4-Focus – New vehicle innovations from Volvo, Suzuki, Nissan and MG

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VOLVO’S ADVANCED AIR CLEANING (AAC)

As a real world-first, Volvo’s innovative air ionisation and filtration system allows occupants to breathe cleaner air and will even clean the cabin air prior to entry. No other carmaker analyses air quality down to PM 2.5 fine particulate contents as yet. Blueair’s 25 years proven system in office environments has been adapted for car use, which gives airborne pollutants an electrical charge that makes them ‘sticky,’ so instead of simply passing through, they stick like magnets to the cabin filter. Volvo claims that that 95% of ‘invisible’ cancer-causing PM 2.5 particulates are prevented from entering the interiors of its cars thus fitted.

Should the driver’s mobile phone be equipped with the relevant app, the driver can compare both in cabin and exterior atmospheric conditions, detected by sensors that determine whether a cleaning cycle is required, prior to making a journey. If air quality changes while driving, the HVAC system will close off outside air and recycle and refresh cabin air. In addition, materials used inside all new cars are known to give off esters and particulates, factors that Volvo has been seeking to reduce significantly in recent years in all of its models and they are also filtered out.

Volvo’s Advanced Air Cleaning (AAC) occupies no more space, or weight, than the original HVAC system and is a size-for-size filter replacement, with a connection to the car’s fuse box to power-up the ioniser and provide a status check on the car’s touchscreen. Although not tested as yet on Covid-19, it is said to remove 99.97% of airborne viruses and bacteria. Intriguingly, Blueair also offers the system as an aftermarket retrofit, distributed by CabinAir of Sweden.

SUZUKI IGNIS – NEW CVT

Suzuki, sometime holder of ‘leading UK value brand’ status, has just introduced its version of a Constantly Variable Transmission (CVT) to its sassy, 1.2-litre, four-cylinder, mild hybrid petrol-engined Ignis model. Reliable and relatively simple CVTs are known to help reduce CO2 emissions, when contrasted with manual gearbox cars. Consisting of a two-speed planetary gear set, an expanded range of six electronically managed step-off points creates a notional seven speed ranges, selected using steering wheel-located up and down paddles.

The torque converter is of a three element, single step and two-phase type, equipped with an automatic lock-up mechanism, which eliminates converter slippage, thereby increasing transmission efficiency, in D (Drive). The gearchange aspect consists of the planetary gear unit, both multiple plate clutch and brake discs, as well as the steel belt running between the primary and secondary pulleys. Using a high-pressure control device and a series of solenoids, accurate line pressure results and the changing distance between the pulleys avoids shift shock and provides seamless, constantly variable progress. For downhill gradients, the brake energy recovery system recharges the mild-hybrid battery (48v, located below front passenger seat) via the combined starter-alternator (ISG). As expected, the car’s stop:start technology is integrated fully with the CVT for smooth stops and restarts in D (Drive).

NISSAN – RELIEF PROVIDED WHERE RE-LEAF CAN OPERATE…

It is a sad fact of life that disasters occur as a result of natural, or man- instigated phenomena and power outages usually result. Yet, Nissan has been working extensively on a specially developed version of its Leaf EV that can provide a positive aid in the recovery process, its lithium-ion battery pack providing a dependable emergency supply of electricity for medical equipment, communications, lighting and other life support items. Known as RE-LEAF, its potential has been hailed as revolutionary by disaster management experts.

Access along debris strewn routes is achieved by raising the standard ride height (from 70 to 225mm), installing a protective underbody guard and fitting multi-surface tyres on forged alloy wheels. The rear seats have been removed to provide space for rescue equipment and a pull-out desk with 32-inch monitor. Yet, since the Nissan Leaf was launched, it has been equipped with a bi-directional charging ability; it can not only draw charge but also feed it back into the grid, or directly to charge other electric devices. Blessed with high reliability and a consistent supply of electricity a boot-located domestic socket is supported by a pair of weatherproofed external sockets, which can run a jack hammer, a ventilation fan, an ICU ventilator, a 100W floodlight, or other devices, for up to 24 hours. Since 2011, in Japan, the RE-LEAF has become a valuable disaster support medium and is a prime example of automotive technology providing further reaching human benefits.

MG5 – ‘KERS’… OR NOT

Some carmakers will resort to any means by which to make their latest models appear up to date on the money and more sophisticated than they really are. KERS, or Kinetic Energy Recovery System, was developed for F1 racing cars, as a means to recover energy such as that generated by braking, or deceleration, which might have been ‘lost’ otherwise.

The recovered heat energy can be stored in a battery, a supercapacitor, or even as mechanical energy in a flywheel, ready to be redeployed as a power boost subsequently. The latest MG5, which is an EV, is the first road-going vehicle to feature a KERS button in its centre console switch bank. While a Formula One car can store 111Wh in each circuit lap, which equates to an extra 82bhp and just over six seconds of deployment time, it is a different mechanical ideology to that of the MG5.

While the MG uses Brake Energy Recovery as a means to extend the usable charge available in its main rechargeable lithium ion battery pack, it is not intended as a means to boost power momentarily for greater acceleration. Depress the KERS button in an MG5 and it reveals three-stages of energy recovery, from light and medium to heavy. The latter setting will allow the driver to slow the car rapidly and reduce the need to use the brake pedal in normal driving conditions. However, as innovative as the all-electric, only estate car model MG wishes to be perceived, its KERS is not as technologically capable as in an F1 car, however ‘cute’ the terminology might be.

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