Ferrari 458 Italia Spider Confirmed

Reports out of Italy are indicating that Ferrari will eventually begin production of a convertible version of their latest model. An article on quotes Ferrari chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo as saying that the Ferrari 458 Italia Spider could hit the market in the coming years.

"[Deliveries of the 458 Italia] will begin in the second half of January," Montezemolo said. "We also plan a spider version, but not for a couple of years."

Formally shown off for the first time in Frankfurt, the Ferrari 458 Italia is the replacement for the F430. The latest machine recieves almost 570 horsepower and up to 540 Nm of torque courtesy of the 4.5-liter V8 engine. Drivers will control that power via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The car is capable of a 3.4-second 0-100 km/h sprint, and a top speed of 325 km/h (202 mph).

Pricing for the Ferrari 458 Italia is estimated at €197,000.

Ferrari 458 Italia design rendering by ASI - 640

Japanese tunere ASI is used to taking on risky projects. They have attacked many already-high priced cars, and tried to make them better. Previous cars they have modified include the Bentley Continental GT, called the ASI Tetsu GTR, and the Ferrari 430.

Company CEO Satoshi Kondo has announced that his team of engineers are hard at work on their latest project: an aerokit for the Ferrari 458 Italia. Kondo authorized the release of these sketches, well in advance of the final prototyping, in effort to prevent future accusations of design theft.

A new front end is amongst the expected design changes, featuring with a new nose, larger hexagonal air intakes, and vents in front of the blacked-out wheels. The sketches also show a new wing mounted at the back.

If the company's mods on the F430 are any indication, do not expect a retuned engine. Instead, look for the new body parts to shave weight when compared to the old parts. The ASI F430 received a 27kg weight reduction when it was introduced in June.

Avant Concept: Buick's new look at the small premium market

Need further proof that the premium car market is looking to downsize? General Motors' latest entry on its recently-launched Lab website is the Buick Avant, which the automaker developed to study the future of scaled down models for its upper-level brands.

Innovative ideas abound with the Buick Avant Concept, including doors that can both swing and slide open, a driver's seat that moves laterally to customize interior packaging, a luggage shelf that brings packages to you and a so-called micro pergola roof that can be either opaque or transparent depending on the driver's wishes.

Citroën preparing low-cost brand

Citroën is apparently going in both directions with its new range of upscale models, the DS series, and a new rumored line called "essentiele" (essential). The essential line could take the concepts in the C-Cactus model and turn it into a complete low-cost range of cars. The idea is a return to how the automaker marketed vehicles in the 1950s, when the humble 2CV and the DS were on the market at the same time. Let's not forget, too, that rival Renault's most successful product in the recent years is the entire Dacia lineup. The C-Cactus, designed to be lighter and have fewer pieces, could be lower-end in the low-carbon sense as well. The French newspaper La Tribune also mentions the possibility of hybrid versions of the cheaper Citroën line, surely borrowed from sibling marque Peugeot. The range is expected to be launched worldwide in 2012-13.

Tata to Close Jaguar or Land Rover Factory in UK by 2014

Tata Motors announced today plans to close one of two Central England Januar Land Rover facilities within the next five years. The Indian-based Tata said they will likely close either the Jaguar plant in Castle Bromwich, where 2,000 people work, or the Land Rover plant in Solihull, which houses 5,000 jobs.

The official announcement, and which facility is cut, will be announced by July 2010. The two sites are separated by about eight miles.

It was not all bad news for the two English brands. The company owns a factory in Halewood, Northwest England, which will begin expansion by 2011. That site was chosen to be the home of a diminutive SUV supposedly based on the Land Rover LRX concept, which was confirmed for production today.

2009 has been a particularly bad year for the firm. 2,500 jobs have already been cut at Jaguar Land Rover, while production has been decreased by over 100,000 units in 2009 alone.

The decision to close one of the Central England sites was to stem red ink. Jaguar Land Rover lost about $100 million (pre-tax) in the last quarter. Vehicle sales for the last quarter were down roughly 52% versus the previous year. Because of the decreased demand, the three factories are running at a combined total of less than 60% capacity.

In 2008, Tata paid $2.3 billion to Ford for Land Rover and Jaguar.

Lorinser Releases First Studio Photos of E-Class Sedan

Lorinser has released the first official images of their styling package for the Mercedes E-Class sedan (W212).

While details are limited, the package remains pretty faithful to the original design sketches and leaked photos that surfaced earlier this year. Up front, Lorinser added a sportier grille (similar to the one used on the C 63 AMG), a revised bumper, and aggressive front fenders with air vents. Out back, the E-Class features a trunk-mounted spoiler, a four tailpipe exhaust system, and a redesigned rear bumper with an integrated diffuser. Other styling touches include Lorinser wheels, extended side skirts, and a roof-mounted spoiler.

As we have previously reported, Lorinser will also offer a performance package for the E 500 sedan. Boasting special camshafts, an upgraded exhaust system and revised engine electronics, the package enables the 5.5-liter V8 engine to produce 320 kW (435 HP) and 570 Nm of torque.

Volvo applies its safety know-how to the world of EVs

Volvo is currently conducting extremely wide-ranging and thorough analysis of a variety of safety scenarios for cars with electric power. Through advanced automatic monitoring of battery status and by encapsulating the battery and protecting it effectively in a collision, the result is a comprehensive safety package of the very highest class.

Volvo imposes the same high safety standards on all its products irrespective of car type, fuel or power source. The aim ahead of the launch of any new car model is to improve safety for the vehicle's occupants. Having said that, the safety-related challenges may differ depending on the type of driveline and fuel being used.

"A holistic approach and real-life traffic conditions are always the starting-point for Volvo's safety work. Based on our massive database featuring input from actual road accidents, we know where the focus must lie in everyday traffic conditions. The solutions we have developed for our forthcoming electric cars therefore take into account the situations that are unique to this type of car," says Volvo Cars' safety expert, Thomas Broberg.

For Volvo's safety engineers, work on a new power source is not particularly dramatic. Rather, tried and tested working methods are applied in a well-oiled process to obtain the best results. At the same time, work on electrification is naturally being approached with a great deal of humility and open-mindedness. Everything from the way the cars are produced, used and serviced to the way they are recycled is analysed thoroughly and the information obtained is used to shape the development of the final production car.

Comprehensive testing under way - and there's more on the way

Volvo's safety tests take place in several different stages. First at component level, then for whole systems and finally the complete car is safety-tested. Both virtually in the computer, and physically in Volvo's technically advanced crash-test centre.

