Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Volvo pushes ahead with self-driving car

 Cars that drive themselves are coming closer and closer.
  Volvo Car Corporation has taken another step towards what autonomous driving
- self-driving vehicles - by demonstrating a new traffic jam assistance system. The new
system, whereby the car automatically follows the vehicle in front in slow-moving queues
up to 50 km/h, will be ready for production in 2014.
    "This technology makes driving more relaxed in the kind of monotonous queuing that is
a less attractive part of daily driving in urban areas. It offers you a safe, effortless
drive in slow traffic," says Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research and Development
of Volvo Car Corporation.
    The traffic jam assistance function is an evolution of the current Adaptive Cruise
Control and Lane Keeping Aid technology, which was introduced in the all-new Volvo V40
hatchback [ ] earlier in
   The driver activates the traffic jam assistance function by pushing a button. When
active, the engine, brakes and steering respond automatically. The Adaptive Cruise Control
enables safe, comfortable driving by automatically maintaining a set gap to the vehicle in
front, at the same time as the steering is also controlled.
   "The car follows the vehicle in front in the same lane. However, it is always the
driver who is in charge. He or she can take back control of the car at any time," says
Peter Mertens.
  Mertens said slow-moving queues are part of urban commuting. Americans spend more than 100 hours a
year commuting to work, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.
This is more than the average two weeks of vacation time (80 hours) many Americans have
per year.
   Drivers in major metropolitan areas such as New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Los
Angeles spend even longer times queuing to and from work every day. By Joseph Szczesny

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Nominees for Green Car of The Year selected

 The nominees  for Green Car of the Year honor  presented each year each year at the Los Angeles Auto Show are now in.   The award is given to the vehicle that best exemplifies leadership in environmental concerns. The five finalists for the 2013 award are the Dodge Dart Aero, the Ford Fusion, the Ford C-MAX, the Mazda CX-5 and the Toyota Prius C.
 Last year's winner was the Honda Civic Natural Gas, while the Chevy Volt won the year before that.
The Dodge Dart sedan and Mazda CX-5 compact SUV were each chosen because they are non-hybrid models that still yield impressive fuel economy figures.
The Fords were chosen because they offer consumers a choice of efficient drivetrains; the C-MAX hatchback is available as either a hybrid or plug-in hybrid while the Fusion sedan comes in gas, hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants.
The Prius c was chosen because it expands the Prius lineup of efficient hybrids, alongside the original Prius and the larger Prius V wagon.
The final selection will be made by a jury that includes the director of the Sierra Club, Jacques Cousteau's eldest son and Jay Leno. The winner will be announced Nov. 29. By Joseph Szczesny

Monday, October 22, 2012

EV version of Scion IQ ready for the road

Toyota Motor Sales is placing the 2013 Scion iQ EV in car sharing fleets near college campuses around  the United States
“Toyota believes battery-electric vehicles have the potential to play a role in future mobility strategies,” says Chris Hostetter, TMS group vice president of strategic planning.
“Up to now, cost and convenience issues have limited BEV’s appeal with a broad consumer market. Toyota developed the iQ EV specifically as a city commuter, for use in an
 urban environment, where driving distances are likely to be short, charging opportunities numerous, and its compact proportions beneficial.”
 The iQ EV is a battery- electric four-seater city commuter car designed for car-sharing programs, in urban and campus environments.

The iQ EV features Toyota’s newly developed high-output lithium-ion battery which delivers a world-class electric power consumption rate of 104 Wh/km in an ultra-compact and lightweight package. In ideal stop and go driving conditions, the 12 kWh battery provides an estimated range of up to 50 miles on a full charge. The vehicle can be fully charged in approximately three hours at 240V. Its 78-inch wheel base and 13.5 foot turning radius makes the iQ EV highly maneuverable in congested areas where streets are narrow and parking is at a premium.
“Approximately 90 iQ EVs will be available for fleet and car-sharing applications,” said Hostetter. “These programs will further expand Toyota’s comprehensive portfolio of advanced technology vehicles which includes the recently-released RAV4 EV, the Prius Family of gas-electric hybrid vehicles, including the Prius Plug-in Hybrid, and the FCHV-Adv (Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle-Advanced).”
The iQ EV development process strongly focused on the conservation of power consumption.
 A compact lightweight body, power-saving electrical equipment, and the application of experience gained from hybrid and plug-in hybrid development resulted in excellent all-around performance. The iQ EV is also equipped with energy conserving features such as regenerative braking, heat pump air conditioning with a pre-conditioning option, LED high-mounted stop light, heated front seats, and a heated windshield defroster.  By Joseph Szczesny

