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Detroit Electric Announces New Battery-Powered Sports Car 20
Mar
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Detroit Electric, Electric, Kurt, News, Sports Cars on 03 20th, 2013
Detroit Electric's upcoming two-seat electric sports car - image: Detroit Electric
Detroit Electric's upcoming two-seat electric sports car - image: Detroit Electric

Detroit Electric’s upcoming two-seat electric sports car – image: Detroit Electric

Calling itself the “fourth automaker born out of Detroit,” startup electric car manufacturer Detroit Electric has just announced that it will be showing a two-seat electric sports car at the Shanghai Auto Show in April, and that it will begin customer deliveries in limited markets by the end of August.

Those are ambitious plans for a conventional automaker, let alone one dedicated to battery-electric power. Detroit Electric, however, isn’t exactly a new company; the original (which more or less folded in 1939) was one of the most successful electric car manufacturers of the early 20th century, and the brand has been working on a modern vehicle since being reborn in 2008.

The man behind Detroit Electric is Albert Lam, who was formerly head of the Lotus Engineering Group and Executive Director of Lotus Cars of England (which explains why the teaser image looks so much like a Lotus). Lam also spent time leading divisions of Apple and Sun Microsystems, so he’s well-versed in both the automotive and technology sides of the business.

Detroit Electric’s plans don’t end with a single two-seater, either. By the end of 2014, it plans to launch two other “high-performance” electric vehicles. We’re a bit skeptical that no details are being provided on a car set for unveiling in just one month, and reportedly bound for production in just 150 days, but we’re willing to cut Detroit Electric some slack. After all, who doesn’t like an underdog?

The firm’s CEO, Don Graunstadt, is equally bullish on the startup automaker’s future, saying, “We are proud to become the fourth car manufacturer born out of Detroit, and the first to manufacture a pure electric sports car from Michigan. We are committed to doing our part for this great revival of Detroit through innovation, entrepreneurship and determination – what we like to call ‘Detroit 2.0′. Our investors and management team are thankful to the State of Michigan for the help provided in allowing Detroit Electric to carry on the legacy that began in Michigan so many years ago.”

Can Detroit Electric meet its highly-ambitious goals for new product launches? Can the firm succeed where others have struggled or failed? Will electric sports cars become a viable business in the near future? We’re asking these questions ourselves, and we’d love to hear your take on things.



Toyota & BMW Collaborate – Potential Sports Car 29
Jun
Posted by Darryl in Automotive, BMW, BMW Toyota, electric car, hybrid, News, Sports Cars, TOYOTA on 06 29th, 2012

Partnerships with Toyota are nothing new even when you consider the joint venture in development of the new Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ. As it seems, working with Toyota is usually a good thing, which is part of the reason BMW seeks a partner in Toyota to potentially develop a new sports car.

Sources from BMW and Toyota have reported today that they have signed a memorandum that they will expand their  development and research partnership, not only for new battery technology and Diesel engines, but to delve into other things including a sports car.

Already, Toyota and Subaru have made a positively received move with Subaru and they are probably thinking why not keep the forward momentum moving. Working together on a 4-part puzzle, composed of lightweight technologies, fuel cell systems, powertrain electrification and a sports car, it could mean a match made in heaven that satisfies many different future vehicle segments.

“I get so excited thinking about the cars that will result from this relationship. I think I can say I am the one who is most looking forward to a sports car that is environment friendly and truly excites car fans around the world,” said Toyota.

The collimation of BMW and Toyota could really do a lot for future innovation in the automotive world. Just think, Toyota has been the perfect (boring) driving appliance for many years, as BMW has been a very exciting and sports- conscious brand in their accomplishments of building the ultimate driving machines.



Is Kia Working On A Mazda MX-5 Rival? 25
Mar
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Kia, Mazda, News, Roadsters, Sports Cars on 03 25th, 2011

The Kia Elan, built under license from Lotus from 1996 to 1999.

When it comes to manufacturing products, it’s best to not under-estimate the Koreans. As a Hyundai insider once told me, they’re the only people of the planet who can make the Japanese look like slackers. Just look at Hyundai and Kia if you need proof; two decades ago they were the butt of jokes, but today they’re on fire. The Hyundai Elantra is kicking ass and taking names in the compact car segment, and their Sonata is doing the same in the midsize class. Kia’s Optima and Optima Turbo are poised to give Hyundai a run for their money, and it looks like Hyundai is positioning Kia as a younger, more sporting brand. When Kia says they’re looking at building a rival to Mazda’s MX-5, I believe they’ll succeed where others have failed.

