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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Technology

Is Facebook A Good Marketing Strategy for The Automotive Industry?

On: Tue, Oct 19, 2010 at 9:33AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Is Facebook A Good Marketing Strategy for The Automotive Industry? test 1-1

A dealership technology panel was recently formed by the Rainbow-PUSH coalition in Detroit. The panel gathered at an automotive conference in order to evaluate whether advertising on Facebook is really effective for the auto industry.

National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers representative Damon Lester says that many members are interested in setting up Facebook pages for their dealerships. The concern is that the social media site may be a way for employees to waste vital work time on the internet.

Other concerns dealers voiced was that Facebook could be a vehicle for bad public relations if disgruntled employees or customers decide to use the media site to “bad-mouth” the dealership. Auto dealers are also concerned that once negative statements are live online, there is nothing that can be done to remove them or reverse the effects.

BMW and Mercedes Add iPad Mount Option

On: Mon, Oct 18, 2010 at 12:37PM | By: Chris Weiss

BMW and Mercedes Add iPad Mount Option  test 1-1

The iPad has got to be the official electronics accessory of the year. It's also kind of a trendy status symbol, so it's no surprise that some people might want to mount it prominently in their vehicles to show how hip they are. And two luxury automakers, Mercedes-Benz and BMW, will be giving their customers just that opportunity. Both companies announced their own customized iPad mounts.

A tad short of the completely Apple-overed Mercedes S Class iBusiness announced by tuning firm Brabus earlier this year, but still a way of getting your daily dose of "i" in your car, the new mounts basically let you replace the headrest LCD displays that are so five years ago.

Buick Tackles The World's Toughest [Virtual] Roads

On: Fri, Oct 15, 2010 at 4:00PM | By: Chris Weiss

Buick Tackles The World's Toughest [Virtual] Roads  test 1-1

There seems to be a lot of attention lately to the world's scariest, most challenging roads—well deserved attention, if I might add; these roads are fascinating. The History Channel recently pulled its grizzled, tried-and-true ice road truckers (plus one pretty cute chick) off the ice to tackle some of these roads in a new series called IRT Deadliest Roads. The truckers navigate some of the most dangerous, unforgiving roads in the Indian Himalayas. It's terrifying but quite compelling television.

Well, Buick has announced that it's getting in on the deadly road craze. It has created a 3D simulator that allows it to recreate some of the world's roughest, most difficult roads for vehicle testing. So when you buy a Buick in the future, you'll know that it can not only stand up to your local dirt road, but can take on some of the world's worst roadways.

V8-Based Bentley Continental GT to Get Audi S Tronic Transmission

On: Thu, Oct 14, 2010 at 4:59PM | By: Chris Weiss

V8-Based Bentley Continental GT to Get Audi S Tronic Transmission test 1-1

Audi and Bentley are known to be working jointly on a 4.0-liter V8 engine that will be used in the Continental GT and Audi models. The latest indications are that Bentley will also share a transmission with Audi for the V8 Continental GT. In an effort to appeal to the buyers it has in mind for the V8 Continental, Bentley will equip it with Audi's S Tronic transmission.

The S Tronic transmission is a sporty, dual-clutch transmission. The S Tronic set-up uses two wet clutches, one for odd-numbered gears and one for even numbers, to ensure seamless power flow, short, decisive gear shifts, and smooth acceleration. The S Tronic provides for both manual and automated shifts.

Bentley believes that the buyer for the V8 Continental GT will be a different breed than that of the W12 model. Sales and marketing chief Alasdair Stewart said: "The V8 will find a new audience for us. There are sports car enthusiasts out there, particularly in the US, who won’t buy a sports car unless it’s powered by a V8." 

The Crewe crew believes that the S Tronic gearbox will appeal to sports car fans over the ZF automatic transmission used in the current W12-based Continental. The company is currently assessing how the underbody of the car will need to be changed to fit the S Tronic hardware. A feasibility study will determine if the S Tronic is the right solution for Bentley.


Chevy Volt, What The Heck Is It?!

On: Thu, Oct 14, 2010 at 11:53AM | By: John Welch

Chevy Volt, What The Heck Is It?! test 1-1

The controversy surrounding the Chevy Volt has turned into the sort of PR nightmare that General Motors is famous for, and has famously tried to avoid. Is it a hybrid? An electric car? A plug-in hybrid?! Any categories I'm forgetting? I can give you my personal opinion, which I have formulated over the last week by myself. This isn't the AutoShopper's opinion in any way—we have had a constant inter-office argument going since Monday. Each editor has his own thoughts on the Volt and what exactly it is; they are welcome to share their thoughts in the comments . . . so are you, dear AutoShopperBlog reader!

The media, including our blog, has muddied a few of the issues here. A hybrid car, by definition, consists of an electric motor piggybacked on top of an internal combustion engine. The Volt, by comparison, features an internal combustion engine piggybacked on an electric motor. Okay, so, by definition, the Volt isn't a hybrid, contrary to what Motor Trend and others seem to think. The Volt does not operate without its electric engine, its main source of locomotion, so clearly, it doesn't fit in the box created by the accepted definition of a "hybrid".

CNN Recognizes ALMS, Covers Petit Le Mans

On: Thu, Oct 14, 2010 at 10:05AM | By: John Welch

CNN Recognizes ALMS, Covers Petit Le Mans test 1-1

Despite rumors suggesting the American Le Mans Series has no television package for 2011, the series ended 2010 with as much media exposure as it could have possibly hoped for. Being the second stop of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, the event welcomed many news outlets and organizations from overseas, and recieved an unusal amount of coverage from our own North American outlets.

One such member of the media elite, CNN, sent a crew up to Braselton to cover the pre-race ceremonies at Petit. They did an excellent job, speaking with every important personality they could find in the paddock. It appeared that CNN, like all North American news outlets, had never witnessed big time sports car racing before. They made up for their lack of knowledge by asking the right questions, of the right people. Scott Atherton, Doug Fehan, Patrick Long, Giancarlo Fisichella, Allan McNish, Scott Sharp were all interviewed in this piece, and all had interesting things to say. Other North American Series may wonder why attendence and viewership is down; could it be that American race fans are more interested in variety and competition than who the drivers are married to? HHhmmm, food for thought . . .

Lexus Annouces Innovative Safety Technology For The New LS 600 H Model

On: Wed, Oct 13, 2010 at 10:07AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Lexus Annouces Innovative Safety Technology For The New LS 600 H Model  test 1-1

Toyota has come up with innovative new technology for Lexus with the intention of reducing the possibility of automotive accidents caused by motorists’ inattention to the road. The new Lexus LS 600h will feature the latest in pre-crash safety technology using a system that is able to keep watch over the driver to monitor his/her concentration levels. The Lexus LS 600h goes on sale next month.

Lexus has introduced an intelligent new driver safety system using 6 cameras that monitor the driver’s face as he/she operates the car. If there’s an obstacle in the path while the driver’s head is facing the wrong direction, this ingenious technology will activate a warning signal and then initiate safety measures on its own. The system also incorporates active headrest safety features designed to minimize injury in the event of a rear-end collision.

The world’s first innovative technology that provides for the Driver Monitoring System is one element of the advanced Pre-Crash Safety (PCS) system, which brings together a series of features that can recognize a potentially dangerous traffic/road situation and assist the motorist to take action to reduce the risk of a collision. If there is an impact, the system takes action to try to minimize the impact to the driver.

Will Your Car Run on Google One Day?

On: Wed, Oct 13, 2010 at 9:29AM | By: Chris Weiss

Will Your Car Run on Google One Day?  test 1-1

Over the weekend, Google detailed some of its recent work on self-driven vehicles. The tech company is looking to leverage its expertise in mapping and software toward creating self-driven vehicles that could cut traffic accidents. In fact, Google believes that its technology could cut the 1.2 million lives lost in car accidents annually by as much as half. Far from a new undertaking, Google has already spent much time refining its car.

Google's fleet of prototype cars have already logged 140,000 miles in testing "from [its] Mountain View campus to [its] Santa Monica office and on to Hollywood Boulevard. They’ve driven down Lombard Street, crossed the Golden Gate bridge, navigated the Pacific Coast Highway, and even made it all the way around Lake Tahoe."

