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NHTSA urges owners of recalled Takata airbag vehicles to take immediate action

Posted Oct 20th 2014 1:30PM

2003 Honda Civic

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Department of Transportation are taking the unusual step of issuing a followup press release urging owners of certain recalled vehicles "to act immediately" to fix their cars and trucks. The problem in question concerns the repair campaigns for rupturing Takata airbag inflators issued in June and covers a long list of models from Toyota, Lexus, Honda, Acura, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, Infiniti, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Oldsmobile and Pontiac.

While NHSTA doesn't specifically say why the recall is vital in the new release, Toyota's own explanation in its newly announced renotification campaign earlier today sheds some new light on the topic. According to the Japanese automaker, in testing, Takata found a possible link between the rupturing airbag inflators and high humidity. NHTSA is advocating that all owners pursue repairs immediately if they haven't already done so already. This is especially crucial for those drivers especially in Florida, Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Virgin Islands and Hawaii because of the humid conditions there.

We don't need to tell you how dangerous an inadvertent airbag deployment could be – even in a stationary vehicle – but adding to the Takata issue is fears that the deployment could lead to shrapnel being sprayed into the cabin.

If you're unsure whether your vehicle is covered under this campaign, NHTSA has a new VIN lookup tool for all recalls recently that could be handy in this situation. Scroll down for the full list of potentially affected models and the agency's statement – there are upwards of nearly five million vehicles that could be affected.
Related Gallery2003 Honda Civic
2003 Honda Civic2003 Honda Civic2003 Honda Civic2003 Honda Civic2003 Honda Civic2003 Honda Civic2003 Honda Civic2003 Honda Civic

News Source: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Toyota, Lexus expanding Takata airbag recall, re-notifying customers

Posted Oct 20th 2014 12:57PM

Toyota Corolla

Toyota is re-notifying owners and expanding its Takata airbag inflator recall for some regions. The renewed campaign covers 247,000 examples of the Toyota Corolla, Matrix, Sequoia, Tundra and Lexus SC430 that are located in southern Florida, along the Gulf Coast, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the US Virgin Islands, Guam, Saipan and American Samoa. All of the models come from the 2001-2004 model years and have potentially faulty Takata-made inflators on the front passenger side. According to the company, testing shows the problem warrants "immediate action," and its press release says, "this action intensifies Toyota's efforts to reach customers and remedy previously recalled vehicles, and a small number of newly included vehicles."

According to Toyota, it submitted some recalled inflators to Takata for testing, and it found a high probability of rupturing in high humidity areas. The automaker said it had no reports yet of injuries or fatalities related to the problem.

This is Toyota's third inflator recall this year. In June, it called in for repair the same vehicles from the 2003-2005 model years in high-humidity areas, and it conducted a separate campaign nationwide for the parts in additional models. In April 2013, it also announced a fix campaign for 1.73-million vehicles worldwide for the same issue.

To fix the problem, Toyota will send a letter to owners this week, and dealers will replace the inflator. If the part isn't ready, dealers will deactivate the passenger side airbag and will advise owners that no one should sit there until repaired. Scroll down to read Toyota's full release.
Related Gallery2003-2006 Toyota Corolla
2003-2006 Toyota Corolla2003-2006 Toyota Corolla2003-2006 Toyota Corolla2003-2006 Toyota Corolla2003-2006 Toyota Corolla2003-2006 Toyota Corolla2003-2006 Toyota Corolla2003-2006 Toyota Corolla

News Source: Toyota

Translogic 161: Detroit bike culture explored

We Go For A Spin With Detroit Bikes, Slow Roll Detroit and the East Side Riders

Posted Oct 20th 2014 12:31PM



Detroit is known as the Motor City due to its rich automotive history and deep affinity for cars. So, what are all these people-powered, two-wheeled wonders doing everywhere?

Bike culture has taken over Detroit, from group rides that attract massive crowds to new manufacturing in old factories. Translogic host Jonathon Buckley heads to the D to investigate the trend, meeting with the head of assembly at Detroit Bikes, chatting up the co-founders of Detroit Slow Roll and taking a cruise with the East Side Riders.

Join us for this new episode of Translogic as we see how Detroit's motorized past may be contributing to its pedal-powered present.

2015 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S Roadster

Well-Seasoned Beauty Gets Shiftier

Posted Oct 20th 2014 11:57AM

2015 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S Roadster

Aston Martin previewed its most powerful, quickest-accelerating and fastest production roadster ever at this year's Pebble Beach Concours. The 2015 V12 Vantage S Roadster is essentially a convertible version of the V12 Vantage S Coupe, which we reviewed last year, a model that drops the automaker's most potent powertrain into its smallest chassis.

