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The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb endured early tragedy today, when 54-year-old motorcycle competitor Bobby Goodin crashed after crossing the finish line at the peak.

When we arrived at the summit, we spoke to a couple of photographers and riders who had seen the accident. It seems Goodin crossed the line and was still going at a decent clip when he raised his hand to celebrate making it to the top. He lost the front end on the unpaved section at the top and the bike veered right, launching Goodin over the edge, flipping him end-over-end into a patch of boulders.

When EMTs reached him he was unconscious, so they they performed CPR until he was medevac’ed an hour later to Penrose Hospital. This was Goodin’s second time competing, the Flower Mound, Texas native riding a Triumph 675R in the Middleweight class. He competed last year on an Aprilia, seen above.

Sadly, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that Goodin has succumbed to his injuries, marking the fifth time someone has died at the Pikes Peak hill climb, the last being in 2005. Our thoughts go out to Goodin’s friends and family.

Bobby Goodin dies following horrific motorcycle accident at Pikes Peak originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 29 Jun 2014 21:39:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Bryson Rowley with his 2008 Dodge Ram 2500

You ever hear a story and start cringing before you hear the end because you know how it’s going to turn out? That could very well have been the case with the story from a few weeks ago in West Valley City, Utah, where a 14-year-old kid stole his grandfather’s Hyundai Veloster and took it for a joyride – through a park full of children. But instead it turned into a heart-warming tale of heroism and a community banding together to do what’s right… and then some.

Bryson Rowley was that hero who identified the danger and, rather than sit idly by and watch the joyrider potentially run over a child, got into his truck and drove it into the menacing runaway hatchback. The collision caused some $7,500 to his 2008 Dodge Ram 2500, but instead of getting stuck with the bill – one which his insurance may very well have refused to pay since the crash was, technically speaking, intentional – his community pitched in a helping hand.

Bryan Ellison, who owns West Valley Carstar with his brother, saw the news on television and wanted to help. So he brought Rowley a rental car, picked up his truck and brought it back to his auto repair shop. People from around the community donated parts, and when all was said and done, some $15,000 of work and upgrades were performed on the Ram that was returned to an overwhelmed Bryson Rowley better than new. Watch the video below for the full story.

Continue reading Hero gets his truck back better than new thanks to community support [w/video]

Hero gets his truck back better than new thanks to community support [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 29 Jun 2014 19:21:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Ford Focus ST Diesel

If you’re in the market for a hot hatch, there are some excellent choices at your disposal – especially if you live in Europe. But if you want a diesel, well, your choices become rather more limited. Volkswagen tends to that niche market with the Golf GTD (essentially an oil-burning version of the GTI available Stateside), but that’s about the extent of it. The pleas of those looking for more diesel-burning hot hatch choices haven’t fallen on deaf ears at Ford, with the Blue Oval not only rolling out a facelifted gas-powered Focus ST at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this weekend, but also a new diesel version as well.

The diesel Focus ST (which we hope and pray isn’t marketed as the STD) packs a 2.0-liter turbodiesel four producing 182 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque to propel the oil-burning hot hatch to 62 in 8.1 seconds en route to a top speed of 135 miles per hour. With less power and only slightly more torque, that makes the diesel Focus ST considerably slower than the gasoline one, which packs 252 hp and 270 lb-ft, runs to 62 in 6.5 seconds and tops out at 154 mph, but (in a testament to how far particulate filters have come) the diesel model cuts carbon emissions by nearly a third compared to the petrol version and returns about 50-percent better fuel economy, which makes that much more of a difference in markets where diesel is already priced better than gasoline at the pump.

For buyers who wouldn’t consider anything other than a diesel, it also represents 23-percent more power than the previous top-level diesel Focus. The VW Golf GTD, for reference, offers up 181 hp (just 1 horse less), 280 lb-ft (15 fewer torques) but is somehow estimated to reach 60 in a considerably fleeter 7.4 seconds.

Regardless of engine choice, buyers get the same six-speed manual transmission and all the other enhancements introduced on the updated Focus ST, including recalibrated suspension and steering, updated front- and rear-end styling and upgraded interior equipment. Plus they’ll get to choose between the five-door hatchback or extended wagon bodystyles, giving our European compatriots four configurations where American buyers only get the one. Increased utility and fuel economy aside, we’re still convinced ours is the pick of the litter, and we’ve got our doubts that a diesel ST would sell in America. What do you think? Vote in our poll below and then have your say in Comments.

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Continue reading Ford rolls out diesel Focus ST at Goodwood [w/poll]

Ford rolls out diesel Focus ST at Goodwood [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 29 Jun 2014 18:10:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Trumpchi GS5

If you find yourself in the theater to watch Transformers: Age of Extinction, pay special attention to the scenes set in China between mouthfuls of popcorn because you just might be seeing some of those vehicles on roads in the US in the not-too-distant future. Guangzhou Automobile Group Co Ltd. (GAC) has several of its Trumpchi brand of vehicles in the new action film, and it claims that it’s trying to bring them to American consumers as soon as next year.

GAC wants its first model here to be the Trumpchi GS5 SUV (pictured above). In China, it’s offered with either a 2.0-liter, naturally aspirated four-cylinder with 145 horsepower and 138 pound-feet or a 1.8-liter turbocharged four with 174 horsepower and 175 lb-ft. ​Buyers can choose from automatic and manual gearboxes, each with five speeds, and front- or all-wheel drive.

“We want to start exporting to the U.S. as quickly as possible and I am confident that they will find our Trumpchi cars competitive,” said Trumpchi boss Wu Song to Automotive News China. The company was chosen to appear in the fourth Transformers movie after director Michael Bay spotted the company’s E-Jet plug-in hybrid and wanted to put it in the film, Song said.

While it’s great to be ambitious, let’s be honest. Breaking into the US market isn’t an easy task. Just look at the valiant effort that Mahindra put up in its attempt to sell vehicles here. There’s little doubt that a Chinese automaker will eventually sell its cars in the US, but the chances that it happens as early as next year are knife-edge slim.

Chinese cars featured in Transformers 4 to be sold in America as soon as next year originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 29 Jun 2014 16:50:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Consolatio Car Bed

Were you ever jealous of the racecar bed that the rich kid down the street had as a kid? Or maybe Ricky Schroder’s on the totally-’80s TV show Silver Spoons? You probably thought the chance had passed since no spouse on this planet would ever let a bed shaped liked a car into the bedroom. However, there might be a solution. Furniture company Morgann Paull is updating the concept of the car bed for adults in a way that doesn’t make you look like a man-child for sleeping in one.

The Consolatio Car Bed features a high-end design like you might find in a nice furniture store along with some automotive-inspired touches. Specifically, the headboard is mounted with two leather seats that Paull claims are perfect for watching TV or reading in bed. If you need some extra space from your partner for the night, there’s even an armrest with cup holders in the middle that folds down. Of course, everyone needs more storage, so there are cubbies behind the headboard. Each one is made to order and can be shipped in either two or five pieces, depending on your needs, according to Paull.

“I actually got the idea initially while at an auto salvage yard looking for parts for a 1977 Jeep CJ7 that I own. As I was leaving the yard, I saw the back of these really nice black leather seats and thought, that would make a really cool headboard,” said Paull to Autoblog via email.

The real challenge might not be getting it into the bedroom but convincing your spouse of the price. It costs $3,999, but you can always try to fall back on delivery in the continental US being free. If you always wanted that racecar bed as a kid and never had it, Paull’s design could be your last and best chance to get one as an adult.

Finally, a car bed for adults originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 29 Jun 2014 15:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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FIA Online Championship on Gran Turismo

Gamers know that you can’t get much closer to the action than in the latest installment of Polyphony Digital’s Gran Turismo simulator series for the PlayStation. But just how close is that virtual reality to actual reality?

According to the FIA, extremely close. At the FIA Sport Conference that just wrapped up in Munich, Jean Todt (president of the motorsport body) and Kazunori Yamauchi (of Polyphony) announced a partnership that grants FIA certification to four circuits digitally rendered for the game. We don’t yet know which tracks those are, specifically, but Silverstone appears to be one of them, and our money’s on the other three being drawn from circuits currently used in Formula One – say, Suzuka, Monza and Spa – and will extend to other tracks in the future.

The burgeoning partnership between the FIA and Polyphony doesn’t end there, however. The two are also collaborating on the launch of a new FIA Online Championship next year. We don’t know much about the digital racing series yet, but according to the statement below, it will offer “the large number of Gran Turismo players and motor sport fans the opportunity to engage with real motor sport.” Read more in the press release below.

Continue reading FIA Online Championship coming to Gran Turismo

FIA Online Championship coming to Gran Turismo originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 29 Jun 2014 14:09:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi - Race

In the ever-changing world that is the Formula One rule book, 2015 will see a bevy of new tweaks. The most notable, besides the absurd inclusion of titanium skidplates, is the introduction of standing restarts following safety car periods.

The full rule change, which will be implemented for the 2015 F1 season reads:

“Safety Car restarts will now be a standing start from the grid. Standing starts will not be carried out if the Safety Car is used within two laps of the start (or restart) of a race or if there are less than five laps of the race remaining.”

According to F1 bosses, this is being done to increase excitement. It’ll be exciting alright, interrupting the flow of the race by bringing the cars to a halt instead of just letting them get on with the business of racing.

