Tag: Technology

By on May 17, 2019

lotus evora gt430

After Chinese auto giant Geely took a controlling stake in Lotus two years ago, the British brand has prepared itself for a turnaround. With a more stable financial footing secured, Lotus can be whatever it wants to be.

Enthusiasts want it to remain Lotus, only with an actual range of vehicles on offer. Group Lotus’ CEO, who also happens to be Geely’s chief technology officer, knows what he wants         the brand to mimic: Porsche. Feng Qingfeng has great fondness for the brand’s would-be rival, calling its products “wonderful.”

It seems he’s also okay with an SUV. (Read More…)

By on May 16, 2019

Will online videos soon emerge showing Nissan drivers taking naps or hopping into the backseat while underway? Maybe, but Nissan hasn’t been as cavalier as Tesla in playing up the abilities of its driver-assist technology. Now that an upgraded system that’s on par with General Motors’ Super Cruise and Tesla’s Autopilot is on the way, the automaker remains cautious.

ProPilot 2.0, as the name implies, is the next generation version of Nissan’s ProPilot Assist technology, and it differs from the first-gen system in one big way: drivers will be able to take their hands off the wheel. (Read More…)

By on May 9, 2019

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Arctic White marque badge detail

Much of the news surrounding Mazda this past year has concerned powerplants: a new turbocharged 2.5-liter four-banger for the CX-5 crossover and 6 sedan, a sort-of sparkless Skyactiv-X mill that still doesn’t have a North American arrival date, a lackluster diesel that took its sweet time getting here, and the brand’s continued lack of electric offerings.

The engine news continues. Buried within this week’s fiscal year earnings report is a hint of two new engines to come — inline-six engines. For a brand eager to position itself as premium, the development of a mill widely regarded as the classiest engine type reflects well on it. (Read More…)

By on May 7, 2019

The United States could impose a 25 percent import tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods by the end of this week — the result of threats issued by President Donald Trump following a reported about-face on the part of Chinese officials negotiating a new trade deal with the U.S.

At the core of the dispute? Intellectual property rights, sources claim. (Read More…)

By on May 6, 2019

2019 Chevrolet Volt rear

February 15th was a sad day, even for those who hate cars. On that day, General Motors’ Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant produced the last Chevrolet Volt — a green car born at the dawn of a new era that didn’t take off exactly as envisioned.

In the truck-loving land of (relatively) cheap gasoline, electric vehicles are only just now eating up more than 1 percent of the market, thanks mainly to the Tesla Model 3 and what ownership of said vehicle says about your lifestyle and viewpoints. Plug-in hybrids are struggling, however, and the most famous of them all is now dead. A victim of falling sales, though your author would be curious to learn the model’s margin.

Despite offering the most practical combination of conventional gas-powered driving and electric ability, many claim the Volt’s failure was one of marketing, not engineering. (Read More…)

By on April 25, 2019

Much-touted engines seem to take a while to arrive in North America, at least when it comes to Mazda. To the brand’s credit, those engines, at least in the case of the Skyactiv-D diesel, do eventually make it to these shores — though many wonder whether Mazda should have even bothered.

The Skyactiv-X is a different beast than its diesel counterpart. With this engine, Mazda promises increased power and greatly increased efficiency, all thanks to the engine’s novel combination of gasoline and diesel combustion elements. Journalists were offered a test drive over a year ago, but when the next-generation Mazda 3 appeared earlier this year, the 2.0-liter Skyactiv-X was nowhere to be seen. What gives? (Read More…)

By on April 23, 2019

It’s a long way from the company’s fledgling, Phoenix-area autonomous ride-hailing service, but Detroit has enough available space and local talent for Waymo to sign a lease.

On Tuesday, the self-driving tech company announced a deal to mate Chrysler Pacificas and Jaguar I-Paces with autonomous hardware in an abandoned assembly plant sitting in the heart of the domestic auto industry. (Read More…)

By on April 23, 2019

tesla model x, Image: Tesla Motors

Did you miss Autonomy Day yesterday? If you’re unaware, that’s the name given to Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s promise-filled, self-driving-focused speech to investors yesterday in the cradle of dreams (also known as Silicon Valley). There, Musk promised cars a driver can sleep in; cars that will make its owner money. Cars that, despite their self-driving nature, might be allowed to bash other vehicles around a bit.

Also stemming from that announcement? Musk’s assertion that any new car that isn’t a Tesla will be as antiquated and useless as a horse in three years. That’s right, even that affordable Kia Rio hatch that can be serviced anywhere. It’s “financially insane” to buy that, you know. (Read More…)

By on April 22, 2019

Elon Musk

Tesla celebrated “Autonomy Day” on Monday, broadcasting a web presentation to investors touting its self-driving strategy — part of CEO Elon Musk’s attempt to prove that the manufacturer’s longstanding commitment to the technology will bear fruit. While the mood was undercut by news of one of its vehicles spontaneously combusting in a Shanghai parking garage, the company stayed the course, focusing on autonomy instead of electrification.

