New innovations from Toyota, Mercedes, Alfa and Lotus

TOYOTA GR SUPRA – MANUAL TRANSMISSION

You might think that a company offering manual gearboxes is not worth mentioning. Yet, it seems as though the tales that prophesied the death of stick-shift have rung true. Some ICE models have ditched manuals completely. This was made especially clear, when Toyota launched its first global Gazoo Racing (GR) model in 2019, with the 3.0-litre (and later 2.0-litre) GR Supra models being available solely with eight-speed automatic transmissions. Not everybody was happy about it.

Since then, Toyota reports that it has listened to sports car fans and customers, by introducing a six-speed ‘intelligent’ manual gearbox. The company claims that it is engineered to “delight drivers, who love the control and rewards offered by precisely timed manual shifts”. Presumably, this means that the engine software will mask sloppy pedal control, by matching crankshaft and input shaft speeds automatically.

Only the BMW-derived 6-cylinder version (seen also in the Z4 M40i) will benefit for now but Toyota claims that it has not just bolted an existing German longitudinal transmission to the engine. Yet, it appears that is exactly what the company has done, because modifying the BMW-derived gear sets, driveshafts, fiddling with software and removing certain elements do not a new gearbox make.

Even so, Toyota is expanding manual gearbox availability to all three of its European GR models: the GR Yaris, GR86 and, of course, the GR Supra. There have also been rumours that Toyota is looking to create a manual transmission for Battery Electric Vehicles, but it is unclear whether it will reach production. If it does, that really will be a technical oddity.

MERCEDES-BENZ S-CLASS – DRIVE PILOT

The importance of ADAS calibration becomes especially pertinent, when the hardware is employed for automated driving, rather than for information and emergencies. Mercedes-Benz’s Drive Pilot does just that; utilising ADAS equipment (especially cameras, LiDAR and Radar) that allow drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel and eyes off the road in certain conditions. This is a considerable achievement, because it is the first production-ready Level Three Autonomous system, as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers.

Mercedes-Benz is so confident about the system’s safety credentials that it commits to take legal responsivity for any crashes that occur while the system is engaged, provided that the driver complies with reasonable duty of care obligations. This includes not ignoring system prompts to take back manual control.

Drive Pilot is not full autonomy, however. It works only in limited situations. Currently, Drive Pilot is available only in Germany and, even then, is mapped solely to work on certain autobahn sections. Interestingly, the carmaker is seeking regulatory approval in North America by the end of the year. Whether the system has to be adapted to meet UK requirements, or how our laws will be changed to accommodate Level Three autonomy remains to be seen but legislative changes are afoot.

ALFA ROMEO TONALE HYBRID VGT 160 – 48-VOLTS ELECTRIC PROPULSION

Traditionally, 48-volts have been employed for mild-hybrid systems, where a belt- driven integrated starter-generator (ISG/ BISG) performs hot engine restarts, provides combustion engine torque assist and recharges the battery. As the system is not high-voltage, mild hybrids tend to be insufficiently powerful to drive the wheels in electric-only mode, until now.

The lesser-powered Alfa Romeo Tonale SUV employs not just a BISG but also a 48v 15kW motor is crammed within the pictured 7-speed Dual wet Clutch automated manual Transmission (DCT). To supply sufficient current to produce the relatively puny 20 horsepower, the architecture must handle around 300 amps. One has to wonder, therefore, why Tonale does not employ higher voltages. Cost and repair simplicity may be reasons, as well as the limitations of its relatively elderly platform, with origins stretching back to 2005, which is not designed to accommodate a bulky battery pack. Only a 0.8kW battery is fitted, which is small enough to slot between the front seats. The relatively small battery, coupled with being rated at only 48-volts, limits electric-only drive to moving off from stationary and low-speed manoeuvring. High voltage systems give a longer electric range and can operate at higher speeds.

Other Stellantis models inherited the same 1.5-litre Firefly engine and running gear before the Tonale. These include the Fiat 500X and Tipo Hybrids, plus the Jeep Renegade/Compass e-Hybrids. However, the engine is in a more powerful state of tune (160 horsepower) for the Alfa-Romeo. Like Toyota hybrid ICEs, it employs the Miller cycle, with a high 12.5:1 compression ratio. The GDI system operates up to 350 bars and, interestingly, the turbocharger’s variable vane geometry motor is powered by the 48-volts circuit.

LOTUS EMIRA – WORLD’S MOST POWERFUL IN-LINE FOUR ENGINE

The Emira is to be the last petrol-powered Lotus, before a new series of all-electric and Chinese-built models appear. The latter situation is unsurprising, since Geely Automotive bought a majority stake in the firm five years ago. While a V6 Emira is available, Lotus claims that the 2.0-litre inline-four turbocharged GDI is the most powerful road-legal four-cylinder engine available. Developing up to 208 horsepower per litre of displacement, Lotus did not have a hand in its development, for it is an AMG M139 unit. Featuring also on 45AMG versions of CLA, A-Class, and GLA Mercedes-Benz models, the engine could not be simply dropped into a relatively-lightweight Lotus bodyshell.

While changes made to the power plant are surprisingly few, essential modifications were vital to suit the mid-mounted location. The Lotus installation employs different engine mounts, air box, catalytic converter, exhaust, cooling system and driveshafts. The main major engineering revision involved altering the gearbox casing. To engineer what Lotus calls ‘Lotusness’ into the German running gear, the company has engineered a new engine management system. Although no other physical changes were made to the engine; even the turbocharger is the same as the Mercedes-Benz intended – which is probably a good thing.

New car technical innovations from Nissan, Volvo, Mazda and BMW

NISSAN QASHQAI – EPOWER

While ePOWER Nissans have been sold in Japan since 2017, the technology has just arrived in the UK, beneath the bonnet of the popular Qashqai SUV. ePOWER comprises electric propulsion only, using a 140kW motor. Yet, this is a hybrid, by virtue that a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine recharges the battery packs. Under full acceleration, or when driven at high speeds, the combustion-derived electrical energy is diverted from the battery pack to the motor directly, via an inverter. As is the convention with high-voltage vehicles, the system also boasts kinetic energy recuperation, under braking and deceleration.

While nothing novel, this engine also varies its compression ratios, between 8:1 and 14:1. The system works not using valve gear adjustments but an actuator changes the pistons’ strokes. While adopted for ePOWER, the variable compression technology was used first by Infiniti, as we highlighted last year (https://autotechnician.co.uk/4focus-tesla-audi-infiniti-and- genesis-new-car-technical-innovations). Unfortunately, Nissan’s luxury brand is neither built, nor available, in the UK any longer.

Nissan reports that, in low-power demand situations, such as cruising with a charged battery pack, high compression mode (combined, presumably, with low turbo boost pressures) is selected for efficiency and low emissions. Low compression situations are needed with high power outputs and Nissan reports that the compression adjustments are seamless. While the fuel consumption and emission figures are not confirmed at the time of writing, preliminary figures for the Qashqai ePOWER indicate 53mpg on the combined cycle and 119g/km.

