technology –

Last week, Chrysler opened the floodgates of information, and revealed an array of upgraded models and began teasing new and improved ones. We saw the 2011 Chrysler Town and Country, the 2011 Jeep Patriot, and caught brief glimpses of the new Chrysler 200.

Among the pieces of data that slipped through was a statement from Chrysler and Fiat overlord Sergio Marchionne, who revealed that alongside the new eight-speed automatic gearbox set to debut on next generation rear-wheel drive models, the Pentastar will launch an even bigger transmission.

According to the Italian boss, Chrysler will begin offering, in 2012, a nine-speed automatic gearbox for its front-wheel drive models. The new transmission will offer improved efficiency, according to the Italian CEO.

Marchionne also revealed that both those gearboxes were designed to be used on all-wheel drive models too, as well as on future hybrid vehicles. Expect both cog-swappers to arrive around 2012 on all new Chrysler cars.

Do you think these new transmissions will attract people or will the thought of nine gears confuse customers? Share your thoughts below.


Post tags: Tags: Chrysler, Fiat, front-wheel-drive, gearbox, sergio marchionne, technology, transmission

Last week we revealed a report containing all of the new features that might be implemented in the new and improved OnStar system on vehicles from General Motors.

Now, GM has officially revealed what new things will be implemented in its next gen infotainment system.

First off, the voice recognition system has been improved, in order to allow drivers and passengers to better control the systems of the car. Secondly, the Bluetooth connection will support full phonebook integration, while the navigation system has been improved. You will also be able to connect to traffic management and weather alert services in order to stay informed on trips.

OnStar will also launch a new MyLink series of mobile apps for smartphones, including ones for iPhones and those running Android OS. These will basically act like your virtual key, allowing you to lock and unlock the car, start the engine and other such things.

Here’s the more interesting part, the rumored Facebook and voice texting support. These features are still in the testing, but OnStar will allow you to post audio Facebook updates, as well as read aloud updates from your friend feed.

The voice texting part has also been confirmed, but not in the way that you were expecting. When you will receive a text message, OnStar will read it for you, and allow you to select pre-recorded messages, like “I’m driving”. This will be achieved using only your voice. Those that wanted speech-to-text capability are going to be disappointed, as GM might not implement such a thing, in order to keep from distracting the driver.

Overall, the OnStar system is becoming extremely robust, and might constitute a big advantage for GM cars in front of its rivals. What do you think?


Post tags: Tags: details, facebook, features, General Motors, gm, infotainment, onstar, technology, texting

Ford is definitely amping up its safety technologies, and after revealing the innovative seat belt passenger air bags at the beginning of the year, it has now presented a new airbag technology.

Set to premiere on the 2012 Ford Focus, the new airbags have an array of features. The driver airbag will use a tether to pull in the lower part of it, in order to protect the driver’s rib cage and chest in case of a front impact.

The side airbags have also been improved, with the addition of air vents. While that may sound weird, the air vents are there to soften the blow in case of an impact. Taller inhabitants will naturally block those vents with their shoulders, increasing the effectiveness of the airbags on their own.

Last but not least, the front passenger airbag will have adaptive venting technology. Basically, the car monitors the weight of the person riding in front, and adjusts the amount of air that is required to be pumped into the airbag in case of a crash. This will prevent the airbag from actually hurting the passenger if it’s blown with too much power.

Overall, this new technology sounds mighty impressive. Hit the jump to see a video with it in action.

Post tags: Tags: 2012 ford focus, airbag, Ford, ford-focus, safety, technology, Video

Electric vehicles are soon going to become part of everyday life, as full pledge ones like the Nissan Leaf or extended-range ones like the Chevrolet Volt will be available for the large public.

This doesn’t mean that the infrastructure is up to par with the charging requirements these new models have. As such, the Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has come up with a new idea: mobile charging stations.

Basically, electric cars will connect to a general mainframe and inform it about the location where it is usually running out of power. These mobile charging stations will then be deployed in that area, in order to supply EVs with power. At night, the charging stations will fill up their own batteries, so as to not stress the power grid.

If these charging stations will become reliable enough, this might downright eliminate range anxiety for plenty of future EV owners.


Post tags: Tags: charging, Electric Vehicles, technology

Subaru is well known for quite a lot of things, going from the symmetrical all-wheel drive to the rally-ready Impreza WRX STI. But true petrol heads recognize the Subaru brand through its signature Boxer engine, currently available in two versions, a 2.0- and a 2.5-liter.

The old engine has been around for quite some time, so it seems that Subaru is finally preparing to upgrade the technology in order to make it more efficient and capable of meeting strict new emissions standards all around the world.

A new report suggests that the next generation Boxer engine might arrive as early as the end of the year, on the Forrester crossover. It would then expand to models like the Outback, Legacy or Impreza, as well as other models which are sold around the world.

