More pics of the Mazda Hakaze concept

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click above image to view all the new Hakaze photos

Mazda has had a successful auto show season so far thanks to the warm reception of its first two concepts, the Nagare and Ryuga. Unveiled at the L.A. and Detroit auto shows respectively, those two concepts were admittedly as far from production ready as you can get. Mazda's third and final concept for this show season, the Hakaze, is said to be the only one of the three that could be made production ready in a relatively short amount of time. Well, we brought you a large gallery of images showing the development and design team behind the Hakaze concept already, but there were only two exterior shots of the vehicle and no interior shots in that batch of snaps. KickingTires.com has come across almost a dozen additinal shots that show the Hakaze in real world situations, as well as the interior.

[Source: KickingTires.com]

Continue reading More pics of the Mazda Hakaze concept

 

[via] Autoblog

Buzz is back: Chery to build Hornet after all?

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Yes, we know, it wasn't that long ago we reported Chrysler Group President Tom LaSorda saying Chery would not build the Hornet show car, but rather supply one of its own models for sales as a Dodge-branded small car in the Chrysler Group's product portfolio. Now Autoweek is reporting that Chrysler is none too happy with Chery's weak efforts to improve the production quality of its own cars. So instead of having Chery supply one of its own models, Chrysler may go ahead on its own with development of the Hornet Concept. The Hornet would still be built by Chery in China, but Chrysler would help the Chinese automaker select suppliers for the production Hornet that meet a satisfactory quality standard.

A Chery spokesman would not confirm the Hornet's production, and a Chrysler spokesman said the deal is still in the early stages and final product has not yet been decided. Jason Vines, vice president for Chrysler Group Communications had this to say via email, "No comment. The Supervisory Board still has to approve the whole Chery deal."

For a quick timeline on this saga, follow the jump.

[Source: Autoweek via China Car Times]

Continue reading Buzz is back: Chery to build Hornet after all?

 

[via] Autoblog

AZ legislator's "obscene mudflap" ban defeated

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Mud flap girlA recent amendment to legislation changing the height requirement for rear splash guards on trucks in Arizona that would have resulted in the ban of mudflap images deemed obscene or hateful has been defeated in the Arizona state legislature. Introduced by Tempe Democrat Ed Ableser, the amendment's restrictions would have encompassed the cheeky chrome naked-lady-silhouette mudflaps we've all seen countless times before. One of the bill's other supporters, Theresa Ulmer (D - Yuma), said that the ban would help promote family values and would also dovetail with efforts to curb pornography and sexual predators.

It's one thing to work the well-intentioned family values angle. You lose us, however, when you mention chrome girlie mudflaps in the same breath as porn and sexual predators. They are kitschy, not criminal. What's next? A ban on Yosemite Sam "BACK OFF" mudflaps because the guns he's holding condone violence? This is the problem you run into when going down this road -- the scope of what's deemed harmful or obscene creeps wider and wider.

[Source: AP via Instapundit)

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[via] Autoblog

Michigan's First Gentleman gushes over Toyota

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Open mouth. Insert foot. The Governor of Michigan's husband, Daniel Mulhern, has a weekly e-mail newsletter in which he talks about business leadership called Reading for Leading. In this week's edition he gushes over an automaker he thinks shows exemplary management style - Toyota. Pause. Did that sink in yet? It didn't strike many as a good use of judgement, including the good folks over at the Detroit News. In his column (accessible through the read link), News reporter Daniel Howes called the first hubby to task and dissected his piece to show how stupid potentially damaging it was.

[Source: The Detroit News]

Continue reading Michigan's First Gentleman gushes over Toyota

 

[via] Autoblog

eBay Find of the Day: The Talon Riot Control Vehicle from Top Gear

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While much of the motoring public has been turning away from the brawny image of large SUVs, there are those among us (Texans?) who will always believe bigger is better. To those people, the Talon Riot Control Vehicle would be considered the best weapon for suburban warfare. It was featured once on Top Gear in which Richard Hammond demonstrated the armored vehicle's unique capabilities. Neighborhood kids dropping malatov cocktails on your front lawn? No problem, the Talon can be fitted with a water cannon to put out the flames and a grenade launcher to ensure those kids will learn their lesson. In its current state the Talon has been decommissioned and comes with those aggressive add-ons wound in bubble wrap and stored in the rear, though the seller says it can be refitted with them easily. The Talon can still, however, drive through a building, as the Hamster demonstrates in this video, and keep right on going. There's even a fridge and bathroom on board in case you battle with the spouse and need some place to crash. This isn't the first time the Talon has found its way on eBay. It appears that back in 2003 it was sold on the site for somewhere around $85,000. With only 19 hours left to go on the current auction and no reserve price in sight, this thing is going to be a steal at or around the current bid price of $10,000.

