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Bentley to call its upcoming crossover Bentayga?

Posted Nov 25th 2014 5:57PM

Bentley SUV prototype

Development of Bentley's forthcoming utility vehicle is almost complete, and the British automaker has painted a vivid picture of what to expect: otherworldly luxurious, a range of powertrains including a twelve-pot and a hybrid, and a price tag that is sure to eclipse any other SUV or crossover on the market. One of the biggest questions still remaining, however, is what Bentley will call the thing, but we might have our answer right here.

According to Autovisie (the car section of Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf), Bentley has registered the name Bentayga – taken from a rock formation on Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands, that Spanish archipelago off the coast of Morocco.

The concept was originally showcased as the EXP 9 F. Though that handle was never expected to make it to production, the F supposedly stood for Falcon, leading to speculation that the final version would carry that name. But if the trademark application is anything to go by, we could be looking in the end at the Bentley Bentayga.
Related GalleryBentley SUV: Spy Shots
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News Source: Autovisie

Image Credit: CarPix

Autoblog Podcast #407

Michelin Challenge Bibendum, Toyota Mirai, Car and Driver 10Best

Posted Nov 25th 2014 5:45PM

Autoblog Podcast logo

Episode #407 of the Autoblog Podcast is here, and this week, Dan Roth, Steven Ewing, and Sebastian Blanco talk about the Michelin Challenge Bibendum, the Toyota Mirai, and the BMW 3 Series falling off the Car and Driver 10Best list. We start with what's in the Autoblog Garage and finish up with some of your questions, and for those of you who hung with us live on our UStream channel, thanks for taking the time. Check out the rundown below with times for topics, and you can follow along down below with our Q&A. Thanks for listening!

Autoblog Podcast #407:

play


Topics:
In The Autoblog Garage:
Hosts: Dan Roth, Steven Ewing, Sebastian Blanco
Runtime: 01:07:55

Rundown:
  • Intro and Garage - 00:00
  • Challenge Bibendum - 18:32
  • Toyota Mirai - 28:20
  • C/D 10Best - 44:52
  • Q&A - 53:52

Get the podcast:
[UStream] Listen live on Mondays at 10 PM Eastern at UStream
[iTunes] Subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes
[RSS] Add the Autoblog Podcast feed to your RSS aggregator
[MP3] Download the MP3 directly

Feedback:
Email: Podcast at Autoblog dot com

Review the show in iTunes

Here's why you shouldn't try to drift a Jeep Cherokee

Posted Nov 25th 2014 5:15PM

Jeep Cherokee drifter

There are many reasons why an XJ-generation (or really any other) Jeep Cherokee doesn't make for a good drift machine. It's tall, it's four-wheel-drive... it's a Jeep, okay? But someone apparently forgot to tell that to this guy.

Uploaded to LiveLeak, this video shows some poor schmuck who took his Cherokee to a (mostly) empty parking lot and tried to drift it. Needless to say, things didn't go quite as he planned, but they probably went exactly as you might have expected.

Thankfully, nobody appears to have been hurt. Or at least, we assume so, since the guy apparently survived to put the video up online.

News Source: LikeLeak via Jalopnik

Ferrari 458 Speciale buyers told to spec options to secure orders

Posted Nov 25th 2014 4:31PM

2015 Ferrari 458 Speciale

Want to get your hands on a Ferrari 458 Speciale? You're in good company, because demand for what could be the last naturally aspirated V8 supercar from Maranello is apparently soaring. As a result, some buyers who've already placed their orders are reportedly being "advised" to add on extra options or risk losing their place on the waiting list to someone who will.

The news comes from UK-based Magnitude Finance, whose director Tim Marlow said, "One client ordered the car many months ago but he was subsequently advised to increase the options he selected to guarantee delivery simply because others are prepared to go pay over the odds to get one new." Another Magnitude client was asked by the dealer "on five occasions to say others wanted to buy it if he changed his mind."

Reached for comment, Ferrari spokesperson Krista Florin told Autoblog: "As with any Ferrari, customization is offered as a service to make each car unique. However, there are no requirements in order to secure an order."

