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A look inside the Infiniti VC-Turbo engine


PHOENIX — When you think about it, just about all the improvements made to the internal combustion engine in the last hundred years have been bolt-on items that left the rotating mass — the pistons, crankshaft and rods — unchanged.

Yes, the camshaft moved in some engines from below the cylinder head to above it. But regardless of the location, the cam still looks the same and does the same thing: open the valves.

The carburetor has given way to fuel injection; electronic ignitions have replaced the points and condenser. In other words, nearly all the components and systems that make the internal combustion engine run have seen massive improvements that also have improved the engine’s efficiency.

But take a crankshaft and rods from an engine made a century ago and compare them to today’s parts, and you won’t see much change.

And that’s why the variable compression engine debuting next year in the 2019 Infiniti QX50 is a really a big deal — a major reworking of the basic operating principles of the piston-driven internal combustion engine. That hasn’t happened in our lifetime. And, now that we are at the dawn of the electrification age, it may not happen again.

Infiniti calls its 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine the VC-Turbo, and its engineering layout is ingenious. An elliptic device attached to the crankshaft where the rods go changes the distance the pistons travel in the cylinder by as much as 6 mm, or about a quarter of an inch. That varies the compression from 8.1 to 14.1. The result is V-6-like performance with four-cylinder diesel-like fuel economy — with none of the image baggage or cost of the diesel.

Two weeks ago at Infiniti’s proving grounds here, I got a chance to look inside a cutaway of the engine. Nothing works like you think it does. Looking at the moving parts — and there are a lot more of them in the VC-Turbo — I was thinking the engine must lose a lot of power because of parasitic losses or internal friction.

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In a regular engine, the major friction points are on the crankshaft assembly, both ends of the rods and the piston traveling up and down in the cylinder. In the VC-Turbo, each piston is connected to a multilink device with a rod on each side, one of which mates to a control shaft. That’s the part the electronic actuator pushes to change the piston travel and thus the compression. In other words, there are a lot more moving parts. And about 22 pounds more weight than a regular four-cylinder turbo.

But Shinichi Kiga, Nissan’s chief powertrain engineer, told me the VC-Turbo engine creates less friction than a regular engine. The secret: Nissan engineers moved the crankshaft out from being directly underneath the pistons’ bores and offset it about 15 degrees. That, in combination with the multilink assembly, eliminates the usual side forces that act on a piston as it travels in the cylinder. In other words, the piston is pushed and pulled straight and up down in each cylinder.

Behind the wheel of a test 2019 QX50 with the VC-Turbo engine, I experienced strong low-speed torque, no perceptible turbo lag and impressive acceleration all the way up to around 100 mph. But what I really liked — and I made sure Kiga knew it — was the sound of the engine. At wide open throttle, the VC-Turbo engine sounds glorious as it revs.

Kiga says the multilink variable compression technology could also be used in a three-cylinder engine to replace a four-cylinder, but it is not a great fit for V-6 and V-8 engines.

Here’s my prediction: This VC-Turbo engine could go down as one of the most loved ever made by Nissan. It excites the senses with great sounds. It delights with impressive performance. And it should sip fuel.

In the QX50 compact crossover, the VC-Turbo is replacing a big V-6. In a lightweight car, the performance and fuel economy would probably set the standard. And it would be a marvel.

Article source: http://www.autonews.com/article/20171121/BLOG06/171129932/a-look-inside-the-infiniti-vc-turbo-engine

Jackson will speak at AN World Congress

Mike Jackson, CEO of the country’s largest publicly traded dealership group and one of the industry’s most influential leaders, will speak Jan. 16 at the Automotive News World Congress.

The outspoken AutoNation chief has played a key role in modernizing auto retailing over the last two decades.

At AutoNation, he has pushed a brand-extension strategy: buying and adding AutoNation-branded collision centers, used-only stores and parts.

The company now operates over 360 new-vehicle franchises at 274 stores, 77 collision centers, three auto auctions and three stand-alone pre-owned sales and service centers, in 16 states.

This month, AutoNation said it was forming a partnership with Waymo to service Waymo’s fleet of self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids.

Before joining AutoNation in 1999, Jackson was CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA.

Article source: http://www.autonews.com/article/20171120/OEM09/171129968/jackson-will-speak-at-an-world-congress

Honda recalls 900000 minivans to inspect, repair tip-prone seats

WASHINGTON — Honda Motor Co. said on Saturday that it was recalling about 900,000 minivans because second-row seats may tip forward if not properly latched after being adjusted.

The automaker said the recall covers 2011-17 Honda Odyssey minivans, all but 2,000 of which are in North America, and that it had 46 reports of minor injuries related to the issue.

Honda said it was working on a recall fix to help ensure proper latching and, in the interim, had posted a detailed instruction sheet on how to ensure seats are properly latched.