VOLVO XC40 RECHARGE – WIRELESS CHARGING

Critics of Battery Electric Vehicles may be rubbing their hands with glee, as concerns grow about UK public charger access failing to meet projected demand. The same worries blight those of us that do not have access to private driveways and are forced to park curbside. Yet, wireless charging is nothing new. Even certain motorcars have wireless pads installed within their interiors to facilitate mobile ‘phones charging. Therefore, why can this technology not be upscaled for Battery Electric Vehicles?

Volvo thinks that it can, even for high-mileage applications. Currently, the Chinese-owned company is trialling wireless charging technology in its first BEV, the XC40 Recharge. Rather than being used occasionally, the cars will be put to work by Cabonline, the Nordic region’s largest taxi operator. Each vehicle is expected to cover at least a 12-hour shift, covering 60,000 miles per year.

These vehicles are charged wirelessly at a station, based at the company’s HQ in Gothenburg, Sweden. Recharging commences as soon as the vehicle parks over a charging pad, embedded in the ground. A 360-degree ADAS camera system is employed to ensure that the vehicle is parked accurately. The charging station energises the pad and this power is picked up by the car’s receiver unit. Volvo Cars claims that the charging speeds are four times faster than a hard-wired 11kW AC charger, although not quite as fast as a 50kW DC fast charger.

While we admit that these vehicles are not for commercial sale (yet), should the experiment be a success, it might provide a safe answer to urban issues of on-street EV charging.

MAZDA2 HYBRID – WORLD’S FASTEST COMBUSTION

With motor manufacturers desperate to slash CO2 outputs, many of them are pooling resources. More recently, several Toyota- based models have appeared that lean on the company’s self-charging, high-voltage hybrid prowess. First came Suzuki, with the Across PHEV (based on Toyota’s RAV4) and the Swace Hybrid (a tweaked Corolla estate). Now, the Mazda2 Hybrid enters the ring, looking strangely familiar…

While it looks like a Toyota and is built by Toyota, it is unsurprising that it is nothing more (or less) than an undiluted Yaris. This means that it benefits from Toyota’s fourth- generation hybrid technology, which has much in common with the same systems that are used with the larger petrol engines in the Toyota Corolla/Suzuki Swace and RAV4/Across ranges. Yet, the Mazda2/Yaris employ a 1.5-litre engine triple, which utilises Atkinson cycle variable valve timing (as is Toyota’s way) and a balance shaft to reduce the natural imbalance that afflicts three- cylinder units. Toyota also claims that this engine possesses the world’s fastest combustion speed.

Being a high-voltage Hybrid, the Mazda2/Yaris can be driven in electric-only mode and the engine can both recharge the batteries and drive the wheels. Working together, the electric motor and engine can produce 114bhp, enough to achieve 0-62mph in fewer than 10 seconds and an average of 72mpg.

Confusingly, the ageing conventionally-engined, third-generation Mazda2 (with its different bodyshell) remains on sale. Mazda justifies its decision, because it ensures that: “Our customers will have the widest choice of small cars in UK showrooms.”

BMW 2-SERIES – SIX CYLINDER IN-LINE ENGINE

While powering a relatively small coupé with a straight-six engine seems hardly revolutionary, we deem it worthy of inclusion, because the latest M240i xDrive is the only car in its class to be thus equipped. One has to hope that, in an era of engine downsizing, this is not the last Bimmer iteration of the straight-six, especially as BMW has canned its V12, Rolls-Royce models excepted.

Even so, the Germans have developed the M240i’s engine to be the most powerful in-line six in the company’s core engine portfolio. The unit was developed using the motor racing prowess of BMW M GmbH and features a closed-deck aluminium crankcase, an alloy cylinder-head, weight-optimised pistons/connecting rods and a forged steel crankshaft. The new 3.0-litre power plant develops 34bhp more than its predecessor, totalling 374bhp. The peak torque of 500Nm is also impressive, especially as it is available not at a set engine speed but between 1,900 and 5,000rpm. This explains how the range-topping M240i xDrive coupé can accelerate from 0-62mph in 4.3 seconds.

The industry unites for focus on training and technology

Technicians and garage owners looking to enhance their skills and take advantage of business opportunities are invited to Birmingham next month to enjoy free training, business advice and support from the industry’s finest.

The team who works with industry suppliers and trade associations for the Automechanika Birmingham event, which returns in June 2023, and the creators of the online digital platform auto:resource, will bring the trade together for a brand-new event next month at the NEC, which will solely focus on training, tools and technology.

The two-day UK Garage & Bodyshop Event will take place at the NEC 8-9 June 2022, within Hall 20, housing over 100 exhibitors. There will be three training hubs and three feature areas, enabling workshop owners and technicians to participate in training taster sessions, to highlight areas they want to upskill, and to connect with training and equipment providers to progress their skills and garage business.

Live demonstrations and accredited training will be delivered across three key areas: EV Hybrid, Workshop and Collision Repair, each offering technical seminars from industry experts covering ADAS, MOT, safety/service and repair, collision repair, diagnostics, and more. Kristan Johnstone, Project Director Messe Frankfurt UK, told autotechnician: “We’re looking to almost replicate what has worked very well at Automechanika Birmingham but doing that across different themes so it gives people a really clear structure of where they can go for relevant topics for them.”

There will be a best-in-class Modern Workshop feature that will showcase the latest infrastructure, equipment and tools, to highlight, and provide advice on, business planning and investment priorities. The feature is designed to get workshop managers and owners reflecting on where they are currently and where they need to invest. Kristan sees it as a learning opportunity, so visitors can come away thinking, “These are some of the considerations I need to go back and factor into the management of my workshop – a combination of infrastructure, products and tools.”

VIP treatment

A VIP programme for workshop owners will include a dedicated area for workshop owners to enjoy refreshments and gain business advice from a variety of suppliers. “There’s a huge appetite for business advice but sitting at a 30-minute seminar is not the way they want to digest that information,” Kristan states. “We’ve created this hub ‘The Garage Owners Club’, a lounge within the hall, with all the relevant bodies, associations and suppliers, so people can go and meet on the stands or the networking area and have those discussions”.

“With arguably the biggest shift for the UK aftermarket happening here and now with the presence of ADAS and hybrid and EV technology, increased cybersecurity and access to in-vehicle data, a UK focused exhibition for garages and bodyshops is essential to keeping the industry connected and up to date.”

