Toyota GT86 CS-R3 rally car presages for-sale customer racecar

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Toyota GT86 CS-R3 rally car

Rallying may enjoy a very strong association with all-wheel drive, but it wasn’t so long ago that the World Rally Championship was populated by cars that slipped and slid across gravel and tarmac using rear-wheel drive. One of those was the Toyota Celica. While the little Celica eventually joined the gravel-spewing masses with an all-wheel-drive rally car, Toyota is returning to its rear-drive rally roots with a modified version of the critically acclaimed GT86.

Called the CS-R3, the new model boasts all the necessary changes to turn the diminutive twin of the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ into a car capable of tackling the tough, twisting paths that are so routinely conquered by the world’s rally cars. That means, of course, the CS-R3 has gotten a power bump.

Expected output sits between 240 and 250 horsepower, thanks to a new racing exhaust and manifold, as well as other changes. The ECU has been replaced with an item a bit more suited to racing, while the compression ratio has also been adjusted to boost the output.

Power continues to travel to the rear wheels, although a six-speed sequential racing box, complete with a racing clutch and a lightweight flywheel, has replaced the GT86′s six-speed manual. The brakes, meanwhile, are 13-inchers in front and 11.8 inches in back on tarmac stages, while gravel stages demand 11.8-inch rotors at all four corners. Regardless of brake disc size, four-piston front calipers and two-piston rears are standard.

While Toyota is debuting this car at the 2014 Rallye Deutschland, it’s not going to be racing there. Instead, the event will serve as the “pathfinder” car for the rally, and will tackle each course with an eye on safety, ahead of the actual WRC cars.

Toyota has already committed to offering the CS-R3 as a customer option, promising that it will be a “cost-effective option.”

“It’s important to say that the GT86 CS-R3 which Isolde [that's Isolde Holderied, a two-time women's WRC champ] will drive is not the finished article; we need the data from Rallye Deutschland to finalize our development program,” Nico Ehlert, Toyota Motorsport’s principal engineer for customer motorsports. “But it does represent a significant step in the GT86 CS-R3 story and gives a clear indication to our future customers that this project is progressing quickly.”

Scroll down for the full press release from Toyota.

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Toyota GT86 CS-R3 rally car presages for-sale customer racecar originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 31 Jul 2014 09:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Outstanding auto loans total higher than ever

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It looks like Americans are feeling more confident about borrowing money again, at least when it comes to their cars. Credit reporting giant Equifax has released its latest National Consumer Credit Trends Report, and the data suggests that auto lending is booming in 2014.

The total amount of outstanding auto loans in the US amounted to $902.2 billion in the company’s analysis. Not only was that a new record, it was also a 10-percent increase from a year ago. “Auto lending continues to thrive, accounting for more than fifty percent of all new non-mortgage lending through April of 2014,” said Dennis Carlson, Deputy Chief Economist at Equifax, in the study.

The results mixed some bright spots with some seemingly worrying trends following the recent subprime credit crisis, though. According to the report, year-to-date new auto loans as of April 2014 reached $163.5 billion, the highest amount since 2005, and the number of them in that period was also at record levels. According to Carlson, the amount of delinquencies was at near-record lows of less than 1 percent of that $902 billion.

“Subprime lending has grown across all sectors in 2014. This is good news as a fully functioning second-chance market is essential for a healthy economy,” said Carlson in the study. Auto loans to these buyers reached $46.2 billion year-to-date, an eight-year high, which made them about 28 percent of the total loan balance from this year.

The rest of the report indicated a strong credit market elsewhere too. Banks issued more credit cards, and overdue accounts were at a five-year low. The total amount in mortgages was actually down from last year, but delinquencies were lower as well. Want to know more? Scroll down.

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Outstanding auto loans total higher than ever originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 31 Jul 2014 08:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Tesla, Panasonic officially partner up for Gigafactory

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Tesla Gigafactory rendering

The first of perhaps ‘hundreds’ of gigafactories is now one step closer to reality: Tesla and Panasonic have announced their official agreement to work together on the gigafactory. The two companies have worked together for many years on electric vehicles, but this new deal takes the partnership to a whole new level.

The basic gist, since the agreement itself has not been released, is that Tesla will take care of the exterior (the “land, buildings and utilities”) while Panasonic will pay for the machines inside in order to, “manufacture and supply cylindrical lithium-ion cells” that Tesla will then use to, you know, build battery packs. Panasonic’s machines will take up half the space while a network of as-yet unnamed suppliers will be involved in the other half, according to the press release announcing the deal. Read it below.

There’s been lots of speculation as to where the Gigafactory will be built, but the exact location probably won’t be revealed until later this year, so don’t expect any battery packs from the Gigafactory to be coming any time soon. That’s why Panasonic is still going to be building Tesla cells in Japan for the time being.

As previously announced, the Gigafactory is expected to make batteries for around 500,000 EVs a year as well as more for stationary storage needs. That means 35 GWh worth of cells and 50 GWh worth of packs each year by 2020. We expect more information to trickle out today along with Tesla’s quarterly earnings.

Continue reading Tesla, Panasonic officially partner up for Gigafactory

Tesla, Panasonic officially partner up for Gigafactory originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Thu, 31 Jul 2014 08:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Nissan to pursue FWD Nürburgring lap record with Pulsar Nismo

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2015 Nissan Pulsar

Europeans get very serious about their hot hatches. So do the Japanese. In fact there’s been a whole back-and-forth lately over who makes the fastest one, and now Nissan looks set to throw its racing hat into the ‘Ring.

That would be the Nürburgring, of course, where automakers trade bragging rights like baseball cards – only they don’t give them up willingly. Renault set the front-drive lap record in 2008 with the previous Mégane R26.R then set the bar even higher with the Mégane RS 265 Trophy. That was before Seat stole the honors with its Leon Cupra 280, only for Renault to take them back again with the Mégane RS 275 Trophy-R. Seat is rumored to be considering a renewed assault, but it won’t be the only one nipping at Renaultsport’s heels in the coming years.

Honda, for its part, has made no secret of its ambition to set the record with the upcoming Civic Type R, and now word has it that Nissan is planning an assault of its own. Its weapon of choice would be an upcoming Nismo version of the new Pulsar hatchback which is just hitting the European market now as a rival to the Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf, et al. There’s no word on what its specs would be, but if it’s going to challenge these players, it’s going to need between 270 and 300 horsepower, a stiff suspension, big brakes and probably some sort of trick differential.

Now if you’re thinking that Nissan would only be stealing the record away from its own sister company, consider first of all that, despite their alliance and common CEO, Renault and Nissan operate as two separate companies. If anything, one could end up lending its expertise to the other, much like Audi did with Bentley at Le Mans where the latter interrupted the former’s winning streak in 2003. Not that Nissan needs any tips on how to tackle the Nordschleife: with the GT-R it has, after all, been trouncing everything this side of the record-holding Porsche 918 Spyder.

7:54 is the time to beat. Game on.

Nissan to pursue FWD Nürburgring lap record with Pulsar Nismo originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 31 Jul 2014 08:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Watch Chevrolet Corvette, Ford Mustang Morph Through Each Generation

Want to see how the Mustang and Corvette got to where they are today?

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Watch Chevrolet Corvette, Ford Mustang Morph Through Each Generation

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