Nielsen statistics show Chinese consumers are more interested in autonomous technology than the US and Germany.China's auto market continues to grow, and it's having an increasingly important effect on the bottom line for all automakers worldwide. Just look at examples like General Motors' strong recent growth or Porsche's expanding sales. In addition to being vital for business, some industry watchers think the nation's huge consumer force might just make it the premier place for automatic driving technology to prosper more quickly than in any other market.
According to Ward's Auto, recent Nielsen statistics show that Chinese consumers are more interested in autonomous driving technology than their counterparts in both the US and Germany. The people there are more willing to pay to add it to their vehicles, too.
Rolf Kremer, Continental's Chinese operations boss, thinks that highly automated driving features may be offered in the market as soon as 2016, according to Ward's Auto. After that, partially autonomous driving tech could possibly be ready by 2020, and fully autonomous motoring might be feasible by 2025.
The country's national and local governments are also pursuing autonomous driving with zeal, and it's not hard to understand why. Traffic congestion is a major problem in many cities. China also loses about 100,000 people a year to auto accidents, compared to 34,080 in the US in 2012 or around 12,000 in the EU that year. While autonomous driving won't eliminate either problem completely, studies indicate they might make things safer, at least in some situations.
Furthermore, welcoming this technology might be easier for the Asian nation's consumers because affordable auto ownership is a relatively new phenomenon - at least compared to North America and Europe. Whats more, there's a strong chauffeur-driven culture, particularly in bigger cities. These factors, along with a number of others, could well might lessen whatever stigma among drivers there might be about handing over control to a machine.
Why China is more eager for self-driving cars than the West originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 23 Oct 2014 08:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
There are a lot of things in this world that can make you feel pretty defeated - just turn on the national news on any given night for dozens of examples. It's nice every once in a while to get a reminder that things aren't always so bad. If you're looking for a little pick-me-up, just watch this video.
This five-minute mini-documentary tells the story of The Running Rebels of Milwaukee, WI, as they take part in a contest called Build Moto. The group targets high-school kids who might be close to falling into gang life in the city or just need a place to go, and mentors teach them how to do something productive: build motorcycles. As part of Build Moto, each team has just 100 days to complete a bike from scratch, and later, all of the squads compete in various challenges.
It has to be hard to compress 100 days of work into just a few minutes, but this documentary tells a cohesive story about the team. Check out the video to see a cool project for at-risk kids that results in some pretty neat motorcycles.
Mini-doc showing at-risk kids building motorcycles in 100 days will warm your heart originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 22 Oct 2014 20:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
2015 Subaru Outback review
The Subaru Outback strikes an interesting balance between the needs of the everyday crossover shopper and the wants of car enthusiasts. It's more of a tall wagon than a proper CUV, and even with its 2.5-liter boxer-four and continuously variable transmission, it's pretty nice to drive. Brandon Turkus explains in his review, here.
Scion's LA Auto Show concept previewed
Finally - something new from Scion is on the horizon. Kind of. Teased today, Toyota's youthful-ish brand will be bringing the new iM to this year's Los Angeles Auto Show, though it's kind of hard to tell exactly what's in store. Scion claims it's a pretty sporty offering, but we'll have to wait and see. In the meantime, check out these first few teasers.
Takata recall expanded, affected car list updated
The big Takata airbag recall keeps getting bigger, and there's a new, updated list of affected models now available for your perusal. Unfortunately, the there still seem to be a number of inaccuracies, and NHTSA's own VIN-lookup site is overwhelmed by this situation. Read through the latest installment of the Takata saga, here.
- Check out the trick way you access the tire valve on this BMW Alpina B6
- BMW i8 with 500+ horsepower in the cards?
- Ford readying dozen+ Mustang models for SEMA
It seems like BMW is pretty committed to this whole X4 thing. Aside from the current xDrive28i and xDrive35i, we've captured a round of spy photos showing what our spy shooters tell us is a more dynamic M40i model.
The higher-performance hunchback follows in the footsteps of BMW's other sub-M cars like the M235i. In fact, much like the high-po 2 Series, the M40i is expected to make use of a 3.0-liter, turbocharged six-cylinder, developing 365 to 375 horsepower.
