Porsche Tech Look Live

Porsche dealers get futuristic ‘smartglasses’ to diagnose problems

Porsche Tech Look Live

Porsche Cars North America is set to roll out special smartglasses for all 189 dealerships across the United States. Combined with augmented reality software, Tech Look Live aims to make life easier for technicians and improve customer service.

The Tech Look Live system works by allowing Porsche technicians to work in real-time with experts at Porsche’s central technical support team. The high-definition cameras mounted to the smartglasses allow the experts to see exactly what the technician is looking at – despite the dealership likely being hundreds of miles away from Porsche’s North American headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.

From seeing the live feed, the technical centre experts can then suggest fixes in a number of ways. This can include projecting step-by-step guides onto the screen within the smartglasses, allowing the technician to follow instructions hands-free.

In addition, the smartglasses also allow for screenshots to be taken, allowing technical experts to investigate novel new problems in more detail if needed.

The Tech Look Live system is said to rapidly speed up the diagnostic process, eliminating the need for technicians and experts to exchange countless phone calls or emails to try and get to the root cause of a problem. In worst-case scenarios, dealerships would previously need visits from Porsche’s Field Technical Managers, taking even longer to get cars back on the road.

Porsche began piloting the augmented reality software in 2017. Trials found time savings of up to 40 percent in diagnosing complex repair problems.

A total of 75 North American dealers will be online with Tech Look Live by the end of the year, with the remaining set to be included in 2019. 

Matt LeBlanc set to leave BBC Top Gear

Matt LeBlanc will leave Top Gear after next series

Matt LeBlanc set to leave BBC Top GearIt looked like BBC had finally found a presenting lineup that was working for Top Gear, but now it seems set to change again.

Matt LeBlanc has announced that the next series of Top Gear will be the last one to feature him, with BBC executives already claiming to have ‘great plans’ for his replacement come 2019.

The American actor stated that, although he has found working on the BBC Two show ‘great fun’, the extensive travelling and time commitment has taken away too much of the time with friends and family. 

LeBlanc joined the show in 2016, following the departure of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May in the wake of the steak fracas. LeBlanc was initially partnered with Chris Evans, and the US star was arguably the highlight of the challenging 23rd series of the hit show.

Matt LeBlanc set to leave BBC Top Gear

Once Chris Evans made his departure, LeBlanc was featured alongside Chris Harris and Rory Reid, with a fledgling ‘bromance’ that appeared to be recreating the glory days of Top Gear again. 

His time on Top Gear has not been without controversy, with his involvement in a segment which involved Ken Block’s modified ‘Hoonigan’ Mustang performing drifts near the Cenotaph in London. The tabloids were whipped into a frenzy, with the BBC forced to issue an apology.

The loss of LeBlanc from the show is notable in that he had proved himself to be more than just a successful comedic actor. As a man with a genuine passion for cars, and the bravery to own a scary Porsche 911 GT2 RS, LeBlanc was knowledgeable enough to move beyond simply being typecast as ‘Joey from Friends’ to viewers.

The fourth series of Top Gear to feature LeBlanc will air later this year, but the speculation about his replacement will undoubtedly begin much sooner. 

Virgin Trains

Uber partners with Virgin Trains to cut car journeys

Virgin TrainsVirgin Trains wants motorists to cut out car use entirely when catching a train – and has partnered with Uber to offer more seamless door-to-door travel. As an incentive, early adopters will get 50 percent off their first Virgin Trains-facilitated Uber ride.

The idea is to help passengers more easily request an Uber either to the railway station, or away from it upon arrival at their destination. 

Initially, those booking a Virgin Trains ticket online will be able to get an SMS reminder sent to their smartphone; this will contain a link to book an Uber in time to get them to the station without missing their train – and get another one at the end of their trip.

But Virgin Trains has further plans afoot, to “continue optimising passenger journeys and [improve] customer satisfaction before, during, and after they travel”. 

The firm’s executive director Sarah Copley says evidence shows “taking the first and final mile is critical to opening up rail travel to new customers.

