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A new supercar and a new concept in motorsport entertainment

November 20, 2005 We're not sure which is more significant - the fact that the Ascari KZ1 has proven itself to be a serious contender as one of the world's most desirable supercars, or the company's entrepreneurial move into motorsport entertainment. The Ascari KZ1 recently pushed the McLaren out of the elite top five fastest cars in BBC Top Gear's track tests, moving into exalted company as a supercar. But the company’s ambitions stretch far beyond that, with its Race Resort Ascari due for completion in 2006. Located near Marbella in the South of Spain, the resort will offer a world class racetrack, a luxury hotel, and an array of the world’s most exotic cars to drive – if they haven’t got it, any car you fancy can be arranged. So apart from building an aerodynamic GBP235,000 KZ1 with a super-light, super-strong carbon fibre monocoque car weighing just 1,330kg capable of exhilarating acceleration all the way to 200mph, the company has also created the first automotive resort for the mega wealthy. Big enough to hold a Formula 1 test team or a function with a difference and secluded enough to do it very elegantly. Our understanding is that many more automotive resorts will spring up around the world after this one as the demand for the facilities is already threatening to overwhelm their ability to supply.  Read More

The turbocharger turns 100 years old this week

November 18, 2005 The turbocharger , which has dominated the development of the internal combustion engine for the last 30 years, turned 100 years old this week. On 16 November 1905 Swiss engineer Dr. Alfred Buchi received patent No. 204630 from the Imperial Patent Office of the German Reich for a machine consisting of a compressor (turbine compressor), a piston engine, and a turbine in sequential arrangement. Porsche chose the occassion to introduce its very latest take on the turbocharger, this time with variable turbine geometry (VTG). This extensive article covers the development and major achievements of the turbocharger and the new VTG technology which realises even more efficiency, resulting in a significant improvement of engine flexibility and acceleration particularly at low engine speeds. In introducing the new 911 model some 31 years after it gave us the first series production sports car with an exhaust gas turbocharger (the 1974 Porsche 911 Turbo), Porsche will be presenting the world's first turbocharged gasoline engine with variable turbine geometry (VTG). The core features of VTG are the variable turbine blades guiding the flow of exhaust gas from the engine in exactly the direction required on to the turbine wheel of the exhaust gas turbocharger. The principle of variable turbine geometry thus combines the benefits of a small and large exhaust gas turbocharger all in one, with the combination ensuring both very good response and high torque at low engine speeds as well as superior output and high performance at high speeds. And the supreme level of torque is now maintained consistently throughout a much wider speed range.  Read More

EDAG's Cinema-on-wheels

November 17, 2005 The EDAG Cinema 7D concept car, the "cinema on wheels" has won the acclaimed red dot award for the mobility category. The concept car from the creative offices of the EDAG design studio beat international competitors from 24 countries to win the category with the award for innovative design be presented to Johannes Barckmann, manager of the EDAG Design Studio during the award ceremony in Singapore today. The “red dot” is awarded by the Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen, one of the oldest and most acclaimed design institutes in Europe, the award has international importance and is regarded worldwide as a trademark for high design quality. The award was presented from 1955 on as the “Rote Punkt” and since 1992 as “red dot”. With their industrial designs firms from Asia, North and South America and Europe take part in the competition and the winning products are presented in the special exhibition “Design Innovations”. The EDAG Cinema 7D” is the first prize winner of the new category “red dot award: Design Concept” for innovative design concepts.  Read More

Audi names new supercar after R8 racer

November 17, 2005 Audi has bestowed an extraordinary honour on its new sports car by naming it the R8. Presented at Frankfurt Motor Show two years ago as the “Le Mans quattro” concept, the new Audi sportscar will commence production in Q4, 2006 with a market launch scheduled for Q2, 2007. 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. Whilst it will immediately become one of the most desirable roadgoing cars in the world, it will carry a name of legendary motorsport achievement. Since its introduction in March, 2000, the R8 has won 61 races from 77 startsincluding the Le Mans 24 Hour five times and the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) six times in succession and has never had a single engine failure during a race.  Read More

Formula One HANS device inspires Renault’s 'Sleep Safe' head restraints

November 16, 2005 Over the last decade, the chance of surviving a serious crash in the front seats of a car has risen dramatically. So much so, that 70% of adult deaths and injuries are now suffered by those seated in the rear and it's not just adults at risk as more often than not it's children that are traveling in the rear seat. Renault has unveiled several new initiatives to improve rear seat safety, including one inspired by its World Championship winning Formula One team.  Read More

