ಸೋಮವಾರ, ಫೆಬ್ರವರಿ 28, 2011

Xenatec reveals Maybach Cruiserio Coupe

Maybach Cruiserio Coupe

Xenatec is using the Geneva Motor Show to unveil its one-off Cruiserio Coupe, a customer-ordered hyper-luxury car based on the Maybach 57S. The coupe was designed by Fredrik Burchhardt to a customer's exact specs, then hand-built by the Xenatec team.

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ಬುಧವಾರ, ಫೆಬ್ರವರಿ 23, 2011

Jaguar's 550 hp XKR-S super coupe

jaguar kkr s

We've heard rumblings of a more-powerful XKR. We saw spy shots of the rumored two-door as it blew through the English countryside wearing a dash of camouflage. And now it's official: Jaguar is bringing a more powerful XKR to the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, and goes by the name XKR-S.

ಸೋಮವಾರ, ಫೆಬ್ರವರಿ 21, 2011

Yale Center: Ethanol Mandate Raising Global Food Prices

From the YaleGlobal Online Magazine: a short piece on global food price factors.  Quote (emphasis mine):

Third, the US ethanol subsidy diverted more than 100 million metric tons of corn into ethanol last year. This did little to reduce global warming, and made basic grains and meat more expensive for most people in the world. Nearly a third of US corn is now used for fuel. If the Senate lowered the US deficit by reducing the tax break on ethanol, corn prices would drop and China's increased consumption would easily be accommodated. Since there was a recent decision to increase the amount of ethanol in gasoline, this problem will likely intensify. A move to cellulose-based ethanol would be helpful. Land released from corn could be used for soybeans and reduce prices for several crops.

I did not realize that 1/3 of our corn production is going into ethanol.  And that is at an average mix of only about 10% (since E85 is not widely available and consumed)

ಭಾನುವಾರ, ಫೆಬ್ರವರಿ 20, 2011

Wiesmann's new Spyder model for Geneva

Wiesmann MF4 Roadster

Niche manufacturers rarely offer more than one model line. In Wiesmann's case, that line consists of the GT, with its various BMW-sourced propulsion options, and its Roadster counterpart. Like the German car maker Gumpert, Wiesmann will move into Geneva with the the Weismann Spyder, a new model for our consideration.

ಶುಕ್ರವಾರ, ಫೆಬ್ರವರಿ 18, 2011

Ferrari 458 Italia - 2011 Robb Report Car of the Year

ferrari 458 italia

Motor Trend may prefer the Chevrolet Volt, but the well-heeled readers of the Robb Report have a considerably different set of priorities when it comes to picking the best of the best. That's why the luxury magazine has decided to name the Ferrari 458 Italia as its Car of the Year.

The 458 scores high marks for its exterior design, interior materials and overall performance, and the Prancing Horse beat out thirteen other vehicles for the award. The stunning Italian sports car topped the Audi R8 V10 Spyder, Porsche 911 Turbo S, Aston Martin V12 Vantage, Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG, Bentley Mulsanne, Maserati GranTurismo Convertible, Audi A8L, Aston Martin Rapide, BMW Alpina B7, Rolls-Royce Ghost, Jaguar XJ Supersport, Cadillac CTS-V Coupe, and Lotus Evora.

ಗುರುವಾರ, ಫೆಬ್ರವರಿ 17, 2011

Mahindra MPG Fail

If you have been following the sorry saga of Mahindra's attempt to import Indian built compact diesel pickups into the U.S., here's more bad news.  The EPA mileage rating of the crew cab automatic has come in at 19/21 MPG.  Compare this with a Ford Ranger 4x2 with a 4.0L V6, which gets 15/21 MPG, or a Nissan Frontier with a 4.0L v6 at 15/19 MPG.  

So where is the reason to buy?  If people are going to give up refinement, possibly reliability, and comfort to buy a Mahindra truck, the selling point must be the utility of the small diesel engine.  If the diesel isn't clearly superior for fuel economy, then is the trade-off worth it?

ಬುಧವಾರ, ಫೆಬ್ರವರಿ 16, 2011

Porsche to hire 1,000 employees

Porsche Gemballa Mirage

Porsche is planning to double its sales to about 200,000 per year with the help of more money and manpower. The German automaker is planning to hire 1,000 employees in which half of them will be building the company's forthcoming small crossover under the working name 'Cajun,' while the other half will be developing new vehicles. If the sales target are met, they would add another 500 employees by 2018.

Porsche would also expand its lineup from four to seven models to reach its sales goals, while also forking over up to 750 million Euro to upgrade its Leipzig factory. The latter is believed to be the main candidate to build the Cajun when production begins in 2013.

ಭಾನುವಾರ, ಫೆಬ್ರವರಿ 13, 2011

Audi struggles to meet buyers demand

2012 Audi A6

The Volkswagen Group wants to reach the number one in global sales and profits. In order to achieve it, Volkswagen has to increase its production of Audi. Audi has been struggling to meet the demand for A3 and A6 and hence buyers have been waiting for 3 to 4 months to take delivery.

