Some of you may already know this, but back in early 2007, the U.S. state of Texas banned all speed cameras and then the following year recorded the lowest ever vehicle causality rate since counting began 75 years ago. Reports are claiming that the biggest state in America is set to take another huge step to help slow the road toll even more.
Some controversial research has previously shown that driving consistently at higher speeds on highways is actually safer than slower speeds as it forces drivers to be more alert. Taking into consideration the fact that the Autobahn is extremely safe with many regions not having speed limits, it wouldn’t be out of the question to raise speed limits in Texas.
That’s exactly what the Texas Department of Transportation is planning to do. The highest speed you’re allowed to legally travel in Texas is currently 80 miles per hour on select roads, but the TDOT plans to increase that to 85 mph on State Highway 130 which travels from San Antonio all the way to Austin.
Understandably, many people are outraged by this proposal and before anything goes ahead, the TDOT will have to conduct extensive speed tests to make sure the road is actually safe to be driven on at 85 mph. However, speed management director for the TDOT, Darren McDaniel is confident the road is up for the job claiming it “was designed under extremely high design parameters.”
If the changes do go through and the results are positive, then expect other U.S. states to go down a similar route.
Every now and again we come across something of such creative genius that we just cannot get enough of it. The above video is one example of someone taking a new technology – pocket projector – and doing something so bad ass that it’ll be forever etched in our memory. In this example, the folks at The Theory have taken a pocket projector and fed it video of various movements of a police chase and projected that chase throughout a room.
It sounds simple and pretty stupid on paper, but once you watch it, you’ll see the creative genius that we are talking about. All of the motions of the characters are precisely timed and actually look realistic, even though they are happening in 2-D.
To make matters even better, the folks at The Theory pulled at our auto strings a little harder by including a Ford GT40 in the chase, which is something that none of us would ever see in a lifetime.
Have a look at the video above and get a few chuckles on us. While you’re at it, think about how much time this filmmaking duo must have put into this video. We can’t help but think how much technology has progressed in the last decade, considering that projectors that could put out images like in this video were the size of a small desk and cost over $1,000.
The technology behind the device is just as amazing as the ingenuity behind the video… Enjoy.
In the last year, we have seen Mazda’s SKYACTIV technology make its way into various vehicles in an effort to increase fuel efficiency without reinventing the wheel. These technologies include advanced weight reduction, reduced friction, forced induction, and ultra-high compression ratings. All of these advancements combine to boost the fuel economy ratings of Mazda’s street cars.
Now Mazda is ready to take SKYACTIV to the next level, and introduce it into racing, via the Grand-Am Road Racing Series. The first engine that Mazda will offer to race teams is the 2.2-liter SKYACTIV-D engine, which is an ultra-high-efficiency diesel engine. Now, before you start wondering how Mazda expects this engine to be competitive in the Grand-Am series, keep in mind that this engine will only be raced in the GX class, which is a class dedicated to alternative fuels and highly fuel efficient vehicles.
The SKYACTIV-D that is currently being developed will boast a 14-to-1 compression ratio, a two-stage turbocharger and a 5,200 rpm redline. In comparison to the current Mazda 2 .2-liter diesel engine, the SKYACTIV-D is 10 percent lighter, has 20 percent less internal friction, and gets 20 percent better fuel economy.
The production numbers are not out yet for this racing engine, but we do know that the production SKYACTIV 2.2-liter diesel produces 173 horsepower at 4,500 rpm and an impressive 310 pound-feet of torque at just 2,000 rpm. We will update you with the official base numbers once Mazda completes the dyno phase of its testing.
Click past the jump to read the full press release.
Turbochargers were once only used to bump up horsepower and torque figures on tuned cars in the Japanese mountains, but as the years have rolled on they’ve become more popular to increase fuel-efficiency while not limiting power or taking away from the driving capabilities of a car.
This incredible increase is partially due to the fact that both Ford and General Motors have really begun developing and implementing turbo technology into its new models. In addition to these startling figures, it has also been revealed that in 2008, just 2% of all passenger vehicles produced in the U.S. came fitted with a turbo, but this rose to 9.5% in 2011 and is expected to soar to 23.5% in the next five years.
Vice President for the American branch of Honeywell, Tony Schultz stated "With fuel prices being a significant concern for consumers and businesses, turbochargers are a smart choice for getting more miles to the gallon. Turbocharging technology has been a fuel economy driver for decades in the United States for the on- and off-highway commercial vehicle market, as well as in global passenger vehicle markets like Europe," added Schultz.
