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Report: Tesla China president steps down after fewer than 9 months on the job

Autoblog - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 14:31

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In July, 2013, before Tesla had delivered its first car to China, CEO Elon Musk called the country a "wild card." A year on, that continues to be the case, with media reports all over the spectrum concerning how Tesla is doing in China. The immediate future won't be any calmer with news that Tesla China president Veronica Wu has resigned from the company, having just taken the job in April. Hers follows the sudden departure of Kingston Chang, the man she replaced; he was hired away from Bentley China in March, 2013 and left in March of this year citing personal reasons.

Observers have put the latest departure down to the difficulties of Tesla's expansion efforts. In spite of widely acknowledged pent-up demand and the Model S being priced below expectations in China, the company has stumbled a few times navigating issues such as customs paperwork, on-time customer deliveries, navigation systems with local mapping and the installation of charging equipment for customers in rural areas. Speculative articles questioning the company's actual sales numbers in China inflate the narrative of a "speed bump" in the way of Tesla's ambitions.

Tesla China's head of charger network development, Tom Zhu, will run the company in the interim.

Tesla China president steps down after fewer than 9 months on the job originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 16 Dec 2014 09:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Chrysler Group becomes FCA US

Leftlane - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 14:00
Name change follows global update from October.






Official: BMW to show car that can park itself in a multi-story garage at CES

Autoblog - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 13:45

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Automatic parking systems are something of a novelty, in their present form. Sure, modern parallel parking systems work well enough. And they're great if you lack the special awareness required to complete such a task. But frankly, how often is the average owner of such a system in a position to use it? Perpendicular parking systems, meanwhile, are basically an admission that you don't really deserve a driver's license.

Novelties these systems may be, but they promise a future where we won't even need to be behind the wheel to park our cars. BMW is going to deliver a vision of that future at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show with the Remote Valet Parking Assistant, a smartwatch-activated system that takes the driver out of the parking equation and replaces them with an advanced collision avoidance system.

Fitted to an i3 for CES, the BMW system relies on four laser scanners to map the surrounding environment and identify obstacles. Combined with a digital site plan for a building, the company claims its car can navigate its way to an open parking spot, moving around even unexpected obstacles like improperly parked cars. The car's owner can step out of the vehicle at the intended destination, and then tap the smartwatch app for vehicle parking and retrieval.

BMW claims this system will allow more precise control than GPS, particularly in something like a multi-story parking deck. While it's an intriguing route with autonomous technology, we wonder how much is required of these digital site plans.

There are more practical uses of this technology, beyond valet parking. According to BMW, the collision-avoidance technology can aid a driver in low-light conditions, automatically braking the car for its driver when an obstruction is detected.

Look for more on BMW's Remote Valet Parking system as the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show approaches. Until then, scroll down for the full press release.

Continue reading BMW to show car that can park itself in a multi-story garage at CES

BMW to show car that can park itself in a multi-story garage at CES originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 16 Dec 2014 08:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Citroen reveals updated C4 hatchback

Autoblog - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 12:58

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Everyone wants a slice of the pie that's mostly eaten up by the likes of the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf. That includes Citroën, of course, which competes in the segment with the C4. Based on the same underpinnings as the Peugeot 308, the C4 was introduced back in 2004 to replace the Xsara and was replaced with an all-new model in 2010. But that was almost five years ago, so to keep pace with the competition, the Chevron marque has launched an updated version for 2015.

The changes to the new C4 are limited, but include new headlights with LED running lights, 3D-effect tail lamps and an interior with new upholstery and streamlined dashboard with seven-inch touchscreen display. The sound deadening has also been enhanced, there's a massaging front seat, a panoramic glass sunroof and a host of new technologies including hill-start assist, blind-spot monitoring and an intelligent traction control system. Power comes from a range of engines including a new three-cylinder option with 130 horsepower.

Continue reading Citroen reveals updated C4 hatchback

Citroen reveals updated C4 hatchback originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 16 Dec 2014 07:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Ford to unveil 600-horsepower GT in Detroit?

Leftlane - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 10:20
Rumors indicate just 1,200 examples of the 600-horsepower coupe will be built.






Lamborghini Asterion concept headed for production?

Leftlane - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 08:30
If built, the Asterion will be Lamborghini's first-ever hybrid.






Autoblog Podcast #410 Goes LIVE at 10PM Eastern!

Autoblog - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 02:30

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We're almost ready to record Episode #410 of the Autoblog Podcast! You can check out the topics below, add your own to the Q&A and join us live via UStream, as well. Keep reading for our embedded UStream player, and thanks for listening!

