The News for April 5th, 2013

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Welcome to the Hooniverse News! This is a weekly recap of some of the biggest stories in the automotive industry without the fluff or the bull. I also throw in a little opinion of mine, just because I can. This week:

  • 2014 Panamera gets a new hybrid and a new face

  • BMW does the inevitable once more with the X4

  • Detroit Electric is back with the SP:01 electric roadster

  • Acura’s updated 2014 RDX gets a price bump

  • [Update] Fisker Automotive announces massive layoffs

 

2014 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid

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Big things are happening to the Porsche Panamera this year. The company’s first-ever production plug-in-hybrid was announced that it would be available in the 2014 Panamera, which also gets two new extended wheelbase options and what looks like a face lift inspired by the awesome Panamera Sport Turismo concept. The S E-Hybrid will replace the Panamera Hybrid when it goes on sale this later this spring for $99,975 (incl. destination).

Compared to the outgoing hybrid, the S E-Hybrid uses a more powerful electric motor which is coupled with a higher performance 9.4 kWh lithium ion battery designed to be rechargeable from home or public charging stations. All that adds 95 horsepower to the mix, and with a power increase from the new 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6,  total system horsepower is an impressive 416. Power is delivered through an 8-speed automatic transmission while every other new Panamera uses an enhanced 7-speed PDK. 0-62 is over with in 5.2 seconds and unless it’s limited to 155 like every other German car, they say it’ll reach a top speed of 167 mph on the track. Despite the car’s performance capabilities, it can still drive up to 20 miles on nothing but electricity at up to 84 mph, and once the batteries are drained, they can be fully recharged in 2 and a half hours when connected to a 240V source.

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Other than the S E-Hybrid, buyers will have two other new variants to choose from, those being Panamera 4S Executive and the Turbo Executive, which adds a 5.9″ wheelbase extension over the standard model for more leg room. Executive models also come with an adaptive air-suspension featuring Porsche Active Suspension Management for enhanced ride comfort. The 4S Executive costs $126,575 and the Turbo Executive costs $162,075, both including destination charges.

Source: Porsche, Facebook

BMW Concept X4

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[Filed under Inevitable] BMW is giving us an early look at the Concept X4, which is a smaller, more affordable (lol) Sports Activity Coupe, which is like an SUV but only less practical. You may remember BMW’s first attempt at this (or you may not want to), the X6, which attempted to combine the sporting characteristic of a sports car with robustness and space of a traditional BMW X model. While many find the X6 to be horrendous and sacrilegious, sales are apparently good enough to warrant production of a smaller, X3-based SAC.

For the most part, what you see here will make it to production, which starts sometime next year at BMW’s South Carolina plant where every X model except the X1 is built. Based on what BMW is telling us so far, the X4 will likely use the same four-cylinder and 6-cylinder powertrain options found in the current X3. The closer we get to the car’s launch “sometime next year”, the more info we’ll have, including the interior and their plans for the also inevitable X4 M. 

So on a scale of “drink all night so I don’t remember looking at this” to 10 (best), how would you rate the X4?

Source: BMW

Detroit Electric SP:01

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Remember these guys? They were building electric vehicles before it was cool. Way back in 1907, Detroit Electric built their first all-electric vehicle that offered clean and user-friendly transportation to the masses, and by 1910 they were the leader in electric motorcars. Fun fact: Clara Ala Bryant (Henry Ford’s wife) drove a Detroit Electric, and never a Ford. Then in 1939, they went under. 

Fast-forward to last Wednesday, and they’re back for more. With new management (obviously) comprised of former Lotus executives and engineers, they’ve announced their first new car since the 1930’s – the SP:01. Surprise! It’s based off a Lotus. Technical specs are impressive though, with a 150kW electric motor producing the equivalent of 201 horsepower and 166 lb.-ft. of torque. Power is sent to the back through either a 2-speed auto or a 4-speed manual. That manual transmission actually has 6 gears, but gears 5 and 6 are blocked off since they’re not needed. If you ask nicely though, they’ll unblock 5th gear. The clutch is only needed to change gears while in motion because in every other instance the motor shuts off on its own. I imagine a manual in an electric car will take some getting used to.

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The SP:01 is being called the world’s fastest all-electric production car, with 0-62 mph coming in just 3.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 155 mph. The body work is all carbon fiber, and since it’s built off the Lotus small-car platform, it’s fairly light too at under 2,400 lbs. Eibach springs, Bilstein dampers, AP and Brembo brakes, and the standard Lotus chassis further contribute to the car’s sporting attitude.

