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  • Jaguar's 2018 E-Pace shares Land Rover bones


    Jaguar E-Pace's chamfered front overhang, distinctive swage lines and rear haunch treatment produced some engineering challenges.

    Jaguar revealed its all-new compact, 5-seat SUV on 13 July in London. The 2018 E-Pace joins its larger F-Pace cousin to take the company further into SUV territory. And it is also the first Jaguar to be produced outside of Britain, in Austria and China.

    Initially, with its U.K. facilities close to capacity, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has partnered with engineering and contract-manufacturing specialist Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria, for E-Pace production. Beginning next year it will also be manufactured for the Chinese market at Chery JLR’s facility in Changshu. The forthcoming all-electric Jaguar I-Pace will be Graz-built, too.

    Jaguar labels its new transverse-engined AWD a “compact performance SUV with sports car looks,” noting that the vehicle borrows some aesthetic cues from the F-Type coupe. An optional R-Dynamic pack further adds to its image.

    Director of Design Ian Callum and his team were determined to distinguish the car from the common SUV signature, he told Automotive Engineering. It’s a tough task, so they used a similar coupe-like roofline to that of the F-Type.

    Said Callum: “The most challenging thing is to get a car of this type’s size and proportions to look dramatic and exciting. We worked to make it look different from other SUVs; to make it look very dynamic. Proportion is everything, including the wheels which are 21-inch.” To disguise front-end overhang, the car has chamfered corner, he added. Cd is 0.325.

    And the car’s side elevation carries swage lines running up over its rear haunches, another F-type cue. There is a black, fixed-glass panoramic roof section and the driving position also picks up F-type cues. Automatic transmission versions get a stick selector, not a knurled rotary design as fitted to other Jaguars—a feature which may have had its day.

    Steel-intensive body

    Graham Wilkins, Chief Product Engineer, said the car's architecture is derived from the D8 used for the Land Rover Evoque and Discovery Sport. The integral-link rear suspension is conceptually similar to that used for the XE, XF and F-Space. Wilkins noted that the electronic-assist steering "benefits a great deal from learning with the XF and XE.”

    Riding on a 2981-mm (117.3-in) wheelbase,  the E-Pace measures 4395 mm (173 in) long overall and stands 1649 mm (65 in) tall. It is powered by variants of JLR’s 2.0-L Ingenium family of diesel and gasoline units (see and (, with a power spread from 110 kW to 221 kW (147 to 297 hp). The torquiest among these produces a claimed 500 N·m (369 lb·ft). Best claimed acceleration to 100 kph (62 mph) is 6.4 s and the car's CO2 rating is 124 g/km.

    Unlike its aluminum-intensive stablemates, E-Pace has a steel-intensive body structure and chassis. Variants weigh (EU unladen) between 1775 kg/3913 lb (front-drive D150 version) and 1894 kg/4176 lb for an AWD P300. Aluminum is used for the hood, front fenders, roof panel and liftgate.

    High formability (0.7-mm/.027-in thick) steel is used for the body sides—another contributor to mass reduction as is the cast-magnesium cross-car beam. Hot-formed Boron steel is used for A and B pillars. Wilkins claims torsional stiffness is 28.7 kN/degree.

    Leica-inspired controls

    The interior’s wraparound cockpit and the driving positions feel very similar to that of the F-Type. There are large stowage areas in the cabin including an 8.42 L (.297 ft3) center console and 10.07-L (.35 ft3) glovebox. Trunk space spans 577 L (20.3 ft3, rear seats up) to 1234 L (43.6 ft3) with seats folded. Callum said a huge amount of effort went into packaging efficiency.

    Leica camera lens controls were the inspiration for some of the car’s dials. A “Jaguar Cub” graphic is integrated into the puddle lamp projection. What would company founder Sir William Lyons have made of that?

    Connectivity and infotainment capabilities are now gauged by many OEMs to be significant brand delineators, so the E-Pace’s digital connectivity is considerable. It includes a 21:9 super-wide format (1280 x 542-pixel resolution) display with multi-tasking capability including a main screen with side panels showing navigation or weather data.

    A 12.3-in full color digital TFT instrument panel is optional. Satellite navigation is backed by a dead-reckoning facility when out of GPS contact. And a Commute Mode learns a daily drive route and automatically offers an alternative if congestion is detected. Up to eight devices can stream content using the car’s 4G Wi-Fi hotspot. And there is connection to favorite while the car is on the move.

    A new generation HUD (Head-up Display) projects large color graphics supplying both essential and less essential information, the latter including engine speed, chosen entertainment media, adaptive cruise control settings and lane departure and blind spot alerts.

    First Active AWD

    Most fuel efficient of the Ingenium engines is the 110-kW (148-hp) diesel driving only the front wheels—the first FWD Jaguar since the X-type. The diesel uses low-flow injectors to help towards a combined fuel consumption figure of 4.7 L/100km and 2124 g/km of CO2 emissions. That’s with 6-speed manual gearbox and 17-in wheels.

    The gasoline versions deliver a choice of 183 kW or 221 kW (245 to 297 hp). Engineers said upgrades to the car’s twin-scroll turbocharger deliver up to 26% more air compared to the previous version. A CVVL (Continuously Variable Valve Lift) system is fitted. The gas engine is paired with either the 6-speed manual or close-ratio ZF 9-speed 9HP.

