Category Archive:

Latest Toyota vs. Honda Hybrid Faceoff: Camry vs. Accord In Another Dimension


Camry Hybrid Launches with $25,900 Price Tag
Toyota has just announced pricing for its latest hybrid, the Camry. Sitting at the heart of the car market, this family sedan has a 187HP four-cylinder hybrid system that offers almost as much power as the launch V6-powered 2002 Camry. For a mere $25,900, one can get a hybrid powertrain and standard equipment including automatic headlights, premium audio, cruise control, Bluetooth, power driver’s seat, sixteen-inch wheels, heated side mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, and an ECO button that further improves fuel economy by controlling the HVAC system in certain situations. It arrives in dealers in May 2006.
This is an issue that VehicleVoice and AutoPacific has been tracking. Will a performance-oriented hybrid be more persuasive than a fuel economy biased hybrid. Honda has adopted the performance strategy with Accord, but not with Civic. Toyota has gone the fuel economy route with its Toyota brand hybrids, but with performance-oriented strategies with its Lexus brand hybrids. Over time, it will be very interesting to see how these differing strategies play out.


Accord Hybrid Versus Camry Hybrid
Camry launches with a price about $5000 less than Honda‘s Accord hybrid sedan, which uses a V6 and, with 253HP, offers significantly more horsepower. This dramatic difference in horsepower ratings presents an interesting case study. So far, hybrids have been primarily for improving fuel economy, as with the Prius and Civic hybrids, or for getting luxury performance with a smaller hit at the pump, as with the Lexus hybrids. But the Camry and the Accord hybrids go head-to-head in segment and size with slightly different philosophies, giving the market an the opportunity indicate a preference for hybrids with improved overall performance versus for hybrids focused more purely on improved fuel economy.

Continue Reading

Zoom Shop for iPod – Auto Integration a Must


We decided to roll off the hill Saturday morning and drive overland the ten miles or so to Pacific Coast Highway in Newport Beach. Wandered through the neighborhoods looking at nosebleed priced homes of the fabulously wealthy (where do they get all the $$$$$$?) and even rode the Balboa ferry from Balboa Peninsula to Balboa Island (truly funky in spots – for multi-jillion dollar postage stamp sized abodes).
On the way back, we stopped by a Von’s Pavilion (big supermarket) on Newport Coast Drive and lo and behold, she who must be obeyed saw a Zoom Shop for Apple iPods. Here, just by inserting your credit card, this machine will dispense iPod accessories, iPod nanos, video iPods. Interesting concept that just reinforces the contention that cars today need to have iPod integration available if not standard.
As AutoPacific and VehicleVoice research continues to confirm, iPods are one of the fastest rising personal technology items a person owns. The car company that is not planning on some integration path for iPods is failing in its planning function.


Migod! If they are dispensing the things from vending machines now, what’s going to stop them?

Continue Reading

In Car Gadgets by Accident


When I was a teen, it was super cool to have an eight-track in your car. Of course, you’d have to pull the cartridge out and try to stuff the tape back into it on occasion, but it was fun and it helped with dates.


When I was in my twenties, it was cool to have a cassette player in your car. They were smaller, longer, more secure, and best of all sounded better. Did I mention the benefits with dates?

When I was in my thirties, having a CD-player in your car was way-cool. Cassettes were so old hat. Who would admit to having one? Not me. In fact, I opted for a six-disc CD-Changer in my trunk, plus the additional in-dash slot for that extra. CDs were cool. For some reason, they didn’t seem to have much of an impact in getting dates…

Continue Reading

Let's Talk Cars: Gadget Special Report – Part I


Let’s Talk Cars: Gadget Special Report – Part I

Watch Podcast

Subscribe via RSS

Subscribe via iTunes

While the Speciality Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in the Fall may be like a candy store to car guys, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is its equivalent to electronics geeks – NOT GEEKS – they are our friends! IN fact, at CES automotive electronics is a major, major feature with one building full of displays focusing on car stuff (with the traditional bling, babes and blaring).
With portable DVD players, built-in MP3 capability and surround sound speakers, our cars are quickly becoming rolling entertainment centers. In the first of three special reports from the Consumer Electronics Show, VehicleVoice takes a look at some ground-breaking new multimedia gadgets for your car. Our three featured interviews are with Delphi Electronics, TomTom and Scosche.
Show Rundown
01:19 Delphi’s Automotive Streaming Media: Ken Erickson, Integrated Media Systems, Delphi
09:53 TomTom’s New Portable Navigation System: Anne Louise Hanstad, Vice President of Marketing, TomTom
16:34 Scosche’s Bluetooth Transmitter: Marketing Administrator, Scosche

