• India’s Mean Metal Motors previews hybrid M-Zero supercar

    October 30, 2015
    An Indian startup automaker named Mean Metal Motors has announced ambitious plans to introduce the country’s first-ever supercar.

    Founded by a 21-year old entrepreneur named Sarthak Paul, Mean Metal Motors’ first model will be a sleek-looking two-seater coupe called M-Zero. Interestingly, it will be mostly made out of a new material called carbo-flax that promises to be both lighter and cheaper to produce than carbon fiber. Paul hopes to sell carb-flax to satellite-building companies in India in order to fund the production of the first few M-Zero prototypes.

    The coupe’s design is still being fine-tuned but it’s inspired by the sailfish, the fastest sea animal on the planet.

    “I was watching a random show in which they discussed how the world’s fastest sea animal moves through air and water,” explained Paul in an interview with CNN Money. “Then we thought, why don’t we just analyze why the fastest sea animal is the fastest?”

    Although a functional prototype hasn’t been built yet, power is expected to come from a gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid drivetrain made up of a mid-mounted, twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine and a small electric motor. On paper, the 500-plus-horsepower setup should allow the M-Zero to reach 60 mph from a stop in less than three seconds — faster than a Porsche 911 GT3 RS — and reach a top speed of 200 mph.

    If everything goes according to plan, Mean Metal Motors will introduce its first concept at next year’s edition of the Paris Motor Show. The production model will land shortly after with a base price that will lie between $125,000 and $150,000, but what markets it will be sold in isn’t known at this point.

  • Terradyne launches armored Gurkha Civilian Edition

    October 30, 2015
    Canada-based Terradyne has introduced a huge, rugged-looking truck dubbed Gurkha Civilian Edition. As its name loosely implies, the Civilian Edition is essentially a toned-down version of an armored truck named Gurkha RPV that’s built primarily for armed forces all over the world.

    The Gurkha looks like it was built to star in a movie about the apocalypse thanks to an over-the-top, function-over-form look characterized by a tall front end with a bumper crafted out of solid metal, small side windows designed to protect the occupants, black bead lock wheels tucked under wide fender flares and a design that accurately defines the word “boxy.” The truck is based on a Ford F-550 Super Duty, and careful observers will notice the door mirrors still carry a Blue Oval part number.

    Like its military-spec counterpart, the Gurkha Civilian Edition was developed to withstand impacts from 7.62-millimeter armor-piercing rounds. Buyers with particularly determined enemies can order additional armor — including protective mesh on the windows, blast mitigation seating, and upgraded floor blast material — at an extra cost. Gun racks are also available should the passengers need to fire back.

    The murdered-out behemoth is powered by a Ford-sourced 6.7-liter turbodiesel V8 engine that makes 300 horsepower at 2,800 rpm and 660 lb-ft. of torque at 1,600 rpm. A six-speed automatic transmission sends power to all four wheels. The Gurkha Civilian Edition can drive through over 30 inches of water, but the trade-off is that the Continental off-road tires limit its top speed to just 70 mph.

    The Gurkha Civilian Edition is built in Ontario, and it surprisingly retains the F-550′s drivetrain warranty because the conversion is approved by Ford. On sale now, it carries a base price of roughly $278,000.

  • Ford details three recalls for Mustang, E-Series and Edge

    October 30, 2015
    Ford has detailed three recall campaigns for the 2009-2010 Edge and Lincoln MKX, the 2016 E-Series cutaway and chassis cab, and the 2016 Mustang.

    Affecting approximately 129,000 vehicles, the Edge and MKX recall focuses on corrosion under the reinforcement brackets for the fuel-tank mounts. Failure can eventually cause a fuel leak, presenting a fire risk.

    The E-Series campaign includes just 72 units that may have left the factory with a defective trailer-brake controller. The trailer brakes may not engage when the driver presses the brake pedal, extending stopping distance and increasing the risk of a crash.

    Approximately 1,900 Mustangs are being recalled due to problems with some restraint parts. The components may have been damaged during shipping from the supplier, potentially making the vehicles non-compliant with federal safety regulations related to seatbelt performance and child restraint anchor systems.

    Ford claims to be unaware of any accidents or injuries related to the three defects.

  • BMW working on dual-clutch transmission for FWD cars?

    October 30, 2015
    With its first-generation of front-wheel drive vehicles now on the road, BMW is reportedly developing a new dual-clutch transmission for front-drive applications.

    According to BMW Blog, BMW is working on a new DCT that would be used in its latest crop of front-wheel drive vehicle. BMW launched its first FWD model in 2014, with the layout just now hitting U.S. shores in the form of the X1 crossover.

    BMW currently uses an eight-speed automatic transmission in its FWD models, but that gearbox isn’t ideally suited for performance models. In its place BMW could soon use a new dual-clutch unit.

    BMW follows a similar strategy with its rear-wheel drive cars. For example, the regular 3-Series sedan is equipped with an eight-speed auto, but the M3 gets a seven-speed dual-clutch. If BMW follows the same blueprint with its FWD cars, that means the automaker could be planning an X1 M, or at least an X1 M40i.

    And since BMW’s FWD platform is shared with the MINI brand, that could mean the dual-clutch might be used in high-performance John Cooper Works variants.

    If the rumors prove to be true, we probably won’t see BMW’s DCT for front drivers until at least 2017.

    Photos by Mark Elias.

  • UAW-GM deal includes $1.9B factory investments, $8K bonuses

    October 30, 2015
    The United Auto Workers’ tentative contract agreement with General Motors reportedly includes significant signing bonuses and commitments to invest billions in US factories.

    The automaker has agreed to spend an additional $1.9 billion in factory upgrades and expansions at 12 different sites. Most workers will receive $8,000 bonuses for ratifying the contract — twice the signing bonus in the new Fiat Chrysler Automobiles contract — while temporary employees are eligible for a $2,000 payout.

    “And we created a foundation to eliminate unequal [two-tier] pay for equal work with wage rates based on the content of the work, with grow-in schedules for each,” UAW leaders wrote in a letter to hourly workers.

    All traditional members will receive a three-percent raise the first year and third year, along with a four-percent lump-sum bonus in the second and fourth years of the contract term. Other enhancements include extra holiday time, double-time pay on Sundays and health-care provisions.

    “We know from experience that without product investments there is no job or income security and no future growth,” the UAW added in its letter to members. “Not considering the give and take between job security, and good pay and benefits is irresponsible. We believe this proposed agreement achieves both income security and job security.”

    The tentative proposal must now be ratified by the tens of thousands of workers at GM plants across the country.