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Honda Goes NVIDIA


By: Gary S. Vasilash 7. October 2014

Lost, presumably (or relatively), last week, amid announcements of things like the Lamborghini Asterion LPI 910-4, which features a V10 naturally aspirated engine combined with three electric motors so that the car has total deliverable power of 910 hp (it is really time to start thinking of hybrids as things other than just Priuses), supercomputer-on-a-chip producer announced at the Paris Motor Show that the its Tegra mobile processor is being used by Honda to power infotainment for 2015 Honda Civic, Civic Tourer and CR-V models equipped with the Honda Connect system (in Europe).

Lambo in paris

Lamborghini Asterion LPI 910-4

That’s as in European models of the vehicles.

What’s interesting to note about this is that Honda becomes the 19th global auto company to go with NVIDIA, which is probably more familiar to global game system and tablet producers—or at least has been heretofore.

Danny Shapiro, NVIDIA’s senior director of Automotive, emphasizes that they’ve been intensively working with automotive for the past several years, which explains in large part why they have marque users including Audi and Tesla.

(The Tesla Model S actually has two Tegra processors, one for the gauge cluster and one for that 17-in. infotainment system.)

Honda is the first Japanese OEM to go with NVIDIA.

Kristian - Israel

And Shapiro points out that Honda will be the first automotive OEM that will be using Android—in this case 4.0.4—as the embedded operating system. That is, Android just like the system that you may have on your phone or Google tablet.

On the Honda vehicles, there is a 7-in. capacitive touchscreen that is used for navigation, audio, and the rearview camera.

It may not be as visibly awesome as that Lambo, but the implications for telematics implementations are certainly underscored by the announcement.


Ford Studio 2000X: Creating the Future


By: Gary S. Vasilash 6. October 2014

Jeff Nowak shows a film clip of a 2015 Ford Edge in action. It is exceedingly high-def. The lights glint off the sheet metal and the glass; the edges are crisp; the colors are rich and bright.

All-New 2015 Ford Edge Showcases Technology, Design and Craftsmanship

One thing about this.

It isn’t real.

There is no 2015 Ford Edge in the film.

There is no road. No buildings.

Jeff Nowak is chief designer at Ford’s Studio 2000X.

There they produce hyperrealistic digital images.

As Nowak explains, about half of the people in the studio are designers. The other half are tech experts.

Through the combination of the two, they are able to help bring designs that are being created in the studio into highly accurate images.

It helps development. It helps executives better understand what is being designed.

Nowak talks with John Manoogian of the College of Creative Studies (Nowak, incidentally, is a CCS graduate), Jeff Sabatini of Car and Driver, and me on this installment of “Autoline After Hours.”

Does things like Studio 2000X portend the end of clay modeling?

Watch and see.

In addition to which, Manoogian, Sabatini and I discuss a variety of auto-related developments, from the imminent Cadillac departure to New York to the viability of Lincoln.

You can watch it here:


McLaren for China


3. October 2014

When it comes to luxury cars, the Chinese market matters. A lot.

So much so that OEMs generally modify existing vehicles, typically stretching them to accommodate rear-seat passengers in a more luxurious manner.

Often, these modifications are not talked about. It’s not that they’re a secret. Just not talked about.

McLaren 625C

McLaren 625C Coupe and Spider: Specifically for the Asian market

After all, most vehicle manufacturers want to be perceived as being “global” in the sense that it is one for all and all for one. So to speak.

So it came as a bit of a surprise to see an announcement from McLaren Automotive of the McLaren 625C, which the company describes as its “first regionally tailored model aimed at the Asian market.”

The rationale behind this sports car that’s powered by a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 that produces 616 bhp, and can go from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in a mere 3.1 seconds?

The overall Asian market has been McLaren’s single-biggest growth area, with 20% of its sales occurring there in 2013, and an anticipated ~33% in 2014.

The 625C will launched in Hong Kong, with other Asian markets to follow.


“America’s Supercar”


By: Gary S. Vasilash 2. October 2014

While we’ll be taking a more comprehensive look at this powertrain in the November print version of Automotive Design & Production, it is interesting to note that yesterday it was announced that the first-ever supercharged Corvette Z06 engine—SAE certified at 650 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque—propelled the car to the fastest speed ever for a production car run at GM’s Milford Road Course in Michigan.

2015 "LT4" 6.2L V-8 AFM VVT DI SC (LT4) for Chevrolet Corvette Z

LT4 engine

It runs a quarter mile in 10.95 seconds.

It goes from 0 to 60 mph in 2.95 seconds.

And it is interesting to note that these times are for a Corvette Z06 equipped with a new eight-speed automatic.

Interesting because with the seven-speed manual, the times are 11.2 for the quarter mile and 0 to 60 in 3.2.

Certainly more than respectable times, but it seems as though automatics—with paddle shifters—are now surpassing the manual.

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

The 2015 Z06 will go on sale early next year starting at $78,995, which is certainly a low number compared to other cars with similar numbers.

As Mark Reuss, GM’s Global Product Development executive vp, put is: “The Corvette has long been known as America’s sports car. With the capability of the new Z06 rivaling the best performance cars in the world, we will also be America’s Supercar.”


2015 Lincoln MKC AWD


By: Gary S. Vasilash 1. October 2014

There are a couple ways to think about luxury vehicles.

One is what the luxury brand signifies. What it stands for in the minds of consumers. What it means. The status it provides to the person who drives one.

The other is what it is. Its physical attributes. What it provides. How it is designed. Engineered. Built. What you are actually getting for your money.

2015 Lincoln MKC

There are vehicles that have a badge that say “luxury” to the world. The vehicle in question, however, may be really not all that luxurious, or at least there are other vehicles that offer equal to or better than amenities and execution yet they come at a non-luxury price.

There are vehicles that have the badge yet the badge doesn’t have the resonance, the signification. Yet the vehicles are well built. Well executed. Full of the expected—or possibly even unexpected—features for the category.

Lincoln is in a zone that sort of splits the middle.

For some people, the “Lincoln” brand has a resonance of luxury. For these people, Lincoln is truly aspirational. However, many of these people are those who are not in a demographic that has too many vehicles left in their future. And Lincoln needs to have a whole new cohort to “think Lincoln.”

2015 Lincoln MKC

For this last set of people, “Lincoln” may be something that they sort-of know is in an upper class, but they really don’t have any strong sense one way or the other. They know what Mercedes and BMW mean. Lexus has been on the scene sufficiently long to gain viability and share of mind. They now know that Audi is a player. And Cadillac has been earning its place at the spreadsheet table with some competitive vehicles for the past few years.

But Lincoln?

It is interesting to note that Lincoln, in its advertising for the MKC, describe it as “The First-Ever Lincoln MKC.”

Which is somewhat puzzling to me. Luxury is in many ways about heritage. It is about earned credibility. So the “first-ever” is a bit puzzling.

I think if I was writing the line, I would use a different modifier. Like “The Remarkable Lincoln MKC.” Because it really is a well-executed vehicle, one that people ought to talk about.

2015 Lincoln MKC

The vehicle that I drove had a base MSRP of $35,595. All-in (including $895 for destination and delivery), it came to $48,770. Which is a non-trivial amount of money to spend on a small sport utility vehicle.

Which brings me back to the physical attributes, to what it provides for the money. And I would say that there is value there. Especially on the interior. Which really matters most.

Lincoln MKC Media Drive

The $49K comes with a bevy of items. A Homeric list. Heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, and Bridge of Weir leather. There is a heated steering wheel. Panoramic roof. Pushbutton start and pushbutton shift. Enhanced THX audio. SYNC. And while on the technology route, there is adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake assist. There is lane-keeping assist. There is active park assist (for both getting into a spot parallel and getting out of same).

The wood is wood and open pore. The trim is executed with panache, not just with a Teutonic approach.

The vehicle has a 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine that produces 285 hp, and as the curb weight of the all-wheel-drive MKC is on the order of 3,963 lb., that is a sufficient amount of power.

The MKC, first or not, is simply well done. It holds its own with products from the luxury marques. But unlike them, Lincoln is back earnings its luxury stripes, and in the case of this vehicle, there is some evident overachievement going on. Which, for the customer, is certainly a good thing.

It is a crossover you buy for what it offers, and what it offers is more in the tangible sense. Lincoln keeps doing vehicles like this, then the non-tangible will come along in some short order.

Selected specs

Engine: 2.3-liter EcoBoost, DOHC, inline four

Horsepower: 285 @ 5,500 rpm

Torque: 305 lb-ft @ 2,750 rpm

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Steering: Electric power assist

Wheelbase: 105.9 in.

Length: 179.2 in.

Width: 73.4 in.

Height: 65.2 in.

Curb weight: 3,989 lb.

Seating capacity: 5

Passenger volume: 97.9-cu-ft.

Cargo volume behind first row: 53.1 cu. ft.

Cargo volume behind second row: 25.2 cu. ft.

EPA: mpg city/highway/combined: 18/26/21 mpg

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