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Cars With Carbon Ceramic Brakes Are Going to Be the Used Car Plague

"As some of you know, I'm currently mired in the search for a new car to replace my ancient Range Rover daily driver, which I've had for the last five years or so. One of the cars on my short list of Range Rover replacements is the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Wagon -- and while I can't afford a newer 2014-2016 model, I've been eyeing them anyway, because they're perfect for me: cool, high tech, all-wheel-drive (good for winter!) and exciting to drive.

So I found a nice E63 Wagon for sale on Autotrader, and I sent it to my friend Peri, and he replied: "You know that one has carbon ceramic brakes, right?" Apparently, the gold-colored calipers give it away."

"Carbon ceramic brakes? In a luxury station wagon?"

"I looked it up, and Peri was right. Beginning in 2014, Mercedes-Benz started offering carbon ceramic brakes as an option on the E63 AMG and the E63 AMG Wagon -- and not just any option, but an option with a sticker price of just under $13,000. Mind you, the base price of a 2014 E63 AMG Wagon was only $103,400. This single option was nearly 13 percent of the car's entire price. Imagine, if you will, a $2,500 single option on a Toyota Camry."

Cummins Shying Away From Diesel and Will Release an EV

"Cummins has announced it will have a fully electrified powertrain system on the road by 2019, a move that indicates electrified powertrains are here to stay. In addition to the powertrain, Cummins will debut a range-extended electric vehicle a year later. The company did confirm that despite increasing its investment into electrification, it will maintain its investment in diesel, believing the fuel will endure in several markets for years to come."

House panel spars over self-driving car rules

"Republicans and Democrats in Congress sparred on Tuesday over U.S. states setting rules for testing and deployment of self-driving cars and a proposal to allow automakers and technology companies to bypass existing regulations in introducing autonomous cars."

"Democrats on a U.S. House Energy and Commerce subcommittee said that the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) must play a more aggressive role in mandating self-driving car safety."

"A Republican draft package of 14 bills would allow NHTSA to exempt up to 100,000 vehicles per year from federal motor vehicle safety rules, which currently prevent the sale of self-driving vehicles without human controls. It would also bar states from setting self-driving rules and prevent NHTSA from preapproving self-driving car technologies."

Why Are Car Thermometers So Inaccurate?

"Unfortunately, your car's thermistor is also not very helpful in the winter. Because it isn't accurate to always distinguish between above and below freezing, it can't help you figure out if the road may be coated with black ice. With all these limitations, car thermometers are a fun toy, but not very useful if you actually are looking to find out the temperature. You're better off checking the weather on your phone. As long as you're not currently driving, anyway."

Ford to Ride-Sharing Firms: Our Service Centers are Ready and Waiting

"Ford Motor Company may soon press dealership service centers to prioritize maintenance and repairs for ride-sharing fleets and their employees. This comes after the company’s decision to expand its in-house shuttling firm, known as Chariot, and as its long-term plan to bring an autonomous ride-sharing solution to market by 2021 takes shape. But Ford also knows rival companies can be a strong source of revenue. Omnicraft, anyone?

Even moderately sized cities have several thousand Uber and Lyft drivers, and Ford’s CEO of Smart Mobility Raj Rao thinks they represent an untapped resource. He believes service centers should go the extra mile for them, even if it means some dealerships have to stay open 24 hours to provide swift turnarounds. "

A year of digging through code yields “smoking gun” on VW, Fiat diesel cheats – Ars Technica

"That legal assessment of the defeat device scandal seems to have held up as the researchers analyzed the cars’ code. The VWs and Audis in question checked for a number of parameters at startup, and if a lab test was a possibility, the car would start with that assumption, enabling full emissions controls. The code permitted the car “to operate... as if two distinct personalities took turns controlling the vehicle,” the paper’s authors wrote.

The paper also notes that the researchers tested the diesel Fiat 500X because it used the same Engine Control Unit from Bosch as the Volkswagens and Audis did. There was no mention of the “acoustic condition” in the Fiat’s function sheet, but some undisclosed code was discovered controlling how the car regenerates its NOx Storage Catalyst (NSC).

“Unlike the Volkswagen defeat device, the FCA [Fiat Chrysler Automobiles] mechanism relies on time only, reducing the frequency of NSC regenerations 26 minutes 40 seconds after engine start,” the paper notes. In a normal system, the NSC reduces NOx emission by trapping it in a catalyst and then regenerating the catalyst as it gets full.

But regeneration hurts a car’s fuel economy numbers and puts a lot of load on the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF). “By reducing the frequency of NSC regeneration, a manufacturer can improve fuel economy and increase DPF service life, at the cost of increased NOx emissions,” the researchers explained."

A Design Engineer Explains Exactly Why Your Car Is So Boring

"So next time you get in your car, look around. Think about the things you do and don’t like about your car. Realize that nothing in your car exists because one engineer didn’t get enough sleep and decided to put that USB charger just out of your grasp. Designing a car is an immensely complex, exhausting process and each part has its own story. Try to understand how all those stories come together to make one coherent, attractive, quality, affordable, safe vehicle, and you’ll understand the challenge of my job."

Shared Autonomous Vehicles Could Still Increase VMT

Conventional wisdom assumes there will lots of cheap oil for the coming fleet of autonomous vehicles. Or that coal-fired powered plants, generating electricity will replace the need for cheap oil. But will it?

I still think in many ways we are at the twilight of the fossil fuel-era. Many of the predicted fossil fuels won't become a reality, because most of them are marketing gimmicks.

And I'm not sure that autonomous vehicles are all they are cracked up to be? Will computers ever be smart enough to react to potholes, pedestrians, deer, fog and other drivers? Even if they are safer then humans, will people trust a system that still causes carnage on the highways?

I don't believe there will ever be autonomous vehicles in mass. I think motoring is in it's final years, and we should enjoy it while it's still a thing.

100-Octane, Super Premium Fuel Is Coming to a Pump Near You

Apparently inexpensive 87-octane fuel may be going the way of the dinosaurs, to allow gas stations to stock 100-octane fuel, which will be more expensive but allow higher-compression, more fuel efficient engines.

"Oil companies and automakers are quietly collaborating to get higher-octane fuel into pumps all across the country. They’re pushing for higher octanes for their obvious benefits like extracting more power from less gas to meet rising mpg requirements and reduce emissions. The challenge is how to break the news to the public without tipping them off to the fact that it will cause a rise in gas prices across the board."

"Why would it affect the price of regular fuel? It’s likely that when a 100-octane fuel is introduced, 87 octane—the current “regular” grade gas—will be phased out. The idea is to make every car on the road burn higher-octane gas reducing CO2. Unfortunately, if your car wasn’t specifically engineered for higher-octane fuel, the difference in performance and efficiency will be minimal."