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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

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
Bruce Thomson Car SketchesBruce Thomson Car SketchesBruce Thomson Car SketchesBruce Thomson Car SketchesBruce Thomson Car SketchesBruce Thomson Car SketchesBruce Thomson Car SketchesBruce Thomson Car Sketches

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.

Related GalleryMitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept: Tokyo 2013
Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept: Tokyo 2013Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept: Tokyo 2013Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept: Tokyo 2013Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept: Tokyo 2013Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept: Tokyo 2013Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept: Tokyo 2013Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept: Tokyo 2013Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept: Tokyo 2013

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

Glickenhaus reveals carbon chassis for SGC 003

Posted Jan 30th 2015 6:00PM

SGC 003 chassis

Aside from being a Hollywood director and investment banker, James Glickenhaus has one of the most awesome car collections around, full of classic Ferrari racers. But that wasn't enough for him, so he started commissioning his own: the Enzo-based Ferrari P4/5 by Pininfarina and the 430-based P4/5 Competizione. But basing his supercars on existing ones has evidently proven tiresome for the venerable collector, so now he's building his own.

The SGC 003 is set to debut at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, and will surely be exciting for Ferrari enthusiasts, but here's the thing: it's not based on a Ferrari. It's being built around a custom carbon-fibre monocoque chassis that his racing outfit, Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus, has designed from the ground up. And here it is.

Revealed in this preview video, the SGC 003 chassis will underpin a new sports endurance racer that is set to take on one of the most punishing races in the world: the Nürburgring 24 Hours, where its predecessor competed two years in a row. We're looking forward to seeing the finished product, but in the meantime you can check out the video below for an advance look at what to expect.

News Source: Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus, Road & Track via YouTube

Porsche 911 GT3 RS getting all-new atmospheric engine

Posted Jan 30th 2015 5:00PM

Porsche surprised many of its most puritanical enthusiasts when it took a decidedly more usable approach with the current 911 GT3. But when the new GT3 RS debuts, it promises to be a much more extreme departure. And a big part of that comes down to the engine.

At the Detroit Auto Show this week, Auto Express spoke with Porsche R&D chief Wolfgang Hatz – who also happens to be head of engine and transmission development for the entire Volkswagen group. Hatz revealed that Porsche has developed a completely new engine for the GT3 RS, and while previous rumors suggested the RS would go turbo to fill in for the lack of a GT2 (and make the most out of its displacement), Hatz confirmed that it will be naturally aspirated. Considering that Porsche rarely goes downwards when it comes to 911 engine displacement, only upwards, we'd expect the new RS to pick up where the previous 4.0 left off.

The new GT3 RS is also expected to pack a more extreme suspension, aero and stripped-out interior, but those hoping for an old-school approach may be disappointed to learn that the new RS will (at least at launch) only be available with the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission – though a manual version could follow if there's enough demand.

In a related development, Hatz also hinted that the Cayman GT4 could debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March, with an even more extreme approach than the previous Cayman R. The new top-of-the-line Cayman is reportedly being developed to comply with GT4 class racing regulations but be fully homologated for road use.

News Source: Auto Express

Image Credit: CarPix