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Peugeot Unveils Revolutionary Electric Concept: EX1

On: Wed, Sep 22, 2010 at 3:07PM | By: Chris Weiss

Peugeot Unveils Revolutionary Electric Concept: EX1 test 1-1

With cars like the Porsche 918 Spyder Hybrid and Fisker Karma coming to market over the next couple years, hybrids and electrics promise to become more than just practical, utilitarian tools; they'll soon be as fun, good looking and sporty as the greater gasoline market. Maybe more so, if Peugeot has anything to say about it. The French automaker recently pulled cloth off its EX1 concept, a four-wheel-drive electric vehicle that promises to break EV acceleration records right and left.

The dramatic EX1 features a tear-drop-shaped body that is wider in front than in back, helping to limit resistance and improve performance. A quick look, and the EX1 appears to be a motorcycle or go kart tucked away in a car's front end. It's crafted from a carbon honeycomb monocoque chassis and weighs just 2,200 pounds at the curb.

Each axle houses a 170-hp electric motor, giving the car a total output of 340 horses and 177 lb-ft. With its light, slippery profile, the EX1 promises to offer a 0 to 62 mph time that ducks under the 3-second mark. Peugeot hasn't quite reached that goal, but it has sped up to 161 mph in the EV.

Another interesting element of the EX1 is that it uses a motorcycle-like swing-arm to suspend both rear wheels. The front wheels get their spring from double wishbone suspension. The seats are integrated into the doors, which open in reverse.

UAW Plans Flexible Turnaround

On: Wed, Sep 22, 2010 at 3:06PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

UAW Plans Flexible Turnaround test 1-1

President of the United Auto Workers Bob King reported this week that the UAW intends to ensure that members share the profit in Ford Motor Co., Chrysler Group, and General Motors in 2011.

According to Automotive news, King stated: “The union wants the workers to share in the turnarounds at the U.S. automakers in a way that does not put the companies 'back in a cycle of uncompetitiveness' that left them struggling in recent years."

In a recent interview with Reuters, King was quoted as saying, "There are a number of different approaches" to achieve that, including "flexible compensation, whether it is profit-sharing or gain-sharing."

UAW contracts have enabled automakers to lower wages (entry level auto workers now make about half the hourly wage that seasoned workers earn), and provide for less benefits, due to the automotive industry crisis that started back in 2007.

The latest news is that the UAW will be writing a new contract with the intention of “rolling back some of those concessions in contract talks next year,” according to Automotive News.

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly: 997 Farewell Tour

On: Wed, Sep 22, 2010 at 12:08PM | By: John Welch

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly: 997 Farewell Tour test 1-1

The 996 Porsche 911 was considered by some to be a departure from the 911 norm. Not in a good way. The flat-six was water-cooled, total blasphemy to some, and the sinewy Coke bottle shape had lost its curves. To go with its newfound slab-sidedness, the 996 headlight came to a point, and the interior contained an amount of buttons unbecoming a Stuttgart thoroughbred. Porsche listened to its customers and addressed all of these issues (save the lack of air-cooling and the 'buttons' thing) in 2005, with the introduction of the 997 model 911.

A return to round headlamps, slippery curves, and a slimmer frontal area had Porsche loyalists rejoicing, and everyone else left slack-jawed. The new 911 was faster, sleeker, and much better looking, despite the radiators and the nav system. It has spawned countless variations and received thousands of improvements over its life cycle. Eventually no one will remember the annoying thumb controls that accompanied the first 997s to feature the PDK dual-clutch tranny. They will however recall the meteoric rise in horsepower that several models received, or the improved understeer control delivered by the Carrera and Turbo AWD variants.

The 997 is ancient by modern sports car cycle standards; though due to be replaced it isn't going down without a fight. The last three models added to the 997 line (so, that’s what, 85 variations now? Let's see what I can name off the top of my head: Carrera, CarreraS, Targa, Targa 4S, Carrera Cabriolet, GT3, GT3 RS, GT3 RSR, Turbo, Turbo Cabriolet, GT2, 911SC . . . I'm running out of space here . . . ) are all doozzies! The Speedster, the newest GT3 RS, and the GT2 RS are all the highest examples of the breed, all murderous in their intent. Hop inside the post for details on all three rear-engine menaces . . .

Distracted Driving Fatalities Remain at Epidemic Levels

On: Wed, Sep 22, 2010 at 9:46AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Distracted Driving Fatalities Remain at Epidemic Levels test 1-1

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), although the number of traffic fatalities resulting from talking or texting on mobile phones fell 6% from the previous year, the number of crashes that occur as a direct result of distracted drivers continues to climb t an astonishing rate. The number of traffic fatalities related to driving while distracted by talking on a cellular phone, texting, or eating caused 16% of all fatal accidents, according to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Crashes linked to drivers being distracted behind the wheel caused 5,474 deaths in the year 2009, down from 5,838 a year earlier and accounting for 16 percent of all road fatalities in 2009, unchanged from the previous year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “These numbers show that distracted driving remains an epidemic in America, and they are just the tip of the iceberg,” LaHood said in an e-mailed statement.

