Automotive

Audi’s Holoride is a VR experience like no other

Back seat car rides will never be the same again

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It had been a long day, but I could still barely contain my excitement as a fancy car whizzed me down the interstate to a race track on the outskirts of Las Vegas, one chilly evening before the start of the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show. 

While the in-seat back massage made me wish the ride was longer, I also couldn’t wait to get there. Tonight would be my first time in an e-Tron, Audi’s new fully electric SUV, and my first taste of what Audi calls the future of mobility, one with entertainment content at its center.

It’s an interesting proposition, one I’m more than willing to chew on. With self-driving vehicles on the horizon, tonight, instead of getting behind the wheel, I take a back seat, put on a VR headset, and trade my current reality for one that promises to be more exhilarating.

Called “Rocket’s Rescue Run,” it’s the first title in a collaboration between Marvel and Disney and Audi’s new spin off venture Holoride, that aims to make VR entertainment a mainstay in cars of the future.

As the e-tron’s driver steps on the accelerator, in my alternate universe my ship surges through space. I’m joined by my sidekick Rocket Raccoon, and together we team up to help Iron Man take down a mob of Thanos’ space goons.

I’ve had many VR experiences before, but none like this. As soon as the SUV pulls away, the whole experience makes perfect sense. Every twist, every sharp turn, every bit of acceleration or sudden brake is matched by the same sensation in the game. For the entire 5-minute ride, my body is tricked into believing this reality. Not an easy feat for an utterly nitpicky tech journalist, I can only begin to imagine how big of a technical challenge it was to pull off.

I wield my laser gun like a pro, take down an evil mothership, and celebrate our victory with fireworks. The experience ends, and the e-tron stops. Reluctantly, I take off my headset. It feels like I’ve just been on a theme park ride, but from the privacy of my own car — well, not really, but I wish — and without standing in an hour-long line. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that during my adventure the e-tron reached speeds of up to 90mph. We’ve navigated plenty of sharp turns, too, but I don’t feel so woozy.

Supposedly matching the car’s movements to the virtual reality experience helps in mitigating nausea. As I get out, I thank my driver, but also can’t help but imagine a world that’s driver-optional.

At CES, we saw Audi’s vision of the future, a concept car called the Aicon, with an interior that resembles more of a lounge than a current automobile. As with Holoride, the development of Aicon represents a shift in the idea of mobility, one that’s ushered in by a focus on passengers instead of drivers. Together, Aicon and Holoride make perfect sense in a future world of fully autonomous vehicles. If no one is driving, what else are we to do?

Anything you want to, apparently. Cars are now seen as multi-purpose spaces, just another room that we occupy as we travel from place to place: be it a relaxation pod, a meeting room, or your own private cinema.

The team behind Holoride is most invested in the latter, creating entertainment experiences that are just long enough to fill the entire duration of your trip. They’re calling it “elastic content,” VR games and adventures that automatically adjust to congestion and shortcuts, so that you’re never left without something to occupy you.

Together, Aicon and Holoride make perfect sense in a future world of fully autonomous vehicles.”

Soon, Holoride plans to open its technology to more car manufacturers, content creators, and game developers. The goal is for a wide range of immersive experiences, customized to events in the real world like traffic jams or stop lights, and for those experiences to be available in more car brands. Apart from games, like the one I played, the company is also planning movies, interactive features, and educational tours. Indeed, the type of content you could enjoy is limited only by the imagination.

A few minutes later, I find myself getting another back massage inside another chauffeured Audi A8, making our way back into downtown Las Vegas. These days, when I do travel by car, the experience is similar to this, albeit less fancy. I’m bored, maybe antsy or impatient, in the back seat, with only my phone and social media to distract me. I hadn’t given it much thought till today, but in a world where one constantly thirsts for something to capture one’s attention, I can certainly see how “content will be a major driving force for the mobility experience of the future.”

The day is almost over and I am exhausted. I recline my chair, close my eyes, and enjoy the back massage for a few minutes more. I dream I am back in the e-tron, and wonder when this future will arrive, what it would be like if the next Avengers movie was interactive, and most importantly, what it would be like to watch it from the back seat of a fully autonomous Audi.

Automotive

Ford Ranger, other SUVs come with exclusive deals this Truck Month

Solid deals all October long

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Getting a car feels like a necessity these days due to limited public transportation. Here in the Philippines, the rainy season brings floods and other weather hazards which make SUVs and pick-ups popular in the country.

Those on the lookout for their first SUV or pick-up purchase should take a look at Ford’s offering now. This Truck Month, the brand is offering exclusive perks on the Ford Ranger, Everest, EcoSport, and other SUVs. These perks are available only from October 1 to 31, 2020.

Discounts, downpayment deals, and free ownership package for Ford Ranger

The centerpiece of this year’s Truck Month is the cash discounts, low downpayment deals, and free ownership package with every purchase of a Ford Ranger Wildtrak, XLS, or Raptor.

