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Bryan Thompson Turns ‘Motor City Masters’ Winnings Into LGBT Car Design …



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Bryan Thompson

Motor City Masters


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Georgia designs armored car for Saudi Arabia

Tbilisi, Georgia, Aug. 29

By Nana Kirtzkhalia – Trend:

Georgian military engineers are designing a special armored vehicle for Saudi Arabia. An armored vehicle is designed for the evacuation of wounded servicemen from the battle area, head of the foreign trade department of the Georgian Military Scientific and Technical Center “Delta” Otar Chiteishvili told Kommersant radio Aug. 28.

Georgia participates in the tender announced by Saudi Arabia for this armored car design. Its sketches with technical characteristics were sent to the tender commission Aug. 26.

In case of winning the tender, the Georgian side will provide Saudi Arabia with 600 armored vehicles during the first year, but a few thousand vehicles within the contractual 10-year period.

The minimum cost of an armored vehicle is $240,000-$250,000.

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The car designer who turned a sailfish into a supercar

How would your boss react if he had to sign off for an expensive stuffed fish you’d bought on a whim on your holiday? Most of us would probably answer “not very thrilled”. But Frank Stephenson’s boss is not your average boss; his workplace is not your average workplace; and the fish? Well, that’s not your normal fish either.

Stephenson is design director of McLaren Automotive, the carmakers behind a range of highly prized, high-priced cars. While on holiday in the Caribbean, he noticed a sailfish on a wall in the resort where he was staying. A man working there told Stephenson that he was proud to have caught the fish because it was so fast. Stephenson was intrigued – he began doing some research on the species to find out why it was so quick.

The McLaren P1 hybrid supercar uses design tricks inspired by the sailfish’s skin (McLaren)

On the way back to London, Stephenson stopped off in Miami and went down to a local fishing village, where, in a stroke of luck, a local fisherman had just caught a sailfish. He bought it, sent it downtown to get it stuffed and eventually got it delivered to the scanning department of the McLaren Automotive aerodynamics laboratory in Surrey – where the carmakers set to work trying to learn the secrets of the super-speed fish’s abilities. It’s just one of a number of recent initiatives by automotive companies to try and learn from techniques that have been used in nature.

The sailfish is a kind of turbo swordfish; one that has been clocked swimming 100m in around half the time it takes Usain Bolt to run it. They are capable of these bursts of breath-taking speed in order to chase down the small, fast-swimming fish they eat. The analysis revealed that the scales on the sailfish’s skin generate little vortices that result in the fish being enveloped in a bubble of air instead of denser water. This reduced drag allows the fish to move even faster.

Evolutionary design

McLaren’s designers applied the same texture as the scales of the sailfish to the inside of the ducts that lead into the engine of their P1 hypercar. This increased the volume of air going into the engine by 17%, improving the car’s efficiency: the P1 has hybrid engines creating 903 horsepower and thus needs large amounts of air pumped into the engine to help combustion and engine cooling.

The P1 also borrowed from the sailfish little ‘diplets’ on the torso of the fin where it meets the tail fin that the fish uses to straighten out the flow of pockets of air and water that move past it. This, Stephenson says, made the car more aerodynamic.

Stephenson’s sailfish now has pride of place on the McLaren design studio wall (McLaren)

Nature has had millions of years to evolve its designs, says Stephenson, which is why he is trying to incorporate those tricks into his projects. “It just simply makes sense,” he says. “How can a lizard go upside down and stick to the surface for example? Well, if you can find out why, you can just apply that technology to the tyres of the car such that when the surfaces are wet, there’s no way that the car can slide.”

Hydrodynamic principles have often been refined by nature long before humans discovered them. For example, engineers from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries have recently developed an air lubrication system that separates water from the surface of ships to reduce drag up to 80%; gas is not as dense as water, so the ships has less friction and glides more easily. This is a similar technique to that used by the sailfish. And it turns out it’s just as useful on land as it is in the water.

