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Outstanding auto loans total higher than ever

Posted Jul 31st 2014 8:58AM

Massive Ignition Switch Recall Weighs Heavy On GM's Profits

It looks like Americans are feeling more confident about borrowing money again, at least when it comes to their cars. Credit reporting giant Equifax has released its latest National Consumer Credit Trends Report, and the data suggests that auto lending is booming in 2014.

The total amount of outstanding auto loans in the US amounted to $902.2 billion in the company's analysis. Not only was that a new record, it was also a 10-percent increase from a year ago. "Auto lending continues to thrive, accounting for more than fifty percent of all new non-mortgage lending through April of 2014," said Dennis Carlson, Deputy Chief Economist at Equifax, in the study.

The results mixed some bright spots with some seemingly worrying trends following the recent subprime credit crisis, though. According to the report, year-to-date new auto loans as of April 2014 reached $163.5 billion, the highest amount since 2005, and the number of them in that period was also at record levels. According to Carlson, the amount of delinquencies was at near-record lows of less than 1 percent of that $902 billion.

"Subprime lending has grown across all sectors in 2014. This is good news as a fully functioning second-chance market is essential for a healthy economy," said Carlson in the study. Auto loans to these buyers reached $46.2 billion year-to-date, an eight-year high, which made them about 28 percent of the total loan balance from this year.

The rest of the report indicated a strong credit market elsewhere too. Banks issued more credit cards, and overdue accounts were at a five-year low. The total amount in mortgages was actually down from last year, but delinquencies were lower as well. Want to know more? Scroll down.

News Source: Equifax

Image Credit: Bill Pugliano / Getty Images

Tesla, Panasonic officially partner up for Gigafactory

Posted Jul 31st 2014 8:29AM

Tesla Gigafactory rendering

The first of perhaps 'hundreds' of gigafactories is now one step closer to reality: Tesla and Panasonic have announced their official agreement to work together on the gigafactory. The two companies have worked together for many years on electric vehicles, but this new deal takes the partnership to a whole new level.

The basic gist, since the agreement itself has not been released, is that Tesla will take care of the exterior (the "land, buildings and utilities") while Panasonic will pay for the machines inside in order to, "manufacture and supply cylindrical lithium-ion cells" that Tesla will then use to, you know, build battery packs. Panasonic's machines will take up half the space while a network of as-yet unnamed suppliers will be involved in the other half, according to the press release announcing the deal. Read it below.

There's been lots of speculation as to where the Gigafactory will be built, but the exact location probably won't be revealed until later this year, so don't expect any battery packs from the Gigafactory to be coming any time soon. That's why Panasonic is still going to be building Tesla cells in Japan for the time being.

As previously announced, the Gigafactory is expected to make batteries for around 500,000 EVs a year as well as more for stationary storage needs. That means 35 GWh worth of cells and 50 GWh worth of packs each year by 2020. We expect more information to trickle out today along with Tesla's quarterly earnings.

Nissan to pursue FWD Nürburgring lap record with Pulsar Nismo

Posted Jul 31st 2014 8:01AM

2015 Nissan Pulsar

Europeans get very serious about their hot hatches. So do the Japanese. In fact there's been a whole back-and-forth lately over who makes the fastest one, and now Nissan looks set to throw its racing hat into the 'Ring.

That would be the Nürburgring, of course, where automakers trade bragging rights like baseball cards – only they don't give them up willingly. Renault set the front-drive lap record in 2008 with the previous Mégane R26.R then set the bar even higher with the Mégane RS 265 Trophy. That was before Seat stole the honors with its Leon Cupra 280, only for Renault to take them back again with the Mégane RS 275 Trophy-R. Seat is rumored to be considering a renewed assault, but it won't be the only one nipping at Renaultsport's heels in the coming years.

Honda, for its part, has made no secret of its ambition to set the record with the upcoming Civic Type R, and now word has it that Nissan is planning an assault of its own. Its weapon of choice would be an upcoming Nismo version of the new Pulsar hatchback which is just hitting the European market now as a rival to the Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf, et al. There's no word on what its specs would be, but if it's going to challenge these players, it's going to need between 270 and 300 horsepower, a stiff suspension, big brakes and probably some sort of trick differential.

