In 2007, the National Geographic Channel (NGC) showed us how the Z4 sports car was built, and now the Ultimate Factories team is back at BMW ’s South Carolina Plant once again to show us how the X3 is made. The teams spent almost two weeks at the BMW factory in early June producing and filming the new program. The show will be aired on Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on National Geographic Channel.
"Once again, BMW was very pleased to welcome the National Geographic Channel into our plant. We are proud to show people all over the world the quality and craftsmanship of BMW X3, X5 and X6, built exclusively for over 130 markets around the globe," said Josef Kerscher, President, BMW Manufacturing.
The BMW X3 has been built at the South Carolina plant since September 2010 and went on sale in the U.S. in early 2011.
Hit the jump to watch the BMW Z4 feature at the Ultimate Factories.
We all get psyched when we are planning to buy a new car, but walking onto a car dealership doesn’t exactly send tingles up and down many people’s arms. After all, who wants to get harassed by salesmen who circle around you like predators stalk their prey and then try to make you pay full price when most people know the price on the window is just a starting point?
Turns out, most people don’t care for that scenario, but still, 42% of buyers aren’t yet willing to purchase a car online. And even though a whopping 59% of buyers hate to have to master the art of haggling, 27% of buyers love to massage the system to get that price down. It’s exhausting just thinking about it, so it’s not surprising that 67% of potential customers want to test drive their dream vehicle alone.
Buying a vehicle is a tough job, but commuting wouldn’t be the same without our four-wheeled friends so check out the infographic for 10 steps to buying a car. After all, we need all the help we can get.
A recent study by the Automobile Association of America determined that one out of four people can’t pay for their vehicle’s major repairs, and worse yet, are even trying to cut down on costs by avoiding their regular maintenance altogether. For a four-wheeled machine that gets more than its fair share of use, avoiding your vehicle’s regular checkups can be a dangerous thing. So, what can you do to cut down on those pesky maintenance bills? Some people are starting to do minor repairs on their own.
Two major components bring in the most revenue for repair shops: Mark-up parts and hourly labor. A car repair shop gets discounted "wholesale" prices on their parts, but they turn around and sell them to their customer’s at retail price. Retail prices can vary, but in most cases, the repair shop isn’t hunting down for the cheapest retail prices to pass to their customers. Then there’s the hourly labor. The national average hourly rate for mechanics is $79. The hourly rate is even more disastrous with the repair shops flat rate billing. For example, if a customer is quoted four hours for a repair, that is what the customer will be charged, even if the repair takes three or five hours. We’re guessing that, most of the time, it takes less time than the customer was quoted.
This is where the money-saving kicks in. By eliminating the middle man for minor repairs, owners can start saving money and avoid expensive major repairs caused by lack of car maintenance. So, break out your tool belt and get to work; your wallet will thank you.
Find more helpful tidbits, as well as the monetary breakdown of some of the typical minor repairs, by checking out the rest of the infographic, and as always, remember to check back with us for the next installment in our Car Infographics series.
We can’t do a series of road trip ideas without including a road - or series of roads - that has been named America’s Most Beautiful Drive and America’s Best Free Attraction. The Pacific Coast Highway is officially less than 130 miles long from Dana Point and Oxnard in Southern California, but many consider the "real" Pacific Coast Highway to be a series of roads running up the entire west coast of the United States. All in all, the entire length runs no less than 1800 miles, taking about two weeks if you include time to enjoy the sights of the trip.
If you don’t have the time or energy to take in the full length of the trip, there are various parts of the Pacific Coast Highway that can be utilized as shorter trips. Of course, you may want to avoid July and August because the traffic can be a killer.
Hit the jump to check out the many highlights of the Pacific Coast Highway, including the shorter routes and entertainment.
Here’s a big shocker: CEOs make more money than their employees.
Okay, so this isn’t the most revealing tidbit of information we’ve had on our pages, but breaking down the actual number is a little more intriguing. Just last year, Ford CEO, Alan Mullay’s base salary consisted of $1.4 million, while other factors such as cash bonuses and "other expenses" bumped up that salary to $26.5 million. Chew on that for one second. Ford has to sell over 1200 units of their top seller - 2010’s best seller was the F-Series pickup starting off at $22,060 - to pay for its CEO. Not a bad gig if you can get it.
Then there’s your average autoworkers. Many factors affect what these men and women get paid yearly, including experience, geography, benefit, and just which automaker they work for. Continuing with the Ford example, the American company pays their workers between $24.24 and $29.15 per hour. According to this infographic, the average annual salary earned by autoworkers in America as of February 2010 was $48,000. The infographic then displays that the average autoworker with 1-2 years experience would have to work for 51 years to make as much money as the average CEO makes in one year.
Check out the rest of the infographic to get more mind-boggling information and remember to check back with us for the next installment in our Car Infographics series.
