Virtual powertrain testing, VR applications, Nissan brands scrutinized – the week

The use of simulation for product development in a virtual test environment is becoming increasingly common. Punch Powertrain applies a range of simulation tools which can augment traditional physical testing methods. This is evident in the testing of new transmissions. The company points out that testing transmissions can be a complicated business. Transmissions need to align with every other component of a car, while some parts are still in development and not available for testing. Which is where hybrid test beds come in. Punch Powertrain tests its transmissions in a partly physical, partly virtual set-up, where software simulates certain components. It claims a state-of-the-art technology that allows for quick turnaround and flexibility. One area where this comes in handy is acoustic testing. Engineers test the shifting noise a transmission makes. That’s something they can start doing even when they don’t have key components, like the engine, yet. Virtually simulating the engine also offers the advantage that there’s less noise from a combustion engine, allowing for better assessment of the transmission noise.

Virtual reality (VR) applications are growing rapidly across sectors as diverse as entertainment, professional services and even education. VR technology is now being extended in an innovative way to the automotive industry by London based independent creative design studio, NewTerritory which has created a multi-sensory virtual reality experience which has been designed to assist the automotive industry and mitigate some of the challenges presented by semi-autonomous driving. Using the latest in VR technology the company enables the test driver to experience a fully immersive experience, allowing the company to monitor heart rate, reactions to various stimuli and much more. We visited the NewTerritory office in London to speak with design and creative tech director Tim Smith, to find out more about this unique technology.

With Datsun gone, Nissan now has three brands, each needing a lot of investment. Our new report out this week examines two of the three – Infiniti and Venucia.

The process behind painting vehicles is often a laborious task consuming many hours, sometimes days, between coats with masking usually being involved for more complex designs. With this in mind, leading digital technologies company, ABB Robotics, has developed a robot to assist with this task. Equipped with 1,000 nozzles in the printed head, the robot sees artwork and design tasks completed in less than 30 minutes. Named ‘PixelPaint’, this technology can be applied in a single coat and is opening the door to the personalized design market for the automotive industry. We spoke to Joerg Reger, managing director, ABB Business Line Automotive, Robotics & Discrete Automation to find out more.

Renault said over 300 patents had been lodged for the design of the Megane E-Tech Electric. The automaker said it saw the electric motor play a strategic role in the EV value chain and decided to [re]design it entirely in house. Focused in the greater Paris region, manufacturing and assembly of all the active parts (rotor, stator, power electronics, reducer) are done at the Cleon plant (Seine-Maritime) with fewer materials and energy used in the process, while R&D is concentrated at the Technocentre in Guyancourt (Yvelines). “We invented a magnet free rotor winding process. The magnet has been replaced by copper, which has a much smaller impact on the environment. The patented process also makes it possible to modulate the current flowing through the rotor so as to limit how much electricity the battery uses, especially at high speeds and on motorways,” said Edouard Negre, electrical motor design leader at the powertrain design department.

Musical chairs at VW Group: The supervisory board has appointed Oliver Blume as the new board chairman, effective 1 September 2022. Blume will also continue to act as chairman of the Porsche board. VW also said that he would continue in the Porsche role ‘after a possible IPO’. Herbert Diess is resigning as chairman of the VW board by mutual agreement. Reports suggest he is stepping down three years before his contract officially ends.

Suzuki has shown its new Grand Vitara SUV – a model developed under a collaboration agreement with Toyota. Although developed by Suzuki, the new model is being produced at Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt. Ltd. (TKM). Under the agreement between the two companies announced last month, there will also be a Toyota model based on the Grand Vitara. Maruti Suzuki India and TKM will market their models in India as Suzuki and Toyota models, respectively. Furthermore, the two companies are planning to export the new model to markets outside India including Africa.

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Another Mercedes contract assembly deal for Finland: Valmet Automotive has signed a contract with the group to manufacture the Mercedes-AMG GT sports car. The plant will be manufacturing the four door version of the AMG GT in both ICE and hybrid versions. Start of production is scheduled for the second half of 2023 in Uusikaupunki. Valmet Automotive has already started AMG GT-related manufacturing engineering. As part of the project, the paint shop process will be revised to allow several special coatings. The body shop will be amended and a dedicated assembly line for the AMG model will be built in the general assembly area. The coupe is expected to employ around 200 people in various departments at the plant although the new production will not require any new workers.

Geely’s Volvo Cars’ is rolling out a new over-the-air (OTA) software update for all cars with Google built in, enabling feature and quality improvements. One of the new functions will include Apple CarPlay. Users can now connect their iPhone via USB and access apps from an iPhone, where CarPlay is available. Volvo Cars has offered regular OTA updates since 2021. Meanwhile, Porsche said the Taycan EV would receive a “complimentary” software update. Around 75,000 units have been delivered since the automaker introduced its first all-electric sports car at the end of 2019. All model variants will now be brought up to the status of the 2023 model year with the update but this must be installed by dealers on on a market specific basis.

Tesla Cybertruck customers in Australia can apply for a refund of their deposit after the electric pick-up was pulled from the Australian website two months ago, drive.com.au reported. The report said: “The sudden removal of the online ordering button from the Tesla Australia website is seen as a sign the vehicle is not coming Down Under”. It added Cybertruck deposits in (right hand drive) Australia had been refundable from the time the order books opened on Tesla’s Australian website from late 2019. less than a month after it was unveiled in the US. There was initially an expectation the sharply-styled pick-up would be sold in Australia, the report said, adding the Cybertruck’s order button was removed from the Tesla Australia website in May 2022.

Toyota has suspended a night shift operation (on July 27) at one production line of its Takaoka factory in central Japan because of a Covid-19 outbreak. In a statement the company said eight line workers (ages and genders – three males in their 20s, a male in their 30s, three males in their 40s, a female in their 30s) were infected at the Takaoka Plant in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, Japan. Toyota said it was necessary to suspend operation for one shift due to ‘difficulties in ensuring the safety and security of our employees and in having the necessary personnel for operation’.

Have a nice weekend.

Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor, Just Auto

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