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

Friday, December 16, 2011

Corvette Z06 tops Motor Trend list of shortest-stopping vehicles

By Jeremy Korzeniewski

Any modern performance car worth buying puts just as much emphasis on stopping as it does on going. After all, what's the point in being able to hit ludicrous speed if you can't manage to get it back down without heading fascia-first into an unmovable object?

So, what's a good stopping distance? According to the crew at Motor Trend, 100 feet from 60 miles per hour is a pretty good starting point. And the best of the best do the deed in significantly less. How's about 93 feet, recorded by both the 2011 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Carbon Edition and the 2008 Ferrari 430 Scuderia.

There's a smattering more Corvettes and Ferraris in the under-100-feet club, plus a couple Audis, Porsches and Vipers, along with a lone Lamborghini and the 2011 Nissan GT-R. If you're willing to allow non-DOT-approved tires, a prototype Lexus LFA managed to halt from 60 in 94 feet.

Speaking of tires, it seems that the best stopping treads are the Michelin Pilot Sport Cups, which are joined on the list by the Pirelli Pzero Corsas and a couple sets of Bridegstone Potenzas.

We've got to hand it to the Corvette Z06 for topping the list, especially since it's one of the least expensive vehicles in the under-100 club.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Audi Urban Concept Sportback ready for wireless charging in the city

By Sebastian Blanco

 Not as easily spotted as its Spyder relative, the Audi Urban Concept Sportback more closely matches the renderings we saw before the start of the Frankfurt Motor Show. That's not to say we were totally prepared for the quirkiness of either version, but at least the Sportback's carbon fiber reinforced plastic body was somewhat known to us.

Under the CFRP, the Sportback and Spyder share the same all-electric powertrain. That means two electric motors with a combined output of 15 kW (20 PS) of continuous power and 47 Nm (34.67 lb-ft) of torque as well as a li-ion battery that has 7.1 kWh of usable energy (total size unknown) and offers a range of 45 miles. Getting from zero to 62 mph (the concept's top speed) takes a gentle 16.9 seconds, which would be fine if Audi ever releases this vehicle for sale in its intended environment: the city.

Perhaps even more appropriate for a city getabout, the battery pack can recharge in just an hour from a standard (in Europe) 230-volt household current. If you have access to a 400-volt, three-phase current fast charger, that drops to approximately 20 minutes. Both concept vehicles are also ready with Audi Wireless Charging (AWC) technology, which uses contactless induction from a 3.6kW primary coil installed into a parking spot, say, to automatically start refilling the battery pack when you pull the car into place. Audi didn't say how long this wireless charging takes, just that it "is comparable to that of other charging technologies."

Get more details on Audi's new 1+1 seater in the press release after the jump and check out detailed pictures in the gallery above. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Toyota safety tech can take steering control to avoid impact

By Zach Bowman

According to The Detroit News, Toyota is working on a new pre-crash system that will actually take control and steer the vehicle to minimize impact in the event of an unavoidable collision. The system combines super-sensitive radar with a camera array in the front fascia to detect possible impacts. On-board computers then calculate the correct levels of braking and steering required to avoid the crash, and if the driver fails to act, the automatic system takes over.

Like most manufacturers, Toyota has the admirable goal of reducing injuries and fatalities in its products to zero, though The Detroit News reports that the automaker wouldn't comment on when we could expect to see the innovations on the road. The pre-crash steering is specifically designed to reduce the chance of a vehicle-pedestrian impact, and Toyota is also working on systems to accommodate drivers who have heart attacks while behind the wheel.

It's true that vehicle fatalities have seen a steady decline over the past few years thanks to improved safety technology, but as cars get safer, drivers become even more detached from the task at hand. Economists call it a Jevons Paradox; drivers have effectively consumed the safety benefits supplied by car companies to become lazier and less safe than they would be without the tech. Maybe Toyota should find a way to force drivers to put down their phones, shut off their infotainment screens and simply drive. Just a thought.

