Where there’s supercars, there’s high-tech
Geneva is the auto show of choice for a 1-percenter hedge fund manager to find an ostentatious car on which to blow his or her latest bonus check. And because ultra-fancy cars generate the profit margins needed to fund bleeding-edge auto-industry innovations, it’s cars like these where you first see the latest, coolest technologies appearing. Here are five we spotted on the floor this week.
More from our Geneva coverage:
- Best Cars of the 2017 Geneva Motor Show: Motor Trend Favorites
- 5 Obscure Supercars From the 2017 Geneva Motor Show
Micro-turbine Hybrids: Pininfarina Hybrid Kinetic H600 & Techrules Ren
Turbines turned out to be lousy car engines when several automakers tried them out in the ‘60s, but they can serve as excellent generators. In that capacity they can operate at a constant, optimized speed, and because it’s possible to transfer heat from the exhaust to the incoming charge air and recover that energy that would otherwise be lost, they’re reasonably efficient and clean when spinning at their “sweet spot” speed. The number of moving parts is drastically lower than in a piston engine simple, and turbines require minimal maintenance or cooling.
Jaguar proposed a range-extended hybrid turbine in its fetching 2010 C-X75 concept supercar, but nothing came of it. This year’s Geneva show had one concept and one prototype that both featured a series-hybrid powertrain utilizing a micro-turbine generator. Pininfarina’s four-door luxury sedan concept was built in conjunction with the Hybrid Kinetic Group, a Hong Kong-based firm involved in the development, manufacturing, and marketing of new energy vehicles and the key components and systems that drive them. It features a 60-kW (80-hp) turbine that achieves 40 percent thermal efficiency and only requires maintenance every 10,000 hours (if you average just 20 mph, that’s 200,000 miles). The prototype hails from Chinese automotive R&D company Techrules. Its TREV (Turbine-Recharging Electric Vehicle) supercar solution also employs a large battery that gets topped up as necessary using a micro turbine. The one on display in Geneva produced 30 kW (40 hp), but an 80 kW (107-hp) unit is also promised. Total vehicle range with such systems can be truly impressive. Techrules says 21.1 gallons of diesel will last for 727 miles. The chassis on display was tested at Monza the week before Geneva, and the design is being readied for production, so this concept looks pretty certain to see the light of day.
Smart Connected Tires
Now that we have refrigerators that can order milk for us when we’re running low, nobody should be surprised that tires will soon be able to notify you via cell phone when they suffer a puncture or slow leak, and/or help you schedule repair or maintenance. This new generation of smart tire will also be able to monitor tire wear and schedule maintenance and replacement. This helps maximize vehicle uptime for fleets today, and in tomorrow’s autonomous ride-sharing world, it’ll help vehicles maintain themselves. It is also possible for smart connected tires to inform the cloud and warn other motorists about things such as puncture-risk hazards.
Goodyear IntelliGrip features a sensor mounted to the inside of the tire tread that directly measures actual pressure and temperature (some such readings with today’s tire-pressure monitoring systems provide inferred values). These sensors also compute information about tire wear and the available friction of the road surface. All of this information is communicated with the car and the cloud. The sensor is powered by a piezo-electric generator (a piezo crystal gets compressed every time the sensor gets deflected as that part of the tire hits the ground, squeezing out a few electrons). Goodyear has equipped some cars in the California-based semi-autonomous Tesla car-sharing service Tesloop with this technology to gauge its usefulness in fleet management.
Pirelli Connesso also features a sensor glued inside the tread of a tire, though a battery designed to outlive the tire powers the sensor. It communicates via Bluetooth technology. Pirelli fleshes the idea out a bit more with smartphone apps that can keep you apprised of your tires’ actual instantaneous temperatures and pressures (presented on a graph showing low, normal, and high ranges) and estimate each tire’s wear based on temperature and usage data compelled over time. Sadly, because this sensor is not monitoring the actual tread depth, this system will not be able to show you real-time tread loss during a prolonged Hellcat burnout. Of course, the system will first become available on premium refined vehicles favored by the set that doesn’t do burnouts, buying Pirelli valuable time to develop that crucial feature.
Goodyear Eagle 360 Urban Spherical Tire
Goodyear returned with an Urban update on last year’s wild and crazy Eagle 360 spherical future tire. It adds artificial intelligence and a transformable bionic skin capable of adapting the tread surface to wet or dry conditions. Dimples get sucked up into the sphere in the wet, then pressed back down for greater rubber coverage when the road dries out. Such tires would have to be nonpneumatic, supported by foam or some other flexible internal structure. Naturally it is also chock-full of sensors to monitor its own condition, to perceive the road conditions, and to warn drivers (and probably disable the vehicle) if it has been loaded beyond what the tire structure can support. The bionic skin is made of a super-elastic polymer that can expand, and contract, and possibly even heal itself in certain situations. As before, at its center is a permanent magnet setup that provides magnetic levitation of the body over the tire and receives the electrical signals that make it turn, both when delivering power and while steering the vehicle. We eagerly await the opportunity to try out a prototype of this concept, but no such thing is available yet.
