Tuesday, August 28, 2012

For when Zombies attack! Get back with a 6x6 F250

This is just the thing for a zombie apocalypse. What's better than a diesel powered, 6x6 driven, quad headlight, Ford F250 crew cab for you and your family to cruise in? I spotted this behemoth on the back of a flat bed trailer parked on the side of the road outside of Zelienople Pennsylvania. No one was available at the shop it was outside of to get details as to what exactly this truck was built for. A few friends on facebook have said they've seen it at mud bogs and tractor pulls in the area, but no one has ever seen it run. Here's what we can tell though. Whoever built it, really took their time to create something that doesn't really look home built. The bed has been professionally finished to look like a factory piece. Same with the grille and second set of headlights which instantly make you think of a pickup from the fictitious "Wagon Queen" brand from the National Lampoon movies. Even to the point of adding the fender and hood edges from the donor truck to make a finished front fascia. They were likely added for height limitations for lights so the truck can be driven on the road.

The body appears to be resting on a military style 6x6 chassis and and powered by likely the same diesel engine from the view I had through the fender well. And of course there's the air horn trumpets and the twin giant fuel tanks mounted in between the axles and the the twin big rig exhaust stacks in the bed. The truck also appears to have an air suspension added to raise and lower the truck. When I initially spotted this truck I first thought it was an old monster truck, and then an F150 mounted to a big rig frame, but closer inspection revealed the 6x6 chassis.  I'm trying to dig up some more details on this truck as it's just too cool to look away from.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

GT-R-powered Nissan Juke-R lines up against Porsche 911 GT2 RS

The insane automotive concoction that is the Juke R has been doing its thing, beating the doors off supercars, or at the very least giving them a run for their collective money.

If you recall, this Nissan creation may have the body of a nimble runabout crossover, but it rides on a hacked-up GT-R chassis. With its fire-breathing 485-horsepower twin-turbo V6 and stupendously advanced all-wheel-drive system, the Juke R is Godzilla in black sheep's clothing.

To see where this high-powered grocery-getter really stacks up in the supercar world, Car and Driver matched the Juke-R head-to-head with one of the best in the game; the Porsche 911 GT2 RS. Car and Driver European correspondent Jethro Bovingdon hopped behind the wheel of the mad crossover first. In Bovingdon's words "everywhere you look, and everything you touch is GT-R, but you are in a Juke and about two feet higher." He is delightfully pleased with the ride, and says its even more aggressive than the Juke-R, due to the short wheelbase.

Bovingdon point to the extra weight as a potential issue in high-speed runs, but concedes that the Juke-R is "a massive amount of fun."

By comparison, the 911 GT2 RS is a stripped-down, rear-wheel-drive, 611-horsepower monster, operated via a traditional six-speed manual. Its a purist's car, stacked up against a high-tech, all-wheel-drive Frankenstein.

The GT2 RS, in comparison to the Juke R, can be unruly in wet conditions. With traction control off, effort was made to warm up the tires. Did it pay off? You're just going to have to watch the video below to find out which car is faster in the C/D test.

From AutoBlog.Com

#BMW Revives Scooter Ambitions As #Audi Revs Up #Ducati @BloombergNews

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) has long made powerful motorcycles such as the 193-horsepower S 1000 RR that can be seen screaming down the autobahn. Now, as arch-rival Audi roars into the bike market after buying Italy’s Ducati, BMW is looking to update its two-wheeler image with scooters designed to appeal to a more urbane rider.

BMW is reviving its scooter ambitions nine years after it discontinued the C1, a model with a roof to keep riders dry in rainy weather. The new line is a far cry from underpowered scooters of yore, featuring speed, power, and creature comforts such as heated seats and grips.

“The new scooters offer us a massive sales opportunity,” said Heiner Faust, sales chief for BMW motorcycle. The idea is to attract what the company calls “sleepers” -- car owners who rode motorbikes in their youth. “The maxi scooters are the ideal products to activate them,” Faust said.

The expansion into scooters maneuvers BMW -- which began building motorcycles in 1923, five years before its first car -- away from Ducati. The Italian brand, which enthusiasts consider to be the two-wheel equivalent of Lamborghini, competes at the top end of the market with models such as the 28,690 euro ($35,500) 1199 Panigale S Tricolore.

Since Audi bought Ducati in July, Volkswagen AG (VOW)’s luxury nameplate has pushed its association with the Italian cycle maker to boost its sporty appeal. This summer, it tied a promotion to the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado and it’s sponsoring a contest in which the winner will get a free trip to California to drive a souped up Audi and ride a Ducati bike.

‘Grandfather’s Generation’

Sales of powered two-wheelers in Europe tumbled 38 percent over the past five years to 1.72 million motorcycles and mopeds in 2011, according to data from the region’s motorcycle manufacturers association ACEM. Deliveries in the first half dropped 13 percent for the industry.

BMW hasn’t been immune to the slump. Its motorcycle sales, including the Husqvarna brand, fell 4.2 percent in the second quarter. Still, the unit managed an operating profit margin of 11.7 percent of sales, edging ahead of the auto operations’ 11.6 percent return.

“Young people associate motorcycles with their grandfather’s generation,” said Stefan Bratzel, director of the Center of Automotive Management at the University of Applied Sciences in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany. “The manufacturers have to move away from the old motorcycle image and offer innovative two-wheelers to make riding fashionable again. This is a Herculean task.”

Faster Than 3-Series

To counter the decline and reach its target of surpassing its 2011 sales, BMW is rolling out the C600 Sport and C650 GT scooters, which went on sale in Europe in July. The 60- horsepower machines have automatic transmissions and a top speed of 175 kilometers (109 miles) per hour.

The lighter and cheaper of the two, the C600 Sport, can accelerate to 100 kilometers per hour in 7.1 seconds -- faster than a BMW 3-series sedan -- and starts at 11,100 euros in Germany, 1,250 euros more than the base price for the VW Up! compact car. BMW plans to deliver at least 10,000 scooters next year -- equivalent to about 9 percent of the company’s motorcycle sales in 2011.

In 2014, BMW is planning a further step away from the high- powered image of its highway bikes with an electric scooter. The model, called the C evolution, will use the same lithium-ion battery cells expected to power the German company’s i3 city car, which is due to go on sale next year.

Electric Scooters

In that market, BMW will face competition from Daimler AG (DAI)’s urban Smart brand, which will introduce an electric version of the fortwo car later this year. The company makes an electric- powered bicycle that costs 2,849 euros ($3,507) in Germany and will go on sale in the U.S. next year. In 2014, Smart plans to add an e-scooter to its lineup.

“E-scooters are an opportunity to test the technology on a large scale,” said Richard Viereckl, a partner with consulting company Management Engineers in Dusseldorf. To lower the average fuel consumption of their fleets and meet tighter environmental standards, manufacturers “will need e-mobility.”

This article was found on Bloomberg.Com


Alright, I am going to be completely honest. I have never been a fan of the wide body craze. I have never been impressed with any body kits until now. Prior Design creates some truly amazing pieces of work and does it tastefully, not like a lot of the trash we see unpainted and hung crooked on a 1981 civic. 

Check out this Mini Cooper S. 
This is the most aggressive Mini I have ever seen.
I would drive this.

