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Frankfurt: Editors’ Choice: Top Five 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show Debuts

By Autoblog Staff

2013 Frankfurt Auto Show

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By our story count, this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show was one of the busiest auto shows on record. We brought you more than 70 reveals from the center of the action, and are still finding and compiling a lot of other content with Frankfurt-origins as well.

With such a massive amount of raw data to choose from, picking just five debuts to highlight in our regular Editors’ Choice feature was no small job. As usual, Autoblog staffers were tasked only with awarding points to the cars and concepts that spoke to us the most – our favorite things to look at, read about and write about from the show. Said another way, these are not necessarily the most important or impressive debuts from the Messe; the winners reflect our personal favorites.

As you’ll read below, there were a lot more concept cars than production vehicles that knocked our socks off this time than in years past. Arguably the most impressive production debut – Porsche’s 918 Spyder – came close to the top five but was held back a little by being overly familiar (the danger of a super-long rollout plan). But really, this crop of conceptual metal was just superbly executed. Read our list below and then tell us where we went wrong and right, in Comments.

Continue reading Editors’ Choice: Top Five 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show Debuts

Editors’ Choice: Top Five 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show Debuts originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 13 Sep 2013 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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ETC: Mercedes drastically reduces size of S-Class with new model cars

By Brandon Turkus

Mercedes-Benz S-Class scale models

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Mercedes-Benz takes its all-new S-Class quite seriously, even by German standards. So it shouldn’t come as a shock that even a scale-model Sonderklasse is carefully crafted. The miniatures in question cover the 2014 S-Class and come courtesy of three brands, in three different sizes, and are available through the Mercedes-Benz Collection.

The largest, and not surprisingly priciest, model is a 1:18-scale (making it about 11.4 inches long) creation from Norev. It features 145 individual parts, with opening and closing doors, trunk, and hood. For those that like to play with their expensive toys, the Norev S-Class comes with gloves. Dropping down the line is a 1:43-scale from Schuco that sits at 4.5 inches long. Like the larger model, it has a sunroof, detailed headlights, and multi-spoke wheels. With 55 parts, the doors, hood, and trunk can’t be manipulated, but it does come on a stylish plinth, with a case. The smallest model is by Herpa, and is a tiny 1:87-scale (about 2.3 inches long) miniature. Only 26 parts are used, but like the Schuco, it comes on a plinth and with a case.

All three models come with a choice of three paints, with Diamond White Metallic available across the range. The Norev model adds Blue Anthracite and Iridium Silver, while the Schuco can be had in Diamond Silver and Magnetite Black. The Herpa, meanwhile, runs a mix of the two, with Blue Anthracite and Magnetite Black.

Pricing is only available in euros, and includes Germany’s 19-percent value added tax. The Norev is 79.90 euros ($106.06), the Schuco is 29.90 euros ($39.69) and the Herpa is 15.90 euros ($21.11, all conversions are today’s rates.) Scroll down below for a press release from Mercedes.

Continue reading Mercedes drastically reduces size of S-Class with new model cars

Mercedes drastically reduces size of S-Class with new model cars originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 01 Aug 2013 08:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Jaguar readying SUV for Frankfurt debut

By Jeffrey N. Ross

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In an effort to target higher-volume vehicle segments, Jaguar is getting ready to introduce its first-ever crossover, and Autoweek reports that we could see it debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. We’ve heard in the past that the new Jaguar crossover could carry the name XQ, but the report also mentions that the Q-type name is still in the running (now wouldn’t Audi just love that?).

A little more clear than the crossover’s name, AW says the cargo-friendly Jaguar should ride on the same platform as the upcoming Jaguar XS compact sedan rather than using a Land Rover platform. As for the on-sale date, it still sounds like the XS will hit the roads first in 2015 with the crossover model due out in 2016.

