Sunday, 31 May 2015

Offensive Car Names: Is It Really a Problem?

We all remember Shakespeare’s Juliet asking Romeo “What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” but when it comes to auto brands and car names it is a completely different story! Over the last few decades car makers have been criticised for offensive car names, mocked for translation errors and forced into boring naming conventions. But is it really something that car makers should be that worried about?

As you can expect, large car makers spend millions each year coming up with names that are supposed to evoke passions and emotions in us, driving us (excuse the pun) to want to buy that particular car. The more memorable the branding the more likely you are to buy to – getting a brand to be a household name is the holy grail of branding. And yet, even with all this emphasis on branding there are still countless names that make you cringe. Take for example the Jeep Cherokee. For most people in South Africa, this is just a harmless name, but for the Cherokee nation in North America, having a vehicle named after them without consultation can be offensive and yet this happened to with the Pontiac Aztek, the Jeep Comanche and the Mazda Navajo. Imagine what would happen if an automaker brought out a vehicle named the ‘Xhosa’ or ‘Afrikaner’?

Other times the name becomes silly, offensive or rude due to unforeseen translation problems. The Audi E-tron is a beautiful car, but if you spoke French you’d probably read it as the Audi ├ętron which translates to ‘shit’ in English. The same goes for the Mazda Laputa (Spanish for ‘the whore’), Nissan Moco (Spanish for ‘snot’) and the Mitsubishi Pajero (Spanish for ‘wanker’).  Here in SA we seem to have missed the majority of translation errors with the closest being the Range Rover Evoque, which with the right Afrikaner accent and determination could come out as the ‘e-fok’ or the Volkswagen Amarok which turns into ‘I’m-a-rock’ which could give Afrikaners second thoughts.

To combat these faux pas many car brands are shifting towards names that are numerical or are neologisms. Think about the Hyundai range of i-vehicles such as the Hyundai i10, Hyundai i20 etc, BMW’s entire range as well as Mercedes’. Of course this isn’t proof against incident. Take the Toyota MR2 for example – pronounced in French it comes out as ‘merde’ or ‘shit’, the BMW 530d (read it upside down and back to front) or the Hyundai ix35 which when read backwards is supposed to read ‘sexi’ (which might not be offensive but is close). Other brands opt for neologisms such as the impossible-to-spell-right-on-the-first-try Nissan Qashqai, or the Hyundai Veloster.

The sad thing is that as much as I like neologisms when it comes to branding, there are so many car names and brandings that have become so ingrained with the brand that I forget that it could cause offense. And you know what? I’m finding it harder to care anymore when somebody points out that if you added three numbers to Clarkson’s licence plate and divided it by pi it almost equals the approximate number of people who stubbed their toes in the Falklands war. Names and numbers have history yes, but they also have the have the ability to shape new meanings. When I think about the Jeep Cherokee, I’m not thinking about the Native American Indian Nation. I’m thinking about how great it is for soft off-roading, and when I think about the Ford Escort, I’m not thinking about Harrison Ford with prostitutes but rather it being my friend’s first car and all the fun we had with it.

So yes, names have value and sometimes the meanings get lost in translation, and if you really want to be offended by them chances are that you will find a way, but maybe the more important meanings are the ones we give to them going forward? Now if you excuse me I’m going to try and persuade somebody to get working on the tongue-twistingly awesome Isuzu Zulu SUV.

Written by K C Myer
As published on:

Friday, 1 May 2015

Hyundai gears up for first mass production of fuel cell zero emission vehicles

Group 1 Hyundai is pleased to report that Hyundai is the first automaker to begin assembly line production of a fuel cell car. They have planned to produce 1,000 cars for the first run. Despite being a small number this means that they have the production lines in place to benefit from economies of scale and make an affordable hydrogen-fuelled fuel cell vehicle a reality in the foreseeable future. Following suite, Toyota will begin assembly line production at the end of this year, and Honda in 2015.
Copenhagen and California have been early adopters of Hyundai’s fuel cell vehicles, which are repurposed ix35s (called Tucson in the USA). June 2013 saw the first fleet of fuel cell Hyundai’s take to the roads of Copenhagen to support its carbon-neutral aim. The first private consumers to hire the clean-energy crossover were the Bush family in Southern California in January this year.

A realistic option for eco-conscious consumers

The cars are being leased for $499 a month (with a $2,999 deposit) for 36 months in California. Considering that this deal comes with unlimited free hydrogen and valet maintenance, it is a realistic option for many consumers in California.
The greatest challenge in order for the fuel cell car to become a mainstream option for low emission transportation is the lacking infrastructure. California, for example, has 9 fueling stations to date but plans to expand this number to 54 in the near future.

