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New Fisker Karma will look a lot like the old one

Posted Sep 21st 2014 9:01AM

fisker karma

Fisker Automotive appears to be wrangling up its proverbial ducks and properly aligning them again after halting production nearly two years ago. After filing for bankruptcy, the Chinese company Wanxiang, like an angel made of money, scooped up the maker of the Karma range-extended electric sports car for the sizeable sum of $149.2 million. Now, Wanxiang is looking to relaunch the Karma by early 2015, and the car that we see upon its revival will likely look quite familiar.

An insider who wished to remain anonymous told Automotive News the new Karma "will have to be nearly identical to the 2012 model." Hoping to relaunch quickly, the company doesn't have the luxury of undergoing new safety testing and certification that would be required if it made major changes to the car. Also, the less engineering that needs to be done and the more old parts Fisker can take advantage of, the better.

However, another person close to the project paints a slightly different picture of the new Fisker Karma. "The new Karma will be different in many key areas," said the unnamed source, without giving specifics. "It will have noticeable upgrades."

Throwing a possible wrench in the works are Fisker's old suppliers, who are none too pleased about being left behind when the automaker stopped making cars. Many ended up clearing out the tools they were using to make parts for the Karma. With the time that has passed, one critical supplier suggests that the new Karma might be a bit stale, stating, "You're not buying something that's considered 'state of the art' necessarily."

Still, with only about 1,800 Fisker Karmas having been sold before the disruption, the renewed model, similar as it may be to the old, will still seem fresh to all those eyes that haven't yet beheld the sleek EV. Even if, as some worry, it takes a bit longer to get production back on track, there's sure to be many happy to see the new car (and even some of the old ones) on the road.

News Source: Automotive News - sub. req.

Image Credit: Fisker Automotive

Triumph takes us on an emotional journey over the salt

Posted Sep 20th 2014 7:01PM

Triumph Castrol Rocket at Bonneville Salt Flats

Every once in a while, Mother Nature has a rather tenuous relationship with her children. Such a scenario plays out each and every year as mankind clings to one of the last vestiges of open space left on our planet, the Bonneville Salt Flats, to which hundreds of men and women each year flock to take out their frustrations with the pace of life by attempting to outdo and one-up the accomplishments of those who dared make a similar attempt in years prior. It's a vicious cycle, and one that depends upon the cooperation of Mother Nature in order to keep itself perpetually spinning.

When it comes to actually producing some meaningful documentary-style video on the symbiotic relationship between mankind and Planet Earth, nobody does a better job than the British. Beautiful cinematography joined with well-written prose and a soothing voiceover with a pleasant accent makes for a nice way to spend a few minutes, and that's exactly what we suggest you do as you watch the videos we've embedded right down below. They are brought to you by Triumph and Castrol, which have teamed up to break the 400-mile-per-hour barrier in a machine they have aptly named Rocket.

News Source: Triumph North America via YouTube [1], [2]

Scion sketches SEMA spread starring Slayer, skateboarder

Posted Sep 20th 2014 5:00PM

Scion tC Slayer Concept

Scion xB Riley HawkI was in Nashville last weekend for a friend's bachelor party. It's all rather fuzzy, but I do recall that my friends and I found it hilarious to request Slayer every time one of the country groups on the Broadway strip asked for a specific song to be played. While there were a few good sports, most didn't find it too funny, largely because country music and Slayer don't mix all that well. Actually, Slayer and a lot of things don't mix too well. Like Slayer and Scion, Toyota's slowly withering youth brand.

This mish-mash hasn't prevented the Japanese budget brand from teaming with the metal group for a concept vehicle based on the tC coupe (shown above). If the Slayer link is a bit too extreme, Scion has a more mainstream xB, styled by skateboarder Riley Hawk on the way. Both new vehicles will be shown at the upcoming SEMA show, but Scion has opted to release a pair of sketches of both aftermarket creations ahead of the Las Vegas expo.

It's hard to tell what kind of exterior changes have been made to the tC, although Scion says the cabin now boasts a 32-inch monitor, as well as a heavily revamped stereo. As you can see, it will say "Slayer" on the door, in the band's stylized script.

