Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show


Horntones enables your car horn to play MP3s

February 14, 2007 We’re reserving judgement on this one, though it definitely deserves comment. Horntones is a Californian company which will begin selling its US$150 car horn customisation tool in April. Basically, it enables your car horn to play any sound file – music, voices, rude sounds, sirens … anything. You’ll also need to pony up the readies for an amplifier and the sounds are loaded to the unit via a USB flash drive. The Horntones unit can be installed in or sit atop the dash and holds eight sounds – more than enough to offend almost everybody, with the constabulary included no doubt. While we think that customising your car horn is kinda cool, we also think it’s kinda scarey that such tools can be sold to people without them undergoing an IQ test first - this device has the potential to cause uncertainty on the roads, or worse.  Read More

Passat Bluemotion to debut at Geneva Motor Show

February 14, 2007 Volkswagen has released first details of the Passat BlueMotion ahead of its debut at the Geneva Motor Show and is claiming that no other vehicle of its size consumes less fuel: the Passat BlueMotion saloon returns 55.4 mpg (5.1 litres per 100 km) and produces just 136 g/km of CO2. The first BlueMotion model was the Polo, launched in Germany in the mid-2006 which was such an immediate success its production figures have already been increased threefold.  Read More

Dodge Demon Roadster Concept

February 14, 2007 To be shown for the first time at the 77th International Motor Show in Geneva next month, the Dodge Demon concept is a compact, nimble “roadster with an attitude,” a balance of classic sports car proportion and simplicity blended with modern design and performance. Pitched as an attainable dream car, the Dodge Demon is powered by a 2.4 litre 172 bhp engine driving through a six-speed manual transmission.  Read More

KTM's 700kg 300 bhp carbon fibre X-BOW roadster

February 12, 2007 Austrian motorcycle manufacturer KTM has consistently shown over 50 years that it can create fast, razor-sharp off-road motorcycles with qualities appreciated by the elite yet still evident to the ordinary rider. A better than average rider on a KTM steps up a class – from journeyman to expert, finding it’s possible to carry an extra few mph almost everywhere. There is nothing extraneous on the KTM – it’s uncompromisingly bare bones, just what you need to go fast. The company’s motorcycles have won world titles almost every year in every form of off-road competition, and apart from an ill-fated venture into MOTOGP, it has become competitive at everything it has attempted. The company went through a renaissance in 1992 courtesy of becoming insolvent, and the restructure conceived and built a framework for the future, forging a world class infrastructure to match its core expertise of designing and building no-nonsense, ready-to-race machinery. Over the last 15 years, the company’s average annual sales growth rate has been 21 percent with an even better growth in turnover of 25 percent. In that time, annual production has grown from 6000 to 85,000 bikes, the labour force has grown by a factor of ten and the Austrian marque is now the second largest motorcycle manufacturer in Europe. Its first ventures into roadgoing two-wheeled machinery such as the 950 Supermoto and 990 Adventure received global acclaim from the motorcycling press and sketches of a KTM Quad bike circulated last year. The company’s aspirations are seemingly a long way from fulfilled as it now intends to deliver the same purist, filterless riding experience to four wheels. The X-Bow is a four wheeled motorcycle track car for the road, air-conditioned to perfectly match ambient conditions – that is, when it rains, you get wet. Like most KTM fare, the X-Bow is ready-to-race – the suspension is designed to enable you to drive at ridiculous speeds safely. At less than ballistic speeds, it will be Spartan and uncompromisingly rigid. The sophisticated carbon fibre monocoque chassis probably weighs less than you do at around 70 kg, yet offers superb rigidity and safety. Built in cooperation with tradition-rich racing car specialist Dallara, the chassis is of an ilk currently reserved for use in Formula One and elite street sports cars. Through a new construction and production process, the development partners have created a method of mass producing the technology far more cost-efficiently than previously, cutting the traditional price from US$500,000 plus to less than US$100,000. The engine is a lightweight, compact four cylinder engine made of aluminium boasting the most modern engine technology: four valve technology, FSI direct fuel injection, high pressure injection valves, turbo charge, a smooth, adjustable intake camshaft and two balancer shafts. With this engine, the basic version of the KTM X-Bow will achieve 220 hp and a 0-100 km/h time under four seconds, but there will also be a version with 300 bhp at its disposal. All up, the car will weigh only about 700 kg. The EUR 40,000 basic version will make its first public appearance at the Geneva Motor Show next month and the first production run of 100 units will be available later this year.  Read More

The most expensive new car ever sold in the USA

February 9, 2007 The first Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe destined for the USA has been bought at a charity auction for US$2 million, making it the most expensive new car ever sold in the USA. Rolls-Royce launched the new Phantom Drophead Coupé at the Detroit Motor Show last month. The hand made two-door, four-seat convertible combines the latest in lightweight aluminium technology and is one of the fastest open top four seaters in the world. All of the US$407,000 Drophead Coupés to be built in 2007 have already been sold.  Read More

