Blog Archives

Is The Future of Cars Electric?

We’ve been told that the future is bright; we’ve even been told that the future is orange, but when it comes to cars is the future electric? Should we be turning our backs on the increasingly old-school petrol driven cars and be fully embracing electric cars so as to future-proof ourselves?

 photo EV_compact_zps5b452dab.jpg

It isn’t uncommon for the US to lead the way when it comes to technology, and particularly California. The home base of the behemoth Google, not to mention the hundreds and thousands of start-ups in Silicon Valley, when it comes to the future Californians should know their tablet-form onions. And if you’re looking to California for guidance then the suggestions are that electric cars are very much the next step.
Charging stations and points for electric cars have been a common sighting in The Golden State for some time, but earlier this month the region took the next step. The first public EV charging station that supports all models of electric vehicles has now opened in San Diego, all the more reason to buy an electric car. The charge point, located at the Fashion Valley Mall, can charge the batteries of cars that operate on any of the three existing connection systems to about 80 per cent in around 20 minutes.

 photo EV_charging_zps569a63ad.jpg

In the UK, charging points remain few and far between and for the most point limited to slow performing charging stations dotted around the big cities. If you drive around London regularly then you’ll have a lot less trouble keeping your car charged than you will in North Yorkshire say, where you’ll have to cross your fingers that you can make it from York to Scarborough in one charge.
The plus point, I suppose, is that our concerns have shifted from the vehicles themselves to how to keep them running. Thanks to celebrity endorsements and a greater range being produced by manufacturers, electric cars are no longer the concept fads they were once supposed to be. Just this year the BMW has gone all guns blazing with UK television advertising to herald the arrival of their i8 and i3 vehicles. Neither comes cheap, but they each mark a significant departure from the staid conservative nature of the Toyota Prius.
 photo BMW_i8_zpsb0e7bdcf.jpg

As more vehicles come on to the market, an electric future on the road appears to be inevitable, although not quite a here and now solution. If you live out in the country then you may want to hang fire before putting all your eggs in a snazzy new electro-basket to save being stuck on a darkened ‘B’ road in the middle of the night, but if you’re in the city then perhaps the time has come to embrace the electric car future.

This article was written by guest blogger Hiten Solanki

Police Forces Look to Performance Cars for Patrols

In recent years, as the economic climate has begun to show signs of recovery, the country has seen a rise in sales figures for supercars. More disposable income it seems means more speed for many. But with this rise comes a dilemma for the nation’s police forces; how do they keep up with the Joneses speeding down our motorways? Increasingly it appears that the answer is to fight fire with fire.

Across the UK Police forces have started to source high performance vehicles of their own in order to meet the challenge of policing supercars head on. A far cry from the traditional Rover and Vauxhall ‘Panda’ cars with low premiums on one day car insurance, the boys in blue have lately been taking to the road in more powerful vehicles. Officers in South Yorkshire have been covering the county’s roads in a Mitsubishi Evo X, whilst their compatriots on the Humberside force have been policing the east end of the M62 corridor in a V8 Lexus IS-F. And this approach is not just limited to the industrial north, down in the South West, Gloucestershire Police have been trialling the 155mph BMW interceptor.

Whilst this may seem a drastic departure for UK forces as we know them, supercars on patrol are a much more common site across other areas of the globe. In South Korea officers have several high performance vehicles in their fleet including a Porsche 911 and a Lamborghini Gallardo. And they are not the only police force to have Lamborghini at their disposal either; the manufacturer famously donated two of their Gallardo LP560-4s to the Italian Police in 2004, although officers are now down to just one after the other was written off in an accident 2009.

