Monthly Archives April 2016

Japanese automaker Mitsubishi joins list of emissions test cheaters

Credit: Think Stock Photos

The mismatch between Mitsubishi’s reported and actual on-road emissions was first identified by Nissan, which was performing emissions tests on vehicles supplied by Mitsubishi Motors. Nissan subsequently called for an investigation, in turn leading to the discovery of the test manipulations. According to a official statement, Mitsubishi and Nissan have decided to stop production and sales of the affected cars and will discuss compensation in this regard.

The news about Mitsubishi’s fraudulent auto-testing practices comes after similar revelations regarding Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, Renault, Opel and Daimler. In the last few months, since the so-called dieselgate scandal was sparked by Volkswagen, it has been found that fraudulent emission testing practices affect not only NOx but also CO.2 emissions, contributing to urban air pollution and climate change.

While cheating practices have helped automakers achieve cost savings, amounting to around € 7 billion, as a result of compliance with EU regulations, the associated costs incurred by society have been damaging, in the form of deadly levels of air pollution and human lives at stake Indeed, a recent report of the European Environment Agency estimates that air pollution continues to be responsible for more than 430,000 premature deaths in Europe, making it the greatest environmental health risk on the continent.

Despite these alarming findings, the Commission’s progress on the review of the ‘New Emissions Driving Cycle’ (NEDC) has been largely insufficient, mainly due to pressure from Member States and the automotive lobby.

Electrification: the only and inevitable way forward for the transport sector

As evidence of fraudulent emissions testing practices continues to accumulate, the importance of transport electrification is becoming increasingly evident: namely its key role in reconciling the decarbonization of the transport sector. and reduction of local air pollution in cities.

Even if emissions tests are improved and vehicles taxed fairly to reflect real-world emissions, there are limits to improving the efficiency of combustion engines. This means that it will soon be cheaper and more sustainable to encourage and invest heavily in electric vehicles. Failure to invest on time in zero-emission transport will threaten the viability of automakers in the face of ever-growing concerns about health problems induced by air pollution, stricter emission performance standards and fuel testing regimes. ‘more stringent expected emissions.

To strengthen its role as a pioneer in electromobility, Norway last month released its National Transport Plan 2018-2029 calling for electric and hydrogen powered cars to account for 100% of new car sales by 2025. The plan calls for all newly registered cars, vans and buses to be ‘zero emissions’ by 2025, with 1.6 million to be put on the road by 2030 – equivalent to a saving of around 2.7 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.

This ambitious plan with policy recommendations was presented by Norwegian government agencies representing coastal, air, rail and road transport. The report was recently presented to the government and is awaiting parliamentary approval.

Likewise, the Dutch Parliament passed a motion that could ban the sale of non-electric cars by 2025. The motion was passed by the lower house of the Dutch parliament and now needs to be approved by the National Senate before it can become law.

2016 promises to be promising for the EU with a number of opportunities ahead to highlight and accelerate the wider adoption of electric transport. In the second quarter of 2016, for example, the European Commission is expected to present a proposal for a post-2020 effort sharing decision (ESD), which will be accompanied by a communication on the decarbonization of transport. In addition, 2016 will be a decisive year in terms of the preparatory process of the EU Member States for the implementation of the Infrastructure Directive for Alternative Fuels (AFI).

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Japanese car designers turn to anime for new design ideas

Some of Japan’s biggest automakers, renowned for their quality performance wrapped in an often bland design, look to the country’s pop culture to give them a ‘J factor’ and help them stand out in a world of more cars. in addition to resembling.

The designers of Nissan Motor’s GT-R supercar, for example, borrowed from the famous sci-fi anime franchise “Gundam” to give the $ 100,000 pug-nosed model a mechanical, robot-like appearance. with a square rear and round taillights.

“We wanted to set ourselves apart from Porsches, Ferraris and other supercars, which are designed to mimic the streamlined beauty of a hunting animal, such as a jaguar.”

“Take a look at the window and the roof line of the car. It does not flow easily from front to back, it is bent. We wanted to express the awkward yet cool and powerful form of the Japanese anime robot, ”global design chief Shiro Nakamura told Reuters.

