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    Behind the scenes of BMW's 'Driftmob' [w/videos]
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MA drivers named nation's most accident prone

Posted Aug 27th 2014 8:44AM

Blinkah Warning

If you're hoping to avoid a car accident, even a minor fender bender, it might be best to avoid Massachusetts at all costs. In the tenth annual Allstate America's Best Drivers Report, cities in the Bay State took three of the four worst spots in the study. In two areas, drivers are more than twice as likely to be in a collision than the national average.

You might expect a big city like Boston to be the worst of the bunch, but Worchester actually takes the ignominious honor this year as the most likely place in the nation to have a car accident, according to the Allstate data. The average driver there goes just 4.3 years between collisions, compared to the national average of about every 10 years. Bean Town ranks as second worst with a crash every 4.4 years, and drivers in Springfield go 5.4 years on average. Only Washington D.C. was slightly worse with 5.1 years between accidents.

On the other end of things, if you want to keep your car sparkling, you might want to consider Fort Collins, CO. Drivers there go 14.2 years between accidents – 29.6 percent better than the national average. It's the fourth year that the city has topped the rankings.

Allstate's report is based on data from its own claims in the 200 largest US cities, and this year's study looks at accidents from January 2011 to December 2012. The investigators then apply a weighted average to the numbers to determine the final rankings. It defines a crash as "any collision resulting in a property damage claim." Scroll down to read the press release about this year's analysis or check out Allstate's interactive map for the last decade of rankings. If you want to see all of the results in order, you can also download the report as a PDF, here.

News Source: Allstate [1], [2], [3]

Image Credit: Michael Dwyer / AP Photo

Elon Musk says 'right on' to letter asking for new Model S features

Posted Aug 27th 2014 7:57AM

Elon Musk Tesla Open Letter Ad

If you want to get Tesla CEO Elon Musk's attention, taking out a full-page ad in his local newspaper will apparently do the trick. That's what two self-proclaimed "very highly satisfied" Model S owners did, asking for a few small changes in the popular EV. In response, Musk Tweeted a picture of the ad and wrote, "Ad taken out in Palo Alto Daily [News] by two Model S owners is right. Many of the suggestions will be implemented soon." The ad also appeared in the Palo Alto Weekly.

You can see all of the requests by clicking the image above, but we'll mention some of them here. Improved voice-activated phone dialing, better sensors (like blind-spot monitors), redesigned sun visor, automatically closing charging port door and then the big one: Tesla ads.

Tesla isn't talking about when the new features will be available, but if any of those items are unlikely in the near future, it's Tesla advertisements. After all, why pay for media attention when a simple Tweet about other people paying for your ad can get tremendous amounts of attention?

News Source: Huffington Post, Teslarati

Which is more fuel efficient, driving with a pickup's tailgate up or down?

We Find Out With A 2015 Ford F-150, A Wind Tunnel And A Smoke Wand

Posted Aug 26th 2014 7:57PM

2015 Ford F-150

Thanks to the smoke wand in the wind tunnel, you can actually see the difference in our video.

Should you drive with your pickup truck's tailgate up or down? It's an age-old controversy that's divided drivers for decades. Traditionalists will swear you should leave the tailgate down. Makes sense, right? It would seem to let the air flow more cleanly over the body and through the bed. But there's also a school of thought that argues trucks are designed to look and operate in a specific manner, and modern design techniques can help channel the airflow properly. So don't mess with all of that: Leave the tailgate up.

Which is true?

To solve this tailgate debate, we went inside the wind tunnel at Ford to test the aerodynamics of the 2015 Ford F-150. The model's exterior design manager Brad Richards explained that the new truck was designed with purposeful edges and shapes that look imposing, yet still allow the F-150 to maintain strong aerodynamics. "We think this is the toughest F-150 by far, but also the most efficient," Richards said.

All of this matters, as loyal Ford truck buyers expect the F-150 to look a certain way, but the Blue Oval is also projecting fuel economy gains thanks to the new truck's use of lightweight aluminum. And no matter how light the truck is, fuel-economy gains could be wiped out with poor aerodynamics. With that in mind, Ford styled the truck to maintain its beefy look, but also beat its predecessor in the wind tunnel. Ford paid close attention to a new, lower air dam, mirrors that were redesigned "a dozen times" and a small lip on the rear tailgate. Acting as a spoiler, the lip allows air to cleanly detach from the body. Thanks to the smoke wand in the wind tunnel, you can actually see the difference tailgate up versus tailgate down in our video.

