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.
Mercedes-Benz has decided to provoke our curiosity once again over the next generation SMART fortwo. We've already seen a sand sculpture of it, as well as some mysterious detail shots that promote Coke, but today SMART has released a pair of brand new renderings (second shot after the jump) ahead of the Paris Motor Show at which the car will not debut. Word is it'll launch on its terms at a special event held later in the year. While little information is given about the new fortwo, SMART does say that it will be do everything the current fortwo can do - but a little better. That sounds to us like it will grow a smidge in a few key dimensions and feature a more powerful and efficient engine lineup. That is the trend these days, no?
When the fruity people at Del Monte closed their Pinson Valley distribution center in Alabama, they were left with 300k square-feet worth of warehouse space and a lot of unsold canned pears. Being in the market for a manufacturing center, Isuzu decided to pick up the facility with the intention of investing several million bucks to turn the warehouse into their newest North American commercial truck plant.
Over the next few years, 1,000 workers will be putting together medium- and full-size trucks using parts from outside sources. Isuzu hasn't set a date for the retrofitting or production to begin.
One interesting tidbit from the article in al.com, was that Isuzu may decide to build a smaller commercial truck for the U.S. market and has plans to introduce a four-ton truck into its lineup in 2009.
It's no secret that we're big fans of Top Gear, and it's good to hear that we're definitely not alone in loving the world's greatest motoring show. The waiting list to get a first-hand glimpse of the show being produced is an incredible 336k names deep, which translates to about a 21 year wait. That's enough people to fill England's new Wembley Stadium nearly four times, and for us Yanks, we greatly prefer Top Gear to soccer. With a constant flow of the best vehicles on earth, an endless array of clever new challenges, and the most entertaining show hosts in the biz, we don't think that list will shrink any time soon. We'd love to see the show live and in person, too, but at the current rate most of us would be members of the AARP by 2029. That is unless the Old Trafford can be used as the new Top Gear studio.
Despite the fact that Lotus seems to have the inside line on electric sportscars, longtime Porsche tuning firm Ruf has chosen the Cayman for its new electric supercar. Comparisons to the Tesla Roadster are sure to come up, and we're happy to oblige. Compared to the latest Tesla drivetrain, the Ruf is expected to debut with a bit less overall power (150kW compared to 185kW) but will have considerably more twisting force (650Nm versus 375Nm). In other words, if the Ruf were a hatchet, the Tesla may be a scalpal, so to speak. A lithium-ion battery pack of unknown output will provide power to the motor. We don't yet know if the Ruf will sport multiple gears, but it seems distinctly possible in order to attain its planned top speed of around 125 miles per hour. We'd bet that any comparisons between the two electric sportscars will end at price, as the Ruf is sure to command an even heftier sum than the $100k Tesla Roadster. We'll find out next month what that price is and if it's worth it. Uh never mind... of course it'll be worth it.
NOTE: the photo above is of the RUF CT3 supercar, which is not based on the Cayman but sure does look like it.
Click the image above for more high resolution photos of the YES! Roadster
The first time I ever walked into a casino, there was a BMW Z3 sitting on a turntable atop a bank of slot machines. All I needed were three red sevens and I could drive it right out of the Rio in Las Vegas. I played those slots exclusively because the prospect of a free BMW was too great to pass up, and as you probably guessed, I didn't win. Cars are a great draw on the casino floor, and the Seminole Casino in Coconut Creek, FL has quite the unique roadster to draw in gamblers.
The car in question is a YES! Roadster Turbo S, which is apparently the only model of its kind on US shores. The 415 horsepower, turbocharged ragtop, which is valued at over $100,000, is guaranteed to be drawn on January 29. The Turbo S weighs in at just over 2,000 pounds, with an aluminum space frame and a rear mounted 3.2L V6 driving the rear wheels. The German automaker claims 0-60 in 3.8 seconds and a 200 mph top speed. Does that make it worth the gamble for the chance to win? That's up to you, but we'd probably give it a spin given the chance. Hat tip to reader Mattro.
