ಶನಿವಾರ, ಏಪ್ರಿಲ್ 21, 2012

Predatory Lexus Face

When I saw the new design for the 2013 Lexus GS 350, I was reminded of something... 


Or perhaps

2011 LA Auto Show - Exclusive photos

Bridgestone Airless Tire Concept

Cool.  From PhysOrg.com.

Michelin has also been working on the Tweel airless tire for some time now, but it isn't ready for civilian commercial sale, yet.


2015's Land Rover Defender will build in India

The report of Autocar states that 2015’s Land Rover Defender will be built at Tata’s plant in pune,India. The Defender is a truly old school body-on-frame SUV that sells in small numbers compared to the rest of the Land Rover line. But it has benefitted from latest technology, some regulatory gymnastics and exemptions and, like the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen, a warm place in people's minds. If it's going to be around, though, LR would like to move more of them. Building the next invention model in Pune with last meeting of some examples in England, a reverse of what's done now with products like the knockdown Freelander could give the Defender's bottom line the further advance technology it needs, as well as close proximity to Middle Eastern and Asian markets. It is estimated that the next Tata Aria SUV will be close enough in dimensions and developed to share the same facility with the 2015 Defender. It is predicted to have the common features of the DC100 idea. The present Defender is slated to stay on sale until 2017, and will probably be built in Solihull, England.

Review: Thermos Stainless King

I have finally found the ultimate travel coffee tumbler.  I'm throwing the rest away, this is it:

The Thermos Travel King.  It is a double walled stainless tumbler.  In use, it has kept my coffee and tea hot for hours, without ever warming up to the touch on the outside at all.  It has a simple but effective silicone gasket system, which switches from free flowing to tightly sealed with the flip of a lever.  It even has a neat little hook inside the lid to hang a tea bag without trailing the string out and ruining the seal.

These are not cheap, but they seem to be built to last.  Worth every dollar.

  • Keeps hot stuff hot a long time
  • Seals tightly
  • Tea bag hook
  • Disassembles for easy cleaning
  • Not cheap
  • Made in China
  • Some users report paint flaking off with use (but I would not care myself)
*I received no compensation for this review, I am just a happy customer.

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Land Rover planning for a larger Evoque

land rover evoqueReports suggest that Land Rover may be working to launch a larger version of the Range Rover Evoque in order to split the difference between the current Evoque and Range Rover Sport models because the latter vehicle moves farther up market.

Maruti launches new swift Dzire

Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. introduced the cheaper model of its Swift Dzire sedan as part of efforts to retain its position as the country's largest car maker by sales.

Comparing with the current 4.1 meter long model Dzire the new one is 3.95 meters, qualifying it for a lower federal excise tax.

Normally the government imposes a 10% tax on cars measuring up to 4 meters in length. These cars has a diesel engine of only up to 1.5 liters or a gasoline engine of up to 1.2-liters.

The managing executive officer Mayank Pareek told that the gasoline version of the new Dzire model will cost 479,000 rupees ($9,677)-619,000 rupees at New Delhi dealerships and the diesel model will cost 580,000 rupees-709,000 rupees. But Mr. Pareek told that the latest model will cost 25,000 rupees-30,000 rupees less than the existing model and he told Maruti will continue to market the existing model of the Swift Dzire but mainly target it at taxi operators.

The new Swift Dzire model is based on the Swift hatchback platform. Maruti has invested 2.2 billion rupees to manufacture the new car in addition to the 5.5 billion rupees invested in the new Swift platform.

2012 Detroit NAIAS: Shelby GT500 Dyno Pull

Ford had some cojones. Not content to just show off the outrageously powerful 650HP GT500, they actually set up a dyno, strapped one down, and did 140mph pulls ever hour. It was LOUD.I am amazed the fire marshal allowed it.

ಶುಕ್ರವಾರ, ಏಪ್ರಿಲ್ 20, 2012

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Driven: Jaguar XF 2.2 collection


It’s a curious one,this. How do you make a extravagance product sit easily in the minds of thecar-buying public (and EU emissions regulators) when the zeitgeist is in favourof eco badges, small engines and lightweight models? You pinch Ford’s 2.2-litrediesel engine and put it in your big bar, which, until now, has been runningwith a choice of 3.0-litre V6 diesel or 5.0-litre supercharged petrol engines,and hope that shuts up your critics and wins you more fuel-conscious patrons.
The problem is, Jaguarhas built its standing on big, fast, commanding cars, and so does this2.2-litre diesel version make the XF a more, or less, beautiful proposition?
I love the XF, havingrun a 3.0-litre V6 edition for six months a duo of years ago. It belies itssize and weight with wonderfully delicate steering and handling that allow thedriver to place the car accurately where he/she wants it. Nothing has distortedwith this latest version, and the car looks a lot better for its facelift,which has given it meaner headlights and a sharper rear. I got jealous glancesfrom the deprived souls who bought MkI models, which abruptly look dated.
But when you begin theengine (we had the higher-powered 187bhp version of the 2.2), you get the nastydiesel jangle of a car several rungs down the class ladder. “Oh dear,” Ithought, “They’ve ruined it.” Sure enough, the engine grumbles originally infirst gear, and seems unwilling to go anywhere, so off we rumbled down theroad, me thinking Jaguar had sold itself down the river with a clangy, rattlyold banger. But build up speed, say to 40mph, and all reverts to incredibletype: it becomes a quiet workhorse with enough power for fast overtakes, andsmooth, creamy delivery. In the space of one intersection on the M3, I wentfrom hating this car to punishing myself for not gullible Jaguar to get itright. Of route it has got it right: it’s got practically the whole thing rightsince Indian firm Tata took over in 2008.
So I still love the Jaguar XF, and yes, it would emerge this is the one to buy (I can’t help feeling the 161bhpaccount would be just too feeble). With 149g/km of CO2 and a quoted 52.3mpg onthe combined cycle, versus 169g/km and 45mpg for the 3.0-litre trade, plus acheaper cost by three or four impressive, it’s the one to have.

