German car firm Audi said it has demonstrated a car without a driver clocking nearly 150MPH at the Hockhenheim racing circuit.
A number of automotive manufacturers are experimenting with the concept of cars that don’t need drivers. And Google is at the forefront of such attempts.
It may be quite a while before we see such vehicles on the roads, however, with a number of obstacles on the way including the question of liability in case of accidents.
The RS7 Audi used a heap of sensors including GPS to navigate around the race track, with the data generated being analysed and processed by software. The car took two minutes to complete one lap of the circuit.
Software is notoriously bug ridden and some governments would be a little nervous about licensing potential death traps to scoot around increasingly congested cities.
Audi board member Dr Ulrich Hackenberg said the test allowed Audi to test several concepts which could be applied to cars with drivers.
European car sales have gone off a cliff yet again. Reuters is reporting that the first half of 2013 was the worst for carmakers in two decades and it seems to be getting worse, as sales in June dropped 6.3 percent.
With record unemployment in Europe and youth unemployment over 50 percent in some EU countries, the figures are hardly surprising.
The industry is also facing a host of other problems and overcapacity is one of them. Fiat and Peugeot seem to have gotten the worst of it, dropping 13.6 and 10.9 in June respectively.
It’s hardly surprising, as both outfits are running on fumes and selling outdated hatchbacks – both the 308 and Bravo are long overdue for replacement, along with the venerable Punto. The plucky Peugeot 208 is off to a good start, though.
Ford was an exception with a 6.9 percent rise in sales and the Volkswagen Group is still hanging in there, thanks to a fresh range of hatchbacks based on the new MQB platform. However, Audi was down 8.9 percent.
Car registrations in EU and EFTA countries fell 6.7 percent last month to 6,436,743, the lowest monthly total since 1993. IHS Automotive believes the market has bottomed out, but it’s still too early for anything resembling a recovery. In a recent interview BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer said things probably wouldn’t get better until at least the middle of 2014.
Even the mighty German market, which bucked the negative trend in recent years, shrank 4.7 percent in June. Sales in France and Italy dropped 8.4 and 5.5 percent respectively and we don’t even want to mention Spain and Greece.
However, Britain soldiers on with the sixteenth straight month of gains. Sales in June were up 13.4 percent, which is rather surprising.
BMW owners may have to up their driving game, with research showing they’ve been overtaken as the “most adulterous drivers”.
According to a report by married dating site IllicitEncounters.com, Audi drivers have crashed into top spot of those most likely to commit adultery.
The site speculated this could either mean BMW owners have switched to a new car manufacturer or have bucked up their ideas and been more faithful in the past 12 months.
BMW remains as the worlds largest maker of luxury vehicles despite Audi receiving $25 billion worth of investment since 2002 and doubling the number of model lines it makes since 2003 from six to 12. However, it seems Audi has plans to take the lead from BMW by 2020 and in one thing it seems it’s succeeding.
Apparently those who drive Beemers, and now Audis, are “typically successful, motivated, high-achievers who are less likely to settle for something they find unsatisfying, be it a car or a relationship.”
And car manufacturers are well aware of the sex status some of their vehicles carry. Mercedes, which came third in the survey, even famously used infidelity to advertise their cars with the banned ‘Not In This Weather’ advert.
But while German car brands are most notorious for adultery statuses it seems the French are more likely to keep it in their pants with the survey finding that drivers of Peugeots or Renaults were less likely to stray.
Skoda and Hyundai drivers were also less likely to commit an illicit act.