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Today, BMW unveiled their latest concept. Dubbed BMW Vision ConnectedDrive, the new concept continues BMW’s Vision that began in 2009 with the unveiling of the Vision EfficientDynamics. The latest Vision ConnectedDrive showcases some innovative driver assistance systems and mobility services, along with an unique and bold exterior design.

Press Release:

A multitude of unique new developments in the fields of drive systems and intelligent networking of the driver, the vehicle and the environment will be presented by BMW to the public at the Geneva Motor Show from 3rd to 13th of March 2011; all of these contributing to a steady, continuous increase in both vehicle efficiency and driving pleasure.

The leading position in the automobile world occupied by BMW in the development of innovative driver assistance systems and mobility services will be further strengthened at the 2011 Motor Show by the world premiere of an extraordinary concept vehicle.

The BMW Vision ConnectedDrive study demonstrates current and future methods of mobile networking in a particularly focused way. The design and technology of this spectacular roadster are aimed at making the vehicle an integral part of a networked world. Comfort, safety and the infotainment experience in the vehicle can be precisely optimised by the innovative functionality, individually tailored to suit the requirements of both the driver and passenger. New technologies and design concepts are employed to add even more facets to the unmistakable BMW driving pleasure.

From the inside to the outside – the vehicle concept.

The human being stands firmly in the focus of BMW Vision ConnectedDrive, more so than with any other vehicle. The vehicle and its functions have been designed to cater to the needs of the driver and the passenger – they are the starting point and the end of each and every interaction. This orientation towards the passengers is most obvious in the interior. Clear, enclosing symbolism divides the interior into three levels that could also be described as layers or shells. Each level expresses one of the three themes of BMW ConnectedDrive – comfort, Infotainment and safety – and integrates the appropriate functionality, operating panels and displays.

By creating the three layers in the BMW Vision ConnectedDrive’s interior, the layering principle, something also well known from BMW Vision EfficientDynamics, has been consistently further developed. The term “layering” describes a new approach to the BMW Group’s concept of design and its design language, redefining the way surfaces, interfaces and materials have been treated in the past. By working with different layers, organic radii and surfaces, the layering concept breaks up large volumes like the instrument panel, thus creating free space for features such as ventilation, operating elements or trays. The result is a modern, organically aesthetic, light and emotional design.

Fibre optics in various colours define the three levels and formally underscore the differentiation between each distinct area. All three areas have a dedicated, individual light installation, each discerned by colour, but also by rhythm, motion and texture. When a feature is activated, the path taken by the information through the vehicle is illustrated by means of transparent surfaces and fibre optic lighting, quite literally highlighting the interaction between the environment, the vehicle and the driver in the context of BMW ConnectedDrive.

BMW presents new aspects of its distinctive driving pleasure to the motoring public with the development of concepts for electromobility. In the framework of BMW EfficientDynamics, the purely electric drive has adopted a key role on the road to CO2-free mobility.

New 2011 Lexus CT 200h News 2011 Lexus CT200h Updates Motor ...

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Fisker plans to offer test drives of the Karma, shown, in the U.S. and Europe in May.

GENEVA – Electric car maker Fisker Automotive has ambitious sales goals. This year, the U.S. start-up company expects to sell "at least 7,000 units" of its first car, the $87,900 Karma hybrid sports car, Chief Operating Officer Bernhard Koehler told Automotive News Europe on the sidelines of the Geneva auto show.

"In 2012 we plan to sell 15,000 units of the Karma," Koehler added.

The Karma will be built in Finland by contract manufacturer Valmet Automotive. Production starts on March 21.

Fisker currently has 3,000 orders for the car, according to Koehler. The first Karmas will be delivered to customers in the United States in July and "some VIPs may get their car as early as June," he said.

Fisker will stage Karma test drive events in the United States and Europe in May.

The Karma will be available at first only as a four-door-version. Koehler said a second Karma variant will be shown at the Frankfurt auto show in September and will be launched in 2012. A third version – the Karma convertible - will be brought to market by early 2013. All Karma variants initially will be built by Valmet.

