Autofield Blog

VW and CAE

By: Gary S. Vasilash 30. November 2015

In case you’re wondering what Volkswagen has come up with to address the emissions issues with its 1.6-liter EA 189 diesel engines, at least for non-U.S. markets (this has been presented to the German Federal Motor Transport Authority, which has ratified the approach), here is the physical part of the fix:

VW fix

That’s a “flow straightener” or “flow transformer.”

It is positioned directly in front of the air mass sensor. The mesh of the device reduces the swirled air flow in front of the sensor so that the sensor can make more accurate readings for purposes of optimizing the combustion process.

What you can’t see is a software update to supplement the performance of the system.

For the 2.0-liter engines that are on the dirty side, there is a software update.

It’s worth noting that computer-aided engineering (CAE) tools (presumably like computational fluid dynamics software) have been called out by Volkswagen as being instrumental in this quickly (comparatively speaking) countermeasure.

As the company states in a release about the fix:

“Thanks to advances in engine development and improved simulation of currents inside complex air intake systems, in combination with software optimization geared towards this, it has been possible to produce a relatively simple and customer-friendly measure.”

Presumably the “customer friendly” part is that the company anticipates that once customers get their dirty diesels (a bit harsh, but realize that VW has been long touting them as “clean diesels”) to the dealers for repairs, the fix for the 1.6-liters will require less than an hour and the update for the 2.0 liters about 30 minutes.

Black Friday

By: Gary S. Vasilash 27. November 2015

Today, here in the United States, it is “Black Friday.”

This has nothing to do with the horrible day two weeks ago in Paris.

It is called “Black Friday” because the amount of pre-holiday shopping that is done today is so massive that the store proprietors should be “in the black” financially.

1908 Model T

(Come next Monday, you’ll probably wonder why your pages may seem to take so long to load when you’re on line. It’s because the 30th is known as “Cyber Monday,” when a multitude of people take to their keyboards to do the shopping that they didn’t do physically on the 27th.)

So thinking in terms of what is quintessentially automotive and quintessentially black in honor of the day, we bring you the Ford Model T.

It’s as simple as that.

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Holiday Tips

By: Gary S. Vasilash 26. November 2015

Although the holiday season is meant to be a time of joy as we visit with family and friends, some of whom are distant and so require a road trip in order to see them, it is also the case that there can be considerable levels of stress and consequent ill-manners associated with said travel.

So Ford has contacted The Emily Post Institute in order to come up with some tips that can make at least the travel a bit more civil.


This image is from, the go-to source for turkey-related topics.  Your bird may not look like that, but. . . .

So for those of you who are in the U.S. and are about to set out on Thanksgiving travel, he are some recommendations (as absurd as some of them may seem):

  • Use the remote to be sure that the doors are unlocked before anyone reaches for them. And if it is cold outside, preheat the interior of the vehicle.
  • Point out all of the features of your vehicle that your passengers may avail themselves of during the journey, from power ports to USB plugs.
  • Think about the in-car entertainment.
  • If you are the passenger, you might do what you can to assist the driver before the trip (lugging bags), during the trip (enjoying the aforementioned entertainment) and after the trip (maybe not a tip, per se, but offer to kick in for the gas, and given the low price of gas, a few bucks can go a long way).
  • And speaking of being the passenger, should you be in the front seat, and should you have all had plenty of turkey and dressing and all the trimmings, chances are everyone may feel a bit dozy, so it is your obligation to make sure that the driver is sufficiently aware and awake for safety. This brings us back to the tip about the in-car entertainment: This may be just the time when you cue up something like Blizzard of Ozz and let “Crazy Train” rip.

Happy Holidays!

Lighten Up

By: Gary S. Vasilash 25. November 2015

This is the Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 Roadster:

ombra 002

We’re running that picture not only because it is. . . well just look at it.


But for another reason, too.

This is the monocouque of the Lamborghini Aventador:

Ginevra 2011 - Una monoscocca in carbonio per la nuova Lamborghini V12 – senza mezze misure  Una scocca come guscio unico in fibra di carbonio  Costruita in Lamborghini con processo brevettato per Aventador Photo Guizzardi Umberto tutti i diritti Automobili Lamborghini
Sant’Agata Bolognese, 11 febbraio 2011

That is a single piece that combines the cockpit, floor and roof in a single structure. A single carbon fiber structure. The whole thing weighs just 147.5 kg, but for those of us who aren’t in Italy, where the metric system holds sway, that’s just 325 lb.

The reason that we’re running these pictures has to do with composites.

As in an event that you may be interested in attending next month (December 8-10) in Knoxville, Carbon Fiber 2015, which is being put on by our sibling CompositesWorld.

Lamborghini has established something of a leadership position in making vehicles with composite technology. The LP 700-4 Roadster weighs just 3,362 lb. It also has a V12 engine, which allows the car to run up to 217 mph (0 to 62 mph in 3 seconds)—not that you would.

Of course, the ordinary run of vehicle manufacturers are looking at carbon fiber technology not to go like the proverbial bat-out-of-hell, but in order to reduce overall mass, thereby achieving greater fuel efficiency.

Anyway, there is that conference that’s going on next month where you can learn about the technology.

And the publisher of CompositesWorld is providing a discount for those of you who read this. Use the code “ADPDEAL” when registering and he’ll lighten the price by $150.

According to Lamborghini, the LP 700-4 has a combined fuel economy rating, based on the European driving cycle, of 16 liters/100 km. That’s 14.7 mpg.

In a world where the CAFE regulations are going to be looking for 54.5 mpg by 2025, things like that Lambo are probably going to become even more rare than they are now.

Presumably one could take that monocouque, stick in a hybrid powertrain, and hit the number.

Regardless, the fact is that in order for U.S. automakers to meet the 54.5 mpg mark in 2025 and the Europeans to meet the European Union legislation for 95 grams of CO2/kilometer by 2021, vehicles are going to have to become significantly lighter.

And composites are one means by which this can be achieved. And Composites 2015 is one place where you can learn about it.

A Mighty Wind at GM

By: Gary S. Vasilash 24. November 2015

Wind tunnel testing is absolutely essential for creating cars and trucks that are sufficiently slippery to cut through the air with efficiency for improved fuel efficiency.

So General Motors has added another wind tunnel—a $30-million, reduced scale wind tunnel—next to its full-size wind tunnel at its GM Tech Center research campus in Warren, Michigan.

GM Reduced Scale Wind Tunnel

GM aerodynamic engineer Nina Tortosa tests underbody airflow on a Chevrolet Cruze 40-percent scale model in General Motors' new $30-million reduced scale wind tunnel.

This is a 35,000-square-foot wind tunnel that is designed for aero testing models up to 40% of the scale of a vehicle.

One of the things that they’re doing there is creating clay models of vehicles, then using 3D printing to create components such as suspension setups complete with spinning wheels to determine the effects of airflow, and even engine blocks.

According to Ken Morris, vice president, GM Global Product Integrity, “The combined capabilities of our new reduced-scale and full-scale wind tunnels allow us to reach industry-leading levels of aerodynamic refinement. We view the new $30 million reduced scale wind tunnel as an investment towards a better, more energy-efficient future.”

The reduced-scale tunnel is equipped with a conveyor-style “rolling road” system that permits testing of real-world driving conditions—at up to 155 mph.

Don’t try that on real roads.

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