    An Active Driveline AWD is claimed to be a first for Jaguar, providing rear-drive characteristics (including power-oversteer drifts). It incorporates torque biasing. Nearly 100% of available torque can be transferred to the rear axle when required. Two independent electronically-controlled wet-plate clutches distribute torque between the rear wheels. Software analyzes yaw rate, throttle position, steering angle and lateral acceleration.

    Salient chassis aspects include Adaptive Dynamics for continuously variable damper technology featuring triple-tube design. The system monitors vehicle movements every two milliseconds.

    The integral-link rear suspension helps maximize luggage area packaging. Front suspension details include use of a lightweight hollow-cast aluminum knuckle for additional camber to improve turn-in.

    The car has a specially tuned semi-solid mounted front subframe designed to provide a stiffer structure including solid mounts. This contributes to “exceptional drive dynamics,” according to Mike Cross, Chief Engineer, Vehicle Integrity. Aluminum suspension components are used extensively.

  • Audi details new A8 active suspension

    Audi A8 active front suspension 2018.jpg

    Active rear suspension module of the 2018 Audi A8. (Audi illustration)

    Audi A8 active rear suspension and quattro drive 2018.jpg

    Audi recently unveiled its all-new A8 flagship which now features a fully active, electromechanical suspension system. A front camera detects road irregularities and signals a predictive adjustment of the active suspension to suit the road conditions. Each wheel is fitted with an electric motor powered by the 48-V main electrical system. Additional components include gears, a rotary tube together with internal titanium torsion bar and a lever which exerts up to 1100 N·m (811.3 lb·ft) on the suspension via a coupling rod. In an SAE exclusive, U.K.-based contributor Ian Adcock interviewed Thomas Muller, Audi's head of suspension development on the A8 active suspension.

    Q: What are the benefits that customers will experience with this new suspension technology?

    With the introduction of 48V it has enabled us to introduce new technologies like the e-Booster and, now, electro-mechanical active suspension with no hydraulics integrated into the system that complements the air-suspension which gives the freedom to raise and lower each wheel independently.

    It’s about improving comfort and dynamics and safety. We centralize the chassis ‘brain’ into one module; the signal computing and calculations for the air suspension, damper control, quattro sport rear differential and Audi active integrated steering system are all fed into one control module which is essential if you want to have a smooth interaction with the car.

    The Audi active steering is very innovative, integrating the steering rack, the dynamic steering column and the rear axle steering into one system. Together with the active suspension we believe this will deliver a lot of driving pleasure.

    Q: The dynamic all-wheel steering system is a new development as well?

    Yes. It reduces the A8’s turning circle to less than that of an A4, 38 ft (11.6 m) compared to 37.4 ft (11.4 m), making it easy to maneuver in tight urban confines. We achieve that by turning the rear steering by 5° which is twice that of any rival. Combine that with the active suspension and you have a car that is both very comfortable and maneuverable during lane changing, for example, reducing pitch and roll.

    The all-wheel steering shifts the point of rotation further back reducing the rear seat passengers lateral head movement, resulting in a more composed ride when combined with the active suspension.

    Q: How is the active suspension system controlled?

    We use a Mobileye mono camera from the driver assistance system that generates the vertical information from the road with a resolution of 1.2 to 6 in (3 to 16 cm), signaling to the chassis controller to raise or lower the suspension accordingly when countering upcoming imperfections such as sleeping policemen or pot holes.

    Once you get into higher G-forces under cornering, body roll is halved; otherwise it feels very artificial. It’s the combination of the active dynamic systems that result in a level of agility and balance you wouldn’t expect from a luxury sedan like the A8. It is also linked into pre-sense side sensors for side impacts instantly raising the body height, so the sill takes the collision and not the door, reducing the impact by up to 50%.

    Q: How fast is the system’s reaction time and what sort of energy and forces are involved?

    The forces that we have at wheel level are 3.7 kN (832 lbf) front and 3.3 kN (742 lbf) rear. But the really important figures is that we have a gradient at each wheel of 16 kN (3597 lbf) per second. This is a huge force we can apply at each wheel and, combined with the bandwidth of 0 to 6 Hz, means the damper is being altered every 15 ms.

    It’s also an efficient system. Its default setting is on the air suspension system when no energy is consumed; force is only generated when active movement is required. Studies show that in a city environment it consumes 40-60 W, on highways it is even less, 10-20 W, rising to 250 W on rough roads. And even lapping the Nürburgring it’s only 400 W. It’s difficult to quantify but that’s two-to-three times more efficient than hydraulic systems with a higher gradient and bandwidth as well.

    Q: How is it set up?

    There are 2-kW electric motors at each corner, connected by belt to an OvaloStrain Wave Gear, that delivers a very high transmission ratio of 1:80 transmitted through a torsion shaft and bar to a link into the steering knuckle. It’s different at the rear because it couldn’t go through the Cardan shaft connected to the differential. Additionally there are 48-V power ECUs front and back networked to the central chassis controller.

    Information is generated every five milliseconds to create a picture of what is happening and what needs to be done in controlling the chassis dynamic actuators. Data from the road surface, restricted to 16–65 ft (5-20 m) ahead of the car, is read by the forward-facing ADAS camera and analyzed by the chassis controller ECU to preset the suspension ahead of encountering damaged road surfaces, although it works very well without the camera.

    Q: What are the prospects of this technology appearing in other Audi products?

    Currently we’re only talking about the new A8. But I think that active suspension will have a bright future, especially the combination of manual and what you might call ‘piloted’ driving. Providing a car that eliminates lateral and longitudinal forces so you can work or relax, like a high-speed train, is a huge benefit.

