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Square Enix Collective will bring Circuit Superstars, to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC in 2020.

Circuit Superstars combines arcade-style racing with a more realistic driving model that enables new players to jump in and race, but sets a high skill ceiling for serious players looking to set the fastest laps possible. It will feature a range of on- and off-road racing categories – from rally, GT, classic cars and even trucks – all in a unique and gorgeous visual style.

Original Fire Games is a six-person team, originally started by three siblings from Mexico (Carolina, Carlos and Alberto Mastretta). Together they have a combined total of 14 years in game development, as well as more than 15 accumulated years of real motor racing experience – and it’s this experience they’ve drawn from to make an accessible game with a realistic edge.

“Over the last three decades we have seen a fascinating evolution of racing games,” says Carolina Mastretta, Director & Producer at Original Fire Games. “And these days, we can drive almost any type of car on amazing recreations of the best tracks in the world. However, we believe it’s time to try something different, and we want to do this by reviving a style that pioneered the racing genre decades ago.”

Phil Elliott, Director of Indie Publishing at Square Enix (and avid racing fan) is excited to be bringing Original Fire’s debut game on board. “Here at Square Enix Collective, we’ve been hoping to find a great racing game for some time – and we’re so happy to be working on Circuit Superstars. It’s one of those rare games that has charm and style, but also an edge to the handling that makes you strive to get better with each lap you drive.”

When it comes to vehicle maintenance and repairs, even the smallest task can seem daunting if you don't know what you're doing. Auto maintenance and repairs take practice, knowledge, and experience -- so it's okay if you don't know what to do right away. But if you're looking to become handier and tackle some basic repair tasks on your own, take a look at these few tips to help you get started.

Inspect Your Vehicle Regularly

One of the most important things you should do, whether you plan on making repairs yourself or not, is inspect your vehicle on a regular basis. By assessing the various components of your vehicle, you can learn more about how the car works, which parts go where, and you'll spot signs of damage. Looking at your car and seeing signs of wear and tear or damage is important because you'll then know if maintenance or repairs need to be done. And you can get a better feel for when routine maintenance, like an oil change or tire rotation, needs to be done. So take a detailed look at your vehicle regularly to stay on top of problems.

Do Some Research

If you're new to auto repairs, then it's essential that you take the time to do some research. You should start by reading your vehicle's manual, which will tell you about various components and when routine maintenance tasks should be completed. After that, consider checking out YouTube videos or reading through Internet forums for detailed information and instructions regarding various repairs. As long as your vehicle is pretty common, there's bound to be a lot of information about it on the Internet. So do some basic research to expand your knowledge before tackling any repair tasks.

Be Prepared

When it comes time to finally work on your vehicle, you need to be prepared. This means having your workspace set up and having the right tools. You'll need some basic tools, like a jack stand and a torque wrench, and a large, even space to park your car on. Make sure you clear plenty of space so you have room to get around your vehicle with ease. You should also keep some baggies and sharpies on hand so you can label parts and keep them organized as you're taking them off or replacing them. Being prepared with the basics will help you get off to a good start.

With there being about 5.5 million car accidents every year in the U.S., you may find your vehicle damaged sooner than you'd think. So with these few basic tips for beginners, you'll be well on your way to performing simple maintenance and repair tasks in no time.

Wednesday, May 22 2019 13:52

GM Introduces New Carbon Fiber Truck Bed

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General Motors has announced they will be beginning regular production of a carbon-fiber cargo bed in the 2019 GMC Sierra Denali and Sierra AT4. This material has not been regularly used in automotive production before and GM hopes to apply it to other vehicle models in the future.

While vehicles rely on a lot of materials and substances to be manufactured and run properly, like steel, aluminum, and oil, which is produced in more than four billion metric tons around the world every year, carbon fiber is a durable and lightweight material that is typically not used in vehicles. But with more and more regulations regarding fuel economy being introduced, GM and other automakers are having to find ways to make their larger vehicles, like trucks, more efficient.

