After the luxury car builders from Germany Audi and Mercedes Benz unveiled their electric super car concepts at the Frankfurt Motor show, it looks like the luxury super car builder Rolls Royce is planning a shocking ride of their own. Apparently back at the Goodwood revival a spokesman for the classic English brand turned German owned coachbuilder has been toying around with the idea of a battery powered Rolls Royce Phantom . The Phantom is one of the unique cars that could actually see some weight savings by replacing the rather large gas burning V12 power plant with a lithium ion battery pack, not that the bulky electric motors would make much of a difference to the current luxury sedan’s nearly three ton curb weight.
The obvious benefits of an electric car that would fit in perfectly with Rolls Royce’s perfect passenger experience like an almost silent ride, zero emission operation and loads of torque that will be instantaneously available starting at 0 RPM, perfectly suiting the luxury brand’s wafting acceleration. The only problem that we foresee with an all electric Phantom, and is the same for any battery powered vehicle, is how will the German engineers be able to give the large luxury sedan a suitable range due to the weight of the components that are driven by the flow of electrons.
Perhaps Rolls Royce’s parent company, BMW can figure out how to fit the working parts of the new Vision EfficientDynamics Concept underneath the coach built bodywork of a next generation Phantom. Perhaps the answer to an all electric super car is a small displacement diesel engine with its incredible range and efficiency is the ideal solution to keeping the ultra low emissions hybrid luxury vehicle running long after any lithium ion battery would run out.
Along with the rest of the automotive industry, the German luxury car builder BMW announced that they are planning to follow a recipe of downsizing and turbo charging their vehicle’s power plants in an attempt to meet the stringent Corporate Average Fuel Economy regulations that have been set forth by the U.S. Government stating that every automaker’s lineup must have an average fuel economy of 35 MPG by 2015. It was at last week’s Frankfurt Motor show that BMW North America CEO, Jim O’Donnell spoke with Automotive News about the automaker’s plans to sell four cylinder equipped vehicles in the U.S. by 2012.
The innovative German automaker sees the use of BMW’s next generation turbocharger technology along with smaller displacement engines as a way of generating output levels on par with today’s engines but with much greater fuel mileage and much less emissions. The CAFE regulations state that automakers must improve the fuel economy of their fleets by 5 percent every year leading up to the national standard of 35.5 MPG for the 2016 model year.
Across the pond, BMW already sells a European 3 Series with a four cylinder power plant under the hood, the automaker’s hope is that America will be just as accepting because they are planning on downsizing the drive trains of the next generation 3 Series as well as the X1 and X3 compact sports activity vehicles. O’Donnell sounds hopeful, saying “we see potentially a significant market that could get to 100,000 four cylinder engines” in the U.S. of course. If everything goes according to the automaker’s plans, then the Germans should be good by the year 2012, three years before the deadline set by Congress. Hopefully that will leave them some time to come up with a true 2002 tii successor .
The Italian automaker Alfa Romeo has just unveiled the new revolutionary MultiAir system, that is being made available for the first time on the compact MiTo hatchback. The new 1.4 Liter MultiAir engine will be available at the vehicle’s launch and will come in two different versions: the first is a 135 HP 1.4 Liter variant as well as a more economical 105 HP version. The MultiAir MiTo will also be offered in a high performance 170 HP MultiAir Turbobenzina offering later on this year.
Compared to the conventional gas burning engine of the same displacement, FPT guarantees that the MultiAir system will increase power up to 10% and torque another 15%; as well as a significant reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, both up to 10%. At the same time particulate contamination is reduced by as much as 40% while NOx is reduced by up to 60%.
The MultiAir system eliminates the need for a throttle body and allows the engineers infinite control over the valves that bring fresh air into the combustion chamber. The design places the lobes for both intake and exhaust on the same camshaft. The exhaust operates as it would in a convention four stroke internal combustion engine, but the third bump actuates a roller rocker arm attached to the MultiAir setup which is then electronically controlled to open and close the intake valve by the flow of pressurized engine oil. As befits a flag-bearer for the downsizing concept, the MultiAir is a versatile system that is easily applicable to all petrol engines that may potentially be developed for diesel engines in the future.
