• Mazda6 coupe coming next year?

    October 31, 2014
    A new report finds Mazda will introduce a coupe version of the Mazda6 in time for the 2016 model year.
    The coupe will look similar to the Mazda6 sedan from the tip of the front bumper to the B-pillar, though it is expected to wear a noticeably sportier design. Beyond that, it will feature a pair of frameless doors, a sloping roofline and a revised rear end that could borrow styling cues from the Shinari concept (pictured) that was introduced at the 2010 Paris Motor Show.

    Inside, expect the first-ever 6 coupe to feature a better-finished interior than its four-door sibling. It will offer space for up to four passengers in a spacious, sport-inspired atmosphere.

    The Mazda6 coupe will initially launch with the same engine that currently powers the sedan, meaning it will use a 2.5-liter SkyActiv four-cylinder rated at 184 horsepower and 185 lb-ft. of torque. Power will be sent to the front wheels via either a six-speed automatic transmission or an enthusiast-friendly six-speed manual unit.

    The coupe will not be available with the sedan’s 2.2-liter turbodiesel in the United States, but a high-performance MazdaSpeed-tuned model is likely to join the lineup later in the production run.

    If the rumor proves true, look for additional details about the 2016 Mazda Mazda6 Coupe to emerge over the coming months.

  • NHTSA demands more documents, answers from Takata

    October 31, 2014
    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has demanded additional documents from Takata, stepping up an ongoing investigation into the massive airbag recall.
    The Japanese supplier is required to provide the agency with records of communication with its customers or other parties, potentially revealing when the company and its automaker partners became aware of the safety issues.

    The defective components have been blamed for several deaths and serious injuries due to shrapnel from exploding airbag inflators, which are believed to have been chemically altered by humidity.

    The NHTSA has been criticized for repeatedly delaying or declining to take action after years of apparent problems with the airbag components. At least one investigation dates back to 2009 but was allegedly dropped after Honda hired former NHTSA officials to help deal with the situation.

    Now — several months after the latest round of recalls began ramping up — the agency has finally issued a special order demanding documents and answers to lingering questions. Takata has until December 1 to respond or pay daily fines if it drags its feet.

  • Nissan breaks annual record for EV sales in US

    October 31, 2014
    Nissan has announced that its Leaf has already broken the record for US-market EV sales in a single calendar year, with two more months to continue raising the bar even higher.
    The Leaf holds the previous record of 22,610 units, set in 2013. Sales this year have surged by more than 36 percent in the US, while cumulative global sales have surpassed 142,000 units.

    “With nearly 20 electric cars or plug-in electric models on the road today, Nissan LEAF remains at the head of the class, outselling the nearest competitor by 50 percent through September,” said Nissan’s director of EV sales and infrastructure, Brendan Jones.

    The Leaf carries an EPA-estimated range of up to 84 miles on a full battery, which can be filled up to 80 percent capacity in just 30 minutes at fast-charging stations. Its electric motor is good for 107 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque.

    Nissan faces increasing competition in the EV market, where it will have to compete against the Fiat 500e, Honda Fit EV, Kia Soul EV and Volkswagen e-Golf. The Leaf has so far maintained dominant market share against the Focus Electric, however Ford recently confirmed plans to slash the price by $6,000 to match its Japanese rival.

  • Ford shows Expedition, Transit projects for SEMA

    October 31, 2014
    Ford has previewed a handful of Expedition SUVs and Transit vans that have been customized for the SEMA show.
    Unsurprisingly, several tuners embraced dropped suspension and gigantic wheels for their Expedition builds.

    The Tjin Edition sports 24-inch orange rims shrouded by custom metal fender flares and Air Lift struts, while the 365-horsepower EcoBoost V6 has been retuned for an additional 40 ponies.

    Dub Magazine opted for even larger 26-inch concave wheels, painted to match the grey body color. The interior has been revamped with an upgraded sound system, motorized stash boxes and remote-controlled LED lighting.

    Vaccar took a different route, outfitting the Expedition XLT with 20-inch rims and off-road tires. It also features a brush-guard bull bar, swivel hooks, spring steps and a Yakima cargo basket.

    The trailblazing theme is also presented in a Transit van customized by Vegas Off-Road Experience. The build aims to combine off-road capabilities with luxury comfort for passengers.

    Detroit Custom Coach, Galpin Auto Sports, Waldoch Crafts and 3dCarbon and Air Design have all focused on improving the Transit’s interior with upgraded entertainment equipment, high-end materials, massaging seats and other features.

    The Expedition and Transit builds will be showcased next week in Ford’s 20,000-square-foot booth at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

  • Toyota builds fuel-cell vehicle for Japanese Rally Championship

    October 31, 2014
    Toyota has revealed a fuel-cell vehicle (FCV) that has been adapted for use in the upcoming Japanese Rally Championship.
    The zero-emissions sedan has been “specially tuned and outfitted for rally racing,” though it will actually be used as a safety car that drives the roads ahead of the competing rally cars.

    The rally-spec FCV design is nearly identical to the production model, which boasts a 300-mile range and a zero-to-60 mph time of around 10 seconds. Bolder graphics, mud flaps and dark-grey wheels are the only obvious changes to the external design.

    The company has not fully detailed its list of modifications, such as potential suspension or powertrain tweaks.

    The 177-mile Shinshiro Rally will be held in the Aichi Prefecture on November 1-2, while the first batch of production FCVs are slated for arrival in Japan by April 2015 before spreading to the US and Europe by the summer.