Report: Hyundai, Kia and U of M studying ‘highway hypnosis’

Filed under: Safety, Hyundai, Kia

Female car driver is yawning

Next up on the hot-button list of things that can kill you behind the wheel: “highway hypnosis.” That’s the zombie-like, autopilot phase you get into on a long highway drive when there isn’t much to distract you, like curves or traffic. Digging further into what it is and how to combat it, Hyundai-Kia engineers and the University of Michigan are commencing a study that will measure brainwave activity in order to track the body’s slide into highway hypnosis.

We’re not sure how much overlap this has with Mercedes-Benz’s Attention Assist, which tracks more than 70 in-car parameters to determine when you’re not focused on the road anymore. That system is billed as an alarm against fatigue, in our experience it does more than that – if you use your phone while driving, for instance, it will chirp.

They don’t know what form a warning system will take yet, but Hyundai-Kia plans to develop a method for warning drivers when they being to zone out. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were more than three thousand deaths and nearly 400,000 injuries due to distracted driving in 2011.

Hyundai, Kia and U of M studying ‘highway hypnosis’ originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 28 Aug 2013 18:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Exclusive: Mercedes-Benz studying Vito van for U.S.

Filed under: Minivan/Van, Europe, Work, Mercedes-Benz, Diesel

2011 Mercedes-Benz Vito range

2011 Mercedes-Benz Vito van range – Click above to enlarge image

Mercedes-Benz has been sufficiently pleased with the performance of its Sprinter van that it is now seriously considering importing a smaller sibling for its full-size load lugger.

Benz has offered a smaller commercial vehicle, the Vito, in various world markets since 1996, and the second-generation model underwent a mild facelift in 2010. Available with a range of CDI diesel engines in both cargo and passenger-carrying configurations, the Vito has recently been testing in all-electric E-Cell guise. If the Vito does make it to North America, we’re unlikely to get the complete range – this light commercial vehicle is available in three lengths, two roof heights and in both rear- and all-wheel drive.

While the Vito is indeed smaller than the Mercedes/Freightliner Sprinter carryall, it’s not as diminutive as the Ford Transit Connect we’ve come to know in the States. In its smallest form, the baby Benz spans 187.5 inches, nearly seven inches more than the Turkish Ford. In extra-long format, the Vito rings up at 206.2 inches, which is still well shy of the aged Ford E-Series van (216.7 inches in its shortest form), making the Vito something of a tweener in size.

For the moment, our source tells us that the idea of importing the Vito is in “an early stage,” and even though consumer clinics have been held to judge market interest, the van has not yet been given the green light.

Mercedes-Benz studying Vito van for U.S. originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 23 May 2011 16:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: GM studying how to double or triple Chevy Volt production

Filed under: Hybrid, Plants/Manufacturing, Hatchback, Chevrolet, GM, Electric

Early Volts reportedly cost $40,000 to build

Chevrolet Volt battery pack – Click above for high-res image gallery

How’s your math? If you have 240,000 “potential buyers” but only 10,000 vehicles to sell them in the first year, what can you do? If you’re General Motos and the item in question is the Chevrolet Volt, then you look for ways to seriously increase the number of Volts you can build (and, of course, sell).

That’s exactly what CEO Dan Akerson says his company is trying to do, looking to double or triple production rates of this very important car. The problem, according to GM North America President Mark Reuss, is the bottleneck created by the limited number of battery cells that vendor LG Chem can produce for GM. The current plan is to make around 10,000 in 2011 and 45,000 in 2012. That 2012 number has already been increased from 30,000.

Upping the production numbers is good for GM for another reason. According to Steven Rattner, who was President Obama’s former auto bailout chief and worked intimately with GM, “At least in the early years, each Volt would cost around $40,000 to manufacture (development costs not included).” GM won’t confirm this number, but increased production will get the company, presumably, better economies of scale and thus lower production costs.

Gallery: 2011 Chevrolet Volt battery pack

[Sources: The New York Times, Automotive News – sub. req.]

Report: GM studying how to double or triple Chevy Volt production originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 01 Dec 2010 14:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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