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2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat [w/videos]

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    2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat [w/videos]
  • Recalls
    GM announces 6 recalls covering nearly 720k cars
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    2014 Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles: Part 2 [w/video]
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    How Hollywood furthered our automotive obsession [w/videos]
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Opel CEO talks new EV, will likely be fresh face for Chevy, too

Posted Jul 23rd 2014 3:58PM

Opel Ampera

The rumored demise of the Opel Ampera has been confirmed, but there's good news, too. Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann has been busy Tweeting information about the brand's next plug-in vehicle, admitting that the Ampera is on the way out but that plug-in vehicles are here to stay. His Tweets, in full, read:

After the eventual run-out of the current generation Ampera, we'll introduce a successor product in the electric vehicle segment. Our next electric vehicle will be part of our massive product offensive – with 27 new vehicles in the 2014-2018 time frame. We see eMobility as important part of the mobility of tomorrow and we will continue to drive down costs & deliver affordability.

As we learned earlier this week, the Ampera will not be refreshed when the current Chevy Volt is updated, most likely because of slow sales. Opel sold just 332 Amperas in the first five months of 2014. For now, General Motors is still building Amperas in Michigan for export to Europe.

So, what might this new EV mean for the General Motors plug-in fleet? Official spokespeople are being quiet, but we think it's safe to say the new EV Neumann is talking about is not simply a rebadged Chevy Spark EV. This is the first official word about an entirely new EV, and we expect it will come to both the Chevrolet and Opel brands.
Related GalleryOpel Ampera
Opel AmperaOpel AmperaOpel AmperaOpel AmperaOpel AmperaOpel AmperaOpel AmperaOpel Ampera

News Source: Karl-Thomas Neumann via Twitter

Cellphone bans don't reduce accidents, research finds

Posted Jul 23rd 2014 3:29PM

October 27, 2008 - A driver talks on his cell phone while smoking a cigarette and driving eastbound

"It was pretty clear to us that there was no compelling evidence of a decrease in accidents" – Daniel Kaffine

Common sense says that talking on a cellphone while driving is not a particularly safe thing to do. But recent studies have found banning cellphone use while behind the wheel is not leading to a decrease in accidents.

The results are somewhat surprising and have left researchers and regulators scratching their heads, especially given that 13 states, the District of Columbia and several US territories have hand-held cellphone bans. Additionally, 44 states specifically outlaw texting while driving, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

The most recent study, published this summer in the journal Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, analyzed California's cellphone ban for drivers in 2008. Researchers found the number of accidents only dropped from 66.7 per day to 65.2 per day statewide, a statistically minor decline. The results were mirrored in many of the state's major cities, including San Francisco, though Los Angeles did experience a slight decrease in accidents. Researchers looked at the six-month periods before and after the ban went into place on July 1, 2008.

"We went in there expecting to see something," Daniel Kaffine, one of the study's authors, told Autoblog. "[But] it was pretty clear to us that there was no compelling evidence of a decrease in accidents."

Though offsetting for safety advocates, Kaffine's research is in line with other findings. The Highway Loss Data Institute, the research arm of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, studied insurance claims rates in 2009 and 2010 studies, and found no link that bans helped decrease crashes.

Image Credit: Pawel Dwulit/Toronto Star via Getty, AP Photo/Pat Sullivan

Seinfeld laments AMC Gremlin with hilarious Jon Stewart

Posted Jul 23rd 2014 2:58PM

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee Jon Stewart

A good comedian can rifle off a one-liner when put in the right situation. A great comedian, though, can fire off zingers in any situation. That much is obvious from the start of the latest episode of Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

The quips begin essentially from the start, with Seinfeld introducing today's featured car as a competitor to the Ford Pinto and Chevy Vega, a pair of cars he calls "horrible." The competitor, though, "was even more horrible." Yes, we're talking about the AMC Gremlin.

Why the Gremlin, though? A car that is accepted as one of the single biggest four-wheeled abominations in the long, sad history of four-wheeled abominations? Well, it just happened to be the first car of guest Jon Stewart, of The Daily Show fame. With Stewart in tow, the one-liners really get going. Calling the Gremlin "contraception" for New Jersey's young men in the 1970s and a car for the "broke ignorant", the pair's tour around Manhattan in the dreadful hatchback is cut short by something a bit more suited to the tastes of CICGC fans.