Ford has just revealed earlier today their new 6.7 Liter Power Stroke V8 Turbocharged Diesel Engine that will replace the current heavy duty diesel engine supplied by Navistar. The new engine will make its debut in the next-generation F-Series Super Duty trucks.
The capability and reliability found in the new 6.7 Liter diesel engine starts with the engine block. The new Power Stroke’s block is made from compacted graphite iron (CGI), which is about twice as strong as regular gray cast iron. While this is the first use of a CGI block in North America in this class of vehicle, Ford has successfully used the material in engine blocks in other products around the world.
Perhaps the diesel mills extended range due to its alternatively fueled nature would make it the perfect candidate to power the next Ford SVT Raptor to another strong finish at Baja. However due to the U.S. market’s dislike for the less refined crude product it would be hard to imagine this engine in anything other than a dedicated work truck.
When the Ronn Motor Company debuted the hydrogen powered Scorpion super car at the SEMA show last year, he let the world know that just because a car is green doesn’t mean that it has to be boring. So by asking the question, “How fast can you make water go?” RMC’s CEO Ronn Maxwell has embarked on an endeavor that will leave him amongst the likes of recent automotive pioneers like Tesla ’s Elon Musk and Henrik Fisker .
The Scorpion’s chrome-moly tube chassis is wrapped in a custom made carbon fiber skin thanks to the legendary Gaffoglio family from Metalcrafters. The exterior of the 40 MPG super car has enough bold curves and cutouts to secure its place as an exotic sports car. The heart of the RMC Scorpion is a 3.5 Liter V6 from an Acura TL that has been upgraded with a pair of Turbonetics turbochargers and a H2GO hydrogen injection system, this alternative fuel mixture increases fuel economy by 20% to 30% while reducing emissions at the same time. The combination is good for around 600 HP, which allows the 2200 pound super car to go from 0 to 60 MPH in just 3.5 seconds and reach a theoretical top speed of 200 MPH.
When Jay Leno officially hung up his gloves as a late-night talk show host, the prevailing thought was it was only a matter of time before he ends up in front of the cameras again.
Apparently, the return was sooner than most of us thought. Leno is scheduled to debut a one-hour prime-time show, which is predictably called, ‘The Jay Leno Show’, and being a true pistonhead, Leno is pitching to include an auto-racing event as one of his key segments.
While the format for this segment seems familiar – Leno actually copied it from Top Gear’s ‘Reasonably-Priced Car Challenge’ from which, ironically, he was one of the guest drivers – the ex-late night host is adding his own personal twist into this segment.
He’s calling it the “Green Car Challenge”, which will have celebrities racing around a specially-designed track inside the NBC compound in a – you guessed it – environmentally-friendly car.
The Cash for Clunkers program has given automakers a spike in their sales and while they’ve been reaping the rewards all to themselves, those who have been late to throw their hats on the program are finally doing so.
One car brand that has joined the fold is Audi, which is now extending an extra $1,000 incentive for every car sold under the government-funded CARS program on top of the rebates the program gives away.
Audi’s program only covers a limited number of its models – 18 2008 and 2009 models, to be exact. The newer models are still being discussed as eligible vehicles, although some of them, including the Audi A5 2.0T, have yet to be included because the EPA hasn’t certified the car’s fuel efficiency rating.
Audi America’s CEO, Mark Del Rosso said that the CFC program is a great opportunity for Americans to get their hands on a new Audi, which, for some of us, just might be too good an offer to pass up. It’s not all the time when you can say that you’re this close to purchasing either an A3 , A4 , A4 Avant, A4 Cabrio, TT Coupe or Roadster, a Q5 or many of their quattro variants. So when the opportunity presents itself, it’s something that’s definitely worth considering.
