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Porsche prioritizes 200,000-unit sales target over exclusivity [w/poll]

Posted Aug 30th 2014 4:00PM

Porsche Panamera production

Would a Porsche still be a Porsche if it weren't as exclusive? That's the question which industry pundits are asking – and customers may soon as well – as the German automaker emerges from the fringe in pursuit of larger volumes.

A dozen years ago Porsche was barely selling over 50,000 units per annum. In a sales surge that has gathered pace as fast as a 911 Turbo, however, it was already hovering around the 100,000-unit mark a few years later. Last year it sold over 160,000, and has targeted 200,000 units by 2018. But it may not even take that long.

Automotive News reports that Porsche has advanced its targets to reach for 200,000 units by the end of this year or the next. The bump in sales would be driven particularly by the introduction of the new Macan, of which it aims to sell 50,000 units annually, starting next year. The Cayenne currently stands far and away as its most successful model. The 911 and Panamera have swapped second place a few times over the past five years, followed by the Boxster and Cayman.

Porsche's pursuit of higher volumes is mirrored by that of Maserati, which has been pursuing a similar path but at lower volumes. Maserati sold barely more than 6,000 units last year, but with the introduction of the new Ghibli sedan and upcoming Levante crossover, aims to reach 50,000 units next year. Ferrari, conversely, has actually been reducing production in order to maintain exclusivity and profitability.

Will Porsche's drive to 200,000 sales erode its desirability?

News Source: Automotive News - sub. req.

Image Credit: Porsche

Formula E gets wireless-charging BMW i8 safety car [w/video]

Posted Aug 30th 2014 2:00PM

BMW i8 Formula E Safety Car

Racing series typically select a safety car appropriate to the kinds of racecars for which they'll be setting the pace. So you might find a Mercedes SLS pacing a Formula One grand prix, for example, and you're more likely to find a BMW M4 on duty at a DTM race and a Chevy Camaro or SS on an oval speedway for a NASCAR or Indy race. It would only stand to reason, then, that the FIA Formula E Championship kicking off next month in Beijing would press a plug-in into service as its safety car. But the organizers didn't go for your run-of-the-mill Nissan Leaf or Toyota Prius.

No, the safety car for Formula E will be a BMW i8 specially modified for the occasion. As you can see from the video below, the hybrid sports car packs a full roll cage, racing buckets with harnesses, special communications systems and on-board fire extinguishers. But that's not all.

In partnership with technological partner Qualcomm, the Formula E support fleet – including two examples each of the i8 and i3 – will feature inductive charging. So while one is out on the track, or at least sitting at the end of the pit lane waiting to be deployed – the other will be charging wirelessly. The vehicles are still pending FIA approval, and only one has been outfitted with the Qualcomm Halo wireless charging system (with the others to be retrofitted later), but they were all on hand for the recent practice race at Donnington Park.

The Qualcomm Safety Car, as it will officially be known, will be driven by longtime WTCC safety car driver Bruno Correia of Portugal. Although no mention is made in the press release or the presentation video below, it's not hard to imagine that the Formula E series might seek to adopt this technology for the racers as well in the near future.

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News Source: Formula E, ElectricAutosport via YouTube

A man, his motorcycle, and his Macaw

Posted Aug 30th 2014 11:58AM

Macaw flying with owner on scooter

To those of us who weren't blessed with feathers and wings – hey, at least we've got thumbs, right? – the ability to take to the air, travel huge distances from amazing heights, only to land right back where we started from is the stuff of fantasies. In fact, it's probably the most common answer to the age-old "Which super power would you most like to have" question of our youth.

Watching the video below, it's easy to see why flight is such an amazing method of travel. While our protagonists require two wheels, gasoline for their internal combustion engine and a heavy dose of concentration in order not to end up with a terrible case of road rash, their fine feathered friend looks to have a much easier path, the Macaw floating as it does across an invisible cushion of air.

We're jealous. Not just of the Macaw's ability to fly, but also of the man who's bright green best friend accompanies him on these wind-in-the-hair coastal journeys. Watch the video below to see what we mean.

News Source: waterskizone via YouTube

This forgotten Chrysler was its bid for Humvee contract

Posted Aug 30th 2014 10:01AM

Chrysler Humvee Proposal

Today, the Humvee might be as associated with the dead automotive brand from General Motors as it is with the hard-working truck that has long served as one of the backbone vehicles of America's military. But Autoline host John McElroy is showing off a practically unknown part of the model's story by digging out some old photos from his personal archive.

The High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle project, better known today as the Humvee, can be traced back to a US Department of Defense request for bids to build a new military truck. According to McElroy, he was invited to the Chrysler proving grounds in 1981 to check out the bid from the brand's defense division. The company's concept was that it might be able to build an inexpensive, capable vehicle by using off-the-shelf parts.

The angular body panels gave the truck a look almost like a modern, stealth vehicle. However, the flat look was actually just to make the tooling as cheap as possible to produce. Still, this Chrysler looked surprisingly futuristic for the early '80s. It's actually not too far away from the famous Lamborghini LM002, itself intended as a possible military-spec machine.

Obviously, Chrysler's proposal never made it to production, but it's interesting to think that if history had gone differently, this could have been America's military vehicle rather than the Hummer. Fast-forward to the 3:35-mark in the video to get the full scoop on this forgotten piece of automotive history.