Gallardo PD-L800 Widebody Prior Design @PriorDesignNA

Beautiful wide body kit from Prior Design. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Today is the 115th anniversary of Ransom Eli Olds’ founding of Olds Motors Works, which later became Oldsmobile. Bought in 1908 by GM and dissolved in 2004, it was the oldest continuously operating automaker in the US. The global auto industry landscape has certainly changed since 1897, but the spirit of innovation of pioneering brands lives on today.

Today eight out of the fifty Best Global Green Brands 2012 in Interbrand’s report were automobile companies from Japan, Germany, the USA and South Korea. All of these brands were in the top 25. The same creative passion that led Olds to complete his first gasoline-powered vehicle in 1896 and begin mass-producing his curved-dash automobile in 1902 using a progressive assembly-line system, is unlocking new approaches to design with sustainability in mind.

Once considered the experimental division of GM, Oldsmobile introduced the “safety automatic transmission” in 1938 and introduced its revolutionary V-8 Rocket Engine, often credited with being the first muscle car, in 1949. Today brands are garnering reputations as great experimenters and problem solvers, designing cars with smaller carbon footprints.

Toyota topped the BGGB 2012 list, recognized for its “unparalleled sustainability leadership” and demonstrating that “sustainability is deeply ingrained in the company’s culture.” Hybrid and Toyota’s Prius have become synonymous for many consumers, helping shape a perception of the brand as cutting-edge.

Honda, VW, BMW, Ford, Mercedes, Hyundai and Nissan also made the top 25 with innovations in waste, emissions, and toxicity reduction in production, process and products. Nissan’s Global Head of Digital Marketing DeLu Jackson spoke with Interbrand about its commitment to eco-friendly innovation.

Olds had a vision of focusing on small cars, but his board of directors and financial backer wanted to build large luxury cars. Olds left to found Reo Motor Car Company.

The term “luxury car” has become ubiquitous today, as has the term “luxury” itself, as discussed in Interbrand Milan’s Managing Director Manfredi Ricca and European Director Rebecca Robins’ book, Meta-luxury: Brands and the Culture of Excellence.

Ricca and Robins note, “As we have seen, the term ‘luxury,’ has been overexposed, overstretched, deformed and diluted, and as a result is now worn out beyond recovery.” In defining meta-luxury and clarifying its distinction from luxury, the authors note the importance of key elements. Focus is one of these pillars of meta-luxury.

“After all, most of the brands known today as luxury brands originate historically from the founder’s vision and dream to represent the pinnacle with regard to a certain field,” they contend. “…The difference is, in fact, between those brands for whom this commitment to excellence is merely the past, and those for which it is the constant future.”

They note that brands such as Rolls Royce had their origins in dedicated focus, “stemming from the passionate engineering and design talent of Sit Henry Royce,” which continues today. The brand “retains that focus and has refrained from widening its offering to include other products inspired by an undoubtedly profound and universally recognized heritage.”

Despite global economic uncertainty, meta-luxury brands weathered the crisis, from explorer yachts to French fashion houses. Luxury car brands like Porsche are experiencing booms despite the financial woes in Europe and some brands have discovered new opportunities during the crisis.

On the flip side, the small, economic cars of Olds’ vision have been hot sellers for a number of global car brands and June was a very good month for American car sales.

Chrysler, as brandchannel reported, has announced a new Customer Service Initiative as it looks to overhaul how it works with its dealers to encourage sales. With solid sales figures and a healthier dealer base, Chrysler says it’s confident in its new program.

Noted in the brandchannel piece, Fiat’s purchase of a 35% stake in Chrysler was one of the contributing factors to its current health. Fiat itself is seeing significant success in its sales in the US, surpassing predictions.

As Jez Frampton noted in his foreword to Meta-luxury, “The recent economic trials and tribulations force us to look hard at our values, and what we value. In times like these, we anchor ourselves to unquestionable truths and authenticity, and we look for objects, experiences and stories that remind us of what we value as individuals. Some brands manage to reflect these truths.”

While Oldsmobile is gone, Olds’ vision for innovation and value left a lasting impact on the auto industry. Those brands consistently creating solid value whether meta-luxury or economy, those innovating in sustainability and those willing to try new ways to service their customers are thriving.

Amy Edel-Vaughn is Interbrand's Community Manager.

Article from Interbrand.Com

Postmortem #Luxury : Maybach meets its maker - Why Daimler's Ultra-Luxe Brand Couldn't Compete With Bentley And Rolls

What was intended to make a big splash in the premium luxury car market has ended with a dull thud. Almost exactly a decade after it lifted the first of the big cars into New York by helicopter, Daimler AG has pulled the plug on its Maybach marque. And the odds are that few, if any, of the affluent motorists it was targeting will even notice the brand's departure.

Maybach was intended to go up against the most elite nameplates in the automotive market: Rolls-Royce and Bentley. But, in hindsight, it appears that Daimler took hubris to a new level believing that it could simply invent a new brand that would be taken seriously by the sort of buyers who want the Spirit of Ecstasy or Flying B hood ornaments on their cars.

Of course, it didn't help that the parent of Mercedes-Benz thought it could get away with using an outdated platform and then gussy it up with such features as a crystal perfume atomizer that would automatically give the car a spritz every 15 minutes.

The Maybach brand actually did have a once-glorious history. The original company was founded in 1909, just three years after Charles Rolls and Henry Royce came together, and a decade before the upstart W.O. Bentley arrived on the scene.

In its original incarnation, the company was known as Luftfahrzeug-Motorenbau GmbH, and it produced engines for Zeppelin airships. But by 1919, Wilhelm Maybach's factory began rolling out some of the biggest and most elegant products ever to grace German roads. It continued through the early days of the Second World War before its plants were turned over to tank production. It never got back into the car business.

Not for 60 more years, anyway. But Maybach presented an appealing option for Daimler AG – actually, DaimlerChrysler back in the days just before the start of the new Millennium. The parent of Mercedes-Benz was the odd man out in a three-way bidding war for the Rolls-Royce Motor Co. when it was sold off by its British parent. In a confusing whir, Rolls landed with BMW, Bentley with Volkswagen AG. And, not to be left out, Daimler decided to revive the ancient Maybach.

A concept was shown in 1997; the production model, however, did not arrive until July 10, 2002, when the very first car was shipped to the States aboard the old QE2. Shortly after dawn, as the liner sailed into New York Harbor, a big Sikorsky cargo lifter swooped down, hooked up to a cargo container on the ship's deck and shot off for Manhattan, a "Maybach" banner flapping underneath.

Or, at least trying to flap. It never properly unfurled, perhaps an omen of things to come.

"We are not just presenting the car, but the brand. After this, the world will know Maybach is back," proclaimed Juergen Hubbert, the longtime head of Mercedes. But if potential luxury car buyers knew, they apparently didn't care. The ever-optimistic Hubbert, long known as "Dr. Mercedes," confidently predicted the brand would sell 1,000, perhaps even 2,000 cars, annually. In the end, Maybach struggled to find buyers for 100. In its entire decade run it barely sold as many as Daimler had hoped for in a single year.

Of course, the upper end of the luxury car market hasn't matched the optimistic expectations that abounded at the turn of the new Millennium. Back then, the industry was selling perhaps 7,000 vehicles a year priced at more than $150,000 – more than half carrying the prancing pony of the Ferrari brand. Hubbert and others anticipated sales would surge as more competition entered the market, perhaps reaching 25,000 or more.

The demographics seemed to support that expectation. The number of global billionaires was growing faster than Apple or Google stock and, certainly, they would all seem to want a Rolls, Bentley, Maybach – or something more exotic, like a Ferrari or Lamborghini – in their 10-car garages. At least, that's how it played out on paper.

Ultra-premium sales did grow, Bentley nudging the 10,000-annual mark, at its peak. But the segment, overall, failed to deliver. Why? That's anyone's guess. Tom Purves, former head of Rolls, once cautioned that many potential buyers were reluctant to be seen in something that exclusive. In some markets that would make them a target of kidnappers or terrorists. In others, it would be embarrassing, he said, to roll up to a factory you're about to close driving a Rolls-Royce.

Maybach had its own set of problems. Despite its once-proud heritage, the Double-M hood ornament simply didn't carry the gravitas of a Flying B or Spirit of Ecstasy, for one thing. And then there were the questionable technical decisions Daimler made in preparing its first Maybach models. Instead of developing a unique, state-of-the-art platform, the German maker lifted the prior-generation S-Class architecture. True, Maybach tried to overcome that deficit with fancy features like the M62's business jet-style back seat and a trick glass roof that could be switched from clear to opaque with the touch of a button.

But even that cut crystal atomizer in the recent Zeppelin model couldn't make the Maybach smell sweet enough to get many one-percenters into its showrooms. By late 2011, Daimler had had enough. The maker announced it would phase out the brand – which it has now done quicker than expected with last month's quiet end to Maybach production.

Mercedes' new U.S. boss, Steve Cannon, is optimistic the brand can cover the loss of the ultra-luxury line with additional versions of the all-new S-Class coming next year, including the S600 Pullman slated for 2014. He admits a few of those existing Maybach owners might go elsewhere when it's time for a trade-in. But considering how few were ever sold, it's likely Daimler won't even notice.

Written by Paul A. Eisenstein
Paul is Publisher of TheDetroitBureau.com and a 30-year veteran of the automotive beat. His editorials bring his unique perspective and deep understanding of the auto world to Autoblog readers on a regular basis.

Article from AutoBlog.Com

Friday, August 17, 2012

Ford unveils 2013 GT500 tribute to Carroll Shelby

Ol' Carroll Shelby may no longer be with us. But his name and legend (good or bad) lives on. As part of this weeks events in Monterey, California, Friends of Carroll Shelby has unveiled this special four wheeled tribute to Shelby in the form of the 2013 Shelby GT500 Cobra. Packing the punch of 663 horsepower, a Whipple supercharger ups the output to over 850 horsepower.

Ok, enough with the horsepower. How about the trick wide body thanks to Ice Nine Group of Detroit, Michigan. And of course there's the classic Shelby GT350 hoot scoop and a few other retro Mustang touches. Then there's the 20x10 and 20x13 wheels to fill out the wheel wells. Now I'm not usually a fan of 20 inch wheels, but they just seem to really work on this car. The Cobra was painted classic Shelby Guardsman Blue with Wimbledon White dual racing stripes, one of my all time favorite color combinations and really shows off the lines of the new Mustang.

Now of course, this car is technically a concept car. I wouldn't expect to see this on dealer showrooms any time soon.

Source: Ford Motor Company

Press Release:
MONTEREY, Calif., Aug. 17, 2012 – Friends of Carroll Shelby, including Ford Motor Company, Shelby American, Ford Racing and many others have built a unique 2013 Shelby GT500 Cobra as a tribute to the late Carroll Shelby.
Ford is also announcing a renamed road at its Product Development Center in Dearborn, Mich., as a tribute to Shelby as well. Cobra has been the consistent performance label as Shelby worked with Ford for most of the last 60 years, and Shelby was instrumental in the creation of Ford performance vehicles including Cobras, the GT40 and Mustangs since the mid-1960s.
2013 Shelby GT500 Cobra
The unique tribute car was unveiled by Ford Motor Company board member Edsel Ford II, Ford’s group vice president for sales and marketing Jim Farley, and Shelby American president John Luft at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion where Cobra is the marque of show for 2012.
“Even at 89 years of age, Carroll was an inspiration to us all,” says Farley. “This year marks the 50th anniversary of the original Shelby Cobra. The one-off car we have created represents the very idea he had about making the 2013 Shelby GT500 into a true Cobra.”
Using the 662-horsepower 2013 Shelby GT500 as a foundation, “Friends of Carroll” created the one-of-a-kind 2013 Shelby GT500 Cobra wide-body Mustang that now generates more than 850 horsepower with the help of a Ford Racing 4.0-liter Whipple supercharger.
Putting that much power to the ground requires plenty of traction, so the 13-inch-wide rear wheels are wrapped in massive 345-section high-performance tires for extra grip.
Ford Motor Company teamed up with Shelby American for several key components on the Carroll Shelby tribute car. Shelby American provided a specially designed hood, new rear wide-body kit, Shelby Wilwood brakes and new 20x13-inch rear and 20x10-inch front wheels. The bodywork is finished in the same Guardsman Blue with Wimbledon White stripes that graced so many of the Cobra roadsters built in the 1960s.
“Carroll Shelby changed the performance world forever,” says Luft. “And while he was proud of Shelby American’s achievements, Carroll was far more interested in the next car we would build. You will find the spirit and influence of Carroll Shelby in every future vehicle we build just as you’ll find it in the rear wide-body kit and hood integrated into the 2013 Shelby GT500 Cobra.”
“You might also know that Carroll was a philanthropist, noted for supporting causes that moved him,” adds Farley. “In that spirit, this car will be taken on tour around the country, and hopefully will be used in a special way at the end of its tour –  a way Carroll would appreciate.”
Before the 2013 Shelby GT500 Cobra hits the road, it will be shown at the Ford display in the expo area at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion this weekend.
Carroll Shelby Way
For more than half a century, Carroll Shelby inspired designers and engineers throughout the extended Ford family. As a teenager, Edsel Ford II worked for Shelby doing a variety of jobs including cleaning transmission parts.
Countless engineers crossed paths with Shelby over the years, from those who crafted the original GT40 to those working on the 2013 Shelby GT500. Up until his death, Carroll Shelby remained committed to developing great performance cars. Even at the age of 88, he spent more than five hours driving the most powerful production Mustang ever during engineering validation sessions at Sebring and the Arizona Proving Grounds in late 2011.
During and after test sessions, Carroll spent hours discussing with engineers what he liked and what needed improvement. No one who worked with Carroll will ever forget it, and his lessons in vehicle dynamics will be passed along to coming generations.
Ford product development engineers now will get a daily reminder of Carroll’s way as they traverse the newly renamed Carroll Shelby Way through the heart of the Product Development Center in Dearborn, Mich., to the entrance of the proving ground.
“Sadly, Carroll Shelby is no longer with us, but his spirit lives on with the designers and engineers he interacted with over the years and he will continue to influence Ford performance cars for many years to come,” says Farley.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

@Interbrand and @NissanNews come together to talk about digital #Branding

This article is a conversation with Delu Jackson who is Nissan's Global Head of Digital Marketing and Social Media. Or in other words he has one of the best jobs in the digital world, or at least for me. Combining my love for both the automotive industry and the branding industry. 

I thought I would share just these small snippets from the article, as something to think about. I will end up writing a blog post from my reactions and thoughts but with all good things, it will take some time. 

This is a screenshot captured from Interbrand's IQ "Digital Issue" which can be found at 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Volt Executive Tony Posawatz Is New CEO Of Fisker Automotive

In an unexpected announcement, struggling startup electric-car maker Fisker Automotive this morning named Tony Posawatz its new CEO and President.

He replaces Tom LaSorda, himself appointed CEO only in late February. LaSorda will leave the company but remain available as an advisor.

Posawatz spent more than four years in executive positions on the team that developed the ground-breaking Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car.

Six weeks ago, he retired from 32 years at General Motors, and few expected him to jump right back into the car business.

But aside from GM, Fisker is the sole carmaker now selling a range-extended electric vehicle (or series hybrid). On the basis of technology alone, his new position makes sense.

In the words of company cofounder Henrik Fisker, the appointment is a "continuing strengthening of the management team."

Posawatz faces two challenges, both immediate and both daunting.

First, he must clean up the mess around the launch of the 2012 Fisker Karma luxury sport sedan, which finally struggled into the market late last year.

The Karma has been plagued by one recall, two service upgrades, a slow production ramp-up, and quality flaws both large and small.

Also, battery packs in hundreds of Karmas had to be replaced following a recall by lithium-ion cell maker A123 Systems.

The latest challenge is the second fire within three months in a Karma, a car of which about 1,000 have been built, according to Fisker.

READ MORE: 2012 Fisker Karma Is Real, But Will Company Survive?

Second, he must plan and execute the development of the Fisker Atlantic, the company's follow-on vehicle--and the one it expects to sell in enough volume to make the company profitable enough to survive.

The Atlantic was unveiled in April at the New York Auto Show, but its schedule too has slipped. It will have a second generation of the company's powertrain.

As yet, there is no firm production timetable--and the Wilmington, Delaware, factory in which it was to be built may be mothballed until a third Fisker vehicle line emerges.

If the company survives until then, that is.

But Posawatz, said respected electric-car advocate Chelsea Sexton, "loves this sort of underdog challenge, and the potential to do cool stuff."

A "car guy" through and through, he enjoys the demands of doing the unexpected--and occasionally the impossible.

"I couldn't think of any other program where I'd be having as much fun" as on the Volt, he said in a 2009 interview, just a few months after GM had declared bankruptcy and gone through a grueling Federal restructuring.

"I mean, the whole team is working hard, but we're having fun."

Much of the Volt team, Sexton said, has "seemed bored after working for years with his hair on fire" and she suspects Posawatz felt similarly. He once termed the Volt project a "startup inside GM," so the scale of Fisker's challenges may be familiar.

Sexton views the addition of Posawatz to the Fisker team as a huge positive for the beleaguered company.

"It may seem bizarre at first" that he would go from GM--where he'd spent virtually his whole career--to the struggling startup in southern California, she said.

But, "Tony's industry respect, experience, and connection to top talent in the electric-car world will help Fisker more than dollars would at this point."

In her opinion, it's a good fit. "The job totally suits Tony's personality and his place in life right now," she said.

"He's so well respected, and Fisker is seen as so far gone, that no one will blame him if it can't be saved."

"And, people will go to work for Tony who would never join Fisker on their own," Sexton added. "His first priority needs to be recruiting that talent and cultivating the stakeholder relationships that have long been lacking with Fisker."

More familiar faces from the original Volt development team and the industry at large may well join Posawatz, she suggested, once he's situated.

Meanwhile, so much for Posawatz's stated goal of "unwinding near the ocean, reading, writing, thinking, and enjoying the activity and time with family."

He's already at work in Fisker's Irvine, California, offices this week.

From GreenCarReports.Com

How Audi Scored a Starring Role in '50 Shades of Grey'

Luxury Messaging, Sales Success Helping Car Brand Drive More Pop Culture References

If you've read the "50 Shades of Grey" erotic trilogy, then you know that Audis make an appearance throughout the books nearly as much as sex toys do.

Given that few other brands appear in the books, Audi's feat of securing a starring role for not just one of its models, but for several different cars (in addition to the A3, others that make appearances are the R8 Spyder, and the Q7 sport-utility vehicle) is pretty astounding. Even better, it was all for free.

Audi told Ad Age last week that not only did it not pay a dime to be part of the book series, they had no involvement or knowledge of the tie-in beforehand and were stunned when they found out about the write-in of the cars once "50 Shades" began to pick up buzz.

The books are estimated to have sold over 30 million e-book and print copies in English alone, with book rights sold in several countries. And the series -- which has become a sensation particularly among middle-aged women, earning the nickname "Mommy Porn" -- is also believed to be one of the fastest-selling paperback tomes of all time, though it still pales to J.K. Rowling's blockbuster "Harry Potter" series, which has sold upwards of 400 million copies total.

What's more unusual is that the books' author, E.L. James, isn't even an Audi owner or huge fan herself. Her director of publicity at Random House Group, Russell Perreault, told Ad Age that "She does not drive an Audi. She drives a Mini and her husband drives a Volkswagon Touareg."

So how'd it happen? In a rare instance, it was a totally organic branded-placement that came about merely because Audi stayed true to its brand positioning as the high-end, luxury car of choice for users who want both design and performance.

It's a standard that the carmaker has focused on achieving over time, and something that's underscored by third-party praise, with Audi taking home award after award. Earlier this year, Audi received Kelley Blue Book's highest honor, topping all other luxury brands, when the 2012 Audi A5 was selected as best luxury car, and 2012 Audi Q7 chosen as best luxury sport utility. More recently, it was named the Highest Premium Brand for the Autobytel and AutoPacific 2012 Ideal Vehicle Awards, and swept the category for "aspirational luxury car."

Rob Donnell, the founder-president of Los Angeles-based Brand Arc, a branded entertainment firm that has a lot of experience doing branded deals for cars, such as Toyota, believes this is a rare instance of a branded tie-in that is driven by product attributes and how they weave into a story's plot.

"It was probably purely character-driven," said Mr. Donnell. "Cars always define character quite precisely, and that's usually one of the ways [brands] can get in early" on books, TV shows or movies. When deals can sprout up organically and later lead to a paid arrangement between a brand and an entertainment property can be ideal. But it's not so common these days, he said. "You see this less more so these days than five years ago because everyone knows that money is to be had [from brands]."

Says the female protaganist of "50 Shades," the 22-year-old virginal Anastasia Steele, after being gifted an Audi A3 coupe by her rich and domineering boyfriend, Christian Grey:

"I can drive the Audi in high heels! At 12:55 p.m. precisely, I pull into the garage at Escala and park in bay five. How many bays does he own? The Audi SUV and R8 are there, along with two smaller Audi SUVs...hmm. I check my seldom-worn mascara in the light-up vanity mirror on my visor. Didn't have one of these in the Beetle."
For Audi, the "50 Shades of Grey" unpaid placement comes as its sales are on the upswing, increasing in the double-digits. It set an all-time U.S. July sales record with 28% increase -- which represented 11,707 vehicles -- which also was the brand's 19th consecutive month of record sales.

The company says it doesn't have any data that proves that it's reaching more women or seeing an uptick as a result of "50 Shades," but they're convinced that the halo effect has been and will be pretty significant.

"As Audi continues to generate momentum in the U.S. market, we're seeing our products utilized more and more within popular culture," said Loren Angelo, general manager of Brand Communications. "Those organic results are always a sign that a brand is generating real cultural relevance. Obviously, the runaway success of this series has introduced Audi to consumers who might not have previously been thinking of the brand and that certainly has a positive impact for us."

