Exhaust Notes

Decision Guide


New Lightweight Concept vehicle uses aluminum, ultra-high-strength steel, magnesium and carbon fiber to shed pounds.

By Douglas Newcomb Jun 4, 2014 9:05AM

Ford Lightweight Concept vehicle. Photo by Ford.To squeeze every mile from a tank of gas, engines are not only getting more fuel efficient, but vehicles are also becoming more lightweight. Even the upcoming 2015 Ford F-150 is shedding pounds thanks to an aluminum body.

Now Ford is looking to what it calls “light-weighting” to further reduce mass and save gas by focusing on individual components, and has unveiled a concept vehicle based on the Fusion sedan that uses advanced materials. Ford’s new Lightweight Concept vehicle employs aluminum, ultra-high-strength steel, magnesium and carbon fiber in what Ford called “a holistic approach” to reduce weight in powertrain, chassis and body components and even interior features such as seats.


But while lighter-weight vehicle components can save fuel and therefore money at the pump, for now they’re more costly to add to a car.


Study finds Washington, D.C., has lowest fatality rate, northern Plains states and the South the highest.

By Douglas Newcomb 4 hours ago
Photo by Flikr user Rian Castillo.
Whether you’ll die in a traffic accident largely depends where you live, according to a recent study from the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute.

While roadway fatalities in the U.S. have dropped 22.7 percent since 2005, UMTRI research professor Michael Sivak found a wide disparity in traffic fatality rates for individual states and the District of Columbia.

Sivak used two sets of data in his analysis: the number of road deaths by distance driven and the number relative to state population. Using these two factors, he looked at statistics for 2005 (the most recent peak) and 2012 (the most recent year for which data was available).

He then cross-referenced these statistics and concluded that if you drive in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., you have the lowest chance of dying in a traffic accident than any other state, while motorists in North Dakota, South Carolina and West Virginia have the highest chance of becoming a road fatality statistic. 

Hellcat VIN0001's sale to benefit Las Vegas charity.

By AutoWeek 6 hours ago

To the surprise of exactly no one, the numero uno production Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat built will head straight to the auction block at Barrett-Jackson -- a precedent set by the first C7 Chevrolet Corvette, the first Camaro Z/28 and the first 2015 Ford Mustang in the vehicular equivalent of camping out for three days for a "Star Wars" movie and then running through the movie theater yelling "first!"

Already, Barrett-Jackson is calling the Hellcat "iconic." Hellcat VIN0001 has an eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic with black Laguna leather seats. It features a special shade of red, carried over from the Dodge Viper -- the first of which, come to think of it, also went to Barrett-Jackson.

And like the first Viper, the House That Craig Built is selling the Hellcat to benefit charity: This time, 100 percent of the price will go to Opportunity Village, which helps people in the Las Vegas area who have intellectual disabilities. Founded in 1954, the charity operates three centers and a thrift shop around the Vegas area.


Federal prosecutors are after a former Ford engineer for planting voice recorders in meeting rooms.

By Clifford Atiyeh Fri 1:41 PM
FBI agents swarmed Ford Motor Co.'s headquarters this month -- and not to place bulk orders for new Police Interceptors.

The Detroit News said it received search warrants showing a surprise FBI search of the company's Dearborn, Michigan, headquarters July 11. Agents were there to find eight electronic voice recorders that a former Ford engineer was caught allegedly hiding under conference room tables.

Sharon Leach, 43, was fired in June after Ford company security found the recorders and deemed her activities suspicious and potentially threatening to its trade secrets, according to the News. While federal investigators haven't filed charges against Leach, they did search her home in June and took her computers, tax records and other documents.  

Base model starts at $15,670.

By AutoWeek Fri 12:30 PM

Toyota redesigned its Yaris subcompact for 2015. The new nose looks to be directly borrowed from the 2014 Corolla. It returns in both three- and five-door trim, with a fresh interior to match the new sheetmetal.


The new Yaris comes in three trims: L, LE and SE. Standard features include air conditioning, power windows, 60/40 split-folding rear seats, daytime running lights and 15-inch wheels. The upgraded LE trim adds cruise control, power mirrors, steering wheel audio controls and keyless entry. The top SE trim continues to pile on the options with projector headlights, fog lights, a rear spoiler and 16-inch alloy wheels. SE is also the sportiest trim, so it gets a solid stabilizer bar, “sport-tuned” suspension and bigger brakes in front.

