car2go, carsharing in the smart fortwo, comes to Austin, Texas this fall

You know what state needs more smart fortwos? Texas. That must have been Daimler's thinking before approving an expansion of the car2go carsharing service there. Daimler started car2go in Ulm, Germany last October and it will be coming to Austin, Texas - that little blueberry in the big red cherry pie of a state - this fall. There are now more than 200 fortwo cdi models that anyone in Ulm, visitor or resident, can rent by the minute, hour or day, 24/7. Costs range from 19 euro cents a minute to 9.90 euros an hour to 49 euros a day. Unlike other car-sharing services, registering for the car2go service is free. Daimler didn't release any information on possible pricing for the U.S. service.

Calling the Austin expansion "the next logical step," Daimler's Thomas Weber said that carsharing in the little fortwos is an "answer to current and future mobility needs in metropolitan areas." The main goal of the Austin service is to figuring how best to export the model to other countries. Basically, Daimler needs to figure out the issues with language, laws and layout. When the service starts this fall, only a small group of Austinites will be given access to the vehicles. Like in Ulm, if things go well, the user base will be expanded. Austin's fleet will start with 200 fortwo mhd (micro-hybrid) models. Hook 'em, smart.

BlueShift Motorcycles promises scary 200 lb ft of monster torque

In the past, when "blue shift" came up in conversations, it was usually a reference to the shortening of an object's wavelength as it moved towards you due to the Doppler effect. These discussions often led to eyes glazing and mouths yawning. No more. If the ambitions of the BlueShift Motorcycle Company are realized, the term may well become synonymous with the blur associated with a certain electric motorbike as it takes advantage of its 200 lb ft of torque. Yes, 200. If you're not sure whether that's a lot, consider that the awesome Mission One gets by with half of that while the EV-0 RR gets a little closer at 170.

Not much else is known about the Michigan company or their future product besides the torque figure. Their website was just updated from a simple static page to one with this teasing bit of info and a drawing of a very interesting looking bike. We have been in touch but can only say that they plan on having the BlueShift bike for sale next year and it will include some tech and features never before implemented on a motorcycle regardless of its source of power. We expect more details to drop soon and we'll inform you when they do.

Unveiled G-POWER X5 Typhoon

Tuning firm G-Power has released a new Typhoon performance package for the BMW X5 which features an aggressive exterior styling kit as well as the addition of a supercharger.

Under the hood, G-power modifies the 4.8-liter V8 engine's mapping software, installs new high flow fuel injectors, and adds a belt driven ASA T1-521 hd supercharger which boosts the engine's output from 355 hp and 475 Nm to 525 hp (386 kW) and 600 Nm of torque. The company also outfits the Typhoon with a two-piece carbon-fiber intake manifold, an aluminum intercooler, and a stainless steel G-Power high-performance exhaust with racing catalysts. Thanks to all these changes, the Typhoon sprints from 0-100 km/h in 5.0 seconds and has a top speed of 275 km/h (171 mph).

In order to give this high-performance model the styling it deserves, G-Power adds an extensive body kit that features an aggressive front apron with massive air intakes and highly stylized fender flares which provide additional clearance for the Silverstone Forged Edition forged wheels which are 11Jx23 front and 12Jx23 rear. Out back, the Typhoon features a diffuser, new rear apron, and two massive center-mounted tailpipes that each measure 114 mm in diameter (about 4.5"). Another interesting feature is the aerodynamic rocker panels which boast five integrated blue LED lights that are activated by the vehicle's keyless fob or by pulling on a door handle.

Japan Toyota Launches Redesigned Crown Majesta

Toyota has announced the redesigned Crown Majesta in Japan. The Crown Majesta rivals vehicles like the Nissan Fuga and the Honda Legend. Its wheelbase is 75mm longer than previously and helps bring the car's total length to just under 5 metres.

Two engines are supplied. One is the 4.3-litre V8 which is fitted to four-wheel-drive models with a 6 Super ECT transmission. The other is a 4.6-litre V8 with an 8-speed electronically-controlled gearbox. Only two-wheel-drive models will get this engine.

The interior has technologies such as an HDD navigation system with multi-media and map on demand features plus a Toyota Premium Sound system with 20 speakers.

The car is loaded with safety features. Included is a camera that detects pedestrians in at the front, a Pre-crash Seatbacks system that adjusts seats to an upright position for better safety if a collision is deemed imminent and an SRS (Supplemental Restraint System) rear-seat centre airbag. A total of ten airbags are included as standard.

By using road-map data the navigation system can assist the driver in merging smoothly with highway traffic from an onramp. It assists with informing of oncoming stop signs and intervenes to help if it detects that the driver will not react and brake quickly enough in an emergency by reducing vehicle speed.

Trim levels available are the Type A, the Type A "L Package", the Type G, the Type G "F Package", the Type C and the i-Four. They range in price from ¥6,100,000 to ¥6,900,000.

Kia to sell Forte hybrid car in Aug.

owerRating -- Kia Motors Corp., South Korea's second-largest automaker, will begin selling its first hybrid car later this year, featuring high-end lithium-ion battery technology, a company executive said Tuesday.

., said Kia will release the hybrid version of the Forte compact car in August for the South Korean market.

Neither Hyundai nor Kia currently sell commercial hybrid models, but have been stepping up their efforts to bring hybrid cars to the market in response to high gas prices and an increasing premium on fuel efficiency in the U.S.

Hyundai also plans to launch its Avante hybrid car later this year in South Korea, Lee said.

"Hyundai and Kia expect to sell about 40,000 units of the Avante and Forte hybrid cars this year," Lee told reporters at a press conference in Seoul.

The Forte hybrid, which runs on both liquid petroleum gas and electricity, is representative of "Kia's new strategy for eco-friendly management," the automaker said in a statement.

Equipped with a 1.6-liter gas-powered engine and a lithium-ion battery, the Forte hybrid can run 17.2 kilometers per liter with 114 horsepower at its peak, Kia said.

Conventional hybrid cars, including Toyota Motor Corp.'s Prius, use nickel-metal hydride batteries. Experts say lithium-ion batteries would allow automakers to significantly cut costs in building hybrid cars.

Hyundai plans to start selling its hybrid version of Sonata sedan in the U.S. market as early as 2010, the company said earlier.