Hyundai ix35 fuel cell specs

Hyundai provides a beautifully animated advertisement promoting this vehicle as an alternative to petrol or diesel powered vehicles. Click here to watch.
At a glance, here are some of the highlights of the ix35/Tucson Fuel Cell:
  • The only tailpipe emission is water – that means zero carbon dioxide tailpipe emissions
  • It received the 2013 Price Future Auto accolade for being the first auto manufacturer to successfully begin series production 2 years ahead of competitors
  • The maximum range on a single tank is an adequate 594 km – taking you from Frankfurt to Berlin on a single tank for example
  • The car takes only 3 minutes to charge
  • If you converted the amount of hydrogen required to drive 1 km to gasoline or petrol, the fuel efficiency would be an incredible 27.8 kilometres per liter.
  • The electric motor and silencer in the fuel cell stack make for an extremely quiet ride
  • The green car market is a growing industry and Hyundai is positioning itself at the forefront
  • More detailed specs are available here.
The engineering behind the fuel cell
Those interested in the engineering behind the fuel cell module will appreciate this video provided by the California Fuel Cell Partnership. Fuel Cell Engineer Kevin Lee explains the structure of the Hyundai fuel cell power module. Click here to watch.

History of the fuel cell

Interestingly, the fuel cell is by no means a new invention – here is a quick look at the history of the fuel cell which has been used by NASA and the US navy:
The eco-conscious consumer can start to get really excited, because Hyundai is making sure that a high performance zero emission vehicle will become commonplace on the high street. Now city infrastructure just needs to catch up to provide sufficient hydrogen refueling stations.
Source: as posted on

Hyundai Sonata Refined Elegance

Since its inception in 1985, the Hyundai Sonata has steadily grown through its seven generations from a relatively average sedan to a sophisticated and luxurious ride. The 2015 Sonata, recently revealed in Korea and the New York Auto Show, is no exception, but does it have the same class killing effect that the sixth generation Hyundai possessed?
The previous generation Sonata took the market by surprise, marking, for many, the beginning of Hyundai’s massive design turnaround. Before then Hyundai had made reasonable cars that looked good enough to buy and drove well enough to enjoy, but something clicked at the beginning of the decade when Hyundai, not satisfied with being one of the global top five, started to really throw designer after designer into the development of their new cars. Their new design language, ‘Fluidic Sculpture’, was a game changer and clearly visible in the transformation of the Getz into the i20, the fourth generation Hyundai Accent and the stunning transformation of the Sonata. Packed with features that you would expect from a German car but with a far more friendly price tag, the Sonata sales helped to establish Hyundai internationally not only as a good car maker, but as a good-looking good car maker.
So what about the new generation Sonata? The new Sonata has been designed along same Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 that has made the 2015 Hyundai Genesis a serious contender in the high end luxury car market, but with a slightly toned down approach. Hyundai claims that the new model’s ‘energetic and crisp’ lines are highlighted by smooth and subtle surfaces, but what this really means is that they have increased the aerodynamics (it boasts a drag coefficient of 0.27) of the previous generation and made it less boxy and more graceful. And I mean graceful. From the models that have been displayed at the auto shows so far the new Sonata looks graceful and sophisticated without any of the madness and impracticality of many of its competitors. From the front the grille is subtle while still being a significant improvement from the sixth generation and avoiding the imposing maw of the Genesis. The new Sonata is also larger than the sixth generation by 35mm in length and 30mm in width which shows in the cabin.
If you are looking for a splash of sport with your sophistication, the Sonata Limited offers you rocker panel extensions and dual exhausts while the Sonata Sport features a far more aggressive grille and bumper, side rocker extensions and side chrome moldings. The Sonata Sport 2.0T offers all this plus quad exhaust tips and 18″ alloys up from the 16″ on the SE.
On the inside, the cabin has also had a class upgrade and, when combined with Hyundai’s massive investment in the multimedia options of the Sonata, takes the Sonata into the heights of technological comfort while driving. The down side is that many of these options, such as the 400W Infinity premium audio system and Blue Link®, are optional upgrades. While the SiriusXM® satellite radio makes up for a lot with its 22 minutes of rewind on live radio and Travel Link® information, the Blue Link® voice recognition and navigation display, remote start via mobile app and Hyundai Assurance Car Care in-vehicle app is still a very tempting upgrade.
Thankfully Hyundai didn’t go with the 1.6 turbocharger engines as many had suspected, favouring instead a revised 2.4-liter Theta II GDI four-cylinder engine that will push 138kW and 231Nm through the SE, Limited and Sport models. For the highly desirable 2.0T, Hyundai has fitted a 2L turbocharged version of the Theta II and you’ll expect around 329kW and 353Nm. The 2.0T’s turbo kicks in more at lower RPM so you’ll get to the torque quicker.
Hyundai has also done some serious work on the suspension of the 2015 Sonata, taking it out to the hallowed N├╝rburgring track for testing, so we can expect better handling and control.
Aside from all the standard features that we have come to expect from a luxury mid-size sedan such as ESC, VSB, TC and ABS, Hyundai has found space for even more airbags (This one at the driver’s knees) and introduced a host of tech to help you drive safer and avoid accidents such as Forward Collision Warning, Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Lane Departure Warning Systems. These all sound excellent, but I’m waiting for the cacophony of alerts that you’ll get trying to make your way through JoBurg traffic at rush hour.
Hyundai has put a lot of thought and design into the 2015 Sonata and are hoping to sell around 228 000 in Korea and abroad. After having a look at this vehicle there is a pretty good chance that they will easily get this target provided that they offer the 2015 Sonata at around the same price of the sixth generation Sonata. The tech packs that are offered are appealing, but whether they’ll survive or even arrive in SA is questionable. The 2015 Sonata isn’t a flashy car, it is subtle and sophisticated and might just be what this country needs.

