Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The X-Factor In Musk's Human Transport Concept Gets A Boost

Hyperloop capsules being loaded with human and luggage cargo for a very quick and insulated trip that will be amongst the fastest type of public/commercial transportation devised by man. Image Credit: Daily Mail via Space X (2014)

The X-Factor In Musk's Human Transport Concept Gets A Boost

While standing in a long line at a Costco Wholesale during the Christmas season holiday, one may notice how communication from the checkout cashpoint to the central management office is accomplished.

The "Checker" at the cashpoint, with the all of the scanners, credit card terminals, and printers, also is equipped with a tube system that allows one to take checks, money, and other paper-based monied communications, place them in a cylinder, which is then placed in the tube and sucked through vacuum pressure where at the other end of the tube, the information is delivered almost instantly. 

Marshall Fields central communications (1947) - Before the invention of phones and fax machines, people in cities sent messages through a huge system of underground tubes filled with compressed air. Image Credit: chuckmanchicagonostalgia.wordpress-dot-com
Management is assured that these communications that result in good profits never become breached from point-to-point due the closed nature of this pneumatic tube system.

A typical Costco Wholesale cashpoint section where the pneumatic tubes of the money transfer system can be seen routed along the ceiling of the store. Image Credit: Flickr
This is the precise idea behind PayPal, Tesla Motors, and Space X founder and CEO Elon Musk. He believes that the findings of a recent 76-page report may go a long way in proving his pneumatic tube proposal/argument that a human transport system such as this vacuum "hyperloop" that is in use at all Costco stores is the future of human mass transportation from point-to-point.

Infographic of the proposed Hyperloop human transport system (video presentation link). Image Credit: via Space X (2014)

This edited and excerpted from USAToday -

Report: Elon Musk's 'hyperloop' idea could work
By Chris Woodyard - 12-22-2014 - USAToday

Enthusiasts behind Elon Musk's "hyperloop" proposal -- an intercity tube that speeds passengers riding in capsules at 600 miles per hour -- have taken the next step, producing a report outlining some of the big issues around the project.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies' 76-page report focuses issues surrounding a system that could connect San Francisco with Los Angeles. The report says, however, that there are many city pairs around the world that would be candidates for a hyperloop.

The 400-plus-mile trip would take less than an hour, compared to more than six hours of driving. The goal is to keep the ticket price in the $20 to $30 range, although the report points out that at total cost estimates of $16 billion, they could go higher. Still, it says, hyperloop would be a bargain compared to alternatives. "If this same overall price point were preserved for other city pairings, it could dramatically change the way people live and work in cities," the report says.
"The Hyperloop design uses a combination of low air pressure and magnetic acceleration to get people from LA to SF in just about 30 minutes," the report says. It would produce its own electricity from solar power.
Passengers would travel in aerodynamic pods the size of vans inside the tube. HTT envisions developing three designs -- one each for luxury passengers, economy economy passengers and freight.
HTT estimates that the cost of the system would be $20 million to $45 million a mile, as contrast from what it says are costs of up to $200 million a mile for conventional mass transportation system.
[Reference Here]

The report does point out one of the many problems of a self-contained closed loop pneumatic tube system ... how would passengers deal with an uncontrollable "Nature Calls" or a "Mile High Club"-like situation?

Good question.

... notes from The EDJE

<a href="http://www.sodahead.com/united-states/would-you-travel-from-la-to-sf-in-a-tube-video/question-4639050/" title="Would you travel from LA to SF in a tube (video)?">Would you travel from LA to SF in a tube (video)?</a>

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

BMW At The 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show

The 2015 BMW X6 M and X5 M. Image Credit: BMW AG

BMW At The 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show

As usual, BMW did not disappoint the car enthusiast with its presentations at Los Angeles.  BMW chose diversity in unveiling four models at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show.  Two of these were World Premiers while the other two are new to the US market.

The aggressive 2015 BMW X6 M in Laguna Seca Blue as seen at the LA Auto Show. Image Credit: Brandon O'Brien / Motor Driven Images

"Innovative technology and powerful presence" is the way BMW describes the new X5 M and the X6 M.  Both making their world premier in Los Angeles. These vehicles are unfazed by any weather and road conditions and yet can be "thrillingly dynamic" on the track. Like all Motorsport BMW's they have been designed for an exceptional driving experience.

The 2015 X5 M as seen at the LA Auto Show. Image Credit: Brandon O'Brien / Motor Driven Images

Both the X5 M and X6 M are powered by the same V8 with M Twin Power Turbo technology generating an output of 575 hp and a maximum torque of 553 ft. lbs.  Both vehicles are equipped as standard with an eight-speed Steptronic transmission with Drivelogic propelling them from 0-62 mph in 4.2 seconds. Even with this substantial power, fuel economy and CO2 emissions are about 20% lower than previous models.

The interior of the X6 M. Image Credit: Brandon O'Brien / Motor Driven Images

Joey Hand, of BMW racing fame, was on hand for the premier. Stepping out of his current ride, a BMW M4 DTM, he had a chance to take the X6 M for a few laps at Texas and was impressed with the its agility, speed, and stopping power. He was looking forward to driving the car more at Laguna Seca which is one of his favorite tracks. It sounds like BMW hit the mark again with it's new X6 M.

The US Premier of the 2015 BMW 228i Convertible. Image Credit: Brandon O'Brien / Motor Driven Images

One of the new models for introduction into the US market in February 2015 is the BMW 2-Series Convertible.  Ludwig Willisch, President and CEO of BMW North America mentioned that Los Angeles was the perfect location to unveil this new model because of its great top-down year round weather.  The electrically operated soft-top is acoustically optimized for comfort and can be closed in 20 seconds at speeds up to 31 mph.

