Category Archives: Cars

Discussions of cars and trucks often with a focus on the more computer aspects.

Apple Making a Car?

I’m still very skeptical Apple is making a car. This reminds me of the whole “Apple’s solved TV” from a few years ago. Guess what. We have exactly the same TV device we did when those announcements were made. Just now with a whole bunch of new channels I can’t use unless I already have cable.

There’s probably something going on. However Apple plowed right into the problem of content managers not wanting a revolution with the TV which is why nothing changed. With cars, if anything, it’s worse. There are a lot of regulations. It’s probably the most over regulated industry in America. Just the Federal regulations are restrictive. Go to the state level it gets worse with the few people owning car dealerships having lots of ridiculous regulations to ensure no competition. These regulations make it extremely hard to innovate. 

Consider using cameras to replace the mirrors and achieve better wind resistance. Buzz. Illegal. Want those cool LEDs that European manufacturers use to avoid not blinding drivers? Illegal. Sell cars direct to the public? Illegal. I’m not against regulations. I do wish the government would actually review regulations intelligently more regularly. Because there are sure a lot of dumb ones.

Anyway if Apple thought the media holders kept innovation down just wait until they see what happens with cars.

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Android Auto vs. Apple Carplay

Interesting video comparing Google Android Auto vs. Apple Car Play. (HT: Gruber) Apple’s clearly going more for the “drive as undistracted as possible” mindset that makes most car controls so frustrating. The Android UI honestly seems a little more useful since it’s not so tied to Siri. I understand why they do that but I’d like the option to actually see messages, for instance. Kind of surprised Apple doesn’t at least let you see the album art for your music. 

Continue reading Android Auto vs. Apple Carplay

Leaf Update

LeafJust a quick update1 with how my Nissan Leaf has been going. It’s been about two months now and I’m extremely happy with it. I definitely miss driving off road with my Pathfinder. Lacking 4WD with good ground clearance made taking my daughter camping a bit more logistically challenging. However not needing to worry about gas has been a definite plus. Especially as gas heads up near $4/gallon in price.

Last week I put the Leaf to the big test of long distance driving. The Leaf, unlike most cars, is optimized for city driving not freeway driving. I had to head to Salt Lake City for business, about a 90 mile round trip and was curious if the Leaf could make it. On the drive up I was very cautious, primarily driving regular roads. About half way there I was running late and got onto the freeway. It was also well into the 90’s so I had the air conditioner running. A notable power drain. While most traffic was going 80mph on the freeway I kept the car between 65 and 70 and stayed in the slow lane.2 The car definitely drained charge significantly faster as I inched above the 65mph point. Fortunately my stop was only a few blocks away from a Nissan dealer where I could use their high speed Level 3 charger.

Continue reading Leaf Update

  1. I blogged some initial thoughts a few weeks ago.
  2. That is, I drove the speed limit. LOL.

Nissan Leaf

LeafThe transmission on my beloved Pathfinder went out two weeks ago. One of my favorite things to do was go driving on the jeep roads Sunday afternoon. Alas we’d purchased a Sienna a year ago so there’s no way to justify an expensive new SUV. I ended up leasing a Nissan Leaf. With all the tax breaks, which apply at purchase and not when you file, you actually get a pretty good deal. I figured that after the downpayment the price of gas for a month with my old Pathfinder was about what I’d pay with monthly payments on the Leaf. Not quite, but pretty close.

While the purchase was done pretty much from an economic bias rather than one of enjoyment, I’ve really come to love it. It’s just a commuter car so the limited range (80 – 90 miles) really doesn’t matter much. I have the slow charger but since it’s parked in my garage that doesn’t matter too much. It accelerates very fast. Which makes sense as an electric motor generally has better torque than a gasoline one. Still I’m surprised how much acceleration it has! If you put it in econ mode then the computer artificially limits the acceleration to lengthen battery life. Still this doesn’t drive at all like a cheap car!

I’ve driven it longer distances just to see if I could. I’ve done about 100 miles doing very conservative driving and putting all the battery saving features on. While it’s doable I typically just assume a 75 mile range with enjoyable driving. The weird thing about it is that its capabilities are the inverse of a typical car. Normal cars get their best milage on a freeway and very poor milage around town. This does best around town while driving on the freeway really hits the battery hard. (I’ve got it up to 90 mph on the freeway but you’re probably only going to get around 40 mile range at that speed.)

One big question is whether it’s worth paying $1000 to get the high voltage charger install. I know an electrician I use with my business and I’m sure I could get a good deal. Plus my laundry room is right beside by garage so there’s not a whole lot of installation to do. (Had I more time I’d probably just buy the parts and do it myself – but it’s good to make sure you’re up to code)