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Nissan wants an American driver for its Le Mans team

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Nissan Le Mans race car

"We'll use every driver development tool we have to take them to the next level, but they will also have to step up." - Darren Cox

Nissan is aiming to put an American behind the wheel of one of its LMP1 racecars in 2016 as part of plans to grow its motorsports program in the United States.

The driver would compete in the LMP2 class and the new LMP3 class of the FIA World Endurance Car Championship next year and then graduate to the higher level of competition. Nissan said it would select candidates from its GT Academy program, including former winners Bryan Heitkotter, Steve Doherty and Nick McMillen, plus other drivers. Ultimately, the goal is to have an American on the grid at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

"We'll use every driver development tool we have to take them to the next level, but they will also have to step up," Darren Cox, Nismo global head of brand, marketing and sales, said in a statement. "It is going to take more than just talent to get them into an LMP1 car, but the opportunity will be there if they are prepared to work for it."

Nissan's LMP1 program will launch next season, competing against Audi, Toyota and Porsche on circuits around the world. It will be based in Indianapolis in the facility of an old Champ Car team, Forsythe Racing, and have facilities in Europe and Japan. The LMP1 racer takes the name of one of Nissan's most famous sports cars, and it will be called the GT-R LM Nismo. Nissan will field two cars, and possibly a third one at Le Mans, a spokesman said.

Founded in 2008, Nissan's GT Academy has taken video gamers and turned them into professional drivers-with extensive training that maximizes their talents and translates that into real-world racing skills. More than five million gamers have used the academy through PlayStation, Nissan said.

In other racing news, Nissan also announced it will supply engines for the LMP3 series, which launches next season in Europe.

Continue reading Nissan wants an American driver for its Le Mans team

Nissan wants an American driver for its Le Mans team originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 20 Sep 2014 13:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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What you missed on 9.18.14

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Daily U-Turn

Quick Spin: 2014 Kia Cee'd GT

We're undergoing somewhat of a Hot Hatch Revival here in America these days, but the sad truth is that for every Volkswagen GTI and Ford Focus ST we can buy, the average European shopper has three to choose from. So, if we can't beat 'em, we'll borrow 'em. We travel to the UK, to wring out a perfectly warm Kia hatchback that the Korean company doesn't offer on our shores. In the land of hatchback plenty, can the Cee'd GT distinguish itself?




The IRS is getting plug-in tax credits all wrong

It's a fairly simple concept: the feds authorized big consumer tax credits for the first 200K plug-ins and EVs sold by each automaker. The company's report their sales to the IRS, and the IRS keeps track of the tally for everyone involved. Only, that's not happening. We dive into the convoluted tale, and look for some answers.





Why yes, Nissan did make a Leaf pickup truck

What do you do when you need a new shop truck/parts hauler, and you happen to be a major automobile manufacturer? If you're Nissan, you saddle up and build something awesome, it seems. The body and drivetrain of the Nissan Leaf meet the modified bed of a Nissan Frontier, in a tiny truck that we dare you not to have a crush on.




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What you missed on 9.18.14 originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 18 Sep 2014 19:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Meet Sparky, Nissan’s Leaf-based, Frontier-bedded EV parts hauler [w/video]

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Nissan Leaf Frontier

For many enthusiasts, the concept of the ute - a car with a pickup bed - is somehow irresistibly appealing. On paper, it promises the marriage of a truck's utility and a car's superior driving dynamics, and for that reason alone, we'd love to see more of them. Yet while other parts of the world get them in good numbers, North America doesn't ever see them - at least not for long. Based on what we've seen of late, though, that's not due to a lack of motivation on the part of engineers.

BMW wowed us several years ago with an M3 ute, and earlier this year, some interns converted a Mini Paceman into the pickup-bodied Paceman Adventure. Loathe to let their rivals in Munich and Oxford have all the fun, Nissan has built its very own car-based pickup. Meet Sparky, the world's first Leaf Frontier.

Like the M3, this all-electric ute is used as a parts hauler for Nissan's engineering teams at its sprawling Stanfield, AZ tech center and proving grounds.

"We tried to keep it a secret and be exciting for everybody. But we have visitors and they come and they see that truck and they go straight to 'What is it?' and they start looking at it, and it makes great conversation," Nissan's Roland Schellenberg said in a statement.

Schellenberg completed the months-long team-building project alongside fellow engineer Arnold Moulinet.

"After [Schellenberg] told us it was going to be the Leaf that we would redo, I went home and stayed up til like four in the morning making all kinds of designs for what would work. We basically got the stock Leaf, and after reviewing a bunch of designs of pickup trucks that we have here at Nissan, we decided to go with a Frontier bed," Moulinet said in a statement. "My main job here is working on rough-road vehicles, rough-road testing. I'm pretty good at taking cars completely apart to the bare frame and putting them back together again to resume testing."