Great tip, Josh!

[Source: eBay]

 

[via] Autoblog

Suicides at Renault prompt investigation

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Very sad story here. French authorities are beginning an investigation into working conditions at Renault's technical design center, following three suicides among the workforce there. All three have occured since October, when one worker jumped to his death from the fifth floor of the complex's main building. Another worker drowned himself in January, and most recently, an employee was found dead in his home who left a suicide note blaming difficulties at work for his demise.

The CFDT workers union has issued a statement outlining how Renault's recent restructuring has led to increased pressure among the workers, enough apparently to push some over the edge. The union urged the company to evaluate the working conditions of its employees, which must be incredibly stressful. As Renault has recently seen a drop in profits due to an aging lineup and rising costs for raw materials, we can only imagine that the pressure to perform is increasing. Renault, for its part, has said it will look into how these deaths could've been prevented.

[Source: Automotive News, sub. req'd]

 

[via] Autoblog

n2a takes GM retro to the extreme with 789, Wildcat and 5-to-1

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click above image to view high-res gallery of n2a's entire lineup

We've seen the works of n2a (no two alike) around, most recently at the 2006 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. This bespoke coach builder will take a Chevy Corvette or Kappa car and completely reskin it to create a head-turning fusion of retro design cues and modern day engineering. The 789 is perhaps n2a's most well known product. It's named after the three Chevy model years from which it draws inspiration: 1957, 1958 and 1959. A turnkey version of the 789 costs about $135,000, which is decidedly very unretro.

Check out n2a's other two models after the jump and feel free to study the design cues of each car in our high-resolution gallery.

[Source: n2a via GMInsideNews]

Continue reading n2a takes GM retro to the extreme with 789, Wildcat and 5-to-1

 

[via] Autoblog

Autoblog Podcast #58

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Being the pundits we are, we have plenty to say in Autoblog Podcast #58. We start right off addressing the rumors of a GM/Chrysler deal, and offer myraid reasons why it's not a good idea yet may be justifiable to some folks. We move on to flogging the VW/GM suicide commercial debate for a little while, which sets the stage for us discussing the Daytona 500, naturally. It's also revealed that John's on board to give NASCAR as much of a chance as he can stomach this season. So far, that amounts to about an hour and a half before the siren song of video games becomes too loud to ignore. Wrapping up, we trade opinions on th e Maserati Coupe and the Audi A5 before touching briefly on the impending XM/Sirius merger. It's chock-full of good stuff this time around, so enjoy the 'cast! We'll try and have an enhanced version with video up for you as soon as possible.

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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

[via] Autoblog

CONFIRMED (kind of): VW Jetta Wagon will debut in Geneva

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This isn't officially official, but hearsay confirmation has the Jetta Wagon (Golf Variant) bowing at the Geneva show. The Jetta Wagon is expected to land in the US later this year, and we hope it'll drive a surge in wagon interest. We've seen a preview of the basic shape in the form of the Skoda Octavia Scout. We think the Jetta/Golf has a smoother, more attractive face, and without the heavy plastic cladding, the car looks much lighter on its feet. We wouldn't mind the addition of a GLI Wagon to the model range, either. That would make the MkV platform attractive to folks who want a little spice in their ride, but need even more cargo versatility.
< br />Speaking of versatility, a Jetta Wagon is the perfect size for buyers currently opting for soft-roaders like the CR-V or RAV-4, though both of those have grown considerably in their last refresh. We're not sure where the wagon stigma came from, as some of our favorite cars are wagons (a Volvo Turbo wagon, for example, is a thing to behold), and they're far more useful and practical than the sedan versions of the same car. We await the arrival of the Jetta wagon and hope that it will appeal to the fuel-economy geeks among us with an available diesel powertrain, as well as lighting the fires of those who like to round corners quickly with a more sprightly version like the GLI. Combining the two would be a nice touch.