The 2-Series Convertible will be available as two models; the 320 hp M 235i and the 240 hp 228i.  The M 235i will go from 0-62 mph in 5.2 seconds while the 228i takes 6.1 seconds.  The M 235i can be equipped with a Six-Speed manual transmission or the Eight-Speed  Steptronic Sport transmission which will be standard on xDrive versions as well as the 228i Convertible.

The driver oriented interior of the 2015 BMW 228i Convertible with optional red leather. Image Credit: Brandon O'Brien / Motor Driven Images

The interior is driver focused and contains the high-quality materials that BMW is noted for.  The specially designed climate control panel features a display with white readouts.  With the top down the standard climate control system takes into account the impact of the airstream on the temperature.  The optional leather trim includes surfaces that use SunReflective technology to reduce the extent the leather is heated by the sun.

The rear seating area as seen on the 2015 BMW 228i Convertible. Image Credit: Brandon O'Brien / Motor Driven Images

Intelligent connectivity between driver, vehicle, and the outside world is another step forward for BMW. Among items found in the BMW ConnectedDrive program are the rear view camera, Parking Assistant, System Driving Assistant which includes Lane Departure Warning and Collision Warning.  The 2-Series Convertible is BMW's first model that can be upgraded with the new-generation Navigation system Professional which allows free over -the-air updates via the built-in SIM card.

The 2015 BMW X6 making its debut at the LA Auto Show. Image Credit: Brandon O'Brien / Motor Driven Images

The final vehicle making it's first US showing is the 2nd generation BMW X6. The X6 captures the imagination of the Sport Activity Coupe with its even more potent presence, the extrovert athleticism of its design, and its standout performance.  The X6 will be offered as two models.  The xDrive 50i offering 445 hp and the xDrive 35i offering 300 hp.

The beautiful interior as seen on the 2015 BMW X6. Image Credit: Brandon O'Brien / Motor Driven Images

Both models come equipped with the eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission and BMW xDrive all wheel drive technology. Optioned with one of the three Adaptive Suspension packages the new X6 offers a supreme driving experience to any type of driver wanting the sporty looks and functionality that the X6 offers in a larger sport activity coupe.
(words and photographs by Brandon O'Brien / Motor Driven Images unless otherwise noted)

... notes from The EDJE

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The 2014 LA Auto Show - Seven Points Of Diverse Interest To See And Take In

LA Auto Show's new logo bathed in green light. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

The 2014 LA Auto Show - Seven Points Of Diverse Interest To See And Take In

The LA Auto Show will always be a jumble of artfully engineered transportation solutions and vision displayed in a visual fashion that would rival an architectural design paradise. The Auto industry puts its best foot forward because this show is the first major North American auto show of the season each year - #LAAutoShow.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday (here's a suggestion on how to blow-off Black Friday and walk off Thanksgiving), the LA Auto Show, which has taken over the Los Angeles Convention Center, will be open at 9:00am through Sunday November 30th. The show features 34 global debut showings and around 60 overall unveilings.

Here are seven visits on the LA Auto Show trade show floor to consider - presented to enhance the flow of one's tour around the show.

LA Convention Center LA Auto Show lay out of exhibits Begin your tour from Left to Right given the graphic. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

Enter and begin your trade show tour from the South Hall (left side upper middle of graphic). Go directly to the back of the hall and visit the Chevrolet stand and visit a display that is not of an actual car, but a model based on a character in a video game - Chaparral 2X Vision Gran Turismo.

Chaparral 2X Vision Gran Turismo passing one of Jim Hall's original #66 Chaparral's in a video presentation. The Chevy Logo'd booth screen ran a video loop showing the creative process of the Chaparral 2X as well as some of the action contained in the Vision Gran Turismo game. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

First unveiled at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show Press Days, the Chevrolet Chaparral 2X Vision Gran Turismo concept is a futuristic racer with technology that Chaparral creator Jim Hall couldn't even imagine - laser propulsion, for example.

Really, lasers. Chevy says the mid-mounted propulsion system emits light pulses that are focused in a shroud, creating shock waves that generate thrust to move the car. If this existed in real-life, do not try to race nose to tail IndyCar style though ... no 'mushroom busting' areo here.

This unprecedented drive unit is also closely associated with the unique driver position in the car. The driver almost lays completely flat towards the front (head first), with all four of his appendages spread out towards the wheels when driving. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

The virtual system consists of a 671-kilowatt laser, lithium-ion battery pack, and an air-powered generator, and produces the equivalent of 900 horsepower. Chevy says that will warp the Chaparral 2X from 0-60 mph in just 1.5 seconds, and on to a top speed of 240 mph.

This model of an imagined Chaparral was sculpted and brought to life at the secret North Hollywood GM facility that gave us most of the innovative body styles found in today's Cadillac concept and retail cars.
[ht: Motor Authority]

After facing the back of the Chaparral/Chevrolet exhibit, one needs to turn left toward the GMC display and head on over to the Japanese luxury car manufacturer, Infiniti.

A 20 coat pale blue/silver "Liquid Sky" colored piece of transportation sculpture will most certainly grab the attention of any passer by. The Q80 Inspiration almost demands a 15 minute visit just to soak in all of the subtle design notes displayed in such a sophisticated manner.

