Fast lane

Seat Leon Cristobal (above).
Seat Leon Cristobal (above).PHOTOS: ASTON MARTIN, REUTERS, SEAT, SUZUKI

Seat unveils 'guardian angel' car

Seat showed off four major developments in mobility in smart cities at the seventh edition of the Smart City Expo World Congress this week.

It presented the Seat Leon Cristobal, which it claims is the safest car in the history of the brand.

This "guardian angel" concept car is equipped with six advanced safety assistants. Drive-lock is a built-in breathalyser that prevents the car from starting if the driver has been drinking. Drive-coach is a voice assistant that enables safety warnings to be personalised.

Guardian angel mode activates all 15 of the active and passive safety systems in the car. Display-mirror is rear-view mirror that uses a rear camera for better vision, eliminating blind spots.

Black box records data and images while driving and sends them to a smartphone in the event of an accident. And Mentor is an app that enables parents to control the vehicle's speed and monitor its location when their children are driving it.


Singaporeans among world's unhappiest drivers

Singapore is one of the worst places to drive in and motorists here are among the most unhappy. This is according to a poll by crowd-sourced navigation provider Waze.

The Waze Driver Satisfaction Index analyses the driving experience of millions of monthly active Waze users in 39 countries and 217 metros to create a single numeric score, from satisfied (10) to miserable (1). Factors such as traffic, road safety, driver services and road quality were taken into consideration.

Singapore ranked 30th out of 39 countries, with a driver satisfaction index of 4.04. The best place is the Netherlands, with a score of 7.9. The worst is the Philippines, with a score of 3.02. Malaysia ranked 21st, with 5.75.


Subaru recalls 400,000 cars in Japan

Subaru is recalling about 400,000 vehicles from its Japanese market because of an inspection scandal - the latest to hit the beleaguered Japanese car industry. The recall concerns nine models, including a sports car that Subaru manufactures for Toyota.

Vehicles sold overseas were not affected, a spokesman told Agence France-Presse.

Subaru admitted last month that uncertified staff had conducted vehicle inspections at two factories north-west of Tokyo. It said at the time it would likely have to recall 250,000 cars at a cost of some 5 billion yen (S$60 million). It is not immediately known how much the wider recall of 395,000 vehicles will cost the group.


Suzuki adds new GSX-S1000FZ Phantom

Suzuki has announced a new GSX-S1000FZ Phantom edition (above). The all-matt black machine joins the popular GSX-S1000 and GSX-S750 Phantoms in the range next year.

The stealthy black livery is offset by subtle red detailing, while the exhaust is also finished in black, further differing it from the standard GSX-S1000F. Using the iconic GSX-R1000 K5 engine - famed for its low-down torque and mid-range power - the GSX-S1000F and GSX-S1000 get a three-stage traction control system plus Suzuki's low revolutions per minute assist and easy-start system.


Volkswagen to invest $16 billion in electric cars

Volkswagen will invest more than €10 billion (S$16 billion) with its partners to make and develop a range of new-energy vehicles in China, according to Bloomberg. Volkswagen will make the investments by 2025 and introduce 40 locally produced vehicles, its China head Jochem Heizmann said on Thursday. The European carmaker's venture with Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group will start production of electric vehicles in the first half of next year, while sales will start in the second half.

VW joins Ford Motor in boosting investments in electric vehicle development in China as the country will require most carmakers to obtain a new-energy vehicle score linked to the production of various types of zero-and low-emission vehicles.


Nissan Infiniti to start production in China

Nissan's luxury arm Infiniti will start producing a new sport utility vehicle in China next year. Reuters reported that the new crossover will be built at an existing manufacturing plant in the north-eastern city of Dalian. The car will be the third Infiniti model to be produced in China.


Ford and German cancer facility share notes

Techniques inspired by Ford are being incorporated into Europe's biggest cancer facility. At the same time, a hospital's big data techniques are helping Ford to explore future vehicles.

The exchange arose when Ford's quality director Mike Butler had cancer. Working together with his colleagues at the Ford assembly plant in Cologne, Germany, he proposed ideas such as coloured lines on walls and floors to make it easier for staff, patients and visitors to find their way around and large screens to help make communication between key medical employees easier.

The team also proposed flexible rooms with removable dividers rather than rigid wards and fixed nursing stations. Meanwhile, the Centre for Integrated Oncology at the University of Cologne are advising Ford on the processes it uses to conceive and develop completely different approaches to tackling cancer. Ford is now applying this "outside the box" thinking in relation to future vehicles and new technologies.


Stamford Tyres expands East Coast Caltex Station

Stamford Tyres, Singapore's leading tyre and wheel company, has expanded its Tyre Mart at East Coast Caltex Station. Renamed East Coast Mega Mart @ Caltex Station, the facility has five work bays which are equipped to handle popular European and Japanese brands. There are computer diagnostic equipment, experienced mechanics, as well as a wide selection of tyres and wheels on-site.


Aston Martin at its most extreme

A track-only version of Aston Martin's most extreme hypercar is set to give Formula One cars a run for their money. With delivery scheduled for 2020, the Valkyrie AMR Pro (above) is an evolution of the most extreme Aston Martin in history.

Developed in parallel with the road car, but freed from the constraints and considerations of road use, the Aston Martin Valkyrie AMR Pro is the brainchild of Adrian Newey - the most successful F1 designer of all time.

Just 25 units will be built and all have been pre-sold. The hypercar's naturally aspirated 6.5-litre Cosworth-built V12 engine develops more power and torque, thanks to a significant engine recalibration and the modification of the road car's emission control systems. The output of the Rimac Energy Recovery System remains unchanged, but its control systems will be re-programmed.


Daimler opens R&D hub in Tel Aviv

Daimler has opened a Mercedes-Benz research and development centre in Tel Aviv, one of a growing number of multinational firms seeking to tap in Israel's autonomous technology expertise as the industry moves towards self-driving cars.

Reuters reported that the centre, which focuses on digital vehicle and mobility services, has 15 workers and this number will grow to 25 next year.

Israel has about 450 start-ups working on autonomous technologies ranging from cyber security for connected cars to perception technology.

In September, Daimler's van division invested US$50 million (S$68 million) in a joint venture with Israeli-US ride-hailing start-up Via.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 18, 2017, with the headline 'Fast lane'. Print Edition | Subscribe