Truck beds are typically steel and even though stainless steel can contain more than 60% post-industrial recycled material, it's still quite heavy. Switching to the CarbonPro cargo bed will shave off 62 pounds compared to traditional steel. Furthermore, when the ability to get rid of bed liners is considered, almost 100 pounds can be lost. And although it's much lighter, it still has the same impact resistance of steel.

Not only is the new cargo bed lighter, but it can be designed differently too -- the carbon fiber can be produced with molded floor cavities to help secure motorcycles safely and add extra room for cargo.

GM has been fighting the high cost of carbon fiber by using a combination of as many as 13 different materials to help improve the fuel economy of their vehicles, as well as driving performance and the overall quietness of the truck.

Experimenting with different methods, GM has found a new way to use bonding and adhesion methods to work with the expensive material -- and the automaker plans to continue working on refining the method.

According to Mark Voss, engineering group manager for GM's pickup boxes, GM had to do a lot more development and testing that is usually needed for a standard steel bed -- GM has been working on the carbon fiber box for about eight years.

"Steel boxes have been around for 100 years; you don't have to do that level of developmental work on a steel box. Once you do the production design, you validate it [by the] normal process," Voss explained.

And during tests of their new product, GM was able to show just how much better the new bed is than steel options and even Ford's choice of aluminum. GM put their work to the test, throwing sledgehammers and cinder blocks onto the carbon fiber bed, their own pickup trucks with steel beds, and the F-150. Unfortunately for Ford, some of the objects pierced right through the F-120 bed. GM engineers recorded the tests, showing that the carbon fiber beds were barely impacted by the heavy objects.

With there being about six million car accidents every year, automakers are always striving to make their vehicles more durable and safe. And the use of carbon fiber for new truck beds will increase durability, safety, and sustainability all at once.

The world's largest supplier of auto-parts is teaming up with a leading fuel-cell stack maker to create the technology that will be key to the automotive industry's greener future. Last month, German supplier Bosch announced that it will co-develop polymer-electrolyte membrane fuel cells with Swedish manufacturer Powercell.

Once the two companies create this sustainable technology, Bosch will manufacture the fuel cells under a global license. According to a statement emailed to Bloomberg, the stack will become a part of Bosch's lineup of fuel-cell products and is expected to be launched by 2022 at the latest.

The basic premise of fuel-cell technology is that they turn hydrogen into electricity. For years, hydrogen fuel cells have been celebrated as a potential replacement for less sustainable energy cultivation methods, including the 2.5 million miles of pipeline that transfer fuel products from source to market in the United States. Although the technology promises minimal environmental impact from its simple emittance of water vapor, high costs and a lack of infrastructure have made it difficult for the cells to gain major traction.

Before Bosch's recent announcement, Toyota Motor Corp. and Hyundai Motor Co. were the biggest fuel-cell backers in the industry. Toyota alone is projected to produce about 11 million vehicles in 2023 and has already started incorporating fuel cell technology into its large trucks. Now that Bosch is in the game, the future of hydrogen fuel cells is looking a bit different.

Bosch predicts that as much as 20% of global electric vehicles will use hydrogen fuel cells by 2030. Bosch needs to reduce the costs of fuel cell systems and, in particular, the pricey stacks to make this growth possible.

According to Dr. Stefan Hartung, Bosch associate director and chairman of the Mobility Solutions division, commercializing the technology will be a driving force in decreasing the costs for hydrogen fuel. Commercializing the technology for passenger cars and trucks will certainly be an essential step in the United States, as there is a shortage of hydrogen filling infrastructure in the country.

Efforts from U.S. lawmakers are also aimed at making sustainable cars a more viable option for production and purchase. In early April, a bipartisan coalition introduced the Driving America Forward Act in Congress with the support of at least 60 organizations that included automakers, electric vehicle suppliers, and environmental organizations. If enacted, the legislation will extend the one-time federal tax credit for buyers of electric, plug-in hybrid, and hydrogen-powered vehicles.

Currently, the credits an automaker receives begin to phase out during the calendar year after it sells 200,000 electric cars and/or plug-in hybrids. Tesla hit that mark last year, causing its federal tax break to drop on July 1 and expire completely at the end of 2019. General Motors, an industry powerhouse headed by a female CEO who is among the 27 women leading Fortune 500 companies, also reached 200,0000 electric vehicle sales last year and will soon face a similar loss in tax breaks.

