With its previous generation, Mini went for a maximalist strategy, expanding its lineup to include seven derivatives. But with the new generation, BMW's retro Anglo-Saxon brand is shifting gears to a "superhero strategy" focusing on core models with volume sales potential rather than small niches.
That, according to the latest reports, will spell the end of the Coupe and Roadster models introduced in the outgoing generation. Speaking with AutoGuide at the LA Auto Show last week, Mini USA product planning chief Patrick McKenna confirmed that both the two-seat models "will actually go out of production next year" and that "they've run their life cycle."
Though we've yet to receive word on the future of the Paceman, we wouldn't hold our breath for its long-term prospects either. Under the new strategy, Mini is expected to focus more on models like the base Hardtop (now available with three or five doors) and the Countryman - which, between the two of them, account for roughly 75 percent of Mini sales, the other models slicing up the remaining quarter of the pie.
Will you miss them? Will these short-lived Minis become future collectibles, or will they be soon forgotten? Have your say in Comments.Permalink | Email this | Comments
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Ken Block must spend a lot of time blushing. At this point, the videos online that parody or take inspiration from the drifter's Gymkhana series vastly outnumber his authentic output. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though, as some of the clips are nearly as good as the original in their own way. Case in point: last year's Ken Box Gymkhana had a guy on a Razor Crazy Cart covered in a cardboard box with dubbed-in sound drifting through a warehouse. It made the little vehicles look like a ton of fun to drive, and the team has returned for a sequel to take the stunts even further.
This time, Box is back on his Crazy Cart, but the setting moves outdoors to a shipping yard full of containers and other obstacles to drift around. The driver makes full use of the cart's handbrake and caster wheels for the stunts, and some of them look pretty dangerous this time, including one that involves a moving truck. The real Ken Block has been doing some crazy things of is own as of late, flinging his crazy custom Ford Mustang restomod around Los Angeles. Now, check out this video to see the fun possible for a fraction of that power and investment.Permalink | Email this | Comments
The Nissan Titan has grown long in the tooth over its decade on the market, especially against major competitors on the truck scene like the latest Ford F-150. Not for long, though, because the next-generation Titan is expected to debut at the upcoming auto show in Detroit in January.
Ahead of that big unveiling, the Japanese brand is launching what it calls the Nissan Titan Truckumentary, a series of videos delving into what it takes to engineer a fullsize pickup. The first teaser clip is already online and shows the next-gen Titan wearing camouflage amidst engineering snippets. Hopefully, future releases starting in mid-December will give an even better look.
Until now, Nissan has kept Titan development a guarded secret, but it did reveal that a 5.0-liter diesel V8 from Cummins with claims of over-300 horsepower and around 550 pound-feet of torque will be part of the powertrain range. The truck was has also been rumored to offer a wider range of models than before, including the possibility of a regular cab version and a V6 engine option. Earlier spy shots have given an even clearer view than this video, showing a pickup with headlights pushed out to the corners.
Check out the video above to hear what Nissan engineers have to say about developing the new Titan, and read below for the automaker's announcement of the Truckumentary series.Permalink | Email this | Comments
The all-electric Renault Zoe sold 10,000 units during its first year on sale and the French automaker has sold a total of about 51,500 EVs since starting sales of its four-vehicle EV lineup in 2011. Renault's collection also includes the Twizy two-seater, the Fluence sedan and the Kangoo van - just look at the awesome concepts from 2009 in the gallery above. Throw in the fact that the Nissan Leaf has sold around 150,000 around the world and some sales of the e-NV200 delivery van, and we get to a banner headline for the Renault-Nissan Alliance: the companies have sold over 200,000 EVs since the Leaf went at sale in the end of 2010.
The Alliance announced it crossed the 100,000 EV sales mark in July 2013, so we can calculate that the two companies are selling roughly 6,250 EVs a month, with the Leaf making up the bulk of that figure (the car is averaging around 3,000 units a month in the US alone). Nissan says that Leaf has cumulatively sold around 67,000 Leafs in the US, 46,500 in Japan and 31,000 in Europe.
The 6,250 sales per month is a rough estimate, since the Alliance says its sales are up 20 percent this year compared to last. Still, all told, Renault-Nissan claims it has 58 percent of the global market share for EVs, and its battery-powered vehicles have driven four billion kilometers (2.48-billion miles), which has prevented 450 million kilograms of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. Who wants to bet when the 300,000 threshold will be crossed?
