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Posted on March 6, 2014 by Chris Bruce
General Motors' problems with its recall of roughly 1.6-million vehicles continue to mount. Now that it has emerged that GM knew about the problem since at least 2004 but waited to recall vehicles until February 2014, regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have begun a much deeper investigation. NHTSA has sent a 27-page survey to GM that includes 107 questions about the timeline of what led up to the recall, and it has until April 3 to reply.
This isn't a simple, multiple-choice test. Automotive News believes that hundreds of pages could be required to answer some of the queries. NHTSA says that it is still investigating GM's response to the recall. "We are a data-driven organization, and we will take whatever action is appropriate based on where our findings lead us," said NHTSA in a statement on its website. If found liable, the automaker could face a fine as high as $35 million and even possible criminal charges, according to Bloomberg.
NHTSA's questions include a detailed explanation of GM's examination process; how it will improve the process; why a planned redesign of the cars' key in 2005 wasn't implemented; and specific data on each complaint it received. According to Bloomberg, NHTSA also has records that show the company had a meeting with regulators to discuss the airbag failure in a Chevrolet Cobalt in 2007.
New GM CEO Mary Barra has also hired an outside law firm to conduct an independent investigation about what happened. It will include questioning company employees who were involved with the process from the start. The recall stems from faulty ignition switches that shut off the car while driving, and if it occurs the airbags deactivate. Thirteen deaths and 23 crashes have been caused by the problem, according to Bloomberg. If you would like to peruse NHTSA's entire questionnaire for GM, it can be viewed here.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Chris Bruce
We are used to seeing full vehicles being unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, or at least concepts that presage a future model, but the German engineering group EDAG stripped things down even further to imagine a future car cockpit. Really, it's a way for the company to show off its next-generation manufacturing technology that allows it to make parts in a single production process.
The company says that a turtle's skeleton inspired the cockpit's design (which is a bit morbid), and that it features a protective shell on the outside to support the fragile parts inside. It's made using a technique called fused deposition modeling, which is similar to the process used in 3D printing but on a much bigger scale. In the case of the Genesis, robots laid down layer after layer of thermoplastic to produce the complex shape. EDAG says that it could also be done with carbon fiber as well to offer strength and lightness.
The company admits that this technology is still in its infancy, and we are still far away from large-scale industrial production of components like this. However, it is technically possible. It believes that fused deposition modeling could revolutionize the auto industry by allowing new, stronger designs. The Genesis isn't a car today, but it previews how they may be built tomorrow. Have a slightly more dynamic look at the concept in the video, below.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Chris Bruce
In what could be called a case of carma, the Chinese plastic supplier that forced Aston Martin to recall about 75 percent of its production since 2007 now says that it has lost about most of its customers and is facing financial ruin. Shenzhen Kexiang Mould Tool Co. produced the accelerator pedal arms for most Aston Martin models out of a counterfeit plastic and may have to close its factory due to the scandal.
Shenzhen Kexiang claims no wrongdoing in the affair, saying the whole matter was caused by Aston Martin not fully understanding its supply chain. Its general manager Zhang Zhi Ang told Automotive News: "This whole situation is caused by Aston Martin." According to the automaker, its supplier, Fast Forward Tooling (HK) of Hong Kong, hired the molder as a sub-contractor to supply the part. Initially, Shenzhen Kexiang claimed to have never been contracted by the Hong Kong company, but later admitted that it wasn't sure if it made the parts because it worked for so many contractors, according to Automotive News.
Aston Martin found that the accelerator arms were produced from a counterfeit form of the DuPont plastic that it had requested for its sports cars. Initially the recall covered 689 2012-2013 vehicles but further research indicated that it went back as far as November 2007 for some models. Aston Martin says it will replace the throttle assemblies on the affected vehicles and that there have been no reported accidents or injuries caused by the counterfeit plastic.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Seyth Miersma
If there're features that have great potential to sell the public at large on the concept of self-driving cars, we're guessing that cozy, rear-facing seats and a gigantic in-car 4K television are high on the list. If you've heard of the Swiss company Rinspeed, you almost certainly associate it with outlandish concept cars, and this XchangE autonomous EV fits that description, while still providing insight into a seemingly plausible future.
Always a highlight of the Geneva Motor Show, this year's Rinspeed concept has transformed a Tesla Model S into a self-piloting, business class, mobility pod. Or something very like that. Sure, you can drive the XchangE for yourself if you like, but then you'd miss out using the all-new, HTML5-based infotainment platform or the aforementioned mobile movie theatre, which is operable via gesture controls. No more losing the remote down the seat crack for you.
