First up is a video to remind you that all those videos you shoot with your camrea phone, Flip camera or actual video camera aren’t good! No seriously, this video of a 70’s Yamaha done up in Cafe Racer style shows how well done video of motorcycles can be high art.
Take some time to really look at how everything is shot, the music, the angles, etc, this person who put this together has some real skills!
The second video is also very beautiful, just in a different way. Michelin put together this production from last weekends 24 Hours of Le Mans motorcycle race. What I really impressed with is not just the the film, but that Michelin shows and highlights the winners who were not on Michelin rubber! Little things like that are to be noted and praised in an era where every bit of PR has to be spun to show you in the best light. Enjoy this one as well!
For many people who have bought the BOSS 302 Mustang, they have been wondering when they would receive their TracKey. It is the magic red key, that changes 200 parameters in the cars systems to provide maximum performance. It is “For Off Road Purposes Only”, but yet CARB, the California Air Resources Board, has not signed off on it. Ford can not guarentee that the TracKey does not affect emissions, the engine’s durability or mess with on-board computer diagnostics.
Given how well California’s government works, it may never happen, and once again, the People’s Republic of Kaliforna fowls it up for the rest of us. In a responce someone made this brilliant video which plays on the meme of changing the subtitles to a particular scene in the movie “Downfall“
Have a look and be prepared to be in tears with laughter!
This week the topic is wood. Sorta kinda. Actually, we’ll be touching on the very special wood that went into the new Cadillac Ciel concept, and we’ll be talking with none other than Clay Dean, the Director of North America Advanced Design for GM. We’ll be asking him where the future of Cadillac and other GM design is going in the next few years, and we’ll see if we can talk him into letting us test drive Cadillac’s new über-sedan — but somehow we doubt it. To discuss this and more, John McElroy is joined in studio by Peter De Lorenzo the Autoextremist and Scott Burgess from The Detroit News.
For the Ducatista among you, you have your moles, your informants, you know everything there is to know about the new Superbike coming from Ducati. For everyone else, well the wait is almost over! We’ve known for some time that the bike will be an 1199cc V-Twin, it is a completely new design for the engine, no more remenants of the current V-Twin which can trace it’s lineage back to the 1970’s. How does 195bhp and 395lbs (wet) grab you?
We also know that the bike will be much more expensive than the current 1198. In recent years the price difference between the Ducati and it’s Japanese rivals has shrunk, but now expect the entry level 1199 to come it at $20,000 U.S. with higher spec version coming in at $25K and close to $30K.
The bike will also have a name. Where every Ducati Superbike up to this point has been known by it’s engine size, 900SS, 851, 888, 916, 955, 998, 999, 1098 and 1198, this one will be known as the 1199 Panigale, as a nod to Ducati’s home.
Below you can check out a promo video from Ducati, where you can see Troy Bayliss ripping it up around the Mugello Circuit.
This week the Autoextremist hijacks the Autoline airwaves while John is in Frankfurt for the big auto show. Speaking of the Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung, we’ll be getting into a Frankfurt post-mortem including the invasion of tiny slo-mo EVs from VW, Opel and Audi and the Jeep Grand Cherokee-based Maserati Kubang. We’ll also discuss the NADA’s lobbying effort against upcoming fuel regulations, and we’ll talk about whether we’ll see watered down rules if Obama loses the White House. Also, Coda’s EV will be the first (almost) Chinese vehicle to enter the American market. And, Chevrolet will be aiming the next-generation Corvette at younger buyers — will it work? To discuss this and more, Peter De Lorenzo is joined in studio by Sharon Terlep of the Wall Street Journal and Gary Vasilash from Automotive Design and Production.
John McElroy is LIVE Tuesday from the Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung, better known as the Frankfurt Motor Show, bringing you coverage direct from the floor of the show! Strap in and get a driver’s-seat tour of one of the world’s largest auto shows and participate in the interactive chat. Join us Tuesday morning to experience some of newest product being revealed and the people who are making it happen with representatives from Audi, Ford, Continental, BMW and more. So, get ready to see Frankfurt with an All-Access Pass courtesy of Autoline!
