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Oregon Start-Up and BMW Team Up on Traffic Light Car Feature

Thursday, August 13, 2015


BMW is bringing forth a new feature that has the potential to change the overall driving experience. A new aspect of driving that could save you time, gas and a fair bit of frustration.

BMW is working with an Oregon tech start-up, Connected Signals, to notify its drivers when an upcoming stoplight is about to go green or red or suggest the best speed to avoid a wait.

In multiple cities, stoplights are being linked up in a regional network. Stoplights operate in sequence and may even adjust their timing to improve traffic flow.

The concept is simple. Connected Signals, of Eugene, Oregon created the “EnLighten app”, to tap into those urban networks and determine when you're approaching a light using a smartphone's GPS feature. 

The system can then calculate whether the light is going to be red or green, and whether it's about to change colors.

“Everything is designed to ... make the drivers safer,” said Matt Ginsberg, founder and CEO of Connected Signals. “To help them be more fuel-efficient and help driving be less stressful.”

This attractive feature is already available for iOS and Android smartphones, but BMW is attempting to take it one step further. 

For Apple users, it has created a method of reading the app and then displaying it on the driver’s instrument panel. However, only cars equipped with the optional BMW Apps feature would be able to utilize the neat gadget.

A major test program recently was announced covering over 100 miles of freeway in metropolitan Detroit.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is considering whether to authorize linked car technology in the future. This would be considered a critical step in the evolution of the vehicles of tomorrow.


Related Slideshow: 8 New Cars & Trucks to See at the Portland International Auto Show

See the cars of the stars at the Portland International Auto Show Feb. 5-8 at the Oregon Convention Center. 

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Bugatti Veyron

The Bugatti Veyron is a supercar that is developed by the Volkswagen Group. Manufactured in France, the Veyron Super Sport is the Guinness World Records fastest street legal car with a top speed of just shy of 268 mph. The Veyron Roadster is also the fastest roadster with a top speed of 254 mph. The VW Group purchased the rights to the car and began to revive the brand. Starting with the Bugatti EB118, they presented at various international auto shows a total of four 18-cylinder concept cars. At $2.3 million dollar selling price, it’s likely one of the most expensive vehicles to be shown at the Portland Auto Show.  

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Volkswagen E Golf/TDI/Golf R

Volkswagen was a top award winner at the Detroit Auto Show for the family of Golf cars. The E Golf has a range of nearly 90 miles and affords the driver multiple modes so driving an electric vehicle doesn’t have to be just utilitarian. It is also a fun and practical car to drive. Unlike a most of the other electric vehicles, this is a real car. It’s the same platform and space as the regular Golf. VW will also show off the rest of the family too including the 45 mpg TDI. Fresh off the launch, VW will also have the brand new Golf R to show off to attendees. The R capitalizes on the motorsports history and reflects on the 2004 R32 Golf. VW said that racing is part of its DNA but this car is more than just fast. It offers the driver 4 different drive modes and is efficient, a great value and has amazing performance numbers. The little pocket rocket generates 292 horsepower gets 30 mpg and will sell for $35,500. 

Photo: VW E Golf

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2015 Dodge Charger

This full size sedan is a sports car/sedan for all ages. The completely redesigned Dodge has the great sporty look and performance to entice the younger driver while still providing all the easy of accessibility that older enthusiast will demand. The upscale interior and easy to use electronic interface are fantastic but overshadowed by what’s under the hood. With four different versions of the Charger, there is something for everyone. The R/T offers a very respectable 5.7 VS generating 370 hp which should be enough for most drivers. That being said, Dodge did provide a nice gift to the enthusiast with the SRT Hellcat generating over 700 hp and a governed top speed of 204 mph.   There is a not really any competition these days for a rear drive performance sedan.  Pricing on the Charger ranges from $29,000-$41,000. The Hellcat msrp is right at $65,000. 

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BMW i8

The most exciting and beautiful electric car (with full deference to the Tesla) is the new BMW i8. There are a few running around Portland. Last year, BMW freed up two of them for a Portland charity auction and they went for double of the list price of $136,000.  The i8 plug-in hybrid offers a turbocharged three-cylinder engine with a combined 357 hp with a top speed of 155 mph. It’s efficient as a Toyota Prius but has the performance one would expect from the company whose tagline is “The Ultimate Driving Machine”.  It all starts with scissor and gull wing doors that open to let everyone know that this is not just your average electric vehicle. This is definitely a car to not miss at this Portland Show. 

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Jeep Renegade

All new and recently introduced by Jeep, the Renegade is quickly going to become the industry leader in the subcompact SUV market that is expected to blow up over the next few years. The Renegade is all Jeep and surpasses its competition with real world Jeep capability. Most other vehicles like the Kia Soul are urban assault vehicles and not designed to handle what the Renegade can do. Featured in a Super Bowl ad, the Renegade gets an impressive 30 mpg and all the safety you would expect from the brand. Jeep has been on a roll this year up 40% over last year’s sales. It is set to hit the showrooms by March but is available to see at the show. 

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Chrysler 300

The new 2015 Chrysler 300 highlights six decades of ambitious American ingenuity through iconic design proportions inspired by historic 1955 and 2005 models – world-class quality, materials and refinement, best-in-class V-6 highway fuel economy, plus segment-exclusive innovations – all at the same $31,395 starting price as its predecessor. Besides the great value and performance and craftsmanship, it will offer 31 miles per gallon. It also includes a state-of-the-art TorqueFlite eight-speed transmission now standard on every model, the segment’s most advanced all-wheel drive (AWD) system, award-winning Uconnect Access services, all-new and segment-exclusive 7-inch full color driver information display (DID) and the newest generation Uconnect systems — putting boulevards and interstates on notice once again.

"Our new 2015 Chrysler 300 builds on its 60-year legacy of delivering world-class performance, elegance, sophistication, technology and craftsmanship - a combination that can only be found in our big, bold and proudly American rear-wheel-drive sedan," said Al Gardner, President and CEO of Chrysler. "Beyond its head-turning iconic proportions and even more commanding Chrysler front-end and grille, our new 300 is designed to reward hard-working individuals by delivering class-exclusive technologies, premium appointments and levels of quality of sedans costing thousands more."

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Volvo XC60 - 2015

Perfect and very popular in the Northwest is the Volvo, and the Swedish manufacture has a host of great new products including its best-selling model, the X60. In 2013 in got an urban twist and the car is now available with three engines from Volvo Cars’ all-new four-cylinder Drive-E engine family: The 306 hp petrol turbo T6, the 245 hp T5 and the turbo diesel D4 with 181 hp. A new 8-speed automatic gearbox contributes to a refined drive and excellent fuel economy.  The refined XC60 has a commanding driving position supported by generous ground clearance and the class-leading chassis. 

The XC60 is designed to feel every bit as nimble and agile as a standard height road car. Corner Traction Control comes as standard. This torque vectoring system helps the driver avoid understeer by applying just the right amount of brake force to the inner wheels while powering the outer wheels when accelerating out of a corner. With All Wheel Drive, the XC60 becomes an extremely capable vehicle on any road, in any kind of weather. The optional Hill Descent Control boosts this capability by automatically controlling the car's speed when driving down steep slopes. 

Of course, what is a Volvo if you don’t talk safety? New advanced software, including more rapid vision processing, has made it possible to extend Volvo Cars' present detection and auto brake technology to cover certain cyclist situations as well. The Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection with full auto brake is equipped with an advanced sensor system that scans the area ahead. If a cyclist heading in the same direction as the car suddenly swerves out in front of the car as it approaches from behind and collision is imminent, there is an instant warning and full braking power is applied.  The technology also detects if a pedestrian steps out into the road in front of the car. If the driver does not respond in time, the car can warn and automatically activate the brakes.  The XC60 also offers the enhanced Blind Sport Information System (BLIS), which is radar-based. The technology can now also monitor and alert the driver to rapidly approaching vehicles up to 70 m behind the car. Of course it still informs the driver about vehicles in the blind spots on both sides.

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2015 Toyota Camry

The chance to win a new Toyota Camry is worth going to the show even if you don’t need to see anything else.  For 12 consecutive years, and 16 of the past 17, the Toyota Camry mid-size sedan has worn the crown of “best-selling car in America.” One creates such a juggernaut by never resting on its laurels and the new 2015 Camry is a prime example of this philosophy. The 2015 Camry is available in four models, the value-driven LE, the sporty SE, the new XSE and the premium XLE.  The new XSE builds on the success of the SE with an edgier look, enthusiastic driving dynamics and luxurious amenities, making it the sportiest Camry yet.

All Camry gas models will be powered by the standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine producing 178 horsepower and 170 lb.-ft. of peak torque.  It’s teamed with a standard six-speed automatic transmission with the combination offering EPA-estimated 25 MPG city/ 35 MPG highway/ 28 MPG combined fuel economy.  The XSE and XLE will also offer a 3.5-liter V6 with the six-speed automatic, generating 268 horsepower. 

All 2015 Camry models will come standard with best-in-class 10 airbags.  Like all current Toyota vehicles, the 2015 Camry comes standard with the STAR Safety System, which includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist. It also features the Smart Stop Technology brake-override system.

The 2015 Camry also offers advanced safety features including Pre-Collision System, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Auto High Beam, and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert. 


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