This week Ford unveiled its unique approach to measuring the interior space of its new Escape vehicle. The company didn't do away with the more conventional methods, as the ping pong measurement accompanied high-tech laser-scanned CAD renderings as well.
So, why ping pong balls? As vehicle interiors have become more modern, there are a lot more curves and swooping areas in a vehicle. Umbrella holders tucked away in the door, for example, make it more difficult to use the traditional tape measure. So the Vehicle Architecture team headed by Eric Jackson came up with the unorthodox approach.
We reported on the RelayRides OnStar partnership back at CES, with RelayRides using the OnStar API to broaden its network of available vehicles. RelayRides allows its members to rent cars on a short-term basis directly from the car owners. It's a peer-to-peer car-sharing network. The partnership with OnStar will allow owners of cars equipped with the OnStar service to add their vehicles to RelayRides, giving them the opportunity to rent out their vehicles for cash. Locking, unlocking, and starting the vehicle can all be performed using the RelayRides smartphone app, and OnStar has made it easy for owners to add their vehicles to the service.
It may seem a bit unorthodox to make your personal vehicle available for rental to strangers, but RelayRides does have protections in place as they look to compete with the likes of Zipcar. What do you think? Would you use a service like this?
Read More | GM
In case you missed it, earlier this week we detailed how the Chevy Volt malfunctioned and nearly caused a high-speed collission while we were driving it. We've had plenty of readers writing in to ask for an update on the Chevy Volt fisaco that we've found ourselves embroiled in. We definitely planned on hitting you guys with an update on how Chevrolet and General Motors address the situation that we're facing once all was said and done, but since it's taking a bit longer than we'd hoped, and since there have been a couple of new developments, we figured we'd do an interim report.
Before we get into some of the good, we've gotta say right up front that dealing with Chevy/GM as a corporate entity has been frustrating. It seems that it's goal is to tell us that there is nothing they can do, with the hope that this will just go away, rather than doing whatever it can to ease the concerns of a customer who's done nothing but praise it's flagship product all the way up until it put us in harms way. More on that later.
Update 1: We're trying to deal with Chevy to get resolution that both us and the dealer believes to be the best option. GM would rather us forget about everything, it seems.
We've been keeping tabs on the Chevy Volt ever since the electric vehicle was unveiled in September 2008. We covered the 230 MPG announcement, and were on-hand for the introduction of the OnStar Mobile Integration announcement which showed how you would be able to send commands from your smartphone directly to your Volt (and other OnStar-equipped vehicles) remotely. While there were other pure EVs out there, the maximum range would leave some stranded without any other option but getting towed while the Volt had a gas tank that could run a generator to continue creating electric power even when the pure electric battery ran out. The Volt, in our minds, was the car of the near-future. Until EV range is bumped high enough to never cause charge anxiety, Chevy's flagship EV provided the best trade-off. So we leased one. That's where things started to go very wrong.
See that guy up there? His name is Noble, and the last time he filled up his gas tank was 4,000 miles ago. How can that be? He drives a Chevy Volt, which he calls "the best vehicle he's ever driven." A fully charged Volt can drive for about 35-40 miles before switching over to a gas-powered electric engine (similar to a hybrid vehicle.) So if you rarely (or never) run out of electric power, you'll never touch the gas in the tank. Check out the video below for more from Noble himself.
Read More | Chevrolet Voltage
If you're planning on picking up Cadillac's new flagship vehicle this summer, the XTS, and you're also considering picking up an iPad, you'll wanna wait on that tablet purchase. In an effort to help new XTS buyers get familiar with the new Cadillac CUE infotainment system, the company is going to be throwing in an iPad with the purchase of each XTS sedan. The tablet will come preloaded with interactive manuals and tutorials that show off and explain all the features that CUE has to offer.
Apps that will be preloaded include OnStar RemoteLink, MyCadillac, and a custom app that specifically teaches buyers about the new CUE infotainment system. Check out a preview of Cadillac CUE that we shot, below.
In the world of EVs, the quicker you can charge your vehicle when on the go, the better. That's one stark difference between the electric cars and their gas counterparts--while you're saving money from not having to visit the pump, you're certainly losing out on time. Well, that's about to change, as several EV manufacturers have agreed on a new 20-minute fast-charging standard that'll take you from empty to full within 20 minutes. It's called DC Fast Charging with a Combined Charging System, and the folks over at Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Daimler, Ford, GM, Porsche, and Volkswagen has all agreed that this is the future.
Oh, and to be clear, this really is the future. As in, don't expect to see vehicles that support the stndard for another year or so. Heck, over in Europe, the ACEA isn't even guaranteeing that you'll see charging stations adopting the standard over there until 2017. Hopefully things pick up a little quicker than that here in the US.
The OnStar FMV (For My Vehicle) add-on has been fairly popular, and OnStar is looking to begin making the device more accessible to an even larger audience. From May 6 though June 16, OnStar FMV will be available for $99.99, with installation included, which is about $200 off the standard price of the device. Definitely a nice Mother's Day, Father's Day, or graduation gift, bringing OnStar features like automatic crash response, turn-by-turn navigation, and hands-free calling to non-GM vehicles.
Read More | OnStar
Volkswagen Auto Group has been seeing their sales numbers grow significantly over the past few years, but it's about to see that number multiply as soon as it finalizes the purchase of Italian superbike manufacturer, Ducati. In the meantime, how about pitting the two companies against each other? Some enterprising folks over in Germany took it upon themselves to make it happen. So what were their weapons of choice? From Volkswagen’s side they choose the Audi TT RS, which has quicker track times than the Audi R8 on most runs. From Ducati’s side they choose the 1199 Panigale. Check out the video above to see who wins!
For those that live in areas plagued by long winters, icy roads, and the ever-accumulating snow fall, you know how obnoxious driving can get. Chains are great, but putting them on is a hassle. There's also the option of studded tires, but as soon as you hit deep snow, well, you’re outta luck. So what other options are there? You could just wait out the snow, but that could take awhile. Or you could buy a pair of Track N Go treads.
The designers of the Track N Go system are AD Boivin. They’re better known for marketing power-sport products for snowmobiles and motocross bikes, and now they're bringing that expertise over to automobiles. Track N Go is basically a treadmill system for your 4x4 pickup truck. You simply drive onto them, lock them, and get on your merry way. To us it looks like it’s a universal application, as it’s used by a Ford and GMC in the video below.
Though we’re not sure when the Track N Go system will be available for purchase, it’s something worth watching for. Pricing is still up in the air as well.