We were out at Greenfield Village over the weekend for their annual Old Car Festival. You get to see some really neat stuff from the beginning of the 20th Century and some years into it. This year though they had a 1770 Fardier de Cugnot which was pretty amaizing to see and watch. Thier were also replicas of the first Daimler car and motorcycle along with Henry Ford’s famous 999 car that he set world speed records in on a frozen lake.
We shot a ton of pictures and we have then for you in a slide show below, enjoy!
This week we’re coming in with our shoes shined and ready for inspection because we’ve invited the man in charge of quality for Volkswagen, Bentley, Lamborghini and Audi. Marc Trahan is the Executive Vice President, Group Quality, VW of America and if you want to know how the company is going to maintain its commitment to quality while growing to become the largest automaker in the world, this is the man to ask. To discuss this and more, John McElroy is joined in studio by Peter De Lorenzo of Autoextremist.com and Todd Lassa from Motor Trend.
Over the last 18 months, Toyota has done everything they could to make everyone forget about the unintended acceleration headlines they had to deal with. Just as that was disappearing, the disastrous earthquake and tsunami caused a disruption to the entire manufacturing base. This event caused a shutdown of plants, a shortage of parts and a sharp drop in sales and profits.
Now that both of those issues have been put behind them, Toyota is looking to have a full court press in refreshing their lineup with the new Camry, the Prius V, Tacoma pickup and the Scion iQ to name a few that will be rolled out over the next several months.
The Camry, while not the most expensive Toyota by a long shot, is in many ways the flagship of the company, how goes sales of the Camry, so goes the fortunes of Toyota. Since 1983 Toyota have sold 15 million Camry’s worldwide, and 9.7 million of those sales were in North America. The Camry has claimed the title of “Best selling car in America” 13 of the last 14 years.
While not a completely new car, the 2012 Camry is a major mid cycle refresh for the car. The chassis is the same, however, all the sheet metal is new, and only 10% of the parts are carry over. The one thing that people will notice is how little the Camry has changed in appearance. There is a new front and rear end look to the cars, but it is not dramatically different.
When queried about the very conservative looks of the new Camry, officials at Toyota mentioned that styling was far down on the items Camry buyers found important. Items such as quality, reliability, dependability and fuel economy ranked higher in importance than styling.
However, the paradox is that Toyota would like to lower the average age of the Camry purchaser from 60 as it currently is, to something in the mid to late 40’s, and to do that the Camry needs to stand out as something more than “blandtastic”. There are other sedans in the segment that are conservative in appearance, yet cut a much more striking appearance. To best describe the looks of the Camry, is to say it looks like the suit you get from The Men’s Warehouse in a 3 for 1 sale, and something like the Kia Optima looks like it’s right off the Brooks Brothers rack. Both are “conservative”, however, one makes a much better first impression.
The interior to the Camry is a nice update, though there is no new ground broken here. Of note, while the pricing of the Camry is less than the outgoing model, the interior looks and feels as if is of a higher quality. One very interesting part of the instrument cluster, however, is the fuel economy gage on the right side of the pod. The average fuel economy is shown on a mechanical gage, much like the instant fuel economy gage of old BMW’s and then the instant fuel economy is shown asa series of green lights along the outside of that gage. It’s a different take, and for the most part we like the execution.
One item that will be an option for the 2012 Camry is the Entune infotainment system. The system works in combination with your iPhone or Android phone. You download the apps to your phone, then they work in conjunction with the Toyota system to provide access to Pandora, Open Table, navigation and more. The Entune uses your phone for an internet connection, it does not have a 3G/4G system built in. The Entune system also uses speech recognition software from Nuance and Voice Products to make for a better experience when you use voice commands to navigate the system.
