• NEVS produces first Saab 9-3 EVs, with 124-mile range

    April 10, 2014
    Under its new owner, National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), Saab has reportedly started building its first all-electric 9-3 sedans.

    Based on the same 9-3 platform that was under production before the Swedish brand went bankrupt, the electric variant swaps the internal-combustion engine for an electric motor and lithium-ion batteries mounted low in the chassis.

    With an electric range of 20 Scandinavian miles (~124 statute miles), the 9-3 EV is capable of driving 50 percent farther than the Nissan Leaf but only half the distance of a Model S, according to Swedish magazine Auto Motor & Sport.

    The initial run is said to be limited to 200 units, all of which will be shipped to the Chinese city of Qingdao for further testing ahead of a wider rollout.

    The company plans to eventually extend the range as battery development increases, though it is unclear if the first volume-production edition will benefit from additional power capacity.

    After testing is completed in Qingdao, shipping to global customers is expected to begin later this spring or summer. Pricing information and full specs have yet to be announced.

  • Beijing Preview: Peugeot Exalt concept

    April 10, 2014
    France’s Peugeot has fully revealed the Exalt concept that will greet the public for the first time at the upcoming Beijing Motor Show.

    Taking the form of a sleek four-door coupe, the Exalt borrows styling cues such as its slim, angular grille, its ripped hood and its sharp headlights form the Onyx concept that was presented at the 2012 edition of the Paris Motor Show. 20-inch alloy wheels and sculpted flanks accentuate the car’s sporty silhouette.

    Inside, the Exalt concept boasts an upscale cabin with acres of real wood trim, an integrated air purifier and a new infotainment system dubbed Peugeot i-Cockpit. The bulk of the controls on the center console have been replaced by nine toggle switches arranged in two groups located on either side of the steering wheel.

    Power comes from a gasoline-electric hybrid drivetrain consisting of 270-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder borrowed from the 308 R concept and a 67-horsepower electric motor located on the rear axle. Together, the two power sources send 340 horsepower to all four wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission.

    Peugeot has not revealed what the future holds for the Exalt but sources close to the automaker indicate it could spawn an oft-rumored four-door coupe that would take on entry-level variants of the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class. The yet-unnamed model would help Peugeot target a younger clientele while moving up a notch on the market in Europe and in China.

    Stay tuned to Leftlane for live images of the Peugeot Exalt concept straight from the Beijing show floor starting on April 20th.

  • New York preview: 2014 Ram Power Wagon [Video]

    April 10, 2014
    Chrysler’s Ram truck division has launched a new version of its off-road ready Power Wagon. Based on the Ram 2500 Heavy Duty 4×4 Crew Cab, the Power Wagon promises to be one of the most capable pickups in the segment.

    In addition to the standard 2500 kit, the Power Wagon includes a 2-inch lift, locking differentials and a 12,000-pound winch. The Power Wagon also boasts Bilstein shocks at all four corners, and a unique Ram Articulink suspension design that allows for better off-road articulation.

    “Capability is top of mind with heavy-duty pickup truck customers. Ram trucks are expected to work every day without breaking a sweat,” said Reid Bigland, President and CEO of the Ram Truck Brand. “The 2014 Ram Power Wagon fills a need for those who travel into extreme terrain for rescue or recreation, while delivering on-road civility and the towing capability expected from a heavy-duty truck.”

    The Power Wagon is powered by a 410 horsepower, 429 lb-ft of torque version of Chrysler’s 6.4L HEMI V8. No fuel economy ratings were released, but the 6.4L will feature cylinder deactivation for improved mileage. A lower 4.10 rear axle ratio, down from 4.56, should also help in the economy department.

    Power is routed to the Power Wagon’s standard 33-inch wheel and tire package via a six-speed automatic transmission.

    The Power Wagon will be offered in three trim levels – Tradesman, SLT and Laramie.

  • New York Preview: limited-edition MINI Cooper S DeLux

    April 10, 2014
    MINI has announced it will unveil a limited-edition version of the Cooper Hardtop called DeLux at next week’s New York Motor Show.

    Designed by Virginia Commonwealth University sophomore Alex Coyle, the DeLux is the winner of the Final Test Test Drive contest that kicked off online a few weeks ago. The contest asked current MINI owners to design a bespoke appearance package for the recently-unveiled third-gen Cooper.

