I.C.E. auto news

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In-car navigation systems set to go 3D?

07/10/2009   [Original: Auto Express via Autoblog]
Category: I.C.E., Tech

Navigation systems have quickly gone from being an interactive way to direct one from Point A to Point B to massive infotainment centerpieces capable of MP3 player integration, web browsing and wifi. Auto Express is reporting that GPS units could go 3D as soon as next year, because advancements in hardware could make the technology feasible with already available dual image LCD screens (like the one in the 2010 Jaguar XJ).

If you're thinking that you're going to have to wear those goofy paper 3D glasses to find the nearest McDonalds, that's not the case. Faster processors and increased memory will enable the LCD to oscillate between two images fast enough to give the illusion of depth. The incorporation of important landmarks embedded within the 3D image ought to go leaps and bounds towards finding your destination easier.

In the near term, it's likely that the functionality will first be available in aftermarket systems, with OEM models becoming available after the tech becomes a bit more mainstream. Actually, Clarion has been selling a 3D nav system in the UK for over a year and Sony and Panasonic have had the tech available in Japan, so it's more a matter of when, not if, the tech will be available in North America.

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J.D. Power study shows people interested in new car tech, but not if they have to pay for it

06/09/2009   [Original: J.D. Power via Autoblog]
Category: Car Buying, Trends, I.C.E., Tech

Smaller, cheaper electronics have been a boon for the auto industry, as car technology has boomed over the past few years. J.D. Power has been studying the tech trend, surveying over 19,000 potential car buyers to gauge interest in new tech like nav systems and infotainment systems. The powerful research company found that customers are now far more tech-savvy than they were in the past, and they're also very interested in adding new features to their next car purchase. That's great news for automakers, but unfortunately (and unsurprisingly), many aren't interested in paying for the new features.

J.D. Powers found that 67% of those surveyed were interested in a navigation system. But when the average price of $1,600 was revealed, the number dropped to only 20%. Luxury buyers were a bit more interested, though only 45% of those surveyed would still opt for the interactive LCD. Cheaper off-board navigation services like On-Star or Ford's SYNC direction service weren't very good alternatives, either. Only one-third of those who were interested in navigation would go the off-board route, even though the systems have proven to be very effective and easy-to-use. We're guessing that part of the allure of the LCD nav is that it makes the whole dash look more high-end.

Customers are also very interested in utilizing their MP3 players in the car. Nearly two-thirds wanted the ability to listen to their music players in the car, while 27% wanted "smart phone" music connectivity. Of those who already use their music devices in their car, over half use an auxiliary jack, and 20% use an FM transmitter. Hit the jump to pour over the J.D. Power press release.

Continue reading J.D. Power study shows people interested in new car tech, but not if they have to pay for it

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Daily U-Turn: What you missed on 5.27.09

05/28/2009   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Sports/GTs, I.C.E., Tech, Hyundai

Review: 2010 Toyota Prius a miser with new moves

While the efficiency of the Prius has never been in dispute, like many other cars from Brand T, its appeal as a driver's car has been... limited. For the third generation, Toyota hasn't given up on minimizing fuel consumption, but it has sought to make the Prius a bit more appealing on other levels.

Preview: Ken Block set to release Gymkhana Two video on June 1

Ken Block's first Gymkhana video was such a success that he decided a sequel was in order. The video will officially launch on DC Shoes' web site June 1, but we were lucky enough to get a sneak preview of what to expect with Gymkhana Two.

Ford passes on bringing current Focus RS to America

The Focus RS is the forbidden fruit for enthusiasts in the States, and it doesn't look like we'll be getting any closer to sampling its sweet nectar anytime soon.

Other news of import

  • Next Lotus Esprit could be powered by Lexus V10

  • GM lurches toward bankruptcy as bondholder offer fails

  • Honda Fit Hybrid coming in fall 2010

  • Electric R8 concept joining Audi R8 Spyder in Frankfurt
  • Chrysler submits $448m plan to build electric vehicles
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EXCLUSIVE: Sneak peek at Hyundai Genesis Coupe's next-gen nav system

05/28/2009   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Sports/GTs, I.C.E., Tech, Hyundai

Hyundai Genesis Coupe navigation system prototype - Click above for high-res image gallery

When Hyundai's sparkling Genesis Coupe debuted earlier this year, we heard from many of you who were excited about the rear-drive model's performance prospects. More than a few we spoke with, however, expressed disappointment that it did not arrive in showrooms with an optional in-dash navigation unit, particularly since Hyundai was plainly targeting premium competitors like the Infiniti G37. Well, we've just returned from the company's HATCHI facility (Hyundai-Kia American Technical Center, Inc.) in Ann Arbor, and we're happy to report that we've been given an in-depth look at a prototype of the company's next-generation system that will find its way into the Genesis Coupe beginning later this summer.

