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Buick Envision CUV launches in China, is America next?

Posted Aug 29th 2014 9:28AM

Buick Envision

Buick Envision rear three-quarter view Buick is launching its new midsize Envision crossover in China at the Chengdu Motor Show, where it will slot between the subcompact Encore and larger Enclave. While it might be hard to muster too much excitement about a Chinese-market crossover, don't completely ignore this one. There's a very good chance it could be on sale in North America to fill the same hole in the brand's lineup over here, possibly as a 2016 model.

We recently spied the Envision completely undisguised as it was arriving at the Chengdu show for its debut. The CUV still looks like a stretched Encore from some front angles, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's got a similar oversized grille, hood vents (presumably faux) and large greenhouse as its little brother. Where the midsize CUV differs is its prominent crease running down the side and the different rear treatment, with wing-shaped trim cutting into the taillights.

The interior looks like a pretty nice place to spend time, too, with a predictable mix of leather, wood and metal, and it should be quiet in there with its active noise cancelation system. Infotainment is provided by an eight-inch touchscreen with a touchpad and voice controls.

In China, this CUV is propelled by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 256 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque with standard stop/start and a six-speed automatic. That setup lets it run to 62 miles per hour in a claimed 8.4 seconds. The Envision also gets a standard all-wheel drive system that can send 100-percent of the engine's power to the front or rear wheels as necessary and route power side-to-side at the back, too.

We tried to pin down Buick spokesperson Nick Richards about the Envision's chances here, but all we would tell us was, "Our current focus is on continuing the Encore launch and the successful sales growth of these models." We'd be shocked if it didn't come to the States, but for now, it looks like we just need to wait and see for official word. Scroll down to read all of he details about the new middle child in Buick's Chinese crossover family.
Related GalleryBuick Envision
Buick EnvisionBuick EnvisionBuick EnvisionBuick EnvisionBuick EnvisionBuick EnvisionBuick EnvisionBuick Envision

News Source: Buick

Cadillac SRX production moving to TN, next-gen Equinox going to Mexico

Posted Aug 29th 2014 8:45AM

General Motors Spring Hill Factory

It's a good week for the town of Spring Hill, TN, as General Motors has announced that its factory in the city of 31,000 will receive a $185 million contract to produce engines. On top of that, the next-generation Cadillac SRX crossover will be built at the factory (NA models are presently built in Ramos, Arizpe Mexico), which was once famous for being the home of GM's now-defunct Saturn brand.

The factory is one of GM's six facilities around the globe that will screw together the company's new line of three- and four-cylinder Ecotec engines. Spring Hill currently builds the 2.0-liter, turbocharged Ecotec, as well as the naturally aspirated 2.4 and 2.5-liter variants.

Spring Hill's vehicle assembly lines were idled in 2009, but were reactivated in 2011. The SRX is just one of the products meant to benefit from last year's $350-million investment, and should have a positive impact, creating or retaining around 1,800 positions at the factory.

How big that impact will be, though, is open for debate. According to a new report from Reuters, some of the production of Spring Hill's current vehicle, the Chevrolet Equinox, will move to GM's Ramos Arizpe, Mexico factory when that vehicle is redesigned in 2017, Reuters reports. Neither GM nor the UAW offered any comment to Reuters, although an unnamed GM spokesman did add that it's "fair to say" there will be a net increase in jobs at the factory.

Scroll down for the official press release announcing the new engine and SRX production venues from GM.

News Source: General Motors, Reuters

Datsun expands low-cost revival with new Mi-Do in Moscow [w/video]

Posted Aug 29th 2014 8:01AM

Datsun Mi-Do

Those who were disappointed when Datsun changed its name to Nissan over three decades ago may have been pleased to see the marque revived last year, even as a budget brand. Nissan's counterpart to its ally Renault's Dacia budget brand, Datsun has been steadily expanding its lineup of low-cost transportation for developing markets with the debut of the Go hatchback in India, the Go+ minivan in Indonesia and the On-Do sedan in Russia. And now it has returned to Moscow to reveal its fourth model, the Mi-Do.

