Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Lessons from CESA 2012

This second edition of CESA congress has been successful, with a large audience and top experts coming from BMW, PSA, Volkswagen, Bosch, Continental, NXP, Valeo and so many others. Through technical sessions, no less than eight round tables and an attractive exhibition, the congress has kept its promises.
But, what did we learn so far, after such intense discussions ?
First, electrication of the powertrain is really launched. In the future, we should see more mild hybrid, full hybrid and plug in hybrids, and later on pure EVs.
The second point is linked to the first one. Many OEMS and tier 1 suppliers converge on 48 volt, and not only in Germany.
Third, the architecture of the future will be for sure mainly based on Ethenet. It's not the only solution, however, and the automotive industry should find ways to simplify E/E architecture, instead of adding more and more embedded networks.
Fourth, if the connected car is on the way with apps and cloud-based services, nobody knows who will win at the end, between the OEMs, third party players, telecom carriers and giants such as Apple and Google.
Fifth, the automotive industry should work with new partners. The success of Autolib' in Paris, which celebrates its first birthday and which is the largest EV car sharing experience in the world, with nearly 2000 cars running in the streets, is there to show that it's possible to adress customers, even when you're outside of  this business.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The car of the future stops at CESA congress

Beside the round tables and technical sessions, CESA congress is an opportunity to discover high tech companies and nice vehicles. For instance, Renault is showcasing the famous Zoe. This first EV designed from scratch, which will be launched soon, illustrates the French know how in the field of electro mobility, as well as the VELV, an amazing concept from PSA Peugeot Citroen and also electric. It looks like a three wheeler, but it has four wheels. In the alleys of the exhibition, we also have seen an electric quad. It’s a demonstrator, from Bertrandt company, a german supplier expert of electric components.

Our favorite is however the connected and clean motorbike from NXP. On the basis of the a Zero motorcycle, the semiconductors company as added an NFC connection to start the engine with a smartphone, as well as emergency call and even digital radio.
Cleaner, safer and fully connected, here is the car of the future.

See the diaporama :

Monday, December 3, 2012

CESA conference : is there still a driver in the car ?

For this day 1 of CESA congress in Paris, one round table should be very popular. It's the one about autonomous cars with driving assistance systems. Many experts from PSA, Volkswagen, Bosch, Freescale, LAB (common safety lab to PSA and Renault), STMicroelectronics and TRW will discuss the evolution of ADAS.
As some OEMs (Mercedes, Volvo) announce traffic jam assistant systems and remote control in parking lots (BYD in China), in addition to innovations becoming mainstream (LDW, ACC, emergency braking), the question is : will the technology allow the car drive by itself in the future ?
The answer may be yes, but it's not only a technical issue. So, that's why you should attend to CESA 2012 and listen to top experts. For instance, Volkswagen will mention is expertise, thanks to its ERL (Electronics Research Lab) located in the Silicon Valley) with Google as a neighbour.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Automotive Smart Grid : Next generation Vehicle Architecture

CESA 2012 abstract

Automobile system is made of sensors and actuators that have to work in harmony in complex interactions. It can be seen as a networked energy grid that has to distribute energy in an ordered way so that vehicle functions are assured. This new vision, called ASG (Automotive Smart Grid), has been developed and prototyped.
The ASG solutions is based on synchronous parallel processing and distributed intelligence. Each ECU hosts part of, or, the whole functional process in relation to local sensors & actuators. It deals with instant power management functions in relation to its connected actuators. The data communication and exchange between ECUs is done real-time via PLC (Power Line Communication). The ASG implementation has been tested both in labs and on the road within the frame of the YO-mobile Russian project.
This paper will present the ASG solution and its physical architecture. It will explain and discuss the benefits obtained from this « True Mechatronics » architecture, as well as cost figures.

Presented by Philippe Briot (B&A) and Finprom (company from Russia).

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Telewatt : an innovative way to recharge EVs with public lighting

During CESA congress, at the energy management round table, the french agency for energy (Ademe) will present R&D projects on charging infrastructure.
One of them is called Telewatt project. It's one of the most innovative, because the puropose is to offer juice coming from the public lighting. It's an answer to the difficulty to build charging stations in the streets. Located in the south of France, in Aix-en-Provence, this project is led by Citelum company. The project is based on a global information system, as well as plug & play plugs (with IP identification to allow acess to users) and a smartphone application.
The Telewatt project, and six others, will be presented by Patrick Coroller from Ademe in a keynote speech.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Power distribution solutions towards more efficiency

CESA 2012 abstract

The well established 12V automotive power distribution system is facing some major changes. The main drivers for these changes are better energy efficiency and CO2-reduction. 12V Start-stop and 48V Mild-Hybrid solutions are seen as enablers for better efficiency.
With the innovative 12V start-stop functions, there are two new upcoming challenges to be solved, powernet stabilization and increased activation cycles.
The presentation will show semiconductor solutions for powernet stabilization, like dual battery switches, as well as solutions for replacing mechanical relays. Special interest is here also given to electronic fuse function, weight reduction by improved wire harness and a more flexible power distribution partitioning, as well as a reduction of electric power losses.
Finally the presentation will cover the 48V powernet requirements for semiconductors in Mild-Hybrid systems. Different system architectures will be discussed with their specific application needs and first 48V semiconductor families like MOSFETs, driver ICs, Voltage regulators and transceiver devices will be proposed.