ಮಂಗಳವಾರ, ಏಪ್ರಿಲ್ 17, 2012

Latest Volvo models on demonstrate in Dammam


First Motor Company,Al-Futtaim Group’s completely owned automotive trade and exclusive distributorand retailer of Volvo Cars in Saudi Arabia, inaugurated its first newdealership in Dammam as part of its constant efforts to provide benchmarkedauto services across the Kingdom.
Colin Cordery, organizationmanager, FMC, Torban Eckhart, leader of Volvo Turkey and GCC, David Forster,general manager FMC, as well as local administration officials, foreigndignitaries and members of the press attended the induction ceremony.
The new dealership and examinecenter, situated in the Al-Rakah area, will showcase the full range of Volvo’s mostrecent models including the popular S60 and XC60 models and soon the all newV40.
Colin Cordery said:“This new showroom exemplifies Al-Futtaim Group’s automotive division’s mostexcellent practices and processes to offer our KSA customers with superiorsales and service practice for a car brand that is esteemed and loved in theKingdom. Al-Futtaim has proven capability and familiarity in the automotiveindustry in the focus east and we will continue to provide all Volvo regularswith the same high quality of services and carry that our customers enjoythroughout the region. Our company in the UAE has been very successful allthese years, resulting in strong all-round development for the Volvo brand. TheDammam showroom is a firm step in our continual support of our regulars and welook forward to making Volvo cars available in more locations throughout theKingdom.”
David Forster said:“This facility will provide customers entrance to the latest Volvo models,after-sales trouble in a state-of-the-art service center, and sales andtrade-in of used vehicles. FMC looks frontward to introducing its customers inthe Eastern County to a new standard in service excellence from Al-Futtaim andVolvo in a recent, comfortable, and included facility.”

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ಭಾನುವಾರ, ಏಪ್ರಿಲ್ 15, 2012

Range Rover Evoque revitalized as Loder1899 Horus

Bavarian tuner, Loder1899, has publicized their new and latest program for the Range Rover Evoque. Named "Horus" means the Egyptian god. It has the lot of stylish components includes a complete front bumper, integrated fender flares and a more aggressive rear diffuser. Some other items include the optional gigantic 11x23-inch Elements IV wheels 315/35R23 Michelins and a lowered suspension. 

The price for the styling kit not includes the wheels and tires is 3,032 Euros (German VAT incl) while the whole package including painting and installation is 12,047 Euros.With the Range Rover Evoque, the design has been optimized rousing excited interest in the cars world.

ಗುರುವಾರ, ಏಪ್ರಿಲ್ 5, 2012

Nissan exec: Electric cars will win in U.S.

NEW YORK (Market Watch) - Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn stood by his company’s early jump into electric cars,predicting Wednesday that high gasoline prices will raise demand as productionof the Leaf sedan ramps up later this year.
Gasoline at $4 a gallon atthe force provides “great advertising” for electric cars, Ghosn told the mediaafter his speech at the New York International Auto show.
Ghosn, president and chief executive officer of Nissan Motor Co., said the Leaf has been impacted by provideconstraints tied to last year’s earthquake in Japan, as well as costsassociated with a weaker wish.
“Electric cars hold guarantee,”he said. “All the stars are facing up for them. I’m not at all changing my chipperadvance to zero-emission cars.”
Availability should developwhen the Nissan begins U.S. fabrication of the vehicle this summer inTennessee, he said.
Initial customersatisfaction for the Japan-built Leafs sold in the U.S. thus far has been encouraging,with no complaints about show, he said.
Nissan is also readyingthe U.S. start of a company that recycles electric car batteries, he said.Battery technology will continue to get better, with more venture dollars steeredtoward lighter and cheaper versions that hold more charge, he said.
In March, Nissan sold 579Leafs in the U.S., up from 298 last year — a part of the car maker’stop-selling car, the Altima, which sold more than 41,000. Nissan has sold27,000 Leafs universal since 2011 as the top-selling zero emission vehicle inthe industry, he said.
TheNissan Leaf positions as one of the first all-electric cars in the U.S. for normalauto buyers, along with the Tesla Motors Roadster.
General Motors’ ChevroletVolt runs on batteries for about 40 miles, before a gasoline-powered creatorkicks in to recharge the car. In March, GM sold 2,289 Volts. GM said it was thebest month for the car thus future.
Ghosnsaid other car makers are readying electric cars among them; Ford Motor Co. isrolling out a battery-powered edition of its new hub car this year.

ಬುಧವಾರ, ಏಪ್ರಿಲ್ 4, 2012

The 2014 Impala

GM has unveiled the 2014 Chevrolet Impala at the NY Auto Show.  You can see nice photos here.

I like the exterior design, it is a big improvement over the current, ancient Impala. 

The interior is also a big upgrade, but to me seems a bit busy.

GM says that it will come with a choice of 2.5L I4, 2.4L eAssist (mild hybrid), and 3.6L V6 powertrains.  It should get pretty good fuel economy, but with the I4 engines pushing about 200HP, it is not going to feel very quick unless the weight is substantially reduced over the current model.  Looking at the photos, I'd be surprised if it is less than 3750#.

ಮಂಗಳವಾರ, ಏಪ್ರಿಲ್ 3, 2012

Ford's 5 "Myths", Aren't

Ford has a post on their web site listing 5 "myths" about electric vehicles.

I think these need a rebuttal.

Myth 1:
"The technology isn't ready."
Ford: "
Ford has been putting reliable, efficient hybrid electric vehicles on the road for over 10 years."
Rebuttal: Sneaky Ford is combining hybrid electric vehicles into the same bin as battery electric vehicles.  Truth is, Ford is about to release its first modern mass market BEV.  The electric Ranger of the late 1990's was a low volume fleet product.  And high profile technical issues in the new crop of EVs show that, in fact, the technology is still in flux.

