Nissan and Chrysler announce partnership on two vehicles

 Chrysler and Nissan last week announced an agreement that will see the two companies building vehicles in partnership with promises for a closer working relationship in the future.

Based in Auburn Hills, Michigan, Chrysler will produce a full-size pickup for Nissan based on the Dodge Ram at its facility in Saltillo, Mexico. For its part, Nissan will be assembling a small Chrysler car in Oppama, Japan. Both vehicles will be sold in North America with the Chrysler car to also be placed in the European market.

Although the current deal involves only the truck and car, industry analysts predict more partnership work by the two companies in the future. In the past, Nissan has expressed interest in finding a partner in North America to join the alliance it holds with Renault. Chrysler, for its part, has made it clear that it wants to have a bigger impact in the marketplace outside of North America.

Thomas W. LaSorda, President and Vice Chairman of Chrysler said, “Forging the right tactical partnerships is critical to the long-term success of Chrysler. Nissan has a proven track record in these win-win product exchanges with multiple manufacturers around the world.”

Both vehicles will actually be designed by the companies that will sell the products. The Chrysler car will be the company’s first subcompact offering, one with great potential given the rising demand for smaller, more fuel-efficient cars.


                                       BMW presents BMW M1 homage                               

To mark the 30th anniversary of the BMW M1 super sports car, BMW Group Design is presenting homage to this legendary model as part of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2008. The BMW M1 designed by Giorgio Giugiaro was a car of superlatives and a highly emotive vehicle that was uncompromisingly primed for the race track.


Mazda wins award for diesel research

Mazda Motor Corporation has announced that it will receive the ‘Outstanding Technical Paper Award 2008’ at the prestigious 58th Annual Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan (SAEJ) awards ceremony to be held in May.

Mazda will be honoured for its in-depth analysis of the combustion mechanism of catalysts in diesel particulate filters. Mazda has been conducting research into combustion mechanisms to eliminate particulate matter, mainly soot, from diesel engine exhaust emissions.

The Hiroshima-based company developed an original analytical method, which demonstrated that the oxygen exchange characteristics of catalysts play an important role in accelerating the combustion of particulate matter. The 2008 SAEJ award will be Mazda’s fourth honour from the society in recent years.

Mazda’s research work will aid development of highly-efficient diesel particulate filters (DPF) in the future. Additionally, the newly-developed analytical method can be applied not only to automobile diesel engines, but also to general-purpose diesel engines. The award recognises these achievements, which provide tangible development guidelines for a wide range of future diesel engine technologies.

Mazda will leverage its new analytical method to find ways of accelerating particulate matter combustion in order to significantly reduce exhaust processing times. By developing this technology, Mazda intends to cut the fuel consumption of future models and achieve cleaner exhaust emissions, together with reduced CO2 output.

The Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan has conducted its Annual Awards programme since 1951, as a means of encouraging the advancement of automotive engineering and associated technologies. Its ‘Outstanding Technical Paper Award’ recognises the contribution made by companies, individuals and their collaborators for outstanding research in the field of automotive technology.


                                    Section analysis                 Brakes-Part I

By Lal Alawatte M.I.M.I (UK), Dip. Auto.Eng. (Jap.)
As we go along the sections of a vehicle, the third most important section is the brakes. I hope you haven’t forgotten the first two sections we discussed for several weeks before I responded to your queries last week.

When we talk about brakes, mainly there are two types as service brakes and parking brakes. In colloquial terms we call the service brakes as general brakes and parking brakes as hand brakes.

General brakes or service brakes can again be divided into three main categories as 100 percent mechanical brakes, hydraulic brakes and power assisted hydraulic brakes. Actually, these categories can be looked at as the evolution of the brakes.

Mechanical brakes which were used nearly two decades ago were replaced by hydraulic brakes and they were replaced by power assisted hydraulic brakes. In the present day motor vehicles, two kinds of power assisted brake technologies are being used. For light vehicles, a vacuum pump is used to produce brake and for heavy vehicles a different technology is employed using air pressure.

Now let us discuss the tyre construction in terms of the brakes system of a vehicle. The rear wheels of any vehicle have brakes with drums and linings (brake shoes) and the front wheels with brake disks and pads.

Presently, the global motor industry is growing at a pace we have never thought of and there are companies who are producing the most advanced technologies for modern coupes. The use of the state-of-the-art-technology has also contributed a lot to the development of the brake systems. Anti Skid Brake (ABS) and EBD (Electronic Break Force Distribution) are very good examples of this.

Maintenance of service brakes mainly lies with the keeping of the prescribed brake oil levels and the replacement of exhausted break linings and pads. Like all the other lubricants in a vehicle, maintenance of the prescribed brake oil level is very important. Non-maintenance of other lubricants in a vehicle will only result in the deterioration of your vehicle. But you must always remember lack of proper maintenance of your brake oil levels might cost your life.

