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Automotive

Siemens VDO control centre for vehicle fleets

October 9, 2006 The vice-like grip of increasingly competitive pressure is forcing every aspect of business to become as efficient as possible and one area where there is plenty of fat to be pared away with new technologies is in the operation of automotive and trucking fleets. To help fleet operators increase efficiency, Siemens VDO recently unveiled its new Vehicle Control Center (VCC) at the IAA Commercial Vehicles 2006 show in Hanover, Germany. This forward-looking hardware and software platform bundles numerous functions inside the truck and networks them externally, opening up many possibilities. With new services such as truck-specific navigation, innovative remote vehicle diagnostics and intelligent fleet management solutions, fleets can optimize operation of their vehicles. On the other side, commercial vehicle manufacturers can meet their customers’ needs easier and therefore gain a competitive advantage. In addition, they can integrate new functions into future generations of vehicles more quickly, more simply and more economically. Siemens VDO’s VCC will be ready for series production by the end of the decade.  Read More

Volkswagen Atacama 4WD van concept

October 7, 2006 Ooooh, we really like this one - VW has revealed a striking off-road vehicle based on the recently-launched Crafter van. Named Atacama, after the desert in South America, the four-wheel drive concept is the product of the Volkswagen Design Centre in Wolfsburg, Germany, and shows further potential for the Crafter in the leisure and fun segment. ’could become a limited production vehicle. VW Sales Manager, Harald Schomburg, is very enthusiastic and is seeking customer feedback. "If it is positive", says Schomberg, "we will build a series of up to 100 vehicles." So there you have it folks - email your local distributor if you think this is a good idea.  Read More

Four channel, multi-camera, automotive Digital Video Recorders

October 4, 2006 As digital imaging becomes cheaper to implement, one wonders to just what extent we’ll see security video systems deployed around our homes and that other piece of costly travelling real estate, the automobile. When we saw this new 4-channel DVD quality mobile digital video recording system we weren’t thinking about its intended market of police cars, public transportation, and school buses, but where we might get to a decade from now when video systems might well become an integral part of every automobile. Apart from being readily available to assist with parking and reversing (analog rear vision mirrors don’t zoom), they could also verify insurance claims, sense nearby cars and people and alert the driver, and bear faultless testimony to any accidents. Who knows, as digital storage becomes a legitimate part of the automobile's entertainment armoury, we may eventually find multiple camera systems keeping records of every business-related trip.  Read More

Caparo completes build of first T1 prototype

October 3, 2006 We’ve been writing about the Caparo T1 since it was first announced in April of this year as a 500bhp, 500 kilogram road car with the cornering ability of a Le Mans prototype and one of the fastest 0-60mph times of any roadgoing car in the world (2.5 seconds). We wrote about its debut at the prestigeous Monaco Top Marques Show, it’s appearance at Goodwood Festival of Speed and we’re now pleased to bring the first piccies of the lightweight tandem two-seater’s first running prototype and the news that the order book for the first year's supply, which begins in March 2007, is already half gone. The car’s creators – design director Ben Scott-Geddes and engineering director Graham Halstead – climbed into the high performance two-seater last week to start the engine and complete the first trial run.  Read More

The Peugeot 908 V12 HDi DPFS

October 3, 2006 Over the years, we’ve often had emails from technology fans asking what motorsport has to do with our primarily advanced technology menu and our response is always that new technology is not just about doing it different but doing it better. Motorsport is different – motorsport requires doing it best. That means that you won’t even be competitive unless you have world’s best practice or thereabouts in every single aspect of a race team, let alone the design of the car and the quality of driver. So when one of the world’s top manufacturers sets out with a goal of starting from scratch and winning a world class event, we figure that’s a smorgasbord of fascinating technologies and organization worth exploring. In June 2005, Peugeot announced its decision to accept a new technological challenge: to win one of the world’s most prestigious and demanding motor races, the Le Mans 24 Hours, with a car powered by an HDi diesel engine equipped with a diesel particulate filter system (DPFS). This week, the company unveiled the race car and a lot of the details.  Read More

The world’s first commercially-available electric-solar hybrid, and a sporty one at that

