Monday, July 30, 2007, posted by Auto Rider at 7:28 PM

Ferrari is not satisfied that McLaren is not punished. The World Motor Sport Council called by the FIA found McLaren guilty of possessing technical data owned by Ferrari. This has angered Ferrari. Scuderia Ferrari’s chief executive Jean Todt is also furious at the ruling. He accused McLaren’s team principal Ron Dennis of signing an agreement of trust between the two teams while at the same time is aware that a spy is working inside Ferrari.

“I replied that I found it impossible to believe him because we had seen that certain commitments had always been disregarded by McLaren,” said Todt. “There was an exchange of views and, believing in their good faith, I agreed to sign this agreement on June 9. So, on the one hand, they had come to say ‘let us trust one another’ and, on the other, they were hiding serious facts but making no effort to inform us as would have been in the spirit and to the letter of our agreement.”

Todt pointed out that since McLaren was found guilty, they should be punished. “There is not even a sign of logic in this verdict. Either they are guilty or they aren't. McLaren were found responsible of having violated the regulations of F1, of having behaved in a fraudulent manner, but they haven't been punished,” he shared.

McLaren though was not found guilty of having used the Ferrari data on their cars which would have given them immense advantage over the Italian team. If the FIA punished McLaren that would either come in form of a monetary fine docking points from the team and drivers. Currently, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso are leading the race to the championship.

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Friday, July 27, 2007, posted by Auto Rider at 8:42 PM

The Formula One team was summoned by the FIA, the ruling body of the sport to an emergency World Motor Sport Council to answer the allegation of using Ferrari technical details on their Formula One cars.

The meeting was held yesterday and the decision is that McLaren was found guilty of the possession of Ferrari documents but the team will not be punished since there is no sufficient evidence showing that the team has used the Ferrari technical specs on their cars. It has 138 points while Ferrari is in second place with 111 points. Ferrari then had Coughlan’s house searched and sure enough, 780 pages of Ferrari documents are found in his possession.

McLaren’s reputation was somewhat tainted by the controversy as well as its partners like Vodafone and Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes-Benz’ Norbert Haug, the automaker’s chief for motorsports, is confident that the team is innocent.

"But if it is found in the future that the Ferrari information has been used to the detriment of the championship, we reserve the right to invite Vodafone McLaren Mercedes back in front of the WMSC where it will face the possibility of exclusion from not only the 2007 championship but also the 2008 championship." -

The statement coninued: "The WMSC will also invite Mr Stepney and Mr Coughlan to show reason why they should not be banned from international motor sport for a lengthy period and the WMSC has delegated authority to deal with this matter to the legal department of the FIA." -

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Thursday, July 26, 2007, posted by Auto Rider at 11:18 PM

(AP Photo/Katsumi Kasahara -

The race to come up with the first production plug-in hybrid vehicle heats up as Toyota announced that it already has a PHEV ready for testing. The announcement made by Toyota means that it now leads major automakers in the development of a plug-in hybrid vehicle. Plug-in hybrid vehicles are essentially hybrid vehicles. By plugging in a PHEV into an electric socket, its battery pack can be recharged. In comparison, the Volt’s battery pack is expected to power the vehicle for 64 kilometers.

The automaker announced that they will be using eight units of the plug-in hybrid vehicle in their tests. Toyota’s Executive Vice President Masatami Takimoto said that the commercial release of plug-in hybrid vehicles depend largely on the development of efficient batteries for automotive application. Aside from developing a Li-ion battery pack for the new generation Prius, Toyota will now also be looking to equip their PHEV with a Li-ion battery pack.

With Toyota spending millions on Li-ion battery development, I wouldn’t be surprised if the cruising range of the PHEV is increased. We might be surprised if one day Nissan came up with a PHEV that was better than the Volt and the imaginatively named Toyota Plug-in HV.

The plug-in hybrid vehicles will take to the roads of Berkeley and Irvine. The Japanese automaker will become the first major automaker to test PHEVs on American roads. This type of vehicles is recommended for city driving where constant acceleration and deceleration is needed.

