Mustang Parts
   Carrying Saleen wheels and Bullitt wheels.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Return Of The Rotary?

Mazda recently killed off its consumer market rotary offering, the RX-8, but according to Motor Authority, Mazda may use a rotary engine as a range extender in a hybrid electric application.

The neat thing about using a rotary (or any other) engine as a range extender, is that you can optimize the engine for electricity generation duty, and run them at a more efficient operating point.  

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Myths and Truths about 55mpg CAFE

Ranting against the CAFE regulations is one of my favorite topics.

Here are some of my reactions to some of the myths that the Obama administration is promoting about the new 54mpg-by-2025 CAFE plan.

"Cars will still be affordable"--no, not exactly.  The government's estimate on the average mark-up to meet CAFE was around $2,000/car.  However, realize that this is based on various assumptions, which may not play out, and probably does not take unintended market consequences into account.  If batteries continue to be very expensive; if there is a shortage of key materials because everyone is rushing to electrify; large vehicles may have to be over-priced to offset losses on small vehicles, and etc.  The other unintended side effects: if cars are more expensive up front, financing will be harder to get for some customers, causing lost sales.  People will hold on to used cars longer, making used cars more expensive, and ironically, reducing fleet fuel economy and safety.

"Consumers will be able to choose" -- Actually, I see consumers being pushed towards smaller, lighter vehicles and hybrid-electric vehicles, giving up some utility and cargo capacity.  I also larger vehicles like pickup trucks becoming more expensive.  The wealthy will be able to buy whatever they want, even V8 powered muscle cars, but the average joe will be pushed towards small cars.

"This will create jobs" -- dubious.  Yes, you may need more engineers to engineer the advanced fuel saving powertrains.   However, that may be offset by losses in dealerships and other secondary jobs, if overall new car volume goes down.   And if China starts importing cheap fuel efficient or battery electric cars down the road, undercutting the American makers, expect job losses.  If new car volume is reduced, manufacturing jobs will suffer also.

"Energy Independence" -- sort of.  Less oil use is good, for that goal.  And so is electrification.  However, the raw materials of electric vehicles--rare earth metals like neodymium, and battery components like lithium, are overwhelmingly supplied by countries like China and Russia.  We will be at the mercy of a different sort of cartel.

"Good for the middle class" -- Higher cost vehicles, less choice in the market, older average age of vehicles on the road, possible job losses in dealerships and manufacturing plants.  The only thing good here for the middle class is a smaller gas bill.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Coda Recall: All 78 Vehicles?

BEV maker Coda is recalling 78 vehicles due to improper installation of side curtain airbags.

Now, what is shocking here is not the reason for the recall (stuff happens) but the number.

Has Coda really only sold 78 vehicles since March?  If so, that is a disaster for them.  They're going nowhere fast.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tesla Model S Track Numbers

Edmunds was allowed to test a Tesla Model S with instrumentation, and it does put down some impressive numbers, particularly stopping distance, considering how heavy it is:

0-60 (sec): 4.3 (4.3 w/ TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 12.6 @ 108.3 (12.6 @ 108.2 w/ TC on)
60-0 (ft): 108
Slalom (mph): 66.8 (66.0 w/TC off)
Skid Pad Lateral Acceleration (g): 0.86 (0.86 w/TC on) 
However, one grain of salt: this car was not purchased, it was loaned from Tesla, so it may not have production software.   I'm not saying it is a magazine special, but it could be.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Aptera, again?

According to this piece in the Press Democrat, the assets of Aptera were purchased by Jonway Group, a Chinese carmaker who also is tied up with Zap Motors (Zap Jonway).  Jonway plans to build the composite shells for the Aptera trike and ship them to Santa Rosa, where they will be assembled into vehicles and sold by a new company, Aptera USA.  

Me, I'll believe it when I see it. 

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Condolences To The Sikhs

I wish to extend my condolences to the Sikh community for their tragic loss.

No religious community should be attacked with violence.  In the United States, we are historically tolerant and welcoming of minority religious sects.  I work with several Sikhs, and they are to a man generous, kind, hard working, cheerful people.  I have never been approached by a Sikh with the intent of converting me to their faith.

Anyone who feels threatened by Sikhs is an ignorant jerk.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Right To Repair Compromise

Where I stand on "Right-To-Repair".   Right-to-repair is a requirement that automakers allow independent repair shops (outside of franchised dealers) access to their proprietary diagnostic tools and information.  There is a big battle brewing in Massachusetts over RTR.

There are already generic diagnostic interfaces (OBD-II, SAE J1979) mandated by law which all automakers must support.  However, they are also allowed to keep proprietary DTCs and diagnostic routines, which may require proprietary tools or information use.  This hinders independent repairers from doing many procedures, for example, reprogramming a vehicle with modern encrypted anti-theft keys to accept a new key.

I do not think that automakers should be required to divulge proprietary information which could be used by competitors to reverse engineer some of their technology, or by thieves or amateur modders to easily hack into cars.  However, independent mechanics should be be able to do most repairs on a vehicle, at least as far as being able to accurately diagnose a problem by pulling information from the on-board diagnostics.

Perhaps the right way to go is to enlarge the industry standards for diagnostics, so that more specific failure codes are publicly known.  That way, generic tools would have access to more details.  Sensitive functions, like re-flashing modules, should remain proprietary, to prevent easy tampering with the software or disabling of important functions.