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First Phase Of The West Coast Electric Highway Now Open

On: Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 2:11PM | By: Chris Weiss

First Phase Of The West Coast Electric Highway Now Open test 2

The West Coast Electric Highway is a project that should allow EVs to gain some real world practicality. The project is designed to make it possible to travel from Canada to Mexico along Interstate 5 in an electric vehicle. The first phase of the highway in southern Oregon is now open.

The West Coast Electric Highway is being made possible by collaboration between the governments of California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, private companies, the US Department of Transportation and non-profit organizations. When complete, the highway will offer DC fast-charging stations - 480-volt stations that can charge a battery to about 80 percent full in half an hour - every 40 to 60 miles. While a trip down the full length of the highway via EV won't exactly be fast or convenient, considering the short range of EVs and length of time involved in charging, it will be possible, unlike on the average highway.

GM Adds Automatic Transmission Option To The Sonic

On: Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 11:31AM | By: Chris Weiss

GM Adds Automatic Transmission Option To The Sonic test 2

The Chevy Sonic must be one of the most advertised vehicles of 2012. I no longer turn on my television without expecting to see the "We are Young" montage of the Sonic. The subcompact has jumped out of a plane, dipped its head in a pool of water after a bungee leap and been kick flipped by one of the world's most recognizable skateboarding icons. It's all over the place.

Well, the purpose of great advertising is to inspire interest and sell products. And we're guessing the big Sonic campaign is working, because Chevy is adding a six-speed automatic transmission to the Sonic 1.4L turbo. Many of the people watching the Sonic's adventurous ad campaign probably want the sportiest engine, but may prefer an automatic.

Volvo Goes Linsane!

On: Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 10:09AM | By: Chris Weiss

Volvo Goes Linsane! test 2

Two things that have nothing in common: the safe, reliable car that your grandpa has been driving since 1961 and a basketball whirlwind that came out of nowhere to take the sport by storm over the period of a few weeks. At least they had nothing in common until this week. Volvo signed NBA star Jeremy Lin to a two-year agreement.

Jeremy Lin, the New York Knicks point guard that rose to prominence last month, is one of the feel-good sports stories of this young year. He's earned a quick rise to fame in one of the notoriously tough New York media market.

In a story that's drawn comparison to Tim Tebow's improbable NFL run in Denver, Lin was an undrafted player that bounced between the NBA and D League since graduating from Harvard in 2010. When he got his chance to start for the Knicks in February, he took the bull by the horns and led the team to six straight victories, earning the nickname Linsanity.

NO DISASSEMBLE! Mercedes Classic Murders A Gullwing (Knockoff)

On: Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 3:51PM | By: Andrew W Davis

Photoillustration by Author (post-mortem) test 2

The 1950s Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “Gullwing” has one of the most beautiful bodies in the world, automotive or otherwise. Between 1954 and 1957, only 1400 of these curvy creations were built—1,371 in steel, 29 in aluminum—ensuring that they’d forever be a hot (read: EXPENSIVE) commodity.

Values have been rising rapidly to an “average” of nearly $1M. One—an alloy-bodied 1955 model—set a world record at auction in January with a winning bid of $4.62 million. It’s clear, then, that there’s a market out there for 300 SL replicas. Problem is, as Mercedes-Benz puts it, “The body shape of the legendary gullwing model has been trademarked by Daimler AG.”

So what happens when M-B finds out you’ve been violating said trademark? Bad things. Bad for you and VERY bad for the car.

Reader discretion is advised…


Mecum's March Madness Part 2: Another Round Of Big Rigs, Only This Time They're Classics (And USEFUL!)

On: Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 1:10PM | By: Andrew W Davis

Photoillustration by author test 2

Here’s something for you if you’re a truck person (I hear there’s a cream for that now, BTW) looking to make a statement at your local Show ‘N’ Shine with something bedded and breathtaking, but you’re looking for something classy without looking like you had too much time and money to burn.

[For THAT kind of statement, see my earlier article.]

And you don’t want anything newfangled—these are classic car shows, remember—so anything built after Ike’s first term is right out, just as anything foreign-built at any time is Communist and against God, the flag and your mom’s apple pie.

But it should be practical, too. Any yahoo can buy an old pickup, but what if someone at the show required 1970s-era medical attention? Or milk? Or a, incline-bed tow? You could've been the hero in those situations if only you had the vehicle for it. Well, fear not. Mecum’s late-March Missouri sale has just what those improbable situations require, plus a few that are great to have just-in-case. You never know...

