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Toyota previews new C-HR crossover concept bound for Paris

Posted Sep 22nd 2014 10:00AM

Toyota C-HR concept teaser

We're now just a few weeks away from the start of the Paris Motor Show, and when the doors open at the Porte de Versailles, Toyota will be among the many automakers with new wares to show – including the new concept car pictured in this latest teaser image.

Called the C-HR, the concept is designed to represent an "innovative vision for a compact crossover model", incorporating "a new design language with an engaging driving experience and a hybrid powertrain." The Japanese industrial giant isn't saying much else, but the C-HR is set to debut alongside the finalized exterior design for its upcoming new fuel cell sedan.

Toyota, of course, became a pioneer in the compact crossover segment when it introduced the first-generation RAV4 way back in 1994. If the silhouette is anything to go by, however, the C-HR concept appears to adopt a far more streamlined form. Watch this space for more.

News Source: Toyota

Is Lamborghini readying a hybrid for Paris?

Posted Sep 22nd 2014 8:58AM

Lamborghini teaser

AsterionLamborghini had us seriously stumped when it released its teaser (above) for a new vehicle that'll debut at the upcoming Paris Motor Show. The image seemed to depict a fastback GT somewhat reminiscent of Lambo's earlier 2+2 models like the Espada, and was accompanied by the sentence, "Once perfection is achieved, you can just double it." We're still not entirely sure what the means, but a possible leaked logo for the car might offer some big hints about its powertrain.

According to the Office of Harmonization in the Internal Market in Europe, Lamborghini applied for a trademark on the name Asterion on September 15 to cover vehicles, clothing, toys and video games. The logo (right) included a lightning bolt slashing through the 'O' in the word. That could suggest this forthcoming vehicle is a hybrid, but it's also not clear whether we're going to be hearing about a pure concept, or a production model.

The name itself might also be a tell. Asterion is one of the names for the Minotaur in Greek mythology, which is a creature that is part bull and part man. This could be another indication that the concept combines the traditional Lamborghini style with something else.

The possibility of a hybrid Lamborghini really shouldn't be a total shock, though. The latest run of hypercars like the Ferrari LaFerrari and McLaren P1 already use the tech, and the company's own Aventador has capacitors to power its stop/start system. Still, we can't wait to see what the new Lambo has to show when it debuts on October 2.

Koenigsegg Agera recall proves one really is the loneliest number

Posted Sep 21st 2014 8:00PM

Koenigsegg Agera

Automotive recalls are often deadly serious matters of safety, but sometimes one comes around that makes you scratch your head and wonder, 'Why even bother?' That was the exactly the case with a newly reported campaign from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that bordered on the absurdly humorous. It concerned a single Koenigsegg Agera built in December 2012 as a 2013 model for the North America.

According to NHTSA, the tire pressure monitoring system in this Koenigsegg wasn't up to North America standards because it might not have illuminated the warning light when the vehicle was restarted. To fix things, the company had to find this single owner and have updated TPMS software installed on the supercar. The driver never reported this alleged problem ever actually occurring, and according to Koenigsegg's noncompliance notice, this was the only vehicle it had delivered in the US since 2011.

Clearly NHTSA was taking its duty to police vehicle safety very seriously with this recall. Scroll down to read the agency's full recall report or download the complete noncompliance notice as a PDF, here.

Related GalleryKoenigsegg Agera One:1
Koenigsegg Agera One:1Koenigsegg Agera One:1Koenigsegg Agera One:1Koenigsegg Agera One:1Koenigsegg Agera One:1Koenigsegg Agera One:1Koenigsegg Agera One:1Koenigsegg Agera One:1

Audi Q7 plug-in hybrid spied, Porsche powertrain possible

Posted Sep 21st 2014 6:00PM

Audi Q7 PHV: Spy Shots

It's no secret that a new Audi Q7 is on the way. The replacement for the aging, three-row luxury CUV has already been spotted once, in December of 2013. Now, though, we have images of the second-generation model lapping Germany's Nürburgring Nordschleife, and it just happens to be showing a feature we reported on at the end of July – a plug-in-hybrid powertrain.

