MCAD Tech News #2008 Feb, 2007 By: Jeffrey Rowe
The automaker's new powertrain is on the right track for putting electric vehicles into common use
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a story about a concept car I saw in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. That car was the Chevrolet Volt, an electric/gasoline hybrid that I found very interesting. I felt, and feel, that it is too early to write off electric vehicles that can be plugged into an electrical outlet for recharging their batteries in the garage overnight.
Well, a reader took issue with me, saying that the Volt was nothing but a parlor trick and that GM wasn't doing anything for consumers interested in purchasing and driving hybrid vehicles. This week, I want to clarify some issues surrounding the Volt and GM's stance on hybrid vehicles. For the record, although I am from the Detroit area and spend a considerable amount of time there, I am not and never have been an employee of or consultant to General Motors. I'm just an interested observer of the technology.
Admittedly, GM is not alone in its seemingly resurging interest in plug-in hybrids, as Ford, Toyota, Honda and Nissan are also devoting considerable R&D money to them as well, although none of them has yet committed to production. This new generation of plug-in hybrids is decidedly better than those of the past, especially in regards to driving range before a recharge is required. The extended range comes largely from what is called a series hybrid powertrain -- a system with an electric motor that drives the wheels without assistance from an internal combustion engine. Today, the most common powertrain is known as a parallel hybrid system that uses both an electric motor and a gasoline engine to drive the wheels -- the Toyota Prius is an example of this model. Read more>>
By Mike Hudspeth, IDSA
If you model in 3D, you need to rotate, pan and zoom -- a lot. Most programs provide methods for this: middle-mouse-drag, on-screen controls or even your computer's arrow keys. But none are very intuitive or easy to control. A company called 3Dconnexion has a better way. It offers a line of 3D motion controllers that are just about the coolest things going.
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