Ford remains tight-lipped about the F-150's fuel economy numbers, but it admits dropping the tailgate would increase drag by about eight percent – and sandbag fuel economy. Even for older models without the fancy spoiler, you're hurting efficiency and lowering your gas mileage when driving with the tailgate down, argues Richards.

So there's your verdict, straight from the wind tunnel: Leave the tailgate up.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 / AOL

What you missed on 8.26.14

Posted Aug 26th 2014 7:31PM

Daily U-Turn

Volvo XC90Meet the 2015 Volvo XC90

It's been a long time coming, but the 2015 Volvo XC90 is finally here. It has a simple, clean design (which most people seem to like), a really nice-looking interior, and a range of efficient yet powerful engines. It'll be priced from $48,900 in the US (for a T6 AWD model), and you can read all about it in our reveal post, here.





BMW R NineTRiding the BMW R NineT

BMW's motorcycle history is indeed storied, but the German maker is diving into new territory with its R NineT. It's a fully customizable, cafe racer-style bike, and has been in development since 2011. Contributor Susan Carpenter spent two weeks with BMW's newest bike, and gives a full report in our First Ride review.





BMW DriftmobBehind the scenes of BMW Driftmob

BMW's Driftmob ad featuring the new M235i coupe was a huge production. So big, in fact, that the company wanted to tell the story from a behind-the-scenes perspective, and invited Autoblog to be the only US media outlet on hand during the ad's filming in Cape Town, South Africa. Read about everything that went into filming the Driftmob spectacular, here.



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Toyota celebrates 30th anniversary of Land Cruiser 70 with Japan rerelease [w/videos]

Posted Aug 26th 2014 7:00PM

Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series Re-release

It's a common refrain among auto enthusiasts to bemoan the current models being sold for being overly complex and expensive and to wish that automakers would just make vehicles like the old days. Sure, they might not have been as safe or efficient, but there was often a certain rugged simplicity that's gone today. Well, Toyota is actually doing it and thinks there's enough demand to put the Land Cruiser 70 back into production in Japan for its 30th anniversary. Sadly, it's only for one year.

The original Land Cruiser 70 served a long life in Japan from 1984 to 2004. Even today, the proven model remains in production in some regions abroad. People in its home country still love the vehicle though, and Toyota is brushing off the mothballs to give customers what they want. For the first time ever there, it's also offering the double-cab pickup version in addition to the traditional enclosed body. The company thinks that it can move about 200 of these classic trucks this year, which isn't too shabby for a vehicle that's three decades old.

Looking at the pictures above, these look like the same old Land Cruisers, but Toyota is updating them slightly to meet modern safety rules. The grille, hood and headlights are all tweaked, and they now come with airbags and anti-lock brakes. A 4.0-liter V6 is under the hood making 228 horsepower (170 kilowatts) and 266 lb-ft of torque (360 Newton-meters), and the only available gearbox is a five-speed manual. Part-time four-wheel drive is standard. If you're really afraid of getting stuck in the wilderness, locking front and rear differentials and a winch are available as options.

Prices for these throwbacks start at 3.6 million yen ($34,600) for the SUV or 3.5 million yen (33,700) for the truck. Scroll down to watch some videos of these awesome "new" models showing what they can do off-road, and to read Toyota's official announcement.

News Source: Toyota, Toyota Global Newsroom via YouTube [1], [2], [3]

How privacy fears are driving automakers in the age of the connected car [w/poll]

Ford To Hire Global Privacy Policy Attorney

Posted Aug 26th 2014 6:29PM

Ford Posts Record $1.69 Billion Third-Quarter Profit

A recent GAO report concluded car companies don't adequately disclose how and why they share location data.

As cars collect and store more and more data about the whereabouts of their drivers, automakers are responding to critics who say they should be more transparent about how those details are used. Ford is hiring a global privacy policy attorney to craft the company's customer privacy policies in the era of connected and autonomous cars.