By Dr. Alfons Graf, Principal System Architect for Body Electronic at Infineon.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Trends and Innovations in Safety Domain Architecture

CESA 2012 abstract
Since years the demand for Driver Assistant Systems is continuously growing. Forward looking camera and radar applications are gaining popularity. Not only in the luxury car segment, but also in mid end car segments and migrating further into low end cars. In addition the merge of active and passive safety applications towards cognitive safety is progressing rapidly, supported by upcoming changes in the safety rating of cars. Additional radar and camera sensors are going to be equipped around the car for side and rear looking applications migrating towards 360 degree environmental sensing. Taking advanced development programs at vehicle manufacturer into consideration first semi autonomous driving applications can be expected within this decade.
All these trends will lead to a change in the safety electronic architecture.

More and more sensor data need to be processed, data fusion has to be done on a much higher level and software functions to align and arbitrate chassis actuators need to be integrated. Furthermore, vehicle manufacturer have identified DAS function software as an important vehicle brand related selling point and started to develop this SW on their own, which has to be integrated by tier 1 supplier as black box or gray box SW.
Beside these new electronic systems, which are entering the car, we will see a lot of new technologies enabling the way towards cognitive safety. Safety systems are going to have open, Autosar based SW architectures according to ISO26262, need to support various network communications like CAN, FlexRay and in the next step Ethernet and have to provide very flexible and scalable micro processor architecture.
While flexibility and scalability do have in general an impact on the cost of the electronic systems - standard safety systems with high fitment rates are meanwhile much cost driven - a simple integration of the above mentioned functions and technologies would lead to a not acceptable cost burden in standard systems. Safety domain controller which acts as flexible, open integration hubs being additionally equipped to the car as optional electronic systems, hosting DAS or vehicle dynamic functions are ideal solutions to follow the rapidly changing market as long as above mentioned market requirements are linked to fitment rates below 30-40%. With such a controller the functions can be integrated and added very easily by allowing the standard electronic systems to stay cost optimized. TRW has developed a safety domain controller which enables the integration of a number of chassis, safety and DAS control functions. Using open, ISO262626 compliant Autosar architecture, the Saftey Domain ECU (SDE) has the flexibility to include software from vehicle manufacturers and third party suppliers and its first generation is scheduled for launch in 2013.
For its second generation SDE, TRW is exploring the application and benefits of Ethernet as a network technology – offering considerably higher data throughput speeds than current communication protocols.

By Dr. Hans-Gerd Krekels, Global Director Technology Strategy & Core Electronics, TRW Automotive

Monday, November 26, 2012

Developing embedded user experiences - challenges and success factors in automotive environment.

CESA 2012 abstract

Automotive product development is based on proven processes and development time that allows carmakers to respond to drivers needs in regards to quality, feature availability and look and feel of the device in the car.
When talking about user experience, driver’s expectations are influenced by consumer electronic devices, from interaction point of view (speech and/or gesture recognition) as well as content (graphic attractiveness, apps). Drivers are expecting the same seamless, simple, easy to use phone and tablet features in their car, while still requiring automotive quality in term of system stability, low driver distraction and updateability during automotive life-time.
With over a decade of experience in developing multimodal HMI, EB GUIDE – industry recognized HMI development products suite and speech dialog platform - has been proved reliable in more than a million vehicles on the road and in the upcoming year more vehicles will come to market using the EB GUIDE HMI technology.
During the presentation, you will learn about market trends in HMI, the market interest for a modelbased approach, quick UI simulation for user-acceptance evaluation, how to easily enable early and agile development, as well as integrating latest technologies to handle gesture/speech recognition and graphics challenges into the vehicle.

By Bruno Abou, director Elektrobit France SAS

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Join the CESA Congress VIP Business Tour

In partnership with the SIA, the Paris Region Economic Development Agency is organising the CESA Congress VIP Business Tour of 3 of the Paris region's most innovative locations for new mobility. The tour is scheduled on Monday, December 3rd.
Here is the agenda :
- 11.30 am to 1 pm : Welcome lunch at Paris Charles-de-Gaulle Airport.
- 2 pm to 3.15 pm : Visit of the Autolib operational centre.
Autolib is the first public-private service plan with more than 1,700 electric vehicles to be developed in a large European metropolis. It enables Paris Region inhabitants to rent electric cars for a few hours from interactive terminals located in the streets. Thanks to the VIP Business Tour, you will have the unique opportunity to visit Autolib's hub in Vaucresson and to experiment the electric Blue cars !
- 3.45 pm to 4.45 pm : Visit of the command post of the recently completed A86 motorway tunnel.
This location demonstrates how an information technology software system is used to manage France’s largest road tunnel.
- 5.15 pm to 6.15 pm: Discover the INRIA Research Centre in Rocquencourt. INRIA is a public research organization, dedicated to science and digital technologies. Its experts will present you their research on the autonomous vehicle with demonstrations of autonomous driving cars.
- 7.30 pm: Evening buffet with the CESA operational committee in central Paris.

Link :

Friday, November 23, 2012

The thermal management of electrified vehicles

CESA abstract

When running on pure electric mode, electrified vehicles offer a very efficient energy conversion. Less than 3 kW in average is needed to drive an EV over an urban cruise. Consequently, the management of additional power demands of thermal functions, e.g. the cooling or the heating of the vehicle passenger cabin, or that of battery and power electronics, has a major impact on the overall vehicle power balance. A new system approach for thermal management, combining an innovative architecture, dedicated technologies and relevant control strategy, becomes decisive to offer a significant cruising range, secure the battery life time and also ensure quick engine response.
Within the scope of Vega/Thop, a cooperative project including six partners (Valeo, Renault, Saint Gobain Sekurit, Hutchinson, INSA/Cethil, LINC) funded by Ademe, a new thermal architecture was designed, prototyped and tested on benches and lab cars in order to assess the potential of such innovative thermal concept.

