Friday, December 4, 2009

Honda 'Personal-Neo Urban Transport' Concept Demonstrates Potential

For Ultra-compact City-focused Vehicle
Small car maximizes style and amenities

The Honda Personal-Neo Urban Transport (P-NUT) design study model demonstrates a futuristic concept for an ultra-compact and sophisticated city coupe, American Honda Motor Co., Inc., announced at the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show.

Conceived around a small "footprint" for maximum convenience in tight urban settings, the packaging concept integrates a center driving position configuration and a rear powertrain layout. The exterior styling leverages crisp angles with dynamic flowing lines that originate from the front of the vehicle and span outward toward the rear. The end result is a sleek and aggressive exterior that also allows for a spacious and open interior with excellent visibility.

"A new generation is discovering the benefits of living in urban centers that provide convenient access to business, entertainment and social opportunities," said Dave Marek, director of advanced design for Honda R&D Americas, Inc. "The Personal-Neo Urban Transport concept explores the packaging and design potential for a vehicle conceived exclusively around the city lifestyle."

The exterior styling is intended to capture a future direction for premium sophistication while balancing the need for maximum interior space and an aerodynamic appearance. The interior layout, in conjunction with the rear powertrain design, contributes prominently to the exterior's overall shape.

The layout of the interior space, with its center driving position flanked by two rear seats, provides generous legroom for all occupants, roughly the equivalent of a mid-sized sedan in a vehicle that has an exterior footprint similar to a micro car. Interior functionality is increased by rear seating areas that fold up and out of the way to increase storage capacity. The windshield serves as a heads-up display for the navigation system and the back-up camera.

The modular rear engine bay, depicted on the exterior by blue composite material, is designed to accommodate a wide variety of potential propulsion technologies including a conventional small displacement internal combustion engine, a hybrid gasoline-electric powertrain, or a battery-electric powertrain.

"The objective of the exterior and interior designers was to explore the potential for a new type of small-segment-category vehicle that overcomes many of the objections for existing micro-car designs," said Marek. "While the Honda P-NUT concept introduces function-oriented concepts, it also shows that small cars don't have to compromise on style or amenities."

The Advanced Design Studio of Honda R&D Americas, Inc. in Los Angeles developed the P-NUT design study model. Honda R&D Americas began its operations in California in 1975 with local market research activities and has steadily grown its capabilities over the past 33 years to include all aspects of new vehicle research, design and development. Recent Honda-brand efforts include trend-setting products such as the Pilot, Ridgeline, Element, Civic Coupe and Civic Si Coupe.

Size class: Ultra-compact
Layout: Rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive
Passengers: 3
Length: 3,400 mm
Width: 1,750 mm
Height: 1,439 mm
Powertrain: Internal-combustion engine, hybrid-electric or battery-electric

Lexus LFA Genesis of a SUPERCAR

The spectacular LFA makes its global debut at the 41st Tokyo International Motor Show. This is the result of a project to develop a supreme supercar.

Painstakingly created from a blank canvas by an elite team of Lexus engineers, the LFA is a supercar unlike any other. By pushing every boundary in its development, the LFA redefines the 21st Century supercar. Dynamic and exhilarating, the LFA delivers an ultimate driving experience.

A prototype LFA was tested at the Nürburgring as early as 2004, with the first design study unveiled in Detroit in 2005. Lexus entered the LFA into the Nürburgring 24 hours race in 2008 and 2009 – to push the LFA as hard as possible under the most testing of conditions.


The LFA employs a unique Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) body to achieve exceptional integrity and light-weight construction.

A trio of sophisticated CFRP moldings comprise 65% of the cabin by weight, yielding a low 1485kg curb weight.

Pursuit of new CFRP technology internally results in an advanced new joining process for CFRP and metal alloys.

Internal development means this world-class CFRP technology is primed for future mass production in other Lexus models.

Keeping the car’s overall weight to a minimum was a fundamental requirement. So early in the development process, the team switched from aluminum construction to an advanced Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) body, yielding a weight saving of 100kg (220lbs).

In total, CFRP represents 65% of the cabin structure with aluminum alloy braces supporting the engine and suspension, representing the remainder. Within the LFA structural design, three different CFRP molding processes were used:


Prepreg is a hand-laid process, employing carbon fiber sheets impregnated with thermosetting resin. It creates an extremely stiff and stable structure. It is primarily used to form the main cabin frame.

