February 2009 Archives

2010 Chevy Camaro is the Next Indy 500 Pace Car


The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has announced that the 2010 Chevy Camaro will be the official pace car of the 93rd Indy 500 on May 24, 2009.

The 2009 race marks the fifth time that a Camaro has been the official pace car. It also marks the 44th time that a GM vehicle has paced the event.

GM Unveils the Australian Versions of the Cruze and Volt


GM has unveiled the Australian versions of the Cruze and Volt as the Holden Cruze and Holden Volt.

The Australian version of the Chevy Cruze features a new grille and badges. Other than that everything else is pretty much the same. The Holden Cruze is powered by a 1.8L 4 cylinder petrol or an optional 2.0L turbo charged diesel.

The Holden Volt is nearly identical to the Chevy Volt besides new badges and the steering wheel being on the opposite side of the car.

Geneva 09' Preview: Toyota iQ with 99 HP Headed to the Show


Toyota unveiled the iQ last year with an impressive 65.7 mpg, 55 mpg in the US. But a not so impressive 67 horsepower. So Toyota is bringing a more powerful version to the Geneva Motor Show next week.

The more powerful iQ will be powered by a 99 horsepower 1.3L VVTi engine with 58.9 mpg (49 in the US) when mated to the six-speed manual transmission. When the engine is mated to the Multidrive automatic transmission it gets 55.4 mpg (46 mpg in the states).

The more powerful iQ will be on sale in Europe this July.

Subaru-Toyota RWD Coupe Put on Hold


Subaru and Toyota have reportedly been working on a pair of small RWD compact coupes that were going to be released by the end of 2011. Now it looks like the project has been put on indefinite hold due to the economy.

The 2+2 compact coupe was expected to use a version of the Subaru Impreza's platform, including the horizontally opposed boxer engine and transmission. The Subaru and Toyota versions would have had different exterior designs.

Geneva 09' Preview: 2010 Volvo S80 Gets a Small Facelift


Volvo has announced the changes to the 2010 S80, which gets updated styling, an enhanced interior and new diesel engines for Europe.

The 2010 S80 will feature three new diesel engines, the 2.4D, D5 and the low CO2-emitting DRIVE. In the US the S80 features a 235 hp 3.2L six-cyl, a 281 hp turbocharged 3.0L six-cyl or a 311hp 4.4L V8. The turbocharged six and V8 come standard with AWD.

The exterior of the S80 gets an updated grille with a larger Volvo emblem, and chrome on the lower fascia, side skirts and underneath the taillights. Inside there is a new steering wheel and updated gauges.

Kia Releases More Teasers of the 2010 Sorento


Kia has released two more teaser photos of the 2010 Sorento following last week's teaser.

The 2010 Sorento is going to move from a body-on-frame design to a unit-body design. It's overall look is much sportier than the current generation and features some of the same design cues as the new Kia Forte. It is expected that the Sorento will be powered by either a four-cylinder or the 3.8L Lambda V6 engine.

The 2010 Sorento will be officially unveiled at the Seoul Motor Show in April.

Honda is Going to Increase Insight Production


Honda has just released the Insight Hybrid in Japan and the demand has been higher than expected (almost three times its monthly target).

"The response has been overwhelming,” Hiroshi Kobayashi, Honda’s deputy chief operating officer told Automotive News. “We will have to increase production plans.”

Honda is planning on launching the Insight in Europe and the U.S. over the next two months. Over half of the planned 200,000 units are expected for North America. In April Honda is planning on increasing the production of its Prius fighter. Kobyashi did not state how many extra units Honda is going to produce.

When the Insight is launched in the US in April, it is expected to start under $20K.

Geneva 09' Preview: Nissan NV200 Small Van Unveiled


Nissan is planning on entering the small van market with the introduction of the NV200 at the Geneva Motor Show next week.

The NV200 will be offered in three configurations: cargo van, 7-passenger van and a Combi version for people and cargo.

The NV200 is built on a modified version of Nissan's B Platform and will be powered by either a 1.6L gas engine or a Renault-sourced 1.5L diesel engine. It will launch in Japan this summer and Europe this fall.

