Rpmgo.com – Read the latest auto news and opinions, see the coolest cars – Part 43

Porsche really shocked everyone this year when it announced that its first ever hybrid race car, the 911 GT3 R Hybrid, would be competing in the 24 Hours of Nurburgring endurance race.

The event was held a few weeks ago and the 911 hybrid proved to be a worthy adversary, leading the whole race for quite some time.

Now, for next year’s race, the Stuttgart supercar manufacturer is preparing an even bigger surprise: a race-ready version of the 918 Spyder hybrid concept we saw at the beginning of the year in Geneva.

For those who don’t remember, the 918 Spyder packed a combined output of 718 HP by mating a 3.4-liter V8 engine with three electric motors capable of a combined 218 HP. It’s electric only range was 16 miles, but it more than made up with the 78 mpg (US) average. 0 to 62 mph was achieved in 3.2 seconds and reached 200 mph.

While the stunning Porsche 918 Spyder concept doesn’t need any more hype around it, as it was welcomed with open arms by the media and enthusiasts, a race-ready version would further augment its popularity ahead of a possible production debut.

Read More: “Porsche preparing 918 Spyder hybrid for 2011 24 Hours of Nurburgring”

Toyota’s unintended acceleration scandal caused a quite a lot of damage to the image of the Japanese carmaker, but the problems with the cars also caused tragedies in the families of people involved in accidents or crashes because of either the sticky pedal or the jammed floor mat.

According to a new statistic from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 89 deaths can now be attributed to unintended acceleration incidents that occurred between 2000 and May of 2010. Until now, around 52 deaths were pinned to these Toyota problems.

Alongside the new 89 deaths, 57 injuries were recorded from the over 6,200 incidents the NHTSA recorded in that time frame.

In response, Toyota revealed that: “Many complaints in the NHTSA database, for any manufacturer, lack sufficient detail that could help identify the cause of an accident. We will continue to work in close partnership with law enforcement agencies and federal regulators with jurisdiction over accident scenes whenever requested.”

The Japanese company recently revealed that more than 3.2 million vehicles have been fixed but 4.6 million still await for a remedy to be implemented in order to eliminate unintended acceleration worries.

Read More: “Toyota unintended acceleration death toll at 89, NHTSA says”

Audi really upped the luxury feature ante when it revealed the 2011 A8 flagship limousine. In Beijing though, it blew the ante sky high with the reveal of the A8L W12 long wheelbase version.

We were told it included features from the Bang & Olufsen sound system to the massive LCD displays or even the folding ottoman-style seat. Now, the Ingolstadt company released the first promotional video for the 2011 A8L version, and we have to say luxury never looked better.

Hit the jump to enjoy the video that makes almost all of us a bit poor in comparison.
Read More: “Video: 2011 Audi A8L W12 limousine shows off its luxury features”

The Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle saw a lot of iterations until its final design and powerplant technology were nailed in place.

Until it was confirmed that it will use a 1.4-liter inline-four cylinder internal combustion engine in order to charge up the batteries in the car’s extended range mode, we were treated to a plethora of rumors.

Now, with the first Volt not even close to rolling off the assembly line, speculations are already flying around about the range extending engine in the next generation Volt, set to arrive in three to four years from now.

According to InsideLine, GM is currently studying a few possibilities for the internal combustion engine. The company might use a smaller, two-cylinder unit or even a rotary engine to provide juice for the battery pack. While the Wankel engine might sound a bit peculiar, do remember that Audi also used such technology on the A1 e-tron concept it showcased in Geneva.

The second goal for the second generation Volt is the use of cheaper batteries, in order to get the cost down as low as possible. More research is needed, according to GM, but it can be achieved.

Seeing as how the first Volt is set to arrive at the end of the year, GM’s engineers are certain to make key decisions in the near future for its follow-up.

Read More: “Second generation Chevrolet Volt might use two-cylinder or rotary engine as range extender”

While most of us are quite satisfied with playing racing games with a console controller or even a keyboard, it seems that there are quite a few people bent on having a much more realistic experience.

If the $191,000 Cruden Hexatech assembly didn’t really blow your mind, then Thrustmaster has revealed a new product, much cheaper but with a true Ferrari feel.

The Ferrari Wireless GT Cockpit 430 Scuderia Edition will take you one step closer to actually driving an Italian supercar, but all in the comfort of your home. The rig is compatible with the PC and PlayStation 3 systems, and is completely wireless, so no worries about fussing around with cables through the living room.

It also has a few special features, including the 11-inch wheel or the special brake pedal with ‘magnetic resistance’ in order to offer a more real-life experience. The whole assembly weighs 23 pounds, so you won’t be toppling over while approaching those virtual corners.

The cost for this Ferrari-themed racing fun? Just $249.99.

Read More: “Ferrari racing game cockpit takes you one step closer to owning a supercar”

It seems that the ‘hip’ new thing to do when you’re a carmaker is to open up your own line of performance accessories and parts, thus satisfying people who want that extra bit of power from a car.

BMW has its M division, Mercedes-Benz has AMG, heck, even Volkswagen has its new R subsidiary. As such, Infiniti doesn’t want to miss out on this opportunity, and has just filed a trademark for IPL.

What does that mean? Infiniti Performance Line. This name will cover various performance upgrades developed by the Japanese luxury brand and offered for their various models. Such accessories include air filters, cat-back exhaust systems and, most importantly, turbochargers and superchargers.

The new line of performance parts is expected to debut in Pebble Beach in August, so until then you can just dream about the upgrades that will arrive for your Infiniti model.

Read More: “Infiniti Performance Line (IPL) arrives this year, targets BMW’s M and Mercedes’ AMG”

The Ford Ranger is one of the most neglected vehicles in the Blue Oval lineup. Still, this doesn’t make the new recall centered around its 2010 model year any less important.

It seems that 2,934 2010 Ford Ranger pick-up trucks that are equipped with a manual transmission will be called back to dealerships over a faulty parking brake cable. According to the warning, in colder climates, the cable can become disconnected from the right rear actuator, so that the parking brake shoe can become frozen in an applied position.

The specific vehicles affected in by this defect were made between June 8, 2009 and February 2, 2010. Owners will be notified immediately to go their nearest dealer for a free parking brake assembly replacement. You can contact Ford at 1-866-436-7332.

Read More: “Ford recalls manual-equipped 2010 Ranger pick-ups”

Honda has been covering all its bases in terms of future technologies, with projects involving hybrids, electric vehicles and even fuel-cell cars.

While many carmakers are just focusing on electric vehicles, Honda’s CEO, Takanobu Ito, has revealed that a breakthrough in battery technology is required in order to really make EVs profitable from a business standpoint.

In order to acheive such a thing, his company is currently looking into opening research centers in China, given the fact that the country has vast resources for such endeavors. Also, the government subsidies for research into electric vehicle technology are quite attractive, according to the Japanese executive.

Concluding, Ito revealed that another 10 to 20 years are required in order for electric vehicles to become reliable in everyday use and attractive from a price standpoint for the average consumer. Until then, Honda will continue to push hybrids like CR-Z (pictured above) and research other technologies.

Read More: “Honda researching EV battery technology in China, says a breakthrough is needed”

Lamborghini initially started its Gallardo Super Trofeo racing series to hype up even more its entry-level supercar.

Sadly, it seems that the Brno race, counting for stage four of the one-make series, got a lot of publicity for all the wrong reasons.

Italian driver Giorgio Bartocci went on the gravel for an unknown reason and when he re-entered the actual track, he lost control of the powerful Lamborghini Gallardo race car. The vehicle slammed into the pit wall at high speed and promptly burst into flames right on the track.

While the crash is downright terrifying, the reaction of the fire crew is a bit puzzling to say the least. The safety crew struggled to control the fire with small extinguishers and didn’t really attempt to save Bartocci from the blaze immediately.

Thankfully, the Italian driver is being taken care of at the hospital. He sustained some major injuries but doctors are confident he will be able to make it through the recovery process.

Hit the jump to watch a special report from a Czech TV station about the incident.
Read More: “Video: Lamborghini Gallardo crashes and burns in Super Trofeo race”

Driving a car is becoming less and less about the actual human behind the wheel but more about the technologies that can control the car for you.

Normally we applaud new systems that make it easier to wrangle cars, but a new patent from IBM might be taking things a bit too much into the sci-fi Skynet direction.

The company has just filed a patent in which it describes a new type of system that can control the engine of a car at a stop light. More specifically, this would shut off the engine of a cars waiting at a traffic light or at a railroad crossing, for example, in order to save fuel.