The engine is expected to keep its 2.0 and 2.5-liter versions, and it might be offered with a choice of transmissions, including a CVT one.


Post tags: Tags: boxer, emissions, engine, next generation, Subaru, technology

Brabus not only knows how to tune Mercedes-Benz models like the SLS AMG supercar, but it also takes pride in incorporating the latest technology into their tuning projects.

The latest one is the Brabus iBusiness, based on a Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG. While you’ll no doubt be amazed by the twin-turbocharged 6.3-liter V12 engine, capable of 750 and 811 lb-ft of torque, which can push the limousine from 0 to 62 mph in 4 seconds and up to 211 mph, the real luxury treatment is on the inside.

Brabus has fitted everything it could find in their local Apple store inside the tuned S Class. You’ll be able to enjoy not one but two iPads, a 64GB iPod Touch, two LCD screens incorporated into the front seats and also a 15.2-inch display in the headliner, connected to a Mac Mini located in the boot of the car.

What’s even more interesting is that you can control the Mercedes-Benz Command infotainment system with either of the two iPads, including functions like the radio, telephone or navigation.

The price? That hasn’t been revealed, but people like Apple CEO Steve Jobs might be able to afford one.


Post tags: Tags: apple, brabus, brabus ibusiness, mercedes, mercedes benz s class, Mercedes-Benz, technology, Tuning

We have a different type of recall now, as GPS device manufacturer Garmin has just announced that it will be calling back specific models due to a faulty battery which can overheat.

The models in question include the Nuvi 200W, 250W, 260W and a few from the 700 series. They were all equipped with a faulty battery which, in the right conditions, may overheat and even lead to a fire.

This also affects several in-car GPS systems that were made by Garmin for companies like Suzuki. The Japanese brand revealed that it is consulting with Garmin and will announce what cars will be recalled in order to fix their GPS systems.

If you want to find out if your device is affected by this recall, check out Garmin’s official website.


Post tags: Tags: fire, garmin, garmin nuvi, gps, Recalls, Suzuki, technology

There’s a pretty big debate over how quiet cars, especially hybrid or electric ones, should be as to keep noise pollution down, but also continue to warn pedestrians of their presence.

That’s why, in Japan at least, silent car manufacturer are trying out new things to warn pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users of the vehicle’s presence.

Toyota is the latest to do such a thing, with its new Approaching Vehicle Audible System for the Prius hybrid. Simply put, a speaker resides in the front of the car, and when the car is moving, it emits a (futuristic) sound to let pedestrians know of the car’s presence.

Check out the technology in action in a video after the jump. Expect the system to expand on other Toyota hybrids in the future.

Post tags: Tags: Hybrid, japan, pedestrian, technology, Toyota, toyota prius, Video, warning

More and more electric vehicles are being announced every day, and as such, companies and executives need to do everything they can in order to make their own products be, or at least sound like the best.

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk is no exception, as he recently decided to target the newest mainstream model in the electric vehicle segment, the Nissan Leaf.

According to Musk, the Leaf, even though it’s becoming increasingly popular with pre-orders going through the roof, doesn’t stand a chance against Tesla.

How so? The executive goes on to say that the lithium-ion battery pack of the Leaf doesn’t have the necessary cooling technology to make it withstand everyday use. As such, the ‘primitive’ pack will see its performance decline in a short amount of time, especially when subjected to extremely temperatures.

Unlike the air-cooled batteries of the Leaf, the Tesla Roadster uses a more complicated cooling system, which costs much more.

Still, you shouldn’t forget that Nissan has announced an 8-year/100,000 mile warranty for the battery pack, so even if Musk’s statements come true, the Japanese company will cover repairs and even replace the whole assembly.


Post tags: Tags: battery, Electric Vehicles, elon musk, Nissan, nissan leaf, technology, Tesla, tesla motors

As we’re sure most of you know by now, the 2011 Ford Explorer SUV has been officially revealed by the Blue Oval at the beginning of the week.

The onslaught of information continued yesterday with the unveil of the online car configurator for the next generation SUV, and now we’re treated with a healthy batch of videos. These showcase all of the new technologies and systems that are available in the 2011 Ford Explorer.

From the Terrain Management System we saw before, to the Blind Spot Information System or the Trailer Control system, all of them are thoroughly explained. Also, don’t forget that we already saw the impressive Curve Control system in action a while back.

Hit the jump to watch these three videos.

Post tags: Tags: 2011 ford explorer, Ford, ford explorer, next generation, suv, technology, Video

Gearboxes come in all shapes and sizes these days, some boasting as little as four gears, other boasting the maximum (at the moment) of eight. Heck, the CVT transmissions don’t even have conventional gears.

Now, according to Mercedes-Benz engineers, the maximum number of ratios will be bumped once more, as the German company is working a nine-speed automatic transmission.

