You can’t please all the people all the time, no matter how hard you try. Tesla Model S owner Pete Cordaro tells Daily Kanban the left front ball joint of his car became separated from the upper control arm while driving slowly on a dirt road. He reports that NHTSA told him the ball joint was of poor quality and failed prematurely. Cordaro claims that Tesla was willing to split the cost of repair with him but only if he signed a non-disclosure agreement saying he would not report the issue to federal authorities.
I took the Chevy Volt to an autocross today. Not to compete; just to show the flag, so to speak. I was curious what certified gearheads would have to say about Chevrolet’s first electric car. Would they reject it? Make rude comments? Exclude me all together?
The Formula 1 circus has descended on Hockenheim for the 2014 running of the German Grand Prix – and the word of the weekend is FRIC. FRIC stands for “Front/Rear Inter-Connected”, and describes a complicated suspension system that works to keep a Formula 1 car’s chassis level to the ground under braking, acceleration, and cornering. FRIC looks like this …
… helps the cars to generate aerodynamic downforce, while giving drivers a degree of control over how the car changes attitude at speed as the downforce increases.
Or, rather, it did do those things.
As of this weekend, FRIC suspensions have been banned in Formula 1, and it looks like the hitherto dominant Mercedes/AMG Hybrid team has suffered worst for it. Granted, they’re still the fastest cars in the field by virtue of their innovative “split” turbocharged engine, but their cars are much harder to drive – just ask 2008 World Drivers’ Champion Lewis Hamilton, who lost control of his Benz under braking in Q1, bringing out a red flag and putting himself, more or less, out of contention for the overall win in tomorrow’s race.
One team that seems to have greatly improved its odds of winning FRIC-free is McLaren, who managed to put rookie driver Kevin Magnussen into P4, just ahead of Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull. The Williams duo of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, too, seem to be nipping at the heals of would-be champion Rosberg – but do they have the race pace to keep the pressure on him?
We’ll find out tomorrow. Until then, you can see how Hockenheim’s qualifying sessions played out for everyone else, below. Enjoy!
|Driver No.||Driver||Team||Grid Pos.|
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing-Renault||5|
|1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||6|
|27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||9|
|11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||10|
Electric vehicles and hybrids can utilize energy-recapturing technologies that boost range and efficiency unlike conventional cars. The most common form of this is the regenerative braking, using the electric motor rather than brakes to recapture energy. Auto parts maker ZF, in conjunction with Levant Power Corp., is adding a new concept to the equation; an energy-recapturing suspension.
The concept is similar to other ideas like energy-recapturing speed bumps, employ active dampers and new valve technology to regulate an eletrohydraulic pump that powers a small electric motor. During driving, when the car sways and bounces, the kinetic energy can be recaptured and converted into electricity. The rougher the road, the more power generated.
But that’s not the only advantage of this new suspension system. The GenShock suspension can provide luxury car comfort with sports car-like handling, and can even individually raise a wheel to allow drivers to change a tire, no jack needed. Talk about 21st-century technology.
This simple concept is likely to solve the world’s energy woes, but it could one day become an integral part of a new generation of hybrid and electric vehicles. ZF’s Continuous Damping Control suspension was launched in 1994, and has been produced for some 14 million vehicles so far. Eventually the inherent advantages of electric vehicles and hybrids utilizing this new kind of technology could give electric vehicles a range that even diesel cars can’t match, along with fast-charging and battery-swapping options to get EVs back on the road even faster.
It’ll be awhile before we start to see this technology go mainstream. But automakers will eventually need to employ all sorts of new technologies to hit the lofty fuel economy and emissions goals set by many nations.
The bike you see here is powered by compressed air, generates no harmful emissions, and – in all likelihood – will never get past the design phase … but what a design!
A student design project by Darren Kuo, the Revolver isn’t a gas/air hybrid – it’s built around a revolving (I get it!) chamber powered that spins by virtue of “pure” compressed air. That compressed air “engine” is what propels the bike forward, but even if you take away the über-düper “green” aspect of Kuo’s compressed air engine, there is a beauty and delicacy in the front suspension design that somehow eluded the Bimota Tesi and even the ultra-lithe, Yamaha-based RATZ 250 from motorcycle suspension guru James Parker.
