Suppliers are integral to new technology in the auto industry to an extent not true since the early years of the 20th century, when ventures such as Ford began as mere assemblers, not manufacturers. That will be highlighted on Monday at the 21st PACE “academy awards” for supplier innovation. (For those not in the know, Monday’s the opening night of the SAE [Society of Automotive Engineers] in Detroit.)
Aside from the great friendships forced via encouraged bribing that naturally occur when like-minded people congregate, the 24 Hours of LeMons is a fantastic opportunity for those wearing a Judge’s robe. Take last month’s race at Eagles Canyon Raceway: when stupid (yet purposeful) things like this Flavor Flav clock on the dash of this Mitsubishi Eclipse arrive, I can’t help feeling like I’m hosting “Pimp My Ride LeMons” edition…
While Xzibit makes hilarious faces/comments as the kids talk about their hooptie’s general crappiness, I just snap a photo and begin judging them…so click the link to see more hilarity. (Read More…)
The problem with driving at night in the raining or snowing conditions is that your headlights work too well. They light up the rain and snow as much as they illuminate the road ahead, sometimes more so. In a novel approach using cameras, computers and DLP projectors to replace conventional headlight bulbs, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a “smart” headlight system that essentially shines light between the rain drops.
“Ask an Engineer” is hosted by Andrew Bell, a mechanical engineer and car enthusiast. Andrew has his MASc in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Toronto, and has worked on Formula SAE teams, as well as alternative fuel technologies in Denmark and Canada. Andrew’s column will explore engineering topics in the most accessible manner possible.
I am a mechanical engineering student looking to learn how to work on cars.
My friend has given me the opportunity to take his 1988 Mazda B2200 extra-cab 5-speed. When I drove it, I saw why. The catalytic converter has broken off, and apparently pieces of it are in the exhaust. Would it be possible to just replace the catalytic converter, or should I replace the whole exhaust?
Need an engineering project? Got 1,200 hours to kill with nothing to do? Take a tip from this heroically patient Spaniard, and hand-machine your own tiny (12 cc displacement) V12. This would be amazing feat of handwork even if it weren’t fully operational (using compressed air injection), but the fact that it works, runs and was made without a single CNC machine is nothing short of astounding.. If, as the book suggests, Shop Class is Soulcraft, this guy is like an engineering bodhisattva, inspiring us with his precision, patience and skill. In a world where not much is made by hand anymore, this achievement is worth taking a few minutes to marvel over… [Hat Tip: Dean Huston]
I love the column and I’m a daily TTAC reader, though I rarely comment. We have been a Panther household since the mid nineties, and have had great luck with our vehicles thus far. My parents had two ex-Budget rental Town Cars, a white ’93 with blue interior, and a medium willow green ’96 with that greyish-beige. I had a pearlescent silver ’91 in high school with black interior and a black canvas top (I added ’02 Cartier wheels , P71 front springs, and a dual exhaust with turbo mufflers). All were zero-problem vehicles. Which brings us to our current Town Car, an ’07 Signature Limited, fresh out of warranty, which is also an ex-rental, but I do not know which company.
Yesterday we gave GM kudos for addressing its lingering vehicle weight issues by redesigning the head of its popular 3.6 liter V6, and shedding 13 lbs in the process. It was, we noted, the kind of news that showed GM is staying focused on the nitty-gritty of product development, sweating the details. But, according to a fascinating piece by GMInsideNews, new-product development at GM still has its issues. Specifically, Cadillac’s development of a new BMW 3-Series fighter, known as ATS after its “Alpha” Platform, has faced more than its fair share of what GMI calls “drama.”
Turf battles, unnecessary “wants” on checklists and ultimately a severe case of “Mission Creep” have created a vehicle that now needs a crash diet, according to GMI’s sources both within GM and at suppliers working on the Alpha/ATS program. For a vehicle that’s taking on an institution like the BMW Dreier (not to mention costing a billion dollars to develop), these are troubling signs indeed. (Read More…)
One of the most consistent and valid criticisms of GM’s product development, even in the post-Lutz era, is the class-leading weight that so many new GM products carry around with them. To a number of industry observers, the lingering weight problem that so many of GM’s cars struggle with is a sign of corners cut in the design process. GM’s cars may look, feel and drive better than they did five, let alone ten, years ago, but clearly the battle for truly “world class” products isn’t over.
And now we’re getting some of the first indications that GM is taking the weight issue seriously, as GreenCarCongress reports that GM’s engineers have pulled 13 lbs out of its 3.6 liter direct-injected V6 simply by redesigning its head. Given that the 3.6 is already one of GM’s better engines, and is used in a huge number of its vehicles, that’s a solid first step as The General takes on the battle of the bulge.