Scroll down for the full video, and enjoy the latest episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

News Source: Crackle, SuperComedyMedia via YouTube

GM announces 6 recalls covering nearly 720k cars

Posted Jul 23rd 2014 2:30PM

General Motors Government Stock

General Motors has announced yet another sprawling recall campaign, with six separate elements covering 717,950 vehicles on US roads. At this point in 2014, it's starting to seem like there are more days with a GM recall than without. Perhaps most troubling about this latest volley, though, is that every vehicle is from the past few years, indicating that GM's quality woes may not be limited to pre-bankruptcy vehicles.

The largest element of this latest campaign covers 414,333 units, and includes the 2011 to 2012 Chevrolet Camaro, 2010 to 2012 Chevy Equinox, GMC Terrain and Cadillac SRX and the 2011 to 2012 Buick Regal and LaCrosse. Only vehicles with powered, height-adjustable seats are covered. In these particular cars and crossovers, the bolt that secures the height adjuster actuator may loosen of its own accord and in some cases fall out completely. If this happens, the seats will be able to move both up and down. GM claims the vehicles are safe to drive, provided drivers don't vertically adjust their seats. This particular issue has caused one crash and three injuries.

The largest element of this latest campaign covers 414,333 units, including the Chevrolet Camaro and Equinox, GMC Terrain, Cadillac SRX and the Buick Regal and LaCrosse.

Next up, the 2014 Chevrolet Caprice and SS, 2013 to 2014 Cadillac ATS, 2014 CTS and ELR, 2013 to 2014 Buick Encore and 2014 to 2015 GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverado pickups (both light-duty and heavy duty models) are being recalled due to an "incomplete weld on the seat hook bracket assembly." 124,008 vehicles are affected by this problem, which is being blamed on a sudden loss of power to a laser welder at factories. Dealers will inspect the weld and replace the seat track if necessary. However, GM claims that less than one percent of welds will require track replacement. There have been no reported accidents or injuries for this issue.

The Buick Regal is getting pinged with a second recall, covering 2011 to 2013 models. It's joined by the 2013 Chevy Malibu, in an action that covers 120,426 vehicles. This is the least severe of the latest round of issues, though, as it has to do with the turn signal bulbs. These vehicles use a pair of bulbs in the signal array. Should both bulbs burn out, the driver is notified in the typical fashion (a rapidly flashing signal in the instrument cluster). If only one bulb burns out, though, there is no way of warning the driver. Unsurprisingly, this issue hasn't lead to any crashes, while the fix requires a simple reprogramming.

The 2014 Chevy Impala is also the subject of an action that's particular to models with belt-driven electric power steering. A bad electric ground to the power steering control module can lead to sudden loss or reduction in steering assistance. The car won't become uncontrollable, although owners will be forced to live with manual steering until a trip to the dealer can be arranged. GM is blaming paint that may have gotten behind a nut on a "power steering control module ground stud" for this problem. There are no crashes being blamed on this issue.

Korean-built Chevy Spark minicars from model years 2014 and 2015 are being recalled, in an action that covers some 1,900 units. In this particular case, GM is claiming the lower control arm bolt was not fastened to specs, which, in a worst-case scenario, could lead to a separation of the control arm from the steering knuckle. Dealers will take a look at both control arms to assure they've been tightened to specs.

Finally, 22 units from the new-for-2015 Chevy Tahoe, Suburban, GMC Yukon and Yukon Denali SUV range are being recalled due to poorly connected interior roof rails. An incorrect retaining nut is being blamed for the problem, which could puncture or tear the roof-mounted airbags, should they deploy. Of the 22 units in this action, eight are currently in dealer inventories.

GM has summarized this latest recall in the press release below. Scroll down for a look.

Image Credit: Paul Sancya / AP, GM

Mercedes updated M-Class spotted stripping camo

Posted Jul 23rd 2014 2:00PM

Mercedes-Benz M-Class Spy Shots

Following a spate of images in early April, Mercedes has removed some of the camouflage on the facelifted M-Class SUV in preparation for its eventual debut, probably at the 2014 Paris Motor Show.