Friday, October 19, 2012

Nissan adds third shift at Smyrna

Despite slow sales of  electric vehicles, Nissan said Friday it has added a third shift at its assembly plant in Tennessee.
 Nissan Americas Vice Chairman Bill Krueger said the addition of 810 new Nissan manufacturing jobs in Tennessee in support of the company's growth and demand for its vehicles.
  The new employees will staff the new third shift at the Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant. The shift began operations earlier this week and it is the Smyrna plant has had a third vehicle assembly shift in its nearly 30-year history. Nissan has now added over 2,000 manufacturing jobs in Tennessee since mid-2011.
 "Our investment in creating hundreds of new jobs demonstrates Nissan's long-time commitment to our employees, Smyrna and the State of Tennessee," Krueger said.
  "The dedicated workforce in Tennessee continues to build high-quality vehicles that compete and win globally, and we're committed to ensuring this doesn't change."
 The recent addition of a third vehicle assembly shift at the Smyrna plant is part of Nissan's strategy to localize core-model production. By 2015, Nissan aims to have 85 percent of all Nissan and Infiniti products that are sold in the United States produced in North America.
 The Smyrna plant currently builds the Nissan Pathfinder and Infiniti JX sport utility vehicles and the Nissan Altima and Maxima sedan, according to Nissan spokesman Justin Saia.
 Saia also said the Smyrna plant is slated to start building the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle later this year and the new version of the Nissan Rogue in 2013.
 Nissan began building batteries for electric vehicle at a new factory next to the Smyrna plant this year but has been relatively silent about its EV plans ever since sales of the Leaf went in to a tailspin this past summer.  The plant was built with the help of nearly $1 billion dollars in loans from the U.S. Department of Energy.
 The U.S. sales of the Leaf have dropped 27.6 percent so far this year and signs of distress continue to crop up throughout the fledgling EV business. Earlier this week, A123, the maker of EV batteries which had built a new plant near Detroit with help from the U.S. Department of Energy, filed for bankruptcy and announced it was selling its electric vehicle assets to Johnson Controls of Milwaukee, Wis.
  However, the plans for  electric vehicle production in Tennessee are moving forward,  Saia said.  Nissan currently builds the Leaf EVs sold in he U.S. in Japan.
"Nissan and Tennessee have enjoyed a long and successful partnership for more than 30 years, and this announcement shows the strength of the company and the market demand for its products," Bill Haslam said.
 "Nissan and our existing industries are very important to the state's economy and the citizens they employ, and I want to congratulate and thank Nissan on today's announcement and the new jobs it means for Tennessee," he said.
Nissan began production at the Smyrna Plant began in June 1983.  The plant has an annual production capacity of 550,000 vehicles and represents a capital investment of $2.5 billion.  With recent growth, employment at Nissan's Smyrna manufacturing facility exceeds 6,000 employees.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Counterfeit airbags pose threat to motorists

 The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued an unusual  Consumer Advisory, warning of the danger posed by counterfeit airbags.
 Most or all of the faulty safety devices apparentlycome from China, according to the government, which estimates that “tens of thousands of counterfeit  air bags” have been placed in American automobiles as they were repaired following serious accident in which the original bags in the vehicle had deployed
 “We want consumers to be immediately aware of this problem and to review our safety information to see if their vehicle could be in need of inspection,” said a statement by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood issued ahead of today’s formal announcement.
“Air bags in particular play a central role in keeping drivers and passengers safe in the event of a crash,” noted Administrator David Strickland of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Each of a vehicle’s airbags is designed to operate in a specific way and may inflate to varying degrees depending on the severity of a crash.  The fakes that the government is warning about likely will not function properly if they work at all.
NHTSA  said  it believes the vast majority of replacement parts are genuine and that “this issue affects less than 0.1 percent of the U.S. vehicle fleet.”
 But recent tests of 11 fakes found that the majority either failed to work or inflated improperly and some actually threw shrapnel as they inflated.
   Toyota noted If the vehicle has never had the airbag(s) replaced, there is no need to be concerned or if the airbag was replaced by a Toyota or Lexus dealer under warranty, there is no need to be concerned.
     However, If the airbag(s) have been replaced at any repair facility, you should request that repair facility to provide documentation that a genuine Toyota replacement airbag was used. By Joseph Szczesny

Friday, October 5, 2012

F-TYPE Jaguar wins Best in Show honor for Paris debut

The all-new Jaguar F-TYPE  two-seater sports car has been named  the 2012 Autoweek Editors' Choice Award for Best in Show at the Paris motor show.   "Sleek, sexy and powerful, the F-TYPE becomes a new halo for Jaguar," Autoweek's
Digital Editor Andrew Stoy said. "Put the top down, fire up the engine - especially the supercharged 5.0-litre V8 - and all suddenly becomes right with the world. It's a car tocovet for anyone with a love of sports cars."

