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Friday
Apr242015

Will Honda Have the Last Laugh?

By Christopher A. Sawyer 

Honda’s re-entry into Formula 1 has not been easy. From an almost comical inability to complete laps in testing, to poor qualifying performances and running near the back of the field, it is not what was expected of a combination that, in previous years, seemed invincible. It’s not all Honda’s fault. Last year’s McLaren MP4-29 was Mercedes powered, but did not run near the front often, if at all. You could forgive the Germans for not giving long-time partner McLaren its best stuff for fear that it would be shared with Honda, but the chassis had its share of problems. The car lacked downforce, the chassis proved to be fickle, and McLaren spent most of its time running mid-pack.

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Friday
Apr242015

F1 Aero Tuning For Trucks

By Christopher A. Sawyer

Aero signature of standard truck shows massive problem...Americans call then semis. In Europe they are HGVs, Heavy Goods Vehicles. Both carry a lot of stuff and push a lot of air. Wirth Research — the nice folks behind Simtek Grand Prix, the Virgin F1 car, and Honda’s ARX sport cars and IndyCar aero kit — have delivered an aero package it claims reduces drag by 33% over a stock truck, and by 10% over one using the most popular aero kit on the market. And, like everything company founder Nick Wirth does these days, it was created using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software. No time was spent in a wind tunnel.

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Friday
Apr242015

Pushing the Limits of Transparency

Fiat Chrysler Automobile US engineers didn’t like the conventional methods of evaluating oil flow within axles and pinion carriers. That’s because cutting a window into the component to observe fluid movement while the axle was on a dynamometer has its drawbacks. Movement churns the oil, turning it milky, and blocks the observer’s view of what is happening inside the case.

Ideally, engineers would like a transparent case, but — until recently — you’d have to be Superman to peer inside an axle. However, the advent of 3D printing has brought with it the ability to print a transparent axle housing that can be used during testing to correlate actual and virtual fluid flow. “Efficient axles are critical to our powertrain strategy,” says Jeffrey Lux, Vice President-Transmission Powertrain. “[T]hey offer an economical way to improve total powertrain efficiency.”

Rumor has it this isn’t the first in-depth look into axle fluid flow Chrysler has taken. Back in the early days of its return to NASCAR, Chrysler found its race cars lagging well behind the competition. That’s when it reportedly turned to Lotus Engineering’s U.S. staff to see if it could improve performance. After setting a baseline, sources say the Lotus Engineering staff drained the axles and filled them only half way with a full synthetic gear lube. The synthetic’s higher heat capability paired with the reduction in fluid cut pumping losses dramatically, and greatly improved the axle’s efficiency. Within weeks, this and other changes had a Dodge on the pole at a Cup race, and DaimlerChrysler executives very happy. — CAS

 


Friday
Mar272015

MTS, McLaren Join Forces

Perhaps all this simulator work that the F1 teams undertake has an economic upside after all. MTS Systems Corp. has joined forces with McLaren Applied Technologies (MAT) to pursue the commercialization of a next-generation vehicle dynamics simulator (VDS). According to the agreement, the VDS would be manufactured by MTS Systems and offered for sale to automakers, race teams and Tier One suppliers globally.

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Friday
Mar272015

A Cure for Speeding

By Christopher A. Sawyer

Ford has introduced a technology that automatically adjusts vehicle speed to the prevailing limit. Called Intelligent Speed Limiter (ISL) by Ford, it’s already available on the European Mondeo (Fusion) and Kuga (Escape), and will be added to the new S-Max people carrier.
   
ISL is activated via steering wheel buttons to set a maximum vehicle speed, and works from 20 mph to 120 mph. The system uses the collision avoidance system’s camera to read road signs and, when the posted limit is lower than the maximum set speed, it reduces fuel to the engine rather than apply the brakes. This makes for a smooth deceleration rate, though on downhill stretches where the vehicle can exceed the posted limit, an alarm is sounded to warn the driver he must brake to remain below the limit.

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