Boxfish brainwave

The McLaren design studio is a mix of science lab, art workshop and music rehearsal space.  Its aim is to help designers gain a cutting edge, by taking them out of their comfort zone. “Everyday I’m doing research in my office, it looks like I’m studying biology in my office rather than car design,” says Stephenson.

McLaren have some company in this biomimicry department. Mercedes Benz’s bionic car was inspired by a boxfish with hexagonal plates on its outer skin which is like a “suit of armour”, giving the fish rigidity, protection and manoeuvrability. The cube-shaped structure doesn’t create drag; by mimicking this boxy shape, engineers were able to achieve a record-breaking drag coefficient – a value used to quantify the amount of resistance an object faces whilst trying to move through air or water. The Mercedes Benz engineers also managed to lower fuel consumption by 20%, and lessen nitrogen oxide emissions by 80%.

The boxfish’s plate-like scales are another design copied by car manufacturers… (Wikimedia Commons)

Japanese carmaker Nissan, on their quest to create the ultimate collision-free vehicles, have created small “cute” robots called Eporo, which also feature tricks learned from creatures living beneath the waves. “We needed to look no further than Mother Nature to find the ultimate form of collision-avoidance systems in action, in particular, the behavioural patterns of fish,” says Toru Futami, the engineering director of advanced technology and research. The movement of fish, which move in schools and avoid obstacles en masse, is the elementary principle of the algorithm that the locomotion of the robots is built on. “This algorithm is very simple,” adds Susumu Fujita, the co-creator of Eporo.

“Fish follow these three rules: Don’t go too far, don’t get too close and don’t hit each other” explains Futami. The robots have already inspired features in Nissan cars including Intelligent Brake Assist (IBA) and Forward Collision Warning (FCW). These are the bases that the new autonomous cars could be built on, eliminating the need for lanes, traffic lights and even indicators. Even some car parts could become obsolete. “We have systems that are going to eliminate the need for windscreen wipers – you don’t see animals with windscreen wipers on their eyes,” asserts Stephenson.

… In this case to create the shape of their new Bionic concept car (Mercedes-Benz)

Of course, not all inspiration comes from underwater. The Eporo, for example, contain Laser Range Finder (LRF) technology that was developed in a previous project from Nissan. It is inspired by the way a bumblebee can detect objects across a wide range, and can sense obstacles up to two metres away in a 180-degree radius. If one is detected, the robot is able to turn its wheels at right angles or greater to avoid collision.

Biomimicry has become a watchword for many car companies, but nature’s secrets are also having an effect off the road. Recently, Nasa also asked members of the public to select a spacesuit for the future, one of which  was inspired by “the scaly skin of fish and reptiles”.

Increasingly, designers are finding that nature’s tricks can surpass their own ideas. And so it makes sense to seek that inspiration from anywhere – even a stuffed sailfish on the wall of a resort in the Caribbean.

Video produced by Dalmeet Singh Chawla, recording by Van Le. Music by Mehmet Ece.

Video images: Science Photo Library/ National History Museum, Tring/Shannon, Flickr/McLaren Automotive

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Acura’s design chief: ‘Through cars, I’ve met everybody’





Krishnan M. Anantharaman

Automotive News
August 25, 2014 – 12:01 am ET

MONTEREY, Calif. — In the auto design world, there are the suave, black-turtleneck types and there are guys like Dave Marek, a chatty hot-rodder who’d rather skip a fancy dinner than get dressed up for it.

The 57-year-old global creative director of Acura is one of the key decision-makers in the new Acura Business Planning Office, a task force charged with reinvigorating Honda’s luxury brand and cementing its identity. If Marek gets his way, that identity will be defined not by floaty sedans, but rather by performance models such as the coming NSX supercar.

“The brand started that way, and needs to retain its roots in a performance-based image,” said Marek, whose tenure at American Honda began in 1986, around the time Acura was born.

In addition to Acura’s production vehicles, Marek oversees designs for Acura’s motorsports program, such as vehicle graphics and paint schemes and styling of prototype vehicles.

During afternoon competition at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at the Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca near here, he spoke with News Editor Krishnan Anantharaman, though his eyes tended to wander toward the zoom of the cars on the track.

