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Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 Review

What’s it all about?

As part of Mercedes-AMG’s compact car offering, the CLA 45 is the company’s stove-hot, ultra-fast, small-sized steroidal sedan. It’s the most potent CLA-Class vehicle you can buy today, pinning you into its lush bucket seats at full noise, with a streetwise look via its sporty body kit and big 19-inch alloy wheels.

The CLA-Class was updated ( in August 2016 with equipment upgrades, a subtle new look and a power boost for the AMG CLA 45. The AMG’s wild 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine adding 15kW and 25Nm for a total of 280kW and 475Nm – making it the world’s most potent 2.0-litre production car engine.

With an all-wheel drive setup with enough snatch and grab to accelerate to 100km/h in 4.2sec, but claims to offer fuel consumption of just 7.4L/100km, the stylish sedan can switched between brutal and banal at the touch of a button.

Regular readers will know I’m not the best at achieving low fuel economy figures but my week-long drive resulted in 12.8L/100km, which isn’t bad considering how easily you can point and shoot this machine.

How much will it cost?

Pegged at $92,215, the 2017 Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 is $2715 more than the 2016 model and is quite a stretch from the entry-level CLA’s $52,500. You get a three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty and plenty of fruit with the car, including semi-automated driving functions (acceleration, braking, steering) via adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistants.

Some of the other standard features include the AMG Driver’s Package and Performance Seats (feels sporty), AMG Performance Exhaust (sounds sporty), AMG high-performance braking system (stops sportily), plus a Harmon Kardon Logic 7 surround sound audio system with top-shelf infotainment and sat nav.

It’s a beautiful car to sit in and makes you feel like a prince (or princess) with a stylish and utterly opulent fit out. I love the touch-points too. The AMG gear-shifter and steering wheel are luscious, while crimson seat belts and scarlet highlights throughout add a little razzle-dazzle.

There are a few downsides to the cabin. Cheap plastic temperature dials are a hangover from the A-Class’s $30,000 budget car origins, and manual adjustment of the steering wheel is disappointing. The lack of a 360-degree parking camera ain’t great either… with shiny wheels like these, a reverse camera isn’t enough!

Why should I buy it?

In my view it’s not the best value-for-money performance car you can get for nearly $100,000, but it’s exceedingly fast, it’s surprisingly loud (though there are “quiet” modes) and hugely entertaining across a range of scenarios. The way it snarls and barks when you’re giving it heaps is awfully immersive and turns heads quicker than zombie flash mob.

It blitzes the traffic light duels and straight-line sprints with intensity, its seven-speed dual-clutch paddle-shift gearbox visceral control of engine speeds. It rips up winding coastal roads too, attacking apexes with gusto and rocketing from point-to-point with startling pace.

There is a touch of understeer at the limit and it can be a bit firm on crumbly roads but overall it’s a cracker to drive. The cabin is Tuetonic sportiness at its best and the exterior is stylish too, all of which conspire to make this a satisfying vehicle to look at, touch and drive.

When is it available in Australia?

The car is already on sale locally and for buyers who prefer a wagon there’s the long sausage version too, only it’s a called a Shooting Brake ( A high-tech German car with a quintessentially 19th-century moniker? No doubt the British aristocracy will be chuffed!

Despite having a more flexible load space the wagon is same price, $92,215. So unless you have to have the swoopy-coupy look (which is pretty slick) the wagon is the judicious choice.

Mercedes-Benz is working on the next-generation 2.0-litre banzai motor ( for the next A, CLA, and GLA-Class vehicles that will reach 300kW, but these vehicles are unlikely to emerge until 2018 before going on sale around 2019.

Who will it appeal to?

Well people like me I reckon. Active lifestyle, enjoy the beach, going to bars, pretty hip and happening really. In all seriousness, there’s broad-spectrum demographic appeal here, from young executives and IT professionals through to mature aged rev heads.

Given the almost six figure price tag buyers are likely to be either successful business people and/or criminals who want something small enough to get around town but with enough mumbo to eat up open road miles too.

Realistically it can accommodate four adult passengers, but there’s seating for five. It’s got a certain level of pragmatism and although rear-seat head and leg-room is tight for taller sorts, the boot is surprisingly deep for a car of this size.

Not that I’m suggesting putting bodies in the boot… But they would fit. Anyway, the AMG has a very useful 470 litres is just 10 shy of the bigger BMW 3 Series’ 480-litre boot.

Where does it fit?

