Keith Naughton

Stories by Keith Naughton

  • Hot Wheels Cars Are a Toy Craze Again

    Hot Wheels are hot again. Parent company Mattel is now worth more than GM. Got an old Beach Bomb VW model in the attic? You're rich!
  • McCain vs. Obama on Car Ownership

    After the controversy over the exact number of homes owned by each U.S. presidential candidate (McCain: seven; Obama: one), it seems fitting to note that the GOP nominee also bests the Dem when it comes to car ownership. Obama's lone vehicle is a green machine, a Ford Escape hybrid, purchased in 2007 to replace the family's Chrysler 300C. (Obama made the change after being criticized for driving a gas guzzler even as he was haranguing Detroit for not building enough fuel-efficient vehicles.)John and Cindy McCain, on the other hand, have stocked their garages with a fleet of 13 vehicles, from golf-cart-style electric cars to a Ford pickup truck. McCain's personal ride—a 2004 Cadillac CTS—is not very energy-friendly, but it should make Detroit happy since it's a General Motors product. Such consideration is not insignificant, with Michigan's 17 electoral votes in play. In an interview with a local Detroit TV station, McCain boasted, "I've bought American literally all my life and I'm...
  • All the Candidates’ Cars

    When you have seven homes, that's a lot of garages to fill. After the fuss over the number of residences owned by the two presidential nominees, NEWSWEEK looked into the candidates' cars. And based on public vehicle-registration records, here's the score. John and Cindy McCain: 13. Barack and Michelle Obama: one.One vehicle in the McCain fleet has caused a small flap. United Auto Workers president Ron Gettelfinger, an Obama backer, accused McCain this month of "flip-flopping" on who bought daughter Meghan's foreign-made Toyota Prius. McCain said last year that he bought it, but then told a Detroit TV station on Sept. 7 that Meghan "bought it, I believe, herself." (The McCain campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment.)Obama's lone vehicle also is a green machine, a 2008 Ford Escape hybrid. He bought it last year to replace the family's Chrysler 300C, a Hemi-powered sedan. Obama ditched the 300C, once 50 Cent's preferred ride, after taking heat for driving a guzzler...
  • Hybrids To Account for 11 Percent of Autos by 2013

    With gas above $4 a gallon, hybrid cars are hotter than a laptop battery. But is gas-electric propulsion the future of personal transportation? It's definitely on the fast track. Federal forecasters predict hybrid sales could approach 2 million vehicles by 2013, accounting for 11 percent of the total U.S. auto market, up from 2.5 percent today. By then, we'll have 89 hybrid models from which to choose (including the hot little Honda pictured), up from 16 today.But one well-respected forecaster, J.D. Power and Associates, sees another technology overtaking hybrids: diesel engines. That's right, those clanky motors powering big rigs. Why? Carmakers are developing smooth-running clean diesels that get up to 30 percent better mileage than gasoline engines. And the diesel option is cheaper—$2,000 to $3,000—than paying the extra $4,500 hybrids cost over conventional cars. Still, with diesel fuel now 17 percent more costly than gas, most forecasters see a hybrid in your future. By...
  • A Car For The Future

    Honda has unveiled the future of personal transportation: the FCX Clarity, a hydrogen-powered fuel-cell car that emits only water from its tailpipe and can get the equivalent of 119 kilometers per gallon. The first Claritys were delivered to southern California on June 16, and Hollywood crowds are already lining up to lease it for $600 a month. "This is a must-have technology for the future of the earth," said Honda president Takeo Fukui at the rollout. "Honda will work hard to mainstream fuel-cell cars."Sounds great, but sadly the mainstreaming of fuel-cell cars will come much farther out. Honda, for all its good intentions and buzz-worthy PR, is heavily subsidizing the Clarity, which actually costs several hundred thousand dollars to produce per model. Fukui says it will take 10 years to get the price of the car below $100,000, and it plans to lease only 200 models over the next three years. But the biggest roadblock is beyond Honda's control: a dearth of hydrogen-filling stations...
  • A Whole New Layer of Skin

    Who needs an auto show when you've got your own skin flick? BMW just went viral with a YouTube posting of GINA, a curvaceous concept car with plastic skin instead of metal. In a week, it generated 2 million hits. In the languid vid, GINA stretches her gull-wing doors and blinks her cat-eye headlights. Chief designer Chris Bangle explains that her jumpsuit can be zipped on in two hours. The message: A car's steel skeleton protects you, so why not wrap your ride in something more lifelike? Sadly, BMW has no plans to bring GINA to life. But it's building plenty of Bimmer buzz.
  • Speedo: Making a Splash

    Speedo's new and controversial high-tech LZR suit is helping swimmers smash dozens of records. How the company plans to capitalize on Olympic gold.
  • Rock-and-Roll Fantasy

    Harmonix, creator of Rock Band and Guitar Hero, is changing videogames.

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