by Dr. Iain Corness
Volvo with chopsticks in 2014
Volvo has announced that China is poised to replace the US as Volvo Car Group’s
(Volvo Cars) largest market in 2014 with sales of at least 80,000 cars, up from
61,146 in 2013, highlighting the company’s growing presence in the world’s
fastest growing automobile market. Sales in the US in 2014 are also expected to
The emergence of China as Volvo Cars’ leading market represents an important
step towards the company’s long term goal of selling 800,000 cars a year and
promises to break a 20 year cycle during which it has consistently sold around
400,000 cars a year. For a company that looked ready for extinction a few years
ago, this is an amazing fight back.
“Growing demand for first-class safety and environmental performance makes Volvo
an ever more attractive brand in the Chinese marketplace,” said Håkan
Samuelsson, President and CEO. “As a company at the forefront of technological
and environmental developments, Volvo Cars is well placed to enhance its
reputation as a premium brand and further strengthen its position in China.”
The premium segment of the car market in China is forecast to grow by 20 percent
this year. Volvo Cars expects to outpace this growth, indicating it is gaining
market share from its competitors. Volvo Cars’ confidence is borne out by first
quarter sales figures for the China market, which reveal sales rose to 17,286
cars, a 25.4 percent increase compared to the first quarter of 2013.
Debut Lexus NX Crossover at Beijing
The world debut of the new Lexus NX was held at the Beijing
motor show and is the first Lexus to enter the fast-growing premium compact
The initial showing of the all-new NX at the Beijing motor show marks the
company’s entry into the fast-growing premium compact crossover market.
The NX will be available with three powertrains, which are designated in the
model name: a highly efficient hybrid in the NX 300h; a new, Lexus-developed
2.0-liter petrol turbo unit in the NX 200t; and naturally aspirated 2.0 liter
petrol engine in the NX 200. Front and all-wheel drive versions will be
available, together with Lexus’ start-stop system. Depending upon the model, the
NX comes with 17" or 18" wheels.
The NX also offers Lexus’ first wireless charging tray for easy charging of
mobile phones and other devices and the first application of a new Lexus Remote
Touch Interface with a touchpad control. Further features include a new
Panoramic View Monitor, a comprehensive multi-information display (incorporating
for the first time a G-sensor and boost meter), head-up display, blind spot
monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
As per the beautiful LFA, the range will include a distinctive F Sport version,
with sportier design and dedicated styling elements, including cosmetic changes
at the front (but they have kept the dreadful ‘spindle’ grille), sports seats
and bespoke interior trims.
The NX 300h uses a sophisticated hybrid system control specially developed for
the model, using the proven Lexus 2.5 liter Atkinson cycle engine, generator,
motor and battery. Total system output is 195 bhp/145 kW.
Features specific to the hybrid NX include sprung-weight damping control to
increase ride comfort and handling stability by reducing pitching when driving
on uneven surfaces.
NX 200t uses the new Lexus 2.0 liter petrol turbo engine, engineered for
excellent fuel economy matched to a six-speed automatic transmission that has
been specially tuned for the NX. Maximum power is 235 bhp/175 kW between 4,800
and 5,600 rpm and maximum torque is 350 Nm, available from 1,650 to 4,000 rpm.
Lexus claims the engine underwent more than one million kilometers of testing
over different road conditions and in harsh driving environments. Its design
features a world-first combination of water-cooled cylinder head, integrated
exhaust manifold and twin-scroll turbocharger.
The automatic transmission uses a new torque-demand control logic, calculating
and maximizing the required engine torque to deliver quick response to throttle
inputs and high fuel efficiency.
The NX 200 has a naturally aspirated 2.0 liter petrol engine with Lexus’
Valvematic technology to achieve high torque through a wider valve opening angle
and an extended variable valve timing operating range.
The unit runs with a high compression ratio and uses diagonal fuel injectors,
optimizing the fuel mixture to produce strong power output across the full rev
range. The engine works with a newly developed, electronically controlled
S-CVT/Multidrive sequential shift transmission.
Safety - the comprehensive safety package includes a new, full-range Panoramic
View Monitor uses the highest resolution camera yet to be fitted to a Lexus,
all-speed Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert, Blind Spot Monitor and
Rear Cross Traffic Alert. New cornering headlamps and a head-up display are also
featured in the range.
The dimensions are:
Overall length 4,630 mm
Overall width: 1,845 mm
Overall height: 1,645 mm (with shark’s fin antenna)
Wheelbase: 2,660 mm
Front track: 1,580 mm (225 mm tyre), 1,570 mm (235 tyre)
Rear track: 1,580 mm (225 mm tyre), 1,570 mm (235 tyre)
Volvo use China Motor Show to unveil S60L Petrol Plug-in Hybrid
Volvo S60L PHEV.