More troubling, though, is that this new move seems to fly in the face of common sense in regards to safety. The first corner of a track following the start is the single most dangerous part of a race, as nearly two dozen fragile, bumper-less, 750-horsepower racecars jockey for position. So now, when there’s a wreck that’s bad enough to bring out the safety car, we’re going to immediately follow that with a situation that can lead to more carnage…

The opinions of the drivers, meanwhile, remain mixed. Some, like Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, are impartial to the move, while Mercedes-AMG’s Nico Rosberg wasn’t in favor of the implementation. Daniel Riccardo, at Red Bull, offered perhaps the most balanced opinion, calling standing starts more exciting but less fair.

What are your thoughts on this latest rule change from the FIA? Do you support it, or should the safety car just get out of the way and let the race get going again? Have your say in Comments. You can also scroll down for the full announcement regarding changes for 2015, from the FIA.

Continue reading F1 to get standing restarts after safety car next year

F1 to get standing restarts after safety car next year originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 29 Jun 2014 12:50:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Gibbs Quadski XL

Historically speaking, attempts to make amphibious vehicles have typically not caught on. That’s what makes Gibbs Sports Amphibians such an exception. It’s given us the Aquada roadster, the Humdinga truck and the Quadski ATV. Customers who wanted the latter but wanted to take a friend along for the ride, however, may have been disappointed by the Quadski’s solo seat, but now Gibbs has followed up with the new Quadski XL.

Gibbs Quadski XLWith nearly a foot of extra wheelbase, the Quadski XL packs seating for two along with more storage, all the while offering a more comfortable ride on land and increased stability on the water. Like the existing Quadski, the new XL is built around a composite hull with a 1.3-liter four-cylinder motorbike engine from BMW Motorrad producing 140 horsepower to propel the amphibian to a top speed of 45 miles per hour – on land or water.

While it was at it, Gibbs also improved the rudders, air scoops and bumpers on both the one-seat Quadski and the two-seat Quadski XL. Both models incorporate some 300 patents (and patents pending) and are available at a network of dealers spanning 15 states. Scope out the details in the press release and video below.

Continue reading Gibbs launches Quadski XL for two [w/video]

Gibbs launches Quadski XL for two [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 29 Jun 2014 11:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2014 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

The running order has been established for the 92nd running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb for all classes and everyone’s had all the practice they’re going to get. On Sunday, June 29, the 14,110-foot-high mountain will ask each of them, “Who wants some?” Unlike previous years, while the bikes will run according to class, the cars will run according to their qualifying times set on the bottom section of the course, regardless of division, the fastest guys going first.

That puts Romain Dumas at the head of the 67 car entries, having set a time of 3:37.525 in his Norma M20 RD in the Unlimited Class, but the next Unlimited entry doesn’t appear until sixth, Piero Nappi in his Picchio P4 pp with a time of 4:03.357. In between them, the two Mitsubishi MiEV Evolution IIIs start second and third in the Electric Modified class, that first one driven by Greg Tracy 11 seconds behind Dumas. Then comes Monster Tajima is his E-Runner Pikes Peak Special, then Paul Dallenbach leading the Open Wheel class, four positions ahead of the next Open Wheel competitor.

Leaders in the other classes: Michael Skeen driving a Nissan GT-R in the Open class in seventh, 12 positions ahead of the next class entrant; Jeff Zwart in eighth, driving a Porsche 911, will be the first in Time Attack 1, his competition starting right behind him; Robert Prillka in 21st is the first Time Attack 2 entry in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, three positions ahead of the next entry; in 23rd is Christopher Lennon in his 1973 Porsche 911 in the Vintage class, the next Vintage entry in 37th; the first Exhibition entrant is Donald Huffman in a Radical RXC in 50th, four positions ahead of the next in-class competition; and representing for Electric Production is Roy Richards in a Honda Fit EV.

Pikes Peak organizers will stream the event, but it requires a paid subscription to watch: $3.95 for one hour of viewing, $9.95 for three hours, $19.95 for unlimited watching and $100 for unlimited viewing and an official program. That feed also contains a cache of archival Pikes Peak footage and interviews. The site BoldRide says it is livestreaming the whole race in partnership with Erix Audio, and that appears to be free. You’ll get live timing and results during the race here, and you can follow the Pikes Peak Facebook and Twitter pages for photos and quips. If you do keep up with the feed, you’ll find Autoblog behind the wheel of Car #0, a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, driving the parade lap up the mountain to open the race for the car divisions.

For a few more tidbits on the race and the Mitsubishi MiEV Evolution III, keep reading below.

Continue reading 2014 Pikes Peak Hill Climb: Final Practice Day 4 and pre-race notes

2014 Pikes Peak Hill Climb: Final Practice Day 4 and pre-race notes originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 29 Jun 2014 07:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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SEFT-1

There has always been something singularly romantic about train travel, what with its steady speed and constant sound. Mexican artists Ivan Puig and Andrés Padilla Domene felt the pull of the rails, but since Mexico privatized its railways in 1995, passenger travel has essentially disappeared. They didn’t let that discourage them, though. Instead, they pushed ahead to create their own way to explore the country’s roughly 6,000 miles of abandoned tracks.

