Chevrolet COPO Camaro Concept lives life a quarter-mile at a time

Written By Thomas Ponco on Monday, October 31, 2011 | 6:30 PM

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Chevrolet COPO Camaro Concept

What's a COPO, you ask? Back in the heyday of American muscle cars, COPO was an acronym for Central Office Production Order, which was, for all intents and purposes, a way for Chevrolet and its enterprising dealer network to sneak high-performance option packages and oversize engines past the bigwigs at General Motors and into the waiting hands of automotive enthusiasts.

With ancient history out of the way, what's COPO mean in 2011? Well, it still means performance, but there's certainly no way Chevy is going to bypass the powers-that-be at GM HQ, especially not with a Camaro proof-of-concept that's destined to live out its life at the drag strip in NHRA Stock Eliminator drag racing competition.

According to Jim Campbell, GM U.S. vice president of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports, the COPO Camaro that is debuting this week at SEMA "is a clear indication that Chevrolet intends to homologate the Camaro for sportsman drag racing." Seems pretty clear to us, too – in lieu of the standard independent rear suspension setup is a straight axle that's perfectly suited to straight-line racing. Plus, there's a full roll cage for safety.

Buyers of the COPO Camaro, if and when it becomes available, will be able to fit one of two suggested engine packages: one 427-cubic-inch naturally aspirated V8 (7.9 liters for A Stock racing) and one 327-cubic-inch supercharged V8 (5.3 liters for for AA Stock racing). The car you see in our live images is powered by a prototype version of the supercharged 327.

Check out all the details in the press release after the break.

Related Gallery SEMA 2011: Chevrolet COPO Camaro Concept

Chevrolet COPO Camaro Concept Chevrolet COPO Camaro Concept Chevrolet COPO Camaro Concept Chevrolet COPO Camaro Concept Chevrolet COPO Camaro Concept Chevrolet COPO Camaro Concept Chevrolet COPO Camaro Concept Chevrolet COPO Camaro Concept

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Chevrolet Introduces New 'COPO' Camaro

Concept evokes the spirit of special-order models for Stock Eliminator competition


LAS VEGAS – The COPO Camaro is back at Chevrolet, as a concept designed to the specifications for NHRA Stock Eliminator drag racing competition.

"The COPO Camaro is a proof of concept for what a Chevrolet Stock Eliminator entry could look like," said Jim Campbell, GM U.S. vice president of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. "And it is a clear indication that Chevrolet intends to homologate the Camaro for sportsman drag racing."

The COPO concept vehicle is designed to accommodate more than one engine option, including a naturally aspirated 427 engine (7.0L) – the same displacement as the original COPO Camaros from 1969 – and a supercharged 327 (5.3L) engine. Among the many racing-specific features and equipment is a conversion from the Camaro's standard independent rear axle to a solid axle, as well as a full chrome moly roll cage.

The basic content for the COPO Camaro Concept includes:

Provisions for two engine configurations (see below for details)

Provisions for a Powerglide two-speed automatic transmission, a three-speed automatic or a five-speed manual

High-rise cowl-induction hood

Custom Aeromotive fuel system, with a fuel cell and integral high-pressure fuel pump

Full, chrome moly roll cage

Coil-over front suspension with Strange Engineering adjustable struts

Custom rear suspension, based on NHRA requirements, with Strange Engineering shocks, Panhard bar and stabilizer bar

Strange Engineering S-9 solid rear axle with aluminum third member, 35-spline spool, 35-spline axles and 4.10 gear set

Lightweight, COPO-specific racing wheels

29x9-inch rear radial racing slicks and 4.5x28x15-inch front tires

Manual steering system

Strange Engineering lightweight racing brakes system with standard line lock.

The interior is all business, with most sound deadening and power accessories deleted. Instead, there is pair of racing bucket seats (and no rear seat), a safety harness for the driver, a competition floor shifter and Chevrolet Performance gauges by Auto Meter.

The engines

Intended for NHRA's various Stock Eliminator classes, the COPO Camaro concept has provisions for two distinct engine packages – each built to conform to class guidelines. The details below outline the core specifications of each engine and their intended classes.



Suggested class

A Stock

AA Stock

Cubic inches


327 (5.3L)




Block material




forged steel

forged steel





forged dome

forged dome

Compression ratio






Rocker arms

LS7 1.8-ratio

LS7 1.8-ratio


natural aspiration





Camshaft type

hydraulic roller

hydraulic roller

Cam duration (deg.)

233/276 @ .50-in.

244/255 @ .50-in.

Cam lift (inch)



The concept vehicle is powered by a prototype version of the supercharged 327 engine, featuring an LSX cylinder block.

