Renault applies model-based systems engineering to dual-clutch transmission

Car manufacturers are facing various and sometimes contradicting constraints such as energy efficiency, high performance, driving comfort, reliability, and safety. In a global context, they must also adapt driveline designs to different markets. Therefore, Renault must handle a variety of powertrain designs. Moreover, due to increasingly intelligent systems, mechanical and controls system design cycles are more and more linked. A common system mock-up is needed.

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Renault has implemented model-based systems engineering (MBSE) to manage these challenges as well as to reduce development cycle and costs. With MBSE, design and integration problems are solved earlier, the number of prototypes and test benches are reduced, and cross-team collaboration is improved. The MBSE approach allows Renault to evaluate, throughout the development phases, the key attributes of the complete vehicle including the engine, transmission, actuators, and chassis.

Renault recently extended its MBSE approach to include a new dual-clutch transmission (DCT) and controls strategies validation and optimization.

The DCT, developed by Getrag, is being integrated into C-segment vehicles such as the Renault Mégane or Scenic, and will be widely applied to other vehicle ranges.

Ohio State’s ‘Bullet’ EV has a short range, but could surpass 400 mph

There were several electric vehicles (EVs) on display at the New York International Auto Show, but one of them is 38 ft (11.6 m) long, and weighs 8000 lb (3630 kg). It has a cockpit for just the driver, and will be trying to push the land speed record for an EV to over 400 mph at the Bonneville, UT, Salt Flats this August.

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It’s a college student project, but there’s no reason to sell the engineering team short. They are graduate students in Ohio State University’s Center for Automotive Research (CAR), which holds the existing world EV record—307 mph.

The team is working with a premier engineering company, Venturi Monaco, a racing EV team with a solid record of success, and is using a new generation of 2000 lithium-ion-phosphate pouch cells from A123 Systems. The total pack capacity is 100 kW·h and the weight is 3400 lb (1542 kg). Although the cells are similar to other A123 pouch cells, the ones in the “Bullet” EV’s pack are not yet commercially available, according to student team leader David Cooke.

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Smart collaboration results in new Fortwo

The third-generation Smart Fortwo has a new look, but with some familiar styling cues of its predecessor, and more importantly it incorporates significant changes under the skin. Overall length remains the same at 106.1 in (2694 mm), and the 73.7-in (1872-mm) wheelbase sees a modest 0.2-in (5-mm) increase. The car has been on sale in Europe for five months and just made its U.S. debut at the 2015 New York International Auto Show.

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The new model was co-developed by Mercedes-Benz and Renault, and many of the parts, including the basics of the platform and the powertrain, reportedly are shared with the somewhat larger Renault Twingo.

Turbocharged three-cylinder

The rear-mounted, rear-drive powertrain represents what will be the greatest difference in the driving experience. The car goes on sale with a 0.9-L three-cylinder, turbocharged with an electronically controlled wastegate, and rated at 90 hp (67 kW) and 100 lb·ft (136 N·m). This engine will represent a major power increase over the 70-hp (52-kW) naturally aspirated 1.0-L three-cylinder previously used. However, a lower-output 71-hp (53-kW) engine also is available

Automotive industry unit in Tihar to be run by inmates

or the first time in the history of Indian automotive industry, a manufacturing unit has been set up inside a jail premises where work will be carried out by prison inmates.

The Director General of Delhi prisons, Alok Verma, today inaugurated the small scale automotive workshop in Jail number 2 of Tihar here, under a public-private partnership providing training and employment opportunities for the inmates.

The manufacturing unit has been set up by Minda Furukawa Electric Pvt. Ltd (MFE), a joint venture company between Spark Minda, Ashok Minda Group of India and Furukawa of Japan.

The company develops and produces the entire range of wiring harness for four wheelers, and components related to wiring harness.

“The inmates will profit in both long term and short term working here. They will be paid wages and will gain work experience which will be useful for them to rehabilitate themselves after completing their terms here,” Delhi prisons DIG and PRO Mukesh Prasad said.

The inmates working here will be supervised by professionals and will earn more wages in comparison to other inmates working in the jail.

