Archive for June, 2009

The economic crisis and environmentalists have made Aston Martin mad

Posted in Car of The Future Project, Car of The Future Project Research with tags , , on June 29, 2009 by edwinconan

Aston Martin Cygnet Concept Car Revealed – Worldcarfans

Aston Martin reckons it has made a smart move, so to speak, by conceptualising a small city car. Based on the Toyota iQ the Aston Martin Cygnet is a mix of luxury, compactness and environmental friendliness.

Dr Ulrich Bez, the Chief Executive of AM says: “Now is the right time for Aston Martin to take this first bold step to embark on this special project – made possible with the support of an organisation of Toyota’s stature and capability and the intelligent design and perfect city car package of the iQ.”

The Cygnet does not signal the end of desirable beasts like the DB9 and the DBS. It will merely add to the range and give AM access to new markets.

“The offering of a ‘Cygnet’ with a DBS, DB9 or Vantage is a unique combination of opposites,” said Bez, “and a novel transport solution allowing intelligent and sensitive mobility on an exclusive and innovative level.”

The iQ is not a bad place to start with its EURO NCAP 5-star safety package and environmental consciousness. Aston Martin seems to be going into the same territory that Mercedes-Benz entered in the early 1990s with the smart where it initially partnered with Swiss watch maker Swatch. More details will be revealed once the project has been given final approval which Dr Bez expects to be in the not too distance future.

Just like a few days ago, I was shocked by the death of Michael Jackson, I am shocked again this time by the new Aston Martin.

The first thing I did was quickly go to the corner of the screen to check the date, ok, it’s not April Fool Day. And then I checked the display setting of my screen to make sure it is the correct size ratio 10:16, not 3:4. Then I checked my eyes and slapped myself to see if I was in my bed dreaming. I did all those things, because I couldn’t believe what I see on my computer, more to the point, what Aston is doing to Aston.

Aston Martin is pimping a Toyota iQ. I am still having a hard time to accept that. The stupid government and environmentalists have finally forced the coolest car maker in the world to lose its virginity, dignity and exclusivity to make a little, eco and gay micro car. The purity of Aston’s bloodline has finally be ruined.

My problem is not on the actual Aston Martin micro car, but more on the reason of doing this project. Aston doesn’t want to do that in the first place, rather, they are forced to do this project because of the upcoming regulations about fuel economy and emissions. A car maker has to keep the total CO2 emissions of their model range to 120g/km. Ferrari and Lamborghini can use their parents companies’ (FIAT and VW) small car models to average out the model fleet CO2 emission levels, but Aston can’t, they are individual company and only has big powerful and big CO2 emission models, so they have to spend extra money to make a little car to balance the emission.

Why it is always the supercar makers that get hit hard by green hippies and stupid government regulations? Simple, they are the superstars, eye catching. They are first things that pop up in mind. They are people’s targets. People requires a lot of thing from them. Take Michael Jackson for example, on one hand, people appreciate his music, performance on the stage, and his effort on promoting love, peace and his work on charity. And on the other hand, it’s the same people who slander him, sue him for all sorts of things and make his life so miserable, put him under pressure that eventually killed him. And so are the supercars. On one hand people want Supercar makers to make gorgeous, outrageous performance machines to fulfill their passions and dream, and on the other hand, people make those supercar makers to live a hard life of asking them to be green and environmentally responsible. Yes, to cover the same distance, an Aston Martin V8 Vantage does produce more CO2 than a Toyota Prius. But the Prius is driven everyday over the years, and the Aston rarely makes its way out of the garage. So, on a bigger scale, the Prius is more anti-social, more environmentally damaging and evil than the Aston V8. On a even bigger scale, all means of transportations, cars, ships, planes, add up together, contribute 30% of the total global CO2 emission. The amount that supercars all over the world produces add up together is so small that it cannot be measured. In the rest 70%, 50% is from buildings and infrastructure and building the infrastructure. Why the governments only focus on the smaller percentage and not doing anything on the big percentage?

