cartechboy writes: Augmented reality, we've now entered the age where this is a thing. In an era where automakers like Lexus use X-rays to service its supercar, you have to wonder why one should even bother stepping into a new car showroom to check out a car. Ferrari's realized this and just recreated an augmented reality app that lets you actually see under the skin of its supercars. With the app, buyers can see seven different aspects of the car, from wind tunnel animations to exploded diagrams of of the wheels, drivetrain, and more. The app works with five new Ferrari vehicles, with more to possibly come. While this tech is clearly aimed at enthusiasts, it's a good example of how an AR app could offer buyers a closer look at the top features of nearly any car someday in the near future.
cartechboy writes: Audi has been working on autonomous car tech for a while. Last year it showed us at CES an A7 that could drop someone off at the front door of a mall and then park itself. Now, it has just shown off an A7 that drove itself 550 miles from San Francisco to Las Vegas for CES. Yes, a self-driving Audi A7 just drove itself 550 miles. Heck, it might have even passed you on the roads and you didn't even notice. The car drove itself between speeds of 0 and 70 mph including making lane changes and passing maneuvers. The car relies on a combination of various sensors, many of which are close to production ready. These include long-range radar sensors, which are already in use in Audi's cruise control and side-assist driving aids, as well as two mid-range radar sensors that complete a 360 degree view. Laser scanners are mounted within the grille and rear bumper to provide information on various objects, both static and moving, on the road. There's also a high-resolution 3D video camera as well. A computer processes all of this information and adjusts the steering wheel, brakes, and transmission. The car is now at CES and is being shown.
cartechboy writes: In what might be the worst kept secret ever, Mercedes-Benz has finally taken the wraps off its autonomous concept car dubbed the F015 Luxury in Motion Concept. Shown at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas last night, the concept is a self-driving, fully-connected, hydrogen-electric plug-in hybrid that touts a vision of driving in the future. Mercedes says this concept is not only a means for getting someone from one point to another, but also a usable space for entertainment or work as well as a platform for communication and interaction. The hydrogen-electric plug-in hybrid system is unique in that it produces zero emissions at all times. It consists of a hydrogen fuel cell stack, a lithium-ion battery, and two electric motors. The F015 has a driving range of 124 miles with a fully charged battery, and up to 684 miles with a full tank of hydrogen. Using Car-2-Car and Car-2-Ojbect communications the F015 is fully autonomous, and features a variable seat system with four lounge-style chairs inside. While not intended for production, Mercedes shows us that it has the technology today to produce a zero-emission vehicle that can drive itself. The future, is here.
cartechboy writes: Remember 18 months ago when Tesla promised it was going to launch battery-swap stations? Well, it's finally happening, sort of. It seems Tesla's about to announce a battery-swap pilot program that will launch next week. The swap site will be located across the street from a Tesla Supercharger site in Harris Ranch, California--184 miles south of San Francisco and about 200 miles north of Los Angeles. The pilot program will involve an unspecified number of Model S electric-car owners, who will be invited to take part in the test. For now, the battery-swap service will be offered by appointment only, at a cost of roughly a tank of gas in a premium sedan. Tesla's using words to describe this pilot program like "exploratory work" and "intended to test technology and assess demand" for a swapping service. While originally pitched that the battery swap would take less time than it would to take to refill the gas tank of a comparable luxury sedan, the company says now that "for this specific iteration" the swap process will take "approximately 3 minutes"--though it adds Tesla has "the ability to improve that time with future iterations." Is this test going to show that battery swapping is or isn't a realistic initiative?
