Cooley On Cars
Top car technologies that will save you gas now. CNET On Cars, Episode 4The best tech from the Paris auto show, the real difference between a Prius Plug-In and a Chevy Volt, and the Top 5 technologies that will save you gas right now.
-The real difference between the two hottest new power plants, top 5 technologies that keep driving all most affordable and the best tech from the Paris Auto Show right now from CNET. -We see cars differently. We love them on the road and under the hood, but also Check the Tech and are known for telling it like it is. The good, the bad, the bottom line. This is CNET on Cars. -Hello gang, Brian Cooley here. Welcome to CNET on Cars. We're coming to you from Canepa, here in Northern California, the most amazing combination of restoration shop and museum that we're gonna give you a sneak peek of a little later in the show. But first, I've got some thoughts to share with you from the recent Paris Auto Show. It was four of the usual bombast and concept cars that you'll never see in showrooms, but also for technologies that you will. The Paris Show is all about technologies moving away from sheer ability to sustained ability. The Mercedes SLS Electric, no longer a concept. It's in production, though it's a few tens of a second slower than the already existing 6.3-liter conventional V8 and at more than twice the price. You gotta be committed to green and apparently to blue. The new Range Rover has lost an incredible 40% of its famous girth with a new aluminum body, but balancing out that efficiency will be a likely one choice only supercharged V8, no lean V6 or a diesel for America. The latest McLaren, the P1, hardly needs any advancement in power. It has so many in losing weight, not just the car had been fiber tub but also carbon fiber body panels. Just have your friend get out and lift the thing if they have a flat. And expected to use a fly-wheel based electric boost system to complement a twin-turbo V6. Check out this new VW Golf featuring cylinder deactivation for a 4-cylinder engine to get down to just 2 when it's cruising. The BMW Concept Active Tourer is a plug-in hybrid with a little tiny 1.5-liter, 3-cylinder engine. It's a concept, but the engine is likely on future minis and 1 series. Jaguar's F-type was the big hit at Paris, a supercharged V8 and some aluminum tech that's far for the course for them. But more out of character is a streamlined new LCD tech interface that hopefully does more than just irritate us as the current Jag interface does. If Nissan is trying to be polarizing, it's not working. I don't know anyone who likes the looks of this thing, but the TeRRA concept is fascinating as an off-roader, all electric, all torque. One motor drives the front wheels. Separate motors drive each one in the rear. And finally, I'm not sure I want something with rotating blades running around my house on its own, but that's what Honda was showing with its Mimo electric robotic lawn mower. Being sold in Europe only, giving us a nice safety buffer over here in the US. Now, it doesn't matter how far you look in the future of cars like we've just seen. The one constant is screens, screens, screens all over the interior. Even today, I look at this Tesla model S, 17-inch display right in the center console, and you can browse the web while the car is moving, though they hope you leave that to the passenger. Our partners in State Farm say the next big thing in destruction behind the wheel after calling, after texting, is turning out to be webbing while driving. Here's some tech tips on how to manage all that web-based information on the road. First, it was calling while driving. -Hello. -And texting while driving. Now, the concern is webbing while driving, browsing the web on your smartphone or even tablet while you're at the wheel. According to our partners at State Farm, about 1 in 5 people admit to surfing the Internet while driving, and that was as of November 2010. Since then, smartphone penetration in the US has grown a lot. Maps and directions, text, restaurant reviews, social networks, news; these are among the lowers. CNET has found a variety of car tech approaches to lessen their allures. For example, some cars can read text to you and then let you reply with a quick-hand response. -057455, say the line number of the message you want to send. -Line 2. -Others bring in Facebook and Twitter updates, but pare way down to the basics and again, handle them with voice. More and more NAV systems now just put the next instruction you need in the instrument panel display. -Now take a left. -Or even on a head-up display on the windshield right in front of you, and increasingly