Archive for September, 2010
Wednesday, September 29th, 2010
The Paris Auto Show starts this saturday. Of course as usual when there is a big auto show, there is lots and lots of talks and hype surrounding them. In the case of the Paris Auto Show, there are many automakers who have sent new models to this show. Organizers of the show are promising more than 100 world premieres when the doors open. If there is indeed more than 100 new models, this could exceed the new models at the Detroit, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York auto shows combined during the last year! Jery Garrett of the New York Times News Service has come up with a list of new models that he thinks will/are of particular interest.
Audi S7 - this is a powerful sedan with a sloping roof that makes it look alittle bit of a hatchback.
Bentley Continental GT - a slightly redesigned GT. It is lighter, sleeker, and more fuel efficient.
BMW 6 Series - this is a coupe with a ”cleaner, sleeker look.”
Chevrolet Cruze - this is a compact car that will be in direct competition with the Ford Focus.
Honda Jazz Hybrid - this is the Honda Fit. The Jazz Hybrid will be for Europe only at this time.
Mercedes-Benz CLS - this is a four-door coupe that has been redesigned to look more ”retro.”
Porsche 911 Speedster - there will only be 356 of these produced to honor the 1950s model. They will cost $226,000.
Renault DeZir - this is an electric concept car built by a French manufacturer. This will probably never be produced, but it is intended to wow the French crowd….and that it should!
Of course there will be lots of hybrids and electric vehicles at the Paris Auto Show. There will be more to follow the 2 day press previews that start tomorrow. I’m sure everyone’s opinions will be flying after that. I’ll keep you posted.
Monday, September 27th, 2010
The Paris Auto Show next week will have a lot of automakers with new concepts and technology to show off to the world. One new vehicle that is making a buzz before the auto show even starts is the electric scooters to replace the city car, the Fortwo. Smart and its parent company Mercedes-Benzare trying to figure out something to help the struggling Smart division. The electric scooter is called a escooter and will make its concept debut at the Paris Auto Show next week. The escooter is powered by a 4-kilowatt electric motor. There is a 48-volt lithium battery on the scooter, and it should get about 62 miles per charge.
Another electric scooter that will be at the Paris Auto Show will be the BMW’s Mini Scooter E concept. There is a lot of great technology on this concept scooter.
China has been using electric scooters for 10 years. We’ll see if the rest of the world gets interested in the scooters for daily commutes.
Sunday, September 26th, 2010
General Motors will be launching the Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle. GM has been saying for 3 years that it will get 40 miles per gallon on a single charge. Well now after heavily testing the Volt, it will get between 25-50 miles per gallon depending on the driving conditions and how the car is driven. If you are an aggressive driver, there is cold weather, you use the heating or air conditioning or you are driving steep hills, you will get less miles per gallon. That’s not a surprise. That’s the way miles per gallon works for all of us now. If you drive the Volt under normal driving conditions, you should get about 40 miles per gallon. The Volt also comes with a gasoline engine that will extend the car’s range about 300 miles after the battery is drained 70%.
Ultimately, the Environmental Protection Agency will determine the battery’s range of miles per gallon. They are currently still testing the Volt, but they will make their determination before the car is ready for sale. Hopefully the EPA will say that the range of miles per gallon is on average around 40 too. If not, who knows how many people will be interested in spending this kind of money. The Volt will be on sale in November with a base price of $41,000, but will be eligible for a $7500 tax credit.
Sunday, September 26th, 2010
OnStar by GM used to be the one and only in the 90’s. Then Ford has come along and introduced their Sync program which offers access to smart phones and music players by voice command. Everyone that has the Sync loves it. Now GM has introduced a service called MyLink which will have applications to Pandora online radio, Stitcher podcasts, and Wi-Fi. Soon enough, MyLink may offer voice-activated controls of Facebook, text, emails, and Web searchers. Crazy, right? MyLink will be available on 2011 models.
Right now, only OnStar subscribers will have MyLink available to them. It costs $199 yearly for the safety features or $299 for extra services such as navigation. According to GM, MyLink will likely have a lower price or even a subscription that does not include the OnStar package. Ford’s Sync costs $395 and then some features cost $60 yearly.
OnStar will not be taken over by the Ford Sync. They promise to continue to offer more and more technological advances like voice commands for MP3 players and navigation systems. GM also says that hopefully down the road, they will be able to send text messages if you have a flat tire and are not in your vehicle.
