Thursday, November 29, 2007, posted by Auto Rider at 8:32 PM

With the increasing price of petroleum fuel and the threat of climate change, the global community is on the lookout for technologies which can be of great help towards energy sustainability. Automakers like Toyota, Honda, Ford, and Volkswagen are developing different engine technologies to make greener vehicles. Japanese automakers are known for hybrids while European car manufacturers are more inclined on the development of diesel engines. But these engines still burn petroleum fuel and thus produce greenhouse gases.

One company which has taken a major step towards developing technologies to solve the world's energy problem is Clyvia Technology GmbH. The said company has succeeded in harvesting diesel from waste materials such as plastic bags, cable sleeves, and even vehicle components. These materials contain petroleum in varying amount. The German company has shown that it is possible to get heating oil and diesel from these trashes.

Christopher Stampfli, the designate CEO Clyvia which is based in Schaffhausen, said: "This process is attractive not just to public and private waste disposal operators, but many industrial corporations and freight operators can apply it to cut their disposal costs and simultaneously generate energy - either for their own vehicle fleet or to sell at the gas station."

According to statistics, about 20 million tons of plastic waste is produced in Europe every year along with 2.5 tons of waste oil. Of the plastic wastes, only half or ten million tons are being reused. This means that a huge amount of plastic wastes can be tapped to produce quality fuel. By recovering the petroleum contained within these materials, a lot of sectors will be benefited.

Plant operators will be raking in profit and consumers will have a better alternative to conventional diesel fuel. According to reports, diesel fuel produced from Clyvia's technology is priced about 25 cents lower than conventional diesel fuel used in the regular equipped vehicles. The environment will also be benefited as this process will reduce the amount of plastic wastes being tossed into landfills.

The Auto Channel describes the process as: "The company uses the method of ‘fractioned depolymerization’, which is similar to cracking crude oil. In a thermal treatment process, long hydrocarbon chains are shortened until they are as long as heating oil or diesel. The method was developed and tested at the end of the 1970s and was proved to work even then, although the general conditions at the time were not suitable for profitable operation of the plant. In its own laboratories, Clyvia Technology GmbH has proved that the transformation of used oil, flushing oil and polymers into diesel or heating oil works."

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007, posted by Auto Rider at 9:33 PM

After the departure of former two-time world champion Fernando Alonso from the Woking-based McLaren team, various names have been linked with his vacated seat. Experts believe that McLaren will be looking for a young driver. But there have been reports that McLaren should look to seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher as the German might be looking to resume his Formula One career after retiring at the end of the 2005 season.

Recently, a Schumacher declared his desire to drive for McLaren. But it was not Michael who is wooing McLaren but his younger brother Ralf. The younger Schumacher who is said to be the highest paid driver in his time has left Toyota at the end of the last season and is now looking for a seat in a competitive team as Toyota failed to give Ralf a competitive car.

Ralf said that he is not the only driver wanting the vacant seat in McLaren. "It's no secret that the seat at McLaren-Mercedes is by far the most coveted there is," said the younger Schumacher. "Every driver out there in the market would love to sit in their super car," the German added.

Other drivers who have been linked with the McLaren seat are Heikki Kovalainen, Nico Rosberg, and Adrian Sutil. Kovalainen of Renault is one of the younger drivers who have upstaged their much seasoned teammates. Last season, Kovalainen outperformed Giancarlo Fisichella in almost every race. Renault though is expected not to let Kovalainen go as they would try to team him up with Alonso next season.

Nico Rosberg, the son of former world champion Keke Rosberg, is making his tour of duty for Williams. He is seen to be a great complement to Lewis Hamilton as they are both young and talented drivers. Williams though has issued a warning to McLaren saying that Rosberg is not for sales as he is the future of the team. Adrian Sutil, on the other hand, has a contract with Spyker which has been bought by Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya. Sutil has been Hamilton's teammate in the GP2 Series and will be a good teammate for Hamilton. But Spyker's new owner has expressed his desire to retain Sutil for next season.

