Polestar is Making Performance Vehicles

Volvo is working on developing a new performance brand of vehicles. The brand, Polestar, has big plans to create a series of electric hybrid luxury and performance vehicles that will be completely stand-alone from Volvo. The first vehicle, the Polestar 1, will be revealed in the next couple of years as a performance two-door sedan that seats four. The Polestar 1 will be primarily an electric powered vehicle, however will also have a small internal combustion engine for extended range. The Polestar 1 will have about 600 horsepower, about 740 ft-lb of torque, and will be designed as a true driver’s car with many high-performance features and sports car styling.  The 600 horsepower rating will come from a fully electric drivetrain that delivers power to the wheels with specialized torque vectoring technology that will allow the car to distribute wheel torque to individual wheels and reduce the likelihood of tire slippage during heavy acceleration. According to Polestar, the Polestar 1 will be the first car to incorporate specialized Ohlins electronically controlled suspension and the chassis will be super lightweight because it will be formed from sheets of carbon fiber. Polestar and Volvo are taking aim at a new generation of mid-sized electric or hybrid vehicles that provide high-performance and low emissions. Other vehicles in this category are being developed by major brands, however Tesla may be the only true competitor to Polestar when the Polestar 1 comes out until other manufacturers join in the competition. Polestar is developing the Polestar 1 on scalable architecture which will allow their engineers to share similar chassis and design concepts between several different models of vehicle. Polestar has plans to eventually offer other electric hybrid vehicles in their lineup, including a sport utility vehicle dubbed the Polestar 3. Production of the Polestar 1 will commence in China in time for a mid-2019 release date. -taken from www.sae.org

NHTSA Plans To Review Fuel Economy Regulations

Under new legislation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) may revise the regulations set forth for fuel economy by the year 2021. The revision would effectively lower the requirements that automakers produce vehicles that meet certain fuel economy numbers for each successive year. Currently, automakers are required to meet a fleet-wide fuel economy number that increases each year. This policy has been in effect since the Obama Administration started the program in 2012. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is proposing to set fuel economy requirements for automakers in 2021 and leave them at this value for four years, or until 2025. Effectively, fuel economy requirements, while progressing towards better efficiencies and lowering fossil fuel burning and carbon dioxide production, will be reduced in an attempt to ease the constraints on the automobile industry to produce more efficient cars. New Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt has also planned on reviewing the limits for environmental pollution around the same time period, however the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not adopted the same policies on carbon dioxide pollution as of yet. The level of vehicle pollution is increasing as the effective size of vehicles demanded by consumers in the United States increases, even with the increase in production of electric and hybrid vehicles. Consumers are attracted to big, expensive, excessive vehicles such as trucks and full-size sport utility vehicles more than small compact vehicles and sedans. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will provide more reviews of the effect of fuel economy and vehicle pollution levels within the next four to five years. Many high-level environmentally conscious executives oppose the idea of peeling back the current fuel economy standards due to the effect of further pollution causing significant environmental damage. Even further, some are hinting that the Trump administration is rolling back all pollution standards in an attempt to pad the pockets of Big Oil companies and automobile industry executives. -Taken from Green Car Reports

NHTSA is Developing Vehicle Communications

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is helping the automotive industry develop a new technology to help make cars safer. The technology is termed vehicle to vehicle (V2V) communications and it is being developed to provide vehicles with close-range communication abilities. Vehicle sensors have been focused on helping drivers determine where their vehicle is in relation to the surrounding environment. Rear backup cameras, vehicle sonar, lane departure warnings, and active emergency braking are all systems that assist the driver in knowing where their vehicle is in relation to other object. V2V communications is intended to enhance the abilities of current safety sensors by sending and receiving vehicle information between vehicles as they travel down the roadway. How does it work? Wireless transmitters and receivers located in each vehicle work to communicate vehicle information between the onboard vehicle and surrounding vehicles. The wireless transmitters can transmit data on vehicle speed and heading, and can also sense position of the vehicle in relation to other vehicles with the same sensor setups. The wireless signals are designed to detect and analyze vehicle information from other vehicles that are located nearby, to a proximity distance of about 300 meters. For example, a vehicle following another vehicle on the same roadway would detect information about the front vehicle’s speed or whether or not the front vehicle had begun emergency braking, providing the driver of the following vehicle with either a brake assist, or a noticeable warning as to the behavior of the front vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is expecting that the V2V systems will help increase vehicle safety and reduce the number of automobile crashes, however other uses for the system could be implemented as well. For example, detection of stolen vehicles could be sensed by vehicles surrounding the stolen vehicle. Information pertaining to the vehicle’s driver could also be shared between other vehicles. V2V communication will allow more vehicle and driver data to be collected which could benefit the entire transportation industry as a whole. -taken from NHTSA.gov

