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Kia Soul EV ad campaign charges up with sexified hamsters

Autoblog - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 23:58

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It's official: Kia's adorable Soul-hawking Hamsters have crossed that line. It was one thing when they first hit the scene, and we got a small chuckle out of their trimmer looks for the refreshed, 2014 Soul. This, though, is too much.

This is Kia's latest commercial for the 2015 Soul EV, and it starts off typically enough. The hamsters seem to be tinkering in a laboratory attempting to modify a standard, gas-powered Kia. But then, some Weird Science-like trickery occurs and, well, the results are rather disturbing.

You'll need to watch yourself if you want to experience the horror. Take a look, and then head into Comments and let us know what you think.

Continue reading Kia Soul EV ad campaign charges up with sexified hamsters

Kia Soul EV ad campaign charges up with sexified hamsters originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 21 Aug 2014 18:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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American rookie Alexander Rossi to make first F1 start in Belgium

Autoblog - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 23:30

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For the first time since July of 2007, an American driver will take to the grid for a race in the Formula One World Championship. That man will be 22-year-old Alexander Rossi, a Californian widely touted as the next great hope for American F1 fans following his steady climb through the open-wheel ranks.

Rossi will be taking the seat of Marussia F1 driver Max Chilton, who has been subbed out "while contractual issues are resolved," according to the team's statement on Formula1.com.

"It goes without saying that I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to race in Formula 1 for the first time," Rossi said, according to F1.com. "I cannot thank the Marussia F1 Team enough for the faith they are demonstrating in me."

At this point, Rossi will fill in at this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix, at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps, only, with Marussia team principal John Booth saying the American's race debut wasn't originally in the cards.

"Naturally we hope to resume normal service with respect to our established race driver line-up as soon as possible, but for now we wish Alexander well for the weekend ahead and we look forward to seeing him in action," Booth said.

American rookie Alexander Rossi to make first F1 start in Belgium originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 21 Aug 2014 18:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Cadillac ATS to go racing in 2015 as CTS.V.R replacement

Autoblog - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 23:01

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Cadillac has been racking up victories with the CTS.V.R in Pirelli World Challenge racing for two model generations now, including recent GT class championships in 2012 and 2013. However, even winning racers eventually have to retire, and it looks like the CTS may be taking a bow at the end of the season. In its place, Caddy is reportedly working on a new racecar based on the ATS Coupe, and it might even get to compete internationally.

According to Racer, Pratt & Miller Engineering is leading the development and is already lapping the ATS racecar in Michigan for testing. It reportedly drops the CTS' V8 in favor of a twin-turbocharged V6 powering the rear wheels. Since this is the same team behind the hugely successful Corvette Racing program and the current CTS.V.R, the latest car appears to be in good hands.

The new model would also adhere to GT3 rules, according to Racer, and that might signal a big change for Cadillac's motorsports program. It means that the ATS could be sold to teams in the numerous series around the world that accept these vehicles. That would broaden the luxury coupe's exposure and put it up against GT3 racecars from premium brands, like Bentley, Porsche and McLaren. If it wins, the change could be a marketing bonanza for the brand.

Autoblog spoke to Cadillac spokesperson Brian Corbett about the brand's future in motorsports. He wouldn't confirm any details about the company's plans for next season, but he confirmed that "there's no plan to leave" Pirelli World Challenge racing. He said there would be more specifics at a later time.

Cadillac ATS to go racing in 2015 as CTS.V.R replacement originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 21 Aug 2014 18:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Honda exec says US market near capacity, could hurt subprime buyers

Autoblog - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 22:28

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Is there a point in the US auto industry where companies should start considering the welfare of their customers ahead of selling more cars? American Honda Executive Vice President of Sales John Mendel thinks that level exists, and we may be getting very close to it.

According to Automotive News, Mendel believes that finding more customers in the market could require pursuing subprime buyers and offering longer-term loans. However, he refuses to use those tactics. While selling models this way can improve things briefly, the strategies hurt resale prices and lower vehicle profits over time. The company won't do "stupid things in the short-term that damage the person who bought yesterday," he said to Automotive News. "It's a very, very short-term tactic especially in the subprime area."