Q: What kinds of cars get your attention?

A: Non-ours, you mean? Any Porsche race car I’m just fanatical about. Road cars — it’s gonna be what everybody likes. Exotic cars always get everybody, I think.

I have a lot of friends in the design business because of my longevity, and I teach at Art Center, so I know every student that has come through. So whenever I see a car they did I have some pride in that, that I knew that I helped teach them.

I’ve always been a 911 guy. The progression of that car from inception — you know, I had a ’67, so I had the first year — and then you see what they’ve become. I’ve always admired that.

I like the Tesla. I like the feel of it. It feels modern but normal enough to get people to buy it.

That’s a great hat. What do you look for in a hat?

I am a hat guy. The New Jersey hat is always good. Honest to God, It’s like a car. I literally will buy hats and I wear them backwards because of the rake. I can’t have them be the wrong attitude on your head. So I’ll turn them around.

How many watches? How many pairs of glasses?

I have a Swatch collection. I probably have 300 Swatches and other watches. A hundred pairs of glasses. And I go through them. Glasses, more than anything, are like cars, because other than Ray-Bans or something classic, I’ll pick them up and go, “Dude, those look old now.” I’ll just eliminate those, and they just kind of sit there because I can’t bear to part with them. But then I started giving them to Out of the Closet or Goodwill because people need glasses. Why am I hoarding these?

I’ve painted some. I’ve taken them apart and painted them and put them back together. It’s more for the individuality, something unique about them. No one else has these. “Where’d you get those? I painted them.”

You’ve had some interesting celebrity encounters. Which ones stand out?

I was standing with Brad Pitt. He goes to this restaurant in Hollywood called Mexico City. And there’s a big line for the bathroom. I think it was Cinco de Mayo. He’s standing there, right behind me. And I can feel him being edgy, like he really had to go, and he’s kind of bumping a little. I turn around and I go, “Just ’cause you’re famous, you ain’t cutting in front of me.” He started laughing and said, “That’s OK.” But then we kind of had a conversation.

It’s fun to just encounter them because you never know what their personality is going to be — or mine. I’m not very vocal about what my profession is. And most of them, when they get down into it … they’re like, “Wow, that’s so cool!” Because, you know, rock stars want to own cars, and car guys want to be rock stars. Through cars, I’ve met everybody.

What’s your office like?

When you walk in, there’s a full-size model, a full-size model, a full-size model and they’re all lined up, and you can view them all [in a row] … which is perfect for me because I want to see what the hierarchy is and what’s happening at the time.

And everybody seems to work around the models. We all have desks, but everybody is on the floor, and they all work down by the car. We’re Friday-casual all the time. We’re actually Saturday-casual all the time.

What’s in your garage?

Uh, a bunch of old refrigerators? No. I don’t own a car right now. It’s amazing. You get to a point where you’re like, it’s going to be that or that. I’m gonna get maybe an old [Porsche] 550 or I’m going to get a ’55 Chevy or a ’32 Ford. Daily it changes with my mood.

The car I want is unattainable: a [Porsche] 917/30. That’s the car I just go ape over.

• Title: Global creative director, Acura

• Age: 57

• Born: Sacramento, Calif.

• Attended: Art Center Academy, Pasadena, Calif.

• Hired: 1986

• Interests: Auto racing, hot-rodding, collecting watches and eyeglasses

• Drives: Acura MDX

You can reach Krishnan M. Anantharaman at

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NCSU police car wins award in Law and Order magazine


The Campus Police car’s winning design was praised by Law and Order magazine, a nationwide law enforcement publication, for being clearly marked and easily recognizable. 

Posted: Monday, August 25, 2014 12:04 am

Updated: 12:08 am, Mon Aug 25, 2014.

NCSU police car wins award in Law and Order magazine

Jess Thomas, Staff Writer

The NC State Police Department recently won a grand prize for the design of one of its police vehicles in the law enforcement magazine Law and Order, and a photo of the car’s design was featured on the front cover for the nationwide publication. 

