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Automotive

The new Mercedes-Benz CL-Class luxury coupe

June 27, 2006 The launch of the new CL-Class in autumn 2006 will see the latest iteration of the Mercedes-Benz coupe lineage which now stretches back 50 years. The luxury two-door traditionally combines exclusivity, design and cutting-edge technology and this latest version raises the bar in vehicle safety with the PRE-SAFE brakes - a system that automatically brakes the Coupe before an imminent rear-end collision. Furthermore, Mercedes innovations such as the Active Body Control (ABC) suspension system, the Intelligent Light System with five lighting functions and PRE-SAFE anticipatory occupant protection all come as standard. Buyers have the choice of 8 or 12 cylinder engines, both delivering a notable increase in output and torque.  Read More

The new Land Rover Freelander 2

June 25, 2006 Land Rover’s all-new Freelander 2 looks set to seriously shake up the compact premium 4x4 class following it’s world unveiling on Friday. New from the ground up, the Freelander 2 delivers outstanding on-road performance as well as the off-road ability of a true Land Rover. A dynamic design, purposeful stance, smart and spacious interior, and an abundance of advanced technologies complete the package. Land Rover is claiming a superior “total breadth of capability” for the new Freelander 2.  Read More

Mercedes-Benz Telephone Module with Bluetooth offers new telephoning freedom

June 23, 2006 Mercedes-Benz new telephone module with Bluetooth (SAP-Profile) software offers a new level of freedom for mobile phone users, as it enables a mobile telephone to remain in the user’s jacket pocket or handbag. Once registered, the Bluetooth (SAP-Profile)-compatible mobile telephone is recognized by the new system as soon as it comes within range of the vehicle. Due to the SAP-Profile software (SIM Access Profile), the module automatically accesses the SIM card. In addition, access is also possible to the internal memories of specific mobile phones. This means that the user is not only able to telephone, but can also search for a stored number or read an SMS. All these functions can be safely and user-friendly controlled by the driver via the multifunction steering wheel, the audio system and the central display in the instrument cluster.  Read More

The New BMW M6 Convertible

June 20, 2006 The world-famous performance division of BMW, M GmbH today unveiled the BMW M6 Convertible, continuing its tradition of producing ultra-performance luxury vehicles for the genuine motoring enthusiast. In terms of performance, it’s just the open air version of one of the world’s most capable performance vehicles. It shares all the same features as the M6 Coupe, including the back-to-back Engine Of The Year 5.0-litre V10, the variable M Differential Lock, the M Power button, Electronic Damper Control, new generation Dynamic Stability Control, Head-Up Display, a Sequential M Gearbox (SMG) complete with Drivelogic, a suspension developed for supreme dynamics and lap times on the longer Nordschleife loop of the fabled Nurburgring circuit are almost as fast as in the Coupe. The M6 Convertible immediately slots into the top bracket of the most desirable open sports cars available.  Read More

Mazda MX-5 gets electrically-retractable hard top

June 20, 2006 Mazda will use the 2006 British International Motor Show (July 18-30) to publicly debut a new version of its top-selling Mazda MX-5 Miata equipped with a powered retractable hard top roof. Now in its 17th year of production and third generation of design, the MX-5 is already the top selling sports car of all time and can be expected to get a significant lease of life with the newfound convenience of an electrical hardtop.  Read More

Grand Challenge winner talks autonomous robotic vehicles of the future

June 19, 2006 Those who had a passing interest in the DARPA Grand Challenge and the field of autonomous robotics will no doubt be interested to learn of AutoBlog’s recent article reporting on Dr. Sebastian Thrun's keynote presentation at the 2006 Sensors Expo. Thrun you may recall, was the project leader of Stanford University’s Volkswagen-based autonomous vehicle (aka Stanley) which won DARPA’s Grand Challenge for autonomous vehicles, hence ensuring himself a place in history. Apart from being director of Stanford's Artificial Intelligence Lab and Associate Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University, we believe that robotics will become so ubiquitous one day, Thrun's work will be regarded as landmark in the same way that the Wright Brothers first flight is revered. Thrun openly discussed Stanley’s technology and even gets into the future of autonomous navigation on the roads.  Read More

