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What you missed on 12.17.14

Posted Dec 17th 2014 7:33PM

uturn

Mercedes S63 AMG Coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Coupe driven

There's a whole lot to love about the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe – it's sexy, powerful, and immensely comfortable. We've already driven the standard S550 with its 4.7-liter, twin-turbo V8, but now, managing editor Jeremy Korzeniewski gets behind the wheel of the far more potent S63 AMG Coupe. Beauty, brains, and a hell of a lot of brawn. Read all about it, here.




Acura NSXProduction Acura NSX confirmed for Detroit

Finally. No, FINALLY. After seeing several conceptual versions of the long-awaited Acura NSX, the production version will officially show itself at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show next month. For now, Acura has released a few teaser images and a short video about its super coupe, and to say we're on the edge of our seats would be a vast understatement. Bring it on.




lexus fLexus teases new Detroit-bound F model

In more Detroit Auto Show hotness, Lexus has given us a glimpse of something fast that'll make its debut next month. Honestly, we aren't totally sure what to expect here – some sources say GS F, while others report IS F. Either way, it's an F-badged something-or-other, and we'll know more once the Detroit show officially kicks off in just a few weeks.




Top Stories

New Toyota Mirai videos continue questionable hydrogen claims

Posted Dec 17th 2014 7:00PM

2016 Toyota Mirai in White

"Toyota engineers were simultaneously working on a brand new technology that met all the driver's needs with an even smaller carbon footprint."

Toyota has released a number of new promotional videos for the hydrogen-powered 2016 Mirai. Most are exactly what you'd expect: pretty, full of promise and vaguely informational. But there was one line in the Product Introduction video that caught out ear.

In the Product Information video about the Mirai, the narrator goes into a short history of Toyota's green car advances. After talking about the Prius and the Prius Plug In, making EVs for urban commuting and the rest of Toyota's advanced fuel programs, we hear this: "Never satisfied though, Toyota engineers were simultaneously working on a brand new technology that met all the driver's needs with an even smaller carbon footprint, one that took its lead from nature itself." You can watch the video (and four others) below.

Plug In America co-founder Paul Scott told AutoblogGreen, "Show us the math! Toyota claims the FCV has a smaller carbon footprint than their EV, but every paper I've read indicates the FCV uses 3-4 times as much energy to travel a given distance as an EV. If they are making this claim, let's call them out to prove it. Show us the math!" There's some math that comes out in favor of EVs here and here.

"BEVs and FCs have a very similar carbon footprint, dependent on fuel source." – Toyota's Jana Hartline

Plug-in vehicle advocate Chelsea Sexton went further. "Assuming appropriate comparisons in energy feedstock, basic science doesn't support the notion that the footprint of an FCV is smaller than that of an EV," she told AutoblogGreen, explaining that "appropriate comparison" would mean using similar energy generation methods for both hydrogen and plug-in vehicles. Not the tendency, she noted, "of H2 fans to compare FCVs based on solar-based electrolysis to EVs running on coal-bases electricity and similar shenanigans." Besides, Sexton said, "focusing purely on efficiencies entirely misses the biggest struggles that FCVs face in the market, namely fuel price, inconvenience, and market fear, even if the vehicles themselves are initially subsidized. An average consumer won't understand the true energy equation, but even if not yet sold on a full EV, he'll grok that a Chevy Volt provides most of the "long range, fast fueling" promise of FCVs today at a fraction of the cost and no compromising."

Toyota says the video does not directly compare EVs to fuel cells. Instead, said environmental communications manager Jana Hartline, "The video outlines our portfolio of technologies that have been developed over the last 20 years (hybrids, PHVs, EV) then references the simultaneous development of fuel cell technology. The commentary is merely noting that 20 years ago we started working on fuel cell vehicles that have a lower carbon footprint than traditional vehicles and even hybrids. BEVs and FCs have a very similar carbon footprint, dependent on fuel source." Watch the video below (again, it's the Product Information one, and the quote above starts at around 1:45) to get your own take on what the comparison is.

Toyota, through its Lexus arm, had to retract a pro-hydrogen ad earlier this year when it was discovered that the ad made incorrect claims about H2, including that there were "20 states with an 'established infrastructure' for hydrogen."

