Plascars plastic car also has plastic wheels

Plascar's plastic car also has plastic wheels

Two important events fuelled mobility engineering in Brazil this month. The most recent, the SAE Brasil 19th International Congress and Exhibition, focused on the competence of Brazilian engineering for the mobility of the future. There were three days of presentations and debates, 20 panels and 140 technical papers, besides numerous stands, almost a mini motor show.

Everybody is aware of the challenges ahead to reach a 5m unit production level in Brazil by 2015. Money is not the problem with US$20bn in investments assured. According to SAE Brasil president Besaliel Botelho: “We must be creative to overcome obstacles such as high taxes, infrastructure bottlenecks and even environmental issues”.

Brose showed a device the enables a door to be left open in any position, very useful when parking, especially on hills. Delphi’s new electrical centre is suitable for low cost cars and uses a lighter aluminium wire harness in lieu of copper. Bosch presented new ABS brake systems for motorcycles and the lighter and smaller approach has also been applied to its new window lift mechanisms.

Visteon advanced the infotainment centre by including navigation via internet using Google Maps and integration with cameras that monitor traffic conditions. Continental’s intelligent aerial integrates transmission and reception in one unit, foreseeing future inter-car communication. Schaeffler intend to expands use of its UniAir electro-hydraulic engine valve electronic management. FPT Powertrain Technologies presented its patented, ethanol fuel and intake air heating to avoid the cold start need to use a little petrol in flexible-fuel engines.

Brazil's Plascar also deserves attention. Besides validating its polymer (plastic) wheel abroad, it displayed a small electric car to demonstrate the use of new, sustainable materials. The little car’s design would attract attention at any motor show.

As for the earlier 18th International Automotive Engineering Symposium promoted by AEA, the theme of global harmonising of several technical regulations – from safety to emissions – is the route to follow. During the event the minister of development, Miguel Jorge, announced plans for a compulsory US-style showroom window sticker for fuel efficiency and emissions to help consumer choice. He also hinted at the possibility of stepped tax rates according to efficiency/emissions, instead of engine displacement, as at present. But there would be no specific stimulus to help establish an indigenous Brazilian automaker, even one making electric carsas that was not a central part of the country’s future industrial policy, he said.

By 2015 Brazil will be aligned with fuel specifications worldwide, including diesel with only 10ppm of sulphur.