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Mini Acura NSX Could Become a Reality

Personally I love this idea, the car itself is gorgeous! While the stillborn, V-10-powered NSX was being developed, Honda was also working on a related and obscure project referred to internally as the Small NSX. At the time it was just one of several advanced R&D ideas sitting in the design room. Then the financial crisis hit, causing Honda to kill the NSX and shelve all other sports car projects. But Honda has since rebounded, and as we know, the NSX has been reborn as an all-wheel drive hybrid. Now we’re hearing the Small NSX may be back on the drawing board as well.

While the words “Small NSX” may conjure up visions of a successor to the S2000, our inside source tells us this is not the case, and that it will look much like a shrunken version of the big-boy NSX, something along the lines of the car you see in this artist’s impression. Our source also tells us that like the NSX, it will be equipped with a version of Honda’s SH-AWD system.

Read the full story here.

Price Drop for 2014 Prius Plug-In Hybrid

This is great news for those of us sitting on the fence!  For the 2014 model year the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid will get a price cut, with the base Prius Plug-in model starting at $29,990, not including destination. The $2,010 drop in price comes without any changes to the vehicle, and Toyota was keen to point out that “This price repositioning on the base Prius Plug-in Hybrid is not accompanied by any reduction in vehicle content.” This drop in price can be viewed as part of Toyota’s effort to keep sales volume of its popular plug-in hybrid model on target — about the only place where the 2014 model Prius will look different will be the Japanese domestic market, where the Prius will get two-tone paint options, new wheels, and LED lighting.

Read the full story here.

NYC May Not be Able to Force Nissan Cab

I think more choices in the marketplace always lead to a better outcome! Nissan’s love-it-or-hate-it yellow cab is supposed to replace Manhattan’s entire taxi fleet within the next decade, but legal battles between cab drivers and the city mean it may not be the only car in town.

On Tuesday, a New York state supreme court judge ruled that the city had overstepped its boundaries by mandating that all taxis be replaced with the Nissan NV200 van, the winning vehicle chosen two years ago under Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “Taxi of Tomorrow” competition.

Read the full article here.

Toyota Cleared in CA Lawsuit

This could be a big save for Toyota! Toyota was cleared in a Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday for a fatal crash involving one of its cars, a case it hopes will be a bellwether for hundreds of other pending lawsuits alleging unintended acceleration.

Unlike many of the lawsuits, this 2009 fatal crash did not involve the vehicle’s driver. Rather, the unnamed driver, which the Associated Press reports is now 90 years old, struck and killed 66-year-old Noriko Uno. Uno’s family brought a $20 million lawsuit against Toyota and claimed that the driver’s 2006 Camry was defective because it did not have a brake-override system installed, a feature which Toyota made available as part of an earlier $1.1 billion settlement for owners of the nearly 9 million cars that were recalled over unintended acceleration and trapped gas pedals between October 2009 and June 2012.

Read the complete article here.

Google Files a Patent for Gesture Controlled Car

Wow, talk about interesting ideas! Gesture control in cars is nothing new and has been around for several years. The stereo system in the Ferrari 612 Scaglietti featured a Bose radio with proximity sensing that highlighted certain features when a hand approaches, and the Cadillac CUE system uses a similar sleight-of-hand trick to reduce clutter on the in-dash display.

Wired reported last year that Microsoft (which owns MSN) posted a job listing that hinted at future integration of the company’s Xbox Kinect controller into cars, and that Harman has a concept vehicle with a facial-recognition and gesture-control system that uses nods, winks and hand movements to access certain features. It also noted that BMW and Mercedes-Benz are working on gesture systems.

Read the full story here.

