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The Friday Five:The Boosted Mustang GT, Medically-Modified Odyssey, and Future-Proofed XC90 Edition

Beverly Braga | May 08, 2020

This past week, the coronavirus pandemic continues to slow down and downright cancel the auto industry’s early-in-the-year momentum. And it’s especially evident in the negative blow to April sales as well as more news of delayed or canceled vehicles. We’ve also covered updates regarding the 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe and Audi’s full 2021 lineup.

But that’s not everything that was happening in the automotive space.

Ford Performance Kit Now Available for 2018-20 Mustang GT

For owners of a V-8-equipped late-model Ford Mustang GT who find the 5.0-liter engine’s 460 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque less than satisfying, a factory-approved engine calibration package is now available.

Ford performance kit available for the 2018-2020 Mustang GT

Engineered by Ford Performance, this performance boost enhances throttle response and adds power throughout the rpm range. Horsepower sees an extra 19 hp at 6,500 rpm while torque gains 42 lb.-ft. at 2,000 rpm and 18 lb.-ft. at 4,500 rpm. 

The $1,275 kit includes a larger throttle body from the Bullitt model, its required adaptor, a Ford Performance cold air intake, and a ProCal 4 tool that plugs into the OBD-II port for diagnostic and data logging. Note that premium fuel also is required.

Fitted for 2018-2020 Mustang GTs (regardless of transmission), the Ford Performance calibration package is available for U.S. and Canadian vehicles, comes with a 3-year/36,000-mile warranty, and meets emissions standards for all 50 states.

Honda Odyssey Retrofitted to Support Detroit-Area Coronavirus Response 

This week, modified Honda Odyssey minivans were delivered to the city of Detroit to be used as transport vehicles for healthcare workers and Covid-19 patients. While cases involving the coronavirus are decreasing within the state, Detroit remains the hardest hit by the health pandemic. As of today, Michigan ranks 7th nationwide in total number of cases, but 4th in deaths. And 46% of those deaths are within Wayne County where Detroit is located.

The 10 retrofitted minivans feature a sealed polycarbonate barrier that separates the driver and front passenger from the rear seating area. Additionally, the cabin ventilation system software is adjusted so that different air pressures on either side of the partition can be maintained. Using CDC guidelines, the front cabin was positively pressurized to reduce exposure to potential pathogens while the rear matches the negative pressure used in medical facilities.

Government officials reached out to Honda after seeing reports of similarly-equipped minivans being used in Japan. From conception to completion, the project took less than two weeks with all work performed in-house by volunteer engineers and fabricators at Honda’s R&D center in Raymond, Ohio.

Mazda Extends Essential Car Care Program Benefiting Healthcare Workers 

Announced last month and intended to run through May 4, Mazda’s Essential Car Care Program is extended through at least June 1. The program provides free oil changes and enhanced vehicle cleaning services to all qualified healthcare employees—Mazda and non-Mazda owners alike. 

The program limits services to one per vehicle in order to benefit as many healthcare workers as possible. To request the complimentary maintenance, only a proof of occupation (via ID or pay stub) is needed. Exclusions do apply, such as classic cars and any vehicle with manufacturer-specific requirements. Contact your local Mazda dealer to verify program participation and vehicle eligibility.

NHTSA Report Estimates Fewer Traffic Fatalities for Third Consecutive Year

A new report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) suggests that traffic fatalities may have decreased for the third consecutive year. The preliminary estimates from 2019 data of the Fatal Analysis Reporting System (FARS) show decreases in most of the major traffic safety categories with passenger deaths seeing the largest drop, down by 4%.

FARS projects 36,120 traffic deaths in 2019, a 1.2% overall decrease from the previous year. If the numbers hold, this would mean fewer fatalities even though miles traveled increased by 0.9% year-over-year. The result would be 1.10 fatalities per 100 million miles driven, which would be the second lowest since the federal agency began recording fatal crash data.

Volvo to Incorporate Autonomous-Driving Hardware Starting in 2022

Volvo is looking to future-proof its next-generation of vehicles by incorporating lidar technology that will enable autonomous driving for if or when the system can be activated.

In a partnership with Luminar, high-performance lidar sensors will be integrated within the roofline as opposed to the grille-mounted systems used by other automakers. Volvo is starting this approach with new vehicles built on the company’s next-generation modular platform, the first of which is expected to the be all-new 2022 XC90.

Implementing lidar allows Volvo to enable its new Highway Pilot technology, which is capable of autonomous driving on highways under certain conditions. Combining data from cameras, lidar, radar, and back-up systems, the vehicle would control steering, braking, and battery functions. 

Of course, just because the vehicle can drive itself doesn’t mean it will. The software needed to permit fully autonomous driving is not yet available but Volvo can add it via over-the-air updates if the driver opts in. 

The expectation is that over time, areas where the vehicle can self-drive will expand. But until the self-driving software is ready, the lidar can be used to further improve current driver-assistance features, like adaptive cruise control.

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