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January/February 2002

        Off the  Line     news from the factory


Buick Bengal Equipped with Advanced Visteon Voice Technology™
The Visteon Corp. of Dearborn, Mich., and General Motors have united to introduce the Buick Bengal concept car, which comes with Advanced Visteon Voice Technology and a CD6 music system. According to Visteon, this new voice technology allows drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road while using their voices to control virtually anything on the exterior or interior of the car. It is the first system of its kind to recognize six languages and regional accents while ignoring surrounding sounds, says the company. Therefore, the system can be used when the car’s windows are down or up.

The Advanced Visteon Voice Technology system recognizes more than 118 commands, which encompass most of the vehicle’s features, from its windshield wipers to its defrosters. It can be mounted on all types of vehicles, according to the company, including traditional hardtops and convertibles such as the new Buick Bengal. Visteon says it is the first system of its type.

Mazda Introduces Transformable Concept 
Mazda Motor Corp. of Hiroshima, Japan, debuted its Mazda MX Sport Tourer concept car at the Geneva Motor Show, which was held in Switzerland earlier this year. The car is equipped with a "vario-lamella" roof structure, which provides a large open area that also eases the carriage of large loads, slides the roof forward and lowers the backlite. By folding the rear seat, the car can be transformed into a pickup truck. The Mazda MX also is equipped with a hybrid power 2.0-L gasoline engine and an electric motor. The vehicle comes in four-wheel drive.

ARAYMOND Advances Windshield Washing
The Europe-based ARAYMOND Group plans to launch a new, patented washer-jet system on the BMW 5 series in 2003. The system is a heated micro-spray jet unit composed of a nylon body and cover, a thermoplastic elastomer chip and a 0.4-mm thick stainless-steel heat-conduction plate. According to the company, the system uses 50 percent less water than most standard windshield washing systems, but cleans windshields just as well. The system is connected directly to the windshield wiper arm.

BMW Gives Capability for Inspecting Windshields
BMW has introduced a new program for its leasing customers, in which it sends them home with a clear, plastic disc to measure the size and shape of the chips and other pock-marks in the windshield of their leased car. It also provides them with a guide for how much these repairs will cost, so that when they return the leased vehicle they know how much they will have to pay in damage to the vehicle.

“People who lease cars will tell you that they are uncertain of what to expect from lease-end inspections, especially if they return a car with extra miles or minor wear and use,” said Bob Devine, managing director of BMW financial services. “Many of our customers and retailers really like … the ability to estimate their lease-end charges in advance.”

CodeAlarm Inc. Offers First OEM Remote Starter and Defroster
With the assistance of Madison Heights, Mich.-based CodeAlarm Inc., Ford Motor Co. recently became the first original equipment manufacturer to offer a remote starter on its vehicles, complete with remote control backlite defroster activation. With the touch of a button, customers who wish to invest in the Gold Package of remote-starters for their new Fords can start their engines up to 500 feet away and can begin the work of the defroster, removing ice from their backlites before they are even near the vehicle. In addition, the company says the Gold Package provides for resistance to glass breakage. 

According to Shane Wilson, technical support for CodeAlarm Inc., the alarm sounds when there is any impact on the glass or the vehicle itself. In addition, Wilson said the remote starter would not affect a vehicle's backlite or how it is replaced, because the remote would merely activate the button which turns on the rear defroster; it would not change the way the original defroster was installed. 


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