Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The World's Most Fuel Efficient Car: A Volkswagen?

What do you get when you combine global warming with the fact that fossil fuels are getting ridiculously expensive? You get automakers scrambling to create a new era of the automobile, with surprising results!

New automobiles are being designed in ways that challenge every pre-existing notion we have about how vehicles should look and perform. Some manufacturers are using alternative fuel sources such as electricity (i.e. the Nissan Leaf which I have featured on my blog a couple of times) and some are simply figuring out a way to burn substantially less fuel without converting energy sources, which is a route that Volkswagen is taking with their "L1 Concept".

You might be thinking to yourself, "I wouldn't drive that ugly piece of crap!" but I urge you to look at the vehicle's practicality instead of its design.

Specifically this: This vehicle uses only ONE LITRE OF FUEL per 100km!! (285mpg!!)

How are they able to achieve this? Every piece of this automobile is designed for aerodynamics. This is why the vehicle's shell resembles a bullet, and why it only weighs 640lbs. The vehicle is much thinner than the average car because the passenger actually sits behind the driver (see picture below)

The rear of the vehicle may appear similar to the Honda Insight, and indeed it is! Since the rear wheels are not used for turning, there is no reason for them to be exposed. By covering them up, a significant amount of wind residence is reduced. Also, the air intake only opens when the vehicle needs to be cooled down.

This concept is a fantastic representation of the belief that you can make an extremely fuel-efficient vehicle without advancing too far into new technology. The big question - will we ever see this on the road? It has not been officially determined, but only time will tell, I suppose. 

images from gas2.org

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Spanish Woman Claims Ownership of the Sun

A couple of days ago, I saw something on the news that infuriated me, and made me a bit sick to my stomach. As my post title states, a woman in Spain has literally claimed legal ownership of the Sun.

Apparently the law states that no country can own a planet or the sun, but an invidiviual is actually allowed to claim ownership. Angeles Duran, 49, said she got the idea after an American man claimed ownership of most of the solar system.

This is where the story gets worse! Angeles Duran wants to actually wants to charge people who use the sun! This can be anything from solar energy, allowing sunlight to brighten your house, growing marijuiana (lol), or even trying to get a sun tan.

How they would regulate the sun`s usage or enforce non-payment  is a totally different question. I think it would be impossible, and I don`t think she`ll ever be able to get anyone to pay.

I now officially hate this lady more than I hate Gene Simmons. I`m interested to hear thoughts and opinions on this subject!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Volvo's Pedestrian Warning System

Volvo has always had safety in mind when designing their vehicles, and their Pedestrian Warning System is no exception. The system is able to detect pedestrians and apply full braking pressure automatically if the driver fails to do so. It is a concept which Volvo hopes will prevent low-speed pedestrian injuries and fatalities altogether, and reduce the impact speed of higher-speed accidents.

However, there is a margin of error that is evident after watching some testing videos of this system. Don't get me wrong, any prevented accidents are better than someone getting hit, so I think Volvo is on the right track with this innovation, but it's funny to see technology when it fails.

Back in September, Volvo was demonstrating its system when their vehicle failed to recognize and stop before a dummy on three separate occasions. To give them a bit of credit, they did have 650 trouble-free demonstrations. Even the video crew thought it was funny though, as you can hear laughter at the end of the video.

I realize what Volvo is trying to accomplish with this technology - reduce pedestrian injuries and fatalities - but can it ever be foolproof?

This isn't the first time Volvo has had problems occur during safety demonstrations. They seem to have bad luck with their tests when the cameras are rolling! I found this one especially humorous since it was a somewhat public event.

Overall, I give Volvo credit for their ingenuity and hard work when it comes to accident avoidance and overall safety, but their newest technology still needs some work.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Update: Nissan Leaf's Performance Statistics

A few weeks ago, I made a post about the Nissan Leaf. Just to quickly reiterate why this vehicle is important, it is a fully-electric, zero-emissions vehicle manufactured by Nissan. It is scheduled to go on sale next month along with Nissan's new 2011 vehicle line up. 

As it turns out, the Nissan Leaf's performance statistics aren't nearly as good as Nissan had previously claimed in their press release. Just to clear up any misconceptions or myths about these statistics, I found myself obligated to post these new figures which were released by the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday. I was slightly surprised to learn how different the actual statistics are compared to Nissan's original claims.

1) Nissan has been bragging about a driving range of 62 - 138 miles on a single charge. The EPA decided to correct Nissan's claim, and determined that the official range is only 73 miles. That's a huge difference! Come on Nissan, did you think no one was going to find out you were exaggerating?

2) Nissan also conveniently forgot to mention that if you neglect to purchase a $2000 240 Volt charging station, it will take approximately one hour of charging to obtain 5 miles of range. This means that to obtain the full estimated 73 mile range, a person would have to charge their Nissan Leaf for over 14 hours if starting their charge with a drained battery! (With the 240 Volt upgrade, it is said to take only 7 hours to obtain a full charge.)

3) Although Nissan did admit that exterior weather conditions will cause a change in the Leaf's range, they didn't go in depth about what else can cause variations.  For instance, the EPA tested the Leaf in conditions just above freezing. They blasted the heat and fan and lost 14 miles of range. Extra passengers and cargo will also reduce the range very noticeably, although specifics were not provided in the EPA's report.

Nissan will be providing 20,000 units to dealers during its first year in production, and they are surprisingly expected to completely sell out. Do these new statistics change anyone's view on the leaf? Personally, I'm disappointed with these new statistics. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Reliant Robin: What Were They Thinking?

In case the below picture doesn't make it incredibly obvious, I'll explain what sets this car apart from other cars - it only has THREE WHEELS! This vehicle has been manufactured under different names and by different companies from 1973 up to 2002. It has been a staple in British comedy, and I've located some videos that demonstrate why the Reliant Robin is a horrible vehicle. Check them out below!

Aside from the obvious difference which I've already pointed out, this vehicle weighs less than 1000lbs (450kg) and therefore qualifies to be insured under the same rates as a motorcycle. Mechanically speaking, the engine is in the front of the car near the wheel. Don't worry, it's not front wheel drive! The engine drives the rear axle.

Those of you who used to watch Mr. Bean (I still do, the show is f*cking awesome) may best remember this vehicle as the blue three-wheeled car that Mr. Bean would always mess around with. It's actually a Reliant Regal which is the model that proceeded the Robin, but they look very similar and both have a problem with tipping over. I found a clip on Youtube for those who want to refresh their memory!

If anyone here watches the British show Top Gear, you may recall Jeremy Clarkson taking a Reliant Robin on a test drive... and it didn't go very well. Here's the video!

Overall, this car was just marketed towards people who valued economic value over the safety of themselves and their passengers. I'm glad it was never introduced in North America, and I'm glad that the manufacturers finally chose to cease production in 2002. However, I love laughing at its purely ridiculous design flaws and lack of safety.

What do you guys think?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Preparing Your Car For Winter

Vehicle maintenance is obviously important year-round, but the winter is the worst possible time to be stranded on the side of the road. It is best to take your vehicle to a mechanic, but if you cannot afford one, there are some simple preventative measures you can take to reduce your chances of experiencing mechanical problems. 

Among the first things you should check under your hood is your anti-freeze levels. My advice is to not procrastinate with this. Ask me how I know!

Next, you will want to check your battery. You will need a voltmeter for this. Check and clean the terminals to ensure they are free of corrosion.

Inspect your exhaust system for leaks. Any leaks will emit carbon monoxide which can leak into the car. Because people rarely have their windows open during the winter, there is less ventilation, and carbon monoxide poisoning can result in death. If you are checking the exhaust system yourself, make sure to use jack stands to support the vehicle properly. It is a much better idea to have a mechanic inspect this system.

Winter tires are of utmost importance. Earlier this month, I posted a few of this year's most popular winter tires. The post can be found here.

A good tip regarding gasoline is to try and maintain a full tank. You never know when or where you may get stuck. I know if I was stuck, I would like to be able to start the car periodically to keep the car warm.

The last tip is to be prepared for being stranded. If your car was stuck in the snow, what would you like to have in the trunk? 

I keep the following items in my car in case of an emergency:
-bottled water
-food (mainly a few energy or chocolate bars)
-a flashlight
-a charger for my iPhone
-a few sweatshirts or an extra jacket
-extra pair of shoes
-the obvious trunk accessories such as a jack, spare tire etc...

Of course, none of this matters if this kid finds your keys....

"I did it cuz it's fun to do bad things"

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Retro Advertising: Cigarettes

Let`s face it, life has become a mundane trickle of companies force-feeding their advertisements down all of our throats. Adverts catch our attention whether they are on the internet, the television, the radio, or in places we would never even expect. In recent years, the restrictions on advertisements has increased, and nowhere is this more true than in the fading tobacco industry.

I don't want to be providing any free advertising to these companies, so I'm posting these ads purely for the purposes of critique and laugher. I've found some retro commercials that had me laughing pretty hard. It's difficult to believe this was mainstream advertising not too long ago...

1. The infamous claim that Camel cigarettes were better because more doctors smoke them... lol

2. Remember, cigarettes make a great stocking stuffer!


3. Who says cigarette ads were aimed at kids?

These ads seem so simple in comparison to modern ads which rely purely on stimulating the senses. It seems like every commercial today has to use vibrant colors, stunning HD resolution, CGI and music to make a product memorable in someone's mind.

What will ads be like in five or ten years? What new advertising mediums will be introduced?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Whistle Tips

This video may induce nostalgia for some viewers as it is quite old (2006)... but for those who haven't seen it, you're guaranteed a good laugh.

A whistle tip is a metal device that's welded into the tip of a car's exhaust to make a high pitched noise audible for up to a mile! They're banned in California. I'll let the video explain the rest...


Anyone else notice at the end of the video, the guy runs a stop sign while showing off his "whistle tip"?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Wrecked Ferraris

The Ferrari has always been a symbol for wealth and success, but when you see one that's been wrecked, you can't help but laugh. Well, some people may cry. Either way, I've put together a collection of these wrecked supercars....

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Honda Air Concept

My lack of posting yesterday was due to my internet connection being down, sorry about that! I'm back in business now, and wanted to showcase the Honda Air Concept, which was created for the 2010 LA Design Challenge. As the name suggests, it runs on compressed air!

It utilizes turbo vacuums and external air-flow to regenerate tank pressure for extended range and increased boost for an estimated 100 miles. The chassis doubles as the master tank and all components, including the seats, are mounted to the central chassis/tank to eliminate redundant structure and reduce overall weight. The body features vegetable-based polymer panels and fairings. I'm actually a bit concerned about this design... if there was an accident or physical impact, would it not explode under pressure?

The main tanks and reserves can apparently be filled quickly and safely using a simple generator / air compressor at home or a tire filler at the local filling station. If this is the case, it would cost substantially less than even electricity! I can foresee compressed air at gas stations becoming more expensive if this is concept actually sees production, though. 

All in all, it's a pretty interesting concept car, and not a lot of information is currently available for it. Nonetheless, the pictures are awe-inspiring.

all pictures for this post were from megamachine.info

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Animals vs. Vehicles

The title says it all...

It's often funny to see the reaction of an animal when it comes face-to-face when an inanimate object such as a car. Most animals seem to know that a car is not a living creature, but they seem to take an instant dislike to vehicles. You know how dogs love car rides? Well it appears that some animals don't get along with automobiles, and these reactions are priceless!

Fuck you car, I'm gonna drown you!
Hmm.. I wonder if I can pick up this tasty blueberry?
Well, whoever in that car is gonna get eaten.
For some reason, Volkswagens really piss off elephants.
The monkeys have claimed your car. Please exit the vehicle.
It's a staring competition...
I would roll up the window before he pecks my fucking eye out....
Safari vehicles are very chewy, but high in fiber.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Subaru WRX Snow Drifting!

As someone who doesn't own an AWD vehicle, I get very jelous when I see the performance capability that a Subaru WRX has on snow and ice!

For those who aren't familiar with the Subaru Impreza WRX, it's the turbocharged version of the regular Impreza. It's available as a sedan or a wagon, but it's no kid-hauler! Too bad the sound quality on the video is poor (and drowned out by music) because these engines produce an orgasmic exhaust note..

After watching a video like this, it's hard to believe that some people can barely get their vehicles out of their driveways in similar conditions!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fast Car Magazine's Rusty RX-7

Today I wanted to showcase this RX-7 that was tuned by Dragon Performance, a U.K shop which specializes in rotary engines. It's got a Turbonetics T62 turbo, plenty of drift damage, and definitely turns some heads because of its appearance!
**Just a short post today, but check back tomorrow!**

Friday, November 12, 2010

Best Ways to Boost Your Immune System

*not auto related*

When November and December roll around each year, many people unfortunately let their immune systems deplete and experience cold and flu symptoms.
I felt myself getting a bit sick yesterday, so I decided to do some research on the subject so I could feel better!

