The Truth About Cars » Carbon Fiber http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 23 Oct 2014 04:02:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Carbon Fiber http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Projects In Germany, US Closer To Low-Cost Carbon Fiber Manufacturing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/projects-germany-us-closer-low-cost-carbon-fiber-manufacturing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/projects-germany-us-closer-low-cost-carbon-fiber-manufacturing/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 10:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=931938 Though carbon fiber is being used more extensively in new vehicles, the high costs associated with building a vehicle out of the material have kept it to the likes of the Lexus LFA and BMW i Series. This could soon change, however. Bloomberg reports MAI Carbon Cluster Management GmbH, with financial backing from BMW, Audi, […]

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Though carbon fiber is being used more extensively in new vehicles, the high costs associated with building a vehicle out of the material have kept it to the likes of the Lexus LFA and BMW i Series. This could soon change, however.

Bloomberg reports MAI Carbon Cluster Management GmbH, with financial backing from BMW, Audi, Airbus, Siemens and around 70 other manufacturers, have made progress on reducing the cost of carbon fiber, with the goal of slashing 90 percent of the total cost. Klaus Drechler, head of the €80 million ($102 million USD) project, as well as professor at the Technical University of Munich, explains:

We’ve certainly reached a halfway point on our cost-cutting target for suitable carbon-fiber parts. We’ll see a lot more carbon-fiber use in the next generation of cars. The key is to really drive automation [in production]. There are different scenarios about how carmakers can use carbon fiber — extensively like BMW, with a carbon-fiber chassis, or with smaller components.

Similar cost-reduction efforts are being carried out in the United States at the Oak Ridge Carbon Fiber Composites Consortium in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The consortium, established in 2011, has partnered with Ford, Dow Chemical and other companies in developing lower-cost carbon fiber materials.

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BMW Investing In A Carbon-Fiber Future Beyond i, M Brands http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/bmw-investing-in-a-carbon-fiber-future-beyond-i-m-brands/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/bmw-investing-in-a-carbon-fiber-future-beyond-i-m-brands/#comments Wed, 14 May 2014 10:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=820330 On the success of a first-year sell-out of the i8 and high demand for the i3, BMW is making an additional investment into its joint venture with SGL Group, with the intention of introducing carbon fiber into models beyond the i and M collections. Autoblog reports the automaker will inject $200 million into SGL Automotive […]

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On the success of a first-year sell-out of the i8 and high demand for the i3, BMW is making an additional investment into its joint venture with SGL Group, with the intention of introducing carbon fiber into models beyond the i and M collections.

Autoblog reports the automaker will inject $200 million into SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers in Moses Lake, Wash. — where the carbon fiber for both models of the i brand is produced — which will be used to boost production to 9,000 tons annually (from 3,000 tons currently) with the addition of four production lines to the two already in place, and bring 120 more employees for a total of 200. The expansion will make the Moses Lake facility the largest carbon fiber plant in the world when complete in early 2015.

As for where all of the carbon fiber will end up, BMW executive Dr. Klaus Draeger says the automaker will distribute the material to the rest of its overall lineup, a move that has always been in the cards according to BMW i communications manager Manuel Sattig:

Every idea, every technology, every revolution or new material that we came up with for BMW i eventually had to enable the rest of the BMW Group. Which means, yes, there is a plan to bring carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) to the rest of our fleet.

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2014 Beijing Auto Show: BMW’s “Vision Future Luxury” 9-Series Concept http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/2014-beijing-auto-show-bmws-vision-future-luxury-9-series-concept/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/2014-beijing-auto-show-bmws-vision-future-luxury-9-series-concept/#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 17:15:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=805714 Few companies are as competitive with each other as the German luxury brands. Now that Mercedes-Benz will be making the S600 Maybach edition of their S-Class fullsize sedan, BMW is responding wtih their own flagship, the Vision Future Luxury concept, introduced at the Beijing auto show on Sunday. Since Vision Future Luxury doesn’t quite fit BMW’s […]

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Few companies are as competitive with each other as the German luxury brands. Now that Mercedes-Benz will be making the S600 Maybach edition of their S-Class fullsize sedan, BMW is responding wtih their own flagship, the Vision Future Luxury concept, introduced at the Beijing auto show on Sunday. Since Vision Future Luxury doesn’t quite fit BMW’s alphanumeric nomenclature, when it goes on sale in 2016, it will likely be known as the 9-Series, though some have suggested that it will revive the 8-Series nameplate or even be the basis of the next 7.  The Neuner will be the largest car that BMW offers, with a total length of about 216 inches (5,500 mm), making it about 11 inches longer than even the long wheelbase versions of the 7-Series. Wealthy Chinese prefer to be driven, one reason for the concept’s debut in Beijing.

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If it goes into production, the 9 series will be BMW’s largest model with a length of about 5500mm (216 inches), about 280mm more than the long-wheelbase 7 series. The extra length will boost the car’s appeal in markets such as China where most top executives have chauffeurs.

BMW is applying the carbon fiber expertise they are gaining with their electric i3 and i8 programs to the Vision Future Luxury concept, most notably where short carbon fiber bars from the room to the belt line replace the full length conventional B-pillars that normally sit between the front and back doors in four door cars.

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When the suicide style doors are opened, you can see that the pillar’s carbon fiber structure is part of a load bearing structural molding that includes the seat frame and is integrated into the door sills. The way the molding is contoured, with the doors open it looks as though there is no lower pillar and it allows easier access to the back seat. It also allows the use of lighter weight doors than on other cars with no visible B pillar, like BMW’s 7 Series based Rolls-Royce Ghost, while still providing adequate body rigidity and side impact protection. Weight savings is the rationale for using what BMW called “subtractive modeling” in the manufacture of interior parts. Thin layers of carbon fabric or aluminum are bonded with similarly thin veneers of wood or leather to create lightweight interior trim pieces.