The COPO legacy

Since 1955, NHRA Stock Eliminator has been a straight-line proving ground for the quickest cars to come out of Detroit. Within Stock Eliminator, there are many classes, all defined by the ratio of vehicle shipping weight and the assigned horsepower factor. Because of this tightly monitored set of rules and historically brutal competition, Stock Eliminator is the ultimate test for factory muscle cars.

From the "Fuelie" '57 Bel Air to the '62 409 Impala and countless muscle cars that came later, Chevrolet has enjoyed a long, dominant position in this sportsman drag racing category. None of the cars, however, have dominated both the track and muscle car folklore like the legendary COPO Camaros produced in 1969.

In the Sixties, COPO was the acronym for Central Office Production Order, within Chevrolet's vehicle special-order program. Although normally used for fleet orders of trucks and company-owned cars, it was manipulated by a few performance-minded dealers to order vehicles with larger engines than were available in regular-production models – mostly with the intent of getting them to Stock Eliminator racers.

By pushing Chevrolet's Central Office Production Order special-order program to its limit, a number of dealers were able to get 427-cubic-inch big-block engines installed in a handful of Camaros, when the largest official engine available was a 396. Two versions of the 427 engine were wrangled out of the factory: COPO 9561 was the Corvette-based L-72 edition with an iron cylinder block and COPO 9560 was the racing-designed ZL1 engine with a lighter aluminum cylinder block.

The COPO Camaros opened up the NHRA rulebook to some exciting combinations for Camaro, helping keep Chevrolet at the top of the ultra-competitive form of motorsports. In fact, they were not only competitive in NHRA Stock Eliminator when new, but still hold the national ET and MPH records in several classes.

Racing enthusiasts who are interested in more information can go to to sign up for COPO Camaro concept updates.

About Chevrolet

Founded in Detroit in 1911, Chevrolet celebrates its centennial as a global automotive brand with annual sales of about 4.25 million vehicles in more than 140 countries. Chevrolet provides consumers with fuel-efficient, safe and reliable vehicles that deliver high quality, expressive design, spirited performance and value. The Chevrolet portfolio includes iconic performance cars such as Corvette and Camaro; dependable, long-lasting pickups and SUVs such as Silverado and Suburban; and award-winning passenger cars and crossovers such as Sonic, Cruze, Malibu, Equinox and Traverse. Chevrolet also offers "gas-friendly" solutions including Cruze Eco and Volt. Cruze Eco offers 42 mpg highway while Volt offers 35 miles of electric, gasoline-free driving and an additional 344 miles of extended gasoline range, according to EPA estimates. Most new Chevrolet models offer OnStar safety, security and convenience technologies including OnStar Hands-Free Calling, Automatic Crash Response and Stolen Vehicle Slowdown. More information regarding Chevrolet models, fuel solutions and OnStar availability can be found at

  • Jaguar Xf

  • Hyundai Sonata

  • Volkswagen Jetta

  • Honda Civic

  • Chevrolet Camaro

  • Toyota Camry

  • Honda Accord

  • Ford Fusion

  • Jeep Grand Cherokee

  • Ford Explorer

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Icon Bronco

"The watch industry is a very interesting parallel in that none of us need watches anymore," Jonathon Ward, founder of Icon 4x4, offers as a metaphor for his latest project. "The secret to them succeeding and prospering and furthering their design efforts in the modern market is in the execution – making the execution distinct and purposeful and bespoke. We are trying to take that unnecessary ethic from other industries and evolve it into niche transportation."

In other words, Ward knows that his custom creations are superfluous, but like timepieces, people appreciate them for more than just their practical use. We count ourselves in that group, as we've previously sampled the Icon CJ3B and found it to be more than the sum of its parts.

The company's latest project is the Icon Bronco. After completing the development of the FJ series and the aforementioned CJ3B, Ward has turned his unique perspective to Ford's legendary off-roader from the 1960s and 70s. Icon will officially debut this Bronco at SEMA in Las Vegas later this week, but when Ward called us up earlier this month and asked if we wanted a sneak preview, we jumped at the chance. With the Bronco needing to maintain its like-new condition for the show, however, we would be limited to a short jaunt around the city streets of his facility in Van Nuys, CA. That would have to do, though, as we were eager to see what sort of unique details and materials Ward's team has implemented into the Bronco's design.

"I drove one long enough to realize that there were lots of opportunities to evolve the chassis, drivetrain, ergonomics, heating and A/C and all that stuff," he says. "I drove it long enough to realize that I don't have the patience for the charm of the vintage platform, but I always loved the aesthetic. So when this all got put on the table I was already pretty ripe with ideas of what to do."