Mark Field, CEO of IAAF

A resource to take away

Visitors will be provided with a take-home training guide folder, where they can collate the information and options available from each training hub, stand and feature. Chloe Hyland, Automechanika Marketing Manager, explains: “Because we’ve got the three separate training hubs, and the exhibitors will be having training on their stand, we think its quite nice to plan a full day’s training for a visitor… where you can go and visit each of the training hubs or different suppliers, receive either training or taster sessions or information and collect all that information into one place. We know the visitors are coming to get value at a show and I think that walking away with a hard copy of information and knowledge really portrays that.”

Kristan adds: “It will become a reference guide. We appreciate that full training courses can’t be delivered on a stand in a busy exhibition hall. The technical seminars work incredibly well, and people know it’s going to give them a level of awareness and insight, it’s not going to answer all their questions, but the awareness to know they need to go away and find out more about this topic and where they can get more information. Similarly with the sponsors and exhibitors who are offering

the training demos it’s an opportunity to get a flavour of what they offer and ask some pertinent questions to people who are experts in their field, to find out what they know, what they don’t know and what they need to know”.

Free tickets are available at www.garage-and-bodyshop-event.uk.messefrankfurt.com

“We’re delighted! A focused national event for owners and technicians from both garages and bodyshops will highlight
the rapid change towards electric and hybrid vehicles, as well as the challenges and opportunities this brings for the aftermarket. We look forward to seeing you there, meeting face-to-face at last again!”

Peter Melville, Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Repair Alliance

Electric vehicle training

Sitting on the fence when it comes to EV training was no longer an option for MY Motoring in Gillingham. Editor Nicola St Clair joins them for some on-site training to learn how to safely work on high voltage vehicles.

I have been taking my cars, and recommending my family and friends take theirs, to the independent, family-run workshop down the road for years. Brothers James and Michael Cameron and the team at MY Motoring in Gillingham, Kent have provided a professional, friendly service to customers in the area since 2005 but they recently lost my custom….

Earlier this year, I took the plunge and bought myself a 2017 Nissan Leaf, an investment to reduce my monthly outgoings and eliminate the considerable pollution I was adding to the local environment with my aging, gas-guzzling Saab 9-3. The Leaf is nippy on my local commutes and is as cheap as chips to run – with one home-charge costing around £4. But when it came to getting a major service and MOT last month I took the car to my nearest dealership, not something I have done before, as my trusted workshop down the road had not yet undertaken any hybrid or EV training but they have now rectified this!

As an LKQ Euro Car Parts customer, they tend to use its Auto Education Academy platform for their training, now relaunched as LKQ Academy, and a recent cancellation meant that the team could get booked in for an ‘IMI Level 2 Award in Hybrid Electric Vehicle Routine Maintenance Activities’ at short notice. So, I wrapped up warm and joined MY technicians Hassan Khreibani, Adam Tebbutt and Andrew Rowley at the local workshop for the on-site training. Pro-Moto Trainer Rob Usherwood delivered the day’s training on behalf of LKQ Academy, using his Toyota Prius, and my Nissan Leaf for comparison, during the practical tasks.

7 steps to make a hybrid or electric vehicle safe to work on:

  1. Duty of care to others: Ensure suitable signage is placed on the vehicle and restrict access prior to any work/tasks carried out on the High Voltage system
  2. Switch ignition off & place keys at least 3 metres away
  3. Disconnect negative terminal from conventional 12-volt battery
  4. Wear correct PPE
  5. Remove service connector/Switch main contactoroff
  6. Wait 5 minutes
  7. Check for voltages at HV Terminals

LKQ Academy can provide on-site training at your workshop.

The content of the IMI Level 2 Award qualification has been designed to give technicians the knowledge and skills required to work safely on Electric/Hybrid vehicles whilst carrying out routine maintenance and repair activities. The Level 3 and 4 Award that follow equip you with the know-how to diagnose and repair the high voltage components and systems themselves. For the morning’s theory session, Rob detailed the terminology, types of Hybrid & EV vehicle layouts and the arrangement of high voltage systems before we headed over to the Prius to identify the various components and considerations when performing maintenance tasks. Understandably, we then spent much of the time going through the 7-step safety precautions and procedures, with each technician performing the practical task of shutting the car down, proving it is safe and re-instating. A technical write- up on this process was performed as part of their assessment. Rob then provided details of the first aid required for the various potential hazards and gave an overview of Auto-Stop Systems and the construction and function of Hybrid/EV systems.

Rob unveils the HV battery underneath the Nissan Leaf

The final part of the afternoon session saw the technicians complete an online assessment, to ensure they had learnt the essential steps to ensure safe working around these high voltage systems. I am happy to say all three technicians passed with flying colours and are eager to complete the next levels of accreditation.

Thank you to LKQ Academy for supplying the training, Rob Usherwood and Pro-Moto for the perfect delivery, and to the fantastic team at MY Motoring for their eagerness to keep up with technology.

Investing in becoming Hybrid & EV ready…

There is a perception that becoming electric vehicle and hybrid-ready is a big financial commitment, but LKQ Euro Car Parts says that training and equipping your garage can cost less than you think and because specialist hybrid and EV servicing commands a high labour rate, a return on this investment can be realised quickly.

Approximately 6% of technicians in the UK are currently trained to support a market of more than 750,000 hybrid and pure EVs, so there’s a real opportunity for technicians who upskill now to set themselves apart from the competition. Hybrids are already fairly common in the independent aftermarket, with many in their fourth and fifth years of ownership. And EVs won’t be far behind.

Signing up for the LKQ Academy is free, and annual memberships start from £549 + VAT. With more than 30 locations in the UK and Ireland, LKQ Academy offers Level 2,3 and 4 hybrid & EV repair training courses, all backed by the IMI’s “Tech Safe” scheme.

The Level 2 course is the most popular, and covers routine maintenance activities and terminology, while providing technicians with a thorough understanding of the construction and function of hybrid-electric systems and outlining key safety considerations for working with high-voltage operations and components.

Level 3 builds on this to cover system repair and replacement, as well as more advanced electrical regeneration, rectification, and regulation skills. And for those that want to continue their training, the Level 4 course extends further into diagnostics, testing and advanced repairs.

The 2022 course schedule is open for bookings at www. lkqacademy.co.uk. Membership fees can be paid as a one off or as a 12-month direct debit. For more info, email training@eurocarparts.com.

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

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.

A brief history of automotive oil filters

Most of us fit oil filters to vehicles without a second thought. Yet, they enjoy a fascinating development story, leading Rob Marshall to provide an overview of how the modern oil filter came to be.

The need for efficient means of filtering the engine oil was realised early on in the motorcar’s inception. However, the technology to make it happen was not ready. As engineers realised that metal shavings from the various reciprocating parts could curtail engine life pretty quickly, very early motorcars (as do their modern successors) incorporated a course wire gauze, fitted either within the sump, or to the oil pick-up. However, their lack of effectiveness, coupled with very low-tech and sludge-prone lubrication oil, dictated very regular change intervals.

