Archive for the ‘Auto’ Category

Gemeral Motors Is set to release their first fully autonomous vehicle with the aid of the Lyft platform. The time table wholetmesfgfor this arrival may actually be a lot sooner than we think, in fact it could be under 2 years which is leaps and bounds ahead of the completion but that remains to be seen if that is a real estimate or just the braggadocio ravings of an overly proud company. The company is planing on bringing its self driving car to the masses by launching its first driver less car soon, and thus they are going to beat out Uber and Ford for their similar partnership. This could be a huge time table and could shape the American car industry forever. The reason being is that no matter what they are going to be the face of autonomous cars in the eyes of the American public and it can only go one of two ways. The first is that everything goes smoothly and people just make it one and one that autonomous driving and Lyft go hand in hand and everyone gets off of Uber. Because lets face it, if we could avoid those awkward conversations with the Uber drivers about their lives and how they are going to be inevitably replaced by a driver-less fleet in a matter of months is kind of worth its weight in gold to not have to go through that ordeal. The other way and worse way is that it is down right bad. Whether its that the car is dangerous or its just glitch which is bound to happen with any new tech people will associate poor performance and the shortcomings of autonomous driving with Lyft. Thus when Uber and Ford make their play and clean up a lot of those glitches we can assume that they will be seen as a breath of fresh air and will take control of the market. Either way the American road cape and the way we get around is going to change forever, and soon. Pam Fletcher an executive chief engineer of autonomous tech at GM told us that, “we have not made that announcement yet, but what I would say is this, is all coming much faster than people anticipate so I’ll say that much. We have been transparent about that; we are working on an on remain ride sharing network with Lyft it’s not something we are thinking about it’s something we are very much readying for consumer use.” 

In regards to electric vehicles and how they will transition into this platform she said that, ” They (EVs) operate very smoothly, they operate very quietly, seamlessly, and so you can create this very positive experience consider the car, People they want that, they want to get in the car and for it to feel like a cocoon, so they can take a nap or have a conference.” Imagine that sleeping while in a car, that is going to be a reality sooner than we think, but what about all the other cars on the road that are subject to human error?

As a result of a faulty data broadcast, Lexus car owners in the US are suffering from crashing in-car maps and radio systems. The buggy update was delivered via a wireless transmission and is shorting out affected vehicles’ infotainment systems. As a result, drivers’ navigation directions, climate controls and digital radio have been rendered inaccessible. 

lexThe Toyota division quickly acknowledged the problem with the update and stated that owners will have to bring their cars in to repair the problem:

“Errant data broadcast by our traffic and weather data service provider was not handled as expected by the microcomputer in the vehicle navigation head unit (centre display) of 2014-2016 Model Year Lexus vehicles and 2016 Model Year Toyota Land Cruiser,” explained a Toyota spokeswoman. 

“In some situations, this issue can cause the head unit to restart repeatedly, affecting operation of the navigation system (if equipped), audio and climate control features. The data suspected to be the source of the error was corrected last night.”

According to the Toyota division, “many” vehicles have been affected. That said, the problem has only reached US-based drivers with Enform subscriptions. The data-transmitting service is not available in Europe, sparing European drivers the inconvenience. 

lex bigSince the issue initiated, drivers have been posting videos demonstrating the cars’ screens booting up, flashing purple and then crashing immediately. The fault repeats whether the vehicles are parked or driving. Multiple drivers believed that their cars has been “hacked,” perhaps spooked by the prevalent rumors that connected cars are becoming increasingly hackable. 

While the suspicion that internet-connected cars may be able to be hacked and controlled remotely has arguably been over stated and covered by the media, there have been instances in which paid research teams have managed to figure out how to hack particular cars in initiatives with which car companies have cooperated. A famous article published by Wired covered one such case, during which a reporter drove a car that had been hacked and was forced to play victim to a variety of pranks conducted by the hackers, including cutting the car’s brakes on the highway. 

lex2That said, that degree of hacking has only ever been possible when companies and researchers cooperated during experiments that were both intensive and well-funded. Hackers working on their own have yet to master the trade of hacking cars. 

