News: Brusa shows off all-electric sportscar

Brusa sportscar fq

Swiss electronics company Brusa recently took an electric sportscar called the Spyder to a European motor show. The Spyder has mysterious underpinnings and may be based on either a rear-engined Volkswagen or possibly a Porsche 914. It’s Porsche 550 Spyder styling clues are more obvious.

Powered by two 95 kW electric motors — one for each rear wheel — the Spyder is reportedly capable of reaching 100 kph in under 5 seconds. Power comes from a 16 kWh lithium polymer battery pack providing enough juice for a range of 125 kilometers at 80 kilometers per hour.

A liquid-cooled charger lives under the bonnet, and a full charge reportedly takes four hours when plugged in to a 16-amp, 220-volt outlet. No details on a possible production schedule yet, but for a vehicle this complex it seems unlikely.

Swiss electronics company Brusa recently took an electric sportsca ...

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News: Ferrari applies for 4WD hybrid system patent

Ferrari patent

Ferrari has been busy working on a part-time 4WD system designed for both its mid and front-engined models for years now. Ferrari has named the new technology ‘Insertable 4×4’ and it has remained a bit of an enigma till now. A recent search of the European Patent Office revealed that the Italian carmaker applied for a new patent back in February for a 4WD system with hybrid propulsion.

The filing describes the system as being primarily intended to “improve the drivability of a sports car in conditions of poor grip.”

Ferrari’s design eliminates the associated heavy weight of 4WD vehicles by using two powerplants in the car — each to drive a separate pair of wheels — which in turn eliminates the need for heavy and bulky transfer cases and driveshafts. In all the designs, however, the engine is matched to an axle via a locking differential.

The design is similar to Citroen’s hybrid system in that it separates the roles of the engine and electric motor. Furthermore, Ferrari has submitted six different layouts for the patent, with some of them sitting the electric motors within the wheels instead of on a conventional axle.

No launch date has been revealed for the system but it looks like a lot of further work is required so don’t expect to see any 4WD hybrid Ferraris for some time yet.

Ferrari has been busy working on a part-time 4WD system designed f ...

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News: Nissan’s first EV – aiming for ugliest car on the road title

Nissan EV fq

Nissan have announced the release of a new all-electric vehicle next year, but the styling of the car has yet to be finalised. Now, Nissan’s chief designer Shiro Nakamura has come out and provided a rendered speculation of the EV’s styling.

The new Nissan EV will shock viewers with its appearance, Nakamura claims, adding that this is a purposeful design to make sure the public knows that this is an all-electric car and not just a hybrid. The car will be avoiding the wedge-shape adopted by the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight and instead will let bespoke EV features make it distinguishable.

One of the more striking features is the car’s grille-less front, the electric drivetrain doesn’t really need a grille but it still looks weird. Since there is no bulky engine up front, the car will also have a very low bonnet-line to aid aerodynamics and give it a bold appearance. The final ‘subtle’ clue to car’s electric status is a recharging plug that will be visible on its nose, leaving no doubt about the power source.

While the car won’t be as constrained in its design as conventional vehicles, its designers still had to sit it on an existing Nissan platform. Because of this, the designers couldn’t fully exploit the design possibilities presented by the electric car, but this has also helped them keep costs of development down.

This fact will change in the future as Nissan develops specific platforms for electric vehicles and lets its designers work from scratch. For now, Nissan is hoping that its new design will be bold enough to stand out in the upcoming crowd of electric vehicles.

There is little doubt the Nissan EV will stand out but it may not be for the right reasons.

Nissan have announced the release of a new all-electric vehicle ne ...

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News: BMW releases info on its 2010 5 Series Gran Turismo

BMW 5 Series GT s

Controversial lead designer Chris Bangle has left BMW but his brand of car design remains. The latest proof of this comes with the announcement of the production 5 Series Gran Turismo, which is little changed from the concept launched in Geneva, except for a few details like smaller wheels and more conventional interior fabrics.

The undefinable 5 Series GT is, according to BMW, meant to combine “the characteristic features of a prestige saloon, a modern, highly versatile Sports Activity Vehicle, and a classic Gran Turismo” — the styling appears to be consistent with this ethos but the final judgement will be passed in sales figures for the vehicle.

BMW has disclosed so far that the European spec gasoline model range will be composed of the 306 horsepower, 3.0-liter 535i Gran Turismo and the 550i Gran Turismo, which relies on a powerful dual-turbo 4.4-litre V8 good for 407 horsepower. Finally, there’s the 530d Gran Turismo, which offers a 3.0-liter, 245 horsepower I6 diesel powerplant and a tidy C02 rating of 173 grams per km. Regardless of engine choice, the sole gearbox offering will be the eight-speed automatic gearbox lifted from the 760i luxury sedan. The multi-cogged unit will increase overall fuel economy, and help performance for any model in the range. BMW are quoting 0-100 kph times of 6.3 seconds for the 535i GT, 5.5 seconds for the 550i GT, and a thoroughly respectable 6.9 seconds for the 530d GT.