Why can’t people just leave supercars alone? Just like why can’t people leave Michael Jackson alone in his Neverland? Supercars should also live in the neverland, they should be the children who never grow up. People should just let children play, watch them play and smile at them. But no, people think they are smart, and they should do something they think is smart to show that they are smart, and now look, Michael Jackson is dead, and Aston Martin is making micro cars.

Ok, it’s not all that bad and we all have to face it. I have to say, there are some good points. Look at that car, it’s so cute, much better looking than the Toyota iQ which it is based on. And I’m glad that those designers put a drawing of the upcoming beautiful Aston 4 door saloon on the wall when styling the minicar. And thanks God it is only sold to Aston Martin owners as a package. It’s like those soft drink package that you get in the supermarket, you by a 2L big bottle, and they come with a 600ml little bottle. So by driving that infant city Aston, people know that you’ve got a 6 liter V12 DB9 at home, so it is still kind of exclusive. But I’m pretty sure that very soon after the car hit the market, people who don’t have a big proper Aston Martin will be able to get hold of one of those little infant Aston, thanks to eBay and stuff. I’m also pretty sure it’ll be more fun to drive in the city than a big Aston. For a DB9 owner, driving the little Aston will be like when you grown up and look back at the photos of your childhood, it is still me, but just cuter, younger and more innocent. What’s better, if Aston forgets about the exclusivity thing all together and sell the little car separately to the mass market, very soon they will have more money than they have ever thought and they can spend it on making even more beautiful, powerful, unbelievable supercars. The little Aston is created to keep the big Aston alive.

One suggestion to the Aston owners and 007: Why don’t you rent a secured garage at the out skirt of the city, drive your big Aston Martin DBS there and switch to the little Aston to go into the city, do whatever you need to do in the city, then take the lady with you back to the garage, do whatever you need to do in the garage, then switch back to the DBS, then drive home and do whatever you need to do. At least when you stuck in congestion in the city, you can still look at the Aston badge on your steering wheel and dreaming the days you drive the big Aston, just don’t let the fact that it is actually a Toyota iQ wake you up from that dream.

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Oh, my god! Someone actually did it! Electric car with fake exhaust noise. PRETENDER!

Posted in Car of The Future Project, Car of The Future Project Research on June 18, 2009 by edwinconan

Brabus electric Smart car features electronic exhaust noise simulator – [Brabus Smart ForTwo ED] – MotorAuthority – Car news, reviews, spy shots

Brabus Smart ForTwo ED

It’s often cited as an advantage of electric cars, but it’s also one of the biggest potential danger zones: silence. It makes for peaceful – if somewhat eerie – cruising at speed, but it also poses a huge risk to pedestrians and other road users. So Brabus is doing something about it in the case of the Smart ForTwo Electric drive (ED).

Lotus Engineering and a number of research and automotive firms and governmental entities have come up with solutions that offer realistic exhaust sounds to those outside the cabin, and it’s not clear which solution Brabus is using, but it’s able to replicate a real engine. You can also choose between the sounds of a muscle car or an economy car, depending on your mood, reports Edmunds.

Fortunately, for those times when it would be better to have no sound at all, the system can be turned off with a single switch. So far, the system is just a proof-of-concept, but with all the work going into the field, something similar will come to production by the time the Smart ED hits retail at the end of 2009 or start of 2010.

I knew it is just a matter of time that someone will make fake exhaust noise for electric car. And the time has come. The most horrible thing is it features muscle car sound as well. Imagine that little Smart ForTwo with a Mustang noise, for safety. I mean, what does the pedestrians suppose to watch out? the Smart that is coming at you? or looking for a Mustang and be confused? And when the pedestrians failed to find the Mustang and be hit by the Smart, then what will he or she think about the driver in the Smart? What a pretender!