The Act would allow purchasers of an additional 400,000 vehicles per manufacturer to be eligible for a slightly smaller one-time tax credit. Once it reaches 600,000 qualifying vehicle sales, the credit would drop more and phase out after six months. The bill would also extend the hydrogen fuel cell credit through 2028, providing manufacturers and buyers with even more incentive for eco-friendly cars.

According to industry sources, losing the tax credits would stifle developments in the electric vehicle market. With initiatives such as Bosch's recent fuel-cell partnership with Powercell, the market can't afford interference with potential advancements.

Not only can Bosch's fuel-cell technology help the environment, but its existing portfolio can help make the roads safer. Bosch already has fuel cell components that include control units with sensors, a safety-focused tool that could reduce the 40,100 people who were killed in car accidents in 2017.

If you own a vehicle, you should understand the importance of keeping it clean and properly maintained. Simple maintenance tasks can help you keep your car in pristine shape, saving you time and money down the line. And seeing as how something like a good cleaning can remove about 70% to 90% of the plugged ash in your truck's DPF, there are a lot of simple maintenance tasks you should be doing regularly. Let's take a look at a few of these tips so you can keep your car in good shape.

Check Your Fluids

One of the easiest things you can do to keep your car in good condition is checking and changing the fluids regularly. Your engine oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and brake fluids should all be checked as needed for your car. If you fail to refill or replace fluids as stated in your vehicle's manual, your car could run into some serious problems. While stainless steel pipes can last more than 100 years, fluids in your car can get dirty and sludge-like, causing the vehicle to have to work harder to run. So changing the fluids regularly will ensure your car can run smoothly.

Get New Windshield Wipers

Your windshield should be kept clean and clear so you can see properly. After all, visibility is a key component of being able to drive safely. This is why you should consider not only cleaning your windshield, but replacing your windshield wipers, too. A lot of dirt and debris can accumulate on your windshield, which can hinder your ability to see -- removing this buildup is as simple as using some glass cleaner and a paper towel. And if you have old and ripped windshield wipers, you're not going to be able to properly see when it's raining or snowing. Replacing your wipers is a low-cost and easy task that can make a big difference when you're on the road.

Keep Your Engine Clean

If you don't fully understand the inner workings of your car, that's totally fine -- you can still keep the exterior of your engine clean and in good condition. While many people focus on keeping the exterior of their vehicle in good shape, especially with the possibility of it taking up to 100 small pushes before a dent can be removed, the condition of the exterior of your engine is important as well. Debris like grease and dirt can buildup and can do quite a bit of damage if not taken care of. So invest in a good cleaner (The Rock Father™ likes Tub 'O Towels) and give your engine a gentle but thorough cleaning.

Tub 'O Towels

All of these tasks can be done quickly and easily, even if you have little to no experience working on cars. So if you have been slacking on your car maintenance, consider completing these tasks to keep your vehicle in good shape.

Top Photo: Dinocar by Ryan McGuire

If you've ever looked into placing larger wheels and tires on any vehicle, chances are you've come across some issues. For owners of the Chevrolet Silverado (or GMC Sierra), it's an issue that's quite common and can require some lift to solve the problems created by placing a round tire into a pretty square wheel well. In the latest episode of AmericanTrucks’ (AT) YouTube Series, The Haul, Adam Maqboul talks truck lift kits; specifically, lifting a 2016 Chevy Silverado 1500. With 6” lift kits being one of the most popular sizes in AT’s catalog, Adam produced this video to highlight an effective solution to making clearance for larger wheels and tires in the Silverado’s notoriously square wheel arches. Take a look...

For more information on customizing your Chevy Silverado or GMC Sierra, American Trucks has put together a helpful guide with everything you need to level and lift your ride for work or play.

A recreational vehicle (RV) is a motor vehicle or trailer that includes living quarters designed for accommodation. According to RVIA, there are as many as 30 million RV enthusiasts, including RV renters across the United States. Motorhomes, camper vans, caravans, fifth-wheel trailers, truck campers, pop-up campers, and more are widely used across the country for RV purposes.

