• VW previews Golf Cabriolet facelift for Europe

    August 28, 2015

    Volkswagen has unveiled a refreshed Golf Cabriolet that will be arriving in Europe for the 2016 model year.

    The minor update features a sportier front bumper, new side sills and accents on the rear bumper.

    Most of the changes focus on customizability, allowing customers to pick from six new exterior colors, an additional soft-top hue and six new wheel designs. The interior also brings a modernized steering wheel, VW’s latest infotainment technology, new seat designs and tweaked trim elements.

    The company has updated the slew of available engines to comply with the Euro 6 emissions standard. The convertible is available with four different gasoline engines, including a 2.0-liter TSI mill with 217 horsepower, along with a choice between two diesel powerplants.

    Full details will be released next month at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The convertible Golf is not expected to make its way to US shores.

  • Samsung leads tech sector in automotive patents

    August 28, 2015
    Rumors surrounding Apple’s secret car project have continued to grow in recent months, however a fresh report suggests arch-rival Samsung has amassed many more patents in the automotive industry.

    A tally compiled by SmartUp Legal and detailed in a Forbes report suggests Apple is actually fourth on the list tech-sector giants, with just 83 automotive patents. For comparison, Samsung holds 510 and Google is not far behind with 308. Microsoft sits in the third position with 222 patents.

    Most of Samsung’s auto-patent portfolio is said to consist of battery technology, and the company still owns a stake in Renault Samsung Motors. Samsung’s SDI division is one of the largest global battery makers, developing cells and modules for Audi, BMW and Ford, among others.

    Unsurprisingly, Google’s intellectual property reportedly focuses more on navigation and technology for autonomous vehicles. The search giant leads in terms of portfolio growth, filing new applications at such a fast rate that it is expected to take the lead from Samsung within the next few years.

    Apple does not have as many navigation patents, instead focusing on user interfaces. SmartUp Legal Founder and CMO Mikhail Avady suggests the Cupertino-based tech giant appears to be breaking from its traditional strategy of amassing a large number of patents before entering a segment.

    “It looks more like they’d rather go to the car manufacturers and play nice with them,” he said.

    All of the companies will likely be gearing up to engage the fledgling market for autonomous vehicles, wether building entire vehicles or simply supplying the necessary technological components to make them work.

  • IndyCar salutes Justin Wilson with Golden Gate drive [Video]

    August 28, 2015
    IndyCar said farewell to deceased driver Justin Wilson Thursday with a tribute drive over San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.

    The tribute took place ahead of this weekend’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma.

    Wilson was hurt in a crash at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania Sunday. Debris from another vehicle struck him in the head, causing serious injuries. He passed away Monday.

    Wilson was the first IndyCar driver to die as the result of a racing accident since Dan Wheldon’s demise in 2011, Reuters reported Tuesday. He was a former Formula 1 driver, having raced for Minardi and Jaguar in 2003. Wilson was also a husband, father of two and older brother to Stefan (himself an IndyCar alum).

    A video of the tribute drive is below courtesy of NBC Bay Area (video also available at that link if it will not load below).

  • Venturi, Ohio State set EV class speed record [Video]

    August 28, 2015
    Venturi Automobiles and Ohio State University have set a class speed record for electric vehicles, though the attempt fell short of its target.

    After setting the overall EV record of 307 mph in 2010 with the Venturi Buckeye Bullet 2.5 (VBB-2.5), the partners began building their improved purpose-build EV in 2013. Known as the VBB-3, the updated record-attempter boasts 3,000 horsepower from battery power alone.

    Unfortunately for the team, conditions at the Bonneville Salt Flats have been poor for the third year in a row. A wet July resulted in SpeedWeek’s cancellation earlier this month. The surface failed to completely dry in time for the VBB-3 run, shortening the track from 12 miles to 10 miles and leaving segments partially wet with bumpy mud and wet salt.

    “These conditions inevitable led to problems with the vehicle, causing excessive shaking of the VBB-3 and it’s components and ultimately disrupted the electrical system,” Venturi said in a statement.

    The team achieved a one-mile average speed of 240.3 mph, well short of the VBB-2.5′s record and even further below the car’s estimated 435+ mph top speed. Only one attempt could be made, as the front cooling tank was pierced after striking an object on the first rebound run.

    “In eleven years here I have never driven on such a difficult track,” said pilot Roger Schroer. “The car was sliding on the surface from one side to the other due to soft spots and bumps.”

  • Mazda disables remote-start app, cites server problems

    August 28, 2015
    Mazda has encountered a bit of trouble with its remote-start app after just a few weeks of operation.

    The company has disabled Mobile Start services for its iOS and Android apps until next week. A server problem is to blame, according to an e-mail distributed to owners and spotted by The Truth About Cars.

    “We regret to inform you that, due to a system outage at our supplier’s data center, the MMS website and smartphone application are currently unavailable,” the notice says. “We anticipate full system recovery on September 2, 2015.”

    The issue is said to have been caused by a power outage and did not result in the loss of customer data.

    Security researchers recently demonstrated a vulnerability in General Motors’ OnStar RemoteLink service, allowing a hacker to remotely start the vehicle or unlock the doors. The bug was quickly fixed, though a similar vulnerability was allegedly observed in remote-start apps from BMW, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Mercedes-Benz. Mazda was not listed among the at-risk automakers, however, and the latest glitch appears to be unrelated to security problems.