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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Reports

Toyota Forced To Recall Lexus HS Hybrid For Fuel System Issues

On: Mon, Jun 28, 2010 at 1:59PM | By: John Welch

Toyota Forced To Recall Lexus HS Hybrid For Fuel System Issues test 1-1

It is a pointless car, the HS. A more expensive, tarted-up Prius that is slower than a Prius, and just as miniscule? Not an easy sell I would think. At least the interior is fancy. My opinions aside, the HS really hasn't been all that difficult to sell, and Lexus has done a good job of it in the few months it has been on the market. Whether you appreciate this tiny luxury yacht for what it is—a smaller ES that is as well furnished as a car this size could possibly be—or not, you can't ignore one design detail that matters to everyone, the integrity of the fuel lines. The HS has an issue that involves fuel lines leaking after hard collisions. This fuel could make its way to hot exhaust or engine parts, causing a fire. Not good.

The HS may be a fine auto, may serve its purpose well for its owners, but it just can't have leaking fuel lines. The entire NHTSA post inside . . . this . . . post . . ..

Tickets Still Available For 100th DP Race, NASCAR Thrown In As A Bonus

On: Mon, Jun 28, 2010 at 10:14AM | By: John Welch

Tickets Still Available For 100th DP Race, NASCAR Thrown In As A Bonus test 1-1

Well, okay, technically it's probably the other way around. The Brumos Porsche 250 will be held at noon on Saturday, July 3rd. After the Rolex Series sprint race, the Daytona International Speedway crews will set about blocking off the road course and readiying the track for the Coke Zero 400. Formerly the Pepsi 400 . . . formerly the FireCracker 400. Sigh. I can't help it, I miss cigarette sponsorships and races named after a certain region or holiday. How are Jack Daniels and Coke Zero any better than Winston and The Southern 500? They aren't, but I digress . . .

So, anyway, you buy a NASCAR ticket and you get a historic Grand Am race as well. Genius marketing on the one hand, but really unavoidable on the other. Think about the logistics of clearing the entire Daytona facility out in between races, cleaning everything, setting up the track and then opeing the ticket counters again . . . instead of a green flag at seven p.m. we wouldn't see stock cars until midnight!

For anyone wanting to experience live racing but who have no idea what sort of racing they would like to see, this is the best of both worlds. In the morning you are treated to a hard-fought, prototype-filled road race, and in the balmy July evening you get brash, brutally exciting stock cars crammed into every input receptor on your face. The AutoShopper will be there, and you still have time to join us:

Brumos Porsche 250 (and some NASCAR something or other,) Tickets

Look inside the post for videos and other Grand Am goodies . . .

Stock 2011 V6 Mustang Travels Over 533 Miles On One Tank!

On: Thu, Jun 24, 2010 at 3:16PM | By: John Welch

Stock 2011 V6 Mustang Travels Over 533 Miles On One Tank! test 1-1

Plenty of companies have come up with plenty of hairbrained hypermiler cars in the past. Oddities mostly. Not all that useful or relevant. High strung diesel engines bolted into single-seat, bob-sled sized cars don't really appeal to the average US consumer. A base-engined Ford Mustang, on the other hand, that is a little more palatable. Being proud of their new six-pot steed, Ford engineers decided to see just how many laps of Bristol Motor Speedway their baby could finish on one tank of gas. The goal was 1,000 rotations around the Bristol, TN,. bull ring, and they met that mark with flying colors.

“This is beyond our wildest dreams,” said Tom Barnes, the lead engineer for the Ford Mustang 1,000 Lap Challenge. “There have been a lot of people who have done a lot of things in preparing this 2011 Mustang V-6 to run the Mustang 1,000 Lap Challenge and have the success we have had today. It was great when we went past the 1,000 lap mark with David, but nobody could ever imagine that we still had five hours ahead of us. This is a fantastic feeling and it shows again what a great car the 2011 Mustang V-6 is.”

New California Bill May Allow For Electronic Ads on License Plates

On: Tue, Jun 22, 2010 at 10:00AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

New California Bill May Allow For Electronic Ads on License Plates test 1-1

In the past, electronic flashing billboards on major roadways were illegal in many states, for obvious safety reasons, as the glitz of bright colored lights can be extremely distracting and potentially hazardous to motorists, particularly at night.

