Category Archives: Technology

Apple

Tim Cook Confirms Apple’s Stance On Autonomus Vehicles

Apple has had a shroud of secrecy over its autonomous vehicle efforts for the past several years. While the tech giant’s Project Titan in-house vehicle program is largely dead when it comes to building a vehicle from the ground up, Apple revealed that t is still exploring other projects in this burgeoning segment of the automotive world.

In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that Apple is officially exploring self-driving technology that could potentially make its appearance in production automobiles .

“We’re focusing on autonomous systems” said Cook. It’s a core technology that we view as very important.” Cook claimed that the technology is “the mother of all AI projects,” and that it’s “probably one of the most difficult AI projects to work on.”

This news follows on a previous statement by Apple’s Director of Product Integrity Steve Kenner. At the time, Kenner laid out a vision for developing and testing autonomus vehicles on public roads as part of a letter that he wrote to the NHTSA. The letter stated that Apple “is heavily investing in the study of machine learning and automation, and is excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation.

 

 

Honda Showcases Clarity Electric and Plug-in Hybrid

The Clarity fuel cell was a big achievement for Honda when the Japanese auto giant first unveiled it several years ago. However, the fuel Cell represented only a small portion of the Clarity’s full potential, and Honda has unveiled the final two members of the Clarity family under the bright lights of the New York International Auto Show, the Clarity Electric and the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid.

The Clarity PHEV is equipped with an ultra efficient 1.5 liter Atkinson cycle engine to generate electricity and directly power the front wheels in certain driving conditions. The engine is capable of delivering 181 horsepower and is paired with a lithium ion battery pack. Honda claims that the PHEV can be driven on all electric power up to 42 miles and achieve up to 42 mpg when the gasoline engine is running.

Meanwhile the Clarity Electric is solely powered by an electric motor that delivers 161 horsepower, and its battery can be fully charged in three hours or up to 80 percent in less than 30 minutes. Honda claims that the Clarity Electric is capable of achieving up to 111 MPGe but curiously its 25.5 kilowatt-hour battery pack is not that much bigger than the plug-in hybrid. This particular figure contributes to the Clarity Electric’s rather modest 80 mile driving range which is one of the lowest in the market and falls short of the Chevrolet Bolt and the Volkswagen e-Golf.

Honda claims that the Clarity Electric compensates for that initial disadvantage by being more spacious and luxurious than any other non-Tesla offering out on the market. It will be interesting to see if this will be enough to win over electric car buyers, but both models feature Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability as well as sustainable bio-fabric and plastic trim.

Honda revealed that both models are expected to start in the mid-$30,000 range before tax incentives but wheras the PHEV will roll out in all 50 states right out the gate, the Clarity Electric will initially only be available in California and Oregon before eventually rolling out in the remaining 48 states.

Genesis Previews Upcoming SUV Offering With GV80 FCV Concept

Genesis is making great strides in its emergence as a viable luxury brand especially with the G90 and G80 sedans. However, for the brand to truly blossom, Genesis will need CUV/SUV entries to prop up its reputation in the luxury car market.

While it is currently unknown what the production version will look like, Genesis previewed a glimpse at this future with the GV80 concept which showcases a new design language that aims to cement its styling language for years to come.

The two row four seat concept features a bold front fascia that is firmly anchored by the familiar Genesis grille, Unlike other applications of the Genesis grille, the application here has a bolder presence, which is mostly due to the larger real estate that is dedicated to it. This enhanced swagger is accentuated further by a second opening in the lower portion of the grille, which is reminiscent of recently Bentley offerings.

The grille is flanked by two tiered headlights that are made up of rows of separate LED strips. Below these stylish strips are two specially designed “air curtain inlets which flank the 23-inch wheels. The design of the inlets transitions into outlets behind the wheels, which are designed to help cool the hydrogen fuel cells. A pair of matching outlets also appears on the rear fascia.

Meanwhile the interior adopts a two tiered display with a large curved screen that serves as the infotainment and control hub. In addition, a second smaller cluster style display showcases vital driving information. The interior is a technological showcase, but our favorite feature has to be the trusses that Genesis designers used for the side pillars. These trusses are very stylish, and can also be viewed from inside and outside the vehicle.

With the high levels of luxury and technology that the GV80 possesses, we look forward to seeing what the production version will bring to buyers. While the hydrogen fuel cell power train will most likely not make the jump to production, look for the G90’s V6 engines to carryover to the GV80, as well as the eight speed transmission that helps regulate all that power.

How Toyota’s FT-4X Concept Could Revamp Future Of SUVs

Toyota’s FT-4X concept SUV certainly made waves when it was unveiled in New York yesterday, but the pint sized utility also hints at what could be in store for Toyota’s CUV lineup.

Currently Toyota has a very diverse lineup of CUVs, but a notable void exists in the compact CUV segment. Granted the C-HR is a commendable attempt at filling the gap, but its odd styling does detract from its overall mission somewhat.

This is where the FT-4X finds its niche, building on a rugged looking canvas that hints at crossing the beaten path. However, Toyota claims that the FT-4X’s suit of clothes actually highlight its “Rugged Charm” (whatever that means) and that it was designed to appeal to “casual core” consumers. The flat panel roof houses power outlets, which allows buyers to power campsite electronics directly from the exterior.

The interior was also designed to reflect the needs of city dwellers with Toyota claiming that it is a “rolling gearbox” with the cabin offering commendable levels of storage in a deceptively open layout. A key feature is the dual temperature controlled storage boxes in the tailgate that can keep food hot or cold while still moonlighting as a handy place to store your gear.

Curiously, Toyota chose to not add a formal infotainment system, and instead constructed a unit that allows occupants to mount their phone to it in a nod towards Generation Y’s varied uses for smartphones (including navigation.)

Toyota has not formally commented on whether the FT-4X will eventually spawn a production model or not. But buyers clamoring for a reborn FJ Cruiser will most likely be disappointed. Instead, the production version would most likely be a compact CUV that would give Toyota an entry against the Jeep Renegade as well as the Kia Soul and Honda HR-V.

Dodge Unveils 840 Horsepower Drag Strip Slaying Demon

After keeping the world captivated with twelve long weeks of captivating teasers, Dodge has finally unleashed its drag strip slaying monster on the world, the 2018 Dodge Challenger Demon.

Dodge used its pre-autoshow conference to cement its image as a performance brand with swagger, and in an age where a renewed quest for horsepower is once again in full swing, the Demon represents a tactical nuclear strike on the muscle car segment.

It all starts with the engine which has been heavily upgraded in its bid for dragstrip superiority. While it does share its basic architecture with the standard 6.2 liter Hellcat engine, the Demon’s engine is an outright evolution that goes beyond simply being a Hellcat with more boost. While a bigger 2.7 liter supercharger does deliver 14.5 pounds of boost, other upgrades include dual two stage fuel pumps, numerous reinforced engine components, as well as a larger air box with three different sources of air flow (Air Grabber hood, driver side air catcher headlamp, and a special inlet near the wheel liner.

The end result of all this mad engineering is 840 horsepower on 100-octane gasoline (808 on standard grade gas), and while the former figure is a bit short of the rumored 1,000 plus horsepower that was pitched prior to its debut. It is still a sizable boost in power from the already ridiculous 707 horsepower wielded by the standard Hellcat Challenger. It also curb stomps other high horsepower offerings including the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, the Shelby GT350 Mustang, as well as the supercar-esque Corvette Z06. An eight speed automatic transmission is the sole transmission offering here, but it has also been beefed up for Demon duty, and helps the demonic Challenger burn its way to a 2.3 second 0 to 60 time as well as an equally impressive 9.65 second quarter mile time. This time was officially confirmed by the National Hot Rod Association, which subsequently banned the Demon from official competition, due to safety reasons.

An extensive crash diet also defines the Demon, and it is highlighted by two absent pieces of equipment, the passenger seats. You heard that right, in a bid to shed maximum weight, Demon engineers took out both the front passenger seat and the rear bench seat which truly makes it a driver-centric experience. It also reminds us of the Lamborghini Egoista concept in this regard, with that particular concept also embracing a one seat only layout when it was unveiled a few years ago.

Unlike that one-off Italian, Dodge will let buyers outfit the production Demon with both seats (if they must), for a reasonable sum, with FCA head of passenger cars Tim Kuniskis jokingly claiming that each seat would cost $1 on the options list. The interior otherwise retains much of the basic elements that define the standard Challenger Hellcat, albeit an environment that lacks sound deadening, various interior trim pieces, as well as the removal of all but two of the speakers for the stereo system. We are fine with this latter item since the engine should be the full focus of attention anyway, versus whatever is playing on the local pop music station.

Meanwhile all that power going to the sticky Nitto drag slick tires also highlights an additional trait of the Demon. When the throttle is punched, the front end lifts up which in turn helps put more weight on the rear to help the tires hook up quicker, and make better use of the ample 770 lb-ft of torque. This allowed the Demon to secure a Guinness World Record for the longest wheelie at an impressive 2.95 feet.

Dodge plans to build an initial run of 3,300 Demons with 3,000 going to U.S. buyers while the remaining 300 will go to customers in Canada. Pricing has not been released, but Dodge claims that it is trying to keep the Demon under the $100,000 ceiling. With this bold move, we look forward to seeing if either Ford or Chevrolet will unveil a responding salvo to the Demon in the near future in a bid to further amp up the horsepower arms race.