Jaguar readying SUV for Frankfurt debut originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 01 Aug 2013 07:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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J.C. Penney: CIT Cash Advances Still Flowing to Suppliers

By The Associated Press

SAN BRUNO, CA - FEBRUARY 28:  A customer leaves a JCPenney store on February 28, 2013 in San Bruno, California.  J.C. Penney Co. reported a 31.7 percent drop in fourth quarter earnings with a net loss of $552 million, or $2.51 per share compared with a loss of $87 million, or $0.41 one year ago. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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PLANO, Texas — J.C. Penney says that CIT, the largest lender in the clothing industry, is still supporting deliveries from its suppliers. The department store operator also says it has ample liquidity to run its business.

Shares rose more than 7 percent in premarket trading Thursday.

On Wednesday, a New York Post report said that CIT Group Inc. (CIT) had stopped providing financial support to small and large suppliers selling to J.C. Penney stores — for now. The report said CIT made the decision after meeting with J.C. Penney officials to examine the company’s books.

J.C. Penney Co. (JCP) said Thursday that CIT assured it that the newspaper report is untrue.

CIT is what the industry calls a “factor,” which makes cash advances to suppliers based on the goods they sell to the merchant. If vendors and factors become wary of a store’s creditworthiness, the retailer may have to pay suppliers cash upfront for goods, which could be a huge drain on liquidity. If suppliers stop shipping goods, it can be a death knell for a retailer.

Plano, Texas-based J.C. Penney said that merchandise from CIT-supported suppliers currently makes up less than 4 percent of its overall inventory for the year.

J.C. Penney said that it still has the support of all of its key vendors, which are continuing shipments to the company. The retailer, which has 1,100 stores, anticipates closing the second quarter with about $1.5 billion in cash on its balance sheet.

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Shares climbed $1.09, or 7.5 percent, to $15.69 in premarket trading about two hours before the market open Thursday.

J.C. Penney is trying to reverse its fortunes after disastrous results under a failed transformation plan implemented by its former CEO Ron Johnson. Johnson was ousted in April after 17 months on the job. The board brought back former CEO Mike Ullman, who has reintroduced frequent sales and is bringing back key merchandise under store names like St. John’s Bay.

Analyst Deborah Weinswig of Citi Investment Research says J.C. Penney won’t see a recovery in its business until 2014. The analyst said in a client note that she’s been surprised that “quick fixes,” like bringing back coupons, hasn’t led to stronger sales and doesn’t think this will change in the near term. The analyst lowered the chain’s rating to “Sell” from “Neutral” and cut its price target to $11 from $20.

J.C. Penney doesn’t comment on analyst reports.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Strong Yen Helps Sony Return to Profit in Latest Quarter

By Engadget

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Itsuo Inouye/AP

Sony’s first earnings report of the new financial year is in and it eked out a profit, albeit a small one. The $35 million net profit is an improvement from last year’s results for the same period, and the good news is most pronounced in its mobile products and communications department. Revenue grew 36 percent from last year, partially due to changes in the value of the yen, but also thanks to higher sales for smartphones — 9.6 million units — and a higher average selling price. The games division recorded an operating loss for the quarter, as sales of the PS3, PSP and PS2 dropped slightly while spending on research and development for the upcoming PlayStation 4 rose. Sony’s new TV strategy may have shown some results, with year-on-years sales up 18.2 percent and attributed to an “improved product mix in LCD TVs” and cost reductions.


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Video: Griswold Family travels to Disney in the Family Truckster, for real

By Jeremy Korzeniewski

Wagon Queen Family Truckster

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Is there anyone among us who didn’t laugh uncontrollably at the Family Truckster that transported Clark, Ellen, Rusty and Audrey (along with a few other, less fortunate souls…) to Wally World in National Lampoon’s Vacation? We thought not. Such a classic piece of Hollywood automobilia deserves such recognition, we think, and we’re happy to report that one real-life Griswold Family has replicated the movie’s fateful trip the best way it can: with a Wagon Queen Family Truckster of their very own.

Wally World exists only in the imagination of the movies, and that’s fine because Disney World not only exists but is a perfect fill-in for the Griswold Family Vacation. The family may not be greeted by the late, great John Candy, and they probably aren’t going to see Christie Brinkley in a bright red Ferrari, but they will for sure see Mickey Mouse, and hopefully even Tinker Bell, if they’re lucky.