PHEVs are arguably the next step for automakers to take in their quest to come up with eco-friendly vehicles.

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, posted by Auto Rider at 10:43 PM

Honda's world-wide sales rose 5.6 percent to 946,000 vehicles from the same period last year.

In June, Honda and the Toyota Motor Corp. increased production to meet rising demand from North America, Europe and Asia. Toyota raised global production 3.6 percent to 734,354 vehicles in June while Honda's global output rose four percent to 340,400 vehicles, the companies said in separate statements.

Additionally, net income of the second biggest Japanese automaker increased to ¥166.1 billion, or $1.4 billion, in the three months ended June 30, as compared with its ¥143.4 billion in 2006. Honda won customers in the United States, its biggest market, from domestics General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. with its Civic compact cars and CR-V SUVs.

Toyota's overseas production rose 7.2 percent, while output in Japan increased by 0.3 percent to 368,513. The automaker's exports rose 9.6 percent to 242,101 and Honda exported 55,207 vehicles, down by 2.8 percent. Meanwhile, Honda's domestic production dived by 4.8 percent while overseas output climbed 9.2 percent, Bloomberg added.

Even amid increasing raw-material costs and expenses related to new production facilities Honda’s net is bolstered. Honda increased its net-profit forecast for the year ending March 31 to 625 billion yen, a 5.5 percent increase from the year earlier.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007, posted by Auto Rider at 11:21 PM

According to the sources, the 2010 VW Beetle will once again be styled in California and engineered in Germany. The upcoming Beetle will be equipped with improved roof, fenders, engines, a radiator, car accessories, striking design cues, and other noteworthy modifications. Volkswagen designers chose a more modern and sporty look.

The new Beetle is being penned to easily adapt for a wide variety of model variants. The upcoming Beetle is the reason why the German automaker has hesitated bringing the Scirocco, an almost identical car, stateside.

The Beetle was widely scorned for its odd styling, rough ride, weak power, and high noise levels. It remained a hot seller even as rear-wheel drive traditional subcompacts were improved until ultimately replaced by front-wheel drive models. “In principle, I like the New Beetle save for its interior. Buyers seeking practicality and efficiency over style and nostalgia will likely pass on a Beetle."

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, posted by Auto Rider at 10:07 PM

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton has been breaking record after record in his budding Formula One career. The British driver not only failed to finish in the top three, but also failed to take even a single point after he finished ninth.

Although Hamilton’s lead of twelve points going into the European Grand Prix is now only two points over teammate Fernando Alonso, the young rookie sensation just smiled at his disastrous European Grand Prix. Hamilton is also not worried about the threat of Ferrari drivers which have shown resurgence at the past three races.

Kimi Raikkonen’s back-to-back wins prior to the European Grand Prix and his pole position in Saturday’s qualifying does not make Hamilton worry. The British driver though does not underestimate the speed of the Ferrari cars. At the European Grand Prix, Hamilton’s disastrous weekend started in qualifying on Saturday. The crash almost sidelined Hamilton but he was cleared for the race.

After his disappointing weekend, the championship leader showed why he is considered one of the classiest drivers in Formula One. Hamilton, smiling after his ninth place finish, did not even try to put the blame on anyone or anything but instead turned the negative into positive.

“I came here completely sick, had one of the biggest crashes I've ever had, suffered a puncture, rain, went off in the gravel, more rain. It was a great weekend for learning. I have probably had less than 500km in the wet, hardly anything at all. It's all new to me. I hope this bad luck out of the way. I'm still leading the world championship and find that quite amusing after everything that has happened. I had more fun than in the past nine races put together,” he blurted.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007, posted by Auto Rider at 10:02 PM

Despite of the heavy rain that poured at the European Formula One Grand Prix on Sunday, for Alonso, rain at Nurburgring is stardust!