It's pretty great visibility at a time when the carmaker -- for the first time in years -- doesn't even have a chief marketing officer. Earlier this year its CMO of six years, Scott Keogh, was promoted to president and the company has yet to name a new CMO.

It should be noted that during the course of the three books, a couple other cars get mentions too; the Saab 9-3 was purchased for Ana after her Audi A3 was damaged, and her best friend Katherine drives a Mercedes CLK. But the Audi gets most of the love, and that's evident with how the Audi has crept into the pop culture and social media memes around "50 Shades of Grey."

On fan sites for the books the Audis are mentioned, and Pinterest pages dedicated to "50 Shades" have pinned images of the cars.

The Edgewater Hotel in Seattle, one of the cities where much of the books take place, even created a promotion to bait consumers inspired by the books that includes waterfront accommodations, champagne and a demo drive of an Audi through a partnership with a local car dealership.

While that sort of attention's been great for the brand, the real potential lies in the possibility of Audi being written into the forthcoming film version of "50 Shades of Grey." A couple years ago, Volvo milked its tie-in with the tween vampire saga "Twilight", creating a viral-video campaign by EuroRSCG and promotional giveaways.

And Audi, which in the past has been willing to pay big bucks to be a part of big entertainment events, such as the Super Bowl and "Iron Man 2," might be willing to pay up going forward.

Universal and Focus Features bought the rights to Ms. James' trilogy for $5 million, and the producers behind "The Social Network," Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti, are also signed on. Ms. James has said it's too early for casting, but the most likely one to get a role at this point is Audi.

Brand Arc's Mr. Donnell predicts the movie will likely not veer from the brand that's been written into the books.

We were pitching a movie and the book had the car written in as a different car and the filmmakers decided they wanted to stay true to the book," he recalled. "'50 Shades of Grey' has been such a sensation -- I think my wife read all three books in a week -- that when you know you have such a dedicated audience who are going to look at the film with the scrutiny, it's more likely than not the filmmakers will say let's keep it the way it is."

From Advertising Age


Pagani,  A company that I admire beyond that of any of the Ferrari's and the 
Lamborghini's ever produced. With their ideology of truly creating the ultimate for the sake of driving the craftsmanship and engineering to the levels of near perfection. The Pagani is a brand the drives the business, and not the other way around. Pagani's culture in itself is based on the quest for the absolute. It is about the culture of excellence. 

From a conversation in "Meta-Luxury, Brands and the Culture of Excellence" 
"We are inspired by one principle and that is Leonardo da Vinci's belied that art and science can, and should, go hand in hand. All we do revolved around this. "  Horacio Pagani


San Cesario sul Panaro, Modena, Italy. Geneva, Switzerland. March 4th 2012
  •   Pagani Huayra production ramping up
  •   Deliveries in Europe and Asia
  •   New Pagani quality control management
  •   New production facilities operational in 2012
  •   Development for the Pagani Huayra U.S. certification on track

    2011 has been a very important year for Pagani. The success of the launch of the new Huayra, after 7 years of hard work, has been rewarded with over 85 confirmed orders. The targets for production, turnover and profits have been achieved.
    The European version has been certified with extraordinary results regarding the targets for safety and emissions; the latter success is shared with Mercedes-AMG. The Pagani Huayra has the lowest CO2 emissions and fuel consumption of any 12-cylinder sportscar. The 700.000 km of Dynamic tests have been completed in a variety of climatic conditions with 5 prototypes, have confirmed the expectations regarding reliability and performance that Pagani Automobili and its technical partners set out to achieve.

    Together with the Euro 5 emission certification in November 2011 and the continuing work on the US homologation, Pagani has also implemented a new management system that redefines the term of quality: the Pagani quality method. Including some of the most severe procedures derived from the aerospace industry, the Pagani quality method expands beyond the technical and technological perfection and includes the artistic and design quality. Quality is born with the drawing, with shape, before reaching the technology. Art and science must walk together, hand in hand.

    “In 2012 25 Huayras will see the light of day, another 40 will follow in 2013. The first deliveries will be made in April. The Pagani Huayra represents a global project for Pagani Automobili. The Pagani dealership family has grown in 2011 and 2012 with new dealerships in Chile, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Thailand, the United Kingdom and in the United States, Los Angeles, Miami and San Francisco. Nonetheless Pagani is very strict about safeguarding the exclusivity of its small volume production in the respective markets.”

    --  Alberto Giovanelli, head of Sales at Pagani Automobili.

    “We are very enthusiastic about the public’s reception of the newborn Pagani Huayra. It has always been our intent to unite art and technology and our customers and car enthusiasts were able to see these values that accompany us every day in the Huayra. All this is further confirmation of our approach to combine art and science by the means of meticulous research.”

    -- Horacio Pagani, founder and chief designer at Pagani Automobili. 

    he completion of the new production facilities, already partly operational and hosting the development department for the past two years, will be completed in 2012, and will allow the company to meet the increased demand coming from Pagani’s new markets: China, India, Japan, Taiwan and the United States of America.

    Plans for the expansion have been extended to allow the construction of a larger state of the art Research and Development facility for innovative concepts as well as a new laboratory for advanced composites. This new final project has 40% additional factory surface, compared to the previous plans made public by Pagani Automobili in 2010.

    Pagani Automobili has always made extensive use of advanced composites in its tailor made pieces. Developing new materials and production techniques has allowed improving safety, lowering the weight and consequently lowering emissions on its vehicles.

    The introduction of the Pagani Huayra in the United States of America has been received with great enthusiasm and the strong demand from this territory confirms the efforts of Pagani Automobili. The first US spec Pagani Huayras, certified according to the highest US safety as well as California’s emission standards, will be delivered in 2013.
    Zonda R track program

    In 2011 a dedicated team of mechanics, engineers and test drivers, has followed the privileged Zonda R owners over the world. This program will be carried on. The Zonda R has been a laboratory to test components, technologies and new solutions that have then been integrated in the Pagani Huayra. The research and development activities will continue in 2012, backed up by the work of our technical partners AMG, Aspa, Brembo, MHG and Pirelli.

    The last 5 units of the Zonda R will be built in 2012, completing the limited production run of 15 vehicles.

    - The Pagani Family & Press Office -
    For further information about this press release please contact:

    Luca Venturi. Public Relations
    luca.venturi@pagani.com +39 059 4739 235

    You Tube www.youtube.com/paganiautomobili 
    Facebook - www.facebook.com/paganiautomobili 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Bad Personal Experiences with Turbos

One of my very bad turbo experiences

I have officially owned three turbocharged vehicles up to this point in life. In reality I have some complex emotions about turbochargers, which are mostly negative in nature. Allow me to explain.

The first real experience I had with a turbocharged vehicle was when my oldest brother bought a 1997 Eagle Talon TSi. It came with all-wheel-drive and a large hump in the hood that supposedly was put there to make room for the turbocharger. Through the Talon's force-fed setup, it was able to produce 210 horsepower, making it a pretty fun and sporty car to drive. About a year later I was riding with my brother one hot summer night in Tempe, Arizona when steam started pouring out from under the Talon's hood. He pulled over to a gas station and popped the hood, allowing even more of the evaporated coolant to escape.

"Need some help?" two guys in a Civic quipped. I don't remember the exact response my brother shot at them, but it was pointed to say the least.