Curiously however, no details have been revealed about sales of superchargers, either by themselves or fitted to cars, and perhaps this indicates that superchargers are on the way out.
And that makes us very sad.
Superchargers operate on pretty much the same premise as turbo’s, except for the fact they’re directly connected to the given engine through a belt or crankshaft, and as we all know, they provide the most glorious sound at full throttle. However, we do have that sinking feeling...
Our friends over at Autocar are reporting a nice tidbit of tech news on the new Toyota GT 86. According to GT 86 project engineer, Tetsuya Tada, Toyota is working on a black-box system for the GT 86 that will monitor all of the car’s main functions (i.e. braking, accelerating, stability, acceleration, speed, etc.).
In short, the black-box system is nothing new, but what Toyota plans to do with it is. Engineers are working on installing software on the black box that is compatible with the PlayStation 3. At the same time, Toyota is hard at work mapping out all of the major tracks and raceways around the world and uploading them into the black box. All the driver has to do is take the GT 86 to a mapped track on the black box and drive the hell out of his car.
Once the driver has finished his track day, just hook up the black box to a PlayStation 3 and upload the data. After all of the data is uploaded, the driver can compare his data from the track with other GT 86 drivers that have run on the same track, making for some friendly racing, without the risks of swapping paint. This system will also provide pointers for performing better at the track and maximizing the GT 86’s potential.
Seems like a pretty cool idea on paper, but the issue becomes the fact that some street racers may find a way to upload public streets, then you have GT 86 drivers driving like maniacs on busy roads trying to beat their buddy’s time around the block. We hope that the engineers find a way to block this possibility prior to releasing it, if it ever becomes a reality.
For those that snag up GT 86s before this system debuts can easily retro-fit it onto older GT 86 models.
You know when people say that "diamonds are a girl’s best friend?" Apparently, it’s also pretty close to German tuner Gemballa .
In what could be one of the flashiest, gaudiest, and downright most expensive new aftermarket products, Gemballa has introduced the "Genuine Diamond Coating." As the name clearly suggests, the diamond coating is the world’s very first exterior and interior diamond coating. And here we thought that Swarovski crystals were already a tad over the top. Silly us, right?
According to Gemballa CEO Andreas Schwarz, the German tuner isn’t kidding when they mean diamond coating. "When GEMBALLA speaks of diamonds, we really mean it", Schwarz explains. "Our complex process uses genuine diamonds as its key ingredient - not metal pigments, glass fragments, or crystals."
The process in creating diamond coating is a doozy. In order to ensure the product is ready to be ’coated,’ Gemballa ensures that grinding the diamonds into small enough sizes is done with painstaking attention-to-detail, all while ensuring that the diamonds don’t lose their brilliance. From there, it’s a matter of coating the car with the pulverized diamonds.
We gotta give props to Gemballa for thinking about doing something like this, even if it sounds and looks as extravagant - diamonds! - as any tuning program we’ve seen in recent memory. We’re curious to see how much this sparkly paint job will cost.
A few weeks back, we reviewed BMW’s Active Sound system, the system that pipes V-10 engine sounds through the stereo system. We dubbed this system a useless gimmick because a turbo V-8 is a damn fine sounding engine, but owners cannot opt to turn it off without pulling a fuse that also turns off the entire stereo system. Well, it looks like BMW is not alone in this game.
Starting In 2014, Maserati will be selling its first ever diesel-powered vehicle, the Kubang SUV to compete with the Porsche Cayenne diesel in the European market. What Car? asked Maserati’s Vice President of Product Development, Roberto Corradi, about the notoriously beautiful engine sounds that Maserati buyers know and love in their cars and its potential effect on the sales of this diesel SUV.
Corradi responded by stating that engineers are working on using the Kubang’s stereo system to give it a nice engine note. This can only be interpreted as Maserati piping in fake engine sounds through the stereo. Unlike the BMW M5, we see a purpose for this, just like we do in electric cars, as these economic diesel engines just don’t sound cool. This piping in sounds of a high-performance engine can make drivers feel more like they are driving a true Maserati rather than a slower diesel model.
All we ask of Maserati is to install an “On/Off” switch that allows its owner to shut this feature off if he prefers natural engine sounds. As long as that’s taken care of, we have no problem with this feature and actually find it pretty neat.
