Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Progress-equipped Ioniq sets Bonneville Record for Hybrids

My phone rang and it was Bisi calling...
“Greetings Jeff. How are you today? One of my associates at Hyundai has contacted me, and he has a project that I believe you would be interested in”. So I asked “Can you give me some details?” He replied “No, the information needs to come from Hyundai, as I am not permitted to discuss the project”. I was interested of course, and Bisi had the engineer contact me via email with some general info. We called back and agreed to a non-disclosure, and then learned about a Hyundai factory effort to set a top speed record for hybrid production vehicles. I guessed “World Finals?” which I knew were in October, when the weather and salt conditions were always questionableNo, they were planning to run at Mike Cook’s Landspeed Shootout, an annual FIA-record setting opportunity during September. This way the Bonneville hybrid could be debuted at the SEMA show and announce their new Bonneville speed record… if it all went down according to the game plan. More details followed and a discussion about goals & records, aero & horsepower, as well as vehicle stability, chassis tuning, and super-close timelines. Of course, Bisi was correct. Our production-based Bonneville experience and love of the salt was huge for us. Remember our five-year effort with our 200 mph Civic?

Matt knew about the Progress Civic, and he had some previous experience on the salt with Gale Banks. Sometime during our conversation I knew we were ‘all in’ for this project. Just scratch out a 100mm drop-full-coil-over suspension-system & sway bar, hit the tuning & spring rates sweet spot right out-of-the-gate, nail the timeline, and make our contribution to Hyundia’s hybrid Ioniq top speed effort. Easy right? No, not exactly. So we worked on a plan. Matt would get us a mule car for development right away, because the Bonneville chassis was incomplete, and a work-in-progress. We started work on the Ioniq mule car immediately. Our own salty Ed Flores went-for-it on this project, spec'ing out the configuration on the mule chassis, cycling the suspension and developing a pair of super-short competition struts and a prototype rear sway bar assembly. 
We crunched the numbers & searched up the appropriate race springs and the mule car hit the ground looking very… low. We mounted up the top speed tires and rolled it out of the shop, as we were not permitted to drive it any further. We were immediately struck by it's very mean look, clean and purposeful. It certainly had a Bonneville-ready look. We were so stoked about it all that we texted Matt some pics.

There are plenty of ways a brand-new race car can go wrong, and anyone that has built a new race car knows this all too well. But Matt had more plans, and if we were on time, he could access the very private and very secure Hyundai corporate test track for some controlled shake down passes at triple-digit speeds! Oh yeah, Matt was managing the vehicle preparation and doing the driving as well. Yes, he's a talented engineer and very convincing project manager.

We completed our Progress Competition suspension package on schedule, and Matt's crew completed the race car and the private tests without much communication. Then I heard back, that all went well and they were loading up for the long haul to Bonneville. The Hyundai engineers had completed a full regime of engine and hybrid control mods that were new and unique to the project. Two race-course days passed, and we were wondering how the team was doing. With all the complexities and details of land speed racing a lot can go wrong. I texted Matt during the late evening, hoping he would have some cell or wifi access. This was part of his reply: "Jeff - made great 'progress' (!) today - bumped the record up two more times, did an all-motor 142 average, then did a moderate spray for an 149 average with a 157 exit. Going to hit it harder tomorrow."

Matt and his crew pressed harder the next day and hammered out their outstanding record runs. From the ‘corporate’ press release: “Wendover, Utah, Sept 17, 2016
A race-prepared Hyundai Ioniq hybride prototype, developed by Hyundai Motor America’s Engineering and Quality team, set an FIA-approved production-based hybrid vehicle land speed record of 157.825 mph, with a peak exit speed of 160.7 mph at Utah’s renowned Bonneville Salt Flats. The eco-focused Ioniq is Hyundai’s newest hybrid model, with hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric powertrains to be available. Ioniq hybrid and electric models go on sale in the US in late 2016.”
Success... the FIA record was in Hyundai's hands, and the crew had hit their project goals on their first attempt! The Bonneville Ioniq debut in the Hyundai booth at the 2016 SEMA show had a huge attendance, and the project was unveiled with this video to many clapping hands and cheers all around:
We were fortunate to participate in this timely and relevant OEM project. Our special thanks to Bisimoto and Hyundai for giving us the opportunity to provide our engineering expertise and top speed craft to this exceptional effort. And congratulations to Hyundai Motor America on their first Bonneville record!

You will never forget visiting the vast Bonneville Salt Flats, located in Wendover, Utah.