Based closely on the On-Do sedan (which itself is based on the Lada Granta) the Mi-Do takes on a five-door hatchback bodystyle but with no more frills. It uses the same front-drive chassis with the same wheelbase as the sedan, but its chopped tail makes it a good foot and a half shorter overall. Into that compact shape, Datsun has fitted dual airbags, ABS and... well, that's about it. It's got a 1.6-liter, eight-valve inline-four kicking out a grand total of 87 horsepower to either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. Bare bones, this is.

While delivery of the first On-Do sedans commences next month (with the first example going to an IT specialist in Omsk), the Mi-Do is set to begin delivery early next year. Scope out the video and press release below from the Mi-Do's reveal at the Moscow Motor Show.
Related GalleryDatsun Mi-Do
Datsun Mi-DoDatsun Mi-DoDatsun Mi-DoDatsun Mi-DoDatsun Mi-DoDatsun Mi-DoDatsun Mi-DoDatsun Mi-Do

News Source: Nissan via YouTube

Batman caught astride Batcycle in Japan

Posted Aug 28th 2014 8:01PM

Batman Batpod in Japan

Holy makeshift Batcycle, Batman. This rider in Japan deserves a round of applause and pat on the back for his dedication to an idea. We've seen people build more authentic looking recreations of the Batpod in the past but never with this much commitment to the whole look.

This Dark Knight reportedly rides around Chiba, Japan, fairly often and always in full Batman regalia. Presumably he's out fighting injustice, but we kind of also like the idea that he's just running errands like this, too.

Regardless of why he's doing it, we have to praise Batman's concentration. He's in broad daylight in full costume but doesn't break focus in this video even for a moment. Though, you would think the Caped Crusader would try to be stealthier.

News Source: jutan1983 via YouTube, Shortlist

What you missed on 8.28.14

Posted Aug 28th 2014 7:32PM

Daily U-Turn

Volkswagen e-UpElectric VW e-Up! tested

The Volkswagen Up! is one of our favorite pieces of pint-sized forbidden fruit. The cute little city car is already one of the best-selling microcars in Europe, and VW aims to broaden its appeal with a new electrified version, the e-Up! Jonathon Ramsey recently took the electric Up! for a quick spin in Germany. Read his full report, here.





Mazda MX-5 Miata muleMazda MX-5 Coupe in the works?

We're just days away from the reveal of the fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata, and already, the rumormill is swirling about what's in store for the lovely two-seat sports car. New reports suggest that a long-awaited coupe model is indeed in the cards – of course, take that with a huge grain of salt. More details about future plans for the Mazda3 and Mazda6 are detailed here, as well.




VolvoVolvo model range details revealed

Tired of all the Volvo news this week? Good. Neither are we. Looking beyond the introduction of the 2015 XC90, or man Noah Joseph managed to get some more details about the future of the company's model range, which happily includes sedans, wagons, and the well-liked Cross Country trims. See what else is in store in his deep dive, here.



Top Stories

Tesla Model S now the least-stolen car in the US

Posted Aug 28th 2014 7:00PM

tesla model s red

When is a Honda Accord more appealing than a Tesla Model S? When you're a thief. The Accord continues to reign as the most-stolen car in the US but the Model S is now claiming a new and interesting title: the least-stolen car in America. Last year, it wasn't even on the list. Of course, sometimes a Model S is stolen and the most famous case ended with tragic results.

Last year there was an eight-way tie for "least-stolen."

For the record, last year there was an eight-way tie for "least-stolen," made up mostly of SUVs and CUVs. The rankings were listed by a value called "claim frequency," which is how many were reported stolen per 1,000 units produced and where lower means it is stolen less. With a 0.4, these were the vehicles least wanted by thieves in 2013: Dodge Journey, Volkswagen Tiguan, Audi A4, Acura RDX, Toyota Matrix, Lexus HS 250 hybrid, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson. This year, the Tesla clocked in with a 0.15. The average vehicle has a claim frequency of 3.51.

Tesla has, of course, worked hard to make the Model S an unlikely target. It can be shut down remotely, it can be tracked and it has a hacker princess and cash prizes working to protect from other attacks. Tesla's Alexis Georgeson told AutoblogGreen that Tesla hasn't been able to verify the "least-stolen" moniker but said that, "We take the security of our cars very seriously and relentlessly continue to improve our vehicles via over-the-air updates, an ability unique to the industry. We will continue to work to stay ahead by providing the most sophisticated tools and technologies in our cars and working closely with security researchers to identify and address potential vulnerabilities."

Value Walk says that another reason for the low theft rate is that there might be very low demand for Model S parts, since the cars are still under warranty and there aren't many on the road. Still, the claim frequency is a fair comparison, and by that metric the Tesla Model S looks just awful to at least one group of people.
Related GalleryTesla Model S
Tesla Model STesla Model STesla Model STesla Model STesla Model STesla Model STesla Model STesla Model S

News Source: Value Walk

Chevy announces new Z71 package for Tahoe and Suburban

Posted Aug 28th 2014 6:28PM

Chevrolet Tahoe Z71

After what we're guessing was an unintentional leak via a press photo, Chevrolet has confirmed that it will be offering its long-lived Z71 trim on both the 2015 Tahoe and Suburban.

The company wouldn't offer any additional details on what the packages would add to the full-size, body-on-frame SUVs, instead indicating that a more formal announcement that would be made in late September.

The Z71 trim is currently offered on the Silverado pickup, and adds, among other things, an uprated, off-road suspension, a locking rear-differential, all-terrain tires and a unique appearance package.

Along with the Z71 pack, 2015 Tahoe and Suburban owners can look forward to a hands-free liftgate and 4G LTE wireless connectivity through Chevrolet's MyLink system.

Scroll down for the brief press release from GM.

Helsinki could make owning your own car a thing of the past

Posted Aug 28th 2014 5:44PM

TRAVEL HELSINKI

Helsinki, Finland is no stranger to transportation alternatives. From EV testing to a solid public transportation system, the northern European city knows that private cars are not the only option to get around. In the future, though, private cars might not be a logical option at anyone living there.

Navigant calls it "the final piece of the puzzle that makes this scheme truly transformative."

According to Navigant Research, Helsinki is working on an integrated system that would let users have one account that pays for carsharing, bikesharing, public transport and more. Navigant says that combining all of the various transportation modes into one payment network is "the final piece of the puzzle that makes this scheme truly transformative." It's certainly bigger and broader than anything we've heard of before to encourage people to give up their private vehicles.

In an urban environment, having simplified access to whatever method of conveyance you need at any given moment is idea. Want to bike the half-mile to the bakery? Get your ride on. Got to go to the hardware store for a load of fertilizer and a shovel? Check out a carsharing vehicle. Want to take the family to the zoo? Streetcar it is. Minimizing the hassle to access all of these options is going to make the day-to-day realities of private car insurance, refueling and repairs seem a lot less appealing. Or, as Navigant puts it: "The concept is the transportation version of other businesses that are moving from selling a product to selling the service or utility the consumer wants from that product. Planned obsolescence no longer makes good business sense, and consumers can benefit from constant improvements in technology." Rear the whole thing here.

News Source: Navigant Research via Green Car Reports

Image Credit: Pekka Sakki / AP

2014 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG goes Unplugged in Detroit

Posted Aug 28th 2014 5:01PM

Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG

As a reformed hooligan, there is still nothing more paralyzing to me than flashing red and blue lights matched with the sound of a siren, on a car headed right toward me. But it happens. And it happened while I stood in a cold Detroit parking lot taking the photos of the matte black 2014 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG you see here. On its own, the Merc ("Darth Benz" as my friend Eric aptly named it) looks all sorts of suspicious, with its murdered-out look only broken by chrome accents and the red brake calipers lurking behind those wheels. But I wasn't doing anything wrong. For once.

Two cruisers with four uniformed patrolmen pulled up, inspected the car, questioned me, and after realizing that everything was copacetic, two of 'em left. But the other pair hung out a bit longer, asking to see the engine, look inside, and finally, ask me for a ride down Fort Street. I happily obliged, and joked about it being a shame that I couldn't really open up the AMG G-Wagen for them, having to keep to the posted speed limit, after all. But the cop riding shotgun laughed, and instructed me to "hit it," when pulling away from a stoplight. So I did. And he laughed. Maniacally.