Gone is the swirly, psychedelic camo that featured so heavily on our last round of photos. In its place sits simple, unpatterned vinyl, which is limited to the front and rear of the mid-level luxury SUV. The vinyl looks to be hiding new headlights, which appear to borrow inspiration from the new S-Class and C-Class. Unlike the previous example we spotted, this new model has its taillights concealed, indicating there could be minor changes in store. The rear bumper is also slightly different, with more visible exhaust outlets, indicating that this could be the ML550 that we're seeing.

There remains a fair amount of camouflage over the front grille and lower intakes, through which we can spot a tweaked grille, which should, again, borrow inspiration from the brand's newer sedans.

We'll keep our eyes open for additional info and images of the facelifted Mercedes M-Class as its debut date continues to approach.

Image Credit: CarPix

Volkswagen says goodbye to Eos, Routan in 2015 updates

Posted Jul 23rd 2014 1:29PM

2015 Volkswagen Eos

Usually automakers announce changes to their lineup individually on a vehicle-by-vehicle basis, but sometimes it all comes at once – especially when the changes are ones we either expected or might not otherwise notice. That's the path Volkswagen has gone with changes to its US lineup for 2015.

The biggest change is what we already knew: that the new Golf arrives for the 2015 model year, bringing with it the new GTI, Golf R, e-Golf and Golf SportWagen (to replace the previous Jetta wagon). But there are some new details as well.

For starters, Volkswagen has finally confirmed that both the Eos and the Routan – both long rumored to be on their way out – will be exiting this year. The Eos hardtop convertible, pictured above, will linger for one last year, its Sport trim replaced by a new Final Edition with 18-inch wheels, two-tone leather interior and enhanced equipment.

Meanwhile the Routan, which hasn't actually been built in over a year, is finally dead, as VW confirms it has dropped the Chrysler-built minivan from its lineup for 2015 altogether. The German automaker has also confirmed that the Touareg is getting a facelift early in the new year, which we expect will closely follow the revisions revealed a few months ago ahead of the Beijing Motor Show.

Finally VW has announced an upgrade to its 2.0-liter TDI. Fitted to the Golf, Jetta, Passat and Beetle, the updated diesel gets 10 more horsepower with output now up to 150 hp and 236 pound-feet of torque. Scope out the full list of announcements in the press release below.
Related Gallery2015 Volkswagen Eos
2015 Volkswagen Eos2015 Volkswagen Eos2015 Volkswagen Eos2015 Volkswagen Eos2015 Volkswagen Eos2015 Volkswagen Eos

News Source: Volkswagen

Chicago red-light cameras under fire for unexplained ticket spikes [w/videos]

Posted Jul 23rd 2014 1:01PM

Red Light Cameras

Chicago may once have been known as the home of the mob in US with Al Capone running things, but for several years in the 2000s it looks like a completely legal racket may have made the city millions. A recent Chicago Tribune investigation has turned up some disturbing data about how the Windy City's network of red-light cameras used to be operated that may have given out thousands of bogus tickets.

Until 2013, Chicago had a contract with a company called Redflex Traffic Systems to operate its red-light cameras. If they caught someone running the light, the video was supposed to be reviewed twice, and if accurate, the driver received a $100 fine. Redflex and the city each took a portion of the money. However, their arrangement came to an abrupt end when it was eventually discovered that the company was bribing a city official. According to the Chicago Tribune, since 2003, the government netted around $500 million in revenue from the cams.

The new investigation found that drivers might have been getting the worst end of that deal. The Chicago Tribune examined four million red-light tickets going back to 2007. It found massive spikes in the numbers of infractions at several intersections that would last for short periods of time. In one extreme case, a camera that usually ticketed one person per day shot up to 56 per day.

To make matters more confusing, the cameras would occasionally stop giving out tickets for a brief period before and after these spikes. According to the report, that could have indicated maintenance being done, but the city didn't have any record of it. In some cases, the yellow-light times would also decrease during the spikes by as much as a second, as well.

Chicagoans affected by the bad tickets may not be completely out of luck, though. As a result of the Tribune story, a group of city aldermen opened their own investigation. "We want to find out what went wrong, and we want to see refunds where the ticket was wrongly issued," said alderman Scott Waguespack to the paper.