“Our exciting new partnership with Uber is the next step in making this end-to-end journey easy and seamless for our customers.”

Ubers head of cities, Fred Jones, agrees. “In order to make it easy to leave your own car at home, we want door-to-door experiences to be as seamless and convenient as possible.

“This partnership with Virgin Trains is an exciting first step towards offering customers an easy way to combine train and car travel at the touch of a button.”

Opinion: Every little helps

It doesn’t sound like a major advance, letting people book Ubers when they book a train ticket. But it seems Virgin Trains has evidence it’s not the actual train journey itself that puts people off using them, it’s the hassle that comes either side of it.

By making this bit easier – basically, sorting it out when the ticket’s booked, not just before you have to depart – the train operator believes it can offer motorists one less excuse to try out the train.

Few of us live within walking distance of major train stations. Many of us would thus consider driving there and, once we’ve gone so far, why not drive the rest of the way? Result: one ticket booking investigated, but not taken up. 

If Virgin Trains’ ‘door-to-door’ offer can ease this pain point, more people may be encouraged to catch the train. Will it work? We shall see: sometimes, it’s the smallest nudges that can make the biggest difference…

Richard Aucock

The 20 most Instagrammed car brands

The 20 most Instagrammed car brands

The 20 most Instagrammed car brands

Instagram continues to be one of the fastest growing social media platforms, and it’s therefore only natural that cars find their way into your feed. Vehicle supplier OSV has investigated which brands have been hashtagged the most, and also which particular model gets the most attention.

Unlike comparing which Instagram brand has the most followers, this list should ‘keep it real’ with what cars social media users are actually tagging. This is the top 20 in ascending order.

20. Mitsubishi #3.55 million

The 20 most Instagrammed car brands

The Mitsubishi brand actually applies to everything from banking to industrial machinery and even air conditioning units. We’ll give the Japanese brand the benefit of the doubt and assume people are more inclined to post about their new car, rather than the latest forklift truck.

Less surprising is that the Lancer Evo tops the table for the most hashtagged Mitsubishi. Covering ten versions, and with a huge following in the tuning world, it would always be a winner.


19. McLaren #3.65 million

The 20 most Instagrammed car brands

McLaren Automotive has just delivered its 15,000th car in just seven years of production. It’s a far cry from the ultra-limited-edition world of the legendary F1 road car, but proof that the brand is certainly buoyant. Attention on Instagram can only help build that following.

The 650S might now be out of production, but currently holds the most tags. Expect the newer 720S supercar to overtake it in the near future.


18. MG #3.72 million

The 20 most Instagrammed car brands

The olde-world image of MG and the shiny modern style of Instagram seems something of a juxtaposition, but the brand sneaks into 18th place on OSV’s list.

Maybe it’s all those hipsters finding a car like the TA Midget really suits a black and white photo filter, especially when combined with a beard and tweed jacket.


17. Lexus #3.97 million

The 20 most Instagrammed car brands

Lexus used Will.i.am to promote the crazy angular lines of the NX when it was first launched back in 2015. Still, that association hasn’t stopped fans of the company from posting about Lexus on Instagram today.

OSV claims that ‘lexusfsport’ is the most popular hashtag associated with the Japanese premium brand. With Lexus now applying the F Sport badge to a number of models, we’ve picked the handsome RC F Sport coupe to highlight here.


16. Bentley #4.12 million

The 20 most Instagrammed car brands

As one of the world’s leading luxury car companies, this again should not be too much of a shock. Instagramming Bentley products could cover anything from the brand’s participation in a variety of motorsport events, through to excitement at spotting the latest model on the street.

It’s the Bentley Continental GT that attracts the most attention, and we imagine that the all-new third-generation car will be driving the hashtags.


15. Mazda #4.28 million

The 20 most Instagrammed car brands

Although not one of the outright largest car manufacturers in the world, Mazda does have a loyal and devoted fanbase. Enthusiasts love the MX-5, whilst the rotary Wankel-engined cars will always hold cult appeal.

