November 2007

Toyota’s new safety equipment showed the participants composed of journalists on how it detects unusual driving behaviors like drunkenness and drowsiness.

The new Toyota facility measures 4.5 meter long and 7.1 meter wide that can be installed in any vehicle model. The simulator is lined on the inside with a screen showing a moving, wrap-around view of the outside environment that gives the driver and his passengers the chimera of traveling.

Toyota’s product has the longest range of 35 meters from front to back and 20 meters from right to left says Toyota engineers.

“It still needs some fine tuning, but we aim to start putting it to use in earnest from next April,” said Takashi Yonekawa, a senior staff engineer at the centre.

The project was completed in September and until the demonstration, Toyota never allowed reporters into the pod. The pod can also be seen via a glass pane in an adjacent room. Although the pod was not moving, the moving images which are a true-to life depiction of 64 km of road in a 6-square kilometer section of the surrounding area, it was almost real that the spectators felt nauseous.

On the same demonstration, Toyota also introduced another safety technology based on Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). This equipment uses global positioning system receivers and sensors which give way to communication between cars and road infrastructure, pedestrians or other cars to reduce collisions.

Also, according to Toyota Managing Officer Takashi Shigematsu, their domestic rivals, Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. are working on the same equipment. The three largest automakers are expecting to test their products next year.

Auto safety equipments are now the added spice to which automakers appeal to their consumers. Toyota Motor Corp. is taking it seriously and on the lead in the safety race. Last year, the biggest Japanese automaker equipped its Lexus LS460 with a pedestrian detection system.

 2008 Honda FCX Clarity

Called the FCX Clarity, this fuel efficient and green Honda model comes with zero-emissions, hydrogen-powered fuel cell powertrain based on the new Honda V Flow fuel cell platform. Honda also announced that limited models of the FCX Clarity will roll out in U.S. markets in the summer of next year.

“The FCX Clarity is a shining symbol of the progress we’ve made with fuel cell vehicles and of our belief in the promise of this technology. Step by step, with continuous effort, commitment and focus, we are working to overcome obstacles to the mass-market potential of zero-emissions hydrogen fuel cell automobiles.” said Tetsuo Iwamura, American Honda president and CEO.

The hydrogen powertrain components of the new Honda FCX Clarity include a new V Flow platform package. This also includes an ultra-compact lightweight and powerful Honda V Flow fuel cell stack that is 65 percent smaller than the previous Honda FC stack. The new fuel stack is located at center tunnel of the vehicle between the two front seats. Equipped with hydrogen fuel, the V Flow fuel cell stack can produce a power output of 100 kW, much powerful than the previous FC stack. This new fuel cell stack is also 50 percent more output density by volume and 67 percent output density by mass.

The Honda FCX Clarity also combines this V Flow fuel cell stack with a new compact and efficient lithium ion battery pack. In addition, the powertrain components also include a single hydrogen storage tank. These three components are the main sources that provides power the car’s electric drive motor. The Honda FCX Clarity is also capable of regenerative braking, which allows the lithium ion battery pack to be recharged to supply additional power to the fuel cell. Overall, the fuel cell powertrain of the Honda FCX Clarity offers a bunch of enhancements compared to the previous FCX model. This include 20 percent increase in fuel economy, 30-percent increase in range, 25 percent improvement in power-to-weight ratio, and 45 percent reduction in the size of the fuel cell powertrain.

The Honda FCX Clarity also comes with a sleek exterior styling with 4-door configuration. Inside, the FCX Clarity is equipped with seat upholstery and door linings made from Honda Bio-Fabric. Other highlights of the Honda FCX Clarity include a navigation system with hydrogen station locations, backup camera, premium audio, climate controlled seats, Bluetooth connectivity, shift-by-wire, and electric power steering (EPS). Watch out for this model in 2008.

The 2007 Los Angeles International Auto Show was the stage for the North American debut of BMW AG’s 2008 MINI Clubman model. The 2008 MINI Clubman is the latest addition to MINI’s product lineup here in the United States. The Clubman will go on sale in the U.S. market starting in February 2008 for the Cooper and a Cooper S models.