Infiniti Q80 Inspiration concept tasteful front grille. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

Sketching for the car started some 15 months ago, the ultimate goal to combine fresh and highly sculpted styling with an advanced carbon-fiber-and-aluminum monocoque to redefine what a flagship can be inside and out.

Did we mention that it comes with a silver-plated beverage flask mounted to the seatback and that said flask is listed in the specifications sheet as a “design flourish”?

Infiniti Q80 Inspiration concept exterior. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

Every detail of this car was treated like a work of art. From it's long and low with a sleek, swept-back roof , precisely sculpted side panels, to its tightly horizontally vane-ed grill. The cabin is made more inviting by the rear-hinged "suicide doors" that open it up completely.

Infiniti Q80 Inspiration concept interior. Black interior materials in front, white interior materials in back. Notice the 'floating' center console in back. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

The grille is described as “organic and three dimensional, like the pulsing gills of a cruising whale” - never mind that whales have lungs and blowholes, not gills - and has active shutters that open at low speeds for cooling and close at higher velocities to mitigate aero drag. Slender hood vents forward of the A-pillars pull double duty as heat extractors and stylistic embellishments.

Infiniti Q80 Inspiration concept rear view with tapered back window. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

This Infiniti Q80 Inspiration concept is a hybrid, with the batteries getting a boost from a 3-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 engine.

Next, continue on deeper to the left (near bottom of show floor graphic) to the Lexus stand where one is greeted by a 'can't miss' electric candy apple-ed yellow colored convertible with a white interior.
[ht: USA TODAY's Chris Woodyard & Car and Driver's Andrew Wendler]

Say hello to the Lexus LF-C2 concept.

The Lexus LF-C2 Concept is nothing if not interesting. Its bold lines and drop top design wowed the crowd at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. With its angular front headlights and villainous front grille, the LF-C2 will be one of the most eye-catching show cars at the LA Convention center.

Lexus LF-C2 concept from front view. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

However, the LF-C2 edgy looks could not save it from the anger of Lexus' dealers, who would have preferred the company spend its time and efforts on a crossover SUV with three rows of seats, reported Motor Trend.

According to the automotive magazine, Lexus' dealers launched a full-on revolt after the convertible 's reveal at the L.A. Auto Show — leading the automaker to kill off the drop-top that had been in the works for years.

Lexus LF-C2 concept from rear view. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

The Lexus dealer's preference for another crossover is reasonable. Crossover SUV's are cash cows for luxury automakers. Their high volume and high profit margins form the perfect combination for companies like Lexus — and in this case their dealers.

A high-priced luxury convertible, on the other hand, could sell with a decent profit margin, but it would never be more than a niche product.
[ht: Business Insider's Benjamin Zhang]

Walking back in the opposite direction, one may miss a gem of a car and a stand. The Alfa Romeo display area which features the new Alfa Romeo 4C in tucked in behind Maserati which in on a main aisle and the Hyundai/Bentley booth's back wall ... it is located in a bit of an alley way.

2015 Alfa Romeo 4C. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

After decades of waiting, the Alfa Romeo 4C brings the famous Italian auto company back to North America. While this mid-engine sports car carries a price to compete against the Chevrolet Corvette, Porsche Boxster, and Jaguar F-Types; in reality, this wildly curvaceous Alfa is rawer and more outrageous than exotic cars costing twice the price.

Alfa Romeo 4C at speed during a recent Motor Press Guild Track Days event held at Willow Springs International Raceway 'Streets' track. Image Credit: Myles Regan (2014)

The snarling little turbocharged and direct-injected 1.7-liter 4-cylinder engine, nestled behind the passenger cabin, packs a great sound and plenty of power, with 237-horsepower available at 6,600 rpm and a stout 258 lb.-ft. of torque holding steady from 2,200-4,250 rpm.

Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

There is a full-bore punch of turbo lag, however. Once you get the engine revving to 3,000 rpm, the 4C kicks you in the backside and launches itself down the road. It's actually a whole lot of fun, since the turbo is predictable and the car doesn't start sliding or tug the steering wheel out of your hands. So many turbocharged cars and trucks have absolutely smothered lag to the point of non-existence, it's refreshing to really feel that on/off nature of an old-school turbo at work.
[ht: NEW YORK DAILY NEWS' Nick Kurczewski]

Just inside the door as one enters the South Hall, and on your way out to the Concourse Hall, Toyota Motor Company has a few great concepts and conceptual reality on display.

The absolute best of these concepts is wrapped up in a hydrogen fuel cell package called Mirai.

The 2016 Toyota Mirai (which is the word for future in Japanese) is the first-ever hydrogen fuel-cell car to be offered for sale by a major automaker. It goes on sale in Japan next month, and will arrive in North America in the second half of next year in a limited, grid supported area.

Toyota firmly believes in hydrogen as the right solution for zero-emission vehicles. Toyota and Honda are both loaning money to third-party fuel providers to establish the first of what's projected to be a network of 100 stations in California. That's enough to support more than 10,000 hydrogen vehicles--but it points to the slow pace of growth for this latest clean vehicle technology. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

The four-seat mid-size sedan is effectively an electric car, with a 153-horsepower motor powering its front wheels.

But instead of storing electricity in a large battery pack, the owner refills the car's reinforced high-pressure storage tanks with hydrogen gas, which the car then converts into electricity in a fuel cell.