This paper outlines the main challenges and the outputs of this project:
- the review of thermal needs, with a focus on the passenger cabin requirements for comfort, and their associated impact on vehicle performances at system level;
- the way to drastically reduce the cabin thermal needs with same perceived comfort, combining cabin treatment, advanced air management and alternative comfort strategy;
- the setting up of a new thermal architecture that combines heat networking, recovery and storage capabilities, looking for synergies between thermal needs and heat losses so as to minimize consumption.
- the implementation of a heat pump to leverage “free” low temperature heat sources, such as ambient air or internal heat inertia and losses
- the benefit of a transient control strategy, in order to manage different operating modes and related “ramp up” or cycling phases, according to the vehicle usage profile.
As a conclusion, typical power savings compared to current serial EV will be presented on different scenarii, based on the results from tests campaigns and simulations analyses.

By Daniel Neveu (R&D program manager, Valeo Thermal Systems) and Osoko Shonda (Innovation Project Leader, Renault).

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Individual E-Mobility Solutions for Automotive and Off-Highway Applications – A System View by Bosch

CESA 2012 abstract
Only a couple of years ago there were many doubts on a possible implementation and realization of hybrid and electric vehicles as an alternative for vehicles with an ICE powertrain.
Today we are in the position to see this differently. “The future automotive powertrain will be electric” is a prognosis of Bosch. The conversion of the powertrain to be electric assisted or become all electric was pushed through significant development effort over the last couple of years.
Today we see the hybrid technology being used in many different platforms of almost any OEM and the first all electric vehicles are available from series production. But the electric powertrain is not only revolutionizing the automotive industry.
At Bosch Engineering we are getting more and more requests for hybrid and electric powertrain solutions for off-highway applications. This includes for example fork lift trucks, municipal multi-purpose carriers, and also marine applications. These applications could benefit from the system and sub-system development efforts for automotive solutions and from the mature and high quality of powertrain components.

For any application it is important to make sure, that the requirements and the duty cycle are well understood and that the system, sub-system and the components are very well fitted together for their individual usage. High efficiency plays an important role, especially for the electric powertrain, since energy storage systems are still very cost effective. High performance simulation tools are used to support the effort of finding an overall optimized solution. Safe and environmental friendly solutions are a must for Bosch. However cost, efficiency, function, weight and packaging are also important requirements. Often, the first system development solution found is not the best to meet all these criteria. Iterations have to be made using simulation tools and measurements in order to find out what is best for each individual system layout.
What has to be kept in mind: “The optimum of each subsystem and component is not necessarily the overall optimum of the entire system“.

By Heiko Weller, Bosch.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Hurricane Sandy vs Collector Cars

Ok, first it's Hurricane Sandy, not Super Storm Sandy. No matter how you slice it, it was still a hurricane that rocked the east coast of the U.S. in October. And the one thing that drives any car guy crazy is to see vehicular damage. We cringed at a photo floating around facebook that was also the cover shot of Automotive News magazine last week of a fleet of Ford Crown Victorias and a few Transit Connect taxis sitting in a lot flooded with water. Turns out they were brand new cars sitting at a Ford owned dealership in Manhattan. So it turns out not only were they Crown Vics, they were some of the LAST Crown Vics built.

From our friends over at Hemmings comes these photos snapped by a reader of two Aston Martins that weren't so lucky last month. Makes you want to cry.

See all the photos here.

Source & Photos: Hemmings Blog

Sunday, November 11, 2012

High performance magnets: which properties? which prospects?

CESA 2012 abstract
High performance permanent magnets are a vital component of today’s clean energy technologies (e.g. hybrid vehicles, wind turbines) as well as many consumer appliances and accessories. The recent pricing pressure on the raw materials of rare earth based magnets, owing to the near monopoly of Chinese production of rare earth metals, has driven renewed interest in the study of permanent magnets.
In this paper we will recall the fundamentals of permanent magnetism, and outline the essential link between extrinsic properties and microstructure. We will describe the evolution in the properties of permanent magnets over the last century, linking the spectacular improvements achieved with the discovery of new phases and the development of improved processing.
We will explain the present dependence on the use of heavy rare earth elements such as Dy and Tb, in the production of Nd-Fe-B based magnets suitable for operation at the relatively high working temperatures of the motors and generators used in clean energy conversion (below 180°C).
We will discuss prospects for the development of heavy rare earth free Nd-Fe-B magnets, based on recent results from literature, and our own work on model thick film structures.
Finally, we will outline expected future developments of both rare earth containing and rare earth free high performance permanent magnets.

By Dr. Nora Dempsey, CNRS Grenoble.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The exhibition almost completed at CESA 2012

CESA 2012 will also be the opportunity to showcase the know how of french and european companies, in the field of electronics.

Here is the list :

Advancy, Applus IDIADA, Bertrandt, Continental, dSPACE, ESG Group, Henkel, IPG, MathWorks, Methodpark, NXP Semiconductors, Robert Bosch, STMicroelectronics, TE Connectivity and Vector.

Last but not least - Advantage Austria will be there too with high tech companies.
If you want to be there too, please hurry : there is only one booth left.

PSA Peugeot Citroën and Renault will present outside demo vehicles.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Suzuki files for Chapter 11 protection, no more U.S. car sales

What can I say. I saw this train wreck happening 2 years ago. American Suzuki Motor Corporation announced late this afternoon that it was filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. According to their press release, this is being done in order to realign the company to focus more towards their motorcycle, ATV, and marine operations.

As part of the wind down operations, ASMC will discontinue all U.S. automobile sales. However, unlike Saab's bankruptcy, all warranties will be honored for owners. Suzuki, states that "low sales volumes, a limited number of models in its line-up, unfavorable foreign exchange rates, the high costs associated with growing and maintaining an automotive distribution system in the continental U.S. and the disproportionally high and increasing costs associated with stringent state and federal regulatory requirements unique to the U.S. market." as the reasoning behind their decisions. I am curious as to why it has taken them this long to reach that decision as their sales performance has been slipping for the last several years. Their marketing was at times puzzling, comparing the Kizashi against cars like the Mercedes C class and Audi A4.

