Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Delphi introduces plug-in telematics for aftermarket service

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Auto IQ uses a device that plugs into a vehicle’s OBD II connector. Vehicle data is transmitted to Delphi cloud servers, which identify service/maintenance needs, communicate with aftermarket parts suppliers, and via email or text message, the motorist.
The independent automotive service aftermarket holds a commanding share—nearly 72%—of the market, most of which is won when the vehicle warranty has expired. However, the drop in the number of car dealers during the recession, which should have given the independent a new opportunity, has been countered by OE telematics installations that establish dealer shop-to-car communication. The connectivity can deliver road service requests, send vehicle health reports, receive remote diagnostic reports, and schedule service appointments.
These are powerful weapons, enabling the dealer to create a seamless transition from the warranty period. But now the aftermarket is developing its telematics responses, and adding dealer-level service capabilities. Delphi Product and Service Solutions, in conjunction with aftermarket partners, unveiled its multipart system at the recent AAPEX Show during Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week in Las Vegas.
The overall system, called Auto IQ, features the Connected Car Telematics Solution (CCTS). This device plugs into the vehicle’s under-dash OBD II connector and, through a cellular modem or a Bluetooth connection to a smartphone, communicates through the cloud with Delphi firewall-protected servers within a virtual private network.
Although the CCTS doesn’t have access to the OE external communications systems, Delphi does have the ability to use both generic and OE-enhanced OBD II data and special algorithms to derive the equivalent data it needs. This data, which includes vehicle mileages, is sent to the servers at preprogrammed intervals or when a real-time action occurs, such as logging of a diagnostic trouble code (DTC).
The CCTS is expected to be especially appealing to those driving cars that were not factory-equipped with telematics and also to the majority of motorists who choose to switch to the independent garage, whether they have an OE telematics system or not.

Identifies VIN for diagnostics  

The Delphi servers can identify the VIN (vehicle identification number) so therefore can produce make/model/year identification if a DTC is logged, decide if that indicates a specific repair part is likely to be needed, and transmit the data to servers in a designated aftermarket service network. CCTS similarly can determine from mileage and time data if maintenance is needed and also communicate that information to the servers in the aftermarket service chain. In both cases, it additionally would send out an email and/or text notification to the motorist. 
Further, by integration into a part supplier’s e-catalog, CCTS can get the parts number and ensure that the servicing shop has it or ready access to it. At the garage end, integration of CCTS into the shop management system also completes the network between a customer and his chosen garage, including scheduling of appointments and even road service. The plug-in device, as a result, likely would be installed by the garage and the tie-in subscription established with Delphi. The fee structure for the service has not been announced, but Delphi said it would be tailoring packages depending on such factors as the requested level of functionality.
The plug-in device was developed by Delphi in conjunction with Aftermarket Telematics Technologies (ATT), a software firm with which a relationship was established. ATT created what Delphi described as a series of interfaces that fit well into the independent aftermarket structure, specifically the communication between motorist, independent garage, and parts supplier. CCTS was named the first winner of the Aftermarket Telematics Challenge by the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association. AAIA has been moving on several fronts to spur aftermarket competitiveness, also including diagnostics, access to OE service information and reprogramming, and rapid ordering and delivery of parts, through its eShop/"Shop of Tomorrow” program. The objective is to promote a network of equipment, software, and parts suppliers that are compatible with the open standards of the AAIA initiative.
Delphi also announced its mobile e-catalog, based on the online catalog for PCs but capable of automatic optimization for smartphone/tablet formats, including Apple (iPhone and iPad), Android, and Windows phones and tablets. It does not require downloading an app, just entering If the technician knows the part number, he enters it and the part itself is shown. Or he can enter year, make, and model and get to the part number in three “touch/clicks.”

Supports widely used protocols

Delphi’s Auto IQ uses a PC platform with a vehicle communications interface (VCI) device (plugs into the OBD II connector at one end, the PC or a tablet at the other). It supports most automotive data bus, diagnostic, and reprogramming protocols, including SAE J2534 (“Pass-Thru”), SAE J1850, CCD (Chrysler Collision Detection), ISO 9141 and 15765, Keyword Protocol (KWP) 2000/ISO 14230, and General Motors UART (Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter) and CAN.
The VCI, supplied by Blue Streak Electronics, is capable of OE-level reprogramming via the SAE J2534 protocol.
At the independent garage service level, Auto IQ and the VCI also provide such OE functionality as access to repair information, enhanced diagnostic data, and bidirectional controls, of which there are thousands for GM, Chrysler, and Ford. It also can graph up to 16 data items, in color, on a PC or tablet screen.

ZF explores composites for lightweight truck-chassis design

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ZF’s “study” of a four-point link made from glass-fiber-reinforced plastic reduces weight by approximately 11 kg (24 lb), or 25%, compared to the 46-kg (101-lb) standard cast component. The program’s target was to reduce weight by 30%, “so we have some more potential” through design optimization, said chassis development boss Holger Bublies. (Image by Ryan Gehm)
ZF is doing its part to help reduce emissions and improve the fuel efficiency of commercial vehicles, namely through its development of advanced transmission systems such as the new modular TraXon automatic transmission for trucks, which includes a hybrid module, as well as with other electrified driveline technologies. But as CEO Dr. Stefan Sommer noted at the IAA Commercial Vehicles Show in Hanover this fall, lightweight design is another major focus of the supplier’s development activities.
Along with optimized design, including the integration of functions for individual components, new materials for heavy-truck applications, particularly in the chassis, are leading ZF’s lightweight charge. One example on display at the IAA show was a “study” of a four-point link made from glass-fiber-reinforced plastic (GFRP) that reduces weight by approximately 11 kg (24 lb), or 25%, compared to the 46-kg (101-lb) standard cast component.
(See for coverage of the supplier’s use of composites in passenger-car chassis.)
“We have one four-point link in serial production for MAN. It is a cast part, and it’s nearly the same dimension, the same function. Our job was to look for more weight savings,” Holger Bublies, Head of Development for ZF’s Commercial Vehicle Chassis Modules business unit, explained to SAE Magazines. Given the weight-savings potential of composite materials, the investigation started there.
“We set out to answer, ‘Is it possible to use this material for this component?’ It is really a harsh function,” he said. The four-point link merges functions for longitudinal and lateral axle guidance as well as for active roll stabilization.
“With this function integration, you can have a solution without a separate stabilizer and stabilizer links; you can save about 50-60 kilos on one axle,” Bublies said.
Another target of the investigation was to examine production methods in an effort to reduce costs. For this prototype fiber-composite part, the process is more manual, but ZF is working on resin transfer molding (RTM) for serial production.
“In the truck business, you need to earn money with your truck. Weight savings is a big point, but cost is an even bigger point,” he said. This mentality explains the usage of glass-fiber reinforcement for the prototype part: “Carbon is a factor of 8 or 10 more expensive,” Bublies shared.
What is an acceptable increase in cost for a composite part to be competitive with an incumbent part? According to information Bublies has gathered, a cost increase of about €5-10/kg of weight reduction could tip the scales in favor of the lighter-weight material. The ZF project currently is still “a little bit higher” than that €10/kg bogey.
“At this really early stage, [the part and process] are not optimized,” he said. “Now after the test results, we have to validate our simulation models. We have to learn many things in this project because to design such a part with this material is a totally new thing. We think it’s possible to decrease weight another some kilos, and we are also working on production.”
Bublies’ hope is that eventually the GFRP four-point link will become a solution offered in truck OEMs’ “super efficiency” models.
“Of course today OEMs have lightweight vehicles, and this could be one more option for them,” he said. “Yes, we are a bit more expensive, but not as much as we thought at the beginning of the program.”
ZF currently has one workshop producing the composite part, and testing continues on the internal ZF program. (The supplier is not working with MAN on the project, Bublies said, but it has shared with the OEM some of the results thus far.)
“The whole technology—composites—is a big item in the ZF Group,” he said. “We have this central development center in Friedrichshafen, and they have their own experts that do this. So we are the business unit; we are the experts on the product, and we have at the central development center some experts for the material, for production, and then we have a joint team working on this program.”
He is not certain when the part will make it to series production, stating “not next year; maybe in five years or so.”