The magazine cited choosing the NC State police car as the winner because of its clean and striking graphic design.

Campus Police Chief Jack Moorman said the decision was based on several criteria including visibility and safety of the car. 

“Some of the things that they were looking for were that they wanted to make sure the vehicle was clearly marked and easily recognizable,” Moorman said. “For our design, we have the block S logo incorporated into the design as well as the NC State logo.”

Moorman said winning the contest also won some publicity for the police department. 

“A number of people have come up and have taken a look at it, and being on the cover of the magazine has resulted in some good exposure about our police department, and I’m very glad that we were able to win,” Moorman said.

Campus Police has been accredited by both the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies and the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, Moorman said.

“We have a very good reputation among university police departments and law enforcement agencies in general,” Moorman said. “We are still the only police department to my knowledge in the state of North Carolina to be credited by CALEA and IACLEA.” 

Moorman said having both accreditations has hugely enhanced the reputation of the NC State police department. 

“If both the organizations accredit you, it ensures that you’re doing above and beyond what is required, and we received accreditation with excellence when we were evaluated,” Moorman said.

Shahzeb Khan, a senior in biochemistry, said he had never paid attention to the design of the police car until recently, but thought it was an interesting design.

“I never actually noticed the police cars until I was driving next to one, and then I saw that it was a pretty cool car and had a good color scheme,” Khan said. 

Khan said he was surprised the Police Department was awarded for the design in a nationwide publication, but thought it deserved the recognition.

Brian Iezzi, a junior in material sciences, said the NC State police cars are well-designed because they were easily distinguishable.

“It’s actually a good design when you think about it, so it’s no surprise that they won because you can see the car from down the road, and it’s pretty well-designed as well because the NC State color scheme is on the car as well,” Iezzi said.


Monday, August 25, 2014 12:04 am.

Updated: 12:08 am.

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“Mustang Unleashed”: Designer T-Shirts For A Classic Sports Car

To fuel your love of cars,

visit the Autos section.


DEARBORN, MI — (WWJ) Ford thinks Mustang is ready for its place in the fashion world, with a collection of t-shirts, designed by some of the hottest names in fashion.

“Mustang is really the soul of the Ford brand,” said Kim Cape, Ford group marketing manager. “We know that Mustang reaches many of its fan base, including many enthusiasts. But we also have an opportunity with Mustang, given the self expressive, the authenticity, to reach a broader base.”

LINK — Mustang Unleashed Information

These are not the type of Mustang t-shirts you would expect to see somebody wearing to a NASCAR race. They are aimed more at somebody looking for a trendy, casual night on the town. Cape says Ford teamed with five different designers, and had each one do three shirts.

“We have a total of fifteen t-shirts, very authentic and expressive of the Mustang design, influenced by Mustang and all the design cues.”

A press release from Ford described each of the designers:

Anna Sui: Detroit native Sui and Mustang have quite a bit in common. Sui’s designs illustrate a rock ’n’ roll fantasy – reflecting the freedom, authenticity and inspiration embodied in Mustang
Rogan Gregory and Scott Mackinlay-Hahn of Rogan: With a respect for soulful minimalism and traditional quality, Rogan’s designs were inspired by the raw American heritage expressed in the modern, high-tech Mustang. The designer incorporated this into the graphics of the shirt, using the simplicity of natural, hand-drawn lines
Paula Cademartori: Cademartori’s passion for femininity and fine details are distinct in her designs and collection of bags. For her, “unleashed” represents power, freedom and creating new experiences. Cademartori’s Mustang-inspired designs highlight geometric shapes, the fantasy of color and glamour
Tomaso Anfossi and Francesco Ferrari of CO|TE: With a philosophy of freely interpreting established design themes from a contemporary point of view, CO|TE – like Mustang – moves forward and pushes boundaries. The inspiration comes from thinking without preconceptions, while paying attention to quality and tradition. CO|TE designs showcase Mustang’s attention to detail and geometric elements
Pamela Love: Love, with a passion for unique jewelry pieces, and Mustang come together as artifacts of a narrative. The inspiration comes from Mustang’s enduring role in American pop culture, and the idea of moving forward while leaving the past behind. Love’s designs highlight the horse as a symbol of power, strength and freedom

“Having grown up in Detroit,” said Sui, “I wanted to incorporate my memories of Mustang and celebrate the spirit of pop culture and Americana in my designs. As a designer, I am constantly inspired by everything around me and often include a nod to my roots – referring to nostalgic, romantic and rock influences – just like Ford Mustang.”