    Driving pleasure is something our customers want: comfort or sporty, it’s not either-or. Allowing you to decouple yourself from the road is a big differentiator for us.

    Q: How many driver settings are there?

    We have three settings with Audi Drive Select, comfort, auto and dynamic that includes the active suspension, all-wheel dynamic settings and quattro sport.

    Q: Who are your technology partners?

    We don’t have one technology supplier; pre-development and concept phase was done internally and we keep the IP for that. Then we broke it down and generated a network of suppliers working with us. Ovalo is a main supplier for the corner module hardware and Continental for electronic hardware.

  • 2018 Honda Accord drops mass, adds turbos and 10-speed

    2018 Accord unveiled.jpg

    Honda VP Jeff Conrad introduces the 2018 Accord line in Detroit on July 14, 2017. (Lindsay Brooke photo)

    Honda unveiled its 10th generation Accord on July 14 in Detroit, showing four-door Sport, Touring and Hybrid versions of its franchise midsize nameplate that has sold over 13 million units since 1977. The all-new model will be available as a sedan only, according to Jeff Conrad, Senior VP of American Honda.

    Designed in Japan with exterior surfacing finalized at Honda’s California studio, the 2018 Accord is up to 176 lb (89 kg) lighter than the outgoing model, depending on trim level. Key technical features include two new turbocharged gasoline engines, the first use of a 10-speed automatic transaxle (Honda’s own 10AT) in a front-drive sedan, and the return to the low-cowl/thin pillar body architecture that built the Accord’s reputation for superior cabin visibility and made it so easy and pleasant to drive.

    The new Accord’s interior boasts 2.5 ft3 of additional passenger volume (105.7 ft3total) and an additional cubic foot of trunk space (total 16.7 ft3) on non-hybrid models. The hybrid Accord now has its lithium battery pack located under the rear seat, expanding trunk space by 3.2 ft3.

    The 2018 Accord is also claimed to be the first production vehicle with Near Field Communications capability.

    Body and chassis changes

    The steel-intensive body structure features 29% ultra-high-strength steel alloys with aluminum used in the hood and some chassis crossmembers, Jay Gazowski, Senior Manager for Product Planning, told Automotive Engineering. High-strength steels (above 440 MPa) are used in 54.2% of the structure, helping to reduce overall vehicle mass by 110 to 176 lb (50 to 89 kg). Extensive use of structural adhesives (also Honda’s first use beyond the Odyssey) boost body torsional rigidity by 32% and first-order bending by 24%, while improving cabin quietness, the company claims.

    The latest generation of Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure uses a crash-stroke front frame with “tailor-tempered” rear members for improved crash-energy absorption.

    The new Accord rides on a 2.16-in (55-mm) longer wheelbase. While overall length and height are reduced by .39 in and .59 in (10 mm and 15 mm, respectively), the body is .39-in wider and track is widened by .20 in. front and .79 in. rear. There is increased front and rear-seat leg room (the latter by almost 2 in (50 mm). Combined with the lower cowl, front roof pillars that are 20% narrower and moved rearward relative to the driver's seating position enable greater driver visibility.

    Lead exterior designer Tetsuji Morakawa said the new Accord’s center of gravity is 10 mm lower than that of the outgoing car; Cd of the base model is improved by about 3% he said. The Accord is a “front feeder,” with main air intake through the grill rather than under the front end. New headlamps include available 9-lamp full-LED units and LED fog lights.

    Underpinning the body structure is a new Macpherson strut front suspension mounted to a solidly mounted aluminum front subframe. Rear suspension is a multi-link design mounted to an isolated subframe. Compliance bushings front and rear are fluid filled and an adaptive-damper system capable of adjusting shock absorber damping force every 1/500 s improves ride control and compliance, the company claims. All Accords feature an approximate 60/40 front/rear weight distribution.

    Accord Sport drivers can tailor the car’s dynamic performance via a two-mode electronic control system that includes a new dual-pinion variable-ratio electric power steering (EPS).

    New CVT and hybrid power

    2018 Accord propulsion includes two turbo DI 4-cylinder gasoline engines and the latest 2-motor hybrid powertrain. The 10AT is paired with the 2.0-L turbo engine, SAE rated at 252 hp (188 kW) at 6500 rpm and 273 lb·ft (370 N·m) from 1500 to 4000 rpm. The 2.0-L is also available with Honda’s 6-speed manual gearbox. Accords can also be had with Honda’s 1.5-L turbo with dual Variable Timing Control valvegear, SAE rated at 192 hp (143 kW) at 5500 rpm and 192 lb·ft (260 N·m) from 1500 to 5000 rpm. It replaces the incumbent normally aspirated 2.4-L.

    The 1.5-L engine is available with Honda’s CVT or 6-speed manual. The redesigned CVT has an 11% lower ratio compared to the outgoing unit for improved launch performance. The 10AT offers a 68% wider ratio spread with a 43% lower first gear and 17% taller top gear compared to the 2017 Accord's 6-speed automatic.

    The new hybrid powertrain uses a 2.0-L Atkinson cycle engine with greater than 40% thermal efficiency (highest of any mass-produced Honda engine, the company claims) paired with the first electric motors on any production hybrid to use non-rare-earth magnets.

    Inside the cabin

    Inside the Accord’s cabin, it’s all new from seating to trim with attention paid to tactile materials quality and appearance, judging by AE’s brief time spent in the cars during the media introduction.

