Automotive black boxes evolve

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RoadboxFor now, if your car has a black box it's probably recording your speed, skids, steering wheel and pedal input and how many of your radio's presets are disco (not really). But PLK, a subsidiary of Hyundai, wants to offer you (or more likely your boss) a more talented black box. Their Roadscope device records all the above except for the bad radio, but adds lane departure warning and will take photos seconds before, after and during an accident. While it will be a big hit with fleet owners and rental agencies, priced under $300 the Roadscope could find its way into personal vehicles. Photo evidence could be a huge boost (or bust) during an acciden t trial.

PLK's Roadbox takes the recording feature even further, with wide-angle video recording of accident events.

It's such a good thing these things weren't around when we were in high school. Bald tires on Dad's Chevelle were enough evidence to convict us of school parking lot burnouts and donuts. But video footage just might have had another judge convicting us.

A shot of the Roadscope and a sample of its video after the jump.

[Source: Motor Authority]

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Toyota's sweat-sensing steering wheel will thwart drunk drivers

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A few months ago we told you of Nissan's plans to test an ignition interlock that would stop intoxicated would-be drivers from starting their cars. Several recent high-profile, alcohol-related accidents and fatalities in Japan have brought drunk driving to the forefront of lawmakers' minds, and Nissan appeared to be one of the first Japanese automakers to address the issue. Not one to let rival Nissan get the jump on them, Toyota Motor Corp. is said to be working on its own drunk driving inhibitor system. And it sounds pretty sci-fi to us. Actually, it sounds pretty Big Brother with huge potential safety concerns.

The Toyota system would involve sensors in the steering wheel that could detect alcohol through the sweat of the driver's hands. The system would stop drunk drivers from operating their vehicles by automatically shutting things down if it detects intoxication. And in case the steering wheel sensors don't detect the elevated blood alcohol content (say, if the driver was wearing gloves), sensors could also detect irregular steering inputs (please define "irregular" for driving enthusiasts), or cameras could even monitor the driver's pupils for signs of lack of focus (maybe they wear their sunglasses at night). If anything seems out of order, the vehicle would slowly come to a halt, hopefully not in the middle of freeway traffic. Better to get the drunk driver off the road, but anytime the car takes over the driving, we wonder whether the problem might actually be compounded.

[Source: Detroit News]

 

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Galpin's Boss 302 Mustang massage

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click image for mini gallery of 3 high res photos

With auction week about to explode in Scottsdale, it seems fitting to be talking about a car that might end up going across the block in 30 years. Taking a page out of automotive history, Galpin Ford in North Hills, California is one of those dealers known for adding some of their own tuning magic to factory performance cars. Just like the Yenko and Baldwin-Motion Chevys, Royal Pontiacs, and Grand-Spaulding Dodges, Galpin has built a reputation for doing things to their showroom vehicles to make them stand out at the local dragstrip or cruise night. They've been doing these specials for a long time and eventually built Galpin Auto Sports (GAS) in n earby Van Nuys to handle all of these tuner car projects.

At SEMA this year, they showed another new version of everybody's favorite tuner blank canvas, the Ford Mustang. This particular pony car was cloaked in the same Grabber Blue paint, shaker hood, rear louvers, jutting front lip, flat black hood and stripe package that defined Ford's Boss 302 back in 1970. And what self-respecting Mustang would be caught dead showing off all that Boss 302 garb without something under hood to back up the promise? Not this Galpin 'Stang, that's for sure. Galpin searched through the Ford performance parts catalog and picked out a new 302 crate motor for this project. Mated to a Tremec 5-speed, it should give modern mod-motor Mustang mourners something to brag about.

This particular car is for shows only right now, but shows an outside the box kind of thinking that makes Galpin special. Sort of a reverse resto mod. We liked it when we saw it in Vegas, but with approxi mately 6,000 other custom Mustangs on hand, it was hard to single this one. Especially when it was sitting next to the display of GT500s.

[Source: Galpin Auto Sports via Jalopnik]

 

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Honda Civic tops KBB list of Most Researched Vehicles in 2006

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This being January, we are getting a lot of end of year lists. Kelley Blue Book (www.kbb.com) has just released its list of the Top 20 Most Researched Vehicles of 2006. They had more than 140 million visitors to their website last year, and the vehicle that those people wanted to know about more than any other was the Honda Civic. Perhaps your silence at hearing this shows that the announcement is as revolutionary as MT picking the Camry as COTY, but these kinds of lists are useful in letting the industry know what cars are hot and which ones are not.

The list has been dominated by Toyota and Honda for the past couple of years and 2006 was no exception. The top nine cars were from those two manufacturers. And if you include Acura in the total, they accounted for 13 of the top 20. Although Honda had the number one spot, Toyota placed seven vehicles on the list to beat Honda's five listings. Six if you include the Acura TL, which finished at number 13. The Mustang was the highest placed domestic at number ten.

