Auto News for Nov. 30 – New Fiesta Unveiled

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 Ford has rolled out a new model of the subcompact Fiesta at its headquarters in Cologne, Germany, in four model trims aimed at a more upscale audience. But officials said details of what will be offered here in the U.S. will come later. The European model will retain the three cylinder engine, but for the first time, will have cylinder deactivation, (just one of them). The Fiesta has been a slow seller of late here, but sales have been stronger in Europe. Ford announced it has made more than a $1 billion profit in Europe this year, well above its target.

The East Liberty Auto Plant led the global production of the all-new 2017 CR-V.

The East Liberty Auto Plant led the global production of the all-new 2017 CR-V.

 Honda has announced pricing for the redesigned CR-V that will go on sale in December. The base price is $24,925, or $200 more than the existing fourth generation model.

 Self-driving cars may still be a way down the road but many people can already foresee the difference they will make to how we travel. In a new Ford-commissioned survey, many Europeans felt time behind the wheel would be better spent catching up with nearest and dearest, gazing out the window, or having a nap. It could even spell the end of the “school-run mum” – as 16 per cent would let kids travel alone. Of 5,000 adults surveyed, 80 per cent look forward to relaxing and enjoying the scenery, 72 per cent will chat on the phone, 64 per cent would have a bite to eat. Books and movies were close behind. On average, European drivers spend up to ten days each year in their cars and a previous survey showed people in major cities find their commute more stressful than their job.

 The major automakers will report on November sales tomorrow and analysts are optimistic to say the least. Many are predicting record sales thanks to two additional selling days this year compared to last. Edmunds.com predicts sales will increase 2.7 percent this year.

 

Auto News for Nov. 29 – Auto Makers Partner For Huge Charging Station Network

  BMW, Daimler, Ford and VW are planning a joint venture for ultra-fast, high-power charging stations along major highways in Europe.  The goal is the quick buildup of a sizable number of stations to enable long-range travel for battery electric vehicle drivers, an important step toward facilitating mass-market battery electric vehicle adoption. The projected ultra-fast charging network with power levels up to 350 kilowatts will be significantly faster than the most powerful charging system deployed today. An initial target is 400 stations with “thousands” planned by the year 2020. This does raise the question of whether auto makers could form the same kind of program here in the U.S.

 Look for information on the new Ford Fiesta right here tomorrow.

 The best lease deals these days are being offered on the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Infiniti Q50, according to Kelley Blue Book. The top deals for cash back and financing deals are being offered on the Hyundai Velostar, and the VW Golf.

 Rearview cameras, soon to be standard on all new vehicles, can be expected to prevent nearly 1 in 6 police-reported backing crashes, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The study compared rates of backing crashes for vehicles equipped with optional rearview cameras from four manufacturers with crash rates for the same models without the feature. On average, the cameras cut such crashes by 16 percent. Drivers ages 70 and older appeared to benefit the most.

 The Grand Cherokee has earned a five star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, its highest rating. That includes testing for a frontal collision with another vehicle, a side impact with another vehicle and a side impact with a pole.

 

 

Auto News for Nov. 28 – New Upscale VW Teased

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 Volkswagen is out this morning with a sketch of the Arteon, an upper midsize sedan that will make its debut at the Geneva Auto show in March. The fastback will apparently replace the CC in the VW lineup. There was no mention of price, specifications, or engine types. Look for production of the four door fastback to begin next summer with its arrival here in the states in 2018.

 Ford will reveal a new Fiesta tomorrow at an event in Cologne, Germany. Few details were released other than officials saying it will be sporty to drive with “an unmatched personality true to the spirit of the iconic small car that has delighted generations …”

 I don’t know how many people give a new car as a holiday gift, but if they also believe it should be wrapped in a festive bow, there is a company that does that. The Car Bow Store in Warminster, Pa., says it has sold over 25,000 bows per year. All are made here in the U.S.