Separately, at about the same time the report was published, a Chicago man filed a federal lawsuit against Redflex and its parent company that asks for $100 million in refunds to drivers, according to CBS News. The case has nothing to do with the ticket spikes; instead, the man claims that the company's alleged bribery makes its contract with the city fraudulent.

Scroll down to watch three videos from the Chicago Tribune explaining what happened and speaking to traffic experts.

News Source: Chicago Tribune - sub. req. [1], [2], CBS Local Chicago, Chicago Tribune via YouTube [1], [2], [3]

Image Credit: Mel Evans / AP Photo

Subaru WRX STI vs. Audi S3 in compact AWD dustup

Posted Jul 23rd 2014 12:33PM

Subaru WRX STI versus the Audi S3 Sedan

It's not every day that a Subaru and an Audi can be reasonably compared head-to-head; the two brands tend not to compete directly in their respective segments. However, the latest WRX STI and the S3 Sedan offer the perfect chance to find out if the working-class Scooby can beat its upper-crust competitor.

The UK's Auto Express gets behind the wheel of these two all-wheel drive performance sedans, or saloons as the Brits call them. Across the pond, both of them are rated at an identical 296 horsepower, but the Subaru edges out the Four Rings on torque. Like in the US, British buyers have to pay a little more to get the Audi, but it comes with a nicer interior and more brand cachet, if that means anything to you.

The video starts out with a fairly standard road test comparing the two of them back-to-back – all fairly subjective. But then Auto Express takes the trip to the drag strip, and the results there are much more conclusive. There's a definite winner when they cross the line, but you have to scroll down to see which of these turbocharged models with rallying heritage wins out.

News Source: Auto Express via YouTube

Image Credit: Subaru, Audi

2014 Nissan Juke Nismo RS

Jukiest Juke Packs Turbo Punch, Cheap Thrills

Posted Jul 23rd 2014 11:57AM

2014 Nissan Juke Nismo RS

As a point of love-it or hate-it styling, the Nissan Juke is king. As a weird, samurai-bullfrog-looking compact crossover with handling chops and a gutsy powertrain, it also has one of the bravest inclusions of a manual transmission in recent memory. It's funky, unmistakable, polarizing and actually pretty neat. Okay, so even though the back seats have a surprising amount of legroom, it's like sitting in a cave, and the sightlines out the back are challenging – every frog needs a few warts. But those matter less when the amphibian gets a big wet kiss from the Nismo princess.

Enter the 2014 Juke Nismo RS. The Jukiest Juke, with many new bits to make looking at, driving, and being inside it a more exciting experience, is the top of the heap for the model line, positioned above the regular Juke Nismo. I put one through its paces in Nissan's American homeland of Tennessee and came away with a few quick impressions.

