Sunday 28 April 2013

VW diesel mini for China?

 A single-seat car from Volkswagen offering 100km/litre appears on various blogs as the shape of things to come: a car from China that costs $600 and can achieve 258 miles/gallon using a single cylinder diesel engine.

Blogs claim it is not toy but will be introduced next year in China – a single-seater aerodynamic car that carries VW branding.

In fact, Volkswagen completed much of the testing under high security in Germany.

Friday 26 April 2013

Honda sees growth in income

Honda Motor Company’s consolidated operating income for the 2013 fiscal year (1 April 2012 - 31 March 2013) amounted to 544.8 billion yen (£3.58b), an increase of 135.5% compared to the previous fiscal year.

This is due primarily to a significant increase in automobile sales, up 900,000 units to just over four million vehicles, led by strong growth in North America, Asia and Japan as a result of recovery from the impact of the Great East Japan Earthquake, major flooding in Thailand and the success of new model introductions. An increase of motorcycle sales globally of 430,000 units has further supported this growth.

Consolidated net income for the fiscal year amounted to 367.1 billion yen (£2.4b), an increase of 73.6% compared to the previous fiscal year.

Volkswagen to use CGI in diesels?

New technologies are finding their way into VW's modular diesel component system's future engine generation, according to the company’s chairman, speaking at the International Vienna Motor Symposium this week.

The VW chairman said these high-performance diesel engines will achieve peak power output of 100kW per litre of displacement and have a variable valve-train assembly, a high-pressure injection system at up to 3,000 bar and combined charging with the innovative e-booster.

This might suggest that VW is on the point of using compacted graphite iron (CGI) in its next generation diesel engines, most likely for cylinder blocks.

Thursday 25 April 2013

UK engine output falls

Engine manufacture in the UK fell 5.4 per cent in the first quarter of 2013 to 660,255 units, down from 697,746 units in the same period of 2012.

UK engine manufacturing in March fell 6.0% to 220,032 units, from 234,038 in 2012. The figures come from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

The slowdown in vehicle demand in Europe has constrained UK engine production. In the first quarter, the 2.6% rise in output for the home market was unable to offset a 9.8% fall in exports.

Schumacher returns to Nürburgring

On Sunday, 19 May seven-times Formula 1 world champion Michael Schumacher will take to the track before the start of a 24-hour race in Germany. Schumacher will post a demonstration lap on the Nürburgring's legendary Nordschleife in a Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 W02 to say 'thank you' to his fans for their years of loyal support during his F1 career.

This will be the first time since Juan Manuel Fangio's victory on 1st August 1954 that a modern Formula 1 Silver Arrow has driven on the Nordschleife at the Nürburgring. 

Schumacher covered part of the Nordschleife in the last Formula 1 grand prix at the Nürburgring in July 2011, however, that was in a Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow Stromlinie W196. The W196 was the first Formula 1 Silver Arrow that took Mercedes-Benz to two world titles with Juan Manuel Fangio in the 1954 and 1955 seasons. During this period, including his success at the Nürburgring, Fangio achieved eight wins in all. 

VW remains confident

Volkswagen AG remains ‘confident’ for the year as sales revenue for the first three months of the year (January – March) remained largely stable at €46.6 billion (January - March 2012: €47.3 billion).

The operating profit of €2.3 billion (previous year: €3.2 billion), has impacted “negatively” on contingency reserves in the areas of passenger cars and power sngineering, among other things.

Profit before tax was €2.7 billion (previous year: €4.2 billion). The prior-year figure had been positively influenced by the “remeasurement” of the options related to Porsche. At €10.6 billion, net liquidity in the Automotive Division remained at a high level, safeguarding the Volkswagen Group's financial stability and flexibility.

Wednesday 24 April 2013

GM to invest €240 million in testing

Proof that the Millbrook’s Proving Ground’s days are drawing to a close as a permanent General Motors (GM) test facility come with the news that GM will invest €230 million for new testing facilities at its European Product Development Centre at the Opel headquarters in Rüsselsheim and at the proving ground in Dudenhofen.