Part art project, part oral history and part adventure, they created the SEFT-1 (pictured above), which stands for Sonda de Exploración Ferroviaria Tripulada or Manned Railway Exploration Probe. Granted, they probably could have used just about any vehicle sturdy enough to take the offroad terrain, but the two of them took the idea much further. Starting with a pickup truck, they fabricated a retrofuturist body out of aluminum and a custom interior. The retractable wheels kept it on the tracks when they were still there. The complete design looks like Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion car as rendered by Budget Flash Gordon.

Along the way, they captured their adventure in pictures, video and audio recordings to post on their website (in Spanish) and visited schools to show of the SEFT-1 and share what they had learned. Scroll down to watch a video describing their adventures.

Continue reading This converted pickup explored 6,000 miles of abandoned Mexican railways

This converted pickup explored 6,000 miles of abandoned Mexican railways originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 28 Jun 2014 19:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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General Motors Investigation

New documents have revealed that a current General Motors vice president, Doug Parks, was aware of the ignition switch problems on the Chevrolet Cobalt as early as 2005. At the time, Parks, whom Bloomberg called a “confidante” of CEO Mary Barra and an integral part of GM’s product development team, was the chief engineer on the Cobalt and Saturn Ion. Congressional investigators uncovered the documents, which include an email from Parks and meeting attendance lists for the ignition switch problems.

This new evidence sheds some doubt on GM’s own internal investigation, which found that none of the company’s current executives knew of the ignition switch problems on the Cobalt and Ion. This news is also curious, following GM’s large-scale dismissal of employees found to be responsible for the problem, such as Ray DeGiorgio.

“As Ms. Barra has said repeatedly we have taken all of the personnel actions that we feel are appropriate at this time,” GM spokesman Greg Martin told Bloomberg via email.

More troubling, though, is what this revelation could do to GM’s legal proceedings. The discovery of Parks’ knowledge of the issue could cause potentially serious damage to GM’s bankruptcy argument, in which it claims that “New GM” isn’t responsible for the actions of “Old GM.” According to Consumerist, lawyers could now argue that the lack of a recall, particularly when a former chief engineer and current vice president knew of the issue, could lend credence to arguments that the company was attempting to cover up the problem.

Probe shows current GM VP Parks aware of ignition problem in 2005 originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 28 Jun 2014 17:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2015 Ford Mustang

When the 2015 Ford Mustang hits dealers, it will be with a new batch of features that will power up Sync’s 911 Assist feature, and provide an even greater degree of information to first responders in the event of an accident.

911 Assist will already make a phone call, via a Bluetooth-connected phone, should you bin your car. The automatic message to first responders is a pre-recorded blurb from Ford. With the new enhancements, though, emergency personnel can learn about the maximum change in velocity and whether the crash involved a front, rear, side or a rollover impact. 911 Assist will also send information about how many seat belts were in use and if airbags deployed, allowing more accurate dispatch of resources.

Sync will only broadcast relevant information to save time, and it constructs a very efficient message for the operator,” said David Hatton, the global project leader with Ford Connected Services. “After the introductory message, the voice line opens automatically and occupants can speak directly with the operator via Sync’s hands-free functionality.”

Take a look below for the official press release from Ford, as well as a video of 911 Assist in action.

Continue reading 2015 Ford Mustang will tell authorities how you crashed and if you were belted [w/video]

2015 Ford Mustang will tell authorities how you crashed and if you were belted [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 28 Jun 2014 13:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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BMW M235i Drift Mob practice session

Generally speaking, marketing and journalism don’t mix, but every now and then, what goes into the marketing of a car – the 2015 BMW M235i, in this case – is worth documenting. In that spirit, we took BMW up on its offer to bring us behind the scenes of its upcoming “drift mob” video, starring five red M235i coupes frolicking around a traffic circle in a major world city (BMW has asked us to be coy about which one so as not to blow its cover before the shoot).

The five drivers can all be considered legends of modern-day drifting and stunt driving: Rhys Millen, Samuel Hübinette, Dai Yoshihara, Rich Rutherford and Conrad Grunewald.

As the only US media outlet in attendance, Autoblog plans to follow up with a full story on the experience once BMW polishes and releases the video in a month or so. In the meantime, check out our photos of this epic practice session we captured on our first day hanging with the crew, and be sure to watch this space for more behind-the-scenes action.

Behind the scenes of BMW’s ‘Drift Mob,’ Part 1 originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 28 Jun 2014 10:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Hyundai Santa Fe

Hyundai is, understandably, “very confused by the fine and the different results.”

The South Korean government is investigating Hyundai and Ssangyong, alleging that the two manufacturers overstated the fuel economy figures on some of their crossovers. But while the initial investigation is being carried out by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, a separate branch of government, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy is supporting the manufacturers’ estimates. See Americans, our government isn’t the only dysfunctional one.

