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Stop-start problems could lead to rise of ultracapacitors

Posted Sep 20th 2014 9:00AM

Car engine start button

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: Flickr CC 2.0 - quimby

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

Watch as upset motorist drives off flatbed truck to avoid parking ticket

Posted Sep 19th 2014 2:58PM

Man reverses off of tow truck

There are few things more frustrating in life than watching your car being towed away and not being able to do anything about it. However, this guy reportedly in Walthamstow, East London, apparently wasn't going to let that happen to him.

As the story goes, the driver in question made it to his car just in time to find it loaded on the back of a flatbed tow truck over a "civil dispute," a parking infraction. However, his Vauxhall Astra hadn't yet been strapped down to be hauled away. The vehicle wouldn't get the chance to leave on the truck, either, because the owner hopped in, threw it into reverse and mashed the throttle. A brief moment of airtime was followed by a sickening crunch and scraping metal, but according to UK newspaper The Daily Mail, the guy drove off afterward.

Of course, we're now left to wonder which has ended up being more expensive: the repair bill for any damage caused by the three-foot fall or the fine for having his car towed. It's hard to imagine this driver thought about the math before this stunt, and we also have to wonder if the flatbed driver didn't get his license plate number, a reality that might lead to further troubles down the road for our flying hatchback artist.

News Source: The Daily Mail, 247NewsVideos via YouTube, Motor Authority

Peugeot Quartz Concept is sinister 500-hp hybrid crossover

Posted Sep 19th 2014 2:16PM

Peugeot Quartz Concept

Peugeot Quartz ConceptThe Peugeot family might be going back to their pepper mill business since losing a big stake in the company, but the automaker itself is still hard at work with a new concept for the Paris Motor Show. Its latest creation is the Peugeot Quartz that imagines a high-performance CUV with a 500-horsepower, hybrid drivetrain on tap.

To move this sporty-looking CUV, Peugeot fits it with the company's 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 270 hp and 243 pound-feet of torque with a six-speed automatic, then augments that with two electric motors that each produce 114 hp (85 kilowatts) to directly drive the front and rear axles. The automaker claims that the Quartz could go 31 miles on a purely electric charge. However in Race mode things get really interesting, and all three power units work together to motivate the concept.

With its long hood and sloping roof, the Quartz looks like a sports coupe that lifts weights. Its 23-inch wheels have composite flaps to direct airflow, and look massive. Up front, the concept is all business with a mesh grille and arching LED headlights. The subtle louvers hidden in the sides of the hood-bulge are an especially neat styling trick. Moving back from there, the red accents on the flanks actually disguise extending steps into the cabin.

Being a French car, it's almost a rule to have at least one truly weird design detail. For this one, it's the double rear spoilers mounted on the roof. They make the concept look like an excited dog just starting to perk up its ears.

The Quartz's interior is supposed to be reminiscent of the slightly porous texture of basalt rock, with a driver-focused, wrap-around cockpit. Much of it is covered in a "digitally woven" textile from recycled plastic bottles; the new technique allows the company to create large, complex patters with no cutting required, which means less waste. Scroll down to read the full announcement for this high-performance, hybrid CUV.
Related GalleryPeugeot Quartz Concept
Peugeot Quartz ConceptPeugeot Quartz ConceptPeugeot Quartz ConceptPeugeot Quartz ConceptPeugeot Quartz ConceptPeugeot Quartz ConceptPeugeot Quartz ConceptPeugeot Quartz Concept

News Source: Peugeot

Are newer guardrails making roads less safe? Federal investigation pending [w/video]

Posted Sep 19th 2014 1:30PM

Guardrail skewers vehicle - ABC News screencap

As if its name doesn't make it clear, the whole purpose of a guardrail is to prevent vehicles from leaving a roadway and veering into potentially even more dangerous territory. However, at least one type of guardrail may not be doing its job, according to a recent study. Federal officials are supporting further research to find out if the devices are as safe in the real world as they are in crash tests.

The study from the University of Alabama Birmingham, which was sponsored by the consumer advocacy group The Safety Institute and the state of Missouri, looked at eight years of crashes involving guardrails in Missouri and Ohio (not pictured above). The study found that an end terminal piece called ET-Plus from a company called Trinity Industries "was 1.36 times more likely to produce a severe injury and 2.86 times more likely to produce a fatality than the ET-2000 design [another model from Trinity]." However, due to the small, two-state sample size, the report was only able to gather significant data on these two varieties, rather than five from different makers as researchers originally intended.

