Archive for the ‘Holly’s World’ Category
By HOLLY REICH
Special to Bumper to Bumper
In 2007, the first smart electric drive pilot project used 100 cars that were tested in downtown London. It was the perfect place to try out this miniature vehicle. London has tons of traffic, limited parking, lots of noise and pollution. The pilot cars were equipped with high-temperature sodium-nickel-chloride batteries that work at about 600°F degrees, providing a range of about 60 miles. The batteries required pre-heating, and were housed in insulated cases similar to large double-wall thermos bottles.
The next generation, which started in 2009, expanded to 2,000 cars in 18 markets around the world. That included 250 electric drive vehicles for the United States. These cars used lithium-ion batteries, which were more efficient and operated at normal temperatures, with a range of about 63 miles on a full charge.
For 2013 the game has changed—considerably! While the smart has stayed the same size and shape (five feet tall and wide and a smidgen under nine feet long) the view has improved. The coupe has an expansive panoramic see-through panel of high-strength polycarbonate; the cabriolet has an automatic soft top that can be opened to any position and at any speed. Plus, the cabriolet has a heated glass rear window.
The third generation smart electric drive’s 55-kilowatt electric motor provides 35 kilowatts of continuous power (130 Nm of torque). Essentially, it boils down to this: the power provides acceleration from zero to 60 mph in less than 12 seconds, and a top speed of more than 78 mph. In other words it zooms…but quietly!
And charging is a no-brainer. The electric smart can be charged from any 110-volt household wall socket with the provided standard cable or a 240-volt socket (like the ones used for electric clothes dryers and kitchen ranges). Charging time can run as little as 3 ½ hours to charge from 20 to 80 percent and six hours to reach full charge from a depleted battery.
As for the cabin, because of its impressive headroom, sloping windshield, floating dash and open roof, even people well over six feet don’t feel cramped. Yes, it’s true! I drove with a tall Texan a few years back and he fit just fine.
There’s an offering of over 6,000 combos for customizing the smart with everything from personalized wraps and brilliant paint choices to AMG cladding or bespoke tailored interiors.
As to be expected, the smart electric drive is techno savvy. The vehicle can communicate with the smart vehicle homepage whenever the car is being charged. Real-time data provides information to owners about usage patterns, power draw and vehicle performance.
There is also a smart phone app that gives the user charging information, charge time remaining and expected completion time. When you are driving, the app’s map also highlights nearby charging connections with estimated distance.
Mercedes-Benz took over smart in July of 2011 and has added new muscle to the marketing campaigns. Expect to see more quirky ads on everything from twitter to TV. More importantly, it’s working. Tracey Matura, smart General Manager, explained, “The company has been riding high since last year. Sales have increased 120% month over month, and 95% year to date.”
And as for those rumors of a smartforfour? Matura quipped, “Stay tuned!”
PRICING: The 2013 smart electric drive will retail at $25,000. The cabriolet model will retail at $28,000 when both vehicles hit the U.S. market in the spring of 2013.
Customers may also be eligible for federal tax credits (which run up to $7,500) or state/local tax credits, further reducing the cost. Plus, some states offer a 50% parking discount.
~ holly reich
By HOLLY REICH
Special to Bumper to Bumper
I have attended several of Volvo’s Midsommar Drives. They happen around the time of the summer solstice (in mid-July) in places that are as enchanting as Sweden. This year the Midsommar celebration and the launch of the 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, was held in Park City, Utah. Our 209-mile round trip test drive took us to Evanston, Wyoming over varying terrains that included highway, open plains with wide turns and stretches of open road, high altitude passes and small towns. In other words—a virtual paradise for an automotive journalist.
We stayed at the majestic Stein Erikson Lodge, a 30-year-old Forbes Five Star resort located at Deer Valley Resort (altitude 8,200 feet). It is a few minutes from Park City, Utah, an eclectic and well-heeled enclave where you will find funky second-hand shops, an abundance of outdoor cafes and cowboy stores with engraved boots costing upwards of $1,000.
