Apple’s CarPlay Has Just Been Released and Some People Are Disappointed

carplayFor years, companies have been falling over themselves trying to connect the growing technological world to the automotive world. There have been prototypes for autonomous cars that communicate amongst themselves on the road, there was the trial run of the infamous Google Glass (still in the works), and there has been endless chatter about bringing the web to vehicle dashboards. Well, Apple has finally released their latest answer to the technology/automotive question: CarPlay.

As many people already know, CarPlay has been one of the most talked about technological upgrades of the year; it is a gadget that creates connectivity between cars and a person’s iPhone. For ravenous onlookers, it’s been a long wait (9 months to be exact) since Apple’s original announcement of the gadget. This week at the Geneva Motor Show, the product was finally unveiled to the public.

And so far, it looks like there are mixed reviews on the device. But whether you like it or not may depend on if you are a “glass is half full” or “glass is half empty” type person.

On the bright side, CarPlay opens up a world that has never before been available, providing maps, messaging, music, and all of the best features of an iOS. Adding to the new plethora of functionality, CarPlay has also established a message control system that will be controlled by the driver’s voice. This feature will allow drivers to listen to their voicemails and go through texts with the help of Siri, the programs speech recognition “personal assistant.”

However, there is some grumbling about the current setup, including the voice activated system. One of the main questions is: why isn’t every app voice activated? Writer Jacob Kastrenakes is one of these critics; he says, “For some reason [messaging] is the only app shown for which Apple has made the interface almost entirely reliant on voice control…It’ll certainly prevent drivers from reading through their text message history when they shouldn’t, but it’s somewhat strange that this appears to be the sole app that Apple has designed this way.”

iphoneOf course, this isn’t the only criticism facing CarPlay. Many people are already complaining that the product does not move as fast as a smartphone or tablet. Then, others are wondering why there are no third party apps like Facebook and Twitter available. Really, all this sounds like is a bunch of nitpicking. And most people seem to be missing the point.

Today, people want their technology and their social media available to them 24-7 with no interruptions. If anything takes away from their full capacity to be plugged in, there is a infantile outcry. They don’t want their freedom to be limited! But what’s really bad about all of this is the fact that people are unwilling to admit that all of this technology may be dangerous. In a 2013 study released from Texas A&M, it was reported that the reaction times of drivers texting and/or using voice to text applications were twice as slow.  “The amount of time that drivers spent looking at the roadway ahead was significantly less when they were texting, no matter which texting method was used.”

The University of Utah released similar findings, too. In a study led by psychology professor David Strayer- who has worked closely with AAA over the years- driving is significantly impacted by hands free technology. He says,  “Our research shows that hands-free is not risk-free. These new, speech-based technologies in the car can overload the driver’s attention and impair their ability to drive safely. An unintended consequence of trying to make driving safer – by moving to speech-to-text, in-vehicle systems – may actually overload the driver and make them less safe.”

Unfortunately, consumers are paying very little attention to these findings. Being plugged in to the rapidly changing, high anxiety world is now what’s most important, and in a twist of irony, it’s the greedy, money driven companies that are showing some restraint.

The Lamborghini Huracan Is Making Believers Out of Us All

lambpFor Lamborghini, the Gallardo model was the brand’s top selling vehicle of all-time. During its decade long run, there were over 14,000 Gallardo’s produced, ranging in the $180-$210 thousand dollar range. It was a car that countless celebrities and big wig CEO’s wanted in on, and it was even featured on 60 Minutes. However, times have changed, and at this week’s Geneva Motor Show, Lamborghini showcased the Gallardo predecessor: the Huracan.

Leading up to its release, many critics were wondering if the Huracan could live up to the reputation of the Gallardo. USA Today writer, Chris Woodyard, says, “Huracan has big tires to fill: It is the replacement for the Lamborghini Gallardo, probably the best known supercar that brand has ever produced.” For Lamborghini, this type of pressure was no surprise. It only added to their determination to build an even better super car, which is exactly what they’ve done.

