Ratan Tata again confirms hybrid Tata Nano



Once again, Tata chairman Ratan Tata has confirmed via the South Korean Maeil Business Newspaper that his company intends to launch a hybrid version of the Nano. While it's impossible to know for sure, we'd imagine that starting off with the World's Least Expensive Automobile may very well equal the World's Least Expensive Hybrid.

We're also unsure what kind of hybrid system Tata is developing – we wouldn't expect to see a full hybrid system with an electric motor and battery pack large enough to power the vehicle for long periods of time, but we'd still hope for something more substantial than a simple stop/start micro system.

Previous reports indicate that a diesel engine is also in the works for the Nano, and we have high hopes that the inexpensive machine will make its way in somewhat modified form to the United States. Even with its current drivetrain, the gas-powered Nano delivers well over 50 U.S. miles per gallon, which would surely make for a welcome option here in America.

The truth about disadvantages of electric cars



It would be too clean, too greedy, too expensive ... The electric car does have a future? The five key points of debate. And if the electric car pollution as much as the petrol car? A priori, a car with no muffler and emits no gas is necessarily environmentally friendly! Not so simple. "It does have an exhaust pipe, said Celine Mesquida, head of transport France Nature Environnement. The power plant. "Indeed, as we must produce the current, the electric car pollutes like a powerhouse. The current must then be transported and stored in a battery, causing the loss, and thus further pollution. Thus, according to ADEME (Agency for Environment and Energy Management), the electric car requires 62% more energy than a car for the same thermal performance. Result, says Action for the environment, "said the electric vehicle" zero emissions "is a figment of the imagination. We can lend advantages such as reducing the noise or harmful emissions in urban areas but suggest that these vehicles are climate-neutral and would be the ultimate technological solution is the intellectual dishonesty ". Should we bury the electric car in the cemetery of seemingly good ideas? No. For the question of ecological balance is more complex than it seems. It is light-account several parameters: the source of electricity, how to recharge the vehicle, type of battery used ... Here are five key points.

Electric or petrol is the same CO2 emission

FALSE well-to-wheel, as experts say, what is the carbon footprint of the electric car?
This is the origin of the power that determines the volume of C02 emissions. If it comes from a hydroelectric dam or wind, nothing to say. But if it comes from coal, is another matter! "In China, the electric car is a car with coal, summarizes Coroller Patrick, head of transport and mobility ADEME. It pollutes more than diesel, "In Europe and the United States, the situation is different: the coal plants are part of the energy mix but they are not the majority, so the C02 balance is undoubtedly positive. WWF recognizes that such "in Europe and the United States electric vehicles emit significantly less CO2 than conventional vehicles. Same story at Greenpeace International: "To reduce CO2 emissions in the transportation, electric vehicles are the best." These words differ markedly from those of the French organizations named above. The reason? In France, electricity does not emit C02, but is predominantly nuclear (see chart cons). Hence the reluctance of environmental organizations to support the electric vehicle. The balance is however clear: "For us, an electric vehicle emits ten times less CO2 than a gasoline car," says Patrick Coroller.


The batteries can be recharged anytime


FALSE "If everyone recharge to 19 hours once returned home to I'heure extreme peak power consumption is a nightmare scenario for CO2," insists Yannick Vicaire, to act environment. The explanation of Patrick Coroller of ADEME: "Zion burden hours depicted, electricity suppliers must rely on coal-fired or gas." The solution is to have a "pricing system that encourages load to peak during the night. " But who will charge between midnight and 7 o'clock in the morning? "B is enough to have a computerized management burden, says Patrick Coroller. You go home, you plug your car and the computer feeds you when we pass the peak. "Assuming that the vehicles would routinely recharged at peak hours is the best argument against the electric car! His supporters themselves, advance figures studied French, Swedish and Swiss where electricity is décarbonée (hydro, nuclear).


The batteries are polluting


TRUE manufacture of batteries generates significant pollution. Especially since they have a lifetime quite short and it must change several times during the life of a car. "The CO2 emissions associated with the manufacture of a vehicle thermal represent roughly 15% of emissions from the use of the vehicle throughout its useful life, ie C0 $ which leaves the pot of exhaust, "said Philippe Pinchon, Director-energy engines of the French Institute of Petroleum.
This pollution double in the case of electric vehicles, if we take into account the change batteries regularly. No need to add the losses from the battery itself. Who has not been annoyed to see that his mobile phone was left on for one week at time of purchase, does more than a few hours a year later! "Yes, admits Jerome Perrin, director of advanced projects and C02 environment at Renault. But this is not the same. There is no purpose "memory" we meet with the mobile phone. We know fire 80% of the capacity of a car battery and it continues to grow. "


There is not enough power for 100% Electric Park

FALSE Already, it is illusory to believe that the French fleet will be converted to all-electric with a magic wand! At best, according to a study by ADEME, France can expect 1 million electric vehicles by 2020, about 3% of the fleet. As for the electrical capacity, it would be quite sufficient: one that will be available on that date will feed 4 million vehicles are recharged between midnight and 7 am, the study said. Moreover, if Europe keeps its goals of reduced consumption and use of renewable electricity, it should theoretically have sufficient power and less carbon than today.

The electric car is too expensive

TRUE Needless to veil the face: it costs almost twice the price of a car heat. Main reason: the drums strike on budget! "It costs 12 000 euros, said Max Blanchet, a partner at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, a specialist in automotive industry. Hopefully the price will fall by half by 2020. But the driver caught up on maintenance and consumption. If we calculate the total price of an electric vehicle over its lifetime, it is up to 5% over a conventional vehicle. "Specifically, for 100 miles in urban use, a small car costs about 10 30 euro fuel as calculated by Max Blanchet, against € 2.03 in electricity. The gain is very clear that if the user rolls sufficiently to offset the price of the battery. But do not expect miracles from a car whose autonomy is limited to 100 kilometers per day!
And yet today there is no TIPP (domestic tax on petroleum products) on the electrical. If the State applied, the cost advantage of killowatt hour drop accordingly. Result, according to Max Blanchet: the electric car is good ecologically, but it is a niche representing 40,000 vehicles per year maximum.

Tata Motors may Launch Electric Version in india 2011



A Tata Motors’ Tuesday announcement, which marks the automaker’s interest in launching an eco-friendly vehicle for the domestic market, specified that the company might launch Indica’s electric version in India by early 2011.
With the electric Indica being developed by the company in team up with Norway-based Miljøbil Grenland/Innovasjon, in which Tata Motors is a 50.3 percent stakeholder, the company’s Managing Director of India Operations, Prakash M Telang, said: “The electric Indica, which was unveiled at the auto expo last year, will be available for launch in the country simultaneously with its global unveiling in 2011.”
However, noting that Tata Motors will initiate a feasibility study pertaining to the vehicle once it has been readied for launch, Telang added that the electric Indica “will be launched in Norway, Denmark and the UK in 12-14 months. We’re evaluating the option of an Indian launch, but are still not sure if the electric vehicles (EVs) are the best option for the country.”
Commenting on the key issue associated with electric vehicles, Telang said that the cost of these vehicles is rather high – almost 70-150 percent higher than other vehicles - because of the expensive batteries used.
As such, Telang further added that the company will bear the ‘cost equation’ in mind while launching the electric Indica in the ‘price sensitive’ domestic market.

Jag Land Rover's 'green attack'



Jaguar Land Rover must "attack emissions like never before" if it is to be a sustainable business, according to owner Tata Motors's vice chairman Ravi Kant.

Speaking at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders International Automotive Summit, which was attnded by business secretary Lord Mandelson, Kant highlighted the collapse of Detroit's car industry, and warned that the same could happen in Birmingham or Liverpool if car makers don't adapt.

Mandelson backs low-carbon tech

"We must accept both the rigours of the changing global economy and the challenges of a changing global society," said Kant.

"That is why in JLR we are in the midst of a major transformation plan to withstand future shocks and to create a sustainable business. That is why the new product plan laid down by JLR will attack emissions like never before.

"Jaguar has a new line-up that is transforming the brand. The new XJ is not only a beautiful and highly desirable product; it is also one of the most fuel efficient luxury cars on sale in the world.

"The Land Rover range has also been refreshed and we recently announced that a new smaller Range Rover will soon join the family. It will be the most environmentally friendly Land Rover ever.

"The company is moving towards lighter vehicle architectures for both brands and fuel efficiency will be further improved through hybridisation and alternate energy options.

"We believe Jaguar Land Rover can be a protagonist in the UK's drive for low-carbon leadership."

Kant says JLR's investment in green tech is already paying off, and highlighted the fact that JLR spends £400 million on research and development every year in the UK, and has committed £800 million to developing environmental technology in the UK in the future."

"We are investing to take forward that same philosophy and want the two iconic brands Jaguar and Land Rover, each with its unique heritage, to regain their past glory," said Kant.

"Tata Motors is committed to stand alongside and support JLR to emerge as a strong and competitive global auto player.

"And, given the scale of our presence in this country, we in Tata would like to be perceived to be as British as any major UK company. We have a great stake in success in Britain and Britain also has a great stake in our success."

New 2010 Renault Twingo Gordini Renaultsport



Renault has announced the new Twingo Gordini Renaultsport which will debut at the Atelier Renault on the Champs-Elysées, in Paris on January 10, 2010. As previously announced, the little Twingo marks the revival of the successful Gordini/ Renault partnership.

Gordini touches have been restricted to styling which is characterised by the combination of French blue and white racing stripes on the exterior. A choice of two paint colours, Malta Blue or Pearlescent Black metallic will be made available. The tyres are encased in 17-inch alloy wheels with a polished face and a black inner rim. Buyers can specify a 'Cup' chassis with a lower ride height, stiffer springs and dampers as well as the same 17-inch alloy wheels but with Malta blue inner rims instead.

The 1.6-litre naturally aspirated engine was not tweaked and remains at 98kW (133hp). But the exhaust note is especially tuned to give a throaty note under acceleration. The steering wheel offers good feedback and is precise according to the Renault statement.

Other Gordini features include blue and black Gordini-embossed leather seats, blue leather door panel inserts, blue gearlever gaiter and Gordini-badged gearlever knob and a blue rev counter with white surround. Additional equipment from the Renault shelf includes automatic climate control, cruise control, a radio/ CD/ MP3 player and a fully disconnectable ESP system.

UK sales will commence in March 2010, not long after prices are announced.

MEC Design SLS AMG Design Proposals



The Mercedes Benz SLS AMG supercar only goes on sale next year but already German tuner MEC Design has presented three design studies for it. Although the styling packages depict what might be the final look, nothing has been decided yet.

"We're very excited about the SLS," said MEC Design CEO Cem Altun. "It's already becoming a classic just like the 300 SL Gullwing. These first studies have received a lot of good feedback and now we just can't wait to get our hands on one."

The first is a front-end canvas featuring a new front bumper with a deep mesh grille and curved side air inlets. Here the Mercedes-Benz three-point star was shifted up to just above the grille in similar fashion to the old SLR McLaren. New side skirts with integrated lighting and 22-inch bi-coloured wheels are proposed.

The second car also concentrates on the front end. It is finished in a golden yellow colour and features three-piece 22-inch wheels. Most of the interior is left untouched apart from the carbon fibre/ Alcantara MEC Design sports steering wheel.

The last design focuses on the rear. A dramatic MEC Design diffuser is fitted as well as a rear spoiler and branded exhaust system with oval chrome tips. The latter promises amazing sound.

Ford GT Geiger HP 790 Revealed



GeigerCars has unveiled their new performance package for the Ford GT.

Dubbed the Geiger HP 790, the package features a larger 4.0-liter compressor (up from the stock 2.3-liter unit), new throttle valves, a sports air filter, improved cooling systems, and revised engine electronics. Thanks to these changes, the supercharged 5.4-liter V8 produces 790 horsepower and 863 Nm of torque. This allows the car to accelerate from 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 3.6 seconds, 0-200 km/h (0-124 mph) in 9.6 seconds, and 0-300 km/h (0-186 mph) in 22.8 seconds. If you keep your foot planted, you'll eventually hit the car's top speed of 360 km/h (224 mph).

Other performance tweaks include a specially-developed coilover suspension (which reduces the ride height by 60mm), a sports exhaust system with two 110mm tail pipes, and massive matt black wheels (9x20 front, 11x21 rear) outfitted with Dunlop SP Sport Maxx tires.

As you may recall, Geiger's original tuning package for the Ford GT (with a 3.3-liter compressor) produced 701 bhp (523kW) and 837 Nm of torque. It ran from 0-100 km/h in 3.5 seconds (0.1 seconds faster than the HP 790) and hit a top speed 340 km/h (211 mph)

Test Date of Citroen C3 1.4 VTR+



What is it?

This is the new Citroen C3, complete with 94bhp 1.4-litre naturally aspirated engine. Our pre-production test car came in VTR+ spec, which includes 15-inch alloys, air-con, auxiliary input, wheel-mounted audio controls and a panoramic windscreen that stretches back to above the driver’s head and is standard on the entire model range.
What’s it like?

Spacious, bright and undeniably a huge step on from the outgoing C3. The friendly looks are still there, as are the high roofline and practical interior, but the higher-quality cabin materials and sharper design add a lot more appeal.

Driving the Citroen C3 on UK roads is a pleasant, if not particularly involving experience. Ride quality is among the best in class; even very rutted surfaces are absorbed by the soft springs and body movement remains restrained over even severe undulations in the road surface.

The forgiving suspension does result in some nose diving under heavy braking and body roll under sharp turns but otherwise the ride quality is one of the C3’s most appealing elements.

Unfortunately, the cabin itself is not as comfortable as it should be for the driver. An almost complete lack of lateral support in the seats combines with a seating position that never quite seems to sit comfortably with the steering wheel, despite rake-reach adjustment. Offset pedals, squeezed into a small footwell next to a footrest that is too close to the clutch pedal, also make it difficult to get comfortable.

Other niggling faults include the sliding ceiling. It is very clever in that it is simple to move backwards and forwards, but having such expansive areas of glass and sun visors that are not hinged and therefore can’t be used to shade the side window is frustrating.

The handling is perfectly adequate for the C3’s purposes, but is short on flair and the steering is particularly lacklustre. It is too springy, has a too-strong self-centering action and the speed-sensitive action is inconsistent; it is fine at low speeds, but too sensitive and lacking resistance immediately off centre at motorway speeds.

The 1.4-litre 94bhp engine is short on low-down acceleration, which is typical of a small naturally aspirated engine, but it is perfectly usable for everyday driving. The standard five-speed ‘box needs to be worked to keep it in the higher rev range, where there is a lot more response than you get anywhere south of 2500rpm, but ultimately it’s a frugal engine that suits the needs of low-mileage buyers.
Should I buy one?

The Citroen C3 is a well packaged supermini that majors on space, comfort and value. It is not the best car in the class to drive, but ultimately it is one of the most practical compact family hatches and it has plenty of appealing elements. If that is what you are looking for, then the C3 should be on your shortlist.


First drive data

How much?

* Price as tested £13,200
* Price as tested £13,200

How fast?

* 0-62 mph 10.6 sec
* Max speed 114 mph

How big?

* Weight 1150 kg

How thirsty?

* Combined 47.8 mpg
* CO2 emissions 136 g/km

Engine

* Layout 4 , 1397 cc
* Max power 94 bhp at 6000 rpm
* Max torque 100 lb ft at 4000 rpm

New Fiat Doblo is all about space



Fiat has revealed the first details about the redesigned 2010 Doblo van.

Designed to blend comfort with functionality, the Doblo offers upscale styling and room to accommodate seven people. Speaking of space, the van rides on a 2755mm (108.5") wheelbase which allows it to have a healthy 790 liter luggage compartment. For added flexibility, the interior is outfitted with seats that can be folded and tilted.

At launch, the Doblo will be available with four different engines: a 95 hp petrol and three Multijet diesels with outputs rated at 90, 105 and 135 hp. Later, a dual fuel engine (petrol/methane) and a diesel engine with a Dualogic robotized gearbox will be offered. To help reduce operating costs and emissions, the whole Doblo range has been equipped with a standard engine start/stop system.

In terms of safety, the Doblo is outfitted with hill-decent control, electronic stability control, and ABS with electronic brake force distribution.

While no interior pictures were released, Fiat says the Doblo offers automatic climate control, cruise control, parking sensors, a built-in Blue&Me hands-free communication system, and a Blue&Me TomTom navigator.

Besides the standard passenger van, Fiat has also introduced the new Doblo Cargo. Featuring a larger load compartment than the previous model, the Doblo Cargo will be available in seven different body configurations (short/long wheelbase, high top, short/long wheelbase five-seaters, and short/long drop-framed versions for easy conversion into refrigeration vans and flatbed trucks).

