Report says autonomous technology could benefit criminals.
Like any technology, self-driving cars could potentially lead to more driver convenience -- and a lot fewer crashes -- but also to some unintended consequences. One of these, according to a recent FBI report, is the potential for criminals and terrorists to abuse autonomous cars to more easily do their dirty work.
In the unclassified but restricted report obtained by British newspaper The Guardian, the FBI said “the risk that distraction or poor judgment leading to collision that stems from manual operation would be substantially reduced” by self-driving cars. And it added that autonomous technology could be approved by the U.S. government within five to seven years.
But while the FBI believes that self-driving cars “will make mobility more efficient,” it said in the report that the technology “will also open up greater possibilities … for a car to be more of a potential lethal weapon.” It predicted that “bad actors will be able to conduct tasks that require use of both hands or taking one’s eyes off the road, which would be impossible today.”
Prototyping company builds a Viper ragtop without official factory approval.
That’s the thing about Americans -- when we don’t like something, we change it. When we want something that doesn’t exist, we simply build it. So is the case with the Medusa, the Prefix Corp.’s take on a drop-top fifth-generation Dodge Viper.
We haven’t seen an open-air model since the “Final Edition” run in 2010, and by the reaction of the crowd in Auburn Hills, Mich., the Viperati are ready for another one.
“It’s gorgeous,” said George Batejan, a Viper owner. “We have three Vipers already and may be in the market for a fourth.”
“Awesome, beautiful,” said ’96 GTS owner Jeffery Millek. “How could it not be a great design?”
Prefix says this prototype was built to gauge reaction, without Dodge's knowledge. Prefix owner Kim Zeile has 10 brand-new Vipers sitting in the shop right now, ready for the transformation. It would take about eight weeks, by conservative estimates, Zeile said.
While that number is five times what Maserati sold last year, it's supposed to ensure the Italian brand's exclusivity.
According to Reuters and Bloomberg, that's the limit the Italian automaker has self-imposed to keep its "exclusivity." Under the umbrella of Fiat Chrysler and the direction CEO Sergio Marchionne, Maserati has gone downmarket in an effort to boost sales and make the trident marque more popular against mainstream luxury competitors.
Last year, Maserati sold just over 15,000 cars worldwide and wants to ramp up to 75,000 by 2018. At that time, the Levante SUV, a new Alfieri coupe and an updated GranTurismo coupe and convertible will be available from Maserati, not to mention a host of diesel engines. By next year, Maserati plans to double its dealerships to 500.
Base 3.7-liter good for 300 hp, while the 2.3-liter EcoBoost kicks out 310 hp.
We’ve known the new 2015 Ford Mustang was going to be more powerful than the car it replaces since it was revealed late last year, but the Blue Oval has been cagey with the details. Today, the automaker has revealed output information, and it looks good so far.
The 5.0-liter V8 is probably what fans are most excited to hear about -- it’s good for 435 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. That’s a tidy 15 hp and 10 lb-ft increase over the outgoing model, and it’s within spitting distance of the 444-hp Boss 302. Not bad.
The two other motors aren’t too shabby, either. The 3.7-liter V6 gets 300 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque, and the turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-four EcoBoost puts down a very respectable 310 hp and 320 lb-ft. For some perspective, the V8-powered 2005 Ford Mustang GT put down just 300 hp, so we’ve clearly come a long way -- and there’s no telling just what other, even hotter versions of this new Mustang are in the works.
Proposal to include more real-world testing stems from customer complaints, lawsuits.
Following recent high-profile revisions of fuel economy ratings by Ford, Hyundai and Kia — and a rash of consumer complaints and lawsuits — the Environmental Protection Agency wants to require automakers to road test vehicles to verify the fuel economy claims that get posted on a car’s window sticker.
“Some automakers already do this,” Chris Grundler, director of the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality, told The Wall Street Journal, “but we are establishing a regulatory requirement for all automakers.”
Although the agency confirms about 10 to 15 percent of automakers’ fuel economy claims through its own tests each year at the National Vehicles and Fuel Emissions Laboratory and regularly revises its testing requirements (most recently in 2008), fuel economy is otherwise measured by automakers and reported to the EPA. Testing is performed “under controlled conditions in a laboratory using a standardized test procedure specified by federal law,” according to the EPA, usually with pre-production prototype vehicles.
The Toyota sets a snail’s pace and a mark for hyperefficiency around Germany's famed Nurburgring.
Ladies and gentlemen, do not start your engines.
While the Nurburgring Nordschleife usually conjures images of supercars careening around Karussell or barreling down the Dottinger Hohe straight at speeds exceeding 200 mph, British automotive journalist Joe Clifford raced a plug-in hybrid on the famous track at the slowest possible speed.
Now a new name can be added to the pantheon of record-setting vehicles at the Nurburgring: the Toyota Prius Plug-in.
Clifford's Toyota-sponsored stunt lap in a Prius Plug-in fitted with TRD parts (for style, none performance enhancing) clocked in at a whopping 20 minutes, 59 seconds, or 14 minutes behind the Porsche 918 Spyder. In that time, you could watch half an episode of "Big Bang Theory" before the Prius even finished a lap. Obviously, no speed records were set, but the lap saw the Prius Plug-in return 698 mpg -- a high mark in efficiency that will be hard to beat.
Recall expands on an airbag inflator problem now affecting 9 automakers and about 11 million cars worldwide.
All variants of the 2000-2006 3-Series, also known as the E46, are included in the recall, totaling about 574,000 cars in the U.S. and about 1.6 million worldwide. In May 2013, BMW recalled 42,000 of these cars but has expanded the recall, as other automakers have done since June, due to airbag manufacturer Takata's handling of propellant chemicals during production and for poor records that did not include all of the affected parts when the recalls were initiated in April 2013.
The inflators in the passenger's side frontal airbag can rupture due to excess pressure and bad propellant, which can send metal fragments into a person's face. The passenger's side frontal airbag will be replaced, although BMW said the original 42,000 cars that already were repaired won't be included in this recall expansion.
Honda, Nissan, Mazda, Toyota, Subaru, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are also affected by the same problem. Takata's latest explanation is that high humidity is causing some airbag inflators to fail. So far, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is asking automakers to recall cars in a limited numbers of states so they can investigate the parts -- although some automakers, such as BMW and Honda, have gone well beyond those states.
The Veyron's replacement is nearing.
Because someone out there still needs to party like it's 1989, Bugatti is considering a 1,500-hp hybrid hypercar as the only conceivable thing that can truly follow the Veyron.
Sources deep within the Volkswagen empire have revealed that the two-door replacement -- instead of the Galibier sedan that was once approved as the newest Bugatti -- will rock a 16-cylinder engine, much like the current Veyron, but coupled to a hybrid drivetrain that remains unspecified. That's what CEO Wolfgang Duerheimer wants, anyway, according to Automotive News Europe.
Short of Koenigsegg and Pagani, that's what it takes to play in the hypercar realm these days: social responsibility not only meets European emissions regulations, but ever since the likes of Ferrari, McLaren and Porsche discovered that they could also go fast, they have run with it -- to dizzying speeds.
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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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