Myth 2:
"Electric vehicles are too expensive."
Ford: "
Ford has yet to determine pricing on its plug-in hybrid electric vehicle and all-electric vehicles. Though the initial price of these vehicles may be higher than a conventional gas-powered vehicle, keep in mind that the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle is being designed to deliver maximum fuel efficiency. So you may be able to save money on fuel costs. Tax credits may also be available. Check with your appropriate local, state and federal agencies for more information."
Rebuttal: Ford has yet to determine?  They already announced an MSRP of $40,000 for the Focus BEV, and current HEVs, I don't expect the final prices to go down by much--batteries are still expensive.  Truth is, BEVs are prohibitive for most people to buy, until battery costs are reduced dramatically.   HEVs do have a faster payoff, yet even with $4/gal gas, they are not exactly flying off of the dealer lots.

Myth 3: "I'm afraid I'm going to get stranded when the battery runs out."
Ford: "
A Ford hybrid electric vehicle has a gasoline engine, so you're in no more danger of getting stuck than you would be if you were driving a traditional gasoline engine- powered vehicle. The battery of the hybrid electric is also continuously charged while you drive. As for the all-electric vehicle now in development, Ford is working with the public and private sectors to help create the infrastructure that will enable you to recharge your all-electric vehicle in a variety of locations other than your home."
Rebuttal: Ford again combines HEV and BEV into the same answer.  If you have a Focus BEV, chances are you will only get about 75 miles (according to EPA) on average.  That's a mere one hour of driving at Michigan speeds.  Anyone driving a BEV must be careful about range, because recharging takes at least 4 hours for a full charge.

Myth 4: "My commute is too long for an electric vehicle."
Ford: "Because a hybrid electric vehicle has a gas engine as well as an electric motor, no commute is too long for a hybrid. The Ford all-electric vehicle, currently in development, is targeted to go up to 100 miles on a single charge."
Rebuttal: The average daily commute is about 40 miles, so a 75 mile average range should cover it.  But if you are driving in the winter, and using the heater, you probably won't have much range left for the grocery run after work, or the detour to pick up the dry cleaning.

Myth 5: "They don't make electric vehicles in the style I want."
Ford: "Ford offers hybrid electric vehicles in the responsive, fun-to-drive Fusion as well as the Escape small SUV. Other Ford vehicles are currently in development."
Rebuttal: Escape HEV is about to be killed.  Transit BEV is in limbo along with Azure's future.  Which leaves two styles of vehicle--compact hatch and mid-size car.

ಶುಕ್ರವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 30, 2012

Republicans Buy American, Democrats Don't

According to a new study by Strategic Vision, these are the top 5 vehicles most popular with Democrats:

  • Honda Civic Hybrid
  • Volvo C30
  • Nissan Leaf
  • Acura TSX Wagon
  • Ford Fiesta Sedan

Here are the top 5 vehicles most popular with Republicans:

  • Ford Mustang Convertible
  • Audi A8
  • Mercedes GL
  • Ford Expedition
  • Ford F150

Now, there is a very interesting trend here.  Only one of the Democrat picks is built by an American automaker, and NONE of them are built in UAW plants (the Fiesta is built in Mexico).

On the Republican side, 3/5 are Fords, and all 3 are built by UAW run plants in MIchigan-Flat Rock MI, Rouge MI, and Wayne MI. 

I think some re-evaluation of stereotypes may be in order here.  Democrats will fight tooth and nail to increase union power--but don't necessarily buy the products they produce.

Another one bites the dust...

Another EV maker down.  Azure Dynamics is filing for creditor protection after Canada's investment regulatory agency denied their request to issue new shares, which Azure needed to do to generate operating capital.

That's because Azure wasn't selling many electric vehicles, not enough to support operations.

I am somewhat disappointing, because Azure is a relatively mature player, and wasn't going after exotic 3-wheel cars or anything fancy, they are in what should be a solid business: retrofitting existing designs with electric powertrains.

The problem remains, that the EV conversions are so expensive (batteries!) that few businesses can afford to buy them in lean times, even though they do save a lot of money in the long run, in fuel savings.

I hope Azure survives, but the future for small EV players looks dim. 

ಗುರುವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 29, 2012

H1-B Posting At Work

At work today, the company posted a notice in the coffee room that it was pursuing an H1-B sponsorship. 
I have not seen an H1-B notice in a while. 
The engineering market is definitely tightening up again, in Michigan.

ಬುಧವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 28, 2012

Chicago movers offer Moving and Storage Services

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ಸೋಮವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 26, 2012

BMW South Africa introduced F30 based 3 series race cars

BMW F30 based race car
BMW has introduced the latest version of F30 based 3 series race cars. BMW South Africa partnered with ADF Motorsport to create the 335i race cars.

The N55 turbo straight six is bereft of power-adding tweaks due to series regulations that include a restrictor plate on the turbo and limited boost. ADF and friends have worked over the turbo, exhaust, and ECU, however, so the power train is still good for over 400 horsepower and 440 pound-feet of torque – a tidy increase over the 300/300 ratings of the standard production cars.

In addition, the car's limit weight has been reduced down to 2,998 pounds. Much of that savings was recognized using carbon fiber machines from the M Performance catalog. The team also borrowed a set of 14.5-inch front brake discs and 18 inch wheels from the minds at M. ADF Motorsport say this is the first example of a production-based direct-injected race car.

Ford can power U.S. military's JLTV future

U.S Military's Ford Vehicle
The U.S Army’s Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program (JLTV) can be powered by Latest Ford V8. The BAE systems, Northrup Grumman and Meritor told that their proposed light fighting vehicle called the Valanx will have a Ford Power Stroke 6.7-liter diesel engine under its steel hood. This engine might be bullet proof. If it is good for Army’s Super Duty, then it is good for a Call of Duty.

The BAE systems Vice President Ann Hoholick announced that the Ford’s 6.7 liter power stroke will power the U.S. JLTV family of vehicles. He also said that the Ford’s products have a reputation for dependability and performance even under challenging conditions. This engine has a class-leading fuel economy and the best horse power and torque numbers. 

Ford spokesman Mike Levine told that we are proud of Ford’s 6.7 liter Power stroke V8 diesel engines and its durability and fuel economy.

ಗುರುವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 22, 2012

Chicago Movers Providing Professional Packing Services

Professional packing services
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ಬುಧವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 21, 2012

The Dutch Birdman Is Faking

Take a look at these two frames from Jarnos Smeets test flight video.

