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Mercedes-Benz unveils its revamped G-Class


The all-new G-Class makes its public debut at the Detroit auto show in G550 form. Completely redeveloped and fitted with a 4.0-liter V8 biturbo gasoline engine offering 427ps and 450 lb-ft of torque at 2,000rpm to 4,750rpm, despite near-identical looks to its predecessor plenty has changed for the Mercedes-Benz SUV.

Ford’s F150 pickup gets its first diesel motor


Developed by the powertrain team behind the 6.7-liter Power Stroke engine for super duty trucks, the all-new 3.0-liter V6 Power Stroke unit promises 250ps, 440 lb-ft of torque, and an anticipated 5175kg of towing capacity.

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In light of Fisker's solid-state battery breakthrough and claims of a one minute charge time, will this electric vehicle technology development kick-start mass BEV uptake? 


European hybrids to get new acoustic materials

3M has announced it plans to bring lightweight acoustic materials, designed to make hybrid vehicles more refined, to Europe. Having worked closely with manufacturers on some of the world’s most successful hybrid programmes, including Toyota’s Prius and Auris and the Honda CR-Z, 3M plans to apply its expertise to other vehicles via its recently-formed European Automotive Acoustics Group.

Abs Master, who heads up the group, says: “The early-adopters buying these cars expect hybrids to provide an efficient, premium driving experience with superior refinement. Balancing the weight and performance of the car’s acoustic package is a fine art and requires lightweight materials optimised to manage the higher range of frequencies.”

Specially developed versions of 3M’s Thinsulatematerial can absorb the higher frequency sounds produced by hybrid vehicles’ electric motors and transmissions. The material is lightweight and, because it is compact and compressible, packaging and assembly is straightforward.

3M says it could be particularly useful for the growing number of European model programmes based on platforms originally conceived without a hybrid version in mind. The pressure to reduce CO2 emissions is making hybrid powertrains more attractive to carmakers and customers alike.

Master adds: “Buyers expect premium acoustic quality. Adding an electric motor generates new higher-frequency noises that require changes to a vehicle’s acoustic package. Instead of adding heavy sound-deadening materials, Japan’s leading hybrid manufacturers have used specially developed grades of Thinsulate as a lightweight and cost-effective solution. We expect 3M’s approach to receive growing interest from European manufacturers.”

Automotive applications of Thinsulate have been rising steadily in recent years with manufacturers using the specialist material to reduce mass in door panels, headliners, wheel wells, pillars and instrument panels. Thinsulate replaces some of the cumbersome mixed-fibre shoddy mats, foams and absorbers, cutting the weight of some acoustic material parts by up to 40% and saving several kilos.


9 December 2010


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