Archives for the Category: Fun and Humor

What’s New In The BMW 7 Series, To Make Driving Easier For Drivers

BMW is a standout among other luxury car companies, and this time the new 7 series vehicle is no different,  however why is this car so magnificent. Check out the following features BMW has added to their car.

With the proliferation of technology across all vehicle segments, luxury automakers have to work harder to differentiate their cars. After all, when Buick and BMW both have Apple CarPlay, there isn’t much brand discrepancy via the dashboard display.

The 7 Series is BMW’s flagship and therefore the German luxury car company’s technology standard-bearer. Previous generations debuted the first in-dash navigation system, active safety features and center-console infotainment controller, iDrive, which other automakers later adopted.

BMW boasts that the all-new 2016 7 Series features 24 new innovations, and that half of those are segment exclusives. I got a chance to test drive the new 7 Series at a press event earlier this week and came away impressed with these six new tech features.

Gesture Control

Not only is the new 7 Series the first BMW with a touchscreen, but to activate certain features it doesn’t even need to be touched. The 7 Series has gesture control thanks to an infrared camera positioned in the headliner that detects the position of a hand in a small sweet spot above the shifter. Twirling a finger clockwise increases the volume of the stereo and twirling it counter-clockwise decreases it. Simply pointing at the screen can perform answering a call on a connected Bluetooth phone or swiping a finger can ignore the call. Two gestures can also be programmed to control a pair of favorite features.

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Which Car Is Popular In Your State?

What car do you see the most driving to work each morning? Is it the state’s most popular car or not?

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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6 Issues With Autonomous Driving

With a car driving for you will it be safer than driving for yourself? Or are you opening yourself to different, dangerous possibilities.

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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Create a Model of Your Dream Truck With Ford’s New 3D Printer

Car enthusiasts now have a chance to have their very own model car created by Ford amongst their collection. Tweak and change features through various designs and years from Ford until they are finished. 3D digital printing shops by Ford have begun to open, changing the car model industry.

Ford announced that it is the first automaker to open a one-stop 3D digital shop – the Ford 3D Store. With the help of Turbosquid, Ford fans can use 3D printing technology to make their own models of Ford vehicles or opt to purchase a 3D digital file from a growing library of more than 1,000 Ford vehicle images.

Available 3D-printed Ford models are 1/32nd (one thirty second) scale in plastic and models included in the launch: the new Ford GT, F-150 Raptor, Shelby GT350R, Focus ST and Fiesta ST. Printed models and digital files for additional Ford vehicles will be available at a later date. The Ford 3D Store is powered by TurboSquid.com, which provides automotive digital imaging and 3D-printable files. I have to say that the F-150 Raptor pickup truck looks pretty tough as a plastic model. When you click on the model within the Ford site, you are immediately taken to the Turbosquid site which offers more views of the model and pricing. The F-150 Raptor 2017 model starts at $149.

According to a news release the company sent me: “3D printing at home is a growing trend, and it makes sense for us to offer our customers a chance to make their own 3D Ford models,” said Mark Bentley, licensing manager, Ford Global Brand Licensing. “At Ford, we’re using 3D printing every day to rapidly prototype parts, and now we want to share that fun with our fans.” Since I visited the Ford 3D printing lab, in person, last year while on the 3DRV roadtrip, I can attest to the many ways that the company is using 3D printing and 3D materials science to advance car making. I wrote about their unique metal bending machine and some of their virtual reality work to help engineers move rapidly through product changes. You can read those posts here and here.

According to Juniper research, sales of desktop 3D printers will exceed 1 million units by 2018, from an estimated 44,000 sold annually in 2014. That’s a pretty big increase in new 3D printers soon to be on consumer desks, but one that pales in comparison to the number of people who might try out 3D printing via a service bureau, particularly if you make it easy to customize and click-to-print a model.

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When Does It No Longer Make Sense To Keep Your Ride

13Many things happen to our cars day to day, most are repairable so that your car can see another day. However, some things occur whether that is an accident or just time, where it no longer makes sense to keep it.

Of all the things we buy, maintain, use, and eventually scrap at the end of its lifecycle, nothing involves emotion like our relationship with our vehicles.

 

Perhaps it’s because of the cost and the sacrifices we make to own and operate them, or because they represent independence and mobility. But regardless, all this emotion can cloud our decision-making process when it comes to parting with our beloved daily driver. Many automakers invest as much time and energy in creating and developing an emotional bond between their products and their customers as they do in designing and building the vehicles themselves. If you doubt this, consider the amount carmakers spend on advertising each year compared to what they spend on R&D. While every auto manufacturer will supply an endless list of reasons why you should buy their particular product, few will help you decide when, and if, it’s time to leave your wheels by the curb and buy or lease something new. Here, then, is some advice to help make that decision easier.