Which is why we were somewhat surprised that the humble Mazda 3 is the one which apparently gets the most tags on Instagram, with more than 600,000 at present. Perhaps it’s those pesky hyphens in the RX-7 and RX-8 names ruining the hashtags…


14. Suzuki #6.86 million

The 20 most Instagrammed car brands

As with many of the companies here, #Suzuki could easily apply to cars, motorbikes, or even all-terrain vehicles. However, as the third largest seller of cars in Japan, we’ll go with the assumption that it’s all about the automobiles with this one.

The global appeal of the Swift helps make it the most popular model to be hashtagged. We imagine the Swift being produced locally in India under the Maruti subsidiary brings substantial hashtagging potential.


13. Subaru #8.24 million

The 20 most Instagrammed car brands

The UK may have fallen out of love with performance Subaru models like the WRX STI, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the world has too. Subaru’s performance brand is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and North America has just received the latest version of the STI saloon.

It’s the WRX model which steals the most hashtag attention on Instagram though. Probably not the ‘bug eye’ second-generation model from 2000, though – filters can only do so much.


12. Volkswagen #8.27 million

The 20 most Instagrammed car brands

It may well be the ‘people’s car’ but Volkswagen needs more hashtags from fans to push it inside the top 10. Despite the Vee-Dub scene being eminently popular, perhaps those in it are just too cool for social media.

With more than 30 million examples built since 1974, the Golf is the most popular model to be hashtagged. Even dieselgate cannot kill the enthusiasm for the ever-present VW hatchback.


11. Mini #9.21 million

The 20 most Instagrammed car brands

A classic British marque, or a modern brand within the BMW empire? Whichever way you choose to view Mini, it is at least popular on Instagram. More specifically, it’s the Mini Cooper that gets the most tags.

This does leave us with one of the great social media mysteries of our time, though. Is Mini Cooper Instagram equivalent to Fiat 500 Twitter (look it up)? And, more importantly, do we really want to know the answer to that?


10. Jeep #10.51 million

The 20 most Instagrammed car brands

Even people with virtually no interest in cars can identify a Jeep, or at least use the brand name to describe any number of different 4×4 and SUV models. Perhaps that generic association with off-road vehicles helps push #Jeep higher up the rankings.

Branding is all about being easily identifiable, and despite the Jeep Wrangler being into its fourth-generation, the link to past models is clear to see. It still proves popular with buyers, too, notching up annual sales of more than 200,000 across the world.


9. Lamborghini #10.91 million

The 20 most Instagrammed car brands

We’ll admit that we expected this particular Italian supercar brand to be higher up the list than ninth place. Tellingly, #Lambo has more than two million hashtags alone, so the company could be even higher if people would stop being lazy and use its full name.

The Aventador might be one of the newest models to emerge for Sant’Agata, but it has also combined with a enhanced social media presence from Lamborghini. Perhaps Instagram is just the modern replacement for sticking a poster of a Countach on your bedroom wall.


8. Porsche #11.99 million

The 20 most Instagrammed car brands

Identified as one of the most profitable companies in the world, Porsche still manages to somehow avoid appearing too corporate to be liked on Instagram. The brand is booming, and a long way from the potential collapse of the early 1990s.

Enthusiasts will be pleased to note that the 911 is the most hashtagged Porsche according to OSV, rather than the Cayenne or Macan SUVs.


7. Toyota #13.22 million

The 20 most Instagrammed car brands

It’s the second-largest car manufacturer in the world, so the placing of Toyota on the list is a formality. However, that the company is so far up the rankings suggests we shouldn’t automatically assume that it’s products are so anodyne to discourage people from hashtagging them.

Also forget the Corolla, Supra, or MR2, as it’s the American-built Tacoma that gets the most attention on Instagram.


6. Ferrari #13.73 million

The 20 most Instagrammed car brands

We had to double check the figures on this, and we imagine the Italians will be running to the stewards in protest, as Ferrari has been edged out by Mercedes again. Still, sixth place in the rankings isn’t too much to complain about.

OSV’s figures had the 599 as the most popular Ferrari model on Instagram, although our research suggests the iconic F40 actually has more tags. That’s all the excuse we need to roll out the retro model from the 1980s again.