"Slayer's fans are going to be excited when we reveal what a metal-inspired Scion tC looks like," Slayer guitarist Kerry King said in a statement. "Working with Scion has given us another way to reach new audiences and inspire them to keep going down their own paths."

As for the xB, the biggest change is the higher roof, which provides accommodations for both an upgraded stereo and skateboards. The overall inspiration for the boxy five-door was the 1970s, and it's been equipped suitably, with an 8-track player, shag carpets and wood-grain paneling.

Check back for more on these Scions, as well as the rest of the lunacy from the 2014 SEMA Show when it kicks off on November 4 in Las Vegas. Until then, scroll down for the official press release.

News Source: Scion

Fiat Chrysler interested in Piaggio; Mahindra considering Peugeot Motorcycles?

Posted Sep 20th 2014 3:00PM

2013 Vespa 946 scooter

We're not yet ready to call it a trend, but rumors have been flying that a couple more major automakers have set their sights on motorcycle manufacturers to add to their portfolios. If they do, they'll be following in the footsteps of the Volkswagen Group, which gobbled up Ducati and put it under the Audi brand in its ever-growing stable of nameplates.

According to rumors floating in from Italy, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is considering bringing the Piaggio , which would likely include Aprilia, Moto Guzzi and Vespa, brand under its umbrella. While the automaker is currently denying such rumors, a tie-up wouldn't be without merit. In the eyes of certain financial or some-such experts, since BMW is well-known for both cars and motorcycles, a brand that competes could conceivably add in some two-wheeled flavor in order to truly rival the Bavarian firm on all levels, both on paper and in the minds of consumers.

We've also heard rumors that Daimler has more than a passing interest in MV Agusta, a storied Italian marque that has seen a number of ups and downs over the last several decades, and could conceivably market it as a sub-brand under Mercedes-Benz. And then there's Mahindra, which is said to be taking a long, hard look at Peugeot Motorcycles, the scooter-heavy brand that has been losing money for parent company PSA Peugeot Citroën for the last decade, according to Bloomberg.

In any case, while we're not quite sure which of these rumors are most likely to turn into reality, we can at least say that such a move wouldn't be without precedent, and wouldn't be terribly surprising given the current automaking climate. Stay tuned for more as we hear it.
Related Gallery2013 Vespa 946
2013 Vespa 9462013 Vespa 9462013 Vespa 9462013 Vespa 9462013 Vespa 9462013 Vespa 9462013 Vespa 9462013 Vespa 946

News Source: Allpar, Bloomberg

Nissan wants an American driver for its Le Mans team

Posted Sep 20th 2014 1:01PM

Nissan Le Mans race car

"We'll use every driver development tool we have to take them to the next level, but they will also have to step up." – Darren Cox

Nissan is aiming to put an American behind the wheel of one of its LMP1 racecars in 2016 as part of plans to grow its motorsports program in the United States.

The driver would compete in the LMP2 class and the new LMP3 class of the FIA World Endurance Car Championship next year and then graduate to the higher level of competition. Nissan said it would select candidates from its GT Academy program, including former winners Bryan Heitkotter, Steve Doherty and Nick McMillen, plus other drivers. Ultimately, the goal is to have an American on the grid at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

"We'll use every driver development tool we have to take them to the next level, but they will also have to step up," Darren Cox, Nismo global head of brand, marketing and sales, said in a statement. "It is going to take more than just talent to get them into an LMP1 car, but the opportunity will be there if they are prepared to work for it."

Nissan's LMP1 program will launch next season, competing against Audi, Toyota and Porsche on circuits around the world. It will be based in Indianapolis in the facility of an old Champ Car team, Forsythe Racing, and have facilities in Europe and Japan. The LMP1 racer takes the name of one of Nissan's most famous sports cars, and it will be called the GT-R LM Nismo. Nissan will field two cars, and possibly a third one at Le Mans, a spokesman said.

Founded in 2008, Nissan's GT Academy has taken video gamers and turned them into professional drivers-with extensive training that maximizes their talents and translates that into real-world racing skills. More than five million gamers have used the academy through PlayStation, Nissan said.

