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Creators of Wipeout Have a New Show

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  • On 12, Oct 2011

“The folks who bring you ABC’s Wipeout have changed the network and the challengers for their next creation: called Whipped and airing on Speed in 2012, the new “automotive-based game and racing show” will put drivers in their own cars through “an intimidating automotive obstacle course.”

There’s an extra hook at the end, when the last challenger standing – who would normally be the winner-take-all – has to run a final obstacle course in the show’s race-prepped car. Their mastery, or not, of that test “determines how much we trick out their ride.””

Source: Autoblog

Daijiri Yoshihari Crowned Champion

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  • On 12, Oct 2011

“Formula Drift headed to Irwindale Speedway to decide who would be crowned the 2011 champion in front of a sold-out crowd. Going into the event, the title race was the closest it had ever been with Falken Tire teammates Daijiro Toshihara and Justin Pawlak separated by just 12.75 points. Each driver had two wins and three podiums this season, leaving the final event to decide the title.

Initially, it seemed that Yoshihara had blown his chances when Ken Gushi knocked him out of the round of 16, leaving it up to Pawlak to claim the championship for his own. Pawlak failed to capitalize in the next round, though, when he tagged the wall during his second run and was beaten out by fellow Falken driver Darren McNamara. The final points tally had Yoshihara just 5.75 points ahead of Pawlak, the closest finish in Formula Drift’s history. This is the first championship for the Japanese native, who is an eight-year veteran of the series.

“It’s a great feeling and a dream come true,” said Yoshihara after the event. “After eight years of driving it finally paid off. I owe a lot to my team and sponsors. My new goal will be to defend the championship and win it outright during the event.””

Source: Autoblog

Nissan Struggling with Quality

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  • On 12, Oct 2011

“While Nissan has never enjoyed the same stellar reputation for quality as its Japanese compatriots at Toyota and Honda, it has lately found itself in danger of acquiring the opposite rep. Nissan’s performance on influential J.D. Power quality and dependability studies has been below average lately, as many of its rivals have improved. Nissan will be launching a new quality plan in November, but Automotive News has the scoop today.

The most immediate change in Nissan’s quality approach is a shoot-the-messenger measure requiring dealers to present car buyers with a two-page quick-reference guide that’s part of 2012 owner manuals. The manual insert will seek to address some of the common threads that have cropped up in J.D. Power survey results. Nissan will also be addressing some of the most frequent customer complaints, like poor shift quality from its new seven-speed automatic transmissions used in Infiniti products. Nissan tells AN that it is already upgrading the software in the transmissions.

While that’s a start, Nissan has a long way to go to hit its stated goal of having both Nissan and Infiniti brands in J.D. Power’s top three in their respective categories by 2016. Nissan ranked just 24th in the Initial Quality Survey released in June, and managed only 25th in the Vehicle Dependability Survey, according to AN.

Other issues that have bothered Nissan customers include difficulties with HVAC controls, confusing rear wiper controls, and using hands-free phone systems. Kazumasa Katoh, Senior Vice President of Global Quality, said that these kinds of customer complaints are the result of Nissan customers’ embrace of new technology, which can be complicated.

We’ve heard this line rather often, ever since Mercedes-Benz saw its J.D. Power scores plummet almost a decade ago. Yet automakers seem to continue to struggle in designing in-car systems that are simple and intuitive. Earlier this year, Ford’s MyFord Touch system led Consumer Reports to pull its coveted Recommended rating from the 2011 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX.

Source: Autoblog

Subaru BRZ Teases Again

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  • On 12, Oct 2011

“Between Subaru and Toyota, the pair of BRZ/FT-86 rear-wheel-drive coupes are high in the running for the honourary Chevrolet Volt Award For Painfully Slow New Car Rollouts. We won’t take you through the entire lifespan of this pair of Japanese sports cars, but we’ll say this: we’re sick of waiting in Pavlovian anticipation for their Tokyo Motor Show unveiling already.

