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Reaching for glovebox isn't a suspicious act when getting pulled over, court says

Posted Sep 5th 2014 1:00PM

Police lights by night

"Such movement, standing alone, does not give rise to a reasonable belief that appellant was armed and dangerous." – Judge Stephen Yarbrough

Is reaching for the glovebox during a traffic stop suspicious? Is it reason to search a car without a warrant? An Ohio appeals court said no last month.

Naturally, it's a little more complicated than that. Here's what happened, according to court documents:

Around 3:00 AM on March 25, 2012, Toledo motorist Sherrie A. Powell nearly hit an unmarked police car filled with four detectives dressed in riot gear. Another patrol car in the area turned on its lights and siren and pulled over Powell. While this was happening, the detectives maneuvered alongside and noticed that she appeared to be reaching for the glovebox.

News Source: Getty

Justin Bieber gets arrested for assault and dangerous driving, surprised?

Posted Sep 2nd 2014 3:30PM

Justin Bieber Arrested in Canada

Justin Bieber was arrested again! (Are we really surprised at this point?) He was arrested near his hometown of Stratfor, ON in Canada for assault and dangerous driving after he crashed into a minivan while operating an ATV.

According to a press release by the Ontario Provincial Police, officers were called to the scene of an accident in the Township of Perth on Friday afternoon. "Investigation revealed that after colliding, the driver of the ATV and an occupant of the minivan engaged in a physical altercation.

UPDATE: TMZ is reporting that it was a member of the paparazzi driving the minivan, and that it's possible the fight with the photographer could trigger a violation of the two-year probation he is on because of the egging incident. According to police sources, a probation investigation has already been launched. TMZ also posted photos of Bieber and his on-off girlfriend Selena Gomez driving around Stratford on an ATV.

Bieber was released on a "promise to appear" and is scheduled to be back in a Stratford courtroom to address the charges on Sept. 29. Stay tuned, as this story is developing.

News Source: The Huffington Post Canada via AOL On

What's in a trademark? Sometimes, the next iconic car name

Posted Sep 1st 2014 2:00PM

1982-1986 toyota supra

The United States Patent and Trademark Office is a treasure trove for auto enthusiasts, especially those who double as conspiracy theorists.

Why has Toyota applied to trademark "Supra," the name of one of its legendary sports cars, even though it hasn't sold one in the United States in 16 years? Why would General Motors continue to register "Chevelle" long after one of the most famous American muscle cars hit the end of the road? And what could Chrysler possibly do with the rights to "313," the area code for Detroit?

There are a lot of possible answers to these questions, since automakers apply for trademarks for a variety of reasons. While a filing can be the first sign of a new model – or the return of an old favourite – moving to secure a trademark can just as easily be a smoke signal. Frequently, it's just a routine legal procedure to maintain rights to a famous name so it can be used on t-shirts and coffee mugs.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office is a treasure trove for auto enthusiasts, especially those who double as conspiracy theorists. Though there's strong circumstantial evidence Toyota may in fact be working on a Supra-successor, for now the name is simply a filing that's weaving its way through the federal bureaucracy. Toyota has let the Supra trademark lapse in the past before reapplying for it. On the other hand, if anyone had been looking closely on May 27, 2010, they would have seen Toyota filed for the FR-S trademark. It meant nothing then, but four years later those three letters are the calling card for one of the purest driver's cars on the market.

Filing for a trademark can be a delicate maneuver. It's a public act, and the records are accessible to anyone. But, companies don't want to wait too long and risk losing a potential name. An early filing can give a firm a "priority date," which can be used as a defense should a mark be contested, said Christine Lofgren, Toyota's trademark lawyer.

Once a company gets rights to a mark, it then has to demonstrate use. That can be accomplished by actually building a car using the trademarked name, or at least using it on replacement parts. Even used cars can show use of a name. Automakers can also trademark a name specifically for use on clothing, accessories or toys.

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 drivers 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

2014 BMW R NineT

Posted Aug 28th 2014 11:57AM

Germany Goes Cafe Cool, Finally Embraces Customization

2014 BMW R nineT

BMW is taking a page from the Harley-Davidson playbook with its groundbreaking R NineT. A retro cafe racer with an urban hooligan twist, the bike is fully customizable from fork to exhaust. Of course, any motorcycle can be customized, but the fact that BMW has built its newest bike to encourage modification using parts that can be swapped with simple tools is a radical move for a motorcycle maker best known for its plug-and-play touring bikes.

To underscore exactly how radical, BMW has even partnered with custom heavy-hitter Roland Sands Design, which developed the initial concept for the bike and is now manufacturing a full line of parts and accessories for the R NineT, including radial valve covers, retro racing saddles, radial gauge housing and a radial headlight bezel, among other things, all of which can be swapped with a socket wrench or screwdriver instead of a hacksaw, wire cutters and TIG welder. Alas, the bike I tested for two weeks was stock, so consider it a blank canvas... READ MORE

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Susan Carpenter / AOL

Canada's Tar Sands vs. Electric Cars

Posted Aug 28th 2014 10:00AM

tar oil sands

It's pretty common knowledge - especially if you're the type to regularly visit sites such as our sister site AutoblogGreen and its ilk - that it's simply cheaper to drive a kilometre on electrical power than on gasoline. We also know that it is inefficient to convert oil sands into usable fuel relative to other sources of oil. Yet the demand for gasoline remains high, mining our Canadian tar sands remains profitable and it has also undeniably created a lot of jobs, so that petroleum is coming out of the ground.

