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Automotive

The Peugeot 908 V12 HDi DPFS

October 3, 2006 Over the years, we’ve often had emails from technology fans asking what motorsport has to do with our primarily advanced technology menu and our response is always that new technology is not just about doing it different but doing it better. Motorsport is different – motorsport requires doing it best. That means that you won’t even be competitive unless you have world’s best practice or thereabouts in every single aspect of a race team, let alone the design of the car and the quality of driver. So when one of the world’s top manufacturers sets out with a goal of starting from scratch and winning a world class event, we figure that’s a smorgasbord of fascinating technologies and organization worth exploring. In June 2005, Peugeot announced its decision to accept a new technological challenge: to win one of the world’s most prestigious and demanding motor races, the Le Mans 24 Hours, with a car powered by an HDi diesel engine equipped with a diesel particulate filter system (DPFS). This week, the company unveiled the race car and a lot of the details.  Read More

The world’s first commercially-available electric-solar hybrid, and a sporty one at that

October 2, 2006 It’s not often we get lead stories on consecutive days from the same company (never before in fact) but French transportation futurists Venturi have done it again – this time with the first solar electric hybrid to be commercialised in the world. Named Astrolab (latin astro = star, labe = to take) because it takes its energy from the sun in order to move, the solar commuter is capable of working with very little energy (16 kW engine) and of recharging even when in motion, and does not need to be permanently exposed to the sun in order to move. The car’s performance is remarkably close to that of a petrol-engined vehicle as it has a top speed of 120 kmh and a minimum range of 110 km. To attain this level of performance while using very little energy, the Astrolab has been designed like a Formula 1 car with an ultra-light carbon monocoque chassis serving as an oversized protection cell in the event of a collision and at the same time offering a large surface for the 3.6 square metres of photovoltaic cells. Its profile recalls the aqua-dynamic design of great racing yachts and Venturi draws the parallel between Astrolab and a sailboat : both advance silently while making best use of the elements and both offer sensations unlike any other. Its designer Sacha Lakic describes Astrolab as “a flying wing set on four wheels.”Astoundingly, it’s not just a show car - EUR92,000 will buy you one and the first vehicles are scheduled for delivery in January, 2008. Do be sure to see yesterday’s equally remarkable story about the world’s first energy-autonomous vehicle. Venturi, we salute you!  Read More

Renault’s Twingo communicating city car concept

October 2, 2006 After previewing its spectacular Nepta Concept with motor-driven gull wing doors in the weeks leading up to the Paris Show, we figured Renault had played all its cards, but we were very wrong. At the opening of the show, Renault trotted out the youth-culture-inspired Twingo Concept, the most wired and desirable city car we’ve yet seen. The centre console features a USB port as well as sockets for devices like an Apple iPod and the Nokia Smartphone. A mixing deck built into the dashboard is ideal for partying with friends. The tiny city car is no slouch – powered by a turbocharged 1.2-litre engine delivering 73kW (100hp), the Twingo combines efficiency, response, power and environmental friendliness.  Read More

Honda shows next-generation diesel engine

October 2, 2006 Honda has developed a next-generation diesel engine that reduces exhaust gas emissions to a level equal to a petrol engine and expects to have the engine available in its U.S. market cars within three years. The engine employs an NOx catalytic converter that enables a reduction in NOx emissions sufficient to meet stringent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Tier II Bin 5 emission requirements. This catalytic converter uses the reductive reaction of ammonia generated within the catalytic converter to “detoxify” nitrogen oxide (NOx) by turning it into harmless nitrogen (N2).  Read More