Still, at least this latest set of spy photos gives us a better glimpse at some of the Subie’s finer details, including the full shape of the taillamps and what appear to be LED running lights just above the fog lights. We could probably do without that rear spoiler, though we’ll wait until all of the swirly paper has been removed before making any final design assessments.

Subaru will be bringing a concept version of the BRZ to the Los Angeles Auto Show before the final production car debuts in Japan. All we can say is, it’s about time.”

Source: Autoblog

Mazda Tweets That The Rotary is Back

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  • On 12, Oct 2011

“In the soap opera saga of are they or aren’t they still developing a rotary engine, Mazda seems to have indicated the affirmative. According to a translation of a Tweet from Mazda PR posted on a Japanese car blog, a “new model with a next-generation rotary engine” is in development.

While there’s only so much to be gleaned from a single 140-character message – even in information-dense Japanese – this forthcoming vehicle will incorporate Mazda’s fuel-saving SkyActiv technologies, which is only logical. Being thirsty has long been the Achilles heel of the Wankel, and anything that can help boost mileage and cut emissions should be well-received in a successor to the discontinued RX-8.”

Source: Autoblog

The Nissan Juke R

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  • On 12, Oct 2011

“When Nissan UK announced that the company planned to build a design study using the body of a Juke and the running gear of GT-R, we knew the automaker’s engineers had some serious work cut out for them. Now Nissan is giving the world a glimpse into exactly what it will take to bring the Juke-R to life with a series of build videos. The company isn’t simply cramming a twin-turbo 3.8-litre V6 into the CUV and calling it a day. Instead, a donor GT-R will lend its full all-wheel-drive system and all of the tech necessary to keep the car planted on the road to the effort.

Nissan has already started by shortening the wheelbase of a standard GT-R to Juke dimensions (see above) to ensure that everything will still work once workers begin swapping floor pans. The whole project looks deliciously maniacal.”

Source: Autoblog

Ford To Celebrate 100 Years of Racing

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  • On 12, Oct 2011

“On this day in 1901, Henry Ford took his home-built race car named “Sweepstakes” and entered a 10-mile race at the Detroit Driving Club against the favored Alexander Winton. Ford ended up winning the race and the victory garnered attention from investors that would help launch the Ford Motor Company just a couple of years later. Since that first race, Ford has achieved a multitude of successes in a variety of motorsports including wins at the Daytona 500, Indy 500, 24 Hours of Le Mans, Baja 1000 and more.

As part of their celebration of 110 years of racing, Ford will be bringing together some of their more historic race cars to display at the upcoming SEMA show in Las Vegas next month. The lineup is truly impressive, including the Le Mans-winning 1967 GT40 MkIV, Parnelli Jones’ 1970 Mustang Boss 302, Jim Clark’s Lotus that won the 1965 Indy 500, various John Force Funny Cars and the winning race car from this year’s Daytona 500 just to name a few.

Next month, we’ll bring you live coverage of the historic display of Ford Racing cars as well as the rest of the 2011 SEMA extravaganza.”

Source: Autoblog

Canada To Open Borders to Mexico

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  • On 03, Oct 2011

“Haven’t seen the orange VW before? The CrossFox is an off-road version of Volkswagen’s Fox supermini, and would be perfect for Canadian roads.

Just before Canadian Parliament dissolved in late March, to clear the way for the Federal Election, it passed Bill S-5, to very little fanfare.

But maybe we should have been done the Mexican Hat Dance.

Because Bill S-5 will (eventually) clear the way for Canadians to not only purchase late-model used vehicles from Mexico — something we always could do— but to actually license and register and drive them in our respective provinces — something we could never do.

So how about an Audi A1, or Ford Ka, or the Toyota Hilux diesel pickup truck?

Not so fast, enchilada breath…

Here’s the deal… It will take another year or two for the government to work out the regulations and protocols for Mexican used-vehicle importation, and the only vehicles allowed in will be those that can be certified for Canadian safety and environmental standards. This means that some vehicles will continue to be effectively persona non grata in Canada, because if they don’t already meet Canadian safety and environmental standards, it will likely be too costly and difficult to make them so.

