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Tesla customers angry over price increase

According to AutoExpress, a lot of Tesla Roadster buyers are angry at the company’s decision to ask them to pay for a kit that initially came as standard. The kit includes extras like High Performance Charger or alloy wheels and US deposit holders are now required to pay an extra $7,000 (around £4,900). As far as we know, the decision is only available in the US, an UK spokesman saying that prices won’t rise in the Kingdom.


The ten finalists for the 2009 World Car of the Year Awards announced

Last week, the ten finalists for the 2009 World Car of the Year Awards were announced and here the list of car from which the 59 international automotive journalists will pick the winner, which will be announced on April 9, at the New York International Auto Show.

The 2009 World Car of the Year will be selected from the following cars listed in alphabetical order. Eleven cars are listed as there is a tie.
- Audi A4 / Avant
- BMW 7 Series
- Citroen C5 Sedan / C5 Tourer
- Fiat 500
- Ford Fiesta
- Honda Fit / Jazz
- Jaguar XF
- Mazda Atenza / Mazda6
- Nissan GT-R
- Toyota iQ
- Volkswagen Golf VI

The 2009 World Performance Car, presented by Mobil 1, will be chosen from one of these top ten finalists:

- Audi RS 6 Avant
- BMW 135i Coupe / Cabriolet
- Corvette ZR1
- Lamborghini LP560-4 Gallardo
- Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG
- Mercedes-Benz SL 63 AMG
- Mitsubishi Evo X / Evo MR
- Nissan GT-R
- Porsche 911 Carrera
- Subaru Impreza WRX STI

So, what do you think, who’s going to win? Feel free to drop a comment For the World Car of the Year we’d go with the Ford Fiesta and for the World Performance Car award we’d place our bets on the Nissan GT-R.


Mercedes Benz E Class Coupe spied in Spain

A couple of days ago we showed you a few leaked photos of the new E Class Coupe, Mercedes’ replacement for the current CLK and now we’ve got the first photos showing the car on the street. The vehicle was photographed in Mallorca, Spain during an internal event for employees, by the guys from Motorpasion and it has minimal camouflage; except for the headlights and tail lights, which are covered, the car is completely undisguised. So, what do you think, will Mercedes be able to compete with the other German luxury coupes, like the 3 Series Coupe or the Audi A5/S5? I think they can, because, like any other Mercedes model, they’ve decided to go for more stylish and less aggressive, which I think will appeal to a lot of customers.

For more photos of the car, check out the complete photo gallery on Motorpasion.


Biofuel powered Bentley to debut in Geneva

With a little more than a month left until the Geneva Motor Show starts, Bentley has announced today that one of their stand’s starts will be what they call their fastest and most powerful production car ever. Of course, that’s interesting, but not that interesting, you might say. But that’s not all. The car, named “Extreme Bentley” so far, will run on biofuel. That’s about all the details the British company has released, but considering the current most powerful Bentley is a 600 hp beast, we can only dream about what the Geneva car will be like. And about the biofuel part, the guys from Autoblog expect to see an ethanol adapted version of the twin-turbocharged W12 that powers the most powerful Bentley in production.

And for all our US readers who won’t probably make it to Switzerland to the Geneva Motor Show, don’t worry, the car will be on display at April’s New York Auto Show, so you too will be able to admire the beauty.


Seven-seat Citroen Berlingo Multispace available in the UK

Citroen has announced today that the Berlingo Multispace range just got extended with a new seven-seat version. The new “Family Pack” option will be priced at £800 and will be available for the VTR models powered by the 110hp 1.6i and the 90 hp 1.6HDi engines. The package offers 3 individual, foldable and removable middle row seats and two additional back row seats, completing its seven seat capacity. The new seven-seat Multispace features lateral airbags for the protection of rear passengers as well as a luggage cover, for when the boot is in use, and a handy 12V socket. Might not be the coolest car ever, but for a family car, this sounds very interesting.