As to Schumacher's declaration, McLaren is yet to comment. Even McLaren's engine partner has yet to make a statement regarding the vacant seat in the Woking-based team.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007, posted by Auto Rider at 7:14 PM

The said vehicle is greener than gas-electric hybrid vehicles as it is designed to run on hydrogen fuel which does not emit greenhouse gases. In connection with the unveiling of the FCX Clarity, Honda also announced that their Home Energy Station IV is already being used on their R&D facility in Torrance, California. Said unit is designed to provide fuel for hydrogen–powered vehicles such as the FCX Clarity. In addition, the said experimental device also provides electricity and heating for home use.

The said Home Energy Station is the fourth-generation of the mentioned technology and has been made more compact and efficient. With its compact construction, it will take up less space than its previous versions. According to Honda, the newest device is also less costly than previous units.

Hydrogen fueled vehicles are being seen as the vehicles of a greener future as it does not produce any greenhouse gases. Unlike hybrid vehicles which still produce carbon dioxide since they still burn petroleum fuel, hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles only produce water vapor as its emission. But in order for hydrogen-powered vehicles to be mass produced and used widely, car manufacturers should bring down its cost of production. Another issue being faced by this technology is the availability of refilling stations offering hydrogen fuel.

With the Home Energy Station, refilling hydrogen-powered vehicles is no longer a problem as consumers can easily refill their hydrogen car's tanks in their own homes. The said technology does not only cut down greenhouse gas production via automobiles but also through the power grid. Electricity is sometimes produced by burning petroleum fuel, but with the Home Energy Station, consumers can produce electricity for their home using hydrogen as fuel.

Tomiji Sugimoto, the vice president of Honda Research and Development Americas, had this to say: "Honda is striving to address the need for a refueling infrastructure for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The Home Energy Station represents one promising solution to this issue, while offering the added benefit of heating and powering the home more efficiently."

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Friday, November 16, 2007, posted by Auto Rider at 8:43 PM

Kamui Kobayashi will replace France's Franck Montagny as Toyota's test and reserve driver next season, the Formula One team said on Friday. After his final test in Barcelona, Montagny said farewell to the Toyota team.

The 21-year-old Japanese has been backed by Toyota since 2001 as part of the company’s young driver programme. Kobayashi is a product of Toyota’s TDP scheme which is aimed at honing young drivers.

"He (Kobayashi) tested the car last winter and showed he had the potential to drive in Formula One in the future," said Toyota head honcho Tadashi Yamashina.

The Japanese auto giant is still seeking a replacement for Germany's Ralf Schumacher, who left at the end of the season last month, alongside Italian Jarno Trulli in their 2008 race lineup.

Kobayashi has competed in the Formula 3 Euro Series for the past two seasons, finishing fourth in the championship in 2007 with one race win, and had his first F1 test with Toyota last December, divulged iTV.

“The TDP scheme has been very supportive of me during my career and I am very grateful for all that support,” he said. “This is a great challenge for me and I am very excited about becoming a Formula 1 driver. Since the start of my career I have dreamed of reaching Formula 1 and to have the chance to join Panasonic Toyota Racing as third driver is a fantastic opportunity for me.”

“My first tests for the team last winter went well but I still have things to learn about Formula 1 and it will be a great experience for me to test more regularly for the team. The role of third driver is very important as I will be helping a lot with the development of the car throughout the year. I am sure I will learn a lot about Formula 1 cars and hopefully this will help me in my future career but for now I am focused on helping the team move forward,” the Japanese driver concluded.

“I am very pleased to welcome Kamui to the team. He tested the car last winter and showed he had the potential to drive in Formula 1 in the future. Now, after another season gaining experience in Formula 3, we believe he is ready for the challenge of Formula 1. It is also very gratifying to see the TDP scheme delivering results and helping a promising young driver to reach Formula 1,” added Yamashina.

Additionally, another Japanese driver to have emerged from the TDP, Kazuki Nakajima, and he will be racing for Toyota-powered Williams in 2008.

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, posted by Auto Rider at 6:36 PM

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently named the thirty-four 2008 model year vehicles which were given their highest safety rating. Called the Top Safety Pick award, the system is developed to name the best vehicles in the market in terms of protecting its occupants in the unfortunate event of a crash. The IIHS tests vehicles for their adequacy in protecting motorists during, frontal, side, and rear crashes. Vehicles should be rated highly at the said tests before they could be given the Top Safety Pick award.

