Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Formula E Cars Zaps Onto Real Racing 3

Photo Credit: Screenshot Via Real Racing 3/EA

In an ironic move, cars introduced to the Real Racing 3 app share a power source similar to that maintained in electronic devices running the popular game. As the holiday season started, the developers behind Real Racing 3 announced access to updated content made possible through a new partnership in the motorsport world. For the first time on the app, the all-electric race vehicles belonging to the FIA Formula E championship can now be wheeled by an accelerometer and touchscreen pad.

The addition of FIA Formula E comprises of three race vehicles as well as the introduction of a new Hong Kong street course. Digital representations of the 2016/2017 Formula E championship batter-powered race cars are based on the SRT_01E vehicle created by a collaborative effort of companies including Spark Racing Technology, Renault and Dallara. For Real Racing 3, cars included is the Renault e.dams team's Z.E.16, NextEV NIO's TCR Formula 002 and as well as ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport's FE02.



Photo Credit: Screenshot Via Real Racing 3/EA

Started on December 23rd, the Renault Z.E. 16 became the first vehicle made accessible to Real Racing 3 users as part of the 'High Voltage' challenge. A 9-day challenge consisting of a multitude of driving tasks with the race car, winning the competition will reward you the Renault Z.E. 16 Formula E machine for free.

However, transitioning through levels of the High Voltage challenge, players will ultimately be faced with making upgrades to the car with in-game currency. As is the case with other challenges involving new cars on Real Racing 3, you will require a considerable amount of in-game credits to be able to reach the opportunity to win the Formula E car. From my experience, getting past the 3rd day of competition in the High Voltage challenge appears to be a pricey ordeal. Upgrades to the tires & wheels with in-game currency is R$ 66,500 at the first level while an engine enhancement costs R$ 85,000.

Following the conclusion of the High Voltage event, future challenges in Real Racing 3 will provide the opportunity to win the NextEV NIO and ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport race cars. All three Formula E cars will also be purchasable in-game through the career competition with two events available to run at the Master level section. The Renault Z.E. 16 will be the first car offered for purchase on January 2nd.


Photo Credit: Screenshot Via Real Racing 3/EA

Launched in 2013, the Real Racing 3 app has risen to become party to 200 million downloads up to mobile devices. A racing game consisting of competitions based around what is now 171 vehicles, the EA (Electronic Arts) backed motorsports experience features a diverse range of cars. Conventional, affordable sports cars such as a Nissan 350Z is available near the entry-level of the game while increasingly more exotic vehicles will be found deeper into a player's progression (or bank account if willing to make some very deep indulgences into buying in-app currency with real money). Cars such as the Laferrari and McLaren F1 represent exotic choices in the game in addition to concept or race machines. Adding the GTE-Pro vehicles such as the Ford GT and Chevrolet Corvette C7.R earlier this year, Devoting an entire section to NASCAR stock car racing, offering access to LMP1 category sports cars such as the Audi R18 e-tron quattro as well as classic racers such as the Ferrari 375 F1 car,  


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Audi Intends To Scale Up In Detroit With Q8 Concept

Photo Credit: Audi of America

In less than a month, the potential of a new year in the automotive sector will be in full bloom in Detroit. For a longtime a showcase largely reserved for new cars and ideas of the American automakers, growing interests of other brands has elevated the North American International Auto Show into a pinnacle global event. German luxury car maker Audi will be among the world motoring contingent choosing the 2017 edition of the auto show in Detroit to debut their latest vehicle imagery in the form of the Q8 concept.

Previewed in pair of sketches ahead of the 2017 North American International Auto Show, the Audi Q8 concept front and side exterior views reveal a sizable crossover infused with a healthy performance appetite. Featuring a long hood and long flat roof and a wide front version of Audi's Singleframe grille, the Q8 concept vehicle's outer appearance does convey an intentional sport design. Although premiering as a concept in Detroit, there is quite a bit of optimism that the vehicle may be the road-worthy reality.

The front end sketch of the Audi Q8 concept says quite a bit. The octagonal Singleframe is given a broad, aggressive look. It is also at the front where the wheel fender flaring is observed in full effect. As the Q8 concept reaches its cabin area, bodywork encapsulates a large interior space. Four seats will be installed in the show vehicle all providing an equal level of premium comfort.


Photo Credit: Audi of America


As captivating as the concept images are of the Audi Q8, a great deal of focus in Detroit may be on the mechanicals behind the crossover's design. Persistent rumours imply an all-electric powertrain will demonstrate the capacity for competing with the Tesla Model X. From the front end sketch of the Q8 concept, the e-tron badge is apparent on the lower air dam. If the German automaker's plans are for all-electric propulsion, it's fair to point out their attempts to launch into the automotive sector had not gone well so far. The all-electric R8 e-tron ended production before many had known production had even started on the vehicle. A highlight during the 2017 R8 lineup's premiere, the e-tron all-electric model received an unceremoniously short run of under 100 examples.

The physical Audi Q8 concept vehicle will be unveiled at the 2017 North American International Auto Show on January 9th at 8 am eastern time.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Markham's Multimatic Assembles First Production 2017 Ford GT Supercars

Photo Credit: Ford Motor Company

Almost two years since its initial introduction to the public at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the Ford GT has enjoyed some busy duties. The supercar propelled by one of the most powerful twin-turbocharged V-6 engines ever placed inside a North American built production car has been in the spotlight even before the first vehicle was handed to its first owner. An auto show darling and driven in virtual form in Forza Motorsport 6, the racing version of the Ford GT became a quick spectacle in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Taking three class victories in the North American sports car racing series in its debut season in 2016, the year was highlighted by the LMGTE Pro category victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. With a modern pedigree established, the first production examples of the 2017 Ford GT will work on cementing its status as a road car.  


Photo Credit: Ford Motor Company

Taking place in Markham, Ontario under the guidance of Multimatic (a company with ties to motorsport as well as a supplier auto manufacturers), assembly of the Ford GT is now underway in a new facility created specifically for the car. Ford's executive vice president for Product Development and chief technical officer Raj Nair was present the ring in production for the first 2017 Ford GTs destined for road-going customers. Adding that building street legal Ford GT was the second objective following a successful debut at Le Mans, Nair commented, “For everyone involved in designing and developing this car, including all of our employees and suppliers, this is a moment to celebrate,”

Construction of the 2017 Ford GT recognizes the low-production nature of the high-powered, high-cost exotic car. Each version of the machine is coming together through skillful hands of Multimatic personnel marrying the carbon fiber components, EcoBoost engine and the active aerodynamics into a completed vehicle. Only 250 Ford GTs per year are scheduled to be produced from the Ontario assembly line.

Ford hasn't even announced formal performance or pricing figures on the 2017 Ford GT to the public. While the vehicle is known to be propelled by a high-output, Twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine connected with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, the auto company behind the supercar has only officially appraised the horsepower at more than 600 (although some publications have . Speculation of the 2017 Ford GT's pricing has been placed between $400,000 to $450,000 in the United States.    


Photo Credit: Ford Motor Company

Even with the pre-production success of what is a third iteration supercar, the newest Ford GT has big tire tracks to fill. The original benchmark was set by the 1960s Ferrari-fighting Ford GT40 that took three consecutive victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans from 1966 to 1968. Street legal production versions of the first GT40 models were essentially a means of homologation so it could build a racing dynasty.

In the 2000s, a continuation of the car featured the same basic shape of the pioneering vehicle infused with modern technology. Powered by a supercharged 5.4-liter V-8, just over 4,000 of the second coming of Ford's supercar were built. Constructed between 2004 and 2006, the Ford GT didn't enjoy many milestones on the race track but gains significance in another way. 2005-2006 model year Ford GTs are now hotly contested at major automotive auctions currently selling above the original MSRP. The enthusiasm that has sparked bidding on the previous GT appears to have spread to the new car. When the online order process opened for the first 500 examples of the third generation Ford GT in April, 6,506 completed applications were filled out by potential buyers in one month.

