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    Thread: The 5 greatest failures in car tech

    1. 07-18-2012 03:34 PM #1
      http://mashable.com/2012/07/18/great...ar-technology/

      The 5 Greatest Failures in Car Tech

      The 100-plus-year history of the automobile is checkered with failed technologies. Some of these features and functions are so bad that car manufacturers would rather you not recall them at all.

      To suss out the most spectacular tech mistakes of yesteryear, we spoke to car experts about their all-time favorites. The five biggest offenders have one thing in common: Car makers simply don’t make them like this anymore and for good reason.

      1. The First Talking Car

      While today’s navigation systems routinely bark directions at us, the first “talking” cars actually came out more than 20 years ago. The problem: 1980s technology limited these commands — which were stored and played using a miniature record and turntable — to an extremely small stash of pre-recorded messages.

      “It started with the 1981 Datsun 810 Maxima, which had six phrases, including such hits as ‘Lights Are On’ and ‘Door is Open’,” says Popular Mechanics senior tech editor, Glenn Derene. “I remember shopping for a vehicle with my dad in the early ’80s when we checked out the Maxima. The first time you hear the car talk, it’s a fascinating piece of technology, but by the second time, it’s already annoying. We bought a Toyota.”

      But Datsun wasn’t alone in this misstep. Chrysler and Ford had their own version of the talking car. In 1983, a Chrysler spokesperson even told a reporter at the Modesto Bee that user reviews of the feature were mixed at best. “Quite frankly, it’s 50-50. Some people love and some hate it,” he said. “That’s why we came up with the cutoff switch.”

      We’d love to blame Knight Rider for this tech flop, but the show didn’t air until 1982.

      2. The Nuclear-Powered Car

      In 1958, Ford released a concept for a strange little vehicle called the Nucleon. Instead of an internal-combustion engine, the vehicle was supposed to be powered on a small nuclear reactor stashed in the rear. As Sid Ramnarace, a legendary former Ford designer who now designs products for the kitchenware company Savora put it: “What could go wrong there?” We can think of a few things.

      These days, gamers may recognize the Nucleon as the inspiration for many of the cars in the Fallout game series’ post-apocalyptic Cityscapes.

      3. The Automatic Shoulder Belt

      Remember those seat belts that would automatically close on you (and your windpipe) when the door shut? Yeah, we’ve tried to block them out as well. “One of the worst technologies ever was the ‘automatic shoulder belt’, which, in some cases, had a negative effect,” says Dan Bedore, Nissan’s director of communications. “People who normally used their safety belts had to have a redundant, expensive, and awkward system. And some people didn’t bother to fasten the manual lap belt because they were given a false sense of security. The basic safety belt is the most important and effective safety technology in a vehicle. For a few years, in a few applications, it became a Rube Goldberg machine.”

      The first consumer car to feature an automatic seat belt was the 1975 Volkswagon Rabbit, and the first one to have it as a standard feature was the 1981 Toyota Cressida. But the real surge came around 1990, when auto manufacturers were required to give all their cars either automatic seat belts or more-expensive driver’s-side airbags. In 1995, airbags became mandatory, and the silly robotic seat belt pretty much disappeared overnight.

      4. The Turbine-Powered Car

      How many times have you looked at an airplane and thought: ‘I wish my car had a jet engine in it?’ Somebody at Chrysler thought the same thing because in 1962, the company released the Chrysler Turbine. It was the first (and only) gas-turbine-powered production car.

      “Turbine power was unequivocally cooler than conventional internal combustion engines,” says Basem Wasef, an auto writer and author of Legendary Race Cars. “It idled at 22,000 rpm, sounded like a jet engine, had one fifth the moving parts as a traditional piston power plant, and required no warm-up time.”

      But the tech didn’t catch on. Chrysler produced just fifty five Turbines, which includes a set of five prototypes. Like the GM EV1 — an early attempt at mass-producing an electric car, — most were rounded up and destroyed. Today, just nine are known to exist in museums and private collections, and only three are thought to have operating engines. Predictably, they’re worth a fortune.

      5. The Air Grabber Hood

      The gimmick: Flip a switch on your 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner, and a hood scoop would rise up, complete with gnarly shark teeth painted on the side. “As a drag-racing intimidation tactic, I think it was pretty cool. I can imagine if you saw a Plymouth with the Air Grabber raised, you knew the guy next to you had a serious motor,” says Ben Stewart, Popular Mechanics’ West coast editor.

