Behold the Ferrari FXX K, a car built to test aerodynamic elements and new hybrid technology.
Fast Lane The Ferrari FXX K is built to test aerodynamic elements and hybrid technology. -- PHOTO: FERRARI

FERRARI WITH NEW TECHNOLOGY

Behold the Ferrari FXX K, a car built to test aerodynamic elements and new hybrid technology. Besides Ferrari test-drivers and engineers, the car will also be made available to a select group of clients over the next two years.

The car has a total power output of about 1,050bhp (860 from its 6,262cc V12 and 190 from its electric motor) and more than 900Nm of torque. The car's exhaust system has no silencer, so you can imagine how loud it will be at full throttle. Drivers can choose from four driving modes: Qualify, for maximum performance within a limited number of laps; Long Run to optimise performance consistency; Manual Boost for instant maximum torque delivery; and Fast Charge, for a fast recharge of the car's battery.

MILLION-DOLLAR LAND ROVER


Land Rover is testing the $1-million sticker price limit. With the Range Rover Autobiography Long-Wheelbase, unveiled at Wearnes Automotive's showroom on Monday, the Indian- owned British marque is already expecting cheques of around $800,000. But if customers want a fully decked-out car in Black Edition trim and configuration, the bill may hit the seven-digit level.

The stretched Range Rover is 198mm longer than the standard variant between the wheels. At 3,120mm, its wheelbase is longer than the Mercedes-Benz S-class long-wheelbase. With its imposing height and 21-inch wheels (which can be upsized to 22), the car looks twice as big as the S-class.

Despite its increased dimensions, the Range Rover Autobiography Long-Wheelbase is merely 80kg heavier than the standard wheelbase variant. And miraculously, it consumes the same amount of fuel.

FORD BUILDS EUROPEAN HYBRID ELECTRIC CAR


Ford has started production of its all-new Mondeo Hybrid, the first hybrid electric car built and sold by Ford in Europe.

The Mondeo Hybrid combines a 2-litre petrol engine with an electric motor and 1.4kWh lithium- ion battery for an unbelievable fuel economy of 4.2 litres/100km.

Alas, the thrifty American sedan may not come to Singapore because of the low sales volumes expected.

DIESEL FROM AIR AND WATER

It is not quite turning water into wine, but Audi is working hard on a pilot plant in Dresden, Germany, to make diesel from water, CO2 and electricity. The so-called sunfire plant, which operates according to the power-to-liquid principle, extracts carbon dioxide directly from the air using a technology developed by Swiss partner Climeworks.

In a separate process, an electrolysis unit powered with green electricity splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is then reacted with the carbon dioxide in two chemical processes conducted at 220 deg C and a pressure of 25 bar to produce an "energetic liquid", made up of hydrocarbon compounds, which is called Blue Crude. This process is up to 70 per cent efficient.

As currently built, the plant can produce about 160 litres of Blue Crude a day. Nearly 80 per cent of that can be converted into synthetic diesel. This fuel - Audi e-diesel - is free of sulphur and aromatics. It also has a high cetane number, which means that it ignites very easily.

Its chemical properties allow it to be blended in any ratio with fossil diesel. This means that it can be used as a drop-in fuel. It sounds like a lot of trouble, but if the oil wells of the world dry up, Blue Crude could be automotive manna from heaven.

NEW ENTRY-LEVEL OPEL


Opel has unveiled a new entry-level model. The 3.7m Viva, available in 10 colours and a variety of 14- to 16-inch wheels, is powered by a 1-litre three-cylinder Ecotec engine producing 74bhp. It is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox, so the likelihood of it appearing in Singapore is slim unless Opel makes an automatic version down the road.

Like its stablemates Adam and Corsa, the Viva offers an IntelliLink infotainment system, which allows integration of Apple iOS and Android devices. It is also equipped with electronic stability program, with options such as lane departure warning.

SPYKER FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY

Dutch sports car maker Spyker has filed for bankruptcy, reported Reuter. Formed in 2000 to resurrect an early 20th-century Dutch brand, the company has had a bumpy ride since.

Earlier this year, a United States court dismissed the company's US$3-billion (S$3.9-billion) lawsuit against General Motors.

Spyker had accused GM of derailing its plan to sell Saab to a different Chinese buyer from the one that subsequently bought it.

Last month, a Dutch court ordered it to leave its factory in the Netherlands after it fell €125,000 into arrears on its rent.

NO GO FOR UBER IN VIETNAM

Car-booking company Uber faces a roadblock in Vietnam after the government said its taxi service is illegal.

The mobile application-based service has no legitimacy to operate as a cab provider, the Vietnamese government said on its website, citing the country’s Deputy Transport Minister Nguyen Hong Truong.

The government’s decision came after the Ho Chi Minh City Taxi Business Association complained about Uber’s cab operations.

It is not clear when Uber, which officially started operating there on July 31, has to cease operations.

The setback in Vietnam is the latest for the San Francisco-based company in South-east Asia, after Thailand said it will fine drivers using private cars to provide commercial services and warned users against the app.

Elsewhere, Germany has banned it amid complaints about unfair competition and lack of customer safety, the Norwegian city of Oslo reported the company to the police for lacking permits to operate, and Toronto has also asked a court to shut it down, according to Bloomberg.

REVAMPED CAMRY OUT SOON


Toyota will soon launch a facelift of its popular Camry sedan. Besides the usual cosmetic changes (which will be more extensive this time round), the car is said to have a new 2-litre highcompression engine mated to a new six-speed autobox. This will bring the executive sedan to the same level as its Europen rivals.

Toyota agent Borneo Motors, however, says it has not received official word on the new model.

RENAULT-NISSAN LEADS IN ZERO-EXHAUST CARS

The Renault-Nissan Alliance has sold its 200,000th electric vehicle (EV) and has a leading 58 per cent market share for zero-exhaust cars. Together, Renault and Nissan EVs have driven approximately four billion “green” kilometres – enough to circle the earth 100,000 times.

Renault-Nissan EVs represent 200 million litres of fuel saved, enough to fill about 80 Olympic-sized swimming pools. The EVs also represent 450 million kg of CO2 that has not been emitted while driving.

MORE BMW PLUG-IN HYBRIDS

German premium car maker BMW aims to ramp up its line-up of plug-in hybrids. It will next present a plug-in prototype of the 3-series. Over the long term, it plans to offer plug-in hybrid versions of all its core-brand models. The 3-series plug-in hybrid prototype combines a Twin Power turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor.