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Archives for the Category: Other Car News

What Tesla Must Figure Out Too Succeed

Recently Tesla was started and gave present car companies a run for their money. However, to continue they need to figure out how to deliver what has been promised.

At least 325,000 potential buyers each plunked down $1,000 deposits in less than a week for Model 3, which, at $35,000, will be about the cost of other Tesla models in a bid to put long-range electric vehicles within range off the masses. Now Tesla has to figure out how to ramp up production in a way that will allow it to fulfill those orders starting late next year.

Here are some of the challenges the upstart electric vehicle maker must figure out to grow from a niche maker of luxury electric vehicles for Silicon Valley’s technorati to a mass producer of a car that might free hundreds of thousands, eventually millions of people from their dependence on gasoline.

  1. Who will make it?

Will Tesla do all the manufacturing at its Fremont, Calif., assembly plant or elsewhere, or contract with an established automaker or supplier? Or will it go to Europe or China?

The French minister of environment and energy reportedly has offered Tesla the site of a nuclear power plant slated for decommissioning later this year.

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Ford Presents New Feature To Keep The Driver Entertained In A Self Driving Car

Many companies are striving towards autonomous driving, however the question remains what to introduce next. Ford Motor Company envisions its autonomous vehicles as mobile movie theaters, with screens and projectors that vanish into the ceiling as passengers take over the wheel, according to a patent issued last week.

The patent, for an “Autonomous Vehicle Entertainment System,” is less interesting for what it describes—a widely anticipated entertainment system for drivers who no longer need to focus on the road—than for what it anticipates: driverless cars that still need drivers.

Other technology leaders, like Google, anticipate driverless cars that do not need human intervention at all—since they drive so much better than humans do. The difference suggests Ford may be headed down what one mobility expert calls “a dead end.”

According to Ford’s patent, ”The entertainment system controller presents media content on a first display while the vehicle is operating in the autonomous mode and on a second display when the vehicle is operating in a non-autonomous mode.”

The patent depicts the first display as a projection screen in the front of the car, covering the windshield (pictured below). When the driver takes over, the screen and projector retract into the ceiling and the presentation shifts to a display integrated within “a dashboard, an instrument cluster, or a rearview mirror.”

The patent suggests in places that a driver may take control mid-trip. For example, the vehicle may be fitted with audible or visual alarms, it says, presumably to alert a potential driver that it’s time to pay attention and drive. But drawings supplied with the patent depict removable front seats—removed in autonomous mode to turn the car into a theater—which suggests passengers would have to decide in advance whether a trip would be driverless or driven.

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Can You Get In Trouble For Driving Cautiously In Bad Conditions

 

When the roads are lousy, don’t be afraid to slow down – going the speed limit could actually get you a ticket in British Columbia, says the RCMP.

“Safety first,” says RCMP Corporal Ronda McEwen, with E division traffic services, in an e-mail. “The posted speed limit is the maximum in ideal conditions so, in many cases, travelling at a reduced speed is very much appropriate and required.”

Driving too fast when roads are snowy or slippery or when you can’t see due to fog or snow could get you a $167 fine and 3 demerit points in British Columbia – even if you’re driving at or below the speed limit.

If the speed limit is 120 km/h but you can only go 70 km/h without losing control, then that’s the speed you have to go, McEwen says.

“If a driver travels at a speed that is appropriate given the road conditions, they will not be ticketed,” McEwen says.

The rules vary by province. In Ontario, you could be charged with careless driving if you’re going the speed limit in lousy conditions – but it’s not likely, says OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt.

“Careless driving is a pretty high threshold,” Schmidt says. “The speed limit is the maximum for ideal conditions – in less than ideal conditions, we don’t want people driving dangerously or carelessly.”

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Would You Rather Drive Or Have Your Car Drive For You

 

Is this a case of not knowing what you have till it’s gone, what will happen when the car doesn’t need a driver turning its steering wheel anymore.