Fair Warning: The accompanying photographs are of a rough engineering prototype unit, but we thought our readers would appreciate the early look. As is typical of such mules, the instrument panel is more than a bit tired looking from having its "head unit swapped out more often than you change your underwear" (so says Dan Bedore, Hyundai's quick-witted P.R. manager).

Click on the jump to get the full skinny.

Gallery: Hyundai Genesis Coupe navi sneak peek

Photos Copyright (C)2009 Chris Paukert / Weblogs, Inc.

Continue reading EXCLUSIVE: Sneak peek at Hyundai Genesis Coupe's next-gen nav system

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Eyes on the Road: AT&T bringing CruiseCast in-car satellite tv to market

05/25/2009   [Original: Engadget via Autoblog]
Category: Aftermarket, Gadgets, Etc., I.C.E.

AT&T is starting to work with pockets of customers to test its CruiseCast satellite-based entertainment service before officially putting the TV/radio service on wide offer. When the whole clan is on the go, it may work to keep everyone calm and quiet, and when your Prevost motor coach is loaded up with everything else, you might as well go for the TV service, too. Truckers sticking DBS dishes on their rigs would likely be pleased with the CruiseCast system, especially since AT&T is using some new technology developments by RaySat that defeats the typical issues with line of sight obstacles and underpasses.

For comparison's sake, Sirius is cheaper and offers much more variety than AT&T's 20 music/talk radio stations, but their optional Backseat TV service only offers three television channels, and they are all geared for the kiddies. Conversely, AT&T's CruiseCast hardware must be professionally installed and will set you back $1,299, and the monthly payment is $28. Once the service is available for all customers in early June, they'll have 22 television channels to choose from. All that for the price of a used car and more than $300 bucks a year in subscription costs. Official press release posted after the jump.

Continue reading Eyes on the Road: AT&T bringing CruiseCast in-car satellite tv to market

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Daily U-Turn: What you missed on 5.18.09

05/19/2009   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Gadgets, CES, I.C.E., Ford

First Drive: 2010 Lexus IS250 C and IS350 C prove that going topless isn't always freeing

According to Lexus, the new IS 250C and IS350C convertibles represent the automaker's wild side. But does Lexus even have a wild side? We test its new duo of tin-tops to find out.

Obama to announce new CAFE standards tomorrow, require 34 mpg standard

Tomorrow, the Obama Administration will announce new CAFE regulations that raise the national fleet mileage to 42 mpg for cars and 26 mpg for light trucks by 2016.

Ferrari 250TR sells for record breaking $12.2M at RM Auction

At the Ferrari Leggende e Passione auction, the star of the event was a 1957 250 TR, one of only 22 "pontoon-fender" Testa Rossas ever built. It sold for $12 million, eclipsing the current record-holder, a 1961 250 GT California Spyder.

Other news of import

  • NISMO renting GT-R engine and transmission computers in Japan

  • Return of the 5.0: Ford Exec confirms 400 hp 'Coyote' V8 coming in 2010

  • Chrysler reportedly bouncing checks to owners of lemon law vehicles

  • Jeremy Clarkson calls Honda Insight "Biblically terrible"
  • Mercury Sable reaching the end of the line Thursday
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Future Ford SYNC upgrade could include Pandora streaming

05/19/2009   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Gadgets, CES, I.C.E., Ford

Click the image above to view a video of the new SYNC system after the jump

At the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Ford announced that three new features would be included on the next iteration of the SYNC system: traffic data, GPS-guided directions and the ability to snag information from the web through the user's data/GPS/Bluetooth-enabled smartphone to display or read weather conditions, sports scores and other information through the stereo.

