Monday, September 27, 2010

Legalization opponents fear more stoned drivers

Opponents to California's Proposition 19, otherwise known as the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, argue that if the measure passes on November 2, 2010, the roads will become more dangerous. USA Today quotes No on Proposition 19 spokesman Roger Salazar as saying "there won't be anything to stop anyone from legally finishing off a couple joints before getting behind the wheel."

Proponents point to the provisions in the law upholding current laws prohibiting driving under the influence, but Salazar's group notes a lack of clarity. While the proposal has provisions for the establishment of restrictions, opponents argue that there are no actual standards to determine impairment by marijuana like there is for blood-alcohol concentration.

Law or no, there currently isn't a way to stop clandestine cannabis use prior to driving, and police departments are burning tax revenue to enforce current drug laws. Federal drug laws remain in place, however, and will be in direct opposition to Proposition 19 if voters approve it. The uproar may be a new wrinkle to the Reefer Madness argument, though voters eying new sources of tax revenue may find the monetary potential more compelling.

Bentley recalls $300,000 cars over hood ornaments

The Associated Press
BERLIN—Luxury carmaker Bentley is recalling 820 cars worldwide over fears that its famous “Winged B” hood ornament could injure people in an accident because it might not properly retract.

Bentley Motors' European head office in Berlin said Thursday the recall affects 620 cars in the United States and Canada and 200 in Europe who added the raised hood ornament as an option on Arnage, Brooklands and Azure models made between October 2006 and March 2009.

The models carried a list price of more than $300,000.

The company says no injuries have been reported but a Bentley dealer noticed the spring mechanism under the ornament has a tendency to corrode and might not always function properly.

The fear is that if the hood ornament does not retract, it could increase the risk of injury to a pedestrian in the event of a crash, the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on its website.

“The recall is rather theoretical,” said company spokesman Richard Durbin in a telephone interview from Crewe, England, where Bentley cars are produced. “If it were struck by something, we want it to retract as quickly as possible and in some instances it's not doing it.”

He added the hood ornament itself is unaffected by corrosion because it is stainless steel.

Bentley, owned by Germany's Volkswagen AG, will replace the mechanism free and says the work takes about an hour to complete.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

History of Hybrid Vehicles

1665 – 1825
Between 1665 and 1680, Flemish Jesuit priest and astronomer Ferdinand Verbiest created plans for a miniature four-wheel unmanned steam “car” for Chinese Emperor Khang Hsi. In 1769, Frenchman Nicholas Cugnot built a steam-powered motor carriage capable of six miles per hour. In 1825, British inventor Goldsworthy Gurney built a steam car that successfully completed an 85 mile round-trip journey in ten hours time. (Steamers dominated the automotive landscape until the late 19th century.)
Robert Anderson of Aberdeen, Scotland built the first electric vehicle.
Sir David Salomon developed a car with a light electric motor and very heavy storage batteries. Driving speed and range were poor.
Historical records indicate that an electric-powered taxicab, using a battery with 28 cells and a small electric motor, was introduced in England.
Immisch & Company built a four-passenger carriage, powered by a one-horsepower motor and 24-cell battery, for the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. In the same year, Magnus Volk in Brighton, England made a three-wheeled electric car.
1890 – 1910
Period of significant improvements in battery technology, specifically with development of the modern lead-acid battery by H. Tudor and nickel-iron battery by Edison and Junger.
The London Electric Cab Company began regular service using cars designed by Walter Bersey. The Bersey Cab, which used a 40-cell battery and 3 horsepower electric motor, could be driven 50 miles between charges.
The Pope Manufacturing Company of Hartford, Connecticut, built around 500 electric cars over a two-year period.
The German Dr. Ferdinand Porsche, at age 23, built his first car, the Lohner Electric Chaise. It was the world's first front-wheel-drive. Porsche's second car was a hybrid, using an internal combustion engine to spin a generator that provided power to electric motors located in the wheel hubs. On battery alone, the car could travel nearly 40 miles.
The Electric Carriage and Wagon Company, of New York City, had a fleet of twelve sturdy and stylish electric cabs.
The Pope Manufacturing Company merged with two smaller electric car companies to form the Electric Vehicle Company, the first large-scale operation in the American automobile industry. The company had assets of $200 million.