The two vehicles that have raised the ire of the transport authorities are the Hyundai Santa Fe and the Ssangyong Korando Sports. Allegedly, the two vehicles overstate their mileage by as much as eight percent. Provided the claim proves true and the two manufacturers are found to have been exaggerating their vehicles’ fuel efficiency, Hyundai could be open to fines of as much as one billion Korean won ($985,000 at today’s rates). Ssangyong could be facing a smaller punishment of just 200 million won ($197K).

In its own testing, meanwhile, the Industry of Trade, Industry and Energy has found that the fuel economy stated by Hyundai and Ssangnyong and the results of internal testing were within the margin of error, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal, which cites government sources.

Hyundai is, understandably, “very confused by the fine and the different results,” the company said in a statement acquired by WSJ. Hopefully, the South Korean government can get its ducks in a row and figure out just who is in the wrong here.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t Hyundai’s first brush with fuel economy overstatement issues. Autoblog regulars will likely remember that Hyundai Motor America endured down a costly and embarrassing fuel economy scandal of its own back in late 2012, and in March of this year, the automaker had to restate efficiency figures on its Korean domestic market Sonata.

Hyundai in trouble for overstating fuel economy numbers at home, too originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 28 Jun 2014 08:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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David Higgins Isle of Man in car

Have you gotten sick of Subaru and the Isle of Man? Good, we’d hope not, because of all the videos we’ve posted so far, today’s is the crown jewel. In-car, around the notoriously treacherous race track, with commentary from Mark Higgins himself.

It gets better, though. Overlaid with the video is the same biometric data that we showed you last week. The result is a heart-pumping, 22-minute video of the record-breaking sprint around the entirety of the Isle of Man TT circuit at a truly wild pace. Higgins commentary, meanwhile, simply adds to the experience of hurtling across the landscape. Subaru has also put together a second video, highlighting the WRX STI that was used in the lap.

You can view both of those videos, as well as a short press release from Subaru, below. Scroll down and take a look.

Continue reading Watch Higgins’ mind-blowing Subaru WRX STI Isle of Man record lap in first-person

Watch Higgins’ mind-blowing Subaru WRX STI Isle of Man record lap in first-person originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 27 Jun 2014 20:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Chevy Cruze

428,211 of these vehicles are located in the United States, 57,706 are in Canada, and 20,956 are in other markets.

In its seemingly never-ending string of recalls, General Motors today announced four new campaigns covering some 506,873 vehicles. 428,211 of these vehicles are located in the United States, 57,706 are in Canada, and 20,956 are in other markets.

First up is the 2013-14 Chevrolet Cruze, which is being recalled because “the inflator in the driver’s front airbag may rupture and/or the airbag may not inflate during airbag deployment,” according to GM. This could shoot metal pieces of the inflator into the cabin, injuring occupants during a crash. What’s more, GM says that if the airbag does not inflate, this could, obviously, increase the risk of injury to the driver. A total of 29,019 Cruzes are affected in the United States, with an additional 4,066 units being recalled in Canada.

The largest of the four recall campaigns involves four-wheel-drive versions of the 2014-15 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, as well as the 2015 Chevy Tahoe, Suburban, GMC Yukon and Yukon XL. A grand total of 392,459 vehicles are affected in the US, with 53,607 more found in Canada, and an additional 20,874 in other markets. Here, the transfer case “may electronically switch to neutral without input from the driver,” GM states. The automaker adds that if this occurs while the vehicle is moving, power will not be sent to the wheels. On top of that, if the vehicle is parked, it may roll away unexpectedly if the parking brake has not been set.

In smaller recall news, 4,794 2013-14 Chevy Caprice police cars and SS sedans are being recalled in the US. According to GM, “If the motor gear teeth become stripped, the wipers may not operate” in these models.

Lastly, 1,939 2014 Chevy Corvettes fitted with the FE1 or FE3 suspension are being recalled in the US “to repair a possible insufficient weld in the rear shocks that could lead to a fracture and/or reduce the shocks’ service life.” In Canada, 33 additional vehicles are affected, as are 82 more ‘Vettes that were exported to other markets.

General Motors is aware of one injury regarding the Cruze recall, and is not aware of any crashes or injuries in the other three recalls. Scroll down for the automaker’s official release.

Continue reading GM announces four new recalls, 507k vehicles affected

GM announces four new recalls, 507k vehicles affected originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 27 Jun 2014 19:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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A German football supporter drives his c

Summer is finally here, and that means sports season is in full bloom. Whether you’ve caught World Cup fever this year or are just supporting your local baseball team, there’s a lot to get excited about. However, if you’ve got one or more of those little pennants or flags attached to your car fluttering in the wind, your fan enthusiasm might be costing the world more than you might think.

There shouldn’t be any surprise that hanging anything off of a car is going to add a little bit of additional aerodynamic drag, and that translates to a slight decrease in fuel economy. For one driver, the change is practically unnoticeable, but for a legion of fans, it can add up.

