Armchair Executive: What New Safety Feature Would You Push To Be Mandatory In The US?
Apr18

Armchair Executive: What New Safety Feature Would You Push To Be Mandatory In The US?

This is the weekly series where you, the Autosavant commentariat, are invited to take the reins of the auto industry, for at least as long as it takes you to write a comment. It’s all the responsibility, with none of the compensation!

Almost a year ago plus a couple days, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) put forth a requirement through its parent organization, the US Department of Transportation, that all cars manufactured on or after May 1, 2018 be sold in the US with a backup camera as standard equipment.

I’m sure most of us have seen one by now: a large screen in the center console, dash or even rear view mirror will display live video from a camera mounted above the rear license plate, whenever reverse gear is selected. Often (though not always) there are sightlines projected on the display to give drivers a quick index of where objects are in relation to the rear of the vehicle; sometimes the lines even move to match steering angle and speed.

According to a New York Times article, regulators argued that each year, between 95 and 112 deaths, and 8,374 injuries, could be wiped off the board if rear blind spots were totally eliminated.

For the mandate, rules were set determining the rearward field of vision (10 feet wide, 20 feet deep), the angle of the lens (130 degree fisheye), and even the duration the image should stay on the screen (between 4 and 8 seconds).

While many in the industry were happy with the decision for obvious reasons, observers have noted that backup cameras seem like a safety item of fairly low importance, perhaps even compared to other active safety features, such as automated collision avoidance, telematics, or even a combination of the two–vehicles that would be required to communicate and avoid collisions as if they were magnetically opposed to one another, an idea the DOT’s chief secretary Anthony Foxx had opined only two months before their backup camera mandate.

There’s no question regulators don’t make these decisions from within a vacuum. Industry players (such as yourselves) have had plenty of time to catch NHTSA’s ear before these announcements were made.

So the question I pose to you is: if you were convinced your industry could handle the business–or the overhead–which emerging automotive technology absolutely NEEDS to be in every car sold in the US? Does fully driverless automation even enter the question, or is it too complex and risky? Are eye tracking devices simple and cheap enough to economize, or are they not effective enough to make roads safer?

Or, as folks in the aviation industry might ask, is all this augmented reality feature creep making us worse at managing our ever more complicated machinery?

Have your say below in the Comments.

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Armchair Executive: Why Even Bother With Auto Shows?
Apr10

Armchair Executive: Why Even Bother With Auto Shows?

This is the weekly series where you, the Autosavant commentariat, are invited to take the reins of the auto industry, for at least as long as it takes you to write a comment. It’s all the responsibility, with none of the compensation!

Scarcely a couple of weeks before opening day, news outlets received a terse statement from MINI: they would be withdrawing their entire exhibition from the New York International Auto Show (NYIAS). This is kind of a big deal; New York is a big show, one of the perennial “majors,” and MINI has never been considered a boutique manufacturer. As a subset of BMW, they represent a harbinger of new products and features from their Bavarian overlords. And they didn’t just give up floor space, either; industry insiders were expecting to see at least one major debut, most likely the convertible version of its newly renovated Cooper and Cooper S, or perhaps a look at the highly anticipated production version of its new, larger take on the six-door Clubman.

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Armchair Executive: What Would You Do If The New Car Market Imploded?
Mar27

Armchair Executive: What Would You Do If The New Car Market Imploded?

This is the weekly series where you, the Autosavant commentariat, are invited to take the reins of the auto industry, for at least as long as it takes you to write a comment. It’s all the responsibility, with none of the compensation!

I grew up in a household which, by and large, respected the value of the new car. We bought whatever had a warranty, and when the warranty ran out, it was time to start shopping again.

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Armchair Executive: Which Untapped Future Automotive Segments Are Ripe For The Picking?
Mar19

Armchair Executive: Which Untapped Future Automotive Segments Are Ripe For The Picking?

I’d like to introduce a weekly series where you, the Autosavant commentariat, are invited to take the reins of the auto industry, for at least as long as it takes you to write a comment. It’s all the responsibility, with none of the compensation!

We live in interesting times. Converging automotive technologies (like drivetrain electrification, automated driving, enhanced connectivity, etc) are advancing with frightening pace, yet the form factors themselves–the size, shape and mission of the cars themselves–have hardly changed at all in the last fifteen years. Small hatchbacks, large hatchbacks (served lukewarm and hot). Small vans, big vans (for commercial customers and large families). Crossovers of all sizes, from mini to Venti. You know the drill.

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NAIAS 2015 Day One Recap
Jan12

NAIAS 2015 Day One Recap

Day one of the 2015 North American International Auto Show (or NAIAS, or the Detroit Auto Show) is behind us, and we’ve racked up a significant number of steps on our FitBit (13,462 and counting as of this writing) and have seen some awesome cars. You can get details from the press releases and other sites on your own, but I thought I’d take time to add some in-person impressions of a few of the more significant vehicles at the show. Also, follow us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/autosavant) throughout the day for more frequent, live content as we hit the floor for day two tomorrow.

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Book Review: Incredible Lego Technic Cars, Trucks, Robots & More
Dec21

Book Review: Incredible Lego Technic Cars, Trucks, Robots & More

Editor’s Note: I have always loved Legos and have built hundreds of models over the years. I have shared that enthusiasm with my sons, ages nine and seven. When offered a chance to review Incredible Lego Technic Cars, Trucks, Robots & More by Pawel “Sariel” Kmiec, I thought it would be fun to have my nine year old son, Seth, read the book and write the review. Please enjoy his words below. – CH

By Seth Haak, Age 9

The book, Incredible Lego Technic Cars, Trucks, Robots & More by Pawel “Sariel” Kmiec, was interesting to read to learn about all the models. If you are especially interested in Legos, this would be a good book for you.

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Review: 2014 Scion tC
Nov01

Review: 2014 Scion tC

Toyota’s Scion sub-brand has been struggling since the auto market crashed during the Great Recession.  Sales are about a quarter of their pre-recession peak, and the best-selling Scion model, the tC, had fewer sales (19,094) during 2013 than did the slowest-selling Toyota car model (Yaris, 21,342).  Members of the inaugural Scion buyer demographic class (those who were 22 years old in 2002) are now in their thirties with children, families, and better jobs, and don’t want a brash, quirky car.  Scion’s buyers have grown up, and the brand must grow up with them.  We spent a week in Scion’s updated-for-2014 Scion tC to get a feel for whether the car’s [mostly cosmetic] updates can keep it atop the Scion sales race.

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Review: BFGoodrich KO2 All-Terrain T/A Tires (Baja Tested)
Oct02

Review: BFGoodrich KO2 All-Terrain T/A Tires (Baja Tested)

There are trips that one dreams about, and trips that one never forgets. My trip to Baja to test the new BFGoodrich KO2 All-Terrain T/A tires falls into the latter category. I never before had the opportunity to rub elbows with Baja off-road legends and drive and co-drive roughly 300 miles of the legendary Baja 1000 off-road course, and most likely I never will again. BFGoodrich was so confident in their new all-terrain radials that they flew me and several other journalists to Baja to put the new tires to the test in the environment they were developed in. The tires survived what we threw at them without skipping a beat, and appeared to genuinely live up to the claims that the BFG marketing department laid out for us.

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