If I was standing in a car dealership showroom having a squiz at this car, I’d call it a small sedan with big muscles. According to VFACTS, the group that records Australian new car sales, it’s a “medium-sized car above $60,000”.

Considering you can buy a regular CLA-Class car for under $60,000 and that it’s 22cm shorter than the best-selling medium car in Australia, the Toyota Camry, I think my definition is far more apt.

Then again, Benz calls this car a coupe, which is just as confusing, considering it has four doors and is clearly not a coupe. Nevertheless, it’s an absolutely bottle rocket with lashings of luxury for good measure.

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Motorists now face 80 fine and penalty points for driving too close to cyclists

1 Cyclist Phil Skelton (left) Government chief whip Regina Doherty and TD Ciarán Cannon (right) promote their 1.5 metre bill Motorists are to face fines and penalty points for driving too close to cyclists under a radical new law sought by Fine Gael. The move comes after 20 cyclists have died on Irish roads in the past two years. Under the planned law drivers will face 80 fines and three penalty points slapped on their licences if they are caught encroaching on cyclists road space. Fines of up to 1500 and five penalty points would be imposed if an incident ends up in court and results in a conviction. The minimum passing distance would be set at 1.5 metres on roads with speed limits of more than 50kmh. A distance of one metre would apply on streets and roads with lower speed limits. The Road Traffic (Minimum Passing Distance of Cyclists) Bill 2017 is being published today by Fine Gael TDs Ciarán Cannon and Regina Doherty the Government chief whip. They are seeking the support of Transport Minister Shane Ross and the transport spokespersons of other political parties for the law they want to see passed before the Dáils summer recess. Earlier this month Mr Ross told an Oireachtas committee he was aware Ms Doherty was working on a bill in relation to cyclists and the legislation would be considered once its brought forward. Mr Ross said his officials were also working on a measure to create a special offence of dangerously overtaking cyclists adding: I believe that they need protection. The campaign for a minimum distance law Stayin Alive at 1.5 was set up by Wexford cyclist Phil Skelton who felt compelled to take action when two local cyclists were killed following incidents with motorists. He contacted Mr Cannon whos a keen cyclist. The Galway East TD said a worrying amount of drivers seem to have a no contact no harm attitude. He pointed to the number of deaths of cyclists in recent years and said: It is no longer acceptable to expose our cyclists to huge risks on our roads this law sets out to significantly reduce those risks. Ms Doherty said the number of cyclists was increasing. We all need to share the roads and to do that they must be made safer. The only way to do this is to introduce a minimum passing distance law she said. Such laws have been passed in France Belgium Portugal Canada and Australia as well as half of the US states. Mr Cannon said a number of mechanisms have been used in other jurisdictions to enforce similar laws. He said footage from cyclists own bike-mounted cameras had been used in Australian courts while special equipment had been deployed by US police forces. The device measures the lateral space around the cyclist and is used by police officers on bikes to catch motorists breaching minimum distance laws. Mr Cannon said he did not want to drive a wedge between cyclists and motorists but that he was seeking the law to raise awareness of the issue and change the behaviour of drivers who did not consider cyclists while overtaking. He gave the examples of the smoking ban and plastic bag tax as measures that previously changed public behaviour. This is about effecting a cultural change in Ireland so that every driver is aware of the vulnerability of cyclists young and old and drive accordingly he said. Ms Doherty said: Once a safe passing distance is legislated for we need to significantly raise awareness of this law by amending the Rules of the Road and funding new public awareness campaigns. Read more: The post Motorists now face 80 fine and penalty points for driving too close to cyclists appeared first on via Cash For Cars - Locations

Hydrogen on the M25 brings Britain closer to zero-carbon motoring were first to try the new pump