The 4×2 Ranger 2.0L Wildtrak is getting a PhP 90,000 cash discount for the manual transmission variant. Meanwhile, the automatic transmission variant enjoys a discount of PhP 70,000.

Meanwhile, the Ranger 2.2L XLS MT variant is down to its lowest price of PhP 943,000. There’s a PhP 88,000 all-in downpayment option for the variant too.

And as for the Ranger Raptor, every purchase comes with a free Premium Care Package for a limited time. This package is inclusive of a five-year scheduled service plan, warranty, and roadside assistance. It is already a steal considering that the whole package is worth PhP 100,000.

Perks for Ford SUVs and Transit van

Select variants of the Ford Everest gets a PhP 50,000 cash discount. These variants include:

  • Bi-Turbo Titanium+ 4×4 AT (2.0L)
  • Turbo Titanium 4×2 AT (2.0L)
  • Turbo Sport 4×2 AT (2.0L)

Even bigger discounts await buyers of the Everest 2.2L Trend 4×2 AT. For a time, it comes with a PhP 100,000 discount though customers can also avail the PhP 178,000 all-in downpayment.

Generous cash discounts also await the modest crossover from Ford, the EcoSport. The top-of-the-line EcoSport 1.0L EcoBoost Titanium AT and the 1.5L Titanium AT comes with PhP 150,000 discount. Meanwhile, there’s a PhP 90,000 discount for the 1.5L Trend AT and MT variant. Customers have the option to avail of PhP 38,000 all-in downpayment for 1.5L Titanium AT.

Premium SUVs from Ford also get exclusive deals and attractive financing options. Now, one can avail the Explorer 3.5L Sport EcoBoost AWD AT at 0% interest for 60% months at a 20% downpayment. The same financing options offer is also up for grabs with the Expedition Limited EL 4×4, whether it comes in bucket seats or not.

Meanwhile, the Explorer 2.3L EcoBoost LTD is available at 0% interest for 48 months at a 20% downpayment.

Rounding up these exclusive deals are cash discounts for Ford Transit. Getting the 15-seater van nets a discount of PhP 301,000. There’s a financing offer of PhP 68,000 downpayment or 0% interest for 36 months at a 20% downpayment. Ford is throwing in a free five-year schedule service plan on every purchase as well.

Visit the Ford Philippines website or any dealership nationwide to avail of these offers.

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Automotive

Nissan debunks 4 electric vehicle myths

The Nissan LEAF demystifies common misconceptions about EVs

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The Philippines is gearing up for a major shift in the automotive industry to EVs or electric vehicles as Nissan prepares to bring the Nissan LEAF to the Philippines. But before the icon of Nissan Intelligent Mobility arrives in the country, Nissan shares the top four electric vehicle myths and debunks them all.

Myth #1: EVs are slow

A recent experiment raced the Nissan LEAF against the fastest elements of nature — fire and wind, with the famous EV winning with its celebrated acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in just 7.9 seconds.

With lesser moving parts, and a powerful electric motor, an EV accelerates faster than a regular engine car. With over 70 years of EV expertise, Nissan has designed the e-Powertrain that puts electric power straight to the wheels for instant acceleration, making the Nissan LEAF quicker on the start, for a smooth and very responsive drive.

Myth #2: An electric vehicle’s range capacity is limited

On a fully charged battery, the Nissan LEAF can cover 311kms. If you consider that the average daily drive around Metro Manila is 13.2km, you can drive around the National Capital Region in a fully charged Nissan LEAF for up to three weeks, without having to worry about an empty battery.

For out-of-town trips, the Nissan LEAF can take adventurers up to Baguio (246.6 km from Metro Manila) before you need to recharge.

Also, the Nissan LEAF’S ePedal combines both ease, excitement and innovation in EV technology. The innovative feature also enables you to drive using one foot pedal, allowing you to accelerate and brake depending on the foot pressure.

Even more impressive, Nissan’s ePedal is part of an advanced regenerative braking system, meaning the car will even recover a little bit of charge every time you brake.

Myth #3: Charging is a pain for electric vehicles

A common misconception is that electric vehicles can only be charged using quick charging stations. Although the Philippines currently has around 14 charging stations that are ready for the Nissan LEAF, most electric vehicle owners prefer to charge at home, since it is the most convenient option.

Similar to charging one’s mobile phone after a long day’s usage, the Nissan LEAF can be plugged into a regular electrical socket to charge it overnight. Charging with the universal cable usually takes about 12 to 15 hours to fully charge the Nissan LEAF.

For faster charging, users have the option to install a special wall box to speed up the charging time to 5 to 7 hours.

Myth #4: Electric cars are not exciting

With the Nissan LEAF as the icon of Nissan Intelligent Mobility, the possibilities of a safe, fun, and exciting driving experience are endless. What’s more exciting than an electric vehicle producing zero emissions and virtually no sound while drifting?

In this exhilarating demonstration, the Nissan LEAF showed how easily the mass-produced EV can churn out both maximum torque and force, while delivering virtually silent donuts and burnouts. The Nissan LEAF, with its rapid acceleration of 100 km/h in 7.9 seconds, is quick on the start with a smooth and very responsive drive.