Take a look below for the video on the impetus behind Sparky, the build process and to see the final result in action.

Continue reading Meet Sparky, Nissan's Leaf-based, Frontier-bedded EV parts hauler [w/video]

Meet Sparky, Nissan's Leaf-based, Frontier-bedded EV parts hauler [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 18 Sep 2014 12:44:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Nissan ZEOD RC on track and from behind the wheel

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Nissan Zeod RC takes on the Top Gear test track

The Nissan ZEOD RC hybrid racecar has had mixed success in its competition life. It was invented to do a completely electric, high-speed lap at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which it was able to do in practice. However, when the big event actually came, the car lasted less than an hour before it had to bow out with transmission issues. Nissan hasn't completely given up on its experiment, though. The experience (and possibly some of the tech) is going to help with the GT-R LM racer next year, and now the ZEOD is getting its chance to see how it handles the Top Gear test track.

Unfortunately, it's not The Stig piloting the ZEOD; instead, the magazine's motoring editor Ollie Marriage is the lucky man for the job. The car's sharp shape seems to be a good metaphor for how it handles because it just seems to dart around the track. Its tiny, turbocharged 1.5-liter engine with 400 horsepower and two electric motors put out a claimed 750 horsepower, and that seems like plenty for the relatively short Top Gear course.

As usual of Top Gear, the cinematography here is fantastic, and a second video shows off a single lap of the course from around the car. It's amazing to watch, especially with its big screen constantly showing the camera view out of the rear. Scroll down to see both.

Continue reading Nissan ZEOD RC on track and from behind the wheel

Nissan ZEOD RC on track and from behind the wheel originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 17 Sep 2014 17:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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GT-R owner finds going 200 mph on a public freeway is asking for trouble

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We are going to start with the disclaimer: do not try this at home. Ever.

That covered, we've been intrigued with a video that is making its rounds on the enthusiast forums. Shot from a dash cam, with a full performance overlay, it shows a modified 800 horsepower Nissan GT-R (with its twin-turbocharged engine bored and stroked to 4.3-liters) flying down a public Russian highway late at night. While we've viewed a similar lawless scene too many countless times, what happens next is the real surprise.

As the coupe hits 327 kilometers per hour, which is a blistering 203 miles per hour, the right front tire unexpectedly loses pressure and instantaneously disintegrates from the centrifugal force (even though the Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT 600 is a run-flat tire, it doesn't stand a chance at four times its rated zero pressure speed). Shrapnel from the tire blows out the right front HID headlight (explaining the momentary flash of light) and the steel front quarter panel is peeled back like the lid on a can of sardines... but the driver holds it together and controls the Nissan to a safe stop, which takes place over an agonizing 32 seconds.

Regularly checking tire pressure and the tread surface are great ways to reduce the likelihood of a blowout, but road debris and heat buildup are variables that are hard to control. We don't know why this GT-R owner's tire blew, but we do know that they did nearly everything right from that point forward - hold the vehicle steady, lift off the accelerator pedal, gently apply the brake and coast to a safe stop. Aside from the extensive damage to the right front clip, there is a happy ending to the video because the driver did not panic and slam on the brakes - a mistake that likely would have sent the GT-R careening out of control.

One more thing: the video doesn't tell us who the driver is (for obvious reasons), but we are confident that they should be easy to identify by the bloodied lips from joyfully kissing the pavement once the crippled GT-R came to a stop.

Continue reading GT-R owner finds going 200 mph on a public freeway is asking for trouble

GT-R owner finds going 200 mph on a public freeway is asking for trouble originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 14 Sep 2014 18:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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How did Nissan tweet a response to the Royal Baby announcement so quickly?

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A mere seven minutes after the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announced they were pregnant with their second child, Nissan had the perfect post circulating on the Twittersphere. How did Nissan know to expect Kate and William were expecting? By paying attention to the Internet zeitgeist.



David Parkinson, head of social for Nissan in Europe, told AdWeek that the automaker's creative agency created the image when rumors of a second pregnancy started in July.

"As it happened, the rumor was never confirmed, so we kept the piece in our back pocket."

Nissan spotted the rumors along with the European marketing DigitasLBi France's BrandLive initiative, which keeps an eye on trends and rumors circulating on the net. They look for anything that may be useful for their clients, including Nissan. The proactive approach seems to have worked. Nissan's royal baby tweet referencing its newly redesigned X-Trail crossover has been shared hundreds of times since Monday.