Given away by its high-voltage stickers on the window and a spare door to hide the charger – note how both the driver and passenger sides sport an access point – our spies snapped a series of photos, and put forth the compelling idea that the new Q7 would use the PHV system from the Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid.

If that's the case, that should mean at least 320 horsepower from a 3.0-litre, supercharged V6, while an electric motor chips in a further 95 ponies for a total system output of 416 hp.

As for when the first Q7 PHV could arrive, our spies claim that the new model will debut in 2015, with the Hybrid available from the start. As for when it will debut, the Geneva Motor Show is always a solid candidate, although the other big shows – Detroit, New York and Shanghai – remain possibilities. Basically, this debut is still up in the air. Should that change, though, we'll be sure to make sure you know.

Image Credit: CarPix

Haas F1 secures engine deal with Ferrari

Posted Sep 21st 2014 4:00PM

Ferrari Power Unit

Plans are coming together for Gene Haas to launch his US-based Formula One team in 2016. The tooling magnate and NASCAR team owner has renamed his grand prix racing outfit from Haas Formula to Haas F1, he's setting up shop in North Carolina with a satellite location to be announced somewhere in Europe, and now he's penned an engine supply deal with Ferrari.

The deal doesn't come as such a surprise after Haas signed on as a sponsor with the Maranello squad a couple of months ago, but confirms the reinforcement of the partnership between the two teams. "The multi-year agreement," according to Ferrari in the statement below, "is for the supply of the entire power unit starting from 2016," including the engine, hybrid assist and presumably the gearbox as well. But that's not the extent of the deal.

Billed as a "technical collaboration agreement," the deal opens the door for Haas and Ferrari to cooperate even more closely than the latter does with existing powertrain customers Sauber and Marussia. "We believe this new partnership has the potential to evolve beyond the technical role of supplying our power unit and all related technical services," said Scuderia Ferrari team principal Marco Mattiacci.

Just what that will entail remains to be seen, but it appears that the parties are preparing for Haas to become something of a partner team to Ferrari – similar to what Red Bull has with Toro Rosso, only without the common ownership. FIA regulations prevent Haas from simply buying a chassis from Ferrari, but wouldn't preclude the American team from benefiting from the more experienced Italian squad's considerable know-how. It wouldn't be hard to imagine, then, that Haas could take the place of the North American Racing Team that served as Ferrari's proxy in the 1950s and 60s.

News Source: Ferrari

Fuel cells will flop outside Japan, says VW

Posted Sep 21st 2014 2:00PM

Toyota FCV

"It may fly within Japan, but not globally," VW's Shoji said.

It's long been battered into our beleaguered auto writer brains that the ultimate future source of motivation for tomorrow's cars and trucks is not gasoline, diesel, electricity, natural gas, propane or solar power – it's the hydrogen fuel cell. It's been the Next Big Thing since the start of Next Big Things.

Despite decades of prophesizing, the availability of fuel-cell vehicles and the infrastructure to go with them remains exceedingly limited. And to hear Volkswagen explain it, things aren't poised to get any better any time soon.

The German manufacturer's Japanese president, Shigeru Shoji, tells Bloomberg that FCVs aren't likely to catch on beyond Japan's borders, where the vehicles have a shot at catching on due to huge subsidies offered by the government. Hydrogen buyers in Japan can receive up to $28,500 in breaks from the government if they adopt the zero-emissions vehicles.

"It may fly within Japan, but not globally," Shoji told Bloomberg in an interview.

The heart of the issue rests, not surprisingly, with costs. Because storing and transporting hydrogen and building out the necessary infrastructure to make it available to consumers is so pricey the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe – which as Bloomberg explains it, is targeting a "hydrogen society" – needs to incentivize adoption.

Volkswagen's statement comes as Toyota prepares to launch a fuel-cell vehicle (shown above) on the American West Coast. With sales slated to kick off year, Toyota expects the cost to fill up the FCV to start at around $50 before falling to $30. VW, doesn't seem too sure of that, though.

