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Now this is rather cool. Not wanting to miss out on a tech bandwagon car makers are jumping in with their own smart watches. Nissan has this little beauty, the Nissan Nismo Concept Watch, which it is offering buyers of its high-end cars.

It links with a smartphone via Bluetooth to offer a mix of standard smartwatch stuff - messaging, heart rate monitoring, etc with information about the Nissan car, including fuel consumption, average speeds etc.

It is rather striking looking device that is available in a trio of designs. It charges via USB and it will run for seven days before it need a recharge.

"Wearable technology is fast becoming the next big thing and we want to take advantage of this innovative technology to make our Nismo Brand more accessible," said Gareth Dunsmore, marketing communications general manager at Nissan Europe.

"On track, Nissan uses the latest biometric training technologies to improve the performance of our Nissan Nismo Athletes and it is this technology we want to bring to our fans to enhance their driving experience and Nismo ownership."

There's no word yet on release date or pricing, but I think this could a be a very hot trend.

ford-sync-top.jpgFord has one upped the ante in the way cars are integrating consumer technology by revealing a host of new apps for its AppLink system at IFA.

AppLink (which essentially connects a smartphone to Ford's SYNC connected dashboard system) now works some really interesting content company and service providers including Spotify, Tom Tom and They are mainly activated by the users's voice.

Other new additions that debuted at IFA include apps from ADAC, Eventseeker, Audioteka, DIE WELT, Cityseeker by Wcities, Autoread and AskWiki. Users can now search for new apps via a catalogue that Ford will be introducing soon. There are apparently over a million cars across the globe that have been kitted out with with AppLink-enabled dashboards on the road around the globe.

The company has also made the significant move of opening the API to developers to create their own apps.

"The opportunity really is to embrace the creativity that exists out there", said Ford's Jim Buczkowski, director of electrical and electronics systems today.

"Smartphones have created a platform for individuals and small groups to become innovators and really focus on consumer needs. The strategy we have with AppLink is to create a platform and interfaces that allows those developers to develop their applications and experiences from a phone and allow them to work in a vehicle."

It will be interesting to see how other car manufacturers respond.


Although even the toughest cases may keep your phone scratch-free, they're certainly not invincible, and if you're as clumsy as us you end up working your way through them at a rather fast pace. Well now Nissan aims to bring the clever paint technology it uses on some of its cars to a phone case near you, ensuring it stays in pristine condition and can even heal itself if it gets scratched.

The special paint, called Scratch Shield paint, is able to repair any kinds of scratches (we assume this means small scratches and not a massive crack) on its surface within a matter of hours because it's made from polyrotaxane, which reacts to any damage and fills in the gaps.

This Scratch Shield paint has now been added to the exterior of a new iPhone case made from ABS plastic to protect it against scratches, scrapes and falls down the stairs (we've never done that, honest). It also makes the surface better to grip and hold on to as well.

It may sound like some kind of device from the X-Men, but we imagine it's a slow and limited process, meaning you can't whack it with a hammer and expect it to magically reform straight away. However, it's certainly very cool to see technology from the automative industry being used to keep our over-priced gadgets looking lovely.

[Via CNET]

Electric CarA number of car manufacturers have made electric, hybrid and low-CO2 emitting vehicles over the past few years, including the likes of Fiat, Honda and Citroen, as well as more niche brands like Tesla Motors.

Most people see these cars as brilliant ideas, but they're often considered a bit too pricey or high maintenance, so reserve a space in the idea of the perfect world we'd all love to live in, where there's also global peace, no diseases and calorie-free cake.

Well now it seems that the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, wants to make that dream a reality after he unveiled ambitious plans to ensure all taxis in the city are electric in ten years, a project he's dubbed Source London. Wow that guy loves transport doesn't he?!

The announcement was made at EcoVelocity, a huge motor show specialising in electric and low-carbon motors. The show will be running at Battersea power station this weekend and looks like it'll be interesting to lovers of design, green tech AND fancy cars.