In late 2012, Fisker's second model line — a family sedan code-named Project Nina — will be built in Fisker's factory in Newport, Delaware, in the U.S. It is expected to sell for about $40,000 after a $7,500 federal tax credit.

Fisker is currently investing $120 million in the Delaware facility and within the next two years will expand headcount at the plant to 1,500 employees. Currently Fisker employs 500 people globally including contractors, Koehler said.

Fisker predicts that Project Nina will ultimately create or support 2,000 factory jobs in Delaware and more than 3,000 vendor and supplier jobs by 2014, as production ramps up to full capacity of 75,000-100,000 vehicles per year.

Fisker also plans to use the Delaware plant as a base for contract manufacturing. The automaker is planning to use one-third of an installed 300,000 units of capacity for its own vehicles. "We want to offer this manufacturing capacity to other automakers," Koehler said.

Fisker may build cars for Valmet in Delaware "if some of Valmet's customers need more capacity in the U.S.," Koehler said.

Fisker may build the next generation of the Karma at the Delaware plant, which it was buying from Motors Liquidation Co. for $18 million. Motor Liquidation is the legal entity disposing of former General Motor Co. assets.

GENEVA – Korean automaker SsangYong plans to launch sales in the United States as part of its ambitious global growth plans. The company also expects Europe to be its largest export market in 2011, company chairman Yoo Lee told Automotive News Europe.

Lee said SsangYong "aims to sell 120,000 units globally this year", with volume "doubling to 240,000 in two to three years".

Europe will be SsangYong's largest export market in 2011 with estimated 15,000 sales, according to Lee. "Our long term goal for Europe is to sell more than 30,000 units," Lee added.

SsangYong's biggest European markets are Spain, Germany, Benelux, Switzerland and France.

SsangYong has 800 dealers and 18 distributors in Europe. "But we want to expand our European network to more than 1,000 dealers," Lee said in an interview at the Geneva auto show.

Lee said the automaker plans to enter the U.S. market within five years. "We still need time to fulfill all strict emission and safety regulations," he said.

SsangYong sees a sales potential of up to 20,000 units per year in the U.S. entering the market in "two-to-three years from now – but within five years at the latest," Lee said.

SsangYong will continue to concentrate its product offerings on SUVs. The automaker will introduce the SUT1 sport utility truck, which was shown last week in Geneva in concept form, in Europe and other markets next year.

SsangYong plans to sell 1,000 units in Germany this year, the company's new Germany boss Ulrich Mehling told Automotive News Europe. "In the mid-term I see a potential of 3,000 cars," he said.

SsangYong vehicles are currently sold through 26 independent dealers in Germany. "By the year's end it will be 60 to 70 and in the mid-term we should have 150 dealer outlets," Mehling said.

SsangYong does not plan to build new plants abroad. Instead it aims to fully utilize its annual plant capacity of 240,000 units in Korea.

Mahindra & Mahindra, India's largest manufacturer of sport-utility vehicles and tractors, last month completed the purchase of a 70 percent stake in SsangYong.

Ford claimed Ferrari's new race car -- the F150th -- shared a name that was too close to its best-selling F-150 pickup line.

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Ford Motor Co has settled a federal lawsuit in which it accused Italian automaker Ferrari of infringing its trademark for the popular F-150 truck.

Ford dropped the case on Thursday, according to a filing in U.S. District Court in Detroit. Terms of the settlement were unclear from the filing.

"We're obviously pleased that we were able to resolve this amicably," Ford spokeswoman Anne Marie Gattari said.

In its lawsuit filed Feb. 9, Ford had accused Ferrari of improperly using the name F150 for a new Formula 1 racing car.

Ford complained that Ferrari also used a logo that bore a striking resemblance to that on the Ford F-150, the top-selling vehicle in the United States.

A day after Ford filed the lawsuit, Ferrari said it would use only the full name of its vehicle, Ferrari F150th Italia, on the Formula 1 car.

