Archive for December, 2009

Video Game Technology Becomes Part of Automotive Design

As CAD software becomes more integral to automotive component design, engineers rely more heavily on digital 3D models for packaging of components and assemblies.  Given strength and dimensional requirements, designers and drafters can create parts, assemblies, and even complete vehicles in virtual space.  This allows engineers to see the completed product and look for potential assembly or interference issues without making a single physical part.

This task becomes quite a bit more difficult when designers must consider human interaction with the vehicle.  The movements of people are extremely complex compared to that of most mechanical components found in a car.

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Honda’s NSX Successor: HSV-010 GT Photos and Video

Although there’s probably no chance I’d ever fit my 6’9″ self into one, I’ve always thought the NSX was a wicked cool car. Like many others, I was disappointed by the news that it would be discontinued, aside from continued use on the racetrack. Even rumors and concepts of replacements were usually a disappointment.

The Super GT racing series in Japan has seen the use of cars like the NSX and Supra beyond their mass production runs. The major Japanese manufacturers have begun replacing them with track specific race cars, one of them being Honda’s new HSV-010 GT. Motors Blog of Japan and Paul Tan have collected some great photos and short video clips of the HSV in action at Suzuka’s F1 circuit.


Pass With Care: Future Trucks to Preview Road Ahead?

A new concept in road safety gives drivers behind large trucks a picture of oncoming, making it easier to decide when to pass. A Russian designer named Art Lebedev has introduced plans for a system of cameras and projectors that would place an unobstructed picture of what the truck driver sees on the back of his truck/trailer.

A camera mounted at the front end of the truck will collect video of the traffic ahead. Properly equipped vehicles behind the truck receive the picture wirelessly, and project it on to the back of the truck via a built in projector.
This would be particularly helpful on hilly, curvy, two-lane roads where passing trucks can be particularly dangerous. As stated, this is still a concept, and has some hurdles to overcome it becomes a practical option. Even if we eventually see this idea executed on the roads of tomorrow, it can’t (and shouldn’t) replace common sense and caution when passing trucks on any road.

Review: 2010 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ

I’ve always been a fan of GM’s products. Couldn’t necessarily explain why, although I think I inherited it. So naturally, in my quest to find an eventual replacement for my beloved daily driver, I stopped by a Chevy lot to check out the Malibu and Impala.

My first impression of the Malibu is that it is rather plain. Nothing really groundbreaking, or fancy. That will depend on what you compare it to. The exterior styling is modern but very tasteful. I prefer the looks of the Malibu over similar models from Honda and Toyota. I test drove a 4 cylinder equipped Malibu in LTZ trim.

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Ford to clean out the UAW cobwebs

Ford, in an effort to minimize labor costs, is offering members of the UAW a new buyout option. The offer is aimed at workers under the current contract, earning as much as $28 per hour. Much like other auto manufacturers this year Ford is targeting labor costs for potential savings.

If current UAW workers at Ford take the buyout, they will receive large cash payments, and pensions (if eligible). Additional laborers hired after the buyout would start at $14 per hour, about half that of the highest paid current UAW members.

Once a union is voted in to a place of business, the employer must agree on negotiated contract terms. The employer is often at the mercy of the demands of the union in order for production to continue smoothly. This has traditionally resulted in high labor costs for some companies with union workers. It can be difficult to negotiate new wages and benefits before the contract has reached its full duration.

This is a good option for the UAW members, and if enough of them accept, it could free up a lot of Ford’s cash being sucked out by the union. Ford has survived a tough year without adding a bankruptcy to its resume, and this would be a positive next step. The economy hasn’t recovered yet, and Ford can’t be too careful with its finances.

Reuters [via AutoBlog] has the details of the buyout.

Review: 2010 Saab 9-3

The Saabs don’t strike me as big cars on the inside, but I decided they were still worth a look. The 9-3 has good looks and I expected it to be fun to drive.

Not surprisingly, the 9-3 didn’t have quite the leg room of other sedans I have driven. Still, I was plenty comfortable in the driver’s seat to take it for a spin.

The interior is nice and simple, but still provides good features like auxiliary stereo hookup and bluetooth – both of which are basically essential to me. Controls were easy to find and use. There is some clever (but not really necessary) design found inside the Saabs. The cup holder packaging, in particular was actually somewhat fun to play with. Some of the items & materials seems a little cheap, compared to the rest. The overall quality of the interior was good, so these few items seemed out of place.

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Google’s Earth in Your Audi

Question: What’s missing from your next new car?
Answer: The EARTH.

That’s right folks. What could be better than looking at the actual earth while driving on it? Looking at pictures from outer space, of the earth you are driving on, while driving on it. The technology of the future makes this possible, thanks to Audi and Google. The 2011 Audi A8 will be the first production vehicle to feature the Google Earth software built right in to its navigation system. Audi has also given the A8 the ability to connect to cellular date networks via a built in modem or a bluetooth connection to a cell phone.