Amazingly at this week’s Geneva Motor Show, spectators were finally able to see the Huracan up close and in all its beauty. Immediately, the first thing that pops out is that the body of the Huracan features less sharp angles, providing a smoother, sleeker vehicle. Adding to the wave of change, this new ride will be powered by a 5.2-liter V-10 engine that fires up a superb 610 horsepower (this is an upgrade from the Gallardo’s 562 horsepower). Also, to build on the upgrades, the Huracan has both direct and indirect gas injection that is designed to provide better performance and fuel economy than the Gallardo.

Lamborghini CEO, Stephen Winklemann, says, “We wanted a redefinition of the supercar. We wanted a car that was easy and comfortable to drive on the roads and absolutely the highest performance on the tracks. And we wanted to bring innovative technology and absolute performance. It will be a milestone within Lamborghini’s history.” So far, it seems that Lamborghini has done just that. Reportedly, there are already over 1000 orders for the new car.

Across the web, writers and bloggers have been clamoring about the new technology that Lamborghini promised and delivered on. This car’s seven-speed dual-clutch transmission has clocked in at a top speed of 202 mph and a 0-62 speed of 3.2 seconds. Adding to the innovation is Lamborghini’s attempt to improve fuel efficiency- a long time criticism of the car. To do this, the Huracan has implemented a start-stop technology that automatically shuts off the car’s engine at stop lights.

Already, in the early hours after its release, the critics have all been silenced, and the Gallardo has seemed to fade off into our distant memories. Instead, all people can talk about is how great the Lamborghini Huracan is.

The Geneva Motor Show Facilitates Uninhabited Innovation at This Year’s Show

genevaOriginally held in 1905, the Geneva Motor Show is the premier international auto show. Much of this has to do with the beautiful setting of the show. If you’ve never seen pictures or been there in person, it’s worth checking out. Geneva is undoubtedly one of the most gorgeous cities in the entire world, laden with beautiful architecture and paradisiacal weather. Also adding to the locale’s appeal is the fact that Geneva ranks as one of the top ten richest cities in the world with a social scene that is rich with high end culture.

However, there is something else about the city that has led writer Paul Eisenstein to declare it as the perfect place for an auto show. He says, “In a word ‘neutrality’…Other major shows, however hard they try, typically lean a little bit backwards for their local manufacturers, or at least those who dominate the local market, whether Paris, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Detroit, or LA. Not in Geneva, where space and position are not influenced by national identity.”

This national nepotism has certainly played a role in this year’s award season. Back in January, there was a ton of criticism and backlash when the Detroit Auto Show ended up naming two GM vehicles as the car and truck of the year. Of course, it didn’t help that the awards led to a major media whirlwind and public statements of praise from high government officials (people that are criticism magnets).

Refreshingly, these problems have fallen by the wayside at this week’s Geneva Motor Show. Nobody is talking politics and bailouts. Nobody is questioning motives for positive reviews and winning vehicles. Instead, everybody is enjoying the show and focusing on the innovation. Some of this year’s most talked about vehicles include:

porsche911

1. The Porsche 911 RSR- this car has already gained a huge following, reaching near mythic proportions when it finished in both 1st and 2nd place at last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

 

 

 

 

rollsroyce2. The 2015 Rolls Royce Ghost Series II- this larger than life luxury car is equipped with twin turbocharged V-12 engines, which soup up an amazing 565 horsepower. This engine allows it to go from 0-60 in just 4.8 seconds: pretty impressive for a luxury car. Adding to its appeal are the classic stage coach doors.

 

 

 

 

ferrari3. The Ferrari California T- making its official debut at this week’s show, the new stylish Ferrari is already turning heads. This car comes equipped with a canvas roof and carbon fiber rollover bars and clocks in at an astonishing 155 mph.

 

 

 

 

erminiseittosei4. The Ermini Seittosei- this extremely lightweight (only 1500 pounds!) 2 seater is turning heads with its amazing power to weight ratio of 4.7 lb/hp. But don’t expect to see too many of these out on the streets. Reportedly, production will be limited to just 30 cars per year.

 

 

 

 

Lambo5. Lamborghini Huracan- Replacing last year’s all-time high selling Gallardo, the Huracan already has rich folks lining up to order the vehicle (700 have been requested so far). This year’s Lambo has new aluminum and carbon fiber components and can reach 202 mph! It is being priced at $233,000.