Biofuel opportunities and pitfalls

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Neste Oil’s NExBTL renewable diesel technology starts by using yeast and fungi to convert sugars from waste and residue into microbial oil.
As nations grapple with emissions, oil-security, and energy-price matters, aggressive investment, regulation, and corporate involvement have propelled the alternative-fuels industry to commercial relevance. Alternative fuels today have a total capacity capable of replacing 4.8% of current oil capacity.
However, growth has slowed significantly. Since 2005, annual capacity growth has been roughly 22%; but growth through 2015 will be about 5% per year. As supply grows and logistical hurdles associated with feedstock and fuels increase, a new crop of technologies is emerging to add to the growing alternative-fuels space.
According to Lux Research, the world has capacity to produce 32.7 billion gal (124 billon L) of ethanol, 15.6 billion gal (60 billion L) of biodiesel, and 1.0 billion gal (4 billion L) of other alternative fuels today—4.8% of the 1023 billion gal (3872 billion L) conventional market.
Flawed though they are, biodiesel and ethanol account for 98% of all biofuels in the world. But because of those flaws—technical and logistical issues, fuel blend limits, and the nagging food vs. fuel debate—ethanol and biodiesel capacity will grow relatively slowly for the next five years, with ethanol growing at 5.6% annually and biodiesel 1.9%. Even with their slow growth, ethanol and biodiesel will remain the dominant fuels in 2015, accounting for 96% of total alternative fuels. Then they will start to cede ground to the faster-growing renewable diesel, which is the brightest crayon in the box of other fuels.
Ethanol is the most geographically consolidated biofuel, with Brazil and the U.S. accounting for 76% of global ethanol capacity thanks to massive supplies of sugarcane and corn, respectively, and favorable government support. Europe represents a meager 9.3% of global ethanol capacity, and China dominates the Asia-Pacific region in ethanol capacity today. North America and South America have a combined 4.2 billion gal (16 billion L) of biodiesel capacity installed today, representing 29% of the global biodiesel capacity. Europe dominates biodiesel capacity with 46% of the global total, or 6.6 billion gal (25 billion L).

Public sector support

Alternative transportation fuels stand where they do today thanks in large part to aggressive government targets of alternative-fuels blending, and the subsidies and loan guarantees to help reach that goal. These policies—and their level of success—vary from region to region and even city to city, because the entire alternative-fuels ecosystem is hyperlocal. Regulators hope to help alternative-fuels developers compete with the economics of oil by subsidizing crops and fuel blends, minimizing processing and logistical costs, and putting other rules in place that capitalize on local feedstocks to produce fuels for local markets.
Government support for biofuels comes in many flavors, with mandates, tax credits, tariffs, and loans the most common. Overarching mandates such as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in the U.S. are constantly under the microscope; this is currently the case due to high corn prices and unavailable advanced biofuels. Loan guarantees, similarly, are getting their fair share of scrutiny—the “No More Solyndras” Act to limit U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantees is currently heading to the Senate.
Throughout the world, debt crises and sagging economics are forcing regulators to slash budgets, and fuel incentives are often on the chopping block. Although pockets of government support exist today, investors and producers should focus on economics first, and look to government support later.

Technical innovation

Generally speaking, yeast ferment corn- and sugarcane-based sugars into ethanol, and vegetable oils are catalytically converted into biodiesel. Biofuel companies, for the most part, capitalize on the “hyperlocal” nature of this industry—sourcing feedstock, producing fuel, and selling that fuel all in one region. As the aforementioned food crop economic and regulatory issues push fuel producers onto second-generation feedstocks, cellulosic ethanol producers are emerging with a range of different conversion technologies to economically extract sugar from cellulose. This conversion has been historically very expensive, but as costs decline producers are looking to capitalize on vastly cheaper and more abundant agricultural and forestry waste as the biofuel feedstock of the future.
Cellulosic fuel efforts will still be nascent in 2015, so that fuel type will remain a small percentage of biofuels even in the most optimistic scenarios. Even if all announced facilities are built on time, cellulosic ethanol would represent only 1% of total ethanol capacity in the world in 2015. Besides ethanol, cellulosic sugars will be converted into butanol, diesel, plastics, and other chemicals.
Additionally, waste feedstocks such as sludge, municipal waste, and waste vegetable oil are becoming a more attractive option, while the ultimate next-generation alternative-fuels feedstock, algae, mostly remains behind scale and is often used to produce omega-3’s, not fuels.
In addition to tapping into new feedstocks, companies are making new types of fuels; renewable diesel by Neste Oil is leading the way. (Renewable diesel is more similar to regular diesel than is biodiesel and can be blended into regular diesel at higher concentrations.)
Many next-generation fuel producers are inherently flexible, as producers can straddle the line between making fuels and chemicals. Selling into chemical markets can help producers get product online early, as those markets typically have higher-value products and an easier road to market. Gevo, for example, is producing bio-based isobutanol, which can be blended into gasoline or converted to diesel or jet fuel, though the company is targeting the solvent and chemicals markets (for rubber and PET, among others). Similarly, Virent’s aromatics platform can produce renewable gasoline, and also paraxylene for PET.

The customers

Large oil companies such as Shell and BP are not the only corporations driving this next wave of biofuels forward; OEMs such as General Motors and Volkswagen have several relationships with start-up biofuel developers including cellulosic ethanol hopefuls Mascoma and Coskata and renewable diesel producers Solazyme and Amyris. While these fuels are rather easy to drop into the existing fuel supply, other automakers are targeting novel fuels that would require a larger overhaul on infrastructure.
For example, Swedish DME maker Chemrec is part of a BioDME consortium that includes Haldor Topsøe, Total, Volvo Trucks, and Delphi. Through this collaboration, Haldor Topsøe will provide the technology to convert syngas to DME for use in Volvo’s DME-compatible trucks. The DME is transported to four fueling stations run by Preem and is used to power 10 Volvo trucks. Volvo reported positive results from the tests thus far, with the trucks covering over 450,000 km (280,000 mi) and experiencing a noticeable reduction in emissions.
While DME has an uphill battle to penetrate the passenger vehicle market due to infrastructure needs, this fuel type may find an easier path to market in truck and off-highway applications. Many delivery trucks and construction vehicles return to the same base every day and would require only one central fueling station, rather than multiple public stations.
Unlike other transportation applications in which the end user is purchasing the fuels, jet fuel purchasing is more centralized. With centralized purchasing, airlines are willing to invest in developing jet fuel opportunities, since jet fuel is such a large part of operating expenses. Both the aviation and off-highway industries present opportunities for developers to avoid some of the issues associated with fueling infrastructure that limit so many other alternative fuels.
This article was written for SAE Magazines by Andrew Soare, Analyst, Lux Research

