Nissan not shuttering Leaf EV battery plants, at least not yet By

The big news on the electric vehicle front today is that Nissan is considering slowing down EV battery production in the US and UK and source all of Nissan's big packs come from Japan.

This incredible Mercedes V12 sculpture is built from bone, wood and fossils

We've seen some impressive automotive replicas, but this one definitely takes the prize as the most unique yet.

1967 Toyota 2000GT Solar Electric Vehicle

You may have packed James Bond's cars with plenty of killer tech (get it?), but the 1967 Toyota 2000GT you see above has got it's own bad boy secrets.

Ford Mondeo Titanium X Sport

The Ford Mondeo range of cars offers the best in style, appearance and performance on the roads without compromising on quality or safety.

Corvette Z06 tops Motor Trend list of shortest-stopping vehicles

Any modern performance car worth buying puts just as much emphasis on stopping as it does on going

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Toyota will now send needed pedal repair components directly to dealers

by Michael Harley

In an effort to stem the flow of potentially defective accelerator pedal parts at the source, Toyota announced earlier this week that replacement pedal components had begun shipping directly to its factories. While the announcement was a welcome step in the right direction towards a long-term resolution, Toyota retail dealers – face-to-face with millions of concerned customers seeking a fix – were understandably angered that the automaker had apparently left them out of the loop.

That changed late Friday, when Toyota announced that gas pedal parts had started shipping directly to the dealers too. Brian Lyons, Toyota company spokesman, said the parts "are on their way to the dealers in preparation for the recall launch." The so-called "recall launch" will be more clearly defined next week when the automaker officially announces how it intends to solve the problems potentially affecting 4.2 million of its vehicles worldwide.

Right now, Toyota's "solution" (reportedly involving shims) is being reviewed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – Toyota presented it to NHTSA on Thursday – which must approve it before the automaker moves forward. Even then, Toyota will need to train dealers and mechanics on how to make the repairs and educate vehicle owners on the process.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Using Aftermarket Parts and Its Effect on Your Auto Insurance Premium

Getting involved in a car accident is nasty business, but not as nasty as when your vehicle is uninsured. Having your car covered by the policy of an auto insurance company can help you out greatly with the repair of your car (and of the other party’s car, if that is the case), medical bills, and even legal representation, should it come to that. But with regard to car repairs, there might just be some things you need to know and discuss with your insurer.

Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts are automotive parts made by a certain vehicle’s manufacturer. Aftermarket parts are essentially non-OEM parts, manufactured by third-party vendors. As part of the process of you shopping around for the ideal insurance company for you, you must determine what an insurer’s policies are regarding the use of OEM and aftermarket parts. There are two reasons for this: First, you might be the type of person who likes to be set apart from the rest of the world, even with the car you drive. You don’t want to be just another owner of the usual BMW or Mercedes Benz, but you’d like your car lowered, looking more aggressive with a new back fin, spoiler, or wing. Chances are, you’ll be using aftermarket parts for these modifications, and your insurance company might not like that and may increase your premium or discontinue coverage entirely when they find out. Hence, you must know what their policies exactly are regarding the use of aftermarket parts.

The other reason you must discuss this issue with your insurer is that they might actually use aftermarket parts themselves for the repair of your vehicle in case of an accident. If you’re the exact opposite of the guy in the previous example, then you’ll want only genuine BMW parts for your BMW, or Mercedes Benz parts for your Mercedes Benz. You want to maintain the quality of your car being 100% the brand that it is, and not some mutt of a vehicle with shoddy attachments on it. And, as this is an existing practice for some, insurers may cheat on you so they can save on money. They may go for well-done repairs with aftermarket parts which may pass for OEM parts in the eyes of the unassuming guy, who will only later on find out about the deception when he decides to trade or sell his car and the real value of his car is revealed by expert inspectors. When your auto insurance company handles the repair of your vehicle, the goal is to have your car returned to its pre-accident condition. But the reason post-repair inspectors now exist is to assess if that goal has actually been achieved. You must be wise yourself to know how to demand that OEM parts alone be used in the repair of your car post-accident. Though you most likely would have to pay much for the use of OEM parts instead of aftermarket ones, there will be no hassle selling or trading your vehicle because its quality has been maintained, and hence its value is not unduly diminished.

For more information regarding car insurance, is a great site to help you with all your insurance needs.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

GM wooing current Pontiac owners with free service

by Chris Shunk

When General Motors put Oldsmobile out to pasture, many owners defected from GM brands all-together. In an effort to make sure history doesn't repeat itself with soon to be displaced Pontiac owners, the General is extending an olive branch in the form of a year of free maintenance.

Automotive News reports that GM is offering four years of free service visits – including oil changes and tire rotations – to specific Buick-GMC dealerships for owners of 1999 and newer Pontiac vehicles. Brian Sweeney, general manager of Buick-GMC, told AN that the plan is to "to keep the relationship with the Buick-GMC dealer." Customers will be given specific Buick-GMC dealers to utilize for the free service in order to help the dealers develop a relationship with said customer in hopes that they will use that dealership to purchase future products.

A potential problem with the plan is that Pontiac and Buick/GMC models aren't exactly in the same price range, though (potential) future products like the Buick Excelle and the GMC Granite concept could be priced competitively enough to keep some Pontiac owners in the GM family.

