Hybrids and what they mean in a modern workshop

When it comes to cars the current technical buzzword most used is ‘hybrid’. Auto-Torque looks at the past and future of hybrid vehicles and asks “is this the end of the internal combustion engine?”

The aim of making cars more efficient and less polluting has seen a rise in technology searching, with some car makers favouring internal combustion engines, some looking more and more at
cars solely powered by electricity and some looking at hybrids, where different power sources – effectively more than one engine or motor – provide the propulsion.

While straightforward electric cars have advanced considerably in the past two decades, it’s the internal combustion engine that still reigns supreme. Both petrol and diesel engines are still slugging it out when it comes to the best mixture of power, fuel efficiency and economy – but there is another way.

That other way is the hybrid, where a combination of petrol or diesel engine and electric motors offer both open-road performance and urban fuel efficiency.

It’s all terribly modern, and bang-up-to-date.

Except it isn’t – not by any means. You’ll have to go back more than 100 years to find the Lohner-Porsche mixte hybrid, developed by Ferdinand Porsche. The earliest example used a battery
to power electric motors in each front wheel, while later a petrol engine powered a generator which in turn drove the motors. The design meant there was no need for a gearbox.

Unveiled in 1900 it was hardly the lightweight hybrid you’d find today, the first model tipping the scales at 1.8 tonnes. Much of that weight was attributed to the enormous 80-volt battery.

Lohner-Porsche mixte hybrid… The earliest example used a battery to power electric motors in each front wheel.

Just like today, motor sport was a way of demonstrating new technology and Ferdinand Porsche campaigned his creation in endurance trials and Austrian Land Speed Records, ultimately
reaching a heady 37mph.

Today the principle is very much the same, but there are different hybrid configurations. An internal combustion engine and electric motor is the most common, but different fuel types can be used in the petrol engine – not just petrol or diesel but liquid petroleum gas as well.

How the two power units transmit drive can vary – usually it is one or the other, but the ‘series-parallel’ hybrid sees both power units working at the same time, with some systems seeing a second electric motor working as a continuously variable transmission. These systems are used in the Toyota Prius and several Lexus models, as well as some American Fords.

Ford has been busy advancing petrol engine technology, its EcoBoost engines offering disproportionately large amounts of power when compared with bigger engines. Smallest in the EcoBoost line-up is a 1000cc turbocharged three cylinder available in 101PS and 120-125PS forms, as well as two normallyaspirated versions. Using a traditional iron block and an oilimmersed timing belt, engineers have succeeded in doing away with balance shafts, which might have been expected on a small engine developing so much power.

With the recent VW scandal putting diesel engines back in the media spotlight motorists are looking at petrol engines with fresh eyes, and the three-cylinder Ecoboost offers many drivers the mixture of performance and economy they want.

Matt Neal gains sponsorship from Parts Alliance & Delphi in this season’s BTCC

Delphi Product and Service Solutions has partnered with the Parts Alliance to sponsor Matt Neal, three times winner of the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC).

Neal, who was crowned champion in 2005, 2006 and 2011, finished third last year but hopes to achieve a record-equalling fourth title in 2016. He will again be driving a Honda Civic Type R as part of the Honda Yuasa Racing team. Neal made his BTCC debut at Silverstone in 1991, with 2015 marking his 25th year contesting Britain’s biggest motorsport series. In that time he has participated in 583 races, winning 56 from 15 pole positions. He has finished on the podium 155 times and set 47 fastest laps.

It is Matt’s continued passion for performance and quality, not to mention drive and determination that excites both Delphi and the Parts Alliance. These characteristics are shared by both organisations and make them perfect sponsorship partners for the BTCC legend.

The Parts Alliance is the largest distributor of Delphi parts in the UK automotive aftermarket. Its procurement and product management teams work closely with Delphi to select the best quality parts and get them to market as fast as possible.

Simon Moore, Head of Marketing for Parts Alliance Group, said: “Just like the Parts Alliance, Matt Neal has been on top of his game year after year. He’s one of the country’s most successful drivers in a sport watched by tens of thousands at trackside and millions around the world on TV, including America. The BTCC is extremely demanding. It requires consistent high calibre performance, from driver and car, a quality we look for in the autoparts we sell and which Delphi, as the Parts Alliance’s braking supplier, gives us.”

“We can’t wait for the new season to start and we’ll be backing Matt all the way, hopefully to another championship.”

With a legacy of more than 100 years of OE heritage, Delphi designs and manufactures advanced vehicle components and systems for the top 25 vehicle manufacturers worldwide, and has the resources, reach and original equipment expertise to create real-world innovations for the global aftermarket.

