AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
With the iPad 3 announcement scheduled for next week, the rumor mills are churning on what Apple has up their sleeves next. As with everything Cupertino-related, nothing will ever be confirmed until it comes out of Tim Cook’s mouth.
The newest rumor has Apple China posting a job listing on LinkedIn for a “SQE/NPI with over 4 years Mechanical engineering background familiar with CNC/die casting/stamping/plastic injection, can use APQP/PPAP/SPC to control product quality.” Now while seeking an employee isn’t exactly groundbreaking news or entirely revealing of the company’s intentions, there’s reason to believe that Apple could finally be looking at their own infotainment system.
It makes sense considering Brabus has already outfitted their Mercedes iBusiness S-Class with Apple products and aspiring entrepreneurs are taking matters into their own hands by developing their own in-dash head unit replacement to use with an iPhone. With how abundant iPhones are in this world and how many vehicles are on the road, it almost makes sense that Apple would somehow integrate an infotainment system to work with its devices.
Systems such as the Ford SYNC (which is now standard in the new Fusion and Flex) is powered by a Microsoft Windows-based system, Apple’s infamous rival in the marketplace. Other manufacturers such as Kia and Toyota also employ Microsoft’s services but we feel it’s the threat of Google’s Android into the marketplace that has Apple interested.
Sure Microsoft has almost a 10-year head start in the auto infotainment industry, but it’s Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS that rules the world now. Both mobile operating systems have already been used to seamlessly sync into vehicles and they have the most accessibility to functional apps. In addition, app developers around the world have already embraced what Google and Apple have to offer.
So what is it Apple could be making? Based on the job listing, it seems that they could be looking into manufacturing a device that will integrate into a car’s dashboard. Our guess is that it’ll be a very plain-looking, but sleek head unit that will wirelessly sync with your Apple device to stream music, movies, app data, and more to your vehicle.
[Source: Car News China]
Keeping kids entertained on road trips is fairly simple these days. You can download a movie or a game on your iPad and your kids will stay quiet so you don’t have to put up with endless “are we there yet” questions.
Unfortunately, Apple’s standard headphones aren’t necessarily made for children and their little heads. If you’ve ever had this problem, try the Kidz Gear Wired Headphones on for size.
Able to cut out background noise, the Kidz Gear Wired Headphones will work with your iPad, iPhone and iPod. These headphones have a volume-limiting feature so kids can’t deafen themselves by blasting their music. They also come with a built-in microphone.
They don’t look particularly durable, since the headphones are made out of plastic, but for $29.99 you get equipment that will get your kids through some long stretches without worrying about expensive replacements.
A new Kickstarter project looks to make your smartphone the center of your car stereo needs in not only a painless and effective manner, but in one that won’t break your bank account.
Compared to any traditional, high quality head unit, the Devium Dash is complete steal right now for just $250. The retail pricing will be around $300 when it’s completely released to the market in July, but what exactly does $250 get you? Well it’s a fully-functional head unit that uses your smartphone to access GPS, send texts by voice, play music, etc. Everything that you’re used to doing on your phone will now seamless integrate to the rest of your car’s stereo system.
The head unit itself will pump out 4×50 watts of power and has two preamps for front and rear subwoofers. In addition, it supports a video pass through so owners can also play video on external monitors. Best of all, the head unit will keep your phone charged while it’s in use. To make everything less distracting while you’re driving, Devium includes an app for your smartphone that will allow you to quickly bookmark your most-used automotive applications onto a quick-access home screen.
That’s not all it can do however. The Devium Dash also has your typical FM tuner and AUX input, but will also allow users to eventually connect to their vehicle’s computer.
The first Dash will be shipping out in June 2012, and will initially only support the Apple iPhone 4 and 4S, but Devium hopes to support additional smartphones in the near future including your collection of Android units out on the market now.
Watch the video here showing how the Devium Dash will operate.
Recently Lexus announced the creation of the Tori 500 track, inspired by swimsuit model Tori Praver’s curvaceous body. At the time of that release, Lexus teased that a TORI 500 app would be available for iOS devices, and now here it is.
