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Here are the most disliked car brands of 2014

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FIA says FRIC no to trick suspensions in F1

Posted Sep 1st 2014 9:00AM

Pastor Maldonado's Lotus at the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix

There are few fields in the world where you'll find engineers working as feverishly as they do in Formula One. With races sometimes won and lost by fractions of a second, every little bit counts, so each team retains legions of engineers, all dedicated to finding the tiniest performance edge... without running afoul of the ever-constricting regulations.

This season, one of the most controversial advances has been known as FRIC, and while it's been effectively sidelined for the last few races, reports from the motorsport press indicate that is has now officially been banned by the FIA.

So just what is FRIC? It stands for Front and Rear Inter-Connected suspension. Now, if you're thinking that independent suspensions are the most advanced form available, you're right, but F1 teams have been toying for years with ways to interlink the suspensions at each wheel. Why, you ask? For a number of reasons. For one, it allows for redistribution of suspension dive at the front or rear, which means that under hard braking or acceleration – when the car would either pitch back or forward – the car can be kept more stable. That, in turn, means not only are all four tires loaded evenly and optimally, but the team can also run a more aggressive aero package. It also means that the car can be set up with a softer suspension, allowing the driver to attack the curbs more aggressively, without sacrificing underbody aerodynamics.

Several teams had been running FRIC systems that move hydraulic fluid between the front and rear suspensions, but voluntarily agreed to cease using them for the last two races at Hockenheim and Budapest. Now, the FIA, having apparently deemed FRIC an unfair advantage in contravention of the sporting regulations, has reportedly banned the system altogether. So while those cars may not be running on an even keel any more, at least they'll all be on an even playing field.

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Government pushes for life sentence for auto execs found to delay recalls

Posted Sep 1st 2014 8:00AM

GOP Groups Campaign Money

American Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill (shown above) has had it with automotive execs stalling when it comes to recalls. The Missiourian has proposed a new bill, the Motor Vehicle and Highway Safety Enhancement Act, which aims to improve the automotive safety following the high-profile fiascos involving General Motors and Toyota.

Aside from a doubling of the budget for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over the next six years and the removal of the $35-million limit for fining automakers, the plan includes a provision that would punish auto executives if it's discovered they knowingly delayed recalls. How will it punish them, you ask? Oh, you know, just life in prison.

The bill "gives federal prosecutors greater discretion to bring criminal prosecutions for auto safety violations and increases the possible penalties, including up to life in prison for violations that result in death," McCaskill's office told The Detroit News. If a delayed recall led to serious injuries, meanwhile, execs could still face a 15-year stint behind bars.

As for that change in the fine structure for automakers, the removal of the limit is complemented by a hefty increase in the per-vehicle fine, from $5,000 to $25,000. With this change, GM could have been on the hook for $55 billion (with a "b") in fines for its bumbling of the ignition switch recall, rather than just $35 million. The News says, though, that NHTSA has "wide discretion" in handing out the fines. Considering a $55-billion fine is enough to sink any automaker, it is unlikely that such a monumental sum would be handed out. Still, the potential threat of such a death sentence should be enough for any automaker to sit up and take notice.

"With millions of Americans behind the wheel every day, and more than 33,000 killed on our roads each year, we've got to do more to keep our cars and the roads we drive them on safe," McCaskill said, according to The News. "Painful recent examples at Toyota and GM have shown us we also must make it easier to hold accountable those who jeopardize consumers' safety. For too long, auto safety resources have remained virtually stagnant while cars and the safety challenges they present have become more complex."

What do you think? Do you agree with McCaskill's proposed bill? Should the punishments for automakers and execs be more or less harsh? Have your say in Comments.

News Source: The Detroit News

Image Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Bentley considering smaller coupe

Posted Aug 31st 2014 6:00PM

Bentley badge

Only halfway through the year, Bentley reports that it's on track to post record sales. Thanks in no small part to the introduction of its new V8 engine in the Continental family, sales are up nearly a quarter over last year. And they only stand to increase even more with the introduction of new models currently in the pipeline. The upcoming SUV will surely form a large part of that, but it won't be the end of the story for the storied marque.

Car and Driver reports that, after the SUV, Bentley plans to introduce a new coupe line below the Continental to square off against the Aston Martin V8 Vantage. Details are few and far between at this point, but considering how much Bentley manages to do with the relatively heft Continental GT, a lighter and more nimble sports car sounds promising.