There are separate touch-sensitive display screens for the driver and front passenger and information can be exchanged between them. That way applications like making dinner reservations or buying tickets via the BMW ConnectedDrive Luxury Concierge service can be handled by the passenger without having to distract the driver. Two more displays are in the back, mounted in carbon fiber housings with their own detachable touch command tablet. Rear seat passengers can communicate with the front seat displays and also access ConnectedDrive services like video and music streaming.

While the trick carbon fiber B-pillar will likely not make it to production, the electronic gizmos probably will.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Volvo Capacitive Carbon Fiber Panels Could Replace Batteries, Save Weight In EVs & Conventional Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/volvo-capacitive-carbon-fiber-panels-could-replace-batteries-save-weight-in-evs-conventional-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/volvo-capacitive-carbon-fiber-panels-could-replace-batteries-save-weight-in-evs-conventional-cars/#comments Thu, 24 Oct 2013 10:30:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=632762 BMW is using carbon fiber composite unibodies for the electric i3 and i8 models to reduce their weight, thereby increasing their range. Now, Volvo is using carbon fiber in a novel way for EVs. Using carbon fiber it has developed a composite material that acts as a capacitor, storing electrical energy, so theoretically body panels […]

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That CFRP cowl panel is really storing electricity.

BMW is using carbon fiber composite unibodies for the electric i3 and i8 models to reduce their weight, thereby increasing their range. Now, Volvo is using carbon fiber in a novel way for EVs. Using carbon fiber it has developed a composite material that acts as a capacitor, storing electrical energy, so theoretically body panels and structural components could act as battery equivalents. Unlike conventional batteries, which add weight to a vehicle, the carbon fiber capacitive body panels wouldn’t just power the vehicles but also reduce weight.

To demonstrate the technology, Volvo replaced the the trunk lid, door panels, cowl, and hood of an S80 with the new composite. The panels are made of multiple layers of carbon fiber, insulated from each other with layers of fiberglass. The fiberglass acts as a dielectric with the layers of carbon fiber performing the tasks of the anode and cathode in a conventional capacitor.

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Volvo estimates that replacing an EV’s entire battery pack with capacitive panels would reduce total vehicle weight by 15%.  It would also help in packaging. One criticism of the Chevy Volt is that its large centrally mounted battery pack turns a five passenger platform into a four passenger car. If the car’s structure is the power source, space formerly used for batteries can be put to better use.

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There are possibilities for conventional vehicles as well, with the potential to replace the heavy 12 volt starter battery with just a few capacitive carbon fiber panels.

There are possible drawbacks, including cost and safety. Carbon fiber is expensive to work with so panels would be costly to make and to replace. Also, in the event of a collision that damages the panels’ electrical safety could be a concern.

As usual, there was no world on when, or if, this technology will ever see its way to a production vehicle.

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A Look at BMW Carbon Fiber Production for the i3 Electric Car http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/a-look-at-bmw-carbon-fiber-production-for-the-i3-electric-car/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/a-look-at-bmw-carbon-fiber-production-for-the-i3-electric-car/#comments Thu, 17 Oct 2013 13:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=625113 One of our readers, Noble713, commenting on a news items about the BMW i3, asked if TTAC could provide more coverage on BMW’s carbon fiber productions methods. The i3 EV, and upcoming i8, are built upon CFRP structures. Weight is the enemy of electric vehicles. The more weight you can take out of the actual […]

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Click here to view the embedded video.

One of our readers, Noble713, commenting on a news items about the BMW i3, asked if TTAC could provide more coverage on BMW’s carbon fiber productions methods. The i3 EV, and upcoming i8, are built upon CFRP structures. Weight is the enemy of electric vehicles. The more weight you can take out of the actual structure of the car, the more battery cells you can carry for more power and better range, hence BMW turning to carbon fiber. It turns out that BMW has released a series of videos (bilingual, wait for the English) on that very topic. Their CFRP production uses materials made by SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers, a joint venture between the BMW and SGL groups and the effort spans the globe. SGL has expertise in carbon fiber and in 2011 BMW took a 15% stake in the company. Pure polyacrylonitrile fibers are made by Mitsubishi Rayon Co. in Japan and shipped to a state of the art SGL ACF factory in Moses Lake, Washington, where the PAN fibers are first oxidized and then baked into carbon. Wound on spools, the raw carbon fiber is shipped to a SGL ACF facility in Wackersdorf, Germany, were the carbon fibers are woven (actually sewn) into fabrics. The fabrics in turn go to BMW’s Landshut facility were they are laminated in the proper orientations, resins are added, patterns are cut and the finished parts are molded.

Click here to view the embedded video.

BMW has been publicizing how environmentally sensitive their CFRP manufacturing is, stressing how the Washington state facility is powered by renewable hydro power.