Driving Notes
  • I don't care who knows it: I think this Nissan looks cool. The red highlights on the fascia, side skirts, mirrors and brakes pop. Styling changes advance the latent aggression already baked into the Juke. It looks meaner, more playful and confidently ridiculous. The bugeye headlights seem to work better with this front-end treatment and the always-on, low-mounted LED accents look great on the road. It goes without saying that this isn't a car for everyone.
  • One of the great crimes of the turbo direct-injected era is an incomprehensible crusade against turbo whoosh. It's delightfully present in the Nismo RS. This is a breathed-upon version of the standard 1.6-liter direct-injected, turbocharged four-cylinder. Most of the grunt comes through ECU tweaks, but there are upgraded connecting rods and a dual-mass flywheel for smoother revs. At 215 horsepower, It makes 27 hp over the standard Juke, and comes packed with 210 pound-feet of torque, a useful 33 lb-ft bonus over stock. (Of course, that's only if you opt for front-wheel drive – AWD models reduce these numbers to 211 hp and 184 lb-ft). Strapped to it is an upgraded six-speed manual with a beefier clutch and housing, plus lower gear ratios for first through third.
  • This is a powertrain that requires full driver engagement for maximum performance. Turbo lag is real here, so keep on the juice, pick the right gear, and this Juke RS will punch far above its weight. Fall short and you're stuck in no-boost-town, slowly pulling away from the stoplight. Do pay attention to drive mode though; Normal, Sport, and Eco have real effects on throttle response and steering effort. By the way, its EPA numbers are pegged at 25/31/27 miles per gallon, city/highway/combined.
  • My example was a front-wheel-drive, manual transmission model. This means it retains the torsion-beam axle of the standard Juke (all-wheel drive goes multi-link) and doesn't get the inside-wheel-braking torque vectoring system of the AWD Nismo RS. There are a raft of other goodies though: chassis bracing, stiffer springs, more aggressive dampers, a lower ride height, recalibrated electric power steering, 0.9-inch bigger brakes up front and an upgrade to vented discs from drums at the back. Just-right 18-inch wheels wearing 225-width ContiSportContact5 summer tires round out the chassis goodies.
  • On the road and around a corner, this little beasty is indistinguishable from a classic hot hatch. Expect gobs of torque steer if you're goofy with the throttle while twitching the steering wheel, but play it smart and the reward is prodigious cornering, snappy steering, predictable and progressive understeer limits and just a fun all-around character. The ride is much more our style too; the standard Juke can feel a touch too soft, this feels German – just enough road feel without punching you in the kidneys.
  • Nissan shows once again that it knows what it's doing when designing a sporting manual transmission. Quick, notchy, great gear spread. We could row through those gates all day.
  • For the Juke's interior, Nissan has given its Nismo team the good drugs. There is a stark difference when stepping from a base Juke into the Nismo RS. Rather than climbing into soft seats, you slide across rigid thigh bolsters and drop down into some of the most racecar-like Recaro chairs on the road right now. Nissan admits they eat up a healthy portion of the almost $7,000 premium over the base vehicle, but they're worth it. Along with the suede seats, the Nismo RS has faux suede on the wheel, gauge hood, rear seats and door panels. The gauges are red. It's neato.
  • The real-time digital torque gauge (and drive info in screen general) is placed down low on the center stack, well below the safe line of sight. It would be fun to see them dance around. A bit disappointing.
  • The most unfair part of our drive was being nowhere near a closed course or a racetrack. It feels like there's a lot more to learn here, but not on public streets.
A common practice on these kinds of drives is to play the pricing game. The Price is Right rules apply, he who gets closest without going over wins. With the 2014 Juke Nismo RS, almost everybody we spoke with went over. $30,000-32,000 was the price most pegged this little devil with, yet its base price is $26,120 and ours came in at $28,345 with options. That seems eye-watering when a basic Juke runs $19,170, but this is so different as to be barely recognizable. Against rivals like the Ford Fiesta ST (let alone larger, heavier cars like the Focus ST and Volkswagen Golf GTI), the Nismo RS costs a bit more. However, it has the higher seating position many customers prefer, plus a lot more visual chutzpah. The RS is by no means a perfectly behaved performer, but it's a ton of fun, and that's what really counts.

Vital Stats

Engine:
Turbo 1.6L I4
Power:
215 HP / 210 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Manual
Base Price:
$26,120
As-Tested Price:
$28,345

News Source: Copyright 2014 Ben Wojdyla / AOL

Odds of dying in a traffic accident depend on which state you reside in

Posted Jul 23rd 2014 11:29AM

Speeding car passing fatal traffic accident sign.

Motorists in Massachusetts and Washington DC can breathe easier on their afternoon commutes today. Their chances of dying in a traffic accident are the lowest in the nation. Drivers in West Virginia, South Carolina and North Dakota, on the other hand, may want to be especially vigilant. They're collectively navigating some of the deadliest roads in the United States.

Your odds of dying in a traffic accident depend a lot on where you live. Michael Sivak, a researcher at the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute, has analyzed federal traffic data, and found a wide disparity in the fatality rates across individual US states and the District of Columbia.

Washington D.C. and Massachusetts ranked first and second in both lists of the safest states.

The data can be parsed two ways, either by measuring deaths per distance driven or the number of deaths measured relative to state population.

Measuring in terms of vehicle miles traveled, West Virginia has the highest fatality rate in the nation. It has a rate of 17.63 deaths per billion vehicle miles traveled, more than four times the rate of deaths found in the District of Columbia, where there are only 4.2 deaths per billion vehicle miles traveled. The national average is 11.3 fatalities per billion vehicle miles traveled.