“We wanted to set ourselves apart from Porsches, Ferraris and other supercars, which are designed to mimic the streamlined beauty of a hunting animal, such as a jaguar.”

Nakamura, who also designed for General Motors and Isuzu Motors, wants the Japanese cultural aesthetic to help Nissan cars stand out from the crowd, noting that “around the world, cars from mainstream brands have started to look alike. more and more”.

“We insist on Japan because we are a Japanese brand,” he added. “Unless you derive the design and style from your own cultural DNA, there is no chance of continuity and you lack confidence.

Nissan and others hope such efforts can help them differentiate themselves in a market where so many cars today are hard to tell.

“The efficiency of mass production, economies of scale, brand globalization, a risk-averse corporate culture, the ergonomics of a car, and the constraints of infrastructure and regulations all play into this phenomenon, ”said Richard Kong, managing partner at Montaag, a California-based design company. company, who was previously Ford’s chief designer for Lincoln’s brand and also worked for BMW’s design subsidiary.

Pikachu to Monkey D Luffy

Others also look for this J factor.

At Toyota Motor, the grille and slanted LED headlights of the latest iteration of the Prius C Hybrid would make the sedan look a bit like Pikachu, the tough but cuddly hero from “Pokemon,” another popular longtime Japanese anime. . series.

However, Tokuo Fukuichi, head of Toyota’s global design, said the resemblance was not necessarily intended and had more to do with engineers’ efforts to improve the car’s aerodynamics.

For Toyota, and in particular its premium brand Lexus, the J factor is more in the functionality of the car than in its styling, Fukuichi said: “the way the doors open and close and how the buttons, switches and steering wheel feel when you touch them. “

“Before the appearance of the car, we try to put the importance of visibility to reduce blind spots, for example. We emphasize craftsmanship. It’s our DNA and our J factor,” he said. he said, referring to a national culture where a high speed train stops on the platform just 10cm from where it should, and the driver apologizes if the train is 30 seconds late.

At Nissan, Nakamura experimented with a modern take on Japanese pop culture’s affinity for cuteness.

He says he was told that the Nissan Juke, a mini-SUV, does not look like Monkey D. Luffy, a main pirate character with a big smile in the Japanese anime “One Piece”. He says he has no problem with it, although any resemblance was unintentional.

“This… cuteness is also the DNA of Japanese pop culture (that) we try to convey in some of our cars while keeping them modern,” Nakamura said, also referring to the microvan Cube, which is square and chunky. but has a modern look and asymmetric wraparound rear window.

“Symmetry is a Western concept,” he said. “The Japanese are more comfortable with the imbalance.”

Report by Norihiko Shirouzu and Naomi Tajitsu
Edited by Ian Geoghegan)

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Should healthy young men sit in priority seats on Japanese trains for the elderly and pregnant women?

The obvious answer seems to be “No”, but our Japanese-speaking reporter has a unique alternative perspective.

In the corners of Japanese form cars, you will find what are commonly called “Priority seats”, what signs and announcements remind passengers reserved for seniors, pregnant women, people with physical disabilities or people traveling with young children. People outside of these demographics are encouraged to give up seats if someone who needs them most shows up, but many seats are not designated to choose instead not to sit at all.

We were therefore a little surprised to learn that PK Sanjun, one of our Japanese-speaking male reporters from RocketNews24, recently started heading to priority seats and dropping down on a by taking the train. While PK can sometimes make us think he might not be quite right he is in good physical health, so why has he made a habit of taking one of the seats that is not are not designed for him?

The answer is actually quite complicated. As we mentioned above, people outside the priority seating target groups can still sit there if there is plenty of seating for everyone. But as the train fills up, some of them fail to give up their seats, leaving the people the priority seats are supposed to be reserved to stand on their exhausted feet.

Over the past few years, a number of women who are related and acquainted with PK have become pregnant and have had babies. But while becoming pregnant should have meant at least a few months’ reprieve without having to get on the train, they told PK that rarely has someone given up their place for them, even if their pregnancy was evident by the size of their belly and / or they placed pregnant women’s straps on their bags.