Even before the assembly of a road-going Ford GT started, it was announced that production for the supercar was extended. Sparked by heavy demand, Ford committed to an additional two production years securing the assembly for 500 additional vehicles.




Sunday, December 18, 2016

Alfa Romeo Confirms Canadian Pricing for Giulia Sedan

Photo Credit: Chris Nagy

Since the merger of Fiat Group Automobiles and Chrysler Corporation was announced, the framework for installing a greater dose of Italian content from the former company in the United States and Canada was laid. With Dodge, Chrysler and the Ram brand all heavily driven by Fiat's European influence heading into the 2017 model year, the door had also opened to a pair of brands that returned following meager presence on Canadian roads for years. The Fiat 500 that arrived in late 2010 brought one of the world's oldest running automobile brands back and has been reinforced by added models including the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider. In 2014, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles gave Alfa Romeo a new chance to shine again in upper part of North America (the brand had already been present in Mexico in recent years). Following the arrival of the 4C sports car and the 4C Spider that came in 2015, the Alfa Romeo name is prepared to adorn a new sedan for 2017.

A new vehicle on a global scale, the Alfa Romeo Giulia stands as a premium performance sedan boasting available all-wheel drive, an exterior and interior exploring athletic stance as well as potent turbocharged powerplants. The Giulia is assembled as Alfa Romeo's first four-door sold in Canada after a roughly 22-year absence. Naturally a more sophisticated vehicle in technology and design than the Alfa Romeo 164 sedan, the newest Italian sport sedan will be equipped with standard heated leather seats, Formula 1-styled steering wheel, 6.5-inch infotainment screen, bi-xenon headlight with LED daytime running lights and a stature promoted by a near 50/50 weight balance for optimized handling.


Photo Credit: FCA US LLC



In preparations for the early 2017 release of the Alfa Romeo, the Italian-built sedan's pricing information for the Canadian market presents the vehicle entering within premium company. The base 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia equipped with a 280-horsepower, turbocharged and direct-injected 2.0-liter engine will start at $48,995. The amount for the Giulia is slightly less than the 2016 Cadillac CTS 2.0t but less than an all-wheel drive version of the 300-horsepower Infiniti Q50. Upgrading to all-wheel drive on the 2017 Giulia can be accomplished through an additional $2,000. The all-wheel drive option is also available on the Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti sedan featuring greater luxury content at a $50,995 trim level starting price. Expanded equipment items included on the 2017 Giulia Ti includes 18-inch wheels, front park sensors and real wood accents in the cabin area.

Advertised as the performance pinnacle for the new sedan is the Giulia Quadrifoglio. Fitted with a 505-horsepower 2.9-liter bi-turbo V-6 engine, this high-performance sedan boasts 0 to 60-mile per hour (0 to 96.5 kilometer per hour) acceleration in just 3.8 seconds helping to make the car Alfa Romeo's fastest four-door ever produced. The high-powered Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio will sell for a starting price of $87,995 in Canada equipped with auto racing inspired Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes, carbon fiber Sparco racing seats upholstered with leather and Alcantara, torque vectoring differential as well as a 300-kilometer per hour speedometer.

Although the premium pricing of the 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia may not be a massive obstacle for the vehicle, another factor may play a role in exclusivity for the Italian sedan. Currently in Canada, there is only 7 authorized Alfa Romeo dealerships listed situated in the provinces of Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Honda’s Secret 30th Anniversary In Indy Car Racing

Photo Credit: Engine Developments Ltd.



Too many times, forgetting an anniversary would end with someone spending time in the proverbial doghouse. This has apparently happened this year as the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season concluded with no major celebrations or recognition for what is 30 years since a major current partner of American open wheel racing began participation in the sport. The following article is a collection of the details I’ve learned as well as some insight from engine builder John Judd on what was a quiet 30th anniversary in the Verizon IndyCar Series.

During the week where the 30th running of the Canadian street race now known as the Honda Indy Toronto, I was compelled to capture the flavour of the inaugural event. The viewing experience provided me some insight into a period of time where I was too young to absorb auto racing in the manner I do today. A race that featured television coverage with no regular onscreen statistics, the league used a local yellow flag to retrieve a crashed car driven by the senior Jacques Villeneuve (known today as Uncle Jacques) and the win of Bobby Rahal, the 1986 event also included a spectacle that surprised me. On the engine cover of the Valvoline-sponsored Galles Racing race car driven by Geoff Brabham, I observed Honda branding on the engine cowling.

Since I was born in the 1980s and was not an avid follower of auto racing until the 1990s, I was surprised by to learn about the appearance of the Japanese automaker on the track ahead of their 1990s appearance with Rahal Hogan Racing. Honda’s acknowledged involvement with IndyCar racing reflects on a debut during the 1994 CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams) PPG Indy Car World Series season. This history is acknowledged as official since it marks Honda Performance Development’s entrance. However, for what was less than a two-year stint in the 1980s.  Honda was represented in American open wheel racing through an unusual manner. In fact, first chapter to the black sheep existence what would be the Brabham Honda engine was practically challenged from the start.


Photo Credit: Team Valvoline Press Kit



Consulting the British company Engine Developments Ltd. founded by John Judd and Jack Brabham, the Japanese automaker commissioned the construction of the Indy car power unit after previously successful Formula 2 program participation. In 1979, the race engine developer and Honda partnered to create a 2.0-liter V-6 engine for F2 competition combined with a Ralt chassis. The combination went on to collect multiple championships in the early 1980s. “After working with Honda on their V6 F2 engine 1979 to 1982 we were asked to participate in their plans for an Indy engine” commented Judd. Switching engineering focus from a Formula 2's naturally-aspirated V-6 to an ultra-exotic Indy car’s turbocharged V-8 engine could have been a tricky proposition. However, previous experience working the Cosworth DFX powerplants gave Engine Developments a leg-up in the creation of a Honda-supported effort.

By the end of 1985, Judd and Engine Developments crafted a turbocharged 2.642-liter, eight-cylinder race engine but lost an important backer. Before the powerplant could turn a competitive lap, Honda was no longer officially involved in the program. Despite this, the ignition and fuel delivery system employed on the engine was credited to Honda. “Honda decided to cancel the Indy project around 1985 but kindly allowed us to keep what we had already done and to develop the engine ourselves so we were free to sign up as many customers as we could find.” John Judd remembered as the door was still open for the Brabham Honda engine to race in 1986. Contending in a CART PPG Indy Car World Series with grids dominated by Cosworth engines, one team decided to take a chance on the Brabham Honda powerplant.


Photo Credit: Engine Development Ltd.


In the middle of the 1986 season, the #8 Valvoline-supported Galles Racing race car driven by Geoff Brabham would debut the new engine. The Brabham Honda powerplant started 10th at the Portland International Raceway but showed promise in its premiere. In fact, if not for a spark plug tip, Brabham may have been in position to win. A 7th place result at Portland was nonetheless an impressive maiden voyage.

Later in the 1986 CART PPG Indy Car World Series, a season-best run came in the 500-mile high-speed endurance race at the Michigan International Speedway. A race considered a torture test on race cars and engines, the Brabham Honda powerplant propelling the Valvoline machine ended the race in fourth place despite being involved in a late crash. Though the car started in 28th place, the Valvoline #8 car climbed mythically. One key trait exposed on the Brabham Honda engine was a fuel mileage advantage on the Cosworths in the field.    

Although Portland and Michigan were high points to the 1986 debut of the program, the Brabham Honda engine would not enjoy too many additional successful runs tainted by performance issues in addition to an uncompetitive Lola chassis used by Galles Racing. In the remaining six races on the CART PPG Indy Car World Series schedule, a Cosworth engine powered Brabham’s Valvoline race car instead of the Brabham Honda.


