BlogMon, 17 Nov 2014 20:00:00 EST
The Toyota Mirai is coming to California next year and it will arrive bearing a $57,500 MSRP. Toyota says that with state and federal incentives worth a total of $13,000, interested customers will be able to buy a Mirai for under $45,000. If you're more into leasing, then you can get the Mirai for $499 a month for 36 months (with $3,649 due at signing). Both options come with free hydrogen fuel for "up to three years."
The 2016 Mirai will be available in California in the fall of 2015 in a very limited supply - less than 200 vehicles in the fourth quarter - but as availability expands to the Northeast (read: Boston and New York), Toyota says it expects more than 3,000 to be on the road by the end of 2017.
But there might be a catch. The $8,000 federal tax credit isn't scheduled to last much longer. In fact, it could expire well before the Mirai is released. The current regulations say that, "The purchaser may claim a credit for the certified amount for a fuel cell vehicle if it is placed in service by the taxpayer after Dec. 31, 2005, and is purchased on or before Dec. 31, 2014." That's just a month and a half from now, while the car is almost a year away. Will the tax credit be extended? No one knows for sure, and all that Toyota's group vice president of strategic planning, Chris Hostetter, would say is that, "It's always hard to know what the government is going to do, but we're optimistic that hopefully that will get extended to next year."
If the Honda HR-V feels awfully familiar to you by now, you're not alone. We've seen it debut in Japanese form (dubbed "Vezel"), caught a prototype in Paris, and Honda first showed us the US-spec version in press-photo form all the way back at the New York Auto Show in April. We're finally going to get all the details on Honda's new subcompact crossover this week as part of the Los Angeles Auto Show, but first, we're getting an early look at the CUV today.
We met the Honda HR-V for a cup of coffee this morning at Randy's Donuts just outside of Los Angeles, and got our first look at the new CUV in the metal. It's a handsome little thing, offering a higher-riding, more butch alternative to the Fit hatchback on which it's based. We particularly like how the rear door handles are integrated into the pillars, for an almost three-door look from some angles.
Technical details are still scarce as of this writing, though we expect those to be revealed during Honda's press conference on Wednesday. For now, we just know that the HR-V should be an incredibly practical little thing, using the Magic Seat system that has made the Fit such a versatile and capacious subcompact. Stay tuned for more, and see the HR-V from all angles in our live gallery, above.
Return of the Shelby GT350
The Shelby GT350 nameplate has quite a bit of history. Not only does it carry a legendary name on its hind quarters, it also holds the distinction of being one of the most track-capable Mustang models in Ford's history. In other words, this new Shelby GT350 you see to the right has a lot to live up to. Here's hoping its new flat-plane-crank 5.2-liter V8 proves to be as exciting as it sounds.
We drove the 2016 Audi S6
There are ways to test armor plating. You test the components under laboratory conditions, install them on a vehicle, test them some more, maybe put in some dummies to make sure occupants would be safe from harm under real-world conditions. But the Texas Armoring Corporation and its CEO take a different approach.
A few years ago, we brought you footage of Trent Kimball, chief executive of the armoring firm founded by his father, taking a position behind one of the company's reinforced windshields while one of his trusted employees opened fire with an AK-47. It was a pretty impressive (if arguably foolish) way to demonstrate the integrity of the company's work, but if that wasn't enough, this time Kimball isn't just demonstrating a component... he's putting his life on the line to showcase just how impenetrable his company's finished products really are (in this case, he's sitting in a reinforced Mercedes GL). And he's not crouching behind a thick steel panel, either: he's sitting there calmly while an AK-47 fires directly at his head, with nothing but a bulletproof windshield to keep him safe.
A few years ago, reports surfaced that Porsche was planning a new supercar. But the latest intel suggests that the plan has been put indefinitely on the back burner.
The project alternately referred to as 960 or 988 was put forth by CEO Matthias Müller shortly after he assumed control of the German automaker. It called for a mid-engined V8 supercar to slot in between the 911 and the 918 Spyder to take on the likes of the Ferrari 458 Italia, McLaren 650S and sister-company Lamborghini's Gallardo and subsequent Huracán.