Replacement of brake oil at the correct mileage is also very crucial. Automobile engineers prescribe that after every 40,000 kms brake oil should be changed. Or else, at least every 2 years, you are advised to change the brake oil of your vehicle despite the mileage.

This is because brake oil is the only lube in a vehicle that is subjected to very high temperature. The boiling point of any brake oil is generally 220 Celsius. Due to the high temperatures the brake oil is subjected to, usually contaminations get into the oil. The chief contamination that can get into brake oil is vapour. Once the oil gets contaminated, it could affect the entire brake system and can cause dysfunctions.

At the same time, you must be mindful to check whether there are brake oil leaks. If the oil level in the brake oil container is going down unusually fast, you can come to the conclusion of a possible oil leak. Once diagnosed, you are advised to take your vehicle to your mechanic as soon as possible, because the size of the leak can increase without your knowledge.

Since in several of the previous columns I have mentioned the importance of replacing the exhausted brake pads and linings, I am not going to dwell upon it in this column.

Another defect that can occur in the territory of the brake system of a vehicle is the free play of the break paddle. This can occur due to many reasons and therefore once you notice free play in the paddle you should go to your mechanic and get it checked.

The maintenance of parking brakes or the hand brakes normally doesn’t give you much strain. The only major defect that can occur is a broken cable. You can simply diagnose a defect in the hand brake cable by lifting the hand brake lever. If it can be lifted up way too much, it can be sign of a defect in the cable.
To be continued………..


Toyota launches new modular in-car entertainment (ice) kit

The chance to watch movies or play computer games while on the move has helped banish back-seat boredom for millions of motorists. With in-car DVD systems increasingly a top option – particularly for families – Toyota has developed a new in-car entertainment accessory pack that is versatile, portable and great value for money.

The Modular ICE kit comprises two seven-inch screens that mount easily and securely to the back of the front seat headrests. The master screen has a side-loading DVD player and USB 1.1 slot and both screens can be used for video playback or connecting games consoles and cameras. Two sets of infra-red headphones and a remote control are also provided.

A tilt and height adjustment function allows the monitors to be easily adjusted so younger children can enjoy a good view and the adjustable headphones provide a better fit for small heads. A quick-release system means the screens are easy to remove, so do not have to be left in the car and risk being stolen. With an optional AC adapter they can also be used indoors, running off a domestic power supply.

The screens operate independently, so a disc can be viewed on both simultaneously or on one while the other is used for gaming. For even more flexibility, two master screens can be specified, as an extra-cost option. The system is compatible with MP3, MP4 and DivX formats.

The Modular ICE system is available for Toyota Auris, Avensis, Verso, RAV4 and Land Cruiser models. The price for the basic pack is Ł830 (including VAT), plus fitting.


Muscle car lovers snatching up 2008 Dodge Challenger

Muscle car lovers jumped on the 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 with unbridled enthusiasm, snatching up 90% of the production run before any of the cars were ever built. With demand remaining high, the much sought after performance car looks to be a sell-out for 2009 as well.

Original plans called for 5,000 of the SRT8s to be built for 2008, but in light of the volume of orders, Dodge upped that number by 1,400 units. According to the brand marketing chief for Dodge, Michael Accavitti, “We’ve got over 11,000 orders for 6,400 cars. We’re encouraging dealers to flip them into ‘09s.”

In just a few months, the company will formally introduce the 2009 Challenger in three models, each with a unique engine, beginning with the SE outfitted with a six-cylinder engine. The Challenger SRT8, opening at $37,995, will offer just three options: navigation, sunroof, and Goodyear F1 Supercar three-season performance tires. The preference for most Challenger customers is to go fully loaded.

The 2008 Challenger sports 425 horsepower, vented Brembo brakes, and five-link independent rear suspension. It comes standard with the Chrysler MyGig system for ‘infotainment’ as well as wireless communications via UConnect Bluetooth. While the original 1970 Challenger was best known for drag racing, its modern successor, outfitted with pluses like an Electronic Stability Programme and supplemental side-curtain airbags, is the ultimate modern expression of the muscle car legacy.


Mahindra & Mahindra enters spares, used-car markets

Auto major Mahindra & Mahindra is expanding its presence in the after-market sector. M&M has announced a complete after-market vertical which will consolidate its three business units; Mahindra First Choice services (multi-brand service chain), Mahindra First Choice (for purchase and sale of pre-owned vehicles) and Mahindra Spares Business (for both Mahindra and Non-Mahindra spares).

We plan to invest almost Rs.250 crore in this segment, while there will also be other investments made by the franchisees, said Rajeev Dubey, President (HR, After-market & Corporate services) and member of the group management board, M&M.

According to a media release issued by the company, the vertical will be headed by Mr. Dubey. M&M plans to target almost 19 cities for its used car business and close to 30 cities for its repairs business, said R Subramani, Mahindra First Choice Services CEO.