Audi is hard at work developing self-driving vehicles for itself and all of Volkswagen. The automaker has created the goal of releasing its first fully self-driving vehicle by 2021, and seems to be on track to meet the goal if things go well for the automaker. Not only does Audi already have a well-funded team of engineers working on the task, but it’s about to put out the first sedan with Level 3 self-driving capabilities, just 2 levels off from the ultimate goal of a fully self-driving vehicle.
Likely Not for the Public
Though it’s exciting that Audi has chosen such a close goal for self-driving vehicles, it’s likely that the first batch of cars won’t be available for public sale. Instead the vehicles will probably be part of a testing and publicity fleet that will serve to pave the way for future generations of self-driving vehicles from Audi that do make their way out to the general public. That means that even though Audi may meet it’s goal and produce a self-driving vehicle by 2021, it’s likely that buyers will have to wait quite a bit longer before they can be chauffeured around in their very own self-driving Audi.
The Level 3 A8
Next month Audi plans to unveil an A8 with Level 3 driving capabilities. This vehicle will be able to handle some driving situations all on its own, but will require the driver to remain close at hand to take over in case there is a problem or a situation the vehicle can’t handle. Still, it will allow its owners to enjoy a bit of relaxation during situations that it’s capable of handling all on its own. The Level 3 A8 is an exciting step toward self-driving vehicles and will offer a preview into the future where even cooler tech is going to be available.
Achieving Level 4 by 2021
It’s likely that Audi’s vehicle in 2021 will be a level 4 self-driving vehicle. What that essentially means is that the car will be able to drive around and handle a wide variety of situations, but not everything. If the car encounters a problem that it isn’t capable of handling, it will signal the driver to take over, but if the driver isn’t able to do so the car will just pull over. That’s the major difference between level 4 and level 3, and it isn’t until level 5 that a self-driving vehicle will be able to take on every single situation that it’s presented with without pulling over.
It could be a decade or more until the first fully self-driving vehicle is out on the roads, but Audi is likely to come very close with its car released in 2021, and it’s one of the first automakers to offer self-driving technology to its owners now.
Mike Sullivan has been racing since his teens getting his adrenaline fix on the backs of dirt bikes, but it wasn’t until 2014 that he decided to give Porsche racing a try. After all, they say that racing your brand is an excellent way to connect with it on another level, and that’s absolutely true according to Sullivan. He teamed up with Carl Tofflemire, the Porsche sales manager at LAcarGuy at the time, and they began racing vintage Porsches together.
The moment that Porsche came out with the Cayman GT4 Clubsport racer back in 2015, Sullivan snapped up two of them with a price tag of about $200,000 each. That’s when he decided they were going to take part in more serious races, they would enter the 2016 Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA series of races.
At the start of the series Sullivan decided to film the whole thing, and to his amazement the videos began getting some serious views. Within the first year of release his series had more than 180,000 views to his astonishment, and both drivers did better than expected with third place finishes in their categories.
It Just Made Sense to Create a Video Series
With nearly $20,000 going into each race, it only made sense for Sullivan to use all the racing footage to help promote his brand and bring more attention to Porsche South Bay. LAcarGUY has an in-house video department that’s responsible for creating videos and promoting them on social media, and the team worked hard to create the Behind the Wheel: GT4 Weekend Warriors series showing off everything that occurred during those 2016 races. The videos are all available at the porschesouthbay.com website.
The series had a production budget of about $50,000 with an additional $15,000 dedicated to social media marketing. The racing series was good business for the store though, and many of the racers featured in the video other than Sullivan and Tofflemire were actually customers that purchased their vehicles at the store as well. Nearly 10 vehicles were sold to racers in the series in 2015 and 2016.
Expanding the Store
Sullivan’s foray into more serious Porsche racing occurred at the same time that his old Porsche store was being improved upon with an all-new store in Hawthorne California. The $28 million construction is three times the size of the old store, and makes a real effort to show off the racing heritage of Porsche, with displays of some of Sullivan’s vintage race cars for customers to see upon entering the building.
