The LED racetrack might be a little "mod" for my tastes, but it's definitely going to appeal to folks looking for a certain look for their vehicle. I think it's great that LEDs have finally reached a price point where they can be more widely leveraged both for providing pizazz to a car's design and for great utility in terms of lighting options.
It seems almost every post regarding new and improved machines, from refrigerators, stoves, wasing machines, and now Dodge Darts are discussing the addition of "Gee Whiz" electronics for the singular purpose of brand recognition. The race-track LEDs are no different. When you buy a brand new Dart, you want it to be distinguishable from all the other cars being sold in that price range. Audi headlights are very distinctive, but also very expensive to repair when one LED dies. Multi LED tail-lights are very noticable in limited visibility but when one LED out of 9 goes out, the vehicle manufacturer has seen to it that the entire assembly needs replacing rather than one single LED. Also, imagine, out of several thousand different LEDs commercially available, exactly which one is the correct color and intensity? Just what you want is a different color LED in the middle of your Brand-Recognized Dart. In the Navy, when you had a compartment that was difficult to keep clean, you put lots of chrome fittings in it to take attention away from the dirt. Kind of makes you wonder why they put these LEDs on a low-end compact.
When one LED fails, what will be the ability to replace it? Will the entire hundred-odd LED assembly need to be replaced? Or is it a more modular design (say, 10-LED segments)?
They may be longer-lived than incandescents, but LEDs DO fail (North Charleston's traffic signals, discussed previously). A single LED failure on this tail light assembly will turn this admittedly pretty and cool design into a gap-toothed jack-o-lantern.
5 meter SMT LEDs with 150 devices now costs about $10 and sells for $20, albeit auto spare parts markup is typically 5x to 10x mfg cost. That includes double sided adhesive tape and connector but intended for indoor market not cars. Just an example of innovation 5 years ago that can extend to auto market. I use them on my house oak stair rails facing down , powered from 12Vdc little PSU in basement with Blue string going upstairs and Red going downstairs.
see example of SMT inexpensive reel of LEDs installed here
What, other than the revival of the name, makes this a Dart? Does it have the old slant 6 engine? (No.) Is cheap, boxy, and reliable? (Well, I guess I shouldn't accuse the old Dart of being reliable so much as it was easily repairable.) I'm glad it's applying LEDs in innovative ways, and I am glad the name is back. Other than that, though, it looks just like another jellybean auto.
Alex and Rob: A Chrysler spokeswoman said, "It has characteristics of the original but it's not meant to be a modern version of the old Dart." The shared characteristics are its aerodynamics and the fact that the original Dart was the "first Dodge to be marketed towards a youth audience." (The new Dart is being targeted towards millennials.)
I kinda remember the Dart as an old person's car. Maybe it was marketed on price as an entry level vehicle for younger people or families. That makes sense if you're talking about the mid-1960s Valiant with the fake spare tire on the trunk. But by the time you got to the 1970s, I think you're definitely talking older folks or value buyers looking for a cheap but functional vehicle. The Duster was the sporty version of the platform, but that could be outfitted with much bigger engines so in effect you could buy a cheap muscle car, which could book it on straightaways but heaven help you if you tried a turn at high speed. (Though you actually could get a Duster with a base 188-cu in or thereabouts Slant 6.)
In keeping with its old name Dart, I wonder if they can use the Chaser effect once used on the Knight Rider car back and forth, but for directional indicators chase left or right and then flicker for emergency braking would be my innovation where the rate of flicker is determined by braking force or rate of speed drop to alert drivers of emergent stops vs routine stops http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3382491587979249836
Chaser controls add no cost to a $1 pic processor with a flex wire to sequence a parallel string of LEDs.
Your idea about changing the flash rate based on braking effort has been around a while. There are numerous patents on it. However, NHTSA has never allowed for it in the regulations. Chasing right and left for the turn signal might be possible, as long as the implementation fell within the regulations.
I agree Puclic wants boring qiality over Flakey quality with style. Remember when Accord was best car years in a row and eveyone copied the best selling boring designs for decades.
But the deception of pizazz obscures the quality but can sell in short term.
Like chaser lights or rings of LED's. It is cheap to implment and not a huge quality feature.
Quality is subtle to the eye, like body parts. The public become educated on quality factors and look at statistics more than fancy LEDs. So marketting is after emotional buys rather than rational quality buyers. Oh well.
Give me a reliable, safe, economical car 1st. Pizazz factor is all flash in the pan.
Alex, it is amazing how much they reuse names in the auto industry. I have had two Chrysler Concordes, one a 1995 and one a 2002. These were nice modern high end cars. Imagine my suprise when at a relatives place in Idaho I saw their old Chryslter Concorde from either the 1930s or 1940s. At least with the Dart we have people who are still buying cars that remember the old model.
First, The Dart and sister car the Plymouth Valiant were VERY Reliable cars both with the original slant six and later 318 and 340 V-8s. They frequently were NOT pretty, but to quote Car and Driver magazine, "These cars won't die even when their owners WANT them to!" The mopar slant six was a staple in taxi cabs also frequently passing 300K miles with little internal repair. I owned a performance 340 version is the 70s. The car could have used an infusion of the build quality of current domestic cars, but it was a hammer, you just couldn't stop the thing.
I agree that the LED's, (of the new Dart), must be replacable in either single or small portions, otherwise the owners will love/hate them. They may like the look but just a few failures and they will turn on the feature. It is certain that more and more leds will find their way into car designs, it's a natural since they have become cheap and are easily drivenby the cars DC power sources.
Our family had 3 Darts when I was young (over a period of about 15 years). That's the first car that I can remember hearing that the engine would outlast the body by three times - and in those days, a car model that would run well for over 200K miles was exceptional. I never saw an engine problem in one of these.
...and no, the new "Dart" bears no resemblance to the real Darts. Is the next Mustang going on a Focus chassis?
By the way, the Dart with its grabbing clutch was a great car for teaching someone how to use a manual transmission. Once you learn how to drive a 3-speed Dart, you can drive ANY manual transmission well...:)
I was quite surprised to hear the Dart was returning. I second Alex's question about why this new car is called the Dart.
I owned one for a couple years. It certainly wasn't a fashion plate, but I was able to do a ton of repairs on it, Used parts where easy to come by and you could almost stand into the engine compartment. Great car.
There's good reason to use the Dart name if it's a registered trademark that the company does not want competitors to use to confuse consumer. Probably not telling anyone anything they didn't know, but you have to keep using your trademarks in order for them to remain valid. - Jim
I fail to see any similarities between the old Dodge Dart and the new "modern" version. The last models of the old version could be had for around $3000, was a rear drive car and could be ordered with a variety of engine and transmission combinations, from slant sixes to performance V8's. In no way is this new version a comparable car. It is a front drive, four door econobox that will not get too many people excited. While I am glad to see the name revived, comparing the two is an apples to oranges comparison. Chrysler missed the mark on this car as they did the Charger. Had they built the Charger as a sleek retro styled two door coupe like the original, they would have sold tens of thousands more of these cars than they have. The only similarities the two cas share is the name. I am afraid the Dart fits this description also.
This may or may not be a generalization. A week ago my 24 year old married son and I were running errands. I think we were driving up Beach Blvd in Huntington Beach throught the Auto Mall area when we passed a new Mustang which had its right turn signal on. This is one of theose sequential turn signals. Mike saw this and said what in the heck is that? Dad did you see how dumb that was? I said yup it was dumb in the sixties too.
So now we get the wrap around tail light, and next what. Wind wings? Maybe if the same money in tooling engineering and materials was spent on say QUALITY, and RELIABILITY, Chrylser would what make cars people want to buy and keep and own with pride. That is the best advertising and brand management and identification thier is. Ask Honda, Toyota and Nissan for how they do so well here. They build dull boring GOOD cars.
But Detroit give us ....ne Camaros with gunslit windows designed to keep the driver oblivious to traffic hazards.
Mustangs with stupid light systems.
Corvettes with seats in a 50K car that Japan would not put on a tractor.
Caddys that look like bad origami that have lousy repeat buyer statistics.
Fords...well ford looks like thay are doing dull and boring well. time will tell if they are good. so far they seem to be.
Chrysler with thier Fiat partner bring in a mincar that is cute....forgetting cute only sells for 8 months (witness the Smart car)....and if no follow on models come up the dealership fills up the showroom and goes broke. (Fiats are now easy to get a deal on as the cute factor is satisfied.
LED's are increasingly used on motorcycles. If they can stand up to the vibration there's a good safety benefit. Incandescent tail/brake bulbs fail often and most bikes have two bulb assemblies. Also the slightly faster "on" time could make the difference so an inattentive driver reacts in time.
Several recent motorcycles add the rear turn blinkers into the tail/brake assembly- the outer 25% on each side alternate red/yellow to signal a turn. Front blinkers integrated into the mirror housings are becoming common. Of course LED's assist in styling too.
People wondering about the revival of the "Dart" moniker need to brush up on their branding theory.
