For several years, I, Automoblog.net’s founder Chris Burdick and the other regular contributors of the site have been working on an award annually honour our beloved automobiles. Discouragement existed though in the reality that almost every automotive publication and even non-car media routinely issue Car of the Year awards.
Our concern was creating something that served meaning to all car enthusiasts. Attempting to steer away from Car of the Year, we have realized the Automoblog.net Not Another Car Award (NACA).
Instead of simply acknowledging one car or vehicle, The Not Another Car Award will highlight the essence of this year in automobiles.
To inaugurate Automoblog.net’s first NACA, we are looking at the car technology that has stood out in 2013:
Most Impressive New Powerplant of 2013:
Cadillac CTS Vsport LF3 Engine (Cadillac Twin Turbo)
The widespread acceptance of turbochargers has now been embraced in all vehicle categories from economy cars to luxury sedans. A new player to turbo charging, Cadillac began selling their first engine using the exhaust-derived form of forced-air induction with the ATS.
In the radical and acclaimed redesign of the Cadillac CTS for 2014, the luxury car division introduced its first twin-turbocharged production engine.
Putting some V-8 powerplants to shame, the 3.6 liter LF3 V-6 engine is rated at 420 horsepower and 430 pounds-feet of torque. The Cadillac Twin Turbo engine’s incorporation of direct injection, vacuum-actuated wastegates with electronic control valves and a friction minimizing polymer coating applied to the piston skirts come together for what could be the luxury carmaker’s most advanced powerplant since the Northstar V-8.
The supercharged LSA V-8 engine used in the Cadillac CTS-V was referenced in the development of the Cadillac Twin Turbo resulting with keen knowledge of where efficiencies can be found with the available powerplant on the 2014 CTS sedan. While producing high-performance, fuel economy for the Cadillac Twin Turbo is stated at 17 miles per gallon city and 25 miles per gallon highway.
Simple New Technology Just Realized for 2013:
HondaVAC In-Car Vacuum
Some people appreciate a spotless vehicle. For family workhorses such as crossover vehicles and minivans, self-proclaimed neat freak parents have been fighting a losing battle in keeping the cabin area clean. Taking into account the natural behaviour of children, grocery trips, home improvement and garden shop trips as well as pets, a vehicle’s interior is under constant attack. This year at the New York Auto Show, Honda introduced a new feature on the 2014 Odyssey that will equip the always on-duty soldier for clean.
The HondaVAC becomes the first in-car vacuum system to be factory-installed on a vehicle. Debuting as standard on the 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite minivan, the HondaVAC system was made possible with a partnership with Shop-Vac. Provided with attachments, the in-car HondaVAC is an integrated unit with the rear cargo area of the Odyssey ready to clean-up small messes. The HondaVAC is powered through the vehicle’s electrical system for continuous operations when the engine is running or for eight minutes when the engine is shut off.
Trendsetting Technology of 2013:
In-car touchscreen technology has already arrived. First-generation infotainment suites inside of vehicles have been slowly giving motorists and their occupants enhanced riding comfort from a single, small interactive display. MyFord Touch, Cadillac’s CUE, Kia’s UVO and Toyota’s Entune are touchscreen enabled sets allowing everything from temperature to web-based applications to be controlled within the cabin.
What has turned touchscreens into a trendsetting technology is the increased adaptation of these interfaces on lower-cost vehicles. Heading into the 2014 model year, youth-focused auto brand Scion has chosen to equip all vehicles with standard touchscreen consoles.
A technology automakers must harness, the award is also recognizing the fact many first-generation touchscreen systems in cars are dealing with bugs as well as potentially new cyber threats.
Impressive Safety First Technology of 2013:
Mercedes-Benz’s Stereo Multi-Purpose Camera
Vehicle technology has become more and more successful in replicating human senses. Increased electronic integration with acceleration, braking and even steering has allowed motorists to have a better chance than ever to avoid major accidents. Developing a comprehensive system of sensors and radar, Mercedes-Benz’s new advanced safety array utilizes intelligent algorithms to detect objects with more precision than ever before.
