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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Car News

Ferrari Opens Investigation On 458 Italia Fires

On: Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 2:37PM | By: Chris Weiss

Ferrari Opens Investigation On 458 Italia Fires  test 1-1

Much to the delight of fans of pictures of flaming, sizzling supercars (and the blogs that post them), Ferrari 458 Italia models have been burning up like dry brush in the middle of July since the car went on sale earlier this year. In fact, in the few short months that it's been on the road, at least 10 fires and accidents involving the 458 have been reported from California to London to China. Responding to these incidents, Ferrari has opened an official investigation.

Pictures of burning 458s have been popping up regularly on sites like Wrecked Exotics since June. Several of the models involved have been burned into a pile of rims and charred metal, resembling nothing of their former beauty. Incidents have been reported across the U.S. and Europe, with specific locations including London, Paris, China, Switzerland and California. According to Wrecked Exotics, there were 9 incidents of crashes and fires in 458 models over a time period of just 90 days--making for one per 10 days. Overall, the BBC reports that there have been 10 crashes or fires in just three months.

Ferrari released a statement earlier this week indicating that it is opening up an investigation to see if the fires are caused by driver error or a manufacturing defect. Given the sheer number of problems in such a rare car, it'd be surprising if it wasn't the latter.

Toyota To Offer Optional Noise Maker On Prius

On: Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 2:31PM | By: Chris Weiss

Toyota To Offer Optional Noise Maker On Prius  test 1-1

There has long been a public push for some sort of noise-making system on hybrids that will warn outsiders of the cars' presence, and an NHTSA study last fall that found that hybrids run into more pedestrians and cyclists than gas vehicles only intensified that push. The National Federation of the Blind has been a strong voice in the push for noise-making technology, and has worked with GM toward pedestrian warning systems for the upcoming Chevy Volt. The two major auto industry groups: the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturer have also called for legislation that would require manufacturers to outfit hybrids and electric vehicles with some for of audible warning system.

Well, Toyota has answered the bell and announced that it will be offering a noisemaker for Prius models beginning at the end of this month. The system will initially be available only in Japan, and arises out of work with the country's Committee for the Consideration of Countermeasures Regarding Quiet Hybrid and Other Vehicles.

Toyota described the new system in a release: "“The onboard device automatically emits a synthesized sound of an electric motor when the Prius is operating as an electric vehicle at speeds up to approximately 25 km/h. The sound — aimed to alert but not annoy — rises and falls in pitch relative to the vehicle’s speed, thus helping indicate the vehicle’s proximity and movement.”

Ford and Mazda Will Build Pickups in Thailand

On: Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 1:47PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ford and Mazda Will Build Pickups in Thailand test 1-1

Ford Motor Co., in partnership with Mazda Motor Corp., is planning a new endeavor to build subcompact pickup trucks in Thailand. Ford and Mazda plan to invest up to $350 million at the AutoAlliance Thailand plant in order to purchase tooling supplies, upgrade the plant, and train employees; production is gearing up to start in 2011.

Including the investment in the latest project, Mazda and Ford have invested more than $1.85 billion in the Thailand truck plant since its inception in 1995. In the past, Ford Motor Co. maintained controlling interest in Mazda, but recently reduced its stake in the Japanese automaker to only 13%.

The AutoAlliance plant was started in 2009 in order to manufacture the Mazda2 and Ford Fiestas slotted for Thailand and Southeast Asian markets. The factory currently produces Ford Ranger and Mazda B Series pickups to over 130 global markets. The new Ranger is projected to be exported from Thailand to Asian and Pacific markets, and other markets throughout the world.

According to Ford’s Asia Pacific operations head, Jim Hinrichs, “The new production line… will raise the bar in flexibility, efficiency, quality and environmentally-friendly production at AAT.”


Hyundai's Hardcore Racer

On: Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 9:21AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Hyundai's Hardcore Racer test 1-1

As the member of a family that owned a 1987 Sonata, I can tell you that back then, Hyundai was not in the business of making a car it was easy to get excited about. That 1987 four-cylinder, four-speed auto transmission did about what you would expect it to do in a four-door family sedan. It wasn’t a race car, but, to its credit, it never tried to be despite my best 16-year-old efforts to imagine it as such.  