Lexus owners have reported that disconnecting their car battery resets the infotainment unit and can offer drivers a few hours of functionality before the crashing inevitably occurs again.

“The correction is a forced reset and clearing of the errant data from the system,” explained Lexus. “Toyota and Lexus owners experiencing issues should visit their dealer for a complimentary system reset and a confirmation of the system. We regret any inconvenience.”

The issue certainly does create an inconvenience for drivers, threatening to tarnish Lexus’s reputation as the Consumer Reports’ “most reliable” car brand. That said, the upset hasn’t been nearly as brand-damaging as the currently unfolding Mitsubishi scandal.

“Lexus has an excellent reputation for reliability, but these days that’s not just about having trustworthy mechanical parts but its also electronics and software,” explained Professor David Bailey of Aston Business School. “There are typically more lines of code in a car than an aircraft, and you only have to get one part wrong for it to cause these types of problems.”

lithium prices upBattery prices have become one of the major obstacles for EVs in terms of competing in an auto market saturated with lower-cost cars running on internal combustion engines. Electric vehicles are already too expensive for most prospective car buyers to even consider, and bringing that price down is crucial for the movement of eco-friendly vehicles to take flight.

Whether automakers can decrease the production prices of their EVs and make them stay down is largely determined by how the battery is constructed. Most EVs run off of lithium batteries, so how does the volatile price of lithium factor into the potential success of electric vehicles as a whole?

This is a more relevant question than ever, as global lithium prices have more than doubled over the past six months, causing automakers to scramble for new ways to fill their necessary supply of the rare metal. However, according to a study conducted by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and published in the Journal of Power Sources, these soaring lithium prices likely won’t actually impact electric-car battery costs.

Researchers Rebecca Ciez and Jay Whitacre analyzed many lithium-ion cell chemistries and found that large increases in the global price of lithium won’t actually translate into large lith2increases in the price of battery cells. They explained this in the context of two chosen prismatic cell designs along with two lithium-ion cell chemistries. The researchers then constructed a bill of materials and broke down the costs of the cells, ultimately finding the potential impact of large fluctuations in the price of lithium on the over all cost of producing the batteries.

Ciez and Whitacre found that even a 300 percent increase in the cost of lithium would not lead to an increase in battery cost of the same magnitude. In fact, the maximum increase in cost per kilowatt-hour for the four batteries studied would actually be less than 10 percent, according to the researchers. For the cost of creating the batteries to increase by 15 percent, the cost of lithium would have to increase by 500 percent.

lith3According to the researchers, the cost of lithium could never stay at 500 percent of what it is now, as those kinds of prices would attract other lithium producers, who would ultimately increase supply and lower prices.

As for the lithium supply running out all-together, it’s unlikely that it will run out any time soon. The researchers have stated that lithium is plentiful on our planet, and that the current sources supplying lithium to battery companies aren’t the only sources, simply the cheapest sources.

The researchers said lithium could also be extracted from seawater, for example.

At the end of the day, the researchers found that battery suppliers would need to achieve lower costs for lithium ion cells through other means, as lithium supply is simply not enough of a factor to affect price predictions or lower prices substantially. A sophisticated and elegant system must be found that will allow for the batteries to function better and be produced more easily; there’s simply no other way around it.

If you have followed the auto industry at any rate for the past 10 years it probably does not come as much of a surprise the state of affairs that Mitsubishi motors finds themselves in today. We may have not know what would be their undoing, but we did all assume that it wouldn’t really be a matter of “if” but more so a matter of “when.” Mitsubishi is trying to atone among the public, there is not a degree low enough they would bow to atone for a breach of faith this sever. This is not to say that it is as bad as Volkswagen. But that being the case what Mitsubishi doesn’t have is a track record of a superior product, and they also do not have the financial resources to bail them out that Volkswagen has. This is bad considering the trend of most automakers. 