American Honda, which combines the Acura and Honda brands, has seen market share decline from 9.7 percent to 9.1 percent through July 2014, according to Automotive News, and Autoblog's By the Numbers stats showed it posted falling sales in five of the seven months with data this year. Though, Mendel claims that was partially because the company focused on retail sales over fleets. The delays of the launches for the Honda Fit and Acura TLX likely didn't help either.

The rise of subprime loans is an emerging trend in the auto industry. A recent study by Equifax found that the total amount in outstanding auto loans was the highest it ever recorded and up 10 percent from a year ago. It also found that the total balance from subprime buyers had reached $46.2 billion, an eight-year high. The feds appear to be getting interested too with GM's financial arm under investigation for how it securitizes its lending to these customers.

Honda exec says US market near capacity, could hurt subprime buyers originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 21 Aug 2014 17:28:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Matthew McConaughey dusts off his Lincoln Lawyer jacket [w/videos]

Autoblog - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 21:58

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Alright, alright, alright. Easygoing Texan Matthew McConaughey has enjoyed a career renaissance recently with critically acclaimed roles in Dallas Buyers Club and True Detective, and the actor has just signed a multi-year deal with Lincoln to become the luxury brand's spokesperson. The first ads starring McConaughey should hit televisions and the internet soon.

McConaughey's campaign has his pitching starting out with the company's pivotal new 2015 Lincoln MKC compact crossover. "Lincoln is an iconic, American brand and I like where they are heading with their transformation," he said in the announcement of the deal. The appears to be really throwing some money into these ads, too. Not only has it hired A-list talent in front of the camera, Nicolas Winding Refn, best known for Drive, is directing the spots.

Of course, this won't be McConaughey's first noteworthy ride in a Lincoln. Back in 2011, he starred in The Lincoln Lawyer, a legal thriller about at attorney would did business out of a 1980s Town Car. The MKC should certainly prove to be a much better driver than that.

Scroll down to watch a video of McConaughey talking about why he is joining the brand and his thoughts on campaign's message to "Live In Your Moment." Also, you can check out the first trailer for the broadcast version of the commercial and read Lincoln's full announcement.

Continue reading Matthew McConaughey dusts off his Lincoln Lawyer jacket [w/videos]

Matthew McConaughey dusts off his Lincoln Lawyer jacket [w/videos] originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 21 Aug 2014 16:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Dallara working on its own sports car project

Autoblog - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 21:34

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If the name Dallara doesn't ring a bell, you're probably not a racing fan. Because while Dallara is, like Ferrari, Lamborghini and Pagani, a performance automaker based in northern Italy, it focuses on racing cars and doesn't produce cars for the road. At least not under its own name, anyway. But that's about to change.

Speaking with Car magazine, company founder Gian Paolo Dallara indicated that his firm is working on its own sports car project that will hit the market in 2017. The vehicle is tipped to use a carbon monocoque chassis with a high-output, lightweight turbo four mounted amidships. It may offer an open roof of some sort, but don't expect much in the way of creature comforts. Dallara is tipped to make no more than 100 examples per year, with a price tag of around $100,000 - that is, if it were to be offered Stateside altogether, which we're afraid it likely won't.

When reached for comment, Dallara CEO Andrea Pontremoli would only confirm to Autoblog that his boss did indeed speak with the journalist who wrote the report, but would not disclose any details (or even the existence) of such a project.

Though this would be the first road car to bear the Dallara name, it would not be the first one it has developed. In addition to building racing chassis for such disciplines as Formula 3, Formula E and Indy, Dallara helped develop the Alfa Romeo 4C, KTM X-Bow (pictured above), Bugatti Veyron and Maserati MC12. Prior to starting his own firm, Paolo had worked for Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini as well, working on such noteworthy road-car projects as the 250 GTO and Miura.

Dallara working on its own sports car project originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 21 Aug 2014 16:34:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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US government moves to mandate car connectivity [w/video]

Autoblog - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 21:04

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The federal government is inching closer to mandating cars have the ability to communicate with each other, in a move regulators say could reduce crashes while still protecting motorists' personal information.

