• Nissan reveals retro livery for GT-R Le Mans racer

    May 31, 2015

    Nissan has revealed a new livery for its unconventional Le Mans racer set to tackle Circuit de la Sarthe next month.

    In a time-lapse video that follows the construction of a NISMO GT-R LM, the new livery is revealed to be a traditional Nissan tricolor that dates back to their earliest racing exploits. Blue, white and red have decorated Datsuns dating back to the late 1960s on 2000 Sports roadster, 510 and 240Z race cars.

    This particular colorway, however, is an homage to the Nissan R90C racer. That particular Group C prototype, powered by a 3.5L twin-turbo V8 good for 1,100hp, competed in the 1990 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Nissan fielded five examples built on two different continents; three finished, with the Oppama works-built car piloted by Masahiro Hasemi, Kazuyoshi Hoshino, and Toshio Suzuki placing as high as fifth place. The cars would later go on to place first in class at the 24 Hours of Daytona with Bob Earl, Derek Daly, Chip Robinson, and Geoff Brabham at the wheel.

    But while the R90C and all Le Mans racers are either rear- or all-wheel-drive, the new NISMO GT-R LM sends its 1,250hp from its hybrid 3.0L twin-turbo V6 to its front wheels. The layout allows engineers to devote the entire back half of the car to aerodynamics, which will create downforce, save fuel and result in fewer pit stops. The Nissan GT-R LM NISMO will compete in the LMP1 class at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, which will be held June 13-14, 2015.

    Live images by Ben Hsu.

  • Subaru mulls seven names for 7-passenger crossover

    May 31, 2015

    A recent Subaru owner’s survey revealed that the company is considering a 7-seater crossover for the US market.

    In the survey, which was shared to Jalopnik, Subaru asks, “In thinking about the Subaru brand and the possibility of a 7 passenger vehicle being offered in the future, please rate how well you like these names for the new vehicle? [sic].” The survey then asks for a rating from 1-10 for seven potential names: Centauri, Cypress, Ascent, Meridian, Sojourn, and Columbia.

    The car in question is likely a version of the recently launched Japan-market Crossover 7, based on a concept from the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show. That vehicle itself was based on a three-row Exiga wagon that’s been on sale since 2008, but Outback-ified with a raised ride height and more durable body cladding.

    The Crossover 7 is powered by Subaru’s 2.5-liter boxer four mated with a continuously variable transmission. The company has hinted as early as 2013 that there’d be a three-row crossover launching as a 2016 model.

    Subaru has not had a three-row, 7-seat vehicle in its lineup since the B9 Tribeca ended production in January 2014.

  • Mercedes-Benz to unveil facelifted A-Class in Frankfurt

    May 31, 2015
    Mercedes-Benz will travel to the Frankfurt Motor Show to introduce the facelifted A-Class, a premium compact hatchback aimed right at the Audi A3 and the recently-updated BMW 1 Series.
    The visual changes will be minor at best. Official pictures are not available, but sources close to Mercedes have hinted the A will get revised headlights, a redesigned grille, new bumpers on both ends and new-look LED tail lamps.

    Buyers will have more options to choose from, including LED ambient lighting, a long list of comfort- and safety-oriented electronic driving aids and a wi-fi hotspot, a first in the nameplate’s history. The A will also benefit from the latest generation of Mercedes’ infotainment system.

    Generally speaking, the current A-Class’ gasoline- and diesel-burning engines will be carried over to the updated model with only small modifications. However, the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-banger that powers the range-topping A45 AMG will be tuned to pump out at least 375 horsepower, a generous 20-pony increase over the current model. A seven-speed automatic transmission will send power to all four wheels via a sport-tuned version of Mercedes’ 4Matic system.

    The updated Mercedes-Benz A-Class will be introduced online over the summer, and it will greet the public for the first time at the Frankfurt Motor Show that will open its doors next September. Mercedes is still not planning on selling the A-Class on our shores, where the market for premium hatchbacks is small at best, but the 375-horsepower turbo four will most likely find its way under the hood of Mercedes-AMG’s CLA 45 and GLA 45 in time for the 2016 model year.

  • Tata introduces updated Nano GenX

    May 31, 2015
    Jaguar-Land Rover parent company Tata has introduced an updated version of the Nano city car dubbed GenX.
    Visually, the Nano GenX benefits from a more modern-looking front end characterized by a strip of piano black trim at the bottom of the hood, revised headlights as well as a new bumper with a U-shaped air vent and a pair of round fog lights. The air vent isn’t just for looks, it’s part of a new cooling system designed to direct more air to the engine bay.

