Friday, January 3, 2014

Hybrid Car Displays Sun-Tracking Technology- Ford Solar

Ford's new concept for solar-powered hybrid car can run for 21 electric-only miles on a day's worth of sunlight. That possibility comes courtesy of sun-tracking software that works in combination with a concentrator lens to focus the sunlight falling on the car's rooftop solar panels.

The C-MAX Solar Energi Concept car—a modified C-MAX plug-in hybrid—won't achieve the dream of driving forever on sunshine just yet. But Ford's clever use of a concentrating lens does provide an inkling of new hope for solar power to someday become viable in hybrid or all-electric vehicles. Until now, solar power's energy density problem has limited its use in commercial vehicles to not much beyond a symbolic rooftop solar panel that runs a cooling fan for Toyota's Prius hybrid car.

Ford envisions its concept car parking beneath a tall carport with a roof made of a Fresnel lens—a lens originally developed for lighthouses that acts similar to a magnifying glass. The car company enlisted the help of Georgia Institute of Technology researchers to come up with the carport's sunlight-concentrating design.
The car's software would track the sun's path across the sky on any given day of the year and direct the car to move beneath the carport so that it continually receives the full impact of concentrated sunlight, according to Technology Review. That novel concept eliminates the need for an expensive tracking system that would change the angle of the carport's lens to keep sunlight focused on an immobile car's rooftop solar panels. (The concept car also has a traditional charging port so that it can plug into the power grid if needed.)
Such concentrated sunlight could reach 8 times the amount of sunshine that would typically fall on the C-MAX Solar Energi's rooftop. A day's worth of charging in the sun—about 8 kilowatts over four hours—would go into the lithium-ion battery that provides the 21 electric-only miles in the car's total range of 620 miles. Ford estimates suggest the
C-MAX Solar Energi Concept would have the same total range on a full charge as compared to the conventional C-MAX Energi.
The U.S. automaker has big plans for its concept car following a debut at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show, 7-10 January in Las Vegas. Ford will work with Georgia Tech to begin testing the vehicle in "real-world scenarios" and see whether its concept can prove practical in everyday life—a challenge that may yet pose some headaches. For instance, Toyota's engineers previously found that connecting rooftop solar panels to the battery of a Prius created an antenna-like effect that interfered with the car's radio.
Most car companies have settled for slightly less ambitious goals involving the use of solar power. Tesla Motors has opted for solar-powered charging stations that keep the solar panels off the roofs of its sleek vehicles.
Still, the benefits of a solar hybrid vehicle could prove worthwhile in the long run. Ford says its internal data already suggests sunlight could power up to 75 percent of the trips made by an average driver in a solar hybrid vehicle. And the C-MAX Solar Energi could also slash greenhouse gas emissions from typical U.S. car owners by as much as four metric tons per year—about what a U.S. household produces in four months.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cruze Diesel Driven 900 Miles At 57.7 Average MPG

General Motors has posted a video showing yet another potential advantage offered by the pending 2013 Chevrolet Cruze turbo diesel over the Volkswagen Jetta TDI.

At least that’s the hope, because the competitive advantages appear to possibly be mixed with disadvantages as well, such as a starting price higher by $730, and city mpg lower by 3 mpg.
But the Cruze diesel is well equipped at that price, promises more power, highway mileage of 46 vs 42 for the Jetta TDI, and on that note, GM engineer Tessa Baughman says she achieved an 800 and 900 mile run, each on a single tank. She did this, she says, while avoiding other hyper mileage techniques with the only concession to maximizing fuel economy being that she drove 5 mph below the posted limit.

With a fuel tank capacity of 15.6 gallons for the Cruze diesel, this equates to a highway figure of 51.28 and 57.69 mpg respectively.