    Starting with all-black MINI, Coyle added black light-inspired graphics on virtually every body panel in order to make the car stand out at night. Driving lights mounted in front of the radiator grille and 18-inch alloy wheels add a sporty touch to the overall look.

    Interior pictures are not available but MINI says the DeLux packs an off-white dash and contrasting Black Pearl leatherette/cloth seats. It is loaded to the brim with optional equipment including the Cold Weather Package, the Premium Package, the Sport Package and the Comfort Access Package.

    Coyle’s design uses the 189-horsepower Cooper S model as a starting point. MINI has not announced if the DeLux package will be offered on the more humble Cooper model.

    Coyle explains her limited-edition model’s moniker hints at both the custom paint job and the level of equipment found inside.

    “‘Lux’ is the root meaning of ‘light,’” explained Coyle. “After I went through all the options I had available to customize the car I went for all the bells and whistles and created what I call a “Deluxe” model. The result was DeLux.”

    Pricing information for the limited-edition Cooper Hardtop DeLux will be published closer to the car’s on-sale date.

  • Tesla accuses lemon-lawsuit plaintiff of tampering with Model S

    April 10, 2014
    Although many companies choose not to respond to negative reviews or ongoing litigation, Tesla Motors has fired back against a lawsuit filed by Wisconsin’s self-described “Lemon Law King” on behalf of a disgruntled Model S owner.

    In a blog post, the company claims there are “good reasons to be skeptical of the lawyer’s motivations.” It also cites evidence that suggests the owner may have been intentionally tampering with the car and making unsubstantiated claims about problems.

    The attorney, Vince Megna, claimed that his client had attempted to contact Tesla three times to demand a lemon-law buyback, however Tesla claims to have received only a single legal form letter in November, as a prerequisite for filing the legal claim in Wisconsin, and the customer never brought up the possibility of a buyback during discussions with the service team before and after the letter was received.

    To give you a sense of our service relationship with this customer, it’s worth considering our efforts to resolve two of his main complaints,” the company adds. “One related to malfunctioning door handles. Even though our service team wasn’t able to replicate the issue with the door handles as described, we replaced all the handles anyway. Despite the fix, the customer said the problem persisted. We were never able to reproduce the alleged malfunction but offered to inspect the car again and are still trying to do so.”

    The second issue related to a fuse that blew on numerous occasions. Tesla engineers claim to have “explored all possible explanations” and were never able to find anything wrong with the car, even after replacing several parts that could have caused the alleged problem.

    When the fuse kept blowing despite the new parts, and faced with no diagnosis showing anything wrong with the car, the engineers were moved to consider the possibility that the fuse had been tampered with,” the company claims. “After investigating, they determined that the car’s front trunk had been opened immediately before the fuse failure on each of these occasions. (The fuse is accessed through the front trunk.) Ultimately, Tesla service applied non-tamper tape to the fuse switch. From that point on, the fuse performed flawlessly.”

    As its final note of interest, Tesla points to another lawsuit filed against Volvo last year by the same owner and attorney.

    Customer service remains of utmost importance to Tesla, and no Model S owner should be unhappy with their car,” the company says. “However, we would also like the public to be aware of the potential for lemon laws to be exploited by opportunistic lawyers.”

  • Ford Focus Stufenheck: Geliftete Limousine debütiert in New York

    April 10, 2014

    Nach dem Fünftürer und dem Kombi zeigt Ford nun das Lifting für das international beliebte Stufenheck

    Der Heckspoiler gehört zum "SE Sport Package" für die USA

    Zu dem SE-Sport-Paket gehört auch ein dunkler Kühlergrill

    Dearborn (USA), 9. April 2014
    Acht Werke auf vier Kontinenten. Mehr als 1,5 Millionen Fahrzeuge Fertigungskapazität pro Jahr. Jede Sekunde laufen zwei Autos vom Band. Diese gigantischen Zahlen präsentieren nicht etwa VW, Toyota oder GM. Sondern Ford. Und zwar aus gutem Grund: In den erwähnten acht Werken läuft der Focus vom Band, seines Zeichen das meistverkaufte Auto der Welt. Rund 1,1 Millionen Focus wurden im Jahr 2013 neu zugelassen, rund 400.000 davon allein in China. Und der VW Golf? Er liegt international nur auf Platz sieben.

