Honda FC Sport Concept - Car News

It's a design study, which means it doesn't run, but the Honda FC Sport concept shows that the automaker thinks the fuel-cell car and the sports car are not mutually exclusive ideas. There's no interior in the concept, but Honda showed sketches with the driver placed in the center, à la McLaren F1, with two passengers sitting on either side. Although the concept probably has no chance of reaching production, the styling cues could show up on Honda's next sports car.

Keep Reading: Honda FC Sport Concept - Car News


From New Zealand: Hodge Hawk Three-Wheeler Concept

When we hear "New Zealand" we think of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It's highly-unlikely that a car or anything with a motor and a set of wheels will come to mind. Well, Alex Hodge is out to change all that with his latest concept known as the Hodge Hawk.

Alex Hodge designed the Hodge Hawk with the compactness of a motorbike and the practicality of a car. Power comes from a Honda RC51 V-twin 999cc motor that produces 120-hp for the 19-inch front wheel. Top speed comes in at 145 mph.

We highly-doubt that the Hodge Hawk will ever enter production but its car-like front fascia (with headlights and a windshield) may be appreciated if it ever makes it to the road. Alex Hodge describes the Hodge Hawk as being built with the use of carbon fiber and plastic coatings.

Alex Hodge's Hodge Hawk:


Source: WCF


Report: Honda cancels next-gen S2000, V8 program and CR-Z convertible

Tough times in terms of sales and profits are hitting the entire industry hard, but Honda appears to be taking it particularly badly if the latest report from Japan proves true. News of the cancellation of Honda's V8 program, its CR-Z convertible, and perhaps most lamentably, its next-gen S2000 roadster, has emerged today. The report indicates that Honda's drastic reshaping of its future product lineup is being done with an eye to a leaner, greener brand image, according to AutoWeek. These factors would certainly toll the death knell of a planned RWD Acura V8 - possibly a heavily redesigned RL due around 2015, just as the V10-powered NSX has met its demise.

2008 Honda OSM Roadster concept

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Mercedes tries to burst Shuanghuan's tiny Bubble, gives up

Mercedes decided to sue Shuanghuan Automotive for copyright infringement for its Bubble microcar (called the Noble in China), claiming it was a copy of the smart fortwo. BMW then decided to bring its own case against Shuanghuan, citing the Shuanghuan CEO as a blatant facsimile of the BMW X5 (that's the CEO on the wall in the above picture). Mercedes got the Bubble banned from display at a couple of auto shows, BMW won its copyright infringement lawsuit in Munich, and Mercedes sued the Bubble's importer, Martin Motors of Italy, to block sales of the car.

It was all looking good... until BMW lost its case in courts in Munich and in China. The Italian court ruled that "consumers could not get confused" when similar vehicles are offered "with a significant price difference." With BMW cold knocked out in the Copyright Cage Match, Mercedes has been left alone in the octagon with Shuanghuan bearing down on it. It also hasn't helped that Italian commentators have already said they don't think the two cars will be confused.

Now Mercedes is looking for an exit. Martin Motors countersued Mercedes for €100,000,000 - around $134.2 million USD - citing potential lost Bubble sales (that's a lotta Bubbles), and Mercedes doesn't want to lose its case and have to fork over colossal damages. Both sides expect the case to be resolved in a couple of weeks, and Bubbles are expected to go on sale this summer.

[Source: Motor Authority]


MINI E: An American sellout?

MINI E's unveiling

Is the new MINI E sold out? If by "rented through," yes, it looks like you may have missed your opportunity to be a beta tester for BMW's new electric Cooper.

BMW is leasing around 500 of the diminutive hatchbacks at a cost of $850-a-month (including insurance) for one year in the New York/New Jersey metro area as well as Southern California, and according to a new Bloomberg News story, applicants for the program have outnumbered the cars by more than a 4-to-1 ratio, though there is always the possibility that not all of the cars have been doled out yet.

If you're still pondering how you might be able to muscle your way to the front of the queue, be prepared for some changes from your everyday motoring routine. For one, the MINI E's range is limited to 120 miles, at which point you'll have to plug the car into the 220-volt outlet you've had installed in your garage. If you're stuck away from home, you can plug the MINI E into a 110-volt wall outlet, but be prepared to wait-a charge takes about 26 hours (versus around three for the 220-volt outlet). Beyond that, expect for MINI to require you to keep track of your driving experience with a diary and various online surveys.

Despite all of the various hoops to jump through, we're not at all surprised to learn that the opportunity to noiselessly motor about in a zero-emissions Cooper has charmed more than 2000 lease applicants. Given the brand's fanatical (and generally well-heeled) following, we're almost surprised that the number isn't higher. So don't feel bad if you applied for a MINI E of your very own, only to get turned down. Besides, there's always the PML MINI QED...

[Bloomberg News]


Another one bites the dust: Mitsubishi pulls out of Detroit Auto Show

Eight weeks from now, the 2009 Detroit Auto Show will open its doors at Cobo Hall. And... Mitsubishi won't be there. Like a handful of other high-profile manufacturers who have pulled out (including Rolls-Royce, Land Rover, Ferrari, Suzuki, and Porsche), the Japanese automaker based its decision on cost - the market for Mitsubishi automobiles in the Detroit area just isn't significant enough to warrant the expenditure in today's economy. The automaker's move is rather significant as the Detroit show is considered one of the most prestigious in the world. However, skipping the 2009 show doesn't prevent Mitsubishi from coming back in 2010. Regardless of whose left at the show come the second week of January (hey, at least Chinese automaker BYD will exhibit), Autoblog will be there to cover everything in detail.

[Source: Automotive News, subs. req'd]


LA 2008: Mazda takes top honors in Design Challenge

Mazda KAAN concept

It wasn't the number one pick of our readers (earning the silver medal in your voting), but Mazda managed to take the top honors at the LA Design Challenge with its KAAN concept. The design itself is a fanciful look into a future where all the roads in California are paved with... um, sub-level electro-conductive polymer (m'kay), which provides juice to the electronic tires that allow the KAAN to reach speeds of up to 250 mph. Up to 30 KAANs would travel together in formations that would cheat the wind, so MAZDA designed the vehicles so that they could fit tightly together in the peloton.

The theme of the competition was to depict what motorsports would be like in 2025. Chuck Pelly, director of Design Los Angeles, said that the choice was made because Mazda's entry was "the most innovative and artistic design," and that the KAAN "ultimately brought unique styling back to motorsports." Unique? That seems like a major understatement to us. See all of the contenders after the break

Gallery: 2008 LA Design Challenge: Mazda Kaan

[Source: LA Auto Show]