That's why the G63 AMG goes down as one of the best cars I've driven this year. It's not so much a dynamic masterpiece as it is a vehicle that just oozes cool across many levels, and is hysterically, ridiculously fun to drive. Everyone likes it, and it's easy to see why. First up, the twin-turbocharged, 5.5-liter V8 underhood, with 536 horsepower and 561 pound-feet of torque, with a brutal aural tone to match. Next, there's the absolutely unstoppable off-road ability (three locking differentials!). And beyond all of that, there's the style, the shape, the luxury, and the exclusivity that's all baked into the G63 package.

Because of this, I demanded we get Darth Benz on film. So as the final bits of our endlessly long cold season came to a close, I hit the streets of Detroit with our video crew in tow for another installment of Autoblog Unplugged. Again, the G-Wagen isn't really built for tackling curves – instead, it's all about the presence, and the noise. It's one of the coolest vehicles I've ever driven. Check it out in the video above.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Steven J. Ewing / AOL

Volvo aligning model range into three families

Product Plan Includes Cross Country Models, But No Coupes

Posted Aug 28th 2014 4:30PM

Volvo XC60 and XC90

Things have been slow in Gothenburg the past few years, but they're picking up speed. The only new model Volvo has released in the past four years since it was taken over by Geely – that being the V40 introduced in 2012 – started its development when the company was still under Ford's umbrella. But now the Swedish automaker is preparing to launch a volley of new models, and the new XC90 is only the starting point.

Volvo has set out to align its product portfolio into three model families – 40, 60 and 90 – each with three body-styles: sedan, wagon and crossover. (Volvo presented a tidy little table, which we've replicated below, to outline what it has in store.) That means a new S40 sedan and XC40 crossover as well as a replacement for the current V40 wagon, all to be based on a new platform shared with Geely. It also means replacements for the current S60, V60 and XC60 to be based on the modular SPA platform that underpins the new XC90, as well as a new S90 sedan to replace the S80 and a new V90 wagon to succeed the V70 and move it up-market above the V60.

All of these models are set to arrive within the next four years as Volvo moves to replace its entire lineup by 2019 and subsequently move to more competitive seven-to-eight-year product life-cycles. But as aggressively as Volvo is pursuing this renewal of its core models, they're not the only things Gothenburg has in store. Keep reading below to learn how Volvo's model line will flesh out over the coming years.

Image Credit: Live images copyright 2014 Noah Joseph, Drew Phillips / AOL

Saab owners NEVS denied creditor protection by Swedish court

Posted Aug 28th 2014 3:45PM

SWEDEN-AUTO-COMPANY-SAAB

The story of Saab is practically a Greek tragedy at this point. The quirky Swedish automaker that was once known as a pioneer of affordable turbocharging has been followed by years of news that just seemed to keep getting worse. At this point, maybe the brand name should be allowed to fade away into the ether and be remembered for the good times that it gave us.

Saab's latest predicament is that its parent National Electric Vehicle Sweden (or NEVS) has been denied protection from its creditors by the Swedish courts. According to Reuters, the judges called the business' financing plan "vague and completely undocumented." A company spokesperson told Reuters that it plans to appeal.

Seemingly in reaction to the court's decision, NEVS posted a press release on its website announcing that the company had applied "for a reorganization to create more time for the ongoing negotiations." The automaker continues to claim that it's negotiating with two global automakers to sell a portion of the company, possibly Mahindra, but the process is taking longer than it originally predicted. It seems a distinct possibility that this reorganization attempt is simply a way to buy extra time.

With no protection, the Enforcement Authority in Sweden could force NEVS to sell property to pay creditors, of which it allegedly has over 90. It said in the statement, "loss of such assets could obstruct finalizing a contract," with the automakers it's negotiating with and dash even the scant hopes the business has of being saved. Scroll down to read the beleaguered company's full release.

News Source: Reuters, National Electric Vehicle Sweden

Image Credit: Bjorn Larsson Rosvall / AFP / Getty Images

A man, his motorcycle, and his Macaw

Posted Aug 28th 2014 2:58PM

Macaw flying with owner on scooter

To those of us who weren't blessed with feathers and wings – hey, at least we've got thumbs, right? – the ability to take to the air, travel huge distances from amazing heights, only to land right back where we started from is the stuff of fantasies. In fact, it's probably the most common answer to the age-old "Which super power would you most like to have" question of our youth.

Watching the video above, it's easy to see why flight is such an amazing method of travel. While our protagonists require two wheels, gasoline for their internal combustion engine and a heavy dose of concentration in order not to end up with a terrible case of road rash, their fine feathered friend looks to have a much easier path, the Macaw floating as it does across an invisible cushion of air.

We're jealous. Not just of the Macaw's ability to fly, but also of the man who's bright green best friend accompanies him on these wind-in-the-hair coastal journeys. Watch the video above to see what we mean.

News Source: waterskizone via YouTube

Starbucks to trawl for college students with food trucks

Posted Aug 28th 2014 2:14PM

Starbucks Coffee Truck

The old joke about Starbucks is that there are so many of the coffee shops across America that in some places you can sit in one location sipping a pumpkin spice latte and actually be able see another one of its stores across the street. If you think the brand is everywhere now, it's going to be truly ubiquitous at three universities this fall with a pilot program that has food trucks serving coffee to caffeine-starved students and faculty.

According to BusinessWeek, Starbucks has about 11,500 stores nationwide, but the company wants to increase its presence on college campuses. Therefore, it's launching this pilot program to see how things work by using trucks. They're already following herds of students at Arizona State University and James Madison University in Virginia, and Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina gets its coffee-delivery vehicle on September 18.

The true genius behind this plan is that the trucks aren't just going to sit in one place all day. Instead, they are moving around throughout the day to give students their first fix in the morning and be right there in the afternoon to top off their cups. Starbucks is even promising to adjust the trucks' hours as needed on each campus to suit customers, even staying open later than the dining halls in some cases. The company clearly knows once you get people hooked; they are going to keep coming back for more. Scroll down to read Starbucks' announcement of the pilot program.
Related GalleryStarbucks Coffee Truck
Starbucks Coffee TruckStarbucks Coffee TruckStarbucks Coffee Truck

News Source: BusinessWeek, Starbucks

Mazda MX-5 Miata to spawn coupe, Mazda6 to get quick successive updates

Mazdaspeed3 On Track For 2016, Higher-Performance Mazda2 In The Cards, Too

Posted Aug 28th 2014 1:27PM

Mazda MX-5 Test Car

Despite the PRHT's availability, some are still yearning for a proper fixed-head coupe.

We are just days away from the official unveiling of the next-generation 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata on September 3, and it's fair to say that the mouths of enthusiasts are watering in anticipation for the latest version of this iconic roadster. Hard facts about the new droptop aren't easy to find, and in the absence of further disclosure from Mazda officials, the rumormill is in full swing, including word that a long-awaited hardtop coupe model will figure into the new generation's plans.

According to Automotive News, Mazda has a staggering number of updates planned for essentially its entire range in the coming years. The company's strategy often amounts to a one-two punch with some updates coming one year and more following the next. It's an interesting tactic that should keep the brand in the headlines with all of the changes.

In terms of the Miata, that tactic means going on sale sometime next summer as an all-new ragtop model that returns to its roots with a similar size and weight as the original (Autoblog sources indicate that there will be a substantial weight drop versus today's NC Miata, but we don't expect a return to NA or even necessarily NB featheriness). A 2.0-liter Skyactiv four-cylinder and six-speed manual should provide a decent jump in performance, too.

The vaguer news arises about a year later,when the publication's sources say Mazda will bring out a MX-5 coupe with a fastback design. This isn't to be confused with a power folding retractable hardtop option (PRHT) – the runaway success of the folding lid on the current generation means we expect a similar unit to be available when the new generation first goes on sale. Despite the PRHT's availability, some buyers are still yearning for a proper fixed-head coupe bodystyle, and apparently Mazda may be listening. With the death of the RX-8, Mazda doesn't have a hard top sports car in its lineup, and this would seem to be an easy way to get one.

News Source: Automotive News - sub. req.

Image Credit: CarPix

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