"In this emerging space, there is an important need to address customer privacy policies," reads a job description posted on the "people and careers" portion of the company's website. "As part of our compliance and ethics organization at Ford, this person will have an immediate and direct impact in shaping existing and future policy and corporate thinking in this area."

Ford is creating the new position, based at its Dearborn headquarters, at a time technology advances are outpacing privacy protections. Earlier this year, a report from the federal government concluded car companies don't adequately disclose to motorists how and why they share location data.

That report, from the Government Accountability Office, found many car companies did not describe how they shared location data, did not allow consumers to request their data be deleted and that there was a "wide variation" in how car companies retained vehicle-specific or identifiable location data. It noted there is increased risk of location data being used in ways "consumers did not intend."

Ford was one of 10 companies the GAO surveyed while compiling its report.

Customers are opting to share that data largely by using features like maps and turn-by-turn direction that are run by a vehicle's telematics unit. Depending on the company, it can be unclear how that data is collected, retained or shared. At the time the GAO report was issued, AAA, the nation's largest motoring club, urged carmakers to be more transparent in how they handle data and to offer stronger security protections.

News Source: BrassRing.com, US Government Accountability Office

Image Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images | XiXinXing / Alamy

Infiniti ESQ is a Chinese Nissan Juke Nismo

Posted Aug 26th 2014 6:01PM

Chinese-market Infiniti ESQ, front three-quarter view.

Take a Nissan Juke Nismo, replace all of its suede and Alcantara interior with leather and cross-stitching, replace all of its badging with the words "Infiniti ESQ," and boom! You've got a made-for-China crossover aimed at "the new millennials." Infiniti teased the coming of the ESQ last month, and today, we're treated to pictures taking it in from various toothsome angles.

Whippersnappers with anywhere from 200,000 yuan ($33,507 USD) to 300,000 yuan to spend will get the same 197 horsepower, 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, sport-tuned CVT and all-wheel drive that we know in the Juke Nismo. We haven't tracked down any other official information about it yet, but potential buyers will get their first look at it during the Chengdu Motor Show that opens later this month, where it will share market-specific notes with Infiniti Q50 L.
Related GalleryInfiniti ESQ
Infiniti ESQInfiniti ESQInfiniti ESQInfiniti ESQInfiniti ESQInfiniti ESQInfiniti ESQInfiniti ESQ

News Source: Jalopnik

ETC

Why one Long Island county dismissed $2.4 million in speed-camera fines [w/video]

40,000 Tickets Affected By Nassau County Glitches

Posted Aug 26th 2014 5:30PM

West Hollywood

The goal of speed cameras should be to improve safety and change driver behavior, not to make motorists feel like they're being ripped off.

A speed-camera program in one Long Island county issued almost 40,000 tickets over the past month. They're all being expunged.

A malfunction with the cameras caused them to cite motorists who didn't deserve the citations, according to Edward Mangano, Nassau County's top executive. As a result, the county plans to dismiss more than $2.4-million worth of tickets. Motorists who already have paid their citations will receive refunds.

"I don't have a high confidence level that the cameras were operating at statutory levels," Mangano tells Newsday. "So we are declaring amnesty with all tickets issued this summer."

Six cameras responsible for the improper citations are located in school zones. Problems arose because the speed limit changes between 25 miles per hour and 40 mph, depending on whether the schools are in session. In some cases, motorists simply were not aware summer school was in session. In others, the cameras recorded violations at incorrect times.

News Source: 7 Online, Newsday

Image Credit: mike ambs/Flickr

Delivering a one-off Bugatti Veyron Vitesse

Posted Aug 26th 2014 5:02PM

Bugatti Veyron L'Or Style delivered in San Diego

The Veyron is nearing the end of its production run, at the end of which Bugatti will have built only 450 examples. Of those, only 150 will be roadsters, and of those roadsters, even fewer will be the Vitesse version that combines the best attributes of the Grand Sport and Super Sport models. And with a virtually endless array of color choices, no two ever need be alike (safe for the Legend editions, each of which Bugatti will only build three examples). Yet certain examples have received extra-special treatments, and that's just what we have here.