In the pre-launch frame, there is a large black dot on the left wing, but no matching dot on the right.

In the post-launch frame, there are large dots on both wings.

That's because the post-launch stuff is CGI.

So why the fakery?  Is Smeets just fooling around, or is this project one of those elaborate marketing devices?

The Truth About Obama's Energy Policy

Obama's reelection team likes to promote the fact that oil and gas production is up during his tenure.  This is great news.

However, this cart from the American Petroleum Institute tells an interesting detail.

Production is up on private lands.  On Federally controlled lands, production is in fact down.  And much of that is due to Obama's policies and regulations. 

Production may be up, but it isn't as large as it could be.

ಸೋಮವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 19, 2012

Consumer Reports Hits Fisker Again


But the Fisker is languishing in our lot, going out mostly for short commutes that remain well within cell-phone coverage in case of trouble--a concern in the rural area surrounding our track. Just this weekend, for example, the speedometer and energy meter display disappeared when driving, on top of having several other rogue warning indicators appear last week. It is expected we'll be revisiting the dealership soon. We've had cars in the past that have been troublesome, but never anything like this.

From source.

ಶನಿವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 17, 2012

Volkswagen plans to debut Electric vehicles on next year

Volkswagen electric carVolkswagen plans bring a Electrical cars into the United States late next year, The Volkswagen president Jonathan Browning told that the 2014 model will be an all-electric version.

Volkswagen will start with a limited roll out targeting specific markets before making the electric Golf available nationwide. The electric Golf also will go on sale in Europe around the same time. It's a fundamental part of our power train strategy, but sometimes it's good to be a little steadier in terms to the approach to the market. They also plan a plug-in version of its Audi A3 for 2014.

By 2018, Volkswagen envisions that about 3 percent of its vehicles sold worldwide will be hybrids and all-electric vehicles.

ಶುಕ್ರವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 16, 2012

Obama's Straw Men

Obama loves to argue with straw men. 

His latest tactic?  Accusing people who oppose his energy policy as being "flat earthers".

"We've heard this kind of thinking before. Let me tell you something. If some of these folks were around when Columbus set sail, they must have been founding members of the Flat Earth Society. They would not have believed that the world was round."  (quoted from Edmunds.com)

Um, no.  Truth is Mr. President, we who are critical of your misadventures in energy policy, we adhere to this ancient, dogmatic system called "the laws of economics".   You can have windmills, and Solyndra powered solar power plants, and magical Unicorn tear powered hydro plants.  For a price, paid by us, the taxpayers.. 

Your plans may damage the economy further, kneecap industry with regulations and taxes, and take away consumer choice. 

Replacing Gas Taxes

GM has an open letter on its blog, here, opposing pending legislation in Washington (State) which levies extra fees on EVs to compensate for lost gas tax revenue. 

GM correctly argues that adding fees on EVs will discourage people from buying them.  However, lost gas tax revenues are looming problem.  As gas cars become more efficient, and some people switch to hybrids and pure EVs, revenue from gasoline sales will drop significantly.   Federal and state gas taxes are generally used to maintain the roads.

So there needs to be a "technology neutral" way to fund road repair.  I think a sensible solution would be to drop gasoline taxes entirely, and fund roads through some sort of usage fee that all cars would pay.  There are many ways to do this:

  • Mileage based fees, which can be collected annually at registration renewal.
  • Higher registration fees.
  • Digital toll roads using license plate reading cameras or RFID
  • Extra sales taxes on new car sales
  • Taxes on electricity used to charge EVs (smart metering)

Each of these has advantages and disadvantages.  The nice thing about gasoline taxes is that the fees are collected gradually.  A camera based toll system could work this way, charging your credit card every month for approximate miles driven, however the required infrastructure and privacy issues would be significant. 

Putting the motoring tax on tires is an interesting concept--all cars and trucks, no matter what the powertrain technology, consume tires.  The problem is, tires last a long time, so the tire tax would have to be very high to recapture lost revenue from gasoline.  Can you imagine payint $1000 extra for a set of tires?

Annual mileage based fees would be equitable, but if you imagine having to pay a year's worth of gasoline taxes at once, you are talking about a hefty bill, on the order of $500-700/year for a typical motorist.  Still, if I had to pick my favorite taxation method I think annual miles driven would be my choice.

ಮಂಗಳವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 13, 2012

Volvo introduced airbag system in its Latest V40 Car

volvo-v40-airbag-systemVolvo has introduced its latest 2013 V40 model cars. It has the special external airbag on the front side to protect pedestrians in case of any accident happen. This car was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, it has special sensors to detect the accident. If there is any accident happens, the sensor activates the airbag. The back end of the bonnet is released and raised by the airbag as it inflates to cover the entire area under the raised bonnet as well as around a third of the windscreen.

The cushioned bonnet and airbag helps to reduce the harshness of pedestrian injuries. Actually this airbag appears to be an iteration of an R&D project developed at Cranfield University in 2009.

The car also has a traffic lane keeping aid, which assists drivers to stay on course. According to Volvo's study, about 30 percent of all accidents are caused by turning off the road due to driver sleepiness or diversion. The front camera monitors the left and right lane markings and then the lane keeping assist applies extra navigation torque to the steering wheel when the car gets close to a lane marking and is about to leave the lane at speeds above 65 km/hour.

The car also has walker detection sensor to assess if a walker steps out into the road in front face of a car. If the driver doesn't respond in time, the car warns and it automatically activates the brake. The radar finds whether anything is in front of the car and the camera finds whether it is a person or not.This system is programmed to trace a pedestrian's movement and it calculates whether they are possible to step into the road in front of the car. If a pedestrian crosses the car's path, an alarm will on and a light will begin to flash. If the driver doesn't respond that, full braking control is applied automatically.

The car also has another one special tool called "cross traffic alert" to warn the driver, if any vehicles approaching from the side when reversing out of a parking space and it displays road signs such as the speed limit in-car display.

