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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.
 |  Jan 16 2012, 12:45 PM

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To say there’s a strong tuner car culture for hybrids in Japan might be a bit too generous. Oh, there’s no doubt the Japanese love to modify the cars, but perhaps the term “customization” is more accurate.

At this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon there was the usual selection of Prius model with wild bodykits and big wheels. And while most take a step towards the extreme, the Lumiere Prius Hybrid Interceptor police car still looks pretty mean. At the opposite end of the we’d-drive-it spectrum is the DAD Prius v, complete with oversized wheels blinged out with Swarovski crystals.

Along with conventional Prius models, the aftermarket has expanded to include the new additions to the Prius family, like the Prius v wagon and even the smaller Prius c.

See all the cars below:

Continue Reading…

 |  Nov 01 2011, 12:35 PM

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After taking the championship in the Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge street tuner challenge this year, Kia is announcing further commitments to the world of motorsports.

In addition to the 2012 Rio B-Spec racer, built by Kia Racing and Kinetic Motorsports, Kia has unveiled an Optima Hybrid pace car for the United States Touring Car Championship. The Optima, built by GoGoGear.com, actually replaces the modified Soul that severed last year.

It may be a hybrid, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring, already deliver over 200-hp in stock form the car gets a Magnaflow exhaust system and air intake kit. So it’s not sloppy when out on parade laps the car also gets a coilover suspension, and looks the part with a new aero kit (including front splitter and rear spoiler), plus the usual light bars. And no SEMA car would be a SEMA car without an over-the-top 2400-watt Infintiy audio system.

Look for the Optima Hybrid Safety Car to first hit the track at the USTCC in March of 2012.

GALLERY: Kia Optima Hybrid USTCC Safety Car

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See AutoGuide’s complete 2011 SEMA Show coverage here.

 |  Feb 02 2011, 9:31 PM

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Modifying hybrids has turned into a solid market out in Japan, and one of the oldest aero kit designers has joined in on the fun. In the late 1990s, C-West had immersed itself into the American market with its popular Honda and Acura body kits but recently the buzz for C-West’s infamous styling had subsided. We did report last year in April that C-West would be developing a kit for the CR-Z and now we’re finally able to enjoy the finished (and real) product.

C-West is offering two different front ends for the hybrid CR-Z; one which is a front half spoiler (add-on lip) and the other being a full bumper replacement that sports traditional C-West styling. Fitting with either front end is a pair of side skirts and a rear half spoiler that makes the CR-Z quite a bit more aggressive.

In addition to the four piece body kit, C-West also offers a rear spoiler and a hood for the CR-Z.

Overall the CR-Z market is shaping up to be very attractive – perhaps it’ll do a better job than the Fit did in bringing Honda back to becoming popular among the sport compact enthusiasts.

GALLERY: C-West Honda CR-Z

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[Source: Farm of Minds]

Read AutoGuide’s 2011 Honda CR-Z Review Here

 |  Jan 14 2011, 9:12 AM

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Hybrids are increasingly becoming the car of choice in Japan and as a result the country that’s responsible for popularizing electrified motoring is also the Mecca for hybrid tuning.

Yes, some performance shops are working on adding more power to hybrid systems, but as with the rest of the auto industry, the majority of tuning is dedicated areas outside the engine bay. And with the Prius being the best selling car in Japan, it’s the one that gets the most attention.

Built by Toyota‘s motorsports partner Gazoo Racing, the Prius G Sports Concept is a look at a future sports package that the company is considering. Debuting at the Tokyo Auto Salon, the modifications are minimal and look to consist of a set of 18-inch wheels to improve handling and an aero kit.

Toyota won’t say for sure, but look for this kit or perhaps a full production model based on this car to launch in Japan in the coming months.

GALLERY: Toyota Prius G Sports Concept

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 |  Nov 02 2010, 1:15 PM

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It may look a little a lot over the top, but beneath all that wild bodywork the C&A Custom Concept Toyota Prius is actually pretty cool. That may be hard to believe, but what if we told you almost the entire body of the car (excluding the doors) was crafted of light weight carbon fiber. The benefits are twofold, reducing the car’s weight significantly for improved acceleration (and braking, and handling), while also helping improve fuel economy further.