you could use your ears instead of your eyes. -Continue on Washington Boulevard for 400 feet. -When I use navigation on my phone app, I turn the screen off and just listen to the voice prompts. E-mail remains a tricky one since it varies so widely in format, link, or attachments, and how infuriating the content of it might be. No tech can really make that safer; so, just leave it alone. Bottom line, there has been a quantum leap in interactive driving destructions, and any tech that promises to neutralize that is kidding because the real problem remains mind destruction, not just hands or eyes. Coming up, you'll understand the difference between a plug-in hybrid and a range extender, perhaps for the first time, when CNET on Cars continues. -Welcome back to CNET on Cars. I'm Brian Cooley. Just when you figured out what a hybrid is, along come two new variants, the plug-in hybrid and the range extender hybrid. Complicated enough to explain on their own, just look at GM's Volt commercials. -These were electric? -Yes. It's a-- It's a Chevy Volt. -What do you do in a gas station? -But to compare and contrast, that gets really murky. That's why there are Car Tech 101. Okay. This is a Prius Plug-in, differs from the standard Prius, the household name of hybrid cars in 3 important ways. First of all, it's got a much bigger electric storage battery than a standard Prius hybrid. Second, it's got a charging port over here. You can hook it up to a charger, even a fast charger, to get power off the grid, not just by driving. Third, it's got software that says "Utilize that additional battery power" to run on electric longer after 13 miles and faster, up to 62 miles per hour, all much higher numbers than a standard Prius hybrid. But of course, this car still has a gas engine that is involved in most of its driving, in a blended mode with that electric motor. Certainly, if you drive more than just 12 or 13 miles between charges, you wanna go more electrified than a plug-in hybrid then you go to a range extender. Now, the Mac Daddy of range extenders these days is clearly this car, the Fisker Karma. Let's start with what it has in common with that Toyota Prius Plug-in. First of all, they both have very large capacity batteries. In this car, it's most to what's lying under the belly here. Like a Prius Plug-in, it's got that charging port over there. So you can plug this guy in and get your first headstart on pure electric driving. In this case, 50 miles on that charge. But then, things get different under the hood. A range extender like this only runs on electricity. Yes, it's got a gas engine, but that never drives the road wheels. All that does is turn a generator that either powers the battery or can also send current directly to the electric motors that move this thing but never is it moving by the power of the gas engine directly. That's a key distinction. Now, the reason you put a gas engine here at all is because you're able to run it at very controlled RPMs and loads in its sweet spot. So, it just set to gas while generating a lot of electricity. By the way, it's got a solar roof as well. All of that comes together to give this guy 50 miles of pure electric driving before it has to be augmented with power generated on the fly. As long as you have gas, you have electricity. It's kind of this weird thing about range extenders, but very handy. No range anxiety. Now both those technologies can save you a ton of money on fuel if you've got a car that uses those technologies. Odds are you don't. That's why my top 5 coming up in a bit has to do with saving fuel in today's most common cars ands we'll take you behind the scenes right here on the shop floor at Canepa. -Shifters, the forgotten car tech. Check out this bizarre little control that runs the electropneumatic shifting way back on a '37 car. In the '50s, push buttons were hot especially if they were chrome. Dainty little levers had their day, like on this late '50s DeSoto. Who knows if you just went in to drive or turned on the heater. Hurst Lightning Rod from the early '80s could convince anyone they need to get their eyes checked. How about this chauvinist Oddity? His and her shifters that use a key lock to restrict the little lady to the automatic lever, while [unk] she married had a key for the manual side. Today, some cars don't even have a park position. Like this 2013 BMW M5. Aston Martin and McLaren are keeping the push button idea alive, though with less chrome. So what's really bizarre today? Any car with a stick. Only about 6 percent shift with one. -Back to CNET on Cars, I'm Brian Cooley. A number of you have written in asking when you're in that place, where are