Skip to main content

We obsessively cover the auto industry…

32 New Articles in the last 24 hours Hide

First Drive
2015 Mercedes-Benz S550 Coupe

  • First Drive
    2015 Mercedes-Benz S550 Coupe
  • Podcast
    Autoblog Podcast #402
  • Translogic
    Translogic 161: Detroit bike culture explored
  • Spy Shots
    2016 Nissan Maxima spotted for first time
Tip Us

Has Hendo created the Model T of hoverboards?

Posted Oct 21st 2014 4:59PM

Hendo Hoverboard prototype

We all think of the same exact thing when we hear the word "hoverboard:" Back To The Future. After Marty McFly is transported into the future to fix the mess his future family has gotten itself into, he hops onto a contraption in an unfortunate shade of pink that looks like a skateboard without wheels. According to the original writer of the scene, the thought was that a hoverboard would float on an invisible magnetic field, allowing its rider to hover inches above the surface of the ground on a cushion of air.

That was all the way back in 1989, and we still have exactly zero actual hoverboards merrily hovering their riders to and fro with jackets that dry themselves and shoes that automatically lace themselves to the proper fitment. Our collective selves let out a sigh we've been holding in since BTTF Part II stopped showing on the big screen... But wait.

A company called Hendo has created what may be considered the very first working prototype of a real, actual hoverboard. It's not without faults – the fact that it only works on certain metallic surfaces being perhaps the biggest, followed by its lack of directional stability – but it most definitely hovers, and you can most definitely ride it. And it's just the beginning of what the company and its inventor have in mind for the hovering technology.

According to Greg Henderson, inventor of the Hendo, this creation represents "the Model T of hoverboards," meaning that it's very early in development, not that it will be the first such machine mass produced. Future applications include planes, trains and automobiles, naturally, but also as a way to earthquake-proof permanent structures like buildings and bridges.

Check out the videos down below for more on this unique creation, and be sure to follow its progress if you're interested in Kickstarting its future.

News Source: The Verge, Engadget

Image Credit: Engadget

Autoblog Podcast #402

Audi A3 TDI Road Trip, Luxury Car Features We Love

Posted Oct 21st 2014 4:44PM

Autoblog Podcast logo

Episode #402 of the Autoblog Podcast is here, and this week, Dan Roth, Steven Ewing, and Brandon Turkus talk about the Audi A3 TDI Challenge and luxury car features we not-so-secretly love. 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 #402:

play


Topics:
In The Autoblog Garage:
Hosts: Dan Roth, Steven Ewing, Brandon Turkus
Runtime: 01:17:40

Rundown:
  • Intro & Garage - 00:00
  • Audi A3 TDI Challenge - 42:51
  • Luxury Features We Love - 01:00:05
  • Q&A - 01:09:17

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

Aston Martin testing modified Vantage at the 'Ring

Posted Oct 21st 2014 4:15PM

Aston Martin Vantage prototype

Aston Martin is on the verge of a renaissance that stands to be the biggest shift for the British automaker since it went independent in 2007 – if not since Ford took it over in the early 1990s. It's got a new chief executive, a new engine deal in place with Mercedes-AMG, a new platform under development and – if the new Lagonda sedan is anything to go by – maybe a new design direction in the works. And what do we have here? A test mule that could foreshadow one of the first new models of this new era.

Spied undergoing testing at the Nürburgring (where else), this prototype looks for the most part like the existing V12 Vantage S, but with what look to be even wider wheel arches. The question, then, is what those widened wells are there to accommodate, and the most likely conclusion would be that new Mercedes engine.

Aside from the lack of grille slats inside that trademark opening in the nose and the competition-spec alloys inset in those arches, there's not much else to go on. But that Aston is testing such a prototype at all is evidence enough that work is under way on something exciting, so watch this space.

