Toyota Strives For Simpler Technology During Your Commute

DETROIT (AP) –There are so many different types of technology when it comes to car now a days that they some won’t even get used.  Toyota is forming a new data science company in partnership with Microsoft that’s designed to free customers “from the tyranny of technology.”

The company called Toyota Connected has a goal of simplifying technology so it’s easier to use, perhaps even getting rid of distracting and complicated touch screens that now are in most cars and replacing them with heads-up or voice-activated technology, said Zack Hicks, the company’s CEO who also is Toyota Motor America’s chief information officer.

“I think people are really tired of fumbling with multiple devices and having this disjointed experience,” Hicks said as Toyota announced the venture Monday.

Like other automakers, Toyota Connected will research connecting cars to each other and to homes, as well as telematics features that learn and anticipate a driver’s habits. The company, like other automakers, will explore transmitting a driver’s health data to a doctor or driving patterns to an insurance company so people are insured based on where they travel, Toyota said. Also, it will look at linking with other vehicles so they can report weather and traffic conditions to people driving the same route.

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What Distraction While Your Driving Is The Most Dangerous?

So many accidents occur now a day due to distracted driving, and part of the reason is because there are so many things to take our eyes off the road. There are text messages to tempt us, email to enchant us, and cellphone rings can seduce us like a siren’s call.

But which distraction is the riskiest? That’s what researchers from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute set out to answer in a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

By analyzing millions of miles of driving data collected over three years, the team found that dialing a phone was the most dangerous distraction, increasing a drivers’ chance of crashing by 12 times.

This was followed by reading or writing, which increased the risk by 10 times. Reaching for an item other than a cellphone came next, increasing the risk by nine times. Texting increased the risk by six times, reaching for a phone increased it by nearly five times, and browsing a phone or reading email nearly tripled a person’s chances of getting into an accident.

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Full Steam Ahead Towards Electric Cars

LAS VEGAS — Even though fuel prices are dropping, economically hybrid and electric vehicles make sense.

Although sales of electric and hybrid vehicles have struggled, automakers are charging ahead to bring new battery-powered vehicles to market.

Several car companies have focused on electric vehicles at the International CES consumer trade show here, including General Motors, which on Wednesday introduced the production version of its Chevrolet Bolt.

G.M.’s chief executive, Mary T. Barra, said the Bolt was a big step forward in the electrification of vehicles because of its price and ability to travel 200 miles on a fully charged battery.

“This is truly the first EV that cracks the code because of long range at an affordable price,” Ms. Barra said in a keynote speech at the show.

The Bolt, which will go on sale this year, will carry a sticker price of $30,000, including government incentives that total about $7,500.

But even with its extended range and mass-market price, the Bolt may still face a difficult battle to lure consumers who are taking advantage of $2-a-gallon gasoline to buy larger vehicles.

While sales of pickups and sport utility vehicles soared in 2015, all-electric models and gas-electric hybrids languished in showrooms.

For example, sales in the United States of the all-electric Nissan Leaf fell 43 percent in 2015 compared with 2014, and the leading hybrid model, theToyota Prius, dropped about 11 percent.

Over all, electric and hybrid vehicles accounted for about 2 percent of the American market. Still, luxury automakers like BMW introduced a newelectric car last year, and Tesla is expanding its lineup to include an all-electric S.U.V., the Model X.

G.M. has had mixed success with its Volt plug-in hybrid, which marries battery power with a small gasoline engine that significantly extends its driving range.

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What’s Your Resolutions Car Companies?

After an interesting year in 2015, maybe its time for the car companies to make some changes and creates a resolution of their own.

Some suggested New Year’s resolutions for car companies in 2016. The times are changing. Don’t get left in the dust.

Simplify: Don’t bother drivers with prompts and options. Make high-tech gadgets smart enough to operate themselves, and easy to switch off.

Fun: Instead of focusing on Nurburgring lap times and max power, make cars that are fun to drive at any speed. Mazda proved it can be done – and on a budget – with the latest MX-5. We don’t have autobahns in Canada; we have traffic and potholes and police. We shouldn’t have to double the speed limit for a car to make us smile.

Services: Don’t be afraid of car-sharing services. Create your own. Offer all types of vehicles. Make it easy and convenient.

Interfaces: Why are they so bad? Steering wheels and pedals work well. But auto makers have had a century to perfect those. Almost everything else needs work. Touchscreens are still horrifically bad, even though Apple is on iPhone 6. Screens are fiddly, ugly and often distracting: Why not try designing them with drivers in mind? Audi’s “virtual cockpit” is headed in the right direction.

Wagons: My parents need a new wagon. A real one, not jacked-up like an SUV. Maybe a mid-size. Make one with all-wheel drive and an optional stick-shift and you’ll have their business. Would someone please build one? Subaru? Volvo? Anybody?

Connectivity: Don’t say it. It doesn’t mean anything. Or, rather, it means different things to everyone. So be specific. If you mean Bluetooth, say that. If you mean you can send maps to your car via Google or car-to-car communication – come up with a snappy name for it.

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The Car’s Creation, From The Drawing Board To Your Home

A lot of work goes into creating a car, numerous ideas and designs and people take part in the making of a car. Infact, the car-creation odyssey makes NASA’s Journey to Mars program seem like a Caribbean luxury cruise. While we frequently address elements of the design and development process on this page, this is the first time we’ve presented the entire start-to-finish plan; this year’s 10Best celebration seemed like the perfect time and place to do so. One domestic and one import manufacturer—both requesting anonymity for competitive reasons—helped compile this guide to how cars are made.

We gathered related tasks under five headings.

The time required is the most interesting and secretive part of a car’s gestation; a crash program to replace a dead-on-its-wheels product may take only half the time invested in a normal, full-redesign effort.

In our illustrations, the clock begins when the generals gather to spur their troops to action. The end is when the new model reaches showrooms. On average, the entire process takes 72 months. There’s overlap to save time, as revealed by the start and finish months listed in each of the five category headings. After-sale activities—including service issues, continuous improvement, and midlife face lifts—are not included in this account. That’s for another 10Best.

  1. INVENTION

MONTHS 0–72

Research market, including in-house and field investigations, to identify the role of this product and its components in the global portfolio; define separation from similar models sold by sister brands

Identify special features, advantages, and potential world, U.S., or segment firsts

Define competitive set, target customers; set curb-weight, fuel-economy, and performance goals

Competitive assessment

Powertrain selection

Budget, funding, pricing, investment considerations

Computer-aided-engineering (CAE) analysis

Customer, press, analyst clinics

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DMV Is Deciding Where To Stand When It Comes To A Car With No Driver

With autonomous driving coming closer to a reality, we have entered a new territory in the automotive industry, which means new rules have to be decided. The DMV has to consider what should happen the next time someone is pulled over like Brooks Weisblat was. When the Florida Highway Patrol pulled him over this month for driving too fast, Brooks Weisblat didn’t bother telling the officer that his Tesla Model S had been driving itself.

“That would have definitely got me a ticket,” said Weisblat, who got a warning notice instead.

Florida doesn’t have a driver’s handbook dictating robot rules of the road. No state does, but California could become the global model next year when it publishes first-in-the-world consumer rules for self-driving cars.

Those regulations are already a year behind schedule. Among the problems vexing officials with the Department of Motor Vehicles is how to handle not just the machines but their over trusting owners.

“The technology is ready. I’m not sure the people are ready,” said Weisblat, who along with his Model S and its new Autopilot feature didn’t notice the sign warning that the freeway speed limit had dropped by 10 miles per hour as it approached Miami. “You still need to pay attention.”

Google has for years been testing vehicles near its Mountain View headquarters that are meant to be fully autonomous, requiring no human intervention except a rider’s voice saying “Take me to the supermarket.” But most carmakers developing self-driving technology are working on tools that relieve but don’t entirely replace human drivers.

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Do You Trust The New Auto Safety Technologies

WASHINGTON –There are so many new features when it comes to the safety of your car that will protect your family. Some features will automatically turn a car back into its lane if it begins to drift, or hit the brakes if sensors detect that it’s about to rear-end someone else. There are lane-change and blind-spot monitors, drowsiness alerts and cars that can park themselves. Technologies once limited to high-end models like adaptive cruise control, tire-pressure indicators and rear-view cameras have become more common.

The features hold tremendous potential to reduce deaths and injuries by eliminating collisions or mitigating their severity, safety advocates say.

But there’s one problem: Education on how to use them doesn’t come standard. Bewildered drivers sometimes just turn them off, defeating the safety potential.

“If people don’t understand how that works or what the car is doing, it may startle them or make them uncomfortable,” said Deborah Hersman, president of the National Safety Council. “We want to make sure we’re explaining things to people so that the technology that can make them safer is actually taken advantage of.”

The council and the University of Iowa, along with the Department of Transportation, are kicking off an education campaign Wednesday to inform drivers on how the safety features work. The effort includes a website, MyCarDoesWhat.org, with video demonstrations.

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More Deals May Soon Occur, Seeing How Quiet Dealerships Are Right Now

Dealerships are rarely ever quiet and when this occurs it usually means the big deals about to happen. The start of the new season maybe, starting with incredible sales on cars across the nation.

This makes for a buying opportunity.

Take Kia. The 2015 Soul qualifies for an extra $1,000 in bonus cash as part of Kia’s end of summer “Best-in-Class” 12-day sale. That brings the combined factory and dealer discounts to about $3,000 on a $22,195 wagon-like runabout.

Ford, of course, will wind down summer with its annual Employee Pricing extravaganza. The $2,551 discount on the Fusion sedan can be combined with 1.49 per cent financing for up to 60 months. Insiders suggest the savvy shopper will be able to squeeze out even more in hard negotiations.

Also consider models like the Hyundai Elantra, which is coming to the end of its current body style (Hyundai has released teaser illustrations of the next-generation Elantra). To keep interest healthy, Hyundai has slapped a $4,000 spiff on a $25,549 Elantra. And you should get at least another $1,000 in a negotiated dealer discount. That comes to at least a 20 per cent total discount on this Elantra.

To Read More Click The Link Below

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-drive/news/industry-news/dealerships-are-quite-at-the-end-of-summer-meaning-big-discounts/article26129612/

 

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Suit Up To Test Fords In Winter Weather

With the end of summer coming near, the beginning of testing out winter vehicles has just begun.

It’s a steamy 35 C in this small city on the Florida panhandle. Meanwhile, I am inside a giant chamber, suited up in full winter gear and watching snowflakes fall from the ceiling onto a line of vehicles below.

It’s -28 C inside the McKinley Climatic Laboratory on the Eglin Air Force Base, and Ford is showing me how it tests its cars and trucks for winter compatibility.

“One of the things we’re looking at is cold starts,” says Rich Shimon, technical expert on gasoline powertrain calibration for Ford. “When drivers get into the vehicle, they expect it to start right away and have a comfortable idle speed. Our job is to make sure our vehicles do that under any conceivable condition and with any conceivable fuel, and now we’re doing the extreme cold-weather testing.”

Accurate testing depends on stable conditions, which is why McKinley was constructed in the first place. Many fighter planes wouldn’t start in the cold during the Second World War, and since it couldn’t count on consistent weather outside, the U.S. government commissioned the facility for testing during equipment development. It was finished in 1947, and following a major renovation that wrapped up in 1997, it was then opened up to outside companies. It runs 24 hours a day and is fully booked for the next three years.

Its five chambers can reproduce any type of weather, except tornadoes and lightning strikes. It’s the largest in the world at 5,110 square meters, can go from a high of 48 C to a low of -65 C overnight, and can replicate hurricanes, fog, freezing rain and sandstorms.

Depending on the chamber used and the type of weather requested, rental costs range from $8,000 to $30,000 (U.S.) per day.

Ford uses the big chamber for three weeks each year, primarily because of its capacity. “We’re able to get 72 vehicles and 54 engineers into the chamber,” Shimon says. Back in Michigan, his team has to share Ford’s four smaller test chambers with other departments, and it would take months to do what he can achieve in Florida in three weeks.

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Study Reveals The Best Way To Target New Car Customers Is Through Technology

By adding the technology to that they use everyday to the ride they take to work and school adds more appeal over other cars to the younger generations of today.

Targeting techies is an important marketing strategy for automakers, according to a study released today by J.D. Power.

The company’s 2015 U.S. Automotive Media and Marketing Report — Summer edition found that 30 percent of new-vehicle drivers cited their vehicle’s latest technology as a reason for purchasing.

J.D. Power has released the report twice a year since 1987, but this is the first time respondents were asked about technology features as a reason for purchase.

Among luxury-brand new-vehicle drivers, 43 percent said cutting-edge technology features influenced their purchase. Lincoln, Infiniti, Cadillac and Audi drivers had the highest proportions of respondents who cited technology features as a reason for purchasing.

Among non luxury-brand new-vehicle drivers, 28 percent were looking for the latest technology. Mazda, Buick and Chrysler drivers were the most interested in technology when deciding on a vehicle.

“Targeting these technology seekers with the right messaging is critical to using marketing dollars effectively to reach consumers who will actually buy new vehicles because of technology,” Arianne Walker, J.D. Power’s senior director of automotive media and marketing, said in a statement today.

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