Trimming wiring harnesses becomes design focus

Wires and cables help design teams add electronic features and functions, but networks and wiring harnesses add a fair amount of weight while their connections can be the cause of failures. That’s prompting developers to examine ways to reduce the size and weight of wires and cables.

TechNavio market researchers expect global automotive wiring harness market revenue to see an average of about 7% compound annual growth through the almost completed 2011-2015 time frame. Design teams struggling to meet fuel efficiency and cost requirements want to rein in expansion in wiring, which continues to grow as more electronic modules are added.

“OEMs are trying to drive down cost and weight by reducing the size of the wiring harness and the number of electrical connections,” said Anil Sondur, Vice President of Tata Elxsi. “As the value and volume of electronics goes up, there’s a huge drive to consolidate devices and bus systems.”

However, it’s challenging to reduce wiring. For example, engine and transmission controllers must communicate with each other as powertrain designers strive to keep engines running in their sweet spot. That sometimes requires specialized wiring.

Mazda reveals 2016 Global MX-5 Cup racer at SEMA Show

Based on the 2016 MX-5, the Global MX-5 Cup Car Concept shown at SEMA offers a glimpse of the car to be raced in a new Global Cup series, in North America, Europe, and Asia. Mazda is developing the racecar to be available as an affordable, turnkey, “ready-to-race” platform.

Starting in 2016, multiple Mazda Global MX-5 Cup series will take place around the world, all using identically prepared cars. Full details of the Global MX-5 Cup, including which countries will be involved and when the races will take place, will be announced as they are confirmed, Mazda says.

The Global MX-5 Cup will culminate at the end of 2016 with a Global Shootout at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, CA, to crown the series champion. The winner will receive, among other prizes, a one-day test in Mazda’s Tudor United States SportsCar Championship SkyActiv prototype racecar.

“Because the MX-5 is inherently such a good car to drive, it is an ideal platform to learn basic and advanced race-craft, and this has made the professional MX-5 Cup series very successful to date,” said John Doonan, Director of Motorsports for Mazda North American operations.

The Global MX-5 Cup

Hella’s vehicle-damage detection technology moves toward production

A technology that uses acoustic signals to detect vehicle exterior damage can use the connected car network to inform the driver’s smartphone that the vehicle has sustained a dent, scratch, or other harmful hit.

“Intelligent Damage Detection (IDD) is a great example of how you can connect the vehicle with the user beyond just the normal driving applications,” noted Dr. Marc Rosenmayr, CEO of Electronics North and South America for Hella Electronics Corp. “This technology works not only when you are driving, but it works if you are away from the car,”

After more than 18 months of advanced engineering work that included a pre-development project with a European automaker, Hella’s IDD technology is now in the series production development stage, Dr. Rosenmayr told Automotive Engineering.

The springboard for IDD is Hella’s Structural Health And Knock Emission (SHAKE), which provides the basic hardware and software foundation for different functions and applications, according to lead engineer Klaas Hauke Baumgärtel.

“One of these applications is the function of IDD, which allows for the identification of scratches and dents on the outer shell of the vehicle in real-time,” he explained. In

Arvind Saxena appointed as MD of Volkswagen Passenger Cars in India

a leading German car manufacturer has announced Arvind Saxena as the managing director of Volkswagen Passenger Cars in India.

Saxena, former director, sales & marketing at Hyundai India, will now be heading the Volkswagen brand with responsibility of sales, after sales & marketing, said the statement issued by the company on Wednesday.

ET had exclusively reported in July that Saxena was looking at growth options with leading automotive companies in the country including Volkswagen India.

Gerry Dorizas, president & MD, Volkswagen Group Sales India Private Limited said, “”We are confident that his (Saxena’s) extensive experience in the Indian automotive sector will contribute towards the growth of the Brand.””

With the appointment of Saxena, Volkswagen has created a new position of managing director in the company. He will manage the function of Neeraj Garg, who was member of board, director – passenger cars, Volkswagen Group Sales India Private Limited.

With over 3 decades of experience in the automotive industry, Saxena has worked for various automobile majors like Bajaj Auto, Maruti Suzuki, Fiat India and Hyundai India. He has assumed various roles right from area manager,

Racecar with composite-intensive suspension gets track tested in 2015

The tangy yellow-colored 1986 Honda CRX emblazoned with SANLUIS Rassini on its hood uses a patents-pending rear suspension as a replacement to its most recent setup of coil-over-springs and a straight axle with a Mumford linkage for lateral control.

