Tag: Technology

By on January 22, 2020

Cruise

Did General Motors’ self-driving arm reveal the future on Tuesday night? The automaker and its Cruise LLC subsidiary sure hope so, as both see big, big dollars coming from future autonomous ridesharing fleets.

The Cruise Origin unveiled in San Francisco last night is supposedly the vehicle (don’t call it a car) that will make that revenue stream possible. It certainly doesn’t look like a car, and the difference grows even greater when those side doors part. (Read More…)

By on January 21, 2020

Cruise AV interior

Cruise LLC, General Motors’ self-driving arm, plans to reveal a revolutionary vehicle in San Francisco on Tuesday, Bloomberg has learned. It will not be a modified Chevrolet Bolt that’s missing its steering wheel.

The expected reveal comes after a multiple rounds of funding and promises of near-future production and a planned ridesharing fleet. (Read More…)

By on January 21, 2020

Crosstrek Hybrid

Like it or not, Subaru plans to make up for lost time by delving deep into the world of electrification. In a technical briefing Monday, the automaker outlined a plan to draw 40 percent of its global sales from electric or hybrid vehicles by the beginning of the next decade.

Currently, the automaker only sells the Crosstrek Hybrid, but that will change as its newly strengthened partnership with Toyota starts to bear fruit. (Read More…)

By on January 20, 2020

While other manufacturers are downsizing engines and sticking turbos anywhere they’ll fit, Mazda has attempted to maintain a home for naturally aspirated motors — engines it believes should be sized appropriately for their intended application. On paper, this appears to be giving the competition an edge. Yet Mazda remains committed to offering the right tool for the job, introducing naturally aspirated Skyactiv engines with unusually high compression ratios. The latest, Skyactiv-X, combines spark-controlled gasoline combustion and compression-ignition diesel tech with a 24-volt mild-hybrid system.

The system delivers 178 horsepower and 164 lb-ft of torque in 2.0-liter guise, plus MPG improvements of up to 20 percent vs the old Skyactiv-G. But there’s a problem. With Mazda attempting to go upmarket, an economy-focused powertrain has to deliver in whatever region it’s sold, and introductory Skyactiv-X units are now viewed as too small for the United States. The result? The technology’s delayed arrival in North America, despite its deployment via the new 2.0 liter found in the 2020 Mazda 3 and CX-30 sold in Japan and Europe.  (Read More…)

By on January 11, 2020

Even though automakers routinely preview concept and prototype vehicles with camera mounts replacing traditional side and rear-view mirrors, you’ll have to wait a while before the technology makes its way to production vehicles. While Japan thinks ditching mirrors for a digital display is sugoi (Japanese for hunky-dory), other nations have maintained some amount of trepidation in embracing the technology.

For our purposes, both Canada and the United States have examined the matter, yet neither feels ready to make any industry-altering decisions. Supplier Magna International says that’s okay ⁠— it’ll be ready to hook up North America with the applicable hardware when the time comes. Plenty of downsides can be found in swapping out traditional mirrors, offsetting some of the benefits, and lawmakers need to figure out how to manage that when it comes time to redefine automotive regulations(Read More…)

By on January 9, 2020

Mazda bigwigs and engineers are still on the fence when it comes to the next-generation MX-5 Miata’s powertrain, but the current generation is still capable of learning new tricks.

The automaker’s European-market MX-5s, at the very least, will take on a standard energy recovery system for the 2020 model year that carries some of the trappings of a hybrid. What the system can’t do is send any amount of electric power to the drive wheels — though it can reduce the load on the conventional gasoline engine. (Read More…)

By on January 9, 2020

The wonders of modern technology allow us to enjoy an endless list of conveniences and pleasures. It’s amazing we’re so miserable.

Our cars can brake on their own to avoid the nearsighted neighbor boy; lane-hold systems can keep us on the straight and narrow, while in-dash navigation systems and even our phones can offer verbal directions to the destination of our choice. No longer does man have to suffer with paper maps and dead reckoning. The stars adorning the heavens are there just for decoration these days.

And yet technology still has the annoying tendency to fail at its job. (Read More…)

By on January 8, 2020

nissan

Within a couple of years, Nissan hopes to put the company’s current dark clouds behind it and get on with the business of selling cars and making money. One vehicle expected to help the automaker in this supposedly EV-hungry decade is a production version of last year’s Ariya — a concept crossover powered solely by electricity.

