AUTOLINE ON AUTOBLOG: What Went Down at the Chrysler Christmas Party

December 20th, 2007 at 12:27pm

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I’ve always loved live theater. The more dramatic the better. And last week I was treated to one of the most enthralling performances I’ve ever seen. It was officially called The 2007 Chrysler Holiday Media Party.

First, the backdrop to the plot. . .

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3M at the Fair: Just You Weight

December 19th, 2007 at 2:44pm

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What’s worse than a car with shaking, unbalanced wheels? A lot, but the noises and vibrations associated with unbalanced wheels can quickly turn a pleasant Sunday drive into a rush-hour commute.

Luckily the 3M Company has developed an all-new way of balancing wheels. Rather than using individual stick-on or clip-on weights, the 3M Wheel Weight System uses a roll of material that gets trimmed to the correct weight and then stuck to the rim. This quickens and simplifies the process of wheel balancing. Best of all, the system is lead free — with less heavy metal than a Yanni concert or a serving of swordfish, so it’s better for you and the environment.

The Next Ten

December 18th, 2007 at 1:39pm

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We’re getting ready for the next decade of Autoline and many of our viewers are wondering what we have planned. Well for starters we have the usual lineup of great topics, terrific interviews as well as — and here’s the new part — a brand new set to unveil. So it should be an exciting year. For more information on Autoline 2008, please take a look at this video blog we’ve put together.

Brazil and the Energy of Tomorrow

December 14th, 2007 at 5:57pm

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I sat down with Lou Ann Hammond, publisher of to discuss the latest energy-related news coming out of Brazil. The South American country has virtually eliminated oil imports as they’ve built their entire economy on home-grown ethanol — thanks in no small part to a tropical climate that’s as conducive to sugar cane plantations as it is to Carnaval.

AUTOLINE ON AUTOBLOG: When the Oil Bubble Breaks

December 14th, 2007 at 3:22pm

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In 1995, way back in the days of print, I was doing research for the 100th anniversary of a magazine called Automotive Industries. It actually started out in 1895 as a magazine called The Horseless Age, a much more romantic name for a publication, don’t you think? It was fascinating to go through all of the back issues and watch how the auto industry evolved literally each time I turned a page.

In the course of my research I started to notice . . .

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3M at the Fair: The Next Generation of Automotive Innovation

December 12th, 2007 at 5:25pm

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Surely you’ve heard of the 3M Company. They’re famous for their plaid-packaged Scotch Tape, but they dabble in much more than just sticky film. They make all kinds of stuff ranging from furnace filters to dental adhesive, even automotive products like car wax and body repair putty.

More surprisingly, 3M is pioneering some intriguing automotive technologies. In fact, Autoline Detroit was invited to attend a 3M Innovation Fair, where they showed off much of their diverse product portfolio. Here’s a snippet of what may be on the not-too-distant automotive horizon.

Video after the jump …

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AUTOLINE ON AUTOBLOG: GM’s Breakthrough in Smart Materials

December 7th, 2007 at 1:21pm

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I first came across what they call “smart materials” back in the early 1980s. It was at the SAE show and a company called Raychem was exhibiting how it used this technology to make spark plug wires for Formula One cars.

Turns out F1 cars would vibrate the wires right off the plugs. So Raychem came up with. . .

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HCCI Can’t Believe It’s Not a Diesel!

December 7th, 2007 at 11:41am

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GM recently announced a powertrain breakthrough. They’ve figured out how to trick a gasoline engine into acting a little bit like a diesel by using something called homogenous charge compression ignition.

In the century since Rudolph Diesel developed it, diesel engines have always gotten a bad rap since they’re noticeable examples of environmental hostility; everyone can see garbage trucks and tractor trailers spewing acrid, black smoke form their exhaust stacks. But diesels do have their benefits, namely greater efficiency. Using HCCI, GM engineers have cherry picked the best diesel virtues and combined them with the advantages of a gasoline engine. Rudy would be proud.

Civic (Heavy) Duty

December 6th, 2007 at 3:25pm

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In America, the Honda Civic is known for reliability and fuel economy, and it’s no different across the pond, except Honda offers Europeans more stylish designs and diesel engines.

Recently I had the opportunity to test drive a diesel-powered, five door, Euro-spec Civic for an entire week. And while that may not sound very exciting, the car was a blast to drive. With an oil-burning heart, that little Civic pulled like a Freightliner and probably had the enough torque to move Mt. Fuji, but best of all, it managed to deliver some eye-opening fuel economy numbers.