Dodge Demon Teases Intake Cooling Technology [Video]

The Dodge Demon has been the subject of an elaborate string of teaser videos with FCA unleashing a new one every Thursday for the past few weeks. This latest video highlights the unique intake cooling technology that aims to help give the Demon some extra kick when it thunders its way down the drag strip.

FCA claims that the Dodge Demon will be the first production model to feature a liquid- to-air chiller for the charge air cooling system. But what is a liquid-to-air chiller? And how does such a system exactly work? you might be asking.

Well it’s actually deceptively simple when you take a closer look at it. Unlike other air cooling systems which either use ambient air or coolant to help reduce the air induction temperature, the Demon’s system actually uses the interior’s A/C system to help cool the air even further. This novel feature is only active in Drag Mode, and FCA claims that it cools inducted air by 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

While this technology may sound a bit wonky, this technology will please drag racers looking to take their Demon’s out onto the strip. That’s because heat is the enemy of performance in any engine, and cold dense air is a crucial element in achieving maximum performance. This is especially true of forced induction engines like the Demon’s which generate even more heat from the supercharger, on top of the heat already generated by the engine.

This all sounds golden but there are two flaws in this otherwise perfect technology. The first is that air conditioning systems (as well as other accessories) often draw power away from the engine, an unwelcome trait for many racers. Also, the system inadvertently creates a safety hazard out on the drag strip, with many tracks barring this method of power increase due to the small puddles of water that the resulting condensation creates on the track.

If these two attributes don’t bother you (and its safe to assume it won’t matter for many Demon buyers) then stay tuned for the final teaser video which will be revealed next week, as well as to Autoinfoquest.com for our live coverage of the Demon’s New York debut on April 11th. In the meantime you can check out the current teaser video in all of its glory below.

Ford Confirms Hybrid Mustang, F-150 models

In an announcement released earlier today, Ford Motor Company CEO Mark Fields revealed that th company is ramping up its investment in hybrid vehicles and that it is bringing hybrid capability to the Mustang and F-150 models.

Revealed to be part of a $4.5 million dollar push towards electrification that involves 13 new models, the Mustang and F-150 versions would help the inititave reach more customers with the Mustang in particular standing out as the world’s only hybrid muscle car offering.

Ford chose to not go into depth regarding both hybrid systems, but Fields did reveal that the Mustang hybrid will deliver “V8 power and even more low end torque.” This could mean that the proposed hybrid system would be offered on the mid-range V6 engine, but we’ll have to wait until the model is unveiled to judge for ourselves.

As for the F-150 version details surrounding it are even murkier but Fields did slip that the new hybrid truck would be an electrified alternative to the EcoBoost V6 while also serving as an on board generator for certain equipment when put to use out on the job site.

The biggest announcement however is where all of these vehicles will be built with the company recently scrapping its plans to build a manufacturing facility in San Luis Potisi Mexico. Instead, the company will invest this green future with upgrades at its Flat Rock, MI assembly plant which is currently the home for Mustang production and will help generate new jobs in the area as well.

Look for more information to.be unveiled at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Chrysler Portal Previews Millennial Infused Future

FCA is out to stake a claim in the wallets and minds of Millennial car buyers, and has unveiled the first piece of this Millennial infused future with the Chrysler Portal concept minivan.

Set to debut later today at CES in Las Vegas, the Portal is an all electric minivan that claims to have all the things that millennials crave in a vehicle. This apparently includes futuristic Chrysler Portal roof viewstyling that looks like it lept off the pages of a Syd Mead drawing catalog, while also showcasing the renewed levels of flair that FCA has unleashed over the past few years. The Portal is a one box design, but manages to cram plenty of LED lighting, as well as copious amounts of glass into its overall shape.

The Portal’s 118.2 inch wheelbase is slightly smaller than the Chrysler Pacifica’s, but the Chrysler Portal rear viewfront fascia still looks slick, and neatly transistions into a side profile that incorporates massive sliding doors before leading out to a more function oriented rear end. While the Portal as a whole will most likely not make the leap to production, select elenents could eventually make their mark on future FCA models.

The interior of the Portal is where things really start to get interesting. A minimalist dashboard layout is accented by a long top mounted LCD Portal interiorscreen which is complimented by a more conventionally placed center mounted screen. FCA claims that the screens can be configured by occupants to help increase the interior’s flexibility. The Portal also features 10 docking stations, and FCA worked with Panasonic on enhancing usability, with the possibility that the tech giant could become a future supplier for FCA.

In addition, the seats are mounted on rails. and can be moved fore and aft, fold flat into the floor, or removed completly for maximum cargo capability. The flat floor sits above a 100 kWh battery pack which allows the Portal to have a 250 mile driving range.

A 350 kWh fast charger can fully replenish the pack in less than 20 minutes, but range drops to 150 miles as a result. A single electric motor provides the motovation, but FCA did not reveal exact performance data for it.

FCA claims that the Portal is capable of SAE Level Three autonomus driving which means occupants can transfer driving duties to the concept under certain conditions when out on the freeway. Chrysler also claims that as self-driving technology advances, the Portal can be upgraded accordingly to allow it to stay fresh. Facial and speech recgonition technology allows the Portal to recognize individual drivers, so it can tailor the driving enviorment to their tastes.

Look for more information about the Chrysler Portal concept to be revealed later today when it makes its formal debut at CES.

Mercedes Benz Unveils 2018 E-Class Coupe

Following on the heels of the debut of the E-Class sedan last year, Mercedes Benz has come full circle with the unveiling of the 2018 E-Class coupe ahead of its official debut at the North American International Auto Show in January.

 

 

The coupe shares its underpinnings with the E-Class sedan which has allowed the 2018 model to be longer, wider, and taller than its predecessor with the wheelbase increasing by 4.8 inches. Underneath this potent platform is an all new body that is softer than before, and shares its inspiration with the range topping S-Class coupe as well as the smaller C-Class coupe. This is an improvement over the last generation coupe, and the rear fascia in particular serves as a compelling visual element for the 2018 E-Class coupe. The one thing that has not changed is the exclusion of a formal B-pillar, which helps transform the E-Class coupe into a true hardtop design. Buyers looking to spice things up can opt for the optional Sport package that brings aggressively styled front and rear bumpers, side skirts, and bolder wheels to the sleek two door.

 

 

the 2018 E-Class coupe’s larger dimensions will certainly be noticed and felt in the interior especially for rear seat passengers, with the company claiming that passengers back there will enjoy greater amounts of head, leg, and shoulder room than before which is not a bad thing. Sharing the sedan’s interior design is also not a bad thing with the coupe retaining the basic elements that helped make the E-Class four door stand out in its segment. The key difference is the air vent design with Mercedes claiming that they were largely inspired by jet turbines.

The coupe also gets the sedan’s standard 12.3 inch infotainment display, and can be equipped with an optional version that merges with the 12.3 inch display used in the instrument cluster to create a seamless focal point in the otherwise attractive cabin. In addition. the system also comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, as well as the newly minted Mbrace Concierge Service.

 

 

Unlike the sedan which comes in a myriad of trims, the 2018 E-Class coupe simplifies things and will only be available in two trim levels: the base E400 rear-wheel drive E400 and the all-wheel drive E400 4-MATIC. Both variants get their performance from a twin-turbocharged 3.0 liter twin-turbocharged V6 that is good for 329 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque and is meshed with a 9-speed automatic transmission. While these figures match the previous generation model, minor tweaks to the engine allow the peak torque to start and end slightly higher in the rev range. The coupe will also offer two different suspension options and come with either standard springs and shocks or an optional air suspension.

Mercedes chose to not reveal any pricing information in its unveiling, but the company did reveal availability figures with the 2018 E-Class coupe expected to arrive in Mercedes dealerships in the summer of 2017 following its debut in January. While the company stopped short of announcing any future coupe variants, it would not be too surprising to see a convertible as well as an AMG version enter the lineup in the near future to help give the two door much needed flexibility. As far as the AMG goes, it could either be a milder E43 version with a slightly upgraded V6, or it could go all in and arrive in E63 guise with the car shoehorning the AMG GT’s twin-turbocharged 4.0 liter V8 into its elegantly sculpted hood.

Lexus To Debut Next Generation LS Sedan At NAIAS

When Lexus first unleashed the LS flagship sedan at the North American International Auto Show back in 1989, it was a big gamble for a young brand that was making its debut in the luxury automobile market. However, its combination of technology, performance, and style helped it and the Lexus brand as a whole grow into a successful powerhouse in the segment. 28 years later, Lexus is aiming to recreate this success with the unveiling of the 2017 Lexus LS sedan in the very venue that started it all.

Lexus claims that this iteration will be a true world class flagship offering, and will debut an all new styling theme that is said to boast a coupe-like sillhouette. This has us excited, especially since the more conventional current gen LS looks awkward, and has fallen behind stylish entries from BMW and Mercedes. It will be interesting to see what the full extent of the design is, but expect a renewed emphasis on sport and elegance.

Look for the revamped interior to also follow this mantra, and take a few pages out of the LC 500’s playbook especially with its dash and gauge layout. The platform (dubbed GA-L) is an extended version of the LC’s, and is expected to bring new levels of vigor and sharpness to the car’s handling manners.

Expect more details and teaser images to gradually be revealed over the next few weeks before its debut at NAIAS and stay tuned to Autoinfoquest for our live look at the 2017 Lexus LS in all of its glory.