    The rear end gets roughly the same U-shaped air vent seen up front, new light clusters and piano black trim on the hatch. New paint colors and plastic hubcaps round out the exterior updates.

    Tata has not made any major changes to the engine, meaning the Nano is powered by a rear-mounted 624cc two-cylinder engine that makes 38 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 37 lb-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm. Base models come standard with a four-speed manual transmission, but buyers looking to go clutchless can select a five-speed automatic manual gearbox. This marks the first time the Nano is offered with an automatic transmission, and makes it the cheapest automatic new car on the Indian market.

    The GenX carries on with drum brakes all around, though Tata points out it’s the safest Nano ever built thanks in part to the addition of side impact beams.

    The Tata Nano GenX is on sale now across India.

  • EPA wants to scale back ethanol mandates

    May 30, 2015
    The Environmental Protection Agency has again called for the growing ethanol biofuel mandates to be scaled back.
    The agency has proposed revised renewable fuel volume standards that continue to raise the amount of corn-based ethanol that will be used in gasoline, but with slightly less ambitious targets than the goals outlined in the 2007 regulations.

    “These standards would provide the certainty the marketplace needs to further develop low-carbon fuels over the coming years,” the EPA wrote in a blog post.

    The agency suggests the revisions are necessary to keep growing renewable fuel production while acknowledging the “real limits” to the actual amounts of biofuels that can be supplied to consumers at this time.

    “These limits include lower than expected demand for gasoline and constraints in supplying ethanol at greater than 10 percent of gasoline,” the agency notes.

    Nearly every gallon of gasoline sold in the US market is said to contain more than 10 percent ethanol, but increasing ethanol usage will require much higher usage of higher-level blends such as E15 and E85. Reflecting the incompatibility with most older and many newer vehicles, automakers have resisted the push and availability remains limited. Some states have even worked to ban E15, citing the potential for damaged vehicles.

    “Because of the limitations that exist today, we are using the authority Congress gave the agency to adjust the volumes below the annual targets set in the original 2007 legislation,” the EPA concludes. “These proposed volumes are achievable in the timeframes under consideration. At the same time, the volumes steadily increase every year, reflecting Congress’s clear intent to drive up the nation’s use of renewable fuel.”

  • GT6 preview: SRT Tomahawk Vision Gran Turismo [Video]

    May 30, 2015
    Dodge has released a batch of new teaser images, along with a video, previewing an upcoming concept car that will debut in the virtual world of Gran Truismo 6.
    Called the SRT Tomahawk Vision Gran Turismo, the virtual super car is billed as “a single-seat hybrid powertrain concept vehicle.” Dodge says the car is being “released exclusively in GT6,” so we wouldn’t hold out much hope that a production SRT Tomahawk will ever see the light of day.

    However, the virtual SRT Tomahawk promises to be plenty cool, with futuristic styling clearly influenced by the Dodge Viper. Although highly unlikely, we can’t help but think how cool it would be to see the SRT Tomahawk hit the road as an alternative to the Ford GT.

    No official release date for the SRT Tomahawk was announced, but it should land in the virtual world of GT6 relatively soon. The SRT Tomahawk joins a long list of other concepts designed specifically for GT6, including the Peugeot Vision Gran Turismo and Lexus LF-LC GT.

  • Chairman confirms FCA CEO contacted GM about merger

    May 30, 2015
    The chairman of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, John Elkann, confirmed on Friday that the automaker’s chief executive officer is actively pursuing mergers with other companies, including General Motors.
    FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne hasn’t been shy about voicing his desire to merge with another automaker to consolidate development costs, but so far he hasn’t named any specific targets. GM had been rumored as a potential target by FCA, but nothing was ever officially confirmed. That is, until now.

    In an interview with Reuters, Elkann confirmed that Marchionne has reached out to GM CEO Mary Barra via email about a possible tie-up. Moreover, Elkann further revealed that Marchionne’s note to GM was “not the only conversation” the company has had with possible partners.

    Barra reportedly declined Marchionne’s merger proposition, but that doesn’t mean a tie-up with GM is completely out of the question. When asked if his company would ever consider a hostile bid for an automaker like GM, Elkann said FCA would “act with determination if there are the prerequisites to do something that makes sense.”

    Marchionne believes there will be at least one major merger in the auto industry by 2018, so there could be some action on that front in the coming months and years.

  • Ford F-150 production constrained amid frame shortage?