Unlike the outgoing V12 Vantage Roadster, this new S model boasts a more powerful engine, a new transmission, new adaptive suspension and more luxurious appointments along with freshened styling. While last year's beloved six-speed manual gearbox is gone – a thought that continues to bring tears to our eyes – everything else about the updated roadster piques our interest. We recently spent a full day in the mountains and deserts surrounding Palm Springs with a China Grey (with red carbon fiber accents) version of the British automaker's latest.

Driving Notes
  • Mirroring its coupe sibling, the Vantage S Roadster features an all-aluminum monocoque platform with lightweight aluminum body panels. To replace stiffness lost when the roof was removed, a rigid cross member has been added to the open platform. The Roadster's power-operated soft top is fully automatic in operation, opening and closing in about 20 seconds at speeds upwards of 30 miles per hour with the touch of a switch. When tucked away, the entire assembly is hidden cleanly beneath an integrated hard tonneau cover.
  • So as not to be mistaken for its predecessor, Aston Martin has upgraded the model's signature grille from aluminum to carbon fiber with black or titanium silver mesh, with or without body-color accents. The lightweight, forged aluminum, 10-spoke alloys are also new, as is the obvious scripted red "S" on the trunklid. Inside, occupants will find additional grippy Alcantara on the seats and new patterns in the stitching. There are also a slew of upscale options and access to Aston Martin's bespoke Q treatment available.
  • Aston's famed, naturally aspirated, 6.0-liter V12 has been upgraded with a larger throttle body, dual variable valve timing, a revised intake manifold, an improved fuel pump and fully machined combustion chambers. Combined, the improvements are enough to warrant a new AM28 engine designation. On a dyno, the engine cranks out 565 horsepower and 457 pound-feet of torque. The previous version of the 6.0-liter, with 510 horsepower, was spectacular, but this year's enhanced powerplant has been elevated to the level of being jaw-droppingly magical. The engine is silky smooth, and in practice it feels every bit as strong as it looks on paper, but the Roadster's 3,847-pound curb weight means it has to be in its higher powerband (above 4,000 rpm) to feel especially quick. The free-flowing exhaust note is phenomenal, especially in Sport mode.
  • The new standard gearbox, mid-mounted in the chassis and connected to the engine via a rigid torque tube, is Aston Martin's Sportshift III AMT (Automated Manual Transmission) – marketing-speak for a seven-speed single-clutch automatic gearbox. While it sounds inspiring by name, in practice it is clumsy and slow. To avoid jerky shifts, the driver must lift off the accelerator slightly as each gear is engaged. Only during heavy flogging, which the race-bred gearbox seems to enjoy, does it earn an average passing grade.
  • Fixed dampers were standard fitment on the outgoing model, but the Vantage S arrives with a three-stage Adaptive Damping System (ADS) that is driver-selectable (Normal, Sport and Track) via console switch. While many automakers offer adaptive damping, the range of adjustment is often hard to notice. Not so with Aston Martin. The Normal setting is sporty, the Sport setting is very firm and the Track setting is so stiff that it should be reserved for only when driving across plates of smooth glass. Gumball Pirelli PZero Corsa tires (255/35-19 and 295/30-19) stick tenaciously, but do make a bit of racket on rough surfaces. Enormous carbon-ceramic brakes make effortless work of stopping.
The 2015 V12 Vantage S Roadster is an old-school European muscle car that reeks of tradition, a reality credited to the company's near-century of history, frustrating age-old English ergonomics and the fact that the Vantage has been in production since 2005. Yet there are very few late-model cars that are as satisfying visually and emotionally to drive. In 30 years, when our grandchildren ask us to reminisce about our favorites from this era, rarities like the V12 Vantage S Roadster will come to mind.

Vital Stats

Engine:
6.0L V12
Power:
565 HP / 458 LB-FT
Transmission:
7-Speed SCT
Base Price:
$199,500
As-Tested Price:
$224,986

Ford Focus Electric gets $6,000 price drop, now starts at $29,995

Posted Oct 20th 2014 11:30AM

2015 Ford Focus Electric

In early 2013, the Nissan Leaf shed a massive $6,500 from its $35,200 base price to offer a new starting price of $28,800. Since then, we have seen numerous other plug-in vehicles get smaller price tags, from the Honda Fit EV (lower lease price) to the Chevrolet Volt (around $5,000 lower) to the Mitsubishi i (a $6,130 drop). Last year, Ford lowered the $39,200 price of the Focus Electric by around $4,000, but that hasn't been enough to get the Ford EV to really compete, saleswise, with other plug-in vehicles on the market.