2013 MV Agusta Rivale 800 Revealed Before EICMA

The 2013 version of the MV Agusta Rivale has been one of the most talked about bikes among the motoring circles ever since the company first released the official sketch of the bike few weeks ago. The bike is slated to be launched at the upcoming EICMA International Motorcycle Show but before that the company continues to push some details of the bike to the media to keep the buzz going. This time, the company has released some more pictures and details about the bike which gives us a proper look at the upcoming version and what to actually expect at the motor show. Looking at the pictures, it is clear that MV Agusta wants to take on the hypermotard market with the Rivale 800.
An interesting thing to note here is the bike bears a striking resemblance (the front visage looks very similar) with the Ducati Hypermotard. The chassis and the engine is derived from the Brutale 800. The Rivale is powered by the same 796cc, 3 cylinder engine that does duty on the MV Agusta Brutale 800. This again is a bumped up version of the MV Agusta’s 675cc engine. MV Agusta says that the displacement comes from an additional 8.4mm stroke to go with the existing 79mm bore and this configuration results in 125 horsepower at the crankshaft. Other features those have found their way to the bike include ride-by-wire, three engine maps, MV Agusta’s MVICS electronics package which has an eight-way adjustable traction control system and a lot more.
The Rivale 800 gets a signature steel-tube trellis frame that gives slightly more relaxed geometry than the Brutale 800. The bike has a kerb weight of 375 pounds. In the suspension area, the bike gets fully adjustable suspension components from Marzocchi and Sachs. Braking power is expected to be provided by 320mm discs with radial mount calipers from Brembo. About the design, the company quotes that the Rivale 800 exudes an emotive design from every angle. Most importantly, three elements, the mudguard, the side panels and the fuel tank are individually united to form a strong visual shield graphic that makes this machine instantly recognizable. Singularly MV Agusta. The Rivale 800 is set to go on sale in the summer of 2013.

Bobcat launches loaders with improved hydraulics, efficiencies

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Bobcat's new T550 compact track loader features a radius lift path for maintaining visibility when dumping over a wall or backfilling.
According to Bobcat, nearly one out of every two skid-steer loaders on the market is a Bobcat machine. The company, which produced its first skid-steer loader in 1960, recently announced seven new medium-size machines with extensive feature upgrades, including increased visibility, a more comfortable cab, and easier serviceability. New machines include the S510, S530, S550, S570, and S590 skid-steer loaders, and the T550 and T590 compact track loaders.
The S510, S550, and T550 feature a radius lift path for the reach and visibility required for dumping over a wall, backfilling, or loading flatbed trucks.
The S530, S570, S590, and T590 M-Series machines feature a vertical lift path, allowing heavier loads to be lifted higher to clear high-sided truck boxes and hoppers, as well as place pallets loaded with heavy material.
Bobcat says the M-Series loaders feature increased lift height, better performance, and increased operator comfort compared to the equivalent K-Series models—S150, S160, S175, S185, S205, T180, and T190—that they will replace.
The 500 frame-size loaders feature a unique cab-forward design that not only gives the machines a different look but also moves the operator closer to the attachment and provides improved visibility in all directions.
One new feature touted by Bobcat to offer increased visibility to the cutting edge of the bucket, or the corners of an attachment, is what it claims is the largest cab door opening on the market. The cab door threshold has been lowered and the overall surface of the door has increased more than 40% to not only improve visibility but to make it easier for operators to enter and exit the cab. The height of the cab has been increased, providing additional headroom, while still keeping the overall machine size small enough to operate in tight spaces.
Windows on the sides and rear of the cab have also been increased in size to provide more visibility to the tires and back of the machine. The larger top window makes it easier and more comfortable for the operator to see an attachment with the lift arms raised, an advantage when loading trucks or performing other tasks.
Simple check points were included in the machines’ design to make it easier to perform maintenance correctly at the proper intervals. The auxiliary hydraulic quick couplers are mounted directly to the front plate of the lift arm to provide a solid mounting, and hoses are routed through the loader arms for better protection.
A guard bar extends in front of the coupler for added security and a steel tailgate prevents items from penetrating the engine compartment.
Keeping the loaders cool when working long hours is important in prolonging the service life of the machine, and Bobcat says its engineers designed the cooling system with increased efficiency and higher performance in mind. The new design also makes it easier to clean out the cooling system, with an oil cooler that swings up, allowing the operator to clean the area between the oil cooler and the radiator.
Comfortable operators are more productive, so to create a better working environment, Bobcat increased the size of the 500 loader cab by 10%, redesigned the interior to allow operators to adjust the environment to their individual preferences, and improved cab pressurization.
The 500 loaders have what Bobcat claims as a best-in-class pressurized cab with a new one-piece seal that goes all the way around the door and fits into a special curved pocket. That design minimizes the amount of dirt and dust that might enter the cab, creating more enjoyable working conditions and making it easier to clean the cab.
Operators have the choice between standard foot pedal hydraulic controls, the Advanced Control System (ACS), or the Selectable Joystick Controls (SJC). The standard foot pedals control the lift and tilt through mechanical linkage.
Optional ACS lets the loader operator use a dash-mounted switch to instantly select between advanced hand control or advanced foot control of lift and tilt functions.
The low-effort control levers of the optional SJC can be operated in the ISO or H pattern. These handles move up and down in conjunction with the seat to reduce arm movement and operator fatigue. The joystick mounts also slide forward or backward to adjust to the preference of each individual operator.
The hydraulic systems on M-Series loaders have been engineered for higher standard flow and pressure, which gives attachments more power to work more quickly. Size, horsepower, and displacement are matched to the loader’s rated operating capacity, balance, and weight, producing a loader that can outperform higher-horsepower machines, says Bobcat.
The skid-steer models offer a two-speed option that boosts the maximum travel speed from 7.4 mph (12 km/h) in low range to 11 mph (18 km/h) in high range, reducing the time it takes to cross a large farm or acreage. The hydraulic bucket positioning option keeps the loader bucket level as the lift arms travel upward, enabling operators to work faster.
An optional instrumentation panel available only on M-Series loaders, intelligently monitors key loader functions, and the keyless start helps prevent theft. The 5-in, full-color LCD screen offers better readability and interaction. Easy-to-read virtual sweep gauges allow the operator to quickly read and understand the machine’s performance.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Honda CBR500R 2013 Breaks Cover In US [Tech Specs and Price]