With new service customers on the way, we're sure the Buick-GMC dealers are excited about this program. Many Buick-GMC dealers used to sell Pontiacs as well, so many of the brand's former customers won't even have to go to a new dealer to cash in on the free maintenance.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

MyFord Touch proves that the shape of things to come is awesome

by Jonny Lieberman

Ford began its MyFord Touch presentation with a simple question: "People line up for iPhones – why not cars?" What is it about certain pieces of technology that makes them a "must have"? And since the iPhone is really just a merger of two things we already have (a cell phone and PC), is it possible to blend something into a car that will get 'em lining up around the block? Quite obviously, Ford's hoping the answer is yes.

MyFord Touch – and if you buy a Lincoln, MyLincoln Touch – is a piece of driver connect technology like SYNC, only much more advanced. In fact, you can think of MyFord as SYNC 2.0. Or, you could, if not for the fact that there already is a SYNC 2.0. Regardless, in-car technology can do myriad of things these days, and Ford thinks it's found a way to group and display all of a vehicle's functionality in a logical, intuitive and useful way. Sadly, Ford is internally calling this "simplexity," as in making the complex simple. Or, as we wrote in our notes, "barf." Thankfully, the public will know it as MyFord Touch.

Ford wants you to think of MyFord Touch as an electronic Swiss Army knife. Physically speaking, here's what you get: A large, eight-inch touchscreen display in the center stack, two 4.2-inch LCD screens to the right and left of an analog speedometer (the exact same screens you'll find in the Fusion Hybrid) and two steering wheel-mounted five-way button controls. Using Ford's award-winning HMI (human-machine interface) setup, MyFord Touch seeks to allow a driver to control in-car technology through either voice, touch or the wheel-mounted controllers. As Ford termed it, VUI (voice user interface), TUI (touch user interface) and GUI (graphic user interface).

While that might sounds a touch (no pun) complex, it isn't. How's that possible? Grouping. Ford has gone ahead and broken down all of the possible non-driving-related tasks into four groups: Phone, Climate, Navigation and Entertainment. Is Ford 100 percent accurate with their groupings? Like in submarine warfare, close enough. Not only are there the four groups, but Ford also chose a color for each group. That last part is more important than it might first seem and here's why...

As far as the large, eight-inch touchscreen goes, its four corners each contain a button for one of the four groupings. Phone is brown, Navigation is green, Entertainment is purple and Climate is blue. We haven't had a chance to play with MyFord Touch yet, but we understand that the system is quite customizable. Don't like that shade green? Think Climate should be red and not blue? Not a problem.

Returning to the two 4.2-inch LCD screens, the one to the left contains all your usual mileage and fuel information: trip computer, radar cruise control distance indicator, vehicle information and even a tachometer, if you like. In other words, information directly related to operating the car. The screen on the right however, displays information from the four MyFord Touch groupings. The idea is that after a little practice, you will be able to know which group you're looking at simply based on color – you won't have to read anything – and your eyes will spend more time on the road. A noble goal, for certain.

Going with that mantra and/or old Doors song, the five-way thumb controls (up, down, left, right, click) keep your hands on the wheel. The left controller is for the left screen, and (shockingly) the right is for the right one. Of course, even better than using a touchscreen or working wheel buttons is using your own voice. Ford assured us that the voice recognition system shipping with MyFord Touch is much more conversational than the VR system currently shipping with SYNC. Instead of talking your way through a series of menus (SYNC asks you what source you want, for example iPod, then asks you what track or artist), MyFord Touch should just require you say, "Play 'John the Fisherman' by Primus" and be done with it. Emphasis on should.

Here's a couple nifty details, and please keep in mind that we didn't get to play with MyFord Touch – yet (expect a video coming soon from CES). Users will be able to take all of their MyFord Touch settings with them from vehicle to vehicle – just plug in an SD card or flash drive and you're good to go drive another MyFord Touch-equipped car. Your color scheme, your radio presets, your music tags, your seat position – whatever – all go with you. It will even welcome you by name, no matter the car. With the music tags, MyFord and MyLincoln Touch are the first systems that allow you to tag songs on the fly. Ford didn't go into great details on this, but we imagine you could would be able to hear something on the radio, tag it, and then let MyFord Touch search for it. This could be especially cool with the SYNC app that let's you listen to internet radio.

The first vehicle this new system will be available on is the 2011 Lincoln MKX, which will debut at next week's Detroit Auto Show. As such, we'll be looking at MyLincoln Touch as opposed to MyFord. Differences? Not really, but the two come standard with different colors (MyLincoln's are yellow for Communication/Phone, green for Navigation, red for Entertainment and blue for Climate). Shouldn't the colors be identical? Probably, but they are customizable and portable, so it doesn't really matter. After the MKX, look for this technology in the refreshed 2011 Ford Edge and then the all-new 2011 Ford Focus. Eventually, 80 percent of all Fords will be available with MyFord or MyLincoln Touch. Just speculating here, but we wonder if the 20 percent not getting the good stuff is Mercury...

Besides all the little details, the big picture we took away from the MyFord Touch is Ford is seriousness. These people knew going halfway wouldn't be good enough. The screens are beautiful. Before seeing MyFord Touch, we already thought that Ford had the best navigation/entertainment stuff in the industry (SYNC is really, really good – especially with Sirius Travel Link). MyFord Touch brings Ford a generation (or two) beyond the competition. In other words, no one could even compete with Ford's old stuff. How on earth will they manage against MyFord Touch?