    There’s an all-new HMI with 7-inch TFT driver's meter and 8-inch touchscreen infotainment interface. Jeff Conrad dramatically noted that Honda is reintroducing actual volume and tuning knobs to the audio system; their renewed presence is welcome—the absence of physical knobs (and Honda’s reliance on “slider” controls) has been a much-criticized point for the brand in recent years.

    Both 1.5-L and 2.0-L Touring models feature a new 6-in driver's HUD (Head Up Display) with selectable information, including speed, engine rpm, turn-by-turn navigation, and Traffic Sign Recognition. Available connected-car technologies include wireless device charging, automatic Bluetooth phone pairing with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, 4G LTE in-car Wi-Fi, and Wi-Fi-enabled over-the-air system updates.

    Honda claims to be the first OEM to include an NFC tag in one of its products. NFC chips enable the user of Android Pay and Apple pay smartphones to simply tap the small NFC tag on the instrument panel (identified by a small "N") and the devices will instantly pair with the car's Bluetooth.

    To make those phone conversations easier to hear, noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) in the new Accord is abated with a new sound-insulating package that includes full underbody covers, wheelhouse insulators, alloy wheels with Honda-proprietary resonator technology, sound-absorbing carpet, acoustic laminated windshield glass (front door acoustic glass on EX and above) and a new, three-microphone active noise control system.

    All 2018 Accords feature the Honda Sensing safety and driver-assistance suite. SOP is later this summer at the Marysville, OH, complex.

  • ‘Smart’ oil cap brings low-cost connectivity to Perkins engines

    Cap on engine .jpg


    The Perkins SmartCap can be fitted to any Perkins mechanical or electronic engine to instantly provide engine telematics. (image: Perkins)

    Perkins launched what it calls the world’s first low-cost engine level telematics device—the Perkins SmartCap—at its Seguin, TX, facility in June. The “smart” oil cap can be fitted to any new and existing Perkins mechanical or electronic engine in minutes and instantly provide engine telematics, according to Michael Wright, General Manager – Aftermarket.

    Designed to replace the oil filler cap, the SmartCap connectivity solution monitors the Perkins engine and sends data directly to the Perkins My Engine App, which can be downloaded for free from the Apple and Google stores. The cap, which will cost $49.99 at introduction, has its own power supply that lasts 2 to 3 years.

    The solution is suited to owners and operators of Perkins-powered machines, providing access to engine specific information such as running hours, location, start/stop data, and parts book and consumables information. The app can receive signals from multiple devices and display that information on a single screen.

    “The low-cost Perkins SmartCap in conjunction with the Perkins My Engine App will, for the first time, enable Perkins customers to easily track use of their engine and servicing requirements, locate their local Perkins distributor, see parts information and receive service updates, all in one place,” said Wright.

    Customers can register their Perkins engine, access their OMM (Operating Maintenance Manual) and parts book, and keep a service record. The Distributor Locator feature allows users to contact their local Perkins distributor.

    The three SmartCap sizes available are compatible across the Perkins small to medium range, up to 7.1-L six-cylinder engines generating 275 hp (205 kW) and fitted in a hydraulic excavator, for example.

    “The larger engines are more likely to already have a full telematics system because of the level of investment,” said Ian Bradford, Parts Product Manager at Perkins.

    Perkins’ “aftermarket digital strategy,” including development of the SmartCap and My Engine App, began just 23 months prior to the technology’s demonstration to media in Seguin.

    Collecting and using the data

    The SmartCap is “revolutionary in the way that it works but it's also very similar to other products...using low-energy Bluetooth,” said Bradford. The cap detects engine vibrations and processes that information, filtering out running data from non-running data, and transmits it to the phone every 15 seconds. Data is then uploaded to the cloud “where further analysis is performed” and sent back to the user’s phone, he explained.

    The information can be seen by the end user, the local distributor, and Perkins. A distributor portal allows the distributor to access all the information pertaining to customers in its area. Customers have to opt in to share data.

    In addition to offering faster support and more tailored services, thus growing the revenue from the aftermarket business, opportunities exist to use the data to help design better engines, Wright acknowledged.

    “We do a heck of a lot already to understand the operating parameters of different machines in different applications,” Wright said. “This [new technology] actually gives us hundreds, thousands, millions of real stories, and as the technology evolves, we [expect] the cap will be able to capture more performance aspects than just speed, start/stops and hours. But even at this stage, it will help with our statistical analysis of usage.”

    There are 5 million Perkins engines in operation. In the next couple of years, “10s and potentially 50s of thousands” of these engines will have the SmartCap installed, Bradford predicted.

    Initial plans call for supply through the aftermarket, “but we are talking with our OEMs and where they have an interest we can install it onto their equipment as well,” he said. “Going forward, it’s going to be standard for many OEM customers—that is our vision. Because once we get this installed on the equipment, not only does it give the customer a lot of information but it helps us make sure they're getting the very best experience with that engine that they can.”

    SmartCap will be available initially in North America, Europe and Australia starting in September from Perkins distributors and the company’s newly launched online U.S parts shop, The company plans to roll the product out globally in the future.

  • SAE Eye on Engineering: Electrified not Electric


    Watch the video at

    In an era when "fake news" is a hot topic, much of the media still doesn't understand the difference between "electric" and "electrified" vehicles. In this episode of SAE Eye on Engineering, Editor-In-Chief Lindsay Brooke looks at Volvo's electrification strategy. SAE Eye on Engineering can be viewed at It also airs in audio-only form Monday mornings on WJR 760 AM Detroit's Paul W. Smith Show.