[Via Metro]

Ford MyKey

Car manufacturer Ford will be revealing a new kind of technology for its European vehicles called MyKey at IFA in Berlin today.

MyKey will allow car owners to program a special key for their vehicles, which then enables them to activate a number of restrictions, such as top speeds and audio volume.

The technology has been devised in response to the high numbers of accidents among young drivers and will be aimed at parents who are keen to control how their teens use their family vehicles.

It's a bit of a controversial topic in many ways, shouldn't we really be teaching young people how to drive responsibly and follow the rules of the road instead of banning them from doing certain things? I suppose in an ideal world, yes, but there will always be those who want to bend the rules a little and the MyKey will hopefully stop them from doing anything too reckless.

Regardless of your stance on the MyKey and the principles behind it, it's sure to give worried parents peace of mind, so maybe it's not all that bad or totalitarian.

MyKey technology is already a success in the US and will be added to certain Ford models in 2012.

Those tiny eco cars always look like shoes. And here's another one: the EN-V concept car. Though given how weird this one is, we're not sure it counts as a car in the first place, resembling a covered Segway more than the average hatchback.

The EN V (short for Electric networked vehicle) only has two wheels, has a joystick instead of a steering wheel, and sort of raises itself up when you get it going like some thing from power rangers.

It doesn't have any aircushions or crash barriers, but does have a smart way of knowing that you're about to hit another object. OH YES - and it drives itself, so don't worry about that bit.

It will go at a max speed of 25mph and was designed by General Motors as a prototype for the dark days of the future when we all live in crammed cities with no parking space.

Browse through our pictures and lust after its weird geeky shape. But be aware it's unlikely to hit markets for another 20 years..

40-india-map.jpgInteresting point from an employee of NavTeq, the satnav makers, at mobile location conference MoMoLo last night. He was explaining how navigation companies make maps and directions in countries where streets don't have names.

The answer? They do just what humans do - use landmarks. Of course this is an early science, but it's something GPS makers need to work with as they expand beyond Europe and America.

It's a big issue in India where apparently many streets aren't named.

"In India streets don't have names or signs" Anwar Ahmed of Navteq said, "so we do - 'at this temple turn left, or at this signpost go left'."

Problems obviously come in choosing the right landmarks - as some are more temporary than others. And it involves more cultural understanding and local knowledge than just street names.

Still interesting huh? Anyone experienced this?


Ford have reinvented their classic Focus car this year for the Geneva Motor Fest by whipping out the internal combustion engine and replacing it with a battery. Their new Focus Electric is run completely on electricity and has no carbon emissions.

It's not just a model for the show either - it's going into production this year and will be available in the US and Europe by 2013. It's one of five electrified vehicles they hope to deliver and the flagship vehicle for the manufacturers.

They say it's dynamic and powerful reaching a maximum speed of 136 kph (84 mph) but quiet and sleek as well with an aerodynamic design. Gadget lovers that we are, we like the sound of the personalised interior that will sync with your gadgets and provide intuitivie intelligent driving controls...

Charging times are as laid below....
* Powerful on board charging equipment can charge the Focus Electric in three to four hours, if the car is plugged to an appropriate public charging station
* Connected to a dedicated charging box at home, the charging time will be five to six hours and will range from eight to nine hours from a standard European household plug



You may be more used to seeing those little acorn and stem designs from Orla Kiely on pencils and laptop bags, but Citroen have just gone and pasted them all over a car. A car which you, dear reader, can go and buy.

Though they mocked-up a wrap-over patterned car for the concept model, what will be in car shops around the country is a little more subtle.

We had the pleasure of giving the Citroen DS3 by Orla Kiely a quick once-over this afternoon.

There are two designs - the acorns and the stems, and each pattern comes in two different colours. And rather than just swaddling the whole car in the design, the DS3 is filled with little details that refer to it: that means customised leather headrests, coloured rearview mirrors and branding on the floormats and the roof.