New Tool to Stop Texting While Driving

A disturbing trend has increased in the past few years with the rapid increase in cell phone usage: texting while driving. Not necessarily limited to just sending texts while driving a vehicle, texting while driving is defined as virtually any cell phone input by the driver while driving a vehicle that takes visual attention off the road. Even some popular smart phone based games that use an augmented reality for gameplay (think Pokemon Go or similar) require significant attention of the user and can still be played while a vehicle is in motion. Texting while driving is very dangerous to the driver and to those drivers nearby. A new form of technology is aimed at detecting when texting while driving has occurred and law enforcement agencies are interested in utilizing it. The technology, termed “Textalizing”, can detect whether or not a cell phone was used to send texts and whether or not the vehicle was moving while the texts were sent. The technology works in much the same way that law enforcement “breathalizers” work in that, after a traffic stop by a police officer, the officer requests that the driver submit their cell phone for a brief examination by the textalizer which analyzes the text messages that were recently sent and determines whether or not the phone was used by the driver, while driving. The technology behind the textalizer is being developed to help curb the rise in texting while driving. Many accidents occur due to driver distraction and texting while driving is especially distracting because it requires the person texting to take their eyes off the road for a prolonged period of time to focus on sending the texts. The textalizer technology still has a ways to go before it can be implemented by law enforcement agencies, though. Issues, such as determining who is actually texting if multiple people are in a vehicle, or whether or not hands free systems were used to send the texts, etc. still need to be properly addressed so that the textalizer can accurately detect distracted driving. -taken from www.npr.org

Ford Building a New Wind Tunnel

Ford Motor Company is planning on developing and building a large-scale wind tunnel facility at their Allen Park building complex in Allen Park, Michigan. Building of the wind tunnel is expected to begin fairly this year, and be completed around the end of 2019. The building project will cost approximately $200 million to execute and Ford is expecting to include several advanced environmental testing environments as part of the wind tunnel. The testing environments that are part of the design of the wind tunnel include a “rolling road” system that is designed to simulate vehicle-to-roadway travel as the vehicle sits stationary in the wind tunnel. The rolling road is expected to assist in testing real-world vehicle dynamics and behavior without having to remove the vehicle from a controlled test environment. In other words, the test facility will “bring the road to the vehicle, instead of bringing the vehicle to the road”. The test facility will also include the capability to control environmental temperature during vehicle testing. The temperature will be controllable at any temperature between minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The wind speed in the wind tunnel will also be able to simulate real-world drag testing up to over 200 mph. Ford expects that their new supercar model, the Ford GT, will require aerodynamic testing up to the limits of the new wind tunnel. Ford will use a 13-acre parcel of land, next to their existing Ford Drivability Test Facility, for the location of their new wind tunnel. Ford is expecting new vehicle models to require advanced aerodynamic testing because of new fuel economy requirements set forth by the EPA. With new fuel economy requirements also comes improved performance and efficiency from new product lineups to allow Ford to remain a top producer of domestic automobiles in the United States. Taken from Detroit News

New Technology to Increase Fuel Economy

An exciting new technology is being developed by scientists at Sandia National Laboratories that shows great promise in improving fuel economy in passenger vehicles. Its called Low-temperature gasoline combustion (LTGC) and the technology deals with altering the fuel combustion in gasoline powered engines to operate at lower temperatures. Spark ignition engines, commonly found in passenger vehicles across the globe, create a significant amount of heat during the ignition cycle of the engine that produces power. The heat generated by the ignition cycle of the engine can be described as wasted thermal energy – energy that could otherwise be used to produce power to move a vehicle. The team from Sandia National Laboratories is developing a new technology that works by lowering the temperatures at which combustion ingredients enter the cylinder combustion chamber, providing lower temperature exhaust gases to be expelled after combustion. Lowering the combustion temperature positively affects the fuel economy of the engine, increasing the efficiency of the combustion cycle. Engines using the new technology are being developed to meet an automotive industry goal of cleaner emissions and an average of 54.5 mpg fuel economy by 2025. One of the greatest challenges faced by the scientists at Sandia is producing consistent engine combustion power at low engine speed, or RPM’s. The new technology doesn’t require the use of spark plugs to ignite fuel in the combustion chamber. It is difficult to ignite fuel in the combustion chamber cleanly or uniformly at low engine speeds. The ignition of fuel mixed with combustion air also needs to be completed in time for the compression of the engine piston to take place, requiring uniform fuel / air mixture and proper fuel atomization. Other types of fuel have been tested that provide better combustion stability at low engine speeds. These fuels include: ethanol, cyclohexane, toluene, among others. -from: Machine Design

