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2015 Mercedes-Benz S550 Coupe

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    2015 Mercedes-Benz S550 Coupe
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    Autoblog Podcast #402
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    Translogic 161: Detroit bike culture explored
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    2016 Nissan Maxima spotted for first time
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2015 Lexus LS gets tighter turning radius, new infotainment

Posted Oct 22nd 2014 10:58AM

2013 Lexus LS 460 L

Go back a couple of decades and the thought of a Japanese automaker challenging the German limousines would have seemed laughable, but 25 years later the Lexus LS is a mainstay of the luxury sedan market. And it didn't get there by sitting on its laurels, so it should come as little surprise that Lexus is offering some small tweaks as it enters the 2015 model year.

This time around the upgrades are rather minor, consisting primarily of a new multimedia system. It's got an updated navigation system with 12.3-inch display, revised backup camera imagery with dynamic gridlines, and an enhanced Lexus Enform App Suite that can control the locks, ignition, climate control and more, remotely.

While they were at it, Toyota's engineers also reduced the turning circle by four inches (on cars fitted with 18-inch wheels), and enhanced the F Sport package as well. Otherwise, it's essentially the same LS we've always known.
Related Gallery2013 Lexus LS 460 L
2013 Lexus LS 460 L2013 Lexus LS 460 L2013 Lexus LS 460 L2013 Lexus LS 460 L2013 Lexus LS 460 L2013 Lexus LS 460 L2013 Lexus LS 460 L2013 Lexus LS 460 L

News Source: Lexus

Daimler divests remaining interest in Tesla

Posted Oct 22nd 2014 10:15AM

Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive

Back in 2009, Daimler acquired over 9 percent of Tesla. A couple of months later, it sold 40 percent of that stake to Abu Dhabi-based Aabar Investments. The following year, Tesla listed on the stock exchange and Daimler's interest was reduced to 4 percent. But now the German industrial giant has announced it is selling that 4 percent and divesting from Tesla altogether in a liquidation that is expected to raise approximately $780 million for Daimler. The divestment has also triggered speculation that the move could make room for rival German automaker BMW to take an interest in Tesla.

Despite the divestment, Daimler insists that its technological partnership with Tesla will remain unaffected. Mercedes sources the batteries for its B-Class Electric Drive (pictured above) from the Californian outfit in a deal that is not set to change as a result of the financial realignment. A similar collaboration was in place for the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive, however, now that the new generation of Smarts developed with Renault is on its way, it's possible that a next-generation Fortwo ED will use French tech instead as an extension of the partnership between Daimler and Renault-Nissan.

Daimler has also taken the occasion to point out that, between the Mercedes, Smart and various truck brands, it offers "the industry's biggest portfolio of electric vehicles," including pure EVs, fuel cells and hybrids. The automaker says it will introduce ten new plug-in hybrid Mercedes models by 2017.

News Source: Daimler, Forbes

How China is at war with its pickup trucks

Posted Oct 22nd 2014 9:29AM

Great Wall Wingle5

Create a law, and people try to find some way to get around it. That's basically a fact of life whether you're in the US or the People's Republic of China. For example, recently in the PRC, a man attempted to convert his pickup into a sedan to avoid road tolls, and photos of the vehicle became a story in Chinese media. The whole incident shined a light on the government's antagonism towards trucks (like the Great Wall Wingle 5 pictured above).

According to Automotive News, this intrepid driver made his attempt during the National Day earlier in October. For the holiday, China removed its road tolls for sedans, which made it free for them to drive on highways. This fellow apparently had places to go, and he converted his four-door truck into a "sedan." Although, his undertaking was pretty mediocre by just installing a sloping bed cover with a hatch on the back of his pickup. The endeavor didn't fool police, either, because they fined him for the scheme. Still, it was a noble effort, we suppose.

Not many owners are willing to go to the lengths of this guy, but trucks in China are fighting an uphill battle for popularity. According to Automotive News, a legal loophole means that in some cities, all pickups are classified as commercial vehicles, and they are kept from entering. Those limits keep sales to less than two percent of the country's massive auto market, and those numbers are continuing to fall. No wonder automakers like Great Wall want to sell models in the more pickup-friendly US.

News Source: Automotive News - sub. req.

Image Credit: Great Wall

TX guardrail manufacturer found guilty of defrauding federal government

Posted Oct 22nd 2014 8:44AM

highway passing through the...

The ongoing safety fight over a specific type of guardrail end terminals (not necessarily pictured above) has reached its first of perhaps many verdicts. Trinity Industries, makers of the ET-Plus, has been found guilty of defrauding the federal government under the False Claims Act. Specifically, the company was accused of making a design change to its product and not advising the Federal Highway Administration about the revision for seven years. According to The New York Times, the jury awarded $175 million in the case. However, that amount will be tripled to $525 million under federal law.

According to the lawsuit, the company's alteration to the design sometime in 2005 allegedly allowed vehicles to spear into the end of the rail, rather than deforming around them. Also, Trinity didn't tell the FHA about the change until 2012. According to The New York Times, a competitor was the one that found the revision and brought the case forward as a whistle-blower. The jury award will be split between this person and the government.

As previously covered by Autoblog, Trinity's ET-Plus end terminal design was shown in one study to potentially be nearly three times more likely to be invoked in a fatal crash than an earlier product from the company. Nevada, Missouri, and Massachusetts have all banned the purchasing more of them, and Virginia has begun an investigation.

Trinity plans to appeal the ruling, but it could be just the beginning of action against the company. The judge in the case still must determine the number of false claims under the act, and each one could cost between $5,000 and $12,000. There are also a number of other lawsuits alleging deaths or injuring, including lost limbs, because of the design.

In a followup report, the Times revealed that the Federal Highway Administration has mandated additional testing of Trinity's ET-Plus guardrail head and that federal officials be present for those tests. Failure to comply would revoke that component's eligibility for federal funds, a move which many will be wondering the government agency has not already taken.

Lotus renames Russell Carr its head of design

Posted Oct 22nd 2014 7:58AM

Russell Carr

There's been a changing of the guard at Lotus recently. The legendary British sports car manufacturer fired its controversial chief executive Dany Bahar and replaced him recently with Jean-Marc Gales. And now it's named a new chief designer. Or rather, renamed its old one to the post.

That designer is the appropriately named Russell Carr, who had previously held the post until Bahar brought in his former compatriot Donato Coco (with whom he had previously served at Ferrari) and charged him with designing a series of ambitious but ill-fated concept cars that debuted at the 2010 Paris Motor Show and were subsequently axed on Bahar's way out. Now Coco has been shown the door as well, effective at the end of this month. In his place, Carr – who has been with Lotus since 1990 – has been given back his old job after having been demoted to playing second fiddle to Coco for five years.

Although both Gales and Coco both served in senior positions at PSA Peugeot Citroën, Gales didn't join the French automaker until 2009 – the same year that Coco joined Lotus, five years after having left PSA to work at Ferrari.

News Source: Lotus

Harry Metcalfe channel hits YouTube with '54 Series I Land Rover

Posted Oct 21st 2014 7:59PM

Harry Metcalfe with his Land Rover Series 1

If we know our history of automotive journalism, Evo magazine owes its existence to one Harry Metcalfe. The British supercar owner and enthusiast started the publication back in 1998 and served for many years as its editor and then editorial director. But after some two decades at the helm, Harry's stepped back, leaving the magazine to Nick Trott and his staff to run. So what's he up to now? Why, he's launched his own YouTube channel, of course.

Harry's Garage will naturally focus on the numerous supercars and other such rarities which Metcalfe has amassed over the years, but will also feature some of the new metal and events to which he's earned access over the course of his long and distinguished career. But in one of the first videos produced specifically for his new channel, Harry shows us the ins and outs of one of the slowest vehicles in his private fleet: a 1954 Land Rover Series I – specifically an open-top, 86-inch-wheelbase version – the precursor to the Defender 90 and a veritable British motoring icon. Watch the review below and the introduction to Harry's Garage below that.

News Source: Harry's Garage via YouTube (1), (2)

What you missed on 10.21.14

Posted Oct 21st 2014 7:31PM

uturn

2015 Mercedes S550 Coupe2015 Mercedes S550 Coupe

Mercedes has a new flagship coupe coming to a dealership near you, and we just tool the keys to one such machine, a 2015 S550 Coupe Edition 1, to be exact, all over the great State of Rhode Island. The autumn weather was lovely, the changing colors were beautiful, and the newest Benz was pretty much a perfect vehicle with which to take it all in. Read on for all the details.





Michigan Governor Rick Snyder'Anti-Tesla' bill signed into law in Michigan

Is House Bill 5605 accurately described as being 'anti-Tesla?' Well, that depends on who you're talking to. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder doesn't seem to think so, and State Representative Aric Nesbitt, who introduced the bill itself, has specifically stated that it's not directed at the electric-vehicle manufacturer. Tesla, for its part, seems to disagree, as do a large number of its adoring fans.





putting fuel in carEPA to mandate new mileage test procedures

"Your mileage may vary." We all know what it means, and we all expect at least some variance between what we actually record with our own cars versus what was originally displayed on that car's window sticker when it was new. Thing is, some automakers have recently been found to have been rating cars after testing with inaccurate procedures, and the EPA is planning to put that problem to an end.



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Harley-Davidson 'Captain America' bike from Easy Rider nets $1.35M at auction

Posted Oct 21st 2014 6:58PM

Easy Rider Captain America Motorcycle

The famous, custom Harley-Davidson motorcycle nicknamed Captain America from the '60s classic Easy Rider sold for $1.35 million at auction on October 18, or just over $1.6 million after applicable fees. That was a new record price ever paid for a cycle, according to Hemmings, and It handily beat auction house Profiles in History's original estimate of as much as $1.2 million. However, a revelation about a possible problem with the bike's authenticity came to light just before the sale that could have been fit for a movie itself.

Part of Captain America's allure was that there was supposedly just one left. A total of four motorcycles were reportedly made for the movie – two each for Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper's characters. One of those was crashed in the film's finale, and the three others were allegedly stolen prior to the premiere. Future Grizzly Adams star Dan Haggerty worked on the set as a mechanic and was given the wrecked cycle at the end of production. He restored it and sold Captain America years later. Memorabilia collector Michael Eisenberg was the last owner and put the bike up for this action.

A recent report from The Los Angeles Times found a possible issue with that story because Haggerty sold a different Captain America in 1996, and he claimed that motorcycle was the genuine article. To be clear, this wasn't the bike that just sold for $1.35 million. When asked, Haggerty told the newspaper that the original authentication was a "mistake", and the latest sale was for the real one.

The LA Times also spoke with Fonda to try to unravel things. He had previously authenticated the just-auctioned Captain America but now regrets it. At the time, he didn't know about the earlier sale. Fonda's not sure which one is real.

Unfortunately, really figuring things out might not be so easy. Like Eisenberg told The LA Times, "Dan Haggerty is the only guy who knows."

News Source: Hemmings, The LA Times

Image Credit: Profiles in History

US Ford Focus RS to be imported from Europe

Posted Oct 21st 2014 6:29PM

Ford Focus RS Spy Shots

Rumors about the forthcoming Ford Focus RS are flourishing into what sounds like a very impressive new hot hatch. The latest scuttlebutt gives the first indication about when we might see a few of these fast Focuses on roads here in the US.

Unnamed insiders reportedly confirmed to The Truth About Cars that Ford plans to launch the Focus RS in the US in 2016. However, getting one might not be so easy – the boosted powertrain means the car would likely need to be imported from Europe. That's likely going to keep the total number available in the US rather low. The sources estimate a price tag that's a bit more expensive than the top Focus ST3, which starts around $28,500, plus $825 destination.

It seems that a pretty potent package comes for all of that cash, though. The Focus RS reportedly uses a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making between 325 and 350 horsepower, with a torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system to get that muscle to the road. The test mules also wear more aggressive front and rear fascias, dual exhaust tips, larger brakes and sticky tires. It sounds like a great formula on top of the already enjoyable Focus ST.

These latest reports certainly corroborate the Focus RS' chances in the US. Autoblog asked Ford for an official statement about the hatch's chances in the US, but company spokesperson Monique Brentley told us, "We don't speculate on future products." However, things have looked good for the RS since a prototype was spotted testing here months ago. Since then, others have been photographed driving at the Nürburgring.
Related GalleryFord Focus RS Spy Shots
Ford Focus RS Spy ShotsFord Focus RS Spy ShotsFord Focus RS Spy ShotsFord Focus RS Spy ShotsFord Focus RS Spy ShotsFord Focus RS Spy ShotsFord Focus RS Spy ShotsFord Focus RS Spy Shots

News Source: The Truth About Cars

Image Credit: CarPix

Next Mercedes G-Class won't think outside of the box

Posted Oct 21st 2014 5:44PM

2014 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG

Anyone that was afraid that Mercedes-Benz would follow the example of the Land Rover Range Rover and soften the looks of the iconic Geländewagen when it came time for a redesign need not worry. The iconic off-roader's brutalist design aesthetic will carry on, as it's essential to its character.

"It has to continue as it looks today," Daimler AG boss Dieter Zetsche told Bloomberg. "It's not a vehicle that pretends. The G-Class is the original."

That doesn't mean that the G won't seem some changes soon. Regulatory changes will force some design modifications for 2016, while Mercedes might also take the opportunity to up usable space, widening the SUV by around four inches and dropping the roof slightly, a person familiar with MB's plans told Bloomberg.

Mercedes is at something of a crossroads with the G-Class, facing increased competition from the hot-selling Range Rover and staring down the barrel of new ultra-lux competitors from the likes of Bentley and others. Meanwhile, Bloomberg describes the company as trying to shed a "stodgy reputation." These challenges, though, shouldn't impact the future G-Wagen's abilities, though.