In the money-rich United Arab Emirates losing a police supercar is perhaps less of a trauma than it had been to Italian officers. Money was seemingly not an obstacle to the Dubai force when they upgraded their enforcement fleet. Police officers can be seen cruising round the streets of the city in a range of high performance vehicles including the Lamborghini Aventador and a Ferrari FF, Mercedes SLS AMG, Roush Mustang, Bentley Continental GT, Audi R8 V10, and a Brabus B63 S all done up in the green and white livery of the Dubai force. Anecdotal evidence suggests the swish new vehicles seem to have made officers’ jobs drastically easier too as a number of criminals have reportedly asked to be taken downtown in order to sample the cars for themselves.

 photo bugatti-veyron-police-car--image-dubai-police_100427824_m_zps11d9805a.jpg

Despite the high-performance nature of the vehicles, and their incredible top speeds, officers in Dubai have indicated that the majority of the arrests made using the vehicles have not been through high-speed chases through the desert, but for more routine offenses such as prohibited parking or driving without adequate temporary car insurance.

 photo 4b5b2572-c1cd-453f-8697-2e57c8021f71_zps58e67945.jpg

Of course there are two sides to the debate, and when the BMW Interceptor was deployed by Gloucestershire Police earlier this year concerns were voiced that such high performance vehicles could be something of a red rag to a bull for young drivers. However, police maintain that the vehicles act as a useful ploy to deter would-be speeders. As PC Angus Nairn told the UK Press when his West Midlands force were loaned a Lotus Evora in 2011; “It’s a very quick car and we hope it will prove an effective deterrent to anyone thinking of speeding or trying to outrun us. It will attract a lot of attention on the motorways but that is the whole idea”.

This article was written by guest blogger
Hiten Solanki

LED technology promotes form and function

Recently, an article was published in the Art & Design section of the NY Times (full article here). The article discusses automotive lighting paying particular attention to the design elements evoked by lighting systems over the past century. A car’s headlamps can be one of the most dramatic visual cues on the front of a vehicle. They can set the tone and help to create a car model’s persona and character. The article mentions how design elements over the past century also reflected a particular era’s history from the straight lines representing machine age production lines to softer curves after the 2nd World War meant to calm emotions after such traumatic events.

The current design of headlamps is very futuristic thanks in no small part to the introduction of modern LEDs into vehicle lighting. A great example of this is the Audi R8 which was the first car to use full LED lamps. Light Emitting Diode technology is a particularly impressive innovation with regard to design.  In an interview with Valeo’s Benoist Fleury (see below link), he explained that in addition to being significantly more efficient than traditional halogen lights, LED lighting allows for much more creative styling opportunities in the design of the lighting system. This includes the components as well as the actual beam produced. Their small size allows for a much greater range of configurations and car designers are taking advantage of that.

Automotive lighting systems also provide a functional benefit for every vehicle in terms of safety and here LEDs can also provide benefits.  European regulation dictates that all new vehicles have daytime-running-lights (DRLs) installed and LEDs are significantly more energy efficient.  They are also designed to last for the life of the car.

IQPC’s 13th International Conference Intelligent Automotive Lighting 2013 will take place from Monday, 28th to the 29th of January, 2013 with interactive workshops on the 30th. The conference will focus on developments in interior and exterior vehicle lighting including design, thermal management for LEDs and OLED technology.

Who will you meet by attending?
•    Lighting component suppliers
•    Automotive OEMs
•    Lighting system suppliers
•    Optical Systems
•    Solid state lighting manufacturers
•    OLED manufacturers
To find out more about the conference click here

Toyota INSECT Unveiled at Consumer Electronics Show

Toyota recently unveiled a new concept car at CEATEC 2012, Japan’s largest consumer electronics show.  The INSECT is a single passenger EV but might better be thought of as a very capable smartphone on wheels.  The concept car facilitates and integrates very practical applications such as the ability to recommend a restaurant or turn on your home air conditioning system in anticipation of your arrival.  By utilizing Microsoft’s Kinect technology, facial and body movements will prompt a greeting by flashing the front lights and opening the door as you approach.  Current battery technology limits this car from moving beyond a concept, but it certainly provides a great starting point for discussion about the future of consumer electronics in vehicles.