[Source: Carscoop]

 

[via] Autoblog

Sharing is saving: GM to save up to $750 million on Zeta RWD platform

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Click image for a gallery of the Camaro Convertible concept

The new buzzword in Detroit is "common" -- as in common components or common architectures. That's the foundation for everything GM is doing right now, and the Zeta RWD platform is the newest poster child.Engineered in Australia for global use, the Holden VE Commodore was the first Zeta vehicle, and the '08 Pontiac G8 (a rebadged Commodore) is next in line. Beginning in 2009 and beyond, we'll see Zeta appear under the new Camaro and the next Impala. The architecture is special because it can be used for anything from a ponycar to a station wagon and everything in between. GM is estimating global units of Zeta at between 500,000 and 750,000 annually. When compared with a different-chassis-for-different-regions approach, the savings generat ed will be between $500 and $1000 per vehicle. These savings, which can range between $250 million and $750 million annually, result from engineering efficiencies, materials cost savings, plant tooling, and vendor tooling.

Japanese automakers have leveraged common resources for a long time now, which in turn has helped contribute to their cost advantages over the domestics. With a RWD platform that works anywhere on the globe, GM is finally starting to show that they're as serious about 'common' as the competition.

[Source: AutoWeek]

 

[via] Autoblog

Carlos Ghosn adds "Knight" to resume

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This just in: Carlos Ghosn is the man. He has rescued a car company from the abyss, he's been immortalized in Japanese manga, and now he's been knighted on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II by British ambassador to Japan, Graham Fry. Ghosn was bestowed the honorary title in recognition of his contribution to British-Japanese relations. It doesn't hurt that Nissan owns Great Britain's largest automotive factory, which accounts for 20% of total British car production. Ghosn described himself as feeling "proud and humbled' to receive the honor, and called it an acknowledgment of Nissan's 5,600 UK employees.

It's hard to imagine how Ghosn will split up his already crazy schedule of running two automotive companies and sitting with the other knights at the round table...

[Source: Detroit Free Press]

 

[via] Autoblog

GM officially forms "Power Partnership" with Transformers

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click above image to view high-resolution pics of the entire GM cast of characters

During its sixth-annual "ten" pre-Oscar gala last night, General Motors made official what everyone already knew: it's going to be in the live-action Transformers film this summer. They had on hand some of the four main GM vehicles that will be in the film, including "Bumblebee" (Chevy Camaro), "Autobot Jazz" (Pontiac Solstice), "Autobot Ratchet" (HUMMER H2), and "Ironhide" (GMC Topkick). We're certain that every car parked at a meter and waiting for a green light in the Transformers universe will also be of GM descent, but we do know of one vehicle that's not: a Saleen Mustang that plays the evil Decepticon "Barricade". Trust in GM that a full marketing blitz is being planned around the release of its newest commercial on July 4th. Hopefully it won't get pulled from theaters because someone starts complaining that robots are dying.

Check out the pics released by GM of each character from Transformers in our high-resolution gallery. You can also see some live shots of "Bumblebee" and "Jazz" at last night's event here. For more, get a load of the action-figures that will accompany the release of the film.

[Source: GM]

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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

[via] Autoblog

Ariel Atom Experience: Coming to a city (maybe) near you

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Oh, man, wouldn't it be nice to have an Ariel Atom for a day on a wide open track? North America's hook up for the Atom, Brammo, is offering a few lucky folks just that chance. They're loading up a handful of the lightweight two-seaters and touring North America with the Ariel Atom Experience.

At a few select tracks around the country, only 14 drivers a day will get seat time in an Ecotec-powered Ariel Atom 2, along with professional driving instructors personally teaching you how best to handle them. Other amenities include gourmet lunch, in-car video and p hotographers capturing that aer-to-ear grin on your face for all eternity. All this is included in the low price of, uh, well, we don't know yet. The Ariel Atom Experience Web site omits any mention of cost, though it does make clear a 50% deposit is due at the time of booking, which makes us think that a day in an a tiny Atom will take a lot of little Benjamins.

To see a list of tracks and dates, click through to the jump.

Thanks for the tip, Eric!

Continue reading Ariel Atom Experience: Coming to a city (maybe) near you

 

[via] Autoblog