Monday, March 25, 2013

Auto Technology - Audi and Volkswagon, Radar Following and Auto Safety

Where is the new auto technology? Where is it? We have it now, shouldn't we use it to reduce the 42,000 deaths in automobiles per year? We seem to be getting the shaft on all this new technology which could save lives in automobiles and seem to be a little behind Germany even though much of the technology has come from our own MIT genius kids here.
This is because the Big Three are trying to shave costs to compete and now we see with the dollar down and the Euro up that now the foreign car makers are also cutting their safety features on many models for instance: Volkswagen to cut costs and reduce investment. Volkswagen said it would cut costs and reduce investment after profits more than halved last year and sales of its latest Golf V hatchback got off to a weak start.
Meanwhile it’s parent company Audi is busy testing some new radar assisted driving and anti-collision products in proving grounds in AZ.
I recently had the opportunity to have coffee with the head engineer from Audi and he explained the problem of getting the technology into American cars is that they were worried about class action lawsuits and cost so they were not going to put in the newest ECS devices:
What is most unfortunate about this is that 42,000 people die a year in auto accidents in this country now. We can fix that, of course this new technology will become victim of class action law suits. We need to immediately kill all the attorneys, Shakespeare was right, Caesar said it best, then we can move forward to save lives.
In Germany on many of the Audi models they have radar assisted following devices. For every 1 kilometer per hour the car is back half that distance so at 60 KPH the car is behind the car in front of it by 30 meters. Works great and several new cars have assisted white right line following also. Also they have a system that if a car is parked in front of you in the lane, your car lets off the accelerator and slightly tightens the seatbelts like the Honda SmartCar and then the steering wheel puts pressure to go around the obstacle, as your reflexes then take over.
The new ESC also interfaces with this system but it needs to be an all-wheel drive car for it to all work. This would help in Winter Weather safety too. We have also seen the weather is changing consumer buying behavior for all wheel drive vehicles on passenger cars as well as SUVs, so people will not be bothered with putting on chains on their cars. Due to the desire by car buyers to have a “go-anywhere, do-anything” capable car after the recent SUV trend we see that consumers have developed an affinity for this freedom in all their car choices.
Automakers are also seeing this it appears and are ready to satisfy the shift in preference by selling more cars that transfer engine power to all four corners - commonly called all-wheel drive, not four wheel drive although that too is way up in demand, all-wheel drive also shifts control around the car as you drive and is a SmartCar Technology. By 2006, car buyers who want All- wheel drive will have their choice of some 42 models, according to Industry Analysts and the website Gurus? This a 2/3 increase from the 2003-2004 model year. We have even heard estimates that by 2008, the number of all- wheel-drive cars on the road will double by today's count, well at least this is what Ford’s Visteon Corp., unit is saying and of course they hope so since they are a supplier of all- wheel-drive technology and other SmartCar electronic systems. For automakers, the rising demand for all-wheel-drive cars means greater profits and higher costs on cars for such options. All-wheel-drive systems now cost up to $1,500 as optional equipment.
The growing interest in all-wheel drive is obvious after checking out the Detroit Auto Show prototype cars. All these cars will have superior handling and better cornering for those 10 PM to midnight canyon burner runs at Mach 2, which if you are a real car lover you fully understand. Automakers with only rear-drive models cars may find this a challenge since the consumer now has a choice of All-wheel drive as well as manufacturers who have bee spending years convincing consumers that front-wheel drive is better on bad roads. Now consumers can have it all, those confused consumers will most likely opt for the both or All scenario. All-wheel drive essentially offers the best of both worlds.
Just over 50 percent of American women and 55 percent of their male counterparts surveyed said they prefer All wheel for safety and/or performance, along with the obvious benefit of better traction. Smart Cars are making friends and influencing people and the safety benefit to all is very incredible. SmartCars and Intelligent transportation.
If we look at the history of smart car type technologies we will see that this is always how it starts. It wasn't more than a decade or two ago that we sought and anti-locking braking systems, or ABS. At first, this was the safety benefit and only an option and only available on the high-end cars. Recently we've seen GPS navigation systems available as an option, now many the luxury cars, it comes standard. We're seeing this trend also on midrange cars and SUVs. It wasn't too long that airbags came onto the seen at first a safety item and an option later became standard on most of midrange and high-end vehicles, now airbags are on nearly every car, at least for the driver. About 50% of the models in Europe have the ESC options with all-wheel drive and in the US about 6% do to the need to cut the costs and still sell the cars.
In 30 years fatalities in Germany are down about 70% in the US per mile driven about 20%, which is good, but we can still do better. Remember when th big news came out about Firestone? Well actually only 3% of fatal rollovers were from tire wear, the rest from driving conditions and pilot error. Loss of control of about 20% of these accidents could have been prevented by ESC and it will be mandatory on 8-15 passenger vans by 2006.

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