News Source: Toyota, Plug In America, Chelsea Sexton

Here's how to get your mug on the world's fastest car*

Posted Dec 17th 2014 6:32PM

The Bloodhound SSC, trying to be the first car to go faster than 1,000 mph, front three-quarter view..

Next fall, the Bloodhound SSC will line up on a South African plain and try to go faster than 763 miles per hour, the current land speed record. If it does that, then it will try to break its own record one year later by going 1,000 miles per hour. The team behind the effort is running an Indiegogo campaign to raise 50,000 pounds ($78,251 US), and if you contribute, you can get your name or your sexy selfie on the navy blue flanks of the fastest car on the planet. (*You know, if it breaks the record.)

The money isn't just going to the speed effort; while they work on the car, the Bloodhound crew runs a thorough, hands-on education program that shows schoolkids how math and engineering can be more exciting than graph paper and scientific calculators.

You can donate any amount you wish, with 15 pounds enough to get your name on the tailfin, 50 pounds to get your school's name there, 500 pounds to nominate a business name and 1,000 pounds to have your Snapchatted face travel 1,000 mph. You know the cliche: it's all for a good cause, folks. But this time it's true. Check out the video to see more.

News Source: Bloodhound SSC via Indiegogo

Sacré bleu! PSA mulling moving Paris headquarters to cut costs

Posted Dec 17th 2014 6:00PM

FRANCE-TRANSPORT-PSA

PSA Peugeot Citroën has been based in its current offices, located less than half a mile from the iconic Arc de Triomphe in Paris, for a half century now. But the latest word has it that the French automaker is planning on leaving the historic location as part of its plans to cut costs.

According to Bloomberg, chief executive Carlos Tavares recently presented a plan to the company's supervisory board to abandon 75 Avenue de la Grande Armée for a new location about an hour away from the city. The headquarters would be moved to the company's assembly near Poissy, while around 500 of the 1,500 employees based at the headquarters would be moved elsewhere in the French capital.

The automaker – which produces vehicles under the Peugeot, Citroën and recently emancipated DS brands – is in the midst of a massive restructuring plan. It sold part of its shares to the French government and part to Chinese automaker Dongfeng at the expense of the founding Peugeot family, and named new top executives, including Tavares and board chairman Louis Gallois, formerly of Airbus, pictured above in front of the headquarters building.

The aforementioned restructuring also resulted in PSA sell the building in question back in 2012 for over $300 million – it has been leasing it back for 50 million euros (>$60M) per year. If the move goes ahead, it would be implemented gradually through the end of 2016.

News Source: Bloomberg

Image Credit: Eric Piermont / AFP / Getty

Mercedes-Benz USA considering moving south

Posted Dec 17th 2014 5:31PM

MBUSA HQ in Montvale, NJ

Mercedes-Benz may be a German automaker first and foremost, but it's a global operation. Among its many offices around the world, the company employs some 800 staffers at its US headquarters in New Jersey. But that office could be moving down South in the near future.

According to reports in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the Wall Street Journal and Automotive News, Mercedes is looking into relocating its American head office from Montvale, NJ, where it's been based since 1972, to one of several locations under consideration below the Mason-Dixon line.

Among the front-runners is Atlanta, where Porsche bases its North American operations. The presence of a trained workforce, necessary infrastructure, compliant officials and proximity to a major hub for international air traffic could make the Georgian metropolis an attractive proposition for Mercedes. Several locations in North Carolina are also said to be under consideration, as well.

Either way, MBUSA's relocation to the South would put it closer to its assembly plant in Tuscaloosa, AL, and to the Port of Brunswick near Savannah from which it ships out those vehicles made in Alabama to points overseas. The relocation project is reportedly being handled by commercial real-estate firm JLL Inc, which is helping Toyota handle its relocation from southern California and Ohio to Texas.

Sources don't expect, however, for New Jersey to let Mercedes go without a fight. The state's Grow NJ Assistance Program could offer MBUSA an attractive incentives package to stay in Montvale. The company previously planned in 1998 to relocate to Pearl River, NY, but ultimately ended up staying in Jersey.