According to many sources, if you try to take the following steps, you can easily keep yourself in good health and you probably won't get sick!
Have some lemon juice
Drinking freshly-squeezed lemon juice in water, tea, or by adding it to your meal, you keep your body's pH at a level which promotes healthy bacteria growth instead of harmful viruses.

Get plenty of sleep
Sleep has been linked to balanced hormone levels (including human growth hormone and the stress hormone, cortisol), keeping weight down, clear thinking and reasoning, improved mood, and vibrant, healthy skin.

Drink lots of water
Most headaches occur because despite the number of reminders, people still aren't getting enough water! Headaches and thirst are both signs of dehydration. If you're not drinking enough water, your body isn't operating at its maximum efficiency and leaves your immune system open to attack by viruses!

Stop drinking coffee
Coffee and chocolate are two of the worst things you can do for your immune system and your health. Caffeine robs your body of minerals and vitamins, and it dehydrates you, which as mentioned above can weaken your immune system. If you drink coffee, make sure you add an additional two glasses to your water intake per cup of coffee. A mineral supplement helps to offset caffeine's damage, too.

Spend some time outside
Exercise can make a noticeable difference to your health and happiness by releasing endorphins. Most of us spend 90% of our lives indoors, inhaling dubiously filtered air and other people's germs, so take every opportunity to get outside.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Winter Tires

Fellow drivers, it's that time of year again! I've already put my winter tires on, but for those who don't have a set for their vehicle, I wanted to pass on this year's Consumer Search review! I found it very helpful for last year's purchase.

Michelin X-Ice Xi2

Best winter tire

    prosGeneral Altimax Arctic
  • Superior grip on ice and snow
  • Durable
  • Quiet
  • Low rolling resistance means better gas mileage
  • Poor wet- and dry-road grip in some tests




General Altimax Arctic

"Budget snow tire" 

    prosMichelin X-Ice Xi2
  • Impressive on icy, snowy and wet roads
  • Durable
  • Inexpensive
  • Studdable
  • Unimpressive on dry roads
  • Less ice grip than Michelin X-Ice Xi2



Nokian Hakkapeliitta 5

Studded snow tire

    prosNokian Hakkapeliitta 5
  • Great on snow and ice
  • Studded tire for cars, SUVs, minivans and light trucks
  • Braking performance on dry or wet pavement
  • Noisy on dry pavement
  • Expensive

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Most Reliable Manufacturers?

Among the vehicles on the road today, which of them are the most reliable? It's a question that is often up for debate on many car enthusiasts. Some vehicles are too new to accurately determine reliability, but for older vehicles, it is quite obvious.

While some opinions are formulated around the fact that Japanese vehicles statistically exceed the mileage of other manufacturer's vehicles, some people are adamant that almost any vehicle can be extremely reliable if properly maintained.

It's sometimes difficult to define a reliable vehicle. From a mechanic's perspective, it can mean any vehicle that exceeds the average milage for its model/year without any *major* repairs. Other people seem to think it can include any vehicle that is still on the road in mass quantities, regardless of the repairs.

In the interest of being far to all auto manufacturers, I did a very inclusive search on this subject, and am pleased to share my findings! I'm only going to post the prominent results by manufacturer, because posting individual vehicles would take days!!

I'll start with my car - my 1992 Volkswagen Jetta GTX (actual picture). This car has been in my ownership for two years, and the only repairs have been routine maintenance. It has 350,000km's and still runs strong. Every day, I see tons of MK2 Volkswagens around town, which is an indication that they are extremely reliable. German engineering at its finest!

No surprise here! Honda has a reputation for manufacturing the world's most reliable cars throughout the 80's, 90's, and today's line-up! I am definitely not a Honda fan at all, but if I had to purchase a reliable car, I'd buy a civic.

I know from personal experience how reliable Toyotas are. The above car was mine. I purchased it for $250 dollars and it tried to kill it!!! (one of my previous posts has more pictures) ...I beat the hell out of it. I took it off-road, and I even hit a tree at 30km/hr which is why the bumper is completely fucked. It still drove fine! If you want a car that you can beat the hell out of, I recommend a Toyota. These cars are reliable as shit!!!

There are some American vehicles which should be recognized. The Ford Ranger is a solid truck, and their engines have been known to surpass 600,00km's with proper maintenance. They used the same engine in multiple vehicles on their line-up.

I could keep posting, but I feel like I'm going to pass out from a combination of sleep deprivation and drug experimentation. I think I'll end the post here, cheers!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Old Car Commercials

Watching old commercials on YouTube never ceases to amuse me. Old ad campaigns remind me of a time where you could give a product a futuristic or cool-sounding name and it would sell like crazy!

