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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Car News

The Reality About Electric Recharging Stations

On: Tue, Jul 20, 2010 at 2:50PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

The Reality About Electric Recharging Stations test 1-1

Manufacturers of electric cars would like to make the public believe that the infrastructure for charging electric vehicles is already in place, and that charging at home will not be a problem. The truth is that if car owners don’t have a special connector they will wait for long periods of time to recharge.

Although it’s true that electric charging stations do exist, particularly in select cities that were chosen to be the first to launch some of the electric models, they are not as prevalent as automakers may want us to think.

For apartment dwellers, plugging in will be very difficult; even finding a standard 110 outlet is not so easy for those in multi-family houses.

What many would-be electric car owners may not know is that it could take over 24 hours to charge their new EVs, particularly using a standard 110-volt outlet for power.

The Wall Street Journal published a recent article that described how difficult it is for the average home owner to cut through the bureaucracy in order to get the upgraded 220 charging stations installed in their residences. It can currently take many weeks for a city to issue the permits needed to supply the fast charger that will reduce the recharging time to between 4 and 8 hours for most models of electric vehicles. The price for the electric charging stations can be another hurdle, at $1,200 for a home charging station, to several thousand dollars for the fast charging posts.

British Aim to Break 1000 MPH With Bloodhound SSC

On: Tue, Jul 20, 2010 at 8:52AM | By: Chris Weiss

British Aim to Break 1000 MPH  With Bloodhound SSC test 1-1

The Bloodhound SSC is on its way toward becoming the fastest "car" in the world, with plans to make it the first wheeled vehicle to boast four-figure speeds. A model of the British streamliner recently made its debut at the U.K.'s Farnborough International Airshow. Measuring about 42 feet long, the model gives a sneak peak of what type of space-age voodoo will be employed to break the current absolute land speed record by over 200 mph.

If you look in the record books today, you'll see that the absolute land speed record set in the Black Rock Desert more than 10 years ago stands at a towering 763 mph. For anyone that's ever driven 150 mph or even 100 mph, that seems like unimaginable speed in a land-based vehicle. But for the team of automotive engineers that made it possible, it's more of a starting point, a gauntlet to do better. You see, it was their vehicle—the ThrustSSC—that set the record back in 1997, surpassing the previous record—also held by the Thrust team—by over 130 mph, while becoming the first land vehicle to break the speed of sound (761 mph). The average group of mortals would be pretty satisfied with that lofty feat, but this particular engineering team, along with its 166 sponsors, simply shifted its goals higher, undertaking the monumental objective of breaking the 1,000 mph mark three years ago.

BMW's New Traffic Assist Technology

On: Mon, Jul 19, 2010 at 2:57PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

BMW's New Traffic Assist Technology test 1-1

BMW has announced plans for brand new technology that will assist in supporting “safer and smoother-flowing” traffic, including 15 new projects to create new driver assist systems, as well as programs that will enable resourceful traffic management which BMW calls “Technologies for Intelligent Traffic.”

The technology, designed to intervene when a potential accident is about to occur, is what BMW is calling their “Active Hazard Braking” feature. This feature will, according to BMW, completely prevent nose-to-tail impacts utilizing a laser scanner that will actually monitor for any vehicles that are too close, ahead and to the side. My favorite mechanism in the plan is a surveillance camera that will be on the lookout for those drivers that constantly ride your tail. The car will then use sensors to evaluate a driver’s reaction to having a car close with a risk of imploding in the front of the car, for example, and the brakes will automatically be applied when the driver is not responding correctly, in order to avoid an accident—that is, after the driver is alerted (and does not respond to) the vehicle’s alarm system.

Another project that BMW is working on is the “Car2x Communications” program that will allow the exchange of information from one to another regarding the traffic patterns.

“If this assistance system discovers that the motorist giving way is probably misjudging his approach, the system warns him of a potential collision through a visual and audible signal.”

Additional projects that the group worked on were pedestrian and cyclist safety technology.

Other subprojects within the Active Safety project were the development of Integrated Lateral Assistance, Pedestrian and Cyclist Safety and the crossover project Driver Awareness and Safety as well as a traffic management program that would implement traffic information from internet sites such as Google to view a potential driving route from the drivers vehicle while in route.

Grand Am Invades New Jersey; Gainsco Scores First Win

On: Mon, Jul 19, 2010 at 2:33PM | By: John Welch

Grand Am Invades New Jersey; Gainsco Scores First Win test 1-1

For the third time in as many years, the Rolex Grand Am Series roared onto Thunderblot Raceway, formerly (or possibly still?) New Jersey Motorsports Park. The NJMP 250 Presented by CrownRoyal did not disappoint; as the action unfolded it became apparent that we would see one of the better races this year under the brutally hot New Jersey sun. That may be the first reference to the "New Jersey Sun" ever used in print . . . ever!

Qualifying was an exciting shoot-out for both Rolex categories—Daytona Prototype and Grand Touring. On the front row in GT, two stalwart American icons, Corvette and Camaro. Being driven by GM hot-shoe Jan Magnusson, the No.97 Steveson Camaro just missed pole position, giving it to the No.07 Banner Corvette of Paul Edwards in the last minute of the session. An all-Chevy front row in GT for the first time since 2003.

