Happy planet, happy people

Cars (and vehicles in general) are rightly considered to be one of the biggest constributors to global warming and a general decline in the environment. The fuel that they burn leaves gases that harm the planet (including us!).

The above is a fact that no sane person can deny*. Hence the build up of interest in greener cars. Thanks to advocates like Al Gore, people are warming up (no pun intended) to the idea of global warming being a menace created by humans and most importantly, a meance that can be controlled. One of the most powerful moments in Al Gore’s award-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth is when he compares the rising auto industry of Japan to the dwindling auto industry of North America. Japanese are way, way ahead in terms of producing cars that not only are easy on the environment, but serve a growing and close-knit market of self-aware, caring individuals.

Toyota has been making Prius since forever it seems! Honda has caught up with their Honda FCX Clarity.

Honda’s FCX Clarity (set to be released in the US Both cars are more pleasing to the eye, and both car companies are from Japan. The eco-aware North American and European consumers are left with little choice but to go for the Japanese cars. Of course, nothing wrong with that. US Presedient Elect Obama’s car is a hybrid and environment is on his agenda.

It will be interesting to see how these two companies inspire (out of sheer business competition, if nothing else) other car companies to start producing responsible cars. It now makes business sense to go green and this early in the game, will almost always prove to be a unique selling point.

Know more

  • Check out more details on Honda FCX Clarity (LINK)
  • You may read up more on Honda FCX’s technology news (LINK)
  • Check out the new Honda hybrid set to be released in 2009 (LINK)

*The exact implications of global warming, also implied in Al Gore’s documentary, are still debated. An instance of such debate can be found in Michael Crichton novel ‘State of Fear’ where the pro global warming argument is debated against.

Honda Sports Concept Car – woaah!

The Honda Sports FC (more pics at end of post) is the new concept car by Honda. It looks something straight out of a futuristic sci-fi film and that is just how we like it!

The car is definitely a looker, but the most interesting part of this car is the engine. Hydrogen powered engines on a sports car, now that is conceptual alright! But Honda has done it, at least in concept:

The Honda FC Sport explores how to satisfy automotive performance enthusiasts in a world beyond petroleum,” Dan Bonawitz, vice president for American Honda, said in a statement. “People who love sports cars will still have a reason to love in a hydrogen-powered future.”

The Honda FC Sports was revealed to the general public at the Los Angeles Auto Show this year (2008).

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Toyota Corolla 2009

Toyota is one of the biggest car companies in the world. Period. They are so big it will make your head hurt. Their Corolla is the most sold car in the world, ever. The whole world. From Japan to the US. Wow, the most sold car in the world, you sure? Well, yes. Heck, just look at the Toyoto Corollas filling up the streets in Pakistan to get an idea for yourself. These Corollas are every where, like candy in a candy store.

It does not matter if you like the car or not. I have never liked the shape of the older Corolla model (I think it looked and still looks like a nee-oola :D ) and I still don’t like the new Toyota Corolla 2009. The car, in my opinion looks ugly. Then they want to confuse everybody by bringing in Altis in the 1.8 range, then upping the Corolla GLi from 1.6 to 1.8. Now the new Corolla 2008-2009 is called Altis as well as Corolla. It will set you a back a cool 1.8 million ruppes or so. Ok, to simply matters, I will shortly be posting the new Corolla prices with the respective trims (GLi, XLi, 2.0 D and Altis!). For the record, the 1.8 Corolla is now called Toyota Altis (or Toyota Corolla 1.8 Altis or any friggin’ combination thereof :/ ).

Anyways, here are the Toyota Corolla 2009 pictures

So tell me guys, do you think that:

  1. This is a good looking car?
  2. Is it even close to being worth 1,800,000 rupees?

Some Cool Car Videos

Fifth Gear, the TV show, should not need any introduction to most of you.

Check out the videos that these guys put out, some of them are just, well, some of them are just too cool.

The above is taken from YouTube and is part of an effort to set up a community for CarAdvice.pk and get the car love flowing all around ;)

Car Safety: Driving while sleepy

I have had this problem not once, but quite a few times. As a part of my business, I have been going to a town roughly 300 km away from Lahore. I go there at an average of once a month at least, for the last 3 years. My head practically slumping down and hitting the steering wheel is not something new for me, given that I try to catch the relatively calmer roads either early in the morning or late at night. This in turn, leads to a not-so-attentive me.

The Hazard: But drowsiness (or tiredness) has nothing much to do with your current state of sleepiness. Sure, it doesn’t help if you have been awake watching re-runs of Punjabi stage shows the previous night, but one can not be too careful when it comes to attentive driving. This is especially true for long-distance driving. (I will give you the keys to my car if you can prove that you fell asleep while driving in one of our cities!)

The hazard is not that you will fall asleep while driving, the hazard is that you will be unable to pay the right amount of attention and get into an accident. This not only endangers your life, but of others on the road as well. Also, your feeling of tiredness not only comes from a bad-night’s sleep but, according to Mercedes press release:

In addition to the lack of a good night’s sleep, one of the most frequent causes of the dangerous phenomenon of nodding off at the wheel is monotony.

I of course, can second that. Nothing lulls you to a good-drive’s sleep than the Motorway at night! And no wonder Mercedes is telling us about this, given that they are set to introduce this great feature (to be rolled out in 2009) called Mercedes Attention Assist. It will, I daringly presume, assist you in paying attention.