Malloy Hoverbike Model Flight

The guy working on a hoverbike (twin propeller ground effect aircraft) has built and tested a scale RC model. This is a big step, because having a stable control system is key to having a safe bike.

See http://youtu.be/EpMZBp20JoI.

Epic Win Video.

Darth Vader.
Playing the Star Wars theme on bagpipes.
Riding a unicycle.


ಭಾನುವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 11, 2012

Review: Mag-na-port Porting

There is a gun customization and smithing outfit in Harrison Twp, MI, called Mag-na-port Intl. Mag-na-port is famous for inventing an EDM process to cut trapezoidal ports into gun barrels.  The idea is that by venting the gasses upwards, you reduce muzzle jump and felt recoil.

I have always wanted to get some of my guns ported, so I finally took the plunge and dropped off my Beretta M9 9mm, and my Remington 870 12ga shotgun at Mag-na-port.

A week later, they were finished.  The cost was about $250 for both guns, and Mag-na-port gave me a 15% coupon to use for my next service.

The ports were cut cleaning through both barrels, leaving crisp edges and no burrs or other leftovers that I could see.

Shooting the 870

Not the v-shaped gas streams venting upwards from the ports.

Today I took the guns to an indoor shooting range that I like (Target Sports on Woodward) to test drive the ports.

The Beretta M9 was never a very hard recoiling gun to begin with, but I do think the porting helped reduce muzzle rise.  It was quite pleasant to shoot.  I did notice the bright orange gas streams venting upwards to either side of the barrel, but they were gone so quickly that they were not obtrusive.  I need to go back and shoot some +P ammo, as I only had Winchester white box for this trip.

The 870 was still a 12 ga shoulder bruiser, but I also felt that the muzzle rise was reduced.   Additional flash from the vents was not very apparent to me.

For both guns, I could not tell that they were any louder.

Shooting the 870:


Shooting the M9:

* I did not receive any compensation from Mag-na-port for this review, I am just a customer.

ಶುಕ್ರವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 9, 2012

EREV Advantages

The beauty, from an engineering point of view, of the EREV (range extended electric vehicle) architecture, is that in theory the range extender technology could be adjusted to be the most efficient or cost effective, without changing the essential function of the vehicle.  For example, if a new engine maker such as Cyclone Power or EcoMotors, or perhaps some future Sterling engine developer package an emissions compliant powerplant which could generate enough electricity to sustain an EREV, we could see vehicles which burn different fuels than gasoline competing against the old gasoline ICE.

The problem with EREVs, of course, is that they are very complex, requiring both electric and combustion systems, with their separate controls and sensor networks.   As Fisker and GM are finding out, this is not easy to pull off cleanly.

"White Box" Range Extender Engines

Consumer Reports blog has an interesting interview with Henrik Fisker, the daddy of the troubled Fisker Karma (he must feel somewhat like Paris Hilton's dad).

In one of his answers, Fisker states that he sees a market for range extender engines which are non-brand, because they are no longer the core of the automobile.

When do you predict electric cars and plug-in hybrids will become more affordable?

Over the coming years, I could see several opportunities where gasoline engines are produced by certain carmakers in very high volume and provided to various carmakers who make electric cars with range extenders, because the gasoline engine only functions as a range extender, so you can take cost out of that gasoline engine in the future. And you can also produce in very high volumes for various carmakers since [wouldn't any longer be] the heart of the automobile.

This is a very interesting prediction, and I think it could be good for companies such as GM, who have expertise in producing small engines that meet stringent emissions requirements and have good reliability.  OEMs could soak up their extra manufacturing capacity by making "white box" engines to sell as range extenders, which they would probably have to sell complete with engine controller and software calibration.   They would, however, be enabling the competition. 

On the other hand, what established automakers are already good at is making small engines.  What is elusive is cost effective development of the electric side of things, such as regenerative braking, battery management, etc.  So perhaps a better idea for the likes of Fisker and Tesla, if they are to survive, is to sell their electric propulsion expertise to laggards in the hybrid-electric space, such as Chrysler and BMW. 

Review: Detroit Tire & Wheel Co. (Old Redford)

The other day, I noticed a nasty bulge in the sidewall of the right rear tire on my car. Bulges are something you want to be careful with, because it means that the layers of rubber that form the critical sidewall of your tire are delaminating, or weakened in some other way. There is a risk that the bulge will rupture and you will find yourself with a shredded tire at highway speed.

The new tire dealers want about $200 for my tires. My other 3 tires are in good shape but are worn to about 50%, it seems silly to put a new tire with 3 older ones. So I started looking for a used tire.

Some people balk at used tires, but in my opinion, they are like any other car part. If you buy one used, and inspect it carefully, you are going to save money and most likely have a perfectly useable tire.

I did some calling around, but couldn't find anyone with my exact tire in stock. I wanted to match the exact make of tire, so that my tread pattern, grip, noise, and other characteristics would match. On a lark, I stopped in at Detroit Tire & Wheel Co., a wheel and tire shop in Old Redford, on the corner of Grand River and Lahser (22116 Grand River313 794 0888)

They guys working here found an exact match to my tire, with about 50% tread life remaining in their collection, mounted and balanced it, and had me out in about 15 minutes. The cost was a reasonable $50 --  $35 for the tire and $15 for mounting and balancing.

If you need a used tire, these guys are a good choice.

*I was not compensated in any way for this review, I'm just a happy customer.

ಗುರುವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 8, 2012

Sbarro unveils Intencity car at Geneva

All automakers normally unveiling their innovations in Geneva auto show every year. This year sbarro introduced Intensity concept car and surprises all the customers and other manufactures in geneva by its stylish looking and features. This car is designed by Franco and his students at the Espera Sbarro school inMontbeliard, France. This car is an electrical vehicle that the power takes from a 100-kilowatt electric motor fueled by a 96-cell lithium-phosphate battery. By innovating this car,Espera Sbarro made the history.

An electric city car seems a little curious but as it turns out, the project was made in alliance with the Department of Energy and Environment UTBM in an effort to show what a future electric urban runner could look like.

Fisker: Half-Baked

Ford was roundly (and rightfully) scolded by the automotive press and by consumers for shipping a buggy, slow MyFord Touch infotainment system.