On Wednesday the president Aikawa made the announcement that he would be resigning immediately that will go into effect June 24. this is to take responsibility for the automaker overstating the fuel economy of its minicars and not correctly testing other models reaching as far back as 25 years. This is systemic and if it is 25 years in the making you can’t say that he is the sole reason, however, someone has to go, and the shareholders need to feel reassured that steps are being taken to rectify this blight on the reputation of their investment. This is going to cost the company a pretty penny, some experts believe something to the tune of $2.8 billion of its market value. This would be a big deal for a company like General Motors or Toyota, but for Mitsubishi it may be the final nail in the coffin for a long struggling car company.

mitsu“we thought we had sufficient investigations after previous cheating cases in 2003, but it was not enough, problem has deep roots,” the CEO announced.

Mitsubishi Motors has put forth efforts to reach ambitiously for fuel efficiency targets were also undercut by the fall out of its last major crisis. An employee said that “the key issue is that life’time employees live in a small society that has all the same types of people, they car more about what is happening within a five meter radius than common sense outside of it.” and it is that insulated mentality that may be damming the company and its future prosperity. 

What makes Mitsubishi Motors unique among auto makers is that they are part of the Mitsubishi corporation and are a not the flagship company within that more than 10 company system. However, they all adhere to the name Mitsubishi. Therefore, bad press for one is bad press for all and what may happen is that they simply dissolve the entire branch entirely. This could be seen as a kind of trimming the fat among investors and save the whole while still maintaining consumer trust. At any rate, no matter what they do they are going to be feeling the ill effects for some time to come and on the whole it does not look like there is an end in sight.

 

lemon lawsLuckily for consumers, there are laws in place that protect car buyers from the risk of purchasing a car that is absurdly unreliable when they’re guaranteed a typical vehicle that should operate fine given basic maintenance. Even if a car’s issues are covered by a warranty, vehicle owners would still be vulnerable to dealerships’ refusing to honor that warranty or from the possibility that the car must keep being taken back for the same repairs against and again. Both federal and local laws cover these potential issues, and it’s likely that they can offer you a remedy to your situation. Read on to figure out what lemon laws are and how they work.

The most fundamental lemon law in the United States of America is called the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which was passed by Congress in 1975. The act covers warranties in general, including the warranties commonly placed on new cars. This act isn’t your only protection against faulty new cars, however.

In addition, every single state has its own lemon laws, which generally extend your protection even further, though the extent of that protection depends on which state you’re living in.

lemon2First, more on the Magnuson-Moss Act. At the time of the law’s passing, there was widespread abuse throughout the states of the warranty system and warranty provisions. Companies were as likely to attempt to wriggle out of supposed warranties with misleading jargon and blatant disregard as they were to honor whatever warranty they promised. Products were also commonly sold without warranties, while the warranties that were sold in addition often weren’t clear about the actual extent of the coverage. Then getting a warranty enforced was generally made exceedingly difficult as a way of discouraging a customer from pursuing it.

What Magnuson-Moss required was that the fine print of all warranties be immediately available to consumers before the selling of the product. It told manufacturers what needed to be included in the warranty as well. That said, Magnuson-Moss didn’t give consumers complete protection, and it only applied to consumer products that cost more than $5. It doesn’t require that a product come with a warranty either, which means if you buy one without a warranty you’re basically on your own. Still, it required that the following aspects be present in all warranties:

lemon4The warranty has to be designated as either “full” or “limited,” it has to be spelled out clearly and in a way that is reasonably readable, and it has to be available where the consumer can read it before buying. A full warranty implies that a customer can get any parts repaired provided that they didn’t work as advertised (and weren’t broken by the consumer), while a “limited” warratny implies that only under specific, spelled out conditions can a consumer get parts or an entire product replaced.

Then there’s state-wide lemon laws, which vary. California has the strongest lemon laws in the country since its passing of the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, which requires you to go to a manufacturer’s local representative (generally the dealer) to get a car repaired. If they can’t fix the problem that’s covered under warranty within a reasonable number of tries, you may be eligible for an entire vehicle replacement.