Now three years since the idea was first mooted, the vehicle has yet to materialize. According to Autocar, Porsche is putting a greater emphasis on refreshing its existing lineup. Which is probably just as well, because the mid-engined supercar would have a heck of a challenge on its hands to differentiate itself in terms of performance from the 911 GT3 and 911 Turbo, which already give the 458 and company a run for their money.
Back in 2010, Audi debuted the diminutive A1, and it's sold over half a million of them since. Now, more than four years later, the German automaker has given its smallest and most accessible model a facelift and some updated equipment.
The latest version of the A1 benefits from a range of updates, including a sharpened take on the company's familiar styling with a reshaped single-frame grille, new bumpers front and rear as well as new wheel and color choices. But the biggest news is the introduction of Audi's first three-cylinder gasoline engine.
The turbocharged, direct-injected 1.0-liter three-pot churns out just 94 horsepower, but that's still six more than the previous base 1.2-liter four offered, all the while returning better fuel economy and emissions figures. Of course, that turbo three is not the only engine on offer, joining the 1.4-liter turbo four in 123- and 148-hp states of tune and the 113-hp 1.6-liter TDI. And of course there's still the 228-hp S1 performance model. Depending on specification, the engines are mated to a five- or six-speed manual, but can all be optioned with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission as well.
Looking at the current automotive landscape, especially from German makers, you quickly get the impression that less definitely isn't more. BMW alone offers its 3 Series platform in practically every segment possible, including the regular sedan and 4 Series Gran Coupe, which would seem to be direct competitors. Porsche might be the winner, though, with 20 different variants of the 911 listed for sale on its US website. However, some of this model madness might be reaching an end as companies begin cutting back spending or shifting money to other priorities.
According to Yahoo Finance, the offerings from the German automakers are up 25 percent over the past three years to over 200 models in Europe. The peak is expected to come around 2018 at 230 separate vehicles, according to consulting company PwC.
Amazingly, BMW, which is among the poster children for this model explosion, might be changing its tune. "I'm sure there will be points in the future where we look at certain cars and say, 'Maybe we need to think differently now,'" said head of sales Ian Robertson in an interview, according to Yahoo Finance. The statement certainly sounds shocking coming from a company rumored to have 23 front-wheel-drive vehicles all using a single platform on the way.
The prospect of Porsche building a smaller version of the Panamera has been an on-again, off-again proposition as the German automaker seems to go back and forth on the project. Last we heard, Porsche had pushed back the so-called Pajun (shorthand for Panamera Junior) until 2019 at the earliest, but we could be looking at it right here.
The automaker's everything-but-automotive division Porsche Design is working on a luxury condo complex called (simply enough) Porsche Design Tower. It's been three years in the making and will take at least another year or two to complete, but the gist of it is that the 57-floor building will include 132 apartments, each with its own en-suite garage in which the residents' cars will be parked thanks to giant elevators.
Porsche Design released a series of renderings showing what the property will look like once complete. Most of the renderings feature Porsches, of course - production models you can find in any of the brand's showrooms, like the one just 23 miles away in Coral Gables. But one of the renderings of the giant glass elevators shows something rather unusual.
If there's one thing you can count on, it's that the renewed rivalry between the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro will never, ever cease. For every version of Ford's pony car, there's an equally potent Chevrolet. And so with the debut of the Camaro Z/28 earlier this year, Ford has responded with a track-focused 'Stang of its own, resurrecting the Shelby GT350 name.
It looks to be a fine piece of work, this Mustang, with power coming from a naturally aspirated 5.2-liter V8 that will produce "more than 500 horsepower" and "above 400" pound-feet of torque. That grunt runs to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission, and a Torsen limited-slip differential keeps everything in line.
But that's hardly the most impressive piece of the GT350 puzzle. Ford has increased the Mustang GT's chassis stiffness for duty here in the Shelby, and the coupe employs MagneRide damping which automatically adjusts based on road conditions and driver inputs. It's a first both for the Blue Oval and for the segment. And speaking of firsts, the GT350 uses a flat-plane crankshaft - something Ford has never included in a production V8 before.
