New York Auto Show Preview: Regis to host Automotive Advertising Awards

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Does anyone want to wager whether Daimler-Chrysler, especially its Jeep brand, will win any advertising awards when well known TV Ad effectiveness ratings company, IAG Research, presents the IAG Automotive Advertising Awards at the New York Auto Show's opening press breakfast on April 4, 2007? The awards will use data based on responses from 1.5 million national TV viewers from 20 TV networks. The awards ceremony will be hosted by none other than Regis Philbin. You just can't do much better than Regis, he who in 2006 broke his own existing Guinness World Record for "Most Hours on Camera", setting a new mark of 15,662 hours accumulated over his illustrious career. Wait a second -- we think you could do better by having Kelly Ripa host it. She could kick off our impending "Girls of the 2007 New York Auto Show" post on the right foot.

Awards will be given out in five categories:

  • Most Effective Overall Ad (Luxury vehicle category)
  • Most Effective Overall Ad (Non-Luxury vehicle category)
  • Most Liked Ad
  • Most Effective New Nameplate Launch Campaign
  • Most Effective Established Nameplate Launch Campaign

[Source: PR Newswire]

 

[via] Autoblog

Christies postpones Auto Union auction

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Wow. This is kind of a letdown. What was expected to be among the most valuable vehicles ever sold at auction, the Auto Union Type D, has been pulled at the 11th hour. Auction house Christie's made the announcement that they had postponed the Auto Union's sale "pending further exploration into the car's race history." No other explanation was given. The Auto Union GP car was expected to draw insane bids at the upcoming Retromobile auction in Paris.

While we wouldn't want to make any assumptions about the vehicle's authenticity, that is frequently the cause of lots being pulled or vehicles failing to attract interest from bidders. Hemmings relates the words of Philip Powell at Classical Drive who supports the notion t hat the postponement could be a sign that the Type D is not 100% kosher.

The car's history is known, from being totally rebuilt after being reduced to just a driveline in an accident, to being found in the former Soviet Union, but the questions can linger in the minds of potential owners. It should be noted, however, that Christies is investigating the car's race history, not its authenticity, per se. We saw something similar in Arizona last month when a rare Ferrari Dino SP failed to crack the $1 million mark and didn't meet its reserve, going unsold. The car had been well-documented, but because it had been nearly totaled in a racing incident, the rebuilt car can sometimes raise doubts among buyers who would rather have the genuine article than one rebuilt by a non-factory team years after its birth.

[Source: Hemmings]

 

[via] Autoblog

Consumer Reports names pair to review child seat tests

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Consumer Reports has named two men to head up a review of its controversial child safety seat tests. About a month ago, Consumer Reports withdrew its headline-making analysis of child car safety seats. The tests at first seemed to indicate most seats were not adequate to protect children in side impacts. After criticism that the tests were faulty, the nonprofit group retracted the results.

Brian O'Neill and Dr. Kennerly H. Digges will review the test results to see what, if anything, was done improperly. O'Neill is a former president of the IIHS, while Digges was once the director of Vehicle Safety and Biomechanics a t the NHTSA National Crash Analysis Center of George Washington University.

Consumers Union president Jim Guest said on CR's Web site, "Dr. Digges and Mr. O'Neill are among the nation's most respected experts on car safety issues. We are confident that they will conduct a thorough review of this incident and determine what went wrong."

There's no mention of any plans for retesting the seats, but one would assume if the initial tests were found to be more stressing than intended, the group would re-run the evaluations.

[Source: Consumer Reports]

 

[via] Autoblog

Spy Shots: Alfa Romeo 169

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Some sharp-eyed passerby saw what appeared to be an as-yet unseen four-door Alfa Romeo concept car inside a transport truck in front of an engineering firm's office in Spain. Fortunately, he managed to snap a couple shots of the top-secret sedan on his camera phone, and the images are floating around the net.