Monday, June 20, 2011

2012 BMW M5 configurator comes alive, threatens bank accounts everywhere

by Zach Bowman

John Milton had some pretty strong views on temptation. The famous poet and author of Paradise Lost wholeheartedly believed that one could not truly know one's goodness without facing genuine temptation on a regular basis. After all, how could you know whether you're straight-laced as a saint or crooked as the devil's own claws if you circumnavigated the world's vices? Fortunately for us, BMW has been so kind as to pull back the sheets on the company's 2012 M5 configurator. If ever there was a reason to fall into lust, this is it.

Right now, you can only pick from a handful of exterior colors and a pair of wheel options, but the German automaker says that more choices will arrive soon. For the moment, you can spend a few sacred moments meditating on whether your menacing sedan would look better in Monte Carlo metallic or Alpine White and what sort of peril you'd have to endure in order to secure the funds necessary to buy this beast for yourself. Don't worry, your secret's safe with us.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I DRAW CARS book coming for budding car designers

by Jeff Glucker

Love cars? Surely, then, you spent many a classroom hour doodling them all over their book covers and binders. Sometimes they looked kinda cool, while other times you wish you had used pencil instead of pen. A new book is in the works that will help budding automotive designers hone their skill, and the octavo will serve as both a sketchbook and a reference guide. It's called I DRAW CARS, and you can help bring it to life.

The team behind the book is currently asking for help on the website, and they've nearly hit their goal. There is still room to help out, and for some we'd think this would be money well spent.

I DRAW CARS was created to inspire and guide those who are intrigued by automotive design. The guide portion of the book breaks down the various vehicle segments being produced, as well as the various angles and perspectives one might choose to pen a design. The templates utilize non-photo blue ink, which means you can scan your design into a computer and the template won't come through, leaving just your image behind.

The project aims to put a great tool in the hands of those who dream to someday design the real thing. Check it out at the official website, and head over to Kickstarter if you feel like pitching in.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Insurers to use young driver behaviour to calculate premiums

The ECJ’s ban on using gender as an assessment factor when calculating insurance policies may
soon mean men have access to cheaper car insurance but for many young drivers in 2011, insurance premiums are simply too expensive or unavailable altogether. That could all be set to change, however, with the introduction of a ‘pay-how-you-drive’ initiative by the Co-Operative Insurance.

The Co-Op’s new insurance policy, aimed exclusively at the 17-25 age group, includes the installation of a Smartbox – like a black box recorder on an aeroplane – to record how the young driver handles the car on the road, sending information back to the insurance company so that they can then determine whether they need to reduce or increase the policy holder’s premium.

According to the Co-op, over three quarters of young drivers will be helped to achieve much lower premiums, averaging a saving of £328 per year, per person.

The policy will still be include a No Claims Discount with the policy, making it a particularly attractive one to those wishing to get a foot on the ladder of their car insurance career. Performance-based reviews will occur every three months to determine whether or not the young driver in question will receive a ‘safer driving discount’.

The Smartbox will send information using satellite technology back to the insurance company on factors like speed, acceleration and braking, cornering, and what time of the day or night the young driver is driving at. If the driver proves to be diligent, they stand to make an 11 per cent saving on their premium. Drive badly, and they could see an increase of as much as 15 per cent.

The Parliamentary Transport SelectCommittee investigation, a document commissioned by the
government this year, outlined how the challenges faced by the insurance industry have been
addressed, with investigators having made recommendations on how to tackle and get around
issues such as the cost of insurance for young drivers.

According to a related article in car insurance news, there are other things that young drivers can do decrease their car insurance premium, such as adding and older, more experienced driver as a named driver. It does, however, warn that young people and their parents must not, under any circumstances, add that driver as the main driver. This practice is known as ‘fronting’, is tantamount to fraud, and offenders will be prosecuted.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ford's plan to make commutes more efficient, optimize EVs

by Damon Lavrinc

Android developers across the world have descended on San Francisco for this week's Google I/O conference, and Ford is getting in on the action with its announcement to utilize Google's new Prediction API to increase efficiency and decrease commute times.

The Prediction API has a range of location-based uses, but Ford's plan involves tapping into your driving habits, gathering historical commute and errand data, and then optimize your route depending on traffic, weather and a host of other information.

