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Daimler Investing Around $8 Bil on “Green” Powertrains by 2018.

New, 300-mile electric Mercedes set to debut at Paris Motor Show.

by on Jun.13, 2016

Mercedes plans to launch a new hydrogen car with a plug-in battery system to boost mileage.

Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler AG will invest more than seven billion euros, or $8 billion, on green powertrains over the next two years – about half of its total R&D budget — the automaker said today.

That effort will include a mix of different technologies, including fuel-cell vehicles and clean diesels, as well as various battery drive systems. The maker said that “all” of its vehicle lines will be “electrified” by 2020, with sales of such models expected to be in the “six figures” by then, according to Daimler R&D chief Thomas Weber.

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“We will electrify all Mercedes-Benz passenger car model series step by step,” said Weber,the executive last week announcing that a prototype of a new models capable of 500 kilometers, or about 310 miles per charge, will be revealed at the Paris Motor Show in October.

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Jeep Owners Urged to Act to Lock Out Hackers

Hackers take control of Jeep Cherokee, crash it into ditch.

by on Jul.22, 2015

A journalist crashes into ditch after hackers take control of his 2014 Jeep Cherokee. Image courtesy of Wired.

Fiat Chrysler has released an urgent update for the software on a number of its connected vehicles after learning that two hackers were able to take control of a Jeep Cherokee and crash it into a ditch.

The news comes amidst growing concern that hackers are beginning to target automobiles as they have computers and cellphones. But in this case, there’s more than just private information at stake. Experts fear that such cyberattacks could pose the actual risk of death or injury, as well as major chaos on the highways.

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The possibility that hackers could gain access to hundreds of thousands of FCA vehicles was revealed in a story in Wired magazine. The potential was demonstrated by two professional hackers, including one who previously worked for the National Security Agency. They plan to reveal at least some of their tricks during a so-called Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas next month.

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Chevy Introduces Corvette Performance Data Recorder

“Like having a 32-GB crew chief” onboard.

by on Jan.05, 2014

The Performance Data Recorder follows Corvette Racing Team driver Tommy Milner turning a lap around Florida's Sebring Raceway.

Whether you’re a serious racer hoping to improve your lap times or just want to see how well you can handle the curves on a weekend run through the country, Chevrolet is offering Corvette buyers a way to get some fast feedback.

The automaker is using the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to introduce its new Corvette Performance Data Recorder. The maker claims the optional device is the first in the industry to integrate audio, video and the ability to capture real-time vehicle telemetry.  The information can be viewed from the car – when parked, of course – or downloaded to a personal computer. It can even be analyzed to improve a driver’s technique.

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“The Performance Data Recorder combines the ability to record and share drive videos with the power of a professional-level motorsports telemetry system,” said Tadge Juechter, Corvette chief engineer. “Drivers can easily record and share their experiences driving down the Tail of the Dragon or lapping Road Atlanta. In addition, with the included telemetry software users can analyze their laps in incredible detail, and find opportunities to improve their driving and lap times.”

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Ford, Toyota, Mazda and Dodge Square off for Green Car Honors

Hybrids face challenge from conventional gas technology.

by on Oct.25, 2012

Green car organizers note the new Ford Fusion shows how conventional and battery tech are both able to meet greener targets.

While hybrids and electric vehicles may be the very definition of “green” technology to the average American motorist, the organizers and judges of the Green Car of the Year award have a somewhat different take.

As their latest list of finalists for the annual honor underscores, there are plenty of high-mileage, low-emissions alternatives vying for consumer awareness.

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“This is an exciting time” for those looking for greener technology, suggested Ron Cogan, publisher of Green Car Journal. The magazine has run the Green Car of the Year program for eight years in conjunction with the LA Auto Show. The award will be presented this year on November 29th.

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24 Hours of Le Mans Becomes Alternative Power Showcase

Audi Hybrid takes checkered flag, Delta Wing makes strong initial showing.

by on Jun.18, 2012

The unique Nissan Delta Wing made it through nearly seven hours before being driven off the track, ironically, by a Toyota hybrid.

It has been described as the most demanding and unforgiving road race in the world, one that only the hardiest men and machine can hope to survive, never mind win.  So, even a good showing during the 24 Hours of Le Mans is a significant achievement.

