It's December, and by now, nearly every automaker has rolled out its 2014 models, giving new-car shoppers lots to look at. And right on cue, Consumer Reports has just named its best and worst new-car picks.
To determine where models fall in the rankings, Consumer Reports compiles data on each car, truck, and SUV: its reliability; its performance in the magazine's extensive road tests; and its projected five-year cost of ownership, which factors in everything from fuel and insurance to maintenance costs and depreciation.
For the second year in a row, the Toyota Prius has nabbed the title of Best New-Car Value. Not only has the Prius performed well in Consumer Reports' tests, but it's proven to be highly reliable, and its cost of ownership averages out to be just 47 cents per mile. According to the magazine's automotive editor, Rik Paul, "The Prius’ 44 mpg overall is the best fuel economy of any non-plug-in car that Consumer Reports has tested. Though it’s not particularly cheap to buy, the Prius’ depreciation is so low that it costs less to own over the first five years than its initial MSRP. We call that a bargain."
In its cruise to the top, the Prius topped several serious contenders. Here are all ten of the magazine's best-in-class winners: ( Continue… )
The Lamborghini Gallardo has soldiered valiantly for the last several years of its decade-long run, with special edition upon special edition making the very most out of its now aged platform. But the Gallardo's time has come. A new Lamborghini has arrived. The Huracán.
To be precise, it's the Huracán LP 610-4. As you suspect, the 610 references the car's horsepower, though as usual, it's metric, so the American horsepower figure is closer to 600. Nevertheless, the 5.2-liter V-10 that produces the power, which arrives at a screaming 8,250 rpm, now benefits from direct fuel injection and also generates 480 pound-feet of torque.
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In the Huracán's 3,140-pound chassis, that 600-horsepower V-10 is, as predicted, matched to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and capable of accelerating you to 62 mph in just 3.2 seconds--a figure that's likely to brush against the 3.0-second mark in the real world when the measure is 60 mph. Keeping your foot to the floor, 124 mph arrives in 9.9 seconds, and, if you have the nerves--and the nearly limitless closed course--for it, the Huracán will carry on to a top speed of more than 202 mph. ( Continue… )
The 2015 BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car is one of next year's most anticipated cars, and now it appears a convertible version is also on the cards. BMW showed off a convertible i8 Spyder when the i8 was still at its concept stage, but Bimmerpost suggests the model might have gained official approval for production. It's touted for a late 2015 introduction, which confirms earlier estimates that a Spyder model would arrive around two years after the coupe hit the market.
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The company first unveiled the i8 Spyder in 2012, following the original i8 concept's introduction at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show. It was the first i8 concept to allow a closer look at the final production car's styling, without the unique glass doors of previous concepts. It's expected that many of the Spyder concept's styling details will make it through to the final production version, such as the clearly defined tonneau humps behind the driver and passenger. However, much of the car's styling will be a straight port from the production coupe.
A production intent model apparently shown to BMW insiders featured a Solar Orange color scheme--the same shade available on the i3--with blue highlights, a familiar feature of BMW's i-car range. It's set to feature an identical drivetrain to the coupe, which means a 1.5-liter TwinPower turbocharged three-cylinder gasoline unit, complemented by an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack. The engine provides its 231 horsepower to the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission, while front drive is handled by the 131-horse motor. There's enough juice in the battery for up to 22 miles range--though naturally, gasoline power extends it well beyond that.
One thing that's likely to change is the price. BMW has already confirmed the coupe will retail from $135,925, and it's unlikely the Spyder will cost any less. For some form of comparison, the latest 4-Series Convertible costs over $8,000 more than its coupe equivalent, and there's a similar gap between the 6-Series coupe and its convertible counterpart.
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Given how familiar most of us are with cars, it's easy to see them as the be-all and end-all when it comes to cleaning up transportation. Reduce fossil fuels, increase electric propulsion, increase use of biofuels, job done.
With over a billion cars on roads around the world improving them is clearly a priority, but other industries are seeking alternatives to conventional fossil fuels too, one of which is the aviation industry.
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And as aviation gears up for a very real push towards biofuels, we ask--is aviation actually the ideal market for such fuels, rather than the car industry?
The latest column from industry analysts Navigant Research suggests it could well be, as a whole supply chain for biofuels builds around it and several airlines begin to incorporate aviation biofuels into their routes.
