Today Audi released its newest upgrade for their A4, the ability to make it self driving! We are on the cusp of the next generation of semi-autonomous driving technology becoming affordable. Adaptive cruise control is already trickling down to the mass market, and the more sophisticated systems found on vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class are clearly coming, as well. If you’re a little adventurous, live in California and drive an Audi, you might be able to upgrade to the next stage of driverless tech even sooner. A San Francisco start-up called Cruise Automation is launching an aftermarket autopilot system called the RP1 for US$10,000, with deliveries starting in 2015.
The RP1 is designed for 2012 and newer Audi A4 and S4 models. Although, Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt told Autoblog Canada in an email: “There’s no reason we can’t expand to other cars, and we will.” The system includes a sensor pod on the roof containing cameras, radar and other sensors to scan the road ahead. It then sends data to a small computer mounted on the side of the trunk. The desired inputs are then made by actuators for the steering, brakes and throttle to control the car. A button in the cabin activates the autopilot and controls the desired speed. Not completely unlike Audi’s own, developmental, semiautonomous system.
At this point, the RP1 is somewhere between an adaptive cruise control system and an autonomous vehicle. It can control all of the cars inputs and even bring it down to a complete stop and then accelerate again. However, it only works on select highways in California. “We use geofencing to limit the areas of operation to segments of highway in which we’ve collected enough data to ensure our customers’ safety,” said Vogt to Autoblog Canada.
The idea of upgrading your car into a semi-autonomous vehicle is certainly novel. Although it’s pricy at the moment; the first 50 preorders start at US$10,000 each, which includes installation. Click here to watch a brief video of how the RP1 works and read the company’s official announcement. Although this technology is expensive at the moment, just like all new technology the price will drop as more and more auto makers begin to sell this type of technology.
When you think of Harley Davidson, you think of a big man on a roaring bike, ripping down a dirt road. Harley Davidson is trying to perhaps change the imagine slightly with their new electric bike. Motorcycle enthusiasts are about to find out as Harley-Davidson rolls out an electric bike — a sleek, futuristic version that sounds like a jet airplane taking off.
The public will get its first look at handmade demonstration models at an invitation-only event Monday in New York. The company will then take the models on the road for riders to try and provide feedback. Harley will use the information to refine the bike, which might not hit the market for several more years.
Harleys have long been the bad-boy bike of choice with an image associated with motorcycle gangs, even though most riders are middle-aged and middle-class. The new venture is a departure from Harley’s mainstay touring bikes and presents an added risk because currently almost no market for full-size electric motorcycles. The millions of two-wheeled electric vehicles sold each year are almost exclusively scooters and low-powered bikes that appeal to Chinese commuters.
But those focused on electric vehicle development say Harley has the marketing power to create demand, and its efforts to lower costs, build charging stations and improve technology will help everyone involved.
“It does validate what we’ve been doing; it adds additional credibility to it. It is certainly going to draw more people’s attention to electric motorcycles. The marketing horsepower of Harley-Davidson is going to be able to do things for us that we can’t do on our own,” said Scot Harden, vice-president of global marketing at Zero Motorcycles, the top seller of full-size, high-powered electric bikes.
Zero expects to sell 2,400 electric motorcycles this year, a drop in the bucket compared with the more than 260,000 conventional motorcycles sold last year by Harley.
The new LiveWire won’t make the distinctive “potato-potato-potato” chug that Harley once tried to patent. Its engine is silent, and the turbine-like hum comes from the meshing of gears. But electric motors do provide better handling and rapid acceleration — with the electric Harley able to go from 0 to 60 mph in four seconds. LiveWire’s design places the engine at the bottom of the bike.
“When you ride a motorcycle, it’s the movement of the top of the bike side-to-side that gives you agility in regard to making turns. So, if I put weight low in a motorcycle, I can turn faster. I can drop the bike down and make quicker moves,” said Gary Gauthier, of NextEnergy, a Detroit-based non-profit with expertise in electric vehicles.
Jeff Richlen, Harley’s lead engineer on LiveWire, put it this way: “Some people may get on it thinking, ‘golf cart,’ and they get off thinking, ‘rocket ship.”‘ Harley has made a smart decision following the trend of electric cars in todays market. Watch for more motorcycle companies to follow the lead of Harley and begin to open this category up.
Ford came out today with revised fuel consumption for six vehicles after doing further testing and realizing they made a error in the original specs.
The decision was made after Ford identified an error through its own internal testing. The Ford and Lincoln vehicles that are affected by the fuel ratings change are the C-Max Hybrid, C-Max Energi, Fiesta, Fusion Energi, Fusion Hybrid, and the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid.
