To say that Honda has fallen behind the times in terms of automotive creativity is about as obvious as saying Fiat and Mini are overusing their respective flagship models. While nearly every other automaker is creating numerous ways to safely use your smartphone in the car and also using it to connect to cool things like Pandora radio, Facebook, and whatever other online stuff you love, Honda has been delivering the stats quo for years, sans adding light smartphone connectivity in the 2012 CR-V.
Finally, Honda has decided to get with the times and is introducing HondaLink, which is essentially a Ford Sync copycat. Then again, aren’t all of the modern connectivity systems just copying Ford’s innovative idea?
This new HondaLink system will debut in the 2013 Honda Accord and allows its user to do things like connect to Aha radio, tether and control a smartphone, listen to news, text message via speech, and even hear twitter and Facebook feeds over their audio system.
In reality, this system is actually using technology that Ford has been for the past half century, but the fact that Honda finally unburied its head and realized that it is sub-par is a miracle in itself. Maybe this new system can help Honda recoup some of the sales it has been losing to more innovative companies, like Hyundai and Kia, and earn some of its buyers back.
To help us better understand the system, Honda released a quick video describing its features, which you can see above. Click past the jump to check out Honda’s full presser on HondaLink.
As the global recession rolls around the Earth, automakers everywhere are starting to hit their breaking points. There have already been talks of Ford and Chevy pulling out of Europe and recently, Ford announced that it was cutting 15 percent of job in Australia due to poor sales.
On the heels of that announcement comes a report from International Business Times that claims Ford is simply ramping up to end its Australia-based manufacturing altogether. The consensus is that Ford of Australia will cease production in the Outback by 2016.
Now, the Ford pull-out from Australia, much like the potential pull-out from Europe, does not mean there won’t be any Fords sold there. This simply means that the Australia-built fords, like the Territory and the fairly bad-ass Falcon sedan, will no longer exist. In their place will likely be imported Fusions and Explorers, maybe bearing different names.
Slow sales are not the only cause to Australia’s No. 3 automaker pulling out, the enactment of tough-to-meet Euro 5 emission standards are likely the straw that broke Ford’s back. Both the Falcon and Territory cannot meet these stringent regulations without expensive revisions to the driveline.
Ford has yet to make any announcement regarding its Outback exit, but it looks to be a certainty. We’ll update you if Ford finally announces this exit.
Smart TVs, as well as the Xbox Kinect, PlayStation Move, and the Nintendo Wii have already mastered the art of taking hand and body gestures, and translating them into functions. Now it looks as if this same technology may make it to the automotive realm.
Rumors began swirling a few months ago when Microsoft placed a help wanted ad that alluded to the use of body movements for various automobile controls. Now there is actually a little confirmation that at least one company is actually working on this technology. Harmon, creator of automotive audio systems and other aftermarket electronics, released a concept car that actually uses various body motions to control different features.
You want to turn the radio on, simply wink, adjusting the volume is as easy as tilting your head slightly. You can even skip tracks on a CD or change stations on the radio by tapping your hand on the steering wheel. Oh, and if you want to make a Bluetooth hands-free phone call, just make the universal hand signal for a telephone – you know, thumb to the ear with your pinky extended.
This technology isn’t completely new, as Cadillac’s CUE system uses some of this technology, but you still have to contact the screen, much like a Smartphone or tablet. The full use of gestures and infrared sensors to control a car’s various features is supposed to help avoid driver distraction by eliminating the need to search for buttons to press or knobs to turn.
Where we see this failing is the fact that the learning curve on most gesture-based systems is typically very steep and requires a ton of memorization. We can see new owners reaching for their car’s manual to see how to turn up the volume and putting their car into a ditch.
To say the least, this will definitely require some very intense planning to accomplish. Harman claims that the system should be ready for production in about two to three years.
We use the Interwebz for all sorts of really cool things. We can shop for groceries, buy Christmas presents, watch movies, stalk people on Facebook, etc. There has always been one thing that we could not do, though, and that is buy a car. Sure, you can add features and order a car until you’re blue in the face, but ultimately, you are still stuck with whatever the dealer has available – or can make a profit on.
Well, BMW is looking to change your car buying experience altogether with a new system that will allow you to actually buy cars online, according to Bloomberg. BMW will start this system with its i-Series, which has been whittled down to just the i8 and i3, in an attempt to offset high production costs.
This will, of course, start off as just an experiment and grow from there. BMW also has to get a little fancy with how it pulls this off in the U.S., as most states forbid manufacturers from selling directly to buyers (strange law). This will likely include the introduction of third-party sales sites that handle the selling and financing of the vehicles for a much lesser rate than paying a sales person commission.
One other hurdle is how to handle the test drive part, but Tesla has already shown us how to do that: set up a few small retail shops that have a few examples of each model and pay the employees a salary just to take prospective buyers on test drives. Then again, we have doubts about Tesla’s commission-less sales actually working out, but it is a possibility, especially with the end sales occurring online.
Just think... No more greedy F&I guy with his 3-inch-thick gold chain and massive gold rings trying to sell you some outlandish service package that really doesn’t cover anything or costs more than servicing the car normally. What a wonderful concept!
With all of our past Photo of the Week images simply being pictures of stationary cars, we thought this week we’d bring you something even more special. The following picture taken by Bruno Terena definitely meets those prerequisites.
The following image was captured in Serra do Rio do Rastro, Brazil back in 2010 where Rhys Millen took to the mountainous roads in one of many promotional activities for his sponsor, Red Bull.