Pinky and the Brain map out their plans for McLaren



McLaren Automotive is further confirming their plans to sell the company's cars worldwide. Citing a McLaren insider, automotive publication Autocar says the firm has carefully laid out a 12-year plan orchestrating the company's sales and marketing strategy.

“We want to show we are not in this for the short haul,” the source said.

The automaker had previously confirmed their intentions to create a dealership network across Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and North America. By 2011, up to 40 retail outlets will have been created, beginning in the UK and Europe. Eventually, there could be as many as 15 dealerships there, and another ten in the US & Canada.

For the first time, McLaren is confirming their aim to introduce the brand in Hong Kong relatively soon, with an eventual push into China. The worldwide slate of showrooms should all be open to the public by 2021.

However, McLaren needs a global sales force in place by early 2011. Their latest supercar, the McLaren MP4-12C, will go into production by the end of 2010. Sales of the highly anticipated car are expected to start by March 2011.

Audi R10 Supercar artists speculative rendering



Ever since Audi launched the R8, people have been craving high performance variants. Quick to oblige, Audi responded by introducing the R8 GT3 and the street legal R8 V10.

Inspired by these two models, 23-year old industrial design student Marouane Bembli decided to go one step further by creating the R10. Featuring futuristic styling, the R10 is envisioned as a lightweight supercar with a V10 engine and a dry weight of 1200kg (2,645 lbs)

While just a flight of fancy, the overall design is impressive despite being a CGI dream.

BMW's Baloga confirms four-cylinder diesels for U.S. market



While some of us here at ABG HQ are major fans of BMW's diesel engines, we were disappointed when BMW opted to enter the U.S. market only with the twin turbo 3.0-liter six cylinder diesel. As fantastic an engine as that is, the 2.0-liter four cylinder is also plenty strong and yields even better fuel efficiency. At an event at BMW's North American headquarters this week, VP engineering Tom Baloga told the audience that BMW would introduce the four-cylinder diesel to the U.S. lineup now that tougher fuel economy standards have been imposed. In keeping with BMW's performance image, we will get the more powerful variants, likely the dual turbo, 204 hp version used in the 123d rather than the super-high-efficiency versions. Even with that engine, we averaged 37 mpg in the 123d last year. BMW plans to clean up the four cylinder diesel with a lean NOx trap like VW uses for the Jetta and Golf TDI rather than a more expensive and complex urea injection system. The four cylinder will most likely go into the 3 and maybe 1 series cars with the six being reserved for larger cars like the 5, 7 and X5.

Honda to launch a specific small car for the Asian markets



Japanese auto maker Honda Motor Company is working on its expansion plans in India. It intends to launch a specific small car for the Asian markets. The new small car will be placed in A-segment but will not compete with Nano. "We don't have any plan for ultra low-cost car. We are still undergoing tough times in many traditional markets," Honda Chief Executive Takanobu Ito said. "Our top priority is on China and India, where we would like to grow the size of our business as much as possible," he added.
Honda is eyeing India and China as its top markets where it intends to book profits earlier than the rest of the world. It sold 50,600 cars in China in October which is up 42 per cent from the previous year. India is a smaller market. Honda sold 34,430 cars between April and October, an increase of 38 per cent from a year earlier.

Honda has premium sedans in India like Accord, City and Civic. It launched premium hatch model Jazz earlier this year. However, its second car model will be more competitive and at “expected and accepted” price levels of Indian customers.

Wheelsandmore Aston Martin DB9 Volante



German tuner Wheelsandmore has some ideas of its own for the Aston Martin DB9 convertible.

First up is a performance upgrade for the 6.0 liter V12 engine with 476 hp and 600 Nm (442 lb-ft) of torque that comes with the production version. Wheelsandmore boosts that by 60 hp while adding 68 Nm (50 lb-ft) of torque too. They've done so by tinkering with the ECU and adding a stainless-steel sport exhaust system with 200-cell sport catalysts and noise-volume valve control.

Suspension-lowering is part of the package with the DB9 sitting 25 mm lower.

The DB9 also gets a new body kit made of polyurethane along with side skirts, front and rear aprons and a rear lid spoiler. The convertible gets fitted with Kahn RS-V 20-inch wheels with Dunlop Sport Maxx performance tires - 255/35/20 for the front 9.0x20 rims and 285/30/20 for the 11.0×20 rear rims.

Prices are €5,999 for the wheel set, €9,000 for the body kit, €8,800 for the exhaust system, €3,400 for the ECU upgrade and €1,150 for the lowering springs.

Project Sartre uses road trains to save fuel on the highway



Road trains that link vehicles together using wireless sensors could soon be on European roads.

An EU-financed research project is looking at inexpensive ways of getting vehicles to travel in a 'platoon' on Europe's motorways.

Each road train could include up to eight separate vehicles - cars, buses and trucks will be mixed in each one.

The EU hopes to cut fuel consumption, journey times and congestion by linking vehicles together.

Early work on the idea suggests that fuel consumption could be cut by 20% among those cars and trucks travelling behind the lead vehicle.

Spanish trials

The lead vehicle would be handled by a professional driver who would monitor the status of the road train. Those in following vehicles could take their hands off the wheel, read a book or watch TV, while they travel along the motorway. Their vehicle would be controlled by the lead vehicle.

Funded under the European Commission's Framework 7 research plan, Sartre (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) is aimed at commuters in cars who travel long distances to work every day but will also look at ways to involve commercial vehicles.

Tom Robinson, project co-ordinator at engineering firm Ricardo, said the idea was to use off-the-shelf components to make it possible for cars, buses and trucks to join the road train.

The goal is to try and introduce a step change in transport methods," he said.

"We're looking at what it would take to get platooning on public highways without making big changes to the public highways themselves," said Mr Robinson.

A system that involved wiring up motorways with sensors to help control the road trains would be prohibitively expensive, he said.

"Each of the vehicles will have their own control and software monitoring system," said Mr Robinson. "There may well be a platoon sensor envelope that collates information and presents it to the lead vehicle so it can understand what is happening around all the vehicles."

The idea is to make platoons active so vehicles can join and leave as they need. Mr Robinson speculated that those joining a platoon or road train may one day pay for the privilege of someone else effectively driving them closer to their destination.

Sartre will run for three years. The project partners are currently doing preliminary research to find out all the elements needed for a working system and the situations in which it might be used.

There were also behavioural elements to consider, said Mr Robinson, such as whether all the vehicles will need to have their hazard lights on while in a platoon.

Also, he said, there had to be a way to ensure the vehicles in a platoon are organised to make drivers feel safe.

"Car drivers do not want to be between trucks," he said.

Towards the end of the research project trials will be held on test tracks in the UK, Spain and Sweden. There are also plans for public road trials in Spain. The first platoon will involve two trucks and three cars.

GM to put electric Cadillac Converj Concept into production



It’s official. Sort of. Cadillac is getting a Volt of its own. Word has it the stunning Converj concept car is slated for production as a series hybrid.

We’ve been hounding General Motors about this car ever since Vice Chairman Bob Lutz revealed it at the Detroit auto show earlier this year, and there have been rumors afoot about its impending production for awhile now. Now, according to the Detroit News, the concept’s been greenlighted. We have to wonder if Lutz wasn’t bending a few arms behind the scenes to make it happen.

The Converj uses the same technology and drivetrain layout as the Chevrolet Volt. The extended-range electric car not only will offer consumers some serious green cred and great mileage in an all-American brand but also put them miles beyond the Toyota Prius when it comes to style.

The News, citing unnamed sources familiar with the General’s inner workings, says the Converj is as real as a heart attack. Cadillac officials are said to have presented the production plan to GM’s board of directors last week.

It’s no secret “Maxium” Bob Lutz has been a big supporter of the Converj, nor is it any secret that what Lutz wants, Lutz pretty much gets. He’s said the production model would look similar to the concept pictured above. The show car was bold and striking, like something from Giorgetto Giugiaro, not Detroit. It’s as sexy as the Volt is mainstream. Sultry sheet metal aside, though, the two cars probably will be essentially the same.

“The car still is slated to share much of its drivetrain with the upcoming Chevrolet Volt,” according to the perennially perky Motor Trend. Others, including unnamed GM insiders, echo that claim. If so, look for a 1.4-liter four-banger up front and a big honkin’ lithium-ion battery pack providing juice to an electric motor. It should have the same 40 mile range before the gasoline engine kicks in to drive a generator that will keep the electric motor turning.

Still, we’re talking about Cadillac, so look for some upscale touches.

