Report: Tesla buys test track adjacent to its factory

Filed under: Plants/Manufacturing, Tesla

Tesla executives - including Elon Musk - walk away from newly purchased NUMMI plant with Roadster in foreground

Two months ago, Tesla hired Chris Porritt to be the vice president of its vehicle engineering program. Tesla’s purchase last week of a 35-acre parcel abutting its factory in Fremont, California will give Porritt, formerly the boss of Aston Martin’s Vehicle Engineering team (he’s the father of the One-77 supercar), at least a portion of a test track where he can challenge and hone the EVs of the future.

The land was part of a parcel of more than 160 acres that had been owned by the New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc., the former joint venture factory built by General Motors and Toyota. When NUMMI (shown above) closed, the land was bought by Union Pacific Railroad, which sold the lot to Tesla.

While Tesla hasn’t laid out its plans, we’re guessing they’ll eventually expand the track as the factory footprint grows; CEO Elon Musk has said Model S production could equal 800 cars per week by the end of next year. As for Porritt, from his new base in Fremont and with that new test track, he’ll oversee further development of the Model S and the birth of the Model X, Roadster successor and the “affordable Tesla” due by 2017.

Tesla buys test track adjacent to its factory originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 22 Jul 2013 13:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Smart celebrates 1.5 million Fortwo models built, prepares to upgrade factory

Filed under: Convertible, Coupe, Plants/Manufacturing, Smart, Specialty

Smart is celebrating 1.5 million Fortwos built since 1998 at its plant in Hambach, France, before it goes offline for an extended summer break. The 1.5 millionth Fortwo is a white Electric Drive Cabriolet, but it isn’t known which market it will be sold in.

The milestone is highlighted by the reason for the extended break, which starts in July and continues through August: The plant will be receiving a 200 million euro upgrade to prepare it for a next-generation Smart vehicle, a newly designed “four-seated urban mobility car” (aka, the 2015 Smart Forfour) that will be available in 2014. In addition, a new, environmentally friendly liquid-paint shop will be built at the plant, replacing the old powder-paint shop and representing the largest individual project in the upgrade, requiring a cool 50 million euro.

For more details on Smart’s immediate future, check out the press release below.

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Smart celebrates 1.5 million Fortwo models built, prepares to upgrade factory originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 18 Jul 2013 10:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Honda Factory Performance pack now available for Accord V6 Coupe

Filed under: Coupe, Performance, Honda

2013 Honda Accord HFP - front three-quarter view, blue

When the Honda Factory Performance package debuted for the 2013 Honda Accord at SEMA last year, we were told it would come as optional fitment for both the four-cylinder and V6 Accords. Now that Honda has put it on sale, however, it’s only for the V6, at least for now.

The upgraded coupe will be limited to just 500 copies, and it will be known by its 15-millimeter-lower ride height thanks to a sport suspension, exclusive 19-inch wheels on summer tires, ground effects all around the car and HFP badging. Interior updates will be limited to red illumination and HFP floormats.

Honda says the package will cost $4,620 – a $30 drop from the price announced at SEMA – not including installation, and it come with a 3-year/36,000-mile limited warranty if you have it put on when buying the car new. The press release below can tell you more.

Continue reading Honda Factory Performance pack now available for Accord V6 Coupe

Honda Factory Performance pack now available for Accord V6 Coupe originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 17 Jul 2013 10:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Company car offers in decline, but not at The Cheesecake Factory [w/poll]

Filed under: Etc., BMW

As businesses look to keep high-level employees happy, it seems that use of company cars can still be an effective method, although fewer companies are employing it. According to Businessweek, only about 25 percent of companies offer company vehicles as a perk, while less than half give allowances for employees to use their personal vehicles for work purposes.

The report says that one business still in the practice of handing out company cars is The Cheesecake Factory, which offers the benefit to top managers. And we’re not talking about some econobox, either. The article indicates the restaurant chain hands out BMWs on a three-year basis – although the company’s own report says that the type of vehicle “varies with the executive’s level.”

