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Tag: automobile

Worst Car Ever

Posted by Andrew at 4:36 PM on August 1, 2012

Car hire is always a bit of a lottery. You never know exactly what make or model of vehicle awaits you, only that it will be “mid-size” or “economy”. Usually the car is from a major manufacturer but recently I had the dubious pleasure of renting a car that I had never seen before and frankly, never wish to see again.

Tata Indigo SW FrontThe car in question was a Tata Indigo. Tata is an Indian conglomerate and the Indigo seems to have been developed primarily for sale in India, but is also being sold in Europe. I’m sure it meets all the relevant legislation but it’s an awful car that pales in comparison to any other US, British, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese or Korean car I have ever driven.

How do I describe how bad it was? It was just everything….the interior trim was a sea of poorly finished grey plastic with matching grey cloth seats. The sunglasses holder didn’t stay closed. The driver’s electric window didn’t close properly. The central locking was unreliable.

The boot catch was so insubstantial that I feel it would have opened with a good pull. The boot lid itself was such thin steel that I could easily pull the corner of the lid away from the body of the car. To be fair, the boot was a good size, getting three 20 kg suitcases in there without too much trouble.

Tata Indigo SW RearThe engine was uninspiring, an underpowered 1.2 litre engine, and overtaking on anything other than half a mile of clear road would be a mistake. The tyres (on steel wheels) were narrow in comparison to most modern cars and I’m sure would have made road-holding on a wet and twisty road somewhat challenging. Fortunately, it never rained and the roads weren’t that twisty.

The steering was adequate: the car would go round corners as directed but the power steering didn’t give much feedback to the driver. On the plus side, the brakes seemed to work fine, though I never had to really stamp on them. I was always too scared about having an accident to go very fast.

Apparently a top of the range model costs around 600,000 Indian rupees, which converts to US $10,000. Still too expensive.

Overall, it was simply a terrible car and the luggage space was the only redeeming feature. Top tip to car rental companies – don’t expect your customers to be repeat customers if you have the Tata Indigo in your fleet.

Photos courtesy of Michge.

Steering Wheels that Tell You When to Turn

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 5:15 PM on March 22, 2012

Steering WheelToday while driving we are often distracted by many things including cell phones, audio systems and the GPS monitors. Unfortunately people will look down at their GPS monitor on the center console while driving especial if they don’t know where they are going. Distracted drivers are a major cause of accidents in the United States. Many people are looking for solutions to this problem including the AT&T Lab. For those of you who don’t know AT&T has one of the best and oldest technology labs in the world. They were key in the development of everything from cell phones to HDTV. They are currently working on a steering wheel that uses vibrations to tell you which way to turn. If you need to turn left the left side of the steering pad will vibrate and if you need to turn right the right side will vibrate. They hope to add other abilities including the ability to tell if there is someone in your blind spot in the future.

My first question was whether having the steering wheel buzz would in it self be distracting. However testing with both younger drivers, those 25 and younger and older drivers 65 and older show that with both groups they are distracted less often using this method. It also showed that driver follow direction better using this method then others. AT&T labs is still doing more testing on this and it will not be in consumer cars anytime in the near future Anything that will keep drivers eyes on the road is a good thing. Do you think this is a good or bad idea. You can find out more about this concept at Technology Review.

iOnRoad Warns Drivers of Danger

Posted by Andrew at 1:00 AM on February 6, 2012

As well as being a really bad pun, iOnRoad is an augmented reality app that helps car drivers become safer drivers. Courtney gets into the fast lane to find out more about this app which was awarded a CES Innovation Honoree prize.

Available for Android smartphones now and the iPhone soon, the app uses the smartphone’s camera, GPS and accelerometer to provide warnings and guidance to car drivers as they drive. By looking at the white lines, the car in front and correlating data from the GPS and accelerometer, the app can warn about lane departures, tailgating and speeding. The iOnRoad includes a couple of other features, including reading text messages and a car locator.

Obviously the phone has to be mounted on the dash with a view to the front of the car, but you can test the app using the video here. The app is currently free with a charge of $9.99 to be introduced in the future.

Interview by Courtney Wallin of SDR News.

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Ford Mustang, Boss 302 and Shelby GT500

Posted by Andrew at 6:19 AM on November 17, 2011

Ford logoIf you believe that there’s no substitute for horsepower, then you’ll be rejoicing in 2012 as Ford updates the iconic Mustang muscle car line-up. The new Mustang  will be ready to go in spring but the real power will be later in the year with the return of the Boss 302 and the Shelby GT500, expected to be the most powerful production V8 available.

The 2013 Ford Mustang has a new exterior design with a bigger front grille, re-styled hood and signature LED lighting to give the car a high-tech look. The automatic gearbox now has “SelectShift Automatic” transmission as standard, for drivers who want greater control over the growling 5 liter V6 engine.

2013 Ford Mustang GT

But it’s not just high-tech on the outside, as in an industry-first, the Mustang comes with a 4.2″ LCD car information system with TrackApps; a suite of apps that monitor the car’s performance, including acceleration, cornering-g and braking.

The LCD screen is navigated by a five-way control button to access information relating to fuel economy and vehicle performance. The TrackApps give performance metrics for g-forces, acceleration times for quarter mile and 0-60, and braking times. It also indicates automatic and countdown starts.

Ford TrackApps

“The new Mustang is the perfect example of continuing to build on excellence. It takes the greatness of the 5.0-liter and V6 and pushes the refinement to the next level,” said Dave Pericak, Mustang chief engineer. “The car has been spot-on functionally and now we’re adding more features and technology to further improve the driver’s experience.

