Top Gear provides some Monday morning "hair of the dog"

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For those of us who just can't get enough of Jeremy, James and the Hamster (and, of course, the Stig) there is now even more to be had. As the new season kicks off this weekend in Britain, (when do we get the new episodes here?) the Top Gear website will be adding a bunch of extra content on Monday mornings after the show airs on Blighty TV. Look for outtakes, new blogs from the presenters, and extra behind-the-scenes content. Apparently, the in-studio News segment is not usually accomplished in a single live take. Whoda thunk it! The News Uncut segment features the bits that don't get aired.

[Source: Top Gear]

 

[via] Autoblog

2008 Scion xB stereo iPod controller can't pause!

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There is a 2008 Scion xB in the Autoblog Garage right now that you'll be hearing all about soon. One of the cool features of the new xB is a standard iPod interface that you can control from the head unit. Just plug in the iPod and the ID3 tag information displays on the radio. The knob on the lower right acts as a joystick so you can navigate the standard menus and you can even fast forward, reverse, and toggle shuffle or repeat modes. For all that cool stuff, there is one major fly in the ointment. After reading the manual and pressing all the buttons, there appears to be no way to pause the iPod. Once the iPod is plugged in, the click wheel is disabled so you can't even reach down and manually pause the unit yourself. You can mute it but it keeps playing. Why can you navigate playlists, artists and genres but not pause? If anyone out there knows of a way, please chime in via the comments.

 

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Leaked: JDM Subaru Impreza WRX STI brochure

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Click image for more brochure photos

NASIOC has long been a bonanza of leaked photos and info relatingng to all things Subaru, and today, user "fyinpig" keeps that tradition going with brochure shots of the JDM Subaru Impreza WRX STI ahead of the car's official debut later this month. As you can see, the muscled-up hatch will be available in 7 colors in Japan, with three different wheel styles. Inside, there's no shortage of STI logos, so your passengers won't confuse your machine with the standard WRX. Key numbers you'll undoubtedly be interested in include:
  • 304 hp @ 6400 rpm
  • 311lb-ft @ 4400rpm (41:59 torque split)
  • Weight: 3263 lb (subtract an additional 22 lbs. if fitted with optional BBS wheels)
Head over to the NASIOC thread for all the info and an ongoing discussion.

[Source: NASIOC]

 

[via] Autoblog

Pics Aplenty: 2008 BMW M3 Sedan - desktop wallpaper-sized pics

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click on any image to view high-res gallery of 2008 BMW M3 Sedan

In our haste to bring you news of the 2008 BMW M3 sedan being unveiled, we showed you the best official pics we could find at the time, which were only 800 pixels wide. We don't know many people with 800 pixel-wide monitors, so we updated our gallery with high-resolution pics straight from BMW. They're 1,280 pixels wide, which should cover most screens corner to corner.



We noticed a couple of things about BMW's new M sedan this time around that we missed before. Take a closer look at the steering wheel, which features red and blue stitching that mimics the M colors. Also notice two shots of the M3 Sedan's trunk at the end of the gallery. One shows a parcel shelf that slides out from underneath the trunk's ceiling, while the other shows how much cargo room is available with the back seats folded forward. We thought these pics particularly interesting because they illustrate the entire point in BMW making an M3 sedan: more utility. The M3 Coupe is great, but not nearly as practical as the M3 Sedan will be.

To download the larger pics, just browse the gallery and right click on your favorite pics. Save the images to your computer, and the 1,280 pixel-wide version will be downloaded regardless of what size pic you're looking at.

[Source: BMW]

 

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Ford is biggest spender on R&D

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According to a European Commission report, Ford is the car industry's biggest spender on R&D. Ford was number one until this year, but got outspent by pharmaceutical company Pfizer. (The Blue Oval vs. the blue pill...who knew?) Ford spent somewhere between $7.4 billion and $8.2 billion dollars developing its product line.