you? We're at Canepa in Scotts Valley, just outside Silicon Valley in Northern California. Equal parts museum, restoration shop, and ultimate toy brokerage. Let's take a look around. Canepa is named for founder Bruce Canepa. He's got 3 things going on here, a museum of collectible and racing cars, most of which are for sale, car restoration and maintenance at the Pebble Beach level, and perhaps least expected, elaborate race transporters; maybe not so unexpected when you realize that Bruce has had no small success raising the business end of a Kenworth Semi. But it's the museum and shop that you wanna see. Up in the hill is above Santa Cruz, California. It draws all kinds of people who wanna see important cars in off-record condition and how they got that way. -So we've got cars here with pedigrees of the NASCAR, the first car, the fastest car, the win in this car, just about everything. -Now here on the shop floor, you got a good taste of the two big halves of what Canepa does. Over here on my left is what they call their collector's cars. These are the cars you might see at a Pebble Beach or some other major world-class concourse. This is the kind of cars that can be very fast but they're mostly very fine, very collectible vehicles. Now over here on the other side of the shop is motor sports. Look at this. I've got one, two, three-- I think there are four Porsche 935s here. Up to a beautiful level of period finished, but these are real race cars. They are prepped to go the way they did when they were young, unlike a lot of these you may see in those car museums that maybe don't run at all or even got it. Here in the museum shop, this isn't like where you get your car repaired. Here, it's not so much about buying parts and installing them, but as often about making parts and installing them either for race cars that have been worn offs their entire lives or cars so old or so rare, there were never really any spares for them. Now, no matter how many amazing cars you see here at Canepa, one of the most profound impressions you takeaway is how clean everything is. We're underneath this '61 Porsche super 90 GT. You know the phrase "so clean, you can eat off it?" It's not a phrase, it's so clean, you could eat off it. In fact, literally, when a car comes in here for service or restoration, unless it's just been at Pebble Beach, they run it through the bath area first and steam clean it from the bottom up before it's allowed in the shop. Now, if you think everything here is about fine European motor cars, not everything. Here's a fine American racing motor car. This is Rusty Wallace's championship ride from '89. I'd rather modified Grand Prix. Look at this thing. It's a whole different kind of language or mechanical art than you see in the European cars, but the bottom line, back at the rear end, they have that in common. If you really wanna see a car that deserves to have est at the end of its qualifier, this is probably it. Yes to Duesenberg, not just any Duesenberg. It's the very first production Duesenberg. Canepa is redoing it for the folks who own it. That's the Dole family in Hawaii. It's not gonna be for sale. No one has any idea what it would fetch if it was. When you have everything from the first Duesenberg to the last Porsche 959 under one roof, you can forget it Bruce for not being able to pick a favorite when pressed. -Favorite cars, well, the cars I raced. I mean, sprint car racing to me was the most fun thing I ever did, and they are the most exciting cars. No question. You know, they're 800 horsepower and 1200 pounds and sideways on torque. So, that was the most fun period. -I drove a 935 Porsche factored car, and I mean, what can you say? That's still a great race car. It's still extremely fast by today's standards. It's a car that you have to go to Fiat from working that car [unk] fast. It doesn't do anything for you messy. And probably my-- the other most favorite car for me to drive is the 917. Because that-- that's, you know, that's now a 40-year-old car but it doesn't drive like a 40-year-old car. -For me, the choice is much easier, this Black over Red '84 Countach. Well, now, this like new BMW M1. No, no, no. Definitely this Silver Lake production 959 or this '55 Gullwing SL. Oh, hell, I get it. -We wanna share the cars with people. It's-- There's so many collections that are private like you won't see this car-- -Uh-huh. -for 10 years 'cause it disappears into the hands of a collector. We're just the opposite. We want people get close-up and understand and create a hobby and let people know what these cars were about. We don't have any stanchions around the cars or bodyguards or flying monkeys to come