Monthly Archives: January 2013

Honda adding ‘Eyes Free’ Siri integration in some 2013 cars

(Credit: Apple)

Automaker Honda today said it plans to integrate Apple’s Siri voice assistant in some of its upcoming Honda and Acura vehicles.

On the list is the 2013 Honda Accord, and two Acura models, the 2013 RDX and ILX.

The feature in question is Siri’s “Eyes Free” mode, a way to use Apple’s iOS voice assistant without having to rely on visual cues, or interact with on-screen menus. The functionality, which was introduced at last year’s WWDC, works over Bluetooth and connects through Honda’s HandsFreeLink setup just like other mobile phones.

From Apple’s own description:

With the Eyes Free feature, ask Siri to call people, select and play music, hear and compose text messages, use Maps and get directions, read your notifications, find calendar information, add reminders, and more.

Honda is the latest company to offer integration with Apple’s software. Last November Chevrolet announced plans to include the feature in its Spark and Sonic automobiles.

Siri is now available on all of Apple’s portable products, short of some iPod models, and its Mac computers. The feature requires an active Internet connection t… [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Ford, Mercedes-Benz, and Nissan target 2017 for fuel cell vehicles

The Mercedes-Benz F-Cell is a fuel cell vehicle based on the B-class platform.

(Credit: Mercedes-Benz)

It must be a new season of sharing as major automakers sign agreements to co-develop fuel cell technology. Last week Toyota and BMW said they would work together on a fuel cell system, while today Ford, Daimler, and Renault-Nissan announced they would pool research into fuel cell technology. In its joint press release, Ford, Daimler, and Renault-Nissan said they would produce fuel cell vehicles in 2017.

All of these companies have been working on the technology, and some have demonstrated prototype vehicles. Mercedes-Benz, part of Daimler, \has been testing multiple generations of its F-Cell fuel cell vehicle, and currently runs a leasing program for the vehicles in Los Angeles, helping it gather real-world usage data.

The Toyota-BMW agreement covers the joint development of a fuel cell stack, hydrogen tank, and electric motor for a car. The companies will also work on new lithium-air battery technology, with the goal of greatly increasing the energy density of electric vehicle batteries.

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McLaren proves P1 concept car has an engine

In this video released by McLaren Automotive, we see the P1 concept car, originally unveiled at the 2012 Paris Motor Show, undergoing track testing.

The car sports typical camouflage for models under development, somewhat odd considering the earlier reveal of the concept. One key difference between what was seen at Paris and the model in the video is a big wing sitting on the back of the car. The wing approximates the shape of the P1 at the rear, so could possibly be retractable, although its height would argue otherwise.

As of this posting, McLaren had not specified an engine for the P1, although the testing footage certainly argues that the question has been settled. Most likely, the P1 uses a similar twin turbo 3.8-liter V-8 as the one in the current MP4-12C model. The current engine produces 616 horsepower, but may get a boost in the newer car.

[Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

This Android traffic app starts fast, but eventually leaves you stranded

The latest update to the Inrix Traffic app for Android is a fairly large one. The app gets a visual refresh that makes use of Android’s Holo design language. An updated and clearer Places screen makes it easier for drivers to estimate travel times and share those times with others.

Inrix is, simply, a traffic app. It will let you know how much traffic you’ll encounter on your way home and to work, but it won’t actually give you directions as to how you’ll get there. Can such an app be useful? Let’s take a closer look at Inrix Traffic for Android and find out.

What does it do? When you fire up the Inrix app, you’ll be taken to the Places screen. Here you’ll find estimated drive times for preset Home and Work destinations that can be set in one of the app’s settings menus. Each of the destinations has two estimates for the arrival time and driving time for two potential routes.

The Places screen is where you'll find travel time estimates for Home and Work.

(Credit: Screenshot by Antuan Goodwin/CNET)

Clicking a Share icon to the left of each drive time allows the users to share the route and travel estimate with any of their contacts via e-mail or text message. Additionally, users can set a favorite e-mail or phone number for messaging for sharing to via the resulting Share menu.

At the bottom of the Places screen are icons that take the user to a Scorecard scre… [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Most powerful Rolls-Royce yet teased for Geneva debut

(Credit: Rolls-Royce)

Rolls-Royce, a brand known for its excessively luxurious vehicles, is on the cusp of unveiling a third nameplate to its stable of of vehicles. It’s called the Wraith and, according to Rolls, it will be the “most dynamic and powerful Rolls-Royce in history.”

The Wraith will be the seventh model in the automaker’s current lineup, if you count the drophead, coupe, and extended-wheelbase variants of the Phantom and Ghost as separate models. The newest Rolls appears to be a two-door coupe (no trademark, rear-hinged coach doors here) with a fastback-style roofline that flows from the base of the A-pillar all the way to the end of the rear decklid. Such a roofline lays the rear glass nearly parallel to the ground, so the Wraith likely features liftback access to the rear storage in a manner similar to the Audi A7.

