GeneralIndustry News

Six Finalists in the Running for AOL Autos’ Technology of the Year Award

Six Finalists in the Running for AOL Autos’ Technology of the Year Award

The slate of six finalists for AOL Autos’ Technology of the Year Award have been named, each embodying the latest and greatest developments in automotive fuel economy, connectivity, telematics and active safety. Readers will now be charged with casting votes that will help determine which entrant takes the top honor.

Following a careful review of over 40 entries submitted by industry professionals, editorial staffers and readers alike, the judging panel has declared the finalists to be (in no particular order):

From midnight on November 19 onward, readers will be given the chance to vote for one of the six innovative technologies to take the top prize. The announcement and presentation of the honor to the victor will occur in Las Vegas at January’s 2014 Consumer Electronics Show.

Though it is certainly true that most readers of AOL Autos will not have had a personal opportunity to test the technologies in the running for the honor, they do have access to reviews written by site staffers, all of which are accompanied by videos explaining the finer points of each innovation. These summaries also include specific articulation of the reasons each finalist was selected by the judging panel. Once the readers’ choice is determined after voting closes, that selection will have the equal weight to the vote of one of the judges on the 14-judge panel.

AOL Autos editor David Kiley believes that the readership will have sufficient information to fairly judge the merits of each new technology offering, thanks to the detail provided in the site’s presentations. Those assessments, combined with the hands-on experience AOL Autos staffers enjoyed with each finalist, make for a thorough, accurate judging process.

In its inaugural technology contest last year, AOL Autos tapped the updated UConnect system from Chrysler as the top technological innovation, surging ahead of laudable submissions from Cadillac, Honda, Nissan and Ford.

The fuel economy category was a new addition to this year’s contest, largely because it is an arena that is seeing a major influx of technological development within the auto industry. Kiley asserted that since fuel economy innovations are so thoroughly intertwined with electronics, the decision to include this sector in an event affiliated with the Consumer Electronics Show is entirely fitting.

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Joey Logano wins Pure Michigan 400 from pole position at MIS


Joey Logano took first at the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway last Friday. It was his first win since joining Penske Racing, and the win wasn’t the only highlight of the day. Logano broke the track record of 203.241 mph previously helped by Marcos Ambrose. Logano’s No. Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion took the track at 203.949 mph. His qualifying lap enters the record books as the ninth fastest pole-winning lap in the history of the Sprint Cup Series.

Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson also bested Ambrose’s record, coming in as the second- and third-place qualifiers for the day. Driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr., acknowledged the speed, saying, “The car’s got a lot of grip. I think the track is even more abrasive than the first trip here. The cars are carrying a little more speed than the first trip here in practice and qualifying.”

Overall, it was a pretty good day for Logano on the MIS, which has been described as the sport’s fastest track thanks to the greater amount of banking. He tailed Mark Martin, his childhood hero, in the final stages of the race, finally taking the lead when the No. 55 Toyota ran out of fuel with only three laps to go. Not only did he best Cup veterans Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch, but he also moved from 16th place in series points to the number 13 spot. There are still three races left before the Chase for the Championship, and Logano’s momentum might push him far enough to make it.

Logano began racing in 2009 at Joe Gibbs racing. This win was the third in his Cup career and the first for 2013. The risk that Roger Penske took on the young driver has paid off. Penske, former owner of MIS during the early 1970s, called Logano’s win one of the biggest in 30 years. It was particularly meaningful since Penske hails from Detroit.

“What a great time to win, being in Ford’s backyard, being in Roger’s backyard,” Logano said in an after-race interview. “I’m glad to make the most of it.”

Rounding out the race’s top ten were Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Juan Pablo Montoya, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch.

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GM Foundation gives new Michigan Science Center $1 million; reopening date still uncertain

Detroit Service Center

The GM Foundation has committed a $1 million grant to the Michigan Science Center, formerly known as the Detroit Science Center.

But the center’s board of directors isn’t making any promises on whether the center will open by year’s end.

“A date has not been determined,” Shelly Otenbaker, a senior vice president at Eisbrenner Public Relations and the trustee spokeswoman for the science center board, wrote in an email. “There are a number of factors that need to be reviewed and considered as we look at opening timing.”

The science center’s board plans to meet Monday to discuss both the timing of a reopening and how it would staff a reopened museum, among other things, Otenbaker said.

As reported by Crain’s in February, Ford Motor Co. and Penske Automotive Group Inc. also have reportedly either stepped up with cash or been receptive to assisting the science center.

