Toyota must be starting to love collaborative projects. Coming out of a tight relationship with Subaru where they developed the GT 86 (pictured above) and the BRZ, the Japanese company has now established a working relationship with BMW. In fact, the two companies first announced plans to join forces back in December 2011 when they announced a partnership for sharing hybrid systems and diesel engines. Then, in March 2012, they signed a binding agreement on collaborative research in the field of next-generation lithium-ion battery cells.
Today, Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota Motor Corporation and Norbert Reithofer, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG met again and talked about a new agreement that could lead to developing a new sports car. The two leaders talked about joint development of a fuel cell system, joint development of architecture and components for a future sports vehicle, collaboration on powertrain electrification, and joint research and development on lightweight technologies.
BMW will supply highly-efficient 1.6 liter and 2.0 liter diesel engines to Toyota Motor Europe starting in 2014 and, in return, Toyota will share their knowledge on environment-friendly hybrids and fuel cells. The relationship makes sense due to the fact that one of BMW’s strengths is their production of engines and Toyota was the first to push out their electric vehicle - the Toyota Prius - with much success.
Hit the jump to read the statements from the two CEO’s.
When the RX-7 hit near supercar status in the 1990s, the Rotary engine was a thing of beauty and Mazda had all but perfected it. The only remaining downfall was the fuel required to keep the rotors inside the engine spinning. This fuel consumption, plus a restructuring of Mazda’s U.S. market, led to the deletion of the RX-7 and its perfected rotary following the 1995 model year.
When the rotary engine made its way into the sexy, yet fairly flabby, RX-8 in 2004, the rotary enthusiast clamored over its 238 horsepower without any turbo. However, hiding in deep within the engine was its biggest sore spot, a puny 159 pound-feet of torque that sucked up a gallon of gas after only about a dozen miles. Through the RX-8’s life, Mazda refused to turbocharge the 1.3-liter rotary and the new Renesis rotary engine was effectively to blame for the RX-8’s disappearance following the 2011 model year.
This all brings us to today, as Mazda finally closes the chapter on the RX-8 by rolling the final rotary engine off of its production line and into a special edition Mazda Spirit R, which is only available in Japan. This closes one chapter in the life of the rotary engine, as Mazda has no plans to develop a replacement for the failed RX-8, despite rumors of an RX-9.
Even if the rotary is to make a comeback in the future, it will likely not come back as a gasoline engine. We would likely see it used in a gasoline/hydrogen hybrid system, as Bloomberg is reporting that Mazda is currently testing out how this Wankel works on hydrogen.
As much as we once loved the rotary engine, we think it is time to put this old dog down and let us remember the good old days of the 255-horsepower, 217 pound-feet of torque twin-boosted 1.3-liter rotary. The only way we could agree with bringing the rotary back is in a turbocharged sports car platform, like this engine is intended.
One of the few thorns in the side of the EV market place is the battery charging systems. The vast majority of them require upwards of six to eight hours to reach 100 percent capacity and at the quickest, most can reach 80 percent in about three to four hours. Well, Tesla has been at the forefront of EV engineering, especially with its 300-mile-range Model S, which screams to 60 mph in about 4 seconds.
The Model S, as delivered, is no different than any other EV when it comes to charging, as its 85kWh battery requires eight hours to charge, using its standard 240-volt charging system. Tesla plans to separate itself from the competition once again by releasing a 440-volt fast-charger, which Tesla has cheekily dubbed the “Supercharger” (obligatory rim shot).
Anywho, this new “Supercharger” will be able to get the Tesla S from full discharge to 100 percent in just about an hour. The catch is that this fast charger is not designed for everyday use, it is only for those emergency fill-ups on the road. Tesla is planning to have these stations installed in high-traffic areas for on-the-spot fill ups in just about a year.
Once Tesla releases this new charger for use in the States, it will firmly place itself in the driver’s seat in the EV market, leaving everyone else looking up at it wondering how this small company managed to pull off these stunts. We think the time for the other car companies to start investing more money in EV models is now, before Tesla runs away with it all.