 

When we think of what needs to happen when we consider a green future and how we can curve the affects of global warming there is one villain that we seem to not put the target on strong enough. That is of coarse the use of fossil fuels for energy. We can do all the recycling or ride sharing we want, but the truth remains that if we do not curve this trend and find a way to completely get off the tit of fossil fuels then these are all mute points and it really doesn’t matter all long as public enemy number one remains at large. We see that the advent of electric cars is on the horizon. However, as long as our energy source for these remains from the burning of fossil fuels to produce electricity, the point here again is fairly mute, although slightly better still pretty bad. This is a glimpse of the futureaasd

Right now however there seems to be someone who is putting the example for the rest of the world that may or may not have implications for other nations, and at the very least will be beneficial in their own right. What I am referring to is the Netherlands who is saying that by 2025 they aim to flat out bad the use off all gas and diesel modes of transportation in their country. This is coming from their labor party and is being seen by some to be a very left move, However it is gaining by partisan support. The reason being is that fuel is a finite resource, and they want to get on this before it gets on them. That is to say that they want to be ahead of the curve and plan for this before they are caught with their lets between their legs. the innovations that come out of there will likely boost their economy and allow them to meet the demands of tomorrows energy landscape better than most. This is coming in the same week that China announced its plans to shift entirely to a solar and wind by the same time frame. However, the difference being that the Chinese plan is a multi multi trillion dollar en devour thathojlkj may or may not happen to the degree they are proclaiming. However, it is an remediable amount to say the least considering they are public enemy number one when it comes to the contribution of global warming through the burning of fossil fuels in the production of green house gasses. What this is going to mean for the Netherlands remains to be seen and the fact is, is that they are probably positioned to do this better than most countries in the world. The reason being is that they are a fairly isolate economy, in addition, they have a world class public transportation system that allows them to make these leaps without totally adversely affecting their citizenry. Alot needs to happen before 2025, however, if they can pull it off it will be a loud and clear voice of change.

kjjnIn the last few months there has been a lot of buzz surrounding autonomous driving and more specifically the Google car. However, everything we know or think about them is usually relegated to our fantasy’s and speculations but with very little understanding as to anything surrounding the experience and what to expect. To rectify this Google is in an attempt to bring the Google car into the household of America and get people to understand what to expect and how they feel and operate Google has undertaken a campaign of allowing reporters across many different backgrounds who write for many demographics to test ride along in them and report first hand what they think. This is a great move for Google, because as it stands now, many are worried, because as is often the case of our nature, we fear what we do not yet understand. Therefore the aim of this mission is education, to remove the stigma and clear the fog of autonomous driving. n

Here are just a few things being reported from peoples first hand accounts of autonomous auto motion.

  1. We give humans way too much credit when it comes to our ability to drive. In just the united states 30,000 people die from automobile accidents every year. This is the primary cause of death for people age 15-24 around the world. and during a crash, it is reported that 40% of people never even hit the breaks or in a word do not see it coming. Google aims to remove the human element from driving because it is flawed.  We get distracted, we drink, we text and we are at the end of the day really bad drivers.
  2. Google self driving cars would never take the liberties we take when driving in the name of safety. The cars are slow and deliberate, think grandmother speed with Earnhardt attention of space. although it is entirely possible for the cars to move faster and do much better than humans, this is a technology that is made for humans at the end of the day, and the goal is to put them at ease.jljn
  3. It is a surprisingly pleasing experience, and comfortable interior.  Without the need for everyone to be in a sense attentive to the road and the driver in the attempt to make sure they are on it and driving safely a whole new experience and relationship to driving is borne where the leisure of transport has never been felt. In the future productivity will sky rocket when during one’s hour long commute they are able to get more work done or even get in the breakfast we often neglect.
  4. The car is not done yet, there are bugs that will likely be worked out, its not perfect, but its pretty damn close.
  5. This is not going to be an exhilarating ride like something from the senses of tron, and that’s a good thing. When we take the stress out of driving and hour relationship can make these skills obsolete it will make for a more peaceful and verdant world.

hybrid taxi dubai

Dubai is implementing some major, revolutionary transportation infrastructure changes in their city, and seem to be ready to start implementing radical new ways of doing things just short of 3D printing their cars. According to the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), half of Dubai’s taxi fleet will be hybrid vehicles by 2021.

