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Posted on October 29, 2014 by Noah Joseph
The striking new concept vehicle seen above is called the FCC4, which stands for Fiat Concept Car... with, um, four doors. We're not quite sure what else to call it, because the Fiat Design Center Latam (as in, Latin America) has apparently tried to transcend market segments and traditional bodystyles as much as possible. It's sort of like a four-door coupe, riding high on a jacked-up suspension, with what looks at first like a pickup bed but is actually covered by a sloping glass fastback.
And we thought the Strada was weird.
This Sao Paulo Motor Show showcar is the kind of thing that makes the BMW X6 look positively conventional. Only BMW actually, you know... built theirs and put it on the market. And then it built another. The FCC4 is also longer than an X6, and less than two inches smaller in both width and height. All that weirdness is done up in metallic blue with LED lighting and a face that looks like someone gave the Range Rover Evoque a fat lip.
Since the gradual takeover of and eventual merger with Chrysler, Fiat has become an American automaker as much as it is an Italian one. You might say the inverse is true of Chrysler as well. But long before the courtship between Turin and Auburn Hills kicked off, Fiat was making more vehicles in Brazil than it was anywhere else outside of Italy. That makes the Sao Paulo Motor Show a vital stage for the increasingly global automaker, and it's not missing the opportunity to showcase its wares, from this brave new concept to various versions of the 500, Panda, Punto and Bravo.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Noah Joseph
Chevrolet has rolled in to Sao Paulo this year with not one, not two, but four new concept cars. Only by concept cars, in this case we mean concept versions of existing production models.
Arguably the most exciting among them is the Onix Track Day concept. It's based on the Onix hatchback which GM offers exclusively in Latin America (not to be confused with the Peugeot Onyx concept). This Onix has been upgraded with a full aero kit, enhanced interior equipment and a 1.8-liter Ecotec engine with optimized ECU and stainless steel exhaust to churn out over 150 horsepower - which may not seem like much, but is far more than the hundred-odd hp offered in stock trim. It's joined by a second version called the Onix Effect that also gets a sporty (if more restrained) look.
Alongside the pair of Onix concepts, Chevy is also showcasing a pickup called the S-10 High Country that applies a similar treatment available on the larger Silverado High Country but to the overseas Colorado (which carries the old S-10 moniker in South America). Finally there's a subtly upgraded version of the Cobalt sedan on show as well, and you can scope out images of all four in the gallery above along with the original and translated press releases below.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Chris Bruce
Given its months of testing, the eventual launch of the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Shooting Brake is a bit of a foregone conclusion at this point. Until now we haven't actually seen its hatchback rear undisguised, but the latest spy shots have given us a pretty certain idea of the design back there (right).
According to our spies, these practically uncamouflaged photos come from the Shooting Brake's testing on the Autobahn. While there is some masking around the rear, it isn't hiding much. You can clearly see the outline of the hatch's lines, and it looks like quite a svelte, little wagon.
Unfortunately, this tester got away before the spies snapped pictures of the front. C'est la vie. They've seen it so many times that they cobbled together renders of what the production version and AMG variant (above) could look like.
The AMG version has already been spotted testing and looked basically identical to this render, minus the cladding. Mechanically, expect all of the tricks from the high-performance sedan with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder putting down 355 horsepower and routing power to all four wheels.
Unfortunately, it's still not known whether Mercedes is going to sell the wagon on North American shores. Not only could the shooting brake potentially steal sales from the GLA-Class compact crossover, but the automaker is barely keeping up with CLA supply as it is. The company's Kecskemét, Hungary, factory is running three shifts to keep up, and Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche claims Merc could sell twice as many as first expected.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Brandon Turkus
Barely three weeks ago, Renault-owned Romanian automaker Dacia showed off a pickup-bodied version of its Duster SUV. A special job for Romania's OMV Petrom Group, the Duster pickup isn't available to the European public. The new Duster Oroch, however, could be.
The design study, destined for the Sao Paulo Motor Show and styled by Renault's Latin American design studios, the Duster Oroch wears some traditional concept car tinsel. Below the red accents, satin-white finish, panoramic glass roof and plethora of kite-surfing boards, the Oroch differs from the OMV Petrom pickup by retaining the standard Duster's four-door setup.
"The Renault Duster Oroch show car boasts the energetic, robust stance that appeals to customers. It's the work of our Sao Paulo design centre and packs an emotional punch which is characteristic of design in Latin America," Renault design boss Laurens van den Acker said in a statement. "While it takes its inspiration from the Duster, itself a robust vehicle with an assertive personality, our local design team has delivered a fresh interpretation of the model in the form of this show car."