What that Sonata did do, however, was last a decade with very few complaints. Sure, the alternator went once or twice and the water pump gave up the ghost around year eight, but other than those natural auto ailments, there were no real surprises or recalls that made us give up our car before we were ready and willing to.  

Fast forward 23 years later. Today, Hyundai has taken most of those same principles that our 1987 Sonata conveyed to us, and gone from a relative punch line in the automotive community to the fifth largest auto manufacturer in the world. With a very simple strategy that could have once been called the ‘Toyota Model to Success’, Hyundai has worked tirelessly at building a brand name synonymous with economical quality for the masses. 

In 2010 Hyundai introduced the sports coupe for those masses in the Genesis Coupe. In 2011 Hyundai is bringing to the table a hardcore version of that sports car for all to enjoy—the Genesis Coupe R-Spec.  


Peugeot to Debut First Diesel-Electric Hybrid In Paris

On: Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 9:02AM | By: Chris Weiss

Peugeot to Debut First Diesel-Electric Hybrid In Paris  test 1-1

Given the growing push by government regulators and automotive manufacturers toward cleaner, greener vehicles it's surprising that we had to wait this long to see a diesel-electric hybrid. Peugeot plans to debut the 3008 Hybrid4 at the 2010 Paris Motor Show. The crossover hatchback features a diesel-electric powertrain that offers up to 62 mpg. The new car will launch in Europe next spring after its debut in October.

The 3008 Hybrid4 is based on Peugeot's 3008 hatchback. It is fitted with a 163-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel engine and a rear-mounted 37-hp electric motor. That combination provides a total output of 200 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. Shifting for the diesel engine is provided by an electronically-controlled automated manual transmission. The electric motor is powered by a high-voltage nickel metal hydride battery pack. An 8 kW starter-generator on the engine provides start/stop capabilities and can deliver charging to the battery pack. The electric motor can charge the battery through regenerative braking.

Worst. Traffic. Ever. China Experiences 10-DAY Delays

On: Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 8:56AM | By: Chris Weiss

Worst. Traffic. Ever. China Experiences 10-DAY Delays test 1-1

Most Americans get a little hot under the collar when road construction, accidents or other factors beyond our control create traffic delays measured in hours--or even minutes. Imagine the calamity that would ensue if traffic delays began hitting the days and weeks marks. That's beyond inconvenient, it's downright scary; and it's all happening now across the world in China.

China's traffic disaster, which has taken the country's Beijing-Zhangjiakou highway hostage, is now on its 11th day. Some drivers have been immersed in the bumper-to-bumper mayhem for five days. Yeah, it looks like they'll be a little late for that Monday morning meeting.

The traffic jam began on August 14. The Beijing-Zhangjiakou is an already packed highway and road construction in Beijing caused traffic to slow to a mind-bogglingly sluggish crawl of a half mile per day. Lines of vehicles snaked back some 60 miles.

UPDATE: The massive Chinese Traffic jam has all but subsided. NBC showed up just in time to report on a traffic jam that no longer exists. All the details at MSNBC World Blog.

Nissan Plans

On: Wed, Aug 25, 2010 at 3:35PM | By: Chris Weiss

Nissan Plans test 1-1

When you first hear that Nissan is planning a convertible version of the Murano crossover, it's nearly impossible to have any reaction that doesn't include a version of "WTF?!!" Perfectly natural. According to a new Automotive News report, that's exactly what the company is going for. Nissan realizes that the Murano convertible will have a polarizing effect, but hopes that the model will draw attention to the brand and develop some buzz. It's hard to see how that plan will fail.

Prices of Pre-Owned SUVs Up 30%

On: Wed, Aug 25, 2010 at 11:42AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Prices of Pre-Owned SUVs Up 30% test 1-1

In such an unstable automotive market as the U.S. has experienced in the past year, it’s difficult to predict exactly when the best time is to buy or sell a used car, but if it’s an SUV, Minivan, or Crossover that’s involved, now may be the best time to sell—not buy.

According to Edmunds.com, prices of pre-owned SUVs and Crossovers have gone up by as much as 30% since last year.  Cadillac Escalades, for example, being sold in 2010 are getting 36% more for the average sale price than buyers paid in 2009.

In a market that values vehicles that provide great fuel economy, one may think that prices for gas guzzling SUVs would be going down instead of up. On average, wholesale prices for used vehicle have decreased slightly in July as compared to record high prices in the spring.