Toyota's decision to move its US headquarters from its longtime home in Torrance, CA, to Plano, TX, was one of the biggest stories in the automotive industry this spring. With several months since the announcement, more details about the plan have leaked out. It seems that pulling up stakes could mean an even larger shakeup in the Toyota workforce than first thought.
According to Automotive News, Toyota intends to hang onto around 50 percent of its workforce in the move to the Lone Star State. However, even that figure might be optimistic. According to an unnamed insider speaking to AN, there is a fear the actual number could be closer to 30 percent. For comparison, Nissan retained about 42 percent of its workers in its move from California to Tennessee.
The actual percentage making the move is a mystery because Toyota is still rewriting its job descriptions under a single set of guidelines. The changes affect benefits, bonuses and the reporting structure, according to Automotive News, and employees' reactions could play a big role in who decides to go. According to an unnamed worker speaking to AN, the wait is hurting morale. Some people are even applying at the nearby Honda headquarters.
Green may have been a popular color choice for the classic Jaguar E-Type, but even in Lightweight form (pictured above), it was hardly what you'd call environmentally friendly. Not by today's standards, anyway, with six-, eight- and twelve-cylinder engines displacing between 3.8 and 5.3 liters. But Jaguar looks to be preparing to revive the nameplate - or at least one similar - with a new electric vehicle in the works.
According to the latest intel, Jaguar has applied both in the US and in Europe to trademark the name EV-Type. The implication that it's developing an electric vehicle is clear, as is the reference to its iconic sports car of yore. But more than that, we don't know. We could be looking at an electric version of the current F-Type, a project to convert original E-Types to electric power or a different model altogether.
It wouldn't be the first time, of course, that we'd see Jaguar toying with the idea of electric propulsion. A couple of years ago, the British automaker demonstrated a plug-in hybrid XJ_e prototype, and showcased both the C-X16 and C-X75 concepts with advanced hybrid powertrains. But it has yet to put any such system into production, relying instead on the small diesels it sells in Europe to keep its carbon footprint small.
Of all the changes in store for next year's Formula One World Championship, few are as hotly anticipated as Honda's return as an engine supplier to the McLaren team. And with the current season drawing to a close, Honda has tweeted two images of the current car running its new engine.
The MP4-29H pictured here is based closely on the MP4-29 which Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen have been driving all season, starting strong with a double podium finish in Australia but dropping sharply off over the course of the rest of the season since. The main difference (as far as we know, anyway) is that this car has swapped its Mercedes-AMG PU106A hybrid power unit for the new engine which the team will run in the 2015 McLaren-Honda MP4-30 next season.
Although mid-season testing away from officially sanctioned test sessions is strictly verboten, this particular film session undertaken at Silverstone was apparently allowed under publicity regulations that would permit the team to run the car for no more than 100 kilometers (62 miles). The car was wearing demonstration tires and piloted not by Button, Magnussen or official test driver Stoffel Vandoorne of Belgium, but by backup driver Oliver Turvey, an up-and-coming driver with GP2 and Le Mans class wins under his belt.
The Mazda CX-3 is just days away from its unveiling at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, but elsewhere in the world, the Japanese brand still has the compact crossover disguised for testing. These spy shots aren't too camouflaged though, and when combined with the previous teaser image, they give a pretty clear idea what the new model will look like.
The grille here is well covered, but the photo from the front reveals the similarities to the design sketch. The rear shows a similar horizontally oriented design as the Mazda2, which the CUV is based on. However, the dipping sides around the B-pillar from the teaser don't appear to be on this tester. Even with all the swirls, the vehicle looks fairly attractive.
Mazda is doing a fantastic job of keeping mechanical details about the CX-3 a secret. It's not yet known whether the model is front-wheel-drive only or if all-wheel drive is also an option. The crossover also likely shares the Mazda2's engine, which isn't revealed for North America, yet. The diminutive CUV will compete with a huge crop of new classmates, including the Fiat 500X, Jeep Renegade, Chevrolet Trax and Honda HR-V. Check out the gallery for the latest glimpses of this Japanese CUV just days ahead of its full debut.