According to the FBI, we’re coming up to a couple of the hottest months of the year, and we’re not talking about the weather. Turns out, July and August are the top two months for vehicle theft, and LoJack and the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators (IAATI) are doing their part by holding their 6th annual National Vehicle Theft Protection Month. For this year, they have come up with an infographic that provides a few details and stats about car theft, as well as some helpful hints to ensure you are not a victim.
First, the facts. In 2010, there were 737,000 vehicle thefts and only 56% of those vehicles were ever recovered. The average loss per vehicle was $6,152. Not exactly a small number by anyone’s standards. What’s worse is that, if you own a Honda Accord, Honda Civic, and Toyota Camry, you are more likely to be a victim because these were the top three vehicles stolen in 2010. The Ford Mustang made up a total of 9,116 instances of car theft in 2010, so we can only imagine how many of the top three vehicles were stolen during that time.
Where you live is also a factor. Nine out of 10 areas in numbers of stolen cars are in California and Washington State, with seven of the areas belonging to The Golden State.
Being the trusting - or rushed - souls that we are, 68% of people have left their car running when they aren’t in it or have left their car unlocked, while 64% of people have their home address programmed into their GPS system and 32% have left an electronic device or personal documents in plain view.
So what can we do to protect ourselves and our vehicles from theft? The number one protection aid is to use COMMON SENSE. Hey, they said it, we only repeated it. The second and third are to use theft protection products and a tracking and recovery system.
Check out the rest of the infographic after the jump to get more helpful information and remember to check back with us for the next installment in our Car Infographics series.
There are a few obligatory things in any attention-grabbing car commercial. They are a desirable car, sweet cool music, and the optional good looking woman, and by optional we mean mandatory… Well, Duxcoat, a water and stain repellant company, decided to show us exactly how confident they are in their Nano paint treatment using the mandatory woman and one not-so-mandatory addition. For those that don’t know what Nano paint treatment is, it is a sealant that prevents water and stains from sitting on your car’s paint or windshield.
Onto the video… So, you have a rather attractive and (ahem) “well-equipped” woman jogging down an old dirt road in a white shirt, a Nissan Frontier, and a puddle of water. Hmm, can you do the math? If not, call in any former member of a fraternity and he’ll explain it to you (white shirt + water = see-through shirt and lots of hoops and hollers). In to ruin the fun is a well-fed man with upper torso equipment not quite as intriguing as the running woman’s.
All three converge in front of the mud puddle, leaving the woman and man soaked. Every male TopSpeed reader is now thinking the same thing “Woo Hoo!!” Well, there is a “wardrobe malfunction” in this commercial, but only with one of the two folks in white shirts. The other one is wearing a shirt coated with… Duxcoat! We’re not going to tell you which one, but we’ll leave it at this; at a certain angle, man boobs look a lot like those found on a female, so be careful with the staring on this one. You might give people the wrong idea.
BMW had already announced to its European buyers that the 5- and 6-Series cars would be getting a power boost, but left out us folks in the U.S. Well, that didn’t last too long, as BMW has formally announced that U.S.-spec 5- and 6-Series models will be getting a healthy boost in the power department too.
The models that are getting the boost will all come in the 2013 model year and they include the 550i, 550i GT, 650i coupe, and 650i convertible. The overall size of the engine in these models will remain at the same 4.4-liters, but the addition of BMW’s Valvetronic variable valve timing is what gives this twin-turbo engine the extra punch it needs.
This extra punch will be a noticeable one too, as the gains are pretty significant. In 2012, the 4.4-liter V-8 pumped out a respectable 400 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque. The 2013 models will boast 445 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque, which, barring any significant weight gain, should increase overall performance in a noticeable manner.
The lower level 5- and 6-Series models - the 640i, 528i and 535i - all look like they’ll carryover with their existing power plants. We’ll keep you updated if any more updates come down the line regarding the 2013 5- and 6-Series cars.
We will also keep an eye on whether BMW decides to upgrade all of its V-8-powered models to this new and improved 4.4-liter.
For many people, the term “limited-slip differential,” or LSD, just means more grippy stuff and that’s that. However, there is actually a little science and physics behind understanding precisely what it does and how it does it. Toyota has done the less mechanically inclined auto buff the service of creating a video that gives the basic outline of what a limited-slip differential is and how it increases traction.