Now if you're thinking that Nissan would only be stealing the record away from its own sister company, consider first of all that, despite their alliance and common CEO, Renault and Nissan operate as two separate companies. If anything, one could end up lending its expertise to the other, much like Audi did with Bentley at Le Mans where the latter interrupted the former's winning streak in 2003. Not that Nissan needs any tips on how to tackle the Nordschleife: with the GT-R it has, after all, been trouncing everything this side of the record-holding Porsche 918 Spyder.

7:54 is the time to beat. Game on.
Related Gallery2015 Nissan Pulsar
2015 Nissan Pulsar2015 Nissan Pulsar2015 Nissan Pulsar2015 Nissan Pulsar2015 Nissan Pulsar2015 Nissan Pulsar2015 Nissan Pulsar2015 Nissan Pulsar

News Source: caradvice.com.au via World Car Fans

BMW's new Driftmob video shows the M235i like you've never seen it before

Posted Jul 30th 2014 8:01PM



Last month, we went behind the scenes of the filming of BMW's new Driftmob, web video, bringing you one post from the practice sessions, and another from the shoot itself, which took place in an enormous traffic circle in Cape Town, South Africa. Today, BMW has launched the final version of Driftmob, and it's pretty damn cool.

The plot is pretty simple: just like a flashmob, in which people invade a location and perform choreographed dances to music, much to the delight of surprised onlookers, the "driftmob" features a quintet of red M235i coupes that take over a traffic circle and perform choreographed dances – sideways – to the delight of onlookers. The only differences are that, in this case, the onlookers are mostly paid extras (though there were many unwitting passersby that joined the crowd at times) and the only music is a constant squealing of tires-a sweet song if we ever heard one. Then, after about two minutes of tire-smoking shenanigans, the coupes vanish.

As promised, we will have a more detailed, behind the scenes story about the filming of the video, including insights from Rhys Millen, Samuel Hübinette, Dai Yoshihara, Rich Rutherford, and Conrad Grunewald, the five guys who executed these remarkable stunts. Meanwhile, we hope you enjoy the short flick.

News Source: BMW via YouTube

What you missed on 7.30.14

Posted Jul 30th 2014 7:30PM

Daily U-Turn

Nissan Frontier diesel muleNissan lets us sample a diesel Frontier prototype

Hey. You. Yeah, you. Do you think Nissan should build a midsize pickup truck with a diesel engine? Yeah, so do we. And we just got the chance to drive just such a beast, though it's anything but a production model at this point. This particular example is fitted with a 2.8-liter four-cylinder from Cummins, and it puts out 200 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque, enabling it to tow as much as 7,000 pounds.



2016 Chevy Volt spy shot2016 Chevy Volt coming soon to an auto show near you... probably

There sure is a lot we don't know about the next generation of Chevy's extended-range electric vehicle. What we do know, though, is that it ought to be making its auto show debut sometime soon. How soon? Likely either Los Angeles later this year or else Detroit, Chicago or New York in early 2015, according to an anonymous source.



Blood muscle auctionBlood Muscle auction? Sounds terrible, looks awesome

It's nicknamed the Blood Muscle auction because the cars, which will be sold each to the highest bidders on September 12, were attained by the president of a blood-testing company who is now incarcerated for alleged bribery. There's a Boss Mustang, a trio of Yenko Chevrolets and our personal favorite, a Plymouth Superbird, among others, up for bidding.


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Indian Roadmaster returns for 2015 with 'Proven power and endless chrome' [w/video]

Posted Jul 30th 2014 7:00PM

2015 Indian Roadmaster, side view.

It's a busy summer for Polaris - it's got a three-wheeled gunner called the Slingshot coming out under its own brand name, its Victory Motorcycle division is expected to launch something shortly, and now a new luxury tourer has rolled to the top of its Indian Motorcycle brand. Called the Roadmaster, the name recalls the original Indian bike of that name made from 1947 to 1953. True, Indian did produce a Roadmaster redux in 2010, but this one for 2015 is a very different bike.

Seeking to knock back any question of its bona fides as "the ultimate in luxury motorcycle touring," Indian has loaded it up with "proven power and endless chrome," as well as a long shopping list of features: LED lighting, keyless ignition with remote saddlebag and trunk locks, a power adjustable windscreen, heated grips with ten settings, adjustable passenger floorboards, and almost 38 gallons of weatherproof storage start things off.

