Sunday, 31 July 2011

F1 teams concerned over FIA engine chief moving to competitor

When Formula One opted to switch from the planned four-cylinder engine regulations to the new six-cylinder format, it came as good news (or at least, less bad news than originally expected) to just about everyone involved. With the possible exception of PURE.

As you may recall, former BAR-Honda team principal Craig Pollock started the outfit called Propulsion Universelle et Recuperation d'Energie a few months ago with the aim of joining Cosworth, Renault, Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari as F1 engine suppliers. The firm got what it believed would be a head start by beginning development of its new turbo four earlier than the existing suppliers could. The change in direction must have thrown a wrench in the proverbial works over at PURE's headquarters in France, but its latest hire might help it get back on track.

The hire in question is Gilles Simon, well known in the racing world as a certified guru when it comes to motorsport powertrains. He was the brains behind the engine that powered Peugeot's Le Mans program in the early 90s, then followed Jean Todt to Ferrari to run its racing engine program, and joined Todt again in 2009 as an FIA propulsion consultant.

Now that he's leaving the FIA to join PURE, however, the other engine manufacturers have raised some concerns. Namely, that in his capacity with the motorsport governing body, he was privy to each supplier's engine specifications, information he could potential
ly take with him to their new competitor. Looks like someone's gonna have some explaining to do.

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2011 Hungarian Grand Prix pits rubber against the rain [spoilers]

Choosing the right tires is an integral element of a good race strategy. Part of that went out the window a number of years ago when Formula One switched to a single tire manufacturer, but the teams are still left to choose between compounds. When it's dry, they go with slicks, alternating between levels of softness and stickiness. When it's wet, they've got a couple of rain tires to choose from. But when the conditions keep changing over the course of a race, it makes for some captivating action. And that's precisely what we had this weekend at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Follow the jump to read how it went down.

Saturday's qualifying results left Sebastian Vettel on pole once again, with the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button starting in second and third places, respectively. The Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso followed in fourth and fifth, Red Bull's number two Mark Webber in sixth. Mercedes GP's Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher took positions seven and nine, with Force India's Adrian Sutil and Sauber's Sergio Perez in eighth and tenth, respectively.

With the rain subsiding, the field took off on the damp track as Vettel held on to the lead. McLaren's duo of former champions started fighting for second right off the line in a battle that would come to characterize the race. The Mercedes duo mounted a solid start, Rosberg advancing from seventh to fourth and Schumacher from ninth to fifth at the expense of the Ferraris, while Webber dropped from sixth to eighth.
Hamilton overtook Vettel for the lead early on lap 5 when he ran wide off the damp track. With Button sandwiched in third, Alonso regained position from Rosberg, with Massa behind in sixth, Webber slowly climbing back up in seventh, Schumacher back down to eighth, Force India's Paul di Resta up to ninth (from his eleventh-place starting position) and Kobayashi in tenth.

As the track began to dry, however, Massa and Webber were the first to go in for the super-soft slicks in an attempt to gain an advantage estimated at as much as ten seconds per lap. The rest of the field would subsequently follow suit. When they were all done by lap 14, Hamilton was still in the lead, but Button had advanced past Vettel for second. Webber was now running fourth ahead of Alonso, with Rosberg, di Resta, Schumacher, Massa and Kobayashi rounding out the top ten.

The race held more than its share of spills and chills, but none proved as nagging as Massa's. After spinning out and hitting the barrier backwards, the Brazilian suffered damage to his rear wing that would soon prevent him from using the DRS to pass Schumacher, whose Mercedes he dogged lap after lap until his former master spun out and called it a day. It wasn't the first retirement of the race and it wouldn't be the last, either, as both Lotus drivers – Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen – retired trackside as well. Virgin's Jerome d'Ambrosio showed his lack of experience when he spun the car into his own pit box. But the most dramatic incident involved Nick Heidfeld, whose Renault burst into flames upon exiting the pit lane, exploding a tire and spewing smoke and debris across the track.

Past the halfway mark, Massa muscled past Rosberg and Kobayashi, while Alonso stayed glued to Webber, finally passing him as well as Vettel in the pit-stop shuffle. Vettel eventually regained position on Alonso, while at the front Button overtook Hamilton as the pair got caught up in backmarker traffic. Lewis temporarily re-took his teammate in a tit-for-tat exchange over the subsequent laps, but suffered from the wrong choice of tires and a drive-through penalty for obstructing traffic while recovering from a spin to drop from the lead.

The closing laps saw tight action between Webber, Massa and Hamilton, as well as a number of cars farther back, but ultimately it was Jenson Button who, on the occasion of his 200th grand prix, took the checkered flag at the same track where he did for the first time in 2006.

Sebastian Vettel had to be satisfied with second place for the fourth time this season, adding precious points to his six wins and solitary non-podium finish at the Nürburgring last week. Fernando Alonso rounded out the podium while celebrating his thirtieth birthday. The remaining points went to Hamilton, Webber, Massa, di Resta, Buemi and Rosberg, leaving Vettel still firmly in the lead with 234 points to Webber's 149, Hamilton's 146 and Alonso's 145. Red Bull retains a 103-point lead over McLaren in the constructors' standings with Ferrari still further adrift. The circus now takes a nearly month-long break until the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa commences the last weekend in August.