Each car is driven with the help of technological components including mapping software, laser range finders, video cameras, and radar sensors. They're capable of sensing and adjusting to the traffic around them and navigating the roadways.

Of course, since the cars are still experimental, and experiments by definition are bound to fail at some point, Google always has a live person in the driver's seat when conducting on-road testing. That person can take over the second a glitch or problem occurs. Google didn't give any indication as to how often its driver has to grab the wheel back hold from the ghost in the machine, but was content in stating that the precautionary measure is taken every time. Next to this "back-up" driver, Google has a software engineer tracking the vehicle's software. The company also speaks to local police prior to running tests.

More Pictures and Info on the SSC Ultimate Aero II

On: Wed, Oct 13, 2010 at 9:26AM | By: Chris Weiss

More Pictures and Info on the SSC Ultimate Aero II test 1-1

Well, it's now mid-October, and September came and went without any big unveil event for the SSC Ultimate Aero II. After canceling a VIP event over the summer, SSC promised that it would introduce the world to its latest world-record-aspiring creation. Early last month, leaks of a Top Gear magazine feature made their way onto the Internet, followed by the actual feature in Top Gear magazine. But, there was no big event as we were looking forward to. It appears SSC was content with making the new Ultimate Aero official via Top Gear—an odd move in this day and age of big, public unveils with solid Web presence.

Well, luckily Top Gear is picking up the slack. This week, it released a few more pictures of the sultry, blue-eyed Ultimate Aero II and filled in some additional details.

Bentley and Audi Teaming Up on 4.0-Liter V8 Engine

On: Mon, Oct 11, 2010 at 3:12PM | By: Chris Weiss

Bentley and Audi Teaming Up on 4.0-Liter V8 Engine  test 1-1

If you take a look at a list of the 10 or so least efficient cars in America, you'll see the name "Bentley" pop up more than once. The 2010 Bentley Continental GT, for instance, brings home just 11 mpg city and 17 mpg highway. When you make cars stacked with luxurious accents (read: weight) and powered with giant W12 engines, you're bound to find yourself on that uncoveted list.

With U.S. and global fuel economy regulations clamping down over the next few years, Bentley will need to find a way to cut its emissions. Toward that end, Bentley is working with Volkswagen stablemate Audi on a new engine that will help it cut its embarrassingly large footprint.

The new engine is direct-injected 4.0-liter V8 to be used in both Bentley and Audi models. So far the only model being mentioned is the dirty, ol' Continental GT, which currently uses a 6.0-liter W12 to deliver the aforementioned EPA figures. Bentley plans to offer the V8 option on the Continental GT toward the end of next year and indicates that the smaller, cleaner V8 will cut emissions by 40 percent over the W12.

Bentley's director of chassis and powertrain Brian Gush assured future Continental owners that the new engine will still deliver the Bentley experience. He told auto guide Whatcar: "We are adapting it for our purposes so that it delivers Bentley driving characteristics. It does not have a conventional layout."

Toyota Prius Takes It to the Next Level With Smart Grid System

On: Mon, Oct 11, 2010 at 11:05AM | By: Chris Weiss

Toyota Prius Takes It to the Next Level With Smart Grid System test 1-1

The Toyota Prius is already the best-selling hybrid and probably  the most recognizeable face of the green movement within the automotive industry. That distinction is about to become even more pronounced. Toyota has said that when the plug-in version of the Prius launches in 2012 in Japan, the company will also launch the Toyota Smart Center, a networked home smart grid system that will work toward better energy efficiency.

The Smart Center will link a home's grid with televisions and mobile phones, allowing homeowners to view their consumption, view the charging status of their Prius, and monitor other aspects of power consumption. The system will help homeowners make better decisions about energy consumption, calculating strategies that can cut usage and save money. Toyota aims to use the system and Prius plug-in toward helping homes to become up to 75 percent more efficient than standard homes with gasoline vehicles parked out front.

Unfortunately, for those who own or plan to buy other plug-in cars, the Smart Center will be designed to work only with the Prius Plug-In. If successful, perhaps Toyota will expand the line with a more universal model.