Introduced in the 2013 Mercedes-Benz S-Class and recently added to the E-Class for 2014, the road-sensing technology employed by the German auto company is highlighted by a Stereo Multi-Purpose Camera. Like a human being, the Stereo Multi-Purpose Camera scans the road with two eyes. Granted a three-dimensional view of the road, the camera can sense up to 50 meters ahead in a 3D perspective. The camera has a maximum viewing range of 500 meters.
Most Useless Vehicle Innovation for 2013:
Rolls-Royce Satellite Aided Transmission
While the quest for advancing technologies should never be criticized, the result may sometimes result in quirks rather than necessities. With the introduction of the Rolls-Royce Wraith in Geneva this year, the luxury performance car featured an unusual transmission attached to its 624 horsepower V12 engine.
The Rolls-Royce Wraith is acknowledged as the first vehicle produced to feature a transmission that operates on GPS data.
Called a Satellite Aided Transmission, the eight-speed automatic gearbox is shifted with predictions to geographic location and driving style. Since an eight-speed automatic is generally a smooth-shifting unit, is it necessary for a transmission to have more knowledge of the road than the driver on occasions?
Target of Technophobia for 2013:
Tesla Model S
Fire is a dangerous and frightening part of an automobile crash. With the tragic recent passing of Paul Walker due to a high-speed crash involving a fire, there is no room for complacency towards what is probably the human race’s first great tool (and manufactured threat). According to the National Fire Protection Association, there was an average of 287,000 vehicle fires per year between 2003 and 2007 in the United States. However, only a fraction of those fires result in death. It’s amazing in this world that carrying a tank full of flammable fluids in our cars is considered safe, yet carrying a battery onboard is seen as dangerous.
Over a month ago, three non-fatal fires occurring with a particular brand of electric propelled vehicle caught more than just the typical local news attention. The 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year Tesla Model S was the subject of three spectacular fires after road-going incidents.
While no automobile reacts positively to collision or damage, the Model S’s battery was damaged causing a fire. The reaction to the Tesla Model S incidents was serious with questions brought up on the safety of the vehicle (despite no serious injuries resulting from all three fires). Tesla Motor’s stock price also reacted in a way rarely seen as result for a few product failures.
Outspoken Chairman of Tesla Motors Elon Musk understandably defended his company’s product in a blog posting. In the November 18th message, Musk decried coverage of the Tesla Motor S’ fires as disproportionate to compared to gasoline-engined vehicles.
Based on the fact few non-fatal car fires become widely reported viral videos online, Elon Musk is probably onto something. Musk also reiterated that the Model S passed all set crash-testing standards. Tesla Motors has requested the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigate the probability of fires. The company has also engaged in updating their air suspension technology to minimize unusual road debris from striking the bottom of a vehicle.
Highest Achieving Autonomous Drive Vehicle of 2013:
Audi TTS Receives Nevada Driver’s License
For many of us who have earned our driving privileges, we are instantly presented with a sense of newfound freedom. These days where it appears fewer young adults put emphasis on vehicle ownership or even holding a license, technology is now becoming the new holders of driving permits.
While the Google Driverless Car has made headlines for being the first vehicle capable of autonomous drive to earn a drivers license, Audi celebrated their TTS acquiring a license in Nevada as partner with Stanford University early this year. The Audi TTS is the first vehicle with auto factory involvement to be granted permission to public roads. Arguably, with Google not producing automobiles (at least not yet), Audi’s success would be the most remarkable for consumers. The official announcement of the driverless TTS’ news coincided with the 2013 CES where Audi was showing off their piloted driving technology that allowed an A7 Sportback to park itself. Autonomously driven vehicles may eventually reach a point where it will decide it will rather not let some of us drive.
Like many of us, the specially modified Audi TTS probably looked forward to receiving its license; less forward to posing for its license picture.
Information and photo source: American Honda Motor Company, Audi AG, Chris Nagy, Daimler AG, General Motors, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, Tesla Motors, Toyota Motor Corporation