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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.


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Volvo to test flywheel technology

A light, cost-efficient and eco-friendly flywheel system that makes a four-cylinder engine feel like a six-cylinder but also reduces fuel consumption by up to 20% has been developed by Volvo.

The Swedish OEM has confirmed that by the end of the third quarter of this year, it plans to fully test the potential of its new flywheel technology on public roads – making it one of the first car makers in the world to do so, having received a grant of over US$1 million from the Swedish Energy Agency for developing next-generation technology for kinetic recovery of braking energy in a joint project together with Volvo Powertrain and SKF.

"Our aim is to develop a complete system for kinetic energy recovery. Tests in a Volvo car will get under way in the second half of 2011. This technology has the potential for reducing fuel consumption by up to 20%. What is more, it gives the driver an extra horsepower boost, giving a four-cylinder engine acceleration like a six-cylinder unit," said Derek Crabb, vice president of powertrain engineering for Volvo Cars.

The new system is fitted to the rear axle. During retardation, the braking energy causes the flywheel to spin at up to 60,000revs per minute. When the car starts moving off again, the flywheel's rotation is transferred to the rear wheels via a specially designed transmission.

The combustion engine that drives the front wheels is switched off as soon as braking begins. The energy in the flywheel can be used to accelerate the vehicle when it is time to move off, or to power the vehicle once it reaches cruising speed.

"The flywheel's stored energy is sufficient to power the car for short periods. However, this has a major impact on fuel consumption. Our calculations indicate that the combustion engine will be able to be turned off about half the time when driving according to the official New European Driving Cycle," explained Crabb.

Since the flywheel is activated by braking and the duration of the energy storage - that is to say the length of time the flywheel spins - is limited, the technology is at its most effective during driving featuring repeated stops and starts. In other words, the fuel savings will be greatest when driving in busy urban traffic as well as during active driving.

If the energy in the flywheel is combined with the combustion engine's full capacity, it will give the car an extra boost of 80 horsepower, and thanks to the swift torque build-up this translates into rapid acceleration, cutting 0 to 62 mph figures significantly.

The flywheel that Volvo Car Corporation will use in its test car is made of carbon fibre. It weighs about 6kg and has a diameter of 20cm. The carbon fibre wheel spins in a vacuum to minimise frictional losses.

"We are not the first manufacturer to test flywheel technology. But nobody else has applied it to the rear axle of a car fitted with a combustion engine driving the front wheels. If the tests and technical development go as planned, we expect cars with flywheel technology to reach the showrooms within a few years," added Derek Crabb. He concludes: "The flywheel technology is relatively cheap. It can be used in a much larger volume of our cars than top-of-the-line technology such as the plug-in hybrid. This means that it has potential to play a major role in our CO2-cutting DRIVe Towards Zero strategy."

 

2 June 2011


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