The first hydrogen filling station has arrived on a mainstream motorway forecourt but can the technology live up to the hype? CREDIT: ANDREW CROWLEY It seems like a no-brainer. An internal combustion engine burns dwindling reserves of fossil fuels to propel a car forwards in a cloud of poisonous smoke. A fuel cell on the other hand uses the most abundant atom in the universe to silently drive powerful electric motors. The exhaust emissions? Pure drinkable water. Hydrogen sounds almost too good to be true like something out of a Sixties sci-fi paperback. But from where Im sitting the drivers seat of a Toyota fuel cell vehicle about to fill it up at a motorway fuel station the future seems to have arrived. Im using the UKs newest hydrogen pump opened this week at Cobham services on the M25. Its the unlikely epicentre of a green revolution. This isnt the first hydrogen filling station in the UK but its the first on a motorway the first on a public forecourt and the first one that might actually encourage private buyers to choose a hydrogen car. Its built owned and operated by Sheffield-based energy tech company ITM Power which has worked closely with oil giant Shell to bring the project online. This welcome addition to the M25 is ITMs third such site and one that the firm is clearly very proud of. Its a great moment for ITM says CEO Dr Graham Cooley. Weve been planning this for a very long time. The hydrogen installation itself is fairly nondescript a small cluster of machinery located a few metres to the south of Shells main canopy. I slip the Mirai into a parking space marked H2 in front of the pump unsure of how far a hydrogen hose is happy to stretch. Its a bit reminiscent of the LPG pumps that threatened to become popular a decade ago albeit much more slick. A small payment machine sits adjacent to the pump. I give it my special charge card tap my pin number into the touchscreen and after a few moments Im ready to refuel. The hose itself is armoured with quite a heavy nozzle. It has a unique unwieldiness but is easy to attach to the car and is far cleaner than anything on the fossil fuel side of the forecourt. The interface between the car and the pump is also more intelligent than most motorists are used to an infrared connection allows the filling station to communicate with the tank in a way that improves both safety and efficiency. Attaching the filler nozzle is easy CREDIT: ANDREW CROWLEY I couple the hose to the car with a satisfying squeeze of the trigger. I can then let go its a closed system for obvious reasons and all I need to do now is press an illuminated green button. Its exceptionally simple and seems to solve many of the problems dirtiness inexactitude spillages etc encountered when refuelling a traditional car. The pump automatically stops when the tank is full which takes a couple of minutes. Ive put in 0.7kg of hydrogen which costs me 7. In terms of miles per pound these figures make the Mirai broadly comparable to a similarly-sized petrol car and hydrogens price at the pump is poised to plummet. Im delighted to have been the first to use the new facility and excited by how user-friendly hydrogen motoring is but the consumer interface is arguably its least interesting feature. The most important part of this installation is around the corner behind some 10ft security fencing. Here lies the electrolyser the machine that actually takes water and electricity to make hydrogen and the beating heart of this environmental revolution. The 700 Bar nozzle pictured here is the international standard CREDIT: ANDREW CROWLEY The technology we have allows us to access renewable power and generate a zero-carbon fuel says Dr Simon Bourne ITM Powers CTO. The electrolyser here at Cobham is designed to use excess renewable energy effectively spare electricity made by wind farms and similar at times of day when it outstrips the countrys demand. The National Grid itself can tell the electrolyser when to activate and the equipment can start and stop in about half a second.That means that its theoretically possible for the hydrogen generated here to use no fossil fuels at all something that gives the fuel cell vehicle a considerable environmental edge over normal plug-in electric vehicles (EVs). What were doing is generating renewable hydrogen on-site says Bourne. And thats very important because while hydrogen always gives you minimal emissions when its used you also need to consider the wider picture. So sites like Cobham can generate zero-carbon hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles literally emit drinking water. Im curious as to why its taken so long for this technology to emerge when it clearly solves some of the worlds most deadly problems. Its similar to using an LPG system but better CREDIT: ANDREW CROWLEY There was a concerted effort to push hydrogen as a fuel especially in California around 10 or 15 years ago says Matthew Tipper Shells VP of New Fuels. At that time refuelling and vehicle tech was too immature to be commercially viable. Whats changed in the past 10 years is that the technology has gradually been improved. Installing a hydrogen pump used to require a major rebuild of the forecourt. Now it can be made off-site and delivered in a shipping container on the back of a truck as a completely functioning refuelling station. Thats made it simpler and cheaper to make this technology available. The pressure gauge indicates when the cars tank is getting full CREDIT: ANDREW CROWLEY Its also a question of being able to make or produce component parts using less material the amount of platinum used as a catalyst in a fuel-cell vehicle (FCV) has decreased tenfold in the past ten years. Platinum is the most expensive part of the fuel cell. Theres still a journey ahead in reducing cost but were in a much better place than we were 10years ago. A Toyota Mirai owner in London now has a small selection of hydrogen filling stations to choose from but that number can currently be counted on one hand. Given the immense cost of building hydrogen filling stations and the minuscule number of fuel cell vehicles currently on the road this technology is barely in its second trimester. Theres a degree of chicken-or-egg to it too as buyers are unmotivated to buy into such fledgling infrastructure. We really do need a sufficient number of stations available to the public before its reasonable to expect the public to buy significant numbers of vehicles says Tipper. Were of the view that the stations come first. If we can achieve a critical number of sites and vehicles well deliver economies of scale for the industry in order to bring down cost. Were interested in the first 1000 stations worldwide. If the industry can achieve that number split equally over Europe west coast US Japan and Korea that will be sufficient scale to bring down cost and for vehicle production to scale up too. The next 10 years is a critical period for hydrogen to deliver that cost curve. Read more: The post Hydrogen on the M25 brings Britain closer to zero-carbon motoring were first to try the new pump appeared first on via Cash For Cars - Locations