Traditionally, consumers compare power, carrying capacity and fuel efficiency within a given price range.  By creating this concept, Toyota may have recognized a consumer flashpoint.  As people spend more time in their cars, their need to be connected while in their vehicles will grow and the weight placed on a car’s integration of mobile devices may significantly increase.  In fact, the average British motorist now spends three full years of their life driving.   That is an astounding amount of time spent behind the wheel.

By 2016, it is predicted that roughly 50 percent of new vehicles sold globally will be connected to the internet.  There are of course a number of challenges to consider.

  • Currently there is no single industry standard system for integrating mobile devices into a vehicle.
  • Should manufacturers strive for internet in the car or car in the internet by integrating the car into the cloud?
  • How can consumer electronics be incorporated ergonomically and without compromising driver safety?

Learn about these and other issues at the 6th International Conference on Consumer Electronics 4 Vehicles, 28-30 January in Stuttgart, Germany.

For more information about Toyota’s INSECT click here


Will Hornick is the Managing Editor of Automotive IQ

Ford’s use of renewable and recyclable materials

Dr. Valentina Cerato, Senior Materials Engineer at Ford UK will do a presentation about theStrategic approach to the use of non-metallic recycled content” at our international conference “Automotive Interior – Smart materials and surfaces” (24. – 26. September 2012, Hilton Hotel in Bonn, Germany).

Here you can read about the applications in the Ford Focus (2010):

To find out what happens to discarded household carpets, old jeans or empty bottles, take a closer look at the Ford Focus. Ford’s innovative hatchback is spearheading a comprehensive European recycling campaign, which has created over 300 separate parts formed with recycled material and diverts around 20,000 tonnes away from landfill each year.

Valentina Cerato, materials engineer at Ford’s Dunton Technical Centre, Essex, said: “Ford’s approach is guided by its Product Sustainability Index, including sustainable material and substance management. The index covers recycled materials and the use of natural fibres, which continue to replace plastics in Ford components.”

For more information:

Here is a general overview from Ford (2010):

Ford is making its vehicles more eco-friendly through increased use of renewable and recyclable materials such as the soy and bio-based seat cushions and seatbacks on the 2010 Ford Taurus.Ford vehicles are now 85 percent recyclable by weight. In 2009, Ford saved approximately $4.5 million by using recycled materials, and diverted between 25 and 30 million pounds of plastic from landfills in North America alone.

“Sustainable materials need to meet the same high standards for quality, durability and performance as virgin material; there can be no compromise on product quality,” said Valentina Cerato, Ford materials engineer in Europe.

In Europe, automakers are required to take back the vehicles they’ve produced at the end of the vehicles’ useful lives. Ford has end-of-life recycling networks for its vehicles in 16 European markets and participates in industry collective systems in another 10. In 2007, Ford became one of the first automakers in Europe to be certified in compliance with end-of-life requirements.

For more information:

Ford Motor, USA: “PM sensors are biggest item for Euro 6/VI programs”

Ken Leisenring, Diesel Feature Calibration Manager, and John Bogema, Diesel OBD and SCR Calibration Supervisor at Ford Motor Company, USA will both speak at our diagnosis event. In their opinion, sensor durability and algorithm robustness will be key to having an overall cost efficient solution. Read the whole interview for their expert insight into the industry HERE.

IQPC’s conference 4th Advanced Automotive Diagnostics will take place 02 – 04 July, 2012 in Wiesbaden, Germany. Find more details on

John Bogema                   Ken Leisenring

Recently, Mercedes Benz released first regular bus that complies with Euro VI standards: The Citaro Euro VI.