According to Autocar’s sources, this nine-cog ‘box will be put to use on the company’s ‘large capacity’ engines. Sadly, no other details were offered.

According to many voices, we might see such a transmission featured on the next generation S Class, as well as on the baby SLS AMG, which might get the SSK badge.

Still, it seems that those same sources agree that nine is probably the biggest numbers of gears a transmission could support, from a mechanical standpoint, and the maximum a regular customer could support.

What do you think? Will automakers stop at just nine-speeds? Share your thoughts below.


Post tags: Tags: gearbox, mercedes, Mercedes-Benz, technology, transmission

In the arms race to build greener and more efficient cars, many trains of thought have appeared. As such, automakers are now researching clean diesel, hybrid, electric or even fuel cell vehicles, all in order to cut down emissions and improve fuel average.

Honda has been fencing its bets lately, focusing on all of the aforementioned technologies. We’ve seen impressive diesel engines, hybrids like the Insight or the Civic, as well as the FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

Now, according to a report from Japan’s Nikkei, things are going to change. The newspaper says that Honda will abandon its clean diesel efforts, in order to focus on just its hybrid technologies.

More specifically, the Integrated Motor Assist, which is currently available on hybrids like the Insight or the Civic, will see new features added, in order to better rival Toyota’s hybrid synergy drive tech.


Post tags: Tags: clean diesel, diesel, Green, Honda, honda insight, honda-civic, Hybrid, technology

BMW knows most of its customers are pretty tech savvy, and that’s why it has just revealed a brand new feature for its comprehensive iDrive infotainment system: iPod connectivity.

Actually, this is a bit more than just plugging your iPod/iPhone in and listening to the music, as BMW enables you to use the iDrive’s main joystick to browse through your iPod’s media library, with contents being displayed on the screen of the car.

All of the new features currently being worked on by BMW are part of the company’s new Connected Drive strategy, which aims at making the interaction between driver, car and the driver’s third-party devices, to be as smooth as possible. Expect the iPod functionality to arrive in all new BMW models at the beginning of 2011.

To see what the new BMW iDrive features is all about, hit the jump for a video demonstration.

Post tags: Tags: BMW, bmw idrive, infotainment, iphone, ipod, technology, Video

Driving a car requires the actual driver to be focused on the road and what’s happening around the car at all times. Sadly, with the advent of technology, more and more distractions are becoming responsible for car crashes or other such incidents.

That’s why Ford, with the 2011 iteration of its SYNC infotainment system (specifically the MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch versions), will implement a novel new button called ‘Do Not Disturb’.

If pressed, the SYNC system will temporarily block capabilities “not relevant to the task of driving while the vehicle is in motion.”

More specifically, if you have your mobile phone connected via Bluetooth to the SYNC system, it will divert all incoming phone calls to voicemail, while text messages will be stored on the device for later viewing. This won’t affect voice-activated phone calls, or calling the emergency 911 service, but it will help the driver focus on the actual task of driving.

Besides the restrictions made to the phone, the second generation SYNC system will display fewer navigation destinations, and won’t let drivers access the keypad while the car is in motion.

Frankly, with more and more accidents attributed to distracted driving, we think Ford’s initiative should be applauded. What about you? Share your thoughts below.


Post tags: Tags: Ford, infotainment, myford touch, mylincoln touch, sync, technology, texting

Yesterday, a rather huge bomb was dropped by a report from British newspaper The Telegraph, which claimed that the Chevrolet Volt, at least in its European version, the Opel Ampera, will directly use the 1.4-liter gasoline engine in order to attain highway speeds.

As you know, the Volt uses an electric motor as means of propulsion, with the gasoline engine used just for charging up the batteries which power the aforementioned motor. This makes the Volt become an extended range electric vehicle, not a hybrid.

The Telegraph’s report said that in order to attain speeds worthy of a highway or autobahn, the powertrain of the Volt/Ampera would be re-engineered, in order to directly connect the engine to the wheels.

As you can imagine, this sparked a lot of debate on the Internet.

Luckily, GM quickly settled all these rumors. Talking to The Car Connection, GM electric vehicles, batteries, and hybrids communications executive, Rob Peterson, revealed that such a dramatic re-engineering of the Volt/Ampera won’t happen.

He said that the Voltec powertrain is more than capable of taking the car to adequate speeds, great for traveling around the city but also on highways. He revealed that the report from The Telegraph was wrong, and based on an older prototype Volt, which wasn’t using up-to-date software to calibrate its speed.

As such, you can forget about the Chevrolet Volt (or Opel Ampera or whatever name the extended range electric vehicle will get depending on the market) using its internal combustion engine for anything else except charging the batteries of the car.


Post tags: Tags: Chevrolet, chevrolet-volt, Electric Vehicles, europe, extended range electric vehicles, General Motors, gm, Opel, opel ampera, technology