Check out the full list after the jump.

[Source: Kelley Blue Book]

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By the Numbers: December 2006

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The numbers are in for December, the last month of 2006, and it appears that those year-end sales drives produced results for many brands. We haven't seen this much green on the sales chart all the year. Congrats go to Kia for being the months Biggest Winner by posting a 66% sales gain over last year, and our sympathies once again go out to Jaguar, the Biggest Loser again this month, which on average sold 34% less this month. Strong gains were also posted by Audi (39.7%), BMW (21%), Hyundai (19.56%), Toyota (18.1%) and, look out, Saturn (41.8%). Last year at this time, however, Saturn was a three-vehicle brand, whereas this year it's been bolstered by the Aura, Sky Roadster, and even the Outlook, which tacked on 144 sales despite only being on sale for a fraction of the month.

BMW's strong sales overcame the small deficit o f the MINI brand to give the group as a whole a 20% increase in sales for the month, but again it's Toyota that continues to astonish with a 16.6% gain in December to follow up on its 15.9% jump in November. Both Ford and General Motors saw their sales fall over 9%, and Toyota Motor Co. was just over 5,000 units away from passing FoMoCo for the No. 2 sales spot in the U.S. this month. Toyota can take heart, however, its namesake division bested the Ford brand in December by just 173 units, making it the second-best selling brand in the U.S. behind Chevrolet for the month.

Keep an eye out for our By The Numbers: 2006 yearly wrap-up post later day.


Biggest Winner
Kia66% at 30,004 (12/05: 18,767)

Biggest Loser
Jaguar-34% at 1,553 (12/05: 2,445)

BRANDS
Acura 6.3% at 19,056 (12/05: 18,621)
Audi 39.7% at 11,897 (12/05: 8,842)
BMW 21% at 30,945 (12/05: 24,464)
Buick -24.5% at 15,986 (12/05: 22,002)
Cadillac 2.8% at 22,715 (12/05: 22,946)
Chevrolet -12.9% at 194,369 (12/05: 231,628)
Chrysler 11% at 55,839 (12/05: 52,208)
Dodge 9% at 88,489 (12/05: 84,023)
Ford -11.2% at 190,914 (12/05: 223,324)
GMC -14.4% at 41,770 (12/05: 50,688)
Honda 2.5% at 112,722 (12/05: 114,179)
HUMMER -10.9% at 6,928 (12/05: 8,079)
Hyundai 19.56% at 43,021 (12/05: 37,365)
Infiniti 5.9% at 13,112 (12/05: 12,856)
Isuzu 9.56% at 2,566 (12/05: 2,432)
Jaguar -34% at 1,553 (12/05: 2,445)
Jeep -10% at 46,087 (12/05: 53,218)
Kia 66% at 30,004 (12/05: 18,767)
Land Rover -9.65% at 6,014 (12/05: 6,913)
Lexus 9.9% at 37,235 (12/05: 35,186)
Lincoln 5.44% at 12,806 (12/05: 12,612)
Mazda 7.94% at 19,912 (12/05: 19,156)
Mercedes -6.39% at 28,115 (12/05: 31,192)
Mercury 6.16% at 13,809 (12/05: 13,507)
MINI 5.38% at 2,472 (12/05: 2,436)
Mitsubishi 6.39% at 9,910 (12/05: 9,673)
Nissan 4.2% at 78,663 (12/05: 78,397)
Pontiac -6.2% at 32,772 (12/05: 36,288)
Porsche 3.95% at 2,947 (12/05: 2,944)
Saab 32.7% a t 3,535 (12/05: 2,766)
Saturn 41.8% at 20,686 (12/05: 15,145)
Subaru 7.46% at 20,613 (12/05: 19,919)
Suzuki 14% at 7,317 (12/05: 6,662)
Toyota 18.1% at 191,087 (12/05: 168,093)
Volkswagen -20.2% at 19,942 (12/05: 25,956)Volvo -2.5% at 8,525 (12/05: 9,080)

COMPANIES
BMW Group 20% at 33,417 (12/05: 28,900)
Chrysler Group 4% at 190,415 (12/05: 189,449)
Ford Motor Co -9.43% at 233,621 (12/05: 267,881)
General Motors -9.6% at 341,327 (12/05: 392,041)
Honda America 3.0% at 131,778 (12/05: 132,800)
Nissan North America 4.4% at 91,775 (12/05: 91,253)
Toyota Motor Co. 16.6% at 228,322 (12/05: 203,279)

Note: December of 2005 had 27 selling days, whereas December of 2006 had 26 selling day. On acount of this, all percentages reflect a change in the daily average sales rate, not the difference in the number of raw units sold each month. The percentages, in effect, reflect the difference in how many vehicles were sold per day on average during each month.

 

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