How did Nissan tweet a response to the Royal Baby announcement so quickly? originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 14 Sep 2014 11:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Nissan’s crowdsourced Project Titan is ready to tackle Alaska [w/videos]

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Nissan Project Titan

Alaska still offers Americans the chance to really experience the wilderness, and Nissan is challenging its Titan pickup to its offroad extremes with a little help from its fans. After crowdsourcing a heap of mods, the company is handing it over to two Wounded Warrior Project Alumni to do their worst in the backcountry to see what the truck can do.

Nissan last experimented with the crowdsourcing idea on its Project 370Z in 2012 but might have taken things even further this time. For Project Titan, the automaker let fans vote on 10 different areas to customize on a 2014 Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X. To fit the rugged look, the company covered it up with a custom digital-camouflage wrap with a Wounded Warrior Project emblem and even outfitted its all-terrain camping trailer in a similar scheme. An LED lighting rig was also added to the new bull bar and roof rack to brighten the night. For a just little more grunt, the 5.6-liter V8 was outfitted with a Nismo cold-air intake and Borla cat-back exhaust, and to keep from getting stuck, the pickup got an upgraded suspension with more travel and 18-inch wheels with 35-inch Nitto offroad tires. The interior was also slightly revised with big GPS system and custom embroidered seats.

Now, it's time to see if the truck's mods can handle what the Alaskan wilderness can throw at it. The two Wounded Warrior Project Alumni are just starting their expedition and are expecting snow on the way. Scroll down to watch three build videos for the Titan and read Nissan's official announcement. You can also follow their journey on Nissan Trucks' Facebook page.

Continue reading Nissan's crowdsourced Project Titan is ready to tackle Alaska [w/videos]

Nissan's crowdsourced Project Titan is ready to tackle Alaska [w/videos] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 10 Sep 2014 13:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Nissan could have bought a stake in Aston Martin as early as 2012

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Aston Martin

Aston Martin has a very interesting future ahead of it. While the British brand appeared to be struggling with aging tech for a while, fresh investment from Daimler may have shown a light toward the future with the brand getting engines and electronics from them. Also, former Renault-Nissan top exec Andy Palmer has jumped ship from the French/Japanese automaker to become CEO of the much smaller sports car company. Interestingly, though, new reports from unnamed Nissan sources have indicated that Palmer has been pushing to work with AM for years.

Three unnamed company insiders told Reuters that Palmer made attempts to convince Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn in 2012 and 2013 to invest in Aston Martin, but his proposals were shot down both times for unspecified reasons, according to Automotive News. "We looked carefully at the proposal but we passed on it," said one of the sources.

You can easily see why Palmer was eying Aston Martin even back in 2012. It's no secret that the British sports car mavens were in need of extra funding, well before the Daimler investment. Building vehicles these days is only getting more expensive with stronger safety and emissions requirements. Just look at the brand's desperate hope to get a side-impact crash exemption to keep selling its models in the US as an example.

Still, It's fun to imagine automotive history going a very different way than it has. Think of the possibility of Aston Martin models using Nissan V8s or even the turbo V6 from the GT-R, but wrapped in the British brand's svelte styling, or that the rumors of Mercedes and AM possibly sharing platforms in the future were instead with Infiniti or Renault.

Nissan could have bought a stake in Aston Martin as early as 2012 originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 08 Sep 2014 14:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Subaru Legacy pitted against Roadkill project cars

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Roadkill Subaru

There's an evergreen debate among auto enthusiasts about whether they would prefer to have the latest and greatest car of today or a certified classic from yesteryear. What if you had to further define that, though, and the choice was between a brand new 2015 Subaru Legacy or a turbocharged Datsun 240Z with a hatch that wouldn't close? Roadkill aimed to find out that and more in one of its best videos to date.

According to the hosts, Subaru came to them, handed over some money and challenged Roadkill's project cars against its latest Legacy. The result is every bit as good (or better) than any automotive-themed show you could find on television.

Things start simple with a figure-eight race in a rodeo arena with the Subaru taking on Roadkill's 1968 Ford Ranchero, originally built for ice racing. From there the Legacy races a 1968 Dodge Charger with no windows around and off-road rally stage. Finally, the Subie goes head-to-head against the Rotsun, the aforementioned turbocharged 240Z, through an abandoned neighborhood. Plus, there's a bonus drag race challenging them all.

Everyone involved in this seems to be having more fun at work than many people have all year, and that positive feeling is incredibly infectious. From the hosts all the way to the instructor at the rally school, everyone is smiling and laughing practically the whole time. Enjoy, this is a good one.

Continue reading Subaru Legacy pitted against Roadkill project cars

Subaru Legacy pitted against Roadkill project cars originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 05 Sep 2014 20:04:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Nissan: Philippe Klein



Philippe Klein

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