The actual patents description is as follows:

“The present disclosure is directed to a method for managing engines in response to a traffic signal. The method may comprise establishing communications with participating vehicles; responding to a stop status indicated by the traffic signal, further comprising: receiving a position data from each participating vehicles; determining a queue of participating vehicles stopped at the traffic signal; determining a remaining duration of the stop status; sending a stop-engine notification to the list of participating vehicles stopped at the traffic signal when the remaining duration is greater than a threshold of time; responding to a proceed status indicated by the traffic signal, further comprising: sending a start-engine notification to a first vehicle in the queue; calculating an optimal time for an engine of a second vehicle in the queue to start; and sending the start-engine notification to the second vehicle at the optimal time.”

Now we don’t know about you, but this sounds a bit too Orwellian for our tastes. We love Stop-Start systems but only because we can control them. If we don’t want to shut off our engine at a stop light (for whatever reason), then we can turn them off, this new IBM system however, doesn’t really sound like it will allow us ‘pesky humans’ to interfere.

What do you think? Would you condone such a system if it were developed? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment. Until then, ready your tin foil hats and stick it to Big Brother.

Read More: “IBM patents way to control cars, stop engines at traffic lights”

Audi has just revealed the fourth movie in its ‘The Next Big Thing‘ series where it promotes the new A1 city car through pop singer Justin Timberlake and lovely actress Dania Ramirez.

You can check out the first, the second and the third movies (out of a total of six) before this one. The last video left the protagonists in a cliffhanger situation, but now we’re treated to an interesting chase between the A1 and a Ford Crown Victoria.

Check out the fourth movie after the jump.
Read More: “Video: Fourth movie in Audi’s ‘The Next Big Thing’ series appears”

Since 2008, when the last Formula 1 US Grad Prix was held in Indiana, rumors consistently appeared about the return of the famous motorsport competition to America.

Now, after much speculation about the venue, it has been officially announced that Formula 1 will be returning to the USA in 2012. Where will the race be held? Surprisingly at a purpose-built track in Austin, Texas.

The venue has yet to be built, but with the ink still drying on the contract that mandates the F1 US GP to be held there between 2012 and 2021, you can guess that the work has been pushed into overdrive.

We’re a bit surprised of the location, but if this means the glorious F1 cars will once again be able to show their stuff in the USA, we’re all for it.

Read More: “Formula 1 returns to the USA in 2012 at special track in Austin, Texas”

Red Bull Racing certainly brought some more excitement to Formula 1 since it entered the popular motorsport competition.

Now, the team took things to a whole new by unleashing Torro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari on a beautiful Dominican Republic beach in an actual Formula 1 race car. Those who believed that race cars were prone to breaking in nothing but the most perfect conditions were certainly proven wrong, as it braved even the sand and the water, not to mention Alguersuari’s antics.

Hit the jump and check out this really impressive video with the Red Bull F1 show car reaching 180 km/h (112 mph) on sand.
Read More: “Video: Red Bull Formula 1 car tears up tropical beach”

A few weeks ago, we heard a pretty interesting rumor about Toyota‘s future plans with its hybrid endeavors. It revealed that the long awaited expansion of the Prius lineup will be made with a full pledged seven-seat MPV.

Now, according to MotorTrend, we will see this new hybrid MPV, presumably called the Alpha, as early as spring 2011. According to their sources, the Toyota Alpha will get a lithium-ion battery pack, a first for the hybrid models produced by the Japanese company.

Just so it has all its bases covered, Toyota is also thinking of a smaller, five-seat compact MPV. This version would be the cheaper one, as it will still use the nickel metal hydride battery pack as the current Prius hybrid hatchback.

Toyota knows that more hybrid models will guarantee its success, especially in markets like Japan or USA, so these models will arrive sooner or later. Now it’s time to bet on what motor show (Tokyo or LA, probably), will host the official announcement of these family-friendly hybrids.

Read More: “Toyota Prius Alpha MPV set to arrive in early 2011”

A short time ago, rumors were flying around concerning Volkswagen next major takeover, targeted at Italian design bureau Italdesign Giugiaro.

Now, the deal has officially gone through. Volkswagen now owns 90% of the Giugiaro design house while the remaining 10% is kept inside the Giugiaro family, currently represented by Giorgetto Giugiaro and his son, Fabrizio.

Italdesign, for those who don’t know, was one of the biggest privately-owned design and engineering houses in the world, with over 800 workers. That team will be solidified by other key members from Volkswagen’s own design department and future projects for the company include the Volkswagen Up! lineup.

Is this partnership for the best? Don’t be shy and make your voice heard in the comment section below.

Read More: “Volkswagen officially acquires 90% of Italdesign Giugiaro”