Chris Harris, founder of Carmooch and overly passionate about everything automotive mixed a little bit of work with pleasure on his recent holiday to Australia by getting behind the wheel of the new HSV Maloo GTS. It’s all a bit ‘Pommie down under, vegemite, VB, sort of thing, but he’s not that bad behind the wheel.
The Hyperloop a system of transport that would launch people to their destinations in pods travelling in above-ground tubes at up to 1220km/h. It’s the idea of billionaire investor and engineer Elon Musk, who is also famous for his involvement in the development of the highly successful Tesla electric car. But despite his enormous wealth, Elon is not prepared to fork out the huge amount of money needed to build the Hyperloop infrastructure.
A California startup is, instead, taking on the project using JumpStartFund for both crowd funding and crowd sourcing to develop through a subsidiary named Hyperloop Transportation Technologies that has so far been successful in getting about 100 engineers, including 25 students from UCLA, to work on the project in their spare time.
While most transportation projects are built to fill a specific need, this team seems more interested in just getting the Hyperloop up and running wherever they can. Elon’s original plan called for a route between Los Angeles and San Francisco that would take it through heavily-populated areas, but the new company is considering LA to Las Vegas, or other routes where securing land wouldn’t be as difficult.
For the pods, engineers are proposing what they call a ‘bubble strategy’, with the passenger-carrying pod nested inside a hard outer shell. They also have plans for economy class and freight-carrying pods.
Refining the concept is one thing. Actually testing and building it is another. Developers expect to start building the first of a series of prototypes sometime next year and believe the final product could be delivered within the decade. That will require some serious cash. Elon’s original estimate of $6-10 billion for a 400-mile Hyperloop is considered by some transport engineers to be light on. No wonder the guy decided to step away and concentrate on further development of the super fast, super cool, Tesla.
Now that you’ve come this far, you may want to know what all the fuss is about the Hyperloop and how does it all work? The following explanation is courtesy of Wikipedia.
Developments in high-speed rail and in high-speed transport more generally, have historically been impeded by the difficulties in managing friction and air resistance, both of which become substantial when vehicles approach high speeds. The vactrain concept theoretically eliminates these obstacles by employing magnetically levitating trains in evacuated (airless) or partly evacuated tubes or tunnels, allowing for theoretical speeds of thousands of miles per hour.
The high cost, however, of maglev and the difficulty of maintaining a vacuum over large distances has prevented this type of system from ever being built. The Hyperloop resembles a vactrain system but operates at approximately one millibar of pressure.
The concept is proposed to operate by sending specially designed ‘capsules’ or ‘pods’ through a continuous steel tube maintained at a partial vacuum. Each capsule floats on a 0.5-to-1.3-millimetre layer of air provided under pressure to air-bearing ‘skis’. This is similar to how pucks are suspended in an air hockey table, thus avoiding the use of maglev while still allowing for speeds that wheels cannot sustain.
Linear induction motors located along the tube would accelerate and decelerate the capsule to the appropriate speed for each section of the tube route. With rolling resistance eliminated and air resistance greatly reduced, the capsules, in theory, should be able to glide for the bulk of the journey.
In the Hyperloop concept, an electrically driven inlet fan and air compressor would be placed at the nose of the capsule in order to ‘actively transfer high pressure air from the front to the rear of the vessel,’ resolving the problem of high speed transport in a tube that is not a hard vacuum, wherein pressure builds up in front of the vehicle, slowing it down. A fraction of the air is shunted to the skis for additional air pressure, augmenting that gained passively from lift due to their shape.
The capsules, which are proposed to be 2.23 metres in diameter for the passenger-only version, are projected to reach a top speed of 1,220km/h so as to maintain aerodynamic efficiency. The design proposes that passengers will experience a maximum inertial acceleration of 0.5g, considerably less than a commercial airliner on takeoff and landing.
At those speeds there would not be a sonic boom. With low-pressure warm air inside the tubes, Musk hypothesises that the pods could travel at high speeds without crossing the sound barrier. The initial design envisions using turntables to turn capsules at each end of the tube.
The environmental impact of plug-in electric vehicles continues to be the subject of significant discussion and debate among those less familiar with the technology and its impacts. Virtually all studies conclude that they use less energy on a well-to-wheels basis than internal-combustion vehicles, especially when recharged from low-carbon or renewable sources.
However, the environmental impact of manufacturing an electric vehicle appears to be higher, although exactly how much higher has been hotly debated since modern electric cars went on sale.
Daimler has provided a lifecycle analysis of its Mercedes-Benz B-Class electric drive that shows it’s genuinely greener than a petrol-driven vehicle, including the impact of its manufacturing.