Looking pretty fleshed-out for a concept, the Ariya, or whatever Nissan chooses to call it, will join the long-running Leaf in the company’s emissions-free stable. At this week’s Consumer Electronics Show, the automaker chose to show off the system that gets the Ariya moving. It’s an unholy marriage of letters and numbers. (Read More…)

By on January 7, 2020

Sony

When it comes to forward-thinking concept vehicles, “vision” ranks among the most popular words used by automakers to convey their futuristic aspirations to the general public. Among real-world production models, the letter “S” best signifies a vehicle either at the top or bottom of its game. There’s no in-between when it comes to S; it’s either Sport, or base.

So it’s forgivable if the reader finds the name bestowed on a prototype vehicle launched Monday night at the Consumer Electronics Show to be both generic and instantly forgettable. But the Vision-S is real, and it was built by a company best known for putting music in the hands of the teeming masses, not cars. (Read More…)

By on December 19, 2019

Jeep Wrangler JK towing old Jeep Kensington - Image: © Timothy CainFrom the characters that control it to the engines at the heart of it, from the history that hems it in to the future that waits for it, from the designs that define it to the manufacturing that fulfills it, the automotive industry has something for everyone.

That’s why we cover it. That’s why we read about it. That’s why we drive and research and analyze, why we memorize specs and memorialize eras, why we wax eloquent when given the opportunity to explain the inherent balance of an inline-six, and why we correct people when they say, “CVT transmission.”

It’s also why we develop deep-seated automotive opinions that have as much chance of coming undone as your Jordan versus LeBron GOAT verdict. (Jordan, obviously. Gretzky, Federer, Mays, and Brady, too, for the record.)

Despite the fact that there was no shortage of automotive opinions dancing around in my head in those twilight moments before sleep each night at the beginning of the year, I nevertheless developed more conclusions over the course of 2019. After having little time to think of much else, and after driving hundreds of different cars, here’s an exhaustive (and exhausting) 17-part sampling. (Read More…)

By on December 19, 2019

Could we have fit more acronyms in that headline? Doubtful.

Now safely ensconced in a four-year labour deal with the workers who left its assembly lines in the dark for six weeks, General Motors is blaming this fall’s strike for a product delay. Well, a delay of a debut, really.

As a result, next month’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas will have to do without a new GM electric vehicle. (Read More…)

By on December 17, 2019

With Cadillac torpedoing any hope we had that the touchscreen trend might come to swift end, we started digging around to see the latest and greatest interior screen experiences automakers are hoping to push onto the market. The worst offenders cropped up in concept vehicles, though most automakers aspire to equip future models with more screen space than you’ll know what do with — see China’s Byton for an example.

As for less speculative specimens, Audi had us covered. The brand’s MMI Touch Response infotainment system sacrifices physical controls for three rather large interactive displays. Limited to higher-end models (A6, A7, A8, and Q8), MMI groups a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, 10.3-inch central console, and a smaller 8.6-inch display for controlling the HVAC system. Apparently, that’s the interior Audi wants to run with for all future vehicles while it works up something new.  (Read More…)

By on December 5, 2019

BMW is walking back its controversial decision to charge an annual subscription for the use of Apple’s CarPlay in its vehicles. We quickly complained about it, worried that it would spur a new trend of charging customers for the privilege of accessing what is normally standard content.

The German manufacturer originally said the subscription fee was necessary in order to offer wireless updates aimed at keeping the user interface evolving with phones. This was soon proven not to be the case, as other manufacturers already offer that exact service for free. BMW wanted to charge $80 a year (or $300 for a 240-month plan) after providing CarPlay free of charge for 12 months. Now, it will be gratis.  (Read More…)

By on December 2, 2019

Australia put up the first phone-detecting cameras in New South Wales over the weekend. The move is part of a broader plan to reduce roadway fatalities by 30 percent by 2021 — especially as new technologies continue to exacerbate the issue of distracted driving. “It’s a system to change the culture,” NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy told Australian media las week.

There’s nothing incredibly new about the cameras themselves. But they’re networked to an artificial intelligence that determines whether or not someone behind the wheel is using their phone. Suspect images are then forwarded to authorized personnel to be verified as truly criminal.  (Read More…)

By on November 15, 2019

Volkswagen Group has decided to increase spending on the development of electric and digital technologies over the next five years to 60 billion euros ($66 billion USD). The automaker estimated the revised strategy amounts to slightly more than 40 percent of its investments in property, plant and equipment, and all research and development costs during the planning period.

Of that sum, 33 billion euros are expected to go directly toward the development of new electric vehicles. The increase allocates roughly €12 billion annually for hybridization, electric mobility and digitalization. The old plan set aside 8.8 billion euros per year. (Read More…)

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