 One of the comforts most Americans take for granted while driving was displayed for the first time this month in 1939 at the 40th Chicago Auto Show. The Packard Motor Car Company unveiled the first U.S. car with air-conditioning. The cooling and heating equipment in the Packard was located behind the rear seat in the trunk. Treated air reached the passenger compartment through ducts mounted between the seats and the rear window. Air-conditioning did not become a widely available, affordable option until well after World War II.

 

2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid – Looks, Feels More Expensive

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                  Nissan Rogue Hybrid

                 Lots to Like in a Hot Segment

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD – For the 2017 model year, Nissan made its compact crossover even more appealing, especially for those who more than satisfied their appetites over Thanksgiving, but don’t feel the same way about filling their vehicle’s gas tank.

 In addition to new front end styling, there are a number of changes for the new model year including Motion-Activated Liftgate, and improved Intelligent Cruise Control and Forward Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection.

 Among the interior enhancements are a new flat bottom steering wheel and leather-booted sport-mode shifter, and available heated steering wheel, memory for driver’s seats and mirror, and remote engine start. Enhanced interior materials and design features include new door and instrument panel finishers, new shift knob design, revised center console and console lid, and new seat fabric.

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 It all works to give the upscale SL model a more premium look and feel. Nissan, in many ways, has a hot competitor in one of the hottest segments of the market.   

 Now, about those who hate wasting time filling their gas tank. Enter the Rogue hybrid powered by a 2.0-liter four rated at 141 horsepower with 144 lb-ft of torque. Add in the 30kW electric motor and output climbs to 176 horsepower, or six more than the non-hybrid.

 This results in an estimated 33 city/35 highway miles per gallon compared with 26 city and 33 highway for the non-hybrid. In a week’s testing, I came in at 33.

 An “Intelligent Regenerative Braking” system partially recharges the battery during vehicle braking and additional fuel economy is provided by an Idle Start/Stop system.

 And thanks to some good thinking, the hybrid system does not chew up a lot of cargo space at 61.4 cubic feet, just a fraction below the non-hybrid.

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 The bugaboo here is the standard CVT transmission. It makes a lot of noise if you put your foot to the floor upon entering the interstate for instance with not a lot of forward progress.

 Around town that is less of an issue and in the day in and day out errand running, the charms of the Rogue show through.

 The Hybrid is only available in the SV and SL trim packages. The SL included a great Bose audio system with 9 speakers, six way powered driver seat with power lumbar, heated front seats and steering wheel, Navi, and a 7-inch touch screen display among other goodies.

 Second row rear seat A/C vents were a surprise addition with a dual zone ventilation system. The flat bottom steering wheel added a sporty touch.

 As is the case in many Nissans, the seats were extremely comfortable, controls were well placed, and all in all, the interior was a great place to be whether for the daily commute or a long road trip, something recent studies have shown we are doing, more and more.

 The lone bugaboo inside was the poor visibility to the right and left rear due to the Rogue’s exterior design. So do specify the blind spot warning system before signing on the dotted line.

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 Pricing has not been announced.

 The Rogue was easy to fall in love with in so many areas it is easy to recommend to those looking for a compact sport utility, especially if acceleration is not of great importance, but economy is.  

 Some stats:

 Powertrain

 2.0-liter 16-valve DOHC aluminum-alloy inline 4-cylinder, 30 kW electric motor, Nissan Intelligent Dual Clutch Control

 Horsepower (hp)

 176 (net)

 Transmission

 Xtronic transmission with manual gear shifts and standard Sport and Eco Mode switches

 Projected Fuel Economy – FWD

 33 mpg city

 35 mpg highway

 34 mpg combined

 Cargo Volume (cu. ft.):

 Behind 1st row

 61.4

 Behind 2nd row

 27.3

 

Auto News for Nov. 23 – 11.6 year old cars now average age

  Happy Thanksgiving to all. I hope everyone has a safe and pleasant journey if you are heading out. Talked to a friend last night who received two invitations to dinner tomorrow so I advised, “You better stop eating now!”

 The Auto News Column will resume on Monday, Nov. 28 and there will be a Saturday Road Test.

