AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Where you one of those kids who would smash your toy cars together? If so, I bet your dream job lies in Sweden in Volvo’s crash test laboratory. More than 3,000 full-scale crashes have taken place, making this the most used and (still) most advanced crash research centre on the planet.
“We can replicate most of the accident scenarios that take place out on the roads. By analysing the results and then testing new safety technology, we can improve the safety level in our cars so that they become even safer in real-life traffic conditions,” said Thomas Broberg, senior safety advisor at Volvo Cars.
How advanced is this place? Well, they’ve just installed new cameras…that can take video at 200,000 frames per second.
“The degree of precision in a test in which two moving cars collide at 31 mph is 2.5 centimetres. This corresponds to two thousandths of a second. By way of comparison, a blink of the human eye takes about 60 thousandths of a second. This says a whole lot about the laboratory’s precision,” says Broberg.
Click through for some incredible facts about the safety center.
Think the environment is important? Think auto manufacturers are hopelessly out to lunch? Well the photo above shows aluminum shavings that are collected at a General Motors plant and recycled to make new transmission parts.
Sixty-two per cent of GM plants have achieved “zero landfill” status, according to a release. That means all normal plant waste is reused or recycled. Forty-three per cent of the company’s global operations no longer send production waste to landfills.
The company says that on average, more than 97 percent of waste materials from GM’s zero landfill plants are recycled or reused and about 3 percent is converted to energy at waste-to-energy facilities replacing fossil fuels.
These initiatives will prevent more than three million metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent emission reductions from entering the atmosphere this year. Some of the materials recycled? More than 650,000 tons of scrap metal, 16,600 tons of wood, 21,600 tons of cardboard, and 3,600 tons of plastic.
A few years ago, I was opining that in-car technology was pitiful and useless — mostly because I had no way to connect my iPod to a car stereo — before the days of AUX-in and USB connections BMW and BlackBerry seem to have waded into the next generation of in-car apps with their latest Bluetooth update that allows drivers to have emails read aloud via the car stereo and iDrive.
Since I now think that anything opposed to the art of driving should be banned (even cupholders), this trend of allowing drivers to access email while behind the wheel makes me sick.
That said, if you’re so inclined, the feature will be rolled out first on the BlackBerry Peark 3G, but will soon extend to all devices running the BlackBerry 6 OS.
Video after the jump:
We love (well, a few of us here love) superminis more than the latest and greatest supercars. Why? They’re honest, unpretentious, and the literal background of many countries across the globe. In South America, there is no typical two-car garage — everything a family does is done in a small car, like the new Fiat Uno.
It’s slightly larger than the Panda yet smaller than the Punto. The interior is dead simple, with utilitarian controls, materials, and details — including a mesh “net” that fits over the passenger seat in order to carry more things when you’re alone in the vehicle.
Pictured above is the “Way” version, with more ground clearance and chunky looks — still front-drive, though! Engines are flex-fuel gasoline only (for the time being): 1-liter (73 horsepower on alcohol, 75 on gasoline) to 1.4-liter (88 horsepower on alcohol, 85 on gasoline.) Transmission? No fancy CVT or DSG here: the Uno gets a proper 5-speed manual.
GALLERY: Fiat Uno
That series is the Cayman Interseries, established in 2009 by Napleton Porsche of Illinois. It’s sanctioned by Historic Sportscar Racing (HSR) and is currently in its first full season. Like the Ferrari Challenge, a central organization (in this case, Napleton Porsche) supplies the 320-horsepower Cayman S models, as well as prepares them for racing and brings them to each track.
Check out the series website here, and enjoy video from round two at Road Atlanta after the jump.
Justin Timberlake as an IT specialist: worst idea ever? Audi apparently doesn’t feel the same way we do. We feel that nothing can come close to BMW’s The Hire series of Internet films, the other German luxury car maker seems to think that putting an ex-N’Sync member behind the wheel of an A1 to “save a life” will sell more cars. The series is called The Next Big Thing.
