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Starbucks to trawl for college students with food trucks

Posted Aug 28th 2014 2:14PM

Starbucks Coffee Truck

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

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

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

News Source: BusinessWeek, Starbucks

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

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

Posted Aug 28th 2014 1:27PM

Mazda MX-5 Test Car

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

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

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

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

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

News Source: Automotive News - sub. req.

Image Credit: CarPix

These Scots fought the law, but the law didn't win

Posted Aug 28th 2014 12:45PM

Scotland Yard in an unmarked speed trap

"I fought the law and the law won." So goes the song originated by the Bobby Fuller Four and popularized by the Clash. And with good reason, because typically when an average citizen challenges the authority of law enforcement, they end up at the wrong end of its long arm. That's what makes this situation so unusual.

A couple of ordinary citizens in Glasgow, Scotland, happened upon an unmarked police vehicle stationed at the side of the road with a radar gun fixed on passing traffic. The thing is, apparently local laws state that police officers setting up a speed trap need to be doing so in clearly marked vehicles – and those yellow emergency vests probably don't qualify.

Watch the video clip to see what happens when the citizens confront the police on foot, then read more about it in the Daily Mail.

News Source: Daily Mail, Jennifer via YouTube, Visordown

2014 Volkswagen e-Up!

Our Favorite European Supermini Gets Juiced

Posted Aug 28th 2014 11:57AM

2014 Volkswagen e-Up!

Volkswagen sets targets that are entertainingly confident, its stated goal for electric mobility being "market leadership by 2018." The tiny e-Up! is the first round out of the electric cannon, one of 14 EV and hybrid models the company will put on the menu this year as it spreads the electric gospel throughout its range.

Driving Notes
  • A 506-pound lithium-ion battery housed under the floor between the axles has an 18.7 kilowatt-hour capacity, juicing an electric motor that provides 54 continuous horsepower and 82 peak hp alongside 155 foot-pounds of torque. That gets the 2,506-pound hatch from 0 to 62 miles per hour in 12.4 seconds, beating the quickest conventional Up! by nearly a second. Its top speed is 81 mph, and when you're not on acceleration runs, it has a range of up to 150 kilometers (93 miles).
  • You can tell it apart from the standard Up! by the curved LED daytime running lamps in the lower front fascia, the model-specific 15-inch alloys, blue highlights on the emblems and the e-Up! logo on the hatch. Inside are light gray seat covers with blue stitching, and it's been stuffed with a bunch of options including a navigation system with e-specific software that includes features like range calculation.
  • Two buttons in the cockpit are also giveaways: one marked "Eco" and "Eco+," the other with a picture of a plug. The plug button is used to tell the car to charge immediately. VW knows that some customers will prefer charging their car at night because that's when some energy suppliers in Europe offer heavy discounts for using electricity. Since charging can also be set using a smartphone, most people will just plug in the car and control things later from their touch screen.
  • The Eco button is one of two different systems that provide eight options in frugality and extended range. The first is the three driving modes, Standard, Eco and Eco+. Eco mode caps maximum power at 67 hp and pull-away torque at 123 lb-ft, retards accelerator response, curbs air conditioning output and reduces top speed to 115 km/h (71 mph). Eco+ reduces max power to 54 hp and pull-away torque to 98 lb-ft, cuts back further on throttle response and shuts down the AC entirely. The top speed in Eco+ is 90 km/h (56 mph).
  • The second system is regenerative braking with optional D1, D2 and D3 modes chosen by tapping the gear lever to the left or right, on top of regular Drive, in which regeneration happens only through rolling resistance. There's also B mode, accessed by pulling the gear lever back. Its regenerative action is strong enough to be used instead of the brake pedal under most circumstances. Each of the optional regen modes will activate the brake lights when in use.
  • There's a dual-mode charge port called Combined Charging System (CCS) behind the filler flap that supports AC and DC charging. Plugged into a standard 2.3-kW European wall socket, a flat battery pack will be topped up in nine hours. Get VW's 3.6-kW charging box and that wait drops to six hours. Hook up to a public charging station with a DC supply of up to 40 kW, and a flat battery will be 80-percent juiced up in 30 minutes. Owners can keep tabs on the state of charge with the VW's Car-Net e-Remote app, which costs 101 euros – $133 USD – for 12 months.
  • We scooted around VW's Wolfsburg home turf in one and found it a terrific little city car, a zippy arrow that adds yet more weight to the case for electric city cars. The Up! is already the best-selling supermini in Europe, and if you're not a long-haul commuter, the e-Up! and its more powerful, quicker and silent powertrain improves it.
  • About the price, though. VW CEO Martin Winterkorn said, "To be a resounding success such an electric car must be affordable to a broad customer base as well as uncompromisingly practical in everyday driving." The e-Up! is practical, but its "broad customer base" will be those ready to lavish 26,900 euros on it – that's $35,500, more or less. Before options. Which could make for a rather narrow customer base. Like-for-like, it's around 12,000 euros (nearly $16,000) more than a conventional Up! – that's about $1,200 more than a Mercedes-Benz A-Class. Said another way, if you filled the tank of your gasoline Up! every week in Germany, it would take five years to claw back the difference.
We totally dig the e-Up! and we understand why it exists, but we look forward to the day when such offerings make better financial sense, too.