Cutting down commute times and increasing fuel efficiency are at the top of the list, but it's obvious Ford is primarily planning to use the tech for its future all-electric and plug-in hybrid-driving vehicles. By determining drive routes ahead of time, storing that information in the cloud and directing drivers to the most efficient roads, Ford can eliminate some of the range anxiety EV drivers have to contend with.

Tomorrow, a group of Ford researchers will be showing off concept version of the system at Google I/O, complete with a prototype use case that involves the driver opting in for the service (Ford is adamant that personal information security is of the utmost importance) and then utilizing the Google Prediction service to determine the most efficient route. The vehicle would ask the driver, "Good morning. Are you going to work?" and if the driver responds, "Yes," the system will choose a route that's optimized for the powertrain. This could also include EV-only zones, something that's being experimented with throughout Europe.

We'll have more on Ford's implementation of the Predictive API tomorrow...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

BMW Brilliance Automotive previews 5 Series plug-in hybrid prototype

by Aaron Richardson

In the lead-in to the Shanghai Motor Show, BMW has teased an upcoming plug-in hybrid 5 Series that will be exclusive to the Chinese market. The prototype of this greener version of BMW's midsize sedan is based on the China-only long-wheelbase 5 Series platform.

The car is part of a joint venture between BMW and Chinese automaker Brilliance. The car is the tip of an eco-friendly iceberg BMW has aimed squarely at China, a country with an increasing appetite for premium-segment cars and a serious need for green-focused, energy-efficient vehicles.

Despite its size, BMW says the plug-in 5 Series will manage nearly 250 miles on a single charge and tank of gas, with up to 47 miles of those on electric power only, provided you don't creep past 37 miles per hour. Those numbers certainly aren't what you'd call impressive, but they're a step in the right direction and they'd likely be a major help in the thick traffic snarls that China's major cities are famous for. As for the U.S. market, a full plug-in 5 Series is unlikely, but BMW is understood to be planning to bring a traditional mild hybrid version of the car to our shores.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hot Wheels holds 3D race on side of historic Aussie building

by Aaron Richardson

Hot Wheels teamed up with an Amsterdam-based company called Muse Digital to create a 3D commercial that can be projected onto buildings. In this case, Hot Wheels had Muse make them a 3D, computer-generated race between four of its iconic models.

The race was projected onto the side of the historic Sydney Customs House. So advanced are the projected 3D graphics that the building appears to get destroyed throughout the course of the race, as familiar orange track bursts through the walls and a number of other calamities ensue.

The video itself is pretty campy, but the technology behind it is seriously cool.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Subaru's RWD Sports Car getting 2.0-liter non-turbo engine, confirmed for America

by Jeremy Korzeniewski

Peanut butter and jelly. Beer and brats. Wine and cheese. Subaru and all-wheel drive. It's true – Subaru has done an enviable job convincing Americans that its automobiles are synomous with all-wheel drive, and the idea of a Subie that eschews four driven wheels for a powertrain sending its horsepower to the rear wheels only sounds like heresey to the diehard WRX driver.

But it shouldn't... at least, that's what Subaru is now trying to convince the masses with its new rear-wheel-drive Boxer Sports Car Architecture. It's worth noting that the automaker has confirmed for the first time here at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show that the upcoming production version of this sports car is coming to America. If all goes to plan, production will commence in the spring of 2012 at a Subaru production plant in Japan.

Will Subaru's American enthusiasts come to accept a rear-wheel-drive sports car from their beloved Japanese automaker? How about one that's being jointly developed with Toyota? That remains to be seen, but we'd guess the answer depends a lot on how well Subaru is able to tune the chassis to deliver proper sports car driving dynamics. To that end, Subaru (which is doing the hardcore chassis engineering on the joint Toyota/Subaru architecture) has done all it can to lower the car's center of gravity, using its tried-and-true boxer engine design that Subaru claims "is without a doubt the most suitable engine for the RWD Sports Car." There are some features to back up that claim, including all-aluminum construction and the lack of a balance shaft due to the engine's inherently smooth operation – both of which contribute to a minimal amount weight hanging off the front end of the car.

