By on July 31, 2020

With regulatory bodies the world over forcing the automotive sector to prioritize efficiency over mightiness, industry rhetoric has gradually shifted away from the powertrain. While every brand still wants to squeeze out all available power from ubiquitous four-cylinder motors, providing excess is only a priority in a handful of cases catering directly to enthusiasts.

The idea of a big, brutish luxury car with a monstrous engine still exists, but it’s being supplanted by technology-driven features catering to tech-focused minds and the green movement. Modern luxury is based in connectivity, applications, and distancing one from the experience of driving altogether  or at least that’s what the automotive industry now seems to believe.

And they may have a point. While we’re well aware those advocating “mobility” desperately want it so that they can tap into your data (to enhance revenue using the same grimy business tactics favored by big tech firms), carmakers also need something shiny to dangle in front of consumers so we’ll buy the latest and greatest product. The tech sector is also booming right now, and the industry’s dying to get investors back on its side after seeing the Wall Street performance of EV companies  especially Tesla Motors.

Even the traditionalists at Toyota are buying into it, announcing an important push into software development as they attempt to craft the next industry-standard operating system for cars. It’s also the song Volkswagen Group has sung ever since Dieselgate. Meanwhile, Audi recently explained its own commitment to software after its parent company (VW) tasked it with ensuring the botched launches of the ID.3 and Mk8 Golf don’t become commonplace.

(Read More…)

By on January 19, 2018

2017 McLaren 570S yellow - Image: McLaren

Let’s take a moment to consider how ubiquitous sport utility vehicles and crossovers have become. They are, quite literally, everywhere, and reason for this is that they’ve morphed into a jack-of-all-trades type of automobile.

The antiquated definition of SUV included words like “rugged” and “off-road.” But modern examples really only need to ride higher than your typical sedan to qualify. That, along with the segment’s current trendiness, has helped to make such vehicles exceeding popular. So popular, in fact, that practically every automaker is trying to build one to improve sales.

This includes supercar manufacturers. Lamborghini intentionally priced the Urus as an “entry-level” model to ensure volume — and you had better believe Aston Martin and Ferrari will do the same with their upcoming crossovers. Porsche has two SUVs and the more-affordable Macan became its best-selling model last year. However, there is one performance brand that says it has no place for such a vehicle: McLaren.  (Read More…)

By on October 26, 2017

waymo-michigan

There’s something we don’t often hear about when companies discuss the glory of the autonomous car: the lack of functionality of specific hardware during inclement weather.

Camera systems can be rendered ineffective when covered with ice and snow cover of an inch or more can easily obscure lane markings, leaving self-driving cars at a serious disadvantage. LiDAR, which operates using light beams, can be severely thrown in fog or whiteout conditions. Even if a blizzard doesn’t knock out the vehicle’s sensor array, its computer will still have to know how to mitigate slippery road surfaces.

Whether you’re human or machine, winter driving is extremely taxing. But technology companies hoping to build a self-driving car eventually have to move into snowy regions to advance testing. Some of the bigger automakers already have. Ford, for example, has begun extensive regional mapping — hoping to give cars handicapped by poor visibility a leg up.

Waymo has also decided it’s time to throw on a parka and winter tires. It’s heading to Michigan to start cold-weather testing next week.  (Read More…)

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