The Citroen DS3 by Orla Kiely will cost £16,000, though only 500 will be available.

We talked to Melina, now digital head of Citroen, previously a product manager who was involved in getting Orla Kiely on board. These are some of the things she said to us:

>>Citroen chose Orla to collaborate with on the DS3 because she appeals to a female audience. Factory-made stuff can be very masculine.

>>Designing the Orla Kiely DS3 was about finding the right balance between the constraints of the fashion and design world from her perspective and the constraints from our side on what the factory could do.

>>Both Orla Kiely and the DS3car designer Mark Lloyd had been to the same university - London School of Arts.

>>The DS3 Orla Kiely has to be a car you can live with, 6 months and 3 years later, not just something that makes a statement. So we didn't want to put the pattern everywhere, and Orla thought exactly the same - it's in the details, it's all about the details..

>> Orla has produced a whole range of products - she started out doing hats for Harrods, and now does everything including socks. She has her own world. And the car now goes with it. It's not just something that takes you from A to B, it's about the atmosphere and surroundings and you can now take that with you wherever you go.

More info here

Some beauty shots below... Check 'em out:


Your trusty family car could soon be just as wired up to the internet as your laptop or mobile as manufacturers seek to get internet connections into cars. It's a hotly tipped area in tech this year.

I'm expecting Apple to bust out an iCar any week now... just think of these new cars as giant mobile phones with wheels that you can sit on.

In the meantime... Harman and Sierra Wireless announced a step forward for car internet at CES in the form of an LTE wireless module that could be fitted into cars and would provide them with high-speed internet. Sort of like a dongle for your car that will let it access the fast LTE internet network.

The module will be called the AirPrime, and will have an open API allowing third parties to write apps for it.

Bring it on!

See all our CES 2011 coverage

We'd like to call this a free iPad, but you need to purchase a £30,000 car to get the benefit of the deal. Hyundai are giving away a free iPad with their new Equus 2011 which debuted at the Los Angeles SEMA car show. It's pretty swish though, check on it below...


The iPad contains the user manual, but of course will work as a normal iPad as well...

We don't have any specs for the iPad - whether it's a 3G or wifi only model for example, but we do know that the car is a sedan with 24-inch TIS modular, with Pirelli P Zero Nero tires, glossy black and matte charcoal two-tone paint scheme and presidential tint windows and tailights

Still, we love that Hyundai are using the iPad as a manual - if I was choosing between two £30,000 cars that would tip the scales for me... But I guess if I was in the position of buying a 30 grand car, I'd probably already have an iPad...

The new Hyundai Equus 2011 review on Crunchgear

1171MINIScooter _2_.jpg

Mini has made its scooter debut at the Paris Motor Show 2010. with the e-concept range. Clearly aimed at young urbanites, the new range of electric scooters even boasts space on the handlebars to accommodate a smartphone, such as an iPhone.

The iPhone bit is waterproof in case you're wondering.

Various colours are available including yellow/grey and British racing green. The electric motor, located in the rear wheel, is powered by a Lithium Ion battery.

Video and picture gallery below....

Fashion brand Lacoste - known for minimalist preppy sports-inspired fashion and their alligator logo - have collaborated with Citroen to make a car. It's a real fashion buggy.
What with it being a concept car, it doesn't actually exist as a commercial product, but if it did, I fear it would be out of my price range, given that even t-shirts by Lacoste cost a few too many ££s for me. Still it's nice to look at.


As Citroen put it:

"the car is finished in a range of attractive colours and materials from pearly white and textured blue bodywork to vibrant yellow touches and honeycomb structure wheel hubs. It's short, rounded bonnet and curvy, sculpted rear cuts a distinctive profile." Scuplted rear indeed.


It will be unveiled at the 2010 Paris Motor Show.

1010ignition_interlock.jpgDrivers convicted of Drinking Under the influence in New York will now be forcibly fitted with a new gadget.