For a deeper look at the economics, look at this article from Hybrid Cars, which breaks down (and even quantifies) what is involved in producing gasoline from the bitumen mined in places like Fort McMurray, Alberta, and how that compares in cost and efficiency to filling up from the socket. Basically, it takes a certain amount electricity and natural gas to turn the bitumen into a gallon (3.78 litres) of gasoline in a multi-step process that even consumes some of its own product. It is much more efficient and economical to convert that natural gas into electricity to power our vehicles. The author compares it to feeding bread to cows instead of grain, with the oil sands crude industry as the baker.

Plug-in vehicles eliminate the middleman, along with the associated costs. And though the electric car industry is still young, it is here to stay, and will only grow and improve. What impact will this have on tar sands operations? The conclusion is powerful, particularly after following the journey of the tar sands to the gas tank. Dig deep over at Hybrid Cars.

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News Source: Hybrid Cars

Image Credit: Jennifer Grant, Pembina Institute

Water-powered Hoverboard is real and we want one

Posted Aug 27th 2014 7:59PM


In 2012, Translogic featured a unique jet ski-powered device known as the Flyboard, which transformed its pilot into a sort of aquatic Iron Man. With hydro-thrusters at the hands and feet, Flyboard enabled water-powered flight and incredible ariel tricks.

The folks from Zapata Racing are back with their latest innovation, the Hoverboard. If Flyboard drew comparisons to Tony Stark's metal suit, Hoverboard is sure to conjure up another pop-culture touchstone: Marty McFly's hovering skateboard from Back To The Future Part II.

Translogic Host Jonathon Buckley heads to San Diego, CA to meet with the founder of Aquatic Aviation, a North American distributor of both aquatic devices, and attempts some high-flying tricks on the water-powered Hoverboard.

Behind the scenes of BMW's 'Driftmob' stunt driving videos

Posted Aug 27th 2014 7:00PM

BMW Driftmob

All this, for one minute and 47 seconds of action-packed footage with no official plot.

We arrived in Cape Town, South Africa, on the third and last practice day for the drivers of a BMWStories internet video called The Epic Driftmob feat. BMW M235i. We were immediately whisked to a large, empty parking lot on the outskirts of Cape Town, where tires are squealing, and chunks of rubber are flying as five red BMW M235i coupes churn up more smoke than a California wildfire. And the smell – it smelled like heated metal, the kind of thing rev limiters were made for. Times five.

A couple dozen locals have lined up along a chain link fence, lured like moths to a flame by the sounds and scents and plumes of smoke emanating from the site. Each has their camera ready for the moment stunt coordinator Riley Harper says, "Action."

This event – and Autoblog's involvement in it, specifically – was more or less an experiment on BMW's part to see if there is a story to be told from video production and photo shoots, normally marketing endeavors and something PR folks keep documentarians like us a long way away from. We were the only North American media outlet invited, and we weren't there to drive a new product, just to watch one of its current (and in our opinion, one of its best) cars, the M235i coupe, do amazing things at the hands of some of the world's best drifters... WATCH VIDEO

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Steve Siler / AOL / BMW

Which is more fuel efficient, driving with a pickup's tailgate up or down?

Posted Aug 27th 2014 12:57PM

2015 Ford F-150

Thanks to the smoke wand in the wind tunnel, you can actually see the difference in our video.

Should you drive with your pickup truck's tailgate up or down? It's an age-old controversy that's divided drivers for decades. Traditionalists will swear you should leave the tailgate down. Makes sense, right? It would seem to let the air flow more cleanly over the body and through the bed. But there's also a school of thought that argues trucks are designed to look and operate in a specific manner, and modern design techniques can help channel the airflow properly. So don't mess with all of that: Leave the tailgate up. Wondering which is true?

To solve this tailgate debate, we went inside the wind tunnel at Ford to test the aerodynamics of the 2015 Ford F-150. The model's exterior design manager Brad Richards explained that the new truck was designed with purposeful edges and shapes that look imposing, yet still allow the F-150 to maintain strong aerodynamics. "We think this is the toughest F-150 by far, but also the most efficient," Richards said.

All of this matters, as loyal Ford truck buyers expect the F-150 to look a certain way, but the Blue Oval is also projecting fuel economy gains thanks to the new truck's use of lightweight aluminum. And no matter how light the truck is, fuel-economy gains could be wiped out with poor aerodynamics. With that in mind, Ford styled the truck to maintain its beefy look, but also beat its predecessor in the wind tunnel. Ford paid close attention to a new, lower air dam, mirrors that were redesigned "a dozen times" and a small lip on the rear tailgate. Acting as a spoiler, the lip allows air to cleanly detach from the body. Thanks to the smoke wand in the wind tunnel, you can actually see the difference tailgate up versus tailgate down in our video below.

Ford remains tight-lipped about the F-150's fuel economy numbers, but it admits dropping the tailgate would increase drag by about eight per cent – and sandbag fuel economy. Even for older models without the fancy spoiler, you're hurting efficiency and lowering your gas mileage when driving with the tailgate down, argues Richards. So there's your verdict, straight from the wind tunnel: Leave the tailgate up.

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Image Credit: Copyright 2014 / AOL