This smoky Spirit of Ecstasy accompanied the announcement of the spookily named Rolls-Royce Wraith.

(Credit: Rolls-Royce)

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Top car tech from CES and the Detroit auto show: CNET On Cars Episode 10

Top car tech from CES and the Detroit auto show: CNET On Cars Ep. 10

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We open the year with a double header from what I think are the two biggest car events in the U.S. each year: The Consumer Electronics Show and the North American International Auto show in Detroit. The latter makes total sense in a show like this, but CES has also taken its ranks as a major moment for car tech. I mean, … [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

2014 Corvette Stingray debuts with rev-matching 7-speed

Chevrolet revives the 'Stingray' moniker for the 2014 Corvette coupe.

(Credit: Chevrolet)

DETROIT–Chevrolet has pulled the covers back on what is easily the most hotly anticipated (and worst-kept secret) of the 2013 Detroit auto show: the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.

Only three Corvette models have ever borne the name Stingray: the mid-’60s second-generation model, the third-generation car produced through the ’70s and into the ’80s (arguably the most iconic), and now the seventh-generation (C7) 2014 model. Chevrolet states that it’s reviving the name for the 2014 model year because it is the best ‘Vette ever. Well, it’s not like Chevy would claim anything less of its newest halo car, but the automaker does seem to have the numbers to back it up.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray debuts in Detroit (photos)

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Efficiency is key at the 2013 Detroit auto show (roundup)

The 2013 North American International Auto Show–simply, the Detroit auto show for those familiar–was the stage for quite a few debuts that ran the gamut of vehicle types, classes, and feasibility. Chevrolet pulled the wraps off of the next great American supercar, a dueling pair of luxury sedans were debuted by Infiniti and Lexus, Ford showed off a very thinly veiled look at the future of one of the best selling vehicles in the world, and glossy concept sedans and crossovers could be found around every corner.

Among this wide range of vehicles, one theme was shared: fuel efficiency. Of course, it’s no surprise that the next generation of vehicles will need to sip less fuel than the last, but we found the variety of fuel-saving techniques for these concepts and production cars to be almost as interesting as the cars themselves. We’ve rounded up a few highlight below:


Ford Atlas Concept

(Credit: Josh Miller/CNET)

Ford Atlas concept Giving us an early peek at the future of the Ford F-Series pickup, the Atlas concept doesn’t deviate much from Ford’s established formula–it doesn’t have to, Ford’s large pickups are among the best selling vehicles of all time. Rather than focus on more muscle, the automaker has taken a look at improving efficiency wi… [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

VW shows off new hybrid system, engine, in Detroit

VW used this mild-looking Passat sedan to showcase its new engine, a 1.8-liter producing 250 horsepower.

(Credit: Wayne Cunningham/CNET)

Volkswagen has been much better known for its high mileage diesel models than hybrids. Yet at the 2013 Detroit auto show, VW showed a concept featuring a new transmission which will let it turn almost any car in its line-up into a hybrid. The company also showed a new, more efficient direct injection 1.8-liter engine making 250 horsepower.

The CrossBlue concept, a diesel hybrid, relies on what VW board member Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg referred to as an eDSG in an interview with CNET. The eDSG is a new version of VW’s Dual Shift Gearbox (DSG), a transmission with two computer-controlled clutches, that incorporates an electric motor for hybrid car operation.

The transmission includes six fixed gears, and the electric motor provides torque to turn the driveshaft. Combining the electric motor with the transmission makes for a more easily implemented component. VW’s recently released Jetta Hybrid uses a six speed DSG and a separate electric motor.

Dr. Hackenberg said that the eDSG would fit into any VW model using the company’s MQB platform, which means every model except the Touareg. VW could offer almost any of its models as a hybrid by swapping the eD… [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

2104 Corvette Stingray debuts with rev-matching 7-speed

Chevrolet revives the 'Stingray' moniker for the 2014 Corvette coupe.

(Credit: Chevrolet)

DETROIT, MI — Chevrolet has pulled the covers back on what is easily the most hotly anticipated (and worst-kept secret) of the 2013 Detroit Auto Show: the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.

Only three Corvette models have ever bore the name Stingray: the mid-60s second-generation model, the third-generation car produced through the 70s and into the 80s (arguably the most iconic), and now the seventh-generation (C7) 2014 model. Chevrolet that it’s reviving the name for the 2014 model year because it is the best ‘Vette ever. Well, it’s not like Chevy would claim anything less of its newest halo car, but the automaker does seem to have the numbers to back it up.

The new 6.2-liter, direct-injected V-8 will make an estimated 450 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque. The automaker is estimating a 0-60 time under four seconds and over 1G of cornering grip. Making use of cylinder deactivation technology, Chevrolet is also claiming better fuel economy that any generation of Corvette before it.

Power flows through an seven-speed manual transmission that uses an Active Rev Matching technology similar to that of the Nissan 370Z’s. As the driver moves the shift lever into a gear, the ‘Vette’s computer blips the throttle to match the wheel speed for a smooth ratio change when the … [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET