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LaFerrari XX prototype pushed so hard that its suspension fails

07/14/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Coupes, Sports/GTs, Videos, Supercars, Ferrari, Special/Limited Editions

LaFerrari XX prototype at Monza

Ferrari has a real challenge on its hands. It made the new LaFerrari hybrid hypercar so extreme already that it left little room to crank it up to 11 and turn it into an XX development prototype like it did with the Enzo and the 599 before it. So it's really going to have to push the envelop to take it that extra step.

That's what it has apparently set out to do with this LaFerrari prototype at Monza, where the Prancing Horse marque was spotted preparing the upcoming LaFerrari XX. In fact, testers ran the prototype so hard that they broke the car's right rear suspension. Which is bound to happen, we guess, when you try to find that extra bit of performance in a vehicle that's already one of the most capable ever devised, but only goes to show how much deeper Ferrari will have to dig to find that even sharper edge.

Either that or Ferrari's working on some sort of four-wheel steering system with automatic camber adjustment... See for yourself in the video below.

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40+ cars that barely avoid the gas guzzler tax

07/24/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Convertibles, Coupes, Sedans/Saloons, Sports/GTs, Wagons/Estates, Government/Legal, Audi, Bentley, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Hyundai, Jaguar, Lexus, Maserati, Mercedes Benz, Porsche, Luxury

The Gas Guzzler schedule, with mpg ratings and charges that haven't changed since 1991, lays out which fuel-swillers owe what to Uncle Sam.

I started thinking about the "Gas Guzzler Tax" - considerably less well known as The Energy Tax Act of 1978 - when I was driving Dodge's new Challenger SRT Hellcat last week. Unsurprisingly for a car that can burn 1.5 gallons of gas per minute at max tilt, theoretically able to empty a full tank of premium in about 13 minutes, the Hellcat will be subject to the Gas Guzzler Tax schedule when it goes on sale.

Beyond knowing that it existed, and occasionally seeing a surcharge for it listed on the specification sheet for a press car I'd been loaned, I didn't really understand how the GGT worked or was calculated.

Thankfully, the Environmental Protection Agency makes learning about the GGT (and a lot of other stuff) pretty simple. EPA.gov has a clearly written explanation of the tax and the tax schedule. That schedule, operating with miles-per-gallon ratings and charges that haven't changed since 1991, clearly lays out which fuel-swillers owe what to Uncle Sam. Basically, if a car's combined fuel economy rating is 22.5 mpg or higher it's off the hook ­- trucks, minivans and SUVs are all exempt from the GGT - if the rating is lower, per vehicle taxes range from $1,000 to $7,700 for the very thirstiest.

Simple, right?

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Via Trucks will offer solar-power tonneau for 10 extra miles of EV range

11/21/2013   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: EV/Plug-in, Hybrid, Solar, GM, AutoblogGreen Exclusive

Bob Lutz with the Via Trucks solar tonneau

Via Motors knows a thing or two about standing on the shoulders of others. The plug-in hybrid utility vehicle company's entire business plan is to take big General Motors vehicles and convert them to something with a plug, with the support of Bob Lutz (pictured, with the VTrux, a converted Chevrolet Silverado). Here at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the company isn't on the press release schedule until tomorrow, but the brand new solar tonneau cover is just sitting out on the convention center floor. So we went to take a look.

The industrial grade solar panels will take a "fair amount" of abuse.

Jeffrey Esfeld, Via's director of national fleet sales and business development, told AutoblogGreen that the the idea is to use all the real estate available over the truck bed to increase the vehicle's efficiency. The industrial grade solar panels will take a "fair amount" of abuse, Esfeld said. The new solar tonneau will be available in two versions, 800- and 400-watts, that will both help power the car's battery or, if used at a work site, any power tools running off of the truck's outboard power outlet. If you park the truck in the sun all day, the solar panels can add up to six (in the 400-watt model) and ten (800) miles of range to the battery pack. That's why the company's slogan is "an electric truck that doesn't need a plug."

Via will not be announcing the price tomorrow, but since the truck and tonneau will be available in March, we don't expect we will have to wait too long. The truck is supposed to start at $79,000.

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Fiat shareholders green-light Chrysler merger, end of an Italian era

08/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Chrysler, FIAT

ITALY FIAT

Fiat has just taken a major step away from its Italian heritage, as shareholders officially approved the company's merger with Chrysler. That move will lead to the formation of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, a Dutch company based in Great Britain and listed on the New York Stock Exchange, according to Automotive News Europe.

The company captured the two-thirds majority at a special shareholders meeting, although there are still a few situations that could defeat the movement. According to ANE, roughly eight percent of shareholders opposed the merger, which is a group large enough to defeat the plan, should they all exercise their exit rights outlined in the merger conditions.

Meanwhile, Fiat Chairman John Elkann (pictured above, right, with CEO Sergio Marchionne and Ferrari Chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo), the great-great-grandson of Fiat founder Giovanni Agnelli, reaffirmed his family's commitment to the company beyond the merger. Exor, the Agnelli family's holding company, still maintains a 30-percent stake in Fiat.

"I want to confirm today my own and my family's commitment to continue to support Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, even more so now that there are big opportunities on the horizon," Elkann told shareholders, according to ANE.

FCA will set up temporary offices in Slough, England, roughly 20 miles outside of London. Its offices in the UK's capital, meanwhile, should be open by the end of 2014. Despite the shift to the UK, FCA will still maintain IT and administration functions in Fiat's traditional home, Turin. Italy will also continue to play a major role in vehicle production, with the upcoming Jeep Renegade slated for production there, as well as new vehicles from Alfa Romeo and Maserati.

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VW Crafter Atacama Concept

09/20/2006   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Concept Cars, Euro, Commercial Trucks, Volkswagen

On our drive back home yesterday, we saw one of those apocalypse-ready Ford Econoline vans tooling along on the freeway and thought to ourselves, "Autoblog needs a mobile command unit." After running it by our budget office and being swiftly laughed out of the building we were forced to come back out of the clouds. Then this shows up and we start salivating again.

The translation from Caradisiac is about as undecipherable as poorly-lighted Aramaic, but from what we gather, Volkswagen plans on showing off a new work truck at some point in the near future to go up against the Ford Transit, Mercedes/Dodge Sprinter and Fiat Truckster. From the Google-translated text, all we can gather is that the Crafta Atacama will be powered by five-cylinder TDI, producing approximately 260 ft./lbs. of torque and offer optional four-wheel-drive.

As anyone who has ever examined some of the offerings from the producers of European work-vans, features are what make the market. How many door combinations do you want? What interior accoutrements are on your short list? You name it, they'll normally shove it in somewhere. The Crafta Atacama probably won't be any different, offering a panoramic/sliding glass roof, customizable colors, shields, bumpers, sidesteps, suspension and wheel upgrades.

When, where and how much is all up in the air, but maybe if it floats on over to this continent we can make another appeal to our bean counters.

Click on through for a few more shots.

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RR of the Day: 1992 VW Passat Syncro

02/22/2007   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Volkswagen, RR of the Day

Flickr user mtl_raoul's G60-powered '92 Passat GL Syncro is one of those things that grabbed our attention when we saw it floating around in the pool. For one, the grille-free B3 Passats are still cool-looking today. Add the fact that the all-wheel drive Syncro variant was not offered in the United States and things get even more interesting. A few did find their way to Canada, however, and that's where today's ride resides.

Once a daily driver, the Syncro has been relegated to "winter beater" duty -- a task it's up to considering the full winter package the loaded sedan is equipped with. That means that the requisite heated seats are joined by niceties like heated headlamp washers and a double-capacity washer fluid reservoir. The car's 1.8L supercharged four is not what it once was, sadly. The G-Lader crapped out on Raoul about a year ago and he removed the blower instead of taking the financial hit associated with the unit's repair or replacement. Other than that modification, the car's original.

Sizeable 'Syncro" decals on the rear quarter panels announce that the car is equipped with awd, and the metallic-finish wheels look pretty spiffy. The red G60 badge on the trunklid remains as a reminder of what once lurked underhood. Raoul says that while the removal of the supercharger really impacted performance (the Passat's a bit hefty for the now-unassisted 1.8), he still gets around 23 mpg and notes that it's still a blast to toss around snow-covered parking lots in the wintertime. The odo shows over 297,000 km (185,000 miles) -- a distance covered under four different owners, the most recent of whom now has himself today's Autoblog Reader Ride of the Day. Congrats, and thanks for sharing it with us!

Check out Raoul's summer machine, too, if you have a chance. When the white stuff melts, he climbs behind the wheel of a Subaru-powered VW Vanagon Westfalia.

How to submit to RR of the Day:

Create a Flickr account if you don't already have one. Join the group called 'Autoblog RR of the Day'. Upload up to three photos of your ride to your own account at a size no larger than 450 pixels wide if possible and include as much information about it and yourself as you can. Click on each photo and just above the picture it will say "Send to group". Click that and select the Autoblog group. You're done!