Next Gen GT-R May Be a Hybrid

This would be super–cool!  The 2014 Nissan GT-R represents the fifth revision of the R35 series GT-R since its launch. We hear that at least two more updates to the present Godzilla are in the works and that the R35 will live on until at least 2015, though our source says it could be around until as late as 2017. The extended timeframe could be good news, as we’ve heard that Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn only recently lit the green light to begin development of a new GT-R. So what’s next? Let the speculation begin!The most significant changes to the new GT-R will most likely be to its exterior design and engine. As you can see from this artist’s impression the next GT-R, the basic proportions should remain the same, while the headlights and aerodynamic package are likely to receive a big makeover in an effort to further maximize downforce and high-speed stability.

Like all automakers, Nissan is staring down the barrel of ever more stringent U.S. and European emissions regulations that will force it to continue to reduce CO2 output and improve fuel economy. According to our source, that means the next GT-R may have to employ “some electronic device” to help boost Godzilla’s mpg numbers.Nissan reportedly is looking at two potential options. The first is some kind of hybrid system. One possible future hint was the hybridized (and downsized to 3.7 liters) VR38DETT fitted to the Infiniti Essence concept car first seen at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show that produced an estimated 600 combined horsepower, though our source stresses that the Essence is not the next GT-R. Engineers are also evaluating a hybrid system similar to that of the Infiniti M35h. However, adding a hybrid system means bulking up the GT-R’s already substantial weight with motors and batteries, so unless designers can shave some 400 pounds off of the current car, a hybrid GT-R is likely to be problematic

Chief engineer Kazutoshi Mizuno hinted at a possible date for the next generation’s debut when he said his team’s entry in this year’s Nurburgring 24-hour race was to ensure the car had the performance, reliability, and endurance capabilities to “take the car up to 2017, when you can expect significant revisions.” As we left the circuit, Mizuno hinted that he and his team were already working on the next generation GT-R. But it was one of his talented younger cohorts who nodded a silent “yeah” when we suggested the next-generation coupe would be a hybrid. So, if nods are to be believed, then the all-important weight issue seems to have been solved. Now that’s good news.

By: Peter Lyon at

Audi’s New Hybrid Sport Quattro Concept Car

This car looks amazing! Audi’s Sport Quattro plug-in hybrid concept to be shown this week at the Frankfurt auto show generates 700 hp, yet has a fuel economy equivalent of 95 mpg, Audi says.

The company last week released pictures and details of the two-door concept, which is powered by a 4.0-liter V-8 gasoline engine and an electric motor and previews a possible technological flagship.

The concept has permanent four-wheel drive and is expected to go into limited production to form the centerpiece of Audi’s renewed 4wd focus after moves by Jaguar, BMW and Mercedes-Benz to increase the number of 4wd models in their lineups.

Audi says the concept can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 3.7 seconds. It can travel 32 miles on electric power alone.

If Audi Chairman Rupert Stadler gives the go ahead, the Sport Quattro will go into limited production in late 2015 priced at about $150,000. The production version is expected to use a modified version of Audi’s modular longitudinal architecture.

Audi said the concept is unusually low-slung, with a height of 55 inches. Its wheelbase, at 110 inches, is similar to that of the A5. The car is a hatchback with a rear tailgate opening.

The concept was created to mark the 30th anniversary of the classic Sport Quattro that made its debut at the 1983 Frankfurt auto show as a homologation model for the World Rally Championship.

The Sport Quattro concept is Audi’s second attempt to resurrect the revered model after the smaller but similarly styled Quattro concept unveiled at the 2010 Paris auto show.

Audi says the Frankfurt concept’s top speed is 190 mph.

By: Paul McVeigh at

Cool New Aluminum Jaguar Soon to Launch

If you are a Jag fan like I am then this is good news! Jaguar will launch a mid-sized sedan based on a new aluminum architecture in the United States in 2016, giving the company what it hopes will be a much-needed volume model to compete with German rivals.

The company unveiled plans for the unibody architecture and sedan — which launches first in Europe in 2015 — with the introduction today of a crossover concept for the Frankfurt auto show.

The platform is designed to support “a range of future Jaguars,” the company said, including a crossover, a booming segment the brand would be entering.

