Skip to main content

We obsessively cover the auto industry…

22 New Articles in the last 24 hours Hide

First Drive
2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat [w/videos]

  • First Drive
    2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat [w/videos]
  • Report
    FBI investigating recently fired Ford engineer for espionage [UPDATE]
  • Official
    Aston Martin Lagonda super sedan officially teased
  • Featured
    40+ cars that barely avoid the gas guzzler tax
Tip Us

China probing German automakers over spare parts

Posted Jul 26th 2014 7:59AM

General Views Of Shanghai's Economy

The Chinese market has proven to be a boon to German luxury automakers. However, the way that the companies have allegedly been controlling their supply of spare parts has begun to draw the ire of the nation's government. According to insiders speaking to Bloomberg, officials from the country's economic planning organization have opened a probe into Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and some Japanese carmakers over claimed price inflation and limiting supply.

Specifically, the investigation centers around two aspects of how the companies do business, according to Bloomberg. Investigators want to know whether the original equipment component makers are able to sell spare parts only to automaker-authorized dealers or if they are also available to independent shops. There is also the issue of whether the price markup on replacement pieces is too high. The tight controls could be partially explained by China's reputation for producing counterfeit parts.

Evidently, the investigators haven't checked parts prices at car dealers elsewhere in the world. At least in the US, paying more at the dealer for factory components just goes along with owning a vehicle. If evidence of price fixing is found, the companies could face fines the equivalent of millions of dollars, according to Bloomberg.

News Source: Bloomberg

Image Credit: Tomohiro Ohsumi / Bloomberg via Getty Images

Fiat hangs ten with surf-inspired 500L Vans concept

Posted Jul 26th 2014 12:01AM

Fiat 500L-Vans Concept

Fiat 500L-Vans ConceptFiat is all set to ride some waves with its new 500L Vans Concept debuting at the Vans US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, CA, on July 26. Inspired by the famous shoe company known to skaters and surfers the world over, the hatchback is packed with seaside style and is ready to show it off at the beach.

The first thing that jumps out about the concept is its grille. It's unlike any other 500L and sports four rings of LED driving lights that are open in the centers. "We added the circular LED DRLs to add a sense of purpose and adventure to this concept," said a Fiat spokesperson to Autoblog via email. Below them are two more foglights, and combined together they should be able keep a party going long into the night after a day of surfing.

Beyond a ton of lighting, the Vans Concept has some extra panache thanks to its three-tone color scheme. It starts with dark blue outlining the car along the bottom, white for the main portion of the body and a lighter shade of blue for the hood, mirror caps and tops of the doors. The roof gets the shoe company's' traditional checkerboard pattern, and there's a rack up there to hold two surfboards and extra gear.

The interior is an even bigger tribute to Vans with the company's stickers from over the years used to decorate the dashboard. Like its shoes, the seats are made from canvas, and the famous waffle sole tread pattern covers the pedals and storage bins.

This concept is more about style than speed, though. According to Fiat spokesperson Angela Bianchi, the drivetrain is left entirely stock with a 160-horsepower, 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and a six-speed manual gearbox. The 500L will be on display throughout the event from July 26 to August 3, and will be joined by the rest of the brand's vehicles. Scroll down to learn more about Fiat's trip to the beach.
Related GalleryFiat 500L - Vans Concept
Fiat 500L - Vans ConceptFiat 500L - Vans ConceptFiat 500L - Vans ConceptFiat 500L - Vans ConceptFiat 500L - Vans ConceptFiat 500L - Vans ConceptFiat 500L - Vans Concept

News Source: Fiat

Coal-rolling Ram dually does tandem beer-shooting burnout with ATV in bed

Posted Jul 25th 2014 8:03PM

A Coal-Rolling tandem ATV burnout

Sometimes a video comes around that just makes you shake your head in disbelief. Take for example these guys from Nebraska in their dually diesel flatbed Ram, doing a smoky burnout. Lighting up the tires is nothing new, but these folks take things a step further by having another guy on an ATV in bed that is also smoking the tires. Finally, people are sitting on a couch in the bed taking the whole show in, as beer cans shoot out of the stacks.

There have been several stories recently about the scourge of rolling coal, i.e., diesel trucks modified to lay down a thick, black smoke screen, sometimes for vaguely political reasons. Whatever your opinion is on it, breathing in this much nasty stuff isn't exactly great for your health. Of course, it turns out that burning rubber is pretty awful, too. Both diesel and tire emissions contain cancer-causing Group 1 carcinogens. Combine them with the cigarette smoking here, and these guys are an oncologist's nightmare. Scroll down to take it all in for yourself. Warning, there is a little explicit language.

