Automotive X-Prize announces 31 competitors for 100mpg challenge

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Sibling-blog AB Green just posted a follow-up story about the Automotive X-Prize. As we reported a few months ago, the same people who put up a bounty to encourage private space flight are doing something similar to encourage fuel-efficient vehicle innovation. The latest release from Automotive X-Prize names the first 31 teams to be accepted into the competition. The list of teams includes some familiar names, like Tesla, Zap, and Phoenix Motorcars. Fuel Vapor Technology and Team Velozzi are there, too. The 31 teams already chosen came from a stack of some 300 applications the Automotive X-Prize group received since announcing their latest competition.

The Automotive X-Prize is designed to get engineers thinking outside the box in terms of fuel economy. The goal is to develop a "commercially viable" vehicle that will get at least 100 mpg. How it's done is up to the individual teams, but they have to keep production in mind to be eligible. They even have to show a business plan proving that they can sell at least 10,000 units a year. The competition starts with peer reviews next year, and then the actual vehicle competitions in 2009. Click over to AB Green for more details.

[Source: AutoblogGreen]


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As seen on TV: Pimps need minivans, too

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Sometimes folks buy a slice of automotive history and put it somewhere safe, away from roads and crowds, so it won't get hurt. If you bought this particular example of automotive history, you'd probably lock it up somewhere safe because, like the folks who are selling it, you wouldn't actually drive it anywhere in public -- outside of Zacatecas.

What is it? It's a truly pimped-out Chrysler Voyager that miraculously survived this transformation on Pimp My Ride. Among the tasties included: black suede ceiling, triple flip down monitors, a 32" footrest monitor, denim upholstery, a lighted floor controlled by remote, lasers, and heart-shaped exhaust tips. Don't expect to haul much, though -- the back end is, of course, nothing but speakers. However, it does come with an advance mobility power sliding door for when grandma needs to get her pimp on.

If you saw the episode and you're really interested, you should know that it doesn't come with the Vroom Box. Whatever that was, it was only a prototype. So if you're a pimp with a family, you chariot is calling. And don't let being light on funds stop you -- the seller even offers a link for a loan.

Thanks for the tip, Sean!

[Source: eBay]


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First time in 102 years: Big 3 lose majority market share to imports

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As we reported in our By the Numbers post earlier today, last month nearly every automaker, import and domestics alike, had a tough time selling cars. The domestics, including General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and the Chrysler Group., had it tougher, however, and for the first time in the automotive industry's 102-year history, the Big 3's market share fell below that of the imported brands combined. The official tally according to Automotive News was 629,569 units sold by the Big 3 and 679,523 units sold by the imports. That works out to a 48.6% market share for the domestics and a 51.4% share for the imports.

Shall we all cry in our travel mugs that our beloved automakers from downtown Detroit, Dearborn and Auburn Hills have lost their leading role in the U.S. market? Hardly, we say. All three domestic heavyweights have realized that bouncing back from their financial doldrums requires ditching their excess and paring down to the essentials. With fleet sales drastically reduced and resources diverted to programs that will bear fruit a few years out, we all know their sales are going to fall, in some cases drastically. Nevertheless, their loss in size and sales will allow each to focus on product more in an environment where what's on the sales floor is all that matters.

And don't fret, the Big 3 still retain majority market share in the U.S. year-to-date. This was just one bad month of sales. One really bad month.

[Source: Automotive News]


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Spy Shots: BMW Z4 hardtop cabriolet

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The 2009 BMW Z4 has been caught out testing again, and by the look of it, the cloth roof is going to go away. The last batch of shots left people wondering what kind of roof the little coupe would wear, with many predicting a continuation of the cloth hood. These shots, however, give a pretty good indication of a retractable hardtop. Instead of the 3-Series' three-piece folding top, the Z4 will merely fold in two. If the shots don't lie, then the SLK won't be able to lord it's folding metal over its competitors much longer. According to our best French and the help of Babelfish, the Z4 will also grow in length from 13.42 feet to 14.11 feet, in order to leave room for a Z2 that will be racier than the 1-Series. It is also claimed that the Z4M will arrive in 2010 or 2011 and come with the 420-hp V8 in the M3.

[Source: Cardisiac]


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Why some folks don't trust valets

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You have a hot car. Your wallet is fat and you go places where self-parking is generally a foreign concept. When you have a Lamborghini Gallardo, the valet you toss the keys to will probably move it around six inches and leave it out front as eye candy for other arrivals. The risk, of course, is that said valet is an idiot who thinks Ferris Bueller's Day Off is a documentary and respects neither you nor your car.

That appears to be the mentality of "skory15," a valet and poster at who bragged about how he took someone's Gallardo out for a joyride without permission. You see, he had to, because it had been parked in front of his valet stand all day, "taunting him." A short time after he had done so, the owner came out, felt the engine cover, and confronted him. "Skory" lied about what he had done (he said he only "took it to the lot and back"), and the unwitting owner thanked him for being "honest." "Skory" then gave him free valet parking for the evening, thinking that made him some kind of hero.

More after the jump. Thanks to those who sent tips.


