Autofield Blog

Pro 3D Printer to Be Launched

By: Gary S. Vasilash 16. September 2014

Although this illustration appears to be a man standing next to either a major appliance or a classic minicomputer from a company like Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) from back in the day. . .


. . .it is actually a 3D printer that will soon be launched by German RepRap. Although the company is known for its personal printers based on the fused filament fabrication (FFF) process, this one is for commercial customers. (FFF, in case you’re wondering, is basically a process in which a plastic filament, such as PLA or ABS, is driven from a spool, through a heater that melts it, and then onto a platen in a directed manner so as to build up, layer by layer (with layer heights of up to 0.5 mm), the required object.)

The printer, as yet unnamed, as it will be introduced at the Euromold event in Frankfurt in late November, so the marketing people have some time to come up with a moniker, has a printing volume of 1,000 x 800 x 600 mm.

The company insists that this is not a scaled-up version of its X400 machine. The X400 has a print capacity of 400 x 400 x 350 mm.

Perhaps between now and Euromold the company will come up with a name that isn’t X1000. Something more imaginative, perhaps.

How to Make a Hellcat

By: Gary S. Vasilash 15. September 2014

Russ Ruedisueli is vehicle line executive and Head of Engineering at SRT. Which means that Ruedisueli and his team create cars that go fast. Really fast. They engineer cars where everything is functional toward that end. They engineer cars that are stylish enough for show, but they are most certainly about go.

2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat

Like the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. As Ruedisueli points out in this edition of “Autoline After Hours,” the speed of an SRT product is not electronically limited. And the Hellcat—which was the internal code name for the 6.2-liter HEMI engine that has become the moniker for this version of the SRT Challenger—has/is a 707-hp supercharged engine. If mated to a Torqueflite 8H90 transmission, the curb weight of the car is 4,439 lb. If mated to a six-speed manual Tremec TR-6060, the curb weight is 4,449 lb.

So think about that: 707 hp. 4,449 lb. Pretty quick.

Hellcat a

Ruedisueli talks about the engine that is the highest horsepower mill that Chrysler has ever produced. About the forged-steel crankshaft with induction-hardened bearing surfaces, a crank that can withstand firing pressures of 110 bar. About the high-strength forged-alloy pistons. The heat-treated aluminum-alloy cylinder heads. Cast-iron block. About the supercharger that can handle up to 30,000 liters of air per minute.

About the exterior design that includes such things as the “Air Catcher” inlet port, which is located at the driver’s side parking lamp and feeds air right into the engine air box. About the hood with dual air extractors.

The Hellcat is at the top of the horsepower ratings among the offerings of the Detroit Three by some non-trivial measure. Ruedisueli admits that when they were thinking about developing the engine, they assessed what the other guys were doing, estimated where the other guys were going, and, in effect, decided to go big with the Hellcat.

It is an interesting story that Ruedisueli tells that’s of interest to engineers and auto enthusiasts alike. And especially to those who happen to be both.

In addition to which, John McElroy, Chris Paukert of and I discuss a variety of subjects including the “firing” of Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo, the passing of auto industry icon Jim Harbour, the characteristics of the forthcoming fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 (a.k.a., Miata), and a whole lot more.

And you can see it here:


Infiniti Q80: A Concept, Right?

By: Gary S. Vasilash 12. September 2014

It’s going to be a few weeks until Infiniti reveals the Q80 Inspiration at the Paris Motor Show, at the Parc des Expositions de Versailles on October 2, but they have released this photographic tease:

nfiniti Q80 Inspiration: The premium progressive

The company says “Its very dimensions place the Q80 Inspiration clearly at the peak of the Infiniti range,” and while they didn’t provide those dimensions, given the fact that it is an “80” and presently the largest number in the sedan lineup is “70,” it is a bigger car. The Q70L is 202-in. long and has a 120.1-in. wheelbase, so presumably it is somewhat longer than that.

Infiniti describes the Q80 Inspiration as a “low-slung, ingeniously aggressive four-passenger fastback.” Given the roofline of this image, “low-slung” seems to be an understatement. And that makes it seem as though at least two of those four-passengers are going to have to be rather short or they’re going to be enduring a crooked neck.

But after all, it is a concept, n’est-ce pas?

Made in Michigan

By: Gary S. Vasilash 11. September 2014

These are automotive rearview cameras:

MAGNA INTERNATIONAL INC. - Produces 10 millionth rearview camera

They are the sort of thing that you’d image would be produced in a place like China, Thailand, India, or some other country far, far away from Michigan.

Come 2018, there are going to be a whole lot of rearview cameras made and deployed because the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced a rule that calls for some sort of rear-visibility technology on all vehicles under 10,000 lb., which pretty much includes all light cars and trucks. And cameras fit the bill.

But speaking of a whole lot of cameras, that picture is of product from Magna International Inc.

What’s notable is that they were produced in a 130,000-square-foot facility. . .in Holly, Michigan.

What’s more: Magna Electronics Holly has produced 10-million of them.

And according to Magna, it is the only rearview camera maker in the U.S.

Who knew?

(Of course, Magna has facilities elsewhere, too. As Swamy Kotagiri, Magna Chief Technical Officer, pointed out, “With engineering and manufacturing teams in the U.S., Germany and China, Magna is uniquely positioned to support our global customers with our innovative camera technology.” This is one of the few times that you’ll see a quote from an executive where the word “uniquely” really does apply, given the U.S.-based camera manufacturing status.)

An EV Challenge

By: Gary S. Vasilash 10. September 2014

One of the challenges that auto companies face when it comes to selling (or more likely leasing) electric vehicles (EVs) is that not only must they convince potential customers of the viability and reliability of the vehicles, not only must they do tremendous work explaining that while it is pretty much like a car it doesn’t make any engine noise because it doesn’t have an engine, not only must they try to overcome the objection that the range is limited even though the person who may buy the car is likely not to regularly commute for a distance that is even a fraction of the total potential battery range. . . they must also help develop the infrastructure for the EVs.

2015 Soul EV

This would be like car companies having to install their own gas stations.

Weeks before Kia Motors America is putting the Soul EV on the market in California the company announced that it is installing 17 DC fast chargers. This, the company notes, is in addition to the 198 fast chargers that are already existing in California. They have developed a UVO EVServices telematics app for smartphones that allow Soul EV owners to locate charging stations (and yes, this can be accomplished in the car via the standard 8-inch touchscreen), and the company has partnered with Greenlots, a company that provides access to a network of charge stations.

Kia is installing 50-kW Terra 53 CJ DC fast chargers from ABB in select Kia dealerships. It has established partnerships with Bosch, Leviton and Aerovironment for Level 2 at-home charging stations.

Orth Hedrick, Kia Motors America vp of product planning, said, “Our customers are making a sincere effort to be eco-conscious.”

Clearly Kia—like other OEMs—is making more than a sincere effort to make sure that those customers have the infrastructure they need for their EVs to operate seamlessly and effectively.


AOGH photo

According to the American Oil & Gas Historical Society, the first gas station was a Gulf station that opened in Pittsburgh in 1913. The organization points out that there is a competing claim that the first was a Standard Oil station in Seattle in 1907.

But note that it isn’t a Ford station or a Chevrolet station. Those companies were busy perfecting cars, not dispensing gas.

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