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2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat [w/videos]

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    2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat [w/videos]
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    2014 Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles: Part 2 [w/video]
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    How Hollywood furthered our automotive obsession [w/videos]
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    2015 Ford F-150 specs revealed, EcoBoost 2.7L to make 325 hp and 375 lb-ft [w/video]
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Unplugged Performance sweetens the look of your Tesla Model S for around $6,000

Posted Jul 23rd 2014 9:59AM

Tesla Model S with Unplugged Performance Tuner Kit

Tesla electric vehicles are no strangers to the tuner set. Saleen is working on a modified Model S. Brabus once offered neon for your Roadster. And new we find a number of body panel upgrades for the Model S from Unplugged Performance.

Unplugged Performance has its offices right by the Tesla's Supercharger in Hawthorne, CA, and sales manager Mark Borushko told AutoblogGreen that Tesla employees often express their appreciation for what UP has done to change the look of the Model S. The upgrade parts are made in the US and were designed in-house by an ex-Ferrari guy, Borushko said.

What upgrades are there? There's the front spoiler and diffuser (starting at $995), the rear spoiler and diffuser ($1,550), trunk spoiler ($895), side skirts ($1,450) and the Complete Front Fascia System ($1,000). Those prices are all for the unpainted parts. Add a few hundred bucks to each to upgrade to matching paint colors or carbon fiber parts. Borushko said that in the year that Unplugged Performance has been around, they've sold about 30 kits – meaning one of everything – worldwide. There are people who just buy just the trunk spoiler, for example, he said, but about 90 percent of UP's customers opt for the full kit. Borushko said UP will have to see if there's interest in a kit for the Model X, but there likely will be.

Unplugged Performance is a part of Bulletproof Automotive, which offers upgrades for all sorts of vehicles. The Unplugged Performance phone number is the same as the one for Tesla Everything, so we're pretty sure someone over there is a big Model S fan.

How cars are being exported individually and why carmakers are upset about it

Posted Jul 23rd 2014 9:15AM

A Mercedes Benz car stands in front of a

Cars are expensive in China, especially if they happen to wear the badge of a prestigious manufacturer. As we've pointed out before, the price of a Range Rover over in the People's Republic sits at the equivalent of about $450,000, despite its US starting price of $84,225. In addition to that princely sum, many customers shell out an additional $80,000 as part of what we imagine is an exceptionally profitable reservation system for new vehicle allocations.

Considering this, the increase in the number of companies exporting vehicles from US dealerships to China has become big business, and it's not difficult to understand why. Take our $450K Range Rover, for example. Not including shipping, an imported model is selling for a mere $241,480, according to Automotive News. Even assuming a ridiculously exorbitant shipping price, there's still over $200,000 in savings.

These companies hire individuals to purchase the cars or SUVs from high-end dealerships via cashier's check. The individuals are then paid a delivery charge for dropping the car at the exporters. It's big business, with one company, Efans Trading, exporting 2,000 cars at a value of $80 million back in 2012. But exporters aren't exactly in the good graces of automakers.

Manufacturers have issued severe punishments, ranging from fines to loss of bonuses to nullification of franchise agreements, for dealerships that both knowingly and unknowingly deal with exporters. After all, if the manufacturer is operating in the targeted country, these exporters are essentially taking money out of their pockets. For dealers, though, the appeal is clear: cars are being purchased at cost, with relatively little hassle, making export sales a profitable gamble.

For exporters this practice is coming with increased risks, too. The US Secret Service has cracked down on known exporters, seizing cars slated for export as well as funds. Efans Trading, for example, had millions of dollars and dozens of vehicles seized, USSS Special Agent Morgan Morgan told AN.

Unsurprisingly considering the amount of money at stake, exporters have lawyered up.

"What you have is the federal government protecting foreign manufacturers' profit margins," Josh Widlansky, a Florida lawyer representing one of the groups targeted by the USSS, told AN. "You have totally noncriminal conduct that the government is criminalizing because of these private contracts between the manufacturers and the dealerships."

What do you think? Should dealers face punishments from manufacturers for dealing with exporters? Should exporters be hounded by federal agents? Have your say in Comments.

News Source: Automotive News - sub. req.

Image Credit: Patrik Stollarz / AFP / Getty Images

Chrysler recalling hundreds of thousands of Jeep Grand Cherokee and Commander SUVs

Posted Jul 23rd 2014 8:30AM

2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The public might associated ignition switch recalls with General Motors – and with good cause – but that's not the only automaker calling its vehicles back in to fix that sort of issue.