Resin Transfer Molding (RTM)

RTM uses pre-formed carbon fiber components, which are later impregnated with thermosetting resin. It is used on the transmission tunnel, floor panel, roof, and hood.

Carbon Fiber Reinforced Sheet Molding Compound (C-SMC)

C-SMC uses short carbon fibers pressed into a die. It is used on the C-pillar and the rear floor.

A unique CFRP cabin with aluminum alloy extensions to cradle the engine and suspension

Utilizing CFRP is a rare approach to performance vehicle construction, but what further distinguishes the LFA approach, was the decision to develop the sophisticated CFRP structure entirely in-house. An example of the benefit of this approach was the development of an automated weaving process with laser thread sensors that ensures fabric integrity along with dramatic production-time savings.

A highly sophisticated three-dimensional carbon fiber loom was developed specifically for the LFA program

The LFA team also developed an advanced joining technology to bond carbon fiber and metal components. Conventional joining processes use a threaded aluminum insert that is wrapped in the CFRP. However, the LFA uses an innovative system that required no insert or direct CFRP contact by employing a flanged aluminum collar to link the two materials, overcoming inherent weaknesses in such joints.

CFRP components are attached to metal with an innovative design that requires no threaded inserts.

Developing the CFRP technology completely in-house now allows Lexus the unique opportunity to deploy this dramatic weight savings technology to future Lexus models.


Breathtaking performance from a purpose-built, all new 4.8L V10 engine.
Incredibly responsive design able to rev from idle to its 9000rpm redline in 0.6 seconds.

Low friction, motor-sport developed components push max power and torque to 412kW (560PS) at 8700rpm and 480Nm at 6800rpm.

Compact design as small as a traditional V8 with the weight of a typical V6, generating 85.7 kW per liter.

Extreme power combined with ultra light weight rockets the LFA to 100km/h (62 mph) in just 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 325 km/h (202 mph).

Drawing on racing experience from the grueling Nurburgring 24 Hour race in Germany, the LFA development team equipped the LFA with a track-oriented bespoke V10 engine that sets new standards for compact dimensions, lightweight architecture and scintillating performance. The purpose-built 1LR-GUE engine uses a wide 72° angle between cylinder heads for perfect primary and secondary balance and adopts exotic light-weight materials, including titanium valves and connecting rods, forged aluminum pistons and Diamond-Like Carbon Silicon coated rocker arms. Naturally aspirated induction comes from 10 individual, electronically controlled throttle bodies that provide very linear and predictable power delivery. This advanced design estimates intake volume based on throttle pedal angle, thereby calculating fuel injection volume based directly on driver input, giving an instantaneous response.

Delivering heart-pounding acceleration with surgical precision

In addition, a fully integrated crankcase with paired cylinder valleys is used to minimize pumping loss. All said, the LFA’s low-friction program and high-response induction system allows the powerplant to reach an astounding rev limit of 9000rpm in a mere 0.6 seconds from idle. In fact, this level of responsiveness necessitates the use of a digital rev counter where a conventional analogue unit simply cannot keep pace with the engine.

The LFA V10 also features a dry sump lubrication system that not only positions the block deep within the engine bay to lower the center of gravity, but enables the engine to handle sustained, high-speed cornering in excess of 2G.

Dry sump lubrication for compact design and sustained lubrication at cornering speeds

The resulting powerplant is like no other, while the LFA’s V10 is as small as a traditional V8, it is as light as a conventional V6. Maximum power and torque comes in at 412kW (560PS) at 8700rpm and 480Nm at 6800rpm respectively. When combined with the low LFA curb weight and advanced aerodynamic design, this is enough to propel the LFA to 100km/h in just 3.7 seconds and to a top speed of 325km/h.

This groundbreaking engine was developed in conjunction with Yamaha; the result of a long-standing collaborative structure that exists between Lexus and the Japanese engineering specialist.