Source: as posted on

Hyundai ix35: Fuel Cells to Power EU Parliament

Hyundai’s groundbreaking ix35 Fuel Cell has been selected to demonstrate the real-world benefits of hydrogen fuel cell technology for the third consecutive year by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Undertaking (FCH JU) which has been backed by the European Union (EU).
The President of Hyundai Motor Europe, Byung Kwon Rhim, stated that: “The fact that the Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell has been chosen for a third consecutive year underlines the vehicle’s pioneering approach to clean mobility solutions. Hyundai Motor and our colleagues at the FCH-JU will continue to work together to promote the benefits and advantages of hydrogen and fuel cell technology.”
The ix35 Fuel Cell is the world’s first mass production hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle and will be driven by members of the European Parliament, European Commissioners, EU officials and other policymakers attending the EU parliament in Brussels, the capital of Belgium. Several high ranking EU member states, such as Germany, Sweden, France and the UK, have begun taking delivery of the ix35 Fuel Cell as the EU has already established a hydrogen roadmap and begun the construction of hydrogen refueling stations across some member states. The ix35 Fuel Cell has also recently seen increased interest across the USA since its commercial launch.
Hyundai have been developing the technology behind fuel cell electric vehicles since 1998 and since the unveiling of the ix35 Fuel Cell in 2010, they have been constantly updating and improving the ix35. Hydrogen fuel cells work by passing hydrogen through plastic membranes and plates that have been coated with platinum, a process that produces electricity and water vapour. Hyundai has also recently released images of its latest hydrogen fuel cell concept vehicle, the Intrado, as well as their innovative hydrogen extraction plants that farm fuel from human waste.
While there are no clear indications when the ix35 Fuel Cell will be available in South Africa, we can still be more than content with the economical and stunning Hyundai ix35.
Source: as posted on

Hyundai Creates Giant 48ft Bat for Xcent

We all know that Hyundai’s range of vehicles is beautiful and stylish, but their latest creation really has grabbed India’s attention: Their 48ft long bat!

Their creation is a 48ft long cricket bat that was on display outside Hyundai ICC Fan Parks across India during the ICC World T20 competition that was held recently. Mr Rakesh Srivastava Sr. VP of Sales and Marketing, Hyundai Motors India Limited said, “We are very proud to be associated with ICC as the official partner. Hyundai Fan Park is a unique platform to enrich and strengthen our relationship with cricket fans and take our brand association forward. It gives us immense pleasure to organize the ‘Fan Parks’ and we are positive that the cricket fans will surely enjoy the tournament in these Fan Parks.” The giant cricket bat was created to serve not only as part of Hyundai’s ongoing sponsorship of the ICC World T20 matches, but also as part of the showcase for the new Hyundai Xcent. The new Hyundai Xcent, which was released in India early 2014, is a sedan version of Hyundai’s new Grand i10 and shares the same 61kW 1.2L petrol and 52kW 1.1L diesel engines. While there is no information as of yet whether Hyundai will be bringing the Xcent to South Africa, the Grand i10 is widely believed to be heading to our shores and is a slightly larger version of the super popular and fuel efficient Hyundai i10.
Source: as posted on

ix35 Fuel Cell: No Longer Future Technology!

As we try to reduce our dependance on fossil fuels, the motor industry is filled with talk and ideas of alternate fuels. The majority of this talk is about what is coming, with few realising that the future on fuel systems is already here: Hyundai’s Fuel Cells.
Hyundai believes that these fuel cells are the 21st century technology replacement for 20th century technology such as petrol and diesel engines. Hyundai’s flagship fuel cell design is the ix35 Fuel Cell which has already begun rolling out in certain parts of the USA and is geared for full scale production in 2015.
This revolutionary vehicle part of Hyundai’s program to create vehicles that combine hydrogen and oxygen to create electricity with the only emission being water.
The only emission is water? Most people would think that this is too good to be true. To demonstrate just how environmentally friendly the ix35 Fuel Cell is, Hyundai connected it to a living ecosystem through aquaponics (the growing of fish and vegetables in water). The water produced by the fuel cell was pumped from the running ix35 Fuel Cell into a fish tank filled with carp which in turn provided nutrients to feed the plants connected to the fish tank.
However, the rollout of the ix35 is a complex procedure as Hyundai needs to create the refueling infrastructure before they roll out the vehicle. This isn’t phasing Hyundai however, as they believe that their investment in infrastructure now will have long term dividends as they expect fuel cells will make up 50% of the market by 2050.
Find out more about the technology behind the ix35 Fuel Cell or take a look at the Hyundai ix35s that are currently available in South Africa.
Source: as posted on