Mercedes-Benz , Cadillac, Volvo–not to mention Google GOOGL -1.51%, Tesla and, rumor has it, Apple AAPL +0.00%–are all racing to relieve drivers of that fun. Within five years, most automakers say, they’ll offer highly automated cars that can handle stop-and-go traffic and freeway speeds without any driver input. In ten years drivers will be able to work or even take a nap during their commute. Volvo just unveiled the Time Machine, a futuristic cockpit with a 25-inch flat-screen that rotates out of the dashboard as the steering wheel retreats and the driver reclines. Google is developing self-driving cars that don’t even come with a steering wheel or gas pedal.

This is the future, asserts Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk. “Any cars that are being made that don’t have full autonomy will have negative value,” he predicted in a November conference call with Wall Street analysts. “It will be like owning a horse. You’re really owning it for sentimental reasons.”

Not everyone thinks so. “It’s not just getting from point A to point B,” says Mazda’s soft-spoken CEO, Masamichi Kogai, who heads up perhaps the only major automaker that is not working on autonomous cars. “Our mission is to provide the essence of driving pleasure.

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The Car’s Creation, From The Drawing Board To Your Home

A lot of work goes into creating a car, numerous ideas and designs and people take part in the making of a car. Infact, the car-creation odyssey makes NASA’s Journey to Mars program seem like a Caribbean luxury cruise. While we frequently address elements of the design and development process on this page, this is the first time we’ve presented the entire start-to-finish plan; this year’s 10Best celebration seemed like the perfect time and place to do so. One domestic and one import manufacturer—both requesting anonymity for competitive reasons—helped compile this guide to how cars are made.

We gathered related tasks under five headings.

The time required is the most interesting and secretive part of a car’s gestation; a crash program to replace a dead-on-its-wheels product may take only half the time invested in a normal, full-redesign effort.

In our illustrations, the clock begins when the generals gather to spur their troops to action. The end is when the new model reaches showrooms. On average, the entire process takes 72 months. There’s overlap to save time, as revealed by the start and finish months listed in each of the five category headings. After-sale activities—including service issues, continuous improvement, and midlife face lifts—are not included in this account. That’s for another 10Best.

  1. INVENTION

MONTHS 0–72

Research market, including in-house and field investigations, to identify the role of this product and its components in the global portfolio; define separation from similar models sold by sister brands

Identify special features, advantages, and potential world, U.S., or segment firsts

Define competitive set, target customers; set curb-weight, fuel-economy, and performance goals

Competitive assessment

Powertrain selection

Budget, funding, pricing, investment considerations

Computer-aided-engineering (CAE) analysis

Customer, press, analyst clinics

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Tesla Specializes In Seating In- House

With the competition tight in the automotive industry, each company trying to get ahead of one another, sometimes it is easier to manufacture certain products inside the company rather than importing it in. The latest: the Model X’s second-row seats.

In August, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk told investors it was difficult to make the seats, which he described as a “sculptural work of art, but a very tricky thing to get right.” They were so challenging that they led him to reduce the electric-car maker’s delivery forecast that month to as few as 50,000 from 55,000, which set off a wave of skepticism over his ambitious plans.

“We have substantially in-sourced the seats at this point,” Musk said Tuesday during the third-quarter earnings call with analysts. “Tesla is producing its own seats.”

Musk has long been a fan of doing things on his own as much as possible, such as building the world’s largest battery factory outside of Reno, Nevada, to streamline production and reduce costs to bring a more-affordable car — the Model 3 — to market. When an analyst asked Musk about the enormous costs of the automotive industry, Musk said that Tesla is becoming more capital-efficient.

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Safety Upgrades You Can Make To Your Old Cars

Before now if your car was older than some of the new safety technologies you were out of luck. However now you don’t have to be left out of the technological revolution. Audiovox makes a rearview camera that can be added on.

The rearview camera is one of the most popular of a growing list of add-on devices and services that promise to bring modern features to aging jalopies.

“Lane departure and collision warning, pedestrian warnings, high-beam control and traffic sign recognition — all of those can be retrofitted in a customer’s car,” said Elad Serfaty, a vice president at Mobileye, whose technology is built into a variety of vehicles from BMW, Volvo and other carmakers that offer collision detection and prevention.

A warning and monitoring system that can be added to older vehicles, like the Mobileye 660, costs roughly $1,000 including a professional installation, Mr. Serfaty said, but he pointed out that the benefits could outweigh the costs. A Highway Loss Data Institute study of Honda Accords and Crosstours equipped with lane departure and forward collision warnings, for example, found a 14 percent reduction in damage claims compared with models without the systems.

