Auto Shows feature new engine technologies
Following on the heels of a few tough years, North American car shows are back in the public eye. Attendance was up at the recent Detroit, Chicago, New York, Toronto and Montreal car shows, and all showcased more than 150 new product presentations and launches, with more than two million visitors having a glimpse of the upcoming 2013 vehicle catalogue. The Big Three monopolized the front row with the Ford Fusion named Star of the Show in Motor City, which Ford claims will challenge any Camry or Accord coming into the market. The Dodge Dart, based on the famed Alfa Romeo Giulietta, is cute sheet metal and replaces the ill-born Caliber. Finally Cadillac goes small with the ATS. Japanese and Asian car makers also came with surprises as Subaru and Toyota unveiled joined ventures: the Subaru BRZ harkens back to the celebrated Corolla rear-wheel drive AE86 and looks like a mock-up 911, while the Scion FR-S proposes a boxer four-banger under the hood.
Hardware / Software
Design and chrome always draw more attention from the public. But, for a trained technician, what is more interesting is what lies under the hood and how to fix it.
In fact, there was little new technology this year. The trend is engines with smaller displacement and fewer cylinders, even for full-sized cars and trucks. The Duratec V6 misses out against the new Ford Fusion powered with four-cylinders and the Atkinson cycle 2.5 litre will service the hybrid version, while two EcoBoost engines will become the everyday commuter engine with a 2.0 litre and the new 1.6 version of the four-cylinder design. At Chrysler, technicians should be acquainted to the MultiAir system, first used in the Fiat 500. The new 2.4 litre Dart engine has a single overhead cam with an hydraulic valve that adds to the airflow when required. The old Caliber is history and the new TigerShark 160 HP engine will use a state of the art 9-speed ZF box.
Oh no, they can’t take that away
GM could not resist showing off with the Chevy Camaro ZL1, with a V8 that delivers 580 horses. The 2013 Mustang Shelby GT500, whose aluminum air-compressed V8 transfers 650 HP to the rear wheels, brings out more than 320 km/h. The Viper hits back with 640 HP in a lighter package. And if you can afford the extra 150-grand, Shelby presented the 1000 version in New-York with 950 HP in street trim and 1100 in racing set-up. In order to swallow the eco pill, Bentley shelved its long-time V12 for a less guzzling V8.
In Detroit, Volkswagen introduced a bi-energy (diesel – electric) prototype Jetta, coming next year. While diesel still holds a large market share in Europe, EV is gaining ground regularly in North America.
For instance, Ford is touring large cities with the electric Focus and the next-gen Fusion hybrid. Hyundai has an EV Elantra coming next year and so does Volkswagen with its futuristic Bugster based on a Beetle roadster with a removable hardtop.
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