THE WEEK THAT WAS: Turbocharger talk
As rising fuel prices and CO2-based taxes hit, the 'umble turbocharger is fast becoming a great way to squeeze a quart out of a pint pot - just look at how widely Volkswagen uses its 1.4-litre super- and turbocharged petrol engine across its range these days, or try the new 1.4-litre turbo in Fiat's Bravo. And, of course, no self-respecting diesel does without.
Our research boffins have a report out on turbochargers and the preview details have been amongst the most popular items on just-auto this week. Worth a look if engine downsizing is on your mind.
Oh to be a fly on the wall (with a recording device) in a certain room in a certain automaker's headquarters in Dearborn today. As this is written late afternoon on our side of the Atlantic, Ford plant managers and union reps should be learning how and when four plants switch from from trucks to cars. Expect an official announcement next month.
Across the border, things have got a little tetchy between automaker and union over GM's decision to axe trucks at Oshawa. GM's lawyers (a little matter of a union blockade of head office) and the provincial government weighed in this week so it'll be interesting to see how it pans out - plant closed, or a car line added?
A recent TRW technology show-and-tell in France provided a welcome opportunity to nail down senior executive Peter Lake (he's a Brit, once of Lucas-Girling) for a wide-ranging chat about the widget side of the auto biz.
I've long held that the clever boffins in the components industry rarely get full credit for their inventions which, inevitably, become the claim of the automaker who fits them. Lake is a keen driver and rules out 'autonomous' self-driving cars just yet, with TRW instead providing the high-tech stuff to help, rather than take over.
It's interesting to learn that mandated or market-demanded equipment can often be turned into a real gotta-have technology package with a few additional, and relatively inexpensive, sensors and other add-ons. You've already got electric steering, so add a few sensors, a side-facing radar and, voila, you have self-park. Wonder what's coming next from the clever backroom boys and girls?
Also worth a look is Mark 'Coolbear' Bursa's history lesson on Dacia. I must admit their self-developed Nova had passed me by, but not our emerging markets expert.
Enjoy your weekend,