The Truth About Cars » spy shots The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 16 Jul 2014 16:33:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » spy shots Hamster Heart, Electric Soul Tue, 12 Nov 2013 13:00:22 +0000 Kia Soul EV

If you’re into EVs but find theTesla Model S too expensive, and the Leaf too jelly bean, then Kia would like to offer you something with a bit of soul. An electric Soul, that is.

The Soul EV will be the first EV sold outside of South Korea, with experience gained from the development and limited introduction of the Ray EV to government and rental fleets in their native market. Though no specific date has been set for the Soul EV’s North American rollout, Kia says to expect the electric hamstermobile to arrive in showrooms sometime in the second half of 2014, possibly bearing a 2015 model year designation.

If you’re lucky enough to be introduced to the Soul EV next year, expect drive away in a vehicle made for the city without looking like an electric wizard. Under the hood will be an electric motor pushing 109 horses out through the front door while providing 210 square-pounds of Whole Foods Market-pulling torque. Zero to 60 takes about 12 seconds, and you’ll be able to go back to the future with the Soul EV’s top speed of 90 mph.

The Soul EV will utilize what Kia calls the Virtual Engine Sound System, or VESS. At 12 mph or less, or while backing out with those organic goodies, the VESS will emit an audio alert of some sort to warn those hipsters to move out of your way in an ironic manner.

As for range and charging, the Soul EV is definitely meant for commuting to and from the hip neighborhood you call a home, with a target range of 120 miles per charge. While putting in your time at that awesome startup that will revolutionize the way you play with running vicious candy farmers, the Soul’s 27 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack will take five hours to charge on a standard 240v outlet, or 25 minutes on fast-charging through a 100 kW outlet.

Finally, the Soul EV is not only eco-conscious on the road, but is totally granola on the inside as well: the materials used are composed of biomass, from the foam in the seats to the dashboard holding the instrument cluster and 8-inch display.

The price of admission to feel like an electric hamster? Unknown as of this time, though word on the street is that it might be sold for around $35,000 on our shores. Like the Fiat 500e, this is strictly a compliance car meant to appease regulators. Hyundai’s corporate direction for ZEVs will be based around fuel cells, not electric vehicles.

In the meantime, enjoy this brief spy shot gallery with some bonus meta-commentary on the idea of “exclusivity.”

Soul EV Spy Shot 01 Soul EV Spy Shot 02 Soul EV Spy Shot 03 ]]> 16
Spy Shots: A New Scion Sedan? Sat, 02 Nov 2013 05:05:07 +0000 IMG_20131101_101528

Many automotive companies test cars and components for resistance to radio frequency interference not far from where I live in suburban Detroit. There are a number of radio and television broadcast antennas in the area, so it’s not uncommon to see camouflaged preproduction cars driving in the neighborhood or parked in the shadow of one of the radio or tv towers.


I was running over to my ex’s to give my younger daughter a ride to her teaching job, when I spotted this car. The driver was concerned about getting into trouble so I told him that I’d obscure his face, but I suppose he was a bit freaked out that I knew what he was doing there because he pulled away and drove around the corner. My first guess, based on the shape of the headlamp units is that it’s a sedan version of the Scion xD, which is currently sold here as a five-door (Toyota has a large R&D center in Ann Arbor and a technical center in Plymouth), though it doesn’t necessarily have to be a car intended for the U.S. continent.


Automotive suppliers with R&D facilities in southeastern Michigan will sometimes test foreign market cars in the same neighborhood. What do you think it is?

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2014 Volvo Facelifts See The Light Of Day Thu, 24 Jan 2013 16:30:20 +0000

Volvo’s XC90 may be the oldest Volvo on sale but is it the Swede gettin’ some facelift-love? Nej. Swedish spy photographers over at Teknikens Värld have snapped some shots of the mid-sized S60 being refreshed for 2014. Want to know what they said without grabbing a babel fish? Click past the jump and see how much I remember from my high school Swedish lessons.