Carmakers have generally owned the top positions in the world's R&D expenditures. As recently as 2004, the top five R&D spenders were Ford, DaimlerChrysler, Toyota, Pfizer, and GM. The pharmaceutical and tech sectors have raised their spends by the greatest percentage, though, and now only Ford remains in the top four. Europe's biggest automotive R&D spender was DaimlerChrysler at $7.34 billion. We would be really interested to get the breakdown in Ford's spend, specifically to see how much goes to its European models vs. American models.

[Source: Detroit News]

 

[via] Autoblog

Chrysler recalling Sebring and Avenger yet again

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According to the USAToday, the new Avenger has had its share of engineering issues, something that the publication allowed Chrysler to respond to in depth within its review. As if being publicly humiliated by one of the largest papers in the land wasn't enough, yesterday's duo of recalls is being followed by yet another safety issue plaguing both the Dodge Avenger and the Chrysler Sebring.

A fan motor on 102,042 Avengers and Sebrings can apparently catch fire when coming into contact with engine coolant. The recall affects both 2007 and 2008 models, and owners should expect to receive notification next month to replace either the wiring or the motor itself.

[Sources: USA Today, The Truth About Cars, Detroit News]

 

[via] Autoblog

Spy Shots: 2009 Mazda3

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Brenda Priddy and her camera-wielding spies caught the new Mazda3 undergoing testing, and although the shots themselves don't provide much detail, per usual it's more than meets the eye. The hacked-up front end indicates that a new fascia is on the way, likely to conform with the automaker's penchant for swooped-back headlamps and larger fender blisters. Out back, a new dual exhaust arrangement will help to expel exhaust gases from either a 148 HP 2.0L four, or an upgraded 2.5L mill that will increase output between 20 and 30 HP over the outgoing 2.3L engine.

What lies beneath the awkwardly assembled body panels is more compelling, as the new Mazda3 is built atop the next-generation Ford Focus C1 platform. So even though Ford still neglects North Americans by not offering the Euro-Focus at home, you can get your hands on the good bits when the new Mazda3 goes on sale here in 2009.

[Source: Inside Line]

 

[via] Autoblog

Tokyo 2007 Preview: Honda DN-01 motorcycle features automatic transmission

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Click image to enlarge

Automatic transmissions in motorcycles are not new, with Ridley being one manufacturer currently producing them. In fact, back in the 1970s, Honda and Moto Guzzi both produced motorcycles with automatic transmissions, each with two forward gears. Honda called its system "Hondamatic" and the bikes are still in demand today because of their shiftless nature. That older machine used an automatic transmission quite similar to the one that came with the Civic, complete with a torque converter. Honda has also used an automatic centrifugal clutch on many of its small-bore play-bikes from the 1950s on. So it's not too big of a surprise that Honda is going to be introducing the DN-01 at the 40th annual Tokyo Motor Show, complete with an automatic of its own called the Human-Friendly Transmission (HFT). After the break, we'll give a brief description of this new transmission. As you'll see, it's a very different animal from what has been offered before.


[Source: Honda]

Continue reading Tokyo 2007 Preview: Honda DN-01 motorcycle features automatic transmission

 

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From the coffee table to TV: Ralph Lauren collection on Discovery

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Among our top three Christmas gifts from last year was Speed, Style and Beauty, a masterwork of images and text that details some of the many vehicles owned by fashion mogul and car guy-extraordinaire Ralph Lauren. It's proved to be our defacto time-waster when there's nothing on the tube and little to report on the site. While static shots of one of the most comprehensive collections is all well and good, Discovery will be upping the ante this Saturday at 8PM EST/PST when it premiers Speed, Style and Beauty: Cars from the Ralph Lauren Collection. Those of you wired for HD will be particularly enthralled, as the whole show was shot in High Definition... lucky bastards.

Included in the collection is a 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 prepped for the Mille Miglia, a 1930 M-B SSK, 1955 Jaguar XKD, a '96 McLaren F1 and the coup de coupe, a 1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic. All delectable, and all highly sought after. But then, what would you expect from a man like Lauren?