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Pebble Beach Week 2007: Callaway Speedster flashes into town

08/22/2007   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Convertibles, Supercars, Misc. Auto Shows, Callaway

click above image for many high-res shots of the Callaway C16 Speedster

Twenty years ago, GM asked Reeves Callaway to infuse the Corvette with his particular brand of genius. The result was the most powerful production car ever sold in America. Twenty years later, the results are still coming, and this is the latest: the Callaway C16 Speedster, third in the C16 family introduced this year, joining the coupe and the cabriolet. For a large automaker to launch a car with three variants, in one year, is an achievement. For Callaway to do so, as a specialist producer, is nothing short of spectacular. Fittingly, the Speedster could be the most spectacular version yet. Click Read to get the full story, and check out the gallery to see hi-res images of the new Callaway C16 Speedster as well as the first Callaway Speedster made in 1990. Do you remember it on the cover of Motor Trend like it was yesterday? We do. Warning, though: it's still very green.

Gallery: Callaway C16 Speedster

Gallery: The Callaway Speedster

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Oz-some: HSV W427 launches Down Under

07/24/2008   [Original: HSV via Autoblog]
Category: Sports/GTs, Supercars, GM, Holden, Australia, HSV

Click above for a hi-res gallery of the HSV W427

"She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts." That's what Han Solo says about the Millenium Falcon. You could apply the same saying to the HSV W427 super-duper sedan just launched by Holden's in-house performance division. I mean, that front end has some serious issues, but the Corvette Z06's LS7 V8 lurks behind it, and it's no joke, giving the four-door 500 horses and 471 lb-ft of torque. Production is limited to 427 units total, 90 of which will be produced this year. All of those have already been spoken for at a heady $154,500 Australian dollars, including luxury tax. Buyers also get the opportunity to tour the cars' production facility, and get a letter from Tom Walkinshaw, who started HSV some 20 years ago. The "W" in the car's name is also a tribute to him. HSV says that the W427's angry fascia emphasizes the cooling needs of the 7.0L V8. We think it mostly tells drivers who catch it racing up in their rearview to simply move out of the way...or be swallowed whole. We hear the car runs best when fed a steady diet of FPVs.

A slew of new photos have dropped in conjunction with the car's production launch, all of which can be seen in the gallery below.

Gallery: 2008 HSV W427

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Bugatti releases new palette for Veyron Hermes

08/29/2008   [Original: Bugatti via Autoblog]
Category: Supercars, Bugatti, Brabus, Special/Limited Editions

Click above for hi-res gallery of the Bugatti Veyron Fbg par Hermes

We know what you're thinking, because we're in the same lamentable position ourselves: you'd totally order up that uber-exclusive Hermes edition Veyron, but you're not a big fan of the brown and tan paint scheme. Fortunately Bugatti has heard your cries, brother, and announced the availability of new color options for the Veyron Fbg.

The announcement actually came from Monterey but was quickly overshadowed, somewhat ironically, by the unveiling of the open-top Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport and the subsequent auction of its first example for $3.2 million. The unveiling of the new-tint Hermes Veyrons took place at the Quail motorsport gathering on Monterey Peninsula, where Bugatti revealed the four new color schemes available: "indigo blue and vermilion", "indigo blue and lime green", " black and garance red" and "Prussian blue and blue jean". We're not entirely sure what all these colors are, exactly, and given that Bugatti put them in quotation marks, we're not sure they're sure, either. They undoubtedly would have shown us pictures of all four, but given that these 1.5 million euro hyper-exotics are made to order and available only from the end of the year, we doubt examples of each color option have been made yet. Of course they all come decked out with the H-pattern grille, eight-spoke wheels, lavish calfskin interior and exclusive package of specially-made Hermes luggage.

Follow the jump for all the details, and check out the gallery below to see the new black and "garance red" Veyron Fbg par Hermes, which we like to call the "Autoblog Edition".

Gallery: New Colors: Bugatti Veyron Fbg par Hermes

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Autoblog Podcast #106

12/10/2008   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Podcasts, Government/Legal, Chrysler, Ford, GM, Earnings/Financials, Brabus, Opinion/Editorial

Has it really been a month of podcasts already? Alex Nunez and editor Neff join Chris and Dan for Autoblog Podcast Episode 106. Hilarity ensues as we cover the bailout (what else?) and try to touch on a couple other issues before finally deflating like a punctured balloon at the 64-minute mark. Enjoy, and remember to drop any feedback our way at podcast at autoblog dawt com.

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