The plan that Chairman Tom Stephens, who retired from General Motors Co. after 43 years, and others were taking to foundations early this year called for about $4 million to reopen the science center and get it through this year. It’s unclear whether that amount included debt service.

Future operations would be bolstered by about $2.5 million in annual giving that typically comes to the museum each year, sources said at the time.

“The funds/commitments we are gathering are both for operations and repaying Ron Weiser,” Otenbaker said.

Weiser, founder of McKinley Associates Inc. in Ann Arbor and former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party and national finance chairman for the Republican National Committee, in June entered into an agreement to acquire the Detroit Science Center’s $6.2 million in debt on its building and a line of credit. He plans to make the science center’s land, building and contents available to the Michigan Science Center, which was incorporated as a new nonprofit in April.

Otenbaker declined to comment on how much the science center has raised so far, but The Detroit News quoted unidentified sources as saying the amount was more than $2.5 million.


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Penske Racing to use Roush Yates Engines in NASCAR


Yesterday Roush Yates announced that Penske Racing will use its FR9 engine in the Ford Fusion cars it will be campaigning in NASCAR next season.

It’s quite a switch for Penske Racing, which has traditionally built and maintained its own engines. Now it will be using the same engines as other Ford teams.

“We are very pleased that Penske Racing has decided to use Roush Yates’ FR9 engines as they re-join Ford starting in 2013,” said Jamie Allison, director, Ford Racing. “This aligns well with the spirit of One Ford; having a unified One Ford engine program in NASCARallows us to apply all of our technical resources into one program benefitting all Ford teams. We believe the FR9 has proven to be a strong engine and by taking the input from our teams and drivers at Roush Fenway, Penske Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports and the Wood Brothers, we know that input, along with the knowledge and technical skills of Ford and Roush Yates, led by Doug Yates, will only make our engine program even more competitive in the future.”

Jack Roush and Robert Yates used to be direct competitors but they combined forces in 2004 to make engines available to all Ford teams; so it was probably only natural for Penske Racing to participate. Nowadays Roush Yates supply engines to teams in numerous racing series.

In other NASCAR news, SRT Motorsports announced today that it would not compete in NASCAR next season. Coincidence? Not really.

Back in March, Penske Racing revealed it was switching from racing the Dodge Charger in the Sprint Cup series to the Ford Fusion next season. This left SRT Motorsports, as Chrysler’s racing division is now named, without a top team for next season. Robby Gordon was the only other team running a Dodge this year and he has only competed in a handful of NASCAR events.

It’s a real blow to NASCAR, which has suffered from a decline in spectators and TV audience this year, as it was hoping the new closer-to-production-looking cars that will debut next season would revive interest. Now we will only see the Ford Fusion, Chevrolet SS and Toyota Camry on the track. Ironically NASCAR approved all the aerodynamic packages, created by the teams, last week. The Dodge Charger was also approved but now it will not be seen on the track in competition. It’s a museum piece already.

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Audi & Daimler Introduce Revolutionary Technology at CES 2012

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For years, the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada has attracted the attention of tech enthusiasts everywhere. Since its inception in 1967, CES has been the birthplace for devices like the videocassette recorder (VCR), the compact disc (CD), and the Nintendo Entertainment System. This year, a record setting 153,000 people attended the event to get the first look at the future of technology.

This year, the automotive industry had more of a presence at CES then in previous years. Car manufacturers including Audi, Kia, Ford, Mercedes, Daimler, and many more made an appearance at the show despite the fact that the Detroit Auto Show was underway at the same time. Each manufacturer had different technology products on display. However; one of the most talked about presentations at the show was Daimler’s introduction of their new infotainment system.

The EE Times reports, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche, spoke in depth about the “connected car” and about how users of the interactive infotainment system will have unlimited access to information, “everywhere and at all times”. Mobile applications such as Google Local, Street View, and Facebook are already available to Daimler customers in Europe. However, Daimler wasn’t the only manufacturer rolling out an automobile infotainment system at this year’s CES.

Audi also announced their infotainment system. Audi’s infotainment system features integration of the Audi Phone Box. The Audi Phone Box is an intelligent compartment in the center console that passes the signal of your mobile device to an external antenna on the outside of the car. This genius invention will increase call signal and allow users to download data at faster speeds. In addition to the Audi Phone Box, the infotainment system features integration of mobile applications like Google Voice. Bringing cloud-based applications to Audi’s infotainment system is just one of features that Audi buyers have to look forward to in the near future.

Attendees agree that the technological advancements introduced by companies like Audi and Daimler point to an exciting future for the “connected car” and the connected car driver. For more information about CES 2012 and the products featured at the show visit the CES web site at

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