Scroll down for the press release from Renault and then take a closer look at the new concept in our gallery.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Noah Joseph
Between GM's ignition switches and Takata's airbags, it's been a big year for recalls, but they keep rolling in. The latest comes from Chrysler, which has announced a pair of recalls for certain heavy-duty pickups and SUVs.
The first issue revolves around the 6.7-liter Cummins diesel engine available in the 2010-2014 Ram HD trucks, including 2500 and 3500 series pickups as well as 4500 and 5500 series chassis cabs. In the affected units, "a terminal connector near the fuel heater may be subject to friction-induced corrosion," according to the first of the two announcements from Chrysler below.
The problem could result in overheating and fuel leakage. Chrysler launched its investigation following cases of overheating, none of which actually started a fire, much less an injury or accident. As a precautionary measure, however, Chrysler is instructing service technicians to replace the terminals on an estimated 381,876 Ram units around the world - the vast majority of those (314,704) registered in the US, another 59,432 in Canada, 1,803 in Mexico and 5,937 abroad.
The second recall involves the 2014 Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee. In the affected units, Chrysler has found that a debris cover can disrupt a circuit board's functioning and disable the vehicle's stability control system. Chrysler reports that it isn't aware of any injuries or accidents resulting from this issue, either, but to fix the problem, Chrysler technicians need only upgrade the software. This recall affects 184,186 units globally - 132,223 in the US, 8,871 in Canada, 4,742 in Mexico and a further 38,350 abroad.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Noah Joseph
Geographic or regional recalls - the practice of recalling vehicles based on their geographic location - may seem to make sense. After all, why recall a corrosion-prone spare tire carrier (as Toyota did in 2010 and 2012) in areas where rust isn't a major factor, or humidity-prone airbags (as per the Takata case) in dry climates? But the latest analysis suggests that the practice could be dangerously flawed.
Speaking with safety experts and congressional advocates, TheDetroitBureau.com notes that the Takata airbag issue does not necessarily only affect vehicles located in states with high levels of humidity on which the massive recall campaign has focused. The problem in this case revolves around is the essential mobility of automobiles. For one thing, owners of vehicles registered in northern states (like "snowbirds" based in the northeast but spending the winter in Florida) that have not been the focus of the recall may spend extended periods of time in southern states that are, but would be left outside the geographic region addressed by the recall. For another, used vehicles are often shifted from one part of the country to another, potentially transcending such regional lines.
While the high-profile case of Hien Tran - who was apparently killed by shrapnel from the faulty airbag in her Honda Accord in Orlando, FL - may make the case for regional recalls, the three other known fatalities resulting from the problematic airbags were registered in Oklahoma, Virginia and California. Those are all states which aren't particularly humid and were thus left outside the scope of the regional recall.
Issues like these have prompted lawmakers including Senators Edward Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthan (D-CT) to call for new safety regulations that would eliminate the practice of geographic recalls. "To issue a selective geographic recall is absolutely irresponsible and reprehensible when people living in other states may be equally at risk," Sen. Blumenthal said in an interview with the Bureau.
For our part, we can definitely see the point in limiting the practice of regional recalls. But in the case of the Takata debacle, where automakers lack the spare parts to enact the recall on millions of vehicles across the country at once, perhaps the best approach would be to start in those states with high levels of humidity and gradually work outwards to encompass all vehicles fitted with the troublesome equipment, regardless of where they're registered.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on October 28, 2014 by Brandon Turkus
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced that it's looking into Chrysler Group's handling of a pair of recalls affecting roughly one million Ram pickup trucks. Reuters is reporting that the regulatory agency is focusing on the availability (or lack thereof) of parts and "poor communications" from the automaker in its investigation.
"Customers have been advised in accordance with the regulations governing recalls," Chrysler spokesman Eric Mayne told Reuters via email. "We are continually replenishing our supply of replacement parts. Chrysler Group regrets any inconvenience our customers may have experienced."
NHTSA disagrees, arguing that the recalls, which affect 972,000 trucks from 2003 to 2012, are being delayed by the lack of parts.
"We have concerns with the administration and execution of these safety recalls and accordingly have opened an investigation to collect further information from Chrysler about the details of administration and execution of these campaigns and the logic that supports the strategies used," NHTSA wrote in a letter to Chrysler earlier this month, Reuters reports.
Over 1,000 consumers complained to NHTSA, prompting the probe, according to documents acquired by Reuters. Customers claimed that they attempted to have the recall work performed after Chrysler announced repairs would begin in January, only to be told by dealers it could take months for parts to become available.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Noah Joseph
When the doors open at the LA Auto Show in a few weeks, Scion will be on hand to showcase its new iM Concept. But considering what little Toyota's youthful brand has revealed about the concept so far, it's led to rampant speculation. And the prevailing wisdom seems to point towards a production iM arriving as a Scion-badged version of the Toyota Auris.