The Ignition Interlock is like the opposite of pimping your car: it's a car lock combined with a breathalyzer. Clamping over the ignition switch it requires the driver to blow into the mouthpiece anytime they want to start the car. The car will only start if their blood alcohol level is below 0.025. That's the equivalent of one drink.

Smart? - yes. It's also pretty harsh...

The breathalyser also demands samples throughout trips: the device will sound an alarm at random intervals, forcing the driver to pull over, switch off the engine and take the breath test again. If they don't do so without a set time, the vehicle will only continue working until the engine next shuts down.

If a driver repeatedly fails a breath test, they'll have five days to take it in for a reset (which carries a further fee) or face the vehicle being permanently disabled.

Oh and if you were thinking of asking your friend to take a quick puff in it for you... there's a camera attached with facial recognition to make sure the driver is the only one giving the sample. Anyone caught giving false samples will wind up back in court...

You also have to pay for the fitting - about $125 plus monthly upkeep fees from $69.50 to $92.

I suppose it is better than having your license taken away from you.. but it is like Big Brother..

The Ignition Interlock gadgets have been in use for a while, but their use in New York will bring them to a much wider number of people.

Should we have them in Britain?

Test Drive: Nissan Leaf electric car


Nissan Leaf.jpgIf you thought that electric cars were just teeny, tiny little things like the G-Whiz which look like they'd turn over if you blow on them, then think again. The latest crop of electric vehicles (and we're not talking hybrids here) are proper cars that look - but don't sound - like the real thing.

Last month, we checked out the Volvo C30 which won't go into production until 2013. This month it's the turn of the Nissan Leaf which is going to be available, albeit in small numbers, from next spring. Like the Volvo C30, the Nissan Leaf looks like an ordinary gas guzzling car, and houses a huge Lithium Ion Battery underneath. It's also a family car with room for 5 people.

It's available in various user friendly colours (black, red, silver, grey) but we took out a metallic blue model from Nissan's Bedfordshire HQ - a left-hand drive sample for Europe and currently the only one in the UK. As you might expect the price of the Leaf is quite steep at just under £24K (£23,990 to be precise), but prices will fall once full UK production starts from the Sunderland plant in 2013.

Until then demand will be met by Nissan's Japanese factories. "We're not expecting the Leaf to take over the road from day one," explains Gabi Whitfield, Communications Director, Nissan GB. However, those wanting to pre-order a model for next Spring can do so from Nissan's website here. Be warned though the website is very annoying with lots of flash animation and electronic voices.

Start me up
Driving a car these days it seems is more like booting up a computer and so it is with The Leaf. Obviously there aren't any gears to contend with, it's just a case of flicking a switch and putting your foot on the gas - sorry electric - pedal. Nissan claims it can go 100 miles on a single charge but this will vary according to the kind of driving you do.

Nissan Leaf 2.jpgThere is an Eco Mode but this will reduce your speed in order to maximise distance between charges. Top speed is 90 miles per hour but on the mean streets of Milton Keynes (or thereabouts) I didn't get close to that. Instead I reckon I got the car up to around 50/60 miles per hour, but I'm sure it can go faster.

What's very odd about electric cars generally I find is how quiet they are, like something out of a sci-fi movie. Nissan have got round this problem for hard of hearing folk and those who generally don't look when they are crossing roads - people like me in other words - by actually introducing noise at lower speeds.

Up to 30 miles per hour the Nissan Leaf emits a whistling turbine type noise. Faster than that the noise of the tyres going around is loud enough to alert you to the fact that a car is approaching. Apparently there isn't yet a standard that manufacturers of electronic vehicles have to follow, but Nissan's idea of introducing a noise at low speeds does seem a sensible one.

That's entertainment
While driving the Nissan is a pleasant enough experience (its low centre of gravity perhaps makes it feel a little more sporty than it really is!) what's really good about the vehicle is its in car entertainment system.

