Connected Cars – Fantasy and Hype or the Future?

If you haven’t seen anything recently about ‘connected cars’ then the only assumption possible is that you either don’t read/watch the news or have spent time on Mars!

The outline

Just in case either of those is the reality, the term ‘connected cars’ is used to describe the increasing amount of wireless Internet capabilities that are being offered, at cost, in modern motor vehicles.

In some cases, the purposes are relatively obvious and perhaps today increasingly mundane. That might include things such as providing the driver and passengers with entertainment systems, hands-free voice communication and web access etc.

Yet increasingly experts are predicting far more complicated applications of this technology including things such as remote diagnostic services and even car control systems.

While the idea of having problems with your car being picked up by the car itself, transmitted to a central location through the Internet and the answer and perhaps even the fix being received back and automatically applied in the same fashion might appeal to some, for others it smacks a little of Big Brother.

However, many pundits are forecasting a huge expansion of such applications for connected cars and through that even an entirely automatic driving future. This is, predictably enough, leading to a significant increase in the asking price for such connected vehicles.

The Questions

Yet how much of this has real potential and how much is marketing hype?

At its very heart, the concept of the connected car has a fundamental problem – and that is price.

Let’s assume, for an instant, that the typical car owner is being asked to pay some big bucks extra for a connected car. That’s justified based on saying that it comes preconfigured for things such as TV, Internet streaming, enhanced music and SATNAV etc.

Now if you are a provider of luxury limousine services, that additional cost might be justified by those sorts of benefits. It’s a great marketing ploy as well when trying to attract customers to your luxury limousine hire services.

Unfortunately though, for Joe Public, there may be a much less favourable response to the manufacturers’ demands for more money. That response is to simply point at your own existing wireless connected smart phone and say “yes, thank you, I can do all that already through this little box here”.

That is a very fundamental inhibitor to the mass take-up of connected car technology. These days for a comparatively small amount of money, someone can have a hugely powerful device in their pocket and an equally modestly-priced set of speakers and a screen which they can just plug in within the vehicle concerned.

In terms of the much-vaunted ‘Infotainment’, it’s therefore not immediately clear why the typical car buyer should spend vast sums more on car technology that arguably does the same thing only at about a 5-10 times higher cost.

Things to come

True, that doesn’t give the typical car owner all those fancy online diagnostics and even automated control system access facilities but that argument begs the question as to whether people actually want those things.

Some arguments in favour of connected cars attempt to justify this as somehow investing in the infrastructure for future automatic driving. Once again though, there is very little evidence that there is any market demand for such and even if there were, a lot more is going to be required to make it happen than simply a wireless-enabled car.

Most people would argue we are still decades away, at least, from an automated driving infrastructure.

For all these reasons, the makers of connected car systems are likely to have to work a lot harder to persuade the private buyer to invest.

Introducing the New Peugeot 308 RCZ

From conception to creation… The story continues

A daring concept car has become an even bolder reality. A car that replicates in production, the style and dynamics of the original concept, a vehicle that evokes strong emotions and marks a new chapter in the history of Peugeot.

The Emotions of Style – A triumph of style and technical prowess. The RCZ re-invents the original coupe structure with an innovative body type that is both sporty and elegant. The unique ‘double bubble’ roof contours being accentuated by polished aluminum arches that sculpt its profile.

An Expression of Modernity – A sensuous charisma marks out the exterior of the Peugeot RCZ. Sculpted sides, curved wings and aggressive rear create a compact and muscular silhouette. The sporty appearance is enhanced by many tiny details, from the contour of the bonnet, to the chromed twin exhaust pipes.

Extreme Seduction – The stylish fascia panel is covered with a stylish hi-tech material, or can be personalized with fine grain leather. Drivers will admire the distinctive metal inserts on the dials, inspired by the highest level of motorsport technology and unique to the RCZ.

Personal Space – Sports seats and a low, ergonomic driving position give you the feeling of being in harmony with the RCZ allowing you to appreciate the handling of the car. Take your place behind the wheel and your journey truly begins.

Sensations Like Never Before – A rare and exclusive coupe which attracts more than its share of admiring glances. It brings pleasure to driving, the passionate relationship between the road, the car and the driver takes on its full meaning here.

Refined Emotions – A range of modern powerful engines to complete the driving pleasure. Petrol engines with 156bhp or 200bhp, a diesel version producing 163bhp with 240ft/lbs of torque at just 2000 rpm. Environmentally friendly with emission starting at just 139g/km and mixed fuel consumption as miserly as 53.2 mpg thanks to Peugeot HDi Fap diesel technology.

The story of RCZ goes on. Amazing specification that can be personalized to your own taste, state of the art carbon fibre is available on the double bubble roof and mirror housings, several choices of interior finish, a wide choice of body colours and a range of wheels that will have something for everyone.