A diesel powered service bus from Mercedes Benz holds the record of being the first such bus to be Euro VI compliant. The Citaro Euro VI is the cleanest running diesel powered bus being offered with Euro VI engines thus meeting stringent exhaust emission standards. What sets this bus apart from the rest is the fact that besides meeting high level of emission standards its fuel consumption too is reduced by 5% while oil and AdBlue consumption is also at a new reduced level.

Read this interesting article HERE (published May 23 on

Follow up: How Social Media creates Brand Awareness in the Automotive Industry

A recent study by Text100 about how automotive brands were perceived within social media channels during 2011 shows that it is quite clear that the automotive industry is not alien to social media. In fact, it is just as forward moving as any vertical market out there!

There are many great examples of how different brands have utilized the advantages of social media campaigns. We have listed a few below:

One example of a successful campaign launched just this week is the new promotion for the Volkswagen Polo in Spain. The campaign is built as a competition on Twitter as a way to promote and publicize the new VW Polo, which is also 1st prize in the competition. Each time a participant writes a tweet using the correct hashtags, you will increase your chances of winning the VW Polo. The end of this promotion will be when Volkswagen obtains a determined amount of tweets stated or by the competition end date on May 28, 2012.

In 2011 Mercedes-Benz launched a race car that literally ran on tweets. Tweets counted for a certain amount of gas: for every tweet, each team would receive 1/4 mile to advance toward its destination.

In Norway, VW promoted its Golf Bluemotion using Twitter – they created a real time game using Google Maps and Street View. The Bluemotion Golf started with a full tank with the intention to drive until it ran out of gas. To win the game you would have to guess where the car would stop.

Alfa Romeo launched a facebook campaign in Spain: If you were able to gather 99 friends from Facebook to accompany you to an Alfa Romeo dealership, you would win an Alfa Romeo Mito.

The automotive industry is embracing the possibilities that social media offer. Thus, social media tools and user networks have become an important factor in contributing to brand awareness of auto companies. Every day, more companies are investing in innovation, and in doing so they are leading the way for other industries to use these techniques as well.

(See and

Automotive IQ Tweetwall

Check out our Automotive IQ Tweetwall:  Stay up-to-date with the latest tweets mentioning automotive…

Telemactics Services

Most of the Telematics services can be categorized into the following:

  1. Safety and Security
  2. Information and Navigation
  3. Entertainment
  4. Diagnostics

1. Safety and Security Services

The safety and security services include the automatic crash notification, emergency and medical assistance. These were the first set of services to be provided as part of the telematics and also the primary motivation for the conceptualization of automotive telematics.

As part of the Automatic Crash Notification service the TCU monitors the various crash sensors of the vehicle and in the event of a crash it sends the details of the crash intensity and location information to the TOC and also initiates a voice call to the telematics call center from where a service operator can initiate the dispatch of emergency services. Request for emergency services can also be manually initiated by the vehicle occupants incase of an emergency or as a good samaritan for someone else in need of help. Also the TCU may have a alternate power supply which may allow it to operate in the event of the vehicle battery or electrical circuit failure due to a crash.

Security services provided by the telematics service providers include Stolen Vehicle Tracking and Anti-Theft Alarm Notification and remote door services. The in-vehicle TCU can be triggered remotely to send periodic precise location update messages to the Telematics Operations Center or it can be triggered automatically by the anti-theft sensors in the vehicle. Once activated, the Telematics Operations Center can track the vehicle and work with the law enforcement agencies for recovering and securing the vehicle and its occupants. As part od remote door services the TCU can be instructed to perform the door lock and unlock operations remotely from the TNOS.

2. Information and Navigation
The information and navigation services provide access from the vehicle to a variety of seamlessly integrated conveniences where the vehicle occupant can get access to location sensitive information and content. Examples of services in this category would be point of interest download, turn by turn navigation assistance and on call technical support. The TCU can also provide a personal area network to wifi/bluetooth capable devices inside the vehicle and provide them internet connectivity over the telematics wireless data network connection.