Check out the video below to see the real-life Griswold Family and their faithful recreation of the infamous Family Truckster, and feel free to head on over to the official Disney blog for more on the family and their vacationing travails. Finally, check out another fan-made Family Truckster here.

Continue reading Griswold Family travels to Disney in the Family Truckster, for real

Griswold Family travels to Disney in the Family Truckster, for real originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 31 Jul 2013 19:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Motopeds occupy muddy middle ground between moped and mountain bike [w/video]

By Damon Lowney

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Motorized bicycles have been around for a long time, but it isn’t often that they’re as cool as the off-road-oriented contraption called the Motoped. Looking more like a skinny dirtbike with pedals than a mountain bike or moped, Motopeds mount a 50-155cc Honda XR50/CRF50 engine and swingarm to a custom frame with downhill mountain bike suspension components and brakes.

Being able to ride quietly on the sidewalk, switch on the four-stroke Honda engine (or similar Chinese design, if you’d like to go the cheaper route), then pretend you’re Ricky Carmichael for the rest of the way home sounds like great fun to us, but take note of your state’s laws before you do so. In California, for example, the two main laws in the vehicle code require motorized bicycles to have automatic transmissions and less than two brake horsepower to be legal. Also take not that the Motoped is a build-it-yourself ordeal after buying the frame, though the company supplies a parts list with many options depending on price range. If you’re interested, visit the company’s Kickstarter for a discounted price on the frame (as long as the Kickstarter goal is met).

Whatever motor is featured in the video below is the one we want – we have a strong feeling it has more than two horsepower. Or wait for the electric motor version, which is under development, says Motopeds spokesman Joe Rajakaruna.

Continue reading Motopeds occupy muddy middle ground between moped and mountain bike [w/video]

Motopeds occupy muddy middle ground between moped and mountain bike [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 31 Jul 2013 19:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: 2014 BMW 328d rated at 32/45 mpg

By Steven J. Ewing

2014 BMW 328d

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BMW still hasn’t released official fuel economy numbers for its diesel-powered 2014 328d, but now, those mileage ratings have been posted on the EPA’s FuelEconomy.gov website. As expected, the 328d is quite an efficient little machine, with the rear-wheel-drive sedan good for 32 miles per gallon in the city and 45 mpg highway. That even bests the 30/42 mpg of the smaller Volkswagen Jetta TDI.

The last time BMW offered a diesel 3 Series in our market, it was the six-cylinder 335d, which – while mighty quick and excellent to drive – was only offered as a rear-wheel-drive sedan and was rated at 23 mpg city and 36 mpg highway. For 2014, BMW will offer the 328d with optional xDrive all-wheel drive, though that reduces the fuel economy numbers to 31/43 mpg. Beyond that, the BMW will even sell you a 328d xDrive wagon, which nets the same 31/43 mpg rating, according to FuelEconomy.gov.

Look for the 2014 BMW 328d to hit dealerships this fall, and when it launches, it will be the only diesel offering in its class (until the next Mercedes-Benz C-Class arrives, anyway). Lexus and Infiniti will offer hybrid versions of the IS and Q50, respectively, but we’ve always had a taste for torque, and the 328d’s 2.0-liter engine with 180 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of twist shouldn’t disappoint.

2014 BMW 328d rated at 32/45 mpg originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 31 Jul 2013 19:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Climb to the Clouds returning thanks to Subaru title sponsorship [w/video]

By Jonathon Ramsey

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The Mt. Washington Hillclimb, otherwise known as the Climb to the Clouds, hasn’t been done since 2011. That year, Subaru Rally Team USA driver David Higgins set a new record for the event first held in 1904, running the 7.6-mile vertiginous course in 6:11.54. The race will be return in 2014 with the help of that very carmaker, Subaru of America having stepped in to the title sponsor role for what will be the Subaru Mt. Washington Hillclimb.

