Monday, May 18, 2015

Automotive Reporter/Biz News for Wk of 5-18-15

Hey, hey, we're the Monkees...
September 12, 1966 saw the birth of Ben Folds (Ben Folds Five), the television debut of The Monkees, and the 1967 Chevrolet Camaro was first revealed to the automotive press. Two-weeks later, the general public caught its first glimpse of GM’s answer to Ford’s pony car, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Over the weekend, Chevrolet revealed its newest edition of the Camaro on Detroit’s Belle Isle. The 2016 GenSix Camaro boasts lighter architecture and six powertrain variations, including a monstrous 6.2L V-8 rated at 455-hp. The new car is lighter, slightly smaller, and has a stiffer platform, promising a more nimble driving experience.

Mark Reuss, General Motors’ Executive VP of Product Development says, “Redesigning the Camaro is thrilling and challenging all at once, but the secret is to offer something more.” Reuss says the new car “retains iconic design cues and offers even more performance for Camaro enthusiasts. “For a new generation of buyers, the 2016 Camaro incorporates our most innovative engineering ideas with finely honed performance and leading design,” he says.

With vehicle mass reduced by 200 pounds or more, the GenSix Camaro is also the most energy-efficient version yet. The new 2.0L turbo engine is SAE-certified at 275 hp  and is estimated to deliver more than 30 mpg on the highway, with 0-60 mph acceleration well under 6-seconds.
In fact, Chevrolet says there are only two items that carry over from the 5th generation cars to the GenSix Camaro: the rear bowtie emblem and the SS badge.

It takes money to make money, and General Motors is sinking $1-Billion into its Warren Technical Center in Detroit to fund new construction, renovations of existing structures, and expansion of other operations at the National Historic Landmark site. GM says the investment will create 2,600 new jobs in core areas like product engineering, IT and design. The projects are anticipated to last through 2018.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said, "This is great news for Warren, the region, and our state. It soundly demonstrates GM’s commitment to Michigan and our talented workforce, providing key jobs and career opportunities for today and tomorrow.”  Initial construction on the 326-acre Warren Technical Center Tech Center began in 1949, and it opened in 1956. It is now home to more than 19,000 employees.

England’s Goodwood Festival of Speed has been a celebration of the world’s greatest cars and drivers since 1993. It has evolved into the most diverse collection of motorsports history on the planet, hosted on the English estate of the Earl of March in West Sussex, about 80-miles southwest of London. 

A new chapter in the festival’s history will be written June 25-28, when Robby Gordon and Stadium Super Trucks make their first appearance at the event. Two Stadium Supertrucks—and a custom ramp that allows the SST trucks to fly through the air with the greatest of ease—will be featured in demonstrations and competition runs on the 1.16-mile track.

Not only will Gordon drive a Stadium Super Truck on the famous Hillclimb Circuit, but a second truck will be featured in a new off-road venue on the estate’s activity field. “It is an incredible honor to be invited by Lord March to attend the Goodwood Festival of Speed with our Stadium Super Trucks,” said Gordon, who founded the SST series and conducted its first race in April 2013.
Other than the trucks launching 20 feet in the air and covering distances more than 150 feet, what sets the SST program apart from other series is the fact that all the SST trucks are identically prepared and delivered to drivers in race-ready condition. Race winners are decided by driver skill rather than individual team engineering and budgets. Drivers and their personal mechanics are assigned specific SST mechanics who together tune and make minor adjustments to the 600-horsepower trucks.

Your next Ford could be singing your song…or ringing your chimes. There’s a group at Ford Motor Company that is dedicates to ensuring “vehicle harmony” is working so that messages the car needs to send to you are getting through. Bells, buzzers, and dings, as well as haptic feedback are all a part of the process. The trick is to make those signals uniform across all Ford vehicle platforms.

As recently as last summer, the “Interior Harmony”group was a four-person division that was part of Ford’s Electrical Division. The group used a components-based approach to adding sound chimes to various parts of a vehicle. Now they're sited within Ford’s larger Vehicle Engineering Division, and collaborates with colleagues in Germany, Asia and South America. Oh, and they changed their name to “Vehicle Harmony.”

In a world that bombards motorists with text message pings, email alerts and alarm clock buzzers, are the chimes drowning themselves out? Jennifer Prescott is an engineer with the group who explains, “Our inclination has been to add more sounds for more alerts, but people are getting chimed out.” Prescott says, “Because of that, our audio alerts must be intuitive – instantly recognized by drivers.”

