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Auto Blog

Infiniti SUV recall marks latest chapter in Takata airbag saga

Fri, 31 Oct 2014 17:43:00 EST

Automotive parts maker Takata is having a rough year with millions of vehicles equipped with its airbag inflators being recalled. However, it looks like there might still be problems with the company's quality control, if a new recall by Infiniti is any indication.
The Japanese luxury brand is recalling 1,912 total units of the 2013 Infiniti QX56 and 2014 QX80 in North America because of a manufacturing flaw with their Takata-supplied inflators for the driver's side front airbag. Of those, 1,848 are in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Specifically, the outer baffle could be the wrong component and cause too much pressure to build up inside. According to documents submitted to NHTSA, it's possible in a crash for the part to rupture spraying metal shrapnel at occupants. At this time, Infiniti has not had any reports of this actually happening to drivers.
While this problem sounds nearly identical to the issue affecting millions of earlier vehicles, it must be noted that this is a different fault. According to the notice being sent to dealers on NHTSA's website: "This particular Voluntary Safety Recall Campaign is unrelated to two earlier campaigns that involved Takata passenger front air bag inflators on some older model Infiniti vehicles. This issue involves a much newer inflator and is a different, more isolated, Takata quality control issue."

Daimler buys 25 percent of MV Agusta

Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:45:00 EST

BMW obviously builds motorcycles, and Volkswagen Group owns Ducati. Now, fellow German automaker Daimler is hopping into the two-wheel game by buying a 25-percent stake in Italian sportbike maker MV Agusta for an undisclosed price.
According to Daimler's press release, its Mercedes-AMG division is actually the one that's going to be working with MV Agusta in a "long-term partnership," including coordinated marketing and sales. The automaker is also appointing a member to the motorcycle company's board of directors. At this time, there's no mention of actually co-developing models together, though.
"MV Agusta and Mercedes-AMG are a perfect brand fit: Two complementary companies that stand for design, high performance and excellence. Mercedes-AMG will help MV Agusta to further expand globally and to accelerate our growth," said MV Agusta president and CEO Giovanni Castiglioni in Daimler's announcement.

World's Fastest Hearse now up to 1,300 hp, looking for more records

Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:00:00 EST

Unfortunately, for many people, a ride in the back of the hearse is the last chance they ever get to be in a car. In the case of "Madness" from AMS Performance, it could get folks to their final resting place faster than anything else around.
Based around an actual hearse from a 1996 Chevrolet Caprice originally converted by Superior Coaches, Madness has been the ongoing project of AMS Performance Vice President Arne Toman for years. The idea was partially inspired when he saw the Guinness Record for the fastest hearse was a a 13.72-second quarter mile, and that seemed quite beatable.
In the video above, under the hood of this beast is a Chevy LQ4 6.0-liter V8 out of a van with light mods like new cams and valve springs. However, it also has a turbo running at around 23 psi that brings power to around 1,000 horsepower. It makes this hearse go like a bat out of hell, It can hit 60 miles per hour in about 2.3 seconds at the strip, but the interior still has air conditioning, a stereo and all of the original equipment to carry a casket in the back.

2015 BMW i8 sets everyone's tongues wagging in Northern Michigan

Fri, 31 Oct 2014 14:15:00 EST

Like few other cars we can remember, people want to talk about the 2015 BMW i8. Drive one, and you'll soon find out what we mean. They stop you at gas stations. They accost you in Walgreen's parking lots. They stream out of neighborhood bars, beers in hand.
At least, that was our experience this week during Autoblog's Technology of the Year testing. We had the pleasure of driving the plug-in hybrid BMW sports car up to and around Petoskey, MI, a resort town where seeing such exotics is rare enough, let alone in the off season. It made for some interesting conversations - so we began writing down some of the comments the butterfly-doored coupe inspired. Here's a sampling:
"Wanna race for pinks? I'll go easy on you." - Acne-covered teenage pizza delivery driver in a sad-looking Ford Taurus parked at a Valero gas station near Grayling (which incidentally didn't actually have gas).

Hyundai/Kia's Prius rival to arrive by 2017

Fri, 31 Oct 2014 13:29:00 EST

The Toyota Prius is the undisputed king of the hybrid market, but Hyundai and Kia are hoping to challenge its reign in the coming years with their own dedicated model. However, in all likelihood this is the same technology being shared between them. "We will take the lead in the future by raising the competitiveness of our environment-friendly cars like hybrid-only cars, plug-in hybrid cars and fuel cell hydrogen cars," Hyundai Motor CEO Kim Choong-ho said to Reuters, during the launch of another vehicle in South Korea.
While Kim didn't say when the model would be ready, Autocar in Europe spoke to people at Kia, who said that the company's own hybrid was two years away and codenamed the DE. The initial vehicle is reportedly a five-door hatchback that's about 169-inches long, with more conventional styling than the Prius. Its powertrain is reportedly based around a 1.6-liter engine with electric assist. A plug-in version might follow later, and other bodystyles on the platform are possible. A recently spotted test mule might show the current state of development on the project (pictured above).
According to Reuters, the decision for the new vehicle comes in order to meet tighter emissions in some markets. However, it seems like a challenging move for the US market. Hyundai already sells its Tucson fuel cell in limited quantities and the Sonata hybrid, and Kia has the Optima hybrid and Soul EV. Industry analysts are also predicting that hybrids might have a hard time versus internal combustion engines in the coming years. In addition, Toyota is rumored to get fuel economy close to 60 miles per gallon for some versions of the next Prius. All of these factors make selling the models here a potentially difficult undertaking.