Very recently, there were some spy pictures floating on the internet of the Honda CB500, the CBR500 and the CB500X in action on some Italian commercial. Now, Honda Motorcycles has set its first targets on the US market with the CBR500R and the motorcycle looks great. Honda has also turned to make its products more value-for-money like its Japanese rival, Kawasaki did some time ago with the launch of the Ninja 300R and ninja 400R with the price range being very modest. The Honda CBR500R that goes on sale will only cost about $1,800 more than its smaller sibling, the CBR250R. So, what this means that for an additional 1 lakh rupees, the US customers will be able to get double the displacement and so double power and torque compared to the CBR250R.
The Honda CBR500R closely resembles the racing lines of the CBR600RR and CBR1000RR motorcycles. Overall, it looks very sporty and aggressive. It is powered by an all-new liquid-cooled parallel-twin DOHC engine. It also gets Honda’s famed Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI) that ensures proper fuel mixture delivery through continuous monitoring several parameters and thus ultimately giving you crisp throttle response. The engine churns out close to 54 bhp of power. The engine is of square design with bore X stroke 67.0mmX66.0mm. This makes it more relaxed on the rev range that the CBR250R which sports a short stroke design.
The engine is mated to a 6 speed gearbox. Underneath, you get a diamond-shaped steel tube frame. The chassis is lightweight, yet claimed to be responsive. At the front the bike gets telescopic forks while the rear gets the Pro-link single-shock rear suspension with pre-load adjustable with 4.7 inches of travel. Braking is provided by twin-piston caliper, 320mm disc brake at the front and single caliper, 240mm disc at the rear. It also comes in an ABS version.  I sincerely hope Honda brings this bike to the Indian market.
Honda CBR500R Technical Specifications:
Engine: Liquid-cooled 500cc Parallel-twin, DOHC; four valves per cylinder
Bore and Stroke: 67.0 x 66.8mm
Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
Fuel Delivery: PGM-FI with 34 mm throttle response
Clutch: Wet multi-plate clutch; Cable actuation
Transmission: Six-speed
Final Drive: O-Ring sealed chain
Frame: Diamond-shaped steel
Front Suspension: 41mm fork, 4.3 in. travel
Rear Suspension: Pro-Link single shock with nine-position spring preload adjustability; 4.7 inches travel
Brakes: Front: Twin-piston caliper with single 320mm wave disc Rear: Single-caliper 240mm wave disc , Optional Honda ABS
Curb Weight: 425 lbs.; 429 lbs. (ABS model)
Wheelbase: 55.5 inches
Front Tyre:120/70-17
Rear Tyre: 160/60-17
Rake: 25.5 deg. Trail: 4.05 inches
Seat Height: 30.9 inches
Fuel Capacity: 4.1 gallons
Honda CBR500R Price: $5,999 (~Rs. 3.24 lakhs) in the US.

Scalable transmissions based on NuVinci CVP technology coming this decade

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The NuVinci transmission uses a set of rotating balls between the transmission's input and output components that tilt and vary the output speed of the transmission.

Development of high-efficiency transmissions appropriate for light-passenger, off-highway, and commercial vehicles is the basis for strategic alliances involving Allison Transmission, Dana Holding Corp., and Fallbrook Technologies. The relationship will facilitate the development, manufacture, and commercialization of gearless transmissions using Fallbrook’s NuVinci Continuously Variable Planetary (CVP) technology.
The NuVinci’s basic design uses a set of rotating balls—located between the transmission’s input and output components—that tilt and vary the output speed. The tilting balls change their contact diameters with the discs, which varies the speed ratios.
Allison has an exclusive license for using NuVinci technology to develop and commercialize primary drivetrain transmissions for its end markets, which could include commercial vehicles and military applications as well as certain off-highway and large stationary equipment.
A separate agreement provides Dana the ability to engineer and produce transmission components and other powertrain products using Fallbrook's technology under an exclusive license for passenger and certain off-highway vehicles in the markets that Dana serves.
Lawrence Dewey, Chairman, President, and CEO of Allison, said during a Sept. 13 conference call with media that the agreements put in place a “coordinated approach to product development.”
Roger Wood, President and CEO of Dana, noted via email exchange with SAE Magazines that NuVinci technology “changes the way mechanical power is transmitted. It reduces the complexity of powertrain systems through its compact coaxial design, allowing the engine to operate at peak efficiency.”
Dana technologists conducted a performance assessment of the core NuVinci CVP technology. Those findings were used in “high level powertrain systems simulations for a typical Class A vehicle with a range of transmissions—e.g. automatic and manuals. The results indicated the NuVinci technology enables the engine to operate at the optimal speed for the power demand, which means the engine is always running at peak efficiency,” according to Wood.
For several years, Allison technical specialists independently looked at CVT technology in its various forms. Noted Dewey, “Allison’s investment in a noncontrolling equity stake in Fallbrook Technologies is a tangible indication of our interest in this technology.”
NuVinci CVP technology can mate with traditional transmission components.
According to Dewey, “Generally speaking, CVPs are in front of the transmission in respect to their drivetrain location. There are situations where an entirely new transmission will present the better solution for moving ahead; and in other cases, depending on the application or vocation, a modification to a current product might prove more workable.”
While light passenger vehicles are projected to realize an 8-10% fuel economy improvement when using NuVinci CVP technology, similar gains are possible for larger vehicles.
Noted Wood, “Improvement projections would vary depending on duty cycles, but expectations are in the 10% range for a typical front-end loader in a Y-cycle duty.”
Transmissions and other advanced powertrain systems “engineered with this technology will ultimately deliver higher customer value by improving performance, increasing fuel economy, reducing greenhouse gases, reducing system complexity, and increasing design flexibility,” added Wood.
Off-highway vehicles in the markets served by Dana likely will see NuVinci CVP technology usage in the next three to five years. Light-passenger vehicles using NuVinci technology for production applications will be closer to the 2020 time frame.
Dewey stated in an email that “a hard timeline for commercial vehicles isn’t presently being shared. However, after completing a series of developmental and on-road evaluations, further announcements will be made available to OEMs and the media.”