Two hybrids appeared at the Paris Salon.
American car companies made 1,681 steam, 1,575 electric and 936 gasoline cars. In a poll conducted at the first National Automobile Show in New York City, patrons favored electric as their first choice, followed closely by steam.
1903 Krieger
In the first few years of the twentieth century, thousands of electric and hybrid cars were produced. This car, made in 1903 by the Krieger company, used a gasoline engine to supplement a battery pack. Henry Ford’s assembly line and the advent of the self-starting gas engine signaled a rapid decline in hybrid cars by 1920.
A Belgian carmaker, Pieper, introduced a 3-1/2 horsepower "voiturette" in which the small gasoline engine was mated to an electric motor under the seat. When the car was "cruising," its electric motor was in effect a generator, recharging the batteries. But when the car was climbing a grade, the electric motor, mounted coaxially with the gas engine, gave it a boost. The Pieper patents were used by a Belgium firm, Auto-Mixte, to build commercial vehicles from 1906 to 1912.
A series-hybrid runabout competed against steam and gas-powered cars in a New York to Boston reliability test.
The Electric Vehicle Company built 2000 taxicabs, trucks, and buses, and set up subsidiary cab and car rental companies from New York to Chicago. Smaller companies, representing approximately 57 auto plants, turned out about 4000 cars.
Henry Ford overcame the challenges posed by gasoline-powered cars — noise, vibration, and odor — and began assembly-line production of low-priced, lightweight, gas-powered vehicles. Within a few years, the Electric Vehicle Company failed.
An American engineer named H. Piper filed a patent for a petrol-electric hybrid vehicle. His idea was to use an electric motor to assist an internal-combustion engine, enabling it to achieve 25 mph.
The Woods Interurban, an electric car that allowed long-distance drivers to swap the electric power unit for a two-cylinder gas engine (supposedly a fifteen-minute job), failed to get more than a handful of customers.
Commercial built a hybrid truck which used a four-cylinder gas engine to power a generator, eliminating the need for both transmission and battery pack. This hybrid was built in Philadelphia until 1918.
With the advent of the self-starter (making it easy for all drivers to start gas engines), steamers and electrics were almost completely wiped out. In this year, sales of electric cars dropped to 6,000 vehicles, while the Ford Model T sold 182,809 gasoline cars.
1921 Owen Magnetic Hybrid
This 1921 Owen Magnetic Model 60 Touring uses a gasoline engine to run a generator that supplies electric power to motors mounted in each of the rear wheels.

Two prominent electric-vehicle makers — Baker of Cleveland and Woods of Chicago — offered hybrid cars. Woods claimed that their hybrid reached a top speed of 35 mph and achieved fuel efficiency of 48 mpg. The Woods Dual Power was more expensive and less powerful than its gasoline competition, and therefore sold poorly.
1920 – 1965
Dormant period for mass-produced electric and hybrid cars. So-called alternative cars became the province of backyard tinkerers and small-time entrepreneurs.
U.S. Congress introduced first bills recommending use of electric vehicles as a means of reducing air pollution.
1968 - 1971
Three scientists working at TRW, a major auto supplier, created a practical hybrid powertrain. Dr. Baruch Berman, Dr. George H. Gelb and Dr. Neal A. Richardson developed, demonstrated and patented the system—designated as an electromechanical transmission (EMT) providing brisk vehicle performance with an engine smaller than required by a conventional internal combustion engine drive. Many of the engineering concepts incorporated in that system are used in today's hybrids.
The GM 512, a very lightweight experimental hybrid car, ran entirely on electric power up to 10 miles per hour. From 10 to 13 miles per hour, it ran on a combination of batteries and its two-cylinder gas engine. Above thirteen miles per hour, the GM 512 ran on gasoline. It could only reach 40 miles per hour.
With the Arab oil embargo of 1973, the price of gasoline soared, creating new interest in electric vehicles. The U.S. Department of Energy ran tests on many electric and hybrid vehicles produced by various manufacturers, including a hybrid known as the “VW Taxi” produced by Volkswagen in Wolfsburg, West Germany. The Taxi, which used a parallel hybrid configuration allowing flexible switching between the gasoline engine and electric motor, logged over 8,000 miles on the road, and was shown at auto shows throughout Europe and the United States.
As part of the Federal Clean Car Incentive Program, engineers Victor Wouk and Charlie Rosen created a prototype hybrid gas-electric vehicle using a Buick Skylark body. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tested the vehicle, certified that it met the strict guidelines for an EPA clean-air auto program — and rejected it out of hand.
AM General, a division of American Motors, began delivery of 352 electric vans to the U.S. Postal Service for testing. The U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration began a government program to advance electric and hybrid technology.
U.S. Congress enacted Public Law 94-413, the Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development, and Demonstration Act of 1976. Among the law’s objectives were to work with industry to improve batteries, motors, controllers, and other hybrid-electric components.

