REPORT: "Buy American" still sways shoppers

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The J. D. Power Escaped Shopper Study examines why customers look at one model of car, but ultimately buy another. The result: when it came to choosing a domestic or an import vehicle, shoppers chose one or the other for different reasons.

According to J.D. Power, almost 80% of new-vehicle buyers limit their considerations to only domestic or only imported cars. (A recent Wall Street Journal piece on Detroit's perception gap said 54% of buyers are "import intenders," who only consider foreign cars.) Buyers who chose American generally did so because they simply didn't want to buy an import, with price -- the lack of incentives, say -- being a secondary consideration. Import buyers cited issues with interiors, reliabibility, gas mileage, and resale value as reasons for not buying domestic.

[Source: J. D. Power]

Continue reading REPORT: "Buy American" still sways shoppers

 

[via] Autoblog

LAPD to use GPS projectile to chase crooks

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High speed chases with cops and robbers may make for great TV, but the dangerous activity puts lives and property in danger, and sometimes the bad guy gets away. The LAPD has some of the most elaborate pursuits ever put on tape, but the new StarChase Pursuit Management System may help them nab suspects without as much risk to those around them. The device is mounted on the front end of the police cruiser, and a laser target helps with aim. When the police have the suspect in range, they simply fire a projectile at the fleeing vehicle. Once the small GPS device, battery, and cellular radio are attached to the vehicle, the fuzz can track the perp without having them in plain site, which means the police can keep pedestrians from being a statistic.

Only time will tell if the device will truly work, but it's good to see that the Police are coming up with new technology to keep up with ever-improving criminal tech. Hit the StarChase website to check out a product video demo, it looks pretty cool, but as of right now it doesn't look like the projectile firing device kicks out enough force at high speeds for the tracking device to stick. It's a good thing that such a device wasn't in existence 30 years ago, however, because Smokey and the Bandit would have been one short, uneventful movie.

[Source: The Truth About Cars]

 

[via] Autoblog

Fifth Gear host injured while drifting A-Team van

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Is it just us, or are more high profile folks having more high speed encounters with large, high density objects? Next up in the queue is Tom Ford, presenter for Fifth Gear, who crashed while drifting a van. And not just any van, but a van painted like the A-Team van, home to Hannibal, Murdock, Face, and Monsieur T.

But it wasn't the van above, which is a GMC G-Series model like the one on the show. No, it was more like the one to the right, which is someone else's Bedford Rascal van painted to look like the A-Team chariot. The Bedford normally comes with a 4-cylinder Suzuki engine, is 10 feet long, and takes ten seconds to get to 30 MPH. That's right, 30 MPH.

During his drifting maneuver, Ford put the van on two wheels and then plowed into a safety barrier. Due to a hefty amount of safety gear in the van and on his body, his only major injuries appear to be three broken toes. Crash footage will air during the next season of the show.

[Source: Motor Authority]

 

[via] Autoblog

A few more details on the upcoming Fisker hybrid

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Fisker Tramonto shown for demonstration purposes

Although it barely registered on most of our radars when it was announced a few weeks ago, Fisker Automotive is set to debut an all-new hybrid vehicle. Best known until now as a custom coachbuilder that adds a new suit of custom tailored duds to Mercedes SLs and BMW 6-Series cars, Fisker is set to debut a unique hybrid at the Detroit Auto Show next year. While we reported the basic idea a little while ago, now we have a few more details to share, but still no photos. The car will be a sedan. It will be a plug-in hybrid. It will start at around $80,000. It will debut at NAIAS in January and go on sale sometime in 2009.

Fisker Coachbuild is the company that Henrik Fisker founded after leaving Aston Martin as chief designer. His designs are some of the most elegant and stylish in recent automotive history. The Aston Martins alone earn him a spot in the automotive hall of fame, but he was also with BMW for a while, helping with the Z8 among other projects. So now you might better understand why we eagerly await a glimpse of this new plug-in sedan, that could conceivably beat the big manufacturers to market.