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Bentley to debut V8 Continental at Detroit showben

For an automaker with just two model lines, Bentley sure has a lot of room to expand in the coming year or two. With the newly facelifted Continental GT now out on the market, a new Continental GTC drop-top expected to be unveiled in Frankfurt, after which we can expect the next Flying Spur, and then the inevitable Speed variants of each bodystyle.

The Mulsanne is also expected to spawn a new coupe and convertible, and reports of new model lines, including an SUV, have been circulating. But in the middle of all of this expansion, Bentley is preparing to downsize (in a sense).

It's been no secret that Continental range will add a turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine option alongside the 6.0-liter twin-turbo W12 currently on offer. And now comes word that the new mill will drop at January's Detroit Auto Show.

No word on output just yet, but you can expect it to undercut the 567 horsepower of the current twelve by some margin. And as Alex Nunez reports at Consumer Search, the lighter engine is tipped to provide a sportier drive than the larger mill it joins.

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Blue Angels Mustang raises $400,000 for charity

Earlier this month we showed you the one-off Blue Angels Mustang built by Ford for this year's EAA AirVenture. The car features a unique blue chrome paint scheme and hand-painted graphics done byCreations n' Chrome, along with plenty of Ford Racing Performance Parts goodies, an interior styled after the Blue Angels pilot suit, and beautiful HRE 590RS wheels.

The Blue Angels Mustang was not only built to celebrate 100 years of U.S. Naval aviation, but to raise money for the EAA Young Eagles program as well. It did just that at the EAA charity auction Thursday evening, commanding a high bid of $400,000. In addition to the car, the winning bidder also received a Blue Angels flight helmet signed by all of the current pilots.

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Toyota named World's greenest brand

The tussle between the Auto Manufacturers and Environmentalists has existed since a long time. The environmentalists believe that because of auto manufacturers global warming is increasing at an alarming rate and they will be the sole reason for the world’s doom.
Well, in your face environmentalist because Toyota has been named as the world’s greenest brand by an Independent analytical firm – Interbrand.

Toyota successfully clinched the title after defeating many behemoths such as 3M and Siemens. Oh yes, it is not just environmentally conscious among car manufacturers but it is the most environmentally conscious brand!
Interbrand measured environmental performance and public perception of brands across industries and calculated a Green Performance Score. This data was collected from all the major markets such as UK, France, Germany, Italy, USA, Japan, Brazil and India.
The consultancy firm also interviewed around 10,000 consumers to gauge perception of a brand’s green performance. Toyota received a score of 64.19 points because of its multiple eco efforts, such as its market leader position in terms of full hybrid technology and its green manufacturing facilities.
Other automakers listed in the survey include Volkswagen (6), Honda (7), Hyundai (11), BMW (12), Mercedes-Benz (16) and Ford (20).

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Anand Mahindra joins International Advisory Council (IAC) of Economic Development Board (EDB) of Singapore

Mr. Anand Mahindra, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Mahindra Group, has been invited to join the International Advisory Council (IAC) of the Economic Development Board (EDB) of Singapore. Past members of the EDB from India include Mr. Ratan Tata.
As part of his new role, Mr. Mahindra will be participating in the 11th IAC EDB meeting to be held in Singapore on August 2. The theme of this year's meeting is 'Strengthening Singapore's Global-Asia Positioning'. Against the backdrop of the changing operating environment in Asia and globally, as well as new opportunities and risks arising from major trends, Mr. Mahindra will advise the EDB on how Singapore can help Asian countries internationalise.

Mr. Mahindra will be missing a gala dinner being held in Singapore on August 1 to celebrate the EDB's 50th Anniversary.
The IAC is chaired by Mr. Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs, Singapore. The Deputy Chairman is Mr. Koh Boon Hwee, a distinguished corporate leader in Singapore, who is currently the Chairman of Yea Hiap Seng Limited. Other members include Mr. Peter Löscher, President and Chief Executive Officer, Siemens AG, Mr. Robert A. McDonald, President and Chief Executive Officer, Procter & Gamble Corporation, Mr. Fumio Ohtsubo, President, Panasonic Corporation and Mr. John Rice, Vice-Chairman, General Electric.
The Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) is the lead government agency for planning and executing strategies to enhance Singapore's position as a global business centre. The EDB designs and delivers solutions that create value for investors and companies in Singapore. The EDB's mission is to create sustainable economic growth with vibrant business and good job opportunities for Singapore. The Board is building on existing strengths and adding new capabilities to enable Singapore to become a 'Home for Business', a 'Home for Innovation' and a 'Home for Talent' for companies.
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Obama blames India and China's increased demand for hike in fuel prices

According to President Barak Obama, rising demand in India and China is what is causing fuel price rise. Periodic increase in fuel prices has caused much distress to all. Obama has said that increase in fuel prices was solely due to growing demand in these two countries. He has now tabled a need for all US vehicles to average 54.5 miles per gallon in the next few years.