General Electric was chosen to construct a parallel-hybrid sedan, and Toyota built its first hybrid — a small sports car with a gas-turbine generator supplying current to an electric motor.
1977 – 1979
General Motors spent over $20 million in electric car development and research, reporting that electric vehicles could be in production by the mid-1980s.
Dave Arthurs of Springdale, Arkansas, spent $1,500 turning a standard Opel GT into a hybrid car that could get 75 miles per gallon, using a six-horsepower lawnmower engine, a four-hundred-amp electric motor, and an array of six-volt batteries. Mother Earth News used the Arthurs plan to build their own hybrid, which averaged 75 miles per gallon. Sixty thousand Mother Earth News readers wrote in for the plans, when the magazine published their results.
Briggs and Stratton, the company known for manufacturing lawn mower engines, developed a hybrid car powered by a twin cyclinder four-stroke 16hp gasoline engine and an electric motor—for total of 26 horsepower. The hybrid drivetrain provided power for a custom-designed two-door vehicle with six wheels—two in front and four in the back.
Audi unveiled the first generation of the Audi Duo experimental vehicle, based on the Audi 100 Avant Quattro. The car had a 12.6 horsepower electric engine, which drove the rear wheels instead of a propeller shaft. A nickel-cadmium battery supplied the energy. The front-wheel drive was powered by a 2.3-litre five-cylinder engine with an output of 136 horsepower. Two years later, Audi unveiled the second generation Duo, also based on the Audi 100 Avant quattro.
The United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC), a Department of Energy program, launched a major program to produce a “super” battery to get viable electric vehicles on the road as soon as possible. The USABC would go on to invest more than $90 million in the nickel hydride (NiMH) battery. The NiMH battery can accept three times as many charge cycles as lead-acid, and can work better in cold weather.
Toyota Motor Corporation announced the "Earth Charter," a document outlining goals to develop and market vehicles with the lowest emissions possible.

The Clinton Administration announced a government initiative called the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV). In the program, the government worked with the American auto industry to develop a clean car that could operate at up to 80 miles per gallon. Several years and a billion dollars later, the PNGV emerged with three prototypes for their 80 mpg car. Every prototype was a hybrid.

Toyota's exclusion from PNGV prompted Chairman Eiji Toyoda to create a secret project called G21, Global Car for the 21st Century. The following year, Toyota doubled its original goal of improving fuel efficiency by 50 percent.

The Toyota Prius was introduced to the Japanese market, two years before its original launch date, and prior to the Kyoto global warming conference held in December. First-year sales were nearly 18,000.
Audi became the first manufacturer in Europe to take a hybrid vehicle into volume production: the Audi duo based on the A4 Avant. The vehicle was powered by a 90 horsepower 1.9-litre TDI in conjunction with a 29 horsepower electric motor. Both power sources drove the front wheels. A lead-gel battery at the rear stored the electrical energy. The Duo was not a commercial success and therefore discontinued, prompting European carmakers to focus their R&D investment on diesels.
1997 - 1999
A small selection of all-electric cars from the big automakers — including Honda’s EV Plus, GM’s EV1 and S-10 electric pickup, a Ford Ranger pickup, and Toyota’s RAV4 EV — were introduced in California. Despite the enthusiasm of early adopters, the electrics failed to reach beyond a few hundred drivers for each model. Within a few years, the all-electric programs were dropped.
Honda released the two-door Insight, the first hybrid car to hit the mass market in the United States. The Insight won numerous awards and received EPA mileage ratings of 61 mpg city and 70 mpg highway.
Toyota released the Toyota Prius, the first hybrid four-door sedan available in the United States.
Honda introduced the Honda Civic Hybrid, its second commercially available hybrid gasoline-electric car. The appearance and drivability of the Civic Hybrid was (and still is) identical to the conventional Civic.
The Toyota Prius II won 2004 Car of the Year Awards from Motor Trend Magazine and the North American Auto Show. Toyota was surprised by the demand and pumped up its production from 36,000 to 47,000 for the U.S. market. Interested buyers waited up to six months to purchase the 2004 Prius. Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. President Jim Press called it "the hottest car we've ever had."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

