Tuesday, March 25, 2008

IS THE V8 "DEAD" UNDER THE 35-M.P.G. CAFE STANDARD?

The Eco-wonks at Autoblog Green apparently think so.

The Greeniacs are celebrating a Bloomburg/Detroit News report of an interview with GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz.

Much as Speedzzter predicted during last summer's CAFE "Rope-a-Dope" debate, the draconian increases in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard will have harsh and adverse consequences for vehicular freedom of choice.

More diplomatically, Lutz claims that "around 2015 we're going to have to sell a ton of hybrids whether people want them or not." Lutz added, "it's basically going to result in the quasi-disappearance of V-8 engines."

Lou Grinzo, typical of the Greeniac reaction, wrote in response:
"Once again: Bob Lutz speaks, so there is comedy."

"I'm convinced now more than ever that the number one thing that needs to change at GM is some of the people at the top of the management food chain. Why do we see Honda and Toyota, among other companies, leading the charge on more efficient, sustainable transportation, while GM (and Ford and Chrysler) have to be dragged kicking and screaming every inch of the way? Are the laws of physics different for them? Do they sell to a different America than those other companies? No, it's purely a cultural issue."

"The Big Three still haven't completely accepted, down to their DNA, the immense changes that peak oil and global warming are forcing on almost everything we humans do."


Of course such ignorant "Detroit bashing" wholly misses the point. As Business Week pointed out yesterday:

"It hardly seems fair to Detroit to compare its efforts in the hybrid arena to Toyota's. Chrysler's Press says when he was at Toyota, 'the Japanese government paid for 100% of the development of the battery and hybrid system that went into the Toyota Prius.'"

Thus, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to beat on GM (or other Detroit-based companies) when the playing field is hardly level.

Notwithstanding CAFE, V8s will disappear when the market for them is gone.

The V8 was originally supposed to "die" in the mid-1980s. However, market forces have kept it alive and thriving for decades.

Europe has been living with $5-$7 fuel prices for decades, and a few V8 models still exist (albeit reserved for wealthy auto-philes).

That's little comfort for wage earners who dream of a return to the halcyon, egalitarian days of the First Musclecar Era, or even the days of the cheap, quick and tunable 5.0 Fox-body Mustang.

Thus, what Lutz is really saying is that ordinary "Joe-six-packs" can kiss their chance at a V8 goodby.

And as Speedzzter predicted last year, the ominous signs this time around are rapidly growing.

"Mark LaNeve, GM North America's vice president of sales and marketing, said of the new Camaro, 'We won't position it as a muscle car. The mainstream positioning will be fuel economy, design and a V-6.'"

The Greeniacs, insofar as they can applaud something as "selfish" and "inefficient" as the upcoming Chevrolet Camaro celebrate the denial of high performance options.

It's time the pureists [sic] accept that it is a Brave New World.
Posted at 7:55PM on Mar 21st 2008 by Wildgoosechase73


At some point these companies are going to have to realize that this march to higher horsepower is INSANE. Far better to top out at 200 HP and buy a Go KART and get some Saturday Track Time for your thrills.

Because there's nothing stupider then building a transportation infrastructure using 340 hp cars to pick up milk at the grocery, drive to work, church or even long trips on vacation. None of which is well suited to a 340 hp car.

And then there's the safety factor, using 340 hp on the streets is for the profoundly stupid and will get plenty of innocent people killed.

Posted at 11:51AM on Jan 26th 2008 by mike


This Insane levels [sic] of horsepower again makes me question auto industry compensation. The oil industry is the only benefactor in this horsepower race.


[T]he US consumer is the most profligate, arrogant and ignorant on the planet. Cars aren't mere modes of transportation, they are status symbols and recreation. Many Americans also cannot drive a stick. Accordingly, the fuel efficiency and fun factor that one could get from smaller displacement (2-3L) forced induction (or naturally aspirated) engines just doesn't translate well into English on this side of the Atlantic.
Posted at 4:35PM on Jan 27th 2008 by terrence_bethea



"[T]o do a 0-60 test you actually have to PUT YOUR FOOT TO THE FLOOR FOR 8 SECONDS. That gives you 1 mpg, and there isn't enough OPEN ROAD available to hold your foot down for 8 seconds."

"Secondly, most people think they're destroying the engine when they hear it SCREAM. But, they've GOT to BUY that V8 they'll never use."


Sorry, but the "profligate, arrogant and ignorant " Speedzzter does "it" (PUTS THE RIGHT FOOT TO THE FLOOR) at least twice every day (except that in a "real car" it takes WAY less than SIX SECONDS to hit 100 kph).

These "big-brother-knows-best" anti-performance sentiments are similar to the hysterical reactions from the Greens to Speedzzter's "Click, Clack and the Five Hundred Horsepower Ford" post.

Given the expected weight of the New Camaro, the Ecotec GDI Turbo will likely prove adequate if not overly exciting. Of course it's hardly a new idea (see, e.g. 1984-1986 Mustang SVO, 1987-1988 Thunderbird Turbo Coupe).

Ford may be following suit.

[The] new 3.5L EcoBoost V-6 . . . will likely appear elsewhere including the 2010 Mustang. . . . The V-6 will likely be rated at a minimum of 340hp to start and be lighter in weight than the current 4.6L V-8 leading to better handling and considerably better fuel economy. At some point the 2.0L four-cylinder EcoBoost will probably become the standard engine in the base Mustang as well.


One suspects that the rumored four-cylinder "Ecotec Camaro" is more about "import tuner" image and fuel economy window dressing than actual real world mileage increases (although it should be 2-3 mpg better in the city portion of the test cycle than a heavily-overdriven, naturally-aspirated V6/V8 of equivalent maximum output).

What the Greens simply cannot understand is that some of us ENJOY (and know how to safely and responsibly use) powerful motorcars.

Common sense would suggest supporting improvements in efficiency within each class, rather than mandating a one-size-fits all "lawn-mower-car/phone-booth" "solution" that will force performance enthusiasts to hold on to older, less efficient vehicles or explore other, less sensitive avenues of circumvention.

Speedzzter has been blogging here for an EcoBoost version of Ford DOHC V8: A twin-turbo (or "twincharged") GDI four-valve V8 (with electric accessory drives, a "6 x 2" overdrive transmission, a mild hybrid "engine stop" system, cylinder deactivation, "on-boost" auxillary alcohol fueling (perhaps combined with the MIT water injection system), variable valve lift and timing, variable geometry "ram tuned" intake manifold," two-stage intercooling (i.e. the Coletti "SuperCooler" system), and a multi-program ECU with a big "power volume" knob).

Such a V8 could achieve dramatically better off-peak fuel economy than the current Mustang GT/Bullitt/Shelby GT/Shelby GT500, while still satisfying a large majority of performance vehicle buyers.

Such a V8 would make the "green" pill a tad easier to swallow. Moreover, off peak fuel economy represents about 95-98% of performance vehicle driving on the street, thus such improvements would be significant.

Naturally, the bean counters will be against all of this. The cheap and easy solution to the "fuel economy problem" would be for FoMoCo to turn its back on over 75 years of V8 heritage by crushing the hopes and dreams of legions of its loyal customers. The bean counters will want to ash-can rear wheel drive while they're at it.

But killing the V8 and RWD simply to satisfy the reckless power grab of the Greens and their lackeys in Congress and at the EPA and NHTSA, however, is the wrong solution. FoMoCo owes its customers and its faithful supporters more.

Just don't bank on it. The list of MBA-driven FoMoCo disappointments is far, far longer than the list of Ford legends.

Notwithstanding what the Detroit automakers eventually do, the V8 won't truly be dead until they pry millions of "cold dead hands" off of our "pistol-grip shifters . . . ."

