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2015 Cadillac Escalade

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    2015 Cadillac Escalade
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    Weekly Recap: Volvo's $11-billion gamble
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    Lutz's Fisker-based WM Destino caught in Death Valley testing with changes
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Anti-UAW VW workers move to form own union

Posted Aug 30th 2014 3:01PM

VW Announcement

The struggle over unionization at the Volkswagen factory in Chattanooga, TN, continues to get more complicated. There's now a second union fighting to organize at the plant; although this one is staunchly against the actions of the United Auto Workers. At the same time, the UAW is still signing up voluntary members to its recently created Local 42 at the facility and is reportedly near having a majority of the hourly employees on its side.

The new, anti-UAW union campaign is being spearheaded by employee Mike Burton, according to Reuters, and he calls his group the American Council of Employees. He claims to already have 108 signatures in support of his organization. Burton believes that the UAW is harmful to businesses, and his goal is to force another vote to determine a preferred union among workers.

The UAW was initially defeated (712 to 626) when it attempted a union vote at the Tennessee plant in February. However, UAW secretary-treasurer Gary Casteel told Reuters that Local 42 has already signed up over 700 members. If it can reach a majority of the roughly 1,500 employees, the group hopes VW might consider recognizing it as the factory's union.

VW's own labor leaders have supported unionization with the UAW in Chattanooga in the past as a means of getting it a seat on the company's Global Works Council. It's currently one of the company's only major factories in the world that isn't a member, but it needs an organized workforce to do it.

The political turmoil at the factory comes right before a major expansion. VW will build its new midsize, seven-passenger SUV based on the CrossBlue Concept in Chattanooga by the end of 2016. The new model will add about 2,000 new jobs and 538,000 square feet to the plant as part of a $900 million investment.

News Source: Reuters

Image Credit: Erik Schelzig / AP Photo

Audi recalling 70k TDI models worldwide over braking problem

Posted Aug 30th 2014 1:00PM

Audi A7 TDI

Audi is issuing a recall covering some 70,000 vehicles worldwide, due to problems with their brake boosters. According to Automotive News Europe, diesel-powered examples of the A4, A5, A6, A7 and Q7 are all being called back due to this issue.

The report indicates that while the brakes in these vehicles still function, the enhancing power from the booster may fail due to a possible leaky membrane.

All of the affected vehicles are powered by the 3.0-liter TDI turbodiesel V6, and were built between March and December of 2012. It is unclear as of this writing how many of these vehicles are in the States, though remember, US customers are not privy to 3.0 TDI examples of the A4 or A5. Autoblog has reached out to Audi for specific numbers, and we'll update this space when we hear more.

Weekly Recap: Volvo's $11-billion gamble

Plus: Notes On The 2015 Ford Mustang, Elon Musk And The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Posted Aug 30th 2014 11:02AM

2015 Volvo XC60

It's ambitious, but Volvo is spending money on core products built on qualities that have made the brand successful in the past.

Just how much does it take to revive an iconic premium brand? How does $11 billion sound? That's what Volvo's Chinese owners are spending to give the Swedish company one more shot to make it as a global carmaker.

It's a make-or-break proposition. Volvo must get it right, as even deep-pocketed parent company Zhejiang Geely Holding Corp. has limits. The money will fund a product blitz with fresh yet authentic Swedish design, improved technology, new engines and, as always, a focus on safety. It's ambitious, but Volvo is spending money on core products built on qualities that have made the brand successful in the past.

The 2015 XC90 will be the first vehicle to roll off the assembly line as a result of these efforts. As our Noah Joseph reported from the reveal in Sweden this week, the crossover embodies all of Volvo's aspirations. It's based on the company's Scalable Product Architecture that will be used for all of the company's models in North America. It draws power from the Drive-E engine series, including a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 316 horsepower thanks to turbocharging and supercharging, and a plug-in hybrid variant that also uses both forced-induction systems to pump out 400 hp.
Related Gallery2015 Volvo XC90
2015 Volvo XC902015 Volvo XC902015 Volvo XC902015 Volvo XC902015 Volvo XC902015 Volvo XC902015 Volvo XC902015 Volvo XC90

Image Credit: Volvo / Ford / Elon Musk via Twitter / Mazda

Ecclestone vows revenge after F1 trial settlement

Posted Aug 30th 2014 8:57AM

AUTO-PRIX-F1-BELGIUM-SPA-PRACTICE

At times, it seems all too easy to imagine Formula One bigwig Bernie Ecclestone holding a cat and laughing maniacally like a James Bond villain. He just seems like a horrible person to be on the wrong side of. Now that Ecclestone has put his bribery trial in Germany behind him, his enemies had better watch out because Bernie is scheming for revenge.

"Now I am in a position where I have got a little bit more time and I shall follow my old idea in life: 'Don't get mad, get even.' I haven't got mad but I'm going to get even," said Ecclestone to UK newspaper The Independent. His first target is reportedly German businessman Dieter Hahn from Constantin Medien. Hahn tried to sue Ecclestone for undervaluing F1 shares to allow competing company CVC to buy them but lost.

It's possible that CVC might be putting those shares, which amount to 35 percent ownership of F1, up for sale in the future, and Ecclestone may be angling to buy them back himself. "Lots of people have looked at buying Formula One. Until they start looking at what they have got to pay, it is coffee-shop talk," said Ecclestone to the newspaper. Though, he claims buying the stake isn't a priority for him.

Ecclestone paid $100 million to German prosecutors in early August to have the charges against him dismissed. He was accused of bribing a German banker for preferential treatment and could have faced up to 10 years in prison. Ecclestone told The Independent that the prosecutors came to him first to offer the deal, and they previously said that the F1 supremo's advanced age was also a contributing factor.

News Source: The Independent

Image Credit: Ben Stansall /AFP / Getty Images

Jaguar design boss Callum reinterprets classic Mark 2 for himself [w/video]

Posted Aug 29th 2014 8:00PM

Jaguar Mark 2 By Callum

As the man behind the styling of basically every Jaguar since the mid 2000s, two things should be known about Ian Callum – he's a big fan of the brand, and he can bloody well get whatever kind of Jag he wants.

His newest car, though, is not what you might expect. Rather than an F-Type or an XJ, Callum has gone old school, and commissioned a custom, resto-modded Jaguar Mark 2.

Designed by Callum and built by Classic Motor Cars in Shropshire, England, the Mark 2 was an 18-month project between the designer and the garage. The essentially new car draws its power from a 4.3-liter engine that's been pilfered and modified from an XK. It's mated to a five-speed manual transmission.

The suspension has been dramatically altered, with a new independent rear suspension, and upgraded springs and adjustable dampers at all four corners, as well as new front and rear roll bars. The result is a ride that sits 1.18 inches closer to terra firma. A new power steering system should also add some life to the Mark 2's rack.

Aesthetically, Callum has crafted a stunner. 17-inch, split-rim, multi-spoke wheels start the excellent design, while new, functional louvers have been fitted into the Mark 2's fenders. The interior is a leather masterpiece, done in a shade of red that is usually reserved for couples behind closed doors. As Callum's creation is meant to be a more modern version of a classic vehicle, a new flip-out touchscreen system has been fitted that will allow the designer to bump whatever tunes he sees fit.

"This is a very personal statement. A long held notion that, although the Mark 2 has always been a beautiful car, it could be even more exciting in shape and performance. Whilst maintaining the purity of the car's form, I wanted to add a number of modern twists to the design. Simplification and clarity was my objective," Callum said in a statement.

Objective completed, Mr. Callum. Take a look below for the press release and the video on the Mark 2 by Callum, and then scope out the gallery of images up top.
Related GalleryJaguar Mark 2 By Callum
Jaguar Mark 2 By CallumJaguar Mark 2 By CallumJaguar Mark 2 By CallumJaguar Mark 2 By CallumJaguar Mark 2 By Callum

News Source: Jaguar

What you missed on 8.29.14

Posted Aug 29th 2014 7:32PM

Daily U-Turn

Review: 2015 Cadillac Escalade

Faced with having to rub elbows with strange human beings on a non-luxurious aircraft, our own intrepid Michael Harley chooses instead to drive from LA to Monterey in the swanky new Cadillac Escalade. Can a 600-mile solo drive in the lap of American lavishness counter the efficiencies of modern air travel? (If you really don't know the answer to that one, we're guessing you haven't flown in a while). Read now.




First Aston Martin Lagonda delivered

After taking a decades-long nap, the Aston Martin Lagonda nameplate has finally been revived. The very first group of Aston's newest utlra-luxury sedan has shipped, arriving to Dubai (where else?) by way of Oman Air and some very careful packing. The new Lagonda may only be offered in the Middle Eastern market, but that doesn't mean we can't admire these first looks at it, from afar.




