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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

Vencer Sarthe supercar emerges out of The Netherlands

Posted Sep 19th 2014 10:58AM

2015 Vencer Sarthe

Vencer Sarthe - 2015 MY - Rear three-quarter viewPlans change, and hopefully as an idea evolves along the way, it gets even better by the end. That mantra appears to be the case with the Vencer Sarthe supercar that is finally heading into production for the 2015 model year. It has had some significant changes over its two years of development.

We first saw the Sarthe back in 2012 when Vencer first announced its supercar, and the model made its world debut last year. The Dutch builders didn't let that stop them, though, and they have continued to tweak things up until this just-announced production version.

The general idea behind the Sarthe is the same. The supercar takes its name from the famous Circuit de la Sarthe Le Mans race course and claims design inspiration from endurance racers of the '80s. The basic engineering still features a carbon-fiber body, chrome-moly chassis and a V8 stuck behind the driver to spin the rear wheels.

However, Vencer claims that there are over 100 changes compared to the earlier prototypes, including a different engine. Instead of the original, naturally aspirated 510-horsepower V8, there's a 6.3-liter supercharged V8 with 613 hp and 618 pound-feet of torque. With no computer assists, a Torsen limited-slip differential is there to help with traction. While not mentioned in the release, photos show a six-speed manual gearbox.

The exterior also gets some pretty radical changes, especially in the back. Instead of being smooth, the rear pillars now include air intakes, and there's an electrically deploying rear wing. The engine cover is redesigned, and the side air inlets are larger. The interior goes for absolute minimalism, with a central screen for the instruments, a few buttons and the gearshift.

Vencer claims to be building its first customer cars now in Vriezenveen, The Netherlands, and European prices start at 270,882 euros ($349,832) before any applicable taxes. Scroll down to read about this Dutch supercar in its latest evolution.
Related Gallery2015 Vencer Sarthe
2015 Vencer Sarthe2015 Vencer Sarthe2015 Vencer Sarthe2015 Vencer Sarthe2015 Vencer Sarthe2015 Vencer Sarthe2015 Vencer Sarthe2015 Vencer Sarthe

News Source: Vencer

New radar gun may inform police if you're texting

Posted Sep 19th 2014 10:16AM

SPEEDING CRACKDOWN

Typically, we don't really enjoy seeing radar-gun-wielding traffic cops. They have a tendency to ruin our day. But, a new sort of radar gun may have us quickly singing their praises. The Virginian-Pilot reports that there's a new tool that will be able to tell officers if a driver is texting rather than paying attention to the road. Oh yes, we like this idea.

The company is ComSonics, and its miraculous device can detect the radio waves from an active phone inside of a car. According to spokesman Malcolm McIntyre, it's not all that different from what cable repairmen use to find damaged cable lines.

Importantly, the new device is capable of parsing through the various frequencies that accompany telephone and data signals and isolate those for text messages, so you aren't likely to get nabbed if you're talking via Bluetooth or you receive an email.

According to McIntyre, the gun-like device is "close to production," and as far as we're concerned, it all sounds very helpful.

What are your thoughts on this? Should police have this sort of enforcement technology? What about people that have a passenger sending a text message? How would law enforcement handle that? Have your say in Comments.

News Source: The Virginian-Pilot

Image Credit: Nell Redmond / AP

ETC

Austrian policeman victim of explosive poo trap

Posted Sep 19th 2014 9:29AM

A generic

My cousins lived next to a big cow pasture in Platteville, WI, when we were all kids. Those boys knew how to have a good time in the country, and when my brother and I came to visit one year, they divulged the fun that could be had by rigging cow patties (that's a pile of poo, for you city slickers) with little firecrackers. Push one in, up to the fuse, light it, and run as fast as you can.

Of course, eventually everyone ended up with at least a little poop on himself, which is why we played the game in the first place. Good times, but a bad example it seems...

Things weren't so jolly, familial or pastoral for an Austrian traffic officer recently, I imagine, when he was showered with doo-doo of indiscriminate origin in the course of duty.