But, if Sync crashes and reboots on you, the car is driveable.

There are growing reports on internet forums that Fisker's Karma suffers from software bugs that make the car unsafe.  For example, this report on FiskerBuzz.com:

complete blackout while driving
situation driving at 7pm pst this evening and for the second time in two weeks at 70 miles per hour the "idiot lights" behind the steering wheel all light up the car goes dark including the headlights and then the dash disappears and after a few seconds it rebuilds itself. This is very dangerous and random. Has anyone else experienced this and if so what have you done about it. This condition is a safety issue and an accident/lawsuit waiting to happen.     
And, of course, the now famous Consumer Reports' own Karma bricking.

Why would Fisker ship a vehicle that was suffering from severe software issues?  My guess is the need the money badly, and expect the owners to understand that beautiful cutting edge cars need some growing time.

The problem for Fisker is that there are lot of ways to spend $100,000, and get world class transportation.  For example, one could buy one of the industry's most reliable hybrid vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius or Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, and have money left over for a killer sports car.

DOE to Carbon Motors: Denied

The Department of Energy has denied Carbon Motors' application for an ATVM loan, which they were going to use to bring to market a purpose built police car running a BMW sourced diesel power train. 

Good decision.

Carbon Motors' business plan was always bizarre to me.  They admitted, up front, that each vehicle would cost around $60,000, and would have negligible resale value because they were intended for government use only.  The idea was that police departments would save money on fuel by running a diesel engine, an therefore recoup the cost of the car, while gaining lots of great law enforcement features.

But developing a whole new platform is expensive, and requires a ton of physical testing, after many thousands of hours of CAE simulations.  When an automaker develops a new platform, development costs can run into the half-billion dollar range, and more, from design to manufacturing. 

And while the program would have generated many U.S. jobs, I think it was probably difficult for the Obama administration to approve a project that sources high-value components from BMW in Germany.

Carbon Motors should have started with a more modest goal, perhaps: retrofitting a proven platform, like the Dodge Charger, with a high efficiency diesel powertrain and whatever custom police tech they wanted to sell.  They would have avoided most of the engineering, while reaping most of the benefits. 

Does the U.S. police market need another interceptor, when Chrysler, Ford, and GM all have proven offerings in this space?  Why would police fleets pick up an unknown and unproven design, with a foreign sourced powertrain requiring BMW tools to repair?

Carbon Motors now has to raise money the old way: convincing private investors that they have a viable product.  I wish them luck, they will need it.

Story here.

ಸೋಮವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 5, 2012

Terrafugia introduces latest Flying car

An American company Terrafugia introduces the transition flying car at the New York International Auto Show (NYIAS). This transition is unique vehicle. The company told that it is the time to introduce this car to the public after the years of testing and engineering breakthroughs.At the time of the press preview portion of NYIAS, Terrafugia will present its newest invention Transition production prototype, and details of the company’s upcoming plans.

Terrafugia was originated by 5 pilots. They were the graduates of the well-known Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in the US. Terrafugia, the name came from Latin word, which means “escape from land”. In 2009, they successfully did the first flight car with two-seats. When flying the car, it automatically unfolds the wings and take it up. In driving mode, it is 2 m high, 2.3 m wide and 6m long. It flies at the speed of 172 km/h with fuel 18.9 liter/hour. It uses only normal unleaded petrol rather than aviation fuel. It’s empty weight is 440 kg.

ಶುಕ್ರವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 2, 2012

Electric Cars Aren't Selling

Another "Emperor is naked" moment.  The combined sales of Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt, the only currently available plug-in electric vehicles, for the month of February were a whopping 1500.  Meanwhile, the F-series trucks sold 47,000 (31:1 ratio).  Chevrolet Cruze sold about 20,000 (13:1 ratio) .  

And Ford is about to jump in with the Focus Electric, and Mitsubishi also with the i, offering greater choice to the apparently disinterested consumer.  I hope they aren't expecting much volume!

2013 Fusion Hybrid: 47MPG

I am impressed.  In a press release touting their fuel efficient offerings, Ford claims (no EPA sticker yet) that the 2013 Fusion Hybrid will get 47mpg.  They don't say if that is the combined, city, or highway number, but given that it is a hybrid, best case is probably the city number.

If this holds up, Fusion Hybrid beats all other hybrid sedans in production, and even beats the Prius V (44 city). 

We'll have to wait for the MSRP to be announced to decide if the Fusion Hybrid is a good deal, or not.  My personal opinion is that a hybrid needs a 5 year payoff to be attractive. 

ಗುರುವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 1, 2012

ಬುಧವಾರ, ಫೆಬ್ರವರಿ 29, 2012

False Messiah

Comment spammers keep posting links to videos on Youtube about Ahn Sahng-hong.  He was the leader of a Korean church splintered from the 7th Day Adventists, and his followers are apparently convinced he was the Messiah.  Bizarre.

ಸೋಮವಾರ, ಫೆಬ್ರವರಿ 27, 2012

Chicago Movers for Stress Free Relocation

Moving your home can be a great stress and a resource of physical exhaustion due to many traumatic projects provided in the whole procedure. One may face a lot of problems involved in the procedure of shifting and transfer from one place to another. To avoid all this problem and tension, you should search for help of some experts that can help you out in going your family products from your resource of getaway to the new getaway. If you ever find yourself confused in this clutter, it means you need help of a trusted and respected going organizations that can take the entire problem of your transfer process.

Chicago movers stress free relocation

A good moving organization would offer you everything in its solutions such as supplying, running, unloading and unpacking to ordering of your useful family or workplace items. These organizations have a team of devoted personnel that is professional in its job and can guarantee you with protected and safe carry of your items. For a wide range of transfer solutions such as supplying, transport, going, running, unloading, unpacking and ordering of your useful items, you'll require searching thoroughly for the best organization in your area.