[Source: Fisker via Fortune]

 

[via] Autoblog

A redesigned Ducati Monster on the way for '08

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It's rare that we cover motorcycles on Autoblog, but a new Ducati Monster is too big to pass up. Ducati has rattled off a string of successful new model launches as of late, including the SportClassic range, the 1098 and the Hypermotard. But its true bread-and-butter model remains the Monster. Introduced way back in 1993 with a 900cc 90° V-Twin engine, the Monster is what many think of when they hear the word Ducati. Being that the Monster practically invented the naked bike genre, Ducati doesn't want to mess too much with success when it introduces its totally redesigned Monster in 2008. Rumor has it that the Monster range will include only air-cooled engines with a separate naked bike line featuring versions of Ducati's water cooled engines, including the awesome 1098's Desmo twin.

Take a look at the spy photo here of the new Monster undergoing testing. Little detail can be seen in the super-grainy photo, but a few things that jump out are the high mounted exhaust and the currently in-thing-to-do on naked bikes: a chopped tailsection. We wonder if Ducati should be setting trends, not following them; but we'll wait for official pictures to make any final conclusions on the design. To be sure, though, Ducati has a tough act to follow based on the success and cult following that its current Monster range enjoys, and deservedly so. We're anxiously waiting for November's show in Milan to see the real thing!

[Source: Motorcycle News]

 

[via] Autoblog

Last but nowhere near least, Dodge unveils 2008 Resistol Edition Ram Mega Cab

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click either image to view full high-res gallery of 2008 Resistol Edition Dodge Ram

General Motors unveiled its two-mode hybrid Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon. Ford unveiled a 60th Anniversary package for the F-150 and Super Duty, as well as the 2008 Harley Davidson editions. Finally, Dodge has taken the stage at the Texas State Fair, the new de facto venue for truck announcements, and unveiled the 2008 Dodge Ram Mega Cab Resistol Edition. For those like me who had never bothered to Google "resistol" before, it's a hat, a cowboy hat to be precise. The company who makes them is Dodge's newest co-branding partner, and the resultant love child is a giant truck with a cowboy hat theme. And yes, for your $48,310, Dodge will give you a Resistol Black Gold 20X felt cowboy hat with your truck, but you'll have to buy your own chaps and spurs.

The truck itself is a Ram Mega Cab with dual rear wheels, and is available as a 4x2 or 4x4. 17-inch chrome wheels turned by the company's 6.7L Cummins turbodiesel with a six-speed automatic are standard. What makes this a Resistol truck, however, is the two-tone color scheme of Dark Khaki Metallic and Light Khaki Metallic (who knew cowboys liked khakis so much?). The requisite spate of special badges adorns the exterior, along with a set of new stainless steel tubular running boards. Inside the cab awaits Yuma and Graystone leather seats embossed with the Resistol cowboy hat logo, as well as premium floor mats that have been branded with the company's logo in stitch.

Dodge is only producing a limited run of the Resistol Edition Ram Mega Cab, but declined to reveal how limited, so if you're a cowboy who needs a new horse, might want to mosey on over to your nearest Dodge dealership and make acquaintances with the purveyor.

[Source: Dodge]

Gallery: 2008 Dodge Ram Mega Cab Resistol Edition




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eBay Find of the Day: Charity auction for Dodge Challenger #2

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The second Dodge Challenger to roll off the assembly line is currently being auctioned on eBay, but only to Dodge dealers. (The first Dodge Challenger produced will be auctioned in January 2008 by Barrett Jackson in Scottsdale.)

The winning dealer bidder will get the orange-and-black-pinstriped Challenger SRT-8 with the 6.1-liter HEMI and 5-speed Autostick transmission. The winner also gets VIP passes to the Dodge Challenger 500 NASCAR race at Darlington next May, with first class airfare and lodging, plus a meet-and-greet with Kyle Petty.