Constable Gunther Maier "triggered" a fishing line found on the side of a Moeltal state highway, which was connected to a bucket filled with explosives and manure. The constable was about six and a half feet away from the brownie bomb when it detonated, and was lucky to escape the incident without injury, though he did end up "covered with manure."

A spokesman for the Austrian police said the bomber was most likely targeting police intentionally; with the bucket of BM found in an area know to be a speed trap. And, what's more, police aren't laughing off the matter, either – the individual responsible could potentially face criminal charges for his or her actions.

I doubt that my cousins were in Austria at the time of the incident, but I wouldn't be surprised if the culprit grew up on a farm...

News Source: UPI

Image Credit: Maurice Savage / Alamy

Harley-Davidson from Easy Rider expected to fetch $1.2M

Posted Sep 19th 2014 8:44AM

Easy Rider Captain America Motorcycle auction

With the famous tag line, "A man went looking for America. And couldn't find it anywhere..." the 1969 movie Easy Rider has become one of the definitive on-screen expressions of the counter culture of the era. Starring Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper with a great guest role from Jack Nicholson, it told the story of disillusioned guys riding motorcycles through the US. Among the most iconic parts of the film was the customized Harley-Davidson chopper that Fonda's character rode. On October 18, the bike dubbed Captain America is crossing the auction block in California and is expected to go for as much as $1.2 million, according to the auction house Profiles in History.

Fonda reportedly came up with the bike's famous combination of high handle bars, a fuel tank painted like the American flag and lots of chrome by himself, and had four of them built or the movie. Before Easy Rider was released the other three were reportedly stolen, according to former owner (and Grizzly Adams star) Dan Haggerty to ABC News. This one was not only ridden on film, but it was used in the crash sequence at the end of the movie.

When shooting was complete, Fonda gave the bike to Haggerty who had maintained the motorcycles on set during production. He restored it, and the chopper was eventually put it on display National Motorcycle Museum in Iowa. According to ABC News, Michael Eisenberg bought the famous motorcycle last year and has decided to sell it on again. It comes with signed letters of authenticity from the National Motorcycle Museum, Fonda and Haggerty verifying that this was the bike used in the film. Now, someone else gets a chance to own this historic piece of movie and motorcycle memorabilia.

News Source: ABC News

Image Credit: Profiles in History

Baja champ blazes trail through Ensenada with his Monster trophy truck

Posted Sep 18th 2014 7:59PM

Monster Energy Ensenda Video

Last year, former Baja 1000 champ BJ Baldwin and his trophy truck proved that they could save a women stranded in the desert in a broken down Nissan GT-R in a video called Recoil. For this year's sequel, he's turned the excitement way up. By combining high speed, huge jumps, women in bikinis, liberal use of slow-mo and staging everything in a unique location, the makers of Recoil 2 might have hit on the perfect formula for a fantastic automotive stunt demonstration video.

The challenge here is for Baldwin to speed from the outskirts of Ensenada, Mexico, to a seaside party within just 20 minutes. Obviously, it wouldn't be exciting if he just had to cruise to victory, and Baldwin turns the little town into his own personal launch pad by flinging his Monster Energy Chevrolet Silverado over whatever gets in its way.

His weapon to make sure the job gets down is a truck with a claimed 800+ horsepower and a suspension setup that that looks like it can take on just about anything. Baldwin puts it all to very good use here, so turn up the speakers and enjoy.

News Source: Monster Energy via YouTube

What you missed on 9.18.14

Posted Sep 18th 2014 7:31PM

Daily U-Turn

Quick Spin: 2014 Kia Cee'd GT

We're undergoing somewhat of a Hot Hatch Revival here in America these days, but the sad truth is that for every Volkswagen GTI and Ford Focus ST we can buy, the average European shopper has three to choose from. So, if we can't beat 'em, we'll borrow 'em. We travel to the UK, to wring out a perfectly warm Kia hatchback that the Korean company doesn't offer on our shores. In the land of hatchback plenty, can the Cee'd GT distinguish itself?




The IRS is getting plug-in tax credits all wrong

It's a fairly simple concept: the feds authorized big consumer tax credits for the first 200K plug-ins and EVs sold by each automaker. The company's report their sales to the IRS, and the IRS keeps track of the tally for everyone involved. Only, that's not happening. We dive into the convoluted tale, and look for some answers.