      But as fast and furious as the Air Grabber hood may have been, it simply never caught on. “It was probably a victim of the early ’70s oil crisis,” Stewart adds. “Muscle cars became strangled by the new emissions equipment and automakers couldn’t make cars clean and quick like they do today. The tech just wasn’t there yet. So as these cars became defanged the Air Grabber disappeared.”
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      07-18-2012 03:37 PM #2
      Thank you Nucleon, you helped influence Fallout 3! Also, thank you Air Grabber hood, you made bugs and birds avoid Plymouths!
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      07-18-2012 03:46 PM #3
      GENTLEMEN BEHOLD!!






      Wasn't quite ready for prime time.
      Remember take hold of your time here
      Give some meanings to the means to your end

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      07-18-2012 03:47 PM #4

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      07-18-2012 03:50 PM #5
      Quote Originally Posted by alfafan View Post
      GENTLEMEN BEHOLD!!



      Wasn't quite ready for prime time.
      8-6-4 should have replaced the Nucleon. I mean, it was just a concept, and I don't think any actual work was put towards it, while 8-6-4 was in production, but just a decade too early.

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      07-18-2012 03:52 PM #6
      Relevance!

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      07-18-2012 03:55 PM #7
      Quote Originally Posted by djsheijkdfj View Post
      I'm n o t very smart. What are we looking at here?
      Remember take hold of your time here
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      07-18-2012 04:06 PM #8
      Quote Originally Posted by alfafan View Post
      I'm n o t very smart. What are we looking at here?
      From the youtube link: "Volvo c60 automatic braking test fails miserably. Epic brake and press pr fail!"
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      07-18-2012 04:11 PM #9
      I also vote for illuminated gauges 100% of the time.

      Never have we seen so many people driving at night without turning on their lights.

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      07-18-2012 04:17 PM #10
      Quote Originally Posted by McBanagon View Post
      I also vote for illuminated gauges 100% of the time.

      Never have we seen so many people driving at night without turning on their lights.
      I vote for this as well. I am always apalled at people who drive around without headlights on at night.

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      07-18-2012 04:20 PM #11
      I stopped reading at "Volkswagon".
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      07-18-2012 04:21 PM #12
      Quote Originally Posted by alfafan View Post
      I'm n o t very smart. What are we looking at here?
      I believe volvo was attempting to showcase a new system that would detect an imminent crash and apply brakes for you before you rear ended the semi. It failed in that test.

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      07-18-2012 04:24 PM #13
      Quote Originally Posted by alfafan View Post
      I'm n o t very smart. What are we looking at here?
      Volvo developed an automatic braking system, and gathered the press for an event to show it off. As you can see, it didn't exactly work as intended.

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      07-18-2012 05:43 PM #14
      Quote Originally Posted by djsheijkdfj View Post
      Volvo developed an automatic braking system, and gathered the press for an event to show it off. As you can see, it didn't exactly work as intended.
      Funny how they never seem to work in any press demonstrations.

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      07-18-2012 05:48 PM #15
      I consider this a success.


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      07-18-2012 05:53 PM #16
      In for later, and also: Wasn't the S60 fail was due to a previously flat battery - juicing it up again without resetting the system caused this? Still stupid obviously, but all in all, in the worst case scenario, these cars perform as normal cars.

      And that air grabber is just, neat.

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      07-18-2012 06:29 PM #17
      Quote Originally Posted by alfafan View Post
      GENTLEMEN BEHOLD!!






      Wasn't quite ready for prime time.
      Thank you for ATHF reference

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      07-18-2012 06:49 PM #18
      Quote Originally Posted by TurboMinivan View Post

      1. The First Talking Car

      While today’s navigation systems routinely bark directions at us, the first “talking” cars actually came out more than 20 years ago. The problem: 1980s technology limited these commands — which were stored and played using a miniature record and turntable — to an extremely small stash of pre-recorded messages.

      “It started with the 1981 Datsun 810 Maxima, which had six phrases, including such hits as ‘Lights Are On’ and ‘Door is Open’,” says Popular Mechanics senior tech editor, Glenn Derene. “I remember shopping for a vehicle with my dad in the early ’80s when we checked out the Maxima. The first time you hear the car talk, it’s a fascinating piece of technology, but by the second time, it’s already annoying. We bought a Toyota.”

      But Datsun wasn’t alone in this misstep. Chrysler and Ford had their own version of the talking car. In 1983, a Chrysler spokesperson even told a reporter at the Modesto Bee that user reviews of the feature were mixed at best. “Quite frankly, it’s 50-50. Some people love and some hate it,” he said. “That’s why we came up with the cutoff switch.”

      We’d love to blame Knight Rider for this tech flop, but the show didn’t air until 1982.
      Hahaha, I learned how to drive in my parent's 1984 Maxima and got quite acquainted with that friendly voice reminder. It could give you six warnings, "Left door is open," "Right door is open," "Parking brake is on," "Fuel level is low," "Keys in the ignition," and "Lights are on."
      Luckily, there was a "off" switch it you got annoyed from it.

