Archive for March 2013
The big three only have so many legendary nameplates they can reanimate from the glory days of the muscle car. Chevrolet played Camaro’s most valuable card this month with the reveal of the 2014 Z/28. If what Chevy says proves to be true, it won’t be the most powerful Camaro money can buy, but it will certainly be the fastest model they’ve ever built for the track that can be driven there from home.
The Nurburgring is the Mecca of the automotive world, and as of this month, it’s for sale. After going bankrupt last July, a state-appointed liquidator was appointed to sell the government-owned motorsports complex. Of an initial 50 interested buyers, no more than ten are still haggling over an asking price of roughly $161 million. News of the impending sale is leading auto enthusiasts throughout the world to fear a privatized Nurburgring will put a price tag on the track’s culture.
The Kardashian sisters are probably better poster girls for capitalism than feminine equality. That isn’t stopping them from considering legal action over an ad that featured them bound and gagged in the back of a Ford Figo. Paris Hilton smiles from the driver’s seat and a slogan reads “Leave your worries behind with the Figo’s extra-large boot”.
Former American Idol judge and Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler is no stranger to fast times. His lust for life extends to the road where he’ll now be able to feel the wind in his lips at 275mph. He recently purchased one of only five Hennessey Venom GTs produced last year for a cool $1.1 million. Before anyone questions what good could possibly come from Steven Tyler driving at close to 300mph, it should be noted that he uses his new toy to grab headlines for charity.
Ford is banking hard on their turbocharged EcoBoost engines to increase fuel-efficiency without sacrificing horsepower. Road and Track confirmed via an anonymous source this month the 2015 Mustang will feature a 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder, not only to save fuel but also to overpower the Stang’s current V6:
During a presentation at the IHS CERAWeek energy conference this month, General Motors CEO Dan Akerson made it clear GM is committed to making oil dependency an issue of the past. His announcement that GM is close to revealing a 200mile electric car was tempered with a warning: As he sees it, adopting a single gasoline alternative isn’t a smart move.
Extricating crash victims from an electric car is a real-life game of Operation, only with much, much more electricity. Both first responders and passengers are in danger of being exposed to high-voltage components that aren’t likely to let them off with a giddy tickle. Complicating matters further, the location of the danger points vary from vehicle to vehicle.
To continue doing their jobs safely, emergency crews now have to be trained on the model-specific anatomy of electric cars. For the sake of education, Tesla donated a sacrificial Model S to the Fremont Fire Department’s Jaws of Life recently.
They call him “The Punisher”. Born Alexei Volkov, the Russian bus driver is famous in the city of Zelenograd for ramming motorists that cut him off. Better yet, Volkov records the smash-ups with a dashboard camera to maintain his innocence. A compilation of the footage spliced together from his YouTube channel can be enjoyed here. If it doesn’t make you cheer for vigilante roadway justice you might be better off riding the Punisher’s bus.
As I write this, a prank video for Pepsi starring Jeff Gordon and a Chevrolet Camaro is approaching 31 million views on Youtube, two weeks after being posted. It doesn’t matter the whole thing was staged with actors, or that Jeff Gordon was replaced by a stunt driver. The scenario alone struck social media gold.
The hot new way to make an easy buck in Las Vegas isn’t at the slot machines, but on the highways. According to a recent report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, there have been nearly 100 suspected staged car accidents in and around Sin City in the past 12 to 28 months. Twenty five of the suspicious wrecks involved big-rigs. From the perspective of a car insurance fraud, causing an accident with an unsuspecting truck driver makes sense for two main reasons.
Well this is embarrassing. While topping off at an Israeli gas station today, President Barack Obama’s presidential limousine, known as the “Beast” was accidentally filled with diesel fuel instead of gasoline.
How about a Mexican supercar? Brothers Iker and Guillermo Echeverria are hoping their company VŪHLwill convince a number of people to do just that. Their upcoming performance machine dubbed the 05 will be unveiled during the 2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed this summer. A single teaser photo (shown above) is the only visual hint we’ve been given of the mystery-mobile thus far. In a statement, Iker Echeverria described his company’s vision for a prosperous future in the auto industry.
Subaru is built on all-wheel drive, boxer engines and a Northwest popularity that could probably get a Forrester elected to public office. Subie lovers should find it concerning the Japanese automaker has yet to dabble in the wave of hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles making their way to market. Until now, that is. The Viziv concept, revealed at the 2013 Geneva Auto show, is a definite sign the Japanese automaker is preparing to shake up their DNA.
Driving an electric car these days comes with a caveat you won’t find in the owner’s manual. Somewhere in the small print of the lease agreement a line reads: “By agreeing to these terms you accept guerilla public relations duties for electric vehicles everywhere.” During my loan of a Ford Focus Electric, literally everyone I spoke with about the car felt obligated to bring up a laundry list of reasons they thought electric cars would never catch on. Eventually I collapsed under the negativity and phoned Gil Portalatin, Ford Hybrid and Battery Electrification Systems expert for support.
Electric cars are a lot like Pit Bulls. No matter how many supportive things are said about them, they still frighten a good portion of the population. Still, under the right circumstances, driving an electric car is a realistic proposition for those willing to take a few concessions on the chin. Seattle for example, has developed an advanced charging infrastructure where early adopters can swear off gasoline completely. As a coffee-swilling member of the Emerald paradise, I tightened the Velcro straps on my sandals (to keep my socks up) and decided to see if I too could survive a week driving an electric car - a Ford Focus to be exact.
Ladies have a stranglehold on many aspects of society they don’t receive credit for. According to data from R.L. Polk and Co the next area of fem-domination could be at car dealerships. A comprehensive study found women influenced four of every five vehicle purchases last year, and set a record by having their names on 39 percent of all new car registrations. Misogynists and those concerned with the success of the domestic auto industry should be concerned; each of the top ten best-selling brands with female buyers in 2012 were imports. The list is below:
If Volvo sticks to their guns there might come a day when having an accident in one their vehicles simply isn’t possible. This month the company unveiled an enhanced version of their pedestrian detection system that is now capable of avoiding collisions with bicycle-specific situations. As depicted in a demonstration video, the system reacts to the nerve-racking situations that can arise when bicycles and cars attempt to share the road.
The U.S. Census Bureau refers to anyone who commutes at least 90 minutes and 50 miles to work as a “mega-commuter”. A study released by the bureau found that nearly 600,000 road-hardened Americans qualify for the designation – about one in 122 full-time workers. These brave souls spend a horrific amount of time each day trapped in a car, train or bus to make their daily dollar.
WNYC News used the report’s findings to create an interactive map detailing the nation’s average commute times by zip-code. Washington State’s grueling mega-commute starting points are detailed below.
El Nino is Spanish for “The Nino.” LaFerrari is Italian for “The Ferrari.” Yes, the Italian automaker’s new flagship supercar has a ridiculous name that will probably haunt it for the rest of its existence, but that doesn’t make it any less of a bombshell. Not only is it the most powerful, fastest and expensive car Ferrari has ever produced, it’s also their first ever production hybrid.
Were it not for the recent shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary it probably wouldn’t be news the Texas 500 will soon become the NRA 500. In the wake of the tragedy questions are being raised as to the timing behind the NRA’s decision to purchase its first major NASCAR sponsorship.
You know fuel prices are too high when the U.S. military starts building hybrid Humvees. The FED (Fuel Efficiency Demonstrator) isn’t a replacement for the trusty all-purpose vehicle. Rather the concept is a showcase of the technologies the Army hopes to apply to its existing fleet of vehicles for a new generation of service. The FED is smarter, safer and 30% more fuel efficient than a conventional Army rig, meaning it’s good for 7mpg. Not bad for a 15,000lb vehicle.