Though the waiting times are longer, car buyers are not willing to leave Audi and choose BMW and Mercedes-Benz. All these three automakers have reported record sales in January and the waiting times are much longer for vehicles like BMW X3.

While all these three auto makers are struggling to meet the demand, Audi is in the toughest spot with wait times up to 2 months longer than its competitors. Since Audi contributes 47 percent of VW's profits, Volkswagen group should address this problem in a timely manner.

ಗುರುವಾರ, ಫೆಬ್ರವರಿ 10, 2011

Nice T-shirt

Nice T-shirt, for a DUI arrest!

2012 Dodge Charger SRT8

2012 Dodge Charger SRT8

The new 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8 holds a 6.4-liter HEMI V8 putting out 465 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque will find a welcome bay in the garages, and this Charger is no exception. The five-speed automatic is a bit of a disappointment in this day and age, but something tells us a few 12-second trips down the good ol' 1320 ought to ease that bit of pain, as would an autobahn blast at the Charger SRT8's 175 miles per hour top speed.

ಬುಧವಾರ, ಫೆಬ್ರವರಿ 9, 2011

NASA on Toyota: Tin Whiskers May Be An Issue

The headline for the NHTSA/NASA report on the Toyota unintended acceleration, as widely reported, was that Toyota's electronics were not at fault, because the overwhelming evidence was that people were either pressing the wrong pedal, or the pedal was entrapped/stuck.

NASA evaluated Toyota's diagnostic strategy, and as I blogged about before, found that the only way to have an undetected failure with a runaway throttle would be a very specific mutli-point failure, virtually impossible in the real world.  This was professor Gilbert's trick, which I covered here

However, buried in the NASA report (here) was one interesting find.  One customer returned pedal, while it did not cause unintended acceleration, did result in "jerky" throttle response and sometimes did not set a fault.  It turned out that a "tin whisker" had grown between the pins of the two pedal position sensors.

Vehicle testing using a defective potentiometer accelerator pedal assembly from a VOQ vehicle with a resistive short, within a narrow range of values between the sensors outputs, identified a vulnerability that may compromise nominal limp home mode fail-safe operation on subsequent ignition key cycles and affect the malfunction indicator lamp (MIL) display and/or DTC  generation under certain specific conditions. Destructive physical analysis of this pedal assembly found tin whiskers, one of which had formed the resistive partial short circuit between the pedal signal outputs.  A second tin whisker  of similar length was also found in this pedal assembly that had not caused an electrical short.  If a resistive short between the potentiometer accelerator pedal signal outputs exists, the system  may be vulnerable to a specific second fault condition that could theoretically lead to UA.However, if resistive faults were occurring during normal use, DTCs would be expected from at  least the first ignition key cycle and the following cycles that did not meet the specific criteria.  Subsequent review of the warranty data does not support an observable failure signature of  pedal-induced DTCs. Electrical measurements on six VOQ vehicles found no indication of the resistive paths necessary for this failure scenario.

This condition must be very rare, and is not an explanation for the many UA cases that NHTSA investigated.  However, I think a smarter design would not have the two position sensor pins located next to one another.  If a tin whisker had grown between the sensor pin and ground, for example, a fault would have likely been triggered.

ಬುಧವಾರ, ಫೆಬ್ರವರಿ 2, 2011

Caribou Coffee: Ending My Boycott

In the past, I have been boycotting Caribou Coffee because they were bought out and majority owned by Arcapita (formerly First Islamic Bank of Bahrain). As part of their ownership, Arcapita required Caribou Coffee to have an official policy of adhering to Sharia (Islamic law) with regards to their business, whicn included bans on interest and pork.

Even though Caribou was certified to not be supporting overseas groups involved in terrorism, I did not want to support Arcapita's middle-eastern Muslim investors, so I refused to patronize them.

However, I am changing my position. According to this article, Arcapita has sold a large portion of its shares in Caribou, and now only owns about 25% of the company. Arcapita may be the largest single shareholder, however, the public now owns most of the company.

By the way, you still can't get pork at Caribou, in case you were wondering.

Toyota Prius price to drop soon

toyota prius

Toyota has already began to make sales predictions for the year 2020. The automaker is confident that Prius will continue its spot as Japan's best-selling model. However it seems that that the exceptional sales volume of Prius may drive Toyota to drop its price.

Japanese car buyers consider the mainstream Prius as a "friendly" model and not a "leading edge" vehicle. This "friendly" image pits the Prius in direct competition with vehicles such as the bargain-priced, subcompact Honda Fit. Kitagawa, who polled 1,972 Japanese car owners, tells this, "As the Prius becomes more of a mass-market car, it may be time to think about lowering the price."

Gas-electric Prius are not sought by tech-savvy Japanese buyers but now it's the mainstream model, Kitigawa argues, that the cutting-edge appeal, which commanded a premium price has faded away.