The internal investigation General Motors is conducting regarding its response (and responsiveness) to the ignition switch recall might be having its first effects. The company has put two of its engineers on paid leave. According to The Detroit Free Press, this action took place after a briefing by its internal investigator, former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas. The engineers haven't been officially identified by GM.
"This is an interim step as we seek the truth about what happened. It was a difficult decision, but I believe it is best for GM," said CEO Mary Barra in the statement. GM recently created a new program called Speak Up for Safety that asks workers for ideas to make vehicles safer.
An early indication that some engineers might be in trouble came during the Senate hearing into the recall. Senator Claire McCaskill singled out a specific engineer for allegedly covering up the problem and claimed that the automaker held back important documents in legal cases. Barra admitted during the questioning that she was waiting for the results of the internal investigation before deciding what further action to take.
Much of the issue can be traced back to a spring that GM changed in its faulty ignition switches, but the part number wasn't altered. Senator McCaskill claims this is a sign of a cover-up. Not changing the number also led to a third round of the recall because the company couldn't identify which cars had properly functioning switches.
Recent reports indicate that regulators believe GM isn't being fully compliant in the investigation. The automaker didn't answer about a third of the 107 questions posed to it by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the organization has levied $28,000 in fines against the company. Scroll down to watch McCaskill's questions to Barra and read the announcement. We've contacted GM for more information about the engineers, and we'll update this story when he hear back.
Two GM engineers put on paid leave pending recall investigation [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 10 Apr 2014 13:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
If you've been having an easy day and haven't received your daily dose of unmitigated terror, then this video is for you. Dr. Guan Zhu, a Texas A&M professor, caught the above view on his dashcam in College Station, TX, as a cement truck ran a red light, lost control and rolled into his Toyota Sienna minivan.
Although he received only minor injuries, Dr. Zhu says that he blacked out during the accident. The truck driver also avoided serious injuries, and the Sienna took the hit rather well too. Scroll down to watch the footage and report from KBTX. Hopefully, this is as close anyone else ever gets to a terrifying event of this nature.
Watch this cement truck roll into Toyota minivan from driver's point of view originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 10 Apr 2014 12:34:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
It seems like only yesterday that we enjoyed a mad dash in McLaren's wild P1 hybrid wallet-breaker. Now here we are, already back with the Brits, this time in on the great roads of southern Spain and at Ascari Race Resort as McLaren launches what has already become its most important seller, the 650S. Available as both a $265,500 coupe and as a $280,225 roadster, we will focus hard here on the Spider since it's the greater conversation piece and will account for nearly ninety percent of North American deliveries. The car's very first US customers are taking delivery as you read this.
Though the 650S essentially takes what was offered in the original MP4-12C, pumps it all up and refines it nicely, this new member of the McLaren clan looks more like a P1, albeit one costing over three-quarters of a million dollars less than the real deal. Truth be told, 12C production ceased in January to allow 650S production to ramp up, and the new car will therefore serve as McLaren's entry-level model until its rumored Porsche 911- and Aston Martin V8 Vantage-rival comes along.
There were a handful of key things we hoped for in this new 650S: more power and torque than the 12C, a more finely tuned ride and handling balance no matter the H (handling) and P (powertrain) setting selected, more character from the bi-turbo V8's exhaust and a flashier, less banal design.
We're pleased to report that all of these issues have been addressed.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Audi and its Chinese joint-venture partner FAW have announced that they'll be building a production version of the Audi A6 E-Tron Concept, shown at the 2012 Beijing Motor Show. Based on the China-only long-wheelbase A6, the plug-in-hybrid model is being targeted specifically at the People's Republic.
Audi is promising a 50-kilometer (31-mile) electric range for the fuel-sipping sedan, although there are precious few details beyond that. We do know, though, that this will be a Chinese-built vehicle, with assembly slated for the FAW-Volkswagen joint-venture factory in Changchun. We presume we'll find out more when the Beijing Motor Show kicks off a few weeks from today.
"We are the market leader in China's premium segment and will continue systematically with the application of efficiency technologies. Audi is thus supporting the Chinese government's targets for the reduction of fuel consumption," said Dr. Dietmar Voggenreiter, the president of Audi China.
Take a look below for the full press release from Audi and FAW.Permalink | Email this | Comments
The 2001 Chevrolet Corvette Mallett Hammer Z06 has been plucked out of the sinkhole at the National Corvette Museum, but it definitely couldn't drive away like the 2009 ZR1 did when it came out. With the Mallet finally recovered, all eight 'Vettes that went into the hole are finally out after eight weeks of work. As you probably know, a 40-foot wide and 60-foot deep hole appeared in the museum's Skydome in early February, enveloping some of the rarest cars on display. General Motors plans to restore them, but they will go on display as-is at the museum for the next few months.