Demand for oil is rising faster than it can be supplied and this is what is causing repeated price rise. Demand for fuel in India and China needs to be met and unless steps are taken to increase fuel efficiency of vehicles the situation will only escalate.
The new plan for higher fuel efficiency has seen support from top auto manufacturers all over the globe. Ford, GM, BMW, Honda, Nissan, Toyota and Volvo account for over 90% of vehicles sold in US. They have all supported this scheme of bringing out fuel efficient cars by 2017 which would reduce the country's dependence on foreign fuel.
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Eicher comes up with JV for car technology school with Volvo

The Rayat Bahra VECV Automotive technology centre was just launched by the regular and mandatory line up of politicians. It was inaugurated by Tikshan Sood, a minister with the government of Punjab and Vinod Aggarwal, CEO of VE Commercial Vehicles Limited, a joint venture between Volvo and Eicher Motors at a glittering ceremony in Mohali. 

The state-of-the-art automobile lab at the Mohali campus of Rayat Bahra Education group has been established as part of the industry-academia model to educate students on the latest automotive technology covering manufacturing techniques, supply chain management and customer service management . This will help students to be industry ready on completion of the course and be absorbed in organizations with minimum orientation and training. 

This would also meet the skilled manpower requirements of the automotive sector, which is already facing acute shortage of skilled human resources and minimize the gap between what is taught in institutes and what is required by the industry. The training centre is equipped with modern training aids like dynamic cutaways, wall charts, practice units and technical publications which are both comprehensive and pictorial, covering most scientific way of repair maintenance and overhauling of commercial vehicles. 

The following courses will be offered to students at the Mohali center: 

Automobile Technology Certificate course for school dropouts . Motor mechanic vehicle and diesel mechanic course as per NCVT syllabus (ITI program). Degree in automobile engineering Post graduate diploma in automobile engineering . Masters in automobile engineering. 

This set up will also be used as regional competency development centre of VECV for training Eicher dealership personnel of north region. 

Speaking on the occasion , Vinod Aggarwal, CEO, VECV said, "The institute has been set up as part of the industryacademia collaborative model established by us to meet the skilled manpower requirement of the automotive sector. The auto sector which contributes to five per cent of the country's GDP is expected to be the seventh largest in the world by 2016. The industry is already facing acute shortage of skilled man power, with the automotive mission plan envisaging requirement of 25 million people by 2016. Our social responsibility program has been designed to meet this critical gap." 

"This focused initiative to address the growing scarcity of technologically skilled manpower makes VECV a pioneering commercial vehicle manufacturer in India to have taken the lead in addressing this issue," he added. Liberalization coupled with modern technology and low cost manpower base has made India, a prime destination for global auto majors. 

Vintage Morgan goes tumbling at Silverstone Classic

Vintage racing is one of the more beautiful forms of motorsport. Classic machines returning to the track create a flurry of aural and visual delights. It's also a test of the person behind the wheel, as older race cars are more difficult to drive than their modern counterparts.

Morgan driver Luther Blissett left the Silverstone Classic with a personal reminder of vintage racing's inherent dangers. When taking a sharp inside line, his Morgan roadster caught the curb, which sent the lightweight two-door tumbling. Fortunately, Blissett came out of the scrape unhurt, but his classic Morgan was in rough shape.

X Games rider nails first motorcycle front-flip in competition

Motorcycles were built to have two wheels pointing towards the Earth with the rider above the machine. Over the years, the insane and/or insanely talented athletes of the X Games have flipped that notion on its head. Literally. We've seen backflips, spins and even double backflips, but at the 2011 X Games, one rider has gone against the grain. Ladies and gentleman, Jackson Strong has just landed the first front flip in competition.

Now, credit goes to Jim DeChamp for landing the first forward aerial rotation back in 2009. Strong, however, is the first rider to successfully throw down the move in competition. His front flip wowed both the crowd and the judges, allowing him to ride off with the gold medal.

Audi's Johan De Nysschen talks future product at Fourtitude

Audi of America President Johan de Nysschen recently went on the record about future product plans via the forums at enthusiast site Fourtitude. In addition to clarifying the big news regarding Audi's diesel initiative in the United States, de Nysschen let some other product plans slip out.

First, he confirmed that the next-generation A3 will be sold as a sedan in the United States. The sportback will be discontinued, but the A3 Cabriolet may join the U.S. lineup. The new A3 will be a 2013 model, but might not be available right at the beginning of the model year. All we can say is, we hope it looks exactly like the stunning concept car that bowed in Geneva.

As for performance models, de Nysschen says that an S variant of every car in the automaker's lineup is likely, and hinted at the S7 being offered here. The RS5 is still slated to arrive next year, though it will benefit from the A5/S5 facelift that'll introduced in the U.S. over the winter.