Toyota Mirai. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

The big advantage of fuel-cell cars is their ability to refuel in 5 minutes or less and gain about 300 miles of range - something electric cars can't currently do, even with the highest-power DC fast charging variants.
[ht: Green Car Reports' John Voelcker]

You remember, Fisker, right? Great designer, penned some knockouts like the Aston Martin DB9 and BMW Z8, then thought he’d start his own automaker. That didn’t go well at all, even if the plug-in hybrid Fisker Karma was a stunner. We haven’t heard much from the man (aside from that motorcycle he designed) since he left his self-named automaker in early 2013. 

But there he was on Thursday at the LA Auto Show Press Days with that guy from Glapin Auto Sports - Beau Boeckmann, President and COO of the greater Galpin Motors Inc., pulling the sheet off the ROCKET, a custom-bodied Mustang with 725 horsepower, bold lines and several square yards of carbon fiber.
[ht: WIRED's Alex Davies]

Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

“I’ve always wanted to design a Mustang,” Fisker told us. “I just never really had the opportunity in my career because the timing was never right.”

The interior of the ROCKET has been left mostly Mustang beyond some eye-grabbing red leather and carbon-fiber trim. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

When checking out the ROCKET from the rear, it's easy to spot the wider fenders that are beautifully blended into the integrated spoiler. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

Henrik Fisker showed Beau Boeckmann early sketches at this year's Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, and the two parties went from there. "When Henrik showed me his ideas, I got chills - it's literally the most beautiful Mustang I have ever seen," says Boeckmann in the company's release.

After visiting the Concourse Hall, it is on to the West Hall (featuring Ford's re-freshened GT350 Cobra - a not miss) and Petree Hall.

The only automobile company to occupy their own hall is Porsche ... and what an environment to behold. The star at Porsche is the 918 Hybred supercar.

This excerpted and edited from Porsche website - 

It took Porsche years to develop a worthy successor to the vaunted Carrera GT supercar, but at last, the 918 is here - and it’s a plug-in hybrid!

The Porsche 918 Spyder represents an entirely new look at the supercar. It heralds the future of the sports car and you can be there at the start.Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

With a combined 887 hp and 944 lb-ft of torque from its mid-mounted V-8 and electric motors - one at each axle - the 918 delivers Bugatti-like acceleration, tenacious handling, and a 211-mph top end.

Pure. Energy. The world's first plug-in hybred supercar! Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

And of course, it’s every bit as exotic-looking as any near-million-dollar supercar should be, with a low-slung, targa body, and ultra-futuristic cabin.
[Reference Here]

Again, the possible best way to blow-off the Black Friday shopping rush or walk off Thanksgiving Turkey and/or Ham with all the fixin's would be to take in a day, or two, between now and weekend's end and visit the LA Auto Show running now starting each day at 9am at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Besides, one may just come away with a couple (7) of really cool last minute Christmas gift ideas!

... notes from The EDJE

Sunday, November 23, 2014


2015 Audi  TTS with Mark Dahncke on right in background as seen on the opening day of the Los Angeles Auto Show. Image Credit: Brandon O’Brien / Motor Driven Images


Are you “connected”?  Or should I say is your car “connected”?  This is a key topic at the Los Angeles Auto Show which opened to the media on November 18th.

There were a number of programs dealing with the future of the “Connected Car”.  This is not the future in, ten years, but next year.  One speaker likened this to the “period of the muscle cars”. He stated that if you missed that era you will not want to miss this one.  Miss it?  I do not think any car owner will be able to miss it. 

So what does “Connected Car” technology entail?  Smartphone integration, voice activated systems, your car receiving software updates from the manufacturer (Tesla), automotive apps, and autonomous drive to name a few.  Only time will tell if all of these will last the test of time or prove their safety. Two of the manufacturers that presented their products were Audi and Volvo.

Audi has taken the centrally mounted CRT and moved it into the instrument cluster.  In collaboration with nVidia they have developed what Audi calls “the virtual cockpit”. A concept very similar to the “glass cockpits” found in all modern airliners and many newer private aircraft.  According to Mark Dahncke of Audi this will only be available as a standard feature on the 2015 Audi TT models. At this time, it is unlikely that it will be an option on other models.

Audi / nVidia Virtual Cockpit components. Image Credit: Brandon O’Brien / Motor Driven Images

The feeling is that since this is driver oriented it may not be appropriate in a larger sedan where the passengers may want to have control over systems. In the virtual cockpit the driver will have control over all common functions via the centrally mounted MMI controller with displays being easily viewed within the instrument cluster.  Future models may incorporate both the virtual cockpit as well as a centrally mounted CRT to allow for passenger interaction.

Instrument cluster set to Sport Mode. Image Credit: Brandon O’Brien / Motor Driven Images

What this author found interesting was the Google Maps mode which places a graphic map within the cluster showing current location and route.  Turning the MMI knob zoomed the picture in or out with instantaneous resolution correction.  The system will also show active traffic alerts and is voice programmable.

Instrument cluster set to Google Maps. Image Credit: Brandon O’Brien / Motor Driven Images

Close-up of the Google map viewed from the driving position. Note the presence of the tachometer and speedometer. Image Credit: Brandon O’Brien / Motor Driven Images

 On the other end of the spectrum Volvo, for a number of years,  has been working on the autonomous self driving car.  Eric Coelingh was kind enough to speak with me about the benefits of this type of vehicle. These cars a conventional in all aspects, i.e. they have brake and accelerator pedals and a steering wheel.  Like “cruise control” there is a button on the steering wheel that activates the self driving mode. If you are on a road and you want to drive, go ahead. But when the traffic is a mess, push the button and sit back.

the 2017 Volvo V60 Drive Me/Self-Drive. Image Credit: Brandon O’Brien / Motor Driven Images

The idea is that in this day of technology where more individuals are involved in accidents due to inattention (cell phones, messaging, eating) that a self driving automobile may be the answer to these safety concerns.  Also, traffic has become an increasing issue all over the world. More cars generally necessitate larger highways.  With our current fixed lane size, the only way to increase road size is to physically expand it. One concept that Volvo has is that with a self driving car lane size can actually be decreased possibly allowing for an additional lane without expanding the highway.

