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In China, Tesla Model S is missing one basic feature

Company Says Google Is To Blame For Lack Of Nav System

Posted Jul 25th 2014 6:44PM

Tesla Model S Nav Screen

There were questions about the nav system in the Tesla Model S when the vehicle launched in the US, and there are still people who don't like it. But here's the thing: the US version at least has a nav system. With the luxury electric vehicle now available in China, drivers are discovering that the car is shipping without a working navigation system at all.

As China EV blogger Alysha Webb reports, Tesla's explanation for the lack of a nav system is that "Google maps are not supported." At least the company is working on an alternative map database for the land where Google doesn't work right. We've confirmed with Tesla PR in the US that Webb's report contains an official Tesla response, which includes the following:

Currently there isn't a navigation system in Chinese Model S as Google maps are not supported in the country. However, teams are currently working on a solution with Chinese text and voice recognition. We plan to introduce navigation to Chinese cars later this year (as already communicated to our customers). Once it's available, maps will be pushed to customers' vehicles through software updates.

One interesting quirk is that Tesla can't yet push the updated map to everyone over the air, since, "remote over-the-air software updates are not yet supported in Chinese Model S." Instead, Tesla will have to rely on its backend system to update the EV to what most American customers would consider standard equipment in a car in this price range. You can read the whole thing here.

NHTSA investigating more than 300k Chevy Impala sedans for airbags

Posted Jul 25th 2014 5:59PM

2011 Chevrolet Impala

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating vehicles from General Motors (if we had a nickel for every time we've written that this year). This time around, 320,000 Chevrolet Impala sedans from model year 2008 (the above photo is a 2011 model) are the focus, thanks to a defect petition filed way back in November, which NHTSA has just now opted to take a closer look at. This isn't a formal investigation just yet, although it could evolve into one depending on the review of the petition.

Donald Friedman, from Xprts, LLC, filed the original complaint, which focuses on the passenger airbag's Occupant Classification System. If any of this sounds familiar, it's because Friedman and Xprts aren't the only safety-focused folks asking NHTSA to take a closer look at the last-generation Impala. Clarence Ditlow and the Center for Auto Safety have also called out the OCS on certain last-gen Impalas. In those cases, a bad algorithm in the system would prevent the airbag from deploying if a seat's occupant bounced out ahead the impact.

While Xprts' complaint doesn't get into OCS specifics, it does call out the "software logic and algorithm," according to The Detroit News. The focus of the investigation revolves around a crash involving an elderly Texas couple and their 2008 Impala. Both occupants weighed around 170 pounds, yet only the driver's-side airbag deployed. The passenger airbag, meanwhile, was kept from deploying by the OCS.

Despite this case, NHTSA "has not identified reports indicating the presence of an OCS related defect in the 2004-2014 Impala," it said in a statement. "However, and in an abundance of caution, an evaluation of a limited scope of GM models, which will include a request for potentially related data on the MY 2007 to 2009 Impala, will be conducted to further evaluate the petitioner's allegations."

GM spokesman Alan Adler has told The News that the embattled company "will cooperate with NHTSA on its request for information. While the agency has 'out of an abundance of caution' asked for information on certain models of Impalas in the original defect petition, it is important to note that the agency has not opened a formal investigation."

More on this as it develops.

News Source: The Detroit News

Ford car-camo artist works his craft on Australia's new Falcon XR8

Posted Jul 25th 2014 5:15PM

Ford Falcon camouflage

Ford is among the kings of concealment when it comes to test cars. On one recent Mustang SVT mule, the automaker went to the extreme of putting baffles over the exhausts to hide how many there were. Sounds like a lot of work, right? In a new video, the Blue Oval has decided to take fans behind the scenes to show them what it takes to camouflage a prototype. In this case the subject was the recently unveiled 2014 Falcon XR8 for Australia.

Ford's prototype build coordinator Down Under has the very appropriate name of Neil Trickey, and it's his job to obfuscate the important bits of test cars to keep them out of spy shooters' camera lenses. Trickey calls his job a "dark art," and he shows off some of the tricks of his trade in the video. It turns out that the fabric we often see on mules is a type of lycra, but his team isn't above getting out a can of spray paint to conceal parts, too.

Scroll down to watch a video about a man who you probably wish could be a little worse at his job.

News Source: Ford Australia via YouTube

These are the top luxury cars bought by people entering the segment for the first time

Posted Jul 25th 2014 4:30PM

Volvo C70

Let's say you just got a big promotion at work or the kids are moving out of the house, and you finally have some extra money. You decide to blow it all at once and treat yourself by upgrading your ride. Naturally, you look to a luxury automaker. What do you choose?