Photo Credit: Indianapolis Motor Speedway



Fully committed to the Brabham Honda engine for the 1987 Indy car season and now running a March chassis, Rick Galles’ team with driver Geoff Brabham scored an 8th place in the second event at Phoenix International Raceway. 1987 would also be the debut of the Judd-developed Brabham Honda engine at the Indianapolis 500. Alongside regular driver Geoff Brabham at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a second Galles Racing entry powered by the Brabham Honda engine was placed in the 1987 Indy 500 driven by Jeff MacPherson. The American MacPherson started in 12th pla
ce while Brabham was in the middle of the fifth row in 14th place. While Geoff Brabham’s vehicle dropped out of the 500-mile with an oil pressure issue, Jeff MacPherson’s #11 car remained in competition finishing in 8th place 12 lap behind winner Al Unser. The Brabham Honda powered car was the only non-Cosworth propelled vehicle to cross the finish line at the 1987 edition of the Indy 500. While it would be the first time Honda would be connected to powering race cars at the Brickyard, neither the race car of Brabham nor MacPherson prominently featured the ‘H’ symbol and was marked with “Honda West” wording.





Later in 1987, the Brabham Honda engine posted two runner-up finishes in Pocono and at Elkhart Lake’s Road America. A final podium was obtained in Miami’s Tamiami Park with a third place finish by Brabham. The podium in Miami would be the last accolade for the Brabham Honda name. “By 1988 we were supplying engines for F1 and F3000 under the Judd brand so we had also switched the Indy branding to Judd by that time, of course with Honda's agreement,” John Judd recollects. The Judd AV V-8 engine was fielded by Truesports in 1988 where Bobby Rahal piloted it to a Pocono 500 win. The Judd engine originally inspired by Honda’s motivation would continue to be run through to the early 1990s. Engine Development and Honda maintained a relationship beyond Indy Car. “In the background we had still been working with Honda on their F3000 engine which was initially based on our joint Indy engine platform.” said Judd.

The Brabham Honda engine’s status in past Indy car competition will likely remain a rarely mentioned footnote in racing. It’s unofficial status with Honda’s auto racing history presents conflicted observations for how to address the 1980s powerplant’s short run. However, as the unofficial entry towards what is now a great IndyCar presence, could the Brabham Honda era be suited for commemoration as the beginning of the current journey.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Production Begins In Windsor For 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Minivan

Photo Credit: Chris Nagy


Purposed to be the choice family shuttle heading into 2017, the Chrysler Pacifica premiered less than a year ago at North American International Auto Show in Detroit centered on rising the bar for comfort, practicality and advanced technology, Advertised as a vehicle with 40 firsts in the minivan category, the 2017 Pacifica's momentous roll-out is bolstered by remarkable available equipment such as Forward Collision Warning-Plus, hands-free sliding door and liftgate opening, a Stow 'n Vac integrated vacuum supplied RIDGID and a rear seat Uconnect Theater entertainment suite consisting of internet-enabled 10-inch touchscreens that can be used to play built-in games. In addition to innovations made in the name of safety and comfort for the new Chrysler minivan, the Pacifica would be the first Fiat Chrysler Automobiles product sold in North America with a plug-in hybrid powertrain.  

Featuring a modified version of the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine operating on an Atkinson cycle combustion configuration, the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid will run short distances on electric battery power. A two-motor electric propulsion layout is fed by the energy stored in a 16-kWh lithium-ion battery providing the minivan with a 33-mile (53-kilometer) driving range. Through a 240-volt charging source, the 2017 Pacifica Hybrid's battery can fully charge in just two hours. In justifying the electric range of the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, Head of Passenger Car Brands, Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and Fiat, FCA - North America Tim Kuniskis says, “Minivan drivers travel an average of around 48 kilometres each day, meaning that most Pacifica Hybrid owners will be able to complete their daily activities solely on electric power,”

This past week, the first of its kind plug-in hybrid minivan made a historic final journey in Windsor, Ontario. On December 1st, the first Chrysler Pacifica fitted with the plug-in hybrid powertrain was assembled by the workers at FCA's Windsor Assembly Plant. Under the guidance of 5,900 skilled hands of automotive workers, production commencement of the electrified family mover comes after 33 years of Canadian manufacturing of minivans within the complex. To accommodate the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica and Pacfica Hybrid, FCA invested more than 1 billion Canadian dollars in upgrading the Windsor facility. The construction of the first Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid model in the last month of 2016 appears slightly off the automaker's initial timetable. In the press release for the minivan, the plug-in hybrid version of the Pacifica was slated to arrive in showrooms within the second half of 2016.

In Canada, the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid's pricing will start at $56,495. However, the electric/gasoline plug-in hybrid powertrain provides additional savings through the government through provincial credits. A price reduction up to $14,000 is offered through the Ontario Electric Vehicle Incentive Program. Electrified vehicle incentives in the province of Quebec and British Columbia also allow the final price to drop below the $50,000-range.



Friday, December 2, 2016

Canadian Auto Insurance Company Offers New Discount For Vehicles With Automatic Emergency Braking

Photo Credit: Toyota Canada Inc.

Like it or not, the next decade of motoring is embracing a reality where advanced technologies will play a more involved role. While optimistic futurists are hedging bids that full self-driving autonomous will be emerging, a more plausible driving future appears more likely to the supported by sensors, cameras and software in a manner that could make a noticeable effort in reducing collisions. One of the more remarkable technology is an automatic emergency braking system that has gained rapid acceptance as a collision avoidance tool. In what has been a relatively short period of time, this automotive safety advancement's potential of reducing severe accidents can now be a tool for car insurance savings in many parts of Canada through one provider.

Through Aviva Canada Inc., drivers of vehicles equipped with automatic emergency braking are entitled to a discount of 15 percent to relevant auto insurance policies. As Aviva becomes the first automobile insurance company in Canada to offer such a deduction related to vehicles equipped with the accident-preventing feature, Executive Vice President of Broker Distribution for Aviva Canada Jason Storah expressed, "Automatic emergency braking is quickly becoming a key feature in preventing collisions and reducing their severity. This means less repair costs and more importantly, fewer injuries," adding that the applying the crash prevention technology as a method for reducing premium costs is 'simple' logic. All customers under Aviva are eligible for the discount that will bring savings to insurance costs related to collision-related coverage (insurance related to theft and vandalism coverage are excluded from the discount. The Aviva Canada 15 percent discount also has no impact on the provinces operating public auto insurance.

The announcement for the large savings for drivers of applicable vehicles also featured the Vice President of  Toyota Canada Inc. Stephen Beatty in attendance along with media. Toyota is one of many automakers offering variations of automatic emergency braking technology but had pledged to include the system in a majority of Canadian sold vehicles in 2017 as part of their Toyota Safety Sense packages. By 2022, almost every new passenger car sold in the United States will be equipped with automatic emergency braking collision avoidance as a standard feature following a commitment from 20 major auto companies. Although the road safety decision was announced through the United States's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, equal rules should likely reflect by vehicles sold in Canada under the timetable. In Europe, automated emergency braking has been made mandatory equipment on all new commercial trucks and buses

Originally introduced as a slow-down aid when braking is applied, the automatic emergency braking system evolved from the first production brake assist system installed by Mercedes-Benz in 1996 called BAS Plus. Providing added braking force under emergency circumstances, BAS Plus and the various similar system introduced by other automobile manufacturers still needs a drivers to react. Automatic emergency braking operates as an intelligent intervention that uses a combinations of sensors, lasers and/or cameras to judge when the vehicle is in danger of an imminent collision slowing it down even without force applied to the brake pedal.

While the idea of self-driving or fully autonomous vehicles has proven controversial, solutions such as intelligent crash avoidance measures including automatic emergency braking has quickly won popularity. According to a study published by the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety), automatic emergency braking could reduce rear end collisions by approximately 40 percent.



Friday, November 18, 2016

EA Makes Real Attempt To Make Amends Following Real Racing 3 Update Uproar

Photo Credit: Real Racing 3/EA

Earlier this month, there was an uproar over the virtual racing app Real Racing 3 as the publisher made some controversial changes during a recent update. Many users complained on social media that aspects relating to the vehicle handling has been altered drastically. As someone who plays Real Racing 3, I concur with the comments there were noticeable changes to the driving dynamics in the game namely more aggressive brake assist and more contentious AI of competitors.