5. Mercedes #13.78 million

The 20 most Instagrammed car brands

Simply using the hashtag Mercedes on Instagram can open the door to a wide array of contenders. Be that the Mercedes-Benz name itself, the racier Mercedes-AMG sub-brand, or simply people bestowed with the name Mercedes.

The most popular model is also #MercedesAMG it seems, which leaves the door open for a number of cars. We’ve gone with the thundering Mercedes-AMG GT R supercar here.


4. Audi #13.91 million

The 20 most Instagrammed car brands

German behemoth Audi sneaks ahead of Mercedes, even though we can’t imagine many children sharing a name with the Ingolstadt brand. As such, this must be on pure car popularity alone, and a reminder of how far the company has come in recent years.

On the data supplied by OSV, the Audi Q7 SUV was listed as the most hashtagged model. However, our own research suggests that the R8 supercar gets far more attention. It’s also prettier, too.


3. Ford #17.12 million

The 20 most Instagrammed car brands

Taking the bronze medal in the list of the most hashtagged car brands is one that has a truly global appeal. The scale and reach of the Ford name is staggering, so that fans are happily taking photos and tagging the Blue Oval should be a certainty.

The Mustang being the most popular model should also be no surprise. Immediately identifiable, and now offered in more markets than ever, muscle car love is a given.


2. Honda #22.78 million

The 20 most Instagrammed car brands

As another vast corporation producing virtually anything with an engine, and even some things without, Honda has the potential to attract a lot of attention with ease. But let us not underplay the following that cars like the NSX and Civic Type-R have with enthusiasts.

Tellingly it’s the Civic that gets the most hashtags. A long time favourite of the modified car scene across the world, the keen marketing of the latest Civic Type R will undoubtedly have helped channel attention to Instagram.


1. BMW #29.26 million

The 20 most Instagrammed car brands

We’ve reached the end of the list, and BMW is a clear winner with almost 30 million individual hashtags on Instagram. Maybe the short name helps avoid typographical errors, or maybe it’s that owners really do just love the ‘ultimate driving machine’.

We’ve departed again from OSV’s most popular model data, which suggested that ‘bmw5’ was the winner. A little digging finds over a million hashtags for the BMW M3, and this eye-searingly orange M3 GTS seems a much better place to end.


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Land Rover Discovery Sport Landmark special edition

Land Rover Discovery Sport Landmark celebrates sales landmark

Land Rover Discovery Sport Landmark special editionLand Rover sold 126,078 Discovery Sport vehicles in 2017: this is more in a single year than any Land Rover in the firm’s 70-year history. To mark this, the 4×4 company has decided to launch a new Landmark special edition, priced from £40,400.

The Discovery Sport Landmark is offered in three colours, Narvik Black, Corris Grey and Yulong White. All three get a unique Carpathian Grey contrast roof and Graphite Atlas detailing.

Unique Gloss Dark Grey 19-inch alloys are fitted, as is a more dynamic front bumper (the air intakes are larger); inside, grained Ebony leather seats are standard, along with a dark Ebony roofliner. Land Rover’s also chucked in dark satin grey aluminium dash trim, a panoramic roof, heated steering wheel and a Meridian sound system as standard.

All Discovery Sport Landmark models are powered by the same 180hp 2.0-litre TD4 engine, and come with a nine-speed automatic gearbox as standard. Average economy of 43.5mpg is claimed, and both five- and seven-seat variants are offered; the former does 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds, the latter dipping a little to 9.2 seconds.

Why are people flocking to the Discovery Sport? Because, says Land Rover’s global product marketing director Finbar McFall, “it demonstrates the breadth of Land Rover’s ability, offering unrivalled all-terrain capability with the versatility for up to seven people and a premium interior”.

Since its launch in 2014, he adds, more than 350,000 Discovery Sports have been sold globally: the 2017 production record was marked on 30 April, Land Rover’s official 70th birthday, when the Discovery Sport became the first Land Rover built that day.

The vehicle will now be used to support a number of Land Rover community projects, the first of which will be in Scotland starting in June.

