• Nissan reveals autonomous Leaf Piloted Drive 1.0 concept

    October 26, 2015

    Nissan has introduced a new concept called Leaf Piloted Drive 1.0 that highlights the advancements its engineers have made in the field of self-driving technology.

    Billed as a follow-up to the experimental, semi-autonomous Leaf that was shown in 2013, the new Piloted Drive 1.0 concept gains five radars, 12 cameras, four laser scanners and a host of ultrasonic sensors that help the hatchback paint an digital image of its surroundings. It’s consequently able to change lanes in heavy traffic, merge onto the freeway, and pass other cars without any input from the driver.

    When viewed from the outside, the Piloted Drive 1.0 concept looks like a standard Leaf save for road-scanning equipment that’s discreetly integrated into the front bumper. Nissan hasn’t published technical details, so odds are the prototype is powered by a stock, 107-horsepower electric motor.

    The Nissan Leaf Piloted Drive 1.0 is currently testing at the Advanced Technology Center that Nissan operates on the outskirts of Tokyo, Japan. The automaker is expected to test the concept on public roads once it’s fine-tuned, and it might put it through its paces on North American soil shortly after.

    What’s next?

    Nissan predicts it will launch its semi-autonomous technology in the not-too-distant future, and it hopes to sell its first fully autonomous car by 2020. In the meantime, the automaker will introduce a brand new concept that’s both electric and autonomous later this week in Tokyo.

  • SEMA Preview: Acura restores Ludacris’s 1993 Legend

    October 26, 2015

    Acura is heading to SEMA this year with a classic 1993 Legend, a model that hasn’t been sold since 1995.

    This Legend, however, is special because it belongs to rapper Ludacris, who has made no secret of his love for his 22-year-old sedan. Though the star is worth millions today, he still has a fondness for his first car. ” I will never get rid of this car,” he told Ellen DeGeneres on her show. He’s even put it on the cover of his latest album, Ludaversal, alongside another vehicle from his fleet, a Hawker 900 private jet.

    Recently, the car was damaged in an accident. However, Acura is helping Ludacris fix the car at its Los Angeles design studio under the supervision of lead designer David Marek. Fans of the car and Ludacris can follow the progress of the restoration on Instagram using the hastag #LegendarDuo.

    Accompanying the Legend will be a brand new Acura ILX. Modified by Galpin Auto Sports, it will sport a gold paint job reminiscent of Ludacris’s champagne Legend. Both will be revealed on November 3 in Las Vegas.

  • SEMA Preview: Honda Ridgeline Desert Racer sketch

    October 26, 2015

    Honda has previewed its lineup for the upcoming SEMA show, the aftermarket and tuning extravaganza held in Las Vegas every November.

    Honda has previewed some details about the new Ridgeline Desert Racer, but now there is an illustration to go along with it. The unique unibody pickup will also mark the return of the automaker’s off-road racing program, conducted through its HPD (Honda Performance Development) division.

    The sketch reveals what appears to be chunkier styling than the outgoing model, with a character line that circles the body, from the doors to the tailgate. Large, 6-spoke wheels and squared-off wheel arches complete the off-road look.

    In addition to the redesigned Ridgeline, Honda is going all-out with several modified versions of cars it debuted within the past year. First up will be four versions of the Vezel crsoover, followed by a refreshed CR-Z, the all-new Civic Sedan and a Pilot crossover.

    The SEMA Show kicks off on November 3.

  • Geely-owned London Taxi Company previews hybrid black cab

    October 26, 2015
    No longer teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, the London Taxi Company (LTC) has introduced a close-to-production prototype called TX5 that previews the next Hackney carriage.

    Instantly recognizable as a black cab, the TX5 is characterized by a retro-inspired design that borrows a handful of styling cues from the Austin FX4 that was introduced in England in 1958. It’s slightly longer and taller than the outgoing TX4 but no wider.

    The heritage-laced treatment is only skin-deep. The TX5 rides on a new modular aluminum platform that LTC parent company Geely predicts will ultimately underpin no less than seven new models. Composite body panels help keep the cab’s weight in check.

    Starting in 2018, all taxi cabs operating within the London city limits will need to be equipped with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain that boasts an all-electric driving range of at least 30 miles. Geely promises the TX5 is fully compliant with these regulations, but additional technical details haven’t been published yet.

    Inside, the TX5 offers space for a driver and six passengers (one more than the TX4), an in-car WiFi connection, a panoramic sunroof and charging ports for mobile devices.

    Geely — a large Chinese automaker that also owns Volvo — has invested over £300 million (roughly $460 million) to develop the TX5 and assemble it in a new factory that’s currently being constructed on the outskirts of Coventry, England. Production and sales are both scheduled to kick off in 2017.

    Interestingly, the plant will have an initial production capacity of 36,000 units annually, a figure that’s roughly ten times bigger than the new cab market in London. Geely openly admits that export markets are monumentally important for the TX5, but at the time of writing it hasn’t disclosed plans to offer the cab in the United States.

  • UAE-based Zarooq Motors previews 500-hp off-road coupe

    October 26, 2015
    Zarooq Motors, a startup automaker based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has announced plans to launch a performance-focused coupe designed specifically to hit the dunes.

    Called Sand Racer, Zarooq’s first car was penned by Anthony Jannarelly, the man who designed the Lykan Hypersport that famously starred in Fast & Furious 7. The teaser sketch suggests the coupe gets a tall front end with a muscular-looking bumper and thin headlights, a long hood, rakish A-pillars and a sleek, fastback-like roof line.

    Interior pictures haven’t been published yet. However, Zarooq promises the Sand Racer boasts a well-appointed cockpit with room for two adults and all of the modern creature comforts buyers expect to find in a high-end car.

    Power comes from a rear-mid-mounted 3.5-liter V6 engine that can be tuned to make anywhere between 300 and 500 horsepower. Power is sent to all four wheels, and the Sand Racer boasts up to 17 inches of suspension travel.

    Designed and built in the UAE, the Zarooq Sand Racer will make its official debut next month during an event held on the sidelines of the 2015 Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix. It will carry a base price of roughly $80,000, and high-end models will top out at approximately $160,000. The first deliveries are scheduled for early next year.

    What’s next?

    Zarooq’s plans for the Sand Racer include exporting it to a host of global markets and launching a one-make race series that will take place on a special off-road track that the firm is currently building on the outskirts of Dubai.

    Ultimately, Zarooq hopes that the Sand Racer will spawn an entire lineup of high-end, off-road-focused sports cars.