Edmunds.com reports that the average retail price for a pre-owned Cadillac Escalade, (calculating an average price paid for all model years) was $34,715 in July, surprisingly, up 36% from the average price paid last July. Edmunds.com reports that the average retail price paid for a used Dodge Grand Caravan in July, averaged over all model years, was $15,629, up 34%.

Ford Boosts 2011 Mustang With Supercharger Kit

On: Wed, Aug 25, 2010 at 11:00AM | By: Chris Weiss

Ford Boosts 2011 Mustang With Supercharger Kit  test 1-1

The 2011 Ford Mustang has already made big headlines for bringing back the 5.0 and delivering 300 (hp) and 30 (mpg). Now, Ford Racing is offering a little something for those that prefer 500 or 600 over 300. The company's new supercharger kitsfor 5.0-liter Mustang GT models boosts output up to 624 hp (up from 412 hp of the stock 5.0-liter V8).

Ford Racing announced the new kits at the Woodward Dream Cruise this past weekend. The kits are the first power upgrades offered for the new Mustang.

The two top kits feature a 2.3-liter twin-screw supercharger, intake manifold, air-to-liquid intercooler system, drive belt, 47 lb/hr high-impedance fuel injectors and an ECU tune from Ford Racing. The 525 hp kit gets an ECU tune for 7 psi of supercharger boost and the 624 hp kit gets a 9 psi boost. The base Tuner Kit, which is aimed at tuners and "extreme enthusiasts," does not include the ECU tuning from Ford Racing, but includes all the other pieces of the puzzle. Since the base kit is designed for tinkerers, no final output numbers are given.

The 525 hp kit boosts torque up to 470 lb-ft at 4,200 rpm and the 624 hp kit offers up to 536 lb-ft at 4,700 rpm.

The extra power from Ford Racing won't come cheap. The base kit costs $6,499. Each of the other two kits comes in choice of black or chrome, which relates to the color of the intake manifold. The 525 hp kit costs $7,199 for the black version and $7,799 for the chrome, while the 624 hp kit is $7,499 in black and $8,099 in chrome. The 525-hp kit includes a 12 month/12,000 mile warranty when installed by a Ford/Lincoln dealer, while the 624 hp kit comes with no such niceties. All the kits are available as you read.

Ford Invests $60 Million in University Research Projects

On: Tue, Aug 24, 2010 at 2:10PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ford Invests $60 Million in University Research Projects test 1-1

Since the University Research Programs (URP) began in 1989, Ford has invested more than $60 million in university research projects, offering nearly 500 grants to 100 schools globally.

Some of the world’s most prestigious university professors and students are pairing up with Ford scientists in 2010 to explore a wide range of new technologies planned to benefit future Ford vehicle development.
This year, Ford awarded 13 University Research Program grants to 12 different universities around the world, including Wayne State University in Detroit; Stanford University in Palo Alto, California; RWTH Aachen University in Aachen, Germany; and Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.
According to Ford Motor Co., Ford’s new collaborative program is a relatively new approach aimed at “testing the properties of thermoplastics modified with nano materials and developing an in-vehicle safety alert system for diabetic drivers, to studying the environmental and economic impact of batteries for electric vehicles.”  In total, Ford is planning 30 study projects utilizing 26 world-wide universities.

Ford May Lose Some Investors to GM IPO

On: Tue, Aug 24, 2010 at 9:52AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Allan Mullaly test 2

According to the Bloomberg News, Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman, Bill Ford recently commented that some of the company’s investors may liquidate their holdings in order to buy shares in General Motors Co’s IPO with the strategy in mind of distributing the risk throughout the automotive industry.

“Some money will be rebalanced into GM, but look: our company and GM ultimately are going to succeed or not based upon performance,” according to Ford's statement to reporters at an event in Detroit. “It doesn’t make any difference to me where our shares are or their shares are on any given day.”

As GM prepares for its initial public offering after bankruptcy, many analysts are predicting an offering of up to $16 billion.

The U.S. Treasury currently owns as much as 61% of GM. The share sale will allow the company to decrease the government’s ownership share while making a comeback to public market. Ford Motor Co. was the only Detroit automaker of the big three that didn’t take a government bailout or file bankruptcy by borrowing $23 billion. Alan Mulally, Ford CEO stated that the company is at a disadvantage in the marketplace due to having such a huge financial loan obligation.