11 Mar 2014
R1234yf, the refrigerant jointly developed by Honeywell and Dupont that is being phased in as a replacement for R134a in Europe, is safe. So says a panel of scientists from the Joint Research Council, researching the refrigerant at the request of the European Commission. German automaker Daimler, though, disagrees with the finding, saying R1234yf can be toxic to humans when burned, according to Automotive News.
In case you haven't been following this real-life drama, the old refrigerant was banned in Europe due to environmental risks. Daimler refused to use the replacement refrigerant, prompting a short ban on the sales of Mercedes models in France, saying it was holding out for air conditioning systems that relied on carbon dioxide instead of R1234yf.
Neither side seems ready to concede defeat, Daimler saying in a statement that it believes the tests conducted on the new refrigerant were "too restrictive" and the EU Commission saying that there is "no evidence of a serious risk." The next step? Stay tuned, we suppose...
EU affirms refrigerant is safe, Daimler still disagrees originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 11 Mar 2014 17:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
11 Mar 2014 10:31pm GMT
About a month ago, tragedy struck the National Corvette Museum when a sinkhole opened up underneath the facility, swallowing eight cars and causing tons of carnage in the process. We saw it all on video, learned how Chevy would extract the damaged 'Vettes, and even checked in on the repair process. Terrible stuff, for sure.
But is it a conspiracy, all part of the government's "sinkhole hoax plan?" According to World Wide Web whiz Zurnmusic, that's exactly what's going on here.
In a nearly nine-minute-long video posted to YouTube, and discovered by our friends at Autoweek, one guy goes through the process of debunking what he says is obviously just a bunch of fakery. His proof? "The floor looks like it's made out of paper ... uh, styrofoam." And that blue 2009 Chevy Corvette ZR1 found in the sinkhole? It's obviously a Hot Wheels car, duh. In fact, the exact same die-cast car that you can buy online. Tricky, tricky.
Have a look below to watch the entire conspiracy video for yourself. And if you're of like mind, please be sure to tell us all about it in the Comments.
Was the Corvette Museum sinkhole a conspiracy? This guy thinks so originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 11 Mar 2014 17:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
11 Mar 2014 10:02pm GMT
Chevrolet made a splash with its retro design for the reborn, fifth-generation of its Camaro way back when the first concept car debuted at the 2006 Detroit Auto Show. Since then, we've watched the production car age rather gracefully while remaining a strong competitor to the Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger. Still, the current model is getting a bit long in the tooth, meaning we can start speculating about what the sixth-generation model will look like.
According to Edmunds, the next Camaro will be much more Charles Darwin than Simon Bolivar. In other words, expect an evolution of the current car's design, rather than a clean-sheet restart. That's actually pretty surprising considering GM is preparing to shift the Camaro to the rear-drive architecture that underpins both the Cadillac ATS and CTS. Generally, maintaining styling when a car switches platforms presents some challenges, but we're quite happy to see the Camaro will retain the same general look. Muscle cars and retro styling work quite nicely together.
"The difference between the existing and redesigned [Camaro] is not drastically different," an inside source told Edmunds. "It looks like a worked-over current-model Camaro. It is on a different platform, so that is a significant difference, but when they modified it to be on a different platform, the styling did not change that much."
Edmunds also reports that the sixth-gen Camaro should debut in just under a year, at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show as a 2016 model.
Next Camaro to look similar despite new platform underneath originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 11 Mar 2014 16:32:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
11 Mar 2014 9:32pm GMT
Let it never be said that there isn't money to be made selling high-end exotic sports cars. Last month Ferrari revealed that it had recorded record profits despite selling fewer vehicles than the year before. Now arch-rival Lamborghini has reported record revenue.
For the 2013 fiscal year, Lamborghini has announced that its revenue has increased for the third year straight - rising from 469 million euros last year (just short of $650 million at today's rates) to a record 508 million euros (over $703 million). Lamborghini reports that it has reinvested 20 percent of that turnover back into R&D.
The increased revenues come despite having discontinued its top-selling model, the Gallardo, which wound up its ten-year production run back in November to make way for the new Huracán. The increased revenues came from a higher proportion of Aventadors sold, a rise of 9 percent from 922 units in 2012 to 1,001 in 2013, representing a record for V12 models sold in the company's history and a waiting list of 12 months for a new Aventador.
At 36 percent of Lamborghinis sold last year, the Americas continue to stand as the Bolognese automaker's largest market, but not by much: EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) accounted for 34 percent, while Asia Pacific accounted for the remaining 30 percent of Raging Bulls sold last year.