Land Rover Thinks Next Defender Could Be Its Bestseller

On: Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 10:09AM | By: Chris Weiss

Land Rover Thinks Next Defender Could Be Its Bestseller test 2

Despite underwhelming the world with several renditions of its DC100 concept, an early preview of the next generation Defender, Land Rover is confident that the model will do well. A company executive told media that Land Rover believes the Defender will go on to become its best-selling SUV, once it spawns a family of different sized and configured models.

Brand director John Edwards told Inside Line: "We're being encouraged to look at it as a 20-year plan with global potential, a family of vehicles offered on different wheelbases with different bodies. The leisure market is huge. We get a very significant share of the premium SUV market that BMW and Porsche compete in, but the leisure segment is bigger, it's growing and our share is smaller. Our ambition is to grow here."

The $400 Ferrari... Hair Dryer

On: Wed, Mar 21, 2012 at 5:23PM | By: Chris Weiss

The $400 Ferrari... Hair Dryer test 2

If you're ever looking for a gift for that difficult-to-buy-for car fanatic in your life, you should note that most supercar makers have a line of lifestyle products, typically aimed at men. Sometimes they design these in house, as is the case with Porsche Design, and sometimes they license their brand name to other high-end manufacturers. It's kind of a cool way that the average guy can 'own' a Lamborgini, Ferrari, Aston Martin, and on and on.

The latest products to slide into our awareness are a pair of hair clippers and a blow dryer from Ferrari. The clippers will cost you a lot more than the Wahl kit you can buy at Walmart, but a whole lot less than an actual Ferrari.

Our C7 Wish List

On: Wed, Mar 21, 2012 at 4:06PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Our C7 Wish List test 2

It seems like only yesterday we were ushering out the revolutionary C5, and introducing the evolutionary C6. But alas, 2005 was a lifetime ago (at least in terms of the automotive world). Chevy has finally given us the word that 2013 will be the final model year of the C6, but have kept their lips sealed about just what we can expect out of the C7 aside from a few grainy, sketchy spy photos. So we here at Autoshopper would like to suggest (demand?) a few details that we would very much appreciate seeing as part of the next Corvette.

Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S Production Kicks Off

On: Wed, Mar 21, 2012 at 2:00PM | By: Chris Weiss

Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S Production Kicks Off test 2

A journey that we began in 2009, and Toyota and Subaru began in 2005, is finally coming to its apex. Subaru started production of the BRZ sports coupe at its Gunma Main Plant in Japan on Friday. The sporty two-door will be built alongside its Toyota cousins - the Toyota GT 86 and Scion FR-S. Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) President Akio Toyoda was on hand to celebrate the launch.

Fuji Heavy Industries' (Subaru's parent company) President Yasuyuki Yoshinaga said in a press release: "The car symbolizes our corporate strategy in two significant aspects: good progress of our alliances; and advancement of our 'select and focus' approach. The start of production today made a huge step for us, but it is not our goal. By constantly refining both models, TMC and FHI hope to nourish each model to be loved by customers all over the world for a long time to come."

Enzo Ferrari Museum Opens Its Doors

On: Wed, Mar 21, 2012 at 11:01AM | By: Chris Weiss

Enzo Ferrari Museum test 2

Ferrari already has a museum dedicated to its race and road car legacy - the Museo Ferrari, located at the Prancing Horse's headquarters in Maranello. Ferrari is broadening its museum footprint in opening the new Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari, a museum dedicated to the life of Ferrari's founder.

Ferrari officially opened its latest facility on March 10. The striking design of the Enzo Museum began in 2004 when London's Future Systems studio submitted its winning bid to design the building. The architecture was designed by the late Jan Kaplicky, his last work before passing in 2009, and completed by Andrea Morgante of Shiro Studio, who had worked at Future Systems prior to Kaplicky's death. Engineering and project management were performed by Società Politecnica. The museum was built with an investment of some 18 million euros.

Volvo Recalls 2,700 New Cars

On: Wed, Mar 21, 2012 at 9:51AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Volvo Recalls 2,700 New Cars test 2

If you happen to have just purchased a brand new 2012 Volvo S60 or XC60, you may just be one of 2,742 new owners that will have to turn that Volvo right back around and head back to the dealership. It seems that while on the assembly line, the factory may have over sprayed the coating they use on the underbody of these cars. An over application of this coating can (like any liquid) cause it to drip down, and in this case, cause it to form icicle-like structures. 

The coating-icicles are not necessarily the problem -- it's the fact that these icicles can actually puncture fuel lines, causing fuel to leak and potentially a fire. Owners will be contacted beginning in mid-April, but early appointments are okay too.

Read on for the full report from Safercar.gov ...