 IHS Markit said we are keeping our cars and trucks longer these days, with the average age now at 11.6 years. That may be a credit to improved reliability, but also longer finance periods. And that has some analysts worried about how this could affect auto sales in the years to come. On the other hand, those 11.6 year old vehicles will need replacement at some point.

2017 Honda CR-V

2017 Honda CR-V

 Production of the 2017 Honda CR-V is underway at the plant in East Liberty, Ohio. As you may know, this is a complete redesign for one of Honda’s best sellers with a roomier interior, new platform, and an optional 1.5 liter turbo four under the hood. Honda is claiming “best-in-class” rear seat legroom and more cargo space. This is the fifth generation of the CR-V in the two decades that it has been on the market.

 Toyota is recalling 834,000 Sienna vans from model years 2011-16 to repair a side door that could open when the vehicle is out on the highway. Owners should make doubly sure the door is securely latched and watch their mail for official notification of the recall, in mid-January.

 A German business publication is quoting a top VW official as saying it will no longer offer a diesel engine option here in the U.S. The pullout was confirmed by the Detroit News.

 On the face of it, you might not raise an eyebrow with the news that the pistons are returning to downtown Detroit. After all, given the city’s history that would only be logical. But this involves the town’s NBA Pistons who will move from Auburn Hills, Michigan, to the Little Caesars Arena starting next season. That will make Detroit the only North American city to have each of its four major pro sports teams housed within four blocks for the core downtown.

 Singer-songwriter Morrissey wants GM to stop offering leather seats, and replace them with vegan leather on seats, steering wheels and gear shifters, according to the Detroit Free Press. It is part of a broader campaign backed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. No comment from GM.

 The General is working with two groups to donate thousands of pieces of no longer needed office furniture to institutions and organizations in Michigan. The furniture is valued at about $1 million.

 For the second time in three months and the sixth time this year, new-vehicle retail sales in November are expected to slip from year-ago levels, according to a monthly sales forecast developed jointly by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive. U.S. new-vehicle retail sales in November are projected to reach 1,128,900 units, a 2.0% decrease from November 2015.  Full-month performance will be heavily influenced by sales during the Thanksgiving weekend, which is one of the busiest selling periods of the year and is expected to account for one-fourth of November sales.

 Deirdre Borrego, senior vice president and general manager of automotive data and analytics at J.D. Power, said: “The election had a minimal effect on vehicle sales. While sales volume was suppressed for a short period during the election, the declines were quickly recouped by the end of the election week. Although we are forecasting another decline in retail sales, it is important to note that in absolute terms vehicle sales remain close to record levels while transaction prices are at record highs. However, these results are being driven in part by elevated incentive levels, which represent a meaningful risk to the long-term health of the auto industry.”

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 Thanks to shifts in production schedules, Mazda announced its Miata MX-5 RF will be in dealer showrooms two months early. Approximately 500 retractable fastbacks will arrive nationwide beginning in early December, followed by wider-scale availability throughout the winter and spring.  

 

 

 

 

Auto News for Nov. 22 – Low Key Bolt Debut

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

 The Wall St. Journal reports the Chevrolet Bolt will have a slow roll out available only in California and Oregon at the end of the year. Further, the paper said the much talked about electric will have a “slow flow” debut in 2017. It had been expected the Bolt would have a much wider roll out this year. GM has said the car would have a range of 238 miles on a single charge and should come in around $30K figuring in tax credits. As of this writing, there has been no comment from GM on the WSJ report.

 Americans are buckling up. Ninety percent of all drivers and front seat passengers fasten their safety belts, according to the National Highway Traffic safety Administration. That is a one percent gain over a similar survey taken a year ago.

 As you get ready for Black Friday here is something to keep in mind. A National Safety Council poll found two-thirds – 66 percent – of drivers would make phone calls while driving through a parking lot, and 56 percent would text. Given the increased traffic in and around parking lots during the holiday shopping season, the Council is urging drivers and pedestrians to exercise additional caution.  On average, more than 50,000 crashes occur in parking lots and parking garages annually, resulting in 500 or more deaths and more than 60,000 injuries. Distracted walking is a serious safety issue, too. From 2001-2011, more than 11,000 pedestrians were seriously injured because they were distracted by their phones. “Parking lots are intense driving environments that require both drivers and pedestrians to pay close attention,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “It is discouraging that so many drivers are willing to add distractions to that mix.”

