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Ford wants to be a player in this field and has announced that early this year, it will open a new dedicated research lab in Silicon Valley. The premise behind this new facility is to create uncompromised personal mobility experiences.
Being in Silicon Valley, Ford believes it can make better ties with established and start-up tech firms, plus link-up with area universities like Stanford.
“Ford has an incredible heritage of driving innovation in the transportation and manufacturing sectors during the past 107 years,” said Paul Mascarenas, Ford chief technical officer and vice president of Research and Innovation. “Now it’s time to prepare for the next 100 years, ushering in a new era of collaboration and finding new partners to help us transform what it means to be an automaker.”
This new lab, which will be opened in the San Francisco Bay area will serve as a hub for all of Ford’s new technologies. Ford has in recent years developed products like MyKey, SYNC, EcoBoost and Inflatable Rear Seat Belts. By being in such a tech savvy location, what will Ford come out with next?
“Silicon Valley represents a deep and dynamic technology neighborhood and is far from Dearborn,” said K. Venkatesh Prasad, senior technical leader for open innovation with Ford Research and Innovation. “With so many opportunities and so much potential, our new lab will allow us to scout new technologies and partners in their own environment and continue our expansion beyond the traditional automaker mindset to drive innovation for a better mobility experience.”
Their goal is to integrate mobility with technology in everyday life, and bring that experience to millions of customers around the world.
For nearly two decades, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution (more commonly known as just the ‘Evo’) has been the benchmark sports sedan around the world. It might have arrived a bit late in the American market, only going on sale in 2003 with the Evo VIII model, but it has well-established itself as a giant killer in the industry and is currently the only Mitsubishi product with an enthusiasts following.
However, earlier in the year there were rumors that the Evo might get killed off. Thankfully, those are not true but according to company insiders, a plug-in hybrid Evo will be launched within three-years time.
It is believed that the hybrid Evo will make do with a diesel-electric combination to further cut down on its environmental footprint. But since diesel is not very popular in markets like Japan and America, it might also very well be available with a gasoline-electric system. So the next Evo might offer different mechanical specifications for different markets.
The new Evo will also get an updated version of Mitsubishi’s S-WAC all-wheel drive system for even better handling, and like the current model, will be the halo model for the company.
According to Mercedes-Benz, the next generation S-Class, when it goes on sale late next year, will strengthen its position as one of the world’s best luxury sedans, retaining not only the luxury and quality buyers expect, but also adding new features and technology to make it even more capable and efficient.
The new S-Class will be built off a version of Mercedes’ modular rear-wheel drive architecture, already used on the current E-Class and will boast greater use of aluminum in order to save weight, including the body panels and suspension. Speaking of the latter, it will also incorporate Mercedes’ Magic Ride control system, which uses cameras to detect road conditions and alter spring and shock rates in order to maintain a desired level of ride comfort, without sacrificing handling (fast reacting airbags at each corner are designed to eliminate body roll during cornering).
Engines will include a range of diesels, as well as hybrid powertrains and conventional gas engines. In Europe the 250 CDI and 350 CDI diesels will likely remain, joined by S300 and S400 BlueTec hybrids which mate a 2.1-liter four-cylinder and 3.0-liter V6 oil burning engines respectively with an electric motor. Higher up the scale there will also be S500 V8 gas and S600 V12 models, both designed to meet ultra stringent 2015 EU6 regulations (no word yet on which powertrains will make it to the US, though the V8 and V12s are probably the most likely candidates, at least in the short term).
Further aiding fuel efficiency is a 9-speed automatic transmission, a development of the current 7G-Tronic, though whether it will be standard on all models, especially the lower priced diesels remains to be seen.
Mercedes will offer five different body configurations for the upcoming S-Class, a regular, short wheelbase four-door sedan, two long wheelbase derivatives, including an extra long Pullman, plus a coupe (which replaces the current CL) and a cabrio, marking the first time since the 1971 W111 280 SE 3.5, that Mercedes has offered an open top S-class model.
In terms of styling, the 2013 S-Class is said to break away from the current “Gothic” look in favor of a more “contemporary appearance .” Translated, that likely means a bolder grille, more defined character lines, plus roofline with more pronounced curvature, think CLS meets the F800 Style concept (shown above). Inside, the new S-Class is rumored to set new standards in terms of quality and ergonomics and will likely be considerably cleaner, with a free standing centrally mounted multi-media screen, plus a greater use of more natural materials for trim, such as marine inspired wood and aluminum.
Mazda spoke about new gasoline engines during a recent presentation, and also touched on the possibility of offering a clever new diesel engine to our market, but they didn’t mention anything about hybrids.
But just because they didn’t say anything, doesn’t mean they aren’t working on one. According to some spy photo’s circulating the web, it is working on a hybrid version of the Mazda6. However, rather than spend huge amounts of money on developing their own bespoke hybrid system, Mazda has signed a licensing agreement with Toyota over the use of its hybrid tech.
The Mazda6 hybrid test mule confirms its Toyota roots as the gear-lever in these prototypes have been lifted out of the Prius. Mazda says that while the technology is borrowed, the tuning will be all Mazda’s own, so the drive feel will be unique to them.
Will the hybrid model have an affect on Mazda’s plans to launch diesel models in North America? We hope not.
[Source: Car and Driver]
Expand the idea to a full-size vehicle, and the results are certainly thrilling. So far, all fully-electric vehicles have had a drawback, their single-speed gearbox, which tend to neuter the driving experience.
No one has been able to adopt a multi-speed gearbox to work reliably with an electric motor, but Henrik Fisker is working on just that for his Karma plug-in hybrid sedan.
Fisker believes he has a solution, which if it works reliably, would offer Karma drivers “Veyron levels of performance.” That means that the four-door sedan could accelerate from 0-60 mph in under 3-seconds.
No timeline has been given as to when this system will become available, but with such impressive performance figures, we can hardly wait.
Scary? Perhaps. But according to Volvo’s Senior Safety Engineer Thomas Broberg, the idea of a car train, where a lead vehicle sets the pace and speed and other cars communicate with it from behind will be a reality, at least on European roads by the end of the decade.
Broberg says that closed circuit tests have already proved successful with two cars working together in a car train format; Volvo says field trials are set to be conducted in Sweden later this year.
“Car trains allow a driver to use their time better, drive safer, reduce congestion and improve the environment,” the engineer said. “You’re always following another car, so why not let the driving be done by someone else?”
Broberg also believes that car trains are a further step towards fully autonomous cars but recognizes from a technical point of view, the concept is tremendously challenging, not mention legally and socially hard to swallow for most.
Yet Volvo is taking radical steps, setting a lofty goal of nobody dying in any of its cars by 2020, but says it “needs to understand the mechanisms about how people think,” in order to get there.
Broberg also believes that if Volvo could understand how people think in the seconds before an accident, it could potentially change accident situations from critical to non critical.
With more ambitious sales targets now in the works for Volvo, following its purchase by Chinese automaker Geely, the company has the potential to acquire more crash safety data from more of its cars in a shorter time period, speeding up research and development on future safety programs.