Eric Coelingh and the Self Driving Volvo V60. Image Credit: Brandon O’Brien / Motor Driven Images

In Sweden and in this country there are a limited number of partially autonomous cars being tested by Volvo. In 2017 Volvo will lease 100 fully autonomous cars to lessees in Sweden for a 1-year trial. This trial will be designed to see how the general public adapts to this new concept in driving.  If the test phase is successful we may see more self driving cars entering California.  

How nice would it be to be stuck in traffic on the 101 through LA and all you had to do was to sit back, answer your emails, or read your kindle?  The technology is here today and we are getting connected.
[words and photographs by Brandon O’Brien / Motor Driven Images]

... notes from The EDJE

Sunday, November 16, 2014

App-Tronics Delivers 2015 SEMA New Product Award For The Connected Car

Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) has an annual automotive aftermarket trade show held in Las Vegas during the month of November. This trade association consists of a diverse group of manufacturers, distributors, retailers, publishing companies, auto restorers, street rod builders, restylers, car clubs, race teams and more. App-Tronics SmartNav 5 gets honored with SEMA's 2015 New Product and eight Global Media Awards (shown here displayed with complete product solution in the booth at SEMA 2014). Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

App-Tronics Delivers 2015 SEMA New Product Award For The Connected Car

Like most of us, we look at new cars and say to ourselves ... wouldn't it be nice to have the car I am happy and comfortable with, be updated with all of these new electronic connected car functions (GPS with a built-in screen, back-up camera, hands-free Bluetooth connection to my radio for my phone, and etc.) right now, for less than a down payment or even the first year depreciation on a new car?

SEMA has awarded the SmartNav 5 replacement mounted mirror solution manufactured by App-Tronics LLC the 2015 Mobile Electronics Product of the year for its navigation capability and much, much more.

SmartNav 5 product booth graphic communicates form factor and advantages of the SEMA award winning App-Tronics Flagship connected car solution. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

This excerpted and edited from App-Tronics website - 

App-Tronics Flagship product, the SmartNav 5 is the first truly captive all in one up-datable rear-view mirror that gives the car's operator: 
  • A rear-view replacement mirror with a large embedded 5-inch capacitive touch screen with 600 nit brightness (brightest in product segment)  so it displays clearly even in sunlight
  • GPS navigation turn by turn directions from iGO Primo fully featured Navigational software
  • DVR continuous front-view recorder with its own SD card which preloads an ADR player for computer downloading
  • A SmartVision reverse (rear-view) HD camera to aid in backing-up
  • Available optional parking sensors can be added to the SmartVision HD camera function
  • Bluetooth 4.0 with smartphone and music integration directed thru vehicles audio system either by FM tuner/transmitter or 3.5 auxiliary port access from music and video players
  • Photo viewer uploaded from one of its two micro 32GB SD card slots
  • The unit uses a fast 800MHz processor with high internal memory
  • The entire system is encased within the mirror's housing

Again, all on a 5" capacitive touch screen, with OEM mounting available for nearly every make and model.

It has an easy to use interface allowing drivers to have has few as 3 icons on the display screen.

Further, the SmartNav 5 can be now fitted with the same wireless technology as our Stealth Interceptor policing radar detection systems are completely wireless, allowing this mirror/connected car interface to also receive alerts from the same front bumper mounted radar detector and laser diffusers in concert with the same up-datable red light camera and speed trap Stealth Interceptor database.

Customers will now be able to purchase or upgrade their SmartNav 5’s to include all of these components. 

This newest addition further demonstrates App-Tronics goal of setting an impossible bar to reach that will ensure SmartNav 5’s longevity as the best application rich rear-view mirror on the market.
[Reference Here]

The most important issue with the integration of such a robust driver electronics interface, as the SmartNav 5 represents, is the fact this SEMA Show 2015 Mobile Electronics Product of the year's installation to any existing automobile with a non-intrusive approach. No dashboard modifications will be required. No extensive electronic wiring harness intrusion is required.

The genesis of App-Tronics and the SmartNav 5 product solution came to Mark Tierno (App-tronics Founder and President) when he was working at a BMW dealership integrating electronic upgrade kits into owner's cars. The amount of wire and time to install available solutions such as radar detectors and GPS systems compelled him to create another way on how to connect a car's driver to all of the electronic tools that are now being made available in new car offerings that currently populate most new car dealership showrooms. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

If the solution is a mirror replacement installation and one is not confident with  electronic wiring, take the packaged solution to a professional to install. This is a direct replacement and it will be replacing the vehicle's rear view mirror. The packaging includes everything one needs to install the SmartNav5. Included is the Mirror, Wiring Harness for the mirror, Rear View Camera and wiring, and the Windshield Mount for the mirror ... installation is simple and the step by step instructions are included.

Another approach is a SmartNav 5 Clip On model. Adjustable clips and a cigarette lighter port power adapter allows this all-in-one solution to travel easily from car to "UN-connected" car to deliver all of the basic SmartNav 5's driver interface benefits. Additionally helpful to the traveler who drives a lot in rental cars.

