Thursday, November 15, 2012

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LA motor show Design Challenge entries revealed

Posted: 15 Nov 2012 06:49 AM PST

Manufacturer designers vie for honours with their future car visions

Design studios from major manufacturers such as BMW, GM, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and Subaru have submitted concept sketches for the ninth annual LA motor show Design Challenge.

The challenge aims to explore new ideas in automotive design, and allow designers to showcase their talents.

This year's theme is a law enforcement patrol car for the year 2025, with judging criteria based on advanced technology, speed and agility, creativity and environmental sensitivity.

Designs submitted include an environmentally friendly SUV – the Mercedes-Benz Ener-G-Force, unmanned drone motorcycles from Honda and the sleek Volt Squad from General Motors.

The judging panel includes Tom Matano, executive director at San Francisco Art University's the School of Industrial Design, Stewart Reed, chair of Transportation Design at Pasadena College of Design and Bruce Meyer, former racer and board member of the California Highway Patrol Foundation.

The winner will be announced on 29 November during an event on the motor show press day.

Daljinder Nagra

New Mini hatch to get five-door option

Posted: 15 Nov 2012 02:55 AM PST

More practical, family friendly Mini on the horizon

These spy pictures are the first definite proof that Mini is working on a more conventional five-door version of its staple small hatchback.

As first revealed by Autocar in June, the new five-door Mini has a longer wheelbase and two short, conventionally hinged rear doors. The overhang at the back has been increased to house a bigger boot, something disguised by a sharply raked tailgate.

The rear doors are primarily designed to allow easy access for children, although a knock-on effect is shorter front doors, which should allow adults easier access in tight spaces.

Despite a longer wheelbase, the new Mini five-door will still be less than 4.0m long. The three-door model will also be longer than the car it replaces.

The five-door version of the Mini is in response to the declining popularity of three-door models, a problem for the market as a whole and not just Mini. The three-door and five-door hatchbacks are expected to be the launch models in the new third-generation Mini 
line-up late next year.

The new sub-4.0m five-door variant will also be joined in the 10-model-strong new Mini line-up by a larger five-door hatchback-cum-MPV, which sources are referring to as 
the Spacebox.

Its addition to the range will allow the second generation of the Countryman to be a much truer SUV, rather than having to combine the roles of hatchback and SUV.

New Mclaren P1 spied

Posted: 15 Nov 2012 02:19 AM PST

Production version of the Woking-built Ferrari F150 rival has been spotted testing

These exclusive spy shots of the production version of the new McLaren P1 hypercar confirm that it will stay true to the concept recently revealed at the Paris motor show.

The P1 is tipped to appear for the first time in full production form as early as the Geneva motor show in the spring, before going on sale later in the year.

At the Paris show, McLaren sources revealed that the concept's exterior was "more than 95 per cent" representative of the production car. These pictures appear to back that up. 

Although the heavy disguise covers the styling intricacies, it cannot hide the heavily sculpted bodywork that is carried over from the Paris concept. McLaren design chief Frank Stephenson said that the P1's looks have been inspired by a Le Mans racer.

McLaren revealed few specific technical details of the P1, the successor to the F1, at the concept's launch in Paris.

However, sources have revealed that it will use a modified version of the 12C's twin-turbo V8 mated to an F1-style KERS hybrid boost system, with a total power output of about 720bhp. The power-to-weight ratio will be more than 600bhp per tonne.

McLaren has said it is not interested in making the world's fastest or most powerful production car. Instead, it wants to make "the best driver's car in the world".

The P1 will be left-hand drive only and be offered in a limited production run. It will be priced from £700,000 to £800,000 when sales start late next year.

Cyclist Curfew

Posted: 15 Nov 2012 01:41 AM PST

Will imposing a night-time curfew on cyclists make the roads safer?

I'm a cyclist and proud of it. Still got the same Bangernomics bike I bought in 1972. Plenty of life left in it too. Popped up to the builder's merchants the other day to pick up some filler, but it was daylight. And that's why there is still so much life left in me. I now operate a cyclist curfew: when it is dark, I don't go out. It is as simple as that.

Two recent incidents brought the whole debate to life. First, in urban south London with road humps and cars parked on either side, I had to follow a cyclist in the dusk. He had no lights. No reflective jacket. No helmet. But he did have a mobile phone attached to his earhole. I couldn't overtake safely because of oncoming traffic. I had to just bounce along behind this idiot for about a mile. For some reason he was furious with me and I found out just how annoyed he was when I finally overtook when the coast was clear and the road wider. He gesticulated wildly and presumably shouted stuff. Berk.

A week later I am on a country road with no street lamps. It is pitch black except for a flashing apparition in the distance. I have never seen a cyclist with such an abundance of reflection. Or for that matter so much LED illumination this side of an Audi. He knew it was damned dangerous out there and didn't mind as I waited a distance behind because of the bendy nature of the road. He checked where I was once or twice. No abuse, no hand gestures. He still looked a berk, though, in all that gear.

Yes, cyclists can be stupid and sensible, just like drivers, and we can have the clocks backwards and forwards arguments all day and night long. However, because of the danger and vulnerability, shouldn't cyclists have a curfew? Or at least an age limit? If they want to go out in the dark, then wear a reflective vest, put some lights on and pass a proficiency test. Break the curfew and it's prison. With hard labour. Who's with me?

Spark EV to be unveiled in Los Angeles

Posted: 14 Nov 2012 09:31 AM PST

All-electric city car joins customised Hot Wheels Camaro on Chevrolet's show stand

The Chevrolet Spark EV, a plug-in version of the company's Spark city car, will be officially unveiled at the Los Angeles motor show this month.

The Spark EV is expected to utilise a lithium-ion battery pack mounted under the rear seats, which will power an 85kW (114bhp) electric motor.

Also being launched is an advanced version of Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment system, with improved smartphone integration. It will first make an appearance on the US-only 2014 Impala saloon.

"The Spark EV and next-generation MyLink demonstrate Chevrolet's commitment to delivering the advanced technologies that today's consumers will be eager to adopt and truly value," said Chris Perry, vice president of Global Chevrolet marketing.

Joining the Spark EV on the Chevrolet stand will be the Impala, and a Hot Wheels Camaro featuring a customised interior and paint finish.

Daljinder Nagra

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