Tuesday, May 31, 2011

News from Volvo: Tech Progress and Historical Homage

Cutting the Cord: Wireless Charging Brought to You by Volvo
Volvo is making it easier than ever to drive green by removing the term 'plug-in' from the electric car equation. The technology uses inductive charging to wirelessly power the Volvo C30 Electric's 20kWh battery.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="549" caption="Volvo redefines 'hands-free' with its wireless charging system designed for the Volvo C30 Electric."][/caption]

Volvo Celebrates Classic P1800's 50th Birthday
Turning 50 this year, the Volvo P1800 has come a long way for a car that was never even intended for mass production. Launched in 1961, originally intended for a niche market, the P1800 exceeded expectations and became known as the 'most internationally renowned car ever.' The sporty model can partly attribute its fame to the British television series "The Saint" that starred Roger Moore alongside the iconic Volvo.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="581" caption="1964 version of Volvo's P1800, an iconic design named one of the '100 Coolest Cars in History' by Automobile Magazine."][/caption]

Volvo Creating Car-tailing Driverless Technology
Volvo is developing technology so your car can essentially drive itself as it plays 'follow the leader' with the car it is tailing. What do you think about this technology? Will automated driving mean improved safety and decrease driving stress or does it represent the demise of automotive independence? Would you feel comfortable with a car that drives itself?

Other stories of interest:
World's Highest Mileage Car: Volvo P1800
Volvo's Blind Spot Elimination
Volvo Wins Emergency Brake System Award
Volvo V60 Earns Top Safety Rating

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Special-Edition 35th Anniversary Volkswagen Golf GTI

1976: The year of America's Bicentennial, Rocky and the $.60 gallon of gasoline. For Volkswagen enthusiasts however, 1976 stands out for another reason.

It was the year Volkswagen introduced the world to the Golf GTI; the first true hot hatch, representing a contemporary shift in the automotive industry.

To celebrate the Golf GTI's 35th Anniversary, Volkswagen will release a special-edition Golf. The re-designed GTI has aggressive design elements, while maintaining a subtle homage to the classic '76 model.

The VW GTI has been hailed as the best in its class for the past 35 years and is likely to stay there with a little help from the special-edition GTI's fresh features including a new front-end bumper, '35' badges adorning the front wings and 18-inch alloy wheels.  The re-designed hot hatch is also beautiful on the inside with its optimal lateral support sport seats, unique leather/fabric upholstery and a gearshift lever designed in the fashion of a golf ball.

Many of  the '35' edition's features suggest a subtle dark color scheme, including LED daytime running lights with a black-tinted background, darkened trunk and rear-side windows and black exterior mirror casings.

Volkswagen's inimitable sports range has also received quite an extensive internal makeover. The GTI's style update is accompanied by a power boost of 235bhp, a 25hp upgrade from the standard GTI. The extra horsepower means that the VW Golf GTI will be the most powerful GTI to ever be produced - not too shabby for a 35th birthday.

The new VW Golf GTI will make its world debut at the famous Worthersee GTI event in Germany during the first week of June.


[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="475" caption="Volkswagen's special-edition Golf GTI, a refreshingly modern take on a car that shook up the auto world when it debuted in 1976."][/caption]

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Taking Luxury to New Heights: Mercedes-Benz Helicopter

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="530" caption="The Mercedes-Benz helicopter was designed in the actual Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Studio in Como, Italy."]Mercedes-Benz helicopter[/caption]

Established as the ultimate luxury brand of the automotive world, Mercedes-Benz has now set its sights a little higher, and we're not speaking just figuratively. The high-end brand is taking its luxury aesthetic to new heights with the production of its very own helicopter.

For Mercedes-Benz, it was an easy transition into the world of personal air transport, thanks to their "Mercedes-Benz style" collaboration with Eurocopter. The company shared Mercedes-Benz designers, along with the company's name and style. The result of this partnership, the  EC145, was given a world premiere this week at the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibit (EBACE) .