It’s not a done deal yet, but Kia is seriously considering a two-seat roadster to go up against the Mazda MX-5. That means they’ve already dissected the current MX-5 and found a way to build it lighter, cheaper, more powerful and with equivalent or better handling. Given that the MX-5 starts at around $23,000, a base Kia roadster would have to squeak in closer to the $20k price point. On the top end of the line, I can see a 274 horsepower, 2.0 liter turbo-equipped Kia coming in below $30k, which could have a huge impact on sales of Mazda’s MX-5.

Other manufacturers have tried to dethrone the MX-5 as king of affordable sports cars, but all have failed. Remember the Mercury Capri, which tried to get by on being cute? How about the Toyota MR2 Spyder, which barely had enough room to haul a briefcase, let alone a weekend’s worth of luggage? The Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky came closest to beating the MX-5 at its own game (and actually rivaled it for handling), but GM pulled the plug just as the cars were getting the bugs worked out. Kia’s got the ability to build a successful rival if they choose to do so, and I’d pay close attention to their progress if I were Mazda.

Source: AutoExpress



Video: Nissan Takes You Through the 2012 GT-R 16
Mar
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, nissan, nissan gt-r, Nurburgring, Sports Cars, video on 03 16th, 2011

When the new Nissan GT-R was unveiled in 2007, chief engineer Kazutoshi Mizuno promised that the car would never rest on past achievements, and that the GT-R would constantly be improved. His team set the benchmark by lapping the Nürburgring in 7:38.54, besting the previous record for fastest production car held by Porsche. Mizuno was a man of his word, and each production change to the GT-R resulted in subtle improvements to Nürburgring lap times. By 2009, the GT-R was lapping the ‘Ring in 7:26.70, an improvement of nearly twelve seconds in just two years.

Fast forward to September of 2010, when Nissan once again returned to the Nürburgring to test the 2012 GT-R. The new car boasted a 45 horsepower improvement over previous models, yet returned greater fuel efficiency. Already one of the most aerodynamic production cars, Nissan managed to drop the Cd from .27 to .26, increasing downforce by 10% in the process. The chassis was stiffened, and shock tuning was improved to aid both ride comfort and handling. Larger front rotors were added, and brake ventilation was improved to aid fade resistance. Even the wheels were lightened to reduce unsprung weight and improve handling. On an early test session, the car turned a lap time of 7:24.22, nearly 2.5 seconds quicker than the 2009 model. Further tuning should have produced an even more impressive lap time, but by how much? Check out the video below to see what happened.



2011 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS: Goldilocks, Your Ride Is Here 14
Mar
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Favorite Cars, News, porsche, Porsche 911 Carrera GTS, Sports Cars on 03 14th, 2011

Image: Porsche

It’s been a long time since anyone read fairy tales to me, but here’s what I remember about Goldilocks: she did a B&E on the bear’s place and found most of their stuff not to her liking. Their porridge (whatever the hell that is) was either too hot or too cold and their mattresses too firm or too soft. She finally found porridge that was just right and a comfortable bed, just before the bears came home and ate her. Or something like that, but the point of my story is this: when it comes to the Porsche 911, previous models have either been too cold / soft for my tastes (911, 911 SC, Carrera, Carrera 4) or too hot / firm for my tastes (930, 911 GT3). Porsche’s new-for-2011 Carrera GTS, on the other hand, is just right.

Image: Porsche

I had a chance to drive it, albeit too briefly, at this weekend’s Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, and it’s the very first Porsche 911 that I really liked. Scratch that: it’s the first 911 that I absolutely loved, and I find myself wondering just how much kidneys go for on the black market. I’ve got two, and I really only need one, but I doubt that selling my own kidney to the highest bidder would cover the 911 Carrera GTS’ $113,000 price of admission. Still, it’s hard to believe that 30 minutes behind the wheel was all it took to make me a believer.

Image: Porsche

First, there’s the engine, which puts out 408 horsepower and makes one of the best exhaust notes to ever come out of Zuffenhausen. In terms of power, that’s 23 more than the 911 Carrera and 27 less than the 911 GT3. It pulls harder than you expect, nearly all the way to redline, and shifts from the six speed manual gearbox are superb. Clutch effort is light, and the car is as easy to drive in stop and go traffic as a Mazda MX-5. Punch up sport mode and find a break in traffic, and the Carrera GTS accelerates with enthusiasm. Zero to sixty comes up in about four seconds, and Porsche says that the tops speed is 190 miles per hour. I didn’t get a chance to verify that, but I see no reason to doubt them. Even the balance is the best I’ve experienced in a 911, with no trace of power on or lift-throttle oversteer.

Image: Porsche

The Carrera GTS even looks like a bit of a sleeper. From the outside, it’s easy to mistake it for a plain vanilla Carrera, and the subtle increase in stance is hard to see unless you’re parked next to a new Carrera. The Carrera GTS shares a body with the Carrera 4, which is nearly 1.75” wider than a standard Carrera. Like the Carrera, power goes to the rear wheels only, just as Ferdinand Porsche designed the platform some 45 years ago.

Image: Porsche

The 911 Carrera GTS may be the ideal blend of track day terror and daily driver, and for me it’s the first 911 that feels “just right”. Maybe if I can track down Goldilocks’ agent and get a book deal like she did, I can even afford to put one in the garage.



2011 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS: Goldilocks, Your Ride Is Here 14
Mar
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Favorite Cars, News, porsche, Porsche 911 Carrera GTS, Sports Cars on 03 14th, 2011

Image: Porsche

It’s been a long time since anyone read fairy tales to me, but here’s what I remember about Goldilocks: she did a B&E on the bear’s place and found most of their stuff not to her liking. Their porridge (whatever the hell that is) was either too hot or too cold and their mattresses too firm or too soft. She finally found porridge that was just right and a comfortable bed, just before the bears came home and ate her. Or something like that, but the point of my story is this: when it comes to the Porsche 911, previous models have either been too cold / soft for my tastes (911, 911 SC, Carrera, Carrera 4) or too hot / firm for my tastes (930, 911 GT3). Porsche’s new-for-2011 Carrera GTS, on the other hand, is just right.

Image: Porsche

I had a chance to drive it, albeit too briefly, at this weekend’s Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, and it’s the very first Porsche 911 that I really liked. Scratch that: it’s the first 911 that I absolutely loved, and I find myself wondering just how much kidneys go for on the black market. I’ve got two, and I really only need one, but I doubt that selling my own kidney to the highest bidder would cover the 911 Carrera GTS’ $113,000 price of admission. Still, it’s hard to believe that 30 minutes behind the wheel was all it took to make me a believer.

Image: Porsche

First, there’s the engine, which puts out 408 horsepower and makes one of the best exhaust notes to ever come out of Zuffenhausen. In terms of power, that’s 23 more than the 911 Carrera and 27 less than the 911 GT3. It pulls harder than you expect, nearly all the way to redline, and shifts from the six speed manual gearbox are superb. Clutch effort is light, and the car is as easy to drive in stop and go traffic as a Mazda MX-5. Punch up sport mode and find a break in traffic, and the Carrera GTS accelerates with enthusiasm. Zero to sixty comes up in about four seconds, and Porsche says that the tops speed is 190 miles per hour. I didn’t get a chance to verify that, but I see no reason to doubt them. Even the balance is the best I’ve experienced in a 911, with no trace of power on or lift-throttle oversteer.

Image: Porsche

The Carrera GTS even looks like a bit of a sleeper. From the outside, it’s easy to mistake it for a plain vanilla Carrera, and the subtle increase in stance is hard to see unless you’re parked next to a new Carrera. The Carrera GTS shares a body with the Carrera 4, which is nearly 1.75” wider than a standard Carrera. Like the Carrera, power goes to the rear wheels only, just as Ferdinand Porsche designed the platform some 45 years ago.

Image: Porsche

The 911 Carrera GTS may be the ideal blend of track day terror and daily driver, and for me it’s the first 911 that feels “just right”. Maybe if I can track down Goldilocks’ agent and get a book deal like she did, I can even afford to put one in the garage.







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