This somewhat cavalier approach was unacceptable for aircraft engines, where centrifugal oil filters provided a solution. Spun by the crankshaft, the resultant forces flung the contaminations into the filter’s periphery. While some cars (such as Fiat/Polski Fiat 126) were equipped with centrifugal filters until the end of the twentieth century, they were not effective at trapping the increasingly small contaminations that were being produced by more sophisticated, powerful and faster-running engines.

Early cars had removable oil filters, housed in metal canisters.

While aircraft manufacturers were utilising centrifugal oil filters during the 1920s, the Purolator (shorthand for ‘Pure Oil Later’) developed the first canister-type oil filter. The brand still exists, under the ownership of Germany’s Mann+Hummel. Initially, the oil passed through a cloth filtration medium and these early types tended to be of the bypass filter design, in which only around 10% of the total oil flow that the engine required at any one time passed through the element, which limited its effectiveness.

ELEMENTARY DEVELOPMENTS…

While paper’s filtration qualities have been realised for centuries, the material’s weakness made it unsuitable for continuous contact with hot engine oil. As per many other technologies, WW2 accelerated filter development and North American paper manufacturers discovered that they could add the required strength and stiffness to paper filters, by impregnating them with a phenolic synthetic resin. This discovery paved the way for Purolator to introduce the first paper element oil filter in 1946.

Even so, paper was still not ideal as an oil filtration medium. While it was undoubtedly superior to earlier fabric/cotton/ wool mixes, it was more prone to clogging. This dictated that each filter had to contain more paper to compensate, thus increasing the canister size and cost, something that most carmakers sought to avoid. A further problem stemmed from the realisation that allowing a minimal quantity of oil to enter the filter was not ideal for optimum engine life and it was far beneficial to have all the lubricant passing through the filter, before reaching the bearings. The arrival, therefore, of full-flow filtration to replace the bypass design hefted greater pressure on filter designers, who spent much of their 1950s and 1960’s efforts researching how to increase the surface area of the filtration medium, without making the filter canister unacceptably bulky.

The spin-on filter was costlier than canister types, because all of the parts are integral, including seals/ gaskets. Yet, they take less time to replace, especially when compared to vintage engines.

Various filter configurations were tried to achieve this aim but the real breakthrough came from the British arm of AC Delco (owned by General Motors of North America) during the 1960s, where the Southampton-based production facility designed the vertical pleated element, which has since become universal. It is of no coincidence that this design is well suited to mass-production. At around the same time, advances in engine oil technology introduced dispersant additives. These encourage fine particles to remain suspended in the oil, rather than grouping together. This refinement addressed many of the clogging problems that plagued oil filters previously, without the filter manufacturers having to do anything. They reacted instead by reducing the filtration surface area, because they could obtain the same service life using half the paper content.

Many modern cars have reverted to the cartridge-style oil filter, where the anti-drain, pressure bypass and even cooling properties are carried-out by a modular assembly, bolted to the engine, designed to last the life of the car. All you do is renew the filtration medium and any rubber seals. Advances in plastics technology resulted in lighter modules that are tolerant to extreme temperatures. Pictured is UFI Filters’ oil filter module for BMW’s B57 6-cylinder engine, the only metal component of which is the oil cooler.

TWIST OF THE WRIST – SPIN-ON CONVENIENCE…

At this point, oil filter elements resided loosely within metal canisters. Technicians had to unscrew a retaining bolt, remove the outer can, extract the filter, wash-out any particles from the canister, locate a new element and refit the assembly to the car. As the benefits of full-flow lubrication were being realised, General Motors realised that a filter element could be incorporated into a sealed, disposable assembly. While the cost was higher, compared to a canister filter, the trade-off was reduced labour time during servicing, a fact that proceeded to be a positive sales point for new car customers. In 1954, WIX of North America (another brand now owned by Mann+Hummel) patented its spin-on ‘Twist of the Wrist’ threaded filter, which was adopted rapidly by the motor industry.

The universal adoption of full-flow lubrication, so that all oil drawn from the sump passes through the filter before reaching the engine bearings, introduced several technical challenges. First, the pressure had to be relatively high so that the pressure drop, experienced by the post-filtered lubricant, would not cause oil starvation. This could also result if the oil was cold and, therefore, excessively viscous to pass through the filter quickly. Apart from careful engineering of the filtration paper, so the resultant restriction is not excessive, a calibrated spring- loaded bypass valve permits oil to bypass the element and be pumped straight to the bearings. While not ideal, unfiltered oil at the correct pressure, temperature and flow is a better option than insufficient filtered oil. A further development introduced anti drain valves, which consist of one (or more) rubber flaps that prevent oil from draining from the filter post engine shut- down. This causes oil starvation on re-start, due to the filter having to be primed, before oil reaches the engine’s moving parts.

Although spin-on filters became virtually universal, they experienced numerous refinements internally for the filtration medium to tolerate extended servicing internals and different chemicals from the oil and fuel.

As lubricants are becoming thinner and engine tolerances are decreasing, paper filters are being superseded by synthetic material in some cases. UFI claims that its material is made from of glass fibre, or polymer-based, materials that interact with both soot and biofuel.

The biggest change this century has seen the gradual return of the canister type filter, with environmental motives cited as one reason. While the technician renews the filter assembly alone, with the addition of a rubber seal, or two, the filter medium is contained within an oil filter module, which includes the bypass valves, anti-drain technology and even the oil cooler within a single unit.

As tolerances within engines have become finer, some filters have replaced the traditional paper-based mediums with those made from synthetic fibres. While paper remains cost-effective, synthetic fibres are used in certain applications, dependent on the carmaker’s stipulations. More recently, the entire lubrication system, which includes the filter and its module, are being refined to help manufacturers attain the challenging CO2 emissions targets. Smaller and lighter modules, featuring filters with finer filtration abilities and improved recyclability are all trends that are certain to continue.

Crisis Management: Updating your battery knowledge

While a ‘dead’ battery may be a disaster to some car owners, technicians risk courting huge problems if they downgrade replacement technologies. As lockdown harmed many 12-volt batteries, Rob Marshall argues that now is the time to update your battery awareness, before it’s too late.

COVID-19 has and continues to touch our lives. As revealed in the AT special supplement during the summer, batteries are probably the most affected motorcar component of the enforced lockdown. Even if you have not replaced many batteries yet, most degradation that might have developed over lockdown will become apparent as the nights draw in and temperatures drop.

Banner told us that, while it experienced a surge in demand during the spring and summer months, it expects winter sales to be especially buoyant, especially as furlough schemes end and more people start travelling again for work. It reports that its manufacturing plant in Austria took steps during the summer to ensure that production output can meet projected winter demand. GS Yuasa also reassures the aftermarket that it has taken similar measures, after experiencing, what it calls, “a dramatic increase” in battery demand, since lockdown measures were eased.

HOW HAS LOCKDOWN BEEN A BATTERY KILLER?

