Back in the days before smartphones and cheap tablet computers, parents planning to take some screaming ankle-biters on a long road trip needed some means of hypnotizing the little darlings into submission, something that didn’t involve extreme measures such as tranquilizer dart guns or child literacy. Minivan makers began installing airliner-style flip-down video displays in the 1990s, enabling The Slime to ooze out of tiny flat screens on the road. The General took this idea one step further, partnering with Warner Brothers to issue a special-edition Chevy Venture packed with Looney Tunes goodies and branding. I spent years trying to find one of these rare vans in the U-Wrench-It yards I frequent, and I hit pay dirt last month in Denver.
The same two guys who brought you last year’s remote hacking of a Jeep Cherokee on a Missouri highway (and resulting 1.4 million vehicle recall) are at it again.
This time, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek entered the same Cherokee’s electronic brain, bypassing security software to gain control over key driving functions, according to Wired.
Hyundai is considering making its own computer chips for autonomous cars, which the company expects will be readily available by 2030, according to Bloomberg.
The South Korean automaker, which is already preparing its cars with semi-autonomous technology, says the technology could be vital to car making in the future. Hyundai buys its autonomous driving-related technology from a supplier, but the director of the automaker’s automotive control system development group didn’t specify the company from which Hyundai buys the technology hardware.
Hyundai’s announcement could be competition for Silicon Valley giants such as Google and Apple that are developing autonomous driving technologies to be licenced (Google) or possibly their own cars (Apple). Hyundai developing its own chips could be a way to keep the automaker from becoming merely a sheet metal provider to autonomous car technology makers.
Denso, the automotive electronics supplier with close ties to Toyota, has signed an agreement to buy $25.4 million worth of stock in the Sharp consumer electronics company. According to Automotive News, Denso says that the goal is to create new technologies that “improve the comfort, safety and convenience of vehicles by integrating vehicle technologies with home electronic technologies.”
Are in-car CD players the mark of a vehicle aimed at geezers? According to an Automotive News report, the CD may be going the way of the cassette or 8-track player in certain cars – namely those aimed at younger, “Gen Y” buyers, who use smart phones as music devices.
There has been an almost-palpable sensation of glee propagating through the various import-leaning car communities I frequent. For nearly two years, they’ve had to sit back and listen to the other guys relentlessly gushing about domestic brand turnarounds. With only a few notable speed bumps, it has been a pretty good run so far for post-bailout Detroit. Market share is up; buyers are coming back; product is improving–a sad state of affairs for the import fanboy. Then, out of nowhere, those cunning deviants over at Motor Trend—known of course for setting the magazine landscape ablaze with their out-of-left-field criticisms and take-no-prisoners, “gotcha”-style journalism—dropped a Molotov cocktail into this Texas-desert-dry landscape of domestic love.
The 2011 Explorer, they said, quite simply sucks.