"At present we are conducting tests at component level to see how the battery is affected by harsh braking and the subsequent collision, examining the results from several different angles. We are also carrying out, for the first time, advanced crash tests in full scale to evaluate the technology in electrically powered cars," reveals Thomas Broberg.

Volvo is using its unique know-how from actual traffic conditions when carrying out detailed testing and verification. What is more, the company bases its entire test regime on the general requirements and protocols of the industry's safety institutes.

"We may well see further down the line that cars powered solely by electricity can be made even safer than cars with combustion engines. We like to see electrification technology as an exciting challenge - even from the safety viewpoint," says Thomas Broberg.

Preparation for every phase of the accident sequence

When Volvo analyses safety scenarios on the basis of actual traffic situations, the engineers use a model that illustrates the sequence of events in a real-life road accident. The whole process is divided into five phases: from the normal driving situation to after the accident has occurred. Based on these five phases, Volvo develops new safety solutions and improves existing ones.

This approach covers the entire sequence from giving the driver optimal preconditions for safe driving, for instance by providing good comfort and stability-enhancement functions, to systems that alert the driver or automatically step in to avoid a collision. And if a collision is unavoidable, Volvo's cars offer highly advanced impact protection as well as solutions that assist both the driver and the emergency rescue services after the accident has occurred.

Unique solutions for electric cars

All Volvo's existing safety systems will also be available in the company's electric cars. However, electric power also adds new possible safety scenarios to the overall picture and these too must be dealt with.

In the safety work that is currently being undertaken in the field of electrification, Volvo's safety experts have meticulously analysed the five accident sequence phases and developed unique solutions for the battery and for protection of the occupants as necessary.

1. Normal driving: A comprehensive and advanced monitoring system keeps watch and ensures that each cell maintains the correct voltage level and optimal operating temperature by regulating the cooling system. This is of significance to both safety and battery capacity. In the event of any deviation, the battery is automatically shut down as a preventive measure.
2. Conflict: The battery fitted to Volvo's plug-in hybrid weighs about 150 kg. This added weight creates new conditions for the vehicle's dynamics and alters the car's behaviour, for instance in fast avoidance manoeuvres. Volvo's existing platforms and braking systems can handle the increased mass, and Volvo's DSTC stabilisation system (Dynamic Stability and Traction Control) helps the driver contain the situation.
3. Avoidance: If a collision is imminent and the driver finds it difficult to handle the situation, the vehicle can activate automatic safety systems such as Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and City Safety to avoid or reduce the effects of an impact. These systems can be used in cars with electric power just as they can in other types of car.
4. Collision: In order to reduce the effects of a collision, the battery is well-protected in the rear of the car between the wheel housings, separated from the car's crumple zones. The battery is also sturdily encapsulated.

Through Volvo's studies of actual traffic accidents, the safety engineers know that this location helps protect the battery in rear end collisions. What is more, steel beams and other parts of the structure around the battery are reinforced to protect the battery from being affected in the case of a collision.

If the battery is damaged, resulting in gas leakage, there are special evacuation ducts that lead the gas out under the car without any contact with the occupants. In the event of extreme heat, the occupants are shielded by the battery's encapsulation.

At the very moment of impact, crash sensors linked to the battery send information about the collision to the car's computer, which automatically shuts off the power supply to prevent the risk of a short-circuit.
5. After the collision:

In addition, the battery has a security cut-out that functions like a household earth fault circuit breaker. It shuts down and isolates the battery if the current travels in the wrong direction, for instance if two cables are pressed together as a result of an accident.

Volvo also works in close cooperation with the emergency rescue services, providing them with detailed instructions on how best to handle various Volvo models in the event of an accident.

Safety in connection with servicing

The cars are equipped with a service cut-out to quickly and safely disconnect the car's power supply.

Recycling and safety

Volvo Cars and the battery manufacturers have far-reaching product responsibility as regards both production and recycling. This ensures proper handling of the battery when it comes to the end of its life in the car.

Angry Green Girl and the Bikini Car Wash - Part 3

Watch more hot footage from our hybrids-only bikini car wash!

Zenn cancels plans for high-speed EV, will focus on supplying ZENNergy Drive components

According to reports from Reuters and, Zenn Motors has canceled plans to launch its cityZENN high-speed electric car and will slow down work on its low-speed EVs. According to Zenn Chief Executive Ian Clifford, the company will focus its efforts on becoming a supplier of ZENNergy Drive electric vehicle drivetrain components, which we assume will center around the EEStor energy storage system. Why the change in plans?

Our decisions regarding cityZENN continue to evolve in response to advancements in electric vehicle deployment across the industry since we announced cityZENN a couple of years ago... Integration of ZENNergy Drive in Tier 1 and OEM product has always been our long term objective. The cityZENN program was always designed as a proof of concept for ZENNergy Drive.

According to Clifford, EEStor still plans to perform component testing in September (which at this point is nearly over), though it (surprise!) won't necessarily publish the results of its findings. The next step would be to "deliver functional technology" to Zenn by the end of 2009. We're waiting... still.

MISS TUNING Calendar 2010 Photos Revealed

A new calendar featuring Miss Tuning 2009, Martina Ivezaj, is now available. The printed edition will be limited to just 1,500 copies.

After being crowned champion of the competition held at Tuning World Bodensee, Ivezaj posed for reknowned photographer Christian Holzknecht in the British Virgin Islands

The calendar incorporates the many different facets of the British Virgin Islands, and shows both noble motives and typical Caribbean scenes and beaches," said Holzknecht.

Somehow, we don't think the readers of WCF will be looking at the photos for their landscapes.

Our favorite shot has Ivezaj in a black bikini, sitting on a King Tut Dune Buggy, while the dude in the background is staring her (and us) down. Let us know your favorite in the comment section.

Orders for the calendar can be placed at

Megane Renaultsport 250 UK Launch Announced

Renault will start selling the all-new Mégane Renaultsport 250 in the UK in November. The car is powered by a 2.0-litre twin scroll turbo engine making 184kW (250hp) at 5,500rpm and maximum torque of 340Nm made at 3,000rpm. This represents a 30Nm increase over the old Mégane R26 R. Renault says 80% of torque is available from 1,900rpm. Drive is through a 6-speed manual gearbox.