In related news, rumours are gathering pace that Bentley is planning to introduce a new Mulsanne Speed at the upcoming Paris Motor Show, its Jurassic-era 6.75-litre V8 massaged from 505 horsepower – already the most that engine has produced in its half-century history – up to around 550.

Don't think that Bentley has given up, however, on its venerable 6.0-litre twin-turbo W-12 engine. Far from it. Car and Driver also reports that the crew from Crewe only plans to further develop the W-12, and if push came to shove, would be the "last manufacturer of 12-cylinder engines in the world." Indeed it already is among the last, although BMW/Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini, Mercedes and Ferrari aren't likely to give up on dozen-piston engines anytime soon, either... even if Aston Martin eventually does. Expect direct injection and even more powerful versions than the 616-hp Continental GT Speed to follow in the near future.

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Lincoln Navigator facelift only has to last until 2016 replacement

Posted Aug 31st 2014 4:00PM

2015 Lincoln Navigator

The Navigator is not only Lincoln's longest-serving nameplate – dating back to 1998 when the final Town Car was introduced – but it's also the oldest model still in the brand's portfolio. The current Navigator arrived on the market in 2007, and underwent a refresh just a few months ago for the 2015 model year. The updates were subtle, but if you're waiting for an all-new model, it's just a couple of years down the road.

According to Automotive News, Lincoln is already working on an all-new replacement for the current, long-serving Navigator, which will be revealed two years from now in the middle of 2016 as a 2017 model. At that point, we're expecting it could switch (alongside the Expedition) to the new aluminum architecture introduced on the Ford F-150, seeing as how the current model is based on the old F-150.

In the meantime, the refreshed Navigator ditches the big 5.4-litre Triton V8 in favor of a more economical 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6, and wages war in two wheelbase lengths against the V8-powered competition in the form of the Cadillac Escalade (and Escalade ESV), the Land Cruiser-based Lexus LX and the Infiniti QX80, which is based on the overseas Nissan Patrol.

Glickenhaus's SCG 003 to pack twin-turbo Honda V6?

Posted Aug 31st 2014 2:00PM

SCG 003 teaser rendering

Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus has made (or commissioned) two vehicles to date – the P4/5 and the P4/5 Competizione – and is now hard at work on its third. The first was based on the Ferrari Enzo and the second on a Ferrari F430, but the third is being developed independently from the ground up. The question, then, is what engine will it use?

Well now we may have our answer as Jalopnik reports that the SCG 003 (as it's known at the moment) will be powered by a 3.5-litre V6 sourced from Honda, fitted with twin turbochargers and producing in excess of 500 horsepower.

Honda's J35Y engine produces 278 horsepower in the Accord, 290 hp in the Acura MDX and 310 hp in the RLX. It also forms the basis for the HR35TT racing engine which Honda Performance Development puts in its Daytona Prototype, so if the rumours turn out to be true, chances are that's probably the engine in question – with the possible addition of a hybrid electric assist – but we'll have to sit tight to find out for sure.

News Source: Jalopnik

From sandals to flooring, there are many ways to reuse an old tire

Posted Aug 31st 2014 12:01PM

KENYA-ECONOMY-SANDALS

detroit treads tigers sandalsFurniture, flip flops and floors, oh my! Those are just a few of the products being repurposed from a faction of the 1.5 billion tires that get discarded each year, according to a fun little story from the BBC. And, if nothing else, the reincarnated products are durable.

Small companies in Kenya are refashioning old tires into sandals that sell for $2 to $5 a pop. The US takes that concept to the more high-brow and hip (read: pricier) level, as a company called Detroit Treads has brought on University of Michigan students to go through some of the 35,000 tires a year discarded in the Motor City and turn them into $25 flip flops (watch their commercial below). Meanwhile, some Swedish folks are grinding up old tires into a powder, mixing it with recycled plastic and creating material and producing parquet-type flooring. And in India, another company is turning old tires into material used for outdoor furniture. Probably all-weather radials, we guess.

A small fraction of old tires get put to new use through retreading and there are some larger companies giving recycling efforts a shot as well. In late 2012, Hertz started collaborating with Liberty Tire Recycling to turn some of the 160,000 tires the rental-car company discards each year into material used for playgrounds, public parks and roadways. 2012 was also the year Bridgestone Americas debuted its One Team, One Planet Spent Tire program, in which the tire maker arranged for its company-owned stores to recycle all the old tires their customers discarded.