The analysis, conducted by the Germany-based regulatory body TUV, shows that the electric B-Class cuts lifetime carbon emissions by 24% over a B 180 gasoline model when charged from a mix of power sources. If it’s charged exclusively with power from hydroelectric sources, its lifetime carbon is 64% lower than that of the four-cylinder petrol model. The analysis assumes the car is driven 160,000 kilometres over its lifetime, and recycled at the end of its use.
Since the B-Class is based on an existing internal combustion model, it theoretically offers a more direct comparison than do other electric vehicles built on dedicated platforms. Mercedes does note that emissions related to the manufacturing of the electric model are higher than other B-Class models, but that’s more than offset by a lifetime of much lower-carbon driving.
Electric cars get greener as grids do and using electricity from renewable sources minimises their overall carbon footprint. Conversely, that footprint increases when cars are charged from the dirtiest, coal-fired grids, making geography an important factor in minimising the greenhouse-gas effects of driving.
So the bottom line is that electric vehicle are simply greener to drive if recharged from any source except coal-fired power plants.
Nine women are one step closer to a career as automotive mechanics after completing the Women in Auto Trades program at Sydney Tafe. The pilot program enabled women who were keen on a career in the automotive industry to attend a five-week, full-time mechanics induction at the Ultimo Tafe campus in Sydney.
The nine women will now look for apprenticeships and when employed will join just 614 female mechanics in Australia, a number dwarfed by the 69,456 male technicians. Australia-wide, only four per cent of mechanics are women and in NSW the number is even smaller, with females making up just 1.2 per cent of the workforce.
One of the first to sign up for the Women in Auto Trades program was 40-year-old Amanda Stevens, who, after years of driving buses was looking for a career change.
“I was studying criminology at university and actually dropped out to come and study auto trades here at TAFE. It will enable me to go from being a bus driver to fixing them. I’m really attached to the buses and this course is the perfect transition for me,” she said.
This practical, hands on, course gave Amanda everything she needed to pursue her dream of becoming a diesel mechanic. It was also an opportunity to prove that being a mechanic isn’t the exclusive domain of men.
Students who successfully complete the training will be offered an opportunity to apply for trade apprenticeship positions in the industry with participating automotive industry partners, including FCA Australia.
“The automotive industry employs over 360,000 people nationally and contributes $38 billion to the economy but currently Australia-wide there are 22,000 unfilled positions across the industry so there are plenty of great opportunities for these young women”, said head teacher Glenn Martyn.
“In the automotive space 65% of all new cars are purchased by women and they influence 80% of the purchasing decision for all vehicles purchased and more women than men take cars for servicing.”
FCA’s Pat Dougherty applauded the initiative, saying that the organisation couldn’t be prouder to be involved in this important initiative.
“My predecessor, Veronica Johns, was the first female CEO of an automotive company in Australia, so encouraging more women to join the industry is a cause we feel incredibly strongly about.”
The initiative, headed by Auto Skills Australia, is a continuation of the ongoing work of Women in Auto Trades, which initially received seed funding from the NSW government’s Investing in Women Funding Program.
Bosch engineers in Melbourne have developed new technology that the company claims will help prevent driveway accidents that each year causes about 50 children to be killed or seriously injured on local driveways.
There are many factors that contribute to what are known as backover deaths, such as lack of driver visibility through the rear mirror of small children, their lack of road/vehicle safety awareness and unpredictable juvenile behaviour.
Bosch’s Back Over Avoidance system utilises the vehicle‘s conventional braking system, together with radar and ultrasonic sensors, all of which contribute to an automatic application of the brakes if an object is detected when the vehicle is reversing.
The system is able to distinguish between ‘ground objects’ and small children and can determine whether, or at what point, the brakes are applied thereby minimising false alarms. According to the company’s Gavin Smith the technology is a huge step forward in preventing driveway fatalities and injuries.
“The Back Over Avoidance system has been a major project over the last eighteen months for the Bosch Australia Automotive safety team and we are extremely proud of this innovation.
“Whilst the technology cannot be applied to existing vehicles, Bosch is currently in discussions with Australian and overseas vehicle manufacturers for inclusion in their future models and could be available in new vehicles in Australia within the next two years.”
The Tesla Model S P85D is tearing up the sports car rulebook with its phenomenal all-electric performance, which the driver of this Ferrari 575 got to experience first hand after an impromptu drag race, reports carmooch.
The Ferrari 575 is hardly the quickest prancing horse in modern terms, but the way a zero-emissions, all-electric car completely wipes the floor with one of Italy’s former finest, in complete silence, is a sight to behold.