Safety scheme hailed as crash tests show advances in car design over 20 years

Two family cars have been crash tested to mark the 20th anniversary of a European safety scheme. A 1997 Rover 100 and a 2017 Honda Jazz were put through a head-on collision at 40mph to demonstrate the advances in safety since the Euro New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) was launched in February 1997. The cars after being crash-tested at Thatcham Research in Berskshire Former Formula One boss Max Mosley the first chairman of Euro NCAP said thousands of fatalities have been prevented as a result of its introduction. The Rover had no airbags to protect c rash test dummies in its passenger seats during the test which destroyed the front of the vehicle. The model was given a one-star rating when it was first tested 20 years ago and was withdrawn from sale just months later. There was much less damage to the modern Honda which had airbags deployed throughout the interior of the car. It was rated five stars for safety. Thatcham Research which hosts the UKs only Euro NCAP testing facility in Thatcham Berkshire said safety improvements fuelled by rigorous testing have delivered a 63% reduction in the number of car occupants killed or seriously injured each year from 23000 in 1997 to 8500 in 2015. Over the same period the number of pedestrians and cyclists killed or seriously injured annually has fallen by 41% from 14500 to 8500. Manufacturers initially opposed Euro NCAP claiming it was too strict and that no car could ever achieve a four-star rating. Today nine out of 10 cars sold in Europe hold a Euro NCAP rating. Mr Mosley said: Twenty years on from what started as a controversial programme rejected by manufacturers and supposedly aiming for unrealistic safety standards Euro NCAP is now firmly part of the automotive mainstream. Thousands of fatalities have been prevented consumer demand for safety is high manufacturers compete on safety rating results and vehicle safety standards continue to improve. AA president Edmund King recalled his horror at witnessing a Rover 100 being tested 20 years ago. He told the Press Association: These tests were dramatic. The Rover 100 was described as having improved safety features it had side impact bars and an optional driver airbag but my first sight of the car after the frontal crash test made me shake and feel sick. Even today looking at the pictures of the half-squashed Rover makes me feel uneasy. Mr King said the introduction of Euro NCAP has led to safety improvements as significant as those brought about by seatbelts and breathalysers. Thatcham Research chief executive Peter Shaw called for future safety improvements to be aimed at avoiding crashes such as automated emergency braking to be fitted as standard on all UK cars. He said: The focus now is all about crash prevention making sure that Britains roads continue to become even safer not just for car occupants but for every road user. We have come a long way since the days when manufacturers met only the most basic mandatory safety requirements but we must continue to apply pressure. Read more: The post Safety scheme hailed as crash tests show advances in car design over 20 years appeared first on via Cash For Cars - Locations