Fast forward several years, and I have owned two problematic turbocharged vehicles. Both of them were Volvos, which after finally consulting with a mechanic worth his salt about the second one, I have decided were both really bad ideas. Supposedly the first turbo Volvo was a lemon, as I had mechanics and Volvo aficionados swear to me that turbo Swede bricks often went to 300,000 miles or more without major mechanical problems.

The first turbo Volvo was horrible. The car drove fine at first, but eventually it started to spew out steam from evaporated coolant. I added coolant to the car constantly, but it regularly would threaten to overheat. I had a mechanic try to track down coolant leaks on multiple occasions, but it was to no avail. And then I started to notice the car's exhaust was white all the time--the surefire sign of a blown cylinder head. I didn't have the cash for a new head gasket, and then the car started to overheat all the time. It started running sluggishly. Rather than shoulder the huge repair bill it was sure to need, I dumped the car as quickly as possible.

The second turbo Volvo kindly waited until we were in the stretch of desert between Las Vegas and Los Angeles to manifest its forced induction problems. More specifically, smoke plumed out from the undercarriage, the result of an oil leak that traveled along the underside of the car until it reached the catalytic converter. As if that weren't enough, oil also spewed in tiny droplets out of the tailpipe, spraying all over the back window. The back window's wiper couldn't clear the sticky mess away, leaving the driver to look through a distorted and sickly yellow film to view traffic from behind. After many repair bills trying to track down the oil leaks, which seemed to crop up in new places after the old ones were fixed, I finally escorted the car to automotive heaven.
If it had been up to just these experiences, I wouldn't be conflicted at all about turbos. I would swear off ever, ever owning another forced induction vehicle. The fact of the matter was these two turbocharged Volvos happened to be a lot of fun to drive, when they were running at least reasonably well. Even though neither one had a large engine, they both accelerated strongly and provided a large power band. I live around large mountains with steep canyon roads, and both vehicles pulled strong up the steep inclines. The fact they had turbos also meant I didn't have to shell out a bunch of money for gas.

What made me feel even more conflicted about turbochargers was owning my Saab. Not too long after having purchased my Saab I realized its turbocharger system was much more advanced than the ones included in either of my Volvos. The turbo response was much faster, and the turbo pulled the car harder. Even better, I didn't have to deal with oil or coolant leaks, overheating or any of the other problems my turbo Volvos had almost from the get-go. The Saab was also a lot more fun to drive.

My turbo Saab

As I watch with great interest a sudden surge in turbocharger use by manufacturers such as Ford and BMW part of me gets excited while another part of me shrinks back in terror. Are these turbochargers like the one I had in my Saab (which was the newest of the three vehicles) or are they like the horrible ones in my Volvos? I know with any turbocharged vehicle you have to watch the coolant and oil levels like a hawk, but I also know from experience that being faithful about watching the car's fluids doesn't mean the turbocharger won't give you major headaches.

Let's just put it this way: I have declared to my wife that if I do buy another turbocharged car it won't be a Volvo and it will be a hobby car.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Best-selling cars in wealthy zip codes

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about being mired in the 99% is that due to the prevalence of reality-distorting TV and the booming personal security business, we really have no idea what it's like to be Mitt Romney, Donald Trump or one of the Koch brothers. At least in the olden days, we plebs could point and stare, mouths agape as the robber barons rode through city streets in their jewel-encrusted carriages. But today? Good luck catching a glimpse of Trump's platinum-dipped Maybach or the plutonium-burning hovercrafts that the Koch's use to fly to their secret Tea Party Illuminati meetings.

What's that? Rich people buy their cars at dealerships just like we do?

Yep, and according to a new study from TrueCar, Mr. and Mrs. Moneybags don't go in for luxury models nearly as completely as you'd think. TrueCar has released a list of the top 10 most popular cars in the wealthiest zip codes in the U.S. and, shockingly enough, half the vehicles on it are mainstream models from Toyota, Honda and Volkswagen.

As you would expect, a Mercedes-Benz is indeed at the top of the list, but note that it's the E-Class rather than the S-Class. Runner-up was the BMW 3 Series, just ahead of the C-Class. Fourth place went to the Lexus RX, and fifth to the Toyota Prius. Then the real commonplace models take over, with the Volkswagen Jetta in sixth, the Honda CR-V and Accord in seventh and eighth, and the Toyota Camry taking ninth. The BMW X5 wraps up the list in 10th place.

What this tells us is that the rich are clearly not stupid, choosing to buy the same sorts of vehicles that the rest of us do, models with good reputations for quality and value. Either that or they're paying their servants in cars.

#10: Ross, California – 94957
Average Income: $497,000
Notable Residents: Julia Child, Huey Lewis

Just 15 miles across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco into environmentally conscious Marin County sits the small town of Ross. Named after James Ross, who purchased the land in 1857 for $50,000, it’s not uncommon for today’s residents to spend $50,000 on a new car. But if Ross residents aren’t buying a luxury car, they’re apparently buying the Toyota Prius.

Rank Ross, CA Segments MSRP* Market Average**
1 Toyota Prius Small Car $30,565 $29,525
2 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Luxury Car $51,365 $48,068
3 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class Luxury SUV $63,445 $59,500
4 BMW 335 Luxury Car $43,295 $41,496
5 BMW X5 Luxury SUV $58,595 $54,995

#9: Medina, Washington – 98039
Average Income: $506,000
Notable Residents: Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon.com)

Two words: Bill Gates. The Microsoft founder owns a home along the 4.8 square miles of land that encompasses the residential city of Medina. Lake Washington borders the city to the north, south, and west, and Seattle is just a bridge away. The majority of households are comprised of families, which is likely why residents opted for spacious and family-friendly SUV’s and minivans.

Rank Medina, WA Segments MSRP* Market Average**
1 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Luxury SUV $65,595 $63,093
2 Toyota Sienna Minivan $30,510 $28,811
3 Lexus RX Luxury SUV $39,950 $37,628
4 Honda Odyssey Minivan $37,855 $34,888
5 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class Luxury SUV $63,445 $59,500

#8: Palm Beach, Florida – 33480
Average Income: $566,000
Notable Residents: Donald Trump, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh

The easternmost town of Palm Beach is situated on a 16-mile-long barrier island, paralleling the main coast cities of West Palm Beach and Lake Forth. With a median age of 67 years old, these retirement-age residents have an affinity for Mercedes-Benz vehicles, which round out the top three most popular vehicles purchased.

Rank Palm Beach, FL Segments MSRP* Market Average**
1 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Luxury Car $51,365 $48,068
2 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Luxury Car $95,375 $88,806
3 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Luxury Car $36,095 $34,144
4 Lexus ES Luxury Car $37,600 $35,472
5 BMW X5 Luxury SUV $58,595 $54,995

#7: Greenwich, Connecticut – 06831
Average Income: $644,000
Notable Residents: Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Mel Gibson, Tommy Hilfiger, Frank and Kathie Lee Gifford.

Home to political dynasties like the Kennedys and the Bushs at one time or another, the mansion-lined New England town of Greenwich is conveniently located about a half-hour’s drive or train ride into Manhattan. Residents have a penchant for SUVs, with the affordably priced Jeep Wrangler surprisingly topping the list of the most purchased vehicles.