Geneva 09' Preview: Kia No 3 MPV Concept Unveiled


Next week Kia is going to officially unveil the No 3 MPV Concept at the Geneva Motor Show.

Kia hasn't released many details about the new car other than the fact that it features a unique extended windscreen and a panorama glass roof. The concept is also 4045 mm long.

Expect more details next week.

Geneva 09' Preview: Alfa Romeo MiTo GTA Unveiled with 240 HP


Alfa Romeo has officially unveiled the MiTo GTA just before its official unveiling at the Geneva Motor Show in a little over a week.

The MiTo GTA is powered by a 240 horsepower turbocharged 1.8L engine. Engineers lowered the weight of the car by using carbon fiber for the roof, tailgate spoiler and mirror housings in addition to employing aluminum in the suspension. The ride height has also been lowered by 20 millimeters.

Toyota HC-CV Unveiled at the Melbourne Auto Show


Toyota has unveiled the HC-CV (Hybrid Camry Concept Vehicle) at the 2009 Melbourne Motor Show.

Next year Toyota Australia is going to begin local production of the Camry Hybrid and to publicize it, Toyota has created the HC-CV for the show. The concept is basically the 2010 Camry Hybrid wish a modified front fascia, new wheels, decals and new leather seats with a wave-like graphic reminiscent of the Hybrid Synergy Drive logo.

2010 Audi A5 and S5 Cabriolet Unveiled


Audi has officially unveiled the 2010 Audi A5 and S5 Cabriolet.

The droptop versions of the A5 and S5 will be in showrooms in Europe in the second quarter of 2009 and in the US this fall. In Europe engines range from the 160 hp 1.8L engine to the top of the line 333 hp supercharged 3.0L V6. There will be less engine options in the US.

2010 Jaguar XFR Starts at $80,000


The Jaguar XF, is definitely one of the best Jaguars in a long time. Jaguar has announced the pricing for the uber-fast version of the XF, the 2010 XFR that was unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year.

The 2010 XFR starts at $80,000 and is powered by a 510 horsepower 5.0L V8. At that price the XFR starts less than the M5 and E63 AMG and has more power than both.

Geneva 09' Preview: Audi TT RS Teasers Released


Audi has released the first teaser images of the TT RS, which is the ultimate TT that will be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show next month.

The TT RS will feature over 300 horsepower from ts turbocharged 2.5L five-cylinder.

It's still up in the air if we'll get it here in the U.S.

Ford's Romeo Plant Produces is 10,000,000th Engine


Ford's Romeo Engine plant has produced its 10 millionth engine. The plant has been producing V8 engines since it was converted from a tractor plant in 1990. In 1990 it produced a 4.6L two-valve V8.

The 10 millionth engine was a 4.6L 3-valve V8 that will find its way under the hood of a 2010 Mustang GT.

Romeo now produces engines for the Ford F-150, Mustang, Shelby GT500, Explorer, E-Series van, Crown Victoria, and the Mercury Grand Marquis.

Saab Files for Bankruptcy and Asks for $1 Billion


GM has announced that Saab has filed bankruptcy in Swedish courts in an effort to reorganize the company and to become independent from GM.

The reorganization of Saab will lead to the design, engineering and manufacturing being concentrated back in Sweden. But in order for this to happen GM needs to secure financing, which is the main issue. The Swedish government already rejected GM's request for cash. According to the Automotive News Saab may need as much as $1 billion to remain sustainable on its own.

Currently Saab plans on launching three new vehicles of the next year and a half, the 9-3X, 9-5 and 9-4X...well that's if Saab can raise the money to sustain itself.

Hyundai has announced that its popular Assurance Program now includes 90 days of payment relief if a buyer is laid off within the first year of vehicle ownership.

The Hyundai Assurance program that runs from Feb 23rd to April 30, 2009 allows buyers to return their vehicles if they lose their jobs within the first year that they own them. The Assurance Plus program takes the step one step further by providing a one-time 90-day payment relief benefit.

The Assurance Program is credited with Hyundai's sales increasing 14.3 percent while almost every other automaker was down last month.

Geneva 09' Preview: Rolls-Royce 200EX Concept Details Leaked


The Daily Telegraph has apparently broken the embargo on the Rolls-Royce 200EX Concept that will be officially unveiled next month at the Geneva Motor Show.