How Ireland is shaping the future of connected cars

The day when you can rent your own car out for short hire when youre not using it is fast approaching. We are fast entering the sharing and bartering society. Airbnb decisions by An Bord Pleanála notwithstanding has shown how those unused spare rooms and those sparsely-used holiday homes can be turned into low-level profit centres. The same is slowly happening with cars. Already Uber and Lyft ride-sharing services are fast overtaking regular taxi firms and while short-term micro-rentals are largely handled thus far by corporations the day when you can rent your own car out for short hire when youre not using it is fast approaching. What though if you could make money when your car is parked up and going nowhere? If you could find a way to gain something either a small bit of extra cashflow or maybe rewards such as free wifi access or discounts on products without having to take the risk of loaning your car to a complete stranger? Welcome to the world of the connected car. Now the connected car is often conflated with the autonomous self-driving car. Many of us have assumed at one time or another that the two terms are roughly interchangeable. However Dr Wendy Belluomini the American-born director of IBMs research laboratory at its campus to the west of Dublin quickly put me straight on my technological faux pas. The connected car isnt exactly a necessary step on the road to automation. The technologies around the connected car are about making the driving experience better. What you have to remember is that if were going to build a car that works all the time as an autonomous car its got to work without connectivity she said. Most of the intelligence for how the car reacts how it functions how it avoids obstacles that has to be in the car physically. Youre not going want to go up to a cloud to ask should I avoid this truck? Other things like routes and where should I go and so on that can be part of the connected car. But the safety-critical autonomous drive capability that has to be built into the car because if wifi or cellular towers go down youre suddenly going to have all these cars that cant function. While IBM is hard at work on those self-same autonomous fully robotic cars (including the Olli self-driving taxis that whisk IBM employees around its facilities in Washington Miami and Las Vegas) the work in Ireland is more on the connected car on not just how to hook our cars up to The Internet Of Things but to make them productive members of that internet even when theyre sitting still. Martin Mevissen the research staff manager picks up the point. To give one example of the more connected car project we worked on one particular project involving parked cars. In a city in Dublin city there are parked cars everywhere and theyre maybe considered a nuisance. But we started to think of them as a resource thats not really being used at the moment he told The Irish Times. Cars are parked 95 per cent of the time during the day and they are more and more equipped with sensors computing power batteries etc and all thats unused when theyre parked. So what we looked at was are there not services we can deliver from these cars that could be of use to the driver or other road users. So how can we use parked cars to make everyones lives easier? So for example you could use parked cars to detect via their onboard cameras and parking sensors empty parking spaces in the vicinity. So if there are lots of cars parked up already you can get them to look for the free spaces and you can transmit that information to somebody driving downtown. So given the size of your own car and using the information gathered by the parked cars we can detect where there are parking spaces suitable for your car near your destination. How many there are what radius around your destination they are in. So it makes it easier to find parking spaces and there is less traffic driving around looking for spaces. Of course there could then be the problem that too many of us will be converging on too few spaces but IBMs concern is the technology not the settling of kerb-side arguments. The research goes further than hooking up existing systems though as IBM is working towards a total change in the way we interact with our cars. So the car is really the ultimate Internet of Things device. Compared to your phone which is pretty powerful when it comes to being a connected device a car is potentially hugely more powerful and can be fitted with more sensors and most of all it has this big battery says Belluomini. Because thats the problem with your phone right? Its always running out of battery but a car has a big battery and enough to turn your engine over and start the car. So compared to the kind of power levels that sensors and cameras need theres a lot of excess power there so you can keep sensors and other things active in a parked car and use that as a mobile Internet of Things infrastructure. You dont have to route all this through your phone. In fact the car industry would probably rather it didnt go through the phone at all theyd rather it would be part of the car and your phone would just connect and give your status to the car and you just leave your phone in your pocket. So if a car is interacting with its driver verbally through natural speech its going to be much less distracting than having a phone and looking down at it for a map or something. We all do that now because its better than not having connectivity at all but the distraction aspect is really bad. But a car is this huge enveloping interface and you shouldnt be trying to interact with the car through this little screen on your phone. I just think it makes sense that the car being such a powerful platform will take on a lot of those functions. The reason why were doing it on our phones so much is because the technology turns over so much faster in the phone industry. The car industry has much longer lifetimes and a longer road map for getting technology into the car. There are of course serious concerns over the sudden ramp-up of connected technology in our cars and the vulnerability that brings when it comes to things such as hacking and denial-of-service attacks from unscrupulous cyber-criminals. There have been several high-profile cases of late of cars being hacked and controlled even from several miles away but Belluomini is confident that such issues will be overcome. The attacks against cars on-board systems that have been successful so far have mostly been researchers showing that its possible she said. I have not seen nor heard of an actual malicious attack being successful in the wild. Largely those were succeeding because the infrastructure thats currently in the cars was never designed to be connected. The architecture thats currently in cars really dates back to the 1990s so when that was designed there was no intention for it to be connected to the internet. It just wasnt in anybodys minds that there would be sufficient bandwidth to connect these things. But I think thats going to change its already changing. As the car industry realises and theyve already realised to a great extent that they want to put connectivity in their cars theyre quickly ramping up to build the vehicle infrastructure from the ground up to make sure that those kinds of attacks arent going to work. The things that are being done now the attacks are all working on the basic assumption that once youre in the car there wouldnt be any need for security nor any connectivity. So the bar that researchers have had to get over in security terms so far has been pretty low. So yes we have to do that to ramp up security but thats already happening. Look at Tesla. They had a researcher say that the car could be broken into electronically and they had an update rolled out within 10 days to close that hole. So its really great that the researchers are out there doing those things because theyre showing us what needs to be done. There is an assumption deep within the high-tech and indeed the automotive community that the drive towards the greater connectivity and automation of the car is down to the fact that interest in mechanical things is waning and people simply want their cars to be extensions of their mobile devices. Belluomini puts me straight on that too; shes a proper car nut. I think its a generational thing. I like cars personally. When I moved here I bought a little BMW 2 Series coupe which Im enjoying. So I dont imagine that Ill ever see a car as just a thing which gets me from place to place. But I can see that that is somewhat changing among younger people and I see the enthusiasm waning. I remember turning 16 on the Sunday and being in the queue at the motor vehicles department to get my learners permit on the Monday. Maybe that doesnt happen so much any more. It isnt as much an important rite of passage as it once was but I dont think people who like driving as an activity are going to go away were just going to become more of a sub-group. For some people its going to be more about extending their online experience into the car just have that be a smooth transition. I think whats happening and this is not a generational thing is that people now have an expectation that things are going to be easy and intuitive and just work. And weve been taught that by things like the iPad and ordering things from Amazon weve raised the bar of how much unpleasant interface were willing to tolerate. And people get annoyed at things they wouldnt have gotten annoyed at 20 years ago. So I think that the way one interacts with the car is a very important consumer choice. And I think the car makers understand that and the company that comes out first with a truly modern way of interacting with a car that isnt reliant on buttons and dials and trying to work out how to turn on something that you need but is intuitive and the car reacts to you and assists you I think thats going to be a huge competitive advantage for that car maker. People dont tolerate awkward interfaces any more. I dont think were that far away from that point but youll see it in phases itll be an incremental thing. But a small numbers of years not ten or more. Read more: The post How Ireland is shaping the future of connected cars appeared first on via Cash For Cars - Locations

