Wednesday, December 30, 2015

New Road and Driving Rules for Motorists in Canada for 2016

Photo Credit: Chris Nagy

In the last days of 2015, many of us in Canada have spent a year negotiating various driving situations. Traffic, snowy winter roads, wet weather, fluctuating prices at the gas pumps and maintenance costs is just a sample of obstacles Canadian motorists have confronted over 12 months. As we prepare for 2016, new or changing driving-related laws and regulations are also a challenge climbing behind the wheel. While some governments have already rolled-out new rules or costs ahead of the upcoming year, 2016 will be the first time where the entire driving public will be impacted by new fees as well as different expectations.

The following is a snapshot of changes affecting Canadian motorists in relation to the province or territory they inhabit:

Alberta


Distracted driving is a menace on today’s roadways. When motorists fail to consider the attention of driving a multi-ton vehicle at speeds far greater than any human can travel on-foot, the results have been fatal. In recent years, provinces have defined distracted driving and creating methods to deter this poor behaviour on roadways. Despite a $287 fine in Alberta, up to 30 percent of all roadway collisions in the province are linked to distracted operations of a motor vehicle.

In an effort to reduce distracted driving beyond monetary fine, Alberta motorists caught under the infraction will face demerit points starting in 2016. In addition the $287 under a distracted driving conviction, a penalty of three demerit points will appear on the driver’s record.


British Columbia


Starting in the early part of 2016, the province of British Columbia will roll out a variable speed limit system in sections on the Coquihalla, the Sea to Sky and Trans-Canada highways. Functioning as a pilot project, the variable speed limit initiative feature electronic signs deployed in stretches where weather changes rapidly. The speed limit posted on the digital signs will react to weather conditions such as heavy snowfall or icy roads. British Columbia follows Quebec who implemented a variable speed limit on two highways in late 2014.

Due to a reported increase in injury claims over a 12-month period, the ICBC (Insurance Corporation of British Columbia) have proposed a cost adjustment from the government for their basic AutoPlan coverage for 2016.  August of 2015, the ICBC was expected to file a 6.7 percent increase in basic insurance rates. Ultimately, the provincial insurance organization in British Columbia decided on a 5.5 percent increase equating as $3.70 per month for the average policyholder. Insurance customers adding the optional extended third-party liability coverage will pay an extra $1.30 more than 2015 rates in 2016.


Manitoba


At the beginning of December, the provincial government of Manitoba passed the Safe Roads Act featuring enhanced punishments for impaired driving. Along with recognizing alcohol as an impairment, Manitoba’s new law is extended to cover abuse of prescription medications and illegal drugs. For drivers caught with an alcohol content between 0.05 and 0.08, vehicles will be impounded for a longer period of time (three days up from the previous 24-hour period).

Drivers enlisted with Autopac Extension deductible package with the Manitoba Public Insurance plan will gain a $0 deductible in the case of vandalism claims. Taking effect on and after March 1 of 2016, the policy change will an additional $3 to $5 to annual premium payments.


New Brunswick


New Brunswick waited for the last month of 2015 to announce a bill delivering tougher penalties to drunk or/and impaired drivers. The new bill will make ignition interlock devices mandatory for drivers with impaired driving convictions undergoing relicensing. 24-hour driving suspension and vehicle impoundment for drivers between 0.05 and 0.08 blood alcohol content are also part of the proposed new set of laws. Contingent on the New Brunswick provincial government making the changes law, the enhanced impaired driving penalties will work to lift the jurisdiction out of a tied last-place ranking by MADD Canada.

In September of 2015, New Brunswick carried out a fee increase to driver licenses and vehicle registration. For 2016, this will affect the province’s motorists through the entire year.


Newfoundland and Labrador


In the middle of 2015, drivers in Newfoundland and Labrador were levied with higher vehicle registration fees. For drivers proceeding to maintain the legality of their various personal or professional vehicles in the first half of a year, prepare to fork out a little extra in 2016. Passenger vehicle registration increases from $140 to $160 for adults under the age of 65 years old. Vehicles for individuals 65 years or older are being assessed a $104 fee (up $13 from the previous rate). Standard registration of antique automobiles climbed by $11 to $86 while motorcycles riders will face a $10 increase to $85.

When the rates increased in June of 2015 for licensing and registration, Newfoundland did add a discount option. On-line registration of passenger cars, motorcycles, taxis and lighter commercial vehicles provide a $10 discount.


Nova Scotia


The third component of Nova Scotia graduated license program comes into effect in April. The learner stage of the licensing program is expanded to 12 months (up from 6 months). Three months will be subtracted from that period if the driver in the learning phase if a person completes an approved driver’s training course.


Ontario


Drivers in the province of Ontario will enter 2016 with a number of new or changing rules for the road.

A major traffic designed to protect pedestrians in school zones or crossovers will require an extra area of awareness from drivers in 2016. At schools and pedestrian crossovers, drivers must wait for pedestrians to cross the whole street before proceeding. Failure to do so will result in a fine from $150 to $500 and a penalty of 3 demerit points. A component of Ontario's Highway Traffic Act, rules for pedestrian crossovers also prohibit overtaking other vehicles and maintains pedestrians cannot enter a crossover when a vehicle is unable to stop safely. Other changes to the Highway Traffic Act will also include granting municipalities the authority to mail some traffic tickets attached to out-of-province vehicles and pursue payment.

Fee increases implemented on September 1st of this year will affect all Ontario motorists in 2016. The cost for new or for renewing a driver’s license in the province is now $81.50 (a $1.50 increase compared to the previous amount). Vehicle license registration in northern Ontario climbs $5 to $54 while drivers in the south part of the province are paying $10 more totalling $108 in the new year.

Billed as a pilot project, the province of Ontario will experiment in the use of high-occupancy (HOV) lanes on highways into paid toll roads. The QEW (Queen Elizabeth Way) section between Trafalgar Road and Guelph Line (roughly a 15-kilometer stretch of the highway) will function with the first of the province’s High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes. While vehicles with two or more occupants can continue using the HOT at no cost, permits will be available for drivers travelling in single occupant vehicles. The measure is being billed as the first of several HOT lanes that will be added to Ontario highways designed as a traffic relief solution. The HOT system is set to go into operation for the summer of 2016.

Finally, on January 1st of 2016, Ontario will become the first province in Canada to permit the testing of self-driving or autonomous vehicles on roadways.


Prince Edward Island 


Strengthened laws against distracted driving were introduced in Prince Edward Island during the summer of 2015. The new distracted driving law attached five demerit points to the offence matching Manitoba as one of the strictest jurisdictions in Canada for the motoring offence.  


Quebec


Thanks to a surplus reported by Quebec’s auto insurance company Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ), motorists in the province will notice a drop in rates for the new year. Driver’s total license fees for conventional passenger cars will drop from $91.46 to $82.24 providing a motorist has no demerit points on their driving record. Drivers in Quebec with demerit points will also notice lower license fees but are still going to pay significantly more than motorists with a clean record. Other fees related to driver licenses for passenger, heavy and commercial vehicles as well as motorcycles will receive minor increases ranging up to $1.00.


Saskatchewan


Effective in the middle of 2016, Saskatchewan drivers will notice changes to the province’s auto insurance plan assessment system. Through the Safe Driver Recognition program, alterations will result in more of a discount for safer drivers while motorists with a murkier record may find themselves lighter in the pocketbook. The Safe Driver Recognition is extended to 25 points for 2016 providing motorists in Saskatchewan the potential of earning up to a 25 percent discount on their insurance. Conversely, drivers in the penalty zone on the Safety Rating Scale will have to pay double the rate for each point with the price per point growing from $25 to $50. It may also be more difficult to maintain a high score on the safety scale with all at-fault collisions and manually-enforced speeding convictions falling under increased scrutiny.


Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut 


There will be no major changes for drivers in Canada’s territories for 2016. Nunavut remains the only place in Canada without dedicated laws against distracted driving.



Thursday, December 17, 2015

Canadian Pricing Announced for 2016 Chevrolet Cruze

Photo Credit: General Motors Canada

Canadians has long gravitated towards smaller, economical cars. Thankfully, the compact car segment is one where high value is now an expectation. Besides fuel efficiency and reliability, the 2016 model year compacts must also fulfil customers with a sense of pizazz. Chevrolet is pressing forward with the redesigned Cruze will build in a relatively respectable first-generation model. Powered by a turbocharged, direct-injected four-cylinder engine, the modernized appearance of the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze sedan will grace dealership showrooms by the spring of 2016.

Pricing for the upgraded 2016 model year Chevrolet compact car ahead of its release has been announced for the main trim levels. The entry-level 2016 Cruze L with a six-speed manual transmission will start at $15,995 plus the vehicle's $1,600 destination freight charge. Priced $180 less than the 2015 Cruze Limited model, the new Chevrolet Cruze L will introduce owners to a larger but lighter sedan. Standard equipped on the Cruze L is Chevrolet MyLink radio operating from a seven-inch touchscreen. Chevrolet MyLink includes compatibility with smart devices through Android Auto and Apple CarPlay along with OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot. Safety of 10 standard airbags will also be found on all 2016 Chevrolet Cruze models.  

While only one transmission only exists for the L trim, the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze enjoys the flexibility of manual and automatic gearboxes with the LS and LT. Manual versions priced lower with the Cruze LS version prepared for $18,845 while the LT will sell for $19,845. Automatic-equipped variants of the Chevrolet Cruze LS and LT will retail for $1,450 more than the manual models. One of the features Canadians may greatly appreciate with the LT model is standard heated front cloth seats.  LED signature lighting and 16-inch aluminum wheels are also found on the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze LT.

At the top of the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze's model scale is the Premier trim. Featuring a Z-link design rear axle distinguishing it from the other Cruze line-up, the Premier version of the compact car's price is set at $23,895. Standard 17-inch alloy wheels are also included on the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze Premier.

Pricing for the announced Cruze RS package is expected to be unveiled soon and a diesel model is planned for the 2017 model year.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Star Wars’ Force Awakens in Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Photo Credit: FCA US



Unless you have been living in a cave on Tatooine, you are aware a highly-anticipated motion picture experience will be arriving at theatres next week. Ahead of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, there has been no shortage of cross-promotional tie-ins to the upcoming movie. In some cases, the marketing has been far-reaching in some instances. This weekend signifies another unusual promotional move as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) US will unleash a dark side-driven invasion on the streets of Los Angeles.

Patrolling the Los Angeles area from December 11th to December 14th, First Order Stormtroopers and Kylo Ren will be represented by some high-powered performance cars. Consisting of three individual vehicles, the roaming group will be led by a black Dodge Viper ACR resembling one of the main villains in the upcoming Star Wars movie. The force of 645-horsepower is especially strong in the Kylo Ren-themed supercar being the most potent Viper model ever produced. Accompanying the Kylo Ren Dodge Viper ACR is two white-coloured vehicles arriving from Dodge’s Hellcat line. The 707-horsepower Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat and the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat are given the First Order Stormtrooper treatment. On all three Star Wars-themed Dodge products, the unique graphics were wrapped onto the vehicles.


Photo Credit: FCA US



The vehicles of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have grown accustomed assuming the role of the antagonists ahead of the latest Star Wars movie’s release. The three-car presence in Los Angeles, California this weekend is only the latest of several FCA US efforts alongside the Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Coinciding with the release of new toys on September 4th (termed Force Friday), Mattel Hot Wheels and Uber teamed-up to provide free trips in stormtrooper-themed Dodge Chargers. At the past 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show, the one-of-a-kind Fiat 500e was featured with a two-tone black and white scheme resembling the First Order Legion. Along with the colouring, the Garage Italia Customs-created Fiat 500e sported a custom leather/Alcantara interior that included the placement of First Order insignia on the steering wheel.

For those in the greater Los Angeles area during the patrol, FCA US encourages fans to capture images as well as the location of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Dodge vehicles. You can track the hashtags #Dodge and #TheForceAwakens on Twitter. Dodge’s Facebook and Instagram pages will also feature daily fan favourite images.      

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Confession Of A Former Jeff Gordon Anti-Fan

Photo Credit: Chris Nagy



Just 400 miles are all that remains of 2015 competition in the top stock car racing series in the world. The conclusion of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup season at Homestead-Miami Speedway once again guarantees 43 drivers will attempt to take the checkered flag for the last event of the year. Four drivers enter the race with the opportunity of being crowned the series champion, depending on the outcome at Homestead-Miami Speedway. For the majority of the field though, victory or defeat is simply a reason to come back next year. Jeff Gordon has a chance of claiming the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup title but has planned the outcome to this race that will hold a note of permanency to a career of 23 years.

Jeff Gordon will be starting this race vehicle’s engine for the final time in competition. The #24 Chevrolet SS fielded by Hendrick Motorsports final drive by the currently four-time champion in NASCAR’s top series is forged with some impressive superstar credentials. In 796 NASCAR Sprint Cup events, Gordon has won 93 times including 3 Daytona 500s, 5 Brickyard 400s and 3 All-Star race wins. Successes worthy of respect and admiration, the peak of Jeff Gordon’s career is noted for a period where grandstands of fans used to boo the driver of the #24 machine. At home watching every race, I used to do the exact same thing through the late 1990s through to the early 2000s. About 15 years ago, I would be celebrating the occurrence gleefully for a time where ‘Wonder Boy’ could stop accumulating victories.

I started following NASCAR in the mid-1990s initially propelled by my desire to see a General Motors vehicle in victory lane. As a young person, you would think that a driver like Jeff Gordon driving a Chevrolet Lumina or Monte Carlo has my cheers. Well, initially I was celebratory to the idea of Gordon winning in the colourful DuPont race car. However, the true devotion of my fan dedication became a black car wearing a #3 and GM Goodwrench wording. I remembered when Jeff Gordon his first Cup championship in 1995 thinking even though he beat Dale Earnhardt I found reasons to appreciate the 24-year-old’s achievements looking at the season-end standings.

So when did my attitude towards to Rainbow Warrior turn so stormy? Something happened in the middle of 1996 and a 10-race winning season for Jeff Gordon. It was also the year where Dale Earnhardt suffered the nasty Talladega crash where it seemed it took something out of the momentum of the #3 Chevrolet that took years to recover. Was it a case I felt Gordon were taking victories away from my favourite driver that caused some anger towards the #24 car? There was the North Wilkesboro Speedway race where Gordon won with Earnhardt finishing in the runner-up spot. However, it wasn’t like #3 Goodwrench Chevrolet was in contention for every race Gordon won. Maybe it is just a simple sport fan preference such as disliking the Kansas City Royals World Series win when they beat the Toronto Blue Jays. Maybe if you were a Toronto baseball you pretended the World Series didn’t even exist since 1993.