Models like the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class may be tailor-made to introduce buyers to the premium segment, but a new study finds that they don't garner the highest rates of non-luxury customer conquests. It turns out that a Volvo leads among folks moving up to a premium brand, and it isn't even one that's made anymore, at that.

A recent study by Polk and IHS Automotive looked at what models had the highest rates of buyers upgrading from a non-luxury segment. The information comes from its new vehicle registration data through April 2014. All ten top models boasted conquest rates of over 50 percent, but the Volvo C70 led the field with 68.01 percent of its customers coming from non-premium brands.

It's an odd winner because the C70 isn't even available as a new model anymore, having been discontinued after the 2013 model year. It isn't the only car no longer offered that's on the list, either. The BMW 128i is in seventh place with 53.93 percent of conquest buyers despite leaving us in MY 2014. It seems likely that some of these vehicles are still on dealer lots, and buyers are getting good incentives to pick them up at lower prices.

According to Polk, the 10 models with the highest conquest rates from non-luxury segments are: If you're curious about the other side of the table, the Mercedes S-Class is the least likely vehicle for new luxury buyers to choose at 10.35 percent. Although, that's not exactly a shock – with a starting price of nearly $100,000, it would be quite a leap up from a Camry or Accord.

News Source: Polk

Will this 1966 Ferrari three-seater surpass $20M at Pebble Beach auction?

Posted Jul 25th 2014 3:44PM

1966 Ferrari 365 P Berlinetta Speciale

With a week of lavish automotive events coming up centered around the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in August, some of the highest profile auto auctions in the world are about to take place. Hearing about Ferrari Testa Rossas and 250 GTOs going for tens of millions of dollars during these events is commonplace, but Gooding & Company is bringing a unique Prancing Horse to sell in California that could be a record-breaker for the company.

The car in question is the drop-dead gorgeous 1966 Ferrari 365 P Berlinetta Speciale with just 7,900 kilometers (4,910 miles) on the clock that's pictured above, and it checks all of the boxes to make it incredibly desirable. First off, just look at it. The flowing lines and giant, tinted moonroof really make this Ferrari a head-turner. Inside, it has the distinctive feature of three seats with the driver slightly forward in the middle, kind of like the McLaren F1. And what a view from behind the wheel with all of the expansive glass in front of and above the driver. According to the auction listing, Pininfarina displayed the Speciale at a variety of international motor shows in 1966 and 1967.

If the looks aren't enough, then the provenance puts this Ferrari over the top, for sure. Underneath those gorgeous lines is the chassis from a Ferrari 365 P2 endurance racer. The sale claims that this was the first mid-engine, Ferrari 12-cylinder model created from the start as a road car. After touring with Pininfarina, it went to Luigi Chinetti, the first man to sell a Prancing Horse in the US and the boss of the company's North American Racing Team. He sold it twice, but the Speciale has been in the hands of the Chinetti since 1969.

Gooding isn't offering a dollar estimate on the sale, but it's expecting big things. "The most expensive automobile that Gooding & Company has ever sold at public auction is the 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa. We expect to shatter that record at Pebble Beach this year," said company boss David Gooding about the car, according to a spokesperson to Autoblog. That Testa Rossa went for $16.39 million after fees. It gives the 365 a lot to live up to. Scroll down to read the entire auction listing.

News Source: Gooding & Company

Image Credit: Brian Henniker, Mathieu Heurtault / Gooding & Company

Dealership refunds student for broken Saab with bags of pennies

Posted Jul 25th 2014 3:01PM

Woman refunded by dealer with bag of pennies

Every so often, we come across the story of someone trying to "stick it to the man" by paying a parking fine or speeding ticket in pennies or dimes. Never, though, have we heard of a business stooping to such clichéd lengths. Enter Florida.

Irena Mujakovic bought a 2003 Saab way back in January from Holiday Motors, in Jacksonville, FL. Shortly after the purchase, the transmission started acting up. She returned to the dealer and paid for the repair, and purchased a warranty for future issues. Total cost: $300. But then the trans crapped out not long after the initial repair, and Mujakovic was back at Holiday Motors. This is where things start going south.

This second trip cost Mujakovic $400, with her warranty in hand. That's because the man that runs the dealer, Ed Di Miranda, neglected to mention that the warranty didn't cover labor costs.

"The warranty did not cover labor and I failed to write that in and that was her loophole," Di Miranda told First Coast News.

The young college student filed a complaint with the Florida DMV, who sided with her and ordered Holiday Motors to refund the money. Di Miranda and the dealership did just that, but when Mujakovic came to collect her refund, it was to a bag of pennies, with a few dollar bills sprinkled in for good measure.

