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.