Along with the frequent winning, I also had an issue with the way Jeff Gordon was advertised with NASCAR. NASCAR and media affiliated with the stock car racing sanctioning body were almost endlessly trying to sell us on how great the driver of the DuPont-sponsored car was. For a driver with just a few seasons in the auto racing series, there sometimes seem to be little more than recent success to justify claims of greatness. While it seemed debatable in the late 1990s, there was some prophecy behind the hype as we consider Jeff Gordon’s career in 2015.

Jeff Gordon also appeared to be one of the first NASCAR drivers to have a persona that was heavily-controlled by handlers. Other drivers of the series obviously had some appreciation for how to behave throughout professional racing history previously but the feedback from Jeff Gordon sometimes came off like a press release. It was hard to truly understand soul of a driver who followed a routine of wooing as well as thanking his team and sponsors after every race in a manner it seemed like a broken record.

Near the end of the century, my Jeff Gordon hatred was at an all-time high. Eventually, my mom found a sponge brick for me to hurl at the television screen anytime the #24 car appeared (I’ve been wondering where that sponge brick was this year when the Canadian election was preventing me to thoroughly appreciate the rare summer we receive in this country). From watching pre-race driver introductions, I knew I was not alone in my distaste for the constantly victorious Gordon. It actually seems odd in retrospect to believe the intensity of the booing at races. Recently, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch have also received equal contempt from fans but only after earning a villain-like reputation on the race. In contrast, Jeff Gordon drove clean and simply won a lot of races.

A turning point of my personality hostility towards Gordon came at Watkins Glen in 2003 following a late race accident. Despite how much I despised Jeff Gordon, I never wanted him to be seriously hurt or placed in a situation where he would be harmed. A hard crash for the #24 car, I was relieved that he was able to leave the vehicle. What really made me side with Gordon was his less-than textbook trip to the medical care in the ambulance. He was vocal in criticizing the response after his accident as well slow arrival to be evaluated. So soon after Dale Earnhardt’s passing as well several other high-profile NASCAR fatalities, I could completely understand why a driver would be so impassioned in concern for medical attention. There have also been other moments where Jeff Gordon appeared unchained and more of a personality beyond a brand.


Jeff Gordon #24 3M Chevrolet SS at 2015 Motorama
Photo Credit Chris Nagy

Changing my boos into cheers over the years, the Jeff Gordon I was watching him became a seasoned veteran. The wins appeared harder fought with the reality that almost every new driver to the series wanted to be the latest ‘Wonder Boy’. Even in my anti-Gordon era, I remembered one race victory at Martinsville in 1997 that truly admired. Early in the race, the #24 car spun and lost track position (can’t remember if it was due to a flat tire). On the tight short track, Jeff Gordon charged through masterfully to take the win. Some races more than others showed how much of a truly gifted racer Jeff Gordon was behind the wheel. Later in his career as he passed Dale Earnhardt’s win total and later the 84 victories of Darrell Waltrip to become the all-time leader in the NASCAR Cup Series’ modern era, there was no thought in my mind that contradicted the belief this occurrence was meant to be.

At Martinsville this year (win #93), there was never a moment I was more enthusiastic to see Jeff Gordon win. Based on the circumstances, it was almost ranked as high as a Dale Earnhardt Jr victory. This has been a scenario I would not have fathomed in the 1990s. It’s one person who can silence a critic, it takes an outstanding one who can tun a critic into a fan.

Enjoy your last run in the #24 car today Jeff Gordon and thank you for very a villain as well as a hero in this NASCAR fan’s life.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Karma Plug-in Hybrid Rising From the Ashes with BMW Power

Photo Credit: Chris Nagy

The electrified auto sector has moved at a rapid pace in the past five years. Back then, Tesla Motors only attracted attention through the production of the odd all-electric roadster while the Nissan Leaf all-electric car and the plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt were only entering the marketplace. Another car garnering attention during the infancy of the electric vehicle renaissance was prepared by a Californian based company Fisker Automotive.

A premium vehicle designed by the same person behind the Aston Martin DB9, the Fisker Karma was a plug-in hybrid luxury car was heavily plagued during its short production run. Production itself was delayed by two years with the first sale examples of the Karma arriving in 2011. When the remnants of Hurricane Sandy hit the upper-part of the United States in November 2012, a large quantity of Fisker Karmas was ultimately written-off when they were caught in the massive flood. The vehicle itself was also affected by an early recall resulting from two high-profile fires. These factors as well as the overall financial state of the start-up auto company brought an end to Fisker Automotive in late 2013.

The Wanxiang Group purchased the remains of the bankrupt independent automaker in 2014 with plans to restart production for a premium plug-in hybrid vehicle. Renaming the company Karma Automotive, the organization has entered an important agreement providing momentum to their targeted 2016 re-launch.

Making an agreement with BMW, the upcoming Karma plug-in hybrid car will be supplied with crucial powertrain components. Including high voltage battery charging system and other systems added for electrified driving, Karma Automotive celebrates being involved with the reputable German company. CEO of Karma Automotive Tim Corcoran comments, "The Wanxiang Group is giving Karma Automotive the opportunity to bring a stunning car back to the market, and the partnership with BMW and their outstanding track record is a great fit for the future,". "I'm personally excited and incredibly proud we will be integrating the sophistication, integrity and character of the BMW powertrain into our own. Karma Automotive products and ultimately our customers will be the greatest benefactors of this fantastic relationship." said the co-founder of the company now-called Karma Automotive Bernhard Koehler. 


Photo Credit: Karma Automotive



In addition to buying Fisker Automotive, the Wanxiang Group had also acquired battery maker A123 System's consumer business (A123 Systems supplied the battery technology for the original Fisker Karma). A123 Systems and BMW have already been involved in automotive collaborative projects. BMW has used the company's technologies in ActiveHybrid versions of the 3-Series and 5-Series in recent years.

The new Karma Automotive company acknowledges its past but remains devoted to providing an "Emotionally Charged" vehicle to the auto marketplace.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Royal Canadian Mint Enters Fast Lane with NASCAR Medallion



Photo Credit; Royal Canadian Mint

Canada's history with NASCAR competition has been a colourful affair. Richard Petty winning his first Cup division series race at the old CNE Speedway in Toronto in 1959, the late Earl Ross' first and currently only Cup victory by a Canadian on the ever-popular Martinsville Speedway in 1974 and Ron Fellows' six road racing wins in two of the stock car racing series' three major touring divisions have been moments the patriotic red and white fans of motorsports have been proud of. This season, Calgary, Alberta native Cameron Hayley's rookie season effort in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and crew chief of the #78 Furniture Row Racing Cole Pearn have shown future greatness is in the cards. As the 2015 NASCAR racing season is nearing a close, the Royal Canadian Mint has put some definition to the popular racing spectacle with the release of a detailed silver medallion.

Struck in 1 oz., 99.99% pure silver, the royal Canadian Mint has created an officially-licensed medallion to invoke the spirit of stock car racing organization. The NASCAR-licensed medallion features a designed crafted Arturo Rotondo and is limited in production for a release of 30,000 examples.

Photo Credit; Royal Canadian Mint

Detailed in silver and accented an all-colour NASCAR logo with a black background, the front face of the medallion features a regular scene from each race; a victorious stock car. Under a victory lap, a driver of the winning Chevrolet SS in this medallion design holds out the chequered flag among a motorsport crowd in a grandstand. On the other side of this Royal Canadian Mint keepsake depicts a racing wheel/tire with the NASCAR logo in silver at the top and '2016' at the bottom.