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The dynamic duo of Chris and Sam carry off Episode #133 of the Autoblog Podcast without a hitch. Though down a man, the pair didn't cheap out on topics or duration, it's the same podcast goodness. It kicks off with Hyundai's impressive showing in the recently released Initial Quality Survey results. From there, they hit Chrysler's RWD/FWD dilemma with its Sebring/Avenger replacement, the rumor that Mustangs could have had IRS for $100 per car, and reports of an Ecotec engine for the Buick LaCrosse. Keeping it on the Buick tip, spyshots of a Tri-Shield variant of the new 2010 Astra get mentioned. The nullification of all pre-bankruptcy liability claims against GM and Chrysler is next before talk settles briefly on Hyundai's 2010-on lineup and then turns to your questions. It almost seems like the Chris and Sam show is a juggernaut without that other guy. Thanks for listening, and please, keep your questions and comments rolling in to Podcast at Autoblog dot com.
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Saabs United procured some rendered versions of the coming Saab 9-5 that are purportedly from Saab itself. While computer renderings must be viewed with a few packets of salt sprinkled on the screen, if you compare the 9-5 sedan render with a spy shot of the rear end of the actual car, the similarities look promising.
The wagon rendering is simply too brutally sexy to be believed, and so -- only in order not to have our hopes dashed -- we refuse to believe it. If Saab did have the gumption to design such a car, and Koenigsegg does have the wherewithal to properly market it, then we might just have a proper Swedish car company on our hands again. The 9-5 sedan arrives at this year's Frankfurt Auto Show and goes on sale this year, with the wagon following next year.
Team efforts to bring hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to market have gone truly worldwide. An announcement today from Daimler, Ford, and Nissan reveals that the three companies are going to work together on a "common fuel cell system" that should "speed up availability" of H2 vehicles at lower costs. The target is 2017, which is two years later than fuel cell vehicles should be arriving from Toyota, Hyundai and, yes, Nissan. Still, the positive spin on today's announcement is that the collaboration should "lead to launch of world's first affordable, mass-market fuel cell electric vehicles." We shall see. After all, the long-running joke is that hydrogen is the fuel of tomorrow, and always will be - the press release even notes that "together, Daimler, Ford and Nissan have more than 60 years of cumulative experience developing FCEVs [fuel cell electric vehicles]."
Still, among the three companies involved in the deal, Daimler has the most advanced (public) hydrogen fuel cell vehicle program, sending out lots of F-Cell vehicles for pilot programs as well as testing H2 technologies in things like buses for Davos delegates.
The agreement announced today involves both sharing technology, as well as "help[ing to] define global specifications and component standards." The shared tech will be a fuel cell stack, fuel cell system and "other FCEV components" that each company could use in its own vehicles.
Continue reading Daimler, Ford and Nissan to collaborate on fuel cell tech
Episode #385 of the Autoblog podcast is here, and this week, Dan Roth, Steven Ewing and Michael Harley talk about the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans, Tesla opening its patents, and Ford lowering fuel economy ratings for several vehicles. We also had a chance to chat with Jonathon Buckley, the host of Translogic here on Autoblog. We start with what's in the garage and finish up with some of your questions, and for those of you who hung with us live on our UStream channel, thanks for taking the time. Check out the new rundown below with times for topics, and you can follow along down below with our Q&A. Thanks for listening!
Autoblog Podcast #385:
Le Mans 2014
Tesla opens patents
Ford lowers MPG ratings
In the Autoblog Garage:
2015 GMC Yukon XL
2014 Bentley Continental GT V8 S Convertible
2014 Honda Civic Si
Hosts: Dan Roth, Steven Ewing, Michael Harley
Guests: Jonathon Buckley
Intro and Garage - 00:00
Jonathon Buckley - 24:12
LeMans - 43:21
Tesla Patents - 52:07
Ford Fuel Economy - 59:30
Q&A - 01:10:36
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