Electro Reliable- Does your car know where you are?If you paid $2,000 for a factory-installed navigation system you may have high expectations that it would -and that it would be easy for you to find out. Of course if you do get lost,a $1,300 to $1,400 built-in entertainment system could keep those passengers in the rear seat occupied. However, recent surveys by noted research firms J.D. Powers &Associates and Consumer Reports, gave the industry mixed reviews for these systems.
Street Smart Carbon- The 2004 Corvette Z06 Commemorative Edition has a lot in common with its racecar cousins, right down to a carbon-fiber epoxy hood. "It looks like a racer, and that 's on purpose," says John Remy, senior project engineer for front and rear closures. This vehicle, however, is intended for the streets, and it marks a couple of firsts for carbon fiber composites. According to Remy, this car represents the very first production vehicle costing under $100,000 to sport an OEM-installed carbon fiber hood. And it 's the first such hood to be painted to a Class A finish. "It 's the thinnest painted composite outer skin in the industry," he says of the 1.2 mm skin.
Rolling Efficiency- Responding to environmental concerns and regulations, many automakers have made fuel efficiency a top priority. Among other things, this means car companies are pushing their suppliers to come up with power saving part designs. One such part is designed to improve the efficiency of hypoid pinion systems. According to Timken (Canton, OH), its "fuel-efficient " bearing consumes 30%less power than typical pinion bearings. The new bearing design also aims to increase the reliability and reduce the noise of axle systems.