VW designers explore new shapes for EVs

The I.D. hatchback is the first in Volkswagen’s new family of battery-electric vehicles.

Volkswagen is developing a fresh design language for a new generation of purpose-built electric vehicles.

Klaus Bischoff, VW brand’s head of design, said battery packs make it possible to change the fundamental shape of the vehicle. That will lead to vehicles that are taller and have short overhangs, shorter hoods, longer wheelbases, more-raked windshields and bigger passenger compartments.

VW is developing a new family of battery-electric vehicles. The first of at least three models slated for production is expected in 2020.

These cars, starting with the Golf-like I.D. hatchback that debuted in the U.S. at CES in Las Vegas this month, will all be based on the new MEB modular architecture.

Purpose-built electric cars, however, pose different challenges for designers, who have had to account for an engine compartment and long hood. EVs such as the I.D., which goes on sale in 2020, generally are taller than vehicles with internal combustion engines, to accommodate floor-mounted power cells.

“To cope with that we need to correct proportions,” Bischoff said in Detroit this month. “Essential for this is huge wheels, huge in diameter — but also wide.”

Because the need for an engine compartment disappears, the A-pillar can be moved forward substantially. This lets designers shrink the hood to essentially only what is needed to meet crash regulations and pedestrian impact guidelines. This allows the windshield to be inclined at a more level angle for better fluid dynamics, he said.

“To gain the travel distance — range is essential — we need to have outstanding drag coefficients, and this will also influence the shape of the cars quite a bit,” Bischoff said.

With virtually no front to the car, overhangs can be extremely short, maximizing the wheelbase and expanding the passenger compartment. VW designers also pushed the dashboard forward by 5 inches to give even more legroom.

“The I.D. has the interior space of a Passat [midsize] with a footprint smaller than the Golf,” Bischoff said.

Also important for Bischoff is redefining the front of his new EVs, taking a page out of Tesla cars by doing away with the front air vents and curtains initially needed to cool the motor.

“We don’t want a grille,” he explained. “Volks-wagen, if you look back [at the Beetle], was born without a grille. The engine was in the back.”

In the interior, VW designers are shooting for the “ultimate reduction” — eliminating console elements in favor of a tablet and a heads-up display enhanced by augmented-reality.