“We’ve converted it to a dual-cantilever thermoplastic spring in the rear. It’s very similar to a double-wishbone geometry. The thermoplastic upper control arms are coupled with what’s very similar to a Watt’s linkage. That means during a two-wheel bump, the rear wheels move together. But when the car goes into roll, the coupling linkage locks the arms and those arms flex to add roll stiffness,” Jonathan Spiegel, Polystrand Inc.’s Senior Engineer, told Automotive Engineering.

The racecar will compete in the Sports Car Club of America’s (SCCA) Grand Touring Lite (GTL) 2015 race season on various tracks in the U.S. Project GTL partners are Polystrand, PPG Fiber Glass, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), and SANLUIS Rassini.

Polystrand provided the thermoplastic composite material. PPG supplied the continuous fibers for reinforcement of the thermoplastic material. UAB conducted materials property evaluation and molded the glass-reinforced springs

Alfa Romeo finally returns to U.S. with 4C

After twenty years of absence and many delays, Alfa Romeo is finally coming back to the U.S., and the company is packing for the long haul. After the very-low-volume and very-high-end 8C, the Italian automotive manufacturer is officially returning with a two-seat, mid-engine sports car that can only be called a raw, untainted performance machine—or the 4C, depending on how poetic you want to be.

Alfa Romeo’s return has been nothing but poetic, with a series of broken promises and broken hearts for the brand-loyal fans here in the U.S. This time its official, as Alfa has signed with 82 dealerships across the U.S. to sell the new sports car. Three of the dealerships will be sharing showroom space with Maserati (in California, Maryland, and Wisconsin), while the rest of the 79 will be run alongside Fiat dealerships.

For those who have worked on bringing the car to the U.S. market, it means a lot. Michael Berube, Head of Product Planning for Alfa Romeo, is excited about the manufacturer’s return. “It’s not just any brand,” Berube said proudly. “Alfa Romeo is one of the oldest brands still in

OTA reflashing the challenges and solutions

Reprogrammable onboard modules have been in automotive use for more than a quarter century. But as electronic controls inhabit virtually every system today, anyone with a late-model vehicle knows that at some point, one or more of its electronic control systems will need to be “reflashed” with new software—often more than once.

In fact, even where the problem may be all-mechanical, including bearing knock, it can be ameliorated by new software for the engine computer.

While some of the reflashes are for customer satisfaction items, such as the air conditioning system that won’t maintain set temperature, an increasing number are safety related. At best, perhaps 70% of the urgent notifications  of a safety recall bring the customer into the dealership, and both government and industry are looking  for ways to bring  it as close to 100% as possible.

With autonomous driving on the horizon, the security and safety aspects create a new urgency for the ability to perform updates on a timeline that doesn’t wait for the leisurely pace of a service appointment at the dealership.

Tesla success with OTA

Tesla’s recent use of over-the-air (OTA)

3D-printed high-temperature ceramics

Heat-resistant ceramics are useful for making components such as engine hot parts, rocket nozzles, and nose cones that have to contend with high temperatures or extreme environments. The trouble is it’s not at all easy to cast or machine these heat-stable engineering ceramics into the necessary complex shapes.

In recent years, 3D-printing processes have been developed that enable much greater geometrical flexibility in fabricating ceramics. But whether the process deposits photosensitive resins that contain ceramic particles, jets binders onto ceramic particles, or fuses beds of ceramic powder with lasers, current additive manufacturing (AM) methods are limited by slow fabrication rates. Plus, they are often followed by a time-consuming binder-removal process. In any case, the physical properties of the final components are not optimal, yielding unreliable, low-strength parts that suffer from residual porosity, cracks, and/or inhomogeneities.

A new AM technique developed at HRL Laboratories, an R&D lab in Malibu, CA, that is jointly owned by General Motors and Boeing, has demonstrated the ability to make high-strength ceramic components featuring complex geometries more easily and rapidly. HRL’s Senior Chemical Engineer Zak Eckel and Senior Chemist Chaoyin Zhou have invented a polymer resin