Volvo Car Group (Volvo Cars) revealed the Volvo S60L PPHEV
(Petrol Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) Concept Car at the 2014 Beijing
International Auto Show. The ingenious petrol plug-in hybrid - an electric car,
hybrid car and high-performance car all rolled into one - offers the driver an
outstanding combination of dynamic driving pleasure and superb fuel economy.
The production version of the S60L Petrol Plug-in Hybrid, with an exceptionally
CO2-efficient 238 horsepower Drive-E petrol turbo and plug-in hybrid technology,
will be launched in China early 2015 and will be produced at the Chengdu plant.
As such, the car forms part of Volvo Cars’ plan to contribute to the development
and spread of new automotive technologies in China.
“The creation of a powertrain with 238+68 hp and 350+200 Nm of torque by
combining a petrol turbo from our new four-cylinder Drive-E engine family and an
electric motor proves that the most efficient car can also be the most fun to
drive. This is our most technologically advanced powertrain ever. It brings us
closer to our vision to offer zero-emission motoring in the future,” says Peter
Mertens, Senior Vice President, Research and Development at Volvo Cars.
The S60L PPHEV (Petrol Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) Concept Car features the
same electrification technology as the Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid, the world’s
first diesel plug-in hybrid, which has been a groundbreaking success on the
In the S60L, however, the diesel engine of the V60 has been replaced with a new,
two-liter, four-cylinder petrol turbo from Volvo Cars’ new Drive-E engine
family. It boasts 238 hp and 350 Nm of torque. Other key components in the
super-efficient powertrain is a crankshaft-driven ISG (Integrated Starter
Generator) between the engine and the 8-speed automatic gearbox and a 68 hp
electric motor powered by a 11.2 kWh lithium-ion battery pack installed under
the floor of the load compartment.
GM makes major China investment
General Motors has indicated that the company and local
partners are boosting production capacity for GM-brand vehicles in China to 5
million units. This is all part of a USD 12 billion investment program through
Matt Tsien, president of GM China, said that includes three factories due to
open this year and two more next year. He said “I think the addition of the
several new plants currently under construction will help us reach the capacity
of 5 million units by the end of 2015.”
GM and Germany’s Volkswagen AG are level pegging to be China’s most popular
vehicle brand. GM said earlier that its 2013 sales rose 11.4 percent to 3.1
Forecasters expect the overall market in China to expand by 8 to 10 percent.
That could raise GM sales to 3.4 million.
The company plans to increase production capacity in China by 65 percent by
2020, Tsien said.
In China, GM manufactures sedans, minivans and pickup trucks in joint ventures
with state-owned SAIC (Shanghai Automotive Industries Co.) and Liuzhou Wuling
Motors Co. The three companies also launched a separate low-cost brand, Baojun,
the company that Warren Buffet also bought into.
My first race car
My first race car was a 10 year old MGA 1500. Remember them?
A nice slippery shape, basic ladder frame chassis, complete with wooden
floorboards, four wheel drum brakes and a four cylinder engine.
When I say it was my first race car, that’s not quite correct. It was also my
road car and was under an HP contract, which stated that it could not be raced,
so I had to enter under an assumed name, and so it was an “Ian Gordon” who
started his racing career in March 1965 at the Lowood circuit in Queensland,
MGA had a Derrington X-Flow cylinder head and was flying. By the second lap of
practice I knew it was much faster than before. 119 miles per hour down the long
Lowood straight was the best that the MGA had ever done.
So on the third lap, I shuffled as low as I could in the car out of the wind,
and willed the needle to get to 120 mph. As it finally hit the magic 120, I
popped my head up into the airstream and saw the marshals at the hairpin that
was coming up all jumping up and down. I was still basking in the 120 mph. “I
know it’s quick, but I didn’t know it was that obvious,” I thought.
Then the car began to misfire and I saw the MGA had flames pouring out from
under the bonnet!
I headed for the marshal’s post, leaping out and opening the bonnet expecting
him to extinguish the flames but he directed the nozzle towards me, as I hadn’t
realized that my long socks were also on fire, as those were the days before
The oil-soaked wooden floorboards were also alight. This was starting to look
serious. “Ian Gordon” might have some serious explaining to do to an
unsuspecting HP company.
The marshals did manage to extinguish everything, and examination of the engine
showed that the banjo fitting into the carburetor had come loose, pumping petrol
all over the generator which provided the spark to ignite the lot.
The Saturday evening was taken up with cutting new floorboards, tightening the
banjo housing and fitting lockwires and MGA was as good as new. The socks were
consigned to the bin. And so “Ian Gordon” lived to compete again.