Fourtitude's interview re-confirmed that clean diesel versions of the Q5, A6 and A8 are in the cards, presumably with the 3.0-liter TDI V6. The A4 is also expected to gain a TDI variant, though it will likely be powered by a 2.0-liter four. The Q5 crossover will also spawn a hybrid variant, which will be on sale sometime in 2012

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Ford Fiesta turns 35, hits 15 million units, celebrates

Ford kicked off the Fiesta Movement in 2010, but the little hatchback's history goes back 35 years. In 1976, Ford launched the Fiesta, and since then, it's gone on to sell 15 million units. The latest iteration joined the family in 2010, and Ford's keeping it fresh for 2011 with new colors and upgrades to the highest trim level.

Mars Red and Fashionista are the new hues on the Fiesta color palette, and the Fiesta Titanium adds a dash of chrome to the grille, new wheels, and a woven headliner. You can also order partial leather seats for it

New US standards to boost sales of small car like Tata Nano, Alto, A-Star

For years America has been the last bastion for gas-guzzling big wheels. Now a new industry commitment on mileage could change all that, offering India's booming small car market access to the Mecca of Motown-USA . 

The new CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) targets that White House and theDetroit biggies have finally agreed upon is 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. 

For India, that means the final frontier for big cars and pick-ups will now be forced to go mini in search of mileage nirvana. That packs in huge opportunities not only for vehicle makers likeTata Motors with strong small car DNA but also component companies and even MNCs likeSuzuki that have honed their small car expertise in theIndia market. 

SaysKumar Kandaswami, senior director , Deloitte: "( The new) CAFE standards would mean the cars in the US are likely to get smaller in the coming years. Given India is amongst the largest manufacturing bases for small cars, it could mean opportunity for exporting vehicles or components." 

Auto industry experts say India's small car focus has offered both home grown companies like Tata Motors and MNCs like Suzuki the opportunity to hone their skills in this market. 

"India is now the largest producer of small cars worldwide and companies like Tata Motors and Suzuki have demonstrated how to make money on small cars which is something other MNCs are still struggling to do," says Rakesh Batra, automotive sector leader at MNC consultancy firm Ernst and Young. That's where India's famed frugal engineering and mini marketing skills will come into play, he adds. 

At 54.5 miles per gallon, the US standards are definitely far more modest than what Indian industry has signed up for. According to theSociety of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), the apex body for the auto industry, currently India's CO2 fleet average is 155 gms per litre -the same level (250 gms per gallon) that American carmakers are targeting by 2016. India's target is to hit 123-125 gms per litre by 2020 which would mean cars that are lot more fuel efficient than US CAFE's 24 km per litre target for 2025. 

Already cars like theTata Nano offer 27 km per litre under test conditions. Others like the Suzuki Alto and A-Star range between 20-23 km per litre while the Chevy Beat is 18 kms/ litre. 

Auto experts say since the CAFE targets refer to the fleet the vehicle makers sell, car companies will have to introduce smaller vehicles in their range to keep the average mileage performance up.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

How Hyundai is making better interiors by using volcanic rock

Cloth, leather, Alcantara and that weird netting on the dashboards of some Chevrolet Cruze sedans are all examples of the varied materials employed to build the interior spaces of modern automobiles. Hyundai is exploring new ways to bring the passenger cabin together, and the newest item at the Korean automaker's disposal is volcanic rock.

Hyundai wanted to add a bit more luxury to the passenger space of its newest models. The Elantra andAccent both needed fabric-wrapped A-pillars to up the class quotient inside, but that would have raised the customer's purchase price. Alternatives were sought and engineers concocted a blend of plastic resin, fibrous material and volcanic rock. The end result is a plastic material that provides the look and feel of being wrapped in cloth, with the apparent cost savings that come from stuff belched forth from the Earth's underground.

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2025 CAFE target set at 54.5 mpg; everyone's apparently happy with that

Following the official announcement this morning that the new 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard would be set at 54.5 miles per gallon, our email box overflowed with something we rarely see: near-unanimous support. Everyone from the automakers to the Union of Concerned Scientists, from the United Auto Workers to the American people (through a study released today by the Pew Environment Group) seem to agree: 54.5 mpg is the right fuel economy target. Sure, some of the groups would have been happier with the previously bandied-about 62 mpg or even 56.2 mpg, but almost everyone is putting on a happy face today.

Surrounding the President as he made the announcement were the heads of many automakers, including Dan Akerson (GM), Alan Mulally (Ford), Sergio Marchionne (Chrysler), John Krafcik (Hyundai Motor America), Jim Lentz (Toyota Motors Sales USA) and more. The OEMs brought a bevy of fuel-efficient vehicles, too, including plug-ins like the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt, a bunch of hybrids couple of a big trucks that aren't the gas guzzlers of yesteryear: a Ford F-150 with EcoBoost and a Dodge Ram 4x4 SLT.

