Jumat, 06 November 2009

Mid-engined Ghepardo is one part Corvette, one part Camaro

Caccia Custom Cars Ghepardo - click above image for high-res gallery

Here's what we know: Caccia Custom Cars took a 2002 Chevy Camaro and a 2002 Chevy Corvette and created the Ghepardo. The car uses the Camaro's frame and the Corvette's motor and suspension. The motor is mounted amidships, albeit backwards (note the throttle body). And the House of Kolor paint is called Pagan Gold. Also, you should not confuse this SEMA all-star Ghepardo with the 2006 Bizzarrini Ghepardo concept.

As for this Ghepadro... it's not that bad looking. In fact, the longer we stare at the exterior, the more we like what we see. Obviously we can't get past the gaudy chainmail armor covering up every single vent and opening. And we'd prefer if the five-slot wheels weren't chromed. That said, in profile, it's a nice looking mid-engine coupe and the rear is quite muscular. The front even has a touch of new Lexus, which while sacriligious for a Chevy-on-Chevy mashup like this, ain't bad at all.

The interior, on the other hand, is a house of horrors. Everything is covered over in prison-grade Alcantara or carbon fiber-look fiberglass. Even the fire extinguisher!! Also, we're pretty sure a 15/16" cutting tool isn't the smartest Dremel attachment to use for a show car. In fact, in this Autoblogger's mind, the Ghepardo is now in the running neck-and-neck with the Masonry Vitesse Rose for having the worst interior ever – quite a distinction! Additionally, the Ghepardo fills our minds with the delightful image of Corvette and Camaro fans/owners beating each other to pulps with giant oversized cartoon hammers. Perhaps that's just the food around here talking...

Ghepardo by Caccia Custom Cars

ABC News caught up with Toyota Vice President Yukitoshi Fun

Remember Toyota's massive 3.8 million unit unintended acceleration recall that was attributed to pesky floor mats? It appears defective floor mats doesn't tell the whole story, as the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration declared in a statement that "this (unintended acceleration) matter is not closed," adding "removal of the floor mats is simply an interim measure, not a remedy of the underlying defect in the vehicles."

Up to 2,000 Toyota customers claim to have experienced a sudden surge of acceleration, and some reportedly told ABC News that they didn't even have the recalled floor mats in their vehicles. Even more disturbing are the results of an ABC News investigation that reportedly found "hundreds" of accidents and up to 16 deaths as a result of unintended acceleration.

Four of those deaths occurred in August when an off-duty California Highway Patrol Officer, traveling with his wife, daughter and brother in-law, were killed after their Lexus accelerated uncontrollably. The driver's brother in-law called 911 and said that the brakes didn't work before the vehicle reached an intersection, struck another car, went into a ditch and caught fire. Some Toyota owners feel there is an electronic glitch in the system that controls the throttle and the ABC report shows that there is some anecdotal evidence which illustrates that incidents rose after the system was put into place in 2002, but so far, NHTSA has found no evidence to support those claims after six investigations.

ABC News caught up with Toyota Vice President Yukitoshi Funo (pictured second from left) and asked him if Toyota was covering anything up. Funo replied "It is not part of the Toyota culture and Toyota way to cover up anything," adding that the Japanese automaker is working with NHTSA to come up with an agreement on how to proceed going forward.

If you own a Toyota or Lexus and you are concerned about this issue, it appears that there is little that will be done in the short term other than tie down or remove the floor mats. If you do experience the acceleration issue, Consumer Reports suggests shifting your vehicle into neutral, pressing the brake and holding it down in an effort to bring your vehicle to a stop. This post and video from CR demonstrates how to effectively resolve the situation, and the risks of pumping the brakes. Turning off your vehicle could be a bad idea, as turning off the engine will also result in the loss of power steering and power brakes.

Rev for iPhone reaches 2.0, includes data-logging [w/ VIDEO]

Since there are approximately one trillion iPhones in the world and about ten-times as many apps, it's not hard to find a program to suit your needs. But in the automotive sphere, there aren't nearly as many quality applications and even fewer that can deliver the information most gearheads crave. Thankfully, DevToaster has answered the call with Rev, and putting out the 2.0 release of its popular diagnostic and performance program.

In addition to offering code-reading and clearing features, along with OBD metrics for everything from coolant temp to throttle position (full features here), Rev includes built-in metrics for lateral and forward acceleration to calculate horsepower and torque, saved vehicles, GPS tracking and data-logging. In a bid to make the program more user friendly on the fly, it's reworked its interface to make it easier to edit the visual representations for the virtual (and customizable) gauges and graphs.

Although it's $39.99 App Store price seems like a deal considering its capabilities, the steep price of the company's wireless OBD-II controller ($149.99, pictured at right) is slightly harder to swallow. However, DevToaster is working on bringing the cost of the unit down in the near future and hopes to bring out both a series of "fun," "green" utilities and has talked with Google about developing a version for Android phones. Look for a full review of the 2.0 software soon.

Champion's Champions Crowned at 2009 Race of Champions

2009 Race of Champions – Click above for high-res image gallery

Every year, around the world, drivers compete wheel to wheel in all manner of racing series, from rally to F1, touring cars to Le Mans and everything in between. It gives racing fans plenty of varied action to follow, but it leaves one question ultimately unanswered: who is the world's best driver? That's where the Race of Champions comes in.

The event has been held every year since 1988 at the end of the regular racing season, giving the world's best from all manner of racing series the world over a chance to compete against one another on equal footing and common ground. And this year's Race of Champions was no less decisive. Follow the jump to read who claimed victory as the champion of champions.

Race of Champions 2009

Sabtu, 10 Oktober 2009

Massa hasn't been in an F1 car since July's Hungarian Grand Prix

Ferrari just announced that injured driver Felipe Massa could be back in the saddle as early as Monday. Massa hasn't been in an F1 car since July's Hungarian Grand Prix, when a spring from another car flew up and hit him above his eye, fracturing his skull.

The first time he has even been back on track was last week when he took the wheel of a kart. Because of testing bans in place this season in F1, Massa can't drive the current car he was running until Hungary. As he gets back up to speed, the FIA has granted him permission to drive a 2007-spec car fitted with GP2 tires.

Massa has also spent time on Ferrari's racing simulator. Word has it he's already mastered Barcelona and is working hard at beating the Interlagos circuit now. Before taking the wheel of the 2007 car, he still needs to pass an examination, but once he's cleared, he could be on track in Italy by Monday. This will be testing only as the driver isn't expected to compete for Ferrari any more this season.

Cars and Coffee roadshow headed for New England

Cars and Coffee, the informal and inclusive wheeled hootenanny originated in Irvine, California has been spreading across the country faster than swine flu. There's no stage with bad cover bands, not a trophy in sight, but you're always likely to see some astounding vehicles.

Herb Chambers, New England dealership juggernaut, has thrown his support behind a New England gathering. "Herb himself is a super car enthusiast," says John Covell, Director of Marketing for the Herb Chambers Companies, "He thought that others would enjoy it." A new BMW dealership in Sudbury, MA, where the event is being held this Saturday, October 10th, is a supporting cast member.

Cynics may dismiss this as another ploy akin to inflatable dinosaurs, but when was the last time you were invited out by a car dealership to drink free coffee and ogle a McLaren F1 on a Saturday morning? Running from 7-10 AM, the inaugural event will be over before many people's days get under way. "Herb is passionate about cars and he's passionate about this business. If our customers understand that we share their passion, that's a good thing," sums up Covell. Hey, if he doesn't mind us drooling all over his McLaren, we'll agree.

Jumat, 05 Juni 2009

New GM marketing boss Mark LaNeve apparently unaware that diesel is now cheaper than gas 2009

Over the last several years, we've heard a lot of excuses from many auto executives as to why their companies aren't offering diesel engines in their American market cars. Yesterday, General Motors' Mark LaNeve, the company's vice president of sales and marketing, made an appearance on C-SPAN's Washington Journal. The final question of the segment came from a viewer wondering why GM has failed to offer U.S. consumers the chance to buy some of the high-mileage diesel cars it offers in Europe.

It would appear that LaNeve might have done better to take a pass on the question. Instead of talking about the cost of making those diesels meet U.S. emissions regulations or the difficulty in helping Americans overcome the misconceptions about the fuel, he claimed that no one has successfully cracked the diesel passenger nut in the U.S. (which based on VW's May sales appears to be wrong). More startlingly, LaNeve went on to claim that diesel is $1.25 a gallon more expensive than gasoline. According to the Energy Information Agency, the national average for diesel this week is $2.35 / gallon while regular gas is $2.52 or $0.17 more than diesel. Admittedly, the fact that diesel is now cheaper than 87 octane gas is a recent development (a trend that nobody is sure how long it will last), but – going on national television and quoting outdated fuel prices as a reason for your bankrupt company's business decisions... well, that doesn't strike us as a terribly hot idea.

