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Automotive News - November 2014

Fun But Illegal Vehicle Options

Technology is evolving faster than laws are able to change. These days there are new and interesting vehicle gadgets galore. Never has there been a better time to trick out one's vehicle by adding accessories or modifications, but did you know that many of these vehicle options may be illegal where you live? Headlights are no longer bulbs under a glass cover. Modern head lamps are comprised of complex arrays of LED bulbs. Volvo, BMW and Audi even have LED headlights with sensors that dim and brighten by themselves thanks to built-in sensors, adjusting to oncoming traffic. They're not allowed in the US, however, under federal law. Also illegal- Mercedes-Benz's dynamic light spots, which identify pedestrians and bathe them in a light beam to make them easier for drivers to see. Regulators aren't only tough on head lamps; they've outlawed strobe brake lights too, which flash and pulsate to indicate extra-hard brake pressure.

Ford Develops Black Box For Police Cars

Most modern cars now come equipped with a black box. These black boxes, or data event recorders serve double duty. They tell manufacturers about the performance of their vehicles, and they supply critical information to investigators about the cause of a crash. One can no longer claim to have been driving the speed limit or to have been wearing a seatbelt when a crash happens, the vehicle's black box knows the truth. These boxes are helping to improve vehicle and driver safety, but there are still some concerns as to who actually owns the information generated and whether or not it should be shared with insurance companies. Even police officers are not free from the reach of big brother. Ford has developed a black box intended for police cars, like a traffic cop for police. This system will monitor the driving behaviour of police officers behind the wheel. In this case, instead of the information being recovered only after an accident such as in an airplane, the technology used streams the data in real time.

Nissan Kicks Concept

Nissan has just unveiled it's Kicks Concept crossover at the 2014 Sao Paulo motor show in Brazil. The automaker is remaining mum for now about their intentions, however, it certainly looks production-ready. If this concept enters production, will it be tailored specifically to the Brazilian market? Or, as some are speculating, is the Kicks really the next generation Juke? If you'll remember, the Juke made it's debut at the Geneva auto show in 2010, and it should be due for a replacement around 2017. The Kicks concept is about the same size with similar proportions as the Juke. It has a tall shoulder, generous ground clearance, short overhangs and a smallish cargo area. It's flashier than the Juke, however. It sports bold accent colours on the roof and in the wheels, contrasting with it's satin titanium finish. It seems to take it's design cues from both a performance car and a compact SUV. It appears sleek, featuring full wraparound glass, a blunt vertical front end, floating roof, a V-motion grille, boomerant lights and 19-inch six-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels.

Value Retaining Vehicle Features

Is resale value important to you when shopping for a new car? It's reputation for durability and longevity are important factors, but much like a home, so are it's particular features. We've come up with a list of features that help boost your vehicle's value, both now while you own it, and later when you're looking to maximize your resale value. Selling a used car privately can be a chore, so make it easy on yourself by indulging in desirable features that you'll enjoy too. An advanced sound system is not only pleasurable while you are in the vehicle, it may be the tie breaker for a music lover considering purchasing your vehicle down the road. Honda has been installing backup cameras in every vehicle since 2015, and most other automakers have offered them as an option for some time now. In 2018, all new vehicles will have to be equipped with a rearview backup camera. In the meantime, a used car with this important advanced safety feature will definitely be more valuable than one without.

2016 Ford Explorer Refreshed

Ford has announced that a refreshed version of the Ford Explorer utility vehicle, a 2016 model, will make it's global debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show later this month, with a new look, and a peek at Ford's newest technology. Celebrating the Explorer's 25th anniversary next year, this mid-cycle freshening of the long-running SUV nameplate, comes in the middle of it's fifth generation, which was introduced in 2010 as a 2011 model. That year, the Explorer changed from a body-on-frame truck to a car-based crossover. Since debuting in 1990 as the successor to the Ford Bronco, and as a derivative of the Ranger, nearly 7 million Ford Explorers have been sold. Ford is saving the surprises for the show, but recent spy shots have revealed that the Explorer will receive revised styling, including new fascia, headlights and grille in the front, and new fascia and taillights in the rear.

New Obese Crash Test Dummy

It used to be that crash test dummies came in one size. Later, came child-sized and female dummies. Now, the newest variation of the crash test dummy made by Humanetics, the world's leading crash-test dummy producer will reflect obese drivers. The new obese crash test dummy will weigh 271 pounds, and have a body mass index of 35. Traditional crash test dummies, most created in the 1980s, weight 167 pounds. Crash test dummies, both the original style and newer obese models cost about $500,000, and last forever. Studies have shown that obese drivers are more likely to die as the result of a car crash. Automakers will use the obese dummies to prove their vehicles roadworthy for drivers of all sizes. More than one-third of Americans are obese. The definition of an obese person, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a person with a height of 5 feet nine inches, weighing 203 pounds or more, with a BMI of 30 or more.

Mazda CX-3 Coming

Mazda is set to debut it's upcoming CX-3 subcompact crossover at the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show later this month. We've only seen sketches so far, but from a styling perspective, the Mazda CX-3 mates SUV design cues such as thick wheel arches and an upright ride with Mazda's swoopy Kodo design language. Kodo stands for “soul of motion.” In the sketch, we can see that the CX-3 uses the same styling themes as other Mazda models, but according to the company “evolved to produce a sharper form and an enhanced sense of speed.” This tiny crossover will share a platform with the redesigned Mazda2 hatchback, and is expected to get Mazda's SkyActiv drivetrain and chassis technologies including high-compression, direct-injection engines, advanced transmissions and lightweight materials, including the chassis design and components. It will probably share the same engines as the Mazda2 as well, including a base 1.5-litre SkyActiv four-cylinder.

Deadliest Vehicles On The Road

One of the things done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is to compile and organize statistics regarding crash deaths, and the vehicles involved. It takes some time, so the numbers aren't current, but the IIHS has compiled a list of the deadliest vehicles on the road through 2009, involving model years up to 2008. These statistics are based on all vehicles with 100,000 registrations or more between 2006 and 2009, counting only the death of the driver, and generating a ratio of “driver death per million registered vehicles.” Please note that these numbers are only relevant if one is considering purchasing a used vehicle that is more than 4 years old. Another factor to consider is the possibility that the vehicle may not be at fault, but the type of driver behaviour a vehicle encourages, for example, a little red sports car or a rental car, or the type of person drawn to a particular vehicle may play a part in the equation. Four of the deadliest vehicles on the road came from Chevrolet, another four from Nissan, and the remaining two from Hyundai and Kia.

Travel Perks From Cadillac

Luxury automaker Cadillac has teamed up with American Airlines to combine travel benefits with test drives. This new marketing partnership will encourage people to test drive Cadillac models, and reward those who do with travel perks. Simply test drive a Cadillac, and earn air miles from American Airlines. "Traveling in style is a shared interest of premium customers the world over" said Uwe Ellinghaus, Cadillac chief marketing officer. "Partnering with American Airlines, the world’s largest airline, allows us to engage customers and deliver valuable benefits in meaningful ways". For now, the program is being offered by invitation only to select AAdvantage’s invitation-only ConciergeKey members, but soon it will be available to anyone who is an AAdvantage member, regardless of status. Membership is free.

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