Poll respondents also said they would do the following while driving through parking lots:

Program GPS (63 percent)

Send or receive emails (50 percent)

Use social media (52 percent)

Take photos or watch videos (49 percent)

Use a smartwatch (43 percent)

Surf the Internet (43 percent)

Video chat (42 percent)

 

 

 

 Auto News for Nov. 22

 The Wall St. Journal reports the Chevrolet Bolt will have a slow roll out available only in California and Oregon at the end of the year. Further, the paper said the much talked about electric will have a “slow flow” debut in 2017. It had been expected the Bolt would have a much wider roll out this year. GM has said the car would have a range of 238 miles on a single charge and should come in around $30K figuring in tax credits. As of this writing, there has been no comment from GM on the WSJ report.

 Americans are buckling up. Ninety percent of all drivers and front seat passengers fasten their safety belts, according to the National Highway Traffic safety Administration. That is a one percent gain over a similar survey taken a year ago.

 As you get ready for Black Friday here is something to keep in mind. A National Safety Council poll found two-thirds – 66 percent – of drivers would make phone calls while driving through a parking lot, and 56 percent would text. Given the increased traffic in and around parking lots during the holiday shopping season, the Council is urging drivers and pedestrians to exercise additional caution.  On average, more than 50,000 crashes occur in parking lots and parking garages annually, resulting in 500 or more deaths and more than 60,000 injuries. Distracted walking is a serious safety issue, too. From 2001-2011, more than 11,000 pedestrians were seriously injured because they were distracted by their phones. “Parking lots are intense driving environments that require both drivers and pedestrians to pay close attention,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “It is discouraging that so many drivers are willing to add distractions to that mix.”

Poll respondents also said they would do the following while driving through parking lots:

Program GPS (63 percent)

Send or receive emails (50 percent)

Use social media (52 percent)

Take photos or watch videos (49 percent)

Use a smartwatch (43 percent)

Surf the Internet (43 percent)

Video chat (42 percent)

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday Road Test – Infiniti Q50 AWD

                              Infiniti Q50 AWD

                         Now For Something Different   

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By Ron Amadon

Damascus, Md. – This is one sleek and almost sexy design aimed at luxury car buyers who look down the street and see a lot of the Q50’s rivals.

 Since this is the age of change in our land, allow me to suggest that a test drive in the Q50 should be high on the list of those who want something distinct.

 Now that you are pondering differences, here is something the Q shares with a rival. That is the base engine, a 208 horsepower turbo four with 258 lb-ft of torque from Mercedes. In the Infiniti, the turbo was matched to a smooth and fast acting 7-speed automatic including a manual shift mode with rev matching that added a sporty touch.

 Economy wise, the combination with AWD is EPA rated at 22 mpg city, 28 highway for a combined 24. In mostly suburban and interstate travel I clicked in at 26 mpg for the week’s test.  

 The Q50’s base engine won’t exactly pin you back into the seat when you floor it, and the sound it makes at high end rpm’s is raspy. But, on the other side of the coin, there are potential buyers who will find the four exactly what they are looking for and equate 0-60 as something related to the preparation of an egg.

 And there is always the next upgrade, the 3.0-liter, 300 horsepower turbo 6, or the hold on to your hat Gertrude, 400 horsepower V6.

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 The interior was very nicely finished off and riders will know that you opted for a luxury car. Of particular note were the very comfortable multi-adjustable seats. It may take a bit of time to find that “exactly right” adjustment, and when you do, the Q50 will be the car for that long ride to Grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving. Two adults will be cosseted in the rear seats.

 Kudos to the Bose audio system with no less than 14 speakers sprinkled here and there that made up the “surround sound” package.

