‘Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown’ announced as third installment in racing video game series

Video game publisher Nacon hosted a virtual press conference to reveal some of its upcoming titles, and one of them revives a series that has always shown lots of promise: “Test Drive Unlimited.” Not only that, but it has a motorcycle racing simulation game on the way. However, neither title came with many details as they’re each a ways out from release.

“Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown” is certainly the biggest news, as it will be the third in a series that last had a release in 2011. The teaser trailer doesn’t reveal much except close-ups of candy-colored supercars and a well-dressed human. Past installments of the game have focused on living the lifestyle of the super rich, racing supercars, buying luxury properties to store them, dressing up in designer fashions and exploring exotic locales. The first “Test Drive Unlimited” took place in a nearly 1:1 re-creation of Oahu, and the second added the island of Ibiza. They were fun fantasy simulators that sweated little details, which is why we wanted to see the series make a return someday. According to Nacon and game developer KT Racing, a part of Kylotonn, this installment will again have a real-life location, and it will again be an island. We’re also excited to see that KT Racing is involved, since they’ve done an admirable job with the “WRC” rally racing game series. Past “Test Drive” games developed by Eden Games and published by Atari had some strange driving physics.

The other game being announced is “RiMS Racing,” which is a motorcycle racing sim. Very little was revealed about the title other than it having realistic physics, licensed bikes and famous roads and race tracks. RaceWard Studio is developing the game, and they don’t seem to have any titles to their name yet besides this new one. Apparently it will be built using a game engine created by aforementioned KT Racing, which besides “WRC” also developed “Tourist Trophy: Isle of Man” and that game’s direct sequel.

We’ll have awhile to wait for each of these racing games. “RiMS Racing” is slated for next summer, and “Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown” is early enough in development that it doesn’t have a release date at all.

Source: AutoBlog.com

U.S. probes fuel leaks in GM’s older Chevy Cobalt and HHR vehicles

The U.S. auto safety agency on Tuesday disclosed it has opened an investigation into complaints of fuel leaks in older Chevrolet Cobalt compact cars and HHR wagons, manufactured by General Motors.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said the investigation, which was opened on Sunday, covers more than 614,000 vehicles from 2008 to 2010 model years.

“The fuel leaks are the result of corrosion of the metal fuel lines underneath the vehicle towards the rear and in the vicinity of the left rear wheel well,” the regulator said after it received 208 complaints of fuel leaks from vehicle owners.

NHTSA said there were no reports of fires or injuries from such leaks, and it was probing the scope and severity of the potential problem to assess any possible safety issues with the vehicles.

GM said it will continue to cooperate with NHTSA in the investigation.

Source: AutoBlog.com

Harbor Freight jack stand recall: Now the replacement stands are also recalled

In May, Harbor Freight recalled more than 1.7 million Pittsburgh-branded three- and six-ton jack stands that could collapse due to a manufacturing flaw. The flaw on those stands came from worn dies in the manufacturing process, which stamped out worn ratchet teeth that wouldn’t engage sufficiently. Harbor Freight issued gift cards to customers, which some shoppers used on replacement jack stands. The following month, a customer put his replacement stand under a Volkswagen Golf, and that stand failed due to what looked like a welding issue on the legs. Harbor Freight said it would investigate the matter, and in a letter to customers, founder and CEO Eric Smidt said the company “identified a welding defect in a small number of the Pittsburgh 3 ton steel jack stands that replaced the recalled jack stands.” So Harbor Freight has added another set of jack stands to the first recall.

The May recall covered three- and six-ton stands with item numbers 56371, 61196, and 61197. This expanded recall adds the three-ton stand with item number 56373.

The company wants to do more than merely swap parts, it wants to earn its customers’ trust back. That could take time and money, Harbor Freight having failed twice with components that are potentially deadly. Smidt’s ready to spend the money, it seems. In his letter, he wrote that the company investigated all of its Pittsburgh three-, six-, and 12-ton steel jack stands and didn’t find the defect, but, “Although none of these other jack stands are being recalled, if you own any of them and have any concern whatsoever, please bring them back and we’ll give you a full cash refund or store credit for those as well.”

If you own any of the recalled stands, stop using them immediately and get them back to Harbor Freight. And perhaps keep an eye on enthusiast chat boards for word on the replacement stands that replace the first replacement stands.

Source: AutoBlog.com

2021 Nissan Frontier prototype spied on the road

The 2021 Nissan Frontier has been spotted on the road this week, wearing thin, form-fitting camouflage that flatters a new design that heralds the pickup’s first comprehensive redesign in a decade and a half. 

Nissan has already confirmed several details of its redesigned 2021 Frontier pickup, even going so far as to tease its powertrain in the current (and soon to be outgoing) model, but the 2021 model year is going to be the real deal: a ground-up redesign of a model that has been relegated to a value proposition after years of seemingly inert development. 

