Ford India’s Figo brand is all set to get a makeover. While the Figo hatch could be launched within the next quarter or so, the sedan variant of the Figo could be brought in soon thereafter. Recently, we spotted a few camouflaged mules of both the hatchback and sedan variants of the Figo testing around Udaipur, indicating a launch soon.
While the pictures of these test vehicles did give away some of the interior details, we have some exclusive details about what will be found under the hood. The Figo sedan will be launched with a petrol and diesel engine. The diesel engine will be a 1.5 l unit and will produce about 100 hp. The petrol motor could be the same 1 l EcoBoost unit used in the EcoSport. The fuel-efficiency of the diesel motor will be just under 26 km/l, our sources disclosed.
The indicated performance puts the car bang in the middle of the Honda Amaze, Hyundai Xcent and Tata Zest. We weren’t able to confirm if there will be an automatic option to start with. The Figo sedan is also expected to feature the SYNC pairing technology, already in use on the EcoSport and the Fiesta sedan. This would be in addition to a mobile-docking station and the usage of these would depend on variants being planned by the company.
With the spy images all around the internet, there’s not much to talk about the styling, but while the actual design seems to be less striking than the concept shown at the 2014 Auto Expo, the car does look good. It’ll be interesting to see the way Ford India prices the Figo sedan since the competition already offers good VFM along with a unique positioning for each vehicle. The Figo sedan appears to offer a good cross between power, features and efficiency. If the pricing is anything like it was for the EcoSport, Honda, Hyundai and Tata have a lot to worry about.
As legislations become more stringent and consumers increasingly demand for comfort, connectivity, efficiency and safety, electronics continue to gain control over new and existing functions in vehicles. In wake of these factors, the global electronics market is set to see a healthy increase of more than 50 % from $ 157 bn in 2010 to $ 240 bn in 2020. Electronic content in cars is expected to go up to 35 % by 2017, and further up to 50 % in 2030.
TE Connectivity recently shared an infographic with us, which highlights the growth in automotive electronics. The brief report also takes a look at some key megatrends of future transportation in the world.
Telit creates new business unit to better address all the opportunities
The recent acquisition of NXP’s Automotive On-board Platform (ATOP) expandsTelit’s OEM offer.The new BU, Telit Automotive Solutions, unifies the resources of the two companies and this will result in an accelerated drive towards market leadership in this segment.
ATOP isan integrated, certified component that has all the functionality needed to create standalone On-Board Units (OBUs) for road pricing, eCall, and other certified orauthenticated services and applications. On the software side there is an open, multi-application development environment basedon IBM’s J9 virtual machine, which can execute JAVAcode. In a nutshell, it's an impressive single-component turnkey solution having tight hardware and software integration.
Easyin-car integration is enabled by a broad range of interfaces, which include CAN and USB, multiple serialinter-processor buses, A/D and D/A converters, andanalog in & outputs for audio signals. In addition ATOP can be employed as a front-end to more advanced, open-service telematicsplatforms. These are key features, particularly for up-market brands like Audi, BMW and Mercedes Benz.
Automotive is one of Telit’skey markets. We not only develop modules specific for this industry, but the company also ensures the highest quality standards are observed from R&D to manufacturing and logistics. To guarantee total adherence to these quality standards we have a dedicated team spanning R&D, sales and support.
This dedicated team focuses on different phases of development. One group is focused on field testing and software validation. Another handles “Reliability Validation”; a third group offers first and second level technical support; and a fourth group has the sole responsibility of ensuring that all “interactions” among different functions inside our company including R&D, purchasing, quality, test engineering, and others take place efficiently and expeditiously.
Solutions based on dedicated automotive modules will continue to be the preferred option for many vehicle manufacturers and we shall continue to develop the existing product line, e.g. the GE910-AUTO, HD920, LE920 and UE910-AUTO. The responsibility for these products will be moved into the new company and additional R&D resources will be assigned to future automotive products. The acquisition of ATOP should therefore be seen as a complementary addition to our comprehensive product portfolio.
