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Toyota Denied Request to Dismiss Dispute Regarding Hybrid Technology

On: Fri, May 28, 2010 at 9:01AM | By: Sherry Christiansen


Toyota Denied Request to Dismiss Dispute Regarding Hybrid Technology test 1-1

“When it rains it pours.” It seems like that should be Toyota’s new slogan as Toyota Motor Corporation lost its bid to dismiss a Florida company’s patent infringement claim.  Worst case scenario could result in the Japanese automaker being prohibited from importing its most recent model hybrids and top sellers; the Prius and Camry and Lexus Hybrids.

The Supreme Court let stand an appeal by Toyota in a $4.3 million dollar lawsuit by Paice LLC of McLean, Virginia (Paice is an acronym for Power-Assisted Internal Combustion Engines). Last year, a federal appeals court also sided with Paice. Toyota appealed but has now lost in a patent infringement case affecting their hybrid synergy system. Toyota may have to start paying Paice royalties of $25 for every Prius, Highlander Hybrid, and Lexus RX 400h sold.


Ford Preparing To Ax Mercury

On: Thu, May 27, 2010 at 5:07PM | By: John Welch


Ford Preparing To Ax Mercury test 1-1

The American Car Company graveyard might get a little larger soon; it looks like Ford is getting ready to give Mercury the "'Ole Yeller" soon. Allan Mullaly made it clear when he took the reigns at Ford, that he would emphasize one premier brand, Ford, and would eventually wind down extraneous brands Lincoln and Mercury. According to sources, the automaker's top executives are preparing a proposal to kill Mercury to be presented to directors in July. Mercury is already losing two of its models next year, leaving it with a serious product drought.

The plan hinges on Ford's ability to convince Lincoln/Mercury dealers to close or consolidate with existing Ford dealerships, a negotiation that could get rocky. No dealer wants to give up his franchise. Unfortunately for them, this plan falls right in line with Ford's other cost cutting measures, namely the elimination of small-niche European brands like Volvo and Jaguar. With the Euro-pudge trimmed, Mullaly is now turning his attention to Ford's North American fat.


The Evolution Of The SUV

On: Thu, May 27, 2010 at 11:53AM | By: Sherry Christiansen


Chevy Nomad test 2

During the depression, farmers borrowed money from local banks to purchase their work trucks for use on the farm, but bankers would not loan them the money needed to purchase personal family vehicles. Subsequently, an Australian farmer’s wife once made a suggestion that Ford Motor Company design a vehicle that would be able to function to work on the farm and then transport the family on the week-ends in an automobile that was more stylish and comfortable than a truck.

Ford responded to the request from the farmer’s wife, and hired designer, Lewis Bandt who created a prototype of such a vehicle, and in 1934, a Ford plant in Geelong, Australia produced the first 500 models of an automobile that would eventually evolved into the Sports Utility Vehicle or SUV. Historically automakers attempted to design new four-wheel drive vehicles in a variety of different manifestation since the inception of gasoline powered engines.


Ford Recruits Virtual Factory Worker

On: Wed, May 26, 2010 at 5:10PM | By: Sherry Christiansen


Ford Recruits Virtual Factory Worker test 1-1

Many manufacturers have implemented robotics to assist them in evaluating safe ergonomics for their employees, but Ford Motor Company has taken a step into the future as the company has recruited a virtual factory worker who can perform extraordinary feats.

He even has a name: Santos. Santos is a very unusual virtual worker in that he can decide to perform a task autonomously such as; walking, talking, and even answering questions when asked. His programming was designed to simulate the same movements and restrictions that humans encounter, and to enable the robot to record physical limits when he is working, such as how far he can reach, or how much weight he can lift, or to record when the simulated human body becomes fatigued.