Why yes, Nissan did make a Leaf pickup truck

What do you do when you need a new shop truck/parts hauler, and you happen to be a major automobile manufacturer? If you're Nissan, you saddle up and build something awesome, it seems. The body and drivetrain of the Nissan Leaf meet the modified bed of a Nissan Frontier, in a tiny truck that we dare you not to have a crush on.




Top Stories

Toyota ad says fuel cell cars are inevitable

Posted Sep 18th 2014 6:58PM

Toyota fuel cell ad

Toyota's confidence in H2 technology remains as strong as ever. The company has released a new commercial that says it's not a matter of if we all start driving hydrogen cars, but when. In fact, the 70-second spot calls 2015 the turning point for the alternative powertrain technology.

Here's a bit of the voiceover for the animated spot, which to our eyes and ears comes off as more than a little defensive:

There will be the naysayers. The handbrakes, who say that it can't be done. that it's unsafe. That there's no infrastructure to support it. Then there'll be the trailblazers. The first to put up their hand, and put down their foot. The bold few, driven to be remembered as those who made a difference. And perhaps, the ones that made all the difference.

In the end, Toyota says, we're all going to be driving hydrogen cars, starting perhaps with the company's first H2 sedan which will go on sale next year. But, if the early comments on the video's YouTube page are any indication, then Toyota's might be a bit lonely driving down the hydrogen highway. Watch the ad below, then vote in our poll below and let us know what you think of Toyota's approach.

When it comes to hydrogen cars, I am:

News Source: Toyota via YouTube

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Jonathon Ramsey / AOL

Cadillac's de Nysschen won't budge on raised pricing

Posted Sep 18th 2014 6:30PM

Cadillac Logo

According to new Cadillac boss Johan de Nysschen, it will take between 10 and 15 years to elevate GM's top brand, which was once hailed as "The Standard Of The World," back to prominence in the minds of American customers. And to hear the executive talk of it, the brand is going to have to be willing to see sales falter in the near-term before they recover:

"Either you have to bring your volume aspirations into alignment with reality and accept that you will sell fewer cars... Or you have to drop the price and continue to transact at the prices where you were historically... I think the logical conclusion is that it's better to build off a very solid base in terms of [product] credibility, charge a fair price for the car and realize you have to wait until the volume comes."

In other words, sales will fall before they rise, and the brand has to be okay with that. Notice, too, that de Nysschen speaks of "a fair price" for Cadillac cars and utility vehicles. In this case, "fair" means more than many of the brand's traditional buyers are accustomed to, and roughly in line with the brands and machines Cadillac believes it is competing against. For instance, the newly enlarged 2014 CTS carries a suggested retail price that is over $6,000 higher than it was in 2013, and some trim levels boast an even higher price premium over the models they replace.

Time will tell if General Motors continues to support de Nysschen in his quest to bring Caddy up in pricing and perception to its German rivals, but at least he's being clear about the time frame and acknowledging that they are "leaving their traditional customer base" behind in the process. As the recent former head of Infiniti and a career-man at Audi before that, de Nysschen should know a thing or two about how hard it is to retrench and resurrect a damaged luxury nameplate.

Here's hoping Cadillac's upcoming range-topper is found worthy of direct comparison with the likes of the Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7 Series and Audi A8, models with which it will likely be priced directly against.

Hyundai spooks investors by paying $10B for new Gangnam HQ location

Automaker Outbids Samsung, Stock Tumbles 9%

Posted Sep 18th 2014 5:45PM

A man walks past a logo of Hyundai motor

Doing things Gangnam style apparently costs a serious chunk of change, because Hyundai is reportedly paying roughly $10 billion for 19.6 acres (79,342 square meters) of land in the trendy district of Seoul, South Korea, to serve as the location for its new headquarters. That eye-popping number represents the highest amount ever paid for a plot of land in South Korea, according to Reuters. The hefty price tag reportedly scared investors enough for stock prices to sink dramatically.