Here, App-Tronics Founder and President Mark Tierno (image right) discusses the SmartNav 5 solution with a couple of interested marketers and installers of automobile electronics upgrade integrations. It is never a bad thing to have these type of discussions where the SEMA awards are being displayed ... in the booth at SEMA (notice the SmartNav 5 Clip-On image left of center). Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

SEMA's New Product Of The Year, great in itself, was not the only recognition App-Tronics LLC received. The SmartNav 5 was also recognized by the representatives from the Global Media Award panel gathered to review the show at SEMA in Las Vegas. For the tenth year, a panel of 26 journalists from leading international media outlets served on the Global Media Award panel. Journalists from 14 countries participated, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Honduras, Mexico, Norway, Russia, South Africa, United Kingdom and Venezuela.

Each judge was able to select 10 products out of 2,000 new products submitted for review as their professional choices for the Global Media Award. App-Tronics LLC received 8 of 260 possible Global Media Award presentations. This means that 30% of all the judges on the Global Media Award panel had the same impression of the SmartNav 5 solution over the field of 2,000 new products shown at this year's SEMA Show.

So, the answer is YES! One can update the car they are already happy with to today's modern electronically connected car standards for well under the the cost of a typical new car down payment or first year depreciation through the non-invasive installation (in most cases - just a couple of hours) of an award winning SmartNav 5 replacement rear-view mirror driver interface.

... notes from The EDJE

Saturday, November 15, 2014


POMONA, CA (November 15, 2014) ---- John Force Racing today announced a multi-year sponsorship with Lucas Oil Products. The announcement makes Lucas Oil the “Official Oil of John Force Racing” and the Corona, California based company will have signage on all the John Force Racing Funny Cars and the Top Fuel dragster as well as driver uniforms and race transporters beginning in 2015.

“Forrest and Charlotte Lucas with their son Morgan and Lucas Oil Products are a perfect fit for John Force Racing. This partnership between two strong American families and companies is what makes this sport and country so great. Our two families have grown up together in this sport and we will have a strong future together,” said John Force, CEO of John Force Racing. “I had a great partner for almost 30 years with Castrol and they will always be part of our history but Lucas Oil is our future. I am excited about the opportunity to grow my company and keep racing for many years with the backing of Lucas Oil.”

Force winner of sixteen Mello Yello Funny Car championships has almost 1,200 round wins and 141 Funny Car race wins to his credit. The entire John Force Racing team has 237 Funny Car victories, the most by any NHRA racing organization in one class, and is chasing down their 19th team Mello Yello Funny Car championship this weekend at the 50th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona.
“John Force is a guy I have admired for many, many years. In my opinion he made Castrol oil in this country. The fact that he became available was shocking to me. I see him partnering with us and it will be a huge economic boost for Lucas Oil around the world. It will be good for John Force Racing because it is more stability and I see this as a win-win situation. It will also be good for NHRA drag racing because it keeps John racing and we don’t have any intentions on leaving so it should be good for everybody. Hopefully all the fans will keep coming back and using Lucas Oil,” said Forrest Lucas, Founder and CEO Lucas Oil Products.

“There are not as many young people coming into NHRA as we would like to see but John has his beautiful daughters involved and they are doing a good job. He has given them good equipment and has good people working with them. Morgan grew up with the girls and they are all good friends. The fact that we are creating the second generation of drag racing leaders and we are not the only ones doing this but we have some of the top rising stars out there,” added Lucas.
Forrest and Charlotte started Lucas Oil Products with the simple philosophy of producing only the best line of lubricants and additives available anywhere. Since its inception, Lucas has steadfastly adhered to this corporate objective. Through innovative product research and development, along with aggressive marketing programs, Lucas has established itself as a top selling additive line in the American truck stop industry.

Lucas is also one of the fastest growing additive lines in the consumer automotive industry. A premium line of oils, greases and problem solving additives has helped to firmly establish Lucas as a prominent figure in this marketplace.

Lucas has long been directly involved in the American racing industry through multiple vehicle sponsorships and racing event promotions, at all levels. The Lucas success story has been built upon hard work, an unparalleled line of premium products and an unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction. This single formula for success will continue to guide Lucas Oil Products as it grows in the years to come.

This is the second major sponsorship announcement for John Force Racing. In Las Vegas JFR announced PEAK anti-freeze and Blue Def as a primary sponsor for John Force for the majority of the races in 2015. Today’s announcement is another major step forward to financially strengthening the winningest Funny Car team in NHRA history. In the coming weeks John Force Racing plans a number of additional announcements leading up to the 55th annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals.

Press Release from:  Elon Werner - JFR Public Relations.
Re-Posted by AARWBA Members: Dicken Wear & Dana Marino of "The Motorsports Report".
Editors Note: I think this was the best for both companies. The JFR and Lucas Oil main offices are only a few miles apart, and this gives the SoCal Motorsports Powerhouses and even more powerful standing in the Racing World. Also of note: "The Original Competition Engineering Since 1954" and "The Motorsports Report" Race Car and Street Car Fleet of Vehicles, buys and sells Lucas Oil Products over every other brand of additives. (DW).

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Bubba Rope's 'Gator-Jaw' Snaps Up A 2nd SEMA New Product Award

DSC00622 Two SEMA Awards Display - 800px.jpgWith two SEMA New Product Awards in only five years, Bubba Rope is able to proudly display the hardware back-to-back. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

Bubba Rope's 'Gator-Jaw' Snaps Up A 2nd SEMA New Product Award

Maybe this isn't as winning a record as baseball's San Francisco Giants with their recently garnered third World Series Championship in five years, but the Giants only have to compete against 30 other teams or enterprises.