Rolling tires power self-inflation pumps

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Goodyear is developing a self-inflation system, called Air Maintenance Technology, that tops off the air in truck tires as they roll down the road.
When’s the last time that you checked your car’s tire pressure? If you are like most American motorists, you pay little attention to whether your tires are fully inflated even before you embark on long road trips.
U.S. government studies of the issue indicate that commercial truck drivers feel the same way as everyday commuters. A survey conducted a few years ago by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that only 44% of all domestic truck tires are inflated to within 5 psi (34 kPa) of their target pressures. Further, it showed that nearly half are under-inflated by 6 to 19 psi (41 to 131 kPa) while an additional 7% are under-inflated by 20 psi (138 kPa) or more.
The trouble is that chronic tire under-inflation cuts vehicle fuel economy substantially and speeds up tire wear, according to John Kotanides, Jr., Project Manager of the Advanced Concepts Group at the Goodyear Innovation Center in Akron, OH. “Our rule of thumb is that every 10 psi loss in inflation pressure leads to a 1% loss in miles per gallon,” which at current prices costs a typical long-haul truck operator about $600 in extra annual fuel purchases, he said. “In addition, we find that a 10% under-inflation can shorten tire tread life by 9 to 16%.”
Properly inflated tires also help keep a vehicle's handling performance at optimal levels. Under-inflation means less evenly distributed pressure on the road. It also reduces the tread area that is in direct contact with the road and can impact the integrity of the tire casing, which is key to any post-use retreading process.
That’s why Goodyear engineers are developing a passive self-inflation system that automatically tops off the air in commercial truck tires as they roll down the road. The Air Maintenance Technology (AMT) system should help tires to remain inflated at the optimum pressure over the long term, reducing the need for any external pumps or electronics. The commercial application of Goodyear's new AMT system recently made its debut at the 2012 IAA Commercial Vehicles Show in Hanover, Germany.
“Goodyear started working on the technology on the consumer application side in late 2009-2010,” Kotanides recalled, “but then in August 2011 we received a grant of up to $1.5 million over three years from the [U.S.] Department of Energy’s Office of Vehicle Technology to develop a self-inflation system for commercial truck tires.”
Principal investigator on the in-house RD&E project, Robert Benedict, invented the patent-pending passive pumping concept for the self-inflation system, Kotanides said. During the following year the Goodyear team “designed the system, conducted initial testing, and proved out the theory behind the pumping mechanism before delivering a working prototype.”
“The idea was to keep it as simple as possible,” Kotanides said. The AMT system involves a regulator that senses when the tire is at optimal pressure. “If the pressure drops below the target level, an inlet filter in the regulator allows some outside air into the pumping tube which runs circumferentially around the inside of the tire,” he explained. “Deformations of the tube as the tire rolls produce little puffs of air that transfer air from the pumping tube through an inlet valve and into the interior cavity of the tire.”
The purely mechanical system is now undergoing fine-tuning and further tests at Goodyear’s Topeka, KS, manufacturing facility, he said. “We plan to start fleet evaluations in 2013.” The commercial truck AMT system is being designed to perform after the retreading process.
Goodyear has also received a grant from the Luxembourg government for research and development of an AMT system for consumer tires. That work is being conducted at Goodyear’s Innovation Center in Colmar-Berg, Luxembourg.
Commercial trucks pose a different challenge for the AMT system than do cars and light-duty trucks because their tires are larger and feature higher inflation pressures—105 psi (724 kPa) for commercial tires vs. 32 psi (221 kPa) for consumer tires. In addition, they operate over much longer distances, carrying much heavier loads. This poses a significantly more challenging performance requirement for the pump system.
“We believe the Air Maintenance Technology application for commercial vehicle tires will not only enhance the performance of the tire, but will also provide cost savings to fleet owners and operators through the extension of tire tread life and increased fuel economy,” said Goodyear’s Chief Technical Officer, Jean-Claude Kihn. “The progress we continue to make with this technology is very encouraging. We look forward to further testing of this concept.”
Steven Ashle

Forstars: the Future for Smart?

Image: Par2012SmartForStarsconcept_1.jpg
The Smart Forstars concept integrates a video projector in the hood.
Does the Smart Forstars concept at the 2012 Paris Motor Show give a hint at future design direction for the Daimler subsidiary’s compact Fortwo two seater? Head of Smart, Dr. Annette Winkler, gave an answer in her press conference speech: “The Smart Forstars offers another glimpse into the future of Smart. Some design details of this car you will find in our upcoming Smart four-seater.”
The Forstars concept provides a different interpretation of the Smart two-seater formula, presenting a more contemporary shape. Comparing the dimensions with the current Fortwo, the Forstars concept is 855 mm (33.7 in) longer, 151 mm (5.9 in) wider, and up to 37 mm (1.5 in) lower. The wheelbase is some 603 mm (23.7 in) longer at 2470 mm (97.2 in). The track is some 193 mm (7.6 in) wider at the front at 1475 mm (58.1 in), remaining the same at the rear, making it 90 mm (3.5 in) wider than the current Fortwo. The Forstars’ main body features are shared with those of the For-us concept seen at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.
Smart refers to the Forstars as a sports utility coupe, with the extra length providing a stowage space behind the seats that is 900 mm (35.4 in) longer than that of the Fortwo. This is accessed through the glass tailgate at the rear, while the lower tailboard can be lowered electrically into a position parallel with the load floor, then retracted by 280 mm (11.0 in), improving access to the cargo area.
Inside, the seat shells incorporate an open section in the center, covered with a fabric throw, which can be switched for a change of color. The open section also allows for loading of long items through the passenger seat with the seat cover removed.
The Forstars name is a reference to the convex glass roof above the seats, potentially providing a nighttime view of the stars. The lighthearted theme is continued by the video projector integrated into the hood. This would be operated via Bluetooth from a smartphone, mounted in a bracket where the rear-view mirror would normally be sited. Using a rear-mounted video camera, the smartphone would double as a rear-view mirror, media source, and control system for the video projector, providing a personal drive-in movie service using a suitable wall. Cinema sound would be provided by speakers concealed in the ventilation openings in the side panels behind the doors.
The rhombic front lights incorporate an “eyebrow” section, and a ring of LEDs around the headlamp provide the indicators and daytime running lamps. The rear lamps echo the rhombic shape of those at the front. Both rear lamps open. One can accommodate a drink can and the other the recharging point for the battery pack.
The Forstars is powered by the same 60-kW electric motor that powers the new Smart Brabus electric drive. The drive motor delivers 135 N·m (100 lb·ft) of torque to propel the car to a claimed top speed of over 130 km/h (81 mph). The lithium-ion battery has a capacity of 17.6 kW·h. Recharging would take up to 7 h from a 230-V domestic socket or 1 h from a rapid charging point.

Monday, 12 November 2012

BMW shows concept for first front-wheel-drive model

Image: 606653__U1R1954.JPG
The production version of the Concept Active Tourer will be the first front-wheel-drive BMW. (Newspress)
BMW has never before produced a front-wheel-drive (FWD) car wearing a BMW badge. The company used the 2012 Paris Motor Show to display the Active Concept Tourer that looks set to compete with FWD rivals such as the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz B-Class.
The concept is powered by a plug-in hybrid powertrain, which combines a 1.5-L, three-cylinder, direct-injection, gasoline engine with a synchronous electric motor to deliver a combined output of 190 hp (142 kW). The engine features BMW’s Valvetronic variable valve control system and twin turbochargers, technology that will feature on all future BMW gasoline engines.
BMW claims fuel consumption of less than 2.5 L/100 km and carbon dioxide emissions of less than 60 g/km, measured on the EU combined cycle. Fully charged, the lithium-ion battery pack is said to give a range of around 30 km (19 mi). The synchronous motor provides 200 N·m (148 lb·ft) of torque from rest and drives and recuperates energy from the rear axle, similar to the Peugeot Hybrid4 system.
The concept is equipped with BMW’s ECO PRO mode, available with current production models. The system can reduce the power of the air conditioning system and other electrical components to improve efficiency. It is also linked to the satellite navigation system to provide the most fuel efficient route for the driver. Navigation data are used to advise the driver about the road ahead before it is in view.
Michael de Bono is the exterior designer of the Concept Active Tourer: “About a year ago we had the brief to find the solution for the trend of urbanization, with people moving back to the center of cities and living their lives in a city more and more and needing a car to satisfy that.
“We decided on a front-wheel-drive car that offers maximum interior space for the minimum exterior footprint—so the best of both worlds between a hatch and perhaps a 3 Series Touring. For us, we started with a blank sheet of paper to see how we could bring BMW into this kind of segment.” The concept measures 4353 mm (171.4 in) long.
“Traditionally you have quite a stretched long hood and then the whole greenhouse set back, focused on rear-wheel drive," said de Bono. "Here, it’s more about front-wheel drive or hybrids. So first of all it’s all about the proportion. This has to be right to communicate what the car can do. It’s a sporty car but one with a lot of space. That’s why we went for an almost mono-volume proportion, with very little overhang, front and rear. We set everything back around the wheels to really reduce the visual mass.
“It has to have this BMW agility, but it’s a different kind of agility to a traditional BMW, it’s almost like a sprinter in the starting blocks, in that you have this leaning forward stance," he continued. "We achieved that through the whole greenhouse, the D-pillar constellation. The Hofmeister kink and the rear glass work together and you have this feeling of everything leaning forward, with an almost coupe-like flowing line.”