The Rolls-Royce 200EX Concept previews the new smaller Rolls-Royce RR4 that will be released in 2010.

Rolls-Royce chief designer, Ian Cameron, said: "The 200EX has a dynamic edge to its styling and is noticeably less formal than previous models. Its size, style and expression broaden the appeal of the car, making it more appropriate for a wider range of circumstances.

"It is a touring saloon with more than a little panache and perhaps more bravado than one might have expected from Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. What you see is a modern car that is immediately recognisable as a true Rolls-Royce, even from angles that obscure the grille and Spirit of Ecstasy. Design elements such as the elevated prow, long bonnet, short front overhang, sharply raked A-pillar and elegant tail give the 200EX an air of informal presence – powerful but unobtrusive."

The 200EX shares about 20 percent of its parts with the BMW 7 Series and is expected to be powered by an all-new V12 engine. The production version of the RR4 is expected to be unveiled in Frankfurt this fall.

2010 Ford Mustang to Start Under $21,000


Ford has officially announced the pricing for the all-new 2010 Ford Mustang.

Pricing for the 2010 Ford Mustang will start at $20,995 for the base Mustang with the 210 horsepower 4.0L V6. The Mustang undercuts its two main competitors with the Camaro starting at $22,995 and the Challenger SE at $22,545.

Moving up to the Mustang GT with its 315 horsepower 4.6L V8 will cost you $27,995, which is also less than the V8 powered versions of the Camaro and Challenger.

The ultimate Mustang, the GT500 starts at $46,325 and features a 540 horsepower 5.4L V8.

A droptop will add an additional $5k.

BREAKING NEWS: GM Disbands its High-Performance Vehicle Unit!


GM released its Viability Plan yesterday in which the automaker revealed its plans to return the company to profitability. Today GM has announced that it is disbanding its high-performance unit.

This team was responsible for the development of the V-series Cadillacs and the Chevrolet Cobalt SS, HHR SS and a V-8 version of the Colorado.

"All high-performance projects are on indefinite hold," spokesman Vince Muniga said. "The engineers are moving into different areas of the organization, and they will work on Cadillacs, Buicks, Chevrolets and Pontiacs."

There are currently no plans for high-performance versions of future vehicles.

The team could be reinstated once GM is back in the black.

2010 Kia Sorento Teaser Released


Kia has released an official teaser image of the 2010 Kia Sorento that is going to be officially unveiled at the Seoul Auto Show.

The all-new Sorento ditches its old body-on-frame design for a more up to date unibody platform, which will improve the Sorento's ride and handling. The Sorento will be powered by a variety engines including a 2.2L diesel, and a 2.4L and 3.8L gas powered engines. A a 2.7L LPI (Liquefied Petroleum Injection) engine is also expected for the Korean market. A new six-speed automatic transmission is also going to be offered.

The 2010 Kia Sorento will be unveiled in April with sales starting in the US by the end of the year.

Geneva 09' Preview: Hyundai HED-6 Concept Photos Leaked


Hyundai is going to unveil the HED-6 Concept early next month, but we've got the first official photos of the concept.

The concept stays true to the sketch that was released last week. The concept is powered by a turbocharged 175 hp 1.6-liter GDi four-cylinder. The engine is expected to eventually be offered in Hyundai's lineup. The HED-6 is expected to make it into production alongside the Kia Sportage, which means it could eventually become the next Hyundai Tucson in the U.S.

Expect more details soon.

Just as Chrysler submitted its Viability Plan to the U.S. Treasury Department, GM also submitted its own plan which detailed the automaker's plans to turn the company around. In Chrysler's plan the new Chrysler 300 and Jeep Grand Cherokee were revealed. GM also revealed a new model in its plan as well, the production version of the Cadillac CTS Coupe.

In addition to the CTS Coupe, GM also detailed plans for a new dual-clutch transmission, a new range of four-cylinder engines, a production version of the Cadillac Converj and a third generation hybrid system that will be released by 2015.

GM has already received $13.4 billion in loans from the U.S. goverment, but in its viability plan, the automaker asked for an additional $16.6 billion.

