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American stunt driver and Subaru USA Rally America driver Ken Block (left) is close to getting the call to the big leagues. AutoSport is reporting that Block is close to a deal with Ford that would seem him driving in the World Rally Championship (WRC), the world’s premiere rally car racing series.
The deal will reportedly see Block keep his Monster Energy Drink sponsorship from his Subaru days as he drives for Ford with team mate Chris Atkinson – another former Subaru driver. With both Ford and Block on board, the WRC series, which is immensely popular overseas, finaly has a chance at real fame in the lucrative North American market.
WRC marketing expert Simon Long described Block, who’s two viral YouTube Gymkhana videos have received tens of millions of views, as “an iconic figure in US motorsport and a major box office personality.” He also went on to say that, “It wouldn’t get much better than this for the WRC going into North America.”
The deal is reported to go through next month and will see Block sign on with Ford for three seasons, starting next year.
Sony has just released the first screen shots from the highly anticipated Gran Turismo 5 racing simulator for the company’s Playstation 3 system and they’re, well… just ok.
Sure the widebody Nissan NISMO GT-R from Japan’s Super GT series looks incredibly mean, but we wouldn’t mind seeing a few action shots. Although to be truthful, looking at pictures and playing the game are two completely different things, so we’ll wait to get our hands on the latest GT game before passing judgment.
We do have high hopes as Sony has announced a lineup of over 1,000 cars that actually get damaged! Another unique feature is the ability for users to automatically upload their favorite replay footage directly to YouTube – something we’re certain to loathe in the not-too-distant future. As though YouTube isn’t already overstocked with personal montages, replies or covers of what you’re actually looking for, now we have this. We’ll be cursing Sony when our search for “Nissan GT-R Nürburgring” turns up a few thousand CGI videos made by virtual Stigs. But I digress…
An official date for the release of Gran Turismo 5 has not been set.
GALLERY: First Gran Turismo 5 Screen Shots
Behind the Volkswagen badge on the front of the Routan minivan, everything else is pretty much standard Dodge Caravan/Chrysler Town & Country equipment. So why buy the VW?
The German automaker hopes the option of wireless internet will be enough to win over a few buyers, and they’re probably right. Thanks to Autonet Mobile, Routan passengers will be able to log on and check their Facebook, post Twitter updates or just waste away the hours on those long road trips by watching YouTube videos.
“Volkswagen is committed to delivering vehicles that epitomize and enhance our digital customers’ lifestyle, and the Routan is a modern family vehicle,” said Mark Barnes, Chief Operating Officer at Volkswagen of America. “Internet access is a clear benefit to our customers. We’re excited to work with Autonet Mobile to bring uconnect web to our Routan customers.”
“The Routan customer is looking for entertainment options beyond the traditional DVD player,” said Sterling Pratz, CEO of Autonet Mobile. “Consumers want to extend their living room lifestyle to the vehicle and want the ability to use internet-driven applications – gaming, email, IM, internet radio, and other entertainment and information services – while on the road. We’re thrilled to be a part of the revolution that is making the minivan the cool vehicle to own.”
The Routan with Wi-Fi is now available at Volkswagen’s 800 U.S. dealerships. Wi-Fi subscriptions start at $29 per month on top of an installation fee.
Official release after the jump:
Viva La Revolution
Ford kicked-off what it calls the “Fiesta Movement” yesterday when 140 new European-built Ford Fiestas were unloaded at ports in Baltimore and Oxnard, Calif.
The vehicles will be loaned out to young “trendsetters,” who will report on the vehicles using modern social networking sites like Facebook, Flickr and YouTube. Ford actually used YouTube to select the winners, asking those born between 1979 and 1985 to submit a video of why they should be chosen.
580,000 videos were submitted with 3,300 being reviews by Ford.
This bold marketing strategy is aimed at promoting the Festiva, which will go on sale in North American in 2010, by using younger buyers to speak to younger buyers (the Festiva’s target market).
“We’re really excited to be able to get our U.S. customers behind the wheel and experience this car,” said Sam De La Garza, Ford’s small car marketing manager. “It’s all part of a plan to build excitement about the new Fiesta with the next generation of Ford customers.”
The Fiesta is Ford’s first global car. It went on sale in Europe and Asia last year and is the second-best selling vehicle for Ford in Europe.
“In the midst of the toughest economy many of us have ever seen, the Fiesta is becoming a legitimate global success story,” said Jim Farley, Ford Group Vice President of Marketing and Communications. “The Fiesta Movement is all about introducing a new kind of small car to a new generation of buyers.”
The Fiesta models that hit U.S.-shores yesterday were built in Cologne, Germany (although North American vehicles will be manufactured in Ford’s Cuautitlan, Mexico plant), and have been modified with English instrumentation and include readouts in mph. All Fiesta Movement vehicles come with keyless entry with a push-button start, Ford’s EasyFuel Capless Fuel-Filler System and either 16- or 17-inch wheels.
Let the marketing onslaught begin. Or as they say at Ford, Viva La Revolution!
GALLERY: Fiesta Movement Begins
More on the Fiesta Movement after the jump