"By warning drivers of imminent danger, V2V technology has the potential to dramatically improve highway safety." - David Friedman

Called vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V), the technology would use radio frequencies to communicate potential dangers to drivers, and the Transportation Department has begun the rule-making process of possibly making it required equipment in cars, though it could take years for a new law to take effect.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration pointed to two potential features that would use vehicle communication to improve safety: a left-turn assist and a system that detects movements in intersections, which could prevent as many as 592,000 crashes annually and possibly save 1,083 lives.

"By warning drivers of imminent danger, V2V technology has the potential to dramatically improve highway safety," said NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman said in a statement.

Continue reading US government moves to mandate car connectivity [w/video]

US government moves to mandate car connectivity [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 21 Aug 2014 16:04:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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BMW 'initiates' new M4 on drift course made of older M cars [Video]

Leftlane - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 20:36
Cars loaned by 37 trusting BMW enthusiasts.






Porsche prioritizes 200,000-unit sales target over exclusivity [w/poll]

Autoblog - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 20:33

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Would a Porsche still be a Porsche if it weren't as exclusive? That's the question which industry pundits are asking - and customers may soon as well - as the German automaker emerges from the fringe in pursuit of larger volumes.

A dozen years ago Porsche was barely selling over 50,000 units per annum. In a sales surge that has gathered pace as fast as a 911 Turbo, however, it was already hovering around the 100,000-unit mark a few years later. Last year it sold over 160,000, and has targeted 200,000 units by 2018. But it may not even take that long.

Automotive News reports that Porsche has advanced its targets to reach for 200,000 units by the end of this year or the next. The bump in sales would be driven particularly by the introduction of the new Macan, of which it aims to sell 50,000 units annually, starting next year. The Cayenne currently stands far and away as its most successful model. The 911 and Panamera have swapped second place a few times over the past five years, followed by the Boxster and Cayman.

Porsche's pursuit of higher volumes is mirrored by that of Maserati, which has been pursuing a similar path but at lower volumes. Maserati sold barely more than 6,000 units last year, but with the introduction of the new Ghibli sedan and upcoming Levante crossover, aims to reach 50,000 units next year. Ferrari, conversely, has actually been reducing production in order to maintain exclusivity and profitability.

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Porsche prioritizes 200,000-unit sales target over exclusivity [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 21 Aug 2014 15:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Lincoln hires Matthew McConaughey to sell new MKC [Video]

Leftlane - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 20:13
Matthew McConaughey will be the face of the Lincoln MKC.






Watch Audi's Emmy promo, starring Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Autoblog - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 19:58

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A lot of online videos try way too hard to be funny, but the promo from Audi for the 66th Emmy Awards on Monday, August 25, shows that if you put faith in a proven group of hilarious actors, you can strike comedy gold. The short film reunites Breaking Bad stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul as the proprietors of a pawnshop of rare and obscure items called Barely Legal Pawn. They have their own fictional reality show (which really needs to exist) that rips off Pawn Stars, and this segment has comedy veteran Julia Louis-Dreyfus coming in to sell her Emmy award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy as Elaine on Seinfeld. Louis-Dreyfus also pays the title sponsor's bills by subtly incorporating a 2015 S3 into the otherwise car-free gag.

It would ruin the video to spoil any of the jokes; you just need to watch it. Cranston actually bridges the gap here because way before he became famous as Walter White on Breaking Bad, he had a recurring guest role on Seinfeld as dentist Dr. Tim Whatley. If you're a fan of either show or just need a hearty chuckle for today, this one is definitely for you because all three former Emmy winners put in fantastic performances.

Continue reading Watch Audi's Emmy promo, starring Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Watch Audi's Emmy promo, starring Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and Julia Louis-Dreyfus originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 21 Aug 2014 14:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Sakti3's batteries promise to double range for electric vehicles

Leftlane - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 19:44
Batteries would increase Model S range from 256 miles to 480 miles.






Honda CR-Z gets much-needed supercharger

Autoblog - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 19:30

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Honda has really taken its time in getting an aftermarket supercharger kit for the CR-Z to enthusiasts in the US. It's finally on sale, though, and it makes you wonder if the hybrid hatchback shouldn't have had it from the day it went on sale.

The supercharger kit developed by Honda Performance Development boosts output from the CR-Z's 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine to 197 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque, according to Honda spokesperson Jessica Howell, an improvement of 67 hp and 36 lb-ft. It also adds an air-to-air intercooler, high-flow fuel injectors, a recalibrated ECU and new air filter for $5,495, before installation. However, the setup only works for six-speed manual transmission models from the 2013 and 2014 model years. If you want to take things even further, HPD is also offering an optional limited slip differential for $1,375 and sport clutch for $640, according to Howell.

Development of the supercharger kit has been ongoing for years. We first saw it on the CR-Z Mugen RZ in 2012 in Japan, in which it barely bumped power to 153 hp. Later at SEMA, Honda improved things to a more respectable 185 hp. Then in 2013, we actually got to drive an early version boasting 190 hp and found it a solid improvement over the stock powertrain. It appears Honda had some further tweaks to get things to the current 197 ponies. More good news: assuming you get the package installed at a dealer, the car maintains the balance of its 5 year/ 60,000 mile Honda limited powertrain warranty.

Is this too little too late, though? The CR-Z is already dead in Europe, and it makes you wonder how much longer it can stick around here. In the meantime, the supercharger kit does give the hybrid hatch something that it really needs - power to back up its sporty looks, though no mention is made of how the modification impacts fuel mileage. Scroll down to read HPD's full announcement about the supercharger.

Continue reading Honda CR-Z gets much-needed supercharger

Honda CR-Z gets much-needed supercharger originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 21 Aug 2014 14:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Mazdaspeed2 supermini hot hatch under consideration

Autoblog - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 19:01

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Though the Ford Fiesta ST and Fiat 500 Abarth (and arguably the Mini Cooper S) may stand pretty much alone in the North American market, in overseas markets, supermini hot hatches are a big deal. Unfortunately, challengers like the Volkswagen Polo GTI, Seat Ibiza Cupra and Renault Clio RS 200 Turbo never make it to our showrooms, but word has it that there's soon to be a new entry on the market.

That would be the Mazdaspeed2, which would be badged in certain markets as the Mazda2 MPS. Speaking with Australian site CarAdvice.com.au at the launch of the Mazda2 on which it would be based, the Japanese automaker's global sales chief and the hatchback's deputy product manager hinted that such a product is definitely being discussed, even if it hasn't yet been approved.

This wouldn't be the first time such a notion were entertained, as Mazda has shown numerous performance concepts based on the previous Mazda2/Demio over the years, but none have come to fruition.

If green-lit for production, the Mazdaspeed2 would likely pack a small turbocharged engine (potentially one being developed for the new MX-5 Miata) rather than a larger naturally aspirated one. Additional upgrades would also be in store, including larger rolling stock and brakes as well as upgraded aero and suspension components. Of course the question of whether the Mazdaspeed2 would make it to North American showrooms is another matter entirely, but let's see if the Zoom-Zoom brand actually builds it first.

Mazdaspeed2 supermini hot hatch under consideration originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 21 Aug 2014 14:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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FIA says FRIC no to trick suspensions in F1

Autoblog - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 18:32

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There are few fields in the world where you'll find engineers working as feverishly as they do in Formula One. With races sometimes won and lost by fractions of a second, every little bit counts, so each team retains legions of engineers, all dedicated to finding the tiniest performance edge... without running afoul of the ever-constricting regulations.

This season, one of the most controversial advances has been known as FRIC, and while it's been effectively sidelined for the last few races, reports from the motorsport press indicate that is has now officially been banned by the FIA.

