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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Reports

To Hell With Safety...Fisker Karma Shoved Onto Market Early, According To Ex Employee

On: Thu, Mar 15, 2012 at 12:19PM | By: Chris Weiss

Fisker Karma test 2

Last month, the media reported that Fisker had lost millions of dollars in loan money from the Department of Energy. The plug-in start-up is still reeling from the loss and trying to figure out where to turn now. It has a new leader at the helm who appears confident (or at least good at giving the appearance of confidence to appease investors and the media) and is moving forward with plans to get the money back from the DOE or elsewhere. A new report alleging that Fisker essentially threw caution to the wind to get the Karma to market and secure DOE funding probably won't help its case.

According to a conversation between a former Fisker employee and technology blog GigaOM, Fisker rushed the launch of the Karma so that it could meet the milestones necessary to maintain its funding. That would explain why the Karma has been guilty of everything from battery fires to less-than-advertised fuel economy to fizzling out on delivery (for Consumer Reports, nonetheless).

AMP Electric Vehicles Cleared For Federal Tax Credit

On: Thu, Mar 15, 2012 at 11:02AM | By: Chris Weiss

AMP Electric Vehicles Cleared For Federal Tax Credit test 2

Options in the electric car market are pretty slim at the moment. It's basically a matter of small sedans and hatchbacks with limited range or $60,000 + luxury performance cars with decent range. To channel Henry Ford, you have your pick so long as it's small, expensive or both. You don't have the option of a truck, AWD SUV, large car, etc.

While future models like the Tesla Model X and Toyota RAV4 EV will expand your options, third-party electric tuners are another route. One of those tuners that we've covered recently officially got the IRS' blessing, qualifying buyers for the federal green car tax credit.

186,000 Camrys And Venzas Recalled

On: Thu, Mar 15, 2012 at 9:58AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

186,000 Camrys And Venzas Recalled test 2

Well, here we go again. It's starting to feel like Toyota might just have to start issuing refunds to anyone that bought a Toyota between 2007 and about three weeks ago. Either that or put some heavy technology in building a time machine (hopefully with better luck than they've had in recent years). Perhaps they could go back and take a Mulligan on a few million cars. It seems that it's just about every week or so that we see the big Japanese carmaker recalling another batch of cars for some new ridiculous reason. This week it's Camry models made from July 1, 2008-February 28, 2009 and Venza models made from October 20, 2008 - January 4, 2011 totaling an asinine 186,798 vehicles.  

Apparently silicone grease "may" have (read:  did) come into contact with the surface of the brake light switch which may cause the electricity to not flow to the switch. If that happens, the car may not allow the driver to shift from park, or even start the car. Another annoying side effect may also be that the brake lights could be rendered useless -- not lighting up at all, which is of course, bad news for all parties involved on the road.

Get those Camrys and Venzas back to the dealer, and read on for the full report ...

Unintended Acceleration Ford Edition: NHTSA Opens Investigation On Taurus

On: Wed, Mar 14, 2012 at 11:26AM | By: Chris Weiss

Unintended Acceleration Ford Edition: NHTSA Opens Investigation On Taurus test 2

About two years after Toyota suffered from its infamous unintended acceleration debacle, Ford may be facing one of its own. The purported problem is different, but the result much the same: loss of acceleration control. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation into the matter this week.

The problem relates to 2005 and 2006 model year Taurus sedans. The NHTSA's preliminary investigation relates to about 360,000 such sedans. It opened the preliminary investigation because of 14 complaints that the throttle on Taurus sedans can stick in the open position, causing difficulties stopping.


Nissan Shows Its Hi-Cross Concept, A Big SUV In A Compact Package

On: Wed, Mar 14, 2012 at 10:01AM | By: Chris Weiss

Nissan Hi-Cross Concept test 2

One of the true kings of the crossover, Nissan debuted yet another crossover at the Geneva Motor Show. This one is a high-riding concept car that Nissan calls the Hi-Cross.

There's a lot of disagreement as to what the new Nissan Hi-Cross concept really is. Nissan calls it both 'one member of the next generation of crossovers and a 'possible expansion of the current Juke-Qashqai-Murano portfolio,' indicating it could be a brand new model. But with the Juke, Rogue, Murano, Pathfinder, X-Trail and Qashqai already establishing a pretty large footprint in the crossover space, it's questionable whether yet another crossover makes any sense.

Nissan also says the Hi-Cross shows a possible new design direction and new design language, so it could just preview some styling coming to the likes of the Murano and Rogue. If so, we like the direction that Nissan is taking.