"For 2008, consumers have the widest selection of vehicles they've ever had that afford the best protection in the most common kinds of crashes," said Adrian Lund, the president of the IIHS. Since safety is one of the major concerns of auto buyers, the Top Safety Pick rating will help them in their decision of which new vehicle to buy.

Lund pointed out that an ESC can be of great help to keep motorists away from accidents. "Vehicles should be designed to provide good occupant protection when crashes occur, but now with ESC we have the possibility of preventing many crashes altogether," he said. "If all vehicles were equipped with ESC, as many as 10,000 fatal crashes could be avoided each year."

ESC comes in various names as automakers have different names for this system. Chevrolet vehicles with StabiliTrak are actually equipped with ESC. StabiliTrak is Chevrolet’s name for the ESC. For Nissan, it goes by the name of Vehicle Dynamic Control. Ford calls it the Advance Trac with Roll Stability Control or RSC.

Some of the vehicles included in the list are the Honda Accord, Audi A3, Subaru Impreza, BMW X5, Toyota Highlander, Toyota Tundra, Ford Taurus, and the Volvo XC90.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007, posted by Auto Rider at 10:32 PM

After the successful launch of the new XF in Frankfurt, Jaguar Cars will be introducing the car at the 9th Middle East International Motor Show. The motor show will be held from the 14th to the 18th of November at the World Trade Centre in Dubai.

The Jaguar XF marks a new milestone for the luxury arm of the Ford Motor Co. The car flaunts the fusion of style, safety, ergonomics, sophistication and performance of a sports car.

“At the last Middle East International Motor Show, we showcased the new XK and XKR - the vehicle demonstrated that Jaguar knows how to design and build contemporary, modern sports cars. And now, with the all-new XF we are showing that Jaguar also knows how to design and build Beautiful Fast sporting saloons,” said Andy Gawthorpe, the Managing Director of Jaguar Middle East.

“The Middle East International Motor Show is the perfect platform for Jaguar to showcase the new XF to an audience that appreciates vehicles that offer luxury, beauty, style and exhilarating performance,” added Gawthorpe.

The new XF will arrive in the Middle East in April 2008. The car is equipped with different engine variants: 4.2 V8 and 3.0 liter V6 and (natural or supercharged variants), all featuring Jaguar's six-speed automatic transmission and steering wheel-mounted 'paddles' for manual gear selection (Jaguar Sequential Shift). This is the first time Jaguar is using the class-leading sequential shift system - used for the first time in a saloon.

The most exciting feature of the Swedish automaker’s new pride is the transmission control dubbed the JaguarDrive SelectorTM - an industry-first rotary shift interface that combines accurate, intuitive control with space-saving packaging. This is done to maximize the interior storage options.

“We are confident that the Jaguar XF will appeal immensely to the discerning Middle East customer,” Gawthorpe concluded. And experts in the industry said that confidence is well anchored.

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, posted by Auto Rider at 6:02 PM

Japanese automaker Toyota for one recently unveiled the 2008 version of the full size SUV Sequoia at the 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show. The said vehicle has been redesigned completely by the automaker for the 2008 model year.

Part of the changes made to the Sequoia is its new body, the new configuration inside and a new chassis. The all-new 8-passenger 2008 Toyota Sequoia will be available with a 5.7-liter V8 engine coupled to a six-speed transmission. The pairing of the V8 and the six-speed transmission is made to give the Sequoia better fuel efficiency while not sacrificing performance.

The Sequoia was first introduced in 2000. Through the years, the SUV was made more and more fuel efficient as the price of gasoline increases and the threat of global warming is also on the rise. For the 2008 model year, engineers at Toyota has made it their mission to create the most fuel efficient Sequoia.

The engine and transmission of the Sequoia is not the only aspect of the SUV which has been given a lot of thought by the automaker. Ride comfort is still of great importance and engineers of the Japanese automaker has designed a new platform for the SUV. The new chassis of the Sequoia allows for independent suspension both in the rear and up front. This suspension setting makes the Sequoia more balanced. The chassis is also made even tougher giving the Sequoia a towing capacity of 10,000 pounds which is one of the highest in its class.

With the Sequoia, Toyota has proven that they not only produce small cars like the Corolla and the Camry but they also create large vehicles. The Tundra was made bigger last year to move Toyota closer to American auto buyers who are still interested in light trucks. The unveiling of the 2008 Toyota Sequoia shows that the automaker is committed to challenging the Big Three when it comes to the development and manufacturing of SUVs and light trucks. The automaker's large vehicles are more attractive to American consumers because of Toyota's reputation for manufacturing reliable vehicles.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007, posted by Auto Rider at 8:00 PM

For the first time, a woman has won the MediaCorp Radio Subaru Impreza Challenge. And Sandra Yeow is the name behind that valiant woman.

Yeow was declared Tuesday the ultimate winner after she kept her hand on the car for 77 hours and 13 minutes, Channel NewsAsia reported. That sets a new record for the event. To note, the record is over an hour longer than the male winner, Kevin Lee.

Abdul Hamid Jonid thought he had won the men's challenge 73 hours and 55 minutes after the competition had started. But his joy was short-lived.

Dahlia Z, the Assistant Vice-President for English Programming, MediaCorp Radio, has this to say: "The last two... usually it's pretty crucial and contestants are irrational, they have not had that much sleep and one of the contestants had clenched his fist so he was disqualified, but he thought he had won so he lifted up his hands in glee." But Hamid's family could not be more proud of him, for remaining as the final two.

The last man standing, however, was 30-year-old Kevin Lee. He won the Brand New Subaru Impreza 1.5R, worth $58,000. But he was aspiring for the fancier car - the MI Rally Team version. He faced tough competition from the remaining women.

The prior record of 74 hours and 59 minutes was set by the 2004 winner Ian Lee. That was conked out at 4 in the afternoon when there were still three women and one man left in the competition. After 76 hours, Kevin Lee threw in the towel to claim his car, leaving the three women to battle it out.

Ian Lee said that the worst moment came at the 42nd hour. He said, "In fact I cried, I cried and cried but after that, I pulled out from that... I went to the lowest bottom out then managed to bounce back."

Finally, after 77 hours and 13 minutes, the ultimate winner was named – the 25-year-old Sandra Yeow, winning for herself the MI Rally Team version of the Brand New Subaru Impreza 1.5R, worth $68,000. This was Yeow's third attempt at the challenge.

After spending four days and three nights outdoors, she has just one thing on her mind. She said, "To go home and bathe because houseflies seem to like me a lot right now, so I guess I need to go home and change and bathe and be clean again."

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007, posted by Auto Rider at 10:35 PM

The past Formula One season has been a roller coaster ride for the Woking-based McLaren team. At the start of the season, they have been dominated by Ferrari at the Australian Grand Prix. But rookie Lewis Hamilton showed the world that McLaren is still one of the top teams in the sport.

After the departure of the double-world time champion, much melee regarding the drivers has erupted. But McLaren announced that they will be taking their time in naming their new driver for the 2008 season.

Martin Whitmarsh, the team's Chief Executive, said: "Until the second McLaren drive is sorted out I don't think you'll see much movement (in the driver market), so we're not really hurried." Although there have been no reports as to who the team is favoring right now, one driver will not be included on the list.

Ralf Schumacher who left Toyota after the season is said to have expressed his interest in joining McLaren, a team which has been the foremost rival of Ferrari, his brother's long-time home in Formula One. Dennis reportedly told Schumacher's manger that Ralf will not be on the list of drivers to be considered by the team.

Meanwhile, Hamilton named three drivers who may be on the top of the list and they are Nico Rosberg, Adrian Sutil, and Heikki Kovalainen. But he added that he will stand by the decision of his team. "I'm really not bothered who I am racing with,' said Hamilton. "It's another team decision and I stick by them whoever they choose. I'm very happy I've got one seat. I get to stay and do what I love doing."

Hamilton said that he wishes his former teammate the best in his career. "I wish Fernando the best for the future and really hope wherever he goes he is successful," said Hamilton. "But I'm going to be there competing against him and I look forward to the battle. I welcome whoever is going to be with us and look forward to the challenge. I hope they work as hard as me to take the team to the championship," he concluded.

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