The area is known for year-round perfect weather outdoor sports and the acclaimed Sundance Film Festival. Park City also hosted the Winter Olympics in 2002, and the remaining Olympic Park is a training center for Olympic athletes as well as a play ground for visitors who want to experience a multi-tude of extreme sports including zip-lining, luge and trick skiing.
THE S60 T5 AWD
The Volvo S60 is the company’s volume leader, and this is the first time that the company is offering up their AWD on its lower priced model. The 2013 S60 small sedan is going into its third year, and the optional AWD is a feature that customers have been asking for. The 5th generation Haldex AWD is also smaller in size and lighter by five pounds, adding to better fuel economy at 29 mpg on the highway. Along with that, Volvo added in two more inches of rear seat legroom and made City Safety a standard. City Safety, which made its debut on the Volvo XC60, is a driver support system that helps prevent a collision with a vehicle ahead.
Proclaimed the “Volvo with an attitude,” the four-door coupe has a slim roofline and sculpted shoulders with LED lighting technology that creates distinctive light streams in the front and the rear.
At the heart of the S60 T5 is a 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine. In addition to faster gear changes in sport mode, the acceleration from 0-60 mph has decreased from 6.8 seconds to 6.4 seconds. Other standards include: rain sensor windshield wipers, headlight washers, dual polished exhaust pipes and an abundance of safety features that are the hallmark of Volvo’s history.
Corner Traction Control by Torque Vectoring is a technology that helps improve handling by redistributing torque to the outer wheel to help steer the car around a turn. This feature operates on the front wheels for the S60 T5 and both the front and rear wheels for the S60 T6 AWD.
Another driver assistance system that debuted on the S60 is the optional Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake. Volvo’s radar- and camera-based system can detect pedestrians in front of the car, warn the driver if anyone walks out into its path and then automatically activate the S60′s full braking power if the driver fails to respond in time. The system can avoid a collision at speeds up to 22 mph. But overall, what we respect about the quintessentially Swedish Volvo is its refined simplicity. On the interior, there is a sense of airiness but not business. A floating center stack that houses the controls has a pass through behind it that holds everything from cell phones to purses. The seats, designed like Swedish furniture–functional yet beautifully simple–are molded to fit your back.
Midsommar is the Scandinavian festival held each summer as a celebration of life, passion, good fortune and the summer solstice.
The Swedish celebration of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, is an event celebrated since pagan times. In a northern land where the sun barely rises during the dark snowy winter, summer is a season to celebrate the sun, sing and dance, eat local foods and knock back shots of aquavit (a distilled liquor flavored with spices such as dill, cardamom, fennel and caraway).
In Volvo tradition, we sat at a long table decorated with flowers and were served family-style with platters of herring with mustard sauce, strong cheeses, potatoes with butter and dill, shrimp salad, heaps of brown bread, strawberries with freshly whipped cream and bowlfuls of meatballs and fresh salmon.
One of our favorite ways to test a car a car is to drive it in variety of scenes. The S60 T5 took to high altitudes with gusto, maneuvered like butter in the city, was able to hold lots of gear in its ample trunk and was smooth and compliant on the highways. Truthfully, this new Volvo delivered more than we expected. We think that the addition of AWD will seduce potential buyers.
PRICING: All-Wheel Drive with Instant Traction can be added to any S60 T5 as a stand-alone $2,000 option.
Don’t fret age spots and frown lines. Instead of going under the knife, take that money and buy a new car. It’s less invasive and loads more fun!
Shiny New Wheels, Shiny New Outlook
In the book, “The Five Minute Facelift: A Daily Program for a Beautiful, Wrinkle-Free Face,” there are 21 exercises designed to strengthen the muscles around your throat, mouth, eyes, eyebrows and forehead. That’s one way to plump up your look.
Then again, one can always indulge in a pair of shoes like Carrie Bradshaw did on “Sex and the City.” Manolo’s worked miracles for her. But, when you’re talking facelift, it’s often something along the lines of tucks, lifts, injections, silicon, laser, dermabrasion or…whatever.