"I drove [a Bronco] long enough to realize that I don't have the patience for the charm of the vintage platform, but I always loved the aesthetic."

Although he knew he wanted to go ahead with the Bronco, Ward knew that he would have to go about the project differently than the FJ or the CJ. "Instead of me doubling down and dumping seven digits into R&D, which we realized from the CJ was a trainwreck given our size, this time we tried to reach out to existing clients and fans of the brand." Ward sent out a feeler to his existing clients and fans to see if there were five people who would be willing to pre-purchase the Broncos. A mere four hours later, he had his answer. The first five Broncos were spoken for and Ward had his development money. "That made us feel really good and gave us further inclination that we were onto something," he says.

Another difference between the Bronco and past projects is that Ward brought in another designer. He had done all of the design work for both of the FJ and the CJ, but for the Bronco he enlisted the help of Camilo Pardo. The former Ford designer is perhaps best known for penning the Ford GT, but has also dabbled in furniture, fashion and artwork. Ward says it made for a great pairing. "His and my design languages are really a perfect match."

Icon Bronco headlight Icon Bronco winch housing Icon Bronco wheel detail Icon Bronco rear fender

While the initial plan was to produce the Broncos using Dynacorn reproduction bodies, the initial batch is based off of original models from 1966 to 1977. "Potentially, we may shift production to utilize the new Dynacorn body structure, but for now, we prefer to use vintage bodies until they are established in the market and the quality is confirmed," says Ward, although finding the right bodies has been quite a task. "We looked around the country and bought ten of the nicest virgin Broncos that we could find – all original paint, known history and no modifications, so that in essence it's the best blank canvas we can find."

Nike's appreciation for what Icon is all about proved to be essential to the Bronco's development, as it offered its prototyping and manufacturing resources.

Even with the blessing of Ford and an enthusiastic group of initial buyers, the Icon Bronco may not have happened, at least in its current form, without help from an unlikely source: Nike. So what does a shoe company have in common with a manufacturer of specialty vehicles? According to Ward, who happens to be an acquaintance of the Nike CEO, it was all about combining the past and present. "The CEO of Nike expressed that in his opinion Icon was doing the same thing Nike was, which seemed odd at first until he clarified. He said Nike's success is all based on their heritage – it's heritage plus a more modern approach in the details. The way it's crafted and the materials used is all still based on their designs of the past."

Nike's appreciation for what Icon is all about proved to be essential to the Bronco's development, as it offered its prototyping and manufacturing resources to Ward. It started out with Nike's designers wanting to play around with various elements of the Bronco, but that eventually turned into a ten-man team of mathematicians, programmers, machinists and designers. As Ward and Pardo worked up designs for each of the items for the Bronco, the team at Nike would spit out prototypes using their SLS Rapid Prototyping technology. When designs were finalized, Nike then did all of the parts machining for the first five Broncos. "That was a major victory for us because once we had their resources involved, that allowed us to be able to realize all the ideas we were coming up with," says Ward. "Otherwise, with our internal resources we would have had to pare that list down big time due to tooling and cost limitations."

Icon Bronco side mirror Icon Bronco door handle Icon Bronco badge Icon Bronco badge

So what aspects of the Bronco needed such extensive design work? Well, if you take the viewpoint of Ward, just about everything. Take, for instance, the grille. The single-piece unit is constructed of B4 stainless steel that is laser cut and hand tig-welded to form, and each of the Icon letters are CNC machined stainless steel finished with enamel paint. Nothing is made from plastic and nothing is an off-the-shelf part, from the door handles to the side mirrors to the side marker and taillight guards. Every item has been painstakingly rendered in CAD and either made via CNC or laser cutting. Nothing looks out of place, though. Ward had initially considered adding turn signals in the side mirrors, for instance, but felt it would have looked too modern.

The attention to detail continues inside the cabin, and Ward's affection for industrial design is also made apparent throughout the interior. The aluminum paneling found on the dash and doors is the same found on the interior of luxury skyscraper elevator doors. The sun visors are the same found in a Learjet. The seats are made from the same material that the L.A. County Museum of Modern Art uses for its outdoor furniture. Each of the knobs and bezels is constructed of machined stainless steel. Perhaps our favorite part of the interior, the gauge cluster, was inspired by Bell & Ross watches and was specially designed by Ward and Pardo using Dakota Digital VHX series gauges. Ward is also proud to say that nearly all of his suppliers are based in the States. The only exception is the leather sourced for the seats, which comes from Mercedes-Benz.