Delphi’s aftermarket parts are essential to the smooth operation of independent garages. Technicians must diagnose problems, order parts, remove and install, and provide satisfaction to their customers. Delphi understands the importance of providing reliable parts for thousands of vehicles, backing up its dedication to quality with expert training and support. Delphi’s Marketing Director EMEA Simone Strimber comments “Our commitment to performance, quality, drive and determination has culminated in the joint sponsorship of one of the country’s most successful drivers.”

The Parts Alliance heads to Automechnika

The Parts Alliance is heading to Birmingham this June to attend the Automechanika 2016 exhibition.  The show’s British debut, at the Birmingham NEC from 7th to 9th June, gives us a fantastic opportunity to reach out and expand our client base.

We’re extending an open invitation to anyone interested in discussing the opportunities available with us, from a possible supplier relationship to joining our family of businesses.

On Wednesday 8 June, 2.20pm, representatives from the Parts Alliance’s network of independent garages and Servicesure Autocentres will deliver ‘Effective Insurance Policies for Workshops.’ This will be a joint presentation, alongside Arthur J Gallagher in the Aftermarket Theatre.

We invite anyone to come and visit us at stand 9F21 and find out the benefits of working with the UK and Ireland’s leading aftermarket distributor.

GSF Banbury receives signage upgrades

GSF Car Parts continues its investment into its branch network, with the Banbury branch of the national motor factor the latest to benefit from a significant signage upgrade.

Located on Marley Way in Banbury, the thriving store now boasts signage illuminated by state-of-the-art LED lighting, which brings the branch up-to-speed with GSF’s current corporate identity too.

In line with GSF’s entire branch network, the Banbury site’s inventory combines top quality original equipment and ‘matching quality’ car parts with day-to-day consumables. It caters to all main vehicle manufacturers, offering both direct deliveries to trade customers and counter sales to DIYers and car enthusiasts.

Commenting on the upgrade, Amanda O’Reilly, Head of Marketing at GSF Car Parts, said: “The improvements to the Banbury store’s signage really helps to put the branch ‘on the map’. GSF is fully committed to making similar levels of investment in branches up and down the country to make sure that they all reflect the current corporate image.”

The motor factor says that despite the significant financial outlay required to transition to LED lighting, running costs will be dramatically reduced, with lower power consumption and no more costly tube replacements either.

Servicesure launches new website

As part of the Parts Alliance’s investment in marketing the UK’s fastest growing garage network, the new much improved Servicesure Autocentre website is now live. The network has also ‘gone social’, being launched on a variety of social media platforms.

Together this is us supercharging the way we communicate with the garages who are our members and with the motorists who are their customers.

The new design puts the consumer experience first; the website is much more motorist friendly, easy to move around and packed with helpful features and interesting information.

With Servicesure now on Facebook and Twitter, we and our garages can really engage consumers and have a two-way conversation with them, moving us on from just being a booking platform.

Features on www.servicesureautocentres.com, which is mobile and tablet compatible, include Find a Garage, get a quote, book a service, customer reviews, news, details about the Servicesure National Warranty, videos and offers. There’s also a text reminder service for MOTs and other garage visits.

  • Complete redesign – it’s been given a more modern ‘look and feel’, with new content catering for the driving public, garage members and prospects.
  • Advanced megadrop menu – for enhanced navigation and accessibility to new content. Helping website visitors on their customer journeys.
  • Extended website functionality – including an Internal User Review system, allowing visitors to submit reviews directly through the website (via a moderation facility).
  • Enhanced garage profile page – now includes a new About Us section and an image of the garage, the facility for the garages to edit their own details (such as services offered, About Us etc), moderated reviews (via the website, not Motor Codes) and displaying Motor Codes reviews within a widget and a facility for visitors to submit their reviews to Motor Codes.
  • Find a garage – with opening times, the location and website address.

Through the website and social channels we are really well placed to remind drivers this is a national group with a national guarantee that delivers the highest standards of customer service. It’s Servicesure taking a lead in bringing consumers and garages closer together, developing trust and loyalty between the two.

Parts Alliance CEO shortlisted for entrepreneur award

We’re delighted to announce that Peter Sephton, Chief Executive Officer of Parts Alliance Group has been shortlisted as a finalist for the prestigious 2016 EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.  The awards are in their 30th year globally, with this being the 18th in the UK, and run through over 60 countries and 145 cities worldwide, honouring those leading a successful, growing and dynamic business.

Peter is one of 34 leaders from businesses across the Midlands who’ll compete in the regional final, taking place on Tuesday June 14th at Birmingham Council House. If successful he’ll join winners from Scotland, the North of England, London and the South, contesting for the overall UK title in London in October.

Peter joined Parts Alliance in 2013, under his leadership the business has grown by 300% over the past three years. He’s helped shape us into a UK market leader in the supply of car parts for all makes of cars.

The EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award is widely acknowledged as a premier benchmark of business success. We’re extremely proud of Peter and wish him the best of luck.