But honestly, as long as you’re going all out, why not buy a new car? Nothing can pump up your looks like a brand new shiny piece of metal or aluminum that fits the proportions of your personality.
We picked six new luxury vehicles that run the gamut from sedan to SUV. Driving these head turners made us feel younger, happier, more energetic and beautiful. We realize that not everybody can spin for the latest model but a girl can dream, right?
2013 LX570 5 DR SUV
First of all, this SUV has room for seven. In other words, it will go to Costco, tow your speedboat and heft your brood of kids…in fine style. Step up to the illuminated running board that leads into a leather and wood trimmed cabin with that calm Lexus interior that speaks good taste. For the back seat there’s dual-screen rear seat entertainment. For the driver—expect plenty of oomph behind the hefty V8 engine with 383-hp. and 403 lb.-ft. of torque. We’re talking big, brawny and beautiful.
Priced from $80,930
2013 Volvo S60 T6 AWD
Think Scandinavian—feminine, feisty and well designed. Volvo’s new generation sedan has AWD so that it holds up in any weather. Plus, it kicks it up mountains with a turbocharged engine that sips 18 mpg in the city and 25 on the highway. Yes, you are a competent Mom and value the safety that Volvo stand for. However, even the guys at Motor Trend say that that the Volvo S60 “looks damn sexy.” Of course we care about that. To note, this Volvo looks good coming and going. The back end sprouts dual polished exhaust pipes.
Priced from $42,950.
2012 Jaguar XJ Supersport
OMG, this sedan moves like silk and feels like money. A quiet cabin, lit with pools of phosphorescent blue light, has stitched leather seats, touches of carbon fiber and a vast glass roof. With the JaguarDriveSelector (a knob that rises up when you start the engine) one chooses the drive function by rotating the control with fingertips. (BTW, the inspiration for the rotating button was the grip on a Leica camera lens.) The 510 hp supercharged V8 kicks 0-60 in 4.7 seconds and tops out at 174 miles per hour. Our test model added in a luscious purple felt lined glove box and center console.
Priced from $111,200.
2013 Infiniti G37 Convertible
What a surprise! This is the vehicle that racecar enthusiasts buy for the fun of it. Talk about turning heads! This convertible is all about slim lines—even the three-piece retractable hard top is seamless. A Bose adaptive audio system automatically adjusts when the top is down so you can sing along to your favorites. The cabin is embellished with silk aluminum or maple trim. We liked the Pacific Sky Light Blue with a wheat leather and maple interior. Anchored by a V6 325 horsepower engine, this convertible kept us way ahead of the pack.
Priced from $47,200
2012 Range Rover Evoque
BAM! This is the smallest, lightest, most fuel efficient Range Rover ever produced and it comes in a coupe or five-door. All we can say is, whether you plan to ford wide streams or just tool around the city, the turbo-charged Evoque is adorable, quick on its feet and made us feel like a kid again. We loved the panoramic glass roof! The Evoque can be ordered up in standout colors including Colima Lime Metallic, Havana Metallic (brown) and Mauritius Metallic (Blue).
Priced from $43,995
2013 Cadillac XTS
This new sedan looks like it just came off the drawing board of the future. Cadillac’s newest incarnation breathes seduction with satin chrome exterior appointments, 20-inch aluminum wheels, illuminated door handles and sharp lines. The cabin has a choice of interior colors that range from caramel to light platinum with wood trim and leather seats. Sound comes from a 14-speaker Bose surround system and a heads-up display appears in color on the windshield. When you order an XTS, you get an iPad to learn about how to use CUE. That’s Cadillac’s touch-screen entertainment/navigation system that has all kinds of whizz technology.
Priced from $44,075
~ Holly Reich
As seen in VroomGirls.com
“Gratitude helps you to grow and expand; gratitude brings joy and laughter into your life and into the lives of all those around you.”
