JEEP looks cheap

With todays technological advancements and potential it seems odd to me that WiFi is not common place in almost all new cars considering we can access WiFi almost anywhere and everywhere we go. It is only recently that GM have announced that there will be built in 4G internet in there Chevy’s, and now Jeep have brought out a concept which includes WiFi and an infotainment system including the radio, music, news, traffic and social media through the Uconnect Live system.

This all sounds great until you see how they have built this in to their nice new Renegade model…Well they haven’t quite had the system “built in”. Instead Jeep have provided this new system and WiFi hotspot through an additional trailer that attaches to the back of the car.

The Hard Steel Jeep in my opinion looks modern and cool with the silver and black throughout and is a car I personally would drive. However I could never see myself driving around with a small trailer attached to the back just so I could have access to all these gadgets which in theory could easily be built inside the vehicle rather than taking away the slick modern look away from the car itself with a silly looking trailer.

In my opinion, as Jeep are trying to enter the future of cars and technology I feel as though they are taking one step forward and two steps back with this design and will struggle with sales if they try to push this out into the market.



The Future is a mixed bag

While predicting the future of  the automobile is difficult, that doesn’t stop people from trying. Interestingly, it seems that many people have reached the conclusion that one solution will take over. Brad Templeton of has noticed this and feels this way of thinking is unrealistic. In his mind, the future will allow for some people to own and drive their cars, some will own self driving cars, others to use the so called “robo-taxis,” and allow others to own one car and rely on robo-taxis for certain occasions.

One of the interesting things Templeton talks about is the future of the car as a status symbol. He believes that this will continue, in part because in his future car ownership and being able to drive your own car are still options. However, he also believes that some robo-taxi services will allow consumers to pay extra in order to ride in fancier cars.

Another issue Templeton sees needing to be resolved is that people who don’t own their own car won’t be able to keep things they may or may not need in their trunk. While he points out that while people who already live the car-free lifestyle show this isn’t a huge problem, he makes the case that there is a certain peace of mind having certain items with you at all times. The best solution in his mind is keeping things that would normally go in the trunk in a little locker that you can pick up and take with you.

Templeton’s vision of the future is certainly an appealing one if you’re a fan of driving worried about a future where such activity is rare, or even outlawed. However, it is also incredibly practical and well thought out, as it avoids the trappings most predictions fall into of assuming that everyone will agree to something. This mixed bag version of the future is the one that sounds most plausible based on what we understand about human nature, and is in my opinion the most valid one out there.

In Car Technology We Could Do Without

After doing my last blog on cars of the future and looking at some of the new technology that we could begin to see in cars, I decided to have a look and see what people made of the gadgets that many of us have in our cars at the moment and whether or not they were deemed to be necessary. I managed to find an interesting article about in car technology we could do without printed in New Zealand’s national newspaper. Among some of the gadgets they looked at were self-parking systems, kick-to-open tailgates and continuous variable transmission with ‘gears’.

Are gadgets such as self-parking systems really worthwhile? Some would argue that they are, mainly because they are not a fan of parking or struggle with spatial awareness. The argument against however is also a valid one. Car users spend a lot of time driving around car parks or streets at low speed waiting for the self-parking system to identify a suitable space and getting in other drivers way. This is especially true on busy town or city center streets, which is the sort of place where you are going to be using it.

Another one of the arguments that was mentioned concerned continuously variable transmission (CVT) which is continuously alter gearing depending on the driving situation. It does have its strengths, especially in fuel economy and the smoothness in the driving. The point highlighted in the article was that car manufacturers are pretending that you can have manual control over a CVT with varying amounts of gears that you can choose between which is in fact not the case as these are pre selected steps.

I believe that technology in cars will continue to improve at a rapid rate and that although we can argue that we need to return to basics with certain aspects, realistically technology will move even further away from basic.



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Volvo First?

Will Volvo be the first to release a self-driving car? Despite my dislike for self-driving cars, the idea of Volvo being the first to release one is exciting to say the least; however, I still would never drive one…

As of 2015, Volvo claims that it will have “production-ready autonomous vehicles” on the road by 2017. Justin Hyde (Yahoo Autos) explains the technology involved: “far more than 28 cameras, sensors and lasers…a complex set of software rules, multiple types of radars, several cameras, a multiple-beam laser scanner in the front bumper and 12 ultrasonic sensors” (Motoramic). As with the Google self-driving car, the Volvo version will also be permanently linked to an HD, 3D mapping system. Volvo goes one step further, though, in connecting their autonomous vehicles to local traffic control offices. In theory, their autonomous vehicle software should be able to react to nearly all driving situations.

Of all the car manufacturers attempting this kind of feat, I would bet on Volvo’s success over any other. The kind of ingenuity and attention to detail on Volvo’s part just follows with their mission to reduce and eventually eliminate all driver deaths and vehicular injuries. Unlike many other manufacturers, Volvo puts driver and passenger safety above all else. Despite the tremendously increased safety of the driver-less car, Volvo is also constantly at work developing new technologies for when their cars ARE involved in accidents. They are putting more high-strength steel into the frames of their vehicles than ever before, as well as developing new safety measures such as shock absorbent seats that compress upon impact (reducing spinal injury), auto-brake functionality, and pre-tensioners in all seats.