Last week, a video link was added to Real Racing 3 related to what is called the R3 Version 4.7 McLaren update.  In the message, a producer for Real Racing 3 described the changes to the game as unintentional saying it was meant to be limited to a specific component of the racing experience that leaked into updated game. Although the producer's comment on the vehicle controls has not been consistent with what is currently experienced, he did acknowledge a change in the AI. Within the video (the YouTube clip is provided below), a pledge has been made to improve the gaming controls and to make it up to Real Racing 3 players.




In my case, I immediately noticed Real Racing 3 gifted me the McLaren 675LT with a 75 percent off upgrades. Provided for me several days after a challenge concluded where the new tedious controls arguably impacted any major success, I assume the McLaren 675LT was either the mentioned apology or part of the attempts to win back favour with users.

Now the happy owner of a new McLaren supercar, handling issues are still present in the game. The brake assist option continues to be overactive with the 4.7 update. The last time I drove through the bus stop section of the Daytona International Speedway road course, the brake assist is kicking in so early and so hard that the AI competitors will promptly sail by or ram my vehicle. There were also times where in the past I could count on going nearly flat-out in some corners and make up track position. The recent update increase the braking even on 'low' setting to the point the advantage is rendered unavailable. In fact, many races I have found braking anywhere on tracks is enough where a gamer doesn't even need to apply additional brakes. The one advantage of this situation is finding out I can win some events without assists provided my tablet's touchscreen reacts to my finger.

As for the AI changes, I welcome a challenge in playing Real Racing 3. What would be nice is if the winnings at the end of an event could be adjusted to reflect the reward of victory. In the past, I would rerun some easier but well-playing events such as endurance races just so I can compile enough in-game currency to upgrade a car so I can finally complete stages.

Real Racing 3 has not been without its issues. In addition to this recent game-affecting update, the cost of completing through its 'free-to-play with in-game purchase model' (typical with many current apps) proves expensive. However, the driving simulation delivered through Real Racing 3 has remained a fun app game I continue to pick-up regularly. With a tight-lipped announcement for a new addition to the Real Racing 3 game hinted in the video, I will look forward to seeing what virtual automobile I may be driving into 2017.


Monday, November 7, 2016

Real Racing 3 Adds Experimental McLaren MP4-X Concept

Photo Credit: Image from Real Racing 3/Electronic Arts



A recent update of Real Racing 3 has spawned some good and bad traits for the popular racing app.

Starting with the good news, Real Racing 3 is currently offering players to gain access to new McLaren-branded vehicles. Production-based 570GT and 675LT have been added alongside a radical concept racer. The most stunning ride introduced to the app racing game, the McLaren MP4-X was concocted as an extreme example of a Formula 1 car matched with the limits of real-world technology.

Sculpted as an advanced hybrid race car last year as an exercise of McLaren Applied Technologies, the MP4-X's electrical power system consists of generation through typical means such as braking as well as through solar cells. Electrical power is stored in thin batteries orchestrated around the vehicle for weight optimization. Although Formula 1 is already exploiting hybrid race car technology, the McLaren MP4-X's application is beyond the extent currently used in the series.


Photo Credit: Image from Real Racing 3/Electronic Arts


Beyond propulsion, the McLaren MP4-X's dazzlingly sleek appearance is entirely functional for achieving great speeds. Active aerodynamics features electrode-laden wings that electronically adjust the bodywork of the car for track conditions transitioning from high downforce for cornering to a low resistance appearance for straightaways. Although, McLaren developed the MP4-X with grand prix racing in the future in mind, the covered cockpit, fendered wheels and ground effects largely outlaws the car under current Formula 1 rules.

Through a wide array of sensors, almost every aspect of the McLaren MP4-X is monitored. Data from the tires, chassis and even the driver of the race car can be assessed. For the pilot of the MP4-X, gesture controls and holographic instruments would create an operating compartment where no physical steering wheel exists. A heads-up display and a 360-degree augmented reality-like display provides an unprecedented level of awareness.  


Photo Credit: Image from Real Racing 3/Electronic Arts



Bringing the car to a new form of virtual life, Real Racing 3 has given the car specifications. Initially, the McLaren MP4-X's top speed is 250 miles per hour, can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 1.9 seconds, brake from 60 in 47 feet and features 4.0 g cornering grip. Upgrades offered in the game will enhance these performance attributes further.

For the moment, I am unsure of the price of the McLaren MP4-X to purchase in the game but it is currently available as a prize in a 8-day special event.


And now for the bad news...

During the last major download that included the MP4-X as well two McLaren road cars, I noticed a different driving dynamic to many of my races. Now, the brake assist on low is far too aggressive to the point it's overreacting. Some of you may mock the notion of me maintaining this in-game braking nanny on but I leave it at the 'Low' setting since there are occasions where my tablet doesn't realize my finger when I want to brake. For me, the most blatant examples of over-braking my experienced was on chicanes at Melbourne and the bus stop chicane on the Daytona International Speedway road course where I slowed so much I felt like a sitting duck at exit. Initially, I wondered if I had truly turned dreadful when events where I won are a struggle to get a podium but I later reviewed the Real Racing 3 Facebook page as well as Google Play reviews. It was on those sources that I noticed a multitude of comments citing similar changes to the driveability of cars. Another changes appears to be the driving habits of the AI competition. It seems that competing vehicles has been reprogrammed to drive dirtier than I recalled through past experiences.

Too bad Real Racing 3 would be choosing to modify that aspect of their game rather than improve the almost constant times you need to repair one of your vehicles after just a few events (longer races or endurance events often depletes a complete health of a car). It would have also been nice if they can improve the monetary system so a Richard Petty Motorsports NASCAR stock car didn't require 3,000,000 of in-game currency. Of course, the game publisher Electronic Arts want us to infuse real money into Real Racing 3 where a 2,000,000 in-game requires $69.99. If you want to buy Gold pieces (a second in-game currency), the purchase of 183 Gold coins amount to $27.99 and only affords you a handful of lower-tier vehicles. I understand game developers want to make money from free-to-play apps like Real Racing 3 but there has to be value.

With driving dynamics bordering on game-breaking, myself (as well as a number of other long-time enthusiasts of the racing app) are wishing that Real Racing 3 can at least restore the real fun with the game.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Laser Light Show Comes To US With 2017 Audi R8 V10 Plus Exclusive Edition


Photo Credit: Audi AG

It's been more than two years when the beam of some vehicle headlights gained intensity in Europe. In 2014, the first use of laser lighting technology debuted on a pair of niche vehicles (the European BMW i8 and a limited 99-car run of the special edition Audi R8 LMX. Generating a powerful white illumination using an indirect shine of a laser (a laser is projected through a mirror into a phosphorous lens), laser automotive lights may represent the next progression beyond LEDs as a high-beam source. As this lighting concept is slowly becoming a potentially bright opportunity for greater driver visibility during the nighttime, North America has not been involved in the efforts to highlight the use of laser lights. The prohibition on laser lights served as a reminder towards decades where the North American standards for vehicle lighting tends to lag behind European rules. Uncertainty with the technology has prevented its availability at the initial release of the latest 2017 Audi R8 supercar. However, unlike the European-style, body-integrated headlights that took decades before American highway laws permitted the use, Audi has placed the introduction of laser lights on an express track to roads in the United States.

Making its scheduled public debut at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show occurring later this month, a limited edition version of the Audi R8 will feature a full LED headlight system aided by a high intensity laser module. The 2017 Audi R8 V10 plus exclusive edition will consist of just 25 examples retailing at a MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price) of $229,200 US (equating to more than $306,000 in Canadian dollars).