Icon Bronco gauges Icon Bronco dash knobs Icon Bronco seat detail Icon Bronco door handle

While all of the details are certainly pleasing to the eye, don't make the mistake of thinking that the Icon Bronco is all show and no go. As with the FJ and CJ, Ward turned to Art Morrison to come up with a custom chassis using mandrel-bent steel rails with Eibach springs and Fox Racing shocks that provide 12 inches of travel both front and rear. Power is delivered through a purpose-built Atlas II transfer case as well as custom-built Dana 60 and 44 solid axle assemblies.

Speaking of power, under the hood of the Icon Bronco is Ford's new Coyote 5.0-liter V8, the same found in the F-150 and Mustang GT. It took a few tricks getting the engine to fit, including expanding the rail widths and developing a custom header for the passenger side, but it was well worth it. Ward feels the stock 412 horsepower and 390 lb-ft torque is plenty, although he says he is open to adding more power if a customer wants it. "I think it's kind of silly, but boys will be boys." He's also open to different engine options if a customer is willing to shell out the cash. "They are bespoke and built-to-order, so if a client can tolerate the non-recurring engineering cost then we would be glad to entertain the EcoBoost or other solutions."

Icon Bronco engine Icon Bronco engine detail Icon Bronco build plaque Icon Bronco engine detail

Before we got behind the wheel of the Icon Bronco, Ward wanted us to experience the joys of driving an original version so we could make a comparison between the two. Needless to say, after just a few minutes, we agreed with Ward's assessment that tolerating one on a daily basis could be frustrating. Feedback from the steering, throttle and clutch were virtually nil – we found ourselves sawing at the wheel to keep the truck pointed in a straight line and we were never really sure how much throttle we were giving at any moment. A missed shift from the three-on-the-tree left us stalled on the street and the ancient battery refused to turn over again. Vintage charm indeed.

Hopping into the Icon Bronco, it was easy to see the similarities, but it's a completely different experience. Ward has made a huge effort to modernize the components without making it necessarily look that way, installing an all-new climate control system, keyless ignition and an adjustable steering wheel column. Gobs of soundproofing have also been added throughout the cabin for a quieter ride.

Icon Bronco front suspension Icon Bronco front differential Icon Bronco sport brakes Icon Bronco air locker and compressor switches

The 5.0-liter V8 fires up via the button embedded in the steering wheel. We're thankful to see the floor mounted five-speed shifter, and after locking it into first gear, we dialed in some throttle to get on our way. We'd be lying if we told you the Icon Bronco handles particularly well – it still loafs along with a good amount of body roll – but the improvement over its original brother in terms of feedback and response is astounding. Let's just say it handles as well as is possible for a vintage SUV. Ward tells us that he still has some tweaking to do, particularly with the sway bars.

The Icon Bronco will lighten your bank account by a stout $150,000.

Plant the throttle and the 5.0 comes alive, providing a surprising kick in the pants and a nice baritone exhaust note through the single rear pipe. Again, Ward notes that an improvement could be made, stating his regret that he went with a 2.5-inch exhaust pipe rather than a 3-inch. With the SEMA show coming up, however, the changes will have to be made when the truck comes back from Las Vegas.

As we pulled back into Icon's parking lot, we ask the inevitable question: How much do these go for? We knew what was coming, but our jaws still dropped a little as Ward gave the answer. Excluding the core, the Icon Bronco will lighten your bank account by a stout $150,000. Customers can choose to find their own donor Bronco, or Icon will source them, usually at a cost of $7,500 to $15,000.

Icon Bronco rear 3/4 view

The world can use more vehicles like the Icon Bronco, even if most of the world can't afford one.

Of course, there are also plenty of options as well, which can bring the price to upwards of $200,000. One of Ward's favorite options are the windows on our test Bronco, which are made of architectural glass designed for skyscrapers. Ward says the glass is specially made and tempered to be appropriate for automotive use, and it provides a reflective tint on the outside while exuding a light smoked gray look on the inside. There's also the optional 14-inch brakes from Stoptech, which we'd highly recommend given the effectiveness of the 5.0-liter V8, along with locking differentials and a sport suspension system with remote reservoirs. Icon also offers a soft top, hard top or half cab. Colors? Ward says he'll let the customer choose literally any color on the planet in conventional gloss or their signature matte finishes. Unfortunately, the powdercoat finishes offered on the FJ and CJ aren't possible due to the age of the Bronco bodies.

At the end of the day, you either get the Icon Bronco or you don't. The do-it-yourselfers will claim you can build a similar version on your own for far cheaper. Those who simply want a capable off-roader will laugh at the frivolous details. But Icon is more than that. We see their creations as pieces of industrial art work that happen to also be quite capable of carrying you from point A to point B. Ward even takes it a step further. "We like to think that we are on the cusp of a movement, for better or worse, to promote innovative design, engineering and domestic manufacturing solutions that allow us to realize low volume premium products without sacrifices." It's an approach that we can appreciate in a time when most automotive manufacturing decisions are made in accounting department boardrooms. The world can use more vehicles like the Icon Bronco, even if most of the world can't afford one.

