Chrysler’s petrol-hydrogen fuel cell concept – Throwback Thursday

Today, alternatively fuelled vehicles are embedded into the motoring public’s collective consciousness.

Electric vehicles, hybrids and plug-in hybrids accounted for 3.2% of all cars sold in the UK in the first half of this year. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, however, make up only a fraction of that figure, although with models such as the Toyota Mirai and Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell blazing a trail, there is an emerging market.

More than two decades ago, Chrysler developed a novel take on fuel cell power. The project started in 1993, when then US president Bill Clinton challenged Detroit’s big three car companies – Ford, General Motors and Chrysler – to develop a low-emissions car capable of 80mpg and have it on sale by 2003. The programme was known as the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicle (PNGV).

Chrysler showed how it planned to meet the economy target at the 1997 Detroit motor show, where it revealed a petrol-hydrogen fuel cell system which it hoped to apply to a mid-sized saloon by 1999. This clever new take on the fuel cell system circumvented the need to wait for an infrastructure of hydrogen filling stations to develop.

“Instead of waiting 30 or 40 years until we have hydrogen filling stations on every corner, couldn’t one squeeze hydrogen from petrol now and run a fuel cell on the extract?” wrote Autocar’s Michael Scarlett after examining Chrysler’s system in Detroit. “That would get the clean, efficient fuel cell going much sooner. Chrysler believes such a car could be quieter, much more efficient, just as quick and practically a zero polluter. What’s more, it could be on the market within 10 years.”

The system worked by pumping petrol into a fuel vaporiser and burning a very lean mixture of fuel and air in order to turn the liquid into vapour.

“The vapour is then fed to the partial oxidation reactor, which is basically a metal can with a spark plug,” explained Scarlett. “The vapour is mixed with a small quantity of air and ignited. Partial combustion produces hydrogen and carbon monoxide.

“Carbon monoxide cannot be permitted to enter the fuel cell, so it is removed using a process which uses steam and a catalyst to convert most of it to extra hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The hydrogen is then mixed with air, then pressurised and flowed through a 5ft-long stack of fuel cells.”

As project leader Christopher BorroniBird explained to Autocar back in 1997: “The idea is to generate hydrogen without any impurities harmful to the fuel cell. With today’s engines you have to treat the gas in the exhaust; here we’re treating the fuel before it goes into the engine. In a sense the fuel cell is an emission control device.”

Borroni-Bird also explained that Chrysler’s pragmatic new fuel cell system wasn’t limited to petrol conversion. “The processor will burn anything: gasoline, diesel, methane or alcohol,” he said. “But it is still very much on the drawing board.”

Chrysler’s engineers believed that this unorthodox petrol-fed hydrogen fuel cell vehicle could, if fully developed, produce up to 50% better fuel efficiency than contemporary petrol engines. They also predicted a similar range to petrol cars, along with a 0-60mph time of less than seven seconds.

Despite a raft of publicity for this concept and other fuel cell projects during the 1990s, hydrogen has taken another two decades to reach our public roads in any significant way. 


2019 Mercedes-AMG A45 to get 400bhp

The next Mercedes-AMG A45 4Matic is set to get a further boost in performance from the manufacturer.

The move is part of a plan to enhance the four-wheel-drive mega-hatch’s competitiveness against rivals such as the recently introduced Audi RS3 and BMW M2.

Currently in the early stages of development, the second-generation A45 is scheduled to go on sale in early 2019. It will be the flagship model for an extended range of A-Class models that will include a new plug-in petrol-electric hybrid.  

Changes to the A45’s body structure mean that it will be marginally longer than today’s version and adopt a higher percentage of aluminium in a bid to retain a similar kerb weight. It will also feature an updated version of AMG’s M133-designated turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine and the multi-plate four-wheel drive system used in today’s model.

The reworked 2.0-litre four-pot engine will be given a series of changes that include revised fuel injectors, an altered turbocharger and subtle revisions to the combustion process. These tweaks are said to enable the engine to kick out up to 200bhp per litre — a figure that hints at more than a 20bhp increase in reserves at over 400bhp.

This compares with 375bhp for the existing A45, which gained a 20bhp increase over the original model earlier this year. It is also significantly more than the 362bhp of the turbocharged 2.5-litre fivecylinder RS3 and 365bhp of the turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder M2. Accompanying the more powerful engine will be an AMG version of Mercedes’ upcoming nine-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which will be introduced on less powerful versions of the A-Class in late 2018.

With a new software map and unique ratios, along with tweaks to the four-wheel drive system and electric differential, a 0-62mph time of less than 4.0sec is regarded as a key engineering goal for the new A45.

The A45 won’t be the only AMG-engineered model in the new A-Class line-up, though.

Autocar can confirm that plans also exist for a second-tier model in a move similar to that made further up the Mercedes-AMG line-up with the likes of the C43, GLC43, SLK43 and E43.

Secrecy surrounds the new lower-rung AMG model, but insiders at the performance division’s Affalterbach headquarters suggest it will closely challenge the Volkswagen Golf GTI.

It is understood to forgo the updated M133 engine used by the next A45 for a powered-up version of Mercedes’ standard turbocharged 2.0-litre M270 engine, developing around 275bhp. 

Skoda Kodiaq SUV could lead brand’s charge into US market

The Skoda Kodiaq is the model best poised to launch Volkswagen’s Czech brand into the US market, according to the firm’s CEO, Bernhard Maier.

Speaking about the  Kodiaq launch, Maier said he believed the brand’s new SUV model would be a hit if sold in the US although he also explained that the US wasn’t on Skoda’s immediate radar.

