Freightliner debuts RunSmart Predictive Cruise Control

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The next step in cruise control comes courtesy of Freightliner semis and GPS data company NAVTEQ. Freightliner broadened communication between the cruise control and map data: the GPS transmits information on the road ahead up to a mile, and then the cruise control computes the best speed at which to cover the distance with the greatest fuel efficiency.

It's called RunSmart Predictive Cruise, and it employs slope data from the NAVTEQ system that has been collected on 200,000 miles of the most used truck routes. While RunSmart is looking for peak efficiency, it won't sacrifice speed; the system remains within 6% of the set speed. It's an available option on Freightliner's Detroit Diesel DD15-equipped Cascadia model with the 72-inch raised roof.

[Source: Daimler]

Riverside International Auto Museum hosts weekend of racers and movies

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Next weekend, the Riverside International Auto Museum will host the Legends of Riverside film festival, gala and general car show-off. In addition to a tribute to Paul Newman and screenings of Winning, Le Mans, and The Making of Le Mans, folks like Dan Gurney, Bob Bondurant, Peter Brock, Brock Yates, and Pete Lyons will be there chatting up all those four-wheeled-things that go fast. If you're a movie and racing fan who's also into Maseratis, the museum has more than 30 of them on display, including an MC12 and that sweetness from sister brand Alfa Romeo called the 8C Competizione. Oh, and it's all for charity, which might be one more reason to swing by if you're in the neighborhood...

[Source: RIAM]

Another new (old) Passat: Shanghai VW Lingyu

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Click above for a gallery of the Chinese market VW Lingyu

China's already got Volkswagen's Passat in R36 guise, as well as a locally-made, Passat-derived model called the Magotan. Now it's going to have another car based on the Passat called the Lingyu. Built on a revised, long-wheelbase version of the 4-year-old PQ46 platform and using the previous-generation Passat body style, the Lingyu is shaping up to be the longest Passat sedan variant available in China.

Three engines have been mentioned, along with a 15% increase in fuel efficiency: the 1.8T, 2.0 FSI, and 2.4 V6. The changes are being made by VW's Chinese partner Shanghai VW, with the aim of increasing interior space and comfort. The car should be available in Q2 of this year, and might make an appearance at next month's Shanghai Auto Show.

[Source: Gasgoo]

Bookmark It: Mike Bumbeck launches

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Update your bookmarks, kids. Mike Bumbeck, erstwhile Jalop and all-around junkyard Ph.D., is back on the web with a brand new site: Clunkbucket. The focus is on the affordable, attainable, and interesting, with content that's both tasty and useful. Want to remove your door panel without damaging it? Mike's got your back, with photos to help you along. Maybe you need a vintage shop manual. Look no further for tips on how and where to find one. The "Odd Rod" category lives up to its name (dig that Toronado), and expect to see the Starion assume an important and recurring role. Mike's got another of his fellow ex-Jalops, Jonny Lieberman, contributing as well.

Things look like they're off to a solid start, so make sure you add Clunkbucket as a daily stop during your online automotive travels. If you're only hearing about Bumbeck's new project for the first time today, make sure you follow Autoblog on Twitter. If you had been, you would have already learned about Clunkbucket way back on Friday morning.

Good luck, Mike. We think Clunkbucket has... SUPER POTENTIAL!

[Source: Clunkbucket]

REPORT: F1 scraps new winner-take-all format after teams protest

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As if there could be any more drama before the 2009 F1 season begins, the recently (and hastily) implemented change to the points system has now been thrown out. This year's "winner take all" format was a variation on the gold medal system Bernie Ecclestone proposed last year that was likewise rejected by the teams.

According to Max Mosley, Ecclestone told the FIA that the teams were behind this revised points system, so the FIA "unilaterally" made the change. Yet the teams, which had proffered their own points system that put more space between first and second place finisher, scoffed at that explanation. No matter, because last year's points system is back in place. Consistency, except where the FIA is concerned, wins the day. Now we only have the diffuser controversy left to be dealt with...

[Source: Daily Telegraph]

Audi R15 wins debut at 12 Hours of Sebring

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2009 12 Hours of Sebring - Click above for high-res image gallery

The R8, the R10 and now the R15. Each of Audi's last three prototype Le Mans race cars have won their race debut, with the latest R15 recording its first victory yesterday at the 57th 12 Hours of Sebring. The winning #2 R15 was driving by Audi's dream team of Allan McNish, Dindo Capello and Tom Kristensen. Of course, Audi's win did not come easy in the top tier Le Mans P1 class. Peugeot was right there the whole time with its pair of diesel-powered 908 HDi cars, swapping the lead with Audi a total of 23 times. In fact, both teams remained on the same lap with each other throughout the entire 12-hour race.

Follow the jump to continue reading Autoblog's run down of the 57th running of the 12 Hours of Sebring.


Continue reading Audi R15 wins debut at 12 Hours of Sebring

Mercedes-Benz teases the next E63 AMG

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The new Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG has yet to be introduced (we're guessing it'll make an appearance in New York next month), but the readers of Germany's Sport Auto magazine are going to have a shot at winning the new über-sedan as part of the sweepstakes that accompanies the buff book's annual reader's choice awards. In honor of the occasion, Mercedes has pulled a Lutz and given a quick upskirt peek at the front end. What's it look like? Well, as you can see, it's pretty much what you'd expect from an AMG ride: updated fascia, aero kit, big split-spoke wheels that show off bigger, upgraded brakes, etc. The normally-aspirated 6.2 (+ .1 for old-times' sake) liter V8 belts out 525 horsepower. Bring money. You know you're gonna need it. We'll have more for you on the new AMG E-Class as soon as more deets become available.

[Source: Sport Auto via MotorWard via 4WheelsNews

IIHS launches maps to compare traffic laws between states

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Click above to view the IIHS Helmet Law maps

If you plan on interstate travel, it's probably a good idea to understand the many differences in state traffic laws. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety is creating a series of color-coded US maps to point out the differences in state regs, beginning with motorcycle and bicycle helmet laws.

The motorcycle helmet law map shows which states mandate helmet usage, have a partial helmet law, or no helmet law. Bikers wanting to ride with the wind in their hair can head over to Illinois, Iowa, or New Hampshire. Be warned, though, that the IIHS has found that states repealing or weakening their helmet laws have seen an increase in motorcycle crash deaths.

The bicycle helmet law map shows the different laws governing helmet usage on bikes. Bicycle helmet legislation varies greatly between states. There are seven different types, ranging from mandatory helmets for bicyclists 11 and younger to no laws on the books whatsoever. In California and New Mexico, all riders under 18 must wear a helmet.

[Source: IIHS via Kicking Tires]

D.O.A. - Lamborghini reportedly won't build four-door Estoque

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Lamborghini Estoque Concept - Click above for high-res gallery

The worldwide collapse of car sales has hit everyone in the past six months, and super-expensive high-end cars are no exception. With no immediate signs of either a general economic recovery or an auto sales boost on the horizon, now hardly seems like the time to develop an all-new exotic sedan. With that in mind, Lamborghini reportedly has shelved plans to build the Estoque, which debuted as a concept at last fall's Paris Motor Show. Given the positive response it received, Lamborghini had started feasibility studies aimed at producing the new four-door. Instead, the company will focus on new versions of both the Gallardo and Murcielago, with a particular focus on weight reduction.

R&D boss Maurizio Reggiani is also apparently rejecting calls for a dual clutch gearbox to replace the current e-gear automated manual. Reggiani calls the DCT "too smooth" and lacking in the drama Lambo owners want. Based on our experience with that gearbox in an Audi R8, we would describe it as being more embarrassing than dramatic. Since we don't have the budget for a Lambo, Reggiani likely doesn't give much credence to our opinion, though.

[Source: Autocar]

Awesome AMC collection up for sale

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Steve Green's AMC collection is enviable, and it's headed for auction. Spanning from the '60s to the '80s, there are several significant vehicles in the bunch, like the very last Matador ever produced -- a white Barcelona edition that belonged to AMC design chief Dick Teague - and a few lowest-miles examples of some models. Original paint graces most of the cars, and if you're a fan of AMC vehicles of the era, you'll be salivating over Pacers, Gremlins, Spirits, and AMXs. Steve Green's collection is widely respected, and health concerns are forcing the sale. There is no reserve, and Tom Mack Classics is handling the sale, which will happen during the Friday, April 3rd auction at the Lowe's Motor Speedway Spring Fling event. AMCs are personality-filled cars with anvil-like durability, and are relatively inexpensive to keep going. Sounds like a perfect entry point to collector cars.

[Source: Hemmings, Photos: Tom Mack Classics]

BMW 135i tii up against V8 supercar, F1 racer at Australian Grand Prix

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Click above for high-res gallery of the BMW Concept 1-Series tii

BMW's little 1 Series has proven itself to be a credible performer that's able to hang with nearly anything else it likely to encounter on the road. But against an Australian V8 Supercar and BMW's own Formula 1 racer? Not a chance. Regardless, these three vehicles will indeed face off at the upcoming F1 season opener Down Under. To help level the playing field, each vehicle will start with a handicap, so the real excitement will begin near the end of the lap when the three cars close in on one another as they sprint to the finish line.

The 1 Series that's taking part in the event will be equipped with the German automaker's potent 3.0L twin-turbo inline six and will wear 18" alloys bolted up to a tuned suspension set up with cross-drilled brakes. A set of tii decals and a full BMW Performance aerodynamic body kit top things off. The race will be repeated 5 times starting on Thursday, March 26th.

