Honda, Nissan and Toyota in massive recall
April 11th, 2013
06:32 AM ET

Honda, Nissan and Toyota in massive recall

Japanese automakers Honda, Nissan, Toyota and Mazda are recalling around 3.4 million cars due to airbag defects.

Toyota said it was recalling 1.7 million cars around the world, including some popular Corolla, Matrix and Camry models. Nissan recalled around 480,000 cars, while Mazda added another 45,000.

Honda, which is recalling more than 1.1 million autos, said the recall was necessary to replace passenger front airbag inflators.

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Filed under: Auto Industry • Automobiles
December 18th, 2012
08:48 AM ET

Toyota to pay record fine over safety problems

Toyota Motor has agreed to pay a record $17.4 million to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for safety problems that led to a 2012 recall of some of its Lexus RX350 models, CNNMoney reports.  That's the largest fine allowed by law for a single investigation.

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Ford posts $1.6 billion profit despite big European losses
Ford reported an overall profit of $1.6 billion despite mounting losses in Europe.
October 30th, 2012
08:24 AM ET

Ford posts $1.6 billion profit despite big European losses

Ford Motor reported earnings remained steady from a year ago as strong results at home helped balance out the soaring losses in Europe.

The company lost $468 million in Europe, bringing its losses there so far this year to just over $1 billion. Ford had already warned last week that it stood to lose than $1.5 billion in Europe this year.

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Filed under: Auto Industry • Automobiles
Rocket for supersonic 'hybrid car' passes first test
An artist's rendering from Curventa and Siemens shows the BLOODHOUND SSC.
October 4th, 2012
10:41 AM ET

Rocket for supersonic 'hybrid car' passes first test

The rocket that will help power a 1,000-mph car passed its first test Wednesday, British engineers say.

The project is dubbed Bloodhound SSC. Its organizers plan for the pencil-shaped car to be zooming along the South African desert next year and break the world land speed record of 763 mph.

"The initial indications are that it went very well indeed," the rocket's designer, self-taught engineer Daniel Jubb, 28, told the Western Morning News in Cornwall, England, where the rocket was tested inside a hangar at a Royal Air Force base.

Engineers were looking over reams of data from the test to determine their next steps.

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Filed under: Automobiles • South Africa • Technology • United Kingdom
August 28th, 2012
10:36 AM ET

With accelerator jammed at 120 mph, woman fears imminent death

A police dashcam video shows a dark SUV flying past cars and blowing through construction.

The driver's 911 call tells the rest of the story:  Lauri Ulvestad, utterly terrified, frantically steering a 2011 Kia Sorrento with a jammed accelerator taking it to speeds up to 120 mph.

“I told the dispatcher to tell my family I loved them,” Ulvestad, 47, told CNN.com by phone. “I did not think I was going to make it.”

Ulvestad credits dispatcher Kelly Brieg with keeping her calm and ultimately saving her life.

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Filed under: Auto Industry • Automobiles
August 21st, 2012
12:51 PM ET

Packed SUV flips, killing 5 children on way to Texas water park

Five children, ages 2 to 13, died when an SUV they were riding in blew a tire and crashed on a Texas highway, police said.

A dozen people were packed into the 2003 GMC Envoy on Monday, on the way to a family outing at Splash Kingdom water park in Canton, Texas, according to Trooper Jean Dark of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Driver Federico Acuna lost control when the right rear tire exploded on Interstate 20 just outside Canton in Van Zandt County on Monday afternoon, Dark said. Acuna apparently overcorrected and the vehicle flipped, she said.

None of the children who died was wearing a seat belt, Dark said.

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Debate brews around espresso machines in new Fiat
Fiat shows the Lavazza espresso machine built and docked into a console in the new European model of the Fiat 500L.
July 16th, 2012
11:31 AM ET

Debate brews around espresso machines in new Fiat

Drivers love fancy technology extras packed in their car and Fiat is hoping their latest innovation may be the best yet - one that can save you a trip to your favorite coffee store.

But the car designers new innovative addition to their latest line, due out in Italy in October, is landing them in some hot water with some consumers concerned about it adding to a mounting list of things that distract drivers. However, the car maker says, don't rush to judgement, you can't brew up a cup unless your car is stopped.

Their new crossover model the Fiat 500L boasts a whole range of accessories, but the one drawing the most attention and perhaps concerns, is their built-in espresso machine. That's right. Forget your Starbucks runs, or trying to rush out the door to work with your homemade brew.  Instead, inside your console you'll find a "new coffee machine created in collaboration with Lavazza," considered to be the Starbucks of Italy.