One thing that Toyota was proud of was that they were able to bring the Camry to market with the same or higher levels of content, and do it at a lower price then the outgoing model. Pricing for the Camry line looks like this:
Model Price+/-2010 Model
*all pricing excludes $760 destination fees.
While not finalized the 2012 Camry is expected to carry a 5 Star safety rating from the IIHS, it will have 10 airbags, an optional blind spot warning system and back up camera.
Fuel economy for the Camry will be at or above the class leaders:
The mix is expected to be 75% four cylinder, 14% V6 and 11% Hybrid for sales.
We had a chance to take a short drive in a Hybrid model of the Camry. It was an SE model with cloth interior and standard radio. When driven in “Eco Mode” it feels as if only 100 of the 200 horsepower available is there to be used. Acceleration is anything but brisk and on ramps and passing opportunities need to be planned carefully.
In standard mode, the car feels much more responsive. We tried a little experiment to see just how the different modes responded to throttle position. While holding a steady throttle, we exited out of “Eco Mode” into “Normal Mode” and immediately began a rapid acceleration. This was confirmed by another journalist we were driving with trying the same thing, and having the same exact results. This showed us that “Eco Mode” requires much larger throttle movements to achieve any forward movement.
If we had to guess, a good driver using a light throttle would get better results then an average driver using “Eco Mode” in a standard manor.
The handling of the Camry is not inspired, in fact taking a gentle on/off ramp at anything more than 35 miles an hour started the tires howling. The ride is fine, not fantastic, the interior is fairly quiet, maybe a bit better than average.
The regenerative brakes in the Camry feel as if they are a generation behind others. Ford, GM and Honda all have a much more “natural” feel to their re-gen brakes in the latest models, in the Camry, there seemed to be no consistency in the peddle feel. In hard stops this is even more exaggerated where there seems to be no action in the first bit of travel and then hard braking all of a sudden.
It should be noted that we were driving a pre-production model of the 2012 Camry and there might be some final calibration that will be dialed in for the production cars.
Fit and finish for the 2012 Camry are what you would expect from Toyota. It is solidly built, the materials have a quality feel to them, door closing has a solid sound, we found nothing to complain about when it came to build quality.
Overall, our take on the new Camry is that we are underwhelmed. For us, Toyota played it WAY to conservative in this refresh. This segment of the market has become ultra competitive, it’s a close in knife fight between five or six manufactures, and it feels as if Toyota approached this as if it was still 2005 and they were unopposed in the market from anyone other than Honda.
While there is nothing wrong with the Camry, there is nothing that stands out either. Toyota may feel as if they didn’t need to move the needle with this car since it still one of, if not the top selling passenger car in North America. However, with the average age of a Camry buyer being 60, that demographic while having money to spend, isn’t going to help you grow new sales, rather you may just be able to hold on for a short period of time before it begins to shrink.
Hyundai’s Sonata, Kia’s Optima, Chevy’s upcoming Malibu and an all new Ford Fusion on the way, are making statements, and appealing to younger buyers. The strength of these players is bound to eat into Toyota’s sales for the Camry, maybe not today or tomorrow, but certainly in the very near future.
It’s possible to be conservative with the design and execution of a car, and still make it feel special. To use an earlier example, buying a Camry is like buying a suit at The Men’s Warehouse, it’s save, it’s not cheep, however, it’s not special.
This week we invite a former After Hours regular to join us for our automotive bull session. David Welch from Bloomberg Businessweek will be stopping by to talk about all the latest controversies in the auto industry. One thing we want to know: why are Ford and Cadillac tipping their hands in future design direction? The Cadillac Ciel and, most recently, the Ford Evos are beautiful concepts that signal where these brands are headed, but doesn’t that give the competition an edge? We’ll be getting into other news of the week as well including a surprising sales story from GM and the ongoing UAW negotiations. To discuss all of this and more, John McElroy is joined in studio by His Extremeness, Peter De Lorenzo of Autoextremist.com.