• Porsche cleared in Carrera GT crash that killed Paul Walker

    April 6, 2016

    Porsche has been cleared of any wrongdoing in the fatal car crash that killed actor Paul Walker. Walker was killed in 2013 when the Porsche Carrera GT he was riding in spun out of control and struck a row of trees.

    U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez ruled on Tuesday that Kristine Rodas, the widow of the Carrera GT driver, Roger Rodas, failed to provided evidence that the high performance car’s suspension failed before the crash. Gutierrez also dismissed Rodas’ claim that the Carrera GT lacked sufficient safety equipment.

    “Plaintiff has provided no competent evidence that Rodas’ death occurred as a result of any wrongdoing on the part of defendant,” Gutierrez wrote, according to The Detroit News.

    Porsche is facing two other lawsuits stemming to the crash — one from Walker’s daughter and another filed by the actor’s father — but the German automaker maintains that excessive speed was the main cause of the wreck. Porsche also alleges that improper maintenance and modifications were factors in the crash.

    Investigations by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and California Highway Patrol determined that high speed was the cause for the November 2013 crash. Investigators say the vehicle was traveling at 94mph at the time of the crash; Rodas maintains the Carrera GT was traveling at no more than 71mph. Investigators found no evidence of mechanical failure.

  • Tesla: ‘Hubris’ to blame for Model X delivery delays

    April 6, 2016

    Tesla Motors has warned of Model X production delays, blamed on internal ‘hubris’ and supply issues.

    Reports circulating late last year suggested Tesla had quickly ramped up Model X assembly to 800 units per week, representing 75 percent of the 2016 production target. Official numbers from the first quarter point to a twelve-week delivery total of just 2,400 units, or 200 units per week.

    Tesla suggests “severe Model X supplier parts shortages” slowed production in January and February. The setbacks lasted “much longer than initially expected,” though the build rate was back up to 750 units per week by last full week of March.

    “The root causes of the parts shortages were: Tesla’s hubris in adding far too much new technology to the Model X in version 1, insufficient supplier capability validation, and Tesla not having broad enough internal capability to manufacture the parts in-house,” the company wrote in a statement to investors.

    The problems were associated with only a half dozen parts, out of 8,000 unique components, though a single missing part “means a car cannot be delivered.”

    The company claims to be addressing all three root causes to prevent similar problems from screwing up the Model 3 launch. Production hiccups have been mostly tolerated with the company’s high-end products, but the company faces increased scrutiny as it prepares to sell a mass-market car. Notably, the Model 3 has already received more than 276,000 pre-orders.

    Tesla chief executive Elon Musk recently claimed the Fremont facility, once owned by General Motors and Toyota, is capable of building 500,000 units annually. The company is at least a few years away from approaching the maximum theoretical production rate, which represents nearly 10,000 units weekly.

  • VW might miss deadline for diesel fix

    April 6, 2016

    Volkswagen might miss a court ordered April 21 deadline to come up with a fix for its dirty diesels, an EPA official has revealed.

    U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer ordered VW to come up with a solution for its emissions-cheating diesel models by April 21, but EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told Reuters on Tuesday that it’s possible Europe’s largest auto might miss that deadline. VW already whiffed on a March 24 deadline set by Breyer.

    At this point it remains unknown if VW will be able to come up with a remedy for the 580,000 vehicles that were rigged to pass EPA testing but then spew up to 40 times the legal limit of greenhouse gasses during normal driving. Officials in California have already indicated they might be willing to accept a partial fix, but the federal government hasn’t echoed that sentiment. If no agreement is reached, the case could go to trial this summer.

    “I wouldn’t take any single signal as the direction of those negotiations or where any final agreement – if we reach one – will end up,” McCarthy said.

    VW is already facing a suit from the U.S. Justice Department seeking up to $46 billion for rules violations. The FTC is also suing VW for false advertising of its “clean” diesel models.

  • Businessmen thrash Ferarri, Maseratis on China’s ‘most dangerous’ road

    April 6, 2016

    Wealthy Chinese businessman Ni Haishan has reportedly encountered a bit of trouble on a perilous automotive adventure on the Sichuan-Tibet Highway.

    Known as China’s ‘most dangerous’ road, the highway includes many unpaved sections, narrow switchbacks, river crossings, extreme grades, high altitude and other challenges.

    The more difficult segments are typically driven by high-riding, four-wheel-drive utility vehicles, however Ni Haishan appears to have felt that it would make for a more rewarding journey in his Ferrari F12, according to a Mirror report. He is said to have invited 10 of his top salesman, each following in a Maserati Ghibli that had been received as a bonus from the company earlier this year.

    Unsurprisingly, pictures posted on NetEase show the tribulations of such an ambitious journey. At least five of the Ghibli sedans are said to have required a tow to local garages to fix damage to the tires and chassis. The Ferrari also appears to have been damaged. One picture shows a carbon-ceramic brake seemingly intact, but the wheel bolts apparently sheared from the hub.

    “What’s the problem with showing off your wealth when you’re rich?” he told a Chengdu newspaper, as translated by the Mirror. “If I didn’t do so, people would think our business is doing poorly.”

  • Callaway to launch C7 shooting brake package this year

    April 6, 2016

    Tuning firm Callaway has announced that its shooting brake-styled Corvette AeroWagen Package will go on sale later this year.

    Callaway’s AeroWagen Package essentially transforms any Chevrolet Corvette C7 Coupe into the fastest grocery getter on the block. The specially developed package replaces the Corvette’s standard hatch with a single-piece, carbon fiber lift back that promises a “significant” cargo space improvement over the standard ‘Vette. Callaway’s modified hatch uses all of the Corvette’s standard seals, lifts and latches, meaning the package can be converted back to factory original at any time.

    Although the AeroWagen package significantly alters the look of the Corvette coupe, the car retains its stock interior and factory furnished rear fascia. The package even retains the car’s targa roof. Callaway will install the kit on any C7 Corvette, as well as its specially tuned models.

    Installation of the AeroWagen Package is slated to begin during the fourth quarter of this year. Pricing was not announced.

    Although Chevy has never offered a wagon-variant of the Corvette to the general public, the company toyed with the idea during the first-generation of the sports car. The original Nomad concept from 1954 was littler more than a Corvette with a station wagon rear end.