Category: Technology

By on February 12, 2017

MAVEN APP

While Ford is currently the domestic automaker making the biggest push into in mobility services — which seem to entail practically anything outside of traditional manufacturing and distribution — it isn’t the only company preparing itself for an era of declining vehicle ownership. FCA has partnered with Waymo to develop a fleet of self-driving Pacificas and General Motors has a personal mobility brand, called Maven, that acts as a car-sharing service.

While it isn’t quite so technologically advanced as autonomous vehicles or automotive A.I., Maven provides additional revenue immediately and furnishes GM with a unique opportunity to cope with some of the ownership problems of tomorrow. Car-sharing is good way for GM to profit from people who don’t own cars, but it’s also a clever method of getting young urban drivers to spend money on becoming more familiar with their product — especially on the coasts where import brands tend to outsell their domestic counterparts. Read More >

By on February 2, 2017

One of the first things you notice in the silence of an electric car is how prevalent wind and tire noise can be without an internal combustion engine to breakup the aural monotony. While no one has ever slipped into madness due to an overabundance of road noise, rubber grinding against concrete at seventy-five miles an hour isn’t the most pleasant sound in the world, either.

Lucid Motors promised that its upcoming Air EV would possess an audio system equipped with active noise cancellation to ensure that its interior remains a silent space. However, we are only just now discovering how seriously they took that promise. Read More >

By on December 28, 2016

alternator

Car manufacturers have achieved significant fuel economy gains in recent years, but the improvements largely come down to upgraded drivetrain efficiency. Vehicles still weigh substantially more today than they did in the early 1980s, when the previous decade’s demand for fuel economy improvements forced the issue.

Since then, automobiles have gradually packed on the pounds — negatively offsetting the technology encouraging fuel frugality. Modern safety concerns, improved build quality, sound dampening, and consumer demand for bigness have all helped to keep the typical family transport oinking around a two-ton curb weight.

If companies could effectively slim down those autos, without sacrificing structural rigidity, safety, or consumer comfort, the efficiency gains would become all the more significant. However, with few consumers ready to dive back into noisy, frail hatchbacks, weight savings will likely need to be done on the molecular level. In a new study, the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) in Ann Arbor investigated the materials going into 44 separate 2015 model year cars and asked automakers what would they use if they suddenly needed to reduce weight from essential items.  Read More >

By on December 19, 2016

FCA waymo pacifica

Google’s recently rebranded autonomous vehicle project, Waymo, and Fiat Chyrlser Automobiles have been working together on developing self-driving minivans since the summer. Half a year in, the two companies have announced the production of 100 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids with complete self-driving capabilities.

As you read this, the modified vans are being outfitted with Google-designed sensors and software, almost ready for the road.  Read More >

By on December 15, 2016

uber volvo autonomous

Uber proudly released a fleet of eleven driverless Volvos onto the streets of San Francisco Wednesday morning and one or two immediately started running amok. One person tweeted about seeing a self-driving vehicle nearly hitting another car, while another posted a video showing an autonomous tech-equipped XC90 breezing through a red light and active pedestrian cross-walk.

Before the end of the program’s first day, people were clamoring for Uber to explain the incidents and the California Department of Motor Vehicles had sent the ride-hailing company a cease and desist letter for operating without a permit.

Read More >

By on December 12, 2016

Mercedes-Benz M274 engine

For the first time in Wards’ 23 years of testing, its 10 Best Engines list is without a representative from America’s most rootin’-tootin’ of engine configurations.

Last year’s Best Engines list was a grand menagerie of naturally aspirated sixes, forced-induction fours, hybrids, diesels, and a flat-plane V8.

This year’s list is a collection of modestly sized turbo fours and sixes, with a handful of electrification thrown in for good measure.

Perhaps WardsAuto thinks the automotive industry has finally found a formula that works. Read More >

By on December 8, 2016

2017-ford-fusion-rotary-gear-shift-dial

Allow me to paint you an all-too-common picture. You’ve pulled your vehicle into a parking space at the mall and need to get inside so that you can spend several hundred dollars at the Disney Store as quickly as possible. In your excitement you begin struggling frantically against the seatbelt. There is a moment of terror before you manage to unclip yourself, open the door, and begin shuffling your woeful husk toward the building’s entrance. Suddenly, you hear a loud crash behind you. With your mouth partially agape, you turn your vacant eyes back toward your vehicle and realize that you have, once again, neglected to place it in park and turn off the ignition.

Don’t be embarrassed, this happens to everyone.

