News: BMW pulls plug on CS concept

BMW CS Concept s

The tough economic climate has taken another automotive victim with the announcement this week that BMW will not be putting its Concept CS into production. The German automaker cites a distinct lack of profitability as the main reason the CS project has been canceled. Last quarter, BMW returned a profit of just 1.3% from its global automotive operations, and that has those in charge worried enough to put a project like the CS on hold. So the brand-new 7 Series will remain at the top of BMW’s model range for now.

This doesn’t mean BMW engineers aren’t hard at work. Efficiency, fuel consumption and vehicle emissions are top priority now and BMW is pushing forward its EfficientDynamics project, which should add technologies such as stop/start and hybrid drivetrains to its mainstream models. After the all-electric Mini E makes its debut at the LA Auto Show, expect BMW to work super hard on its next city car project.

News: Spyker D12 will go into production

Spyker D12 fq

In the current economic climate you may think that developing a exotic super-sport-utility vehicle wouldn’t be a flash idea. But Dutch automaker Spyker is prepared to go against the trend and push on with their D12 Peking-to-Paris SSUV.

The concept initially made its concept debut back at the 2006 Geneva Motor Show, with a pre-production version bowing the following year. Power was initially sourced from a VW Group 500-hp W12 engine, but later reports suggested a switch to American V8 muscle (likely from GM or Ford). Development has benefited from Lotus engineering input. Previous reports also suggested the D12 would hit production sometime next year, and indicated pricing now pegs the sticker at $295,000 ($485,000 NZ).

To maintain a strong presence Spyker will need to take the model to the American market, but the price may be lowered to $200k ($330,000 NZ), still making it the most expensive and most exotic production SUV ever made.

News: Scorpion concept car hides a green sting

Ronn Motor Scorpion fq

Most of us have never heard of the Ronn Motor Company, but that may change very soon. Released this week at the SEMA show in Las Vegas, USA was a menacing looking car aptly named the Scorpion.

Ronn Maxwell and a team of fabricators, engine builders and all-around car guys, wanted to create a supercar that delivered striking good looks, engaging driving dynamics and a bit of green technology to bring the supercar into the 21st century. The result is the 450-hp Scorpion and its hotter, 600-hp sibling, the Scorpion HX.

Very lightweight the Scorpion is built on a chrome-moly chassis shrouded in a carbon fiber body. A smooth shape hides its sting, along with 20-inch MOZ wheels and 12-inch Wilwood disc brakes. Honda donates the 3.5-liter DOHC VTEC-equipped V6 and its matched with a close-ratio six-speed manual sending power to the rear wheels through an LSD. The standard Scorpion puts out 450 hp, while the HX uses a twin-turbo set up and a proprietary intercooler to bring output up to 600 hp. Quoted 0-100km times aren’t available yet , but top speed should be in excess of 320 kph.

While coaxing 600 hp out of a twin-turbo 3.5-litre V6 isn’t amazing, the H2GO Hydrogen On-Demand system sets the Scorpion apart. The system produces hydrogen through the electrolysis of water while the vehicle is in motion, creating 130-octane hydrogen. A mixture of gasoline and hydrogen is injected into the intake manifold, along with a 30-40 percent mixture of air. That allows the Scorpion to keep emissions at a minimum while returning excellent economy.

Check back for more news on concept cars from the SEMA show

News: Hyundai and Microsoft team up

Hyundai Microsoft fq

Hyundai and software giant Microsoft have just signed a deal on a new infotainment technology partnership. This is Microsoft’s second automotive partnership, having already equipped Ford with its technology.

The first new jointly produced system will provide voice-controlled connectivity between mobile devices for Hyundai and Kia vehicles beginning in 2010. Microsoft will also work with Korea’s Institute for IT Advancement to open an Automotive IT Innovation Centre in Seoul. The Korean auto giant will partner with Microsoft on auto telecommunication, telematics, navigation systems, and improving Human Machine Interface technology.

Infotainment technology like Ford’s SYNC and BMW’s in-car Internet systems are so hot right now. Microsoft appears to be capitalising on the new trend by netting Hyundai as a second automotive partner, while Hyundai gets the new interactive tech that customers are craving. If its cars are anything to go by, Hyundai’s version of the technology will probably cost less and do more.

Blogs: Economic misery means less goodies for us…bah!

Usually you go on a car launch and the manufacturers attempt to ply you with branded torches, helicopter trips, great food and swanky accommodation. Mitsubishi launched the Lancer Ralliart, facelifted Pajero and Lancer Sportback in Wellington last week on a considerably tighter budget due to the global economic situation and the fact that our dollar has dropped precipitously eroding all their profits.

I did manage to get a notebook and pen out of them. They’re not even branded Mitsubishi, though. The accommodation and food were great, though, and the drive route was fantastic (over the Rimutakas through to Eketehuna and its surrounds). But I don’t do it for the goodies – I’ve got enough ‘stuff’ and don’t really need any more. Except maybe an electric can opener.

The Ralliart Lancer sits between the VRX and the Evo X, and it was very good. For the average driver, the Ralliart Lancer would  be better – it’s more tractable, less manic, but still a great drive. The Sportback…well, the styling from the rear is ugly, but it drives very well. The Pajero has some significant engine changes and a new front grille. The fuel economy is now much improved and it’s vastly quieter at speed.

The overwhelming message now is fuel economy, but not for environmental reasons, purely because people are desperate to save money. For the average driver, though, an extra litre per 100km will only save 150 litres a year (about $225). Most drivers could save that just by modifying their driving habits slightly.

News: Hamann releases the Volcano

Hamann Volcano fq

Hamann has finally released full details of its reworked Mercedes McLaren SLR supercar explosively named the Volcano.

With 5.4-liters of supercharged displacement to work with, Hamann turned up the boost with a new pulley, custom exhaust manifolds and tuned ECU to bring output up to a whopping 700 hp and 612 lb.-ft. of torque. To avoid total meltdown, Hamann added an additional water pump, and to make better use of the extra grunt, tweaked the transmission’s control unit. The 0-100km time is only 3.6 seconds.

Lashings of carbon fibre replace the front and rear wings and the side skirts, while a new bonnet, diffuser and front spoiler all do there best to keep things moving nicely under speed. EDITION RACE 21-inch wheels are fitted and wrapped in 255/30 (front) and 345/25 (rear) rubber. In addition to two color choices — aluminum/chrome or white/matte — owners can choose from new aluminum pedals, door sills and headrests emblazoned with Hamann logos, along with carbon fibre and Alcantara trim for the dash, center console, steering wheel and sun visors.

Might be a while before we see one of these expensive bad boys down here in NZ, but dreams still remain free. There are always plenty of real volcanos to check out.

News: Novitec Rosso tunes 800hp Ferraris

Ferrari Novotec fq

Tuning company Novitec Rosso has been busy developing go-faster kits for already high performing Ferraris.

An upgraded Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano can achieve a maximum rated power output of 808 hp / 594 kW, a peak torque of 823 Nm and a top speed of more than 340 km/h, all the result of a high-tech twin compressor conversion. The tuning is accompanied by an aerodynamic-enhancement kit developed in the wind tunnel, three-piece 21-inch wheels with correspondingly calibrated sports suspension, a high-performance brake system, and custom interior options.

As for the Ferrari F430, Novitec Rosso relies on mechanically supercharging the six-litre four-valve V12 engine of the F599 with two compressors for boosting performance. The cogged-belt driven high-performance superchargers produce a maximum boost pressure of 0.39 bars, and are a lubricated by their own dedicated oil circulation. The pre-compressed air is then cooled down to a level conducive for added power by a large intercooler that itself is cooled by a dedicated water cycle. A specially designed intake manifold with high-performance injectors and sport air filter round out the conversion on the intake side.

In addition, Novitec Rosso installs custom exhaust manifolds calibrated to the twin compressors, and the Novitec Rosso stainless-steel quad sport exhaust system with a tailpipe diameter of 90 millimeters. The exhaust note can be adjusted using the ‘manettino’ switch on the steering wheel from ‘sporty yet discrete’ to ‘definitely sounds like racing.’
The Novitec Rosso engine management coordinates the interaction of all conversion components. It not only ensures maximum power yield but also smooth running and maximum longevity.

Such performance places extreme demands on perfectly balanced aerodynamics. The Novitec Rosso designers went into the wind tunnel to develop aerodynamic-enhancement components that add some visual pizzazz to the 599 and make it more aerodynamically efficient. The front spoiler lip is attached to the production bumper and reduces lift on the front axle. Its aerodynamic counterpart in the rear is the rear diffuser that can optionally be combined with a rear spoiler.

The extensive high-performance package for the 599 also includes custom-tailored Novitec Rosso NF3 light-alloy wheels with high-performance tires from PIRELLI.

These king-size wheels offers space for the high-performance brake system developed in cooperation with Brembo. The brake uses the largest components currently legal for street use. The front and rear features steel discs with diameters of 405 millimeters and six-piston brake calipers.

Bound and rebound of the height-adjustable Novitec Rosso sport suspension can be adjusted to each 599 owner’s individual preferences. In addition the suspension also offers a highly useful lift feature that is activated by pushing a button in the cockpit. The front of the car can be raised by 40 millimeters to navigate safely past obstacles such as parking ramps or speed bumps without scraping the front apron. The suspension automatically reverts to its original position once the car reaches a speed of 80 km/h.

So when a standard Ferrari just isn’t scary enough, get in touch with Novitec Rosso who will make sure you have the meanest Ferrari since Magnum P.I.

News: Tesla Motors receives cash injection

Tesla Roadster f

Tesla Motors, the all-electric automaker has just secured $40 million ($67.4m NZ) in financing to move forward with boosting up production of its battery-powered sports car, the Tesla Roadster.

Last month, Tesla was unable to secure a $100 million ($168m NZ) investment and was forced to cut nearly 25% of its work force. The failure to get funding also slowed work on its second model, an all-electric sedan known as the “Model S.” The San Carlos.

The California-based automaker has more than 1,200 orders for the $109,000 ($183,000 NZ) roadster, but has delivered just over 50 to date. With early transmission problems solved and plenty of cash on hand, the high-profile automaker seems to have finally found itself in a position to push forward.