The predominant speculation is that this is a prototype version of what will be the new Alfa Romeo 169, the range-topping sedan that the Milanese marque will be building on a platform borrowed from the Maserati Quattroporte.

The picture from the side shows what looks like an angry Audi S8, but the one snapped from the back shows it unmistakably to be an Alfa. Could Alfa Romeo be preparing to show us a pre-production concept at Geneva? Unfortunately the camera-phone images are too grainy to tell much, but we'll see in just a few weeks.

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[Source: Leftlane News]

 

[via] Autoblog

Autoblog Podcast #57

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Episode #57 is a br eezy little number, clocking in around 32 minutes long. Though on the short side, it's action-packed! We recap the Chicago show, paucity of activity and all. For starters, we return to one of our favorite subjects recently, the impending Pontiac G8. Let's just say it's even better up-close. Next, we ruminate over the all-new Scion xD and xB. The little Toyota offspring were all that happened on the second day of the show, and the aging boomers there were thrilled with the updates to these cars. Nothing like nailing your target market, eh? Before wrapping up for the night, the boys take a ride through the return of the Taurus and Sable nameplates, and how successful that move may prove to be. Capping Podcast 57 is the one bit that's not Chicago-related; the upcoming unveiling of Dodge's Demon roadster at the Geneva show. It looks nice, but we're dubious that it has any production plans, though this is Chrysler, which is capable of turning a show car into reality better than most. Enjoy the 'cast!

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

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GM releases pics of Z71 package on GMT900 SUVs

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Without so much as an accompanying press release, General Motors released a slew of new images yesterday that show us what the Z71 off-road package looks like on two of the three GMT900 model SUVs. The Avalanche, Tahoe and Suburban are available with a Z71 package that adds, of course, the Z71 off-road suspension, new 18-inch aluminum wheels mounted on combination on-/off-road tires, an automatic locking rear diff, and high-pressure shocks. That's it for the hardcore mechanicals, though buyers who opt for the Z71 package are as much interested in the image these vehicles project as they are their capability. To that end, Chevy adds the Skid Plate Package, oversized wheel arch flares, tubular assist steps, extra bits of chrome trim, and rectangular fog lamps, along with the requisite Z71 badging so everyone knows you could go off roa d if you wanted to. The interiors benefit from a Z71-specific gauge cluster and brushed metal look for the dash. The Z71 package certainly adds some cajones to these GMT900 SUVs that will spend most of their lives on smooth pavement, and they also add some serious attitude, especially when ordered in all black.

Check out all the newly released images in our galleries for the Avalanche Z71 and Suburban Z71, as well as new galleries for the 2008 Tahoe Hybrid, Avalanche LTZ, Tahoe LTZ and Suburban LTZ.

[Source: GM]

Continue reading GM releases pics of Z71 package on GMT900 SUVs

 

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

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Toyota Camry named 2007 Canadian Car of the Year

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Oh that Camry, such a charmer. It's so not sitting home on Valentine's Day without a date. This time it's the Canadians giving up some automotive love, handing the Camry another trophy for its burgeoning display case - the Canadian Car of the Year award from the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. Going home with Good Sport stickers (or plaques or certificates or whatever they get) are the Honda Fit, Volkswagen Rabbit, Lexus ES350, Audi S8, MazdaSpeed3, Volkswagen Eos and the BMW 3-Series Coupe. What a fight that must have been. The AJAC's press release is after the jump, and all their test data and performanc e numbers are on their site for comparison.

The award was given out today as part of the Canadian International Auto Show, where Toyota took home three more awards, one of which wasn't Camry related. The Lexus ES350 was named the best new luxury car under $50k, while the Camry LE got Best New Family Car $22k-$30k, and the Camry Hybrid also got Best New Family Car over $30k. In the photo above, that's one proud Stephen Beatty, managing director of Toyota Canada, with his company's CCOTYs.

In case you need some ammo with which to attack/support the AJAC's decision, last year's top CCOTY was the Civic Sedan, in 2005 the Mustang, in 2004 the Mazda3 and in 2003 the 350Z. The Altima won in 2002 and the PT Cruiser took top honors in 2001.