The first energy-autonomous vehicle

October 2, 2006 There is no doubt that if you rated all the automotive companies in the world on their forward thinking and commitment to commercialising new concepts in sustainable mobility, Monaco-based Venturi would win by a country mile. The company which produced the world’s first available electric sportscar (see articles here here and here), recently announced it would partner with Intel to make energy sharing possible via the Venturi Fetish platform and now it has debuted the first energy-autonomous vehicle and despite its non-traditional appearance, production has already begun. The urban 3-seater electro-solar vehicle named the Eclectic goes well beyond anything previously offered by car manufacturers, being the first vehicle powered entirely by renewable energies, the first solar production vehicle and the first car that can be directly recharged with a personal wind turbine. A limited run of 200 vehicles will be available in June 2007 at a price of EUR24,000. The company is shooting for an even higher level of production from 2009 at an estimated base price of EUR15,000. Innovative and astonishing, Eclectic is much more than a simple vehicle ; it is a production and storage plant for renewable energies, either solar or wind based. Charging of these energies, which is intermittent in certain regions, can also be complemented by electrical recharging.  Read More

Ford iosis X concept

Updated October 2, 2006 Ford of Europe's Design team has interpreted the Company's distinctive new 'kinetic design' form language in an exciting new crossover concept - the iosis X – which makes its debut at the 2006 Paris Motor Show. One of the specific purposes of iosis X is to prepare the public for the introduction of a future Ford of Europe niche model. Ford Europe’s CEO John Fleming, President and CEO, Ford of Europe. "The iosis X is intended to send a very strong message that we will be entering this market in around eighteen months from now, and that our new model will be both stylish and individual."  Read More

Audi launches the R8 Mid-engined Supercar

Updated October 2, 2006 On the eve of the 2006 Paris Motor Show, Audi has unveiled its R8 supercar. Audi Chairman, Dr Martin Winterkorn told the assembled press how the R8 project had been a very personal one for him, having started the process when he returned to Audi as chairman in 2002, and having overseen the design and engineering teams for the past four years. “Everyone has been looking forward to this day, the world premiere of our first mid-engined sports car. It is a key moment in the history of Audi.” The mid-engined two-seater is powered by a five-litre V10 ‘biturbo’ engine with FSI direct fuel injection, developing 449 kW (610 bhp) at 6,800 rpm. Previous article and details here.  Read More

Subaru develops horizontally opposed Turbo Diesel engine

September 29, 2006 Subaru Europe President Hiroyuki Ikeda dropped an unexpected announcement in his Paris motor show speech when he mentioned that the company was working on a SubaruBoxer Turbo Diesel and that development is nearly complete. The horizontally opposed engine layout made famous by Volkswagen has long been favoured by Subaru and has been the mainstay of its fleet for more than three decades with its latest effort winning first place in the 2.5-liter class of the International Engine of the Year Awards. Though it’s logical that the company would develop the world’s first horizontally opposed diesel engine, there are many technical difficulties to overcome, so it was by no means regarded as a given. Anyway, we have the drawings in high res and we suspect it’ll be a beauty.  Read More

Ford’s tricky F-450 Series Super Duty with bed-extender

September 29, 2006 Ford’s top-selling work truck, the F-Series Super Duty, has been overhauled for the 2008 model year and will go on sale in early 2007 with a new range-topping F-450 pickup as the star of the show. The F-450 can handle payloads in excess of 6,000 pounds, has a towing capacity of more than 24,000 pounds, and can be powered by the well-known 362-horsepower 6.8-liter V-10 Triton gasoline engine, or a new 6.4-liter Power Stroke Diesel that delivers 350 horsepower at 3,000 rpm and 650 lb.-ft. of torque starting at 2,000 rpm. The bit that really caught our eye though, was the ingenious two-piece stowable bed extender.  Read More

Sportshift – the automated manual transmission  from Aston Martin

September 29, 2006 One of the genuinely interesting aspects of a major motor show such as the 2006 Paris Motor Show, is just how much genuinely innovative new design gets buried because there is indeed so much information being blasted at the assembled media. One such gem which will probably not get its share of media attention because Ford is looking to sell off the loss-making sports car manufacturer is the Aston Martin automated manual transmission option for the V8 Vantage – Sportshift. Sportshift adds electro-hydraulic control to the existing Vantage 6-speed manual gearbox to offer improved shift times and replaces the conventional manual gear lever with push button controls on the centre console to select ‘Auto Drive’, ‘Reverse’ or ‘Neutral’.  Read More

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