Las Vegas May Get Its Own Nurburgring Track

On: Tue, Mar 13, 2012 at 1:00PM | By: Chris Weiss

Las Vegas May Get Its Own Nurburgring Track test 2

The twisty behemoth known as the Nurburgring is perhaps the most famous race track in all the world. Not only does this track complex offer up a destination for full on racing events, its Nordschleife (northern loop) serves as the test bed for performance sports car bragging rights. Nordschleife times are nearly as ubiquitous as 0-to-60/62 mph times and top speeds on spec sheets.

The United States has a lot of race tracks, but it doesn't really have anything like Nurburgring. One motorsports company aims to change all that - by making a carbon copy of Germany's track.

According to reports, Speedway Motorsports, a company that owns and operates such US tracks as Bristol Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway, is currently working toward building a replica of Nurburgring on 8,000 acres of desert outside of Las Vegas. Vegas already has replicas of such icons as the Eiffel Tower and The Colosseum, so why not the 'Ring?

Celebrity Apprentice Affirms Buick Brand Confusion

On: Tue, Mar 13, 2012 at 11:22AM | By: Chris Salamone

Debbie Gibson test 2

Unlike a few years ago, Buick is a company with a lot of momentum going forward. The Regal has been universally accepted as an impending classic, the Verano shares DNA with an already superstar GM product (Chevy Cruze), and the soon-to-be youthful Sonic-based subcompact Encore all define a brand lineup which has undergone substantial evolution. Indeed, for the first time in a long while Buick, as a brand, looks to have a sunny financial forecast. Then Sunday’s episode of The Celebrity Apprentice aired.

But the problem with Buick’s brand messaging on Donald Trump’s wildly successful celebreality show wasn’t the fault of the program’s cast, Mr. Trump, or the quality of Buick’s Verano – the vehicle which happened to be showcased. Buick’s brand confusion came from a much larger, more systemic, issue. At least on the televised recording, Buick’s executives failed to specifically address what type of brand concept the celebrities should focus on.

495,470 Toyota Tacomas Recalled!

On: Tue, Mar 13, 2012 at 10:08AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

495,470 Toyota Tacomas Recalled! test 2

Just when you thought it was safe to finally get back into your Toyota, here comes another recall. This week, the Japanese based company has issued a mega-recall of nearly 500,000 of its famous Tacoma pickup trucks spanning from model years 2005-2009, which were built from September 14, 2004 through August 29, 2008.

It seems that over time vibration may damage the air bag control module in the driver's airbag, and as a result, the airbag may not deploy at all. Clearly this is a bit of a problem, and although it is not the worst recall of all time, 495,000 cars to bring back for a fix definitely puts another black eye squarely on a company that was just healing up from the few it earned just a couple years ago.

Read on for the full report ...

Bugatti Provides The Specs On Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse

On: Mon, Mar 12, 2012 at 5:34PM | By: Chris Weiss

Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse test 2

Bugatti revealed the Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse well before the Geneva Motor Show, but it had to save a couple secrets for the big show debut. We knew from the beginning the car pairs the 1,200-hp powertrain of the fastest car in the world - Veyron Super Sport - with the convertible design of the traditional Grand Sport. What we didn't know until this week (and were quite curious about) was how fast the car was. Bugatti has satiated that curiosity.

As you'd expect from a sibling of the fastest car in the world, the Grand Sport Vitesse is outrageously fast. In fact, its numbers are bigger than nearly any hard top, so they're doubly impressive when you consider the open-top nature of the Grand Vitesse.

Valmet To Produce Marussia B2

On: Mon, Mar 12, 2012 at 2:45PM | By: Chris Weiss

Valmet To Produce Marussia B2 test 2

Finland-based Valmet Automotive has entered into agreement with Marussia to build the company's B2 sports coupe. The parties announced the deal at the Geneva Motor Show last week.

Marussia introduced the B2, its second model following the B1, in 2010. The car pulls 300, 360 or 420 horses out of a 3.5-liter V-6 engine. At first those numbers seem contrary to the car's extreme physique - which looks like it hides twice that many horses - but Marussia promises supercar levels of performance thanks to a 2,425-lb weight. The B2 hits 62 mph in 3.2 seconds.

Watch The Mini Countryman Brave Desert Sand And Alpine Snow (Video)

On: Mon, Mar 12, 2012 at 1:15PM | By: Chris Weiss

Watch The Mini Countryman Brave Desert Sand And Alpine Snow test 2

If you were planning a desert off-roading trip or ski trip past flashing "mandatory tire chains" signs, the brand Mini would probably be one of the last on your list for a vehicle source. But in advertising its new Mini Countryman with John Cooper Works package, those are exactly the two types environments that Mini filmed at.

Mini begs us to "Expect the Unexpected," and seeing a Countryman - even an upgraded AWD version - skate across hot desert sand and deep, powdery snow is definitely unexpected. It's also great automotive advertising.