Taking place from June 26-29, 75 modern and vintage cars will spend three days racing up the 6,288-foot-high mountain. It’s not as long nor as high as Pikes Peak, but it does have something that the Colorado competition doesn’t: gravel; about 13 percent of the Mt. Washington Carriage Road still hasn’t been paved.

If you want to know what a record-breaking run up the northeast’s highest peak looks like, check out Higgins behind the wheel in the video below.

Continue reading Climb to the Clouds returning thanks to Subaru title sponsorship [w/video]

Climb to the Clouds returning thanks to Subaru title sponsorship [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 31 Jul 2013 18:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: France formally moves to ban Mercedes vehicles using contested refrigerant

By Jonathon Ramsey

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That didn’t take long. Shortly after a French administrative court gave the French government a ten-day window to reconsider its ban on registrations of Mercedes-Benz A-, B- and CLA-Class cars using the prohibited R134a refrigerant, the government cited an EU directive to formalize banning the sale of the cars. The country’s environmental ministry said that registrations “will remain forbidden in France as long as the company does not to conform to European regulations,” meaning so long as they do not use the approved R1234yf refrigerant.

Daimler had won the administrative court decision by challenging France’s application of a “safeguard” provision in which the EU allows a country to block sales of cars that would “seriously harm the environment.” In spite of Daimler’s victory, France has cited that very provision as basis for the continuation of the ban.

Daimler got permission from Germany’s KBA federal motor authority to keep selling cars with the coolant banned by EU politicians, and is using that national permission as the right to sell the cars throughout Europe. Meanwhile, above that battle, German politicians are asking the EU to let Mercedes sell the cars in France while the KBA does more testing, at the same time as the EU is threatening Germany with repercussions if it doesn’t bring the KBA and Daimler into line.

The German carmaker has said France’s “argument is absolutely incomprehensible” and has vowed more courtroom action. The three models comprise most of Mercedes’ business in France; more than 4,500 vehicles have been kept from being registered, 2,704 of which have already been sold.

France formally moves to ban Mercedes vehicles using contested refrigerant originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 31 Jul 2013 18:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Spy Shots: Porsche Macan caught completely uncovered

By Brandon Turkus

Porsche Macan Spy Photo front three-quarter tight

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Porsche is preparing to launch its sub-Cayenne CUV, with a suspected debut at the 2013 Los Angeles International Auto Show, which means we’re right about at the point where undisguised models start scampering around the cities and towns of Germany. Our spy photographers snagged just such a model, with only the headlights and taillights concealed by camouflage (no, those comically large lamps aren’t a production item).

The undisguised car looks like a tiny Cayenne. Not really surprising, we know, but it’s impressive to see how the Cayenne’s styling works with the smaller proportions of the Macan. It looks squat, athletic and poised, like it’s a small, “sporty” crossover we’d actually want to drive. Both the Macan and the Macan Turbo are shown, with the more powerful model sporting a set of quad exhausts.

The only big questions now concern the shape of the lights and the interior. From the photos, we can see a rough outline of the headlights, although the taillights are more difficult to discern. The interior remains a mystery.

Thankfully, LA is less than four months away, so we won’t have too long to wait to see a fully uncovered Macan.

Porsche Macan caught completely uncovered originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 31 Jul 2013 17:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Video: Watch Terrafugia Transition flying car make its first public flight

By Damon Lowney

Terrafugia Transition made its first public takeoff.

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The boundless imagination of post-war American car design has long been on display at the AirVenture museum in the form of the 1949 Aerocar. But as of Monday, flying cars became a bit more relevant when the long-delayed, street-legal Terrafugia Transition took off and flew in public for the first time, reports the Journal Sentinel.

It was the first day of the EAA AirVenture airshow in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, an international event where the newest in aviation technology is often unveiled. The Transition took off, flew smoothly and circled around the airfield for the public audience, and the low-speed landing looked especially drama-free, with all four of the flying car’s wheels touching the ground at the same time. After landing, the pilot parked for a minute to show off a crucial feature: motorized self-folding wings. The pilot/driver can fold the wings up after a flight and be ready for street driving without ever having to get out of the vehicle. The vintage Aerocar, on the other hand, had removable wings that had to be towed when it was driven on the street.