In DP, the penalty leveled on the BMW-powered machines finally affected their performance, somewhat, with Memo Rojas able to capture only fourth starting position in the TelMex/Ganassi BMW Riley. On pole, the No.10 Taylor Racing/SunTrust Dallara Ford, driven by Wayne Taylor's son, Ricky. Starting next to the Dallara, Jon Fogarty in the ultra-hungry No.99 Gainsco Chevrolet Riley.

I set these races up like heavyweight title fights because that is exactly what they are: knock-down, drag-out fist fights with cars. Venture inside the post for a blow-by-blow of the entire race . . .


2011 Ford Edge Offers Top Fuel Economy and Power

On: Mon, Jul 19, 2010 at 9:45AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

2011 Ford Edge Offers Top Fuel Economy and Power test 1-1

Ford has done it again! Designed a car with great fuel economy that doesn’t feel like having squirrels running on a wheel powering the engine! The  2011 Ford Edge SEL and Limited (front-wheel drive) offer an estimated 19 mpg city and 27 mpg highway. Best in its class for fuel economy as well as power, the standard engine is a 3.5-liter V6 with as much as 285 hp, more power than most V6 contenders.

The 2011 model Edge has been improved by 1 mpg better city and 2 mpg better highway driving with even more power than its predecessor; 20 more hp than the 2010 Edge.

According to Ford’s website, the chief engineer of the new Edge was quoted as saying, “Providing class-leading fuel economy and power are two of many examples of the improved attributes customers will find in the 2011 Edge; the new Edge demonstrates how a refresh at Ford is much more than just a few tweaks. It’s reworking all the elements, adding more content and improving the look and feel of the vehicle.”

Who's Your Caddy?

On: Sun, Jul 18, 2010 at 3:31PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Who's Your Caddy? test 1-1

When you think of a stereotypical old person driving a car, what kind of car comes to mind first? If you are anything like me, it might just be an older Cadillac.  Everyone had a grandparent, or knew of a grandparent, who owned a big boat Caddy for almost always the same reason:  "They don't make 'em like they used to."  The image of gray hair, wrinkled skin, and a slow and steady 15 mph under the speed limit has haunted Cadillac for years. Despite a couple half-hearted attempts at a youthful movement, like the 1987-1993 Allante or the Catera from 1997-2001, the company has been unsuccessful in changing its overall reputation and street cred.

All of that has begun to change, however, with the advent of Cadillac's V-Series. Unlike many of GM's marketing ploys over the years, all of the Vs has been real upgrades, modifications, and huge improvements that transform relatively mundane and comfy sedans into serious street performers. Much like BMW's M hot rods, Audi's S line, Mercedes' AMG,  and Jaguar's R line, Cadillac's V-Series gave the company entry into a very elite class of vehicles where buyers are concerned with two things:  Comfort and performance. The one problem Cadillac still had, though, was that other than XLR and XLR-V the entire Caddy were four door sedans. Again, this was leaving a lot of sales on the table for cars like the M3, RS4, XKR, and C63. That was, until the new CTS-V Coupe hits the showroom floor.

Ford Gives Drivers Safe Alternative to Hand-Held Texting

On: Sun, Jul 18, 2010 at 11:44AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ford Gives Drivers Safe Alternative to Hand-Held Texting test 1-1

Say what you want about Ford, but no one can argue the fact that the company is very progressive—for all of you Ford haters—yes, that includes you, John Welch!  The voice recognition (VR) technology that is a part of Ford’s SYNC system is said to be more effective in identifying commands than any other system of its type, recognizing over 10,000 commands without having to pass through a single menu.

One of the problems with other VR systems has been figuring out which specific commands are required to enter a destination or make a call. The Nuance system (utilized by Ford SYNC) has implemented a system that can use a variety of different phrases that let users request the same command for example, "play track" or "play song" will both command the same action.

Now Ford’s new technology for the 2011 MyFord Touch driver connect features a "Do Not Disturb" button to enable motorists to block incoming phone calls and text messages while driving. The option can be selected for the duration of the trip, or for times when there is heavy traffic and the driver does not want to be distracted.

Tesla and Toyota Announce Electric RAV4 for 2012

On: Sun, Jul 18, 2010 at 11:38AM | By: Chris Weiss

Tesla and Toyota Announce Electric RAV4 for 2012  test 1-1

In May, Tesla and Toyota announced a partnership toward the production of electric vehicles. As part of the deal, Toyota invested $50 million in Tesla, and Tesla took the reins of Toyota's former NUMMI plant in California. Rumors have indicated that the first fruits of their labor would be an electric version of Toyota's RAV4, and today the companies announced that a deal has been signed toward that end. Tesla has provided Toyota with a prototype and the companies are currently in the process of testing and improving the design.

The electrified RAV4 will be built on the traditional RAV4 platform, but fitted with a Tesla electric drivetrain. Tesla uses a 3-phase AC induction motor and 56 kWh in its Roadster. The motor puts out 288 hp and 295 lb-ft, which is enough to drive the Lotus-based Roadster to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. The companies did not announce specifics of the electric RAV4's drivetrain, but Tesla is currently working on delivering a prototype fleet to Toyota for advanced evaluation and testing.