Measuring in terms of death per population, there's even more of a disparity between the safest and most dangerous states. Washington DC has a fatality rate of 2.37 per 100,000 people. Residents in the worst state, North Dakota, are more than 10 times more likely to die, with a per-100,000-population rate of 24.3. (By population, the national average is 10.69 deaths per 100,000).

Overall, residents of the Northern Plains states and South have the worst fatality rates. Washington DC and Massachusetts ranked first and second in both lists of the safest states, and Minnesota, Connecticut, Washington, New Jersey and California all were among the top 10 on both lists. Among the most dangerous states, Oklahoma, Mississippi, North Dakota, West Virginia, South Carolina and Montana all ranked in the bottom 10 on both lists.

There are differences between the two lists, but the general results are similar: the safest states rank high on either list, and the more dangerous states fall toward the bottom in both cases.

Several factors shape the fatality rates, though Sivak cautions he has not attempted to discern their influences in this study. Generally speaking, "you can look at what speed limits are there, what kind of topography," he said. "What is the proportion of urban versus rural? What are the alcohol-enforcement policies? What is the age distribution of drivers? It goes on and on."

Dangers posed by rural roads can be especially acute. The consequence of a collision at high speeds, of course, are much greater than at lower city speeds, and factors like alcohol use, reduced visibility and drowsy driving can differ along urban-rural lines. Response time from emergency workers can also be longer.

Though there are many less vehicle miles traveled overall on rural roads, which are defined by specific population and density standards set by the Federal Highway Administration, they were home to 54 percent of traffic deaths in 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics.

Where does your state rank? Click through to see.

BMW predicts 2 Series Active Tourer will have 75% conquest rate

Posted Jul 23rd 2014 11:01AM

BMW 2 Series Active Tourer

In the last few years, BMW has definitively proven that it wasn't a slave to its legacy. In the US, the 3 Series was generally associated with smooth, flat-six engines, but the Bavarian brand dropped a four-cylinder turbo into it. The company was also known for its sports sedans, and it went green with the i3 and i8. Now, rear-wheel drive is off the table as defining its vehicles, as well. With the imminent launch of the 2 Series Active Tourer, the Bavarian's models are going front drive and opening up themselves to a whole new group of customers, so the thinking goes.

"We are expecting the Active Tourer will have a conquest rate of around 75 percent," said Frank Niederlaender, a BMW product manger, to Automotive News Europe. If you're not hip to the lingo, that means three quarters of the hatchback's buyers would come from other brands – an impressive figure, if accurate.

When it hits the road, the 2 Series Active Tourer will be the first BMW-branded vehicle to use the company's UKL front-wheel drive platform, already on the current Mini Cooper. The roomy hatchback is aimed at young families looking for a car that is luxurious but can still tote around the tots. It launches in Europe in September to compete against similar models like the Mercedes-Benz B-Class, but the Bimmer isn't crossing the Atlantic to the US until early 2015, according to ANE.

Of course, the 2 Series Active Tourer is just step one of BMW's front-wheel drive future. A plug-in hybrid version is already testing, and the next X1 moves to the same platform, too. According to ANE, a three-row Active Tourer is also in the works, which is possibly related to the recently spied new CUV.
ETC

LaFerrari buyer drives dream collection back to Maranello [w/video]

Posted Jul 23rd 2014 10:30AM

Ferrari 288 GTO, F40, LaFerrari, Enzo and F50

We'd find it hard to feel bad for someone who "has to" choose between the latest crop of hybrid hypercars. After all, the Porsche 918 Spyder, McLaren P1 and Ferrari LaFerrari are each awesome in their own right. But for one buyer, the choice was a no-brainer: it was the Prancing Horse all along. Not because he couldn't get his hands on the Porsche or the McLaren – though we're sure each is in higher demand than there will be supply – but because he's already bought each of its predecessors.

That very fortunate buyer is one Jon Hunt. His collection already includes a 288 GTO, an F40, an F50 and an Enzo – each in red, naturally – so when it came time to pick up his new LaFerrari, he drove down from London to Maranello, bringing his sons, a few friends and each of his F-cars (as the tifosi call them) along for the ride.