Rumours have persisted for some time that the famous Millbrook facility in Bedfordshire, UK is to change hands; indeed, it is understood that an announcement only awaits the completion of the lengthy process if due diligence. JaguarLandRover is among companies whose names have been mentioned in connection with this acquisition.

As GM’s investment will be executed in the next three to four years it is to be assumed that GM will continue to hire some of Millbrook’s facilities, including possibly the important test tracks and engineering resources.

Tuesday 23 April 2013

Bridgend to build 1.5-litre EcoBoost

Ford has named its Bridgend Engine Plant as a further location to source its new 1.5-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost gasoline engine.

In parallel with the news, Ford has announced a £24 million investment in the facility, £12 million of which will be provided by the Welsh Government in the form of a ‘support package’.

The investment will bring valuable work to machine tool companies and equipment suppliers. Ford adds that the investment will also ‘help safeguard and create high-quality production and engineering jobs in Wales’.

Monday 22 April 2013

Volvo video highlights KERS

A short video on the website posted on 20 April 2013 in conjunction with Volvo Cars highlights the benefits of the Torotrak/Flybrid Kinetic Energy Recover System (KERS).

The flywheel KERS is fitted to the rear axle. During retardation, the braking energy makes the flywheel spin up to 60,000 rev/min. When the car starts moving off again, the flywheel’s rotation is transferred to the rear wheels through a specially designed transmission.

The fuel consumption can be reduced by some 25 per cent. Also, the power of the engine is boosted and the car’s acceleration improved.

Sunday 21 April 2013

‘Zero-turn’ technology on the road soon

Tata will have road-going models of its Pixel city car fitted with ‘zero turn’ technology by the year end, according to Auto Express. Whether it will use Torotrak’s infinitely variable transmission (IVT) remains to be seen.

When questioned from time to time concerning progress about its infinitely variable transmission (IVT) fitted to the “spin-on-the-spot” Tata Pixel, Torotrak of Leyland, Lancashire has always held a position of ‘no comment, arguing that it is the responsibility of the customer to make disclosures.

Now, it seems, Auto Express has enjoyed a world exclusive first drive of the concept car designed for European cities.

Saturday 20 April 2013

Daf, Paccar link for CGI 11-litre

Daf and Paccar have joined forces to manufacture a new 11-litre diesel engine with a compacted graphite iron (CGI) cylinder block and head.

Production of the new engine begins this autumn at Daf’s plant in Eindhoven, the Netherlands where it will be built alongside the long-serving Daf 9.2-litre engine and the 12.9-litre MX-13 engine.

Just how long the 9.2-litre engine will remain in production remains to be seen; certainly, the arrival of the MX-11 will provide Daf with a golden opportunity to remove its ‘old timer’, cut costs and upsize its products where appropriate.

Wednesday 17 April 2013

Mini destined for India

For the first time since the relaunch of Mini in 2001, preparations are under way for the local production of the brand in several growth markets outside Europe. As a result, cars from the British premium brand will be rolling off assembly lines in India for first time later this year.

Local production for the Mini Countryman is now being prepared at the BMW plant in Chennai (formerly Madras). The plant meets the same stringent quality standards applied to all production of BMW Group models.

The new assembly facility has been brought on stream just a year after the start of Mini sales in India and will help to meet the steadily increasing demand for the cars in the Indian market.

Hotfire vital to ‘Baby Jag’ success

The Hotfire engine, to be built by JaguarLandRover at Wolverhampton, will play a vital role in the new ‘Baby Jag’ the company will launch to compete with the BMW’s 3-Series. The engine will be in gasoline and diesel forms and could even appear in different cylinder configurations.

By the time production of the Baby Jag ramps up substantially, production could be reaching 200 cars a day or 1,000 a week – 50,000 a year. Such a figure would help to swell Jaguar’s overall production tally which in the current year should reach 70,000 vehicles compared with around 60,000 last year.

Adrian Hallmark, Jaguar’s global brand director said at the recent launch of the new Jaguar F-Type sports car: “JaguarLandRover’s aspiration is to be the fourth premium car company in the world.”

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Volkswagen first quarter sales rise 5%

Volkswagen Group delivered 2.27 million vehicles in the period January to March 2013, a rise of 5.1 per cent on the same period in 2012 of 2.16 million.

The Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand delivered 1.43 million units world-wide from January to March compared with 1.36 million in 2012 – a rise of 5.2 per cent. The brand developed well in the Asia-Pacific region, where deliveries ran at 653,500, up 20.9 per cent on 540,600 in 2012. In North America, Volkswagen Passenger Cars sales rose 7.3 per cent to 145,700 (135,700), while deliveries on the overall European market, which remained difficult with a fall of 10.3 per cent ran at 396,300 units.

The challenges posed for JLR’s Hotfire

Design and manufacturing engineers at JaguarLandRover (JLR) now have their own benchmark engine in the form of the Ti 240 four-cylinder gasoline engine they have inserted into the Jaguar XF and XJ models.

Already installed in the Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Freelander, the company has a quarter of four-cylinder gasoline applications.

When it comes to ‘easing’ their own Hotfire gasoline and diesel engines to be manufactured at the new state-of-the-art i54 complex adjacent to the M54 Motorway, the challenge for JLR engineers will not be so much on the installation of the new engines in vehicles, but the Hotfire engines themselves.

Monday 15 April 2013

Ford timing challenges JLR Hotfire

Ford has said that it will invest £200 million to invest in four-cylinder engine production at its Brook Park, Cleveland, Ohio plant starting 2014 – the timing is similar to that of JaguarLandRover which begins production of its own four-cylinder gasoline and diesel Hotfire engines at Wolverhampton in 2014/2015.

Ford will equip an increasing number of models with smaller, more-efficient powertrains. Ford will add 450 jobs at Brook Park to build the 2-litre engines which the automaker has been building in Valencia, Spain. Valencia will continue to build these engines for Ford European-built vehicles as well as both Jaguar and Land Rover - see also recent item entitled Ricardo/JLR in I4 engine pact.

According to one US analyst, the 2-litre EcoBoost turbocharged engine is close to the power of a V6 with much better fuel economy.

Jaguar to double sales in three years

Jaguar will double its annual sales to a six-figure total within the next two or three years as a result of the new powertrains, body variants and drive systems it has introduced in the past 12 months, according global brand director Adrian Hallmark.

The company now offers four-wheel-drive versions of the XF and XJ saloons in markets prone to bad winters or plagued by poor roads; has added a Sportbrake (estate) version of the XF in Europe; and has introduced a 2.0-litre engine to avoid China's steep taxes on larger engines, plus supercharged 3-litre V6s which bring down the average CO2 emissions of the range and help to offset declining buyer interest in V8s.

Both Jaguar and Land Rover import these 2-litre EcoBoost engines from Ford’s engine plant in Valencia – see previous story. The engines are customised to JLR’s specification.

Sunday 14 April 2013

Ricardo/JLR in I4 engine pact

Will Ricardo provide valuable engineering support to help JaguarLandRover (JLR) integrate its new Hotfire four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines into the car maker’s products when then engines appear in 2014/2015?

 A clue to the answer perhaps can be found in the latest issue of Ricardo’s house magazine RQ. The concluding sentence in an article describing Ricardo’s role in the integration of Land Rover’s I4 gasoline engine into the latest XF and XJ products states: ‘For Ricardo it is another box ticked and an already successful relationship is moving from strength to further strength’.

Without doubt, the joint work by engineers from JLR and Ricardo to integrate the four-cylinder gasoline engines into cars initially engineered for vee-engines is a substantial task if the same essential vehicle attributes are to be retained. That joint work no doubt will be of direct benefit in the future when JLR comes to integrate the new Hotfire I4 gasoline and diesel engines into a range of vehicles. Hotfire will be manufactured at site i54 near the M54, Wolverhampton.

Saturday 13 April 2013

Ford launches all-ally 1.5-litre EcoBoost

Ford Motor has launched its latest EcoBoost engine – the new 1.5-litre gasoline unit which will be manufactured initially at Ford’s facility in Craiova, Romania. 

With the launch of the engine, Ford now has capacity to build 1.6 million EcoBoost engines annually. By the end of 2013 six plants across Europe, Asia and North America will be produce EcoBoost engines, triple the number in 2010.

