Hello, I’m John McElroy, welcome to Autoline China, the show that covers some of the most important new technologies in the automotive industry.
NEW ENGINE BREAKTHROUGH
There’s a fascinating technology being developed in Germany that could breathe new life into the internal combustion engine, and it all has to do with ignition. Pulsed microwave ignition, that is. A company called MWI has developed a way to ignite the air-fuel mixture at multiple points in the combustion chamber. With a spark plug, the fuel is ignited at one point and a flame front has to travel across the chamber before that energy is converted into mechanical motion. With microwave ignition, the entire air-fuel mixture is ignited simultaneously. This results in faster, more complete combustion, and at much lower temperatures. MWI says it reduces fuel consumption by 13-20%, but theoretically can reduce it 30%. It also results in significant reductions of NOX, CO, CO2, Hydrocarbons and Particulate Matter. Importantly, this technology can be retrofitted to existing engines with no modifications. MWI says it can be used in all types of combustion engines including gasoline, diesel, 2-stroke and wankel.
HONDA DEVELOPS AUTONOMOUS ALL-TERRAIN VEHICLE
Honda is showing how autonomy can be used for more than just moving people. Its created an off-road autonomous vehicle based on its All-Terrain Vehicle. Called the Honda Work Vehicle, the company has already tested it in several locations. It was used at a solar farm to help mow the grass. In agriculture settings, the vehicle can be used to transport food or fertilize the land. And it can help firefighters carry equipment while fighting wildfires.
Still to come…Magna creates a reconfigurable seating system for future mobility.
BORGWARNER HELPS AUTOMAKERS TO HYBRIDIZE
Even with the automotive industry making its push into the world of fully electric vehicles, the internal combustion engine will still play a big role for a long time to come. One way to bridge the gap is to hybridize a vehicle and the supplier BorgWarner has a solution. Its drive module that sits between the engine and transmission provides full hybrid function and takes up less space and is lighter than other units, which means it requires less investment to integrate it. Internally there are 3 clutch modules: one set to disconnect and restart the engine, one set for the odd gears and another for the even gears. This helps enhance shift feel and reduce drag up to 20%. And to improve useability, the drive module is compatible with automatic, continuously variable, dual clutch and manual transmissions.
MAGNA REVEALS FLEXIBLE SEATING SYSTEM
The supplier Magna shared its vision for a flexible vehicle interior. The seats slide on a rail system and are able to swivel into a number of positions, including what’s called Campfire seating. This is where all the rear seats are facing one another, which is a great way to keep the family entertained on a long road trip. There’s also a car sharing cargo mode for package delivery. The seats move to provide the maximum amount of space possible or the seat bottoms fold to give the user segmented areas to place packages. And if you wanted to prepare for a business meeting, the seats shift into what’s called Conference seating, so everybody in the vehicle can see and talk to one another.
Coming up next…how would you like the interior of your car to smell like chocolate?
MAKE YOUR CAR SMELL LIKE CHOCOLATE
Valeo is the French supplier company that works on the interior of cars. It has a technology called Smart Cocoon that’s all about making people feel better than when they get in their car.
It’s using different technologies but the one that caught my eye, or I should say my nose, is changing the smell in a car. To make you feel warmer on cold day, they made the interior smell like chocolate. That’s because we associate that smell with drinking hot chocolate on a cold day.
It also can generate a coffee smell, and for hot days it generates the smell of a green orange. The whole idea is to use olfactory senses to improve your emotional well-being, and you’ve got to give it to the French for coming up with an idea like that.
And that wraps up this edition of Autoline China.
John McElroy is an influential thought leader in the automotive industry. He is a journalist, lecturer, commentator and entrepreneur. He created “Autoline Daily,” the first industry webcast of industry news and analysis.