 

Ohio to Get New Plant for Manufacturing Electric Car Batteries for Coda Automotive

On: Wed, May 26, 2010 at 4:46PM | By: Michael Jon Lazar


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There is some good news for all of you hybrid-loving and ‘green’-going folks out there who have always thought that a really good electric car could be made in the US and not be as plagued with issues as some electric cars are. Coda Automotive, which is a newer electric car company based in California, has announced they will team up with some of the Chinese suppliers they use to make their revolutionary new Coda sedan, slated for a 2011 release. They are using a newer form of automotive-grade lithium-ion batteries that are supposed to offer a similar mile-per-gallon/mile-per-charge ratio as gas-powered cars do. Looking at their website (http://www.codaautomotive.com), the company states the car will get about 90-120 miles per charge, with a six-hour charging period required.

According to a report published by the Wall Street Journal, “Coda, which announced the move Tuesday, will final-assemble the electric car at a facility in the greater Los Angeles area with component modules produced in China. It will initially make the car available only in California, where it is targeting sales of 14,000 electric sedans by the end of 2011.”

But the fledgling automaker has been searching for a place to hunker down and really make these lithium-ion batteries in a more permanent setting in the US. This is because they are so costly to import from overseas. The same article sheds more light on why Coda is looking for a US-based lithium-ion batteries manufacturing plant.


Top Gear US: Here They Come!

On: Wed, May 26, 2010 at 4:46PM | By: Clay Ritchings


Top Gear US: Here They Come! test 1-1

I have been a fan of Top Gear for some time now; as a matter of fact, it is one of my favorite shows. Beside the upscale production values, probably the best part of the show is the “challenges” and the interaction between the hosts while trying to accomplish them. Since the announcement “Top Gear is coming to the U.S. with its very own American cast” I have been doing a lot of reading through the related blogs. While I enjoy the light-hearted ribbing that the hosts poke at America, I was really surprised at the reactions on the blogs from the users.

Typical user comments like: “American roads are straight”—“American cars are rubbish”—“Reviewing American Cars would be dull”—“What happens when we have to make a right turn”—“who wants to see big, fat, ugly, gas-guzzling, sloppy fit, American cars & trucks”. These comments litter the forums and blogs that talk about their beloved show jumping the pond. What cracks me up is that the people posting these comments act as if they drive the cars featured on the Top Gear, when in reality; they are most likely driving a FORD. Think about it, Ford has been a top seller in Europe for many years, so it is likely that they are not driving to work in a Ferrari, Lambo or Lotus—more like a Fiesta or Focus. OK, maybe you’re driving a Jaguar…get under the car or hood and look around, you will see FoMoCo emblazoned everywhere.


Ford Has Done it All, Including A Car That Can Blog

On: Wed, May 26, 2010 at 3:47PM | By: Sherry Christiansen


Ford Has Done it All, Including A Car That Can Blog test 1-1

Ford has done it again—another first for the Detroit automaker!—the first ever automobile to use social media to communicate while on the road.  Ford’s “American Journey 2.0 research project” has been successfully completed using a Fiesta that traveled from Ann Arbor, Michigan to San Mateo, California.

In partnership with the University of Michigan, Ford has developed a new computer application called “Auto”matic Blog.  The Fiesta’s is known as @AJtheFiesta and it uses the login name to tweet progress of the trip based on “vehicle telemetrics.” 

Two Ford Fiestas traveled from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor on May 13; they were linked to each other and to the global community through “Auto”matic Blog. The week-long road trip ended at Silicon Valley's annual ideas festival—the Maker Faire.

Upon the arrival of the two Fiestas, Ford announced the idea of the automobile as "a brand new technological platform for social media." "The car is the ultimate mobile device," claims Venkatesh Prasad, technical leader of the Infotronics team in Ford Research & Advanced Engineering.  "Ford has led the convergence of the auto and consumer electronics industries, and now we're researching how to responsibly and safely harness the Internet to enhance drivers' time behind the wheel."


New Power Stations For Nissan Leaf

On: Wed, May 26, 2010 at 2:38PM | By: Sherry Christiansen


New Power Stations For Nissan Leaf test 1-1

As the Nissan Leaf gets closer to delivery date, final orders are in at a whopping 17,000 consumers who want to purchase the all-electric car this year—that includes Japanese and American buyers. As it stands today, Nissan has the capacity to deliver only about 12,000 Leafs by March of 2011, but with all of the those new electric plug-ins on the road—and many more to come—how will motorists power up?

