By Dale Jewett
Rally and gymkhana driver Ken Block is torturing tires with a Ford Fiesta these days. So our Microsoft friends at Turn 10 Studios, makers of Forza Motorsport 3, have their version of Block and his rally Fiesta sliding their way around some open space and through the warehouse available for viewing. So here you go. And keep an eye out for the subliminal advertising of your favorite car-enthusiast magazine.
Natural-gas-powered Honda Civic reaches another retail market.
Despite the fact that compressed natural gas burns far more cleanly than gasoline and is also far less expensive, in the U.S. the only commercially available CNG-powered car is the Honda Civic GX NGV, and up until recently it was available only in California, New York and Utah, where CNG refueling stations are (relatively) available. Oklahoma has just been added to that list, as well, boosting the number of major markets to just four.
As China reigns as the world's largest auto market, the industry is styling cars for its tastes.
China is now the world's largest market for automobiles, and as this article over at CNet points out, size matters.
Everything from extended wheelbases to extra-roomy back seats to high-tech features to fuel-efficient 3-cylinder engines are incorporated with at least a partial eye to China's incredible demand for cars. GM, whose Buick vehicles have been far more popular in China than the U.S. of late, even has a word for the design language: the C-factor.
The most expensive speeding ticket -- ever.
As with any law, the particulars vary from country to country. In some places, like Switzerland and Finland -- previous countries of origin for world's most expensive speeding fines -- speeding tickets are calculated based on a combination of the severity of offense and the offender's net worth to discourage the ultrawealthy from flaunting the law, which led to the aforementioned fines of about $290,000 and $200,000, respectively. Those records have not only been broken, but shattered.
In the Netherlands, egregious speeding can be punished, in the most severe cases, by the forfeiture of the vehicle being driven, which recently led to the seizure of a Bugatti Veyron priced at about $2.35 million. And get this: The Veyron's owner wasn't even driving the car.
By Greg Migliore
Add the mighty Chevrolet Corvette to the list of recalled cars.
General Motors is recalling some 2005 and 2006 models for a steering-column problem. About 40,000 cars produced between March 2004 and January 2006 could be affected.
The problem is that repeated movement of the tilt-and-telescoping steering column could cause a signal interruption, resulting in a warning message appearing and the brakes coming on.
E-mail is coming to the car, but can we handle it?
Well, actually, that may be right in regards to EVs, says a retired fuel-systems engineer.
And it's not like the related questions of range anxiety and recharging infrastructure haven't been brought up more than a few times -- but that's hardly the end of questioning EVs' current viability, retired fuel-systems engineer Tom Kuchnicki says in a piece for Automotive News.
Some of the questions he poses have to do with cost. For example, has there been any thought as to taxing electricity for car use to help pay for the roads, as is the case for gasoline now? And if, as is the case now, there is no viable recharging infrastructure, doesn't that make EVs essentially nothing more than a commuter vehicle -- and who can afford $25,000 for something that just takes you to work and back?
Consumer Reports on hand for the Automotive X Prize shakedown stage.
The main criterion, of course, is that the winning vehicle must achieve the fuel-efficiency equivalent of 100 mpg -- "equivalent," of course, because the vehicles run the gamut of power sources, from all electricity to gas-battery hybrids to even, amazingly, steam. However, that doesn't mean that it's the only requirement. Teams must show their cars can handle properly, accelerate and brake sufficiently, and pass a number of other tests.
To that end, the X Prize team contacted those widely regarded as the best vehicle-testers in the world: our friends over at Consumer Reports. A number of the Consumer Reports staff were on hand to help out, and the result is a pretty cool behind-the-scenes video during the this week's shakedown stage. Check it out after the jump, and see Consumer Reports' own post about the experience here.
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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