Last month we reported that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was investigating an array of Chrysler Group vehicles for electrical-related safety issues. The administration and Chrysler subsequently issued a recall for 700,000 Dodge Journey crossovers, Dodge Grand Caravan minivans and Chrysler Town & Country minivans. But while the Jeeps that were also under investigation were not covered in that recall, they are being addressed in a separate one now.

Although Chrysler reports that it is only aware of a single accident stemming from this issue, it is "committing now to conduct a recall out of an abundance of caution." The recall affects the 2006-2007 Jeep Commander and 2005-2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee, of which it reports there are 792,300 on the road: 649,900 in the United States, 28,800 in Canada, 12,800 in Mexico and a further 100,800 outside of North America.

Chrysler is calling in the affected units for similar reasons it recalled the aforementioned minivans and crossovers, and for which GM has recalled millions of its vehicles: namely, that the ignition could be accidentally turned off due to excess weight (like other keys and fobs) attached to the ignition key, or from contact with the driver's knee. As a result, the engine could stall, the power brakes and steering could be disabled and the front airbags may deactivate. The automaker says its "engineers are working to develop a remedy" for the issue.

In an entirely separate announcement, Chrysler is also calling in approximately 21,000 late-model vehicles to inspect and potentially replace their shocks and/or struts. The company reports that a supplier found that the suspension components could "break free from their mounts, which could potentially lead to reduced shock damping and possible loss of vehicle control." The vehicles affected include the 2014 Ram 1500, 2015 Jeep Cherokee and 2015 Chrysler 200 – specifically those built in the 16 days leading up to June 6, 2014. Read the full details of both recalls in the announcements below.
Related Gallery2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee
2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee

News Source: Jeep

GM could add 1,750 new jobs, $800M to MI economy

Posted Jul 23rd 2014 8:05AM

Renaissance Center Light Bands

Grim as things may be at Detroit's Renaissance Center, General Motors is soldiering on, thanks in part to a change in its state tax credit from the Michigan Strategic Fund. The amendment could lead to $800 million in new investments in the state, as well as 1,750 new jobs.

According to The Detroit News, the amendment boosts the number of jobs eligible for the state tax credit at the company's Warren Technical Center from 5,000 to 6,750, leading to speculation that the new positions will be created at the sprawling, suburban campus.

That speculation is backed up by a statement from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which said, "The 1,750 additional jobs will be the result of the consolidation of various engineering functions from outside of Michigan to a site in Michigan."

As for the $800 million in new investment, MEDC claims that GM will upgrade "various facilities in Michigan in anticipation of future vehicle platforms and programs."

GM, however, refused to speculate on the impact of the tax credit changes, with spokesperson Heather Rosenker telling The News:

"GM's prospects are bright, and we want Michigan to play an important part in the company's growth. We are pleased with the state of Michigan's action which makes a strong business case for potential future jobs and investment at GM facilities across Michigan."

News Source: The Detroit News

Image Credit: Carlos Osorio / AP

Stolen Plymouth Barracuda found after 13 years, alleged thief to keep it? [w/video]

Posted Jul 22nd 2014 8:02PM

1970 Plymouth Barracuda

"Why wouldn't the cops get our car? It's very mind boggling." – Jackie White.

For an auto enthusiast, a stolen car represents a roller coaster of emotions, ranging from severe dejection upon realizing what's happened to elation once your car has been recovered. Of course, that roller coaster doesn't always end with such happy feelings, as all too often, a vehicle isn't discovered, or has been found totally stripped of its valuable parts. For Rick White, of Portland, OR, even that low would be an improvement over what he's been experiencing.

White purchased a new Plymouth Barracuda back in 1970. He raced it, and maintained it, until it was stolen in 2001. Despite this, White, and his wife Jackie, never gave up hope that they'd find the Plymouth again.

After years of searching, last month saw a breakthrough. A towing company in northeast Portland, Budget Towing, mailed a letter to the Whites, as they were still listed as the vehicle's owner. The garage had the car in storage, although the man named by Budget, Lee Sitton, had racked up thousands in unpaid storage fees, and the Cuda was slated to be auctioned off. When the Whites contacted the garage, though, Sitton had squared things up, and had retaken possession of the car. That's when the police were called in.

But to the dismay of Rick and Jackie, they were told that despite being listed as the vehicle's owner by the state, the police couldn't march in and seize the Plymouth. That's because the statute of limitations only lasted for three years, Sergeant Pete Simpson of the Portland Police told KATU-2.

"Why wouldn't the cops get our car? It's very mindboggling," said Jackie White, a sentiment echoed by her husband.