Production of the four-cylinder 1.5-litre engine – the fifth member of the EcoBoost family – begins in Craiova later this month. Other manufacturing locations will be announced later.

Thursday 11 April 2013

VW grows in Milton Keynes

Volkswagen has re-affirmed its faith in Milton Keynes, UK with the news that it is to construct a new £25 million headquarters for its financial services building.

No contractor has yet been appointed to handle the work which will cover 100,000 square feet.

Tongwell in Milton Keynes is already the base for the headquarters of Volkswagen Group United Kingdom Ltd and the company’s financial services activities occupies a nearby building.

Record JaguarLandRover sales

Perhaps not surprisingly, JaguarLandRover has recorded its best ever monthly and quarterly global sales performance with rises of 16 and 17 per cent respectively. Total sales were 115,504.
Jaguar sales for the first quarter of 2012 reached 20,210, up 31 per cent while land Rover sales for the same period reached 95,294 – an increase of 15 per cent. March sales were 9,856 and 43,916 respectively.
Overseas, China delivered its best ever month with sales up 22 per cent to 8,487 cars, a rise of 22 per cent. Jaguar sold a record 1,592 cars while Land Rover sold 6,895 units.

Ford tops Polk charts

Sales of the Ford Focus totalled 1,020,410 in 2012 according to Polk global market registration data making it the world’s best-selling vehicle overall.
Polk also confirmed the Ford Fiesta as the best-selling sub-compact car globally with registrations of 723,130 in 2012.
The Ford Fiesta and Focus are the UK’s one and two best-sellers providing the foundation for Ford’s UK car sales leadership which the company claims it has held for 36 consecutive years.

Wednesday 10 April 2013

Maserati goes diesel

Maserati has given further endorsement to VM Motori’s 3-litre V6 diesel engine by offering it as an alternative to a 3-litre V6 gasoline engine with an output of 410bhp.
It will be the first time the Italian automaker has offered a diesel variant. The diesel will be installed in the Ghibli, a four-door saloon that will be revealed at next week’s Shanghai Auto Show.
As readers will be aware, the V6 diesel has a compacted graphite iron (CGI) cylinder block and bedplate. The engine is already offered in the Chrysler Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Dodge Ram 1500, as well as the Lancia Thema.

Tuesday 9 April 2013

Record sales for BMW

BMW Group sold 191, 269 BMW, mini and Rolls-Royce cars in March - more than in any month in its history.

The previous all-time high occurred last March when 185,741 cars were sold – a rise of three per cent.

Retail sales to the end of March also reached a new high. Sales increased 5.3 per cent to 448,200, compared with 425,543 units previously.

Monday 8 April 2013

World's first CGI gasoline engine

The world’s first high-volume gasoline engine with a compacted graphite iron (CGI) cylinder block will be launched within 12 months.

The new engine will be the world’s first highest-volume CGI engine. It will also establish a new benchmark for packaging, size, performance and refinement.

SinterCast, which develops and produces specialised process control technology that enables production of high-quality CGI material, has confirmed what many in the powertrain industry have suspected for some time – that a major OEM is about to launch a gasoline engine with a CGI cylinder block.

Friday 5 April 2013

JLR sales up 20 per cent

JaguarLandRover in the UK has reported its highest March sales month, thanks to new product and continued strong demand. The company sold 17,773 vehicles in the UK in March, compared to 14,789 in March 2012 - an increase of 20%.

Land Rover’s sales success was led by the all-new Range Rover and the Land Rover Freelander, up 43% and 45% respectively. The Range Rover Evoque continued to perform strongly, up 9%.

In March, Land Rover sold 14,268 vehicles, up 12 per cent year-on-year. In fact, Land Rover posted its highest ever monthly sales in its entire 65-year history.

Thursday 4 April 2013

Karen evolves low-cost city car

Scoop - World exclusive

Tom Karen, creator of the 1970s Bond bug, has devised a new three-seat mini car that can be produced cheaply in developing countries.

“My proposition is that that there is room for a small vehicle which is more original, simple, more eco-friendly and with a ‘wow’ factor,” Karen told autoindustrynewsletter. “A car for tomorrow.”

The vehicle, Karen calls it Buzz, has two wheels at the front and closely paired wheels at the back.