Audi unleashes big-eyed R18 Le Mans prototype racer

December 13th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Audi has just pulled the covers off its newest LMP1 Le Mans prototype racer, the R18. The new machine looks suitably hardcore and has abandoned the open-top design of its predecessors — the R8, R10 and R15 Plus — for a closed roof to improve aerodynamics and reduce driver fatigue. Audi has been very successful at the Le Mans 24 Hours race in recent years winning it nine times since 1999 with the R8, R10 TDI and R15 TDI. The R18 looks set to continue the legacy.

Unlike the earlier R15, which used a 5.5-litre V10 diesel engine, the new model generates power from a much smaller, 3.7-litre TDI V6 engine, mated to a modified six-speed transmission.

The R18 uses a single-piece carbon fibre monocoque, which keeps weight down and increases stiffness.

In terms of exterior design the headlights are the most eye-catching parts of the R18. The headlights make use of “optimised” LED technology, they incorporate Audi light designers’ personal touch: daytime running lights shaped like a “1”.

The Audi R18 was first approved in mid 2009, while engine testing began in summer 2010. The first track test took place at the end of November and Audi is now planning to enter three cars into next years Le Mans 24 hour endurance race.

Check out more images of the Audi R18 in the gallery below. Continue reading “Audi unleashes big-eyed R18 Le Mans prototype racer” »

Mercedes-Benz drops details on SLS AMG E-Cell (+video)

June 23rd, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Mercedes-Benz has just released details of its newest creation the SLS AMG E-Cell Prototype. The E-Cell isn’t a hybrid but is fully electric-powered receiving its energy from lithium-ion polymer battery modules. The battery packs are stored in the centre tunnel just behind the two seats.

Surprisingly, only minimal adjustments were required to accommodate the new powertrain, but a new suspension set-up of a independent multilink front with pushrod damper struts was needed.

In terms of power, there is a drop over the petrol vehicle but not by a lot. The E-Cell produces 392 kW (526 bhp) and max torque of 880 Nm. Apparently the battery pack has a maximum load potential of 480 kW (644 bhp). This will enable the prototype to sprint from 0 – 100kph in just 4 seconds, which is close in performance to the petrol version. Details on range and battery recharge times have not been released by Mercedes.

Keeping the temperature down are two cooling circuits, a special front fascia that assists airflow under the body and can be controlled by the driver through a cabin-fitted button. The SLS’s optional ceramic composite brakes are fitted.

For exterior looks there is a wider front grille, LED headlights, 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels with 265/35 and 295/30 tyres respectively.

The interior features a unique AMG instrument cluster with the usual gauges and a display for charge status. There is a mix of leather and Alcantara for the seats and a 10-inch touch main control screen.

There has been no announcement for possible launch dates but the SLS AMG E-Cell is part of Mercedes’ 2015 strategy of reducing fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

Check out images of the E-Cell in the gallery below, and a short video of the vehicle. Continue reading “Mercedes-Benz drops details on SLS AMG E-Cell (+video)” »

Mini drops first official images of Countryman prototype

May 19th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The largest Mini yet is arriving in the next few months in the form of the long awaited Countryman crossover. To remind us all of its impending arrival BMW has dropped a pile of fresh photos of a marginally camouflaged prototype along with details on the powertrains and trim levels. When it is initially launched In Europe, the Countryman will be offered with five engine options, including two diesels.

Trim levels start off in familiar fashion with a Mini One and One D, Cooper D and Cooper S. All of these receive the updated Mini 1.6-litre four-cylinders with all three petrol engines now boasting BMW’s Valvetronic full variable valve control system. The top-spec 181 horsepower Cooper S now has the same direct injection system previously reserved for the John Cooper Works models. There is no word yet on a full JCW Countryman being offered, but Mini fans need something to look forward to.’

All Countryman variants get a six-speed transmission in either manual or automatic form, and the Countryman is also the first Mini to be offered with all-wheel drive. The new system, called ALL4, uses an electromagnetically controlled center differential to distribute up to 100 percent of torque to either front or back axle when required. The Countryman is also the first Mini to have true four passenger seating and will have an optional three passenger rear bench seat or 2+2 seating as standard.

