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Honda’s Natural Gas-Powered 2006 Civic GX and home refuelling appliance for New York marke...

April 26, 2006 Honda will begin retailing its compressed natural gas (CNG) Civic GX to New York state customers in the northern hemisphere autumn. The Civic GX uses lower-cost CNG as an alternative to gasoline, producing near zero emissions, making owners eligible for significant tax credits, enabling them to drive in the car pool lane and most significantly, enabling them to conveniently refuel at home using a natural gas refueling appliance. Significant advantages are available from the system as natural gas is 25 percent cheaper than gas at a refueling station, and 50 percent cheaper from a home refueling appliance. The “Phill” natural gas home refueling appliance is manufactured by FuelMaker and can be mounted to a wall either indoors or outdoors, and allows the GX to refuel overnight directly from a homeowner’s existing natural gas supply line. It is designed to offer ease of operation with simple “start” and “stop” buttons, and automatically shuts off when the tank is full. Civic GX owners who do not wish to purchase Phill can refuel at commercial natural gas refueling stations.  Read More

Schumacher and Ferrari take San Marino F1

April 24, 2006 Ferrari F1 supremo Jean Todt had this to say when Michael Schumacher scored a narrow win over Fernando Alonso in Sunday's San Marino Grand Prix at Imola: "When I was going up to the podium, I said to Michael that I could not remember the way anymore, as it had been such a long time since the last victory!” The result came courtesy of hard work and was “all the better coming in front of so many of our fans and employees who filled their own grandstand here.” Ferrari's win moves Schumacher to second in the Drivers' championship, and gives Ferrari 30 points in the World Championship to Renault's 51 and McLaren's 33. Renault F1 Managing director Flavio Briatore, after this week giving notice he would be extending his contract with the ultra-successful Renault team, thought it was just another day at the office. “We had both cars in the points, Fernando has a big lead in the drivers’ championship, and it was another good team performance today,” said the colourful power player. Sadly, the drama of the event surrounded the historic circuit’s reputation as one on which it is almost impossible to overtake. Schumacher started from pole so raging championship favourite Fernando Alonso could only hope to pressure his rival into a mistake that never came. Schumacher had every reason to make a mistake, as his tyres were suffering “a bit of graining” and he drove a large portion of the race at modest speeds but on the limits of adhesion.  Read More

200 mph Carbon Fiber Electric Supercar to cost US$125,000

April 23, 2006 Electric cars have until now been relatively tame machines compared to their petroleum-engined supercar brethren from Bugatti, Koenigsegg and McLaren. The Venturi Fetish was the world’s fastest and most exclusive electric car until this week, being assembled to order by hand in Monaco but it has a top speed of just 180 km/h – hardly the sort of performance you’d sell the kids for, and indeed, that may be necessary given that it comes with a price tag starting at 450,000 Euro (US$583,000). The stakes have now been raised raised considerably though as Hybrid Technologies has joined with Los Angeles-based exotic sports car manufacturer Mullen motors to create a new benchmark for electric car performance. Mullen’s distinctive GT with its combination of style, handling and performance was recently named by Forbes magazine as the 7th fastest American production car, an honour shared with Saleen and Dodge Viper. The remarkable news is that with its transplanted 700 horsepower electric motor, the new electric sports car will not only be much faster than the Venturi Fetish, but will perform slightly better than the current petrol-engined Mullen GT with a top speed of 200 mph and a 0-60 mph time of just over 3 seconds. The only external difference will be the badges.  Read More

world’s highest specific power diesel engine for land speed record vehicle

April 22, 2006 The JCB DIESELMAX has been created to break the world land speed record for a diesel powered automobiles. JCB is aiming to set a new land speed record for diesel vehicles with a super sleek streamliner car to be driven by Wing Commander Andy Green, the fastest man on Earth. The record attempt will take place on the famous Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah during August 2006.The stunning, nine metre long JCB DIESELMAX car boasts twin 4-cylinder, 5-litre JCB444-LSR engines with the world’s highest specific power diesel engines used in any automobile application. With each delivering 750hp and 1500Nm torque, the engines are over five times the power of the production version and at 150hp/litre, they exceed even motorsports applications as the world’s highest specific power diesels. At the same time the engines retain excellent fuel efficiency and very low emissions through the use of advanced combustion control and diesel particulate filter technology.  Read More

Caparo T1 at Monaco

April 22, 2006 We’ve already previewed the lightweight (less than 500kg), roadgoing Caparo T1, which a uses a compact 500bhp V8 engine to deliver a dramatic 1,000bhp-per-tonne power-to-weight ratio – nearly double that of the Bugatti Veyron. Well the Caparo had its coming out at the prestigious Top Marques show in Monaco yesterday when it was unveiled by no less than Prince Albert II.  Read More