The limited edition NASCAR-licensed Medallion is offered through the Royal Canadian Mint website to Canadian and American customers at the price of $49.95 CDN.  

Monday, November 9, 2015

Toyota's Ultimate Utility Vehicle is the Meanest Minivan Ever

Photo Credit: Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.


During the early 1990s, the family vehicle market was under the spell of the spacious minivans. Providing enough room for parents, kids, pets and provisions for a weekend, minivans often suffered from a lack of excitement due to underpowered engines as well as bland handling. Drivers demanding a more spirited family hauler were accommodated with a growing crop of sport utility vehicles as well as crossover vehicles in the past 20 years.

While the minivan market lost its lustre to some automotive players, Toyota’s Sienna is currently accepted as a gold standard for hauling the typical North American family. Propelled by a 266-horsepower V-6 engine and available with all-wheel drive, the Sienna proves to be a humble performer on the city roads, suburban streets as well as on highways. If participating a trip across harsh North American terrain, something more ultimate may be needed. At the 2015 SEMA Show, The Toyota Sienna can be shown in a completely different light where the limits for the minivan appearance are pushed way off its normal course with the Ultimate Utility Vehicle.

Appearing like a Sienna on steroids, Toyota’s Ultimate Utility Vehicle (UUV) is actually not as it entirely seems. The unibody minivan structure has been adapted to accept a frame from a Tacoma 4x4 truck. The Toyota UUV is engineered with long-travel suspension allowing up to 15.75 inches of movement designed to be a terrain-conquering setup. Suspension travel reacts to a 33-inch diameter Nitto Mud Grappler tires mounted to Monster Energy 539B wheels. The off-road equipment assures the modified minivan will climb and trek across surfaces varying greatly from what is found in suburbia.

The four-wheel drive fusion of a minivan and small truck also incorporates unique door operations. Due to the Toyota UUV’s design, the Sienna door opening pattern had to be abandoned. Instead, the front passenger and driver’s door is hinged in a suicide-style. The typical rear sliding doors on the UUV are replaced by motorized doors that slide out.

Built not only to like menacing, the Toyota UUV was constructed for a purpose. Following its appearance at the 2015 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, the UUV will be a command vehicle in Toyota’s Ever-Better Expedition. The Ever-Better Expedition is a more than 16,500-mile adventure trek involving nine vehicles travelling through extreme areas. Having already completed a hot, summery portion of the journey in North America, the Ever-Better Expedition will have nine Toyota vehicles challenge cold, ice-covered trails in Alaska as well as Canada.

Featuring a macho exterior that can take occupants far away from civilization, the Toyota Ultimate Utility Vehicle is fitted with all kinds of high-tech gear making the off-roader a mobile home base. Serving as the command centre for the upcoming North American Ever-Better Expedition, the UUV includes Wi-Fi internet access, as well as a TracVision mobile satellite television receiver. A 17-inch computer monitor, 60-inch Sony LED television and a 2,500-watt JBL audio system are outfitted inside the modified interior. Captain’s chairs incorporating laptop tray tables are found inside the Toyota UUV. A Flir M-324xp night vision high-definition imaging camera system is also fitted for the occupants to better monitor surroundings in darker areas. With the technology at their disposal inside the UUV, Toyota engineers will be able to monitor every vehicle taking part in the Ever-Better Expedition. Results will be communicated to Toyota’s headquarters using Skype.

In addition to the UUV, other vehicles participating in Toyota’s Ever-Better Expedition include a Highlander, RAV4 and a LC 200 (an Australian version of the Land Cruiser) serving as a torch-bearer. The entire North American trip is slated to take 110 days.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Luxury for Hyundai Undergoes a True Genesis

Photo Credit: Hyundai Motor America

It's only a human condition to judge ourselves in the company we keep. It is also natural for even comfortable individuals to seek a higher status. For automakers, having a foothold in the general automobile market is often not enough. After-all, why would Cadillac and Lincoln exist when a Chevrolet or Ford is well-suited to most drivers? Entering the luxury car market provides the chance to explore heightened vehicle refinement, greater technology and generally a higher profit margin per vehicle sold.

In the late 1980s, Japanese auto companies that made gains as a producer of vehicles demanded by the general driving public entered the premium product genre. Honda created Acura, Nissan created Infiniti and Toyota founded the Lexus brand. Starting in December, Hyundai will become the latest entrant into the premium automobile industry.

Hyundai will elevate the name of their Genesis rear-wheel drive sedan to the forefront described as a 'Modern Premium' marque. Identified with a wing-like emblem, the new Genesis premium marque will be defined by its own unique designs. Starting with the sedan, this new luxury make will consist of six vehicles by 2020. The Genesis brand products will be identified through an alphanumeric naming structure. Incorporating a 'G', the Genesis brand products will be assigned a double-digit number. The naming will appear similar to what was recently adopted by Infiniti.


Photo Credit: Chris Nagy



One quality stated to be found in the upcoming Genesis luxury brand is a heightened focus on customer-friendly interfaces. Embracing smart technologies as well as other electronic efficiencies and connectivity solutions, the brand does not aspire to inundate the occupants with every technological touch said to be the goal of other luxury car companies."We have created the new Genesis brand with the complete focus on our customers who want smart ownership experiences that same time and effort, with practical innovations that enhance satisfaction," said vice chairman of Hyundai Motor Company Euisan Chung.

The new Genesis brand will be guided by Luc Donckerwolke starting in the middle of 2016. Donckerwolke joins Hyundai from Volkswagen Group. Hired from Audi who has been working with Hyundai and Kia since 2005, Peter Schreyer will be in charge of the Prestige Design Division that will shape the new luxury vehicle line. Launching in North American, Korea, China and Middle East, Genesis is also being eyed for expansion in Europe as well as other parts on the Asian continent.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Honda’s New Baja Race Truck Teases 2017 Ridgeline Styling

Photo Credit: Honda


A fundamental goal of every automaker is to prove the endurance of their vehicles to the public. For the toughest vehicles hoping to make an impression with customers, the SCORE Baja 1000 off-road race across the terrain of a Mexican desert is among the most gruelling. A race that has been won by Ford Broncos, Chevrolet trucks and a Volkswagen-powered Meyers Manx, Toyota trucks were also some of the victorious vehicle entrants who inherit some impressive bragging rights to sell their trucks to buyers.

Along with measuring the integrity of production-based trucks as well as race-purpose buggies, major auto manufacturers have also found the Baja 1000 event as a proving ground for new ideas. In 2013, Ford tested their2.7-liter EcoBoost powerplant in the competition as an extreme field test ahead of availability on the 2015 Ford F-150. Later this month, Honda will compete with a prelude to their next Ridgeline pickup truck.  

After a two-year absence, the Honda Ridgeline is scheduled for a return for the 2017 model year. Ahead of the premiere of the production version of the next generation Ridgeline, attendees at the 2015 SEMA Show in Las Vegas are being treated to a peek at the new truck. Wearing red, white and black Honda livery, the Ridgeline Baja Race Truck promotes some showroom relevant elements. Though the vehicle set to compete in the unlimited class is a purpose-built desert racing vehicle built on a tube-frame chassis, the Ridgeline Baja Race Truck is said to feature several nods to the upcoming 2017 return of the street version of the utility vehicle.