Treehugger, a website which clearly wears its pro-environment slant on its sleeve, cites a study by Dr. Antonio Filippone of Manchester University of the 2006 World Cup. It found that a car with two small flags attached used about a quarter gallon (one liter) of additional fuel per hour when traveling at 70 miles per hour. Referencing vehicles in England at that time, the study suggested the waving banners could account for a three-percent loss in fuel economy. However, Dr. Filippone estimates that with 500,000 cars flying the colors in England during that year’s World Cup, the flags added an extra 322,000 gallons of gas and 6.2 million pounds of CO2, according to the BBC News.

Given the English teams’ lackluster performance in this year’s World Cup, there probably aren’t too many flags flying in Blighty this year, but there are doubtlessly hundreds of thousands of similar flags proudly flying on cars in World-Cup-crazy countries around the world. No one is saying that a three-percent change in economy means that you shouldn’t support your team, but it’s interesting to contemplate how these tiny changes can add up.

World Cup car flags have us burning a lot of extra gas originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 27 Jun 2014 18:44:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Ford Holds Annual Shareholders Meeting

Ford CEO Alan Mulally has less than a week left in his role of leading the Blue Oval before he hands off duties to Mark Fields on July 1. It doesn’t look like Mulally is going to be shuffling off into his retirement anytime soon, though. The 68-year-old is being rather secretive about his next move, but he tells Bloomberg in a recent interview that he plans to stay close to Ford. Also, if Fields wants to ask for any advice, Mulally is happy to help.

Mulally took over at Ford in 2006 and led the company through a seriously rough patch in the auto industry. According to Bloomberg, he became famous or his Thursday meetings where executives were forced to deal with any problems before they could leave. Since announcing his retirement from Ford in May, Mulally has been insuring a smooth transition of power by traveling the world to all of company’s major locations and saying goodbye to employees and dealers.

In terms of the future at Ford, Mulally doesn’t predict any big changes in management style because the rest of the executive team is staying in place. He believes that Fields is going to maintain the processes already in place to keep things going. After all, it seems to be working. The company is predicting a return to profitability in Europe next year and is opening 88 new dealers in China. If the business could get its recalls under control, things could get even better.

Mulally is clearly a canny interview subject, though. Bloomberg attempts to pin him down about what’s next, but the CEO refuses to even hint at anything. He’s rumored to become the chairman of the board or a board director at another company, but with Mulally’s track record, anything’s possible. Scroll down to watch a portion the interview and see if you think he has something up his sleeve.

Continue reading Mulally will stay close to Ford after he steps down, plans to advise Fields [w/video]

Mulally will stay close to Ford after he steps down, plans to advise Fields [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 27 Jun 2014 18:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2014 Mini Cooper S

One of the big challenges as an automotive journalist is reviewing cars that you have a personal connection to. I have a strong passion for Minis. My first new car was a 2004 Cooper S, and I still own a 2006 model. It’s this affinity that’s left me with a general disdain of the 2007 to 2013 model relative to my first-gen.

The last-generation cars, with their turbocharged engines, softer suspensions, duller steering and homelier looks are, in my mind, inferior to their 2002 to 2006 predecessors. As a car reviewer, though, I couldn’t in good conscience argue the same point. The R56, as the last-gen cars were known internally and by enthusiasts, was a better-balanced vehicle that retained the lion’s share of the abilities and character of the first-generation, R53 Cooper S, but they were better thought out, better designed, more livable, and felt like more complete products.

Before the third-generation of the reborn Mini Cooper S landed in my driveway, I couldn’t help but wonder whether the model would continue its slide towards mass appeal, or if it would re-embrace the enthusiast realm with a stronger driver-focused mission. As I found out during my week with the car, it was a bit of both.

Continue reading 2014 Mini Cooper S

2014 Mini Cooper S originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 27 Jun 2014 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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McLaren 650S GT3

When McLaren rolled out its new 650S, we knew it would only be a matter of time before it would completely replace the 12C altogether. And that would include the racing version – not least because McLaren officials told us as much. And with the Goodwood Festival of Speed now getting underway in the UK, Woking’s GT racing division has revealed its new GT3-spec racer.

The new McLaren 650S GT3 benefits from several key upgrades over the MP4-12C GT3 that’s been competing for the past three seasons in racing series like the Blancpain Endurance Series and GT Asia championship – both of whose standings it currently leads – as well as the Pirelli World Challenge, European Le Mans Series and countless local racing series.

For starters, McLaren gave its GT racer a new face that not only more closely resemble the 650S (which, like the previous GT3, is also based on the 12C’s chassis) but, along with the rest of the revised bodywork (and some rather intriguing-looking wing mirrors), is also more aerodynamically efficient to provide more downforce, better cooling and less drag. McLaren says the 650S GT3 also has a wider track, revised suspension geometry and will cost privateer teams less to run in whichever series they choose thanks to more robust components and a powertrain that can run longer between rebuilds. The cockpit has also been updated to make it more accommodating for drivers who often have to run it over long distances around the clock.