Called the L'Or Style edition, this Vitesse roadster features a similar treatment to the L'Or Blanc edition, but in red and black instead of blue and white. Which is all well and fine, but what we're really interested in here is how it's being delivered. Because while it may seem like Bugatti's created another "one of a kind" Veyron every other day, it's not every day that you see how the logistics of delivering a $3 million supercar are handled.

Fortunately, the Symbolic Motors group that includes in its portfolio the Bugatti San Diego franchise and which handled the sale of this particular Veyron, captured the delivery process on video. We'll let you watch for yourself to see just how painstaking the process (even just that part caught on video) is – complete with wood-floored transporter truck, intake-perforated protective wrap and wheel spoke guards - but suffice it to say it's a bit more coddling than your average dealership delivery.

News Source: Symbolic Motors via YouTube, MotorAuthority

Autoblog Podcast #394

Supercharged Viper, Chevrolet Silverado Rally Edition, Supercharged Honda CR-Z, Alfa Romeo 6C

Posted Aug 26th 2014 4:44PM

Autoblog Podcast logo

Episode #394 of the Autoblog Podcast is here, and this week, Dan Roth, Steven Ewing, and Michael Harley talk about the possibility of a supercharged Dodge Viper, the Chevrolet Silverado Rally Edition, the newly released supercharger kit for the Honda CR-Z, and rumblings of an Alfa Romeo 6C. We start with what's in the garage and finish up with some of your questions, and for those of you who hung with us live on our UStream channel, thanks for taking the time. Check out the rundown below with times for topics, and you can follow along down below with our Q&A. Thanks for listening!

Autoblog Podcast #394:

play


Topics:
In The Autoblog Garage:
Hosts: Dan Roth, Steven Ewing, Michael Harley
Runtime: 01:32:30

Rundown:
  • Intro and Garage - 00:00
  • Supercharged Viper - 44:25
  • Chevrolet Silverado Rally Edition - 55:19
  • Supercharged Honda CR-Z - 01:00:52
  • Alfa Romeo 6C - 01:07:29
  • Q&A - 01:13:41

Get the podcast:
[UStream] Listen live on Mondays at 10 PM Eastern at UStream
[iTunes] Subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes
[RSS] Add the Autoblog Podcast feed to your RSS aggregator
[MP3] Download the MP3 directly

Feedback:
Email: Podcast at Autoblog dot com

Review the show in iTunes

Lincoln trumpets $129M investment, 300 new jobs in Louisville for MKC

Posted Aug 26th 2014 4:16PM

2015 Lincoln MKC, front three-quarter view.

Remember when we used to talk about how close Lincoln was to being axed and how it seemed any day now the Grim Reaper would use it as a car service back to the grave? Last time we did it was, oh, not even a month ago. What a difference 27 days makes: Ford and Lincoln are trumpeting a $129M investment in the Louisville Assembly Plant that builds the MKC.

In July the MKC was the third-best-selling Lincoln of the brand's six offerings, beat by the MKZ and – by a much smaller margin – the MKX. It has sold 2,895 units in the two months it's been on sale, which is more than half the year-to-date sales of the MKS, MKT and Navigator. It's already important, is what we're trying to say, and this is before the Chinese market gets a crack at it later this year.

The money headed to Kentucky will be joined by 300 new workers, another marker in Ford's march to create 12,000 hourly jobs in the US by next year. You can read more about it in the press release below.

News Source: Lincoln

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Chris Paukert / AOL

Mercedes M-Class to become GLE-Class next year

Posted Aug 26th 2014 3:32PM

Mercedes-Benz M-Class

Automotive naming schemes can get a little bit weird as they age. Just look at the impending BMW lineup with a rear-wheel drive 2 Series and front-wheel drive 2 Series Active Tourer on sale together – of course, to say nothing of the fact that the 2 Series is actually the successor to the 1 Series coupe/convertible in the States. Crazy. However, Mercedes-Benz might be taking steps in the opposite direction to actually make its SUV and crossover lineup easier for customers to understand.