Photo Credit: Honda



According to Honda, the Baja off-road racing truck carefully replicates the front fascia, hood, red and side profile. You can detect headlights similar to the 2016 Pilot as well as what appears to be a more defined, squarer bed compared to the previous generation Ridgeline. "While this race truck is unique and different from the production Ridgeline, it does a nice job of expressing not only our styling direction but also the fact that the Ridgeline, for all its unique qualities, has been and will continue to be a pickup with true truck capability." said president of Honda Performance Development Art St. Cyr.

The Honda Ridgeline Baja Race Truck performance is sourced from a 3.5 twin-turbocharged HR35TT engine prepared by Honda Performance Development (HPD). Producing up to 550 horsepower, the HPD six-cylinder powerplant incorporates components to be found in the 2017 Honda Ridgeline’s engine. The engine block, cylinder heads and crankshaft are intended for use in the upcoming production truck.


Photo Credit: Honda



For the 2015 Score Baja 1000, Honda is teaming up with Proctor Racing Group to build the special Ridgeline in pursuit of the auto brand’s first overall victory in an automobile class (Car or Truck). On two wheels, Honda has a more storied history on the Baja California desert that predates the running of the organized off-road event. In 1962, a Honda CL72 Scrambler was torture-tested in a manner that earned kudos for the motorcycle as well as the course. In the Baja 1000, Honda motorcycles have 25 wins including 18 scored in a consecutive fashion from 1996 to 2013.

The desert racing-prepared 2017 Honda Ridgeline will be competing in the 48th SCORE Baja 1000 from November 19th to the 21st.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Rotary Revisited in Mazda RX-Vision Concept

Photo Credit: Mazda North American Operations



The Tokyo Motor Show is one of the longest running Asian auto shows, the Japanese exhibition has gained a reputation for showing the world many possible futures for the automobile. Hosted as a biennial event, Japan’s native auto companies is tasked with assembling some bold ideas in concept car forms featuring far-out styling and radical new technologies.

Back in 1964, Mazda showed the Cosmo sports car displaying a different engine concept. For the 2015 edition of the Tokyo Motor Show is guaranteed already to be living up to the aspirations days ahead of the doors opening to the public. Among a vast line-up of concept cars premiering in Tokyo is Mazda’s revival of their rotary engine technology.


Photo Credit: Mazda North American Operations



A front-engined, rear-wheel drive sports car, the Mazda RX-Vision Concept is explored as a continuation to the spirit of the Cosmo as well as the RX-7 high-performance car. Shaped through the influence of Mazda’s KODO design philosophy, the RX-Vision wears a familiar production-like grille at the end of a long hood. The hood positioning creates an exceptionally exotic appearance for the Mazda combined with a sharply raked windshield. At the rear of the concept car, taillights have more than a passing resemblance to the last generation RX-7.

Mazda reminds the world with the RX-Vision Concept their rotary engine development is still ongoing. Often referred to as a Wankel engine, Mazda’s Rotary engine uses a three-sided rotor instead of pistons. Known for boasting a strong power-to-weight ratio and needing fewer parts to operate, Mazda had been the forerunner in bringing the Wankel rotary engine to a widely-publicized manner. In the past, this type of engine configuration has been looked at by General Motors and Mercedes-Benz. There was even plans to equip Wankel rotary engines with the Jeep brand when it was owned by the American Motors Corporation in the 1970s. Mazda is one of few companies that have been able to make rotary powerplants a production reality. Advantages of the rotary engine has also contended with some serious negative points with fuel economy and emissions being a problem. The issue of controlling emissions was still a problem when Mazda sold the RX-8 leading the sports car’s demise.


Photo Credit: Mazda North American Operations



With the Mazda RX-Vision Concept, the new rotary engine is identified as a SkyActiv-R. While there is no details provided on the possible rotary engine of the future but does say it addresses all the disadvantages of the previous generation model of the powerplant.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Ferrari's IPO: Bullish about the Prancing Horse?

Ferrari 458 Spider
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy


Car collectors enjoy no only the thrill of owning a vehicle but the culture surrounding the popular brands that have driven our passions and emotions. When collecting Ferrari, the love can be enjoyed with the possession of a multimillion dollar classic like a highly rare 250 GTO or something as little as a one dollar die-cast car. Ferrari aficionados also take pleasure the in full range of merchandise surrounding the ‘Prancing Horse’ brand. Hats, jackets, sunglasses, watches and picture frames are just a few officially licensed items offered to collectors of the Ferrari brand. Ferrari is one of the most coveted brands when it comes to merchandising. Now, for the latest collectible item, why not own a piece of the company ambitious founded by the legendary motorsport figure Enzo Ferrari?

Selling 10 percent of the Ferrari company in an IPO (Initial Public Offering) release on the New York Stock Exchange, the first shares will be offered at $52 a share starting Wednesday morning. Listed on the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) under the RACE stock symbol, Ferrari’s IPO appeared to have been concealed under the issuer name New Business Netherlands N.V. (NYSE still lists the stock under that title).

After initial estimates that the evaluation of Ferrari would be appraised between 5 and 7 billion dollars, the value of the auto manufacturer has been rated near 10 billion dollars with the share price. The stock sale is estimated to bring close to a billion dollars to Ferrari’s parent company FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles). While the Ferrari brand has been part of Fiat and most recently the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) conglomerate, the sports car brand had been permitted to remain a mostly autonomous corporate function.

The initial stock price for Ferrari is one of the richest of any automaker in recent memory. In comparison, FCA’s IPO last year priced a volume of 87 million shares at only for $11. It’s also interesting to note Tesla Motors’ IPO was priced at $17 per share.

In order to sell investors on Ferrari, the Italian sports car builder provided a bullish pledge. By 2019, Ferrari plans to sell 9,000 vehicles per year that equates to a 30 percent increase over current model numbers. The additional sales volume can increase revenue but some purists to the brand are concerned of saturation of the market with Ferrari vehicles. A fine balance will obviously need to exist between meeting demands for the popular sports cars like the Ferrari 488 GTB and insuring the storied brand maintains exclusivity. At 9,000 vehicles, Ferrari will still be well under Porsche and is only one-quarter the volume of vehicle compared to 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray production.

Toyota Goes 'Back to the Future' to Launch Sales for Hydrogen Fuel Cell Mirai




Great Scott! We've reached October 21st 2015. Where are the flying cars? Why can't I drink a Pepsi Perfect? Why haven't lawyers been abolished? The movie Back to the Future II certainly gave us a wacky prediction of what this day would look like. In late 2015, automobiles are still grounded but that doesn't mean technology has remained trapped in 1985 either.

Electrified automobiles existing in many forms is providing a futuristic reality. Even in the movie's version of 2015, Back to the Future II didn't tout alternative vehicle powertrains (Mr Fusion powered by the time circuits of the Doc Brown's modified DeLorean but gasoline was apparently still a mode of propulsion). Hybrid and fully-electric cars are driving the cause but visions of hydrogen being an automotive power source have also given birth to fuel cell research. Toyota has become the latest automaker demonstrating the possibilities of hydrogen fuel cell technology creating the Mirai as a real-world test bed. Officially launch the availability of the 2016 Toyota Mirai on October 21st 2015, the car company reunited two of film history's most popular time travellers.

Called "Fueled by the Future", Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox appear together as themselves in the Toyota video. Lloyd and Fox are introduced to a real-life scientist named Misha who informs the two actors of at least one far-out idea from Back to the Future II's 2015 that has come true. Mr Fusion, the device that began powering the time circuits of the DeLorean after Plutonium scarcity caused problems with time travel, turned garbage and waste into an energy source. Misha explains how modern know-how can replicate the procedure of turning trash into hydrogen fuel.

Powered by hydrogen, the Toyota Mirai fuel cell vehicle is introduced to the Back to the Future stars in a cinematic manner. Toyota credits October 21st as the date the Mirai goes on-sale to the public. A vehicle associated with more than 5,600 patents, the Mirai can go as far as 300 miles without emitting any harmful emissions. At a price of $57,500 initially in the California area, the Toyota Mirai is also available through a 36-month lease for $499 per month. Up to 3,000 Toyota Mirais are planned to be offered in the United States.

The 2016 Toyota Mirai is not the only vehicle to appear prominently in the short film. A 2016 Tundra, styled after Marty McFly's dream Toyota 4x4 pickup in 1985, appears in "Fueled by the Future" as Misha's personal ride. Also look for the time-travelling DeLorean's cameo.

Toyota's Fuel by the Future video is provided below:


Production Starts for Tenth Generation Civic at Honda's Alliston Plant

Photo Credit: Honda of Canada Manufacturing

For the tenth generation model of their staple Civic compact car, Honda has made monumental strides insuring the new vehicle's successful 2016 model year release.

After getting chastised by the automotive press and some previous owners for being too conservative with the creation of the ninth generation Civic, Honda has now been forced to make a riskier move for 2016. Seeking to regain some of the Honda Civic's lustre as a segment leader in direct tune with the demands of the consumer, the larger vehicle offers a turbocharged engine option, high-tech interior features and last but not least a bold, cutting-edge styling. This week at Alliston's Honda of Canada Manufacturing plant, the all-new 2016 Civic Sedan begins the trek towards new car customers bracing to find a receptive audience.

Rolling off the Canadian assembly line on Tuesday, the first production examples of the four-door 2016 Civic came together with celebrated fare among Honda of Canada Manufacturing. President of Honda's manufacturing arm Dan Smith as well as the president and CEO of Honda Canada Jerry Chenkin were present in Alliston, Ontario to welcome global production of the car. "Our team also set a new benchmark, taking on the incredible challenge of being the lead plant for the global launch of this new Civic, and we're committed to delivering world-class Civic quality for our customers here in North America and around the world," said Honda of Canada Manufacturing's president Dan Smith. 



Photo Credit: Honda of Canada Manufacturing



The best-selling brand in Canada 17 years consecutively, the Honda Civic has made a cozy home in the country. Complying to the demands of drivers, Civic's Canadian connection is aided by the fact the vehicle contributes to employment. Honda's Alliston, Ontario based operations is entering into its 30th anniversary where 4,000 employees (classified as associates by the auto company). When the first 2016 Honda Civic Sedan left the assembly line of the Alliston facility on Tuesday, it was the first time a North American production plant led the construction of an all-new generation of the car. Production of the new Honda Civic was made possible thanks to a $857-million dollar investment made into the Alliston manufacturing complex (a contribution of ten percent of that investment value was also made by the provincial government of Ontario). Globally, the 2016 Honda Civic will be built at a total of 11 manufacturing facilities.

On the North American continent, more than 9 million Honda Civics has been produced split relatively evenly with the Canadian Alliston plant and American production factories. Currently, Greensburg, Indiana serves as the home of Civic production in the United States. Boasting a immense North American manufacturing presence created over an extended period of time, Honda has been building vehicles stateside since 1982 as well as in Canada since 1986.

Leading tenth generation Honda Civic production with the sedan variant, the automaker promises the imminent arrival of the two-door coupe, Si models, a five-door and the Civic Type-R are also being promised for the North American driving public in the near future.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Castrol Pledges 90-Second Oil Changes with Nexcel


Photo Credit: Castrol Ltd.

Since the first revolution of an automotive gasoline engine was accomplished, there has been a need for support systems to insure a second, third or, in the case of the vehicles we drive today, several thousand revolutions for minute can be completed. Providing the necessary lubrication for an engine to operate consistently, engine oil remains one of the most important ingredients of a vehicle.

Often referred to as the life blood of a car, engine oil routinely needs the automotive equivalent to a transfusion better known as an oil change. For a century, new engine oil had to be poured from a can or plastic container. Oil changes are a simple form of maintenance complicated by the extraction of older oil and the replenishment with new fluid. Recent years, an added wrinkle to older oil has been in adhering to the proper, environmentally-conscious method for disposal. All and all, the typical oil change including the replacement of an oil filter averages about 20 minutes. Thanks to new, ground-breaking technology introduced by engine oil giant Castrol, the 20-minute task could be performed in a mere 90 seconds.

Technology that will turn an oil change into experience as brief as a fuel stop, Castrol introduces Nexcel. Roughly resembling the size of a small cooler, the Nexcel oil containment cell compresses the entire basic oil change into a single assembly. Depicted as being located within the engine compartment, the Nexcel can be easily removed and replaced in a manner described as 13 times faster than conventional oil changes.


Photo Credit: Castrol Ltd.



The Nexcel system functions similarly to the dry sump oiling system where a reservoir located away from the engine stores engine oil. Installation and removal of the Nexcel are not the only place where the system touts high performance. Castrol claims Nexcel opens the door to a new generation of advanced engineered engine oils. Vehicles connected to a Nexcel system are said to be tested at oil flows of 600 liters per minute (up to 20 times greater than what is present with the oiling system of conventional vehicles). Nexcel has also been evaluated in performance applications of extreme braking. In fact, one of the first applications of the Nexcel system will be in the high-performance, track-only Aston Martin Vulcan.

The Nexcel system touts several advantages in addition to the speedier oil change routine. Nexcel provides cleaner, greener oil changes. Eliminating the mess associated with emptying old oil and pouring in new engine oil, the cell technique also provides more efficient recycling of fluids. Oil is contained in the Nexcel can be repurposed with little risk of misdirection into more environmentally hazardous locations.


Photo Credit: Castrol Ltd.



Castrol CEO Paul Waterman greatly champions the potential of the Nexcel system saying, “We believe this is the biggest leap forward in oil change technology in the history of the combustion engine. Castrol’s engineers are leaders in their field and have come up with a really innovative piece of technology.” Supported by quick unit changes, better engine performance and improved environmental impact with more than 200,000 road tankers less virgin oil needed, the chairman of the Nexcel advisory board Richard Parry-Jones also strongly sells the advantages of the system.  “Nexcel represents one of its most significant innovations. It offers a solution to a problem that is increasing on the radar scope of manufacturers and when the Nexcel technology becomes standardised, people will wonder why we did it any other way,” said Parry-Jones.  

Nexcel’s first use on the Aston Martin Vulcan (featuring a chassis tub created by Canadian company Multimatic) is definitely an extreme field test for a new oil system. Working alongside a 7.0-liter V12 engine generating more than 800 horsepower, Nexcel wants to ambitiously become the new standard in oil containment.  










Monday, October 5, 2015

Canadian Pricing for 2016 Chevrolet Camaro Coupe Announced



As the Chevrolet Camaro nears it 50th anniversary since introduction, there is excitement created by an all-new version of the vehicle that restated the bowtie’s sports car performance reputation. In the previous two generations of the Camaro, Canada had a major part in bringing the affordable, rear-wheel drive pony car to life.