While the video is extremely simple and doesn’t really get into the inside of the LSD’s pumpkin to tell you precisely how it transfers power, it is still informative. Essentially, the Torsen LSD in the 2013 ScionFR-S senses when one wheel is spinning faster than the other (A.K.A. slipping) and transfers more power toward the opposite wheel. The Torsen system is unique in the fact that it can actually increase the power going to one wheel four times, if needed.
An LSD is good for two things. The most commonly understood benefit is in low traction situations, like snow, ice, and rain. When one wheel starts slipping, the LSD cuts power from the slipping wheel and transfers it to the one with the most traction, which is exactly the opposite of a posi-traction rear end. The Torson LSD also helps in handling, believe it or not, as when you take a corner at a high rate of speed, the inside wheel tends to lose traction and it also moves slower. The Torsen LSD transfers as much power as needed to the outside wheel, pushing the FR-S through the turn in a stable manner. This is all achieved through the binding and releasing of two gears placed about each side gear in the LSD.
For a clearer understanding, you can check out the above video.
Ford has just unveiled an updated customizer for 2013 and although this may seem like a non-news event, they threw in a giveaway to pique our interests. This new customizer allows potential buyers, or bored employees, to play with all the options available for the Mustang, but it also provides the chance to win "Your Fantasy Mustang." In fact, they will be giving away four different Mustangs: a Mustang V6, a Mustang GT, a Mustang Boss 302, and a Mustang Shelby GT500.
All you have to do is go online, create the Mustang of your dreams, save it, and start praying. At the end of the year, Ford will pick four winners from all the cars entered into the contest. The new customizer will allow you to apply a dizzying array of colors, graphics, body kits, and wheels to achieve the look you want. The winners will have their cars produced exactly as they designed them to look, so be careful what you wish for!
It’s very rare that information about an upcoming sports car is as jumbled up as is the information regarding the new 2014 BMW M3 said to debut sometime next year.
First off, reports first flew stating that the new M3 would feature a revolutionary, tri-turbocharged V-6 engine delivering in excess of 450HP. Then, reports claimed that the tri-turbo option had been dropped and replaced with a twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 engine, before President of BMW North America, Mr. Ludwig Willisch confirmed that an inline-six engine would be utilized. However, he failed to mention how many turbos the car would carry.
The latest news from GTspirit now suggests that a 3.2-liter V6 engine will be used in the upcoming 2014 BMW M3, which should be good for 450HP in base spec or upwards of 480HP when specced out with the inevitable performance package.
In addition to this latest news regarding the new M3’s power plant, reports have also surfaced suggesting that the car may come standard with electric power steering, following in the footsteps of the recently launched Porsche 991 911.
The new Porsche 911 has already been criticized for its electric power steering over more conventional hydraulic systems, but BMW obviously believes that electric power steering is the way of the future.
The only thing we can hope for in regards to this is that if these reports turn out to be true, then BMW better do a bloody-good job of developing this system.
If you are not completely satisfied with the new 400 HP Porsche Carrera S, the company is now offering a new power enhancement kit developed by the Porsche Exclusive department. The new kit will increase the 3.8-liter boxer engine’s output from the standard 400 HP up to 430 HP. As a result, the 0 to 60 mph sprint will be made in just 4 seconds and top speed will go up to 190 mph with the PDK tranny and 191 mph with a seven-speed manual gearbox.
In order to obtain these impressive updates, as well as keep the same fuel economy, Porsche added different camshafts and an entirely new variable resonance intake system design with six air flaps and a resonance flap. A Powerkit can be activated at the push of a button, making the two exhaust lines merge and generating a powerful engine sound.
Next to these changes, the new Porsche Exclusive 911 Carrera S also comes with a series of exterior updates. These changes will include a new front apron with powerful air intakes and a fixed rear spoiler in legendary "ducktail" form. For customers who want even more, Porsche is also offering an Aerokit Cup which includes an additional fixed rear wing over the rear spoiler and a special front spoiler lip with additional air intakes. The interior will receive lots of decorative trims, including brushed aluminum and carbon.