Of course, we're sure there will be continued contention over what is the best fuel economy goal for the United States – the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, for example, says that the "proposal does not drive advanced technology to its maximum potential," and warns that it could be watered down even further – but, for now, pretty much everyone appears to be on the same page. Even California, which could (and has, in the past) gone its own way with fuel economy standards because of the Clean Air Act, has given its approval to 54.5. As our friend Jim Motavalli wrote in BNET yesterday, President Obama, "seems to have crafted a fairly good compromise that nobody actively hates." The behind-the-scenes negotiations must have been interesting to watch, eh?

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Mercedes releases first B-Class interior images

Mercedes-Benz is set to reveal its all-new B-Class at September's Frankfurt Motor Show, and while we only have vague ideas of what the exterior design will look like, the automaker is now giving us our first glimpse inside the luxury hatchback. Not surprisingly, the cockpit is exactly what you'd expect in a compact Mercedes-Benz – nothing earth-shattering, but certainly packed with upscale amenities and looking decidedly rich for what should be Benz's least costly offering in North America.

Everything appears to be very simple and well laid out, with the radio, HVAC and COMAND controls nicely separated from one another. And if that steering wheel looks familiar, it's because it's the same one found in the new-for-2012 CLS. Mercedes says that the B-Class' cabin can be fitted with high-end materials, too, including ARTICO man-made leather on the dashboard. (What, no Designo interior package?). We also note the charismatic round air vents that mimic those fitted to the SLS AMG gullwing, suggesting that this form will spread throughout the entire Mercedes lineup going forward.

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Mary Kay adds a black Ford Mustang to her garage

Mary Kay's annual Seminar gathering is being held in Dallas right now, and the company best known for its pink Cadillacs is giving its independent beauty consultants another reason to work hard: a black Ford Mustang V6 has joined the fleet of available cars its consultants can earn the use of. The Mustang is by far the sportiest option among the pool, sharing garage space with the Chevrolet Malibu and Equinox, Toyota Camry and, of course, that pink Cadillac.

While Mary Kay is sold in more than 35 countries, each auto fleet is selected by the regional body so the Mustang is only on offer in the U.S. (sorry, Moldova). However, the pink Cadillac remains at the top of the heap for makeup-sales rainmakers – "that's the icon," we were told. Still, the Mustang was very well received: "there were lots of cheering women."

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Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 described by chief engineer Al Oppenheiser

Bow-Tie brand fans are chomping at the bit to get more information on the upcoming Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.General Motors decided to show off its latest high-performance coupe at the Camaro Homecoming event in Oshawa, Ontario. Chief Engineer Al Oppenheiser brought the car to the crowd, and then spent a few moments talking about the Zed ZL1 on camera.

For those unaware, the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 gets a host of upgrades over the rest of its siblings. On the outside, improved aerodynamics are in full effect from nose to tail. Inside, Chevrolet adds suede to the seats, steering wheel and shift lever. But the real heart of the ZL1 lies under the hood, and it seems we'll have to wait for official word to get the full skinny on the power output of the supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine. Rumor has it that the Camaro ZL1 could be pumping out over 570 horsepower, but for now, all GM's saying is "at least 550."

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Harley-Davidson shows how the Captain America movie motorcycle came to be

Captain America, the summer blockbuster movie based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, has officially had the largest opening weekend of any comic-based flick in 2011. Incidentally, it also knocked the latest Harry Potter flick, which opened one week before, out of first place.

But we don't really care about all that. What we're more interested in are all the cool vehicles seen in the film, not the least of which is the motorcycle that the U.S. war hero himself rides. Befitting a man who is apparently the Captain of America, the film's superhero finds himself atop the most quintessential of American motorcycles: Harley-Davidson.

Meant to be a modern interpretation of H-D's classic WLA military motorcycles, Captain America's custom machine started life as a stock Harley-Davidson Cross Bones model. Fitting, as the Cross Bones, with its spring-mounted solo saddle and springer fork, is arguably the most period-correct platform in H-D's current line from which to begin.

Want to know more? Check out the video after the break, where Harley-Davidson breaks down the thought process that went into creating Captain America's motorcycle. You'll also see a few brief snippets with riding footage from the film.

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More details of BMW i3 and i8