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Cyber security one of safe bets for tech sector growth in 2017

Smart cars and major improvements around in-car software will start to impact in 2017 THERE were a few notable growth points in tech last year. Wearable technology grew though not as significantly as forecast at the start of the year. FitBit Garmin and Samsung have continued to expand but there were some casualties including Pebble who ended up with its software assets being acquired by FitBit but for a fairly low value of $40million at the end of 2016. I expect further consolidation in 2017 in this area as significant growth cannot continue with the current number of players. Social networking and messaging apps grew and as predicted Snapchat continued to soar in terms of use levels but mainly in the 18 to 24 age group. It is expected to triple its ad revenue to $1billion in 2017. Facebook Google Instagram and WhatsApp amongst others continued to dominate globally with regards to advertising revenues and this is set to continue this year. With respect to 2017 here are some thoughts on what were likely to see hit the headlines in the tech world in the 12 months ahead: Streaming services will continue to grow and displace terrestrial TV channels. The leaders in the market Netflix Amazon Sky and iTunes will continue to dominate. Netflix has surged to a record high recently with a market cap of $62bn. For smaller media production companies it will become increasingly easier to access this huge channel to market. Public Cloud revenues will continue on the same growth track as that of 2016 with Amazon AWS continuing to dominate. It is forecast to have revenues of $16bn in 2017 and some analysts are suggesting that it will have a valuation of $160bn yes 10 times its revenues. That is an astonishing growth path and all competitors are mere minnows by comparison. 2016 was a phenomenal growth year for Virtual Reality (VR) as it started to move into the mainstream. Businesses in numerous sectors are now starting to see practical uses for this continually improving technology. The health sector has embraced VR. On a more local level we are witnessing Northern Ireland manufacturing companies using VR in an amazingly inventive way. CDE Group based in Cookstown is now enabling customers to complete real life inspections of equipment before manufacturing has been completed. Smart home technology will start to become common place and Amazon Echo will play a big role in the modern smart home. According to Echo and its siblings are expected to see a great deal of competition in 2017 the devices overall capabilities in conjunction with the open-ended Skills platform that Amazon created for it are proving a winning combination. Echo will become the key gateway device in the home allowing it to essentially translate between devices that might not otherwise be able to easily work together. This will prove an exciting growth area for other companies to tap into the food chain of home automation. Smart cars and major improvements around in-car software will start to impact in 2017. Expect a lot of announcements and activity around the development of self-driving vehicles but dont expect any domination on the forecourt until at least 2021. In the meantime software like Apples CarPlay or Googles Android Auto and other data-connected systems will add intelligence to any car. Additionally there are some interesting new smart automotive systems like Navdy which adds a heads-up display (HUD) to nearly any vehicle displaying navigation information notifications and more. In 2017 well see more car owners make investments to smarten up their existing vehicles technology experience. Cyber-security will continue to dominate the headlines and a plethora of new technologies and companies will blossom in an attempt to keep the hackers at bay. These hackers are learning to use artificial intelligence to automate their attacks making it even faster for them to break into user accounts. This is big business and we should all expect more and more complex attacks to happen on a more regular basis. For Northern Ireland companies there will continue to be opportunities to participate in these growing markets or to simply use the technologies to improve their business. We know that cyber-security is a particular focus for Northern Ireland Plc and with the global cyber security market estimated to grow to $170 billion annually by 2020 so it should be. Indeed one of the industrys largest international conferences is set to come to Belfast in May of this year. Northern Ireland already tops rankings for US foreign direct investment in cyber and the strength of the cyber cluster that is developing here has started to be recognised in the wider industry. Watch this space in 2017 and beyond. Patrick McAliskey is managing director Novosco an indigenous managed cloud company with offices in Belfast Dublin Cheshire and Cork. It employs 140 people and works for leading organisations across the UK and Ireland including many of Northern Irelands top companies UK health trusts councils and other organisations. Read more: The post Cyber security one of safe bets for tech sector growth in 2017 appeared first on via Cash For Cars - Locations

When Bentley owners are the have-nots

That’s nice, but do you own a sports team?

You’d think Bentley and Bugatti owners would travel in the same social circles. They’re all superrich, right?

Well, Wolfgang Durheimer, CEO of both of the Volkswagen Group-owned brands, makes it sound like the Bentleys and Bugattis live on the other side of the tracks from each other.

Durheimer described the typical owners of each brand at the Automotive News World Congress this month. He said those exceptionally affluent Bentley buyers frequently own their own businesses. They fly first class, stay in the best rooms at five-star hotels and when attending a football game, whether soccer or American football, watch it from the comfort of their own luxury suite at the stadium.

On average, they have eight cars.