2008 MINI Clubman


According to a MINI official press release, “The MINI Clubman paves the way into a totally-new market segment, offering new opportunities for the MINI brand and showcasing, yet again, MINI’s leadership in the premium small car segment. With its hallmark design elements, the MINI Clubman is clearly a MINI from every angle. Yet it is the MINI Clubman’s unique rear-end design and new proportions that distinguish it from other members of the MINI family and make it unlike anything else on the road today.”

The 2008 MINI Clubman now comes with new features and revisions. The Clubman received an additional 9.45 inches in body length and 3.15 inches in the wheelbase. The “Clubdoor”, which is located at the right side of the Clubman can swing open towards the main passenger door and can increase the access to the rear area. For safety purposes, the Clubdoor can be only opened when if the front door is also open. Another unique feature of the 2008 MINI Clubman is the split-rear doors. These doors can be opened and offer an easy and comfortable access to the special equipments and large packages.

MINI has also increased the comfort and flexibility of the rear seating area with more legroom. Rear seat passengers can now savor the additional 3.15 inches leg room on the 2008 MINI Clubman. The luggage compartment on the 2008 MINi Clubman can be extended through the flexible rear seat configuration.

For the U.S. market, MINI will offer the 2008 Clubman equipped with two powertrain packages. The 2008 MINI Cooper S Clubman will roll out in dealerships equipped with the 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine under its hood. This power unit can deliver 175 hp at an engine speed of 5,500 rpm, and features twin-scroll turbocharger and direct gasoline injection. For the MINI Cooper Clubman, MINI offers the fuel efficient 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with power output of 120 hp at 6,600 rpm. Fuel economy is achieved through the fully variable valve management.

The MINI Cooper Clubman will carry a base manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $20,600, while the MINI Cooper S Clubman is priced at $24,100.

Dodge will introduce the 2008 Viper SRT10 ACR (American Club Racer) and expects to stir the crowd in the City of Angels. Dodge is also quite excited and has already released the details and technical specifications of the Viper SRT10 ACR ahead of its official debut in 2007 LA Auto Show.

According to Mike Accavitti, Director – Dodge Brand and SRT Marketing and Communications, Chrysler LLC: “With the all-new 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR, SRT has taken the ultimate American sports car and injected it with an extra dose of racing DNA. With the Viper SRT10 as the starting point, SRT engineered a combination of reduced weight, race-tuned suspension and aerodynamic improvements to create the ultimate Viper for the street and track.”

As expected in a Dodge Viper model, the all-new 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR comes with a bold and aggressive exterior styling plus sporty appearance. Five paint color schemes are available for the Viper SRT10 ACR including Viper Red, Viper Black, Viper Violet, Viper Bright Blue Metallic, and Viper Very Orange. This is highlighted by a signature two-tone paint scheme with a black center section. A Viper SRT10 monotone paint with body color rear wing and dual painted Viper stripes is also available.

 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR

The 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR also comes with other exterior components like “fanged” front splitter, adjustable rear wing sculpted by CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics), high mounted rear spoiler, lightweight filler panels replacing the fog lamps, and lightweight forged aluminum Sidewinder wheels. The wheels are painted with gloss black to complete the overall exterior package. Inside, the Viper SRT10 ACR also features some interior features identical to the Viper SRT10 base model but the ACR model added new features like the optional “Hard Core” package that reduces the car’s weight by about 40 pounds.

Powering the all new 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR is a monstrous 8.4-liter aluminum V10 engine. This powerful unit can pump out a stunning 600 horsepower and pulls out 560 lb. ft. amount of peak torque. Features of this engine include deep-skirted V10 aluminum engine block, Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC shaped combustion chambers, Variable Valve Timing (VVT), and two-piece intake manifold. Unlike the Saab sports car models with Saab starter, the 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR is equipped with platinum-tip spark plugs in the ignition system.

Dodge offers the latest Tremec T56 six-speed manual transmission (TR6060) with the GKN ViscoLok speed-sensing limited-slip differential to complete the powertrain package.

According to Dodge, the 2008 Viper SRT10 ACR will roll out in the U.S. market starting in the second quarter of 2008 carrying a base manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of less than $100,000 USD.

 “Boss”, a Chevrolet Tahoe SUV

Vehicles which can drive by themselves gathered for the 2007 DARPA Challenge. Eighty-nine teams took to the field but the team from Carnegie Mellon University took home the bacon after the team’s entry upstaged all entries. The Tartan Racing Team of the aforementioned university went into the former George Air Force Base in Victorville, California as one of the hopefuls and went home as the victors.

The DARPA Urban Challenge is organized and sponsored by the United States Military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA. Vehicles entered into the competition should have the ability to navigate busy city streets without any interference or control from humans. They should rely on sensors and software used by different teams.

In the finals, eleven teams met for the final battle and one of them is the eventual winner which is called the “Boss” – a Chevy Tahoe. The vehicles are asked to park, and merge into moving traffic. They should be able to make decisions based on the reading of their sensors. The vehicles navigated through a 60-mile urban course and waiting at the finish line is one year worth of bragging rights and a $2 million-filled purse.

The key to the Boss’ victory is the CarSim, a vehicle dynamics simulation software developed by Mechanical Simulation and used by Tartan Racing Team of Carnegie. Said software uses sensors to predict the behavior of vehicles regarding various road conditions. With that in place, the vehicle can safely navigate urban streets, stop on red lights, merge into traffic, and pass intersections safely. These are attributes that the US military is looking for in a vehicle which can be used on theaters across the world especially on urban grounds.

“We’re honored to be able to participate in the type of leading-edge technology demonstrated in the DARPA Challenge,” said Thomas D. Gillespie, Ph.D., the director of product planning and co-founder of Mechanical Simulation based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “The work being done by Carnegie Mellon – and all these teams – is reflected in the advancements in active safety systems within the automotive industry and in countless other programs in the future,” he added further.

Terence Rhoades, president of Mechanical Simulation, had this to add: “We have participated in the DARPA Challenge with Carnegie Mellon for the past three years. The team has brought an impressive level of skill and creativity to this competition, and it’s gratifying to see them achieve the highest honors. The competitions challenge us as much as they do the teams to produce vehicles that will respond to road hazards.”


Infiniti announced some of the details and the pricing information for the 2008 Infiniti M sedan models. According to the company, the 2008 Infiniti M comes with numerous updates inside and out for the 2008 model year. The car has also received significant upgrades on the powertrain and drive train system.

Infiniti offers four model variants for the 2008 M. These include the M35, M35x all wheel drive, M45, and M45x all wheel drive. Both M35 models are equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 275 horsepower, while M45 models will roll out in the market featuring the monstrous 4.5-liter aluminum-alloy DOHC V8 engine with 325 horsepower. To complete the powertrain package, these engines are coupled with a 5-speed automatic transmission.

 2008 Infiniti M45X

On the inside, all 2008 Infiniti M models also receive a wide range of new features and other interior amenities. The car now comes with standard Rosewood trim, violet instrument panel, electroluminescent Fine Vision Meters, and revised Stone interior color. Other standard interior features found on 2008 Infiniti M models include XM(R) Satellite Radio, Bluetooth Hands-free Phone System, and Infiniti Information Display with 7-inch LCD screen. Infiniti extends the interior features with the availability of numerous equipments, which include Infiniti Hard Drive Navigation System with touch-screen, XM NavTraffic9.3GB Music Box hard drive, iPod connectivity, RearView Monitor system, Advanced Technology Package, Premium Package, Sport Package, Technology Package, Mobile Entertainment System, Wood Interior Trim and Xenon/AFS Package. The Sport Package with unique exterior and interior styling along with Rear Active Steer (RAS) and 19-inch wheels and tires stands out in this extensive range of packages.

The 2008 Infiniti M rolls out in dealer showrooms all over the U.S. starting today carrying a base manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of:

2008 Infiniti M35 – $43,050
2008 Infiniti M35x all-wheel drive – $44,800
2008 Infinity M45 – $49,350
2008 Infiniti M45x all wheel drive – $51,850