SPEEDZZTER BOOK REVIEW PREVIEW

Speedzzter drafted the following comment for Racecar Engineering:

As an enthusiast publication, Turbocharging Performance Handbook, by Jeff Hartman (MBI Publishing Co., L.L.C., 2007, ISBN 978-0-7603-2805-7) is toward the top of the middle of the pack. Turbocharging Performance Handbook is much more colourfully illustrated than almost all of the other popular turbo manuals in print.

In comparison to the standard work by which all enthusiast turbo tech books are usually judged (Turbochargers, by Hugh Macinnes), Hartman's book has the clear advantage of 30 years of technical developments. And Hartman travels further down the paths of some speculative scenarios, such as staged intercooling. However Hartman's book probably is not as broad or as comprehensive as Macinnes. Macinnes' book contains some valuable reference material that is absent from Hartman's book.

Moreover, Macinnes' step-by-step turbo selection algorithm may be easier for some to follow (Macinnes treats it as integral to the process, whereas Hartman relegates most of the "turbo math" to almost an appendix at the back of the book). However, the compressor maps and turbocharger information in Hartman's book are much more contemporary. Hartman's book is not generally a threat to sending Macinnes's "classic" out-of-print, but perhaps it may motivate Macinnes' publisher to commission a much-needed revision and update.

Hartman's book is much better written than Corky Bell's Maximum Boost: Designing, Testing, and Installing Turbocharger Systems. And Hartman's coverage of water injection is much more fair and balanced than Corky Bell's knee-jerk condemnation of it. However, Corky Bell's book contains a number of fabrication insights that Hartman omits. Corky Bell's book will likely continue to have strong appeal to hands-on builders, while Hartman's book is more oriented toward customers who want a better grasp of the engineering basics.

Hartman's book is weaker on alternative fuels and supplemental fueling systems than A. Graham Bell's Forced Induction Performance Tuning: A Practical Guide to Supercharging and Turbocharging. While Hartman's book is better illustrated and probably significantly better on turbo math and emerging developments, A. Graham Bell's work is generally more comprehensive on a number of topics of interest to enthusiasts and small kit engineers. While Hartman's book is grounded mostly in Texas and California-based tuning shops (Norwood, Bell, Banks), A. Graham Bell's book has a more international and historical perspective. A. Graham Bell's book is also superior on the comparative merits of the various forced induction systems.

Hartman's book will most likely compete with Mark Warner's Street Turbocharging: Design, Fabrication, Installation, and Tuning of High-Performance Street Turbocharger Systems. Warner's book isn't as flashy and is more narrowly focused (and a bit cheaper to purchase). Warner's book has also been criticized by some for niggling typographical errors. However, Warner's book is probably a bit more oriented toward small shops and home-based kit builders using petrol engines. Warner's book also includes a series of case studies and some empirical test data (but, like Hartman's book, Warner's book tends to be weak on specific tuning protocols). Warner omits niceties such as an index, which Hartman includes.

Hartman's book contains an interesting retelling of the General Motors Performance Division struggle to turn the production Ecotec four cylinder engine into a high-boost land speed record and drag racing engine and the consequential development of the production GDI turbo version. However, other than the GM saga (which at least proves that blowing up development engines is not limited to the aftermarket) Hartman's book tends to be thin on empirical test results and source documentation. Instead, Hartman liberally peppers the text with photographs of various exotic, custom turbo systems (and provides few specifics as to specifications or results achieved) As with most competing publications, Hartman's book does not follow academic conventions of documentation.

Hartman's book has little to say about recent trends such as "twincharging" and rear/remote-mounted turbochargers and almost no insights into engineering such systems. This is a major disappointment given the recent publication date of the book.

Hartman's book ought to be a good seller in the enthusiast market, notwithstanding the price. It is a good introductory book as well as confirming of some recent trends and expected developments. However, it is a supplement, not a replacement, for some of the more time-tested works in the field.

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