Auto Notes - December 2015
Tech, tech, tech. There is no shortage of new technologies on the world’s cars and trucks today, though the addition of major electronic and computerized systems, as well as some mechanical elements, have caused the largest global recall of vehicles in history over the past two years.
With the notion that we can have driverless vehicles in the future, unique safety features abound on dozens of models of cars and trucks in model years 2015-2016. While rear-view cameras (mandatory on vehicles under 10,000 pounds effective May 2018) are common on most models today, there are also side view and surround view cameras that are becoming more popular for added safety, such as the Honda/Acura system that pops up on a display screen when the right turn signal is engaged.
Forward collision avoidance systems are increasingly available on a variety of vehicles and plans to offer the availability of those systems will be common in coming years. Lane departure warning systems that alert the driver to vehicle movement toward the center or outside lanes is another excellent safety feature on dozens of models, as are blind spot warning, rear cross traffic, and object detection systems, to name a few.
A myriad of driver assistance systems, from adaptive cruise control to GPS traffic warnings, help automate and adapt the driving process for added safety. Next-generation navigation systems can provide sophisticated connectivity and data for drivers and passengers. Lexus recently extended its relationship with INRIX, a global data technology company, to add INRIX Weather and INRIX Fuel to its real-time services, giving drivers up-to-the-minute weather alerts and the ability to search for the lowest nearby fuel prices. Lexus already offers INRIX Traffic and INRIX Off-Street Parking in its suite of available tech services.
Safety and driver compliance issues are also enhanced by advanced traction and stability systems that allow for more vehicle control and fewer accidents. Braking systems, like Nissan’s Active Trace Control that automatically engages inner and outer brakes when cornering, are becoming more sophisticated on almost all cars and trucks sold in the U.S.
Tire pressure monitoring systems, required on all light-duty vehicles models 2008 and beyond, have generally seen improved system design on cars and trucks and provide safer driving by informing drivers of low tire pressure which can cause lower fuel economy.
Pizza, pizza. In recent years, Ford, GM, Sprinter and other auto and truck makers have all bombarded the marketplace with vehicles designed for a variety commercial uses. Now Domino’s USA, in conjunction with Roush Enterprises and GM, has designed the first purpose-built vehicle for pizza delivery.
The Domino’s DXP (Delivery Expert) is the brainchild of former GM R&D executive Kenneth Baker. Along with Roush, hundreds of concepts were identified in an online crowdsourcing design competition by Local Motors. Using the 2015 Chevrolet Spark as a base, the DXP has all but the driver’s seat removed, allowing for large orders up to 80 pizzas to be delivered to customers. The IIHS Top Safety Pick minicar has an estimated fuel rating of 39 MPG and is equipped with OnStar navigation to assist drivers with directions and contact 911 services if needed.
With a 1.2-L inline four-cylinder engine, the DXP features a continuously variable automatic transmission for seamless driver throttle input and speed. The front fascia displays the Domino’s logo, side panels display a reflective graphic of the company, hubcaps have the Domino’s logo, and an illuminated car topper sign designates the brand.
“As a 55-year-old company born in Michigan, it is an honor to be able to partner with other great Michigan-based companies to produce the DXP,” said Russell Weiner, president of Domino’s USA. Major rollouts of the first 100 DXPs will be by the end of the year in 25 markets, including San Diego and Seattle.
New Lotus. Lotus Motorsport has introduced the new Exige 360 Cup model that has increased power with its 3.5-L DOHC V-6, which is equipped with a Harrop supercharger that uses Eaton TVS technology. The engine is mated with a six-speed manual gearbox with sport ratios and features a Bosch Electronic Differential Lock.
The Exige 360 Cup uses the track-proven aerodynamics of the Exige V6 Cup with an optimized front splitter, rear diffuser, and wing. Together with the flat underside, the aerodynamic aids offer 42 kg lf downforce at 100 MPH.
The chassis on the sportster is a Lotus-designed stiff, lightweight bonded aluminum with a double wishbone throughout. New features include a bespoke lightweight front access panel, as well as new lightweight rear tailgate and louvered panel.