Fuel cell-powered Ford Fusion runs over 207mph at Bonneville

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Click the Fusion for a high-res gallery of the action from Bonneville

Retired Ford employee Rick Byrnes joined the 200 mph club at Bonneville for the third time on Wednesday as he drove the Ford Hydrogen Fusion 999 to a benchmark of 207.297 mph. This marks the first time that a production bodied (sort of) fuel cell-powered vehicle has exceeded 200 mph. After more than a year of development, construction and testing and three days of running on the desert salt, the team finally met its target. Check out AutoblogGreen for more on the technology that made this water vapor emitting car crack the double century mark.

[Source: Ford]

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BMW's 16th Art Car goes all modern art on us

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click above image for high-res gallery

Behold, the latest addition to BMW's Art Car program, where well known artists are given a BMW on which to spill their creative juices. The above "vehicle" is the result of handing over BMW's hydrogen-powered H2R race car to modern artist Olafur Eliasson.

Let's see if we can explain exactly what you're looking at. As mentioned, this piece is based on the BMW hydrogen-powered H2R race car, which looks like this. Eliasson removed the car's body and replaced it with a combination of steel mesh and reflective steel panels. The car was then been sprayed with 530 gallons of water over the course of several days to create layers of ice. Do you get it? Water --> H2O --> Hydrogen. Clever. All told, the work is 5 feet high, 17 feet long and 8 feet wide and lit from within.

[Source: BMW]

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Ah, steering's overrated anyway...

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Ramcharger 52 If we had this puppy, we'd make a CD that was an endless loop of monster truck rally radio commercials. What better soundtrack to blare out the window of this bitchin', rust-enhanced Dodge Ramcharger sporting 52" tires. Billed as an "attention getter" that "steers for the most part," this machine of undoubtedly confidence-inspiring handling can be yours for just $3,000. You know you want it.

"SUNDAY! SUNDAY! SUNDAY!..."

Thanks for the tip, Jake!

[Source: Craigslist]

 

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'Ring-spotting: BMW M3 look-a-like recieves V10 transplant

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You know you're getting a bit jaded when you pass up posting a few shots of an E92 3-series with a M5 V10 under the hood. Been there, done that, right? But we were finally compelled to share it with you when we found out what vehicle was used as the recipient - a new BMW M3. Well, that's not quite true, while this car may look for all the world like a new M3, it's actually a run-of-the-mill E92 3-series coupe that's cleverly dressed to the nines to appear like an M3. The tip-off is that there are no M-parts on the inside. Crazy Germans, though they've obviously done an incredible job fooling everyone.

A forum member over at M3Post was able to snag several shots of the 500 HP coupe while on holiday in Germany, where the Bremgo-tuned M3 imposter was sitting outside the Nurburgring doing its best to look menacing and inviting at the same time.

Aside from the engine switch, the German tuning firm swapped in an M5's seven-speed SMG (doh!), along with ditching the stock thrones for Recaro units and a Hartge carbon-fiber steering wheel. And if you're wondering about the rollers, those are 20-inch AC Schnitzers wrapped in 295/25/20 rubber.

More pics here. Enjoy!

 

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GM may lease Chevy Volt batteries

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In order to sell the Chevy Volt for $30,000 or less, General Motors is considering leasing the lithium-ion batteries to customers who buy the car. As AutoblogGreen points out, renting car parts is an innovative strategy to get the Volt to market in time and at the right price. Having a car payment and a battery payment, however, might not be fun for Volt owners. The upside, however, is that GM would presumably warranty the batteries for the life of the lease, easing concerns over what happens to the battery packs if and when they fail.

In a way, GM has used this tactic in the past. Back in the day, the EV1 electric car was only available to lease, not to own. Of course, as most of us know, leasing the EV1s eventually bit GM in the arse when it went to retrieve the cars and encountered significant resistance from owners who had become attached to them. This plan seems to get around that issue, as a Volt owner will actually own his car, just not the batteries. Of course, if GM ever decides to ask for the battery packs back, owners may be left with a giant generator on wheels.

[Source: AutoblogGreen]

 

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Rendered Speculation: Mercedes 300 SL gullwing revival

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Rumors of a gullwing revival have converged with recent spy shots showing a Mercedes supercar mule undergoing testing last week. According to Auto Motor und Sport, the new M.B. supercar, codenamed W198, will be built on a shortened SL platform and will house the 6.2-liter AMG V8 producing upwards of 600 HP.

