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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Technology

Proving The EcoBoost In A Big Way

On: Fri, Sep 24, 2010 at 10:43AM | By: John Welch

Proving The EcoBoost In A Big Way test 1-1

Yesterday I reported the wealth of engine options available for the 2011 Ford F-150. I also posed some difficult questions: would truck buyers shell out their hard-earned money for cylinder counts less than eight? Are V6 engines stout enough to take the abuse meted out by dirt roads, hauling of large mammals, bulldozer relocation, random falling boulders, and anything else a hairy-chested truck commercial might throw their way?

Ford would like to save you some time and shed light on these quandaries. How's a 150,000-mile bench test followed a week of timber hauling followed by 24 hours of race car trailerin' followed by 1,000 miles of Baja running followed by a complete tear-down sound? Ford will do all of that and more to one, randomly chosen 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6. Not a fully built ringer, just a ordinary engine assembly plucked from the bowels of the Cleveland Engine Plant and thrown on the dyno, eager to pass its first test.

Full details on all of the glorious torture and quotes from Ford, inside the post . . .

UPDATE: Weird things going on with the innerwebs. Notice how we imply that there should be a video of some sort in the body of this blog post? Hmmm, yes, it isn't there. Neither is the webpage I got it from. Perhaps it is being updated? Or, just maybe, the randomly selected EcoBoost engine popped? We'll let you know when we find out!

Update: New Chinese Policy May Force Automakers to Share Technology; Dingell Outraged!

On: Fri, Sep 24, 2010 at 9:44AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Update: New Chinese Policy May Force Automakers to Share Technology; Dingell Outraged!  test 1-1

The latest automotive news related to the Chinese government’s intention to gain information from other automakers for its advantage in the renewable energy market is not a topic for discussion in the U.S. House of Representatives.

United States Representative John Dingell, D-Mich., has made a statement that he felt “outraged” about the government in China for attempting to put pressure on automakers around the world to reveal technology blueprints for electric vehicles in exchange for the privilege of selling cars to China’s booming automotive market.

Dingell stated that China’s imposed arrangement would “violate the sanctity of the intellectual property laws we hold so dear in the United States.” Dingell said in a recent e-mail statement that “the step would violate Chinese obligations as a World Trade Organization member.”

Chevy To Reincarnate Used Volt Batteries For The Power Grid

On: Thu, Sep 23, 2010 at 4:57PM | By: Chris Weiss

Chevy To Reincarnate Used Volt Batteries For The Power Grid test 1-1

The Chevy Volt is scheduled to go on sale in November of this year, and with an estimated 10 years of battery life it will be a while before used lithium-ions start showing up at battery recycling centers around the country. Chevy is already beginning to prepare for this inevitable event, however, looking to identify possible future uses for the Volt batteries. Toward this end, the automaker announced a partnership with Swiss power grid company ABB Group.

The two companies will work on a pilot program designed to research different purposes that used 16 kW batteries from Volts can serve in the greater energy landscape. According to GM's press release, even after the batteries require replacement within the Volt, they can continue to be used for storage.

"The Volt’s battery will have significant capacity to store electrical energy, even after its automotive life," said Micky Bly, GM Executive Director of Electrical Systems, Hybrids, Electric Vehicles and Batteries. "That’s why we’re joining forces with ABB to find ways to enable the Volt batteries to provide environmental benefits that stretch far beyond the highway."

Ford Goes Crazy With F-150 Engine Options

On: Thu, Sep 23, 2010 at 3:09PM | By: John Welch

Ford Goes Crazy With F-150 Engine Options test 1-1

Ford had increased the quality, reliablilty, and safety of its automotive fleet over the past two years, and now it is increasing engine choices. The Ford F-150, long known as the best selling truck in America, is recieving a much-needed dose of "engine-choice" for 2011, and we have the details on all four powerplants. A word of advice to Chevy and Dodge: pushrods might not be the way to go anymore . . .

Along with two V8 options, the new F-150 will also bring back the V6, in a big way! There is the typical base option, Ford's corporate 3.7 liter making 302 bhp and 278 pound feet of torque. Think about the typical six-cylinder option leveled on trucks of yore: heavy, slow, and not much more economical than their octo-cylinder counterparts. No longer the case! Along with the base engine, Ford is also offering the 3.5 liter Eco-Boost six, pumping out 355 horses and a certified 420 pound feet of stump-pulling torque. Combined with a looong torque curve, this engine should prove popular once the added complication of twin-turbos is no longer scaring off customers.