A number of new features have been installed in the Renaultsport 250. One is the Renaultsport Monitor which, through a central dashboard display, shows information such as lateral acceleration, 0 - 60mph acceleration, lap times and real-time engine performance.

The other feature is the Renaultsport Dynamic Management which controls the intensity of the Electronic Skid Control (ESC). At its most extreme the function can be totally switched off. Two chassis settings are available, the standard Sport setting which is more of an everyday setup and the stiffer Cup setting.

Styling enhancements include LED daytime running lights, an F1-inspired front bumper blade, side sills, wider wheel arches, a rear diffuser and an extended tailgate spoiler. The centrally-mounted tailpipe apparently gives out notes that can rival any comparable sports car.

Audi e-Tron to Feature on PS3 game Vertical Run

"Most young people gain their first driving experience from video games," said Kai Mensing, who is responsible for video games and virtual worlds in Online Marketing at Audi. "With the Audi Space, we can bring this target group into contact with our brand in a highly emotion-packed and interactive environment, and demonstrate our ‘Vorsprung durch Technik' with the virtual e-tron race."

With past generations of young people their first driving experience involved stealing the family car and probably crashing it somewhere. How times have changed.

Audi Space and PlayStation Home (a 3D social gaming service for the PlayStation 3 community) will give youngsters - both in age and at heart - the chance to drive the new R8 e-tron concept car at home. Drivers will compete against one another in the Vertical Run driving game where each one has to collect enough electrical energy and minimise driving errors to reach the highest possible speed.

"It was important to us to create an environment with Audi Space that differed from a classic showroom at an Audi dealership," said Mensing. "To achieve that, we got together with the architects at Allmann Sattler Wappner and developed an interactive concept where the focus is on selected Audi models, making it possible to experience the brand in a selective, interactive way."

The e-tron was unveiled at the 2009 IAA as a concept car. It is powered by four electric motors within all four wheels and has a total system output of 230kW (313hp) as well as a mammoth torque figure of 4,500Nm.

Vertical Run will be available to download for free into PS3 consoles with PlayStation Home this December.

Kia Sorento Hybrid and Cee’d Facelift Hybrid Revealed in Frankfurt

Kia took the wraps off their new Sorento and Cee'd hybrids at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

The Cee'd Hybrid uses a 1.6-liter four-cylinder petrol engine and a small electric motor that produces 15kW (20 PS) and 105 Nm of torque. The latter is powered by a "Li-Poly 180 volt, 5.3Ah power pack" located in the trunk. Boasting a CVT (continuously variable transmission) and an engine stop/start system, the Cee'd accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 11.8 seconds before hitting a top speed of 185 km/h (115 mph). While fuel efficiency data wasn't released, Kia says the Cee'd Hybrid has CO2 emissions of 96 g/km.

On the other hand, the Sorento Hybrid uses Kia's 163 PS (120 kW) U2 1.6-liter turbo-diesel engine. Connected to a 30 kW (40 PS) electric motor and a dual-clutch transmission, the engine only produces 119 grams of CO2 per kilometer.

In terms of styling, both models receive Kia's new grille, aerodynamic body kits, and painted mirror housings with integrated LED turn signals.

Look for more information to be released in the coming months.

Frankfurt 2009: Mercedes-Benz F-Cell rids the show floor of tailpipe emissions

As promised, Mercedes-Benz trotted its hydrogen fuel cell-powered F-Cell in front of the crowds at the Frankfurt Motor Show, and we were on hand to snap off a series of images. It's easy to spot the B-Class sheetmetal and underpinnings of the compact hatch, which goes to show how well the German automaker was able to integrate its space-age hydrogen drivetrain.

A 100 kW electric motor provides motive force to the front wheels, and MB claims the F-Cell will have similar performance to a 2.0 liter gas engine while returning the equivalent of 86.6 mpg on the European combined cycle. Mercedes has promised to begin leasing its new hydrogen-powered five-door hatchback in early 2010, and it's reportedly coming to America to fulfill all our zero-emission fantasies. Now, if we could just get that pesky hydrogen infrastructure problem sorted out.

Hyundai i10 Electric Unveiled in Frankfurt

Hyundai introduced an advance into alternative fuels in Frankfurt, by unveiling the Hyundai i10 Electric. The zero emissions commuter car will get a test production run domestically in Korea beginning next year.

Hyundai kept the weight of the small car to about 1,000 kilos, giving it a range of 160km on a full charge. Using an industrial 413V charger, the Lithium Ion Polymer battery can be recharged to 85 percent capacity in about 15 minutes. On a normal 200V household outlet, a full charge takes place in about five hours. By using LiPoly batteries, Hyundai engineers built a pack that is 20 per-cent smaller than a more common Lithium Ion pack.

The i10 Electric uses a 49 kW electric motor, and is powered by a 16 kWh battery. It achieves a maximum torque rating of 210 Nm at 2,670 RPM. Top speed of the Hyundai i10 Electric is 130 km/h. The car reaches 100 km/h in about 15 seconds.

Also featured on the car is a steering-by-wire system, and brakes powered by an electrical vacuum pump, helping to eliminate the need for hydraulics. An electric water pump keeps the motor and battery running cool, too.

We expect pricing for the Hyundai i10 Electric to be announced closer to its 2010 market launch. Hyundai did not state how many untis would be produced

Fiat Punto Evo at 2009 FRankfurt Motor Show

Behind this cute, yet bored looking "spokesmodel" is the Fiat Punto Evo, a reimagining of the Grande Punto. The car features a start/stop system, and a "duel-fuel methane and petrol" option amongst their range of engines. Amongst these engines are the second generation 1.3-liter Multijet diesel, and the MultiAir 1.4-liter petrol.

The Italian automaker says consumers will be greeted with up to 10% more power, and 15% more torque throughout the engine range. Efficiency has also been improved by 10%, while emissions were reduced by the same amount. The dual fuel model will have a maximum range of 1,500 kilometers, all the while expelling just 115 grams of CO2 per kilometer.

The 2010 Fiat Punto Evo gets new bumpers at the front and back, and a fully updated interior. Amongst the new features is the Blue&Me unit from TomTom. This infotainment systom incorporates a color screen, navigation, and a telephone. Other upgrades include new seats, a new instrument cluster, and better designed storage spaces.

Fiat will begin taking orders sometime next month.

Frankfurt 2009: The Fraulein of Frankfurt

Yes, that's a Lamborghini in the picture above. We think. Could be a bar stool.