Eileen Caddy – Scottish writer and spiritual leader
By HOLLY REICH
For the launch of five 2013 Audi vehicles in Colorado this past June, journalists received iPads before the event. This wasn’t a gift for the sake of turning our heads. The iPads were loaded with the visual presentation and the press kits for the Audi A4, S4, A5, S5 and allroad.
Considering that these days communication is all about technology, this was in par with Audi’s progressive initiative. As one of the team members explained to me, information for future launches could be sent to our iPads instead of loading us down with huge press kits or miniature thumb drives.
These days, it’s almost a blemish on an auto company if they don’t incorporate iPad or iPhone technology into their cars. For example, the Mercedes-Benz M-Class offers a backseat iPad dock that rotates 90 degrees and tilts for optimal screen viewing. The 2013 Cadillac XTS is giving away an iPad with each purchase that explains the technology of their CUE interactive system. Most new cars can have seamless iPhone interaction.
We were interested to know about Audi’s “Story of Progress” (the name of the event), so we asked Loren Angelo, General Manager of Marketing Strategies to elaborate.
What’s Audi’s connection with the iPad?
“Advanced technology has always been at the heart of the Audi DNA. As a tech-forward brand, we’re constantly in pursuit of new, more efficient solutions both on and off the road. We know that potential buyers own smartphones, and as such, we’re taking advantage of the opportunity to reach those potential customers where they are by making mobile a priority, ensuring that Web sites are compatible with mobile, designing apps and incorporating ads within existing platforms. We have integrated iPads into our showrooms and industry events and have several interactive iPad applications – available for download in the iTunes App Store – designed to help customers easily find rich content in a convenient and entertaining way. For us, the iPad is the most relevant and fresh way to deliver information currently.”
Any new marketing initiatives for 2012/2013?
(Audi has offered up some remarkable advertising initiatives in the last couple of years. For the 2011 Super Bowl, Audi featured the A8 sedan in the spot, ‘Release the Hounds,’ which followed two inmates as they attempted to break out of a luxury prison with background music by sax man Kenny G.)
“We just launched a new ad campaign, A4 ‘Chirp.’ With the momentum of the Audi brand and the selection by A4 owners as top in initial quality, it’s a testament to the success of the brand and a reference to the all new lineup of B-segment vehicles coming to the market. With the introduction of the new RS 5 and S6, S7 and S8 coming in these next few weeks, Audi will be establishing a strong marketing campaign to announce the progressive performance solutions that are engineered for the driver. The new S Models will be a brand priority for the remainder of 2012 and 2013. Be sure to be on the lookout for new marketing initiatives.”
Any interesting partnerships?
Ducati brings some charisma and pizzazz to the company. North America is Ducati’s largest market. At the beginning of July 2012, Ducati set a new record for North American sales, with 10,094 units sold over the past 12 months and reported a 26-percent Q2 gain over the same period in 2011.
Any styling changes that you think will appeal to a younger audience?
“For 2013, Audi has refreshed its B Segment models, including the A4/S4, A5/S5 and allroad. Several changes to the exteriors and interiors give the vehicles a more sporty, aggressive and youthful look (for a younger and more affluent buyer). These changes include: sharper lines along the sides and down the hoods, wider front air intakes and shoulder lines, more prominent grilles and wheels and reshaped LED headlights that glow with more shine and intensity.”
The 2013 Audi has updated interior appointments using stainless steel mesh inlays with Piano Black finishes, new touches of chrome, and revised seat and steering wheel shapes. And a trend that’s way overdue: Audi cabins are merging color concepts. For example, Audi is pairing a beige seat with a brown dash and employing more luxurious appointments like layered oak finishes. Audi Connect, the third infotainment update, has direct access to a Google map database and viewing abilities that make it possible to navigate around the vehicle and down side streets.
The company is planning strategies for growth by keeping a high loyalty and premium image with consistent marketing, expanding its portfolio, stabalizing incentives and focusing on customer experience.
Audi’s strategy is working. In a recent J.D. Power and Associates APEAL study, the 2012 Audi A8 received the award for the Most Appealing Larger Premium Car and the overall best performing model. The 2012 Audi A6 received the Most Appealing Midsize Premium Car.
