. We've previously reported on the development of the world's fastest diesel car and the R10's first big win at Sebring in March, but Just to make Le Mans even more worthwhile following, both 650-hp diesel Audi R10 TDI cars will start from the front row on Saturday at 1700 hrs French time, having qualified a whopping two seconds faster than any of the petrol-engined competitors. The race can be followed live on the internet.  Read More

Renault presents research into fuel cells

June 14, 2006 Renault will be presenting the progress it has made in fuel cell research at the 16th World Hydrogen Energy Conference in Lyons, France this week. The presentations will illustrate Renault's decision to opt for vehicles powered by fuel cells with reformers in order to apply hydrogen energy to the automobile. This technology directly produces the hydrogen on demand and on board the vehicle, solving the problem of very high-pressure or cryogenic storage. Since 2002, Renault, Nissan and Nuvera Fuel Cells have been working together on this solution, which can be used immediately, without waiting for a hydrogen distribution network to be established.  Read More

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