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Refreshed 2012 Mitsubishi Shogun rocks up


CIRENCESTER, UK (Friday, 28th October 2011) – Mitsubishi Motors' new model-year Shogun arrives in the UK this week. It is a progressive evolution of Mitsubishi's classic off-roading status symbol that combines authentic four-wheel drive go-anywhere ability with bold, muscular styling. It now comes with a Euro V compliant turbo diesel engine and offers a choice of either three door short-wheel base or five door long-wheel base versions.

Like its predecessor, the Mitsubishi Shogun is immediately distinguished by its redesigned bold front grille – incorporating a short front overhang, upright windscreen, strong high flanks, flared wheel-arches and rear-mounted spare wheel – all key Shogun styling cues that underline its tough, authentic, off-road ability.

As well as the three and five door options, Shogun buyers will have a choice of a four model line-up – the SG2, SG3, SG4 and the familiar Warrior which, in terms of specification will sit above the SG2. As always, the Shogun comes packed with an array of standard safety and luxury equipment. In addition to the re-designed front grille, all variants will benefit from new 18" alloy wheels.

New 12MY Shogun Line-Up
The 12MY marks the arrival of a fresher and sportier look across the Shogun range featuring:
- New chrome grille with slotted bars and thick dividers on either sides
- New colour-keyed front bumper
- Black front skid plate
- New twelve spoke 18" alloy wheels
- Black roof rails
- Euro V compliant engine

The same philosophy prevails inside the car with new items such as:
- New high-quality material for both cloth and leather upholsteries
- New enhanced illumination for instruments
- New brushed silver finish for power window control panels

Furthermore, new features are also introduced, including:
- SG3 and SG4 variants will be equipped with auto lights, auto wipers and privacy glass
- SG4 variants will now include a colour coded spare wheel cover as standard
- Brake override system – in case the driver accidentally hits the brake and accelerator at the same time (the car automatically opts for the safer braking option)

The new 12MY is available in the following colours:
- Diamond Black (Pearlescent)
- Frost White (Solid)
- Graphite Brown (Metallic)
- Orient Red (Metallic)
- Cool Silver (Metallic)

Servicing and Maintenance
The legendary Mitsubishi Shogun has a 3-year / unlimited mileage warranty together with a pan-European roadside assistance package. Service intervals for all 12MY Shogun variants are 9,000 miles/12 months (whichever comes first) and Mitsubishi's extremely competitive service plan (MSP), covering the first three scheduled services can be purchased for just £750.

Vehicle Pricing
Prices for the new model year Mitsubishi Shogun range from just £29,499 for the entry level SG2 model and rise to £40,999 for the higher specification SG4 model.

Away from the much commented "Chelsea tractors" luxury soft-roaders, heavy-duty workhorses such as the Shogun have carved out a very unique niche in the market where ability and dependability matter first and foremost.

Since its debut in 1982, Mitsubishi has produced millions of Shoguns, with a whopping 104,328 units sold in the UK alone. The Mitsubishi Shogun is a vehicle that inspires exceptional brand loyalty, with seven in ten customers retaining a Shogun.

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Maybach 57 by Jay-Z + Kanye West

Written By Thomas Ponco on Sunday, October 30, 2011 | 11:30 AM

V12 / 5.513 cc / 550 PS / 664 lb/ft (900 Nm) @ 2.300 - 3.000 / 0 - 62 mph (100 km/h): 5,2 s / Vmax: 155 mph (250 km/h)

(click images for a larger view)

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Nissan NV van stumbling out of the gate

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Opel Says it Will Lead EV Race, Working on More Vehicles

Written By Thomas Ponco on Saturday, October 29, 2011 | 9:30 AM

Published October 29, 2011

By Jeff Cobb


Opel RAK-e. A flight of fancy? Opel says it is evaluating whether to build this little battery electric vehicle.

This week Renault-Nissan outlined its agenda to be number one in the world electrified auto market, but it won’t own Europe if General Motor’s Opel division has anything to say about it.

For that matter, GM has also said it aims for world dominance, but unlike the Japanese company, it prefers to release little snippets about what it’s doing rather than lay out a six-year plan.

Not that they are divulging much more, but GM’s European executives have been slightly more forthcoming. Last week, Opel’s sales and marketing chief, Alain Visser told Automotive News Europe it wants to be number one and this dovetails with its online brochure generally outlining the same.

"We want the Opel brand to be the market leader in electric mobility," Visser said last week.