The options list on the 458 Speciale can add up fast. Active headlights add over $2,500 to the price, fitted luggage nearly $11k, leather interior and front lift system a solid $6k each and those NART stripes another $11k. Ordering items like the engine cover ($7.8k), rear diffuser ($9.6k) and outer sill cover ($10k) in carbon fiber can add to the $288k base price as quick as the Speciale can gather pace. That's how our recent tester ended up topping $336k – and that's if we could actually get one.

Part of the demand is surely coming from moneyed enthusiasts keen to take possession of one of the finest mid-engined supercars Ferrari has ever made, but the demand and values are surely being driven up as well by speculators. "Everyone we speak to sees this as the next appreciating model over the long-term like the 360 Challenge Stradale and 430 Scuderia 16M before it," added Marlow, "so demand is really high."

We can only imagine that demand has been even higher for the convertible version, as Ferrari will only make 499 examples of the 458 Speciale A, putting the roadster in an even more rarified class.

News Source: Magnitude Finance

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL

Lotus Evora update coming, new models still on hold

Posted Nov 25th 2014 3:45PM

Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales

The trials and tribulations at Lotus over the past several years haven't put the company in best financial position, and after the dismissal of Dany Bahar as CEO, the automaker seemed rudderless. Jean-Marc Gales (pictured above) is the new captain at the helm of the British sports car brand, and he seems like the complete opposite of Bahar. Where the former boss was hugely ambitious (perhaps overly), the current CEO has crafted a plan for a gradual turnaround under what he called a "logic-based" recovery in a recent interview with Autocar.

The most logical part of Gales' plan is focusing on what Lotus can actually do. Instead of launching new products, he wants to continue to refine the current lineup. "We won't have the funds to build all-new cars in the next few years," he said to Autocar.

The biggest of these updates includes a heavily revised Evora with more power and less weight to debut at next year's Geneva Motor Show. An even lighter-weight Cup model is planned for later. The Exige will get a revision in 2016. Gales also hints that a future, feather-light model like the 2-Eleven is on the docket, and a crossover is on the drawing board, according to Autocar, though not yet green lit. North America is also a priority.

Lotus is forever linked to founder Colin Chapman's axiom to add lightness to the brand's models, and Gales is continuing that history with the Lightweight Lab. According to Autocar, in this huge room the company's models are completely disassembled with each part labeled. The entire staff is invited to come in and make suggestions on places to reduce weight and lower costs.

"This brand is like a sleeping princess, but I believe she is starting to wake up," Gales said to Autocar, but he's keeping sales projections modest. Gales wants annual numbers to increase from about 2,000 units this year to 3,000 in 2015 with his streamlined workforce but intends to keep figures at that level for a bit, while the company stabilizes.

News Source: Autocar via The Motor Report

Image Credit: Lotus

Will copyright law stop you from working on your car in the near future?

Privacy Group Warns Tinkering Under Hood Could Violate DMCA

Posted Nov 25th 2014 2:59PM

FRANCE-AUTO-BUSINESS-WOMEN-OFFBEAT

"It gives manufacturers the power to control secondary markets by leveraging the copyright law, if it doesn't include enough of a safety valve." – Kit Walsh

Plan on repairing or modifying a car in the garage this weekend? You might want to first consult a copyright lawyer.

In a development that illustrates just how much cars have become mobile computers on wheels, a privacy group is warning mechanics and car enthusiasts that tinkering with the computers that run dozens of vehicle components, without a manufacturer's approval, may constitute a copyright violation.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit watchdog, says the Digital Millennium Copyright Act may prohibit modifying the code that runs these small computers, known as electronic control units (ECU). The organization is asking the US Copyright Office to exempt hobbyists and home mechanics from the law. In the petition, the EFF asks the office to eliminate the legal risks posed to vehicle owners who are "engaged in a decades-old tradition of mechanical curiosity and self-reliance."

Once every three years, the Copyright Office holds hearings to consider whether certain activities should be exempt from the DMCA's Section 1201, which restricts people from circumventing technological measures that control access to "protected works." No dates have yet been set, but a ruling is expected by mid-2015.

"The general principle at stake is that people who own a device are the ones in control of what it does, rather than be constrained to use it only in the way a manufacturer wants," says EFF staff attorney Kit Walsh. "The idea of ownership, in a way, is under threat when the law prevents you from altering a product in any way."