Here’s the synopsis, straight from Audi:
“Justin Timberlake is John Frank, a straight-laced IT specialist. He meets the mysterious Toni, played by Dania Ramirez. John can save her life. More is revealed in steps – that’s the idea. The tension builds until the finale – the final episode. There’s never a dull moment between episodes on the Internet, either. Interactive elements provide secrets, details and background about each episode: users get to know the characters, see the film from unusual perspectives, and flashbacks fill in the plot.”
Right. If you’re so inclined, you can view each episode here. And the reasoning behind the films?
“The timing for the film was not chosen at random, as you will be able to order the A1 soon,” said Peter Schwarzenbauer, Audi Board Member for Marketing and Sales. “The film is action-packed and entertaining, perfectly suited to the young target group of our A1. At the same time the movie provides kind of a virtual test drive: it shows skillful handling, technical refinement and presents the self-assured design of the A1.”
It could be worse: they could try and promote the car using an iPhone app. Oh. Wait. That totally happened. My bad.
See part 1 of 6 after the jump. And just a reminder, you can’t buy an A1 if you live in North America – because we’re not getting it.
What’s faster, greener, has more traction, and cheaper to run than a “normal” Fiat 500 Abarth? Well, the title of this post and photo have given away the answer.
What does Atomik Cars do for you that Fiat doesn’t? First, they install some lithium ion batteries into the cuter-than-Hello Kitty Fiat 500. Then they install two electric motors, with direct drive to each wheel — making it all-wheel-drive. To top it off? Full carbon fiber bodywork. Oh yes. Zero to 60 is gone in 5.6 seconds, and top speed is just above 110 mph.
The body kit is cool, but we’d buy it only for its retro-look alloy wheels.
Price? How much do you think a limited-run (only 50 will be made) hand built all-electric carbon fiber car goes for these days? In a word: more money than would fit inside the 500.
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This idea treads dangerously close to our idea of a “hipster hitchhiking” app that combines GPS, iPhones, and gold leggings — currently in beta testing — but still, using your phone to find a ride to work is a brilliant idea.
Provided there are people who are going the same way and aren’t creeps, of course. This free RideRemedy app (for the first three months) doesn’t reveal the email addresses or phone numbers of those using the program. After three months of carpooling, the program costs $4.99 per year — with ten per cent of the proceeds going to organizations intent on improving the environment.
Other features include:
- • Find a ride, create a car pool, share a cab, reduce your carbon footprint and save time and money while doing so.
- • Privacy: RideRemedy does not share phone numbers or email addresses with other ride sharers.
- • Utilize in-app text messaging. Incur no additional costs for contacting ride sharers within the RideRemedy application.
- • Obtain just-in-time matches or post your ride weeks in advance.
- • Calculate dollar savings and CO2 emission reduction for each ride.
- • Set variable time and distance preferences for finding matches.
- • Share rides anywhere in the world that your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch has data service.
If you’re so inclined, head over to the iTunes Store and try it out.
No, somebody’s mother didn’t take her Halloween costume a little too far. The Bavarian Police, presumably unaware of the correlation between shopping bags and the BMW X3, are testing a version of the soft roader for highway duty.
The model in question is the X3 xDrive30d — complete with a stonking 218 horsepower six-cylinder diesel engine. Aside from that incredible powerplant, the X3 is adorned with enough LED lights to make an Audi jealous. From its hidden lights in the front bumper, to the rear hatch light show, you’d see this Bavarian cream puff a mile away.
Which is probably the point. That said, the last time we were on the autobahn, we were averaging just under 120 mph — in a diesel MINI — with half the horsepower. Maybe that weakling patrol car X3 isn’t so useless after all…
GALLERY: BMW X3 Police Cruiser
And here we thought our Nintendo NES (yes, the gray original one) was the best gaming system since sliced bread. Actually, this author one of the few people to have completely finished Gran Turismo 4…like three years ago. Heck, the Nissan GT-R was still a concept back then!
