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Detroit Auto Show prankster 'damages' hundreds of thousands of dollars in cars

  • Detroit Auto Show prankster 'damages' hundreds of thousands of dollars in cars
  • 2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk [w/video]
  • 2017 Jaguar XE
  • Ford reveals new F-150 Raptor packs 450 horsepower

Volvo planning more Cross Country models

Posted Feb 1st 2015 2:00PM



Back in August we had a chance to sit down with Volvo Senior VP Lex Kerssemakers at the unveiling of the new XC90, when he told us all about the company's plans to completely revitalize its lineup within the next four years. Cross Country models, he assured us when asked, would be a big part of that. Given how that sub-brand had played out until then, we assumed at the time that would mean more jacked-up soft-road wagons, but with the reveal of the S60 Cross Country, Gothenburg showed its preparedness to leave that assumption on the dusty road behind it. Now the latest reports confirm that there will be more to come.

Speaking with Autocar, Kerssemakers – who was just appointed to the additional role of overseeing the Americas – confirmed that more Cross Country models will follow. The thing is that there aren't that many models left in the company's lineup that have yet to receive the treatment. Just one, really.

The company currently produces the V40, S60, V60, S80, V70 (and XC70), XC60 and XC90. The XC crossovers are ready for rough roads (unless even more rugged versions are planned) and the V40, S60, V60 and V70 have already undergone the Cross Country conversion.

That leaves just the S80, a model which – in its current iteration – has been on the market for the better part of a decade. Given what it's done with the S60 and V60, Volvo could still conceivably give the S80 the same off-road treatment it did long ago with the V70/XC70. But the likelier situation would see it designing a Cross Country version into the new S90 that's set to replace it soon. And therein lies the open door to the additional Cross Country models Kerssemakers is hinting at.

With each one of its models set to be replaced over the course of the next four years, and additional models to join the family, there's nothing to stop Volvo from jacking up the suspensions and beefing up the lower bodywork on every model it makes, moving forward. That could include the next generation of V40, S60, V60, but also the new S40 and S90 sedans and the new V90 set to finally replace the V70 wagon.

Along with the XC60, new XC90 and upcoming XC40, those will form the backbone of Volvo's forthcoming lineup, and each one can be expected to get the Cross Country treatment. More intriguing, however, is the prospect of a Cross Country coupe or shooting brake – something Volvo hinted at with the XC Coupe concept last year. The Swedish automaker has said that two- and three-door models are not among its top priorities as it works to replace its core four- and five-door models over the coming years, but that's not to say it couldn't reconsider a few years down the line. And part of us hopes it does.

News Source: Volvo

Saints Row video sends up Top Gear with motorized, machine-gunned Barcalounger

Posted Feb 1st 2015 12:00PM



As the Grand Theft Auto series has created more lifelike video game worlds for players to experience, the Saints Row franchise has embraced fantasy by letting people pretty much just fly around and completely ignore reality. The latest standalone expansion, Saints Row: Gat out of Hell, further drops any pretense of realism by changing the game setting to the afterlife.

To convey just how weird things get, the developers are parodying Top Gear with a segment they call Gat Gear. Unfortunately, the impressionist mimicking Jeremy Clarkson does a pretty poor job at the host's voice, but the show features a real-life version of the Armchair-a-geddon that's also in the game. The vehicle is a giant, tartan recliner with a minigun sticking out from each arm, and The Stag gets to take it for spin around London. See for yourself.

News Source: Saints Row via YouTube

Toyota holds onto crown of World's Largest Automaker

Posted Feb 1st 2015 10:01AM



Although there were hints and allegations that the Volkswagen Group might have taken the global sales crown for 2014, the final tally puts Toyota at the top with 10.23 million sales in 2014. We should really say it keeps Toyota at the top, since that makes three years in a row the Japanese company has been No. 1. Volkswagen Group came in second with 10.14 million units sold, General Motors in third with 9.92 million units sold.

This the first time for both Toyota and Volkswagen to pass 10 million sales in a single year. Toyota, including its Hino and Daihatsu divisions, did it with a three-percent increase in company-wide sales on the back of strong demand in Japan and North America. Its strength in developed markets might be the reason it loses the title this year, though; Toyota forecasts a two-per cent gain in sales outside of Japan, but a nine-per cent drop in its home market because of a new consumption tax that encouraged buyers to purchase before the end of last year. On top of that, turmoil in Southeast Asian economies like Thailand and Indonesia were down in 2014 and facing more headwinds. The company envisions 10.15 million sales in 2015.

