31st October 2008

2009 Dodge EV Concept

The Dodge EV electric sports car concept, based on the Lotus Europa, is exactly the car ailing Chrysler LLC needs. For a car like the EV concept to not see production would be admitting defeat for Chrysler/Dodge, which carries one of the worst MPG averages of any automaker.

Real Pure Electric Performance from Dodge

It’s no secret that sports car drivers would never settle for something, for all its merits, as boring as a Toyota Prius. Automakers worldwide have hybrid or full electric sports car models in the works, trying to capture the hearts and car note payments of the future auto enthusiast on a green tip.

There’s nothing particular outstanding about the Dodge EV when compared with other electric sports cars such as the Tesla Roadster, the RUF Concept A or the 2010 MINI E. The chassis comes courtesy of the Lotus Europa, that British automaker’s larger sports car. Power comes from a 200 kW (268 equivalent bhp) electric motor putting power to the rear wheels.

An outstanding feature of such electric high performance ccars is the fact that all the torque is available from a standstill. The Dodge EV pushes a tire-crushing 480 lb-ft. of torque, primarily responsible for taking the 3000 pound sports car from 0-60 in what Dodge promises to be somewhere in the 4 second range.

High Performance, Zero Emissions, but is the Dodge EV Production-Bound?

Chrysler has the most uncertain future of any full-line automaker in the world right now. With GM in serious talks to buy Chrysler from Cerberus Financial and Daimler calling their current 19.9 percent stake in the American automaker a financial liability and nearly worthless, R&D budgets can’t too high right now.

But GM, who has dumped its research and development budget into the dual-mode hybrid Volt powertrain and E85 Ethanol Flex Fuel green cars, could potentially have the chips to bring the Dodge EV to production, or to use the technology in anything from a Cruize to a Camaro.

Something called the General Motors EV brings to mind another electric car that has not actually given the company a good name. Still, times are changing, and full electric sports cars will be in greater demand than ever before.

Dodge EV

Official Chrysler LLC Press Release

The Dodge EV development Electric Vehicle is a two-passenger, rear-wheel-drive sports car that marries high performance with zero tailpipe emissions.

The Dodge EV sets a new standard for what can be expected in electric-drive vehicles, said Lou Rhodes, Vice President of Advance Vehicle Engineering, and President of ENVI. The electric-vehicle technology enables a fun-to-drive performance sports car and helps redefine the vision of an environmentally responsible vehicle for the Dodge brand.

The electric-drive system consists of three primary components: a 200 kW (268 horsepower) electric motor, an advanced lithium-ion battery and an integrated power controller.

The 200 kW electric-drive motor generates 650 Nm (480 lb.-ft.) of torque. The instant high torque of the electric-drive motor delivers outstanding performance, accelerating the Dodge EV to 60 mph in less than five seconds, with quarter-mile times of 13 seconds. The Dodge EV has a top speed of more than 120 mph.

Working with the latest advanced lithium-ion battery technology, the Dodge EV has a continuous driving range of 150 to 200 miles more than triple the average daily commute of most consumers. Recharging the vehicle is a simple one-step process: plugging into a standard 110-volt household outlet for eight hours. The recharge time can be cut in half to four hours by using a typical 220-volt household appliance power outlet.

The Dodge EV offers driving enthusiasts a performance sports car that can be driven to work every day without consuming gasoline or producing tailpipe emissions.


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31st October 2008

Now on MotherProof: Mercedes Goes Green

One of our mom-reviewers hit up one of Mercedes-Benz’s most decadent parties to find out how cars, fashion and the environment added up into one glitzy, star-studded event. Mercedes was showcasing its new line of clean-diesel vehicles, known by the name of Bluetec. It paired the vehicles with clothes from a company called Eco-Ganik, which makes — you guessed it — environmentally friendly outfits. Were the clothes worth wearing? Did they match the color schemes of the Benz cars? Check out the story on MotherProof.com.