Now, according to ABC News, the Federal Highway Administration is conducting further evaluations into this potential safety issue with analysis from public and private groups. "We are supporting a national cooperative highway research program to look into the performance of guard rail terminals," said FHA official Nicholas Artimovich to ABC News.

Trinity is already facing lawsuits over the ET-Plus that allege that the shortening of a piece of metal from five inches to four inches in a guardrail's design may be responsible for the potential danger. The lawsuits center around fatal crashes and incidents in which motorists lost limbs crashing into the company's guardrails.

ABC News claims that internal company emails show the change reportedly saves the company thousands of dollars each year. However, the business denies this as a reason for the alteration, noting that the model passes federal crash tests and meets safety standards.

UPDATE: An accompanying video from ABC News has been added below.

Porsche Macan Turbo vs Cayman GTS in track battle

Posted Sep 19th 2014 12:45PM

Porsche Macan vs. Porsche Cayman GTS

"Well this is stupid." On the surface, that was our reaction to this video, as well. Why would you compare the hottest Porsche Cayman with a crossover of any kind, even if it is the 400-horsepower Macan Turbo?

We're guessing because it'd be bloody good fun, as evidenced Auto Express's latest track battle. To be fair, there is some interesting stuff here. The two do have a similar starting price, separated by less than $3,000 here in the US market. And, factoring in the Macan's hefty horsepower and torque advantages – 60 horsepower and 126 pound-feet – does make for a slightly interesting comparison.

We won't spoil the verdict, so check out the full video from Auto Express, and then let us know what you think in Comments.

News Source: Auto Express via YouTube

2015 Ford Mustang GT [w/video]

The First Pony Car, In First Place Once Again

Posted Sep 19th 2014 11:57AM

2015 Ford Mustang

At 50 years old, the object of fantasies, a tuner's dream, a movie star and more than nine million strong, it couldn't be truer to say that the Ford Mustang needs no introduction. This newest Mustang, however – making the biggest changes we've seen to the pony car since perhaps 1964.5 – is something Ford has been introducing all year.

We went on a Deep Dive, covered the way it looks when it was revealed, detailed the engine specs, got a ride in the EcoBoost and listened to the V8, got rolling footage and watched it do a standard-feature burnout.

The only thing left to do? Drive it. Having now done so for a few hours around Los Angeles, what we can tell you is to forget everything you know about the Mustang. This new car shames the old, redefines the model and gallops far ahead of anything else in the segment.

Vital Stats

Engine:
5.0L V8
Power:
435 HP / 400 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Manual
Base Price:
$36,925
As-Tested Price:
$43,490

Cadillac confirms new flagship to be built in Detroit next year

Posted Sep 19th 2014 11:30AM

2016 Cadillac LTS

"The objective for this upcoming model is to lift the Cadillac range by entering the elite class of top-level luxury cars." – Johan de Nysschen

Cadillac confirmed Friday morning it will build its new flagship sedan, expected to be called the LTS, starting in late in 2015 in Detroit.

Possibly coming as a 2016 model, the LTS will slot above the CTS and XTS in size and price. Based on a rear-wheel-drive platform, the LTS will be positioned as Cadillac's answer to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series. The final name will be "announced soon" Cadillac said, and it will debut early next year, likely at the New York Auto Show.

The flagship sedan is also expected to feature General Motors' new semi-autonomous driving technology, called Super Cruise. It will also be used on the 2017 Cadillac CTS, GM CEO Mary Barra confirmed earlier this month.

Cadillac has shown a pair of eye-catching concept cars in recent years, the Ciel and the Elmiraj, which have hinted at new, demonstrative design language for the brand, and cues from these showcars will likely show up on the LTS.

"The objective for this upcoming model is to lift the Cadillac range by entering the elite class of top-level luxury cars," Cadillac president Johan de Nysschen said in a statement.

The LTS will be assembled at GM's Detroit-Hamtramck factory as part of a $384-million investment. The plant also makes the Cadillac ELR and Chevrolet Volt, Impala and Malibu, plus the Opel Ampera for overseas markets. A spokesman couldn't say if the factory would need to add more workers.

Cadillac has a long history of building cars at the factory, which sits on the border of Detroit and the neighboring community of Hamtramck. The first car to roll off the assembly line in 1985 was an Eldorado. Scroll down for the full press release.

News Source: Cadillac

Image Credit: Chris Doane Automotive

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