Continue Reading

When a Manual Becomes Automatic


I learned how to drive with a manual transmission. My instructor, a former racing driver turned attorney, explained how important it was to have control over the gears and to not assume anything – or to leave chance to an automatic transmission. I loved shifting when I started driving, and yes, it did make me feel as if I had more control over the vehicle. Once, during a rainstorm, my “total control” did put me (aged 16) and my BMW 1602 askew in somebody’s front yard. With that exception, I have always enjoyed driving a car with a manual transmission. I must be lucky, as my wife feels the same way.

A Typical 6-Speed Stick

Yet, manual transmission cars have been on the decline for many years, notably here in America. Drivers here seem to prefer the lack of exercise required when sitting on the highway or freeway with 200,000 of your closest neighbors sharing the same lane and destination. And recently, when searching for a new car, I’ve come across more and more situations where a manual transmission just wasn’t available.

Continue Reading

VW and Google Partner for Next Gen NAV System


Internet powerhouse Google and automobile manufacturer Volkswagen have announced a partnership in which Google will work with the American division of the German car maker to create a new generation navigation system. Using the satellite mapping software developed by Google as a starting point, the system will, according to sources at Google, provide drivers with a bird’s eye real-time view of the road ahead.

Also involved in the program is computer graphics maker Nvidia Corporation. Known for its high-speed rendering graphics engines, and used by both PC manufacturers and Apple Computer, Nvidia may be able to deliver a product that allows data from a satellite to update fast enough to keep a NAV system’s display from bogging down, notably when a driver is moving faster than 25 or 30 miles-per-hour.

Although VW is quick to state that no definitive plans have been secured for the Google-based NAV system to be included in any specific vehicle, it is a promising step. Many consumers feel that current generation NAV systems are slow, awkward to use, and use data that is two or three years old. The partnership is also a clear demonstration that Google is eager to expand outside of the traditional “Internet” environment.

Continue Reading

Of Blizzaks and Body Shops


This is a blog about which I have been hesitant to write. You see, it has to do with accepting my own bad judgment and the requisite payment for the same. For twenty years I have lived where it snows quite regularly and accumulates on the ground. Until maybe ten years ago, I never gave snow tires a second thought. Primarily because I was usually driving in something with very good all-season tires and either front- or four-wheel drive. Mobility was rarely a problem. But about ten years ago, I bought a relatively powerful rear-drive sedan that was delivered with some very aggressive 18-inch Z-rated performance tires. To say the car was difficult to drive in the snow is misleading. The car was undrivable in the snow. The sticky summer tires turned hard as linoleum once the temperature got below 45°F, and the jumbo 27/35-18s at the rear were so wide they couldn’t bite down and get anything even remotely resembling grip in snow. Without snow tires, the car would be little more than an attractive driveway ornament for about a third of the year.
If you live where it snows and you drive something with performance tires. be it rear-drive, front-drive or even all-wheel-drive, you NEED snow tires.

Continue Reading

As new Hybrid Vehicles Arrive, Firefighters Make Rescue Adjustments


Even as the drapes were pulled off new Hybrid models at the Los Angeles and Detroit Auto Show events in the first weeks of January 2006, firefighters across the country are just beginning to understand that traffic accident rescue methods need to be adjusted when dealing with Hybrid technology. In addition to other rescue-related risks, hybrids add electrocution to the risk-mix.

Manufacturers of hybrid vehicles, including Toyota, Honda, Ford and others, all incorporate the same basic components in their cars and trucks: a gas tank, an electrical generator, a high-voltage battery, and for safety purposes, air bags. Early electric vehicles ran a minor risk of battery explosion, but new Hybrids typically do not. The real risk relates to electricity itself. Hybrid batteries deliver up to 650 volts, enough to kill a human being. In addition, should the couplings for batteries become severed, free-flowing electricity can ignite leaking fuel or other combustibles, just as might occur if an electrical wire were to fall during a storm or other accident.

