Each week we compile the best announcements and developments from the world of cars. Here are the topics you can’t miss from July 27 to August 3.
Most Stolen Cars List Released
Every year, the National Insurance Crime Bureau compiles a “Hot Wheels” list of the most stolen cars in America, and their 2015 report has just been released. The most stolen cars are also among the most commonly sold, which could explain why these models seem to be magnets for thieves.
Coming in third place for most-stolen in 2015 is the Ford F150, with 29,396 reported thefts. Next up in second place is the 1998 Honda Civic, with 49,430 theft incidents. The winner of the 2015 most-stolen car accolade is the 1996 Honda Accord, with a massive 52,244 reported thefts.
Regardless of whether your car is on the most-stolen list, the Bureau recommends adhering to their “four layers of protection”: using common sense and always locking your car, using a visible or audible warning device, installing an immobilizing device like a remote fuel cut-off, or purchasing a tracking device that uses a GPS signal to monitor your car’s every move.
Mercedes Criticized for Misleading Ad
Mercedes-Benz’s new 2017 E-Class sedan is touted as one of the highest-tech cars available today. Packed with cameras and radar sensors, the E-Class features advanced driver assistance capabilities. To show off these features, Mercedes created a TV ad which showed an E-Class driving taking his hands off the wheel in traffic, and adjusting his tie while the car parks itself.
This irked Consumer Reports, the Center for Auto Safety, and the Consumer Federation of America, who wrote a letter to the Federal Trade Commission criticizing the ad. They said it is misleading and could give consumers “a false sense of security in the ability of the car to operate autonomously,” given the fact that it doesn’t meet the NHTSA’s requirements of a full or partially-autonomous car. Mercedes withdrew the ad as a result.
Despite major advances over the last few years, it seems that autonomous driving isn’t quite ready for primetime.
BMW Restores the King of Rock N’ Roll’s 507
BMW only produced 252 examples of the beautiful 507 roadster, leading to its status as one of the rarest BMWs ever made. However, one particular 507 is even more special thanks to its world-famous former owner: Elvis Presley.
The King drove his 507 while he was stationed in Germany during his US Army service in the late 1950’s. However, after he sold it his car sat in storage for more than 40 years and fell into a state of disrepair. BMW themselves bought the car and is now in the process of giving it a full factory restoration, including new paint, interior, and engine, to get it as close to original condition as possible.
The finished project will make its debut at the glitzy Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in Monterey, CA later this month.
Tesla Hard at Work on Gigafactory
All-electric automaker Tesla is making progress on their new “Gigafactory” manufacturing facility. Situated outside of Sparks, Nevada, the Gigafactory will serve as the production center for the batteries which power Tesla vehicles.
The company continues to grow, and Tesla says their need for batteries will soon exceed combined global battery production capabilities – hence, their decision to build the Gigafactory. What’s more, the Gigafactory is slated to be the largest factory in the world, containing over 10 million square feet of floor space.
Construction is set for completion in 2018, at which point the Gigafactory will be able to churn out batteries for up to 500,000 electric cars a year. Expect to see a lot more Teslas on the road in the near future.
Ford Doubles Down on Cupholder Innovation
Anyone who’s driven an older European or Asian car is likely familiar with their cupholder limitations. Drinking in the car seems to be an American phenomenon, and for years foreign automakers struggled to make cupholders that wouldn’t spill a beverage at the slightest corner. While these manufacturers have made progress, American car companies continue to lead in cupholder innovation. Case in point: the clever solution in Ford’s new Super Duty.
The patented design enables up to four cupholders between the front seats, enough to keep any driver quenched for miles to come. If only two drinks are required, a sliding panel opens up a storage bin with ample room for snacks. And that’s only between the front seats – there are six other cupholders in the cabin, for a maximum of 10.
Ford seems to have had hard-working Americans in mind when they designed the new Super Duty: in addition to its cupholder breakthrough, the truck can tow up to 32,500 pounds.
Mystery Corvette Prototype Spied
Last week we reported on the new Corvette Grand Sport, an enthusiast-oriented model which slots between the standard Stingray and track-focused 650 horsepower Z06.
Now it seems that a new, even more aggressive Corvette is on the horizon, as a heavily camouflaged prototype has been spotted near a General Motors test track. No details of this upcoming model are known, but expect some combination of reduced weight, enhanced aerodynamics, and increased power (ideally all of the above).
Rumors are starting to swirl that this car will revive the ZR1 nameplate, which is always reserved for the most extreme Corvettes. Considering the current Z06 sprints from zero to 60 in three seconds flat, whatever Chevrolet is working on here is sure to have incredible performance.