After a series of frustrating races, double-world champion Alonso has finally hit a stardust shower. Fernando has more to rue than most about the reduced possibility of liquid stardust being sprinkled on race circuits in the near future because the Spaniard is an awesome competitor in the wet. "I like rain, no doubt, I am always quite happy to go and have some fun in it," he explained.

Race analysts say that Alonso is mega in the rain adding that could be the reason he is living in England rather than in Spain.

Alonso radiates glee and jubilation after winning the much-concluded European Grand Prix. In his race report, The Times' motoring correspondent Edward Gorman reminded enthusiasts. “You often hear it said that, to make Formula One more interesting, Bernie Ecclestone, the sport's ringmaster, should have sprinkler systems installed at every track so that water can be brought into play,” said Gorman.

“At a thrilling, chaotic and dramatic European Grand Prix here yesterday - won by an ecstatic Fernando Alonso for McLaren Mercedes, from Felipe Massa, who was second for Ferrari, and Mark Webber, who was third for Red Bull Racing - you could see exactly why people think that,” added Gorman.

The next F1 race is the Hungarian GP on Aug 5 in Budapest.

In the coming races, Alonso could be wishing for more great monsoons in his favor…

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Friday, July 20, 2007, posted by Auto Rider at 8:46 PM

Although McLaren is leading Ferrari in the constructors’ championship standings, Ferrari is staging a comeback of sorts. After bowing down to McLaren in the North American leg of the Formula One season, Ferrari has come back with two consecutive wins - both by former McLaren driver Kimi Raikkonen.

Kimi Raikkonen is currently third in the drivers’ championship standings behind McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. Raikkonen is just six points behind the double world champion Alonso and 18 points behind rookie sensation Lewis Hamilton.

Although going into the European Grand Prix after two consecutive wins, Raikkonen has to contend with history as his last three races at the Nürburgring resulted to retirement. During the last two races, the car performed at its highest level, better than a Ferrari.

The race though is taking a backseat to the spying scandal which involves Ferrari and McLaren. According to preliminary information, a Ferrari employee is secretly divulging secret information to a McLaren employee. The matter is already being investigated by the sport’s ruling body. The FIA has already summoned McLaren to an inquiry which will be held four days after the race.

Massa, Raikkonen, Hamilton, and Alonso said that they are not concerned about the issue for one thing or another. “I don't want to discuss it, because for sure it is not a nice thing and I prefer to concentrate on my racing,” said Massa. Alonso also said that he is focusing on driving.


, posted by Auto Rider at 7:28 PM

After denying that Coughlan is passing the information to other team members, McLaren questioned the FIA as to the legality of the movable ‘floor’ design of the Ferrari cars. The team approached the governing body of the sport at the Australian Grand Prix.

After McLaren approached the FIA concerning the ‘floor’ design of the Ferrari cars, the ruling body mandated Ferrari to change the design. According to reports, this caused the slump the Italian team met after the Australian Grand Prix. This shows that McLaren has information concerning the technical details of Ferrari cars.

McLaren has much to loose in the scandal. For one, the reputation of the team will be undermined. Using a particular Ferrari design for a McLaren car could even result to a poor performing car.

McLaren currently leads the constructors’ championship standings ahead of Ferrari.


Thursday, July 19, 2007, posted by Auto Rider at 9:02 PM

Although the car has been camouflaged, it is easy to distinguish it as the next WRX STI. The hood scoop which is prominent in almost any Subaru auto model gave the pre-production car away.

Changes made to the redesigned WRX STI include the revision of the grille. The 2008 WRX STI sports a larger grille which, in auto speak, is called the egg-crate design because of its resemblance. The hood scoop which gave the car away as the new WRX STI is larger than the hood scoop on its predecessor. Surely, with the exterior of the WRX STI revised for the 2009 model year, it should be expected that it will sport refined Subaru WRX parts.

Another change made to the WRX STI is a bigger spoiler on top of its rear hatch. This might be revised to give the WRX STI better aerodynamics.