While carbon fiber is regarded as almost magical stuff because of its superior strength to weight ratio and the ability to orient the fabric so the resulting parts are stiff in some directions and flexible in other directions, it is still relatively costly to work with, compared to aluminum and steel. Like the CFRP shop at Toyota’s LFA works, BMW is using carbon fiber for the i3 and i8 not just because of those inherent characteristics but also so they can develop processes for the inexpensive mass production of CFRP parts.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Strong Demand Has BMW Considering Increase in i3 EV Production as Carbon Fiber Problems Delay Builds http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/strong-demand-has-bmw-considering-increase-in-i3-ev-production-as-carbon-fiber-problems-delay-builds/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/strong-demand-has-bmw-considering-increase-in-i3-ev-production-as-carbon-fiber-problems-delay-builds/#comments Tue, 15 Oct 2013 17:46:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=624177 With demand for its i3 EV surpassing BMW’s expectations, the company’s chief financial officer, Friedrich Eichiner, told Bloomberg that the company is considering increasing production of the electric car. Though retail deliveries will not start until next month, over 8,000 orders have been booked so far. Originally, BMW hoped to sell about 10,000 i3s in 2014, but […]

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With demand for its i3 EV surpassing BMW’s expectations, the company’s chief financial officer, Friedrich Eichiner, told Bloomberg that the company is considering increasing production of the electric car. Though retail deliveries will not start until next month, over 8,000 orders have been booked so far. Originally, BMW hoped to sell about 10,000 i3s in 2014, but if demand stays high, the company “will adjust capacity according to demand,” Eichiner said at an Amsterdam press conference yesterday. “If demand holds, which is what it’s looking like, we will soon have to invest more.”

At a cost of 34,950 euros in Germany and $41,350 in the United States, the i3 goes on sale in it home market on November 16th, and sometime in the first half of 2014 in the American, Chinese and Japanese markets. The rollout of the new EV will continue as planned, Eichiner said, and that the launch will not be affected by normal rollout issues, a reference to a report in Germany over the weekend that BMW is having production issues with the EV’s advanced carbon fiber structure.

The Wirtschaftswoche publication reported a 10 day production halt for the i3 due to problems bonding the composite material. BMW has a dedicated plant in North America for producing carbon fiber components for the i3 and the upcoming i8 electric sports car.

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Alfa Romeo 4C Narrowly Avoids The Ton http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/alfa-romeo-4c-narrowly-avoids-the-ton/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/alfa-romeo-4c-narrowly-avoids-the-ton/#comments Tue, 11 Jun 2013 19:18:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=491656 We all knew that the Alfa Romeo 4C was going to be light, but the recently announced curb  (looks like it’s the dry weight) weight of 1969 lbs is unprecedentedly svelte in this era. That’s the same weight as a Lotus Elise or a Volkswagen Up! That  237 horsepower turbo 4-cylinder doesn’t seem so puny anymore, […]

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We all knew that the Alfa Romeo 4C was going to be light, but the recently announced curb  (looks like it’s the dry weight) weight of 1969 lbs is unprecedentedly svelte in this era. That’s the same weight as a Lotus Elise or a Volkswagen Up! That  237 horsepower turbo 4-cylinder doesn’t seem so puny anymore, does it?

The carbon monocoque being used by McLaren weighs in at a mere 143 lbs – less than the average adult male. Other tricks like thinner glass and special plastic for the front and rear bumpers also help trim weight. Best of all, the car’s bodywork and monocoque are impervious to corrosion, so if you’re a special grade of crazy (or brave), only a set of snow tires stands between you and winter driving. How about a ski rack mounted over the rear, like James Bond’s Lotus Esprit?

On the performance front, Alfa Romeo is said to be expecting a 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds – a few tenths quicker than a PDK-equipped Porsche Cayman S, which weighs 880 lbs more and has 88 more horsepower. Unlike other Alfas, the 4C gets a 25 mile shakedown to ensure everything functions properly prior to delivery. Leave your best reliability joke in the comments.

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Fiber Fever: Carbon Goes Mainstream http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/fiber-fever-carbon-goes-mainstream/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/fiber-fever-carbon-goes-mainstream/#comments Thu, 12 Apr 2012 13:51:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=439563 For a long time, carbon fiber was a high tech, high cost product. Slowly, carbon fiber is going mainstream. From Volkswagen to Toyota and GM, large automakers have carbon fiber projects in the works. Now, Ford is joining the bandwagon made from lightweight fiber. Ford  joined up with fiber specialist Dow Chemical “to develop cost-effective […]

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For a long time, carbon fiber was a high tech, high cost product. Slowly, carbon fiber is going mainstream. From Volkswagen to Toyota and GM, large automakers have carbon fiber projects in the works. Now, Ford is joining the bandwagon made from lightweight fiber.

Ford  joined up with fiber specialist Dow Chemical “to develop cost-effective ways of using carbon fiber in high-volume cars and trucks as the No.2 U.S. automaker moves to cut vehicle weight to improve overall fuel economy,” Reuters writes.

Shedding weight is one of the most efficient ways to increase fuel economy. If you don’t have to drag around superfluous weight, your car will go farther on a tank of gas, or a fully charged battery for that matter. By 2020, Ford aims to cut between 250 pounds and 750 pounds from its new cars and trucks, partly by using lighter materials.

Using carbon fiber instead of steel can lower the weight of a vehicle component by up to 50 percent, says to the U.S. Department of Energy. Cutting a car’s weight by 10 percent can improve fuel economy by as much as 8 percent.

The biggest problem is cost: These space-aged materials command spaced-out prices. Bringing cost and weight down is the biggest challenge.

 

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Review: 2012 Jaguar XKR-S http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/review-2012-jaguar-xkr-s/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/review-2012-jaguar-xkr-s/#comments Thu, 15 Mar 2012 16:02:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=434160 At 7 years old, the XK isn’t a kitten anymore – but with a rumored 3 years until the next redesign, what’s a luxury marque to do? Make special editions, of course. On the surface, the XKR-S looks like a baby-boomer dressed like a teenager, or as the Brits put it: mutton dressed as lamb. […]

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At 7 years old, the XK isn’t a kitten anymore – but with a rumored 3 years until the next redesign, what’s a luxury marque to do? Make special editions, of course. On the surface, the XKR-S looks like a baby-boomer dressed like a teenager, or as the Brits put it: mutton dressed as lamb.