 The test Infiniti came with a $2,150 “Premium Plus Package” that brought many items that some would consider standard such as memory seat settings, power lumbar support, Navi, as well as heat for both seats and steering wheel. One feature will automatically heat the front seats on cold mornings thus eliminating the chance you arrive at work with a cold bottom. That brought the MSRP to $42,705.

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 It will take a while to figure out what the dual screens accomplish in the center stack. They can dish out multiple bits of information but finding them can be a chore. Suffice to say that navi functions live on the top screen but some of its controls live on the bottom screen. A demerit for the lack of support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

 Frankly, I would opt for the next engine choice up the line, the 3.0 V6 turbo with all-wheel drive for the added acceleration and with a view toward Old Man Winter who is already raising havoc in the Midwest.  

 You would end up with a luxury car that turns heads with its exterior styling, yet sends a message that you are not joining the crowd on the block when it comes to car shopping.

 With the turbo six there’s lots to like in Q50. There is a reason it is Infiniti’s best-selling brand.  

 Some specs for model year 2017:

 For 2017, new 2.0t Sport and 2.0t Sport AWD models are added, along with a new Design Package for V6-equipped Sport models. In addition, Red brake calipers and red “S” side fender badging are added to Red Sport 400 models

Models/grades

Q50 2.0t, Q50 2.0t AWD, Q50 2.0t Premium, Q50 2.0t Premium AWD, Q50 2.0t Sport and Q50 2.0t Sport AWD, Q50 3.0t Premium, Q50 3.0t Premium AWD, Q50 3.0t Sport, and Q50 3.0t Sport AWD, Q50 Hybrid Premium and Q50 Hybrid Premium AWD

Options/Packages

Moonroof, Spare Tire, Leather Seating, Premium Plus (2.0t, 3.90t, 3.0t Sport, 2.0t Sport), Direct Adaptive Steering, Technology, Maple Wood Accent, 19″ Sport Tire & Wheel, Design

Powertrains

2.0-liter inline turbo 4-cylinder (208 hp), 3.0-liter V6 twin-turbo (300 hp), 3.0-liter V6 twin-turbo (400 hp), 360-horsepower (net) Infiniti Direct Response Hybrid™ System with 3.5-liter V6, 50 kW electric motor and Lithium-ion battery

Transmission

7-speed automatic with Adaptive Shift Control (ASC) and manual shift mode with Downshift Rev Matching

Drive configuration

Rear-wheel drive or Infiniti Intelligent All-Wheel Drive System

Suspension

Independent double-wishbone front, multi-link rear, available sport tuning; available Dynamic Digital Suspension

Fuel economy

City/highway/combined

2.0: 23/31/26 mpg (RWD), 22/28/24 mpg (AWD)

3.0 – 300 hp: 19/29/23 (RWD), 18/28/22 (AWD)

3.0 – 400 hp: 20/26/22 (RWD), 19/26/22 (AWD)

 Technology & Safety

Available second-generation Direct Adaptive Steering,  Blind Spot Warning, Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection, Lane Departure Warning and Lane Departure Prevention, Intelligent Cruise Control, Backup Collision Intervention, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Forward Emergency Braking with pedestrian detection.

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Auto New for Nov. 18 – Job Cuts at VW – A bigger Subaru is Coming

  Volkswagen has announced it will cut up to 30,000 jobs, most of them in Germany, to achieve savings of about $3.9 billion. Top labor officials approved the idea with the assurance there will be no further job cuts until the year 2025. VW also said it would create 9,000 jobs as it ramps up its electric car lineup. VW said there would be job cuts here in North America but did not announce how many. VW shares moved higher in Germany on the news as the automaker regroups in light of the diesel emissions scandal.

subaru-large-1 subaru-large

 Subaru is thinking big, revealing a 3-row SUV concept adding the real thing will appear here in 2018. The VIZIV-7 Concept will fill a missing element in Subaru’s lineup. “We know customers in this segment want a full-sized vehicle and the next 3-row from Subaru will be the biggest Subaru vehicle ever,” said Takeshi Tachimori, corporate executive vice president. At 204.7 inches long the new offering would be 17 inches longer than any existing Suby, or 3 inches longer than a Chevrolet Tahoe. It will ride on a 117 inch wheelbase, longer than the Toyota Highlander or Ford Explorer, which officials view as the new model’s competition. The Detroit News said that a production version of the VIZIV-7 will appear next year.