As we receive more details about Suzuki, we'll keep you updated here. 

Source: American Suzuki Motor Corporation.

Press release:

American Suzuki Motor Corporation ("ASMC") Announces Restructuring and Realignment to Focus on Motorcycles/ATV and Marine Divisions

ASMC to wind down and discontinue new automobile sales in continental U.S.
Consumers will be protected and all warranties will continue to be fully honored

BREA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- American Suzuki Motor Corporation ("ASMC" or "the Company"), the sole distributor in the continental United States of Suzuki Motor Corporation ("SMC") automobiles, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and marine outboard engines, today announced that it plans to realign its business to focus on the long-term growth of its Motorcycles/ATV and Marine divisions. Following a thorough review of its current position and future opportunities in the U.S. automotive market, ASMC will wind down and discontinue new automobile sales in the continental U.S. The Company has determined the best path to achieve this realignment in an efficient and orderly manner is to restructure its operations under chapter 11. The case will be filed in the United States Bankruptcy Court, Central District of California in Santa Ana.

Consistent with ASMC's long history of standing by its products, owners of Suzuki automobiles will be protected. All warranties will continue to be fully honored and automobile parts and service will be provided to consumers without interruption through ASMC's parts and service dealer network.

ASMC remains firmly committed to Motorcycles/ATV and Marine products, and these divisions are competitively positioned in their respective markets, allowing for long-term growth as economic conditions improve. The realignment is intended to better position ASMC for long-term success and is a return to the Company's roots in the U.S. market, which began with motorcycles and has grown to include ATV and marine products. ASMC remains very proud of its high quality, high performance motorcycle, ATV and Marine products. The Company will continue to bring ASMC products to market, including its full lineup of sportbike, cruiser, touring, scooter, dualsport, motocross, off-road motorcycles and KingQuad ATV line, as well as its flagship DF300AP, state-of-the-art DF20A, and DF15A, among other models. Additionally, ASMC is working to further build its market share through continued investment in additional support for dealers through marketing and advertising activities and sales promotion. Suzuki will continue to have a strong presence as a sponsor of teams in supercross, outdoor motocross and road racing.

In evaluating its position in the highly regulated and competitive U.S. automotive industry, ASMC determined that its Automotive division was facing a number of serious challenges. These challenges include low sales volumes, a limited number of models in its line-up, unfavorable foreign exchange rates, the high costs associated with growing and maintaining an automotive distribution system in the continental U.S. and the disproportionally high and increasing costs associated with stringent state and federal regulatory requirements unique to the U.S. market. While the decision to discontinue new automobile sales in the U.S. was difficult to make, today's actions were inevitable under these circumstances. ASMC is dedicated to honoring its commitments to Automotive customers through and after the wind down of new automobile sales in the continental U.S.

An Orderly Process to Serve Consumers
ASMC intends to work within its current U.S. Automotive dealer network to help structure a smooth transition from new automobile sales to exclusively parts and service operations, or, in some instances, an orderly wind down of dealership operations. ASMC intends to market and sell its remaining U.S. automobile inventory through its Automotive dealer network. Through and after the restructuring, all warranties will be fully honored and automobile parts and services will be provided to consumers through the dealer network. ASMC intends to honor any automobile buyback agreements that are currently in place with financial institutions.

As part of its chapter 11 filings, ASMC will submit a proposed Plan of Reorganization and Disclosure Statement that specifies how the Motorcycle, ATV and Marine divisions will be maintained and enhanced, and how its relationship with Automotive dealers will be largely transitioned to support consumers and dealers through continued parts and service operations. SMC or its nominee intends to purchase ASMC's Motorcycle, ATV and Marine businesses, as well as the Automotive service operation responsible for parts and warranties, through a new U.S. subsidiary that will retain the ASMC brand name.

ASMC believes it has sufficient cash on hand to operate its businesses during the restructuring. If necessary, ASMC will request permission from the Court to borrow additional funds from SMC needed during the restructuring.

Honoring Commitments
ASMC intends to operate its Motorcycles/ATV and Marine businesses as usual and is dedicated to completing the realignment process as smoothly and efficiently as possible. ASMC will continue to fully stand behind all of its products and honor all warranties from these divisions. ASMC is working with GE Capital's Retail Finance and Commercial Distribution Finance businesses to continue providing motorcycles and ATV consumer financing programs and motorcycle, ATV and marine dealer inventory financing respectively. The Company expects existing agreements with other dealer and consumer financing providers to continue as well.

ASMC has filed a series of first day motions requesting approval to continue paying employee wages and benefits in the ordinary course, offering dealer incentives and payments under customer warranties. ASMC also expects to pay vendors in the normal course of business for goods and services delivered on or after its November 5, 2012 filing. Payments for goods received before ASMC's November 5, 2012 filing will be made in accordance with the chapter 11 procedure.

SMC, the 100 percent interest holder in ASMC, is not a debtor in the chapter 11 filing.

ASMC's legal advisor on the restructuring is Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones LLP, and its financial advisor is FTI Consulting, Inc. Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP is serving as special counsel on automobile dealer and industry issues. Further, ASMC has proposed the appointment of M. Freddie Reiss, Senior Managing Director at FTI Consulting, as Chief Restructuring Officer, and has also added two independent Board members to assist it through this period.