Telit has been active in the automotive market for several years and in that time we have acquired a vast knowledgebase as well as a considerable amount of operational experience of this industry. In addition, we have the global reachas well as the various support services needed to facilitate the marketingand deployment of ATOP-centric solutions.
Back in 2009 Telit created dedicated sales and support teams that could function locally and at the same time be managed on a regional and global basis by senior Telit specialists. I was responsible for automotive. Telit Automotive Solutions employs the same model. It operates in a global ecosystem comprising a direct sales force that operates out of 32 offices around the world plus a distribution channel that has 60 specialists in over 80 countries. These value-added distributors have detailed local knowledge and expertise. Everything is aggregated. In this way Telit is not only close to its customers, it becomes an integral part of their marketing operation.
Research and development
Market leadership cannot be realized without making significant investments, but more is needed in today’s ultra-competitive market. Application Engineersare also involved. Different technical representatives are assigned to ensure that projectsare completed quickly, efficiently, and successfully with the shortest time-to-market. This is also the group within Telit serving as the interface between customers and R&D. They coordinate activities with hardware and software engineers to speed up the integration process and customers can also access the laboratories in order to obtain additional to help with technical issues and compliance testing.
A huge market with enormous potential
It is hard to exaggerate the potential of vehicle telematics: over 60 million were manufactured in 2012. Take up of telematics solutions is very low, which means that there is a huge untapped market. This situation will change and government legislation is a key driver. There is the ERA-GLONASS initiative in Russia, Contran 245 in Brazil and e-Call in Europe, which should be mandatory in most countries by 2015. These are positive developments that Telit has tracked and, as indicated earlier, we already have the requisite products. Moreover, our portfolio has been extended and expanded via the acquisition of NXP’s ATOP platform.
Expanded was italicized in order to emphasize the fact that this next-generation platform enables the development of consolidate solutions. This topic was considered in the 2013 edition of our telit2market magazine. The article anticipatedthe emergence of low-cost, but more sophisticated platforms that will allow the hardware and the related data plans to be shared with the various telematics solutions. ATOP has the requisite functionality.
The open, multi-application software environment ensures interoperability and secure co-existence insystems that run multiple telematics applications in parallel.The ARM7 environment, which uses C/C++, complementsthe IBM J9 environment with low-level, true real-timecapabilities for application integration.
A powerful package
The ATOP platform packs all the functionality needed to create standalone On-Board Units. Key features include: GNSS (GPS) and GSM/GPRS communication; device and vehicle connectivity via CAN, USB, and NFC; transaction security and authentication mechanisms; secure, over-the-air software and applications upgrades; and multi-service capable and multi App concept.
Key benefits include: single-component, turnkey telematics solution withreference design; optimized cost, form-factor, in-car connectivity, andpower consumption; three-processor architecture for compliance with automotivestandards, GSM, security, and service certifications; open, flexible framework based on standard software; built-in, banking-grade security functions and ultra-small footprint.
There is a lot to like about this package and it is set to play a pivotal role in the open, multi-service telematics solutions that will provide us with applications such as eCall, SVT, PAYD, and fleet management. ATPO can also function as an in-car client for smart grid based e-cars and pooled car applications.
Telit is an established supplier of automotive-grade modules, but given the size of the market and its potential, Telit decided that a dedicated business unit would allow the company to better address all those opportunities. This focused approach would also facilitate the execution of our strategy, which is to become the market leader in the automotive segment by 2015. The acquisition of ATOP should therefore be seen as a significant step towards the realization of that objective.
Telit Wireless Solutions
At a stage when every market is setting stringent emission and fuel economy standards, researchers globally are experimenting with various forms of engine technology. In this feature, Surojit Sen explores the various options.
The biggest dare to the global auto industry today is the ever-rising demand for improved fuel economy and meeting stringent emission standards. Be it the proposed target of 54.5 mpg by 2025 in the US as per the CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) regulations, or the tentative target of 95 g/km of CO2 emissions by 2020 in Europe – most mature automobile markets are facing intense political pressure to jump up these numbers. It must be noted that the European agreement by the ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturers Association) is still under review.