In other racing news, Nissan also announced it will supply engines for the LMP3 series, which launches next season in Europe.

News Source: Nissan

Image Credit: Nissan

Weekly Recap: NHTSA searches for answers after Congressional grilling

Plus: Notes On Mercedes, GM Midsize Trucks And Lincoln's Plans For China

Posted Sep 20th 2014 11:02AM

GM to Pay Record $35 Million Fine on Ignition-Switch Recall

By the end of the lengthy session, senators had painted the unflattering portrait of a toothless agency in disarray.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration received a brutal one-two punch from Congress this week for its response to the General Motors ignition-switch scandal.

NHTSA was hammered in a 45-page House report, and then grilled by senators during a hearing on Capitol Hill. Both on paper and in person, legislators picked apart the agency's plodding, seemingly inept responses to GM, and questioned NHTSA's ability to serve as a watchdog for the auto industry, which has faced extensive recalls, fines and controversy in recent years.

Deputy administrator David Friedman, who's only been with NHTSA since 2013, had few answers when questioned on the hill, and by the end of the lengthy session, senators had painted the unflattering portrait of a toothless agency in disarray.

Yes, there was some grandstanding. But legislators, and Friedman's responses to their often-testy questions, illustrated a valuable point – NHTSA needs help. It needs more power, more people and more money to effectively regulate on of the most complex industries in the nation.

Image Credit: Bloomberg via Getty | Associated Press | Seyth Miersma / AOL | General Motors | Lincoln

Stop-start problems could lead to rise of ultracapacitors

Posted Sep 20th 2014 9:00AM

Battery

The proliferation of start-stop systems in today's cars and trucks is pretty simple to explain. With these systems, manufacturers have an easy, mostly unobtrusive way of boosting a vehicle's fuel economy. As with just about anything though, there are drawbacks to modern start-stop tech.

In particular, they're not great when paired with today's lead-acid batteries. These batteries limit the ability of the start-stop function to operate based on factors like charge level and temperature. If the battery is outside the parameters, the stop-start system won't function, curbing any potential fuel economy gains. Obviously, this problem will only become more noticeable as the battery ages.

Ultracapacitors could solve this problem, though, according to a new report from Ward's Auto. Because ultracapacitors can be cycled rapidly and they can store quite a lot of energy – they don't function via chemical reactions, like standard batteries – they could handle the stop-start duties when the battery isn't up to snuff.

There are other applications for the high-powered capacitors too, including regenerative braking functions, where their ability to harness energy can really be taken advantage of. Ward's has a great breakdown of the pros and cons in a fairly extensive feature on the future of this potentially big automotive technology.

News Source: Ward's Auto

Image Credit: AndyArmstrong/Flickr - CC 2.0

BMW X5 driver repeatedly fails to understand big rig braking distances

Posted Sep 19th 2014 8:00PM

Russian Semi repeatedly hits a BMW

Nobody should be shocked that a big, heavy vehicle like a semi truck takes a longer distance to stop than the average passenger car; it's just basic physics. However, this BMW X5 driver seemingly has a major problem grasping the concept, and it results in some serious damage to the back of his SUV.

The whole incident is very confusing to watch. The BMW doesn't even seem to have a reason to slow down before the semi slams into the back of it at fairly high speed. But to make the situation even weirder, the crashes just keep happening again and again.

To give the BMW driver a little credit, he appears amazingly calm when surveying the damage afterward. But you have to wonder what this guy was thinking when trying a harebrained move like this. Check out the video to watch the carnage unfold.

News Source: Aleksandr Prosvetov via YouTube

What you missed on 9.19.14

Posted Sep 19th 2014 7:32PM

uturn

Ford Mustang2015 Ford Mustang first drive

Finally. After drooling over the 2015 Ford Mustang since it first drove onto our screens last year, we've now had the chance to drive Ford's pony car in and around Los Angeles. Jonathon Ramsey focuses on what's most important here, the actual driving dynamics, in his full review. Give it a read, here.