McLaren’s familiar 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 provides the motivation, mated to a six-speed competition-spec sequential gearbox. But while the same engine produces 641 horsepower in road-going spec, the FIA’s Balance of Power regulations mandate it be limited to 493 hp. That actually makes it the least powerful model McLaren makes, but then, of course, the same regulations apply to all the cars against which it will be competing, so customer teams will be counting on the other revisions to help them stay at out ahead of GT3-spec versions of models like the Porsche 911 GT3, Aston Martin V12 Vantage, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, Ferrari 458 Italia and Bentley Continental GT.

McLaren GT says it plans to build 15 examples in time for the start of next season, each selling for £330,000 (before tax, or about $560k). However, teams already running the current 12C GT3 will have the opportunity to upgrade theirs to 650S spec as well. Scope out the full details in the press release below.

Continue reading McLaren rolls out new competition-spec 650S GT3

McLaren rolls out new competition-spec 650S GT3 originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 27 Jun 2014 11:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Mercedes-Benz S-Class Pullman

If insider sources are to be believed, Mercedes-Benz is getting ready to launch the most expensive luxury sedan on the market next year in the form of the S-Class Pullman armored car for $1 million. If it’s too flashy for you, then Mercedes is also reviving the Maybach name for an even longer wheelbase variant of the S-Class.

According to company insiders speaking with Bloomberg, the Pullman will be positioned at the ultimate expression of the Mercedes brand and will hark back to the classic S600 Pullman models of the ’60s. The driver will sit in a partitioned cabin up front, while wealthy and fortunate passengers will be cosseted in two rows of face-to-face seats in the rear. At a reported 21-feet long, it will be even bigger than a Rolls-Royce Phantom Extended Wheelbase. While the armor probably makes up a few hundred thousand dollars of the price, the cost is still likely going to be significantly more than the old Maybach 62 S at $470,350. Only the one percent of the one percent need apply here.

A slight step down from the Pullman will be the still opulent S-Class Maybach. The reincarnation of the twice-dead brand would ride on an even larger body than the long wheelbase S-Class but still offer four seats. Prices for it are rumored to be double the current S600, which puts it around $300,000 or more. The insider told Bloomberg that the unveiling is planned for November at the LA Auto Show and Guangzhou Motor Show in China.

With four different wheelbase lengths of the S-Class possibly on offer by the end of next year, things could get a bit crowded in the lineup. After the utter failure of Maybach as a brand, critics might suggest it’s surprising to see Mercedes putting so much stock in super-expensive luxury sedans. But with the mushrooming number of ultra-wealthy potential clients in markets beyond Europe and North America who are greedily sucking up record numbers of exotics from other automakers, the math doesn’t seem so bad after all.

Mercedes’ $1M S-Class Pullman’s could make it the most expensive sedan ever originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 27 Jun 2014 11:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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China Auto Show

The goal of the plan is to have five million EVs on the roads by the end of 2020.

China is already the world’s largest manufacturer of electric bicycles and electric tricycles, but no less than 13 automobile manufacturers in China offered 18 different models of electric automobiles in 2013.

Two years ago, on June 28, 2012 the China State Council passed the New Energy Automobile Industry Development Plan for 2012 to 2020. The goal of the plan? To have 500,000 electric vehicles on the road by the end of 2015 and five-million electric vehicles on the roads by the end of 2020. Yet in 2013, Chinese automobile manufacturers sold just 6,900 highway-speed electric passenger automobiles and 1,247 plug-in hybrid automobiles. (We’ve got detailed lists available below). This number doesn’t include electric buses, which will play a big role in electric vehicle growth in China, but if sales numbers for passenger automobiles continue in this manner, China’s 2015 half-million EV goal will be very difficult to achieve. For eight-and-a-half months during 2013, there were no national subsidies to promote electric vehicle sales in China, so on some level, China’s 2013 sales are not that bad, considering. On September 13, 2013 China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MII) announced substantial government subsidies to spur the sales of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles in China. The new government subsidies are based on vehicle range and are only available to domestic automobile brands.

  • EV Range over 250 kilometers CN¥60,000 ($9,456 US)
  • EV Range between 150 km and 250 km CN¥50,000 ($8,130)
  • EV Range between 80 km and 150 km CN¥35,000 ($5,691)
  • PHEV Range over 50 km CN¥35,000 ($5,691)

China is one of the few countries in the world which continues to rely on central government planning to regulate industrial growth, and promotions of government officials are directly tied to performance based on those plans. According to the MII’s announcement, major cities should implement policies to put 10,000 electric vehicles on the road by the end 2015, while other cities in the program should put more than 5,000 EVs on the road. By the end of 2013, forty cities had signed up for this program. Promotion opportunities for government officials who miss these targets will be very limited.