Bubba Rope, which started in 2009, won its first SEMA New Product Award in 2010 for the 2011 product year, has to compete against hundreds of new products from about as many 'teams' or enterprises, won its second New Product Award in five years for Gator-Jaw™ soft shackles.

DSC00614 - Gator-Jaw 800px.jpgGood thinking leads to an additional threaded strand product solution that really changes the playing field. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

Bubba Rope's first SEMA New Product Award was for their lead product ... the Bubba Rope. "The whole thing is branding," said Jim Flowers, a manager in Bubba Rope's business development team. Introduced to the consumer market in 2009, the nylon, military-spec recovery strap's packaging took Best New Product Packaging honors at the 2010 SEMA Show.

DSC00618 - Gator-Jaw & Bent Steel Shackle - 800px.jpgAt a rated 32,000 pound breaking strength, combined with a property that allows the Gator-Jaw to float and weigh just a few ounces, steel shackles not only bend apart but become an old technology solution with functional problems to overcome. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

Bubba Rope is a professional snatch rope that features military-spec quality and strength that surpasses any vehicle recovery strap on the market. Bubba Rope is a durable kinetic energy recovery rope (KERR) that outperforms typical recovery ropes, snatch straps and chains because it stretches, using its own kinetic energy to help recover your vehicle from the stickiest of situations. If there is mud, sand or snow where you drive, then you need a Bubba Rope!

"If you have a clear idea of what your brand is, it's a lot easier to figure out what doesn't fit," Flowers said. "It all starts with an extremely clear vision of what you want to communicate with your brand."

DSC00627 - Close-In - Gator-Jaw Demo - 800px.jpgJust find a strong tie-down or tow point and the flexible Gator-Jaw will hold strong to anything it is attached to at a rated 16 tons of stress. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

This excerpted and edited from Bubba Rope® -

Gator-Jaw™ soft shackles are made from Plasma® rope which is the highest strength synthetic rope available. These rope shackles are stronger than comparable steel shackles. Gator-Jaw™ shackles won't rust and are so light they float. Towing applications include: 4x4 off-road, agriculture & mining equipment and various marine uses - wherever a connection of a rope or tether needs to be attached to another heavy equipment object (or even connecting two ropes) without the possibility of the connection coming loose.

Advantages Over Steel Shackles:

Stronger than steel - 32,000 lb. breaking strength!
It floats - no more losing shackles in the water or muck!
Flexible - easily wraps around the most difficult pulling points!
One piece construction - no pins to fasten!


Off-Road Recovery
[Reference Here]

Bubba Rope's Gator-Jaw™ soft shackles are the perfect compliment to the well outfitted off-road emergency tools kit - perfect for any situation where attaching a rope or tether to a specified tow or anchor point without the weight or multiple part downsides to metal D-rings or clevises.

Be on the lookout for a Bubba Rope® "Gator-ize" type of solution for use with front and back mounted hydraulic winches.

Who knows ... maybe there might be another SEMA New Product Award in the offing.

... notes from The EDJE

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Rand Luxury Review at Petersen Automotive Museum – An Automotive Lifestyle POV

BMW i8 - Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2014)

** An Automotive Lifestyle POV by James Groth, Miles Ahead Communications for The Motorsports-Report

Rand Luxury is a international event production company. CEO, Bradford Rand challenges himself to produce unique events that incorporate the freshest, innovative technology products with the most revered international luxury brands. This results in an evening of entertainment unlike anything else in Los Angeles. 

He succeeded in topping last years marvelous event with an array of new and intriguing companies, supported by presenting sponsors Variety and The Wall Street Journal. These are VIP invitation only events that are covered by the media due to the number of new products being introduced to the market.

BMW i8 - Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2014)

My focus for this lifestyle POV will be on the centerpiece of the evening, the BMW i8 featured in Crystal Pearl with BMW i blue accents. As a plug-in hybrid with functional curves to rival Sofia Vergara, this car represents the future of elite sports cars. Besides its stunning looks, the i8 will satisfy LA’s environmentally conscious as the first sports car with the consumption and emission values of a compact car.

The BMW i8 project started in 2008 with the intent to reinvent urban mobility.  As a performance orientated car guy that also believes in social responsibility, the i8 is my choice as the current pinnacle for sports cars.  With this highly developed plug-in hybrid, BMW has created super car that strikes a perfect balance between performance and efficiency. 

Exterior / Model - Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2014)

For striking this balance, the BMW i8 will be welcome equally at Hollywood’s Red Carpet affairs and Monterey’s posh car collector events. Should you need more rational to own an i8, tell the wife your buying a piece of art for the garage equipped with optional Louis Vuitton luggage made entirely of carbon fibers for her. However, this automotive artwork attains155 mph on the autobahn.

Head On BMW - Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2014)

What follows are the specifications to back up these allocates. Performance comes from BMW’s e drive combining an electric motor up front producing in hybrid mode 266kW (362 hp). In the rear is a 3-cylinder 1.5-liter gasoline motor producing an outstanding 170 kW (231 hp) for its small size.  This translates to BMW figures of 0-60 km/h of 4.5 seconds in electric mode or 0-100 km/h in 4.4 seconds with the gas motor, fast by any standard except the hyper exotics. For added safety and performance, all-wheel drive is standard.