Earlier today, German car manufacturer, BMW officially unveiled their future mobility concept cars, i3 and i8. Due to be launched in various markets around the world, BMW ‘i’ series is the future to BMW cars. BMW will launch the production level variant of i3 by 2013 while the production level i8 variant will be launched somewhere in 2014.
Mr Norbert Reithofer, Chairman, Board of Management, BMW AG, stated, “We are marking another milestone in the history of the BMW Group. As Chairman of the Board and an engineer myself, I am very proud of this project. As the world’s leading premium car manufacturer, our aim is to offer customers purpose-built electric-drive cars as well.”
The main feature of BMW ‘i’ series is that they will have zero emissions and a range of 150 kms on a single full charge. BMW i3 is designed to fulfill urban commuting needs. Being small in size, i3 can commute through the busiest of streets effortlessly. Weighing just 1,250 kgms, BMW i3 comes with futuristic crash safety standards. BMW i3 can easily accommodate 4 adults and has a boot space of 200 liters.
Other features include, 0-100 kmph in less than 8 seconds and 0-80% battery charging in 1 hour. Mr Klaus Draeger, Board Member, Development, BMW, says, “This vehicle will mark the launch of the first volume-produced car featuring bodywork largely made of carbon. It’s a revolution in automotive design.”
The BMW i8 Concept goes from 0 to 100 km/h in less than five seconds and boasts fuel consumption of under three litres per 100 km. Its plug-in hybrid drive with a system output of 260 kW allows a range of up to 35 kilometres in electric mode – sufficient for most everyday journeys. For more dynamic driving or out-of-town routes, a high-performance three-cylinder petrol engine also comes into play. The sports car has an electronically governed top speed of 250 km/h and space for up to four occupants. “The BMW i8 Concept is the sports car for a new generation – pure, emotional and sustainable,” Draeger underlined.
With BMW i, the BMW Group is corroborating its position as the most innovative and sustainable auto manufacturer in the world, as reflected in the fact that it has been the supersector leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes for the sixth year running. With BMW i, the BMW Group is providing answers to the mobility challenges of the future while pursuing a holistic approach. In addition to purpose-built premium vehicles with electric drive, the company is also offering intelligent mobility services.
The focus here is on solutions for improved use of parking space, intelligent navigation systems with location-based information, intermodal route planning and car-sharing schemes such as DriveNow. Following MyCityWay, ParkatmyHouse marks the second investment by the recently launched venture capital company BMW i Ventures in a company providing internet-based mobility services. Parkatmyhouse allows private individuals to use the internet or a smartphone app to rent out their private parking spaces on a short- or long-term basis.
Both the BMW i3 and the BMW i8 will be built at BMW’s Leipzig plant in Germany. Some 400 million euros are earmarked for investment in new buildings and facilities by 2013, while 800 new jobs are to be created. Vehicle production will be CO2 neutral and will draw on renewable resources. The company is currently investigating the possibility of erecting its own wind turbines on the plant site.

Mopar releases 150 accessories for Fiat 500

We're sure the suits at Fiat are excited about finally managing to launch the 500 here in America. It seems the folks at Chrysler's customizing arm, Mopar are just as happy to see the little Italian land in the States. To show their enthusiasm, Mopar has announced a plethora of parts that will allow Cinquecento owners to make their new hatchback their own.

We're talking about 20 or 30 items here, either. Mopar has 500 fever, and will offer over 150 parts and accessories for the little Fiat. This includes everything from custom key covers, exterior decals and roof racks on to a WiFi-supplying Uconnect system offering 3G broadband internet.

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VW blasts new CAFE standards, alleges bias towards truck makers

Automakers are officially choosing sides on the new proposed Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, and while nearly every company has come out with statements of support,Volkswagen has chosen to head the camp opposed to the plan. The German company has released an official statement on President Barack Obama's 54.5 mpg corporate average by 2025, saying that VW doesn't endorse the move. Why? Apparently the people's automaker feels that the regulations unfairly target passenger cars while giving large trucks special treatment.

According to VW, passenger vehicles face a five percent annual increase in fuel economy, while light trucks merely have to attain 3.5 percent annual increases. While it's true that Volkswagen doesn't produce anything that could compete with the Ford F-150, the company's stable is stocked with a few vehicles that will fall under the light truck designation, including the Routan minivan and Touareg SUV. Additionally, Volkswagen says that the proposal pushes automakers to manufacture more large and inefficient models.

Volkswagen finds itself in thin company when it comes to its stance. So far, nearly every other automaker has come out in support of the move, including Ford, Chrysler, General Motors, Hyundai and Toyota among others. 

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Indian Grand Prix to mark a historic first on home turf this October

Last week saw Force India pull a big winner at the German Grand Prix at Nurburgring. A bundle up at Silverstone caused Force India to lose precious points, and miss out on having both cars place in the top ten. P6 for Adrian Sutil is something the team will happily settle for while looking for more. It adds to their team power while the team inches its way towards October’s inaugural Indian Grand Prix at Delhi, a home race for Force India for the first time.

P6 at Nurburgring for Adrian Sutil puts Force India in a good place. A top quality race, the German Grand Prix saw most races finish with Jenson Button being the only top contender to have retired. What could have been is difficult to predict, but if Paul di Resta wasn’t involved in a first-lap accident with Nick Heidfeld at Nurburgring, both Force India cars may have finished with points.
Though Paul Di Resta hasn’t yet put points on the board, team Force India has shown glimpses of hope with Paul starting at P6 at Silverstone this year, Adrian Sutil having started a race from P2, and Giancarlo Fisichella at pole position at Spa in 2009. While rule changes have serous cost implications in F1, the big teams don’t seem as inundated with such changes because money isn’t a limitation. The considerations for a team like Force India however change in a big way when FIA alters rules but despite these limitations the team is soon establishing themselves for a car that is quick enough.