Oh yeah, if you win, you have let Dodge take your picture with the vehicle and use it any way they want. Bidding is at $75,000, and all proceeds will go to United Way of Southeastern Michigan.

Thanks for the tip, C.!

[Source: eBay]

 

[via] Autoblog

BMW's fourth brand: Triumph FTW!

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So BMW is considering expanding its reach by including a fourth brand, and Rick Kranz, columnist for Automotive News, thinks he has the answer: Triumph. By playing off the retro-chic invasion started with the new MINI, Kranz maintains that there is a place for Triumph, specifically a small, rear-wheel drive ride that could continue the legacy of TRs and Spitfires from the past.

Using the existing platform that underpins the 1-series and selling Triumph at the scores of MINI dealers seems entirely plausible. BMW's got the technology and incorporating Triumph into the MINI's network could ensure dealer profitability into the future. Plus, BMW already owns the name. Either a Spitfire or TR revival could slot in nicely between the MINI and the Z4, but the only rub is that exact niche is where the new 128i and 135i plans to do battle. Expansion is one thing, but brand cannibalization is another - something that's not addressed in Kranz's column.

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

 

[via] Autoblog

Jim Press never owned a Toyota, wants to form gang with Chrysler dealers

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When the former CEO of Toyota North America (a successful venture, wouldn't you say?) talks, people tend to listen. Press recorded an internal interview that's hosted over at Chrysler's media-only Firehouse blog, which reveals some interesting sides to the man that many hope will be integral in Chrysler's turnaround.

Most media outlets are focusing on his revelation that despite decades on the Toyota payroll, he never once owned a Toyota or Lexus. Currently he owns only a Yamaha motorcycle. That's going to be impractical during a Detroit winter, so he plans to be driving a Chrysler product very soon.

Press also makes the strange comment that if he were to ever participate in a bar room brawl, he'd pick Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge dealers to have his back. We're not sure if Press is expecting fisticuffs at the Firehouse this January, but he seems to be preparing a posse early.

That's just ancillary information, though. We want to hear about what Press is going to do to fix Chrysler, and surprisingly he indicated that a lot of what needs to be done is not in his power to do. Press makes the good point that Chrysler dealers are closer to the customer, and near-term changes have to start with them. His priority appears to be empowering them to make those changes.

[Source: Chrysler]

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[via] Autoblog

2009 Toyota Matrix looks boo-tiful

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Don't be afraid. Click image to enlarge.

SEMA 2008 coincides with Halloween this year, and as we've already reported, Toyota will use the show as a backdrop for the intros of the new Corolla and Matrix. Yesterday, the automaker revealed the first teaser image of the latter, all dressed up in its Halloween costume. Considering the horrific "costumes" some other SEMA exhibitors use to (cough) enhance their cars, we think Toyota is to be applauded for its restraint here. We're sure forward visibility through the eyeholes is not a problem at all. Plus, it probably just passes through other cars, walls, and assorted road obstacles anyway, so collisions aren't a concern, either.

We'll be there to see what's under the sheet next month.

[Source: Toyota]

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[via] Autoblog

Spy Shots: Just announced Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe spied

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Just announced earlier this morning by BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer, this mule for the upcoming Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe was spotted wearing the disguise of a drop top. We're told not to let the convertible looks fool us, as this is not the already available Phantom Drophead Coupe. It is, however, remarkably similar to the 101EX Concept unveiled at the 2006 Geneva Motor Show. The production version should feature the Phantom's massive 6.75L V12 engine producing prodigious amounts of power in the neighborhood of 450 to 500 HP. Whereas the Drophead Coupe is a cruiser, expect the Phantom Coupe to be a driver's car unlike anything we've seen from Rolls-Royce in recent memory. That is, until a new line of smaller, less expensive Rolls-Royce models begin rolling out of Goodwood to take on the Bentley Continentals of the world.