Di Miranda, doesn't seem to think he's done anything wrong, claiming that only about $85 was in change, while the rest was paper money. "I am doing what DMV asked me to do," Di Miranda said. "It is legal tender."

Mujakovic has not collected her refund. Have a look below for the video news report.

McLaren previews P1 GTR concept ahead of Pebble Beach debut

Posted Jul 25th 2014 2:13PM

McLaren P1 GTR Design Concept

McLaren, Ferrari and Porsche have all come out with their hybrid-powered hypercars, vehicles that boast the bleeding edge of what is possible with today's road-car technology. The next step, at least in the case of McLaren and Ferrari, is to push that bleeding edge just a hair further, with even faster, more focused versions of the P1 and LaFerrari. At the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, McLaren will be the first to give us a glimpse of that boundary-pushing machine.

The British automaker has announced that the P1 GTR Design Concept will make its global debut smack dab in the middle of Monterey's legendary car week, with the veil lifting on Friday, August 15 at 6:00 PM EST.

McLaren doesn't go into many specifics here, simply calling the P1 GTR a track-focused variant of the P1, which we kind of already knew. Based on what we can see from the lone teaser sketch, the new model will have a much more dramatic aerodynamic presence than the street model, with a massive rear wing and a huge rear diffuser. Sandwiched between those two items are a pair of exhaust tips that wouldn't look out of place on the deck of your average battleship. Carbon fiber should feature prominently, with a few exposed sections of the stuff visible in the teaser image.

Production is slated to begin promptly after the final P1 street car rolls off the Woking production line, sometime in June 2015. Of course, we'll have much, much more on the P1 GTR when it makes its debut at Pebble Beach. Keep an eye on this space come August 15. Until then, scroll down for the official press release from McLaren.

News Source: McLaren

FBI investigating recently fired Ford engineer for espionage [UPDATE]

Posted Jul 25th 2014 1:44PM

US FORD JOB CUTS

UPDATE: We have received a statement from Ford Global Corporate Communications Manager, Susan Krusel, which contradicts some statements in the original story by the Detroit News. Krusel writes:

"Ford initiated an investigation of a now former employee and requested the assistance of the FBI. Ford's offices were not searched by the agency; Ford voluntarily provided the information and items requested in the search warrant. We continue to work in cooperation with the FBI on this joint investigation. As this is an ongoing investigation, we are not able to provide additional details."


UPDATE #2: Autoblog spoke with David Porter, media coordinator for the FBI's Detroit field office, who was able to confirm that the statement we received from Ford is accurate. Agents from the FBI executed a search warrant at Ford offices, which involved company representatives "immediately" presenting agents with the items/information requested on the warrant.


Agents of the FBI are investigating a potential case of industrial espionage involving a recently fired Ford employee. The Dearborn, MI-based manufacturer had its world headquarters searched by FBI agents on July 11, and according to The Detroit News, had warrants to seize recording devices handed over to Ford by Sharon Leach, a now-former Ford engineer.

Leach, who had spent 17 years with the Blue Oval, was fired last month, after Ford Security relieved her of eight Sansa listening devices. The FBI got involved shortly after her dismissal, searching her home on June 20 and seizing some two dozen items, including computers, jump drives and financial records, according to warrants obtained by The News.

Ford has remained quiet on the matter, with spokeswoman Susan Krusel confirming that the automaker was working with the FBI as part of a "joint investigation," while declining to provide any additional details.

"It didn't involve anything of a spying nature." – Marshall Tauber

Legal experts are watching the case closely, as the move to search and seize items rather than issuing of a subpoena would indicate that the Feds are concerned that evidence could be destroyed.

"If it's an economic espionage case or trade secrets case, that rarely involves one individual," Peter Henning, a law professor at Detroit's Wayne State University, told The News. "So the concern is if you send a subpoena and ask for recording devices, those things can be erased."

Leach declined to comment to The News. Her attorney, meanwhile, is denying any wrongdoing and claiming the recording devices were used without malice.

"It didn't involve anything of a spying nature," Marshall Tauber, Leach's lawyer, told The News. "She wanted to record conversations of meetings she attended but didn't know how to do it. She was insecure about her note-taking."

Be that as it may, the fact that the listening devices were installed before Leach's meetings and were left in conference rooms after that, is suspicious enough that it led Ford Security to get involved.

Leach later admitted to using the devices, and claimed that she only used them to record her own meetings. According to Tauber, she said she erased them as soon as she listened to them and revised her notes.

