Toyota recalls 3.8 million cars, automakers gear up for the Tokyo Motor Show, Garmin sets a date and price for the Nuvifone, and we go for a ride in Lincoln's smallest luxury car.Subscribe with iTunes (audio) Subscribe with iTunes (video) Subscribe with RSS (audio) Subscribe with RSS (video) EPISODE 138 SHOW NOTES
The Honda EV-N will be on display at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show as a part of Honda's "HELLO! Zone" electric vehicle showcase. While details about the power train are still fuzzy and vague, we do know that it's all-electric and is cute as a darn button. Here's what else we know:
The EV-N appears to be a futuristic homage to the Honda N 360s and N 600s of the 1960s and '70s. It is a microcompact with a short wheelbase and seating for four passengers (only two of whom will probably be comfortable). Solar … Read more
So, you're a fan of Mitsubishi's iMiEV electric car. Who could blame you? It's a quirky looking 63-horsepower electric two-seater with a 100-mile range and no tailpipe emissions (probably due to its lack of a tailpipe). Plus, it looks like its from the future! But what if you wanted more interior volume for your, oh say, environmentally responsible delivery service? Then you're going to love the Mitsubishi iMiEV Cargo concept.
The Mitsubishi iMiEV Cargo concept takes the cute iMiEV and lops off its rear half, replacing it with a caboose of a small van or a … Read more
For the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show, Subaru built this Hybrid Tourer Concept, which manages to combine many of the latest trends in automotive development. Most major manufacturers are working on some kind of sporty touring car these days. Witness the BMW 5 series Gran Turismo, the Acura ZDX, and the Audi A5 Sportback. The Subaru Hybrid Tourer Concept appears to aim at similar ground, although its profile is less sporty. The gullwing doors are a unique feature for a production car, but not so much for a concept.
As its name suggests, the car is also designed as a hybrid, … Read more
Subaru is creating a variant of its Impreza STI, called the WRX STI Carbon. With a name like Carbon, you just know that this is going to be a hardcore, lightweight, performance variant that will slap that smarmy grin off of the Mitsubishi Evo's face, right? Wrong. Because it seems that Subaru's forgotten to add the performance.
The STI Carbon starts out well enough. It replaces the roof panel with light-and-strong carbon fiber to lower the center of gravity. Then, the Recaro seats are wrapped in grippy suede to hold your butt in place while you whip through … Read more
What if instead of just looking like a van, the Honda Insight actually was a van? That's the general idea that I'm getting from the Honda Skydeck, a minivan concept that will debut at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show.
In so many words, the Skydeck looks like the CR-Z concept ate a current-gen Honda Odyssey. The face has the same, futuristic large mouthed bass look of the CR-Z, but the form factor is all van.
However, the aesthetic isn't all that the Skydeck borrows from Honda's hybrids, as a large "Hybrid" badge lets us … Read more
Another year, another car show, another opportunity for Honda to trot out its CR-Z compact hybrid concept. However for the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show, which takes place right in the automaker's back yard, Honda has updated the concept to reflect what we can expect to see in the production model.
So what can we expect from the production CR-Z? Well, the form factor is something of a cross between the CRX subcompact of the '80s and the Honda Insight hybrid. Under the hood, we can expect a 1.5-liter gasoline four-cylinder paired with the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid … Read more
Getting a jump on the competition, Mazda announced its lineup for next month's Tokyo Motor Show, which includes the Kiyora concept car, two new engines, and a new transmission. Usually concept cars are the show highlight, but in this case, the Kiyora is a beard, as it was already shown at last year's Paris auto show. The real news will be the more efficient power trains that Mazda developed, although these lack the glamor of a design concept.
However, this power train tech will have a more realizable effect on Mazda's vehicles and how we drive them. … Read more
Electronic retinal implants that can help certain visually impaired people see better are getting closer to reality with a new MIT prototype (PDF).
Engineered eyes a la Blade Runner remain a long way off. But by replacing the function of retinal cells, the implants could help provide a degree of basic vision to those afflicted with retinitis pigmentosa or age-related macular degeneration, major causes of blindness.
Users would wear special glasses fitted with a small camera that relays image data to a titanium-encased chip mounted on the outside surface of the eyeball. The chip would then fire an electrode array under the retina to stimulate the optic nerve. The glasses would also wirelessly transmit power to coils surrounding the eyeball.
MIT has been working on retinal implants for 20 years as part of the Boston Retinal Implant Project. About 10 years ago, researchers tested the electrodes on six blind patients, who reported seeing cloud-like images when stimulated.
MIT scientists led by John Wyatt, an electrical engineering professor, want to test their new prototype on patients within three years.
The implants have been successfully placed in pigs for as long as 10 months without damage to the electronics, according to MIT.
About 20 teams worldwide are working to realize the dream of eye implants that could work as well as cochlear implants for the hearing-impaired. But the delicate structures of the eye, as well as engineering challenges, have made for slow progress.
"To create a bionic eye is equivalent to trying to create a television as compared with a radio," Nigel Lovell, a professor at the University of New South Wales collaborating with Australian groups to create a bionic eye, says in this video. "It's orders of magnitude more complex."
One issue researchers must tackle is where to place the electrodes. The Australian group would place them on top of the retina, while MIT's approach is to place them beneath the retina. MIT says that reduces the risk of retinal tearing and requires less invasive surgery.
What might early bionic vision look like? Very low-res.… Read more
Way back in 1999, Ford put Marc Newson, a furniture designer who'd never designed a car before, in charge of developing a concept for the Tokyo Motor Show. The resulting vehicle, the 021c Concept, was hated by all. It was just too quirky, too unlike anything else on the road, and most importantly, not designed by a car guy.
Looking back on the vehicle some 10 years later, perhaps the 021c was just ahead of its time. Perhaps the candy-colored concept would be more at home on the road with today's Minis, Smarts, and Cubes.
The concept featured … Read more