Thanks for the tip, Peter!

Continue reading Toyota Ca mry named 2007 Canadian Car of the Year

 

[via] Autoblog

Rumor of the Day: GM may buy Chrysler Group

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Take this for what it is, a rumor about which General Motors and DaimlerChrysler have refused to comment. According to a report today in German magazine Manager Magazin, DaimlerChrysler is in talks to sell its Chrysler Group division to GM. The magazine cites sources within DaimlerChrysler as saying that talks are in full swing but at an early stage. Dieter Zietsche, CEO of DaimlerChrysler, refused to comment on the report when asked at this morning's press conference where the company's Recovery and Transformation plan, a.k.a. Project X, was announced.

So neither side is talking about whether such talks exist, which leads one to speculate that there's some truth to these rumors. GM, however, would not seem to be in a position to purchase a rival domestic automaker with numerous competing products considering that it's just beginning to emerge from its own turnaround and restructuring plan. What's more, we can't imagine the complexities GM would encounter trying to absorb Chrysler's union workforce.

We bet DaimlerChrysler and GM are talking about something, but wouldn't put money on the subject being the wholesale purchase of the Chrysler Group.

Thanks to all who tipped on this!

[Source: Yahoo.biz]

 

[via] Autoblog

Dodge unveils new 2007 Sprinter

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click on above image to view addition high-res images of the 2007 Dodge Sprinter

So the embargo on material for the new 2007 Dodge Sprinter lifted at midnight last night. Yeah, we forgot about it, too. Nevertheless, the Sprinter's in a class by itself when it comes to commercial vans offered by the Big 3 (2.5, whatever). The 2007 model is all new and gets crazy with the dimensions adding a Super Size model for those who always want fries with that. Compared to last year's largest model, the new Sprinter has increases in width (two inches), interior height (11 inches), exterior height (13 inches), cargo area length (19 inches), vehicle length (30 inches), cargo volume (127 cu. ft.), and towing capacity (2,500 lbs.). For the discriminating business owner, there are no less than three vehicles lengths, two wheelbases, three interior roof heights, and two engines. The two new motors are a 3.0L V6 diesel that produces 154 horsepower and 280 ft-lbs. of torque at 1,200 to 2,400 rpm, and a 3.5L gas V6 making 254 horsepower and 250 ft-lbs. of torque at 2,500 to 5,000 rpm. Both engines are routed through a five-speed automatic. In its largest form, the new Sprinter can swallow 600 cubic feet of stuff in one bite. No doubt the courier industry is excited to see the new 2007 Sprinter, even if we aren't.

Check out the full press release from Dodge after the jump, as well as our gallery that shows both commercial and passenger versions of the new 2007 Dodge Sprinter.

[Source: Dodge]

Continue reading Dodge unveils new 2007 Sprinter

 

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happen s in real-time

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Transparent Transport: Rinspeed releases eXasis concept for Geneva

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Click on the image above to jump to our hi-rez image gallery

Rinspeed seems to have a knack for coming up with wonderfully quirky answers to questions no one was really asking. This time the Swiss outfit has come up with an intriguing cross between a vintage Auto Union racer and an off-road buggy, cross-mutated with a cigar and a WWI plane, initial details of which were released back in December. The off-beat Swiss firm is preparing their latest creation, called the eXasis, for a debut at their home-base Geneva show in a few weeks.

The eXasis is the third collaboration between Rinspeed and Bayer MaterialScience AG, having working together on the Senso and zaZen concept cars previously. This one takes full advantage of the full range of Bayer's subsidiaries, employing a wide variety of interesting material effects and textures to the creative little buggy. The eXasis is built on an aluminum frame with plastic body panels and floor that let you get a good look at the structure and components, as well as the road passing rapidly underneath, instead of just the exterior styling. It's an interesting contrast to other show cars, some of which are just shells without working mechanics.

Through the translucent bodywork you can also see the 150-hp 750 cc 2-cylinder, Weber engine, which oddly sits atop the transmission. Thanks to the lightweight construction, the eXasis has a power-to-weight ratio of a Porsche. It has a whole lot of interesting and unique features, in fact, which you can read about in the full press release after the jump. (Don't forget to check out our gallery of 27 high-resolution images, too.)

[Source: Rinspeed]

Gallery: Rinspeed eXasis

Continue reading Transparent Transport: Rinspeed releases eXasis concept for Geneva

 

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

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VIDEO: BMW "See How It Feels" campaign launches

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BMW's new 60 second TV spot is something of an automotive Fantasia. Remember the segment of that animated masterpiece where a symphony plays and the emotion behind the sounds are displayed in Technicolor glory? Well, think music, emotions, and motoring here. Bringing the exhiliration one feels when piloting a Beemer to visible life, sights of different BMW models explode into lights and swirls all accompanied by a fresh arrangement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony by UNKLE. This new campaign was created by Nick Thornton-Jones and Warren Du Preez of Wanted Films. Follow the jump to watch the whole commercial.

Thanks, Martijn!

[Source: BMW via Fresh Creation]

Continue reading VIDEO: BMW "See How It Feels" campaign launches

 

[via] Autoblog

20 Questions: Suicidal robot from GM interviewed

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Among those sounding the gong against GM cowing to an anti-suicide group's offense at its Superbowl spot is the star of the commercial himself. The robot, who shall henceforth be referred to as Ricky, reveals a few things about the production, and how the spot plays to the robot population. It was interesting to learn that the bridge jumper was a stunt double who'd had his entrails removed prior to the leap. Certainly makes the spot seem more like a snuff film now, doesn't it? We hope the Anti Snuff Film Congress or some other group of Dudley Do-Rights will keep their traps shut and just deal with being offended for five mi nutes.

Basically, Ricky takes his own offense to the AFSP's offense at the spot, and expresses what we all would like to say. Lighten up for five damn minutes and let us enjoy our football game. He also points out that there's been no crying over the other spots, which could be seen as offensive to some other cabal of crusaders bent on being whiny for their cause. At least Ricky has his SAG card, so he can supplement his income during plant shutdowns. We'll keep an eye on movies that feature robots, hoping to catch a glimpse of the little yellow devil. In the meantime, we couldn't agree more when Ricky says - "this touchy-feely s*** is totally outta control in this country."

Thanks for the tip, Ed!

[Source: autoextremist]

 

[via] Autoblog

RR Of The Day: Merkur XR4Ti

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Merkurs are some of our favorite cars. Flickr pool member sncollins has a nice '88 XR4Ti he's been wheeling around for the last 20,000 miles or so. Powered by the tough-as-nails 2.3 liter turbocharged four that also saw service under the hood of SVO Mustangs and other Fox-platform cars, even a stock XR4Ti is a hoot. Of course, with the owner being an engineering student and car guy, this XR4Ti didn't stay stock for long. The nice thing about the Merkurs is their chassis was far more modern than anything else Ford was offering at the time. The aforementioned Fox-based cars were live-axle deals that would get all crossed up trying to claw out of a bumpy corner. The XR4Ti would spank BMW E30s hard, and with a Garrett T3 bolted to the side of the engine, a quick trip underhood with an open-end wrench would turn up the wick that much more. Sncollins's car is currently huffing out 23 psi from a modified turbo (the stock T3 would be in serious surge territory at 23 psi). The pressurized charge courses through a SAAB intercooler and tweaked intake manifold. The Civics are wary of this car now, due to the past smartings it's dished out. The rorty custom 3" exhaust doesn't help you fly under the radar, either.

More info, pics and a short mod list can be found after the jump, as well as instructions on how to submit your own ride for our RR of the Day.