The showcase feature on the special version of the Audi R8 supercar, laser lighting on the exclusive edition will utilize a laser module using four diodes beaming at a wavelength of 450 nanometers (a wavelength resulting in a blue light) into a phosphor converter. The end product is a pure white light that will shine when the R8 V10 plus exclusive edition model is travelling at speeds above 40 miles per hour (64.374 kilometer per hour) depending on driving conditions. In addition to laser lights, dynamic front turn signals will be equipped on he limited release R8 becoming the first Audi product to feature this combination of advanced lighting.


Photo Credit: Audi AG


Captivating in darkness, laser lights' first application on an automobile sold in North America does a lot more to be noticed. A prestigious form for an already exotic quattro all-wheel drive, ten-cylinder engine propelled supercar, the 2017 Audi R8 V10 plus exclusive edition's is visibility identified in the light by a Quantum Gray exterior paint colour with a carbon sideblade and Signal Orange accenting the cars's outer surface. Treated with a high-gloss anthracite, 20-inch diameter wheels incorporate a 10-spoke Y-design pattern. carbon ceramic brakes, carbon fiber rear diffuser and a fixed rear wing spoiler have also been included with the appearance of the 25-car run of the R8 V10 plus exclusive edition.

Decked-out with a long list of Audi exclusive details such as leather door sill trim and an Alcantara headliner patterned with a diamond-stitching, the special R8's full leather interior mixes Black and Signal Orange colouring. The 2017 Audi R8 V10 plus exclusive edition's Titanium Black-optic exterior package provides a silky smooth performance sensation for the vehicle's driver as well as the passenger as they sit in racing shell seats.

Based on the limited 25-vehicle production of the 2017 Audi R8 V10 plus exclusive edition, there appears to be little chance that automotive laser lighting technology will be arriving to counter Canada's nighttime for the interim. Audi's ability to champion laser lights into North America represents a major step forward that could likely see adaptation to more broadly offered models.

Friday, October 28, 2016

OnStar And IBM's Watson Making An Elemental New Pairing

Photo Credit: General Motors


1980s television show Knight Rider gave audiences a likable impression of a vehicle controlled by a computer-based artificial intelligence that had seemed futuristic until recent years. In a new partnership between General Motors and IBM, we really have to wonder if our connected automobiles may evolve into our own personal K.I.T.T. by the end of 2017.

Set to be available on two million General Motors automobiles with OnStar 4G LTE connectivity, enhanced driver management and productivity functions inside a vehicle's cabin will be made possible through the Watson cognitive mobility platform. Becoming OnStar Go, the new connected in-car technology will provide users with a greater level of efficiency as the system adjusts to personal preferences. Working alongside other corpororate partners Mastercard, ExxonMobil, iHeartRadio Parkopedia and Glympse, the Watson-aided OnStar Go can provide services to operators at a near instant. Traffic information including traffic jam avoidance, arrangements for parking or recommendations for dining are some features provided through the service that are familiar to infotainment systems. Mobile payments paying for fuel or even a cup of coffee have also been unleashed with the promise of OnStar Go. Through IBM's Watson, personalization will lead to solutions where the driver and/or occupants of the vehicle will enjoy curated radio station options as well as even recommending the best, proper fuel.

The late 2017 introduction of OnStar Go appears heavily weighted in the United States. No mention of a timetable for the appearance of this type of technology in Canada. Despite the scope OnStar Go will be operating, the system's full capacity in automobiles deeply channels a discussion where we accept a range between contributing data for expanding connected technology and personal privacy.
 
Both OnStar and Watson have already provided some possible concerns in creating a balance using technology. Described as possessing cognitive computing abilities or generically acknowledged as artificial intelligence, Watson has the capacity to learn, generate conclusions and development more effective communications with humans using vast data collection. Watson is first of the first commercially utilized form of cognitive information technology and has several companies and industries looking into its adoption. To date, IBM's Watson is best known for participation on the popular TV quiz show Jeopardy where the advanced computing program proved a tough rival facing human contestants. OnStar technology has already shown the capacity of providing a real-time vehicle data link. Among feats of OnStar is the ability to facilitate communications between a car. Consumers would best define the General Motors' backed solution connection through either the hand-free contact with OnStar personnel and most recently through 4G LTE data. Through OnStar, vehicle's vital systems can also be monitored while the ability to remotely shut down a stolen enabled automobile has also dramatically demonstrated the technology.

Operators or customers will be offered the option to consent OnStar Go's IBM Watson technology to collect data on individual driving habits and preferences. American drivers who will choose to participate with the OnStar Go should set a major tone for allowing the use of cognitive technology in everyday life.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Genovation Welcomes Pre-Orders For 205.6-MPH Electric Corvette

Photo Credit: Business Wire

Does $750,000 US electric car sound costly or is it worth it for the world's fastest street legal all-electric car?

Genovation Cars, a small American company based in the state of Maryland, had spent years creating an electric vehicle for the high-performance market. Converting one of the oldest running nameplates into a green supercar, the seventh generation Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport coupe was transformed into the Genovation GXE, The GXE emerged as record-setter this past July becoming the quickest public road-worthy electric car 205.6-mile per hour (330.881 kilometers per hour) run at Kennedy Space Center in Florida certified by the International Mile Racing Association, On the same week as reports that Audi pulled the plug on its R8 e-tron supercar after a very short construction run, Genovation has started accepting orders for its intended limited production vehicle.

At a cost of $750,000 in the currency of Canada's southern neighbour (translating to approximately $990,239 Canadian dollars), the price of the Genovation GXE equates to roughly 10 times the price of a well-equipped Chevrolet Corvette. The additional price incorporates the  More powerful than a current Corvette ZO6, the GXE's twin electric motor setup delivers a maximum output rated at 660 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque. Technical details of the battery pack was not released but is said to provide the car with enough charge to propel the vehicle for 130 miles. This complete power assembly for the Genovation GXE is positioned for 50/50 weight distribution as well as for a low center of gravity to maximum driving performance and handling.

A rarity on an electric car (also being found less on current performance cars) is the seven-speed conventional manual transmission found in gasoline-powered Corvette. Available through a typical console shifter or with the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, Genovation Cars explains the gearbox remained to promote a desired level of acceleration for the GXE. The seven-speed transmission also creates a hands-on sports car driving sensation not easily found in present electric vehicles.  

Genovation will produce just 75 examples of the 205.6-mile per hour GXE with each vehicle built to the specific tastes of its owner. Keys for the first Genovation GXE are expected to be passed to buyers by late 2019.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Henrik Fisker Attaches His Name To New All-Electric Plans

Photo Credit: Fisker Inc.

The electrified luxury car marketplace has become the new promised land for 21st century motoring. Long-established companies such BMW, Mercedes-Benz and General Motors have offered vehicles that can operate primarily on electrical power for at least a short distance. However, relatively newer production car builders such as McLaren and Tesla Motors found opportunities to claim a piece of the high-end vehicle segment. Halfway in 2017, a new but familiar Fisker Inc. will rejoin the electrified luxury vehicle market in a completely fresh manner.

Nine years ago, automotive designer Henrik Fisker founded a company that applied the expertise behind the style of the BMW Z8 and Aston Martin DB9 into a radical sedan. Fisker Automotive set out to create a luxury car based on the plug-in hybrid powertrain, First revealing the elegant Fisker Karma in 2008, the vehicle transcended the confides of traditional electric car styling seen at the time. The Karma's four-door coupe posture was enough to make detractors of electrified motoring enchanted by a substantial beauty for a plug-in electric/gasoline hybrid. Presented as a stunning concept, the Fisker Karma transition into production was marred with delays, recalls and a heavy loss caused by a massive natural disaster. With financial ruin occurring with the previous Fisker Automotive company, the namesake founder left as the automaker acquired by a Chinese buyer and has been relaunched as Karma Automotive. The Karma Revero is essentially an updated rebrand of Fisker's plug-in hybrid sedan.