Bringing the Revolver to a halt is the task of massive Brembo calipers up front, with a single caliper at the rear – typical World Superbike stuff, in other words, and straight-up brake pr0n for the type of people who say things like “brake pr0n”, I asure you.
There’s no word (that I could find) on projected speed, range, etc. of the compressed air Revolver, but all it wouldn’t need much to earn its keep as a dedicated track bike or “motorcycle school” trainer.
As far as electric cars go, the Nissan Leaf is pretty much the top dog as it is. Some car reviewers have labeled it more appliance than automobile, and traditional outlets like Car & Driver haven’t minced words when it comes to the Leaf’s track performance. But Car & Driver actually went a step further, and attempted to do something a bit different; they wanted to see if they could make the Leaf more fun to drive, and in the process they brought its performance up to Porsche 911 levels.
I should qualify that statement by saying that they brought the lateral acceleration, i.e. the “skidpad” performance, up to Porsche levels. And they did this by simply switching out the Leaf’s stock Ecopia low-rolling resistence tires for some stickier rubber. We’ve already seen what a difference a few tire and suspension upgrades can do for the Leaf on the autocross track, so there seems to be at least some interest in improving the driving dynamics of the stock Leaf.
C&D found that by simply swapping out the stock Ecopia rubber for a set of Yokohama S.drive tires (which cost about $10 less per tire than the Ecopia) will improve the skidpad performance from .79 g’s to .84 g’s. Going up to Yokohama Advan Neova ADO8 added another .05 g’s, bringing lateral acceleration up to .89 g’s.
That’s actually an incredible step up in performance, though how much the range is affected, C&D does not test. They do however test the BF Goodrich g-Force R1, a barely street legal performance tire that boosts lateral acceleration to .96 g’s, nearly matching that of the Porsche 911 or the performance-oriented BMW M1 Coupe. Obviously much of the credit lies with the tire…but it also shows how nimble and fun to drive the electric Nissan Leaf can be with the investment of some new tires.
I don’t expect the Leaf to replace the Miata at track days any time soon, but I do hope more people start giving EV’s a chance to play at the track. The performance might surprise more than a few skeptics.
Source: Car & Driver
No one with any knowledge of electric vehicles can deny the fact that electric motors hold a lot of performance potential. The instant and incredible torque produced by electric motors can produce some fun cars, such as the Tesla Roadster…though right now most automakers seem more concerned with range, not speed. But that hasn’t stopped some Nissan Leaf owners from taking their electric cars out on to the track for a little test and tune.
It’s no secret that the Nissan Leaf isn’t exactly a fast car…but then again, neither is the Mazda Miata, a car that has been the staple of autocrossing events since it debuted over two decades ago. With all that instant torque and a low center of gravity, the Nissan Leaf actually makes for a fun little autocross car, as the video below shows.
The aftermarket parts industry hasn’t exactly responded with much vigor for the Nissan Leaf, as there is no doubt a lack of demand for performance parts. However, the driver of this video got creative, no doubt borrowing parts from the Nissan Versa, upon which the Leaf is based. With the Tein spring and damper upgrades, the owner was able to make the suspension a bit stiffer, which results in a bumpier ride but much tighter handling.
With traction control off, the driver was able to complete the autocross course in about 47 seconds. That is faster than some cars, though most vehicles were completing the course were anywhere from 2 to 7 seconds faster. But if you ask me, anyone with the cajones to race a Nissan Leaf deserves a salute, and hopefully more EV owners will follow suit as electric cars catch on with the masses. Nissan has already taken a stock Leaf up Pikes Peak, and is working on a rear-wheel driving NISMO racing version of the Leaf. Eventually, Nissan and other automakers will start delivering affordable electric sports cars…and that is when the real fun begins.
Source: YouTube via Green Car Reports
The Toyota Prius is the exact opposite of a performance car. Slow, fuel efficient, and with all the handling of a cabbage wagon. It wasn’t designed as a performance car, though that hasn’t stopped the Prius faithful from customizing their eggs in all sorts of ways, from wheels to body kits. The Prius is just like any other car in that regards; people will modify them any way they can.
Looking to capitalize on the ever-expanding Personalized Prius market, Toyota’s in-house tuning department has unveiled the TRD Prius PLUS Performance Package. So is the Prius no a real performer?