Treats all around this time, with a couple of tricks thrown in for good measure.
More BMWs Head to North America
Let’s start with the possibility of BMW shifting vehicles to the US market as a counter to a sales slowdown in Europe. Of course, they aren’t re-routing ships with ready built cars to US ports (they’d have to find those crummy orange DOT front markers for all of them once they got ashore). Rather they’ll shift production to US specification models.
The big European factories, Leipzig, Dingolfing, and Munich as well as Spartanburg in the US will up the North American mix of their production schedules. For Leipzig that would mean X1s (and I could imagine Canada having good sales numbers of that vehicle). For Munich/Dingolfing it would be 3ers, 5ers, 6ers, and 7ers. While Spartanburg would shift towards more North American versions of the X3/X5/X6.
But the US market is relatively uncertain at the moment too, and how much additional sales capacity can BMW mine here? Is there an off chance that we may some good deals on cars soon? Trunk money? Keep your eyes opens shoppers!
The 2014 Corvette gets a new small block. Thoughts that the new engine would shed some cubic inches proved to be incorrect. Instead GM is going the cylinder deactivation route to provide even greater fuel mileage numbers (as well as direct injection). What separates the LT1 and Corvette from other V8 cylinder deactivation schemes is the separation of the engine and transmission fore and aft in the Corvette. One of the great things about the C5 and up ‘vettes has been the aft mounted transmission.
A lot of enthusiasts can remember the Porsche 924/944 with it’s rear mounted transmission (a transaxle). Most won’t remember that Lancia did the same thing with it’s B20 Aurelia in the 1950s. (If I could afford to keep one running a mid ’50s Aurelia GT would be high on my list of must have cars). So the Corvette has some good company with it’s engine/transaxle split.
The problem with that front-engined/rear-transaxle layout and cylinder deactivation is the vibration that the usual single cylinder bank deactivation creates – you have an engine speed propshaft playing jump rope between your passengers at that point. GM solves this by creating a V4 instead of a single bank inline-4 with cylinder deactivation. Oh and by the way, 450 HP/450 lb-ft of torque and 0-60 in under 4 seconds. That’s the base engine folks. I don’t care if it still uses push-rods to activate valves. It gets the job done and weighs less than the high-tech M5 powerplant. Tricks and treats!
Here’s an interesting piece of technology, the UK Technology Strategy Board, in conjunction with Ricardo Engineering, has been building a small micro-hybrid engine, a 1.0 L 3 cylinder turbo gas direct injected unit from Ford and has it running in a Ford Focus. No small feat – it produces approximately 160 HP (better than a lot of 7 liter V8s from the early 1970s).
The key to this power output is the micro-hybrid electrification and the use of an electrically powered centrifugal supercharger. With taller gearing (for fuel economy) a small engine with a fairly large turbocharger will not perform well. It will be very sluggish at low RPMs when the throttle is prodded.
To overcome this problem a micro-hybrid electrical system is included that is used to supply an appropriately sized jolt of electricity to the electric centrifugal supercharger. The key to this is that the centrifugal supercharger uses energy from braking and coasting (that would otherwise be lost) to build sufficient boost pressures at low RPM. That provides good low RPM torque and throttle response and tides the engine over until the turbocharger comes up on boost.
By not oversizing the electrical storage capacity (read batteries) and using the centrifugal supercharger in a supporting role they’ve managed to produce decent horsepower out of a pint sized engine (well – not pint sized, maybe a bit bigger than ‘two pints’ sized).
Stay safe and our thoughts and prayers are with the folks impacted by Sandy.