Sunday, July 12, 2015

Automotive Reporter/Biz News for Wk of 7-13-15

The new Ford Shelby GT350R is already a wicked-fast Mustang, but the Ford Performance Division has just figured out a way to make the car even faster. You might say they really did reinvent the wheel.

Engineers know one key to superior performance is eliminating as much un-sprung weight as possible—that is weight not supported by the car’s suspension—and a big part of that is in the wheels. And what is the ultimate, light-weight high-performance material? Carbon fiber.

Together with Australia’s Carbon Revolution, Ford has taken on and met the challenge of creating a new carbon fiber wheel for the Shelby Mustang that reduces individual wheel weight from 33- to 18-pounds. The resulting performance is as stunning as the process by which it is created.

“The carbon fiber wheels reduce vehicle weight by 60 pounds compared to aluminum, yet are stiffer for better steering response,” says Adam Wirth, Ford Performance chassis supervisor. “We believe this is a game changer for the industry, a great example of improved performance through innovation,” Wirth said.

Spun from carefully formed strands of carbon fiber, the wheels are manufactured as a single unit, cured and sealed, and treated with a special ceramic coating to protect from the extreme 900-degree heat generated by braking. 

Curb strikes are a death-knell to lightweight, high- performance rims. But because of the carbon fiber wheel’s extreme rigidity and exceptional low weight, test cars’ suspensions were able to respond more rapidly to the impact of a curb strike. 

Ford says its drivers had to repeat the curb strike portion of the trials because they first believed they’d missed the curb. Yeah, it’s that light.

Up until now, only Swedish ultracar maker Koenigsegg offered optional carbon fiber wheels. Move over for Mustang.

Back in the 1960’s, General Motors needed a reliable test bed for some of the innovative technology it was developing. Zora Arkus-Duntov, the father of the Chevy Corvette, came up with the “Chevrolet Experimental Research Vehicle, or CERV-1, as a mechanical guinea pig for engines and suspension designs.

The CERV’s were raced on oval tracks, up Pikes Peak and all over, and had no mechanical peer anywhere. One version of the CERV-1 would eventually hit 205 mph. 

The car’s suspension layout is the basis of the one used in modern day Corvettes.

Most of the CERV’s were destroyed or kept by GM in its archives, but the CERV-1 escaped those fates, and goes on the auction block next month (August) at RM Sotheby's Monterey.
The car is expected to fetch upwards of $1.3-Million.

How effective is crowd funding, really?
Elio Motors
is a big fan of the process, and a big winner in its disclosed equity crowd funding campaign: More than $16 million in expressed non-binding interest from nearly 5-thousand potential investors in just 19 days! 

Elio Motors’ goal is to raise $25 million through the campaign. Capital raised will help fund next year’s launch of its three-wheel, enclosed vehicle that is expected to sell for $6,800 and get up to 84 MPG.
Impossible, you scoff?

The company has already taken nearly 45,000 reservations for a spot in line to purchase a vehicle, and routinely has people lined up around the block to see the vehicle at its tour stops across the country.

The innovative funding strategy, made possible by recent changes to the 2012 JumpStart Our Business Start-up (JOBS) Act, was the perfect fit for a company that looks to innovate in every aspect of its operations.
“We’re always looking for new ways to do things and crowdfunding is certainly the wave of the future for entrepreneurs, start-up organizations and investors,” says Paul Elio, founder and CEO.

The crowdfunding opportunity was made possible in March of 2015, when the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission enacted rules to implement Title IV of the JOBS Act, paving the way for private companies to raise up to $50 million from both accredited and non-accredited investors. This new set of rules is known as “Regulation A+.”

Elio Motors will use funds from this initiative to build an additional 25 prototypes for testing and validation.    

FCA US LLC is investing more than $166 million in three new press lines at its Sterling Stamping Plant in Sterling Heights, Mich., to support increased product demand. The new press lines - already under construction - are expected to begin production in the fourth quarter of 2015 and will reach full volume in the first half of 2016.

The investment comes as the facility celebrates 50 years of producing body panels and assemblies for some of the Company’s most popular vehicles like the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram Truck.

Included in the funding is the purchase and installation of two extra-large High Speed Servo Tandem press lines (each 180 inches) and one large Servo Progressive press line. These three presses will increase the number of stampings produced each day by nearly 75,000 or 20 million a year. Currently, Sterling Stamping produces 62 million stampings annually.

Sterling Stamping is one of six facilities in the FCA North American family that stamps and sub-assembles parts from sheet metal, including hoods, roofs, liftgates, side apertures, fenders and floor pans. Those parts are then shipped to several of the company’s North- and Central American facilities to be welded and assembled together to form the bodies of vehicle such as: Dodge Grand Caravan, Dodge Dart, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and Chrysler 200, as well as Ram Trucks in its Warren, Michigan and Saltillo, Mexico Truck Assembly Plants. 

It’s a hot summer day, and your car is parked an acre away, where it has been baking in the relentless sun. If it’s a Mazda 6 or CX-5, you can just whip out your smartphone with the Mazda Mobile Start app, and fire-up that hot rod, and cool it down by the time you trek to your parking space.

Mazda North American Operations is launching Mazda Mobile Start, the only Smartphone Remote Engine Start system engineered and designed specifically for Mazda vehicles. 

The service will control not only Engine Start functions, but also door locks and a panic alarm feature. There’s also a GPS component, so you can locate your car on a map grid, if that never ending asphalt leaves you dazed and confused in the heat.

The app also has a timing feature—once your car is started remotely, it will run for up to 30-minutes—with an up and down timer for your phone. I mean, really, is it going to take you a half hour to find your car?? 

Included with the purchase of Mazda Mobile Start (MSRP $500) is a complimentary one-year subscription to the Mazda Mobile Start app, which is available in the iOS App Store and Google Play. Annual renewal for the service is $65. Mazda Mobile Start is currently compatible only with the 2016 Mazda6 and 2016 Mazda CX-5 with automatic transmission only). The service is planned for more models.

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