After a few ventures following his departure from the brand that built the Karma, Henrik Fisker formally announced his new business venture appears to go squarely against Tesla Motors.The new company Fisker Inc. is devoted to creating a new all-electric vehicle that will feature a battery providing superior driving range. The proposed new car planned to be unveiled next year will employ a Fisker Nanotech battery said to be game-changing technology boasting impressive performance through high energy capacity and the usage of lightweight construction methods.  “Both the technology and the market are more mature now than when we first started out as pioneers in the electric vehicle industry, and our new vehicle will be the most innovative and cutting-edge electric car ever created.” said Chairman and CEO Henrik Fisker. 

The future Fisker Inc. product is set to compete in a yet-to-be determined niche in the premium car market. With many details still outstanding, it's unclear at this point if the vehicle will be focused as a competitor to the Tesla Model S or the Model 3. However, giving some indications to the vision, Henrik Fisker commented  "If the electric car is to succeed as a mass market vehicle, we need a radical new battery technology and battery pack integration – and our vehicles will have just that. With our game-changing battery technology, now is the time to develop more affordable, mass market vehicles”. 

The first all-electric car from Fisker Inc. is slated to be debut to the public in the second half of 2017.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Chevrolet Bolt EV Charge In Canada With $42,795 MSRP Price Tag

Photo Credit: Chris Nagy

At the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, General Motors' volume-leading division Chevrolet made a bold presentation of a concept representing the notion of the bowtie brand's first serious production vehicle not to be powered by an internal combustion engine. Besides the existence of the all-electric Bolt EV Concept, Chevrolet made a bold-looking pledge of an affordable battery-powered vehicle that can be driven to a range beyond 200 miles (320 kilometers). The original Bolt EV Concept quickly morphed into the production-ready all-electric concept car preserving a surprisingly hefty account of the design features touted on the auto show floor almost two years ago. A subcompact hatchback with a share of economy and technology, the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV will soon need to face the test of persuading a mass market to realistically consider an option to gasoline power.

As the early 2017 arrival of the all-electric Chevy is being prepped, the remaining formal details of the Bolt EV is being released. The two factors of range and price boasted through the creation of the concept car are the primary attributes that must transfer to the production car to be successful. Earlier this month, the pivotal range numbers for the potentially game-changing electric car was released exceeding expectations. Through EPA testing in the United States, the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV reach a maximum estimated distance of 383 kilometers (238 miles).

On September 20th, Chevrolet finally announced the price consumers will accept in the decision for an electric car future.  For the Canadian market, the base LT trim version of the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV will wear an MSRP of $42,795. Initially appearing somewhat staggering for a small car, several provinces offer electric vehicle incentives that will reduce the overall cost by more than one-quarter. In the province of Ontario, the estimated cost of the Bolt EV LT after benefits is calculated at $31,434. In addition to Ontario, provinces of British Columbia and Quebec will also provide major rebates to buyers of the Bolt EV.

Standard features included with the base sticker price of the 2017 Bolt EV LT includes DC Fast charging compatibility, Michelin self-sealing tires, 10.2-inch diagonal color touch-screen control center, rearview camera and a steering wheel paddle system called 'Regen on Demand'. Chevrolet's electric car will also incorporate a function allowing drivers to match and compare their driving styles against other drivers in a manner to promote greater range efficiency. A Premier version of the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV is also going to be available with a higher price that adds surround camera as well as leather seating featuring heated comfort for both front and rear passengers.

Proving to be an effective answer as a relatively affordable electric vehicles suited for a large sum of everyday drivers, the Chevrolet Bolt EV is seen as direct competition to the Model 3 that was heavily-publicized by Tesla Motors.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Fastest Bug On the Salt Flats: Volkswagen Beetle Exceeds 205 Miles Per Hour at Bonneville

Photo Credit: Volkswagen of America

1935 was defined by two milestone events in automotive history. In Germany, the first two prototypes of the 'People's Car" were  constructed with guidance of Ferdinand Porsche. These vehicles quickly emerged as the precursor of the Volkswagen Beetle serving as an influential design ranked alongside the Ford Model T in significance. In the United States on a massive bed of salt in Utah, British speed record setter Sir Malcolm Campbell bettered an effort from a previous outing on Daytona Beach. On September 3rd of 1935, Campbell piloting his Rolls-Royce engined Blue Bird sailed to a 301.129-mile per hour land speed that stood for two years. 80 years after both moments, Volkswagen and the Bonneville Salt Flats combine for a new historic achievement.

The stage for land speed records since the early part of the 20th century, the Bonneville Salt Flats, the sight of a yellow compact car exceeding the performance threshold defining most supercars could be the wackiest if it wasn't the Volkswagen Beetle (one of the world's most versatile vehicles). For the 2016 Utah Salt Flats Racing Association World of Speed event, a specially-configured version of the modern Volkswagen, the Beetle LSR (Land Speed Record) roared through a flying mile at a speed of 205.122 miles per hour with the speedometer eventually reading 208 miles per hour through the run.

Piloted by Automobile magazine's contributing editor Preston Lerner through the Bonneville Speedway located near Wendover, Utah, the Volkswagen Beetle LSR featured a lowered suspension, limited-slip differential, a Salt Flat wheel/tire combination and an stripped interior outfitted with a roll cage as well as race seat. However, the main source for the 205.122-mile per hour success was a heavily-modified version of the Volkswagen EA888 turbocharged, direct-injected 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine found in the stock 210-horsepower Beetle R-Line. Producing insane horsepower similarly seen in the Beetle race car used in the Red Bull Global RallyCross Series, the gasoline engine was souped-up by upgraded by new pistons, camshaft, connecting rods and a meaner turbocharger system. The Volkswagen Beetle LSR's 543 horsepower and 421 pound-feet of torque measured at the flywheel arrives from the engine said to have produced greater than 600 horsepower. 

Talking about his 205.122-mile per hour record conforming to Southern California Timing Association G/BGC rules, Preston Lerner described the effort in the Volkswagen Beetle LSR, "as a serious thrill. "We had enough power to go even faster if the salt hadn't been so sketchy. But seeing 208 miles per hour briefly on the digital readout was an experience I'll never forget." said Lerner.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Bidding Farewell To Last Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Results In Sizable Charity Auction Bids

Photo Credit: Mitsubishi Motors North America


At noontime eastern time on September 15th, a 1600th and final vehicle in Mitsubishi Motor's performance lineage in North America was sold. For a week, a 303-horsepower 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Final Edition was the focus of a monumental event capping the 11-year history of the car in North America.

Through an Ebay charity auction aiding Feeding America Riverside & San Bernardino Counties and Second Harvest Food Back of Orange Country, bidding for the last 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution sport sedan resulted in a victory for the party that agreed to pay $76,400 US ($100,412.56 Canadian). Over $30,000 US above the retail sticker assigned to the Lancer Evolution Final Edition, the 60 bids used within the Ebay auction were devoted to a well-dressed Diamond White Pearl coloured car wearing significant US1600 numbering on an interior plaque. 

Speaking in regards to the active contest for the last of the last for a sport compact legend, Don Swearingen, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Mitsubishi Motors North America commented, "It's a fitting and deserving finality to the Evolution nameplate to go out with so much excitement and make an impact that is sure to last a very long time to drive out hunger." The vehicle auction also highlighted September's ongoing National Hunger Action Month activities. "Thousands of hungry men, women and children will benefit from Mitsubishi's commitment to the people in our community and the funds will help drive out hunger in our local communities this holiday season." said the Chief Executive Officer of Feeding America Riverside | San Bernardino Bill Carnegie representing one of the organizations helped by the 1600th Lancer Evolution's auction. 

The sale of the US1600 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Final Edition is not the first time the auto company has handed keys of an end-of-the-line high-performance vehicle in the name of charity. In October 2011, Mitsubishi auctioned off the final Eclipse sport coupe to benefit the Japan Red Cross as the aftermath of an earthquake and tsunami the previous March necessitated a massive recovery effect. In that occasion a special 2012 Mitsubishi Eclipse Coupe SE (given the GT model's 265-horsepower 3.8-liter  V-6 making it a one-off trimmed model), sold at Mecum Auctions for $35,000. Mitsubishi also sold the first example of the 2015 Lancer Evolution Final Edition to help the MS Society last year. On that occasion, $46,200 was generated through bidding.   