[Source: Discovery Channel via Winding Road]

 

[via] Autoblog

NASCAR nabs another: Dario Franchitti joins Chip Ganassi Racing

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NASCAR is continuing to sample the international flavor of motorsports. The sport that began as moonshine runs in the wilds of the South has, in a short time, raised its profile here in America and is now threatening to do it elsewhere.


Scottish driver Dario Franchitti took the Indy 500 and the IRL championship this year with the Andretti Green team. Now he's leaving the team and the series to join Juan Pablo Montoya at Chip Ganassi Racing's NASCAR team.

The move will pair Franchitti with Montoya and Felix Sabates in the Ganassi team, and Jacques Villeneuve with Bill Davis Racing in the new international contingent. The international drivers are also getting attention from international sponsors, with Russian and Spanish companies calling for spots on Ganassi cars.

Dario starts his NASCAR run in the feeder ARCA RE/MAX Series race this weekend at Talledega. From there he'll graduate to the Busch Series (soon-to-be Nationwide Series), and then do an official Cup race some time before 2008.

Thanks for the tip, Dave!

[Source: ESPN.com]

 

[via] Autoblog

Walkaround: 2008 Pontiac G8 GT

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Click image for photo gallery

At the East Coast edition of the 2008 GM Collection, El General had one of his preproduction Pontiac G8 GT sedans on display for everyone's inspection. The car on hand was a red GT with an automatic transmission, the revised silver Pontiac badge, black leather seating. Unfortunately, the G8 at the event was eye candy only -- no driving allowed. Still, it was unlocked, and I was able to check out the production-spec interior up close. Follow the jump for a quick rundown and first impression of how it all looked

All Photos (C)2007 Alex Núñez / Weblogs, Inc.

Continue reading Walkaround: 2008 Pontiac G8 GT

 

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2008 BMW M3 Sedan unveiled!

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click above image to view 28 pics of the 2008 BMW M3 Sedan

We've been waiting a long time for BMW to snap out of its haze and bring us a four-door version of the venerable M3 coupe. That time has officially come. And it turns out the leaked photo from earlier today was probably from BMW itself, as even though it wasn't included in the official batch of images released tonight, it's the same car you're looking at here.

On the outside, the M3 sedan gets plenty of work done to its front and rear fascias, leaving everything between the A-pillar and C-pillar intact from the base 3-Series sedan (sorry, no carbon fiber roof for the sedan). The front end is a complete carryover from the M3 coupe, with wide fenders, a dramatic front clip, bulging hood and vented quarter panels. Out back, a small lip spoiler sits atop the trunk, while M-specific quad pipes let Bimmer cognoscenti know that they're behind something special.

Naturally, the M3 sedan benefits from BMW's new 414 (SAE) HP 4.0L V8, allowing the 3,531-pound four-door to reach 60 MPH in 4.9 seconds and on to an electronically limited top speed of 155 MPH. In a move that should make family-oriented speed freaks burst into tears, BMW will only be offering a six-speed manual version at launch. Although, according to previous reports, BMW's dual-clutch M-DCT gearbox should be available at a later date. The chassis, suspension and interior also benefit from a host of upgrades, all available to read about in the press release after the jump and view in our gallery below. Look for the M3 sedan to debut in Los Angeles next month.

[Source: BMW via Motive]

Continue reading 2008 BMW M3 Sedan unveiled!

 

[via] Autoblog

Officially Official: Spyker F1 team sold

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After losing 13m euros in the first half on 2007 and making limited progress in this season's championship bout, Spyker has finally decided to offload its F1 team to a consortium of Indian investors. Orange India Holdings, headed by Vijay Mallya, chairman of the UB Group, purchased the company for 88m euro -- 14m euros more than Spyker initially paid for the team last year.