Vital Stats

374-Volt, 18.7-kWh Battery
82 HP / 155 LB-FT
Single-Speed Auto
Base Price:
26,900 euros

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Jonathon Ramsey / AOL

Chevy's hardcore Niva concept ready for Moscow adventure

Posted Aug 28th 2014 11:30AM

Chevy Niva Concept

A couple of weeks ago, Chevrolet released a pair of shadowy teaser images previewing a new Niva. And now, with its live reveal at the Moscow Motor Show looming over the next snow-capped mountain, the Bowtie brand has taken the wraps off the new concept.

Though details are scarce at the moment – the press release below (presented in the original Russian and in translated form) deals more with the European debut of the new Tahoe, but it's clear from the 35 images that the new Niva concept is meant more for driving off the road than on it. It's compact but packs all manner of off-road equipment like knobby BF Goodrich tires, a winch, snorkel, underbody cladding, tow hooks, integrated lamp guards, auxiliary lighting and a big roof rack. Underneath and behind all that equipment, however, we're looking at a fairly handsome shape with a familiar Chevy front end and a rear section that seems to borrow heavily from Mercedes-Benz.

Though the Niva (not to be confused with the Chevy Nova) is historically known as a Lada product, General Motors has been building its own version through a joint venture with the Russian parent company since 1998. This concept ostensibly previews its replacement.
Related GalleryChevrolet Niva Concept
Chevrolet Niva ConceptChevrolet Niva ConceptChevrolet Niva ConceptChevrolet Niva ConceptChevrolet Niva ConceptChevrolet Niva ConceptChevrolet Niva ConceptChevrolet Niva Concept

News Source: Chevrolet

2015 Ford Mustang production starts in Flat Rock

Posted Aug 28th 2014 10:58AM

2015 Ford Mustang Production

Today's the day, Ford fans. Production has officially commenced on the sixth-generation 2015 Mustang at the company's Flat Rock, MI factory. As production ramps up, sales should kick off in the coming months.

The production news isn't just a big deal for American fans. With the new Mustang getting a bespoke right-hand-drive variant, the pony car's worldwide availability has swollen to include 120 different countries, including its home nation.

"Mustang is and will continue to be an automotive icon," Joe Hinrichs, Ford's president of the Americas, said in a statement. "Expanding its availability globally affords our customers around the world the opportunity to have a true firsthand Mustang experience – one unlike any other."