Slapping a Cadillac badge on a Chevrolet Volt is a smart move because it will help the General recoup some of the money it’s spent developing the innovative drivetrain — when we drove a Volt mule, GM told us it’s sunk close to a billion dollars into the Volt. The margins are, after all, much higher on a premium marque than a Chevy.

“You can charge more for a Caddy than a Chevrolet. It’s one of God’s immutable laws,” auto analyst Jim Hall told the News.

You can look at the upcoming Converj as being the exact opposite of Honda’s Insight. Where the Insight went down market to go up against the industry leading Prius, Caddy’s Converj is heading up to where the Haute Living set like to chill out. Cadillac is staying tight-lipped about how much cash the Converj will demand, but with the General desperately trying to keep the Volt under $40,000, figure the Converj will clock in north of that.

XFR, XKR: Jaguar launches R Performance



If you recently purchased a 2010 Jaguar XFR or an XKR and are looking for some high-speed driving lessons, Jaguar has just announced the launch of its R Performance Academy. Beginning December 1, Jaguar will offer sessions at Homestead Miami Speedway, which features 2.21 miles of challenging asphalt and 14 turns.

Starting 2010, the Academy will visit various tracks, including the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Monticello Motor Club in Monticello, New York and the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA, among others, on a quarterly basis.

The 2010 Jaguar XFR and the XKR are powered by a supercharged V8 engine making 510-hp, allowing for a 0-60 mph time of 4.7 seconds and 4.6 seconds respectively

Press Release:

Jaguar Announces Launch of R Performance Academy

High Performance Driving Academy Allows Customers to Satisfy Their Need for Speed

MAHWAH, N.J., Nov. 9 /PRNewswire/ — For some, a day at the track driving the fastest Jaguar with some of the world’s most renowned driving instructors is a dream. For those lucky buyers of a 2010 Jaguar XKR or XFR, it will be a reality. Jaguar Cars announced today the launch of its R Performance Academy, beginning December 1, with a session at one of America’s premier racing facility, the Homestead Miami Speedway, which features 2.21 miles of challenging asphalt and 14 turns that provide a rewarding challenge to even the most experienced racers.

The R Performance Academy is complimentary with the purchase of a 2010 XFR, the ultimate Jaguar sports sedan, or 2010 XKR, the new generation of Jaguar’s sports coupe, and offers an exhilarating, experiential adventure for the ultimate auto enthusiast. Both the XFR and XKR are powered by a supercharged, 510-hp V8 engine, and boast accelerations from 0 – 60 in 4.7 and 4.6 seconds, respectively. The Academy is designed to help drivers explore the capabilities of these special automobiles and develop the skills and techniques needed to safely experience their high-performance dynamics.

“Our all-new R Performance Academy was specially developed to ensure that our customers can responsibly enjoy the full potential and incredible capabilities of the dynamic XFR and XKR,” said BJ Colaric, General Manager, Sales Operations for Jaguar Cars. “The security of having a world-class professional driving instructor by your side on an enclosed, high-speed track creates the perfect setting for both education and appreciation.”

The experience begins with a reception the night before the driving day where coaches will explain the program and share some of their racetrack experiences. The next day, guests arrive at the track bright and early for a driver orientation and a full day of driving in Jaguar R Performance Academy cars. The lessons learned on the racetrack are made relevant to everyday, real world driving by the instructors and will leave Jaguar owners more aware of their vehicles’ abilities and feeling more confident behind the wheel. This program features unique and exciting driving activities:

* maximum acceleration using various Jaguar Drive Control settings
* braking – and experiencing complete ABS stopping
* emergency lane changes
* Dynamic Mode and DSC Off mode handling
* cornering
* autocross (slalom course)
* full laps at speed with driving coach and hot laps with racing drivers

In 2010, the Academy will visit various tracks, including the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Monticello Motor Club in Monticello, New York and the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA, among others, on a quarterly basis. Invitations to attend this unforgettable driving adventure were distributed nationwide to 2010 XKR and XFR customers who purchased a 2010 XFR or XKR through September. To learn more about the all new R Performance Academy, visit www.jaguarperformanceacademy.com.

Renault Gordini Return Confirmed



We’ve known this was on the cards for a while – the return of the Gordini badge – and we reported last week that Renault were going to announce their plans for a new Gordini range this week. And they have.

Aimed straight in the sites of Fiat’s Abarth and MINI’s Cooper badges, the Gordini badge will signify the ‘Sporty’ Renaults, sitting one notch down from the Renaultsport models, which are expected to become even more hard-core as the Gordini mops up sales from less enthusiastic buyers.

Sadly – unlike Cooper and Abarth – it looks as if our belief that Gordini will be cosmetic rather than performance is right. Expect to see the iconic white stripes reappear and liberal doses of blue Gordini paint jobs. Throw in a body kit and some loud alloys and you pretty much have the recipe for the new Gordini.

First of the new Gordini range will be the Renault Gordini Twingo RS which Renault are planning on launching on 25th November on the Champs Elysees. You can expect to see Gordini versions of the Megane and Clio following before too long.

Nissan will launch the 2010 Qashqai and Qashqai+2 in March 2010, with engine updates, a new nose and trim upgrades.

A camouflaged 2010 Nissan Qashqai caught testing recently

Nissan will launch the 2010 Qashqai and Qashqai+2 in March 2010, with engine updates, a new nose and trim upgrades.

The Nissan Qashqai has been a big success for Nissan. A very able crossover / Estate / SUV thingy, it has certainly made its mark since its introduction in 2007. And – in Qashqai +2 guise – it actually makes a decent fist of being a people carrier. But it’s remained pretty much unchanged since it was introduced – apart from the addition of extra models like the n-tec – so its time for a change. Bring on the 2010 Nissan Qashqai.

The spy shot at the top shows a 2010 Qashqai running around in disguise recently. The camouflage is restricted to the front end an the rear lights, which indicates that the 2010 Qashqai is going to get a new nose and some tweaks and tidies round the back. Trim updates will also come in to play and Nissan are likely to drop a bit of ‘Green’ fairy dust on the powerplants to up the output, improve the economy and lower emissions.

So when are these changes going to happen? Last news we had was that the 2010 Qashqai would hit the roads in the UK in the summer, with the Qashqai +2 following on in the Autumn. But we had some info in this morning that shows Nissan are ahead of the game plan.

The 2010 Nissan Qashqai and Qashqai+2 will launch in March 2010. Early next month (December) Nissan will be releasing full details on the 2010 updates, including prices. January will see the order book open and the first 2010 Qashqais will be in dealers by mid February, with customer deliveries starting on 1st March 2010.

The current Qashqai has had a good 2009, increasing its market share by 65%. Even with the new model now confirmed for launch in March the current Qashqai is still a good buy. But you should be able to screw a decent discount on the run-out model if that’s the route you want to go.

But we’re told that stocks are quite low, and dealers expect to run out of the current model by December. Get your skates on if you want one.

New S60 shapes up to beat 3-Series!



Meet the curvy compact exec that aims to build on Volvo’s growing reputation for creating stylish, exciting cars.

These are the first official pictures of the new S60, and while no image of the rear is available yet, drivers clearly have a great deal to look forward to.

It’s inspired by the concept which debuted at the Detroit Motor Show in January, and features the same swooping coupé roofline and neatly rounded edges. It’s even finished in the same copper paintjob!

Inside, the cabin is set to be equally dramatic, with LED lights and a swooping dashboard, incorporating an LCD instrument panel.

Volvo has announced that the showroom-ready S60 will be unveiled at March’s Geneva expo – and that production will start early next summer at the firm’s plant in Ghent, Belgium.

Bosses have also promised that the newcomer will be equipped with the innovative Pedestrian Detection system – a groundbreaking safety feature that can sense people in the road in front of the car, and apply the brakes automatically if the driver doesn’t react.

Although the engine line-up has yet to be confirmed, buyers are set to be offered an all-new 1.6-litre direct-injection EcoBoost petrol turbo unit, delivering 180bhp. A 1.6-litre diesel is also on the cards – this is likely to power an ultra-efficient DRIVe model.

It’s uncertain whether a high-performance R version of the new S60 will be produced. Sources close to the project say they want to emphasise the car’s eco credentials instead.

A hybrid is in the pipeline, though. This will be developed from experimental work Volvo carried out with an all-electric C30.

Prices for the newcomer have yet to be finalised, but it’s expected to cost less than the larger V70 estate. The range could start at around £22,000.

Read more: http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/news/autoexpressnews/244684/new_s60_shapes_up_to_beat_3series.html#ixzz0WY2jm7eJ

The New Citroen C-ZERO Electric City Car



Zero fuel consumption, zero CO2 emissions and zero engine noise: with the Citroen C-ZERO, Citroen is broadening its compact vehicle range with a 100% electric offering.
The new city car is designed to make urban mobility easier - thanks to its compact dimensions, rapid charge and generous range for day-to-day car journeys. And all of this in a silence that makes occupants forget about the noise of the city. The Citroen C-ZERO combines technology and creativity to meet tomorrow's challenges today.

Having already produced more than 5,500 electric vehicles, Citroen has the experience vital to being a front-runner in a market segment that is set to grow significantly in the coming years.

Due for launch in the last quarter of 2010, the Citroen C-ZERO is developed in collaboration with Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.

The Citroen C-ZERO is a full-electric vehicle powered by a permanent magnet synchronous motor delivering 47kW or 64bhp EEC from 3,000 to 6,000rpm. Maximum torque of 180Nm is available from 0 to 2,000rpm. Power is transmitted to the rear axle via a single-speed reduction gear.

The motor is powered by a latest-generation 330-volt lithium-ion battery system comprising 88 50Ah cells (for onboard energy of 16kWh), mounted in the centre of the vehicle. Lithium-ion technology keeps battery weight down compared with conventional technology, while offering equivalent performance. It is also resistant to partial re-charges, which have no impact on battery longevity.

Re-charging the Citroen C-ZERO's batteries could not be simpler. Owners plug the supply cord into a 220-volt socket. A complete charge takes six hours, while an 80% charge is possible in just 30 minutes using an external station with a single-phase current of 125A at 400V, for power of up to 50kW.

Using the car is equally simple. When the driver turns the ignition key, a beep confirms that the car is running. The Citroen C-ZERO drives like a regular car with an automatic gearbox. The traditional fuel gauge is replaced by a battery charge indicator.

The Citroen C-ZERO is perfectly adapted to the needs of all kinds of users - including public sector operators, local authorities, smaller businesses and company fleets - and also to those of private customers looking for a car with exceptionally low running costs.

With four real seats - thanks to a 2.55m wheelbase - and a 166 litre boot, the Citroen C-ZERO is impressively quiet to drive and boasts a plethora of comfort and safety equipment. Original-fit features include power steering, ABS, traction control, ESP, electric windows, six airbags and air conditioning.

The Citroen C-ZERO's compact exterior dimensions - 3.48m long - and a 9m turning circle, make it a cinch to nip in and out of city traffic. And with a top speed of 80mph, acceleration from 0-62mph in 15 seconds and 37-56mph in 6 seconds, along with a range of around 80miles, over a standard combined cycle, it is also fully at ease out on the open road.

Miss Car SalesWomen of the Year (China)



The Chinese auto industry is experiencing some recession-defying growth. According to official data, the country sold 72 percent more vehicles last month than it did on the same month last year. This translates to 1.2 million cars and trucks, down on the 1.3 million sold in September but significantly up on the 838,000 pushed by the US domestic market.

The success is partly because of major tax cuts and government subsidies amounting to 4 trillion yuan (US$586 billion) meant to stimulate consumer spending on cars and other large items. As with a host of other commodities, China will soon overtake the US as the world's biggest auto market. Already companies like General Motors are finding good favour in the east than at home.

"This has been a year of records for GM in China," Kevin Wale, GM China Group president, said in a statement. The troubled General managed to sell 166,911 vehicles in China last month, double the number cleared in October 2008. Volkswagen and Daimler too saw an upswing in sales while local manufacturers like Geely and Chery increased market share as well.

SpeedART PS9-650 - Porsche Panamera Turbo - 1600



SpeedART has revealed additional information about their tuning program for the Porsche Panamera Turbo.

Set to be officially unveiled at the Essen Motor Show, the range topping PS9 features 650 hp and 890 Nm of torque thanks to bigger turbochargers, a sport exhaust system (with a sound switch), a sport catalyst, and a revised ECU. These changes enable the car to accelerate from 0-62 mph in 3.5 seconds, before hitting a top speed in excess of 200 mph. If 650 hp is too hot to handle, the company also offers more modest performance packages that allow the engine to produce 550 and 600 hp.

In terms of styling, the PS9 is outfitted with an aerodynamic body kit which consists of a front chin spoiler, hood vents, a rear diffuser, a roof spoiler, a modified rear bumper (with air outlets), and aggressive side skirts. Other design details include 22-inch three-piece 'LSC FORGED' wheels and the aforementioned sport exhaust system (available in polished stainless steel or matt black).

For the interior, SpeedART added a sport steering wheel with F1-shift paddles (which can be outfitted with aluminum-, wood- or carbon fiber inlays), carbon fiber trim, contrast stitching on the door panels and seats, revised instrument dials, and exclusive floor mats.

Autodelta Alfa Romeo Brera S 3.2 Compressore



Autodelta, continues a tradition of new model presentations at this year's MPH - the Prestige and Performance Show hosted by BBC's Top Gear's infamous threesome - with the launch of two new 'ground-breaking' products.

The first, a new package that aims to push the oft-touted Italian notion of 'gran turismo' to a performance-upgraded 159 saloon, this time to the 3.2-litre V6 version a year after the 2.2-litre model was first re-worked. The second, an Autodelta Brera, responds to customer demand following Prodrive's recent power output upgrade and weight loss program on the Brera S and completes the package with more wide-ranging performance modifications.

Autodelta's 'flamboyant' 159 - the J4 3.2 C - has been re-tuned for optimal driver orientation but also for the very greatest in coseted comfort and bespoke Autodelta luxury. The J4 3.2 C packs a 352 hp 3.2 V6 engine and is combined with upgrades to the chassis, electronics, brakes, and suspension - all adjusted after intensive R&D for the V6 version from the sporting but smooth-riding 2.2 C.

Building on Prodrive efforts to reduce weight by 100 kilos and now boasting Autodelta's established supercharged and intercooled 352 hp V6, the Brera S 3.2 'Compressore' places greater focus on the driver, turning the Brera S into a true high-performance sportscar. A bespoke Limited Slip Differential improves traction in addition to in-gear acceleration gains from Prodrive's switch from four-wheel to front-wheel-drive. At the request of clients, Autodelta have swapped Prodrive's more track-suitable suspension for a custom Autodelta Sportline suspension, optimised to balance track capability with everyday comfort.

Possible Audi A8 Test Mule Caught on Video in Mexico


A member of the Rvag.com community has caught a Volkswagen Group prototype undergoing testing in Puebla, Mexico.

While we're not 100 percent positive what model this is, it appears the prototype may be the new Audi A8 judging by its overall profile and a few other clues.

It is possible the protoype could also be the new mid-size sedan (NMS). If this is the case, it will be one of the first times the NMS has been caught on "film."

However, when comparing to previous Audi A8 prototype spy photos taken at the Nurburgring in Germany, we can see the same LED daytime driving lights integrated into the headlamps as well as the same exact wheels. Also, the sail panel portion of the C-pillar is showing some funky faux coverings on both prototypes.

Clearly the Puebla location is significant as Volkswagen has a plant there which manufactures Jetta/Bora and New Beetle models, however, we're a bit baffled as to why the Audi A8 prototype would be testing in Mexico. This isn't the hottest time of year there.

The next-generation 2011 Audi A8 is expected to debut sometime next year, possibly as the Geneva auto salon in March, or perhaps later at the Paris show in September

EVI Wave2 Progressive Automotive X-Prize contender



For us polar ice cap haters, we generally think of the competitors in this kind of thing as a bunch of ultra-light, tofu-fueled playthings for liberals who care more about the planet than they do about the people who have to drive one of these rolling chicanes. Sometimes, we'll admit to being wrong.

PRESS RELEASE

Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE Announces Teams Qualified to Compete for $10 Million & Launch National Student Contest 3 teams have been judged qualified to advance in the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE, a competition to create viable and super fuel-efficient vehicles. Registration also opens for a national student contest to reinvent the automotive dashboard, sponsored by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

New York, NY – October 19, 2009 The Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE, a multimillion dollar competition to inspire a new generation of viable, super fuel-efficient vehicles, today announced the 43 teams- representing 18 states, 10 countries and 6 fuel types, that have passed the competition's Design Judging phase and will move into the most exciting phase of the competition – performance and safety testing – putting them one step closer to their share of the $10 million prize purse.