The first potential shift is dropping the M-Class name from the range because it just no longer fits within a naming structure that has SUVs and CUVs all starting with G. According to Car and Driver speaking with unnamed Mercedes insiders, when the crossover gets refreshed with updated styling in 2015, it's also getting a new name: GLE-Class. Then, when the Concept Coupe SUV goes into production, it would be called the GLE Coupe.

The rumored changes to the M-Class might be only the beginning, though. Once the GLE falls in place, the future version of the GLK-Class would possibly become the GLC-Class. Just those two revisions would give the Mercedes' mainstream SUV and CUV range a similar hierarchy as its sedans with the GLA-Class, GLC-Class, GLE-Class and GL-Class all having roughly corresponding models, plus the G-Class out on its own as its incomparable self. If it all actually happens, the re-naming should make the lineup easier to understand. Autoblog reached out to Mercedes spokesperson Christian Bokich to confirm all of this, but all he would say is, "I'm afraid that it's too early to tell at this point."

News Source: Car and Driver

Behind the scenes of BMW's 'Driftmob' [w/videos]

How BMW Pulled Off A Drifting Dream Sequence In A Cape Town Traffic Circle

Posted Aug 26th 2014 2:58PM

BMW Driftmob

All this, for one minute and 47 seconds of action-packed footage with no official plot.

We arrive in Cape Town, South Africa, on the third and final practice day for the drivers of a BMWStories internet video called The Epic Driftmob feat. BMW M235i. We are immediately whisked to a large, empty parking lot on the outskirts of Cape Town, where tires are squealing and chunks of rubber are flying as five red BMW M235i coupes churn up more smoke than a California wildfire. And the smell – it smells like heated metal, the kind of thing rev limiters are made for. Times five.

A couple dozen locals have lined up along a chain link fence, lured like moths to a flame by the sounds and scents and plumes of smoke emanating from the site. Each has their camera ready for the moment stunt coordinator Riley Harper says, "Action!"

This event – and Autoblog's involvement in it, specifically – was more or less an experiment on BMW's part to see if there is a story to be told from video production and photo shoots, normally marketing endeavors and something PR folks keep independent documentarians like us a long way away from. We were the only US media outlet invited, and we weren't there to drive a new product, just to take in one of its current (and in our opinion, one of its best) cars, the M235i coupe, do amazing things at the hands of some of the world's best drifters.
Related Gallery2015 BMW M235i Drift Mob
2015 BMW M235i Drift Mob2015 BMW M235i Drift Mob2015 BMW M235i Drift Mob2015 BMW M235i Drift Mob2015 BMW M235i Drift Mob2015 BMW M235i Drift Mob2015 BMW M235i Drift Mob2015 BMW M235i Drift Mob

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Steve Siler / AOL / BMW

Chevy is building nearly 3x as many C7 Corvettes than it did the C6

Posted Aug 26th 2014 2:29PM

2014 Chevy Corvette Stingray

In case there aren't enough on the roads in your area to make the case, Corvette Blogger reports that at last weekend's Corvettes at Carlisle show, General Motors showed a graphic putting the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray production run at 37,288 units. That is about equal to the last three years of the C6 Corvette – combined – and includes Premiere Editions, regular retail sales, and "exports and captured fleet cars that were sellable units" according to Corvette product manager Harlan Charles. Coupes and convertibles equipped with the Z51 package outsold their base versions, and Torch Red narrowly beat Arctic White as the exterior hue of choice.

While that number ranks 14th on the all-time annual production chart, it's a very strong showing in the "modern era," going back 30 years to the introduction of the C3. In this millennium it's only beat by the first year of C6 production in 2005 at 37,372 units (when black was the best selling color and the Z51 only reached 40.8 percent of sales), and the third year of C6 production that hit 40,561 units (black was still the best color and 65.5 percent of buyers checked the Z51 box). Before that, you'd have to go all the way back to 1985 for a higher number.

The second year of C6 production declined even with the introduction of the Z06 – we'll see if the C7 Stingray's enhancements for the 2015 model year and the sales help of the bonkers yet absurdly reasonably priced Z06 can prevent that. Meanwhile, head over to Corvette Blogger for a fuller breakdown of the 2014 numbers.

News Source: Corvette Blogger

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Seyth Miersma / AOL

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