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Fisker Karma

The second Fisker fire fiasco has officially come to a close and the investigation turned up pretty much what we all expected: the batteries were not at fault. As we stated in our initial report, the fire was near the front of the vehicle, so failed batteries would have been a rather unlikely cause.

After a full investigation by Fisker’s engineers and an “independent fire expert” from Pacific Rim Investigative Services, it was discovered that the fire source was a faulty low-temperature cooling fan. In a fit of customer service, Fisker has decided to recall all affected Karma units.

In a press release regarding the findings, Fisker makes sure that everyone knows it’s not responsible by passing the blame torch to the fan manufacturer, calling it the “responsible supplier.” While that is technically a true statement, there is really no need to openly pass that blame. In all reality, your company installed the fan and performed the obligatory testing on it.

Surprisingly, the most directly affected person – the owner of the Fisker flambe – had the following to say: “I have been incredibly impressed with the way Fisker has handled this incident. I have personally started seven technology companies and know from direct experience that the US needs more innovative companies of this type, especially in the automobile sector. Fisker is a great company and one that I am personally planning to invest in. I look forward to getting behind the wheel of my next Fisker.”

Good for the customer for being so forgiving, but we would be hard pressed to get behind the wheel of a Fisker until there is plenty testing done without any incidents of fire.

We’re glad to see this fiasco come to an end and we truly hope that this is the last of Fisker’s issues, as we want to see this alternative fuel technology succeed and this success depends on the success or failure of both Tesla and Fisker.

Click past the jump to read Fisker’s full presser.

Fisker Karma

When two Fisker cars catch on fire within months of each other, what’s the first action you may expect from the car company? We would expect a thorough evaluation of the situation, a final determination, then maybe some internal rearranging, given the second fire is found to be caused by an issue with the company’s manufacturing process.

They must do things a little differently at Fisker, as it has chosen to replace its CEO – the second time that has happened this year, by the way – and replace him with Chevy Volt line director, Tony Posawatz. Interesting last name for a guy heading up a hybrid car company... Reuters is also reporting that the fired CEO will be around to offer “fatherly advice” to the new CEO, but he will not hold a formal role with the company.

We don’t know if Fisker’s latest CEO to enter the revolving door has anything to do with the Fisker-b-q that’s been going on recently, but the timing sure does seem a little strange to us. We are actually due to talk with Fisker at some point today, so we will make certain to ask their rep all about this situation while we’re on the phone with him.

We’re pretty sure we’ll get a canned response about the dismissal, but it’s well worth a try nonetheless. We’ll let you know what we hear from the rep, if he tells us anything at all.

Source: Reuters

When the Emerg-E popped onto the scene during the Geneva Auto Show, us automotive folk were amazed at the technology and potential behind this car. We were also amazed to see a rather familiar platform looking back at us, as the Emerg-E is built on the same platform as the Lotus Evora .

Lotus is no stranger to lending out its platforms and bodies for various performance applications (see: Hennessey Venom GT ), but it has never gotten into the actual building phase of these cars. Infiniti has yet to confirm that the Emerg-E for production, but its sister company, Renault, has already announced that the Alpine will go into production, in one form or another.

Since Renault has also made it clear that the Alpine will not be much like its concept and the Emerg-E is already based on a Lotus concept, why not save a little scratch and build both models on the same platform? There is really no reason not to and there is absolutely no way that Lotus would refuse this deal, as it sorely needs a little extra money these days.

Sure, the production level may be low and the income may be limited, but it would at least help put Lotus back into the sports car conversation. In addition to getting its foot back into the sports car door, with the Evora and Emerg-E being range-extended electric vehicles, this could carve Lotus a real nice and potentially profitable niche.

We’ll have to wait and see what comes of this, but the connection is already there, it just needs a little push in the right direction.

Source: Autocar

Back in May, a Fisker Karma was parked in an owner’s garage when it suddenly burst into flames. That specific case was basically written off by investigators as a battery failure, being described as looking like a golf cart fire. This latest Fisker BBQ is a little different than the previous one, as the flames are in an area away from the batteries.

Fisker has released two statements in regards to this issue and essentially says: “we know of the fire,” “fires happen in cars,” and “we are looking into it, so calm down” in so many words. The second one summarizes as "we doubt it was the battery, as the fire was in the front," "the fire source was from outside of the engine compartment," and "we’re looking into it (again)." Fisker also states that it will release another statement once the investigation is complete and the final cause of the fire is determined.

Fisker is really doing everything it can to keep people from thinking that this fire has anything to do with its battery packs. One of the more likely causes to the lack of EV sales these days is the public fear of electrical shorts in these high-voltage machines and the related fires.

We’ll keep you updated on this one and let you know all of the latest news. Check out the above video to see the flaming Fisker being put out.

Click past the jump to read Fisker’s two press releases.

Nissan GT-R

Recently, Auto Express had a sit-down with Andy Palmer, Nissan’s executive vice president of product planning, and he let us all in on what’s coming up for the Nissan lineup. In the interview, Palmer confirmed that the Nismo Leaf would make it to production with numbers expected to be in the 125-horsepower and 320 Nm (236 foot-pound) range. That’s nothing spectacular, but it is a significant bump from the standard specs.

Palmer also confirmed that the 370Z Nismo would make its way to the UK, which we already get here in the U.S. He also let us know that the GT-R would receive the Nismo treatment sometime in late-2013.

The biggest news comes in the form of the announced Nismo RS models. We already know that the Juke-R is heading to production , but it will almost certainly carry with it a $100,000+ price tag. Buyers can opt for a lower—powered Juke Nismo RS and still get good performance, without the huge price tag. This model will likely push 270 horsepower from its boosted 1.6-liter 4-pot.

The biggest of the big news is Palmer’s announcement that the 370Z and GT-R will both get an RS configuration in their next generations. We have no idea what to expect from these models and we likely won’t know until their respective base models arrive in 2014. The 370Z has a very high ceiling, as little has been done to make it perform on a higher level, but how exactly Nissan plans to add to the 545 horsepower that the GT-R already pumps from its 3.8-liter V-6 engine just baffles and excites us.

We will keep a close eye on the entire Nissan RS lineup and keep you updated as these models inch closer to production.

Source: Auto Express
Nissan DeltaWing

The DeltaWing , which most people know as the “Nissan ” DeltaWing, took a run at the Le Mans series and was doing well until a wreck put it out of commission. What some people may not know is the fact that the group that put together the DeltaWing were originally attempting to put it into play in the INDYCAR series. That never happened, and the rest is history.

With the Indy Lights series gaining some notoriety and its base chassis, the Dallara , getting on in age, Indy is now seeking a new manufacturer to build a base chassis to replace its aging unit. Now the entire group, less Nissan, is pitching the Delta Delta Wing to become the successor to the Dallara. To achieve this task and even be considered for Indy Lights, the group needs to fit the DeltaWing with the required paddle shifting capability, upgraded data systems, and alternative fuel considerations.

Overall, the DeltaWing looks like it would be a shoe-in, if it can get those few requirements taken care of. However, there are five or six total entrants trying to win this spot in the Indy Light series, so the Delta Wing group needs to focus on getting the car perfect, so they can get it into the circuit.

For now, this is just another pipe dream for the DeltaWing, but so was its entrance into the 24 Hours of Le Mans race. It succeeded in getting into that race, though it didn’t last for more than half of the race.

We’ll keep you updated on this race to the Indy Light series and let you know once Indy makes its final decision.

When us 30-somethings were kids, Powerwheels cars were all the rage. We could drive our own miniature car at a snail’s pace for roughly 10 minutes before the battery drained and left us stranded wherever we were. Those 10 minutes were typically the highlight of our week, despite the fact that molasses could flow down the road faster than our Powerwheels car could drive.

Well, FFTEC Motorsports, who is best known for building monster Mitsubishis , Porsches , Subarus , etc., decided that, after one of its employee’s son wore the rubber wheels off of his Lightning McQueen Powerwheels, it was time for some minor modifications.

FFTEC completely stripped the guts from the Powerwheels car, leaving pretty much just the plastic body. From there, FFTEC installed an aluminum sub-chassis in the rear end and installed new bearing-style hubs with disc brakes. On these hubs are a set of rubber all-terrain tires, so the Powerwheels car could literally put rubber to the road instead of plastic.

FFTEC didn’t stop there, as technicians decided that the car just wasn’t quite fast enough, so they installed a 500-watt, 0.66-horsepower electric motor to drive the rear wheels via a chain system. They also installed 24-volt gel batteries to help prolong the car’s running life. Also part of the build is a variable-speed throttle, in placer of the Powerwheels all-or-nothing throttle, and a Sparco battery cutoff switch.

After it was all said and done, FFTEC produced a video and slapped it on YouTube for us to see. Have a look for yourself and think about how you could have easily beaten everyone in the Driveway Le Mans Series of Powerwheels.

Nice job FFTEC!

Fiat 500 BEV

Chrysler has had only one mass-produced electrified vehicle in its history and that was the now-discontinued Durango hybrid . According to a report from Bloomberg, Chrysler is once again kicking around the thought of electrified vehicles, be it by 100 percent electricity or some sort of hybrid system.

Bob Lee, the head of Chrysler’s engine and electrified propulsion engineering department was quoted as saying “We do believe in electrification, sparingly and for the right kinds of targeted applications.” This basically means that Chrysler is taking its dive into electric propulsion very carefully until it knows that there is a market among Chrysler buyers.

That’s not a huge shock, considering that Chrysler was pulled from the financial flames twice in the last decade, or so – once by Daimler and once by Fiat . Chrysler is finally pulling in a profit and now it’s actually carrying its parent company, Fiat, on its shoulders to keep it from drowning in debt.

Speaking of Fiat, Lee also confirmed in the same report that Fiat is moving into production of the anticipated 500EV, the electric-powered Fiat 500 . The 500EV will go into production later on this year and be ready for release sometime in the 2013 model year.

The 500EV will likely be the testing grounds for Chrysler to see if it is a profitable venture or not. We are willing to bet that buyers gobble up the 500EV and that Chrysler soon follows suit with a small EV of their own. Down the road, with fuel prices going how they are, we may even see the Viper utilizing a hybrid system, much like Ferrari is planing to install on its upcoming Enzo/F70.

We’ll keep an eye on this and let you know once there is some confirmation on a Chrysler with electric propulsion.

Source: Bloomberg

The 3.0-liter BiTDI engine that Audi has developed has pretty much flipped what we think of diesel engines – that they are torque-loaded but underpowered – on its rear. MTM has taken the A6 3.0 BiTDI, which we don’t see in the U.S., and turned it into even more powerful of a ride, as well as helping look and handle a little better.

The A6 3.0 BiTDI’s body remains essentially unchanged with MTM’s package and we don’t mind one bit. The A6’s body is pretty sexy, for a station wagon, so we are happy to see that MTM didn’t go overboard with the body kit for it. The only styling change added to the A6 are a set of custom wheels. There are actually a variety of Bimoto wheels available from MTM for this package, which range from €1,729 to €5,230 ($2,140 to $6,471 at current rates).

Helping the handling and ride height is an aftermarket F-Cantronic ECU for the air suspension, which allows you to drop the car’s center of gravity up to 25 mm (0.98 inches). This increases both handling and gives the A6 a more stylish look. This ECU runs €1,740 ($2,153 at current rates).

Helping the A6 come to a halt is a brake upgrade that includes 380 x 34 mm (14.96- x 1.33-inch) rotors with 8-piston calipers squeezing them. This kit runs €4,900 ($6,063), but you can opt for another upgrade that includes 405 x 36 mm (15.94- x 1.41-inch) rotors for an additional €1,500 ($1,856), but to get this size, you must opt for at least 20-inch wheels.

The engine sees some significant increases too, as the base ECU modification, which costs €1,700 ($2,103) will net you 365 horsepower and 560 pound-feet of torque. This is a 57-horsepower and 81 pound-feet bump from stock. You can pump this up to a full 381 horsepower and 575 pound-feet of torque for an extra €100 ($123).

In all, this package will run between €10,069 ($12,464) and €15,170 ($18,771), depending on the options you choose. That’s quite a hefty fee, but this will make your A6 a true screamer.

Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4

The TopSpeed time machine has taken us ahead before to see what Porsche has in store , now that VW controls it. It has also taken us to an alternate reality, where we got to see just how the i8 could completely fall on its face. Well, now with McLaren confirming what we all suspected (that the V-12 is about to becomes extinct), we are going to fire the old time cruiser back up and see what the supercar world might have in store for us in 2020.

McLaren has already come out and said that the V-12
"belongs in a museum" and plans to downsize its engine lineup, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. You see, in 2014, the FIA is dropping its engine sizes to petite 1.5-liter V-6 plants with turbochargers and energy recovery systems. Six years after that changeover, fuel will likely be so expensive that the FIA may drop to a 4-cylinder regulation, which opens the door for supercars to borrow said technology.

This would mean no more V-12, V-10, V-8, or V-6 engines and just super-powerful 4-cylinders will remain. Pumping 500 to 600 ponies from a 4-pot is not an impossible task, but it requires very precise research and development. The smaller engines will also result in lower weight, more manageable weight ratios, and better handling. Lower weight, in turn, results in better fuel economy and quicker acceleration.

There will be some tradeoffs, as expected. No longer will we have these 200+ mph supercars. You will also have a much less comfortable drive than expected, as these 4-bangers will be much more high-strung and touchy, much like a race car.

The big picture is what matters in all of this. No longer will there be a hunkin’ V-12 engine chugging down a gallon of fuel every 8 to 11 miles. In 2020, we should see smaller 4-pots getting 16 to 18 mpg and still keeping up with their larger ancestors up to 100 mph, which is really all that matters. Ask yourself, “When was the last time I drove 200 mph in my Aventador ?”

But what about electric? Click past the jump to read about electric-powered supercars in 2020.


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