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Apple Watch Declared a Highway Safety Threat

Brits enact penalties of up to two years in prison.

by on Sep.17, 2014

Apple's new Watch is expected to kick-start the wearable technology market.

It is meant to be hip and convenient, but is the new Apple Watch also a threat to safety?

You may keep it on your wrist, but safety experts are questioning whether the new wearable device will be just as much of a driver distraction as handheld cellphones and tablet computers. And British authorities have indicated that someone using an Apple Watch when involved in a fatal crash could be subject to up to two years in prison.

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The UK’s Institute for Advanced Motorists is leading the charge, declaring that the Watch “could significantly impair driving performance – being a major cause for distraction and road accidents.”


Watch Out Ferrari – Here Comes the Bentley Mulsanne Speed

Flagship sedan will churn out 811 lb-ft of torque.

by on Sep.16, 2014

Bentley's new Mulsanne Speed model boasts torque numbers even Ferrari can respect.

For those who have the taste – and the budget – for high-performance imports, brands like Ferrari, Lamborghini, or perhaps Aston Martin, are likely to come immediately to mind. But there’s another exotic getting ready to give them a run for the money.

Bentley has been drawing from its history of motorsports to fuel its decade-long revival, and it clearly showed it wasn’t going to get left behind at the stoplight when it launched the latest, 616-horsepower version of its Continental GT Speed.

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From a pony count, the even newer Bentley Mulsanne Speed delivers a mere 530-hp — 25 more than a stock Mulsanne. But it’s the torque number that should put a smile on affluent performance fans, while sending a shiver down the spine at competitive brands. The maker’s flagship model, in Speed trim, will deliver an astounding 811 pound-feet of tire-spinning torque. That’s nearly 300 lb-ft more than the La Ferrari.


GM Boosts Production as Sales Surge for Midsize Colorado, Canyon Pickups

Maker will add 3rd shift, 750 jobs at Missouri plant.

by on Sep.16, 2014

Chevrolet will offer both a fuel-efficient I-4 engine and a more powerful V-6, with a diesel coming a year later.

With sales exceeding initially cautious expectations, General Motors plans to sharply boost production of its new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups.

GM will add a third shift at the plant in Wentzville, Missouri that produces the two midsize trucks. That move will create another 750 jobs at the factory, which also produces the Chevy Express and GMC Savanna full-size vans. GM had previously invested $513 million at the Wentzville plant to handle the addition of the new pickups, creating 1,315 jobs in the process.

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The maker has taken an unusually large number of early orders for the Colorado and Canyon models, it says, about 30,000 so far. There had been plenty of concern that GM might miss the mark with the two trucks considering the decline in the midsize segment over the last two decades.


Toyota Teases C-HR Crossover Concept

"Innovative vision" could signal new Scion cute-ute.

by on Sep.16, 2014

Toyota offers up a teaser silhouette of the C-HR concept crossover coming to the Paris Motor Show.

Toyota helped define the small crossover when it launched the original RAV4 two decades ago. Now it’s apparently getting ready to take things a step further with the “innovative vision for a compact crossover” it will introduce at the Paris Motor Show in less than a month.

The Japanese reveals the new model has been dubbed the C-HR, and it’s offering up this teaser silhouette image, but beyond a few gushing platitudes, it is providing few specific details.

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Among other things, we learn from its news release, the Toyota C-HR marries “a new design language with an engaging driving experience and a hybrid powertrain.”


America’s Rudest Drivers

It’s likely not who you’d expect.

by on Sep.16, 2014

You got a problem?

Fuhgeddaboutit. New Jersey drivers barely made the Top 10, and California’s not even on the list. New Yorkers made the cut, but when it comes to America’s rudest drivers, they aren’t the benchmark.

When it comes to making obscene gestures, tailgating, cutting people off and other rude behaviors, the motorists who top the list are from…Idaho.

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Where? Yep, rural Idaho, where you can go for miles and not even see another driver. But a new survey by found folks from the Potato State have earned a bad reputation when they get behind the wheel.


The Least and Most Expensive Metro Areas for Car Insurance

Motorists get slammed in the Motor City.

by on Sep.15, 2014

Densely populated regions often have the highest insurance rates due to more frequent crashes.

It may be the Motor City, but driving there comes at a steep cost – motorists in the Metropolitan Detroit area paying the highest premium for insurance in the country, according to a new study.

On average, a motorist in the Detroit area will pay 165% of the national average for auto insuance, according to research by Quadrant Information Services. Those in the sprawling New York metroplex come in just behind, but they pay a mere 36% more than the average for motorists across the country.

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On the flip side, drivers in the region around Charlotte, North Carolina are paying an average 43% less than the national average for car insurance, noted, the website that commissioned the study.


Honda Unveils “Virtual Tow System”

Japanese maker joins autonomous drive revolution.

by on Sep.15, 2014

A schematic of how Honda's Virtual Tow system would work in the real world.

While it hasn’t announced a production date, Honda is getting ready to join the autonomous driving revolution, revealing a prototype of its Acura RLX sedan capable of hands-off highway driving.

The Japanese maker has also developed a new “virtual tow” system that it says a motorist could use to assist another vehicle in distress.

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Frank Paluch, president of Honda R&D Americas Inc. said the Japanese automaker  one of many working towards of a collision-free society by utilizing innovations in active safety, connected and automated vehicle technology.


Nevada Approves Tesla’s $1.25 Bil Incentive Package

But there are losers, as well as a big winner.

by on Sep.12, 2014

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval got a unanimous vote in favor of his proposed Tesla aid package.

Despite some opposition from both sides of the political aisle, Nevada lawmakers approved, and Gov. Brian Sandoval signed into law a $1.25 billion package of incentives meant to complete the deal that will bring Tesla Motors’ $5 billion Gigafactory to a state more traditionally known for gambling.

“It doesn’t get any bigger than this,” said the governor, as he signed the bill late on Thursday, following a unanimous vote in favor of the package by the state legislature he had called into special session. “This is some of the most important legislation that’s hit this state in perhaps our history.”

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The Gigafactory is certainly set to be the biggest manufacturing project in the history of the Silver State – at least if it lives up to expectations. Tesla founder and CEO announced the project earlier this year as a way to produce the next generation of lithium-ion batteries. Working with Japanese partner Panasonic, Tesla hopes to become the world’s largest producer of lithium packs and, in the process, drive down costs substantially.


First Drive: 2015 Lexus RC F

When "F" is more than a passing grade.

by on Sep.11, 2014

The 2015 Lexus RC F takes some laps on the 3.6-mile loop at Monticello Motor Club.

Brand names are something like a word association game. Manufacturers go to great lengths to get potential buyers to immediately think good thoughts whenever they’re mentioned. Mercedes-Benz? Plush and luxurious. BMW? The ultimate driving machine. And Lexus?

Well, there’s nothing wrong with being reliable and offering a good value, but the Japanese maker would also like to associate the word, “passionate,” with the brand, something that’s not easy to pull off with products like the ES sedan line or the CT200h hybrid.

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But you might just have to think again if you get a chance to slip behind the wheel of the new Lexus RC coupe – especially if its bears the single modifier, “F.” While that may be a failing grade for some, our first experience with the new 2015 Lexus RC F found it passing with flying colors and ready to give challenge to some of its better-known European luxury performance competitors.


Witness to History: Nothing New Under the Sun

The demise of the steering wheel and other detours on the long road to autonomous vehicles.

by on Sep.11, 2014

A prototype version of the GM Unicontrol - note the center steering wheel hub is still in place.

It’s difficult to keep up with the headlines. If my count is right, we’ve already hear from Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz, Honda and Nissan, all revealing plans to introduce autonomous vehicles in the coming years. And that doesn’t even include Google, the high-tech firm that is putting a fleet of prototypes on the road this year.

We’re told that electronics can take over from drivers the drudgery and skill of safely and efficiently motoring from here to there, whether commuting across town or crossing from coast to coast. But, as is stated in the circa 300 BCE Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter One Verse Nine, “there is nothing new under the sun.”  And the rush to put self-driving vehicles on the road reminds us old-timers of that.

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In 1958, I was a reporter for the Detroit Bureau of Business Week magazine, and witnessed the first steps on the long road to autonomous driving. The concept had been around for awhile. GM even promoted the idea at its lavish pavilion at the 1938 New York World’s Fair. Two decades later, it was ready to show us automotive scribes that science fiction was ready to become science fact.