Virtually ANY name that a substantial fraction of people even vaguely recognize has huge "goodwill" value (unless of course the name has bad associations like, say, "Pinto", and even then it's not clear-cut). That's because taking a brand-new name from "Huh?" to "I think maybe I've heard of it." costs eleventy-zillion dollars in advertising. And most people would rather buy something that they've heard of before. Hence "Dart". Slant-six be damned.
That's why you often see bankrupt companies that have virtually no assets except a brand name sell for big dollars. Remember Packard-Bell PCs?
Historical footnote: despite all the controversy and lawsuits over the Ford Pinto's "exploding gas tank", a follow-up study reportedly showed that the Pinto was no more fire-prone than other cars of the time, and that its fatality rates were lower than comparably sized imports (Wikipedia).
I am glad to see more uses of led lighting. I have long been critical of automotive lighting. Too much of it has been poorly designed and has taken a second place to styling. Now that I see more led designs on cars the more I appreciate their bright light. It is much easier to see these taillights and daytime running lights. I just hope that some of the basic ideas of visibility and perception get some attention. Too often front turn signals are too close to the headlight to be seen because of the bright white light. I think it is important to be able to see turn signals at a distance, not just a few feet from the car that is going to turn.
As for the problem of repairs, I do not hold out hope of car makers giving that much importance. Just look at the high style headlights on almost all cars now compared to the standard replaceable modular headlight design of years ago. Most items produced now are throw-away commodities. This appllies to cars. appliances, electronics, and many other everyday things.
By the way, Dart is not the only old name to be reborn. The Lancer name is now used on a Japanese car, not a Plymouth.
The marketeers have portrayed "152" LEDs as being something to brag about. However, the same or better lit appearance ( and related lit area, luminance, and intensities) could have been achieved with many less LEDs if the optical system design was approached with a little more creativity and finesse. (and perhaps with some packaging depth given up by the body group).
Don't get me wrong, I love the sharp look and the unmistakable signature of the new Dart rear lighting, and hat's off to Chrysler for being bold. However, in terms of pure reliability, more is definitely not better. The reliability of a single LED and supporting mechanical/electrical systems is the primary driver. The more chances you have for failure, the greater the likelihood of failure. ( Failure defined as one more more LEDs out when it should be on. )
Judging from such a large LED BOM count, I'm guessing that the most reliable LED was most likely not used here. (the most reliable LED system is NEVER the cheapest LED system) So, in my opinion, the good folks at Chrysler should expect to see exponential growth of defective Dart TailLamps with some "teeth missing" in the next couple years. The system is probably not serviceable, and if not, the whole unit would need to be replaced. Can you say "angry customer" ? You'll get no complaint from the dealerships though, I'm pretty sure about that.
LED MAC: You raise a good point about the potential for "missing teeth." I'm sure Chrysler engineers have discussed it and are confident, but if they're wrong, the missing teeth could give the Dart a black eye.
LED MAC Thanks fot todays laugh! The marketeers have portrayed "152" LEDs as being something to brag about. You said it and hit the nail on the head the first time.
OUESTION, Caddy Deville & Sevilles have for MANY years had GOOD LED horizontal displays lights built into their trunks. Indeed other high end cars followed suit and proved the designs. Now we see lower end products like the Dart. Well I sure hope they have more than the marketing people standing behind the product this time around.
The last time after 5+ years in the USA snow belt owners were lucky to have a floor in their Dart. So hopeing new anti-rust under coating/primers may have solved that problem, I just hope Dart is NOT using the same LEDs we see failing today in so many traffic signals!
Okay, forego the slant six engine and all of the amenities of the old Dodge Dart for the sleek new bold look of an unrelated car with a wrap around signature LED light bar. Drive a billboard, not a car?
What I dislike the most about automotive LED lighting is the way brightness control has been implimented. Rather than controlling current flow in a linear fashion, pulse width modulation is employed without significant filtering as far as I can tell. Thus, any lateral motion of the vehicle or the observer's eyes creates a strobing effect. Instead of a streak of blurred light one is treated to a brilliant pattern of dashes which I find obnoxious and distracting!
I assume automobile manufacturers have looked at these lighting systems, controller, wiring and LED's with RF spectrum analyzers to insure they don't contribute to the RF noise cloud that has utterly destroyed AM radio reception in many US communities. Or do they not care in the same way their car stereos have been produced with AM sections with bandwidths no wider than telephone call audio? Noise? What noise?
@bdcst: I'm right there with you, annoyed by the flickering of LED taillights that are operated by a PWM switcher driver. Unfortunately, if the lamp makers insist on using the cheapest LEDs, this is really the only approach to getting both STOP and TAIL out of the same LED, or to just get predictable and consistent lower intensities. Most LEDs are only characterized at one drive current, that is, at a high drive current. In order to get a consistent and repeatible lower intensity with one of these LEDs, the designer MUST use a PWM switcher. If they used a constant (low) drive current, the flickering would be gone, but there would be too much intensity mismatch between LEDs on the same lamp...no good.