In obtain to enhance their transfer solutions, many companies also offer insurance solutions, package services, courier services, international shifting, sea cargo services, air freight services, transportation services, warehousing and storage services. For a well-known supplying and movers, you should look for the quality, quick, cost-effective, economic and trusted relocation services. The services can be used for local, nationwide as well as worldwide transfer or shifting. With consistent upgrades in their services, Chicago movers in Illinois are getting popular in each and every part of various places.

ಶುಕ್ರವಾರ, ಫೆಬ್ರವರಿ 24, 2012

Ram: Selling With Euro Sex?

Sex sells.  Put an attractive and barely clad model in a car commercial and men's heads will swivel towards the candy.

The new Ram being advertised looks like a luxuried-up version, similar to the Ford F150 Platinum, with a nice interior and tasteful bling.  Fine.

What confuses me about the new Ram ad on Youtube, "The Dark Side of Ram", is that it has a sort of Euro supermodel / James Bond feel to it.

But isn't Ram a domestic, "all American" sort of blue collar brand?  I don't get the marketing here.

I wonder what DeLorenzo has to say?

ಬುಧವಾರ, ಫೆಬ್ರವರಿ 22, 2012

Volvo releases new S60 TTA racing car

In racing car series VOLVO is not the new name, it dominates the European racing cars. Now Volvo and Polestar combines to dominate the Swedish racing car championship. Volvo has other plans to change over to the TTA Racing Elite League. Rather than this Volvo and Polestar fielded in STCC and WTCC , the TTA exposed based on S60 sedan. It has 420 horse power and V6 driving and rear wheels through a 6 speed sequential gear box and it is boosted KERS regenerative braking system.
But the New S60 TTA is shaded by baby blue and has 450 horse power all wheel drive C30 prototype.

Motorsport show should be cool, exciting and fair. Volvo will fight with our competitors for selling best models. They are actually going forward to TTA -Racing Elite League 2012.

Feature of New Volvo S60 TTA

Length : 470 mm
Height : 1205 mm
Width : 1970 mm
Wheelbase : 2750 mm
Suspension : Double wishbone, three-way dampers
Track width : 1660 mm front/1630 mm rear
Body : Carbon fibre
Engine : V6 with hybrid system
Power : 420 BHP
Gearbox : 6-speed sequential paddles on steering wheel
Hybrid system : Kinetic Energy Recovery System
Brakes: Front : 4-piston calipers, 370 mm ventilated discs
Rear wing : 1600 mm width/300 mm depth
Rear : 4-piston calipers, 360 mm ventilated discs
Rims : 18″ with centre wheel nut
Front : 260/660-18
Back : 280/660-18

Newt's A Tool

From the Detroit News:

"You can't put a gun rack in a Volt," Gingrich said in a line that drew cheers at a speech in Georgia this weekend, and is now appearing in his stump speech. "We believe in the right to bear arms and we like to bear the arms in our trucks."

Seriously, Newt, stop the pandering.  You're a wealthy former history professor and politician, not the kind of guy who drives a truck with a gun rack.  When was the last time you went game hunting?

No one puts a gun rack in a sedan.  And if you want to safely carry a pistol, there's plenty of room in a Volt or any other car for one of these locking pistol vaults

Stop promising moon bases.  You're done.  Go back home and spend some time with wife #3.

Gun Rack In A Volt

Open letter to Newt: "You can put a gun rack in a Chevrolet Volt!".  LOL.


ಭಾನುವಾರ, ಫೆಬ್ರವರಿ 19, 2012

Volvo launches low priced cars

Volvo-new-low-priced-carsThe Chinese owned Swedish car manufacturer Volvo Auto India plans to change its pricing strategy by introducing cheaper 3 models of its four models. They also plan to introduce a small car that will compete with the likes of BMW and Audi India’s Q3.

They had launched new version of S60, S80 sedans and XC60 sports utility vehicle, it all driven by a 2-litre diesel engine. It costs below Rs. 6 lakh cheaper than the 2.4 liter diesel engine. They said that the price was decreased due to raising the sales to 20,000 vehicles a year by 2020.

Tomas Ernberg managing director of Volvo Auto India told that he was faced a lot of question regarding the pricing compared with other luxury brands. They told that the decreasing price will also help to find more dealerships.

ಶುಕ್ರವಾರ, ಫೆಬ್ರವರಿ 17, 2012

ಗುರುವಾರ, ಫೆಬ್ರವರಿ 16, 2012

Tesla and Daimler combined to make electric car

Tesla and Daimler have combined to build a new electric car Mercedes-Benz. As by the fourth-quarter earnings report of Tesla, they will supply a full power train includes a motor, inverter, transmission and necessary software for an unnamed electric Mercedes-Benz. Tesla will start this work on second quarter of this year. The report not tells about the production time.

Tesla and Daimler is the best combination, because they are not strangers in car markets. Tesla is a Silicon Valley based company that manufactures and sells electric cars. Tesla is the first company that produces the first fully electric sports car.

Tesla also selling an electric powertrain component that includes lithium-ion battery to other manufactures like Daimler and Toyota.Daimler is manufacturing small electric vehicle. Mercedes-Benz already got the impression at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor show by releasing their B-Class E-Cell Plus. It’s lithium-ion battery was made by the joint venture of Daimler and Evonik. It was considered as curious car.

ಬುಧವಾರ, ಫೆಬ್ರವರಿ 15, 2012

JD Power 3YIS Survey Observations

The latest J.D. Power 3-year dependability survey is out.  I have colored the excellent Detroit News chart to show which brands improved and which ones got worse.  A few observations.

The industry average got significantly better, by 19 problems/100 vehicles.  

Luxury brands Lincoln, Acura, infinity, and Jaguar bucked the trend and fell in their ranking.  Jaguar's 3yis number went up by a whopping 60 problems/100 vehicles.  I'm guessing it is due to software/electronic problems.

Toyota made a good improvement, and it's young Scion brand made huge gains, 55 defects.

Hyundai improved (not suprising) but Kia fell (odd, since they are closely related).

GM, and particularly Cadillac, made big improvements.  Oddly, GMC is much worse than average.

Chrysler is now dead last, with its brands taking the bottom four slots.  Chrysler must to get their game up on quality (and I am sure that they know it) or they will not be able to compete.  