The EC145 helicopter resembles the Mercedes-Benz S-class with familiar design elements such as wood trim, plush leather seats, soft-touch plastics and ambient cabin lighting. The helicopter holds a maximum number of 8 passengers. However, its seats are set conveniently on rails, allowing for a number of different seating configurations.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="576" caption="With its flexible seating layout, the helicopter's interior maintains a notable balance between beautiful and practical."][/caption]

Mercedes-Benz has also recently released a high-end bicycle collection. What other types of products would you like to see be made in the Mercedes-Benz style?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Volkswagen's New Car-Sharing Program

Car-sharing programs have caught on in a big way throughout Europe and now Volkswagen is getting in on the communal car business.

Targeted at urbanites who need a car only on infrequent occasions, the new program 'Quicar' will be in Hannover, Germany. Initially the program will have 200 Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion vehicles available with 50 pick-up/drop-off locations. However, eventually there will be 100 locations and the vehicles involved will also include the VW Caddy and VW Beetle.

For Volkswagen, the program could act as a sort of extended test drive initiative. They are hoping that the first time that many people experience driving an electric car will be behind the wheel of a Volkswagen thanks to 'Quicar.' Therefore, Volkswagen expects their car-sharing service will be a consumer-driven catalyst for the electric car movement.

The Golf BlueMotion cars are a natural choice for this kind of program because of their eco-efficient features: 1.6 TDI diesel engine with an average fuel consumption of 62mpg and CO2 emissions of 99g/km and brake energy regeneration. In fact, VW's Golf BlueMotion holds several green car awards, including the title of Green Car of the Year.

Volkswagen's car-sharing service is made extremely convenient with the ability to book your temporary Volkswagen via the Internet, application or call center as close as 5 minutes before you need to drive off in one. The vehicle is unlocked by scanning a chip card and the driver must input an authorization PIN on the vehicle's touch screen before using the ignition key.

'Quicar' is a true testament to Volkswagen's devotion to upholding the driver-centric VW experience.  The vehicle you rent may be temporary, but VW still manages to maintain your individualized driving experience with a personalized SD memory card that saves your custom destinations, routes and even your music library.

Volkswagen car-sharing

Do you think car-sharing programs should be put to use in America? Would you use a car-sharing program like this if one was available for you?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Michigan Legend to Auction Original General Lee Dodge Charger

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="560" caption="Jalen Rose, part of University of Michigan's Fab Five and the NBA, has owned his original 1969 Dodge Charger General Lee since 2001."][/caption]

Jalen Rose has been part of the legendary 'Fab Five' at the University of Michigan, spent 13 years in the NBA and is an analyst for ESPN. Now Rose, a Detroit native, can add philanthropist to that list with his Jalen Rose Leadership Academy.

Rose's 1969 Dodge Charger, one of the last original General Lee Dodge Chargers from the popular television show "Dukes of Hazzard" will be auctioned off to benefit the charter school set to open this fall on the Northwest side of Detroit. The car will be sold as part of a five-day eBay Motors auction beginning May 22 with a starting bid of $45,000.

Rose customized his 1969 Dodge Charger by removing the Confederate flag and altering the '01' to his Michigan basketball number '05.' The car also has autographs with personalized messages by Rose and "Hazzard" actor John Schneider.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Eco-friendly News from Volvo

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="‘Every Drop Counts’ ad campaign for Volvo’s commercial truck division promotes the trucks’ minimal impact on the environment."]Volvo's 'Every Drop Counts'[/caption]

  • Volvo 'Every Drop Counts' Campaign

Volvo is tooting its own horn, so to speak, with the company's latest advertising campaign concentrated on its commercial truck fleet. This campaign includes an 'Every Drop Counts' web site concentrating on the 30% fuel savings for its Heavy Hybrid trucks and the 7% resulting from the company's innovative "IShift" automatic transmissions.

  • Volvo Named 'Most Improved for Carbon Emissions'

Volvo has claimed the top spot in the JATO Top 20 as the 'Most Improved for Carbon Emissions' in their comprehensive list honoring car companies who have improved their carbon emission output.