"How come police don't have a warrant to go in and get my property?" Rick White asked KATU.

Sitton, for his part, remains adamant that the car is his, telling KATU that he bought the car years ago, he has a bill of sale to prove it and that he didn't believe it was stolen. Things are made more suspicious, though, due to Sitton's dodging of questions relating to who or where he bought it from. He also wouldn't offer an explanation as to why he hasn't titled the Cuda yet. State law requires a vehicle be titled within 30 days of purchase, according to KATU.

"It's a matter of, 'I've got your property, na-na-na-na-na,'" Rick White said of Sitton's possession of the cherished Plymouth.

For now, police are attempting to figure out the legal parameters here, although considering that the Whites are still listed as the owners according to the state, we aren't totally sure what needs to be figured out. Scroll down, and have a look at KATU-2's full report on this frustrating story.

News Source: KATU-2

What you missed on 7.22.14

Posted Jul 22nd 2014 7:30PM

Daily U-Turn

2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat - front three-quarter view, greenFirst Drive: 2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat

Dodge's 2015 Challenger SRT Hellcat has singlehandedly powered the internet since earlier this month, when it was announced that the updated pony car would feature a gobsmacking 707 horsepower and hit 199 mph. Senior Editor Seyth Miersma journeyed to Oregon to drive the beast. He passes judgment on whether all that power can be put to good use or whether this Mopar is just a straight-line, one-trick pony.



Gazelles RallyRallye Aïcha des Gazelles: Part 2

The Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles, now in its 24th running, is an all-female off-road rally through Morocco. It's one of the most grueling, challenging motorsports events in the world, and our man Jonathon Ramsey rode along with this year's competitors to see what it's all about. Check out the second part of our two-installment epic story.




2015 Ford F-150 - Red three-quarter front view2015 Ford F-150 specs revealed

Ford's 2015 F-150 promises to be a watershed vehicle for the industry, if only because of its aluminum-intensive production. We've been eagerly awaiting official powertrain specifications and further details, and now Ford has released a slew of details, including power figures for the F-150's new 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6.


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Apple vs. Google in the battle for your car [w/poll]

Posted Jul 22nd 2014 7:00PM

Apple vs Google in the car

Apple and Google are rapidly opening a new front in the on-going tech wars, as the two giants move out of your pocket and into your car. For Apple, it's using its CarPlay system, while Google will offer its newly unveiled Android Auto operating system.

While these two both offer their own distinct aesthetics, the overall function is the same. You'll plug your phone into the car via USB, and then all of the functions from your overpriced slab of aluminum, glass, plastic and silicon will be automagically added to your car's infotainment display.

Bloomberg TV has an excellent video on the two competing systems that explains why these two titans of technology are so keen on expanding into the dashboard, and what it means for you, the average motorist.

Scroll down for the video, and then be sure to register your opinion in our unofficial poll.

Would you rather have Apple or Google integration for your in-car systems?

News Source: Bloomberg TV

Hot Wheels reveals life-size Darth Vader car at Comic-Con [w/video]

Posted Jul 22nd 2014 6:30PM

Hot Wheels Darth Vader Car

Hot Wheels Darth Vader Toy CarLet's face it; Darth Vader is a thousand times cooler than Luke Skywalker. The hero might get the girl, but in the case of Star Wars, it's his sister. Vader, though, controls the Death Star, two of them in fact. It turns out that the Sith Lord has a meaner car too, at least thanks to Hot Wheels.

With Star Wars a hotter property that the surface of Tatooine thanks to the new movie due in 2015, Hot Wheels has partnered with the brand to sell replica vehicles and playsets later this year. It's kicking off the new toy line with a life-size, fully operational, one-off Darth Vader Car at San Diego Comic-Con on July 23.

According to Hot Wheels to Autoblog via email, the Darth Vader Car "was designed in-house at Mattel" and built by Picture Car Warehouse. It uses a tuned LS3 V8 to send 526 horsepower to the rear wheels and has a backlit, side-exit exhaust system. The nose piece is made from carbon fiber, and it rides on a custom set of wheels from MHT. If you can't make it to San Diego to see the Vader, don't fret. "It will certainly be making appearances after Comic-Con for fans," said a company spokesperson.

The earlier image we saw of the car looked downright ugly, but the Sith's helmet made the transition into real life with a lot more menace. You could easily imagine the Vader as a very wicked-looking hotrod. The triple headlights and split windshield are especially nice touches.

If you happen to be at the con, you can even buy the 1:64 toy version of the car that comes in a case that looks like Vader's red lightsaber, plus a commemorative box, for $40.00. There will also be a limited number on sale after the show at Hot Wheels Collectors. Scroll down to watch the Vader Car in action with some very over-the-top dialogue and read the full announcement of the official vehicle of the dark side of the force.

