March 2009 Archives

Hyundai Genesis Prada Edition Unveiled


Hyundai has unveiled the "Genesis Prada" ahead of its debut in Seoul.

The partnership with Hyundai and Prada has yielded three Genesis sedans painted in matte metallic midnight blue, combined with metal parts in titanium, and the dark matte plated gold replaces the existing shining chrome for the radiator grill, the emblem, and the outer handles. The 20-inch alloy wheels are new and were designed by Prada.

Inside the seats are covered in "saffiano" leather.

Out of the three produced, one will be kept by Hyundai as a milestone of the Genesis history and the other two will be auctioned off for charity.

New York 09' Preview: 2010 Subaru Legacy Unveiled


Subaru has unveiled the all-new 2010 Legacy that will have its official unveiling at the New York Auto Show next week.

The all-new Legacy encompasses styling of the outgoing model combined with the concept that was shown in Detroit. The 2010 Legacy grows an inch longer, 3.5 inches wider and 3 inches taller to make it more competitive with other midsize sedans.

The 2010 Legacy has three engine choices: 170 hp, normally aspirated 2.5L 4-cyl; 265 hp, turbocharged 2.5L 4-cyl (up 22 hp); 256 hp, 3.6L 6-cyl. There are also three transmission options: a six-speed manual, five-speed automatic and a new CVT.

Ford Launches the Ford Advantage Plan to Spark Sales


Just like Hyundai a few months ago and GM will start next month, Ford has also launched a new plan to improve consumer confidence and hopefully spark sales.

The Ford Advantage Plan will cover a buyer's vehicle payments for up to 12 months if there is a job loss (up to $700 a month). In addition Ford is also offering zero percent interest on many of its vehicles. Lastly Ford is also working with dealers throughout the country to assist local charities impacted by the economic downturn.

The Ford Advantage Plan starts today and runs until June 1, 2009.

General Motors has launched a new customer protection package called GM Total Confidence to encourage people to start buying cars again.

The new package is similar to what Hyundai launched a few months ago, although GM's version goes a bit further to help potential buyers. The payment protection plan will pay your car payment up to nine months if you lose your job within the first two years of vehicle ownership ($500 max per month). The residual value of the buyer's vehicle is also protected and one year of OnStar is also included.

The GM Total Confidence plan is available for vehicles purchased between April 1 - April 30, 2009.

R.I.P. Hyundai Entourage Dead by the End of the Year


Hyundai's CEO John Krafcik recently revealed some of Hyundai's future product plans at a press conference.

Hyundai is going to fully focus on building fuel efficient cars and crossovers. But unfortunately the plans also revealed that the slow-selling Entourage minivan will be dead by the end of the year.

"We weren't a big player to begin with, and the segment continues to shrink," said Hyundai spokesman Chris Hosford to Automotive News.

VW Officially Changes the Rabbit Back to the Golf


As it was rumored last week, VW has officially changed the Rabbit name once again back to the Golf for the U.S. market.

2009 will be the last year that VW's popular hatchback will be called the Rabbit. For the 2010 model year the Golf name will return on an all-new model.

"The Golf is an iconic nameplate for the Volkswagen Brand and it is known throughout the world," said Mark Barnes, COO, Volkswagen of America, Inc. "The Golf is Volkswagen's best selling global nameplate with more than 26 million units sold in over 120 countries."

The 6th generation Golf will have its U.S. debut at the New York Auto Show and be on sale this fall.

U.S. Government: Chevy Volt Won't Save GM


In its Viability Summary of GM, the U.S. government stated, "While the Volt holds promise, it will likely be too expensive to be commercially successful in the short-term."

The Volt, " is currently projected to be much more expensive than its gasoline-fueled peers and will likely need substantial reductions in manufacturing cost in order to become commercially viable."

The Chevy Volt is expected to be released by the end of 2010 with a starting price of $40,000, which will likely hurts its volume. In the government's audit of GM's restructuring plan, the government stated that GM spent too much time developing the Volt to go against the Prius. Instead the government stated that GM should have been using the time to focus on building better small cars.