Image Credit: AFP / Getty

Mitsubishi Mirage sedan confirmed for US

Posted Nov 25th 2014 2:15PM

Mitsubishi Mirage

The Mitsubishi Mirage easily takes the cake as the worst new car I've driven in the last year. Actually, make that the worst new car I've driven in several years (Side Note: when was the last time I drove a Smart Fortwo?). But regardless of what I, or my colleagues, think about the Mirage, it's selling decently – Mitsubishi has moved over 14,000 of them so far this year, which is actually higher than the company initially expected. And now, we've got official confirmation that the sedan version is headed our way.

This isn't really shocking, considering earlier reports, but Motor Trend received further confirmation of the Mirage sedan's arrival during last week's Los Angeles Auto Show. There's no official timing as to when the sedan will arrive, and when I reached out for comment, a Mitsubishi spokesperson said of this report, "Yep. Confirmed."

So, yeah, the Mirage sedan is headed our way. It'll probably come in somewhere around the low, low $12,995 price of the hatchback, and hopefully, it'll be better to drive than its more versatile hatchback sibling. And hey, if it can help Mitsubishi build sales momentum here in the US, then that's a win, right?

News Source: Motor Trend

Saleen says it's out of money, owes millions

Posted Nov 25th 2014 1:30PM

Saleen Four Sixteen

Saleen Automotive is best known for building hot numbers including countless tuned Ford Mustang muscle cars, and more recently, for offering a custom version of the Tesla Model S. Unfortunately, the company needs a huge infusion of cash even faster than its cars if it wants to stay on the road beyond the end of the year. In a new Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Saleen admits that its financial situation is dire, and it has just $7,261 in cash sitting in the bank as of September 30.

That lack of liquidity is just the very tip of the iceberg. According to Jalopnik, poring over the SEC documents reveals that Saleen Automotive owes $5,634,841, which includes about $500,000 in payroll taxes. Over $1 million of those bills are at least 90 days overdue, and the business expects to default on $398,176 owed to the bank unless an extension is granted. The money just isn't coming in to pay for all of this, either. Revenue is down by half, and Saleen is posting quarterly losses in the millions.

With just $668,629 in assets, the numbers don't balance out. Saleen is hoping to find a buyer to inject the millions needed to save it from going under but admits in the SEC filing: "These factors raise substantial doubt about the company's ability to continue as a going concern."

Steve Saleen re-acquired the rights to the Saleen name in 2012 after a high-profile court battle. Publicly, the company appeared to be doing at least somewhat well, continuing to introduce the muscle cars for which it is known, as well as expanding its offerings into the world of electric cars with an eye toward the future. Clearly, based on this SEC filing, however, things are looking dire for the well-known outfit.

News Source: Jalopnik

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL

Chaos ensues in pileup at Macau tin-top race

Posted Nov 25th 2014 12:44PM

Pileup during Chinese Racing Cup race in Macau

Touring car grids around the world have been growing at suitably rapid pace. The British Touring Car Championship has been fielding record numbers of entries, DTM and V8 Supercars both have more manufacturers participating than they have had in years, the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship has brought several national series together on one grid.... we could go on, but you get the point. And nothing illustrates that point quite like this pileup at this year's Macau Grand Prix.

The premier event in Formula 3 racing is held on the streets of China's version of Monte Carlo or Las Vegas and includes numerous support races. Among those are the World Touring Car Championship, a motorcycle race and the Chinese Racing Cup. It's during that tin-top race – campaigned by a field of 26 identical BAIC Senova D70s – that this massive pileup ensued.

We won't spoil it by giving you a play-by-play, but if you fast-forward to about the 45-second mark you can watch the nobody-got-hurt hilarity unfold before your very eyes. Be sure to add some mental Benny Hill Theme music for the full effect.