Ferrari Dino Competizione

December 20th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

An interview with car collector Jim Glickenhaus with his new Ferrari Dino Competizione

Nissan shows off Tiida based electric prototype

July 29th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Nissan Tiida EV prototype fq

Nissan announced earlier this week its plans for the development of a new all-electrcic car set to go to market in North America and Japan in 2010. The company has integrated it’s latest EV technology onto a Nissan Tiida platform and named it the Nissan Tiida EV prototype. Nissan has also been busy developing a clever EV-IT system which will support electric driving 24/7. The EV-IT unit will transmit and receive data from a global data centre providing info like a maximum range display with a radius on the vehicles navigation map and display available charging stations with opening hours etc.

The Nissan Tiida EV has a highly rigid body, a high-performance motor and compact lithium-ion battery. The Nissan Tiida EV develops 80kW/280Nm and is able to run for 160km on a single charge of the battery and the car is also fiited with a regenerative brake system.

For a long-winded run down on Nissan’s latest EV check out the full press release below.

Press Release:

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd today previewed its electric vehicle EV platform on a Tiida-based prototype to demonstrate the superior driving pleasure of a pure zero-emission vehicle. It also showcased a sophisticated EV-IT system developed to support electric driving 24/7 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). EV prototype based on the newly developed EV platform

Newly developed EV platform

The dedicated EV platform is comprised of a highly rigid body, high-performance motor, compact lithium-ion battery with high power output and energy capacity, delivering outstanding driving performance and safety, while offering a quiet and peaceful driving experience — a unique feature of a fully-electric drivetrain.

The in-house developed electric motor delivers:

80kW/280Nm for high response and powerful acceleration. Nissan’s unique motor control also contributes to the vehicle’s seamless acceleration.

The 24kWh laminated compact lithium-ion battery pack is placed under the vehicle floor for more efficient packaging, without compromising cabin or cargo space. The battery layout also allows smooth underfloor air-flow which helps reduce drag. Additionally, the regenerative brake system employed to recharge the battery during deceleration and braking extends the driving range to more than 160km*1 under a full charge.

High durability is achieved by employing an additional frame for the battery pack to significantly improve the rigidity of the platform. The combination of a high rigidity platform and electric powertrain minimises vibration and external sounds to produce a quiet and pleasing drive.

EV-IT support function

Nissan has developed a sophisticated IT system for its zero-emission EVs, connecting the vehicle’s on-board transmitting unit to a global data centre*2 to support EV driving 24 hours 7 days a week.

Usability and convenience for EV driving is achieved via the following: Maximum range display

With a simple touch of a button, the navigation map shows the driving radius within range under the current state of charge.

The system can calculate if the vehicle is within range of a pre-set destination.

Update on charging stations

The navigation system points out the latest information on available charging stations within the current driving range.

Detailed information for each charging station will also be displayed.

Timer function

The timer function enables the air-conditioner or battery charging to begin at a specified time. The air-conditioner can be pre-set while the vehicle is plugged-in to cool the cabin to a desirable temperature before driving begins, without taxing the vehicle’s battery. Meanwhile, the battery charging can be set to start at a specified time at night to benefit from more favourable electricity rates. EV remote control and monitoring function

The driver can monitor the state-of-charge of the EV via an online website and a cellular phone. For example, when the battery is fully charged, a message alert is sent to the cellular phone. Additional remote control functions range from switching the charging system ON/OFF or setting the air-conditioner timer. To be a leader in zero-emission mobility, Nissan is progressing its development for electric vehicles and the key components. The all-electric vehicle slated for launch in 2010 will have a unique design and body. Nissan plans to unveil the design of the production EV at its new Global Headquarters Opening in Yokohama on August 2nd. A Nissan Zero-emission Website ( will also go live on Aug. 2nd.

Nissan has been addressing a wide range of actions under “Blue Citizenship” which represents the company’s desire to protect the blue planet and to be a corporate citizen that can live symbiotically with people and society. These efforts range from such global issues as the environmental protection to contribution to communities, promoting diversity and making personal mobility available to as many people as possible. Nissan continues promoting the development of zero-emission vehicles based on the “Blue Citizenship” spirit by introducing effective technologies, products and services into the market.

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