General Motors, DaimlerChrysler and BMW premiere two-mode hybrid technology

June 19, 2006 UPDATED with extensive image and diagram library Details of the hybrid drive system under co-development by General Motors, DaimlerChrysler and BMW have been released and the new system is quite a technological feat due to the full integration of electric motors with a fixed-gear transmission. As a result of its low- and high-speed electric continuously variable transmission (ECVT) modes, the system is commonly referred to as the 2-mode hybrid. The system also incorporates four fixed gear ratios for high efficiency and power-handling capabilities. During the two ECVT modes and four fixed gear operations, the hybrid system can use the electric motors for boosting and regenerative braking. Traditional “one-mode” hybrid systems typically have only one torque-splitting arrangement and no fixed mechanical ratios. Due to their less capable mechanical content, one-mode hybrids need to transmit a significant amount of power through an electrical path that is 20 percent less efficient than a mechanical path. Working collaboratively, the group has conceived a full hybrid system featuring four fixed mechanical ratios, within the two ECVT modes, to reduce power transmission through the less efficient electrical path. Consequently, the electric motors are more compact and less dependent on engine size.  Read More

Audi triumphs with TDI diesel at Le Mans 24 hour

June 18, 2006 AUDI AG has written an important chapter in the history of motor racing with its historic triumph in the Le Mans 24 Hour race. The new Audi R10 TDI was the first diesel car to win arguably the toughest car race in the world. In front of a record crowd of 235,000 spectators, Frank Biela (Germany), Emanuele Pirro (Italy) and Marco Werner (Germany) clinched the sixth and most important Le Mans win for Audi so far. Dindo Capello (Italy), Tom Kristensen (Denmark) and Allan McNish (Scotland) also achieved a podium in finishing third overall.  Read More

General Motors debuts panoramic windscreen

June 18, 2006 General Motors’ Astra range is available across the world under different brand names which are comfortably familiar to the locals such as Ion (planned for U.S.), Opel (Europe), Vauxhall (UK) and Holden (Australia), yet benefit from the best of GM's worldwide design capability such as the TwinTop. One innovation certain to have all countries holding their breath will be the new UK-only-at-this-stage Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch which is now available with a Panoramic windscreen. After an initial run on GTC models, the Panoramic roof will be available as an UKP850 (1250 Euro) option across the Astra Sport Hatch range. The windscreen is made of heat-absorbing glass and extends backwards past the driver’s head, to offer what GM claims is “an unusual yet stimulating driving experience, and a feeling of freedom from behind the wheel.” An electric blind can be slid forward should you crave some more shade. Extensive image section.  Read More

Audi's new magnetic semi-active suspension system

June 18, 2006 The Audi TT is a cult car, an icon –from the day it made its debut, in autumn 1998, it took the sports coupe segment by storm, sharpening the brand's profile in the process. We reported on the coming of the second generation of this successful model in April but overlooked one of the most interesting facets of the new machine which uses a completely new form of damping technology developed in conjunction with Delphi that resolves the age-old conflict between comfort and driving dynamics without countenancing any of the otherwise unavoidable compromises. As a continuously adaptive system, it adapts the damping characteristic to the profile of the road and the driver's gear-shifting habits within just a few milliseconds. The shock absorber pistons on the TT do not contain conventional oil, but a magneto-rheological fluid – a synthetic hydrocarbon oil in which microscopically small magnetic particles measuring between three and ten microns are enclosed. When a voltage is applied to a coil – by means of a pulse delivered by a control unit – a magnetic field is created in which the alignment of the particles changes. They position themselves transversely to the direction of flow of the oil, and so inhibit its flow through the piston channels. This alters the characteristic of the damping characteristic much faster than is the case in conventional adaptive dampers.  Read More

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