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AutoSpeed Evolves...

More changes to AutoSpeed

by Julian Edgar

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Yes, it’s time to announce another raft of changes. We started back in November last year – less chequebook hero feature cars, more background on car engineering, a hands-on project car (Frank the famous Falcon!) and more reader feedback.

So what’s happening this time? Well we’re pretty excited. First-up is the dropping of my Driving Emotion column.

Whaaat?

No, it’s not disappearing, just becoming a blog where you have an even better opportunity to comment and discuss. And since the blog features every Driving Emotion going back to 2002, there’s already plenty of material to comment on – including some very contentious paragraphs! While the blog contributions will be moderated, we’re happy to see robust discussion. But by the same token, we won’t be publishing personal vilification, comments that don’t contribute to the discussion, or anything potentially defamatory. (Click on 'Blog' in the menu items on the left or click here)

The reader contributions to the blog are just the beginning – expect to see in the near future the facility to comment on every single article. When the comments facility is up and running, we’ll drop the current Response reader feedback column. A weekly ‘letters to the editor’ forum is now outdated and with the facility to comment and give feedback on everything published, we see no need to retain it.

And the editorial content is further changing.

With the proliferation of one-make (and one-model) car websites, I think there’s plenty of stuff around for those who want to see modified versions of their cars – and to know the specifics of individual car modification. If you’re into anything from Ford to Ferrari, from Holden to Hino, you’ll find modified versions on the web.

But what’s a helluva lot harder to find is good technical information.

How current new car engine management systems work. How to weld. How to test your car’s aerodynamics. How to build an electronic boost controller. How to design suspension systems. How to calculate the flow of different diameter pipes. Tomorrow’s turbo technologies. The new high strength metals being used in cars. How cutting edge hybrids and diesels work.

And for beginners, how to use hand tools. How to use taps and dies. Whether it’s worthwhile getting a lathe. The subtleties of spark plugs.

We’ll still run the occasional modified feature vehicle (not necessarily a car!) but they’ll be machines that show innovation and do-it-yourself grit. We’ll also continue to re-publish the best of the articles we’ve featured over the last eight years – an approach that our stats show is overwhelmingly popular with readers.

I’d also like to say something that will shock, disturb and anger some readers. I think that the current local concentration on massive power outputs from hugely heavy modified road cars is fundamentally stupid. Four hundred or five hundred kilowatts in cars weighing near 2 tonnes is dumb in any measure: it’s not something to applaud. It’s dumb in fuel consumption, in consumption of brakes and tyres, and in handling ability. Maybe where innovation and engineering excellence shine through, we might still feature some of these cars. But they will be the exception.

It’s absolutely clear that legal limitations on carbon emissions is going to increasingly drive car technology outcomes over at least the next decade. And if you think that’s bad news for performance cars, you’re simply not thinking outside the box. The torque of electric power in a road car has to be felt to be believed. Diesel turbo engines can provide a fuel economy / performance equation that conventional petrol engine cars can’t match. Regen braking alters the entire braking paradigm. Ultra lightweight, tiny cars have the potential to give fantastic handling, excellent fuel economy and enormous fun.

I’d like us to stay at the cutting edge of that change. We’ll continue to feature hybrid cars and their modification. I’d like to do a lot more on diesel modification too. We’ll also be preparing the ground for a coming wave of mods – for example, a series on how electric motors work wouldn’t go astray.

So standby for greater reader contribution, even more technical content and an environment and technology-aware approach that is as current as we can make it.

Julian Edgar
Editor

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