There are about 30 Ford vehicle sounds that make up the pallet of audible chimes, all designed to have their own characteristics, and each created based on the urgency of the message being conveyed. 

Each week on the Radio show, we mention our sponsor and international distribution partner, Stitcher is the leader in on-demand news, sports, and entertainment audio programming, with access to more than 40,000 radio shows, live radio stations and podcasts from sources including CNN, Fox, NPR, CBS, AP, The Wall Street Journal and, of course, The Automotive Reporter Radio Show. 

Stitcher is powered by Deezer, the leading music streaming service with over 16 million users in over 180 countries. Owners of Subaru models equipped with SUBARU STARLINK™ in-vehicle technology can now enjoy a fully integrated Stitcher experience in your vehicle.

“People have been listening to radio in their car for almost a hundred years,” says said Tyler Goldman, Deezer's Chief Executive Officer North America. “But in that time, little has been done to improve upon the content,” he says. “Stitcher is focused on bringing the future of news, entertainment and music to the driving experience and super serving listeners with a personalized lean back experience with car manufacturers like Subaru, which is embracing out-of-the-box thinking,” Goldman says.

Subaru owners can access Stitcher and control their listening easily and safely via their vehicle’s dashboard display, when connected to an iOS or Android based smartphone with the SUBARU STARLINK app installed. The cloud-based system allows for easy integration of Stitcher services and lets listeners create a playlist of their favorite shows, always up to date with the latest episode, and enjoy personalized recommendations based on their listening habits. SUBARU STARLINK is unique in that new partners can be integrated into the app and customers enjoy the benefits immediately, with no software updates required.

SUBARU STARLINK is the company’s in-vehicle platform that provides hands-free connectivity, entertainment and safety services to vehicle occupants. STARLINK in-vehicle technology puts news, food, weather, music, podcasts, audio books, and other multimedia content into the vehicle and at your fingertips.

If you know HEMI power and performance, you know the name of Tom Hoover. The “Father of the 426 Hemi” racing engine passed away earlier this month.  The HEMI racing engine had celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014.
“Tom Hoover was an exceptional human being and an engineering genius that always wanted to go faster,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar Brand Service, Parts and Customer Care. “Today, at Mopar, we continue to live and honor Tom’s vision. He’ll be missed,” said Gorlier.
Hoover spent 25 years working at Chrysler Corp., leaving in 1979 to pursue his interests in locomotives and trains. During his time at Chrysler, Hoover had an impact on some of the most-storied performance milestones in Fiat Chrysler’s history:
He was a founding member of the Ramchargers, a group of Chrysler engineers who were thrilled by the growing sport of drag racing, and used their skills to boost the company’s performance image.
He helped develop the Hyper Pak, a group of performance parts for Chrysler’s renowned Slant-6 engine. The Hyper Pak helped make the Plymouth Valiant a winner on NASCAR tracks in the early 1960s. 

Hoover led development of the Max Wedge big-block racing V-8, building upon Chrysler’s RB engine to create a powertrain that dominated drag strip racing in the early 1960s. A drag racer at heart, Tom Hoover helped develop the Pro Stock and Funny Car racing classes.

As racing program coordinator, Hoover helped lead the small team that developed the 426 HEMI racing engine. The 426 HEMI debuted at the 1964 Daytona 500, where Richard Petty lapped the field in taking the win. When NASCAR blocked the 426 HEMI’s use in 1965, Hoover’s team took it drag racing – where it’s legacy lives on today as many modern professional drag race engines still use the basics of that motor.

“Tom was the true technical engineer driving the details of the original 426 HEMI design, preparing it for the success on the street and in racing to this day,” says Bob Lee, who heads powertrain development for FCA in North America. “He was one of the best ever.”

Like many of his contemporaries, Tom Hoover’s passion for engineering was sparked during his youth in Huntingdon, Pa. His first car was a 1952 DeSoto with an original Hemi engine. At Chrysler, he started by working on the Bendix Electrojector program – a precursor to today’s modern fuel-injection systems.
Tom Hoover was also honored with the Mopar President’s Award at the NHRA Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway near Denver, Colo., in July 2014, and served as the grand marshal for the weekend event. In a special nod to the 426 HEMI race engine and his role, Tom, along with Pietro Gorlier, personally signed limited edition reproductions of the blueprints for the engine.
The next time you hear the roar of a HEMI engine, give Tom Hoover a little thanks.

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