Category Archives: Industry

General automotive news.

2011 Ford Escape For The Blind

Believe it or not, Ford has developed technology that would potentially allow a blind person to drive a vehicle.  However, it’s not just any vehicle, on display at the National Convention For The Blind annual convention is a 2011 Escape, which is outfitted with technology that will allow blind people to drive.  It’s truly a leap of faith in technology to allow an SUV on the highway with a blind person, but Ford says we are not far from that reality.

If the technology is a success and a price point can be met, blind people will have their first opportunity to drive legally.  The SUV uses technology that sense which way a persons should steer and transforms those signals into vibrations in specially developed gloves that the driver would wear.  Personally, this makes absolutely zero sense to me, but it is a real technology being used today.

It’s called nonvisual interface technology, which utilizes a drivers other senses to translate what’s going on around them.  For example, vibrations in special gloves or even compressed air being blown in the face or body of the driver to indicate when traffic is near.

iPad Built For The Automotive Enthusiast

iPad Automotive AppsMany iPhone users will tell you that the iPhone was a huge development for automotive enthusiasts.  Applications from remote starting, unlocking, and apps that allowed users to find the best hot spots made for an enthralling tool.  It delivered confidence in traveling, knowing where you were going, and most importantly what to do when you get there.  Now, that same technology is being applied to the iPad and is being focused on automotive applications.

Hyundai was maybe the first to adopt the iPad as a tool for drivers and auto enthusiasts.  Earlier this year Hyundai announced that every new Equus would come with a free iPad, preloaded with the cars manual.  Now that the iPad has had some time to grow within the market and reach increased adoption, companies like BMW are leading the way with automotive apps for the iPad.

‘Das’, is the first BMW iPad App, that allows users to view some of their product line in 3D.  With touch technology provided by the Apple iPad users are then able to twist the images of BMW’s cars, peak into their technological advancements and learn all about their vehicles.  But BMW isn’t looking at just the typical consumer use for the iPad, they also plan to outfit some of their salesman with the new cool tech tool.

The iPad for the BMW sales people would come loaded with software that would allow them to access BMW’s personal software.  This tool would allow a salesperson to pull up information on a specific model, provide images, and even run credit applications while out on the car lot.

Although Hyundai and BMW are the largest car manufacturers to adopt the iPad as a tool, Coda Automotive isn’t far behind.  Supposedly Coda will be releasing an all electric car later this year, that will come equipped with an iPod, again preloaded with the cars manual.  Relatively inexpensive compared to the overall price of the car, the iPad will potentially create a new incentive for buyers and techno automotive geeks.

Find great deals on the Apple iPad at places like Amazon and eBay:
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Bamboo Concept Car

[ad#Google Adsense]The Bamboo Concept car pictured above was created by Yodogawa, a Japanese metalworking firm.  As unbelievable as it may seem, the manufacturer actually hopes to one day sell this car to sane buyers, looking to save the world with green materials.  The car, and I use that term loosely, was created almost entirely of traditional materials, mainly bamboo and paper.

The barely capable Meguru, which sets on 3 wheels and appears to be held together by hopes and dreams, utilizes a lithium ion battery for power.  It’s an all electric vehicle (EV), which has a maximum traveling distance of 25 miles before needing charged.  Furthermore, it has a top speed of only 25 miles per hour, which in my opinion would mean a death wish if traveling much faster.

I’m not sure which is more crazy, the fact that the Japanese hope to sell the Meguru or that they are expecting to get $10,000 for it.  You be the judge and view the picture of the Bamboo Concept Car Meguru.

Meguru Bamboo Concept Car

Volvo C30 Concept Car Pics

[ad#Google Adsense]Volvo is at it again with building a super cool concept car, the C30 is nothing shy of the direct off spring of a high performance racer.  Just shy of 400 horsepower, this light weight hatch back has what it takes to tear up the corners and blow the doors off of competitors in the straight away.  It’s making everyone take a second look at whats coming down the pipe from Volvo.

Dubbed the Volvo Polestar C30, this light weight power house checks in at 0-60 in just 4.6 seconds.  Power comes courtesy of a 5 liter turbo charged engine, pumping horses into a 4-wheel drive transmission.  This turbo charged menace sticks to the ground with all 4 tires spinning, held together with a specially tuned Volvo suspension.

It’s just a one off concept car, but will it be enough to keep people interested in an other wise bland Volvo lineup?  Perhaps its just a peak at what engineers have in store for the up coming years.

Is The Cost of EVs Too High?

Nissan Leaf

The automotive industry has had it’s fair share of shakeups in the past few years.  Recalls, major advancements in efficiency requirements, performance upgrades, and now the next logical step will be towards an all electric vehicle (EV).  There are plenty of experts and industry analysts that will give you their opinion of what to expect in regards to cost-benefit analysis, but what about the common person looking to purchase a new EV?

Cost Of Components

One of the first electric vehicles to hit the US will be the Nissan Leaf.  The all electric car utilizes a lithium-ion battery, which happens to be the most expensive part in the car.  For early adopters, the cost of purchasing a Nissan Leaf will be an estimated $33,000, most of the cost directly related to the cost of the battery.

Expensive batteries applies to all production and future electric vehicles.  Keep in mind we are talking about all electric, not a hybrid where the traditional motor can kick in and still provide power.  Therefore, replacement costs will become a concern in a few years when the batteries are no longer holding a charge.  Will it be cheaper to replace the car than to just replace the battery?

Lease The Battery As Only Option

To combat the fears of replacement Nissan is planning on offering a lease option for the battery.  So, on top of the initial cost, buyers will be pressured into spending up to $150 on a lease of the vehicles power source.  It’s less like a lease and more like a never ending insurance policy, which would help offset the costs of replacement if the battery fails.

From this type of planning it’s obvious that shelf life of the lithium-ion battery is a concern.  What about other components, what kind of wear does an all electric vehicle have on other aspects of the vehicle.  Furthermore, when replacement becomes the only option, what kind of environmental impact will that have?  All around the cost is too high and each question answered leads to more questions.

Planning Ahead

Nissan estimates that all electric vehicles will be 10% of all car purchases by 2020.  To prepare for such an influx in demand, Nissan has started equipping factories to be able to produce 500,000 EVs per year by 2012.  Putting all our eggs in one basket?

In my very humble and admittedly cheap opinion, we should be focused on driving down the cost of battery before assuming the consumer will pay for such a venture.  In the world economy today, I can’t imagine the common buyer to consider a $33,000 luxury-lacking EV.  Furthermore, even taking into consideration the amount of money saved by not needing to stop at the gas station, how long would it take to pay off such an investment?  Who wants two extra car payments a month, one for the car loan itself and another for the lease on the battery?