This article is one of many that remind us of Volvo’s top status among car companies. They continue to prove that driver and passenger safety will never be compromised — nor will luxury and style. It will be exciting to see what their technology will look like in 2017 — and if they will indeed be the first to release a driver-less car.


Auto Loan Bubble?

In 2008 home foreclosures rose an astounding 81%, starting one of the worst economic downturns in recent memory. Although there were many factors contributing to this fallout, two big components were: 1. lenders overextending themselves on subprime mortgages; 2. Buying and reselling of debt, while piecing it out. Today mortgage lenders are more conservative on whom they lend to and how much. The people handing out car loans may not have paid attention to this lesson. A story reported on NPR’s Planet Money showed that auto loan lenders are approving buyers with poor credit history for expensive new cars. The story was taken up again by NPR’s All Things Considered, where they detailed a buyer who was pressured into buying a car that he couldn’t afford at 18% interest. Companies like Westlake Financial provide some of these higher interest loans, but also larger companies like GM and Chrysler have also been approving buyers like there is no tomorrow (which if you recall GM & Chrysler were a part of the Auto bailout) . Subprime auto loans have slowly been slowly gaining media attention. In addition to Planet Money and All Things Considered, Here and Now as well as Bloomberg have been talking about them. All of the stories are quick to point out that auto loans are not the same as mortgages, arguing that buyers have to get to and from work so it is a good investment. This may be true, but is very similar to the argument that investors made when subprime mortgages were on top. Although I do not think that it is time scream that the sky is falling, I do think that government oversight and regulation on subprime lending needs to happen so that a repeat of 2008 won’t happen. If you want to read more click here, here, here, or here.

Apple Car

Last week in my blog I discussed the Google Car and my thoughts on it. This week I would like to talk about the Apple Car. As of now the only device that Apple has created for vehicles is the CarPlay technology. CarPlay is a device that syncs the iPhone’s features into the cars system.

Recently there have been rumors regarding the car that Apple has been working on. According to an article from USA Today, ” Apple has several hundred employees working on a project code-named Titan, which may be focused on a battery-powered minivan.” As of now Apple has declined to comment on any of the rumors.

If the rumors are true the car would be fully electric and is still many years away from becoming a reality. The car still needs to be tested and experimented on. In an article from Business Insider, “The car business is not a great business. Tesla, the only company in the world making an electric car like Apple reportedly plans, reported a $108 million net loss for the fourth quarter of 2014.” It is interesting that Apple would choose a business that is not very successful, although, in my opinion if any company is going to create a successful electric car, it would be Apple.

Apple has been very passionate about the planet and is very outspoken about it. Many of their products are made from recycled materials and are engineered to use very little energy. So it would only make sense that a car would be their next step. A solar-powered car would not only revolutionize the way we travel, but it would be helping the planet as well. If the rumors are true, we could be heading toward a new age of clean transportation.

You can check out the articles below and be sure to visit Apple’s website regarding their environmental responsibility.


Electricity: Right for the Home Wrong for the Car

What sounds better a range of 60 miles, $ .11 per Kilowatt hour fill up, and a 10 hour recharge time or 300 miles, $2.50 per gallon fill up, and 5 minute recharge time? The first choice is a Nissan Leaf and the second choice is any other gasoline powered car in the market new or used. You might be thinking wow $ .11 is nothing but with only a range of 60 miles you will not actually get turn around as fast as you might expect. “Counting interest, the miles to payback is 197,000 miles.  Because it is almost impossible to drive a Leaf more than 60 miles a day, the payback with interest would take more than nine years”. It takes 9 years because of the distance you can drive it and because it cost around $37,XXX compared to a lot of other SUVs’ costing around $20,XXX. Another issue that comes with a range of only 60miles the more you use the amenities like the radio, AC, and/or heat the cars range will decrease. “Reviews of the Leaf are filled with accounts of drivers turning off the A/C in the summer and the heat in the winter.  Some drivers even decided that they couldn’t risk charging their cell phones, using the radio, or turning on the windshield wipers”. That makes an already terrible traffic jam that much hotter or colder. I can speak for not having AC for a week during summer last year and it was the worst week of my life. That’s not the worst part though, if you cannot use you windshield wipers in the rain that can severely endanger you, your passengers, and everyone around you which is just not sensible. Last but not least let’s add another stress to your already stressful life. With a range of 60 miles and a recharge time there is an anxiety called “Range Anxiety”. This means “The car takes over your life.  You are forced to plan every trip carefully, and to forgo impromptu errands in order to conserve precious electrons.  And, when you are driving your BEV (battery electric vehicle), you are constantly studying the readouts worrying about whether you are going to make it through the day”. To me it’s just not good in any scenario and will not work until the range can be closer to 400 miles and a recharge time of 2 hours, so until then electric cars just aren’t worth the money for any reason.