30th November 2009

Florida’s Deadly Hit-and-Run Problem

At 490 pedestrian deaths last year, Florida ranks as the top state for pedestrian-vehicle collisions, according to Transportation for America, a nonprofit safety organization. Southern Florida frequently has the most hit-and-run fatalities.

Florida also has the four most dangerous metropolitan areas in the nation. Orlando, Tampa, Miami and Jacksonville beat out other sprawl-happy cities like Atlanta and Houston.

Pedestrian deaths remain a major public safety problem in the U.S., with 400 people struck and killed by cars each month and 76,000 pedestrians killed since 1994.

The TFA says the culprit lies with thoughtless urban and suburban sprawl that puts an emphasis on roadways at the expense of sidewalks, bike lanes and public transit. The study points out that 1.5% of federal transportation safety spending goes to projects like sidewalks that benefit pedestrians, yet pedestrians and cyclists account for 13% of U.S. traffic deaths.

The study suggests that states like Florida should focus on building “complete streets” with sidewalks and bike lanes included in the design. States should also invest in public transportation that takes cars off the road and offers pedestrians a safer way to get around their cities. Florida, according to the study, is notorious for its lack of public transportation.

Florida’s Deadly Hit-and-Run Car Culture (Time)

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30th November 2009

DCOTY 2009: How the Nissan GT-R didn’t win the Best Performance Car Over $60,000

There will be plenty of people out there who will read our DCOTY wrap-up and wonder aloud how we managed to choose anything other than the Nissan GT-R in this category.

Let’s face it, the Nissan is one of the most hyped, anticipated and desired cars to be released in many years.

And yet it didn’t win this contest.

The question is, given that this is a performance-car category after all, how can a car that wouldn’t see which way the GT-R went possibly beat it to the silverware?

Look at the bald numbers; they tell a mighty performance story.

Godzilla’s 357kW is near enough to an incredible 480 horsepower in the old currency. In a road car. A 3.8-litre road car at that.

The V6′s torque output is an equally monstrous 588Nm and that’s available anywhere from 3200 to 5200rpm.

Against the stop-watch, the GT-R covers the first 400m in 12 seconds flat and in the process, sprints from rest to 100km/h in under four seconds.

Make no mistake, these are supercar numbers.

So again, the question raises its head: How did anything else in this category knock the GT-R off its potential perch?

Well, if you read the explanation, you’ll know that the Drive judges put usability, comfort and day-to-day smarts ahead of the Nissan’s brutal driveline.

That’s why the BMW 135i Coupe took out the gong.

But this was one of the most argued categories. The HSV GTS is a brute of a machine and the most spacious and practical of our finalists. Arguable the most fun, too.

The Audi S4 is also deceptively quick and impressively practical.

Still, the BMW nails it with a blend of fun and functionality. And it’s seriously quick.

But did we get it right?

Should a performance-car category reward performance over all else?

If your answer is yes, then we can certainly see your point.

But consider this: Nissan itself is guilty of altering its priorities when it comes to this very car.

In the first place, the GT-R’s brief was all about performance at all costs.

But ultimately, Nissan’s call was to install a measure of durability before outright performance.

Originally hitting the market with launch control, driveline problems caused by the sheer ferocity of the available launch meant that Nissan had to rethink its strategy.

By removing the launch control function, Nissan effectively took the GT-R from being an 11.5 second 400m car to a 12-second car.

And it’s a move that begs exactly the same question as the one over the Nissan’s failure to claim this DCOTY trophy: Would you rather a car that can accelerate as hard as it’s physically able to with the chance that it’ll go bang sometime down the track, or would you rather a car that is still blisteringly quick but a better chance to hang together?

It’s your call.

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30th November 2009

WRC: Citroen denies Raikkonen deal

Citroen’s world rally team has denied that it has signed F1 driver Kimi Raikkonen to drive alongside Sebastien Loeb for the 2010 season.

Citroen Racing team principal Olivier Quesnel said there has been no contact with the former Ferrari F1 driver despite daily rumours that the Finn is going to make a move into rallying.

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30th November 2009

Mind control at LA show

Mind control will drive the cars of tomorrow.

Forget voice activation, in another 20 years cars will use mind control to turn on things like the indicators, adjust the radio volume or move the seat. If that’s not crazy enough, some cars will imprint your genetic DNA to become a part of you.

Others will use high-tech polymers that change a car’s shape and colour to accommodate the driver’s needs. These far-out sci-fi ideas are being presented as part of the Design Challenge at this week’s Los Angeles Motor Show.

Called Youthmobile 2030, this year’s challenge has attracted more than 30 young designers who have cut loose to create what they think we’ll be driving in 2030. Youthmobile 2030 snared gifted young designers from Audi, Honda, General Motors, Mazda, Nissan and Toyota.

Technology is a key component of the Youthmobile 2030 cars so the concepts connect with a new car buying generation aged between 16 and 23 raised on mobile phones, web cams and on-line communities.

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30th November 2009

Warren Buffett: All Cars Will Be Electric. In 20 Years

Hidden deep down in a story written by the Houston Chronicle about Rice Business School students visiting Warren Buffett, there is a startling prediction by the Oracle of Omaha.

Jan Goetgeluk, president of the business school’s Finance Club, asked what Buffett thought of the peak oil theory.

Reports the Houston Chronicle, to the dismay of the many oilmen amongst its readers: “Buffett told him that in 20 years, he believes all the cars on the road will be electric. He’s already invested in a Chinese company working on the technology to make it happen.”

That company of course is BYD, the Chinese automaker in which Berkshire Hathaway owns 10 percent, so Warren might be driven by a bit of self-interest. A BYD car, the F3, has been a chart topper in China. However, it is powered by a conventional ICE.

Gurufocus.com, the website that follows Warren Buffett to a degree that borders on stalking, says Buffett’s prediction “explains another reason why Burlington Northern Santa Fe would be attractive to Buffett.” Nah, it’s not because people will take the train.

“All those electric cars will need to be recharged,” says Gurufocus, “and the electricity that will enable that will be mostly created by coal, at least for the foreseeable future. Burlington’s tracks run right through the coal-rich Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming, meaning BNSF will be hauling coal to meet the nation’s increased electrical needs.”

Still, Buffett may be engaged in a little hedging. He recently plunked down $100m on Exxon Mobile. Gurufocus has an explanation for that: “Exxon does much more than produce oil.”

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30th November 2009

Ford Mustang V6

Ford will unveil at the Los Angeles Motor Show the 2011 Mustang muscle car. For 2011, the Mustang adds a new high-performance, all-aluminum Duratec® 3.7-liter DOHC Ti-VCT V-6 that delivers 305 hp, but also a new Performance Package.

The new 3,7 liter V6 engine delivers a total of 305 hp and 280 ft.-lbs of torque. Combined to a six-speed automatic transmission, the 2011 Mustang has a fuel economy of 30 mpg (29 mpg with six-speed manual transmission).

The new Performance package combines the new V6 engine with a 3:31 performance rear axle and Mustang GT-based suspension and braking components. It adds 19-inch wheels and Pirelli performance tires and electronic stability control calibration with Sport mode for performance driving.

The new 2011 Ford Mustang will go on sale late next summer.

Press release after the jump.

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