Now you may be asking yourself as to what separates this drifting photo from the thousands of others circling the net? Well, let me describe the reasons. First, it’s very rare that one will stumble upon a drifting photo actually captured out in the wilderness rather than a ‘drifting arena’ in the middle of a bustling city. Second, we absolutely adore how this image manages to capture both the Hyundai Genesis drifter and the stunning backdrop in one frame.
Finally, the awesome smoke trail following the Genesis up the mountain and around the hairpin in the center of the photo also played a part in our selection for this weeks’ Photo of the Week.
Be sure to check out Terena’s flickr account for more great photographs!
About 15 months ago, Renault was neck-deep in an espionage case that involved three executives allegedly selling electric vehicle information to China and funneling money into illegal accounts. It later came out, following a French investigation into the firing of the three executives, that the executives were not involved in industrial espionage and that they were wrongfully terminated.
Renault found out exactly what crow tasted like, as they compensated the fired executives for lost salary and defamation, but apparently there was a little leftover crow, as 15 months after this all took place, the company’s COO, Patrick Pelata, has submitted his resignation. This isn’t the first time Paleta has submitted a resignation, as he entered one shortly after the case went sour, but Renault’s CEO, Carlos Ghosn, rejected the resignation. Renault accepted the resignation, but instead of outright losing Pelata, Renault placed him in an advisory role in the Nissan-Renault Alliance.
This time, however, the resignation will stick, as Renault has announced that effective August 16th, Paleta will step down from his post in the alliance. According to reports, there is no information on where Pelata will land, but we are certain he will find a new home, despite the false espionage case.
We’ll let you know where he ends up as soon as we find out.
After Jeremy Clarkson confirmed a few months ago that Top Gear U.K. wouldn’t be returning until 2013, we had all our hopes rested on the USA version to deliver our Top Gear fix. Thankfully, they’ve come through for us, recently confirming that the third series of Top Gear USA will hit American screens on August 14 at 9pm eastern time.
Six episodes will air in the lead up to 2013, and after the New Year, a further 10 episodes will conclude the third season, totaling 16 episodes all together.
Co-presenter Rutledge Wood confirmed the news recently via his Twitter account stating “So happy it’s out! #TopGear on@HistoryChannel returns Aug 14th 9pm! 6 New shows, then 10 more after new year! You guys will love them!”
We have no idea what the trio of presenters have planned for us this time around, but it’s sure to be an epic season full of all the crazy adventures that the second half of the second season delivered. Add to that the always enjoyable segments of Big Star Small Car and new performance tests, and there’s no question that season 3 of Top Gear USA should be the best yet.
Are you as excited about this news as us, or is Top Gear USA simply not your cup of tea?
The Europeans get all of the cool stuff first, as BMW allows them to rent various BMWs, including M-Series models, hourly, daily, or weekly, as opposed to shelling out the $40,000+ required to buy one. Well, after successfully testing in the Euro market, BMW is finally bringing this system, called OnDemand, to the U.S.
Initially, the U.S. Launch will be isolated to only one dealership, BMW of Manhattan, and to one model, the 328i. BMW of Manhattan will offer up a total of 100 328is for people to rent to impress their boss, friends, or date. This system is also great for fleet companies deciding if BMW is right for them or prospective retain customers looking to take an extended test drive prior to lumping down thousands of dollars. It is pretty safe to assume that given this is the initial launch is in Manhattan, booking a rental 328i won’t be as simple as booking a Taurus from your local Avis dealer.
Given this is all successful, we will see the available lineup slowly expand. Some of the models to be added to the available rentals include the new 7-Series, X5, X6, M3, and even the M5. According to the report, however, to get premium rides, like the M3 and M5, the renter has to go through a more rigorous qualification process.
Pricing for renting the initial 328i will not be known until about August, but you can rest assured that it will not be a $20 per day rental and we bet insurance is not optional. We’ll update you once pricing is released on this new system.
In addition to the stunning scenery which makes the Isle of Man the cold paradise it is, the largely unrestricted roads also act as a beacon to all car and motorcycle enthusiasts alike, who travel on mass to the famous island and its even more-famous roads every year.
In the latest episode of The Downshift, Jason Cammisa was lucky enough to be thrown the keys to the extremely popular Subaru BRZ, which recently sold out in Australia.
In addition to this, a rally prepped BRZ is also featured in the relatively short video where former WRC winner Mark Higgins takes Cammisa on a trip through the small island’s most exciting roads.
Even though the video is just 4:50 long, the producers have managed to cram a great deal of detail into the short space of time and as a result, it’s definitely an ideal way to spend five minutes of your time.
Check it out!
The past few months haven’t been easy for Spyker. After ending its affiliations with Saab, and changing its name back from Swedish Automobile to Spyker, the company fell on hard times. CEO Victor Muller confirmed a few months ago that investors were needed and once found, production could substantially increase.
Unfortunately, those investors never materialized and, as a result, the economic viability of Spyker has continued on its downward spiral. Spyker was recently in serious investment talks with CPP Global Holdings and North Street Capital, but both firms have gone quiet in the past few months and Spyker’s future is looking very bleak yet again.
De Telegraaf recently reported that Spyker Cars posted a net profit of $154 million in just the first 6 months of the year and consequently, one would think that finding a large investor would be a walk in the park. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
In saying that, however, Victor Muller’s statement that the company is “virtually debt free” doesn’t leave us with a great deal of confidence, as it’s clear that the firm’s undisclosed debt levels are dissuading investors from picking up the exclusive marque.
Despite this news, production of the Spyker C8 Aileron continues albeit at a slower pace.