Robert Llewellyn with a Jaguar I-Pace

Silverstone prepares for Britain’s biggest-ever EV show

Robert Llewellyn with a Jaguar I-PaceMore than 50 electric and electrified cars will go on show at Silverstone next weekend (9th and 10th June) at the inaugural Fully Charged Live motorshow – a gathering that organisers promise will be the largest number of electric vehicles ever assembled in Britain.

First-look cars include the new Jaguar I-Pace and Nissan Leaf, the Tesla Model S ‘Shooting Brake’, plus converted EV curious such as a Ferrari 308 GT, 1965 Fiat 500 and a Jaguar XJ-S.

Every new electric and electrified vehicle currently on sale in Britain will be there, promise the organisers. 

Red Dwarf star, Scrapheap Challenge presenter and Fully Charged founder Robert Llewellyn is the man behind Silverstone’s Fully Charged live show. “It’s been an exciting few months since we announced Fully Charged Live,” he explained, “and the list of exhibitors, speakers, sponsors and vehicles that will be on show and the volume of tickets sold is incredible.

“The Fully Charged team have worked tirelessly to include the ingredients that our audience love in a live format and we’re really looking forward to welcoming them on the 9th and 10th June.”

There will be a number of live sessions, presented by Llewellyn and fellow TV colleagues Jonny Smith (Fifth Gear) and Helen Czerski (From Ice to Fire). The idea is to educate visitors about the electric car scene, with sessions including ‘introduction to owning an electric vehicle’ and ‘generating your own heat and power at home’.  

There’s also an ‘ask the experts’ area, a hospitality zone and plenty of things for kids to do while their parents gen up on whether an EV is for them.

Fully Charged was a concept born on YouTube: in eight years, 300 shows have gone live, now viewed by two million people a month. The Fully Charged Live show is the first step in the scale-up strategy for Llewellyn’s Fully Charged concept.  

Fully Charged Live 2018

Fully Charged Live electrified vehicle line-up

  • BMW CSi
  • BMW i3
  • BMW i8
  • Ecotricity Nemesis
  • Ferrari 308 GT
  • 1965 Fiat 500
  • Hyundai Ioniq
  • Jaguar I-PACE
  • Jaguar XJS
  • Kia Niro PHEV
  • Kia Soul
  • Land Rover Defender 110
  • Mazda RX8e
  • Mercedes-Benz B-Class
  • Mitsubishi Outlander
  • Morgan EV3
  • Nissan E-NV200
  • Nissan LEAF
  • Peugeot iON EV
  • Classic Range Rover
  • Renault Kangoo
  • Renault Twizy
  • Renault Twizy DELIVER-E
  • Renault Zoe
  • Renault Zoe Signature
  • Renault Zoe Rally
  • Riversimple Rasa
  • Tesla Model S
  • Tesla Model S ‘Shooting Brake’
  • Tesla Model X
  • Volvo S90
  • VW Beetle
  • VW Camper
  • VW e-Golf
  • VW e-up
  • Westfield Protera
  • Zero Motorcycles
Ford Mustang

The most American vehicles of all time

Ford MustangAmerica did not invent the automobile, but no other culture on earth has so completely defined it.  Americans invented new ways for vehicles to be built and sold. Wide open highways demanded the power of V8 engines. Vast distances demanded rock and roll and car radios so we wouldn’t get bored traversing them.

Every passing year and decade brought new models. Some cars had one spectacular year, while others debuted as stars and remain so to this day.

These standout vehicles are more than just cars; they are American icons, like Levi’s or Marilyn Monroe. They are the best of us and our culture. They continue to stand the test of time, and continue to define us.

These are the most American cars of all time.

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Ford Model T

1908 Ford Model T

There can be no list of great American cars without the Model T. At a time when cars were only owned by a wealthy few, Henry Ford set out to put the whole world behind the wheel, and succeeded mightily. Over 15 million examples were made from 1908 to 1927, and even 90 years after production ceased, the T still holds the title of 8th best-selling car of all time.

Over 50,000 examples of the Tin Lizzie are still on the road today.