That GT5 has been such a wait is no surprise. But news that the latest will have support for 3D televisions makes us want to, um, cry. See, it’ll look amazing and everything, but we were happy with RC Pro-Am on our NES. We never even bought a steering wheel for our Playstation, but now we have to buy 3D glasses?
So much for impressing dates.
That said, even if you don’t have a 3D TV — or don’t plan on buying one — the new Gran Turismo has hundreds of cars, models from Ferrari and Lamborghini, and tracks from around the world (including our favourite, Tsukuba.) If the closest race track is too far away, this new sim may be the next best thing.
Click over the jump to watch the interview where 3D is confirmed.
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Ok, so this is an ad. Obviously. And if you’re watching it, you might just be the sort of sucker for clever marketing that Volkswagen is hoping you are, which means they’d also like you to sign up to follow the company’s latest character, Sluggy Patterson, on Twitter.
How is this news? First, we love a good game of Punch Buggy. Second, we think it’s the first time an automotive company has made an ad featuring violence caused by the brand. Third, it’s sort of funny.
While we can’t say we have anyone in our immediate family who acts like Sluggy, we can certainly relate — which is just what Deutsch, Volkswagen’s new ad agency, is hoping to capitalize on.
K-Pop, Kimchi, and…Camaro? From 2011, Korean customers will be able to pick up a slice of Americana like the Camaro, alongside more conventional Chevrolet offerings.
The announcement was made at the Busan International Motor Show, by GM Daewoo Auto & Technology President Mike Arcamone.
“According to our market research, half of all Koreans are familiar with the brand and more than 80 percent are aware of Chevrolet’s distinctive logo,” said Arcamone. “This is indicative of the positive brand image that already exists among consumers in Korea toward Chevrolet. We see tremendous upside with its introduction.”
Chevrolet vehicles will be sold alongside GM Daewoo offerings, and Chevrolet will not be replacing the Korean Daewoo brand.
It may seem like a strange fit, but the country has taken to an earlier American pastime – baseball — becoming one of the leading nations in talent. Baseball is the country’s largest spectator sport, so we don’t think it’ll be strange if Koreans start coveting muscle cars.
The last parking garage we have a vivid memory of was in Detroit. In January. You can imagine how idyllic the setting was, with rotting concrete and whirring trash presiding over a dusty view of the city’s crumbling skyline.
Things can be different, it seems. In Miami, Florida, head over to the structure at 1111 Lincoln Road, where it seems — finally — that parking isn’t an afterthought. Swiss designers Herzog & de Meuron were entrusted to create a building that presented a unique shopping, dining, residential and parking experience for Miami’s residents and visitors.
300 spaces are in artfully arranged, with shopping, restaurants — including one on the roof! — that take advantage of the incredible design and stunning views of the city that the location afforded.
If all parking structures looked like this, we’d complain less about the high fees — and maybe spend more time in the area, leaving our car to soak up the view. Click over to Dezeen to view some incredible photos of the property.
GALLERY: 1111 Lincoln Road by Herzog & de Meuron
It says something about our society when we get all excited about a new police car. Jaguar wades into this hotly-contested arena in the UK — sorry Alabama! — as one of the sort-of cool police cars.
Seven are on the beat right this moment, in Staffordshire, Mercia, and the West Midlands — and other than the day glo stickers, light bar, and “Home Office” electronics, they’re standard.
Just for fun, click on to see a clip of a UK police show — things really are different over there.
GALLERY: Jaguar XF Police Cruiser
The two German luxury carmakers have a history of one-upmanship with regards to advertising, and we’re not surprised given the highly competitive, put-LEDs-on-everything segment.