Rank Greenwich, CT Segments MSRP* Market Average**
1 Jeep Wrangler Small SUV $22,970 $22,717
2 Lexus RX Luxury SUV $39,950 $37,628
3 BMW X5 Luxury SUV $58,595 $54,995
4 Jeep Grand Cherokee Midsize SUV $30,120 $28,291
5 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Luxury Car $51,365 $48,068

#6: New Vernon, New Jersey – 07976
Average Income: $749,000
Notable Residents: Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge (daughter of William Avery Rockefeller, Jr.), Eric Mangini (Former New York Jets/Cleveland Browns head coach), C Cornell Remsen Jr. (former VP of ITT), Kerry Kittles (Nets)

Old money meets new money in the Metropolitan New York area city of New Vernon where Rockefellers have nested and where the median age is just 35 years old. Located about an hour’s drive from New York City, Vernon residents drive the usual suspects of luxury vehicles.

Rank New Vernon, NJ Segments MSRP* Market Average**
1 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Luxury Car $51,365 $48,068
2 BMW 328 Luxury Car $35,795 $34,461
3 Jeep Grand Cherokee Midsize SUV $30,120 $28,291
4 Lexus RX Luxury SUV $39,950 $37,628
5 BMW 535 Luxury Car $53,395 $50,376

#5: Century City, California – 90067
Average Income: $751,000
Notable Residents: MGM, CAA, 20th Century Fox

Situated east of Santa Monica and west of Beverly Hills, Century City is not exactly Hollywood, but it’s where a lot of Hollywood does business. Headquarters of the famous Creative Artists Agency (CAA), MGM, and 20th Century Fox fill the office-tower-streaked Century City skyline. Even Ronald Reagan once kept a private office there. While Century City residents are rather fond of the eco-friendly Prius, they still like their fair share of Mercedes-Benzes and BMWs.

Rank Century City, CA Segments MSRP* Market Average**
1 Toyota Prius Small Car/Hybrid $30,565 $29,525
2 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Luxury Car $51,365 $48,068
3 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Luxury Car $36,095 $34,144
4 BMW 328 Luxury Car $35,795 $34,461
5 Volkswagen Jetta Small Car $26,085 $24,978

#4: Atherton, California – 94027
Average Income: $768,000
Notable Residents: Sheryl Sandberg (COO Facebook), Joe Montana, Meg Whitman, Willie Mays, Charles R. Schwab

The quaint wood-filled city of Atherton is nestled quietly between the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Silicon Valley tycoons, star athletes and politicians are among the city’s fewer than 7,000 residents – residents who really like their Benzes. The only car under $50,000 that you can get away with driving in Atherton, without being identified as a visitor: the Toyota Prius.

Rank Atherton, CA Segments MSRP* Market Average**
1 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Luxury Car $51,365 $48,068
2 Toyota Prius Small Car $30,565 $29,525
3 Porsche Panamera Luxury Car $76,175 $72,003
4 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class Luxury SUV $63,445 $59,500
5 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Luxury Car $95,375 $88,806

#3: Downtown Chicago, Illinois – 60604
Average Income: $782,000
Notable Residents: Kirby Puckett, Pete Wentz, Buddy Guy, R. Kelly, James Belushi, Steve Carrell, Tina Fey, Bob Fosse, Amy and David Sedaris

One of the nation’s most densely populated and most beloved cities, Chicago is rich, yet humble — not one luxury vehicle made it to the top five. Instead, affordable, practical vehicles you would expect to see in every middle-class suburb are what you would find on the pricey urban streets of Chicago.

Rank Downtown Chicago, IL Segments MSRP* Market Average**
1 Volkswagen Jetta Small Car $26,085 $25,290
2 Honda CR-V Midsize SUV $30,605 $28,875
3 Jeep Grand Cherokee Midsize SUV $30,120 $28,291
4 Toyota Camry Midsize Car $25,535 $23,871
5 Honda Civic Small Car $19,595 $18,446

#2: Fisher Island, Florida – 33109
Average Income: $1,531,000
Notable Residents: The Vanderbilts, Andre Agassi, Julia Roberts, Jim Carey, Oprah Winfrey

Named after automotive parts pioneer and beach real estate developer Carl Fisher, the exclusive Fisher Island is a neighborhood of metropolitan Miami, Florida, and is only accessible via private boat or ferry. Fewer than 500 residents call the Island home and they have discerning tastes in cars. Mercedes sweeps the top two most popular cars on Fisher Island, and not a single car less than $50,000 rounds out the top five, so it’s worth mentioning again – exclusive.

Rank Fisher Island, FL Segments MSRP* Market Average**
1 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Luxury Car $95,375 $88,806
2 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Luxury Car $51,365 $48,068
3 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Luxury SUV $65,595 $63,093
4 BMW X5 Luxury SUV $58,595 $54,995
5 Porsche Panamera Luxury Car $76,175 $72,003

#1: Manhattan, New York – 10274
Average Income: $5,711,000
Notable Residents: Spike Lee, Liza Minnelli, Ralph Lauren, Kevin Spacey, Kelly Ripa, Zac Posen, Anderson Cooper, Deepak Chopra

It’s no surprise that Manhattan tops the list of the wealthiest zip codes in the United States. From Wall Street bankers to A-list Hollywood celebrities, Manhattan offers residents everything for the right price – usually a premium. But even in the playground for the rich, there are still pockets of middle-class and working-class families who have called “The City” home for generations. While the Mercedes-Benzes and the BMWs prevail, they must still share the road with the Honda Accords and Honda CR-Vs.

Rank Manhattan Segments MSRP* Market Average**
1 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Luxury Car $51,365 $48,068
2 BMW X5 Luxury SUV $58,595 $54,995
3 Honda Accord Midsize Car $23,070 $21,210
4 BMW 328 Luxury Car $35,795 $34,461
5 Honda CR-V Midsize SUV $29,575 $28,875

Wealthiest Zips data based on IRS Tax table. Filtered for zip codes with a thousand returns or more. If the particular zip code didn’t have a large enough sample size, it was expanded to include surrounding zip codes. Zip codes are in the file that are associated to the location. *MSRP is based on the most popular trim.**Market Average is estimated based on the national average of recent vehicle transactions, including destination and delivery charges after incentives that are subject to change, but does not include tax, title, licensing, documentation or processing fees, other state and governmental charges and/or fees, or any other charges or fees allowed by law.

From TrueCar.com


Does Gen Y Really Want Ugly Cars?

2011 Nissan Juke

Automotive manufacturers seem to be desperate to capture business from the seemingly elusive Generation Y. They are employing all kinds of tricks and gimmicks, even trying out things they would never dream using on Gen X or the Boomers, all with little to no success. GM and other automakers have even tried ads that use "cool" language popular with the generation. Perhaps the most jarring and interesting marketing technique is the manufacturing of ugly automobiles as a way to lure Generation Y to buy.

The list of ugly cars seems to be growing all the time. First there was the Honda Element, which isn't completely hideous. Most of the people I see driving them are older than I am. Other cars like the Nissan Cube or Scion IQ took the ugly factor further. Perhaps the ugliest car on the road today is the Nissan Juke.

I have to admit that ugly cars are nothing new. The Gremlin looked like it had been hit by the ugly stick a few thousand times. Some people may hate me for it, but I find the Fox platform Mustangs (from the 80s to early 90s) to be quite hideous. Then there was the horrible last generation of the Toyota Celica, which seriously looked like an angry rabbit. Of course there is always that ultimate in automotive ugliness: the Pontiac Aztec. When I think of all the ugly cars from the past I begin to think the ugly trend is one of the constants in the automotive industry. 

Toyota Celica

I'm really at the tail end of Gen X or the beginning of Gen Y, depending on how you draw the cutoff. Because of my unique position, perhaps I have a perspective not shared by many automotive executives. I don't think Gen Y is looking for ugly cars any more than any other generation has had an affinity for them. There will always be those tasteless people in every generation who wear white socks with dark pants and shoes, but they're always a minority. Instead, I think the real issue is affordability.

Gen Y has the unique pleasure of being the generation who gets to graduate into adulthood in a world that is in the throes of economic turmoil. Most people from the generation have also seen the horribly negative consequences of their parents' spend thrift mentality (a stereotypical trait of the Boomers) that is fueled by image consciousness. The result is many members of Gen Y cannot or do not want to afford an expensive vehicle. Because they are thinking about more than image, younger car buyers also want a vehicle that works in a day-to-day practical way. This means the car cannot be constantly needing maintenance, has enough cargo room, gets good gas mileage, etc.

While everyone is focusing on the ugly cars populating the roads (it's kind of hard to not gawk at them in horrid disbelief) many are missing some of the beauties that are favored by Gen Y. Sure, the Subaru Impreza WRX and STI that are so beloved by younger kids started out ugly, but they have transformed from ugly ducklings into curvy hatchbacks and sedans. The new Scion FRS/Subaru BRZ is another example of an attractive car that appeals to Gen Y. These are cars that provide a certain automotive experience or utility for significantly less money.

2012 Subaru BRZ

Perhaps the biggest factor fueling the ugly car movement is that kids just plain don't want to drive a car like mom's or dad's. There are a few exceptions to this, but most kids feel the intense desire to form their own identities. There's no denying that cars have been and for the foreseeable future will continue to be deeply tied to our personal identities. This is why so many of my generation are squeezing their kids into the cramped third rows of new crossovers rather than drive the more practical minivan that looks too much like what mom drove back in the day.

So automotive industry executives, listen up: Gen Y will buy attractive cars if they are affordable and don't look too much like the cars of the last thirty years.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

New Stratos lines up at the 2012 Rally Isla Mallorca

Just because Ferrari nixed the New Stratos doesn't mean the existing high-performance wedge can't have a little fun on its own. This past March, the F430-based tribute to the rallying great led a littany of classics as the pace car for the Rally Isla Mallorca. The 2012 race marked the one-year anniversary of its debut at the event.

The vintage race consisted of 14 stages, totaling 280 miles, and the New Stratos led the way every time. The number zero affixed to the side marked the New Stratos as the pace vehicle, and signaled the impending classics fast approaching behind it.
The modern interpretation of the classic Italian racer was piloted by the Brose team, which consisted of Michael Stoschek and Dieter Hawkranke. Each evening, when racing ceased, the Stratos, as well as the vintage racing entrants, would take go on display in the yachting community of Portals Nous. However, those who ventured into the mountainous terrain on which the rally was held benefitted from seeing the New Stratos in action. You can see it in action, as well as the classic racers, by watching on the video below.

From AutoBlog.Com

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Formula Cross YFC 450 ATV-based kart

The Formula Cross YFC 450, a rally kart based on the Yamaha YFZ 450 ATV from 2002-2013, has been priced at $7,500, but that's for the build-it-yourself kit and doesn't include taxes or shipping. If you want Formula Cross to put it together for you, something you might want to consider since the kit includes 40 items plus hardware, that will be an extra $1,350 after you've delivered it to their facility.

However, Formula Cross touts that every bit of their creation is customizable, so if you've got time you could have some fun wrenching your own creation – and we're told there's no welding required. The wet weight has gone up since the initial announcement, from 495 pounds to 620 pounds "on certain models," but that shouldn't stop the fun.

To get in line with a pre-order will run you $2,500, and the first deliveries are scheduled to leave the building in November. This being a completely new animal, however, we wouldn't be surprised if specs, dates and prices come in for revision before then. For a reminder of the still-potent promise of the YFC 450, check out the video below.

From AutoBlog.Com

Monday, August 6, 2012

Mission R sets a NEDRA quarter-mile record 10.602 @MissionMotors

We've been smitten with the Mission R electric motorcycle from Mission Motors since it was first revealed at the tail end of 2010. It looks beautiful, both stripped down naked or dressed up just enough to be street legal. Now living in something of an active retirement after handily winning the only road race it ever entered, the bike has recently found its way into the hands of a select few journalists, where it continues to make big impressions.

The latest example of such a scribe is Jensen Beeler over at Asphalt & Rubber. Though not philosophically opposed to electric motorcycles, he hasn't exactly been impressed by what's commercially available at this point in time. Given the chance to take the Mission R on an extended ride through town and country that included a climb to the summit of Mt. Tamalpais, it seems he's now beginning to understand the potential benefits of an electric drivetrain. Indeed, after his experience he wrote, "...the connection between rider and machine is surprisingly more entrenched on the Mission R than any other motorcycle I have ridden."

You see, besides offering obvious noise and air pollution reductions, the battery-powered bike also does away with something else: rotating mass. The lack of internal parts moving about makes this machine feel a lot lighter and maneuverable – flickable, even – than its 550-lb weight might suggest. In conjunction with its superb chassis and the power to easily lift the front wheel at 70 miles per hour, the Mission R deftly illustrates how electric bikes can offer a superior experience than their gas-sucking counterparts.

Check out Beeler's lengthy ride review here (along with some great pictures). If that's not enough journalistic praise for one sitting, you can also read Alan Cathcart's similarly positive piece over at Cycle News. Pressed for time? Scroll below and watch the Mission R set a NEDRA quarter-mile record on the drag strip with a speedy 10.602 second pass.

From AutoBlog.Com

Release The Draguar! Building a Blown Jaguar Rat Rod @MotorTrend

On this episode of Roadkill, Freiburger and Finnegan do unspeakable things to a '74 Jaguar XJ12, one of about 4,700 made. Namely, they cut a giant hole in the hood and install a Weiand 6-71 supercharger and twin Holley carburetors on the 350ci Chevy V8 that was already installed in the car when it was purchased for $1,000. But things can never be easy, so the supercharger installation is staged in the parking lot of Gotelli Speed Shop in South San Francisco. Then the duo hits the road, making their way to Sacramento Raceway, where they can finally unleash "The Draguar" at the strip.

New Morgan Plus 8: The Adventure Road Test @Drive

I absolutely love this car.

NYC about to get 2,000 more taxis... does it need them?

New York City is looking to add 2,000 more taxis to its streets, which should help transportation-challenged pedestrians hail a cab quicker. Or will it?

NPR asked transport economist Charles Komanoff his opinion of the plan and his take isn't so positive. Sure, he says, 2,000 more cabs should make it easier to get a ride, but more cars means more traffic. And not just more traffic, but more constant traffic. While private cars eventually reach their destinations and park, taxis take up precious road space 24 hours a day. That slows down all traffic including buses, cars, other taxis, etc.

Komanoff estimates the city's traffic would move at least 12-percent slower. You'll be able to catch a cab about 60 seconds faster, but take more time than before to reach your destination. His figures show the slowdown could cost the city about $500 million a year in lost time. Which kinda negates the one-time $1 billion the city expects to make from auctioning the 2,000 new cab licenses.

But the plan to add more cabs is being held up by a lawsuit. Not by residents afraid of getting around town slower, but by the cabbies themselves. More cabs equals more competition.

In the video below, Komanoff gives a brief and interesting history of traffic in New York City.

From AutoBlog.Com