While the custom bodywork with extra-custom additions like a “translucent rear side spoiler, styled exhaust tip and front and rear lighted Toyota badging” might get the most attention, we should point out the attention paid towards making this car handle. To do so, it features 18-inch forged aluminum wheels with aluminum aero rings, while a TIEN suspension drops the car 4-inches up front and 6-inches in the rear.

Interior modifications include a black Alcantara headliner, A and B pillars, door trim and rear seat, while the steering wheel and shift knob are also coated in the grippy fabric. Several high-tech displays measure everything from electric output to a G meter.

As far-out as this concept is, we have to think carbon fiber will increasingly play a role in high-mileage vehicles like the Prius in the future.

GALLERY: Toyota Prius C&A Custom Concept

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GALLERY: Toyota Prius C&A Custom Concept at SEMA

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Official release after the jump:

Continue Reading…

 |  Nov 01 2010, 8:41 PM

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Technically the SEMA Show doesn’t start until tomorrow but thanks to our spies inside we have these snap shots of just what potential Honda‘s new CR-Z has. The Honda Performance Development CR-Z Racer looks like a true racing machine and likely is with a fully stripped-down body, a lowered suspension, functional aero and some big 17-inch wheels with meaty racing slicks.

But the truly exciting mods are found under the hood, where Honda strapped a Borg Warner turbo to the 1.5-liter 4-cylinder to pump out 175-hp and 155 ft-lbs of torque. But that’s not all, Honda also rejigged the Integrated Motor Assist hybrid setup to produce added power that’s available with a Indy Car styled push-to-pass button. When pressed, the CR-Z makes a total of 200-hp and 175 ft-lbs of torque.

Other mods include an LSD and some big brake upgrades.

Hopefully Honda is serious about taking this car racing and we’ll be at the press conference tomorrow to find out.

GALLERY: Honda Performance Development CR-Z Racer

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Hit the jump to view Honda’s SEMA Press conference:

Continue Reading…

 |  Oct 29 2010, 1:25 PM

If the SEMA Show stands for anything, it’s that the aftermarket industry is as much about style as it is about performance. That being said, Lexus has decided to showcase its lineup of hybrid models at the world’s largest aftermarket expo next week.

Several tuners will will take part, including Fox Marketing, EST Styling and VIP Auto Salon, with tuner cars including the HS250h, LS600hL and an RX450h that will get such a wild transformation it will look like some of the modified BMX X6 M cars we’ve seen lately.

Also of note is a GS450h built by 0-60 Magazine outfitted to look like a genuine touring car, with Volk wheels, Tein suspension a massive spoiler and aggressive aero kit.

And let’s not forget the most attractive Lexus to the tuner-set, the new CT200h. Lexus will test the market at SEMA with a CT200h F-Sport Concept, featuring bigger wheels, wider tires, an upgraded braking kit and an F-Sport suspensions.

Oh, and because Lexus also loves horsepower, they’ll also have on hand a Pearl Gray version of its LFA supercar.

AutoGuide’s coverage of the 2010 SEMA Show starts Tuesday, November 2nd. Until then, check out our SEMA Preview here.

GALLERY: Lexus CT200h F-Sport Concept

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GALLERY: Lexus GS450 by 0-60 Magazine

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GALLERY:LS600h L by VIP Auto Salon

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GALLERY: RS450h by Paul Tolson of EST

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GALLERY: HS250h by VIP Auto Salon

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Official release after the jump:

Continue Reading…

 |  Sep 28 2010, 6:26 AM


For the first time ever, Lexus will offer a selection of F-Sport performance accessories for a hybrid model – the CT200h.

While it’s not designed to be a high-performance model, the CT is being billed as a driver’s hybrid; retaining the trademark Lexus ride quality while also offering a dynamic driving experience. And that’s just what a new line of F-Sport accessories for the CT are aimed at further enhancing.