Not only does the new store offer more space, more inventory and a richer presentation platform for the vehicles, but it’s right down the road from the Porsche Experience Center that promises to draw in interested buyers from all over the world.
Sullivan sees a real opportunity to expand his brand further with the racing and the release of the new store. He understands that it’s a chance to broaden his customer base and take things to a more national level. He wants to become the Porsche guy of more people around the country, and with more than 180,000 views on his racing series that seems like a strong possibility.
In a time when so many automakers out there are working hard to come up with their own tech solutions, Audi is taking the more practical approach and teaming up with Google for the best possible tech experience. Audi is integrating the Google Now personalized voice service into its vehicles more than ever before, making it possible to achieve a whole new level of control using just your voice to do it. This will make it possible to do cool things with your voice while driving down the road, and seems like a pretty good move by Audi to us.
What the Google Service Will Do
while Audi’s HERE service will still handle navigation tasks in the vehicle, Google Assistant will handle a bunch of other voice-controlled activities. Users of the advanced Google service are expected to be able to adjust the temperature settings of the heating and cooling system within the vehicle. They will also be able to roll windows up and down, adjust a sunroof, look up information and do more from behind the wheel of the vehicle. Audi vehicles are becoming more and more integrated with software and this will give voice control users more power as time goes by.
Faster Updates and More Personalization
Audi decided to work with Google for these services because the automaker believes the tech giant will be able to put out faster updates and create more personalized technology for users than Audi could itself. In other words, Audi is interested in releasing the best possible product to its customers, which should help improve the brand and make it more favorable for drivers overall.
Voice control technology is becoming more capable with each passing year, and Audi is teaming up with one of the tech giants that’s pioneering all that new tech. This should result in better technology for everyone driving around an Audi, and exciting updates in the future as Google does even more to innovate.
Volkswagen is working really hard to make its vehicles as efficient as possible, and one of the ways that it has long achieved fuel efficiency improvements is through cylinder activation in its engines. Many Volkswagen vehicles out on the road are capable of turning off half their cylinders while travelling down the road to cut fuel usage. That’s a pretty cool feature and it should be used on most vehicles today. Now Volkswagen is actually taking things a step further though, and releasing an engine that deactivates all its cylinders under certain conditions. This enables even greater fuel savings and should make for improved fuel economy figures in Volkswagen vehicles in the future.
The EVO Engine Disengages Fully During Coasting
The new version of Volkswagen’s EVO engine that is capable of cutting off all its cylinders only does so during periods of coasting. When the driver is going down the road without using the gas or the brake pedal, the engine will disengage itself and allow the vehicle to coast entirely. Since the engine fully decouples, it will not slow driving down at all even though it’s not operating, which should make for a very efficient system, especially when driving in hilly environments or other areas where coasting is common over long distances.
Heading to the Golf First
As one of the most efficient vehicles that Volkswagen offers, it makes a lot of sense that the Golf would be one of the first to receive the revolutionary engine. The engine should help make the Golf lineup more efficient and desirable. Volkswagen plans to install the engine in its Golf lineup first, and then move on to other models in the future as long as it’s successful in the Golf.
Volkswagen is working hard to make more efficient vehicles while building out its electric lineup, and it’s likely to innovate further in its quest for the highly efficient vehicle. This latest engine enhancement seems revolutionary, but buyers should wait for efficiency figures before getting too excited. It’s certainly a technology worth implementing, but without testing figures it’s hard to say exactly how much more efficient such a vehicle would be.
Many Porsche fans have at least heard of a PDK transmission, but there are still many people out there that don’t know quite what the technology is, how it works or why any of that matters. This article is for all you people out there that are interested in the transmission that’s used on nearly every modern Porsche today. It’s impressive tech, and after you understand what’s behind the name you’ll be even more excited to get behind the wheel of one of these modern marvels of engineering.