Although no word has come out yet from the camp of Subaru regarding the specs of the WRX STI, it is speculated that it will be equipped with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The said engine is expected to have a power output of about 325 hp. According to Edmunds, although spy photographers have provided pictures of the 2009 WRX STI, the official launching of the WRX STI will be at the 2007 Tokyo Auto Show which is slated to be held at Makuhari Messe in Chiba City from the 26th of October to the 11th of November.

Photo via Motortrend


, posted by Auto Rider at 8:20 PM

German automaker Mercedes-Benz has strong ties with Formula One and it is banking on the popularity of the sport’s drivers for its new TV ad. The said television commercial will feature Vodafone McLaren Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso as well as former McLaren driver and world champion Mika Hakkinen.

In the Mercedes-Benz TV ad, Hamilton and Alonso will reveal that they have racing in their blood. “Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton have a passion for auto racing,” said Norbert Haug, the head of Mercedes-Benz Motor Sports. A sneak preview of the commercial will be aired at the Mercedes-Benz Internet TV at on the 20th of this month. “The idea for this commercial originated in our brand philosophy,” said Dr. Olaf Göttgens, the Vice President for Brand Communications Mercedes-Benz Passenger Cars. "Motor sports embody the passion that characterizes Mercedes-Benz.”

The commercial is said to have a twist at the endings since Hamilton and Alonso will be outdoing each other most of the time. That is where Hakkinen comes in. At the end of the commercial, Hakkinen will outdo both Alonso and Hamilton in their contest in a sauna.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007, posted by Auto Rider at 8:56 PM

The Ford Motor Company’s Indian arm recently announced that they are indeed planning to introduce a small car in the growing Indian auto market. Today, about 80 percent of new vehicles sold in India are small cars. Aside from developing small cars for the Indian auto market, Ford is also concentrating on the development of -equipped diesel cars - an example of which is the recently launched Fusion diesel. Indian car buyers are looking for fuel efficient cars and diesel vehicles is one of the solutions.

According to studies conducted on the Indian auto market, 30 percent of auto buyers in India prefer diesel powered cars than gasoline ones. The introduction of the diesel Fusion is expected to boost the sale of diesel powered cars in the Indian auto market.

"Fusion is a car for urban users, and, with fuel prices going up many customers prefer diesel as the fuel-price equation is in favor of diesel," President Mathews said earlier in June.


Friday, July 13, 2007, posted by Auto Rider at 9:44 PM

The Ford Motor Co. and Lear Corp. will mark an automotive milestone when the production of soy-based foam for seats begins in the 2008 Mustang. Ford and Lear collaborated with the United Soybean Board - New Uses Committee (a group of 64 farmers and agriculture industry leaders), Urethane Soy Systems Company, Bayer Corporation and Renosol Corporation on soy-foam development.

"Soy is a very green, renewable resource," said Debbie Mielewski, the technical leader for Ford's Materials Research & Advanced Engineering Department. Ford said that the environmental advantages include reduced carbon dioxide emissions in manufacturing compared to petroleum-based foam, lower energy use to produce the soy foam and reduced dependence on foreign oil.

Each vehicle manufactured contains an average of 30 pounds of petroleum-based foam. The foam, which is 40 percent soy and 60 percent oil-based, costs about the same as conventional foam that is fully oil-based, Mielewski said. Ford hopes to use the new seat foam in more models in the upcoming 2008 model year, Mielewski added.

Ford was the first automaker in the world to demonstrate that soy-based polyols could be used at high percentage levels to make foam capable of meeting or exceeding automotive requirements. In 2004, Ford and Lear formed a partnership to commercialize soy-foam applications, with initial work concentrating on the molding of headrest and armrest components.


Thursday, July 12, 2007, posted by Auto Rider at 12:51 AM

If there’s one thing that can save Ford Motor Co., it is another hit, says Freeman Thomas, Ford's director of strategic design. Today, Thomas and his team at Ford's advanced design studio in Irvine, Calif., are trying to do it again. Good thing Thomas knows a thing or two about designing hits.