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Big Discounts On The Horizon From Car Companies

When is the best time to purchase car, and during what season do car companies have better deals. Well thanks to further insight it seems, as though right now might be the best time if you need to or want to buy a new car.

We are now approaching the end of the dog days of summer and dealerships are customarily quiet. Buyers generally are not overly interested in a new ride during vacation time.

This makes for a buying opportunity.

Take Kia. The 2015 Soul qualifies for an extra $1,000 in bonus cash as part of Kia’s end of summer “Best-in-Class” 12-day sale. That brings the combined factory and dealer discounts to about $3,000 on a $22,195 wagon-like runabout.

Ford, of course, wind down summer with its annual Employee Pricing extravaganza. The $2,551 discount on the Fusion sedan can be combined with 1.49 per cent financing for up to 60 months. Insiders suggest the savvy shopper will be able to squeeze out even more in hard negotiations.

Also consider models like the Hyundai Elantra, which is coming to the end of its current body style (Hyundai has released teaser illustrations of the next-generation Elantra). To keep interest healthy, Hyundai has slapped a $4,000 spiff on a $25,549 Elantra. And you should get at least another $1,000 in a negotiated dealer discount. That comes to at least a 20 per cent total discount on this Elantra.

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State Bird, State Flower, State Car?

When traveling across the United States you will see many different types of cars, seeing as each state tends to like certain types.

If you were to take a list of the most popular cars in each state in the U.S., it’d be a pretty monotonous list. A bunch of Ford F-150s, some Chevy Silverado and Ram pickups, the odd Honda Accord or Toyota Camry here or there.

But we were curious: What car was the most distinctive in each state? What model of car did, say, California buy far more often than any other state in the Union? We turned to auto analyst Tom Libby of IHS Automotive to help us crunch the numbers. First, Libby pulled data about the make and model of every car sold in the U.S., and calculated the popularity of each by percentage using registration data. Then, he did the same at the state level, and compared each state to the national average.

“I compared the share for each model in, for instance, Alabama with the share of the same of model in the United States and came up with a ratio,” says Libby. “Then I basically ranked those ratios within each state. It’s an interesting methodology—you’re basically able to compare the individual demand of a model in a state with the individual demand at the national level, and see what ways is each state unique from the nation.”

Some states seem to conform to stereotypes—Texas loves the hulking Cadillac Escalade EXT, NPR-loving New England enjoys their Volvos, and in the rough country of North Dakota they love the GMC Yukon Denali XL. But there are surprises: Georgia, for instance, seems to have a thing for Nissan Leaf. “Georgia had very, very strong incentives to buy electric vehicles,” says Libby, referencing the fact that until very recently, the Peach State offered $5,000 in state tax credits (in addition to $7,500 in federal tax credits) to anyone who bought an electric vehicle. In other words, everyone who bought a Nissan Leaf in Georgia saved themselves a cool $12,500.

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 What Stands In The Way With Cars Being Able To Drive Themselves

The autonomous car is a dream for all car companies to sell, however they may need to wait a little longer to be able to put this car on the market as they fix these few bugs.

As more than 800 engineers, software developers, transportation experts and other technical folks met last week in this Detroit suburb to discuss the risks and benefits of autonomous and connected vehicles, they were raising more questions than finding answers.

Here are six unsolved challenges that stand between the technologies’ potential and reality:

  1. Cybersecurity and privacy protection. Maybe this can’t be solved until there are thousands of pilot vehicles on our roads, but last week Wired magazine writer Andy Greenberg wrote about two cybersecurity experts who accessed a newer Jeep Cherokee’s computer brain through its Uconnect infotainment system and rewrote the firmware to plant their malicious code. The result: hip-hop began blasting through the stereo system, the AC turned to maximum force. Then the hacker’s code killed the transmission and brakes. We know autonomous cars will have even more software coding. One major attack and consumer confidence in the technology could be severely damaged.
  1. How much will these vehicles cost? Established automakers are introducing progressively more advanced autonomous features in their most expensive models. Ride-hailing or other fleet-based services such as Uber or Lyft will try to deliver their service at a lower price than competing options.

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