Check out the promotional video of the new BMW 5 Series GT below.

Controversial lead designer Chris Bangle has left BMW but his bran ...

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News: Porsche busy hiding financial wounds

Porsche VW logo

It’s a confusing time in the automotive world, and it has become tough to know who is doing well and who is in trouble. For the past few years, Porsche has looked very strong, selling plenty of cars, and quickly gobbling up shares of German juggernaut Volkswagen. But the tables have turned and dried-up credit markets and slowing sales have conspired to put a big wrench in Porsche’s plans, though.

It was recently revealed that Porsche has ditched its plans to take over VW and instead plans to merge the two companies (read news item). Now, German magazine Der Spiegel is reporting that times have been so tight at Porsche that it actually just escaped bankruptcy for three days in March. The German automaker received a 700 million euro loan from VW to stay out of trouble, but needs another 2.5 billion euros to stay in business. Porsche has tried to convince the German government to offer more loans to help scale down the enormous debt it had incurred in attempting to buy VW.

Amazingly, Porsche which sells fewer than 100,000 vehicles per year, has accrued an astonishing 9 billion euros worth of debt. That’s 50% more debt than Chrysler.

It's a confusing time in the automotive world, and it has become t ...

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News: Toshiba develops in-car facial recognition system

Toshiba facial system

Using facial recognition as an interface isn’t an entirely new technology form, but it hasn’t been successfully used in a motor vehicle yet. Toshiba looks set to change that, however, with it now showing off a new system that will allow users to control the A/C or radio with the glance of an eye, but also be able to alert you if you happen to take your eyes off the road for too long.

How does it all work? It’s done with the aid of a camera mounted above the steering wheel that’s used to both identify and map out the driver’s face, letting the car detect everything from drivers head movement and eye direction to eyelid blinks, which Toshiba says could eventually be used to alert drowsy drivers.

Although the potential automotive applications are exciting Toshiba doesn’t have any immediate plans to work in with an automaker and commercialise its systems, but is apparently working hard to further develop the technology.

Using facial recognition as an interface isn't an entirely new tec ...

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News: March 2011 launch date for Chevy Camaro Convertible

Chevy Camaro Convertible fq

Recent reports stated that GM’s plans for a high-performance Camaro Z28 had been canceled and the Camaro Convertible was stuck in limbo, now fresh info has come to light. The Camaro Z28 isn’t looking likely to ever reach production but the Camaro Convertibe is set for a March 2011 launch.

Cost cutting at GM and fears that the German supplier of the Camaro Convertible’s roof mechanism was about to go under led to last week’s claims that the car was put on hold indefinitely. However, the supplier in question is still in business and has a fresh contract with GM.

GM spokesman Terry Rhadigan recently confirmed that production of the highly anticipated convertible is scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2011. He went on to concede that this will be a few months later than the originally planned late 2010 launch. “We always thought it would be one year after the coupe,” he said. “Instead we are going two.”

As for the Z28, GM was planning to add the 550hp (410kW) 6.2L V8 engine from the Cadillac CTS-V to the Camaro’s engine bay in an attempt to out-power the Dodge Challenger SRT8 and Shelby Mustang GT and claim the status of baddest modern muscle car. Sadly, the Z28’s expected $50 million development price tag and potential low sales volume meant it never really had a chance.

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News: No Indy 500 pace car this year, but here are the results

Scott Dixon Indy car fq

We write this as the 2009 Indy 500 has just finished – an exciting result, but you won’t be able to buy the Camaro Pace Car this year. The reason Chevrolet cites is that producing too many specials devalues the standard car, and what with the Bumblebee Camaro on the cards to celebrate the new Transformers movie, you’ll just have to purchase a standard Camaro and make the stickers yourself.

Results of the Indy 500 2009 (top 10)