GM's Rick Wagoner to Recieve $20M Retirement Package


This past weekend the Obama administration asked GM's CEO Rick Wagoner to step down as part of its restructuring plan.

The Treasury Department has banned GM from issuing any severance packages to its executives, but that doesn't mean that Wagoner can't receive millions in retirement benefits. Wagoner has worked for GM for nearly 32 years and according to documents Wagoner could receive a $20.2 million pension package.

According to GM spokeswoman Julie M. Gibson, most of Wagoner's benefits will be paid out as an annuity over the next five years. But if GM is forced to file bankruptcy, Wagoner could get a lot less, since less than $1 million of his pension package is guaranteed.

Acura's X6 Fighter Officially Dubbed the ZDX


Acura has officially announced the ZDX name for its upcoming "four-door sport coupe" prototype that will be unveiled at the 2009 New York Auto Show.

"The ZDX prototype is unlike anything you have ever seen before from Acura," said Jeff Conrad, vice president, Acura sales. "The prototype showcases a new level of luxury, style and refinement for Acura and speaks volumes towards our commitment to advancing the brand."

The production version of the ZDX...Acura's X6-fighter will be released this fall.

Chrysler Unveils the 2009 Dodge Challenger SE Rallye


Chrysler has unveiled the 2009 Dodge Challenger SE Rallye, which features a new five-speed automatic mated to the 3.5L V6.

The Dodge Challenger SE Rallye features dual body stripes, chromed fuel door, deck lid spoiler, and 18-inch aluminum wheels.

The new five-speed automatic replaces the archaic four-speed automatic on the V6 equipped Challengers.

The 2009 Dodge Challenger SE Rallye starts at $26,490 (including $725 destination).

President Obama has just finished his press conference regarding the government's decision on the viability plans that were submitted by GM and Chrysler on February 17th after they received $17.4 billion in loans.

“Neither goes far enough to warrant the substantial new investments that these companies are requesting,” Obama said. “They must produce plans that would give the American people confidence in their long-term prospects for success.”

Obama warned the two automakers that they may be forced into a quick bankruptcy. The quick bankruptcy would be quick and could last for as little as 30 days.

"We also cannot continue to excuse poor decisions. And we cannot make the survival of our auto industry dependent on an unending flow of tax dollars. These companies -- and this industry -- must ultimately stand on their own, not as wards of the state."

BREAKING NEWS: GM's Rick Wagoner Steps Down!


It's official Rick Wagoner has stepped down from his post as the CEO of GM.

As a request from the government, Wagoner is going to be replaced by Fritz Henderson immediately. The Obama administration requested Wagoner's departure as part of the rescue plan. Wagoner was named president and CEO in 2000, and assumed the role of chairman in 2003.

Fritz Henderson will assume the role immediately. He was previously vice chairman and chief financial officer.

Cadillac Reportedly Pulling Out of Half of Europe


There's more bad news for Cadillac fans in Europe. Yesterday it was reported that GM had stopped plans to introduce a much needed V6 turbodiesel for Cadillac in Europe. Today it looks like GM has decided to pull Cadillac out of half of Europe.

GM has decided to halt Cadillac sales in half of Europe following the collapse of its regional distributor, Kroymans. The issue obviously has to do with the collapse of auto sales.

“We will take it down to less than a dozen markets,” a GM Europe source told Automotive News Europe.

As of right now Cadillacs are sold in 25 European countries.

2010 VW Golf GTD Unveiled with 170 HP and 44 MPG


VW has unveiled the Golf GTD, which is the equivalent of a sporty GTI, but with a diesel engine.

The VW Golf GTD is powered by a 170 horsepower diesel engine that can be mated to either a 6-speed manual or an optional 6-speed DSG transmission, just like the GTI. It accelerates from 0-62 mph in 8.1 seconds, has a top speed of 137 mph and uses just 5.3 litres fuel per 100 kilometres (44 mpg US).