Ken Block is back with his heavily modified Ford Mustang, and he's taking to the streets of sunny Los Angeles for the seventh installment of his traditionally insane, drift-tastic Gymkhana videos.
We covered Block's all-wheel-drive, 845-horsepower Mustang a few weeks back during the annual SEMA extravaganza in Las Vegas. We'll admit, we were curious about what this fantastically modified 1965 Mustang would be capable of, and now that we've seen it driven in anger through the streets of LA, we're far from disappointed.
The stunts in this latest installment are a step above even Block's typical fare, and include everything from a seriously close encounter with a lowrider that has major ups to an automotive dance session with the LAPD. There's even an homage to one of the 5-0's most iconic chases. Aside from that, Block makes his way through many LA landmarks, including Randy's Donuts, Chinatown and the Hollywood sign.
Minutes after spending time in the refreshed 2016 Audi A6 in Germany, we were tossed the keys to its enthusiast-tuned sibling, the Audi S6. In similar manner to its lesser brethren, the S6 has also been updated for the 2016 model year with a new look, a boost in power and additional technology.
Its aggressive demeanor is heralded by a redesigned signature single-frame grille, resculpted bumpers (front and rear) and new lights on both ends - the Matrix LED headlamps fitted to our European test car are impressive, but the US DOT has ensure that we won't see them (pun intended) for now. The cabin appointments have gone even further upscale, and the enhanced MMI infotainment system now runs more fluidly thanks to a faster NVIDIA graphics chip. The primary instrument cluster, facing the operator, has been redesigned to offer its own duplicate display to ease the driver's workload.
Under the hood, the twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter TFSI V8 is bumped to 450 horsepower (a gain of 30), while torque remains the same at 406 pound-feet. The standard gearbox is Audi's seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch unit, sending power to all four wheels through the automaker's rear-biased Quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system.
If you need the extra convenience of four doors but don't want to give up the thrill of high performance, the Chevrolet SS represents a potent package. The exterior is understated and the design certainly doesn't scream about the 415-horsepower, 6.2-liter V8 hiding beneath the hood. Unfortunately, there are some questions about how long this muscle sedan will last.
According to Motoring in Australia, when Holden ends local production at the close of 2017, the SS and the VF-model Commodore that it's based on are not getting replacements. The site claims that an unnamed, "senior GM executive" confirmed the news at the recent SEMA show. The source also had one interesting tidbit about the future of the SS suggesting that General Motors is considering fitting the trick suspension and carbon brakes from the Camaro Z/28 in the future. Previously, it looked very likely that the Commodore would retire when assembly ended, but earlier rumors suggested that the muscle sedan could be built in North America for its next generation.
When reached for comment by Autoblog, Chevy spokesperson Michael Albano said the automaker isn't able to discuss the SS beyond the 2015 model year.
Say what you will about the evolution of the Ford Explorer, from roofed Ranger to body-on-frame sport utility vehicle to unibody crossover - the bottom line is that it's been a tremendously successful model for Ford. In fact, the Blue Oval automaker has sold seven million Explorer models in the United States alone.
The milestone, marked nearly a quarter-century after the introduction of the original in 1990, comes on the eve of the introduction of a new Explorer at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week. We don't yet know how the new Explorer will shape up, but we're mere days away from finding out.
Now heading into its sixth generation, the Explorer has formed the basis of Ford's utility lineup for over two decades. The Explorer landed on the market right around the time that the Bronco was trailing off, predating the company's expansion into larger SUVs like the Expedition and Excursion and crossovers like the Escape, Edge and Flex.
Mon, 17 Nov 2014 00:01:00 EST
Ford promises more than 500 horsepower and a torque peak above 400 lb-ft.
The wait is finally over. After months of spy shots, rumor and innuendo, Ford has officially pulled the wraps off its new Shelby GT350. Judging by the spec sheet and the promises being made - especially that the Shelby GT350 will be "an all-day track car that's also street legal" - the wait appears to have been worth it.
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 23:30:00 EST
"We're really trying to simplify for the customer on their terms." - Paul Bucek
Lincoln is launching a Black Label service and customization program in December at 32 dealerships across the country in a bid to attract new and more upscale customers.