With the allroad returning for the first time since 2005, Audi is going to be gaining some new footage in the crossover market. I won’t say to stay tuned. Audi knows how to keep its audience involved. However, I will say this: watch where Audi goes next.
~ Focus Daily News
By HOLLY REICH
Special to Bumper to Bumper
When you buy the 2013 Cadillac XTS, you are given an iPad along with your purchase. Considering the starting price for an XTS is $44,075 and rises to $60,385 for the fully loaded AWD Platinum and The new iPad starts at $499, it seems like no big deal, right? But, we all love technology. And Cadillac’s technology echoes that of The new iPad which, like the XTS, strives to be striking, user-friendly, intuitive and strikingly simplistic.
At a recent launch I attended, Jeanne Merchant, the GM Vehicle Line Executive, who has been with the XTS from the beginning, explained that the vehicle inspired by Cadillac Platinum Concept car, is the most technically advanced Cadillac to date. She pointed out the 360 degrees of dramatic lighting punched by warmly illuminated door handles. The new XTS is pared down, sleek and luminescent on the outside. It’s what’s underneath the skin that is truly interesting.
For example, a “safety seat,” comprised of motors planted on both sides of the driver’s seat, gives your hips a non-intrusive thump if you veer into another lane. Available Adaptive Forward Lighting uses sensors to determine vehicle speed and steering. It swivels the headlamps to shine the light into your path of travel and the available head-up display shows color (not black and white) images. Other details include a hearty direct inject 3.6L V-6 engine, a fast-acting suspension known as Magnetic Ride Control and a mpg of 17/27; 17/28.
In the cabin, which is adorned in natural woods and leathers, ambient lighting changes from daytime to night hues and the available sunroof, about the size of a 48-inch flat-panel television, spans both rows of seats. A specially designed XTS 14-speaker Bose Studio Surround Sound system has personal speakers on the top of each front seat. And oh yes, the trunk can hold up to five suitcases.
But for the 2013 Cadillac XTS to compete with the Audi A6, Mercedes-Benz E Class and BMW 5 series, the company needed to offer something completely new. CUE interactive technology is just that. CUE, which stands for Cadillac User Experience, is a standard eight inch screen in the center stack, with steering wheel controls, touch control with proximity sensing, gesture recognition and natural voice recognition. Using the CUE is similar to using an iPad.
And thus, the iPad giveaway with each buy. Jim Vurpillat, Cadillac’s Director of Global Marketing, noted, “It has a two-fold purpose; First, it provides our dealers with an opportunity to exceed customers’ expectations at the time of the delivery. However, the best reason to include an iPad with the XTS is that it allows customers to have an easy way to access information about CUE and their vehicle and also familiarize themselves with touch technology and gesture based controls.
“Designers and engineers spent a tremendous amount of time with customers — even as far as going on vacation with them — to determine exactly what people wanted from their in-vehicle experience.
“We appeal to luxury buyers; but the beauty of CUE is that it’s as technically sophisticated as you want it to be and it’s also as simple and intuitive to use as you need it to be,” he explained.
CUE is similar to other systems in that it offers voice recognition technology to help you place a call.
Then again CUE employs Zen-like features (similar to the iPad) like using your fingers to zoom into a map or swiping your hand across the music list to change tunes. This is known as the haptic or touch component.
“This is an automotive industry first,” explained Jeff Massimilla, CUE Engineer. “Other manufacturers use sound (system beeps) to provide feedback to the user which is noticeable by all occupants in the vehicle. Haptic Feedback is a pulse you feel on your finger when the system recognizes and is responding to your touch on either the touch screen or any of the touch sensitive controls located below the touch screen.”
In other words, when you touch an active area on the screen it vibrates to give you a physical cue.
As car technology develops into the senses, imagine where it can go next. Want your car to smell like a spa or a crisp set of clean sheets? Or turn your engine sound into a growling Ferrari or a purring Jaguar? Stay tuned. Technologies like this are coming sooner than you can dream them up.