1938 Buick Y-Job

1938 Buick Y Job

Famed designed Harley Earl developed the Y-Job, the world’s first concept car and a landmark of automotive design. This “Car of the Future” was created to measure public response to its innovative styling and modern features. Power windows, disappearing headlights, flush door handles, and a concealed convertible top all made their debut here.

1932 Ford

1932 Ford Roadster

The “Little Deuce Coupe” of hot rodding legend was famous for one reason: Ford’s flathead V8. Henry longed to put affordable V8 power under the right toe of the nation and had a direct role in the engine’s development. Use of a single casting meant that the unit could be cheaply mass-produced. It was lighter, more powerful, and less expensive than competing engines, and Ford sold more V8 cars than all other competitors combined over the next 21 years.


1955-1983 Jeep CJ-5

Today’s Jeep Wrangler is the direct descendant of the Willys MB, the first production Jeep manufactured for WWII. Reporter Ernie Pyle said of the MB, “It did everything. It went everywhere. Was a faithful as a dog, as strong as a mule, and as agile as a goat. It constantly carried twice what it was designed for and still kept going.” Over 640,000 examples were built for wartime use.

Peace brought the CJ-2 for civilian use, then later the CJ-3, CJ-5, CJ-7, and so on through the years until the Wrangler of today. No matter the year or model, however, Jeeps exemplify ruggedness, adventure, and wide open spaces. Basically, everything we love about America.

Chevy Corvette

1959 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Concept

The crowd went wild in 1953 when Chevrolet debuted the Corvette concept at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. The sleek roadster was inspired by lightweight European sports cars, and Chevy began production in June of that year.

Since then, the Corvette has been the quintessential American sports car, from the brutally powerful Sting Rays of the late 1960s to the mid-engined technological marvel rumored to be unveiled later this year. It has won races all over the world, garnering a well-earned global fan base.

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

Historians, philosophers, nor social scientists can firmly put their fingers on why the 1957 Chevy Bel Air is the ultimate representation of the Fabulous Fifties. The styling was restrained by the standards of the day, but still had fins, Dagmars, two-tone paint, and gobs of chrome. It looked good for more than just one year.

It was what lived under the hood that made it special, though. New for ‘57 was the 238 cubic-inch V8. It had 185 horsepower when paired with a two-barrel carburetor, but could be ordered with a four-barrel, higher compression, and dual exhaust to create the Super Turbo-Fire 283, rated at 220 horsepower. The engine was affordable and easy to hot rod, making it an early performance icon.

Fuel-injected engines out of the Corvette were also on offer that year, the hottest of which was the Ramjet with 283 horsepower on tap. 

So perhaps, historians, philosophers, and social scientists, it wasn’t what the ‘57 Chevy was, but what it could be that made it an icon.

1959 Cadillac Eldorado

1959 Cadillac Eldorado

If Bruce Springsteen, Aretha Franklin, the moon landing, and the Constitution all got together in Vegas one night, their love child would be the 1959 Cadillac Eldorado.

Its long and wide Jet Age styling was resplendent with acres of fins, dual headlights, and chrome that could be seen from space. It was more than six yards long and weighed over two-and-a-half tons. Cubic feet of V8 power under the hood would carry it to over 120 mph, absolutely screaming for the day.

1964 Pontiac GTO

1964 Pontiac GTO

While it looks innocuous enough, the midsize 1964 Pontiac Tempest could be ordered with the 389-cid/6.4-liter engine out of a fullsize Bonneville or Catalina, creating the Pontiac GTO and what is arguably the world’s first true muscle car.

John DeLorean of DeLorean automotive fame had a hand in the vehicle. Stories claim that he is responsible for the “GTO” moniker, which stood for “Grand Tempest Option” rather than “Gran Turismo Omologato,” as found on certain Ferraris of the day.

Car and Driver recorded zero-60 times of 4.6 seconds, making the GTO one of the fastest Pontiacs of all time.