  The new Jaguar F-TYPE represents a return to the company's heart: a two seater convertible sports car focused on performance, agility and driver involvement. The F-TYPE is a continuation of a sporting bloodline that stretches back more than 75 years and encompasses some of the most beautiful, thrilling and desirable sports cars ever built.

    "The all-new Jaguar F-TYPE, our first new two seater sports car in 50 years, is incredibly important as it returns Jaguar to the heart of the sports car market and creates a new emotional fulcrum for the entire brand," said Andy Goss, President Jaguar Land Rover North America. "We appreciate Autoweek's recognition of the F-TYPE's design and performance credentials and its significance for our company, and car enthusiasts everywhere."

 The new F-Type is Powered respectively by 340hp and 380hp versions of Jaguar's new 3.0-litre V6 supercharged engine and a new derivative of its 5.0-litre V8 supercharged unit, each F-TYPE is engineered for pure dynamic driving reward and stunning performance and is due in showrooms next summer. By Joseph Szczesny

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pop Mechanics hand Ford an award

Ford Motor Company’s has been honored with a Breakthrough Award from Popular Mechanics magazine for the development of new 1.0-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost engine
 Each year, he magazine selects the 10 technology products that matter most. In addition to the newest member of Ford’s global EcoBoost engine family, awards were also given to a new type of camera, and anaffordable 3D printer and several other high-tech items.
The 1.0-liter EcoBoost is Ford’s first three-cylinder engine – and one of the smallest-displacement engines Ford has ever built.
 But  it is not short on power or refinement. The newest EcoBoost, which is already on sale in Europe, engine packs up to 125 horsepower and is loaded with technical innovations. It also delivers impressive acceleration and is one of the smoothest and quietest engines in Ford’s lineup globally.
“We placed the bar incredibly high when we set out to design this engine,” said Joe Bakaj, Ford vice president, Global Powertrain. “We wanted to deliver eye-popping fuel economy, surprising performance, quietness and refinement – and all from a very small three-cylinder engine.
Earlier this year the 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine was named “International Engine of the Year” by a jury of 76 journalists from 35 countries. The 1.0-liter engine, available in Europe in the Focus, C-MAX and B-MAX models, features a split cooling system, offset crankshaft, variable oil pump and other innovations.  By Joseph Szczesny

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Dodge Dart named top safety pick

The 2013 Dodge Dart has earned a key honor that should boost Chrysler's sales efforts.
 The new compact car,  with its 10 standard air bags and one of the auto industry's highest content-ratios of high-strength steel, has been named a 2012 Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The first product born of Chrysler Group LLC's alliance with Italian partner Fiat. recorded the maximum possible rating in each of the four crash tests used by the IIHS to evaluate occupant protection, the primary attribute of a Top Safety Pick. The 2013 Dart achieved a score of "good" in tests that simulate rollover, rear-, side- and moderate-overlap frontal-impacts. The IIHS rating scale comprises grades of good, acceptable, marginal and poor.
"We had high expectations for the Dart and our engineers delivered," says Reid Bigland, Dodge-brand President and CEO and Head of U.S. Sales. "Since its launch, the 2013 Dodge Dart has consistently outperformed in the area of fuel efficiency, technology, value for the money and now safety. It is truly a groundbreaking new car."
Top Safety Pick is the highest safety honor bestowed by the IIHS. "Winners afford buyers the best overall protection in four of the most common kinds of crashes, and help them avoid crashes altogether with electronic stability control," noted. IIHS President Adrian Lund. By Joseph Szczesny

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

New GM truck undergoes final tests

General Motors  engineers are conducting the final validation of the next generation  Chevrolet Silverado light-duty pickups, which will include a completely new interior and frame.  The new Silverado is scheduled to go on sale in 2013, though GM hasn't given out a final date yet. Early spring is now the best guess since the company's light-truck assembly plants have started the model change.
 The tests at the Milford Proving Ground include a a variety of tests to make sure its capable of withstanding the rugged workload.
  In addition to torture testing, the team is paying attention to delivering a comfortable, well-balanced ride, which is being refined on a variety of track surfaces at Milford. By Joseph Szczesny