An inside look at Mopar's SEMA fleet

Fri, 31 Oct 2014 12:45:00 EST

Mopar is heading to the SEMA show in Las Vegas with a fleet of customized vehicles that appeal to enthusiasts of all stripes. There's a Dodge Viper ACR concept that follows in the lineage of the supercar's great road racing past, and a custom Ram ProMaster that might just be the ultimate outdoor party machine.
We got an inside look at Mopar's cars that will be on display at the show, which also include a Dodge Challenger T/A concept, two crazy Jeeps and a Ram 2500 Outdoorsman that could change the way you camp. While these are some of our favorites, Mopar is bringing plenty to SEMA, so let us know your top choices in the comments section.

NHTSA fines Ferrari $3.5 million for missing reports

Fri, 31 Oct 2014 11:02:00 EST

Ferrari will pay a $3.5 million penalty for family to comply with oversight requirements set forth by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The federal agency that oversees road safety in the United States announced Friday morning that Ferrari had not submitted early warning reports for the past three years. These reports help the agency identify potential or existing safety threats.
In the wake of the rolling recalls for defective General Motors ignition switches, there has been considerable scrutiny of NHTSA's handling - or mishandling - of these early warning reports. Friday's fine is an indication the agency is taking its enforcement mandates more seriously, albeit against a manufacturer that has no large-scale presence on American roads.

Ford Transit customs ready to work for SEMA

Fri, 31 Oct 2014 10:15:00 EST

Ford's booth at the SEMA Show this year looks to have two, big themes. The Blue Oval is bringing over a dozen takes on the 2015 Mustang to the event, and it's now also announcing five customized versions on the 2015 Transit to join the modded pony cars. Each of the vans shows off a different use for the spacious commercial vehicle, from plush luxury to offroad ruggedness.
You probably don't think of the Transit as hitting the trails, but that's just what the take on the design from the Vegas Off-Road Experience (pictured above) is for. The company gives people the opportunity to drive a desert race truck, and this custom is meant to drive them to events. It should be able to take on the terrain a little better with off-road wheels and tires and fender flares, but inside passengers get serious luxury thanks to a 60-inch LED TV and video game systems.
Alternatively the blazing red Designed Travel Transit (right) is all about long road trips. The interior features four captain's chairs with heating, cooling and massage functions, and there's a 4K 50-inch TV to watch. For a touch of added class, the floor is made from hickory.

Porsche Panamera Exclusive Series to debut in LA for $260k

Fri, 31 Oct 2014 09:30:00 EST

Driving a Porsche should feel like a privileged experience. But if you need one with extra space in the back, and have been turned off by the success of the Panamera that has made it ubiquitous, you may be intrigued by Porsche's latest reveal.
Set to debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the new Panamera Exclusive Series stands out with some unique touches. It's based on the top-of-the-line Panamera Turbo S Executive, which tells you it comes with the 4.8-liter twin-turbo V8 in top 570-horsepower spec, but also with the extended wheelbase that provides for extra space in the otherwise crowded rear seat. And that's not all.
Porsche Exclusive has also given this special-edition Panamera a unique two-tone black and brown paintjob, a set of 20-inch Sport Classic wheels painted black, and an interior done up in Nappa leather - two-tone black and brown to compliment the exterior - with dark walnut and piano black trim and a pair of 10.1-inch rear-seat touchscreens.

Hyundai beefs up HB20 R-Spec in Brazil

Fri, 31 Oct 2014 07:59:00 EST

If you've been following the news from the Sao Paulo Motor Show, you'll likely have seen not only a series of new concept cars, but also a whole mess of production vehicles you never knew existed because they were developed specifically for the Latin American market. One of them is the Hyundai HB20.
Hyundai Brasil makes the HB20 in Sao Paulo for local consumption in three forms: there's the HB20 hatchback, HB20S sedan and HB20X crossover. It's the former which it has transformed into the R-Spec concept you see here.
Decked out in matte blue, the HB20 R-Spec concept packs an aggressively upgraded aero kit, extra cooling ducts, 17-inch alloys, LED headlights and an interior with leather trim and striped seats. Even if we don't know what's under the hood, it all looks pretty convincing, and makes us wish Hyundai would offer it Stateside as part of the Accent family with which it shares its underpinnings.