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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.

Honda Motor Co. Experiences Labor Strikes in China

On: Wed, Jun 16, 2010 at 1:37PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Honda Motor Co.  Experiences Labor Strikes in China  test 1-1

A recent strike at a Honda Motor parts factory in China could result in more demands across China's vast manufacturing belt as workers seek a higher wages in order to meet the country's rising cost of living expenses.

Approximately 1500 workers walked off the job this week at the Honda Lock plant, a major supplier of locks for Honda’s auto manufacturing operations in China. The face-off occurred without any hostility, compared to last week when hundreds congregated outside the front gates of the factory and riot police were called in to keep workers from leaving.


2011 GM Heavy Duty Pickups

On: Wed, Jun 16, 2010 at 12:57PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

2011 GM Heavy Duty Pickups test 1-1

The latest generation of GMC Heavy Duty (HD) trucks is quite impressive! The Chevrolet and GMC 2500HDs are for those who are looking for a heavy capacity truck, without the need to move extremely large loads or contend with the ride dynamics secondary to a stiff suspension.

Critics remark that they are very impressed with the wide range of GM HD pickups for 2011; the trucks have hauling, towing and power ratings that surpass all other trucks in their class, getting closer than any other GM trucks in standing toe-to-toe with the F-Series Super Duty lineup.

The New Sixth-Generation Volkswagen Jetta

On: Wed, Jun 16, 2010 at 9:40AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

The New Sixth-Generation Volkswagen Jetta test 1-1

Volkswagen is preparing the launch of the new sixth-generation, 2011 Jetta, which is promised to be a more conservative redesign. Rumors have it that Volkswagen may also be considering a Jetta R model, which could appear as a sedan or a new coupe body style (seemingly the NCC incarnate transformed to the sixth-generation Jetta), which would be longer, leaner, and less expensive than its  predecessor and, for the first time, does NOT resemble the Golf.

Ed Montgomery Steps Down From His Position at the White House

On: Wed, Jun 16, 2010 at 9:25AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ed Montgomery Steps Down From His Position at the White House test 1-1

President Obama formally gave his farewell today to Ed Montgomery, the White House aide in charge of channeling aid to towns that were hit hardest by the effects the recession had on the auto industry.

Edward B. Montgomery, an American economist, academic, and politician, and former member of the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry (serving as Director of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers in the Obama administration), has made a decision to take a position as Dean of Public Policy Institute at Georgetown University in Washington D.C.

Great Gifts for Dad That Won't Get You Disowned

On: Tue, Jun 15, 2010 at 1:59PM | By: Clay Ritchings

Great Gifts for Dad That Won't Get You Disowned test 1-1

While it's pretty easy to pick out something that Mom will love for Mother's Day, Father's Day is typically a different story. While most dads grumble, "I don't need anything!" when you ask them for ideas, you still want to make sure that they have a special day, too. Show your appreciation for dear ol’ dad with a present he can really use, or take your chances on getting disowned.

There are many things you do not want to get him; as tempting as it may be, deserved or not, do not get him a nose hair clipper. Even if reading is your Dad's thing, avoid getting him the book “Fatherhood for Dummies” or any other "for dummies" titles. Is he into gardening? Stay away from any Chia Pet; he will just smash it after you leave and blame the cat. Is your Dad an avid fisherman? Believe me, he doesn’t want that stupid singing fish on his wall. Finally, stay clear of health related items; I know you have the best intentions, but since Dad is hoping for a gift with at least some degree of sentimentality, nothing says, "Dad, you have spawned an unimaginative, insensitive idiot" like giving your father a home colon-cleansing kit. That alone is enough to prompt him to leave you out of the will. If you have already purchased one of these take it back now. While he will probably give you a big smile when you give him his gift, he will be crying on the inside.

Please consider the following gifts for your Dad...

GM And Fisker Reorganize Delaware Plant to Build Plug In Vehicles

On: Tue, Jun 15, 2010 at 1:09PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Fisker Karma test 2

Fisker, the automaker that designed the notorious Karma, is now working on plans for a new lower priced vehicle called the “Nina.”  The new automobile, second in the line-up for Fisker, will be produced at a new (well, new to Fisker anyhow), auto plant in Wilmington, Delaware. It is the plant that Fisker offered to purchase from General Motors, now Motors Liquidation Co., the bankruptcy estate company spun off from General Motors.

The First Ever Porche 911 Turbo Prototype

On: Tue, Jun 15, 2010 at 10:06AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

The First Ever Porche 911 Turbo Prototype test 1-1

For those who attended this year’s 15th annual Greenwich Concours d’Elegance in Connecticut, the exhibit featuring rare, elegantly designed classic automobiles, many may have walked right by the Porche 911 Turbo that was on display without giving it a second look. That is, if they hadn’t stopped long enough to notice that this specific Porsche was unique from all others, the very first 911 to sport turbocharged power.

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.”