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Automotive

The 100 most reliable cars of the last decade (in order)

In these pages we focus on design, breakthroughs, enabling technologies and concepts and it’s rare that we look at product that has been in the marketplace for some time, much less second-hand product. But when we saw what a UK automotive warranty company was up to, we know you'll agree that it’s worth a mention. As a privately owned insurance intermediary, the firm collects lots of data about warranty issues – something you’ll never find out from the only other people who have access to the information (the manufacturers). In a very clever move, it has taken this secondary data and produced a reliability index – an independent comparison of frequency of failure across the 55,000 vehicles it insures. Read on for a list of the 100 most reliable used cars over the past decade. And before you take a peek, have a guess at where the best Japanese, German, Swedish, British, Korean and French-built cars will rank. You won’t even come close!  Read More

How to force local councils to remove speed humps

May 17, 2006 If you’re one of those people who object to speed humps and believe there are more effective and less neanderthal ways to slow traffic, take heart from the victory this week of a campaign organized by local residents in the town of Yate in South Gloucestershire (UK) which will see speed humps removed from its roads. The campaign website distributed downloadable bumper stickers (pictured) and in conjunction with intensive campaigning by residents and assistance from the Association of British Drivers, the council has been forced to execute a 'U' turn and order the removal of the humps as a matter of priority. The council will instead install a pedestrian crossing and vehicle-activated speed limit warning signs.  Read More

The naked Audi A8 from mtm

May 17, 2006 If you’ve got it, why not flaunt it? The Audi A8 is one of the most beautiful motors on the planet for many reasons, amongst them its aluminium body, so German automotive technicians mtm decided to highlight this by removing the paint, polishing the entire body and then using clear varnish to minimise oxidation and other environmental impact. All the external plastic bits were treated with a special chroming process to match the aluminium colour. All manner of additional upgrades are available with the polishing, from speed dependent height adjustment for the air-spring suspension to a turbocharger tucked in between the cylinder banks of the 4.2 litre V8. Yes we think it’s magnificent BUT … given the chances of the duco being scratched in a car park if left unattended, and the cost of replicating the process to bring the car back to brand spanking, the car warrants a full-time bodyguard.  Read More

A completely new vehicle category

May 17, 2006 Each year at the North American International Auto Show (aka NAIAS or the Detroit Motor Show), the Michelin Challenge Design offers a global platform for students and designers to share their visions of design for automotive industries in the 21st Century. This year, 22 vehicles made it to the show in full-sized form and each of them represented original thought in the automotive design process and a trip to the design web site will provide hours of fascination for any mechanical engineering enthusiast. Two designs that really interested us this year were from young German designers Tilmann Schlootz and Oliver Keller who collaborated to produce the Baal and Hyanide designs pictured here and inside. They represent an entirely new vehicle concept using a bendable rubber track that offers much more traction than its closest relative, the motorcycle, as well as freely changeable directions.  Read More

Mercedes-Benz Safety Truck with Active Protection

May 15, 2006 As ironic as it seems, Mercedes Benz trucks are actually more advanced in their active safety systems than the company’s most advanced passenger vehicles, and the advent of its latest Active Brake Assist (emergency brake assistant) technology will see that brought firmly into focus in coming weeks as the company steps up its road safety initiatives at a political level in Europe. Though it will be marketing all of its electronic driver support and safety system concepts in one “Mercedes-Benz Safety Truck” package, the bright yellow safety poster child is actually available as of this week as a fully-optioned Actros. The newly added Active Brake Assist is based on the existing radar system used by the Telligent proximity control system and initiates emergency braking when there is an acute risk of a collision with a car in front. It uses the three radar beams of the proximity control system, which detect obstacles moving in the lane ahead of the truck at a distance of up to150 metres, while constantly determining the difference in speeds between the two vehicles. If an accident is unavoidable in the prevailing circumstances, the driver is first given a visual and acoustic warning, followed by partial braking (30 percent braking performance), and if the risk of a collision increases even further, the system then initiates full emergency braking. Since rear-end collisions represent a sizable proportion of the accidents that occur in heavy-duty transport on European roads, the accident researchers expect the widespread use of Active Brake Assist to lead to a noticeable reduction in the number of accidents involving fatalities and serious injuries.  Read More