2016 Nissan Titan gets video teaser ahead of Detroit debut

Posted Dec 17th 2014 5:01PM

Nissan Titan Frame

The Detroit Auto Show is going to be quite an event for pickup fans thanks to introductions of the new Toyota Tacoma and at least the rumor about the future F-150 Raptor. In addition to them, Nissan will finally unveil its next-gen Titan after months of teasing and spied glimpses.

With just a few weeks before the big show, Nissan is giving us one more glimpse of the new Titan on video. This time the company plays up the pickup's American development, but the highlight for fans are the brief shots of its frame and Cummins 5.0-liter diesel V8. The engine is rumored to pump out over 300 horsepower and about around 550 pound-feet of twist. Check out the clip above another chance to see just a little more of the next Titan.

News Source: Nissan Newsroom via YouTube

How Nissan's NYC Taxi of Tomorrow has turned into a nightmare

Posted Dec 17th 2014 4:30PM

Nissan NV200 Taxi of Tomorrow

"Why can't we have competition? Why did the city think there had to be exclusivity?" – Taxi Association

Nissan's takeover of the lucrative New York City taxi market hasn't exactly gone according to script. An agreement that should have seen the company become the exclusive supplier of taxis for the next ten years has resulted in nothing but headaches, controversy and legal challenges, despite the $1 billion deal between the Japanese marque and the Big Apple.

The opposition to the Nissan deal has been fierce since day one, Automotive News reports in a sweeping writeup of the Taxi of Tomorrow saga, with the Greater New York Taxi Association – which represents nearly a third of the city's taxi owners – putting up a fight against the new van cabs.

Whether it's the monopolistic nature of the Nissan deal – as we said, under the terms of the deal Nissan would become the sole distributor of taxis for New York cabbies – the NV200 taxi's limited reliability record, or concerns over the company's ability to supply the cabs, the Taxi Association has fought tooth and nail against the so-called Taxi of Tomorrow, AN reports.

"Look, Nissan is a good company. And the NV200 is not a bad car. If it turns out that people like it, then great – they should be able to sell them here," Ethan Gerber, an attorney for the Taxi Association told Automotive News. "But why can't we have competition? Why did the city think there had to be exclusivity? It stifles competition and stops innovation."

"Why couldn't we just have standards for the taxi, and if Toyota and Ford wanted to offer an identical vehicle that might be somehow better or more competitive, why can't they?" Gerber asked.

News Source: Automotive News - sub. req.

Image Credit: Nissan

2016 Toyota Tacoma teased again

Posted Dec 17th 2014 3:59PM

2016 Toyota Tacoma Front Teaser

Toyota is following up its muddy teaser of the back of the 2016 Tacoma with a dusty new one that shows the truck's face for the first time. Without seeing more of the pickup, it's impossible to make any educated judgments, but the company appears to be taking the Taco's styling in a new direction.

The 2016 Tacoma features a hexagonal grille outlined in chrome and a narrow intake underneath visually connecting the foglights. The headlights take on a squinting look, and this shot suggests LED running lights at the outer edge (perhaps just for top-level trims). You can also just make out a bit boxier of a flare for the front fender.

The truckmaker hasn't announced anything about the Tacoma's powertrain, but we spied a prototype testing several months ago with a six-speed manual transmission. That one reportedly rode on a modified version of the current model's frame, as well. Toyota apparently has high hopes, though, because it's ramping up production at the Taco's factory in Mexico by 41 percent.

The truck debuts at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show on January 12, and you can read Toyota's to-the-point press release about it below.

News Source: Toyota

2016 Lincoln MKX spied in production form

Posted Dec 17th 2014 3:29PM

Lincoln MKX spy shots

We're getting our first quality look at the next-generation Lincoln MKX in production guise thanks to these fresh spy shots, and they suggest styling that hews very closely to the concept from earlier this year.

Compared to the showcar, the headlights aren't quite as well integrated into the grille, but these LED units still attempt to nicely wrap the split-wing grille across the entire face of the vehicle. Beyond that, the two vehicles quite similar, though. The shape of the lower air dam is practically identical – just with some extra plastic for the production version. The hint of a character line running down the side also makes the resemblance easy to spot, despite this tester's polka-dot camouflage. At the rear, the taillights stretch across the hatch with integrated exhaust outlets below. Even the twin-spoke wheels are comparable to the concept.

