Global Car News


With more Americans owning multiple electronic devices, Ford moves to increase storage space inside its vehicles
Ford is using the findings of the Pew Research Center—which claims that about one in three Americans now owns a smartphone, a computer and a tablet—to help redesign the interior of its vehicles, particularly where it concerns storage space. According to said study, the figure represents a 140% increase in gadget ownership among Americans in the last three years.

The study adds that among US adults, 68% now have a smartphone, up from just 35% in 2011. Meanwhile, tablet ownership has gone up from 3% to 45% over the same period. It doesn’t end there: Some 14% own a portable gaming device, and around 19% have an e-book reader. Imagine all passengers of a vehicle carrying all of these devices. It can get pretty messy inside the cabin.

In response, Ford has designed the 2017 Fusion to give it 59% more storage bins and cubbyholes—perfect for gadget-loving motorists.

“To provide a four-liter increase to the main console storage area, the armrest has been lengthened about 3 inches, and a clamshell design has been incorporated for the upper compartment to make the space more accessible and user-friendly,” explained Ford in a press statement. “The revamped media bin at the front of the console, under the 8-inch touchscreen, sees the addition of a lighted USB port for increased connectivity on the forward wall. A narrow new storage slot behind it is perfect for a cellphone and other small items. The rearrangement provides room for more efficiently designed cord storage space, so cords don’t tangle, droop or snag. The new USB port allows for easier phone connection, so customers can enjoy the full functionality of Sync 3 and AppLink.”

You’re welcome, millennials.

China wanted to sell more than 700,000 green vehicles in its domestic market this year, but will likely miss target
With global warming and the depletion of fossil fuel among the main concerns facing world leaders as we march into the future, the auto industry is being asked to produce and sell more earth-friendly cars (namely, electric and hybrid vehicles). China, now the biggest automotive market in the world in terms of unit sales, understandably wants to do its share in this campaign by encouraging carmakers to go green.

Last year, a total of 331,000 green-energy cars were sold in China—an impressive number that was achieved thanks to the government’s subsidy policies favoring eco cars. Buoyed by this tally, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers set out to move more than 700,000 electric and hybrid vehicles in 2016.

Unfortunately, word has it that the target will likely be missed. In the first nine months of this year (January to September), only 289,000 green cars were snapped up in China. Some blame the “widespread cheating” in the government’s subsidy program for stunting the projected growth of green vehicle sales in the country.

Sound familiar?

Carbon fiber is nice and all, but it’s just too expensive
In the modern age of car-making, carbon fiber has been all the rage. Both strong and light, the material is now widely used not just on racing cars but also on production vehicles. German carmaker BMW has been among the firms that have turned to carbon fiber to make their cars significantly lighter and sportier.

There’s just one problem, though: Carbon fiber is also more expensive to produce, eating into the bottom line. The solution? BMW has announced it will combine the material with other lightweight stuff to cut costs.

“How much cost do I spend for a kilogram reduction in weight?” BMW board member Oliver Zipse reportedly said at the opening of a high-tech R&D facility focusing on lightweight materials. “It is not about one material. It is about the combination of materials.”

Carbon fiber is said to currently cost 16 euros per kilo, but is expected to be cheaper as its use becomes more common. And yes, it doesn’t rust.

As Hyundai Motor Group struggles with market share, top execs agree to take 10% pay cut
If you think Hyundai has become rather silent in our market, the trend is really global as the Korean carmaker (which also owns Kia) grapples with market-share and labor issues. Reports say that Hyundai has been dealing with falling market shares in both major and emerging markets, including China and home market South Korea. A recent labor strike that hurt production certainly didn’t help.

To cope with the problem, some 1,000 executives of the Hyundai Motor Group have volunteered to take a 10% pay cut, said to be the first such action within the company in seven years.

Whatever it takes to save the mothership, right?

US asks carmakers to make their vehicles safe from hackers
Remember that time a couple of dudes successfully hacked the electronics of a Jeep Cherokee and commandeered it via remote control? Scary prospect, for sure. With cars being more and more reliant on computers and electronics, it’s frightening to visualize losing control of one’s vehicle to some mischievous tech nerd.

And so the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued cyber security guidelines asking the auto industry to make cyber security a priority.

It’s about time, if you ask us. With electronic driving aids now becoming the standard instead of the option, cars will only become more and more sophisticated (but also more and more erratic). We the car owners need some kind of assurance that our next Altis won’t whisk us to a far-flung destination against our wishes.


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