Click here to view the embedded video.

The XKR (reviewed last year) looks like sex, in a discrete, black-tie/coquettish sort of way. The XKR-S ditches subtle for brash; hood scoops, large hood vents, enlarged grille, carbon fiber splitter, carbon fiber spoiler, blacked-out trim (chrome is a $4,000 option), and bespoke 20-inch alloy wheels with 255-width Pirelli rubber up front and 295s out back are all part of this exclusive package (only 100 will be sent to America). There’s also a straked diffuser with dual exhausts, special badging and some crazy-looking vents at the leading edge of the front wheel well to improve brake cooling. Oh, and the front bumper seems to have been designed to look like a frown. Moderation is a Jaguar virtue and thankfully the R-S’s chassis is lowered by a scant 0.38 inches meaning we had no problems with steep driveways and speed bumps. So is it all-show-and-no-go? Far from it. All the aero tweaks put together reduce lift by 26%  and make the lift more even fore/aft than in the XKR.

Under the hood growls a lightly modified 5.0L supercharged V8 from the XKR. The quad-cam engine features direct injection, continuously variable valve timing, and a thoroughly modern twin-vortex Roots-type supercharger with twin air-to-water intercoolers tucked under the plastic vanity cover. Should you wish to accessorize your engine bay, Jaguar will swap that cover for one in carbon fiber for a cool $2,000. While the XKR, XFR and XJ Supersport have to make do with only 510HP/461lb-ft from this engine, the “-S” (and $34,000) buys an extra 40 ponies and 41lb-ft. You also get a revised exhaust, a tweaked 6-speed ZF automatic, sportier programming for the active suspension and electronic differential and a host of suspension changes, including fully machined steering knuckles (that increase caster and camber stiffness), increased steering effort, improved steering feedback, and 28% stiffer spring rates.

Back to those 550 horses. The only Porsche in this rarefied club is the Panamera Turbo S, while the only Aston is the One-77. BMW’s M5 and M6 put out 560, and from the bow-tie brand, only the Corvette ZR1 and Camaro ZL1 are more powerful.

The exterior and engine may have been reworked, but on the inside the “-S” boils down to some trim, some modified seats and a 190MPH speedo. In a strange twist, our tester was fitted with the “London Tan” interior, a standard color combo available on the lesser XKR. The XKR-S exclusive interiors are the better choice and feature “carbon fiber effect” leather trim, and bold-colored stitching and piping. The sport seats (optional on XKR) are designed to accommodate a 5-point harness, but aside from the fact they are standard and the “R-S” logos on the tiller and dash, you’d be hard pressed to tell the XKR-S and XKR apart inside. Speaking of not being able to tell the difference, the sport-grip-free steering wheel from the base XK and XF makes an encore in the XKR-S. While it’s not a bad tiller, it doesn’t feel as nice as new XJ’s wheel and the lack of ergonomic thumb grips keeps the XKR-S from feeling as sporty as the BMW and Mercedes competition.

While I’m complaining about the interior, let’s talk infotainment. 2012 has brought essentially no changes to the system shared with the Jaguar XF. The system is simple to use and well laid out but the lag between pressing a “button” and the system responding is long and screen changes are glacial. I appreciate minimalist design in theory, but in practice, putting controls like heated seats and a heated steering wheel in a sluggish system make them more aggravating than trying to stab the right button in a cluttered button bank. While some voice command systems have received harsh commentary from me in the past, I think even a lackluster system is better than none at all as we had to park the XKR-S to enter a navigation destination.

Like the XF, iPod and iPhone integration is well done, easy to use and allows essentially full access to your iDevices. While Mercedes’ COMAND is similarly ancient, Merc does allow voice entry of addresses. I’d like to compare the Jag system to BMW’s newest iDrive, but that’d be like comparing a Palm Pilot to an iPhone. Also on my complaint list is a sound system tuned so bright that even with the treble turned all the way down the Bowers & Wilkins system sounded unbalanced. I didn’t recall this problem in the XKR we drove last year with the same system, so it could be a problem unique to our tester.

Tech quibbles aside; the XKR-S’ raison d’être is not to Tweet or Facebook while commuting. The XKR-S was built for three things: going fast, screaming like a banshee and making passengers wet themselves. If I were a betting man, I’d say it was also designed with the recently announced 560HP M6 in its crosshairs. While the choice of an automatic may seem strange in a sports car, real-world drivability is greatly improved by having a torque converter. If you don’t believe me, just try to drive a Mercedes AMG with a “Speedshift” transmission in stop-and-go traffic up a steep hill. The XKR-S is a willing partner in the mountains, delivering rev-matched downshifts at the flick of a paddle accompanied by exhaust pops and a loud roar sure to spook any cyclists that may be in the middle of your lane. Should that startled tandem tumble, massive steel-and-aluminum monobloc calipers in your choice of red or black paired with upgraded pads and massive 15-inch vented front and 14.8 vented rear rotors stop the XKR-S in record time. Every time.