 

 

 

vwsubaru6. The Volkswagen Giugiaro Clipper and the Subaru Viziv 2- I am grouping these two cars together because they represent a new alternative door agenda in Geneva. With their vehicle, the Volkswagen has broken form tradition and has a door that opens upward. The Subaru, on the other hand, has a completely wild sliding door design. Very nice and very futuristic!

Obama Rolls Out New Fuel Efficiency Plan

obamaA few weeks ago, during his State of the Union address, President Obama promised that he would soon lay out more of the details on his plan to help facilitate higher fuel efficiency for big trucks. On Tuesday, he delivered. In a speech that was given in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, Obama said, “The goal we are setting is ambitious. But these are areas where ambition has worked out really well for us so far. [We want to] keep driving down oil and imports and what we pay at the pump.”

Of course, all of this goes with the recent push to go green here in the United States. It was just back in 2011 that the Obama administration released their first set of fuel efficiency standards. Based on studies done by the White House, it has been projected that the 2011 fuel efficiency plan will save about 530 million barrels of oil (which is more than we annually import from Saudi Arabia) and cut down greenhouse gas emissions by 270 million metric tons.

obamatruckObviously, the current plan to improve fuel efficiency standards in big trucks is a worthwhile goal. Currently, semi-trucks make up just 4% of the vehicles on the road. However, they also use up an astounding 25% of all road-fuel use and greenhouse gas coming from transportation!

To help promote this change, the administration is offering tax credits to all companies that are developing heavy duty alternative fuel vehicles, as well as companies that are working to provide these vehicles with resources to fill up their tanks on alternative fuels. So, don’t be surprised if you see more gas stations- especially near interstates- with special accommodations in the near future.

Further adding to the wave of change, Obama has asked Congress to end subsidies for oil and gas companies and help build an Energy Security Trust Fund to fund research and development for advanced vehicle technologies. Many skeptics don’t believe that Obama will ever get Congress to agree with all of this. As we all know, over the course of Obama’s presidency, his lack of leadership and/or inability to communicate with his peers has been the subject of much criticism.

obamaoilAlready, there is dissent amongst conservative minds, concerning Obama’s fuel efficiency plans. Author Erika Johnsen writes, “If pushing automakers, as President Obama promises, will really create jobs and wealth and other miraculous benefits, then why aren’t they already getting to work on these more fuel-efficient trucks themselves?”

The only thing left now is for Obama to turn the country and his peers into believers of this new plan (or as many Conservatives claim, a waste of time). In what has been called his “year of action,” Obama is still confident saying, “Every time someone says you can’t grow the economy while bringing down pollution, it turns out they’ve been wrong. Anybody who says we can’t compete when it comes to clean energy technologies- like solar and wind- they’ve had to eat those words.”

’57 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa Sells for $39.8 million

57 ferrariIn the past few months, there has been a lot of news swirling around classic cars being sold at record prices. Two weeks ago, this headline popped up again when a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa sold for $39.8 million dollars!! It set a United Kingdom price record and its story quickly made its way around the internet. Of course, this price is a big difference compared to the $4,000 they were going for back in 1965, a time in which cars from this era were undervalued.

The $39.8 million Testa Rossa (when translated means red headed) was sold in a private sale, so the exact details have not been disclosed to the public. One thing that is for sure is that the car was sold by English car dealer, Tom Hartley Jr. No one, however, is quite sure who the new owner is. Hartley said, “I can confirm that the car has sold, although due to client confidentiality we will not disclose the buyer…This Ferrari is without question one of the most important cars on the planet if not the most important because of its originality. While I won’t go into the terms of the sales, I am sure it will prove to be a great investment for the new owner.”

57ferrariNo one may know the new owner, but the history behind the sold automobile has been widely documented. The car was the chassis number- 0704- and was the Ferrari that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1958, 1960, and 1961. It also won races at historic venues like Sebring and Buenos Aires. Since its run as a racing dominant car, the classic Ferrari has been bought and sold by a number of wealthy Englishman. Also, it spent the better part of 30 years in the Henry Ford Museum just outside of Detroit.