Whether or not Force India takes home some points in the inaugural Indian Grand Prix this year is what everyone is talking about. Vijay Mallya looks at things realistically and understands that the team isn’t yet a podium contender but hopes for points from every race.  With another three months before F1 touches down on Indian turf, it’s going to be all about utilizing this development time as best as possible. As of now, we’re certainly in amidst the action that will culminate into an historic first Indian Grand Prix in a few weekends time. For those who wish to rock the event, you can be part of the F1 Rocks event and watch Metallica rock the race weekend. For Indian F1 enthusiasts, it’s time to become part of a countdown that’ll be a first for many and understand the implications of an international sporting event on home ground.

Land Rover Defender may or may not continue in the European auto market

Land Rover Defender isn’t one that fades out of memory that easily but given the circumstances it may soon be an off roader of the past. Changes in European emissions regulations have put the Defender’s journey in an unknown charter with Land Rover uncertain about whether the off roader should be continued or not.

The current Land Rover Defender finds support from utility companies and rescue services based on durability and off-road capability. Changes considered for the Land Rover Defender’s onward journey include updating engines and safety equipment to conform to new regulations. The costlier change borders around a new platform that shares parts from newer Jaguar/Land Rover vehicles. This said, there’s a third course of action Land Rover is considering for the Defender. Previously,  Land Rover withdrew the Defender from the American market in 1996 instead of investing in airbags for the iconic truck.
Managing director of Land Rover’s U.K. operations, Colin Green had this to say. “Another option…is that we abandon that section of the market.” “It’s our least preferred choice, because we have serviced that customer base for a long time, but there’s no point in servicing the customer and not the business. We have to make money and all three options are on the table.” “If we get it wrong we are messing up one of the industry’s biggest icons, and in that sense it’s a tremendous responsibility.”

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Tata Magic Iris(LCV) spied on the outskirts of Pune

Tata Motors hasn’t just tried to make changes that yield result in the passenger car industry but have keep a close eye with what the country needs in terms of light commercial vehicles, the very bane of Indian transportation. Though it may not seem worth a glance when one zips past in their car but the innumerable shared auto rickshaws that ply on the outskirts and connect villages along national highways is something the country can’t do without.

The new Tata Iris was seen doing its rounds in the outskirts of Pune and did a good run at 40 kmph. Touted to be a new age rickshaw, the Tata Magic Iris by Tata Motors will certainly be another boost in the arm of public transport options. Not to be introduced through a pan India launch, the Tata Magic Iris has already begun its journey in some cities.
The Tata Magic Iris uses a 611cc, water cooled indirect injection diesel engine. This 4-speed manual transmission produces 11 BHP of power and can attain top speed of 60 kmph.  Tata Magic Iris can seat five including a driver. The diesel auto will go 25 kmpl, and one can expect a CNG powered Tata Magic Iris priced at about Rs 2 lakhs in some time.

Tata Safari Merlin caught testing in Pune

Tata Motors continues development of the Safari Merlin, which could hit the market during the last quarter of this year, in time for Diwali. Seen here is a Safari Merlin on test in Pune city traffic.
The Safari Merlin will heavily borrow features from the Aria. The driving position could be a bit more like a car and the cabin will be less noisy during acceleration and cruising. The gearbox likewise could be a G76 Mk2, an improved version of the current model.

The engine could feature a reworked oil sump, dual mass flywheel and mounts designed to wipe out unnecessary vibrations and harshness. The steering could provide a bit more feedback and the clutch, likewise, will take less effort to operate. The suspension will be reworked to better low- and high- speed ride and handling
A reskinned exterior is performed with the view of improving the Safari’s already awesome road presence. The spare wheel, like on the Aria, might be mounted beneath the luggage area for a clean rear. Projector headlamps is another likely feature.
The Merlin could replace the current Safari range or Tata could offer limited variants of the existing Safari.

Toyota registers 4,000 bookings for Etios Liva hatchback

Toyota Motors has managed to register over 4,000 bookings for their newly launched Etios Liva hatchback. Launched approximately 5 weeks back, Toyota Etios Liva comes with a price tag of Rs 3.99 lakhs for its base model.
Powered by a 1.2L petrol engine, Liva hatchback is the cheapest hatchback in its segment by a good Rs 30,000. Apart from competitive pricing, the promise of Toyota is quite assuring, which has resulted in decent number of bookings being registered.

For people who need to drive approximately 80 kms on a daily basis, should definitely take a closer look at Etios Liva. Thanks to the variety of choices available in the segment, it will not be easy for Toyota Motors to expand market share, especially after the launch of diesel Beat from Chevrolet. Chevrolet launched Beat diesel at Rs 4.29 lakhs earlier this week.

Other competitors in the segment include Maruti Suzuki Wagon R, A Star, Hyundai i10, Ford Figo, Skoda Fabia, Ford Figo, Suzuki Swift, etc.

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Mahindra to launch new variants of Verito to increase market share

After their partnership with Renault failed, Mahindra relaunched Logan sedan in a new avatar with a new name, Verito. After almost 4 years of its launch, Verito (Logan) is finally making some progress in the Indian auto industry.
Compared to June 2010, when only 563 units of Verito were sold, Mahindra managed to sell 1510 units of Verito in June this year. This is a huge improvement on Mahindra’s part as they have now captured 5% of the C segment sedan market share in Indian car industry.

