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.
French automaker Citroën may be struggling but it ain’t dead. The beret-wearing brand will reveal a new concept vehicle called the Cactus at next week’s vehicular blowout in Frankfurt.
Top 10 Most Important Cars You’ve Never Heard Of
Everyone’s heard of the Ford Model T and Toyota Prius. They’re two of the most significant – and best-known – vehicles produced by the automotive industry. Introduced at opposite ends of the last century they were each revolutionary in their own way, bringing about important changes that shaped the car business for years to come. But if you believe that’s the limit of automotive innovation think again.
There are literally dozens of other pioneering products that have changed the landscape of the car business – at least 10 of them in fact – some of which you’ve probably never even heard of. Take flight like an eagle and allow your friends at AutoGuide to introduce you to a goddess, and so much more.
Bertrand Delanoë, mayor of Paris, is angling to ban cars built before 1997 and motorcycles more than 10 years old.
It might sound like an oxymoron to hear Toyota iQ City Racer, with its 1.3L VVT-i engine pumping out the ever-so massive 98-hp. But that’s not going to stop Toyota from releasing a limited edition iQ aimed at the French market with some sporty aesthetic modifications.
Only 300 units of the iQ City Racer will be produced with several color choices to choose from: Orange Tabasco, Red, Pearl White or Gray Aluminum. To give it the good ‘ol race-inspired look, contrasting racing stripes are added on the vehicle along with new mirror covers, a rear skirt with a black chrome exhaust tip, tinted windows, some imitation carbon fiber elements, City Racer graphics and 16-inch black wheels.
The limited edition City Racer will be available at €19,950 – about $26,000 based on today’s conversion rates – which might sound steep, but considering a Subway footlong is €5 in France rather than $5, we’re assuming it’s a fair price to ask out there in Europe.
GALLERY: Toyota iQ Racer
Dacia has taken quite a different approach in revealing its latest minivan, Lodgy. Rather than traveling the usual auto show circuit and looking pretty on rotating pedestals, a unique, race-prepped Dacia Lodgy has been made to compete in France’s ice rally series, the Trophée Andros, months before any information on the production model is available.
While the race-prepped Dacia Lodgy’s general proportions are likely very similar to the production version, the rally car is built upon a tubular chassis with a profile that sits lower and wider than its production variant. Power comes through a mid-mounted V6 engine good for 355-hp to all four wheels.
Expect the production Dacia Lodgy to debut at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show. No technical information yet, but a selection of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines will be offered, including the 1.5 dCi. Sources have also claimed that the people mover will offer both five passenger and seven passenger trims.
GALLERY: Dacia Lodgy
[Source: Left Lane News]
Discuss the Dacia at our Dacia Forum
One of the darkest days in motorsports is arguably June 11, 1955. On this day, at the Le Mans 24-hour race, on lap 35, Pierre Levegh’s Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR hit the back of Lance Macklin’s Austin-Healey 100 Special, and was sent flying into the crowds.
When all the smoke and dust cleared, 83 spectators had died and an additional 120 people were injured. Levegh had also lost his life in this tragic accident.
The damaged Austin-Healey was kept by the French authorities for 18-months, but was eventually returned to the Donald Healey Motor Company for repairs. Miraculously, this car returned to racing and it competed well into the 1960′s.
And now this infamous race car has found a new home. Bonhams Auction House has just sold this race car at their Weybridge Auction in Southern England, and despite the cars condition being described as a “barn find,” it still managed to fetch $1-million.
According to Bonhams, its last owner had bought the car in 1969, and it remained untouched until now.
In the world of motorsports, it’s nearly impossible for a new team to come out of the box and be competitive. So what is a novice group that is looking for success to do? Simple, partner with one of the most successful teams in the sport.
That is exactly what Toyota is doing by partnering up with ORECA Racing Group to take victory at the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Toyota has attempted a win at Le Mans before, but that very expensive effort bared no fruit. Having learned that they need help, the Japanese automaker has gone on to recruit the French team ORECA Racing, which has been competing at Le Mans for the past 35-years and have achieved the top podium step in each form of racing it has ever competed in.
At the announcement of this partnership, ORECA Racing’s President Hugues de Chaunac said; “It’s a very big day for ORECA. To be chosen by Toyota Motorsport GmbH is a huge reward for the work we’ve done in recent years. ORECA has proven its worth at the highest level of endurance racing, winning the 12 Hours of Sebring in 2011 and finishing three straight times in the top 5 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Thanks to its know-how, ORECA now has the opportunity to work with the biggest automobile manufacturer, and on a project that’s particularly interesting. We are proud to support Toyota Motorsport GmbH in this challenge and we’re looking forward to an exciting future.”