Road registerable driving simulator

November 15, 2005 Major automotive shows are a never-ending source of innovation fodder, as manufacturers manifest the ideas they’ve been working on into concept cars and carefully monitor, segment and learn from the public’s reaction. The SEMA show in Las Vegas seems to go a step further, with some outrageous ideas taking on showroom form though they’re never likely to ever become more than limited edition customs – these cars are designed to showcase capabilities and though they often seem remarkably indulgent, sometimes, they strike a chord and a whole new automotive concept materialises. Such is the case with this open-air, fully-drivable speedster concept from Five Axis and Scion (one of Toyota’s spin-off brands). It is a drivable driving simulator. Drive it somewhere, flip the hood, which hinges forward to create a screen, then light up the headrest mounted Casio XJ-560 video projector to create a two-seat video game peripheral for the car’s internal Microsoft XBOX 360 video game system. More than two drivers can be accommodated as the perspex nacelles behind the headrests pop open to reveal two 19” Samsung LCD screens. Last year at SEMA, the same folks created the xB mobile DJ vehicle. Manufacturers have been circling the entertainment on wheels concept for several years, with another notable concept being Honda's Fuya Jo.  Read More


In summarizing the opportunities for different technologies, there are some that we just can’t figure out. Why for example, are three wheelers so spectacularly unsuccessful in the marketplace when they make so much sense? There have been one or two notable three-wheeled motorized conveyances in history that have achieved success on some level – the Morgan and Reliant and maybe the Asian three wheeler known as the TUK-TUK but nothing of genuine mass appeal. The advantages of a three-wheeler are so great (light weight, stability, high power-weight, great fuel economy, narrow road footprint, protection to occupants), that we expect far more commercial success from the layout, particularly as the last five years has seen a raft of stunning concepts float across our pages, but none of them has yet proven successful. Check out this stunning array of three wheelers – Magnet, Hermes, Life-Jet, Rider, Skipee, the 20CUP and most recently, Toyota’s I-Swing. Now there’s another exciting three wheeler to have reached proof-of-concept stage – The Phiaro P67b ETERNITY has three weheels, two seats (arranged in tandem), a 50kW 660cc motor and it banks into corners like a motorcycle. It was designed in close collaboration with Dutch manufacturer Carver.  Read More

SAAB launches 9-5 BioPower flex-fuel models

November 14, 2005 , Saab Great Britain has announced that it is taking orders for the Saab 9-5 BioPower, a flex-fuel car whose fossil CO2 emission level can be reduced by as much as 70 per cent compared to a standard petrol-engined car. Saab BioPower technology means that the 9-5 model is capable of running on either a high-blend mixture of eco-friendly renewable energy source bioethanol and petrol (E85), or on pure petrol, without any adjustment required by the driver. Initially available with the 2.0t, 2-litre light-pressure turbo engine, UK prices for the Saab 9-5 BioPower begin at GBP21,651 on the road for the Saloon, and GBP22,851 for the Estate variant. A manual transmission will be available from launch, with an automatic variant to follow shortly after. First UK deliveries will commence in January 2006. The BioPower engine will be available in all 9-5 2.0t model ‘forms’; Linear, Linear Sport, Vector and Vector Sport, with a GBP600 price differential over the regular petrol models. The introduction of the Saab 9-5 BioPower into other countries will require more than just Saab’s good will though – an infrastructure will be necessary to supply fuel for the BioPower.  Read More

Intel partners with Venturi Fetish to make energy sharing possible

November 11, 2005 A strategic alliance between manufacturers of microchips and automobiles seems unlikely yet Intel and French Sports Car builder Venturi announced a pooling of their talents and resources yesterday, which has seen WiMAX wireless data communication technology incorporated into the Fetish, the world’s first all-electric sports car. We’ve previously reported on the Fetish here, here, here and here, but the addition of WIMAX adds considerably to the futuristic vision of Venturi - by incorporating an Alvarion pre-WiMAX wireless connection box into the car, the car will be in constant contact with its owner who can charge, discharge, or check the status from wherever they may be. WIMAX will also enable the factory to remotely monitor vehicle operation, fine-tune the car and even update on-board software. The data communication capability of the Fetish is just the first step on the road towards optimised energy management though. Thanks to WiMAX technology, the future Venturi vehicle - a solar powered electric vehicle - will usher in a new era of electric power-sharing networks in an urban environment. Using WiMAX technology, the fleet of vehicles will be remote-managed and each vehicle will be able to communicate with the others. Through its ability to store power and use wireless communications, the future electric car will be able to communicate with other vehicles, either to sell energy or to buy it. It could even act as a reservoir of energy for the State.  Read More

Ferrari Concepts on display

November 10, 2005 The new Ferrari’s concepts of the myth are now a reality. The selection of the 20 best nominees for the Ferrari of the future, created by automotive design students of four of the most prestigious schools worldwide (Center for Creative Studies of Detroit, Coventry School of Art and Design, European Institute of Design of Turin and Tokyo Communication Arts), are currently being exhibited at the Galleria Ferrari in Maranello. The students have been challenging themselves in the production of scale 1:4 Ferrari models, innovative and fresh in style and functionality as well as in external and internal volumes, proposing stimulating alternatives to the internationally acclaimed shapes of the current and previous mid-engined eight cylinder cars and the front-engined twelve cylinder cars.  Read More

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