Sunday, July 05, 2015

Automotive Reporter/Biz News for Wk of 7-6-15

Can you believe it—it’s been 20-years since Congress repealed the 55-mph National Maximum Speed Law. For you kids born since 1995, way back in the olden days, the Guvment thought it best to keep throttles reined-in to 55 on the highway—you know, to save gas, and for safety reasons. They imposed the double-nickel in the 1970’s in the midst of an oil embargo crisis.

I know few people who drove 55. Sammy Hagar had a hit record about that in the ‘80’s, “I Can’t Drive 55.” Now, an assistant Transportation Professor at the University of Texas is suggesting better-engineered cars and roads are sufficient justification for raising the speed limit even higher.

Pro. Stephen Boyles’ research indicates few drivers adhere to posted speed limits, and says, "in fact, the greater discrepancy between slower and faster drivers is often more dangerous."  Boyles points to data from the Federal Highway Administration, the National Cooperative Highway Research Program and the Institute of Transportation Engineers which indicates speed limits should be set at the 85th percentile of traffic speed. In other words, only about 1 out of 7 cars should be driving faster than the speed limit. 

“Any more than that and the speed limit should be raised,” Boyles says. “Speed limits should conform to drivers, not the other way around,” he says.

You can get from Houston to Dallas in record time with the posted 75-mph speed limit that kicks in from just north of Huntsville to the Ennis. My experience has seen drivers typically exceed the posted limit by at least 10-mph. The trip is about 240-miles, with 130-miles with the higher speed zone.That’s about the distance from Franklin to Memphis, Tennessee.  

The 28th Annual International Z-Car Convention, or Z-con, is slated for Friday, July 17, and Nissan wants to know how many of you want to drive the NISMO Road Trip to get there. Nissan Employees and VIP’s are making the trek from company HQ in Franklin to a Beale Street suarez in downtown Memphis. Sounds like a perfect excuse for a three-day weekend, starting Friday morning at 8am, the road rally…er, trip, commences at 9am. 

Nissan promises lots of tantalizing revelations in Memphis, including the entire NISMO product lineup, a 2009 40th anniversary Z-car, an original 240Z, plus the all-new 2016 Nissan Maxima and 2016 Nissan TITAN XD. The feature car of the drive will be the late Yutaka Katayama's ("Mr. K's") last-ever U.S. Nissan lease vehicle, a 1974 260Z 2+2, customized by the factory with a full-metal, retractable sunroof.
Eau my.

Wanna go? To RSVP, participants are asked to tweet the hashtag  #NISMORoadTrip to help organizers provide an estimate of the number attending. And I know what you’re thinking…It’s about 775-miles from Houston to Franklin. Some of that at more than 70-mph (wink, wink).

Best way to create value: Limit Production. Dodge’s factory-built Challenger Drag Pak is only going to run about 60-units. Subaru is using a similar tactic with a Hyper Blue edition of its popular WRX STI and BRZ high performance cars. 

The Hyper Blue WRX STI will boast a 305-hp 2.5-liter turbocharged and intercooled Boxer engine, with Symmetrical All-wheel Drive. Brembo brakes lurk behind 18-inch BBS black-alloy rims. Subaru says it’s only going to make 700 of these special edition WRX’s.

The BRZ is powered by a 200-hp 2.0-liter Boxer engine, allowing it to retain its ultra-low profile. The Hyper Blue motif includes the exclusive paint scheme, with color-keyed leather seat bolsters and head restraints. Blue stitching accents the seats and the blue and black leather-wrapped steering wheel, as well as the shift lever boot and leather-wrapped parking brake handle. 

The blue theme also carries to the center console kneepads and door trim, accented by an embroidered silver BRZ logo on the front seatbacks. Carpeted floor mats also pick up the BRZ logo and blue stitching. BRZ gets a rear view camera as a standard item this year. Subaru is going to build only 500 of the Hyper Blue BRZ’s.
Pricing on both vehicles will be released later this year.

Mazda’s ugly little secret about its fourth-gen Miata is out: There will be no Mazdaspeed version of the MX-5.
Dry your eyes. 
MX-5 Program Manager, Nohiro Yamamoto, tells Top the newest edition of the drop top two seater doesn’t need any performance boost.

"It's important not to get hung up on numbers," Yamamoto-san told Top Gear. "Not on power, or torque,” he said. “No, what is more important is the feeling. The driving experience and feeling is more important than power. In my mind it just has to be fun to drive," Yamamoto said.

When asked whether his team had ever—or ever would consider adding a turbo to the Miata, Yamamoto responded that it went against the spirit of the roadster. "I never considered using a turbo," he told Top Gear, "because naturally aspirated engines are just nice, especially for this kind of car.”

The newest edition ND Miata will be smaller and lighter than its NC and NB brethren, and closer in size to the original NA Miata. 

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