Crash Prompts Lawsuit Against Apple

A lawsuit recently filed in California is against Apple and its Facetime technology used on their Iphone devices. Apple is being sued for allegedly having the technology to effectively disable the Facetime technology when used in an unsafe environment, such as when driving a vehicle, but according to the suit, Apple disregarded implementing this technology. Facetime is a technology used on Apple’s Iphones that allows the user to talk with another phone user who also has Facetime using the Iphone camera to transmit live video allowing the users to visually observe each other in real time while on the phone. Facetime users typically point the phones at themselves so that the other user can see their face during the conversation. Actively pointing the Iphone at the user’s face requires some attention to be taken away from whatever the user is doing, not to mention the use of a free hand. Using Facetime while driving could distract the driver from focusing on the road, which is what happened in an accident in which the plaintiffs against Apple were involved. James and Bethany Modisette were in their car with their two children in December 2014, when struck from behind by an inattentive driver who claimed he was distracted by using the Facetime app on his Iphone at the time of the accident. One of the Modesette children, Moriah, was killed as a result of the accident. The Modisettes are suing Apple for having the technology available to disable Facetime, but not implementing the technology, allowing Facetime to be used and be a contributing factor to the accident in which their daughter was killed. Apple was granted a patent for the technology to disable applications on their devices based on where the device was being used in April of 2014. The suit claims that proper application of the technology to disable applications such as Facetime would have effectively protected against the accident in question. Taken from Jalopnik

“Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock”

Now that spring is here and the temperatures across the nation are rising, the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is again warning parents and caregivers of young children that leaving children unattended in a parked car, even for short periods, can cause heatstrokes that can often be fatal. Data from the San Francisco State University Department of Geosciences show that since 1998, there have been 637 deaths in the United States resulting from adults leaving a young child in a vehicle. In 2014, 30 lives were lost and one death has already occurred this year. There are also far too many “close calls” that fortunately do not result in tragic deaths, but can cause serious injury, including permanent brain injury, blindness, and the loss of hearing, among others. It doesn’t take much to lose a child to heatstroke. When outside temperatures are in the low 80’s, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach deadly levels in only 10 minutes, even with a window rolled down two inches. Children’s bodies in particular overheat easily, and infants and children under four years old are at the greatest risk for heat-related illness. When a child’s temperature reaches 107 degrees, they die. Heatstroke death and injuries often occur after a child gets into an unlocked vehicle to play without a parent or caregiver’s knowledge. Other incidents can occur when a parent or caregiver who is not used to transporting a child as part of their daily routine inadvertently forgets a sleeping child in the back seat of the vehicle. Heatstroke tragedies are 100 percent preventable. NHTSA urges parents and caregivers to take the following precautions to prevent heatstroke incidents from occurring:
  • Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle – even if the windows are partially open or the engine is running and the air conditioning is on;
  • Make a habit of looking in the vehicle – front and back – before locking the door and walking away;
  • Ask the childcare provider to call if the child doesn’t show up for care as expected;
  • Do things that serve as a reminder that a child is in the vehicle, such as placing a purse or briefcase in the back seat to ensure no child is accidentally left in the vehicle, or writing a note or using a stuffed animal placed in the driver’s view to indicate a child is in the car seat; and
  • Teach children that a vehicle is not a play area and store keys out of a child’s reach.
  • In addition, NHTSA urges community members who see a child alone in a hot vehicle to immediately call 911 or the local emergency number.
  • A child in distress due to heat should be removed from the vehicle as quickly as possible and rapidly cooled.
Three years ago, NHTSA launched a public education campaign, “Where’s Baby? Look Before you Lock,” in the hope that the simple tips from this campaign will save lives and help families avoid unnecessary heartache. This year’s campaign will be supported by online and radio ads starting Monday May 11 and will run for 18 weeks to September 13. To learn more about NHTSA’s “Where’s Baby? Look before you Lock.” campaign, visit http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/nhtsa-child-heatstroke-advisory-2015