The Smugness of Tesla

I am watching the Telsa Model X presentation video (here).

At one point, when Elon Musk argues that electric vehicles produce less CO2 than gasoline vehicles, even when power is generated from fossil fuels, he puts up a map of west Virginia (heavly coal user), which he calls "worst case situation', with comic pauses.  The audience laughs.  Then comes a map of Vermont, which generates its power from hydroelectric, nuclear, and other cleaner alternatives.  Applause. 

If I was Elon Musk, I would be a little more humble.  The people of West Virginia help to subsidize a $500 million loan to Tesla, to build a plant in Calfornia.  

ಮಂಗಳವಾರ, ಫೆಬ್ರವರಿ 14, 2012

NHTSA's Coming Backup Camera Mandate?

According to Automotive News, the NHTSA is going to announce a backup camera mandate to try to reduce injuries from drivers backing over pedestrians.  

I am not in favor of this mandate, because it will hurt vehicle affordability by increasing prices.  Expect the systems to add around $200/vehicle in cost.  

I think it would be better to allow automakers to install an ultrasonic system, which would give an audible and text warning, as a way to offer the benefit in a low cost package.

There would be a side benefit.  All new cars would come with LCD screens, which should allow for higher end infotainment displays on low end models.

ಸೋಮವಾರ, ಫೆಬ್ರವರಿ 13, 2012

Chicago Movers and their Commercial Moving Services

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Doing professional movers by self is a busy and complicated process. Only with specialist advice and services, you can break a hard nut easily. A good Chicago mover gives you hassle-free moving services through their dedicated and trusted commercial moving services. Chicago movers will understand your business related specific needs with their moving a business service; Chicago Illinois-based movers do their best to reduce the trouble to your daily activity. These movers follow a demanding timeline that brings you back in the business as soon as possible. And Chicago mover establishes a time table and creates a floor-plan for the new ability so that you can get a smooth and easy professional moving service. These movers take the organization of both the structures in their hands to fulfill you with a professional move of your choice.

Chicago Movers
In the subsequent type of commercial moving services, workers and their loved ones are shifted to new destinations. In order to keep workers satisfied, Chicago movers provide them with essential information and tips on packing so that they can get ready for the switch effectively. When you engage a good Chicago-based moving company to get profitable moving solutions, you not only get a competitive offer for the move but also find a appropriate plan that help you resolve to new locations with convenience.

Chicago movers appreciate your specific needs and offer relevant commercial moving solutions accordingly. You will find various commercial moving service providers or movers that suggest you commercial services to shift an employee of a business.

ಭಾನುವಾರ, ಫೆಬ್ರವರಿ 12, 2012

Sony Dash: Full of FAIL

I was really excited to get my hands on a new Sony Dash for $70 from Walmart.com.  I knew that the Dash, based on the Chumby, was not a super-fast device, sporting a middling resolution screen, a resistivle touch panel, and a wimpy 800MHz Marvel processor.  My expectations were for a serviceable clock radio with the added bonus of Facebook and news updates.

But the Dash, well, dashed all hopes of even that.

The Dash, even after a firmware update, was unable to connect to Gmail using the Gmail checker app.  It was unable, despite numerous attempts at registration through the Facebook device screen, to connect to my Facebook account.

OK, I thought, so I can't have email or Facebook, at least I can have news and weather, and internet radio.

But there are many other annoyances.  Any interaction with the thing takes forever.  It doesn't have a light sensor, so to make it to go night mode you have to either program a timer action, or manually hit the night mode button.

Then the dealbreaker.  Sony didn't think to have the device save its settings in non-volatile memory.  As a result, if you have a power glitch or brownout, the Dash wakes up and then sits there stupidly asking you to choose your wireless network, rather than automatically reconnect.

Which means that on some days, you may wake up late in the morning, wondering why your alarm never went off, to find your high-tech clock radio sitting there with a boot screen.

So it isn't really useful as a social networking device, it isn't really reliable as a clock radio.

Back to Walmart it goes.

Now, the Archos 35 Home looks promising...

ಶುಕ್ರವಾರ, ಫೆಬ್ರವರಿ 10, 2012

Tesla Model X Falcon Doors

Telsa has unveiled their Model X crossover vehicle, which looks something like an enlarged Honda Crosstour or BMW X6. It is a beautiful design, overall, with elegant proportions. The most striking feature of the design are the "falcon wing" doors, which are like gullwing doors with a hinge, so they move more upward than outward as they swing open.

There are good reasons why mainstream auto makers stick with traditional swinging or sliding doors for their designs.

Upward opening doors are:
  • Harder to seal reliably (more gasket area, different closing forces)
  • Harder for passengers to open and close manually 
  • Slow to open and close if they are electric, or in an emergency
  • If the vehicle rolls over, the doors are difficult to open
  • More work in terms of crash engineering

And, this design would preven a customer from mounting a roof rack for skis or bicycles.

Tesla could have simply designed a nice set of sliding doors, but it is clear they want to be different. I think the electric powertrain and Silicon Valley pedigree of the vehicle makes it different enough.

They also have a significant risk in terms of market demand for this type of vehicle--neither the BMW X6 nor the Honda Crosstour are selling very well.

ಗುರುವಾರ, ಫೆಬ್ರವರಿ 9, 2012

Mahindra has planned to launch Xylo Mini before Diwali

Mahindra-mini-xyloRecently Mahindra has launched its 2012 facelift version of the Xylo MUV car for a starting price of Rs 7.37 lakh. After launching their new version, they released their company’s future plans. They told that, Mahindra has been working for next version called Mini Xylo. It has undergone testing several times and is in final stage. We have targeted to launch this Mini Xylo before Diwali.

This Mini Xylo will be priced below the existing Xylo Version and it will take on premium hatchbacks with the advantage of better ground clearance and more space. It has the feature of five-seat SUV/MUV as Renault Duster, Ford EcoSport.

The Indian Manufacturer has planned to export the new Xylo facelift version to RHD (right hand drive) markets like South Africa and Latin America. They also aspire to spread their cars to LHD (Left hand drive) markets also like Europe.