Part of GM's restructuring plan is to focus on its core brands; Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC. GM is going to make a decision by the end of March if it will sell or phase out the HUMMER brand. Saab is currently on the market and Saturn is going to be phased out at the end of the current product cycle.

Chrysler LLC submitted its Viability Plan to U.S. Treasury Department today in which the automaker asked for an additional $2 billion in loans. That's in addition to the $4 billion Chrysler has already received and the additional $3 billion it has yet to receive.

For more details about the Chrysler's Viability Plan check out the press release after the jump.

Deep within the 177 page plan there were two photos of the 2010 Chrysler 300 and Jeep Grand Cherokee, which Chrysler is hoping will increase its sales. The 2010 Chrysler 300 receives all new styling that is overall very similar to the current generation. There will be a new more fuel efficient V6 engine and the HEMI V8 will still be offered. The 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee also gets all new styling inside and out. In addition the Grand Cherokee will get a 19 percent fuel economy improvement between the 2010-2012 model years.

2010 Hyundai Equus Pics Unveiled Before Geneva


The first two official images of the 2010 Hyundai Equus have been released ahead of the vehicle's official unveiling at the Geneva Motor Show next month.

The Equus is 7 inches longer, 1.5 inches wider and has a 4.5 inch longer wheelbase than the Genesis. The Equus is powered by the same 3.8L and 4.6L engines as the Genesis. A more powerful 5.0L V8 with over 420 horsepower is expected after the Equus is launched.

It's not known if Hyundai plans on selling the Equus in the U.S.

Geneva 09' Preview: 2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe Unveiled


Mercedes is going to officially unveil the 2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe at the Geneva Motor Show next month. We've seen several spy photos of the new coupe, but here's our first official look at the successor to the CLK.

The E-Class coupe features many of the same design elements as the equally new E-Class sedan combined with a roofline that is similar to the current CLK. It also features no B-pillars and fully retractable side windows. All of these elements help the coupe achieve a Cd of just 0.24, which Mercedes claims makes it the most aerodynamically efficient production car on the market.

The engines range from the diesel E 250 CDI, which is 36 percent more powerful than the previous model while also consuming 17 percent less fuel. The range topping engine is in the E500 with its 388 hp V8 engine.

2010 Mazda3 Starts at $15,045


Mazda has announced the pricing for the all-new 2010 Mazda3.

The new Mazda3 starts at $15,045, which is only $355 more than the 09' model. The 2.0L 4-door Mazda3 i Touring starts at $18,350 and includes Bluetooth, Dynamic Stability Control, and Traction Control. The 4-door Mazda3 s Sport starts at $19,540 and the 5-door starts at $20,030. The Mazda3 s Sport features a 167 hp 2.5L engine, 17-inch alloy wheels, and a Multi-Information Display (MID) with 4.1-inch monochromatic screen.

The fully-loaded Mazda3 s Grand Touring 4-door starts $240 less than the 09' model.

Geneva 09' Preview: BMW Concept 5 Series Gran Turismo Unveiled


BMW is out to create another vehicle that no one has yet to ask for with its 5 Series Gran Turismo Concept, which BMW refers to as a Progressive Activity Sedan.

The concept is neither a sedan, wagon or SUV, instead its a combination of all three vehicles. It's overall shape is similar to the X6, but with a lower ride height. One interesting feature is the two-piece double-jointed tailgate. Just like the X6, the Concept only has room for 4 passengers.

Just like past BMW's concepts, the production model is expected to be very close to what we see here and is expected to be released sometime in 2010.

2010 Porsche Panamera Pricing to Range from $89,800-$132,600


Porsche has announced the pricing for its upcoming 2010 Panamera four-door sedan. Pricing for the luxury sedan will range from $89,800 - $132,600 when it is released this fall.

The base rear-wheel-drive Panamera S with a 400-hp 4.8L V8 will start at $89,800. The all-wheel-drive Panamera 4S with the same 4.8L engine starts at $93,800. The all-wheel-drive Panamera Turbo with its 500-hp twin-turbo 4.8-liter V8 will start at $132,600.

The Panamera is expected in showrooms this October.

