Mercedes-Benz Concept A-Class Revealed at 2011 Shanghai and New York Auto Shows

The latest Concept A-Class from Mercedes-Benz is the clearest indication yet as to what the automaker’s next-generation A-Class will look like, and the good news is that the production version of this one is likely to hit U.S. shores.

Revealed today at the 2011 Shanghai Auto Show, and again soon at the 2011 New York Auto Show in just a few days, the Concept A-Class precedes the production version expected to go on sale in Europe towards the end of next year. Importantly, the concept’s unveiling in New York hints strongly at a possible local launch.

As can clearly be seen, designers have ditched the current model’s tallish van-like shape and gone with a more traditional, albeit highly stylized, hatchback design.

Special features of the Concept A-Class include a radar-based collision warning system with visual and acoustic notification for the driver, adaptive brakes, LED headlights, fiber-optic daytime running lights and an integrated smartphone that can be controlled by the car’s COMAND rotary knob located on the dash.

Under the hood sits a ‘BlueEfficiency’ turbocharged four-cylinder engine displacing just 2.0-liters but developing a healthy 210 horsepower thanks to the forced induction technology as well as direct injection. The BlueEfficiency tag indicates that this powerplant is one of the greenest in Mercedes’ engine lineup. However, also helping to save fuel and sending drive to the front wheels is a lightweight and compact dual clutch transmission.

Another big departure for the new A-Class model is the introduction of several variants in addition to the previewed hatchback. Instead of having separate A- and B-Class models, Mercedes-Benz is thought to be releasing a family of entry-level models including a familiar minivan model, coupe-like sedan, compact SUV and possibly even a sporty roadster. Hybrid and all-electric versions are also expected to get the tick of approval.

The cars will be built on a new front-wheel drive platform codenamed MFA (Mercedes Frontwheel Architecture), which drops the former sandwich construction for a more conventional car-like design. The main reason Mercedes-Benz is increasing the number of fuel-efficient compact models it sells is not only to help its bottom line but also to reduce its fleet-average emissions. 

Look forward to live shots of the 2011 Mercedes-Benz Concept A-Class direct from the 2011 New York Auto Show floor in just a couple of days. 

This story originally appeared at Motor Authori

  Comments | By - April 29, 2011

Tesla Vs BBC: Top Gear Planned Dead Electric Car Shot Before Test

Believe it or not, most of what you watch on television is scripted. 

What you may not know is that some shows which appear unscripted, like the BBC’s infamous Top Gear, are also scripted word for word. Everything from the banter between its three middle-aged hosts to its madcap challenges and car reviews has been meticulously planned, before any filming takes place. 

Two years ago, Tesla Motors found out what that really meant when its duo of 2008 Tesla Roadsters were doomed to a biased and unrealistic depiction on screen before the film crew even unpacked their equipment or TopGear presenter Jeremy Clarkson had stepped on set. 

In documents released as part of Tesla Motor’s libel claim filed against the publicly owned British Broadcasting Corporation earlier this week, the Californian automaker detailed the negative script delivered by Clarkson while reviewing its Roadster, confirming that the infamous scene showing four members of the TopGear crew pushing a supposedly drained Roadster into a hangar was completely staged. 

The court documents, filed in the U.K. detail how Tesla’s former U.K. Director of Sales and Marketing expressed concern to the producers of the show after seeing a script on the day of the shoot before filming had even begun. 

Tesla versus Top Gear

Describing everything from the car being filmed ‘running out of charge’ to the host’s conclusions of “It’s just a shame that in the real world, it absolutely doesn’t work.”, the Tesla employee reportedly confronted the show’s researcher who agreed that filming the $109,000 sportscar being pushed into a hangar having run out of charge was not acceptable, noting “We don’t want to be sued”.

Without Tesla’s knowledge the shoot went on regardless with the script being stuck to rigorously. It wasn’t apparent until after the initial airing of the show in December 2008 just how many false accusations had been made by the motoring entertainment show. 

In addition, the show is alleged to have made false claims about both cars loaned to them for the shoot, including the implication that both cars were rendered unusable after spirited driving.  These claims are refuted in the court documents, detailing testimony from a Tesla engineer present on set on the day of filming. 

Since the initial screening of the episode on U.K. television, the episode in question has been screened worldwide, placed on Internet video sharing sites such as YouTube and even sold in TopGear DVD Box Sets.

It is this continued disregard for Tesla and its cars which has caused the automaker to sue, 2 years after the initial show aired. 