The LFA V10 has been acoustically tuned to deliver a unique and dramatic Formula-1 inspired sound.
Horizontally split intake surge tank with acoustically designed walls emits optimal induction frequencies.
Tuned large diameter, equal length exhaust manifolds run through a titanium dual stage rear silencer.
Three acoustically optimized sound channels fill the cabin with rich intake and exhaust sounds.

By emphasizing the secondary combustion frequency of the LFA’s engine and then introducing primary, secondary and tertiary firing harmonics, Tanahashi-san and his team created a signature exhaust note unlike that of any other road car and called it ‘Octave Harmony’. This significantly enhanced the sensation of acceleration and speed, and was made possible by meticulously tuning the LFA’s multi-stage exhaust system.

An essential component responsible for generating the engine’s tone the surge tank, has been carefully tuned to achieve optimal acoustics. Borrowing from the design of an actual musical instrument, the sides have been made rigid and horizontal ribs have been added at the forward half to obtain a more powerful induction sound.

A surge tank engineered to bring out the best of an engine’s chorus

After combustion, exhaust exits the engine’s left and right banks through separate equal-length, large diameter exhaust manifolds that not only enhance torque levels, but also create a crisp sound quality. After passing through the catalytic converters, the dual exhausts flow through twin sub-mufflers and then meet at the rear of the vehicle in a multi-stage titanium silencer positioned behind the rear-mounted gearbox.

Equal length exhaust system layout delivers high power and realizes a clear, high quality sound.

The titanium rear silencer incorporates a valve-actuated structure that channels exhaust flow according to engine speed. At 3000rpm and below, the valve remains closed to route exhaust through multiple chambers, ensuring the exhaust note remains civilized. Above 3000 rpm, the valve opens to allow exhaust to pass through a single chamber and enter the world in the form of a hi-octane soprano.

The engine’s induction and exhaust sounds are carefully channeled into the LFA’s cabin. The main channel runs from the surge tank into the cabin below the main dash panel. This is complemented by two further channels- one at the upper cowl opening and the other at the lower reflector. These sound channels ensure the driver sits at the centre of a 3-D surround sound theatre of engine performance.


Lightning-quick six-speed Automated Sequential Gearbox (ASG) that always puts the driver in full control.

Unique paddle-shift feeling, with choice of seven gearshift speeds.

Transaxle layout over the rear axle results in exceptional cornering agility and high-speed controllability.

Ultra-quick upshifts as quick as 200 milliseconds complemented by computer-controlled rev-matching downshifts.

Four driving modes—Auto, Sport, Normal, and Wet for ultimate versatility.

Going beyond 200 mph requires a gearbox that provides a relentless torrent of acceleration that can be delivered in an instant. The Automated Sequential Gearbox (ASG) accommodates the engine’s wide powerband while remaining lightweight and compact. Operated by steering column-mounted paddle shifters, the ASG works hand-in glove with the engine to put the driver in full control even under the most extreme conditions.

A gearbox to complement the high-performance V10 engine

The LFA’s strong drive-centric focus is encapsulated by the paddle-shifter function. The force necessary to operate the right-hand upshift paddle and left-hand downshift paddle is different. Upshifts require only the slightest flick of the fingers while downshifts require more effort to enhance the mechanical link between driver and transmission.

The six-speed ASG drives the rear wheels through a torque-sensing limited slip differential and is mounted in a transaxle configuration over the rear axle to help achieve optimal vehicle weight distribution. Fitted with micro-polished gears for precise gearshifts and to reduce gear whine, this intelligent transmission has seven driver-selectable upshift speeds – each with a distinctly different driving engagement feel. Upshifts can be executed in a mere 200 milliseconds while downshifts are accompanied by speed-matching throttle blips to provide ultimate controllability. In addition, the ASG offers four driving modes: Auto, Sport, Normal, and Wet. Each mode has its own shift programming along with distinct engine and brake control logic systems.


Mid-front engine mounting with a rear transaxle layout delivers the ideal 48:52 front-to-rear weight distribution vital for optimal dynamic balance.
The front engine and rear transaxle are connected through a rigid torque tube, creating a flex free link between engine and transmission – a crucial element in the ultra-stiff and balanced chassis construction.
All major ancillary components are weight-optimised and located within the wheelbase to minimize the moment of inertia and maximize agility.

