Monday newsbriefs

June 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

Schoolkids have built a car that’ll do 1980mpg, or the equivalent thereof. Yes, really. Kingdown School from Warminster took victory in this year’s Mileage Marathon Challenge at Mallory Park, Cambridgeshire, with their streamlined vehicle. Also noted is the 1325mpg car driven by 11-year-old Kitty Foster from King’s School, Ely, though this car (pictured, as I can’t find a decent copyright-free shot of the winning car) was built with help from the professional Cambridge Design Partnership, complete with trackside telemetry and GPS to get the best out of the microdiesel engine with oxygen generator. 

  • BMW’s M3 CRT made its debut at the Nurburgring last weekend; this 450bhp V8-engined racer is, quite apart from being very quick, the first car to feature carbonfibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) made in a new production process. CFRP has been used, in a super-strong cellular carbon structure, for its bonnet and seats to give a weight saving of up to 50% compared to conventional carbonfibre, and will next be used to make the bodyshells of the upcoming i3 and i8 electric and hybrid vehicles. The basic carbonfibre-threaded material is woven into ‘mats’, impregnated with synthetic resin and then hardened; all cuttings and waste from the process can be reused. With the M3 CRT’s seats, the CFRP layers are wrapped around a honeycomb of recycled paper and a layer of carbon.
  • Continuing last week’s aviation theme: from September, Royal Dutch KLM is to start operating 200 flights between Amsterdam and Paris using biokerosene synthesised from waste cooking oil. Full story at Green Car Congress.
  • More on Mazda’s new laser-ignition rotary engine at Autocar. It’s up to 1600cc, and part-aluminium; the laser-controlled combustion (instead of spark plugs) enables more precise monitoring of the fuel-air mixture and thus improved efficiency, lower emissions and better torque delivery, it’s reported.
  • Autocar also has spy shots of the revised Renault Twingo, coming later this year – but the real story’s the all-new 2014 model. This will be smaller, a sister model to a reborn Smart Forfour (Daimler did the deal with Renault-Nissan this time) and will feature a new 900cc three-cylinder engine (to be used extensively in the Renault-Nissan line-up). Expect all-electric versions, too.
  • Americans marvel at tram use and pedestrianisation in Europe’s cities: a rather charming just-woken-up report in today’s New York Times.
  • Meanwhile down in Nevada, the state has authorised the use of automated driverless cars on its roads. Only in clearly defined areas and with appropriate certification, however, before you get worried about robo-cars prowling the highways like zombies. It’s all in aid of ongoing research, such as the DARPA work on drones for military use.

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