The Golf GTD also features a sport suspension and 17-inch alloy wheels. The designs of the front bumper, the radiator grille and the headlights are also identical to those of the GTI.

Tesla has officially unveiled the Model S, which can seat up to five adults and two children and can travel up to 300 miles on a single charge.

The Model S will be the world's first mass produced electric vehicle. It has a range of 300 miles and only takes 45 minutes to recharge. It can also be recharged from any 110V, 220V or 440V outlet. On a 220V outlet it will take 4 hours to recharge. It also costs as little as $4 to fully charge. Replacement batteries are expected to cost less than $5k.

The Model S is powered by a liquid-cooled 9-inch motor, floor-mounted battery pack and a single-speed gearbox. The powertrain accelerates the Model S from 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds and has a top speed of 120 mph.

The exciting news is that it starts at after the $7,500 tax break the Model S starts at $49,900.

More than 7,600 GM Workers Take Buyout Offer


General Motors announced today that 7,631 United Auto Workers have accepted early retirement and buyout offers. The buyout will allow GM to cut costs and hire new, less expensive workers.

"This is a significant milestone of progress towards our restructuring plan," said GM Spokesman Tony Sapienza. "There is more work to do, but this will help us become leaner and stronger."

More than half of the workers accepting the buyouts are located in Michigan.

According to GM most of the workers that accepted the offer were eligible for retirement, meaning they had been employed by GM for over 30 years. Those workers were already eligible for a $37,000/ year pension plus the buyout package that included $20,000 in cash and a $25,000 voucher toward a new GM vehicle.

Those workers that accepted the offer must leave the company by April 1st.

Mazda is Working on a Diesel to Go Head to Head with Hybrids


Mazda announced today that it is working on a new diesel engine that will be as fuel-efficient as some hybrids in 2011 as part of its plans to improve fuel mileage without the aid of expensive electrical systems.

Mazda has set a target of raising its global car fleet's fuel economy by 30 percent by 2015. It plans on doing so by relying on advances in internal combustion engines, automatic transmissions and through weight reduction.

The diesel engine that Mazda is working on is a 2.0L engine that would be as fuel efficient as a 660cc microcar or a mild-hybrid.

"We believe that improving today's conventional engines at a low cost is the most effective way to get fuel-efficient cars to proliferate," R&D Chief Seita Kanai told reporters in Tokyo.

According to Toyota tighter emissions regulations in the future could mean that the costs to clean diesel emissions from engines will be near or more expensive than gasoline-hybrid technology.

Kanai states that Mazda's diesel technology will cost less due to its proprietary single-nanotechnology, which reduces the use of precious metals in emission cleaning catalysts, and a new diesel particulate filter that means there will be no the need for expensive after treatment parts.

Mazda also plans on reducing the weight of its vehicles by 10 percent after 2011 and another 10 percent or more after 2016.

It's been rumored for a while that BMW has been working on a smaller roadster that will be dubbed the Z2 and according to AutoBild, BMW executives have now given the small roadster the green light.

The Z2 will be based on the 1 series and will be offered as a roadster and a small coupe, just like the previous Z4. The car was developed under BMW's Project i team and will be a front-engine, rear wheel drive car with a target weight of 2,200 lbs. Powertrain options are expected to be powered by a 1.6L turbocharged engine, an extended range hybrid, and an all electric motor with lithium-ion batteries.

A concept version is expected this fall at the Frankfurt Motor Show and the production version is expected in 2012 or 2013.

GM Kills Plans for a Diesel Engine for Cadillac in Europe


Cadillac has been struggling to gain traction in Europe. A much needed diesel engine, which would have made Cadillac more competitive in Europe has now been canceled.

Cadillac was expected to receive a 2.9-liter V6 turbodiesel that was developed with and was to be manufactured by Italian diesel-engine expert VM Motori S.p.A. According to division spokesperson Joann Krell the diesel has been "indefinitely delayed." A source states that the design and development of the engine has been completed.