Zeroshift Automated Manual Transmission could be an automotive killer app

February 9, 2007 One of the most remarkable claims we’ve heard in a long time and it appears to be true – UK-based technology company Zeroshift has developed the killer app for automobiles – an ingeniously simple way of replacing synchromesh in a manual gearbox with a reliable, cheap-to-manufacture mechanism that allows completely seamless gearchanges. Whatsmore, the Zeroshift Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) changes gear faster than any other gearbox (gearchange time is, as the name suggests, zero) and provides improved acceleration, economy and emissions in any vehicle to which it is applied, be front wheel drive cars, rear wheel drive cars, four wheel drive, motorcycles or trucks. For road vehicles, extra refinement is available by combining gear shift actuation with a clutch, and the resultant system is claimed to be more efficient than Audi/VW’s DSG and a cost effective alternative to the traditional torque converter based automatic transmission. Viewed from a performance basis, the Zeroshift has another compelling attribute – it makes the same vehicle faster – when accelerating with a normal transmission, each up-shift requires the driver to cut the torque momentarily by lifting the gas pedal and dipping the clutch. Good drivers can do this very quickly but not as quick as the Zeroshift which enables the gas pedal to remain pressed firmly against the floor, without any torque interruption. Accordingly, if it takes 30ms for each gearchange, and you have 30 gear changes per lap for 60 laps, Zeroshift offers a 54 second advantage if all other factors are equal. There’s an SAE paper on the subject available here and a great article on datalogging during the development of the system here.  Read More

International debuts Special Edition MXT Mega Image Pickup

February 9, 2007 International Truck and Engine is marking the 100th anniversary of its first truck (built in 1907 at McCormick Works in Chicago) by unleashing the ultimate image pickup truck. The International MXT Limited 4x4 pickup (Top Image) is being appropriately showcased at the 2007 Chicago Auto Show – in the same city it all began. Geared toward those who want to make a powerful statement and demand exclusivity, the International MXT provides an imposing presence on or off the road. The 300 bhp V8 engine produces 530 lb. ft. of torque and the unit is capable of towing just shy of eight tons. The MXT was originally displayed at the Chicago Auto Show in 2005 as a concept vehicle. Since then, it has undergone extensive engineering and testing to provide the comfort and amenities of a luxury interior within its behemoth exterior. The normal production version of the MXT (pictured at bottom) is also now available.  Read More

Mazda Hakaze Concept Car: 4-seat coupe-style compact crossover SUV

February 8, 2007 Mazda will showcase its new Hakaze design concept at the 77th annual Geneva International Motor Show (Salon International de l’Auto de Geneve) next month, continuing its ‘Nagare’ design language lineage onwards from the Mazda Nagare and Mazda Ryuga which were revealed earlier this motor show season. Even when standing still, Hakaze seems to be effortlessly cutting through the air. The Hakaze is a four-seat coupe-style compact crossover SUV designed at Mazda’s European Design Centre and aimed at people in their thirties and forties who lead active, adventurous lifestyles.  Read More

SAM Automotive Kiosk scans, analyzes and reports on your vehicle

February 8, 2007 It is indeed curious to think that your car collects and stores all sorts of data, but the analysis of that data is still largely the domain of the people you pay to look after your car. Now a new service threatens to redress the balance. Smart Auto Management SAM taps into a vehicle's On Board Diagnostic system (OBD) and prints an easy-to-understand report that reveals existing or pending problems. Motorists can save time and money by connecting their vehicle to a SAM self-service kiosk that provides vital information about their vehicle, instantly and affordably, allowing them to make smart choices about vehicle maintenance, vehicle safety and the purchase and sale of used cars. SAM taps into the On Board Diagnostic System of a 1996 or newer vehicle; scans and analyzes over 2,000 system codes pertaining to the engine, transmission, safety systems, body, chassis and more; and provides a printed report on the spot. In less than 10 minutes, for US$15, SAM scans a vehicle's On Board Diagnostic system, and prints a comprehensive report on the spot that identifies any existing or potential problems with the vehicle's engine, transmission, safety systems, body, chassis, and more.  Read More

The world’s first horizontally-opposed turbo diesel engine

February 8, 2007 In 1896, when Karl Benz patented the first internal combustion engine, it had horizontally opposed pistons, and the flat boxermotor (the German term for flat engine) has been powering some of the world’s best known automobiles (Porsche, Volkswagen’s Beetle and Kombi f’rinstance), motorcycles (Honda’s Goldwing and BMW’s mainstay Boxer range) and aircraft (Lycoming and Continental) ever since. Japanese automotive company Subaru has used the boxer design almost exclusively and is now pioneering a new phase for horizontally opposed piston engines with the release of the world’s first horizontally-opposed turbo diesel engine. The Japanese all-wheel drive specialist will be displaying an entire drivetrain at the 77th Geneva International Motor Show next month.  Read More

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