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Observer: CUV is 'Market Ready'

Industry News, Notes and Happenings
Saturday, March 1, 2008 - 01:00

Industry News, Notes and Happenings

NEW TECHNOLOGY

AUDI DEBUTS DIESEL-POWERED SUPERCAR

DETROIT – AUDI HAS INTRODUCED the first 12-cylinder diesel engine in a high-performance road-going sports car. The 6.0L Audi R8 V12 TDI merges Le Mans Audi R10 V12 TDI engine technology into the R8 chassis, superb road handling, pioneering technology and fascinating design. This unit generates a huge 500 hp and 737pound feet of torque. The R8 V12 TDI sprints from zero to 62 mph in just 4.2 seconds and its top speed is well over 186 mph. The peak torque, reached at only 1,750 rpm, paves the way for effortless acceleration that is unrivaled even at this level.

BREAKING NEWS

CROSSOVER CONCEPT CAR

CUV is 'Market Ready'

DETROIT – Johnson Controls Inc. (JCI) recently unveiled its I3 concept at the 2008 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The I3 offers innovations in ingenuity, integration and interface, including industry-first technologies for vehicle interiors and battery systems — all in a flexible, comfortable and user-friendly package.

The concept targets the fast growing, crossover utility vehicle (CUV) segment and also addresses the growing market interest in plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) as a sustainable mode of transportation. In developing the I3 concept, JCI designers and engineers zeroed in on the needs of CUV consumers, who seek individuality and flexibility; vehicles that serve work and leisure time needs; and interiors with a harmonious ambience. New seating solutions in the I3 give a spacious feel and allow enhanced room for storage. A variety of electronic innovations promote comfort and convenience based on a unique Johnson Controls approach to interior packaging and integration called Human Machine Interaction (HMI).

Ergonomics was a key development consideration for HMI electronics featured inside the concept. The 3-D instrument cluster reflects the HMI process in which electronics are added into a vehicle with close attention to interior integration, user interface and behavioral logic. A whole new design look and feel are created in the concept car, with the display reduced in width to a single, round instrument. The driver can select various functions, using switches on the steering wheel. In addition, there's a touch-screen HVAC that eliminates the need for over 20 mechanical buttons and knobs.

The I3's Mobile Device Gateway adds convenience by linking mobile electronic devices to the vehicle and allowing the driver to use a multicontroller or voice recognition to operate the devices intuitively, safely and easily. In addition, the unique, passive-entry function called PASS (Passive Access Start System) enables a driver to automatically unlock the vehicle doors when approaching the vehicle. After the driver is seated, the engine also can be started at the touch of the start button. PASS plays a vital role in optimizing vehicle electrical architecture, because the keyless entry and start functions are combined with other major cockpit functions.

Power is provided by an advanced lithium-ion battery that is the technology enabler of the concept vehicle's PHEV propulsion system, one that offers substantial fuel economy and security benefits. Integrated into the vehicle's trunk, the advanced lithium-ion battery has been specially designed for plug-in, hybrid-electric vehicles. PHEV batteries are one element of the company's advanced energy solutions portfolio that targets the full range of hybrid applications, from micro-hybrids to full hybrids.

Compared to nickel-metal hydride batteries, the lithium-ion battery from Johnson Controls takes up one-third less space and weighs 50 percent less. It has a service life of approximately 10 years. When regularly plugged into the electric grid at night, the PHEV drivetrain can yield fuel economy performance that is nearly double that of the conventional drivetrains.

In addition, to ensure safe and reliable performance, the battery system is engineered with multiple "layers" of protection against abusive operating conditions. This layered approach complements the cell electrochemistry and container design with system-level software and hardware features to maintain functional integrity.

"By seamlessly integrating a wide range of innovations in the I3 concept car — in seating, interiors, electronics and battery products — we're providing a view of the future possibilities for vehicle interiors and power solutions," says Jeff Williams, JCI group vice president and general manager, North America for the Automotive Experience. "Our goal is to create a smart environment that meets consumer demands for vehicle flexibility, connectivity, comfort and sustainability."

He adds that nearly all of the JCI products and innovations included in the I3 concept car are available for production now, and can be integrated into the next generation of vehicles."We also are expecting greater trends toward lighter vehicles that emphasize the role of design in maximizing space."

Legislation

Federal Study Proposes Increased Gas Tax to Update Transportation

WASHINGTON — Federal gasoline taxes should be increased up to 40 cents per gallon over the next five years, says the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, a 12-person panel appointed by Congress in 2005. Following a two-year study, the results were recently reported to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the Senate and Vice President Dick Cheney.

The study is the first to propose broad changes after the devastating bridge collapse in Minneapolis took 13 lives last August and exposed a deteriorating national surface transportation infrastructure. The panel, appointed by Congress, called for immediate action before another disaster strikes, warning that applying patches is no longer acceptable. It said the nation risks tens of thousands of highway casualties each year and millions of dollars lost in economic growth.

The report identified a number of key areas that require substantial capital spending to bring transportation infrastructure up to speed, as well as keeping pace for future expected needs.

"The crisis is now," the report states. "The U.S. now has incredible economic potential and significant transportation needs. We need to invest at least $225 billion annually from all sources for the next 50 years to upgrade our existing system to a state of good repair and create a more advanced surface transportation system. We are spending less than 40 percent of this amount today."

To bridge the funding gap, help fix the infrastructure and expand public transit and highways, as well as broaden railway and rural access, the panel proposed a number of measures, which include raising the current federal gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon by 5 to 8 cents annually for five years and then indexed to inflation afterward. The increase is designed to take effect in 2009, if adopted by Congress.

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