Monday, December 15, 2014

Amazing auto tech under development by Jaguar Land Rover

Jaguar Land Rover is researching technologies that will offer drivers a 360 degrees view out of their vehicle, uninterrupted by the pillars that support the roof.

They plan to do this by embedding screens in the surface of each pillar inside the car which would carry live video feeds from cameras covering the angles outside the car usually obscured in the blind spots created by the A, B and C-pillars.

The 360 Virtual Urban Windscreen would increase the overall safety features of the car by making pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles all around the car visible. The system would automatically make the left or right-hand side pillars transparent when the driver indicates to change direction, when they move their head to look over their shoulder during an overtake manoeuvre, or as the vehicle approaches a junction.

According to Dr Wolfgang Epple, Director of Research and Technology, Jaguar Land Rover:
“Our ultimate aim is to reduce the potential for accidents and enhance the urban driving experience. The Jaguar Land Rover research team is developing this technology to improve visibility and to give the driver with the right information at the right time. If we can keep the driver’s eyes on the road ahead and present information in a non-distracting way, we can help drivers make better decisions in the most demanding and congested driving environments.”

The virtual windscreen would be connected to the Cloud and could present information ranging from petrol station prices to the number of parking spaces available, so drivers won’t have to look for this information themselves. The connected car could also enhance navigation by advising the driver to turn left or right at more visible landmarks, such as pubs or shops, rather than just road signs or street names.

Another interesting technology under development is their ‘Follow-Me Ghost Car Navigation’ which projects an image of a vehicle in front of the driver’s car for them to follow, turn by turn, to their destination.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Mitsubishi ASX Designer Edition

The Mitsubishi ASX is one of the cheapest compact SUVs in Malaysia at RM114,743.50 (TR without insurance) for the 2WD version with 2.0-LITER 16-valve inline-4 DOHC MIVEC engine. This is because they assemble it in Malaysia.

They recently worked together with Malaysian designer Rizalman Ibrahim, to come up with the Mitsubishi ASX Designer Edition. The model only comes in "Titanium" grey with racing stripe running down the front and back of the car. It is only available in the 4WD version. The grey theme is carried in the interior as well with grey leather seats with yellow trims. Leather (grey and yellow) covered gear knobs and matte finished black alloy rims. The car also has a large rear spoiler and fin-type antenna as opposed to the bee-sting type antennas. Another unique feature is the panoramic tinted glass roof

Behind the scenes video:

The Designer Edition model is priced at RM131,801.50 (OTR without insurance).

Friday, December 12, 2014

Exclusive Preview of the New BMW i8 Ad

This is BMW's new ad for the BMW i8. The film was shot in the desert near Almeria, in southern Spain by acclaimed film director Tarsem.

The BMW i8 is a plug-in hybrid sports car. The car combines BMW eDrive technology and a BMW TwinPower Turbo 1.5-litre, 3-cylinder petrol engine.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Luke Aker’s 1996 Nissan Maxima

Film-maker Luke Aker decided to put up his beloved 1996 Nissan Maxima on Craiglist with a humorous video accompanying it - "Luxury Defined" as he put it.

It was so good, Nissan actually decided to buy it and later restored it to it's former glory and will be displayed at their North America’s headquarters.

Nissan came out with an equally funny video to mark the occasion:

Auto companies do have a sense of humour.

Rejuvenating an old car - repairs on a Proton Wira 1.3 M

Different people buy cars for various reasons - for many a car is an extension of their self image - representing their lifestyle. Almost everyone I talk to has a dream car - one they aspire to even if they cannot afford it. However, there are also a lot of people for whom a car is just a machine useful to get from point A to point B. My dad happens to be one of them. He has been driving the same Proton Wira 1.3 manual transmission hatchback for more than 8 years now and asked him whether he wanted to update to a new car. He was not really keen.

He calls luxury cars, houses on wheels because with the price of some of the cars, you can actually buy a house.

He is really fond of the car and I am not surprised. The car has only done 127,800 Kms and recently had timing belt in the engine changes. He proudly mentioned that the car has not broken down even once and starts up immediately.

However, I was sure that the aging car was bound to have some problems and this was confirmed when I recently had it serviced at the local Proton Edar service centre near my house (SENAXIS Sdn Bhd). One of the tyres needed to be changed immediately as it was nearly bald. They also pointed out that several parts need to be replaced and even suggested that it be better to actually buy a new car. However, my dad was not having any of it - his reasoning was that the estimated total cost of the repairs was about RM1000 but to buy a new car would cost at least RM45000 for the Proton Persona 1.6 M version. This was because he does not want a small car and does not like the look of the Saga. I guess he does have certain preferences.

Anyway we decided to go ahead with the repairs and overall a total of 27 parts were replaced (big and small) and the overall damage came to RM1642.80 including tyre allignment (RM40), labour (RM250) and 6% tax (RM15).

The major parts included:

1. Insulator assys x2 = RM188.24
2. Rubber bump x 2 = RM151.56
3. Link control assy LH and RH = RM127.53 x 2
4. Shock absorbers assy RR, RH and LH = RM102.12 x2
5. Strut FR suspension LH and RH = RM185.07 x 2 (the costliest parts).

Other minor parts included rubber bumps, pads, tyre nuts, bushing coils, rubber stabilizers.

I know that official car service centres are more expensive but I choose to go there because I wanted genuine parts.

Do you think we could have got them cheaper elsewhere?

Anyway, I think we have extended the life of the old car for a few more years.

DeLorean fan's amazing creations

Rich Weissensel's amazing creations using damaged DeLoreans include a monster truck, six gull-wing limo and of course, a 'Back to the future' homage.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Proton Surprima S Standard launched

Proton Holdings Bhd today unveiled the Suprima S Standard model and made it more affordable with prices starting at RM69,438 for solid colour and RM69,888 for metallic painted cars. That's nearly RM7000 cheaper than the executive version which cost RM76,760.05 (Metalic) and RM76,410.05 (Solid) respectively.

However, in making this car more affordable, a number of safety features present in the Executive variant have been removed. The new car model has only 2 air bags - the side and curtain airbags have been removed. It also loses the TC (Traction Control), ESC (Electronic Stability Control) and hill hold features.

I wonder whether their ad may be misleading as removal of all these safety features may result in different NCAP ratings. Fortunately ABS With EBD is still present. The touch screen and GPS are gone as well and the steering wheel does not have paddle shifters or radio controls.

The headlights are no longers LEDs but the normal bulbs and you would have to adjust the side mirrors manually. Sometimes I am amazed when I remember that these features were standard on my old Volvo S40 which was more than 10 years old.

What message is Proton trying to tell its customers?

This will definitely not improve the perception that most consumers have about the national car brand.

Don't get me wrong. I have been a long time supporter of Proton and I even did my MBA dissertation on the national car. They have come a long way but is still in no position to compete with other brands if the Government policies were removed.

The new car is still not which I call "affordable" cheap and we recently bought the Proton Preve Premium version with all the features - all the bells and whistles - at almost the same price. With the cars getting cheaper and the variety of choices in the market, I forsee Proton coming up with a number of promotions to try and get rid of unsold stock in the near future.

The engine is still the same CamPro 1.6 Turbo engine with 7-speed ProTronic CVT. The car runs on 16" alloy wheels fitted with 205/55 tyres.

This new variant is available in five colours: Tranquility Black, Solid White, Genetic Silver, Atlantic Blue and Fire Red.


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