Discussion Topics for Autoblog Podcast Episode #410

Continue reading Autoblog Podcast #410 Goes LIVE at 10PM Eastern!

Autoblog Podcast #410 Goes LIVE at 10PM Eastern! originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 15 Dec 2014 21:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Video: Jay Leno checks out Ronin RS 211, a Lotus Elise transformed

Autoblog - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 01:00

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You know a vehicle is going to be something special when you need a pair of goggles to drive it, and this highly customized Lotus lives up to that promise. The owner refers to his one-off as the Ronin RS 211, but underneath that barely there body are a few parts left from a 2005 Lotus Elise.

Owner Frank Profera totaled his Elise when a Porsche rear-ended it, but he wasn't willing to give the sports car up. With a canvas to build from, Profera took inspiration from the Lotus 2-Eleven and Can-Am cars, and the Ronin resulted. Not content with just a svelte body, the powertrain received just as thorough an upgrade as the looks. The engine still displaces 1.8 liters but features improved internals. The pièce de résistance, though, is the custom turbocharger setup that runs on a mix of pump gas and alcohol to put out a claimed 680 horsepower, which sounds great screaming through the California canyons.

"Ronin" is a Japanese word for a master-less samurai, and with its featherlight weight, just a vestigial windshield and gobs of power, the RS 211 is a fantastic automotive symbol for the type of sword such a warrior might carry. Watch as Jay takes an extra long drive on the latest episode of Jay Leno's Garage.

Continue reading Jay Leno checks out Ronin RS 211, a Lotus Elise transformed

Jay Leno checks out Ronin RS 211, a Lotus Elise transformed originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 15 Dec 2014 20:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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U-Turn: What you missed on 12.15.14

Autoblog - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 00:32

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Porsche 911 GT3 Cup ANDIAL track test

We get our hands on a very rare (read: it's the only one), very powerful, and very awesome Porsche 911, and take it for a spin on the track. It's called the 911 GT3 Cup ANDIAL Edition, and it's a far more hardcore version of the already track-ready GT3 Cup car. It's not cheap, but from our experience behind the wheel, it feels like a total racecar bargain.




Translogic: Porsche 918 Spyder

The super hot Porsche 918 Spyder may officially be sold out, but that hasn't stopped us from getting one more crack behind the wheel of the company's hybrid supercar. The team at Translogic takes one out for a proper test, with host Jonathon Buckley explaining why this Porsche is far more interesting than the rest.




Volvo to sell cars online, skip auto shows

Here's some interesting news. Volvo has announced plans to sell its cars directly to customers over the internet, as part of a new way to reach customers worldwide. Furthermore, Volvo says it will stay away from having a huge presence at major auto shows, focusing instead on three big expos. There's a lot to learn about Volvo's new plans, here.




Top Stories

What you missed on 12.15.14 originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 15 Dec 2014 19:32:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Edag planning this lightweight backlit-fabric sports car for Geneva

Autoblog - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 00:01

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At the Geneva Motor Show this year EDAG Engineering showed off its Genesis Cockpit concept. Built with a 3D printing technique called "fused deposition modeling," it was a skeletal passenger cell suspended inside a protective shell. At next year's Geneva show EDAG will present another take on the natural forms combined with 3D printing with its Light Cocoon concept (click the image to enlarge).

Whereas the Genesis took inspiration from a turtle skeleton, the Light Cocoon tips its hat to the humble leaf - the tree kind, not the Nissan kind - by being a fabric membrane stretched over a skeletal structure. EDAG considers its creation the "ultimate in lightweight construction," its outer coating a waterproof fabric from Jack Wolfskin called Texapore Softshell that we're told is one-quarter the weight of copier paper. Making the most of the design, backlighting shows off the coupe's 'bones' underneath its skin.

Undoubtedly a neat concept, it reminds us of the BMW GINA Light Visionary Model from 2008, which had an opaque fabric covering stretched over metal and carbon fiber wires. Its aim was not only light weight and a take on new build processes, it was a shape-shifter; electrohydraulic actuators could rearrange its skeleton. We look forward to checking out the Light Cocoon next year, but we're more interested in seeing how EDAG would render its Genesis cockpit as a complete vehicle. EDAG's official press release with a few more details is below.

Continue reading Edag planning this lightweight backlit-fabric sports car for Geneva

Edag planning this lightweight backlit-fabric sports car for Geneva originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 15 Dec 2014 19:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Koenigsegg coming to North America with two models

Autoblog - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 23:32

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It's not every day that Koenigsegg comes out with something really new. Its Agera may be one of the fastest cars on the road, but though there have been many iterations along the way, it's essentially based on the same car the Swedish automaker has been building for the past decade or two. The latest word has it, though, that Koenigsegg is planning something new - but that's not even the biggest news.

According to Car and Driver, the House That Christian Built is planning a full-on assault of the American market. The company has already announced representation through Manhattan Motorcars in New York, which will sell one example of the highly exclusive One:1 for use only on the track and in limited "show and display" outings on public roadways. But C/D reports that there will be another three dealers set up across North America. With the northeast already covered, we'd imagine there'll be one in Toronto to cover the Canadian market, one in California, and one somewhere in the South - maybe in Texas or Florida.

To get its cars on the road, Koenigsegg will have to invest big to meet US homologation standards, and that means costly smart airbags, among other requirements. The Agera will need to be retrofitted, then, but the new model - whatever it will be - is likely being developed with US regs in mind. Just what that model will be, we don't know for sure at this point. C/D says we'll find out sometime next year. But we have a feeling it won't be an SUV.

Last we heard, Koenigsegg was planning an "entry-level" supercar with a $650,000 price tag. That might not be accessible to most, but it'll bring the Scandinavian exotic supercar manufacturer into a whole new market from the million-dollar exotics of which it's only made 115 examples in its history.

Koenigsegg coming to North America with two models originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 15 Dec 2014 18:32:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Spy Shots: Mercedes GLS updates Silver Star seven-seater

Autoblog - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 22:59

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It can be bewildering, the staggering array of crossovers and SUVs offered by Mercedes-Benz. There's the G, the GL, the GLK and the GLA, not to mention the new GLE and the ML that basically started it all. So you can forgive yourself if you've never heard of the GLS. After all, it doesn't currently exist. But it will soon.

In accordance with Benz's new nomenclature, the GLS-Class will be the replacement for the GL - the largest of the Mercedes utility vehicles and the only one with three rows of seats. Since the current GL was only launched about two and a half years ago, the new nameplate won't be attached to an all-new model just yet. But as you can see from these spy shots, it appears that Mercedes is preparing a facelifted version of the existing model to fit into the new (or at least renamed) lineup.

The biggest changes discernible from these spy shots is the revised front end, with new headlights, a more upright grille and a reshaped bumper and hood to go along with it. Around back the changes are more subtle, with reshaped tail lamps, bumper and exhaust pipes. Inside we're expecting a cleaner center console with a new 8-inch touchscreen reportedly inspired by the iPhone.

We don't know when, exactly, to expect the revised GLS to arrive on the scene, but given the relatively modest nature of the revisions and how close they look to being ready, we wouldn't expect it to be long now. Whether those minor changes will be enough to keep up with the all-new Audi Q7 just announced, however, is another matter entirely.

Mercedes GLS updates Silver Star seven-seater originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 15 Dec 2014 17:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Submit Your Questions for Autoblog Podcast #410 LIVE!

Autoblog - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 22:32

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We're set to record Autoblog Podcast #410 this evening. Check out the topics below or drop us your questions and comments via the Q&A module. And don't forget to subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes if you haven't already done so. To take it all in live, tune in to our UStream (audio only) channel at 10:00 PM Eastern tonight.

Discussion Topics For Autoblog Podcast Episode #410
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Submit Your Questions for Autoblog Podcast #410 LIVE! originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 15 Dec 2014 17:32:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Toledo plant to set record with 500K Jeeps in one year

Leftlane - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 22:26
Strong demand for Cherokee, Wrangler has helped the facility lift its annual production record.






Video: Holiday cheer is just the ticket for Michigan motorists

Autoblog - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 21:57

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Getting pulled over by police is seldom a pleasant experience for a motorist. And when that traffic stop comes in the middle of the holiday season, it can really put a damper on a driver's spirit. But the police department in Lowell, MI, set about changing all that.

As part of the Uplift Someone Christmas initiative, Officer Scot VanSolkema of the Lowell Police Department pulled over a handful of drivers for a variety of supposed traffic violations. While talking to the drivers in question, Officer VanSolkema ascertained what was on their shopping lists, radioed to his back-up elves and delivered all manner of presents to them right there by the side of the road.

It's just the kind of thing that can make someone's day and change the public's perception of what serving the public can mean. Scope out the footage in the video above and have yourself a happy holiday season.

Continue reading Holiday cheer is just the ticket for Michigan motorists

Holiday cheer is just the ticket for Michigan motorists originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 15 Dec 2014 16:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: South Dakota yanks double-entendre 'Don't Jerk and Drive' campaign [w/video]

Autoblog - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 21:30

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The South Dakota Office of Highway Safety just can't take its own suggestive joke. The government organization recently started a public service campaign with the far too easily mocked name Don't Jerk and Drive. It was supposed to educate drivers on how to handle hitting snowy or icy patches of road by not overcorrecting the steering wheel, but the double entendre was deemed too racy for the roads.

Some citizens were reportedly upset about the suggestive title, and a state representative was allegedly planning a hearing, according to the Argus Leader. Government officials stopped the campaign believing it was distracting from the actual goal. "The message is that we'd prefer drivers keep their cars out of the ditch and their minds out of the gutter," said Lee Axdahl, director of the office of Highway Safety, to the Argus Leader.

The officials behind the slogan were not so naïve to miss the obvious sexual double-entendre in the slogan. However, the ads were meant to grab the attention of young men because they were found to be most likely to overcorrect and cause these types of accidents. Despite the controversy, the campaign was proving popular. According to the Argus Leader, there was a surge of views on the office's Facebook page to see the PSA.

While this campaign is ostensibly over, a video version of the PSA is still available on YouTube from the Office of Highway Safety. Check it out below to see what some the hand-wringing is about.

Continue reading South Dakota yanks double-entendre 'Don't Jerk and Drive' campaign [w/video]

South Dakota yanks double-entendre 'Don't Jerk and Drive' campaign [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 15 Dec 2014 16:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Volvo wants to sell cars online, skip most auto shows

Autoblog - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 20:44

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Volvo is completely rethinking its marketing strategy with an approach that it calls the Volvo Way to Market. The revised plan means an increase in the company's advertising budget overall and a totally different way to allocate those funds. The most dramatic shift is the Swedish automaker's decision to begin selling its models online directly to customers worldwide.

Volvo is leaving out specifics of its online sales strategy at the moment, but it promises that the approach doesn't push out its current dealers. According to Reuters, models sold through the web still go through the seller network for delivery. "We don't see a car distribution network without dealers in the foreseeable future," said company sales boss Alain Visser in an interview with Reuters.

The automaker already tested the online waters this year with the Special Edition XC90 that sold out in 47 hours and for the 120 US reservations of the S60 and V60 Polestar models. Tesla has been one of the major proponents of direct sales thanks in part to its unique model of having discrete stores. However, BMW and Ford have also made attempts at it in some regions.

Volvo is also cutting back on big auto show launches and plans to focus on just three events each year in the near future: the Geneva Motor Show, the alternating Shanghai and Beijing Motor Shows and the Detroit Auto Show. Instead of making reveals at the others, the company wants to conduct its own annual event to showcase vehicles. The strategy includes cutting back on sponsorships as well, except for the Volvo Ocean Race.

In perhaps the most bizarre move of the bunch, the automaker wants its dealers to highlight the brand's Swedish heritage. This means including "sound and smell elements that portray a Scandinavian spirit," according to the company's press release, plus Swedish cuisine in the waiting area. Read the full announcement below and look forward to enjoying some lingonberry jam during your next showroom visit.

Continue reading Volvo wants to sell cars online, skip most auto shows

Volvo wants to sell cars online, skip most auto shows originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 15 Dec 2014 15:44:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Bentley aims for 20K annual sales by 2020

Leftlane - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 20:04
The ambitious goal represents a doubling of sales in just seven years.






Video: Top Gear Patagonia Christmas special looks like a good one

Autoblog - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 19:58

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It's been nine months since we've seen a new episode of Top Gear. That's enough time to bring a human being into the world, but with due respect to all the mothers out there (including our own), it seems like the birthing this latest special from everyone's favorite British car show has been more tumultuous. Now, after its share of thrills, spills and chills, the BBC's new baby is about ready to enter the world.

We're talking, of course, about the Patagonia special that will be Top Gear's Christmas episode for this year. The hit show's latest trans-continental road trip took Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May across South America, taking in everything the continent has to offer and ticking off its share of locals along the way. In fact the trio had to flee Argentina after a reference (perceived or intentional) to the Falklands War made through Clarkson's license plate angered a local mob.

We've been waiting ever since for the episode to actually air, and air it will in two parts on BBC Two and BBC Two HD on December 27 and 28. But before it does, the Beeb has released this twenty-second trailer to give us an idea of what to expect. Aside, that is, from a hoard of pissed-off, horca-wielding war vets.

Continue reading Top Gear Patagonia Christmas special looks like a good one

Top Gear Patagonia Christmas special looks like a good one originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 15 Dec 2014 14:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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