News: U.S car sales lowest since 1963

Various estimates of January 2009 U.S. car sales hover around 660,000 units. According to General Motors executive Mike DiGiovanni, that’s “the lowest January in terms of unit sales since 1963.”

A year ago, in January 2008, there were more than a million cars sold in the U.S. In view this year’s decline, it’s no wonder more cars were sold in China than in the states last month. If GM’s estimates at preliminary numbers holds up it would be the first time ever that China’s car market has outsold America’s, with Chinese sales estimated to be around 790,000 cars for January. The official results will not be known until Chinese sales figures become available.

Various estimates of January 2009 U.S. car sales hover around 660,000 ...

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News: Mitsubishi pulls out of Dakar Rally… for good

Mitsubishi Dakar Rally

Mitsubishi joins the list of car-makers like Honda, Audi, Porsche, Suzuki and Subaru in pulling out of some form of motorsports because of the global economic crisis. Neither the Mitsubishi Pajeros that won the Dakar Rally twelve times in total (out of 26 attempts), or the diesel Racing Lancer that earned a seventh place in this year’s race, will be seen pounding the sands again any time soon.

The Japanese automaker has ended its factory efforts in order to focus on its core business. Having stamped its authority all over the Dakar after seven consecutive Dakar victories, its presence will be missed come 2010, and will leave a gap for a new champion to fill.

Mitsubishi joins the list of car-makers like Honda, Audi, Porsche, ...

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News: Hulme Can-Am car looks sharp in Taupo

hulme-canam-fq

The McLaren legacy remains a powerful draw-card. Kiwi Bruce McLaren was a total legend as a racing driver, engineer and team principal in his day, winning races and championships in Formula One, Indy cars and Can-Am. Ever since his passing in 1970, there has been plenty of supercars ready to lift up his mantle, the McLaren F1, Mercedes SLR, Caparo T1 even a Dodge Viper concept. Now, ready to be added to that list is the Hulme CanAm, a lightweight supercar six years in the making.

The car is named after Denny Hulme a friend of Mclarens who won the F1 title in 1967 before going on to win the Can-Am championship the following year. The pictured car is painted the same bright orange as the McLaren racer in which Hulme wom the Can-Am championship. Previously named the Hulme F1 the Hulme CanAm has had some changes in its development. Along with the name change and the addition of an open-roof model, the Hulme has received a heart transplant in the form of a 7.0-litre LS7 V8 borrowed from the Corvette Z06 to replace the previous BMW unit, giving it 600 horsepower. That’s enough to push the supercar to 100kph in less than three seconds and on to nearly320 kph. The Hulme CanAm recently underwent its first public outing at the recent A1GP race in Taupo, where it looked brilliant lapping the circuit. It is expected to hit the Global market with a $700,000 US ($1.36m NZ) price tag sometime next year.

Till then check back for more updates and browse the images below

The McLaren legacy remains a powerful draw-card. Kiwi Bruce McLare ...

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News: Vigilante targets boy racer exhausts in Blenheim

A secretive self-styled vigilante in Blenheim is staging a hate campaign against the so called ‘boy-racers” of the town. The vigilante’s brand of justice involves spraying an expanding building foam into the big-bore exhausts of any cars that are seen to fit the boy-racer profile.

In an anonymous letter sent to The Marlborough Express newspaper, the “Phantom Foamer” said he or she was randomly targeting vehicles with wide exhausts and filling them with the expanding foam.

“I have taken it upon myself to respond to the socially maladjusted Blenheim pinheads that have chosen to have a wide-mouthed-boy-racer exhaust installed on their car,” the letter said.

The Phantom said in the letter that eight vehicles had already been targeted.

The expanding building foam takes about four hours to set.

Blenheim Police constable Michelle Stagg said in an interview with a local paper that police had received four complaints of “foamings”, but as yet no charges had been laid as the car owners were able to clear out the foam before it dried.

Victims have included a Marlborough District Council employee and a police officer.  Potentially the foam bandit could face charges of wilful damage and disorderly behaviour, and possibly the more serious unlawful interference with a motor vehicle.

The owners of the targeted vehicles could face repair bills in the thousands of dollars. The foam could potentially cause head gaskets to blow or exhaust systems to break. The worst-hit car so far has had its exhaust system removed and the foam burnt out.

In the letter the Phantom said that the “public service” would continue until the “inadequate nobheads get the message”. The writer advised vehicle owners of “wide-mouthed blowers” to remove them otherwise their turn would come to face the foam. “It may not happen tomorrow, next week, or next month, but it will happen. Enjoy!”, the letter said.