The reasons why 12v batteries fail, when allowed to discharge gradually, are fairly complex but Yuasa supplies worthwhile reading on this topic: www.yuasa.co.uk/reducedusage. In summary, 12v batteries prefer being fully charged. Should their voltage drop below 12.5 volts, crystals build on the lead-based plate material (sulphation) that becomes either very hard, or impossible, to remove. The rate of severity depends on the rate of discharge and the length of time. The net result is a reduction of capacity.

Unfortunately, many car owners have not received very sound advice about maintaining batteries during lockdown, which has worsened the situation in some cases. It may be worth educating your customer about battery care, should future lockdowns be introduced. GS Yuasa told AT that simply starting the engine once a day will not save the battery; it can possibly accelerate deterioration. This is because the energy lost to start the engine may not be replenished. Therefore, should the vehicle be started once a day and the engine not run for long enough, the battery will become deeply discharged, risking permanent damage.

A further problem is that 12v lead-acid batteries prefer a gradual recharge rate. Yet, many car owners do not appreciate this and imagine that their car’s charging system will replenish the battery fully with the car sitting on their front drives with an idling engine for a quarter of an hour, or less. As sulphation builds, the battery’s internal resistance rises, making the charging system work harder for longer. This situation allows a sulphated battery to ‘trick’ the charging system into thinking that the battery is charged fully, when it is not.

Additionally, virtually all modern cars inflict parasitic drains, on top of the battery’s’ natural tendency to discharge naturally. The rate at which the car does so depends from vehicle- to-vehicle but components responsible range from ECUs, clocks, alarm and immobiliser systems. Faults can also develop that increase this drain, such as courtesy lights that do not extinguish, to alternator defects.

You may find that customers seek your advice on removing and recharging the battery. Providing that the owner is fortunate enough to have a private drive, (or, even better, a garage), then you can recommend that they buy a smart charger and connect the battery permanently to the mains, following the charger maker’s instructions, naturally.

Alternatively, and presuming that their DIY skills are up to the task (or else you can consider offering assistance), they can remove the battery from the car and charge it indoors. While you can advise them to check that the battery’s voltage does not dip below 12.5v and charge it as required, emphasise that any domestic charging must be carried out in a cool and well- ventilated area. As certain batteries can vent hydrogen and oxygen during charging, an enclosed airing cupboard is hardly an ideal location, unless your customer wishes to re-enact the Hindenburg disaster at the flick of a light switch…

When advising about chargers, you might also wish to consider if those in your workshop are suitable for the latest battery technologies. Many decades-old trickle-type chargers languish in DIY garages and professional workshops, which are designed for flooded lead-acid batteries. These apply a constant voltage and a variable current, which declines gradually as the battery reaches full charge. Yet, they do not turn off completely, which risks overcharging, damaging modern sealed batteries, especially. In addition, they do not guard against acid stratification, which is when the electrolyte’s acidity in the battery is stronger at the bottom of each cell and weaker at the top. Smart chargers apply different voltage levels to overcome this, as well as including other programmes to help reverse sulphation. If left plugged into the mains permanently, they possess a maintenance cycle to keep the battery between 95 and 100% charged but they switch off to avoid overcharging. Many smart chargers also have different algorithms to cater for the latest Advanced Glass Mat battery technologies.

Replace battery technologies like-for-like, at the very least. A number of look-up tools will help you to select the battery and guide you through the procedure, which will also give you an idea of how long the task will take.
You might wish to upgrade your workshop charger to a smart charger. Not only is the pictured unit unsuitable for AGM batteries but it also lacks the algorithms
to help break down stubborn sulphation and prevent acid stratification. Always ensure that a charger is compatible with the battery technology. For example, an AGM battery must be charged using an AGM compatible charger type. Failure to do so will result in permanent damage and premature failure.

DIAGNOSIS…

As with any customer complaint, accurate diagnosis must be your priority. Establish, for example, if a non-start complaint is the fault of the battery, the vehicle’s charging system, or components that draw an excessive parasitic discharge. LKQ Euro Car Parts explained that flat batteries, caused by vehicles’ systems not shutting down correctly, are more obvious when they are not used every day, which explains the increase in flat batteries that occurred soon after lockdown.

Battery testing considers two main parameters: the state of charge is measured in volts but this does not tell you whether, or not, the battery can turn-over a cold engine. The State of Health is established in amps, a figure that is compared with the Cold Crank Amps (CCA) figure printed on the battery side.

EVOLVING BATTERY TECHS…

While battery technology has evolved, it seems that technician knowledge has not kept-up. This statement was proven last year, when ECOBAT found that fewer than one in ten technicians, of over 400 it questioned, did not know the meanings of SLI, EFB and AGM. Perhaps we should not be surprised. One battery supplier that we contacted did not know, either.

With low emission stop-start and later micro and mild hybrid technologies becoming ever more popular within the past decade, batteries have had to change internally to tolerate the greater number of starts and handle different discharge and charging demands. With very basic stop-star models, the traditional SLI (Starter Light Ignition) is replaced by an EFB (Enhanced Flooded Battery). As its name hints, the EFB remains of the same liquid electrolyte construction as SLI but with numerous changes to enhance charge acceptance. These include thinner but more numerous plates and additional elements used in its construction, such as carbon and lithium.

AGM (Advanced Glass Mat) batteries can also be called VRLA (Valve Regulated Lead Acid) and feature glass mats, which absorb the liquid electrolyte and are pressed tightly against the plates. The result is higher efficiency, a greater tolerance of deeper discharges and a typical 30-40% increase in CCA, compared to EFB and SLI designs. Yet, they are significantly more expensive than flooded types, which poses a hurdle for customers to accept.

Just as brake pads wear whenever the pedal is applied, batteries also wear every time they are used. As stop-start systems increase the number of required engine starts, the different battery technologies need longer lives. GS Yuasa told us that the difference is considerable: A SLI battery tolerates up to 50,000 starts, which jumps to 270,000 for EFB and 360,000 for a typical AGM.

REPLACEMENT CHALLENGES…

For whatever reason, if you find that the battery has shed much of its capacity, you will need to identify the appropriate battery technology. Resources, such as Banner’s www. bannerbatteryfinder.co.uk, ECOBAT’s https://batteryfinder. ecobat.tech/ , GS Yuasa’s https://batterylookupgb.yuasa.co.uk/ and VARTA’s www.varta-automotive.com/en-gb/ battery-finder and Partner Portal www.varta-automotive.com/en-gb/business-portal/log-in are all useful resources that identifies the OEM specification by vehicle registration number. Many of these sites also show you where the battery is located, how it can be removed and replaced physically and whether, or not, the smart alternator needs to be reset.