News Source: 1320 Video via YouTube

What you missed on 7.25.14

Posted Jul 25th 2014 7:31PM

Daily U-Turn

Aston Martin Lagonda super sedan teased

Fans of England's most famous sports car builder have something for which to cheer today, as Aston Martin has revealed two new images of its upcoming Lagonda performance sedan. The luxurious new Aston will be built in "strictly limited series production," with customers arriving by invitation only, and likely only from Middle East regions. Technical details and pricing (if you have to ask...) are still a ways off.



Former Ford engineer investigated by FBI

Ford has been working with the FBI to investigate espionage charges leveled at a recently terminated engineer at the company. In what Ford is calling "a joint investigation" the FBI had warrants to seize listening devices that were allegedly employed by the terminated engineer. For her part, the employee maintains that she has done no wrong, and that any and all listening devices were used without malicious intent.





Mercedes details turbo 4.0L V8 for AMG GT

The days of "no replacement for displacement" continue to fade from memory, as companies like Mercedes-Benz continue to build new, small, turbocharged powerhouses like this 4.0-liter V8. Set to make its home in the upcoming AMG GT sports car, the Mercedes mill is said to produce a robust 510 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque, thanks to twin turbochargers and a 7,200-rpm redline. We can almost hear it now...



Top Stories

In China, Tesla Model S is missing one basic feature

Company Says Google Is To Blame For Lack Of Nav System

Posted Jul 25th 2014 6:44PM

Tesla Model S Nav Screen

There were questions about the nav system in the Tesla Model S when the vehicle launched in the US, and there are still people who don't like it. But here's the thing: the US version at least has a nav system. With the luxury electric vehicle now available in China, drivers are discovering that the car is shipping without a working navigation system at all.

As China EV blogger Alysha Webb reports, Tesla's explanation for the lack of a nav system is that "Google maps are not supported." At least the company is working on an alternative map database for the land where Google doesn't work right. We've confirmed with Tesla PR in the US that Webb's report contains an official Tesla response, which includes the following:

Currently there isn't a navigation system in Chinese Model S as Google maps are not supported in the country. However, teams are currently working on a solution with Chinese text and voice recognition. We plan to introduce navigation to Chinese cars later this year (as already communicated to our customers). Once it's available, maps will be pushed to customers' vehicles through software updates.

One interesting quirk is that Tesla can't yet push the updated map to everyone over the air, since, "remote over-the-air software updates are not yet supported in Chinese Model S." Instead, Tesla will have to rely on its backend system to update the EV to what most American customers would consider standard equipment in a car in this price range. You can read the whole thing here.

NHTSA investigating more than 300k Chevy Impala sedans for airbags

Posted Jul 25th 2014 5:59PM

2011 Chevrolet Impala

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating vehicles from General Motors (if we had a nickel for every time we've written that this year). This time around, 320,000 Chevrolet Impala sedans from model year 2008 (the above photo is a 2011 model) are the focus, thanks to a defect petition filed way back in November, which NHTSA has just now opted to take a closer look at. This isn't a formal investigation just yet, although it could evolve into one depending on the review of the petition.

Donald Friedman, from Xprts, LLC, filed the original complaint, which focuses on the passenger airbag's Occupant Classification System. If any of this sounds familiar, it's because Friedman and Xprts aren't the only safety-focused folks asking NHTSA to take a closer look at the last-generation Impala. Clarence Ditlow and the Center for Auto Safety have also called out the OCS on certain last-gen Impalas. In those cases, a bad algorithm in the system would prevent the airbag from deploying if a seat's occupant bounced out ahead the impact.

While Xprts' complaint doesn't get into OCS specifics, it does call out the "software logic and algorithm," according to The Detroit News. The focus of the investigation revolves around a crash involving an elderly Texas couple and their 2008 Impala. Both occupants weighed around 170 pounds, yet only the driver's-side airbag deployed. The passenger airbag, meanwhile, was kept from deploying by the OCS.

Despite this case, NHTSA "has not identified reports indicating the presence of an OCS related defect in the 2004-2014 Impala," it said in a statement. "However, and in an abundance of caution, an evaluation of a limited scope of GM models, which will include a request for potentially related data on the MY 2007 to 2009 Impala, will be conducted to further evaluate the petitioner's allegations."

GM spokesman Alan Adler has told The News that the embattled company "will cooperate with NHTSA on its request for information. While the agency has 'out of an abundance of caution' asked for information on certain models of Impalas in the original defect petition, it is important to note that the agency has not opened a formal investigation."