In a very bold move Nissan Jidosha Kabushiki-gaisha has made history by unveiling their first zero emissions vehicle intended for mass production. In an attempt to skip the gas/electric hybrid craze and jump directly into plug in electric vehicles, it might appear that Carlos Gohsen is set on taking over the world like a James Bond villain with the long awaited lithium ion beattery technology. This past Sunday the Japanese automaker unveiled the Nissan Leaf, a five door electric vehicle with a 100+ Mile range at their home base in Yokohama. The Leaf features a sharp, upright V-shaped body with a pair of slanted LED headlights that were designed to cleverly split and redirect airflow away from the door mirrors, thus reducing wind, noise and drag.
Those top secret batteries that we were talking about are made up of laminated lithium ion cells that are capable of delivering over 90 kW of power and weigh only 440 pounds. The battery pack sends it stored energy to the Leaf’s front mounted electric drive motor that only outputs 80 of those kilowatts for a maximum output of 107 HP. The interesting thing about an electric motor is that they make their peak torque at 0 RPM, we know this sounds crazy, but unlike the internal combustion engine, the amount of energy an electric motor can do is based upon how it was made and it delivers that power at one constant amount. That is a healthy 208 lb-ft of torque. The instantaneous power should provide off the line acceleration comparable to the Infiniti G35 sports car .
Of course the question with any purely electric vehicle is how long will it take to charge? Nissan claims that the Leaf will take 8 hours for a full charge from a 200 V source; so a high capacity 220 V outlet is recommended, otherwise it will take twice as long for a full charge from a standard 110 V AC outlet. There is an impressive 50 kW AC fast-charge capability. This allows for an 80% charge of the lithium ion batteries meaning you can go up to 80 miles with only a 30 minute charge, or if you are really in a hurry, you can get an additional 31 miles after being plugged in for only 10 minutes. Although the hardware necessary is a little too expensive for in home use, leave that up to your local municipality. The disadvantage of having to run with all that electronic gear onboard is the excess weight, however because it can be mounted low in the chassis it should make for a decent handling package.
The Japanese automaker Nissan ran into trouble in the U.S. and even in its own country in the mid 1990s. Here in the states, almost all turbocharged imports were getting a bad name because of eager enthusiasts blowing up their rotary Mazda ’s motor or the smog problems faced by cars like the almighty Toyota Supra. Even Nissan decided to pull the technologically advanced 300ZX TT off the market because it just became too expensive for a conservative market. At home, the twin turbo Z32 lived on until the year 2000, the all around excellent sports car found itself in a precarious position between the much more affordable and equally as desirable S15 Silvia and Godzilla himself, the R34 Skyline GT-R. At the end of the day Nissan killed off all of its turbo sports cars, but the Z was unfortunately the first to bite the dust.
Today the word turbo is more synonymous with efficiency than it is with power, so in an attempt to join automakers like Ford, BMW and Volkswagen with mass produced turbocharged vehicles, Nissan is adapting the World Class VQ engine to accept boost. The current VQ37HR engine, found in the Nissan 370Z and Infiniti G37 models, is an outstanding piece of engineering, however in order to get the most it has to bee run higher up in the RPM band which burns an excessive amount of gas. So the Japanese automaker is reportedly experimenting with downsizing and turbocharging the VQ as a means of efficiency. Hopefully there will be a few tricks from the the GT-R built in or even a twin turbo 3-something Z.
The lovable little Audi A3 will be receiving a couple of new power plants thanks to the Volkswagen Group. The four ringed automaker has added an alternatively fueled four cylinder engine to the lineup in order to satisfy diesel drivers in Europe as well as increase mileage and reduce emissions. The 1.6 Liter TDI will be offered in two flavors, the first making 90 HP and the second putting down 105 HP, while torque output for the two turbo diesel engines is significantly higher.
In Europe they would say that the 1.6 TDI A3 will consume only 4.1 liters of diesel fuel per 100 kilometers, whereas in the U.S. we would say that it gets 57.37 MPG, all while emitting minimal greenhouse gasses. This excellent ecological performance is made possible by the new vehicle’s start/stop and energy recovery systems. The turbo diesel A3 is no slouch either, the high output version is capable of going from 0 to 60 MPH in 11.4 seconds, not bad considering the vehicle gets about the same gas mileage as a Prius .