When we think of comfy, long-distance road cars, there are a few obvious choices. A Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Bentley Continental GT or, assuming fuel efficiency isn't paramount, a Range Rover are all good options for a road trip. But what if that road trip was 37,000 miles? Maybe something more reliable but still comfortable, then, like a Honda Accord. What about a 1967 Datsun Roadster?
As insane as it sounds, Scott Fisher is doing just that, running a Datsun 1600 Roadster across North America and racking up 13,500 miles in his first three months on the road. His total journey will see him pile over 37,000 miles on his red convertible. The car is lightly modified, but most of the work is for the sake of reliability and comfort, with a five-speed manual 'box, an upgraded radiator and electronic ignition.
Fisher's trip hasn't been all smooth, with a few typical bits of trouble. He also ran into some deer in Utah, quite literally, clipping one of the animals, which delivered quite a bit of damage to the passenger's front fender (hence the rear three-quarter view in our lead shot). Still, the car seems to be holding up well, as shown in this latest video from Petrolicious.
Scroll down for the full video on Fisher and his Datsun.Permalink | Email this | Comments
The passing of William Clay Ford has been a big event for the company he spent most of his life helping run. Ford spent 57 years working for his family's company. Considering the Blue Oval has been around for over 100 years, WCF's passing is the end of an era for the Dearborn-based manufacturer.
Ford's YouTube channel has issued a short memorial video highlighting the life of the longest-lived grandson of company founder Henry Ford. It follows William Clay from his time as a boy, showing him alongside his grandfather, through his younger years, and into his twilight, as the patriarch of the Ford family.
Take a look below for this touching memorial video on William Clay Ford.Permalink | Email this | Comments
The Nürburgring has been officially sold, and it wasn't to HIG Capital and its group of investors as we had previously expected. Instead, Düsseldorf-based Capricorn Development put in a last-minute bid to buy the track for 77 million euros ($106.8 million), and it's promising to invest a further 25 million euros ($34.7 million) into the historic racecourse. The company will take full ownership of the 'Ring on January 1, 2015.
Capricorn is saying all of the right things about its plans for the Green Hell. During the press conference that announced the sale, it said that motorsport will be the focal point of its ownership, and the track will remain open to the public. It wants to work with companies to create a technology center there and bring more industry to the Nürburgring region. The company already has an office at the 'Ring that supplies lightweight components to automakers and racing teams, according to RP Online.
According to Piston Heads, which attended the press conference, Capricorn's bid arrived with minutes to spare. It beat HIG Capital, which reportedly offered between 60 million and 70 million euros ($83.2 million to $97 million), because of the promise to bring new business to the area.
The major lingering question about the track's future is whether Formula 1 can remain at the grand prix course. Bernie Ecclestone previously threatened to hold future German Grands Prix only at Hockenheim. While it's too early to say for sure, Capricorn says that F1 is the pinnacle of the Nürburgring, according to Rhein Zeitung. At least we know it's valued.
After a year of questions, one of world's greatest racetracks will remain in German hands. If Capricorn stays true to its word, then it looks like the tracks legacy is only going to get better. The 'Ring lives!Permalink | Email this | Comments
Much like it did yesterday, Fiat Chrysler Automotive is announcing a voluntary recall of the five-door Fiat 500L. Where yesterday's recall covered Jeep and Dodge SUVs over performance issues with the brakes, today's bulletin is perhaps more serious.
Over 19,000 500Ls equipped with the Fiat-sourced, six-speed, dual-clutch automatic are being called in for a software update that should sort out the issues some customers are experiencing with the gearbox. Those troubles mainly consist of 500Ls that won't shift out of park and don't respond or are slow to respond to commands for gear changes.
There have been no reported injuries or accidents due to the problems, which investigating engineers believe is caused by a microcontroller component that doesn't react well with temperature extremes.
Of the 19,500 vehicles being recalled, around 20 percent are in dealership inventories. The vast majority of the cars (18,100) are in the US, while the remaining 1,400 are up north, in Canada.
Fiat will be covering the costs of the software reflash and will begin notifying customers soon. Scroll down for the official release from Fiat Chrysler.
