If you read the post below, it is obvious that I was in Germany, though I neglected to mention why. Every year, the IFA show takes place in Berlin. It is a truly gigantic trade show that encompasses a few dozen buildings. CES, every year in Vegas, probably has more booths. But the average size of each booth at IFA is much larger. Some of them are entire buildings.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much to report. Most any announcements for the US market will be announced at CEDIA (check our blog for that show here). The European announcements were either things we won’t get here, or things we already have here.

One cool thing was the latest iteration of Philips Ambilight. I’m not convinced on the videophile repercussions of this colored, video-synced, backlighting technology, but from what I hear, many people like it. Called “Aurea,” this logical advancement in the idea adds LEDs embedded in the bezel, instead of just on the back (and sides). As you can see in the pictures the result is very impressive looking. At the moment, it’s just for Europe, but don’t be surprised if it heads here soon.

There are more pictures from IFA if you clicky the link below.

CEDIA is this week. Here’s the link for that blog again: CEDIA 2007

Autobahn, Part II
If you haven’t read my first post on the road of roads, read it below first.

First off, I know 126 mph isn’t that impressive. But when you consider that the 1.6L, 102 hp engine in the Mark V Golf I rented was designed for economy, it’s not at all bad. Also, you have to give it to any company that engineers even their budget engines to be able to run at 6200 RPMs for over an hour and not explode. Sure, many of you (and I) have gone much faster in other cars, but as I said, this wasn’t about raw speed.

But what about these speeds. Let’s take a look at the numbers. At 126 mph, or just over 200 kph, the little 4-cylinder is burning fuel at a prodigious rate. Thanks to the handy onboard trip computer, it was imbibing 16.6 liters every 100 kilometers. That’s all kind of backwards to us in the new world, so let me translate. Flip it all around and you get somewhere in the vicinity of 14.1 miles per gallon in a car/engine the EU rates at 38.5 mpg “highway.” Boo-yah.

It occurred to me that there were three reasons why most people on the Autobahn weren’t taking advantage of the lack of speed limits. The first, and most simple, is that many of the tiny European city cars simply can’t break into the triple digits. This isn’t a knock, just a fact. If you have 50 or so hp, you may get 50 miles per gallon, but the car just isn’t designed to travel great distances above and past the speed of sense.

Secondly, it seems that most Germans are probably smarter than me. Or at least, have had a few decades on the Autobahns for the novelty to have warn off. I can’t even fathom that, but that’s me.

Lastly, gas is roughly $7 per gallon. Pretty cheap by European standards. As the speed goes up, gas mileage goes down (as I mentioned above). This is noticeable even from 55 to 65. And you can feel it, even on short runs.

I drove at 200 kph for about an hour (roughly, there was often slowing, but lets ignore that for now). At 200 kph the car was burning 16.6 L/100k. So in an hour I would have burned 33.2 liters of gas. This equals about 8.3L every 15 minutes, or 0.553L every minute. Convert that to gallons, and we have roughly 0.15 gallons every minute. With the current rate of exchange, this means my high speed burn across the German countryside was costing me, roughly, $1.05 per minute, every minute, for just over an hour. In my opinion this is a pretty good example of totally worth it.

Keynote speaker Rudy Provoost, CEO Royal Philips Consumer Electronics

You can walk from building to building inside, or you can walk outside...

Or across the grassy area where there were food vendors set up.

Cheap camera+low light= blurry pictures.

The Brandenburg Gate Gate, circa midnight 9/1/07.

Mike Kaler's picture

Your comments about driving the autobahn and the sensations you experienced were interesting. I think you described the intensity that starts to set in at high speeds very well. It also highlighted the need to focus on the job at hand...driving. Sadly, in this day of in-car theaters, 6 airbags, built-in cell phones, talking nav systems, and all the other distractions or safety systems folks in the US have lost the skill to drive even at our own speed limits much less no speed limits. When I am not tearing around in my supercharged Mercedes (yes, I am one of those speed nuts) I get around on a 750cc sportbike and nothing will make you more aware of how poorly trained US drivers are than riding a motorbike in a major US city. One thing you did not note in your article is how much more difficult it is to get a license in Europe. Decades of road-racing culture and better training make autobahn speeds a somewhat safer experience.

Geoffrey Morrison's picture

Very true. In Japan, where the average highway speed is about 5 MPH, they watch TV in their cars. So there's that...

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