Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category
One of the many perks of this job is, not surprisingly, the cars. It’s relatively easy to snag the keys to a vehicle for a special occasion, whether that be for a road trip, tailgating or helping a friend move. And while sometimes the tailgating might happen with a Ford F-150 instead of a Range Rover and the road trip might be in a minivan rather than a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, occasionally the stars align and a special vehicle arrives for an equally special time.
That’s exactly how I found myself dressed to the nines and behind the wheel of the BMW M6 Gran Coupe, a $135,375 (as-tested) rocket ship, en route to a rare multi-wedding weekend to celebrate with two pairs of my closest friends on the biggest day of their lives (a very special congratulations to Kara and Zach, and Laura and Andrew). Continuing with our nuptial theme, the M mechanicals and the 6 Series Gran Coupe body are a match made in heaven.
The ultimate plush Porsche is about to to be unveiled.
Plush and Porsche aren’t terms that usually go together, given the brand’s reputation for fast sports cars, but in this case there is no other way to describe it.
It’s a souped-up version of the Panamera sedan called the Turbo S. With a 570-horsepower engine, the Porsche is capable of 192 miles per hour. That’s 50 more horsepower than the standard Panamera, and it happens due to twin turbos with larger compressors.
To take advantage of that famous Porsche engine sound, the car will have a button to funnel the exhaust notes — but not the exhaust itself — into the cabin. Drivers can listen to their engine instead of just the audio system.
Panamera Turbo S, which will be priced at $180,300 before delivery charges, will be shown at the Tokyo Motor Show next month.
If that’s not enough, Porsche is stretched it by almost six inches and is calling it the Turbo S Executive. Most of the extra room goes into the back seat, where executives are expected sit while being chauffered. It also has thermal and noise-insulated windows “which include privacy glazing” and fancy back seat lighting.
It will be priced at $200,500.
The manufacturer boldly proclaims that the new Qashqai will be “the most important car in modern history” and “a model that will redefine the crossover sector and set new standards across the board.”
Nissan is touting its entirely revamped new Qashqai as a highly innovative vehicle, from its aerodynamic design to its infotainment system. For the time being, the brand has not revealed specific details but is teasing the November 7 reveal with a mysterious new photo.
Over two million Nissan Qashqui crossovers have been sold since the vehicle’s launch in 2007.
Staying safe on the road can be fun. These space-conscious tools will give you peace of mind and save you time.
This small tool could save your life in the event of an accident. Made in the Netherlands, LifeHammer can help you escape from an overturned or damaged vehicle by cutting through jammed seatbelts and breaking car windows. LifeHammer mounts easily with double-sided tape or Velcro and has a luminescent pin to help you find it in dim light or darkness. Think of it as your own personal Jaws of Life.
One wrench to rule them all. This tool offers the capability to work with dozens of different sizes and styles of nuts and bolts in the convenience of a tool that’s just 10 inches long and weighs only a couple of pounds. Each end of the Kobalt Multi-Drive Wrench features a four-sided rotating spline with a fixed small socket spline on one end and a larger, interchangeable spline head on the other.
You never know when you’ll need a tow. At 30 feet long and three inches wide, with a 30,000-pound capacity and double-stitched webbing, the Smittybilt Recovery Strap can pull you out of a sticky situation. You can also use this strap for pulling fallen debris out of your way or moving heavy loads around your shop.
Schumacher SC-1200A SpeedCharge can boost your car’s battery in a hurry—up to two times faster than your average portable charger. Features include multiple charging modes, electronic push-button controls, microprocessor control, and fully automatic operation, which combine to make this a great tool for giving your car battery a boost when it’s running low.
It can strip and bend wires, cut through plastic, and even open beer bottles, this multi-tool is a great addition for your safety kit. Along with a name synonymous for quality, the Leatherman Wave includes two different kinds of pliers, wire cutters, knives, a saw, scissors, files and a multi-bit screwdriver.
After more than a decade as the world’s favorite car color, silver is falling in popularity to white. PPG Industries, the leading supplier of automotive paints, says 25 percent of the vehicles it supplied in the 2013 model year were white, up 3 percent from the prior year. Silver and black tied for second, with 18 percent each.
White dominates in Europe, North America and Asia. Only in South America is silver still king.
Apple Inc., with its all-white stores and gadgets, made white a high-tech color. The variety of whites — from flat shades to creamy pearls — is also contributing, says Jane Harrington, PPG’s manager of automotive color styling.
But if you don’t relish a whiteout on the freeway, never fear. Automakers are currently scouting colors for the 2016 and 2017 model years, and Harrington is showing them some eye-popping options, from a pink-tinged bright red developed in Asia to a rich dark gray with faint green highlights.
Eleven different browns — from light copper to dark chocolate — and an equal number of grays are part of PPG’s annual color show for automakers at its automotive center in the Detroit suburb of Troy. There are six yellows and seven greens, from seafoam to dark olive. One notable absence: Powder blue, which is increasingly confined to electric cars or hybrids.
Harrington and her international team determine color trends by watching fashion, architectural paint colors and other predictors. She thinks we’ll see more deep jewel tones like teal and more earthy metallics, like reddish orange, in the coming years. With the end of the recession, drivers don’t mind being showy again, she says
Car buyers could also see taxi-like yellows and other flat, bright colors, which are growing in popularity thanks to small, funky entries like the Kia Soul.
Pastel tones, like mint green and very light pink, are also in the mix.
PPG will take its color tour on the road to Los Angeles, Europe and Asia and will then start working with individual automakers on their choices. Companies typically choose eight to 10 colors for every model. PPG won’t say how many cars it supplies paint for each year, but it works with every major car company.
“They think about the vehicle and how that color will translate,” Harrington said. “That color, sparkle and finish helps define the car’s character.”
A rotund glasses-wearing man, proudly employed by the new i division of BMW, stood on a platform in front of a large photograph of some indeterminate European skyline. He looked quite self-satisfied, if a little nervous. For 15 minutes, he’d been moving around the room from one platform to another, like an actor in an awkward college staging of a Bertholdt Brecht play.
“BMW i,” the man said, “heralds the dawn of a new age of electromobility.”
If history has taught us anything, it’s to be wary of Germans proclaiming “the dawn of a new age.” That said, the BMW i3, which enjoyed its international cotillion last week in Amsterdam, represents a substantial reimagining of how a car should drive, how we interact with our vehicles, and what, in general, a car should be. It’s a significant development in automotive history, and a remarkably nimble one given the size and pedigree of the company.
BMW formed “Project i” in 2007 under the care of Ulrich Kranz, the executive who’d overseen the rebirth of Mini and the highly successful launches of the X3 and X5 SUVs. The goal was to position BMW for the future by thinking of “sustainable mobility concepts.” An initial team of seven people began debating what the car of the future would look like: It had to run on alternative energy, it had to have a trendy modern design, it had to incorporate technology in an intelligent way, and, most of all, it had to suit the lifestyle of the world’s megacities.
Kranz and his team traveled to 20 metropolises, including London, San Francisco, Shanghai, and Mexico City, looking for tech-savvy upper-middle class people who either claimed to, or strived for, “sustainable lifestyles.” In other words, they sought out the BMW customer of the future. The result? An electric car of great quality and efficiency, and — this may be the key genius of the whole concept — made entirely out of materials recycled using renewable energy. As one BMW executive told me, “the next phase in premium is sustainability.” They know what their customers want; the i3 stands for a totally different approach, and may very well end up being the most significant car of its age.
The i3 presents small, and on the outside, it doesn’t look like much, maybe a slightly more chic version of “The Howard,” the electric-car MacGuffin from Larry David’s hilarious HBO movie “Clear History.” There’s almost no hood, and the front grilled is framed, rather than with a showy roundel, by plastic slits that look suspiciously like a pair of Ray-Bans. It slopes up to a rear hatchback, and has four doors, though the rear coach doors, hidden almost like a Murphy bed, can only be opened if the front doors are open. At the moment, the i3 only comes in two colors, a fun-looking burnt orange, which will probably become its signature, and a less-fun-looking creamy silver.
Much of BMW’s efforts has gone inside. The i3’s designers intended, BMW told us, to create a feeling of a “loft on wheels” that offers an escape from the stresses of city living. It’s made of recycled carbon-fiber and faux-wood paneling, like a tech startup office with an electric motor; all that’s missing is a white board and a ping-pong table. Because the car, essentially, doesn’t have a hood, the dashboard seems to extend forever. The front seats are perfectly poised, and the rear is a little cramped, but basically functional. There’s enough storage in the hatch for a few grocery bags, but the rear seats come down, creating room for whatever errands need to be done.
At its core, the i3 is a city-dweller’s car. BMW rode 32 million miles with megacity drivers, and they determined that the ideal urban pod dweller drives an average of about 35 miles a day. The majority of the world’s drivers spend the majority of their time driving in cities. “It’s not an aggressive way of driving,” a BMW executive told me, “but cooler driving. Drivers can have a calmer, more relaxing driving style.”
They engineered it as such, and the buzzwords match the experience. Driving the i3 was the most relaxing city-driving experience of my life. They gave it to us in Amsterdam, which isn’t as stressful to drive in as, say, Los Angeles or Calcutta, but it’s still a big city full of trams and trucks and scooters and thousands upon thousands of happy, tall, beautiful coat-wearing people riding bicycles. There were many obstacles. The i3 helped me drive around them with incredible precision and nimbleness.
Traditional categories like horsepower (there’s 170 hp available from the i3′s electric motor) dissolve with this car. The major operations are comprised of three components: a “one-pedal drive,” turning radius, and balance. Because of the regeneration grip dialed in by BMW engineers to recharge the batteries from motion, the car stops almost immediately when you take your foot off the accelerator. I drove the i3 for more than four hours over the course of two days, and used the brakes roughly twice. The i3 turns almost in a circle, making it easy to maneuver into tight parking spots and narrow alley-like streets. It has excellent poise, necessary for the small, sudden turns that urban driving often requires. It’s car operation as parkour.
The machine isn’t without its flaws. On my second-day test drive, when I moved it over cobblestone streets, the automatic doors kept locking and unlocking, and I couldn’t stop them. For a second there, the i3 felt like HAL 9000, turning psychotic and hurtling me toward oblivion. But other than that modest annoyance, driving it felt relaxing, calm, and even friendly, almost meditative.
BMW’s conception of the i3 as the ultimate hipster lifestyle car goes far beyond an approximation of driving Zen; they’ve designed it to be an extension of a modern digital reality. The i3 comes equipped with a suite of apps that actually work. It has a center-console screen with a somewhat above-average GPS, but it’s not a crummy iPad knockoff like the ones seen in so many contemporary cars. The real magic comes in the smartphone connectability; in particular, there’s an app that directs you to the nearest parking station with an electric charger and gives you an alternate route involving public transportation or even walking. This wouldn’t work in a city like, say, Houston, at least not right now, but it’s perfect in Amsterdam, which has more than 700 public charging stations within the city limits alone, or in a San Francisco of the very near future.
The i3 gets more than 80 miles per charge, and can totally refresh in six hours. The charging cable cleverly hides under the front hood, and it locks in place when you lock the car. So if you want to drive it all day, you can; there’s also a version with a tiny motor borrowed from BMW’s motorcycle unit that acts as a mini-generator, but BMW provided none of those to us for testing, pushing only the electric version instead.
So let’s address the 800-pound carbon-fiber gorilla in the room: The i3 almost seems to mock the concept of BMW as “the ultimate driving machine.” That said, it goes fast. Very fast. We never took the i3 over, say, 85 mph on the motorway, but it got there with amazing quickness, as though I were calling down to Scotty in the engine room and saying “warp drive.” The car gave a little whirr, and then we launched, awesomely, into the Delta quadrant. It rocketed us forward into a beautiful, noiseless, solar-powered future.
The i division now has 400 employees, and with the launch of the i8 sports car next year, it’s just going to keep growing. The i3 goes on sale in Europe in November, and will sell in the U.S. for a little more than $41,000, which is just about the cost of a tricked-out Chevy Impala. In other words, it’s not an inexpensive car, but it’s hardly beyond the reach of BMW’s core customer. It’s going to be hugely successful, and we’re going to have to change our conception of what a BMW car looks like.
The key to evolution, Charles Darwin taught us, is that the most successful species aren’t necessarily the smartest, or the fastest, but the ones that are most able to adapt to change. While the rest of the dinosaurs wonder about that bright light in the sky, BMW has evolved.
Lamborghini’s new Veneno Roadster may be a beautiful car, but it will set you back a cool $4.5 million. The automaker unveiled its first version of the Veneno supercar at the Geneva Motor Show in March.
But it didn’t matter then if you wanted your own, as all three examples were bought and paid for. But for those who wanted to buy one, but couldn’t, Lamborghini can help you — maybe.
The automaker announced that nine Veneno roadsters will drive off the assembly line next year. Despite its initial appearance, the new Lamborghini isn’t a convertible.
Instead, the vehicle has no top at all, only a roll bar for crash safety, notes CNN Money. While the price may seem a little outrageous, the nine lucky buyers will get what they pay for.