Gattari said because the new name "still contained F and 150," that change "was not acceptable to us."

The Italian automaker Fiat SpA has an 85 percent stake in Ferrari.


Although the 12-year Renault-Nissan partnership is often viewed as a success story in an industry littered with botched tie-ups, Renault investors seem less than thrilled about it lately. On Feb. 10, CEO Carlos Ghosn unveiled a new six-year business plan for Renault, promising to generate more cash and profits to reward shareholders. To his surprise, investors gave it the thumbs down, and Renault's shares have fallen about12 percent since the announcement through Friday's close

Renault's softly spoken Pelata, left, may fall on his sword to protect his flamboyant boss Ghosn, right.

PARIS (Reuters) - Judo enthusiast Patrick Pelata knows all about falls, and he looks almost certain to take one to protect his boss Carlos Ghosn as an embarrassing spying debacle engulfs Renault's boardroom.

As Chief Operating Officer, 55 year-old Pelata took a leading role when the company shocked the car industry in January, firing three top executives and going public with an investigation into industrial espionage.

In a newspaper interview today he hinted that his job is on the line now that there are doubts about the affair and a possibility that the allegations may be unfounded.

The case has strained relations between the French government and Renault, as the 15 percent state-owned carmaker came under fire for not informing authorities of its suspicions soon enough and carrying out its own investigation first.

France's Economy Minister Christine Lagarde said Renault could face "consequences" from the episode, and Pelata said they would be accepted "up to the highest level of the company, that is to say up to myself."

A source close to the carmaker told Reuters Pelata would probably fall on his sword to protect Ghosn, who is CEO of Renault and its alliance partner Nissan.

"It's likely to be Patrick Pelata who forms the shield to protect the CEO," the source said on Friday. "In this story, somebody has to throw themselves on the grenade."

A Renault spokeswoman declined to comment.

Ghosn's right-hand man

Ghosn's right-hand man, Pelata holds engineering degrees from two of France's top engineering schools as well as a Ph.D. in socio-economics.

He joined Renault in 1984 as a workshop manager at the Flins plant near Paris, and rose swiftly through the ranks, becoming a member of the Renault management committee in 1998.

In 1999, Pelata, a judo enthusiast who also has a pilot's licence, went to work for Nissan in Tokyo.

Pelata, who comes from a tiny village near the Pyrenees, met Brazilian-born Ghosn at university, but their different styles belie their long history.

Pelata, with his sharp suits and rectangular-framed glasses, is softly spoken, while Ghosn's oratorical style shows he relishes the reputation as a car industry guru that he earned by transforming Nissan from a money-losing basket case into a carmaking success story.

The source close to Renault said Pelata's exit would allow Ghosn to stay. "This will go high up, but to avoid it going up to the CEO, I think Patrick Pelata will serve as a barrier," the source said.

But Pelata might not be the only one to go. "He coordinated the activity, but he didn't do it alone," the source added.

Dealers can expect Hyundai Sonata Hybrid deliveries to trickle in before becoming more widely available in late March or early April.

LOS ANGELES -- Delivery to dealerships of most of Hyundai’s initial Sonata Hybrids has been delayed until at least late March because the brand is altering the car’s device that emits an artificial engine noise at low speeds.

Hyundai planned to have the car available in January, but only a small number of the vehicles are in dealer stock, Hyundai spokesman Jim Trainor said. Trainor declined to say how many Sonata Hybrids have arrived in the United States, but said about 700 units are in port or at sea.

Dealers can expect cars to trickle into dealerships before becoming more widely available in late March or early April, Trainor said.

The delay comes after Hyundai decided late last year to change the car’s “virtual engine sound system.”

The system mimics the sound of an idling gasoline engine to alert nearby pedestrians of the car’s presence when driving at low speeds. Concerns about the safety of pedestrians being unable to hear hybrids, which are nearly silent when moving at low speeds, prompted U.S. lawmakers to pass a law in January requiring automakers to install sound-emitting devices.