Rumor has it that with Mallya heading up the team, Narain Karthikeyan, an Indian test driver for Williams, may take the helm of the newly founded F1 team next season. Something that would really draw out the crowds if India hosts a race in 2009.

[Source: Spkyer]

 

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Lewis Hamilton cleared of wrongdoing in Japan crash

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FIA stewards have decided not to penalize Hamilton for erratic driving at last weekend's F1 Grand Prix at Fuji. The stewards watched new footage of the incident taken by a fan and posted on YouTube, then deliberated for hours. Their decision stated "what has become apparent is the view clearly expressed by all drivers and team managers alike that the conditions at Fuji were exceptionally bad and worse than those experienced when the race starts behind the safety car. Because of those views, the stewards accept that it may be inappropriate to impose the penalty normally applied for an offense such as this."

Toro Rosso driver Sebastian Vettel, who was so busy watching Hamilton's driving that he crashed into the back of Red Bull driver Mark Webber, was also spared. The stewards formerly imposed a 10-position grid penalty on the 20-year-old German for the incident, but rescinded that in place of nothing more than a formal reprimand.

[Source: Daily F1]

Editor's Note: We would have embedded the video of the crash after the jump, but according to YouTube, Formula One management has deemed the amateur video copyrighted material. L-A-M-E.

 

[via] Autoblog

Mercedes confirms BLUETEC diesels will be in Europe by year's end

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E-Class Bluetecs have been available for about a year, where they account for 20-percent of sales. Now Mercedes' Bluetec-engined cars will be available for purchase in Europe by the end of this year. E-Classes with Bluetec will go on sale in December in all but the UK. Right-hand drive versions are expected at some point in the future, but it is unknown when.

"Bluetec" describes Mercedes diesel engines that utilize it's AdBlue reductant and DeNOX particulate filter. The engines get better gas mileage and produce fewer emissions. Though E-Class Bluetec's will join the European market soon, and the GL-, M-, and R-Class Bluetec's will also join the US market soon, similarly-equipped C-Class, won't appear in any markets until 2009. The C250 is claimed to get 57.7 mpg, while a C300 Bluetec hybrid gets a claimed 61.4 mpg.

The hybrid wars have been going on in the US for some time now, and when asked why launch the Bluetec in America first, a Mercedes UK spokesman said "The focus has been on the big prize which is converting America." If those mileage claims are proved in real-world use, then Mercedes conversion efforts should get a huge push when the C arrives.

[Source: Merecedes-Benz]

 

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Saab looks to downsize...engines, that is

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With stricter European emissions controls looming, expect to see Saab jump on the "less is more" (or, at the very least, "less is equal") bandwagon, joining companies like Renault and Volkswagen, which have begun implementing smaller engines that provide power comparable to larger units. In an interview, Saab Great Britain's managing director Jonathan Nash stated that smaller-displacement turbocharged E85 engines are likely to appear in the near term. Look for them to ape the success of the currently-available, larger BioPower engines that are top-sellers in Sweden. Those motors make more power on Ethanol than gasoline, and Saab feels it can go smaller without forcing drivers to accept a performance penalty. For consumers to take full advantage, their markets need to have readily-available E85 of course. Longer term, Nash says that the Biofuels and hybrid technology are probably the future of Saab, and you might remember that this combo was previewed last year in the Saab BioPower Hybrid concept.

[Source: 4Car]

 

[via] Autoblog

Honda CRX successor coming to Tokyo?

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The Scooper of Cars seems to have it on good authority that during Honda's press conference in Tokyo, the Big-H plans to take the wraps off a new compact, rumored to be a successor to the CRX.

Originally, it was thought that the Remix concept that debuted in L.A. would foretell the future of Honda's hatch revival, but due to the chilly reception afforded both it and Geneva's Sports Coupe Concept, Honda designers were sent back to their respective cubicles to hone the shape further.

We'll be on hand in Tokyo when Honda rolls out its debuts, but until then, we're still looking for a yellow 1989 model, preferably with an Si logo on the glass hatch.

