Archive for August, 2009

Top Ten Stolen Vehicles of 2008

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Thanks to modern technologies like ignition keys with embedded chips and factory installed security immobilizers, it's getting harder and harder to steal new cars. As a result, the number of cars and trucks stolen in the United States dropped by 13.1 percent in 2008 compared to 2007, a trend that has been continuing for five years. Total thefts for the year could actually end up under 1 million for the first time in 20 years.

Owners of older cars on the other hand aren't so lucky. One of the main driving factors behind car thefts is to strip the vehicles and sell the parts. The main market for those parts is older, high volume vehicles, so the same vehicles are the ones that tend to get stolen. The top ten stolen vehicles for 2008 includes a couple of surprises and a bunch of perennial hits. Check out the whole list by clicking the image above.

[Source: SmartBrief | Photo by stephenyeargin | CC 2.0]

Continue reading Top Ten Stolen Vehicles of 2008

Top Ten Stolen Vehicles of 2008 originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 31 Aug 2009 19:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Spy Shots: 2011 VW Jetta Sedan

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta - Click above for a high-res image gallery

After spending time with the Jetta sedan last year, we came away mostly impressed by its performance and looks. V-Dub's bread-and-butter model is handsome enough to keep buyers interested, but every design gets stale and after wearing the same duds since 2004, VW is working on all-new sheetmetal for the 2011 model year.

KPG caught the new Jetta Sedan undergoing hot-weather testing in Arizona, and while most of the shots show little more than swaths of black camo, the heat and wind worked away at the adhesive to reveal crisper lines, a swoopier roof, a more angled rear side window and some snazzy looking taillights.

VW is calling the revised Jetta its "New Compact Sedan" and the Jetta name is in no danger of being changed. Expect the 2011 Jetta to take aim at the Civic and Corolla with a significant drop in its base price when it goes on sale late next year.



Spy Shots: 2011 VW Jetta Sedan originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 31 Aug 2009 19:28:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Daily U-Turn: What you missed on 8.31.09



First Drive: 2010 Audi R8 V10 answers our power prayers
Audi addresses our singular gripe with the R8 by replacing the standard model's stock powerplant with the V10 from the Lamborghini Gallardo. Porsche 911 Turbo, M-B SL63 and (whoops) LP560-4, it's official: You're on notice.
VIDEO: Production Cadillac CTS Coupe breaks through in new 60-second spot
With the tagline "America, we have re-ignition," Cadillac is out to reintroduce itself to buyers. And the flagship model of GM's new ad campaign is the CTS Coupe.
Toyota accused of 'ruthless conspiracy' to conceal, destroy evidence by former attorney
Toyota looks to have a potential public-relations nightmare on its hands. According to reports, one of the company's former lawyers, Dimitrios P. Biller, has filed a federal racketeering suit against the Japanese automaker.
Other news of import

Daily U-Turn: What you missed on 8.31.09 originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 31 Aug 2009 19:20:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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C/D drills down to find out what goes into EPA fuel economy ratings

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2010 Toyota Prius - Click above for high-res image gallery

Ever wonder what actually goes into determining the rated fuel economy of a new car or truck? Anyone with a vehicle that's failed to live up to its EPA estimated figures would surely fit into that camp - especially if the car or truck were purchased in large part to its high mileage rating - and you can add our names to that list as well. As it turns out, the process is every bit as as complicated as we'd expect.

Car and Driver recently hung out at the EPA's testing facility near the Motor City, and some highly intriguing bits of information were gleaned. For instance, C/D says that just 15 percent of new cars get tested by the EPA each year for fuel efficiency, and the rest get their ratings from testing performed by the manufacturer using the government agency's guidelines. It's reportedly rare that the EPA's figures vary greatly from the numbers provided by the manufacturer, but if they do, discussions and negotiations ensue.

There are a total of five tests performed to measure expected fuel efficiency, some dating all the way back to the late Seventies. More recent protocols are a bit more complex and require specialized facilities that can cost up to $10 million dollars by EPA estimates. There's plenty more to the story, so click here to read the full four-page report. Hat tip to Julio!



[Source: Car and Driver]

C/D drills down to find out what goes into EPA fuel economy ratings originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 31 Aug 2009 19:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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REPORT: GP2 mechanic placed into coma after pitlane incident at Spa

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Serious injuries to the head temporarily left a mechanic in the GP2 series in a medically-induced coma following a pit-lane incident at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit this past weekend during a support race for the Belgian Grand Prix. The GP2 series is the second rung on the ladder below Formula One, and shares its calendar with F1's European races.

According to reports, an air gun left out of place in pit lane was caught by the wheel of Trident Racing's Ricardo Teixeira, tugging at the hose which toppled a metal beam onto the head of team mechanic Vasco Rossi. The mechanic was evacuated with serious - but not life-threatening - injuries to a nearby hospital where he was placed into a medically-induced coma, from which he has since reportedly emerged. We wish Vasco a full recovery.

[Source: Autosport | Image: Trident Racing]

REPORT: GP2 mechanic placed into coma after pitlane incident at Spa originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 31 Aug 2009 18:28:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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“I’ll have the 10W-30 burger, please” - Examining the car dealers as eatery trend

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A restaurant that has a few hot cars gathered round is one thing -- but a car dealership that opens a restaurant, where does that rank on the scale of ambiance? With recent trends, you could soon get a chance to decide sooner than you thought.

As our friends at The Detroit Bureau point out, California's Bistro33 at Rocklin Mercedes will be the next dining experience in a dealership. The cars don't mingle in the restaurant -- this isn't some trendy Vegas amusement. And this isn't just about having something to do while you wait for the mechanics to finish with your car. You actually go to a dealership to have your dinner. That means you can discuss APR after appetizers and sort out your warranty with a nice Napa red.

There isn't any reason a dealership can't also make a decent dinner. Galpin's Horseless Carriage has been open for 43 years for a menu full of good reasons. And if you have an Aston Martin, the fare in Galpin's Aston Martin club is worthy of both brands. It remains to be seen this trend catches on in more than a few niche markets, but until car sales rebound. this could be a way to get more foot traffic and a bit more income. And besides, there's nothing like an aged strip steak to make you hungry for a car.

[Source: The Detroit Bureau]

"I'll have the 10W-30 burger, please" - Examining the car dealers as eatery trend originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 31 Aug 2009 17:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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REPORT: Private Chinese investors sought to fund $6 billion auto plant in Mississippi

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Hybrid Kinetic Automotive Corp. rendering - click above to enlarge

The headline is attention-grabbing. A former Chinese auto executive is proposing a $6 billion plant in economically-distressed north Mississippi that will employ 25,000 people and produce one million cars a year.

Automotive News' story is both intriguing and complicated - and not just because three players are named Wang, one is named Yang - so buckle up for the short-and-sweet Autoblog version.

Yang Rong was once China's third-richest man as the CEO of Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd. But after some disagreements with a Chinese government official in 2002, Yang fled the country and settled in Los Angeles.

Cars are only one of the reasons Yang wants to build $6.5 billion plant in Mississippi (that's six times the cost of Toyota's Mississippi plant, by the way). Another is green cards. When Yang left China, he also left his fortune and has apparently been unable to recoup any of it. It's a scary scenario that many wealthy Chinese fear: upset the government, lose your money. But the U.S. government makes it easy for Chinese residents to both invest their cash in America, as well as move here. Invest a minimum of $500,000 in an economically distressed region of the U.S., creating at least 10 jobs, and you get permanent resident status.

Vincent Wang, an associate of Yang's, says Italdesign Giugiaro is designing the new venture's cars, and documents show Porsche AG providing "our car's engineering design." Giugiaro confirms it has talked with the group, Porsche essentially says it has no comment. Such a controversial car must be powered by something just as unusual, right? Oh, yeah. The CEO of the project, C.T. Wang, tells Automotive News, the cars will be "powered by a combination of gasoline, electric, hybrid and compressed-natural-gas powertrains."

Yang calls his project, Hybrid Kinetic Automotive Holdings, Ltd. One of Yang's former associates has split from the group and also plans to build an automotive plant. That company is now called GreenTree Automotive, after being forced to change its name from Hybrid Kinetic Automotive Corp. Yeah. 'Cause that would have just been too confusing.

And where in Mississippi would someone go to gamble $6.5 billion on an automotive plant? Tunica County, of course. Home to nine of the Hospitality State's approximately 30 casinos.

[Source: Automotive News - subs. req.]