Ford Mustang

1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302

The original pony car was of course, the Ford Mustang. It debuted at the World’s Fair in 1964 and went on sale in April of that year as a 1965 model. It was originally intended to appeal to women, but its modern looks, low price, and aggressively “cool” marketing were universally popular.

Its light weight and available V8 power doused the Mustang in sporty appeal, and the Shelby high-performance variants gave it credibility. Late Sixties models had massive muscle car engines shoved under their hoods, and the Mustang legend was cemented.

Throughout the following decades, the Mustang retained its position as a pop culture icon, but the 2005 debut of retro styling caught the public’s full attention once again.

Today, the Mustang is the best-selling sports coupe on the planet.

Ford F-150

1978 Ford F-150 Ranger

The spiritual successor to the Model T, Ford’s F-150 has been a perennial best-seller since it debuted in 1975 as a F-100 and F-250. The new truck was roomy, comfortable, and easy to live with while still being rugged and capable. Air conditioning and disc brakes were offered, as well the SuperCab.

The latest F-150s are lightweight aluminum and powered by highly-efficient, turbocharged engines. The design was nothing short of revolutionary when it debuted for 2015, and clearly declared Ford’s determination to continue leading the truck world. The weight savings improved handling, gas mileage, and capability, making the truck friendlier than ever.

1994 Dodge Ram

1994 Dodge Ram 1500 4x2

Dodge had been languishing on the bottom of the pickup sales charts for years. In 1993, the company had just seven percent market share.

A complete redesign for 1994 changed everything. The “big rig” styling was an instant and runaway success. The new interior was roomier and had industry-first reclining seats. The engines had better horsepower and torque than comparable units from Ford or Chevy, plus a V-10 option (beginning midyear) or the venerable Cummins diesel.

The new Ram was named Motor Trend’s “Truck of the Year” award for 1994. Sales tripled in the first year, from 78,000 to 240,000.  In 1996, 480,000 Ram pickups were sold.

Jeep Wagoneer

Jeep Wagoneer Concept

The world domination of the SUV is owed to the Jeep Wagoneer (1963-1991). It was a family car, long and low like a station wagon. It could be had with air conditioning, power steering, and an easy-to-drive automatic transmission.

And it was a four-wheel drive.

Full-time four-wheel drive was introduced in 1973, and Jeep coined the phrase “sport utility vehicle” for the Cherokee version in 1974. Over the years, the Wagoneer became more and more a luxury vehicle, with car-like amenities and ride. While the luxury SUV segment is usually attributed to the British, the Wagoneer beat the Range Rover to the American market by 24 years. 

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

Electric cars were once the sole domain of bearded hippies with boring agendas. Then Elon Musk came along and created the Tesla Model S, the world’s first electric luxury supercar.

Acceleration is unrivalled in anything outside of science fiction, just 2.28 seconds to get from zero-60. The futuristic interior is minimalist and cool, dominated by acres of sleek touchscreen for information and control.

Then, of course, there’s the autonomous driving mode. Tesla unleashed it on the world before legislation or laws were even thought to be necessary, completely disrupted the status quo, and created a public demand that could not be silenced.

The Model S (and the company that made it) is a trailblazer determined to go its own way. What could be more American than that?

Zipcar Volkswagen e-Golf

325 electric Volkswagen e-Golfs up for hire in London

Zipcar Volkswagen e-GolfCar-sharing company Zipcar has ordered 325 all-electric Volkswagen e-Golfs for London members. The new cars will be available to hire through the new Zipcar Flex service, which allows ‘drive and drop’ one-way vehicle rentals.

The expansion into fully-electric e-Golfs is a development of Zipcar’s existing Volkswagen deal, which has seen the car-share firm run plug-in hybrid Golf GTEs for the past two years. “Thousands” of people have since got behind the wheel.

It’s Volkswagen’s 2017 revisions to the e-Golf that seem to have encouraged Zipcar to go EV. The car’s range was improved to 186 miles on the NEDC cycle, which VW says translates into a realistic real-world range of 124 miles – meaning the cars can viably be used as daily drivers without the need for frequent recharges.