 

Time and distance

Of all the auto executives I’ve met over almost four decades, only one ever admitted to the lifespan for which they design and build their vehicles to survive. While no auto company will admit it, the useful life for the majority of mainstream, non-luxury vehicles is about 10 years and/or 250,000 kilometers. While many cars, light trucks and SUVs may exceed that mark without exceptional repair or maintenance, a good percentage are relegated to the boneyard much sooner. A vehicle’s reliability takes a decidedly marked downturn once these milestones are passed. Does this mean we need to rush to the nearest dealership when the odometer clicks past that fateful mark? No, but it means it’s time create a succession plan. No matter the many variables when it comes to our relationships with cars, there’s one constant you can rely on: when you are forced to make a rushed decision on purchasing or leasing a vehicle (because your present chariot is dead in the driveway) it will cost you more than if you planned ahead.

Major repair estimate

Everyone dreads this call. They’ve had the family car towed into their repair provider because it failed to start/move/stop, and they get the estimate to overhaul/repair/replace something big. A good rule of thumb in these circumstances is to review your options of repairing or replacing your vehicle if a single-repair estimate approaches or exceeds its wholesale value. A quick internet tour of just about any used vehicle sales website can pinpoint this value. Just take the average asking price for the same vehicle in your area (with identical equipment and mileage) and subtract around $1,500 from a retailer’s asking price to come up with a wholesale value. Vehicles, unless it’s a collector classic, are a depreciating asset. Spending its entire value in one repair won’t double its worth.

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Can Technology Really Correct Bad Driving in Teenagers

It’s easy to become distracted while driving due to loud music, phones and other passengers. While distracted, it is easy to forget to wear a seatbelt and watch speed, especially when safety features are deactivated. It has come to a point where teenage driving habits need to be documented or restricted.

Chevrolet has announced that it will offer parents a creepy level of oversight when it comes to letting the kids borrow the family ride, and the NSA-style spying begins with the 2016 Malibu. A system dubbed Teen Driver will debut on the bow-tie brand’s newest mid-size sedan (which itself bows at the 2015 New York auto show). It allows parents to set speed alerts, limit audio volume, and even receive vehicle reports “so parents could use it as a teaching tool with their kids—they can discuss and reinforce safe driving habits.” Um, who’s ever heard of a productive, teachable conversation with a teenager?

Anyway, like Ford’s MyKey system (both current and future), Teen Driver lets parents with a Jason Bourne complex program speed warnings that flash when their child exceeds a preset velocity (from 40 to 75 mph) and set sound-system volume limits. Parents can also pull customizable reports full of juicy stuff, such as distance driven, top speed achieved, preset-speed warnings exceeded, stability-control events, anti-lock brake events, and forward-collision alerts and auto-braking events—on vehicles equipped with those systems.

Wily teens might just shut off stability control, traction control, and the like, but a PIN-protected menu enables parents to dictate just what features can or cannot be deactivated. In that way, control over the activation status of stability control, parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, forward-collision warning, automatic braking, daytime running lights, and traction control can all be wrested from your little speed junkie.

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Millennials like cars after all

Who would have thought it, kids like cars. MTV recently did a study which findings conclude that three in four youngsters would rather give up their social media, and instagrams than their car. 72 percent would much rather give up TEXTING for a week than their car. Who would have thought that the death of the automobile wasn’t actually going to happen.

MTV found 8 in 10 Millennials use cars as their most frequent form of transportation.”They are driving and they prefer driving as their No. 1 method of transportation,” said Berj Kazanjian, MTV’s senior vice president of research.

The study created a stir last weekend after it was released at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in San Francisco. But after the dust settled, Kazanjian  explained several reasons Millennials didn’t appear to embrace driving as readily as previous generations

To read more about this study, click here.

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Cool Muscle Car Stamps to be Released

It’s been 15 years, and I still won’t forgive the U.S. Postal Service for destroying my 50th anniversary issue of Road & Track magazine. That thick, limited-edition copy arrived torn, taped and battered with a little yellow note on the cover stamped “Damaged in handling in the Postal Service.”

If I had been dead, I might not have noticed.Adrenaline Rush Extreme

But the Postal Service does like cars, and for that, I can at least give my mailman a nod. Starting Friday, the latest stamps from the series “America on the Move” feature five muscle cars from the late ’60s and early ’70s, each illustrated in rich color doing smoky burnouts.

Read the full article here.

Cars of the Future from the 1960’s

They got some of them right!

Rare Shelby Prototype Found in Junkyard

Carroll Shelby is worshiped for building the fastest Fords on the planet and admired for creating a handful of fascinating Mopar products, the greatest of which may well be a one-off Shelby-ized truck prototype known as the Street Fighter Rampage.

Collectors thought the car squirreled away in some designer’s garage, but the reality is it’s been in a California junkyard.

Even worse than seeing it baking out there in the California sun is knowing that it can’t even be sold whole, due to it not having any legal papers. Oh, it hurts.

Read the full article here.