Remember when TPMS was just a cool feature on BMW , GM, and Mercedes vehicles? In 2006, the NHTSA and DOT came together to make it a law for all incoming 2007 vehicles to have direct TPMS standard. When this happened, the tire industry released a collective “Oh man, are you serious?” Well, now another company is taking the simplifying of tire pressure an extra step beyond a flashing indicator saying “Hey, put some air in the tires, please!”
That’s right; starting with the 2013 model year, Nissan will include a system that actually activates the horn when the tires have reached their correct pressure on all of its cars. This all comes on the heels of a successful test of the system on the 2013 Altima . No more “confusing” tire pressure gauges to fumble around with. In all seriousness though, this is actually an ingenious idea. When I was in the tire business, you have no idea how many times a customer would roll up asking us to put 44 psi in his 1995 Cavalier’s tires because that’s what the sidewall of the tire says is the max pressure, or his grandfather once told him that more air increases gas mileage.
So now when you are whipping down the road in your 2013 370Z and that pesky “Low Pressure” light starts flashing, you can just fill `er up `till it beeps. Why not take it a step further and just install a small compressor that fires up and adds air to the tire as you drive via a vein that runs through the casting of the rim?
We’re kidding Mr. and Mrs. Automotive Engineer, if that happens we all had better just stay off of the road, because if you can’t inflate your tires due to lack of knowledge, you shouldn’t be driving in the first place. Let’s all hope that never happens.
Click past the jump to read Nissan’s press release.
Prior to his death, ex-TVR owner, Peter Wheeler, decided that despite the fact that he no longer owned TVR , he still had the fire to build wild and crazy cars. From that fire began the project that he dubbed the Scamander, which is named after the Greek river god. This amphibious machine came to life just before Wheeler’s death, but it was a very rough machine that still needed a lot of work to be perfect.
After his death, Wheeler’s wife and a group of engineers completed Wheeler’s project and made it into something that Wheeler would have been proud of. This RRV, as Wheeler called it, has a V-6 turbocharged engine that cranks out about 300 horsepower and is said to hit 60 mph in eight seconds. To boot, it has an impeller on its rear end for propulsion in the wet stuff. This impeller certainly beats the rear wheel-mounts paddles that were on the original prototype Scamander.
Image note: The images provided are of the concept version of the Scamander.
Welcome to Part II of our series on what the future holds for transmissions and just what technologies are on the rise and expected to overthrow the current might of the dual-clutch transmission. On the agenda today is a company by the name of Zeroshift, which is another British gearbox manufacturer who have been developing their seamless shifting transmission since 2002. They have come up with a recipe which they believe will eventually funnel down to millions of production cars.
If you thought Xtrac’s Instantaneous Gearshift System was hard to understand, then get a load full of how Zeroshift’s breakthrough transmission operates. The Zeroshift system replaces the standard synchromesh system with a pair of interlocking rings which overlap one another and are then mounted onto a dog ring. These two rings transfer torque in opposite directions resulting in the left-hand ring driving the gear to the right and the right-hand ring driving the gear to left.
Under hard acceleration, both rings are pulled to the side of first gear and just before the car hits maximum revs, one of the rings shifts over to the right in preparation of 2nd gear being selected. All said and done, the Zeroshift system can literally shift gears in zero seconds resulting in breathtaking acceleration capabilities.
In fact, Zeroshift’s managing director Bill Martin is so proud of this system that he is sure that if the Zeroshift system arrived first, dual-clutch transmissions would never have been invented.
As of yet no production cars are using this system, however the Joss JP1 , Australia’s first ever supercar, will be using Zeroshift’s seamless gear change technology when it hits the production line in a few years. In fact, this system is so effective that the Joss JP1 is capable of hitting 62 mph in less than 3.0 seconds and 100 mph in an incredible 6.0 seconds.
What’s more amazing about these performance times is that the JP1 is only expected to be fitted with a 6.6-liter V-8 engine producing around 500 horsepower, yet it can achieve similar performance times to that of the Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 and Pagani Huayra , both of which have significantly more powerful engines.
Oh yeah, and we forgot to mention that a top speed of 224 mph is also expected. Not bad for something coming from the ‘Land Down Under.’
Unfortunately, the Zeroshift seamless gear-change system is unlikely to hit mass production for a few more years, but it is clear that the double-clutch gearbox is coming to the end of its relatively short life.