  • Mercedes-Benz reveals production version of X-Class pickup truck


    The X-Class is the first-ever pickup truck for the Mercedes-Benz brand; derived from partner Nissan-Renault's Navara (Frontier) midsize pickup (all images: Daimler).

    2018 Mercedes X-Class rear 34.jpg

    First X-Class models to be built in late 2017 in Nissan's Barcelona, Spain, assembly plant.
    2018 Mercedes X-Class rear.jpg

    Mercedes stressed ruggedness of the X-Class underpinnings balanced by attention to on-road ride quality. A pair of 4-cyl. diesels and a small gasoline 4-cyl. comprise the engine lineup at launch, with a V6 diesel coming in 2018.
    2018 Mercedes X-Class interior.jpg

    X-Class interior presents design cues from many current Mercedes-Benz models.

    Mercedes-Benz insists the X-Class is not intended for the North American market, but the company borrows from the U.S. pickup playbook by offering a variety of customization options and accessories.

    Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz luxury-vehicle unit this week unveiled the production version of its X-Class, the first pickup truck to wear the Mercedes-Benz star. The X-Class is a 4-door midsize pickup using the NP300 body-on-frame (BOF) architecture of the Nissan Navara, largely the same pickup sold in the U.S. as the Nissan Frontier.

    From the time it was confirmed in 2015 that Daimler and Nissan-Renault would partner to build the X-Class, Mercedes-Benz has insisted it does not intend to sell the pickup in North America. In announcing details of the production X-Class, Mercedes-Benz continues with the point, saying the X-Class will begin production at Nissan’s assembly plant in Barcelona, Spain by the end of this year for the Europe, South Africa and Australia markets. The Latin America market will be served in 2019 by X-Class pickups built at a Renault assembly plant in Cordoba, Argentina.

    “The X-Class is aimed at very different customer groups: land owners and farmers in Argentina, business owners and building contractors in Australia, families with an affinity for premium products in Brazil, trend-conscious individualists in South Africa and Great Britain as well as sporty adventurers in New Zealand and Germany,” Mercedes-Benz said in a release summarizing its current market intent for the new pickup. The company also stressed the new pickup is “attractively priced in the segment” in its launch markets.

    Rugged chassis, diesel-oriented powertrain

    What brand loyalists are likely to find most divergent from Mercedes-Benz’s famous technology focus is the X-Class pickup’s reliance on traditional chassis design, chiefly the BOF architecture and solid rear axle—although the rear axle apparently is located with multiple links and suspension comes not from pickup-standard leaf springs but coil springs. There are ventilated disc brakes at each corner.

    The more-utilitarian orientation extends to the drivetrain: the X-Class initially is fitted with a conventional transfer case that allows selection between rear-wheel drive or full-time engagement of the front axle. The company nonetheless is employing its well-established 4Matic moniker for the setup, despite the fact its engagement is not automatic.

    Later, Mercedes-Benz said, the X-Class’ optional gasoline V6 will be coupled with a permanent AWD system.

    At launch, there is a gasoline 2L 4-cyl. coupled only with RWD and left-hand drive for certain markets. The primary engine choices, however, are 2.3L turbodiesels of varying power ratings. The single-turbocharged variant develops 163 hp and 297 lb·ft (403 N·m). A twin-turbocharged version of the same engine generates 190 hp and 332 lb·ft (450 N·m).

    The standard transmission for either diesel is a 6-speed automatic; the higher-powered 2.3L turbodiesel also is available with a 7-speed automatic. Either engine can be coupled with the driver-actuated 4WD system.

    The V6 diesel, promised by mid-2018, generates 258 hp and 406 lb·ft (550 N·m), the company said.

    Midsize, not compact

    Mercedes-Benz said the overall length of the new X-Class pickup is 210.2 in (5340 mm) and wheelbase is 124 in (3150 mm). The most compact 4-door version of Ford’s F-150 fullsize pickup is 231.9 in (5890 mm) long, with a wheelbase of 145 in (3683 mm). The X-Class bed length is 62.5 in (1587 mm), similar to most U.S.-market midsize pickups. Maximum payload is 2297 lb (1042 kg).

  • GM aims to double brake rotor service life with new FNC treatment

    Jim Webster GM brake engineer.jpg

    GM brake engineer and materials expert Jim Webster spearheaded the FNC treatment process as applied to grey-iron brake rotors.

    General Motors is on a mission to banish corrosion from its brake rotors, while at the same time doubling rotor service life. By 2016 the automaker plans to have highly corrosion-resistant rotors on 80% of its U.S. market vehicles, a move that is enabled by GM’s adoption of a patented surface-treatment process.

    The GM-developed process is ferritic-nitro carburizing (FNC), a form of case hardening. FNC is a gaseous process that “diffuses nitrogen and carbon into the metallic part” following production machining of the rotor's friction surface, explained Jim Webster, a GM brake engineer who helped spearhead the program.

    The rotors are super-heated at 560°C (1040°F) for up to 24 hours within a nitrogen-rich atmosphere. The nitrogen atoms bond to the surface of the steel rotor, hardening it and increasing its strength.

    The FNC process lays down a 10-µm-thick transfer layer across the entire rotor surface, including the center “hat” section and inside the central cooling vanes of ventilated rotors. (Ten microns is roughly 1/10 the width of a human hair.) The resulting friction surface is significantly more durable than that of a rotor without the FNC treatment, while remaining virtually impervious to corrosion and rust.