Meeting these targets and ensuring the natural trajectory in performance improvements is not hampered calls for giant leaps in the technological front.
One such technology, which has been the hot topic of discussion this past decade, is the Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI) engine. This prototype engine aims to have the best of the conventional engines of today, low emissions of petrol engine and low consumption of diesel engine. The petrol engine is port-injected with a homogeneous air-fuel mixture almost always at the stoichiometric point, which results in a better quality combustion producing lower emissions.
On the other hand, the diesel engine employs lean burn combustion to control power of the engine instead of a throttle, as in the petrol variant. This builds on the fuel economy. The fuel charge is directly injected into the combustion chamber just before ignition, which allows higher thermal efficiency, but also higher emissions. The HCCI engine theoretically produces lesser emissions, as the charge combusted is homogeneous and the overall peak temperature is lower than any of the conventional two, hence generating less NOx. As lean burn can be employed, a higher compression ratio with absence of throttle improves the engine efficiency drastically.
However, there are certain problems associated with this design, essentially the reason it is still in the development phase. Both the petrol and diesel engines have explicit control over ignition timing, whereas the event of ignition can only be indirectly controlled here. Auto ignition is thus difficult to control and knocking/ pre-ignition may be a problem. Secondly, instantaneous ignition of the entire compressed charge causes very high pressure-spikes and heat release rate. The material technology of today structurally limits the practical HCCI engine and operation is only limited to low or medium load conditions.
Mercedes-Benz's concept engine, DiesOtto operates in HCCI mode during low-load cruising conditions, reverts to normal spark-ignited operation during higher load, and employs an electric motor to ensure a smooth transition, (Ref: Image).
Another promising technology among experimental combustion systems would be the PCCI (Pre-Mixed Charge Compression Ignition) engine, in which a pre-mixed homogeneous charge of air and fuel is injected during compression stroke, like in the diesel engine. Hyundai and Delphi have collaborated in the development of a new engine based on similar lines.
The GDCI (Gasoline Direct-injected Compression Ignition) engine is a cross between the HCCI prototype and the conventional diesel engine, as a partially pre-mixed charge is directly injected into the compressed chamber and auto-ignited. This "globally stratified but locally stoichiometric" combustion regime also employs lean burn combustion, higher compression ratios and EGR with auxiliary power from supercharger and turbocharger for low and high engine speeds respectively.
Chris Boer and Mike Cheiky from Transonic Combustion Inc presented a truly novel combustion process at the 2012 High Efficiency IC Engine Symposium. The concept is to directly inject fuel in a supercritical state, at which it vaporises into the compressed air very quickly to produce a cleaner and more complete burn. This supercritical state is achieved by precisely controlling the pressure and temperature of the fuel just before injection. A practically successful fuel injection design would pose minimal interference into conventional diesel engine system with much lower emissions and higher fuel economy and performance with gasoline applications.
However, top management in the industry need to answer this one question, can the industry really afford to venture into the unknown in terms of 'grassroots-level' experimenting with unique technologies, especially in a critical phase like this when steep emission and efficiency targets are to be met within a very optimistic deadline? In fact, does it really need to?
Guilliaume Devauchelle from the Valeo Group does not think so. His department is currently developing an electric-supercharger (originally developed by Visteon Technologies back in 2002), which can be 'fitted' to a regular gasoline or diesel engine. The supercharger is driven by a low inertia motor, which spools it from idle to full capacity in less than a second (hence virtually eliminating turbo lag). A turbocharged diesel fitted with this system would demonstrate an instant surge of power upon load application at lower speeds for a few seconds until the turbo kicks in.
Considerable downsizing of engine is a very attractive and easy option for OEMs provided auxiliary power enhancement systems like these are production ready, as this requires minimum change to the existing engine design with significant improvement in emissions.
The powertrain has several systems, which work together with the engine to produce the power as it is seen in the wheels. Instead of tinkering with the individual components, R&D should employ systems engineering such that every module of the complete set-up is working in synergy with the other to unanimously produce the most optimised result.