Article source: http://www.autonews.com/article/20171118/RETAIL05/171119784/honda-recalls-900000-minivans-to-inspect-repair-tip-prone-seats

6.3 million Americans are 90 days late on their auto loan payments

A rising number of Americans are unable to make the monthly payments on their car or truck loans and are in danger of having their vehicles repossessed, according to data released this week by the New York Federal Reserve.

There are 6.3 million Americans who are 90 days late — or more — on their auto loan payments, up about 400,000 from a year ago. When someone gets so far behind on their payments, they typically end up losing their vehicle.

The delinquency rate on auto loans has been steadily rising since 2011, a red flag at a time when the unemployment rate has been falling. The unemployment rate is 4.1%, the lowest level since 2000. As more and more Americans get jobs and income coming in, it should be easier for them to pay their bills. But the rise in auto loan delinquencies is a reminder that millions are still struggling to make ends meet.

Many of the people who can’t pay their car loans have bad credit scores — lower than 620 on an 800-point scale. They don’t have many options to get money to buy a new or used car and often end up getting a subprime auto loan that comes with an interest rate of 15% to 20%.

Daimler launches Tel Aviv hub for auto technology

TEL AVIV — Daimler has opened a Mercedes-Benz research and development center in Tel Aviv, one of a growing number of multinational firms seeking to tap into Israel’s auto technology expertise as the industry moves towards self-driving cars.

The new center, which focuses on digital vehicle and mobility services, has 15 workers and this number will grow to 25 next year. Financial details were not disclosed.

“Customers will only embrace new technologies if they are confident the software and data are protected. Our new hub in Tel Aviv will help us live up to the expectations of our customers,” Ola Kaellenius, head of group research and Mercedes-Benz Cars development, told a news conference.

Israel has about 450 startups working on auto technologies ranging from cyber security for connected cars to perception technology.

Mercedes CEO Dieter Zetsche said that in addition to carrying out its own rd in Tel Aviv, the automaker will seek to partner with start-ups and in certain cases invest in or acquire technologies.

In September Daimler’s van division invested $50 million in a joint venture with Israeli-U.S. ride-hailing startup Via.

Also in September, StoreDot, which is developing fast-charging batteries, raised $60 million in financing led by Daimler’s truck division. Daimler joined as a strategic partner to accelerate the adoption of StoreDot’s FlashBattery technology in electric vehicles.

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Article source: http://www.autonews.com/article/20171116/COPY01/311169939/daimler-launches-tel-aviv-hub-for-auto-technology

Porsche mulls a hybrid variant of 911

VW to spend over $40B on EVs, autonomy push

Porsche is considering adding battery power to the 911, making the top variant of the iconic sports car a hybrid, according to people familiar with the matter.

The move would follow the rollout of the $184,000 Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid as the high-end version of Porsche’s four-door coupe and reflects the brand’s gradual shift to electric power. The plan is part of parent Volkswagen AG’s 20 billion-euro ($24 billion) push to build electric variants of all 300 models in the 12-brand group’s lineup.

A high-performance hybrid could be introduced a few years into the life cycle of the eighth-generation 911, which is set to be unveiled toward the end of 2018, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the plan isn’t public. Porsche engineers are still working to reduce battery weight in order to offer an electric driving range of about 40 miles (70 kilometers) without jeopardizing handling, according to the people.

The technology on the next 911 model will allow integration of an electric powertrain, and the manufacturer is keeping all options open regarding engine specifications, a spokesman for Porsche said.

Mission E

Porsche’s deliberations to electrify the 911 highlights the fundamental shift toward battery-powered cars to meet tightening emission rules across the globe, including the brand’s largest market China.

Even though sport utility vehicles dominate the brand’s sales, the 911 — in production for more than five decades — still defines Porsche’s reputation for performance. That makes tinkering with the model more of a risk than with newer vehicle lines. The company already absorbed a backlash from purists when it opted for turbo charging over naturally aspirated engines with the new 911.

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Article source: http://www.autonews.com/article/20171117/OEM05/311179947/porsche-mulls-a-hybrid-variant-of-911

Subprime Auto Delinquency Is Near Crisis Levels at Non-Bank Lenders

There’s a growing rift in car debt: Delinquent subprime loans are nearing crisis levels at auto finance companies, while loan performance at banks and credit unions has been improving, data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York show.

Hyundai celebrates the drivers of tomorrow

Previous Weeks

Top Videos of the Year

Top Videos of All Time

In the latest video to join our viral video chart, Hyundai brings out the big guns: Kids.

To celebrate Children’s Day, Nov. 10, Hyundai India created a lighthearted, 34-second video dubbed “To the Drivers of Tomorrow.”

In the clip, several children imitate drivers behind the wheel — hand motions and engine noises included — before wishing a Happy Children’s Day “to the drivers of tomorrow.”

The video had 3,154,225 views, good for No. 3 on the chart, according to the rankings compiled by Visible Measures.