The Lamborghini Veneno Roadster is a two-seater (no surprise there) and comes with a 740-horsepower, 6.5-liter V-12 engine that is also featured in the Aventador. The Daily News reports that the Veneno is all-wheel-drive and comes with the company’s seven-speed “ISR” transmission.
The ISR transmission allows the driver to shift gears almost as quickly as a Formula One driver. Slick, huh? Also, unlike its predecessor, the no-top Veneno will come in whatever colors the buyer wants. The body, and even the seats, are made from carbon fiber elements to make the vehicle as weightless as possible.
While some people criticized the Veneno as being over the top, even for a Lamborghini, others think its perfect for the luxury car maker. And who wouldn’t agree with the latter, considering the car can hit a top speed of 221 miles per hour and go zero to 62 in 2.9 seconds. Whew.
If you had $4.5 million, would you spend it on a Lamborghini Veneno Roadster, or is there another car that already caught your eye?
This “glow-in-the-dark” Lamborghini Aventador made it’s way around the inter-web earlier this year when its owner, Nasser Al-Thani, a 24-year old member of Qatar’s ruling family, drove around London without the proper insurance documents, causing local police to seize the vehicle and tow it. This photo of the Tron-like machine, taken by Reece Garside Photography, is parked next to something equally ostentatious: A black and gold Bugatti Veyron.
FORD’S FULLY ASSISTED PARKING AID DETECTS OPEN PARKING SPOTS, THEN AUTO-PARKS YOUR CAR.
Automakers are in the business of putting engines, gears, and sheet metal together–not buying software startups. This is why Ford raised some eyebrows last week with its acquisition of Livio, a Michigan-based company whose main product is an API for in-car smartphone apps and is best known for Bluetooth car kits. Although the purchase was small potatoes by the standard of automaker budgets (Livio was acquired for less than $10 million), it’s an indicator of something much more important: Automakers want apps in your cars.
The calculus for automakers is simple: Customers love apps, even if they’re driving. They’ll use Apple Maps or Google Maps for GPS. They’ll listen to Pandora in the car. When they’re looking for a restaurant on the road, they’ll use Yelp. Not to mention find cheap gas, SMS text message family or friends, even read Kindles in traffic (which is massively unsafe, but we’ve seen it). For automakers, creating APIs and OS ports that allow familiar smartphone apps or their clones to migrate to touchscreen auto dashboards or voice-operated commands creates an entire new revenue stream.
This is why Ford’s purchase of Livio matters–whether automakers reap profits by charging popular app makers for in-dashboard use or charge users to access these services (or both), it’s a whole new revenue stream and the biggest redefinition of how we use our cars since GPS and the first generation of electrical vehicles. Livio won’t be the last acquisition of a software firm by an automaker.
Supercars are very common on the wide, state-of-the-art highways of Dubai. But a new record-breaking Lamborghini, made out of gold and gems, is sure to turn heads.
Carved out of a 500-kilogram block of solid gold, the finished model contains 25 kilograms of the precious metal. Starting price for the eventual auction is set at $7.5 million, of which $650,000 will go to charity, according to the manufacturer’s website.
Precious metals and gemstones on the car are valued by the seller at $2.64 million. The custom model of the Lamborghini Aventador LP-700-4, crafted at a scale of 1:8 by RGE Robert Gulpen Engineering in Germany, is making its first appearance outside of Europe.
Labeled as the world’s most expensive model car in the world, it’s missing most of the motoring specifications car enthusiasts appreciate it for. The full-sized car is a beast under the hood, with a V12 engine producing 700 bhp that will take you from 0-100 km/h in 2.9 seconds. Automotive journalists have been especially intrigued by its fighter-jet resembling design contours, which has led to one-on-one showdown on various airfields.
Another caveat is that the model has not actually been made yet (to allow for individual customers preferences). The one on display, in line with the rather lax security around the Dubai showroom in a visit on Tuesday morning, is a prototype.
Although not made for the road, it does come with three entries in the Guinness Book of World Records, including the most expensive model car, the most secure showcase (featuring bulletproof glass) and the most luxurious logo.
The company says the model car “is indeed a very sound investment in precious metals and gemstones,” with “enormous potential for this value to increase significantly”.
Buying 25 kilograms of gold outright would come in at just under $1.2 million dollars at current prices.
A Lamborghini spokesperson in Dubai told CNBC that in the one week it’s been on display, there have yet to be any expressions of interest from potential buyers. Arguably, the real Aventador right beside the small gold-plated prototype model makes for a compelling distraction.