[Source: World Car Fans]

 

[via] Autoblog

CAR Online first to drive Ferrari F430 Scuderia

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Ferrari's new F430 Scuderia is already being touted as one of the greatest road-going Ferraris of all time, and for good reason. Based on the current F430, the donor car undergoes a raft of changes including a substantial weight loss program and some power mods. The Scuderia also features a new traction control system that combines the E-Diff electronic differential and the F1-Trac traction and stability control in a single integrated system.

CAR Online has now compiled a collection of media materials containing almost everything you'd want to know about the latest Ferrari supercar. You will be able to read an initial drive report (the first as far as we know), check out a couple of videos of the car going around a track and then finish it off with a comprehensive video road test. There's also a chance to win some paraphernalia including a Ferrari Lego racer, a Scuderia press kit and more.

After you've had your fill of the Scuderia, there's also a detailed report on the future entry-level Dino model as well as a F430 successor. After all that you'll definitely be seeing red.

You'll find a video review of the new F430 Scuderia after the jump.

[Source: Car Magazine]

Continue reading CAR Online first to drive Ferrari F430 Scuderia

 

[via] Autoblog

Look Mom, No Arms! Armless Tennessee man learns to drive

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From the Feel Good Files: Roger Rice was born with no arms, but that hasn't stopped him from learning to write, type, dial a phone, and raise a family. He also runs a non-profit called Look Mom, No Arms, that is working to build a center for assistive technology to benefit others like him.

Nor has his disability stopped him from wanting to drive, and it appears he'll finally be able to do it. With the help of Reed Trickett of Trickett Honda in Madison and Beaman Automotive in Nashville, Tennessee, Roger is going to get the van, the equipment, and the training he'll need to drive. He will steer with one foot, accelerate and brake with the other, and use his left shoulder for other controls. He should have his license within a year, after passing a range of tests. Good luck, Roger.

[Source: WKRN.com]

 

[via] Autoblog

Meet the Audi TT-T, the last T stands for Truck

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Most people buy pickup trucks for one reason, and one reason alone: to carry stuff. They don't buy pickups because they want to drive a sports car and carry a few items on the weekend. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule as evidenced by this Audi TT sports coupe, which was converted into a pickup by having its rear hatch replaced with an open flatbed.

As the images reveal, the owner of this oddity does like to use it as a genuine workhorse but, being a sports coupe, the cargo space was always going to be severely limited. The fact that there appears to be no tonneau cover also suggests that this could just be a running joke or a method for this tradesman to promote his business in a comical way. Whatever it is, it's starting to make us sick the more we look at it. We just hope nobody else has any similar ideas.

[Source: German Car Zone]

 

[via] Autoblog

Porsche responds to disparity in Canada by slashing 2008 prices

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Thanks to a commenter on our previous post about the $2B class-action lawsuit being filed against automakers over the price discrepancy between cars sold in the U.S. and Canada, we learned that Porsche Cars North America is the first automaker to announce that it will be sharply reducing the prices of its vehicles sold in Canada. Overall, the price of a 2007 Porsche model compared to a 2008 will go down a full 10%, so a 2007 Cayman that cost $69,600 in Canada last year will cost $63,500 today. Unfortunately, a 2008 Cayman in the U.S. still only starts at $49,400, but at least it's something.

Peter Schwarzenbauer, President and CEO of Porsche Cars North America, Inc., said yesterday in a press release, "We cannot ignore our customers and dealers in Canada who can look to the U.S. and recognize a substantial price difference." Unfortunately, this ginormous price difference still remains, as we illustrate after the jump. Porsche released a list of the new and old pricing for all of its models, but we went through the list and added the current MSRP for each vehicle in the U.S. The differences in price were so large to begin with that a 10% price drop across the board does little to reduce the disparity.

Nevertheless, Porsche does deserve props for at least acknowledging the disparity, though we aren't sure its actions to alleviate it will stop many from crossing the border to pick up their sports car from Stuttgart.

