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One feature that is growing in popularity on many vehicles available today is in-car web connectivity. Several automakers are giving cars the ability to be connected to 4G networks and share that connectivity with people in the car. the idea is to give passengers access to the web and entertainment options while they travel.
Audi is offering a 4G LTE connectivity option in its new 2015 A3 sedan. It is teaming up with AT&T for service for the car and details on the mobile connection plans have been announced. The service will be available with AT&T in North America.
AT&T will offer two plans according to reports. One of the plans is a six-month offering with 5GB of data. The other plan is a 30-month plan that offers 30GB of data. Audi owners that already have an AT&T shared data plan can also add their car as another device. No word on pricing for the AT&T plans for the car at this time.
Audi unveiled a system during CES 2014 that is able to connect with compatible traffic lights and give the driver a countdown on the dash showing when the light will turn green. Audi has offered some more information about the system, and the carmaker says that the system will save fuel as well.
The way the traffic light recognition tool will help save fuel is by connecting with the start stop technology inside the car. The start stop system will leave the engine off until five seconds before the light turns green. Audi figures that the system could save about 240 million gallons of fuel if it was in wide use.
The system could also cut emissions by 15%. If you are wondering why the engine starts five seconds before the light turns green when most start-stop systems can start an engine in less than a second, the 5 seconds is meant as a reminder to the driver to get ready to drive.
Recently Apple announced its new in-car platform designed to give better interaction and control with a smartphone from behind the wheel. The system is called CarPlay and it has 18 car companies committed to the platform already. Mercedes is one of those committed to the platform.
One downside for users that are interested in this system is that it will only be in brand new 2014 and up vehicles. Mercedes doesn't want to leave owners of older models of its vehicles out. MB has announced that it will have an aftermarket solution for adding CarPlay available by the end of the year.
The aftermarket system will be able to display CarPlay visuals on the in-dash screens of select vehicles. Mercedes hopes to have it available by the end of the year. It's unclear at this point, which vehicles the Mercedes CarPlay system will work for. I would wager it would only be for select Mercedes cars rather than something you can buy and put inside any make of vehicle.
If you are a fan of outrageous exotic sports cars, you will be familiar with the Lamborghini name. Lamborghini has been making some of the coolest high performance cars since the 60's and its latest offering is a replacement for the Gallardo called the Huracan. The car is all-new and has a very slick digital dashboard.
The digital dash inside the car replaces old-fashioned analog gauges and is powered by NVIDIA. The digital dash uses a 12.3-inch TFT display offering a resolution of 1440 x 540. The graphics for that dash are powered by a Tegra 30 chip from the Tegra 3 series.
The digital muscle behind the dash lets the virtual tachometer work at 60 fps so it can keep up with the engine without causing difficult to read lag. The digital dash can be configured to show what the driver wants to see with three modes. The Full Drive mode offers an analog style tachometer with smaller displays for fuel level, temperature and a digital speedo. Mixed mode frees up half that display for a navigation screen.
Today, Apple officially made an announcement about its brand new iOS specifically made for cars- CarPlay. The company first talked about its car iOS version during the developer conference last year and the cars with this Car specific iOS integration will be shown in an auto show at Geneva. For such project, it was important for Apple, Inc to sign up manufacturers so that the companies can incorporate the suitable hardware/interface setup for the in-car touch panel on the dashboard.
Via a statement, Apple VP Greg Joswiak said,"CarPlay has been designed from the ground up to provide drivers with an incredible experience using their iPhone in the car. IPhone users always want their content at their fingertips and CarPlay lets drivers use their iPhone in the car with minimized distraction. We have an amazing lineup of auto partners rolling out CarPlay, and we're thrilled it will make its debut this week in Geneva."
Mercedes-Benz has recently put up a job listing for a 'software engineer' who require help to 'seamlessly integrate' Google's upcoming in-car system called 'Google Projected Mode'.
The German car maker said in a job advert that it would require to integrate android smartphones in the car's dashboard's head unit. The unit would most likely have a larger than smartphone display and would probably have a simplified version of Android UI. Google did use the word 'projected' but its difficult to speculate what does the company has in mind.
Apple teased that iOS in the Car was something that was "very important" to the company, and a new product its ecosystem, like iTunes, or Siri. Well the time has come for it to be launched, if the latest reports are to be believed.
The Financial Times is reporting that Apple will unveil formal car integration deals with some of the biggest names in the industry: Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo. The system still requires an iPad or iPhone in the car to work, so it's not something that is leaps and bounds for Apple, as it would probably like people to expect.
A few weeks back the internet was set ablaze with speculation and rumors after Elon Musk met with Apple's executives, and while everyone else was hung up on acquisition rumors, I reported that the talks were more than likely about investing in a new battery manufacturing facility. A little over a week later, my suspicions were confirmed when Elon Musk announced what is to be the world's largest battery factory.
Musk says that Tesla will build the largest battery manufacturing facility ever with the help of investments from others totaling $5 billion of which $2 billion Tesla will invest itself. Musk's goal for the new "Gigafactory" is to have the 10 million square foot facility producing more batteries annually by 2020 than the entire world's current annual production. This would allow Tesla to ramp up its production to the levels of that of Ford, GM and other major manufacturers today.
With Apple one of the largest consumers of Lithium-Ion based batteries in the US, and tons of reserve cash just sitting in banks, it made perfect sense for Tesla to approach the Cupertino-based company as a potential investing partner. With Tesla only looking for $1.6 to $2 billion in extra funds, Apple could easily front the money in exchange for deep discounts, or better battery technology that results from the deal. With battery manufacturing mostly an automated process due to the extreme hazards of the chemicals involved, labor cost would be very low, making the investment even more attractive for Apple.
Volvo is talking about some of what it will be showing off at the Geneva Auto Show next month. Along with concept cars and production vehicles, the automaker will also be showing off its new in-car experience. As you might expect the new in-car experience will be touch focused.
The system will use a large portrait mode touchscreen in the center of the dash. That touchscreen will have sections that display different content like navigation, audio, and others. At the bottom of the screen are the controls for climate.
Using a touch system while driving is often not ideal for the driver, I wonder how Volvo is going to get around that. Just ask anyone that has used the Ford touch system and left unhappy. The touchscreen also interacts with the slick digital instrument cluster in the dash. Each of the tile stacks on the screen has a thin band that tells what it is.
Ford has been using its tiny 1.0L EcoBoost engine for a long time under the hood of cars in Europe. That 1.0L engine is a 3-cylinder unit with twin turbochargers that sips fuel while producing the same power numbers as a larger 4-cylinder unit.
The Ford Focus has been able to be purchased with that 1.0L EcoBoost in Europe for a long time. Ford has announced that with the all-new 2015 Focus, buyers in the US will also be able to choose the 1.0L EcoBoost power. Ford promises that the engine will raise the bar in fuel efficiency for the Focus.
The 2015 model is all new and uses the Ford familiar resemblance that all recent Ford cards use. Namely, the front end will have similarly shaped headlights and grille. Think of the Fiesta, but a bit larger.