This diagnostics intervention is crucial for long life of the new battery. The majority of cars that feature stop-start technology possess a battery monitoring system, which tends to feature a BMS (Battery Management System) sensor on the negative terminal. As the system adjusts its charging algorithms to compensate for battery degradation, until it has reached the end of its useful life, the software must be reset, after you have installed a new replacement. VARTA explains that, aside from potential battery damage through overcharging, various functions could cease to operate, if the diagnostic reset is overlooked. The equipment affected includes not only the stop-start function but also various electrical ancillaries, such as the electric windows and even folding roofs.

Aside from their online portals, battery companies can assist with a comprehensive selection of hardware, too. ECOBAT boasts its ‘ONE BOX’ kit www.ecobat.tech/ brands/onebox/, comprising a tester, smart charger
and an EOBD-based programming tool. The company is also operating a free battery training, assessment and certification programme. It works by watching this video www.youtube.com/watch?v=EyAwPUAljWA&t=1s and taking this assessment https://ebtuk.typeform.com/to/S8AOWi. Presuming that you pass, you can download a choice of branded (Exide, Lucas, Numax, or VARTA) or non- branded certificates from ECOBAT’s main website: https://uk.ecobat.tech/brands/one-box/one-box-assessment. LKQ Euro Car Parts is also emphasising that diagnostic training is important, when tracing parasitic drains and interrogating battery monitoring systems in particular. The company told AT that it is working hard to communicate with its aftermarket customers about the range of battery training options available, through the Auto Education Academy training platform.

Battery deterioration can be hastened by excessive current consumption, after the vehicle’s various ECUs have powered-down. A DC clamp meter is a useful tool to measure current draw. Issues with smart charging systems can be identified with an oscilloscope.
It is a wise idea to test every battery’s state- of-charge (volts) and
state-of-health (amps) on every vehicle that enters your workshop, especially during the autumn and winter months. The readout will either be a percentage, or an amps figure, which is compared against the individual battery’s CCA specification

CHANGING CUSTOMER PERCEPTIONS…

More exotic materials, increasingly sophisticated battery construction and time-intensive replacement mean that you might face extra challenges from the customer. The days of replacing a battery for under £100 are fading fast and you may have to quote the facts from this article to avoid suspicions (or even blatant accusations) that you are profiteering. Obviously, their higher cost makes it even more important that you do not discard a serviceable battery in the first place through misdiagnosis. Even so, be wary of a number of pitfalls that your customer could suggest to reduce their expenditure.

The main temptation is downgrading the battery technology, so fitting an EFB, or SLI battery, to a vehicle designed for an AGM would be very poor practice. Banner Batteries advise this should be avoided at all costs and joins VARTA and GS Yuasa in stating that batteries should be replaced on a like-for-like basis. Yet, such manufacturers concur that you can upgrade technologies as an upsell. Downgrading, meanwhile, will result in premature battery failure, a main cause of which is damaged plates, through deep discharge and subsequent fast recovery, which flooded lead acid types are not designed to support. Using an SLI in an AGM application can damage it to such an extent that it can lose as much of 16% of its CCA (capacity) in the first week of use. Understandably, this risks the unsatisfied customer returning to you for another battery, and an explanation about why various other functions have ceased working. Battery supplier warranties will not cover damage caused by incorrect applications.

Another problem is some customers supplying, or requesting that you source, a second-hand AGM battery for you to fit. VARTA told AT that is does not recommend this approach, because the used part’s previous life and its condition are unknown. Additionally, the battery management system (BMS) would have configured itself to the old battery and could use an incorrect profile to charge the replacement used one. While it is possible that the BMS might learn the battery’s condition, this is not guaranteed and, even so, would not occur immediately. Regardless, the risks still remain: curtailed battery life, potential dashboard error messages and functions ceasing to work. Obviously, you cannot reset the BMS to any value other than that for a new battery.

Aside from having to overcome customers’ historic presumptions on battery replacement costs, battery and charging system development over the last decade especially has dictated that garages invest in extra training and hardware. It is worth your while. Provided that you have prepared appropriately, you can reassure customers that you are capable of replacing batteries on even the latest models, as well as helping to secure a profitable area of the market that is certain to grow.

Resetting the BMS is performed via the EOBD socket. Pictured is the EBT-780, part of ECOBAT’s ONE BOX kit.

4 Focus – Innovative Technology – Jaguar, Renault, Kia, Falken

Iain Robertson takes a look at innovative technology in newer models…

JAGUAR – VIRTUAL REALITY IN-CAR 

It might be terrifying enough to have other road-users jumping out at you, while carrying out a test drive, but Jaguar is already working on the first application of Virtual Reality (3D technology) for its next-generation of head-up displays (HUD). Naturally, HUD is not new and the Land Rover arm of the company has already developed ‘virtual terrain’ technology using perimetric cameras to provide off-roaders with a virtual and augmented view of what lies ahead and just below the front axle, aspects that would normally dictate an external check first. However, Jaguar’s research is being carried out in conjunction with the Centre for Advanced Photonics and Electronics (CAPE) at Cambridge University. The intention is to develop a more immersive and safer driving experience that will match more closely real-life activities to make drivers react more speedily and naturally to hazards and prompts, when using the HUD (the graphic images of which are normally projected onto the lower section of windscreen). Perhaps more intriguing is the ‘split-screen’ technology that allows a front passenger but not the driver to view TV programmes on the car’s central touchscreen (nothing new) but 3D programmes can now be viewed without a need to wear special glasses. Both developments form part of Jaguar Land Rover’s ‘Smart Cabin’ vision for the future, applying technologies that combine to create personalised in-car spaces, with enhanced safety, entertainment and convenience central to an autonomous, shared plan. 

RENAULT – ZOE BECOMES MORE ECO-FRIENDLY 

One of the core issues residing around the ‘eco-friendly’ claims made by various carmakers for their latest electrified vehicle offerings, apart from electricity being sourced from coal, gas, or oil-fired power stations, is that CO2 emissions are still high in manufacturing terms. Therefore, it makes it difficult, when attempting to state a positive environmental contribution, when the ‘costs’ associated with EVs are steeper than for ICE alternatives. Carmakers have been slow to introduce trim fabrics produced from rapidly renewable plants. BMW has managed it with its i3, in using bamboo fibres to produce upholstery. Now, Renault has joined the 100% renewable set with its much- revised Zoe model. Using a special carding technique, without melting or chemical reconstruction, the industry first process uses old seatbelts and recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastics that are already regarded as being inert and safe, in what is known as ‘short-loop’ manufacturing. It is cost- effective and reduces emissions by around 60%, in contrast with conventional fabric production. Applied to dashboard, centre console, door cards and seating, the result is a very high-quality finish. However, on upmarket versions of the Zoe, which feature a leather-like fabric alongside the cloth, no animals have been sacrificed for the more luxurious appearance. Again, a similar process has resulted in the leatherette fabric, which breathes similarly to hide and is even more wear and stain resistant, as added bonuses. 