Volkswagen, on the other hand, "has a jet engine strapped to its back called 'China,'" where Toyota is out-of-sorts. Volkswagen Group sales fell 2.9 per cent in the US last year, while Toyota gained 6.2 per cent here in North America. But Volkswagen roped in 3.7 million sales in China, a 12-per cent increase. Toyota enjoyed a huge bump of 12.5 per cent in China, but that only got it to 1.03 million units, missing its yearly target and leading to trouble with its Chinese dealers over unsold inventory.

With Toyota on the Chinese sidelines while Volkswagen guns for No. 1 status and pledges more production capacity in China – sales there are expected to top 25 million units this year – it looks like this could be the year the VW Group takes over the lead. That would be three years ahead of its original target of 2018. An analyst in Japan said Toyota is more focused on "keeping profitability than chasing numbers" – profitability is an issue for VW right now – so Toyota might not be back at the top "for [the] coming years."

Industrial designer seeking classic car, sketches his finds as he shops

Posted Jan 31st 2015 8:01PM



Bruce Thomson Car SketchesThe process of shopping for a vintage car can be both a joy and a nightmare. Wrapped up with the exciting opportunity of owning a classic is the anxiety of picking just the right one. Canadian industrial design professor Bruce Thomson and his wife are chronicling all of those ups and downs in a fascinating way. On their blog Kicking Vintage Tyres, Bruce exploits his talent as an expert draftsman to create detailed sketches of the vehicles they are considering, along with driving impressions of each one.

The idea for the site started on a whim. After selling his 1971 Mercedes-Benz 220 a while back, it was time to own another classic. Bruce was looking at a Triumph TR6, and a friend asked for a description of the car. Bruce responded with a massive email detailing everything he saw, and the concept for the blog was born. "It dawned on me early that my search was not going to be as easy or as quick as I had expected," he said to Autoblog in an email. "I decided that the best thing I could do would be to make a sort of 'game' out of the search by sharing it with others."

Thomson's sketches truly set the blog apart. He clearly has an exceptional eye for a car's lines and often mixes his drawings with inset depictions of key portions of the vehicle. Beyond just the fabulous diagrams, the site is a great read too.

While the TR6 initially topped the list, Thomson's search has broadened over time, and a Series 2 Alfa Romeo Spider and BMW 3.0CS also received consideration. "I'd not commit myself to any preferences though, as my head is easily turned," he said. The criteria are that the car must have a manual gearbox, be made between 1959 and 1976, preferably European, hopefully a convertible and cost 15,000-25,000 Canadian dollars. No matter how long it takes, this is a wonderful hunt to follow along with.

Related GalleryBruce Thomson Car Sketches
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News Source: Kicking Vintage Tyres via Core77

Mitsubishi bringing SUV 'Legend' to the Chicago Auto Show

Posted Jan 31st 2015 6:01PM



Mitsubishi claims that "a legend" is returning to its ranks at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show in February. Its save-the-date to the Windy City event just depicts an indistinguishable crossover sitting on top of a sand dune as the only hint of what the Japanese brand has in store.

However, according to company spokesperson Alex Fedorak this isn't an entirely new vehicle. Mitsubishi is giving the GC-PHEV concept (pictured below) its North American debut, after originally unveiling it at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show. While it's purely a concept, the vehicle is "a designer's rendering of what a new Montero could look like," said Fedorak to Autoblog. While Mitsu is not committing to putting the chunky CUV into production yet, the press conference is going to "talk about what role if any it plays in our future," he said.

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News Source: Mitsubishi

Image Credit: Related images copyright 2015 Noah Joseph / AOL

Chevy Silverado Midnight Edition coming to Chicago

Posted Jan 31st 2015 4:02PM



Between the GMC Canyon Nightfall Edition and Chevy Silverado Custom Sport, the truck divisions of General Motors had no lack of blacked-out custom pickups to showcase at the Detroit Auto Show this year. But now the General has announced one more.

Called the Midnight Edition, for this special Silverado blacks out all the trim, including the grille, bumpers, headlamp bezels, tow hooks, fog lamps, side and beltline moldings, 19-inch wheels, bedliner and bowtie emblems. It's based on the Silverado 1500 with the Z71 package, so it also boasts an off-road suspension, locking rear differential, hill-descent control and trailering pack. While it was at it, Chevy has also thrown in rear park assist and power heated door mirrors.