Canadian pricing for the new generation Chevrolet Camaro clearly expresses the cost of pony car aggression for north of the border performance seekers. MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price) for the 2016 Camaro will start at $28,245 in Canada. For those interested to know the difference between the Canadian and United States price, there is a $1,550 separation. The base model of the 2016 Camaro is  $2,575 lower than its 2015 counterpart. The addition of a standard turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is a main contributor to the reduced vehicle price tag. The 275-horsepower powerplant replaces the still-available 335-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 as the Camaro’s base engine. At the higher side of the performance spectrum, the 2016 Camaro SS powered by an all-new 455-horsepower 6.2-liter LT1 V-8 engine comes as a pricier indulgence. For 2016, the Camaro coupe in 1SS  trim will retail for $42,150. Compared to the 2015 model, the new generation vehicle is roughly $1,000 more.

From 1993 to 2002, Sainte-Therese, Quebec was the home for the last generation F-body platform version of Camaro. Resurrection of Chevrolet’s pony car drew upon the expert labour of General Motors of Canada’s historic Oshawa Assembly Plant. From 2009 to 2015, the Chevrolet Camaro and all high-performance variants such as the Z/28 and 580-horsepower ZL1 were made in Canada.

It’s already been reported that Chevrolet Camaro production has been yanked from Canada for the first time since 1992. However, there remains some consolation for hard-working Canadian manufacturing relating to the sixth-generation Camaro. During an event that brought the 2016 Camaro north of the border for the first time and attended by GM Canada President Steve Carlisle, it was announced the LT1 V-8 powerplant will be built at the company’s St Catharines Powertrain facility. In recent years, the 3.6-liter V-6 LFX engine used in the Chevrolet Camaro has been produced at the St. Catharines plant.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Brawny Strength Meets Smart Technologies for 2017 Ford Super Duty

Photo Credit: Ford Motor Company


A segment appearing on the surface to be working contrary to the modern automobile segment, the extended-duty three-quarter and one-ton pickup truck market has been facing the same type of scrutiny as passenger vehicles. Greater efficiency and improved technologies are almost universal traits sought from the latest vehicles. While passenger cars and crossovers are intent to promote better fuel economy as well as a more enriching commuting experience with infotainment systems, pickup trucks are expected to make the most from a powerful engine for greater towing and hauling strength. Ford Motor Company’s critically-acclaimed rethinking of their highly-popular, half-ton F-150 pickup truck showed a bold departure from the traditions of the work vehicle segment. Creating lighter weight, intelligently-equipped vehicles with the F-150, the 2017 Super Duty is the next chapter in Ford trucks’ new book on building a trusted hauler for the 21st century.    

The 2015 model year F-150 pushed Ford as well as the entire auto industry into a new realm of pickup truck construction through the extensive use of aluminum. Body panels of the 2017 Super Duty employ military-grade aluminum providing weight reduction as well as added benefit of dust resistance; an ideal characteristic for dusty, dirty work sites where a heavy pickup such as a Ford Super Duty would be found. The new aluminum-bodied Super Duty is based on a fully boxed frame chassis constructed almost entirely in high-strength steel. Boasting 24 times greater stiffness than the Super Duty it is succeeding, the high-strength streel combines with eight cross-members with through-welded construction. With advancements made to the 2017 model year Super Duty’s structural rigidity, Ford achieves an overall vehicle weight that is up to 350 pounds lighter than the current high-capacity pickup trucks.



Photo Credit: Ford Motor Company


As we have grown to expect from the F-Series Super Duty line, the styling is conveying a more muscular persona than the F-150 half-ton. In previous generations, the Ford Super Duty’s design would greatly flex its muscle over the F-150. The 2017 model still possesses a tough truck look but there is somewhat less dramatic than with past instances. A massive front grille and a stacked, rectangular headlamp housing design immediately distinguishes the 2017 Ford Super Duty trucks. Quad-beam LED headlights and tailgates are offered through advanced lighting technology introduced on the new truck. The ‘Super Duty’ imprint is worn on the hood lid just above the grille. Bulkier side mirrors as well as side louvers also define the Super Duty line.


Photo Credit: Ford Motor Company


The practicality of a large bed provides several features unique to the Super Duty. The BoxLink system incorporates metal bracket and customized cleats to securely travel with a wide array of cargo types. The tailgate of the 2017 Ford Super Duty line of trucks can be locked and released remotely for convenience through the use of a key fob. LED illumination within the cargo box provides extra vision for locating items in darkened conditions.


Photo Credit: Ford Motor Company



Offered in Regular Cab, SuperCab and Crew Cab models, the interior of the new Ford Super Duty is completely refreshed. A dual compartment glove box is incorporated with the cabin while easy upfitting opportunities exist thanks to a overhead console featuring auxiliary switches. These switches can be programmed to operate a variety of equipment such as a snowplow. Ford’s all-new SYNC 3 infotainment is available on the 2017 Super Duty that operates through an eight-inch touchscreen. Sophisticated safety equipment such as Blind Spot Information System, Lane departure warning as well as an adaptive cruise control system and collision warning with brake support can provide additional peace of mind on or off a work site. XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum trim levels will allow a buyer to determine the level of luxury they are seeking with the 2017 Ford Super Duty line.


Photo Credit: Ford Motor Company


Powerplant choices for the 2017 Ford Super Duty remains familiar to current owners of the truck line-up. A 6.2-liter V-8 engine is slated to be the base powerplant on the 2017 F-250 Super Duty. Something new to the Ford Super Duty is a TorqShift-G transmission developed for the 6.2-liter powered models. The six-speed TorqShift-G transmission pledges to deliver improved fuel economy and torque. For ultimate torque production, the 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbocharged diesel V-8 engine returns to the Super Duty line-up for 2017. Chassis cab models will also present the option of a 6.8-liter V-10 powerplant. No performance numbers have been released regarding either the gasoline or diesel engines with the 2017 Ford Super Duty trucks. Since the Ram HD line recently moved to upstage Ford’s toughest diesel trucks with 900 pound-feet of torque, don’t expect Ford to take this lying down.

Through advanced trailer tow technology, As many as seven cameras are available on the 2017 Ford Super Duty providing an incredible view all around the truck. Four of the cameras are enough to create a 360-degree view around the pickup truck. In addition to the cameras placed on and around the front grille, side view mirrors, roof as well as the tailgate, the seventh camera can be mounted on the rear of the trailer itself providing a rear visual perception directly behind the towed load.

Going on sale for the latter part of 2016, the all-new Ford Super Duty’s new, more intelligent work toughness is certain to be put through its paces quickly. Super Duty chief engineer Craig Schmatz summed up the performance of the 2017 truck saying, “The bottom line is Super Duty customers will be able to tow and haul more than ever before.”

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Dirty Trick by Volkswagen Led to Sale of Dirty Diesels in North America

Photo Credit: Chris Nagy


On Monday night, Volkswagen was in New York City wanting focus to be on the premiere of their new 2016 model year Passat sedan. Instead, the German-based auto company was seen largely as the perpetrators of one of the most sinister new-car emission law breaches in current automotive history.

Announced on Friday, September 18th, the United States EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) issued a notice of violation to Volkswagen in regards to members of their diesel engine family sold in North America. Diesel versions of the Volkswagen Beetle, Golf, Jetta, Passat as well as the Audi A3 (a premium vehicle based on the same platform as the Golf) produced in model years between 2009 and 2015 are all embroiled in a wild controversy. Altogether, the total vehicles affected amounts to around 500,000 cars in the United States and Canada. Championed by Volkswagen by a "TDI Clean Diesel", these vehicles powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel engine have been spewing up to 40 times greater nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions than the EPA standard causing a greater amount to damage to the environment than intended.