Pirelli Color Tires
The latest fashion craze in bespoke vehicle accessorizing might be colored sidewalls, or so hopes Pirelli. The company managed to outfit many production and concept vehicles in Geneva with its new line of color tires. They come in four standard colors (red, white, yellow, and silver) but can also be ordered to match any of the 3,000 Pantone shades—for a bit more money. Unlike the good old whitewall days, when the color was baked into the sidewall and then exposed by carving off an outer layer of black, these stripes are applied to the finished tire in three layers. There’s an adhesion layer, a color layer, and a clear protection layer. Sadly, that top layer doesn’t put up much of a fight against curb-rash, though Pirelli talks about a cosmetic repair kit to dress up scratched color sidewalls. Better to buy curb feelers or avoid parallel parking. This concept is rolling out first on P Zero, P Zero Corsa, and Sottozero winter tires, and they can be ordered by navigating to www.shop.pirelli.com and finding your vehicle. This way the tires are guaranteed to match the original-equipment specifications. Sorry, for now they’re only available to fit fairly high-end cars, and—like Scandinavian speeding fines—the pricing is based on your ability to pay (as inferred by the vehicle’s sticker price). To wit: tires in one of the standard colors for a Porsche 718 Cayman cost $1,840 for a set; for a Lamborghini Aventador, $4,980. That’s a premium of $742 for the Porsche, $3,692 for the Lambo relative to Tirerack pricing for P Zeros. But then, what price fashion?
Brembo ECS aluminum calipers
The fetching and feathery aluminum Alpine A110 that made its debut in Geneva sports world-first technology in its rear brake calipers. For one thing, it’s an entirely aluminum design, whereas most aluminum calipers still use an iron mounting bracket. Next, the electric parking brake and hydraulic single-cylinder service brake are integrated into one, with an electric screwjack motor serving to move the piston in parking/emergency brake actuation. Together, this saves 5.5 pounds across the rear axle. But wait, there’s more: The system is intelligent enough to monitor itself and reclamp if necessary in cases where a parking brake is set while the brakes are very hot and there’s risk of slippage as the brakes start to cool and deform. Brembo also supplies the four-piston monobloc front calipers, but they break no new technical ground.
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Coachbuilder crafts a sleek electrified four-door
Pininfarina used the 2017 Geneva auto show to debut two concepts, the H600, a luxury sedan concept designed for Hybrid Kinetic Group, and the Fittipaldi EF7 Vision Gran Turismo, a bespoke track car built for Indy 500 champion Emerson Fittipaldi.
The H600 is the first vehicle study to come out of Pininfarina’s partnership with China-based Hybrid Kinetic Group, which required a luxury vehicle that featured an elegant exterior and a lounge-inspired cabin that caters to rear-seat passengers. To make the interior more luxurious, Pininfarina used natural leather, wood veneer on the seat shells and the floor, a clock mounted on the center of the dashboard, and copper contrast stitching to go with the cocoa brown upholstery.
Powering the H600 Concept is a hybrid powertrain comprised of a micro turbine range extender, battery and electric motors developed by Hybrid Kinetic Group. In total, the H600’s powertrain generates about 600 kW or roughly 804 hp. As for range, the H600 can travel up to 1,000 km or around 621 miles with the range extender. All-wheel drive is standard and comes with a torque vectoring system. Pininfarina says that the H600 can do 0-62 mph in 2.9 seconds.
In addition to the H600, Pinifarina also unveiled the Fittipaldi EF7 Vision Gran Turismo concept that features an all carbon fiber structure. A 600-hp 4.8-liter naturally aspirated V-8 coupled powers the EF7 Vision Gran Turismo, routing thrust to the rear wheels through a six-speed sequential transmission and two-way mechanical limited-slip differential. The car is a concept commissioned by Indy 500 champion Emerson Fittipaldi as a way to fulfill his dream of creating a track-capable vehicle. The one-off car was built by German race car maker HWA, but will also be available digitally in the Gran Turismo video game series on PlayStation.
Project Hero’s drone can land even when SUV is moving
The SUV was conceived and built by Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division in collaboration with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The show car represents Land Rover and the Red Cross’ vision for a future rescue vehicle, capable of searching from the air thanks to a special rescue drone.
The drone is mounted on the roof and has a landing system that integrates self-centering and magnetic retention technology that enables it to land on the Discovery while it’s in motion. The concept will be tested by the Austrian Red Cross’ emergency response teams. The drone is controlled via a tablet app, and transmits live footage to the team, allowing them to get a close-up view of an avalanche, landslide, or earthquake from a safe distance. The hope is that the drone will help speed up disaster response time and save lives.
In addition to its drone-launching capabilities, the Project Hero features a 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline-six engine, removable cargo floor for extra storage, a panel behind the rear seats with mounting points for equipment, LED lighting, power outlets that accept multiple plug types, and a multi-frequency radio system. The vehicle will serve with the Austrian Red Cross first at its training center in Erzberg, then in the mountains near the Eisenerz mining area, and finally in Vienna. The Red Cross will test Project Hero for 12 months starting in June.
Source: Land Rover