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By the Numbers: July 2007

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NOTE: Since there were 24 selling days in July 2007 versus 25 in July 2006, the percentages below represent the change in Daily Average Sales rate for each automaker and not the change in raw number of units sold.

One day we're going to replace the image at right with a graphic of a car going up a hill, but today is not that day. July 2007 was a brutal month for the vast majority of companies selling cars and trucks in the U.S. GM was down 18.5% in sales compared to July 2006. Ford was down 15.7%. Chrysler was down 4.6%. Out of those three domestic automakers, only three of their brands improved last month: Land Rover (23.8%), Lincoln (1.9%) and Jeep (8.6%). Heck, even Toyota Motor Co.'s sales decreased (-3.5%)!

Aside from being a slow-selling summer month, there were less less selling days in July 2007 than July 2006, but our percentages below account for that by comparing just the Daily Average Sales rate for each brand and automaker.

There were some pleasant surprises among all that red, however, including BMW, which together with MINI USA, posted a sales increase of 25.1% last month. The brand BMW was the Biggest Winner this month up 26%, but MINI more than held its own by also increasing sales 20.1% over last year. Big ups to Nissan (7.6%) for bucking the trend, as well.

Biggest Winner
BMW26% at 24,295 (07/06: 20,083)

Biggest Loser
Jaguar -40.7% at 1,136 (07/06: 1,997)

Acura -17.7% at 14,381 (07/06: 18,203)
Audi 6% at 7,127 (07/06: 7,005)
BMW 26% at 24,295 (07/06: 20,083)
Buick -26.5% at 16,654 (07/06: 23,609)
Cadillac -5.2% at 17,412 (07/06: 19,124)
Chevrolet -21.9% at 183,103 (07/06: 244,080)
Chrysler -5.4% at 34,631 (07/06: 38,124)
Dodge -10.4% at 65,742 (07/06: 76,394)
Ford -16.2% at 160,590 (07/06: 199,735)
GMC -4.6% at 44,060 (07/06: 48,085)
Honda -1.2% at 126,668 (07/06: 133,601)
HUMMER -27.1% at 4,895 (07/06: 6,991)
Hyundai -4.0% at 43,511 (07/06: 47,205)
Infiniti -5.9% at 9,526 (07/06: 10,546)
Isuzu -8.5% at 1,173 (07/06: 1,336)
Jaguar -40.7% at 1,136 (07/06: 1,997)
Jeep 8.6% at 37,355 (07/06: 35,831)
Land Rover 23.8% at 4,189 (07/06: 3,524)
Lexus -4.9% at 27,141 (07/06: 26,959)
Lincoln 1.9% at 8,929 (07/06: 9,125)
Mazda 3.72% at 25,853 (07/06: 25,963)
Mercedes -10.3% at 18,586 (07/06: 21,591)
Mercury -32% at 10,852 (07/06: 16,635)
MINI 20.1% at 4,069 (07/06: 3,528)
Mitsubishi 2.6% at 10,347 (07/06: 10,502)
Nissan 7.6% at 78,351 (07/06: 75,860)
Pontiac -23.6% at 30,023 (07/06: 40,933)
Porsche 5.0% at 3,230 (07/06: 3,202)
Saab -7.5% at 3,247 (07/06: 3,658)
Saturn -5.8% at 20,368 (07/06: 22,516)
Subaru -15% at 15,438 (07/06: 18,923)
Toyota -4.5% at 196,917 (07/06: 214,867)
Volkswagen -9.5% at 19,653 (07/06: 22,627)
Volvo -3.6% at 9,549 (07/06: 10,323)


BMW Group 25.1% at 28,364 (07/06: 23,611)
Chrysler Group -4.6% at 137,728 (07/06: 150,349)
Ford Motor Co -15.7% at 195,245 (07/06: 241,339)
General Motors -18.5% at 320,935 (07/06: 410,332)
Honda America -3.2% at 141,049 (07/06: 151,804)
Nissan North America 5.9% at 87,877 (07/06: 86,406)
Toyota Motor Co. -3.5% at 224,058 (07/06: 241,826)


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Z4-based AC Schnitzer PROFILE concept should keep a lower one

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Click image for gallery

When we first saw the AC Schnitzer PROFILE, we thought, "Man, that's a slick-looking ambulance." Then we looked more closely and realized it was a BMW Z4. The PROFILE is AC Schnitzer's latest concept creation, based on the current M Coupe, and while it has the guts of a performer, it looks pretty weird.

By the numbers, all's well. 350 horses are paddocked in the engine compartment thanks to a new airbox and remapped ECU. AC Schnitzer also fitted its Short Shift kit and changed the rear axle ratio to 3.91:1. Great.

Not-so-great is the orange-and-white two-tone paint job, which is distracting and pulls attention away from the body kit that is mostly good, actually. However, Schnitzer points to those fender ports and says, "BMW 507!" We see them and think, "Buick!" They call the diminutive roof wing "fascinatingly styled." We think "very ugly" is more apt. The wheels are cool, though. As are the hood vents and exhaust. Nix the portholes, throw the dopey roof wing in the dumpster, paint it one color, and we're in. As currently presented, however, we'll pass, thanks.

[Source: AC Schnitzer]

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