Porsche lightens and sweetens the Boxster.
With sports-car makers unable to outrun the recession, they might as well have some fun – and drum up a little business while they’re at it. For Porsche, the latest lure is the Boxster Spyder. It’s a lighter, stiffer and faster Boxster than the standard version – and more eye-catching to boot, with its hubba-hubba pair of aluminum humps swelling behind the cockpit. And after back-to-back laps in the Boxster Spyder and the standard Boxster S at Monticello Motor Club in New York, I was mighty impressed by the Spyder’s clear performance edge – and that’s saying something, considering how the standard midengine Boxster remains one of the world’s most balanced, sophisticated and entertaining 2-seaters.
Weighing a svelte 2,811 pounds, the Boxster Spyder is in fact the company’s most featherweight machine: The Spyder strips a significant 176 pounds from the Boxster S, ditching the standard radio and air conditioning, bolting on Porsche’s lightest 19-inch wheel and tire package, and trimming a key 46 pounds with a fully manual, 2-piece fabric and carbon-fiber top that replaces the semi-automatic cloth top of the typical Boxster. Outside, there’s that unique rear decklid, revised front and side air inlets, a graphic stripe and black-painted tailpipes. Inside, the big difference is a pair of ultralight, aggressively body-hugging sport bucket seats. Red fabric pulls – to my mind, a silly retro-primitive touch – replace the interior door handles, and seat belts are red as well.
Better signs would create more efficient traffic flows, California venture capitalist says.
Coming to a full stop at an intersection where it isn't necessarily required -- when there's high visibility in all directions and there's no traffic to be seen -- is inefficient and creates waste on multiple levels. It adds time, messes up the flow of traffic and adds braking and acceleration, which means more gasoline use. And unsignaled intersections (that is, intersections with stop signs) in fact have a higher accident rate than the more tricky rotaries, possibly because motorists know that attention to their surroundings is required at rotaries. The numbers don't lie: When unsignaled intersections are converted to rotaries, crashes drop 40 percent, injury crashes go down 76 percent and fatal crashes drop by 90 percent.
This led Lauder to create the stop sign/yield sign mash-up seen above. It encourages drivers approaching an intersection with multiple directions to alternate right-of-way, depending on traffic conditions, much in the way it's done at a four-way stop.
After the jump, check out a quick video of Lauder's speech at the TED conference in Long Beach, Calif.
Eating and driving can be a sickening combination.
Bacteria taken off swabs of the seats, steering wheel, radio and door handles turned up everything from Staphylococcus to Bacillus cereus -- and if you're not familiar with those names, know that getting some on a stray french fry can lead to everything from impetigo to severe nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. In other words: food poisoning. Everyday drivers track such bacteria into the car via soil on their shoes, pets, luggage, you name it.
GM pushes for the full name.
"Aside from the facilities aspect of our branding, there are many other ways in which we can demonstrate this consistency. One way to achieve this is with the use of Chevrolet vs. Chevy. We’d ask that whether you’re talking to a dealer, reviewing dealer advertising or speaking with friends and family, that you communicate our brand as Chevrolet moving forward."
Study says limiting speeds could reduce emissions by 30 percent.
The Senate's version of the auto-safety bill passed without objection from any senators.
The Senate Commerce Committee voted today to pass a far-reaching vehicle safety bill that has largely won both automaker and consumer support, sending the measure to the full Senate.
The bill passed without objections from any senators.
The legislation, crafted in the wake of Toyota's safety recalls this year, resembles a House bill that also is now on the floor of that chamber.
Auto-industry lobbyists have said they expect Congress to pass the legislation sometime this summer and that President Barack Obama will sign it.
The Senate panel headed by U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., today approved a number of bill revisions that were sought by the auto industry.
“This is a critical public safety bill that will affect the lives of millions of Americans on the road every day,” Rockefeller said at the hearing.
Scarab police chase assistant.
Designed by Carl Archambeault, a graduate of the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, the Scarab fuses two ideas widely used by the military -- laser targeting and autonomous drones -- with the goal of aiding law enforcement by taking a dangerous, high-speed chase out of the hands of flesh-and-blood police officers. Essentially, a cop could "tag" a speeding vehicle using laser targeting technology, then employ the Scarab drone vehicle (which could be stationed by the side of the road or towed behind a moving cop car) to take care of the pursuit, much in the way a Predator drone takes care of reconnaissance and/or bombing missions in the place of manned aircraft.
CEO doubts viability of a profitable diesel market in the U.S.
Bad news for fans of both Hyundai and diesel cars: The Korean automaker's CEO, John Krafcik, has said in an interview that he seriously doubts a viable market for diesel vehicles in the States. The reason? Cost.
"To meet the same emissions standards with a diesel, you're looking at almost two times the variable cost for an OEM. And the after-treatment is another thousand, 2,000, maybe even 3,000. You're either adding $6,000 to the price or you're just doing marketing."
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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