Archive for February, 2008

sQuba: Explore The Underwater

February 28, 2008
Splash. Take a swift plunge. Okay, somersaults might work as well. Swiss have invented a car that runs on land and underwater. Watch out, the car will be displayed at the Geneva Motor Show in March.

It’s called the “sQuba,” and conjures up memories of James Bond’s amphibious Lotus Esprit from “The Spy Who Loved Me.” That fictional vehicle traveled on land and, when chased by bad guys in a helicopter, plunged into the water and became an airtight submarine — complete with “torpedoes” and “depth charges.”

The concept car — which unlike Bond’s is not armed — was developed by Swiss designer Rinspeed Inc. Company CEO Frank Rinderknecht, a self-professed Bond fan, said he has been waiting 30 years to recreate the car he saw Roger Moore use to drive off of a dock. The sQuba can plow through the water at a depth of 30 feet and has electrical motors to turn the underwater screw.

You’ll have to break out the wetsuit, however. The car has an open top, meaning that the two passengers are exposed to the elements. “For safety reasons, we have built the vehicle as an open car so that the occupants can get out quickly in an emergency,” said Rinderknecht, 52.

Passengers will be able to keep breathing underwater through an integrated tank of compressed air similar to what is used in scuba diving.

The sQuba’s top speed on land is about 77 mph, but it slows down to 3 mph on the surface of the water, and 1.8 mph underwater.

Working with engineering specialists, Rinspeed removed the combustion engine from a sports car and replaced it with several electrical motors. Three are located in the rear — er, aft — with one providing propulsion on land and the other two driving the screw for underwater driving.

“We always want to do cars that are outrageous, which nobody has done before. So we thought, ’Let’s make a car dive,”’ said Rinderknecht, whose innovative company has made transparent, flying and voice-activated cars in previous attention-grabbing displays at the Geneva Auto Show.

The company calls the sQuba the first real submersible car. Unlike military amphibious vehicles, which can only drive slowly on a lakebed, the sQuba travels like a submarine — either on the surface or submerged.

[credit: MSNBC]


New Gadgets For Your Car

February 21, 2008

Today’s new cars already come with a lot of features. There are features which are designed to keep the passenger safe. There are also features which makes it easier to integrate other electronic gadgets into the car’s sound system for example.

But consumers still want more. Or some of them want more. Thus, different companies have come up with new products to make driving a whole lot better. Here are some of them I found while surfing the web:

First is the Car Camera Recorder Pro. This nifty gadget allows you to record anything that happens behind your back. That is behind your car. It is a rearview car camera which automatically starts to record once you turn on the ignition switch. It comes with a 1 GB SD memory card. This of course can be removed so you can easily transfer the recorded video into your PC or laptop.

Another cool car gadget is the PowerStation TravellerRecorder Pro. This is essentially an extension for your cigarette lighter. With this, you can charge as many as three devices simultaneously. This is really convenient for those who carry a lot of gadgets around.

The Solar Powered Digital Tire Gauge is also another cool gadget you can use. It is essential to keep your tires inflated as it helps you save on fuel. This nifty little gadget can read your tire’s pressure in bar, KPA, PSI, and kilogram per meter squared. This is equipped with an LCD screen so it is easy to read. It is also solar powered so you will at least be earth-friendly by using this.

These gadgets are really cool and I think I may buy one of those solar powered tire gauges.

Survey Shows Even Cars Deserve Affection

February 15, 2008

carFebruary 15. Just a day after Valentine’s Day. As expected, no more phone greetings, no more flowers and chocolates and other sweet gestures of expressing love. As if love is meant to be celebrated in just one day. If people can do that to their fellowmen who are sentient beings, how much more to their cars?

Well, I may be just one pessimistic soul, for according to a survey conducted by Jiffy Lube International, more and more divers nowadays consider owning a car as having a relationship that needs to be nurtured and protected.

In AutoChannel yesterday, it was reported that according to the survey, 44 percent of women and 44 percent of men claimed that they open about expressing gratitude to their cars for being such great partners at some points in their lives. Most qualities that car owners are most thankful for about their cars are their dependability, appearance, performance and handling.

If some couples express their love for one another through public display of affection, some car owners also do that. Not the typical holding hands while walking that’s in your mind though. For cars, it’s as simple as rubbing the dashboard.

If some people find saying “Sorry” as the hardest thing to do on earth, would you believe that some drivers don’t hold those words back from their car? The study revealed that 24 percent of drivers expressed regret to their car after running-in with a speed bump or any circumstance that almost damaged their car.

According to Lisa Carlson, Global Director of Marketing for Jiffy Lube International, expressing affection should not be limited to our loved ones alone but also to our vehicles.

“For most of us, our vehicles are far more than just another line-item on our list of assets. They are so integral to our daily lives because we constantly count on them to safely and dependably get us where we need to be. They deserve affection and attention too,” she added.

About 509 men and 507 women compose the survey sample. The survey was done via telephone by Jiffy Lube International, an auxiliary branch of Shell Oil Company.

Even cars deserve affection. Not just on Valentine’s Day.

Environmentally Friendly Pickups Will Flock

February 3, 2008
Automakers think green. But the commitment is not limited to compact cars. This time around, automakers find ways to wipe gas-guzzling pickups, sport utilities, and minivans threat to the environment.

Pickups from General Motors will take center stage – GMC Sierra and GMC Denali XT – at the Chicago Auto Show this coming Wednesday.

The Detroit automaker said the crew cab Sierra hybrid can tow 6,100 pounds and is equipped with the new two-mode hybrid system for a 40% raise in city fuel economy and 25% improvement in overall fuel economy.

The Denali XT concept, meanwhile, features new chassis, the hybrid system and a new direct-injected 4.9-liter, 326hp version of the V8 engine. The automaker said that would give it a 50% raise in combined city/highway fuel economy versus small trucks.

“It’s very eye-catching,” said Product Chief Russ Clark, GMC. “A portion of the pickup market could be attracted to vehicles like the XT. There are some folks who want the advantages of a pickup bed but don’t need all the towing and payload capability of our other pickups.”

“It looks fabulous,” said analyst Rebecca Lindland of Global Insight in Lexington, Mass. “It’s definitely a GMC, but it could appeal to people who don’t want a big, old-style truck.”

“GMC has to broaden its lineup for fuel-economy reasons,” said analyst Stephanie Brinley of the AutoPacific. “There’s no reason for the Denali XT not to happen.”

What to see in Chicago

Ford Edge: Sporty model with new engine and transmission.

Ford Transit: The Transit Connect, a European-built delivery van, debuts.

GMC Denali XT concept and Sierra two-mode hybrid pickup: Fuel-efficient truck technology in a sporty concept and full-size pickup.

Hummer H3T: Hummer’s midsize SUV gives birth to a brawny new pickup.

Hyundai Sonata: A new interior and more powerful and fuel-efficient engines highlight the face-lifted version of Hyundai’s midsize sedan.

Suzuki pickup: Suzuki’s first pickup in the United States is a midsize model based on the Nissan Frontier and features the biggest, shiniest Suzuki badge you’ll ever see. The pickup’s name will be revealed in Chicago.

VW Routan: VW’s new minivan is based on and built alongside the Chrysler Town & Country. Watch to see how VW makes the van its own and whether it gets all the nifty features the Dodge and Chrysler models offer.