Fiat recalling 2014 500L over dual-clutch transmission originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 11 Mar 2014 18:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Filed under: Government/Legal
In 2013, Americans took a record 10.7 billion trips on public transit.I don't like public transportation. It's a completely irrational dislike, I'll admit, and is largely due to the fact that I'm a control freak. It's the reason I like living in Detroit, rather than New York, Chicago, London, Paris or any other city with a sprawling transit system - I have to drive everywhere. Senior Editor Steven Ewing, though, loves public transportation. During the Chicago Auto Show, he was genuinely disappointed that we could walk or be shuttled everywhere, rather than take his beloved "L" Train or shove our way onto a CTA bus, like in years past. Based on a new study, though, it seems like more and more people are siding with Mr. Ewing when it comes to buses, trains and subways.
According to a study released by the American Public Transportation Association, in 2013 Americans took a record 10.7 billion trips on public transit, a 57-year high. This isn't a new phenomenon either, as the US has cracked the 10-billion-trip mark for the eighth year in a row. There was a 2.8-percent jump in the number of people riding subways and elevated trains with over half of the systems studied recording an increase. Light rail, meanwhile, saw a 1.6-percent jump nationwide, with 17 of the 27 systems in the US seeing upticks.
More surprising is that the number of transport networks aren't limited to big cities like Los Angeles, New York or Chicago. Smaller metropolises are seeing increases in the use of public transport, with places like Austin, TX, Minneapolis, MN and Portland, OR seeing double-digit jumps in subway and other heavy rail. Salt Lake City, UT, meanwhile, recorded a massive 103.3-percent increase in its heavy rail. It's a similar story in smaller cities that use light rail, like trolleys and streetcars.
Why the increase, though? Not surprisingly, the improving economy is playing a big role. As The Detroit Free Press points out, governments are restoring service in the wake of the Great Recession. Drops in unemployment are also leading to a surge in passengers, with the APTA study claiming that 60 percent of trips on public transit are work related.
"Access to public transportation matters," said the APTA's president and CEO, Michael Melaniphy. "Community leaders know that public transportation investment drives community growth and economic revitalization."
Scroll down to have a look at the APTA's press release to see the results of the study. What's public transit like where you live? Would you like to see an increase in projects around you? And at what would it take to get you out of your car and onto a bus, train or subway? Have your say in Comments.
Americans taking public transit at highest rate in 57 years originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 11 Mar 2014 17:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Filed under: Podcasts
Episode #371 of the Autoblog podcast is here, and this week, Dan Roth, Michael Harley and Steven Ewing recap the Geneva Motor Show, talk about the 2015 Audi A3, the BMW X4, and the possibility of a Volkswagen pickup coming to the US market. We start with what's in the garage and finish up with some of your questions, and for those of you who hung with us live on our UStream channel, thanks for taking the time. Check out the new rundown below with times for topics, and you can follow along down below with our Q&A. Thanks for listening!
Autoblog Podcast #371:
Hosts: Dan Roth, Michael Harley, Steven Ewing
- Intro and Garage - 00:00
- Geneva Motor Show - 32:41
- Audi A3 - 54:47
- BMW X4 - 01:13:29
- VW Pickup - 01:25:02
- Q&A - 01:30:09
[UStream] Listen live on Mondays at 10 PM Eastern at UStream
[iTunes] Subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes
[RSS] Add the Autoblog Podcast feed to your RSS aggregator
[MP3] Download the MP3 directly
Email: Podcast at Autoblog dot com
Review the show in iTunesPermalink | Email this | Comments
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.Permalink | Email this | Comments
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.Permalink | Email this | Comments
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.Permalink | Email this | Comments
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.Permalink | Email this | Comments
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 bodystyles 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 seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, push-button start and Honda's LaneWatch blind spot monitoring. The key differentiating factor between the two bodystyles 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.Permalink | Email this | Comments
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.Permalink | Email this | Comments
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.Permalink | Email this | Comments
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.Permalink | Email this | Comments
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.Permalink | Email this | Comments
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.Permalink | Email this | Comments