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Auto Development Comes With Auto Safety Despite Increasing Fuel Price

Although automakers face soaring gas prices, the automotive industry still prioritizes safety amid the fast-paced race to which brand is the best in terms of fuel-economy.

The industry’s new ‘pre-crash’ safety technologies target the crucial milliseconds before a crash or help drivers avoid the crashes in the first place, according to a report by the Associated Press.

On the other hand, according to the survey conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), gas prices are pegged to reach more than $4 a gallon by 2015 and over $5 a gallon by 2020. The US auto industry has long resisted this, according to the academic survey released early this week, but it seemed inevitable now.

The UMTRI said it surveyed more than 100 power train experts, including chief executives, from across North America for the report.

“There is a consensus that fuel economy and emissions regulations will not just continue but substantially increase over the next decade,” said UMTRI researcher Bruce Belzowski in a statement.

Rising gasoline prices last year prompted U.S. consumers to move away from large fuel-guzzling sports utility vehicles to smaller, fuel-efficient cars and crossover vehicles.

“This survey shows that though manufacturers are developing alternative power trains, they may not be working fast enough to meet the challenges imposed on them by government regulations or by potential dramatic increases of fuel prices,” Walter McManus, director of UMTRI’s automotive analysis division said.

However, despite such economic difficulty caused by the unending turmoil in the Middle East, the auto industry still manages to pursue what they have been doing since then; that is serving the consumers with innovative systems; an now with safety.

Technologies under development are as follows:

* Nissan is developing bracelets to be placed on young children that relay signals to vehicles in the area. Drivers passing through are told, “Children nearby, please be careful.”

* Volvo has shown an XC60 crossover concept with a radar system that monitors vehicles about 20 feet in front of the car. When a collision is likely to happen, the technology helps the driver avoid a rear crash by automatically activating the car’s brakes.

* Mercedes-Benz already offers advanced safety features such as long-range and short-range radar to avoid crashes by automatically hitting the brakes if the driver fails to stop in time. It also has developed a feature called ‘Night View Assist’, which uses infrared beams to detect roadway obstructions far beyond the headlights’ reach and transmits an image on the instrument panel.

* General Motors has been developing vehicle-to-vehicle technology, which helps vehicles communicate with other vehicles up to a quarter mile away to alert each other against dangerous conditions.

* Ford has experimented using four-point seat belts, similar to belts used by race car drivers, and inflatable seatbelts. These seatbelts have with small air bags inside that deploy in a crash.

Nonetheless, company officials say the advancements still are being evaluated.

First Look: Volvo XC60 Plug-In Hybrid Concept

Consumer auto shows are great places for car shoppers to go to gauge what products are available or will soon hit the market. These shows, held in metropolitan areas across the country, also feature numerous concept vehicles from various manufacturers. Concept vehicles often don’t come to the market as shown, but its styling cues, engineering features and technological enhancements oftentimes do.

Concept PHEV

At major auto shows across the country, Swedish automaker Volvo is making its presence known. This company, known for its innovative safety measures and forward-thinking engineering, is currently displaying the Volvo XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept, an all-wheel-drive crossover SUV that may change the way you look at hybrids and plug-in vehicles. Read on for details about this progressive product.

Volvo is touting the XC60 PHEV concept as three cars in one. That claim seems plausible as this CUV is designed to operate in three driving modes via buttons for Pure, Hybrid or Power located on the instrument panel. Each mode offers distinct advantages and can be selected to sync with your driving conditions.

Drive Modes

When operated in “Pure” mode the XC60 is powered chiefly by its electric motor as much as it is possible. As such, the CUV’s electric-only operational range is for up to 35 miles with absolutely no tailpipe emissions in urban driving.

The default “Hybrid” mode automatically kicks in whenever the CUV is started. Both the gasoline engine and electric motor are at work, providing the best mix of gas and electric driving. EPA numbers are not yet available, but according to the European certification driving cycle this vehicle gets the fuel economy equivalent of over 100 mpg. Look for closer to 50 mpg when this vehicle is taken on a long trip — its total cruising range is thus extended to 600 miles.

The third choice is the CUV’s “Power” mode, which provides unbridled power when needed. Under this arrangement, the gas engine shoulders the brunt of the work and this capable powerplant has the goods to show for it, delivering 280 horsepower and 280 foot-pounds of torque. The electric motor is no slouch too as it makes 70 hp and 148 foot-pounds of torque. Need to get on the highway fast? This CUV does it in style, accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.8 seconds.

Turbocharged Four

What may surprise Volvo enthusiasts the most is that the gas engine found underneath this concept’s hood is a turbocharged four cylinder engine. No V-6 power is needed — this engine has been optimized to deliver the most power from the fewest number of cylinders.

The Volvo XC60 PHEV has been designed to plug-in to a standard household outlet for recharging. With a standard 110-volt outlet, recharging should be accomplished in 7.5 hours. For faster recharges, a 220-volt outlet cuts that down to just 3.5 hours.

Market Plans

Will the XC60 PHEV come to market? It is expected to and should arrive in American showrooms by 2014. When it does hit the market, crossover fans may find this CUV too hard to resist — a five-passenger model that is fuel efficient and minimizes its emissions output.

Talking About Auto Shows

Auto shows are becoming popular in today’s times. They are so popular that many people who have the means and inclination to do so travel all over the country just to attend an event. But these auto shows are not just about flashing some good-looking models or showing off the high motor combustion. The real value is the ability to bring the knowledge of business to a number of potential consumers. In other words, the success of an auto show lies not in the presentation of the vehicles, but upon the business that it attracts throughout the show.

Car shows take place all over the world. The Frankfurt auto show that focuses on German engineering is considered to be the biggest show in Europe. Here you will find almost every European car manufacturer and the show has also attracted a number of Chinese car makers. The Chinese brands are trying to enter the Europe and US car market, which is why they are making their presence known at the Frankfurt auto show.

The International Geneva Motor Show is an annual auto show that takes place in the Swiss city of Geneva. This year, the Geneva -Motor show took place March 4th-16th in 2008. The Geneva motor show is a niche event and here, niche players get an opportunity to showcase their own motors and marvel at the many different displays available.

If you consider Paris, it is all about design. The auto show in Paris is dominated by French car makers like Renault, Peugeot, Citroen and others. Here you will get to see some of the quirkiest designs that exist around the world and there are also a number of launches that take place at the Paris show as well.

The Detroit auto show showcases all American brands with big-ticket launches. There are also shows to be seen in the cities of Los Angeles and New York. Auto makers from the above three mentioned cities; enjoy the limelight while they are displaying their most interesting debutants and their exhibits.

The Shanghai motor show has its own importance because of the growth and development of the Chinese market. This is one of the main reasons why the Auto Expo has expanded in recent years. The expo has become an important event, with the help of India and its remarkable growth story about its component and small car expertise.

The Tokyo show, which is also known as the tech show, gives people an opportunity to become familiar with Japanese technology. The local car makers come up with their own surprise launches and although Tokyo is not known for their big brand launches, the show is still full of an exciting and magnificent spectacle of cars.

The Auto Expo of 2008, which was held on January 10th, is quickly becoming one of the largest automotive expositions in Asia. Big name automakers got an opportunity to display their cars. The impressive list included international auto majors like Volkswagen, General MOTORS, Toyota, Ford, BMW, Fiat, Honda, Audi, Porsche, and Suzuki. Also, Indian vehicle manufacturers such as Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra and Ashok Leyland among others, displayed impressive range of concept cars and new car products.