Also, look carefully at these spy shots, and you can notice Lincoln apparently testing two different trims. One has LED headlights with front and rear parking sensors (pictured above), and the other shows projector lights with the sensors only at the rear.

The next-gen MKX will launch in 2015 and will be the first model in Lincoln's lineup to benefit from the deal with Harman to use its high-end Revel audio system. Check out the gallery to get a mildly camouflaged sneak preview of the company's future luxury crossover.
Related GalleryLincoln MKX Spy Shots
Lincoln MKX Spy ShotsLincoln MKX Spy ShotsLincoln MKX Spy ShotsLincoln MKX Spy ShotsLincoln MKX Spy ShotsLincoln MKX Spy ShotsLincoln MKX Spy ShotsLincoln MKX Spy Shots

Image Credit: Chris Doane Automotive

Porsche's high-tech 'mirror' turns every car into a Macan

Posted Dec 17th 2014 3:01PM

A Porsche campaign puts a large screen at a valet stand in Los Angeles. As people drive up, they see themselves pulling up in a Porsche Macan.

Porsche calls it the "Magic Mirror," but it's less a reflective device and more 12 high-def screens that track drivers pulling into the valet area at a mall in Los Angeles. As they pass the screens in their cars, they get to see what they'd look like pulling up in a Macan, Porsche's newest and smallest crossover.

It could be considered the experiential evolution of a prior campaign that let people imagine how a Porsche would look in their driveways, an idea that was taken even further by a dealer in Toronto a few years later. Check out the video to see how it was done and how it was received.

News Source: Porsche via YouTube

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Seyth Miersma / AOL

Infiniti's Vision for Gran Turismo revealed in full [w/video]

Posted Dec 17th 2014 2:32PM

Infiniti Concept Vision Gran Turismo

Just about any car has to be designed with some sort of limitations, whether it's a production car that has to be usable on the road, a racecar that has to comply with regulations, or even a concept car that does, at the end of the day, actually need to be crafted out of real materials and wheeled onto a stage. But the Vision Gran Turismo series imposes no such limitations. Designed only for a virtual reality, the project allows for designers to craft a purely fantastical design whose limits fall barely short of their own imaginations. It presents companies with the opportunity to represent their brand as they want to, so it comes as little surprise that every automaker from here to Hong Kong has been lining up to take part. And the latest is Infiniti.

Previewed in a pair of teaser renderings barely over a week ago, the Infiniti Concept Vision Gran Turismo is a suitably striking addition to the virtual world of the Gran Turismo video game franchise. Designed at the company's Beijing studio, the brief calls for a 4.5-liter naturally aspirated V8 hybrid powertrain, with a front mid-ship layout driving a rear transaxle for ideal 45/55 front-rear weight distribution. Beyond that it's all flowing forms, extreme aero and signature Infiniti design cues like a widened version of the brand's trademark grille shape and the kink in the rear pillar.

It's got butterfly doors hinged ahead of those spindly mirrors, center-lock alloys crafted from carbon fiber, deeply sculpted aerodynamic elements, a large boomerang-shaped rear wing and aggressive long-hood/low greenhouse proportions. It's F1 meets GT, to hear Infiniti tell it, and whether you've got a PS3 and a copy of Gran Turismo 6 to play around with it or not, you can check it out in the images above and the video below.

News Source: Polyphony Digital

Alfa Romeo working on high-performance engines

Posted Dec 17th 2014 2:00PM

Alfa Romeo grille

During the big Fiat Chrysler Automobiles FCA US LLC announcement of its five-year plan earlier this year, the strategy for Alfa Romeo was easily summarized by brand boss Harald Wester: "Go back to the Alfa Romeo that people admired." Easier said than done. With the 4C as one step in that procedure, we might see the next when the company unveils its midsize sedan in June with a trio of new engines with up to 480 horsepower.

Anonymous sources at suppliers are already making some big claims about the new mills to Automotive News Europe. The top of the heap is reportedly a 2.9-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 making up to 480 hp, based on the 3.0-liter engine in the Maserati Quattroporte and Ghibli. Below it is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that's claimed to produce between 180 hp and 330 hp for rear- or all-wheel drive applications. Finally, there's potentially a 2.2-liter turbo-diesel four with between 135 hp and 210 hp.