Shareholders were apparently upset because the massive outlay could instead have been put back into the company for research and development or other improvements. Instead, the company reportedly bid triple the land's appraised value, says Reuters. The announcement caused Hyundai's stock price to plummet a massive 9 percent, and there were losses from Kia and the company's parts arm, as well. All told, the three of them lost nearly $8 billion in value from the falling share prices – almost enough to pay for the controversial land.

Hyundai currently has its headquarters on the outskirts of Seoul, but seems keen to move to the high-end Gangnam district to show off its rising status. It plans to build a new office complex, hotel, convention center and theme park on the site. According to an analyst speaking to Reuters, that could all cost an additional $6 billion to complete.

"In order to achieve production capacity of 10 million cars and bolster brand value that befits a global top-five company, we need a global business center. The bid is the result of comprehensively reviewing its value as a symbol of the group's second growth phase," a Hyundai spokesperson told Reuters. The company and electronics giant Samsung were both bidding to buy the land from Korea Electric Power, but clearly the automaker was willing to pay anything to get it.

News Source: Reuters

Image Credit: Jung Yeon-Je / AFP / Getty Images

Leno drives Volvo P1800 from Roger Moore's The Saint

Posted Sep 18th 2014 4:57PM

Volvo P1800 from The Saint

Outside of a few notable exceptions, Volvo usually isn't associated with making beautifully curvaceous vehicles. But in the 1960s and early '70s the company proved with the P1800 that its cars didn't only have to be safe but staid family transportation. Underneath that shapely styling were a lot of components from the brand's parts bin, but that didn't bother Roger Moore when he drove one of these in the TV series The Saint. Actually, the future James Bond actor didn't just get behind of one of these; he owned this exact 1967 P1800 S. It's this week's highlight on Jay Leno's Garage.

Moore was the car's original owner, but it also appeared in studio scenes of The Saint. Despite its famous provenance, when owner Bill Krzastek bought the P1800 in England, it was in pretty rough shape. The Volvo underwent a nine-month restoration to get it back into shape, which included some new body panels and wheels. Krzastek claims that much of the interior is original, though.

Krzastek comes off has a little bit nerdy, but you have to give him credit. He absolutely loves his Volvo and knows something about practically every detail of his car's history. Krzastek even refinanced his house to fund the purchase and restoration of the P1800. Although, with the right maintenance these old Swedes have been known to go millions of miles. Enjoy this look at one that was a star of the screen in the '60s.

News Source: Jay Leno's Garage via YouTube

Citroen C4 Cactus Airflow 2L promises 141 mpg, no door dings [w/video]

Posted Sep 18th 2014 4:29PM

Citroen C4 Cactus Airflow 2L Concept

Citroen C4 Cactus Aero 2L concept - rear sail area closeupI'm the president of Autoblog's chapter of the Citroën C4 Cactus Appreciation Club. Full Disclosure: I'm also probably its only member. Why am I fan, you ask? Because the C4 and its ding-resistant Airbumps offer the versatility of a five-door Ford Focus, but it's 350 pounds lighter than today's Mazda MX-5 Miata, tipping the scales at just over 2,100 pounds. And when equipped with a diesel, it returns 91.1 miles per gallon (European), all while looking like the epitome of French quirkiness and style. I can't think of anything not to like about it, aside from the fact that I haven't actually driven it (Citroën, call me, we can change this).

For the 2014 Paris Motor Show, Citroen is bringing a new concept version of the Cactus. Unlike the Adventure Concept shown at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, the Airflow 2L Concept is focused on increasing the Cactus' already impressive fuel economy. Through a fanatical observance of aerodynamics and the shedding of a further 220 pounds of weight, the Airflow 2L Concept returns over 141 miles per gallon (in other words, it consumes just two liters of fuel per 100 kilometers, hence the "2L" in the name).

Aerodynamic drag has been reduced by 20 percent thanks to three adjustable intakes in the front fascia, which can open and close automatically based on driving conditions. Side deflectors divert air around the body while active shutters on the 19-inch wheels further cut down on drag even further. The old concept car trope of video cameras in place of traditional wing mirrors is present, ostensibly to further reduce drag, while Citroën has added an air curtain system on the front bumper to manipulate air around the wheels.

