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2014 cars boast engineering innovations

11 Dec 2013

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The Motor Press Guild (MPG) kicked off this year's LA Auto show by awarding the Innovative Vehicle of the Year (IVY) Awards, which was divided into two categories: one for cars that retail under and one for $29,000 or over. Nominees had to have vehicles already in production design, meaning concept cars and prototypes are disqualified.

This year's IVY winners, as selected by the 750 members of the MPG, were the 2014 Mazda 3 in the under-$29,000 category, and the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray in the $29,000-and-over category. The vehicles were evaluated and judged based on overall innovation, technology/engineering, safety, environmental impact, and price/affordability/ value.

Both of these cars are traditional gasoline-powered vehicles. The advances in engine and transmission technology increased their gas mileage, and both cars have a long list of connectivity and in-cabin infotainment features.

Several vehicles showcased the new direction of hybrid cars. The common perception of plug-in hybrids is that they are small commuter cars that are optimised for functionality rather than performance. Tesla is trying to break down this wall by optimising performance in an all-electric vehicle.

Two new players are expected to be market game changers: the 2015 BMW i8 and the Porsche 918 Spyder.

2014 cars boast engineering innovations

The BMW i series is their innovation line. The new i8 that has moved from a concept car just 2 years ago to a 2015 production date is a four-wheel drive, mixed power plant car with a twin turbo engine driving the rear wheels and an electric motor driving the front wheels. This allows the car to achieve a 0-60 mph time of 4.4 seconds and fuel economy of up to 94mpg.

The two-seater sports car features scissor lift doors and a large hatchback to access the rear wheel power twin turbo engine. The car has a six-speed automatic transmission to transfer power to the rear wheels and a two-speed automatic for the electric motor to the front wheels. This configuration allows for five driving modes including Sport, Eco Pro, and Comfort in hybrid mode and Eco Pro and Comfort in all electric mode.

Porsche's 918 Spyder is a plug-in hybrid from a race track background. The four-wheel drive car boasts a 0-60 mph time of 2.8 s and a top speed of 211 mph. The performance is from a front- and mid-engine design once again with front-wheel dual permanent-magnet AC synchronous electric motors, which output up to 154 hp; and a rear-wheel-drive DOHC 32-valve 4.6l V-8, 608 hp naturally aspirated (note—non turbo), which provides 391 lb-ft of torque. This combination produces a combined power rating of 887 hp.

2014 cars boast engineering innovations

The electric power plant is driven by a 6.8-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. This configuration allows the car to achieve a 71mpg European fuel rating. The direction of the 918 is where style and performance are keys to drive innovation, not just gas mileage.

...more Automotive Innovation

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