All posts by Ryan Symancek

Continental to Introduce Fully Automated Valet Parking

Continental Automotive Group, the German company which specializes in tires and automotive technology, has developed an automated technology solution, enabling cars to valet park without a driver. Recently presented to the public at the 2017 International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt, the fully automated Valet Parking function was demonstrated in a demo vehicle at Continental’s premises in the city.

Continental Automated Valet Parking

Continental’s latest innovative technology has been presented at a time when autonomous driving is an increasingly hot topic in the Middle East as a number of GCC governments have revealed their plans to develop smart cities and boost autonomous driving.

“With valet parking, we have presented a driverless function, which relieves drivers from a tedious procedure,” explained Alfred Eckert, Head of Advanced Technology in Continental’s Chassis & Safety division. “The valet parking function provides drivers with a beneficial service in terms of convenience and time. It is also a concrete step towards modern mobility based on fully automated driving.”

With this new technology, once the driver has exited the vehicle, the car navigates independently through the parking garage barrier, detecting free parking spaces and parks fully autonomously on the first floor. Pedestrians and other vehicles crossing its path are detected and the driving strategy is adapted dynamically. The next stage of development, which Continental’s team of engineers in Germany are working on now, will mean the system can also navigate up and down ramps to other levels in multi-story parking facilities.

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Chevrolet’s First Nine-Speed Automatic Transmission in the Middle East Makes Its Debut in the 2018 Equinox Premier

Chevrolet’s first nine-speed automatic transmission in the Middle East makes its debut in the 2018 Equinox Premier, advancing a legacy of multi-speed transmissions designed to optimize efficiency, performance and refinement.

The new, General Motors-developed Hydra-Matic 9T50 nine-speed is paired with the available 2.0 L Turbo engine in the Equinox, contributing to a fuel economy of 13.6 KM/L.

“In addition to improved fuel efficiency, the new 9-speed transmission offers a strong overall balance of performance and refinement that customers will feel at all driving speeds,” said Dan Nicholson, vice president, Global Propulsion Systems. “By the end of 2017, Chevrolet will offer 2 models with the new nine-speed in the Middle East.”

Chevrolet's First Nine-Speed Automatic Transmission-02

The new nine-speed has a wider 7.6:1 overall ratio — the difference between the first gear ratio and the top gear ratio supports excellent off-the-line acceleration and a ‘tall’ top gear for low-rpm highway cruising. That balance optimizes acceleration and fuel economy and reduces engine noise during cruising.

“The smaller steps between the gears, compared to the GM eight-speed, enable smooth, almost imperceptible upshifts, for excellent refinement,” said Nicholson. “No matter the engine torque or vehicle speed, the new 9-speed transmission is always in the perfect gear.”

The new transmission also supports stop/start technology that can help save fuel by allowing the engine to shut down in certain stop-and-go driving conditions.

“The new nine-speed transmission is designed for our customers to get the most out of their Chevrolet,” said Ahmed Soudodi, Head of Brand at Chevrolet Middle East. “By improving performance and fuel efficiency, the Equinox offers world-class sophistication with a quiet, smooth, enjoyable ride, and we’re looking forward as this new transmission proliferates across other models in the lineup.”

 TECHNICAL BACKGROUND

Selectable one-way clutch 
Developed for the tight packaging requirements of transverse propulsion systems, the new 9T50 nine-speed automatic has an on-axis design, where all the gears are in line with the crankshaft, and GM’s first application of a selectable one-way clutch. Both features help reduce the package size, making it roughly the same size as a six-speed transmission.

The selectable one-way clutch, which can hold torque or freewheel, depending on the desired operating mode, contributes to a smaller overall size by eliminating the need for an additional clutch pack.

“The selectable one-way clutch is one of the biggest enablers of the 9T50’s balance of efficiency and refinement,” said Steve Saia, chief engineer. “It also symbolizes GM’s acumen when it comes to designing advanced, compact multispeed transmissions.”

Shift smoothness
For precise and smooth shifts, a specific strategy is used in the selection of the gearsets, clutches and torque converter. Five planetary gearsets are used with four stationary clutches and three rotating clutches, saving space compared to freewheeling designs. Gears change from second- to ninth-gear ratios with precise clutch-to-clutch shifting, where the clutch is engaged in one gear at exactly the same time it is released from another.

Chevrolet's First Nine-Speed Automatic Transmission-01

The first-to-second upshift is a freewheeling shift. The second-gear clutch engages while the first-gear one-way clutch spins freely, contributing to greater refinement at lower vehicle speeds.

Additionally, this planetary-type automatic transmission employs new torque converter technology to help it deliver smooth take-off performance and additional refinement. The converter features a hyper-elliptical oval cross-section that reduces the thickness of the torque converter, keeping the overall width of the engine and transmission as narrow as possible for packaging advantages.

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Rolls-Royce Celebrates 2017 Goodwood Revival

Rolls-Royce will celebrate the 2017 Goodwood Revival this weekend with a significant presence at the legendary motor circuit. The centerpiece will be the March Motor Works, this year renamed ‘Gordon Galleries’, echoing the shopping arcades of 1950’s central London.

2017 Goodwood Revival-01

The Galleries include a period Rolls-Royce showroom, recapturing the sights, sounds and atmosphere of the marque’s glamorous premises in London’s West End during the same period.