But wait, as they say, there's more. This past weekend, Ford lopped another $6,000 from the price of both the 2014 model year Focus EVs currently on dealer lots as well as the redesigned 2015 models that are now rolling out (they're basically the same car, minus some appearance changes). Ford spokesman Aaron Miller confirmed to AutoblogGreen that the Focus EV will now start at $29,995 and said that reducing the price should make the Blue Oval's only pure EV competitive. "We hope by reducing the price we're giving consumers another reason to consider it," he said.

Through the end of September 2014, Ford has sold just 1,534 Focus EVs in the US (the model sold 1,335 in the first nine months of 2013). For comparison's sake, the Nissan Leaf starts at $29,010 and sells around 3,000 units a month in the US. Miller notes that the Focus EV has been selling the best on the West Coast, and is also doing well on the East Coast. After that, he said Atlanta and the Great Lakes area also see decent sales of model's admittedly small pie. We can only assume that offering the EV for under $30,000 will make that pie somewhat bigger.
Related Gallery2015 Ford Focus EV
2015 Ford Focus EV2015 Ford Focus EV2015 Ford Focus EV2015 Ford Focus EV2015 Ford Focus EV2015 Ford Focus EV2015 Ford Focus EV2015 Ford Focus EV

News Source: Ford via Left Lane News

Refreshed Chrysler 300 SRT won't be sold in NA

Posted Oct 20th 2014 11:01AM

2014 Chrysler 300 SRT

It looks like it might be time to bid farewell to the V8 rumble from the Chrysler 300 SRT – at least if you live in North America. The reported change comes as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles reshuffles its ranks with the Dodge brand, re-absorbing SRT and building its muscular reputation with the Challenger and Charger Hellcat models. Meanwhile, Chrysler is taking a more mainstream approach, and that likely means the end of overt high-performance models from the division for now.

According to Automotive News, the 300 SRT will be discontinued in the US for 2015, but it won't be totally dead. Some right-hand drive markets will still get the brawny V8 sedan next year, a distinction that goes a long way toward explaining some spy shots we've seen recently.

The 300 SRT's North American demise probably shouldn't come as a total shock. In FCA's five-year plan, it says that the 300 is destined for a refresh to be unveiled later this year, presumably at the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show. There's no mention of the SRT model in the document, though, which seems to signal its end.

In regards to the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the other non-Dodge from the former SRT brand, it's likely sticking around in spirit, if not in name. According to Automotive News, insiders say that the recent trademark filing for the Trackhawk could be meant for a sporty Grand Cherokee for 2016, but there's no official decision yet. The high-performance SUV still wears the SRT badge for 2015, though. Still, Trackhawk sounds like a nice fit with the off-road Trailhawk models on the Cherokee and upcoming Renegade, and it's possible that the Trackhawk designation will supplant that of SRT on this model.

Father does donuts with son in '68 Camaro, ends up in handcuffs

Posted Oct 20th 2014 10:30AM

Joe Graham recounts his story

Think pulling a couple of donuts in an empty lot is harmless? That's what one Joe Graham of Ontario, New York, thought... right up until he was arrested.

Graham was driving by a parking lot in the Wayne County town with his son in his red 1968 Chevy Camaro SS on Columbus Day when he entered the empty lot and did a couple of donuts. The whole episode was said to have lasted only about 15 seconds, but Graham seemed to have chosen the wrong location: that lot was next to the town hall and a local sheriff's office. And when the commotion started, a deputy came out and proceeded to place Graham in handcuffs – right in front of his teenage son – and impound his muscle car.

"We were just pulling out of the lot and the cops rushed over to the car and proceeded to arrest me," Graham said to the local ABC affiliate, 13 WHAM. The culprit said he offered to pay to have the freshly painted yellow lines on the lot redone, but officials reportedly claim that he put his son's safety in jeopardy.

What do you think, should the cops have gone this far with Graham given that he had a youngster in his car? Have your say in Comments.

News Source: 13 WHAM

First new Land Rover Discovery Sport rolls off assembly line

Posted Oct 20th 2014 10:00AM

Land Rover Discovery Sport #1

When Land Rover revealed the new Discovery Sport at the Paris Motor Show, it didn't just present a new model; it kicked off a whole new era for the British purveyor of sport-utility vehicles. And that new era has officially started now with the production of the very first model you see above.

To produce the new Discovery Sport, Land Rover has invested over $250 million in its Halewood plant (where it also produces the Evoque), added 250 new jobs and awarded some $4.5 billion in contracts to 55 suppliers. Billed as "the world's most versatile and capable compact SUV," the seven-seat Discovery Sport replaces the LR2/Freelander and opens up a new range of models to include a new Discovery as well as an anticipated third model.

This first Discovery Sport was being handed over to Virgin Galactic, "the world's first commercial spaceline" with which Land Rover has partnered. The vehicle will be used to support the company's activities in the UK as it prepares to send the first paying customers into space. The Discovery Sport is scheduled to make its US debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show next month before it joins Land Rover's North American lineup.

News Source: Land Rover

Has Dodge stepped in it again with Scat Pack lawsuit?

Posted Oct 20th 2014 9:28AM

Dodge Challenger and Charger Scat Pack

Lawsuits are an unfortunate part of doing business in just about any industry, so the latest complaint filed by a California-based aftermarket firm against Chrysler would seem to be nothing more than business as usual. But this isn't the first time the two companies have sparred over this particular issue.

According to a report from Automotive News, the dispute revolves around the Scat Pack name that Chrysler first offered on the Charger, Coronet, Dart and Super Bee starting in 1968. Scat Enterprises, a manufacturer of crankshafts and other components for Dodges and other vehicles, sued Chrysler for using its name. A few years later the Scat Pack disappeared from the Dodge catalog.

Fast forward to August 2013 when Chrysler applied to register the Scat Pack name anew. The US Patent and Trademark Office turned down Chrysler's application, but the automaker proceeded anyway, unveiling new Scat Packs for the Challenger, Charger and Dart at last year's SEMA show.

Now that Chrysler is preparing to reveal a new Scat Pack at SEMA, Scat Enterprises has filed a new lawsuit, demanding that Chrysler stop using the name, turn over all its materials for destruction, and pay the plaintiff damages. Auburn Hills is refusing and refuting Scat's claim, dismissing it as an "opportunistic attempt to hold Chrysler hostage just days before the upcoming SEMA show," noting that it (unlike the plaintiff) only uses the word Scat together with Pack and is responsible for the term's association with its products. We doubt we've heard the last of this one...

1 in 5 vehicles has been recalled this year

Posted Oct 20th 2014 8:44AM

General Motors Recall

2014 will forever be known as the year of the recalls. General Motors has been the biggest culprit, with over 70 recalls to date, but there have been plenty of other notable recalls competing for our attention.

Now, CNN Money is reporting that 2014 has seen a total of 544 recalls, or about two a day, so far. Those recalls have afflicted 52 million vehicles, or about one in every five on US roads. Disturbing as that figure may be, it's made worse by the fact that 2014 has easily eclipsed the previous record of 30.8 million units back in 2004. With another ten weeks left in the year, there remains a solid chance that this year will double the previous total.

While it's easy to chalk up the plethora of recalls to falling reliability, there's a much more obvious reason that so much is going wrong so often. "We all want our cars to do far more than they did in the past," Stericycle VP Mike Rozembajgier told CNN. "It takes a lot of gadgets to make that happen, and that adds to complexity."

With our demand for more and more technology in our cars, it seems likely that 2014 will be far from the last year of huge recalls.

News Source: CNN Money

Image Credit: Molly Riley / AP

Porsche slathers Martini livery on 911, Panamera, Macan and Cayenne

Posted Oct 20th 2014 8:00AM

Porsche Martini Livery

This is how we imagine the conversation went in Porsche's Stuttgart headquarters: "Martini livery. Martini livery all the things." Okay, so maybe not, but that hasn't stopped Porsche from showing off images of most of its lineup bearing the iconic racing livery.

While we aren't sure about the questionably yellow 911 and lime green Macan, the navy blue Cayenne and the white Panamera both look pretty spectacular as they lap about the streets of Sochi, Russia.

As for why the liveried sports cars and crossovers were at the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics, we aren't totally sure. Porsche's Facebook page, where the images first popped up, was really light on details. Whatever the reason, we fully support Porsche doing more with Martini livery. Take a look at the full gallery to see what we mean.
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News Source: Porsche via Facebook

This exploding Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow is angering, mesmerizing

Posted Oct 19th 2014 7:31PM

Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow explosion

Between Las Vegas and the emirates of the Persian Gulf, we're sure there are Rolls-Royces to be found in the desert all the time. And we don't doubt that, given those locations, one gets torched every so often. There'd probably even be someone in a tuxedo or evening gown running for cover when it happens, too. The thing is that we're seldom if ever there to watch it go down, much less capture it in stunning high-definition, frame-by-frame video when it does.

That's where this four-minute clip by Tyler Shields comes in. The American photographer and filmmaker staged and captured this Silver Shadow being doused in gasoline (or at least what we're supposed to believe is gasoline) and set afire in the Mojave Desert, along with actor Cru Ennis and actress Ana Mulvoy-Ten.

It's heartbreaking but mesmerizing, and you'll want to watch the video for yourself to see which side you fall on. If it's the former, take solace at least in the fact that the Silver Shadow is far from a rare beast. In fact, it remains by far the most prolific Rolls-Royce ever, with over 30,000 made between 1965 and 1980... so we doubt this one will be missed terribly.

In any case, scroll down below for the video, along with a behind-the-scenes look at how it was filmed. If you want to know more about Shields and the reason he blew up a perfectly good Rolls, click here for his blog.

News Source: Tyler Shields via YouTube, CarBuzz

Chevy bringing party of five to SEMA

Posted Oct 19th 2014 6:07PM

Chevy SS Sport

Chevrolet has a seriously packed booth ready for this year's SEMA show. Not only does the company already have the Camaro SS Special Edition, Silverado Toughnology and Colorado Sport, but it is now announcing five more concepts to be on display.

Among this quintet of concepts is the Chevy SS Sport that wears some Australian inspiration. Sure, it has the grille kit, fog light bezels and rear spoiler out of the Chevrolet Accessories catalog, but the 20-inch wheels, floor mats and cargo tray all sport the logo for Holden, General Motor's division Down Under. Power is left alone for this Aussie-inspired muscle sedan with the stock 415 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque 6.2-liter V8.

The Impala Blackout gets a monochromatic look to fit its name with a black grille surround, rear spoiler and mirror caps. It uses the sedan's standard 3.6-liter V6 with 305 horsepower and 264 pound-feet of torque.

Chevy also has two takes on the Sonic for SEMA. The Performance concept benefits from a cold-air intake and higher-flow exhaust for the 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and a suspension kit to chop the ride height. On the outside, it gets some Synergy Green paint and upgraded trim.

The aptly named Accessories concept shows off what's available from Chevy's aftermarket catalog with white headlight and taillight rings and black replacement parts for the grille, mirror caps and rear spoiler. It also gets the suspension kit.

Finally, the Cruze RS Plus wears a custom paint job in Wildfire Metallic with matte black stripes, and the interior gets some ambient lighting, illuminated door sills and upgraded amplifier and subwoofer. Under the hood, Chevy equips the 1.4-liter turbo engine with a cold-air intake and "performance-enhancing stage kit," but total power isn't mentioned. Scroll down to read the company's full release for these SEMA concepts.
Related GalleryChevrolet SEMA Concepts
Chevrolet SEMA ConceptsChevrolet SEMA ConceptsChevrolet SEMA ConceptsChevrolet SEMA ConceptsChevrolet SEMA ConceptsChevrolet SEMA ConceptsChevrolet SEMA ConceptsChevrolet SEMA Concepts

News Source: Chevrolet

Ducati Testastretta DVT borrows VW tech for more power from less fuel [w/videos]

Posted Oct 19th 2014 4:33PM

Ducati Testastretta DVT

Just as much as (if not more than) any other automaker, the Volkswagen Group is all about synergies: making the most out of the considerable resources it has at its disposal, and letting one division help the other. But if you wonder what benefit Volkswagen could possibly get from its acquisition of Ducati, and vice versa, wonder now more. Just a few weeks ago VW demonstrated one thing it's gotten out of the Ducati takeover with the XL Sport concept, and now Ducati is showcasing its side of the bargain with the new Testastretta DVT motorcycle engine.

Shorthand for Desmodromic Variable Timing, this V-twin is the first motorcycle engine to employ independently variable timing on both the intake and exhaust camshafts – a technology borrowed from its new German parent company. With continuously adjusting valve timing, the engine churns out an impressive 160 horsepower and 100 pound-feet of torque from a 1.2-liter two-cylinder engine, all the while returning 8-percent better fuel efficiency than the non-variable version, further enabled by a new fuel injection system that sprays directly into the intake valve instead of the intake port wall.

The DVT system in Ducati's new engine is just the latest advancement in motorcycle propulsion, arriving hot on the heels of the supercharged engine Kawasaki recently revealed and the turbocharged v-twin showcased by Suzuki nearly a year ago.

Want to delve deeper into the technical details of Ducati's new engine design? There's plenty to geek out on in the press release and pair of videos below.
Related GalleryDucati Testastretta DVT
Ducati Testastretta DVTDucati Testastretta DVTDucati Testastretta DVT

News Source: Ducati

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