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AEM’s CAI for the 2009+ Mitsubishi Ralliart Preview (AEM Interview Part 1)

AEM’s CAI for the 2009+ Mitsubishi Ralliart Preview (AEM Interview Part 1)

The one thing that brings a smile to my face is the fact that even to this day, companies like this continue to develop parts for Mitsubishi Platforms.  Specifically the Mitsubishi Ralliart 2009+ 4b11T.  Now the brief sad story of the Ralliart is that aftermarket vendors for the most part ignored the car for product development.  While the car has a great amount of potential and shares the exact same powertrain as an Evo 10, its shared chassis platform with the Lancer GTS has left the Ralliart misunderstood.  There just isnt a lot of aftermarket parts available for the Ralliart.  To complicate things further, Mitsubishi consistently disregards the aftermarket point of view when it comes to production design.  The setup of the Ralliart engine bay presents 2 problems for aftermarket intake designers.

A) Mitsubishi choose not to relocate the battery into the trunk like the EVO 10.

B) Mitsubishi’s OEM HID setup obstructs the only available path for a cold air intake in the wheel well fender area.

Very few companies have braved enter this space.  When you stop to think about intakes.  Regardless of how old you are or what car is your passion.  It’s very likely that one of the first brand names that come to mind will be AEM.  Since the 90’s I cant think of very many who has pushed their intake technology harder than AEM.  When news hit that AEM had a Ralliart intake on the way, I jumped on it and set out to interview the engineers behind this intake.  Who I got was probably the single best person to tell me everything I need to know.  Some say he is the most senior ranked engineer, other describe him as the Father of the cold air intake.  John Concialdi is the original founder of AEM and has taken time out of his business schedule to shed some light on this latest project.

1.  John, At first glance the look and feel of this Ralliart intake is very similar to what was done for your EVO X intake.  Is this a trend for future intake designs?

Answer: “Our OEM work is what has driven a lot of the current development we do here which is why the Mitsubishi systems we produce have a look and feel of an OEM system. We do a lot of intake systems for the OEM’s and have learned a lot about validation in the process. For example, we do vibration and thermal tests to demonstrate the durability of our pipes and any of the components in the kits. We also have to do chemical resistance tests and of course we do filtration tests to show the efficiency of the filters. You may know that AEM is the pioneer in the performance dry filter and that was driven by the OEM work we do.”

2. There was a pretty slick feature on this intake that I have noticed on some of your larger truck applications in the past.   Is it really that simple?  A filter monitor that actually tells you when its time to clean your filter.  How does it work and why is AEM the only intake company in this space?

Answer: “On systems where the filter is not easily seen, we use the filter minder to help our customers monitor when the filter needs servicing. The filter restriction indicator we use on our passenger car applications uses a 10” water restriction value to indicate the filter needs servicing (red on the dial). Over servicing the filter is not recommended because when a filter is totally clean it can have slightly lower filtration efficiency which means more contaminant can pass through the filter. The common thought that drives this is that the filter will flow more when always clean which is technically correct but it has to be taken in the context of what the filter can flow vs. what the engine needs for maximum performance. Of course running the filter until it is plugged up so much that performance drops off is also not recommended because not only does performance drop off but dust can be pulled in the filter and the pumping losses created by a plugged filter will pull oil into the intake tract through the valve cover vent and that may cause ignition knock which is really bad.”

3.  Besides visual presentation, your intake’s performance exceeds many expectations, posting impressive HP / TQ numbers.  What is the secret to these gains?

Answer: “When our engineers started the development of this intake system late last year, we initially ran several open intake prototypes under the hood to maximize air flow to the turbo. However, during our fuel trim loops we found that intake air temperatures (IAT) would soar uncontrollably in traffic. Once IAT exceeded 100F, it would never come down to match ambient air temperatures again. This had a negative effect on ignition timing and therefore limited any power gains. It became readily apparent that while we had determined the right length intake tube to see “streetable” increases in mid to high range power and torque, we had to find a way to maintain IAT’s near ambient temperature to control ignition timing and increase air density to further increase power. So we created a sealed intake system with an air box that utilized the stock intake scoop, and the improvement in our results was immediate. In addition to getting the IAT’s to reasonable levels, we use Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) studies to determine air flow potential but perhaps just as importantly, we get the distribution of air around the filter as even as possible. This is important with air box designs because if we have a region around the filter that has abnormally high flow velocity the filter will load dust in that spot prematurely. That indicates inefficient air flow and loss of use of the balance of the filter until the filter loads around the “hot spot”.”

4.  There is a lot of myths out there about air fuel ratios and what is acceptable for safe operation in a forced induction vehicle.  Where does AEM stand on this?

Answer: “This is totally fuel dependent as well as engine condition dependent.. As a GENERAL rule in most cases we maintain the OEM AFR’s because that is what they mandate. It is best to run on the richer side with a forced induction engine but the caveat is that a lot of turbocharged engines run excessively rich. Conversely, there is a very popular tuner car that seems to have a lot of issues with detonation and when we monitored the AFR’s while at boost we noticed the AFR’s were at 14.6:1 up to 5 pounds of boost! We verified this on several of this car and it held true every time. In that case we made sure our intake did not exhibit that condition. We do extensive tests to validate the AFR’s in drive loops where we data log virtually all of the engine operational parameters and while performing dyno tests. Obviously it is up to the customer to put fuel worthy of their Mitsubishi in their car.”

5. In a hurting economy like we are in today, are week looking to see fuel economy negatively impacted by this intake?

Answer: “There should be no degradation in FE because the fuel trims are as good or better than stock. That said, we usually see a decrease in FE initially because the consumer puts their foot into the throttle to see the results but after they calm down they see the FE come right back.”

Stay tuned for part two of this interview