Toyota will provide the new hybrid-racing powertrain, while ORECA develops a new chassis to compete in the LMP1 class. Next year’s Le Mans will be the 80th installment of this race and will be held on June 16-17.
To further encourage French drivers to practice eco-consciousness, France’s minister of industry announced a plan to update the CO2 emission points system for new cars.
New cars sold in France are categorized into four tiers. The revision will provide a scaled reward system for vehicles that emit 104 grams of CO2 per kilometer or less. Vehicles that emit 91 to 103 grams of CO2 per kilometer will receive a small gift of 100€ ($137) while vehicles that emit 50 grams per kilo earn 5,000€ ($6,800). Neutral cars fall between 105 to 140 grams per kilometer and are neither rewarded nor penalized. However, cars that emit more than 140 grams per kilometer face a penalty of up to 3,600€ ($5,000). Finally, if a car emits more than 190 grams of CO2 per kilometer, than an extra annual fee of 160€ ($220) will be in place.
By setting up this system of incentives and penalties, France hopes to encourage buyers to choose cleaner cars. This system will take effect January 1st, 2012.
Marking the 20th anniversary of Mazda‘s victory in the world’s most demanding endurance race, the 24 Hour of Le Mans, Mazda has brought the winning Mazda 787B back from the dead.
Mazda’s 787B made history in 1991 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans by becoming the first Japanese car to win the event. It’s victory lap was also its last as after 1991, rotary engines could not participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Jonny Herbert, who was behind the wheel 20 years ago, donned his nomex and racing helmet once again to hit the track. Mazda racer and TV star Patrick Dempsey also got a chance behind the wheel. Watch videos of the outing, plus an overview video of the 787B car’s 20th anniversary celebration after the jump!
Audi fans will be able to get closer to all the race action for this year’s Le Mans by logging into the company’s internet channels.
On their Twitter and Facebook pages, you’ll be able to get real-time video and telemetry of the race as it happens, so fans can feel closer to the action, even if they weren’t able to travel to France in time for this weekend’s race. Fans can tune into www.twitter.com/Audi__Sport and www.facebook.com/AudiSport to get all the action. Plus the free “Audi Sport” iPhone app will offer a live ticker.
Audi is campaigning three all-new R18 TDI’s this year, a car that has shown much promise in testing, and given Audi’s prominence in this sport, they are the favorites to take another victory this year. The drivers running in car number “1” are last year’s winners Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Mike Rockenfeller. Car number “2” is driven by Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer. In car number “3” Dindo Capello, Le Mans record winner Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish are taking turns at the wheel.
For those who prefer to watch the race action on television, Speed TV will be broadcasting nearly 24-hours of this race live.
FIA President Jean Todt will drop the flag at 3 p.m. (France local time) this Saturday to start this year’s event. Watch it love here: http://www.audi-microsites.com/lemans/
Marking the 20th anniversary of Mazda‘s victory in the world’s most demanding endurace race, the 24 Hour of Le Mans, Mazda has brought the winning Mazda 787B back from the dead.
Since winning in 1991, the Mazda 787B has been on display at the Mazda Museum in Horishima, Japan. The car has been carefully restored since its last 1991 post race overhaul, to open for the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans. The 79th annual race begins Saturday June 11 at 3 p.m. Additionally, the 787B will also take part in the Driver’s Parade through the Le Mans City center on Friday 10.
The 787B was powered by a four-rotor rotary engine that produced 700-hp. The 787B was the first and only Japanese car to win the 24 Hour of Le Mans. After 1991, rotary engines could not participate in the 24 Hour of Le Mans.
As part of the 20th anniversary celebrations, members of the 1991 Mazda team will also return to Le Mans. The winning driver Johnny Herbert (England) will be joined by 1991 Mazda drivers David Kennedy (Ireland), Pierre Dieudonné (Belgium) and other team members.
Gallery: Mazda 787B
Never one for subtlety, Kanye West was spotted in Cannes, France, driving the absolutely belligerent Mercedes-Benz SLR Stirling Moss edition.
With no windscreen or roof, the SLR Stirling Moss is definitely a sunny day kind of car, and luckily the weather held up for Yeezy, who is doubtlessly clad in couture that costs more than a Hyundai Accent.