While everything seemed to go as planned for the Transition, at the 31-second mark in the first video we noticed that the wings didn’t fold up at the same speed, which has us questioning the effectiveness of the prototype’s wing-folding mechanism. It’s a good thing that this is the second of three generations of prototypes, so Terrafugia has plenty of time to iron out the details.

Look for the Transition to go on sale in 2015 or 2016 with a projected price tag of $279,000. The company is taking $10,000 refundable deposits now, the Journal Sentinel reports, and over 100 people have already reserved their own flying car. Check the takeoff, flight and landing in the videos below.

Continue reading Watch Terrafugia Transition flying car make its first public flight

Watch Terrafugia Transition flying car make its first public flight originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 31 Jul 2013 16:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Squadra Corse brings one-make series to the road

By Damon Lowney

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Lamborghini announced a new Gallardo model today, the all-wheel-drive LP 570-4 Squadra Corse, and it’s almost identical to the LP 570-4 Super Trofeo single-series race car. Its world premiere will be held at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

The street-legal Squadra Corse shares key components with the Super Trofeo – both of which are based on the Gallardo Superleggera – including the 570-horsepower V10, carbon fiber rear wing and removable engine hood made in the same material. The rear wing produces up to three times more downforce than what’s found on the LP 560-4. Through the generous use of weight-saving materials and components, the Squadra Corse weighs in at 2,954 pounds, which is 154 pounds lighter than the LP 560-4. To stop all of that mass, standard production carbon-ceramic brakes are used.

Carbon fiber bucket seats with Alcantara center inserts replace the regular seats, though buyers can option them back in. Alcantara also covers the underside of the dashboard. The door panels, center console cover, handbrake frame and lower section of the steering wheel are all made in carbon fiber.

Courtesy of the weight savings, the Squadra Corse has impressive performance. Hitting 60 miles per hour takes just 3.4 seconds, but even more impressive is its run to 124 mph in 10.4 seconds. The racecar for the street tops out at a slightly hilarious 199 mph.

The Squadra Corse was named after a new department at Lamborghini Automobili, which handles all motorsports activities, such as the Super Trofeo one-make race series. Check out the press release below for more juicy details.

Continue reading Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Squadra Corse brings one-make series to the road

Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Squadra Corse brings one-make series to the road originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 31 Jul 2013 16:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Honda reports $1.9 billion profit in first quarter despite sales lag at home

By Brandon Turkus

2013 Honda Civic badge

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Ford, General Motors and Chrysler have been living in a world of sunshine and buttercups after their April-through-June financials hit the newswire, and Toyota is doing pretty good as well. Honda? Not so much.

While Japan’s third-largest manufacturer saw $1.9 billion in profits, the 5.1-percent jump was lower than expected thanks to a drop in its home-market sales. US sales also took a sting, as Honda hasn’t been able to match the SUV and truck demand that are currently permeating the American market, despite an uptick in Accord sales.

Honda’s initial forecasts targeted a take of 209.3 billion yen ($2.1 billion at today’s rates), and while a $200 million shortfall is nothing to sniff at, we’d hardly take this as Honda being in trouble. And even with the dip, Honda hasn’t adjusted its forecast for the fiscal year, which remains at 780 billion yen ($7.9 billion).

Still, the cause of the problem for Honda isn’t one that’s easily solvable. Accord sales were strong, helping the brand move 745,578 vehicles during the first half of 2013, which is a six-percent improvement in year-over-year sales. Yet, Honda’s market share shrunk by 0.1 percent, and the Japanese manufacturer’s lack of competitive SUVs and pickups is worrying. In the short term, though, the arrival of the new Acura MDX in North American dealerships should deliver a small shot in the arm.

Honda’s home-market issues are also troubling, with Reuters reporting a 24-percent drop in sales, thanks to the discontinuation of government subsidies. All told, this isn’t the rosy outlook we’ve gotten used to since the latest batch of earnings came out.