    “We expect FNC will double rotor life from the current 40,000 miles, to 80,000 miles, before it needs to be ‘turned’ [machined to regain factory-spec lateral runout and surface finish],” Webster said. Other benefits include reduced brake dust accumulation on the road wheels and smoother brake-pedal feel over time.

    The FNC process, while somewhat similar to carburizing as used in powertrain gear hardening, differs in its nitrogen component, GM engineers said.

    Once a rotor is turned, its friction surface loses the FNC layer. But until that point, the FNC rotors are expected to delight various key constituencies. GM dealers and customers will like their aesthetic appeal, particularly due to the increased popularity of polished-aluminum and chromed multi-spoke road wheels that tend to show off the brakes behind them. Owners will appreciate the vastly extended service life and improved pedal feel as the miles rack up.

    And GM Design stylists can develop more “open architecture” wheels without worrying that rusty brake rotors will diminish their appeal.

    “My partner Ed Welburn [GM Vice President of Design] asked me to fix the rusty-rotor issue,” said John Calabrese, Vice President of Global Vehicle Engineering. He noted that customer surveys have shown that 40% of vehicle owners consider brake-rotor corrosion to be among the most bothersome issues.

    GM began investigating solutions for brake-rotor corrosion and extended service life in 2006. Engineers started with salt-bath nitriding, which was first used on the 2008 Cadillac DTS brake rotors. Gaseous FNC then evolved from the salt-bath process, Calabrese said, noting that FNC has helped reduce DTS brake-related warranty claims by over 70%.

    The FNC’s on-cost, compared with non-treated rotors, is “slight but manageable,” he said. GM outsources its production brake rotors.

    GM has increased its implementation of FNC rotor technology since its 2008 debut. Currently it’s used on the Buick Lacrosse and Regal and the Chevrolet Malibu, Impala, and Volt. Applications thus far are limited to North American and Chinese vehicles, due to those markets' preference (and regulations) for brake-pad materials that are less aggressive than higher-friction materials, particularly those using sintered-metal compositions preferred in Europe, noted Margaret Oswald, GM’s Director of Brake Systems Engineering.

    GM claims to be the only automaker currently using a nitriding process to address brake rotor wear and corrosion.

  • Bedding In Brake Rotors and Brake pads

    Bedding In Brake Rotors

    Anytime you install new brake rotors, brake pads, or both, it's advantageous to bed in your new brakes. Bedding in your brakes is just an industry term to explain breaking in your new brakes.  Bedding in your brakes helps transfer an even layer of brake pad material onto the brake rotor which assists in smoother brake operation and improved braking power.

    Having a uniform layer of pad material on the brake rotor is essential to minimizing brake squeal and vibration. For this procedure, you will need a good stretch of road and no traffic.

    Use common sense and take precaution as DBC does not take responsibility for erratic driving, accidents, or damages done.

    Note: When using DBC Zinc-Coated rotors, as soon as you start braking, the friction from the pads will strip the zinc from the pad surface, turning it Silver and leaving the holes, slots, and the rest of the rotor zinc coated in the color you selected.

    • Perform 3-4 medium stops from 45mph. Slightly more aggressive than normal braking. You don't need to come to a complete stop for each pass. This brings the brake rotors up to temperature so they are not exposed to sudden thermal shock.
    •  Make 8-10 aggressive stops from 60mph down to 15mph. For this set of semi-stops, you want to be firm and aggressive, but not to the point where ABS activates and the wheels lock up. It's important to note that you don't come to a complete stop but rather a semi-stop (~15mph). Accelerate back up to 60mph as soon as you slowed down to your semi-stop.
    • The brake pads and brake rotors are extremely hot at this point and sitting on one point will imprint the pad material onto the surface unevenly. This can cause vibration and uneven braking.
    •  You may notice that your brakes will start fading, and sometimes smoke, after the 6th or 7th pass. This fade will stabilize and will gradually recess once your brakes have cooled down to normal operating temperatures. Drive carefully as your brakes may feel softer for the next few minutes.
    • Try not to come to a complete stop and find a stretch of road where you can coast for 5-10 minutes, preferably without using your brakes.

    After the break-in procedure, there may be a light blue tint on your brake rotors as well as a gray film deposit. The blue tint shows that your rotor has reached the appropriate temperature during the bedding process, and the gray film is some of the pad transfer material.

    Some cars and trucks require two cycles of the bedding in procedure. This may be the case if you are using old brake rotors with new brake pads, or new brake rotors with old pads. This may also be the case if you don't think you fully heated up the brakes in the initial bedding procedure. In any case, it's required that you wait at least 10-15 minutes between each cycle as you don't want them to overlap.

  • The 10 Most Expensive Car Repairs

    The 10 Most Expensive Car Repairs Source:


    9. Brake Line – $1,000

    In terms of safety, nothing is more important than the brakes on your car. And while new brake pads are comparatively inexpensive, you could end up shelling out big bucks if the brake line that carries needed brake fluid blows or disintegrates. Most brake line repairs cost about $1,000. Mechanics will almost always push to replace the entire line in the vehicle rather than try to patch or fix a broken line. Unfortunately, this type of repair is absolutely necessary for safety reasons. Nobody can, or should, drive if the brake line in their car is damaged or not functioning properly. Source:
    8. Catalytic Converter – $1,500

    Motorists who live in a jurisdiction that requires vehicles to be emissions tested most likely have a catalytic converter installed. This device is used to convert the harmful chemicals produced in exhaust fumes into harmless ones that do not damage the environment or the air that people breathe. It is a very noble car component. But it is also an expensive one. Situated between the engine and the muffler, a catalytic converter is easy for a mechanic to find and replace. But the part is pretty expensive. Expect to pay at least $1,500 for this replacement. Catalytic converters can almost never be repaired when a problem arises. They almost always need to be replaced. However, you can feel good about helping the environment as you shell out money for this particular part. Source:
    7. Head Gasket – $2,000