"I think you're dealing with a person who was seeing how sharp the new kids are and maybe feeling a need to keep up with them," Tauber told The News. "And maybe she realized that she's not as attentive as she once was and needs a little assistance. Maybe her memory was failing her on the technology end but she didn't want to admit it."

The case is now in the hands of the US Attorney's Office and the FBI.

News Source: The Detroit News

Image Credit: Paul Sancya / AP

Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat in the works

Posted Jul 25th 2014 12:56PM

2015 Dodge Charger

In Autoblog's recent First Drive of the 2015 Challenger SRT with the 707-horsepower Hellcat V8 we found its engine to be as brutally powerful as the numbers would suggest, even if it wasn't the best handler. However, the muscle-car-styling just isn't right for some buyers that need four doors and proper rear seats to haul around the family. It appears that Dodge has their backs, though, because the Hellcat is very likely on its way into the Charger in the near future. Imagine the looks on your passengers' faces when you stomp down on the throttle.

According to Road & Track, when Dodge submitted the Hellcat for engine power certification to the Society of Automotive Engineers, the company included the Charger on the paperwork. That showed that the automaker wanted the engine checked out for the sedan, too. R&T reckons the 707-hp Charger would hit the road about a year from now, clearing the Challenger for a year of exclusivity with the powerplant.

When the Charger SRT Hellcat does hit the road, it may carry a very special accolade. Assuming nothing beats it in the meantime, it might be the world's highest horsepower production sedan. Think on that for a second. Even a Mercedes S65 AMG only has 621 horsepower, though a good bit more torque at 738 pound-feet to the Dodge's 650 lb-ft. So while the beastly engine is getting put into other models, where else would you like to see it? The Ram? Grand Cherokee? Let us know in Comments.

News Source: Road & Track

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Drew Phillips , Seyth Miersma / AOL

This vintage racer is a Peerless competitor

Posted Jul 25th 2014 12:15PM

Peerless from Petrolicious

Sometimes important decisions come down to a split second where you just have to go with your gut. While leaving is son Paul's soccer game in the early 1990s, Ron Cressey spotted a 1959 Peerless GT on a car transporter. It turned out the owner was moving and shipping the car with him. Not wanting to let the opportunity pass, Ron started negotiating and bought the car on the spot. It took him another five years to restore it for vintage racing.

Cressey certainly has an eye for rarity because Peerless is among the lesser known British sports car builders. The company went out of business in 1960 and only sold cars for a few years. For the GT, Peerless took the engine, transmission and front suspension from a Triumph TR3, plus a Jaguar rear differential, and crafted a coupe body over it all.

As usual, Petrolicious contributes cinematography that is among the best anywhere on the web, and its sound mix allows the Peerless' four-cylinder engine to really sing. Scroll down to learn more about this vintage racer and the father/son connection that keeps it at the track.

News Source: Petrolicious via YouTube

Mercedes details 4.0L twin-turbo V8 for AMG GT

Posted Jul 25th 2014 11:31AM

Mercedes-Benz AMG M178 V8

We can lament the passing of the Mercedes-Benz M156 6.2-liter V8 until the end of time (and we probably will), but none of our moaning is going to stop Mercedes or the madmen of AMG from coming up with more modern, forced-induction mills like the 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8, or this, the company's new 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8. The freshly unveiled mill will make its production debut in the Mercedes-AMG GT, and based on the stats, it should prove a real honey.

Code-named M178, the new, turbocharged mill comes to party with 510 horsepower, but its big trick is the 479 pound-feet of torque it deploys between 1,750 and 4,750 rpm. Engine, thy name is usable power. The new 4.0 can rev to the same 7,200 rpm redline as the 6.2-liter V8 in the SLS AMG, meaning it should be a jolly good engine to wring out. The two turbochargers, meanwhile, can run to a maximum pressure of 17.4 psi and can spin to 186,000 rpm.

The measure of an engine isn't limited to just its power output. In today's world, it needs to be light. According to AMG, the new 4.0 is just that, boasting a dry weight of just 461 pounds, thanks to an aluminum crankcase. AMG even cast an eye on the way the engine's fat is distributed, fitting the turbochargers not outside the cylinder banks, like on a typical engine, but in what it calls the "hot inside V" configuration. That allows a lower, more compact engine package whose weight is better distributed.

Sound is arguably one of the AMG engine's most important aspects, and in that important arena, the 4.0 shouldn't disappoint. Slated to debut in the Mercedes-AMG GT, the 4.0 will be paired up with an exhaust that includes variable flaps that open and close depending on things like the transmission mode and throttle inputs. That should allow the GT's new engine to balance the AMG sound we know and love with a more relaxed, mellow and quieter character in everyday driving.

We'll have much more on both this engine and the car it will debut in, the Mercedes-AMG GT, in the coming months. Until then, there's a wealth of nitty gritty information available in the attached press release, from Mercedes-Benz. Scroll down for a look.
Related GalleryMercedes-Benz AMG M178 V8
Mercedes-Benz AMG M178 V8Mercedes-Benz AMG M178 V8Mercedes-Benz AMG M178 V8Mercedes-Benz AMG M178 V8Mercedes-Benz AMG M178 V8Mercedes-Benz AMG M178 V8Mercedes-Benz AMG M178 V8Mercedes-Benz AMG M178 V8

News Source: Mercedes-Benz

Mazda recalling 18k Mazda6 and RX-8 models over airbag inflators

Posted Jul 25th 2014 10:45AM

Mazda RX-8 badge

Faulty Takata airbag inflators keep taking their toll on automakers. Mazda is the latest to be affected in the US by announcing a recall covering 18,050 Mazda6 and RX-8 models to replace the front, passenger-side airbags. Specifically, the campaign covers 18,000 Mazda6 units from the 2003 and 2004 model years built between May 29, 2002, and March 4, 2004, and 50 RX-8 vehicles from the 2004 model year made between June 25, 2003, and June 30, 2003.

As with the rest of the vehicles with these faulty inflators, it's possible for the part to rupture when deploying the airbag and potentially spray shrapnel at the occupant. Mazda's defect notice goes into a bit more detail than most about the problem saying: "some propellant wafers have been produced with an inadequate compaction force, or may have been exposed to uncontrolled moisture conditions (those wafers could have absorbed moisture beyond the allowable limits)."

This isn't Mazda's first difficulty with Takata-supplied airbags this year. The company was among the seven automakers that recalled vehicles in hot-weather states over the inflators. It also had to recently fix 42,000 Mazda6 vehicles in China over the issue.

Repairs of the Mazda6 and RX-8 are scheduled to start in August, and obviously there's no charge to owners. Scroll down to read the recall announcement, or read the complete defect notice as a PDF, here.

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

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 AOL

Nissan commits to adding 'iconic' design after Cube killed off

Posted Jul 25th 2014 10:02AM

Nissan Cube

The Nissan Cube is on its way out here in the US and Canada. In a way, that's too bad, simply because the Cube's styling was nothing if not distinctive – much like the company's own Juke. However, the flame for uniquely styled models is indeed still burning over at Nissan.

We might never see an exact replacement for the Cube in the brand's lineup, but product planning boss Andy Palmer says that its retirement leaves a spot open in the Nissan lineup for something else. "To be clear, we will morph this space in our portfolio into something iconic," said Palmer to Automotive News. Unfortunately, he wouldn't hint at what that could mean.

However, his lack of suggestions makes it fun to speculate about what oddity could replace the Cube, especially since two of Nissan's more recent quirky concepts might have problems hitting the road. The Bladeglider is mired in Nissan and Deltawing Technologies' ongoing patent lawsuit. Alternatively, the retro-inspired IDx might be too expensive to build profitably. Still, this is the company that created both the (nearly dead) Murano CrossCabriolet and the very successful Juke; it can probably come up with something else delightfully weird.
Related Gallery2014 Nissan Cube
2014 Nissan Cube2014 Nissan Cube2014 Nissan Cube2014 Nissan Cube2014 Nissan Cube2014 Nissan Cube2014 Nissan Cube

Subaru teasing new WRX S4 model ahead of Japanese debut

Posted Jul 25th 2014 9:15AM

Subaru WRX S4 teaser

The Subaru WRX range is growing just a little bit larger, at least in Japan, with the automaker's teasing announcement of a new version called the S4. Unfortunately, the company is keeping details about its latest all-wheel drive sport sedan a closely guarded secret for the moment.

From what we can glean, it appears that the S4 might be a more luxurious take on the WRX. According to the release, the name stands for the four qualities that Subaru wants the sedan to have: "'Sports performance', 'Safety performance', 'Smart driving' and 'Sophisticated feel.'" As part of this focus, the car comes with the company's EyeSight camera system. Thankfully, we don't have too long to wait to find out what all of the buzz words actually mean because Subaru is unveiling the S4 on August 25 in Japan.

The automaker also launched a teaser website for the S4 that you can cheek out, here, but at the moment it doesn't provide any more details about the new sport sedan. The site just has countdown until the August reveal. There's also no indication yet whether this potentially more premium WRX could make it US shores. Scroll down to read the Subaru's rather concise teaser for the upcoming S4.

News Source: Subaru [1], [2]

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