“If we do decide to compete in the US, we will have one chance to make a good first impression,” he said. “We feel that if we were there now, the Kodiaq would be a home-run car.”
Maier said the three new markets that currently most interest Skoda are South Korea, Singapore and Iran but he added: “America is the one that we don’t currently compete in with the biggest potential”.
Skoda is undertaking a feasibility study to determine whether a potential US entry would make sense. The company has also recently trademarked the names of several of its models with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Names trademarked by the brand in the US include Superb, Octavia, Yeti and vRS, as well as a yet-to-be-identified H-Tec model name.

No timescale has been set for Skoda to make a decision about the US but its all-new Kodiaq model will go on sale in European markets at the start of 2017.

Don’t Drive and Pokemon’ signs pop up in Australia as unsafe driving reports mount

Authorities take note of crash risk following accident, report says

VicRoads, the State of Victoria’s road authority in Australia, is now displaying electronic warning signs to remind drivers not to play “Pokemon Go” while behind the wheel following several crashes, Motoring reports. “Don’t Drive and Pokemon” is now prominently shown on electronic overhead signs in Victoria, a state on Australia’s southeast coast.

The move follows several reports of unsafe driving, and at least one crash, in Australia in which “Pokemon Go” use was either suspected or confirmed.

“We know how popular it is, and it could be very tempting,” Robyn Seymour, the state director of road use policy, said in an interview with a radio station, according to Motoring.

“We don’t want to be putting drivers and other people at risk on the road.”

A Brisbane-area repair shop received its first damaged car, which, along with other vehicles, was involved in the hunt for Pokemon characters.

As in a number of other countries the app has sparked an increase in trespassing incidents, in addition to an unknown number of minor accidents and traffic stops caused by unsafe driving.

Motoring notes that the unexpectedly popular game, developed by Niantec Inc., could soon overtake Twitter as the country’s most popular app. The move by Vicroads to curb the use of Pokemon follows a single-car crash in New York State in which the driver struck a tree, later admitting to authorities to playing the game.

2017 Hyundai Sonata Adds Dynamic Headlights

The 2017 Hyundai Sonata enters the new model year with the modest addition of dynamic headlights. The headlights, which turn their beams when cornering to help drivers see more of the road around the bend, are only available on the top-of-the-line Sonata Limited. Hyundai also adjusted pricing and equipment levels across the Sonata range.

As last year, the Sonata is offered with one of three four-cylinder engines: a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 185 horsepower, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 245 horsepower, and a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 178 horsepower that’s exclusive to the fuel-efficient Sonata Eco. The former two engines are paired to a six-speed automatic transmission, while the latter engine relies on a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission to swap gears.
The price for the entry-level Sonata is up by $300 to $22,435, while an SE costs $200 more than before, at $22,785. Eco models, priced from $23,960, cost $600 less than last year, while the Sport with the 2.0-liter turbo sees its price fall by a whopping $2325 to $27,435 (Sport trim with the base 2.4-liter engine remains priced from $24,235). The massive price drop comes at the expense of deleting some previously standard features, such as HID headlights, LED taillights, a proximity key, dual-zone climate control, and a blind-spot monitor.
Meanwhile, the luxury-oriented Sonata Limited costs $200 less than the 2016 model, starting at $27,985. Consumers can add the aforementioned dynamic headlights as part of the $3400 Technology package, which also includes heated and vented front seats with memory, a navigation system, and more. Finally, springing for the Limited 2.0T includes the items in the Technology package and more. At $34,910, the Limited 2.0T is priced the same as last year’s car with its passive headlight system.

Top-10 oldest new cars you can buy

Although most models are treated to a thorough refresh every few years, there are cars that haven’t been treated to a substantial update since they first went on sale.

Just because they aren’t the latest and greatest though, doesn’t mean they’re not worth considering. There are some advantages to buying something that’s been around a while. For one, the car maker would have worked out all of the model’s foibles, but also with a long production cycle there should be a good supply of parts. With this in mind we scoured the new car price lists to find the ten best oldest models you can buy now.

1.Land Rover Defender


With production ceasing in the UK this year, the Defender just makes our cut. Although it has changed substantially over the decades, it’s visually, conceptually and philosophically close to the 90 and 110 it replaced in 1984. The pick-up version even shares a component with the 1948 version.

It’s crude and noisy by modern standards, but it’s the epitome of ruggedness, strength and capability. To acknowledge the car’s passing, Land Rover launched three special editions priced from £27,800 which will be available to buy from August – the last chance you’ll get to buy a current Defender in England. Although rumours are, there is an all-new Defender coming next year.

Launched in 1984.

Continue reading “Top-10 oldest new cars you can buy”

The fastest GT-R in the world.

New beast from Ekanoo racing. 

A man from San Fran called Gideon ‘Gidi’ Chamdi also wants to have his name engraved on the ultimate internet totem pole: the world’s fastest and most powerful Nissan GT-R.

EKanoo Racing’s GT-R has 2,000bhp, Gidi, with the help of AMS Performance, is going for 2,500bhp. Before you snub them, the partnership have quite a strong record for building ballistically fast cars.
Alpha G’s predecessor, Alpha 20, was a well-renowned GT-R in American drag racing circles. It won many events and famously made a 7.94 second run to win the elite TX2K15 drag race.

That was before it was written off by dropping oil and going straight into a concrete barrier. Oopsie. 

The car was a write-off, but thankfully Gidi was OK. Well enough in fact to go and claim the record for the world’s fastest Lamborghini after running a half mile at 234.86 mph in his Underground Racing prepared twin-turbo Gallardo.

But his latest GT-R wants to blow both of these cars out of the water. The target is 2500bhp, making it the most powerful GT-R build ever. That power will be thanks to a VR38 Billet Version 2 engine block (the one in the pics is a dummy) and two monstrous, forward facing Garrett GTX Turbos.