And thus, a good question is raised. Will truck buyers overlook the stereotypes associated with these modern engines? The added cost and complexity? The possiblity that these techno-marvels will require more than a set of wrenchs and a couple of biceps to repair? Will the V8s out sell the sixes solely based on familiarity?


Ford to EcoBoost Its Entire Line

On: Fri, Sep 17, 2010 at 4:39PM | By: Chris Weiss

Ford to EcoBoost Its Entire Line  test 1-1

In an effort to revamp its image and sales, Ford has been expanding EcoBoost options across its line over the past year, most recently with the addition of the 2.0-liter V4 Ecoboost in the all-new 2011 Explorer. According to a Detroit News report, this will be a part of Ford's greater strategy to offer EcoBoost options in all of its vehicles over the coming years.

Hybrid Market Projected to Decline Over the Next 6 Months

On: Thu, Sep 9, 2010 at 2:01PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Hybrid Market Projected to Decline Over the Next 6 Months  test 1-1

It has been predicted by experts in the automotive industry that the hybrid market may decline as gas prices level off in the next 6 months. JIm Farley, Ford's group vice president of global marketing, sales and service said: “You can't sell a hybrid in today's market,” although Ford still plans to launch the 2011 luxury Lincoln MKZ hybrid sedan this fall.

Farley’s prediction of the hybrid market stems from his belief that fuel prices will go down over the next 6 months which would be detrimental to the hybrid industry.
The impact on the hybrid market has already began to take effect when one looks at the Honda market, for example. Sales of the Insight have gone down by over 50% compared to last year, and Toyota Prius has seen demand down 38% last month to only 11,799 units. 

A year ago the hybrid market was up due to the Cash for Clunkers program, so low sales records are actually falsely inflated, meaning that the hybrid market is even worse than it appears to be.

The overall light vehicle market is up 8% this year, as compared to Prius and Insight sales, which are comparatively much slower so far in 2010.

Farley stated that although the launch of the MKZ hybrid is just around the corner, that Ford does not expect to sell even 10,000 units, even though prices for the Lincoln MKZ hybrid are not projected to be at a premium. Ford designed the vehicle because according to Farley, “it's the smart thing to do and it rounds out the product lineup.”

Ford is serous when they say they want to establish “a green image,” and that the plan is not to simply chase the market.

Finland Proposes World's First

On: Tue, Aug 24, 2010 at 9:29AM | By: Chris Weiss

Finland Proposes World's First  test 1-1

The Loviisa municipality in Finland is leading a project to build what it calls the world's first ecological highway. The highway, which would be built on an 81-mile stretch of road connecting the coastal town of Turku with the town of Vaalima, would feature electric charging stations as well as pumps stocked with locally-sourced biofuels in an attempt to become carbon neutral. The project is aimed at providing a model for the rest of the world. 

Loviisa is located near the beginning of the proposed green highway and has taken the lead on the project. Currently, the project is a potpourri of green brainstorming with ideas ranging from pumps offering biofuels and electricity made from local waste products to geothermal heat pumps to "smart" lighting that automatically turns on and off based on weather and traffic patterns. The town is working on a study to see if the green highway will be feasible and expects to publish a report by next spring.

Production could begin as early as the second half of next year and hopes are that the highway is done by 2016. The cost is projected at around 700 euros ($900 million), a sum that would include both public and corporate financing.

A representative from Loviisa, Aki Marjasvaara, was quoted by AFP in explaining the project's significance: "The aim is to create the model for an ecological highway that could be used even on an international level. No other such project exists. This would set an example to the world."

End Is In Sight: Toyota 80 Percent Finished With Acceleration Recalls

On: Mon, Aug 9, 2010 at 9:27AM | By: Chris Weiss

End Is In Sight: Toyota 80 Percent Finished With Acceleration Recalls test 1-1

In the 2010 automotive landscape, the words "Toyota" and "recall" have taken on a near synonymous relationship that the Japanese automaker undoubtedly can't wait to shed. According to a company executive, Toyota is nearly ready to start fresh. The light at the end of the tunnel is getting warmer and brighter, and Toyota is more than 3/4 of the way toward finishing its unintended acceleration recalls.