REPORT: Private Chinese investors sought to fund $6 billion auto plant in Mississippi originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 31 Aug 2009 17:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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VIDEO: Don’t call it OCD: Dude builds 32-valve DOHC V8 out of Legos

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32-Valve, DOHC Lego V8 - click above image to watch the video

For those about to rock, we salute you, of course. And for those of you with four months of free time, seventeen suitcases full of Lego bricks and a masters in mechanical engineering, we'll totally give you props if - and only if - you come up with something as mind bending as this.

You are looking at a "working" Lego V8 engine. And the details are stunning. Pistons pump, valves open and close, rocker arms rock, the fly wheel spins -- there's even two bundle'o'snakes headers that flow into twin collectors, though we don't like how they get reduced and choked. But hey, if we really don't like it, we can build our own - with straight pipes! Also, we love the throttle bodies (made from radar disks) - they're a wonderful touch. Full video of running engine doing its thing after the jump. And we expect a user-submitted Jaguar V-12 by Christmas, so hop to it, readers.


Gallery: Lego V8

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[Source: Hacked Gadgets]

Continue reading VIDEO: Don't call it OCD: Dude builds 32-valve DOHC V8 out of Legos

VIDEO: Don't call it OCD: Dude builds 32-valve DOHC V8 out of Legos originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 31 Aug 2009 16:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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WreckedExotics taking bets on first Ferrari 458 Italia crash

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2010 Ferrari 458 Italia - click above image for high-res gallery

Would you like to win $500? Are you a little bit psychic? Does the schadenfreude of rich suckers smashing up their exotic rides run a sweet, happy little chill down your spine? Then Wrecked Exotics has a contest for you! The website wants to know when you think they'll find proof of the first Ferrari 458 Italia crash. To wit: "The Ferrari F430, predecessor to the F458, has been involved in 96 documented crashes since 2004. The Ferrari 360 (predecessor to the F430) has been involved in 403 documented crashes since 1999."

Aside from our answer of "who cares?" the person prognostic enough to guess the date closest to the first 458 Italia crash wins $500, as well as the honor and fame that goes along with participating in the world's first known automotive death pool. Now, of course, we'll be seeing the newest mid-engine Ferrari in about two weeks time at the Frankfurt Motor Show, but as Wrecked Exotics points out, "The Ferrari F458 goes on sale summer 2010 but Ferrari employees will be test driving the car long before then. A crash can happen any time, including BEFORE the launch date."



[Source: Wrecked Exotics]

WreckedExotics taking bets on first Ferrari 458 Italia crash originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 31 Aug 2009 16:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Dunkel Industries creates ultimate off-road RV

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2009 Dunkel Industries RV - Click above for high-res image gallery

As they sat looking over the horizon, they realized they had achieved their dream. The guys from Dunkel Industries had driven themselves to a remote spot where they could just relax and enjoy nature at its tranquil best. What made the journey extra special was that they had gotten there in their very own Dunkel Industries Luxury 4x4. Now, "Luxury 4X4" might have some of you thinking Land Rover or Porsche Cayenne. If that's what you're picturing, then all we can say is "Think bigger." Much bigger. Like, so-big-we-can't-get-it-into-the-frame bigger. The Dunkel version of a Luxury 4X4 starts with a Ford F-650 commercial chassis and winds up as the ultimate off-road recreational vehicle.

As their website puts it, Dunkel industries was built on the childhood dream of never having to stop because the trail was 'more than the RV could handle.' So they created a vehicle with "unlimited versatility" that utilizes a Fabco military-grade 4x4 system, capable of driving the luxurious "custom wood, leather and Fiberglass interior" to places no RV dares to go. And in case you want to bring some smaller toys along with you into the wilderness, the bed is big enough to haul a car. That bed also articulates to serve as a ramp to load dirtbikes or ATVs onto the roof. No trailer necessary and no 55-mph limitations for this beast.

There's a full list of the vehicle's features after the jump, but some of the highlights include a firewood box, a shower, and the camp seating built into the running boards and storage bins all around the truck's perimeter. The ATVs on the roof are a definite crowd-pleaser as well. We're not sure how much this project cost the Dunkel Bros. or if they are going to make them available to the public, but we do know that this would make the perfect Autoblog mobile HQ for any automotive event from Pebble Beach to the Baja 1000. Check out the Dunkel Industries website for additional photos and information, follow the jump for the build sheet and check out our own gallery below.



Photos copyright (C)2009 Frank Filipponio / Weblogs, Inc.

Continue reading Dunkel Industries creates ultimate off-road RV

Dunkel Industries creates ultimate off-road RV originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 31 Aug 2009 15:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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