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Car chat
DaimlerChrysler is working on a system that encourages cars to share information on the condition of local roads. The plan is for electronic sensors to be fitted to each vehicle to collect information on bad bends and slippery roads, for example, and then send this information to a roadside receiver, which in turn broadcasts a warning to other cars as they approach the area.
Beauty spots
If you feel in the mood for a weekend drive, it seems that WA is home to two of Australia's prettiest towns, according to Australian Traveller Magazine. Top of the beauty spots was Fremantle, followed by Hahndorf in South Australia, and in third place Margaret River. The list didn't include capital cities, but went on to mention Beechworth in Victoria, Port Douglas in Queensland, Tanunda in South Australia, the NSW north coast town of Byron Bay and three spots in Tasmania - Stanley, Strahan and Ross.
Grave error
Rolls-Royce recently relaunched its brand in India amid much fanfare, but unfortunately the organisers chose the wrong colour for the first Phantom to return to Indian streets after a 50-year absence - black. It appears that the only vehicles coloured black in India are hearses, and regular drivers steer well clear of the colour, preferring to drive something silver, white or grey.
Wwwacky website
No-one can deny that there are some cars on the road that only their creators could love and this website is not afraid to name and shame them. www.uglycars.co.uk lists what are described as 'the most hideous cars that have ever had the nerve to tread tarmac and each one is treated to an acerbic comment and a 'paper bag rating' from one bag to five, presumably not to be worn by the owner while driving. No car, however groundbreaking its design or technologically perfect its engine, gets away without criticism. The iconic Citroen DS is described as 'about as attractive as a slug-filled croissant' with a paper bag rating of five, while the modern SsangYong Daewoo Musso apparently has the appearance of a pregnant haddock on a bike and is given a paper bag rating of three. Good for a laugh, if only in the direction of your neighbour's driveway.
 
Volume 10.08 
August 2005 
Hello Welcome to this month's edition of Fleettorque, brought to you by Fleetcare, for independent fleet management and a great deal more.
 
In This Issue:
      Top tooters
  Hands-free still hazardous
  Jeep and cheerful
  Easy listening
  Wood you believe it?
   
  Top tooters
 
China is fast becoming a nation of car lovers, and noisy ones at that. Full of excitement after swapping their traditional pushbikes for the range of economical cars filling the crowded streets, the Chinese people are rather heavy handed when it comes to using their car horns.

In fact, horn manufacturers have been challenged to develop more durable beepers to cope with the amount of wear they receive at the hands of Chinese drivers. Horns on the Holden Statesman, which have been perfectly adequate for Australian drivers' needs, are no match for Chinese honking habits, and the company is now having to strengthen all those destined for China on its Chinese export version, known as the Buick Royaum.

Honking a horn in China is not necessarily a sign of anger or danger on the roads - Chinese motorists often beep for no apparent reason, although it can't be in protest at the cost of the cars, which are extraordinarily keenly priced. The large and aggressively-styled Great Wall Sing SUV (pictured) sells for just 85,000 yuan, or $13,400, including tax and a warranty and insurance for two years.
  Hands-free still hazardous
 
Drivers are four times more likely to crash when using mobile phones, even if they use hands-free kits, according to a new survey by safety campaigners.

Researchers examined the mobile phone bills of 456 drivers needing hospital treatment after road crashes, assessing phone use immediately before a crash and on trips at the same time of day 24 hours, three days, and seven days before the crash for comparison. Mobile phone use in the 10 minutes before a crash was associated with a four-fold increased likelihood of crashing, irrespective of whether the driver was using a hand-held or hands-free phone.
  Jeep and cheerful
 
Chrysler and Jeep are notching up record sales of their luxury four-wheel drive vehicles, having shifted no fewer than 673 in June, an increase of 13 per cent over last year, according to official industry VFACTS figures.

Sales of the Jeep Wrangler continued to be brisk and the brand's flagship vehicle, the Grand Cherokee, also outperformed last year's figures. Chrysler's top-seller was the PT Cruiser, with monthly sales up 48 per cent on last year.
  Easy listening
 
It now seems that you can cram as much entertainment into your car as you have at home - from the humble cd player to MP3s and dvds - the only problem is controlling them with all those little buttons. But it looks as if fiddly switches might be on the way out and this is the system set to replace them.

The Alpine GlideTouch incorporates all the controls for every in-car entertainment device - the driver simply slides a finger along the white bar under the screen until the required option is illuminated on the display and a quick tap confirms the choice.

The Glide-Touch will appear as an after-market accessory later this year, and become standard-fit on some models of car by 2008.
  Wood you believe it?
 
This may look like a museum piece, but under the lovingly crafted wooden exterior is no less than a thoroughly modern Apple iPod.

In contrast to the white plastic exterior of the bog-standard contemporary classic, one individual gadget modder has fashioned this iPod cover from elegant polished wood, right down to the click wheel to make this a truly individual piece of state-of-the-art entertainment.

 
 
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