Jaguar tells us the XKR-S was tuned on the Nürburgring and runs a 7:50 lap in convertible form. Let’s put that in perspective. Over a 17.8 mile long course, an XKR-S will only run a few seconds behind a Ford GT, Lamborghini Gallardo, Lamborghini Murcielago, Ferrari 599 or a Porsche 911 GT3 RS. This shapely lump of hand-stitched leather posted a time faster than the previous generation M5, Ferrari F430, Panamera Turbo, Corvette Z06 and a wide variety of Aston Martins. With numbers like that it should come as no surprise that grip is excellent and limits are high. Aiding in your fun is a re-tuned stability nanny that has a track mode with higher limits than the XKR and a full-off mode should you dare. Yet, it’s not the grip that amused while flinging the XKR-S around the coastal mountains of Northern California, it was the acceleration which can only be described as savage. OK, maybe eye-popping. Possibly brutal. Definitely insane. Putting numbers to these adjectives, we clocked a 3.8 second run to 60 with massive wheel spin, smoke and severe intervention by the electronic differential and traction control software, but most importantly: no roll-out. Because that’s how we roll. Compared to the XKR we tested last year, this is a significant 0.7-0.8 second improvement.

While the XKR-S doesn’t claim to have launch control, we discovered the traction control systems and e-diff work best when you just nail the go-pedal from a stop rather than try to control wheel-spin on your own. Not worrying about lifting to maximize acceleration also allows you to enjoy the raucous noise bellowing out of the tailpipes. By the time the thrill of an automatic with DSG-like gear changes wore off and we did decide to lift, we were at 140 having blown well past the 12-second flat quarter-mile at 122MPH. Numbers like these are pointless without comparison. While the Panamera Turbo S may clock 3.6 second runs to 60 according to the auto-rags, those tests are often conducted with a roll-out. Besides, the XKR-S’s 122MPH 1/4 mile bests the 118 we clocked with a privately owned Panamera we were lent for a few hours.

While I hate to be speculative in any review, the XKR-S’s introduction just months before the new M6 begs at least an arm-chair comparison. A full M6 review will be posted when we can con one out of the Germans. For the rest of you, let’s start with the numbers. The new M6 may deliver 10 more horsepower than the XKR-S, but it is down 2lb-ft of torque compared with the Jag at peak. The curves indicate that BMW is putting some serious boost into their 4.4L V8 with peak power coming on a 6,000RPM and staying strong to 7,000 while peak torque happens at a very low 1,500RPM all the way to 5,750. Jag’s 5.0L engine created its maximum power from 6,000-6,500 RPM and peak torque from 2,500-5,500RPM. The XKR-S fights BMW’s broader bands with zero lag from its supercharger and a 260lb lower curb weight. Of course both Jaguar and BMW are known to quote conservative power figures, so this battle will continue on the track. The M6 will sport BMW’s 7-speed double clutch gearbox known for its fast changes, but I don’t expect it to be any smoother than the model used in the previous generation M5 making the XKR-s the better daily driver. Both the XKR-S and the M6 are similarly balanced in terms of weight, but the Jag wears skinnier rubber up front (255 vs the M6’s standard 265 width tires) and is slightly heavier in the nose, despite the lower curb weight. As a result I expect 0-60 runs will be very close with much of the variation down to the road surface and the final tire choice on the BMW.

 

Without a doubt, the XKR-S is a significant evolution of the standard car. Folksy Briticisms about mutton and lamb don’t apply here; the XKR-S is a predator, much like its feline namesake, and while the “space” part of William Lyons’ famous maxim may be missing, it makes up for it with “grace” and “pace” – lots and lots of it.

Jaguar provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-10: 0.65 Seconds

0-20: 1.14 Seconds

0-30: 1.18 Seconds

0-40: 2.61 Seconds

0-50: 3.24 Seconds

0-60: 3.83 Seconds

0-70: 4.98 Seconds

0-80: 6.06 Seconds

0-90: 7.12 Seconds

0-100: 8.42 Seconds

0-110: 10.17 Seconds

0-120: 11.84 Seconds

1/4 mile: 12.0 @ 122 MPH

xkrsthumb Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, cargo area, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Interior, driver's side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, rear tire, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, rear tire, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, rear wheel, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, front, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Interior, steering wheel, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Interior, steering wheel, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Interior, speedometer, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Interior, gauges, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Interior, gauges, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Interior, start button, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Interior, shifter, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Interior, shifter, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Interior, HVAC Controls, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Interior, driver's side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Engine, no cover, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Engine, 5.0L supercharged V8, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Engine, 5.0L supercharged V8, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Engine, 5.0L supercharged V8, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Engine, 5.0L supercharged V8, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Interior, seat controls, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Interior, passenger's side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Interior, R-S logo, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Interior, steering wheel, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, XKR & XKR-S side-by-side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, XKR & XKR-S side-by-side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, XKR & XKR-S side-by-side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, leaper logo, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, exhaust, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, brake cooling, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, hood vent, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, grille, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, headlamp, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, rear, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, front 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, side 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, spoiler, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, spoiler, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, spoiler, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, front wheel, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, side vent, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, headlamp, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, grille, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, front, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, rear, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, front side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, front 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

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Steel Industry: Replace Tailpipe Emissions Testing With Lifecycle Analysis http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/steel-industry-replace-tailpipe-emissions/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/steel-industry-replace-tailpipe-emissions/#comments Fri, 14 Oct 2011 17:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=414737 Light-weight materials such as carbon-fiber, aluminum and magnesium are widely touted as key components of the drive towards greater fuel economy. Which explains why the automotive steel supplier industry is suddenly calling for an end to tailpipe emissions testing and a switch to the more holistic life cycle analysis testing. According to a press release from WorldAutoSteel, […]

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Light-weight materials such as carbon-fiber, aluminum and magnesium are widely touted as key components of the drive towards greater fuel economy. Which explains why the automotive steel supplier industry is suddenly calling for an end to tailpipe emissions testing and a switch to the more holistic life cycle analysis testing. According to a press release from WorldAutoSteel, an industry group, the production of steel alternatives can create up to 20 times the carbon emissions of steel.