Getting your vehicle foamed by a psycho may not be as bad as it being crushed by a politician. However, now more than ever it pays to keep an eye on your wheels and not act too much like a pinhead… or a nobhead.

A secretive self-styled vigilante in Blenheim is staging a hate campai ...

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News: Citroen DS on the comeback trail

Citroen DS fq

The cult favourite Citroen DS is set to finally make a big comeback. Citroen is ready to launch a global rebranding campaign later today in conjunction with its 90th birthday, and along with upgrading its dealers and providing better post-sales support, Citroen will introduce a new segment of “near-premium” models that will revive the DS nameplate.

The first concept, a small car wearing a DS3 badge, will be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show this March and hit the European market in the first half of 2010. Citroen will expand the range to include a lower-midsize vehicle, dubbed the DS4, due to go on sale in 2011, while a third model, an upper-medium sized sedan wearing a DS5 nameplate, will arrive in showrooms in late 2011.

The new DS range of vehicles will be positioned higher than their corresponding C3, C4 and C5 kin, and will likely feature more striking designs and luxurious appointments. Check back for more details on the DS’ comeback shortly.

The cult favourite Citroen DS is set to finally make a big comebac ...

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News: Jeremy Clarkson’s salary slashed

According to the UK’s Daily Mail, Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson makes an estimated £2,000,000 per year. Because of the financial realities of a hurting global economy, that is all set to change.

If reports are correct, Clarkson stands to lose up to £500,000 because of cost cutting by the BBC. While The Beeb is honoring all current contracts, the world’s largest public broadcaster is looking to save £20 million by reducing salaries. Anyone making more than £100,000 per year will get a 25% pay cut when their contract is renewed. However, if the reports of Clarkson’s profit sharing from the Top Gear show are true, he won’t be hurting too badly from the pay reduction.

According to the UK's Daily Mail, Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson makes an ...

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News: 2009 Ford Focus RS specs and figures released

Ford Focus RS fq

Ford has released further details about the new 2009 Ford Focus RS, including full technical specifications. The 2009 Ford Focus RS is powered by a 2.5-litre 20V DOHC RS engine that outputs 224kW at 6500 rpm and 440 Nm of torque between 2300 rpm and 4500 rpm. The engine is fitted with a Borg -Warner K16 integrated turbo system with thin-wall iron housing. The engine management system of the 2009 Ford Focus RS is a Bosch ME 9.0, EURO Stage 4. The engine is teamed up with a manual 6-speed gearbox with synchromesh on all ratios including reverse.

Ford has also released the offical exact performance figures of the 2009 Ford Focus RS: the top speed is 263 kmh, 0-100 km/h is done in 5.9 seconds. The fuel economy of the 2009 Ford Focus RS is 9.4 l/100km (30.5 mpg) in a combined cycle and the car emits 225 g of CO2 per km.

So all the numbers check out on what is the most eagerly anticipated model released by Ford for a long time.

Ford has released further details about the new 2009 Ford Focus RS ...

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News: Volkswagen creates world’s first hybrid SUV

Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid

Volkswagen is busy presenting a prototype of the future Touareg V6 TSI Hybrid. This car will enter production in 2010 as the world’s first hybrid SUV to have 3.5 metric ton towing capacity. Volkswagen is introducing one of the highest performance parallel hybrid systems in the world in this SUV. The German carmaker is utilising the alliance of a V6 TSI (245 kW) boosted by supercharger and an electric motor (38 kW). Up to a speed of 50 km/h, the Touareg V6 TSI Hybrid can be driven by just the electric motor. In this case, no emissions are generated.

The Touareg Hybrid prototype currently being demonstrated apparently incorporates many features of the future production vehicle. The car is powered by a new V6 TSI — a highly advanced configuration of a direct injection gasoline engine boosted by a mechanically-driven supercharger — in tandem with an electric motor. It features a newly developed 8-speed automatic transmission. The SUV is able to offer a new all-wheel drive system and up to 3.5 metric tons towing capacity.

When used in the hybrid drive, fuel consumption of less than 9.0 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers is attained. The electric motor installed between the V6 TSI and the 8-speed automatic transmission delivers a maximum power of 38 kW / 52 PS. In boosting mode — where maximum torque and power are required, the V6 TSI engine and the electric motor operate together (by kickdown or gearshift selector in “S” position). Under these conditions, a temporary maximum power of 275 kW is available with a maximum torque of 550 Nm.

Volkswagen is busy presenting a prototype of the future Touareg V6 ...

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