[Source: BMW]

Continue reading BMW 135i tii up against V8 supercar, F1 racer at Australian Grand Prix

REPORT: Saab, USA snag 500,000 players with Burn Notice online game

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GM has been heavy in the entertainment sponsorship game, with a variety of scripted programs, award shows, and movies at some point being tied to GM product. Bumblebee has undoubtedly paid dividends for the new Camaro, and now the spy drama "Burn Notice," on USA Network, has done something of the same for Saab.

An online game called "Covert Ops" was created that mirrored the show's plot line, featuring the main character, Michael Westen, driving around Miami in a Saab 9-3 droptop. Over the course of eight weeks, the game got more and more popular, with a final tally of 50,000 registered users and 500,000 unique visitors having tooled around in the virtual car by the time it was all was said done.

With those kinds of numbers, that means Saab was exposed to nearly 25 times the number of people who actually bought Saabs all of last year. GM hasn't said whether it will continue Saab promotion on the show, but for the moment you can still get your game on.

[Source: Ad Age]

Half of all major U.S. suppliers said to be bankruptcy risks in 2009

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A new study by consulting firm A.T. Kearney has found that more than half of all current automotive suppliers could file for bankruptcy protection in 2009, resulting in at least 1 million job losses. Even the most optimistic scenario would have 35% of all suppliers facing insolvency, and some projections suggest as many as 70% could face restructuring through bankruptcy. No specific names were mentioned, but these suppliers could range in size from small Tier 2 companies all the way to the largest of all Tier 1 suppliers.

The $5 billion Supplier Support Program that was recently announced might help somewhat in this regard, but it's a far cry from the $18.5 billion that the industry had sought. The Kearney study suggests that the number of failed businesses would go down as the amount of government assistance goes up. We think we could have figured that part out ourselves. Thanks for the tip, Leonard!

[Source: A.T. Kearney via Automotive News - sub. req'd]

Continue reading Half of all major U.S. suppliers said to be bankruptcy risks in 2009

VIDEO: Aston Martin One-77 Episode 3

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Click above to view Episode 3 after the jump

Any time you spend $100,000 or more on a vehicle, it's clearly an emotional decision. It's hard to rationalize an expenditure of that magnitude on, say, a Bentley, when a Chevy Cobalt will get you to the grocery store just as easily. Sure, it's not as fast or luxurious, but it handles the task. So if emotion drives high-dollar car purchases, the car needs to appeal to more than just practicality.

As we learned when we visited Geneva, the Aston Martin One-77 is an engineer's dream, but as the latest teaser video from Aston shows, it also plays to the owner's heart. Compared to a conventional Aston, the One-77 will be louder, more visceral and more connected to the driver. Instead of mass produced castings, suspension brackets are machined from solid blocks of aluminum and the tool marks are still visible. Check out the video after the jump for the whole story on how the One-77 appeals to instinct rather than thought.

Continue reading VIDEO: Aston Martin One-77 Episode 3

Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon production to begin early May, CTS Coupe still on track

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2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon Monterey debut - Click above for a high-res gallery

After speaking this morning with Cadillac's product communications manager, David Caldwell, we've fleshed out some near-term product plans for General Motors' luxury brand - in particular the timetable for the 2010 CTS Sport Wagon. The automaker's Lansing Grand River plant is scheduled to begin building the stylish rear-drive load lugger in early May, and the first examples should be at dealerships around Memorial Day (May 25), or perhaps early June.

Cadillac's first-ever U.S-market station wagon (no, the SRX crossover doesn't count) is expected to offer a reasonable 25 cubic feet of space beneath its rakish rear glass, and while it rides on the same 113.4-inch wheelbase as its sedan counterpart, the wagon will actually be .3-inches shorter. The model looks to be particularly important for GM's fortunes in Europe, where the luxury division is still struggling to gain traction against the entrenched domestics. While being something of a fringe interest in the U.S., sport wagons do solid business in Europe, and the overseas-only BLS Wagon has played largely to lukewarm reviews. Back home in the States, Cadillac expects just 20 percent of CTS customers to opt for the estate version, while the European model mix is slated to be more along the lines of a 60 percent/40 percent split in favor of the wagon.

So... what about the CTS Coupe? As we reported in January, the stylish two-door's production plans remain firm for next year, despite company-wide cutbacks and rumors to the contrary. While that's still later than Cadillac had originally hoped, officials say the delay will give them the opportunity to focus on launching the Sport Wagon as well as the 2010 SRX replacement. No official word on the likelihood of a CTS-V Coupe or Sport Wagon, but mules of the former have already been spotted, so perhaps we'll get lucky.

Audi launches Facebook fan page for the R15 TDI

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With the new R15 TDI making its competition debut at the 12 Hours of Sebring this weekend, Audi has set up outlets where fans of the diesel racer can get behind-the-scenes updates. A Facebook fan page has been created where you can see fresh photos and videos from the track along with posts on what's happening. For those who prefer their R15 news in a more bite-sized format, there's also a Twitter feed that you can follow at Audi promises to post tons of information as the R15 takes on the Peugeots and Acuras for overall glory in Florida.