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Google Car, Ford GT and Printable Cars

Google Car

The Google Car is ready

In case you haven't yet heard, Google have built a car that can drive itself. According to the tech giant - after five years of planning, designing, and testing - the entirely autonomous Google Car is ready for production. For the time being, Google say only 'safety drivers' will get to trial the vehicle, as they 'continue to test and learn', before the driverless car is unleashed for real, starting in California.

Google also state that they don't have the same end goals as car companies looking into autonomous automobiles. Google's vision is of a fleet of summonable car-drones, picking you up when called via a smartphone. Google co-founder Sergey Brin argued this was the best use of the technology, “Cars aren’t used 96 per cent of the time. In peak time, 30 per cent of city driving is people looking for parking. That goes away if you have cars that drive themselves and drop you off and go find another passenger.”

Previously only an adventurous idea, Google gave us a concept in May of a car with no steering wheel, that could, once programmed, transport passengers without any human input whatsoever.

In the time since then, the international innovators have apparently succeeded in coming through on their promise. “We’ve been working on different prototypes of prototypes, each designed to test different systems of a self-driving car. For example, the typical 'car' parts like steering and braking, as well as the 'self-driving' parts like the computer and sensors,” a spokesperson explained, “We’ve now put all those systems together in this fully functional vehicle - our first complete prototype for fully-autonomous driving.”

Ford GT

US fines Honda $70m for not reporting deaths

Japanese manufacturer Honda has been fined almost £45million by regulating bodies in the US. The two $35m fines, the largest amount allowed by US law, are for failing to report deaths and injuries allegedly caused by faulty Honda vehicles. In November, American Honda was forced to admit that, when reporting to safety agencies, it had somehow overlooked 1,729 complaints - all accusing Honda cars of causing death and serious injury between July 2003 and June 2014.

At one point, Honda tried to blame this 'oversight' on computer and clerical errors, but it has since been revealed the carmaker knew of the omission as far back as 2011, and did nothing about it. Federal officals later added that American Honda have also been neglectful in filing warranty claims and customer satisfaction claims.

“Honda and all of the automakers have a safety responsibility they must live up to, no excuses," said US Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx. “One thing we cannot tolerate and will not tolerate is an automaker failing to report to us any safety issues, because if we don't know about these problems, we're missing an essential piece of the puzzle in the recall efforts we use to fix them and to protect the public.”

The fines follow an extensive recall of Honda models in the US due to faulty airbags. Read the full story on the Honda recall here.

New 'Ultimate' Ford GT steals the show in Detroit

Talk to anyone at the Detroit Motor Show this last week, and they'll tell you that of all the makes and models on display, one in particular seems to have outshone the rest - the new Ford GT. “We've been working on it for a little over a year.” said Ford CEO, Mark Fields, “It's a showcase for all our latest technology, including EcoBoost performance and aerodynamics.”

And what a way to showcase. A V6 EcoBoost engine, giving more than 600bhp, and a carbon-fibre shell reminiscent of classic 1960's racers. If that isn't enough to turn heads, Ford plan an 'exclusive' production run in 2016 that'll see the GT go for around £250,000 a piece. The twin turbo-charged concept is one of 12 new cars that feature in the Ford Performance brand. Petrolheads will undoubtedly recognise the rest of the line up so far, which includes the new Shelby Mustang GT350R and the Ford Focus RS. Read more about the Focus RS here.

"This is the ultimate embodiment of all our innovation,” proclaimed Raj Nair, VP of Ford, “Everything from the wheels, aerodynamics, engine. All this new technology is important for future Fords. The GT is the flagship. This is the ultimate Ford. A new halo.”

Hyundai Santa Cruz

Hyundai reveal the Santa Cruz 'CUV'

The Santa Cruz, both technically a pick up truck and an SUV, is Hyundai's 'visionary' concept of a 'CUV', or Crossover Utility Vehicle. It comes from the firm's desire to appeal to the growing market for crossover models, which are already very popular in the US. “55 per cent of US buyers are buying trucks. CUVs, not pick ups, are driving that growth”, insisted Dave Zuchowski, CEO of Hyundai Motor America,“We must secure a greater share for our existing crossover products and develop new products for emerging truck markets.”

Mark Dipko, Hyundai's director of corporate planning, said the manufacturer wants to attract 'millennialist' customers, “They are the second-biggest group of car buyers. They live in [urban] areas but don't have space for a traditional pick-up. They have tighter parking on streets and generally more congestion. We call these buyers 'urban adventurers' and this car satisfies their need for urban expression.”

The Santa Cruz holds a 2 litre turbo-charged diesel and kicks out 190bhp. It comes complete with all the features an 'urban adventurer' could hope for: multiple tie cleats, an expanding cargo bed, and about 3 tonnes of self-compensation.

Local Motors have made a printable car

It's called the Strati and it's 80% plastic, but it also houses a fully electric powertrain and handles rather well. Local Motors, a start up American company, hope to print 30 models in 2015, with prices ranging from $18,000 to $30,000. “We like to think of it as a Build-a-Bear mashed up with IKEA mashed up with Formula 1,” said CEO and co-founder, John Rogers Jr.

The whole vehicle weighs 1500lbs, and is comprised of only about 50 separate parts (compared to thousands in any other car). It takes roughly 45 hours to print, before the suspension, engine, wheels, and other unprintable components are added.

Local Motors have announced they'll actually be holding a competition, where 12 winners will be able to design the printable car of their dreams. Have a look at the Strati and the competition here.

The Tokyo Auto Salon

Detroit, London Classic, Autosport Intl - this time of year could easily be described as auto show season. One stand out event amongst them all, though, is the Tokyo Auto Salon. The premier tuning show in the country that pioneers the modification scene, the Salon, is always worth a look for the sheer imagination on display. See the winners of the various tuning categories here.