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Friday, October 31, 2014

The "Beast". 

When it comes to protective vehicles there is reportedly nothing more enduring then President Obama's wheels.

The most recent vehicle to be customised as the presidential car is a Chevrolet Kodiak-based, Cadillac-badged limousine often referred to as Cadillac One. (A reference to the presidential aircraft - Air Force One)
It's armour plating is said to be 8+ inches thick with it's doors weighing as much as those on a Boeing 757. The windows are a staggering 5 inches think, enough to repel some seriously heavy gunfire. The tyres are Kevlar reinforced run flats. Pop the boot and you will find firefighting equipment, oxygen tanks and even a cache of the Presidents bloody type - for transfusions on the run.

When you're as influential and powerful as the President of the United States, a vehicle this excessive is justified.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Trucking Into 2025

Is this the future of trucking? Late last month Mercedes-Benz released their vision for trucking in 2025. 

Dubbed the "Future Truck 2025" - this concept was showcased at the International Commercial Vehicles Show in Germany. It's high tech and it's sleek. The LED lighting seen in the grill illuminates white when the truck is underway but will then turn blue when the truck is in autopilot.

That's the distinguishing feature - An array of radar sensors (in addition to the latest blind-spot system) scan the road and traffic around the truck to move down the highway free and easy and clear of other vehicles.

This technology is not that far away, so, by the time 2025 rolls around, this tech should have had the kinks worked out. With an interior as groovy as this, and the ability to go autopilot, we predict many folks will be putting up their hands to jump into the trucking industry.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

From The Military To The Masses.

From saving lives to your car.

Creativity and innovation are often shackled by the lack of funds, fundamentally it's expensive to create and experiment. Where the budget never seems to be lacking, especially in the US, is in the military sphere. There is no great surprise to know that many innovations we use on the roads today were initially conceived to help take and save lives.

The military can be thanked for many great innovations which have be adapted to the mass consumers. Let's take a look at a few we use on todays roads.

The Global Positioning System, was originally developed for American Air Force and Navy use. Between 1973 and 1978, Dr. Bradford Parkinson worked with both military branches to develop the Navstar GPS system. The system uses multiple satellites to triangulate users’ location and help navigate. Today, almost every car, truck, plane & phone has a GPS system as standard with American, Chinese and European networks in use.

If you know what a car is, you know what a Jeep is. 4WD technology has actually been around since the turn of the 20th century. By the 1930s, the military needed a scout car that could have speed and versatility in addition to hauling power and all-terrain capacity. The problem was that these two features were mutually exclusive from an engineering standpoint. The first Jeep that made it to battle, the Willys-Overland MB, provided the answer as the perfect army scout vehicle. Its performance in the war was so outstanding that Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “America could not have won World War II without it.”

From fighter pilots to your car.
or 'Heads Up Display" is that floating readout graphic you see in front of fighter pilots helmets. HUD's evolved from weapons sites during 1940s, utilising reflections. It wasn't until the 1960s when the first modern version of the HUD was used by a french test-pilot Gilbert Klopfstein. In the 1970s HUD was introduced into commercial aviation and now it is a standard extra in most modern makes of cars. 

The classic Tom Cruise Aviators from the movie Top Gun were in fact originally designed for fighter pilots. A design that prevented as much sunlight as possible from reaching the eye led to Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses, which became standard gear for men enlisted in the military during World War II. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Run Flats vs. Regular Tyres.

Picture this.. You're on the side of the road, your tyre is blown out. You have 2 options, either call for roadside assistance or you can roll up your sleeves and change the tyre yourself. What if there was a 3rd option? Well there is, and this is where 'run flats' come into their own.

'Run flats' give you the ability to continue to drive your vehicle for an additional 80km's* following a puncture or blowout. This gives the driver the ability to exit the road safely and drive (a considerable distance) to the nearest repair shop.

Even though changing a tyre is an important skill, the idea of 'run flat' tyres sounds pretty handy. The added benefit of losing the weight of a spare tire and tools could help with fuel efficiency too.

There are two main types of 'run flat' tyres: Self-Supporting, and Auxiliary Supported. Self-Supporting tyres have stiffer and tougher rubber, which can temporarily carry the weight of the vehicle under lower tyre pressure. Auxiliary supported tyres don’t have stiffer and tougher rubber, but are attached to a special rim which has a steel support ring that is attached to the wheel and can support the weight of the vehicle.

So whats the catch? You probably guess it  - price. On average 'run flats' are one third more expensive then regular tyres, and can be dramatically more then that.

Performance. As you can imagine driving on a tyre with next to no pressure will affect your vehicles performance and handling. It has been documented some users have expressed concern whereas others felt the car responded fine, considering it had no pressure.

If changing a tyre is an uncomfortable or intimidating process, then 'run flats' are ideal for you. You will be paying for convenience. If you're on a budget or you can't justify the effort vs cost then your standard tyre is more then adequate for the job.

*Distances can vary - always check with the manufacturer for the specifics of the tyre you are using.