The interior will be a typical mixture of carbon fiber and leather. The centerpiece will be an infotainment system that provides navigation and music through the driver’s smartphone, which also controls many other aspects like charging and climate control. Just don’t lose your phone. That’ll be fun.

Pricing is expected to be $135,000 and only 999 examples are planned. Production will probably begin in August with deliveries starting a month later. I say probably because they still have a few obstacles in their way – namely, the lack of a factory. They say they’ll have one by the end of the month, though. Best of luck, guys.

Source: Detroit Electric, Autoweek

 2014 Acura RDX priced

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The updated 2014 Acura RDX is now on sale at the super low price of only $19.99 $35,415 (incl. destination).

For that money, Acura gives buyers plenty of standard equipment, like full leather trim, heated seats, a powerful audio system with Pandora, hands-free texting, Active Noise Control, and a backup camera.  As with the 2013 RDX, only one engine and transmission pair is offered, that being the 3.5-liter V6 that sends 273 horsepower to either 2 wheels or 4 (a $1,400 option) through a 6-speed automatic.

If you want even more, there’s an optional Technology Pack that adds the AcuraLink Satellite Communication System, voice-activated navigation, a 60GB hard drive, real-time traffic, and a bunch more for an additional $3,700.

Source: Acura

[Update] Fisker Layoffs

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Just this morning, Fisker Automotive announced the layoffs of about 160 employees, a significant chunk of its 200+ workforce. Autoweek is reporting that while most former employees are emptying their desks into boxes, the rest are remaining on staff to continue searching for a buyer as they were a few weeks ago when company founder Henrik Fisker resigned. Back then, the top bidder was Volvo-owner Zhejiang Geely, but reports indicate they’ve lost interest. There are, apparently, still a few buyers lined up.

So until they get a buyer, production of the Karma will remain as it was after their battery supplier went bankrupt – non-existent.

Source: Fisker via Autoweek

29 Comments

  1. The Panamera continues to have the greatest feck ugly to awesome car ratio of anything I've known…
    Nice editorial on the X4. I laughed while fully agreeing.
    Detroit Electric? How does a company come back from the dead like that after so long? Did someone just resurrect the name, or is it actually the same company? They seem to be making a pretty decent Tesla Roadster though.
    The 2014 RDX is….

    …I'm sorry what were we talking about? Nodded off for a bit there…

    1. From what I can tell, it's technically the same company(?). They were "recharged, rebooted and re-launched in 2008 by Albert Lam – the former CEO of the Lotus Engineering Group". Seems like more than a re-naming to me, but I'm not 100% sure.

    1. I'll probably forget about it until the dealership across the street from my office has an X4M perched on the pedestal out front with a $180k price tag for over 6 months…

  2. I hope for a future of electric cars with manual transmissions.
    No more whining about using the clutch in traffic.
    No more whimpering about starting on hills.
    No need for any sort of automatic option.
    Just hand controls and rev-match for the people who also hoon a wheelchair.
    And it seems like, to revive an old thread, the rev-match technology could be used to great advantage with hand controls even on gasoline powered cars. Transmissions can be shifted without a clutch with proper rev-matching, and if the starter could also start the car from a stop, we could really be on to something.

  3. Now, this might simply be an indication that I need to recalibrate by looking at nothing but '90s MR2s, Skylines, Integras, Miatas, Altezzas, WRXs etc – in short, the pinnacle of automotive design – for a month or so: but, I like the Panamera better every time I see it. That one in white in particular is delicious. Surely though, stretching it that much for the Executive (what executive is there that will want to stoop that low to get into the captains lounge of his motorcar?) will make it look very awkward indeed?
    The X4 looks like it has the makings of a very entertaining desert racer.
    Brammo have already proved that a manual box and electric motor work very nicely together. Good luck to the new old company there.
    The RDX exists.
    Whiskers doesn't. Unfortunate.

  4. Fisker, DeLorean, Bricklin …….. – what makes people believe that the next one is any better than the last ? People with more money than sense or driving ability just want to be relieved of it by some smooth-talking 'inventor/entrapeneur and every generation throws up one or two !
    If you buy a Porsche then you want to DRIVE it, not sit in the back playing wih your smart phone while the chauffeur has all the fun ???
    I WILL have a LARGE Guinness tho' seeing as I'm Irish !!

  5. Well, the Panamera improved a little. I was hoping it would get closer to what the Sport Turismo concept looked but maybe that's for MkII.

  6. Well, this explains the plethora of Karmas under eBay Motors, Other Makes. Must be a bitch trying to sell one now.

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