Director Cees ten Broek explains

When vehicle emissions assessments are focused solely on the emissions produced during the driving phase (tailpipe), it encourages the use of greenhouse gas-intensive materials in the effort to reduce vehicle weight and fuel consumption. However, this may have the unintended consequence of increasing greenhouse gas emissions during the vehicle’s total life cycle. Regulations that focus only on one part of the vehicle’s life cycle will become immediately out of date as the electric vehicle becomes more prominent on the road. We are only shifting the problem to other vehicle life cycle phases.

It’s always interesting to watch industries react when their self-interest suddenly aligns with idealism, but steel industry self-interest isn’t a reason to reject this idea out of hand. A study by the engineering firm Ricardo [PDF here] shows that as batteries and lightweight materials increase the amount of “embedded carbon” in cars, the production-side emissions are expected to reach 57% of life cycle emissions. In light of this trend, it’s not difficult to see why regulating tailpipe emissions alone makes little sense in a comprehensive carbon-regulation scheme. But, as the Ricardo study also shows, life cycle analysis is difficult and complicated. Imagining those complex calculations being fed into the complexity of a CAFE-style program literally makes the mind boggle.

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Carbon Fiber Vs. Carbon Dioxide: German Car Maker Risks A Big Gamble http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/11/carbon-fiber-vs-carbon-dioxide-german-car-maker-risks-a-big-gamble/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/11/carbon-fiber-vs-carbon-dioxide-german-car-maker-risks-a-big-gamble/#comments Sun, 07 Nov 2010 05:38:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=371709 Except for a lot of green talk, my German compatriots are not known for enthusiastically embracing the EV idea. Japan, even China is way ahead of them. Despite high gasoline costs (taxes, taxes), even hybrids are everything but runaway successes in the Fatherland. If Germans want to save, they buy a Diesel, or take the […]

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Except for a lot of green talk, my German compatriots are not known for enthusiastically embracing the EV idea. Japan, even China is way ahead of them. Despite high gasoline costs (taxes, taxes), even hybrids are everything but runaway successes in the Fatherland. If Germans want to save, they buy a Diesel, or take the train. But even the train isn’t the bargain it used to be. One car company bets big on Electric Vehicles. So big, that they built a whole new factory for them. You won’t believe who.

It’s BMW. With Chancellor Merkel in attendance, BMW started construction of a factory only for EVs. The plant is outside of Leipzig, and looks “like a stranded UFO,” as Die Welt reports. In 2013, the factory will churn out BMW’s EVs that currently go by the working title “Megacity Vehicle.” Instead of putting a battery and electric motors into a (more or less) existing vehicle, BMW will build a whole new vehicle around battery and electric motors. Or so they say.

Here is the big EV conundrum: The car has to lug a heavy battery around. Weight is the enemy of range. The bigger the battery, the bigger the weight. Can’t win. So BMW makes the car itself as light as possible. Instead of heavy steel, even instead of light aluminum, there will be carbon fiber. “Less weight, more range” taught CEO Reithofer the assembled press and luminaries, just in case they had slept during Newton. So get ready for a future that replaces carbon dioxide with carbon fiber.

BMW started a joint venture with SGL Carbon. They are building a factory in Washington State that will mass produce carbon fiber in an environmentally-friendly fashion. “When we make carbon fiber in our state, no harmful substances will be emitted into the air,” bragged Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire, who was also in attendance. Even the power to make the fiber is green: Hydroelectric power, there is one plus to all that rain in the Northwest.

Still, BMW has to deal with the usual problems that plague EVs. First, there is the nasty price. It won’t be cheap. But BMW customers usually don’t rely on social security. Then, there is range. Klaus Draeger, head of R& at BMW says it will go for 200km (124 miles) – no wonder it’s for megacities. Its range is barely enough for the M25, London’s ring road. In a true megacity, like Beijing, it will run out of juice before circumnavigating the 140mile long 6th Ring Road.

Then, there is a huge gamble: Currently, carbon fiber is obscenely expensive. Two to three times as dear as aluminum. Nearly 30 times as expensive than steel – if you go by weight. BMW is betting that the price of carbon fiber (and hopefully that of batteries) will come way down before they launch their Megacity Vehicle in 2013. If not, it will be a megadud.

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And Now For The Carbon Fiber Age http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/10/and-now-for-the-carbon-fiber-age/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/10/and-now-for-the-carbon-fiber-age/#comments Sun, 10 Oct 2010 07:58:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=368087 Producers of rolled steel and car manufacturers alike are casting a wary eye towards Japan. There, Toray Industries has developed technology, that, for the first time, allows carbon fiber to be used for mass produced auto bodies. According to The Nikkei [sub], Toray will start supplying Toyota and Fuji Heavy with carbon fiber for car […]

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Producers of rolled steel and car manufacturers alike are casting a wary eye towards Japan. There, Toray Industries has developed technology, that, for the first time, allows carbon fiber to be used for mass produced auto bodies. According to The Nikkei [sub], Toray will start supplying Toyota and Fuji Heavy with carbon fiber for car bodies later this year.

Carbon fiber has one third of the weight of steel. Newton told us long ago, that reduced heft is the key to improved fuel efficiency. There used to be one problem: Carbon fiber was outrageously expensive, it did cost about 20 times the price of steel. Toray’s technology narrows the delta to about five times – as a start.

After a severe plunge, the price of steel is on the rise again. If more carbon fiber is used, the cost will come down, and the gap will narrow.