Michelle Silvestri, who took the lead on the project for Ford ad agency “Team Detroit” says they wanted a diverse collection of products.

“Each of these designers are so different in their aesthetic, yet each one celebrates very similar notions.”

The shirts, Ford says, will be made of “100 percent organic” cotton by manufacturer Loomstate. They will cost $39 each, and be sold online through Gilt, a high end retailer, at Pre-orders will be taken starting Tuesday, August 26th.

“We are excited to work with Ford to exclusively launch the Mustang Unleashed collection on,” said Steven Schneider, president, Gilt City and Gilt Business Development. “We’re always looking for ways to give our members access to unique products and experiences they can’t find anywhere else. This is a perfect opportunity to bring together fashion and automotive design in a way we know our members will love.”

The t-shirts, which are for both men and women, follow a successful campaign promoting Mustang inspired nail polish. They’ve sold four million kits to date.
Ford’s Kim Cape says this is one of the biggest steps in so called “guerrilla marketing” that Ford has undertaken.

“This truly is leveraging Mustang, and its influence in pop culture, a very big step for Ford brand and Mustang.”

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Mini Backs Design of Stained Glass Driverless Car [w/Video]

Sure, it sounds like something Pope Francis might drive, but Mini is backing the design of a stained glass car. And, this being the 21st century, of course it’s also driverless.

For the upcoming London Design Festival (Sept. 17-21, if you’re interested), Mini has brought together progressive young designers to explore how design and technology could transform the way we travel in years to come. Apparently stained glass is on the agenda.

RELATED: See Photos of the Pope’s 1966 Chrysler Imperial LeBaron

British artist, designer, and inventor Dominic Wilcox came up with the idea. He thinks because cars will be fully automated in the near future, there is going to be no need for crumple zones, airbags, and other ugly safety technology. Frankly, I never cared what my safety technology looked like as long as it saved me in a collision.

RELATED: See Photos of the 2015 Mini One

Wilcox suggests, “The safe, driverless cars of the future will free up designers to create radically different car designs, ones that you can just sit in and sleep while it drives you to your destination. I was really struck by the stained glass windows of Durham Cathedral. I thought, ‘Why don’t we use that so much in contemporary design?’”

Actually, Wilcox is thinking of future design. In the accompanying video, he ponders what transportation will be like in 2059 when Mini celebrates its centennial. Like others, he espouses the belief it will be safer to be in a driverless than one piloted by a human. “We can have a shell of any kind,” he says, explaining the motivation behind his stained glass car.

Curious if that stained glass car will get you to heaven any faster during a crash?

RELATED: See Photos of the 1970 Austin Mini

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California DMV says Google’s autonomous car tests need a steering wheel

Traditionally, Google’s self-driving car prototypes have taken existing cars from manufacturers like Toyota and Lexus and bolted on the self-driving car components. This is less than ideal, since it limits the design possibilities of the car’s “vision” system and includes (eventually) unnecessary components, like a steering wheel and pedals.

However, Google recently built a self-driving car of its own design, which had no human control system other than a “go” button. The California DMV has now thrown a speed bump in Google’s car design, though, in the form of new testing regulations that require in-development self-driving cars to allow a driver to take “immediate physical control” if needed.

The new law means Google’s self-designed car will need to have a steering wheel and gas and brake pedals while it is still under development. According to The Wall Street Journal, Google will comply with the law by building a “small, temporary steering wheel and pedal system that drivers can use during testing” into the prototype cars. The report says California officials are working on rules for cars without a steering wheel and pedals, but for now, a human control system is mandatory.