The new Peugeot RCZ. It chooses you – it owns you.

Lotus Esprit Series 1 Type 79 Sports Car

A review of The Lotus Esprit Series 1 Type 79 Sports Car, covering development, important features, and technical data of this the seventeenth model in the Lotus range.

In this Article, I offer a nostalgic look at the Lotus Esprit Series 1, one of an elite group of classic cars, which was manufactured during the period 1975 to 1977.

Whilst at the Turin Motor Show in 1971, Colin Chapman met the renowned car designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, who had previously designed the stylish mid-engined Maserati Bora, and who had set up his own design agency called Ital Design.

It was agreed that he would create a concept sports car based on the then current Lotus Europa.

Design work began in mid 1971.

Designated the Esprit, the prototype made its debut at the Turin Motor Show in 1972, where it received universal acclaim.

The track and wheelbase of the Europa twin cam chassis were increased to accommodate the 1973 cc, 16 valve, twin overhead cam, Lotus 907 engine.

The unit was fitted with two twin choke Dell’Orto DHLA carburettors, and developed 160 bhp (140 bhp in the US export model), with a top speed of 124 mph, a 0-60 mph time of 8.4 secs, and an overall fuel consumption of 25 mpg.

As with previous models, it had a glassfibre body, with the engine positioned longitudinally behind the passengers.

The design of the car was a joint venture between Lotus and Ital Design.

The first production prototype was available by Christmas 1974, when Lotus confirmed that the new car would be launched in 1975.

Accordingly, the Esprit Series 1 sports car, also known as the Type 79, was launched in October 1975 at the Paris Motor Show, as a successor to the Europa.

The new model was part of Lotus’ family of two door sports cars, including the Eclat and forthcoming Elite, which epitomised Colin Chapman’s vision of an upmarket production line completely devoid of kit cars.

The Series 1 embodied such features as racing suspension, a five speed Citroen Maserati gearbox, smooth body lines with no wings, and 70’s interior styling.

Although there was strong demand for the car, the Series 1 Esprit became renowned for poor reliability and quality which, sadly, was reminiscent of a number of previous models.

At that time, to make matters worse, Lotus was involved in the ill fated Delorean project, which stretched production facilities, to the detriment of their own cars.

The Series 1 differed from later versions of the car in that it had a shovel style front air dam, rear lights from the Fiat X19, Wolfrace alloy wheels, and a one piece instrument cluster.

A promotional coup was the car’s appearanace in a 1977 James Bond film in which it featured in a long chase sequence.

The Europa was never considered a particularly attractive car, with a somewhat cramped cockpit, and was more a motoring machine rather than a passenger car.

Since the Lotus 907 engine produced 140 ft/lbs of torque, it was clear that the Renault five speed gearbox, as used in the Europa, would not be strong enough.

The solution was when Citroen offered its five speed, all synchromesh gearbox, as used in the Maserati Merak coupe.

The independent front suspension was similar to that used in the Vauxhall Cavalier saloon, whilst the equivalent rear suspension was based on coil springs.

It used rack and pinion steering, without power assistance, and four wheel, non servo, dual circuit Girling disc brakes.

The interior layout was little changed, although there was much more room for passengers.

However, entering and leaving the car was still a challenge.

Unfortunately, the Esprit was still not available, as previously announced, in October 1975 due to a combination of financial restraints and the looming oil crisis.

Nevertheless, production finally began in May 1976, and the initial output was disappointing in so much as the cars were not as fast, refined, or reliable as expected.

By far the most important concern was the lack of refinement in regard to the engine noise being transmitted directly into the cockpit, which left an impression of harshness.

In contrast, there were few that would argue with the car’s good looks and handling abilities.

The Esprit’s target market was, of course, the US where exports began in 1977.

The US version of the Lotus 907 engine, fitted with two Stromberg carburettors, easily satisfied emission control regulations such that its output was maintained at 140 bhp, giving the car a top speed of 120 mph.

Esprit production experienced quite a boost after its launch in the US.

In 1976, 138 units were built, with all but 4 going to the home market.

However, this jumped to 580 in 1977, its best year, with 474 units being exported to the US.

A total of 718 units of the Series 1 were built.

Nevertheless, criticism and negative press reports concerning the initial output of the Series 1 forced Lotus to rectify these defects, and improve the car.

The result was the introduction of the Esprit Series 2 sports car in 1978.

This marked the end of the Lotus Esprit Series 1 Type 79

Perhaps this stroll down memory lane might have answered, or at least shed light on, a possible question:

Which Morgan Sports Car is Your Favourite?

However, should this question still remain unanswered, I will be reviewing, in some detail, in future articles within this website, the entire range of Morgan sports cars which were featured in the memorable era spanning 1911 to 1996.

I hope you join me in my nostalgic travels “down sports car memory lane”.