Voices of Mercedes' LINGUATRONIC voice-operated control system



Mercedes has decided to give us an in-depth look at their new "LINGUATRONIC" voice-operated control system.

The product of over 20 years of development, the LINGUATRONIC system allows users to access common navigation functions by speaking normally (example: Stuttgart, Epplestraße or Fort Street, Detroit, Michigan) instead of having to say the town and street separately. Upon hearing this information, the system will automatically start route guidance regardless if a street number is given.

According to Mercedes, the navigation system has been programmed to recognize around 80,000 towns and 470,000 street names in Germany. This impressive database was constructed by having over a dozen Europeans record various words, phrases, numerical sequences and names. Individuals who lent their speaking expertise include Gabriele Libbach (actress in "CSI New York"), Fátima de Oliveira Baptista (former Portuguese TV host), and Jette Sieversten (a Shakespearean actress).

Besides its usefulness in accepting navigation commands, the LINGUATRONIC system also allows users to access telephone and audio functions in Danish, German, English, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Turkish, Russian, US-English, Japanese and Chinese.

VW BlueMotion Polo, Golf and Passat Production Versions at Frankfurt auto show 2009



Volkswagen has announced the production versions of the Polo, Golf and Passat BlueMotions will debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

While the BlueMotion Polo and Golf were already shown at the Geneva Motor Show, this is the first time they will be seen in full production form. On the other hand, the Passat BlueMotion has been updated to achieve improved fuel efficiency.

The Polo BlueMotion features a new 1.2-liter TDI diesel engine that produces 75 PS (55 kW). The engine consumes just 3.3 liters/100km (71.3 mpg), while emitting 87 grams of CO2 per km. Compared to the 75 PS Polo TDI, CO2 emissions are reduced 20% while fuel consumption improves by 0.9 liters/100 km.

VW's Golf BlueMotion is powered by a new TDI engine with an output of 105 PS (77 kW) and 250 Nm of torque. Fuel efficiency is rated at 3.8 liters/100km (61.9 mpg), while CO2 emissions come in at 99 g/km. As you may expect, the Golf BlueMotion is a bit of a slow poke as 0-100 km/h takes 11.3 seconds. If you have enough patience (and a strong tail wind), you may even be able to reach the Golf's top speed of 190 km/h (118 mph).

Last but not least, Volkswagen has updated the Passat BlueMotion with the Golf BM's 105 PS (77 kW) engine. Compared to the previous Passat BlueMotion, fuel efficiency improves to 4.4 liters/100km (better by 0.5 liters/100km) while emissions fall to 114 g/km. Performance is virtually nonexistent as the "sprint" from 0-100 km/h takes 12.5 seconds and top speed is 193 km/h (120 mph).

All of the BlueMotions feature regenerative braking, a Start/Stop system, improved aerodynamics, and lightweight wheels outfitted with low rolling resistance tires.

Look for VW's new range of BlueMotion vehicles to go on sale this fall.

Toyota Auris HSD Full Hybrid Concept - Set for Frankfurt World Premiere




Toyota is set to debut the Auris HSD Full Hybrid Concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show in two weeks. The hybrid concept represents Toyota's first deployment of their full hybrid technology in a mainstream high volume model. Full hybrid technology is decribed as an engine that can run on only the combustion engine, only the electric motor/batteries, or a combination of both. Toyota states that this is first step in rolling out Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD) across the company's model range. More details to be released at the Frankfurt unveiling.

Also joining the Auris concept are the Prius Plug-in Hybrid Concept, all-new Land Cruiser European premiere, iQ for Sports and iQ Collection. The Land Cruiser goes on sale in the 4th quarter of 2009 while the iQ cars demonstrate personalization possibilities.

2010 Prius posts 45% sales increase last month over previous year



not quite as high as last month's 48-percent sales increase over the previous year, we're sure Toyota is plenty happy to see the 45.7-percent bump in August sales over the same month in 2008.

For those that like seeing actual number in black and white, Toyota sold 19,173 Prius hybrids here in the States in July and another 18,866 in August. It seems highly likely that Cash for Clunkers helped those figures a bit for both months, and the Toyota brand in total saw a sales increase of about 15 percent last month over the previous August.

We know that production of the 2010 Prius is capped by the availability of nickel metal hydride battery packs. Plus, Cash for Clunkers came to an inglorious conclusion before the month of September got started, so we are curious to see what Prius sales figures will look like for the rest of the year. Stay tuned.

Impressively presented Alfa Romeo MiTo Jeans for charity



Alfa Romeo is definitely trying to play to its strengths as a stylish Italian brand.

It now has a pair of jeans to compliment the MiTo model.

The project came about when Alfa Romeo teamed up with fashion expert Louise Roe to create a line of women's jeans based on the concept of the MiTo and its DNA button feature which allows drivers to choose from 3 different drive settings on the car - Dynamic, Normal and All Weather.

The contract then went to Bjork and McElligott, a London fashion house, who designed a pair of jeans with Alfa Romeo red-thread stitching and a waistband made out of top quality leather. The jeans also feature embroidering on the rear pockets. The serpent of the Alfa brand's badge stitched onto the right pocket with the fashion house's own emblem on the left.