KIA – RESOLVING TRANSMISSION POWER LOSSES IN HYBRIDS 

While pre-emptive gearbox shift technology features in the Nissan Skyline GTR35, see New Car Focus on page 60, problems confronting manufacturers of hybrid vehicles are, firstly, the type of transmission being used, which tends to favour constantly variable, secondly, the speed of perceived ratio changes and, as an adjunct, the enjoyment factor for the driver. Kia, while not unique, uses a fairly conventional, twin-clutch, automated-manual gearbox in its hybrid models. Renowned for effecting race-quick and normally smooth gearchanges, you might not feel that further improvements can be made. However, Hyundai, Kia’s parent company, has now developed ASC (Active Shift Control), which applies control logic software (that monitors gearshift speeds 500 times a second) to the Hybrid Control Unit (HCU) electric motor that aligns the rotational speeds of both engine and gearbox, to reduce gearshift times from 500ms to 350ms and make the changes smoother too. Most hybrids do not feature torque converters, as they can be very inefficient. Using the ASC, Kia’s tests resulted in better acceleration, increased fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions, with the added benefit of increasing the longevity of the transmission, by minimising friction during each gearshift. The speedier gearshifts impart extra driver satisfaction. Once the test programme is completed, ASC will be introduced to all hybrid cars in Hyundai-Kia’s ranges. 

FALKEN – USING TYRES TO DEVELOP ENERGY 

School-time physics ensures that most people know that motion energy can be turned into another form of energy. Therefore, it is fascinating to learn that Falken Tyre, which is part of the enormous Sumitomo Rubber Industries conglomerate, has been working in close association with the Kansai University in Japan. While energy is required and used by both engine and transmission to turn road wheels, the tyres heat-up and static electricity builds-up. If the energy were harnessed, it might be  used to generate electricity efficiently, as the wheels turn. The result of the exercise is the Energy Harvester tyre. Within its carcass are two layers of rubber, each of which is covered in an electrode, along with a negatively charged film that interfaces with a positively charged film. When fixed to the inside of a conventional tyre carcass, it generates electricity as the tyre deforms during rotation. Falken’s engineers believe that the Energy Harvester could lead to practical applications, such as a power source for sensors used by TPMS (Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems), although it has to be noted that TPMS sensors are not especially power sapping, meaning that future development is needed for it to be of any practical use. Created as part of Sumitomo’s R&D programme to develop technologies that target improvements in safety and environmental performance, the Japan Science and Technology Agency (a national R&D body) has recognised it as a ‘seed project’ under A-STEP (a technology transfer programme). Sumitomo Rubber Industries will now advance its research with support from the Agency. 

 

4 Focus – Innovative Technology – Hyundai, Honda, Mazda & Suzuki

Ian Robertson takes a look at innovative technology in newer models.

HYUNDAI – CVVD TECHNOLOGY 

We have all heard about and worked on various ‘Constantly Variable’ aspects of valve-train technology but South Korean carmaker, Hyundai, still believes in the on-going viability of the ICE. It says that its Constantly Variable Valve Duration (CVVD) optimises engine performance, fuel efficiency and emissions. In essence, the system regulates the duration of intake valve opening and closing, according to driving conditions. It claims to increase power by 4%, with a 5% improvement in fuel economy, while reducing overall CO2 exhaust emissions by a significant 12%. While variable valve technology is far from new, Hyundai claims that CVVD takes it in a fresh direction, by adjusting the length of duration that an intake valve is open. It opens the intake valve from the middle to the end of the compression stroke, improving fuel efficiency by reducing the forces acting against the piston. At higher speeds, keeping the intake valve closed during the beginning of the compression stroke maximises the amount of air in the mix to create superior combustion, therefore increasing torque and improving acceleration. Later this year, Hyundai will launch the new petrol engine that features CVVD in 1.6-litre V4 form, with turbocharger and direct injection, in a new Sonata model. It develops a cool 180bhp and 195lbs ft of torque. The new unit also features 350bar fuel pressure, a new thermal management system to heat, or cool, the engine speedily and 34% lower friction parts. 

HONDA – A GROUND-UP COMPACT EV 

With hopes of managing expectations for its all new Honda e, as THE EV of choice for city dwellers, the Japanese carmaker has insisted on a ‘simplicity-first’ stance. Featuring a water-cooled 35.5kWh lithium ion high capacity battery pack, the Honda e can be charged using either a Type 2 AC connection or a CCS2 DC rapid charger, with an at-a-glance indication of charging status. The Honda e has a driving range of up to 125 miles, to underscore its urban mobility role. A rapid charger can restore up to 80% of its battery capacity from ‘empty’ within 30 minutes. The charge port is located beneath a small flap set into the bonnet’s leading edge, with an illuminated glazed panel for nocturnal charging. The full-width digital instrument panel inside the car also displays charging and usage rates. Set to be launched in two months’ time, its low and compact, mid-chassis battery location helps to provide it with a near perfect 50:50 weight distribution. Dedicated to providing balanced dynamics, the electrically driven rear axle ensures that the car’s steering responses are uncorrupted. However, featuring fairly conventional independent suspension, with many components produced from forged aluminium, the car has been gifted a fluent ride quality allied to a first-rate, responsive handling remit. A tight turning circle aids urban manoeuvrability. Although the car was revealed at Geneva earlier this year, it was also demonstrated at the recent Goodwood Festival of Speed and has attracted over 30,000 interested responses across Europe, with 9,000 from the UK. 

MAZDA – TAKING A LARGER CAPACITY ROUTE TO MANAGING FRUGALITY 

With its latest Mazda3 model, which boasts exceptional aerodynamics (0.21Cd), the Japanese company continues to exercise a larger ICE engine capacity with lower specific power outputs in both petrol and diesel forms. CO2 ratings and noxious emissions are the core issues. Rather than take the small engine/high power route of many of its rivals, an aspect leading them to revert to larger capacity
ICEs, due to future emissions requirements, Mazda has concentrated on‘Well-to-Wheel’(W2W) methodology, believing that current EV ratings of 0g/ km are disingenuous. It supports its contention by stating that its Skyactiv-G (petrol) and -D (diesel) units average out at 142g/km, while an equivalent EV might be around a true 124g/km, which suggests that a 10% improvement in efficiency would draw them into similar territory. Mazda believes that the ICE will have a major role to play beyond 2030. However, it is the firm’s Skyactiv-X engine development, featuring Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI) that combines the benefits of both spark and compression ignition technology, which is its most exciting development. Running 2-3 times leaner than today’s ICEs, conventional spark plugs alone cannot ignite the mixture. Mazda’s solution is to trigger both forms of combustion in different ways. By managing the spark, while compressing the mixture, using a new piston design, the combustion phase can be stabilised, made predictable and reliable, but both work seamlessly together, as dictated by load. SPCCI returns 20% greater fuel economy, while torque increases by 10-30%. 

