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

Most companies have their particular offices in various locations which brings about employees acquire relocated frequently. Self safe-keeping business in which typically do it manually storage properties and warehouses observe the improving require and also started supplying moving safe-keeping services as different to storage goods only.
Moving and Storage Services

Moving Safe-keeping Firms suggest numerous varieties of Services

Storage Goods:

Moving safe-keeping firms suggest you store units to store the things concerning as less together week to so long as you desire. Chicago movers provide safe-keeping warehouses suggest many kinds of retailer units just like furniture retailer units, automobile store products, boat retailer units, etc. It is wise to keep hold of the services of a climate-controlled unit for this exact purpose especially in order to store those things for higher than a week. This will make sure that your items aren't getting damaged as a consequence of extreme climate. While selecting a retailer unit, determining the compulsory size with the unit is very significant. This will be certain that your things fit correctly inside the unit and you also pay limited to the gap that you might desire.

Moving and also Storage Package arrangement:

If you might be going, you could seek the services of any going and safe-keeping package of yourself safe-keeping company. More plus more people are regularly hiring relocating packages to stay away from the hassles connected with relocating. While picking a self safe-keeping warehouse about moving, you must be very watchful. You must not hand on the responsibility regarding shifting the household things to any industry. The business you hire wants to have a tremendous reputation. It must have suitable facilities for your secure travel and storing of one thing. Its do it yourself storage building wants to have good security systems to stop thefts and also burglaries. It's also advisable to examine the machine where the objects might be kept in the course of transit. The machine must be located in a well-lit position. The do it yourself storage warehouse wants to have gated ease of use and security cameras regarding security items. You should read the corresponding reviews in regards to the business just before finally selecting it.

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
Chicago movers offer both moving and storage facilities. These services are perfect for those who need to use a storing facility before moving in their new house. These services also offer packaging equipments and additional help to make moving as stress free as possible. Several people use moving and storage services while their house is still not ready for move in but they have to move out of their current home right away. Under such situation, people store their things in a storage facility and move in their new residence with minimum things. Once they have their new place ready, they transport their property to the new house.

Packaging Materials

Chicago movers professional packing

Chicago movers provide not only moving and storing facilities, but also they offer all types of packaging materials. There is no need to go away from one store to another looking for packing material. Not everyone knows that, what packaging material is requiring for a particular item. In addition, not everyone knows how to pack. With the right packaging materials, we can ensure that everything is packed properly. If you are not known about how to pack the moving equipments, you can always request for make a call for professional help. Our company can send their staff over to help package their customer’s belongings.

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