We wonder how Audi will respond…may we suggest hiring the stunt driving team from Ronin and jumping an S8 over the BMW dealership? If you don’t know what we’re on about, check out the video after the jump…
See, the new 9-5 Aero is one hot piece of Swedish luxury sedan, with just enough Born From Jets / Northern Europe detailing to make us forget most of it is from General Motors. Saab has updated its website with a new configurator that not only lets you play around with color and wheel options (no trim options just yet) — but lets you watch a whack of cool design videos featuring a smartly-dressed man.
If that’s not enough to get you excited about the at-least-$50,000 sedan, here are some more details: it’ll hit U.S. dealers in July, starting with the Aero sedan. The base price of $49,990 includes a 2.8L turbocharged V6 engine with 300 horsepower and 295 ft-lbs of torque, plus Saab’s ecellent XWD all-wheel-drive system. In 2011, a four-cylinder variant will be introduced, with pricing slipping under $40,000.
While technically not about Cadillac themselves, it is about the future of where the company wants to take the brand. In order to appeal to more tech-savvy (read: younger) buyers, the automaker has partnered with Cool Hunting to deliver a feature and style-rich application for the Apple iPad.
Other than the fact we’re in love with the music over the demonstration — 1901 by Phoenix — and the overall impression is of a slick, easy-to-use application that dovetails perfectly with where Cadillac sees their future buyers.
If you’re into this sort of thing, check out the post regarding the challenges design house BBH Labs faced when developing the app.
It works in conjunction with Subaru’s new “pre-collision braking control” system — if the cameras detect an object or person in danger of being mowed down, an alarm will sound to warn the driver. If the driver is an idiot and does nothing, the car will try to stop itself. If the speed difference is below 18.5 mph, the car can stop itself — any faster and the braking system will try to reduce the force of the impact.
We suppose that’s the cool tech. The less-than-flashy technology Subaru also introduced is brake assist, which provides additional boost for the braking system in a panic stop. It’ll be available in Japan next month, and we’ll likely see it in North America on the first refresh of the Legacy / Outback twins.
One of the most famous YouTube videos in the last year has got to be the “Worst parking job ever,” a clip ran by news channel CP24 after a BMW X5 drove over two parked cars at a Newmarket, Ontario gym.
We weren’t sure an X5 could drive over anything, until 62-year-old Tripta Kaushal showed us how it’s done —thanks to hidden camera surveillance footage.
Thankfully, the police caught up to her, and after pleading guilty was given a small $500 fine, ordered to pay restitution to the two victims, six months probation, and banned from driving between the hours of 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.
We’ve embedded the original clip after the jump, as well as Hyundai Canada’s response — see, the blue car is an Elantra GT, and the owner of that wrecked car was given a brand new Elantra Touring in the aftermath.
Sweet deal, and we may just hire Kaushal to run Dakar for us next year…
See after the jump for the original video:
Surely, being part of a much smaller company affords Land Rover employees certain…perks. Other than a company blog (rare for an automaker), it seems the U.K.-based off-road specialists also allow employees like Andrew Polsinelli, general manager of product planning for Land Rover North America to say things that would have been censored in a larger company.
In a blog post entitled: “Terrain Response or Terrain Management — Remember where it was invented,” Polsinelli begins by saying: “Naturally we’re flattered that our friends at Ford are planning to mimic Land Rover’s award-winning Terrain Response system for their upcoming 2011 Ford Explorer…”
Ruh-roh! But wait, there’s more. “You may have seen a new video that’s making the rounds on YouTube where Todd Hoevener, New Explorer Vehicle Dynamics Manager, is extolling the virtues of the Explorer’s new Terrain Management System. We would expect the Explorer’s system will work well; after all, Todd’s boss, Jim Holland, the Chief Engineer, Explorer Platform Program, spent three years working at Land Rover in the U.K. as Chief engineer for Range Rover.”
Zing! And what would a piece of feature marketing be without a subtle game of one-upmanship?
“But while appearing to be similar in concept…to custom-tune the engine and drivetrain to provide maximize traction — it won’t have the six years of sophistication and refinements of Land Rover’s Terrain Response system.”
