Sunday 18 February 2018

Shortcuts with Eddie: Japanese working on wooden material that could replace steel parts in vehicles

Shortcuts with Eddie

Lexus LC500
Lexus LC500
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

I checked the calendar, it's not April Fool's Day so it's probably okay to report that researchers in Japan are working to create a super-strong material out of wood pulp that could replace steel parts in vehicles. And it could do so within a decade. The researchers at Kyoto University say a material derived from wood pulp could be as strong as steel yet 80pc lighter.

Work with plastics is advanced too - to such an extent they are hopeful the substance could replace metal for parts near the engine, such is its ability to withstand high temperatures.

It's all part of a big drive to reduce vehicle weight and reduce emissions. It is reckoned a 10pc reduction in a car's weight can improve fuel economy by up to 8pc.

Meanwhile...

* Delighted to report that 15 new full-time jobs are being created in Galway by Connolly Motor Group, which has just been appointed main dealer for Mercedes passenger cars in the area.

That brings the group's total workforce in Galway to more than 50. The company is currently recruiting to fill the new positions.

Connolly's Mercedes-Benz will open in Briarhill, Ballybrit, at the end of the month. Our best wishes to all concerned.

* Don't write off diesel yet. The fuel's share of the European market may have fallen to 46.3pc of new-car registrations in the first half of the year. It is the first time since 2009 that it was outstripped by petrol. But at the same time hpi in the UK are reporting that diesel sales are going strong. I keep saying it - clean diesel cars have a major say in what we drive for a long time yet. Let's not panic or be panicked.

* Voice control - where you can utter commands verbally - is one of the safest items you can have in your car, I firmly believe, as it can significantly reduce distraction. So long as the blinking system picks you up properly and doesn't misinterpret what you order, it can be a great asset.

Now I see Volkswagen and Skoda are to get Amazon Alexa voice control as part of their techno push. Here's to it being in more and more cars at lower-trim levels.

* Toyota is coming up with 90pc of the investment for their joint venture with Mazda for electric vehicles.

* Congratulations to Denis & Mary Ryan Car Sales, Bishopstown, Co Cork, who have been named Citroën & DS Automobiles Dealer of the Year. Appointed to the network in 1991, the outlet is the longest serving Citroën dealership in Ireland.

* Imagine your car and vacuum cleaner could both bear the same name - Dyson - by 2020. As you probably know, inventor James Dyson has confirmed his company is to build an electric car. I can't resist the pun: will it hoover up sales?

There are more sceptics than optimists on that question at this stage, I think, despite a 400-strong team behind the project in which Dyson is committed to investing £2bn. He promises that the vehicle will be "radically different".

* Among 11 production models at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show, Lexus are promising the world premiere of a new concept car. Look forward to that because their concepts, sometimes outrageously designed, have a habit of retaining a lot of the concept verve. Just look at the LC500 (pictured above).

Indo Motoring

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