Luckily, the accessories are pretty good.
By Jonathan Wong
Come Nov. 24, your PlayStation 3 will be able to fire up Gran Turismo 5 and bring realistic racing into living rooms across the country. Sony and Nissan are teaming up to give players the opportunity to get onto the track in real life by bringing the GT Academy to the United States.
Beginning on Dec. 15, players will be able to compete in GT5 against other players on the PlayStation Network in a series of online time trials behind the wheel of prechosen Nissan cars. Prizes and free content can be earned throughout the competition. The top 32 players in the country will then be invited to participate in a live national finals event in March 2011 to compress the field to 16 GT Academy finalists.
Nissan exec Ghosn sees blue skies ahead for Leaf, EVs.
Of course, Ghosn has a point that mass production of battery packs and the EVs that use them will lower vehicle costs, further lowering the barrier to entry for many of those interested in an electric. But he should be careful equating curiosity about and attention to a new car with projected sales. Ghosn says that EVs will make up 10 percent of the automotive market by 2020, which is far more than the 3 to 5 percent often cited as a realistic target.
By Greg Kable
Mercedes-Benz will make waves at this year's Los Angeles auto show. But it won't all because of the pending world debut of the new CLS63 AMG. No, the talk of the show is set to center around a spectacular-looking Mercedes-Benz concept called the Biome.
Created at Mercedes-Benz's advanced design studio in Carlsbad, Calif., the sleek four-seater hails from the fertile mind of studio head Hubert Lee--the man behind the aggressive new look of the second-generation CLS unveiled at the Paris motor show and the F700 Style concept car wheeled out at this year's Geneva motor show.
Motor Trend, Automobile Magazine honor GM's 'game changer'
First, Motor Trend bestowed the honors live via streaming video from inside General Motors' wind-tunnel facility, calling the Volt "a real breakthrough" and the "world's first intelligent hybrid," according to Editor-in-Chief Angus McKenzie. Citing the fact that the Volt's powertrain allows the car to run as a pure EV, series hybrid or parallel hybrid -- depending on which delivers the most efficiency at any given time -- McKenzie said, "The investment in the technology that drives this car is also an investment in the long-term future of automaking in America.”
New tech from Fiat makes its way into the Chrysler bloodstream.
Chrysler is on the warpath. After months of stagnation, the company is hitting the market full-force with a barrage of new and refreshed models spread across all four of its brands. The all-new Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee are the stars of the renovated road show, but the changes have trickled down to even the lowly Dodge Avenger. But while new engines and restyled interiors are likely to make a splash with consumers right now, there’s news of bigger changes on the horizon.
Parent company Fiat has been making large strides in breaking up corporate roadblocks within Chrysler and encouraging innovation in engineering and design -- but we’ve yet to see any Italian hardware show up under an American badge. That may change soon. According to Motor Trend, Chrysler is planning to employ a Fiat-derived 6-speed dual-clutch transmission in the 200 sedan as part of the 2012 model-year lineup -- that means as soon as 2011.
Will others follow General Electric's large investment in alternative-powertrain vehicles?
Other big business, like FedEx and UPS and rental giants Enterprise and Hertz, will move large numbers of EVs into their worldwide fleets, according to financial industry sources quoted in the article. A big reason for this is that EVs make more short- and long-term financial sense for large corporations than for individual owners. Higher initial costs are more than offset by the savings in federal tax credits and fuel costs, and efficient, centralized fleet infrastructures mean dividing the costs of charging stations across many vehicles.
Aside from the financial considerations, the article notes that the huge EV purchase gives General Electric a sort of "moral high ground" that other companies will look to emulate.
By Ryan Beene, Automotive News
After four years of hyping its curvy, fluid Nagare styling philosophy--but developing only one production vehicle with the look--Mazda has changed design course.
Now the Japanese carmaker wants to go with a simpler, more upscale style. So the design language seen in the Shinari concept car being unveiled at the Los Angeles auto show this week represents Mazda's future.
The Shinari look will begin to appear on production vehicles within two years, says Derek Jenkins, design director for Mazda North American Operations.
What happened to Nagare? It went out with global design director Laurens Van den Acker, who developed the look but moved to Renault last year after a three year stint with Mazda.
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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
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