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News Source: Autoline Network via YouTube

Image Credit: Chrysler

Dodge and Jeep recalling 895k SUVs for possibility of headliner fires

Posted Aug 30th 2014 9:00AM

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Dodge and Jeep are announcing recalls of a total of 895,000 Durango and Grand Cherokee models worldwide from the 2011 through 2014 model years. There's a possibility that the wiring in the sun visor can short circuit and cause a fire. It specifically affects vehicles built between January 5, 2010, and December 11, 2013, and there are approximately 651,000 of them in the US, 45,700 in Canada, 23,000 in Mexico and 175,000 outside of North America.

Screws that fasten the sunvisor to the headliner may pierce wires in the visor, if the part has been removed or serviced, potentially causing a fire risk. If the wires short circuit, they could overheat and potentially combust. The automakers report three injuries caused by this defect, and according to the investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "there may be a total of 52 unique fire incidents."

To fix the problem, Dodge and Jeep will inspect the vehicles for suspect wiring, and all of the models, whether damaged or not, will get a new sun visor spacer with a wire guide to stop the possibility of short circuits. According to the automakers' announcement, "this condition is not present in vehicles which have not had the headliner or vanity mirror serviced." They will notify affected owners, and repairs will begin in August.

NHTSA began its investigation into the potential problems last year. It initially started with only the Grand Cherokee, but the Dodge Durango was added later as well because it uses the same headliner assembly. Scroll down to read the automakers' announcement, the NHTSA recall report and a summary of the regulator's investigation. The full defect notice can be downloaded as a PDF, here.

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News Source: Chrysler Group, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, [1]

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Michael Harley, Jonathon Ramsey / AOL

The sunniest Ferrari collection you've ever seen, shot for Forza mag

Posted Aug 29th 2014 8:00PM

Ferrari Collection in Tennessee

There's a stable of about 40 beautiful prancing horses hiding in a Tennessee garage. These thoroughbreds aren't out to win the next Triple Crown, though. Instead, this is one of the best collections of Ferraris in the world where you would probably least expect it.

Photographer and auto journalist Clint Davis went there to write a story about collector Phil Bachman for the Ferrari-focused Forza magazine, and he took some dazzling photographs to go along with his words. At the same time, he brought along a friend to film their day meeting Bachman and his sublime collection.

Amassing this many sensational vehicles would be amazing anyway, but Bachman takes his Ferrari obsession even further. He prefers to get his cars in yellow and tries to get the last production example of a given model. In fact, he already has a reservation for the final LaFerrari. You can probably figure out in what color. Keep your eyes open here for glimpses of a plethora of vintage beauties, but the star of the show might be a yellow FXX.

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News Source: Clint Davis, Keown Films via Vimeo

Men confront police at unmarked sneaky speed trap

Posted Aug 29th 2014 7:00PM

Scotland Yard in an unmarked speed trap

"I fought the law and the law won." So goes the song originated by the Bobby Fuller Four and popularized by the Clash. And with good reason, because typically when an average citizen challenges the authority of law enforcement, they end up at the wrong end of its long arm. That's what makes this situation so unusual.

A couple of ordinary citizens in Glasgow, Scotland, happened upon an unmarked police vehicle stationed at the side of the road with a radar gun fixed on passing traffic. The thing is, apparently local laws state that police officers setting up a speed trap need to be doing so in clearly marked vehicles – and those yellow emergency vests probably don't qualify.

Watch the video clip to see what happens when the citizens confront the police on foot, then read more about it in the Daily Mail.

News Source: Daily Mail, Jennifer via YouTube, Visordown

Elon Musk says 'right on' to letter asking for new Tesla Model S features

Posted Aug 29th 2014 6:00PM

Elon Musk Responds To Ad, Says Tesla Changes Coming Soon
If you want to get Tesla CEO Elon Musk's attention, taking out a full-page ad in his local newspaper will apparently do the trick (see video above). That's what two self-proclaimed "very highly satisfied" Model S owners did, asking for a few small changes in the popular EV. In response, Musk Tweeted a picture of the ad and wrote, "Ad taken out in Palo Alto Daily [News] by two Model S owners is right. Many of the suggestions will be implemented soon." The ad also appeared in the Palo Alto Weekly.

You can watch the video outlining the requests by clicking above, but we'll mention some of them here. Improved voice-activated phone dialing, better sensors (like blind-spot monitors), redesigned sun visor, automatically closing charging port door and then the big one: Tesla ads.

Tesla isn't talking about when the new features will be available, but if any of those items are unlikely in the near future, it's Tesla advertisements. After all, why pay for media attention when a simple Tweet about other people paying for your ad can get tremendous amounts of attention?


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Red Bull captures F1 action in all its thermal glory

Posted Aug 29th 2014 5:00PM

Red Bull RB8 in infrared

Remember a few months ago when BMW released thermal imagery of one of its M4 DTM touring cars coming in for a pit stop? That was pretty cool, but this is even cooler.

The Red Bull Racing team has partnered with Oregon-based thermal-imaging company FLIR Systems to capture its Formula One racers with cutting-edge infrared cameras. The results, as you can see from this video clip, are quite stunning, showing where the heat builds up in a modern grand prix car – predictably enough around the tires, engine and exhaust, though we're sure it gets pretty hot inside the cockpit, too. Check out the footage right here.

News Source: FLIR Systems via YouTube, Carscoops

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