Westinghouse plans to race electric car


Move over, Penske-Chevy and Lola-Ford, and make room for a new player on the international auto racing circuit -- Westinghouse Electric Corp.-Chrysler.

If everything goes as planned, Chrysler Corp. will roll out a new race car, called Patriot, in time for next year's running of the Le Mans (France) 24-hour endurance race.

Powering the car -- which will be able to reach speeds of more than 200 mph -- will be an electric motor developed by the Westinghouse Electronic Systems Group in Linthicum.

"Nothing says that a fuel-efficient, low-emission car can't be exciting to drive," said Chrysler spokesman Michael Aberlich, and the company will be out to dispel any false impressions that the electric car is no more than a glorified golf cart.

There's another reason for hitting the track, Mr. Aberlich said. "It helps to move new technology along rapidly," he said, noting that disc brakes and fuel injection are just two examples of technologies derived from racing.

"Chrysler has been anxious to go back to top-level racing for sometime," said Francois J. Castaing, vice president of vehicle engineering at Chrysler and father of the company's 400-horsepower Dodge Viper, "but we wanted to send two specific messages when we did.

"We wanted to be able to reconcile our research on environmental issues with racing. . . . And we wanted to use racing once again for the purpose of developing all-new technology that will test the creativity and ingenuity of our people. The Patriot lets us do both."

The Patriot will use liquefied natural gas to power an alternator that will provide the electricity for the Westinghouse motor.

The local Westinghouse division teamed with Chrysler several years ago to develop a commercially viable electric car. Although the project's battery-powered, 107-horsepower van is surprisingly peppy, it's no threat to win the Daytona 500.

STP Flat Fixer poses threat

Beware of that container of STP Flat Fixer or STP Flat Tire Repair Product you've had in the trunk the past year.

It can be dangerous, says the manufacturer, First Brands Corp., which is taking the product off the market and recalling containers already purchased.

"Recent developments have led us to believe that under certain circumstances the product has the potential to cause serious personal injury to those who attempt to make a permanent repair on an inflated tire with STP Flat Tire Repair in it," said Mark Haglund, a vice president at First Brands. The company declined to expand on its warning.

Local mechanics say the danger is to the person involved in making a permanent repair to the tire that has been inflated with the Flat Fixer.

In at least one case, the tire exploded when the person making the repair used a rasp tool to push a plug into the hole in the tire.

In its warning to consumers, First Brands said the flat repair container should be discharged into a bucket half-full of water to catch the liquid contents and allow the vapors to escape.

The company has set up a 24-hour, toll-free number that consumers can call to receive refunds and get more detailed instructions for disposing of the product. That number: (800) 277-3766

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