The mid-sized sedan is expected to compete with premium German models such as the BMW 3 series and 5 series, and the Mercedes-Benz E class and new-generation C class.

It would give Jaguar a volume product that would help Jaguar Land Rover achieve its long-term global sales targets of 750,000 units by the end of the decade and 1 million units eventually.

Jaguar hasn’t confirmed plans for the crossover but the C-X17 concept unveiled ahead of the Frankfurt auto show is the strongest signal yet that the brand plans to enter the segment.

Land Rover markets the Evoque compact crossover but the lack of an all-wheel-drive crossover has slowed Jaguar Land Rover’s growth and competitiveness in markets such as the United States.

Larger rivals BMW, Mercedes and Audi — and even Porsche — have been marketing crossovers for years, drawing new buyers and adding incremental sales volume.

“The C-X17 sports crossover represents an exciting new direction for Jaguar. Its purpose is to highlight our all-new aluminum architecture. With this technical foundation, we will dramatically expand Jaguar’s product offering, market potential and customer appeal,” said Adrian Hallmark, global brand director for Jaguar.

“This new philosophy will bring technology from our top-of-the-range products into new growing premium segments, and when combined with our new ultraefficient engines, we will set a global standard.”

The crossover will be named the XQ or Q-Type while the sedan will be called the XS, according to media reports.

First aluminum unibody in segment

Jaguar claims the sedan will be the first aluminum unibody vehicle in the C and D segments.

The sedan and other variants off the platform will use a new-generation Jaguar Land Rover-developed four-cylinder engine. Jaguar plans gasoline and diesel versions of the high-output, fuel-efficient engines.

The small-displacement engines will be made in a new $776 million factory in Wolverhampton, England.

By: Diana T. Kurylko at

Nissan Jumping on the Driverless Car Bandwagon

The sci-fi future type stuff we have all been dreaming about is closer than you think and Nissan wants to be a part of it! Cars that drive themselves, a science-fiction story in the 1950s and ’60s, is starting to become reality. Just this week, Nissan announced its big plans to have multiple self-driving vehicles ready for retail sale in seven short years, if and when federal and state regulators agree.

That means by 2020, when baby boomers’ vision starts to blur and reaction times slow to a sometimes-fatal rate, there will be a safe option, other than hiring a driver or staying at home.

According to recent data from the Administration on Aging, by 2030, roughly 72 million people – 19 percent of the U.S. population – will be 65 years or older. With age comes a decrease in driving confidence and capabilities. With current life expectancy pushing all-time highs, the autonomous car actually seems to make sense.

With the ultimate goal of zero auto-related fatalities, Nissan is in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford, Oxford and other high-ranking universities to research and test autonomous capabilities. There’s even a program in Japan to build a dedicated autonomous driving ground, complete with concrete walls and a true cityscape, which will be used to test the self-driving vehicle in complete safety from public roads. Of course, no matter how safe these things are, there still won’t be any accounting for rogue commuters taking matters into their own hands.

Since the 1980s, when Mercedes-Benz and Bundeswehr University in Munich built the world’s first modern autonomous car, the concept of a driver-free vehicle has inspired just about every major automaker. But only recently has the technology started to work on a major scale.

Florida, Nevada, and California have received federal approval for autonomous-vehicle testing and have been issuing special licenses to automakers, suppliers and tech companies. In April 2012, Cadillac unveiled the Super Cruise, an array of autopilot controls that could be ready as soon as 2015. In January, Lexus introduced a modified, autonomous LS, and Audi received a license to test autonomous vehicles in Nevada, making it the third company to do so since Google was first granted approval in May 2012. In February, BMW and automotive supplier Continental announced they would also bring autonomous cars to production by 2020.

As the majority of fatal accidents are due to human error, driverless cars should certainly serve to curb the odds. They might make driving more fun – boring, stressful commutes could be eliminated – and you’ll be more productive than ever before, actually working on the way to work. We’re not looking forward to that.

by James Tate,

Welcome to San Benito Auto Wreckers Blog

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