2015 Was a Sub-par Year for Global Auto Sales IHS Automotive says that 2015 was a good year for mature car markets, although this was largely offset by a very poor year for many of the world’s emerging markets. The net result is expected to be a "sub-par" 1.5% growth rate in global auto sales. IHS says that is the slowest pace of growth since 2010. Sales forecasts suggest the outlook for 2016 is likely to be defined by smaller gains, but also "less pain" than in 2015. Growth in the U.S. and Europe is forecast to be solid but less spectacular. Meanwhile, further downside from Russia, South America and some big Asian car markets will be less of a drag on global volumes. This, combined with expected stimulus in China, is likely to result in a 2016 growth rate of 2.7%, IHS says.
Hyundai to Test a Self-driving Fuel Cell Vehicle Hyundai Motor received approval from Nevada authorities to begin testing a fully autonomous fuel cell electric vehicle. The company will evaluate a range of partially and fully autonomous driving technologies in two vehicles. The tests will cover fully autonomous driving within fully controlled, designated roads; a traffic jam assist function; an emergency stop system and a narrow path assist, aimed to help drivers navigate narrow roads. Since November 2014, Hyundai says it has carried out more than 10,000 miles of testing its autonomous Tucson FCEV in Korea.
BMW Unveils AirTouch Technology BMW unveiled its AirTouch technology at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The technology features intuitive control of entertainment, navigation and communication functions using hand gestures. AirTouch allows the display in a vehicle to be operated like a touchscreen but without having to make contact with the surface. Sensors record hand movements, enabling drivers or passengers to change the focus on the display surface. Simple confirmation selects the relevant menu item or activates an icon. At the 2015 CES, BMW launched its first-generation gesture control technology, enabling finger movements to carry out actions such as adjusting radio volume or accepting phone calls. That technology was made available on the 2016 BMW 7 Series.
More Floodwater Storage Needed Along Mississippi River Additional temporary water storage capacity is needed near the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to handle peak flows and avoid the flooding that occurs during extended periods of above-average rainfall, say University of Illinois researchers. The researchers say that infrastructure built over the past 200 years have substantively altered the region’s hydrologic cycle. For example, the Headwaters Diversion channel was built in the 1910s and permitted draining the 1.2-million-acre Big Swamp in southeast Missouri. But it also had the unintended consequence of increasing the peak flow of Mississippi River water for a distance of around 360 river miles.