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Even if it's not FM, Internet radio is an evolutionary step in broadcasting that more and more drivers will want.

By Douglas Newcomb Feb 25, 2013 6:27AM

Pandora for Ford Sync AppLink. Photo by Ford.For decades, radio has taken a back seat to the latest and greatest in-car technology.

From 8-track tapes to iPods, car audio has largely been about choice -- drivers getting the tunes they want without waiting for a deejay to play them or listening to annoying commercials. While recent innovations such as satellite radio and HD radio breathed new life into the century-old medium, they were largely a technology update on the traditional radio paradigm.

So it’s ironic that the newest ripple in in-car entertainment, Internet radio, essentially riffs off the oldest and original on-the-road technology companion for drivers. It’s also a bit of a paradox that the technology merges the connectivity of smartphones with, in the case of Pandora Internet radio, music curated by a third-party database.

Ford’s announcement today that it will include the popular streaming music service Spotify as part of its Sync AppLink feature proves that the next evolution of entertainment technology in the car is ready to hit high speed. Radio, it appears, is again on the cutting edge.


Google, Mercedes-Benz also can now legally test autonomous technology on state roads.

By Douglas Newcomb Thu 11:17 AM

Photo by Audi.When Google first revealed in 2010 that it had logged over 140,000 miles on California roads testing its autonomous cars, the state didn't have laws governing the technology. Since then, California has moved -- although much more slowly than the technology -- to permit the limited use of roads within the state for autonomous-car testing.

The state passed a law allowing testing of driverless cars in 2012, but it didn't take effect until this week. Audi was the first automaker to get a permit from California on Tuesday, followed by Mercedes-Benz and Google. In all, California issued permits on Tuesday for 29 vehicles from the three companies; Google has 25 self-driving vehicles, while Mercedes and Audi each have two.


New Mustang V6 is off 3 mpg from the previous model with automatic transmission and 1 mpg with manual.

By Douglas Newcomb Wed 8:42 AM

2015 Ford Mustang. Photo by Ford.While enthusiast drivers typically don't expect a sports car to sip gas, when the previous Ford Mustang topped the 30-mpg barrier -- while still producing 300 horsepower -- it marked a fuel efficiency milestone for muscle cars. And that the all-new 2015 Mustang will be available with a 4-cylinder engine for the first time since 1993 is proof that Ford's new pony was designed with gas sipping in mind.

But according to new Environmental Protection Agency figures, the 2015 Ford Mustang's fuel economy numbers are lower than the outgoing models when equipped with a similarly sized 3.7-liter V6 engine and either the 6-speed automatic or manual transmission. The EPA has rated the 2015 Mustang with the automatic transmission at 28 mpg on the highway, whereas the 2014 V6 Mustang automatic was rated 31 mpg highway -- 3 mpg more. The 2014 V6 Mustang with a manual was rated at 29, 1 mpg higher.

City ratings for the 2015 V6 Mustang are slightly higher than the 2014 model: 21 mpg for the automatic and 22 mpg for the manual. These were 19 mpg with either transmission for the 2014 model.

The new numbers put the new V6 Mustang neck-in-neck in fuel economy with its main competitor, the 2015 Chevrolet Camaro.


CEO Elon Musk says all the company's cars will eventually have 'autopilot' technology.

By Douglas Newcomb Tue 1:19 PM

Photo by Tesla Motors.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said earlier this year that his company would produce a self-driving car — or "autopilot" technology, as he prefers to call it. But he didn't set a timeline the way Nissan had by announcing it would have an autonomous car on the market by 2020.

In a recent interview with the Japanese media outlet Nikkei Asian Review, Musk revealed that Tesla is developing its own self-driving technology, and he also gave a firmer deadline for when it will arrive: in about three years.


This also coincides with the scheduled launch of Tesla's lowest-priced model to date, the Model 3 sedan, which is aimed at mainstream car buyers with a sticker starting at around $35,000 and a range of at least 200 miles on a single charge.


Musk said he still believes that "full auto-pilot capability is going to happen, probably, in the five- or six-year time frame." So, reading the Tesla tea leaves, it appears that Tesla will first introduce a semi-autonomous-driving technology like GM's Super Cruise for the 2017 Cadillac CTS that was announced last week.


As with other aspects of Tesla's vehicle development programs, the EV-only automaker won't go it alone. "The overall system and software will be programmed by Tesla, but we will certainly use sensors and subcomponents from many companies," Musk said.


And while Model 3 may be the first Tesla with semi-autonomous technology, it won't be the last, especially with Model S owners asking for more driver assist technologies. "I think in the long term, all Tesla cars will have auto-pilot capability," Musk added.

[Source: Nikkei Asian Review]


Automaker will rely on Apple's CarPlay and Google's Android Auto instead of its own AppShop.

By Douglas Newcomb Tue 8:56 AM

In what could become a win for Google and Apple, General Motors is drastically curtailing its new AppShop designed to provide in-dash Internet applications for upcoming cars. GM instead will have drivers access apps through the upcoming Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto smartphone platforms it plans to integrate into its future vehicles.

According to the tech blog Gigaom, GM's leading connected-car executive, Mary Chan, confirmed the significant shift in strategy at the CTIA Wireless Conference this week in Las Vegas. The Chevy AppShop, launched in January at the Consumer Electronics Show, was scheduled to deliver apps such as iHeartRadio, NPR, The Weather Channel, Glympe and others into the GM brand's vehicles.

But Chan told Gigaom that future app development that isn't directly related to core car functions will be handled by the upcoming Apple and Google platforms. “Those types of applications are great applications to be brought into the car with the smartphone,” Chan said. “The types of apps we want to focus on are the ones that require a much deeper integration with the vehicle.”


Unanimous vote gives Tesla right to sell.

By AutoWeek Tue 8:34 AM

Massachusetts’ highest court on Monday threw out a lawsuit seeking to block Tesla Motors Inc. from selling its luxury electric cars directly to consumers in the state, enabling it to bypass traditional dealerships.

The state’s Supreme Judicial Court unanimously concluded that the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association and two dealers lacked standing to block direct Tesla sales under a state law designed to protect franchise owners from abuses by car manufacturers.

Justice Margot Botsford wrote that the law was aimed at protecting dealers from unfair practices of manufacturers and distributors “with which they are associated, generally in a franchise relationship,” rather than unaffiliated manufacturers.


NHTSA chief calls for car companies to 'move forward aggressively on cybersecurity.'

By Douglas Newcomb Mon 12:31 PM

Image by BattelleWith car connectivity accelerating and the federal government looking to mandate wireless networks of roads and vehicles, the nation's top auto safety regulator said  “the time is now" to "move forward aggressively on cybersecurity." Specifically, David Friedman, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,  called on automakers to become more collaborative in fighting car hacking.

“Certain things about safety should not be at all about competitive advantage,” Friedman said at the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) World Congress last week, according to the Detroit Free Press. “I think cybersecurity is one of those perfect examples where sharing information will ensure that everyone is better off.”

Last year after sensational headlines on car hacking caught the public's attention, various branches of the federal government called attention to the threat. Former NHTSA director David Strickland said at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing in May 2013 that the agency didn’t “want to be behind the eight ball” on car security.


Idaho ranks first since it has 'a dichotomy of drivers' that either go too fast or too slow.

By Douglas Newcomb Mon 10:36 AM

Graphic by Insure.comWhich state has the rudest drivers? That's the question Insure.com posed to 2,000 drivers nationwide.

The survey was made up of half women and half men, and respondents represented all 50 states in line with census population data. The state rankings were then calculated using a ratio of the nationwide votes for drivers from a particular state divided by the number of respondents from that state.

Claiming the dubious distinction of having the rudest drivers of any state, at least according to this survey, is Idaho. A state that doesn't have any large metropolitan areas -- hence not a lot of traffic -- may seem like a surprise.

"The roadways of Idaho present a dichotomy of drivers: Those who are moving so slowly that they’re judged to be rude, and the aggressive drivers who speed around them and flip them off," the website said. Insure.com quoted lead-footed Idahoan Matt Stubbs as pointing to the slowpokes in the state as the rude ones “taking their time, driving 5 to 10 miles an hour under the limit.”

Next on the list was the place where politics -- and sometimes driving -- is a contact sport: Washington, D.C.


Project will encompass network of cameras and sensors along 120 miles of freeways.

By Douglas Newcomb Sep 11, 2014 5:24AM

Image by NHTSADetroit helped transform transportation 100 years ago when cars that the city began cranking out took to the nation's roads. A century later, drivers are dealing with the consequence of that popularity in the form of traffic jams, accidents and air pollution. Now the Detroit area wants to be on the cutting-edge of solving these problems.

A public-corporate partnership announced this week at the 2014 Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress in Detroit by the Michigan Department of Transportation, the University of Michigan, General Motors and Ford plans to string a network of cameras and sensors along 120 miles of freeways in the metro Detroit area. This vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) network will allow cars to communicate with traffic infrastructure such as stoplights, and it expands a recent large-scale vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication field trial undertaken by U of M, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and others in neighboring Ann Arbor.

And is making the Detroit area the hotbed of innovation in connected vehicle research and deployment.



  • Cliff Atiyeh

    Clifford Atiyeh has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own. Raised in Volvos, he has grown to love fast, irresponsible vehicles of all kinds. He is the senior news editor at MSN Autos and also reports for Car and Driver, Road & Track, The Boston Globe and other publications.
    In the garage: 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (not his)

  • Doug Newcomb

    Doug Newcomb has covered car technology for over 20 years for outlets ranging from Rolling Stone to Edmunds.com. In 2008, he published his first book, "Car Audio for Dummies" (Wiley). He lives and drives in Hood River, Ore., with his wife and two kids, who share his passion for cars and technology.
    In the garage: 1996 Chevrolet Impala SS, two 1984 Chevrolet Blazers, 2008 Honda CR-V

  • James Tate

    James Tate learned to drive stick at age 13 in a 1988 Land Cruiser - in La Paz, Bolivia. He's since been a mechanic, on a pit crew and has wrenched on every car he's owned since his first 1989 Honda CRX Si (and won't stop until the car is a 1973 Porsche 911 RS). His work has appeared in Car and Driver, Popular Mechanics, Automobile and others.
    In the garage: 1995 Porsche 911 Carrera, 1988 BMW M5

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