Inside, the high-spec model comes with a leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob, its own unique sport fabric and gloss black accents. All models get a 6.1-inch touchscreen, USB port, Bluetooth and voice recognition. Navigation is also a dealer-installed option for the first time.


Motorized tank on wheels uses camera, software to analyze where a fish may want to go.

By Douglas Newcomb Fri 11:46 AM

Fish on Wheels. Photo by Studio Diip.Self-driving technology is developing fast. So fast that now even a goldfish can "drive" its tank just by swimming in a certain direction, thanks to a project by the Dutch design firm Studio Diip.

“We wanted to make something that showcases computer vision technology, but not in such an industrial way,” Diip co-founder Thomas de Wolf told Popular Science.

While the project is a gimmick to get attention for Studio Diip, the firm said on its website that it “wanted to show that computer vision technology is not just limited to the usual automation projects or information gathering. It can also create interactions that are so simple that they can empower animals. Fish on Wheels shows this by allowing fish to move their own fish tank, if they are smart enough to understand this.”

But they're probably not, since these commonplace aquatic pets supposedly have a memory of just three seconds.


Ferrari's first mid-engine V12 production car, a rare and unusual masterpiece, heads to auction.

By James_Tate Fri 9:16 AM

Of all the rare, exquisite vehicles up for auction next month at the Pebble Beach Concours, one stands out for its unique nature and provenance: the 1966 Ferrari 365 P Berlinetta Speciale, also known as "Tre Posti." Tre Posti earns its nickname for its unusual layout of three front seats.

This remarkable Ferrari was built for Luigi Chinetti Sr., a legendary figure in Ferrari history who was the first, and for many years the only, Ferrari factory dealer in the United States. Chinetti was instrumental in making Ferrari the iconic brand it is today, not only as a dealer but also as a racing driver, winning Ferrari’s first and last LeMans races (in 1945 and 1965) along with two victories at the Spa 24 Hours.

In keeping with Chinetti’s racing history, Enzo Ferrari and legendary designer Sergio Pininfarina built the Tre Posti as a prototype derived from the 365 P2 race car of the era, one that Chinetti's North American Racing Team had been racing successfully.


Tensions between countries lead to request about Grand Prix.

By AutoWeek Fri 7:40 AM

With political tensions running high between Britain and Russia, at least two British politicians have put on pressure on Formula One to cancel the Russian Grand Prix, which is scheduled to take place in Sochi on Oct. 12.

The F1 event was thrust into conversations after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed in Ukraine, killing 298 people.

According to the Telegraph, David Davis and Sir Menzies Campbell are both calling for the race to be cancelled.

“If Russia continues as they have been doing, then the Grand Prix is one of many things that they should be denied,” said parliament member Davis, who is a former minister in the Foreign Office. “F1 already had a problem in the past with Bahrain. While I’m not particularly in favor of cancelling sports events at the drop of a hat, I think that Formula One should reflect the global outrage. It would be an important and appropriate response to cancel the race.”


Prototype intrusion-detection device to debut at upcoming computer security conference

By Douglas Newcomb Thu 11:36 AM

Car anti-hacking device. Courtesy Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek.Last year, digital security experts Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek made headlines by hacking a Ford Escape and a Toyota Prius and publicizing the results.

Now the pair are proposing a possible a solution to keep car hackers at bay via a prototype intrusion-detection device that they plan to debut at the Black Hat USA security conference in Las Vegas next month.

Using a laptop plugged into the data port under the dash of the two vehicles, they demonstrated how hackers with similar access could wreak havoc, ranging from honking horns to disabling brakes.

Their car hacking experiments were part of a military-funded project completed while the two were on sabbatical from their day jobs, Miller as a security researcher for Twitter and Valasek as director of vehicle security research for the consulting firm IOActive. Their goal was to show how cars are vulnerable to digital attacks, although they acknowledge that a hacker would need the same unfettered access to accomplish the same sort of mischief. 


  • Cliff Atiyeh

    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

    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

    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

MSN Money

About Exhaust Notes

Cars are cool, and here at MSN Autos we love everything about them, but we also know they're more than simply speed and style: a car is an essential tool, a much-needed accessory to help you get through your day-to-day life. What you drive is also one of the most important investments you can make, so we'll help you navigate your way through the car buying and ownership experiences. We strive to be your daily destination for news, notes, tips and tricks from across the automotive world. So whether it's through original content from our world-class journalists or the latest buzz from the far corners of the Web, Exhaust Notes helps you make sense of your automotive world.

Have a story idea? Tip us off at exhaustnotes@live.com.