Before defecting to the Dearborn automaker a couple of years ago, Thomas was the design guru at Chrysler Group. There, he designed the concept that became the Chrysler 300. Thomas also played a key role in designing the concepts that led to the Volkswagen New Beetle and Audi TT. Thomas calls design the great differentiator -- the thing we auto purchasers buy when they are shopping for a car that says "me." But great design is unworkable without great risk. "The auto industry is a dinosaur," Thomas says.

Like many attendees, Mulally loved Ford's stunning Interceptor concept. Even though it will not be produced, the Interceptor serves as a platform for several design cues that Thomas says will be incorporated into future Ford products.

So, does Thomas think he has another game-changing hit in his studio today? "I definitely do," he says. "But I can't tell you what it is."


Wednesday, July 11, 2007, posted by Auto Rider at 11:53 PM

Toyota Motor Corp.'s North American chief said vehicles powered by gasoline-electric hybrid engines will dominate U.S. roads as fuel prices continue to rise. The largest Japanese automaker hopes high fuel prices push drivers from gas guzzlers to more efficient product lines.

"Eventually, everything will be a hybrid," said Jim Press, president of Toyota Motor North America, in an interview Tuesday in New York. Hybrids have been driving Toyota's growth in the U.S., he said.

Toyota sells three out of every five hybrids purchased in the U.S., most of them Prius models.

Toyota, Japan's biggest carmaker and second to General Motors worldwide, is aiming to make as many as 400,000 gasoline-electric vehicles in 2006, including Prius cars, Camry sedans, Highlander sport utility vehicles and Coaster buses, Katsuaki Watanabe, president of Toyota, said at an investor conference in New York Monday. Hybrid vehicles combine a gasoline engine with a battery pack that is recharged through braking. A Prius hybrid carries a sticker price of $20,875 in California.

"The Prius is the forerunner," Press said. The Prius is one of the first mass-produced and marketed hybrid electric vehicles on the roads today. The Prius was a milestone model for the largest Japanese automaker. Car owners also want to emphasize they are driving an environment-friendly car. There are currently 12 hybrids available, including the Civic hybrid from Honda Motor Co and the Escape SUV from Ford Motor Co. The receipts fell 6.4 percent this year.

"We believe that in 10 years the world will be filled with hybrids," Mr. Okamoto said.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007, posted by Auto Rider at 11:12 PM

We are all used to receive yearly information about the top then car movies as it is released annually by While six among the top ten cars last year remained to be on the top ten picks.

All the favorites cars whether it is old or new that appeared on the big screen are included on the top ten car movies list of 2007. As usual, the previous year’s number one still remains to be on top. Yes, I am referring to the Back to the Future’s DeLorean DMC-12.

The three new car movies on the top ten list were the 1977 Pontiac Trans Am, (Smokey and the Bandit), 1976 AMC Pacer, (Wayne's World) and 1932 Ford coupe, (American Graffiti). Other car movies remained to be on the list.

Patrick Olsen, the managing editor of the said, "When we came up with our list of Top 10 Movie Cars last summer, we had no idea our readers would be so passionate about their favorite car films".

The Top Ten list of Car Movies in 2007.

No. 1: 1981 DeLorean DMC-12, (Back to the Future)

No. 2: 1977 Pontiac Trans Am, (Smokey and the Bandit)

No. 3: 1961 Ferrari 250 GT, (Ferris Bueller's Day Off)

No. 4: 1964 Aston Martin DB5, (Goldfinger)

No. 5: 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390, (Bullitt)

No. 6: 1976 AMC Pacer, (Wayne's World)

No. 7: 1932 Ford coupe, (American Graffiti)

No. 8: 1974 Dodge Monaco, (The Blues Brothers)

No. 9: 1959 Cadillac Ambulance, (Ghostbusters)

No. 10: 2003 Mini Cooper S, (The Italian Job)


, posted by Auto Rider at 10:00 PM

Kimi Raikkonen of Finland as they celebrate on the podium after the French Grand Prix at the Magny Cours circuit July 1, 2007.