News Source: Mattel, Hot Wheels via YouTube

Seoul moves to ban Uber, create own app

Posted Jul 22nd 2014 6:01PM

Barcelona Cabs Strike Against Uber Taxi App

The ridesharing service Uber promises to connect people needing a lift with drivers offering one, and it appears to be pretty useful. After all, you can use it to summon Optimus Prime. For many cab drivers around the world, though, the app is basically the bane of their existence. The French passed a law mandating wait times before pickups in January, and 30,000 European cabbies staged a mass protest in June. The latest group hoping to ban Uber is the government of Seoul, South Korea.

The government in the South Korean capital city claims that the app is illegal because the vehicles shuttling users around aren't registered as taxis, according to the Wall Street Journal's Korea Realtime blog. The attempted ban is only the latest shot across the bow of Uber in Seoul. Officials fined a driver 1 million won ($974) for picking up passengers using the service in April. The authorities say that an alternative is on the way in December that would allow clients to hail legal cabs from their smartphones.

"Comments like these show Seoul is in danger of remaining trapped in the past and getting left behind by the global 'sharing economy' movement," said Uber in a statement to the WSJ. Other locales facing how to cope with the influx of the service's users have instituted driver limits and implemented background checks.

News Source: Wall Street Journal Korea Realtime

Image Credit: David Ramos / Getty Images

An open letter to every teen getting a driver's license

Posted Jul 22nd 2014 5:30PM

Legislature and You-Teen Drivers

Reid HollisterMy son Reid (pictured on the left, at right) would have turned 25 this month. I say would because he died, the driver in a one-car crash, at age 17, just 11 months after getting his driver's license.

My son's death devastated our family and our community. After seven years, we don't cry as much as we used to, but we are left with painful wonder: what would Reid have been doing today if he had lived?

I start with my tragedy only to introduce myself as more interested in safe teen driving than the average parent. If my opening has made you roll your eyes, I ask you to give me a few hundred words of your time, based on my promise that the rest of this is about you, not me.

You may have heard of the famous prayer asking for the ability to accept what we cannot change, the courage to change what we can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Safe teen driving is similar. Let me explain.
Timothy Hollister is an attorney and teen safety advocate in Connecticut. Author of Not So Fast: Parenting Your Teen Through Dangers of Driving, he has been a rational voice promoting better teen driving education and increased awareness of parents' role in keeping their children safe behind the wheel.

Image Credit: Gary S. Chapman / Marc Serota / Invision / Associated Press

NC Modified race takes notes from pro wrestling

Posted Jul 22nd 2014 4:58PM

North Carolina Modified demolition derby

Few things make racing more exciting than a good rivalry. Whether it's watching Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton go at it in Formula One or tradin' paint in NASCAR, a good fued adds an extra dash of excitement to already tight competition. However, two drivers in a Modified division race in North Carolina might have taken things too far when they turned a short track oval into a demolition derby. The crowd absolutely loved it, though.

Ironically enough, the melee happened during what the Bowman Gray Stadium billed as the Night of Destruction with monster trucks and a demolition derby also on the docket for the evening, but these two drivers gave the crowd even more wreckage than they paid for. According to the track's press release, which you can read below, the #83 car led for the majority of the race. As the laps ticked down, the #1 car in second place made its move, but it spun the #83 in the process. In retaliation, the driver waited just off track for his rival to come back around and then exacted revenge.

In the aftermath, both men were docked points by NASCAR and put on probation – a seemingly light punishment for using a car as a weapon. Now that you have the backstory, scroll down and watch the insanity unfold.

News Source: Bowman Gray Racing [1], [2], roxxxtar74 via YouTube, Jalopnik

Audi and Porsche squabble over future product platforms

Posted Jul 22nd 2014 4:31PM

Audi R8: Spy Shots

In the buildup to the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans, Audi delivered an amusing video that worked on the playful rivalry between the German brand and its favorite frenemy, Porsche. We called it sibling rivalry, and at the time, it may have been just that. But just like sibling rivalries, it's all fun and games until someone gets hurt, and that's just what seems to be about to happen in the formerly peaceful Volkswagen Group family.

A new report from Automobile calls out the growing animosity between Porsche, who is backed up by Bentley, and Audi, whose primary ally is Lamborghini. No blows have actually been thrown, although there is a fair amount of "he said, she said" going on.