SUZUKI – SMALL CAPACITY ENGINES WILL NOT MANAGE FUTURE CO2 CONTROLS 

For many years, the world’s best small car specialist was Fiat. Today that mantle is worn by Suzuki Cars. While the Japanese company’s design stance is a blend of pleasant and benign, its first-class engineering has seldom been drawn into question. The Vitara crossover model pictured is a good example of a market-leading 1.0-litre turbo-triple (109bhp) powered car that can boast 50mpg potential but, under WLTP rules, emits 153g/km in 2WD form (162g/km 4×4). Although road tax and (for business-users) Benefit-in-Kind taxation continue to use existing NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) laboratory ratings for both fuel economy and emissions, the change to WLTP (World Harmonised Light Vehicle Test
Procedure) ‘real world’ testing will occur within the next two years. As a result, Suzuki is now developing its naturally aspirated GDI DualJet, rather than the more recent BoosterJet turbo-petrol technology. The engine capacities will increase, although Suzuki is remaining tight-lipped on what size they will be. DualJet engines are a collaboration between Suzuki and Bosch and feature paired fuel injectors. Being positioned close to the combustion chamber, improved fuel atomisation, faster vaporisation and more efficient filling of the chamber are achieved. Like Mazda’s latest engines, a higher compression ratio (12.0:1) increases the speed that the flame passes through the mixture and it burns more efficiently. It has revised piston crown profiles, below piston cooling, an optimised water jacket and a revised EGR layout (to deal with NOx emissions) featuring integrated cooling to resolve abnormal combustion events such as misfiring, fuel issues and so on. 

New car tech – a detailed look at innovation in newer models

Iain Robertson takes a detailed look at innovative technology in newer models.

DS7 – ACTIVE HEADLAMPS 

Virtually all carmakers for the past decade have been creating LED headlamp signatures for their various cars, to differentiate between models in a range and, with fancier arrays, to also highlight more expensive variants. While the Vauxhall division of the PSA Group equips some models with Intellilux matrix- style headlighting (next issue), the luxury arm, DS, uses an Active LED system. Fitted as standard to higher-spec DS7 models (an option on lower grades), at start-up, or switch-on, the three LED lamps in each headlamp array illuminate in purple and then swivel through 180-degrees and ‘dance’ prior to settling into their active modes. It is a remarkable display, reminiscent of the swivelling lamps of classic Citroën models but also proves to be highly efficient. A fixed LED projector unit sits alongside in each unit. At night, with the lighting selector on ‘automatic’, the beam adapts in width and range to the road conditions and the vehicle’s speed. Six lighting modes are available: Parking (no glare), Town Beam (picks up on the edges of the light pattern), Country Beam (detects lighting ahead but broadens the beam width), Motorway Beam (faster driving expands light range), Adverse Beam (takes weather conditions into account and reduces lamp intensity) and High Beam (also dips automatically). While the spread of illumination is greater than with Xenon lamps, safety is also enhanced with the rear LED lights that activate in an instant and benefit from a lifespan as long as that of the car.

AUDI – PROACTIVE, PREDICTIVE AND REACTIVE 4WD 

For more than three decades, the quattro 4×4 system has been synonymous with Audi. While mild upgrades have taken place on a tried and trusted system, Audi has repurposed it for longitudinal engine layouts and branded it ‘Quattro-ultra’. The developments involve an array of sensors, linked to an ECU that controls the predictive use of 4×4, although its default position will be traction-controlled front-wheel drive, to improve fuel economy. As expected, Quattro-Ultra’s electronics are networked with other systems in the car. In proactive mode, the car will detect wheel slip, angles and both lateral and longitudinal acceleration, within defined parameters, before enabling four-wheel drive. In predictive mode, the sensors take driving style, status of the ESC (stability control), dynamic Drive Select (chassis adjustability) mode and towing detection into account, while the reactive setting will detect if the car’s tyres move suddenly from dry tarmac to an ice-covered road. For front-wheel drive, two clutches are used in the front transaxle, with a ‘wet’ multi-plate clutch (oil bath) at the gearbox take-off that disconnects the propshaft. An integrated decoupler in the rear-axle differential also opens, shutting down the primary cause of drag losses in the rear section of the drivetrain. The all wheel drive, wet multi- plate clutch is located at the rear of the transmission, where it uses an electric motor to drive a spindle that operates it. The quattro drivetrain is nearly four kilograms (8.8 lb) lighter than the previous system, despite the new technical components. 

VOLVO XC60 – LARGE ANIMAL DETECTOR 

When talking with Scandinavian residents about the most problematic aspects of driving in their splendid countries, they will tell you that elk avoidance is a priority. Although you might not think  it, between horses, stray cattle and deer, our on-road hazards can be almost as serious. It will come as little surprise that Volvo Cars, which operates an insurance industry leading crash test and accident recovery programme in Sweden, has introduced a Large Animal Detection system in its vehicles’ forward-facing, City Safety, ADAS crash mitigation program. Even a low-speed clash with wildlife can cause substantial damage on a vehicle, let alone the animal and the vehicle’s occupants. Using a monocular camera, in conjunction with milliwave radar, located in the Volvo’s radiator grille, a graphic representation of the animal is displayed in the ‘head-up’ display, the main instrument panel and also on the vertical display screen in the centre console. While the responsibility for travelling at a sensible speed and for taking avoidance action is in the driver’s hands, the City Safe program will also operate the relevant Volvo model’s autonomous braking system and even the ‘swerve’ control related to steering deflection, all without the car losing control. It is not a fail-safe system but anything that provides any degree of assistance to even the most engaged of drivers, to avoid a major incident, must be considered worthwhile. 

FORD – KNOCK FOR KNOCK 

We are a ‘car proud’ nation. We lavish millions of Pounds annually on our vehicles, with new polishes, cleaning cloths and detailing gear topping the sales charts at accessory shops around the UK. A few years ago, clearly before car owners thought about the potential damage arising from screw-fixing a rubber deflector (usually complete with reflective disc) to their vehicles’ doors, the range of slide-on, slip-over and bolt-on options was surprisingly comprehensive for something so inexpensive. Yet, at resale time, if the owner did not spend a final Sunday afternoon with the touch-up paint, those annoying little dings and paint-chips that occurred invariably on the edges of the driver’s and front passenger doors could cost several hundred pounds in lost value. While the latest Ford Focus and Fiesta models now feature the Door Edge Protector either as standard on higher specification models, or as part of an optional kit, it was available on the previous generation Focus. It is an ingenious ‘pop out’ device produced from dark grey, compliant plastic. With the door closed, it is invisible. As the door is opened, it springs into place and protects the most scratch vulnerable section of door edge. With parking spaces becoming more cramped, it is a surprise that Door Edge Protectors are not standardised across other brands. As a technological innovation, it may not seem like much but it possesses tremendous value to the car proud individual.