2010 Toyota Camry Starts at $20,115


Toyota unveiled a slightly revised 2010 Toyota Camry at the Detroit Auto Show last month and now the pricing for the best-selling car in the U.S. has been announced. The 2010 Toyota Camry starts at $20,115, which includes a handling fee of $720.

The 2010 Camry gets a new front fascia, which includes a new bumper, grille and lower intakes. The base 4-cylinder is now a 2.5L that puts out 169 horsepower in the standard, LE and XLE grades. The 4-cylinder SE puts out 179 horsepower.

Kia chose the 2009 Chicago Auto Show to officially unveil the 2010 Kia Forte, which will replace the Spectra in Kia's lineup.

The forgettable and boring Spectra is being replaced by a more stylish and powerful Forte this summer. The 2010 Forte features Kia's new design language and is powered by either a 156 horsepower 2.0L or a 173 horsepower 2.4L engine. The 2.0L can be mated to either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission. The 2.4L can be mated to either a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic.

Pricing will be announced closer to the on sale date.

2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe Starts at $22,000


Hyundai has announced the pricing for its much anticipated 2010 Genesis Coupe.

The 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe starts at $22,000 for the base model with the 210 horsepower turbocharged 2.0L engine. The model with the 306 horsepower 3.8L V6 starts at $25,000. The base model comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission, 18-inch alloy wheels, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, Bluetooth, AM/FM/XM/MP3/CD audio system with six speakers, A/C, cruise control, power windows, mirrors and locks and Electronic Stability Control with Traction control, ABS, Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Brake Assist.

A 2.0T R-Spec model has just been unveiled with a starting price of $23,750 and comes with Brembo brakes, a stiffened suspension, a Torsen limited-slip differential and 19-inch alloy wheels with summer tires.

Chicago 09': 2010 Acura TSX V6 Debuts...Finally More Power


Honda has finally addressed a big issue with the Acura TSX, a lack of power with a new more powerful engine. It's not the small turbocharged engine from the RDX that would have been fun, but instead the 2010 TSX will now have an optional 3.5L V6.

The 2010 Acura TSX will now be available with a 280 horsepower 3.5L V6, which is most likely the same 3.5L offered in the Accord. When you check off the V6 option box you also get new 18" wheels, a slightly revised front fascia and a retuned suspension.

Unfortunately the TSX is still not available with the SH-AWD system that's offered on the TL and RL.

Acura claims that the 2010 TSX is the first of many changes for the 2010 model year, Acura plans on revising all of its models for the new year.

Chicago 09': 2010 Ford Taurus SHO Unveiled with 365 HP


All the months of speculation can now end...Ford has officially unveiled the 2010 Taurus SHO at the Chicago Auto Show.

The first Taurus SHO debuted in 1989 and after three generations it was killed 10 years later, but now its back and better than ever. The new Taurus SHO builds upon the recently unveiled Taurus, but features much more power thanks to the 365 horsepower EcoBoost V6 under the hood. The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and all-wheel-drive is standard.

The 2010 Ford Taurus SHO will be available this summer wit a starting price of $37,995.

2010 Mazda CX-7 Debuts in Canada with a New Engine


While most of the automotive press is focusing their attention on the Chicago Auto Show, Mazda chose to unveil the refreshed 2010 Mazda CX-7 at the 2009 Canadian International Auto Show.

For the 2010 model year the CX-7 gets a new base engine: a 161 horsepower 2.5L naturally aspirated 4-cylinder, which is the same engine offered in the Mazda6 and 2010 Mazda3. On the outside the CX-7 receives refreshed front and rear fascias and on the inside there new gauges and higher quality materials. A Blind Spot Monitoring system is also available.

Geneva 09' Preview: 2010 Chevy Spark Officially Unveiled


GM has officially unveiled the 2010 Chevy Spark that will have its official unveiling at the Geneva Motor Show next month.

The Chevy Spark draws its inspiration from the Chevy Beat Concept. The five-door hatchback features Chevy's two-tier grille mated to a wedge-like profile. The interior features a motorcycle-inspired instrument cluster that is mounted on the steering column.

The Spark is powered by either a 1.0L or a 1.2L 4-cylinder engine.