 Tesla shareholders have approved the car maker’s acquisition of Solar City. Tesla hopes to close the deal in the near future, it already having been approved by the solar panel company’s shareholders.

 The Chevrolet Bolt has been named Green Car Journal’s car of the year. It cited the Bolt’s claimed 238 mile driving range, “stylish design, pleasing dynamics, and welcome suite of advanced and connected technologies.”

 Do you take your dog or cat with you on trips? If they are named “Bella” or “Max” they have the most popular pet names according to the new study from Nationwide Insurance.

 Volvo is promising that you will never have to stop at a gas station, go to a car wash or even take your car in for a service ever again, with the launch of a range of concierge services. It will roll-out a pilot program in San Francisco, targeting Volvo owners of the XC90 SUV and S90 luxury sedan. Research by Volvo has shown that more than 70 per cent of customers want fueling services at their fingertips, while 56 per cent want their car picked up for routine maintenance. Owners can use an app to identify concierge services available in the immediate vicinity and order them via their smartphone. Requests are sent to an authorized Volvo service provider, who will refuel the vehicle, perform scheduled maintenance, or whatever additional service the owner has requested. Owners will still have to pay the bill.

 

 

Auto News for Nov. 17 – C&D’s Top Ten – Chevy Does Well

  Car and Driver is out with its latest Top Ten vehicles list.

 They are:

 BMW M2/M240i

 Chevrolet Bolt

 Chevrolet Camaro

 Corvette Grand Sport

 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350/GT350R

 Honda Accord

 Mazda MX-5 Miata

 Mazda 3

 Porsche 718 Boxster/Cayman

 Volkswagen Golf/Alltrack/GTI/R

 The Accord has now appeared in 31 of CD’s yearly Top Ten lists.  

2015 Jeep® Compass Limited

 Among the introductions at the Los Angeles auto show is a new Jeep Compass. U.S. models will be manufactured in Mexico and will come with a 2.4-liter four that produces 180 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque. Transmission options abound with a six speed manual, six speed or nine speed automatic in the works depending on the model and drivetrain selected. Jeep said the Compass will appear in showrooms in the first quarter of next year replacing the current Compass and Patriot in the Jeep lineup.

stevio

 With crossovers and sport utility vehicles now outselling cars, it is no surprise that everyone wants to get into that act, including Alfa Romeo. It unveiled the midsize Stelvio and Stelvio Quadrifoglio SUV’s and they will have ample get up and go. The top of the line Quadrifoglio gets a bi-turbo V6 with 505 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque that will produce a 0-60 in just 3.9 seconds. Options include ultra-lightweight carbon fiber shell racing seats and high performance Brembo carbon ceramic brakes. The base model gets a 2.0-liter direct injection engine rated at 280 horsepower and 306 lb-ft of torque.

 Both share architecture that Alfa calls “La meccanica delle emozioni” (the mechanics of emotion) spirit. Both will come with all-wheel drive. In case you were wondering, the name Stelvio comes from one of the greatest driving roads in the world, the Stevlio Pass in the Italian Alps. The Quadrifoglio is already being called the “SUV that Ferrari will never build.” Prices were not announced, nor was the introduction date.

acura-interior

 Acura, meanwhile, showed off what it believes is the auto interior of the future, the “Precision Cockpit.” It is said to have “near production interior styling” and technology with a touchpad interface “ergonomically designed to eliminate the need to visually locate a button or a switch.” An advanced vision mode leverages sensors to display cars, pedestrians, cyclists and other objects – even those obscured from vision – using artificial intelligence to predict future pathways. All in all, pretty high tech stuff that we will see, and hopefully adapt, in future vehicles.