2017 Goodwood Revival-03

Within the showroom, a stunning 1956 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith Extended Wheelbase will be displayed, with a body by Freestone & Webb. Finished in black over red, the car was first presented at the 1956 British International Motor Show at Earl’s Court, London.

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Highly Automated Driving on Highways Is No Longer Just a Dream

Highly automated driving on highways is no longer just a dream, but a reality, thanks to leading automotive manufacturer Continental. The brand started testing automated driving systems on public roads back in 2012 and now has a global fleet of development vehicles.

The Highly Automated Driving (HAD) system gives vehicles the ability to take over driving on highways in accordance with national traffic regulations. At the end of a highway, control is transferred back to the driver; the handover is initiated by a state-of-the-art human machine interface. If the driver fails to respond when prompted to take over, the technology identifies a safe place to stop and pulls over using a minimum risk manoeuvre.

This intelligent function will be part of the system when it is ready for production in 2020, well in advance of many government plans in the region to develop smart cities and boost autonomous driving. While, for instance, the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority’s goal is to make 25 percent of all journeys driverless by 2030, in Saudi Arabia plans for the US$100bn King Abdullah Economic City have been remodeled to better accommodate driverless cars in recognition of potential future demand.

Highly Automated Driving

 

“The automated system brings a two-fold benefit when it comes to safety,” said Ralph Lauxmann, Head of Systems & Technology in Continental’s Chassis & Safety division. “Firstly, automation avoids human error in regular operation while also offering a comfortable ride. Secondly, it includes an additional fall-back mode that is not included in conventional vehicles. If the driver is unable to take control of the wheel again, then the technology safely brings the car to a stop.”

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Hyundai to Invest Heavily in Electric, Hybrid, and Fuel Cell Vehicles

Hyundai is taking a leading role in the transition towards a more environmentally sustainable motor industry, by creating a practical path forward in moving from fossil fuels to electric vehicles that will suit a wide range of worldwide markets.

Hyundai-Hybrid engine
Hyundai’s hybrid engine

While there is now a consensus in the motor industry that electric vehicles will dominate the future, Hyundai’s Head of Operations for Africa and the Middle East, Mike Song, says there is a tendency for companies to focus too heavily on a limited choice of technologies. As a result, the products in development may not be suitable for all markets, or all uses.

Hyundai is taking a different approach. Instead of committing to one form of technology, the Korean company is now manufacturing models using four different approaches to electric power: fully electric, hybrid, plug-in, and hydrogen fuel cell.

Hyundai to Invest Heavily in Electric

“Most major carmakers are developing cars with electric motors, and there is a general understanding in the industry that this is the future, and that electric cars are essential to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and limiting the effects of climate change,” said Mike Song. “The problem is how do we store the electricity needed to drive an electric motor? Electric power has always been possible, and in many ways better than internal combustion, but energy storage has always been the limiting factor.”

Until recently, most alternative drivetrains in production were hybrids, with an electric motor and internal combustion engine sharing the work of turning the wheels. Hybrids are being joined by a growing number of cars that only use an electric motor to move the car. These either rely on rechargeable batteries to store energy to drive the motor, or can be a plug-in hybrid, which has a battery-electric drivetrain, but with an internal combustion engine acting as a generator when the batteries cannot be recharged from an external power source.

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Vanquish Zagato Coupe and Volante Joined by Speedster and Shooting Brake

One of the most enduring creative partnerships in the automotive industry reached another milestone today. First with the global debut of the Vanquish Zagato Volante, followed by confirmation that not only will the Vanquish Zagato Speedster enter production, but it will be joined by a spectacular Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake.

Vanquish Zagato -12

This ‘family’ of four Vanquish Zagato models will yield a total of 325 cars. As the first member of the family, production of the Vanquish Zagato Coupes commenced in late 2016. Next to enter production was the Vanquish Zagato Volante. Once again strictly limited to 99 cars (all of which have been sold), production has commenced and deliveries will be completed through 2018.

Of the two remaining models, the Vanquish Zagato Speedster is the rarest, with a production run of just 28 cars. As you would expect from one of the most collectible and covetable Aston Martins ever, all 28 Vanquish Zagato Speedsters have been sold with deliveries scheduled for 2018. Completing the quartet, the Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake will also enter production in 2018, with a total build run of 99 cars matching those of the Coupe and Volante.

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A one-of-a-kind Ride in Merc’s Autonomous Car

The F 015 autonomous car made its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas more than two years ago. It’s packed with advanced (or what was considered advanced in 2015) autonomous technology, and can, in theory, run for almost 900 kilometers on a mixture of pure electric power and a hydrogen fuel cell.

Mercedes' autonomous car-01

But while countless other vehicles are still trying to prove that cars can, literally, drive themselves, Merc’s autonomous car offering takes this for granted. Instead, this vehicle wants us to consider what we’ll actually do while the car is driving us around.

The steering wheel slides into the dashboard to create more of a “lounge” space. The seating configuration allows four people to face each other if they want to talk. And when the onboard conversation dries up, a bewildering collection of screens — one on the rear wall, and one on each of the doors — offers plenty of opportunity to interact with various media.

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