EV-Charge America is currently installing Smart EV Charging Stations across the country. The electric vehicle charging stations are being located in public and private parking areas, municipalities, governments, city streets, and Interstates. In San Diego alone, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) announced that it will work with Electric Transportation Engineering Corp. to build 1,500 public charging stations and 1000  home-based points, in preparation for the 2011 Nissan Leaf all-electric car. The stations are targeted to be complete by July of 2010. 


Coda's 2011 Electric Sedan Is Looking Pretty Good

On: Wed, May 26, 2010 at 9:40AM | By: Michael Jon Lazar


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This startup, fledgling automaker based in Los Angeles, California is getting some pretty decent attention in the news as of late. I have been seeing articles and reports from all over about this new electric car line that promises one of the most advanced electric batteries to ever be used in any electric car. This is because the car uses a Chinese-made Lithium-ion (LiFePO4) battery that is configured with 728 cells (104s7p), and that, according to the specs on their website (http://www.codaautomotive.com/tech_specs.html), gets around, “6 hours from 220V (30AMP)” driving time. The battery can easily be charged overnight, in about 5-7 hours.

The car is an impressive and roomy four-door sedan that is both sugary-looking and aesthetically pleasing to the eyes. And it’s pretty safe too. According to the safety specs on the car, which can be easily found at their website in the ‘Tech Specs’ section, the car is equipped with, “Intelligent 6 air bag system (two advanced frontal, two seat-mounted side, and 2 side curtain airbags), Occupant Detection.”  But they also offer the always desirable Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS), and Electronic Stability Control, as well as three point seatbelts. The overall federal safety rating, according to their website, will be an, “Anticipated 5-Star NCAP (New Car Assessment Program).”


When It Comes To Personalized License Plates, Choose Your Words Wisely

On: Tue, May 25, 2010 at 9:55AM | By: Sherry Christiansen


When It Comes To Personalized License Plates, Choose Your Words Wisely test 1-1

You have probably heard the phrase “be careful what you ask for.” Well, when it comes to ordering personalized license plates “be careful what you write.”  A federal judge in South Carolina said the state violated the constitution when lawmakers voted to authorize license plates inscribed with the words “I believe,” as well as images of little crosses and stained glass windows. 

The statute the judge was referencing pertains to our constitutional rights for separation of church and state.  Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, who initiated the legislation allowing the license plates to be printed, condemned the ruling, stating, "For those who say proclaiming 'I believe' violates the constitution by giving preference to Christianity, I think this lawsuit clearly discriminates against persons of faith."

Advocate for separation of church and state, Rev. Barry Lynn said in a news paper interview; "Government must never be allowed to express favored treatment for one faith over others."

More recently a New Jersey woman in Manville received a letter from the State Motor Vehicle Commission asking her to send in her license plates as a result of a complaint filed about the plates being offensive. The plates donned the letters “BIOCH”, supposedly insinuating 'biotch', slang word for 'bitch'. Evidently the motorist had been legally driving around in her Chrysler convertible, license plates personalized with the letters “BIOCH” for four years before the state realized what the slang stood for.


Traffic Camera Accuracy Problems Worldwide

On: Mon, May 24, 2010 at 2:54PM | By: Clay Ritchings


Traffic Camera Accuracy Problems Worldwide test 1-1

In the past week, thousands of vehicle owners across the US, England and Australia will receive refunds after officials admitted that the automated citations they received were either bogus or issued illegally. Since the Robocop devices have been put into use, we have all been assured of their accuracy by the municipalities that have employed them—only to see time and time again that the system is flawed. It seems like you have to get the press or TV news involved just to defend yourself, that is, unless you are the Mayor or Commissioner. It is obvious that the citations are not always being reviewed, that complaints are being ignored, and far worse, as long as the money keeps rolling in… nobody cares. Read on to see that innocent drivers are being ticketed and the only way they get any satisfaction is with the help of the media—not due process.