Aside from that, the rest of the X4 M40i fits the brief of other near-M models, with a more aggressive body kit, larger wheels, firmer suspension and brawnier brakes. Expect some mild tweaks inside, too, including sportier seats and an M-specific steering wheel.
Judging by the uncamouflaged nature of this tester caught testing on Germany's Nürburgring, production will kick off before the end of the year, perhaps in December. That means a LA Auto Show debut is likely, provided BMW opts to sell the hotter X4 in the US market. Take a look above for our full gallery of spy photos.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Honda has built two Accords for many years. There's the one we're familiar with here in the United States, and then there's the Accord sold in markets like Europe and Australia, known here in the US as the Acura TSX. But just like Acura did with the TSX, the Euro-market Accord has been discontinued.
The news comes from The Motor Report in Australia, which is reporting that the Accord Euro will be discontinued in 2015. Sold Down Under alongside the US-market model, the discontinuation of the Aussie car indicates an end to Honda's midsize sedan efforts in Europe, where there is no obvious replacement for the four-door and wagon models.
According to TMR, Honda Australia Director Stephen Collins indicated that focus will be placed instead on the US market "wide-body" model, as it's known. That said, this decision doesn't sound like it's sitting too well in Oz.
"To be honest, we're a bit disappointed in the global decision for it to be discontinued," Collins told TMR. "If we had our way, we would definitely be continuing down that track."
Collins, meanwhile, ruled out rebadging the Acura TLX, saying it's "definitely not" a replacement for the Accord Euro.
Honda discontinuing Euro Accord, no replacement in sight originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 22 Oct 2014 18:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Anyone who's a car fan knows that Jaguar and Land Rover cars and trucks all come from the UK. And while we don't doubt that will remain true for the most part, it won't be an absolute truth for long, as the British automaker has just opened its first factory overseas.
Its new plant in Changshu, China, is the result of a $1.8-billion joint venture between JLR and local automaker Chery. It covers some 4.3-million square feet and will, once at peak capacity, produce 130,000 units specifically for the Chinese market, where JLR sells over 100,000 vehicles each year to make it the company's single largest market worldwide.
Production at what's officially known as the Chery Jaguar Land Rover Automotive Company will start with the Evoque, of which one in five globally are currently sold in China. Production will eventually encompass three models. We already know that the Discovery Sport will be next, but the third model line has yet to be announced. JLR has confirmed, however, that the Changshu plant will produce unique models and derivatives specifically for the Chinese market, so we wouldn't be surprised to see a long-wheelbase version of the forthcoming XE or next-generation XF assembled there to satisfy local tastes.
The Changshu location isn't the only overseas plant Jaguar Land Rover has in store. A new plant in Brazil is set to come on line in 2016, and another is reportedly being considered in the southern United States. Don't think that JLR is abandoning its traditional home, however, as the company is also set to open a new engine plant later this month in Wolverhampton, England, in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.
Jaguar Land Rover opens first overseas factory in China originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 22 Oct 2014 18:03:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Former Fisker Automotive CEO and ex-Chevrolet Volt vehicle-line director Tony Posawatz has some words of caution for Tesla Motors. The long-time automaker executive questions the California automaker's long-term viability - and gives some praise - in a talk with Benzinga, which you can listen to below.
While the all-wheel-drive D that Tesla unveiled earlier this month in Southern California wowed a packed crowd, Posawatz (starting at around minute 4:45 in the interview) says Tesla would've been better off taking the resources it expended toward that Model S upgrade and directed them towards speeding up the development of a more affordable plug-in. Perhaps a number of investors agreed, since the company's stock fell the day after the D was announced.
Posawatz says Tesla has been over-reliant on the sale of ZEV credits.Posawatz also says that Tesla has been over-reliant on the sale of zero-emissions vehicle credits in California for its earnings and questions whether the automaker will ever work at a large enough scale to sufficiently drive down costs and make consistent profits. Tesla CEO Elon Musk would take issue with this characterization.
Posawatz first made his mark in the plug-in vehicle world when he was the vehicle-line director at General Motors for the Volt extended-range plug-in from 2006 to 2012. Later that year, he joined extended-range plug-in maker Fisker Automotive as its CEO, though quit that job during the summer of 2013 as the company was descending into insolvency. He joined the Electrification Coalition this past March.