I've had to make do with a CD changer for years now, so I'm easily impressed with a car that has MP3 input jacks, USB sockets and so on. But the Nissan Leaf doesn't just stop there. It also boasts a large colour Satellite Navigation system complete with a map showing the nearest charging points - unfortunately there aren't too many of them yet!!

And apparently the vehicle will even interface with your mobile phone, telling you if it needs charging before you take it out and allowing to put the heating on in the vehicle before you set off on a cold winter morning.

So would I buy the Nissan Leaf? Well at £24K not a chance. I can see that some show offy types with loads of money might splash out on one - in the same way as Hollywood types have been photographed with their Toyota Pious, sorry Prius. But really when you can buy a top end 3 year old petrol car for half the price, it's not an option.

Even though you do make a saving on the congestion charge and on petrol, it's still going to take some time to make your money back considering the massive premium - even if you travel into central London every day.

Then again, once mass production starts in 2013, prices fall, and there are charging points all over the UK then it does become a serious proposition. Whether electric cars are that much better than petrol cars for the environment is of course a massive issue (because obviously the energy needed to power them still needs to come from somewhere), but at least electric vehicles don't chuck out nasty particulates into the atmosphere that can really damage people's lungs. What's more, they should save you money at least in the long term!

Nissan Leaf


Driving range 100 miles (160km)
Max speed 90mph (over 140km/h)
Battery Type laminated lithium-ion battery
Battery layoutunder seat & floor
Length 4445 mm
Width 1770 mm
Height 1550 mm
Seating capacity 5 adults
Max Engine Power 80kW
Max Engine Torque 280Nm
Charging times quick charger: less than 30 min for 80% charge;
Home-use 220V charger: about 8 hrs
On sale in the UK from March 2011
Built in the UK from 2013

Via Hippyshopper

883 gps_map_screens thumb.jpgWhile the electronic maps function on mobile phones is one of their big selling points, they can be expensive beasts to run abroad. Some testing by Garmin on an HTC phone on an O2 pay as you go contract showed that using mobile navigation on the 185 mile Calais to Paris trip cost £24 to £39 in roaming charges one way.

Roaming charges for pay as you go customers were £3 a MB and £2 a MB for customers on contracts.

On the same basis, navigating a trip from Calais to Cannes on a mobile contract would cost £298.80 for 747 miles, according to the Garmin press release. Garmin - the makers of in-car navigation devices - have an obvious vested interested in getting you to use their devices and maps rather than the one that comes bundled with your mobile phone.

But - it raises an interesting point: GPS location is free and works worldwide, (the little ping that mark your location get sent up to American satellites, and if you have a GPS device it doesn't matter whether you're in Tyneside or Timbuctoo) but downloading maps isn't. So, if the maps are already there then it's hunky-dory, but if they're not, then downloading that data is expensive.

Phones with maps already onboard - some Nokia and Android phones will not charge you for navigating abroad.

One more reason to wish mobile networks would get their damn roaming charges sorted out..

Yes WhipCar is another online car rental service, but with a slight twist. This time you're not just renting a car from a company with a car pool - you're renting it from your neighbours. Yes, that's right. From John down the road or Maureen next door.

637 whipcar.jpg

So who can rent out cars?
Anyone with a driver's license over 21 can sign up to rent cars, and anyone who has a car can sign up to rent the vehicle out. WhipCar vets the cars it accepts and the drivers too.

So why would I want to drive someone else's car?
Well maybe you don't have a car and perhaps you just want one to go pick something up, take a trip to the shops or collect a friend from the airport. This will be cheaper than renting from a company and you'll be able to pick up and drop the car off much closer to home.

Why would I want to let some randomer drive my car?
Well, because they pay you. Because you probably don't use your car all the time and there are occasions when it's sitting around in your drive doing nothing. Now it could be earning you money. According to the DVLA, the UK currently has 29 million registered passenger cars on the road, many of which are used for less than an hour a day (according to WhipCar) at an average cost of £5,523 per year to own.