Adding to the value of this vehicle is the fact that the vehicle has not been altered in any way. Ferrari historian Marcel Massini says, “It is so valuable because it is totally unmolested and not restored, genuine and very original.” Of course, the car has been kept in pristine condition, looking as alluring as the day it raced the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kentucky Sink Hole Swallows Up 8 Classic Corvettes

Image courtesy of USA Today

Image courtesy of USA Today

Yesterday, a gaping sinkhole swallowed up a number of classic cars at the National Corvette museum in Kentucky. In the past, this type of event may have been saved for a science fiction novel or some tall tale passed along through campfire conversations. But now, sink holes seem to be more and more prevalent, a new story popping up every few weeks.

According to museum officials, the Kentucky Corvette sink hole was detected yesterday at 5:45 a.m. when the museum’s motion sensors were alarmed. The sinkhole, which was 40 feet wide and 20 feet deep, devoured eight classic corvettes from the museum. According to museum spokeswoman Katie Frassinelli, “When you go in there, it’s unreal. The hole is so big, it makes the Corvettes look like little Matchbox cars.”

After hours of media speculation and coverage, onlookers and people close to the museum are still in shock that this actually happened. The museum’s sky dome structure and 100 foot vaulted ceilings always gave a sense of invincibility. Adding to the strength and power of the museum was the greatness that it contained, having winning cars from the Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500 amongst the vast collection. Bharucha, a Long Island Corvette Owners Association director, says of the museum, “There’s a sense of awe and you get a lump in your throat when you walk inside.”

corvette2

A picture of the 1 millionth corvette

Even though the dome structure and the above mentioned racing cars are still intact, there was a disorienting amount of damage. The showroom floor was chewed and eaten up, along with eight mangled classic cars. Among those victimized vehicles were a 1993 ZR-1 Spyder and a 2009 ZR1 “Blue Devil” that were on loan from General Motors. Other cars included a 1963 Corvette, a 1984 PPG Pace Car and the 1 millionth Corvette ever produced; these were all owned by the museum.

Unfortunately, all of this damage does not bode well for the museum. Sam Murtaugh, a marketing director at Mecum Auctions in Wisconsin, says, “How do you even begin to place a value on the 1 millionth Corvette built? It’s irreplaceable.” Making things worse is the fact that the museum was preparing for their 20th anniversary in August. They had plans to open a 184-acre Motorsports park and already had 5,000 people pre-registered to attend the park’s grand opening. After this tragedy though, these plans have been moved to the back burner.

Today, there is a team of geologists and engineers from Western Kentucky University exploring the sinkhole. For their research, they have adopted the help of remote controlled drones. Of course, all of this only adds further to the madness and science fiction appeal.

Bronx Couple Survives Incredible 50 Foot Fall

bronxThe Bronx is known for being tough. It’s the city where boxing legend Jake LaMotta threw his mitts around. It’s where Al Pacino grew up and drew from to create so many memorable cinematic monsters (long live Tony Montana! And Frank Serpico! And Michael Corleone!!!).

Last week, the Bronx got a little tougher with the report of a married couple free falling from 50 feet up in their car and walking out as if nothing happened. The accident happened when Carlos Broadbelt and Luz Cruz (both 54 years old) were driving on the Bruckner Expressway. Reportedly, they swerved to avoid a pothole and lost traction because of the ice buildup. From there, they glided over the top of the side railing and somehow landed directly on the wheels of their Toyota Matrix.

When recounting the event, Broadbelt said, “You don’t have time to think. All you do is hold on to the steering wheel and hope for the best. When I landed, I said, ‘Thank you God.’ There is a God. Those who don’t believe that there is a God; they are mistaken. Because I know there is a God. You saw the car.”

Broadbelt suffered two broken ribs and a sprained ankle, while his wife was kept in the ICU. Fortunately, both are doing well and are unphased by the incident. When asked about his injuries, “Broadbelt said, “Two broken ribs and a sprained ankle. That’s it. No big deal.”

The car, on the other hand, is shattered, looking as though it was blown up with a bomb.