The cancellation of the V6 diesel now effectively means that Cadillac is going to have a hard time increasing market share in Europe, since 54 percent of all light vehicles sold in Western Europe are diesel powered. Currently the only diesel powered Cadillac is the slow selling front-wheel-drive BLS.

Hyundai BLUE-WILL Concept Headed to Seoul Motor Show


Hyundai is going to unveil the BLUE-WILL concept car at the Seoul Motor Show next week.

Hyundai's new plug-in hybrid concept car features a 1.6L direct-injection engine, which is mated to a CVT and a 100kw electric motor. The concept also features lithium-ion batteries that are located under the rear seat.

The concept also features dye-sensitive solar cells, which can generate power for the batteries without impeding visibility.

Audi to Unveil Audi TT RS Roadster at Leipzig Motor Show


Audi has announced the world premiere of the Audi TT RS Roadstar at the Leipzig Motor Show next week.

The Audi TT RS Roadster is powered by a 340 horsepower turbocharged 2.5L engine that propels the car from 0-62 mph in 4.7 seconds. It features all-wheel-drive and an ungraded suspension with high-performance brakes.

The Audi A4 allroad quattro, Audi A5 Cabriolet, S5 Cabriolet and Audi R8 5.2 FSI quattro are also going to have their premieres at the show.

VW Kills the Rabbit Nameplate...Again!


Over 30 years ago, the successor of the VW Beetle, the Golf was dubbed the Rabbit in the US. So while the rest of the world had the Golf, we had the the same vehicle as the Rabbit. Eventually the Rabbit name was killed due to quality issues with the first generation, and we got the Golf in the US.

Three years ago VW decided to revive the Rabbit nameplate, "Volkswagen customers want a relationship with their cars. Names like The Thing, Beetle, Fox, and Rabbit support this."

Well the sales proved that US customers didn't really care about the Rabbit nameplate, so it looks like its back to Golf for the next generation.

"The car will be called the Golf again in North America," Jochen Sengpiehl, executive director of Volkswagen marketing, recently told Motor Trend.

Toyota's New Low-Cost Hybrid Will be Based off the Yaris


After weeks of speculation about a new low-cost Toyota hybrid, it's finally been confirmed that Toyota is indeed working on a new cheaper hybrid that will fit in below the Prius.

The new hybrid is going to use the same Hybrid Synergy drivetrain as the new Prius installed in the Yaris platform. This is obviously an answer to the Honda Insight that is cheaper than the Prius. Honda is also planning a hybrid Fit, so the new Yaris-based hybrid would also go head to head with that vehicle.

Toyota's new cheaper hybrid could be on the market by 2011 at the earliest.

Kia Unveils Forte LPI Hybrid in South Korea


Kia has officially unveiled its first mass production hybrid model that is based on the new Forte sedan, the Forte LPI hybrid.

The Forte LPI hybrid is powered by a mild-hybrid system that features a 1.6L engine mated to an electric motor. The Liquefied Petroleum Injected (LPI) engine generates 114 hp and the electric motor generates an extra 20 hp. The hybrid system is mated to a continuously variable transmission and achieves 41 mpg. The Forte LPI hybrid is also the world's first hybrid to use a lithium polymer (Li–poly) battery.

It's unlikely that we'll see an LPI hybrid from Kia anytime soon in the US, but we can expect a Forte hybrid with a gas powered engine at some point.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has launched a new roof strength rating system and has chosen to put 12 small SUVs up to the test.

More than 10,000 people are killed a year in rollovers and SUVs rank higher compared to cars and minivans.

In the Institute's roof strength test, a metal plate is pushed against 1 side of a roof at a constant speed. To earn a good rating, the roof must withstand a force of 4 times the vehicle's weight before reaching 5 inches of crush. This is called a strength-to-weight ratio. For an acceptable rating, the minimum required strength-to-weight ratio is 3.25. A marginal rating value is 2.5. Anything lower than that is poor.