This is a slightly modified press release from Nissan Philippines.

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Automotive

New compact SUV Mercedes-Benz GLA premieres in PH

Sporty, fits more, and comes with some fancy tech

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The new GLA is the eighth model to join the line-up and rounds off the current Modular Front Architecture (MFA) from Mercedes-Benz. At the same time, it represents the entry level into Mercedes-Benz successful family of SUV models.

The new GLA combines the best from the two high-volume segments, the compact cars and the SUVs. It embodies the perfect synergy between pure beauty and robust off-road elements. It carries Mercedes-Benz’ signature SUV design and trailblazing technologies as a true demonstration of modern luxury.

Sporty from every perspective

The sharpened SUV character and expressive design underscore the new GLA’s claim to setting the standard in its class. More than a commanding view of the road ahead, the new second-generation GLA offers a rewarding view of what’s next.

As a compact SUV, it fits in nearly any open space and yet has room for your entire life. The character has been significantly reinforced compared with the previous model. The height of the new GLA, at 1611 millimeters (1616 with roof rails), exceeds that of its predecessor by more than ten centimeters.

The GLA 200 AMG Line boasts an attractive sporty appearance both inside and out. In particular, the AMG Body Styling comes with a diamond radiator grille with pins in chrome, 19inch 5 twin-spoke light-alloy wheels, black roof liner and polished aluminium roof rails.

The side and rear views are characterized by the muscular shoulders of the vehicle. In addition, the new generation multifunction sports steering wheel in Nappa leather stands for exquisite look and feel of the new GLA.

Fit more in. Fit in more.

Within a more nimble length, the new GLA gives you more space to ride, more room to shop, stow and be spontaneous. The seating position for both the driver and the front passenger is higher and more upright than in the predecessor model, and thus more typical of an SUV.

The new GLA offers a more spacious interior with seats that are incredibly comfortable. The rear seat backrest is 40:20:40 split, with each section folding down individually. This allows better space management for cargo loading and gives passengers a more configurable seating position for greater overall comfort.

Comfortable loading is also seen with low boot sill. Its luggage compartment height can be adjusted in 2 stages, thanks to a continuous luggage compartment floor console, it enables even better use of the available space.

MBUX: a new era of connectivity

Enjoying the solitude and sharing it with everyone at the same time is possible with modern connectivity services. It is equipped with Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX). The MBUX multimedia system comes with 7-inch instrument and media display and has its own intelligent voice assistant which is activated with the code word “Hey Mercedes”.

Smartphones can be connected as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, and the system supports the major applications and selected apps including navigation.

Another highlight is the comprehensive touch operation concept – the combination of a touchscreen, touchpad on the center console and touch control buttons in the steering wheel. In addition to the intuitive operating experience, less driver distraction is another advantage.

Impressive Performance

The GLA is always ready for what’s around the corner. From a tight corner of the city, to a tight corner of a back road, the new GLA is agile and easy to maneuver. Turbo power and a solid stance make it quick on its feet and confident in your hands.

The GLA 200 AMG Line only has one engine option, although it has enough power for daily commuting or longer excursions. The turbocharged 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine produces 163 horsepower and 250 Nm of torque. It comes paired with a 7G dual-clutch automatic transmission with cruise control and standard with front-wheel drive. With DYNAMIC SELECT, one console control calls up a range of performance profiles such as ”ECO”, “Comfort”, “Sport”, and Individual.

It also has ECO Start/Stop system that automatically shuts off the engine when you’re at stoplights or idling. This system helps save on fuel and reduces emissions. Once you lift your foot off the brake, the engine starts back up immediately. However, if you don’t want to use this feature, you can easily disable it.

GLA Safety: feel at ease

The new GLA makes a further step in terms of safety courtesy of its driving assistance systems with cooperative driver support. Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Drive combines safety and convenience innovations. With these intelligent systems, Mercedes-Benz is not only setting standards in automotive engineering, but is also taking another important step forward on the road to accident-free driving. This therefore allows the driver to experience a new dimension of safety, convenience and stress relief.

The GLA is able to react when the driver doesn’t. Active Brake Assist is charged in many situations with applying autonomous braking to avoid a collision or to reduce its severity. The ATTENTION ASSIST with adjustable sensitivity can warn the driver on detecting the typical signs of inattentiveness or drowsiness.

Moreover, the GLA 200 AMG Line is loaded with Light and Sight Package that provides added interior value appeal and optimum visibility in the vehicle. It comprises functional comfort- and safety-enhancing lighting. Parking is made easy with Parking Package consists of Active Parking Assist with reversing camera, providing support when parking and maneuvering. Tire Pressure Loss Warning System monitors the inflation pressure of all four tires while driving.

Pricing and availability

The new GLA is now available at all Mercedes-Benz dealerships. Introductory SRP is PhP 3,290,000 (US$ 67, 874).


This is a press release from Mercedes-Benz Philippines

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