October 2, 2006 It’s not often we get lead stories on consecutive days from the same company (never before in fact) but French transportation futurists Venturi have done it again – this time with the first solar electric hybrid to be commercialised in the world. Named Astrolab (latin astro = star, labe = to take) because it takes its energy from the sun in order to move, the solar commuter is capable of working with very little energy (16 kW engine) and of recharging even when in motion, and does not need to be permanently exposed to the sun in order to move. The car’s performance is remarkably close to that of a petrol-engined vehicle as it has a top speed of 120 kmh and a minimum range of 110 km. To attain this level of performance while using very little energy, the Astrolab has been designed like a Formula 1 car with an ultra-light carbon monocoque chassis serving as an oversized protection cell in the event of a collision and at the same time offering a large surface for the 3.6 square metres of photovoltaic cells. Its profile recalls the aqua-dynamic design of great racing yachts and Venturi draws the parallel between Astrolab and a sailboat : both advance silently while making best use of the elements and both offer sensations unlike any other. Its designer Sacha Lakic describes Astrolab as “a flying wing set on four wheels.”Astoundingly, it’s not just a show car - EUR92,000 will buy you one and the first vehicles are scheduled for delivery in January, 2008. Do be sure to see yesterday’s equally remarkable story about the world’s first energy-autonomous vehicle. Venturi, we salute you!  Read More

Renault’s Twingo communicating city car concept

October 2, 2006 After previewing its spectacular Nepta Concept with motor-driven gull wing doors in the weeks leading up to the Paris Show, we figured Renault had played all its cards, but we were very wrong. At the opening of the show, Renault trotted out the youth-culture-inspired Twingo Concept, the most wired and desirable city car we’ve yet seen. The centre console features a USB port as well as sockets for devices like an Apple iPod and the Nokia Smartphone. A mixing deck built into the dashboard is ideal for partying with friends. The tiny city car is no slouch – powered by a turbocharged 1.2-litre engine delivering 73kW (100hp), the Twingo combines efficiency, response, power and environmental friendliness.  Read More

Honda shows next-generation diesel engine

October 2, 2006 Honda has developed a next-generation diesel engine that reduces exhaust gas emissions to a level equal to a petrol engine and expects to have the engine available in its U.S. market cars within three years. The engine employs an NOx catalytic converter that enables a reduction in NOx emissions sufficient to meet stringent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Tier II Bin 5 emission requirements. This catalytic converter uses the reductive reaction of ammonia generated within the catalytic converter to “detoxify” nitrogen oxide (NOx) by turning it into harmless nitrogen (N2).  Read More

The first energy-autonomous vehicle

October 2, 2006 There is no doubt that if you rated all the automotive companies in the world on their forward thinking and commitment to commercialising new concepts in sustainable mobility, Monaco-based Venturi would win by a country mile. The company which produced the world’s first available electric sportscar (see articles here here and here), recently announced it would partner with Intel to make energy sharing possible via the Venturi Fetish platform and now it has debuted the first energy-autonomous vehicle and despite its non-traditional appearance, production has already begun. The urban 3-seater electro-solar vehicle named the Eclectic goes well beyond anything previously offered by car manufacturers, being the first vehicle powered entirely by renewable energies, the first solar production vehicle and the first car that can be directly recharged with a personal wind turbine. A limited run of 200 vehicles will be available in June 2007 at a price of EUR24,000. The company is shooting for an even higher level of production from 2009 at an estimated base price of EUR15,000. Innovative and astonishing, Eclectic is much more than a simple vehicle ; it is a production and storage plant for renewable energies, either solar or wind based. Charging of these energies, which is intermittent in certain regions, can also be complemented by electrical recharging.  Read More

Ford iosis X concept

Updated October 2, 2006 Ford of Europe's Design team has interpreted the Company's distinctive new 'kinetic design' form language in an exciting new crossover concept - the iosis X – which makes its debut at the 2006 Paris Motor Show. One of the specific purposes of iosis X is to prepare the public for the introduction of a future Ford of Europe niche model. Ford Europe’s CEO John Fleming, President and CEO, Ford of Europe. "The iosis X is intended to send a very strong message that we will be entering this market in around eighteen months from now, and that our new model will be both stylish and individual."  Read More

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