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Friday
Apr102015

Toyota Gets a TNGA

By Christopher A. Sawyer 

It looks like VW, Renault and Volvo aren’t the only companies chasing after modular vehicle architectures. Now Toyota has entered the fray with  the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA). This integrated powertrain and platform strategy development program includes tactical component sharing, and should reduce the pull on its resources by 20%. 

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Friday
Mar272015

Distracted Driving Rates Worse Than Thought for Teen Drivers

By Christopher A. Sawyer

According to official estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving is a factor in just 14% of teen driver crashes, and only 7% of these crashes involve cell phone use. These estimates, based on official police reports, have set the focus for traffic safety legislation across the U.S. However, a new study by the AAA Traffic Safety Foundation shatters this calculation, showing that distraction is a factor in 60% of all moderate-to-severe teen crashes.

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Friday
Mar132015

Down the Wrong Road… Again

By Christopher A. Sawyer

Honda’s aero kit for the Dallara DW12 Indy car looks like a refugee from a venetian blind factory or one of Horatio Phillips’ experiments from the early days of aviation. And while supporters of the series are cheering the introduction of body kits from GM and Honda as a differentiating factor in this spec. car series, they seem to have missed a few of the more salient points:

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Friday
Mar132015

How Apple Could Change the Automotive Landscape

By Christopher A. Sawyer

Chrysler minivans running around with sensors cluttering the roof have started a stampede of analysts predicting when Apple will get into the business of designing and building automobiles. With in excess of $120 billion in the bank, the Cupertino, CA, computer maker has more than enough money on hand to build an self-driving electric vehicle of its own, and put that upstart Elon Musk in his place. Speculation has gotten to the point that German news outlets are reporting BMW will partner with Apple, and use its knowledge of aluminum and carbon fiber chassis construction to build a vehicle worthy of wearing the Apple logo.

So silly has this speculation become that, soon after BMW denied having any contact with Apple other than on porting CarPlay to its vehicles, the rumor mill began using this as confirmation of an Apple-BMW alliance. The reasoning? Simple. Apple does not allow those companies working with it to announce their role in any future products. If they do, contracts are terminated. Therefore, BMW’s denial is proof of its clandestine work for the computer maker. Clever, eh? Add in the Illuminati, and you have the makings of a Dan Brown novel.

And while we could sit and speculate all day long about Apple’s move into the car sector and what form it will take, it was during the introduction of the 12-in. Macbook that the computer maker showed something that might have a lasting effect on automobiles. Almost since the dawn of automotive time the size of components has been a limitation. As technology improved, things got smaller, more was crammed into a smaller space, and the size of vehicles (in absolute terms) shrunk. For battery electric vehicle makers, however, the size and power density of the battery has been a major stumbling block, as has the time it takes to fully recharge. Rather than create a new power cell chemistry, Apple did something so simple it was brilliant. It “terraced” the battery pack of the new 12-in. Macbook, which allowed it to extend the battery pack further into the case.

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Friday
Dec192014

Sad Times for Lotus, Good Times for Aston Martin

By Christopher A. Sawyer

First the news…

Aston Martin chief Andy Palmer has wasted no time shaking things up since leaving Nissan’s U.K. branch for Aston’s HQ in Gaydon. His latest move has been to hire Matthew Becker from Lotus, naming him Chief Engineer, Vehicle Attribute Engineering. Becker moves into his new role just after the start of the New Year after 26 years with Lotus. In this position, Becker will do many of the same things he did at Lotus as Chief Engineer, Vehicle Test and Development. This includes vehicle dynamics, aerodynamics, vehicle durability, NVH testing, and more.

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