"The 500L is the first standard-production car in the world to offer a true espresso coffee machine that utilises the technology of the 'A Modo Mio' pods," the company said in a press release. "It is perfectly integrated in the car with a deck designed expressly by Fiat."

A video put out by the automaker shows a cartoon character couple debating the choice of having to make a coffee run. But no longer!

"Do you want to take a break while flavouring the best Italian espresso coffee without stepping out of the car? With 500L even this will be possible!" the company touts on its Italian site. 

Passengers can brew on the road, filling the car with the sweet aroma of drink of the tired.

" It will be possible to enjoy ... inside a car the high quality, the unique taste, the body and creaminess of the true Italian espresso," the automaker boasts.

While it is certainly a first-of-its kind offering, the function has been met with a lot of criticism in the U.S. about concerns that drivers don't need another distraction while driving. Most of the focus of distracted driving campaigns have focused on texting, including a new set of public service announcement commercials from AT&T that show the fatal consequences of multitasking while driving.

So, when news of the coffee meets car collaboration hit the Web in the U.S., people on Twitter took the car company to task, noting that while we can't drive while texting in many places, it doesn't seem like a stellar idea to be making scorching hot coffee while taking your car to the road. It was unclear if those criticizing the idea knew the machine only worked while the car was stopped, a detail that was not touted on the car's site or in many media pieces criticizing the idea.

Even TV host Tom Bergeron weighed in on the idea, remarking that the innovative addition may be more dangerous than impressive.

And it prompted responses from others that wondered whether it would lead to lawsuits, similar to the infamous McDonald's scalding hot coffee debacle and concerns from auto blogs and writers about the safety of the innovation.

But the automaker wants to make a few things clear in the wake of the sudden uproar about the espresso machine's safety. They say they've done the testing and they are sure their setup is safe for drivers.

"You can use it only when the car is stopped," Norman Winkler, the communications press officer for Fiat in Europe told CNN. "It's quite tiny and it has a docking station in which it remains locked. The quantity of coffee is much (less) than usual use in the cups in the states. Its espresso, it's very tiny."

And it's not even clear whether those who are outraged in the U.S. will even have to deal with the issue. Jiyan Cadiz, the spokesman for Fiat in the U.S., said it was too soon to say what features might or might not show up in the American model.

"We have not provided any product details at this time," he told CNN. "As we get closer to our own launch of the vehicle we’ll provide feature availability and specs and more context between the Euro cousin and the U.S. model."

May 26th, 2012
05:20 PM ET

What to know about this year's Indy 500

Before the 96th Indianapolis 500 race on Sunday, "Back Home Again in Indiana" will be sung, and by the end, the winning driver will drink his Victory Lane bottle of milk. But superhero-esque cars and an all-female racing team are adding a few changes to the event's storied traditions.

The Brickyard

The Brickyard is the historic nickname for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was built in 1909 as an automobile testing ground to support the state's growing auto industry, according to the event's website. However, the track was soon used for racing purposes.

Today, it remains the world's largest seating facility, with 250,000 permanent seats. The oval itself, which covers 253 acres, can fit Churchill Downs, Yankee Stadium, the Rose Bowl, the Roman Colosseum and Vatican City, according the site.

Originally constructed with crushed rock and tar, 3.2 million paving bricks were laid on top later in 1909, giving rise to the Brickyard nickname, according to the event's website.

Over the years, the brick has been covered with asphalt - except for a 36-inch strip of the original bricks that have remained intact and uncovered at the start/finish line, known as the "Yard of Bricks."

The winning driver and team of the Indy 500 kneel for a tradition started in 1996 of "kissing the bricks."

Girl power

Katherine Legge isn't the first woman to qualify for the Indy 500 - she's actually the ninth ever - but Legge is making the most of her position.

The rookie driver brings an all-female racing team with her to the Indy, the first ever in the history of the race.

She is also sporting a Girl Scouts logo on her helmet and representing STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) as an ambassador.

This year's 'Batmobile' design

For cars that can race at 224 mph, speed, efficiency and safety measures reign supreme. And given the tragic death of two-time Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon in a 15-car crash at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in October, this is the year of safety measures.

Wheldon died when his vehicle became airborne and hit a fence pole. The new design is supposed to prevent cars from becoming airborne. Italian firm Dallara has created the new DW12 chassis, named for Wheldon, who helped test the car before his accident.

Wider cockpits, wheel guards, a smaller engine, vertical wings on the side panels and energy absorption foam have all been added to keep drivers safer on the track, and in the event of an accident.

Sizzling temperatures expected

It's going to be a hot one on Sunday with temperatures expected to reach the low 90s. The humidity could actually be the worst enemy. The event's website has warned spectators to come prepared.

Drinking plenty of water, wearing loose-fitting clothing and wide-brimmed hats or taking shade breaks should help people beat the worst of the heat.

But if all of that still leaves spectators feeling wilted, there are also 78 "misting stations" on the grounds to help cool people down fast.

Nostalgic noshing

Given the heat warning, fans may cut back on some of the track's signature fare, but it won't stop diehards from eating their favorite things.

The Indy Dog, Brickyard Burger, Track fries, bratwurst and elephant ear (fried flat dough with butter, sugar and cinnamon) are all part of the tradition.

But the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich is king at the race. A favorite in the state, it's a bit like schnitzel in a bun.

Are you an Indy 500 fan? Let us know your personal traditions, or how you'll be celebrating in the comments below.

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Filed under: Auto racing • Automobiles • Indiana • Sports • U.S.
Gotta Watch: Cool cars
Gotta Watch is along for the ride with vehicles that fold, fly and swim.
February 16th, 2012
12:11 PM ET

Gotta Watch: Cool cars

"Roads? Where we're going we don't need roads." So said Doc Brown at the end of "Back to the Future" just before he took off into the sky in his famed DeLorean.

The road less traveled or not traveled at all, in some very cool cars, has us talking today. The idea came to us after we saw a piece on a folding car that's perfect for the avid parallel parker. Adjust your mirrors and fasten your seat belts for today's Gotta Watch.

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Folding car

No, it's not a Transformer, but wouldn't it be cool if this electric car from the brains at MIT made that Transformer sound?

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Up, up and away!

Getting from here to there on the street? That's so five minutes ago. Check out this plane-car hybrid for the traveler who wants the best of both worlds.

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Dive and drive

If you prefer mermaids to meter maids, strap on your SCUBA gear for this underwater wonder, which caught our eye back in 2008.

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Filed under: Air travel • Automobiles • Aviation • Technology • Uncategorized
Ahead of the curve: The next 7 days
January 15th, 2012
07:52 PM ET

Ahead of the curve: The next 7 days

Here is a look at some of the stories that CNN plans on covering this week:

Martin Luther King Jr. documents go online

Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, one of 10 national holidays in the United States.

Besides marking the day as a federal holiday for the 26th time, January 16, 2012, begins a new age of online accessibility for those wanting to know more about King and his work.

The King Center Imaging Project, which makes 200,000 of  the civil rights leader's documents quickly accessible online, goes live Monday. King's "I Have a Dream" speech, his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech and his letter from a Birmingham, Alabama, jail are among the documents available.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Non-violent Social Change in Atlanta and JPMorgan Chase & Co., working in partnership with AT&T Business Solutions and EMC, are responsible for the project.

Read a TIME.com history of MLK day

Taking King at his words

The memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. has sparked controversy, and perhaps this is fitting. He was a controversial man whose humanity and words still speak volumes today.

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Filed under: Ahead of the curve • Auctions • Automobiles • Civil Rights • Civil War • Herman Cain • History • Holidays • Human rights • Media • Nobel Peace Prize • Oprah Winfrey • Race • Religion • Showbiz • South Carolina • TV
Gotta Watch: Craziness on the highway
Several supercars were involved in a 14-vehicle pile up along a stretch of the Chugoku highway in western Japan.
December 5th, 2011
11:39 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Craziness on the highway

In what may be one of the most expensive car wrecks in history, 14 high-end luxury cars were demolished in a highway pileup in Japan this weekend. The totaled supercars included eight Ferraris, three Mercedes-Benz cars and a Lamborghini. Today, we decided to take a look back at some of the craziest highway moments.

Multi-million dollar wreck - A group of luxury car enthusiasts were driving on Chugoku Expressway in southwestern Japan when witnesses say one driver skidded out of control and started a chain-reaction crash. Several drivers were hospitalized but no one was seriously injured.

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Filed under: Animals • Auto racing • Automobiles • Georgia • Gotta Watch • Japan • Michigan • Pennsylvania • Race • Thanksgiving • Transportation • Travel • U.S. • Uncategorized
After exec's arrest, St. Louis paper slams Alabama on immigration, courts Mercedes
Mercedes, Alabama's largest exporter, says it's responsible for 10,000 direct and indirect jobs in the region.
November 23rd, 2011
12:35 PM ET

After exec's arrest, St. Louis paper slams Alabama on immigration, courts Mercedes

It’s not often that a newspaper can attack another state, pontificate on a hot-button national issue and deliver a targeted economic development pitch in one go.

That’s what the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board did Tuesday with its open letter, “Hey, Mercedes, time to move to a more welcoming state.”

News surfaced this week that police in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, recently pulled over a man because of a problem with a tag on his rental car. The man, who was German, didn’t have handy what the state considers proper identification, so he was arrested under a provision of Alabama’s immigration law, which is considered the strictest in the land.

Turns out, the man was Detlev Hager, a 46-year-old Mercedes-Benz executive traveling on business. About 10,000 people in the region rely on the company for their livelihood, according to Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, which happens to be the state’s largest exporter.

Hager – one of 66 people charged with not having proper identification since October 1 – had his charges dropped after an associate tendered Hager's passport and German driver’s license, the Tuscaloosa News reported.

Not before the Post-Dispatch took its shot, though.

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Filed under: Alabama • Auto Industry • Automobiles • Civil Rights • Courts • Economy • Immigration • Jobs • Politics • U.S.
Gotta Watch: Diners, drive-throughs and dash cams
Video inside a North Carolina restaurant shows a car crashing through a wall.
November 11th, 2011
11:03 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Diners, drive-throughs and dash cams

Cars, buildings and cameras. You’re bound to get some good footage when they mix. You Gotta Watch these cars roll into a bike shop, smash into a diner and crash through a house. Amazingly, nobody was seriously injured in these incidents.

Dash cam dash – An Oregon police officer was responding to a call when he lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a house. Watch the incredible dash cam footage as the car flies into the building. Also see the homeowner’s response when he watches the video for the first time.

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Remembering some classic chokes
Distraught Atlanta Braves players sit in the dugout after the Philadelphia Phillies pulled ahead 4-3.
September 29th, 2011
04:31 PM ET

Remembering some classic chokes

The Tampa Bay Rays and St. Louis Cardinals won wild card berths in the playoffs after dramatic victories Wednesday thanks to some major-league choking.

Trailing 7-0 to the American League East champion New York Yankees in St. Petersburg, Florida, the Rays launched an astonishing comeback to win in the 12th inning. The Rays' victory capped a remarkable turnaround, with the Florida-based team having been nine games behind the Red Sox on September 3.

There was similar drama in the National League, as the Cardinals capitalized on the Atlanta Braves' 4-3 loss to the National League East champion Philadelphia Phillies. The Cardinals beat Houston 8-0 to earn the other wild card spot.

Naturally, the teams' massive letdowns led to a large discussion of the biggest chokes in history. It'd be easy to count down the biggest ones in sports history (ahem, Bill Buckner), so instead, we're taking a look at pop culture and business to bring you the products and companies that put a whole lot of hype behind something, only for it to massively fail.

Let us know what other cultural and business "chokes" we may have missed in the comments below.

New Coke

It has long been the epitome of a total marketing fail. On April 23, 1985, after some apparently insanely misleading taste tests, Coca-Cola trotted out a new formula for its tried-and-true flagship soft drink. It had been 99 years since Coca-Cola had tampered with the recipe, and the company quickly learned to appreciate the “if-it-ain’t-broke” adage.

By June, the soft drink king was receiving 1,500 outraged calls a day. Even Coca-Cola had trouble completely spinning it to its advantage, saying consumers “had a deep emotional attachment to the original, and they begged and pleaded to get it back.” The company relented on July 10 – that’s 78 days later, folks – and presented Coca-Cola Classic – i.e. the original formula – to the delight of millions. New Coke was left to the cult following of Max Headroom.

Watch Bill Cosby introduce the product:

And now, you can see Pepsi's brilliant commercial rebuttal.

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State trying to seize five high-end cars involved in Canadian street race
High-end sports cars sit in an impound lot in Surrey, British Columbia, on Thursday.
September 9th, 2011
11:44 AM ET

State trying to seize five high-end cars involved in Canadian street race

Would losing your Maserati for speeding be akin to paying a million-dollar fine for jaywalking?

That may be a question five drivers in British Columbia will soon ask themselves.

The five are among 13 owners of high-end sports cars who had their vehicles impounded last week after what Royal Canadian Mounted Police allege was a street race on a provincial highway in suburban Vancouver that reached speeds of 120 mph (200 kph). Police put the total value of the vehicles at $2 million.

Police fined each of the drivers, 12 men and one woman all under age 21, $196, but lacked evidence to pursue more severe sanctions, they said. They looked for other avenues to get their message across that street racing would not be tolerated.

“After speaking to witnesses and gathering information, police determined there was not enough evidence to proceed with criminal charges,” Superintendent Norm Gaumont, head of Traffic Services for the RCMP in the Lower Mainland, said in a press release. “With the criminal avenue closed to us, we decided to see if there was enough evidence to proceed civilly.”

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Filed under: Automobiles • Canada • Crime