For most of us, the Ferrari World Abu Dhabi will remain that out of reach vacation spot. Thank goodness, Ferrari was kind enough to offer up a video of the attractions at the only Ferrari branded theme park in the world. It was either one of the nicest things they could have done, or the meanest.
Those of you who will actually get to go to the park will enjoy high adrenaline rides, fun learning attractions suitable for guests of all ages, and a unique taste of Italy through its authentic dining experiences. The park offers 20 Ferrari inspired rides and attractions, and a priceless collection of more than 30 vintage and contemporary Ferraris.
Ferrari also promises that they have incorporated Ferrari design and technology, offering an engaging and interactive multi sensory experience that truly brings the Ferrari story to life.
We know this is Ferrari’s way to make us jealous, but we still enjoy the video.
Mercedes-Benz USA’s AMG Driving Academy Performance Series is getting more and more interesting with each passing episode. Now on its seventh installment, these three-minute instructional videos have given us plenty of tips from a wide variety of racing techniques, including ESP, line technique, and slaloms.
For this particular episode, Tommy Kendall returns and brings AMG driving instructor, Nick Kunewalder, with him to walk us through the art of drifting . Describing drifting as "the ballet of power-sliding", Kendall and Kunewalder teach us the techniques in executing a perfect drift, from the initiation to the transitions to inducing a slide - a critical element of drifting - and carrying that slide all the way through a corner.
Kendall also points out that with drifting, all convention on racing flies out the window because in trying to induce a slide and create the theatrical smoke from your tires, you’re basically going against everything you’ve learned as a race car driver in trying to keep control of your car at all times. But that’s the allure of drifting and its popularity has soared to such great heights that it’s become a unique sport by itself.
By now, we’ve already been immersed in the traction control technology that is now prevalent within the auto industry. In this episode of Mercedes USA ’s AMG Driving Academy Performance Series, professional driver and AMG Driving Academy instructor, Nick Kunewalder, introduces us to ESP - Electronic Stability Program - technology and the three corresponding advanced traction control settings: On, Sport, and Off.
Each setting has a different effect on the handling of the car and Kunewalder. When the ESP is turned ’on’, the computer doesn’t allow the car to break a whole lot of traction; at a certain point in this set-up, the computer will instantaneously take over by refusing to let the car slide no matter what the driver does.
The ’Sport’ mode allows the driver to push the car a little harder with a much later computer assistance compared to when the ’ESP’ is turned on. There might be a little rotation, but once the computer recognizes it, it begins to add that stability program.
Lastly, when the ESP is completely disabled, the car is completely at the mercy of the driver with no electronic traction assistance whatsoever.
All three have their pros and cons unique to themselves. It’s just a matter of figuring out what set-up applies best to what situation.
Four-time Grand Am champion and Speed Channel host, Tommy Kendall, returns for the fifth episode of Mercedes USA ’s AMG Driving Academy Performance Series. After detailing a number of important techniques in the past four episodes - AMG Driving Academy instructor, Don Harple, helped out in episode 4 - Kendall now turns his attention to teaching us the importance of the racing line and how to maximize your lap by using it as often as you can.
Being adept in using the ’line technique’ goes a long way in becoming a great driver. As Kendall says, "there’s an infinite number of lines in a race track, but there’s only one that’s fastest".
Taking this to heart, finding the track’s racing line not only minimizes the number of times you turn the wheel - the more you turn, the slower you become - but also allows you to hit corners quickly and exit without losing any speed. The key, according to Kendall, is to use every inch of the track at your disposal. You start out wide as you enter the corner and turn inside all the way to the apex, or the clipping point before drifting to the exit point.
The most important thing in line technique is to think a couple of moves ahead and see where all three sections of a corner are before you hit them. That way, you can carefully gauge your move before you actually do it, saving you precious time and speed in the process.
The last episode of the AMG Driving Academy Performance Series, Four-time Grand Am champion and Speed Channel host, Tommy Kendall, gave a few tips on controlling the car in different situations. Now professional driver and AMG Driving Academy instructor, Don Harple, takes the reigns to show us the importance of keeping the balance on your car to avoid oversteering and understeering. Apparently, these are two critical mistakes that could affect a driver’s lap time.
In this episode, Kendall gives some ideas on how corners should be attacked at varying levels of speed in order to maintain control of the car. Kendall teaches three things to remember when attacking corners: Correct, Pause, and Recover.
With Correct, the important thing is to stir into the skid, which is something that’s already second nature with a lot of drivers. The second part, Pause, is a little trickier because it involves split-second calculations in waiting for the skid to stop before turning into the other direction. At that point, the third thing to remember is Recover, is recognizing the change in direction and correcting it as soon as possible in order to corral your car and avoid understeer or oversteer.