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Archive for August, 2010

Green Update–>New Fuels, “Real Science Fiction Stuff”

August 24th, 2010

Flint biogas truck

News on the green car front is often about small startup companies touting breakthrough cars, like the Coda, whose future is at best problematic. The real breakthroughs are going to occur in labs and R&D facilities engaged in “what the energy secretary, Steven Chu, calls the hunt for miracles.” They are looking for new fuels to replace petroleum.

The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy has a piddling $400-million-over-two-year budget and is in fact modeled on the Pentagon’s DARPA (now with a $3.2 billion budget), which created the technological miracles that gave us the Internet and stealth aircraft.

ARPA-E has some wild projects going in new fuel sources, batteries, and gasoline substitutes. The agency puts seed money into startups like Agrivida, a company developing ways to break down cellulose with enzymes and make cheap fuel on a grand scale.

The goal of this agency, whose budget is $400 million for two years, is to realize profound results—such as tens of millions of motor vehicles that would run 300 miles a day on electricity from clean sources or on liquid fuels from trees and garbage.

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Car Industry News, Car Minded, Car Politics, Domestic Cars, Electric Vehicles, Gas for your car..., General Chat, Green Updates, Hybrid Cars, Trucks & SUVs

Average Used Car Price Increases 10 Percent

August 24th, 2010
2007 Cadillac Escalade

2007 Cadillac Escalade

Attention used car shoppers: Your perfect automobile might cost a little more, but don’t worry, because there’s still a way to find great deals.

Edmunds reports that car buyers on average paid $1,800 more for a used vehicle in July 2010 than they paid in July 2009. That translates to a hefty 10.3 percent increase and brings the average cost of a 3-year-old vehicle to $19,248.

The biggest surprise? The price of a Cadillac Escalade spiked nearly 36 percent, from an average of $25,500 in 2009 to $34,715 this year. Joe Spina, a senior analyst for Edmunds, said,

A lack of confidence in the economy is driving more people to used cars, putting upward pricing pressure on a limited supply of vehicles.

Why is the supply limited, and how can you be sure to find a great deal?

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Car Industry News, Car Minded, Car Shopping, Domestic Cars, Foreign Cars, General Chat, Trucks & SUVs

Mercedes-Benz Previews New CLS-Class Four-Door Coupe

August 23rd, 2010

2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class

In about a month you will see the 2012 CLS in the flesh, so to speak, at the Paris Auto Show. For now, Mercedes has released some pictures, and Auto Express got a spy photo of the real thing last month, which we’ll show you after the break.

To my taste, the car is elegant and sculpted, maybe a bit too flashy from the rear, but powerful and purposeful at the front. “The new CLS points the way forward for the future perceptible design idiom of Mercedes-Benz,” explains Professor Gorden Wagener, head of M-B design.

The new car echoes the styling of the so-called Shooting Break that we wrote about in April when it appeared at the Beijing Auto Show. And in fact, AutoWeek reports that a Shooting Break is “also likely to follow in production, as it already has a code name.”

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Car Industry News, Car Minded, Car Shows, Foreign Cars, General Chat

G-Power BMW M5 Hurricane RR Sets Speed Record

August 23rd, 2010
G-Power BMW M5 Hurricane RR

G-Power BMW M5 Hurricane RR

The title of “world’s fastest” has a powerful pull on guys. We have a certain need for speed, which, in most cases, is a good thing and a source of bragging rights among buddies.

A great example is a former boss who demanded we call him “Mr. 155,” because that’s how fast he once managed push his Audi A6 on a deserted stretch of I-90. The girls in the office thought he was a moron and asked him why he did it. He just grinned impishly, shrugged his shoulders, and said, “Well, just…because I can.”

The guys in the office were in awe of his feat, which became a heavy topic of discussion in which we compared individual top-speed stories and constantly tried to one-up each other.

And that, friends, is the basis of any speed record on the planet. Guys trying to go faster than other guys. Add in untold millions of dollars, a German tuning powerhouse, and a couple of ASA T1 316 superchargers, and pretty soon you’ve got the fastest sedan on Earth.

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Auto Racing, Car Industry News, Car Minded, Exotic Cars, Foreign Cars, General Chat

Red Light Cameras: Not Too Many People Love Them

August 20th, 2010

Red light camera, Springfield, Ohio

It’s like harassment, right? The gummint has just entered another area that should be private. And cash-starved cities have found another way to milk their citizens. Red light cameras have no fans among drivers, even those who drive safely.