Image Credit: CarPix

How to drive a monster truck, as told by Monster Jam drivers

Posted Oct 21st 2014 3:28PM

How to drive a monster truck

On the surface, it's easy to write off monster trucks as big, dumb and dangerous vehicles, but when you start looking deeper, they get a lot more impressive. At least for the people competing in the Monster Jam series, there's a commitment to safety and some seriously cool engineering to make all of those huge jumps and stunts possible night after night. Of course, driving one of these behemoths isn't exactly easy, either.

Not only do drivers have to deal with bouncing around all the time, they also have in the region of 1,500 horsepower at their disposal, all of which is being channeled into something with some pretty bizarre handling characteristics, too. Just think about it: How many competition vehicles can you think of that sport massive tires and separate controls for the front and rear steering?

If you want some advice, check out this video to hear from the men and women of Monster Jam who are behind the wheel practically every night and then have to fix them to crush more cars the next day.

News Source: Gizmag via YouTube

Michigan Gov. signs 'anti-Tesla' bill, but says rules could change

Posted Oct 21st 2014 2:43PM

Governor Snyder Michigan Anti-Tesla Bill Screen Grab

Don't look for a Tesla store in Detroit anytime soon. Even though the company says a Motor City service center is "Coming Soon," another hurdle was placed in the company's way today when Governor Rick Snyder signed House Bill 5606 into law. The law was introduced by State Representative Aric Nesbitt, who said it is not "anti-Tesla at all." Still, 5606 does clarify and strengthen the state's laws against an automaker selling vehicles directly to consumers, which is why Tesla called on its supporters last week to ask Snyder not to sign the bill into law. That didn't work.

The bill passed the Michigan legislative chambers with overwhelming support last week (106-1 in the House, 38-0 in the Senate) and Snyder said that his team's research found it "doesn't change current law at all." He nonetheless thought it was worth signing, and you can watch him explain why in the video below. He also mentions a letter he attached to the bill saying he's open to future discussions regarding direct vehicle sales. He does not mention his campaign support from numerous auto dealers.

We have asked Tesla for a comment on this latest development and will let you know when we hear back. Last week, the California automaker called the legislation "harmful to consumers."

News Source: Gov. Rick Snyder

Takata airbag victim looked like she had been stabbed

Posted Oct 21st 2014 2:15PM

Germany Japan Automotive Supplier

We generally take certain principals for granted. The more water you drink, for example, the healthier you'll be. The more time you spend reading car news on Autoblog, the better informed you'll be. And the more airbags your car has, the safer you'll be. Because airbags equal safety. But that's not what some unfortunate drivers of vehicles equipped with Takata airbags are finding, and tragically finding out the hard way.

A woman named Hien Tran of Orlando, FL, was killed by what looked at first like stab wounds on her neck. It later emerged that the fatal injuries could have been inflicted by the faulty airbag on her Honda Accord. Tran bought her Honda secondhand, and may not have been aware that the airbag issue had not been addressed by its previous owner in a previous recall in 2009.

The Orange County Sheriff's Department is investigating the death, but it wouldn't be the only death resulting from the malfunctioning Takata airbags – in fact, there have been two prior deaths caused by the exploding debris. The units, employed particularly by Japanese automakers like Honda (which owns part of Takata) and Toyota, are the subject of a massive recall involving some 14 million vehicles from 11 different automakers.

One possible explanation for this problem revolves around a propellant that, particularly in humid climates, could deploy the airbag unexpectedly, in some cases even sending metal shards from the airbag's casing flying through the cockpit. To date there have been some 139 injuries reported.

The urgency of the matter has prompted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to issue an "act immediately" warning to owners of affected vehicles to get their airbags fixed. However there may not be enough parts for all the airbags in all the millions of affected vehicles to be replaced immediately. Some automakers concerned are addressing the issue first in warm-weather regions before replacing airbags in vehicles located elsewhere, but it will likely take some time before all the problematic equipment is repaired or replaced.

News Source: The New York Times, Automotive News - sub. req.

Image Credit: Jens Meyer/AP

Total oil exec killed when plane collides with drunk snowplow driver

Posted Oct 21st 2014 1:30PM

France Earns Total

Sad news out of Russia today, as it's being reported that Christophe de Margerie, the chief executive of France's Total Oil, has been killed along with three other people after their plane collided with a snow plow on the tarmac of Moscow's Vnukovo International Airport.

The plane de Margeri was on, a Dassault Falcon, was to fly from Moscow to Paris, after the 63-year-old exec meant with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. According to a statement by Russian authorities, "Investigators are looking at a mistake by the air traffic controllers and the actions of the driver of the snow plow. Apart from that, they will also check the versions of poor weather conditions and mistake by the crew."

"At the current time, it has already been established that the driver of the snow plow was drunk," the statement added. Investigators, meanwhile, have seized all video and audio recordings leading up to and during the incident, Russia's TASS News Agency reported.

De Margeri has been with Total since 1974, when he graduated from Paris' Ecole Superieure de Commerce business university. He took the helm of the French oil company, Europe's third largest, in 2007. He was affectionately known within the company as "Big Mustache."

"It's a huge loss to the industry and its future focus," former Shell Oil CEO John Hofmeister told the BBC. "What he has done for Total in repositioning the company to return to integrity and sound operations is deeply respected and highly regarded."

According to the BBC, Total did not have a succession plan in place, only indicating that de Margeri's successor would come from within. The company's board will be assembling as soon as possible.

News Source: BBC

Image Credit: Jacques Brinon / AP

Jay Leno takes a Surfin' Safari in a 1937 Ford Woodie Restomod

Posted Oct 21st 2014 12:44PM

1937 Ford Woodie Restomod

Woodie wagons were a major part of surfing culture in the 1960s, offering coastal style and a ton of room, and they even earned a mention in the Beach Boys' classic song Surfin' Safari. This week, Jay Leno's Garage takes a look at two modern, restomodded examples of these style icons.

Unlike a lot of restomods, builder Scott Bonowski keeps these wagons looking almost completely stock on the outside, and all of the upgrades are hidden underneath the timber. You can't tell by looking at it, but the '37 Woodie (pictured above) has independent front and rear suspension, disc brakes and a Ford 5.0-liter V8 under the hood.

Beyond the mechanical aspect, the craftsmanship into the wood is astounding. Bonowski claims there are between 30 and 50 coats of varnish on this wagon. It makes these woodies as much of a piece of fine furniture as a vehicle to drive.

Leno might be taking his garage to television sometime soon, but until then, we still get to enjoy Jay heaping some love on fantastic cars once a week. Take a tour of two of these intriguing classics in his latest video.

News Source: Jay Leno's Garage via YouTube

2015 Mercedes-Benz S550 Coupe

Beauty Masks A Formidable Beast

Posted Oct 21st 2014 11:57AM

2015 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe

This is the most beautiful car currently offered by Mercedes-Benz.

With apologies to the aggressive and undeniably attractive Mercedes-AMG GT, the brand-new successor to the supercar throne vacated by the dearly departed gullwinged SLS, the S-Class Coupe as seen in the images scattered through these pages is particularly evocative, with flowing lines from front to plunging rear that somehow recall early pre-war streamlining while still coming across as thoroughly modern and completely refined. It's a shape that will get noticed in traffic, generating gentle nods of approval, subtle stares and longer-than-normal glances from those with discerning automotive tastes, without attracting the kind of pre-teen attention garnered by less practical, though similarly expensive, machinery.

Considering the shapely bodywork parked before me set against the shockingly beautiful autumn colors of Rhode Island and the sweet, salty smell of ocean tides, the actual driving dynamics of the S550 Coupe I was about to experience seemed, for a brief moment, to be superfluous to the experience at hand. That is, it felt that way until slipping into what may be the most comfortable and accommodating driver's seat ever made, a move affording me the chance to revel in the cabin's almost overwhelming embrace of accoutrements and technology.

Vital Stats

Engine:
Twin-Turbo 4.7L V8
Power:
449 HP / 516 LB-FT
Transmission:
7-Speed Auto
Warranty:
48 months / 50,000 miles
Base Price:
$119,900
As-Tested Price:
$150,000 (est)

News Source: Copyright 2014 Jeremy Korzeniewski / AOL

EPA to scrutinize auto fuel economy tests, issue revised guidelines

Posted Oct 21st 2014 11:15AM

EPA Proposes Changes To Ethanol Mandate In Gasoline

Following the lowering of estimated fuel economy figures from companies like Ford, Hyundai, Kia and even a handful of Mercedes-Benz sedans in the recent past, the Environmental Protection Agency is cracking down by mandating new mileage testing procedures by the end of the year, after first considering some changes months ago. The improved evaluations should make the numbers that buyers see on the window sticker of a vehicle closer to what they experience in the real world.

The most significant alteration is issuing specific protocols governing the coast-down test, according to Automotive News. The examination gathers data on things like drag, rolling resistance and drivetrain friction as a vehicle cruises from 80 miles per hour to a complete stop. That information is then used to program dynamometers for further driving analyses, but currently, the exact procedure varies by company. Inaccurate figures from the assessment were reportedly responsible for Hyundai and Kia's fuel economy mark down and one of the changes for the Ford C-Max.

The other big change closes a loophole that allows automakers to test the fuel economy for a single model and then apply it to others with the same powertrain and weight class. This is the same issue that forced Ford to re-rate the C-Max in 2013.

According to Automotive News, the agency is also planning to continue with successful policies like auditing the fuel economy of more models to make sure they match manufacturers' ratings. It may also force companies to double-check mileage results from pre-production examples against the final version of a vehicle.

News Source: Automotive News - sub. req.

Image Credit: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

VW confirms Euro Passat will get CC and Alltrack spinoffs

Posted Oct 21st 2014 10:31AM

2015 Volkswagen Passat

Volkswagen certainly isn't afraid to make the most of a platform, especially in Europe. Just look at all of the versions of the Golf that you can buy across the pond. Now, with the Euro-market Passat just hitting the market over there, the folks in Wolfsburg are already getting their latest creation ready for future variants. According to Car and Driver, VW confirmed in its employee newsletter that the wagon is ready to go, and the CC, Alltrack and GTE plug-in hybrid are all in development.

At this point, the US and Euro-market Passats really only share a name and a badge. The latest Euro model rides on VW's MQB platform. Meanwhile, the North American version is supposed to get a thorough refresh for the 2016 model year.

Among the Euro Passat variants, we might get the CC here. Rumors indicate that VW is evaluating two possible designs for it. One of them is reportedly a fastback, four-door coupe à-la the Audi A7, and the other one is a mystery. The company is even considering building it in the US. There could be a bit of a wait for it, though, because according to Car and Driver, the current CC remains in production for about the next two years.

The Alltrack will likely remain in Europe as a pumped up, soft-road version of the wagon, and the Passat GTE plug-in hybrid would be interesting, but kind of unlikely considering the differences in Passat models, even with its frugal 1.4-liter turbocharged engine and electric motor offering a total system output of 215 hp and 295 pound-feet of torque.

2015 Green Car Of The Year finalists announced, run alt-fuel gamut

Posted Oct 21st 2014 10:00AM

VW e-golf 2015 Green Car of the Year Finalist

The 2015 edition of the Green Car of the Year award is following right in the footsteps of previous years with a variety of alt-fuel powertrains making the just-announced finalists list. You've got your plug-in vehicle (the BMW i3), your compressed natural gas (the Chevy Impala Bi-Fuel), your high-efficiency diesel (the Audi A3 TDI), your 40+ mile-per-gallon gas engine (the Honda Fit) and, finally, a car that can do a little bit of everything (the VW Golf).