For those unfamiliar, the Auris is to European (and other) markets essentially what the Matrix is (was?) to ours: a hatchback version of the Corolla. The model line was first introduced in 2006, looking in its first iteration like an overgrown version of the contemporary second-gen Yaris, and was replaced with the current model in 2012. It's available as a five-door hatch or wagon, with a range of gasoline, diesel and hybrid powertrains available.
If the rumors - spurred by the similarity of the iM concept's nose depicted in the teasers - prove accurate, and public reception to the idea ends up spurring Toyota to put it into action, it wouldn't be the first overseas Toyota brought over as a Scion. The Scion iQ was sold as the Toyota iQ overseas years before it arrived here.
Toyota and Scion are not, of course, the only automakers using such an arrangement to bring overseas models to the North American market in parallel to its US ones. Honda used the Acura brand to market the Euro-spec Accord as the TSX in America, General Motors has been doing the same for years with Opel offerings rebadged first as Saturn products and now as Buick models, and Chrysler markets Fiat Professional vans in America under the Ram nameplate.
The iM would likely replace the aging xB as part of a near complete overhaul of the Scion lineup that could bring Toyota's version of the new Mexican-built Mazda2 as successor to the slow-selling iQ.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Noah Joseph
Vsport versions of the CTS and XTS sedans are all well and good, but what Cadillac enthusiasts have really been looking forward to is the arrival of the next full-on V model. And here we have it.
Spied in the nude during an apparent photo shoot ahead of its anticipated debut at the fast-approaching Los Angeles Auto Show, the upcoming new Cadillac ATS-V Coupe is set to pick up where the old CTS-V left off, only in a more compact form. Unlike previous spy shots of heavily disguised prototypes, this final version is showing a chrome-framed mesh grille, along with a deep lower air dam with what looks to be a carbon-fiber front splitter. That bulging hood with heat extractor vents is tipped to be packing a twin-turbo V6 engine, breathing out of quad exhaust tips.
The aggressive aero kit also encompasses side skirts, a reshaped rear bumper and a lip spoiler on the truck, while the upgraded rolling stock wears serious low-profile rubber and the brakes appear to be carbon-ceramic units. Peer through the window and you can even see the sport bucket seats with slots for racing harnesses. All of which suggests a serious American challenger to the BMW M4 and its ilk, and we're looking forward to seeing the vehicle in the metal in LA next month.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Brandon Turkus
Toyota has released the first images of its brigade of concepts for the 2014 SEMA Show, introducing a trio of TRD-fettled off-roaders, a pair of DUB-inspired models, a race-ready pickup and a Sienna minivan with 48 inches worth of subwoofers.
Four of the vehicles being shown by Toyota will take part in the grueling Baja 1000 off-road race. The star of that effort will be a race-prepared Tundra, which will actually be competing from November 12 to 16 in the 47th running of the desert race. It'll be supported by a trio of vehicles, which mimics Toyota's TRD Pro Series production vehicles, with the 4Runner, Tacoma and Tundra all acting as support vehicles.
Each of these vehicles has been fabricated by the off-road specialists at N-Fab and comes loaded down with communications and guidance equipment, additional lights and off-road body modifications.
For softer trails, Toyota will introduce modified examples of its refreshed Sienna minivan and Yaris subcompact. Styled by DUB, the Yaris' headlines include 20-inch Dropstars wheels on a custom, lowered suspension. A big-brake kit from TRD complete with StopTech rotors rounds out the chassis changes. Aesthetic tweaks include Sparco racing seats, carbon-fiber interior bits matte white pearl paint and a custom widebody kit.
A similar treatment has been applied to the Sienna, which is home to an eye-catching quartet of 22-inch wheels. Like the Yaris, the minivan benefits from a lowered ride height and larger brakes. The seats feature custom black-and-white leather upholstery, four subwoofers, eight speakers and two amps, all from DUB. The exterior has a widebody kit, Galaxy Grey paint and tinted windows.
Finally, audiophiles will flock to the West Coast Customs-built Sienna:Remix and its 48 inches of subwoofers and 156 inches of speakers. Oh, and those are just on the outside of the van. Power is fed to this wild system by five high-powered amps while a DJ can spin in the plug-and-play booth. Two 40-inch monitors provide some visual panache, spicing up the mostly production Sienna exterior. A set of Giovanna mesh wheels are the most notable exterior change.
Scroll down for the press from Toyota, and then stay tuned for our full recap of these new models from the floor of the SEMA show.Permalink | Email this | Comments