With the auction saying farewell to the last Final Edition model for the Lancer Evolution, Mitsubishi has officially put 10 generations of automotive heritage to rest. Immediate plans for the brand to champion a more economical vehicle lineup may not instantly invoke the same stimulation as a high-powered turbocharged, all-wheel drive compact sedan. However, as surreal as it would be to believe the production existence of a 300-plus horsepower small road rocket, Mitsubishi has the opportunity to garner a new level of future automotive recognition.


Monday, September 12, 2016

Recharging A Plug-In Hybrid Luxury Dream: The Karma Revero

Photo Credit: Karma Automotive

At the turn of the decade, the prospect for automobiles moving with literally a revised kind of energy was becoming not only a means to reduce gasoline consumption but a future fashion icon. In the late 2000s, inflated fuel prices eventually hurt everyone in the pocketbook as both the working class as well as the wealthier elite. In fact buyers who could afford high-end luxury vehicles, there was a humanizing reality when poor fuel mileage of their heavyweight premium cruisers combined with potentially lower income as a result of a massive global economic recession of 2008. While markets rebounded, fresh memories has led to creative visions of a new luxury car genre attempting to exploit electrified powertrains for an uncompromising road-going performance.

In 2007, a start-up auto company seeing an entry position in a premium electrified vehicle category conceiving a plug-in hybrid sedan. Co-founded by Bernhard Koehler Henrik Fisker, an automotive designer who gained acclaimed reviews on sculpting the BMW Z8 and Aston Martin DB9, Fisker Automotive quickly unveiled a sexy-looking four-door the company pledged to produce. Despite being a stunningly sophisticated design, the Fisker Karma was propelled by a pair of electric motors combined with a 2.0-liter General Motors Ecotec four-cylinder engine. In addition to the unique power unit, the Karma sedan also incorporated a number of environmentally-conscious features such as the use of recycled glass, rescued wood used for trim materials, water-based paint leather sourced from humane producers and a solar panel roof section.

Despite or perhaps due to the ambitious launch of the Fisker Karma, the car's brief production history was complicated by delays at the start and other scenarios. Lithium-ion battery problems requiring recalls and the loss of hundreds due to Hurricane Sandy, Fisker Automotive filed for bankruptcy in 2013. Purchased by Wanxiang Group (a Chinese company that also bought battery supplier A123 Systems, the remains of the car company was reshaped as Karma Automotive where it has been bracing for a relaunch.

This revival of the plug-in hybrid luxury product under Karma Automotive has finally reached fruition through the reintroduction of Fisker's one and only production car as a repackaged model. Now known as the Karma Revero, the low-profile sedan retains its familiar look. Listed as a base price of $130,000 US, the 2017 Revero is noticeably more expensive than the Fisker Karma the plug-in hybrid luxury sedan has been derived from. Roughly $28,000 more than the starting price of the 2013 Fisker model, the Karma Revero comes with a few minor upgrades.

On the outside, Karma's new badging are revealed as uniquely hand-painted meaning the finer details of each emblem will leave no two vehicles precisely alike. Inside, Karma enlisted the assistance of Rightware Kanzi user interface software for the digital cockpit and infotainment technology inside the Revero. This same software is currently used in Audi vehicles such as the A3, TT sports car and R8 supercar for the MMI and Virtual Cockpit. The Karma Revero's interior emphasizes high-level interior comfort for four adult occupants.

The Karma Revero's powertrain appears largely unchanged from the Fisker with exception to a new 21.4 KWh lithium-ion battery. The electrical propulsion system on the plug-in hybrid luxury sedan has also been enhanced by components supplied by German automaker BMW. One suspected contribution is the electric charging system of the Revero accepting 120-volt and 240-volt electrical charging as well as a DC quick charging system feeding the vehicle with 480 volts. Through quick charging, it takes just 24 minutes to provide enough energy to replenish the battery to an 80 percent level. A unique solar panel charging system on the Revero can also feed a trickle charge to the battery. According to Karma, a full charge through realized solar charging after one week outside.    

Part of the initial ten dealerships for Karma Automotive is two retailers in Canada. Karma Montreal is operated by Holand Automotive while Karma Uptown Toronto is part of Grand Touring Automobiles.

Friday, September 9, 2016

An Ethical End Of An Evolution: Mitsubishi's Final North American Performance Icon Being Auctioned For Charity

Photo Credit: Mitsubishi Motors North America

Mitsubishi had warned us years ago about an unsettling change. In 2011, Mitsubishi Motors confirmed the tenth iteration of the Lancer Evolution was to be the final version of the high-performance compact sedan built by the Japanese automaker as the company devotes future development to general small cars and electric vehicles. Still, when 2015 approached, the Final Edition run of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution was a sad monument to a generation.

Offered in Japanese since late 1992, North American audiences were dealt a shorter time with the Evolution existing on the continent since the 2004 model year. For the time Canadian and American drivers have been able to put three Evolution models through its paces, the immense power of a turbocharged/intercooled engine married to Super All-Wheel Control produced a velocities few could have expected from a vehicle of its stature.

The last run of 1,600 North American-issued 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution models are defined under the Final Edition package. A 303-horsepower standout, the Lancer Evolution Final Edition is distinguished by a number of special features such as a black-painted roof, Enkel alloy wheels and grille surround finished in dark chrome along with an interior accented by red stitching. Each Final Edition version of this famous high-performance Mitsubishi is marked by a center console-mounted numbered plaque citing the specific production order for each of the 1,600 vehicles. The final of the final edition, the #1600 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution to be sold for the North American market will find an owner while also raising a potentially hefty sum to the cause of fighting hunger.

Taking place in the form of an eBay charity auction benefiting Feeding America Riverside & San Bernardino Counties and Second Harvest Food Back of Orange Country, bidding for the last 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution on a continent opened on September 8th as part of Hunger Action Month. Wearing the number plaque US1600, the 2015 Lancer Evolution Final Edition features a New Diamond White Pearl exterior paint color. Auto on/off bi-xenon HID headlights, front two-piece Brembo brake rotors and a five-speed transmission is included on the 1,600th Final Edition sport compact sedan.

Currently underway on eBay, the charity auction for last Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Final Edition in North America started at $46,200 US (roughly $59,796 Canadian) and has attracted four bids as of early morning on September 9th. At the time this article has been posted with six days and eight hours remaining in the auction, the price stands at $46.900 in US currency. Conclusion of the eBay charity auction is set for September 15th at 12 PM eastern time (9 AM Pacific Time).

As the #1600 Lancer Evolution Final Edition feeds the desire of an owner craving for the last of an important bred of vehicle, the money raised from the vehicle will provide much-needed resources to briefly overcome an even more important hunger to combat. Proceeds from the sale of the car will be split equally between the two California-based charities.


 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

LaFerrari Production To Reach 500 Mark To Benefit Italian Earthquake Victims

LaFerrari at 2015 CIAS
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy


At the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, the most advanced formation of Italian sports car technology and design of its time was unveiled to the world. Called the LaFerrari, the spiritual successor to the Enzo supercar exhibited active aerodynamics and a hybrid powertrain system called HY-KERS. Besides causing a great deal of confusion on how to properly pronounce the vehicle's name (would we refer to it as Ferrari LaFerrari or just the LaFerrari), the hypercar's factory quoted 949-horsepower generated collectively between a gasoline-fueled 6.3-liter V-12 engine and a pair of electric motors was channeled into the rear wheels for spectacular launches to a top speed up to 217 miles per hour. After the 499 planned LaFerrari models were produced, strong demand paved the way to the open-top version. The 2017 LaFerrari Aperta will be officially unveiled at the Paris Motor Show at the beginning of October.