Dubai’s current taxi fleet numbers around 150 hybrids, but that number is expected to rise up to 4,750 in the next five years.

The hybrids will be powered by a combination of electricity and petrol and run off of self-charging electric motors when driven within a speed of 40km/h. When it speeds up past that point, the engine will shift back to petrol.

A hybrid taxi will create 30% less carbon emissions.

This move is all part of larger plan to reduce carbon emissions resulting from taxis by 2 percent, according to Matter Al Tayer, director-general and chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of RTA. The Dubai Supreme Council of Energy recently required the decrease.

The decision was also prompted by the low life cycle cost of hybrid vehicles in comparison with normal vehicles, plus the recent deregulation of fuel prices.

hybrid taxi“The plan encompasses beefing up the fleet of hybrid taxicabs in Dubai from 147 in 2015 to 791 in 2016, 1,582 in 2017, 2,375 in 2018, 3,167 in 2019, 3,959 in 2020 and to further increase the number to 4,750 hybrid taxicabs by 2021,” stated Al Tayer.

Most of this fleet will be operated by Dubai Taxi Corporation (DTC), a large subsidiary of RTA that will own over 2,000 cabs. Cars Taxi will own 900 cabs and National Taxi will own 812. Arabia Taxi will have 463 cabs, Metro Taxi will have 377 cabs, and City Taxi will have 18.

“RTA is endeavoring to bring about a quantum shift in the infrastructure of mass transit systems to make them environment-friendly, and accommodate the rising demand for transit means in the emirate,” Al Tayer continued.

RTA was the first company in the Dubai region to attempt to introduce hybrid vehicles into taxi fleets in 2008.

“Results of the trial operation of hybrid taxis conducted by DTC since 2008 indicated that they help reduce carbon emissions by 34 percent, slashing fuel consumption by 33 percent, besides cutting maintenance costs due to the low mechanical faults, and curbing noise levels,” Al Tayer explained.

The RTA has a lot to gain from continuing with this kind of momentum; an RTA study showed that replacing all taxi cabs in Dubai with hybrid cabs would actually reduce carbon emissions by 230,000 tonnes per annum. That means a savings of Dh170 million.

The hybrid taxi initiative is only one part of a multi pronged effort on the part of the RTA to reduce Dubai’s carbon footprint and unnecessary resource use.

rta dubaiLast year, the RTA initiated a trial run of an electric-powered bus that is operated through rechargeable batteries that need less then half an hour to regain fully charged status. A fully charged battery can transport the bus and its passengers up to 200 km.

The RTA has also introduced CNG-powered abras which are slowly phasing out diesel-powered abras on Dubai Creek. LED street lighting is yet another example of their eco-friendly revisions to Dubai infrastructure, reducing the carbon footprint by more than 3,000 tonnes per annum.

According to the RTA, by 2030 they plan to replace all street lights with LED lights, something that would reduce the carbon footprint of the RTA’s operations by 27,000 mega tonnes of carbon.

hydroplaningEver driven on a wet road and spun out, or seen another car spin out? It’s likely you just witnessed a car hydroplaning. Hydroplaning occurs when a car slides on a thin layer of water located between the tires and the pavement, at least in the context of this article.

Quicknote: hydroplaning is also used to describe the way that DJ’s apply slight pressure to a spinning record in order dos low it down without stopping it or creating a real scratch. The term also refers to a difference in friction, but this time it occurs between the DJ’s fingers and a record. The result is a bass-y, friction-y sound that many DJ’s call “rubber”. But that’s another matter.

So say you’re driving on a wet road and suddenly you realize that your tires are slipping instead of rolling. Don’t worry, the situation is manageable provided you don’t freak out too much. Just hold the steering wheel firm and don’t oversteer, slam on the brakes, or make any sudden movements at all except to take your foot off the gas.

Point straight ahead, or steer just enough to keep the car driving forward/away from any oncoming obstructions or cars. Your car’s tires should regain traction momentarily.