What makes the emission violation so distressing is the manner Volkswagen has allegedly tried to sneak their TDI diesel vehicles into the marketplace. Uncovered by an researchers at West Virginia University, software apparently allowed Volkswagen Group to fool the EPA and North American driving public in general for years that their vehicles were in compliance of emission rules. Referred to by the EPA and defined by the Clean Air Act as a "defeat device", software could detect when an emission test was underway and activate the vehicle's full emission control systems. During regular on-road driving, the defeat device allowed greenhouse emissions greater than the levels tested to flow out of the exhaust system.

With the announcement of the non-complying emissions as well as news investigations by the EPA and CARB (California Air Resources Board), Volkswagen confirmed that defeat devices were in the affected vehicles. "I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public. We will cooperate fully with the responsible agencies, with transparency and urgency, to 
clearly, openly, and completely establish all of the facts of this case. Volkswagen has ordered an external investigation of this matter." said in a statement by Volkswagen AG CEO Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn.

While the announcement was revealed on a Friday, it wasn't until the three days later on Monday that Volkswagen met a major fire-storm. The stock price of the company was hammered hard in just a single day. Starting Monday's session in the 162-163 Euro price range per share, the value has fallen more than 30 points 24 hours later. At dealerships, customers are unable to purchase the affected TDI models. With only a short time passing since the revelation, Merchant Law Group has filed a case action lawsuit in British Columbia's Supreme Court was filed on Monday. The law firm also pledges that similar suits will be before courts in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec in the coming days.

The fallout of this is environmental violation by Volkswagen Group appears to still be reaching a pike. Civil penalties as well as potential criminal charges are possible in the United States that could amount up to 18 billion dollars (though a settlement for less is highly likely). The defeat device software also has other countries such as South Korea investigating emissions of Volkswagen and Audi products sold on their soil.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Honda Civic Sedan Goes Radical for Tenth Generation


 

For decades, Honda has been able to depend upon their compact Civic as the bread and butter model for the brand. A reliable, trustworthy vehicle delivering much of what the overall driver is looking for in a car, the Honda Civic has been popular. In Canada, the Civic has spent the past 17 years as the best-selling car. Canada is also the proud home of a production facility for the economy car with the Alliston, Ontario manufacturing plant.

A car that long enjoyed the spotlight as the example of efficient small cars, the current Civic in 2015 has arguably lost perspective of the automotive marketplace in the second decade of the 21st century. The ninth-generation Honda Civic launched for the 2012 model year for the North American market was received poorly. In the following year, an unusual early revision of the Honda Civic took care of some problems but issues with the bland styling and dated engine technology plagued the car in recent years. The emerge of the mundane ninth-generation Civic came as drastic gains were made by competitors such as Ford, Chevrolet, Nissan and Hyundai. A parallel with the classic benchmark of automobiles, the Ford Model T, the Honda Civic was accused of falling victim to its reliance to design and technologies that amazed previous generations of drivers but is outclassed over years by enhanced competition. Rather than backing down as the Model T nameplate did, the Civic approaches 2016 as a complete reinvention of itself.




Introducing the 2016 Honda Civic Sedan

After a ninth-generation restyle that was judged by many as too tame, Honda started with a clean slate on the tenth-generation Civic’s exterior. The 2016 Civic Concept first shown at the 2015 New York Auto Show teased us to a redefining era for the Honda compact car. At first look, fans of the current Civic Sedan may have a hard time believing this new car is the descendant of the vehicle they knew. From vanilla styling, the 2016 Honda Civic realizes a modernistic appearance. The overall sedan body style is sleeker with a shorter than ever notch of the trunk lid. Front and rear styling symbolizes Honda’s new approach for the brand’s DNA. Headlights of the new car feature standard LED daytime running lights while the C-shaped taillights also include LED use. Improvements to ergonomics on the 2016 Civic Sedan will be noted at the rear. A larger capacity trunk is accessible by a trunk lid that features a lower liftover height for easier loading and unloading of cargo.



 

Wider, lower and based on a 1.2-inch longer wheelbase, the 2016 Civic Sedan’s sophisticated, sporty demeanour is said to be 12 percent better than its predecessor. A torsional rigidity improvement of 25 percent thanks in part to the increased use of ultra-high-strength steel provides a safer cabin enclosure as well as a more stable structure. The new Civic Sedan is 68 pounds lighter than the 2015 model despite being larger in size.

In addition to the familiar coupe and sedan model, a five-door hatchback body style will return to the North American Honda Civic line-up. The hatchback presence will mark the first time in roughly 25 years where such a body configuration was available in the United States and Canada (last known as the Wagon or Wagovan).



 

Economy Driving to the Extremes of Technology

An all-new suspension design is employed on the new, lower floor 2016 Honda Civic. With standard four-wheel disc brakes, the revised handling of the compact car also incorporates a new Agile Handling Assist brake-torque vectoring system. Honda Sensing suite will also be available on the 2016 Civic consisting of features such as Collision Mitigation Braking and Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow.

Two powerplant choices will be offered on the 2016 Honda Civic including the vehicle’s most powerful base engine offered on the car. In addition to the standard 2.0-liter i-VTEC four-cylinder being stronger in performance, except better fuel economy from the base powerplant. For the first time, a turbocharged powerplant will be offered on the 2016 Honda Civic Sedan. A promised move by Honda, the introduction of a turbocharged engine with gasoline direct injection technology will result in the most potent powerplant offered outside the Civic Si family for the small car. Fuel maximized fuel economy, the 2016 Honda Civic will utilize continuously variable transmission on most models. A six-speed manual transmission will be offered on the LX trim level of the Honda Civic Sedan.

Details on the future Si models have not been released but should be announced soon. With the increased engine output provided to the conventional Civic, expect a more powerful Si to exceed its 204-horsepower level. North American audiences can also look forward to the debut of the Civic Type-R. An obvious effort to better the Focus RS, the first Honda Civic Type-R destined for Canada and the United States should produce more than 300 horsepower when it arrives. Other suspension, mechanical and aerodynamic improvements should make the Type-R version one of the feistiest Civics ever to leave the showroom floor.

 


Compact Car with Roomier Interior

The new Honda Civic Sedan’s interior has not been ignored in the evolutionary restyle. With 3.7 cubic-feet more interior space, the 2016 Honda Civic is among the largest in the compact car segment. Rear seat leg room within the new interior grows by a full two inches compared to the 2015 Civic. A body-sealing procedure will lead to significantly less unwanted road noise seeping into the cabin. Acoustic glass, triple-sealed doors and increased sound deadening around the engine compartment will contribute to a quiet ride.





In the driver’s seat, a new control centre greets the motorist. The polarizing two-tier instrument cluster is gone on the 2016 Civic. Instead, the driver overlooks a more compact instrument layout that can be easily-viewed in a single glance. Observed through the high-end Touring trim version of the Honda Civic, the steering wheels features multifunction controls while the remainder of the dashboard appears clean and tidy. A practical display of the new Civic Sedan’s enriched cabin is the inclusion of a reconfigurable center console that provides as much as 7.2 liters of storage room. 

Equipped with a Display Audio with a seven-inch high-definition touchscreen, the latest Civic courts the tech-seeking buyer with the gadgets being sought in today’s compact car segment. Like the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is integrated with the new Honda Civic providing a more connected travelling experience.



Scheduled for rapid release this fall, Honda isn’t leaving the 10th generation Civic Sedan with a lot of time to settle on the car magazine pages or blogs.


Information and photo source: Honda North America