New technology expected to hit the marketplace within the next decade:

1) Active safety systems will include radar and cameras that watch for danger. “We’ve put airbags just about every place you can.” Says Toyota Product-planning Manager, John Weiner, “Within the next five years the car will use algorithms to anticipate hazards and intervene or warn the driver.

2) Keyless entry has already been implemented on certain Cadillac, Infinity and BMW models and will be introduced to approximately 40 different vehicles in the next three years. Credit card style systems will replace car keys.

3) Navigation systems such as computer-like screens on the dash, displaying navigation systems that employ global positioning satellite and onboard DVD’s to provide the driver with distractions, maps, and information on businesses such as hotels, hospitals and restaurants. The video screens will also have the capability to connect to PDA’s and cellular phones.

4) Wi-Fi hook-ups in almost every vehicle will provide weather, news, and other information. “We’re going to see hot spots in places like gas stations and restaurants,” says Peter Wengert, marketing manager for automotive products at Microsoft.

5) Data collection will give vehicles the capability to collect pertinent data that can be shared with dealers, manufacturers, and other vehicles helping service personnel perform remote diagnostics and help troubleshoot for a broken down motorist.

6) Onboard cameras will help detect blind spots, while helping parents watch their kids. Many recreational vehicles already have this technology at the rear and in front to “see” around corners.

7) 40 Volt Electrical Systems will become standard to accommodate the many new electric devices.

8) Voice commands are already in certain BMW’s, Jaguar and Lexus models and will become common and necessary in order to operate the various functions in cars.

9) Electronic pedals already in use in Mercedes, Chevy Corvette and all recent Audi vehicles, brake-by-wire and accelerate by wire pedals send an electronic signal rather than activating a physical connection to the engine and brakes. Emergency brake handles will also be replaced by electronic controls.

10) Programmable vehicles will let you use electronics to express your choice of vehicle you wish to drive, says Stanford professor of mechanical engineering Chris Gerdes. “You can have it be as sporty or luxurious, as you choose.” Drivers of the new Audi A8, for example can change the car’s ride by raising and lowering road clearance.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fastest Cars In The World: Top 10 List 2009-2010

1. Bugatti Veyron: 267 mph, 0-60 in 2.5 secs. Aluminum, Narrow Angle W16 Engine with 1001 hp, base price is $1,700,000. Tested again on July 10, 2010, the Bugatti Veyron once again claimed its title as the fastest car in the world at 267 mph.
Bugatti Veyron front view driving
2. SSC Ultimate Aero: 257 mph, 0-60 in 2.7 secs. Twin-Turbo V8 Engine with 1183 hp, base price is $654,400. Tested in March 2007 by Guinness World Records, The SSC Ultimate Aero was the fastest car in the world from March 2007 to July 2010 until recently it fell behind the Bugatti Veyron to take the #2 spot.
SSC Ultimate Aero Red doors open
3. Saleen S7 Twin-Turbo: 248 mph, 0-60 in 3.2 secs. Twin Turbo All Aluminum V8 Engine with 750 hp, base price is $555,000. Smooth and bad-ass, will make you want to show it off non-stop.
Saleen S7 Twin Turbo dark orange front view
4. Koenigsegg CCX: 245 mph, 0-60 in 3.2 secs. 90 Degree V8 Engine 806 hp, base price is $545,568. Made in Sweden, it is aiming hard to be the fastest car in the world, but it has a long way to go to surpass the Bugatti and the Ultimate Aero.
Orange Koenigsegg CCX
5. McLaren F1: 240 mph, 0-60 in 3.2 secs. BMW S70/2 60 Degree V12 Engine with 627 hp, base price is $970,000. Check out the doors, they looks like bat wings, maybe Batman need to order one and paints it black 1997 McLaren F1 on the road black
6. Ferrari Enzo: 217 mph, 0-60 in 3.4 secs. F140 Aluminum V12 Engine with 660 hp, base price is $670,000. Only 399 ever produced, the price goes up every time someone crashes.Ferrari Enzo doors open front view
7. Jaguar XJ220: 217 mph, 0-60 in 3.8 secs. Twin Turbo V6 Engine with 542 hp, base price was $650,000. Made in 1992, this car still got what it takes to make the list.
Jaguar XJ220
8. Pagani Zonda F: 215 mph, 0-60 in 3.5 secs. Mercedes Benz M180 V12 Engine with 650 hp, base price is $667,321. With a V12 motor, this baby can do much better.pagani zonda f
9. Lamborghini Murcielago LP640: 211 mph, 0-60 in 3.3 secs. V12 Engine with 640 hp, base price is $430,000. Nice piece of art, the design is very round and smooth.
White Lamborghini Murcielago front view
10. Porsche Carrera GT: 205 mph, 0-60 in 3.9 secs. Aluminum, 68 Degree, Water Cooled V10 Engine with 612 hp, base price is $440,000. The most powerful and most expensive Porsche  nearly made the list as #10.

Red Porsche Carrera GT side view

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

History of the Internal Combustion Engine - The Heart of the Automobile

An internal combustion engine is any engine that uses the explosive combustion of fuel to push a piston within a cylinder - the piston's movement turns a crankshaft that then turns the car wheels via a chain or a drive shaft. The different types of fuel commonly used for car combustion engines are gasoline (or petrol), diesel, and kerosene.
A brief outline of the history of the internal combustion engine includes the following highlights:
  • 1680 - Dutch physicist, Christian Huygens designed (but never built) an internal combustion engine that was to be fueled with gunpowder.
  • 1807 - Francois Isaac de Rivaz of Switzerland invented an internal combustion engine that used a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen for fuel. Rivaz designed a car for his engine - the first internal combustion powered automobile. However, his was a very unsuccessful design.
  • 1824 - English engineer, Samuel Brown adapted an old Newcomen steam engine to burn gas, and he used it to briefly power a vehicle up Shooter's Hill in London.
  • 1858 - Belgian-born engineer, Jean JosephÉtienne Lenoir invented and patented (1860) a double-acting, electric spark-ignition internal combustion engine fueled by coal gas. In 1863, Lenoir attached an improved engine (using petroleum and a primitive carburetor) to a three-wheeled wagon that managed to complete an historic fifty-mile road trip. (See image at top)
  • 1862 - Alphonse Beau de Rochas, a French civil engineer, patented but did not build a four-stroke engine (French patent #52,593, January 16, 1862).
  • 1864 - Austrian engineer, Siegfried Marcus*, built a one-cylinder engine with a crude carburetor, and attached his engine to a cart for a rocky 500-foot drive. Several years later, Marcus designed a vehicle that briefly ran at 10 mph that a few historians have considered as the forerunner of the modern automobile by being the world's first gasoline-powered vehicle 
  • 1873 - George Brayton, an American engineer, developed an unsuccessful two-stroke kerosene engine (it used two external pumping cylinders). However, it was considered the first safe and practical oil engine.
  • 1866 - German engineers, Eugen Langen and Nikolaus August Otto improved on Lenoir's and de Rochas' designs and invented a more efficient gas engine.
  • 1876 - Nikolaus August Otto invented and later patented a successful four-stroke engine, known as the "Otto cycle".
  • 1876 - The first successful two-stroke engine was invented by Sir Dougald Clerk.
  • 1883 - French engineer, Edouard Delamare-Debouteville, built a single-cylinder four-stroke engine that ran on stove gas. It is not certain if he did indeed build a car, however, Delamare-Debouteville's designs were very advanced for the time - ahead of both Daimler and Benz in some ways at least on paper.
  • 1885 - Gottlieb Daimler invented what is often recognized as the prototype of the modern gas engine - with a vertical cylinder, and with gasoline injected through a carburetor (patented in 1887). Daimler first built a two-wheeled vehicle the "Reitwagen" (Riding Carriage) with this engine and a year later built the world's first four-wheeled motor vehicle.
  • 1886 - On January 29, Karl Benz received the first patent (DRP No. 37435) for a gas-fueled car.
  • 1889 - Daimler built an improved four-stroke engine with mushroom-shaped valves and two V-slant cylinders.
  • 1890 - Wilhelm Maybach built the first four-cylinder, four-stroke engine.