On May 26th, the upgrade will be made available to all current 2010 Ford, Lincoln and Mercury owners (you download the update to your PC, then transfer it to the SYNC system through a thumb drive) and all new 2010 models will be equipped with the upgrade from the factory. But as Ford CEO Alan Mulally promised, there's more on the way.

Ford and Microsoft plan to continually update SYNC, and according to Charlotte Fisher from Ford's Design and Technology team, "every six to eight to twelve months we'll be delivering new services." One of the possible features Ford could include on future iterations of SYNC is streaming internet radio, and Fisher confirmed that Ford is currently "talking with Pandora." Can you say XM-killer? Hit the jump to watch a video of the new system in action.

Continue reading Future Ford SYNC upgrade could include Pandora streaming

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Those Monsters: Monster Cable sues Monster Transmission

04/12/2009   [Original: Engadget via Autoblog]
Category: Aftermarket, Etc., Government/Legal, I.C.E.

Monster Cable is nothing if not aggressive. The company rabidly peddles overpriced wiring products to purchasers incapable of analysis, and Monster Cable is just as obnoxious about suing everything in sight that uses "Monster" in its name. What kind of copyright infringement might Monster Mini Golf be foisting upon a company that charges way too much for wire that offers dubious, if any, performance advantage? While the issue with Monster Mini Golf has been settled, Monster Cable is now going after another totally unrelated business. While the company says it's over any issues with Monster Transmission of Florida, the shop says the story is not yet over. While Monster Cable seems bent on copyrighting the word "Monster," the businesses they're harassing are engaged in actual commerce, some even building class-leading products, you know, like the type Monster claims it makes (and charges for). We're off to stock up on lamp cord to hand out as part of an overpriced interconnect recovery package.

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Don't tell ME how to drive! - Next-gen Ford navigation system could have "emotions"

03/11/2009   [Original: swdelaw via Autoblog]
Category: Etc., I.C.E., Tech, Ford

In the near future, Ford vehicles may fire back a retort if you get cheesed off enough to yell at the car. According to the details of a patent filing, Ford is working on an Emotive Advisory System (EAS) that simulates emotions when interacting with occupants, and may also use an avatar to express itself.

The EAS also uses sensors to detect the emotional state of occupants and generate responses based on that data. We all tend to forge some kind of bond with our cars, but it's a little too fantastical and hilarious to imagine rocking down the blacktop in a new Taurus SHO and having the car say "You don't need to drive like a jerk just because you're mad at me."

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Ironic legislation: CARB ruling to kill aftermarket plug-in hybrids?

01/21/2009   [Original: East Bay Express via Autoblog]
Category: Hybrids/Alternative, Government/Legal, Green, I.C.E., Tech

The uncertain future of the alternative-powered and alternative-fueled vehicle is being decided by a confluence of old and new technology, big business and start-ups, marketing, vested interests, and public perception. It is no surprise, then, that when it comes to government regulation, we are bound to end up with some conflicting decisions. A company in California that converts regular hybrids to plug-in hybrids has found itself smack in the middle of one of those conflicts.

Last year, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) cut its mandated amount of electric vehicle sales in California by 70%. Some thought that might leave an exploitable opening for plug-in hybrids to gain serious market share. A number of start-ups have been established that install additional batteries into cars like the Toyota Prius, rendering them all electric below 34 mph, and allowing them to be recharged in 4 hours from a standard 3-prong outlet. The retrofit turns the 40+ mpg Prius into a 100+ mpg dromedary.

A new CARB proposal would require those start-ups to put their cars through smog tests that run about $25,000 per car, and to warranty their conversions for 10 years or 150,000 miles. The smog test issue has to do with a pollutant buildup issue in the catalytic converter and the gas vapor canister on cars that do a lot of cold starts and that might not use their internal combustion engines for more than three days. The warranty terms are the same as those mandated for any company that sells hybrids in California.

The start-ups say the pollutant issue has already been tested and solved by battery provider A123 systems, and it was approved in Massachusetts, a state that follows the same emissions standards as California. As for the warranty, the start-ups say they aren't altering the Prius, they are adding aftermarket batteries, so it doesn't make sense to force them to match the Prius' warranty. Besides that, the batteries they install are not expected to last ten years, so the warranty would be pointless anyway. The new regulations are expected to come into force next week anyway. Hat tip to reader Daniel

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