[Source: Carscoop]

 

[via] Autoblog

Porsche rewards employees with $7,000 bonus

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While comparing Porsche to General Motors is beyond a stretch, we couldn't help but think about last week's UAW strike against the General while reading about Porsche giving away $7,350 in bonuses to over 8,000 full-time employees. Must be nice to be part of a profitable automaker - even if it's from sales of the Cayenne.

The automaker hailing from Stuttgart sold 97,515 cars during its fiscal year, ending on July 31. Those sales rose over the same period by 3.4-percent, bringing total income to $10.5 billion for the year. When the accountants finally get done doing the math, it's expected that Porsche will make a pretax profit that's considerably more than the approximately $3 billion it made last year. Good news for everyone involved, and it's certainly nice to see an automaker passing along the profits to its workers.

[Source: IHT]

 

[via] Autoblog

First official pics of Nissan GT-R?

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Will it ever stop? Between spy shots, Goodwood hill climbs and GT5 previews, we're almost to the point of GT-R overload. Then we start thinking about the next generation ATESSA all-wheel drive setup, the stroked 3.8-liter motor, and the two turbos hanging off the exhaust manifold, and we come to our senses. Godzilla's making a comeback, and it's just over two weeks away.

This newest shot comes courtesy of CAR, and although we've seen the Nissan GT-R in profile before, some of the more subtle elements caught our attention. The deeply drawn panel aft of the front wheels, the headlamps that almost stretch halfway across the quarter panel, the subtle front lip -- it all spells kick-ass in our lexicon, and we absolutely can't wait for its reveal in Tokyo.

[Source: CAR]

 

[via] Autoblog

In-car texting made easy

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The mousetrap and mouse are locked in a constant battle for supremacy. The same is true with laws prohibiting texting while driving and the drivers who simply must text behind the wheel. Enter the capitalists: Microsoft and Nuance. Nuance makes voice recognition software and, combined with the Microsoft Sync system available in many Ford models, the driver would be able to dictate a text message to the car, and perhaps eventually do the same with e-mail.

A Nuance spokeswoman said "We are aiming for natural communication between car and driver, which will have benefits for concentration and safety." The way things are going, there are simply so many more things you can do in a car that we wonder how the increased ability to multitask, even if by voice, will ultimately aid concentration on actual driving. But we'll wait to see how it all shakes out before issuing judgment...

[Source: Auto Express]

 

[via] Autoblog

Corvettes to challenge Porsches and Ferraris in ALMS GT2 in 2008

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General Motors still hasn't announced whether the factory GT1 Corvette C6Rs will be return to the American Le Mans Series in 2008, but there will be 'Vettes on the grid next year. Riley Technologies is building a pair of GT2 C6 Corvettes that will be run by Lou Gigliotti's team. GM has approved of the program, but they are not directly involved. They aren't the only new entrants in the GT2 class. Primetime Race Group will be preparing a customer Dodge Viper with factory support that is expected to debut at Sebring and Doran Racing is prepping a Ford GT. The GT2 class looks like it might the series to watch in 2008 with Porsches, Ferraris, Corvettes, Vipers and a Ford GT.

[Source: American Le Mans Series]

Gallery: 2007 Detroit GP: ALMS Race

 

[via] Autoblog

Australians get 404 hp/398 lb-ft FPV Cobra

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Click image for brochure gallery

While we wait for Ford to let the SVT gang loose on one of the Oval's US-market sedans, it's business as usual in Australia, where the awesome can't be stopped, and the current-gen FPV Falcon isn't going away quietly. Today's evidence: the just-announced FPV Cobra, a limited-edition Boss 302-powered tire incinerator that comes in both sedan and ute form. (Oh, the Boss 302 moniker stands for 302 kilowatts, not cubic inches, btw.) All Cobras are white with blue stripes, and the 5.4L Boss 302 V8 dishes out 404 horses and 398 lb-ft of torque. All that juice is directed aft via a standard 6-speed manual or a ZF 6-speed auto that's available at no additional cost.