Opel has been encouraged by pre-orders of 60-percent of its first year’s 10,000 Volt-based Ampera allocation and the company is also working on at least a couple other small battery-powered vehicles.


It rolls on motorcycle tires. Unknown is how it will have to be modified to pass crash tests.

One of the electric vehicles Visser said Opel may actually build is the wild-looking RAK-e vehicle featured at the Frankfurt motor show. It is intended to be low priced and entry level for drivers age 16 and up.

"By the year's end, we'll decide whether to bring the RAK-e into regular production,” Visser said. “If the decision turns out to be positive, the RAK-e could reach the market as early as 2013."

Sources told Automotive News that the tandem two-seater – which is barely more than an enclosed four-wheeled electric motorcycle – will likely be priced between 10,000-12,000 euros ($13,932-$16,715), and may be built by KTM subsidiary Kiska in Salzburg, Austria, which helped develop the vehicle.

GM says the “dynamic lightweight concept” offers 62 miles of range and a top speed of 75 mph.

The RAK-e can be governed to just 28 mph in order to make the vehicle legal for young drivers in markets where 18 is the minimum age for full licensing privileges.

“The emission-free electric city car even looks good on the highway,” Opel said. “The groundbreaking concept reaches far beyond any conventional vehicle. To drive 100 kilometers would cost just 1 euro.”

The second electric "minicar" Automotive News reported Opel is also developing will be somewhat more familiar to GM-Volt readers, which is good, as Opel and GM in the U.S. have otherwise declined to share more about it.

Sources in Europe have said Opel's other project may be a sister to the Spark EV which GM will launch in the U.S. in 2013.

As a side note, American pundits are also guessing where the Spark EV will be built. GM has not said whether it will be assembled in the U.S. or imported. One speculation is GM could very well bring in Spark EV “glider” rolling chassis from Korea to fit with their American-made A123 batteries and GM co-developed powertrain.

Rather than jump into the fray with other intrepid sleuths, we tried to go to the source, but GM spokesman Kevin Kelly replied that GM is not prepared to share more about this or other electric vehicle news at this time.


Will Opel re-badge the pending 2013 Spark EV for the European market?

When the Spark EV was announced, another GM spokesman told us more news will come next year, but the pundits are still trying to discover GM's secrets.

And actually, GM already contradicted itself on its ostensibly parsimonious information release policy. This week GM also announced the Spark EV's motor will be made in Maryland further suggesting the U.S. model could be at least partially assembled here.

As for Opel and the European question, small e-cars are in keeping with its stated position on electric cars.

"Batteries have a relatively low energy density, so we believe a pure battery-powered car is primarily suited for use in urban areas where limited ranges are sufficient,” said Dr. Lars Peter Thiesen, Manager Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Deployment Strategy.

Thus, Opel's e-mobility solution is a three-pronged approach involving a "complete range of electric vehicles," according to an editorial by Rita Forst, Member of the Management Board, dam Opel AG and Vice President, Engineering Europe.

The range includes: Small, purely battery-powered electric cars for short distances, as covered above, the Ampera and future versions, and electric cars with hydrogen fuel cells "with no restrictions on vehicle size or use."

This said, Automotive News notes that the aforementioned Renault-Nissan alliance will be standing in the way of its intention to dominate the growing electrified auto industry.

If Opel is to succeed, the company will have to outdo plans by Renault-Nissan which include investing 4 billion euros ($5.57 billion) on electrified vehicle development.

"Some people might think our EV strategy is a big bet, said Renault Chief Operating Officer Carlos Tavares. “For me, it is not a bet, but a big insurance policy."

If we learn more about GM’s electric insurance policy, we will be sure to let you know.

Given the evidence shown it would not appear Opel will have what it takes, but really we do not know. GM has a substantial advanced-tech initiative underway, lots of engineering talent, battery labs and partnerships with top battery makers, and BEV experiments now being conducted around the world

We shall see, but whether everyone has shown their complete hand or not, the race is surely on.

Automotive News

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BMW M3 Carbon Edition for China

V8 / 3.999 cc / 420 PS / 295 lb/ft (400 Nm) @ 3.900 / 0 - 62 mph (100 km/h): 4,8 s / Vmax: 155 mph (250 km/h) / Limited Edition only for the chinese market (111 cars)

(click images for a larger view)

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Cobra introduces iRadar Community to crowdsource speed traps

Cobra Announces Cobra iRadarTM Community

Next Generation of Automotive Smart Detection System Combines Cloud Services, Location-Based Services and Crowdsourcing for Community Sharing of Radar/Laser and Safety Alert Info

CHICAGO, IL - October 26, 2011 - Cobra Electronics Corporation (NASDAQ: COBR), celebrating 50 years of innovation in 2011 as a leading designer and marketer of award-winning radar detection systems and mobile electronics, today announced the general availability of Cobra iRadar Community, which is included in the latest software release of the company's award-winning Cobra iRadar app. Today's announcement represents the next phase in the evolution of the iRadar platform. It will be available as a free app with free lifetime updates for Apple® iPhone and iPod Touch devices beginning November 1, 2011, and coming soon for Android™ smartphones.

