Monday, April 9, 2012

Small comment on the new sports Hybrid trend.

I had to copy this text from a post I've just done on a Linkedin thead, discussing the new Ferrari Hybrid news:

I'm much pleased with this NEW hybrid trend. I mean I've always hated the stupid hybrid trend. The lack of engine in a Prius or IMA will make the petrol unit consume more just to drive around; then add 200kg of battery weight (and calculate the impact to mine and process all those heavy metals...and multiply by 2 cause they will have to be recycled some day)...let's face it. It's just a TAX scheme so politicians can charge more for ALL THE OTHER NORMAL CARS, and then use the money with their own V12 engines and private jets instead of applying the TAX in environmental equilibrium measures (like planting trees for instance).
But Lexus got this right the first time. If Hybrid is an environmental nonsense, let's use it for performance, with a small, light battery and an electric assist engine for launch-control torque...and best of all, most governments will charge HALF the tax they did cause it's hybrid.
Porsche did the same but took one step further and decided to mate it with a trajectory computer and make a torque vectoring system.
Audi followed and so did Honda.
Let's wait for the Italians and check it out.
But I must say...FINALLY someone uses the Hybrid for the only thing it's actually good : melting rubber!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

BMW GINA - The best automotive Innovation effort since the year 2000

Hello again, I've dedicated some time trying to find exactly how is the car industry evolving, what are the best efforts being done and just how needed or logical they are.
To my deception, I've seen very few good products and a growing trend of spoiling what's good and create bad products following politicians unneeded laws that serve the sole purpose of non representative taxation.

Presenting GINA:
I've tried to go back 12 years. During that time I've seen some interesting Ideas and implementations, but none that could really make the wow factor...except this beauty:
Back in 2001, BMW, in a move I can only quality as ingenious, gave birth to the GINA concept Project. GINA (Geometry and Functions In “N” Adaptations) was a project of full creative nature intended to fuse disrupting technology and design with Form&Function Design bases.

They grabbed the Z8 full aluminium rolling chassis, with it's 400bhp 4.0 V8 and semi-automatic 6 speed gearbox driving the rear wheels, and started substituting the body panels with a wire-frame of aluminium structures. Some are fixed, but most are articulated and servo'ed.
To cover the skeleton, they created a "skin" made out of a translucent polyurethane reinforced silk fabric.
The result is brilliant. The looks organic...alive and the articulated structures move under the skin and change the car's shape according to need...
..whether it's a simple get in our out of the car...
... to carrying objects that are bigger than the trunk's original volume...
...or you are just a bigger, or smaller than your wife/husband his, because the obsession with Form-Function Adaptability goes all the way into the interior of the car.

If you haven't Seen the video:

As usual when it comes to prototypes (like the Asterio)... MY thoughts:
I'm an absolute fan of this car, and in particular, the concept it's self. I feel however that they were blinded by their own initial idea and left the improvements on the skin/skeleton side...and condemned it to the eternal prototype stage with lack of production engineering.
However since the time of it's d├ębut and consequent moving to BMW's museum, some advances have happened, making the engineering part of this marvel car a lot easy.
I'll break my analysis down into Problems and Solutions:
Problem 1:
Aero-Dynamics! Sure the car can change it's form as is and get slimmer and faster, but the car's skin is flexible and that will make it deform inwards when submitted to high pressures, and outwards when submitted to low pressures. 
Ever seen a convertible-soft-top passing you by at speed with it's fabric soft-top inflated like a balloon? Picture that the front of that same car was made from the same material and you would see-it deformed inwards.
New Electro-active Polymer Materials could compose an inner layer network of tissue, glued to the outer skin. This material will bend one way or another depending on voltage strength or polarity. Watch the video and you'll get how a soft skin would react to aero-dynamics deformation if reinforced with this fabric.
This would allow the car to strength the front with more voltage, the bonnet with moderate voltage, the soft top with huge inverted polarity voltage, and so on.

Problem 2:
Excessive Weight due to the articulated structures like the car's eye-like headlights.
Solution 2:
Once again Electro-active Polymers come to action with this video:

Problem 3:
Wheels! While focusing into creating a marvellous design evolution, BMW forgot to evolve the wheels into something lighter, with less unsprung weight, bigger braking power and killer looks.
Solution 3:
Osmos Hubless wheels.

Problem 4:
Excessive unsprung weight in the suspension. 
Solution 4:
F1 Style Push-rod Suspension.

Problem 5:
Doors. The doors should fold under the car instead of lifting like the Lamborghini's do. They should also reinforce the structure.
Solution 5:
Fuse the design of a NASCAR lateral protection Bar-frame with an umbrella like articulation of fixed mount joints. Then cover it with fabric and make the car side panel fold down to the car floor-line and back-up when you "close the door".

Problem 6:
The engine. Huge V engines age not the way to go.
Solution 6:
Either a 4, 5 or 6 cylinder in-line petrol engine, super-squared with reinforced valve-train and bottom-end to sustain over 11.000rpm. And a couple more engine options and mods I'm not writing about until I file my patents ;)

Still I absolutely adore this car and consider it the ONE thing representing quantifiable and award-able evolution since 2000.
Pity I don't work at BMW.