Many researchers feel that the official statistics underestimate the actual number of accidents caused by distracted driving, according to LaHood’s statement in a recent Automotive News article. In many states the statistics reported by police fail to document inattention as a primary cause of auto accidents. Some of the many reasons that drivers can lose focus are by talking on and texting on cellular phones and other devices, such as ipods and portable computers. Other activities that can commonly cause distractions while driving include eating, talking, and personal grooming.

"Drivers in their 20s are the most likely to be involved in a fatal crash tied to distractions, according to the statement. For mobile phones in particular, the 30- to 39-year-old group had the highest involvement," according to Automotive News.

NHTSA statistics indicate that distracted driving accidents resulting in deaths have increased to 16% from 10% in the year 2005.

In January the National Highway Safety Counsel discovered that 1.4 million crashes occur each year as a result of drivers using cellular phones, and at least 200,000 are added to the statistics when drivers who are texting are considered.


Lotus Shows First Big Look at Its 'New Era': The Elite

On: Wed, Sep 22, 2010 at 9:44AM | By: Chris Weiss

Lotus Shows First Big Look at Its 'New Era': The Elite  test 1-1

Lotus has revealed its Elite 2 + 2 GT roadster concept that brings us the first example of the company's 'dawn of a new era.' A sexy, sporty two-door with plenty of power, the new concept gives a peek into what is sure to be an exciting future for Lotus sports cars.

It's been quite an exciting day for pre-Paris news. First, we read some credible information predicting that Lamborghini will be showing two brand-spanking-new super-vehicles, and now a look at the fetching Lotus Elite.

The Elite is powered by a front-mid supercharged 5.0-liter V8 engine from the Lexus IS-F. The engine will be connected to an epicyclic transmission with two electric motors and KERS. Final output is expected at 542 horsepower, but a 610-hp R variant is also expected.

Performance for the 610-hp Elite R will come in at 3.5 seconds to 62 mph, with a top speed around 195 mph.

In terms of styling, design director Donato Coco aimed to provide some more depth and dynamics over models like the Evora, Exige and Elise. This is most apparent in the aggressive, restyled front end. The concept model coming to Paris will feature a retractable hard-top, but a coupe and full convertible may also come down the line. Inside, Lotus says the car matches its "shark-like" exterior with an equally attractive, well-appointed interior.

Lotus CEO Dany Bahar, CEO gave his thoughts on the new model in a release: "There's no denying that the Elite is breathtakingly beautiful to look at but it's so much more than that, it's a car that over delivers in all other aspects as well. One could say it's a car of perfect contradictions, it's compact yet spacious, high performing yet low emitting, lightweight yet still reassuringly solid. It's a car that we are exceptionally proud of at Lotus and we truly believe that there is nothing else like it out there both in terms of styling and performance.

The Lotus Elite is being developed for a 2014 release. Pricing is being estimated at 115,000 pounds (about $180K). It's sure to bring Lotus back into the conversation with the Porsches, Ferraris, and Aston Martins out there. Look for more Lotus concepts in the days leading up to the Paris Motor Show.

Ford Introduces Contoured Air Bags in 2012 Focus

On: Tue, Sep 21, 2010 at 4:20PM | By: Chris Weiss

Ford Introduces Contoured Air Bags in 2012 Focus  test 1-1

There's a face in my air bag! Ford's new contoured air bags remind me a little bit of looking at an evil, large-brained Michelin Man, but they serve a righteous cause: mitigating the possibility of injury in an accident. Continuing its commitment toward innovation in safety, Ford announced its new and improved front and side air bag technology last week.

The contoured section of the new driver-side air bag is designed to limit impact of the chest and ribs in the event of a crash. A tether system creates the depression that you see above and helps to make for a less harmful impact.

On the passenger side, the side air bags feature newly implemented vents that can decrease the pressure for smaller occupants. The vents are placed toward the top of the air bag, meaning that larger passengers will cover them up and get the support of a fully pressurized bag, whereas smaller occupants will hit the air bags below the vents causing air to be diverted out. The lower pressurization is designed to provide less impact for smaller passengers.

The frontal passenger-side air bags also deploy differently based upon the size of the occupant. Instead of vents, these air bags use sensors to determine the size of the passenger and deploy accordingly.

Cadillac Recalls CTS And CTS-V, Passengers Urged to Buckle Up

On: Tue, Sep 21, 2010 at 2:48PM | By: John Welch

Cadillac Recalls CTS And CTS-V, Passengers Urged to Buckle Up test 1-1

The Cadillac CTS is stylish and satisfying, in ways few American-made luxury sedans are able to muster. Though penny-pinching is evident, the interior of this fine auto is more driver-centric than any other vehicle rolling out of Motown. Unless you are seated on the passenger side, you're too dumb to wear your seat belt, and the CTS you currently occupy drills a telephone poll.

According to the Detroit Free Press, tests conducted by the government found that a front seat passenger not wearing a seat belt could strike the glove box door and sustain leg injuries in a crash.

