GM Europe gets its own Facts and Fiction website

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Toward the end of last summer, before GM went from "Everybody calm down..." to "Everybody calm down... but we could use some help over here...", GM launched a U.S. Facts and Fiction site to counter some of the nefarious scuttlebutt doing the rounds. With GM Europe now in the same straits, a European version of the truth-telling portal has been created to provide the real lowdown on Opel and Vauxhall. In GM's words, it will counter "rumor, speculation and urban myths [that] circulate at this time," and "support informed discussion and fact-based reporting."

Rendered Speculation: BMW Z10 ED to tackle Audi R8

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The BMW Z10 ED -- Efficient Dynamics -- is a green supercar that's out to get the Audi R8. Tech specs are hypothesized to be a high-pressure turbocharged inline six cylinder with 400 hp that would use either a mechanical valve system or BMW's VANOS system, and run through a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. Along with electronic stop/start aids, there would be technology to turn exhaust gasses into electricity. With the use of plenty of carbon fiber and aluminum, the car is meant to weigh no more than 3,080 pounds.

Even though it hasn't stopped Ferrari and Lamborghini, lead BMW designer Adrian Van Hooydonk thinks it might be hard to sell the Z10 with a supercar body in a global recession. Most importantly, though, he wants the car to be a symbol of the future, and to offer an "exciting dynamic experience." We can't imagine the sketch is anything go by, unless he also wants the car to try and eat you.

[Source: Autocar]

Citroen to launch green sub-brand

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Citroen C-Cactus Concept - Click above for a high-res gallery

According to an unnamed "insider," Citroen is considering launching a separate brand just for eco-friendly vehicles. Earlier this year, the quirky French automaker announced a new high-end brand that would bring premium features to its existing vehicle platforms. Similarly, the first production vehicle under the green brand would echo the C-Cactus concept from the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2007 but be built atop the automaker's C4 platform.

Expect some innovative uses of materials, as previewed on the C-Cactus project, along with a fuel-saving powertrain of some sort. Options include going fully electric, using a hybrid powertrain or using a small three-cylinder diesel engine that would put out less than 100 g/km of carbon emissions. Sounds great, but let's just hope they don't keep too much of the melted-candle look of the concept.

[Source: iMotor]

Researchers develop self-repairing paint powered by the sun

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In another case of Nature to the Rescue, scientists have come up with a polyurethane coating that repairs itself in the sun. The secret ingredient: chitosan, which comes from the shells of crustaceans and is also used for water filtration, blood clotting and as a diet aid. The common principle appears to be that it as a binding agent, i.e. it wants to hold certain things together.

If your car is scratched and it has the chitosan-injected coating, when put in the sun the chitosan "bonds with other materials in the substance, eventually smoothing the scratch" in less than an hour. No muss, no fuss, no messy clean up. However, the magic only works once -- the coating can't repair itself in the same place twice. Researchers also haven't yet studied how wide a scratch can be before it cannot heal itself.

Nevertheless, self-repairing paint powered by the sun is still a terrific development, especially for those folks with shiny black cars on which even tiny scratches seem to scream for attention. No word on when or if it will ever be available, but the team behind it has a patent pending and is thinking about the business opportunity. Thanks for the tip, everyone!

[Source: Reuters]

Autoline on Autoblog with John McElroy

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There's no question that the Detroit-based auto industry needs a lot of help. There's a 100-year history of how it got into the problems it's in, and some of those problems are beyond management's control.

But there is one area where General Motors, Ford and Chrysler have total, complete control, and that's in how they deal with their suppliers. While progress has been made in some areas, most supplier CEOs who I know are still frustrated with how the "Big 3" treat them. They tell me there is at least $10 billion in waste that could be eliminated every year if they worked together as true partners instead of at loggerheads.

Remember, more than 70% of the value of a car today is actually designed, developed and manufactured by suppliers, not the car companies. GM purchases roughly $97 billion of materials, components and services from suppliers. Ford buys $90 billion, Chrysler $40 billion. We're talking about a massive amount of money, which potentially means a massive amounts of savings.

Here's how suppliers say the "Big Three" could slash costs and put some of that money back in their pockets.