Continue reading RR Of The Day: Merkur XR4Ti

 

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

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Holden confirms G8 export (duh) and hints at return of El Camino

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It's official, Holden's Denny Mooney has confirmed that the Commodore is heading to the US to join the Excitement division. To cop a phrase from my mother in law - no kidding, Dick Tracy. Bob Lutz let slip, and then owned up to the fact that the car is coming here as the Pontiac G8 during the Detroit show. Looking at the red G8 that posed with Mooney, our knees are all jiggly - we can hardly wait to get our mitts on one. Hopefully, it'll be outfitted with the 6-liter V8, but even the 3.6-liter V6 would be fine. What we're really interested in sampling is the fit and finish, ride quality, and road manners. We suspect that even the six will have adequa te power to pull the G8/Commodore around with authority, and the V8 will be ridiculous icing on the cake, and extremely delicious at that.

Continued after the jump...

[Source: drive.com.au]


Continue reading Holden confirms G8 export (duh) and hints at return of El Camino

 

[via] Autoblog

GM returns to incentives to perk up February sales

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January was a harsh month for the domestics, mainly because reduced sales to fleet and rental companies dragged down the raw number of units sold. Still, General Motors apparently doesn't like the red on the balance sheet and has introduced a new round of incentives to ensure February's numbers are better. Announced today, buyers in the Midwest and Northeast regions are being offered $500 bonus cash and 0% financing for five years, most likely as a bribe to pry them from their sofas and brave the snowy climes to buy a car. As always, most 2006 and 2007 models are included except for the cool stuff, like the Pontiac Solstics, Saturn Sky, Chevy Corvette Z06, Saturn VUE Hybrid, all medium-duty trucks and the Cadillac, HUMMER and Saab brand s. Automotive News reports that GM actually kept to its promise last month of reducing incentive spending, shelling out only $2,365 per vehicle. While still far more than some imports spend, it was much less than the $3,853 spend by Ford and $3,502 spent by the Chrysler Group.

[Source: Automotive News]

 

[via] Autoblog

Transformers Update: Hasbro gives best looks yet at Optimus Prime and Bumblebee

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Transformers - Bumblebee
Click image for hires photo gallery

The Autoblog staff is waiting with bated breath for the Fourth of July weekend to get here so that we can wave the flag, watch some fireworks, eat and drink too much, and take in the battle between the Autobots and Decepticons in Michael Bay's big-budget big-screen interpretation of Transformers. Regular readers know that we're really pumped up for this and since Toy Fair 2007 is underway in New York this week, Hasbro has provided some new imagery of the TF toys they're releasing in conjunction with the film. Check out the gallery to see full shots of Optimus Prime and Bumblebee in both robot and vehicle modes, as well as a shot of Optimus Prime in his retail packaging. Is it just us, or does Bumblebee look a little startled?

As cool as these two figures are, we think that the forthcoming Mr. Potato Head Optimash Prime may take the cake. Damn you, Hasbro, for making such appealing-sounding desk trinkets! That's 10 bucks as good as gone right there...

UPDATE: Gallery updated to include the Optimus Prime Arm Blaster and the Optimus Prime Voice Changer helmet. Oh, to be an 8-year-old...

Press release after the jump

[Source: Hasbro]

Continue reading Transformers Update: Hasbro gives best looks yet at Optimus Prime and Bumblebee

 

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

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DaimlerChrysler escapes Iran

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DaimlerChrysler isn't planning on sticking around to see what happens if and when Iran unleashes its nuclear weapons, according to industry reports. Along with Reuters and CNN, the German weekly magazine WirtschaftsWoche is reporting that DaimlerChrysler is divesting the 51% stake it currently holds in Setareh, the exclusive distributor for Mercedes-Benz in the country.

According to the reports, DCX is responding to heavy pressure brought to bear by the White House on companies doing business in and with Iran. Economic isolation is one of the means the United States administration has at its disposal in order to pressure Iran to abandon its aggressive nuclear weapons program.

DaimlerChrysler has grown into the fifth largest automaker in the world. Following the announcement, DCX shares fell by less than a percent on the New York Stock Exchange.

Other manufacturers continue to do business with Iran; it remains to be seen whether competing automakers will follow the Mercedes example and divest as well.

[Source: CNNMoney.com]

 

[via] Autoblog

Zagato reveals Diatto design

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We brought you news a few days ago about Zagato's big plans to revive the long-dormant Diatto nameplate with an exclusive coachbuilt sportscar, and the Italian design house has now released an image of its creation. The Diatto Ottovu Zagato will be unveiled at the Geneva auto show in just a few weeks, powered by an anticipated supercharged V8 sourced from Maserati.

Diatto is one of those brands that history forgot, a century-old Italian carmaker that shut down in 1929. The company was founded in 1905, and on the occasion of its 100th anniversary, albeit two years late, two (evidently well-heeled) collectors commissioned Zagato to build them something special - an undertaking not unlike the Ferrari 575 GTZ, or the niche to which the overlords at Porsche would like to relegate Bugatti.

Like the previous 575 project, which recalled the iconic 250 GTZ, the Diatto Ottovu Zagato was realized to recall the coachbuilt motor-carriages Zagato re-bodied for Diatto some 85 years ago.

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Preliminary press release after the jump.

[Source: Zagato]

Continue reading Zagato reveals Diatto design

 

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentar y series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

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All your license plates are belong to us: System developed that scans plates on the fly

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Bad guys beware, there is new technology that will hunt you down and have you singing the jailhouse blues faster than ever before. Harnessing the power of computers, the ALPR (Automatic License Plate Recognition System) allows police to be far more efficient, by no longer relying on just their sharp set of human eyes to spot suspect vehicles.

There are three cameras fitted to a police vehicle -- marked or unmarked. In the video after the jump, the vehicle is unmarked, and by just driving down the road, every plate from oncoming traffic, and cars on the side of the road (or the next lane), is logged and analyzed. There's also a side-facing camera which comes into play when cruising parking lots. The system can handle up to 3,000 plates a day, an d by making it a passive activity, it turns nabbing bad guys into something akin to playing the lottery.

The system can be anywhere and everywhere, from stationary systems to car-mounted mobile units, there is no hiding from the long arm of the law. All an officer needs to do is drive around. With the system keeping an ever-vigilant watch on all the plates and comparing them with a database of suspect plate numbers, police time is freed up, so they can go about protecting and serving. Heck, while on their way to another call, they may just get lucky and pass a vehicle that "hits", turning it into a bonus score for the day.

Thanks for the tip, Dave!

Video after the jump

[Source: mobilemag]

Continue reading All your license plates are belong to us: System developed that scans plates on the fly

 

[via] Autoblog

Dirtiest Car Write-In: Woman crashes because garbage jams accelerator pedal

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We thought we'd found the filthiest car when we gave away a vacuum last spring, but apparently, Ann Biglan of Massachusetts wasn't going to be passed over again this year. Training hard to win the Dyson, Biglan had crammed her Ford Focus with nearly enough crap to fill a 10-yard dumpster. Perhaps the car was struck by lightning and the decaying organic matter came alive, Johnny Five style. While cruising along in Yarmouth, Massachusetts -- on fairly provincial Cape Cod -- the detritus rebelled. The accelerator and brake pedals were rendered useless as the Focus-turned-refuse-bin rocketed out of a Post Office parking lot, across a freeway careening into a Ford Explorer, backing over a sidewalk and finally coming to rest by smashing a flowerpot in a gas station parking lot. While charged with several violations by the local constabulary, we know that Biglan was just trying to get into top form for this spring's competition. Some athletes are tempted into illegal doping, and true AutoBloggers may also go to extremes, but let this be a lesson to you, dear reader. No Dyson is worth the danger of having your own personal Swamp Thing take over your car and smash it into stuff. Clean that thing up!

Thanks for the tip, Tim!

 

[via] Autoblog