The Boss is back, paying homage to a 70′s legend, the Ford Boss 302 Mustang and the car that won the 1970 Trans-Am Championship, driven by Parnelli Jones. Building on this heritage, the new Boss 302 and Boss Laguna Seca will be available in School Bus Yellow, the same colour as the championship-winning car.

2013 Mustang Boss 302

The 2013 Boss 302 comes with 444 HP delivered to the rear wheels via a carbon fiber limited-slip differential – there’s over 380 lb-ft torque available. The orginal Boss 302 had a little under 300 HP under the right foot and in its day, the 302 was the fastest car to lap Ford’s test track.

Compared with 1970 model, the new Boss is totally high-tech, with Ford SYNC as standard. SYNC is a voice-activated in-car connectivity system, with features including
- hands-free control of mobile phones and USB-connected digital music players.
- 911-Assist that automatically calls the emergency services in the event of an accident.
- Vehicle Health Report, an on-demand diagnostic and maintenance system.

The real petrolheads will have to wait until later in 2012 before they can get their hands on the new 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 Mustang, which will lay claim to be the most power production V8 in the world, pumping out 650 HP from the 5.8 liter supercharged V8 engine. 600 lb-ft of torque will be on-tap and a 4 second 0-60 time is expected. Whoa!

2013 Ford Shelby GT500

While there may be no substitute for horsepower, a great deal of technology has gone into making sure that the Shelby GT500 goes round the corners quickly as well. Ford’s Special Vehicle Team (SVT) has worked with world leaders in car design to ensure that the Shelby GT500 is fast. SVT-designed Bilstein electronic adjustable dampers can be adjusted from within the car. A Torsen limited-slip differential ensures that as much power as possible gets through the rubber to the road. Brembo braking system aggressively deccelerates the 3,850 lb car with six piston calipers and fade-resistance rotors.

SVT keeps the Shelby GT500 on the cutting edge of technology and takes muscle car performance to new heights,” said Jost Capito, director of Global Performance Vehicles and Motorsport Business Development. “We encapsulated every aspect of performance in this car – whether it’s 0-60, top speed, racetrack or quarter-mile times. Beyond that, the daily driver also will find this car perfectly fits his or her needs.

Nearly every part of the powertrain has been improved for producing the additional horsepower, including a new supercharger, new cross-drilled block and heads, updated camshaft profiles, a new carbon fiber driveshaft and upgraded clutch, transmission and axle. Putting down 650 HP isn’t easy – it’s not as easy as simply putting in a bigger engine.

The 200 mph top speed needed an enhanced aero-package to keep the wheels on the road at high speed and every aspect of the air flow over the vehicle was analysed and harnessed to improve cooling, maximise downforce and minimise drag. As a result, there’s over 33% more downforce at 160 mph compared with the previous model.

The Shelby GT500 is also equipped with an SVT-designed launch control system that allows the GT500′s pilot to adjust the start depending on tire temperature, street surface and other conditions. The launch system is smart enough to interface with both the engine managment system and traction contol to optimise the getaway.

2013 Ford Shelby GT500

For those drivers more confident of their skills or wanting to learn greater control, the electronic systems can be programmed for a range of situations. The Intermediate mode allows drivers to push the car without completely disabling the safety systems, allowing more aggressive driving before traction control and electronic stability control kick in. For real racing, both the systems can be completely disabled requiring maximum driver skill.

We took a completely different approach with this car so drivers can choose their settings instead of a computer making the selection,” said Jamal Hameedi, SVT chief engineer. “Nearly every system the driver interacts with can be tailored to his or her situation including the Bilstein electronic adjustable suspension, launch control, AdvanceTrac and steering assist levels.

Whether it’s the Mustang, the Boss 302 or the Shelby GT500, there is a ton of technology and gadgetry in all of these vehicles. Much of this technology would only have been available to race teams just a few years ago and here it is now in street-legal car. Visit your local Ford dealer for a test and once you’ve stopped fiddling with the gadgets, you can go out for a drive.

Ford Introduces The Ford Focus Electric

Posted by tomwiles at 9:17 AM on February 3, 2011

Sean from Ford introduces the all-electric version of the Ford Focus, which is set to be launched in 19 markets in late 2011. This is simply a remarkable vehicle. Esby takes you deep into the heart of the car to get a full rundown of all the features inside and out.  With the need in my family growing for an additional vehicle I could see the green Electric Ford Focus sitting in the driveway.

Interview by Esbjorn Larsen of MrNetCast.com.

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Mobeo iMovee Brings Mobile TV to Smart Phones & Tablets

Posted by tomwiles at 1:41 AM on January 28, 2011

iMovee Mobeo (www.i-movee.com/mobeo1.html) brings mobile TV to smart phones and tablets. iMovee Corporation launches the entire range of Mobile TV products including SKY TV (USB Dongle), Mobidik (WiFi Dongle for Iphone, Ipod, Blackberry, PC, MAC etc), Telly MOBO (7″/9″ Portable DVD & TV), Touch Telly Series (Media Player & Portable TV 4.3″ ,4.7″, 7″), Telly NAV (portable Navigation Device with ATSC MH) and CAR Telly (Automotive Set top box). iMovee is also launching various ATSC MH & T DMB modules for manufacturers to readily integrate to their consumer devices and thus reducing the time to market.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of Slash Dot Review News and RV News Network — RVNN.TV

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