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31st October 2008

Holden takes its foot off the accelerator

Holden has taken the unusual step of cutting the power of its Commodore to reduce the car’s fuel consumption.

The car drops 5kW in power from 180kW to 175kW, while torque drops from 330Nm to 325Nm. The power sacrifice sees fuel consumption drop from 10.9 litres per 100km to 10.6L/100km.

That means the Commodore is now giving away 20kW of power to the Falcon – and is still thirstier (the Falcon uses 10.5L/100km).

For a company that has always prided – and marketed – itself on performance, it’s a brave move.

The Commodore already trails the Falcon and the 200kW Toyota Aurion in straight line performance and this move widens the gap.

But the latest move has to be seen in the wider context of Holden’s strategy to get incremental improvements in fuel economy right across its range.

It recently improved the economy of its V8 Commodore engines by introducing a “displacement on demand” system that shuts down four cylinders during cruising. The system is said to save up to 1 litre per 100km in normal driving.

And it has made even more significant gains with its LPG engine for Commodore. Fuel consumption is down from 15.5L/100km to 14.2L/100km, while power stays at 175kW.

That will have Ford executives sweating, because LPG is a huge part of Falcon’s sales mix.

The LPG Commodore now has almost 20kW more power but is more efficient than the LPG Falcon, which uses 14.9L/100km.

Combined with a recent price cut for LPG Commodores, the move makes plenty of sense in the dollar-sensitive LPG market.

What do you think? Is this a clever marketing move and a worthwhile environmental initiative or is it too little too late?

Is it worth sacrificing power to create an impression of greater sensitivity to the environment?

And finally, is it likely to change anyone’s mind if they are thinking about downsizing?

Richard Blackburn

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31st October 2008

Ministers plan fast-lane tolls

Ministers are considering plans for tolled ‘fast lanes’, charging drivers 42p a mile.

These fast lanes would allow drivers to avoid congestion at peak times and could be introduced on motorways and busy trunk roads by 2014.

The tolls will be paid using an in-car transponder system, electronically linked to sensors on motorway gantries, and bills automatically sent to drivers holding an account.

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30th October 2008

Second spot is no place for Skaife

Former Ford motorsports boss Howard Marsden found himself in a reflective mood at Oran Park seven years ago.

Watching young Craig Lowndes smiling and laughing his way through a press conference, Marsden marvelled at how mild and even-tempered Lowndes always seemed to be.

The bloke next to Lowndes during that press conference was anything but. Combative and intense, Mark Skaife’s subtle hostility towards what he felt were ill-informed questions provided a sharp contrast with his sunny rival.

Skaife, now 41 and soon expected to announce his retirement, reminded Marsden of the drivers he’d worked with in a previous generation completely dedicated to winning and furious with any lesser result. A second-placed Skaife was a seething Skaife.

Skaife gradually became more PR-friendly over his long career but never completely evolved into what you might call a motor racing metrosexual. Given the choice of getting a track advantage or getting in touch with his feelings, he’d take the former every time.

For a glimpse of the inner Skaife, scan YouTube for a clip of him being booed at Bathurst in 1992 after winning with Jim Richards. This was the famous occasion when Richards described the noisy throng as a pack of a…holes.

Next to him, Skaife didn’t need to say much at all. He seemed ready to take on the entire crowd. Given the look in his eyes, you’d have bet on Skaife.

Despite that incident, five-time Bathurst winner Skaife enjoys widespread popularity. Direct and articulate even during the most intense trackside pressure after

one collision-packed event, the Gosford-born racer said he’d been hit by everything but the safety car. Skaife has a gift for sharp words.

His non-verbal communication is just as direct.

At Eastern Creek in 2003, Skaife ran side-by-side for several corners with the equally competitive Russell Ingall. Neither driver would yield, leading to a crash that ended Skaife’s race.

It didn’t end the action, however. Skaife waited by his broken car for Ingall to drive past on the following lap. Lip-reading experts who are able to decode championship-level profanity might be able to work out what Skaife yelled as Ingall approached.