Photo Gallery: Seven-seat Berlingo Multispace


The horror: IdingPower’s tuning program for the BMW M3

The first question that hit us after we saw these photos is “Why?”. This BMW M3 tuning program was created by Japanese company IdingPower and consists of a new body kit with front lip spolier and a huge wing, new alloy wheels, sport exhaust system and new suspension and brake packages. We don’t know about you, but that rear wing is hideous, not to mention useless on the streets. Anyways, we think these guys love the Subaru Impreza WRX STi too much, because their M3 sure looks a lot like it.

Photo Gallery: BMW M3 tuning by IdingPower


Rumors: Chrysler to build four models based on Fiat and Alfa Romeo cars

One of last week’s most important news was the merger between the troubled US carmaker Chrysler and the Fiat Group. Like we said then, if the move goes through, several Fiat models will enter the US market, and the Italian carmaker will share some of its existing and future platforms with Chrysler. According to a recent report by Automotive News, the Fiat Group vehicles which will be sold in the United States are the Fiat 500, the recently introduced Alfa Romeo MiTo and the next generation Alfa 147 (most likely named 149). Also, the three models will be the starting point for three Chrysler models, which we assume will be rebadged and slightly restyled Fiat cars. Automotive News also reports that the fourth model will be a five-door hatchback based on the next generation Fiat Panda, which will go on sale with a Chrysler or Dodge badge.


Lexus IS-F gets Wald International tuning treatment

The Lexus IS-F definitely is one of the most beautiful high performance sedans out there, but Japanese tuning company Wald International decided to give the IS-F a look that truly matches its performance figures. So they came up with this, the Sports Line Black Bison Edition, which debuted earlier this month at the Tokyo Auto Salon. So, what Wald did was design a new carbon fiber body kit which includes new front spoiler, rear wing and rear diffuser with side vents built in, plus a set of 2- inch dark colored Mahora 3-piece allow wheels. As Wald International got us used to, the package is quite extreme, but still, very aggressive and impressive.

Photo Gallery: Lexus IS-F tuning by Wald International


Electric Opel Ampera to debut at the Geneva Motor Show

Today, GM has announced that March’s Geneva Motor Show will mark the debut of the Opel Ampera, an electric five-door, four-seat concept. According to GM, the Ampera, which is based on the Voltec powertrain, will offer 60 km (37 miles) of zero emissions driving, while for longer distances, the car will be powered by the same electric motor, powered by a small internal combustion engine. Opel claims this system suits Europeans perfectly, recent surveys showing that, for example, 80 percent of Germans drive less than 50 km every day.

“With the Ampera, Opel will be the first European automobile manufacturer to provide customers several hundred kilometers of non-stop electric driving,” said Alain Visser, GM Europe Chief Marketing Officer. More details on the Ampera will be available closer to its debut.


Chrome platted Mercedes Benz C63 AMG spotted in Dubai

For someone who like to draw attention to himself, Dubai is one challenging city, because there, everyday you get to see houndreds or thousands of expensive cars. So, what do you do when you have a “modest” Mercedes Benz C63 AMG? You go for chrome. But not for the front grille or the door handles. No, no, you go with chrome for the whole thing. It’s true, you’re gonna get some heads turning your way, but you’re definitely also get some stomachs turned upside down.

Photo Gallery: Chromed Mercedes Benz C63 AMG


Tesla what? Meet the White Zombie, one of the world’s fastest electric cars

Recently, there has been a lot of buzz around electic vehicles, with companies like Tesla or Fisker working on some really beautiful and fast electric coupes and sedans. So who would’ve expected this? One of the world’s fastest street legal electric vehicles is a modified 1972 Datsun 1200 coupe. Using special lightweight lithium ion batteries originally developed for electric hand tools, John Wayland’s White Zombie (that’s the Datsun’s name) can run the 1/4 mile in under 11.5 seconds, with a trap speed of more than 114 miles per hour. Not to mention that the electric motors produce full torque basically at 0 rpm, so John has a lot of fun taking out all sorts of cars with hundreds of ponies under the bonnnet.

Check out a video of the little Datsun in action, after the jump. (more…)

Leaked Mercedes Benz E Class Coupe official images

During the past months we’ve seen a lot of spy photos of the new Mercedes Benz E Class coupe and now, thanks to the guys over at autoblog.nl, we finally have some leaked official images. There was no official reaction from Mercedes, but the E Class coupe is expected to replace the CLK. The new coupe, which grew in size, is also heavily influenced by the new E Class and is expected to debut at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, in March.

Photo Gallery: Leaked Mercedes Benz E Class Coupe images


Audi also reducing work hours for 25,000 workers in Germany

Two days ago we wrote about BMW and Volkswagen planning on reducing work hours for a total of 86,000 workers, Germany. And now, even though last year was one of the best years in Audi’s history, the German giant announced that they also plan on reducing work hours at their Ingolstadt and Neckarslum plants, between February 20 and 27. The decision, which affects around 25,000 employees from the divisions directly associated with the production of automobiles. However, Audi reassured its employees that they workplaces are secure, at least until 2011.

“The overall demand in some major markets has dropped so drastically, especially in the last few weeks, that we’ve been forced to act,” said Dr. Werner Widuckel, Member of the Board of Management for Human Resources at AUDI AG. “This is our way of reacting to the downward trend in demand on worldwide car markets.”

“In the agreement on reduced hours compensation allowance, we agreed with the Board of Management on a gross increase in the reduced hours compensation. Through this, remuneration should for the most part be equalized,” said Peter Mosch, Chairman of the General Works Council of AUDI AG.


A few cars you can see in Chechnya

We’re sure everyone heard of Chechnya. Not much to say about the region, except for the never ending war with Russia. You’d say that there’s nothing interesting about cars going on over there but, oh boy, you sure are wrong. Because if you imagine all you can see there is some third world scenery, you’re making a big mistake. While common in Monte Carlo or Beverly Hills, you wouldn’t expect chechnyans to drive a Lamborghini Reventon, a Rolls Royce Drophead Coupe, a McLaren SLR or an Audi R8. Not to mention those Porsche Cayennes and Mercedes Benz ML AMGs fleets. Of course, we wouldn’t want to know what these guys do for a living, but we’re sure they don’t write for an unleashed car blog or grow corn.

Photo Gallery: Cars in Chechnya


Audi to advertise again in the Super Bowl, this time with Jason Statham

It seems that Audi was pleased with last year’s Super Bowl ad, because this year they’ve decided to go with another ad during one of every year’s most anticipated sports events. This time, they’ve decided to go with an ad featuring Jason Statham (one of the coolest actors around, with movies like Crank, Snatch, Death Race), the actor who became famous after doing all sorts of stunts in a BMW 7 Series, an Audi A8 W12 and an Audi S8, in the Transporter movies (the first one was really good, but still, all three movies were fun to watch). In this year’s ad Audi continues to send warnings to “old luxury”, the spot featuring a high-speed journey through luxury automobiles in American history, sending the message that some things are best left in the past. The ad was created by Audi’s advertising agency, San Francisco based Venables Bell & Partners and it was shot on-location in Los Angeles.

“After an exceptional last two years, the Audi brand has experienced unprecedented growth, not just in sales, but in awareness and excitement,” said Scott Keogh, chief marketing officer, Audi of America. “Every new model we introduce is making more and more consumers stand up and take notice of the single best line-up in the market. Last year’s spot sent the message that Audi was truly redefining luxury. This year’s spot will ensure that everyone realizes that Audi is the best choice, period.”

“In addition to having had the opportunity to drive Audi models in several of my films, I drive one in my personal life, as well. I have always loved the mix of style and performance they offer,” said Statham. “I am thrilled to be affiliated with a company I so believe in on the biggest stage in American television.”


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