Beyond the show car "wow factor" items like the striking interior treatment and green-on-yellow paint scheme, it is interesting to see that Rinspeed has taken electronic security very seriously for the concept car. The infotainment platform is said to be bolstered against hacker attacks, the LTE wireless system offers secure data transmission, and the car systems themselves use RFID tech to identify authorized drivers. Considering the legitimate concerns associated with autonomous cars in a fully computerized, connected environment, high-security while on the motorway might be the biggest luxury of all.
Find the usual complement of video, press release and official photos below and see our live gallery of the XchangE concept, above.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Noah Joseph
Of all the brands under the Volkswagen Group umbrella, Škoda is not the one we'd most associate with cutting-edge design. Its hatchbacks and sedans tend to be styled rather conservatively to cater to tastes that would be turned off by the flash of a Seat or even a VW. But that changes here and now at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show with the reveal of the VisionC.
Looking like a Czech take on an Audi A7, the VisionC concept rides on the same MQB platform as the Octavia, the Golf, the Leon and the A3. But where those vehicles all adopt rather conventional forms (or rooflines, anyway), the VisionC cuts a more dashing profile, rendered in the same shade of Metallic Kermit you might see on a Škoda rally car.
Despite the rakish good looks, punctuated by hyper-modern angular lighting, the VisionC packs a 1.4-liter turbo four with only 109 horsepower to offer, but offers flex-fuel capabilities to burn either gasoline or compressed natural gas. In other words, it's green in more ways than one, and if this foreshadows the future of Škoda design, you just might find us standing on the shore gazing longingly across the Atlantic and hoping for its arrival.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Chris Bruce
Korean automaker SsangYong used to have a reputation of building some of the least attractive cars in the world, but if its new XLV concept at the Geneva Motor Show is any indication, it may be putting that reputation behind it. That isn't saying that the crossover is a beauty, but it certainly shows progress.
SsangYong says that XLV stands for "eXciting smart Lifestyle Vehicle," and the styling is covered in vast expanses of relatively flat, monolithic panels. The front features a tall grille with LED headlights. The blacked-out roof appears almost invisible because it sits on a super-skinny black A-pillar and no B-pillar. All the visual support comes from the thick rear pillar. The suicide doors open wide and make it easy to peer inside, but it probably wouldn't work on a production model. The roof is mostly made from a piece of glass that can be switched from transparent to opaque electronically. Inside, the XLV seats seven in three rows, but the rear center seat can slide forward and back between the second and third rows depending on what is needed.
The concept is propelled by a 1.6-liter diesel engine with a 13-horsepower (10-kW) electric motor and 500-Watt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. The company did not say how much power the full system produces but claims the hybrid system reduces emissions by 10 percent.
The XLV is just a concept for now, but SsangYong says a vehicle like it will "underpin its future growth." The Korean company has an eye towards eventually launching in the US, and it could do worse than a model like this to kick off.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Chris Paukert
I've been attending the Geneva Motor Show for the better part of a decade, and it's become my favorite stop on the entire show circuit, in large part because of all the exotic automakers, coachbuilders and green startups. I also love the Palexpo's consistently mind-bending displays of tuners, who typically work exclusively on six-figure automobiles. Some offer subtle improvements and personalization programs, but most seem hellbent on being more outlandish and bizarre than the next, a room full of millionaire class clowns. More often than not, I spy something and think to myself "What kind of Nimrod would do that to a perfectly good ____ ?" This year, that rhetorical question is in fact a self-answering one.
The jokes, they write themselves.
But seriously, if you're wondering who would take a perfectly lovely Ferrari 458 Italia or a Lamborghini Aventador and affix a wild body kit of dubious aerodynamic and aesthetic merit at great extra cost (both to the car's MSRP and to its assuredly grenaded resale value), the answer could very well be Nimrod Elite Tuning, a newer high-end restyling house out of Slovakia. That last locational tidbit might also explain the company's unusual name, which is likely a nod to a mighty Biblical hunter (descendant of Ham and a king of Shinar, Nimrod is mentioned in Genesis and Chronicles) and not meant to be taken as a synonym for "idiot" or "moron."
In any case, not much information is available on these two Nimrods, but the white and red-trimmed 458 is the Katyusha, and it appears to be an homage to the ultra-rare Ferrari FXX track car. The Aventador-based model, dubbed Avanti Rosso, channels a bit of Lamborghini's own Sesto Elemento. Sadly, there were no Nimrod representatives on hand who were able to offer further details, and the company's official website descriptions are of little help. We've got an inquiry in and will let you know if/when we learn more. In the meantime, check out our galleries and let us know what you think of these aftermarket specials in Comments.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on March 5, 2014 by Seyth Miersma
The Quant e-Sportlimousine that you see here is just the kind of fascinating concept car that the Geneva Motor Show is known for offering up. The product of an energy company called nanoFLOWCELL AG based in Liechtenstein - with help at various points along the way from Koenigsegg and Bosch - the Quant promises a very advanced battery pack to power the electric drivetrain inside of this unmissable bodywork.