Under the law signed by President Obama on Jan. 4, all hybrids will be required to have such devices in a few years.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is writing the rule to enforce the new law.

Hyundai had planned to have a button on the Sonata Hybrid’s instrument panel to turn the virtual engine sound system on and off, Trainor said. But late last year, after hearing that NHTSA was considering banning such switches, Hyundai decided not to install the button.

“We were hearing that at some point NHTSA would not allow [the noise device] to be turned off,” Trainor said. “We said, ‘why put this thing out there now and have to redo it in a few months?’”

Should Formula 1 Go Wet


Recently the CEO of Fomula-1 has been making a series of changes to make the sport more exciting. Even though these cars use some of the most advanced wheel hub bearing and fuel pump set ups ever seen, he still believes more excitement is needed. Last week Bernie Ecclestone the CEO of F1 announced he would like to install a track wetting system that would simulate rain at the drop of a hat.

There are many schools of thought to go along with this idea, the main belief behind this is that it would make the races more interesting and increase the competition for all drivers. When the track is wet it makes the cars a bit slow and harder to control but also makes passing much more difficult. When passing is harder it makes the drivers have to be more creative to get a good pass.

The other side of the argument is that adding water to the track will increase the number of raik_kubi_mona_2008_470313crashes and will endanger the drivers for no reason. When the track is wet traction is reduced and the cars slide and lose a good bit of grip which will slow down the race and make it less exciting for the fans.

In the end it’s all about the fans, if we don’t like it…it won’t last.

Toyota FT-86 2011

Fans of the long-gone Supra, MR2 and even the Celica may rejoice; as we tipped you off a few hours ago, Toyota has just released the first official photos of the FT-86, a near-production concept model of its Subaru co-developed rear-wheel drive coupe that will make its world debut at the Tokyo Motor Show later this month. The production version of the 2+2 seater sports coupe, whose conceptual name harks back to the popular RWD Corolla AE86 of the mid-1980s, is due to go on sale towards the end of 2011.
"The FT-86 Concept is neither an electric vehicle nor a hybrid vehicle, but is a sports model with a gasoline engine developed to convey the essential appeal of automobiles in a new era. It is a must-see concept car that expresses TMC's desire to once again create a Toyota sports car," the Japanese automaker said in a release published on its official site.
The compact-sized coupe is powered by a front-mounted, 2.0-liter four-cylinder boxer engine sourced from Subaru that drives the rear wheels. Official details are still scarce, but our sources tell us that Toyota opted to equip the concept model with a naturally-aspirated version of Subaru's 2.0-liter flat flour that produces 150HP in the Impreza.
However, it is most likely that the Japanese automaker has tweaked the engine to crank out a few more ponies boosting output closer to 200 horsepower.
It's worth noting that in Japan, Subaru also offers a 2.0-liter turbocharged boxer with 250HP that powers the Impreza S-GT that we all know as the WRX in most markets.
It's still too early to know which powertrains will be available on the production version of the FT-86, but Subaru's 2.0-liter and 2.5-liter four-cylinder boxer engines (depending on the market) in both naturally aspirated and turbocharged forms would have to be the most serious candidates.
The coupe is quite compact in dimensions measuring 4,160mm (163.7-in.) in length, 1,760mm (69.3-in.) in width, and 1,260mm (49.6-in.) in height with a wheelbase of 2,570mm (101.2-in.).

The FT-86 Concept was penned at Toyota's European Design Development ED2 studio that's located in Nice, France. The exterior design, which obviously won't change much when it reaches production in 2011, is clearly inspired by Toyota's FT-HS hybrid concept that was unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in 2007. And yes, we must admit that our first take is very positive.
Needless to say that the FT-86's interior styling is far too conceptual for production, but it does provide a hint or two (no more though...) at the design direction Toyota is taking with the production model.
As we've already said before, the FT-86 will also spawn a Subaru version that will share the same underpinnings and mechanical hardware but according to the two Japanese automakers, will feature its own distinct styling. Hopefully, Subaru's "design team" won't disappoint us this time...