Usually, the drag race comes after the new muscle cars hit the road, not while they're still on the drawing board. But in a tech presentation in Detroit this week, Chrysler showed off a computer-aided modeling system it developed in-house that it says let the company bring its Challenger from concept to market in just 21 months, quicker than Chevrolet did its similarly muscular Camaro.
One of the first things Eric Mattessich discovered in engineering school was that the typical internal combustion engine blows about 70 percent of the energy it creates straight out of the tailpipe in the form of heat. So, he wondered, could he adapt the kind of heat-recapturing mechanisms used to make powerplants more efficient to work on hybrid cars? “The technology has been around since the 1900s,” he points out. “It’s just that no one has put it into such a small package before.”