Ben Collins (The Stig) With Tesla

If successful, Tesla will win a court injunction preventing the BBC from airing the show in future on its own or syndicated networks as well as preventing the broadcaster from ever repeating such allegations. 

Tesla should note however, that scripted or not the multinational, multimillion-dollar Top Gear franchise has a reputation for homophobic, nationalistic, xenophobic stereotyping, many of which it has dodged in the past by claiming it nothing more than an entertainment show. 

Will such a claim work this time? We hope for Tesla’s sake that it won’t. After all, since Top Gear’s former Stig Ben Collins came out of the electric car closet as a fan of the electric sportscar we think Tesla may just stand a chance of winning. 


This story originally appeared at All Cars Electr

  Comments | By - April 25, 2011

Porsche 918 Spyder Plug-In Hybrid Supercar Goes On Sale, Priced From $845,000

It’s official. The Porsche 918 Spyder, a plug-in hybrid supercar that so far has only been shown in concept form, is available for order and has been priced at $845,000 (not including destination and taxes). Porsche is only planning to build 918 examples of its stunning supercar so interested buyers better be quick.

What they will receive when deliveries finally commence in November of 2013 is a plug-in hybrid supercar with a total 718 horsepower on tap and a stellar fuel economy of more than 78 mpg based on the European combined driving cycle. The earlier a customer orders their vehicle, the earlier it will be delivered, as production is initialized in the same sequence in which orders are received.

Production development is proceeding apace in the wake of the outstanding customer response to the concept car unveiled at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show, a response that quickly spurred the production green light. The first examples will start being built in September of 2013 at Porsche’s main plant in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, Germany.

As previously reported, the 918 Spyder’s design is derived from the Carrera GT as well as the Porsche 917 and RS Spyder race cars. Unlike the original concept car, however, the production version of the two-seater, based on a carbon fiber monocoque, features a manual roof system with removable roof panels that can be stowed in the front luggage compartment.

The 918 Spyder is driven by a unique type of plug-in hybrid system. It comprises a high-revving V-8 engine with a displacement exceeding 4.0-liters and output of more than 500 horsepower. The mid-engine power unit is based on the racing engine of the successful Porsche RS Spyder and is matched to a seven-speed Porsche-Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK) dual clutch transmission.

This mighty powerplant is complemented by two electric motors–one each on the front and rear axle–with a joint mechanical output of at least 218 horsepower. This configuration offers a variable all-wheel drive system with independent control of the propulsion force on both axles.

Powering the electric motors is a liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery that can be charged from a conventional domestic power socket, delivering an electric-only driving range of around 16 miles on a single charge. Topping up the batteries will take between 3-6 hours depending on the outlet used, but a quick charging option is planned to reduce charging time yet further.

So what it’ll do? The Porsche 918 Spyder should be able to sprint from 0-62 mph in just 3.2 seconds and go on to reach a top speed of 199 mph. Porsche predicts that it will be able to lap the Nurburgring Nordschleife in less than seven minutes and 30 seconds, beating the previous Carrera GT but still off the pace of the Nissan GT-R and Corvette ZR1. Note that the top speed in electric-only mode is limited to 94 mph in order to preserve battery life.

But alas, the car’s release is still some years away and the attention span of some millionaires may not last that long. Porsche has that covered. In order to keep its customers’ interests piqued, the automaker is launching a special edition of its 911 Turbo S.

Dubbed the 911 Turbo S “Edition 918 Spyder”, the special edition car is also limited to just 918 units and will only be offered to customers of the plug-in hybrid supercar. It features specials badging, illuminated door sills and the same acid green trim as seen on the original 918 Spyder concept car. First deliveries of this model are set to roll in June of this year and both Coupe and Cabriolet versions will be offered.

And no, this isn’t a free gift for those already lucky enough to be able afford the 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid supercar. It will cost $161,650 for the Coupe and $173,050 for the Cabriolet.

This story originally appeared at Motor Authori

  Comments | By - April 18, 2011

Bridgestone Expands Their Ecopia Fuel-Friendly Tire Lineup

  By Patrick Rall Bridgestone debuted their Ecopia tire line, featuring a low rolling resistance design that helps to improve fuel economy without negatively impacting driving dynamics or braking.  If you are not familiar with low rolling resistance tires, think about how the tires on your car or truck “flatten” a bit where they meet […] More »

  Comments | By - April 13, 2011