“With the LFA it is always the driver that takes the lead,” says Chief Engineer Haruhiko Tanahashi, “and the vehicle follows.” Before embarking on the LFA program, Tanahashi-san and his development team were acutely aware that the car’s fundamental architecture would determine its dynamic capability.

While many believe that a 50:50 weight distribution is the most desirable for a high-performance sports car, the perfect weight ratio is actually the one that will allow the vehicle to live up to its full dynamic potential. With this in mind, the LFA development aimed for a 48:52 weight distribution. To realize this ideal front/rear weight distribution and a highly rigid construction, the LFA adopts a front midship engine/rear transaxle layout. This configuration also combines the controllability and straight line stability of a front engined rear-drive layout with the handling and cornering agility of a mid-engined rear-drive platform.

The V10 engine and six-speed ASG transaxle are connected by a rigid torque tube. This solid joint effectively manages longitudinal powertrain movement from torque fluctuations and helps keep the vehicle body flat when cornering.

Front engine and rear transaxle achieves optimal 48:52 weight distribution

Wherever possible, key components were installed within the wheelbase and positioned as low as possible. The fuel tank is saddle-shaped to straddle the central tunnel and collars the rear transaxle. Similarly, the aluminum brake calipers are positioned toward the vehicle’s centre of gravity while the discs themselves are constructed from low weight Carbon Ceramic Material (CCM), saving a full 20kg (44lbs) over traditional steel discs.

Both radiators and electric fans are housed within the rear overhang

Oil and water pumps are mounted down low and towards the rear.


A unique double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension layout with aluminum alloy construction ensures high agility and low weight.
Bespoke remote-reservoir monotube shocks direct from the LFA racecar.
Forged aluminum knuckles and hollow anti-roll bars further reduce unsprung weight.
20-inch forged aluminum wheels shod with bespoke asymmetric Bridgestone tires: 265/35ZR20 at the front and 305/30ZR20 at the rear.
Two-piece Carbon Ceramic Material (CCM) brake discs with six-piston calipers up front and four-piston calipers in the rear for rock steady braking even at 325km/h.
Full floating disc construction negates high-temperature expansion.

The LFA rides on a high-performance, double wishbone front and multilink rear suspension layout. Developed after extensive work at the Nürburgring Nordschleife, it delivers vital steering and chassis feedback to the driver, perfectly balancing on-the-limit capability, exceptional levels of grip and secure high-speed stability.

Developed exclusively for the LFA for their uncompromised straight-line and cornering dampening force at any speed, the dampers feature piston rods coated in a diamond-like carbon compound and nickel-silicon plated cylinder walls for exceptional, friction-free response. The remote reservoir cylinders employ expanding and contracting metal bellows that are connected to the main cylinder via base valves.

Unique double wishbone front suspension provides planted and stable control

Focused on lowering weight wherever possible, the suspension features forged aluminum knuckles and suspension arms along with hollow anti roll bars to reduce unsprung weight. Borne out of the LFA’s Nurburgring 24 Hour races, the LFA adopts cross bracing along the bottom of the chassis structure to ensure an extra rigid platform capable of extreme G force. The front and rear cross bracings are connected by a lattice-style central brace. These bracings are complemented by a CFRP performance rod and aluminum delta brace at the chassis’s front.

While the LFA development car that competed in the 2008 and 2009 Nürburgring 24 Hour races used conventional steel brake discs, the production LFA uses advanced Carbon Ceramic Material (CC M) brake discs. Each CC M disc is 5kg lighter than the previous steel discs and significantly reduces unsprung weight to the benefit of steering precision and dynamic agility. Compared to conventional steel brake discs, CC M discs also deliver exceptional fade-free braking for confidence-inspiring performance.

Those at the front measure 390mm in diameter and are gripped by six-piston aluminum opposed monoblock calipers, while the rear measures 360mm in diameter and gripped by four-piston aluminum opposed monoblock calipers. To further ensure stopping power regardless of brake temperature, the discs are gripped by Lexus-engineered high-friction micron pads. The brakes also utilize a full floating disc design that allows disc deformation at high temperatures to be more readily absorbed and yielding a 20% improvement in cooling efficiency.

To complete the rolling architecture, LFA rides on 20-inch forged aluminum BBS wheels and are shod with bespoke asymmetric Bridgestone tires. 265/35ZR20 up front and 305/30ZR20 out back.