The exterior design will take a few cues from Mercedes' iconic coupe of yore, but the retro theme has already been sent back once for being too evocative of the original.

The German buff book asserts that the W198 will make it to production sometime in 2010 with sales in the 3,000 to 5,000 range and priced between €140,000 and €200,000. Whether the Viper-based mule we've seen in spy shots will end up being the gullwing revival, the aluminum SLC, or whether both cars are one in the same, remains to be seen.

[Source: Auto Motor und Sport]

 

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Reader Ride: 2004 Subaru WRX

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Although modded WRXs are a dime a dozen throughout the States, surprisingly few have made it into our Flickr pool - that's just not right. It's one of the most competent platforms going for enthusiasts, and after last year's Subie v. Evo posts, we though it was high time to highlight another well-done Rex as our Reader Ride.

This 2004 model has had the kitchen sink and all the plumbing thrown at it, including an 18G turbo, Turbo XS up-pipe, downpipe and HKS exhaust. High-flow injectors ensure that the heavy breathing is accompanied with the right amount of sacrificial fuel, while a UTEC engine management system orchestrates it all to the tune of 301 AWHP.

According to Autoblog reader and Subie owner Jerome, there's some sort of gravitational pull between a WRX and thieves in Jersey, so he's decided to dispatch the aero bits in favor of a more subdued sleeper look. He seems a bit disappointed by it, but we'd like to assure him that Q-ships are the way to go.

You can follow the jump to read Jerome's own description, along with a couple more photos and instructions on how to submit your own ride for selection.

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It's Pindemonium! Ford expands discount program for employees

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Ford is expanding its employee discount program in an effort to boost domestic sales by labeling its workers as "sales ambassadors" and providing them with five additional discount PINs that reduce the price of any new model manufactured by FoMoCo.

Previously, employees were provided with eight numbers to pass out to friends, family and anyone else the employee deemed worthy. That number has now grown to 13 in a campaign the Blue Oval is dubbing "Pindemonium." Additionally, the more you give away, the more perks you receive, including chances to win gasoline gift cards that you can then hand over to your bro who just bought an F350.

[Source: Freep]

 

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Spy Shots: Production Jeep JT pickup caught testing!

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UPDATE: Mike Levine at Pickuptruck.com speculates that Jeep may be going after the postal fleet market. These mules are right-hand drive (to reach mailboxes perhaps?) and leaf springs (to handle the heavy load of mail maybe?)

click above image for high-res gallery

Everyone fawned over the Jeep JT Concept when they saw what it could actually do. Jeep fanboys and casual admirers alike all recognized that such a small, light-duty pickup would do wonders for the Jeep brand, and if these spy photos from KGP Photography are anything to by, then it appears Jeep is listening. Read the report from KGP below and check out the gallery of high-res spy shots that confirms Jeep is at least developing a Wrangler-based pickup.

We got up-close and personal with what appears to be a mule for a Wrangler-based pickup truck, right along the lines of the Jeep JT truck concept. The rear doors of a four-door Jeep Wrangler Unlimited have been welded shut, and the black composite roof structure has been extended forward to the B-pillar. The roll-down side glass has been replaced with a solid window.

More after the jump...

[Photos: KGP Photography]



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Pebble Beach Week 2007: Inaugural Carmel Concours

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Big gallery available by clicking image above.

After six years of cajoling and lots of hard work, Doug and Genie Freedman finally saw their dream of a Carmel Concours come to life. The Carmel-By-The-Sea Concours on the Avenue was held on Tuesday, August 14, and launched another must-attend event during this already insanely busy week of classic car nirvana. About 130 collector vehicles lined several blocks of Ocean Avenue, allowing visitors to sample automotive history in a relaxed setting. And best of all, it was free. Now THAT doesn't happen very often in Carmel.

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Good luck! Chrysler hires Lexus' ex-president of marketing

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Chrysler has announced that it's hired Deborah Wahl Meyer to be its new vice president and chief marketing officer (CMO), replacing George Murphy, who retired last May. Meyer comes from Toyota, where she's worked since 2001, most recently as the VP of marketing for Lexus. The report from Automotive News pretty much ends there, but we found this article on adage.com that reveals what Meyer may have in store.