Continue reading China only sold 7,000 electric automobiles in 2013

China only sold 7,000 electric automobiles in 2013 originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Fri, 27 Jun 2014 10:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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BMW M235i

Good news just keeps coming for BMW, as Consumer Reports has just handed out a stunner of a verdict – the M235i, a spritely, 320-horsepower coupe that starts at just $43,100 has bested the likes of the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and Porsche 911, vehicles that can easily cost twice as much and come to battle with considerably more power.

CR awarded the spiritual successor to the 1 Series M Coupe a score of 98 out of 100, beating out the 911 and the Stingray by three and six points, respectively. In fact, the M235i is remarkably close to the Tesla Model S’ 99, making it one of the highest scores CR has ever handed out. It’s also, not surprisingly, the highest-rated BMW ever.

Of the M235i’s many attributes, Consumer Reports cited the car’s performance potential as well as its quiet ride and comfort for front-seat passengers. While it’s a shock to no one, CR called out the limited space in the backseats as well as some finicky controls as this Bimmer’s biggest shortcomings.

Do you agree with Consumer Reports’ score? Have your say below in the Comments.

M235i outpoints 911, Corvette in CR testing, becomes highest-scoring BMW ever originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 27 Jun 2014 09:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Peugeot 208 GTi 30th Anniversary Edition

Though American hot hatch enthusiasts might more readily equate the letters GTI with Volkswagen, our European counterparts would equally associate them with Peugeot. In fact, it’s been 30 years since the French automaker introduced the first 205 GTi, and to celebrate that milestone, it’s released a new 30th Anniversary Edition of the latest 208 GTi.

Peugeot 208 GTI 30th Anniversary EditionFar more than a set of decals, the 208 GTi 30th Anniversary Edition packs an extra punch. Its 1.6-liter turbo four has been upgraded from 197 horsepower and 203 pound-feet of torque to a more prodigious 208 hp and 221 lb-ft. The extra muscle is channeled through the same six-speed manual and Torsen diff as the RCZ R – the two performance models having been tuned by Peugeot Sport, the racing division (once presided over, incidentally, by FIA president and former Ferrari chief Jean Todt) responsible for the Lion marque’s rally and former Le Mans programs. As a result, the 208 GTi anniversary edition is quoted at a 0-62 time of 6.5 seconds.

To go with the added performance, Peugeot has also given the celebratory hot hatch a striking two-tone livery similar to those featured on the marque’s recent concept cars: the front is done up in a matte black finish, while the back wears a glossy red. The two-tone treatment is complemented by matte black trim, red front brake calipers and an interior upgraded with red-stitched black Alcantara trim. The dropped suspension is mounted to 18-inch alloys packing upgraded Brembo brakes as well, adding up to a hot hatch that we only wish we could get our hands on Stateside. Set to be revealed at the Paris Motor Show in September, you can scope out the full details now in the press release below.

Continue reading Peugeot celebrates with 208-hp 208 GTi anniversary edition

Peugeot celebrates with 208-hp 208 GTi anniversary edition originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 27 Jun 2014 08:44:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Alfa Romeo guitar

To American enthusiasts, nothing might say rock n’ roll quite like a classic muscle car. But that doesn’t preclude the Europeans from trying. Volkswagen has partnered with Fender for its premium audio systems, and now Alfa Romeo is teaming up with some rocking powerhouses as well.

The Italian automaker is collaborating with Harrison Custom Guitar Works to create the limited-edition axe you see here. The electric guitar is designed around Alfa’s iconic grille and uses automotive materials like aluminum and carbon fiber as well as traditional guitar woods like poplar, maple, ebony and Korina. The cross-bars, pickups, tail piece and bridge are CNC-machined from aluminum billet. Only 11 examples will be made, each taking eight months to construct, and priced at £4,000 (about $6,800 at current exchange rates).

Alfa Romeo Marshall ConceptAt the same time Alfa has also created a one-off MiTo concept car together with Marshall Amplification. The hatchback packs a custom Marshall JVM 50-watt amp and a pair of 12-inch 75-watt speakers, but has also been decked out with gold-mesh trim on the grille, head- and taillight surrounds, side mirrors, door handles and lower bumper – just like a Marshall stack – while the interior has been worked over with Marshall treadplates, white piping and gold trim. The shift knob has even been replaced by a Shure SH55 microphone.

Though the collaborations look like something straight out of This Is Spinal Tap (with a touch of The Graduate thrown in for good measure), they’ll both be showcased at a special screening in London of another rock documentary: Sound City, directed by Foo Fighters frontman (and former Nirvana drummer) Dave Grohl. You can, however, check them out in the pair of image galleries and the press releases below.

Continue reading Alfa Romeo turns it up to 11 with Harrison guitars and Marshall amps

Alfa Romeo turns it up to 11 with Harrison guitars and Marshall amps originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 27 Jun 2014 07:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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