Technology is just getting crazier and crazier. Supposedly neither MyLink or the Sync will be distracting, though I can’t see how this could be the case. Hopefully the accident rate drops and doesn’t increase instead.
Saturday, September 25th, 2010
Ford just released data that they have collected on buyer’s preferences depending on their location (msnbc.com.) This is interesting information to us, but extremely important information for Ford. This is the way that Ford tries to ensure that they will have the options and models available to their customers at the dealerships in each region of the country. Some interesting and bizarre data was found for some of the owners of Ford vehicles.
For instance even with the rain and cool weather in Seattle, this is where the most moon roofs and air-conditioned seats are purchased for their vehicles. Seattle also has the highest percentage of customers who want rearview cameras and blind-spot warning systems. They also love navigation systems in Seattle.
In San Francisco, Atlanta, and Charlotte, drivers are known to buy heated seats. It’s not cold in these cities, surely not more than Syracuse, NY or Fargo, ND! There are lots of cities colder that aren’t getting the heated seats. They must be tougher with the weather!
Drivers in LA, NYC, and Dallas are the most likely to get rear-seat DVD players. I guess this means that they are more likely to travel farther distances where the DVD players are needed.
Colors……people living in Washington, DC like blue cars. People in Miami want gold. Green cars are only popular on the East Coast. Bizarre. Boston is the top market for green, because of the Boston Celtics. In Cincinnati, the color of choice is red for the Cincinnati Reds. In Phoenix and the sunshine, people like to buy orange cars.
Crazy, right? I think it’s very funny and interesting to see this data from Ford. I cannot ever imagine getting a certain color car to represent a sports team in my town, but obviously many people do. It still baffles me why these warm cities want heated seats for like 10 days of cold weather! I thought this would interest some others as well. Hope you enjoyed.
Thursday, September 23rd, 2010
Two automotive industry research firms, IntelliChoice and AutoPacific, have just announced the 2010 Motorist Choice Awards with various categories. The two firms combined research to come up with the list. The big winner is Toyota, not that you are very surprised. They are top picks in everything! I picked a few categories of interest to me to reveal the winners. You can go to the website to see all the winners if you want.
Popular City Car - Toyota Yaris Premium City Car - Lexus LS 460 AWD
Popular Cute - Volkswagen Beetle Premium City Car - Volvo C30
Popular Fun to Drive- Chevrolet Corvette Premium Fun to Drive - BMW 528i
Popular High Tech - Ford Taurus Limited Premium High Tech - Lexus RX 450h
Popular Kid Friendly - Toyota Sequoia Limited 5.7L 2WD
Premium Kid Friendly - Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC (this car won the Premium People Mover Award as well)
Popular Value Car - Honda Fit Premium Kid Friendly - Lexus RX 450h
As you can see, Toyotas and Lexus’ are all over these awards. As I said earlier, check out the website if you want to see all the awards and Toyota win some more.
Monday, September 20th, 2010
BMW is coming out big with some serious technology for their new vehicles. BMW is introducing the BMW ConnectedDrive at the Paris Auto Show early nextmonth. This program will allow drivers to access text messages, memos, emails, and such from their Blackberry. They will be able to use the text to speech function. Also, the BMW ConnectedDrive will work with the Apple iOS4, which means it will connect with the latest iPhone. BMW is also in the process of introducing the iPod Out to help make the most out of Apple music players in your vehicle. There will be a docking station for an iPad in the backseat. BMW will also offer a mobile hotspot system with the ConnectedDrive so passengers in the vehicle can surf the net without using minutes on data plans.
This is great for all those technies looking for more for their vehicles. Of course there is no price tag attached to this system yet. I’m sure it isn’t going to be cheap, especially after you spend a fortune on your BMW. Though maybe those that buy a BMW won’t care to pay extra for this system. My second thought. It all sounds well and good, but you cannot tell me that even though you shouldn’t have to use your hands to use this system that it won’t be somewhat distracting to the drivers. I don’t buy it if you tell me no. I love the idea, the latest technology, I really do, but we already don’t pay attention while we are driving. Do we need more technology to distract us???
Sunday, September 19th, 2010
When the time comes soon to embrace a start/stop button to operate your vehicle, will you be ready? The concept seems perfect. When you are at a stop light, stop sign, or anytime when you foot is on the brake, the button will turn off your engine. As soon as you start to decelerate, the engine will cut off. Then when you lift your foot off the pedal, the engine will start back up again. Supposedly there could be a 15% savings in fuel economy.
Vehicles in Europe have been using the start/stop button for awhile now. There are a few reasons why the vehicles in the U.S. haven’t adopted these buttons yet. The Environmental Protection Agency says that the tests to determine the fuel economy savings haven’t taken into account stops, so the savings might not be as much as we think. If there aren’t great fuel economy savings, people might not be interested in paying an additional $500 in order to pay for the start/stop button. Another reason is that it’s a known fact that Americans do not embrace change, and of course this is a major change in our vehicles, so not good for us, Americans.
We will need to just accept the change and embrace it because Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler plan to use this technology by or before 2014. I’m sure other automakers will follow suit. I’m ready for the start/stop button. Get on board.
Sunday, September 19th, 2010
The myth of having to change your oil every 3000 miles is over. For years, all we ever heard was that you needed to change your oil every 3 months or 3000 miles, whichever came first. Now Edmunds.com says that this myth is no longer true for any car bought in the last years. Many new vehicles have a maintenance minder on their vehicles which will tell you the engine oil life and how much you have left as well as other maintenance items as well.
Did you ever wonder what happens if you don’t change your oil? Well, here’s the answer you’ve been waiting for. Nothing….really. Someone made an analogy that what happens is that the oil just gets dirtier and dirtier. It’s like when you mop your floors with a bucket of water. Eventually you need to change the water or the floor will become dirtier from the dirty water. Same thing with oil changes. Makes sense, right?
You should check your owner’s manual to see what the automaker recommends for oil changes, as well as pay attention to your driving. If you are constantly in stop go driving, then you need to probably change your oil every 5000 miles or so, but if you drive mostly on highways, you can probably change your oil every 7500 miles or so. So, even though you will go to your dealer or a quick oil change place and they will tell you every 3000 miles or 3 months, don’t do it.
Friday, September 17th, 2010
Ford continues to shine with their new models. The reviews are great, and their sales are increasing. Things are looking good for Ford. Another rising star with Ford is the 2011 Ford Edge. Scott Burgess from detnews.com test drove a 2011 Ford Edge Limited model and really had nothing but great things to say about it. He felt as though the Edge was finally complete and able to offer all that anyone would need. I got pretty excited reading his review, so I thought I would sum it up for you highlighting the important parts.
Let’s start with gas mileage. A fully loaded limited version of the Edge got an average of 24 mpg. Supposedly, the front-wheel drive Edge gets 19 mpg in the city and 27 on the highway and the all-wheel drive model gets 18 mpg in the city and 25 on the highway. That’s not bad for a crossover. It has a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 285 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque. The interior offers lots of room in the second row and a 60/40 split if you need more room.
The real impressive features were the technology. I want to go and buy this car just for the technology if nothing else. First of all there is an adaptive cruise control, which means that it is a radar-based cruise control that monitors traffic and automatically adjusts your speed based on the vehicle in front of you. Cool, right? Supposedly according to Burgess, the system is so smooth that you don’t even feel the car slowing down until you look at the speedometer and realize that you have. Another feature is the collision warning with brake support. If for some reason you aren’t paying attention while you drive (wouldn’t happen to any of us!) and there is a car stopped in front of you that you have potential to hit, the car will turn off the stereo, sound an alarm, and a red bar will flash across the bottom of the windshield. These signals will make you instantly slam on your brakes and hopefully avoid crashing. There is blind detection and cross traffic alert for when you are parallel parking.
The biggest technological improvement, according to Burgess, is the MyFord Touch. This system is a ”must have” according to Burgess. It is a voice-activated system that allows you to turn radio stations, navigate turns, adjust the heat, and call people. It is a large touch screen that very easy to use.
There were 2 minor complaints. One is that at the bottom of the touch screen is the hazard button which is easy to accidentally activate but difficult to turn off. He recommended the button be in a different spot, and the other complaint is that with all these features the price could get quite high. Of course that is the way it works. Nothing if for free, right? As I said earlier, I want the 2011 Ford Edge, but not unless it’s fully loaded with all these great features. I’ll take one if anyone wants to buy me one!