Cars Concept to Production

While concept cars are rarely production ready, they frequently capture our imagination and make us wonder what it would be like if they actually made it out of the concept phase and down the production line. Here are ten concepts that we wish had become reality.

The S5S Raptor was Saleen’s 2008 vision for a supercar that slotted in below the maniacal S7. The best part about it was that it was damn good looking. Had it been built, it would have been powered by a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 that made 650 hp. However, because of Saleen’s obvious financial woes, the car never wound up being built and we never got another great, American supercar.

The name, of course, comes from the Nardo test track, where Volkswagen set records with the prototype car. However, instead of building this car, VW went ahead and built the Bugatti Veyron instead. You can definitely see tones of the W12 Nardo in the Veyron, but there is something even cooler about the idea of a supercar from the company that brought you the people’s car.

In 2009, Bugatti released the Galibier concept: A sedan wearing the Bugatti badge that could potentially be the Veyron’s successor. It certainly looked related to the Veyron, too. It even kept the Veyron’s W16 engine, but, ultimately, Bugatti went with the Chiron as the Veyron’s successor instead of this crazy super sedan.

Start Standard on All EcoBoost

Before you go complaining to NHTSA that your new F-150 keeps stalling at intersections, check the dash for the little green “A” icon. Starting with the 2017 model year, all six-cylinder EcoBoost F-150 models will come equipped with auto stop-start.

Formerly, only the 2.7-liter turbocharged V-6 came with stop-start, which requires a more robust (and expensive) absorbent-glass-mat battery that can better handle the constant cycling and the heavier draw from vehicle accessories with the engine off. When the 2017 models arrive later this year, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 also will get stop-start. That includes the beastly 10-speed Raptor. The normally aspirated 3.5-liter V-6 will not offer the system. Ford said it was still certifying EPA fuel-economy estimates for 2017 but was confident the technology would improve city mileage on the test cycle.

While Ram has offered stop-start on 1500 V-6 pickups since the 2013 model year, the technology is still uncommon in the truck segment. Chevrolet and GMC have yet to include it on any of their light-duty V-6 pickups, and you won’t find stop-start on Nissan or Toyota trucks, either. No V-8 pickups offer the system.

We usually dislike stop-start in non-hybrid vehicles—we found the F-150 2.7-liter EcoBoost’s to be overly aggressive in operation—and despite their obvious NVH issues, these systems also tend to shut off engines in precarious traffic situations where immediate power is needed (such as waiting to turn left at a four-way intersection). Ford, at least, automatically disables the F-150’s system when the driver selects four-wheel drive or is towing a load. We’ll have to wait and see if the 2017 truck behaves any better.

Cars With No Steering Wheel

We’ve known for a while that Ford plans to change how it sells cars. It announced a little while back that it now sees itself as a mobility company, and it’s been slowly rolling out parts of a plan it calls Smart Mobility. Today, Ford advanced its Smart Mobility plan even further, announcing that it plans to offer fully autonomous cars within the next five years.

At a press conference today, Ford CEO Mark Fields said that by 2021, it will offer autonomous cars that have no steering wheel or brake pedals. And the focus of this project isn’t on personal car ownership. It’s on ride-sharing.

Other companies like Google, Nissan, and Toyota have previously set 2020 as their goal for full autonomy, while Tesla has a more accelerated plan. It’s hoping to get there by 2018. But the focus on ride sharing appears to be pretty standard across the industry. General Motors has invested heavily in Lyft, and part of Tesla’s new master plan involves a fleet of Teslas for owners to share.

The shift from privately owned cars to shared cars will certainly change the auto industry, and it has plenty of insiders scared. But according to Fields, adapting its business model is what’s going to help it survive.

“The next decade will be defined by automation of the automobile,” said Fields. “We see autonomous vehicles as having as significant an impact on society as Ford’s moving assembly line did 100 years ago.”

Hop on a Strangers Motorcycle

Now that its users around the world are accustomed to getting in a stranger’s car, Uber is upping the regionally appropriate ante in Thailand. It’s now offering users the chance to hop on the back of a stranger’s motorcycle or scooter, hug a stranger’s waist, and use their helmet to get around town. It’s called UberMOTO.

To American audiences, this may sound a little close for comfort. But two-wheeled taxis are common in southeast Asia, where congested streets and dense cities make bikes more practical than cars. The pilot program in Bangkok, called UberMOTO, will use the same background check procedures as its car-sharing services, but take advantage of the plurality of bikes in Thailand.

The pilot program could end up a rousing success, but Amar Toor at The Verge points out that other regionally marketed services like a rickshaw service in India have fallen flat. But whereas only 12 percent of India’s population uses smartphones, that number is more like 31 percent in Thailand. Foreign tourists may give it a go, especially once they see how long a car might take to get them from point A to point B.

So just imagine: On your next trip to Bangkok, you can strap in to the back of a stranger’s scooters and enjoy the sights and sounds of Bangkok in a helmet that dozens of other riders have used. But hey, when in Rome. Or Bangkok.