Power comes from the company's Thunder Stroke 111 engine, a 111-cubic-inch V-twin with 119 pound-feet of torque, and according to a dyno run by Motorcycle USA, 73 horsepower. It will come in three colors when it appears in dealerships later this year, those being Thunder Black, Indian Motorcycle Red and two-tone Indian Motorcycle Red and Ivory Cream. It will wear a sticker price of $26,999 - a $7,000 drop from the last, much less luxurious Roadmaster effort.

If you happen to be at Sturgis, Indian will unveil the Roadmaster on August 2. While you wait, you can watch the first TV spot for the new bike and there's a press release below with more information.
Related Gallery2015 Indian Roadmaster
2015 Indian Roadmaster2015 Indian Roadmaster2015 Indian Roadmaster2015 Indian Roadmaster2015 Indian Roadmaster2015 Indian Roadmaster2015 Indian Roadmaster2015 Indian Roadmaster

Elon Musk to get spot on The Simpsons

Posted Jul 30th 2014 6:33PM

Tesla Motors IPO

It's hard to believe that The Simpsons is moving into its 26th season, but there's good news for auto enthusiasts, especially of the EV variety. The show's executive producer, Al Jean, confirmed on Twitter that Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk would have a guest spot on the show in the upcoming season. Even better, it sounds like a pretty significant role.


According to Automotive News, Jean first announced the episode during a panel at San Diego Comic-Con. It's titled "The Musk Who Fell to Earth" and has Mr. Burns somehow losing all of his money to the Tesla boss. With his name prominently in the title, it gives the indication that Elon's role is going to be a lot bigger than just muttering a few lines in one scene and then walking away.

This is technically Musk's second appearance on The Simpsons. An earlier episode featured Elon Musk as a fragrance of the fictional ASK Body Spray. Tesla put up a screenshot of it on their blog and said, "You know you're famous when you get featured on the Simpsons." Apparently, the CEO is an even bigger deal now with this guest-starring gig.

Of course, The Simpsons has made at least two, great contributions to the automotive world – the Homer and the Canyonero. Our only hope is that Musk can somehow feature EV versions of them both in his episode.

News Source: Twitter, Automotive News - sub. req., Tesla Motors

Image Credit: Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Suzuki calls in 26,000 Daewoo-built Veronas for overheating lights

Posted Jul 30th 2014 6:02PM

Suzuki Recall

Suzuki is recalling yet another Daewoo-built model due to possible problems with the daytime running light module in the instrument panel. This time it covers about 25,899 units of the Suzuki Verona from the 2004 through 2006 model years that need fixing. Like the repair campaign of the Forenza and Reno in May, it's possible for the part to overheat, melt and potentially cause a fire.

According to the Chronology of Principal Events section in the defect notice submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, this recall was actually a direct result of the Forenza/Reno campaign. After finding the problem in those vehicles, General Motors Korea started investigating for more affected models and discovered that the Verona was also at risk. However, the report says that no cases of melting or fires have been found in the Verona.

Obviously, Suzuki will be notifying affected owners and will replace the DRL module free of charge. Scroll down to read the recall request or check out the full defect notice in PDF format, here.

News Source: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [1], [2]

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV sales reach 33,000 worldwide

Posted Jul 30th 2014 5:27PM

Plug In 2014: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

It can be difficult to see from the US, where the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid is not yet available, but the all-wheel drive SUV is a big hit in Europe and Japan. In fact, we learned at the Plug In 2014 Conference in San Jose, CA this week that Mitsubishi has sold over 33,000 copies of the PHEV around the world.

The breakdown is that Mitsubishi has delivered 15,000 units in Japan and 18,000 in Europe. Fuminori Kojima, Mitsubishi Motors North America's senior manager of incentives, told AutoblogGreen that the country with the highest sales rate in Europe is Holland, with about 6,000 units sold that thanks in part to generous incentives for plug-in hybrids there. The Euro-spec version on hand in San Jose has three regen levels (the normal D mode, plus B1 and B2). We got to take a spin around the block, but the battery was mostly depleted (it was a popular attraction in the Ride & Drive) and so we were driving on gas.

In the gallery from Plug In 2014, you'll note that the Outlander PHEV requires at least 95 octane (RON) unleaded fuel, which is 91 octane (AKI) premium fuel in the US. We don' know what the US version will need, but we've heard it will be "completely different." The Outlander has a 12-kWh battery and should have an EV range of around 30 miles. Whether or not it will have a CHAdeMO fast-charging port in the US is still undecided, as is the question of whether it will have a 3.3 or 6.6 kW onboard charger.

