Auto briefs: Connected car test environment, factory investment, obstacle course

A connected car technology commitment and test environment, a multimillion dollar investment in American auto assembly plants, and the sponsorship of a children's obstacle course event were among the items promoted by automakers recently.

  • Toyota says it has established the world's largest real-world test environment for connected vehicles and their infrastructure in Ann Arbor, Mich. The automaker invited members of its research and development teams, as well as their families and members of the Ann Arbor community, to outfit their vehicles with the technology, which allows vehicles to communicate with other equipped vehicles and road infrastructure. The deployment builds on the earlier establishment of connected vehicle technology in the city in 2012, and Toyota plans to include Dedicated Short-Range Communications systems on all vehicles sold in the United States starting in 2021. The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute is a partner in the deployment, and plans to collect data to help improve road safety.
  • Nissan has invested $170 million in its U.S. assembly plants, upgrading these facilities as they begin producing the 2019 Altima model. The upgrades to the plants in Smyrna, Tenn. and Canton, Miss. include a laser brazing system in the body shops, updated paint shops, and new calibration equipment. Nissan says it has invested almost $12 billion in its American plants.
  • Subaru recently announced that it has sponsored the Kids Obstacle Challenge, an outdoor adventure event series. The course, designed for children between the ages of five and 16, stretches between one-and-a-half and two miles and includes obstacles such as a mud crawl, cargo net climb, and rope swing. Subaru says it will be present at the events with a Subaru Ascent for families to tour as well as "Camp Ascent," which will include activities like archery and tug-of-war.

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