Still, it wasn’t the fire that had investors seeking comfort. Tesla’s promise of fully self-driving vehicles is years old, with Musk initially pegging 2018 as the target date. That didn’t happen, with 2018 turning out to be the year the company faced elevated scrutiny over the effectiveness of its Autopilot system after a series of high-profile crashes.  (Read More…)

By on February 21, 2019

IIHS/YouTube

Not satisfied with turning up the heat on automakers via new crash tests and headlight performance evaluations, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety now has pedestrian avoidance systems under its microscope.

In its first round of tests, IIHS looked at the systems offered in 11 popular subcompact through midsize crossovers — vehicles that aren’t hard to imagine roaming leafy streets where wayward soccer balls (and those who chase them) lurk behind every parked car. The good news for both drivers and manufacturers? Nine of the 11 scored good marks.

Too bad about Mitsubishi and BMW… (Read More…)

By on February 14, 2019

Tesla Model S Grey - Image: Tesla

There’s a study you should read, and it delivers black eyes to both Tesla and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

You probably remember the fatal crash of a Tesla in Mountain View, California last March, a crash that occurred as the victim’s car cruised along in Autopilot mode. Unexpectedly, the vehicle steered itself out of a lane, impacting a highway divider at high speed. Once again, the effectiveness and safety of Tesla’s Autopilot system came under scrutiny as Tesla scrambled to defend itself. The automaker pointed to the findings of a 2017 NHTSA report released in the wake of a fatal crash from 2016. That study claimed the automaker’s Autosteer system, when introduced as part of the Autopilot suite of automated features, lowered Tesla crash rates by 40 percent.

Don’t believe everything you read, says R.A. Whitfield, director of Quality Control Systems. Whitfield filed a lawsuit and waited nearly two years to get to the bottom of that 40 percent figure. (Read More…)

By on February 11, 2019

The police seem convinced a “confused” Autopilot system caused a single-vehicle Tesla crash on a New Jersey highway Sunday, but one has to wonder about the driver’s attention level. (Read More…)

By on February 7, 2019

Sorry for another winter-themed post, but real life has a way of pointing out weaknesses in man’s systems. If you’re enjoying life down in Del Boca Vista, Phase III, this should provide some amusement.

Here goes: It’s a mess up north. Mother Nature’s not asking consent, and the roadways around Casa Steph are dirtier than a roadhouse brothel floor at 3 a.m. The last couple of weeks has brought snow, rain, freezing rain, more snow, and a type of precipitation that can only be described at #4 birdshot fashioned out of ice, hurled straight into your eyes via a bitter wind.

As me about my test vehicles’ driver assistance features, and how these bits of technological wizardry worked in such adverse conditions. News flash: they’re often as good as useless. You know what they say about mammaries on a bull… (Read More…)

By on January 23, 2019


Do you ever get the sense that much of today’s automotive technology whittles away the more natural aspects of driving? We’ve endured numb electronic steering, advanced driving aids, absent volume knobs, overly complex infotainment systems, and faux engine sounds for a few years now. To be honest, it’s been a mixed bag.

Sometimes these things work toward a greater whole, but they can also be persistent annoyances that detract from everything that makes driving enjoyable. Maybe it’s because I enjoy the act of traveling so much that I’m less eager to see tech muddy its purity. It’s not that I don’t find the new stuff interesting — quite the contrary. Rather, it’s just that I think automotive tech gets in the way more often than it should. But I’m also the kind of moron you’ll see riding a motorcycle through light snow because I “appreciate the experience.”

So it should come as no surprise that, after learning of its existence, I believe Toyota’s virtual sunroof is a bridge too far. (Read More…)

By on January 11, 2019

Audi unveiled the PB 18 e-tron Concept at the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance with absolutely no assurance that it would ever be more than a fun idea. In fact, the company outright said it had no plans to put the vehicle into production. Miraculously, Audi flip-flopped, and the electrified hypercar is now slated for assembly.

You might hate it, but this is one of the few concept vehicles to ever make this author cream the proverbial jeans during office hours. Maybe it’s because I normally wait until the darkest point of the evening to unfurl my shame over a bottle of homemade wine and revisit vintage photo rolls of the Honda Unibox and Suzuki Regina — the latter of which was too good for this world.

However, whether or not Audi can successfully capture the magic of the PB 18 Concept remains to be seen. (Read More…)

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