The Airflow's floor is carbon fiber, while carbon composites have been used in the roof, tailgate and doors. Aluminum has been extensively employed, both for structural components as well as the hood and engine cradle.

Under that hood sits the brand's latest Hybrid Air powertrain, which boasts a three-cylinder gas engine as well as a compressed air motor. Citroën reports that this new powertrain is responsible for 30 percent of the Airflow's improved fuel economy.

Take a look below for the full press release from Citroen, as well as a hefty gallery of images of the funky, fuel-efficient five-door. We'll have much more on the C4 Cactus Airflow 2L, as well as everything else the French brand is debuting, when we cross The Pond early next month for the 2014 Paris Motor Show.

News Source: Citro├źn, Q Cars via YouTube

Fiat Chrysler global HQ lands in London's ultra-posh West End

Posted Sep 18th 2014 3:45PM

address block at the economist plaza, st james's street, london, england, marking three iconic 1960s buildings

It seems Fiat is bent on bolstering its image as a global automaker, as word has leaked out that the Italian/American conglomerate has chosen to locate its global headquarters in a rather swanky neighborhood in London. According to Bloomberg, the rental location on St. James Street in London's West End is a 10-minute walk from Buckingham Palace, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will fill up three complete floors of an office building that also houses The Economist magazine.

As a neutral location between Italy and the United States, the London-based headquarters makes sense, though, at $277 per square foot, this area is said to be the most expensive office space in the world. There's no mention of what FCA has actually agreed to pay for renting the space, but we're certain it isn't coming cheap.

Not surprisingly, Bloomberg also cites research indicating that the largest number of immigrants moving into London from January through August of this year hail from Italy, which makes sense considering the number of Italian executives and workers we'd expect would have to relocate to the UK in order to work at Fiat's new home. The company reportedly plans to be in place in London by the time it holds its next round of board meetings in October.

News Source: Bloomberg

Image Credit: Mick Sinclair / Alamy

IRS won't, or can't, reveal how many plug-in vehicle tax credits are left

Posted Sep 18th 2014 2:59PM

Stop, pay your taxes!

The IRS has set up a page to help track individual automaker sales figures, but it's a complete mess.

One of the benefits of driving a plug-in vehicle these days is a federal tax credit worth up to $7,500. Officially called IRC 30D, this credit is intended to make the high cost of new EVs sting less for early adopters. Of course, free government money doesn't last forever, and when the tax credit law was first passed in as part of the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008, lawmakers built in a phase out. The rules say that the tax credit only lasts for each automaker until its first 200,000 EVs have been sold. After that, a company's qualifying vehicles (list here) will gradually net their buyers smaller and smaller tax credits – first 50 percent of the full amount for six months, then 25 percent for the next six months – over the following year until they're just gone. We've got the law's specific language at the end of this article.

Why This Matters

Let's be clear: no automaker has come close to selling 200,000 plug-in vehicles in the US. Nissan and Chevrolet are closest with over 60,000 each of the Leaf and Volt, respectively, and Tesla is catching up. Still, EVs sales are doing better than some might expect, and with around 250,000 EVs sold throughout the US from all automakers – up from just 130,000 a year ago – we're likely to hit the 200,000 target before we know it. With that in mind, it'd be nice to know how the various companies and plug-in vehicles are selling. Automakers are supposed to file their sales numbers quarterly and the Internal Revenue Service is supposed to share those official numbers with the public (more on this below), but when you try to look up the data, things quickly get messy. If if it's not clear how many the IRS says are sold, then how will anyone know when the tax credits run out?

The IRS has set up a page that is supposed to help buyers figure out how much time is left for plug-in vehicle buyers to get a tax credit, and it tracks individual automaker sales figures. Trouble is, it's a complete mess. There are years' worth of data that the IRS is not making available to the public. Or perhaps some of it's the automakers' fault. Some plug-in models – most of them, in fact – don't even show up on the chart. This all needs to be fixed before someone goes to buy a Leaf, for example, expecting to get money back and then is served a nasty surprise. We know that when incentives run out, sales tend to suffer.

News Source: Internal Revenue Service

Image Credit: Marc Norman / Getty

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