The Tesla itself belongs to app-millionaire Allen Wong who picked it up as a more practical alternative to his Azure Blue Lamborghini Aventador that was his daily driver. In his own words, Allen says the acceleration of the Tesla is like your “internal organs are glued to the back of your body”.
You arrive at the entrance to a multi-story car park and then have to face the prospect of an ever-ascending, time consuming, merry go round to find a vacant spot. That is unless you have a hot little BMW equipped with remote valet parking, in which case you simply activate the system and leave the vehicle to its own devices, safe in the knowledge that it will navigate the building, find a space, park up and lock itself without running anyone over or hitting any pillars.
The system can be triggered by an app on a smartwatch, or potentially by another device. BMW say it’s also possible for the driver to ‘call’ their vehicle when they are on their way back to the car park. Once notified, the system will work out how long the individual will be, before starting the car, re-navigating the car park and meeting the driver back at a predefined point.
BMW explains that the remote valet parking system uses a ‘360-degree collision avoidance’ system employing four laser scanners that identify obstacles, such as other vehicles, pedestrians or car-park pillars. The system is coupled with a digital site plan of the car park that allows the vehicle to navigate without the need for GPS that wouldn’t be accurate enough anyway.
This system can also be used to help avoid collisions when a driver is in control of the car. In the event, for example, that a vehicle detected that it was moving towards a pillar too quickly, the brakes would be applied and the vehicle brought to a standstill.
According to BMW, the system is very precise and can stop vehicles within a couple of centimeters of obstacles. The company also says that it is particularly useful for tight, poorly lit environments like multi-story car parks.
Volvo has taken its place in the race to produce better fuel economy with the development of a new three-cylinder engine. The new Volvo block that will sit alongside the Swedish brand’s Drive-E four-cylinder units, joins the global trend for downsizing with big manufacturers like Ford, Mini and Audi chasing better fuel efficiency through small, three cylinder engines that challenge the idea that “there’s no replacement for displacement.”
The three-cylinder engine, designed to work in a raft of different Volvo vehicles, takes advantage of the company’s experience with turbo charging to deliver plenty of power from the small block. Peak power for the engine is currently claimed to be 180hp (134kW) a figure which is significantly higher than the 95hp (75kW) that Audi’s 1.0ltr, three-cylinder petrol engine produces in the updated A1.
“We have learned a lot from the development of our four-cylinder Drive-E engines and translated this into a highly responsive, compact and powerful premium-quality 3-cylinder engine,” says Volvo’s Michael Fleiss.
Michael reckons that the new engine will meet Euro 7 emission targets and offers a flexible production option as the brand continues to grow. The engine will be built on the same line that Volvo uses for its four-cylinder engines, which will help keep costs down.
Some lucky young lad, or lass, with more than a good hand at coloring-in, is about to receive a Christmas present ‘se rappeler’ that will come in the form of a life-size version of a Citroen Grand C4 Picasso ‘artcar’ for their Victorian primary school and one for their parents to drive around in for six months.
It’s all part of a nationwide colouring-in competition that will feature a scaled-up version of the winning design entered through shopping centre pop-up stores. Citroen say that more than 3000 members of the public have visited the stores and given their children the opportunity enter the competition. According to company’s Dimitri Andreatidis, the idea has been a huge success.
“We wanted to engage with parents and their children and our pop-up shopping centre activation was the ideal way to achieve this. We were extremely impressed by the level of engagement, but more importantly the quality of the entries.”
The winner and his or her family will be presented with the vehicle at the final school assembly of the year next week.
Subaru has launched its stylish sixth generation all-wheel drive Liberty that the company claims is a grand touring car, offering an ideal combination of comfort, safety and sporty high-quality road performance…and all for 25% less than the price of the model it supersedes……Didn’t realise our dollar had devalued by so much!
The new model has already got itself a five-star ANCAP rating for occupant safety with a score of 35.99 out of a possible 37. Most of the usual things that one expects on a modern vehicle are here including: @ driver assist system @ active grille shutter for increased fuel efficiency @ automatic stop-start a new infotainment system with speech recognition across wide range of key functions @ new generation EyeSight driver-assist with brake light recognition and pre-collision steering assist @ symmetrical all-wheel drive @ vehicle lifetime capped price-servicing program that includes labour, genuine parts, factory specified oils and fluids, environmental levy.
This fifth generation Outback SUV has the same sort of mod cons as the Liberty, but is only a mere 17% cheaper than the previous model. Remarkably, the Outback got exactly the same 35.99 out of 37 ANCAP rating that may say more about the new car assessment program than the vehicle, but what the hell….we all need to make a buck somehow!
For the first time in a Subaru, the six-cylinder, horizontally-opposed Boxer engine is mated to a new-generation Lineartronic continuously variable transmission producing greater response and better fuel efficiency.