The above statement is especially true when it comes to car commercials. I like to picture a sales team sitting around a table for days, brainstorming and drinking coffee for hours on end, and ending up with a car named "The Chevrolet Celebrity".

Aside from the names, most of these sales techniques don't have anything to do with the car they're selling. Companies can't get away with this nowadays!

I'll let the commercials speak for themselves. Enjoy!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ghost Riding

Hey everyone, today`s post is about "Ghost Riding" because I saw someone doing this today near my house. Those who know of this stunt are already aware that it`s one of the dumbest things a person can do with their vehicle.

For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, this activity involves a person running beside their vehicle, or being on top of the vehicle, while it moves forward without a driver. This stunt is mainly performed by people who were dropped on their heads as children.

The idea for Ghost Riding was somewhat popularized by rapper Mr. FAB, and his music video (see below).

And here is a funny video of someone attempting to Ghost Ride. As you may have guessed, this attempt does not end well! Enjoy!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Extreme Driving - In Traffic

Man I'm glad it's Saturday; I've been working my ass off all week. Time to kick back with a six pack!

All morning, I've been watching "Traffic Weaving" videos, and I want to share a couple. For those who haven't heard of this activity, it's basically people driving on multi-lane highways as fast as possible with a camera to document their ability to weave in and out of traffic. While I don't condone these actions at all, I'm always on the edge of my seat while watching the split second decisions these drivers/riders have to make.

This first video is a motorcyclist basically screwing with a police officer who is attempting to pull him over. The cop has absolutely no chance of catching up to him, and you'll see how the motorcyclist actually mocks the cop because he knows he can't be caught.

The second video consists of three motorcyclists weaving through traffic, from the perspective of one of the riders. Numerous times throughout the video, the rider with the camera encounters vehicles switching lanes right in front of him,  but he manages to avoid a crash and continues to drive. The rider's camera also has a view of the speedometer so you can see how fast they are riding.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Vehicle Inspection Laws

Everyone sees vehicles during their daily commute which simply aren't suitable for the road, either due to lack of maintenance (i.e. squealing wheel bearings) or because they're in overall poor condition.

I live in British Columbia, Canada, where there are no mandatory annual or bi-annual vehicle inspections required. We do, however, have AirCare, but this program only calculates whether or not your car is meeting the government's emissions standards.

I found a video today that demonstrates the kinds of vehicles that are  being legally driven, and the obvious risk that these vehicles pose to other motorists and pedestrians.

I applaud the States and Provinces that require mandatory vehicle inspections in order to put insurance on a vehicle. I realize the video depicts a rather extreme example, but what if you're driving down the highway and the driver of this Tiburon is driving beside you? Judging from the obvious lack of maintenance on his vehicle, his tire could easily blow which could cause him or her to veer into your vehicle, and cause an "accident". Hell, the whole wheel could even come off.

Police in my municipality seem more concerned with people who have after-market rims or loud stereos to notice vehicles like the one in the video.

In my opinion, vehicle inspections should be mandatory everywhere on at least a bi-annual basis to keep our insurance rates lower and prevent unnecessary crashes.

I'm curious to hear comments and thoughts on this subject. If you live in an area where these inspections are mandatory, do you feel it reduces crashes? And to the contrary, if your area does not require mandatory inspections, do you feel they should?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

127 MPG: The Chevy Volt

I did a post on the Nissan Leaf a couple of weeks ago, so I feel it's only fair to give its closest competitor some spotlight also.

The Chevrolet Volt exhibits some impressive statistics, and the title of this post speaks for itself in terms of the car's efficiency. The main difference between the Volt and the Leaf is that Chevy's Volt actually does have a small internal combustion engine which operates as a generator to assist its electric engine.

For instance, if you're running low on juice, or the Volt's on board computer determines that you are using a large amount of electricity (i.e. driving up a mountain) the gas engine will kick in to keep the battery charged and running at peak efficiency. However, statistics show that the majority of drivers won't have to activate that engine during their daily driving.

I personally like the Chevy Volt because it won't leave you stranded. However, it's substantially more expensive than the Nissan Leaf with a MSRP of $40,280. Keep in mind also that the EPA doesn't consider it a fully-electric, zero emissions vehicle and it therefore doesn't qualify for their rebates.

Is this the future of automotive engineering? If so, they'll have to do something about the cost.