A larger capacity lithium ion battery – up from 24.2 kWh to 35.8 kWh – also helps the latest e-Golf deliver 15 percent more power, and run from 0-62mph in 9.6 seconds.

Zipcar Volkswagen e-Golf

Volkswagen UK director Alison Jones is excited by the deal. “Thousands of Zipcar members will experience electric driving, perhaps for the first time, and we know they will love the functionality and ease of use that the all-electric e-Golf provides.”

The UK importer’s head of marketing, Geraldine Ingham, said there was evidence inner-city residents are looking for new alternatives to car ownership – they like the flexibility of cars, but not the complications of actually owning one.

“This development of the relationship between Volkswagen and Zipcar offers the best of both worlds: the benefits of access to a car and zero emission motoring across the UK’s capital.”

Zipcar Volkswagen e-Golf

Zipcar UK general manager Jonathan Hampson says the deal is another key milestone for Zipcar and “another step towards our vision for a greener London where car sharers outnumber car owners, making our amazing city an even better place to live for all”.

Londoners can now sign up for a Zipcar UK account online, and then rent one of the new e-Golfs either online or via the firm’s app.

Audi E-tron virtual door mirrors

Audi e-tron to get world-first virtual door mirrors

Audi E-tron virtual door mirrorsFor what seems like decades, concept cars have been shown with fancy, tiny ‘virtual’ door mirrors. Only to then make production looking largely identical – save for the addition of massive ‘Dumbo ears’ on each door. But now, Audi is making every concept car designer’s dream a reality, with the world’s first production-ready virtual door mirrors.

They’re appearing on the new Audi e-tron, which will be revealed this summer ahead of production starting later this year. At this stage, they’ll be a (likely expensive) option, rather than standard fit, but it’s still proof that Vorsprung durch Technik is alive and well after all at Audi.

The firm says they’re much narrower than normal door mirrors – they reduce the overall width of the e-tron by a healthy 150mm. They also reduce drag and, most noticeably, significantly reduce wind noise.

So how do they work? Via built-in cameras, which feed to high-resolution OLED displays mounted between the dashboard and the door. 

Audi says they adapt to different driving situations, displaying three different views through the MMI system – there are bespoke displays for motorway driving, turning and parking. 

We’ll get more details of Audi’s virtual door mirrors in the build-up to the car’s official release in the coming months – including details of how Audi’s going to overcome European legislation that still mandates at least one physical exterior rear-view mirror (Japan has, however, already altered legislation to allow cameras instead of mirrors: others are expected to follow its lead). 

For now, listen carefully and you’ll probably hear the cheers in advanced car design studios across the world…

Land Rover Discovery off-road

Land Rover is developing self-driving off-roaders

Land Rover Discovery off-roadLand Rover used to say it is the best 4x4xfar. Now it aims to move this claim into the autonomous age by developing vehicles that drive themselves off-road, with the launch of a new all-terrain autonomous programme called CORTEX.

The ambitious project has been announced with £3.7 million of funding, to develop vehicles that can drive themselves no matter what the weather and terrain – this includes dirt, rain, ice, snow and fog. Today’s driver-assist technology is frequently disabled when it rains: Land Rover aims to overcome this.

But it’s even more complex than that. The autonomous systems need to be able to read all types of terrain, no matter how steep, uneven or extreme. This is why the core of the project is the development of the world’s first ‘5D’ technology: it is this that will enable highest-level Level 4 and Level 5 off-road autonomy.

Land Rover says 5D will combine acoustic, video, radar, light detection and distance sensing tech in real time, with the addition of machine learning to help the vehicle improve and get more sophisticated over time.

“It is important that we develop our self-driving vehicles with the same capability and performance customers expect from all Jaguars and Land Rovers,” said Jaguar Land Rover’s connected and autonomous vehicle research manager Chris Holmes.

“Self-driving is an inevitability for the automotive industry… CORTEX gives us the opportunity to work with some fantastic partners whose expertise will help us realise this vison in the near future.”

Land Rover will now work on the algorithm development, sensor optimisation and physical testing at off-road tracks throughout Britain – in association with the University of Birmingham and machine learning experts Myrtle AI.