With its 'DRIVe Towards Zero' initiative, Volvo has set a high standard for itself to develop cars completely free of harmful exhaust emissions and carbon dioxide. The company's high-efficiency diesel models are a product of that high standard with impressively low CO2 emissions. Volvo also hopes to produce plug-in hybrids by 2012.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Volkswagen News Breakdown

Volkswagen has such an extraordinary windfall of interesting new updates this month that we thought it would be best to combine them all into one big VW breakdown.

  • Volkswagen and Microsoft to Make Entertainment Game-Changer

Volkswagen and Microsoft are joining forces and the result may just be the demise of the traditional in-car DVD entertainment system. The technology they are developing would allow large media files to be easily transferred from any portable device directly into your in-car television. Simultaneously, VW is working on a new multimedia platform giving car owners a wider range of infotainment options.

  • Volkswagen, MIT Developing 3D Dashboard Navigation

Another joint venture is happening between Volkswagen and MIT with the development of a 3D navigation concept. The AIDA Project, (Affective, Intelligent Driving Agent) will display a 3D map on the unoccupied space on top of your dashboard. Hand gestures will control the various options: destination information, route guidance and many others.


  • Volkswagen to Produce Hybrid Plug-ins by 2013

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="531" caption="260 MPG Volkswagen XL1 Concept Plug-in Car"][/caption]

This week at the Vienna Motor Symposium, VW CEO Martin Winterkorn announced that Volkswagen willl be producing hybrid vehicles by 2013. The specific vehicles that will receive the hybrid makeover were not specified, however, earlier this year at the Qatar auto show, Volkswagen showed off the flashy XL1 plug-in concept car that boasts an impressive 260 MPG.

  • 'Steel Drake' Volkswagen Sports Car Concept

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="516" caption="This Volkswagen Sports Car Concept is the brain-child of Kyrgyzstanian graphic designer 'Steel Drake.'"][/caption]

Reminiscent of the Audi R8, the new Volkswagen sports car concept is the hottest, and most contentious topic in the VW stratosphere. 'Steel Drake' a graphic designer from Kyrgyzstan is the mastermind behind this dazzling concept. Many people, however, are decrying its non-conventional design features as not being in accordance with VW's style.

What do you think? Is it too extreme for Volkswagen's classic design portfolio or just the right amount of sleek sophistication to make it VW-worthy?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Chrysler's 'Road to Literacy' Program

Chrysler is engaging in some significant corporate responsibility that will put books straight into the hands of America's schoolchildren. The automaker is dedicated to promoting literacy and has pledged to donate 150,000 Scholastic books with its 'Road to Literacy' program.

When you test drive a 2011 Chrysler Town & Country Minivan from now until July 1st, Chrysler will donate 5 books to a school of your choice and 5 to a school in need.

Chrysler Town & Country

For further details on the program and to promote it, become a Facebook fan of Chrysler Town & Country and check out their 'DonateBooks' Facebook application tab.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dodge Ram Long-Hauler Pickup Concept

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="604" caption="This Ram Long-Hauler concept is based on the Class 5 Ram 5500 Crew Cab"][/caption]

Chrysler's latest concept takes the idea of a pickup truck and then supersizes it.

The new Dodge Ram concept is a full 24 feet of long-hauling power complete with a six-cylinder, 6.7 high output Cummins Turbo Diesel engine and six-speed Aisin AS68RC automatic transmission.

Designed for long-haul trips, this Dodge truck has a mid-ship fuel tank and full Kelderman air suspension. It has a 170 gallon fuel capacity, a result of possessing a second frame-mounted tank and a third (optional) bed-mounted auxiliary tank.

Long-Hauler by the numbers:

  • 24 ft long

  • 9,300 lbs total weight

  • 197.4 inch extended wheel base

  • 19.5 inch Alcoa aluminum wheels

  • 37,500 lbs maximum Gross Combined Weight Rating

  • 170 gallons fuel capacity

  • 6 cylinder diesel engine

  • 800 lb-ft torque

The more luxury-oriented features included in the mega cab passenger compartment are leather seats, a DVD player with overhead screen, rear center console with refrigerator, cup holders and tray tables, a safe, wi-fi capability and a laptop storage area.

The concept model will be toured around America for the next 8 months in order for Chrysler to gauge the public's opinion. What do you think of the long-hauler?