Cadillac LTSNew Cadillac flagship will be built in Detroit

Cadillac has big things in store for its next all-new product – literally. The automaker is finally launching a proper, large flagship sedan to slot above the XTS, based on rear-wheel-drive architecture, and ready to compete with the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. And today, we learned that Cadillac will build its new flagship in Detroit. 'Merica!




radar gunNew radar gun can sense texting while driving

Our lead feet might not really love cops' radar guns, but when it comes to the subject of texting and driving, we're fully onboard with anything that will stop people from being so stupidly distracted (seriously – put your phones down). A new technology might allow those very radar guns we oft loathe to catch people texting while driving. Read all about it, here.



Top Stories

The ugly economics of green vehicles

Posted Sep 19th 2014 6:45PM

Oil Prices

It's fair to say that most consumers would prefer a green vehicle, one that has a lower impact on the environment and goes easy on costly fuel (in all senses of the term). The problem is that most people can't – or won't – pay the price premium or put up with the compromises today's green cars demand. We're not all "cashed-up greenies."

In 2013, the average selling price of a new vehicle was $32,086.

The truth is that most Americans can't afford a new car, green or not. In 2013, the average selling price of a new vehicle was $32,086. According to a recent Federal Reserve study, the median income for American families was $46,700 in 2013, a five-percent decline from $49,000 in 2010. While $32,000 for a car may not sound like a lot to some, it's about $630 a month financing for 48 months, assuming the buyer can come up with a $6,400 down payment. And that doesn't include gas, insurance, taxes, maintenance and all the rest. It's no wonder that a recent study showed that the average family could afford a new car in only one of 25 major US cities.

AutoTrader conducted a recent survey of 1,900 millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000) about their new and used car buying habits. Isabelle Helms, AutoTrader's vice president of research, said millennials are "big on small" vehicles, which tend to be more affordable. Millennials also yearn for alternative-powered vehicles, but "they generally can't afford them."

When it comes to the actual behavior of consumers, the operative word is "affordable," not "green." In 2012, US new car sales rose to 14.5 million. But according to Manheim Research, at 40.5 million units, used car sales were almost three times as great. While the days of the smoke-belching beater are mostly gone, it's a safe bet that the used cars are far less green in terms of gas mileage, emissions, new technology, etc., than new ones.

News Source: AutoTrader, Think Carbon

Image Credit: Cars: Automakers, Dealership: Rick Bowmer / AP

Is Lamborghini readying a hybrid for Paris?

Posted Sep 19th 2014 5:58PM

Lamborghini teaser

AsterionLamborghini had us seriously stumped when it released its teaser (above) for a new vehicle that'll debut at the upcoming Paris Motor Show. The image seemed to depict a fastback GT somewhat reminiscent of Lambo's earlier 2+2 models like the Espada, and was accompanied by the sentence, "Once perfection is achieved, you can just double it." We're still not entirely sure what the means, but a possible leaked logo for the car might offer some big hints about its powertrain.

According to the Office of Harmonization in the Internal Market in Europe, Lamborghini applied for a trademark on the name Asterion on September 15 to cover vehicles, clothing, toys and video games. The logo (right) included a lightning bolt slashing through the 'O' in the word. That could suggest this forthcoming vehicle is a hybrid, but it's also not clear whether we're going to be hearing about a pure concept, or a production model.

The name itself might also be a tell. Asterion is one of the names for the Minotaur in Greek mythology, which is a creature that is part bull and part man. This could be another indication that the concept combines the traditional Lamborghini style with something else.

The possibility of a hybrid Lamborghini really shouldn't be a total shock, though. The latest run of hypercars like the Ferrari LaFerrari and McLaren P1 already use the tech, and the company's own Aventador has capacitors to power its stop/start system. Still, we can't wait to see what the new Lambo has to show when it debuts on October 2.

