Top Automotive News & Stories: August 13-19

Each week we compile the best announcements and developments from the world of cars. Here are the topics you can’t miss from August 11 through August 17.

Audi to Release Green-Light Countdown Feature

Audi Virtual Cockpit
Image: Audi

Don’t you hate sitting at a red light, wondering when it will change? New Audi models will help alleviate that stress with a traffic light information system that has a countdown for when a light will turn green.

Available on certain 2017 Audi models, the system uses a built-in LTE wireless connection to gather information on the status of traffic signals, then displays a countdown for when the light will go green. However, this system will only work in certain U.S. cities that use “smart” traffic signals.

While positioned as a driver convenience feature for now, Audi envisions that this technology could help reduce traffic congestion and improve fuel economy. This is only one of the ways connected cars will change the way we drive.

For additional information, head to Popular Mechanics.

Volkswagens at Risk of Security Hacking

Volkswagen Security Hack
Image: Volkswagen

As if the Dieselgate scandal hadn’t landed Volkswagen in enough trouble, a new study is further increasing their woes. The study, conducted by researchers at University of Birmingham, reveals that nearly every Volkswagen vehicle sold since 1995 is vulnerable to security hacking.

The hack works by intercepting the signals sent when a driver pushes buttons on their key fob. A hacker could store this signal’s supposedly secret code on equipment which can imitate the key fob. The result is that a hacker could use these imitation signals to unlock doors or start the engine - bad news for anything you want to keep safely inside your car.

This doesn’t look good for Volkswagen, especially considering that they chose to use only four unique codes on tens of millions of their vehicles. What’s more, the supplier behind the components which control these wireless functions has recommended for years that Volkswagen upgrade to newer, more secure codes. It seems Volkswagen was content with what they had, never thinking the vulnerabilities would be exposed.

Fortunately, from a practical perspective actually intercepting these signals is quite complicated, and the researchers aren’t revealing exactly how they cracked the code. Still, this is another reason for Volkswagen owners to question their trust in the brand – what will go wrong next?

For more details and the complete study, head to Wired.

Hot Honda Hatchbacks on the Horizon

Honda Civic Hatchback
Image: Honda

The Honda Civic Coupe and Sedan are already two of the most popular vehicles in America. Now, a new Hatchback bodystyle should propel sales even further, and give a preview for what to expect from upcoming sport-tuned versions.

While the Civic Coupe and Sedan have a sloping profile that looks like a hatchback, this new version is a legitimate five door with ample space for cargo. All Civic Hatchbacks will feature a turbocharged 1.5 liter four-cylinder that produces up to 180 horsepower. A continuously-variable automatic transmission will be what most buyers choose, but enthusiasts can rejoice at knowing that a six-speed manual transmission is available as well.

What’s more, Honda has confirmed that the Civic Hatchback will underpin the track-ready Type-R version, set to be released in 2017. Until then, the Civic Hatchback will give drivers a blend of practicality, reliability, and fuel economy, with a solid dose of fun mixed in.

Jalopnik has additional details and speculation.

BMW Recalls Top-Level Sports Cars

BMW M6 Convertible
Image: BMW

Don’t think that just because a car costs more it’s immune to recalls. BMW has recalled several hundred examples of its $100,000+ M5 and M6 sports cars to fix their driveshafts. Apparently, an improper weld can cause the driveshaft to break, resulting in a total loss of propulsion – obviously bad news if you’re trying to get anywhere.

While this recall only affects a handful of drivers, it’s an indication of the greater recall culture we live in today. Certainly it’s better if a manufacturer recalls a product they know is faulty, but it does cause concern for the everyday motorist who would be inconvenienced if their main mode of transportation got recalled.

The NHTSA reports on the recall.

Autonomous Fords by 2021

Self Driving Ford
Image: Ford

Self-driving car research is a bit of a free-for-all these days. Manufacturers are developing their own systems around government regulations which haven’t quite kept pace with autonomous technology advances. While no one can say for sure when self-driving cars will dominate our roads, Ford has made the bold claim that they will have an autonomous car – without pedals or a steering wheel – by 2021.

Ford is partnering with a range of technology partners to develop the complex algorithms, 3D maps, LiDAR, and various sensors needed to control this upcoming vehicle. Because it’s likely to be extremely expensive, the car probably won’t be offered to individual consumers, rather to transportation network companies or ridesharing services.

It’s amazing to think a car from a major manufacturer will do away with basic control features like a steering wheel or pedals. Considering this will be revealed within five years, one can’t help but wonder what cars will look like ten years from now.

Motor Trend has all the details.

Epic Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 Concept Revealed Online

Vision Mercedes-Maybach Front
Image: Carscoops

Mercedes-Benz has taken the wraps off its newest concept: the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6. Maybach (Mercedes-Benz’s ultra-luxury subsidiary) is no stranger to lavish opulence, and the brand pulled out all the stops in creating this stylish coupe.

The elegant two door stretches over 236 inches in length – a good 20 inches longer than its closest competitor, the already gargantuan Rolls-Royce Wraith. Razor-thin headlights and taillights compliment a huge chrome grille, and the concept is finished in ruby red paint with color-matched wheels.

Gullwing doors lift up to welcome the driver into a cabin wrapped in white leather. The interior is packed with technology like a 360-degree LCD display and windshield-width heads up display. A 750 horsepower electric drivetrain propels this massive machine, with a quick charging system that can add 60 miles of driving range in just five minutes of charging.

The Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 made its public debut at the glitzy Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, which began in Monterey, California on August 19. While only a concept for now, positive consumer reaction could motivate Maybach to put it into production.

See more photos at Carscoops.

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