Continue reading Honda reports $1.9 billion profit in first quarter despite sales lag at home

Honda reports $1.9 billion profit in first quarter despite sales lag at home originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 31 Jul 2013 16:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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BMW i3 tries to be the answer for a changing world [w/video]

By Sebastian Blanco

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The production version of the BMW i3 was unveiled yesterday at three simultaneous events in New York City, London and Beijing. Given that the i3 grew out a BMW electric vehicle project called Megacity, the urban debut locations make a lot of sense. Since BMW literally spent years researching urban trends in the Megacity project, years when the competition was building and selling EVs already, there is a lot of pressure on the German automaker to come out with an EV that is the right fit for today’s cities.

BMW’s message is that the i3 actually represents the beginning of electric mobility for the company.

BMW had help in this from the Mini E and Active E electric vehicle pilot programs. One way you can see the company’s EV history is in the location of the charge port on the rear passenger side. Most plug-in vehicles today put the charging connector in the front, but both the Mini E and Active E had a rear charge port and BMW didn’t get enough complaints to change it for the i3. If you opt to pay the roughly $4,000 extra for the gas-powered range extender, then your i3 will be built with a second fuel door, this one on the right front of the car. Putting the ports in these locations cuts down on the amount of fuel lines and wires required in the car, which in turn contributes to the i3’s light weight (official figures are not yet available, but BMW estimates the i3 weighs around 2,700 pounds). It’s all connected.

Despite BMW’s years of testing and driver feedback on earlier EV programs, the official message in New York was that the i3 actually represents the beginning of electric mobility for the company. As Norbert Reithofer, chairman of the board of management of BMW AG, said in New York, “The car has existed for nearly 130 years. Today marks a shift – a change – in the future of mobility.

Does it?

Continue reading BMW i3 tries to be the answer for a changing world [w/video]

BMW i3 tries to be the answer for a changing world [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Wed, 31 Jul 2013 14:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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ETC: Man 3D-printing his own replica Aston Martin DB4

By Brandon Turkus

Ivan Sentch's 3D printed 1961 Aston Martin DB4

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Three-dimensional printing is being touted as the Next Big Thing, although at present the products have been on the smaller end. An ambitious man in New Zealand isn’t letting that stop him, though. Engadget came up with the original story, and the subject is something we can totally get behind: a 1961 Aston Martin DB4.

Ivan Sentch, a programmer from Auckland, is printing the British GT. Using a Nissan Skyline GTS25T as a donor car, Sentch is going to print the Aston’s body with a $499 solidoodle home 3D printer. He’s kept a blog of the project since February, although he actually started printing in December of 2012. The posts offer intricate details on the process, including some of the unique problems being experienced. They make for a fascinating read, even if you aren’t all that familiar with the subject matter.

As of his last post on July 26, Sentch has 72 percent of the body printed, while a prior post indicates that 52 percent of the car is assembled. Head on over to Sentch’s blog for a full rundown of the progress on this intriguing project.

Man 3D-printing his own replica Aston Martin DB4 originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 31 Jul 2013 14:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Toyota sells six of 10 of hybrids in California

By Damon Lowney

Toyota highlights its hybrid vehicle market dominance in California.

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In an apparent shot back at Ford’s increasing market share of electrified vehicles and claim that it accepts more Prius trade-ins for its own hybrids than any other car, Toyota has flexed a muscle and played the numbers game to put the Blue Oval in its place.

Leaning on its hybrid market dominance in California, the Japanese automaker stated that six out of 10 hybrids sold in the Golden State are Toyota models. And it keeps coming: Year-to-date through May 2013, Toyota sold five times more hybrids than Ford. One of every two hybrids in California is a Prius model. In addition, Toyota notes that it has sold 1.5 million Prius vehicles in the US, 90-percent of which are still on the road today.

Want more? We’ll let Bill Fay, Toyota’s group vice president and general manager of sales lay the smack down:

“The hybrid industry has become competitive, but our wide range of hybrid vehicles continue to deliver high value and strong attributes to both new and loyal customers. With sales of 5.3 million hybrids globally and over two million in the US, we are the undisputed leader in hybrid vehicle technology and remain committed to building on our momentum and growing the acceptance of hybrid technology throughout the US.”

And to think Toyota and Ford just ended their collaboration to make hybrid trucks together.

On one hand, those are indeed very impressive statistics, but there’s a flip side, as well. If 6 out of 10 Toyota hybrid sales come from California, that’s more ammunition that hybrids still aren’t a factor for most American new car buyers. As of 2012, only about 3.3 percent of new cars sold in the US were hybrids, of which California sales would clearly represent an inordinately large percentage. So while Toyota may be looking to take upstart Ford to the gas-electric woodshed, it’s clear larger struggles remain on the road to hybrid acceptance.

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Toyota sells six of 10 of hybrids in California originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 31 Jul 2013 14:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Spy Shots: Next Kia Sedona minivan spied

By Jeffrey N. Ross

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After skipping the 2013 model year and returning for 2014, the Kia Sedona is getting a full redesign for 2015, which we see for the first time in these new spy shots. The new Sedona isn’t going to look as much like the 2011 KV7 Concept as we had hoped, but we definitely see some key styling cues from the Kia concept minivan.

Even though it’s covered in heavy camouflage, we can see that some of the KV7’s cues on the 2015 Sedona include the vertical front marker lights, the horizontal taillights and the pinched beltline starting at the C-pillar. Kia’s trademark Tiger Nose grille is present and accounted for, as is the telltale dip in the windshield.

All in all, the next-gen Sedona already looks to be a significant improvement over the current, generally boring model, which dates back to 2006 and has a striking resemblance to the Ford Freestar. There is no word yet as to what will power the 2015 Sedona, but our spy shooter said that this prototype was most likely powered by a 2.2-liter diesel.

Next Kia Sedona minivan spied originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 31 Jul 2013 14:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Autoblog

Nissan recalling 13k Versa Note hatchbacks

By Brandon Turkus

2014 Nissan Versa Note front three-quarters

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Nissan is recalling 13,000 of its new 2014 Versa Note hatchbacks due to an issue with various bolts used to assemble the vehicle. Considering the Versa Note was only recently put on sale, this news must be driving Nissan nuts (we couldn’t resist), but presumably the lion’s share of these vehicles are still at dealerships.

According to a report from The Detroit News, there are two separate issues. The first has to do with the latches for the rear seats, which include bolts that may not be strong enough to keep the seats upright in the event of a crash. The second relates to the bolts that attach the body to the undercarriage. Apparently they may not have been tightened properly, and in rare cases may be missing altogether. No injuries or accidents have been reported from either issue.

Owners are being told to report to dealers for the fixes, with notifications coming in mid-August.

Nissan recalling 13k Versa Note hatchbacks originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 31 Jul 2013 13:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Autoblog

Rumormill: 2015 Nissan GT-R Nismo to hit 60 mph in 2 seconds?

By Brandon Turkus

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Here’s your daily dose of incredulity – AutoExpress is reporting the 2015 Nissan GT-R Nismo will hit 60 miles per hour in two seconds. Okay. The report comes from an unnamed source that AE spoke with at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, and would mean that the GT-R Nismo, a car that will likely sit below $150,000, will be able to outsprint (over short distances) a 1200-horsepower, $2.58-million Bugatti Veyron Super Sport.

Citing a more potent version of the GT-R’s twin-turbocharged V-6 along with a healthy drop in weight, AutoExpress says that the performance is the result of the same group that helped develop the Juke Nismo, Williams Advanced Engineering. An unnamed engineer for Williams (it’s not made clear if this is the same source from Goodwood) notes that there are improvements to be had “even with a car like the GT-R.”

As exciting as the GT-R Nismo is going to be, we’re having a hard time accepting that it will be able to hit 60 in two seconds flat, at least on street tires. What do you think? Have your say in Comments.

2015 Nissan GT-R Nismo to hit 60 mph in 2 seconds? originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 31 Jul 2013 13:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Autoblog