More on this as it develops.

News Source: The Detroit News

Ford car-camo artist works his craft on Australia's new Falcon XR8

Posted Jul 25th 2014 5:15PM

Ford Falcon camouflage

Ford is among the kings of concealment when it comes to test cars. On one recent Mustang SVT mule, the automaker went to the extreme of putting baffles over the exhausts to hide how many there were. Sounds like a lot of work, right? In a new video, the Blue Oval has decided to take fans behind the scenes to show them what it takes to camouflage a prototype. In this case the subject was the recently unveiled 2014 Falcon XR8 for Australia.

Ford's prototype build coordinator Down Under has the very appropriate name of Neil Trickey, and it's his job to obfuscate the important bits of test cars to keep them out of spy shooters' camera lenses. Trickey calls his job a "dark art," and he shows off some of the tricks of his trade in the video. It turns out that the fabric we often see on mules is a type of lycra, but his team isn't above getting out a can of spray paint to conceal parts, too.

Scroll down to watch a video about a man who you probably wish could be a little worse at his job.

News Source: Ford Australia via YouTube

These are the top luxury cars bought by people entering the segment for the first time

Posted Jul 25th 2014 4:30PM

Volvo C70

Let's say you just got a big promotion at work or the kids are moving out of the house, and you finally have some extra money. You decide to blow it all at once and treat yourself by upgrading your ride. Naturally, you look to a luxury automaker. What do you choose?

Models like the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class may be tailor-made to introduce buyers to the premium segment, but a new study finds that they don't garner the highest rates of non-luxury customer conquests. It turns out that a Volvo leads among folks moving up to a premium brand, and it isn't even one that's made anymore, at that.

A recent study by Polk and IHS Automotive looked at what models had the highest rates of buyers upgrading from a non-luxury segment. The information comes from its new vehicle registration data through April 2014. All ten top models boasted conquest rates of over 50 percent, but the Volvo C70 led the field with 68.01 percent of its customers coming from non-premium brands.

It's an odd winner because the C70 isn't even available as a new model anymore, having been discontinued after the 2013 model year. It isn't the only car no longer offered that's on the list, either. The BMW 128i is in seventh place with 53.93 percent of conquest buyers despite leaving us in MY 2014. It seems likely that some of these vehicles are still on dealer lots, and buyers are getting good incentives to pick them up at lower prices.

According to Polk, the 10 models with the highest conquest rates from non-luxury segments are: If you're curious about the other side of the table, the Mercedes S-Class is the least likely vehicle for new luxury buyers to choose at 10.35 percent. Although, that's not exactly a shock – with a starting price of nearly $100,000, it would be quite a leap up from a Camry or Accord.

News Source: Polk

Will this 1966 Ferrari three-seater surpass $20M at Pebble Beach auction?

Posted Jul 25th 2014 3:44PM

1966 Ferrari 365 P Berlinetta Speciale

With a week of lavish automotive events coming up centered around the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in August, some of the highest profile auto auctions in the world are about to take place. Hearing about Ferrari Testa Rossas and 250 GTOs going for tens of millions of dollars during these events is commonplace, but Gooding & Company is bringing a unique Prancing Horse to sell in California that could be a record-breaker for the company.

The car in question is the drop-dead gorgeous 1966 Ferrari 365 P Berlinetta Speciale with just 7,900 kilometers (4,910 miles) on the clock that's pictured above, and it checks all of the boxes to make it incredibly desirable. First off, just look at it. The flowing lines and giant, tinted moonroof really make this Ferrari a head-turner. Inside, it has the distinctive feature of three seats with the driver slightly forward in the middle, kind of like the McLaren F1. And what a view from behind the wheel with all of the expansive glass in front of and above the driver. According to the auction listing, Pininfarina displayed the Speciale at a variety of international motor shows in 1966 and 1967.

If the looks aren't enough, then the provenance puts this Ferrari over the top, for sure. Underneath those gorgeous lines is the chassis from a Ferrari 365 P2 endurance racer. The sale claims that this was the first mid-engine, Ferrari 12-cylinder model created from the start as a road car. After touring with Pininfarina, it went to Luigi Chinetti, the first man to sell a Prancing Horse in the US and the boss of the company's North American Racing Team. He sold it twice, but the Speciale has been in the hands of the Chinetti since 1969.