As we do with every auto show, Autoblog is happy to present the one post that we're sure at least some of you have been waiting for since we touched down in Germany to cover the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. It's time to honor those women (and one dude in a furry suit) who are charged with keeping our attention focused on those vehicles they've been paid to lean against. These sirens of chrome (not our label, see here) are sometimes controversial (are the women objectified, do we need this service anymore, who does their hair?), but always a pleasure to behold. Check out the gallery below for our roundup of an admittedly smaller group of car models than years past (damn global recession!).

Lamborghini Reventon Roadster Officially Revealed

Less than 20 Lamborghini Reventón Roadsters will be built at the company's Sant'Agata Bolognese plant in Bologna. That makes it an extremely exclusive motor car with extremely exclusive performance figures.

Built mainly from carbon fibre and high-strength steel the Reventón Roadster displays good rigidity and at the same time is light enough to kick out exceptional performance. It weighs 1,690kg (3,725 lbs) or just 25kg (55 lbs) more than the Coupé.

Inspiring the car's design was the fighter jet with styling elements such as the powerful arrowhead look at the front, the scissor doors, broad side skirts and large air intakes. The headlights feature bi-xenon technology while LEDs are used for daytime running lights, indicators and the rear lights. Exterior paintwork is a special matt colour called Reventón Grey.

The dimensions are 4.7m long, 2.1m wide, 1.1m high and the wheelbase is 2.7m. Both passengers sit pretty close to the ground but fortunately the suspension can be raised by 40mm at the front to ease ingress into steeper everyday obstacles.

Providing the power is Lambo's tried and tested 6.5-litre 48-valve naturally aspirated V12 worth a massive 493kW (670hp) at a howling 8,000rpm. Its maximum torque figure is 660Nm (487 lb-ft) which is achieved at 6,000rpm. Lamborghini says it will rush away from standstill to 100km/h in 3.4 seconds and not stop accelerating until the dashboard displays 330km/h (205mph). Torque is transferred to all four wheels in varying doses thanks to the Viscous Traction permanent all-wheel drive system.

The interior is a mix of fighter jet, F1 and comfort. Instrumentation is no longer just classic analogue but is also delivered via two transreflective and one transmissive LCDs. The driver can switch between analogue and digital view at any time. Carbon fibre also makes its way into the dashboard and is fused with aluminium instruments while other materials like aluminum, Alcantara and leather are utilised as well.

Each Lamborghini Reventón Roadster will be priced at €1.1 million (US$1.6 million) - excluding tax - when it goes on sale next month.

Frankfurt 2009: all plugs and hybrids, no hydrogen

It's probable that, somewhere in the Frankfurt Messe this week, there are hydrogen-powered concept vehicles. From the headlines, though, it's clear that the world's automakers showing off their wares at the Frankfurt Motors Show are taking some time off from promoting the hydrogen fuel cell car and are putting all of their energy into the idea of a car with a plug. Even Audi, where an executive recently called electric cars "idiotic," made a big splash with their overwhelming e-tron concept. Perhaps we'll see more H2 cars when the auto show season moves back to the U.S., but for now, the lack of fuel cell concepts and the tiny scraps thrown to biofuels are really, really obvious. Just saying.

In any case, if you're headed to Frankfurt and want to print out a list of which plug-in and hybrid cars are where, you can get a PDF listing the cars from Drive Solar.

Drew Barrymore first to race Ford Focus EV on Leno's new show

Apparently, electric cars are for girls. For his new prime-time TV show, Jay Leno is going to pit celebrities against one another in his new Green Car Challenge segment and the first one in the driver's seat will be Drew Barrymore. Barrymore will get behind the wheel of a prototype Ford Focus EV this Friday. Following Barrymore's initial time trial, Leno will rope other stars into racing the sponsored Focus on a special track built outside the show's new studio once or twice a week.

For Ford, the tremendous publicity of getting celebs into their upcoming electric vehicle – which is due on the market in 2011 – is a tremendous coup. Nancy Gioia, director of hybrid vehicle programs for Ford, told USAToday that the Leno tie will go a big way in making EVs seem normal. "If (electric cars are) only seen as quirky or off the beaten path, it's really hard to get people" excited, she said.

GM's Rob Peterson sees a benefit to all automakers who are bringing an EV to market. "If we walked into the showroom in 2011 with very little lead time, some segments of the population would have a tough time understanding what these vehicles can do," he said. Instead, we'll have two years of YouTube clips of famous people saying "oh, it's so quiet" to get everyone ready.

Hyundai ix35 at 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show

Hyundai is introducing the "i" naming scheme to its SUV/ CUV segment with the new ix35 which was revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show. In all world markets except for South Korea and North America the Tucson-replacement will be known by its new name ix35.

Styling has moved away from the box-shape off-road look towards a sleeker exterior design. The car has more room and luxurious appointments than ever before. The new front grille will help define the look of future Hyundai family products. Looks are enhanced by an aggressive belt line, rear spoiler and optional 225/55 R18 wheels. Kudos to Hyundai for bringing the car so soon after its ix-onic concept form was revealed at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show.

Passengers will benefit from things like the long dual-panel panoramic sunroof with UV blocking, the USB/aux jack for music, the 3.5-inch colour LCD, Push Button start with smart-key proximity sensor and a cooled glove box.

The ix35 will be offered with a number of engines depending on the region. The two petrols are the Theta-II 2.0 rated at 120kW (163hp) and 197Nm of torque. It emits 178g/km in C02 gases. The Gamma 1.6 GDI delivers 103kW (140hp) and peak torque of 167Nm, with C02 emissions of 165g/km (4WD MT), and 158g/km (2WD MT) respectively.

Diesels come in the form of the new R 2.0 worth 135kW and (184hp) and 392Nm and a low version of 100kW (136hp) and 320Nm. The second, called the U-II 1.7 will have output of 85kW (115hp) and torque of 255Nm.

A 6-speed manual gearbox is fitted as standard while the in-house developed 6-speed automatic with Shiftronic is optional on some models. Suspension is a MacPherson strut-based system at the front while the rear uses a multi-link layout.

Hyundai will begin production at the end of the year and sales will commence in certain markets during the first quarter of 2010.

Hyundai ix-Metro Concept at 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show

Hyundai lifted the curtain on their latest creation, the Hyundai ix-Metro concept, at the Frankfurt Motor Show earlier today. The car has suicide doors on both sides, to make it easier for passengers to get in and out of the small, urban car.