Another popular vehicle for decades is great for recreational purposes, as well: Jeep. In 2018, according to a Statista survey, 2.25% of respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 owned a Jeep. These vehicles are great for off-roading across muddy terrain as well as commuting to and from corporate office jobs. Recently, RV enthusiasts have been able to transform their Jeeps into powerful vehicles that not only drive well and look cool, but are livable during camping trips and other outdoor excursions.

With there being about 5.4 million non-fatal car accidents every year on U.S. roads, people are always looking for the safest, most reliable car on the market. And thanks to J.D. Power's 2019 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study, U.S. consumers can now know which car is best to buy and why.

Research firm J.D. Power has been putting together it's annual study for the past 30 years. This study looks at three-year-old models, so this year they looked at 2016 models. The researchers examine any and all problems that original owners of 2016 models have reported within the past 12 months. And to rank the dependability of the vehicle, the researchers also take into account the number of problems that were experienced per 100 vehicles. With this ranking system, a lower score means a vehicle is more dependable.

A typical engineer's salary can vary widely, from around $50,000 to $150,000. But engineers who happen to design revolutionary innovations within the automobile industry can expect to earn a lot more. For instance, designing everyday vehicles that come equipped with more than 700 horsepower, that kind of innovation is surely sought after in the auto market.

Manual transmission vehicles are outnumbered by automatic transmission vehicles 10 to 1 on U.S. roads. Though the majority of American drivers prefer automatic automobiles, manual vehicles are still quite popular and have a strong following.

Manual transmission, also known as a manual gearbox, standard, or stick shift, is a type of transmission used in motor vehicle applications. It uses a driver-operated clutch, typically engaged and disengaged by a foot pedal or hand lever, for regulating the amount of torque transferred from the engine to the transmission. A conventional 5-speed manual transmission is the standard equipment in a base-model automobile, though some vehicles come equipped with 6-speed transmission instead.

If you're a millennial mom, though four-door sedans with automatic transmission might be perfectly suitable, there are plenty of SUVs and crossover vehicles you can find with manual transmission. Here are some of the best manual SUVs or crossovers on the market today:

  • Kia Soul -- The 2019 Kia Soul can come equipped with a six-speed manual transmission in its base form: Soul Base. This model comes with a 130-hp 1.6-liter non-turner four-cylinder engine. Additionally, each model is front-wheel drive, but can still act as a subcompact crossover. Later in the year, the Soul will likely be replaced by an all-new model that also will offer manual transmission.
  • Mini Cooper Countryman -- Mini pretty much offers manual transmission on just about every vehicle model it manufactures. This Mini Cooper comes standard with a six-speed manual and can even come with a third pedal.
  • Jeep Compass (pictured top) -- Jeeps are great for just about anyone, but if you have kids who play sports -- they are perfect. Jeeps come equipped with both stick shift transmission and all-wheel drive. Additionally, they have standard front-wheel drive options, too, but you aren't restricted to front-wheel, as all-wheel is available. These manual Jeeps come with a 180 horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine.

Just because you have only driven automatic throughout your driving career doesn't mean you can't pick up on how to properly drive standard. If you have the right model and are serious about learning how to do it, you'll probably enjoy a standard transmission might more.

The crew over at Volo Auto Museum are known to buy-and-sell vehicles on a regular basis, including hundreds of "star cars" - those made famous on-screen. While there may have been occasional regrets on letting one go, now they're bringing one back that they so fully regretted selling that they've bought it for a third time - and they were willing to pay more than they made on its sale: Dominic Toretto's 1970 Dodge Charger R/T from 2001's The Fast and The Furious. It's not a replica, and it's not a stunt car - it's the real-deal hero vehicle.

When I shared the news in November that Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live would be making the rounds for its inaugural U.S. tour, one tantalizing possibility I discussed was the original "King of the Monster Trucks" joining the party... Bob Chandler's BIGFOOT. Turns out, the rumble on the horizon was true, and the iconic blue Ford will be on the tour in 2019! But what version of BIGFOOT will we see? If the artwork above is any indication, looks like a modern spin on the classic BIGFOOT 1.

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