It appears Ms. Meyer will report directly to Bob Nardelli, the recently appointed CEO of Chrysler. Mr. Nardelli is expected to slash Chrysler's advertising budget just like he did as CEO of Home Depot. Apparently Nardelli views an advertising budget as a deep reservoir of available funds, as another source expects him to trim it further to pay for Chrysler's extremely high warranty costs at the moment.

So it appears Meyer may have one hand tied behind her back when she becomes Chrysler's new CMO. She must have been aware of the situation when she accepted the offer, however, so perhaps she sees hope in Chrysler's new beginning.

[Source: Automotive News, Ad Age]

 

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Exotic car owners need 'therapy'

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For us car nuts, driving an exotic car for the first time is a lot like hitting a walk-off home run to win the big game. We're full of adrenaline and all we want to do is slam the accelerator until the tach is bouncing off the rev limiter. For the wealthy, fast cars are the norm, and they treat their 911s and F430s much the way we handle our Focus or Accord. The problem with regard to these supercars is that the very same license we need to drive our Cobalt also applies to a 1000-hp Bugatti Veyron, and the ridiculously high crash rate that follows grabs plenty of headlines.

Over in the UK, lawmakers are kicking around the idea of tying your license to the weight of your car relative to its power. An organization called the Institute of Advanced Motorists' Motoring Trust has come up with a test to better equip owners of exotic cars for the crazy power that's created by their cars. Testing includes positioning their car for cornering, anticipating the unexpected and "flair and panache on an open country road where progress can be gained at maximum safety, using optimum road positioning and excellent observation." OK... Our favorite part of the test prepares exotic owners for how to best handle the mental aspect of owning a powerful car. That's right, therapy to ease the burden of owning exotic. If the burden ever gets too heavy for their minds to handle, I'm sure there are some of us schlubs who would gladly relieve them of it.

[Source: The Truth About Cars]

 

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Mr. Toad goes down in flames... a reminder to check tire pressure?

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The feds are so intent on having you check your tire pressure that they're willing to sacrifice toads in the process. Well, not really, but the new NHTSA ad campaign takes a strange tack to inform consumers that summer weather is Hell on tires.

The PSA, posted after the jump, portrays a number of frogs bursting into thin air as the Aussie British voice of God explains the perils of high temps, overloaded vehicles and underinflated tires on the safety of your vehicle. It's a strange, mildly awkward and somewhat insulting attempt to gain our attention, and if we had to guess, NHTSA might be receiving a letter from PETA in the near future.

[Source: NHTSA/Safercar.gov via InsideLine]

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2008 Lincoln Navigator: More features standard, less bling optional

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Click image for photo gallery

Ford has made some welcome changes to the Lincoln Navigator for 2008, mostly centered around equipment levels. Former options such as the Power Liftgate, the PowerFold 3rd row seats, THX audio, SIRIUS satellite radio and heated and cooled front seats are now standard equipment. More importantly, a new Monochrome Limited Trim Package (shown above) is available on the '08, and it looks pretty great, actually. Body-color accents are used for the lower grille (yes!), lower cladding (double yes!), and rearview mirrors (trifecta!). The main grille is still an enormous chrome grid, but it looks better now that the additional shine up front has been muted. This package also leaves out the available chrome hood trim that makes some other Navigators excessively garish. Lastly, a rearview camera is available as an option for the first time.

The 2007 Navigator, though derided by many for its clearly over-the-top looks, was a very competent (the fold-flat 3rd row is a huge plus over the Escalade/Denali seating arrangement), quiet, and comfortable luxotruck. For 2008, Ford's changes address many of the complaints while leaving the maximum-bling edition available for those who want it. We'll take a black '08 with the Monochrome Limited package, thanks. Follow the jump for the full (read: very long) press release from Ford.

[Source: Ford]

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AutoblogGreen for 08.16.07

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A few posts went up on AutoblogGreen yesterday about Tesla Motors: video of ex-CEO Martin Eberhard (also available above), a rumor that the Roadster might be delayed (but we don't think so), and a Roadster prototype goes on a 200 mile road trip. Tesla and more - like a review of Zap's all-electric pickup Xebra PK - for you on ABG.

 

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Happy Woodward! Chevy debuts 2008 HHR SS

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The Woodward Dream Cruise is right around the corner on this Saturday, but Chevy is arriving early with its 2008 HHR SS model that's just been revealed. Of course, we knew an SS version of the HHR was percolating thanks to countless spy photos of development mules testing here and on the Nurburgring in Germany. Nevertheless, 260 horsepower in a tall wagon is pretty exciting, especially one that goes 0-60 in 6.3 seconds and covers the quarter-mile in 14.8 seconds at 98.5 mph.

Those ponies come from the same 2.0L turbocharged and intercooled direct inject Ecotec four-cylinder found in the Pontiac Solstice GXP and Saturn Sky Redline. Here it's mated to a GM Powertrain Sweden F35 five-speed manual transmission or 4T45 four-speed, the latter of which would be heresy to consider unless you fancy yourself a weenie. The FE5 sport suspension, as alluded to above, was tuned on the Ring in Germany and enables the HHR SS to achieve an impressive .86 g. Those 18-inch polished aluminum wheels shod in Michelin Pilot Sport P225/45R18 tires probably help, too.

The aero bits added do much to convince us the SS can hustle, and include new front and rear fascias, rocker moldings, body-colored bits, mesh grille and SS badging all over. Inside resides a pair of deep bucket sport seats with substantial bolsters, a boost gauge mounted on the A-pillar, smaller diameter steering wheel and a manual shifter mounted higher and farther forward.
Check out Chevy's many press releases on the 2008 HHR SS after the jump, and view 24 high-res pics of the vehicle in the gallery below.

[Source: GM]

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IIHS tests reveals that money doesn't always buy safety

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Click the image above for a gallery of all the IIHS contenders.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has just released its most recent round of crash tests, rating everything from the Kia Amanti to the BMW 5-series in one fell swoop. With a focus set on more luxury-oriented vehicles, the IIHS tested six new models to destruction, and walked away with results for front, side and rear impacts.

Topping the list, were the 2007 Acura RL, Kia Amanti and Volvo S80, all of which earned top marks. The S80, not surprisingly, garnered the Institute's Top Safety Pick for overall crash worthiness, rating good in all three categories, plus having standard stability control. The BMW 5-series didn't fare as well, getting a "marginal" score on the side impact test, despite being equipped with side airbags.

Mercedes asked the IIHS to retest the 2007 E-Class after only scoring an "acceptable" rating when test previously. After re-engineering a number of interior bits, the score remained the same, although the Institute noted a slight improvement, but not enough to affect the overall score. IIHS president, Adrian Lund, remarked that the E-class could have earned the Top Safety Pick award if the side impact rating had increased.

The IIHS also retested a revised version of the 2007 Cadillac STS, which included reinforced B-pillars, front door trim and a modified side torso airbag, which resulted in an "acceptable" rating.

The Institute made it a point to say that nearly every passenger vehicle now earns a top rating for frontal crashes, but side and rear impacts remain all over the board.

The full IIHS press release is posted after the jump.

[Source: IIHS]

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Officially Official: 2008 Infiniti EX35 Revealed

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Click image for gallery

Pebble Beach provides the swanky surroundings for the unveiling of the production Infiniti EX35 compact coupe crossover. Introduced in New York as the EX Concept back in April, the car won us over with its appealing styling and gorgeous interior. Happily, both have made the transition to production unscathed. The exterior styling fits right in with the brand's current offerings, and brave Felix Unger types with a passion for keeping things clean will no doubt be thrilled to have the available light cream-colored leather interior shown in the gallery. As with the concept, the IP hood is wrapped in a stitched leather, and black lacquer or maple wood trim adorn the center stack and console. Fans of cloth seating are in luck, too, as its available in the EX.

As was announced by Infiniti in New York, the car arrives with the same 3.5L VQ featured in the G35, and it's tuned to make "over 290 horsepower" here in the EX. Shifts come via a 5-speed automatic. The concept's trick 4-camera Around View Monitor parking assistance system is on the list of available options, and the 60/40 split rear seat has a power folding feature that can be performed from the cockpit or the rear of the car. The other nifty new addition is a scratch-resistant, self-healing finish. Finally, the expected raft of luxury and safety features is, of course, available. Finally, the EX will also be offered in Europe as Nissan establishes the brand there.

This was one of our favorites in concept trim, and if you throw out the show car's magic roof, what you'll see in dealer showrooms is fundamentally the same. That's really good, and we can't wait to get behind the wheel. The US on-sale date will be sometime in December of this year. We've included both production and concept galleries below for your comparison.

[Source: Infiniti]



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