There are other LEDs that are characterized at both high and low drive currents, which allows the designer to use simple constant current or even better the cheapest, simplest and most reliable resistive driver. But again, if the lamp makers have their "cheap LED blinders" on, it's best to stick to the flickering nuisance.
Maybe the folks who develop these lamps have burned their retinas so badly over the years that they can't notice the flickering anymore...so no problem!
I think they should go to high intensity solid-state lasers instead of leds. You can operate them at any consistent power level, as they have built-in photodetectors, and if the guy behind you refuses to lower his high beams, you can burn the retinas right of of his thoughtless eyeballs!
The total cost of the laser diodes would be minimal, only a few bucks, but the insurance for willingly blinding people would add additional costs. Your only hope would be to skip town til the whole thing blew over once you use my brilliant lighting system...
Right, but couldn't one go back to the traditional dual filament concept by building LED tail light fixtures with a combination of dispersion optics and LED chips with two power leads, one for powering, lets say only a few of segments of a multi-segment LED substrate. Cheap LED chips could still be used but packaged so there was control over the number of chips powered at any moment and with proper dispersion optics so the pattern/beamwidth would remain the same.
My guess is the constant current sources would still end up being switchers for reasons of efficiency even though steady power levels would be required for each LED string. And, of course, you'd require two different current source supplies so each string received the appropriate current. Humbug!
And here's a retro idea, as LED efficiency continues to soar, why not continue to produce older, lower efficiency chips, bin them so they can be assembled on substrates offering two intensities both requiring the same current! Only one constant current supply would be required alternately feeding the low or high intensity (filament) lines.
Good point on the LED failures at traffic lights, Ozark Sage. One would hope the auto LEDs are more reliable than those used in traffic lights. That's especially important given the difficulty of replacing lights in so many cars.
Please don't knock the "boring" looking cars. What I want is a car that is reliable and does not need a lot of expensive repairs. This means a lot fewer of the useless features and a lot more engineering consideration given to materials and fastenings. Also, a key lock on the right hand side so that I can open a curb side door without unlocking all of the doors. That is the cheapest thing that they have ever done.
What I don't want is a vehicle that will attract the attention of every punk thief and wanabe carjacker. I want a comfortable vehicle that people will not notice, and then want to rip-off. I also don't want a car with computers that think in an entirely different way than I do. Probably none of the features that I want need a microcontroller to implement them. ABS is a possible exception, but I know that I really would pay to not have stability control and traction control, both of which are probably handy to have for 16 year old drivers.
If LED devices can be more reliable as lights, great, but if they are going to come with an expensive controol module that fails every year then forget them. Any system that is more reliable than the standard incondescent lights is OK if it does not cost a dozen times more. Of course, this is the same industry that gives us the eye-searing HID headlights, which are very bad for the glare. I read the statements to the contrary andwonder, because my experience is that the glare from the HID headlights is worse than from ordinary lights.
Perhaps the LED headlights will be better, but the reliability of the standard headlights has been completely satisfactory for me. Of course, I do not need to have a dealer mechanic replace my headlite bulbs when they do fail.
You raise an excellent point, William K. I'd always rather have a boring-looking reliable vehicle over a hot-looking pice of junk. There's no replacement for a car that successfully gets you to work every morning.
First thoughts (stream of consciousness...)? Going back to the three Plymouth Valiants we owned immediately post college days. A 71 two door Scamp with a black vinyl top that lasted longer and looked far better than any on even more expensive cars.
Two 72's - all slant sixes, one a butt ugly slime green color with, cold as the arctic, vinyl seats in the winter and an egg fryer in the summer. All had AC units that could freeze ice cubes and would startle a pedestrian at any cross walk when they kicked in. You could tell your parking space by the oil spill as tightening up any gaskets only squeezed then out of their place and the oil leaks only continued).
Quarter panels? We don't need no stinking metal in the quarter panels! That's what Bondo is for! Steering? Plus or minus a jerk left or right kept you on the road, radial retrofits after bias ply did nothing for the car!
But these cars were reliable as hell! Could fix them with your bare hands for the most part. The trunk? Bigger than any car in its price range had any right to be. And those vent windows and under dash air gates that you got adept at opening with a flick of your foot. Once I gave up my 71 Scamp, I saw it around town, overladen with a handyman's tools in the back seat and trunk for a good decade beyond 1983! It was no longer white but a tinged bleed through shade of iron oxide. The vinyl top still looked showroom new! It had to be made of cockroach shell extract.
