Akio Toyoda testifies before Congress -- a recap
The main attraction at the hearings was Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda, grandson of the company's founder, who, despite initially deferring the chance to testify, appeared before the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee after a formal invitation was issued.
Toyoda began his testimony with a prepared statement, which he delivered in English, in which he personally apologized for "any accident that Toyota drivers have experienced," and promised that "Toyota will work vigorously and unceasingly to restore the trust of our customers." Toyoda switched to speaking Japanese and using an interpreter for the remainder of the hearing.
By Greg Migliore
This is for close-quarters maneuvering, so it's not big. The battery-electric drivetrain is mounted low in the chassis, which makes for a low center of gravity and improved stability.
Learning to drive -- anywhere -- with the O'Neil method
I’ve been to a half-dozen driving schools. I’ve had the great fortune of one-on-one instruction and tips from some awesome race drivers, from 24 Hours of LeMans winners like Hurley Haywood to Indy racers Scott Goodyear and Roberto Guerrero.
But I don’t think I’ve ever learned as much about car control as I did in a reclaimed gravel pit in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, home of Team O’Neil Rally School. That’s where O’Neil (a former national rally-racing champion) and his merry band of instructors will teach anyone -- from budding racers to teenagers who haven’t earned a driver’s license -- how to be a better, stronger, safer driver. Faster, too, at least if we’re talking driving in dirt, mud or snow, the preferred surface for rally drivers and their intrepid, navigating co-drivers.
USA Today explores electronic interference
Toyota's James Lentz, of course, has repeatedly said that electronics are not to blame; a former lawyer for the company is bringing a lawsuit alleging that electronics are precisely the problem; and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has questioned the company repeatedly and is looking into interference as a potential cause for a number of problems.
By Chrissie Thompson, Automotive News
General Motors today completed the sale of its Swedish Saab brand to Dutch luxury sports car maker Spyker Cars NV, marking the first successful sale of one of its four unwanted U.S. brands.
The transaction combines Saab Automobile and its 3,400 employees with Spyker Cars and its 110-plus workers.
“Saab's future is now secure,” Spyker CEO Victor Muller said in a statement. “We will be concentrating all of our efforts into reviving Saab and transforming it into a sustainable and profitable company with the confidence to be bold.”
The sale saves Saab from what appeared to be doom after Swedish supercar maker Koenigsegg Group AB backed out of a planned purchase in November. But Spyker--whose logo bears a Latin phrase that translates, “For the tenacious, no road is impossible”--made an offer during Saab's wind down.
Hummer sale to Chinese heavy machinery company in trouble
According to the New York Times Dealbook blog, and re-reported by their automotive Wheels site, the deal is close to collapse due to "hostility from Chinese regulators and bank financing problems."
The $200 million sale, to the Chinese company Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co., was supposed to be completed by September; since then GM has repeatedly extended the deadline, which now stands at the end of this week.
However, thanks to China's newfound focus on environmental issues, Tengzong has failed to win regulatory approval for the deal.
By Greg Migliore
The finish line is in sight for development of the next McLaren supercar, the MP4-12C. The project has entered the final phase of testing with a new round of prototypes that feature significant advancements from last year.
McLaren released film on Tuesday of two versions of the new testers, called the XP8 and the XP10, which it says are in the "beta phase" of development. They move the project closer to production guise with a new version of the M838T twin-turbo engine, transmission with new gear ratios, an improved cooling package, new suspension geometry and upgraded electrical architecture. The 3.8-liter V8 is expected to make about 600 hp and work in tandem with a seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox. The weight should come in at less than 3,000 pounds. Look for a sticker of about $230,000 when the car goes on sale in 2011.
Toyota ranks third in Consumer Reports' Automaker Report Cards
Toyota places behind fellow Japanese carmakers Honda and Subaru, which take the one-two spots for delivering best all-around quality for American drivers. On the opposite end of the spectrum, beleaguered Chrysler has fallen off further than even last year, ranking dead last. According to the magazine: "Most models from the manufacturer have noisy, inefficient, unrefined powertrains; subpar interiors; and poor visibility."
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Clifford Atiyeh has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own. Raised in Volvos, he has grown to love fast, irresponsible vehicles of all kinds. He is the senior news editor at MSN Autos and also reports for Car and Driver, Road & Track, The Boston Globe and other publications.
In the garage: 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (not his)
Doug Newcomb has covered car technology for over 20 years for outlets ranging from Rolling Stone to Edmunds.com. In 2008, he published his first book, "Car Audio for Dummies" (Wiley). He lives and drives in Hood River, Ore., with his wife and two kids, who share his passion for cars and technology.
In the garage: 1996 Chevrolet Impala SS, two 1984 Chevrolet Blazers, 2008 Honda CR-V
James Tate learned to drive stick at age 13 in a 1988 Land Cruiser - in La Paz, Bolivia. He's since been a mechanic, on a pit crew and has wrenched on every car he's owned since his first 1989 Honda CRX Si (and won't stop until the car is a 1973 Porsche 911 RS). His work has appeared in Car and Driver, Popular Mechanics, Automobile and others.
In the garage: 1995 Porsche 911 Carrera, 1988 BMW M5