As featured in Focus Daily News
Elite Traveler July/August
Toyota Gives Away Cars: Check this out if you know a non-profit!
This much is true: the fifth generation 2013 Nissan Altima is the automaker’s biggest seller. Since its introduction in 1993, the sedan has racked up 4.4 million in sales. It is also interesting to note that the Altima claims an equal number of male and female buyers.
This year, the 2013 Altima sedan is poised to play its best game yet. The vehicle, assembled in Tennessee, has a collection of world first technologies and gets a competitive 38 miles per gallon on the highway.
The following innovations on the 2013 Altima are noteworthy:
Instrument cluster display: Nissan integrated a 4 inch color screen in the instrument cluster as a safe way to display information. Without taking his or her eyes off the road, the driver can get alerts for voice-controlled text messages, Pandora, blind spot warnings, tire pressure warnings, lane departure warnings and moving object detection.
“Easy-Fill Tire Alert” system: A recently released federal study shows driving on under-inflated tires triples the risk of an accident. The U.S. Department of Energy states that drivers can improve gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent by keeping tires inflated to the proper pressure. Additionally, auto care professionals say that from one tire gauge to another there can be a three or four pound difference in air pressure readings. Nissan has taken a step forward in tire gauge technology.
How it works: the vehicle’s tire-pressure warning system alerts a driver to a low tire by displaying the current pressure of the tire (or tires) that requires attention on the dashboard display. Once alerted, drivers should stop at the nearest gas station to fill the tire with an available air hose. Once air begins flowing into the tire, the vehicle’s four-way flashers come on to confirm the process has started. When the tire hits the correct pressure level, the horn chirps to let the driver know the tire is properly inflated. If the driver continues to fill the tire with air, the horn honks more aggressively and the tire deflates to the appropriate operating level.
NASA Inspired “Zero-Gravity” Seats: Nissan looked to seating and posture research from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for reducing road fatigue. According to NASA, the least fatiguing seats are those that come closest to a “neutral posture” – a relaxed position that the human body takes in a weightless environment.
The ventilated “zero-gravity” seats provide continuous support from the pelvis to the chest, help reduce muscular and spinal weight and improve blood flow to relieve fatigue from long drives.
Advanced Wiper System: The available Enhanced Auto Headlights feature a two-stage automatic function. In lower light situations during the day, the headlights illuminate, but the gauges remain in daylight mode. In late evening/night conditions, the headlights illuminate and the gauges change to nighttime lighting. Another no brainer that helps the driver: the headlights automatically turn on when the windshield wipers are actived (after four passes) since many states now require the headlights to be illuminated in rainy conditions.
Remote Start System: Instead of being a separate piece of hardware, the remote start is integrated into the key fob. Standard on SV trim and up, the start system has a 195 foot range and uses a 10 min cycle time + 10 min extension.
Rear View Camera: Located in the license plate mounting area, the rear view camera uses a single wide-angle lens that is synced to a computer system. The camera can simultaneously view the back, front and side of the vehicle.
The Blind Spot Warning System uses the rearview camera to scan blind spots and alerts the driver with audible and visual indicators. In the same way, the Lane Departure Warning system uses the rearview camera to monitor lane markings and alert the driver if the vehicle crosses these markers.?When the rearview camera is in use while the car is backing up, Moving Object Detection identifies vehicles or pedestrians and warns the driver with visual cues.
For example, if you are parallel parking, the camera has moving guides to get you into tight spots. At a busy shopping center, the camera can give you a 180-degree view side-to-side. When getting on a freeway, A-pillar mounted light indicators, along with audible beeps, let you know if there’s another vehicle in your blind spot.
Back-up Camera Washer and Dryer: So, what happens if your rear view camera gets fogged from dirt or rain? If the computer determines the camera can’t see properly, it operates a windshield washer that sprays fluid onto the lens. A mini-compressor blows air to dry the lens and clear off debris and cleaning fluid.
~ HOLLY REICH
As seen in Focus Daily News