So just what is FRIC? It stands for Front and Rear Inter-Connected suspension. Now, if you're thinking that independent suspensions are the most advanced form available, you're right, but F1 teams have been toying for years with ways to interlink the suspensions at each wheel. Why, you ask? For a number of reasons. For one, it allows for redistribution of suspension dive at the front or rear, which means that under hard braking or acceleration - when the car would either pitch back or forward - the car can be kept more stable. That, in turn, means not only are all four tires loaded evenly and optimally, but the team can also run a more aggressive aero package. It also means that the car can be set up with a softer suspension, allowing the driver to attack the curbs more aggressively, without sacrificing underbody aerodynamics.

Several teams had been running FRIC systems that move hydraulic fluid between the front and rear suspensions, but voluntarily agreed to cease using them for the last two races at Hockenheim and Budapest. Now, the FIA, having apparently deemed FRIC an unfair advantage in contravention of the sporting regulations, has reportedly banned the system altogether. So while those cars may not be running on an even keel any more, at least they'll all be on an even playing field.

FIA says FRIC no to trick suspensions in F1 originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 21 Aug 2014 13:32:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Wireless charging to arrive on vehicles by 2017

Leftlane - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 18:22
Qualcomm readies technology for market debut on luxury models.






Xcar takes a closer look at the electrifying Renovo Coupe

Autoblog - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 18:01

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Xcar Films went to Pebble Beach and gave ex-Intel engineer and Renovo Motors CEO Christopher Heiser a platform to talk about his new electric supercar based on the Shelby Daytona Coupe. The relevant nuggets: 500 horsepower and 1,000 pound-feet of torque from direct-drive twin sequential axial flux motors powered by a lithium-ion battery, 0 to 60 in 3.4 seconds, top speed over 120 mph, 2,500 pounds, $529,000 to purchase.

While Heiser spends almost six minutes talking about the car and what it means to him, almost all of it is information we already know. When he gets to the bits that perk our ears, like when the mentions of advanced technology and upgraded parts, he skips the details. After four years of having to drive it at night to keep the secret, we don't even get to see more of what's inside, much less a daytime run with the Xcar chaps.

So we'll look forward to the next installment. In the meantime, this one's another beautiful entry in the Xcar catalog.

Continue reading Xcar takes a closer look at the electrifying Renovo Coupe

Xcar takes a closer look at the electrifying Renovo Coupe originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 21 Aug 2014 13:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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This Or That: Fiat 500 Abarth vs. Ford Fiesta ST [w/poll]

Autoblog - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 17:31

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They're pretty darn similar. And yet our views are oh so different.

If you guys could read the transcripts of our editors' chat room, you'd know that we're a pretty argumentative bunch. It's always good-spirited stuff (well, usually), but when we're not obsessively covering this or that, we're usually fighting about one car being better than another. We're all enthusiasts here, and our automotive tastes run the gamut from the weird and unusual to the decidedly mainstream - we all feel strongly about specific cars in a given segment. While it usually makes for good conversation, if we're passionate enough, it can turn into a tomato-throwing showdown.

I'm pretty well-known 'round these parts as the hot hatch guy, and anyone who's listened to the Autoblog Podcast recently has heard me rave about lovely little turbo cars like the Volkswagen GTI or Ford Fiesta ST, specifically. But I'm not the only one with a burning desire for some functional, affordable performance goodness - every one of us can find a hot hatch or two to really get behind.

In that spirit, we're kicking off our new This Or That segment with a discussion about my favorite class of car. For my money and thrills, nothing beats the Ford Fiesta ST. But ask managing editor Jeremy Korzeniewski the same question, and he'll cast a vote for the Fiat 500 Abarth. I think he's dead wrong, of course, but on the contrary, Jeremy scoffs at the level of my love for Ford's pint-sized puncher.

So, who's right? Read through our arguments below, vote in our poll, and sound off with your own opinion in the Comments.

Continue reading This Or That: Fiat 500 Abarth vs. Ford Fiesta ST [w/poll]

This Or That: Fiat 500 Abarth vs. Ford Fiesta ST [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 21 Aug 2014 12:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Ford issues sales halt for Focus, C-Max over steering gear

Leftlane - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 17:07
Small batch of cars built without enough bearings in the steering assembly.