The TORI 500 racing app allows iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch users to enjoy driving a virtual Lexus GS sedan around a virtual Tori Praver. Of course the racetrack in the game is the one created by Tori Praver’s body and the 3D image of the supermodel might not be the best of things to show off to your significant other.
Lexus also released another app that allows users to place the swimsuit model into their own photos with a click of a button. Oh the beauty of today’s technology. The Japanese automaker is the Official Automotive Marketing Partner of SI Swimsuit. Cars and beautiful women in bikinis, what more could a guy ask for?
GALLERY: TORI 500 Gaming App
And in case you missed it, watch the creation of the Tori 500 race track below:
The vast majority of us will never get to experience a Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe Black Series up close and personal, so the German luxury automaker decided to take the liberty of creating an app for fans to enjoy some media on their Apple devices.
The app showcases what makes the C63 AMG Black Series Coupe so exciting with highlights on its styling, racing atmosphere, and performance. You can browse through specs of the Black Series Coupe, download dynamic wallpapers, and even share the iPad experience with your friends on Facebook.
Hit the source after the break on your Apple device to download the app.
Hot Wheels is finding new ways to make their toys relevant and fun again, this time around launching a new product line called the iNitro Speeders which allows the user to control their little car through an iPhone app.
Similar to what you’d find with a standard remote controlled car, the iPhone app features your standard dual-stick controller but also takes advantage of the iPhone’s built-in accelerometer to control the car. Even cooler, you can use the app to choose a predefined driving route or draw your own pattern and watch it come to life with the miniature car.
And even though you can control the car with a standard remote control that’s included, taking advantage of the iPhone app really makes it different and fun. It comes with an infrared module that plugs into the iPhone’s headphone port and after you calibrate it you’ll be good to go. Lastly, the app has a built-in racing game that you can play without the remote controlled car, giving kids and young adults (like us) a little bit of everything to enjoy.
Xatori Inc., the same company that created PlugShare, has released their second iOS application called GreenCharge. Building off the success of PlugCharge, which is the nation’s largest electric vehicle charging network, GreenCharge allows owners of electric vehicles to view real time battery data and to see and share the environmental and monetary benefits of owning their EV.
The app is currently only available on Apple devices for $9.99 and can sync directly with eligible electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf or Chevrolet Volt. It is also the first and only app that connects driving data with local energy pricing to give the user their costs of operating their electric car. And for those that are really green, the app will let them know the carbon offset from their driving.
Those that don’t yet own an electric vehicle but are considering one can also use the app on a demo car to simulate driving and cost information to see if an EV would be worth the investment. Lastly, no app would be welcomed in 2012 without the ease of sharing your info on Twitter and Facebook.
“I’ve talked to too many people who have been confused about the benefits and operating costs of an electric vehicle” said Forrest North, CEO of Xatori Inc. “We built GreenCharge to let EV owners understand their cars and educate others on the true environmental and monetary benefits of driving an electric vehicle.”
Check out a video highlighting the app’s functionality after the break.
Cell phones behind the wheel— they’re a deadly plague on traffic safety that cause frequent and preventable crashes. Even worse is the fact that scores of mature drivers are just as guilty as any number of 16-year-old sidewalk terrors more concerned with texting back than taking the wheel.
One company is offering a solution that could help cut down on the number of cellular offenders endangering themselves and others. Scosche is offering a device that blocks cell usage in a car while the vehicle is in motion called CellCONTROL.
As with any new technology, compatibility is always a concern. All the same, Scosche insists that the CellCONTROL is broadly compatible and easy to use. Any car sold in the U.S. in 1996 or later was made with an OBD-II interface, which is all their system needs to work within the car. They also claim that it works with more than 1,200 different phones such as BlackBerry 4.5 and higher, Android 2.1 and above, yet the iPhone is unmistakably missing from their list.
Once installed, drivers will find that their phone is only accessible via bluetooth headset. Email, SMS and really everything that would take your eyes off the road is out of reach until the wheels stop spinning.
While this is certainly a step in the right direction, we wonder how many people will really use this device. It costs $129.95 on the company site, so after shipping and all costs, you’re likely to drop at least $150 when you can just as easily put the phone out of reach, say in a briefcase behind your seat.
The bluetooth headset should still reach at that range and you won’t be tempted to send snarky tweets while steering. Another obvious question: what about your passengers? Unless you’re the antisocial type or always drive alone, it would be a real nuisance for the co-pilot to be locked up as well.
That said, there are some great applications which are surefire selling points. Parents looking for a way to enforce safe driving habits probably wont bat an eyelash at a one-time expense to keep the kiddies safe. To sweeten the deal, the CellCONTROL gets a designated administrator, say mom or dad, and notifies them if someone tampers with the device.
It’s a good idea that parents will probably buy into, but unless insurance companies start offering discounts to drivers who install these things, it seems like a hard sell to the adult crowd.
Mercedes-Benz has a new collection of technological innovations set to debut at the upcoming 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) starting on January 10th, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. These new innovations encompass Mercedes-Benz’s vision for the future of driving.
Starting off with their mbrace2 system, Mercedes will show off its pioneering communications platform that has now expanded to offer a complete cloud-based system. The system enables a range of features and services related to safety, information, entertainment, personal assistance and vehicle care while offering cloud-based applications, traffic and navigation assistance, speech recognition, Internet browsing and searching, concierge services, automatic crash notifications and more. Mbrace2 will be offered standard on the newly revamped 2013 SL Class and will be standard in many more models this year.
In addition to the in-vehicle mbrace2 system, Mercedes will be demo’ing the mbrace2 smartphone app which allows drivers to communicate and send information to their vehicle prior to entering it. They will also be able to find their vehicle, lock and unlock it, set valet parking protection, receive geo-fence alerts and Send2Benz which connects to other drivers socially in order to find and navigate to one another.
Mercedes will also show off their latest suite of Advanced Driver Assistance System, a comprehensive active safety system that helps prevents accidents before they happen. On hand will also be a new Mercedes-Benz C350 coupe to demonstrate their upcoming DriveStyle iPhone app. The app allows drivers to interact with the vehicle rather than the phone in order to help minimize distractions and ultimately accidents.
To celebrate 125 years of the automobile, Mercedes will also have a F125! Research Vehicle in their booth. Geared towards presenting a visionary outlook on future technical developments in the luxury car market, the research vehicle will show off innovative new ideas and future trends that will find their way into luxury cars. The emission-free vehicle has a range of 621-miles.
Lastly, Mercedes will have their Dynamic & Intuitive Control Experience (DICE) simulator on display, allowing visitors to take a seat into the future and wave your hands to take control of the vehicle.
Ford is taking a clever approach to virtually revealing the new 2013 Fusion sedan before its official debut at the upcoming 2012 Detroit Auto Show. Using an app, now available on Android and iOS systems for smartphones and tablets, is an augmented reality game app where users can virtually drive the new Fusion through a series of worlds that unlock to reveal the car.
Each track is loaded with video clips featuring insight on technology and design from key Fusion team members. A daily video clip will unlock more content to the app every day with demonstrations of key vehicle features on the new 2013 Fusion.
When the vehicle finally debuts at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, users will be able to unlock access to the full image of the car. At that point, they will also be able to drive any of the four Fusions on the virtual track in addition to creating a custom image of the car to share via Facebook or Twitter.
The all-new Ford Fusion will also be the Official Car of the 2012 CES show.
Check out an app walkthrough video after the break.
If you play the EA Moble game Road Trippin’, you can expect to stop by Sears Auto Centers in your virtual travels.
Sears Auto Centers and BF Goodrich Tires have joined forces with EA Mobile, so players of the popular moble game can stop to tune up their cars, receive power boosts and earn extra points. And players can also earn discounts for their real cars from Sears and BF Goodrich as well.
“Mobile gaming is a great venue to introduce Sears Auto Center’s products and services to a new generation of customers,” said Lori Williams, Chief Marketing Officer for Sears Auto Centers. “With the number of mobile game players growing every day, Road Trippin’ enables Sears Auto to leverage this new marketing channel to engage with potential customers in a relevant way.”
You can download the game for free at the Apple iTunes store.
Take the brand new Volvo FH16 out for a spin… but be careful of obstacles. That’s the idea behind Volvo Trucks’ new game for smartphones and tablets.
