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Another Tesla Model S involved in a traffic crash caught fire near Smyrna, Tenn., on Wednesday after an apparent strike by road debris — the third such report in six weeks. As with the previous two cases, the news sparked a reaction from investors, who sent Tesla shares plunging, and Tesla itself, which said no one was injured and that it was investigating the cause.
But this latest incident does raise a troubling comparison for Tesla's 19,000 Model S owners: Even though it has fewer electric cars on the road than its competitors, none have reported similar fires after crashes. And while liquid-fueled vehicles suffer about 170,000 such fires every year, federal data show they take place in only 0.1 percent of all crashes.
"To have one instance of fire from road debris is a fluke," said Clarence Ditlow, director of the Washington-based Center for Auto Safety. "To have two road debris fires in a vehicle population that small is highly unusual."Read More »from Third Tesla Model S fire raises fresh questions, NHTSA query
It's easy to look at pictures like this one of Art Arfons and his jet-powered Green Monster on the Bonneville Salt Flats and imagine there's some high-dollar engineering and technical work that went into pushing to 500 mph and beyond. What it doesn't show was that Arfons was the ultimate shade-tree mechanic, an Akron, Ohio, gearhead who started building drag racers so powerful they got him banned from sanctioned events, and who managed to scrounge jet engines the U.S. Air Force considered worthless. On this date in 1965, Arfons topped 576 mph, a record he would never beat. Hear his secret to getting a broken turbine running for not much money:Read More »from November 7: Art Arfons sets a 576-mph speed record on this date in 1965
Rick2E doesn't have much info about this sketch of a concept car, aside from a guess that it's an Alfa Romeo and perhaps from the '50s; I'd say it could have come from a number of different eras. Put your guess about what it could have been, and as always, if you have a shot to share, add it to the Motoramic group on Flickr, or send us a message via Twitter, Facebook and Google+.Read More »from The mystery sketch: Flickr photo of the day
Disappointed with the performance of his Winston, engineer James Ward Packard wrote to the Cleveland firm in 1898 with a set of complaints and suggestions. When Alexander Winton rebuffed those ideas and told Packard to build his own car instead, he did — and on this date in 1899, the first Packard Model A rolled through the streets of Warren, Ohio. Packard would use his skills to launch the Packard name as an American builder of luxury cars every bit the equal to Britain's Rolls-Royce, and survived in the shadow of Detroit's automakers until the 1950s. Packard's name wasn't built on opulent luxury alone; when you turn the steering wheel in your car today, you can thank James Packard for coming up with the idea:Read More »from November 6: James Packard drives the first Packard on this date in 1899
In the least surprising announcement of the month, Jaguar revealed its plans today for the long-expected coupe version of the F-Type roadster that won plaudits in our Car of the Year contest and elsewhere. We'll see more of the car at this month's Los Angeles auto show, with deliveries to American buyers by spring of 2014. Ladies and gentlemen, start your checkbooks.
No auto show produces more oddball concept cars than the biennial Tokyo Motor Show, and with this year's event a matter of days away, Japanese automakers have begun teasing their wildest ideas. Even before the doors open, Toyota has made a strong bid for the crown of strangest wheeled conveyance with this, a vehicle that an owner would ride like a horse — and bond with as well.Read More »from Toyota’s FV2 Concept, a four-wheel Segway that wants to be your pal
Today we mark that fateful fictional moment in 1955 when Dr. Emmet Lathrop Brown fell while hanging a clock in his bathroom, knocking himself unconscious but spurring the dream of a time travel device that he would build 30 years later for Marty McFly to travel back in time, turning the Twin Pines Mall into the Lone Pine Mall and making out with his own mother. Around the Internet you'll see various celebrations of "Back to the Future Day;" I'll only note that no car has ever achieved such lasting fame from a movie as the DeLorean did from Doc Brown's modifications:Read More »from November 5: Marty McFly goes “Back to the Future” on this date in 1955
Despite the best work of thousands of inventors around the globe, and a vision of every sci-fi movie, true flying cars have never caught on for a multitude of engineering, safety and practical reasons. So it's worth noting when a Slovakian designer reveals a new take on the idea that avoids one of the great pitfalls facing any such project: At least it looks good.
Called Aeromobil, the car was created by Slovakian engineer Stefan Klein, who's background includes work for Audi and BMW. Based on the outlines of a single-engine plane, the Aeromobil version 2.5 draws power from a 100-hp Rotax airplane engine, and can travel 430 miles on a load of fuel in the air or 310 miles on the ground. When not in use, the carbon-fiber wings fold solidly behind the two-person cockpit, disengaging the rear propeller.
Klein says he's refined his idea for nearly two decades, and expects version 3.0 of the Aeromobil could be a production-ready version. Yet as the video below shows, driving the AeromobilRead More »from Aeromobil flying car goes from road to runway in style
True style takes confidence. You can't hit the street in flashy fashion if you're afraid of people looking and judging — a truth that applies as much to metal clothes as fabric ones. Whatever Lexus may lack in status among gearheads, the new Lexus RC coupe that will roll into the Tokyo Motor Show later this month demonstrates that the Japanese automaker has an abundance of confidence in its new style.Read More »from Lexus RC coupe gets Tokyo release, two-door style
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