Thinking about hitting the road for the Christmas holidays? Then how about this little number by designer Christian Susana that combines all the comfort of a caravan/campervan with the flexibility of a small car? What Christian has named the ‘Colim’ – Colors of Life in Motion – may well be a triumph of flexibility over form but its geometric curves are a welcome change from the regular designs and may one day may pave way for a whole range of better shaped vehicles. The livable area is flexible, with individually applicable multi function modules. Designed for two people, four at a squeeze, the unit comes in multi function modules that can be personalised according to the present life situation of the user…a flexibility that can also be extended to the vehicle cockpit.
If that all seems a bit way out, then you could always settle for the ‘cool’ of one of three Mini Getaway cars that according to the blurb, are compact, fun and luxury offering ‘maximum touring pleasure with minimal mobile footprint’. Our favourite is the Mini Cowley, two-person, teardrop trailer with twin-burner gas stove, water tank, sink and a solar module that provides a 230-volt connection to power a fridge and audio equipment. The trailer has sliding windows on both sides, al la retro Mini, and weighs less than 300kg.
All of which is pretty cool…but for us the idea of ‘roughing’ it is a twenty-one foot long piece of the heaven in the shape of a 1956 Chrysler Diablo Dart and a suite at the Hilton.
RENAULT HAS BEEN TESTING a smart-charging system designed to reduce costs and lower the impact of car charging on the electrical grid. Eleven Renault employees in Germany who own ZOE battery-electric cars tested the in-home charging system developed by The Mobility House. Results show that the smart system both lowers grid impact and improves charging time by up to an hour. The Renault employees were given specially designed charging stations to test the new system under real-life conditions. The charging stations are designed to communicate with the car and calculate grid-based electrical costs at the station’s location, including detecting consumption peaks. The charging station then charges the car when costs are lowest (when demand is low) and pauses charging when consumption peaks are detected. During low consumption periods, fast charging is enabled to complete the charging as quickly as possible. The testing was successful, showing up to an hour of reduced charging time thanks to better grid availability during the calculated low usage periods. Renault and The Mobility House see this as a first stage in the “smart grid” evolution for electricity distribution and usage. Work has started on the next stage that Renault say will allow a vehicle to feed electricity back into the grid and to use solar panels to maximize returns in selling to the grid versus charging the EV. Source: Renault.
FRESH FROM TRYING TO POISON THE WORLD with diesel fumes, VW now looks like it might soon be sending its stores personnel at the Wolfsburg plant blind with the ‘trial’ of 3D smart glasses for order picking. According to the company, the objective is to further improve process security in production- whatever that means. Users automatically receive information such as storage locations or part numbers directly in their field of vision and touch or voice control is said to allow for ‘extremely easy operation’. According to the company’s, head of plant logistics Reinhard de Vries, users have both hands free while working and a camera in the glasses reads barcodes on parts removed from the storage location:“Digitalisation is becoming increasingly important in production. The 3D smart glasses take cooperation between humans and systems to a new level.”
The use of the 3D glasses is voluntary…you, you and you..with users gradually being introduced to the new technology. Thirty employees in various areas such as windshields and drive shafts are reported to be using with the smart glasses. Works Council member Mario Kurznack-Bodner reckons that: “The benefits of new technology like the smart glasses can only be assessed effectively if we can check them out in normal production operation. The colleagues concerned approach the technology without any preconceived notions. Apart from health, safety and occupational medicine criteria, it is important to the Works Council that feedback from employees should be taken up and reflected in everyday work.“
MAZDA’S NEW CX-9 THAT WILL GO ON SALE in the USA next year, will feature an ‘enhanced’ version of the company’s Skyactiv-G series engine. Based on the naturally aspirated Skyactiv-G 2.5 featured in the Mazda6, the enhanced version is the first turbocharged engine in the series. Maximum torque is 310ft-lb, comparable with a naturally aspirated four-litre petrol engine. Turbocharged engines have suffered from poor dynamic performance at low rpms, including turbo lag, and disappointing fuel economy.
The new G 2.5T is designed to overcomes these problems with a dynamic pressure turbo, said to be the world’s first turbocharging system that can vary the degree of exhaust pulsation depending on engine speed, and a cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system that allows the engine to maintain the ideal air-fuel ratio³ (λ=1) over a wider output range.
Major features are said to be: High compression ratio – a compression ratio 10.5:1, one of the highest for any turbocharged engine with an 89-mm bore size that can run on regular petrol; Dynamic pressure turbo – is the world’s first turbocharged engine with the ability to change the degree of exhaust pulsation depending on engine speed. At low rpms (below 1620rpm), the volume of the exhaust ports is reduced by closing a series of valves located just before the turbine that drives the turbocharger. This reduces interference between exhaust pulses and maximises the energy of each pulse to obtain a high turbine driving force. At higher rpms there is sufficient energy in the exhaust flow and the valves open, allowing the turbine to be driven by a steady flow of exhaust gases as in a traditional turbocharger.
Cooled Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) – This system takes some of the inert exhaust gas that results from the combustion process and reduces its temperature by passing it through a cooler before introducing it back into the engine’s air intake. This lowers the temperature of combustion in the engine, preventing knocking, expanding the range in which the engine can maintain the ideal air-fuel ratio and reducing the need to retard ignition timing. Inline 4-cylinder 2.5-litre direct-injection turbocharged petrol engine
Displacement: 2488cc; bore x stoke: 89.0mm x 100.0mm; compression ratio: 10.5:1; maximum output (net): 227hp (169kW) /5,000rpm; maximum torque (net): 310ft-lb (420Nm) /2,000rpm.
REGULAR READERS OF THIS BLOG will be aware of how we like to get stuck into the BMW Group especially when it comes to the company’s Australian pricing policy…ie: the most expensive in the world. But, believe it or not, it’s time to hand out a ‘gong’. For some time now, the group has been involved in a large number of long-term initiatives to promote intercultural exchange and integration into everyday working life. The Germany-wide Joblinge, for example, helps unemployed youth find their first job and from January this program will be expanded to providing young people from a migrant background with a ‘platform for exchange and learning important social skills’. Through visits to the company, it is hoped that young people will gain initial insights into everyday working life at BMW. The group employs 121,000 people worldwide with 86,000 employees from 108 countries working together on a daily basis at the company’s German locations. And it’s all down to intercultural understanding and social integration programs that are deemed as core company competences…Perhaps the Australian government could adopt such competences rather than adopting an immigration policy more akin to a darker past in German history.