BYTON unveils electric intelligent SUV concept

It interacts with pedestrians!



2018 is all about artificial intelligence. We’ve seen smartphones backed by AI, and now, we’re slowly feeling their presence in cars.

China-based company BYTON took the wraps off of their new electric SUV at CES 2018. Considered as a new-generation smart device, the BYTON Concept aims to blur the line between automotive and digital industries.

This intelligent SUV concept communicates with users and pedestrians through its grille. The company calls it Smart Surfaces which consists of LED lights running throughout the panel. It’s still unclear how one can interpret the meaning, but it uses connecting lines and dots that switch between different display modes to interact.

Invisible door handles are the way to go since the electric vehicle uses face recognition cameras to unlock the doors automatically. Not only that, it remembers driver and passenger information to auto-adjust seat angles, entertainment options, and other settings according to user preferences and usage.

Additionally, traditional side mirrors are now replaced with side-view cameras.

Peeking inside through the panoramic sunroof, the interior is set up with a wooden floor, leather seats, and the most eye-catching piece: a 49 x 9.8-inch Shared Experience Display.

This stretched-out monitor replaces the central console of today’s cars. It also supports video and phone conference with advanced machine learning that studies your calendar, locations, and hobbies to provide customized advice on a day’s agenda, for example.

Its platform recognizes voice commands through Alexa Voice plus hand gestures for specific commands.

The BYTON Concept will be available in rear-wheel and four-wheel drive models. Power-wise, the RWD variant will get a 71kWh battery pack that can last for approximately 400km according to the company, while the more expensive 4WD model will be equipped with a 95kWh battery that could run for about 520km. BYTON claims that it can charge its battery from zero to 80 percent in 30 minutes.

This premium smart electric SUV starts at US$ 45,000 and will launch initially in China towards the end of 2019 with the US and Europe slated for a 2020 release.


A Father’s Day Drive Up North

Story time!



We recently got the Ranger Raptor for the second time to use at this year’s STV ARCC and represent Ford Philippines. And since we had a free day before the event itself happened, I decided to use it and take out my dad along with my brother for a road trip. Good thing Mom had an errand to do that day!

Dad wanted to visit a certain theme park restaurant north of Metro Manila so I agreed and went for it. We already brought the Raptor to a 4×4 route for some off-road action, so now we go for long, paved roads with hungry stomachs.

That’s Dad, my brother Kiefer, and me on the road

After four hours of driving from the south, past the traffic metro, and all the way up north, we reached our destination. The place is called Isdaan Floating Restaurant and it’s at the municipality of Talavera in Nueva Ecija in the Philippines. “Isdaan,” when translated, means “fishery” so it already paints you a picture of what to expect. The restaurant is hard to miss as it has a wide, inviting facade fronted with sculptures.

The staff greeted us with a warm welcome and led us to our private floating nipa hut with koi fish swimming around and under us. Looking at the menu, there were lots of choices from appetizers, meat, seafood obviously, and even specialties that you don’t usually see in city restaurants.

“Guarding” the floating nipa huts

We got Bicol Express (spicy stew), Sinigang na Liempo (pork belly soup), and Binukadkad na Plapla (butterflied fish) from the menu. One of their signatures is a Boat Special. Basically, they offer select dishes in a long sizzling plate mounted on a wooden counter-top that resembles a boat. This was how Bicol Express was served which greatly added to the presentation value.

Food was really great especially the soup. While the service wasn’t too snappy and could definitely be improved, the food compensated for it. It has that home-cooked taste that hits the spot after a long drive.

After eating, we decided to walk around the area and check out the theme park side of the place. There were giant statues everywhere — from the Charging Bull similar to New York’s, Big Buddha of Phuket, and even prehistoric dinosaurs. It does make for great photo opportunities as you’ll see in the following photos.

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Apart from the gigantic and humorous characters, another attraction to find here is a corner to vent out all your pent-up emotions. For a reasonable price, you can choose objects like those plates or coffee mugs that you can smash onto the wall. If you ask me, I feel it’s a bit out of place in this family-friendly restaurant but it still does make the place unique.

Those are all fun but what usually entices people to visit this place is the fact that you can dip your feet in this shallow pond and have large koi fish swimming in between your legs. It might sound weird and it’s probably not for everyone, but the novelty of being able to do it was actually fun.

These koi quickly gather around you as you go near the water

Caught this little guy trying to nibble on his watch

Can’t leave the place without this obligatory shot!

After all the photos were taken and a few minor mishaps (one of us slipping trying to get in with the fish, not telling who), we were ready to go back home. It was another four hours inside the Raptor and we ended up exchanging stories and laughing our way through the expressways while the truck was mostly on cruise control. It was definitely a trip to remember.

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Mazda Smartphone Mirroring Upgrade Kit now available

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible



Both Waze and Google Maps are proven navigation apps. This is why vehicles that support Android Auto and Apple Carplay — mirroring smartphone functionalities — are pretty much preferred these days over built-in navigation systems in the car.

Mazda in the Philippines is one of the latest to adapt in integrating smartphone mirroring to its Mazda Connect infotainment system. Through a hardware upgrade kit, your favorite apps like Waze and Spotify are now easier and safer to access while driving.

The upgrade kit can be retrofitted to Mazda vehicles all the way back from 2014 onwards as long as it has a Mazda Connect system. Aside from the new system module, the kit includes higher-capacity USB ports that can not only accommodate smartphone charging, but also transfer data for displaying relevant information on the touchscreen.

An official software update also comes with the kit for seamless communication between the smartphone and onboard system.

The Mazda smartphone mirroring upgrade kit may be purchased for PhP 17,500 plus VAT at all 21 official Mazda dealerships in the country. The price includes installation by trained Mazda technicians to ensure proper fit and integration and comes with a one-year warranty for the newly installed hardware.

ALSO READ: Mazda 6: Not your ordinary mid-size sedan

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Michelin’s new tires are airless

No more punctured tires



A flat tire on your way to an important meeting is never fun.

This is one of the things Michelin is set out to remedy with the announcement of its new tires. Called UPTIS (Unique Puncture-proof Tire System), the airless technology will allow you to run over nails and still carry on like nothing happened. Not only that, its design and durability should also lessen regular maintenance making it a safer alternative to the pressurized tires we use today.

What the company did was use flexible rubber composites with proprietary fiberglass resin instead of the traditional air-filled interior. This way, the composites bend to absorb bumps on the road.

Although saying goodbye to patching punctured tires is already a feat in itself, Michelin is thinking bigger. It is estimated that about 200 million tires are disposed of annually due to punctures and wear. That’s a lot of scrapped tires with almost no use. To help pull down these numbers, Michelin aims to make UPTIS last longer through design and materials used. And speaking of materials, the company went with a sustainable approach — sourcing renewable materials for production. This way, it will require fewer materials to produce the tires.

The French company plans to introduce UPTIS commercially as early as 2024 and has already teamed up with General Motors to test this new technology. A fleet of Chevrolet Bolt EVs will be fitted with the new tires and will be used to conduct real-world tests.

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