Monthly Archives: March 2015

VW to take on Ford & GM with a line of commercial vehicles

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After a decades-long hiatus, Volkswagen is considering a return to the lucrative US commercial vehicle market. 

Company executives report that VW is looking into entering the pickup or van segment, or perhaps both. The two markets have been growing steadily over the past few years.

Which vehicle the company is wants to sell in the U.S. is still unknown, but VW has plenty to choose from. In Europe, it sells the Caddy, an all-new Ford Transit Connect-sized van that was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this month; the Transporter, a mid-size van set to be replaced by an all new model next month; and the starter home-sized Crafter, which shares the bulk of its components with the last-generation Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.

The current Amarok pickup truck (above) that has been sold worldwide since 2010, but is not expected to be sold in the US for several reasons. It’s much smaller than the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado. Secondly, it wasn’t designed to comply with U.S. regulations. However, the next-gen Amarok, which will be unveiled before the end of the decade, stands a good chance of spawning Volkswagen’s first U.S.-spec pickup since the Golf-based Caddy (which was built right here in Pennsylvania).

If given the green light, Volkswagen’s U.S.-bound commercial vehicles are expected to reach US markets in either late 2016 or early 2017. They will go a long way in helping Volkswagen reach its goal of becoming the world’s largest automaker by 2018.

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Sebring 12 Hours: Victory slips away from Porsche at the last minute

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 6.33.55 AMYou can’t win ’em all. That was never more evident than with Porsche factory team Saturday at the 12 Hours of Sebring.

At the 11-hour mark, both the No. 911 and No. 912 had a nearly perfect race, and were running 1-2 in their class with a good lead over third. Within minutes, however, twin incidents knocked them down the order.

When No. 912 made its final stop, the team could not remove the left rear wheel. The pit crew sent the car back around as they replaced their air gun. The mistake cost them two laps. Worse, the left rear soon began to wobble. The car limped back into the garage and packed it in for the race.

Moments later, the No. 911 car began to abruptly slow with gearbox issues. Coming from behind, the formerly third-place Corvette took command of GTLM as the No. 911 limped toward the finish.

As at the 24 Hours of Daytona, where the two cars crashed into one another during the night, we can only wonder what other tricks the racing gods might have up their sleeves when Porsche goes to LeMans in June.

 

 

Best Car for Escaping Killer Drones: Audi!

It’s only a matter of time before a surging tide of airborne drones bury us all in a hail of Apple Watches and Amazon deliveries. So we should have our fun at their expense now. Audi’s new minute-long commercial, a takeoff of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, plays on people’s fears of emerging technologies. It shows that technology, like lawyers, can be both good and bad.

2015 Audi R18 testing at Sebring

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Audi Sport’s latest R18 e-tron quattro LMP1-Hybrid challenger broke cover during private testing at Sebring international Raceway this week. The 2014 Le Mans winners are getting ready for their assault on the 2015 World Endurance Championship, starting with the 12 Hours of Sebring March 18-21. The complete driver lineup came to test the “RP5,” the fifth-generation R18, around the 3.7-mile course. They quickly broke the official track record of 1 minute 43.8 seconds, which Audi set during the 2013 race. The car reportedly turned laps in the low 1:42 range.

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The new R18’s most noticeable difference compared to the fourth-generation car is the reconfigured aerodynamics. The new nose is hugely different from anything Audi has raced since the brand began racing prototypes in 1999 — almost a Formula 1 car with fenders and a windshield. The ducted front wheel covers serve as incredibly long turning vanes. The nose is sharper and the sidepods, engine cover and rear bodywork are all new. More details on the R18, its hybrid engine, and more are to come later this month…presumably after the team wins the 12 Hours.

Testing continues into the weekend, as the team hopes to put 4,000 miles on the odometer. On Wednesday the car ran almost constantly 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., including several long stints in 80-degree temperatures. Showing both speed and durability, the Audi R18 presents competitors with a difficult challenge.

 

The new Porsche 911 GT3 RS

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In the new 911 GT3 RS, Porsche is once again breaking down the barrier between sports cars and race cars.

The Porsche 911 GT3 RS is equipped with the maximum degree of motorsport technology that is currently possible in a street-legal 911 that is suitable for everyday driving. Extensive modifications to its drive system, aerodynamics and lightweight design enhance performance even more than in the 911 GT3.

With a lap time of seven minutes and 20 seconds, the new 911 GT3 RS even beats the historic record value of the Carrera GT super sports car of just under seven minutes and 29 seconds on the North Loop of the Nürburgring. This once again qualifies the high-performance sports car as the benchmark in its class – directly at its launch. The 911 GT3 RS is celebrating its world premiere at the 2015 Geneva International Motor Show.

From zero to 100 km/h in 3.3 seconds

Motorsport expertise is the reason for this superior performance. The 911 GT3 RS is powered by a four-litre six-cylinder engine with 500 hp (368 kW) of power and 480 Newton metres of torque, combined with a specially developed PDK transmission. The engine, which has the largest displacement and most power of any naturally aspirated engine with direct fuel injection in the 911 family, accelerates the high-performance sports car from zero to 100 km/h in 3.3 seconds and to 200 km/h in 10.9 seconds.