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Volkswagen Jetta TSI : Road Test

With the venerable Volkswagen Jetta now available with a smaller 1.4-litre TSI petrol motor, have the boffins at VW made the right trade-off in order to get the best from this executive saloon? We find out

Volkswagen Jetta 1.4 TSI front

The Jetta TDI was literally the epitome of the perfect executive sedan – stylish, upmarket, well built, great to drive and very frugal to boot. So you’d naturally assume that when its petrol powered twin, the Jetta TSI, was with us for a couple of weeks for a shoot, the Ziggy Gang would have showered it with attention. But you’d be quite wrong.

Volkswagen Jetta 1.4 TSI rear

Make no mistake, the Jetta TSI is a great car. But it does pale a little in comparison to its diesel twin. The problem I believe is that we were expecting too much from it. When the rumour mill was buzzing earlier this year that VW was bringing in the petrol Jetta, the natural conjecture dictated that what we’d find under the hood would be that delightful 1.8-litre TSI motor that makes us howl with glee when we put our foot down in the Skoda Laura.

But the Germans pulled a fast one on us and word got around that the Jetta’s petrol motor would in fact be just 1.4 litres in displacement. But no matter, VW’s 1.4-litre TSI twin-charged engine is a petrolhead’s wet dream. This engine is such a technological masterpiece that it has dominated the 1.0- to 1.4-litre category of the International Engine of the Year Awards since 2006 and has won the top ‘Engine of the Year’ prize in 2009 and 2010. And as if that wasn’t enough, it even ended the Toyota Prius’ Hybrid Synergy Drive’s reign by winning the ‘Green Engine Of The Year’ award in 2009.

Volkswagen Jetta 1.4 TSI engine

The secret behind this engine’s success is that using a combination of two different types of forced induction, ie, turbocharging and supercharging, it can produce up to 179PS of power and 250Nm of torque, while providing great driveability, excellent mileage and low emissions. But sadly, for India, we lost the supercharger and received a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine that produces just 122PS of power and 200Nm of torque. So you can imagine then, that looking at the facts and figures, we’d all be left a little disappointed. But then what does all this mean for someone who fancies buying a petrol powered Jetta in India? Well, since this is all about a new engine, let’s get straight to the performance game.

Volkswagen Jetta 1.4 TSI driving

Just how much has the performance dropped?
Of course, with a smaller, and more importantly less powerful engine, performance is going to be on the low side. So don’t expect this to take on its diesel twin or its petrol powered cousin from the Skoda stables. Compared to the Jetta TDI, this is 18PS and a whopping 120Nm down while compared to the Laura TSI, the difference is 38PS and 50Nm. Now all this would be fine if the car was considerably lighter, or that engine was plonked into a smaller car.

But at a bit over 1.4 tonnes, it’s not exactly what you may call light on its feet. With just the turbocharger having to do all the work of force feeding that small displacement engine with mouthfuls of air, the run from naught to 100km/h takes 11.7 seconds, which definitely puts the Jetta TSI lower down the performance ladder in its class.

Volkswagen Jetta 1.4 TSI gearbox

Zero to 100km/h times are just one side of the story though, and the side that doesn’t matter too much in the real world. What matters more is driveability, and here the Jetta TSI certainly impresses. Not because it churns out any class leading figures, but because it manages things that you simply don’t expect from a car that, at least on paper, seems underpowered. The tractability of this engine is surprisingly good, especially in the first three gears, and in third, this TSI can pull along from 60 to 80km/h in just 4.71 seconds.

Gears four through six however all offer overdrive ratios, which means that when you’re cruising along on the open road at highway speeds, they offer smooth and efficient driving, but you won’t find yourself reaching for the top three gears too often in the confines of the city. But then again, expecting that the ‘driving-about-in-a-single-high-gear’ antics of the TDI would be possible on this car would really be hoping for too much. Still, compared to the diesel, the TSI’s short-throw 6-speed gearbox shifts very slickly indeed and the light clutch pedal action ensures that changing cogs on the manual transmission never feels like manual labour.

Volkswagen Jetta 1.4 TSI driving rear

If it’s not as quick, is it more efficient?
With the price of petrol at about 75 rupees across the country, suddenly mileage becomes an all important factor, even within a segment you’d think isn’t so concerned with penny pinching and squeezing every kilometre from that last drop of fuel. The TDI was a very impressive car in this aspect, churning out a combined fuel economy of above 15kmpl on the worst of days, and if you used your right foot a little more conservatively, we’ve seen this number climb even over 30kmpl! Expecting this sort of frugality from any petrol engine is really asking for the moon, and even the ARAI’s claim of 14.7kmpl is not too bad really.

Our own tests however run by ZigWheels’ chief road tester, Dilip Desai, saw the TSI under-delivering on the mileage front than what the company and the ARAI claims. On the highways around Pune, the figure was about 11.7kmpl, while in heavy city traffic, it dropped to a paltry 8.2kmpl. With the combined figure barely over 9kmpl, the downsized 1.4-litre TSI engine doesn’t really offer any significant fuel savings over the group’s 1.8-litre TSI motor doing duty in the Skoda Laura. However, Volkswagen’s techno-marvel of an engine is certainly what you can call ‘green’. With a CO2 emission figure of 144g/km, it is one of the least polluting cars in the executive car segment and getting yourself one of these cars is an express ticket to guilt-free motoring heaven.

Volkswagen Jetta 1.4 TSI interiors

So what DO you get?
Well, the rest of the car pretty much stays the same, which is a really good thing. The same conventional, yet handsome styling on the outside, the same well put together interiors and overall top notch build quality carry over exactly from its diesel twin. The Jetta’s cabin is a wonderful place to be in, and while it might not wow you with gadgets galore, very few cars in the Indian market feel this good, especially from behind the wheel. And what about the Jetta’s legendary handling? Well, that’s almost intact. The 205/55R16 tyres provide plenty of grip in every imaginable driving condition, but with a lighter motor over the front wheels, the front end of the car feels a little floaty, though only at high speeds, and the feedback from the steering wheel isn’t as sharp. But this is still one of the best handling executive sedans money can buy.

But the real advantage the TSI offers over the TDI is the affordability factor. With the Trendline model priced at Rs 13.6 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) and the Comfortline at Rs 15.07 lakh, variant to variant, you end up saving over 1.3 lakh rupees, and that’s a pretty princely sum no matter how well off you are. On the other hand, the things you do miss out on are the top-of-the-range Highline trim level (along with all the little goodies that it offers over the Comfortline trim) and an automatic gearbox option. That being said, it faces stiff competition from its Czech cousin, the Skoda Laura, which offers pretty much all the same features, but with the larger 1.8-litre TSI mill, at an even lower price which undercuts the Jetta TSI’s by about Rs 70,000 to 80,000.