Self-driving cars have the potential to change the way automobiles are made, and Google’s prototype car was just the first step toward that future. Cars today are built to crash, with tons of metal reinforcement, crumple zones, seat belts, and a million air bags. When everything is self-driving, and cars never (or at least rarely) crash, most of that safety equipment can be ripped out, resulting in a much lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicle. You also don’t really need headlights, windows, or mirrors, since all of those are human vision assistants. All of these things make sense in a fully autonomous future, but lawmakers will have a tricky time deciding when that changeover can happen.

Google has taken a few steps toward that future with its self-designed electric vehicle, and while adding a steering wheel and pedals will dial the futurism back a notch, the cars are still beneficial in other ways. Google made the front and back of the car nearly flat, giving the roof-mounted LIDAR and other sensors a less-obstructed view of things around the car. The ground-up design also allowed Google to embed sensors in an optimal position without worrying about mounting them to an existing structure. The cars are even fully electric, allowing Google to test its cars while causing a minimal carbon footprint.

Another interesting tidbit in the WSJ mentions Google’s desire to explore self-driving vehicles in other form factors. Google petitioned the DMV to allow it to test automated trucks and motorcycles on the public roads, but the DMV declined.

The report says Google hopes to put regular drivers in autonomous cars in “a couple of years,” and the company is thinking that the cars would be valuable when provided as a service—like an automated taxi. Claire Hughes Johnson, a Google self-driving car executive, was quoted as saying ”You may not be able to buy one, but you may be able to drive in one in the next five years.”

Update: We’ve updated this post to clarify that the steering wheel and pedals are only required for self-driving cars that are still in development. The California DMV rules will allow for consumer versions of autonomous cars without direct controls.

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Fremont Police car design wins first place

The Fremont Police Department’s new blue-on-black cruiser design is getting attention.

The design, which first hit the streets a year ago when the department rolled out two new Ford Taurus cruisers, was adapted to a new Ford Explorer six months ago.

The current issue of Law and Order magazine awarded the Explorer first place in the Municipal 10-to-50 officers West Division cruiser design contest.

Judging was based on overall appearance, safety and the ability to identify it as a law enforcement vehicle.

Judges’ comments were that the blue-on-black design “really stands out and catches your eye. The seal and badge on the front are just the right size.”

Police Chief Jeff Elliott said officers told him shortly after he took over the office in the fall of 2012 that they wanted to change the cruiser design.

“We had the same design on the cruiser for nearly 20 years at that point,” he said.

“One of the things the officers wanted was a black and white car,” Elliott said. “When we looked at the black and white cars, the cost was anywhere from $900 to $1,200 more per car. We didn’t have that in our budget, so we started looking at black.

“I talked to the chief in Bellevue, and he said he ordered white cars and accidentally got a black one. He kept one of the black ones and it looked really nice, so I thought let’s go with black,” Elliott said.

Lt. Glen Still took over the design process with input from other officers.

“He was working with a company to make the design,” Elliott said. “They made a design for us, but initially (the decals were) red. I didn’t like the way the red looked because it made it kind of look like a fire marshal’s car. So Glen got ahold of them and asked them to change it to blue. … It looked better than we anticipated.

“I’m proud of the work that Lieutenant Still did on this and the input from the other officers, because several of the officers helped guide us in getting this to design,” he added.

A feature of the design is more reflective striping and lettering, helping to make the car more visible at night.

“With our old design,” Elliott said, “the striping is reflective, but there wasn’t a lot of it there. With this new design, during the day this is very visible, the black really stands out. And then during the night, with the new decals, it stands out much greater, especially against the black background.

“One of the things that I think made it stand out was we had our patch put on the front of the car, I think that’s what makes the whole thing stand out,” he said. “Additionally, one thing that we added was our motto at the bottom, which is ‘Committed to Excellence, Proud to Protect,’ and we never had that on the cars before.”

The magazine article mentioned that a trend in law enforcement vehicles is incorporating symbols, mission statements and mottos in their design.