    May 30, 2015

    Ford’s redesigned F-150 is reportedly facing production constraints once again, causing potential trouble as the company attempts to ramp up shipments of the nation’s best-selling nameplate.
    The issue has been blamed on a lack of frame supplies from a Kentucky supplier, which appears to have encountered trouble keeping up with growing orders, according to an Automotive News report.

    “Demand for our F-150 is sky high,” Todd Hillyard, the bargaining chairman of UAW Local 249 for Ford’s Kansas City plant, reportedly wrote in a Facebook post. “Frames continue to hold both truck plants back from running overtime days on the weekend.”

    The company reported an overall decline in sales for February and March, with blame placed on retooling efforts for the new F-150. The pickup was initially built at the Dearborn Truck Plant but has since begun production at a second factory in Kansas City.

    Unnamed plant workers from both factories have claimed the lack of truck frames has prevented the company from running overtime shifts, viewed as necessary to compensate for the retooling slowdown.

    “We are producing the all-new F-150 at full production at Dearborn Truck Plant and will be at full production this quarter at our Kansas City Assembly Plant,” Ford said in a statement. “As with all our vehicle launches, we are working closely with our suppliers to meet customer demand for the truck.”

  • House panel raises concerns over auto cybersecurity

    May 30, 2015
    The US House Energy and Commerce Committee has raised concerns over cybersecurity in the automotive industry.
    The panel acknowledges the clear benefits of modern transportation and communications technologies such as vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and autonomous systems. Committee leaders are worried that such technologies will bring a new era of potential vulnerabilities that regulators may not be currently equipped to handle.

    “The explosion of new, connected devices and services is exacerbating existing cybersecurity challenges and has introduced another potential consequence – the threat of physical harm – as products responsible for public health and safety are integrated into the Internet ecosystem,” the bipartisan group wrote. “While threats to vehicle technology currently appear isolated and disparate, as the technology becomes more prevalent, so too will the risks associated with it.”

    Legislators wrote letters to 17 automakers asking for more information on current initiatives. The group also calls for cooperation between rival companies and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop strategies that minimize security risks associated with emerging technologies.

    “Threats and vulnerabilities in vehicle systems may be inevitable, but we cannot allow this to undermine the potential benefits of these technologies,” the letters add. “The industry and NHTSA have an opportunity to prepare for the challenges that advanced vehicle technologies present, and to develop strategies to mitigate the risks.”

    The automakers have been asked to submit initial responses by June 11.

  • H&R Sportfedersatz für Opel Adam S mit technischen Daten und Preisen

    May 30, 2015

    Wie auf dem Sprung: H&R verpasst dem Opel Adam S eine Tieferlegung

    Vorn wird der Kleine um 35, hinten um 25 Millimeter tiefer gelegt

    Auch Spurverbreiterungen von zehn bis 60 Millimeter sind zu haben

    Lennestadt, 29. Mai 2015
    Klein, leicht und sehr gemein: Der Opel Adam S ist ein Wolf mit Unschuldsmine. 150 PS aus 1,4 Liter Hubraum treffen auf nur knapp 1,2 Tonnen Auto-Gewicht und bringen ordentlich Vortrieb zustande. In 8,5 Sekunden sprintet der Kurze auf Tempo 100, erst bei 210 km/h ist Schluss. Nicht schlecht für ein Stadtauto.

    Vorn 35, hinten 25 Millimeter

    Damit der Adam S enge Kurven noch schneller und agiler räubern kann, verpasst ihm Fahrwerksspezialist H&R eigens entwickelte Sportfedern. Die Karosserie wird damit vorn um zirka 35 Millimeter, hinten um etwa 25 Millimeter abgesenkt. Das bringt nicht nur eine sattere Straßenlage im Grenzbereich, sondern auch eine schärfere Optik: Der kleine Hesse lauert am Boden, als wolle er gleich lossprinten. Laut Tuner wurden die Federn ausgiebig getestet und werden mit einem fahrzeugspezifischen Gutachten ausgeliefert. Pro Satz kosten sie 224 Euro.

    Spurverbreiterungen zwischen zehn und 60 Millimeter

    Darüber hinaus bietet H&R für den Adam S auch Trak+ Spurverbreiterungen an. Sie sind für beide Achsen verfügbar und setzen die Leichtmetallräder in den Radhäusern dynamischer in Szene. Die Abmessung betragen 10, 20, 24, 26, 30, 36, 40, 44, 50 oder 60 Millimeter, der Preis liegt zwischen 42 und 127 Euro.

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