Six seat luxury mobile office concept for the corporate commando team

May 14, 2006 There are many companies in the world that create luxury goods for high earners, and there are just as many who create specialist tools for the finest exponents of their trade. Becker Automotive does both, pushing the very edge of luxury vehicle design. Using SUVs and vans as the base of their designs, Becker can create mobile environments for almost any purpose, from luxury offices through stretched (height and length) mobile entertainment areas, though the exterior of the van remains remarkably incognito, giving no hint of the technology, opulence and status of the occupants. What sets Becker apart, is the level of luxury craftsmanship, which is equivalent to that you’d find in a private luxury jet or yacht, and the range of options, which covers … almost anything. Though Becker Automotive is located in California, their vehicles are regularly shipped across the world. Our favourite is Becker’s six-seat mobile office concept for the corporate commando team (pictured) with full electric seating, high-speed wireless internet and … ballistic armouring should it be required.  Read More

Citroen C-Buggy off-road concept car

May 13, 2006 Citroen will use the Madrid International Motor Show later this month to unveil an adventurously styled C-Buggy off-road concept car. A derivative of the C-Airplay concept, the C-Buggy is Citroen’s futuristic interpretation of a two-seater, go-anywhere car. Clearly designed for warmer climes, due to the absence of a roof, windscreen and windows, the C-Buggy exudes a carefree charm whilst wide wheel arches, big wheels, glass door portholes and sump guard hint at its off-road credentials.  Read More

Production ends on Porsche Carrera GT: the most successful supercar in history

May 12, 2006 The manufacture of the Carrera GT at Porsche's facility in Leipzig, Germany, concluded earlier this week, bringing to a close what Porsche labels “the most successful supercar in history.” Porsche’s claim is based on sales of the beastie - more than 1,270 Carrera GTs have been sold since its introduction in late 2003 with around half that finding homes in North America. This figure represents a greater number than the total production of the McLaren F1, Ferrari Enzo, and Pagani Zonda models combined. Regardless, even in an economic climate that did not favor products in this segment of the market, the V-10 supercar sold in unprecedented numbers. Our favourite quote on the Carrera GT was that of MotorWeek TV show host John Davis who said, "the Carrera GT is the best motivation to get rich that we've ever driven."  Read More

BMW Mille Miglia Concept Coupe

May 12, 2006 The world’s most expensive travelling museum gets its annual showing this weekend when the fabled Mille Miglia is run over the original course from Brescia to Rome and back. The most famous motor race in the world in the immediate pre- and post-WW2 period, the Mille Miglia was held on public roads over 1000 miles with Sterling Moss setting a record for the journey in a Mercedes 300 SLR averaging 157.65kph in 1955. Banned in the late fifties, it is now run as a reliability trial where some of the most memorable automobiles in motoring history participate. Each year more than 20 cars are liberated from motoring museums to drive in the event, and the total value of the 375 entries would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. This year, the magic of the event was heightened when BMW unveiled a concept vehicle to commemorate the BMW 328 Touring Coupe which won the event in 1940. The chances it will ever be built are very low – which is an enormous shame because under that gorgeous skin are the mechanicals of the 252 kW BMW Z4 M Coupe. Perhaps there’s a market for retro sports cars built with modern methodology?  Read More

BMW dominates the International Engine of the Year Awards

May 11, 2006 BMW has dominated the 2006 International Engine of the Year Awards held at the annual Engine Expo in Stuttgart, winning the Best Performance Engine and International Engine of the Year for the second year running with its 5-litre V10. The Bavarian car maker also won awards for its Z4 M 3.2-litre (3-litre to 4-litre ) and twin-turbodiesel 3-litre (2.5-litre to 3-litre )in this year’s competition, and hence took ALL awards for engines greater than 2.5 litres, giving it a total of five trophies. The V10 unit saw tough competition from the likes of Volkswagen’s new 1.4-litre TSI Twincharger (which won Best New Engine) and the previous IEOY title holder, Toyota’s 1.5-litre Hybrid Synergy Drive Prius, which in 2006 also won the 1.8-litre and the Fuel Economy categories. Subaru picked up its first ever gong in the 2-litre to 2.5-litre category for its 2.5-litre Turbo engine used in the Impreza and Forester models and Saab’s 9-2X.  Read More

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