Tag Archives: motorists

Electrifying auto news: Top car award goes to Chevy Bolt

The Chevy Bolt has been named top car in North America, a milestone for a car General Motors hopes will finally get Americans hooked on electric vehicles.

The Honda Ridgeline grabbed the honor for top truck.

Utility vehicles were honored separately for the first time, with the Pacifica minivan from Fiat Chrysler snagging that award.

The honors were announced at Detroit’s Cobo Center as the North American International Auto Show’s press preview days kicked into high gear.

The Bolt beat out the Genesis G90 and Volvo S90 for the car award.

The electric car from Chevrolet went on sale late last year.

It gets more than 200 miles per battery charge, which is more than the average American drives in a day.

The Bolt also sells for around $30,000 when a federal tax credit is included.

Electric vehicles have failed to catch on with most American consumers, but General Motors hopes the improved range and price help shift opinions.

Mark Reuss, GM’s head of global product development, described the Bolt as a “moon shot.”

“We didn’t have all the answers when we started the program — in terms of how far we were going to get range-wise, how light are we going to get the car and … sell price,” he said. “We hit on all cylinders on this, so to speak, even though there’s not any in the car.”

The Ridgeline scored the truck award over Ford F-Series Super Duty and the Nissan Titan. Pacifica got the nod for the utility award over the Jaguar F-Pace and Mazda X-9.

Timothy Kuniskis, Fiat Chrysler’s car chief, said he’s “amazingly proud” that a minivan scored the utility honor. The award recognizes the automaker’s commitment to the foundation it established for the family hauler while reinventing it some three decades later, he said.

“This is really all-new from the ground up,” Kuniskis said of the Pacifica, a sleeker, swept-back minivan that hit showrooms last spring as a replacement for the Town and Country and Dodge Grand Caravan. Among its firsts: hands-free sliding doors that open when the driver sticks a foot under them.

“We love minivans — we sold a quarter-million minivans this last year that just ended,” he added. “Our designers just did an amazing job of taking something that has to be very functional and making it look very beautiful at the same time.”

About 60 automotive journalists serve as judges for North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year awards. Eligible vehicles must be new or substantially changed.

Organizers accept no advertising, though automakers try to capitalize on the marketing value of the awards, in their 24th year.

The awards program launched in 1993, and patterned itself after the European Car of the Year. Organizers accept no advertising, though carmakers try to capitalize on the marketing value of the honors.

Google: We’re building car with no steering wheel

Google will build a car without a steering wheel.

It doesn’t need one because it drives itself.

The two-seater won’t be sold publicly, but Google said Tuesday it hopes by this time next year, 100 prototypes will be on public roads. Though not driving very quickly — the top speed would be 25 mph.

The cars are a natural next step for Google, which already has driven hundreds of thousands of miles in California with Lexus SUVs and Toyota Priuses outfitted with a combination of sensors and computers.

Those cars have Google-employed “safety drivers” behind the wheel in case of emergency. The new cars would eliminate the driver from the task of driving.

No steering wheel, no brake and gas pedals. Instead, buttons for go and stop.

“It reminded me of catching a chairlift by yourself, a bit of solitude I found really enjoyable,” Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, told a Southern California tech conference Tuesday evening of his first ride, according to a transcript.

The electric-powered car is compact and bubble-shaped _ something that might move people around a corporate campus or congested downtown.

Google is unlikely to go deeply into auto manufacturing. In unveiling the prototype, the company emphasized partnering with other firms.

The biggest obstacle could be the law.

Test versions will have a wheel and pedals, because they must under California regulations.

Google hopes to build the 100 prototypes late this year or early next and use them in a to-be-determined “pilot program,” spokeswoman Courtney Hohne said. Meanwhile, by the end of this year, California’s Department of Motor Vehicles must write regulations for the “operational” use of truly driverless cars.

The DMV had thought that reality was several years away, so it would have time to perfect the rules.

That clock just sped up, said the head of the DMV’s driverless car program, Bernard Soriano.

“Because of what is potentially out there soon, we need to make sure that the regulations are in place that would keep the public safe but would not impede progress,” Soriano said.

Colorado congressman introduces marijuana DUI bill

Colorado Congressman Jared Polis has introduced legislation to expand the federal definition of impaired drive to include those who have a cognitive or physical impairment due to the use of marijuana.

The Democratic representative said the Limiting Unsafe Cannabis-Impaired Driving — LUCID — Act is needed now that Washington and Colorado have legalized recreational marijuana. A national benchmark is needed, he said, to protect citizens from drivers under the influence of marijuana.

“As more and more states follow the will of their citizens and implement regulations to treat marijuana like alcohol, it is vital that we keep our roads safe and save lives by updating our driving under the influence laws,” Polis said. “The LUCID Act creates a single federal standard that will protect the public from impaired drivers and train law enforcement officials to effectively identify offenders. I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to work quickly to advance this legislation and keep impaired drivers, no matter what impaired them, off the road.”

The measure has support from law enforcement communities in Colorado, including the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police and the Colorado District Attorney’s Council.

“It is imperative that with the likelihood of the majority of states in the union moving toward legalizing the use of either medical or recreational marijuana or both, that all states adopt robust legislation to prevent and deter driving under the influence of marijuana,” said Tom Raynes, executive director of the Colorado District Attorneys’ Council.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and the state’s transportation department also have endorsed the measure.

States, under the measure, would be permitted to implement their own laws regarding marijuana-impaired driving if such impairment appears alongside alcohol-impaired driving.