That all changed over the past year, when Nissan confirmed its timeline for the Frontier’s replacement, and gave us a whopping preview of what is in store for the new truck by introducing its new 3.8-liter, 310-horsepower V6 and 9-speed automatic transmission in the existing model. It is now the most powerful factory engine available in the midsize segment. 

Thanks to Nissan’s own teasers, we already had a decent idea of what the new Frontier would look like. The front nose no longer slopes downward when viewed in profile, appearing like most upright truck faces do these days. Two proud twin strips of LED lighting bring it up to date with a signature look, and the hood features multiple muscular lines. Viewed from the side like this, we’re getting Toyota Tacoma vibes from its blocky shape and brawny lines.

Nissan has promised that the new Frontier will offer levels of comfort and refinement already available from the rest of its U.S. competitors, and the company even acknowledged that it may be time to offer a performance-oriented model. The Frontier was originally expected as a 2021 model with a launch happening sometime later this year, and first deliveries expected around February of 2021. Whether the global health crisis has altered that timeline remains to be seen, but we expect Nissan will want to get the word out about its new truck as soon as possible.

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Source: AutoBlog.com

Farfus returns to WEC and Le Mans 24 Hours with Aston Martin Racing

BMW factory driver Augusto Farfus will make a return to the World Endurance Championship and the Le Mans 24 Hours with Aston Martin.The Brazilian, who contested both editions of Le Mans encompassed by the 2018/19 WEC superseason with BMW, has been recruited to drive the British manufacturer’s factory-run GTE Am entry for the final three events of the 2019/20 series by car owner Paul Dalla Lana.Farfus will share the #98 Aston Martin Vantage GTE with Dalla Lana and Ross Gunn at Spa in August, Le Mans on September 19/20 and then the Bahrain finale in November.He is replacing long-time Aston Martin Racing driver Darren Turner, who will focus on development of the marque’s Valkyrie road car over the remainder of this year.Farfus will also contest the second round of the European Le Mans Series at Spa on 9 August, a week before the WEC event at the Belgian track, alongside Dalla Lana and Mathias Lauda, who drove the #98 car in the WEC in 2015-2018/19.Dalla Lana, 2017 WEC GTE Am champion with Lauda and Pedro Lamy, said: “I’ve been friends with Augusto for a long time, and we’ve wanted to race together for a while, but it’s only now that a break in his programme has allowed us to do this.”John Gaw, managing director of Aston Martin Racing, added: “Paul has chosen to recruit Augusto Farfus to race with him and we look forward to welcoming him to the team.”Farfus’s primary programme with BMW this season is racing with the Walkenhorst team in the Intercontinental GT Challenge.Le Mans this year will be his fifth assault on the French race.Aston’s regular GTE Am WEC entry will race in the opening two rounds of the 2020 ELMS.Dalla Lana, who will contest the first round at Paul Ricard on July 19 with Gunn and Lauda, said: “I’ve really missed competing on the track, and getting the opportunity to put in extra competitive miles in the ELMS is really exciting.”The ELMS presents a tough challenge, and the races are long enough to test our skills and our systems as we prepare to return to WEC.”Aston has stressed that three-time Le Mans class winner Turner will make a full-time return to the race track in 2021.Did you know…Augusto Farfus isn’t the first BMW driver to race an Aston Martin Racing entry at Le Mans.Marque stalwart Bill Auberlen drove a Vantage with Paul Dalla Lana and Pedro Lamy at the French enduro in 2013.He and the Canadian were regular teammates in the Grand-Am series at the time aboard a BMW M6 silhouette racer run by the Turner Motorsports squad.
Source: AutoSport.com

Alex Zanardi undergoes facial reconstruction surgery

MILAN — Former Formula One driver and Paralympic champion Alex Zanardi underwent further neurological surgery on Monday after being seriously injured in a handbike accident last month, a hospital statement said.

It was a third followup operation for the 53-year-old Italian, who remains in a medically-induced coma, after being hit by a vehicle during a handbike race in Siena on June 19.

The hospital in Siena said Zanardi underwent facial reconstruction surgery for five hours.

“The patient has undergone a new surgery aimed at cranio-facial reconstruction and stabilization of the areas affected by the trauma. The fractures were complex,” said Professor Paolo Gennaro, director of the Siena university hospital’s maxillofacial surgery unit, in a statement.

“This required careful programming that made use of computerised, digital and three-dimensional technologies, made to measure of the patient.

“The complexity of the case was rather singular, even if it is a type of fracture that we routinely face in our centre.”

