Caractere styling kit for Audi A5 Cabrio

After unveiling their sexy body kit for the Audi A5/S5 coupe last year, Caractere has decided to offer a similar series of styling accessories for the new A5/S5 Cabrio.

The most noticeable change is an aggressive front bumper which features massive air intakes and integrated fog lights. Out back, the sporty styling theme continues as Caractere offers a bold rear diffuser with optional tailpipe exhaust tips. The company also markets their unique CW1 wheels which are available in 19" and 20" sizes.

Although pricing information wasn't released, the styling accessories are currently on sale.

Ferrari F430 catches fire after accident

This week is turning out to be a bad one for owners of supercars, as a second high priced exotic has burst into flames.

Unlike the McLaren F1 which caught on fire spontaneously in California, this Ferrari F430 went up in smoke after an accident outside of Sibiu, Romania. Although no one was seriously injured in this fierily Ferrari wreck, the car was a total loss.

The accident occurred when the Ferrari's driver lost control and hit two oncoming vehicles which resulted in the F430 winding up in a field where a fire started in the engine compartment. Fortunately none of the other people involved were hurt and the driver and passenger escaped from the Ferrari inferno unharmed as well. However, the driver was ticketed 40 euros for the crash.

Volkswagen SuperlightCar project reduces weight of Golf shell by 30-percent

We just learned about a project from Audi that resulted in an experimental lightweight S5 that was capable of lapping the famed Nürburgring racetrack in Germany eight seconds quicker than the normal S5, despite having a 100 horsepower disadvantage. It seems that a number of other automakers are also in on the project, including Renault, Volvo, Opel, Daimler and Volkswagen, Audi's parent company.

VW reportedly assembled three separate five-door Golf bodyshells, one solely using steel, one using a mixture of low-cost materials and one using nothing but exotic, high-tech materials. According to Autocar in the UK, these concepts reduced the overall weight of the Golf's shell by between 20- and 41-percent, with the best combination of price and weight savings boasting a 30-percent weight reduction.

Besides the desirable weight loss program, these shells also needed to be at least as safe as a standard steel bodyshell and be viable for mass production. The first production vehicles using this innovative process are expected in 2012.

Electric vehicle "glut" might be coming, so watch these five companies

Here's an interesting concept: too many electric cars. While even the most optimistic EV proponents don't see electric cars making a huge dent in the number of traditional ICE vehicles any time soon, a powertrain analyst for J.D. Power and Associates, thinks that there soon (within the next decade) might be a "glut" of plug-in cars. Go figure.

Tesla’s Roadster is the only highway capable electric vehicle commercially available. Yet, J.D. Power and Associates Mike Omotoso, a powertrain analyst tells Earth2Tech, “There is a strong possibility of an EV glut” in the next ten years.

How do we get from one electric car model to too many electric cars in ten years? There's two fundamental problems with the EV market: Gas is still cheap and the projected sticker price for electrics will scare people away. If an "affordable" electric car costs $45,000, then it will be hard to get buyers on board.

Those issues could resolved in the next few years. Oil is expected to rise in price, along with it the price of gas. Also, over time, EV sticker prices should fall.

Even if those problems resolve themselves, there will still be another issue--there's a bunch of startups and traditional automakers building electric cars and plug-in hybrids. Everyday it seems like there's a new electric car being announced by someone. Only so many of these companies will make it to market and compete. Here's the five we think have the best chance:

Nissan: It's been working on its battery technology for over 15 years. Nissan is almost ready to deliver. The company has firm plans in place to roll out electric cars in the next three years. It's rumored to have received a $1.1 billion loan for building a factory in Tennessee. It wants to be aggressive on price and volume. It's serious about the electric game.

Toyota's plug-in Prius: The Prius is already a success. Now Toyota is testing plug-in hybrid versions of the car around the world, in preparation for a mass commercial launch. Take the basic concept of the Prius and ratchet it up, and we think the company has a hit on its hands.

GM's Volt: The Volt is in this group because it's explicitly backed by the U.S. government. The government wants GM to succeed. It also wants the Volt to succeed. The Volt will be pricey, and sales are not guaranteed, but we think it's got a good chance, if for no other reason beyond pride. GM will stick by the car until it's a winner. We also think people will want the car. It's good looking and drives pretty nicely.

Tesla's Model S: The company may not make it as Tesla, but now that Daimler has a 10% stake in the company, we think in a worst-case scenario, it becomes the electric arm of Daimler. Tesla already has the Roadster, and its Model S is 90% ready, though it will be pricey, might attract a decent population of buyers.

Coda Sedan: This company has the longest odds on this little list. It's advantage: It will be first on the market with an electric sedan by the end of next year. It's sticker price is $45,000, but factor in a tax credit, and the savings on gas, and the price for a driver is on par with a regular sedan. If this startup can convince 'early-adopter' types to purchase the car in the years that follow, the automaker could establish itself as a real player while the bigger companies try to get their feet underneath them.

Eighth-generation Toyota Land Cruiser launched

Toyota Kirloskar Motors launched its eighth generation Land Cruiser SUV in India on Tuesday. "In spite of the recent slowdown, the premium SUV segment has witnessed a growth, driven largely by the introduction of new models," TKM deputy managing director (marketing) Sandeep Singh said. The new SUV is 4-wheel drive model and an upgraded model of the existing version in the Indian market.
The 8th generation Toyota Land Cruiser in India. The SUV is powered by a 4.5 L V8 diesel engine generating 286 PS, and a maximum torque of 650 Nm, with 6 speed automatic transmission. It will be available in two options - one will have 9 speakers and the other will have an advanced 6 DVD, 14 JBl premium speaker system with EMV screen and a Moon Roof. These options will be available at Rs. 81.64 lakh and Rs. 83.1 lakh (ex-showroom, Thane) respectively. The new gen SUV offers the ultimate four-wheel-drive and has unparalleled cutting-edge technology and comfort features. With over 50 years of rich heritage it has sold over 5 million units globally.
Currently Toyota sells stripped down model of Land Cruiser at Rs. 40 lakh in India. The new SUV is imported as a completely built unit in India and is priced heavily due to the duty it attracts as a CBU.