Buyers will be able to choose between double- or crew-cab models, but no more than 5,000 examples will be produced this year, each priced at a premium pegged between US$1,595 and US$1,995 (depending on the model). The Silverado Midnight edition debuts today at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in San Francisco and will be showcased at the Chicago Auto Show next month, around the time that deliveries will commence. No word on Canadian availability or pricing yet. Stay tuned.

News Source: Chevrolet

Top 10 Most Evil Looking Classic Cars

Posted Jan 31st 2015 2:00PM



There's no question that cars have their own distinct personas, especially older cars of the classic variety. Some cars ooze utilitarian functionality, some cars ooze cute and bubbly, and some cars ooze sinister looking, evil design.

In 2015 it's easy to lose sight of some of these classic characteristics. With the design of so many mass market production cars geared towards ultimate fuel economy and performance numbers, they often end up losing their styling personas in the mad rush of the "my car gets better fuel mileage than yours" wars.

In tribute to the design days-gone-by, the car gurus at Hagerty have put together an excellent list of the Top 10 Most Evil Looking Classic Cars. According to Hagerty, "Here are a handful of production cars that look as if they could scatter children and make law-abiding citizens run for their lives." Check them out in our photo gallery.

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News Source: Hagerty

Image Credit: Flickr - Respective Users

Jaguar Land Rover's latest tech makes roads safer for bikes [w/video]

Posted Jan 31st 2015 12:01PM



Safety in automobiles isn't just about protecting the occupants anymore. It's about protecting pedestrians who might be struck by an automobile, and as Jaguar Land Rover is demonstrating, it's about protecting cyclists as well.

The latest experimental safety system from the British automaker is called Bike Sense, and it builds upon technologies the company has demonstrated recently, taking them a step further to make the road safer for those riding on two wheels. The system uses a combination of colors, sounds and vibrations to alert the driver of a potential hazard that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.

Demonstrated on an XJ sedan, the system identifies nearby two-wheeled vehicles as pedal-powered or motorized, and alerts the driver accordingly. If a cycle is passing a the vehicle's blind spot, the top of the seat will vibrate to virtually "tap" the driver on the left or right shoulder, prompting him or her to look over that shoulder for the hazard. LEDs inside the cabin will then illuminate amber to red in the direction that the bike is passing.

The system will even chime a bicycle bell or motorcycle horn as the two-wheeled vehicle approaches, and vibrate or stiffen the accelerator pedal if the driver keeps moving towards the obstacle. And if an occupant of the parked vehicle starts to open the door into the path of moving vehicle, it'll flash a light, sound an alarm and even vibrate the door handle to warn the occupant of the oncoming hazard.

We could imagine the alerts getting a little distracting, but JLR says the system is designed to prioritize potential hazards when their are groups of pedestrians, bicyclists and/or motorcycle riders on a busy urban street.

This is, of course, just the latest in a long string of new systems JLR has under development, following such technologies as the Transparent Bonnet, the Smart Assistant, the Virtual Windscreen for track sessions and the 360 Virtual Urban Windscreen for city driving.

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News Source: Jaguar Land Rover

Image Credit: Jaguar Land Rover

2014 BMW i3, i8 sales strong enough to reach almost 17,800 last year

Posted Jan 31st 2015 10:00AM



BMW makes its futuristic i brand vehicles – the i3 and i8 – at a plant in Leipzig, Germany. But the customers most willing to buy one of these plug-in cars live where the lightweight carbon fiber used in the body structure is made: North America.

Speaking at the Detroit Auto Show a couple of weeks ago, Ian Robertson, member of the Board of Management at BMW AG, said, "The US and North America is already our largest market for our electric vehicles, the BMW i3 and BMW i8. Worldwide, we sold close to 18,000 BMW i models last year. Nearly three-quarters of these sales occurred in the second half of the year, when the global rollout really got underway. Demand for these vehicles continues to be high and I'm delighted that we've been able to increase production to meet that demand."

That sounds great, but the numbers aren't huge. Globally, BMW sold over two million vehicles in 2014, and 17,793 of those were plug-in i vehicles (16,052 of the i3 and 1,741 i8s). The production increase wasn't huge. BMW was making just 10 i8 vehicles a day at the beginning, but doubled that to 20 last fall. Since last spring (around April or May), the company has been making over 100 i3s a day, BMW spokesperson Verena Von L'estocq tells AutoblogGreen. Getting production right this first year has meant slow going, but "We're comfortable now," she said, adding that BMW expects more production increases in the future.

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Image Credit: BMW, Copyright 2014: Mark Pereira / AOL

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