Aventador sales drive record revenue at Lamborghini originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 11 Mar 2014 16:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
11 Mar 2014 9:02pm GMT
Honda officially debuted the refreshed 2014 Civic SI Coupe at the SEMA Show last November, but it has taken until now for the Japanese automaker to share full pricing and specs for its high performance coupe and sedan.
The Si Coupe will go on sale at dealers on March 12 starting at $22,790, and the Si Sedan will follow on March 26 for $22,990 - both prices include a $790 destination charge. Buyers can opt to add summer tires for and additional $200 and navigation for $1,500. While the updates are relatively small, they are welcome.
Both body styles are fitted with a slightly tweaked 2.4-liter i-VTEC four-cylinder engine with 205 horsepower and 174 pound-feet, an increase of 4 hp and 4 lb-ft of torque, and they only come with a six-speed manual. Fuel economy is unchanged from last year at 22 miles per gallon city, 31 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined. Honda didn't reveal performance specs, so we can't be sure if the small boost helps acceleration at all.
In addition to the peppier engine, the Si models have an upgraded suspension with new spring rates, revised dampers and a stiffer rear stabilizer bar. They also get some standard tech additions like a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, push-button start and Honda's LaneWatch blind spot monitoring. The one differentiating factor between the two body styles is that the coupe wears a restyled hood, front fenders, headlights, and taillights for 2014.
2014 Honda Civic Si gets more power, priced from $22,790* originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 11 Mar 2014 15:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
11 Mar 2014 8:33pm GMT
If you thought competition among the German luxury automakers was hot before, it looks like things are just getting started. For the first two months of the year, Audi has sold more cars than BMW worldwide by just 383 cars.
Audi claims to have sold 242,400 vehicles through February, up 9.3 percent from last year, compared to 242,017 units from BMW, up 8.9 percent, in the same period. While the advantage is tiny, its implications could be huge because Bimmer has been the leader in the premium car segment for the last nine consecutive years. Mercedes-Benz lags behind them somewhat at 229,630 vehicles through February. According to Bloomberg, at this time last year Audi had sold 429 fewer cars than BMW.
The growth is all part of Volkswagen Group's goal to become the world's largest automaker. It currently ranks in second when its heavy truck businesses are considered. The German automotive giant also wants to be the world's leading premium carmaker. "Competition in the premium segment is more intense than ever," said Audi CEO Rupert Stadler to Bloomberg.
Audi has never held the top spot among premium automakers for an entire year, but it's investing 22 billion euros ($30.5 billion) over the next five years to stay competitive. It unveiled the new TT and S1 at the Geneva Motor Show and is just putting the A3 sedan on sale in the US.
Of course, there's still a lot of time left in the year for things to shake out, and BMW isn't going to give up its lead without a fight. It has the new the X4, 2 Series Active Tourer, refreshed X3 and more on the way. It's quite the German grudge match.
Audi leading rival BMW in worldwide luxury sales race originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 11 Mar 2014 14:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
11 Mar 2014 7:58pm GMT
The public inquiry into the General Motors recall of roughly 1.6 million vehicles continues to broaden, and the US House Energy and Commerce Committee is planning a hearing to investigate GM's reaction to the problem. A date for the questioning hasn't been set yet, but it's expected to include officials from the automaker and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, according to Automotive News.
The committee is chaired by US Representative Fred Upton, a Republican from Michigan, who also oversaw a subcommittee investigation of rollovers of Ford Explorers with Firestone tires in 2000. In response, he sponsored and passed the Tread Act that required automakers to report defects to NHTSA in a timely matter. "Here we are over a decade later, faced with accidents and tragedies, and significant questions need to be answered. Did the company or regulators miss something that could have flagged these problems sooner?" said Upton in a statement on the committee's website.
According to AN, the automaker's internal investigation is led by former US attorney Anton Valukas, its general counsel, Michael Millikin and attorneys from the law firm King & Spalding. NHTSA is running a separate probe and submitted a 27-page questionnaire to GM about how it handled the recall, and how it will improve its process. The company has until April 3 to respond to the regulator.
"We are fully cooperating with NHTSA and will do so with the Committee, too. We welcome the opportunity to help both parties have a full understanding of the facts. I do not have any other details," said Alan Adler, GM's spokesperson on legal and recall topics, in an email to Autoblog.
The faulty ignition switches have been shown to turn off a vehicle inadvertently if jostled or put under heavy pressure, like if the driver had a weighty keychain. When this happens it also deactivates the airbag. There have been 13 fatalities and 31 crashes attributed to the problem. GM is facing a fine as high as $35 million from NHTSA if found that it delayed the recall, the highest ever in the industry. The company is also open to possible consumer lawsuits related to the issue.