But as is the case with American market vehicles, there will no doubt be a lot of vehicles that already meet Canadian safety and environmental standards; the only modifications they need then for Canadian certification are relatively affordable and straightforward ones, such as daytime running lights, metric gauges, and Canadian compliant child seat latching systems.

(At some point, Transport Canada will certainly publish a list of Mexican market vehicles, which fit the above criteria.)

The Mexico-market Chevrolet Tornado, basically Cobalt-sized El Camino.

NAFTA Compliance Issue

Why did Canada suddenly get the impulse to invite Mexican used vehicles to our party? In order to bring Canada into compliance with the automotive provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Those provisions require that Mexico, the United Sates and Canada allow the importation of used vehicles from one another’s countries. All the parties were supposed to have this provision done by the end of 2010. Canada was the lone laggard; hence the rush to get it done before the election.

Canada and Mexico will follow a phased implementation: Allowable importations start with vehicles 10 years old and older. The age threshold for the vehicles will decrease by two years, every two years, until 2019, when all the NAFTA countries may not adopt or maintain any prohibition or restriction of used vehicles from each other.

U.S. Vehicles Pave Way

Vehicles imported for use in Canada that are 15 years old or older are not required to meet our safety or environmental standards — regardless of which country they originate from.

So this new Mexican move is about late model used vehicles (14 years and younger), and will (eventually) make Mexico equivalent to the U.S., when it comes to used vehicle importation into Canada. We’ve been able to import late-model used vehicles from the U.S. since 1995, due to provisions in the original Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement of the late 1980s.

And by the way, before the Mexican move, the United States was the only country in the world allowed to ship its late-model used vehicles into Canada.

To monitor and regulate the importation of American used vehicles into Canada, the government set up, in 1995, the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (www.riv.ca). This registrar program will be extended to cover Mexican vehicles.

The sold-in-Mexico Peugeot RCZ, a “French-ified” Audi TT Coupe, is one of the most beautiful cars on sale at any price.

How many Mexican vehicles?

“There won’t be a rush of people of people at the border, waiting to take their cars across,” predicts Brian Osler, president of the North American Automobile Trade Association (NAATA). His member companies are those that buy and sell vehicles across international borders.

He suggests a slow build up, because that’s what happened when Canada first allowed U.S. imports.

“It took a long time for people to become aware that there was one more buying channel… It takes your nieghbour buying one, takes seeing it in the press. It won’t happen overnight.”

In 1995, just over 13,000 used vehicles were imported into Canada. In 2010, over 150,000 made the journey.

Considering the millions of used vehicles currently on our roads, the American used import portion would certainly have to be classified as a “niche.” But it’s a big niche and on track to one day outgrow the term.

“It is not insignificant any more,” notes Osler. “All the industry players, be they manufacturers, leasing companies, dealers, etc., have all adjusted their buying and selling practices to allow for used vehicle imports.”

Because of all this future potential, Osler was actually “shocked” about how little press coverage and general discussion there was, when Canadian MPs did the deed back in March, and officially opened the door to Mexico’s used vehicles.

“All of sudden you open up this whole new market and no one is talking about it.”

Future Predictions

Osler expects growth, but not at the level so far seen with American imports, due to the added comfort and better logistics offered by the American market.

“I expect dealers to buy from Mexico long before consumers,” adds Osler. “Some of our member dealers are already busy developing contacts in Mexico. Dealers are more accustomed to treating the automobile as a commodity.”

But no one can predict the future with absolute certainty, and in future years the relative currency values and the relative used vehicle prices in each country may set the tone as to how fast, or how slow, is the flow of used vehicles from Mexico.

Currently the conditions must be at least favourable — many NAATA dealers already purchase Mexican used vehicles for export into European markets.

Future Funkiness?

At the very least, the move will eventually establish protocols and an infrastructure to import a lot of interesting models that were heretofore unseen in Canada. If they were 15 years old or older, they could have arrived before now — but now it will be easier and more likely to happen. We may even see dealers who specialize in the funkiness. If so, in a few years I might even put an order in for, say, a decent Peugeot RCZ. “

Source: Sympatico Autos

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