Solar Paint

Posted in Car of The Future Project, Car of The Future Project Research on June 17, 2009 by edwinconan

Solar-power paint lets you generate as you decorate – tech – 07 March 2008 – New Scientist

A lick of solar-power paint could see the roofs and walls of warehouses and other buildings generate electricity from the sun, if research by UK researchers pays off. The scientists are developing a way to paint solar cells onto the steel sheets commonly used to clad large buildings.

Steel sheets are painted rapidly in steel mills by passing them through rollers. A consortium led by Swansea University, UK, hopes to use that process to cover steel sheets with a photovoltaic paint at up to 40 square metres per minute.

The paint will be based on dye-sensitised solar cells. Instead of absorbing sunlight using silicon like conventional solar panels, they use dye molecules attached to particles of the titanium dioxide pigment used in paints.

That gives an energy boost to electrons, which hop from the dye into a layer of electrolyte. This then transfers the extra energy into a collecting circuit, before the electrons cycle back to the dye.

While less efficient than conventional cells, dye-based cells do not require expensive silicon, and can be applied as a liquid paste.

GM opens advanced battery lab in Michigan

Posted in Car of The Future Project, Car of The Future Project Research on June 10, 2009 by edwinconan

GM opens advanced battery lab in Michigan – [General Motors Global Battery Systems Lab]

A technician evaluates a prototype battery pack at General Motors Global Battery Systems Lab

Despite a bankruptcy filing that’s barely a week old, General Motors is fighting to preserve its image as a relevant and potent member of the automotive industry. To that end, GM today announced the opening of its Global Battery Systems Lab in Warren, Michigan.

The new lab is where GM will do the foundation work on its next-gen electric, hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles, as well as further development work on the upcoming 2011 Chevrolet Volt. Both individual cells and assembled packs will be tested and developed on-site.

“The new global GM battery lab will benefit consumers across America by helping us advance the development of battery technology in the United States and put cleaner, more efficient vehicles on the road more quickly and affordably,” said Fritz Henderson, GM president and CEO. “Our new lab improves GM’s competitiveness by speeding the development of our hybrid, plug-in and extended-range electric vehicles, including the Chevrolet Volt.”

Corporate-speak aside, the fact that GM is building the plant in the U.S. is a important step to keeping both workers and the public happy. There had been some fear that bankruptcy would offer a convenient excuse to export even more manufacturing and R&D outside the U.S.

The Global Battery Systems Lab is a 33,000 square foot facility, and will house the efforts of GM’s advanced technology team that is currently at 1,000 engineers and still growing. Forty-two thermal chambers and 160 test channels give the chance to evaluate batteries under nearly any condition imaginable. Power output at the plant is a massive 6 megawatts, enough to power a small town.

Construction on the plant started last August, just before the economy tucked into its nosedive. It has been complete and under testing since May, with the official opening today marking the lab’s start of full-scale business. GM says the lab is now the largest of its kind in the U.S.

I really hope they bring us some good battery technology and fuel cell technology in the future,

Don Norman

Posted in Car of The Future Project, Car of The Future Project Research with tags , , on June 9, 2009 by edwinconan

Design And Emotion

I like his comment about neat, beauty and fun. It’s all about fun, pleasant things work better.

The Design of Future Things

23rd May at Sandown Race course

Posted in Car of The Future Project, Car of The Future Project Research with tags , , on June 1, 2009 by edwinconan

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23rd May 2009, informed by a member of MG owners club, there is a track day event at Sandown race course on that Saturday. So I went there to see what track day is. It was my first track day experience. I have been to Sandown before, but it was for a scale model exhibition.

On the day, apart from MG owners club, there were a whole lot other events going on: Improved stock car race, Formula Ford race, Supercart Race, and also GT car race. Hear with my own ears, and see with my own eyes, the cars are louder and faster that i thought. Even those small cars like supercarts are loud. Cars of each category practiced and raced on the track for 4 or 6 laps in turns. When one group was racing, the other group would prepare at the dummy grid.