The timeline Kojima gave for the Outlander's US arrival was October or November of 2015, since the SUV still needs to be tested and homologated for the US, Kojima said, but the real problem is that Mitsubishi can't build enough. "The battery production capacity is limited," he said. "So that's why, [the] first [focus is the] domestic market and Europe showed more demand." As as an example, he mentioned not only the incentives but also said that the charging infrastructure is more built up in Europe. "We'd like to have it [in the US ] as soon as possible, of course," he said.

According to numbers from the European group Transport And Environment (see press release and sales chart below), overall plug-in vehicle sales have been doubling each year since the new breed was introduced in 2010. Last year, almost 50,000 plug-in vehicles were sold in the EU, with the Renault Zoe EV, Outlander PHEV and Volvo V60 Plug-in at the top of the pack.

News Source: Mitsubishi

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Sebastian Blanco / AOL

Range Rover Sport SVR sets 'Ring record for SUVs [w/video]

Posted Jul 30th 2014 5:06PM

Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR at the Nürburgring

Nürburgring lap times, it should come as no surprise, have become the ultimate bragging rights for performance automakers. So much so, in fact, that the records have been categorized. The Porsche 956 has held the outright record at 6:11 since 1983, the Pagani Zonda R is the fastest production-based track car at 6:47, the Radical SR8 LM the fastest (albeit barely) street-legal vehicle at 6:48 and the Porsche 918 Spyder the fastest fully street-legal series production vehicle at 6:57. But beyond that, automakers have begun to stake their claims for individual vehicle types, like the Renaultsport Mégane 275 Trophy-R that set the record for the fastest front-drive hot hatch at 7:54.36 just last month. And now Land Rover has claimed the record for the fastest SUV ever to lap the Nordschleife.

The record-setting SUV, of course, is not a rough-and-tumble Defender or a stretched-out Range Rover L, but the brand's upcoming new performance flagship, the Range Rover Sport SVR. The vehicle was previewed recently at Goodwood where it showcased the might of JLR's ubiquitous 5.0-liter supercharged V8 in the same 542-horsepower spec as the Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake we recently drove at the Nürburgring as well.

The Range Rover Sport SVR managed a hugely impressive lap time of 8 minutes 14 seconds, which puts it well ahead of the previous Range Rover Sport Supercharged that lapped the track in 8:55 back in 2009 and the Holden VF SS V Redline that claimed the record last year for the fastest utility vehicle at 8:19. Not bad for a vehicle with a 2.8-foot wading depth and a two-speed transfer case.

Of course with so many GT-Rs, Lambos and Porsche Turbos lapping the track, it couldn't claim the fastest AWD lap, but it is nearly three seconds faster than the Renaultsport Mégane R26.R that held the previous front-drive record before Renault and Seat started going at it earlier this year. And in the same spirit of competition, maybe we'll see Porsche bring its new Cayenne Turbo or Mercedes one of its AMG sport-utes to the Ring in an effort to take Land Rover's crown. After all, if we don't pay attention to this kind of irrelevant one-upmanship here in the blogosphere, who will? Scope out the footage and statement below, as well as the additional images we've uploaded to the gallery above.

News Source: Land Rover

Fiat recalls nearly 30,000 Fiat 500L models

Posted Jul 30th 2014 4:28PM

2014 Fiat 500L

Fiat has announced a recall of 29,500 Fiat 500L hatchbacks in the US and Canadian markets due to concerns that the roomiest member of the Fiat range features knee airbags that won't deploy unless the occupant's seatbelt is fastened.

There have been no injuries reported due to this issue, which affects vehicles from model years 2014 and 2015. Of the nearly 30,000 vehicles covered in this recall, 25,500 come from the US market, while the remaining 4,000 are from Canada. It's not clear what the underlying cause of this issue is.

Fiat knows of no injuries relating to this problem. As per usual, owners will be notified and asked to report in for a free repair.

Scroll down for a brief statement from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
Related Gallery2014 Fiat 500L: Review
2014 Fiat 500L: Review2014 Fiat 500L: Review2014 Fiat 500L: Review2014 Fiat 500L: Review2014 Fiat 500L: Review2014 Fiat 500L: Review2014 Fiat 500L: Review2014 Fiat 500L: Review

Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat ringtone revs up [w/video]

Posted Jul 30th 2014 4:01PM

2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat

The best (or worst, depending on your views) thing about smartphones is that you're able to carry lots, and lots of useful stuff around in your pocket. That means you can always have a phone, messaging service, email, flashlight, calculator, dictionary, encyclopedia, and literally thousands of other things on your person at all times. Now, we can add one more thing for you to carry about in your little slab of aluminum, glass and plastic – a Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat.

