• Buick's new smartphone apps teach users about eAssist
  • Available for free from both the Apple App Store and Android Market

While the popularity of hand-held mobile devices has skyrocketed since the introduction of the iPhone a half decade ago, car makers have been a bit slow to mix the utility of these devices with their traditional in-car technology and marketing activities. In fact, until recently it has been hard to find vehicles that embrace the connected mobility lifestyle.

But these days more and more car makers are showing off their new infotainment systems with Internet radio, search, mapping, shopping, dining and entertainment options that rely heavily on a consumer's smartphone to work-Ford's MyFord Touch and Toyota's Entune are prime examples. Outside of these in-car developments, manufacturers are also starting to use smartphones, and the mobile gaming renaissance, as a way to educate consumers about their vehicles.

Buick, sensing an opportunity to attract younger buyers, has been one of the first to adopt many of these new tactics and technologies. Its most recent foray blends gaming with education to highlight three key features of their eAssist platform that help save fuel. The suite of Buick smartphone games includes "Regeneration Road," "Roll and Boost," and "Wind Tunnel Tester."

In "Regeneration Road," players must wind through a town full of pedestrians and stop signs on only one tank of gas while learning about the regenerative braking feature of eAssist. In "Roll and Boost," players can use the energy stored from the regenerative braking to help extend range on a relaxed drive across a rolling countryside. In the third and final game, "Wind Tunnel Tester," players assume the roll of an engineer and try to make cars as slippery as possible to cut through the air. The shape of the car as well as attachments such as spoilers and roof racks can be changed so that their effect on the car's aerodynamics is clear.

What it means to you:

Saving fuel isn't always fun, and learning about it even less so, but smartphone games can at least make attaining the knowledge to do it less of a chore-especially when it's on a system such as eAssist that blends into the background of everyday driving.

author photo

Nick Chambers is a "next generation" car enthusiast, recognized for his green automotive coverage in Gas 2.0, The New York Times, Popular Mechanics, HybridCars.com and PluginCars.com. In addition, he's been syndicated in Matter Network, AP and Reuters.

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