Still, we mostly agree with the article’s conclusion that money is the best way to keep employees or attract new ones, even if a corporate car is a big perk. What do you think? Let us know, in the poll below, whether a company car could sway you to work for a certain company (not just the Cheesecake factory, where the “Glamburgers” portion of the menu alone is enough to keep a guy hanging around).

View Poll

Company car offers in decline, but not at The Cheesecake Factory [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 22 Jun 2013 10:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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De Tomaso’s new Pantera spied leaving Modena factory

Filed under: Spy Photos, Coupe, Performance, Videos, MISC

De Tomaso Pantera

De Tomaso Pantera prototype – Click above to watch the video after the jump

There are some things in this world that, no matter how many there are, we can never get quite enough. Like sleep. Or Victoria’s Secret lingerie models. (Or ideally, a combination of the two.) And of course, mid-engined Italian supercars.

The next expected to join the fold is De Tomaso. The long-dormant marque has been revived by former Fiat executive Gian Mario Rossignolo, but as for its first debut – the Deauville crossover – let’s just say it’s not what we were looking forward to most. No, that role will be filled by the revival of De Tomaso’s most iconic model: the Pantera.

The new supercar is expected to debut in the fall at the Los Angeles Auto Show, which means development must be well under way by now. Exhibit A: the video after the jump, which shows a barely-disguised prototype rolling out of De Tomaso’s headquarters in Modena, Italy. It looks the part and certainly sounds it, as well. But don’t take our word for it – follow the jump to watch the short spy clip for yourself.

Continue reading De Tomaso’s new Pantera spied leaving Modena factory

De Tomaso’s new Pantera spied leaving Modena factory originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 05 May 2011 13:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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GM investing $131 million in Corvette factory

Filed under: Coupe, Performance, Government/Legal, Plants/Manufacturing, Chevrolet, GM, Luxury

2012 Chevrolet Corvette

2012 Chevrolet Corvette – Click above for high-res image gallery

There are plenty who feel about the Chevrolet Corvette, ‘may you live long and prosper,’ and General Motors is aiding that sentiment with a $131 million investment in the Bowling Green, Kentucky plant that builds the Chevrolet halo car. Apparently, though, the reason GM feels that way is because, in April, the state of Kentucky offered $7.5 million in tax incentives in order to hold on to production.

The investment begins this summer as the plant retools to produce the upgraded 2012 model line, and continues as it gears up to build the next-generation Corvette said to bow in 2013. Part of the funds will pay for 250 new workers to join the 400 that currently assemble the five different variants. GM’s press release is after the jump with more information.

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GM investing $131 million in Corvette factory originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 04 May 2011 17:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Bentley Continental Supersports ISR goes all GT3 with factory graphics package

Filed under: Convertible, Performance, Bentley, Luxury

Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible ISR Mulliner

Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible ISR Mulliner – Click above for high-res image gallery

Some cars look alright with decals. A Porsche 911 GT3 RS almost looks naked without them. But a Bentley? The Continental Supersports Convertible (don’t ask us why it had to be a convertible) that four-time rally champion Juha Kankkunen drove to a record 205.48 miles per hour in Finland was adorned with more stickers than a first-grader’s lunchbox. Fortunately, the special edition commemorative model that followed was decidedly bereft of such livery. But now Bentley’s offering something in between with a new appearance package.

The ISR Mulliner package adds red-accented wheels and a red stripe with the words “Supersports ISR” running down the car’s flanks in a somewhat retro Porsche style. Which is fine, now that Porsche and Bentley are becoming sister brands under the Volkswagen Group umbrella. But we can’t help but feel that Bentley’s new CEO, Wolfgang Dürheimer, who came to the job from his position as head of Porsche’s R&D department, should have left this particular element behind in Stuttgart. Follow the jump for the full press release and scope out the images in the gallery below.

Gallery: Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible ISR Mulliner

[Source: Bentley]

Continue reading Bentley Continental Supersports ISR goes all GT3 with factory graphics package

Bentley Continental Supersports ISR goes all GT3 with factory graphics package originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 23 Apr 2011 17:04:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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You can design Factory Five’s new mid-engine, WRX-powered kit car

Filed under: Convertible, Performance, Etc., Subaru, Specialty, Design/Style

factory five logo 250Massachusetts-based Factory Five, the builder of some exceptional Shelby Cobra replicas and the GTM race car, has announced a new project vehicle. Starting with a Subaru WRX donor car, the Factory Five team says it will be able to produce a mid-engined two-seater for under $15,000… and you can help design it.

Factory Five is teaming up with Grassroots Motorsports Magazine to run a public design contest. The goal for the this as-yet unamed sports car will be to feature the WRX running car and weigh in at just 1,800 pounds. It will have a removable top, 95-inch wheelbase and the Subie engine will power the rear wheels.

Stay tuned for more details on this crowdsourced design contest as they emerge. Submissions will be accepted beginning March 1, so the official contest rules should be along shortly. Thanks to everyone for the tips!

[Source: Factory Five]

You can design Factory Five’s new mid-engine, WRX-powered kit car originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 18 Feb 2011 17:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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More Chrysler factory workers caught enjoying “the plant” at Jefferson North

Filed under: Government/Legal, Plants/Manufacturing, Chrysler

Chrysler's Jefferson North Assembly Plant

What is it about working at the Chrysler Jefferson North facility (pictured above) that drives employees to get high? Controversy has bubbled up again in the form of a new report of auto workers at the factory smoking pot during their lunch break.

The last report came in September 2010 when a local Fox News affiliate caught video footage of a group of off-duty Chrysler employees apparently downing a few beers and smoking a joint or two in the company parking lot. This time, Chrysler reportedly busted another three workers – who were evidently not deterred by (or fully cognizant of) the publicity surrounding the previous incident – for partaking in the controlled substance during their downtime.

The automaker reportedly tipped off the man local police to the act on January 24, leading to the workers’ arrests. Formal charges have reportedly not yet been filed, however. Two possible outcomes as a result of the arrests? 1. Workers actually wait until they’re home to light up next time. 2. Afternoon vending machine revenue at Jefferson North plummets.

[Source: The Detroit News]

More Chrysler factory workers caught enjoying “the plant” at Jefferson North originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 06 Feb 2011 17:05:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Harley-Davidson adds Sportster 1200 Custom, introduces H-D1 Factory Customization

Filed under: Motorcycle

Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom

Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom – Click above for high-res image gallery

Harley-Davidson has a knack for creating new models based on existing platforms by swapping out a matching set of components available from its own Parts and Accessories catalog. The tactic has worked well for years, but in today’s trying marketplace, the Bar-and-Shield brand has decided to let its customers do the picking before the motorcycle is even delivered.

Naturally, there are the requisite paint choices, which include seven solid colors, five two-tone options and two sets of custom graphics, and customers can also specificy if they want chrome or black engine covers and wheels in any of four options. That’ll keep the style-conscious buyer happy, but there’s plenty more customization where that came from.

H-D will allow the buyer to tailor the riding position of the 1200 Custom by offering three different handlebar options (standard Pull Back bars or optional Drag and Mini Ape bars) and a choice of mid-mount or forward controls. Finally, the buyer can switch from a two-up saddle to a solo seat, should they so desire.

The basic 1200 Custom platform comes with chunky Michelin Scorcher tires front and rear on 16-inch wheels, which necessitated wide-spaced front forks, and a 4.5-gallon tank. We’re pleased to see that H-D didn’t neuter the handling of the 1200 Custom by angling for an ever-lower seat height (28.5-inches unladed, 26.6 laden).

Also, though rear suspension travel is just 2.12 inches, there’s a reasonable 4.4 inches of ground clearance, which means normal riding won’t mean scraping hard parts on the asphalt. Lean angles are 26.2 degrees on the left and 28.3 on the right, for what it’s worth.

Check out the high-res pics in our image gallery below, and hit the jump for the full press release.

Gallery: Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom

Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 CustomHarley-Davidson Sportster 1200 CustomHarley-Davidson Sportster 1200 CustomHarley-Davidson Sportster 1200 CustomHarley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom

[Source: Harley-Davidson]

Continue reading Harley-Davidson adds Sportster 1200 Custom, introduces H-D1 Factory Customization

Harley-Davidson adds Sportster 1200 Custom, introduces H-D1 Factory Customization originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 03 Feb 2011 14:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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