But times are changing, as California legislators are preparing to consider allowing electronic advertisements on license plates, as if drivers are not already distracted enough with all of the electronic toys inside their automobiles these days! The decision would be aimed at taking a bite out of the $19 billion deficit the State of California  now faces. Yes, advertisers would pay the state to relay their light-up subliminal messages on a newly-discovered, untapped canvas.

The electronic advertising device would allow for the license plate to appear as a standard plate when the vehicle was traveling down the road, but when stopped for a period of more than 4 seconds, such as in heavy grid-locked traffic jams and traffic lights, the digital message for the advertisement would appear. The automobile’s license plate number would remain visible in some part of the plate at all times, even when the ad was being displayed. Emergency traffic information, special alerts, and road conditions could also be displayed on the license plates.

There is no data yet on how much the state would charge or an estimate on the amount of revenue that the state would expect to bring in, but it has been reported that would-be advertisers would contract directly with the DMV in California to request their ad space.


The Great Mini-Van Wars Of Aught Ten

On: Mon, Jun 21, 2010 at 4:58PM | By: John Welch

The Great Mini-Van Wars Of Aught Ten test 1-1

Over the decades there has been many a bloody struggle for supremacy over one segment of the car industry or another. In the late sixties, as we have all been told, Ford and Chevy were at each other’s throats over these "muscle car" thingees. Then we had the war to make the worst car possible. That one lasted through three decades, from '72 until '98 or so. The arms race for the dual-clutch 8-speed transmission is a current hot bed of automaker blood thirst. Bigger wheels, more rows of seating, fancier badges, higher fuel economy, the most towing power, the least drag coefficient. Many things can set a war off, and once the fuse is lit, almost nothing can stop it. Sheesh, the last Mini-Van War went for years; beginning in 1984 with the release of the first Chrysler Mini-Vans. This conflict involved almost every major automaker, and ended only when the SUV swooped in and extinguished all use anyone had for Mini-Vans in general.

Here we are again, on the battlefield of the most recent Auto-Conflict, the war to produce the sweetest Mini-Van. The players are fewer this time around; not because Mini-Vans aren't made by more companies, but because those vans are all garbage afterthoughts thrown together for the sole purpose of filling a hole in a line-up. The newest Chryslers have interesting seating, but otherwise are total crap. Does Ford make the Windstar anymore? How about GM and the awful Venture/Transpost? The Ford Flex and Chevy Traverse/GMC Acadia/ Buick Enclave have taken the place of those less-than-celebrated bread boxes. The Hyundai Entourage and Kia Sedona are outdated. The VW Routan? Give me a break.

There are more vehicles that could be considered Mini-Vans but really aren't. Box-mobiles like the Scion xB and Kia Soul come to mind. Along with the Kia Rondo and Mazda 5, these vehicles are just to small to be considered "vans", even if they fit the "mini" part nicely. The Ford TransitConnect is all work and no DVD screens, and the Mercedes R-Class is way out of this price league.

That leaves us with the major participants in this particular marketing/motor/innovative seating scuffle, Honda, Toyota and soon to be Nissan. We have covered the new Toyota Sienna in this blog before, finding it's styling to be fresh and its options plentiful. Read that report here. The Nissan Quest is several months away from its introduction, but from the looks of its teaser photos it may be stimulating in a "FordFlexGiantBox" sort of way. Drew hates the grill though, and I don't find the "yards of chrome" treatment to be all that appealing. We will reserve judgment until the vehicle is actually released.

. . . Bringing us to the perennial Mini Van favorite, the Honda Odyssey. In recent years the Honda has led the pack in horsepower, handling and overall people-moving ability. The problem has always been the existence of the SUV and the American ego. Fortunately for the Odyssey, Americans are also gullible, and sometimes we will use that gullibility to warp the sensibility of our ego's. No longer is it gay to be seen in a Mini-Van, mostly because it is pure evil to be seen in a full size SUV. Considering the space limitations of cross-over’s, and the fact that most of them are no more useful than a Mini-Van off road, SUV customers who can no longer stomach the fuel bill but still need space for ply-wood and kiddies are left with few options that don't sound like "Gini-Tan". Or "Winnie-Can". Or "Vinnie-Span".

Being the newest offering for the Mini-Van fracas, the Honda Odyssey has received several weird and wonderful design updates that we need to take a closer look at . . .