Little has been officially announced about the midsize sedan, but it was possibly spied testing recently hidden under the body of a Ghibli. It was rumored to be rear-wheel drive with a size between the BMW 3 Series and 5 Series, and a high-performance GTA version was also speculated. According to ANE, the vehicle won't be called the Giulia and won't hit the market in the US until 2016.

In addition to the midsize model's engines, FCA is also reportedly working on an updated version of its 3.0-liter diesel V6 sourced from VM Motori with new 275-hp and 340-hp versions. They are likely slated for Alfa's future large sedan and SUV.

Lamborghini Asterion could still see showrooms

Posted Dec 17th 2014 1:31PM

Lamborghini Asterion, front three-quarter view.

At the 2014 Paris Motor Show, Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann told Maxim after the introduction of the stunning Asterion hybrid, "I strongly believe that this is not a car that will be in production, and we will not do it." However, the Asterion concept came more than a year after Winklemann told that same magazine, at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, that "Lamborghini was not interested in hybrids." He repeated the sentiment in Paris, saying, "We're still not interested."

Well, someone at Lamborghini (or the Volkswagen Group?) does appear to be interested. The company's head of R&D, Maurizio Reggiani, told Autocar the story of the Asterion's development "started a couple of years ago" and is still being carried out in order to understand a real world hybrid application that would satisfy Lamborghini brand values – meaning electric assistance for a naturally aspirated engine with a high cylinder count.

Reggiani never hints about the Asterion actually going on sale, but does tell Autocar, "The discussions inside Lamborghini now are about the potential cost of the car," and how it would be positioned. Having been told that it could sell for the price of the Aventador plus the hybrid drivetrain, Autocar figures an MSRP of 350,000 pounds ($551K US). The phrase "hybrid supercar" immediately brings three cracking coupes to mind, but the Asterion – were it to make production – wouldn't target that group; said Winklemann in that Maxim interview, "It's not meant to go on the racetrack. The acceleration is good, and the top speed, but in handling it would be out-beaten by the others. It's more a hyper-cruiser." We're fine with that, Mr. Winklemann – we think the Aston Martin Vanquish, Bentley Continental GT and Ferrari F12 Berlinetta could use the company. Bring it.

News Source: Autocar

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL

Honda Civic losing ground to Toyota Corolla, sales crown threatened

Posted Dec 17th 2014 1:00PM

Honda Civic

2014 Toyota CorollaOh, what a difference a year has made. When the numbers were tallied for 2013, the Honda Civic was riding high by claiming its segment's sales crown in the US despite being challenged by the latest generation of the Toyota Corolla for part of the year. However, with just a month to go in the battle for C-segment supremacy in 2014, it looks like Toyota gets to hoist the trophy this time.

Looking at November sales numbers, Honda moved 300,644 Civics through the first 11 months of the year, down 2.1 percent in volume. Furthermore, for the month alone, the company sold 23,060 Civics, a 12.3 percent drop. Meanwhile, on Toyota's side, business has been booming comparatively. Through the first 11 months it sold 309,373 Corollas, a 10.6 percent jump, and for November alone it moved 25,609 examples, a 14.2 percent improvement. With fewer than 10,000 cars between them, it would take quite a December slump for the Corolla to lose this fight.

According to The Truth About Cars, the Civic actually started out the 2014 somewhat positively with 5 percent growth over the previous year, though still behind the Corolla's figures. However, the Honda has seen a slide since then with five consecutive months of sales drops. Meanwhile, the Toyota has generally kept showing growth.

Being the newer model of the two, the Corolla comes to this fight with an advantage. Honda hasn't let the Civic languish; it gave the model a CVT in 2014 to boost fuel economy. That's nothing like the Toyota's thorough recent rethink, though.

According to TTAC, Honda does have reason to crow about the Civic, just not necessarily in the US. The model is on track to be the bestselling vehicle in Canada for the 17th consecutive year and have its best sales since 2008 there.
Related Gallery2013 Honda Civic
2013 Honda Civic2013 Honda Civic2013 Honda Civic2013 Honda Civic2013 Honda Civic2013 Honda Civic2013 Honda Civic2013 Honda Civic

News Source: The Truth About Cars

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