The announcement was made at Manhattan's Classic Car Club, and featured Dr. Peter Diamandis, X PRIZE CEO and Chairman; Glenn Renwick, President and CEO of Progressive Insurance; Connie Bezanson, Lead Engineer, Program Planning, U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Vehicle Technologies; and Dale Fulton, Senior Vice President for Curriculum Development at Discovery Education; along with a number of the qualified teams and their vehicles and the first high school teams to register for the complementary student contest.

Teams that have passed this most recent phase of judging have proven to the competition's automotive and technical experts that their vehicles will be available in time for formal vehicle challenges next spring, will be production capable, and can plausibly meet or exceed the competition requirements. There are a total of 53 vehicles moving forward in the competition with 28 represented in the Mainstream Class and 25 represented in the Alternative Class.

"The teams and vehicles represented in this group are the most viable in our competition and we believe that together they are positioned to make a huge impact on the automotive marketplace," noted Dr. Diamandis.

"The work that these teams have done is really amazing-congratulations to them all on getting this far," said Progressive's CEO Glenn Renwick. "Over the next year, we'll see significant advancement of these designs, taking us even closer toward the ultimate goal of making super fuel efficient vehicles a viable choice for consumers."

The competition features teams from around the world that can design, build and bring to market 100 MPG or energy equivalent (MPGe) vehicles that people want to buy and that meet market needs for price, size, capability, safety and performance. Performance testing will begin in spring 2010 and winners will be announced in September 2010. Exact dates and locations will be announced shortly.

A complete list of qualified teams, along with fuel types, photos of their vehicles and team information is now available at www.progressiveautoxprize.org.

Also at the event today, the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE formally opened registration for a national high school contest, funded by a U.S. Department of Energy grant. The contest, called DASH+, challenges students to work together using creativity, design, and math and science skills to develop new gauges, instruments and interfaces to create the "Dashboard of the Future" which will support behavior change to help drivers maximize fuel efficiency and reduce environmental impact. Each team will experience a unique, hands-on opportunity as they design their dashboard which will be accompanied by a written technical plan and a design video pitch to convince both auto manufacturers and the general public to adopt and embrace their new concepts, experiences and tools to better understand energy use in vehicles.

DASH+ teams must include two to five U.S. students enrolled in 9th through 12th grade, aged 14 or older, in fall 2009 and have an adult mentor. Registration is now available online at www.FuelOurFutureNow.com/contest.

www.FuelOurFutureNow.com is a dynamic, online destination advancing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education goals created by the U.S. Department of Energy, the X PRIZE Foundation, and Discovery Education. Featuring empowering resources that engage students in the science of alternative fuels and energy-efficient engineering, www.FuelOurFutureNow.com features targeted curriculum and lesson plans for all grade levels, as well as high-quality video, dynamic interactives, and additional resources teachers can use to achieve their STEM objectives.

ABOUT THE PROGRESSIVE INSURANCE AUTOMOTIVE X PRIZE
The goal of the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE is to inspire a new generation of viable, super fuel-efficient vehicles that offer more consumer choices. Ten million dollars in prizes will be awarded to the teams that win a stage competition for clean, production-capable vehicles that exceed 100 miles per gallon or energy equivalent (MPGe). The Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE will place a major focus on efficiency, safety, affordability, and the environment. It is about developing real, production-capable cars that consumers will want to buy, not science projects or concept cars. This progress is needed because today's oil consumption is unsustainable and because automotive emissions significantly contribute to global warming and climate change. For more information about the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE, please visit www.progressiveautoxprize.org or email progressiveautopress@xprize.org. For related educational resources, please visit www.FuelOurFutureNow.com.

ABOUT PROGRESSIVE:
Progressive, founded in 1937, is one of the country's largest auto insurance groups and a leading insurer of motorcycles, recreation vehicles, boats, and commercial vehicles. The Company offers competitive rates and innovative products and services that meet drivers' needs throughout their lifetimes as well as 24/7 online and in-person customer and claims service. One of Progressive's Core Values is Excellence. To the Company's nearly 25,000 people, it simply means seeking constant improvement. Over time, this has meant introducing revolutionary ideas that make car insurance easier to shop for, buy and use. It's this same innovative spirit that's behind the Company's sponsorship of the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE. The Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE will inspire innovation that will produce more fuel efficient vehicle choices, helping to make a difference in people's lives. Progressive's products and services are available locally through more than 30,000 independent insurance agencies in the U.S., online at http://www.progressive.com, and by phone at 1-800-PROGRESSIVE (1-800-776-4737).

ABOUT THE X PRIZE FOUNDATION
The X PRIZE Foundation is an educational nonprofit prize institute whose mission is to create radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. In 2004, the Foundation captured world headlines when Burt Rutan, backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, built and flew the world's first private vehicle to space to win the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE. The Foundation has since launched the $10 million Archon X PRIZE for Genomics, the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE, and the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE. The Foundation is creating and conducting competitions in four prize groups: Exploration (Space and Oceans), Life Sciences, Energy & Environment, and Education & Global Development. The Foundation is widely recognized as the leader in fostering innovation through competition. For more information, please visit www.xprize.org.

ABOUT THE PROGRESSIVE INSURANCE AUTOMOTIVE X PRIZE EDUCATION PROGRAM:
Through a $3.5 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE has developed a national education program to engage students and the public in learning about advanced vehicle technologies, energy efficiency, climate change, alternative fuels and the science, technology, engineering, and math behind efficient vehicle development. A key component of the education program is www.FuelOurFutureNow.com, an online knowledge center developed in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy and Discovery Education, offering stimulating science, technology, engineering and math lessons and resources for students, teachers, and families as the unique and engaging Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE competition unfolds.

What Do You Want in a Web-Connected Car?



If your car had a fast, always-on Web connection, how would you want to use it?I I wondered about this last night, as I sat in an "LTE Connected Car" promoted by Alcatel-Lucent and other members of the "ng Connect" program.

The car, a modified Toyota, had four screens, one for the driver and three for passengers. Each was running special software that would allow passengers to choose their own entertainment options.

As you would expect, there were driving directions (tied into a GPS) for the driver. And instead of picking your music only from CDs or a local station, you could also use Pandora or another Internet music source.

The LTE Connected Car could let passengers watch videos from YouTube and other Internet sources and buy video on demand. (Thankfully, video would be disabled for the driver when the car was in gear, and passengers in the backseat would hear their audio via Bluetooth headsets, so as not to distract the driver.) And of course, you could surf the Web, checking out the current weather and nearby points of interest, for example.

Representatives at the event said the car could handle four simultaneous HD video streams, and indeed, what I saw looked quite good. The streaming of both audio and video was provided via the LTE standard, a "4G" standard designed for wireless data streaming that nearly every wireless carrier (with the notable exception of Clearwire in this country) as endorsed. LTE hasn't been rolled out yet--Verizon is planning its rollout for the end of next year--so this demo was done with a base station just a few feet away; it wasn't really a test of LTE connectivity but more a demo of what could be done if you assume great connectivity.

The demo was prepared by the ng partners, including Alacatel-Lucent (which makes LTE hardware), QNX Software Systems (which created the basic software), Toyota Motor Sales, Atlantic Records, Chumby, and Kabillion. A real system is years off, though, because it would require a broad rollout of the LTE service, modified cars, and a business model that made sense.

For instance, you'd obviously need to pay for an LTE connection to your car, and it's unclear whether that would be the same service as for your handset. (In this demo, the car became a Wi-FI hot spot, so that may be a way around it, at least for when you are in the car.) Services like video on demand are typically pay services, so they'd probably have to be designed with different price points depending on whether you'd want to rent the movie or buy it; or want it for the car only, or also for your handset, or maybe your TV at home.

A lot depends on what car companies, wireless operators, and content providers choose to offer. But clearly, price and capability will be key. I'm willing to pay for a fast wireless connection to my handset (and my guess is most of the people reading are too), but the car service would provide a bigger screen and features designed for the automotive environment.

And there are services I would like: A bigger screen for navigation, real-time traffic, and reliable streaming music over good speakers are certainly worth something. But I'm not sure how much I would pay for that. (Then again, I don't have DVD players in my car either, and I know lots of families that do.)

I'm curious. What services would you like to see in a connected car, and how much would you be willing to pay for it? Let me know in the comments!

Scrappage sees UK car sales surge

New car sales recorded their biggest increase so far this year in October, helped by the scrappage scheme.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said 168,942 new cars were registered last month, an increase of 31.6% compared with October 2008.

The SMMT said the "cash for bangers" incentive scheme had accounted for more than 20% of the new car sales.

Demand was also helped by customers wanting to avoid the VAT increase due in January, it said.
'Encouragingly, there has also been an increase in demand in the fleet and business sectors, which will be critical in sustaining recovery next year,'' said SMMT chief executive Paul Everett.

Buyers receive a £2,000 discount when they trade in a car more than 10 years old for a new one. The cost is shared between the government and the car industry.

Similar schemes have also been in place in France, Germany and the US.

Ford's Fiesta is the best selling model so far this year, followed by the Focus.

'Purchasing power'

Howard Archer from Global Insight says the increase ''may also be a sign that a significant number of consumers have greater scope and willingness to step up their discretionary spending.''

He added that purchasing power has been lifted by sharply reduced mortgage interest payments, lower utility bills and a moderation in inflation.

Gordon Murray's electric city car gets green light



The UK Government tonight announced a major investment in Gordon Murray's radical new city car project. A £9 million grant will fund development of the T27, an electric city car successor to the original T25 being designed in the UK by the maverick engineer behind the McLaren F1 and numerous racing cars.

The money will be spent designing and producing four prototypes over a 16-month period, with the eventual aim of putting an electric car with sustainable manufacturing processes into full production here in the UK.

Gordon Murray's T27 and T25: a new range

The T27 will be the follow-up to the petrol-powered T25, a small city car designed by jointly by Gordon Murray Design and Zytek Automotive technology. Neither car has been unveiled officially yet, kept under wraps at presentations so far (as pictured) or shown as design doodles.

Murray said: 'The iStream manufacturing process behind the T25 and T27 is all about sustainable, low-energy process by design. The T27 programme is a great opportunity for us and our partners to create what will be the world’s most efficient electric vehicle.'
Zy-who?

Zytek is a British firm best known for its work with Mercedes on the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) technology used by some F1 teams in 2009. It also developed hybrid drive systems for Le Mans series cars.
What's next for Gordon Murray?

Science and innovation minister Lord Drayson is set to put a petrol-powered T25 through its paces on Thursday. Prototypes of the electric T27 are scheduled to be complete by February 2011.

We're glad to see this British innovator take a step forward. The £9m grant is the first tranche of what will be many funding requirements over the coming years – Murray's eventual aim is to license out the technology and production processes to partner firms

Porsche Boxster Spyder



The most treasured model in Porsche's history, the Spyder, is about to take to the road again! The German company has announced the release of a new lightweight, driver-focused version of the mid-engined Boxster, known as the Boxster Spyder.

Inspired by the 1954 550 Spyder, which stood only three-feet high and weighed a slender 550kg, the Boxster Spyder sports a new, low-slung silhouette with a lightweight, low-lying soft-top and windows.

Completing the look is a pair of humps which extend across the boot-lid to the rear spoiler and transform the normally awkward looking Boxster into something that more closely resembles the Carrera GT supercar.

Due to be unveiled at the Los Angeles Motor Show in December, the new car weighs in at just 1,275kg, which is 80kg less than the Boxster S and enough to make it the lightest Porsche on sale today.

Under the bonnet, the Spyder uses Porsche's tried and tested 3.4-litre 'boxer' engine, newly tweaked to put out 320bhp. The uprated engine can be paired with a standard six-speed manual gearbox or the PDK twin-clutch system, which has now done away with its counter-intuitive steering wheel mounted controls in favour of a pair of paddle-shifters.

Porsche claims that a Spyder, fitted with the optional PDK gearbox and Sports Chrono Pack will sprint to 60mph in a blistering 4.8 seconds, that's almost a second quicker than a PDK equipped Boxster S. Top speed is more familiar, with the Spyder's top speed of 166mph only 3mph more than the S.

Renowned for its responsive handling and excellent brakes, the original Boxster package is hard to improve, but that hasn't stopped the Porsche engineers from trying. A lower centre of gravity coupled with a slightly revised suspension set-up allows the Spyder to be even more agile than its predecessor.

However, the new Porsche isn't just about torque and tyresmoke; consumption figures of 30.4mpg, again with the optional PDK gearbox, should help cut down time spent at the pumps and should also save around £200 a year in road tax over the standard Boxster S.

The new Spyder will go on sale in February 2010 as a final farewell to the Boxster, which originally went on sale in 1996. Priced at £44,643 the Spyder is almost identically priced to Audi'd TT RS Roadster and undercuts the SLK 55 AMG by £5,000.

Included in the price is a chance for customers to test the limits of their new Spyder, by taking to the track at Silverstone with a special Porsche-run driving experience


RIDES/LUX Motorwerks Hyundai Genesis Coupe - SEMA 2009



RIDES has teamed up with LUX Design to create a one-off Hyundai Genesis Coupe for the SEMA Motor Show.

While details are limited, the car features a custom body kit with a new front fascia, a redesigned rear bumper, a modified grille, aggressive side skirts and vented fenders. The coupe also boasts orange paint from the Porsche 911 GT3 RS, a matte black roof, smoked taillights, and 20-inch Vossen VF051 wheels wrapped in General Exclaim rubber.

Under the hood, RIDES equipped the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with a Turbonetics GT-K 350 turbocharger and a Spearco front-mounted intercooler. Other performance tweaks include a GReddy Racing Ti-C turbo-back exhaust system, StopTech brakes, and an A'PEXi coilover suspension kit.

Chrysler to outfit Fiat 500-approved dealers with specific showroom "salons"



Listening to Chrysler's long and rambling 2010-2014 Business Plan, it was clear that the company and its dealerships are very much looking forward to finally getting the fuel efficient Fiat 500 in North America. Much like what happened when BMW launched the Mini brand eight-odd years ago, it's hoped that the cute little 500 will attract a whole new customer to the Chrysler fold.

In order to properly court those new wallets buyers, Chrysler plans to open "specific interior showroom branded salons" in select dealerships, mostly in metropolitan areas. A dedicated set of salespeople will be assigned to sell the Fiat 500 in the States... ya know, since they otherwise wouldn't know how to sell the important car to American consumers.

There will also be a full line of accessories made available to customize the new car, which we would expect will include unique color and stripe packages both inside and out along with a slew of optional wheel designs. Whatever, make ours an Abarth and we're good. Expect all of this to take place before the end of 2010 as the Fiat 500 finally starts to show up in those selected dealerships.

Williams not releasing Rosberg until January



Williams is holding Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima to their contracts until the last day in December.

It is believed the decision explains the hold-up in an announcement about Rosberg's team for 2010, with the German's deal not likely to be made public until after 1 January.

"Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima remain our drivers until the end of 2009," reads an excerpt of the media statement in which Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hulkenberg were confirmed as Williams' drivers for next season.

Toyota Tacoma All-Terrain Gamer (ATG) takes gaming to illogical conclusions



The Toyota Tacoma All-Terrain Gamer (ATG) combines outdoor sports activities and video games to create the ultimate active lifestyle vehicle for young Tacoma pickup truck owners. The special vehicle was designed to take Tacoma owners to their favorite remote locations where they can pursue their passion for outdoor sports activities and also provide a haven at the end of the day to play their favorite interactive video games.

To create the Tacoma ATG Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. teamed up with a group of partners who are among the finest in their fields of expertise. The partners included The B.A.D. Company as the primary builder,along with Microsoft Xbox, Kicker, Toyota Racing Development, INNO Advanced Car Racks and Cannondale.

Toyota provided a 2009 Tacoma Double Cab Long Bed PreRunner V6 five-speed automatic to The B.A.D. Company to transform it into the rugged ATG. The builders felt this Tacoma configuration provided the best combination of on-road and off-road capability, a spacious cab to haul friends and a full-size bed to carry cargo and equipment.

The B.A.D. Company removed the B-Pillars and installed double gull-wing doors to increase space and create a "patio like" shelter for gamers. Adjustable theater style seating was created by removing the front seats and repositioning them to the outboard rear locations. This theater seating configuration intensifies gaming action by creating a communal experience, especially effective when playing Xbox's new HALO ODST team oriented four-person video game. Large steps were created to allow easy ingress/egress and leg support for outboard chair gamers.

Four interior monitors were placed on two swing arms to allow the vehicle to be easily converted from a video haven to a drivable truck. The swing arms were designed and contoured to provide each game seat optimum screen distance and angled to maximize the high definition experience.

To increase storage capability an INNO Ridge Wide Cargo Box is attached to a roof mounted roll bar. Two Upright Lock Bike Racks mounted to truck base rack systems, each provided by INNO, are mated directly to the tonneau cover. The two Lock Bike Racks carry Cannondale RZ ONE Twenty and Cannondale Moto 4 high performance mountain bikes.

