Technology that works

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July 26, 2016 12:00 AM

Years ago I worked for Kia Motors in Niagara Falls Ontario.
I was never really into working for dealerships because I didn’t like the way they paid technicians.
You’d be paid based on the number of jobs you did, meaning unless somebody’s car was broken, you made no money even though you showed up for work.
Getting in on the ground level in a place like that was challenging as well since the administration didn’t know you, and the work that came in across the service advisors desk tended to be directed to their favorite technician. After a while I suppose I did alright.
I demonstrated I do have a work ethic, and I made a reasonable amount of hours performing the scheduled maintenance and warranty work.
As uncomfortable with the structure as I was, I was pleased when the management decided to send me to Kia school in Mississauga, Ont. to be certified to work on and service the Kia Optima Hybrid.
There is a reason you don’t see any of these.
They were absolute rubbish in cold climates.
Batteries needed to be warm, as do electric motors, to perform efficiently.
In fact, lithium ion batteries refuse to take a charge when cold, rendering the car void of any hybrid electric benefit.
I was disappointed because I love the idea of the hybrid, purely from a nerd standpoint.
It’s been almost a decade since that time, and it looks as if the whiz kids at GM have a good idea for the midsize Malibu platform.
They’ll be using an 1.8L gas engine in conjunction with two electric motors.
That’s all fine and good, but they come up with something called the exhaust gas heat recovery system, or EGHR.
It’s like the old First Nations’ principal of using the entire buffalo, waste nothing.
This feature will use a heat exchanger that will rapidly warm not only the cabin, but the battery pack.
The otherwise wasted heat energy of exhaust gases will also be used to heat the 1.8L engines coolant faster, reducing emissions and fuel consumption.
This is a fantastic idea, as earlier mentioned the battery pack must be at an optimal temperature as soon as possible to perform with any kind of efficiency.
There are claims of this Malibu achieving a milage of 47mpg, or 6L per 100 km.
With that being said, my 2015 hemi-powered Ram 1500 gets an average of 10.5L per 100 km on the highway.
That means if you travel to Edmonton in the Malibu Hybrid, you will save roughly four dollars.
Electric motors are cool and all, and engineering is fun, but sorry boys, I’ll stick with my pushrod hemi.
Instead of pouring countless millions into development and writing off those expediters as business costs, why don’t auto manufacturers save those millions and knock a few bucks off the price of existing technology that actually works?
Sometimes, less is more.
Ian Szgatti is a local mechanic and owner of Fleet Services. He can be reached at 1-289-687-2886.

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