Gooding isn't offering a dollar estimate on the sale, but it's expecting big things. "The most expensive automobile that Gooding & Company has ever sold at public auction is the 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa. We expect to shatter that record at Pebble Beach this year," said company boss David Gooding about the car, according to a spokesperson to Autoblog. That Testa Rossa went for $16.39 million after fees. It gives the 365 a lot to live up to. Scroll down to read the entire auction listing.

News Source: Gooding & Company

Image Credit: Brian Henniker, Mathieu Heurtault / Gooding & Company

Dealership refunds student for broken Saab with bags of pennies

Posted Jul 25th 2014 3:01PM

Woman refunded by dealer with bag of pennies

Every so often, we come across the story of someone trying to "stick it to the man" by paying a parking fine or speeding ticket in pennies or dimes. Never, though, have we heard of a business stooping to such clichéd lengths. Enter Florida.

Irena Mujakovic bought a 2003 Saab way back in January from Holiday Motors, in Jacksonville, FL. Shortly after the purchase, the transmission started acting up. She returned to the dealer and paid for the repair, and purchased a warranty for future issues. Total cost: $300. But then the trans crapped out not long after the initial repair, and Mujakovic was back at Holiday Motors. This is where things start going south.

This second trip cost Mujakovic $400, with her warranty in hand. That's because the man that runs the dealer, Ed Di Miranda, neglected to mention that the warranty didn't cover labor costs.

"The warranty did not cover labor and I failed to write that in and that was her loophole," Di Miranda told First Coast News.

The young college student filed a complaint with the Florida DMV, who sided with her and ordered Holiday Motors to refund the money. Di Miranda and the dealership did just that, but when Mujakovic came to collect her refund, it was to a bag of pennies, with a few dollar bills sprinkled in for good measure.

Di Miranda, doesn't seem to think he's done anything wrong, claiming that only about $85 was in change, while the rest was paper money. "I am doing what DMV asked me to do," Di Miranda said. "It is legal tender."

Mujakovic has not collected her refund. Have a look below for the video news report.

McLaren previews P1 GTR concept ahead of Pebble Beach debut

Posted Jul 25th 2014 2:13PM

McLaren P1 GTR Design Concept

McLaren, Ferrari and Porsche have all come out with their hybrid-powered hypercars, vehicles that boast the bleeding edge of what is possible with today's road-car technology. The next step, at least in the case of McLaren and Ferrari, is to push that bleeding edge just a hair further, with even faster, more focused versions of the P1 and LaFerrari. At the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, McLaren will be the first to give us a glimpse of that boundary-pushing machine.

The British automaker has announced that the P1 GTR Design Concept will make its global debut smack dab in the middle of Monterey's legendary car week, with the veil lifting on Friday, August 15 at 6:00 PM EST.

McLaren doesn't go into many specifics here, simply calling the P1 GTR a track-focused variant of the P1, which we kind of already knew. Based on what we can see from the lone teaser sketch, the new model will have a much more dramatic aerodynamic presence than the street model, with a massive rear wing and a huge rear diffuser. Sandwiched between those two items are a pair of exhaust tips that wouldn't look out of place on the deck of your average battleship. Carbon fiber should feature prominently, with a few exposed sections of the stuff visible in the teaser image.

Production is slated to begin promptly after the final P1 street car rolls off the Woking production line, sometime in June 2015. Of course, we'll have much, much more on the P1 GTR when it makes its debut at Pebble Beach. Keep an eye on this space come August 15. Until then, scroll down for the official press release from McLaren.

News Source: McLaren

FBI investigating recently fired Ford engineer for espionage [UPDATE]

Posted Jul 25th 2014 1:44PM

US FORD JOB CUTS

UPDATE: We have received a statement from Ford Global Corporate Communications Manager, Susan Krusel, which contradicts some statements in the original story by the Detroit News. Krusel writes:

"Ford initiated an investigation of a now former employee and requested the assistance of the FBI. Ford's offices were not searched by the agency; Ford voluntarily provided the information and items requested in the search warrant. We continue to work in cooperation with the FBI on this joint investigation. As this is an ongoing investigation, we are not able to provide additional details."


UPDATE #2: Autoblog spoke with David Porter, media coordinator for the FBI's Detroit field office, who was able to confirm that the statement we received from Ford is accurate. Agents from the FBI executed a search warrant at Ford offices, which involved company representatives "immediately" presenting agents with the items/information requested on the warrant.


Agents of the FBI are investigating a potential case of industrial espionage involving a recently fired Ford employee. The Dearborn, MI-based manufacturer had its world headquarters searched by FBI agents on July 11, and according to The Detroit News, had warrants to seize recording devices handed over to Ford by Sharon Leach, a now-former Ford engineer.