Only 4 of the small SUVs earned the top rating of good: VW Tiguan, Subaru Forester, Honda Element and Jeep Patriot. the VW Tiguan had the strongest roof out of all the SUVs tested. The Suzuki Grand Vitara, Chevrolet Equinox, Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue, and Mitsubishi Outlander are rated acceptable. Roofs on the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape are marginal, and the Kia Sportage received a poor rating.

Sixth-Generation VW Golf GTI Headed to the US this Summer


VW has announced that the sixth-generation of the iconic VW Golf GTI will be hitting dealerships in Germany in a few days. The more exciting news is that the new GTI will be available in North America by late summer.

The Mark VI builds upon the successes of the current generation with slightly more aggressive styling and a front-end similar to the Scirocco. The GTI is powered by a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder with 210 horsepower (up 10). It reaches 0-62 mph in 6.9 seconds. The GTI is available with either a six-speed manual or the six-speed dual clutch transmission (DSG). The DSG equipped GTI achieves the same 0-62 mph time as the manual.

Rolls Royce Confirms 500+ HP V12 Engine for RR4


Rolls Royce unveiled the 200EX concept at the Geneva Moor Show earlier this month and now has officially confirmed that the production version, dubbed the RR4 will be powered by a new 6.6L V12 engine that will have "upwards of 500bhp."

The V12 engine will be mated to a new ZF 8-speed transmission.

CEO Tom Purves confirmed the details at a press event in New York where the 200EX is currently starting a world tour. Purves claims that the RR4 will be more involving and dynamic for those owners that would rather drive than be driven.

Upcoming Toyota RWD Coupe to Revive Celica Name?


The latest reports claim that Toyota and Subaru's on/off again jointly developed sports car is back on. According to L'Automobile Toyota is going to revive the Celica name for the Toyota version of the coupe.

L'Automobile claims that Thierry Dombreval, Toyota's VP of sales and marketing in France released the details on the name of the new coupe. No other source has released any details, so we'll have to wait and see if Toyota is actually going to revive the Celica.

Infiniti M Hybrid to be Released in 2010


Nissan/ Infiniti has been slow to jump on the hybrid bandwagon with the firm's only hybrid being the Altima hybrid, which borrows its hybrid components from Toyota. Well according to a report by the Nikkei business daily in Japan, Nissan/Infiniti is going to release its first in-house hybrid in 2010 as the Infiniti M hybrid.

The hybrid system that will be offered in the Infiniti M differs from conventional hybrid systems since it will be powered by lithium-ion batteries that have more power and quicker recharge times. In addition the hybrid system features one electric motor and two clutches that allows both the engine and electric motor to power the rear wheels at the same time. The hybrid version of the M is expected to be more performance oriented.

Nissan plans to extend its hybrid offerings to other Infiniti models and sports cars.

Lamborghini Estoque Four-Door Reportedly Killed


Autocar is reporting that Lamborghini has shelved plans to build the Estoque four-door concept, an apparent victim of the current economic situation.

Maurizio Reggiani, Lamorghini's head of research and development stated "The timing and market conditions are just not right for an additional model line."

The Estoque concept was a four door, four seat concept that featured a front/mid engine layout with standard all-wheel-drive.

According to Reggiani, the Estoque has been put on hold for the time being, which means that the project could be restarted once the economy improves.

Chevy Camaro Convertible Delayed and Z28 Canceled


The 2010 Chevy Camaro is finally starting to roll off the production line, but there are rumors that two of the hotly anticipated variants are in jeopardy.

The Detroit Bureau is reporting that the Camaro convertible and Z28 variants are being delayed and may eventually be canceled due to the budget crisis hitting GM and its many suppliers. The main issue with the Camaro convertible has to do with the collapse of the German company that was supposed to supply it. It was originally planned that the convertible would launch about a year after the coupe, but since GM now has to seek a new supplier, the convertible could be delayed even further.