Still, at 5 times the cost, carbon fiber remains a luxury item. Toyota will use carbon fiber for the hood and roof of the Lexus LFA, a luxury sports car that will finally go in series production in December. Fuji Heavy will offer roofs made from carbon fiber as an optional item for its standard-class sports car. Not quite “mass production.” Nevertheless, it’s a start.

Rolled steel for cars is an important business for steelmakers. It also has a feature car makers like: built-in obsolescence, called rust. Rust inhibitors have prolonged the life of cars, and stopped them from already rusting in the catalogue. However, eventually, rust will get to a steel body, and it will conveniently fall apart.  A body made from carbon fiber theoretically can live forever. Whether car makers want to live with that idea is a totally different question.

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BMW MegaCity EV Hides Much Bigger Find: Affordable Carbon Fiber http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/bmw-megacity-ev-hides-much-bigger-find-affordable-carbon-fiber/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/bmw-megacity-ev-hides-much-bigger-find-affordable-carbon-fiber/#comments Sat, 03 Jul 2010 12:27:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=360189 When word of the BMW EV called „MegaCity“ first made the rounds, our Ed Niedermeyer called it  “BMW’s long-rumored Neo-Isetta EV.” Now, BMW opened the first button of their electric blouse. At a presentation in the BMW museum, BMW showed first MegaCity drawings. The sketches were shown by BMWs chief designer Adrian van Hooydonk,  and […]

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When word of the BMW EV called „MegaCity“ first made the rounds, our Ed Niedermeyer called it  “BMW’s long-rumored Neo-Isetta EV.” Now, BMW opened the first button of their electric blouse.

At a presentation in the BMW museum, BMW showed first MegaCity drawings. The sketches were shown by BMWs chief designer Adrian van Hooydonk,  and by Benoit Jacobs, who’s the designer-in-charge for the project. Here is what Automobilwoche [sub] took away from the meeting:

  • The car will be built from carbon fiber, 50 percent lighter than steel, 30 percent lighter than aluminum. BMW has developed a process that makes carbon fiber much less expensive than before.
  • The carbon fiber is 100 percent recyclable and needs no painting.
  • This makes the car 100kg lighter, which compensates for the battery, which would make the car 100kg heavier.
  • The car will be launched 2013 under a BMW sub-brand

Affordable carbon fiber, something that is being worked on in Germany and in Japan, could be even more important for the future of the EV than battery technology. That battery is heavy, and ever since Newton made force, mass, and acceleration inseparable, weight loss  has been the key to power and range. That carbon fiber story might be much more interesting than the drawings. The real car never looks like the drawing anyway.

According to The Nikkei [sub], Japan’s “Toray is seeking to develop carbon fiber products for use in high-end vehicles in collaboration with Daimler AG by 2012. Mitsubishi Rayon is teaming up with German materials group SGL to make materials used in a BMW AG electric car due out in 2015. A limited-edition Toyota sports car slated to hit the market at year-end will use Toho Tenax’s material. The Teijin subsidiary has approached several carmakers with a prototype vehicle whose carbon fiber composite use makes it 60% lighter.”

The Teijin process sounds most interesting.  Teijin can process the material in just one minute.  Their material is 10 times stronger and 75 percent lighter than comparable metals, says the company.

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Ferrari Fights The Future http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/ferrari-fights-the-future/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/ferrari-fights-the-future/#comments Fri, 07 May 2010 15:46:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=355665 Despite breaking new ground in the field of brand leverage with its Ferrari World Abu Dhabi theme park, Ferrari does seem to have lost the plot a bit in relation to its “other” business building expensive sportscars. Ferrari’s abandonment of the manual transmission might be justified by faster lap times at Fiorano, and the lightning-fast, […]

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Despite breaking new ground in the field of brand leverage with its Ferrari World Abu Dhabi theme park, Ferrari does seem to have lost the plot a bit in relation to its “other” business building expensive sportscars. Ferrari’s abandonment of the manual transmission might be justified by faster lap times at Fiorano, and the lightning-fast, dual-wet-clutch transmissions that replace them certainly seem to help keep the Scuderia at the bleeding edge of technology (even if they’re designed and built by Getrag). But underlying the faster times, higher speeds and “digital supercar” honorifics from the motoring press, there’s a sense that Ferrari’s progress must accommodate an ever-more ambitious business plan as much as design the world’s most capable and emotive sportscars. And it’s starting to bear some troubling fruit.

With “mainstream luxury” brands like BMW and Mercedes publicly committing to increased carbon fiber content in their street cars, and Ferrari’s new competitor Mclaren Automotive building its 458-fighting MP4-12C around a carbon fiber tub, you might think that they’re feeling the heat in Maranello. Or should we say, feeling the weight: thanks to its carbon tub, the MP4-12C’s dry weight is a feathery 2,866 compared to the 458’s 3,042 lb number. As we’ll explore further in a moment, Ferrari is incredibly sensitive to issues of perception, so wouldn’t you reckon that a high-carbon-fiber diet might be on the menu at the sign of the prancing horse? Speaking to Autocar, Ferrari’s CEO Amedeo Felisa says not so much:

The fact is that nobody today has a real understanding of what happens if you damage a carbonfibre structure. After 20 or 30 years of use, who knows what state a carbonfibre structure will be in? Only the airplane industry has a long-term understanding of using carbonfibre, and there the usage is very different. Unless you have a really big accident, it is possible to repair a Ferrari today, and we don’t want to lose that.