Ford opens the doors on its Swedish rally skunkworks

Posted Sep 19th 2014 5:13PM

Ford Oldsberg MSE Rally Shop tour

It's always amazing to see how different kinds of racecars are made. Formula One racers are often constructed in modern architectural marvels that hint at some of the cutting-edge technology going into the racing. Conversely, rallying is all about sliding around on a varied course as fast as possible, but it often leaves a vehicle caked in mud. So it makes some sense Olsbergs MSE, or simply (OMSE) rally car shop in Nynashamn, Sweden, shows technological sophistication in a more down-to-earth setting. It builds Ford Fiesta ST racers for Global Rallycross there, and this new video gives viewers a tour through the work.

Former rally driver Andreas Eriksson runs OMSE. These days instead of racing, he and the company's 46 employees are building Ford racers from scratch. A ton of work goes into constructing each one, and according to Eriksson, it takes 400 hours to complete each body. At times, things are so busy that some of the technicians live in the shop in apartments that are on premises. There's even a restaurant to keep them fed. Sadly the dyno room is empty during this visit, though.

By the time OMSE is done, a rallycross car might resemble a Fiesta ST on the outside, but as you see in the video, it's a completely different beast underneath. Check out the work it takes to build one of them, and scroll down to read more about it in the official release.

News Source: Ford, Ford Racing via YouTube

Man orders $20M-worth of Rolls-Royce Phantoms

Posted Sep 19th 2014 4:30PM

Rolls-Royce Phantom Extended Wheelbase order by Stephen Hung

Rolls-Royce Phantom Extended Wheelbase Louis XIII HotelThe term "luxury" gets thrown around a lot when speaking about vehicles that are actually somewhat affordable like BMWs and Cadillacs, but Rolls-Royce and hotel magnate Stephen Hung (above in the wild suit) are proving what real opulence really is with the largest single order from the fabled British marque, ever. Hung is purchasing 30 custom examples of the Phantom Extended Wheelbase (pictured right) for $20 million. To push the deal even further over the top, two of the Phantoms are the most expensive examples ever commissioned.

This assemblage of über-luxury sedans isn't for Hung's personal collection. Instead, the cars are going to be part of the fleet for the swanky hotel and casino that he's opening in Macau, China, in 2016 called the Louis XIII. According to The Washington Post, when the 200-room resort opens, the Louis XIII is supposed to be one of the most mind-blowing places in the world, including a suite that costs $100,000 a night.

When completed, the 30 cars will be in matching crimson red to echo the exterior of the hotel. That color will be carried into the interior trim, as well, including the gauges, and the seats will have a checker board pattern. Each one will be outfitted with a bespoke clock from Graff Luxury Watches. The two most expensive Phantoms will get all of this attention, plus gold-plated trim covering the interior and exterior.

As this huge order suggests, Hung doesn't do anything on a small scale. If you need even more proof of that, Rolls-Royce isn't just providing him with the cars, the automaker is also helping to design the parking area to house them and training the staff to drive the special fleet. Scroll down to read the full announcement of this historic order.

News Source: Rolls-Royce, The Washington Post

Image Credit: Rolls-Royce

2015 GMC Sierra Elevation Edition goes dark, looks good

Posted Sep 19th 2014 3:45PM

GMC Sierra Elevation Edition

Forget about the so-called sporty Chevrolet Silverado Rally Edition. If you want a General Motors pickup with some added style, this one looks like a more cohesive, well-done package to our eyes (though it's also not "sporty," despite GM using that term over and over again). It's called the GMC Sierra Elevation Edition, and it hits dealerships later this year.

For its more stylish truck, GMC has fitted the 2015 Sierra Double Cab with a body-colored grille surround, door handles, mirror caps, side moldings and bumpers. The truck also rides on black 20-inch aluminum wheels.

The Elevation Edition, which GMC contends qualifies as a sport truck, comes standard with the Sierra's 285-horsepower, 4.3-liter V6, though buyers can opt for the more powerful 5.3-liter V8 with 355 hp. Other standard goodies include OnStar with 4G LTE connectivity and Bluetooth, all housed in the 4.2-inch Intellilink color display.

Pricing information has yet to be announced, but in the mean time, click through the gallery above to see more shots of the Elevation Edition, and take a glance below for the official press blast.

News Source: GMC

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