and get you if you scratch the car. The car is right there, 50 million dollars, 917K, and you can walk right up to it and touch it. What's better than that? -A little while ago, we showed you the craziest shifting technologies to ever come down the road, but no matter how you mix your gears, you're probably engaging an engine that burns fuel, and probably more fuel than you like. That's why our top 5 this time around is top 5 fuel-saving technologies that are ready to go right now. Now first, the dirty little secret of combustion engines. They're not real efficient. In fact, your car's engine is a better heater than a motor. Over 60% of the gas you buy goes into creating heat and exhaust. Put another way, next time you do one of those 75-dollar fill-ups, realize that about 56 bucks of it isn't used to move your car but to heat it. With that depressing thought in mind, let's see what's going to save fuel in cars that already burn it so inefficiently. Number 5, adaptive battery charging. About a 3% to 4% savings here. Your alternator charges your battery. It's driven by a belt that drags on the engine all the time. That hasn't changed in the better part of a century, but today, new systems like BMW's EfficientDynamics only engage the alternator when you brake or cam stick. That means kinetic energy keeps the thing spinning as opposed to combustion energy. Very smart. Number 4, electric rotating accessories. A 5% to 6% savings here. Talking about your power steering and water pumps, your airconditioning compressor, those are all little parasites driven by belts that sat the engine. Electric power steering is already taking over in cars as we speak; and electric water pumps, you should start seeing those around 2014. Now, electric airconditioning compressors have the added benefit of keeping the car cool even when the engine is off, and that brings us to number 3. Start-stop technology. It can save you 6% to 10%. When you come to a stop, the engine shuts down until you left off the brake to get moving again. That reduces not just fuel waste, but also emissions in congested traffic. This trick used to be confined to only the hybrids, but now it's spread in the gas-engine cars. Mercedes, BMW, Mazda, Ford, just some of the car makers using it. In 5 years or so, I'm willing to bet it will be as common as a parking brake. Number 2: 8 and 9 speed automatic transmissions with a fuel savings of 10%, maybe 15%. If you think a 7-speed automatic is overkill, you're a couple of shifts behind. The 8-speeds are here, the 9-speeds are on the way, like ZF's 9HP transmission; first adapted by Chrysler. The idea behind all of these is simple. Internal combustion engines have a fairly narrow sweet spot for efficiency, and the more gears you have to choose from, the more likely you can heat the engine in that spot. Before we get to number 1, here is the real number 1, saving weight. This isn't one technology though. It's a combination of carbon fiber parts. High-tensile steel frames, aluminum body panels and suspension parts, lighter seats, and plastic everywhere. When you take weight out of a car, you don't just improve its fuel economy, but also its acceleration, its braking, its cornering, just about everything, except perhaps how it does in a collision with a Ford Expedition. The number 1 fuel-saving tech that's out there right now and has a huge future is direct injection and forced induction, a couplet here, up to 20% fuel savings. Direct injection delivers fuel directly into the cylinder where it's needed, which believe it or not, cars never actually did until very recently. And forced induction, like supercharging or turbo charging, that does wonders when it's coupled with direct injection. All of this is about getting more power out of a smaller engine using less fuel. Look at the 2013 Audi S5, for example. By dropping last year's normally aspirated 4.2-liter V8 and going to a smaller 3-liter supercharged, direct-injection V6, the MPG went from an abysmal 1422 to a pretty good 1726. The car lost its gas customer tax, uses some 600 bucks less fuel per year and still gets up to 60 in a quick 4.9 seconds. Yup, they put this on the floor and then they expect me to concentrate. That's not even funny. Thanks for watching another episode of CNET on Cars, coming to you from Canepa. If you're in or around Silicon Valley, you've got to make the trip over here. You can see the cars and see how they get them this way. They're open Monday through Saturday. There's no admission charge to come in here, and as you can see, there are no velvet ropes either. This place is really special. Thanks for watching. I'm Brian Cooley. We'll see you next time.