John McElroy is host of the TV program "Autoline Detroit" and daily web video "Autoline Daily". Every week he brings his unique insights as an auto industry insider to Autoblog readers.

Continue reading Autoline on Autoblog with John McElroy

Without its editor-in-chief, Motive closes up shop

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Following in the wake of Eddie Alterman's ascendancy into the Editor-In-Chief position at Car and Driver, the online auto outlet known as Motive is indefinitely "on ice." In a release (after the jump) published on the website's "About" page, its staff explained the situation and vowed to keep its forum properties (VWVortex, Fourtitude, Swedespeed, MWerks, etc.) humming along with new content inspired by the Motive model.

Motive set a new tone in the online automotive mediascape with stunning photography, stirring prose and a keen eye on design that split the difference nicely between blogs and buff-books. We're sad to see them go and wish the best to the remaining crew we've come to know over the last few years. Thankfully, Motive's content will continue to be available, so you can still access some of their features, including the Turbo Toyboxes, Great Drives and Drivers Ed series, along with a couple of our favorite pieces: Phantom Planet and Urban Golf Cart. Best of luck guys. We know we'll see you soon.

Continue reading Without its editor-in-chief, Motive closes up shop

Tomb Raider: Chrysler crashes funeral looking for tissue samples

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Harold St. John passed away suddenly on February 28. His death, however, has sparked a controversy involving Chrysler and a number of auto suppliers who are defendants in a legal battle with the late 67-year-old retired airline employee.

St. John and his wife filed suit against a dozen companies last summer claiming his exposure to asbestos in their products while working at a family-owned auto shop in the '50s and '60s had caused his mesothelioma, or cancer of the lungs. While some defendants have settled with the St. John family, six remain including Chrysler, Honeywell and Bosche Braking System, among others.

The case was to go trial on Monday, March 9, but St. John's sudden death last month produced a wrinkle. On March 3, the day he was to be buried, Chrysler secured a court order to stop the burial after a judge denied it access to the body for an autopsy. A process server attended the funeral and, after the mourners had left, instructed the funeral director not to bury the body and return it to the funeral home.

Fortunately, the same judge who denied Chrysler's request for an autopsy the first time around has denied it again, noting that samples of the outside lining of St. John's lung had been taken last December. This should clear the way for St. John's burial where he will rest peacefully, undisturbed by Chrysler's legal team.

[Source: WCBSTV, via Wired | Photo by Br3nda, CC2.0]

Audi drops a whole collection of new images of the R15 TDI

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Audi R15 TDI - Click above for high-res image gallery

The Audi R15 TDI should be hitting the track competitively for the first time next week at the 12 Hours of Sebring. The new diesel-powered racer will be running against the Peugeot 908 HDi and Acura's new ARX-02a next Saturday. The oil-burning Audi and Peugeot will be competing under modified LMP1 rules that have cut their wing widths by 40 mm (for all P1 cars) and reduced the size of their air restrictors and amount of turbo boost pressure for the diesels. The new R15, which replaces the very successful R10, has been optimized with a reduction in weight, radically new aerodynamics and an all-new powertrain to work with the new rules while still trying to outrun the Peugeots.

The R10's old 5.5L V12 has been replaced in the R15 by a smaller V10 of unknown displacement for greater efficiency and improved packaging. The car's electrical system now uses a lithium-ion battery, again for reduced mass compared to a lead battery. As far as we know, Audi is not planning to use a hybrid KERS system on the R15. Contrary to some information released by an unnamed Audi official at the Geneva Motor Show last week, the R15 will only run at Sebring next week and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in July. The last two ALMS races at Road Atlanta and Laguna Seca are not part of Audi's game plan at this time.

[Source: Audi]

Continue reading Audi drops a whole collection of new images of the R15 TDI

2002 in 2012: Next BMW 1-series taking retro cues, turbo'd four

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When BMW trotted out the 1-series coupe at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2007, the jumbo-tron was awash in videos and stills of the 2002 as the automaker attempted to associate the new 128i and 135i with BMW's iconic coupe. Almost two years later, it's clear the 1-series isn't the 2002's spiritual successor, but new reports continue to surface saying BMW is hard at work on a range of Ones to bring the magic back.

In addition to a turbocharged four-cylinder model wearing the Super Sport moniker and the five body styles on the drawing board, CAR is reporting that an entry-level model - tentatively dubbed the 115i - is in the works and due to debut in 2012. On the other end of the spectrum is the aforementioned Super Sport variant that's expected to feature round headlamps in a homage to the 2002, along with a new coupe body style also slated to arrive in the latter half of 2012. The SS model will slot in between the 135i and next M3, and is likely to pack a turbo'd 2.0- or 2.2-liter four-pot putting out 300 hp and 331 lb-ft of torque. A dual-clutch transmission will be optional and a reduced curb weight is part of the package.

While we've heard these claims before, with Audi stepping up its own weight loss program, BMW needs to compete, and we're hoping the next 1-series is an indication of what's to come.

[Source: CAR]

GM recall affects 277,000 models with shifter problem

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Citing a defect that can cause a parked vehicle to roll away, General Motors is recalling 277,000 cars and trucks. The models involved, all built for the 2009 model year, may have a loose clip on their transmission shift cable. The failure of the clip to be locked into place may prevent the transmission from moving into Park - even if the driver moves the shift lever into the proper position. GM has told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that dealers will inspect the transmission shift cable and replace broken units. Affected models include the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Cobalt, Chevrolet HHR, Chevrolet Malibu, Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, Pontiac G5, Pontiac G6, Saturn Aura and Saturn Outlook. NHTSA Safety Campaign after the jump.

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

Continue reading GM recall affects 277,000 models with shifter problem

Toyota to offer cheaper Prius to compete with Honda Insight

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2010 Toyota Prius - Click above for a high-res gallery

According to the ever-flowing and always active rumormill, Toyota may be working on a new low-cost hybrid to do battle with the revived Honda Insight, which is a bit smaller than its rival from Toyota and undercuts its price by a few thousand dollars (or a few million yen). Likely due in no small part to its low point of entry, Honda managed to move 18,000 Insight hybrids in Japan in its first month on sale, which is well above the automaker's early projections.

The new hybrid from Toyota would use similar hybrid components as the Prius but would use a smaller engine and cost 20-30% less. Even if these rumors are true, Toyota still plans to continue selling its previous-generation Prius in Japan for at least the 2010 model year alongside the new model, which features better performance from an enlarged 1.8-liter engine while still managing to reduce fuel consumption. So far, there's no indication that Toyota will sell a lower-cost hybrid model in the U.S.

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req.]

2014 Audi S4 and S5 to get turbo'd four-pots, massive weight reduction

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Audi Sportback Concept - Click above for a high-res gallery

Car and Driver sat down with Audi's global head of product engineering, Michael Dick, to discuss the future of the automaker's offerings and how it plans to tackle the ongoing issue of weight. While all automakers cite consumer demand and government regulation as one of the major reasons overall vehicle weight has skyrocketed in the last 20 years, Audi is actively pursuing its "smaller-is-better credo." To that end, the automaker currently has a next-generation A5 prototype running around that's 880 pounds lighter than the current car. Dick told C&D that the mule is using an increased amount of aluminum, magnesium and high-strength steel to reduce mass, and says while the current TT is 69% aluminum, the next A6 (due in 2011 or 2012) will have even more, and the next A4/A5/S4/S5 will feature more still when they arrive in 2014.

Dick went on to say that the down-sizing of the current S4 and S5's engine from a V8 to a supercharged V6 is the first step, and its possible that the next generation Ss will be 20% lighter, pack 30% less displacement and will likely come with turbocharged four-cylinder engines (think TT, TT S and TT RS mills).

On the topic of styling, expect the next generation of Audis to take cues from the Sportback concept shown at the Detroit Auto Show. The Audi A7 will arrive in production form later this year, and while the overall shape won't disseminate throughout the Audi line-up, the headlamps, tail-lights and refined single-frame grille will carry over to the rest of the range. Dick claims that the A7 is already eight seconds faster than the current S5 around the Nurburgring, thanks primarily to its curb weight, which is expected to come in at around 3,000 pounds. We won't believe that until we see it on an official spec sheet, but it's comforting to know that at least one luxury automaker gets "it" and there's no doubt it will pay dividends in the marketplace if all these initiatives come to fruition.