Continue Reading

Mercedes-Benz Introduces a New Clean Diesel System

Bluetec: Has Mercedes Developed a Global Clean Diesel System?
There were several Bluetec-equipped vehicles on DaimlerChrysler company stands at the 2006 North American International Auto Show this January, including a Jeep Grand Cherokee Bluetec, the E320 Bluetec, and the concept Vision GL320 Bluetec. AutoPacific explains a bit about this system and where U.S. consumers might see it in real applications.
The Bluetec system is the result of Mercedes search for a diesel emission-control system that can be applied worldwide, meeting federal and market conditions that vary from country to country. The overall difficulty with diesel is the amount of aftertreatment required to lower emissions to levels required by various governments, and how expensive these processes can be.

Continue Reading

Ford's Nancy Gioia – Hybrid Queen


Nancy Gioia replaced Mary Ann Wright as Director of Sustainable Mobility Technologies and Hybrids for Ford Motor Company in Fall 2005. Mary Ann nurtured the launch of the Ford Escape Hybrid and contributed to the understanding of hybrids different from Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive.
We first met Nancy Gioia at the launch of the Thunderbird Roadster where she was the chief program engineer. She was open, friendly, conversational and a solid representative for Ford’s product development activities. She wouldn’t even rise to the bait that the T’Bird would not meet its sales potential because you couldn’t see out of it and because it didn’t have a retractable hardtop. Oh, well. The engineers can only implement the vision of others, right? (WRONG!)
Here is Ford’s blurb on Nancy Gioia…

Gioia Ford Blog.jpg

In its drive to become leader in “green” technology, Ford Motor Company has turned to one of its long-time engineers to lead the charge into a sustainable future. Nancy Gioia, Ford’s Director of Sustainable Mobility Technologies and Hybrids, is committed not only to further development of the company’s hybrid vehicle portfolio, but also to raising the technology’s profile.
“The hybrids should be our generation’s Model T,” Gioia recently told The Detroit News, quoting her Uncle Harry, who continues to be a source of inspiration for her.
“He said the Model T became part of your life,” Gioia added. “They were more than just cars. You drilled wells with them. You drove them across your fields. Hybrids need to become part of people’s lives today.”
Gioia first became seriously interested in engineering as a high school student interning at Ford Motor Company. She changed her college plans from pre-law to electrical engineering, and upon graduation from University of Michigan selected Ford Motor Company over 14 other job offers.
“I don’t regret it one iota,” said Gioia, who is a native of southeast Michigan.
Gioia started her career at Ford in 1982 in its Electronics Division. “During the ’80s, vehicles went from having $200 worth of electronic components to having $1,200 worth,” Gioia recalled. “We’re seeing similarly rapid technology growth today with hybrid technology. It’s an opportunity to enhance vehicle performance and function while allowing us to get higher quality and reducing cost.”
Nancy’s career at Ford eventually led her to heading up the engineering team for the 2002 Ford Thunderbird and then as lead engineer for the company’s “lifestyle vehicle” group that includes the iconic Mustang.
“As a director I’m very participative and hands-on when my team needs me to be,” Gioia said, adding that she believes in including her team in decision making. “Ford’s hybrid team has some of best and brightest minds around. I have complete confidence in their technical breadth and depth.”
The only thing more important to Gioia than her work is her family. She is married to Tom Gioia, whom she met at Ford. They have a 13-year-old daughter, Samantha, in addition to a dog (Chloe) and two horses.

Continue Reading

Follow VehicleVoice

RSS Feed   Facebook   Twitter

2018 NVSS

2018 New Vehicle Satisfaction Survey
By Invitation Only

Start Survey



Recent Winners

Sid P., Washington - $100
Ken G., Nevada - $100
Brad T., Wisconsin - $100
Tom M., Virginia - $100
Kathy F., New Jersey - $100
John M., Massachusetts - $100
Mike M., California - $100
Carol R., Texas - $100
James D., Georgia - $100
Martha B., New Jersey - $100
Kerry B., Pennsylvania - $100

What is VehicleVoice?

About Vehicle Voice