Former Fisker CEO has some advice for Tesla Motors originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Wed, 22 Oct 2014 17:56:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Caterham is hardly the most stable and successful team on the Formula One grid, but things are looking even more troubling for the embattled outfit, as the company that makes its racecars has reportedly filed for bankruptcy protection.
The company in question, Caterham Sports Limited, is separate from both the team that races its cars and the consumer automaker of the same name, an outfit best known for continuation versions of the classic Lotus Seven. Tony Fernandes, the Malaysian executive who first started the F1 team, then bought the automaker and thereafter sold the team to a consortium of investors a few months ago. But unlike other teams which produce their own chassis in-house, the Caterham team that fields the cars (incorporated as 1 Malaysia Racing Team) is a separate entity from the factory that makes them. It's that factory which has fallen into financial trouble.
In the short term, Caterham Sports Limited (CSL) has reportedly transferred the contracts of its 200 employees to 1MRT, but if the factory is liquidated, they won't have the facility or the equipment to operate. 1MRT insists that it remains unaffected by CSL's bankruptcy administration, but if the factory falters, the team likely won't have cars to race next season.
This is just the latest episode in a string of problems affecting the team, which recently changed leadership again after only a couple of months of independence. In five years on the grid now, the team has yet to score a single championship point (let alone a podium finish or race win) and currently sits dead last in the standings. It's only managed to get both of its cars to the finish line at seven of the sixteen grands prix so far this season.Permalink | Email this | Comments
The wheels are one of the first things you notice when checking out the 2015 BMW Alpina B6 xDrive Gran Coupe. The 20-inch aluminum alloy rollers have 21 spokes that spray out from their hubs, creating one of Alpina's signature design features. But there's also plenty of function to go along with the stylistic form of this hotted-up BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe.
By rotating the Alpina roundel and unlocking the center hub, you gain access to the tire valve and bolts, which are hidden inside. They're literally kept under lock and key, and they protect your Alpina's wheels from the elements and theft. This unique center-fill system employing a hollow spoke isn't a new setup for the favored BMW tuner, but since Autoblog had one in our offices this week, we thought we'd take the opportunity to show the unique mechanism in case you haven't seen it before. Check it out in our brief video below.
Check out the trick way you access the tire valve on this BMW Alpina B6 originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 22 Oct 2014 16:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Among the many things we were looking forward to seeing at Pebble Beach this year, the McLaren P1 GTR was near the top of our list. Invoking the spirit of the legendary McLaren F1 GTR that dominated sports car racing in the mid-1990s, the P1 GTR was unveiled in Monterey this past August in concept form, giving us an idea of what to expect. But now McLaren has given us a little more.
Envisioned as a track toy for the wealthy who want to play racing driver, the P1 GTR is a further evolution - and a more extreme one - of the road-going P1. The GTR is being developed exclusively for use on track. To that end, Woking has stripped out the cockpit and installed a multifunction steering wheel said to be derived from the championship-winning MP4-23 grand prix car, allowing the driver to "fully adjust the setup and characteristics of the car without having to take their hands off the wheel." The racing buckets are modeled after a DTM touring car, equipped with six-point harnesses and affixed directly to the chassis. Outside you'll notice Pirelli slicks and a fixed rear wing with F1-style Drag Reduction System.
The P1 GTR is about more than the vehicle itself, though, as McLaren - similar to what Ferrari offers with the XX client test-driver program - is launching a full driver support program to go along with it. Customers will have access to the advanced simulator at the McLaren Technology Centre (typically reserved for the team's contracted racing drivers) as well as the factory's coaches. The program will also include 10 to 12 track sessions each year, to be held at F1-certified tracks around the world, at which each customer will have his or her own garage and crew, all for the benefit of their enjoyment.
The program is laid out in the video below, along with which McLaren has released a fresh batch of images showing the uncamouflaged prototype inside and out undergoing hot-weather testing at the grand prix circuit in Bahrain.
McLaren offers glimpse inside P1 GTR program [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 22 Oct 2014 16:27:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Ford is unsurprisingly bringing a herd of its new 2015 Mustang models to next month's SEMA show in Las Vegas. Over a dozen of them are arriving from top aftermarket outfits like Galpin Auto Sports, Steeda, Roush and others. The Blue Oval isn't just shining a spotlight on the V8 model, though. The new EcoBoost 2.3-liter version with 310 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque is also getting its time in the sun.
Among the shined-up ponies will be a showcar helping Galpin celebrate the Mustang's golden anniversary, with the car is covered in the precious metal. The black paint over the body has gold flecks in it, and the wheels, side sills, brake calipers and badges all match, as well. However, it takes more than something shiny to truly impress at SEMA, and Galpin's Mustang also packs a Whipple supercharger for the 5.0-liter V8, boosting the bottom line to 725 horsepower. Take that, Hellcat. There's even a window in the hood to look through, not unlike a Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. The coupe also wears new headlights with LED turn signals that activate in sequence, just like the taillights, and the interior features black-and-gold Recaro seats.
Also set for its SEMA debut is an MRT showcar that takes the EcoBoost Mustang for a gallop with its TKO treatment. The black and orange two-tone car has been designed to incorporate select road racing elements. Mechanical upgrades include 14-inch brake rotors with new ducts, a Vortech air-to-air intercooler and an Air Lift suspension. The Mustang also shows off the company's products for added style and performance including a hood with integrated heat extractors and a unique front splitter.
Also in the mix, Petty's Garage will show a Mustang featuring a Roush supercharged engine, and it's painted in Richard Petty's famous No. 43 livery (inset). The car will later be auctioned by Barrett-Jackson for charity.
SEMA certainly looks like quite a corral for the latest Mustang. Scroll down to read the press releases from Ford, Galpin and MRT about what they have in store.Permalink | Email this | Comments
While BMW makes plenty of machinery to keep enthusiasts interested, its most enticing models are often based on more ordinary ones. That's what made the arrival of the i8 so captivating, emerging as the first stand-alone BMW sports coupe since the M1. But if its dual purpose - trying its best to both embrace the earth and traverse it rapidly - somehow left you disappointed, the next development could prove to fix that.
According to Automobile, BMW is working on a more potent i8S model. The hardcore version of the hybrid sports car would offer more power and a stiffened chassis to make it that much more aggressive. The Bavarian automaker is reportedly still evaluating two potential powertrain options: The first would pair a 2.0-liter twin-turbo four-cylinder good for 320 horsepower to an electric motor with another 204 hp. The second would use a 3.0-liter straight six with 480 hp and an electric motor with 109 hp. Both would be mated to a nine-speed dual-clutch transmission and an integrated starter motor packing an extra 27 hp.
Either way, we'd be looking at a combined output well in excess of 500 horsepower - far more than the existing i8's 228-hp turbo three and 129-hp electric motor - dropping the 0-62 time down from 4.1 seconds to an estimated 3.5. Couple that to a more advanced carbon chassis, wider tires and other goodies, and the i8 would be transformed into a far more capable performance machine than it already is.
Automobile says the project is not being undertaken by the M division but by the i brand that developed the i8 in the first place - including new program director Roberto Fedeli who came over from Ferrari. Its arrival would be timed to coincide with BMW's centenary celebrations in 2016.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Ever wish racing in real life was more like playing Gran Turismo or Forza? By that we don't mean lots of swearing and sideswiping other racers into corners - we just think it would just be useful to have all of the game's data available on-the-fly in real life, especially a ghost car for comparing previous laps. A solution for track drivers may be on the way from a company called High Rise Garage thanks to its software and giant head-up display called the GhostDash.
The whole system basically presents the entire HUD from a racing video game as an augmented reality display in an actual moving car. Looking through the 98-percent transparent screen, a driver can see a ghost car projection running its last lap. At the bottom, there's a display for current speed, the gap and lap times. It's supposed to make learning a faster line much easier. "We believe HUDs and ghost cars are the next step in utilizing the data racers collect to make it easier and safer," spokesman Justin Hayes tells Autoblog. We can see applications beyond racing, too, including basic driver's education programs.
The GhostDash is possible thanks to several pieces of technology working together. The raw data comes from a GPS unit that sends info to software running on a Windows device, which crafts it into an image. A linked projector then displays the HUD on a 15-inch holographic screen that hangs from a mount in front of the driver.
GhostDash isn't quite ready to buy yet, though. High Rise Garage is running a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of $43,500 to complete funding for the system, but the company claims the software and hardware work now. The business needs the funds for final development and manufacturing, and the company thinks it can start shipping units in January, 2015.