Details from the company website regarding the e-Sportslimousine are sparse and indecipherable in equal part, but the basics are nevertheless intriguing. The car is powered by a "flow battery" - specifically the nanoFlOWCELL from the eponymous parent company - which uses tanks of negatively and positively charged electrolyte solutions, pumped into and through a central cell stack. We've embedded a video after the jump to explain the processes behind the flow battery in greater detail, but the long and short of it is a system that is said to produce a nominal voltage of 600 volts, and a nominal current of 50 amps. Fed to four, three-phase induction motors, that juice nets a peak power output of 680 kW (912 horsepower) to all four wheels, with an "operating power" of 480 kW (643 hp).
Predicted performance from the e-Sportslimousine concept is impressive in turn, with the company calling out sprint of just 2.8 seconds from 0 to 62 miles per hour, with a top speed approaching 236 mph. All that, and the range is said to be between about 250 to 370 miles between charges. The company makes note that all of these figures have been simulated in a laboratory, so we wouldn't recommend selling off your Model S just yet. NanoFLOWCELL does say that the vehicle "is neither a show car, nor a concept car" and has been "designed from the ground up to meet all homologation requirements."
Predicted performance is just 2.8 seconds to go from 0 to 62 mph, with a top speed approaching 236 mph.
As for the rest of the car, it's clear by the name that Quant would like onlookers to be impressed by the roomy seating accommodation made for four passengers, with what appears to be some high-zoot trimming. Acres of bent-wood trim can be seen, along with yard after yard of leather and Alcantara, and enough LEDs to make an Audi blush. Have a closer look for your self in our galleries, or dip into the slightly sketchy press materials we've assembled and nanoFLOWCELL press release, below.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Chris Bruce
The tuners at Hamann have gotten their hands on the Lamborghini Aventador and are offering a suite of stealthy upgrades and a boost in power for buyers who don't think Lambo's top model is already enough. The company wants to create a special model with "uniqueness in every way."
The Limited wears a two-tone body kit in Stealth Grey matte paint with Poison Green trim. Hamann adds carbon fiber pieces with new air vent inserts at the front, a two-piece front spoiler and side skirts. The rear receives carbon fiber replacements for the diffuser, engine air intake, spoiler and apron. It is also offering two different sport exhausts - a standard version and a race version... complete with backfire baked in. Finally, the custom Lamborghini is shod with forged, aluminum wheels that are 20 inches in the front and 21 inches in the rear. The interior remains basically stock except for being covered in green leather and contrasting black with green stitching.
Hamann isn't just about style. It is also giving the Limited a boost in performance to 760 horsepower and 542 pound-feet thanks to a few tweaks of the Aventador's software. It seems that if Lamborghini isn't giving buyers enough, then Hamann is happy to take things to the extreme at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show. Feel free to read more below.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Seyth Miersma
You might think that bombing around in a V12, 800-horsepower, 1,047-pound-feet of torque, triple-black German mega-SUV - both on paved roads and over broken ground - would be more than enough entertainment for your average gazillionare. As it turns out, or at least as the Brabus G800 iBusiness would suggest, even all of that gets a little dry if you can't also check your email or play a spot of Minecraft.
Well known for tuning Mercedes-Benz vehicles within an inch of their proverbial lives, Brabus has set about waving its bonkers wand on the M-B G65; this time with a notion to add full connectivity to the mix. While other Brabus versions have offered similar power and torque outputs, none that we recall have also come with a baked-in Apple Mini computer, a 15.6-inch LCD monitor, charging ports for your iPad and your iPod and a keyboard and mouse.
Connected up to the vehicle's onboard electronics system, an iPad Mini can be used to control vehicle functions while also surfing the web via an integrated high-speed modem and WLAN. Brabus has even spliced an Apple TV in with the more common DVD player, meaning occupants can watch Internet television while moving from 0 to 62 miles per hour in just 4.2 seconds. We're not certain how well car-based WiFi works at 155 mph, but we're more than willing to accept a test drive to find out.
Beyond all the Apple gear - and, oh yeah, there's a refrigerator back there too - the iBusiness offers your run-of-the-mill Brabus insanity: 23-inch wheels, a massively pumped-up body kit, a Bilstein ride-controlled suspension and carbon fiber as far as the eye can see. The combination of tech and grunt is powerful enough that Brabus tells us in the press release below that the car "literally knows no limits," which we suppose is technically true, unless the computers have made the truck self aware... you've all seen Lawnmower Man.Permalink | Email this | Comments