Since its debut one year ago, the Cobra iRadar app has been downloaded and installed by hundreds of thousands of Cobra customers, with a nearly equal distribution between Apple iOS and Android smartphone users. Additionally, Cobra's first-to-market innovation in Automotive Smart Detection has been honored with eight design and innovation awards from some of the industry's leading authorities including the CEA, CTIA, SEMA, the Industrial Designer Society of America (IDSA), and Mac|Life Magazine.

Cobra's innovative connected detection platform takes the Cobra iRadar smart detection system to a new level. In addition to Cobra's AURA™ database, iRadar users now have access to the iRadar community. The community allows users to report and alert other iRadar users to live police, caution areas, and photo enforcement areas. What's more, when an iRadar unit detects a radar or laser alert, it can automatically share this information with other iRadar community users nearby. Cobra iRadar users can now rely on a real-time network of detectors for superior situational awareness while driving.

"The Cobra iRadar system is a breakthrough in driving safety, and we are continuing to build momentum and category leadership with a host of new capabilities in our iRadar Community release," said Sally Washlow, senior vice president of marketing and sales for Cobra Electronics. "By leveraging the eyes, ears, and detection units from our network of iRadar users in tandem with our incredibly powerful AURA database, Cobra has created a driver safety system that will constantly grow and improve, and truly sets a new benchmark in detection and automotive safety."

The Cobra iRadar system consists of a sleek, compact, and powerful dash-mounted Cobra iRadar Detector Unit combined with the Cobra iRadar app. The free app gives users access to GPS-based alerts, as well as allowing for control of the detectors settings, alert viewing, and other value-added features. The app also leverages the smartphone's data connection for online access to AURA, the only 100 percent verified database of known driving threats and hazards throughout the GPS/navigation industry. While iRadar alerts drivers in real-time to detected safety alerts, AURA provides access to a host of additional safety information, including red light camera locations, dangerous intersections, known speed trap locations, and more.

Cobra iRadar & iRadar Community Features:

Provides advanced detection of all radar and laser guns including Ka, K, and X Band varieties
Automatically records and shares radar and laser alert information and notifies users when they are entering high-threat areas
Allows for manual user reporting of live police, caution areas and photo enforcement locations, which are shared with the iRadar community
Alerts drivers to live speed and police enforcement areas
Warns of upcoming speed & red light camera locations
Offers advance notice of dangerous intersections
Provides 360-degree detection
Reduces annoyance alerts with City/Highway mode filters

Pricing and Availability:

Cobra iRadar retails for $129.95, and is available at over 45,000 points of distribution across the continental United States. For more information or to locate a retailer, please visit

Cobra iRadar Community Software Downloads:

The Cobra iRadar Community release for the iPhone® and iPod® Touch will be available as a free app upgrade to iRadar users starting November 1, 2011 at:

Cobra iRadar Community for Android devices will be available in January 2012 at:

About Cobra Electronics:

Cobra Electronics is a leading global designer and marketer of communication and navigation products, with a track record of delivering innovative and award-winning products. Building upon its leadership position in the GMRS/FRS two-way radio, radar detector and Citizens Band radio industries, Cobra identified new growth opportunities and has aggressively expanded into the marine market and has expanded its European operations. The Consumer Electronics Association, Forbes and Deloitte & Touche have all recognized Cobra for the company's innovation and industry leadership. To learn more about Cobra Electronics, please visit the Cobra site at

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California Tests Hybrid Heavy-Duty Earth Movers

Written By Thomas Ponco on Friday, October 28, 2011 | 9:30 PM

Published October 28, 2011

Caterpillar Hybrid Earth Mover

Caterpillar's Hybrid Earth Mover.

Consumer hybrids like the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight do a great deal to limit the emissions footprints of the people who drive them. But when you take gas-electric technologies and put them into heavy duty vehicles like earth movers, the resulting emissions savings can equal that of 14 Priuses over the course of a year. During that time, the average passenger car uses an average of 547 gallons of fuel, while the average heavy-duty vehicle burns through nearly 13,000 gallons—so even the 20-25 percent fuel efficiency gains typical of hybrid earth movers can really add up.

According to The New York Times Wheels Blog, the state of California is readying emissions testing for six heavy-duty diesel hybrids next year, as part of a $2 million study conducted by the University of California Riverside. The state is looking to understand how emissions tests of different heavy-duty operations in simulated work environments can be pieced together to formulate a reliable emissions estimate for those vehicles. The California Air Resources Board will also finance incentives for hybrid construction equipment as part of the program, paying for about half of the added cost of the machinery.

Earlier this year, the White House announced the first ever fuel economy standards for medium and heavy-duty trucks falling into three categories: combination tractors, heavy-duty pickups and vans and vocational vehicles like buses and RVs. According to the federal government, fleet operators and other truck owners will save a total of $50 billion in fuel costs over the life of the program. Earth movers and other off-road diesels aren't covered under the EPA rules, but according to the Wheels Blog, California may adopt its own set of standards to help in its quest to reduce overall emissions in the state by 80 percent by 2050.

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Toyota unloads bounty of SEMA rides

Yaris B-Spec

Toyota is bringing an arsenal of custom vehicles to SEMA 2011, including three pickups and one very cool Yaris B-Spec Racer. The pint-sized bruiser is based on the 2012 Yaris SE and should be bashing fenders with the rest of the SCCA B-Spec class contenders soon. Toyota says that Jamie Bestwick, of BMX fame, will campaign the car in the SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America in Elkhart, Wisconsin. The car features all of the hardware necessary to meet spec, including an eight-point SCCA roll cage, fire-suppression system, race seat, and six-point harness.

Toyota also has something special for those of you who prefer to take your racing off the track. The Long Beach Racers Tacoma is inspired by the upcoming Tacoma TRD T/X Baja Series, and features custom 60mm Bilstein race shocks, 35-inch BF Goodrich tires, a 50-gallon fuel cell and a big-brake kit among other goodies. All of that kit will come to bear when the truck heads to the Baja 1000 next year.

DC Shoes and West Coast Customs will also show off a unique Toyota Tundra built just for the motocross crowd while Oakley crafted a special Surf Tacoma to cater to the surfers of the world. A pre-production version of the Tacoma TRD T/X Baja Series pickup will also be on display as will the Camry Daytona 500 pace car.

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AEV turns Wrangler into Brute Double Cab for SEMA


American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) will debut the brand new four-door 2012 AEV Brute Double Cab at this year's SEMA Show, nearly a decade after first introducing its Jeep based Brute pickup truck. AEV's original Brute was unveiled at SEMA in 2002 as a Jeep pickup conversion that offered superb styling, rugged utility, and the high quality always associated with AEV. Now AEV will once again use SEMA to introduce the popular Brute's newest incarnation, the Brute Double Cab, a four-door overland vehicle utilizing the newest JK Wrangler to deliver a powerful, unique off-road machine worthy of the Brute moniker.

"When we originally created the Brute, it appealed to off road enthusiasts looking for something different," says AEV Founder and President Dave Harriton. "Now with the debut of the Brute Double Cab, we're expanding the Brute series to a four-door platform that has everything people have come to expect from an AEV Brute, but with more interior room and the improved capabilities of the JK platform." Harriton continues, "The Brute Double Cab shares its DNA with the original Brute, but also draws inspiration from the Land Rover Defender 130, and was designed specifically for the expanding overland travel market. With seating for five and the storage provided by the fold flat rear seats, it makes for an ideal camping platform, whether it be a couple weeks through the Atacama desert or just a weekend trip with the family."

The original AEV Brute won the hearts of auto enthusiasts of all kinds and also won a Daimler-Chrysler Designer Excellence Award. The all-new Brute Double Cab will follow the same truck-conversion design principle as its predecessor. AEV starts with a four-door JK Wrangler and stretches the chassis 23 inches for a final wheelbase of 139 inches. The overall vehicle length stands at 216 inches, a total increase of 30 inches, with a small frame extension at the rear to accommodate the pickup bed. The interior dimensions of the Brute Double Cab's truck bed are 61"L x 60"W (44 inches between the wheel houses), offering plenty of haul space in a highly capable off-roader.

Harriton is quick to point out that the Brute Double Cab is not meant to be an alternative to a traditional pickup, but is uniquely positioned to serve the overland market with more off road capability than a four-door truck and more cargo room and carrying capacity than a Jeep.

AEV will offer the Brute Double Cab as a turn-key vehicle built in its Wixom, MI facility, and expects a production release by mid-2012. The opportunity for the first orders will be given exclusively to current owners of AEV vehicles and to AEV's authorized dealers, with orders opening to the public as production ramps up. For more information, please call 248-926-0256.

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Lincoln MK Z

V6 / 3.496 cc / 267 PS / 249 ft/lb (337 Nm) @ 4.500

(click images for a larger view)

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