The Mercedes Attention Assist: It takes in numerous factors to actually establish that you are tired, and then warns you to take a break. The values recorded by the system not only include the speed and the acceleration but also the angle of the steering wheel, the way that the indicators and pedals are used,

How Mercedes does it

How Mercedes does it

certain driver control actions and various external influences such as a side wind or an uneven road surface. Observation of the steering behavior is particularly significant: tired drivers can be spotted by a series of typical steering wheel movements which they then immediately correct. The new Mercedes assistance system recognizes signs such as these; if the driver’s steering behavior changes and other indicators also point towards encroaching tiredness, the system outputs a warning at an early stage. A warning signal sounds and a symbol in the instrument cluster advises the driver to take a break.

Huh? Warns us to take a break? I know when I am tired, trust me. I don’t take a break not because I am unaware of my tiredness, but because I foolishly think that I can ‘make it’. I think that it is OK and there is no serious hazard to me or to the inhabitants of my car or the pedestrians etc. It is this thinking that gets us into trouble.

But optimistically speaking, it might take that one last signal from the car I am driving to convince to actually stop to take a break and refresh myself.

Car Technology & Car Safety in Pakistan: As car technology evolves, we get to see decent-sized efforts to make the cars safer. After the technology comes out, this takes another gazillion years to reach the Pakistani markets, which is nothing short of pathetic. If you have an air bag on your car’s steering wheel, that’s a good start (majority of the cars being produced in Pakistan fail miserably at safety; some models of cars as famous as Cultus come without even a freakin’ seat belt! Beat that!)

Mercedes Attention Assist via Engadget (LINK)

Suzuki Swift Pictures

Suzuki Swift (also known as Cultus in Pakistan) has the capability of being the fun car. Many who are aware of this car would argue that it not only has the capability but the newer Suzuki Swift is already the ultimate fun car. But I am talking from a Pakistani perspective here; the Suzuki Cultus in Pakistan has to come a long, long way to be anywhere near a great car.

The current Cultus that has graced us Pakistanis with its presence is again the local Suzuki folks trying their best to cut corners. Nothing is as ironic as a car company cutting corners (as is the case with Suzuki Mehran).

But the following is definitely not about the current Cultis, it is about the award winning Suzuki Swift that seems to be everywhere except Pakistan.

Suzuki Swift Pictures

Reviews of the Suzuki Swift

Suzuki Swift has been getting some great reviews, even from people who are damn hard to please! Check out this Fifth Gear‘s episode:

Honda Accord 2009

The new Honda Accord (model 2008) that you can see – although not that often – on the streets of Lahore is surely a sight to behold. It is remarkably different from Honda’s previous year’s boring Accord. The new Accord 2008 is something quite beautiful indeed.

Some Tech Specs: The 2009 Accord Sedan is a 4-door, 5-passenger family sedan, available in 13 trims (yes, you read that right, THIRTEEN trims!), ranging from the LX 5-Spd MT to the EX-L V-6 5-Spd AT w/ Navigation System. (But don’t worry, dear Pakistanis, we won’t be getting more than two trims (three tops) to choose from.) Now, moving onto the more interesting features of this car…

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Barack Obama drives a what?

With all of the USA’s brand-spankin’ new President’s talk on conserving fuel/energy and going green, it should come as no surprise that the record breaking Mr. Barack Hussien Obama drives such a cool, hybrid car. He drives an eco-friendly SUV (an apparent oxymoron, no doubt!), the great-lookin’ Ford Escape Hybrid 2008, an American car through-and-through.

Just check out how mmm, un-green the car looks! (read: great lookin’ car!)

Ford Escape Hybrid, 2008

But it was not always like that

The new President-elect did not always drive this green beast. When he was in the car-making haven of the United States, Detroit, telling the American automakers to cut down on poisonous emissions from cars, he himself drove around in a gas-guzzler.

But my oh my, what a beautiful gas-guzzler it is!

The problem with driving an eco-friendly car is not that people do not want a hybrid or something in those lines. It is just that say, a Toyota Prius looks like, frankly, a dork car. That elusive political will has been missing for way too long. Now that the auto world has waken up and is rubbing their eyes to the new realities, it is people like Obama who will (hopefully) provide the much needed political will to make eco-conscious cars that are actually beautiful.

And this is exactly where the difference between the good and the better really is; Obama was smart enough and did not have a ballooning ego to not review his commitments with respect to his actions. He talked about fuel efficient cars but did not have one. So he changed. He got a car that is relatively at least, much more eco-friendly. Yup, change he can. :)

Perhaps someone driving a hybrid can drive the American nation to a far better place. More mileage, more traction and a helleva lot more safety.

End note: American cars in Pakistan

We have quite a few American cars roaming the streets of our country, but I wouldn’t call it a fair share. Seemingly, for good reason. The first and foremost being the one main factor that Obama promises to address: fuel consumption. Fuel here is expensive (comparitve to our earnings) and driving cars that get famous because they consume like a mmm hog is a sure-shot dealbreaker. But I am sure quite a few of us have spotted the covetted Hummer pulling out of a petrol station (how appropriate!). I have heard that there is an Escalade in Islamabad as well. That is a sight for sore eyes for sure.

Launch date of The New Honda City 2009

I know a lot of people in Pakistan are curious to know the exact launch date of the new Honda City 2009.

So now it is confirmed, Honda City 2009 is being launched in Pakistan in February of 2009.

A review of Honda cars in Pakistan in general, and Honda City in particular is coming up here at CarAdvice.pk, and if it is anything like the Suzuki Mehran review, you guys better stay tuned. :)

You can book the new Honda City for PKR 1,052,000. The engine size (and the engine technology) seems to remain at 1300 CC. (As opposed to the anticipated 1500 CC only).

Honda City 2009 is definitely more pleasing to look at as compared to the current City that you see on the road nowadays. The backside of a bus looks more pleasing than the current City, but let us leave that for another post ;) .

If your internet connection permits, check out this video of the new Honda City at YouTube.