As Porsche tells it, for example, the new global fullsize SUV architecture being developed by Audi isn't up to snuff, citing size and structure issues, as well as an inability to accommodate a wide variety of engines.

Audi and Lamborghini, meanwhile, are less than thrilled with the work that Porsche has done on the replacements for the next-next-generation R8 and Huracán, neither of which is due until early next decade. According to Automobile, the new platform probably won't be too kind to the various six-, eight- and 10-cylinder engines used by Porsche, Audi and Lamborghini.

More troubling than the "he said, she said," though, is the one-upmanship and competitiveness that's developing. Both Audi and Porsche are developing a luxury car platform, burning through some $4 billion of mom and dad's (Volkswagen's) money in the process.

Naturally, Porsche seems to think its modular standard platform (MSB), which is slated for the Panamera, would also do well in the Audi A6, A7 and A8. Audi, meanwhile, is happy building its own platform for the three largest cars in its portfolio. It's that sort of stunning inefficiency that can doom manufacturers, and it's certainly not something we'd expect from the Germans.

"If we don't call the shots here at HQ, Audi and Porsche will never get their acts together. What these guys fail to understand is that they have to cooperate, not fight each other. We need to prevent individual sports car architectures and excessive proliferation, and to make Porsche's MSB mandatory for both brands," an anonymous chief strategist for VW told Automobile. "Audi and Porsche must stop fighting over architectures and concentrate on diversification by content. It's as simple as that. And as difficult."

News Source: Automobile

Image Credit: CarPix

Subaru facing class-action suit over excess oil use

Posted Jul 22nd 2014 4:01PM

2013 Subaru Outback

A recently filed lawsuit in federal court against Subaru of America and its parent Fuji Heavy Industries claims that several recent models burn an excessive amount of oil. The case, which is seeking class-action status, covers examples of the 2011-2014 Forester, 2013 Legacy and 2013 Outback with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and the 2012-2013 Impreza and 2013 XV Crosstrek with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder.

The suit alleges that Subaru knew about the excessive oil consumption but didn't fix the problem, according to USA Today. It contends that owners have to spend an unreasonable amount of money to keep these models topped up with Texas tea, and that the people represented wouldn't have bought the vehicle if they had known that this could happen.

As proof of Subaru's knowledge of excessive oil use, the lawsuit cites four technical service bulletins from the company telling dealers about the issue, although, that would seem to partially invalidate the claim that the automaker hasn't attempted to fix things. The case was filed on behalf of two men, one with a 2014 Forester and the other with a 2013 Outback. "Following an extensive investigation, we now look forward to litigating the case," said Matthew Schelkopf, an attorney for the plaintiffs, to USA Today.

Autoblog reached out to Subaru of America for its response. "We're aware of the suit. We believe the oil use in our vehicles is in acceptable levels. We have worked with customers on this issue," said company spokesperson Michael McHale.
Related Gallery2013 Subaru Outback
2013 Subaru Outback2013 Subaru Outback2013 Subaru Outback2013 Subaru Outback2013 Subaru Outback2013 Subaru Outback2013 Subaru Outback2013 Subaru Outback

News Source: USA Today

Image Credit: Subaru

First 100 vehicles announced for Forza Horizon 2

Posted Jul 22nd 2014 3:33PM

Forza Horizon 2 Car List

With its September 30 release date just over two months away, Turn 10 Studios has slowly started releasing the car list for Forza Horizon 2, the sequel to 2012's Forza Horizon.

While the final list will be on the smaller side, with just over 200 vehicles, as per usual, those that were selected are decidedly different from your average sports car. We've included the entire list below, in the press release, but we thought you'd like to see some of the highlights right here.

First, there are a number of new entries to the Forza universe, led by the 1973 Renault Alpine A110 and the 1954 Jaguar XK120. Both of these sportsters should prove excellent companions on the scenic European roads of FH2. They're also joined by freshman entries like the 2013 Vauxhall Corsa VXR, as well as a few funkier and more interesting vehicles, like the 1963 Volkswagen Type 2 and the venerable Willys MB.

As for the main, 100-car list, the vast majority are offered in Forza Motorsport 5, although for the first time, many are offered as standard rather than downloadable extras. Cars like the Audi RS2 Avant, Abarth Fiat 131, Jaguar D-Type and the Lotus Eleven are included as standard vehicles. They're joined by cars that originally launched with FM5, like the 1994 Mazda MX-5, 1997 BMW M3, and Audi R8 V10 plus.

Scroll below for the full volley of details on the initial 100 cars. Forza Horizon 2 will hit shelves on September 30, exclusively for gamers on the Xbox One.

News Source: Turn 10 Studios

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