If you think the interior looks a bit space-age, then Hyundai accomplished their goal. The cabin is modeled after the "protective capsule" concept, incorporating the console, dash, doors, and seats. “For thematic inspiration interior designers took a cue from the humble pine cone and its natural, elegant fragmentation of a spherical object,” Interior Design Manager Sandy Hartono said in a press release. Hyundai was a tad unoriginal in using pale blue mood lighting inside. This color choice also makes it on to the OEL information display in the center. Sideview mirrors are replaced with cameras, but we could not figure out where the cameras' images are projected..

The exterior of the vehicle was meant to be inspired by the American space program, and classic sci-fi movies. Designed in white and black, the vehicle is meant to look like a spacecraft. Unfortunately, it looks a bit more on the obnoxious side. Still, the use of triangular lines is interesting, and worthy of future use in a redux.

With no b-pillars, visibility is improved. Engineers designed the car's ground clearance, and the driver's seating position, to further decrease blindspots. Stability control, anti-lock brakes, and four airbags would all be standard safety features on the vehicle.

Hyundai's study uses a 1.0-liter GDI turbocharged engine, paired to a six-speed dual clutch transmission, that produces 123 horsepower. Weighing in at a scant 950kg the vehicle manages an impressive 3.3-liters of fuel consumption per 100 kilometers. This also helps the car's cleanliness: the vehicle puts out 80 grams of CO2 per kilometer.

The Hyundai ix-Metro concept will be on the Hyundai stage for the duration of the Frankfurt show.

Wiesmann Roadster MF5 Revealed

Wiesmann has officially taken the wraps off their exclusive MF5 Roadster.

While details are limited, the retro-inspired drop top features a white and red paint scheme, an "old-school" convertible roof, and an extendable rear wing.

Packing BMW's 5.0-liter V10 engine, which produces 507 hp and 520 Nm of torque, the MF5 Roadster accelerates from 0-100km/h in 3.9 seconds. If you keep your foot planted, you'll eventually top out at 310 km/h (193 mph).

Production will be limited to 55 units, and prices start at €189,500 ($278,108 USD).

In other news, Wiesmann will build a GT MF4 coupe at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The car will be completed on the last day of the show (September 27th),

Automotive Industry Affected By Asbestos Exposure

The health risks associated with working in the automotive industry were emphasized by a recent asbestos-related case in the United Kingdom. This case follows a previous suit involving Kelvin Parker, a former installer of insulation and suspended ceilings at the Longbridge manufacturing plant.

Parker, 54, was first diagnosed with mesothelioma in August 2007 and passed away on November 19, 2008. His family pursued legal action against the company responsible for his asbestos exposure.

Asbestos exposure is the primary cause of mesothelioma, a rare cancer that typically develops in the lining of the lungs, heart or abdomen. In most cases, the victims are unaware of their condition until symptoms occur and the cancer has already reached the latest stages of development, leaving the patient with a poor prognosis.
The latest asbestos case involves another man who was a former employee at the Longbridge site in Birmingham, England during the early 1960s.

This employee is seeking damages for developing malignant mesothelioma and is looking for witnesses who may have worked at the site around the same time. The man’s lawyer said, “We have got a client who was exposed to asbestos dust and we are looking for witnesses. But this issue isn’t one that’s particular to one person. There could be hundreds of other people who are at risk.”

Asbestos has been utilized for decades by the automotive industry in products like brake pads and linings, clutch facings, valves and gaskets. Vehicles manufactured today are still built with asbestos brakes and clutches, just in smaller quantities than older parts.

Microscopic asbestos fibers that have been disturbed have the potential to stay in the air for a long period of time. The long duration of airborne asbestos fibers not only creates an immediate hazard, but increases the danger of workers inhaling the toxic particles even several days afterward.

Automotive mechanics are one of the main occupations still affected by asbestos exposure. Working on cars that contain older parts creates a constant risk and protective gear is rarely worn to prevent exposure.

Volkswagen 1-liter concept, 158 mpg (U.S.) tandem 2-seater

Ono of the numerous cars that will shown by Volkswagen this week at the Frankfurt Motor Show is the latest edition of the 1-liter concept. The name represents the amount of fuel it takes the vehicle to travel 100 km (62 miles) and nominally equates to 235 mpg. In this case, based on the translation of a Bild am Sonntag article, it appears that VW might be taking some liberties with the name since it seems like it takes 1.49 liters / 100 km or a mere 157.8 mpg (U.S.). For all practical purposes, the difference is largely inconsequential anyway since so little fuel is used at these lofty levels.

The original 1-liter concept appeared in 2002 and was enormously expensive since it was largely made of one-off unobtanium. This time around, VW used more conventional components and materials to create the tandem two-seater. A 36 hp two-cylinder diesel provides propulsion along with some indeterminate degree of hybridization through a 7-speed DSG gearbox. Weight is cut to about 1,100 pounds through extensive use of carbon fiber composites and the tandem layout helps cut frontal area to a minimum, reducing drag. In the past, VW has said it would like to have a 1-liter car in production by 2010, but we don't know the current status of those plans yet.

Breaking News -Daimler and Renault collaborating on four-door Smart

collaboration between Daimler and Renault on a new four-door model to join the Fortwo in Smart dealerships just won't die, leading us to believe there may be a ring of truth behind the rumors. The last time Daimler set out to partner up on a more mainstream Smart, the resulting Forfour – which was based on borrowed underpinnings from Mitsubishi – never met sales expectations and was canceled after a few short years on the market.

Collaborating with Renault on the development of a four-door Smart should help shield Daimler from the high cost of developing a model-specific platform that's unlikely to sell in particularly high volumes. Further, the rumored new model would offer Smart buyers a new option to compete with the new Toyota iQ, which seats up to four occupants despite its diminutive dimensions

Teaser video shows glimpse of upcoming MINI ad campaign

The folks over at MINI are sure working hard to generate publicity for the brand given the big show coming up in Frankurt next week.

This video here has been provided to WCF as a teaser of things to come. It is part of what is called the Two Untamed series. The video shows a woman staring herself down in the mirror when suddenly the reflection breaks through the glass and...well, the two of them become untamed.

A MINI representative said there will be two more such teaser videos release over the next couple of days. "The premiere video," the representative said, will make its debut on the first press day at the Frankfurt motor show on September 15th.