UAW New Hires Make 20% Less Than Average American

On: Mon, Jun 21, 2010 at 9:27AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

UAW New Hires Make 20% Less Than Average American test 1-1

In the latest news from Detroit, new union autoworkers are sadly receiving only about $14.00 per hour vs seasoned employees who are getting paid twice that. Statistics in 2006 showed that UAW’s wages were 74% above the average individual’s salary in the United States. Some workers reportedly took home wages in the six figures when their overtime pay was included. Today, that number has decreased to BELOW 20% of the average worker’s income.

In the past, the Federal Reserve kept a close eye on the UAW’s salary rates as a strong indicator of wages in the United States. Long gone are the days when other industries would adopt the UAW pay and benefits in order to compete for new employees they needed to hire—competitors such as "Toyota would match their pay.”

According to Steve Barnas, union bargaining chairman at GM's Enclave plant near Lansing, Michigan, "It's difficult to look across the line at someone getting paid more for doing the same job you're doing,"

Donde Esta La Fiesta?

On: Fri, Jun 18, 2010 at 2:30PM | By: John Welch

Donde Esta La Fiesta? test 1-1

"Summer Release" is rather arbitrary phrasing. Here in Florida, the word "Summer" could refer to July; it could also mean March or September. Ford unleashed a doozie of a marketing campaign on Americans last year, doing anything it could to get publicity for the upcoming "Summer 2010" release of the US-ified Fiesta. Ford tried everything from grinding a Fiesta into dust to straight up giving them to hoity-toity post-grad movers and shakers. It worked. We all know what the Fiesta is and plenty of us want one. Now where in the eff are they?

According to Ford, they are right on schedule. Ford began shipping the cars this week from an assembly plant in Mexico. On Ford's Fiesta Facebook page, some customers awaiting their pre-ordered car vented about it being at least two weeks late. One complained of Ford's lack of communication about the holdup. Ford insists both accusations are inaccurate.

“We've been very transparent with our customers who've made pre-orders,” said Angie Kozleski, a Ford spokeswoman. “We have a reservations call center and a reservations hotline. In the case of this vehicle, there's been a lot of communication with them.”

Ford has approximately 2,000 early orders for the car. Ford's Kozleski said those are orders from customers who put cold, hard cash down to buy the Fiesta.

Toyota Bringing 2,000 Jobs To Mississippi

On: Thu, Jun 17, 2010 at 3:08PM | By: John Welch

Toyota Bringing 2,000 Jobs To Mississippi test 1-1

An area hard-hit by natural disaster over the last several year, the state of Mississippi could use some good news. How does "job growth" sound?

Needing to boost its public image and save money, Toyota will resume construction on a dormant production facility it began building in 2007. The plant was nearly completed, but Toyota became distracted in 2008, and has not actively worked on the building since.

“We first needed to fully utilize our existing facilities as the economy slowed,” Yoshimi Inaba, president of Toyota Motor North America, said in a statement today. Inaba went on to say that the automaker would take on 2,000 employees, "soon."

Mid-Ohio, The 99th Daytona-Prototype Race

On: Thu, Jun 17, 2010 at 12:07PM | By: John Welch

Mid-Ohio, The 99th Daytona-Prototype Race test 1-1

This weekend marks the 99th race for the ubiquitous Daytona Prototype. A chassis and rule system raced only within the confines of NASCAR-owned Grand-Am (this is not completely true; see update below,), this chassis has little in common with the serious, high-dollar prototypes being raced in the ALMS and the European Le Mans Series. Those teams are encouraged to experiment: Open cockpit, closed cockpit? Gas or Diesel? DOHC V8 or Turbo-Four? Staggered front wheels or all the same size? Even though there are constraints in Le Mans racing, air-restrictors, weight penalties, and the like, the rules regarding a Le Mans Prototype are wide open compared to a Daytona Prototype.