You can hear the question and response at 20:30 into the video replay over at C-SPAN.

Kamis, 09 April 2009

Kia introduces production Forte LPI Hybrid in South Korea

Kia Forte LPI hybrid – Click above for high-res image gallery

Kia has just introduced its first mass production hybrid model based on the new Forte compact sedan in its home market of South Korea. The Forte LPI hybrid uses a smaller 20-hp version of the hybrid system that Hyundai showed at the LA Auto Show last November. That system uses a pancake motor sandwiched between the engine and transmission for electric drive and boost as well as regenerative braking. A separate, integrated starter generator handles auto start-stop duties.

The Forte hybrid uses a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine fueled by liquefied petroleum gas (propane) and is the first production vehicle to use a lithium polymer battery. The new battery was developed by LG Chem and will also be used in the Sonata Hybrid when it debuts next year. Along with the hybrid Forte, Kia rolled out new eco-Dynamics branding for its more efficient vehicles including hybrids.

While it's unlikely we'll ever see an LPG-equipped car from Kia in the U.S. market, it does seem likely that a Forte hybrid with a gas engine will arrive at some point. We've contacted Kia for comment on that but have yet to get a response. Thanks to Mike for the tip!

The New Kia Forte Sport Sedan - (Global)

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What looks like official images of the upcoming replacement for the Kia Spectra & Cerato Sedan, the Kia Forte, has just appeared on clubforte.co.kr

With styling evident from the 2007 Kia Koup concept, the car is the work of Design Director Peter Schreyer, who previously worked at Audi for 25 years and created the award winning original Audi TT.

The car is due to be revealed in Korea on the 21st of August before going on sale shortly after in other markets. In America it will replace the current Spectra and within a couple of months of going on sale the 2 door Coupe variant should join it.

With the new Kia Soul also on sale late 2008 to early 2009 depending on market, Kia is certainly a brand on the move. The timing of these cars couldn’t be better, with large vehicle sales reducing in America. Notably, Kia was one of only a few brands that experienced a sales growth in the US for the month of June, with an increase of 7.6% over the same period last year.

Kia Shows Off Forte Hybrid, Plans For Hydrogen Fuel Cell And Plug-In Vehicles

Kia Forte hybrid unveiled

Kia Forte hybrid unveiled

Enlarge Photo
Kia Forte hybrid

Kia Forte hybrid

Enlarge Photo

Not to be outdone by Nissan's fairly jaw-dropping announcement of EVs and infrastructure earlier this week, Kia unveiled its new Forte hybrid yesterday. It's a liquefied petroleum/electric combo, and it's set to hit lots in South Korea this August. Here are some of the tech details that we know you folks crave:

The Forte LPI hybrid electric vehicle is powered by an economical mild-hybrid drive system consisting of 1.6L gasoline engine and electric motor. The Liquefied Petroleum Injected (LPI) engine generates 114 horsepower, while electric motor brings additional 20 hp. Equipped with this kind of hybrid system and continuously variable transmission, the Forte achieves a very competitive fuel economy rating of 17.2 kilometers per liter of LPG fuel (41 MPG US), which is equivalent to 21.5 kilometers per liter fuel economy in terms of gasoline, the company said.

The company has no plans to bring the Forte hybrid to the U.S. yet--or anywhere else that doesn't have "an excellent LPG distribution infrastructure". Which apparently means China's the only other country on the list. Sad news for hybrid fans, but good news for design freaks. (Seriously: take a good look. Still awake?)

At the same press event, Kia announced:

  • In 2010, the company will launch its first full-hybrid car (likely based on the Optima).
  • In 2012, Kia will produce both a hydrogen fuel cell and a plug-in hybrid.
  • These vehicles are all projects of Kia's new eco-conscious sub-brand, Eco-Dynamics.

That's a lot of news for one lil' ol' day.

P.S. A quick note to Kia-World: please explain to your writers the difference between "its" and "it's". It's one of our pet peeves.

Senin, 23 Maret 2009

Kia Forte

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