Released to coincide with the 25th anniversary of Volvo’s flagship truck, FH16 750 is an exciting and entertaining game that tests your lighting fast reflexes. The object of the game is to get rid of various obstacles that pop up and get in your way. To move to the next level (there are eight to get through), you need to accumulate enough points… and not crash your truck. The game also offers some interesting facts about the Volvo Trucks’ FH16-750.
“It’s easy to learn, but hard to master. If you’re good, you can get onto the high-score lists and boast about your results on Facebook or Twitter. There is also a contest on Worldtrucker, our online truck community, where weekly prizes are awarded,” said Niclas Hermansson, Digital Marketing Strategist at Volvo Trucks.
You can download the FH16 750 game for free at the Apple App Store, Android Market or Volvo Trucks’ game site To download the game, you need the iPhone 4/4S or iPad 2 or Android 2.3 phones or tablets with 480×800 screen resolution or higher.
Be sure to check out the game trailer after the jump.
Fanboys have been waiting for its arrival almost as long as Christians have been waiting for the second coming and now, lovers of Toyota‘s FT-86 sports car have a new way of passing the time until it arrives. Proving that there really is an App for everything, Toyota has just launched the “FT-86 World Report” App. Get ready to be disappointed.
It doesn’t let you race the FT-86 on the Nurburgring, or go behind the scenes of the creation or design of the car, or even have a great teaser of its exhaust note. Nope. Instead, the App let’s you digitally add a rendering of the FT-86 onto a photo you take and then upload it to the FT-86WorldREport.com website. Perhaps the only genuinely interesting part of this app is that you can see just how many others are as excited as you are about Toyota’s new affordable sports car.
Toyota will debut the FT-86 at the Tokyo Auto Show on November 30, with it’s sister car, the Subaru BRZ being unveiled the same day. The U.S. market Scion FR-S is expected to be unveiled at the New York Auto Show next spring.
Available for iPhone4, 4S and iPad2, download the app today here.
Watch the video after the jump:
Looking to get yourself a nice little gift this holiday season to go with your brand new iPhone 4S? Silverlit is proud to offer you a Ferrari Enzo toy car that can be controlled through an iPhone app via Bluetooth. Even though we’re only offered a single photo of the toy car, we’re impressed by its details and we’re certain like other Silverlit products, it’s made from hobby grade material.
Leveraging the power of the iPhone and its versatility in app development, Silverlit’s Enzo offers more than your typical remote controlled car. Instead of just having forward, back, left and right controls, the app allows you to control the Enzo at various speeds, has a multi-racing steering and gives you the power to control the headlights, taillights and turning lights.
Volvo has updated its near-iconic XC90 SUV for 2012, adding some exterior and interior changes along with some technology to make it more 2012-friendly. The newly refined SUV now features daytime running lights, giving the front more character along with its redesigned silver metallic bumper bar and silver roof rails. A subtle, but classy accent is a new color-coordinated lower door molding. In the rear, the taillights now have dual light guides, LED brake lights and a silver turn indicator bulb – though it still blinks orange. Lastly, 18-inch six-spoke wheels in a matte silver finish are now factory to the XC90.
“The XC90 still boasts all the virtues that have made it one of our most successful models ever. The spacious and flexible crossover combines excellent handling and comfort with superior get-you-there ability and flexibility. Now we have upgraded the XC90 with a number of features that emphasise the large SUV’s unique blend of sophisticated elegance and capable ruggedness,” says Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research and Development at the Volvo Car Corporation.
On the inside, Volvo has done several upgrades giving it a more luxurious feel. From the three-spoke steering wheel to the standard aluminum decor, Volvo has gone through all the tiny details of the interior enhancing every bit of it. Special models include an Exclusive Executive version and the sporty R-Design with the Exclusive Executive version adding more luxurious amenities including soft leather seats with ventilation and massage functions. The R-Design features redesigned upholstery, inlays, door panels and unique 19-inch wheels.
The 2012 XC90 will come powered by a 3.2L inline-six with 243-hp and 236 lb-ft of torque; and in some markets (not North America) two diesel options will be available. These include a D5 turbo diesel with 200-hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, or a FWD 2.4L five-cylinder D3 turbo diesel engine with 163-hp and 251 lb-ft of torque.
Technology enhancements include Volvo’s On Call system, Bluetooth integration and tight integration with Android and iOS devices. The mobile application allows owners to locate their XC90, start the heater remotely, check the vehicle’s dashboard data (fuel, average speed, odometer, etc.) and do a general “health” check of the vehicle.
GALLERY: 2012 Volvo XC90
Imagine having a gadget in your car that could tell you how fast to go to avoid stopping at the next light. Well, now you can. A network of dashboard smartphones can monitor traffic lights and congestion helping drivers avoid idling, cutting fuel use by 20 percent.
SignalGuru collects and analyzes traffic data from images captured on dashboard smartphones, to inform drivers of the most efficient routes. The researchers installed iPhones on car dashboards in Cambridge, Massachusetts and in Singapore, where traffic lights have fixed schedules. SignalGuru can predict when lights will change with an error margin of two-thirds of a second.
The SignalGuru study won a best paper award at last month’s Association for Computing Machinery MobiSys conference, but the program would require many users to be a real solution for traffic congestion.
“If you can save even a small percentage of that, then you can have a large effect on the energy that the U.S. consumes,” Emmanouil Koukoumidis, a Princeton PhD candidate and visiting researcher at MIT, was quoted as saying.
Something to allow city-dwellers, sports car owners, or high-school principals to sleep easy at night: a new app for iPhones, Droids, and Blackberries will warn you when some @#%! is messing with your car, allowing you to dispense justice as you see fit.
Budding Charles Bronsons can take comfort in knowing that this is the first specific app designed for cars. Developed by Intel, it connects to your car’s existing security system and begins working when that is triggered. It can stream video (placed in and around the car, presumably) to a cloud server through WiFi, directly to your phone, or record it for World’s Wildest Police Videos.
Intel is also checking to see if the app can share data with carmakers, but that level of privacy intrusion may get messy. There’s no word on when the app will be finished, but for anyone who uses faculty parking, hopefully before the school year starts.
Technology has progressed so much that sometimes it can be unsafe, even for your car. Mobile apps can now allow drivers to unlock car doors and remotely start their engines. However two hackers have exploited this convenience and now have access to vehicles with remote starters. Researchers Don Bailey and Mathew Solnik managed to use a laptop to hack the mobile app connection in two different car brands, and will demonstrate this at the upcoming Black Hat conference in Las Vegas.
When users push the unlock or remote start button on the phone, a signal is sent to a service center, which then sends a signal to the car telling it what to do. The researchers intercepted the signal and duplicated it, allowing them to have full access to the cars. The researchers have not revealed the car brands which have been hacked, but both GM and Mercedes-Benz were the first to market the smartphone app that offers these functions. However, the researchers have vowed not to reveal anything more, until automakers fix the security breach.
[Source: Network World]
Porsche has released a unique application called the Porsche 360° app for the iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. This app allows for an up-close driving experience without actually sitting inside one of the sports cars.
The app allows users to ride shotgun, alongside Porsche driver Jeroen Bleekemolen for a lap around the Zandvoort circuit. While in the simulator, the user can choose any viewing angle by moving the Apple product into the according direction.
This app is currently only available in The Netherlands, but is also in the App store in co-operation with Porsche AG.
Check out the Porsche 360° video after the jump!
Apple has officially rejected any inclusion of DUI checkpoints in its iOS apps. In this week’s Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple updated its app store to prohibit applications informing users of DUI checkpoints.
This recent update was a result of a group of U.S Senators sending numerous letters of concern to Apple, Google, and RIM, asking the smartphone companies to remove and disable all apps that would inform users of DUI checkpoints.
Section 22.8 states:
Apps which contain DUI checkpoints that are not published by law enforcement agencies, or encourage and enable drunk driving, will be rejected.
Developers may be able to remove the DUI functionality from their apps, however most of the programs that identify law enforcement activity pertaining to checkpoints and speed traps are crowd-sourced, which means users submit the checkpoints themselves without app developers knowing what they’re identifying.
Volvo has just released a fascinating new version of their OnCall app for iPhone and Android phones that provides the owner with a range of beneficial features. The features include a car locator, incase you forget where you parked, remote door lock or vehicle health check. This app works on 2012 Volvo models and can be downloaded for free.
The app’s features include:
Car locator: The location of the car is shown on the smartphone map
Remote door lock: The doors and windows can be opened and close via the phone.
Vehicle dashboard: This feature allows the driver to see vehicle information such as fuel level, average fuel consumption, average speed, odometer reading and trip reading.
Car Check: This impressive app allows the driver to check the “health” of the car, displaying bulb outages, brake fluid level, coolant level, engine oil level and engine oil pressure.
Theft Notification: If the Volvo alarm is triggered, a message will be sent to the phone
“We design cars around people’s needs and lifestyle. Creating an intuitive and ergonomically optimised driver’s environment is part of our aim to offer a feeling of relaxed control. It is only logical that you should feel in command of your vehicle, including after you have parked it,” says Stefan Jacoby, President and CEO at Volvo Car Corporation. “The new mobile applicationtransforms Volvo On Call from an emergency system to a useful convenience feature. It will help us boost sales of the system – and we are convinced that our ambitious plans in this connectivity field will help us attract more and more new customers in the future,” explained Stefan Jacoby.
[Source: Motor Ward]
Zipcar’s interesting business model has inspired others to think outside the box when it comes to car rentals and now Getaround is looking to add technology to the mix in coming up with a very interesting solution.
Essentially Getaround is looking to unleash a viable way of peer-to-peer car rentals, where those offering the rental cars would be everyday people like yourself and those looking to rent the cars would be the same everyday person. Getaround would provide the infrastructure and marketing/advertising while you provide the vehicle for rental and the result is a 60/40 split, in Getaround’s favor of course.
Essentially the success of this program lies on how many people are willing to let anyone and everyone access to their vehicle. But as Getaround co-founder states, the average vehicle in the United States sits for 22 hours – that’s a lot of hours you’re paying to not use the vehicle. So why not rent it out?
Cautious ones can be reassured that Getaround has full coverage and an insurance backer, though they didn’t disclose who is underwriting them. The rates seem reasonable per hour, with a Mini Cooper running around $5.50, a BMW Z4 for $15.00, and a Tesla Roadster for a nice $50. Whether or not your share of the profit really covers the depreciation that’s going on with your vehicle as its being driven for those hours can still be debated, but those that really don’t sit there and put mathematical sense to everything could easily have their lease payment covered if they just watch the mileage.
Getaround is currently offering beta testing of the program in San Francisco and San Diego, California. The network of available vehicles is obtained through an iPhone app and those wishing to rent out their vehicles will receive a car kit that sits on the dash. Once someone has decided which car they wish to rent, the app will let them know the location and they’ll be able to unlock the vehicle at which point they’ll have to find the key that’s hidden somewhere in the inside.
GALLERY: Getaround Car Rental System
If you thought the Facebook Donk was the ultimate internet homage, then you’ve clearly underestimated the laughably tasteless creativity of the Donk community. The uber-popular Angry Birds smart phone app has made its way into an Internet Google Chrome-browser friendly experience, the successful Rio movie, and now apparently into the donk crowd.
Along with the Angry Birds screen image on the hood, this boxy Chevy gets some pause buttons on the fenders and while it’s hard to see from the photos, behind each of those massive 24-inch wheels are covers that feature the famous birds themselves.
We can’t help but wonder what’s next. A Farmville-themed Donk? Cake Story?
GALLERY: Angry Birds Donk
Those of you who will become stranded in an Audi, never fear: the Audi Roadside App is here!
No more fumbling through your wallet for that ragged AAA membership card that expired in 1999, or dialing 911 and sheepishly admitting that nobody around you has been shot. For those Audi owners with an iPhone, Android or Blackberry—and let’s face it, many who own Audis will likely play with one—the app allows owners to call for the nearest tow truck and request specific service.
The app works by using GPS to locate the vehicle’s owner, then calling for the nearest tow service. Owners submit their vehicle registration data to Audi via the app, which “greatly shortens the time it takes to dispatch service.” Tin-hatters need not apply. The app works in conjunction with the 4-year complimentary roadside assistance available on new models; older Audi owners should have a hacksaw ready to sacrifice a limb in payment.