A lot of motorists simply forget what to do after they’ve stopped their vehicle and are ready to exit. While the proper procedure actually involves taking the vehicle’s transmission out of drive and putting it into park, a common mistake is to leave it in drive or neutral with the keys locked in the ignition or motor still running and just walk away. Thankfully, Ford has announced that the 2017 Fusion will benefit from an innovative new “Return to Park” technology that places the car safely into park for you! Read More >

By on December 6, 2016

2017 Toyota Prius Prime

Toyota has announced it will expand the development of hybrid technology over the next five years to get ahead of strict global emissions standards.

The  automaker plans to increase staff on its hybrid technology development team 30 percent by 2021, setting the goal of 19 emissions-friendly drivetrain components. The fuel-sipping technology could soon find its way into the majority of Toyota vehicles. Read More >

By on November 23, 2016

Porsche 911 Soundbar, Image: Porsche Design

If one of your DIY car enthusiast friends built a home or office audio system from the muffler and exhaust pipes of their favorite car as both an acoustic and visual part, you’d probably think it was a clever idea — something like using an engine block for the base of a glass coffee table, only more practical.

What, then, to think of the $3,500 Porsche Design 911 Soundbar Bluetooth loudspeaker that incorporates an actual titanium rear silencer and twin chromed exhaust tips from a Porsche 911 GT3 in its subwoofer?

Read More >

By on November 3, 2016

Ford Assist

How many times have you nearly backed your car over a child that was too short to see through your rear window? If the answer is more than once, you’re probably getting more than just a little tired of dealing with angry parents.

Fortunately, Ford has announced that its next generation of driver assistance technology will include self-stopping pedestrian detection. The automaker also plans to offer vehicles with enhanced “evasive steering” assist, aided cross-traffic negotiation, and advanced self-parking. While these safety features sound great in theory, they may forbid drivers from using their vehicle as a deadly weapon on public roads — at least on their own terms.

Read More >

By on November 3, 2016

Ford Carr-E Graphic

Are you an absolutely shameless individual who is sick to death of walking and loves gimmicks? Ford has you covered with an entry from what it has dubbed a “Cult of Disruption Innovation.”

That, there’s a certain popular Japanese vehicle built in Canada that won’t be going to Europe (thanks to the United States), Tesla is now inexplicably in the glass making business, and minivans are in danger of going seatless in the event of a supplier strike… after the break!

Read More >

By on November 1, 2016

Uber VTOL Aircraft, Image: Uber

One of my favourite childhood cartoons was The Jetsons, an animated sitcom where technology had transformed the world into a futuristic utopia. The intro of every Jetsons episode features the family commuting in a flying car.

Last Thursday, Uber published a white paper promising flying cars in the next decade. After 60 years as a cartoon, are The Jetsons becoming a reality?

Read More >

By on November 1, 2016

wrc polo vw

Volkswagen’s expensive diesel emissions scandal has forced cost cutting on anything that isn’t electric and its rally team is next on the chopping block. Quitting while ahead is ideal but abandoning a program due to financial woes and public shame after a hot streak doesn’t exactly smack of going out on top.

That, Toyota invents a box that allows anyone to use your car, Tesla’s zero-emission credits may soon be worth less, and Ford makes peace with its Canadian autoworkers at the buzzer… after the break! 

Read More >

By on October 31, 2016

mercedes-gas-i6

Mercedes-Benz is introducing a host of new engines with clever shared modular components, including a standard 500cc cylinder displacement.

These new engines include a new AMG-developed twin-turbocharged V8 for the S-Class and one of the most encouraging mechanical additions to the automotive landscape seen in a while — a high-tech inline-six specifically designed to compete with, and outclass, larger motors.

Read More >

By on October 28, 2016

google prototype-early

Every now and then, a critical mass of clever, ambitious folks excited about a particularly good idea coalesces, often in a particular geographic region, and humanity gets lucky. The American colonies in the late 18th century and Detroit in the early 20th century are historical examples. Silicon Valley, starting in the 1980s, is probably our best contemporary example.

In recent years, those modern titans of technology have turned their futurist eyes towards personal transportation. Whether explicitly or in sotto voce tones, they’ve indicated that the traditional auto industry personified as “Detroit” was a dinosaur about to go extinct. Not knowing the auto industry metaphor of becoming an obsolete buggy whip manufacturer, the tech industry saw Detroit’s future as “making handsets” — i.e. low tech assemblers.

Tesla was going to show us the new electron driven future, Google was going to make cars that drove themselves, and the Apple of the tech world’s eye was going to do nothing less than completely reinvent the automobile, just as it had done with music players and telephones. The push towards self-driving, autonomous cars and trucks was only going to accelerate the ascendancy of Silicon Valley as the new Motor City.

Just because you’re good at one thing, however, doesn’t mean you’re good at another. Read More >

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