OK, since when did the ability to repair your Ferrari outweigh the mission to make the most advanced, performance-oriented cars in the world? This is, after all, one of the most notorious brands in the world in terms of ownership experience. As Robert Farago once famously put it, you don’t really own a Ferrari, you just visit it when it’s not in the shop. So, why give up 175 lbs to the upstart MP4-12C, which is gunning for the heart of Ferrari’s sales volume? Apparently to protect the even higher-profit limited-edition Ferraris.

We will only use carbonfibre on very special cars which have a very low rate of production and which are not for everyday use, such as the new Enzo

After all, who wants to see your $650k+ flagship hypercar bearing the hallowed name of Enzo be beat around Fiorano by a mere $280k+ hotted-up “volume model” like the F430 Scuderia? It’s happened before, and Ferrari seems determined not to let it happen again… even if that means holding the V8 models back relative to their competition. And this theme of flattering the most deep-pocketed drivers at the expense of an across-the-board commitment to pure performance doesn’t end there. With direct-injection engine technology proliferating across the industry, the shift towards smaller displacements and forced-aspiration is occurring in every segment. And with Felisa “hinting” that the next Enzo (due in 2012) could have a turbocharged V8, Ferrari might have an opportunity to introduce a high-performance, turbo-V6, possibly in the 458’s replacement. But, says Felisa:

There are no plans for a six-cylinder engine today. Ferrari will not build a six-cylinder engine until customer attitudes towards smaller engines change. The perception today is that the number of cylinders equates to the possibilities of the car. That is why we are developing hybrid technology that can be applied to our V8 and V10 cars. Hybrid means we can protect the V12.

Ironically, Felisa complains elsewhere at Autocar that Ferrari planned on offering its first hybrid

In 2015, if we are forced to by the [government] regulations. The issue of emissions for Ferrari is more a political one than real one. Lowering emissions of every Ferrari will not save the planet, but it will cost us a lot of money

Forced. Right. Because downsizing and focusing on weight isn’t enough. Don’t get me wrong, a biggish front-engined GT like the 599GTB should be offered with a V12 for as long as possible, and if hybrid technology helps Ferrari keep a 12-pot in its stable a little longer then good for them. After all, Ferrari can’t abandon its brand simply because some former F1 upstarts are targeting their business. But part of that brand is performance, and if the MP4-12C catches the 458 napping (say, on a Top Gear power lap, or Youtube video, Ferrari will have given the boys from Woking a toehold on which to rebuild their brand. But then maybe a little competition is exactly what Ferrari needs to stop prioritizing nouveau-riche cylinder-count envy, and starving its volume models of technology like carbon fiber simply to protect its hypercars. After all, Enzo didn’t get into the global branding and amusement park business.

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Let There Be Light. Weight http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/let-there-be-light-weight/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/let-there-be-light-weight/#comments Wed, 28 Apr 2010 07:09:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=354515 When I was a kid copywriter on the Volkswagen account, grumpy but thorough VW engineers drummed one tenet of green into me: You don’t save gas with secret carburetors which the oil companies hide. You save by shedding weight. The less weight to push around, the less energy is needed to do the pushing. From […]

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When I was a kid copywriter on the Volkswagen account, grumpy but thorough VW engineers drummed one tenet of green into me: You don’t save gas with secret carburetors which the oil companies hide. You save by shedding weight. The less weight to push around, the less energy is needed to do the pushing. From the First Law of Thermodynamics to Einstein, all will agree. Like we agree on the need for a balanced diet. Then we go to the next Wendy’s, and order a triple Whopper. Despite the wisdom, cars tend to gain heft over the years like an erstwhile skinny Italian bella ragazza after the age of 30.

With tougher environmental regulations spreading across the globe, and CO2 mutating into a climate-ogre from something that used to provide the fizz in a soda, automakers remember the old engineering rule: Less weight, less gas, less crud.

The challenge is to build cars light and safe at the same time. It can be done. But it’s tricky. Building cars that dissipate energy during a crash is one part. Using lightweight, but strong materials is another.

“The ability of automakers to incorporate lightweight materials into their vehicles will go a long way toward determining their global competitiveness,” The Nikkei [sub] says.

Japan’s Toray entered a joint venture with Daimler to develop carbon fiber parts.

Toyota plans to introduce several new materials for its Lexus LFA sports car, slated to be ready to buy by the end of the year. Small windows will be from polycarbonate, 30 percent lighter than glass. The LFA will use carbon fiber inside and out.

Nissan has adopted aluminum alloys for the doors and roofs of its sports cars.

BMW AG joined up with SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers to produce carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic in the U.S.

Volkswagen is increasingly using aluminum for its luxury brands, such as Audi and Porsche.

However, shedding that heft comes at a hefty price. Literally. The new lightweight materials don’t come cheap. Nobody knows that better than Volkswagen. More than 10 years ago, in 1999, they launched the Lupo 3L, which had its name from the fact that it used only 3 liters of gas for 100 km. Which comes out to 78.4 mpg. (U.S. gallons, not the imperial stuff.) The car used light-weight aluminum and magnesium alloys and weighed-in at only 1,830 lb. Market research showed that the car would fly off the lot. Then it just stood there. It did not move. It was too expensive. For the same price, people got a bigger car with more oomph. The Lupo 3L was quickly buried. Critics said it was a green washing experiment. It wasn’t. They honestly meant it. But they overlooked another immutable law in the auto business: People love to save the planet when asked by a researcher. People love to get the best bang for the buck when it comes to buying.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: Can “Mansory” Be A Verb Now Edition? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-can-mansory-be-a-verb-now/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-can-mansory-be-a-verb-now/#comments Fri, 12 Mar 2010 01:10:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=348672 The post What’s Wrong With This Picture: Can “Mansory” Be A Verb Now Edition? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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