Note that the engine in this engineering study displaces just 2.0 liters and is naturally aspirated. Clearly, this isn't going to be a car that relies on sheer power for performance. According to Subaru: "Instead it maximises the potential of this newly developed chassis to achieve the fundamental characteristics of a rear-wheel-drive sports car by delivering sporty performance as driver and vehicle work in unison, as well as providing agile response afforded by its short wheel base."

It's interesting to note that the boxer engine sits lower and further back in the engine bay than other Subaru models due to the lack of a front differential or driveshafts. Such an arrangement centralizes weight and mass towards the center of the car, which aids handling and ought to help provide neutral dynamics and facilitate quick directional changes. Front struts work with a rear double-wishbone suspension arrangement, and just 101 inches (2,570 millimeters) seperates the front and rear wheels.

It certainly seems that all the necessary ingredients for an entertaining sports car are present and accounted for. Naturally, we can hope for expressive styling to match, though Subaru isn't commenting on the exterior appearance at this time. In any case, you can color us intrigued by this new rear-wheel-drive coupe from Subaru, and we look forward to finding out first hand if it drives as well as the company promises.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Average lifetime car insurance costs estimated at $84,000

by Jeff Glucker

Unless you live in New Hampshire, here in the States, you're required to have some form of car insurance covering your vehicle. The annual cost to insure a car depends on an array of factors ranging from the type of vehicle to where you live to your driving record. You undoubtedly know what you pay for insurance on an annual or monthly basis, but do you know how much you will end up paying over the course of your driving life? According to, the average person will spend $84,388.

What does 'average' mean in the context of this study? In this case, researchers assume that you first insure your own vehicle at 21 years old, get married at 27, insure two teenagers for a few years and then stop driving when you turn 75. That passage of time is filled with a variety of claims, including accidents and other incidents that get sent across your insurance agent's desk.

Predictably, offers up a few suggestions for cutting your overall coverage expenses. Some are easier said than done (avoid traffic tickets) while others might actually be fun (defensive driving course). Check out the company's press release for the full details after the jump.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Torture-tested Ford EcoBoost V6 engine torn down at Detroit Auto Show

by Jeremy Korzeniewski

Exactly as promised, Ford sent a couple of technicians to the show floor at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show in front of a live audience to disassemble the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine that was torture-tested for the equivalent of a few hundred thousand miles of rigorous duty on the dyno and in the engine bay of various F-Series trucks.

How'd it fair? Rather well, we'd say, and it managed to churn out 364 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque on the dyno after all the abuse it took. That matches up rather well with the factory ratings of 365 horses and 420 lb-ft.

As you might expect, there was a good amount of carbon build-up on the piston crowns and the valves – think of how much dust was surely ingested over the course of 1,062 miles of the Baja 1000 race, which this engine took part in, finishing first overall in its class – along with a 13-percent loss on one cylinder during the leak-down test. All other initial measurements were well within factory tolerances, and Ford will continue testing each individual piece from this engine to ensure its durability.

No doubt about it, this is an impressive showing for the EcoBoost engine.

Monday, January 3, 2011

BMW Unscripted follows Tiffany Coates around the globe

by Zach Bowman

The last time we heard from BMW Unscripted, an ancient 5 Series was stalking the tall grass of South Africa in search of meerkats. Now the company has turned its attention to Tiffany Coates and her BMW R80GS. The duo have traversed the globe together, ranging over five continents and covering untold miles in the process. For Coates, no country or region is off limits, and she's spent time everywhere from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Alaska and Australia. Her travel is impressive, without a doubt, though we're more taken with the perspective that her gallivanting has given her.

"People always assume that the world is full of dangerous places, and they think, and they say as well, that I'm mad to go travelling where I do. I always replay, 'but, 99.9 percent of people in the world are really nice, decent people like you and I.'"

We can think of a few politicians that could use some time in the saddle of an R80GS. Hit the jump to have a look at a slice of Coates' life on the road, and remember not to let your fear rule you, people. There's a whole world out there just waiting to meet you.