What is it?
The PDK transmission stands for Porsche Doppel Kupplungs, which means Porsche double-clutch transmission in English. A PDK is a dual-clutch transmission, but it’s a proprietary one developed by the automaker. It works much the same way as any other dual clutch transmission, and offers all the same benefits of that tech.
How a PDK is Setup
A PDK transmission is very similar in construction to a manual transmission with a clutch and flywheel, but there is a second clutch that works at the same time as the first, creating a fluid motion that enables nearly instant gear changes. One clutch handles half the gears and the other handles the other half. This means that while one clutch is disengaging, the other can engage at the same time. A set of specialized valves that are electronically operated handle all the gear changes of the vehicle making gear changes on-the-fly as needed.
No Clutch Wear
There is very minimal clutch wear in this system because Porsche relies on a wet clutch setup. Both clutches of the system are covered with oil to help them maintain nice smooth performance with minimal friction. That’s why you can operate a Porsche vehicle under extreme conditions and do very little to wear out the clutches of the vehicle.
Started in Racing
Like many of Porsche’s best tech, the PDK originated in racing and later migrated to the rest of the Porsche lineup. It was a highly desirable racing solution because the PDK allows for faster shifting. Racers could move around the track faster and with less distraction since they no longer had to worry about shifting. Those are the same benefits offered to Porsche owners today, that and they won’t have to deal with expensive clutch replacements.
The PDK clutch system is pretty cool when you understand what goes into it, but it’s not exclusive to only Porsche. There are other performance vehicles today that rely on a dual clutch setup as well, Porsche is just known for offering one of the most efficient clutch systems and one of the most resilient, making it a good value for buyers.
There are plenty of fans out there for the compact Yaris by Toyota, but for every person that likes the small footprint of the vehicle, or the rock-bottom price tag, there are nay-sayers that don’t like something about it. Maybe it has too few features, it could be too small, or it just isn’t sporty enough. For all those people the 2017 Toyota Yaris iA could be just the solution to that problem. It’s a more capable Yaris, that’s slightly bigger, equipped with more features and it still offers excellent efficiency levels all for a reasonable price that most buyers will be pleased with. There’s a lot to like about the Yaris iA, and we’re going to delve into some of those things right now.
An Automatic is Now Available
If you’re one of those drivers that simply doesn’t want to deal with a manual, or you want to take advantage of the superior fuel efficiency levels that an automatic transmission can offer, the 2017 iA comes with a capable automatic transmission as an option that you can add on if you like. This is different from the “only manual” approach that Toyota had towards the Yaris iA originally and we’re all for additional options so the addition is a good thing in our book.
Top Safety Features
Since the latest Yaris comes with Toyota’s full safety suite, you can enjoy things like adaptive cruise, lane monitoring, active brake assist and other advanced features on this affordable vehicle. That makes it even more desirable and something that many buyers will be considering when looking for a budget car that comes with modern safety features.
Excellent Fuel Efficiency
The Toyota Yaris has always been known for its fuel efficiency, especially in recent years. It’s a good little car that offers efficiency levels as high as 32 city and 40 highway if you opt for the six speed automatic transmission. If you have your heart set on the manual version of the vehicle you’ll have to settle for 30 city and 39 highway, and the four-speed transmission options come with lower efficiency levels still, falling at around 30 city and 37 highway, but each of those numbers is still pretty decent.
The 2017 Yaris iA is an affordable and capable vehicle that’s longer, more comfortable and outfitted with more features than the standard Yaris. It’s also the same vehicle as the Scion iA for any enthusiasts of the discontinued brand. It’s not a sports car, but it’s still quite a bit of fun to drive around while being practical at less than $16,000 minus the delivery fee.