As a point of comparison, the record set with a manual-transmission 2013 VW Passat TDI rated at 43 mpg highway was an astonishing 84.1 mpg over 1,626 mpg.
However this was set by expert hyper mileage instructors, John and Helen Taylor, and in this case, the boilerplate caveat “your mileage may vary” applies doubly.
The take home message with the Cruze Diesel is it too can substantially beat its highway numbers, so, is it thus possible it can beat its city mpg number and close the gap between it and the VW as well?
The Cruze diesel starts at $ $24,885 plus $810 destination charge. It is available only with automatic transmission. Volkwagen offers a manual for $23,055 plus $795 destination or automatic for $24,155 plus destination charges.
The EPA mileage per gallon estimates for the Cruze Diesel are 27 city, 46 highway, 33 combined. For the Jetta TDI, it’s 32 city, 42 highway, 33 combined.
This said, options can easily make either car overlap each other, and GM says for the starting price, its Cruze Diesel is a comparatively solid value as equipped.
Without a doubt, VW has established a fan base for its Jetta TDI, which leads the small but growing clean diesel car market. The Chevrolet, GM points out, has a track record too, however. It was launched in other markets in 2010, and 33,000 units have been sold so far.
The gas variants of the Cruze furthermore have proven to be a top seller for GM, even usurping once stalwarts such as the Honda Civic.
So, if the Cruze diesel, engineered with help from Germans to give all comers a run for their money is as good as promised, GM does stand to begin eroding VW’s market.
Working against them all is diesel remains more expensive than gasoline, making the premium each vehicle costs over gas equivalents a real exercise in number crunching.


In their favor also, diesels can operate at lower rpms, potentially can last longer for those who keep their cars till the wheels fall off, and their power characteristics are excellent also.
The Cruze is said to offer performance like a V6 with highway mileage only 2 mpg less than the Toyota Prius Liftback, and with potential to match the Prius Liftback’s mileage and be much faster when desired. Of course, The Prius’ 51 mpg city and 50 mpg combined figures solidly trounce the Cruze diesel’s 27 mpg and 33 mpg respectively, but the Toyota is an altogether different technology that lends itself to excellent city figures.
We could go on and on with point and counterpoint, but the addition of a new contender, whether it sells well, or only moderately, can only be seen as a step in the right direction.
Rome was not built in a day, and neither will a changeover be to more fuel-efficient transportation.

Honda’s Civic Tops All Safety Ratings

The new 2013 Honda Civic Sedan has received the highest possible overall safety ratings from both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

This is good news for a car that is known to be one of the most popular small car among individual buyers
The 2013 Civic Sedan recently received the top 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score in the NHTSA’s New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), and the highest possible rating of Top Safety Pick+ from the IIHS, including a top score of Good in the new small overlap frontal collision test.
Honda said it leads all automakers with every one of its tested model year 2013 vehicles earning a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS.

The 2013 Honda Civic Sedan and Coupe are the first and only small cars to earn the IIHS’ highest safety rating of Top Safety Pick, and the NCAP 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score for the Civic Sedan further separates Civic from the competition in safety ratings performance.

The 2013 Accord also earned these high safety ratings in the midsize segment.
“Car shoppers cannot find a small car with higher overall safety ratings than the 2013 Honda Civic,” said Art St. Cyr, vice president of product planning and logistics at American Honda. “Safety ratings leadership across product lines is a fundamental part of not only our strategic business plan, but also our philosophy as a company.”

The Civic Sedan, which Honda said was significantly re-engineered for 2013, is equipped with Honda’s next generation Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, which contributes to make Civic the first small car to earn a Top Safety Pick+ crash safety rating, and the first to earn the highest rating of GOOD in the IIHS’ new small overlap frontal crash test (sometimes called a ‘narrow offset’ test).

This aggressive test is designed to simulate what happens when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object such as a tree or utility pole at high speed.
Honda said the reinforced ACE body structure found on the 2013 Civic further enhances frontal crash energy through a wider range of these offset and oblique collision scenarios.

Additional standard safety equipment on all Civic models include Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) with traction control; an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS); side curtain airbags; dual-stage, multiple-threshold front airbags; and driver and front passenger side airbags.