    The saying “blowing a gasket” exists for a reason. It refers to people overheating and steam coming out of their ears. And that is exactly what happens to a car when it blows a head gasket. When a head gasket goes, it sprays coolant and oil, white smoke billows from the engine and exhaust, and the engine quickly overheats. Few things produce more of a mess on a car than a blown head gasket. This is because the head gasket seals the engine cylinders and stops coolant and oil from leaking out. Despite the mess and drama it produces, a head gasket is a relatively cheap car part. However, the labor involved to replace a head gasket is not cheap. Replacing a head gasket typically costs $2,000—possibly more depending on the damage done to the rest of the car when one blows. Source:
    6. Camshaft – $1,500 to $3,000

    A camshaft is an essential component in any vehicle. It controls how the engine takes in air. Over time, the camshaft can become quite dirty and get plugged up with dirt and debris. If not cleaned regularly through oil changes and valve cleanings, a camshaft will eventually break and the cost to replace one ranges from $1,500 to $3,000. Not cheap. The high cost is due to the fact that the repair requires a lot of labor. To avoid this expensive repair, people should be sure to keep up with maintenance such as oil changes and tune-ups. If the check engine light on the dashboard comes on, there could be a problem with the camshaft. Don’t ignore this indicator and instead get the car checked out before it’s too late. Source:
    5. Suspension – $2,500 to $3,500

    We rarely notice the suspension on our car. Yet a lot goes into the suspension and it is an integral part of any vehicle. After all, the suspension is what keeps us from feeling every bump and dip in the road. A proper working suspension system is comprised of the following parts: shocks, struts, springs, control arms and tie rods. If only one of these parts breaks, it is not too expensive to repair or replace. But a complete suspension overhaul can be super expensive in terms of parts and labor. And you can usually count on a mechanic saying that the whole suspension system needs to be replaced at a cost of about $3,500—even if only one component breaks. Do yourself a favor and get a second opinion when it comes to your car’s suspension. Source:
    4. Airbags – $2,500 to $4,000

    There is no question that airbags save lives. In fact, airbags are, arguably, the greatest safety invention in automotive history. However, once they deploy, airbags almost always have to be replaced—and this is costly. Also, the steering wheel and glove box in a car may also need to be replaced after airbags deploy. All tallied, people can spend anywhere from $2,500 to as much as $4,000 getting the front seat of their car back in proper working condition after the airbags have deployed. They save lives but really do make a mess of a car. Of course, if your airbags are deployed it is probably because you have been in an accident or collision, in which case new airbags may be the least of your worries. Source:
    3. Transmission – $4,000 to $5,000

    Transmission problems can stop any car dead in its tracks. Without a proper functioning transmission, the wheels on a vehicle are unable to turn. And replacing the transmission assembly on most cars runs between $4,000 and $5,000. It could cost more depending on the severity of the problem. The transmission is a complex system that controls the flow of power from the engine to the driveshaft. It experiences more wear and tear than most other parts of a vehicle due to the heat and friction produced by the many moving and interacting components. Signs that there could be problems with the transmission include the gears slipping, a dragging clutch, a burning smell and a humming noise when the car is parked. Be alert to these signs, as the sooner you take action to repair a transmission the less it will cost you.



    2. Hybrid Car Battery – $6,000

    Many people are dreaming of the day when they no longer have to buy gasoline and their electric car will operate on battery power alone. However, the batteries used in cars, notably hybrid vehicles, are hugely expensive. Replacing one faulty battery in a hybrid car can cost upwards of $6,000. Not cheap! Any type of rechargeable battery slowly loses its ability to hold a charge over time, including the batteries used in hybrid cars. Almost all hybrid car batteries on the market today will die before their owner gets 10 years of use out of the vehicle. And replacing this battery also means replacing the computer system for the car, which can quickly add up to $6,000 or more. While popular, hybrid cars have not caught on with more drivers mainly because of the massive hidden costs associated with the vehicles, notably the cost to replace their batteries. Source:


    1. Engine and Cylinders – $7,000 to $10,000

    “Major engine damage” are words nobody wants to hear. This means that your car is in big trouble. It’s practically kaput. And the worst, and most expensive, type of engine damage involves the vehicle’s cylinders. If the cylinders at the core of the engine breakdown, then the car will not be driveable and you could be on the hook for a repair in the area of $7,000 to $10,000. This is because a mechanic will have to remove the entire engine from the car to replace the cylinders. The best bet is usually to get a whole new engine installed rather than try to repair the old broken one. Or, better yet, ditch the car entirely and go buy a new one. For $7,000 to $10,000, you can get a pretty decent new car. And beware, the larger and more powerful a vehicle’s engine (such as those in trucks and sport utility vehicles) the more expensive they are to repair or replace. Source:
  • 10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Tesla Motors

    10 Things You Likely Didn’t Know About Tesla Motors Via


    9. Tesla is Building the World’s Largest Battery Factory

    Demand for Tesla’s vehicles is so great, and sales are forecast to be so robust, that the company is now making a huge investment to build the world’s largest battery factory, and one of the biggest buildings on the entire planet. Out in the California dessert, Tesla Motors is constructing a 5.8 million square foot factory to make batteries for its electric vehicles. Once completed, the factory will produce enough batteries to power 500,000 electric cars a year. In fact, the new Tesla battery plant will produce the equivalent of the world’s entire lithium ion battery production today under one roof. That is a massive and impressive undertaking.