Every essence of the ultra-performance machine represented a strong, Italian soul. Similar to other Ferrari sports cars but magnified to a climax with the million-dollar LaFerrari, there is a human-like passion and sense of purpose used to merge all components together. The source of this manifestation in each Ferrari is the result of an individual contributions of everyone involved in the creation of a car. Last month, the country of Italy tragically lost what confirmed to almost 300 souls in the aftermath of a damaging earthquake. Besides the ones who perished, the injured and survivors of the August 24th 2016 Central Italy earthquake face an emotional pain from the disaster with some focus being on how-to recover.

Attempting to make some impact in aiding the recovery of the people in their country, Ferrari has authorized the production of a special 500th example of their most special vehicle. Originally capping production of the LaFerrari hardtop at 499 vehicles (which had already been spoken for before prior to construction), the 500th model of the exclusive hypercar was announced during a meeting between the Italian and German government. When built, the 500th LaFerrari will be auctioned off with all proceeds of the sale going to assist in the on-going relief efforts of the earthquake. A rare occasion for purchasing Ferrari's first hybrid production hypercar, the prospect of the vehicle being sold above the original price tag around 1.4-million dollars Canadian in 2014 should almost guarantee a high influx of aid for the Italian victims of the natural tragedy.

The YouTube video below as well as the image used for this article captures one LaFerrari at the 2015 Canadian International AutoShow owned Canadian businessman and Shark Tank personality Robert Herjavec.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Select 2017 Audi Vehicles Will Recognize Traffic Light Changes Before They Happen

Photo Credit: Chris Nagy


While automotive technology has been opening the door to a both amazing and concerning motoring future where cars will be self-driving through sophisticated algorithms as well as electronic sensors, a more immediate driving reality seems to depend solidly on hands on a steering wheel and a foot on a pedal. However, the common practice of human drivers operating automobiles is by no means a "business as usual" experience.

In the last decades, many cars have introduced electronically-based driving aids meant to provide a driver with more information in making smarter driving decisions. Blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning as well as enhanced hands-free operations for audio and navigation controls can be found in many modern vehicles. On certain 2017 model year Audi models, a new source of information will be relayed to motorists related to the changes in traffic lights.

With the advanced notification of traffic light changes, attentive drivers are given a heightened sense of awareness. Launching in select cities this fall in a real-world testing phase, Audi A4, A4 allroad and Q7 crossover vehicles will be provided with a new countdown timer-style Traffic light information system. Through Audi's on-board 4G/LTE data technology, real-time traffic signal information is transmitted into the car and displayed for the driver in the dashboard message center or on the head-up display system. The indicator appears as a traffic light that includes a numerical countdown beneath.

The system Audi's Traffic light information relies upon is the server belonging to cities and municipalities used to intelligently time light changes. A new method for managing traffic, connected and adaptive signals utilize a traffic flow monitoring system to alter the timing of green and red lights. Requiring considerable infrastructure, smart traffic signal have been slowly introduced into pocket of the United States. One place where the adaptation of connected traffic lights has flourished was in the state of Utah. When Salt Lake City prepared to host the Winter Olympic Games in 2002, roughly 80 percent of Utah's traffic signals are connected and adaptable. California's Los Angeles and Orange County feature the greatest prevalence of smart traffic light technology according to an article published by Time. In Canada, the city of Toronto is preparing for an upgrade to smart traffic light technology as part of a congestion reduction plan. The smart light system is expected to be tested fall of this year. For the meantime, one of the limitations towards the expansion of Audi's Traffic light information will be the lack of smart traffic signals.


Traffic light information will be a components within Audi Connect PRIME services offered to United States drivers of the German brand as either an initial trial or for a paid subscription. The service currently costs $199 US for 6 months or $750 on a 60-month plan.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Fast Facts on Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres

Photo Credit: Jack Webster


Trois-Rivieres (or sometimes translated to 'Three Rivers' in the United States) has been a rich and beloved French-Canadian contribution to motorsports for almost five decades. Often depending upon smaller racing series, the event has provided the opportunity for rising stars of motorsports to claim limelight. Races within the Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres have been contested by many auto racing legends in the making with past victors including Michael Andretti, Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Ron Fellows and Patrick Tambay. A great deal of other drivers have been deprived a win at the tricky, street race In recent years, racing has taken place during two weeks as the FIA World Rallycross and Formula Drift Canada compete on a paved/dirt track on the first weekend while a more traditional event on the all-paved street course takes place on the second weekend.


Fact #1: The Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres was first held on September 8th and 9th of 1967 sanctioned by the Club Autosport Mauricien (CAM). The first event winner of the Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres was Jacques Duval. In a 50-lap main event sanctioned by the Canadian Automobile Sport Clubs, Duval drove a Porsche to victory. A 2011 Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame inductee, Jacques Duval motorsport accomplishments include five Quebec championships. He is also recognized as a successful member of media that includes major contributions to automotive journalism in Canada.   


Fact #2: The 49th year of the Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres in 2016, the event is the oldest remaining street course auto race in North America. However, due to a lack of event funding from 1986 to 1988, the three-year interruption in racing activities on the streets resulted in 46 events held at Trois-Rivieres. The longest continuously operating street course auto race is reserved for the Grand Prix of Long Beach in California operating annually since 1975. 



Fact #3: Since 1967, the street course used for the Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres has undergone a multitude of noticeable configuration changes. Originally racing on a 1.6-kilometer (1.15-mile) track, the course's length was extended to 2.01 kilometers in 1968. The next major reconfigurations were performed to the track in 1973 and 1978. The current Trois-Rivieres street course's main shape was employed during the traditional open wheel and sports car racing weekend was adopted in 1989 presently running 2.46 kilometers (1.53 miles). An enlarged pit road was incorporated into the track in 2009.


Fact #4: In 1974, Trois-Rivieres hosted its first Formula Atlantic event. A series later transforming into the Toyota Atlantic and finally functioning as the Atlantic Championship, this particular form of auto racing was the longest-running tradition at the Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres. The 1974 Formula Atlantic race on the Quebec street course was won by American Tom Klausler driving a Lola chassis supported by the recently-departed Carl Haas. Also part of the inaugural Formula Atlantic outing in Trois-Rivieres was George Follmer, French Formula 1 pilot Patrick Depaillier and Canadian racing legend Gilles Villeneuve. Gilles as well as his brother Jacques Villeneuve (often called Jacques Villeneuve Sr. or Uncle Jacques to prevent confusion between Gilles Villeneuve's son and 1997 Formula 1 champion) would combine to win four Formula Atlantic events on Trois Rivieres.


Fact #5: Continuing with Formula Atlantic or its later related series, seven Canadian drivers won an event at Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres. Of the seven, four won on multiple occasions. Uncle Jacques Villeneuve and Toronto's David Empringham captured three victories while Alex Tagliani and Patrick Carpentier collected a pair of wins. Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame driver Bill Brack won in 1978 while Michael Valiante became the last Canadian driver to win a Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres Atlantic event in 2002. The final running of the Atlantic Championship at Trois-Rivieres occurred in 2009 with Simona de Silvestro taking a monumental victory.


Fact #6: In addition to the Formula Atlantic series, the racing schedule for past Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres event weekends have accommodated the Can-Am Series, Canadian Formula Ford, Trans Am Series, American Le Mans Series as well as Indy Lights. In 2001, stock car racing made its debut on the circuit with the presence of the CASCAR Super Series. For 2016, the event weekend on the 2.46-kilometer track consists of Formula Tour 1600, Canadian Touring Car Championship, IMSA Prototype Lites, Porsche GT3 Challenge Canada Cup, Nissan Micra Cup and the NASCAR Pinty's Series for the Can-Am Tours 50.  


Photo Credit: Matthew Murnaghan/NASCAR


Fact #7: French-Canadian driver Marc-Antoine Camirand currently holds the record for most victories at the Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres. In various forms of racing during the grand prix race weekends, Camirand has won a total 11 times on the track including in US F2000 and Canadian touring car.




Fact #8: Perhaps the most famous landmark on the Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres' 2.46-kilometer course is Porte Pacifique-Duplessis. A concrete gateway constructed in 1938, three-section architectural structure memorializes renowned turn of the 17th century missionary Pacifique Duplessis.