Now, you obviously can't carry around a 707-horsepower muscle car around in your pocket. That'd be ridiculous, impractical and uncomfortable. You can, however, carry around the noise made by said muscle car's 6.2-liter, supercharged Hemi V8, thanks to a new, free-to-download ringtone from the folks at Dodge and SRT.

We can't embed the ringtone here, so if you'd like to hear exactly how it'll sound when your phone goes off, you'll need to head over to the SRT Hellcat's page. If that's more trouble than it's worth, the same ringtone was attached to a tiny speaker on the press kit for the mighty Challenger, and was captured on video by our own Seyth Miersma (don't worry, he's already been soundly dressed down for shooting a video in portrait mode).

Scroll down for both the video of the ringtone, and the official press release from Dodge.

News Source: Dodge

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Seyth Miersma / AOL

Icon Helios streamliner with Tesla bones is a dream from which we don't want to wake

Posted Jul 30th 2014 3:33PM

Icon Helios Streamliner

Icon Helios StreamlinerWhen it comes to truly, genuinely interesting automotive design and craftsmanship, Icon is one of the finest outfits in the game. We've covered the company and its founder, Jonathan Ward, in the past, and have remarked on just how fully and intricately done the automotive art it turns out is. The company's next big thing, though, is a far cry from the modified Land Rovers and Chevy Thriftmaster pickups.

The sketches you see above are of the Helios, Icon's latest mad creation. While still remarkably early in the planning phases, it's safe to say that the streamlined, Art Deco-inspired, boat-tailed (every vehicle should be boat-tailed) coupe is the company's single most ambitious vehicle yet.

"Although almost all of our projects thus far have been recreations inspired by vintage vehicles, I am fascinated about the concept of revisiting history in our own way," Ward told Jalopnik staffer and former Autoblog editor Damon Lavrinc. "The most interesting way to do this is by celebrating a particular era of design, or design language."

Technically speaking, the era that Ward is referring to never existed.

It's a world where there was no Black Friday, or Great Depression or second world war. Instead, man's fascination with aircraft and aerodynamics soldiered on untarnished by war and poverty, translating to four-wheeled creations so extreme they'd make the radical, rocket-inspired designs of the 1950s blush.

It is a stunning concept as a simple vehicle – you could drop this onto a Honda Civic platform and it'd still be a marvel. But it's Ward's plan for a powertrain that ups the already ample dose of outlandishness inherent in the Helios.

"In keeping with the founding premise at ICON, of fusing vintage design with the best modern drive experience and technology, I can think of no better platform to build this on, than the Tesla," Ward told Jalopnik.

In particular, Ward is targeting the upcoming Model X.

"I want to take the new Model X platform – so selectable AWD, 380-mile range, pure electric – and fuse it with this lost language," Ward said, adding that he's actively trying to score a meeting with Tesla founder Elon Musk and that he "will move mountains to figure out how to get [it] built."

Here's hoping that he can make that happen, because the automotive world sorely needs something this wild, this extreme and this utterly, utterly breathtaking.

You can expand the images above or head over to Jalopnik for a closer look at the Helios. After that, be sure to visit the Comments. We really want to hear from you on this one.

News Source: Jalopnik

Image Credit: Icon

New drifting world record set in Toyota GT86

Posted Jul 30th 2014 2:58PM

The world's longest drift

We have entered a drifting arms race. Last year, BMW smashed the Guinness World Record for the longest drift by hanging the tail out for 51.3 miles around a wet skid pad in an M5 at the BMW Performance Driving School in South Carolina. That beat the previous milestone of nearly seven miles. Now, Bimmer's record is up in smoke as well and is in the possession of a Toyota.

German driver Harald Müller pummeled the old record to drift for 89.55 miles around a 0.15-mile (235.5-meter) course in Samsun, Turkey, in a Toyota GT86 (or Scion FR-S as it's known in the US). According to the Guinness World Records website, it took him 612 laps and 2 hours, 25 minutes and 18 seconds to manage the achievement. Sit back to watch a few minutes of the German's two and a half hours behind the wheel with the tail out.

News Source: Guinness World Records, crazyspeed300 via YouTube, Jalopnik

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