Renault-Nissan has sold 200,000 EVs, claims 58 percent global share originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Wed, 26 Nov 2014 13:56:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Subaru Tecnica International, better known by its initials, STI, has finally unveiled its work at tuning the Forester into a higher performance machine. Unfortunately while tweaks to the suspension and styling are plentiful, it's not clear how much acceleration is going to improve from just a few minor upgrades to the powertrain.
All of the tS models come with a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder and continuously variable transmission. STI fits new software to control the engine and gearbox, plus a cooler for the CVT, but Subaru doesn't say what effect this has on overall performance. The Sport Sharp driving mode has also been also retuned in the SI-Drive system.
However, the Forester tS should definitely be a better handler with a 0.6-inch (15-mm) drop for the suspension and STI parts for the strut tower brace and rear subframe support. The upgrade to forged 19-inch wheels from BBS and commensurately larger tires should help the CUV stick to the road better, too, and Brembo ventilated brake discs front and rear can bring things to a halt.
On the outside, the Forester tS wears some subtle updates with a cherry-red pinstripe running around the front grille and rear bumper. STI also fits a new front and rear spoiler, plus black mirrors provide a little contrast on each side. Inside, there are some new seats up front with a mix of black leather and Ultrasuede with red stitching and matching door panels.
We were hoping Subaru might let STI go wild on the Forester to create a higher-riding take on the WRX STI, but that didn't happen. The tS goes on sale in Japan on November 25 and is limited to just 300 units. Prices ring up at 4,027,778 yen before the country's consumption tax ($34,170). Scroll down for all the details about this hotted-up crossover.Permalink | Email this | Comments
The LA Auto Show is known for its environmentally friendly vehicle debuts. At last year's show, hydrogen fuel cell concepts from Honda and Toyota joined a lease-ready Hyundai Tuscan FCEV to cast a green hue over the convention center. This year, automakers took us a step closer to a fuel cell future by offering drives of their hydrogen-electric hybrids.
Translogic host Jonathon Buckley takes a ride in the Toyota Mirai, which is headed for production in 2016. He follows that with a spin in the Volkswagen Passat HyMotion and the Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro concept. Which of these fuel cell vehicles holds the most promise? Tune in to find out.
Translogic 164: Driving the fuel cell vehicles of the 2014 LA Auto Show originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 26 Nov 2014 12:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. The honkin', stonkin' second-generation CTS-V, powered by Cadillac's brawny supercharged 6.2-liter V8 has been a very good thing. And now that the 500 final coupes - the only CTS-Vs designated 2015 models - have been built (just five remain unsold as of this writing), it is indeed a good thing that's come to an end.
But Cadillac is not letting 2009-2015 CTS-V go gently into that good night, even as its replacement is poised to debut in just in just two months at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. Instead, Cadillac invited us to Austin's Circuit of the Americas racetrack for what it called an "Irish wake" for the model that has proven to be one of the quickest and most charismatic models in General Motors' history.
If you don't know what an Irish wake is, if you envision storytelling, songs, debauchery and more than a little liquor, you'll be in the ballpark. In this case, though, adrenaline substituted in for the booze, with squealing tires and shrieking V8s providing the singing. The debauchery took the form of an all-you-can-drive lapping of COTA in all three bodystyles - coupe, sedan and wagon - and the stories were told by the grins plastered on our faces all day.
Such Sweet Sorrow: Cadillac's CTS-V gets an Irish wake originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 26 Nov 2014 11:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Following on Volkswagen's official announcement that it was working on a ten-speed, dual-clutch transmission, Auto Express has it on "good authority" that the new transmission will end up in the next GTI, GTD and Golf R. The brand's current seven-speed will be retained for lesser eight-generation Golfs.
While the new gearbox won't be limited to just the higher-end Golf range, the new hatchback, expected in 2017, will be the first to get it, Auto Express reports. The new DSG is the same size as the Volkswagen Group's seven-speed dual-clutch, and will easily fit into VAG's MQB platform, so we should expect it to filter into the rest of the Group's vehicles, much like the seven-speed 'box has.
The ten-speed is likely to see applications beyond even the small cars of the MQB platform. The gearbox can handle 405 pound-feet of torque, according to AE, making its application in larger offerings such as the gas-powered MLB cars and crossovers a likelihood.
Beyond the new gearbox, Volkswagen is also toying with mild-hybrid tech for the standard Golf and better batteries for the e-Golf. As we said, expect the new Golf to arrive in European markets in 2017, with the current Euro-market Golf getting updated next year. As for the US, we wouldn't be surprised if VW followed the trail blazed by the Mark 7, with a North American arrival for the eight-gem Golf slated for a year or so after sales in Europe begin.Permalink | Email this | Comments
The à la carte menu for the 2016 Ford Explorer is ready for your... umm... exploring. The first page of the refreshed model's configurator reveals the lineup, including the new Platinum trim, and price increases for three of the carryover models. The base Explorer doesn't change by one red cent: it can still be had for $30,700. The XLT needs $33,400 (a $400 price bump), the Limited goes for $41,300 (a not insignificant $2,900 price increase), and the Sport requires $43,300 (a $200 increase). That new Platinum model goes where no Explorer MSRP has gone before, beginning at $52,600 (*all prices are subject to an $895 destination charge). However, since Ford has put almost everything in it, you can't jack the price up too much further unless you lose your mind in the accessories catalog.
You can quickly head that way lower down the order, though. The Limited's price jump appears to be due to the voice-activated navigation system, which comes standard; it was formerly part of a $2,600 option package. The Limited goes up by just $995 when specced with the new 2.3-liter EcoBoost, which raises the power over the 2.0-liter EcoBoost it replaces to 270 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque, but doesn't incur any fuel economy penalty. All-wheel drive tacks on another $2,000, safety features like active park assist and lane departure warning come as part of $3,000 Equipment Group A, and you'll still have another three pages of options to get through.
On the other hand, if you just want to get your family bundle into an Explorer without spending a bundle, the base model doesn't offer any packages and only has one option over $200. Let the research begin.
2016 Ford Explorer configurator reveals $30,700* base price, Platinum starts at $52,600* originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 26 Nov 2014 11:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
A teenage computer whiz hacked into software that controlled traffic lights in a southwestern US city. Once inside the program, the 16-year-old boy accessed systems that could wreak havoc. An investigator said the boy could have turned all the lights to a blinking-red default that would snarl traffic. Or worse, turned them all green.
That was 25 years ago.
The case opened the eyes of Jim Christy (pictured above), one of the arresting officers. He would go on to become the head of the cyber crime center within the US Department of Defense. Now Christy is warning automakers and transportation officials that not much has changed in the past quarter-century.
While the auto industry has begun addressing cyber-security holes in critical systems that run vehicles, Christy said during an appearance at the Los Angeles Auto Show the greater threats to motorists could lie in the sprawling infrastructures that communicate with cars or govern their movement.
Whether it's traffic lights, GPS or the digital short-range communications that will handle the upcoming autonomous car era, these systems may be more attractive targets for hackers or terrorists because they hold the potential to cause greater harm and because they're cheaper entry points.
Traffic lights could be next big cyber attack threat [w/videos] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 26 Nov 2014 10:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
As the calendar shifts, so do Alfa Romeo's plans. At the LA Auto Show, Harald Wester, head of Alfa Romeo, said the brand would unveil its second US model - after the 4C - next June, but he wouldn't identify the type of car. A report in Automotive News Europe, quoting sources, says that it will be a midsize sedan in the mold of the erstwhile 159 (pictured) that was supposed to become the Giulia but now has a new brief and perhaps a new name.
"Giulia" should be familiar because we've been hearing about it for more than three years - in fact it was 2011 when it was thrown back on the drawing board for a complete redesign. Last year the plan - or the anonymously-sourced bits of the plan that we kept getting - were for the platform to go rear-wheel drive and do duty for both a BMW 3 Series and 5 Series competitor. ANE's latest intel is that the coming midsize sedan will be come in between the 3 Series and 5 Series - a strategy used by the original Cadillac CTS - slotting in beneath a "flagship sedan" that would fit between the 5 Series and 7 Series. That would appear to contradict a direct challenge to the entry-level segment's standard-bearer, and perhaps the M3, too.
Those two Alfa sedans would be part of an eight-model onslaught happening over the next four years, which is a new matrix compared to April of this year when that was reported to be six models over the next five years. ANE says work has started on three of them, a midsize SUV said to be the third. The push is to get Alfa to 400,000 annual sales - 100,000 more than the April target - with the US accounting for 150,000 of that.
Alfa Romeo's midsize sedan due in June, and we'll get it originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 26 Nov 2014 09:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments