Welcome to the Hooniverse News! This is a weekly recap of some of the biggest stories in the automotive industry without the fluff or the bull. I also throw in a little opinion of mine, just because I can. This week:
Audi teases us with an Ultra-light TT concept
Chevrolet prices the new Corvette Stingrays
GreenTech Automotive has a new electric sedan for America
Chevrolet Spark EV is officially the most efficient American car on sale
Fisker, Department of Energy face scrutiny in Congressional hearing
Audi TT Ultra Quattro Concept
If a lightweight Audi interests you in any way, this will come as great news. Audi has released tons of info about the TT Ultra Quattro Concept, which showcases lightweight materials and construction techniques that they’ve all but confirmed will enter production in the form of limited-run models. One could assume a lightweight TT similar to what you see here is in the works since they’ve already done the hard part, but they aren’t giving specific info about what models to expect yet.
Engineers have gone through virtually every inch of the car to reduce weight, including the Audi Space Frame where 95 lbs. are cut from the car’s body structure, exterior body panels made with carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP) which reduces weight another 126 lbs., and even more CFRP in the roof, b-pillar, center tunnel, and rear end. The addition of the large, functional rear wing doesn’t add too much weight thanks to its carbon construction and milled aluminum support. The weight savings continue inside as well, with fiberglass-reinforced plastic bucket seats from the R8 GT cutting weight by 49 lbs. and a CFRP cross-brace doing something other than taking up the rear seats.
The car’s weight savings continue beneath the body work, thanks to ceramic brake discs with an aluminum fixed caliper, titanium exhaust that ends with a single pipe, fiberglass-reinforced plastic coil springs manufactured through some ridiculously complex method, and the smaller lithium ion starter battery was moved to beneath the driver’s seat to improve balance. The wheels feature a CFRP rim with high-strength aluminum spokes for a weight-loss of 44 lbs. This is more than a simple “remove ALL the things!” kind of car with no creature comforts, as the air conditioning, power windows, and electromechanical parking brake are still intact, thankfully, and they’ve even nixed the conventional rear-view mirror and side mirrors in favor of 3 exterior cameras that project images into the “digital cockpit” that they won’t tell us about.
All in all, these modifications bring the car down to just 2,449 lbs., which makes it 661 lbs. lighter than the lightest TT currently on sale. Throw in a 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder with 310 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque, a 6-speed manual transmission, and the usual Quattro system and you’ve got a car that can go from 0-62 mph in 4.2 seconds and can keep on going till 174 mph.
It’s a bit silly, but it’s the right kind of silly. It will be interesting to see what special models spawn off this.
2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray priced
The latest generation of the Corvette finally has a price tag. $51,995 will get you the entry-level Stingray coupe while the Stingray Convertible demands $56,995.
Those prices reflect a slight increase compared to the outgoing C6, but for the money you get a whole lot more. For starters, you get a new 6.2-liter V8 with 450 horsepower and 450 lb.-ft. of torque, a 7-speed manual transmission, a high-tech digital gauge cluster, a removable carbon fiber roof on the Coupe and a high-quality cloth top on the Convertible, and a Bose 9-speaker audio system.
Optional extras include the 3LT interior package that features a leather-wrapped interior for $8,005, a $2,500 Z51 Performance Package, Magnetic Ride Control for $1,795, dual-mode exhaust for $1,195, and much more. A Stingray Coupe with all the boxes checked will cost $73,360.
The 2014 Corvette Stingray Coupe will arrive in showrooms this September and the Convertible will be a few months behind.
GreenTech Automotive electric sedan in the works
You may not have known about GreenTech Automotive before, but it’s a name worth knowing because the American-based electric vehicle company announced plans for a new 5-passenger electric vehicle for the North American market that’s expected to go on sale later this year. They also announced a strategic partnership with Chinese manufacturer JAC Motors to help make it happen.
JAC Motors will supply GreenTech Automotive with a platform, while GTA finishes it off with their all-electric powertrain, 19kWh battery, and battery management system. Initial factory estimates claim a range of “over” 100 miles per charge with a 6-8 hour charge time from empty. Final assembly of the first 2,000 models will take place at their plant in Horn Lake, Mississippi and then assembly will be moved to a brand new plant in Tunica, Mississippi.
Those who are familiar with GreenTech Automotive will know about their current two-passenger MyCar line, which they intend to produce simultaneously with the new sedan. In fact, the production of 30,000 units over the next three years is in their forecast. Like the MyCar, the new sedan will focus on affordability.
Source: GreenTech Automotive
Chevy Spark EV’s EPA figures
Our readers in California and Oregon are about to be graced with the presence of 119 MPGe. Official EPA estimates are in for the 2014 Chevy Spark EV, Chevy’s newest and most compact EV to date, and they’re pretty tempting. The 119 MPGe figure is a combination of highway and city driving and is more or less equivalent to ratings for internal combustion vehicles to make comparisons easier. The range on a full battery is 82 miles.
When compared to “the average new vehicle”, the Spark EV will save owners roughly $9,000 in fuel costs over 5 years thanks to its 21 kWh lithium ion battery pack, which also has a nice 8 year, 100K mile warranty. The electric motor produces 130 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque, which sounds like an electrifying experience in a car as small and light as the Spark.
Charging takes less than 7 hours from a 240V outlet, though a 120V charge cord set comes standard. However, an industry first DC Fast Charging set will allow one to recharge the battery up to 80% of its capacity in just 20 minutes up to several times per day. That option will be available soon after launch and it’s SAE certified to not catch fire, or something shocking like that. Charging can be managed or monitored from anywhere through the Spark’s smart phone app
Pricing isn’t official, but Chevy is hinting at a price of around $25,000, presumably with tax incentives. The Spark EV will eventually be sold in other regions, but it’s not clear exactly where or when that will happen.
Fisker’s tough Congressional hearing
Things just keep getting worse for Fisker. First, company founder Henrik Fisker resigned with little warning, citing disagreements among top management, and then over 75% of their workforce was cut in a desperate attempt to save money. Now you can add “tough Congressional hearing” to the list, because on Wednesday that’s exactly what they, as well as the Department of Energy, got.
Henrik Fisker, remaining executives at Fisker, and officials within the Department of Energy were all in attendance. Fisker was grilled for being another failed start up like Bricklin and DeLorean despite being approved for a $529 million loan from the DOE, while the DOE was attacked for approving it in the first place. The loan program in question was designed to promote development of more fuel-efficient vehicles and was signed into law by President Bush and was expanded to include Fisker by President Obama.
To their credit, the DOE cut off the loan to Fisker at $192 million after sales and production figures weren’t what they were supposed to be. Almost every other company that benefited from this program is on track to repay the loans, including Tesla. Henrik Fisker maintained that his company [sort of] could still attract a new buyer thus avoiding bankruptcy and carry on with production of the Karma and eventually the Atlantic (pictured above).
Our pals at Autoweek have a more thorough report if you’re interested that includes more testimonies and statements from our elected officials about the matter. And hopefully this will be the last time I have to mention political figures on here… but it probably won’t be.
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