[Source: Car and Driver]

VIDEO: Hubinette drifts the Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 SuperVeloce

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Click above to watch Samuel Hubinette drift the Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 SV after the jump

Sam Hubinette is one lucky guy. The Crazy Swede gets sideways in an 800-horsepower Dodge Viper for his day job and does occasional stunt driving in his off time. Last year Lamborghini hired him to drift the Gallardo LP560-4 in the streets of Los Angeles for a commercial, and they must have liked it so much that they hired him again to burn rubber in the brand, brand new Murcielago LP670-4 SuperVeloce in Germany. The video is the first we have seen of the car outside the show floor of the Geneva Motor Show, and while shorter than the Gallardo vid, it does at least provide a soundtrack for the upgraded V12 that's now producing 670 horsepower. Follow the jump to watch the video. Thanks for the tip, Saikou!

[Source: YouTube]

Continue reading VIDEO: Hubinette drifts the Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 SuperVeloce

2009 Toyota Pro/Celeb Race driver field announced - Keanu in the house!

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Click above for list of celebs driving in the 2009 Toyota Pro/Celeb Race

After last year's running of the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race with such B-, C- and D-list stars as Drew Lachey, John Salley and the executive producer of Ratatouille, we were astonished to see the list of celebs that organizers were able to wrangle for this year's race. Topping the list is none other Neo himself, Keanu Reeves, who is joined by Oscar-winning actor Adrien Brody, Luke Wilson, Jon Hamm from Mad Men, Tim Daly from Private Practice, Tyson Beckford, Carlos Mencia, Raven-Symone and Alex Trebek, among others. The celebs will be causing mayhem on the track in a field of identically prepped Scion tC race cars, many of which will no doubt leave their bumpers, fenders and the egos of their drivers on the track. Follow the jump for the full list of celebs participating in this year's Toyota Pro/Celebrity race that will take place on Saturday, April 18th and check out the gallery below of past celebs who have competed.

[Source: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach | Photo by AXEL SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty]

Continue reading 2009 Toyota Pro/Celeb Race driver field announced - Keanu in the house!

VIDEO: Prius backlash bubbles over in comedy sketch

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Click above to watch video after the jump

The Toyota Prius is the most fuel efficient vehicle in its class, very roomy, relatively affordable and Hanna Montana drives one. Maybe that last point is why some people are beginning to show hostility towards the car that's become the Kleenex of hybrids.

Andy Richter and James Adomain of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater have played off the Prius backlash in a faux car commercial pitting the Hyundai Elantra against Toyota's famous hybrid. Richter, formerly of Late Night with Conan O'Brien fame and not much since, plays the part of the frugal-minded Hyundai owner with an underlying anger issue, while Adomain gets all spiffed up to play the snobbish know-it-all with the Nickel Hydride battery pack. Forget about the totally erroneous statistics and the bogus sticker prices, just wait for the punch line. It's not the driveway shooting, but rather the fact this commercial is actually for the Nissan Sentra. Follow the jump to see it for yourself.

[Source: YouTube]

Continue reading VIDEO: Prius backlash bubbles over in comedy sketch

First images of Lamborghini Murciélago LP 650-4 Roadster

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Lamborghini Murciélago LP 650-4 Roadster - Click above for high-res gallery

Lamborghini has just released the first batch of official images showing its latest limited run special, the Murciélago LP 650-4 Roadster, which follows the LP 670-4 SuperVeloce that debuted at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this month. The LP 650-4 Roadster is definitely not for those who deny their follicle deficiencies by wearing a rug on their head. With a top speed of 205 mph, anything not firmly connected to your scalp will be lost to the winds.

The crew in Sant'Agata Bolognese have pumped some extra shots of espresso into this bull - the 6.5-liter V12 now produces 650 hp and 487 lb-ft of torque through all four wheels. That's enough to leave 62 mph in your wake after just 3.4 seconds. Lamborghini is only planning to crank out 50 of these roadsters at an as yet undisclosed price, which means the high-res images in our gallery below are likely the closest you'll ever get to one.

[Source: Lamborghini]

Continue reading First images of Lamborghini Murciélago LP 650-4 Roadster