The new Dart? Eh...I've got LED lights on my deck, they are not novel anymore and in this case a marketing hype. Just put 'em on and be done with it! Why not use neon lights since the car looks like a frikkin' new version of a Dodge Neon! Put back those wing vents...then we're talkin'!
Hey Staber Dearth Good Read! Reminds me of my fitrst purchase in '59 of a '29 Model "A", Black, of course and of a much heavier guage metal than your's and easier to maintain....used black spray paint, made it look brand new! I installed a Wolf Whistle and Ahooga Horn for effects. No AC but GOOD ventelation at speed as the shifter floor plate cover would rise UP the Shift shaft....NOT SO GOOD in RAIN but, interesting when with a female companion; as were the MANUAL Brakes too.
If you ever rebuild one of these DON'T use anything butSTAINLESS steel cotter pins on the brake actuation linkage! IF the main crossbar pin comes out it IS A HAIR RAISING EXPERIENCE especially if you're going down hillAT THE TIME WHICH IS TYPICALLY THE CASE.
Oh, one last comment. Be alert that you passenger doesn't kick the under dash fuel valve to OFF at an oppertune moment just to have some fun at your expense.
PS Paid $200, used it 2+ yrs, Maint Cost under $50... SOLD for $3000 at college in short one of the best fun buys of my life!
Ozark (one of my fave groups, Ozark Mountain Daredevils). Too many cars of today are soulless appliances. Even my 1983 Pontiac 6000STE (I called it the primitive racer, since the technology in it was definitely carryover early 70's) was the front end of the appliance car era in my opinion. The sad part was, it was about the only sports sedan you could buy at the time(actually it was the derivative of the Chevy Citation X-11) and even that was a stretch (I used to laugh at my buddy's Audi 5000 that had the ill deserved feature that I called the auto accelerative option, another buddy had a turbo Saab that never seemed to be anywhere but in the shop to fix that turbo spinner). The Pony-ac, worked first time every time, had it until 2000 with over 190,000 miles and in fine condition when those nagging uv attached parts started to fail and even the last of the remaining A bodies the Buick could not be found intact in the junkyards. I donated the car and a week later, before the state got the title transfer file, I got a call from the staties telling me "my" car was found as a burned out totalled hulk on the Schuylkill expressway.
Next car? 98 Pony-ac Grand Prix GT in black (this model only looked good in black) mostly an appliance car, no emotional attachment, gave it to my oldest son. Now, a 2010 Fusion Hybrid. I like... but once again...appliance. Gotta find a car with some soul!
I like the idea that Chrysler brought the Dart model name back because of all of the nostalgia. My comparison is not to the old Dart, but more recent Chryslers. I rented a Dodge Caliber a few years ago and found it to be very poor quality; dahboard looked like it was a spray painted piece of folded up cardboard. Seat were a matching quality. Power was minimal. It was uncomfortable. I would never consider that car as something to buy. I owned a Dodge Grand Caravan in the 90s. When I bought it, I discussed transmission reliability issues I had heard about with the salesman. He assured me, Chrysler fixed all of those problems with this model. My automatic transmission needed three rebuilds in 100K miles. The antilock brakes failed when my wife was driving the car and she almost ran over a mama pushing her baby. After the dealer denied it could be possible, they did fix the problem. They failed two additional times while we owned the car. At 119K miles it needed the ABS fixes again, the tranny was going for the fourth time, and the engine was starting to burn oil. I donated it.
When I look for vehicles, I want one that does the job reliably for a long time. For me, the car should look decent inside and outside, have reasonable power, good vision, good heater ac and defroster, a decent radio, and be comfortable. I don't want to spend fortunes on maintenance. When a little thing breaks, I don't want to have to replace one fourth of the car.
I rented a Chevy Cruze a few month ago and was impressed. Nice looking, quality interior, good power, nearly 40mpg. It was a car that I would consider buying. I really hope Chrysler gives GM some competititon with the Dart, but I will wait and see.
Actually there was some better body filler called "swiss" that I liked a lot more than Bondo. I used several quarts of it to rebuild a 1965 Barracuda, the very best handling car ever. OF course, that was after it had been set up for circle track racing. Much different springing, cheater slicks in back, and "roadmaster" tires in front. THis gave it a bit of oversteer that was predictable and smooth.
The "vent" from where the floor shift had been was never a source of cool air, it provided a hot blast of engine heated air whenever it popped open, so it got closed with a good sheetmetal plate. I did install an automatic when I replaced the "broken" raceing engine with a reliable Slant Six.
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