And after everything we’ve said about the car, the thing that we can take away from it is that it is definitely a brilliant machine in many departments, but sadly will always feel like it plays the ‘brat’ to its ‘good boy’ diesel twin. If it was a proper ‘bad boy’ (and we mean that in a good way – in the way that the Laura vRS is to the Laura L&K diesel), then it’d definitely have many takers. But the way things stand, it’ll end up being the Jetta for those who think the Jetta is too expensive. For the rest of those who want the Jetta and are willing to pay the premium for it, diesel is the way to go!

Mahindra XUV500 DC Lounge : First Drive

Design guru Dilip Chhabria gets his hands on the Mahindra XUV5OO and gives it the DC Lounge treatment
Mahindra XUV500 DC Lounge
Dilip Chhabria needs no introduction. Founder of DC Design and the brains behind some of the most wonderfully outlandish one-off cars India has ever seen, he has also been churning out what are called DC Lounge kits for everyday cars for a little while now. The DC Lounge concept is simple – take a regular (and slightly large) car, strip out the interiors and replace them with a set-up more lavish than even the most luxurious of luxury cars can offer. And this service is absolutely brilliant for those who want something opulent to sit in, but don’t want any sort of flash to be seen from the outside.

Mahindra XUV500 DC Lounge 24-inch captain seats

 The DC Lounge’s weapon of choice has, in most cases been the Toyota Innova, but last year the firm also gave the same treatment to its butch SUV cousin, the Toyota Fortuner. But remember, we’re talking about a near 20-lakh-rupee  car. So if you wanted to ‘DC Lounge’ an SUV, but had a donor car budget equivalent to the Innova, you were pretty much out of luck. Until now that is. The good blokes at DC Design have just designed this super luxurious interiors kit for the Mahindra XUV5OO.
Mahindra XUV500 DC Lounge interiors

Once you hand over your XUV5OO to DC Design, the firm really goes to town on it. The original second row bench and the foldable third row are chucked out, and in their place go a pair of 24-inch captain seats which are fully electric and can recline to a maximum of 150 degrees – perfect to take a nap in on those long drives. These seats, clad in very tasteful brown leather match the rest of the interior trim treatment, and feature controls for the seat position as well as the interior lights in the armrests. The roof also features an aircraft style centre module which offers diffused ambient lighting as well as an individual set of reading lights for each of the rear passengers.
Mahindra XUV500 DC Lounge offer pair of 10.4-inch LCD televisions
The backs of the front two seats feature a pair of 10.4-inch LCD televisions which can be hooked up to a variety of sources such as DVD players or even laptops. And if you want to use your laptop or have a meal, a pair of tables with sliding tops  and glass holders fold out from behind the driver and co-driver seats. And the customisation doesn’t end there. The same leather upholstery as well as wood panel trim is also available for the front of the cabin, to match the look and feel of the rear seats.
Mahindra XUV500 DC Lounge controls for the seat position

 The best part of a customisation job like this is that you can enjoy the lap of luxury without showing it off to the world. However, if you were in the mood to show off and the let all those watching know that you aren’t being driven around in a regular Mahindra XUV5OO, you can always go for the optional DC body kit which includes a new sculpted bumper as well as elegant cladding on the doors and wheel arches. All we can say is, wow!

MS Dhoni's Superbike Team unveils new identity

Mahendra Singh Dhoni's World Superstock team changes name from MSD R-N Racing Team India to Mahi Racing Team India and announces new riders for the 2013 season

Mahi Racing Team members
After ending the 2012 season of the World Superbike Championship in the Supersport category on a high note, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Superbike Championship Team unveiled a new identity and announced two new riders in its line-up today. The team has been rechristened Mahi Racing Team India and their Kawasaki ZX-6R bike will sport a new logo and livery for the upcoming season. The Indian cricket team skipper took the wraps off the bike at an event in Mumbai.  
 Mahi Racing has signed up three-time world champion Kenan Sofouglu and former champion Fabien Foret, who finished the 2012 season in fourth place. The two new riders will join existing members Dan Linfoot and Florian Marino. Signed as the factory team for Kawasaki, Mahi Racing Team riders will be testing the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R during the official winter testing season. With the new rider line-up, the Indian team will aim for the 2013 championship title. 

 Mahi Racing Team logo
The team marked its entry in the world of superbike racing mid-way through the 2012 season. Dani Linfoot and Florian Marino put up some brilliant performances with a points finish by Marino in the very first race and a brilliant podium finish for Linfoot in the last race of the season at Magny Cours, France. 

“We were targeting mid-table finishes to form a base for the next season (2013). But the team put up a sterling performance and created history by pulling off a podium finish after just five rounds. Our rider Dan Linfoot finished a remarkable third in Magny Cours, France. Our crew did an outstanding job by setting up the team in such a short time,” said Arun Pandey, Chairman and Managing Director of the Mahi Racing Team. 
 Mahi Racing Team members
 Mahi Racing team, which will compete in all the races in the 2013 season, will also be seen in India with FIM World Superbike Championship debuting on the Buddh International Circuit in March. A lot of hopes and dreams are riding on the team with Mahindra Racing – India’s other big motorcycle racing team – already making waves in the world of racing by winning the Constructors Title in the 125GP class at the Italian National Motorcycle Racing Championship (CIV) in Italy.
Team MSD R-N Racing entered mid way in the championship but went on to showcase some strong performances in the 600cc class and even grabbed a podium finish. Under the new brand name, Mahi Racing team India, as the team will now be called, the team has gone some changes in riders and their targets.
The team has signed three-time and reigning world Supersport champion Kenan Sofouglu and Fabien Foret who finished fourth in the championship. Apart from these two main riders, Mahi racing has also signed Dan Linfoot and Fabian Marino. To give you some background on Foret, he has won the title in 2002 and also has 24 podium finishes to his credit. The Mahi Racing Team has got a new logo too and the biggest support to the team currently is that it will be the factory team of Kawasaki and so they can expect maximum support in terms of technology.
Arun Pandey, chairman and managing director of Mahi Racing said,” We were targeting mid-table finishes to form a base for the next year. But the team put up a sterling performance and created history by pulling off a podium finish after just five rounds. Our rider Dan Linfoot finished a remarkable third at Magny Cours, France. Our crew did an outstanding job by setting up the team within such a short time.” The riders will be using the Kawasaki ZX-6R for the racing and will be testing during the official winter testing season. Next year, WSBK is coming to India, and definitely Dhoni’s team will see a good fan following.
Mahi Racing Team India
mahindra racing team indiaMahi Racing Team IndiaMahi Racing Team India

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Honda Accord vs Volkswagen Passat

