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Ranger goes high tech

Ford’s new high-tech Ranger makes it attractive for sedan drivers to switch to a bakkie, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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The Ford Ranger has been around for almost 37 years and has taken a massive internal redesign to appeal to a wider audience of drivers. Most notably, the latest Ranger models are now available in a 2-litre configuration, making them far lighter on fuel, while still maintaining enough power to tow up to 3 500 kilograms.

The latest Ranger line comes with big updates to its connectivity and navigation systems. Ford has implemented Sync 3 into its Ranger XLS and Ranger Wildtrak models, which enable these systems to reorganise the driver’s phone into a user-friendly car app environment. The system supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, both of which support apps like Spotify and Waze. 

In efforts to increase cabin comfort, Ford has implemented Active Noise Cancellation in the Ranger Wildtrak vehicles. This technology actively listens to the sounds that enter the cabin and play an opposite sound to cancel this noise out. This technology makes noisier roads quieter. The car has also been fitted with acoustic laminated glass to further help block out outside noises.

This system also comes with its own set of smart features, if the driver doesn’t connect a smart device. It has built-in navigation, phone call handling, compass, among others. These built-in features matter most to the segment of the market that doesn’t have a smartphone but wants to connect their Bluetooth-enabled feature phone to the car for handsfree calling.

The driver assist technology includes pedestrian detection, active park assist, lane keep assist, and a data-driven electronic stability program (ESP). While most of these features aren’t new to the market, they are fairly new to the pick-up truck segment. This shows Ford’s attempt to get into the market of passenger cars.

On the security side, Ford has included a full Thatcham security system. This standard is particularly difficult to bypass because the alarm and immobiliser units are in very hard to reach areas. Additionally, the devices are powered by a backup battery so the car’s battery can be removed and the systems will still be operational. Several other parts are fitted into the Ranger in ways that make them far more difficult to remove.

To test the capabilities of the Ranger, Ford let us take it for a drive on a 4×4 trail. As a non-4×4 driver, it was pretty easy to navigate the vehicle and it didn’t get stuck in the deep ditches where I thought it would. Up the hill was one thing, coming down was even more of a pleasure. The hill descent assist helps the driver descend a tough terrain without using the brakes heavily. That said, the system is reactive and not predictive. This means that the car’s sensors are in the wheels, and respond to terrain adjustments instead of predicting how it should react to upcoming terrain.

The 2-litre single-turbo option has optimised the car’s fuel consumption to a mere 6.3l/100km, while still putting out 132KW and 420NM. For a stronger drive, one can opt for the 2-litre bi-turbo option which has a fuel consumption of 7.4l/100km and provides 157KW and 500NM of power. The suspension has also been changed to provide a smoother ride.

Overall, the new Rangers are fuel efficient with impressive technical features, which can attract a different segment of the market. Time will tell if the passenger car segment is ready for a bakkie.

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Jaguar drives dictionary definition

Jaguar is calling for the Oxford English Dictionary and Oxford Dictionaries to update their online definition of the word ‘car’

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Jaguar is spearheading a campaign for the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and Oxford Dictionaries (OxfordDictionaries.com) to change their official online definitions of the word ‘car’.

The I-PACE, Jaguar’s all-electric performance SUV, is the 2019 World Car of the Year and European Car of the Year. However, strictly speaking, the zero-emission vehicle isn’t defined as a car.

The OED, the principal historical dictionary of the English language, defines a ‘car’ in its online dictionary as: ‘a road vehicle powered by a motor (usually an internal combustion engine) designed to carry a driver and a small number of passengers, and usually having two front and two rear wheels, esp. for private, commercial, or leisure use’.

Whereas the current definition of a ‘car’ on Oxford Dictionaries.com, a collection of dictionary websites produced by Oxford University Press (OUP), the publishing house of the University of Oxford, is: ‘A road vehicle, typically with four wheels, powered by an internal combustion engine and able to carry a small number of people.’

To remedy the situation, Jaguar has submitted a formal application to the OED and OxfordDictionaries.com to have the definitions updated to include additional powertrains, including electric vehicles (EV).

David Browne, head of Jaguar Land Rover’s naming committee, said: “A lot of time and thought is put into the name of any new vehicle or technology to ensure it is consumer friendly, so it’s surprising to see that the definition of the car is a little outdated. We are therefore inviting the Oxford English Dictionary and the Oxford Dictionaries to update its online classification to reflect the shift from traditional internal combustion engines (ICE) towards more sustainable powertrains.”

The Oxford English Dictionary is widely regarded as the accepted authority on the English language. It is an unsurpassed guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of 600,000 words – past and present – from across the English-speaking world.

Jaguar unveiled the I-PACE, its first all-electric vehicle, last year to deliver sustainable sports car performance, next-generation artificial intelligence (AI) technology and five-seat SUV practicality.

Featuring a state-of-the-art 90kWh lithium-ion battery, two Jaguar-designed motors and a bespoke aluminium structure, the I-PACE is capable of 0-100km/h in 4.8 seconds and a range of up to 470km (WLTP).

While both the Oxford English Dictionary and Oxford Dictionaries review the application, Jaguar is encouraging people to get behind the campaign by asking how the word ‘car’ should be defined. Contact Jaguar on TwitterFacebook and Instagram using #RedefineTheCar with your thoughts.

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How Internet blocks visually impaired

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Picture: Amelie-Benoist / Getty Images

A pervasive “digital divide” inhibits blind people from accessing the Internet, according to a study conducted by Nucleus Research for Deque Systems, an accessibility software company specialising in digital equality. This results in visits to websites being abandoned, further resulting in a missed market opportunity for the websites in question.

The study, which conducted in-depth interviews with 73 U.S. adults who are blind or have severe visual impairments, revealed that two-thirds of the Internet transactions initiated by people with vision impairments end in abandonment because the websites they visit aren’t accessible enough. Ninety percent of those surveyed said they regularly call a site’s customer service to report inaccessibility and have no choice but to visit another, more accessible site to make the transaction.

The Nucleus study also scanned hundreds of websites in the e-commerce, news and information and government categories and found that 70 percent had certain “critical blockers” that rendered them inaccessible to visually impaired users.

“Besides the moral dilemma and legal risk, businesses with inaccessible websites are missing a huge revenue opportunity by ignoring an untapped market,” says Preety Kumar, CEO of Deque Systems. “Among internet retailers specifically, two-thirds of the top ten online retailers had serious accessibility issues, meaning they are leaving $6.9 billion in potential North American e-commerce revenues on the table.”

Web accessibility refers to the ability of people with disabilities to independently gather information, complete transactions, or communicate on the Internet. Most visually impaired Internet users rely on assistive technologies like screen readers or screen magnifiers to render sites perceivable and operable. However, these assistive technologies require that websites be built with accessibility in mind and optimized to interface with assistive technology, in order to convey information in an accurate and understandable manner.

Critical accessibility blockers can vary across industries. In e-commerce, problems include issues like missing form and button labels (thereby making forms or the “checkout” button invisible without context). Amazon, Best Buy and Target were found to be accessibility leaders in this space. Additionally, the study found:

  • Eight out of ten news sites had significant accessibility issues.
  • Seven out of ten blind persons reported being unable to access information and services through government websites, including Medicare’s site.
  • Fewer than one in three websites have clear contact information or instructions for blind persons to seek help if they encounter accessibility issues, meaning many have low levels of success in reporting and solving these problems.

“A focus on accessibility needs to be a core part of the website design and development process,” continues Kumar. “Considering accessibility as early as the conception phase, and proactively building and testing sites for accessibility as they move towards production, is significantly more effective than remediating it later, helping organizations save significant time and resources while avoiding unnecessary customer grievances.”

To download the report, visit: https://accessibility.deque.com/nucleus-accessibility-research-2019

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