For decades flying cars have just been the stuff of legend, until some manufacturers began coming out with the massive plane-car hybrids they are dubbing flying cars. While their creations are pretty cool, and definitely a proof of concept, it’s hard to consider them as a finished unit that’s worthy of any real excitement for the everyday consumer. That’s where automaker Toyota comes into play. The car company is planning a drone-car hybrid product release in 2018, and they want a working model in time to light the flame during the Tokyo Olympics that year.
How the Car would Work
While we don’t have all the details of the vehicle, Toyota has hired a firm called Cartivator to work on the project and develop a vehicle that relies on jet propelled tech to fly around in a way that’s similar to how drones move around. The vehicle would rely on a series of rotors to lift it up, and fly around. No doubt this technology will be used in a way that’s similar to helicopters today, but it could be just the tech that’s needed to create more wide-scale air transportation for more people.
A Capable Little Machine
The flying car would be just 9.5 feet by 4.3 feet in size and could achieve heights of about 33 feet in the air. The car is expected to attain speeds of up to 62 MPH while up in the air, making it a very capable way to move around a crowded city where streets are covered below.
There’s no guarantee that Toyota will have this tech ready by next year like the automaker is hoping, but with such heavy emphasis on the technology and other companies working ont eh same project it seems likely that the release will happen near the deadline, even if it is a bit late.
It’s a radical vision for flying cars and the tech Toyota is pursuing is something that many other companies are working on in one way or another as well. Many companies are looking into transport drones for mailing purposes, or for medical transport, and eventually that flying vehicles could be an everyday part of life for the average person. This is just the first step toward that new world, and it’s a pretty exciting one.
Still to this day the Porsche 911 is made mostly by hand, and it’s that attention to detail that creates such a high-quality product. Yesterday was a historic occasion, Porsche produced its one millionth 911 car and it just rolled off the production line. Porsche has been putting out the 911 sports car since 1963, and it finally hit a historic figure that rarely comes for exotic sports cars. The one millionth vehicle produced and it’s not so different than the original produced back in 1963. Sure there’s more tech crammed inside, the engine is significantly more powerful and advanced than before, but the makeup of the car itself remains the same. It’s a rear-engined sports car meant to go fast and offer excellent handling mechanics.
Irish Green Nostalgia
The one millionth 911 sports car was given the same Irish green paint job as the original 1963 model for nostalgia’s sake. The car also comes equipped with a steering wheel that’s partially made up of wood, and the dials are chrome capped just like the originals were. Overall 911 number 1 million looks very different from the original, but Porsche went the extra mile to tie the two together with décor.
The Power Gap
In terms of power and performance the 911 has come a long-long way. Consider this, the original 1963 model offered just 128 HP from its air-cooled engine. The current base model 911 Carrera offers 370 HP and they get much more powerful from there. The high-powered 911 Turbo S can go from 0 to 62 in just 2.9 seconds, a feat that likely seemed all but impossible back in 1963. The original 911 does the same thing in 8.5 seconds, something more akin to a modern-day family sedan.
Not for Sale
If you’re hoping for a chance to bid on the millionth Porsche 911, you’ll be sadly disappointed. No collector will have the opportunity to own the vehicle. Instead it’s going to take a tour of modern racing locations around the world, and it will be retired at the Porsche museum when it’s finished making its trip.
Few performance sports cars hit the one million production car mark, and that’s a real testament to the Porsche 911 and its longevity.
Volkswagen is one of the biggest automakers in the world, and at the moment it’s one of the most active and it’s headed toward some of the biggest transformations that we’ve ever seen from an auto company. While moving away from diesel Volkswagen is working hard toward a future based around electricity, with a goal of becoming the industry leader for hybrids and full electric vehicles. Volkswagen is also working hard to expand its lineup of SUVs and get the bulk of the SUV market. Finally Volkswagen is releasing a fully-redesigned Jetta for the 2018 model year, which promises a whole host of enhancements.
