SAAB AND AUDI GET A SWIFT KICK.
For high-performance technology, Saab and Audi drew the most attention. The Viggen, a modified Saab 9-3, takes its name from the fighter jet also produced by the company. Its turbocharged four-cylinder cranks out 225 horsepower and is equipped with oil-cooled pistons and special heat-resistant Nimonic alloy exhaust valves. Aggressive aerodynamic modifications not only reduce rear lift by 60 percent, but also lower overall drag by 8 percent, to an impressive 0.31 Cd. In other powerful news, Audi showed its twin-turbo, 250-hp S4 sedan and broadened the A6 lineup with the 4.2-liter eight-cylinder engine from the flagship A8. An S6 sports sedan has yet to meet approval with Audi execs, a spokesman revealed.
GM CLEANS UP THE CROSS-TOWN BUS.
With all the hybrid hubbub in Detroit and DaimlerChrysler's NECAR 4 debut just weeks before, there was a relative dearth of green technology in New York. One notable exception was GM's announcement of its Hybrid Bus Demonstration Project. Allison Electric Drives, a GM division, has retrofitted a New York City bus with an advanced hybrid-electric drive system. With its ability to recover energy during braking, the bus is perfectly suited to the stop-and-go duty cycle. Using a low-sulfur diesel fuel provided by BP Amoco, the bus is reported to have 70 percent lower emissions, 40 percent lower fuel consumption, and better acceleration than the standard city bus. Plans for heavy-duty hybrid trucks used in stop-and-go applications such as trash collection are also in the works.
COMPETITION KEEPS FUTURE TECHNICIANS ON THEIR TOES.
While record sales were announced at press conferences on the main show floors, records for speedy, accurate auto repair were being set in the basement. The seventh annual Automotive Technology Competition pitted the nation's best high-school-age vocational students against one another. Each year, teams from around the nation are faced with the challenge of diagnosing and repairing carefully planted "bugs" on today's modern vehicles, with each successful repair earning points toward a final score. Along with the hands-on test, there is a challenging written exam that covers the details of advanced electronics and other automotive systems. In the future, these students may repair your car — or even some of the very technologies featured this year at the New York International Auto Show.