      I thought it was quite novel in its time.

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      07-18-2012 07:20 PM #19
      Quote Originally Posted by 8v_gti777 View Post
      I consider this a success.

      Holy crap. I would totally replace that orange thing with a peeking Pedobear.

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      07-18-2012 07:36 PM #20
      Quote Originally Posted by choochoo View Post
      Hahaha, I learned how to drive in my parent's 1984 Maxima and got quite acquainted with that friendly voice reminder. It could give you six warnings, "Left door is open," "Right door is open," "Parking brake is on," "Fuel level is low," "Keys in the ignition," and "Lights are on."
      Luckily, there was a "off" switch it you got annoyed from it.

      I thought it was quite novel in its time.
      How funny; my first car was a 1983 Maxima, also in brown with the same wheels as the picture above. It was a funny car because it was a hand-me-down from my parents who also had no money. Basically all the money I made from my first year of working seemed to go into the car. This was well before the internet and I knew nothing about cars at the time. I remember doing the math once and realizing the car only got 12mpg. Not surprisingly when I took it in for service it turned out to have major fuel problems. Another $600 later and it had all kinds of new stuff and got 18-20mpg. To this day I still have no idea what failed so spectacularly that I could get 12mpg and still have a car that ran and drove roughly like a normal car. The voicebox on the car was broken by the time the car got to me, but I do remember it from years earlier when my parents first got the car. The downside of the broken voicebox is that if you left your headlights on and switched the car off, now there was NO warning that your lights were on. I think I had to get at least 3 jumpstarts with that car after coming out to a dead battery when driving somewhere early in the morning (headlights on when leaving the house, but light enough at the destination to not realize the lights were on).

    21. 07-18-2012 07:53 PM #21
      Cadillac's attempt to take on Japan with the introduction of the Cimarron in 1982. Nearly took the brand under.

      Oh, and I gotta throw in the Olds V8 FWD Buick Riviera/Cadillac Eldorado. I had an '82 Rivie, the weirdest platform I've ever owned.

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      07-18-2012 08:02 PM #22
      Let's not forget hybrid engines based upon currently existing motors.

      They tend to cost a fortune, weigh a ton, and only get 10-15% better mileage.

      "Ground-up" hybrids like the Prius and Volt are great. But particularly some of those old mid-2000's "hybrid" SUVs were terrible.
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    23. 07-18-2012 08:13 PM #23
      That air grabber is badass. But unless there is some benefit to [I]not[I] having it up, then I guess it is kinda pointless.

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      07-18-2012 08:14 PM #24
      I wonder if the CVT will eventually be put on such a list......
      (expensive time bombs tend to be that way)
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      07-18-2012 08:49 PM #25
      what was the Northstar system and what happened to it?


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      07-18-2012 09:06 PM #27
      Quote Originally Posted by TurboMinivan View Post
      3. The Automatic Shoulder Belt
      DIE IN A ****ING FIRE!!! Had it in my '92 Sentra. I wear my seat belt religiously, but this only caused me to forget to put my lap belt on.
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      07-18-2012 09:21 PM #28
      The door is a jar!

    28. 07-18-2012 09:23 PM #29
      Quote Originally Posted by Bonanza View Post
      That air grabber is badass.
      Indeed.

      Quote Originally Posted by Bonanza View Post
      But unless there is some benefit to not having it up, then I guess it is kinda pointless.
      Reasons to close it could include:

      1) Allow onlookers to watch in awe the next time you open it
      2) Stealth
      3) Prevent rain from entering the engine
      4) Minimize intake roar when you're in the mood for quiet motoring
      5) Reduce the number of low-flying birds and/or small land animals that the car inhales

      I'm sure there are more.
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      07-18-2012 09:42 PM #30

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      07-18-2012 10:10 PM #31


      nuclear powered car

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      07-18-2012 10:31 PM #32
      Failures? Those are failures? Sure, some of them are misguided, virtually unusable or annoying, but if it's a failure you're looking for, take a looksee at the copper cooled Chevrolet of 1923. Chevy planned on manufacturing 50,000 a month. 759 were produced, 239 were scrapped before leaving the factory, 150 were used by Chevy reps, 300 made it to the dealers and 100 were actually sold. All were recalled.

      That is failure.

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      07-18-2012 10:42 PM #33
      Quote Originally Posted by mcbanagon View Post
      i also vote for illuminated gauges 100% of the time.

      Never have we seen so many people driving at night without turning on their lights.
      huge pet peave

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      07-18-2012 10:58 PM #34
      Quote Originally Posted by 8v_gti777 View Post
      I consider this a success.

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    34. 07-18-2012 11:19 PM #35
      Quote Originally Posted by warren_s View Post
      The door is a jar!

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