Lutz's WM Destino may close to a reality

When crotchety, cigar chomping, erstwhile major automotive executive Bob Lutz showed up at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show with a Corvette-engined Fisker Karma, we collectively applauded the effort and immediately dismissed it from ever being a reality. As it turns out, with a new investment partner and trademark tenaciousness, Lutz may be ready to actually meet his Destino.



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2016 Ford Focus RS may yet be AWD, US sales likely

Posted Aug 29th 2014 7:00PM

Ford Focus RS

When it comes to forbidden fruit, few vehicles are spoken of in as hushed a tone as the Ford Focus RS. The turbocharged, five-cylinder hot hatch could only be seen from afar by American customers as it tore up the roads of Europe. And while it's safe to say that Ford's Yankee fans are quite happy to now be on equal footing with drivers in the old country thanks to the Focus ST, we doubt there'd be much protestation over a successor to the RS arriving stateside.

Of course, we've seen images of the new RS undergoing testing, but a new story by Road and Track aims to fill in some very large blanks in our knowledge of that car, thanks to a pair of mysterious insiders at the Ford. Chief among those is this – the RS will almost certainly make its way to the US, albeit in limited quantities. It gets better, though.

Under hood, the new RS is unsurprisingly expected to borrow the 2.3-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder from the 2015 Ford Mustang and 2015 Lincoln MKC. While that twin-scroll turbo produces 310 horsepower in the Mustang and 285 ponies in the MKC, R&T expects the RS to deliver quite a bit more firepower – 325 to 350 hp, with preference going to the higher output due to the limited-edition nature of the RS. This roughly fits with previous reports.

R&T has it from two sources that the RS will use an all-wheel-drive system, which we imagine will be a must with so much power. The system will be totally distinct from Ford's other car-based AWD systems, and will feature torque-vectoring for even sharper handling. This system should, according to R&T, trickle down to other applications (AWD Focus ST?).

While this all seems like excellent news, as is always the case, we'd caution against counting your chickens, at least until the new model hatches. Skepticism aside, what do you think of this news? How much would you be willing to shell out for a 350-hp, AWD Focus? What other features would you like to see from Ford? Have your say in Comments.
Related GalleryFord Focus RS: Spy Shots
Ford Focus RS: Spy ShotsFord Focus RS: Spy ShotsFord Focus RS: Spy ShotsFord Focus RS: Spy ShotsFord Focus RS: Spy ShotsFord Focus RS: Spy ShotsFord Focus RS: Spy ShotsFord Focus RS: Spy Shots

News Source: Road and Track

Image Credit: Chris Doane Automotive

2015 Dodge Challenger Drag Pak previewed

Posted Aug 29th 2014 6:27PM



Dodge and Mopar have never strayed far from success in drag racing, be it on run-what-you-brung nights at the local strip or at the highest levels of the sport. Hoping to both add to that heritage and capitalize on some of the media spotlight that's shown so brightly on the brand of late, Dodge has given us our first look at the 2015 Mopar Challenger Drag Pak test car.

Though this first iteration doesn't make use of the 707-horsepower Hellcat engine, it seems to be a pretty formidable racing package. Starting with a stock '15 Challenger, Mopar adds a full roll cage built to National Hot Rod Association specs. Rubber front and back is drag racing-ready as well, with 28x4.5-inch tires in the front, and fat 30x9-inch tires out back – all from Hoosier.

Powering the beast is a massive 426-cubic-inch (7.0-liter) Hemi Race V8, with output levels that are still unspecified. A Chrysler 727 automatic transmission connects up to a racing style shift lever, with integral line lock.

The rear-end is typical of the bulletproof fare needed for the rigors of drag racing, with a solid rear axle with a nine-inch aluminum third member, adjustable shocks, and an anti-sway bar. Front struts are also adjustable for compression and rebound.

The interior also begins life as a 2015 Challenger SRT, but gains Mopar gauges, lightweight racing seats, safety nets and five-point harnesses.

Scroll on below for even more information about the 2015 Mopar Challenger Drag Pak.

News Source: Dodge

NEVS' reorganization plan approved after all?

Posted Aug 29th 2014 5:45PM

SWEDEN-AUTO-COMPANY-SAAB

What a difference a day makes. Thursday, we reported that current Saab parent National Electric Vehicle Sweden had its application for creditor protection denied by the Swedish court for being "vague and completely undocumented." But NEVS was back in court on Friday, and this time the application was granted. However, the story continued to get weirder as defense contractor Saab AB allegedly revoked NEVS' rights to use the Saab name.

