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Posts Tagged ‘smart car’

Honda Takes a Tip from Superman

Patent application reveals system that could spot pedestrians around corners.

by on Sep.14, 2016

The Honda patent would allow a motorist to see beyond the normal line of sight.

You wouldn’t have to be Superman to have extra-human vision, at least not if Honda has its way.

The third-largest Japanese automaker has revealed a system it is developing that would allow a driver to see things – notably pedestrians – who might by hidden behind a truck or building but walking towards an intersection.

The concept uses a variety of sensors to look beyond a driver’s normal line of sight and then display a warning on the windshield using a Head-Up Display, or HUD. Considering pedestrians fatalities have been rising sharply in recent years, the technology could have a major impact on safety.

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A new patent application filed by Honda illustrates the way the concept works. It is designed to watch out for pedestrians as the vehicle approaches an intersection. Sensors – including some of the same ones that might eventually be used to allow a vehicle to drive autonomously – can look beyond the normal line of sight.


Smart Reveals New ForTwo Cabrio

America’s smallest car goes topless.

by on Aug.28, 2015

The newly redesigned Smart ForTwo Cabrio will offer a three-position canvas top.

The new Smart car hasn’t yet landed in showrooms in the U.S. but the German microcar maker is already rolling out a second version, with a third on the way.

The redesigned Smart ForTwo Cabrio gets a new canvas “tritop” that can open up like a sunroof or fold back more like a conventional convertible. Set to formally debut at next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show, the two-seater will reach showrooms in mid-spring 2016.

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“Our new smart cabrio really exudes joie de vivre in the city – which is what our brand stands for”, said Smart brand boss Annette Winkler. “I am sure that we will delight our present 220,000 cabrio customers and win lots of new fans with this successful lifestyle icon.”


Little Smart Has Big Ambitions for New ForTwo

But is there a market for microcars in truck-happy U.S.?

by on Aug.25, 2015

Two extremes of the Daimler AG family, the 2016 Smart ForTwo with a row of Western Star trucks.

Size matters. That’s long been a guiding principle in the U.S. auto industry, and with fuel prices down sharply this year, it seems truer than ever as American motorists once again shift from fuel-efficient small cars to larger SUVs, CUVs and pickups.

And that raises a serious question about this year’s launch of what will be the smallest car on the U.S. market, the 2016 Smart ForTwo. After a seemingly endless delay, parent Daimler AG has launched an all-new version of the microcar just as potential competitors, such as the Mini Cooper and Fiat 500 struggle to reverse double-digit sales declines.

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Nonetheless, “We hope there is much more potential” for a brand that has so far failed to live up to its initial promise, says Annette Winkler, the head of the Smart brand during a first U.S. media drive of the new ForTwo model.


Apple CarPlay to Get Expanded Features with Upcoming Update

System will allow motorists to track vehicle, check mileage and other functions.

by on Jun.08, 2015

At least 40 upcoming models are expected to integrate the new Apple CarPlay technology.

The big news out of Apple’s annual developer’s conference is the impending release of the next-generation operating system for devices like the iPhone and iPad. But along with the launch of iOS 9, Apple also plans to upgrade its new CarPlay system.

That’s a major step considering the first cars equipped with CarPlay – including 14 models from Chevrolet – won’t even hit the road until summer. But the revised system will soon be able to do more than play Spotify through your car’s audio system.

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Automakers like Chevy will be able to develop proprietary apps of their own that could be used to operate all manner of vehicle functions, such as tracking fuel economy, unlocking a door or finding a vehicle in a crowded stadium parking lot. The update will permit CarPlay to operate on a wider range of screen sizes, as well.


Chevy Adding Apple CarPlay, Android Auto to 14 Models

“Smartphones are essential,” says GM CEO Barra.

by on May.27, 2015

A total of 14 Chevrolet models, including the next-gen Volt, Malibu and Camaro, will add Apple CarPlay.

It’s becoming ever harder to walk – or drive — away from your smartphone. A day after Hyundai became the first automaker to formally confirm plans to add the new Android Auto system to its Sonata sedan, Chevrolet says it will go one better, rolling out both the Google-based system and Apple’s new CarPlay on 14 of its models next year.

Both technologies allow a motorist to go beyond basic pairing. It lets them actually operate a variety of different smartphone apps directly through the vehicle’s infotainment system, whether by using a touchscreen or voice commands. Chevy owners will be able to access 10 different audio services, for example, from Spotify to NPR to Major League Baseball – with more apps to follow, the maker hinted.

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They’ll also be able to have text messages read out by artificial speech and dictate a reply. And whether using an Apple iOS or Google Android-based phone, motorists will be able to access the smartphone’s built-in navigation, potentially saving $1,000 or more on a factory-installed navi system.