The Japs take on the Germans in this one
HONDA ACCORD                          2.4                                   V.6
In lakh Rs (Ex-showroom, Mum)     20.25-21.05                    27.36
ENGINE                                            2354cc, I-4, petrol          3471cc, V6, petrol
                                                           177.5 bhp@6500rpm    271bhp@6200rpm
                                                           22.63kgm@4300rpm    34.5kgm@5000rpm
TRANSMISSION                              5-speed manual/auto    5-speed auto
DIMENSIONS in mm (L/W/H)         4950/1845/1475            4950/1845/1475
WHEELBASE                                  2800 mm                        2800 mm  
GROUND CLEARANCE                155 mm                          155 mm  
KERB WEIGHT                                1525 kg                          1635 kg
 In lakh Rs (Ex-showroom, Mum)     21.33-26.31
ENGINE                                            1968cc, I-4, diesel
                                                           168 bhp@4200 rpm
                                                            35.4 kgm@1750-2500 rpm
TRANSMISSION                               6-speed manual/DSG
DIMENSIONS in mm (L/W/H)          4769/1820/1470
WHEELBASE                                   2712 mm  
GROUND CLEARANCE                 150 mm 
KERB WEIGHT                                 1591 kg

What are you going to tell your friends about this car? 
Honda Accord 
Heck, it’s a Camry from Honda! It’s a Honda, so  what you get is enviable reliability, smooth to run, fantastic leg room, great over smooth roads and it has a prestige halo around it at the company parking lot. The 2.4 is silky smooth. And there are hardly any cars that give you so much V6 power going to the front wheels. 
Volkswagen Passat 
You’ll never get this level of German engineering at this value. If it wanted, the Passat could wear an Audi logo and get away with it. As far as exec sedans go, the Passat is hard to beat – it’s comfortable for rear passengers when the roads get bad and when it gets good, it’s terrific behind the wheel. 

 What are your friends going to talk behind your back about this car? 
Honda Accord 
Wonder where this guy’s money come from? How can he afford the Accord’s drinking habits, that too, it’s petrol! Getting a V6 is the ultimate act of sinning. And if he could afford the fuel costs, why didn’t he buy a proper Camry instead. And have you seen him cringing when the roads get bad?  
Volkswagen Passat 
He just shows his class; he doesn’t know that diesel is for truckers. The really smart guys know the value and the vibe-free petrol motors – pity he is not one of them. For the same price he could have got himself one of those brilliant corporate edition 3 Series BeeEms. But BMWs are for active people; he’s pretty boring actually.

Is it a car to drive or to be driven in? 
Honda Accord  
Well, this company makes a large-ish soft-roader that is deceptive; because it is as good if not better than cars when it comes to driving pleasure. But with the Accord, the focus is more on the rear passenger. It is effortless to drive, though not as engaging as Hondas usually are. The V6 is mental. 
Volkswagen Passat 
This too is great for the rear passenger and unlike the Honda, it gets its marks for ride quality. But that apart, the Passat is a good car to drive due to its torquey motor and DSG – between the two, you can have a blast on weekends, when the driver is off-duty. If not for the motor, it would be a bland car to drive.

 What will your neighbours think of you when you buy it ? 
Honda Accord 
That you are nouveau riche. Suddenly, you have made money and you have to tell the world about it. That you appreciate flash value rather than discreet taste. Perhaps they think you are politically incorrect too, driving large, expensive, petrol sedans when there is a bloodbath in the oilfields out there. 
Volkswagen Passat  
That you have Wehrmacht memorabilia inside a cupboard in your bedroom. You want the world to think you are methodical and have an engineering bent of mind. But in secret, you wished for a Camry but decided on the Passat because you were getting German engineering at the same price.

Maruti Suzuki Ertiga Vs Mahindra Xylo

Maruti Suzuki Ertiga Vs Mahindra Xylo 

The people carrier from the makers of the peoples car takes on one from a much larger family

First, the essentials 

Maruti Suzuki Ertiga 
Price in lakh (Ex-showroom, Mum)     Rs 5.89-8.45  
ENGINE 1373cc, I-4, petrol/ 1248cc, I-4, diesel 94 bhp@6000 rpm/89 bhp@4000 rpm 13.25 kgm@4000 rpm/ 20.39 kgm@ 1750 rpm  
TRANSMISSION     5-speed manual     
DIMENSIONS in mm (L/W/H) 4265/1695/1685 
WHEELBASE 2740 mm  
KERB WEIGHT 960-1060 kg

Mahindra Xylo  
Price in lakh (Ex-showroom, Mum)     Rs 7.09 - 10.14 
ENGINE    2498cc, I-4, diesel/2179cc, I-4, diesel 112 bhp@3800 rpm/122 bhp@4000 rpm 26.5 kgm@1800-2200 rpm/ 28.55 kgm@1800-2800 rpm  
TRANSMISSION 5-speed manual  
DIMENSIONS in mm (L/W/H) mm 4520/1850/1905 
WHEELBASE 2760 mm  
KERB WEIGHT 1800 kg  

Here’s my people carrier from the maker of the people’s car! The Ertiga is front-wheel driven – I can upgrade from my Ritz without re-learning driving. The Ertiga offers two peppy engines, which are pretty fuel efficient. It’s comfortable too. The middle row slides and getting in and out for my grandparents isn’t an issue either.  
Mahindra Xylo 
With the recent facelift, the Xylo is not bad looking. You get a lot of metal and power for less money – it’s like the Innova without that stiff price tag. It is massive inside; you could have a party in it and it is versatile too. It is more rugged than any Maruti Suzuki will be and there is this go-anywhere feel about it.

That you have upgraded from a smaller Ritz to a larger one, with a few Honda Jazz elements. They will snigger at the way it looks at the back and wonder at what local mechanic you got the body job done. Your friends will curse you, especially the ones sitting in the last row. They will know you had a tight budget, which is why you didn’t buy a proper people carrier. 
Mahindra Xylo  
They will laugh at your attempt to justify this big MPV’s looks. Then they will comment on what a good school it is for students of ergonomics to learn how to do MPV interiors better. They may relax in the luxury of the Xylo, but will have things to say about its gearing and the way it dives while braking. They will also notice you don’t have place to park it anywhere.

Is it a car to drive or to be driven in?  
Maruti Suzuki Ertiga 
It is a Suzuki, so some fun-to-drive elements can be expected in it, even if it’s an MPV. It is front-wheel driven, so it is quite chuckable. The new 1.4-litre K Series motor is brilliant – if carrying less load, it is a fun car to pilot. The diesel is also the best in the business. Maruti Suzuki’s ride quality has improved. So you can do both!  
Mahindra Xylo  
The diesel motor of the Xylo is a strong performer. Even with a full load, the low-down torque helps. The gearing and gearshift quality may be off, but the engine overwhelms it with its gusto. The Xylo cannot be hustled around corners too fast, but as far as driving pleasure goes, it is best felt on the open highway – it cruises brilliantly. Passengers are kept comfortable overall. Net net, it is better to be a passenger in it. 

What will your neighbours think of you when you buy it ?  
Maruti Suzuki Ertiga 
That you are a family man with family values. You want your family with you wherever you go. You are frugal and don’t want to indulge anyone. You have been buying Suzukis all along, so you are not a risk-taker and aren’t impulsive. All great attributes to attract a wife, but not good enough to get yourself a girlfriend!  
Mahindra Xylo 
That you are in the fleet taxi business – undercover, of course. You have a driver to take you to office and then you send him to different customers to ferry them from one place to another. Otherwise, why would you buy a utility vehicle as a personal carrier? Or, you got yourself the Xylo to mark your parking territory.