But contrast that with Bugatti owners. On average, Durheimer said, they own 64 cars, and when they travel, they fly their own jet or helicopter (they typically have three of each).

They stay in hotels they own, and when they take in a football game, he says, they are usually watching a team that they own.

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Audi workers threaten strike at A3, TT plant in Hungary

A TT Roadster gets a finish and surface check at Audi’s Gyor plant.

BUDAPEST — Audi workers in Hungary have set up a strike committee to push for higher salaries in the latest sign of how labor shortages in the country are driving up wage expectations.

The AHFSZ union said in a statement published on Monday that the most recent management offer was “unacceptable” as it proposed to hike wages gradually, while a previously flagged bonus program was scrapped.

The strike committee aims to continue talks with Audi management, the statement said.

A press official for Audi could not comment immediately.

Audi builds A3 compact sedan and convertible cars and TT sports-car models in Hungary at its plant in Gyor, according to Automotive News Europe‘s European car assembly plant map.

The action by Audi workers follows a December agreement with unions at rival carmaker Daimler’s Hungarian factory that will see base salaries increase by 10 percent in each of the next two years.

The production and export of cars by foreign automakers is a key driver of economic growth in Hungary, where wages for skilled workers are well below Western European levels.

The car sector accounts for more than a quarter of total industrial output in the eastern European Union member.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who faces an election in early 2018, has agreed with employers that the minimum wage will increase by 15 percent this year and another 8 percent in 2018, while the payroll tax will also be lowered.

Gross wages in Hungary rose by 6.2 percent year-on-year in the January-November period. The unemployment rate fell to 4.5 percent, the lowest in at least a decade, in September-November from 4.7 percent in August-October.

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The VLF Automotive X-Series is a reminder that some people just dont know when to quit

At what point during the long process of modifying a vehicle do you come to the realization that enough is enough? Its a murky line that many people pass straight through realizing far too late that the beast theyve created is really just a big and blocky mess of metal plastic and scraps stolen from far better vehicles. Apparently VLF Automotive hasnt quite woken up from the exhaust-fume-induced daydream that is their latest creation the X-Series. Through the cheddar cheese paint the faux Hummer grille and the Brodozer wheels you can make out that this used to be a Chevrolet Colorado. In fact if you look through the rear windows you can see that the Colorados sliding rear glass is still in place. That means this isnt really an SUV but a pickup so loaded with composite bodywork that it sits somewhere between truck and Hot Wheels toy come to life. You see VLF has a history of ruining perfectly fine vehicles. They managed to accomplish something I didnt think was possible: making the Dodge Viper ugly. For all of its many many flaws the one thing that didnt need improving was the Vipers design. Their partnership with Galpin Ford in California produced a less offensive but equally brutalized Rocket V8 out of a Ford Mustang. VLFs third offering makes the most sense. The Destino V8 is the most reasonable vehicle the automaker sells. The looks are only slightly modified from the Fisker Karma from which it comes while the LS9 V8 from the C6 Corvette ZR1 replaces what was a middling hybrid powertrain. But the X-Series really is something awful. Even in VLFs eye scorching booth the big block of cheese really stands out. Aside from the grille and the wheels you can see that VLFs artisans took their time carving and sculpting something that looks like the bastard offspring of the Hummer H3 and the old Lamborghini LM002. The whole thing is simultaneously militaristic and fragile looking likely because its a one-off concept. There are functional bits like the winch in the bumper and the big fender flares that cover the oversized wheels. Those are offset by the odd looking rear door the inexplicable spoiler on the roof the quad exhaust tips and the upright C7 Corvette taillights. The suspension has been slightly upgraded with improved shocks and an increased ride height. We didnt get a good look at the interior but if VLFs other vehicles are any indication expect the most mild of refreshes. Because it was at some point a Colorado customers (of which VLF expects about 250 a year) can have either a 3.6-liter V6 or a 2.8-liter diesel inline-four. Both engines are fine though its unclear how much extra weight the pair may be forced to move around. According to VLF some mild tuning is available for the V6. If everything Ive written here has done nothing to dissuade you and your desire to own one of these I only have two things to say: first I dont think we can be friends; second youll need to pony up the estimated $70000 for one. That may be the most surprising part of the whole vehicle. Usually these horrendous kustom trucks cost well into the six-figure range. By comparison the X-Series is downright reasonable. Read more: The post The VLF Automotive X-Series is a reminder that some people just dont know when to quit appeared first on via Cash For Cars - Locations