Sales will start in Europe in early 2010 with other markets following. Sales will start in the U.S. in 2011.

Chicago 09': 2010 Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson Edition Unveiled


Ford has unveiled the 2010 F-150 Harley-Davidson edition, which marks the 14th Harley-Davidson edition of the F-150.

The exterior of the 2010 F-150 Harley Davidson edition features a bold front fascia and six-bar shaped billet style grille and boasts specialized forged aluminum and Harley-Davidson® chrome badging. The truck is available either in Lava or the same Tuxedo Black. 22-inch wheels are also standard.

The truck is powered by a 5.4L V8 that puts out 320 horsepower and 390 lb-ft. of torque.

Pricing has yet to be announced.

Geneva 09' Preview: Hyundai HED-6 Concept Rendering Released


Hyundai has released an official sketch of the HED-6 Concept that will be officially unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show next month.

The HED-6 was designed at Hyundai's European Design headquarters in Rüsselsheim, Germany and provides a new look for Hyundai's SUVs. The concept features a muscular design with its hexagonal grille, angular style lines and piercing back-swept front headlamps, with the bold look completed by 21-inch, mirror-polished alloy wheels.

The HED-6 is powered by a 175 horsepower 1.6-liter GDi turbocharged engine.

Electric-Powered MINI E Delayed Due to High Demand


BMW had hoped to release the electric powered MINI E early this year, but due to overwhelming demand the release has been delayed until April. BMW has received 1,800 applications for the car, but only plans on producing 450 units. The high number of applications have delayed the process.

Since only 450 units are going to be produced BMW now has to go through the task of notifying most of the interested parties that they will not be receiving the vehicle. In order to qualify for the MINI E, a potential driver must live in Los Angeles, New York or New Jersey. In addition the driver must have a lockable garage that can accept a built-in charger to charge the MINI and lastly they must be willing to pay $850 a month to lease the car for a year.

Breaking News! GM's Bob Lutz to Retire at the End of 2009


GM has announced that Bob Lutz, GM's Vice Chairman of Global Product Development is going to transition into a new role starting on April 1, 2009 as Vice Chairman and Senior Advisor. Lutz's new role will allow him to provide strategic input into GM's global design until his retirement at the end of 2009.

Thomas Stephens will take over as the Vice Chairman of Global Product Development.

GM has released several photos of the first pre-production 2010 Chevy Camaros rolling down the assembly line in Oshawa, Ontario.

The first 2010 Chevy Camaros will start production on March 16th.

Enjoy the photos

Aston Martin V12 Vantage to be Unveiled in Geneva


Aston Martin is set to unveil a new V12 powered Vantage at the Geneva Motor Show next month.

The V12 Vantage is powered by a 6.0L V12 engine that puts out 510 horsepower and 420 lb-ft. of torque. It reaches 0-60 mph in 4.1 seconds and has a top speed of 190 mph.

Aston Martin only plans on producing 1,000 units with deliveries beginning in the third quarter of 2009.

Pricing will be announced at the show.

U.S. Senate Approves Tax Breaks for New Car Shoppers


Yesterday the U.S. Senate voted to make car loan interest and sales taxes on new vehicle purchases tax deductible. The proposal was brought forth by the National Automobile Dealers Association and received a 71-26 vote.

The proposal, which would mark the first time since 1986 that you will be able to write off the interest on your car loan has been added to the economic stimulus bill. The proposal was devised as a way to generate more new car purchases.

If the plan goes through buyers will be able to write off about $1,500 a year on a $25,000 loan.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Takes a Break for 2009


Slow sales of 2008 models and remaining inventory have forced some automakers to not release certain models for the 2009 model year.

Last week it was announced that GM was not going to release a 09' Saturn Astra due to high inventory levels and now Mitsubishi is going to do the same thing with its Lancer Evolution.

According to Mitsubishi spokeswomen Christine Jew, there were no changes planned for the 2009 model year and there are enough 2008 units available to last until the 2010 model is released later this year.

Although there is still a significant number of 2008 Lancer Evos available sales were up 50.9% in 2008.

There are a few minor changes in store for the 2010 Lancer Evolution.

