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 |  Dec 20 2011, 8:03 AM

It’s no secret that Audi is looking to launch a second generation Audi R8 supercar in Spring 2014, a car that it will be lighter and more powerful than the current model.

Besides adopting a multi-material inner structure, which includes carbon fiber for parts such as the transmission tunnel, B-pillars and engine firewall, the new R8 will also feature a 450 horsepower 4.2-liter V8, while the optional V10 motor will be hiked in output to around 550 hp.

There’s also a possibility that in effort to better comply with upcoming fuel economy standards, the V10 will be substituted for a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, similar to that which recently made its debut in the Bentley Continental. In addition, Audi also plans to market a limited run electric version, dubbed the RSe, aimed at buyers who want performance while maintaining a relatively health conscience.

Other features slated to be part of the 2014 R8 include a 7 speed dual-clutch transmission rather than the current 6-speed single clutch unit (no manual gearbox will be offered) a simpler MMI driver interface and variable intensity LED lights. Along with the loss of the stick-shift, Audi is also expected to make a major style change, dropping the trademark sideblades.

A Lamborghini Gallardo cousin will reportedly make its debut slightly ahead of the R8, with a roadster version of the latter due around 2015.

[Source: Car Magazine]

 |  Oct 17 2011, 11:00 PM

Due out in 2014, the next generation Audi R8, will feature an aluminum and carbon fiber architecture in an effort to save weight and help the automaker meet increasingly stringent fuel economy targets.

According to Michael Dick, who heads up Audi’s development arm, the reason for going with a hybrid structure is not only to save weight but also reduce cost. Lamborghini, also part of the VW empire, currently uses a  complete carbon fiber monocoque for its new flagship super car, the Aventador, yet despite the advantages of strength and light weight, the cost of utilizing carbon fiber on a large scale, remains fairly prohibitive, especially on car designed to compete in a lower price segment, like the R8.

Combining both carbon fiber and aluminum seems like a good compromise, plus using both materials in the car’s construction will likely reduce the weight of the R8′s skeleton by some 45 lbs. Weight savings are also planned for the car’s suspension, driveline and bodywork, as Audi seeks to make the next R8 the lightest sports car in the segment.

Given that the rival Porsche 911 is currently some 350 lbs lighter, the folks at Ingolstadt still have a bit of work to do, though if the rumors of a R8 NF lightweight model are to be believed, it’s likely Audi should be able to meet the challenge.

[Source: Motor Authority]

 |  Feb 18 2011, 6:14 PM

Finally, somebody in top brass gets it. When CEO Alan Mulally oversaw the development of the Explorer upon taking charge of Ford in 2006, he ordered engineers to cut weight and improve fuel economy, or kill the Explorer altogether.

“Alan told us we need to truly reinvent the Explorer,” said product development chief Derrick Kuzak. When he presented Mulally with the production-ready Explorer in 2009, he didn’t focus on anticipated sales figures or projected profits: he started with how the team had cut 100 pounds and raised fuel economy by 24 percent, the best in its class.

And by January, the dieting paid off–Explorer sales were up by 73%.

Automotive enthusiasts (and the part of Lotus’s marketing division that doesn’t keep Colin Chapman’s grave spinning at night) have championed this for years. Coming from Ford’s top man, however, puts a little more meaning behind those words. Mulally has ordered that all Fords introduced within the next 10 years must be 250-750 pounds lighter than their predecessors. And as a result, if any vehicle can’t have the best fuel economy in its class, it’s killed off.

“Weight is absolutely critical,” says Mulally, who views weight savings from a fuel economy standpoint. Already a version of the Explorer is being planned with the EcoBoost turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, which may get as much as  29MPG highway. And the Mustang will get the EcoBoost engine as well. So enthusiasts will appreciate this from a performance and handling mindset, but with such an aggressive weight-cutting proposal, everybody wins.

 |  Nov 15 2010, 12:03 PM

With Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards of 30 miles per gallon for light trucks looming ever closer, Ford is looking at ways to meet these targets without sacrificing performance on its bread winning F-series pickups.

One method, hinted by CEO Alan Mullaly is in shaving weight. The current F-150 uses a fully-boxed steel frame, which is strong, but heavy, so for the next generation truck an option being considered is a chassis made from magnesium alloy.

There’s a good deal of logic to this. Magnesium is currently one of the most abundant elements on earth and is 36 percent lighter than aluminum. It’s also being increasingly adopted by automakers, primarily on suspension components and engine blocks, but also body panels. In fact Ford managed to shave some 22 lbs off the Lincoln MKT crossover utility vehicle by using separate aluminum and magnesium panels for the rear lift gate instead of ordinary stamped steel.

Along with the frame, Ford is also exploring the possibilities of using aluminum body panels on the next F-150, though for strength and durability a steel skin will likely remain. As for powertrain options, there’s no official word on what might be offered down the road, though expect a next generation EcoBoost V6 and possibly an inline-five cylinder engine, maybe a turbo diesel.

[Source: Pickuptrucks.com]