News Source: AlphaRT via YouTube, CarBuzz

2016 Smart Forfour

Posted Nov 25th 2014 11:58AM

2016 Smart ForFour

The Fortwo always has been – and always will be – the prototypical Smart car. While it has been far and away the brand's best seller, it's not the only model to to wear the moniker. A decade ago, Smart rolled out the larger Forfour, but like the brand's other models that have come and gone, it wasn't much of a success. Now, Smart is back and taking another stab at it with the introduction of this all-new Forfour. And this time, we think it's in a much better position to succeed.

Where the previous model shared its underpinnings, production line and front-engined layout with the Mitsubishi Colt, the new Forfour was co-developed with – and will be produced alongside – the new Renault Twingo we drove recently. Like its predecessor (and its contemporary French cousin), the new Forfour is not presently earmarked to be offered in America. But curiosity got the better of us when we were offered the chance to drive it back to back with the Fortwo upon their launch in Barcelona.

Driving Notes
  • Like the smaller Fortwo, the new Forfour will be offered with a choice of two three-cylinder engines mounted all the way at the back: a normally aspirated 999cc engine (available in 59- or 70-horsepower states of tune) and a 898cc turbo kicking out 89 hp. Either engine can be mated to either a five-speed manual or six-speed dual-clutch transmission (save for the lowest spec, which can only be had with the manual).
  • We sampled the top-spec model, fitted with the same turbo engine as the Fortwo we'll get in the States, sending 89 hp and 100 pound-feet of torque through the five-speed manual straight down to the rear wheels.
  • The Forfour's (relatively) great mass means that, even with forced induction, it still takes 11.2 seconds to reach 62 miles per hour from a standstill. That's a 0.8 seconds behind the Fortwo with the same powertrain, but a solid 4.7 seconds quicker than the next (naturally aspirated) version down. It hardly felt rapid, but it kept pace just fine with European city traffic.
  • Regardless of spec, however, the rear-engined layout it shares with the Fortwo and Twingo makes the new Smart Forfour exceptionally agile. That it felt any less scrappy than the Fortwo is a testament only to the latter's agility, because compared to anything else on the road, the new Forfour will change direction like a frightened street cat. Not only does it have a less pogo-ey ride than the Fiat Panda (one of its natural competitors), it'll turn around in just 29.4 feet, which makes it almost as nimble as the previous Fortwo's 28.7-foot turning circle. (Still not quite as tight as the Fortwo's 24-foot circle.) That's the kind of maneuverability that can, for a Smart driver, make the three-point-turn a thing of the past and parallel parking a cinch in even the tightest spots.
  • The new Smart Forfour will also physically fit into a smaller spot than just about anything available Stateside. At 137.4 inches long, it's not only shorter than any four- or five-door sold in America, it's more compact than most any two- or three-door hatchback, too. It's over two inches shorter (if you can believe it) than a Fiat 500, and nearly ten inches shorter than the old Forfour. In fact, the only thing you'll find in a US showroom with a smaller footprint (aside from the Fortwo) is the Scion iQ. Or a scooter.
  • Despite the compact dimensions, Smart has managed to fit in four seats and four doors. The cabin is not what you might call "spacious," of course, but Daimler engineers have been at least as creative as their counterparts from Renault in maximizing the available space.
  • Not only can the rear seat backs fold flat to create a level load surface capable of swallowing up more than 34 cubic feet of stuff, the rear seat bottoms (which conceal a cargo compartment in the Twingo) can also flip over to a lower position to fit taller items in the back seat of the Forfour. Even the front passenger seat folds forward to make for a 7.2-foot loading length for long items (or a napping space for a basketball player), and though the Forfour loses the Fortwo's split tailgate, the rear doors open nearly 90 degrees to facilitate access.
  • Like other four-door city cars, those rear doors include only pop-out vents instead of roll-down windows, but the Forfour has other ways of letting in the light and fresh air: our tester was fitted with an optional double panoramic glass roof, and while the two-door cabrio is still in the works, the four-door can also be equipped with an electric folding fabric roof panel. Trim and features are otherwise just like the Fortwo – which is to say refreshing and full of personalization options – only with an extra pair of seats and doors in the back.
  • The addition of those extra doors and the longer wheelbase they entail does not do the Forfour any favors in the styling department, though. Daimler's designers apparently tried to translate the Fortwo's rounded-box styling to the Forfour, but while it looks better than the previous duck-billed model of 2004, we're of the opinion that Renault did a better job at styling the Twingo than Smart did the Forfour. But that's a matter of personal preference.
The question we're left with after driving any overseas model is whether or not it should be offered in the States. And with the Smart Forfour, we're just not sure one way or the other. On the one hand, the added usability could stand to attract some new buyers who might be enticed by the idea of frugal, no-more-than-what-you-need transportation – especially if offered as part of the Car2Go car-sharing program – but turned off by the notion of having little more than two seats and a glovebox at their disposal. On the other, the Forfour's pedestrian pace and questionable styling may turn others away and could potentially stretch out what the Smart brand has come to stand for in the minds of American consumers.