Check below for all the technical details.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Weirdly Functional Designs

Is this the greatest "Surfer" vehicle ever created? Road tripping is a big part of any committed surfers passion and if you had these wheels and this level of comfort - no wave would be too far away. Construction artist Jay Nelson, from San Francisco has created an 'Ewok' inspired custom camper truck.

Nelson, a respected surfer and fine artist from San Francisco, is who you call when you need a tree house or bicycle camper. His weirdly functional designs are all totally unique and are made to order. 

If you're a surfer or a natural explorer, these are the rides you want. If Carzoos ever get their hands on one of these rides we will be a bunch of very happy 'campers'. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

10 Essentials For Your Next Road Trip

Whether you're road tripping to the next music festival, taking the gran-kids fishing or throwing the surfboards on the roof and sleeping in your boot, road tripping is a favourite pastime of many Australians. With a country as expansive as ours, let's face it, we do a lot of driving.

We have done some digging around here at Carzoos and have put together some essentials for your next road trip.

A road trips not a road trip until you're pulled over, lost, map in hand. We certainly encourage you to have your GPS devices but never underestimate the convenience of a physical map which doesn't run out of battery, loose signal or send you round in circles.

The Playlist
An absolute essential is the playlist. Always take into consideration the audience of your vehicle and choose a list to cater for all. With our expansive country you can't always rely on the radio, so make sure your audio device is compatible with your ride. A silent road trip is a long road trip.

Comfort food can be a life saver on the late nights or early mornings. A 'cooler' bag of some description is ideal for keeping your beverages cool for the long, open road. Pre-packing meals can save you enormous amounts on food and drinks whilst on the road. Some of those lonely and remote road houses aren't renowned for their price (or quality).

Make sure your vehicle is stocked with the bare essentials. You don't wanna be caught at a drop hole and be fresh out of toilet paper. Keeping tissues, toilet paper and sanitizer handy will save you from any unexpected circumstances on the road.

Don't be the one squinting all day. Australia is a big, dry and bright country - save your eyes and keep a pair of shades plastered on your face.

In the era of smart phones we are all essentially carrying a camera. Don't feel like you shouldn't bring a traditional camera, these are much more likely to get picked up and shared around. Your diversity of photos will be much larger then just your 'selfie' diary.

Spare Pair of Keys
A life saver. Just make sure you don't keep them together...

A Best Friend
Everything is more fun with a companion, and a road trip is no exception. A good memory is a memory shared. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Volkswagen XL1 - truly unique in look and performance

When Volkswagen unveiled the XL1 last year to a mixed response, there was plenty to take note of: Its incredible aerodynamics, astonishingly lightweight construction, surprisingly extreme dimensions (‘Shorter than a Polo, lower than a Porsche Boxter’, according to VW), and bizarre retro-futuristic styling (rear hood covers and gull wing doors bringing to mind the best and worst of 80s supercars).

The two things which stood out the most, however, were the incredible fuel mileage of 100km per litre, and the equally extreme price of about $169,000, higher than most luxury cars,and almost at supercar-levels of expensive.

Most people were quick to point out that the kind of people willing to spend more than 150 grand on a car were most likely not those looking for economical gas mileage, others speculated on how much fuel you could buy with that much money.

Indeed, if you were to take that money, buy a Hyundai Accent (which gets around 6L/100km), you would have enough money left over to drive almost 2 million kilometres!

Of course, the XL1 is more of a symbolic venture by VW; an indicator of future possibilities - and in that sense it’s pretty exciting. So we at Carzoos decided to crunch some numbers and see just how much of a difference a mileage of 1L/100KM would make to our lives[1].

We took a selection of six road cars and put them up against the XL1, from the popular, gaz-guzzling Holden Commodore, to the car voted the most economical in Australia; the Suzuki Alto. Here’s what we found:

Even the ultra-cheap fuel costs of the Prius seem huge compared to the miniscule appetite of the XL1. After only 50,000km of driving they’re almost 4 times that of Volkswagen’s hybrid.

The popular Corolla fares badly too. Over the course of ten years driving the Corolla costs $9000 more in fuel alone than the XL1. As one of the best selling cars in Australia in 2013, if everyone who bought the Corolla could have bought an XL1 (at the same price tag), a massive $170,000,000 would have been saved in Australia, in just 5 years!

To get a bit more perspective on just how incredible the achievement is, imagine you’re in Melbourne and you have a full tank of gas (60L). The Commodore will drop you in Canberra, the Mazda 3 would carry you to Newcastle-Maitland, and the Prius would drop you within 200 miles of the Gold Coast.

The XL1 would carry you from Melbourne to Perth… and then back to Adelaide!

Whatever you think of the XL1’s styling, price, or practicality, it’s a landmark achievement that looks very promising for the future of motoring. Let’s hope that the principles are taken up by other manufacturers so that soon we can all be enjoying long-distance driving holidays, and more money to spend when we get there!

[1]The following statistics use an average of 10,000km driven per year, and use an average of $1.50 per litre of fuel.