Steve St. Angelo, Toyota's chief quality officer in the United States, recently announced that Toyota has repaired 80 percent of the vehicles involved in its 2009-2010 unintended acceleration recalls. By his reckoning, that puts it ahead of the average in terms of the percentage of cars repaired under a given recall. The automaker is focusing its attention on following up with the remaining 20 percent to ensure that all vehicles are safe to drive.

Toyota's acceleration issues began last September when it announced a recall involving 3.8 million U.S. vehicles. This initial recall was for floor mats that Toyota cited as the cause of unintended acceleration. Less than four months later, Toyota announced another major recall affecting 2.3 million U.S. vehicles, also for unintended acceleration. However, floor mats were no longer to blame, and the second recall related to a sticking accelerator pedal. In all, Toyota has recalled over 11 million vehicles worldwide in the past year.

During its recall crisis, Toyota has come under scrutiny from every angle—from U.S. government investigations to media reports to lawsuits and independent analysis. In April, after an extensive investigation, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration fined Toyota $16.4 million—the maximum that it's allowed to issue under law—for its delayed actions in the recalls. The NHTSA's investigation remains ongoing.

The Road Racing Weekend

On: Fri, Aug 6, 2010 at 6:05PM | By: John Welch

The Road Racing Weekend test 1-1

Sports cars aplenty this weekend, the American Le Mans Series is sharing the track with the IzodIndyCar Series, and the Rolex Grand Am Series will tackle Watkins Glen on Saturday, before NASCAR rolls in for their annual trip to the Glen. Grand Am won't start qualifying until noon-forty-five tomorrow, while the ALMS handled qualifications today.

There is lots of news involving prototypes and driver swaps and wrecks and general sports car zaniness. Let's dive right in with more Lola news.

Roush/Yates Engines has signed a contract to provide Lola Cars with purpose-built EcoBoost engines for new 2011 Lola chassis. The liter twin-turbo V6 will be built at the Roush Yates factory in Mooresville, North Carolina. The Ford EcoBoost LMP engine is designed to be a low maintenence, high mileage alternative to more exotic power plants from HPD (Honda Performance Development) and others. Lowering costs even further, this engine will be offered as a standard installation unit for Lola's 2011 LMP2-ish contender, the B11/40. If the 2011 engines function well and prove to be popular alternatives for LMP2-spec prototypes, Roush Yates may begin development on a Ford Coyote-based power plant. The Coyote, if you're not familiar, is the instantly legnedary 5.0 mill stuffed into 2011 Mustang GTs.

This isn't the first time a Yates engine has found its way into a Lola chassis. The Kremer Team ran Yates V8s in their Lolas in 2000, taking wins at Spa Francochamps and Kyalami. Both companies are excited about next season, and I am getting excited about all these turbo-equipped prototypes we may see next season.

More roadracingcrack inside the post . ..

OnStar To Deliver Mobile App Functionality Across GM Brands

On: Fri, Aug 6, 2010 at 10:14AM | By: Chris Weiss

OnStar To Deliver Mobile App Functionality Across GM Brands  test 1-1

Early this year, at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show, GM introduced an app for the Chevy Volt that brought basic vehicle controls like locking and unlocking doors to smartphones. With the growth of hybrid and electric vehicle technology, the lines between the automotive and consumer electronics markets are blurring, and the move appeared to be made to highlight the advanced technological aspects of the Volt plug-in. Today, GM announced that it won't be limiting app functionality to the 2011 Volt, or to plug-in vehicles; it will be offering apps for nearly all of its models beginning next year.

Daytona Construction Well Underway, Piece of Track With Every Daytona 500 Ticket

On: Thu, Aug 5, 2010 at 11:25AM | By: John Welch

Daytona Construction Well Underway, Piece of Track With Every Daytona 500 Ticket test 1-1

As soon as the last Sprint Cup car disappeared into the Daytona International Speedway garage on the evening of July 3rd, the tarmac surrounding the 2.5 mile landmark began to tremble. It knew its time as the racing surface in Daytona was up. On July 5th, the tarmac realized its worst fears. Crews began disassembling the catch fence surrounding the track, trucking in construction equipment, and making the final preparations for the new track surface.

Now we crawl into August (I say 'crawl' because that is the fastest we can travel when outdoors in Florida; it’s very hot and an elevated heart rate will cause one's head to explode) and The AutoShopperBlog has a few DaytonaConstruction updates for you. Brothers operating cranes, tarmac for free, and month-one progress inside the post . . .