Finland's Kimi Raikkonen won the French Grand Prix on Sunday, leading Brazilian team mate Felipe Massa in a Ferrari one-two to end McLaren's winning streak.

McLaren's 22-year-old rookie Lewis Hamilton was third but extended his lead over team mate and double world champion Fernando Alonso to 14 points with his eighth podium finish in as many races.

"I didn't get the best start, all I saw was Kimi come flying past," said Hamilton, who was seeking his third win in a row.

Instead, he crossed the line 32 seconds behind Raikkonen after being overtaken for the first time in his Formula One career.

"But I've got good points for the championship, which is the key and I still think we can take it to them at the next race," added the Briton, who made three stops to the Ferrari drivers' two.

"You can't win every race, the important thing is to be consistent."


, posted by Auto Rider at 9:11 PM

Nissan Motor Co. is recalling 140,582 of its 2007 Altima cars, the automaker's best-selling U.S. vehicle, because the air filter can catch fire if a hot object is drawn into it.

The recall of the automaker's best-selling car in the United States affects Altima cars with a 2.5-liter, four- cylinder engine. The present generation Altima sports improved with comfy accessories, and cutting-edge technology. The 2008 Altima coupe was released on May 25, 2007. It is designed to rival Honda Accord, Pontiac G6, and Toyota Camry Solara, The 2008 Altima Coupe, unveiled at the 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show, is Nissan's first-ever two-door Altima. The 2008 Altima Coupe is available with two engines: the VQ35DE in the sedan, a 270-horsepower 3.5-liter 24-valve DOHC V6 or the QR25DE, a 175 hp 2.5-liter DOHC 16-valve inline 4-cylinder. The 4-cylinder version of the coupe has a base price of $20,490, while the 3.5-liter V6 will has a base price of $24,890. The hybrid version of Altima, Nissan's first hybrid car, features the QR25DE engine, CVT and electric motor.

The recall affects Altimas built from Sept. 25, 2006, through May 11 at its plant in Smyrna, Tenn., and from Oct. 30. 2006, through May 11 at its Canton, Miss., factory, Nissan told the agency. The vehicles are under warranty, the company said. Nissan expects to notify all owners by Oct. 1.


, posted by Auto Rider at 8:31 PM

Mercedes-Benz USA launches a bigger Baby Benz imbibing the Mercedes standards. “The C-Class is a gateway to the Mercedes-Benz brand,” said Bernie Glaser, general manager, product management. The new Mercedes C-Class gets minor facelift for 2008 while the least-expensive 2007 model is discontinued. The new C-Class sedan has $31,975 as manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the C300 Sport model, with a standard six-speed manual transmission. The 2008 C300 Luxury model is $33,675, with a seven-speed automatic transmission. Sales of those three models start on August 7. All-wheel-drive 4Matic models will be available starting in September. The 2008 C-Class is the third generation of the Mercedes entry-level car. In 1993, the C-Class replaced the 190 Class, and the next generation C-Class generation debuted in 2000.

The all-new C-Class offers an impressive list of exciting features, including:
  • A choice of two V-6 engines (3.0 or 3.5 liter sport sedan and 3.0 liter luxury sedan)
  • Standard 7-speed automatic transmission (optional on C300 Sport Sedan)
  • Standard 8-way power driver and passenger seats
  • Adaptive brakes
  • Standard dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Burl Walnut trim (luxury sedan) or Aluminum trim (sport sedan)
  • DIRECT CONTROL adaptive suspension system with selective damping for comfort and handling
  • Standard Bluetooth® connectivity
  • Aggressive AMG bodystyling on sport sedan models
  • Standard power sunroof
  • Six standard air bags
  • 17-inch twin-spoke aluminum wheels (Optional 18-inch twin-spoke aluminum wheels on C300 and C350 Sport Sedans)

With the 2008 model, Mercedes is also trying to make its “Sport” and “Luxury” C-Class models more distinct from each other.