The Kickstarter campaign is broken into three major tiers. For $40, pledgers just get the software to run on a Windows device (the company recommends a Surface Pro tablet). For $1,900, people also get the projector and screen to display the HUD on. Finally, $3,600 also adds a Surface Pro 3 to run the software and Vbox Sport GPS unit. For the two lower levels, buyers need to supply their own GPS device and GhostDash currently supports three devices with plans to add two more.
Developing this kind of tech is a huge undertaking, but High Rise Garage is already considering the future. It eventually wants to add features like custom maps to support users who autocross and a racing line to the software. Scroll down to watch a video of the GhostDash in action and read the company's press release about it.
Novel head-up display aims to improve lap times with video-game-like ghost car [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 22 Oct 2014 14:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
For the past couple of decades, Land Rover has watched pretender after contender try to topple it from its throne as the world's ultimate purveyor of luxury SUVs. The British automaker has answered with an ever-expanding and ever-improving array of entries of its own, capped by a flagship Range Rover that seems to go more upscale every year, positioning itself as the high-riding counterpart to fellow British luxury marques like Jaguar and Bentley. It might even abide by the Leaping Cat, its sister company, launching a crossover of its own - heck, it'll even lend a helping hand or two - but in the case of Bentley, well, it won't be so quick to concede ground. What we're looking at here seems to be the fight it's preparing to put up.
This camouflaged prototype was spotted entering JLR's test center at the Nürburgring (our base for the day when we drove the XFR-S Sportbrake and other supercharged Jaguar specials recently around the Nordschleife). But what is it, exactly? It appears to be based on the long-wheelbase version of the Range Rover introduced nearly a year ago, but if you look around back you'll see four round tailpipes protruding from under that geometrically camo'd rear bumper - suggesting (even more than its presence at the 'Ring) that something more potent is afoot.
The natural conclusion is that JRL's new Special Vehicle Operations department is preparing an SVR version of the Range Rover L, which would likely feature the same 5.0-liter supercharged V8 as the XFR-S, XJR, F-Type R and (most poignantly) the new Range Rover Sport SVR. The engine will presumably arrive in similar 550-horsepower spec, but could also conceivably go for the 575 horses squeezed out for the Project 7 roadster. A sportier chassis, enhanced aero and upgraded brakes would help keep all that power and heft in check as it hustles VIPs around at breakneck speeds - and give Bentley's forthcoming SUV (which promises unprecedented levels of luxury with a 200-mph top end) a high-speed run for its leather suitcases full of pounds sterling.
Land Rover spotted testing long-wheelbase Range Rover SVR at the 'Ring originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 22 Oct 2014 14:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
A cursory look at the top of the automobile market would suggest that the world's carmakers are gunning it full steam ahead into a new stratosphere of ultra-luxury and high-performance utility vehicles. After all, companies like Bentley and Maserati are preparing to launch their very first crossovers, while established players like Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover keep producing ever more expensive sport-utes of their own. But that's not the case across the board.
Rolls-Royce, for example, has yet to receive the green light to start working on its proposed CUV project. Though the dimensions of its sedans may already eclipse those of some crossovers, this would be the first time that Goodwood would produce a utility of its own. But while the British automaker's financial performance may have earned it a degree of autonomy, the final call may still come down to parent company BMW, which just might be waiting to see how Bentley fares with its upcoming crossover - and how much money it brings in to the Volkswagen Group - before deciding on whether or not it should proceed.
However, Rolls-Royce may not be alone in waiting for its German parent company to approve its high-priced ute. It's been two and a half years since we first laid eyes on the Lamborghini Urus (pictured), but the Italian automaker reportedly has not yet received approval from its parent company Audi and the greater Volkswagen Group to proceed with development and production. Envisioned to share its platform with the next Volkswagen Touareg, Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne and the production version of the Bentley EXP 9 F concept, the high-riding Lamborghini was originally set to reach production as the marque's third model line in 2017. But while Audi drags its feet - potentially waiting to see how the Bentley version pans out - the Urus' launch keeps getting pushed back, if it's ever to be made at all.
Aston Martin was similarly considering a high-end crossover of its own to relaunch the Lagonda brand, but has expressed some doubts - fueled in no small part by the cold initial reception to its concept - opting in the meantime to develop a sedan instead.
Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini utilities await approval from German parents [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 22 Oct 2014 13:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments