To save money on pricey fuel, Ferrari's F1 team orders new simulator for off-track testing
By Mike SpinelliPosted 06.27.2008 at 12:07 pm 5 Comments
Passenger-car gasoline in Italy costs the equivalent of around nine bucks a gallon. Formula One racing fuel goes for several euros more. And at a (full-speed) fuel consumption rate of between three and four miles per gallon, Ferrari's F1 cars can burn through heaps of Italian green during track testing. That's one reason the company, along with a few other F1-entrenched firms, are betting on the latest virtualization tech to help shave a few Euros off the high cost of testing.
Industrial designer James Dyson throws his hat into the electric car ring
By Mike SpinelliPosted 06.24.2008 at 3:15 pm 6 Comments
British industrial designer James Dyson made a fortune turning a pedestrian household appliance into a fashion item for suburban strivers. Box-store shoppers recognize his bagless vacuum cleaner by that future-sexy, ultra-maneuverable yellow orb that stands in for wheels. Now, according to the UK's Daily Mail Dyson is turning his attention from closet to garage: his firm is reportedly developing an electric car.
We take the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan for a test drive to see if it really is the GTI of sport utilities
By Mike SpinelliPosted 06.10.2008 at 12:53 pm 2 Comments
Sometimes car marketers really earn their shrimp cocktail. Saddled with an unfavorable Euros-to-dollars conversion, Volkswagen North America needed a sales hook to take the edge off the slight premium buyers would pay for its German-built 2009 Tiguan. The answer was to hail the new compact model as "The GTI of SUVs." That tagline implies the Tiguan packs the driving entertainment of the company's sports hatchback, with extra room for lawn chairs, soccer balls and a 72-pack of Mott's.
Should sports-car racing's top dogs be grounded for safety?
By Mike SpinelliPosted 06.04.2008 at 12:16 pm 2 Comments
The run-up to the annual 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race is always a nail-biting enterprise for race teams. Naturally, techs are most concerned with assuring cars' ability to sustain the day-night race, which is the ultimate test for GT cars and sportscar prototypes that will wind through the Circuit of the Sarthe -- on a combination of racetrack and public roads -- in Le Mans, Sarthe, France. This year there's an added kink keeping teams up nights. It appears the gods of aerodynamics have been sending LeMans prototype-class racecars into the ether with a cosmic finger flick.
The freshened 2009 Audi A4 brings smart tuning and luxury touches to the table to compete with genre stalwarts BMW and Lexus
By Mike Spinelli Posted 05.30.2008 at 12:49 pm 3 Comments
Audi A4 '09 On the Track
The business of cars, like that of pop music, is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately proposition. Take Audi, which has moved scores of A4s since the mid-1990s. Like any other automotive hitmaker, every so often it must turn out a fresh one that reads like a John Grisham novel, a force multiplier that reacts to trends and keeps things moving forward. This can get tricky, as Ford found out when it tried to update the popular Taurus in 1996 and wound up, as Britney Spears did with Britney (the one where she tried to write her own songs), on the losing end of a pivotal moment.
This motorized exoskeleton concept looks like the lovechild of Ironman and a Segway—but is it the future of transportation?
By Mike SpinelliPosted 05.29.2008 at 5:05 pm 17 Comments
The tripod is a fine and stable construct for photography and navigation, but how well will it work for motorcycles? We're not sure,
but one student at California's Art Center Pasadena is challenging singletrack motorcycles and typical three-wheelers with an anthropomorphic, Yamaha-branded three wheeler concept called the Deus Ex Machina.
The forward-looking personal conveyance is a mobile exoskeleton propelled by in-wheel electric motors—or, more succinctly, a trike you can wear.
With gas prices going through the roof, yesterday's jalopy could be today's blue-chip used ride
By Mike SpinelliPosted 05.16.2008 at 5:08 pm 6 Comments
A rust-dappled Hyundai for $3,000, a clapped-out Geo Metro for $5,000, and a censurable Ford Festiva for six grand? Welcome to upside-down world. The rising price of dinosaur champagne has already decimated the large-SUV business, and now the realities of gasoline economics are elevating what was once the lowliest segment of the used-car market into Croesus' territory.
When a race comes down to fractions of a second, you better believe the time it takes to change a tire matters
By Mike SpinelliPosted 05.14.2008 at 5:17 pm 2 Comments
The Crew at Work
The race may not always be to the swift, but, like Damon Runyon said, "that's the way to bet." With auto races often decided in the space between seconds, every fraction saved during pit stops is time in the bank. That means race teams' pit crews are as much a component to winning as is a set of tires, an engine or the driver. Tomorrow, the best crews in Nascar's Sprint Cup series will square off at the Sprint Pit Crew Challenge in Charlotte, NC. Twenty-four teams will compete over the whine of air wrenches for the title of fastest pit crew in the business.
The first model released since Ferrari began talking about fuel efficiency has aerodynamics working in its favor, but not much else
By Mike SpinelliPosted 05.14.2008 at 10:52 am 1 Comment
Ferrari California (2009)
Ferrari hasn't yet pulled the $50-a-yard, Swiss voile cotton sheet back on its latest model, the California. But the company did release its initial media package on the car earlier today. It revealed a sleek grand tourer sporting the first front-mounted V8 in the company's history. The California is also the first all-new model to arrive since the iconic brand started hinting at a new focus on fuel efficiency. Say what?
Reports surface that GM uses human cadavers as crash dummies—but is that anything new?
By Mike SpinelliPosted 05.13.2008 at 2:57 pm 7 Comments
Does GM use human bodies as crash test dummies? That's not the plot of a 1970s cult classic; it's the claim of one car-safety specialist in Sweden, who told newspaper Expressen that GM recently wrapped up a multiyear research study using human cadavers in car-crash simulations. The man says Saab cars were involved in the project, which reportedly involved people who had donated their own bodies—assumedly in the name of scientific research—not political dissidents. Well, that's a relief.