1. Castroneves

2. Wheldon

3. Patrick

4. Bell

5. Power

6. Dixon

7. Franchitti

8. Carpenter

9. Tracy

10. Mutoh

Here’s the full list of Indy 500 pace cars since back in the day
Year     Model     Driver
2008     Chevrolet Corvette     Emerson Fittipaldi
2007     Chevrolet Corvette     Patrick Dempsey
2006     Chevrolet Corvette C6     Lance Armstrong
2005     Chevrolet Corvette     Gen. Colin Powell
2004     Chevrolet Corvette C5     Morgan Freeman
2003     Chevy SSR     Herb Fishel
2002     2003 Chevrolet Corvette     Jim Caviezel
2001     Oldsmobile Bravada     Elaine Irwin-Mellencamp
2000     Oldsmobile Aurora     Anthony Edwards
1999     Chevrolet Monte Carlo     Jay Leno
1998     Chevrolet Corvette     Parnelli Jones
1997     Oldsmobile Aurora     Johnny Rutherford
1996     Dodge Viper GTS     Robert A. Lutz
1995     Chevrolet Corvette     Jim Perkins
1994     Ford Mustang Cobra     Parnelli Jones
1993     Chevrolet Camaro Z-28     Jim Perkins
1992     Cadillac Allante     Bobby Unser
1991     Dodge Viper RT/10     Carroll Shelby
1990     Chevrolet Beretta     Jim Perkins
1989     20th Anniversary Pontiac Trans Am     Bobby Unser
1988     Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme     Gen. Chuck Yeager
1987     Chrysler LeBaron     Carroll Shelby
1986     Chevrolet Corvette     Gen. Chuck Yeager
1985     Oldsmobile Calais     James Garner
1984     Pontiac Fiero     John Callies
1983     Buick Riviera Convertible     Duke Nalon
1982     Chevrolet Camaro Z28     Jim Rathmann
1981     Buick Regal V-6     Duke Nalon
1980     Pontiac Turbo-Trans Am     Johnnie Parsons
1979     Ford Mustang     Jackie Stewart
1978     Chevrolet Corvette     Jim Rathmann
1977     Oldsmobile Delta 88     James Garner
1976     Buick Turbocharged V-6     Marty Robbins
1975     Buick Century Custom ‘Free Spirit’     James Garner
1974     Hurst/Olds Cutlass     Jim Rathmann
1973     Cadillac Eldorado     Jim Rathmann
1972     Hurst/Olds Cutlass     Jim Rathmann
1971     Dodge Challenger     Eldon Palmer
1970     Oldsmobile 4-4-2     Rodger Ward
1969     Chevrolet Camaro SS     Jim Rathmann
1968     Ford Torino GT     William C. Ford
1967     Chevrolet Camaro     Mauri Rose
1966     Mercury Comet Cyclone GT     Benson Ford
1965     Plymouth Sports Fury     P.M. Buckminster
1964     Ford Mustang     Benson Ford
1963     Chrysler ‘300’     Sam Hanks
1962     Studebaker     Sam Hanks
1961     Ford Thunderbird     Sam Hanks
1960     Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight     Sam Hanks
1959     Buick Electra 225     Sam Hanks
1958     Pontiac Bonneville     Sam Hanks
1957     Mercury Turnpike Cruiser     F.C. Reith
1956     DeSoto Fireflite Pacesetter     L.I. Woolson
1955     Chevrolet Bel Air     T.H. Keating
1954     Dodge Royal 500     William C. Newburg
1953     Ford Crestline Sunliner     William C. Ford
1952     Studebaker Commander     P.O. Peterson
1951     Chrysler New Yorker V-8     Dave Wallace
1950     Mercury     Benson Ford
1949     Oldsmobile 88 ‘Rocket’     Wilbur Shaw
1948     Chevrolet Stylemaster Six-Series     Wilbur Shaw
1947     Nash Ambassador     George W. Mason
1946     Lincoln Continental     Henry Ford II
1941     Chrysler-Newport (Phaeton)     A.B. Couture
1940     Studebaker Champion     Harry Hartz
1939     Buick Roadmaster Series 80     Charles Chayne
1938     Hudson ‘112’     Stuart Baits
1937     LaSalle Series 50     Ralph DePalma
1936     Packard One-Twenty     Tommy Milton
1935     Ford Model 48     Harry Mack
1934     LaSalle Model 350     ‘Big Boy’ Rader
1933     Chrysler Imperial (Phaeton)     Byron Foy
1932     Lincoln Model KB     Edsel Ford
1931     Cadillac 370 Twelve     ‘Big Boy’ Rader
1930     Cord L-29     Wade Morton
1929     Studebaker Series F-10 President     George Hunt
1928     Marmon ‘8’ (Model 78)     Joe Dawson
1927     LaSalle V-8 Series 303     ‘Big Boy’ Rader
1926     Chrysler Imperial E-80     Louis Chevrolet
1925     Rickenbacker Eight     Eddie Rickenbacker
1924     Cole V-8 Series 890     Lew Pettijohn
1923     Duesenberg Model A     Fred S. Duesenberg
1922     National Sextet     Barney Oldfield
1921     H.C.S. Series 6     Harry C. Stutz
1920     Marmon Model 34     Barney Oldfield
1919     Packard 335     Col. J. G. Vincent
1916     Premier Model 656     Frank E. Smith
1915     Packard Model 548     Carl G. Fisher
1914     Stoddard-Dayton     Carl G. Fisher
1913     Stoddard-Dayton     Carl G. Fisher
1912     Stutz     Carl G. Fisher
1911     Stoddard-Dayton Model 11-A     Carl G. Fisher

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