Exterior modifications also included three base colors of a custom metallic anthracite (pulled directly from the Xbox brand guide), drilled aluminum interior panels, color-matched protective floor coating, an acrylic hood with an engine view port, a 66-inch plasma monitor with a custom roll cage enclosure, tonneau cover with "Craze" paint technique, blacked out front grille, sponsor logo windshield sun shade, front and rear bumpers, smoked front head and rear tail lamp treatment, and Xbox graphics.

The Xbox gaming system in the Tacoma ATG is complemented by a two-channel custom Kicker audio system, providing the ultimate sound design to maximize the video game experience. The system generates a total of 2,150 watts of power from studio grade rack-mounted amps to minimize sound quality deterioration over extended use. Gamers will feel the action via the 1,500 watt 12-inch Kicker Solobaric L7-12 Subwoofer in a custom enclosure with vents at each corner directing air into the cab. Sound will rain down on gamers from eight Kicker QS65.2 6.5-inch mid-range speakers handling a combined 650 watts of power to complete the gaming experience.

Additional interior modifications include four Simpson custom upholstered off-road racing seats with four-point black racing harnesses, custom three-tone upholstered interior and a mini-fridge energy drink dispenser.

In addition to being the ultimate gaming vehicle the Tacoma ATG also needed to be able to transport outdoor enthusiasts to their favorite remote locations. Toyota Racing Development (TRD) contributed to the project with the installation of its 304 horsepower 4.0-liter Supercharger to increase vehicle torque and better traverse rugged landscape. TRD 16-inch bead lock wheels with BF Goodrich LT295/75R16 All-Terrain T/A tires were added to improve off-road stability and increase traction.
After its debut at the 2009 SEMA Show the Tacoma ATG is scheduled to be used by Toyota, Xbox, Kicker, and INNO for a variety of consumer and industry events.

Tacoma All-Terrain Gamer Accessories

Partners and Sponsors
Principle: Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc.
Builder / Fabricator: The Big American Dream Company (B.A.D. Co.)
Gaming: Microsoft Xbox
Audio: Stillwater Designs / Kicker
Performance: Toyota Racing Development (TRD)
Sports Equipment: INNO Advanced Car Racks
Mountain Bikes: Cannondale

Exterior
Custom three-tone paint with "Craze" technique
Driver & Passenger side double gull wing doors with B-Pillar removed, custom hinge mechanism and light synchronization system
Custom steel roof mounted roll bar
Acrylic hood with view port and engine compartment lighting
Tonneau cover with "Craze" paint technique
Custom rear monitor protective enclosure
Blacked out front grille, front & rear bumpers
Smoked front head & rear tail lamp treatment
INNO Ridge Wide Cargo Box mounted to roof mounted roll bar
INNO Upright Lock Bike Rack mounted to Tonneau cover holding two Cannondale mountain bikes.
1. Cannondale RZ ONE Twenty
2. Cannondale Moto 4
Xbox 360 graphics

Interior
Custom expandable theater style rear seat gaming area with removable front seats repositioned to extend beyond the edge of the cab
Custom aluminum seat support frame with lighting treatment
Four Simpson custom upholstered off road racing seats with four-point black racing harness
Custom swing out four game monitor mounting system
Custom protective floor coating
Custom aluminum roll cage
Custom drilled aluminum headliner
Custom three-tone upholstered interior
Mini-fridge energy drink dispenser

Performance
TRD 4.0L V6 Supercharger
Air to liquid intercooler
High flow fuel injectors
Cold Air Intake
TRD Stainless Steel Cat-back single outlet exhaust
304HP & 334 lb/ft of Torque
16"X7.5" TRD Cast Bead Lock Wheels with custom finish
BF Goodrich LT295/75R16 All-Terrain T/A Tires

Audio/Visual
Four Xbox Elite Game Console Bundles
Alpine IVA-W505 touch screen head unit
Kicker KQ5 Preamp Equalizer
Behringer DCX2496 Crossover
QSC CX702 1500 Watt (8 Ω) Power Amplifier for subwoofer
Two QSC CX302 325 Watt (4 Ω) Power Amplifier for midrange
Total system produces 2150 Watts of power
Kicker Solobaric L7-12 Subwoofer with custom vented enclosure
Eight Kicker QS65.2 6.5-inch Midrange
66-inch Sharp Aquos Plasma High Definition public viewing monitor
Four Samsung 24" High Definition flat panel game monitors.

2009 Renault F1 Race car



Shooting down speculation to the contrary, Renault's F1 managing director Jean-Francois Caubet insists a working budget for 2010 has been approved and the team will race in formula one next year.

Following the announcement of Toyota's departure on Wednesday, the Renault board met in Paris, triggering reports that the French carmaker could be the next to quit F1.

But Caubet told the sports daily L'Equipe: "We have already contracted our drivers, had our budget approved and are enrolled in the world championship. Season 2010 has begun already."

He said Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn has also laid out his expectations for Renault's 2010 season; that the team "returns to a good level".

"We will not be world champions in 2010, but we do have hopes to be much improved," Caubet continued.

Perennial wishes: Auto industry execs calling for higher gas tax yet again



How often do the Wall Street Journal, Bill Ford, Jr. and Thomas Friedman agree on something? When it's the gas tax, it's 100 percent of the time, and now a number of auto executives have added their voices in favor of a gas tax in order to reach the end goal of getting more fuel efficient vehicles into use.

Speaking at the Reuters Autos Summit in Detroit, people like Jerry York, a former GM board member, and Mike Jackson, chief executive of AutoNation Inc., said that setting the price of gas at at least $4 a gallon would be a better way to get Americans to use less gasoline than giving out billions in loans and grants to develop new, more efficient technologies. Only with some pain at the pump, Jackson said, will car buyers care about fuel efficiency, adding that the best way to set the price floor would be with gradual gas tax increases until the $4 or $5 price limit is reached. Tim Leuliette, chief executive of supplier Dura Automotive, suggested that $8/gallon should be the target by 2020, stressing that the increases need to be telegraphed far in advance so that automakers and buyers can prepare for them. Rebates or other assistance for low income families should also be considered

Porsche Boxster Spyder Revealed - World Premiere in Los Angeles



Porsche has released the first images and details about the 2010 Boxster Spyder.

Described as the "...purist form of the Porsche sports car - light, powerful, consistently open, and very efficient", the Spyder is powered by a 3.4-liter six-cylinder engine that produces 320 hp (10 hp more than the Boxster S). Backed up by the optional PDK (Porsche-Doppelkupplungsgetriebe) transmission, the Spyder accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 4.8 seconds before topping out at 267 km/h (166 mph) - with the roof down. If that isn't impressive enough, the roadster consumes just 9.3L/100km (30.4 mpg) in the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC).

To further maximize the Spyder's sporting prowess, Porsche put the car on a diet (it only weighs 1,275 kg / 2,811 lbs which makes it the lightest model in the Porsche lineup), lowered the center of gravity, and added an all-new sports suspension.

In terms of styling, the car features a unique soft top, extra-low side windows, and two rear deck lid bulges which are meant to resemble the ones used on the Carrera GT. Other design touches include modified front and rear bumpers, 10-spoke alloy wheels, and revised air intakes. Inside, the roadster boasts an exclusive interior with sport seats, 'Boxster Spyder' branded scuff plates, and a body-color center console.

Set to debut at the Los Angeles Motor Show, the Boxster Spyder will go on sale in February 2010 for €53,100 (€63,404 in Germany, after a 19 percent VAT and country-specific features are applied).

Vaughn Gittin's all-carbon fiber RTR-C Mustang



Of all the Mustangs in the Ford booth, Vaughn Gittin Jr.'s carbon fiber RTR-C Mustang was by far our favorite. To answer the question everyone is wondering – no, it's not a wrap. The carbon fiber body panels are the real deal. According to Vaughn, the lightweight material saves 400-500 pounds, although some of that weight is added back thanks to the supercharger, larger brakes and headers. In total, the car weighs in at just over 3,350 pounds.

Aside from the exterior, we were impressed with the level of detail that went into building the car. Inside, the Sparco seats are also constructed of carbon fiber, and the rear seats have been taken out and replaced with a tasteful leather-covered panel. Even small things like the RTR logos look like they were made with an attention to detail.

Want one of your own? Vaughn will be selling a limited run of just 10 RTR-C Mustangs, although the price tag is a hefty $135,000. Still, if you do decide to drop the cash, you're guaranteed to have one of the 10 coolest Mustangs in the world

Vaughn Gittin's all-carbon fiber RTR-C Mustang