"When it comes to the combination of off-road capabilities and luxury, there's no alternative," the SUV's chief, Gunnar Guethenke told Bloomberg. "The G-Class provides the genes for all Mercedes-Benz SUVs."

News Source: Bloomberg

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Steven J. Ewing / AOL

Has Hendo created the Model T of hoverboards?

Posted Oct 21st 2014 4:59PM

Hendo Hoverboard prototype

We all think of the same exact thing when we hear the word "hoverboard:" Back To The Future. After Marty McFly is transported into the future to fix the mess his future family has gotten itself into, he hops onto a contraption in an unfortunate shade of pink that looks like a skateboard without wheels. According to the original writer of the scene, the thought was that a hoverboard would float on an invisible magnetic field, allowing its rider to hover inches above the surface of the ground on a cushion of air.

That was all the way back in 1989, and we still have exactly zero actual hoverboards merrily hovering their riders to and fro with jackets that dry themselves and shoes that automatically lace themselves to the proper fitment. Our collective selves let out a sigh we've been holding in since BTTF Part II stopped showing on the big screen... But wait.

A company called Hendo has created what may be considered the very first working prototype of a real, actual hoverboard. It's not without faults – the fact that it only works on certain metallic surfaces being perhaps the biggest, followed by its lack of directional stability – but it most definitely hovers, and you can most definitely ride it. And it's just the beginning of what the company and its inventor have in mind for the hovering technology.

According to Greg Henderson, inventor of the Hendo, this creation represents "the Model T of hoverboards," meaning that it's very early in development, not that it will be the first such machine mass produced. Future applications include planes, trains and automobiles, naturally, but also as a way to earthquake-proof permanent structures like buildings and bridges.

Check out the videos down below for more on this unique creation, and be sure to follow its progress if you're interested in Kickstarting its future.

News Source: The Verge, Engadget

Image Credit: Engadget

Autoblog Podcast #402

Audi A3 TDI Road Trip, Luxury Car Features We Love

Posted Oct 21st 2014 4:44PM

Autoblog Podcast logo

Episode #402 of the Autoblog Podcast is here, and this week, Dan Roth, Steven Ewing, and Brandon Turkus talk about the Audi A3 TDI Challenge and luxury car features we not-so-secretly love. We start with what's in the 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 #402:

play


Topics:
In The Autoblog Garage:
Hosts: Dan Roth, Steven Ewing, Brandon Turkus
Runtime: 01:17:40

Rundown:
  • Intro & Garage - 00:00
  • Audi A3 TDI Challenge - 42:51
  • Luxury Features We Love - 01:00:05
  • Q&A - 01:09:17

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

Aston Martin testing modified Vantage at the 'Ring

Posted Oct 21st 2014 4:15PM

Aston Martin Vantage prototype

Aston Martin is on the verge of a renaissance that stands to be the biggest shift for the British automaker since it went independent in 2007 – if not since Ford took it over in the early 1990s. It's got a new chief executive, a new engine deal in place with Mercedes-AMG, a new platform under development and – if the new Lagonda sedan is anything to go by – maybe a new design direction in the works. And what do we have here? A test mule that could foreshadow one of the first new models of this new era.

Spied undergoing testing at the Nürburgring (where else), this prototype looks for the most part like the existing V12 Vantage S, but with what look to be even wider wheel arches. The question, then, is what those widened wells are there to accommodate, and the most likely conclusion would be that new Mercedes engine.

Aside from the lack of grille slats inside that trademark opening in the nose and the competition-spec alloys inset in those arches, there's not much else to go on. But that Aston is testing such a prototype at all is evidence enough that work is under way on something exciting, so watch this space.

Image Credit: CarPix

How to drive a monster truck, as told by Monster Jam drivers

Posted Oct 21st 2014 3:28PM

How to drive a monster truck

On the surface, it's easy to write off monster trucks as big, dumb and dangerous vehicles, but when you start looking deeper, they get a lot more impressive. At least for the people competing in the Monster Jam series, there's a commitment to safety and some seriously cool engineering to make all of those huge jumps and stunts possible night after night. Of course, driving one of these behemoths isn't exactly easy, either.

Not only do drivers have to deal with bouncing around all the time, they also have in the region of 1,500 horsepower at their disposal, all of which is being channeled into something with some pretty bizarre handling characteristics, too. Just think about it: How many competition vehicles can you think of that sport massive tires and separate controls for the front and rear steering?

If you want some advice, check out this video to hear from the men and women of Monster Jam who are behind the wheel practically every night and then have to fix them to crush more cars the next day.

News Source: Gizmag via YouTube

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