Autofield Blog

Dual-Trailer Loads in Sweden

By: Gary S. Vasilash 10. July 2014

As anyone in the Detroit Metro knows, the conditions of most of the roads are such that cars under development don’t need to go to the various proving grounds in southeastern Michigan to run on the Belgian blocks.

One of the reasons for the poor conditions of the roads—yes, the weather extremes play no small role—are the trucks that haul everything from coils of steel for stamping to parts made from said coils.


So it came as something of a surprise to see that Scania, the Swedish truck producer, was proud to proclaim that rigs 31.5-meters long—which is a bit more than the length of a football field (34.45 yards, or 103.3 feet)—can now run on a route between Sōdertälje and Helsinborg, Sweden, because the Scania Transport Laboratory has determined that longer vehicles means a reduction of fuel consumption (by up to 30%), which means reduced CO2 emissions.

The OK for the route was granted by the Swedish Transport Agency.

“There are positive environmental effects of longer vehicle combinations but unfortunately it is difficult to find support for this issue in many European countries,” said Erik Ljungberg, senior vice president, Corporate Relations, Scania.

Just imagine the size of the potholes those dual-trailer loads could lead to. . . .

Do You Want Your Car to Know You?

By: Gary S. Vasilash 9. July 2014

You’ve probably heard the term “the Internet of Things” bandied about of late. The short version is that this is things other than computers and smartphones being connected to the Internet.

The car is most certainly a thing.

So it isn’t entirely surprising that Ford and Intel are working together on “Project Mobii,” which is about the Internet of Things, as in car.

Said Doug Davis, vice president, Internet of Things Group at Intel, “Project Mobii is a great example of Intel collaborating with Ford to help enable a secure, more connected driving experience.”

Ford and Intel Research Demonstrates the Future of In-Car Personalization and Mobile Interior Imaging Technology

Now one of the connections is for the owner of the vehicle to be able to see inside it via a smartphone. That should be “see inside a vehicle from a removed location,” because otherwise the windows would suffice.

In this instance, when someone got behind the wheel of the car, cameras would analyze the person to determine who that person is and whether that person has been cleared to drive the car. If that’s not the case, then the owner would receive a message, including a photo of the occupant, and then determine whether that person is going to be allowed to drive the vehicle, and if so, under what restrictions the driving is performed under. That is, should it be a teen, the owner might want to set up a speed restriction, as well as an audio volume limit.

According to the two companies, driver authentication through facial recognition software “offers improved privacy controls.”

However, wouldn’t this reduce privacy? That is, if you have a key or a fob, the car—a.k.a., a node in the Internet of Things—doesn’t need to know who you are. Does it?

Said Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice president, Ford Research and Innovation, “The use of interior imaging is purely research at this point; however, the insights we’ve gained will help us shape the customer experience in the long-term.”

Perhaps they’ll roll out with the NSA trim package for their cars.


How Green Is Auto?

By: Gary S. Vasilash 8. July 2014

When it comes to the environment, automobile companies are probably not as well thought of as other types of companies that cloak themselves in a green mantle. After all, aren’t car companies producers of things that spew all manner of bad things into the environment?

You might think that. And you would be wrong.

It turns out that the auto industry’s good Corporate Citizenship is well understood by many consumers because on the recently released Interbrand Best Global Green Brands report, auto companies dominate in a major way.

2015 Fusion Hybrid 2015 Ford Fusion Hybrid

There is a list of 50 global companies listed from categories ranging from Electronics (e.g., Panasonic) to Food (e.g., Danone) to Sporting Goods (e.g., adidas) to Beverages (e.g., Coca-Cola) and even more.

This is essentially a list of name-brand companies, so it is by no means auto-centric.

And here is how Automotive was assessed by Deloitte Consulting, which conducted the survey and crunched the numbers:

1. Ford

2. Toyota

3. Honda

4. Nissan

13. BMW

16. Volkswagen

24. Mercedes-Benz

32. Chevrolet

35. Kia

40. Hyundai

Overall, that’s 20% of the top 50 Green brands in the world.

And it is interesting to note that Ford is #1 this year but was #2 last, changing places with Toyota in both cases. Which is to say that when it comes to being Green, automotive is clearly bright.

Concept Cars of the Year Announced

By: Gary S. Vasilash 7. July 2014

While there is an array of automotive awards given out for everything from the most pet-friendly vehicle to the kind-of-car-you-would-most-like-to-buy if-you-were-as-rich-as-Bill Gates (slight exaggeration. Slight), given our participation on the jury of one award that at the very least ought to be of interest to those of you who are interested in design, we figured we’d bring it to your attention.

The 2014 North American Concept Vehicle of the Year Awards were recently presented. There are two categories, Production Preview Vehicle (a model already announced or planned for production) and the Concept Vehicle (which is, well, a concept).

The winner of the Product Preview Vehicle (selected from a group of finalists that included the Infiniti Q30 , Infiniti Q50, and the VW Passat) is the Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG.

Mercedes-Benz GLA 45 AMG (X 156) 2013

Mercedes-Benz GLA 45 AMG (X 156) 2013

The winner of the Concept Vehicle (selected from a group of finalists consisting of the Mercedes Benz GT6, Nissan Blade, and Toyota FT-1) is the Cadillac Elmiraj.



The Elmiraj did so well in the balloting (the jury consists of 27 people from the U.S. and Canada who have more of a passing interest in and knowledge of cars) that it beat all others so that it also took the Most Significant Concept Vehicle of 2014 trophy, as well.

2013 Cadillac Elmiraj Concept

2013 Cadillac Elmiraj Concept

2013 Cadillac Elmiraj Concept

2013 Cadillac Elmiraj Concept

O, Say Can You See. . .

By: Gary S. Vasilash 4. July 2014

This is Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland:Ft McHenry

It is now part of the National Park Service.

Why the picture?

Well, today here in the U.S. we celebrate the Fourth of July, or Independence Day. That marks the day in 1776, when the Declaration of Independence—from Great Britain—was made.

But Fort McHenry’s significance goes to the War of 1812, the U.S. war with. . .Great Britain.

After the Brits burned down the Capitol and White House in late August, 1814, they sailed north to Baltimore. And proceeded to fire on Fort McHenry for more than 24 hours.

It was witnessed by Francis Scott Key. Which led to him writing a poem that was later set to music, “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Which will be sung with gusto throughout the country today.

Who knows: had it all gone wrong, we’d all be driving Jaguars or something today.

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