It can help if, before the situation occurs, you see if your vehicle has something called anti-lock brakes. You can ask your mechanic, or just check in your owner’s manual. You could also probably google your car’s model and year and anti-lock brakes? and see what it says.

Now say you don’t have a anti-lock brakes and you hydroplane and you are close to an obstruction or vehicle, and you’re heading straight towards it. Pump your breaks lightly and rapidly until you gain traction.

dynamic hydroplaningIf you do have anti-lock brakes, you can brake in a normal fashion during a hydroplaning incident; just don’t brake too hard. The vehicle’s computer will then mimic the pumping action for you. So long as your vehicle’s tires have some kind of contact with the road, you should begin to slow and regain control.

One quick note; if your car has cruise control capabilities (most do), be sure to not use them if you’re driving in a rainstorm. Some have said that a vehicle that’s hydroplaning while in cruise control mode will actually accelerate, which is of course, extremely dangerous. The logic behind the assertion is that cruise control requires that you hit the brakes to disarm it, but you’re not supposed to immediately hit the brakes while hydroplaning. That said, experts have yet to come up with a case in which an accident was caused by cruise-control-affected hydroplaning.

Cautious drivers will be happy to hear that hydroplaning is much less common than it once was, mostly due to the way that highway engineers have compensated for its risks. Material choices, building specifications and cross slope engineering (building highways so that they travel in the direction perpendicular to that of the main slope) makes it possible for water to drain from highways more effectively.

maintenance tips

For most Americans, their vehicles are their keys to success; vehicles take people to work, kids to school, and loved ones to loved ones. Accordingly, cars hold a lot of value, a fact that many vehicle owners forget about until it’s too late. Follow these tips to keep your car running well for as long as possible and avoid breakdowns:

1. Replace Your Air Filters

Air filters are easy to maintain but can cause catastrophic damage to a vehicle if neglected. Change your filters every 12 months or for every 12,000 miles (whichever comes first) to ensure that dirty air filters don’t cause you any problems.

To replace your filters, consult your driver’s manual for the proper parts, purchase them online and then either install them yourself or hire a trusted mechanic for the job.

2. Change Your Windshield Wipers

Yes, windshield wipers really do make a difference, especially if you live in a location where the elements play a major role in your road-side safety. After all, if you total your car because you can’t see out your windshield when it’s raining, you will wish you took the time to get those wipers replaced.

Consult you owners manual and follow instructions for wiper replacement and installation.

3. Check Your Tire Pressure

Adequate tire pressure is yet another often ignored facet of your car’s proper functioning. Without it, you run the risk of ruining your tires, decreasing your mileage, and a general lack of safety.

Every so often (and especially after major temperature fluctuations or long trips), stop at the gas station and pay the buck it costs to gauge your tires’ air pressure and potentially fill them up a bit.

tire rotation4. Rotate Your Tires

Every 5,000 to 10,000 miles, you ought to get your tires rotated. Change them from front to back to help extend their life and maintain as much road-to-tire friction as possible so you can remain in control when you’re at the wheel.

5. Change Your Fuel Filters

Replacing your fuel filters is integral the long-term health of your car. Whether your key is in the ignition or your car is parked in the lot, your car’s fuel filter is constantly working to make sure that your fuel is ready to be pumped. It will need to be replaced every so often, so keep it in mind!

6. Keep an Eye on Your Power Steering Oil/Fluid

Keeping your car lubricated and functional is important, plus you probably want to be able to make turns. It takes a long time for this guy to run out, but if you’re getting a check up, it’s worth your while to ask your mechanic for an update on its status.

7. Check Your Lights and Electrical Components

Ever seen someone driving around with their taillight out? That could happen to you if you never take the time to check on the electrical systems of your car; every so often have a friend watch your front and back end while you put on your blinkers and pump the brakes. It may just save you an expensive ticket.

8. Read Your Owner’s Manual

It probably won’t be the best read, but it will be worth your while when something strange goes on in your car and you have a decent chance at diagnosing it. Don’t waste time at the side of the road flipping through a manual; catch problems before they become full-fledge disasters.

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