The devices have been springing up all over the U.S. for some years now, and their use has generated a lot of public outrage. The issues boil down to three: revenue, safety, and legality.

A friend in California told me he recently got fined $515 when he rolled slowly through an empty intersection in Berkeley late at night. Yeah, he broke the law, but $515?! Since the state is so tapped out, it is doing everything it can to raise revenue. Don’t even ask about fairness.

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Car Minded, Car Politics, Car Safety, General Chat

The 6 Most Luxurious Cars on the Planet

August 20th, 2010
2011 Jaguar XJL

2011 Jaguar XJL

Many times people confuse the word “luxury” with “expensive.” While the two certainly are related, this is by no means a list of the most expensive cars on the planet. That list would be populated by the likes of the Bugatti Veyron, Pagani Zonda, Lamborghini Reventon, and Koenigsegg CCX.

This list is more about luxury and comfort than top speed and 0-60 times. But defining what makes a car “luxurious” is subjective and open for interpretation. Below are some of my choices, but you are more than welcome to add your own! Buckle in, because things are about to get unconventional:

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Car Minded, Car Shopping, Exotic Cars, Foreign Cars, General Chat

GM’s IPO Filing Brings Out the Skeptics

August 19th, 2010
Customers wait to buy GM stock

Customers wait to buy GM stock

It’s what you might have expected: The talking heads are out in force, most proclaiming that GM’s timing is off, its leaders are untested, the market’s not ready, and, of course, the whole thing’s political. They may be right. See some of their quotes here.

General Motors on Wednesday filed for an important public stock offering that would sell both common shares (by GM’s current shareholders, including the federal government, selling about 20 percent of its holdings) and preferred shares to institutional investors.

How will the public and the investor community judge the offering? The Freep’s Tom Walsh pointed out some of its many hurdles, and we’ll explore a few after the break. The critical measures, he says, are investor confidence and the ability of the new GM jockey, Dan Akerson, to get the horse on track and to the finish line.

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Car Industry News, Car Minded, Car Politics, Domestic Cars, General Chat

Cars Coming Soon->New Lancia Stratos, Lotus Evora and SSC Teases What’s Next

August 19th, 2010
New Lancia Stratos

New Lancia Stratos

Whether you can afford a supercar or not, you can’t deny the pull of a sexy high-end performance machine.

If you’re like me, that’s especially true for newly announced supercars, revived cars from the past, or new versions of current classics. No, I won’t be buying one to parade around my city trolling for girls, but that’s not going to stop me from dreaming about it.

Keep reading to learn about some of the latest supercars on the way, and then formulate your own dreams about what you’d do with them!

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Car Industry News, Car Minded, Cars Coming Soon, Classic & Vintage Cars, Exotic Cars, Foreign Cars, General Chat

Gold-Plated Cars and Other Monstrosities

August 18th, 2010

A friend sent me a set of photos awhile back of a Mercedes SLR coupe (above) that was supposedly covered in white gold. The text also claimed the car was powered by a 1,600-hp V10 quad turbo running on biofuel that would get the car from 0-100 kmh in less than 2 seconds. And pigs can fly.

The car caused some comment on the Web, as in this forum, which points up that it’s probably foil-wrapped, that the color is wrong for white gold, and that there’s no way any such engine, even if it existed, would fit under the slim hood. Other sites said the car was chromed, and it was shot at the Mall of the Emirates in Abu Dhabi.

Who can even imagine the excesses of bad automotive taste that exist in the world of the wealthy? Who would dream of gold-plating a Smart, much less a Rolls Phantom Drophead? One Russian nut covered his 911 (996) Cabriolet in 40 pounds of 22-carat gold. We’ll show you this gross miscarriage of opulence, and others, after the break.

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Car Minded, Domestic Cars, Exotic Cars, Foreign Cars, General Chat

2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302: The Legend Returns

August 18th, 2010
2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302

2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302

Ford could have seriously botched the return of the Boss.

It would have been easy to take a basic Mustang GT, slap on some racing stripes, a new badge, and some custom wheels and launch a marketing campaign saying the Boss has returned.

Thankfully, Ford didn’t take that easy marketing path and will offer a genuine Boss 302 for the 2012 model year. The company says,

This new model is steeped in performance heritage and is set to become the quickest, best-handling straight-production Mustang ever offered by Ford.

Excited? Just wait till you see more pictures and read the specs. The Boss is truly back, baby! Should the Camaro be shaking in its wee little boots?

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Car Industry News, Car Minded, Classic & Vintage Cars, Domestic Cars, General Chat