    Lieber Limousine
    Angesichts dieser Mengen rückt eine Variante, die hierzulande eher verschmäht wird, in den Mittelpunkt: der Focus mit Stufenheck. Speziell die Amerikaner und Chinesen fahren voll auf die kompakte Limousine ab, weshalb deren renovierte Ausgabe auf der Automesse in New York (18. bis 27. April 2014) vorgestellt wird. Bereits auf dem Genfer Autosalon im März hatte Ford den gelifteten Fünftürer und Kombi gezeigt. Im Laufe des Jahres 2014 wird noch der sportliche ST folgen.

    Können die Amis schalten?
    Besonders die Frontpartie und der Innenraum des Focus zeigen sich geglättet, davon profitiert auch die 4,53 Meter lange Limousine. Ihr größtes Pfund ist der 475 Liter große Kofferraum. Etwas überraschend ist die neueste Motoren-Getriebe-Kombination für die Automatik-verwöhnten USA: Der Einliter-EcoBoost-Benziner mit 100 oder 125 PS wird mit einem manuellen Sechsganggetriebe verbunden. Neu ist in den Staaten auch ein so genanntes “SE Sport Package” mit schwarzen 17-Zoll-Alus, einem Heckspoiler und Schaltwippen am Lenkrad, wenn eine Automatik an Bord ist.

    Geladener Focus
    Ebenfalls in New York gezeigt wird der überarbeitete Ford Focus Electric. Der Stromer kommt gut 160 Kilometer weit und kostet in Deutschland bislang 39.990 Euro.

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  • Bentley: Luxushersteller bringt Plug-in-Hybrid-Antrieb auf den Markt

    April 10, 2014

    Bentley zeigt auf der Pekinger Automesse 2014 einen Musanne mit Hybrid-Antrieb

    In Serie wird der Hybrid-Mulsanne aber erst nach 2017 gehen

    In Interieur kommen Kupfer-Applikationen zum Einsatz

    Crewe, 9. April 2014
    Seit Toyota mit dem Prius vorgemacht hat, wie Hybrid geht, ziehen viele andere nach. Auch in der Oberklasse tummeln sich mittlerweile Mobile mit der Kraft zweier Antriebe, schließlich will man sich ja mit sparsamen und schadstoffarmen Autos brüsten. Jetzt kommen weitere Zweimotorer aus gutem Hause hinzu: Bentley hat einen Plug-in-Hybrid-Antrieb angekündigt. Einen Vorgeschmack gibt ein Concept Car auf Basis des Luxusliners Mulsanne, das auf der Peking Motor Show (20. bis 24. April 2014) gezeigt wird.

    2017 kommt das Bentley-SUV als Hybrid
    Als erstes Bentley-Serienmodell mit Hybridstrang kommt 2017 zunächst ein neues SUV auf den Markt, danach wird die Technologie schrittweise bei allen anderen Modellreihen eingesetzt. Wie sich der Antrieb genau zusammensetzt und welche Spezifikationen er hat, teilte das VW-Tochterunternehmen noch nicht mit. Im aktuellen Mulsanne flüstert derzeit ein 6,75-Liter-V8. Er liefert 512 PS, verursacht laut Hersteller einen Verbrauch von durchschnittlich 16,9 Liter und eine Schadstoffemission von 393 Gramm CO2 pro Kilometer. Beim Hybridantrieb wird ein Leistungszuwachs von bis zu 25 Prozent erreicht, dem 70 Prozent weniger CO2-Emissionen gegenüberstehen. Rein elektrisch sollen die Nobel-Autos bis zu 50 Kilometer weit kommen.

    Kupfer zeugt vom Strom-Fluss
    Das Concept Car wurde auch optisch auf den neuen Antrieb vorbereitet. Um die elektrischen Impulse zu symbolisieren, werden innen und außen verschiedene Kupferdetails eingesetzt. Das Material findet sich an den Scheinwerfern, am Kühlergrill, an den Bremssätteln und den Emblemen. Im Innenraum ist das Edelmetall als Intarsienarbeit in den Holzfurnieren am Armaturenbrett, in den Schaltern und in der Instrumenteneinheit zu finden. Zudem sind Nähte der Lederausstattung im Kreuzstich und mit Kupfer im Diamantmuster ausgeführt.

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