The 700-horsepower and 575-pound-feet-of-torque Mallett Hammer was one of the two cars that were hidden under rocks and dirt when the sinkhole swallowed the cars. It was found upside down and was destroyed beyond recognition by some of the heavy boulders that landed on it. "I expected bad, but it's 100 times worse. It looks like a piece of tin foil ... and it had a roll cage in it! It makes all the other cars look like they're brand new," said Mallett-donator Kevin Helmintoller in the official museum statement.
All eight Corvettes will go on display at the museum next week in an exhibit called Great 8 and remain there until NCM's 20th anniversary celebration on August 27-30. The museum's next step is to meet with the construction team, geo-technical firm and insurance company to decide how to repair the Skydome. Scroll down to watch videos of the cars being extricated.
National Corvette Museum says last sinkhole car extracted [w/videos] originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 10 Apr 2014 11:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Honda might be selling more hybrids if it could just get them to dealers. While the second-generation Insight never lived up to sales expectations and production is ending, the Japanese automaker is seeing strong demand for the Accord Hybrid here and abroad. However, there is so much global consumer desire that it can't keep them in US showrooms.
The problem limiting the sales of the Accord Hybrid is its battery pack and its popularity in Japan. "There's a waiting list for the product," said Jeff Conrad, Honda general manager, to Ward's Auto about the sedan's US popularity. While the American Accord is built in Marysville, OH, the batteries are imported from Japan, where the model is quite popular. According to Ward's data, the automaker sold 2,414 examples of the hybrid version from October 2013 to February 2014 in the US, but it shifted 6,000 units in Japan in its first three months on sale. Conrad also admitted that the constrained supply is limiting the amount of marketing the automaker can do for the hybrid.
Honda spokesperson Chris Martin told Autoblog the company is working on a solution to increase production for the near future. "We are going to resolve the battery issue," he said.
Honda has had a rocky road in launching its hybrids. Conrad admits that the Insight never got much of a marketing push after its launch. The CR-Z faces an uncertain future as well. Sales of it are ending in Europe for the 2015 model year, and Ward's data indicates that Honda only sold 4,550 of them in the US last year.Permalink | Email this | Comments
The beautiful red racecar you see above may not be what you think it is. It's not vintage, it has never actually seen competition, and it's not from Italy. What it is, though, is the wrapper that debuts a new powerplant from the crew at Motus, the small-scale American motorcycle manufacturer from Down South in Alabama. It was built by Race Car Replicas from Fraser, MI, and we think it's pretty darn awesome.
The beating heart underneath that sinewy bodywork is known as the Motus Baby Block MV4. This pushrod engine, with design help from such well-known engine builders as Katech and Pratt and Miller, and more recently Mast Powertrain and Performance Design, has been tuned to produce more than 180 horsepower at 8,200 rpm with a wide, flat torque plateau that peaks at 126 pound-feet at 5,000 rpm. Couple that kind of power with the 1,200-pound weight of the 1958 Ferrari F1 replica this particular MV4 resides in, and you'll be welcomed with quite the potential for performance.
Motus isn't yet talking pricing in the public, but is more than willing to hear your plans for its MV4 engine. The bright-red beauty seen here is set to make its public debut on April 11-13 at the Circuit of the Americas track, which, of course, will be otherwise preoccupied by hosting a round of MotoGP racing. Check out the high-res image gallery above, then scroll down below for some video and the official press release from Motus.
Motus and Race Car Replicas debut RCR Monoposto and Baby Block MV4 engine [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 10 Apr 2014 09:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
To ring out the end of the Ford Performance Vehicle division in Australia, the demise of Ford production Down Under, and to celebrate the history of iconic racing Falcons of yore, The Blue Oval is building a limited run of 550 FPV GT-F sedans, based on the current Falcon GT. The F, depressingly enough, is for "Final." Australia will get 500 of them, New Zealand the remainder, each with a 351-kilowatt (471-horsepower) V8 under the hood and a $AUD 77,900 ($72,860 US) price tag.
Blazes of glory will be ensured with one of five exterior hues with contrasting stripes, design traces that go back to seventies Ford muscle cars and badging. That motor, its kW rating a nod to the cubic-inch measurement of Bathurst-winning cars, will get its power to the road via the specially tuned suspension setup lifted from the Falcon GT R-Spec, with six-piston Brembo brakes in front on deceleration duty.
The GT-F will be joined in the special edition queue by 120 units of a FPV V8 Pursuit Ute, powered by a 5.0-liter V8 with 423 hp. You can get more details on both in the press release below.
Ford planning Falcon GT final edition for Australia originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 10 Apr 2014 09:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Ferrari has got to be a great place to work. In fact, it's named as one of the best places to work in Europe year after year. Add to that the pride of making some of the coolest cars in the business, running one of the winningest teams in all of motorsports (even if the Scuderia isn't doing so well thus far this season) and all around standing for the best Italy has to offer, and you've got the makings of a dream job. And it just got a bit sweeter.
That's because Ferrari has just awarded each and every one of its employees a bonus of 4,096 euros - the most the company has ever paid. That's equivalent to over $5,600 at today's exchange rates, and represents a whopping 20 percent of the annual salary for a recently hired young employee. Following two advances of 1,000 euros each, that means employees will find an extra 2,096 euros in their pay checks this month, which may not be enough to buy a new California T or 458 Speciale, but should finance a nice shopping spree of t-shirts and paperweights at the Ferrari Store or a family vacation to Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi.
The bonuses are part of a deal signed with the union in 2012, but are enabled by record profits reported by the company over the last couple of years. After 2012 emerged as Ferrari's most profitable fiscal year, it moved to reduce production, thereby increasing the value of each new car it sells to drive profits up even higher. Nice work, in short, if you can get it.
Ferrari gives employees record $5,600 bonus on strong year originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 10 Apr 2014 08:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
To say that Saab has had a tough time lately would be like saying that it's been a little colder than usual this winter. After General Motors finally gave up and sold it to Spyker in 2010, Saab declared bankruptcy the following year. GM successfully blocked Spyker from selling Saab to Chinese automaker Youngman the following year, but ultimately it ended up in the hands of another Chinese consortium called NEVS. Standing as it does for National Electric Vehicle Sweden, the new owners promised not only to restart production of the long-suffering 9-3, but also to turn it into an electric vehicle. And that's just what it's doing.
The latest news coming out of Sweden indicates that NEVS/Saab has started building the first examples of the 9-3 EV. These first 200 or so examples are set to be shipped off to Qingdao - the Chinese city that is home to the Tsingtao brewery, hosted the sailing components of the 2008 summer games on Beijing, was supposed to host an IndyCar race in 2012 before it was canceled, and also itself just happens to own 22 percent of NEVS.
These first EVs have their batteries mounted down low in the chassis for a low center of gravity and have a range of about 20 miles on a full charge. That's absolutely paltry compared to the other EVs on the market: a Nissan Leaf will travel more than four times that distance, and a Tesla Model S will go ten times farther on a charge.
Hopefully once production ramps up Saab and NEVS will have better battery tech on their hands. That, and maybe a newer car to install them in: the current Saab 9-3 (pictured in the updated image gallery above) has been on the market since 2003, outlasting any of its GM Epsilon platform-mates.Permalink | Email this | Comments
The Beijing Motor Show is just a couple of weeks away, and BMW wouldn't miss out on the opportunity to show off its latest wares to one of its most vital markets. So when the doors open in Beijing, BMW will showcase the new 2 Series Active Tourer, 2 Series Coupe, M3 and M4, 4 Series Gran Coupe and X4. It will also introduce the i3 and i8 to China for the first time. But those are all models we've seen already. What's new is... wait for it... the 7 Series Horse Edition.
Not celebrating horses so much as the Year of the Horse, this special edition 7 Series is based on the long-wheelbase model and comes with all manner of M equipment packages, a special paint job from BMW Individual and unique touches inside and out. BMW isn't saying which engine it features, but it sells the series in China in 730Li, 740Li, 750Li, 760Li and ActiveHybrid forms, with rear- or all-wheel drive. Given that the one pictured is wearing an xDrive badge, it would have to be either the 740Li or 750Li, but buyers will presumably be able to order it in whichever spec they desire.
While it may not be as exciting as the 9 Series concept BMW is rumored to have lined up for the Beijing show as well, you can bet that the Bavarian automaker will find plenty of buyers for this extra-special, extra-Chinese, extra-equestrian luxury sedan, and command a healthy premium from each and every one of them.
BMW bringing special Horse Edition 7 Series to Beijing originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 10 Apr 2014 07:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments