Sunday, May 6, 2012

Porsche Boxster Diesel Possible Admits R&D Chief

2012-porsche-boxster An interesting report has surfaced from the 33rd Vienna Motor Symposium that revealed Porsche has diesel powerplants firmly in its strategy, while electric vehicles are not.

Speaking at the conference, Porsche R&D chief Wolfgang Hatz revealed that the German automaker believes that pure electric vehicles are “not even close to series production with the current battery technology.” It’s a peculiar statement since Porsche announced that it would begin testing its Electric Boxster prototypes last year.

Perhaps Porsche isn’t pleased with the results so far, with Hatz stating that internal combustion engines will remain dominant in the foreseeable future and that the diesel is a firm part of the VW Group’s strategy currently. More importantly however, Hatz said, “There will be more powerful variations with Porsche-like performance.” He went on to add, “It would be wrong to say no to a Boxster diesel for all times.”

This of course raises questions about what Porsche’s diesel car strategy might be. There is, of course, the conventional fuel economy and budget-minded direction. Porsche, however, could look at diesel’s as a performance option, much like how BMW has just introduced a new M line of performance diesels.

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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Hyundai announces standard brake-override for all models

hyundai-logo-250 Always looking for ways to one-up its Japanese competitors, Hyundai has announced that a brake override system will be standard equipment on its full line of vehicles, starting this month.

Truth be told, every 2012 Hyundai model save for the Elantra Touring already had a brake override system fitted. So why the announcement, and why now? Well, other than just tweaking Toyota, whose unintended acceleration problems led to widespread recalls, a Congressional investigation, and prompted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to propose requiring brake override systems on all new cars, the announcement likely has more to do with the end of Elantra Touring production than it does with anything else.

The old Hyundai i30, on which the Elantra Touring was based, has been redesigned, and reviews of the new model have already started showing up on foreign automotive websites. We won't get our version of the i30, dubbed Elantra GT here in the U.S., until later in the summer.

We'll be driving the GT in June and we promise to issue a full report, though we're going to try to avoid testing this new technology.

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Friday, May 4, 2012

Hyundai, BMW Partnering for Engine Development

2012-Hyundai-Sonata-Hybrid-engine BMW and Hyundai are discussing plans to produce an engine, Reuters is reporting. The automakers may share development and costs equally, so we don’t expect to see any “BMW by powered Hyundai” badges to come from the deal.

Sources close to the possible tie-up have told Reuters that the two automakers met in Munich yesterday and that discussions are still in the early stages. Development is expected to cost 1-2 billion euros ($1.3-$2.6 billion), which BMW and Hyundai will pay for equally. It’s unclear what kind of engine the two automakers will produce.

Both companies are no strangers to co-developing engines with other automakers. Hyundai and Chrysler previously produced a number of four-cylinders, while BMW and Peugeot currently have a deal to produce engine and hybrid components. The possible partnership between BMW and Hyundai comes on the heels of Mercedes-Benz’s and Infiniti’s recent agreement to produce four-cylinder engines at Infiniti’s Tennessee plant. Production is expected to start in 2014 and the new engine will power vehicles from both automakers.

BMW chief executive Norbert Reithofer told reporters yesterday that “further co-operation partners are currently not foreseen.” Meanwhile, Hyundai’s executive director of corporate communications Chris Hosford told us “the report of a possible engine partnership between Hyundai and BMW is groundless.”

Motor Trend

Honda pioneers new traffic-busting technology

Honda-%7Fcongestion-prevention-i001 In conjunction with the Research Centre for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Tokyo, Honda reportedly developed the world's first technology to detect the potential for traffic congestion. It's based on acceleration and deceleration patterns, and ultimately improves driving habits in an effort to reduce traffic jams and fuel consumption.

Here's how it works: The system monitors throttle and brake pedal input to determine whether the driver's driving pattern is likely to create traffic congestion. It then provides the appropriate information, such as the ideal speed that will prevent or minimize congestion.

Moreover, the system can activate the adaptive cruise control system to maintain a constant distance between vehicles at the most appropriate interval, Honda says.

So far, the test results show an increase in average speed by approximately 23%, and improved fuel efficiency by approximately 8%. The automaker will begin the first public-road testing of the technology in Italy and Indonesia in May and July of this year in order to evaluate just how effective it really is.


2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Runs Quarter Mile in 11.93 Seconds

2012-Chevrolet-Camaro-ZL1-burnout-623x389 Chevrolet engineers took the new 2012 Camaro ZL1 down to the drag strip, and came away impressed. Stock examples of the new muscle car managed to run an 11-second quarter mile time with both the automatic and manual transmissions.

The results are pretty impressive for a street-legal car with no modifications: the six-speed automatic-equipped ZL1 ran the quarter mile in 11.93 seconds at 116 mph; a ZL1 with the six-speed manual did the same run in 11.96 seconds at 117 mph. Chevrolet already put the ZL1 through its paces at Germany’s famed Nürburgring, clocking in a lap time of just 7:41.27. Other performance credentials for the Camaro ZL1 include a 0-60 mph time of a scant four seconds with the manual or 3.9 seconds with the automatic, and a top speed 184 mph.

Part of the stock kit for the ZL1 includes a 9.9-inch rear differential with a differential cooler that can lower the temperature by 100 degrees under heavy usage. To quell wheel hop, the ZL1 features asymmetrical half-shafts that work with the limited-slip diff and launch control (on manual-equipped cars) to create the smoothest and fastest launch possible. Chevy’s engineers also tuned the ZL1′s exclusive Performance Traction Management program for the drag strip with maximum performance in mind from the Magnetic Ride Control, stability and traction control, and electric power steering. In fact, the ZL1′s launch control features a mode specifically setup for drag strip launches (mode 5).

As a refresher, the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is powered by a 580-hp 556-lb-ft supercharged 6.2-liter LSA V-8 engine and starts at $54,995 including the destination charge.

However, the Camaro ZL1 can get ever faster at the drag strip – Lingenfelter just tested its upgraded ZL1 and was able to put down a 10.79 quarter-mile time at a trap speed of 134.36 mph. Lingenfelter’s kits up the super-Camaro’s horsepower count to anywhere from 630 to 700 hp; the car they ran the quarter mile in put down some 720 hp at the wheels. To net that extra second, it will cost an additional $11,245 in Lingenfelter extras.

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