Auto Manifesto

February 5, 2009

2009 Washington Auto Show

Two nights ago I attended the SAE Government/Industry reception and Washington DC car show. Here are some notes:

Briefly chatted with Henrik Fisker about racing. He was open to the possibility of racing his cars if a team with sponsorship came to him and wanted to develop a range extended vehicle for racing, particularly the American Le Mans Series. If a company were to do that, imagine how much faster it would drive the development of these types of range extended vehicles. Racing would quickly identify new problems and the solutions needed to overcome them.

The Tesla display had a nice rolling chassis and powertrain on display. The transmission is made by BorgWarner. I only brought my camera phone so the pics aren't great but...


Ford will release a Focus-sized electric sedan in 2011 in conjunction with Magna. It's going to be powered by lithium-ion batteries, an AC motor, a single ratio gearbox, and the batteries will be in the trunk and under the rear seat. The batteries will be air cooled by fans that suck air from the cabin over the batteries and then out the body vents.

The range-extended ENVI (I think that's how they feel about others right about now) Chrysler minivan on display had a neat powerplant - appears to only have two cylinders. It's a great example of downsizing engines for serial-hybrid applications if it works.



This EV pick up with in wheel motors is a monster. I don't buy the whole "no compromises" hype but it is a neat vehicle. A quick peek underneath reveals that there is a solid beam axle with wheel motors on the ends - kind of like a self-propelled barbell, and more ground clearance than if it had a driveshaft. Each motor weighs sixty-six pounds which is quite heavy unsprung mass, but it might ride well nonetheless.



Also, the hydraulic hybrid SUV is here. The powertrain was orginally developed for parcel delivery vans but is now being scaled down for slightly smaller applications. We probably won't see these on small cars until the storage tanks can withstand much higher pressures, but it is an interesting mechanical series-hybrid application. There are no driveshafts and the wheels are driven by hydraulic pumps.


More info at EPA: http://www.epa.gov/oms/technology/

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