[Source: Porsche]

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GM hybrid SUVs get 21 mpg city/22 mpg highway

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click above image for new pics of the 2008 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid

Finally! For months and months we've been hearing that the upcoming two-mode hybrid SUVs from General Motors will have better fuel economy by this or that percent. Today we learned from Automotive News exactly how much better they'll be. The 2WD version of the Tahoe and Yukon Hybrids will achieve 21 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway, while the 4WD version will get 20 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway. For comparison's sake, the 2008 Chevy Tahoe 2WD gets 14 mpg city and 20 mpg highway from its 5.3L V8.

We had a chance to drive GM's pair of two-mode hybrids recently, and we're pretty amazed at just how normal they felt. Since they are true hybrids, both will pull away from stop on pure electric power, which is a bit eery at first. Mash the throttle, however, and you'll be extremely surprised at how fast these hybrids accelerate. Their two-mode hybrid system is mated to a 6.0L V8, which, in combination with an assist from the electric motor, can really move these SUVs down the road. Together they produce 332 HP and 367 ft-lbs. of torque, which also allows for a 6,200 lbs. towing capacity!

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

Gallery: 2008 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid

Continue reading GM hybrid SUVs get 21 mpg city/22 mpg highway

 

[via] Autoblog

Happy Birthday Ford F-150, have a 60th Anniversary special limited edition truck

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click above image to view high-res pics of the 2008 Ford F-150 60th Anniversary

The original Ford F-1 pickup went on sale way back in 1948. The post-war market fell in love with it, and the Blue Oval's most successful vehicle ever was born. Over 33 million examples have been sold, making it the best selling vehicle of all time. It's been the best selling truck in America for 30 years, and for 26 of those years was the best selling vehicle overall. There's no argument that America loves its trucks, and Americans love the Ford F-150.

At the Texas State Fair today, Ford will introduce a special 60th Anniversary special limited edition package for the F-150 and Super Duty to celebrate the truck's big birthday. We're a bit underwhelmed by the truck that Ford is showing, however, since it's basically just a badge job. Commemorative 60th Anniversary badges adorn the exterior and interior of the truck, with a special laser engraved plate on the center armrest showing the serial number of each of the 7,500 F-150s and 2,500 Super Duty's sold with the special package. The trucks will be offered with a two-tone paint job that either lays Dark Shadow Gray over Ebony over does the reverse. There'll be lots of chrome, too, as the trucks include the XLT Chrome package with a chrome grille, running bars and exhaust tips, while the Super Duties also get chrome wheels.

Being the F-150, you can get the 60th Anniversary special limited edition package on a dizzying array of configurations, which we'll let you peruse in Ford's press release after the jump.

[Source: Ford]

Continue reading Happy Birthday Ford F-150, have a 60th Anniversary special limited edition truck

 

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[via] Autoblog

AutoblogGreen for 09.27.07

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Hey Autoblog readers - AutoblogGreen knows you just can't get enough of John Neff, so we strongarmed him into joining us for our latest Podcast. Listen to him show you his greener side. Very nice. Other good stuff from yesterday's collection of links = solar-wheels on a bicycle and serious worries about those Prius (and Avalon) floor mats.

 

[via] Autoblog

2008 Harley-Davidson Edition Ford F-Series

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Click the image above for high-res shots of the 2008 Harley-Davidson Edition Ford F-Series pickup.

The new for '08 Ford Harley-Davidson F-Series Super Duty is what you've come to expect after walking ten times around this dual-branded block. Harley owners not willing to ride in the rain (we can't blame them) and others that like to emulate the leather- and chrome-clad image have purchased over 60,000 of the things in the last eight years. This time around it's a celebration of the Pennsylvania-based biking outfit's 105th anniversary, coinciding with Ford's own celebration of building cars for just as many years.