Zanardi is an inspirational figure in motorsport and Paralympics after he had to have both of his legs amputated above the knee following a horrific crash in a Champ car race in Germany in September 2001.

He later turned to paracycling and won four Paralympic gold medals.

Ferrari raced Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix with messages of support for Zanardi on both its cars.

Source: AutoBlog.com

Tesla stock rises 13% as strong deliveries drive profit optimism

Shares of Tesla stock surged 13% to a record high on Monday, extending their rally to over 40% in five sessions after analysts raised their price targets on the electric car maker following its strong quarterly deliveries.

The day’s jump increased Tesla’s stock market value by $30 billion, eclipsing the entire value of Ford Motor Co, currently at $25 billion.

JMP Securities increased its price target to $1,500 from $1,050 after Tesla on Thursday reported higher-than-expected second-quarter vehicle deliveries, defying plummeting sales in the wider auto industry as the coronavirus pandemic slammed the global economy.

“We believe that the question to be considered is not whether the stock is expensive on current valuation measures, but what the company’s growth and competitive position signal about the stock’s potential for the next several years,” JMP Securities analyst Joseph Osha wrote in a client note. Tesla’s annual sales could hit $100 billion by 2025, he predicted. (For comparison, Toyota’s annual revenue is $275 billion, GM’s is $137 billion and Ford’s is $156 billion.)

JPMorgan, which rates Tesla “underweight,” raised its price target to $295 from $275, while Deutsche Bank upped its target to $1,000 from $900. The median analyst price target for Tesla is $675, compared with its current share price of $1,372, according to Refinitiv.

Tesla’s solid delivery numbers heightened expectations of a profitable second quarter, which would mark the first time in Tesla’s history that it would report four consecutive quarters of profit.

However, with Tesla’s stock up nearly 500% over the past year, many investors believe the rally is unsustainable. The stock is trading at 158 times expected earnings, according to Refinitiv, an exceptionally high valuation.

Following Monday’s surge, Tesla’s market capitalization stood at $245 billion, growing its lead as the world’s most valuable automaker by that measure.

Source: AutoBlog.com

2021 Jeep Wrangler will get incremental but useful changes

We already know Jeep will induct a plug-in hybrid Wranger 4xe into the lineup next year, at the same time as the 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder with eTorque retires from the lineup. Mopar Insiders received word from “dealer sources” on a few more revisions headed to the lineup that bring small mechanical and equipment upgrades to a number of trims. For most Wranglers, the Snazzberry concept color that debuted on the Gladiator High Altitude at the Chicago Motor Show gets added to the palette, as does Hydro Blue. They’ll both be late availability, so even though dealers are now taking orders for 2021 Wrangler, the two hues might not show for a while.

Starting at the low end, the Wrangler Sport S comes standard next year with the Technology Group, currently a $995 option. The tech package adds a seven-inch TFT screen in the gauge cluster, the seven-inch Uconnect touchscreen with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, climate control with air filtering, and a one-year subscription to SiriusXM. All Wranglers with the seven-inch Uconnect screen will also get Selectable Tire-Fill Alerts (STFA). When airing up the tires, the STFA honks the horn to let the compressor operator know the tire is at the correct air pressure, and honks three times if the air line gets pulled when pressure is too low or too high.

Snazzberry, left, and Hydro Blue

Under the skin, the Sport S is presently equipped with Jeep’s Command-Trac 4×4 system that’s permanently in all-wheel drive mode. Next year, buyers will be able to upgrade to the Selec-Trac 4×4 unit that’s an option on the Sahara and Sahara Altitude, and automatically switches between two- and four-wheel drive depending on traction needs. Above that, MI says the Rock-Trac 4×4 system exclusive to the Rubicon trim will gain the 2WD/4WD switchability from the Selec-Trac 4×4 system.

The Rubicon picks up more welcome tech from the Sahara in the form of the Forward Facing Camera in the middle of the grille that projects an image of what’s in front of the vehicle on the infotainment screen. From the Gladiator, the Rubicon borrows the Off-Road+, a push-button feature that adjusts throttle response, shift points, and traction control activation during 4L maneuvers like rock crawling, during 4H maneuvers like sand running, and can let the Jeep stay in 4H at higher speeds. 

Depending on the consistency of FCA factory operations as automakers try to ramp up production, the 2021 Wrangler is expected to enter production on August 10.

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Source: AutoBlog.com

Ultra-rare 1967 L88 could become the most expensive Chevrolet Corvette sold at auction

Chevrolet made only 20 examples of the Corvette with the high-performance, track-ready L88 package in 1967. What’s presented as the best example left could become the most expensive Corvette ever sold at an auction.

In Corvette-speak, L88 corresponds to an option package that bundled a 427-cubic-inch V8 engine in the vicinity of 530 horses. The V8 received aluminum cylinder heads and a single Holley four-barrel carburetor, among other modifications. Ticking the L88 box also deleted the radio, the heater, and the fan shroud to save weight. Chevrolet charged $947 for the package, which represents about $7,300 in 2020.

216 cars were built with the L88 package, but only 20 of them were manufactured in 1967, the first year Chevrolet offered this option. Wearing serial number 21550, this convertible example also happens to be the last 1967 Corvette built. Cliff Gottlob, an engineer in Kansas, purchased it new and later drove it to Daytona (a 1,636-mile trip) to compete in the 24-hour race with friends and family members helping him in the pits. He took second place in the GT category (and 11th overall) in 1970 before packing up his tools and driving the Corvette home to Kansas. Stephen Cox’s book “Against All Odds” tells the tale of Gottlob’s Daytona adventure in colorful details.

Gottlob continued racing his L88 until 1975, and he sold it to Jim Krughoff and David Burroughs three years later. They gave it a complete restoration but kept as many of the original parts as possible; even the V8 is original to the car. The sale includes a second L88 engine that has been fully rebuilt in case the buyer wants to avoid putting miles on the original V8. All of the people that have added this Corvette to their collection over the years have recognized its significance, which adds credibility to auction house Mecum’s claim that it’s the ultimate L88. It’s one of the few Corvettes ever invited to bask on the lawn at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

Mecum has opened bidding, and the Corvette is up to $150,000 as of writing. It still has a long way to go; the pre-auction estimate is anywhere between $4 million and $5 million. While that’s a massive amount of money to pay for a classic Corvette, looking at previous L88 sales suggests the estimate is accurate. Barrett-Jackson sold a red-on-red 1967 coupe (which was presented as being “the best of the best”) for $3.85 million in 2014, and it still stands out as the most expensive Corvette ever sold at an auction. The second, third, and fourth spots are occupied by L88s, too, while the fifth most-expensive Corvette is a Pininfarina-bodied 1963 concept car.

In addition to the spare engine, the sale includes a thick stack of documents like the original window sticker, the dealer invoice, and the factory ID card. The buyer will also receive images of the car during its racing days.

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Source: AutoBlog.com

Toyota applies to patent indicators for cyberpunk driving maneuvers

At least once a year, Toyota pulls up with a patent application that makes us go, “Oh!” In 2018 the automaker submitted paperwork for what could be considered a flying car or a driveable drone. In 2019, we found a patent app for an in-car fragrance system that can pipe teargas into the vehicle if the car detects an illegitimate engine start. In the running this year, Cybertruck Talk found a filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for novel turn indicators on a vehicle that can drive at an angle (on purpose), drive sideways, such as into a parallel parking spot, and perform a 180-in-place — a la the Rivian “Tank Turn.” The application appears to be part of a trove of Japanese patent filings that Toyota is feeding through the U.S. system, the name of this patent being titled “Vehicle.” But the patent isn’t for a vehicle, it focuses on “a directional indication system” that will let other road or trail users and passers-by know that the car is about to do something unorthodox, like flip its wheels sideways and roll to the curb.

As with the Rivian, the vehicle in the patent app fits a motor for each wheel. Unlike Rivian, the Toyota doesn’t countersteer opposite sides to achieve rotation-in-place. The wheel hubs are mounted on arms that can rotate 180 degrees inside the wheel arch. When the wheels turn, the wheels stick partially out of the wheel well. But with this setup, in the case of steering, for example, during a left turn, the left front wheel would rotate rearward into the wheel arch, the right front wheel would rotate forward into the wheel arch. To rotate in place, the front wheels toe in 45 degrees, the rear wheels toe out 45 degrees. 

Realizing this will make the vehicle look broken to pedestrians or fellow shoppers in the grocery store lot, Toyota’s actually interested in how to let gawkers know to stay out of the way. A potential solution would be eight individual lights on the rear fascia, four on the left and four on the right, acting as traditional taillights in normal circumstances. When the vehicle is about to move sideways to the right, perpendicular to the apparent direction of travel, the eight rear lights would flash from the furthest on the left to the furthest on the right, the same way one sees on an illuminated sign in a construction zone. Additional mooted solutions include turns signals that wrap around the corners of the vehicle, a text display explaining what the vehicle is about to do and illuminated wheel arches, all of which could be accompanied by an audio warning. The Morse code starts to get confusing with oblique travel, making it clear that observers will need to learn how to translate our willy-nilly directional future. 

We suspect there’s as much chance of seeing this any time soon as there is of getting teargassed in a Camry at Whole Foods, but who knows — if Rivians are found to be gathering for choreographed pirouettes all over the trails, Toyota has its answer ready. 

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Source: AutoBlog.com