A high-performance cockpit design that provides a unique supercar experience.

Hooded instrument panel yielding an exceptionally high level of driver information.

Central tachometer featuring a Thin Film Transistor (TFT) Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) panel and motor-driven movable ring provides supercar exhilaration and Lexus sophistication.

Ultra high quality hand-finished cabin trim reflect premium supercar character and refinement synonymous with Lexus.

Opening the LFA doors reveals a dramatic low-slung cockpit that has been hand assembled with the finest materials to reflect the car’s driver centric dynamics. A sophisticated instrumentation interface brings driver and machine together for a true supercar experience. The advanced technology of the LFA’s instrument panel enables it to deliver an exceptionally high level of information to the driver in a clear and logical manner. It combines a Liquid Crystal Display panel with a color Thin Film Transistor and a motor-driven movable ring. The acrylic lens in the metal ring is composed of multiple layers to create an advanced, three-dimensional appearance, and the overall appearance of the meter changes according to the vehicle’s mode.

The single central circular dial takes centre stage and combines Lexus sophistication with the cutting edge precision befitting a 325km/h supercar. The central tachometer runs to 10,000rpm and features a fast reacting LCD needle designed to exactly replicate the V10 engine’s insatiable appetite for revs. Housed within the dial are the digital speedometer, gear indicator, transmission mode, vehicle control data, trip information displays and Tire Pressure Warning System display.

The raised centre console that divides the cabin houses the seven-inch integrated display screen as well as the controls for climate and infotainment. It is coated in satin metal accents and leather and complemented by 10 matte black buttons running down the console’s flanks. The LFA also features the innovative Remote Touch system, located precisely where the driver’s hand falls for optimal control and ease of operation. This multi-function control device operates on the same basic principles as a computer mouse and its on-screen cursor provides quick access to the LFA’s satellite navigation, configuration, and infotainment functions.

The LFA’s leather wrapped seats are orthopedically designed with a split rear backrest, pronounced side bolsters and eight-way electric adjustment. The seats are positioned at the centre of the vehicle’s wheelbase and laterally as close to the car’s centre as possible. This configuration allows the driver to feel and respond intuitively to changes in the vehicle’s behavior.

The cabin trim uses soft hand-finished leather or Alcantara with accent stitching complemented by both matte and glossy CFRP and satin metal accents. An expansive filet of matte-coated carbon fiber sits below the windscreen to reduce reflected sunlight, while glossy coated carbon fiber flanks the centre centre console and is used on the steering wheel and door panels. Naturally, LFA owners will be able to choose from a wide selection of textures and hues to truly personalize their cabin. In addition, each LFA has comprehensive equipment levels that include dual zone climate control, Hard Disc Drive satellite navigation* and a standard 12-speaker lightweight high-output audio system that employs high efficiency speakers with Lexus First Class D amplifiers. Also available is a Mark Levinson 12-speaker Premium Sound System custom designed for the unique LFA cabin acoustics.

Navigation function not available in all markets


Clean, muscular and athletic, the LFA combines supercar styling with the Lexus L-finesse design philosophy into one cohesive form.
A low drag coefficient of just Cd 0.31
Flat underbody and speed-activated rear wing with a Gurney flap on the trailing edge yield exceptional downforce to keep the LFA planted at high-speeds

Sleek, athletic and muscular, the low-slung LFA coupe exudes super style from every curve and angle. Despite its mould-breaking styling, the LFA can immediately be identified as a Lexus through adherence to the Lexus L-finesse design philosophy. Rooted deeply in both traditional and modern Japanese culture, L-finesse expresses three fundamental elements: “Incisive Simplicity “ or purity, “Intriguing Elegance” of emotional appeal, and Seamless Anticipation of the experience and care of Japanese hospitality.

The LFA’s coherent lines flow from roof to sill in a seamless convex to concave line. With its low weight and high strength, Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) the LFA designers had a higher degree of design freedom, allowing them to create shapes, curves and edges that would have been impossible with metal. For example, the sharp trailing edges at the rear of the LFA would not have been possible had traditional metal been used for the bodywork.