After the jump is Ford’s official Terrain Management System video:
Driving on the longest ice road in the world isn’t exactly a piece of ice cream cake, even for a normal car. But in a solar car that uses as much power as your toaster?
So excuse us for interrupting you regularly scheduled new car news to bring you an inspiring story. Recently, Marcelo Da Luz and his XOF1 solar car made the trip from Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories, Canada, covering 111 miles (180km) over the frozen Mackenzie River and Arctic Ocean.
Marcelo’s (self-financed!) car is a marvel — it can accelerate from zero to 50 mph (85km/h) in 6 seconds, drive distances of 130 miles (200km) at night or 300 miles (483km) on a bright sunny day. It is also the world distance record holder for solar vehicles, at 22,180 miles (35,700 km), is the first solar car to operate below freezing temperatures, drive on an ice road, and reached the Arctic Circle…twice.
You can view the CBC National video report on his incredible ice road journey, or a video about the project after the jump.
Let’s get this right out in the open: Why do the Swedes get all the fun? How awesome is this Volvo C30 “Performance Concept” prototype? It packs a 405 horsepower and 376 ft-lbs turbocharged 5-cylinder T5 motor (similar to the one used in the Ford Focus RS500), all-wheel-drive, front-and-rear limited slip differentials, Öhlins suspension components, Brembo brakes, and, yeah…you get the idea.
The body kit is similar to the one used on the — defending champion — Polestar Racing STCC (Swedish Touring Car Championship) C30 race car. Polestar Racing is the official partner of Volvo Cars in the STCC and is used to winning on the track. Polestar Performance Power Operations is an aftermarket line of upgrades sold through the Volvo dealer network — and it appears they’ve applied a bunch of their tricks here.
It’ll be unveiled in full at the Gothenburg Motorshow, held from April 22-25 2010.
Full specs (in slightly broken English) and a video of the heavenly-sounding Polestar Racing STCC Volvo C30 embedded after the jump!
Sometimes, life as an auto enthusiast gets a little bleak. Between things like Cash for Clunkers, increasingly tight emissions standards, and increasingly complex (not to mention driver defeating) new cars, it’s easy to forget there are still people out there who love the automobile.
This short (2 minute) film focuses on a group of Honda enthusiasts, the FF Squad, on a trip to the Buttonwillow race track in California. The first part of a series, the film (embedded after the jump) centers around a pack of drivers who are incredibly passionate about their machines.
A few takeaways from the film: the group advocates taking your machine to the track, something we wholeheartedly enjoy. (Though, unlike one driver in the film, don’t shuffle-steer — ever — in a car.) The second takeaway? You may get an incredible desire to browse used Honda Civics for sale.
Don’t say we didn’t warn you. Video after the jump.
Tech addicts, the 2011 Ford Fiesta may be your next car. (Just as long as you don’t own an Apple iPhone, ’cause it’s not supported yet.) SYNC, the in-car technology platform developed by Microsoft in partnership with Ford, will soon allow for third-party cell phone applications to be controlled by voice commands and in-car controls.
Forget the fact that no other automaker is even close to offering such integration, Sync AppLink will be on production vehicles this year. AppLink works — at launch — on Android and BlackBerry phones, with titles such as Pandora Internet radio, Stitcher “smart radio”, and Orangatame’s Twitter client OpenBeak available.
“The growth in smartphone mobile apps has been explosive, and Ford has worked hard to respond at the speed of the consumer electronics market,” said Doug VanDagens, director of Ford’s Connected Services Organization. “SYNC is the only connectivity system available that can extend that functionality into the car. AppLink will allow drivers to control some of the most popular apps through SYNC’s voice commands and steering wheel buttons, helping drivers keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.”
Once developers realize they can help distract drivers while on the road, this list is sure to grow exponentially. May we suggest an in-car fart app that can deliver a disgusting noise through a speaker closest to the intended victim?