Ingall’s reaction in swerving towards his enraged opponent proved one fact: the only thing capable of making Mark Skaife take a step backwards is aiming a 1350kg V8 Supercar at him.

Even then the step was hesitant.

For all his argy-bargy, Skaife could be a very gentle driver. He once said (after being hit from behind and accused of brake-testing by the competitor who’d rammed him) that he’d made a career out of early braking, and it’s true Skaife wasn’t much one for violent corner entries, preferring to coax his car around the track rather than bully it.

That’s probably why he was just as fast aboard open-wheeled cars, which require a more precise touch than do the rollicking Supercars. It’s easy to imagine Skaife driving an IndyCar instead of his Holden.

The question now for Skaife is: what next? He’s too young and too racey to quit motorsport cold turkey. You suspect that he’s running his eye over several other racing categories, searching for one that might give him the speed he needs. They don’t know it yet, but a certain group of drivers could be facing a very fast new rival in 2009.

- The Daily Telegraph

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30th October 2008

Sizzling hatch: Audi S3 Sportback

Hot-hatches come in two forms, warmed over or piping hot.

The Japanese brands like Subaru and Mitsubishi give you a choice of both from the all-wheel drive WRX and Lancer Ralliart to the pipping hot STi and Evo.

The Europeans find a middle ground with cars like Volkswagen’s R32 and the silky 3.0-litre sixes that BMW slots into things like the 130i.

Audi’s distinctive S3 three-door leans towards the pipping hot category.

Now the S3 range has just gotten a whole lot warmer with the arrival of the five-door S3 Sportback.

Priced at $68,310, the S3 Sportback is $1907 more than the three-door and a whopping $11,820 more than VW’s R32 all-whee drive five-door hatch.

Along with the extra doors, the S3 Sportback is available for the first time with Audi’s magnetic ride system and a parking assist system similar to that available in some Volkswagen models.

The Sportback shares its turbo-charged direct injection 2.0-litre four cylinder with the three-door, mated to Audi’s quattro Haldex all-wheel drive system and a six-speed manual transmission.

An electronically-controlled, rear-mounted hydraulic multi-plate clutch, distributes the torque as required.

The 2.0-litre delivers 188kW at 6000 revs and 330Nm between 2500 and 5000 revs.

The Sportback can hit 100 km/h in 5.8 seconds and has an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h.

Despite the grunt, the high-tech four delivers a combined economy figure of 8.5 litres/100km.

Apart from the engine, the five-door shares much underneath with the three door, from its aluminium swivel bearings and wishbones that reduce unsprung weight to the stiffer chassis bearings, 25mm lower ride height, beefy brakes and electro-mechanical steering.

At 4303mm the five-door is 72mm longer than its three-door stable-mate and 3mm higher while width remains the same at 1765mm.

Visually, the Sportback shares the “S” styling cues of its three-door brother including the chrome-plated radiator grille, vertical double bars, and a front bumper with powerful spoiler lip.

The foglights get chrome rings, there’s a platinum grey rear diffuser and twin oval exhausts at the back, along with redesigned tail-lights.

S-specific exterior mirrors with indicators round out the design. Fitted as standard are new S design 18-alloys and Xenon-plus headlights with LED daytime running lights.

Inside, there are Nappa leather sport seats, S design multi-function leather sports steering wheel, Bose stereo speakers and Bluetooth.

Aluminium-look pedals and door sill strips complete the look.

There is a full complement of safety gear, from airbags to electronic stability control incorporating anti-skid brakes, traction control, and an electronic differential lock.

The S3 Sportback goes on sale next month.

Audi Australia expects the five-door to account for almost 70 per cent of all S3 sales over the next 12 months.

Since 1999, 650 S3s have been sold nationally.

The current generation S3 three-door, which was launched mid-2007, has sold more than 260 to date.

The magnetic ride suspension is a $2400 option, along with the $950 parking assist system.

- Herald Sun

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