NEVS did put out a brief press release confirming the court decision saying: "The District court of Vänersborg, Sweden, today August 29 approved the application for reorganization from National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB." The company allegedly has over 90 creditors, and according to Reuters, it owes them roughly 400 million Swedish krona ($57.56 million). The business says that it is in negotiations with two, unnamed companies to get additional funding.

Also, according to Reuters, Saab AB, best known for making fighter planes, has revoked NEVS' rights to the Saab brand name because the company's application for creditor protection gave the defense contractor that right. When NEVS bought Saab, it only acquired the automaker's physical assets, and had to negotiate for the rights to use the name.

Autoblog reached out to NEVS to better understand what all of this means for the company moving forward. We'll update this story, if we hear back. Scroll down to read the entire, two-sentence press release from NEVS about the court's decision.

News Source: Reuters, National Electric Vehicle Sweden

Image Credit: Bjorn Larsson Rosvall / AFP / Getty Images

Tony Stewart to race again, reacts to fatal Ward Jr. accident [w/video]

Posted Aug 29th 2014 4:57PM

Oral-B USA 500 - Practice

Two weeks since fatally hitting driver Kevin Ward Jr. during a sprint car race in New York, Tony Stewart is returning to the NASCAR Sprint Cup for the upcoming race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The three-time series champion had missed the last three races following the tragedy.

Stewart also gave a press conference at the track where he reacted publicly to the incident for the first time. "This has been one of the toughest tragedies I've ever had to deal with both professionally and personally," he said. At this time, Stewart isn't answering any questions from the media regarding the crash because the police investigation into the case is still ongoing. It's still not known whether the driver could face any criminal charges. You can watch the entire statement from him in a video, below.

The Ontario Country Sheriff that's investigating the death also released a statement that said, "the investigation into the death of Kevin A. Ward Jr., which occurred August 9, 2014, at the Canandaigua, New York Motorsports Park will continue for at least another two weeks."


NASCAR executive vice president Steve O'Donnell also put out a report to USA Today:

"Tony Stewart has received all the necessary clearances required to return to all racing activities and therefore is eligible to compete this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. NASCAR has remained in constant contact with his race team and we will stay very close to this situation as Stewart returns to competition."

According to USA Today, in the wake of the fatal accident, NASCAR passed a new rule requiring drivers to remain in their cars, unless they are in immediate danger, until safety crews arrive. Scroll down to watch Stewart's full conference and read the statement from the sheriff's department.

News Source: USA Today [1], [2] via Road & Track

Image Credit: Jamie Squire / Getty Images

ETC

Challenger A/T Unlimited Concept could be your next Hellcat-powered ORV

Posted Aug 29th 2014 4:32PM



This past June I spent an excellent day hanging out with Joey Ruiter, driving and discussing his Reboot Buggy project. Before heading home, I let him know that he was more than welcome to keep me abreast of whichever new automotive project he'd get into. You can never have too many car designers and one-off fabricators in your Rolodex, right?

Ruiter recently made good with the follow-up, emailing me with details on this Dodge Challenger A/T Untamed Concept that pushes a lot of hot buttons for the muscle car and off-roading enthusiasts.

This all-terrain Mopar is a lot more than a Challenger body dropped on a truck chassis, too. A materialized version of the A/T would included a completely new, long-travel suspension, skid plates, body armor and rock sliders, and obviously flared fenders to help accommodate a hellacious set of off-road-ready tires. The dramatically revised underpinnings would be topped with a slick graphics package and a killer lower light bar, all making the A/T look quite cohesive in its own, radical way. And the result would be a car no longer limited to mere road-driving.

I asked Ruiter if his concept was rocking a theoretical Hellcat V8 under the hood, and while he agreed that the supercharged engine would make the A/T "the most insane ride ever," he thinks a tuned V6 would make more sense from a weight standpoint. Ruiter also told me that he "wanted the passion given to the Hellcat to be pushed into more areas."

That's a sentiment a lot of you should be on board with, considering how many "Hellcat Grand Cherokee NOW!!!!" comments I read, every time we run a new HC piece.

Which is important to know, because, while the package isn't ready yet, Ruiter really would like to offer something like the Challenger A/T for real customers. He's working to develop a kit that could A/T-ize Challengers, Mustangs and Camaros. We're all for it.

Do you think the Challenger A/T Untamed should transition from concept to reality? Have your say below, in Comments.