cartechboy writes: The common assumption among Tesla fans seems to be that state auto-dealer lobbyists are working with Republican legislators to enact laws banning direct sales of Tesla's electric cars to retail buyers. Is it true? The New York Time s published an article with some data points that assesses the supposition. While the article mainly focuses on the conflict between Uber and the Republican party, some quotes could be easily applied to Tesla. For instance, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Preibus said, "It should be consumers, not government bureaucrats or legislators, that deicde what companies get our business." The author of the article Josh Barro wrote that 22 states permit direct sales of automobiles by Tesla to retail buyers, and of those the majority--14 of them-- voted for President Obama. He suggested that Democratic California, Illinois, and New York "have freer markets in auto retailing than Texas," which is presently Republican. When looking at a five-year-old article by Nate Silver that looked at political donations by car dealers, fully 88 percent of those donations went to Republican candidates, and just 12 percent to Democrats. That possibly suggests a propensity among Republican state legislators to support the interests for car dealers over those of electric-car buyers. Is the small bit of evidence enough to make a case?
cartechboy writes: We've all been there, driving down a city street and we miss that pedestrian or bicycle because they are in our blind spot. Not the blind spot behind us, but covered up by the A-pillar on your vehicle. This is a growing concern as pillars and cars in general bulk up to meet new, ever stricter safety standards. Now Jaguar and Land Rover might have come up with a solution that eliminates the risk: transparent pillars. Imagine having zero blinds spots as you pull up to that intersection. No concerns about not seeing something or someone that's hidden by that large A-pillar. The technology is called 360 Virtual Urban Windscreen and it provides a 360-degree view out of the vehicle. How does it work? Essentially, a screen embedded in the surface of each pillar inside the car relays a live video feed from cameras covering the angles outside the car. To avoid overloading the driver the screens are off in default mode, and are only activated automatically when the driver uses a turn signal or checks over their head to switch lanes. While there's zero mention of when this tech will go into production, it's clear, this is the future and it's crazy.
cartechboy writes: Sometimes you wonder, "Who's actually watching the police?" Well, now it appears someone is actually going to, as Ford has developed a way to track cops. The automaker has announced a new telematics system for police cars that will keep tabs on the cops while they are driving, tracking their behavior in real time. The system will be able to tell what speed the police offers are traveling at, whether they're wearing their seat belts, and where they're driving. The idea behind this system is to improve fleet management with a side benefit of creating a degree of transparency to improve public trust. Of course, this does put officers under constant scrutiny and whether police departments will make use of this technology.
cartechboy writes: It's a story we've come to see quite often: a state trying to ban Tesla's direct sales model. It seems something sneaky just happened in Michigan where Tesla sales are about to be banned. Bill HB 5606 originally intended to offer added protection to franchised dealers and consumers from price gouging by carmakers, and was passed by the Michigan House in September without any anti-Tesla language. However, once it hit the Senate wording was changed that might imply the legality of a manufacturer-owned dealership was removed. The modified bill was passed unanimously by the Senate on October 2, and then sent back to the House that day where it passed with only a single dissenting vote. The bill was modified without any opportunity for public comment. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has less than a week to sign the bill into law. Of course, Tesla's already fighting this legislation. It's already been said that in the end, Tesla will win all of these situations and that time is being wasted.
cartechboy writes: Name a luxury automaker that doesn't have a Certified Previously Owned (CPO) program. Go ahead, I'll wait. That's right, you can't really name one can you. Tesla isn't like a normal luxury automakers, in fact, it's not really like any automaker out there. It doesn't have franchises and it sells its own vehicles through its network of galleries. It seems the Silicon Valley start-up sees the light, or rather, the profit potential, as it plans to create its own CPO program. It seems there's a great deal of Model S sedans out there currently under lease contracts. When those cars are ready to come back, Tesla has guaranteed that it will purchase them for a figure that falls somewhere between 43 and 50 percent of the original purchase price. This is exactly how Tesla's going to create its CPO fleet. Tesla seems to do everything in an unconventional manner, so we'll have to see if its CPO program is like every other automakers, or if it blazes its own path in this area as well.
cartechboy writes: It's 2014. Where the heck are our flying cars? We were promised flying cars. We should be living like The Jetsons, right? Well, we aren't, but we are about to take one step closer: a production-ready flying car is debuting this month. Slovakia's Aeromobil has planning to unveil its "Flying Roadster" at the Pioneers Festival in Vianna, Austria on October 29. The latest iteration is called the Aeromobil 3.0, and work on it dates back to 1990. The Aeromobil 2.5 prototype made its first flight about a year ago. The Aeromobil transforms from plane to car by folding its wings behind the cockpit. Supposedly, the Aerobmoil will fit in a standard parking spot and run on pump gas. In less than a month, our dreams could become a reality.
cartechboy writes: Tesla CEO Elon Musk isn't a man to mince words. He speaks and the Internet, no, the world seems to listen. He captures attention in similar fashion as Steve Jobs. Last night he tweeted, "About time to unveil the D and something else". The image tweeted appeared to be the front end of a Model S and the letter D on garage door. So what is it? Probably an updated Model S. Those updates could range from available all-wheel drive and new active safety systems, to the rumored 110-kilowatt-hour pack. While all of these are logical predictions, no one truly knows what Tesla's planning to unveil on the 9th, yet. Anyone care to wager what Tesla has prepared?
cartechboy writes: For as long as you've probably been alive you started a car with a key. Whether that be a metal key or now a plastic transponder that allows you to push a button, you needed a device to start a vehicle. Now Ford's looking to revolutionize the way we start our vehicles. A new patent details how you would start a vehicle using only your fingerprint. It's not stopping with just your fingerprint and starting a car, no, it's looking to have a car measure your vitals such as heart rate, temperature, and other biometric data. Why? Aside from the security aspect of preventing people from stealing your car, there's a huge comfort and safety angle here. Sensors embedded in the steering wheel and seats could gauge body temperature and adjust interior temperatures accordingly to keep you comfortable. From the safety angle, sensors could determine whether drivers are sleepy or if there's a medical emergency. Imagine a vehicle that could stop itself if suddenly the driver experiences a medical emergency such as a heart attack or seizure. This all might sound scary to you, but it's definitely the future. The question now is how long before it's reality?
cartechboy writes: There's been plenty of skepticism when it comes to Tesla. The Silicon Valley startup unveiled an all-electric car that stunned the world and had many other automakers rolling their eyes. Fast forward to 2014 and Tesla's preparing to launch its second model, the Model S. Production of the Model S sedan is humming along, and this new automaker continues to make headlines multiple times a week. Industry veteran Bob Lutz was the champion behind the Chevrolet Volt, and has been quite vocal about Tesla from the beginning. So what's his views on the company now? He said Tesla will remain a "fringe brand" until it launches its next generation of vehicles and the smaller, less expensive Model 3. Speaking Wednesday on CNBC's "Squawk Alley" finance show he said that Tesla's stock price was "kinda high" at the moment. Is Lutz right, or is he just sour over Tesla's success?
cartechboy writes: Unless you've been in a coma for a while you're aware that many dealer associations have been causing headaches for Tesla in multiple states. The reason? They are scared. Tesla's new, different, and shaking up the ridiculously old way of doing things. But the thing is, Tesla keeps winning. Now Ward's commenter Jim Ziegler, president of Ziegler Supersystems in Atlanta, wrote an opinion piece that basically says Tesla's going to prevail in every state against dealer lawsuits. He says Tesla's basically busy defending what are nuisance suits. This leads to the question of whether there will be some sort of sweeping federal action in Tesla's favor.
cartechboy writes: How low can battery cost go, and how fast? That's the question automakers are dealing with when it comes to the future of electric cars. Tesla is betting big on electric and has already proven many skeptics wrong with its Model S sedan. The company is making even bolder claims with its upcoming Model 3 stating it'll have about 200 miles of range and a base price of $35,000. That's a nice goal, but is it possible. Battery skeptic Menahem Anderman wrote a new report suggesting that the pace of cost reduction for electric car batteries won't be as swift as Tesla's CEO Elon Musk suggests. This leads Anderman to predict the actual price of the upcoming Model 3 will be in the range of $50,000-$80,000. That's quite a jump from the goal of $35,000. Can Tesla actually pull off the Model 3 with the goal price of $35,000?