The LFA’s sleek shape is the work of hundreds of hours of wind-tunnel testing and relentless computer modeling using powerful Computational Fluid Dynamics programming. The result is a supercar with both head-turning looks and extraordinary aerodynamic qualities that deliver superb high-speed stability and a wind-cheating profile. With its wing retracted the LFA boasts a drag coefficient of just Cd 0.31.
Optimally shaped aerodynamic components designed to precisely manage airflow, under and around the LFA, are effectively positioned throughout the body. For example, at the front, a centrally positioned inlet is fitted with rubber seals at the side to prevent excessive airflow into the engine compartment. Also, at the point the A-pillar meets the windscreen, the LFA is fitted with small turbulence-reducing fins to enhance both straight-line and cross-wind stability. The active rear wing, complete with a Gurney flap on the trailing edge, deploys according to vehicle speed. It is retracted at low speeds, but rises at speeds of 80km/h to provide down force and stability. In addition, the LFA has a completely flat underbody engineered to create strong downforce. The speed of air flow under the vehicle is comparatively faster than the airflow over the vehicle, creating a strong pressure differential that effectively sucks the vehicle to the road.


Central heat tunnel running the full length of the chassis to extract power-robbing latent heat
Large twin rear-mounted radiators and a high capacity low-mount centrifugal water pump provide exceptional powerplant cooling.
Large functional air ducts to cool brakes allow for sustainable braking power.

For a supercar to be truly track ready, it must have the ability to manage the massive heat build up that occurs throughout the vehicle. Left unchecked, the heat levels generated from mechanical and aerodynamic friction can severely diminish power output or cause complete functional breakdown altogether. In the world of performance car engineering, a great deal of attention is usually given to the typical hot spots such as the engine and brakes, however, exhaust systems and electronic systems must be equally protected to ensure high endurance and dependability. The LFA development team tackled this challenge with a comprehensive solution in mind. One of the key mechanisms was the adoption of a large heat tunnel that runs from the front of the chassis, down the central spine of the body, and out the rear of the vehicle via twin heat ports below the tail lamps.

For maximum engine cooling while supporting optimum dynamic balance, twin radiators are mounted at the rear, pulling in air directly from the large inlets mounted above the rear wheels. In addition, a large capacity centrifugal water pump is mounted low on the engine and feeds the radiators through large light-weight aluminum plumbing. This is complemented by a large, liquid-cooled oil cooler inside the V-bank water tank, wrapped in thermally conductive sheets to provide efficient and consistent lubrication cooling.

A cooling system to provide dynamic balance and high-performance cooling.

Brake cooling is also crucial when driving on a circuit. The front brakes are fed cold air from ducts located in the front bumper as well as in the under covers in order to keep them cool. Keeping brake temperatures in check prevents brake fade and enables consistent and confident brake feel, even in punishing conditions.


Each LFA is hand built by a team of skilled craftsmen
In keeping with the LFA’s bespoke nature, each V10 engine will be hand-assembled by a single engineer and will bear his signature.
Each LFA is affixed with a special placard showing it’s sequence number among the 500 units to be built.

The LFA team is no ordinary group. It is a team staffed by talented engineers and craftsmen – all sharing the passion for high performance driving and unconventional engineering methods. This small and prestigious team led by Chief Engineer Haruhiko Tanahashi have steered the LFA program from concept, to design, to engineering, to manufacturing – all the way creating completely new methods that would ensure that the LFA was sensational and distinct. One of the areas the team closely examined was the way of assembly. Their goal was to ensure a process that not only created peerless build quality, but one that would be sure to inject each LFA with the passion and DNA that the LFA program was based on. This is an assembly process that only hand craftsmanship could fulfill.

Starting from December 2010 at the LFA Works facility at the Motomachi manufacturing plant in Toyota City, Japan, each LFA will be hand-built by a team of highly skilled craftsmen. LFA will therefore be produced at a maximum rate of only 20 per month. In addition, the heart of each LFA, the bespoke 4.8L V10 engine, will be assembled by a single engineer and a metallic label bearing his signature will be attached to the left cylinder head of each engine. Finally, upon completion of each LFA’s assembly and functional check, each unit will be affixed its own placard indicating its unique build sequence among the very limited 500 units that will ever be produced.