Instead of hosting the world debut of the production version of its hydrogen fuel cell sedan at the LA Auto Show this coming week, Honda decided to debut the vehicle in Japan today. And, it's not the production version that was shown off, it was an evolved concept. And, instead of coming in 2015, as previously stated, the car is now scheduled to drop in March 2016 in Japan, followed by releases in Europe and the US.
Honda gave no reason for the delayed arrival of the new fuel cell vehicle.
Honda gave no reason for the delayed arrival of the new fuel cell vehicle, the spiritual successor to the FCX Clarity, but we will ask company representatives about this at the LA show this week. Honda did say it will make an announcement about hydrogen infrastructure in California at the show. That's not as exciting as a new vehicle, but sometimes you have to talk about the egg before you get to eat the chicken.
Looks like someone was able to read the future back in July. That's when rumors first circulated that Toyota's upcoming fuel cell vehicle will be called the Mirai. Today, Toyota president Akio Toyoda confirmed the name alongside plans to build out a hydrogen refueling infrastructure in the US Northeast.
In Japanese, mirai (??) means "future," which is a fitting name for a car that Toyota believes represents the direction the auto industry will go in the coming years. In a promotional video announcing the name, Toyoda said, "For [Toyota], this isn't just another car. This is an opportunity - an opportunity to really make a difference. And making a difference is what Toyota is all about."
To help that future come into existence, Toyota CEO Jim Lentz also disclosed the vague outline of a fuel cell infrastructure investment that Toyota and partner Air Liquide will make in a five-state Northeastern corridor that consists of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island. The Mirai will be available there in 2015 and Toyota is going to build 12 stations in and around New York and Boston to support the launch. More details will be available later.
Sometimes, having a ton of fun requires takes a ton of work. Just nine days before the so-called Ultimate Adventure 2014, the folks behind 4-Wheel & Off-Road had 40 tasks to complete in order to turn the ratty truck pictured above into a machine that could excel on treacherous off-road trails while still being able to handle highway jaunts. Much of process behind the build was chronicled on the latest episode of Dirt Every Day.
The team's vehicle started life as a 1990 Dodge tug truck that spent part of its life hauling around airplanes. The builders hung on to the Cummins six-cylinder diesel, but they tossed out practically everything else for the project, with some seriously heavy-duty replacement parts for the transmission, transfer case, axles and a whole lot more. The process was certainly a ton of work, but the end result looks like a fantastic crawler.
Sure, it might have been easier to bring a truck that was already prepared, but where would the fun in that have been? Stay tuned until the end of the video for a few glimpses of the completed Dodge and peek at some of the punishment it goes through.
For the past four and a half years, Hyundai's marketing efforts in America have been steered by Steve Shannon. But now the Korean automaker is going to have to find a new marketing guru, because Shannon has reportedly stepped down with apparently immediate effect.
A career automobile marketer, Shannon came to Hyundai early in 2011 after over a quarter century at General Motors, effectively switching places with Joel Ewanick and Chris Perry, who moved from Hyundai to GM the previous year.
During his 25 years in Detroit, Automotive News points out, Shannon worked with such brands as Buick, Oldsmobile, Saab and Hummer. He was particularly instrumental in launching the Saturn brand and served as executive director of marketing for Cadillac prior to moving to Hyundai.
Fans of truly irreverent amounts of horsepower will find lots to love in the form of the 2015 Dodge Challenger and Charger Hellcat models. Both of them send 707 ridiculous horsepower to the rear wheels; the only question is whether you want your absurdity delivered with two or four doors. Oh, and whether or not you want the option of a manual transmission.
If you prefer rowing your own gears, the choice is made for you; there is no manual gearbox option available on the Charger Hellcat, or any Charger model at all, for that matter. Wonder why? Well, besides the fact that almost nobody - sorry, clutch fans, but it's true - would choose to buy a Charger with a manual transmission, that is? The answer, according to an industry insider in a post written on Jalopnik's Opposite Lock forum, is the floorpan.