Good thing he’s wearing sunglasses too, since the sub 3.5 second 0-60 time is sure to impair your vision. With a limited run of 75 cars and a price tag of $1.06 million, this car is strictly for people of Kanye’s means, and separates the true ballers from the S550 driving plebeian MCs.
[Source: Celebrity Cars Blog]
Ever wanted to travel through the wine region of France with your friends in a gaggle of rare, expensive Ferraris? If you day dream about such stuff, not to worry, you are not alone, and now thanks to two companies combining their resources, it can come true.
DrivingXllence a supercar adventure touring company, and Risi Competizione which races Ferrari competition cars in the American LeMans Series are pooling their vast resources together to offer customers the ultimate road trip, featuring five Ferrari’s, namely the 458 Italia, 599GTB, F430 Scuderia, California Spider, and even the rare and out-of-production 575 SuperAmerica.
The program will involve driving through five French cities on the way to this years Le Mans 24-hour race. You will stay in five-star hotels, get special VIP grandstands for the race, plus available helicopter rides over the historic race track.
So if you tempted by this adventure, call DrivingXllence at 1.855.XLLENCE or visit their website for more information.
Renault is admitting that is wrongfully dismissed three executives accused of corporate espionage, saying it has found no evidence to support the allegations made.
Carlos Ghosn, Renault’s CEO, met with the three and promised compensation for their erroneous termination. Renault had accused the executives of holding illicit bank accounts in Switzerland and Lichtenstein, but their claim was contradicted by authorities in both countries. Renault is now investigation potential fraud related to another employee.
“At this stage we do not know whether we are dealing with just fraud or a deliberate attempt to destabilize Renault,” Paris Chief Prosecutor Jean-Claude Marin said. “If there was any espionage it was not carried out through the networks identified by Renault.”
[Source: Automotive News]
Iranian dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sold his 1977 Peugeot 504 at a chairty auction for $2.5 million, according to MSNBC. Ahamdinejad will use the proceeds to fund a low-income housing project meant for families.
“President Ahmadinejad’s Peugeot 504 was sold for 2.5 billion tomans ($2.5 million) to an Iranian who took part in the auction,” ISNA news agency said. According to local media, many of the bids came from America, but the winning bidder, an Iranian, will reportedly house the car in a specially built museum.
Ahmadinejad has rarely used to car since becoming leader of Iran in 2005. The Peugeot 504 would normally sell for about $2,000 on the open market in Iran.
World War II jokes aside, the French and the Germans are joining forces this time…and for powers of good. BMW and PSA Peugeot Citroën plan to invest 100 million Euros and the efforts of 400 employees into developing hybrid technology, to be shared by both brands.
The program, excitingly titled “BMW Peugeot Citroën Electrification,” will be based in both Munich, Germany, and Mulhouse, France. The program will add over 100 new engineering jobs to the two cities and will focus on hybrid components such as battery packs, E-machines, generators, power electronics, chargers, and software.
“As responsible carmakers, we aim to create an open European platform and foster the development of European standards for hybrid technologies,” said Philippe Varin, Chairman of the Managing Board of PSA Peugeot Citroën. “This joint venture will also enable us to develop advanced technological manufacturing expertise in Europe in the field of electric powertrains, and to retain all its potential for creating value.”
This is not the first time BMW and PSA Peugeot Citroën have worked together; in 2002, the two companies developed and built four-cylinder engines for MINI, Peugeot and Citroën cars. And in 2010, they worked on a replacement four-cylinder engine that will meet new EU 6 emissions requirements.
The program is scheduled to start at the end of 2011, and we can expect to see hybrid-equipped BMWs, Peugeots and Citroëns in 2014.
If you still think that matte black paint jobs are just a fad, think again. MINI has decided to release a limited edition factory package that can be added onto any Cooper variant, turning it from a hip, trendy little car to a stealthy and sleek trendy little car. Dubbed the Mat Edition, MINI will be limiting the package to 250 vehicles – except they’ll only be available in France.
For a little over $3,800 extra, the Mat Edition MINI receives the matte black paint job accented with checkered mirror covers. Each unit will also be numbered on the side air intakes and on the lucky owner’s key ring.
Owners will be able to add the Mat Edition package to the standard Cooper, Cooper D or Cooper S John Cooper Works.