Record-setting Progress Competition Series Coil-over system for the Ioniq.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Aaron's EG project build, Part 1

At SEMA last year, we were at dinner with Brian & Aaron from and we got around to discussing that ‘long overdue’ list of car projects that we (all) have that need more attention. Aaron Gaghagen mentioned his long-term-but-recently-untouched project EG. “Man I love that thing. We go way back, it was my daily until I started to get paranoid about it getting ripped off. So I added a fuel cutoff, and I found it in the middle of the parking lot when some crook tried to rip me off. Every time I parked it I worried about it…”

Aaron’s EG has a nice B18C (JDM spec) engine with cams, a header & a nice tune. We needed an EG for a development project we were working on at the shop, so Aaron offered up his ride. “It’s been in storage in Chino for over a year” so I offered to pick it up. Hmmm. Aaron forgot to mention the suspension. What suspension? Basically OEM with some waaaay too low springs and some tired Tokico Blues. It’s a CX model, so it has zero factory sway bars.

So how low was it Jeff? Too low to steer without major tire rub, and no air in the tires. So I aired up the tires at the gas station and bounced back to the shop. The engine was plenty willing; VTEC was pulling well. I enjoyed spinning up the VTEC and listening for the ‘grunt’ come on, but the chassis was another story. And the little red ‘brake’ light on the dash was lit up, so I guess I got the bonus package. I drove Aaron’s injured racer back to the shop with a little more caution than usual.

We spoke on the phone about his car and what is project goals were, and Aaron emailed me this:
‘My car will be an all-around fun car that I want to take to the track, mountain back roads and local autocrosses. I want to build a driver’s car that I can drive to the track and have fun pushing the limits, and drive home.’ This sounds awesome, like so many enthusiasts we have corresponded with over our many years in the ‘import’ suspension business. I might even call it a ‘typical’ wish list.

Aaron wants a ‘driver’ that will get him through some track events, and he can practice his driving ‘on the cheap’ at local autocross events. His San Diego area has plenty of autocrossing going on at Qualcomm, etc. If we do our job setting up his suspension, this car will (help) teach him to drive better as well. Our goals are not ‘race stiff and darty’, but rather compliant & fun, forgiving in the corners with some gentle ‘neutral to push’ depending on line, smoothness  and entry speed. We got this one covered! So we selected our CS2 coilover kit with 450#/inch (8.0 kg/mm) springs all the way around. The ‘square’ spring rates (all four the same) help reduce understeer and feel more neutral without worries about ‘a big step’ of oversteer biting your backside. Let’s install the coilovers, set the ride heights, and do a basic wheel alignment.

The front install is super straightforward. We trimmed the new factory-type bump stops per the instructions. The new brake line tab can be seen in the pic, it's the zinc plated tab bolted to the lower clevis, usually called the 'fork'. This keeps the brake line in place so it moves with the damper, and holds it away from all the moving parts.

The install when smoothly, as the EG suspension was in pretty good condition, it even had newish trailing arm bushings. We reused the OEM top hats and reloaded them with the new hardware, assembled the CS2s and hung 'em in place. Note the lower mounting bolt is in the bottom hole in the clevis. Ed touched up the control arms and subframe with a little flat black spray paint for the 'just detailed' look. It's quick and easy, and looks clean.

Aaron aired up the tires to 32# and Ed set the ride heights to 12.0" at all four corners. Setting the ride heights will take a few tries to get it spot-on, so be patient and roll the car out when it comes off the floor jack, and settle it back in before re-measuring as shown. We checked all the camber settings and they were fine. Ed & Aaron adjusted the toe-in at all four corners. Notice the toe plates and two tape measures... simple!

When the car was back on the shop floor, we double checked the alignment settings and torqued the wheels. The 'brake' dash light was on, so we popped off the reservoir cap and the fluid was low. We added some fluid to the reservoir, and the light went out. That was an easy fix... done deal.

Time for a test drive! Having some wheel travel is magic for ride-quality, and the CX had zero tendency to bottom out with this spring and ride height combination. It's fun to drive & plenty sporty for a daily/track car. While we had the CX on the hoist, we noticed the (vintage) aftermarket muffler was right in the way of the rear sway bar location, so Aaron is hunting up another exhaust so we can install the sway bars and set up the corner weights. This will button up Aaron's 'track pack' suspension installation.

Ride heights set to 12.0" front & rear per the instructions.
Aaron emailed me this after his return trip home: ‘Although I was extremely limited by my old tires and traffic, I could already feel more responsiveness from the CS2s. The ride is firm but not too harsh. I can’t wait to have a decent tire and some open road.’Next time, UHP tires, sway bars and a some San Diego back roads...

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