Luxury Cars

"The difference between men and little boys is the price of their toys."

Fast Cars

"Everything in life is somewhere else, and you get there in a car."- E.B. White

Car Technology

"And I, I took the road less traveled by. I was using a GPS system."- Robert Brault

Green Cars

"Environmentally friendly cars will soon cease to be an option ... they will become a necessity."- Fujio Cho

Safe Cars

"Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves." - Albert Einstein

Thursday, October 25, 2012

London to See First All-Electric Taxi Fleet

Eco-friendly taxi service greentomatocars have completed a deal with Chinese manufacturer BYD that will see them receive 50 of their pure electric e6 vehicles to trial within the city of London.

The company currently use hybrid and biodiesel vehicles for their fleet and consider themselves instrumental in popularising the Toyota Prius when the company launched in 2006. Their dedication to providing a low-carbon source of transport is at the heart of what the company hopes to achieve.

The deal with BYD will be the first time that all electric vehicles have been used as a taxi service within the capital. The cars themselves boast top speeds of 87mph and a charge distance of 186 miles, which makes it perfect for urban taxi fleets. The deal also sees a significant expansion of the 300-strong low-emission fleet that they currently run.

Greentomatocars are hoping that by using the new e6 models they will help popularise fully-electric vehicles within urban environments, much as they encouraged the use of eco-friendly hybrid cars.

London Mayor Boris Johnson has applauded the deal. The Tory’s plan to have all taxis and minicabs emission-free by 2020 seems to be heading in the right direction. "Every year [London's] fleet is getting cleaner, making our city an even more attractive place to live, work and visit," Johnson said in a statement, "Encouraging many more electric vehicles is a key part of this transformation, so it is great news that greentomatocars has committed to operating 50 of these super clean machines from next year."

A similar programme is being implemented in the USA aswell. The Nissan Leaf was the vehicle of choice to be tested as an all-electric taxi alternative in New York and Mexico City, with tests in Virginia coming up.

The popularity for an all-electric vehicle for every day and family use is not high due to a number of reasons that mostly focus on the short charge distance that most vehicles possess. However, it seems that the urban taxi environment is a perfect fit for electric vehicles, where long journeys are not expected to occur. Developments in the battery-life and motor power of electric vehicles are also making their use far more feasible.

The e6 model used by greentomatocars will be available in the second quarter of 2013.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Automatic Number Plate Recognition Comes to UK Car Parks

Car parks across Britain are being fitted with ‘SwishPark’ technology, which reads and monitors number plates as they enter and leave the car parks. 

The ANPR technology is currently being monitored by Paythru and concerns about private data are being raised.
The idea of the scheme is that drivers will register a Paythru account, so that the company can automatically charge you for the time you spend parked. It removes the need for tickets and could even lead to cheaper, and more time-focused, tickets and mean that British drivers could save.
The system will also have a grace period so that new drivers can register for an account when entering a Paythru car park, and those that don’t will receive fines from the company.

They plan to reinforce these fines by using information from the DVLA about who owns each license plate, and here’s where the privacy issue comes in. Not only will the company have access to names and addresses associated with each vehicle, but they will also be able to monitor where that car was parked, for how long and build up a geographical profile of each driver.

Although the company have stated  that they have no intention of accessing or using that data except when in conjunction with car park charges, serious concerns about what could happen if that information was accessed by nefarious means.

The UK is already one of the most heavily monitored nations in the world. You have probably heard the statistic of how often a person, going about their normal life, will be caught on some form of CCTV. The SwishPark technology will also mean that companies, not just the government’s own DVLA, will be monitoring where and when drivers travel.

For example, Paythru highlighted a recent spike in car parking activity and correlated it with the release of the newest Twilight movie. This seems innocuous enough, but many people in the UK are already nervous about being monitored as they go about their normal day and this will only increase that surveillance. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Toyota to Recall 7.4 Million Vehicles

Toyota has announced that a faulty window switch, installed during production, will mean that more than seven million cars worldwide will have to return to Toyota garages to solve the problem. This includes Yaris, Camry and Corolla models.

138,000 cars in the UK have been recalled from the 1.39 million affected cars in Europe. The largest single recall since 1998 – when Ford recalled 8 million vehicles – will see 2.47 million cars in the US and 1.4 million in China return to Toyota garages. The UK models affected are the Auris, Corolla, RAV4 and the Yaris produced between 2005 and 2010.

Steve Settle, Customer Services Director for Toyota GB, apologised for the anxiety caused by the recall but reassured drivers that the fault posed little threat to road safety. "What we're talking about is the power switch on the driver's door and there is a very, very outside chance that there could be melting inside the switch," he said, "But there are some vehicle agencies around the world that interpret melting as fire. We've no evidence of fire and our engineer testing of this item doesn't reveal any chance of fire."
Toyota has yet to announce how much the recall will cost. Fixing the switch problem will only take about 40 minutes. However, even with a small problem and simple solution, this has further damaged Toyota’s reputation as one of the largest selling car firm in the world following the 2009 recall of their cars when reports of accelerator pedals getting stuck underneath car mats proved a large problem. That recall affected 12 million cars in total.

Toyota was recently set back by the 2011 tsunami, devastating production facilities in the company’s native Japan. Recent tensions between Japan and China over a territorial dispute have also seen plummeting sales figures in China.

The number of cars in this recall equal that of the company’s total sales for the entirety of its last financial year. 

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Range Rover Confirm New Plug-in Hybrid

Jaguar Land-Rover have revealed that they plan to become the latest car company to experiment with plug-in hybrid technology.

They expect that their new hybrid powertrain to be fitted within their Range Rover models, for several reasons. First of all, the cars are the best designs to carry the added weight of the powertrain. The demographics purchasing Range Rovers are also the customers most likely to be able to afford hybrid technology, said chief engineer for hybrid technology at Jaguar Land Rover, Peter Richings. He made the point that it was logical to begin with implementing the technology in the top car, and let it filter through the range as more models are brought into the hybrid family.

The prototype Jaguar XJ_e PHV was Jaguar Land Rovers first attempt at a plug-in hybrid car, which could run solely on electric power for around 25 miles. With a 2.0litre turbocharged engine, a 12.3KWh lithium-ion battery and a 94bhp electric motor, the CO2 emissions for the car were rated at 75g/km with an expected 73.5mpg fuel consumption rate. Jaguar Land Rover claimed that the car would do 0-60mph within 6.5seconds.

While this set-up will be similar to the one we will eventually see in the Range Rover, the company are set to modify the technology before rolling it out onto other models, and Richings claimed that it wouldn’t be until “sometime after 2015, but before 2020” that we saw a plug-in hybrid model of the Range Rover.


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