The Golf is available – at least in some parts of the US – with three different powertrains: a 2.0-liter diesel, a gasoline engine and all-electric drive. The Impala can burn either natural gas or gasoline in its 3.6-liter engine. The A3 is an efficiency champ, able to get 73.5 mpg on some European tests. The i3 can be a pure electric vehicle or come with a short range extending engine. And the Fit brings 41 miles to the gallon in a practical, affordable package.

The GCOY award is announced every year at the Los Angeles Auto Show by Green Car Journal. The committee doesn't just take the fuel-saving technology into account, but also a vehicle's "availability to the mass market." Last year, the Honda Accord Hybrid/Plug-In Hybrid won top honors, following up on wins from the Ford Fusion models (plug-in hybrid and hybrid) for 2013, the Honda Civic Natural Gas for 2012 and the Chevrolet Volt for 2011.

News Source: Green Car Journal

Land Rover to send off Defender with SVR special

Posted Oct 21st 2014 9:30AM

Land Rover Defender Challenge by Bowler

Jaguar Land Rover has made plenty of drool-inducing, time-warping performance machines, but most of them – from the XJ220 to the F-Type – have come from the Jaguar side of the equation. That's where the British automaker's new Special Operations division came in with the new Range Rover Sport SVR, transforming one of Land Rover's off-roaders into a Nürburgring-conquering performance ute. But it won't be the last.

According to JLR Special Operations chief John Edwards in speaking with Autocar, the division is searching for its next project. And that could – and it seems likely will – come down to a special send-off for the long-serving Defender.

Land Rover's most hardcore, no-frills, rough-and-tumble model has been in production essentially unchanged since 1983, making it as old as some of the writers here at Autoblog (though sadly much younger than some others... -ED). It's slated to be retired next year in favor of an all-new model, but before it does, JLR apparently plans to send it off with a muscled-up performance model.

Don't take that to mean that the Defender will be stripped off its off-road capabilities in an effort to make it perform better on the track, though. According to Autocar, Land Rover is looking to the Dakar rally and the old Camel Trophy for inspiration, suggesting that we could be looking at a British take on the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor of sorts... or a production version of the Defender Challenge truck (pictured above) made together with noted LR tuner Bowler. All of which strikes us as rather enticing, though it may be a while before we get to see the finished product in the metal.

News Source: Autocar

Cutting edge car designs layering it on

Posted Oct 21st 2014 8:44AM

2015 BMW i8

Design themes in the automotive industry tend to ebb and flow in trends: jelly bean styling, retro design, flame surfacing... we could go on (and probably would if we were better schooled in the language of design), but you get the point. So what's the next big thing in automotive design? Layers.

No, not the "levels" Kramer ranted about when remodeling his apartment on Seinfeld, but layers. It's about adding a three-dimensionality to a vehicle's surface, exposing some of the elements underneath and making room for active aerodynamic components. It's something that BMW has championed with the i8 and which McLaren embodied as well with the P1. Its rival LaFerrari adopts the approach too, as have a handful of concepts like the Toyota FT-1, Aston Martin DP-100 and (maybe to a lesser extent) the Maserati Alfieri.

"With the McLaren P1, we used a 'shrink wrapped' approach," Frank Stephenson wrote in correspondence with The New York Times. "Like an exoskeleton, we were able to expose distinctive features and uncover what doesn't have to be hidden."

Considering the lust-worthy dream machines where the trend has kicked off, we should only expect layered design to further permeate the industry, trickling down to vehicles more people can actually afford... and not just six- and seven-figure hybrid hypercars.
Related Gallery2015 BMW i8: First Drive
2015 BMW i8: First Drive2015 BMW i8: First Drive2015 BMW i8: First Drive2015 BMW i8: First Drive2015 BMW i8: First Drive2015 BMW i8: First Drive2015 BMW i8: First Drive2015 BMW i8: First Drive
Loading

Loading
Autoblog iPhone App
Shop for a vehicle