Additional information regarding ASMC's business realignment can be found at the Company's website,, or via an information hotline at 1-877-465-4819.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Faurecia will talk about the smart seat at CESA 2012

CESA 2012 abstract
Many comfort functions can be embedded in an automotive seat. These include basic postural comfort (cushion length, height, and tilt), advanced comfort (lumbar support, headrest adjustment, shoulder adjustment), climatic management (heating and ventilation), and wellness features (e.g. customized massage therapies or dynamic adjustments according to occupant status or to driving conditions). All those functions represent a huge amount of possible combinations of configurations and command executions, while they are not at all customizable along the time by the users (generally, just a few have programmable fixed alternatives by default).
In order to reduce the complexity of seat control for the end-user, and enable the possibility of customization, Faurecia has developed a new concept for automated seat adjustment, positioning and comfort features settings that takes out the guesswork to properly adjust the seat, while providing the end-user a powerful tool to personalize its comfort.
Utilizing a smartphone application, the SmartFit™ system automatically adjusts the vehicle’s seat wirelessly via Bluetooth, creating the ideal fit and position for each occupant. The system also allows the seat to be updated and enhanced over its lifetime. In order to control these new functions, the seat E/E system (HW/SW) has to be modular and connected to fit with customers’ expectations, and to be able to integrate future features and functions.

By Dr. Ignacio Alvarez, Seat Electronics Director at Faurecia.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

It's a Jeep thing: Jeep climbs U.S. border fence

If there's one four wheel drive I have always had a soft spot for, it was the Jeep Cherokee. My family had many of them during my childhood, so of course I liked them. So imagine my surprise when I logged on to MSN this morning and I saw this picture. Now what exactly is going on here? According to the short article, two Mexican suspected smugglers were attempting to drive, yes drive their cherokee over the 14 foot high border fence between Arizona and California.

Using some pretty creative homemade ramps, they abandoned the effort when the jeep got stuck. Hmmmm I wonder why that would happen? When agents spotted the Jeep, two men were on the Mexican side attempting to free it, but ran away. Nothing was found inside, but the U.S. border patrol is guessing the Jeep was being used to smuggle marijuana.

Source: MSN, photos: AP Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix makes record donation

30 years, two charities, 1200+ volunteers. What does that equal? Over $3.2 million dollars. That is what the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix has donated to the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and the Allegheny Valley School. Just last week was the annual Victory Lap Check Presentation at the Frick Museum in Pittsburgh (don't take photographs here). This year was a record setting donation to the charities. $250,000 or $125,000 each.

Since 1983, the PVGP has grown from a single day car show and race to a 10 day motorsport festival consisting of two vintage race weekends, car shows, cruises, parades, and parties. The event is entirely driven by over 1200+ volunteers, some of whom are pictured here. and all proceeds benefit the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and the Allegheny Valley School. Both of which help to provide residential care, treatment and support for developmentally disabled individuals in the Pittsburgh area.

The PVGP stands as one of the largest motorsport festivals in the nation, and the oldest continually run in the nation. It also stands apart as the racing is held entirely on public streets, bringing American sports car racing back to the way it used to be. “This event continues to amaze me” said Executive Director Dan DelBianco. He added, “To hold 10 days of events and turn a city park into a race circuit is a huge undertaking. There is no admission fee for spectators at the Schenley Park Race Weekend and the cost of staging the events is quite challenging so it is truly astounding that this event generates a quarter of a million dollars for local charities. Our success can be credited to the incredible support of our volunteers, sponsors and city officials coupled with the generosity of our racers and spectators. The Grand Prix now encompasses a dozen events spread over 10 days and nearly every single event is either sold out or near capacity.”

Source: Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix. 

Racing Legend John Fitch dead at 95

It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of racing legend John Fitch. How do you summarize John Cooper Fitch? He was a decorated WWII air corps pilot and POW, Purple Heart medal winner, SCCA and LeMans champion, team manager, racing and auto safety pioneer. These titles all apply.

John Fitch was born on August 4th, 1917 and from an early age was introduced to car racing. He was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. His stepfather was an executive for Stuz and introduced him to racing, but he was not initially impressed with it. It wasn't until he returned from WWII that he fell in to car racing as many did. During the war, Fitch was a decorated pilot in the Army Air Corps who was shot down and captured by German troops and locked in a POW camp.

After the war he began racing cars, only sports car racing rather than the typical oval track racing he witnessed at Indy. And Fitch was good, better yet great. During the early 50s, Fitch raced for driver and car designer Briggs Cunningham. He later became the only American to race for Mercedes Benz in their racing efforts. In 1955, the crash at the 24 Hours of LeMans greatly affected Fitch. He would go on to develop the Fitch Inertial Crash Barrier. Yellow barrels filled with sand that are still seen on racetracks and highways to this day.

After Mercedes, Fitch was approached by Chevrolet to help develop and manage their Corvette racing efforts and to make the Corvette a true race car. The eventually led to Fitch driving a Corvette at LeMans in 1960, and winning with co-driver Bob Grossman. Fitch would retire from professional driving in 1966. However, he did do some further driving for others, including a failed attempt at a land speed record in a 300 SL gullwing Mercedes owned by Bob Sirna. He was also re-united with his LeMans winning 1960 Corvette at LeMans in 2010. That car is now owned by Lance Miller, a friend of ours and owner of Carlisle Events.

Fitch had a great passion for inventing and a prime example were the Fitch Barriers mentioned above. He also developed many performance and appearance products for the Chevrolet Corvair. And there was the Fitch Phoenix, a Corvair bassed sports car.

Even until earlier this year, Fitch was a staple at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut. Where he also had served as manager.

God Speed John Fitch. You will be greatly missed.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Spotted: Cadillac ELR!