Cars Over Airbags and Emissions Problems

Toyota announced Wednesday it is recalling 1.43 million vehicles for defective air bags and another 2.87 million vehicles for faulty fuel emissions controls.

Toyota Motor Corp. said it has not received any reports of injuries or fatalities related to either recall. Some 932,000 vehicles are involved in both recalls, so the total number of affected vehicles is 3.37 million.

The first recall for defective air bags affects Prius hybrids, Prius plug-ins and Lexus CT200h vehicles produced between October 2008 and April 2012 — 743,000 vehicles in Japan, 495,000 in North America, 141,000 in Europe, 9,000 in China and 46,000 in other regions.

The faulty air bags are not related to recent massive recalls of Takata air bags that have ballooned to millions of vehicles and affected nearly all major automakers. In Wednesday’s recall, Toyota said a small crack in some inflators in the air bags on the driver and passenger sides may expand, causing the air bags to partially inflate.

The air bag manufacturer, Autoliv Inc. based in Stockholm, Sweden, said it is cooperating fully with the recall. It said in seven incidents, side curtain air bags in Prius cars partially inflated without a deployment signal. All of the cars were parked at the time with no one in them and there were no reported injuries, Autoliv said.

The cause of the defect is still under investigation. Autoliv estimated the cost of the recall to it at $10 million to $40 million.

The second recall affects various Prius models, the Auris, Corolla, Zelas, Lucas and Lexus HS250h and CT200h produced from April 2006 through August 2015 — 1.55 million vehicles in Japan, 713,000 in Europe, 35,000 in China and 568,000 elsewhere, but none in North America.

Toyota said cracks can develop in the coating of emissions control parts called the canister, possibly leading to fuel leaks.

Badass Raptor Truck to China

Sometime soon, at a port near Beijing, a cargo ship will arrive and drop off a small fleet of Ford Raptors, the first F-Series trucks ever to make landfall in China. There, they’ll spend their time soaring over majestic dunes in the Gobi desert and blazing across the steppe. (OK, they’ll probably end up sitting in traffic in Shanghai, but at least their owners will have a commanding view over the sea of black Buicks.)

No matter: the point is, there will soon be Raptors roaming China, each of them painted painted red, white and blue, with the Declaration of Independence airbrushed across the rear window. OK, again, not really. But that may as well be the case, because these are Raptors—a badass, all-American off-road machine.

Ford isn’t saying exactly how many trucks it is exporting or exactly what they’ll cost, which make us wonder: Why make this announcement, anyway? Well, perhaps Ford wants to make a point that it sells cars in China—not just the Raptor, but also other goodwill ambassadors like the GT and Focus RS. That’s really the gist of the story: People in Dearborn, Michigan, manufactured a bad-ass luxury item, people in China are going to buy it, and global macroeconomics are complicated. We may have our differences with China, but an appreciation for twin turbos and 13 inches of suspension travel is universal.

The Right of Car Repair

Most people assume they will always be able to choose where their cars are repaired, but that may not always be the case.

Cars are run by computers and car manufacturers don’t always want to release the computer codes that are required for anyone to determine what is wrong with a car, and the necessary information for the shop to properly complete the repair.

Without these codes, independent repair shops may not be able to compete and car owners may have to bring their cars to the dealership, no matter how far away it is or how much it costs.

There are nearly 225 million vehicles in the U.S. and only 21,640 car dealerships. In addition, there are 132,000 businesses that repair cars for a living. Without access to the computer codes they need, such repair shops would eventually be forced out of business because there will be fewer and fewer repairs on an automobile that they can fix.

Some members of Congress understand the implications of this problem and are working to pass the Motor Vehicle Owners Right To Repair Act.

The bill would require the car companies to share the same information and tools with independent repair shops that they provide car dealers, while protecting the car companies’ trade secrets.

If the thought of only being able to take your car to a dealership causes concern, you may want to discuss this proposed legislation with your elected officials.

Lobbyists for large car companies and new car dealers have been very vocal about how this bill would affect them. Last year, the act had 100 Congressional supporters, but Congress did not pass the bill before it adjourned.

“If the driving public does not speak up, they may lose the right to choose where to have their vehicles serviced and repaired,” said Kathleen Schmatz, president and CEO of the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association. “Something as simple as sending a letter to one’s Congressional representatives would have great impact.”


Tips to Make Repairs Car Made Simple

If so, is it really necessary to go to a dealership or high-end import specialist and pay the extra money commonly associated with this service?

You may be surprised.

Thousands of service shops now have access to original equipment (OE)-style replacement exhaust components.

Depending on the brand offered by the shop, you might even enjoy the benefits of more robust, premium-grade materials, factory-quality fit and a carefully tuned exhaust “note” that helps make your vehicle sound like new.

“Many import owners feel that the dealership or high-end import specialists are the only ones with quality replacement exhaust products,” said Bill Shutt, emissions control product manager for Tenneco Inc.’s Walker brand.

“The fact is, you can save hundreds of dollars by relying on a qualified auto repair shop that carries a leading exhaust brand.”