News Source: J. Ruiter

Image Credit: Oddlyeven.com

Online Find Of The Day: Custom 2005 Chevy SSR is late for Shark Week

Posted Aug 29th 2014 3:44PM

2005 Chevy SSR Custom

Even when brand new, the Chevrolet SSR wasn't the most beloved car on the market. Its attempt to mix a pickup, convertible sports car and retro styling caused to be a love-it-or-hate-it design. With most people falling deeply into the latter camp, production only lasted from 2003 to 2006.

But let's just say one of the most polarizing vehicles of the last decade wasn't enough for you. What would you do? Well, one owner commissioned a fiberglass body kit with reptile eyes, snout, fangs and spiky tail to create the dinoSSauR, as the dealer calls this creation. It can be yours for the low, low price of $34,988.

To this 2005 SSR's credit, the dealer claims just 6,468 miles on the clock – possibly because no one would ever want to be caught driving it. Although, Halloween is coming, and it could be a great match for your caveman costume. The SSR has its stock 6.0-liter LS2 V8 under the hood with an aftermarket Magnaflow exhaust and a six-speed manual gearbox. It also comes fairly loaded with heated seats, an auto-dimming mirror, memory seats and more. So at least the dinoSSauR is a comfortable bit of rolling weirdness.

To add the cherry of oddness on top of this insane vehicle sundae, it's being offered by a dealer called North Freeway Hyundai in Spring, TX, which claims to be the largest SSR seller in the world having moved over 350 of them. If you're digging the idea of a dinosaur-inspired Chevy retro-truck convertible, head over to Cars.com and put this beauty in your garage.
Related Gallery2005 Chevrolet SSR Custom
2005 Chevrolet SSR Custom2005 Chevrolet SSR Custom2005 Chevrolet SSR Custom2005 Chevrolet SSR Custom2005 Chevrolet SSR Custom2005 Chevrolet SSR Custom2005 Chevrolet SSR Custom2005 Chevrolet SSR Custom

News Source: Cars.com via LSX TV

Image Credit: North Freeway Hyundai via Cars.com

Red Bull captures F1 action in all its thermal glory

Posted Aug 29th 2014 3:00PM

Red Bull RB8 in infrared

Remember a few months ago when BMW released thermal imagery of one of its M4 DTM touring cars coming in for a pit stop? That was pretty cool, but this is even cooler.

The Red Bull Racing team has partnered with Oregon-based thermal-imaging company FLIR Systems to capture its Formula One racers with cutting-edge infrared cameras. The results, as you can see from this video clip, are quite stunning, showing where the heat builds up in a modern grand prix car – predictably enough around the tires, engine and exhaust, though we're sure it gets pretty hot inside the cockpit, too. Check out the footage right here.

News Source: FLIR Systems via YouTube, Carscoops

Lutz's Fisker-based WM Destino caught in Death Valley testing with changes

Posted Aug 29th 2014 2:14PM

WM Destino Spy Shots

New spy shots make it look like Bob Lutz's idea to convert the Fisker Karma into a fire-breathing sports sedan called the Destino might not be vaporware after all. Two of them were recently spotted testing in Death Valley sporting changes that make them appear closer than ever to actually going on sale.

The idea behind the Destino was always fantastic. Take the Karma (already a great-looking sedan), ditch its powertrain and drop in the supercharged 6.2-liter V8 from the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. However, since we first saw the concept at the 2013 Detroit auto show, there hasn't been much solid news about its actual production.

These test cars sport a number of changes indicating that development is still ongoing. Most notably, there are new heat extractors flanking both sides of its bulging hood. That big V8 obviously needs cool air to breathe, and they should help. Plus, the louvers give the Destino a bit of extra menace from the front.

The interior shots show the Fisker covered in Alcantara with some carbon fiber trim, and the transmission tunnel is slightly reworked and fitted with a new gearshift. These photos obviously show an automatic, but a manual is likely possible.

One final change for the Destino is less obvious, and that's its new name. VL Automotive and WM Greentech Automotive recently merged, which gives the sedan the new name of the WM Destino. When it does hit the road, prices are rumored to be around $200,000 to put this supercharged creation in your garage.
Related GalleryWM Destino Spy Shots
WM Destino Spy ShotsWM Destino Spy ShotsWM Destino Spy ShotsWM Destino Spy ShotsWM Destino Spy ShotsWM Destino Spy ShotsWM Destino Spy ShotsWM Destino Spy Shots

Image Credit: KGP Photography

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