Okay, perhaps we’re stretching things a little by saying that you’ll never have a speeding fine ever again, but the brand new Ford S-Max will come with Ford’s innovative Intelligent Speed Limiter system, which will allow it to read road signs so that it knows when to automatically slow you down. It does this helpful stuff via a windscreen-mounted camera that lets it keep a lookout for road signs. So if you miss one, you don’t need to worry, because the Ford S-Max has got you covered.
This sign-ready technology is, of course, nothing new, but this is the first time it has been used in such a way so as to automatically put the brakes on and help drivers avoid amassing points on their license. And if you enter a higher speed zone, the new Ford S-Max will give the chance to accelerate, but will stop you once you reach the legal speed limit. If you enter Birmingham, it will also stop you immediately and turn you around. Nice one.
The question becomes whether buyers are going to be happy with a car that helps them avoid speeding tickets, or whether they’ll be worried that Big Brother has entered the automotive industry. It certainly improves safety, but does it take the edge off driving a little?
Reports in Glasgow that a Ford S-Max buyer set fire to his new car when he wrongly believed that the Intelligent Speed Limiter system was real and was “out to get him” are so far unconfirmed.
Ford Unveil $1 Billion Plant In India
Ford this week unveiled their brand new $1 billion vehicle assembly plant in Gujarat. The American brand follow Mercedes, Audi and Nissan in being the latest mainstream car giant to attempt to crack the notoriously complex Indian car market.
“We have taken our growth commitment to a new high in India,” said Ford’s CEO, Mark Fields. “We will create new jobs and serve new customers around the world with great products.”
The $1 billion vehicle assembly plant will produce around 240,000 vehicles annually and extend Ford’s Indian capacity to upwards of 450,000 vehicles. Despite these impossibly high numbers, the brand will remain one of India’s quietest producers. The hope for Ford, though, is that having a stronger presence in Asia will help it to have a more balanced financial performance. At present, the company is too reliant on large pickup trucks.
One American we spoke to was unhappy that “India is taking all our cars,” but we helpfully assured him that American’s will still get their fair share.
Aston Martin To Sue Fisker Over Thunderbolt Prototype
Legendary car manufacturer Aston Martin is to sue Fisker for what it claims is an authorised copy of one of their own designs. Fisker recently unveiled a Thunderbolt prototype, and Aston Martin claim it has already been done before – by them.
Various key elements of the Thunderbolt’s styling are under scrutiny, with the lawsuit centring on “Henrik Fisker’s creation and promotion of automobiles that Aston Martin contends infringes Aston Martin’s rights by an improper and unauthorised attempt to exploit and free-ride off them.”
Henrik Fisker used to work as a design boss for Aston Martin, but clearly forgot that he would have to come up with some brand new stuff once he swapped sides. The Thunderbolt, unveiled in Florida earlier this month, is based on the Aston Martin V12 Vanquish – but he did not ask for permission first.
Sources close to him said he simply “forgot” and that “this automotive game does stress you out.”
When we asked a former Proton design boss what he thought of the matter, he said that he was “deeply saddened to hear about this. All I can say is that I just hope none of my old Proton design’s are ever copied because they were ace.”
Mercedes To Launch First Premium Pickup By 2020
There aren’t too many details, but our ears were pricked when Mercedes announced that they would be “launching the first pickup from a premium manufacturer before the end of the decade.”
According to the German brand, the pickup market is heading in a new direction, with demand growing for pickups that come with car-like specifications.
“As part of our ‘Mercedes-Benz Vans goes global’ strategy, the pickup is the ideal vehicle for the international expansion of our product range with a newly developed model,” said a spokesman for Mercedes.
Marchionne Defends Jeep Despite Fire Deaths
Back in 2011, Jeeps were called “modern day Pinto’s for soccer mums, with a fuel tank located dangerously behind the rear axle in the crush zone of an impact.” This was because they have been linked to 270 deaths in which their gas tanks exploded, killing those inside.
Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of FDA US LLC (formerly known as Chrysler), insisted this week that the old Jeep Grand Cherokees are not defective. It is something he has continued to insist ever since the controversy began around the old Jeep Liberty and Cherokee models.
Frighteningly, Sergio Marchionne admits to not being an engineer and is unsure of whether more recent Jeeps are actually safer. Despite this, and despite repeated calls for the Jeeps to be recalled, nothing has yet been done.
Clarence Ditlow, Executive Director of the Centre for Auto Safety, said, “We called on NHTSA to do crash tests of Chrysler’s proposed remedy, just as it did with Ford’s proposed remedy for the Pinto in 1978, to determine that the modified Jeeps meet the present Safety Standard just as the Pinto’s had to the meet the new Safety Standard in 1978.”
Renault To Increase ZOE Range
The Renault ZOE – the French brand’s mega popular subcompact hatchback – is to see its range increases from 30km to a stunning 240km in a bid to capitalise on its success.
The longer-range variant will launch in Europe this spring, and will actually cost less than the current Renault ZOE. The extended range has been made possible thanks to a light electric motor that is also now more compact. Eventually, the plan is to get the range to a very satisfying 300km.
There is a downside to all this, though: The ranges will only increase in stages of 30km to 40km. Meaning, the 240km range will not happen overnight.
What? You thought you could have your cake and eat it?
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