Kia Soul Tops List of Must-Have Cars in the City

Surprisingly, Smart ForTwo doesn’t make Top 10.

by on Aug.12, 2014

Kia's 2014 Soul was named the top choice for city dwellers due to its ride-and-handling as well as its convenience features.

Many folks imagine that once you move to a large urban center, like New York or Chicago, that the need for a car evaporates; however, the reality is that city denizens need to get around and that means hundreds of thousands of vehicles are clogging those streets.

If you’re going to have a car in the city, it needs to be small enough to squeeze into tight spots, turn around in small spaces, yet be able to carry lots of stuff. Fortunately, the folks at have compiled a list of what they believe to be the 10 best cars for city dwellers.

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The website’s top pick is the 2014 Kia Soul and not because it’s so easy to drive even a hamster can do it. According to the website, the Soul’s ride-and-handling, abundance of convenience features, such as heated front and rear seats as well as a heated steering wheel – features typically found on pricier rides – combined with Kia’s Android-based UVO multimedia system made it the best ride. (more…)

Cow Tipping? No, Car Tipping Coming into Vogue in SF

Culprits on the loose, but is it a prank or sign of a larger issue?

by on Apr.08, 2014

Vandals went cow, er, car tipping San Francisco yesterday. The four Smart cars were put on their front- and rear-ends as well as on their sides, causing significant damage to the vehicles.

Since there are no cows in San Francisco, apparently folks have taken to tipping Smart cars in the city. Four of the tiny cars were tipped the other day in two different parts of the city.

The police say there are no suspects and have no idea why it was done. While it may seem funny, the cars were damaged and the culprits could be doing some time in jail as they will likely be facing felony vandalism charges if caught.

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The cars were tipped sometime after midnight on Monday and left sitting on their headlights, sides and bumpers in the Bernal Heights and Portola neighborhoods. (more…)

Smart Not Planning U.S. Version of ForFour 4-Seater

Betting a new version of the ForTwo can do the job.

by on Jan.22, 2014

Daimler AG's Smart brand will remain a one-model brand in the U.S. for the time being with the ForTwo.

Desperate to replace its aging ForTwo model and expand its appeal, Daimler AG’s Smart brand will nonetheless skip the U.S. market when it comes time to launch a second, larger minicar.

The troubled brand’s top executive told Automotive News she doesn’t think the cost of upgrading the planned ForFour model would be justified by what are likely to be modest sales, at best, in the American market.

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While a final decision has yet to be made, the likelihood that there’ll be no U.S. version of the ForFour is leaving some observers scratching their heads, especially when compared to what Smart’s competitors have been doing to expand their own appeal. (more…)

First Drive: 2013 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive

by on Aug.07, 2013

The third-generation Smart ED's new, lower price tag could be its biggest selling point.

It’s become one of the more familiar silhouettes on the road – not necessarily a good thing considering the Smart fortwo has been around in Europe since before the turn of the Millennium and in U.S. showrooms since 2007. That said, the maker is rolling out an all-new version worth another look: the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive – or, if you prefer for a car this small, let’s just call it the ED.

This is the third-generation battery car for Daimler AG’s microcar brand and the most ambitious, which is probably understandable considering it is also the most functional and enjoyable version of the ED yet. The 2013 Smart battery car is faster, delivers better rage and steers and handles better than its predecessors.

But what could be the most effective selling point for the third-generation Smart Fortwo ED is the price tag. The maker launched the 2013 model at $199 a month.  That included a $119 charge for the car itself and another $80 a month for the new Battery Assurance Plan.  In other words, customers lease the battery separately from the car itself. Oddly, the package actually came in at half the earlier lease price for the entire vehicle, battery included.  But to make the Fortwo ED even more appealing, Smart is now dropping the package price for the Coupe to just $139 a month.


Smart Slashing Price for New Electric Drive Model

Maker also introduces extended battery protection program.

by on Aug.07, 2013

Smart is dropping the lease price on the Fortwo Electric Drive by nearly a third.

Taking a cue from competitors who have boosted sales by cutting costs, Smart has trimmed the monthly lease price of its Fortwo Electric Drive, or ED, model by nearly a third – while also introducing a new “Battery Assurance Plan” meant to assure the vehicle delivers the promised performance and range as long as it is in an owner’s hands.

The microcar division of Daimler AG – and sister to the Mercedes-Benz brand – Smart introduced its third-generation Electric Drive model earlier this year, company officials insisting they are committed to battery power for the long haul despite the slow growth in demand for the clean, lower-cost alternative.

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“We feel it’s a no-brainer. It just makes sense,” said Smart’s new General Manager Mark Webster, during an introduction of the latest Fortwo ED model and the new battery warranty program.

Motorists can still buy the battery version of the Smart Fortwo but the maker is encouraging them to lease the vehicle instead. When the gen-3 ED was launched the maker had priced it at $199 a month – which actually included $119 for the car itself and another $80 a month for the Battery Assurance Plan. The new price drops to just $139 a month, Webster announced.