Wheel - Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2014)

The standard tires are 195/50 R20 front and 215/45.R20 for the rear, these are an unusually narrow size for a performance car.  This is because the narrower profile produces less rolling resistance and better fuel mileage.  There are optional 215 fronts and 245 rears as a performance option depending on how ‘green’ you decide to go.

i8 Interior - Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2014)

Much of the efficiency comes from the extensive use of light weigh materials. Carbon fiber is utilized in the body shell and aluminum for the chassis.

Model / Interior - Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2014)

The eye catching scissor doors are designed for easy of entry and exit and are made from thermoplastic, aluminum and carbon, the result is a 50% lighter door. The gorgeous interior is made from of lightweight, sustainable and wherever possible renewable materials. 

i8 Tail Lights - Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2014)

The eye catching LED tail lights also function as a channel for the air stream over the rear aiding the aerodynamics of the i8. This underlines the aerodynamic theme throughout the car that delivers an outstanding drag coefficient (cd) of 0.26 (in lay terms, the wind resistance of an egg). Yet this beauty looks nothing like the egg- styled autos of past attempts at efficiency. 

Rear ¾ Wave - Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2014)

I showed I8 photos to the William Turner art gallery director, a car guy with an eye for design.  Rob thought the car, painted in Crystal Pearl with I blue accents looked too much like the car in “Tron”, but right in dark colors without accents.  I agree. However, I think most of artists will appreciate the flowing design and see it as a wave sculpture.

Headlight - Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2014)

Those of us that live on mountain roads with abundant animal life will want the optional high-bean laser lights that increase range and enhance illumination. The enhanced lighting of recent years can be life saving to you and the critters. If you have driven a classic car at night recently, you will be reminded at how easy it is to out drive your headlights.  As fast as the i8 is order the option.

Driver side interior - Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2014)

This is the responsible super car we knew one of the prestige manufactures would develop, this time its BMW beating the Ferrari’s of the auto world to market.On sale now starting at $135,000.


The BMW I8 has Rodeo Drive attitude with Bay Area social consciousness, all without compromising its Germanic nature.

Highlights from the Rand Luxury Technology Showcase 

As guests entered the event they were offered a glass of champagne, setting a festive tone to the evening.  Friendly, knowledgeable brand ambassadors were giving demonstrations from 29 booths.  It’s not possible to cover each in this POV, so I will highlight a few of the ones that I interacted with. This year Chef was Michel Euliss, a fellow car guy with a Maserati Mexico in his collection. His Let’s Celebrate! catering company provided the appetizers and particularly tasty sauces for pasta that had people coming for seconds.

Opticwash - Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2014)

My first experience was with Opticwash, the world first automated cleaning kiosk. It’s primarily designed for professionals in eye wear, jewelry, and the dental industry. CEO, Bryan Meyers put the finishing touch on me by washing and drying my reading glasses, university ring, and Movado watch in mere minutes. Non-professionals may consider one of these machines too, since the ultra violet light source kills 99% of all bacteria. 

Executive Director, Chad Ordoyne with Executive Assistant, Amber-Leigh Polowich - Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2014)

Staying with the clean theme and adding the sustainable element to the mix, we get “water from air” by Untapped Water Systems. I live in the canyons of Malibu so sustainability is a strong consideration when adding something to the household. Executive Director, Chad Ordoyne and assistant Amber gave me a sample of the quality water this machine produces and the pitch on its unique qualities.  Primarily this machine will provide 5.5 gallons of drinking water a day. The device also acts as a humidifier, thus reducing mold, pollen, and prevents waterborne bacteria and viruses. No need for delivery of water bottles. Considering that California is in its worst drought ever and we are rationing watering, the Untapped Water System is a device for the times we live in, ideal for home or office.

My lady friend and I found the stylish Ultrasone headphones adding a new level of experience to the ‘Eagles Live’ concert.  If you demand unique style with your high-end speakers, the diamond glass and aluminum enclosures from Waterfall will make a sound and style statement like few others. On audition were the handcrafted Victoria Evo’s for $7,000 or $5,800. Exceptional in sound and striking in appearance, they can also be mated with their Hurricane satellites for home cinema.  

We were impressed with image from the Grand Cinema Line by SIM2 Multimedia. There were two models on display, the value for dollar of the Superlumis projector at $3,500 coupled with the 103 inch screen for $3,000 should work very well for all but the most demanding enthusiasts for both film and sports.

3D Systems - Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2014)

We found the 3D printing display from the 3D Systems fascinating.  With their system you can design-to-manufacture parts and products with their 3D printers. The end products can be made from plastic, metal or ceramics. This is truly a revolutionary system. 

A number of guests took a break outside to enjoy Cobia Black cigars courtesy of David Weiss.  His Lone Wolf lounge on Wilshire in LA is one of the most comfortable environments to enjoy all the top brands.

The #1 faucet brand Moen makes all styles, including ‘motion sense’ for hands free convenience.  It’s Moen’s ultra modern kitchen and bath lines that distinguish them in terms of style. A node of thanks to Moen’s founder who in 1939 invented the single-handle faucet, designed to mix hot and cold water.  Mr. Moen thus revolutionized plumbing giving the world the gift of warm water

Bradford Rand - Image Credit: James Groth - Miles Ahead Communications (2014)

I ran into Bradford Rand on the way out saying thanks for a great evening and received a LOKSAK from the brand ambassador pictured. This simple device is something we all need to protect our electronic devices from water and dirt while working in adverse conditions or traveling. The plastic allows you to work while the device stays watertight. They also have ‘Shield Sak’ to protect hacking, scanning or tracking.

This was a fun and electronically enlightening evening. I look forward to the next Rand Luxury Showcase.