Although it’s only four years old the S60 is getting its first facelift. The new sedan will carry the new corporate grille that Volvo will be rolling our in late 2013 or early 2014 on the S60, S80 and XC60 in America. The Swedish sources tell us to expect a wider grille (the same one seen in the Chinese spy photos) with revised LED accent lights and a more aggressive bumper cover. If you click over to the link above you’ll see that Volvo hasn’t covered up the rear of the S60 meaning we shouldn’t expect the same BMW/Lexus aping trapezoidal tail pipes the 2014 S80 is supposedly getting.

Inside the changes seem limited to swapping the corporate gauge cluster used since the 2007 S80 for the new LCD heavy unit found in the Euro-only V40 wagon. The new unit looks inspired by Ford with a large central LCD for the speedometer and two smaller LCDs for other gauge functions.

Teknikens Värld says not to expect anything new under the hood, but they do expect to see some infotainment tweaks and some new active headlamp technologies. (Which I’m sure will never make it to America.) Want to know more? Wait for the Geneva Motor Show.

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Suzuki Death Watch 2: Brand Recognition And Spy Shots From Spain Wed, 18 Jul 2012 14:22:46 +0000

Yesterday, a whirlwind of spy shots uncovered what looks to be the SX4 replacement Suzuki will start shipping to lots later this year. So far, observations of the new pint-sized every man rally car look promising, including possible turbo power and a handsome, if unremarkable, interior. But, will it be enough to satiate the appetite of Anglo American tastes? Or does American Suzuki need to focus more on the brand image train?

Up until this point, we were of the belief the SX4 would receive a facelift versus a full model replacement for the 2013 model year. However, as the auto photogs have revealed, there seem to be some major dimensional changes between the camo car and the current model. Underneath the auto burka are some Kizashi like styling features, such as a revised grille and new headlamps, and what might possibly be an intercooler behind the lower grille.

But, if NPR’s Sonari Glinton’s street corner survey is any indication of the market, a new SX4 isn’t going to matter. After asking a few people in Ann Arbor, MI to name all the Japanese brands available in the US, the results were not surprising for the majority of us:

KATHY KENNEDY: OK. Toyota, Honda – that’s all that comes to mind.

JAMES HAMILTON: Oh, pretty much. Yeah. Toyota, Hyundai, Miata, Mazda, Lexus.

EILEEN KNEIPER: Toyota, Nissan, Honda. I think that’s it.

In an industry where reputation and image are everything, American Suzuki is hiding from the camera. Before any new product gives Suzuki the increase in sales it needs in order to sustain business in the United States and Canada, a major overhaul of their marketing is needed (like hiring someone to actually do marketing), focusing on the brand instead of this month’s incentives, so people know that Suzuki still exists.

Hear the lack of outcry? That’s the deafening silence of a brand’s once-loyal customers not caring enough to speak up.

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Now YOU Can Be A Spy Shot Paparazzo (No Prior Knowledge Required) Fri, 14 May 2010 12:07:08 +0000

Hunting prototypes for spyshots can be a frustrating and (if done in Finland) frosty affair. Carmakers are taking extreme measures to ward off paparazzi. Carmakers camouflage their prototypes (see video.) This doesn’t faze bloggers. Bloggers found a way to catch future cars in the comfort of their own home or office: From a ragtop Panamera in egmcartech to a similarly topless Mercedes AMG SLS in Topspeed, no future car is safe from bloggers anymore, even before the first prototype is built.  Understandably, the Chinese are highly interested in the technique. You can learn it in a few minutes. What is the secret?

Patented Panamera ragtop. Picture courtesy

Patent applications.  Bloggers and industrial spies mine patent applications for future car designs. Contrary to popular belief and public whining, there is no automatic copyright on car designs. As long as someone else doesn’t blatantly copy the design 1:1, it’s fair game. Design patents offer some protection.

However, here is the hitch: The designs must be filed. In public. Accompanied by drawings. How could one protect a design, without a drawing enclosed with the patent application? Unfair? As Wikipedia explains it in layperson’s terms: With a patent, “an inventor is granted a monopoly for a given period of time in exchange for the inventor disclosing to the public how to make or practice his or her invention.”

There is no camouflaging in these drawings. Au contraire: The novel aspects of the design must be clearly discernible. Otherwise: No patent.

In China, the matter gets even trickier. Very much contrary to popular belief, there is a fully functioning patent system in China, patents are being enforced. If they have been filed. Filed in China, not elsewhere. A lot of whining about “intellectual property robbery” comes from a lack of understanding of the Chinese patent system.

Patented AMG SLS ragtop. Picture courtesy

Highly misunderstood: China, unlike the United States and most other countries, follows the first-to-file doctrine. If a patent application is filed for the same innovation, the first to file will get the patent. You snooze, you lose.

It gets even dicier: In the United States, you can “publicly disclose” (use, talk about, advertise) an innovation, and then you have a full year to file your patent application at your leisure. In China, public disclosure before filing in China pretty much assures that you will not get the patent. You must file the patent before disclosure.

Up until quite recently, it was relatively easy for someone else to file in China for a patent that had already been granted to someone in another jurisdiction, say in the United States. If you filed for a patent in the U.S., but forgot to file in China, someone else could easily get a utility, or design patent in China. The patent holder could then use this patent to prevent others, including the original patent holder, from producing or selling the product in China. Howling ensued each time that happened, but it‘s the law. Well, it was.

Patented Traverse. Picture courtesy

Effective on October 1, 2009, this loophole was closed. Under the amended patent law, an invention loses its novelty in China if it has been before publicly disclosed in the world. If it’s not novel, it can’t be patented. Neither by someone else, nor by yourself. Patent lawyers advise to file a Chinese patent application before there is any disclosure of the invention anywhere else. Now isn’t that counter-intuitive? You invent something in the U.S.A., and the first patent you apply for is in China? If you don’t want to get ripped off, yes. As a side effect, China receives prior knowledge of anything you think the Chinese shouldn’t copy, but them’s the rules.

Companies that ignore or misunderstand these differences (the above is a very condensed version, more for a hefty fee,) complain loudly about IP theft and routinely lose in Chinese courts. Companies that understand the system successfully file patents in China and usually win the case. Maybe. Anyway, they have a fighting chance.

A design patent in China is much like a design patent in the United States, or elsewhere. It protects “any new design of the shape, pattern, color, or their combination, of a product, which creates an aesthetic feeling and is fit for industrial application.” Just like elsewhere, the realistic protection from a Chinese design patent is limited. There is a huge grey zone between patent infringement and inspiration. A design patent in China provides protection for ten years. And at the very least, it prevents third parties from copying body parts of the car for use in the after sale market. There are voices that want to kill design protection for repair parts. The voices are not from China. They are from Brussels. Horrors! The House of Representatives blatantly copied the EU ideas! Someone call a lawyer.

Back to the bloggers: A side effect of the above is that many advanced designs appear first in patent applications. Such as the drawings for the new Buick Excelle, which a few days ago were confirmed by my new Beijing buddy TheTycho who found a new Buick Excelle sloppily parked on the proverbial grassy knoll.

He used the same technique to root out the design of the new Chevy Traverse. The heavy lifting was done by the Chinese site Bitauto, which must have a permanent correspondent at China’s State Intellectual Property Office (“SIPO”.) The new Traverse should be on sale in China by the end of the year. Good news for the UAW local in Lansing, Michigan: The Traverse will be exported to China. And because it’s a patented design, it can’t be easily ripped off. At least in theory.

However, everybody can be a spy shot paparazzo these days. Just sift through the files.

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TTAC Spy Shots: BMW 3-Series Facelift Fri, 05 Mar 2010 13:40:54 +0000

We’ve seen photos of the refreshed BMW 3-Series coupe and convertible, but shots of the sedan have proven somewhat more elusive. Luckily TTAC has eyes everywhere. Commenter dinu01 spied this updated 3-Series testing near Toronto. “Both front and rear emblems are taped,” he reports. “The driver did not want to be photographed and went between 150-160 km/h.” Have a spy shot of your own? Share it with our contact form, and we’ll share it with TTAC’s readers.

3series1 3series2 BMW 3-Series Facelift (courtesy TTAC commenter dinu01) Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]> 14
The MetaCars Week In Review Sun, 07 Feb 2010 23:12:01 +0000

Company No One’s Ever Heard of To Tune Exotic Car With Ugly Body Kit and Ostensibly More Horsepower

A company that no one’s ever heard of, but which claims to have 40 years of experience tuning the most exotic sports cars, plans to tune an extremely expensive, high tech exotic sports car with an ugly body kit and theoretically additional horsepower. While the original car’s engine was developed on the Formula 1 racetrack after hours and hours of race testing, and the body was honed in a wind tunnel and then refined on the same F1 track, the tuner company actually knows better.

“You see, we do what the manufacturer of that $500,000 exotic car was unable to do, as a result of limited budgets and engineering restrictions,” said a spokesman for the tuning company. “We know way more than the car’s nerdy original engineers how much horsepower the body can tolerate, and we’ll achieve that horsepower by using a carefully installed supercharger from the eBay.” Additionally, the spokesman told MetaCars, “Carbon fiber is light and really expensive. How could it be wrong to replace body panels on the exotic sports car with carbon fiber. One step: lighter, just as strong. Must make it better.”

In announcing that it will be tuning this particular high-end exotic sports car, he tuning company joins the ranks of the legendary Wald, Gemballa, Ruf, Brabus, Lorinser, Carlsson, Alpina, Novitec Rosso, Hamann, Koenig, Wimmer, and Edo Competition, all of whom have said they too have tuned it already. The car goes on sale from the manufacturer next year. The tuning company says its work will cost $200,000 in addition to a donor car. They also ask us to point out that the photos included here, which came with their press kit, are photoshops.

Economists: Toyota May Need 2 Entire Months to Be Beating the Crap Out of Everyone Else in Sales Again

Toyota may take as many as two months to regain its posture of beating the crap out of everyone else in sales again, according to Nobel Laureate in Economics Doug Gilmour.

“We’re projecting up to eight weeks where crazy incentives from competitors, Toyota’s sales hiatus, and some cautious people shopping elsewhere,” said Gilmour. “After that though, Toyota will resume its posture of just selling shit tons of cars.”

Gilmour was inconclusive whether this two month period where Toyota looks vulnerable will actually be the end of the world. “It’s tough to say. We survived the Large Hadron Collider, so I suspect we’ll get past ToyotaPedalScandalGate.”

Area Man Plans to Buy Next Dodge Charger Now that He’s Seen Partial Interior Spy Shot

A local man plans to buy the next Dodge Charger after having a good look at a spy picture partially showing the upgraded interior.The man, Chris Fryman, 34, says “now that I’ve checked out the inside of the Dodge Charger as they plan to redo it, I’m pretty sure I’ll buy one once my current lease is up. That was the main thing holding me back before. But from what I can see, it’s really hot now.”

This was a fast decision for Fryman, as the spy photo only surfaced today.

While the refreshed car won’t go on sale for another year Fryman tells MetaCars he is sure that the Charger is the one for him. “Well previously I was thinking you know, I should get that new Mustang when the 5.0 V8 comes out. Or maybe the new powerful V6 with the stick.”

UPDATE: Area man now says, having seen the aggressive pricing of the Hyundai Sonata and option of a manual transmission, he is positive he will get that instead of the Charger later this year.

Electric Cars to Cause Extension Cord Shortage, Potato Chip Surplus?

We have to face the incontrovertible truth: every car on the road will be an electric car as of next year. And with that, lots of stuff we don’t even think about now is going to change.

“America is going to experience a severe extension cord crisis in 2011,” says University of Oregon economics professor Bill Neihaus. “At the moment, the going rate for an extension cord might be 10 bucks. But in January 2011, that same extension cord will cost at least 13 chickens.”

Many are forecasting that the domination of electric cars will also mean the death of the potato chip industry. Potato chip lobbyist Sam Woland tells MetaCars that “at present, 99% of potato chips are sold in gas stations. When the gas stations close because everyone has an electric car, those impulse potato chip purchases won’t be made anymore. We’ll become a nation that only eats french fries and baked potatoes.”

Is this all fact? Absurd speculation? One thing’s for sure: it’s all just absurd speculation.

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