And this year’s ultimate endurance race suggests that alternative power and automotive design is ready to challenge the mainstream.  With Audi’s latest high-tech entry claiming victory and the striking Delta Wing making an impressive – if short-lived – debut, even more alternative entries appear to be on the horizon, including one from Japan’s Mazda.

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Already a dominant force with its diesel-powered racers, Audi took an even bolder step this year with the addition of the R18 etron Quattro – which took the checkered flag to become the first hybrid vehicle ever to win the 24-hour event.  Audi snatched a compelling 1-2-3 win during the 80th running of the annual Le Mans endurance race with two R18 etrons first across the finish line followed by a more conventionally diesel-powered R18 ultra.

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Ford Opens New Silicon Valley Lab

Transforming the car into an open-source platform.

by on Jun.18, 2012

Ford's Sync system gave the maker a taste of what it could achieve working with the high-tech world.

Forget the Rust Belt, Ford Motor Co. is now officially a part of the high-tech world of the Silicon Valley.

Recognizing the rapidly increasing role of digital technology in the automobile, the automaker has opened up a new electronics research lab within a silicon chip’s throw of such high-tech giants as Apple, Google and Intel.

“We have been innovating for more than a century at Ford, but we acknowledge we don’t have a monopoly on creativity,” observed Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford during the formal dedication of the new lab in Mountain View, California. “Our new office will complement our existing research efforts by allowing us to tap into the region that has been driving consumer technology forward in recent decades.”

Long associated with U.S. the industrial heartland, Ford has been expanding its global reach with a network of so-called “Research and Innovation” facilitiesin  Aachen, Germany; Nanjing, China; and its home in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn.  It also has hired on technology scouts in Tel Aviv, Israel.

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“We want Silicon Valley to view Ford as a platform that is open, accessible and ready for their innovative ideas and technologies,” said Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice president of Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. “We are looking for unexpected solutions for the future, and we believe Silicon Valley is the right place to round out our global research organization.

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Early Launch of Model S Offsets Concerns About Widening Tesla Losses

New battery sedan to go on sale in June.

by on May.10, 2012

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk with Model S prototype.

It’s never easy making money when you don’t have a product to sell.  Just ask Tesla Motors.  While the California start-up does have a small income stream from its contract work that wasn’t enough to head off a nearly $90 million loss for the first quarter.

But things could start changing in a hurry, according to Tesla, as the battery-car maker is apparently looking for a much earlier launch than originally planned for its new Model S sedan.  Meanwhile, Toyota is also ready to start rolling out the new RAV4-EV it has developed as part of a partnership with Tesla – which could yield even more new business.

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Tesla is describing 2012 as a “year of two halves.”  Clearly, it would rather get through the first half as quickly as possible.

With the little Tesla Roadster now out of production the company generated just $30 million in revenue during the January to March quarter, down from $49 million a year ago.  As a result, it saw losses shoot to $89.9 million, or $0.86 a share, compared to $48.9 million, or $0.51 a share a year ago.

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The Soft Sell: Auto Advertising Turns 113

Those 19th Century Mad Men marketed the Winton. Has much really changed?

by on Sep.16, 2011

The first automotive ad, for a Winton, appeared on July 30, 1898 in Scientific American. Who knew what would follow once the Mad Men got into the game.

Hoist a very dry Martini before dinner Saturday to honor and toast the 19th Century Mad Men who convinced the Winton Motor Carriage Co. of Cleveland, Ohio to run the first automobile ad advertisement in Scientific American magazine, July 30, 1898.  Consider it an homage to those who led the way for us who make or have made our careers in auto advertising.

This is the ad that appeared.

No, the layout is not up to contemporary standards, the illustration is only so-so, but carefully read the headline and the body copy. Now think of this ad in terms of today’s advertising for electric vehicles. There’s an almost eerie visionary prophetic sameness with the major selling points, isn’t there?

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And the price, $1,000. Based on the Inflation Calculator using Consumer Price Index data, today the Winton would cost $25,853.94 — a number not that far off from Nissan’s Leaf or GM’s Volt, at least after rolling in today’s federal tax credits. (There wasn’t an income tax back then, of course.) Conversely, $1,000 today would only get you $39.30 in 1898.

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