All said, it’s not a bad deal, considering what some manufacturers charge for pearl paint (even as a standard color), and we’re digging the move by MINI to offer a matte finish from the factory. Then again, a wrap-job could give you the same result and save you a few grand.
It’s often referred to as the ‘City of Lights,’ but it seems that France’s capital is taking a somewhat less enlightened approach when it comes to motorists.
Government officials in Paris are proposing a series of regulations that would try to ban, or at least, heavily inconvenience owners of said vehicles and what is termed older, high polluting diesel cars and trucks that enter the city center.
However, actual details of the plan, including the specific types of targeting, the areas and hours of zone enforcement, along with fees and charges, have still yet to be determined.
Given the current high profile the issue of pollution enjoys, relative to perceived environmental concerns, vehicle emissions and cars with large engines or physically larger dimensions have been a frequent political target for law makers in Europe.
However, trying to enforce such laws can prove highly complex, if not impossible, since vehicle usage is generally a more accurate purveyor of true emissions output, rather than the type or size of vehicle.
However, during a broadcast with French Radio Station RTL last year, the deputy mayor of Paris, Denis Beaupain, went as far as stating; “I’m sorry, but in a city, having a sport utility vehicle makes no sense. Sell it and buy a vehicle more compatible with city life.”
Others are taking a more balanced view. Francois Roudier, vice president for communications at the Paris based CCFA (Comite des Constructeurs Francais) said, in reference to banning certain types of vehicles, especially old diesels; categorizing what constitutes such vehicles is “very hard to define.” M. Roudier also says such programs are inherently politically motivated and often unfair; they simply end up hurting poorer members of society who can’t afford to purchase new cars.
French automakers have stated they are willing to discuss the proposals with lawmakers though admit that at present, specifics are still to vague for serious comment.
Paris currently has some of the worst traffic jams in Europe, with drivers losing up to 70 hours of time a year in gridlock, but in France as a whole, small diesel cars predominate the auto market by a wide margin, whereas genuine SUVs represent a very small fraction of total vehicles sales (largely because of existing tax regulations and high MSRP costs).
Therefore, such a ban as proposed by the city government, even if it does materialize, is likely to have very little effect on reducing pollution.
[Source: The New York Times]
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is set to auction off his 1977 Peugeot 504 to help raise funds for a new low-income housing project.
A statement released by the Iranian government said that, “In order to help the Mehr housing project, as an act of charity yesterday (Sunday) Mr Ahmadinejad put his car up for sale.”
Ahamdenijad is known for his image as a common man and friend of Iran’s poor, but most famous for his frequent homophobic and anti-semitic tirades in front of world leaders.
Peugeots have been locally built in Iran for a number of years, and the brand enjoys strong sales throughout the Middle East.
Abarth, Fiat’s in-house tuner, launched two new vehicles at the 2010 Paris Auto Show, both which feature the optional “esseesse” kits that give the cars a modest power boost.
The Abarth 500C Esseesse is the most powerful version of Fiat’s 500 hatchback, and Abarth introduced a convertible version based on the 500C as a companion to the fixed roof model. Specs remain the same, with 160 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque from its 1.4L turbo engine. 0-60 time is 7.6 seconds, with a top speed of 129 mph.
The larger Punto Evo esseessse gets 180 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque, but most move a bit more metal, giving it nearly identical performance figures. The Punto hits 60 in 7.5 seconds and tops out at 134 mph.
The esseesse kits feature some neat enhancements, beyond the tuned air filter and muffler systems. Seatbelts are now made by renowned racing equipment manufacturer Sabelt, and the GPS system has a built in telemetry system by Magnetti Marelli, the same company that makes data loggers and electronic equipment for Ferrari.
Gallery: Abarth Punto Evo
Gallery: Abarth 500C
A couple decades ago, Toyota decided to launch their upcoming MR2 sports car in Europe. The MR2 was a good car on its own, but Toyota had a bit of a marketing blunder on its hands when they discovered that MR2 was pronounced “mere-deux” in French, which is similar to merde a not so nice word for doo-doo.
25 years later, Audi looks set to make the same mistake with their upcoming range of electric vehicles, branded as e-Tron. It turns out in French, the word etron is synonymous with merde in the same way that “crap” is to “s**t”.
We’re not really sure what Audi can do about this, having already established e-Tron as a brand in much of the world. Perhaps they’ll create a new moniker for the French market, but it’s a little shocking that with continental European countries in such close proximity, we’re a little surprised that this linguistic oversight went forward.
[Source: Green Car Reports]