It's not too often here in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania that we get the opportunity to see a new car from Detroit being tested in full camo. In Michigan, especially around Detroit it's even a rare sight. But today one of our readers spotted what has been confirmed as a Cadillac ELR being tested. What is the ELR? Well, it's going to be Cadillac's electric hybrid like the Volt. Based on the Cadillac Converj concept. And mechanically, it's going to be essentially the same as the Volt. "T" shaped lithium ion battery with full electric main drive and an extended range gasoline motor. A big Thanks to eagle eyed reader Kevin Kurtz for snapping these shots.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Officially licensed: 1940 Ford coupes

Want to build your dream 1940 Ford coupe hot rod, but don't want to feel guilty about cutting up an original '40 Ford? Well now you can build your dream rod thanks to Dennis Carpenter Ford Restoration Parts. Just in time for SEMA, Ford will display a bare metal body and a hot rod built using the new preproduction body. The bodies can be bought fairly reasonably at about $12,000. Which is not bad when compared with finding, buying, shipping, and then repairing an original body. 
The 1940 Ford is just one of many classic cars gaining the support and blessings of their original manufacturer for a full reproduction. It joins the classic 1932 Ford and 1964-1970 Mustangs. I've also included a picture of an all original '40 Deluxe Coupe spotted in Hershey.
Source: Ford Motor Co. 
Press release:
DEARBORN, Mich., Oct. 26, 2012 – One of the most cherished and collected classic cars of the pre-World War II and hot rod era – the iconic 1940 Ford Coupe – is the latest addition to Ford Motor Company’s growing stable of officially licensed all-steel reproduction car bodies.
Available now for ordering, and complementing the 1965-70 Mustang bodies, the 1940 Ford Coupe body is also constructed of modern, high-strength steel and is assembled using modern welding techniques. The new body comes rustproofed from the factory and is ready to be assembled as a custom hot rod or as a faithful tribute to the original.

At the upcoming Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas, Ford will display a custom 1940 Ford hot rod built using a reproduction body and a new bare body shell that demonstrates the high-quality construction. Prices start at $11,900 plus shipping. The full body shell as well as individual steel panels are available through Dennis Carpenter Ford Restoration Parts,
The fully built, copper-colored SEMA show car sports a new 5.0-liter V8 engine, four-speed automatic transmission and Mustang II front suspension. The roof has also been chopped or lowered to give the car an even meaner look.
“Like its older 1932 Deuce Coupe and younger Mustang siblings, the 1940 Ford is a bodystyle and design that represents Ford at its best,” said Dennis Mondrach, Ford Restoration Parts licensing manager. “The 1940 Ford Coupe has always been highly sought after and collectible. Unfortunately, good, solid restorable examples have become hard to find and expensive, so this faithful reproduction is bound to prove popular.”
The ’40 Ford: Part of American culture
The 1940 Ford has had a major influence on post-World War II America, said Detroit automotive historian Joe Cabadas, author of “’40 Ford: Evolution * Design * Racing * Hot Rodding.”
“Bootleggers down south always wanted to know who had the fastest car,” said Cabadas. “Because of its lightweight V8 engine, they started racing them on Sundays, and that is the beginning of stock car racing.”
After World War II, the 1940 Ford was at the forefront of another major cultural movement – hot rodding. The ’40 Ford got noticed by World War II veterans, who began buying up the cars and turning them into hot rods by adding performance equipment to the car’s flathead V8 engine.
The 1940 Ford has been a fixture in Hollywood, appearing in countless TV shows and movies such as “American Graffiti,” “Bugsy” and “Mulholland Drive.”
“With their big fenders and integrated headlights, the 1937-40 Ford was one of the first streamlined cars from Ford Motor Company,” Cabadas said. “Edsel Ford had a hand in its style. He wanted a family look for Ford and Lincoln vehicles, and so you can see some Lincoln Zephyr in it. The 1940 was also one of the few cars in its price class with a V8.”
Reproduction body: A blank canvas
Hobbyists looking to build a hot rod using the new 1940 body are limited only by their imagination and budget. The new body is available with a stock firewall that accommodates the original flathead V8. However, for those looking for greater performance from a modern powertrain, the new 1940 Ford body can alternatively be ordered with a recessed firewall that will allow much larger modern engines to be installed.
As with the officially licensed reproduction parts available for the 1965-70 Mustang bodies, Ford also supports the 1940 Ford with an array of correct mechanical and trim restoration parts. To see what is available for the 1940, visit
Dennis Carpenter, owner of one of the nation’s largest classic Ford restoration parts companies, owes his start in the business more than 40 years ago to the 1940 Ford.
Carpenter was having trouble locating a good used set of dash knobs for a car he was restoring – and still owns – so he approached Ford and obtained permission to reproduce the knobs using original factory blueprints and designs. Today his company, Dennis Carpenter Ford Restoration Parts, produces many Ford-licensed parts for the 1940 Ford. With the body now back in production, Carpenter is gearing up to add even more trim parts for the car.
“When you see a beautifully restored 1940 Ford, it is like a piece of jewelry,” Carpenter said. “People just really love the lines of that car. It is timeless and appeals to all ages.”
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About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 168,000 employees and about 65 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit

2012 AACA Hershey Fall Meet

If you're in to cars, especially antique and classics. Then you've likely heard of the Antique Automobile Club of America's annual Eastern Fall Meet in Hershey, Pa. Or better known just as Hershey. I've attended the fall meet several times, and one thing that I can say is be prepared. I visited for two days, and that isn't enough. In order to take in everything, you need all four days of the event in order to see it all. It doesn't matter what your passion is. You can find here. Looking for headlights for your brass era classic? Got em. Owners manual for your 63 Ford Falcon? Check. Tires for your hot rod? How many you need? How about a new toy for the garage? There were cars for sale from $2,000 to $400,000.