Different from the rather serious Formula 1 grand prix, the track day feels more of a leisure time entertainment event. Apart from the actual track, anyone can walk freely to anywhere: garages, tents, even into motorhomes and trailers and talk to anyone there. So I did exactly that to find out just who are those people that attend track days. I found out that typically, most of expensive GT car (like Lamborghini, Maserati and Porsche) owners are business owners, some are small business, some have a bit bigger ones, some of the businesses are race related such as tyre shops, or roll cage makers. Usually the more expensive the race car is, the bigger the business the driver owns, or owned (in some cases, the drive has retired) But also there are people who are normal employees. But one thing for sure, all of them are car enthusiasts.

There are lots of side reasons why those people attend track days. Some of them put stickers of their company names on the side of the cars to advertise their companies. However the track day is not broadcasted in anyways, and no tickets are sold to any spectators (the only spectators on the day were the wives and kids of the drivers and the drivers who are not racing at the time). So the promotion purpose and effect are somehow limited. Some of the drivers go the track to attend organized event of the owners clubs, for instance the MG club on the day and Porsche club. The club events provide the opportunity for owners to get together and discuss and share their experience with the cars and give the members a sense of belonging. It does not matter whether the car in question is a thirty years old MG or a shiny new Porsche. Others come for a more serious purpose, which is in the case of Formula Ford racing. The drivers are all young teenagers who are pursuing a racing driver career and what to be Lewis Hamilton in the future. They attend to compete against each other to work their way to the top. But as I asked them what the real reason is, all of them answered: “For fun, yeah, absolutely.” They choose to go to the track on Saturday in the same way people choose to go to the beaches or country side in the weekend. The difference is that people at the track like to get their hands dirty and breathe the smell of petrol.

Ultimately, the track day is a form of entertainment for car enthusiasts. It is a reward for the drivers after a hard week of work, or in the case of those retired millionaires, a reward for their hard work during the first half of their lives.

However, where there are people enjoying, there are people suffering. And it is not just the residents that live in the neighbourhoods near the track who need to listen to the noise for the entire Saturday, sometimes even Sunday. There is a more direct group of victims: they are usually the female members of the families of the drivers: spouses and daughters. On the track day, it was a common sight that many of them, bored reading a book in their folding chairs outside the trailers or fall asleep inside the trailers. Some of them brought a barbecue grill and provided food for their husbands, team members and friends. But most of them were there just to look after the kids and belongings. When their boyfriends or husbands are on the track thrashing the cars, they will go to the platform on the top of the garage to watch the race, but from the look on their faces, it was more of a worrying than enjoying. Some of them may eventually start to enjoy the track days because their love to the boyfriends and husbands, but love can also be the reason that some of them may never appreciate the dirty, stinky and noisy hobby of their husbands. As it is always the case, there are exceptions, such as the girlfriend of the MG club member who got me in the track, she is a total car nut who drives her hot hatchback very enthusiastically on the road everyday, not to mention that she is Italian.

Flaming Auto Daydream

Posted in Car of The Future Project, Car of The Future Project Research with tags , , , , on June 1, 2009 by edwinconan

Burning Freedom Concept Car by Bora Kim » Yanko Design

Bora Kim uses my favorite first step to create this automobile from the heavens: sketching. Take a look below to see Kim’s amazing illustration skills. This auto is inspired by the light that enters a room through an open door. From Kim’s mind: “darkness and desire, eternal sunshine, the road to realization, and collision of senses.” What kind of mystical nightride could this possibly be?

Behold the “Burning Freedom.” The outer shell is made of transparent and semi-transparent pieces. Each piece is plain white while at rest, a plethora of colors when utilized or shined upon by passing lights.

Kim’s motto is “true freedom comes from within.”

Designer: Bora Kim

Wow, at the first glance, that does not look like a car at all, but it is. That really is something fresh for automotive design, designed by a girl designer, she took a rather different and female perspective and pursuit the automotive design in a more artistic and crafty form.