It isn't like there is some sort of cost-savings for a DP team when compared with LM-style cars. True, the average Daytona Prototype comes in around $500 grand fully dressed, which is significantly cheaper than the average Le Mans prototype, but not cheaper than all of them. You could get a Lola LMP2 coupe on track in an ALMS race for less, if you have proper sponsorship and crew. Plus, Grand-Am suffers from the same "Spec-Series" woes that plague the IZOD Indy Racing League. The well-heeled teams (Target/Telmex/Ganassi, I'm mean-muggin' you!) put their "spec" cars into wind tunnels and figure out new bits and pieces for their cars that end up leaving the smaller teams in the dust. Take a look at the smooth, production-quality roll of the Ganassi Riley’s rear fenders, then look over at a Riley from a a smaller team. Same "chassis," but the Ganassi fender is aero-tuned, where a smaller team's Riley (Mike Shank Racing, for instance) has the same blocky rear fenders that came with the original DP/Riley bodywork . . . in 2002! Whereas the Ganassi Riley can almost be considered its own chassis, the Mike Shank car is still, basically a World Sports Car from the late nineties, with an added roof. Don't even get me started on engines.

So, why even bother then? How did this happen and who cares about Grand-Am besides die-hard road-race crazies such as myself? Despite all of Grand-Am's competition issues, the racing is still fantastic. Absolutely, fender-to-fender, high-adrenalin fantastic. As far as the actual on-track product is concerned, Grand-Am is one of the closest, hard fought Championships in the world. There are some amazing drivers in the series, and though the cars aren't exactly "lookers," or technologically mind-numbing, they're still thoroughbred speed demons with appetites for asphalt and the tears of their fallen adversaries. Also, unlike most other televised racing series, the little guy still has a chance. I refer you to this year’s Rolex 24, where a new Porsche team, utilizing an unpopular and under-developed engine, smoked the Ganassi boys for the over-all victory. This sort of scenario hasn't played out at Le Mans since the nineties, when Mazda and, later, McLaren were able to take over-all wins with supposedly inferior machinery. In 2010, the only place you will find that sort of excitement is the Rolex Grand-Am Series, and the brief history of which can be found inside yonder post . . .

UPDATE: The Daytona Prototype is raced outside of the Rolex Series, though it is highly modified and designed for a different rulebook. Behold the MoonCraft Shi-Den MC/RT-16. The "RT" stands for "Riley Technologies", appropriate because this is essentially the same rolling chassis as the Ganassi Rileys. What is different? The bodywork is substantially altered, created by Japanese tuning firm MoonCraft (duh!). The Shin-Den's fenders feature more aero holes and slats, the coupe's roofline slightly sleeker and more aero-efficient.

The MC/RT-16 is powerd by a 4.5 liter Toyota V8, and competes in the Super GT (formnally JGTC,) GT300 Championship. Rated at 430 bhp, it is more powerful then most of it;s competition, but it is also slightly heavier. See the image gallery for pictures of what the DP's should look like, and there is a video of the car in motion inside the post . . .

Never Change Your Vehicle's Oil Again?

On: Wed, Jun 16, 2010 at 3:28PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Never Change Your Vehicle's Oil Again? test 1-1

What if a product existed that would enable motorists to never have to change their car’s oil again? The dutiful task that every car owner knows he/she has to perform every 3,000 miles. Imagine the amount of time, money, and resources that could be saved!

Believe it or not, such a product does exist, and not only does it prevent your car from needing its oil changed, it also increases fuel economy. The product is called an “Oil Refiner” and it has been around since 1977. For decades the specialized oil filter was used mostly on huge commercial ships, but it can now be utilized in cars, trucks, vans—literally just about any type of combustion engine that uses oil.

Five Ford Vehicles Named IIHS Top Safety Picks

On: Mon, Jun 14, 2010 at 2:32PM | By: John Welch

Five Ford Vehicles Named IIHS Top Safety Picks test 1-1

Ford just keeps on keepin' on, spewing good news from every pore. Today it was announced that five Ford models have earned a five-star rating for 2011 from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Ford now has eleven Top Safety Picks for 2011 models, more than any other manufacturer. The 2010 Ford Flex and Fusion, Lincoln MKZ and MKT, and Mercury Milan are the latest Ford models to be scrutinized. Due to extensive use of high-strength steel, all five models passed the IIHS tests with flying colors.

“Leading the industry in both Top Safety Pick ratings and government five-star crash test ratings is very significant because customers increasingly consider IIHS and NHTSA ratings when choosing a new vehicle,” said Sue Cischke, Ford’s Group Vice President of Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering. “These latest test results further demonstrate Ford’s commitment to continuous improvement on the safety front.”