I spent all of Friday cruising the swap meet and the car corral and found some awesome buys. How about a 1960 Rambler. Completely restored, ready to go with low miles. It could be yours for $9,000 o.b.o. You couldn't even restore this car for that money. I also found a 1973 Ford Gran Torino 4 door. 73k miles, all original paint except for one door. This one was turn key and ready to cruise for $3,995. 1936 Chevrolet sedan, $14,000 o.b.o. How about a 1913 Hupmobile for $34k? I also found a 1953 Nash Healey for the bargain price of $195,000 o.b.o. 1939 Packard, $195,000. 1938 Lincoln V-12 Convertible, $237,500. This is just some of the cars available for sale. And this doesn't include the auction that RM Auctions has put on for the last few years.

In the swap meet, there are literally thousands upon thousands of swap vendors. Selling everything from parts to project cars, toys and literature, cleaning supplies, tools, garage art, clothes, you need it, it's likely you can find it here. The swap meet tends to be a car show in itself as many vendors have cars on display that are either shown on Saturday or are for sale. While walking around we were able to see an early Stanley Steamer chugging around and also spotted a Volkswagen Kubelwagen. I will say that AACA really has this down when it comes to organizing a swap meet. Every area of it is paved, as it's held in the parking lot of Hershey Park and the Giant Center. So along with being paved, it's almost entirely flat making it easy for walking around and for carts and scooters to get around. I brought my trusty wagon with me (that was given to me by my parents when I was young), but decided to leave it in the car as it was cold and windy. So that limited me on my purchases of what I could carry with me. So with that I stuck with paper items and small toys for my expansive VW memorabilia collection.

Friday morning I awoke to sunny skies, but still a little chilly. I paid a visit to the AACA museum just a few miles from the meet to take in their fantastic display. Afterwards I headed back to Hershey Park for the car show part of the fall meet, and again amazed myself as a Hershey veteran. There were 38 classes listed in the event program, but it's nearly tripled due to sub classes. Meaning that there are classes for say, production cars 1957-1958 (excluding chevrolets), followed by a sub class for just 57 and 58 Chevrolet cars. And then within that class, there's probably 50 cars. So that should give you an idea of the shear size of the car show. There's classes for military vehicles, commercial trucks, buses, fire engines, race cars and everything in between. I ended up disappointing myself in not bringing additional memory cards with me for my camera as I ended up filling the car full at 1231 pictures.

I've broken down all the photos I took in to sub albums that can be found here, Enjoy!

Austria comes to Paris for CESA 2012 : discover the full list of exhibitors

At CESA 2012, visitors will have the opportunity to discover an austrian pavilion. For the first time in Paris, Austrian companies will showcase their cutting-edge technology and high-quality products in the field of automotive electronics.

Here is the list of the exhibitors :
- ACstyria Autocluster GmbH (Automotive Industry, Space & Rail Systems, Innovations) - Adopt SMT Europe GmbH (Tools, Spare and Wear Parts)
- AIT Austrian Institute of Technology - Mobility Department (Development Center for electric drives : modelling, simulation, prototyping, testing, validation)
- AVL List GmbH (Electrical engineering and electronics, Automotive Industries)
- EGSTON Automotive Eggenburg GmbH (Automotive Solutions, Cable Systems, Power Supplies)
- Gebauer & Griller Kabelwerke GesmbH (Components and parts, Cables, wires, battery harnesses, customer specific cable development)
- Kiska GmbH (Brand Consultancy, Digital&Corporate Design, Innovation)
- Magna International Europe (Design, engineering, testing and manufacture of automotive interior systems metal body & chassis systems, exterior systems, electronic systems, powertrain systems as well as complete vehicle engineering and assembly)
- Magna Steyr Fahrzeugtechnik AG & Co KG (Vehicle Engineering & Contract, Manufacturing, Roof Systems & Fuel Systems)
- NextSense Mess-und Prüfsysteme GmbH (Surface Inspection and Measuring)
- Obrist Engineering GmbH (Vehicle Fuel Cell Engineering, Vapor Systems)
- Voestalpine Stahl GmbH (Steel, Metal Engineering and Metal Forming)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Valeo presents next generation automated parking at ITS Vienna

While the system on the market offers parking space detection and automatic steering with the driver operating the pedals and gears, Valeo is already preparing the next generation.
Maybe some of you remember the Park4U Remote application (World Premiere at 2011 IAA show, Frankfurt) that demonstrated a fully-automatic parking keeping the control via a smartphone.
But you can seen an even more impressive demo at Vienna.

Valeo steals the show at the ITS World Congress with Valet Park4U. In this case, the driver can now even leave the car at the entrance of the parking lot letting the car finding a suitable space and parking itself.

Of course, the driver is keeping the control via his/her Smartphone.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Vienna welcomes a smarter world with the ITS Congress

With 300 exhibitors, the 19th ITS World Congress will be the pre-eminent international exhibition on devices, technologies and services related to intelligent transport systems, from 22 to 26 October in Vienna.
Under the motto "Smarter on the way", the exhibition at this year's ITS World Congress will bring together all of the important players in the field of intelligent transport systems. The exhibition will show the huge amount of potential there is for improving our everyday lives by implementing ITS systems. The exhibitors will cover all aspects of transport systems: from complex information and communication systems and increasingly advanced navigation and payment systems to security, ecology and electromobility.
About 40 Austrian* companies will show their products and services at the stand of ITS Austria (E10). For example, together with the Vienna Transport Authority, Telereal will show its "multi-sensual" sign system, a new type of info point for people with hearing, visual or physical impairments. IPTE will present a "virtual" game fence: These wildlife warning systems can be installed along stretches of road that are particularly at risk. They recognise when vehicles are approaching and warn wild animals using light signals and ultra-high-frequency sounds. Innovametall will show an all-in-one infrastructure solution for electromobility called Safetydock - a locker system with an integrated charging station. ITS Vienna Region (Austria, E10) will show an intermodal traffic service for eastern Austria that integrates current traffic data into route planning and also plans bicycle and walking routes. Further exhibitors at the ITS Austria stand include BMVIT, AustriaTech, AIT - Austrian Institute of Technology, ÖBB, and ASFINAG.