    8. Despite the Hype, Tesla Motors is Still a Small Car Manufacturer

    Despite the current hype and daily reports about its progress as a company, Tesla Motors is still a relatively small player in the automotive sector. Over the past 10 years, Tesla Motors has shipped about 100,000 total cars to its customers. By comparison, the big three automakers in the U.S. shipped 17 million new cars in 2015 alone. BMW and Mercedes-Benz sold nearly 500,000 luxury cars in the U.S. last year. While Tesla Motors is clearly an innovator, influencer, and is pushing the automotive industry into the all electric vehicle market, they remain relatively small compared to the big players in the automotive space. Via

    7. Currently, Tesla is Primarily a Battery Manufacturer

    While they are known for the electric cars they produce, the reality is that Tesla is currently more of a battery manufacturer than it is an automotive manufacturer. Making long lasting, state-of-the-art batteries pay the bills at Tesla and drives investments into the company’s electric car technology. Tesla builds and sells high-tech batteries for use in commercial buildings, residential homes and municipal power grids. Some Tesla batteries are even being used to power wineries in northern California. The batteries are also used to help power solar panels and produce solar energy. Tesla takes the proceeds from sales of its batteries and pumps them into the car division, using the money to further development of its Model 3 and other electric vehicles.



    6. Tesla Has Been on the Verge of Bankruptcy Several Times

    Tesla Motors has followed the path of many start-up companies. It has burned through cash and come close to bankruptcy on several occasions. Tesla has also had to go out for new rounds of venture capital financing many times. In 2013, behind on development of its Model S electric car, Tesla found itself with only about two weeks’ cash left in the bank. Elon Musk admitted at a recent shareholders meeting that the company was on the brink of being insolvent in late 2013. However, each time it looked like the end was near, Tesla Motors found a way to raise needed cash and stay afloat. That is good news as the company has also been the target of takeovers from many other companies in recent years, including…



    5. Google Has Tried to Buy Tesla Motors Several Times

    Search engine giant Google is aggressively moving into the car space, notably with self-driving autonomous vehicles. The company is obsessively working on developing the world’s first completely autonomous self-driving automobile. Google co-founder Larry Page is reported to be obsessed with the notion of cars that drive themselves around. Also of interest are all electric cars. The advanced technology developed by Tesla Motors, especially its battery technology, is extremely enticing to Google, which is why the company has taken several runs at Tesla over the years. Larry Page and Elon Musk are friends, and it has been reported that Larry Page has, several times, tried to convince his pal to sell Tesla Motors to Google for very large sums. Yet, so far, Elon Musk has resisted these offers and kept Tesla Motors independent.



    4. Tesla Cars Are Designed to Require Almost No Maintenance

    With their electric engines and other advanced technology, not to mention the fact that Tesla Motors does not have a big presence outside California, the cars sold by the company are designed to require almost no maintenance. Tesla cars do not require oil changes, new air filters, spark plugs or fan belts. The batteries are so advanced and powerful that they too do not need to be changed during the life of the vehicle. And, the braking system is designed so that the brake pads on a Tesla also never need to be changed. Rather than using friction to stop, Tesla cars slowdown by reversing the motor – using the brake pads only sparingly. The only parts on a Tesla car that may need to be replaced are the windshield wiper blades and the tires. Beyond that, the car is pretty rock solid.



    3. Tesla Cars Have Been Declared the Safest Vehicles in History

    In addition to their high-tech parts and components, Tesla cars are super safe. How safe? Well, the Tesla Model S car received the highest safety rating of any car in history from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Some of the equipment used to test cars broke on the Model S vehicle because it is so strong and resilient. During a test to see if the roof of the car could be crushed, the machine used broke after it reached its highest power setting. The roof of the Model S remained intact. Elon Musk and the engineers at Tesla Motors say they want to revolutionize the entire automotive industry – not just the use of electricity to power cars but the way cars are designed and their ability to protect occupants.



    2. The Company’s Name was Chosen at Disneyland

    Tesla Motors is named after a scientist and engineer from Serbia named Nikola Tesla, who died in 1946. He invented the first alternating current motor widely used in cars today. Arriving at this name was not easy. For months, company founders Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning struggled to come up with a name. But then, Martin Eberhard took a trip to Disneyland with his girlfriend and inspiration struck. While eating at the Blue Bayou restaurant in Disneyland, Martin Eberhard suggested the name Tesla to his girlfriend. After explaining the significance of the name, Martin Eberhard’s girlfriend approved and the name Tesla Motors Inc. was incorporated on July 1, 2003. The rest, as they say, is history.



    1. Tesla’s Next Move is to Design and Build an Electric SUV

    Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) are known for being notorious gas guzzlers — the worst offenders when it comes to consuming precious fossil fuels. Tesla Motors is hoping to change that though, as the company’s next foray is to design and build and all electric SUV. The company has already developed an electric compact SUV prototype it calls Model X. The prototype would seat seven people, have gullwing doors and be completely electric – using only a battery to travel around. However, with a starting price of $70,000, the question remains: Who will be able to afford such an expensive vehicle. The challenge for Tesla Motors remains to develop vehicles that will be affordable to the masses and that can be purchased by a wide cross-section of society. Time will tell if this goal is achievable. In the meantime, the prospect of an electric SUV is intriguing. Via


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