Mahindra obviously wants to increase their market share even further and in order to do so, they are planning to launch new variants of Verito sedan soon. Business Line reported that after Mahindra ended partnership with Renault, they have managed to make the sedan more economical.
Mr Arun Malhotra, Senior VP, M&M said, “We have completed the pan-India launch of the Verito. The South, especially Tamil Nadu, has emerged as a strong market for the brand. In Kerala, the brand has more than doubled its market share.” Two new Verito variants are soon bee seen on Indian roads. “While one will be a refreshed version, the other one will be a smaller car that will be sub-four metre in length,” Mr Malhotra added.”

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BMW Unveils Mobility Of The Future

The BMW Group has showcased its visions of future mobility in the shape of the i3 Concept and i8 Concept studies. These concept vehicles provide a glimpse of the first electrically powered production cars from the new BMW i sub-brand, due to be launched as the BMW i3 in 2013 and the BMW i8 in 2014.

“We are marking another milestone in the history of the BMW Group. As chairman of the Board and an engineer myself, I am very proud of this project,” declared Norbert Reithofer, chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, at the premiere of the two vehicles in Frankfurt on July 29. “As the world’s leading premium car manufacturer, our aim is to offer customers purpose-built electric-drive cars as well,” he added.
With its zero-emission electric drive and a range of approximately 150km, the i3 Concept has been specifically developed for use in an urban environment; its dynamic 125 kW electric motor and rear-wheel drive ensuring BMW-style dynamic handling. Thanks to its innovative LifeDrive architecture featuring a carbon passenger cell, the i3 Concept combines an extremely low weight of 1250kg with optimal interior space and the highest crash safety levels. With four seats and a 200-litre luggage compartment, this vehicle is fully suited for everyday use.

BMW i3 Concept: A revolution in car design
“This vehicle will mark the launch of the first volume-produced car featuring bodywork largely made of carbon. It’s a revolution in automotive design,” stressed Klaus Draeger, member of the Board responsible for development.
The application of this new CFRP technology allows a weight reduction, compared to a conventional electric car, of between 250 and 350kg, and that means more dynamic handling coupled with a greater range. The BMW i3 does the 0 to 100kph sprint in less than eight seconds, while a high-speed charger achieves an 80 percent battery charge in just an hour.
Thanks to the emission-free drivetrain and a value added chain designed to be sustainable all along the line, lifecycle emission figures for the i3 are at least a third lower than for a highly efficient combustion-engine car. If the i3 is run on electricity from renewable sources, the figures improve by well over 50 percent.

BMW i8 Concept: New-generation sports car
The i8 Concept goes from 0 to 100kph in less than five seconds and boasts fuel consumption of under three litres per 100km. Its plug-in hybrid drive with a system output of 260 kW allows a range of up to 35km in electric mode  sufficient for most everyday journeys. For more dynamic driving or out-of-town route, a high-performance three-cylinder petrol engine also comes into play. The sports car has an electronically governed top speed of 250kph and space for up to four occupants.
“The BMW i8 Concept is the sports car for a new generation - pure, emotional and sustainable,” ”Draeger underlined.
With BMW i, the BMW Group is corroborating its position as the most innovative and sustainable auto manufacturer in the world. With BMW i, it is providing answers to the mobility challenges of the future while pursuing a holistic approach. In addition to purpose-built premium vehicles with electric drive, the company is also offering intelligent mobility services.
Both the i3 and the i8 will be built at BMW’s Leipzig plant in Germany. Some 400 million euros are earmarked for investment in new buildings and facilities by 2013, while 800 new jobs are to be created. Vehicle production will be CO2 neutral and will draw on renewable resources. The company is currently investigating the possibility of erecting its own wind turbines on the plant site.

Audi Confirms A3 Saloon For India

Audi has officially confirmed plans to bring the A3 saloon to India by 2013. In an exclusive interview, Audi India’s boss, Michael Perschke said, “The next logical step after getting the Q3 to India in 2012 is to look at the A3.”
The German carmaker’s aggressive approach off late towards the Indian market in terms of product launches and variants has been paying off, and Audi is looking to build on this. It will conduct product clinics for the A3 by end-2011 and if they confirm what Audi has in mind, the A3 is certainly on the cards, added Perschke.

The concept A3, premiered at the Geneva Motor Show in March, is the smallest saloon in the Audi range. At 4440mm in length, it is 188mm shorter than the Jetta and 260mm shorter than the A4 saloon, which stretches to 4700mm. The upcoming production version of the new four-door is expected to retain the same dimensions.
Styling cues have been borrowed from larger Audis — the prominent six-corner, single-frame grille, along with angular headlamps, looks similar to the new A6 recently launched in India. Conceived along the lines of the new Jetta, the A3 will get Volkswagen’s latest MQB platform. Prices of the A3 saloon will start from Rs 20 lakh approximately.

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