GM Sales Plunge 49 Percent, Ford 40 and Toyota 32 Percent


The sales numbers from last month have been released and they are not good. Nearly every major automaker was down in January compared to January 08'.

Chrysler lead the pact with a 55 percent drop last month. GM's sales were off by 49 percent and Ford declined 40 percent.

Japan's major automakers didn't escape the dismal auto sales with Toyota being down 32 percent, Nissan's sales were down 30 and Honda's were off by 28 percent.

The news wasn't bad for everyone though with Subaru posting an 8 percent increase, its second month in the row of sales increases. Hyundai also posted a 14 percent sales increase. Hyundai attributed its sales improvement to its new program which will take a owner's car back if they lose their job in the first 12 months of ownership.

"This program gets to the root cause of today's economic concerns — fear of job loss," Hyundai regional general manager Peter DiPersia said in a statement.

Audi President Says U.S. Not Ready for the A1 Subcompact


Audi of America President, Johan de Nysschen apparently doesn't think that the U.S. is ready for a premium subcompact from Audi.

Peter Schwarzenbauer, Audi’s worldwide sales and marketing boss, revealed last October that the automaker was reconsidering the A1 for the States, but now it looks like those plans have been stopped.

Audi polled its U.S. dealers about selling the A1 for around $25,500, with many of them saying it would be impossible to sell a small car for that price. Dealers were hoping for a price around $18K.

2009 Honda Fit Recieves Consumer Reports' Top Rating


Consumer Reports' has announced that the 2009 Honda Fit has managed to outscore its competitors, which includes the Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa, Chevrolet Aveo and Suzuki SX4.

Consumer Reports'
tested six subcompacts and small sedans for its March issue. The Honda Fit which is all-new for 2009 received CR's top rating due to its roomy, versatile and flexible interior. CR also noted the Fit's fun to drive character and its good fuel economy.

The Fit and Suzuki SX4 are the only two vehicles in the test that are "recommended" by CR. The Nissan Versa's reliability, which is below average for the sedan kept it from receiving the publication's recommendation. The Chevy Aveo and Toyota Yaris also scored too low in CR's tests.

2010 Mazda3 MPS and Mazda3 i-stop to be Unveiled in Geneva


Mazda has announced the introduction of two new Mazda3 models at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show.

First is the 2010 Mazda3 MPS, which is known as the Mazdaspeed3 in the U.S. The more exciting version of the Mazda3 will feature the same 2.3 DISI turbo engine as the current Mazdaspeed3, but its not yet known if it will feature more power.

The second model to be unveiled is the Mazda3 i-stop is powered by a MZR 2.0 DSI (Direct-injection Spark Ignition) engine and features a fuel-saving stop/start system. The setup yields a 12 percent improvement in city fuel economy than the current Euro-spec. Mazda3.

Cadillac Considering Four-Door Converj


Last month GM unveiled the Cadillac Converj Concept that combined the Volt's powertrain with a much sexier shell.

Although the Converj Concept is a coupe, GM is reportedly considering a four-door version for production. A four-door Converj would keep its coupe-like roofline, meaning it would be dubbed as a four-door coupe. Four-door vehicles simply sell better than two-doors so it would make for a stronger business case. According to Bob Lutz a production version of the Converj will not differ much from the concept, much in the same way that the production Camaro is very similar to its concept.

Even if the Converj is eventually given the green light, don't expect it to be released before 2013. Also who knows how much it would actually cost. The Volt is expected to start around $40,000, so a Cadillac version would definitely cost much more.

Plug-In Toyota Prius Will Average 65 MPG in 2010


Toyota unveiled the all-new 2010 Toyota Prius at the Detroit Auto Show last month. Initially the new Prius will only be offered with the current nickel-metal hydride batteries, but sometime in 2010 a plug-in Prius will be introduced.

According to Bill Reinert, Toyota Motor Sales USA’s national alternative-fuel vehicle manager, the Prius plug-in hybrid has been averaging 65 mpg in combined gas and electic mode testing.

“That is real-world driving,” Reinert told Automotive News. “I ask my guys to drive them as you drive your normal Prius.”

The non plug-in hybrid 2010 Prius gets an estimated combined 50 mpg.

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