Alfa Romeo and GMC also had new videos join the chart this week.

Ford’s “Head to Head” was once again the most viewed video with 4,898,890 views.

Ford
NA
This week
(True Reach): 4,898,980

Last week: 1

Renault
NA
This week
(True Reach): 4,892,240

Last week: RETURNEE

Hyundai
NA
This week
(True Reach): 3,154,225

Last week: NEW

Mazda
NA
This week
(True Reach): 1,855,226

Last week: 3

Alfa Romeo
NA
This week
(True Reach): 1,550,809

Last week: NEW

GMC
NA
This week
(True Reach): 1,523,893

Last week: NEW

Kia
NA
This week
(True Reach): 1,506,757

Last week: 6

Honda
RPA
This week
(True Reach): 1,241,733

Last week: 5

GMC
NA
This week
(True Reach): 1,200,762

Last week: 9

Land Rover
NA
This week
(True Reach): 1,153,132

Last week: 2

Source: Visible Measures

Automotive News’ Video Traction Chart, powered by Visible Measures, focuses on brand-driven social video ad campaigns. Each campaign is measured by True Reach, an MRC accredited metric that includes views from brand-driven and audience-driven social video clips. The data are compiled using the patented Visible Measures platform, a constantly growing repository of analytic data on hundreds of millions of videos tracked across hundreds of online video destinations.

Note: This analysis does not include Visible Measures’ paid-placement (e.g., overlays; pre-, mid-, and post-roll) performance data or video views on private sites. This chart does not include movie trailers, video game campaigns, TV show, or media network promotions. View counts are incremental by week.

**Indicates percent change in views compared with the same period the week before.

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Article source: http://www.autonews.com/article/20171115/VIRALVIDEO/311159954/hyundai-celebrates-the-drivers-of-tomorrow

China October auto sales stall as sedan demand shrinks

China’s auto sales growth fell below 1 percent in October as demand for sedans contracted, an industry group said Wednesday.

Sales rose 0.4 percent over a year ago to 2.3 million units, down from September’s 4.1 percent growth, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. Total vehicle sales, including trucks and buses, rose 2 percent to 2.7 million vehicles.

Chinese auto sales have struggled this year after a temporary tax cut boosted last year’s growth to 15 percent. Sales contracted in April and May before growing feebly in recent months.

That weakness is a setback for global automakers that look to China to drive future revenue, though some have grown faster than the market, taking share from Chinese and other rivals.

“From January to October, production and sales of automobiles achieved a slight increase but year-on-year growth dropped slightly,” said CAAM in a statement.

Demand has weakened following double-digit annual gains as Chinese economic growth slowed and Beijing and other major cities tightened restrictions on ownership to curb smog and congestion.

October sales of sedans shrank by 5.4 percent to 1.1 million, offset by a 13.9 percent gain for SUVs to 1 million.

For the first 10 months of the year, sales rose just 2.1 percent over the same period of 2016.

General Motors Co., which competes with Volkswagen AG for the status of China’s biggest automaker, said October sales rose 11 percent to 382,723.

By contrast, Ford Motor Co. said sales declined 5 percent from a year earlier to 106,000.

Nissan Motor Co., the most popular Japanese brand in China, said sales rose 18.2 percent to 150,271.

Article source: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/china-october-auto-sales-stall-sedan-demand-shrinks-51160054

Shares of Advance Auto Parts Soar 19% After Topping Earnings Estimates

What happened

Shares of Advance Auto Parts (NYSE:AAP), a leading automotive aftermarket parts provider focusing on professional and do-it-yourself customers, were up nearly 19% as of 12:07 p.m. EST Tuesday after the company topped Wall Street’s profit estimates.

So what

Advance Auto reported total net sales of $2.18 billion for the third quarter, a 3% decline from the prior year and short of analysts’ estimates calling for $2.21 billion. But despite falling short on revenue estimates the auto parts retailer generated adjusted earnings of $1.43 per share, which was far better than analysts’ consensus estimate of $1.20 per share.

Image source: Getty Images.

In the press release announcing the results, President and CEO Tom Greco said:

“We continue to take steps to build the foundation for future growth. We executed key transformational initiatives, including a complete restructure of our field operations and professional sales leadership teams. This important step in our journey sets us up well for the future. In the third quarter, we delivered improvements in cost initiatives while positioning the business for future success. We remain on track to deliver our 2017 guidance.” 

Now what

Part of Advance Auto’s share price spike Tuesday simply reflects how heavily the stock had been sold off previously. Before that pop, Advance shares had shed just over half their value year to date and, even with today’s jump included, are still down roughly 41% on the year. The company still needs to improve margins by optimizing its supply chain and distribution, but the increase in numbers of miles driven and the rising average age of vehicles on the road should help the company grow over the medium term.

 

Article source: https://www.fool.com/investing/2017/11/14/shares-of-advance-auto-parts-soar-19-after-topping.aspx