Its combined NEDC fuel consumption is 12.7 l/100 km. Functions such as declutching by “paddle neutral” – which is comparable to pressing the clutch with a conventional manual gearbox – and speed limiting by the Pit Speed button have been customised for motorsport use. They give drivers more freedom in terms of driving dynamics, while also providing them with more assistance when driving on a circuit racetrack.

The RS model is around ten kilograms lighter than the 911 GT3

The 911 GT3 RS is a masterpiece of intelligent lightweight design. For the first time, the roof is made of magnesium; carbon fibre is used for the engine and luggage compartment lids, and other lightweight components are made of alternative materials. This makes the RS model around ten kilograms lighter than the 911 GT3. In addition, the lightweight roof lowers the sports car’s centre of gravity which improves its excellent lateral dynamics.

The body comes from the 911 Turbo, and it signifies its status as nearly a race car driving machine with its RS-specific aerodynamic add-on parts. The front spoiler lip, which extends nearly to the road, and the large rear wing reinforce its dominant look.

A 30 centimetre wide recess extends centrally over the CRFP bonnet and the magnesium roof. This feature is a stylistic reference to the recess on the luggage compartment lid of the classic 911 models with air-cooled engines, and today it identifies the two largest lightweight components in the 911 GT3 RS. Another characteristic is the unique front wheel arch air vents that extend into the upper section of the wings – just as in purebred motorsport cars. They increase downforce at the front axle.

The chassis of the 911 GT3 RS has been tuned for maximum driving dynamics and precision. Rear-axle steering and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus with fully variable rear axle differential lock increase agility and dynamics, and the wider front and rear track widths enable even better roll stability than in the 911 GT3. In addition, the 911 GT3 RS comes with the widest tyres of any 911 model as standard. The results: even more agile turn-in characteristics and even higher cornering speeds.

The full bucket seats are based on the carbon bucket seats of the 918 Spyder

The interior design of the 911 GT3 RS with Alcantara elements is based on the current 911 GT3. One key new feature is the full bucket seats, which are based on the carbon bucket seats of the 918 Spyder. Other standard features are the Club Sport Package with a bolted-on roll cage behind the front seats, preparation for a battery master switch, and separately provided six-point safety harness for the driver and fire extinguisher with mounting bracket.

The optional Sport Chrono Package, which features – in addition to its integrated timers – the Porsche Track Precision app for a smartphone. The Track Precision app can be used to have lap times automatically measured via GPS, and to log data on a smartphone for many driving parameters such as vehicle speed, lateral acceleration as well as acceleration and deceleration in the driving direction. It manages this data and lets the driver share and compare it with other drivers.

The 911 GT3 RS can be ordered now, and it will launch on the German market starting in May 2015.

Audi February sales: 50th consecutive monthly record

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  • Audi U.S. sales in February rose 5.3%; Year-to-date 2015 sales increased 9.6%
  • New Audi A3 and Q3 models continue strong early returns
  • Audi Certified pre-owned vehicle sales set 19th straight monthly record

 Audi reported that its February 2015 sales increased 5.3% to 11,455 vehicles, a total that stands as the 50th consecutive month of record U.S. sales for the premium brand.

The previous February record of 10,881 vehicle sales came in 2014. Through the first two months of 2015, Audi U.S. sales rose 9.6% from a year earlier to 22,996 vehicles.

Audi Certified pre-owned vehicle sales also reached record levels during the most recent month. February 2015 marks the 19th consecutive month of record Audi CPO sales through a 13.2% gain for the month on 3,698 CPO vehicles sold.

“Severe winter storms were disruptive for the entire industry in February, but the Audi dealer network overcame the elements to deliver a record number of Audi vehicles to new Audi customers in February,” said Mark Del Rosso, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Audi of America.

Demand for the new Audi A3 family of premium cars and the new Q3 SUV remained strong for Audi in February. These two all-new Audi products, launched in 2014, continue to bring new customers into the Audi family across the country.

2015 Passat: Car of the Year Award

Volkswagen-Passat_2015_1600x1200_wallpaper_01GENEVA — The Volkswagen Passat has been named Car of theYear by European automotive editors at the Geneva International Motor Show. 58 auto journalists from 22 countries voted the Passat as the winner.

Volkswagen’s four-door sedan beat six other finalists including those from Citroen, Renault Twingo and the BMW.

Swedish expert Hakan Matson, chairing the judging panel, said: “It is truly impressive that Volkswagen managed to win the title for the third time in six years. The Passat has many strong points, including its design, overall quality, safety, spacious interior, and several useful innovations such as the Trailer Assist. With all these features the model clearly deserves to be Car of the Year 2015.”

Volkwagen last won the car of the year award in 2013 with its Golf compact car.