Leach, who had spent 17 years with the Blue Oval, was fired last month, after Ford Security relieved her of eight Sansa listening devices. The FBI got involved shortly after her dismissal, searching her home on June 20 and seizing some two dozen items, including computers, jump drives and financial records, according to warrants obtained by The News.

Ford has remained quiet on the matter, with spokeswoman Susan Krusel confirming that the automaker was working with the FBI as part of a "joint investigation," while declining to provide any additional details.

"It didn't involve anything of a spying nature." – Marshall Tauber

Legal experts are watching the case closely, as the move to search and seize items rather than issuing of a subpoena would indicate that the Feds are concerned that evidence could be destroyed.

"If it's an economic espionage case or trade secrets case, that rarely involves one individual," Peter Henning, a law professor at Detroit's Wayne State University, told The News. "So the concern is if you send a subpoena and ask for recording devices, those things can be erased."

Leach declined to comment to The News. Her attorney, meanwhile, is denying any wrongdoing and claiming the recording devices were used without malice.

"It didn't involve anything of a spying nature," Marshall Tauber, Leach's lawyer, told The News. "She wanted to record conversations of meetings she attended but didn't know how to do it. She was insecure about her note-taking."

Be that as it may, the fact that the listening devices were installed before Leach's meetings and were left in conference rooms after that, is suspicious enough that it led Ford Security to get involved.

Leach later admitted to using the devices, and claimed that she only used them to record her own meetings. According to Tauber, she said she erased them as soon as she listened to them and revised her notes.

"I think you're dealing with a person who was seeing how sharp the new kids are and maybe feeling a need to keep up with them," Tauber told The News. "And maybe she realized that she's not as attentive as she once was and needs a little assistance. Maybe her memory was failing her on the technology end but she didn't want to admit it."

The case is now in the hands of the US Attorney's Office and the FBI.

News Source: The Detroit News

Image Credit: Paul Sancya / AP

Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat in the works

Posted Jul 25th 2014 12:56PM

2015 Dodge Charger

In Autoblog's recent First Drive of the 2015 Challenger SRT with the 707-horsepower Hellcat V8 we found its engine to be as brutally powerful as the numbers would suggest, even if it wasn't the best handler. However, the muscle-car-styling just isn't right for some buyers that need four doors and proper rear seats to haul around the family. It appears that Dodge has their backs, though, because the Hellcat is very likely on its way into the Charger in the near future. Imagine the looks on your passengers' faces when you stomp down on the throttle.

According to Road & Track, when Dodge submitted the Hellcat for engine power certification to the Society of Automotive Engineers, the company included the Charger on the paperwork. That showed that the automaker wanted the engine checked out for the sedan, too. R&T reckons the 707-hp Charger would hit the road about a year from now, clearing the Challenger for a year of exclusivity with the powerplant.

When the Charger SRT Hellcat does hit the road, it may carry a very special accolade. Assuming nothing beats it in the meantime, it might be the world's highest horsepower production sedan. Think on that for a second. Even a Mercedes S65 AMG only has 621 horsepower, though a good bit more torque at 738 pound-feet to the Dodge's 650 lb-ft. So while the beastly engine is getting put into other models, where else would you like to see it? The Ram? Grand Cherokee? Let us know in Comments.

News Source: Road & Track

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Drew Phillips , Seyth Miersma / AOL

This vintage racer is a Peerless competitor

Posted Jul 25th 2014 12:15PM

Peerless from Petrolicious

Sometimes important decisions come down to a split second where you just have to go with your gut. While leaving is son Paul's soccer game in the early 1990s, Ron Cressey spotted a 1959 Peerless GT on a car transporter. It turned out the owner was moving and shipping the car with him. Not wanting to let the opportunity pass, Ron started negotiating and bought the car on the spot. It took him another five years to restore it for vintage racing.

Cressey certainly has an eye for rarity because Peerless is among the lesser known British sports car builders. The company went out of business in 1960 and only sold cars for a few years. For the GT, Peerless took the engine, transmission and front suspension from a Triumph TR3, plus a Jaguar rear differential, and crafted a coupe body over it all.

As usual, Petrolicious contributes cinematography that is among the best anywhere on the web, and its sound mix allows the Peerless' four-cylinder engine to really sing. Scroll down to learn more about this vintage racer and the father/son connection that keeps it at the track.

News Source: Petrolicious via YouTube

Loading

Loading
Advertisement
Autoblog iPhone App
Shop for a vehicle