The slim-fit jeans are available for purchase at www.mitojeans.co.uk. They cost £75 per pair (85 euros) with all proceeds going to Jeans for Genes, a charity for children with genetic disorders.

Hamann Tycoon EVO Based on BMW X6 Revealed - Public Debut in Frankfurt



Way back in January tuner HAMANN unveiled a new TYCOON wide body kit for the BMW X6. For the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show the company will showcase the latest version of this model called the TYCOON EVO. Visual differences with its predecessor include new front wings, LED daytime running lights and side skirts that widen the body by 60mm.

The rear is dominated by the new sporty exhaust system with its centre double tailpipes. HAMANN promises that its sound is particularly throaty for exceptional aural pleasantries. In its vicinity are back wing extensions and a roof spoiler. Fitted to keep it on tar are special ultra-forged and polished 23-inch wheels wearing 315/25 R 23 size rubber.

No HAMANN car is complete without the engineers delving deep under the belly to unearth something more potent than what the factory offers. At the bottom of the petrol range is the xDrive35i which normally has a healthy 225kW (306hp) and 400Nm. This has been increased to 265kW (360hp) and 540Nm respectively. As such, the speed limit increases to 275km/h (171mph).

The diesel derived from the xDrive30d which usually has 173kW (235hp) and 520Nm, now has 195kW (265hp) and a flying 600Nm of torque. The second diesel motor from the xDrive35d has had its power and torque increased to 235kW (320hp) and torque to 660Nm from an early 2,000rpm.

At the top end is the xDrive50i-based V8 which has been convinced to churn out 368kW (500hp) at 5,600rpm and 700Nm of torque. It will almost hit 300km/h (186mph) if left unchecked.

HAMANN will kit out the interior with such things as a three-spoke steering wheel, aluminum foot pedals and lots of carbon fibre pieces

Electric car plans highlighted at annual Green Power Forum



The Government’s plan to have 10% of cars electric by 2020 would be justified only if it was accompanied by renewable sources of electricity, such as wind.

That was the message to delegates attending the annual Green Power Forum, organised by the Irish Motoring Writers Association (IMWA) and sponsored by Semperit Tyres.

An audience of nearly 150 from the motoring, environmental and energy sectors came together at UCD’s Global Irish Institute to hear a panel discussion of the availability and desirability of electric cars in Ireland.

Senan McGrath, Sustainability Manager, ESB, explained how over 1000 public charging stations would be installed here by the end of 2011, delivering an 80% charge in 30 minutes.

Claiming that electric powered vehicles use 75% more energy than equivalent diesels in real-life conditions, Paul Withrington, Director, Transport Watch UK, concluded that the electric car is a no.

“Short of power cells on car roofs, it appears far better to invest in improving the efficiency of the internal combustion engine, which has the potential to reduce its fuel consumption by perhaps 25%,” he said.

Mr Withrington added that claims the ESB would be carbon neutral by 2035 seemed optimistic, given only 10% of current electricity is from renewable sources.

Delegates also heard that likely subsidies across Europe for EVs varied greatly, with an average of ca. €6,000, rising to up to €13,000 in Denmark.

IMWA Chairman Michael Moroney welcomed the Forum as an opportunity for informed debate on the many technical issues related to the use of the electric car in Ireland.

“Our primary emphasis is on what’s achievable in terms of an electric vehicle network, or if this is the correct direction to be taking for a small island nation such as our own.”

Paddy Murphy of Semperit Tyres, emphasized the increasing importance of tyres in a world of electric cars, where lower rolling resistance through leaner tyres and special compounds can contribute to maximise range.

“Energy conservation also requires proper tyre maintenance. Up to 25% of tyres on our roads are under-inflated. That increases rolling resistance, and will impact significantly on the range of an electric car,” he added.

The event was chaired by RTE’s Rodney Rice. Cars from Mitsubishi, GreenAer, and Green Machines were available at the event for test driving.

Korean electric car gets a charge - an induction charge - from the road



The Korea Advanced Institute of Technology (KAIST) has developed a revolutionary electric vehicle that neatly side-steps the looming political/economic issue of scarcity of advanced battery materials, as well as the practical limitations imposed by battery weight and life, by dispensing with batteries altogether! The OLEV (On Line Electric Vehicle) draws power from cables buried in the road-bed, differing from existing electric train and bus technology in that the power is transfered by magnetic induction without physical contact of any kind. KAIST claims to achieve 80% efficiency of power-transfer across a 1cm gap, and 60% efficiency across a 12cm gap!

The institute, which is Korea’s foremost technological University and operates with a government mandate to pursue economically strategic R&D projects, has now established a commercial off-shoot to promote and exploit this technology. According to the University, "online electric vehicle co., ltd., will undertake business activities related to the OLEV project, including the ipr on power supply and pick-up devices, parts and accessories and commercial promotion.

Strong powerful Audi R8 coming at Frankfurt auto show 2009

We've been hearing internet chatter that Audi might have something electric up its sleeves for the Frankfurt Motor Show later this month, and the German automaker has just thrown a bunch of fuel on those flames in the form of a new micro-site called electricityuntamed.com.
R8 also seems to go along with the overall theme of the site, which focuses in on the power made possible by electric drivetrains