A Beginner’s Guide to Digital Instrumentation

Courtesy Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz Head-Up Display

Chances are, anyone reading this post learned to drive a car with some sort of traditional gauge setup. Speedometer, tachometer, engine temperature, gas level, maybe a warning that someone needs to fasten their seatbelt. But is it possible the near future will leave such an interior feeling old-fashioned, obsolete, better suited for classic cars and car shows? We all know how fondly our zealously up-to-date culture likes to deride (or sometimes obsess over) old technological “breakthroughs” like cassette tapes or first-generation iPods, computing devices that look and feel like bricks in comparison to the sleek devices of today. With their growing computing power and ever-more-sophisticated interiors, why would cars be exempt from this double-time march of progress?

Surely we’ve seen this coming. Nothing moves as quickly as technology or has quite the same way of spreading across all parts of a particular product or experience. We have our award-winning infotainment systems; how long could it have been before some of the operating philosophy behind fighter-jet cockpits or the crisp graphics and formidable computing power of smartphones began showing up right in front of drivers’ noses? Not long, apparently: just take a look at the new display setups appearing in consumer vehicles, from the head-up displays (yes, like fighter jets, sort of) to fully computerized dashboards. But if you haven’t necessarily been keeping an enthusiast’s eye on the automotive market, you might not quite know what these new features are all about. They are, after all, still pretty new. So here’s a quick rundown of a few of the more important (or common) among them.

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After 10 Years of Waiting, Here’s the Tesla Model 3

Tesla_Model_3

Last night may be remembered as the night cars and technology officially became one.

In the hours leading up to Tesla’s unveiling of the Model 3, CEO Elon Musk sent out a series of Tweets saying that online orders would be opened up an hour before the unveiling event kicked off. The company also announced via Twitter that orders would be welcomed from India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Slovokia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Ireland, in addition to the United States, but that a 2 car-per-household limit would be in effect.

It sounds more like a tech unveiling than an auto event, but the hype evidently worked. As of last night, more than 133,000 people put down at least $1,000 each to reserve a car.

But enough about that. This is the car that’s been hyped for about a decade and could change EVs as we know them.

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Day Two at the Javits Center: The New York International Auto Show

Honda Civic Hatchback Concept

Day Two began with the World Car Awards. Backed by a surprisingly loud, club-ish soundtrack and some odd song choices (maybe intended to help attendees wake up after a very long Day One?), the Toyota Mirai fuel-cell vehicle got the World Green Car Award, the Audi R8 Coupe took the World Performance Car Award, and the BMW 7 Series won the World Luxury Car Award. Mazda managed to take two trophies, as 2016 World Car Design of the Year and World Car of the Year, with its MX-5 Miata, and having driven the car ourselves, we heartily applaud the WCA jurors’ decision.

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10 Kinds of Cars We’d Buy to Share

A Ford van empties at school

With the exception of a home, a car is the most expensive purchase a person will likely make (and we hope that home and car aren’t the same thing). Considering the improvements in safety, powertrain, and infotainment technologies, it’s not surprising to see vehicle prices rising at or above the rate of inflation. So, with the fiscal scope of a vehicle purchase firmly in mind, we have to ask: why don’t more people share cars? We posted an earlier article about the prevalence of ride-sharing services and their impact on consumer purchasing trends. While Uber and Zipcar have certainly given drivers more ways to get around, car ownership still seems to be the clearest path to unlocking the flexibility and freedom that a set of wheels can provide.

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10 Model Lineups with Huge Price Ranges

2016 Lamborghini Aventador

Everyone’s had that moment, while looking for a new car, when they ask themselves, “What’s the least I can spend on a new Dodge Charger?” Well, you’ll find the answer is in the $30k area for your everyday Charger SE, but then you may notice that next to that SE is the $70k Charger SRT Hellcat. That’s right, you can get two basic Chargers for the price of a single Hellcat. Granted, the Hellcat engine transforms the Charger into a completely different animal, but the Charger isn’t even close to the most egregious example of price disparity within a single model’s lineup.

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NHTSA Administrator Talks Autonomous Driving

MIT Transportation Event

Remember all the recall-related headlines of the past two years? Those manufacturer errors account for only about 2% of deaths on the road. Conversely, 94% of lives lost in motor-vehicle accidents are due to human error. These are startling numbers, which lead to sobering realizations. Back in 1970, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was formed to study our highways and roads in an effort to minimize the risks associated with driving. As technology has advanced, this administration’s scope and responsibilities have advanced as well. Dr. Mark Rosekind, the current NHTSA Administrator, spoke with Bryan Reimer, of the New England University Transportation Center and MIT’s AgeLab, regarding the NHTSA’s role in the current and future state of autonomous driving technology.

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Tesla Prepares for Ludicrous Speed

Prepare ship for Ludicrous Speed!

Prepare ship for Ludicrous Speed!

I wish I could call up my best friend from high school and tell him that Ludicrous Speed is real.

We spent a good portion of our teenage years in front of a television watching the Mel Brooks classic comedy Spaceballs.

In it, Rick Moranis plays the villain Dark Helmet and needs to chase after the good guys. He doesn’t think light speed will be fast enough, so he skips it, passing over the next-fastest Ridiculous speed and heading straight to Ludicrous speed.

Naturally, hilarity ensues.

Now we have news that Tesla, the same folks responsible for bringing us Insane Mode on the Model S P85D, will create its own version of Ludicrous speed.

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You Could Be Closer Than You Think to Driving an Electric Car

Tesla Model X Falcon doors

Let’s take a few minutes to talk about Tesla, because things at the electric automaker are about to get seriously supercharged.

Bad puns aside, electric cars are becoming more accepted in the U.S. and around the world, and Tesla is a big reason why.

With immediate plans to get into the crossover and small sedan markets, the Tesla logo could soon be found in driveways across America. With at least one model priced near a loaded Honda Accord, perhaps one of those driveways could be yours.

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Owning Electric Cars Could Get Easier

Tesla Supercharger

The biggest challenge in owning an electric car is getting it recharged. Charging a battery takes a lot longer than filling a gas tank, and there are far fewer places to recharge than refuel.

For the people who use electric cars just to commute from home to work and back, recharging every night at home is enough.

For people who want to use their electric vehicles as replacements for gas-powered cars, EVs just haven’t proven useful enough to convince people to jump ship.

Elon Musk, the infamous Tesla CEO, wants to change that.

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Tesla Moves Ahead While Keeping an Eye Out for a Ghost

Fisker Karma

Tesla has reached its tipping point.

How do I know this? I can feel it. I can sense it. I credit my finely tuned sense of the automotive industry.

Well, that and I’m hearing about Tesla everywhere. In the news, in blogs, on drives with friends and coworkers, and while working in my front yard. Tesla has infiltrated the auto world, and things are looking great for the California automaker.

Unless Fisker’s rebirth poses as much of a problem as its new owner promises.

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