Clearly the video is a representation of the new MINI Roadster and Coupe Concepts said to be debuting at the show

MW Design Press Release

The specialists from MW Design have released a new upgrade package for the Aston Martin V8 Vantage called Helvellyn Frost. The MW Design Aston Martin V8 Vantage Helvellyn Frost comes with both an extensive visual package, plus a power increase kit. The 380 hp of the standard car have been increased in the MW Design Aston Martin V8 Vantage Helvellyn Frost to 445hp with the help of a race exhaust system, high flow 200 cell catalysts and an ECU upgrade.

The MW Design Aston Martin V8 Vantage Helvellyn Frost comes in a special frozen matte white paint finish done by GPFX and features discreet RSC aerodynamics carbon body parts, an H&R suspension and 20 inch rims.

The MW Design Aston Martin V8 Vantage Helvellyn Frost price has not been announced yet

Indian electric car company Reva Lunching Two new cars at Frankfurt Auto show 2009

At midday on Wednesday 16th September 2009 Reva Electric Car Company (REVA) will be unveiling two new M1 classified electric cars at the 63rd Frankfurt International Motor Show (IAA). REVA is launching two new models of its eclectic car, one is a sporty 2 seat 2 door car and other is a 4 seater 2 door family cars. These cars have been designed by famous Indian designer Dilip Chhabria. REVA will unveil these cars at Frankfurt International Motor Show.


REVA NXG is a two seater two door sporty looking car with top speed of 130 KMPH. It will run 200 KMs on one full charge of battery. I hope that by its production in 2011, the battery technology will improve and increase this range to more than 200 KMs. So buckle up for a new electric to dazzle the Indian road with a smart and sporty look in an eco-friendly and pocket-friendly manner.


This is a a 4 seater 2 door car, which will run 160 miles on single charge. The top speed will be 104 KMPH. The car can be booked right after its launch at Frankfurt. It will start rolling on roads from early 2010. The car will have lithium ion battery. But sad news is that the Indian version of this car will have lead acid battery which will have only 80 KMs range on full charge and top speed of 80 KMPH, and undoubtedly the reason for this must be high cost of lithium – ion batteries which makes them unfit for price sensitive markets like India. But I strongly believe that the with mass production and advanced technologies, soon the lithium ion batters will become cheaper and fit for Indian consumers’ pockets.
Both new models will be manufactured at REVA's new green manufacturing plant in Bangalore. The plants use solar power, rain water harvesting, and other eco-friendly methods to reduce the carbon foot-prints.

Caractere Audi Q7 facelift styling package

Belgium-based Volkswagen/ Audi specialist tuner Caractere has released some details regarding the body kit fitted to the facelift Audi Q7. According to the company most of the old vehicle's kit, apart from the front grille, can be used in the new SUV.

Components making up the exterior include the complete front bumper with original fog lights. It is compatible with all the cars whether they come equipped with Park Distance Control or not. The same goes if Adaptive Cruise Control was installed. It even works with the original headlight washers.

Customers who choose the 10-piece set of wheel arch extensions can only have it in conjunction with the Caractère front bumper. Two choices are offered for wheel sizes; a 20-inch and a 22-inch package. The rear features a spoiler with left and right tips to accommodate cars with or without a tow bar.

Caractère assures that the body kit is not affected by the S-Line exterior package and that it is TÜV certified. It will be available from the end of September.

Audi of America president calls Chevy Volt "a car for idiots," slams electric vehicles

I’ve come to know Audi of America President Johan de Nysschen as a passionate advocate of fuel-sipping diesel engines. That passion was on full display when I sat with de Nysschen at a media dinner in Carneros, Calif. (after test drives of three new Audi models), during which he sharply criticized electric vehicles -- including GM’s Chevy Volt.

He dismissed GM’s upcoming plug-in hybrid as “a car for idiots,” saying that few consumers will be willing to pay $40,000 -- the Volt’s estimated base price -- for a car that competes against $25,000 sedans and conventional hybrids. Nor, he noted, is the Volt a luxury car whose green-technology costs will be excused because it also delivers prestige or performance.

“No one is going to pay a $15,000 premium for a car that competes with a (Toyota) Corolla,” he said. “So there are not enough idiots who will buy it.”

He did add that plug-in hybrids are good in concept and hold advantages over diesels in stop-and-go driving. But for the moment, de Nysschen noted, electric vehicles (EVs) are more about making a statement.

“They’re for the intellectual elite who want to show what enlightened souls they are,” he said.

De Nysschen expressed frustration with regulators and policymakers, saying the public has been hoodwinked into believing that EVs are the only answer to global warming. The U.S. government, he said, is pouring billions of dollars into EV technology, yet diesel technology could deliver a more immediate and dramatic decrease in global-warming emissions. And the man knows of what he speaks: Modern diesels already power half of Audi’s cars in Europe and have helped Audi dominate recent runnings of the 24 Hours of LeMans. Diesels have been shown to emit 25 percent less carbon dioxide than gasoline engines, while using 25 to 35 percent less fuel.

Mass electrification of cars, he argued, would result in a net increase in carbon dioxide emissions, because so much of America’s electrical grid relies on dirty coal for its energy. Cleaning up the nation’s power grid is the real priority, he said, and only then can EVs make environmental sense.

The Audi of America president ended with a bold prediction: The Volt will fall flat. And the federal government, having publicly forced GM to develop electric cars, will subsidize the Volt to save face and boost sales.

Whether that comes to pass or not, expect de Nysschen to continue to lobby Washington to ensure that diesels get their fair share of federal support.

Audi sets price on 2010 A3 TDI at $29,950*

Audi today announced pricing for the 2010 A3 TDI, its second U.S. clean diesel offering launched this a year. Expected to begin arriving at U.S. dealers in late November 2009, the 50-state certified A3 TDI delivers the highest highway fuel economy in the luxury car category – 42 mpg, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates.

Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price (excluding $825 destination charge, taxes, title, options, and dealer charges):
A3 TDI clean diesel with S tronic front wheel drive $29,950

Audi launched its first TDI clean diesel model, the Q7 TDI, earlier this year. The Audi Q7 TDI built awareness with American luxury car consumers that modern clean diesel technology is markedly improved in emissions, quietness, ride comfort and overall performance. Both the A3 TDI and Q7 TDI clean diesel vehicles share several common attributes that include 50-state clean diesel technology, 30% better fuel economy and a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas than gasoline engines of comparable size.

In fact, the EPA calculated that if only one-third of the vehicles on American roads ran on clean diesel, the U.S. would use 1.5 million fewer barrels of oil each day. Audi was the first German car manufacturer to combine turbocharging with diesel engine technology in 1989, and has continued to evolve its technology ever since. Audi Sport has helped prepare the way for TDI clean diesel in the United States by racing the R10 TDI sports car from 2006-2008 in the American Le Mans Series and sweeping the major endurance races at the 12 Hours of Sebring (Sebring, Fla.) and the 10-hour Petit Le Mans (Atlanta, Ga.). In addition, the R10 TDI won all three 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance races in which it competed from 2006-2008. The R15 TDI continued the TDI clean diesel performance tradition by winning the 12 Hours of Sebring endurance race in March 2009.

The Audi A3 TDI offers the same sophistication, styling, operating efficiency and ride comfort that has distinguished Audi throughout its model range. Standard amenities include lighted vanity mirrors for drivers and front passengers within the sun visors, leather seating surfaces, cargo nets behind front seats, spit folding 40/60 rear seats, rear seat arm rest with dual cup holders. Distinctive options include Audi Navigation plus with RDS traffic, Bluetooth® hands-free phone preparation, Audi music interface (integration for iPod® and related technology), BOSE® premium sound, the Titanium package with dark grey wheels and black grille, leather/alcantara seating, wood trim, rain/light sensors, auto-dimming exterior and interior rear-view mirror with integrated compass, and LED daytime running lights.

The pulling power of torque is the signature performance feature in all diesel models, and the A3 TDI clean diesel is no different. Offering 140 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque, this model performs briskly and efficiently with unmatched performance with its EPA-estimated 30/42 city/highway fuel efficiency.

The competitive set for the A3 TDI clean diesel is unique. Only one competitor is currently playing in the field of fuel-efficient compact luxury vehicles, but does not offer the driving experience or the 5-door flexibility that includes 40/60 split rear-folding seats. The Lexus HS 250h offers similar combined fuel economy with hybrid technology, but not superlative highway mileage range. The A3 TDI offers more superlatives in value, including a standard S line exterior sport appearance for 2010, a tighter steering turning circle, a top speed of 130 mph, as well as a 12-year limited warranty against corrosion.

The Audi approach toward efficiency is not only catered toward TDI clean diesel vehicles. Audi is also the first car company in the United States to equip 100% of its gasoline engines with FSI direct injection technology beginning with model year 2010. Audi began racing with FSI direct injection technology in 2000 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and American Le Mans Series with the R8 FSI prototype racing sports car. Once this technology first became available for U.S. Audi customers in late 2004 with the introduction of the 2005 A6 3.2 FSI quattro, the list of Audi vehicles sold in the U.S. with FSI direct injection technology has continued to grow.

Voices of Mercedes' LINGUATRONIC voice-operated control system

Mercedes has decided to give us an in-depth look at their new "LINGUATRONIC" voice-operated control system.

The product of over 20 years of development, the LINGUATRONIC system allows users to access common navigation functions by speaking normally (example: Stuttgart, Epplestraße or Fort Street, Detroit, Michigan) instead of having to say the town and street separately. Upon hearing this information, the system will automatically start route guidance regardless if a street number is given.

According to Mercedes, the navigation system has been programmed to recognize around 80,000 towns and 470,000 street names in Germany. This impressive database was constructed by having over a dozen Europeans record various words, phrases, numerical sequences and names. Individuals who lent their speaking expertise include Gabriele Libbach (actress in "CSI New York"), Fátima de Oliveira Baptista (former Portuguese TV host), and Jette Sieversten (a Shakespearean actress).

Besides its usefulness in accepting navigation commands, the LINGUATRONIC system also allows users to access telephone and audio functions in Danish, German, English, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Turkish, Russian, US-English, Japanese and Chinese.

VW BlueMotion Polo, Golf and Passat Production Versions at Frankfurt auto show 2009

Volkswagen has announced the production versions of the Polo, Golf and Passat BlueMotions will debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

While the BlueMotion Polo and Golf were already shown at the Geneva Motor Show, this is the first time they will be seen in full production form. On the other hand, the Passat BlueMotion has been updated to achieve improved fuel efficiency.

The Polo BlueMotion features a new 1.2-liter TDI diesel engine that produces 75 PS (55 kW). The engine consumes just 3.3 liters/100km (71.3 mpg), while emitting 87 grams of CO2 per km. Compared to the 75 PS Polo TDI, CO2 emissions are reduced 20% while fuel consumption improves by 0.9 liters/100 km.

VW's Golf BlueMotion is powered by a new TDI engine with an output of 105 PS (77 kW) and 250 Nm of torque. Fuel efficiency is rated at 3.8 liters/100km (61.9 mpg), while CO2 emissions come in at 99 g/km. As you may expect, the Golf BlueMotion is a bit of a slow poke as 0-100 km/h takes 11.3 seconds. If you have enough patience (and a strong tail wind), you may even be able to reach the Golf's top speed of 190 km/h (118 mph).

Last but not least, Volkswagen has updated the Passat BlueMotion with the Golf BM's 105 PS (77 kW) engine. Compared to the previous Passat BlueMotion, fuel efficiency improves to 4.4 liters/100km (better by 0.5 liters/100km) while emissions fall to 114 g/km. Performance is virtually nonexistent as the "sprint" from 0-100 km/h takes 12.5 seconds and top speed is 193 km/h (120 mph).

All of the BlueMotions feature regenerative braking, a Start/Stop system, improved aerodynamics, and lightweight wheels outfitted with low rolling resistance tires.

Look for VW's new range of BlueMotion vehicles to go on sale this fall.

Toyota Auris HSD Full Hybrid Concept - Set for Frankfurt World Premiere

Toyota is set to debut the Auris HSD Full Hybrid Concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show in two weeks. The hybrid concept represents Toyota's first deployment of their full hybrid technology in a mainstream high volume model. Full hybrid technology is decribed as an engine that can run on only the combustion engine, only the electric motor/batteries, or a combination of both. Toyota states that this is first step in rolling out Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD) across the company's model range. More details to be released at the Frankfurt unveiling.

Also joining the Auris concept are the Prius Plug-in Hybrid Concept, all-new Land Cruiser European premiere, iQ for Sports and iQ Collection. The Land Cruiser goes on sale in the 4th quarter of 2009 while the iQ cars demonstrate personalization possibilities.

2010 Prius posts 45% sales increase last month over previous year

not quite as high as last month's 48-percent sales increase over the previous year, we're sure Toyota is plenty happy to see the 45.7-percent bump in August sales over the same month in 2008.