Paint schemes are inspired by Harley's special-edition 105th anniversary motorcycle and come in one of two flavors: either a two-tone, black and "Vintage Copper" combo or an all black body with copper pin striping. According to Brad Richards, the Ford/Harley brand manager, the chrome side vents and grille are inspired by the heat diffusers found on the cylinder heads of the V-Twin, and the 20-inch polished wheels bring the theme home.

The "Vintage Copper" color finds its way inside, accenting the leather seats and panels, while anniversary Harley badging adorns the front and rear thrones, plus a serialized plaque mounted on the armrest.

You can get all the details in the press release after the jump and peruse the gallery below for a handful of high-res shots.

Gallery: 2008 Harley-Davidson Edition Ford F-Series

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[via] Autoblog

Fancy a topless Scirocco? VW's got you (un)covered

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Auto Express seems to have the inside scoop on a convertible variant of the upcoming Volkswagen Scirocco coupe, likely to go on sale sometime in 2009. The standard fixed-roof Scirocco is expected to take cues from the IROC concept that debuted back in Paris in 2006 and be built off the same architecture that underpins the Volkswagen Eos convertible. That will allow the convertible version of the Scirocco to benefit from a retractable hardtop mechanism inspired by the Eos, although VW's engineers will probably ditch the rear seats in an effort to maximize storage space. With the top up, parcels can be stowed with room to spare in the trunk, and when the urge to enjoy open-air motoring strikes, there'll be an ample amount of space to throw a murse and a few other amenities behind the front seats. Naturally, rollover hoops will be mounted to score points in the safety department.

[Source: Auto Express]

 

[via] Autoblog

Japan: Toyota reveals Mark X ZiO

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Joe Camel spends a night with an R Class, and what do you get? The Toyota Mark X ZiO. Surprisingly stylish, the "new class vehicle" from Toyota is further proof that the rest of the world gets their interesting stuff while we're stuck with the geriatric Corolla, fugly Solara, and various bulbous Utility Giants. The production realization of the FSC concept from 2005, the ZiO is available in two versions, the four-cylinder 240G, or the more sprightly 350G with a 3.5-liter V6. With four large doors and a well appointed interior, not to mention the car-like demeanor, this is a far more useful and practical vehicle than, say, the Highlander. Its pricing puts it in the mid-to-high $20,000s for Japanese consumers -- RAV-4 territory. The target customers are up and coming 30 and 40 year olds, and were it to ever come Stateside, there might be family appeal for people that'd buy a Camry wagon if afforded the choice. Not everyone wants to pretend they're Ivan Stewart.

[Source: Winding Road]


 

[via] Autoblog

Direct fuel injection coming to Ferrari in 2009

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Direct injection has allowed automakers like Audi to compete on horsepower without the need to boost displacement, and the added fuel economy and reduced emissions has helped push the technology as the next big thing on the green scene. Ferrari has seen the benefits of what direct injection can do, and the Italian supercar maker plans on adding the technology to Enzo's babies by 2009. Ferrari is using Audi as its benchmark, due to the fact that the German automaker has used DI successfully in several different engines.

Direct injection will first infiltrate the Ferrari lineup with the updated F430, and a ten-percent bump in power will be the most noticeable byproduct of the engine upgrade. When opening up the engine bay, things will look different as everything from the block up has to be redesigned. New cylinder heads, valve trains, intake, and throttle bodies will need to be updated for DI to make its way into the famous engine bays. Direct injection will also reduce emissions by 40-percent, which will bring the powerful sports car to more acceptable levels of pollution.

Look for the 612 Scaglietti and the 599 GTB Fiorano to receive DI next, and all applications will receive a 5- to 8-percent bump in fuel economy once the engine tech is incorporated. While direct injection will undoubtedly change the personality of Ferrari's sought-after powerplants, we're sure the ten-percent power bump and improved green stature will help everyone become accustomed to the change.

[Source: Autocar.co.uk]

 

[via] Autoblog