News Source: BBC

Image Credit: SIMON MAINA / AFP / Getty Images

BMW 2 Series Active Tourer getting third row

Posted Aug 31st 2014 10:00AM

BMW 2 Series Active Tourer

In what enthusiasts will likely see as a continued attempt to dilute the BMW brand, the German manufacturer is testing a three-row variant of its already controversial 2 Series Active Tourer. Our trusty spy photographers captured images of the new, front-drive MPV testing on the roads of Europe.

The easiest way to ID this more passenger friendly 2er is its slightly longer length, which will allow it to accommodate seven people in total. As our spies point out, this should make the 2AT an attractive proposition for European taxi companies. Yep, BMW built a car that will be praised by taxi drivers. On top of the extra seats, the rear overhang appears larger as well, which should mean extra cargo space.

This, of course, is not the first time we've captured images of a new 2AT variant undergoing testing. Back in May, we spotted a hybrid-powered variant out for a drive.

Take a look up top for our full gallery of spy photos to see a front-wheel-drive, seven-passenger BMW people mover in action.

News Source: CarPix

Jaguar Land Rover offers (some) detail about new Ingenium engine

Posted Aug 31st 2014 9:00AM

Jaguar Ingenium Engine

Jaguar Land Rover officially announced its Ingenium family of engines with the unveiling of the 2.0-litre version in the Jaguar XE concept at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, but it kept details very thin at the time. All we knew was that the new turbocharged mills could be configured to use gasoline or diesel, and be positioned longitudinally or transversely. Months later, JLR is finally letting some more info slip about its new baby, but there are still some big questions to be answered.

For the Ingenium project, Jaguar Land Rover gave its engineers a clean sheet of paper and told them not to worry about using any previous parts or machinery. In the end, the designers came up with a family of turbocharged, aluminum-block engines based around modular, 500cc cylinders to allow it to grow or shrink as the market demanded. The layout was also made adaptable enough to incorporate hybrid drivetrains, if needed. "Being configurable and flexible are the two key strands of Ingenium's DNA because we have future-proofed our new engines from the outset," said said Ron Lee, the company's director of Powertrain Engineering.

To maximize efficiency, Jaguar promises that all versions of the Ingenium engines come with computer-controlled, variable oil pumps and water pumps to use only as much energy as needed. They also get direct injection, roller bearings for the cams and stop/start. The diesel version alone has 17 per cent less internal friction than the mill it replaces, the company claims. JLR is also promising class-leading figures for Ingenium's torque and horsepower too, but it's not giving away those specs just yet.

While it all sounds intriguing, we still have to wait a while before actually driving a product that makes use of the Ingenium. The production of the 2.0-litre diesel (codenamed AJ200D) doesn't begin until early 2015. Scroll down to read the full press release about JLR's new pride and joy.

News Source: Jaguar Land Rover

Kaz: Pushing The Virtual Divide Gran Turismo documentary now free on YouTube

Posted Aug 30th 2014 7:59PM

Kaz: Pushing The Virtual Divide

The video game Gran Turismo arguably wasn't the first great driving simulator, but it came along at just the right time to do things no other console game had ever done so well before. First, the Sony PlayStation allowed for 3D graphics that could create a recognizable model of a car in 360 degrees. Also, GT offered a huge breadth of vehicles that could get almost anyone interested. Up to that point in time, most driving games focused on just Formula 1, rallying, production cars, or other specific subsets of the autosphere, but GT had everything, which made it possible to find your dream car and go racing. The full-length documentary movie Kaz: Pushing the Virtual Divide delves into the mind of series leader Kazunori Yamauchi, and now it's available for anyone to watch for free.

Kaz originally launched in North America on Hulu in January, but not everyone has access to that streaming service. The documentary looks at the history of Gran Turismo starting from its early development and interviews Yamauchi about his theory behind making it. It also examines some of the racing that the series of games is emulating and influencing, including little kids getting into karting and the Nissan GT Academy. It's all done with beautiful cinematography and direction from Tamir Moscovici, who also helmed a 30-minute documentary about Magnus Walker. Note: Large portions of the movie have Yamauchi speaking in his native Japanese, so you're going to want to turn on subtitles to watch this intriguing film.

News Source: Gran Turismo TV via YouTube

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