*Let's remind that CESA 2012 will welcome an austrian pavilion.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Safety features at Paris Motor Show

Connected and electrified cars have made the show in Paris during two weeks, but new models displayed at the "Mondial de l'Automobile" had also some impressive safety features.
If you consider for instance the new A-Class from Mercedes, this car offers numerous driving assistance systems, from drowsiness detection with Attention Assist to proximity control with Distronic Plus. These assistance systems, which until now were reserved for higher vehicle segments, are based on state-of-the-art radar, camera and sensor technology. The Collision Prevention Assist system gives a visual and audible warning to alert a possibly distracted driver to identified obstacles, and prepares Brake Assist for the most precise braking response possible. This innovative solution aims to provide protection against typical rear-end collisions in hazardous driving situations at speeds above 30 km/h.

The new Golf from Volkswagen contains also a lot of innovations for a compact car. The german OEM has put in this model the adaptive cruise control system ACC plus Front Assist including the City Emergency Braking function, Lane Assist lane-keeping assistant, fatigue detection, traffic sign detection and the latest generation of the ParkAssist park steering assistant(including warning for obstacles in the vehicle’s surroundings with 360-degree display) as well as the automated light functions Light Assist and Dynamic Light Assist. An innovative new feature is the Golf’s multicollision brake system, which automatically brakes the vehicle when it is involved in an accident in order to significantly reduce its residual kinetic energy.

At Volvo, safety matters too. Adding several new high-tech features to a full deck of safety and support systems from larger models makes the all-new Volvo V40 the most intelligent and safe car in the segment. New features in all V40 versions, including the Cross Country and R-Design variants, comprise a world-first Pedestrian Airbag Technology, Lane Keeping Aid with haptic auto steering, an ingenious Park Assist Pilot, automatic Road Sign Information, Active High Beam and a Cross Traffic Alert radar system at the rear. The all-new V40 also features the groundbreaking Pedestrian Detection with full auto brake - as well as the City Safety further developed low-speed collision avoidance system which now operates at speeds up to 50 km/h.

To conclude, french technology was displayed with the BiLED projector. This technology features on the full LED headlamps developed by Valeo for the new Ford Mondeo, which was making its world premiere at the Paris Motor Show. Equipped with a shatter resistant plastic lens, the module enables the headlamps to switch instantly from low to high beam. In addition, power use in the low beam position is just 26 watts. The BiLED module will be fitted on other automakers’ premium and mass market vehicles in the near future.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

2012 Glenmoor Gathering

Ok, I don't live under a rock. I've known of the Glenmoor Gathering of Significant Automobiles in nearby Canton, Ohio for several years now. But I might has well been living under a rock as I have never been to the famed concours d' elegance. All I can say is that if you have never been. Plan on going in 2013. This is an event that is a must attend for any car enthusiast. It doesn't matter what you like, there is a little of something for everyone at the Glenmoor Gathering. Set on the grounds of the beautiful Glenmoor Country Club, the Gathering hosts, I would guess around 500+ of the nation's finest collector cars there are to offer. Each year there are themes This year there were four. Supercharged Autos, Trans-Atlantics (European styling/bodies with American power), The cars of Sydney Allard, and lastly (and the one I was most excited for) Tucker.

Now I have seen a handful of Tuckers in my travels as a car guy. But I have never seen a Tucker outside of the security of an indoor museum and barriers. At this year's event there were 9 Tucker's on display. 7 of which were real honest to goodness members of the original 51 Tuckers built in 1948. These cars take on a whole new life when seen outside in the sunlight. Some highlights included a Tucker from the Gilmore Museum in Michigan which is essentially a brand new car. Tucker #47 has only 53 original miles on the odometer, this Tucker is all original with the exception of one tire. It had just enough patina to look like an older restoration, but once you got up close, well there's that originality vibe. Another standout was Tucker # 48 which came from Wisconsin. This car was interesting because of the numerous accessories added to the car which included wire wheels and a large sign on the back alerting motorists that they had just been passed by a Tucker. Also on display was a fiberglass replica used in the production of the 1988 film, Tucker: The man and his dream. This car sits on a Ford LTD chassis and looks the part far away. And the wildest of the bunch, the Rob Ida Concepts, Tucker 48 continuation. We'll do a feature on that car separately.

Moving to the supercharged cars class, we found a stunning 1938 Mercedes 540k, a 1930 Stutz Model M, a 1927 Hudson Super Six which had a interesting similarity to the the famous Bentley 4 1/2 liter. On display in other classes were a 1948 Davis 3 wheeler, and a 1935 Hoffman X8. The later sporting a X8 mid rear mounted motor. This one had many collectors, including Jay Leno confused as to exactly what a Hoffman was as there was only one ever made.

Probably for me as a car guy, the car that caught my fancy was the 1935 Duesenberg Model SJ "Morman Meteor". This is a car that I have only seen via specials on TV, so to see this famed Duesey in person was a real treat. The car was specially commissioned by David "Ab" Jenkins who was a world renowned test driver. Producing over 400 horsepower, the Mormon Meteor was driven by Jenkins to a world record average of  speed of 135.47mph for 24 hours covering 3523 miles at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1935. In 1936, with upgrades Jenkins broke his own record with an average speed of 153.823 mph. In 2007, the car was honored with winning Best of Show at the famous Pebble Beach Concours d' Elegance.

As I said above, I must have been living under a rock to have never gone to the Glenmoor Gathering. Check out our photo album of all the pictures we took.  Glenmoor gallery.