In some cases, according to Shutt, an “aftermarket” system will be virtually identical to the more expensive OE product. In fact, some aftermarket manufacturers, including Tenneco, also design and produce OE systems for vehicle manufacturers around the world.

“The bottom line for the consumer, regardless of the vehicle make or model, is finding the best total value in terms of fit, durability, exhaust flow characteristics, and sound,” Shutt said.

“These benefits are available through any auto repair shop that carries Walker products and other leading aftermarket brands.”

The same is true in the case of catalytic converter replacement, said Shutt.

Some vehicle owners assume that quality converter service is available only through the dealership. In truth, however, virtually any qualified shop can install an OE-style replacement converter on nearly any import model.


Auto Windshield Repair using OEM

One of the Most Important & Overlooked Safety Features in Your Vehicle Is Right In Front of Your Eyes; The Difference Between High and Low Quality Windshields

You’re on the road this summer and a rock bounces up and puts a big crack in your windshield. No big deal, you can you wait until winter to fix it, right? No.

A car’s windshield acts as one of its most important safety features during an accident, rollover or collision. In a collision, a properly installed windshield keeps you in the vehicle and acts as a backboard for the passenger side airbag. In a rollover accident the windshield supports the roof of your vehicle and prevents it from collapsing and injuring the vehicle’s occupants.

Okay, so it’s time to replace the windshield, but what are the choices and how important is this really? There are two types of auto glass: OEM glass (Original Equipment Manufacturer) and non-OEM glass, or what many people refer to as aftermarket glass.

OEM suppliers are trusted by auto manufacturers like GM, Chrysler, Toyota, Ford, etc. to provide quality controlled windshields that are a perfect match and fit for their vehicles.

OEM glass suppliers spend hundreds of millions of dollars in research and development, using computer-assisted engineering and design programs (CAE and CAD) to ensure quality windshields for their vehicles.

Each OEM windshield goes through rigorous and thorough surface contour and optical quality checks as it moves down the assembly line.

Auto glass parts produced by OEM Manufacturers consistently fit better and adhere to the same standards for fit and finish as the glass that is originally installed when the car is built.

There are significant quality differences between original equipment manufactured windshields and aftermarket auto glass. So why then, would anyone go to a shop that uses aftermarket glass when you need to replace your windshield?

The after market shops will tell you that their product is the same quality as an OEM windshield. Wrong. Non-OEM auto glass manufacturers make copies of OEM auto glass parts. These copies have to vary slightly from the OEM part due to the fact that OEM parts are patented and the designs are protected and trademarked.

Non-OEM suppliers must make significant differences in their product so that they do not exactly copy the glass used by GM, Chrysler, Toyota, Ford, etc. to avoid being sued for copyright fraud.

Many auto glass shops use non-OEM parts because they are significantly cheaper to buy. These savings are not always passed along to the consumer, nor is the consumer told the parts being installed are of a lesser quality.

Aftermarket glass parts also are not accepted by new car manufacturers for warranty claims and violate the repair requirements of many leasing contracts. It is common after installation for non-OEM or aftermarket parts to have fit and finish problems like air leaks, water leaks and stress cracks.


Out of Your Car or Truck

Get more miles out of your car and truck…stretch your vehicles life.

(NewsUSA) – Due to the current economic climate, many Americans are becoming less willing to make expensive purchases. Even the nation’s long-held love affair with the automobile hasn’t escaped the penny-pinching trend.

The latest trends demonstrate that Americans are trying to stretch the mileage of their current vehicles. In 2006, the average car owner drove their car for 68 months before trading it in for a new vehicle. By the fourth quarter of 2008, the average trade-in was 76 months old.

The following simple and inexpensive preventive checks provided by The Automotive Service Association (, which represents thousands of repair shops nationwide, will greatly extend the life of the vehicle and ensure safer operation:

– Always consult your owner’s manual, but a good rule of thumb is to have the oil and filter changed regularly, every 3,000 to 4,000 miles.

– Have all fluids checked, including brake, power steering, transmission and transaxle, windshield washer solvent and antifreeze. These fluids play a large role in the safety and performance of the vehicle.

– Keep your engine tuned. A fouled spark plug or restricted fuel injector can reduce fuel efficiency as much as 30 percent.

– Have the chassis lubricated frequently. This step extends the life of the moving components of the vehicle’s suspension system.

– Check battery cables and connections for corrosion, and clean them as needed.

– Have the lighting system checked frequently, including headlights, turn signals and brake and tail lights.

– Check windshield wiper blades for cracks, tears and windshield contact. Replace them approximately once a year or sooner if streaking begins.

– Inspect engine belts regularly. Worn belts will affect the engine performance. Look for cracks and missing sections or segments.

– Have the air filtration system checked frequently. The air filter should be checked approximately every other oil change for clogging or damage. This system ensures that the vehicle is performing at its peak condition.

Always consult the vehicle owner’s manual for individual service schedules as manufacturer maintenance requirements will vary.