Ford's Flat Rock facility has built the Mustang since the fifth-generation car debuted in 2005. For the 2015 model, the facility was subject to a massive $555-million investment that saw it add a new flexible body shop among other enhancements. Alongside the Mustang, Ford also builds its Fusion sedan.

"What an honor it is for the hardworking and dedicated UAW Local 3000 workers of Flat Rock Assembly Plant to build the next-generation Mustang," Jimmy Settles, a UAW vice president, said. "I don't think there is any place in the world where this vehicle is not known. To build it right here in Michigan is something to be proud of."

Take a look below for the full press release from Ford, and then check out the gallery of the new Mustang rolling down the production line.

News Source: Ford

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution's curtain call will come with more power

Posted Aug 28th 2014 10:17AM

2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X GSR

We love the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, but by this point, we've accepted the fact that the its days are numbered, despite the noticeable back and forth that accompanied rumors of the vehicle's future for so many months and years. And while the Evo's coming death in 2015 is pretty sad, a report from Automotive News claims that the road-going rally machine will at least be leaving with a fairly substantial bang.

According to AN, Mitsubishi will send off the Evo with a Special Action Model. Limited to between 2,000 to 2,500 units and destined exclusively for the United States, the Evo X SAM should boast, most notably, a bump in power for its 291-pony, 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder. There should be a few other performance tweaks to accompany the increased output, although it's unclear what those might be. AN claims the limited-edition model will drop during the last six months of Evo production, some time next year.

AN's report was confirmed to us by Mitsubishi spokesman Alex Fedorak, who said that, yes, there will be "a US special edition in 2015." We've asked for additional information, but all we've heard back, so far, is that mum's the word. Here's hoping we won't be waiting too long to get official details.

Until then, what do you want to see for what could be the Lancer Evolution X's last hurrah? Give us your wish list in Comments.

Suzuki Vitara shows its face ahead of Paris debut

Posted Aug 28th 2014 9:30AM

Suzuki Vitara

The death of Suzuki's American automotive operations can be chalked up to many, many things. One thing it cannot be blamed on, however, is the arguable goodness of its products. The company's criminally underrated offerings included the Kizashi sedan, the SX4 compact and your author's personal favorite, the Grand Vitara.

The GV rode on a radically different version of General Motors' Theta platform, which underpins the American manufacturer's current crop of crossovers, like the Chevrolet Equinox. What made the Grand Vitara special, though, was that it wasn't just another run-of-the-mill CUV. Buying the cheapest model meant living with rear-wheel drive rather than the Theta's typical front drive. Spend a bit of money, though, and you'd end up with an honest-to-goodness off-roader, sporting selectable four-wheel drive complete with low-range gearbox. It also comfortably sat five, was reasonably efficient and was quite handsome. We aren't totally sure how it turned into this.

This, of course, being the new Vitara (it replaces the Escudo, the vehicle Americans know as the Grand Vitara), which will make its global debut at October's Paris Motor Show. The new crossover has ditched its four-wheel-drive system for a part-time all-wheel-drive system called Allgrip.

Suzuki is planning on launching the new CUV in the UK in the spring of 2015, although specific details beyond that are scarce. Of course, we expect to know more in just over a month, when the new Vitara debuts in Paris.

News Source: Suzuki

Renaultsport RS 01 hits the track with GT-R power

Posted Aug 28th 2014 8:44AM

Renaultsport RS 01

After just a bit of teasing, Renault has finally unveiled its newest racer, the Renaultsport RS 01. Destined for one-make competition in the World Series by Renault, the RS 01 features a carbon-fiber monocoque body from Dallara that allows it to slip in at just 2,425 pounds.

The sleek, aggressive racer boasts a mid-mounted, 3.8-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 that's been swiped from the Renault's corporate ally, Nissan. The GT-R-sourced engine has also been tweaked by Nismo, and is now singing to the tune of 500 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. Mated up to that engine is a seven-speed sequential transmission from Sadev, which dispatches power via steering wheel-mounted paddles to the rear wheels. According to Renault, this combination places the RS 01 somewhere between a GT3-spec racer and a DTM car on the performance scale.

The pushrod suspension uses Öhlins adjustable dampers and it rides on unique, 18-inch Michelin rubber, while PFC Brakes delivered six-piston calipers and 15-inch rotors. Naturally, there are a range of aerodynamic aids to improve handling, although Renault hasn't specified just how much downforce is created.

What do you think of Renault's latest creation? How do you feel about it being limited to a one-make series? Should the French company build a road-going version? Take a look below at the press release, and then have your say in Comments.
Related GalleryRenaultsport RS 01
Renaultsport RS 01Renaultsport RS 01Renaultsport RS 01Renaultsport RS 01Renaultsport RS 01Renaultsport RS 01Renaultsport RS 01Renaultsport RS 01

News Source: Renault

Uber 'brand ambassadors' using burner phones, credit cards to sabotage Lyft

Posted Aug 28th 2014 7:59AM

Ridesharing Salt Lake City

The ongoing war of dominance in the mobile ridesharing industry between rival services Uber and Lyft (identified by its cars' pink mustaches) is showing no signs of stopping. One recent report based on Lyft data accused Uber's contractors of booking and canceling 5,560 rides since October 2013. New information is showing just how far Uber is willing to go to add to its roster of drivers, as well.

During Lyft's introduction to New York City, Uber set up a systematic approach to sway as many of its rival's drivers as possible to switch sides. According to The Verge, the company hired a street team of so-called brand ambassadors and gave them cell phones and credit card numbers to use. Their job was to hire Lyft drivers for a ride and try to talk them into changing teams. These recruiters would also take down driver information and cross-reference it so that their compatriots didn't waste energy by going after the same person multiple times. One anonymous ambassador speaking with The Verge, said that they received $750 each time they swayed someone to swap employers.

Now, Uber has decided to take a similar strategy nationwide with Operation SLOG, for Supplying Long-term Operations Growth. It recently announced the plan on its blog and immediately copped to the controversy that the company has experienced saying: "There's been a lot of discussion – and a lot of misinformation – about Uber's driver recruitment and the ridesharing industry's at large."

Uber claims that its drivers are small business owners, and it believes that the best way to add to its roster is direct marketing. "We can't successfully recruit drivers without talking to them," the business says on the blog. It also flatly denies ever intentionally canceling rides, despite earlier claims to the contrary. At the end of the post, Uber offers people the chance to sign up and join the team.

News Source: The Verge, Uber

Image Credit: Jeff Chiu / AP Photo

Kaz: Pushing The Virtual Divide Gran Turismo documentary now free on YouTube

Posted Aug 27th 2014 7:59PM

Kaz: Pushing The Virtual Divide

The video game Gran Turismo arguably wasn't the first great driving simulator, but it came along at just the right time to do things no other console game had ever done so well before. First, the Sony PlayStation allowed for 3D graphics that could create a recognizable model of a car in 360 degrees. Also, GT offered a huge breadth of vehicles that could get almost anyone interested. Up to that point in time, most driving games focused on just Formula 1, rallying, production cars, or other specific subsets of the autosphere, but GT had everything, which made it possible to find your dream car and go racing. The full-length documentary movie Kaz: Pushing the Virtual Divide delves into the mind of series leader Kazunori Yamauchi, and now it's available for anyone to watch for free.

Kaz originally launched in the US on Hulu in January, but not everyone has access to that streaming service. The documentary looks at the history of Gran Turismo starting from its early development and interviews Yamauchi about his theory behind making it. It also examines some of the racing that the series of games is emulating and influencing, including little kids getting into karting and the Nissan GT Academy. It's all done with beautiful cinematography and direction from Tamir Moscovici, who also helmed a 30-minute documentary about Magnus Walker. Note: Large portions of the movie have Yamauchi speaking in his native Japanese, so you're going to want to turn on subtitles to watch this intriguing film.

News Source: Gran Turismo TV via YouTube

What you missed on 8.27.14

Posted Aug 27th 2014 7:32PM

Daily U-Turn

Kia Forte Koup2014 Kia Forte Koup reviewed

It's not a sports car, but the Kia Forte Koup offers 200 turbocharged horsepower, a six-speed manual transmission, and retuned suspension geometry to make it a more engaging offering than its sedan counterpart. But does all that add up to a car that's actually engaging for enthusiasts? Brandon Turkus puts one to the test in our latest review.

Ford F-150Tailgate up vs. down: which is more efficient?

We don't normally think of pickup trucks as being the most aerodynamic vehicles on the road, but drag does play a key role in how the vehicles are designed. Some folks think it's actually more efficient to drive with the tailgate down, but is that actually the case? Greg Migliore finds out with the help of the 2015 Ford F-150.

Volvo XC902015 Volvo XC90 deep dive

Yesterday, we brought you the full specs of the 2015 Volvo XC90. But our man Noah Joseph was on hand at the crossover's live reveal in Sweden, and reports that there's way more to this XC90 than you might think. This isn't just a new crossover, this is a new direction for the brand, and there's a whole lot to learn in our Deep Dive, here.

Top Stories

NHTSA opens investigation into Ford Explorer PI brakes

Posted Aug 27th 2014 6:59PM

Ford Explorer Police Interceptor

This year more than most, it's pleasant when we can string together a few days without word of an automaker or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announcing a bunch of new recalls. It's seemingly been a little quiet on this front lately (barring a spider-related Suzuki issue revealed early today), but now we have word of the government safety agency opening a Preliminary Evaluation into the 2013 Ford Explorer Police Interceptor, a probe that could potentially affect an estimated 20,000 vehicles.

The issue being investigated concerns failures of the front brake hose on the vehicle that show "small splits in the hoses near the body side ferrule of the hose assembly," according to the agency, and the issue could result in longer stopping distances. The feds have reports of 13 malfunctions affecting 11 Explorer units. However, it's important to note that all of the incidents come from a single, unnamed metropolitan police fleet that operates 46 of them. According to The Detroit News, the failures generally took place between December and July.

NHTSA is investigating further to find if this is a more widespread issue than just this one fleet. Ford spokesperson Kelli Felker confirmed to us, "We are cooperating with NHTSA on this investigation, as we always do." Scroll down to read the agency's report.

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

Image Credit: Ford

Buick Envision spied fully disrobed in China

Posted Aug 27th 2014 6:28PM

Buick Envision

The Buick Envision crossover is supposed to have its big reveal on August 28 and be on display at the Chengdu Motor Show, but apparently the new midsize crossover just can't wait to meet its public. Car News China caught a completely undisguised example parking outside of the convention center where the show is held.

The Buick designers are going right down the middle with the styling with nothing too flashy to turn off potential buyers. Still, it's a handsome CUV that kind of looks like a stretched Encore from some angles with vents along the hood, a large greenhouse and a prominent crease running down the side.

This new midsizer is hitting the Chinese market first and reportedly rides on GM's Delta platform that's also found underneath the Buick Verano. According to Car News China, prices there are between 160,000 yuan and 220,000 yuan ($26,000 - $35,800 at current rates). However, it's also rumored to eventually make its way across the Pacific to give Buick buyers in the US an option between the Encore compact crossover and larger Enclave.

Buick has already let a lot of the details slip about its newest Chinese model, including its interior with premium features like a heated, leather steering wheel and Bose noise cancelation. Power comes from two tunes of a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with either 256 horsepower and 260 pound-feet or 200 hp and 207 lb-ft. Both get a six-speed automatic. We should know more about the brand's latest crossover when it fully debuts in Chengdu.

News Source: Car News China

Image Credit: Car News China


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