12-volt electrical systems are reaching the end of the road

Mark Schneider | 6/01/2017 9:13:05 AM

The pace of change in vehicle technology has been dizzying in recent years with engines, brakes and safety systems all undergoing radical transformations that have brought dramatic improvements. They don’t make cars like they used to, and we can all be very thankful for that. However one thing that’s remained unchanged for decades is the electrical system that underpins much of this technology. Cars have been running 12-volt electrical systems since the 1950s when most manufac...

Victoria is Australia’s car theft capital

Mark Schneider | 26/10/2016 10:01:44 AM

Australians tend to be a little parochial when it comes to their home state, proudly proclaiming the superiority of NSW, Victoria, Queensland, WA, or wherever else they call home. We even have a history of putting state slogans on our number plates. But here’s one you’re unlikely to see adorning Victorian number plates: “Australia’s car theft capital”. Yes, Victoria has earned that unwanted title after an extraordinary 33% rise in car thefts in the year to Ju...

Marketers’ dream or another high-tech distraction?

Mark Schneider | 28/09/2016 3:58:46 PM

As if texting in cars wasn’t bad enough, drivers may soon be faced with another distraction when they’re behind the wheel – in-car marketing. According to a report in on-line magazine Marketing Land, cars are about to become the next mobile target for marketing, and it promises to distract us in a number of ways. Targeted billboards For starters there are digital billboards which are going interactive. Ads that are synchronised to changing traffic speeds are just...

Autonomous Cars Take a Giant Leap Forward

Mark Schneider | 2/08/2016 10:18:37 AM

Autonomous cars have just taken another big step into the future with the release of a new computer that collects data and enables autonomous navigation. NXP’s BlueBox computer collects information from radar, Lidar, cameras and other sensors and processes them in real time to build a model of the vehicle’s surroundings. The system can process an astonishing 90 million instructions per second and uses less than 40 watts in the process. It’s already had the s...

Chinese start-up poaches BMW’s electric experts

Mark Schneider | 19/07/2016 1:01:59 PM

In a sure sign that China is getting very serious indeed about the future of electric cars, Chinese electric vehicle startup Future Mobility has recruited the brains behind BMW’s electric i8 sports car. The Chinese company may be an unknown in the vehicle world, but it’s backed by some very big money - the curiously named Tencent Holdings and Foxconn. Tencent Holdings is an electronics, social media and online gaming giant worth over US$200 billion, while Foxconn, which manufa...

Ford's Australian Influence is Here to Stay

Mark Schneider | 15/07/2016 9:33:44 AM

The end of Ford Australia’s car production may be just months away but Ford Australia’s Research and Development and Product Development team will be playing a major role in developing new products world-wide. In doing so, the company will become Australia’s biggest automotive sector employer from next year, according to Ford. After its last cars have left the production line Ford’s Broadmeadows, Victoria plant will be transformed into its Asia-Pacific Product Deve...

Has Tesla Killed Off Car Dealerships?

Nigel Malcolm | 30/06/2016 1:47:44 PM

With new technology comes disruption. And self-driving cars are attracting a lot of attention from a technology point of view: how do they work? Are they safe? Will they be affordable? Far less attention is being given to the way they will disrupt the motor industry. But the reality is that self-driving cars will not only revolutionise the way we move. The method by which cars have traditionally been distributed, sold and traded will be transformed in ways that most of us haven’t ev...

From Vacuum Cleaners to Cars

Mark Schneider | 17/06/2016 12:47:15 PM

The coming motoring revolution in electric cars and autonomous vehicles is producing some unlikely aspiring carmakers. Who would have guessed 10 years ago that Google, an internet search engine, and Apple, a computer and smartphone maker would be getting serious about making cars? Now there’s another unlikely starter on the blocks – Dyson. That’s right –Dyson, the company that manufactures vacuum cleaners that reputedly “never lose suction,” is developi...

Volvo is dead serious about death-free driving

Mark Schneider | 10/06/2016 12:03:38 PM

If you were to do a word association test and the word “Volvo” came up, then it’s a reasonable bet that the first word that popped into your head would be “safety”. Volvos have always been synonymous with safety. Long before safety equipment like airbags, head restraints and even seatbelts became compulsory, Volvo were building safety into their cars from the tyres up. Well lately they’ve been taking that commitment to a whole new level with a commi...

Tesla Model 3 "A Game Changer"

Mark Schneider | 28/04/2016 8:57:06 AM

It’s been described as “the fastest growing customer order book in the history of the automobile” and a “game changer” in the transition from the internal combustion engine to electric. Advance orders for Tesla’s Model 3, Tesla’s first affordable electric vehicle, soared past the 325,000 mark just days after release, representing a potential $US280 million and more in deposits alone to the Californian carmaker. If those orders all come to fruition tot...

Toyota's Setsuna Concept Car Is Cutting Edge

Mark Schneider | 12/04/2016 11:31:26 AM

Concept cars have been around since the 1930s as a way to showcase carmakers' cutting edge style and technology. Well Toyota's latest effort, its Setsuna concept car, has just given cutting edge a whole new meaning. In Setsuna's case cutting edge involves saws and chisels. Take a look at it. If it looks like it's made of wood there's a very good reason for that - it is, and not just any old plank lying out in the backyard. The Toyota Setsuna has been lovingly handcraft...

The Five Per-Cent Transport Solution

Mark Schneider | 5/04/2016 10:39:23 AM

Here’s a question for you: what costs you at least $15,000 to buy (and probably more) and is only used for its intended purpose five per cent of the time? The answer is probably sitting in your driveway, garage or maybe the car park at work right now. That’s right, it’s your car, and ninety five per cent of the time it’s just sitting there parked, going nowhere. That’s the typical figure of car use according to University of California Los Angeles economist profe...

Biofuels' Environmental Promise Falls Well Short

Mark Schneider | 16/03/2016 2:09:51 PM

Biofuels promised plenty of environmental benefits when their use became common in the US, Europe and elsewhere, but so far that promise has fallen well short of the reality. The idea of a carbon-neutral fuel that could be readily produced from plants, partially replacing non-renewable liquid fuels, spurred the Europeans to make a percentage of biofuel mandatory at filling stations throughout the continent. The EU wasn’t alone, with many other nations, including the US, mandating that a...

Self-driving cars may be a boon for older drivers

Mark Schneider | 15/03/2016 8:00:00 AM

The conventional wisdom that young people are the early adopters of new technology while older folk struggle to come to grips with it may be turned on its head when it comes to self-driving cars. Tech giant Google, a leader in self-driving cars, believes the technology will be a godsend for older drivers who can no longer drive or who lack the confidence to get behind the wheel in city or suburban streets. The oldest person so far to travel in one of Google’s cars is 94 year-ol...

Crumple Zones Save Lives

Mark Schneider | 8/03/2016 8:00:00 AM

The aftermath of car crashes is not a pretty sight. All too frequently the car or cars involved are a tangled mess of metal on the back of a truck even after relatively low speed collisions. The bad news is that the car may be a write-off, but the good news is that these days the driver and passengers are highly likely to have survived the crash relatively unharmed. It wasn’t always this way. In the bad old days when cars were rigid and strong drivers and passengers would freque...

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