Ford has estimated that close to 13,000 vehicles from the 2013-14 year have been sold in Canada (200,000 in the U.S.) under these erroneous fuel consumption numbers. Ford intends to rectify the problem with customers by compensating leased and purchase customers with a monetary gesture between the ranges of $125-$1,800.
The issue would be found in its “Total Road Load Horsepower” (TRLHP), a resistance level used in vehicle dynamometer testing. The TRLHP testing for some of their model didn’t match the values applied for the dynamometer testing.
After assessing the problem and going through the tests again, Ford notified the EPA on their newly-known data and provided them with the new fuel economy numbers for five of their vehicles, including one Lincoln. All of the other vehicles had no change in fuel economy. Further, Ford has now implemented an enhanced validation test to prevent this error from reoccurring in other future vehicles. Ford has had a rough couple of months with the recall of last month and now the error in fuel economy.
The 2014 Gumball 3000 kicked off today with drivers racing from Miami to Ibiza. This year had some stars attending including DeadMau5 and several others.
If you are unfamiliar with the Gumball 3000, it is an annual international road rally full of mayhem, exotic cars and car enthusiasts racing/partying for 3,000-miles (4,800 kms) along public roads with a different driving route around the world each year.
Kicking off in the sunny streets of Miami, this year’s Gumball 3000 participants have a long road ahead (see official 2014 Gumball 3000 map) as they’ll even have to pack their cars up into cargo containers in NYC and ship them over to Europe, as they race towards the finish line in Ibiza, Spain.
Most of the cars entered into the Gumball 3000 are rare and exotic like this McClaren P1 or Ferrari F40, but then you also get a few strange but cool oddities like the Batmobile Tumbler and Toronto’s own Deadmau5 behind the wheel of his “cat-powered” Purrari 458 Italia.
When it comes to picking pole position on the grid, it’s uniquely decided by the teams who’ve received the most charitable donations. The race so far has raised around US$167,000 for charity! Not a big surprise considering some of the the drivers include world famous celebrities and high rolling millionaires. On top of that the drivers in this race come from as far as Dubai to compete in it, although we did spot a couple New York, California and even Ontario, Canada tags as well!
Although some still think this an underground race where driver’s dog fight the whole length of the race, the answer is no, no it isn’t. The Gumball 3000 is much more than that. The Gumball 3000 is the ultimate road trip, jam packed with wild parties and good times in every city it passes through. This race is about having fun and showing off amazing cars!
Toyota Motor Corp. recently had an international recall, affecting a large number of Canadians. The recall is for a variety of problems spanning nearly 30 models in Japan, North America, Europe and other places. Some vehicles were recalled for more than one problem. The recall cases total 6.76 million vehicles for 27 Toyota models, the Pontiac Vibe and the Subaru Trezia, produced from April 2004 through August 2013.
Toyota Canada issued two separate recall notices affecting a total of 513,401 vehicles on Wednesday as part of the global initiative. One of the recalls affects 360,963 cars and SUVs with a spiral cable assembly that can be damaged when the steering wheel is turned and then, potentially, prevent the driver’s airbag from deploying in a crash.
The spiral cable assembly is in a large range of models, including the Corolla, RAV4, Matrix, Yaris, Highlander, and Tacoma, that were from various model years.
No injuries or crashes have been reported related to the recalls announced Wednesday. But two reports of fires are linked to one of the problems, a defective engine starter that can keep the motor running. The engine starter wasn’t named in either of Toyota Canada’s recalls.
The Pontiac Vibe, which is a General Motors Co. model, is also involved because Toyota and GM made cars at the same plant in California and the recalled model is the same as the Toyota Matrix. It was recalled for a problem with a spiral cable attached to an air-bag. It is unrelated to a separate GM recall over ignition switches linked to at least 13 deaths. This is one of the biggest recalls in the car companies history, and will affect their next quarters sales.
To read the full article go to: www.ctvnews.com
The deal is complete, Ford Named Mark Fields to replace Alan Mulally as CEO starting July 1st. Fields, currently Ford’s chief operating officer, had long been seen as Mulally’s heir apparent. He was centre stage at this year’s Detroit auto show unveiling the aluminium model of Ford’s best-selling F-150 pickup and a limited edition Mustang GT.
Fields, 53, is a Harvard Business School graduate who joined Ford in 1989 and ran its North American operations through the depth of the recession. Ford was the only major US automaker not to file for bankruptcy.
Mulally, 68, a long-time Boeing executive, was hired by Ford in 2006 to turn around a company making massive losses and facing declining market share. He slashed costs and mortgaged all of Ford’s assets in a move that allowed the company to steer clear of bankruptcy and government-ownership.
Fields becomes the second insider in recent months to take over one of the big American auto manufacturers. Last December General Motors named Mary Barra as its new chief executive, succeeding Dan Akerson, a turnaround specialist appointed by the US Treasury. Will Fields be able to complete the turn around that Mulally started, we will have to wait and see.
To read the full article checkout: www.thegurdian.com
With the majority of the big auto shows out of the way, all eyes are on big apple to showcase the top cars of 2014. It is not the industry’s biggest or most important show, but it is perhaps the best-timed one. Next year’s gleaming new machines roll into Manhattan just as spring is blooming and buyers get ready for a summer spending spree.
2015 Ford Focus: Updating a top-seller is always a risky endeavor. A company that changes too much risks alienating its biggest fans, while not updating enough may cost some sales momentum. The Focus, meanwhile, is the bestselling car in the world, so the stakes could not be higher as Ford (F) rolls out its next iteration. What to look for: a very unusual engine. The new Focus is expected to have a six-speed stick shift—remember those?—and three cylinders that shut off entirely at stop lights.
2015 Dodge Charger: Most carmakers aren’t all that interested in making big, rear-wheel-drive sedans—unless they carry a luxury brand and command a lot of euros. That’s a major advantage for Chrysler Fiat as it looks to relaunch its Dodge Charger. It will have to be impressive, however, to catch the highly praised Impala that Chevrolet launched last year. What to look for: a design statement that will signal whether Dodge is angling for plush or performance.
These are only two of the cars that you should pay attention to at this year New York Auto Show. There will be plenty more and we cannot wait to find what this years show has to offer.
To read the full article go to: www.businessweek.com
May 4th is one of the biggest stock car events, the Talladega Super Speedway, the problem? No one cares. It’s no secret that Nascar racing has had plenty of trouble recently holding on to its audience on a weekly basis. The series suffers from both an aging fan base and the lasting effects of a deep economic recession.
Television ratings are unequivocally down in the last decade—not surprisingly, major media partners including ESPN (DIS) and TNT (TWX) won’t be airing races next year. Stadium operators have even come to the realization that fans aren’t coming back, spending hundreds of millions of dollars to reduce seating capacity at the tracks.
You’d think the success of a popular racer like Dale Earnhardt Jr. would correlate with the success of the sport. Not so. Yes, he’s a star with a loyal following, but Nascar needs to widen its audience. Earnhardt’s triumph at this year’s Daytona 500 hasn’t engaged the casual fan—TV ratings are down to levels not seen since 1997.
Despite fluctuations in the size of the household TV audience, a set of faithful fans will continue to watch. Such fans form the “minimum” audience number, those who watch no matter what. If anything, Earnhardt represents this group, the ones who love Nascar and aren’t going away. Will Earnhardt be the new Tiger Woods of Nascar?
To read the full article check out: www.businessweek.com
AT&T reports it has made car-connected software to an undisclosed automaker.
AT&T Inc., the largest U.S. phone company, said it reached a deal with a global automaker to add to its ranks of customers looking to bring connectivity to cars.
The carmaker, based outside Asia, will have vehicles using AT&T’s wireless services in markets including China in a matter of weeks, said Joe Mosele, an AT&T vice president for devices including connected autos. He declined to name the automaker.
Automakers are competing for drivers looking to be connected while in their vehicles. Technology to do that is the top selling point for 39 percent of auto buyers, more than twice the 14 percent who say their first consideration is traditional performance measures such as power and speed, according to a study consulting firm Accenture released in December.
AT&T said last year that all Tesla cars would come equipped with its network chips, which allow two-way connections for services such as roadside assistance and stolen-vehicle location. The Tesla service also would include Internet access, navigation and entertainment on a 17-inch touch screen. Terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed.
If you can hang a picture or setup Ikea furniture, then you can do small fixes on your car. See below and save money.
Think of it as one more way to deal with the 2% you’ll miss from your paycheck now that the Social Security tax has reverted to its old rate.
Seriously, the fewer things you hire someone else to do, the more money you keep in your pocket. The DIY route may also save time. You can drive to a shop and wait for someone to do a simple repair, or you can do it yourself in five to 30 minutes.
True, you may have to factor in buying parts. To save money, use a price comparison website to find the best price and have them shipped to your home.
According to AutoMD and Edmunds.com, the average car owner should be able to handle one or more of the following chores.
Follow the tips below and watch your money stay in your pocket.