11 Mar 2014 7:28pm GMT
The headlines are still rolling in for the new Renegade that Jeep unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show last week, but already reports are surfacing, citing sources within the company, about what Chrysler's iconic off-road brand will do next.
Speaking with Auto Express (whose reports we tend to take with a grain of salt or two), Jeep chief Mike Manley suggested that two courses of action are currently under consideration at Auburn Hills to develop two very different new models - one smaller and one larger than anything Jeep currently makes.
One plan would be to make an SUV or crossover even smaller than the new Renegade, although it isn't immediately clear what platform it would take. The Renegade (pictured above in Trailhawk spec) will be built in Italy alongside Fiat's upcoming 500X, but uses a heavily modified platform. We figure the smaller model, if approved, could base itself on the new Fiat Panda Cross.
One way or another, the purported sub-Renegade would take a back seat to the new Grand Wagoneer, whose development is currently under way. The new Wagoneer, long rumored to be in the cards, is to slot in (size-wise) above the Grand Cherokee to give Jeep a large seven-seater SUV. Now, about that wood siding....
Jeep going bigger with new Grand Wagoneer, smaller with sub-Renegade? originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 11 Mar 2014 14:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
11 Mar 2014 7:00pm GMT
Every major automaker has a different way of relating between its various divisions and brands. At Volkswagen, for example, the individual brands seem to operate with a large degree of autonomy. Under the Renault-Nissan Alliance, the two units share a common chief executive, but little else. The relationship between Honda and its luxury division Acura has always been rather close, but that's all about to change.
American Honda Motor Company has always handled sales and marketing in the North American market for both the Honda and Acura divisions, but new reorganization plans call for the two units to be separated under their own direction. Leading the Acura division will be Michael Accavitti, who moves into the position from his role as Senior Vice President for Auto Operations at American Honda. The Honda division will meanwhile be taken over by the current head of Acura sales, Jeff Conrad.
Both will report to John Mendel, the current executive vice president of the Automobile Sales Division that is being rebranded as the American Honda Auto Division. Unlike rivals Lexus and Infiniti - two brands that Acura beat to the market - Honda barely markets its luxury brand outside of North America. Its overseas presence is felt only in China, though we've yet to receive word on how the reorganization might effect that market - or for that matter, any potential of expanding into others.
This reorganization is seen as a vital step in revitalizing the Acura brand, accompanied by a product line overhaul that's concentrating on new sedans like the ILX, TLX and RLX, but also promises to yield new crossovers and the new NSX as its halo model. The reorganization takes effect on April 1, which may ring some alarm bells on the hoax-o-meter, but this wouldn't strike us as a very funny joke if it were one. Scroll down for the official announcement.
Honda spinning off Acura as stand-alone division in bid to wake up brand originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 11 Mar 2014 13:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
11 Mar 2014 6:30pm GMT
Auto sales in Europe have taken a beating over the years, but as the global economy is on the ups, so too are sales in the Old World. According to a report from Automotive News Europe, 2014 sales are now forecasted to increase around three percent compared to 2013.
Analytical firm LMC Automotive originally projected a 2.7-percent increase over 2013 back in January, but has adjusted its expectations to the new figure.
"Following a weaker seasonally adjusted annualized rate in January - itself a consequence of the strong finish to 2013 - the February selling rate headed in the right direction once again, climbing to 11.9 million units a year," said Jonathon Poskitt, the firm's head of European sales forecasting.
The improved forecast can be attributed to noticeable year-over-year increases in a number of western European countries. Germany, for example saw a 7.2-percent hike in January sales and a 4.3-percent increase in February. Italy's sales were up 8.6 percent in February (although that is being blamed on the abysmally low sales in the beginning of 2013) and Spain saw a huge 17.8-percent improvement last month. Spanish sales also jumped 7.6 percent in the first month of 2014 and are forecasted to end the year up 7.8 percent, which is big news in one of the continent's most troubled economies.
The market that is raising the most eyebrows, though, is France, which was the sole country to see a YOY decline in February sales. Still, the news that Italy and Spain, two of Europe's more troubled markets, are seeing improvements alongside powerhouses like Germany is an encouraging sign for automakers. Let's hope this progress keeps up.
European sales forecasts getting brighter for 2014 originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 11 Mar 2014 13:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
11 Mar 2014 6:01pm GMT
Luciano Rupolo is an absolutely fascinating gentleman. He was born in France but spent nearly his entire life in Italy as an auto mechanic running his own shop. His grandfather and father instilled a love of sports cars in him that he carried on by historic racing in Italy for decades. He saw his life-long automotive passion repaid when he found and restored the car that might have been the first Porsche registered for the road.
You can spot in his garage a split-window Corvette, Ferrari 250 GTE and other exotics, but Rupolo's most interesting automotive story concerns his Iso Grifo Competizione (pictured above). The sports coupe was found in the Canary Islands as little more than a shell, but Rupolo got help from a prestigious source for its restoration. The result is a motoring masterpiece.
Rupolo is a fantastic storyteller with a captivating, tale to tell. Settle in, scroll down and watch the bittersweet documentary about his life with one of the first Porsches.
Meet the man who discovered and restored the oldest existing Porsche originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 11 Mar 2014 12:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
11 Mar 2014 5:30pm GMT
Ladders. As children, we learn how important they are: even if you don't know who Jacob was or where he was climbing, you know how to make his ladder from string. If you don't want to be cursed, you know not to walk under them; and if you want to win the game, you know you need to avoid the chutes and climb the ladders. As adults, ladders take on more practical (if metaphorical) importance: if you want to rise above your station - to win the game of life, say - you need to avoid the chutes and climb the ladders.
It was the early 1980s when German automakers began introducing their aspirational four-wheeled ladders, and there are still three sedan Leitens to choose from depending on what you want your ladder to say: there's the C, E, S, the 3, 5, 7 and the A4, A6, A8. The point of any ladder, though, has always been to climb - the only reason you stepped on the bottom rung was because you intended to get to the top, or at least as close as you could muster.
That might change with this car, the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. It might be so good that there's no need to climb any higher.
11 Mar 2014 4:57pm GMT
Take a look at the Land Rover product lineup and you'll be forgiven for getting a little confused. What separates the Freelander/LR2 from the Evoque, or the Discovery/LR4 from the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport? Where does the Defender fit in all of this? Well, Land Rover is in the process of fixing all of that by aligning its product portfolio around three pillars.
One of them will be centered on the next-generation Discovery, which itself is set to grow into a family of its own - and here we have spy shots of one of the first new models planned.
Although it's wearing a lot of bodywork borrowed from the Evoque, our paparazzi on the ground tell us that the test mule pictured here is actually the new baby Defender that's set to replace the Freelander. Only with a twist: what we could have here is a performance version of that vehicle, judging particularly by the large air apertures in the front end and the pair of exhaust tips flanking the trailer hitch at the rear.
Of course it's a little difficult to tell at this point, what with all the lose-fitting panels and camouflage and what have you. But you're welcome to scope them out for yourself and share your thoughts in the Comments section below.
Land Rover preparing high-performance baby Discovery? originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 11 Mar 2014 11:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
11 Mar 2014 4:30pm GMT
Back in August, it was announced that Fox Sports would be picking up the entirety of the United SportsCar Racing Series as part of a five-year deal. This made us very happy, not only because the combination of the American Le Mans Series and Grand-Am Series promised some great racing, but because with the closure of Speed TV, there was genuine concern that we'd lose a big source of televised racing that didn't involve oval tracks.
Now, with the inaugural season of the USR underway (you didn't miss our Daytona coverage, did you?), Fox Sports and IMSA have announced this season's TV schedule of races. We'll admit, it wasn't what we were hoping for - complete, unfettered (and totally unrealistic) start-to-finish live coverage - but it is better than nothing.
All 12 remaining races will be aired on Fox Sports 1 in some capacity. Nine of those will be shown live, while three races - Belle Isle in Detroit, Indianapolis and Road America - will be on a same-day delay. So far, only Petit Le Mans, the Circuit of the Americas and the 6 Hours of Watkins Glen are confirmed to be shown entirely on TV. Most other races are getting two to three hours on FS1, before be shuffled over to the IMSA website or Fox Sports Go mobile app.
Now, it's possible more races could be aired in their entirety, but since the USR hasn't announced how long many of the races will be, it's impossible to know for certain. For example, the race at Long beach is traditionally a two-hour sprint, which based on the TV lineup allows it to be aired from start to finish. But since the USR still hasn't published an official race duration for most of its events, there's no way to be 100 percent certain of how long each race will be aired.
Take a look below for the entire broadcast schedule, and then let us know what you think in Comments.
Fox Sports, United SportsCar Championship announce 2014 TV schedule originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 11 Mar 2014 11:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
11 Mar 2014 4:01pm GMT
It used to be that if you wanted a luxury SUV, there was only one name that you needed to know, and that was Range Rover. These days, of course, the market is flush with luxed-out sport-utes and crossovers, but don't think that Land Rover is about to take it all lying down. No, Jaguar Land Rover is fully intent on making the most luxurious SUVs on the market.
Over the past several years, the Range Rover sub-brand has gone from one model to three, and the top of the line is the Range Rover L Autobiography Black pictured above. With a stretched wheelbase and first-class cabin space, the kind-of-the-hill will set you back a princely $185,000. But Land Rover reportedly has more in store.
According to LR designer Gerry McGovern in speaking to our subcontinental compatriots at Indian Autos Blog, Land Rover is planning on marketing individual customization to its most wealthy clients. The Land Rover Individual Products Division is poised to follow the lead set by that other British luxury automaker represented by the initials RR in allowing those with the means to customize every aspect of their vehicle.
The overwhelming majority of Rolls-Royce buyers reportedly opt for some level of personalization, and Land Rover seems intent on cashing in on that market as well. Whether sister-brand Jaguar follows suit will likely depend on how its off-road compatriot fares in this department.
Land Rover planning even more luxurious, personalized Range Rovers originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 11 Mar 2014 10:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
11 Mar 2014 3:33pm GMT
Audi is planning quite a shindig for the launch of the A3 sedan, and it only wants young folks to show up. The Four Rings' new entry-level model will begin hitting showrooms later this month, and it is planning a launch party on April 3 at all of its roughly 280 dealers aimed at youthful, influential buyers - hipsters, for lack of a better word.
According to Automotive News, the company has sent a 64-page party-planning guide to its dealers on how to appeal these tastemakers in their late-20s to early-40s. The guide says the audience "should reflect an uncompromising spirit in a generation that refuses to settle or sell out." Audi never specifically uses the h-word in its marketing, which is good because it carries some negative connotations. However, recommendations like serving craft beer and bacon doughnuts and playing indie bands like Chvrches, Empire of the Sun and M83 certainly show that the automaker would love to gain some hipster-cred.
It may seem odd for a free spirits to desire a new Audi, but the carmaker might be playing the long con with these parties. Maybe they can't afford an A3 yet, but the $30,000 compact is likely close enough within their financial reach to at least be realistic. If the brand can appeal to them early, then they could be more likely to come back later when it's affordable.
All three German luxury brands are facing an aging sales base. According to Automotive News, the average age for an A4 buyer is 48, 55 for the BMW 3 Series and 58 for the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, but Mercedes' new entry-level CLA has shown the future with its average buyer being 46 years old. If Audi can appeal to even younger buyers with the A3, then it is doing its job.
11 Mar 2014 3:01pm GMT
News 11 Mar, 2014
An image of the fifth Bugatti Legend has appeared online, prior to an official reveal
11 Mar 2014 10:17am GMT
10 Mar 2014
News 10 Mar, 2014
Production of the McLaren 12C has temporarily stopped following the launch of the new 650S
10 Mar 2014 3:39pm GMT
News 10 Mar, 2014
Revolutionary new tech for Audi could make sitting at red lights a thing of the past
10 Mar 2014 12:13pm GMT
News 10 Mar, 2014
New MINI Clubman spied cold weather testing alongside its predecessor in snowy Sweden
10 Mar 2014 10:51am GMT
07 Mar 2014
News 7 Mar, 2014
Skoda Special: we get top driving tips and put our driving to the test with Skoda's European Rally Champion Jan Kopecky.
07 Mar 2014 5:18pm GMT
News 7 Mar, 2014
Entry-level MINI One, featuring lower-powered three-cylinder engines, revealed at the 2014 Geneva show
07 Mar 2014 4:54pm GMT
Videos 8 Mar, 2014
Skoda special: We pick out seven of our favourite Skoda adverts, from the funny to the scary
07 Mar 2014 3:33pm GMT
News 7 Mar, 2014
Jaguar's flagship XK sports car will cease production this summer to make way for a wave of new Jaguar models
07 Mar 2014 3:23pm GMT
Videos 7 Mar, 2014
We take a look back at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, the most important motor show of the year
07 Mar 2014 2:31pm GMT
News 8 Mar, 2014
Telematics and pay-as-you-drive car insurance cover are likely to take over from conventional car insurance policies.
07 Mar 2014 11:55am GMT
News 7 Mar, 2014
In-car parking cameras can be repurposed to collect evidence of crashes for insurance claims or, potentially, legal proceedings.
07 Mar 2014 11:34am GMT
News 7 Mar, 2014
David Beckham joins Jaguar as brand ambassador for the Chinese market
07 Mar 2014 9:12am GMT