This category also includes the set of services provided to commercial vehicles and vehicle fleets. Geofencing, vehicle maintenance monitoring and fleet tracking are some of the services utilized for improving the productivity and efficiency of commercial vehicles.

3. Entertainment
The entertainment services are an upcoming area of telematics that are getting a major boost due to the the increase in the bandwidth of emerging wireless technologies for exchanging data with the vehicles. On demand direct music/video downloading, internet radio, streaming content and synchronization with home entertainment library are some examples of the services in this category. Also improvements in the processing capabilities of the TCUs have lead to features such as interactive voice based command interface for accessing in-vehicle features by the vehicle occupants.

4. Diagnostics
Diagnostics is another upcoming area of telematics services. These include remote diagnostics, performance data collection, and remote DTC scanning service to name a few. The TCU in the vehicle is made capable of performing detailed diagnostic scans when triggered remotely or when certain key thresholds are crossed for e.g. distance travelled since last scan, time elapsed since last service etc.

Telematics is an important part of Automotive Connectivity. To read further details on this subject, download 7-page PDF document giving you further details here.

Electric vehicles complete a 27.000km emission-free round-the-world tour

Members of Swiss team Zerotracer in front of the United Nations (UN) offices in Geneva, after they completed a 27,000 km round the world trip. Electric vehicles from Australia, Germany and Switzerland completed a pioneering 27,000 kilometre “emissions free” round-the-world trip on Thursday, after 188 days on the road and at sea.

Electric vehicles from Australia, Germany and Switzerland completed a pioneering 27,000 kilometre “emissions free” round-the-world trip on Thursday, after 188 days on the road and at sea.

The three-wheeler dubbed “TREV” from Adelaide, a German electric scooter and a “Monotracer” high-tech motorcycle glided silently into the UN’s European headquarters about six months after they headed eastwards around the world.

Organiser Louis Palmer, a Swiss schoolteacher who made headlines with his 18-month pioneering world tour in a solar-powered “taxi” three years ago, said the three experimental vehicles spent 80 days on the road.

“We made it around the world in 80 days, we made it back here after 17 countries and 29,000 kilometres. We can’t believe it,” the clean car champion said.

The UN-backed “Zero Race” stopped off at the World Climate Conference in Cancun, Mexico last December, after touring through Europe, Russia, China, Canada and the United States, before heading back through Morocco and Spain about a month behind schedule.

“This shows what we are trying to preach, that it can be done. Cars powered by clean renewable energy can be as effective as petrol-driven vehicles but without emissions,” said Sylvie Motard of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

However, the crews admitted they sometimes had trouble charging the vehicles even if they avoided major breakdowns.

“It was very hard in some places, certainly for our team members in Russia China,” said Alexandra James, one of the 12 volunteers who took their turn driving the bright green Australian two-seater TREV.

“They were wiring straight into the power supply in certain situations because it was the only way to get a reliable power source — it was a challenge,” James, a manager at the South Australia Technology Industry Association, told AFP.

“We had to visit a lot of interesting places — the fire stations have been fantastic.”

With some grid supplies on their way potentially being generated by high carbon sources such as coal, each team bought as much power as they consumed from renewable sources such as wind, solar and hydroelectric power, to claim an emissions-free tour.

TREV — also Two Seater Renewable Energy Vehicle — was built by students at the University of South Australia and will carry on as an education tool.

James and Christine Haydon, an electronics teacher at Tafe Regency Park college, took on the last leg from Morocco, six months after 57 year-old Adelaide electrical engineer Jason Jones and his son set out from Geneva.

“We all work full time, so we had to take on legs with a team of 12 people. That way everyone got to drive,” said Haydon.

One of the biggest problems turned out to be the South Australia licence plate – just TREV — especially with Russian border guards.

“We had a lot of trouble with the number plate because people around the world want to have numbers and when we didn’t have numbers it was a problem,” said James.

(c) 2011 AFP

%d bloggers like this: