Nerd’s Eye View: LA Auto Show Part 2 – Cars & Stuff

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Do you see the guy there in the blue jacket? Yeah, he’s the guy who created Gran Turismo. I drove that chrome car in the GT6 simulator there over on the left. It took a little getting used to it as the engine is relatively low revving and it has a lower engine tone than I’m used to (Project S2000), so I bounced off the rev limiter a bit during the first lap.
Here is some pedal power in the Smart booth for the city dwellers. It uses a belt drive for quiet and clean power transmission. Along with the belt guard, there’s no getting your pants dirty on the way to work.
The Smart bicycle is a bit of a cheater bicycle with an electric motor in the rear hub. I do like the rear disc brake setup, but why do they have to use Torx head screws on everything?!  I hate those…
The big stars in the BMW booth were the i3 and i8 electric vehicles.
Popping the hood on the i3 reveals a small storage compartment. That was a bit of a buzzkill.  Underneath the plastic are some of the mechanical and electrical bits.
BMW had a fleet of these i3s zipping around outside the convention center giving free rides to people. I was chatting with Tommy Kendall (super nice guy and boy is he tall) on the corner of Pico and Figueroa when a pair whisked by. My buddy Joe Essien snagged this picture for me at the command center for the free rides. One of the big deals about the i3 and i8 are their very extensive use of carbon fiber, carbon fiber that BMW produces itself. One of the main paths towards reduced fuel consumption is reduced weight, and BMW has hedged its bet on carbon fiber. On a slight tangent, Audi has been touting its high use of aluminum for mass reduction starting around 5 years ago with the Audi TT. The new C7 Corvette also talks about the high use of aluminum in the chassis. Anyway, at the volumes BMW projected to be using the carbon fiber stuff, they decided to make it themselves. Notice the i3 tub doesn’t have the weave we typically associate with carbon fiber. Well, that’s because BMW is using a different process. I’m guessing all those big airliners and military aircraft constructed of carbon fiber look more like this than your typical consumer automotive carbon fiber weave. There’s a ton of info on BMW going with carbon fiber and how they make it, but I’ll drop an interesting tidbit here. Making carbon fiber is energy intensive, so one of the main plants BMW uses to make carbon fiber is located in the state of Washington where the plant gets renewable and cheaper hydroelectric power. There’s a lot to love about that!

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