The electric RAV4 is tentatively scheduled for a 2012 production schedule in the United States.Tesla representatives indicated that the RAV4s may join the Model S sedan for production at the NUMMI plant. The companies are investigating other possible markets for sale around the world.

The RAV4 was said to be an obvious choice due to its size and flexibility. The model was actually made an electric vehicle by Toyota itself more than a decade ago. The RAV4 EV was sold between 1997 to 2003, and close to 1,500 models made it to U.S. roadways. More than half of them are still in service, including ones owned by notable celebrities like Tom Hanks. The original electric RAV4 featured a 27 kWh nickel-metal-hydride battery pack that delivered a range of 100 miles per charge and top speed around 78 mph. Sales of the vehicle were disappointing at the time, but Toyota was able to funnel some of the technology into future vehicles like the Prius.

Toyota Complaints Drop Drastically

On: Sat, Jul 17, 2010 at 9:53PM | By: Chris Weiss

Toyota Complaints Drop Drastically  test 1-1

It's been a long time in the making, but there is some good news for Toyota, if only in the short term. According to Reuters, complaints about unintended acceleration have dropped significantly, as media focus has shifted away from Toyota's safety problems. The drop in complaints and media scrutiny should help Toyota rebound and earn back consumer trust and respect after an embarrassing year of major safety recalls, bad press, and fines for inaction.

Beginning in September of 2009, Toyota announced a string of major recalls that affected an eventual 10 million vehicles in total. Two major recalls were made due to unintended acceleration problems. Floor mats and sticking accelerator pedals were cited as the causes of the unintended acceleration, but the media questioned whether there wasn't a greater issue with the electronic throttle-control system.

So far, both Toyota and NHTSA testing has failed to reveal any problems outside of the floor mats and sticking accelerator pedals. The NHTSA is still involved in a thorough review of the recalls and it's likely to be months before it wraps up its investigation and present its findings. Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that initial findings by the NHTSA have indicated that a percentage of unintended acceleration complaints were due to driver error and were not caused by vehicle deficincies.

Smithsonian Dedicates Upcoming Website and Exhibit to Auto Safety

On: Fri, Jul 16, 2010 at 12:07PM | By: Chris Weiss

Smithsonian Dedicates Upcoming Website and Exhibit to Auto Safety  test 1-1

During a time when interest in auto safety is at its peak, thanks largely to Toyota's unprecedented string of highly publicized safety issues, the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History is putting together a website and exhibit on auto safety. 10 individuals and companies, including GM and AAA, made a significant donation of auto safety equipment and icons ranging from historical seat belts to crash test dummies. Cars and protecting your vital organs—what's not to like?

Highlights of the donations made to the museum yesterday include the costumes used by Vince and Larry—the crash test dummies featured in the "You Could Learn a Lot From a Dummy" series of ads back in the 1980s and 90s—as well as other crash test dummies and parts. The actors who played Vince and Larry, Tony Reitano and Whitney Rydbeck, even showed up for Wednesday's event. Also on hand were the campaign's co-creator, Jim Ferguson, and its director Bill Dear. The quartet spoke candidly about filming the commercials and gave a little insight about the impact the campaign had on them and the greater public. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belt usage rose 14 percent points as a result of the campaign and an estimated 85,000 lives were spared.

While the Vince and Larry memorabilia created the biggest buzz, donations included a variety of historically significant equipment like a 1967 Chevy steering wheel column that was the world's first collapsible model, the first three-point seat belt from Volvo, 1930s AAA driving manuals, and ignition-integrated breath analyzers from Guardian Interlock.

The Smithsonian will feature the newly donated items on a website dedicated to auto safety from the 1920s through today, and later will include them in an exhibit.

Roger White, a curator at the museum said of the collection, "This is about America’s relationship with its cars; we all know it’s a love affair. But automobiles had to change to make them truly useful and acceptable.”

U.S. Auto Brands On The Rise According to New J.D. Power Survey

On: Fri, Jul 16, 2010 at 11:11AM | By: Chris Weiss

The Ford Edge test 2

It's been a rough few years for the American automobile industry, no matter how you cut it. However, it appears that the Detroit Big 3 are benefiting from refocused efforts and the image problems of companies abroad. A new survey from J.D. Power and Associates indicates that American car buyers are actually the most satisfied car consumers in the country.

The Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study (APEAL) asked 76,000 respondents during February through May about their experience with new vehicles purchased within 90 days. No short-form, like or dislike format, the survey grilled respondents about more than 80 different vehicle criteria to garner a comprehensive look at how drivers felt about their automobiles. The data was then compounded to put together a numeric score on a scale that rises to 1,000.

For the first time in 13 years, American cars were actually triumphant over Asian and European models. Overall, American brands averaged 787 points, which was 13 points higher than imports. This represents a large jump from last year, in which American brands earned a collective 776 and lagged five points behind imports. America's gains were driven largely by new and redesigned models from Ford and GM.