Ultimately, we're sure Daimler will carefully evaluate the Forfour's prospects for the North American market. But at the end of the day, the Forfour still stands a much better chance of making its way to Smart dealers in the US than the Renault, whose American prospects essentially depend on Carlos Ghosn packing his suitcase full of Twingos and physically bringing them to Nissan showrooms.

Vital Stats

Engine:
Turbo 898cc I3
Power:
89 HP / 100 LB-FT
Transmission:
5-Speed Manual
Base Price:
12,450 euros

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Noah Joseph / AOL

Ram 1500 bests new F-150 in MT pickup shootout

Posted Nov 25th 2014 11:30AM

Ram 1500 EcoDiesel

2015 Ford F-150Ford's 2015 Ford F-150 is a technological tour-de-force, what with its aluminum-intensive construction and its powerful and efficient new 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine option. But now that it's hit the market, it's time to get down to brass tacks and find out how just the latest F-150 actually stands up to its rivals in the hyper-competitive fullsize segment.

Motor Trend is among the first to round up the Ford (in Lariat 2.7-liter 4X4 guise here) and put it up against the Ram 1500 Outdoorsman EcoDiesel 4x4 and 5.3-liter-equipped Silverado 1500 LTZ Z71 to find out how Dearborn's new-think truck measures up.

The test put the trio through over 1,000 miles of tough driving in California and Arizona in a variety of conditions from just cruising around unladen to hauling a trailer. MT found all three trucks to be competent, but the most praise got heaped on the Ram and the Ford, with the Chevrolet falling a step behind its competitors in many tests.

Among the Ford's most-liked features was its 2.7-liter, twin-turbo V6 that helped make the F-150 easily the quickest of the group, with some editors saying the engine felt about the same whether driving around with cargo in the bed or not. There was some minor turbo lag during acceleration while trailering, but that issue affected the Ram, too.

The Ram's powertrain was lauded, as well. The EcoDiesel was torquey around town, and the 1500's combination of an eight-speed automatic and air suspension was judged to be the best of the lot. It was the most difficult to get into the bed, though.

The Ram also won the fuel economy award by netting 20-miles-per-gallon city and 28-mpg highway in the test to beat its Environmental Protection Agency ratings of 19/27. The Ford's EcoBoost managed 17/22, one mpg off each from the EPA numbers, and using a lot of throttle really depleted its efficiency. As MT notes, however, it would take time for the diesel's mileage savings to pay off at the pump for these two trucks.

In the end, the Ram just barely eked out the win, with the title partially earned because of "the Ford's unknown maintenance and aluminum repair costs," according to MT. Go check out the full comparison to read all of the details, then let us know what you think in Comments.
Related Gallery2014 Ram 1500 Diesel
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News Source: Motor Trend

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Jonathon Ramsey, Drew Phillips / AOL

Scion rules out roadster, turbo versions of FR-S

Posted Nov 25th 2014 11:00AM

Toyota FT-86 Open concept live at Geneva Motor Show reveal

Ever since Toyota and Subaru released the sports car alternatively known as the GT86, 86, BRZ and Scion FR-S a couple of years ago, rumors have circulated that even more exciting variants could be in store. But at least as far as Scion is concerned, those rumors are apparently nothing more than wishful thinking.

Speaking with WardsAuto at the LA Auto Show last week, Scion chief Doug Murtha said that the prospect of an FR-S roadster has been taken off the table entirely. Apparently Scion lobbied parent company Toyota to produce just such a model, but after failing to find other markets interested enough in the model to put it into production, corporate HQ said no.