An Electric Future
Volkswagen has pretty much abandoned diesel technology and isn’t working nearly as hard to improve on its diesel platform as it once was. Instead the automaker is looking toward the future and it sees electric vehicles as the best option for future offerings. The company is focusing on offering hybrid vehicles and full electric models to the public and wants to be the market leader for those types of vehicles by 2025, with an average of 1 million models sold around the world by that time. That’s a pretty lofty goal, but it’s just one of the many goals that Volkswagen is currently pushing for.
More SUVs than Other Automakers
Volkswagen has been leaving behind a major portion of the market with its scant SUV offerings. That’s mostly why the automaker just released the Atlas and Arteon SUVs. Those aren’t the only new models to come though. Volkswagen wants to have a total of 19 different SUV offerings by 2020. That means that Volkswagen will have to put out a few more SUV models over the next few years, and the automaker may have to offer some additional variations on its existing SUVS as well.
The 2018 Jetta Should be a Major Improvement
The Volkswagen Jetta has only been receiving minor upgrades and enhancements since it’s full redesign back in 2011. The 2018 model year promises to be a special one though, since it’s when the Jetta is going to be fully redesigned. That means dramatic changes are coming. VW fans will likely see a bunch of cosmetic changes inside and out, including some major alterations to the body panels of the vehicle itself. The Jetta is likely to be altered from within as well, and will likely come with more tech features than before and a new layout for the center console. There’s no information about potential powertrain changes, or changes to the dimensions of the vehicle itself, but anything is possible on a full redesign, so Jetta fans should pay close attention to what is to come.
Volkswagen is focused on a lot of different areas and the massive automotive company is working really hard to innovate and offer more than the competition. That’s why it’s worth watching, and VW fans may have a lot to be happy about in the coming years.
The Toyota Corolla has long been one of the most popular family sedans in the United States, and the 2017 version of the vehicle rolls out enough new features for that trend to continue on into the future. While the latest Corolla doesn’t offer the exciting driving dynamics that you would find behind the wheel of a sportier vehicle, it does pack a whole lot of functionality and safety into a pretty affordable purchase. In fact, if you were to write down all the standard features that come in the 2017 Corolla, you would be hard-pressed to come up with any other vehicle in the price range that can compare in terms of safety or tech.
Top Level Safety
One of the best features of the 2017 Corolla is all the safety tech that comes packed inside. The sedan comes equipped with the Toyota Safety Sense system as standard, so you get a bunch of preventative safety tech tools without having to pay extra for them. What that means is you’ll enjoy auto high beams, adaptive cruise, automatic emergency braking, a forward collision warning system and lane departure and lane keep assist. All these features will help ensure that you remain safe while out on the road and that most of the common causes of accidents are stopped before they can end up causing a problem at all.
On the outside of the Corolla you’ll see that the front-end of the vehicle has been redesigned for an all-new look. The interior is also changed notably. There’s a remodeled instrument panel with a more modern look to it. The Corolla also comes with a new set of climate controls. Overall things aren’t too different, but most of the changes to the Corolla are enhancements.
A Comfortable Family Sedan
The Toyota Corolla prioritizes being a family vehicle over everything else. It offers more rear legroom than other sedans in the class, it offers more comfort features than most as well. There is an excellent amount of trunk space, making it easy to pack in important luggage for family trips or camping excursions.
A Real Budget Vehicle
The Toyota Corolla is the ideal vehicle to purchase when on a budget. With a starting price around $19,000 it’s hard to find another brand-new vehicle that’s outfitted as nicely in the price range. Even the top-end XLE that features a 7.0 inch Entune infotainment unit, heated front seats, a power sunroof and a smart key is available for just over $24,000. No matter what grade of Corolla you decide on, you’ll enjoy an affordable price tag on your purchase.
The 2017 Corolla isn’t for everyone. It isn’t a sports car, it doesn’t get fuel economy like the Prius, but it does offer top level safety features, a good set of tech features, and huge rear seating room, and it does all that on a budget.