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A heads up on 2008 cars and driving

By: staff

Date: Friday, 11. January 2008

On New year's day, 2008, took a quick scan of the landscape ahead for drivers, driving and automobiles.

Hydrogen powered cars

A blog at notes that there wasn't much discussion of hydrogen - powered autos in 2007 but observed that BMW put 100 hydrogen-powered cars in the hands of celebrities including Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. However, the blog does't hold out much hope for the H-machines in the near future.

Smart cars

Daimler Chrysler will push its Smart cars in 2008.

Daimler Chrysler to push Smart in 2008. Beginning in early 2008, the successor to the Smart ForTwo will be available in U.S. markets in three models. The cars will be distributed by international automotive retailer UnitedAuto Group. (More info and NYC photo-op after the jump).

You can reserve a SmartCar at

Cool features has announced its list of "top ten cool features" for 2008:

Satellite radio, heated front seats, navigation systems, Auxiliary steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, iPod integration, Bluetooth connectivity, Air filtration systems, Keyless entry, Chilled glovebox, Liftgate speakers.

Roads and traffic

The U.S. DOT Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is looking to smart sensors and traffic signals to alleviate traffic congestion. The DOT is linking up with communities across the country to experiment and search for congestion solutions.

"Through Urban Partnership Agreements, USDOT and its partner cities will use an unprecedented, four-pronged approach that includes tolling, transit, technology, and telecommuting. With new technology as the key enabler, the four parts will work together to spread the traffic load more evenly across the transportation system." (Public Roads Magazine Nov./Dec. issue 2007)


The U.K.s London led the world with its "congestions tax" in 2003. Now Italy's Milan takes things further along the same path with its "pollution charge".

Starting January 2, drivers will be required to pay a pollution charge of between 2 and 10 Euros per day (US $3 15) to drive in the city's congested inner city. The fee will vary based on engine class and level of pollutants.

Cameras at 43 "electric gates" will monitor vehicles entering the controlled area which is about 3 square miles (8 sq. km).

The auto maker competition

Toyota plans to sell 9.85 million cars and consolidate its leadership over GM as Number one auto maker.

Competition in space

The Global Positioning System (GPS) of navigation assistance based on U.S. military satellite technology has had very much of a monopoly in civilian navigation until recently. In 2008, competition for GPS will loom larger.

Russia's Glonass system is reaching maturity with the launch of three new satellites on December 25, '07. Russia plans to have a full complement of 24 satellites in orbit by 2010. The European Gallileo system is also making progress. The European Union plans a 30-satellite system, which currently is struggling along in the development phase. China is working on its 'Baidu' satnav system.

The motivation pushing satnav development along is a rapidly expanding market for private use. Amongst the uses envisioned are personal navigation systems that would help users coordinate their use of different modes of transportation - trains, planes, boats, automobiles. They will also be used for tracking valuable objects or even individuals (kids, pets).

"In a few years, business without a navigation signal will become inconceivable," Russian aerospace analyst Andrei G. Ionin, told the New York Times, recently. "Everything that moves will use a navigation signal," he added. As well, businesses are scrambling to be recognized as points of interest by navigation systems, and they want to be able to direct advertising to individuals according to their location.

The competition may have benefits of synergy. Devices which can utilize information from more than one SatNav system will likely be more reliable.

The extreme

The 2008 Ferrari 430 Scuderia features a 4.3-liter engine that generates 510 hp at 8500 rpm. "The 430 Scuderia boasts fantastic performance both on-and off the track, meaning those of us who haven't been blessed with Fernando Alonso's driving skills can still enjoy cruising the freeway in one," says Just what the world needs!

The wired car

A study of 100 cars announced for the 2008 model year indicates that they will be the most gadget-filled models in history.

Carried out by the Telematics Research Group, the study says almost 70 percent of cars for sale in North America will offer voice-activated, hands-free Bluetooth phone support.

Also standard in most models will be navigation systems, iPod connectivity, portable music player support, and auxiliary input and/or flash memory interfaces. About 20% will have USB connections.

The TRG named the 2008 BMW 5 series the most technologically advanced vehicle, with the highest number of electronic features and gadgets. It beat out the Lexus LS-460, which received that accolade in the 2007 model year.

The women's car, 2008

The 2008 Chevrolet Malibut is generating praise as a car designed by women for women. It's a midsize family sedan aimed at a demographic that is 60% female and 40% male but its marketers say it will have broad appeal.

"When we launch a car we have early production vehicles for the internals," says Cathy Turzewski, Program Engineering Manager for the car. "This is probably the only program where engineers from other projects were calling to ask if they could test it out," she added.

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