"I think we were pretty aggressive on our (submitted plan), but we looked at what we would have conceivably lost on the product and said, 'We're not going to even push it further,'" Murtha said, going on to note, "Nobody was more disappointed than we were."

Murtha further shot down the idea of a turbo version of the FR-S, dismissing it as a prospect the blogosphere (that's us) wanted to happen but "that's not something that's coming."

Either variant might have helped Scion and Toyota boost sales of the model (which are predictably dropping after their first two years on the market), but the investment also might not have paid off their development, tooling and marketing costs. Of course, Murtha can only speak for Toyota, but we'd be surprised to see Subaru go it alone on either model, as costs would be that much more prohibitive without a partner.

Bummer.

News Source: WardsAuto

Honda underreported 1,729 claims of injuries or deaths since 2003

Posted Nov 25th 2014 10:16AM

Auto Show

Among these underreported cases were eight Takata airbag inflator ruptures not submitted.

Following an independent audit of its safety reporting procedures, Honda has found massive holes in its methodology and practices that resulted in 1,729 claims of injuries or deaths going unreported to federal authorities dating back to July 2003. The cases should have been submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as part of its quarterly Early Warning Reports (EWRs) under the TREAD Act, but they fell through the cracks for a variety of reasons.

Honda blames the underreporting on three factors: data entry errors, computer coding problems and "an overly narrow interpretation of what constituted a 'written notice' under the TREAD Act." The first two issues were related to the computer program that collected the claims. If employees didn't enter a date in the "written claim received" field, then they were omitted from the EWRs. Also, the company's internal component codes didn't always match those used by NHTSA, and only the ones that were the same were disclosed. Finally, third-party documents, including police reports, were not considered.

Honda says the computer error is now corrected, and the company is updating its data entry training. In the future, written and oral claims will be included in EWRs, as well.

Among these underreported cases were eight Takata airbag inflator ruptures not submitted in Honda's EWRs, including one death and seven injuries. However, the automaker claims NHTSA was already aware of all of these incidents either from the agency's own records or from the company's notification outside of the EWR process.

Unfortunately, this problem could have been stopped much sooner. The issue was first brought to light in 2011 but didn't result in a followup. NHTSA advised the automaker of discrepancies in January 2012, and it still did nothing. This third-party audit wasn't commissioned until September 2014. "Honda acknowledges that it lacked the urgency needed to correct its problems on a timely basis," it says in the announcement.

Separately, the Japanese government is starting an investigation, as well. According to Reuters, the Japanese Transport Minister has created a task force to look into the Takata recalls and find out whether Honda under-reported incidents there. Scroll down to read the company's entire statement on the third-party investigation.

News Source: Honda, Reuters

Image Credit: Matt Rourke / AP Photo

Woman's criminal record cleared in crash caused by GM's ignition defect

Posted Nov 25th 2014 9:31AM

General Motors Recall

A woman in Texas is celebrating a cleared criminal record after being exonerated in a fatal crash now linked to General Motors' faulty ignition switches. Candice Anderson was driving a Saturn Ion in 2004 when she struck a tree. The incident injured her and killed her boyfriend in the front passenger seat. When investigators found no skid marks or signs of evasion and a small amount of Xanax in her system, Anderson was indicted on a charge of intoxicated manslaughter and eventually pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide with five years probation, according to The New York Times.

However, ten years and nine days after the tragic crash, a Texas judge cleared Anderson's record because General Motors included the fatality under its ignition switch claims. According to The New York Times, before Anderson's plea in 2007, a GM engineer ruled that the vehicle likely shut off before the crash, but that was only revealed this year. The district attorney who prosecuted the case also supported Anderson's exoneration and admitted that if the defect had been known a decade ago, there likely would not have been an indictment.

Anderson is accepting a settlement under GM's victim compensation fund. "My plan is to take the compensation and take this clearing of my record and move on with my life," she said to the NYT. The group is still taking claims through January 31, 2015. So far, it has found 33 eligible death claims and 39 injuries. GM originally believed the fault was responsible for 13 fatalities.

News Source: The New York Times

Image Credit: Molly Riley / AP Photo

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