Other baubles include standard leather, spiffy 19" wheels, Brembos (which can be further upgraded as well), all the expected badging, and in the case of the sedan, FPV's track-ready R-Spec suspension. Total Cobra production is limited to 500 vehicles, with 4-doors outnumbering utes 400 to 100. Pricing will start at $65,110 AUD for the sedan and $61,200 AUD for the ute. In other news, US customers have the new Focus to look forward to, which looks almost as cool as this Aussie Cobra, assuming you're wearing a blindfold.

Follow the jump for the official press release. Thanks for the tip, Damien!

[Source: FPV]

Gallery: FPV Cobra Sedan & Ute (AUDM)

Continue reading Australians get 404 hp/398 lb-ft FPV Cobra

 

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Jacques Villeneuve wrecks truck; qualifies 6th for today's 'Dega race

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Photo: Christina Tutor for Autoblog.com

While Jacques Villeneuve's first taste of the Talladega Superspeedway Saturday didn't involve the "big one," it did involve a smaller 3-truck wreck on Lap 54. That put the former CART and F1 champion in the garage for part of the race, but the Canadian's crew repaired his No. 27 truck for a finish in 30th place. Saturday was only Villeneuve's second race in the Craftsman Truck Series.

And while he may have slept well before his first NASCAR Nextel Cup race today, we're guessing the 12 drivers in the Race for the Cup tossed and turned all night, concerned about what a rookie in the wildcard race could do to their standings.

Villeneuve qualified for the sixth spot in today's UAW-Ford 500 in the No. 27 UNICEF Toyota Camry. His Toyota has lots of company, with five others in the top six spots including a very pleased Michael Waltrip (No. 55) sitting on the pole followed by Dave Blaney (No. 22) and Brian Vickers (No. 83).

And how did that other open-wheel champion do this weekend? Dario Franchitti finished 17th in his first stock car race, the ARCA RE/MAX 250 Friday night. He will drive the No. 40 car for Chip Ganassi in 2008.

 

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Nissan recalling 372,250 Pathfinders and Infiniti QX4s

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Due to insufficient coating on the fuel filler tube, Nissan is recalling 372,250 Pathfinders and Infiniti QX4's. The model years in question are 1997-2001, and it's mainly for vehicles in the Northeast where there are large amounts of road salt in the winter.

According to the NHTSA, if an opening develops at the lower mounting bracket of the metal fuel filler tube, the salt and water can corrode the it. If that gets so bad that holes develop in the tube, gas will leak from the vehicle and become a fire hazard.

The recall begins on November 26 and applies to vehicles sold or registered in these states: Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia. Nissan dealers will replace the assembly. Owners can call Nissan at 1-800-647-7261.

[Source: Inside Line]

 

[via] Autoblog

Tokyo 2007 Preview: Yamaha Tesseract concept

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click above image to view an enlarged photo

And now for something completely different. Yamaha has just announced that it will be bringing a bevy of new motorcycle and scooter models to the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show. One of the more interesting concepts, which we'll roughly refer to as a motorcycle, is the Tesseract. Piaggio has a success on their hands in the form of the MP3, which is capable of leaning into turns despite the third wheel. Yamaha has one-upped that with its Tesseract, though, by adding yet one more whee,l bringing the total count to four. And yet, nobody would confuse this machine with a car!

Again, following Piaggio's lead with its impending hybrid MP3, Yamaha has made this concept a hybrid, boasting both a V-Twin engine of undisclosed size along with an electric motor. Yamaha claims that the machine is about the same width as a standard motorcycle, meaning lane-splitting could feasibly remain an option and parking shouldn't be too difficult. The Tesseract has also been equipped with a mechanism to keep the machine upright when stopped or when parked, once again, like the MP3. As for the styling? It's, uh... different! Imagine a Transformer half transformed and you'll be pretty darn close. And we love it!

[Source: Yamaha Motors]

 

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