The result, as you can see for yourself from the photos above and the video below, is one very compelling and drool-inducing family photo. It's not every day, after all, that you see any of these cars on the road – let alone together in one place.
Related GalleryLaFerrari family portrait
LaFerrari family portraitLaFerrari family portraitLaFerrari family portraitLaFerrari family portrait

News Source: Ferrari

Unplugged Performance sweetens the look of your Tesla Model S for around $6,000

Posted Jul 23rd 2014 9:59AM

Tesla Model S with Unplugged Performance Tuner Kit

Tesla electric vehicles are no strangers to the tuner set. Saleen is working on a modified Model S. Brabus once offered neon for your Roadster. And new we find a number of body panel upgrades for the Model S from Unplugged Performance.

Unplugged Performance has its offices right by the Tesla's Supercharger in Hawthorne, CA, and sales manager Mark Borushko told AutoblogGreen that Tesla employees often express their appreciation for what UP has done to change the look of the Model S. The upgrade parts are made in the US and were designed in-house by an ex-Ferrari guy, Borushko said.

What upgrades are there? There's the front spoiler and diffuser (starting at $995), the rear spoiler and diffuser ($1,550), trunk spoiler ($895), side skirts ($1,450) and the Complete Front Fascia System ($1,000). Those prices are all for the unpainted parts. Add a few hundred bucks to each to upgrade to matching paint colors or carbon fiber parts. Borushko said that in the year that Unplugged Performance has been around, they've sold about 30 kits – meaning one of everything – worldwide. There are people who just buy just the trunk spoiler, for example, he said, but about 90 percent of UP's customers opt for the full kit. Borushko said UP will have to see if there's interest in a kit for the Model X, but there likely will be.

Unplugged Performance is a part of Bulletproof Automotive, which offers upgrades for all sorts of vehicles. The Unplugged Performance phone number is the same as the one for Tesla Everything, so we're pretty sure someone over there is a big Model S fan.

News Source: Unplugged Performance via Teslarati

How cars are being exported individually and why carmakers are upset about it

Posted Jul 23rd 2014 9:15AM

A Mercedes Benz car stands in front of a

Cars are expensive in China, especially if they happen to wear the badge of a prestigious manufacturer. As we've pointed out before, the price of a Range Rover over in the People's Republic sits at the equivalent of about $450,000, despite its US starting price of $84,225. In addition to that princely sum, many customers shell out an additional $80,000 as part of what we imagine is an exceptionally profitable reservation system for new vehicle allocations.

Considering this, the increase in the number of companies exporting vehicles from US dealerships to China has become big business, and it's not difficult to understand why. Take our $450K Range Rover, for example. Not including shipping, an imported model is selling for a mere $241,480, according to Automotive News. Even assuming a ridiculously exorbitant shipping price, there's still over $200,000 in savings.

These companies hire individuals to purchase the cars or SUVs from high-end dealerships via cashier's check. The individuals are then paid a delivery charge for dropping the car at the exporters. It's big business, with one company, Efans Trading, exporting 2,000 cars at a value of $80 million back in 2012. But exporters aren't exactly in the good graces of automakers.

Manufacturers have issued severe punishments, ranging from fines to loss of bonuses to nullification of franchise agreements, for dealerships that both knowingly and unknowingly deal with exporters. After all, if the manufacturer is operating in the targeted country, these exporters are essentially taking money out of their pockets. For dealers, though, the appeal is clear: cars are being purchased at cost, with relatively little hassle, making export sales a profitable gamble.

For exporters this practice is coming with increased risks, too. The US Secret Service has cracked down on known exporters, seizing cars slated for export as well as funds. Efans Trading, for example, had millions of dollars and dozens of vehicles seized, USSS Special Agent Morgan Morgan told AN.

Unsurprisingly considering the amount of money at stake, exporters have lawyered up.

"What you have is the federal government protecting foreign manufacturers' profit margins," Josh Widlansky, a Florida lawyer representing one of the groups targeted by the USSS, told AN. "You have totally noncriminal conduct that the government is criminalizing because of these private contracts between the manufacturers and the dealerships."

What do you think? Should dealers face punishments from manufacturers for dealing with exporters? Should exporters be hounded by federal agents? Have your say in Comments.

News Source: Automotive News - sub. req.

Image Credit: Patrik Stollarz / AFP / Getty Images

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