Who pays for the petrol?
The person using the car. The lender and the driver meet up to hand the car over and fill in a WhipCar form assessing the amount of petrol in the car and the state of the car. It also agrees the drop-off and pick-up points for the car.

So what if I crash someone else's car?
One of the things WhipCar has set up apart from the organisational framework is an insurance deal. When you pay WhipCar, they include an insurance premium and sometimes an excess in the price. So if you crash a car, the insurance covers it.

The name WhipCar reminds me of WhipLash.
Well, it shouldn't. It should probably remind you more of Whip Round or give the suggestion that cars will be provided quickly and conveniently.

Okay. Why did WhipCar set this up? What's in it for them?
Well they saw a problem - underused cars that they could solve and decided to set about doing it. And of course they're making money too. They take a cut of what you

Some bold words from their Director, Tom Wright:

"We want to combat excess car capacity on the roads, make the cars that are already on them more efficient, and find a way to reward owners who make use of their extra car capacity. For drivers, we want to evolve the status-quo model of traditional car clubs and rental schemes to provide a local cost-effective rental solution. We've launched in London first due to the high volume of cars, but will be quickly looking at a nationwide rollout. Fundamentally, we believe WhipCar will completely transform the concept of car ownership and how cars are used and rented in the UK."

So much would borrowing a car for 2 hours to go do some shopping cost?
They won't actually say, it depends on the circustances of the borrowing and the length of time and any insurance points that pertain specifically to you. So, you
There are also cancellation fees and fines for keeping the car too long or getting parking tickets and suchlike. The drivers pay WhipCar and the owners get paid at the end of the month.

Does this rely on people being nice to other people?
Yes, it largely does. Though there is a code of conduct and insurance for when they're not.

Car-share woo-hoo?

See more: WhipCar site

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395  vexia 1.jpgSatnavs tell you where to drive, so it was only a matter of time before they started telling you how to drive too. And someone's just gone and launched one in the UK. With a twist though.

Econav fixes on your car's dashboard like a TomTom or other standard satnav and tells you how to drive in most efficient and eco-friendly way possible as well as where to go. That means a) it's better for the environment and b) you save more fuel.

Select the make of car you own from the Econav's 8000 strong database and it sets up the sat nav up so it can accurately tell you which gear you should be in and if you're accelerating or braking excessively. It also has an inbuilt speed limit warning.

This reminds me of my mum. But the Econav, unlike my mum, then measures how much fuel you've saved by following the good driving recommendations and presents you with a Econav Report.

Econavs were initially launched in Spain by creators Vexia but their new versions will be available in the UK as well.

Available on

Econav 480 (4.3" screen) UK & Ireland maps: £179.99 inc VAT on amazon

Econav 380 (3.5" screen) UK & Ireland maps: £149.99 inc VAT on amazon

The Cheeky girls were there, and so was ShinyShiny. We managed to push celebs aside and get a look at Peugeot's new electric car the BB1: branded as half scooter, half car, it fits four people, has handlebars instead of a steering wheel, and the cutest squished windscreen you ever saw.

142 tomtom-go-720.jpgHaving cornered the market in car navigation, TomTom have made their new GO I-90 device more multi-purpose by moving into in-car entertainment or infotainment as they like to call it.

The word 'infotainment' makes me think of the dreary educational computer games my parents used to foist upon me, but, TomTom's infotainment features are altogether more useful. Including a voice-activated radio, it also links up to your mobile to allow you to use your phone hands-free.

These features are combined with the classic TomTom features: a pre-installed map of Western Europe; TomTom Map Share technology - so drivers get daily map changes from the TomTom community; TomTom Safety Alerts, including safety cameras; and an Help-Me! emergency menu - local information to get help quickly.

It is compatible with most phones and also has a USB connection for MP3-players and iPods.

TomTom GO I-90 costs Є599 (excluding installation cost) from

TomTom goes Live with the GO x40 series and the SatNav iPhone applications that beat TomTom to it

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