The Definitions Section

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from completing my graduate program is there is a method to everything that is completed. Academia certain had some resonance upon what I have done and continue to do even today.

If there was one thing that I found useful in my final steps towards completing the program was organizing a paper that does not rely on a traditional thesis format. That was a difficult for me to understand, as had anyone who had read my paper outside of this program. One such section of the paper that I found useful to create was a section for definitions. I did not realize how useful creating a definitions section was in the first part of the paper to guide the reader to understand the terms that I used throughout the Capstone.

For years, I began using specific terminology that I fear you might not understand after years of using them. Not just automotive-specific terms, but, rather, terms in English used elsewhere to convey an idea about the subject matter.

I believe this calls for a definitions “section” of this blog…

KIT: You have heard the term “kit and kaboodle” to describe “getting everything – even things that are unlisted here.” Well, kit, being a British term, has a similar definition. “Kit” means equipment, or the listing of equipment as packaged in a product. Using the term refers mainly to a more complementary level of equipment – such as in the Lexus IS 250C I reviewed recently. The more kit, the better I say – or, rather, he who dies with the most toys win! You decide?

MILL/MOTOR/ENGINE: I love synonyms. They make the English language more fun to work with. In this case, I hate repeating the same word twice in a sentence. Therefore I use a couple of synonyms to add spice to the concept being conveyed. In the case of “engine,” I use “motor” and “mill.” Motor normally connotes a smaller power source, such as the electric motor connected to a hybrid driveline. Mill is a term I heard used amongst the hot rod and custom car community to refer to a big engine. Since I’m looking at various engines of all sizes, propulsion options and power ratings, I find it easy to interchange these three terms to convey the same idea. Think of a mill of just 1.4litres in size with a turbocharger tacked onto it – or a big 6.2litre V8 motor. You get the idea, I hope…

WHY “GEARBOX” INSTEAD OF “TRANSMISSION?” That is a good question. The transmission has been evolving since we no longer just have the clutch-and-shift manual/standard and the planetary-gear-and-torque-converter automatic anymore. We now have continuously variable transmissions where a belt-and-pulley has replaced hydraulic-mechanical gear ratios. We also have the hybrid of both the manual and the automatic in a robotic set-up where one-to-two clutches are engaged via computer to deliver quicker shifts based on your throttle response, road conditions and engine behavior. Ah, but on these gearboxes don’t have to be controlled by the brain underneath the drive tunnel. You can flip the flappy paddles behind the steering wheel or toggle the gear shifter into “manual” mode. You can switch into a different set of ratios for more welly (that’s “speed,” BTW). Oy!

OTHER TERMS: You know what “telematics” are, right? Or, “infotainment?” These aren’t terms I made up. They’re real, honest-to-God terms we auto scribes use because they came from the industry themselves! So, to define them: “Telematics” is technology that links the automobile with a satellite to a support center for functions ranging from emergency assistance to finding a restaurant or giving you the latest weather report. GM’s OnStar, Lexus Enform and Mercedes-Benz’s COMAND are amongst the few of a growing number of telematics systems out there in the market. “Infotainment” is the bridge where your audio system no longer just plays the radio and your CDs. It brings you everything else: HD radio, satellite radio, streaming internet radio, integrates your MP3 player or iPod, uses Bluetooth for your phone connection and any apps that may emit a sound…or text…or get a hook-up for you!

Still confused? We haven’t delved into terms I use on my travel and sustainable transportation pieces…

Photo by Randy Stern

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