It isn't just small-time airlines either. ( Continue… )
Just days after Jaguar Land Rover announced it will start building vehicles in Brazil in 2016, BMW has announced it has started construction of its own Brazilian plant, which is expected to come online by the fall of 2014. BMW already has a motorcycle plant in Brazil but strong sales of luxury cars in not only Brazil but much of the South American region has prompted the German automaker to start production of vehicles locally as well.
“Our strategic principle of ‘production follows the market’ has previously proven effective in markets such as the U.S. and China,” BMW production chief Harald Krüger said in a statement. “[The principle] will also ensure our success in Brazil as an important future market.”
The location of the new BMW plant is the Brazilian city of Araquari, and the site will include a body shop, a paint shop and an assembly facility. The plant will only be set up to produce 30,000 vehicles initially but gradually BMW will expand capacity.
Models destined to be built at the new plant include the 1-Series, 3-Series, X1 and X3, as well as the MINI Cooper Countryman. Future versions of the X1 and Countryman will share a platform, which is why BMW will be able to economically build both at a single plant. It’s not clear if the models built at the plant will be limited to sale in South America.
Once built, the plant will extend BMW’s production network, which currently comprises 29 production and assembly facilities in 14 countries. Other luxury makes that have announced plans to build vehicles in Brazil include Jaguar Land Rover as well as Audi and Mercedes-Benz.
Tire-maker Michelin says it is recalling about 1.2 million tires sold in the U.S. because an increasing number are experiencing tread loss or rapid air loss.
The tires are commonly used for pickup trucks, heavy-duty vans, small RVs and commercial light trucks. The Greenville, South Carolina-based company says no deaths or injuries have been reported because of the Michelin tires recall.
The tires, known as Michelin LTX M/S tires, were manufactured between January 2010 and June 2012. They were sold as original equipment on some vehicles and as new replacement tires.
The company says that fewer than 200 of the tires have been returned by customers. Owners can have them replaced at Michelin stores for no charge.
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You might be forgiven for thinking that as cars get ever heavier, better equipped, safer, more practical, more powerful and faster, fuel economy would suffer.
Thankfully, the EPA's latest set of statistics proves that isn't the case--and dispels other notions such as increasing weight and ever greater power figures, too.
No, that's not a lot altogether. But when you consider how many large trucks make up U.S. sales, it's a sign that both regular vehicles are getting ever more efficient, and that trucks themselves are improving enough to allow that average to rise overall, rather than remain constant.
That figure represents a whole 1.2 mpg improvement over the 2011 model year--the second highest improvement in the last 30 years, according to The Detroit News. And when statistics for the 2013 model year land, the overall average could top 24 mpg--another record. Since 2004, economy has risen by 4.3 mpg, or 22 percent. ( Continue… )
As part of its ongoing actions to decisively address the performance of its global operations, General Motors today announced it would transition to a national sales company in Australia and New Zealand. The company also said it would discontinue vehicle and engine manufacturing and significantly reduce its engineering operations in Australia by the end of 2017.
GM's current CEO, Dan Akerson, added that:
"The decision to end manufacturing in Australia reflects the perfect storm of negative influences the automotive industry faces in the country, including the sustained strength of the Australian dollar, high cost of production, small domestic market and arguably the most competitive and fragmented auto market in the world."
Sound familiar? It should. That's pretty much what Ford said earlier this year when it, too,ended production in Australia, blaming "increasingly challenging market conditions – including market fragmentation and the high cost of manufacturing".
And with Ford and GM out of the picture, that leaves just one automaker building vehicles in Australia: Toyota.
At first glance, that might sound like great news for Toyota. As the only rooster in the hen house (or however that saying goes), you might think Toyota would be in prime position to do some bang-up business. ( Continue… )
Generating power and transmitting it to homes and businesses can be difficult following an earthquake or Tsunami, which is why several Japanese automakers have explored electric vehicle-to-building systems.
Nissan is the latest to demonstrate its own system, in impressive style.
It isn't all about providing power in blackouts, though--even though that's a useful side-benefit of the "Vehicle-To-Building" power system.
Instead, its main purpose is to reduce energy use at peak times. When power is cheaper during off-peak times, the cars are charged, and the building receives power as normal. But as prices shoot up, the building starts to draw power from the electric cars. ( Continue… )
But in other parts of the country, you may go months without seeing a single car with a plug.
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