For those that like seeing actual number in black and white, Toyota sold 19,173 Prius hybrids here in the States in July and another 18,866 in August. It seems highly likely that Cash for Clunkers helped those figures a bit for both months, and the Toyota brand in total saw a sales increase of about 15 percent last month over the previous August.

We know that production of the 2010 Prius is capped by the availability of nickel metal hydride battery packs. Plus, Cash for Clunkers came to an inglorious conclusion before the month of September got started, so we are curious to see what Prius sales figures will look like for the rest of the year. Stay tuned.

Impressively presented Alfa Romeo MiTo Jeans for charity

Alfa Romeo is definitely trying to play to its strengths as a stylish Italian brand.

It now has a pair of jeans to compliment the MiTo model.

The project came about when Alfa Romeo teamed up with fashion expert Louise Roe to create a line of women's jeans based on the concept of the MiTo and its DNA button feature which allows drivers to choose from 3 different drive settings on the car - Dynamic, Normal and All Weather.

The contract then went to Bjork and McElligott, a London fashion house, who designed a pair of jeans with Alfa Romeo red-thread stitching and a waistband made out of top quality leather. The jeans also feature embroidering on the rear pockets. The serpent of the Alfa brand's badge stitched onto the right pocket with the fashion house's own emblem on the left.

The slim-fit jeans are available for purchase at They cost £75 per pair (85 euros) with all proceeds going to Jeans for Genes, a charity for children with genetic disorders.

Hamann Tycoon EVO Based on BMW X6 Revealed - Public Debut in Frankfurt

Way back in January tuner HAMANN unveiled a new TYCOON wide body kit for the BMW X6. For the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show the company will showcase the latest version of this model called the TYCOON EVO. Visual differences with its predecessor include new front wings, LED daytime running lights and side skirts that widen the body by 60mm.

The rear is dominated by the new sporty exhaust system with its centre double tailpipes. HAMANN promises that its sound is particularly throaty for exceptional aural pleasantries. In its vicinity are back wing extensions and a roof spoiler. Fitted to keep it on tar are special ultra-forged and polished 23-inch wheels wearing 315/25 R 23 size rubber.

No HAMANN car is complete without the engineers delving deep under the belly to unearth something more potent than what the factory offers. At the bottom of the petrol range is the xDrive35i which normally has a healthy 225kW (306hp) and 400Nm. This has been increased to 265kW (360hp) and 540Nm respectively. As such, the speed limit increases to 275km/h (171mph).

The diesel derived from the xDrive30d which usually has 173kW (235hp) and 520Nm, now has 195kW (265hp) and a flying 600Nm of torque. The second diesel motor from the xDrive35d has had its power and torque increased to 235kW (320hp) and torque to 660Nm from an early 2,000rpm.

At the top end is the xDrive50i-based V8 which has been convinced to churn out 368kW (500hp) at 5,600rpm and 700Nm of torque. It will almost hit 300km/h (186mph) if left unchecked.

HAMANN will kit out the interior with such things as a three-spoke steering wheel, aluminum foot pedals and lots of carbon fibre pieces

Electric car plans highlighted at annual Green Power Forum

The Government’s plan to have 10% of cars electric by 2020 would be justified only if it was accompanied by renewable sources of electricity, such as wind.

That was the message to delegates attending the annual Green Power Forum, organised by the Irish Motoring Writers Association (IMWA) and sponsored by Semperit Tyres.

An audience of nearly 150 from the motoring, environmental and energy sectors came together at UCD’s Global Irish Institute to hear a panel discussion of the availability and desirability of electric cars in Ireland.

Senan McGrath, Sustainability Manager, ESB, explained how over 1000 public charging stations would be installed here by the end of 2011, delivering an 80% charge in 30 minutes.

Claiming that electric powered vehicles use 75% more energy than equivalent diesels in real-life conditions, Paul Withrington, Director, Transport Watch UK, concluded that the electric car is a no.

“Short of power cells on car roofs, it appears far better to invest in improving the efficiency of the internal combustion engine, which has the potential to reduce its fuel consumption by perhaps 25%,” he said.

Mr Withrington added that claims the ESB would be carbon neutral by 2035 seemed optimistic, given only 10% of current electricity is from renewable sources.

Delegates also heard that likely subsidies across Europe for EVs varied greatly, with an average of ca. €6,000, rising to up to €13,000 in Denmark.

IMWA Chairman Michael Moroney welcomed the Forum as an opportunity for informed debate on the many technical issues related to the use of the electric car in Ireland.

“Our primary emphasis is on what’s achievable in terms of an electric vehicle network, or if this is the correct direction to be taking for a small island nation such as our own.”

Paddy Murphy of Semperit Tyres, emphasized the increasing importance of tyres in a world of electric cars, where lower rolling resistance through leaner tyres and special compounds can contribute to maximise range.

“Energy conservation also requires proper tyre maintenance. Up to 25% of tyres on our roads are under-inflated. That increases rolling resistance, and will impact significantly on the range of an electric car,” he added.

The event was chaired by RTE’s Rodney Rice. Cars from Mitsubishi, GreenAer, and Green Machines were available at the event for test driving.

Korean electric car gets a charge - an induction charge - from the road

The Korea Advanced Institute of Technology (KAIST) has developed a revolutionary electric vehicle that neatly side-steps the looming political/economic issue of scarcity of advanced battery materials, as well as the practical limitations imposed by battery weight and life, by dispensing with batteries altogether! The OLEV (On Line Electric Vehicle) draws power from cables buried in the road-bed, differing from existing electric train and bus technology in that the power is transfered by magnetic induction without physical contact of any kind. KAIST claims to achieve 80% efficiency of power-transfer across a 1cm gap, and 60% efficiency across a 12cm gap!

The institute, which is Korea’s foremost technological University and operates with a government mandate to pursue economically strategic R&D projects, has now established a commercial off-shoot to promote and exploit this technology. According to the University, "online electric vehicle co., ltd., will undertake business activities related to the OLEV project, including the ipr on power supply and pick-up devices, parts and accessories and commercial promotion.

Strong powerful Audi R8 coming at Frankfurt auto show 2009

We've been hearing internet chatter that Audi might have something electric up its sleeves for the Frankfurt Motor Show later this month, and the German automaker has just thrown a bunch of fuel on those flames in the form of a new micro-site called
R8 also seems to go along with the overall theme of the site, which focuses in on the power made possible by electric drivetrains