As a part of a list of 17 accessories that include such mundane offerings as car covers and cargo nets, Lexus will offer a lowering spring and sway bar kit made by Toyota Racing Development (TRD). Lexus College National Manager Paul Williamsen did confirm that an upgraded brake system would not be offered, but didn’t comment on if other F-Sport accessories would be available. Items like an exhaust system are, however, unlikely due to the complex exhaust gas recirculation system used on the hybrid powerplant.

Additional accessories will include more stylish 17-inch wheels (17s are standard) as well as illuminated door sills.

Get more Lexus CT200h news and info at CT200hForums.com

 |  Jan 14 2010, 11:05 PM

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While many Japanese aftermarket tuners are taking on the newest models including many of them turning towards European applications, J’s Racing has stuck to what they know best: Hondas. The company’s booth wasn’t overwhelmingly large, but it was clear that J’s Racing is aware of the new Hybrid-tuning craze, displaying its own version of a tuned Insight, complete with light-weight RAYS wheels, an aero kit, lowered suspension and some nice Recaro seats inside. It even featured a unique combination of decals that gave it a widebody look.

Next to this Insight sat a car that represents the other extreme at Honda, the now out-of-production S2000. This model featured the J’s Racing widebody kit that is anything but subtle and has appeared on more than a few cars and more than a few magazine covers on this side of the Pacific.

GALLERY: J’s Racing Honda Insight and S2000

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 |  Jan 14 2010, 10:35 PM

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Seen at the booth of wheel manufacturer RAYS Engineering at the 2010 Tokyo Auto Salon was a nicely tuned Prius by ASI. Called the ASI Green Prius, this car is part of a new line of ASI tuning kits aimed at hybrid models. Currently it also includes a kit for the Honda Insight.

Sporting a green-accented Lexus badge, this Prius went through some pretty aggressive styling for a hybrid. Along with the aggressive front end, new side skirts and a small rear lip spoiler are plenty of carbon fiber accents and a nicely lowered stance.

This year’s Tokyo Auto Salon will undoubtedly be known for its excess hybrid tuning with every booth sporting a modified Toyota Prius of some sort. The ASI Green model was definitely one of the nicest we stumbled upon.

GALLERY: ASI Green Toyota Prius

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 |  Nov 05 2009, 7:06 PM

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Situated right across the isle from Honda’s official SEMA Show booth we found a modified Honda Insight at the ENEOS Oil booth. Owned by Insightcentral.net member Xtremeview, the car features a custom aero kit and a lowered suspension.

Other modifications include a set of Rays wheels with Yokohama Parada tires, a Tanabe exhaust and some Bride racing seats. The car also features a new audio system with light weight components that are also designed to use less power.

The project is based on the idea of blending high performance with efficiency. As cool as it may look, we have to admit, considering the reputation the Insight has earned, we’re not sure it’s the poster boy for either.

GALLERY: ENEOS Honda Insight

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 |  Sep 28 2009, 12:07 PM

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As the shift to environmentally-friendly vehicles continues, the aftermarket has begun to recognize this emerging market and begin catering to owners. Nowhere is this more evident than on the Toyota Prius’s home turf, Japan.

On his blog, Japanese tuning industry insider Ben Shaffer (owner of parts importer and tuning houses Bulletproof Automotive and Bespoke Ventures) is increasing awareness of this trend, while also lamenting it. Several well-known Japanese tuners have already taken to modifying both the Prius and Honda’s Insight, with both ASI and Tommy Kaira having recently released tuning packages for the former.

While a strong believer in environmentally responsible transportation, and in making those sorts of cars look cooler or even perform better, Shaffer indicates that according to his sources this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon will be half hybrids – with modified Nissan GT-Rs making up the rest of the show.

“I understand Eco is the future for the masses, but can we keep our sports cars too,” says Shaffer. “I thought the point was to have a sports car for the weekends and a Prius to daily drive. Lets keep it that way, keep the R&D coming on sports car tuning parts too please!”

Either way, it looks like hybrid tuning is here to stay and we’ll be sure to keep an eye on some of the new modification options from the Tokyo Auto Salon.

GALLERY: Tommy Kaira and ASI Tuned Priuses

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[Source: BespokeVentures]