Monday, 29 April 2013

Tune up your driving with these great apps!

We live in an age of seamless connectivity.

These days drivers expect their car to connect to their smartphone (or other device), so that it can instantly provide all the information, communication and entertainment they could want to their fingertips.

But that’s not all. Did you know that you can use the power of technology to improve your driving habits, or to optimize your car for better performance?

We've compiled a list of our three favourite apps that can help you track your car’s overall performance, provided you have a smartphone (Samsung Galaxy, iPhone, HTC, Motorola, etc.). There are plenty of apps for cars out there with varying emphasis on safety, driving experience and maintenance - but these are our picks to get you started!
  • aCar: With more than a million downloads so far from Google Play, this car management app is an ideal tool for car owners who want to track and keep records of fuel efficiency, mileage, fill-ups, services, expenses and trips. Check out aCar on Google play.
  • Torque Pro: Torque Pro is a powerful app that you can utilize to optimize your car's performance. One good feature of this app is that it allows you to see you what your car is doing in real-time! You can also get OBD fault codes, performance info, sensor data and more from this application. In order to fully use this app; you’ll need an OBD II Bluetooth adapter. Check out Torque Pro on Google play.
  •  iOnRoad: If driving safety is one of your major concerns (and it should be!), then iOnRoad is for you. This app uses your phone camera, GPS and sensors to detect vehicles in front of your car. It maps object in front of the driver in real-time, calculates the driver’s current speed, and alerts the driver of coming danger! iOnRoad is fully loaded with heaps of features; you can check it out here.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Aussie car manufacturers: an endangered species?

The chiefs of Australia's big three car manufacturers are warning that around 50,000 jobs will be lost if the government withdraws its assistance to the industry.

That assistance is expected to be a major federal election issue this year, with Tony Abbott promising to strip $500 million out of a green-car fund if the Coalition is elected.

Ford chief Bob Graziano, Holden chief Mike Devereux and Toyota chief David Buttner have all indicated that the sector will not survive if government support is abolished.

Bailouts have been controversial in recent years, with the three companies shedding 1350 jobs between them despite receiving billions in handouts.

Holden has received $2.2 billion in government subsidies in the past 12 years, while Ford has picked up about $1.1 billion - but neither can guarantee local production beyond 2016.

According to industry estimates, the three companies employ 17,000 people directly, while the industry (including suppliers) employs 55,000 and supports 200,000 jobs indirectly.

And if one of the manufacturers left Australia, the whole industry could collapse because the supplier network would not have enough volume to be profitable.

Toyota is the only Aussie car manufacturer with a significant export program. Its CEO David Buttner said government policy needed to continue supporting the car industry or Toyota would look at spending its money elsewhere.

"There's a whole host of countries around the world vying for Toyota's investment," he said.

Holden's Mike Devereux responded to critics of the Australian car industry, saying that assistance to the manufacturing was worth every cent. Ford Australia's Mr Graziano agrees, noting said that Australians spent less on car industry assistance than other countries.

"If you look at Australia the support here is a little bit less than $18 per person compared to significantly higher amounts in other countries around the world, but without that assistance, it would be difficult to see the industry surviving."

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Hyundai Unveils Stylish HND-9 Concept

South Korean auto giant Hyundai is making concerted efforts to dramatically change its products designs.

The Hyundai HCD-14 made its debut at this year’s Detroit Auto Show, catching everyone’s attention with its curves and elegance ­- which signalled a dramatic change in design by Hyundai.

Hyundai today unveiled a new stylish and sexy HND-9 Sports Coupe Concept, with official images revealed at the ongoing 2013 Seoul Auto Show. The design really caught our attention because of its unique and sporty look. The HND-9 features large butterfly doors; scenic front-and-rear ends views.

The interior design is based on three guiding concepts: elegance, high-tech interface and the abstract sounding 'spiral sculpture',. The aim, unsurprisingly, is better performance and increase in interaction. 

“Representing an evolution of Hyundai’s ‘Fluidic Sculpture’ design philosophy, the rear-wheel drive sports coupe concept balances high performance with a sophisticated image,” said Suk-Geun Oh, head of Hyundai’s Design Center in Namyang, Korea. 

Check out the body-design and engine specifications of the Hyundai HCD-9 Sports Coupe Concept below:
  • Stretched 2,860mm wheelbase 
  • Overall length of 4,695mm 
  • Width of 1,890mm 
  • Height of 1,340mm 
  • Rear-wheel drive 
  • Front engine 
  • 3.3-liter turbocharged engine with 8-speed automatic transmission 
  • 365 horsepower engine 
“Based on the spiral sculpture concept – derived from Hyundai’s Fluidic Sculpture design philosophy – dynamic and distinctive spiral-shaped metal lines frame the entire interior in a speedy and rhythmical way, creating a unique layout.”

“The seats are made of sporty yet luxurious mesh fabric, and project different colours when viewed from different angles. The driver-oriented, high-tech interface is modelled on an airplane cockpit, offering both improved functionality and aesthetics, optimized for dynamic driving,” Suk-Geun Oh added. 

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Seven Things to Consider Before Buying a New Car

Buying a new car is obviously a complex decision  for most people to make - it can lead to an expensive mistake! There is an enormously diverse range of cars on the market at any given time and our buying decisions are heavily influenced by the marketers who bombard our brains with carefully tailored advertisements and offers in the hope of directing us towards the car they're trying to sell.

In order to make a wise buying decision, it helps to define the type of car that you want to buy based on several factors: price, efficiency, capacity, engine type, power, style and drivelines. Knowing a bit about these factors in advance can go a long way in helping you make a decision. Let’s look at these factors one by one.
  1. Price: Of course price should be at the top of your list. Go for the car you can afford to buy and maintain. There's no point buying a Monaro HRT if you can’t afford to get it serviced. Remember that insurance costs go up with a more expensive car as well - and if you're buying in the higher range, you'll definitely want insurance! Get some good advice about insurance here.
  2. Fuel efficiency: Your car’s mileage is very important - the price of petrol is constantly increasing. Efficiency can range from 15 Km/litre up to 45 Km/litre. When you've narrowed your choices down by price, do some research online and compare the mileage figures for the models you're interested in.
  3. Seating capacity: Your choice of seating capacity will probably be based on your families needs - or perhaps your circle of friends. This will be a simple decision to make, but shouldn't be overlooked - the last thing you want to do is get a car your family won't fit in (and don't forget the dog!)
  4. Engine type: Engines vary from one car to another for many reasons, including performance, efficiency and adaptability. Petrol engines are still the most common by far. Diesel engines are known to have more torque- the grunt that gets your car moving, but if you're interested in making an low-emission choice, look at hybrid and electric engines. 
  5. Horsepower: While torque gets you moving, horsepower keeps you moving. Horsepower in cars ranges from 100HP to well above 500HP. High-speed, high-end cars such as the German made Bugatti Veyron produces 1001 metric horsepower with 1,250 Nm of torque reaching 350 Km/hr.
  6. Body style: Another relatively easy decision that depends on your personal preferences. Body styles you might come across include: Convertible, Coupe, Sedan, SUV, Ute, Hatchback, Liftback, Crossover, Track and Wagon. 
  7. Drivelines: You have four types of driveline to choose from: 4WD or 4x4 (Four wheel drive), RWD (Rear Wheel Drive), FWD (Front Wheel Drive) and last but not the least, AWD (All Wheel Drive). AWD is a full-time 4-wheel-drive system (all four wheels receive torque from the engine simultaneously) that employs a center differential that allows each tire to rotate at different speeds improving handling and stability.