Berlingo XTR+ enhanced traction 2WD van

April 20, 2006 Citroen’s new Berlingo XTR+ enhanced traction 2WD van is worthy of mention this week as it offers almost identical functionality at a reduced cost to important areas such as public utilities, forestry and agricultural operators. Businesses involved in these specialist areas require enhanced off-road capability from their light vans. With the benefits of higher ground clearance and improved traction, the new Berlingo XTR+ delivers significantly improved off-road capability for the 2WD van, but without the higher capital cost, weight and running costs associated with 4WD vehicles. Based on the 2.0HDi Enterprise 600 model, the new Berlingo XTR+ brings new, traction-enhancing technology to this sector, with a sophisticated limited slip differential with torque transfer capability between the two front driving wheels, which greatly enhances off-road performance.  Read More

Painting a metallic masterpeice - the extraordinary Faralli & Mazzanti Antas V8

April 20, 2006 Each year at the money-is-no-object end of the automotive market is the Top Marques exhibition held in Monte Carlo in April. The audience is focussed and ridiculously wealthy and the exhibitors are exclusively companies producing fine automobiles for those with stratospheric budgets and it’s just the place to see workmanship of the calibre of Bugatti, Koenigsegg, et al, all in the one place. Each year the number and excellence of the world's most exclusive automobiles grows and this year sees the coming out of something a bit special. The Antas V8 will undoubtedly be the talking point of this year’s show which opens today. The Antas is the work of Italian classic car restoration company Faralli & Mazzanti, though we expect the reaction to the prototype Antas V8 work to see the company forced into producing a lot more of these extraordinarily beautiful and lovingly handcrafted masterpieces. This is the first “berlinetta” to be born in the Faralli & Mazzanti workshop, and it’s totally inspired by the materials and philosophy that created the great special-bodied Italian cars of the past. The body of the car is entirely hand-crafted from aluminium, the engine a carburettored Maserati V8 engine. On delivery, the Antas comes equipped with a case covered in blue velvet bearing a silver plate with the identification numbers along with a book and DVD documenting the construction of your vehicle.  Read More

The Caterham Superlight 400 - 210 bhp, 525 kg, US$48,000

April 19, 2006 Caterham has revealed details of its latest racing-bred road car, the Superlight R400. The heart of the minimalist sportscar is a new Cosworth-developed 2.0-litre powerplant that is mated, for the first time, to the legendary de Dion chassis. Delivering an explosive 210bhp at 7600rpm, the engine is pushing a car weighing just 525kg, offering a massive 400bhp per tonne for truly amazing performance. With near-telepathic steering, muscular power delivery, and epic cornering ability, the R400 is a superlative car for the keen driver and capable of effortlessly sprinting out of the blocks to 60mph in 3.8 seconds. The bonus is the price, which is cheaper than the previous model at UKP 29,495 (US$52,600) or you can build it yourself for UKP 26,995 (US$48,100)  Read More

The trophies

April 18, 2006 The World Car of the Year Awards were announced over the weekend at the New York International Auto Show with the BMW 3-Series awarded the 2006 World Car of the Year, the Citroen C4 declared the World Car Design of the Year for 2006, the Porsche Cayman S taking out the 2006 World Performance Car title and the Honda Civic Hybrid scoring the title of World Green Car for 2006. The awards are the most prestigious of all automotive awards because the program is initiated by, organized by, and conducted by, automotive journalists from around the globe. Final voting on a variety of parameters is done by a jury of 46 international automotive journalists with voting tabulated by KPMG. Read on to see the details and the top three placegetters in each category.  Read More

Monster Tajima smashes Race To The Sky record in his 1000 horespower Suzuki Escudo

April 17, 2006 It’s not surprising that Japan’s Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima won the ‘Race to the Sky’ hillclimb last Sunday, one of the great hill climbs on the international calendar. Monster has now won the Silverstone ‘Race to the Sky’ seven times in his 1000 horsepower Suzuki so he’s getting to know the 14.5km course near Queenstown pretty well. Just the same, he exceeded all expectations when he smashed his own record set in 2003 by nine seconds, to win the title for the seventh time clocking 8. 01.17. Monster’s Suzuki Escudo is almost as legendary as he is, producing 981 bhp at 8100 rpm and 95kg-m of torque at 6500 rpm from the twin-turbo 2.7 litre V6. The most amazing thing though, is the space-frame car with carbon fibre and Kevlar bodywork which weighs just 1020kg fueled up with Nobuhiro strapped in.  Read More

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