"There are still a lot of questions lingering about how practical it is even though Toyota launches next year," VW spokesman Yasuo Maruta told Bloomberg. "By the time it gets very usable by the normal customers, it's maybe still a decade or two decades away."

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News Source: Bloomberg

Nissan could have bought a stake in Aston Martin as early as 2012

Posted Sep 21st 2014 12:00PM

Aston Martin

Aston Martin has a very interesting future ahead of it. While the British brand appeared to be struggling with aging tech for a while, fresh investment from Daimler may have shown a light toward the future with the brand getting engines and electronics from them. Also, former Renault-Nissan top exec Andy Palmer has jumped ship from the French/Japanese automaker to become CEO of the much smaller sports car company. Interestingly, though, new reports from unnamed Nissan sources have indicated that Palmer has been pushing to work with AM for years.

Three unnamed company insiders told Reuters that Palmer made attempts to convince Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn in 2012 and 2013 to invest in Aston Martin, but his proposals were shot down both times for unspecified reasons, according to Automotive News. "We looked carefully at the proposal but we passed on it," said one of the sources.

You can easily see why Palmer was eying Aston Martin even back in 2012. It's no secret that the British sports car mavens were in need of extra funding, well before the Daimler investment. Building vehicles these days is only getting more expensive with stronger safety and emissions requirements. Just look at the brand's desperate hope to get a side-impact crash exemption to keep selling its models in the US as an example.

Still, It's fun to imagine automotive history going a very different way than it has. Think of the possibility of Aston Martin models using Nissan V8s or even the turbo V6 from the GT-R, but wrapped in the British brand's svelte styling, or that the rumours of Mercedes and AM possibly sharing platforms in the future were instead with Infiniti or Renault.

News Source: Automotive News - sub. req.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Michael Harley / AOL

Leno drives Volvo P1800 from Roger Moore's The Saint

Posted Sep 21st 2014 10:00AM

Volvo P1800 from The Saint

Outside of a few notable exceptions, Volvo usually isn't associated with making beautifully curvaceous vehicles. But in the 1960s and early '70s the company proved with the P1800 that its cars didn't only have to be safe but staid family transportation. Underneath that shapely styling were a lot of components from the brand's parts bin, but that didn't bother Roger Moore when he drove one of these in the TV series The Saint. Actually, the future James Bond actor didn't just get behind of one of these; he owned this exact 1967 P1800 S. It's this week's highlight on Jay Leno's Garage.

Moore was the car's original owner, but it also appeared in studio scenes of The Saint. Despite its famous provenance, when owner Bill Krzastek bought the P1800 in England, it was in pretty rough shape. The Volvo underwent a nine-month restoration to get it back into shape, which included some new body panels and wheels. Krzastek claims that much of the interior is original, though.

Krzastek comes off has a little bit nerdy, but you have to give him credit. He absolutely loves his Volvo and knows something about practically every detail of his car's history. Krzastek even refinanced his house to fund the purchase and restoration of the P1800. Although, with the right maintenance these old Swedes have been known to go millions of miles. Enjoy this look at one that was a star of the screen in the '60s.

News Source: Jay Leno's Garage via YouTube

Geely to provide engines to Formula 4

Posted Sep 21st 2014 8:00AM

Geely-powered Formula 4 racer

Formula One may get the lion's share of attention, but it's far from the only formula racing series. The FIA Formula E Championship just kicked off in China this past weekend, for example – and while FIA President Jean Todt was in town, he also announced the latest engine supplier for the Formula 4.

Up until now, the FIA had certified three automakers to supply engines for Formula 4 – and they've all been European. But for the first time, a Chinese automaker has joined in on the action. That Chinese automaker is Geely, perhaps best known on these pages as the parent company of Volvo, but a major player in the Chinese market in its own right.

Starting next season, Geely will supply a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine – similar to the one that powers its GX7 sport-ute and Emgrand EC8 sedan, but tuned for racing use – to the Chinese Formula 4 series. The new series is kicking off later this year with a seven-race calendar. After that, and with FIA certification in place, the door will be open for Geely to supply its engine to other local F4 championships as well.

News Source: Geely

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