It's probably not a surprise to most of our readers that the Dodge Challenger and Charger share a large portion of their chassis structure, which is codenamed LX at Chrysler, but there are still some significant differences under the skin due to the shorter wheelbase and two-door coupe bodyshell of the Challenger, as opposed to the sedan shape of the Charger. One of the differences is the floorpan, the huge chunk of sheetmetal that makes up the floor of the car and props up such essential items as the car's seats.
The new home of Cadillac will be in the 330 Hudson building in New York City's Hudson Square, putting the luxury marque smack dab in the middle of three of the city's hippest areas, SoHo, Greenwich Village and Tribeca.
The announcement is yet another milestone in the company's controversial decision to relocate administrative and marketing operations away from Detroit and into the Big Apple.
"The addition of a headquarters office in New York is a key step in Cadillac's ongoing global expansion," Cadillac boss Johan de Nysschen said, according to The Detroit Free Press. "There is no better atmosphere in which to better immerse ourselves into luxury consumer and brand expertise."
Get ready, world: The 707-horsepower Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat has officially been unleashed. But rather than just have the big coupes quietly arrive at dealers, Dodge has released this video, showing Hellcats loading up onto car carriers at Fiat-Chrysler's Brampton, Ontario plant. And yes, that is Mötley Crüe's "Kickstart My Heart" playing in the background. Of course.
This really is worth all the fanfare, though, considering Dodge will sell its ridiculously powerful, supercharged machine for just $59,995. And if the Challenger isn't quite up your alley, just remember, there's an equally powerful, 204-mph, four-door Charger Hellcat on the way...
Fancy yourself an example of Lexus' take on the BMW 4 Series and Audi A5? Well, now you can customize your very own RC on Lexus' consumer website. With prices starting at $42,790 for a rear-drive model while an all-wheel-drive RC kicks off at $45,025. Neither price includes Lexus' *$925 destination charge.
With a wild (by Lexus' standards) color palette and the option of regular and F Sport trims, there's a fair amount to play with in this configurator. That said, it follows the brand's typical strategy of offering colors and upholsteries along with a wide range of pre-determined options packages.
For those waiting on the configurator for the RC F, it looks like you'll have to wait a big longer, as Lexus hasn't launched a builder for its high-performance, 467-horsepower, $63,325 coupe. Stay tuned for that one.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is trying to get capital together in a hurry to finance the automaker's growth plans. Among its strategies to raise money, Ferrari will be spun off from the FCA mothership next year with an initial public offering. However, the Italian supercar maker will be a couple billion dollars poorer at the start of its new life.
According to a filing with US regulators obtained by Automotive News, FCA intends to "enter into certain other transactions including distributions and transfers of cash from Ferrari currently estimated at 2.25 billion euros ($2.8 billion)" before it spins the supercar maker off. Those funds might include paying a dividend to investors, and FCA possibly transferring some of its debt to the Prancing Horse.
The Ferrari IPO will likely be in the second or third quarter of 2015, according to Automotive News. Ten percent of the automaker will go onto the public market in the US and possibly Europe too, and 80 percent will be distributed among current FCA shareholders. The other 10 percent is held by co-chairman Piero Ferrari, according to AN.
Sat, 15 Nov 2014 08:55:00 EST
GM has recalled an estimated 2.6 million vehicles for the ignition-switches, and it's believed at least 32 deaths have resulted from the crashes.
General Motors again came under fire this week for its handling of its far-reaching ignition-switch recall.
The safety crisis surrounding Takata's exploding airbags continues to expand. In the latest revelation, Honda confirms another death linked to the faulty parts, and the company is expanding its recall of the components. However, none of the newly added vehicles are in the United States.
With the confirmation of this report, there are now five deaths linked to the faulty airbags. According to The New York Times, a pregnant woman in Malaysia was killed on July 27 in a 2003 Honda City when she crashed into another vehicle, and the inflator ruptured. This was the first announced case outside of the US.
The faulty part in the woman's car was reportedly made at a now-closed Takata factory in Georgia, according to the NYT, and it's the first known example from that location. In response, Honda recalled about 170,000 vehicles in Europe and Asia to replace the potentially bad inflators. The latest campaign brings the total number of recalled vehicles worldwide to around 14.3 million units.