“We really liked the design, and everyone we showed it to thought it was really neat, so we thought, let’s enter this in a contest. Lieutenant Still took it upon himself to get photographs of it and get the entry form filled out, and he got it entered in the contest,” Elliott said.

Five cars – roughly half of Fremont’s fleet – have the new black design now. As older white cruisers are rotated out of service, their replacement vehicles will include the new design.

The department currently has two sport utility vehicles, but only the Explorer has the new design. An older Ford Expedition has the white paint scheme.

“The reason we need an SUV is because we need a vehicle that can get around reliably in the snow,” Elliot said. “The current SUV has 140,000 miles on it, and its years of service are passing quickly, so we wanted a new SUV.

“It’s actually a supervisor’s car,” he said.

Aside from navigating snowy roads, the SUVs also offer more interior roominess.

“Our larger officers have problems getting in and out of the Taurus,” Elliott said, pointing out that officers wear bulky gear, and cruiser counsels are packed with electronics equipment ranging from siren and light switch boxes to scanners, radars and video cameras.

“It gets hard to maneuver in those Tauruses, and these SUVs give a little more room to some of those big guys,” he said.

“Another thing is the back allows for more room to carry additional equipment when it comes to rifles, shields, accident investigation equipment, AEDs and all that kind of stuff. It’s easier to put that in the back and get at it than it is the trunk of a cruiser,” he said.

“Eventually,” Elliott said, “we’d like to move toward more SUVs. … I know that some of the guys driving Tauruses would love to have SUVs, but we just don’t have enough of those right now and don’t have the money to buy them.”

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Renovo Coupe Pairs Iconic Design With Electric Performance: Video


One indication that electric vehicles are clearly ready for the mainstream market is that they’re already becoming desirable in the rarefied atmosphere of the supercar and sports car markets.

The Renovo Coupe might not be much use for the average commuter–if only for budgetary reasons–but as a tool to demonstrate just what electric cars can do (wrapped in a wonderfully pretty body), there are few better vehicles.

Renovo launched its electric supercar at the recent Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, seen here in XCAR‘s interview of CEO Christopher Heiser.

Heiser says the company name alludes to the concept of being renewed or reborn–the company aims to do something new in the market and to offer customers a new experience.

If you’re not familiar with the Renovo’s shape and color scheme, the name ‘Shelby’ might refresh your memory–each car is an electric interpretation of one of America’s most significant automobiles, the Shelby Daytona Coupe.

Indeed, the Coupe is based on a genuine Shelby chassis and modified for its new electric drivetrain, before being delivered to Renovo’s Silicon Valley facility for completion. It’s even been re-styled by Peter Brock–the man who designed the original back in the 1960s.

So secretive was the project until the Pebble Beach launch, the Coupe had only been tested at night, away from the watchful gaze of the public.

MORE: Saleen FourSixteen Is Modified Tesla Model S: Full Details

Still, if you’re being stealthy, an electric powertrain is clearly the way forward–even one producing over 500 horsepower, 1,000 lb-ft of torque and launching the stunning Daytona body to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds.

It’ll also fast-charge in 30 minutes, though Renovo has kept the range low to ensure curb weight (3,250 lbs) is also low–each Coupe will do a middling 100 miles on a charge. For a car aimed mainly at wealthy customers wanting fun weekend toys, that’s perhaps not such a bad thing.

Attention to detail is stunning and puts paid to any suggestions that electric vehicles can’t be emotive objects–from the drivetrain which looks as good as any internal combustion engine to the interior with its clasically-styled yet up-to-date digital gauges, to the LED headlights in classic perspex covers, it’s an intriguing mix of new and old.

As we’ve found with other companies such as EV West and Zelectric Motors, the cars themselves are as important as the powertrains in projects like this.

Electric powertrains aren’t just a way of making vehicles cleaner (though that’s of course a hugely important factor); they also enable a whole new way of building desirable cars and performance models.

Heiser describes it as “game-changing”. He’s right–while few will get to try out cars like the Renovo for themselves, on an industry scale electric performance cars like the Renovo Coupe really could take performance in a whole new direction.


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