▼ “There is a baby in my womb. “

PS 2

When someone made give them a seat, the majority of the nice strangers were other women who had recently had a baby and could relate to the exhaustion that often comes with uplifting another life inside of yourself. On the opposite side of the spectrum, a few friends of PK said they even had uncooperative priority seat squatters calling them stranded for acting like they deserved a seat just because they were pregnant.

PK couldn’t believe that some people would be so reckless, especially when their actions contrasted so strongly with his. “I always give way to pregnant women,” he told his acquaintances, who then told him “People like you should sit in the priority seats, to keep them safe for the people who really need them. “

Since then, PK has made a point of securing a priority seat whenever a seat is available and then abandoning it for the sake of the people who really need it once they get on the train. “I have noticed that a lot of people don’t need a priority seat, but still sit in a seat, taking a nap or playing with their smartphone, and therefore they don’t notice when someone is who the seat is really supposed to be standing right next to them.

While PK’s protective chivalry show is admirable in itself, we feel obligated to also point out some potential pitfalls in this plan. First of all, some people who have priority seats reserved may be difficult to identify by appearance alone, such as women in early pregnancy or young people treating lower body injuries. If these people get on the train and find that all of the priority seats are already full, they may decide to take their chances while waiting for one of the more general purpose seats to open and not even make it to the area. priority seats. , denying your ability to offer them seat in the first place.

There is also a bit of a gray area regarding what exactly constitutes membership in one of the priority seat target groups. Are you a senior at 53? Is having a sprained half-healed ankle considered a physical disability? Is your four-year-old so “young child” that you need a special seat? It is conceivable that people in such borderline situations might assume that anyone already seated in the priority seat needs it even more than they do, and thus stay away from the priority seats so as not to make sure that their occupants feel embarrassed or pressured to abandon them.

In other words, there is no ready-made answer as to whether or not able-bodied and non-pregnant young people should sit in the priority seats. What’s an easy conclusion to draw, however, is that it’s always nice to be aware of your fellow travelers and give up your seat, whether or not it’s a priority, to those in need.

Images © RocketNews24

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Did you think Japanese trains couldn’t get any cooler? Think again.

Minimalist train design by architect Kazuyo Sejima


Japanese trains are already a source of wonder, for their speed, punctuality and cleanliness. But a Japanese architect is trying to take them to the next level by creating almost invisible trains.

The Seibu Railway Company, which operates trains connecting the western and northern parts of Tokyo, asked Kazuyo Sejima, winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, renowned for its modernist glass buildings, to come up with a train design “like never before seen previously”.

The most famous buildings in Sejima include the Glass Pavilion of the Toledo Museum of Art, the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, and the Louvre-Lens in France.

But she had never designed a train before.

“I think the biggest difference from the standard architecture is that the train is able to travel to a variety of places,” Sejima said when Seibu unveiled the plans. “The limited express travels through a variety of different landscapes, from the Chichibu mountains to central Tokyo, and I thought it would be nice if the train could smoothly coexist with this variety of landscapes.”

Since commuters will be taking the train, she wanted to make it a relaxing and comfortable place like a living room, “so they say ‘I can’t wait to get back on this train’.”

Like the buildings in Sejima, the design is minimalist.

The Asahi Shimbun reported that the trains were designed with a concept of “blending smoothly” with the scenery, and would be round in shape and would have a simple coating without any pattern.

The Seibu company aimed to express “smoothness and softness” rather than “sharpness or freshness” with its trains and wanted to create a space for relaxation, the Sankei newspaper added.

Seibu plans to expand the seating space and enlarge the windows, in anticipation of an increase in the number of tourists, the business newspaper Nikkei reported. The company has not announced how much the new trains, which will be manufactured by Hitachi, will cost, but Nikkei estimates the company will invest around $ 90 million in the new trains.

Seibu wants 56 cars, in aluminum, for seven trains that will enter service in 2018.

The company has previously worked with another famous designer – Kengo Kuma, architect of a new national stadium under construction for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Its dining cars, dubbed “52 seats of happiness”, are due to debut on Sunday. The four coaches will feature Japanese washi paper and wood on the ceilings and will have seasonal scenes outside, the Japan Times reported.

© 2016 The Washington Post

(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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