GM said all motorists should wear seat belts (dUh). The automaker plans to begin notifying owners of the recall next month. Dealers will replace the glove compartment assembly at no charge.

Owners can contact Cadillac at 866-982-2339. If you have already been injured by a CTS glove box, and weren't wearing a seatbelt, please slap yourself in the mouth for being an ass.

Honda And Toyota Among Top Targets for Auto Theft

On: Tue, Sep 21, 2010 at 2:12PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Honda And Toyota Among Top Targets for Auto Theft test 1-1

Although it may seem that the most likely automobiles to be stolen would be the most expensive brands, such as BMW or Mercedes, in fact the opposite is true. On the list of the top 10 most prevalent cars to be stolen are actually Hondas and Toyotas. In fact, the number one most stolen car in America is actually the older Honda Accord and Civic models, as well as the late model Toyota Corolla, ranked 10th, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).

While one may think that their car is too plain to be on the top most stolen cars in the country, the truth is that an automobile’s ubiquity may actually make it more attractive as a target to thieves.

The 2010 NICB “Hot wheels” report revealed the actual number and models that were stolen last year. The statictics were then compiled by the FBI’s 2009 Uniform Crime Report that was recently released.

Surprisingly the overall number of thefts were down last year: 794,616 vehicles were reported stolen, which is 17% lower than 2008.

The reasons that older models are targeted for theft is that those models are much less likely to have anti-theft devices, such as alarms, tracking devices, or immobilizers. There is also a very strong market for auto parts theft and resale in the more common models such as Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.

According to NICB president Joe Wehrle, "As our Hot Wheels report shows, many of these thefts end up in chop shops where they are turned into replacement parts."

Redesigned Elantra To Hail From Alabama

On: Tue, Sep 21, 2010 at 11:18AM | By: John Welch

Redesigned Elantra To Hail From Alabama test 1-1

Bemoan the SUV, my friends, small cars are taking over. Hyundai is jumping into the new or mostly new small car fray by redesinging the Elantra, consolidating the flowing design language first seen on the new Sonata. To be built this fall, in Alabama, the Elantra will go on sale in early 2011. The high-end Elantra Touring model will still be imported from South Korea, leaving room at the Alabama facility for the hot-selling Sonata, of which Hyundai cannot seem to make enough. “Because we have the flexibility to take additional production from outside the plant, it shouldn’t have any impact on Sonata production at all,” Hyundai spokesman Chris Hosford said. “We will have the ability to build Sonata to demand at the Alabama plant.”

We like the goofy carpish body panels, and with the edition of a 274 bhp turbo-four, we should be satisfied by the Sonata's power.

Back to the Elantra. No word on what sort of power plants we can expect from the mid-small-whatever size Elantra, but no reason the Sonata's base 200 bhp four couldn't be included. That would make for one snappy compact!

Toyota Hopes new 2011 tC will boost Scion Sales

On: Tue, Sep 21, 2010 at 9:52AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Toyota Hopes new 2011 tC will boost Scion Sales test 1-1

Scion’s VP announced recently that the new redesign of Scion tC coupe could potentially “double sales and breathe new life into the struggling youth-focused brand.” Next year Scion is hoping to sell between 35,000 to 45,000 units of what the Toyota owned company is calling “more-powerful coupes in 2011.”

Scion posted sales of 18,000 tC units last year, down 56% from the previous year, after a peak of 79,125 units sold in 2006. According to The Bloomberg news, the most recent forecast from Hollis came in below that of 40,000–50,000 reported in March.

The tC model has accounted for more than 41% of Scion’s overall sales for the past 6 years since it was first introduced; Scion is depending heavily on a strong future market for the 2011 tC model.

So far this year, sales of the coupe have followed suit with many other brands in that numbers have fallen—down 36% through the end of August for a total of only 8,848 vehicles sold in 2010, so far. But according to Hollis “the slide is typical for a sporty subcompact car late in its product life cycle.” He cited unemployment in the 26-year-old age group that is double the national average as one reason for decreased sales, as the Scion has sucessfully appealed to that younger market. Hollis stated: “I think we're kind of timed right for this, where hopefully the unemployment rate will turn here at the beginning of the year.”

Saab Shows Its First Electric Vehicle Prototype

On: Mon, Sep 20, 2010 at 3:03PM | By: Chris Weiss

Saab Shows Its First Electric Vehicle Prototype  test 1-1

A short eight months ago, Saab was on the brink of extinction. GM didn't want it. The greater auto market wasn't exactly rolling in dough and financing deals to take it off of GM's hands. And proposed bids were falling through like finely shaved sawdust in a large collander. In fact, Saab straits were so dire that GM even began to wind the company down.

Then an unlikely hero emerged and swept Saab from the arms of the reaper. Spyker, a Dutch company known for aero-inspired supercars, succeeded in its bid to take Saab off of GM's hands. Usually, it's an established, mainstream brand name buying up an exotic supercar brand, but in this case it was the reverse.

Now that production on Saab 9-5 models is underway, and life is back to normal in Trollhattan, Saab is ready to look toward the future. The company announced an electric vehicle that it's calling "‘the first practical family estate with all-electric propulsion."