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Friday
May222015

VW Backs Internal Combustion

 By Christopher A. Sawyer

Polo WRC triple puts out 268 hp and 200 lb.-ft. of torque from one liter.Speaking at the recent International Vienna Motor Symposium, Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neußer, Member of the Board of Management for the Volkswagen brand with responsibility for Development and Volkswagen Group Head of Powertrain Development said, “Climate protection is an integral part of our responsibility towards people and society. Moreover, customers demand models with reduced consumption and lower emissions and politics also makes high demands on the automotive industry.” In other words, the ardor of the former may wax and wane, but it’s the politicians and their well-heeled donors who are driving up the cost and complexity of future vehicles. Even so, Neußer says the internal combustion isn’t going away any time soon. “High-efficiency TDI and TSI/TFSI engines… will remain indispensable for the foreseeable future. The reduction of CO2 emissions from internal combustion engines is pure high-tech nowadays [as shown by] our high rpm diesel [and] high-performance three-cylinder TSI engine.”

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Friday
May082015

The Art and Science of Airflow

By Christopher A. Sawyer

Spring has finally arrived, which means it is time for all aerodynamicists’ thoughts to turn to high-speed aero kits. Both Chevy and Honda have revealed the low-drag kits their teams will use to contest the Indy 500, while Audi debuted it’s low-drag latest at the recent 6 Hours of Spa endurance race. If this event is a precursor, Porsche and Toyota should banish all thoughts of sitting on the top step of the podium.

The Audi R18 e-tron quattro in Le Mans spec. looks much different than its high-downforce counterpart. It has a different front fairing, modified sided profiles, new rear wheel arch vents, and a revised wing support. According to Jan Monchaux, Head of Aerodynamics at Audi Sport, “Because downforce at Le Mans is not as important as it is at other tracks, we developed other solutions and new body shapes,” says Monchaux. “All the turning vanes, wings and similar elements are no longer mounted so steeply in the airflow; the curvature of the wing profile is less.” In addition, says Monchaux, “The cooling system’s requirements are different… due to the higher speeds [and] less air mass flow is necessary.” To recede turbulence under the car, spring movement has been reduced via a suspension redesign.

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Friday
May082015

Mustang GT350/GT350R: Steering, Suspension, Brakes

By Christopher A. Sawyer 

Unlike the original, the new GT350 is not an afterthought created to give Ford’s new Pony Car the street cred to go with its looks. It was part of the 2015 Mustang program from its inception, which gave engineers the opportunity to build in those items that would make this transition easier, rather than add them on at great expense later. Thus, the new GT350 does not require that major changes be made to the Mustang’s structure, and  those that have been made were be done with minimal rework. 

From the A-pillars forward, the GT350’s bodywork is unique, and features wide aluminum fenders with integrated heat extraction vents, and a new hood, grille and front fascia. The leading edge of the hood is more than an inch lower, and rises to encompass a central hot air exit that exhausts over a more rounded power dome. A carbon fiber grille opening reinforcement panel is used, and it cuts weight by 24% compared to the regular Mustang’s stamped steel part. It also eliminated the need for a finishing cover, and this reduces weight by a further 1.9 lb. The grille and front fascia control airflow for the radiator, front brakes and standard transmission and oil coolers. Also, the outer slots in the front fascia feed ducts that create an air curtain around the front wheels in order to reduce turbulence, and provide a low pressure zone into which the exits molded into the front fenders can dump their air. 

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Friday
May082015

Looking Inside Acura’s NSX

By Christopher A. Sawyer

Acura lifted the veil on the new NSX at the recent SAE 2015 World Congress and Exhibition in Detroit, divulging information on the car’s multi-material spaceframe, airflow management system, and powertrain.

The aluminum-intensive spaceframe chosen was not the only design on the table, says Shawn Tarr, Principle Engineer and NSX Body Development Leader. "We considered all-aluminum unibody, carbon fiber monocoque and space frame designs, and ultimately engineered a multi-material space frame because it offers the lowest weight and best rigidity, precision and hybrid powertrain packaging capability of any design.” The NSX is the first application of ablation casting technology which combines traditional casting methods with rapid cooling. This gives a part with the rigidity of a normal casting, but the ductility and energy absorption of a less brittle material. Thus, ultra-rigid castings can be used in crush zones, as well as function as large nodes for aluminum extrusions that are welded into place. Heat deformation of the area is reduced by using shorter stitch welds instead of longer seam welds as the casting’s strength more than makes up for any rigidity lost by using the shorter weld. Ablation castings also are used as primary mounting points for the suspension and powertrain.

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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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