As for the Z28, it may just cost too much to produce according to Gene Stefanyshyn, Camaro’s Vehicle Line Executive. Stefanyshyn estimated that it would cost GM approximately $50 million to bring it to market. The Z28 would have featured well over 500 horsepower and would have been the halo car for the Camaro lineup.

Buick and Jaguar Rank Highest in 2009 J.D. Power Study


J.D. Power and Associates has released its 2009 Vehicle Dependability Study.

This year Buick and Jaguar tied for the top spot dethroning Lexus from the top spot, which its held for the past 14 years. Lexus came in at no. 3 followed by Toyota at no. 4 and Mercury at no. 5.

“Buick has ranked among the top 10 nameplates each year since the study was last redesigned in 2003, while Jaguar has moved rapidly up the rankings,” said David Sargent, vice president of automotive research at J.D. Power and Associates.

Land Rover, Volkswagen and Suzuki received the lowest ratings in the survey.

Production BMW 5 Series GT Unveiled via BMW TV


BMW unveiled the 5 Series Gran Turismo concept at the Geneva Motor Show now we have our first unofficial look at the production version.

As expected the production version remains mostly true to the concept, but with a much more toned down interior. Expect the production version to have its official world debut sometime later this year.

According to Auto Express the once loved MR2 is making a comeback, but not as the small mid-engined roadster like the last generation. Instead Toyota is going to apply the MR2 name to a new performance hybrid that would be similar to the upcoming Honda CR-Z.

The small coupe would feature rear-wheel-drive, a paddleshift gearbox and a specially developed version of the Prius’s hybrid powertrain.

Toyota executive vice president Masatami Takimoto recently told Auto Express: “We are aware of the fondness with which the MR2 is held in the UK and Europe, and are developing a small hybrid sports car.

“We have set a tough price point (expected to be around £20,000), as it will be easier to sell if it is affordable. It has to be fun to drive, too, which means the hybrid set-up must be different to the Prius’s, with greater responsiveness.”

It's also rumored that the revived MR2 hybrid will draw styling cues from the Toyota FT-HS sports car concept.

2010 Lincoln MKZ Starts at $34,965


Ford has announced the pricing for the redesigned 2010 Lincoln MKZ.

The 2010 Lincoln MKZ now features more standard features and starts at $34,965. The MKZ now comes standard with Bridge Weir leather seats, genuine wood trim, heated and cooled front seats, the popular SYNC entertainment and connectivity system, a reverse sensing system and driver multi-adjustable power seat.

The MKZ is also available with the Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert.

"Customers universally are surprised when they get into a competing vehicle and find out that they have to pay more for luxury features, such as premium leather seats," said Jonathan Richards, Lincoln MKZ Marketing manager. "That's what sets the MKZ apart from the competition. It comes standard with all the features you would expect from a world class entry-level luxury sedan."

The front-wheel-drive MKZ starts at $34,965 and the all-wheel-drive version starts at $36,855.

Scion to Unveil a Micro-Subcompact in New York


After much speculation, Scion has officially announced the introduction of a micro-subcompact concept car at the 2009 New York International Auto Show.

The concept is supposed to represent a new segment for the brand and is largely expected to be a Scion badged version of the Toyota iQ. It's also expected that the production version will be dubbed the Scion tD.

Stay tuned...

Audi RS3 May Get the 340 HP Engine from the TT RS


It's being rumored that Audi engineers are working on an even more powerful A3, dubbed the RS3 that could borrow the 340 horsepower engine from the 2010 TT RS.

Michael Dick a member of Audi's technical development management board told Autovisie Magazine that an RS3 could be in the future and could be powered by the direct injection turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder that powers the TT RS and propels it from 0-62 mph in 4.6 seconds.

More Photos of the 2010 Kia Sorento Hit the Web


Kia World has managed to get some more photos of the 2010 Kia Sorento.

The all-new Sorento ditches its old body-on-frame design for a unit-body platform. In the US engine choices should include a 2.4L 4-cyl and a 3.8L V6 mated to six-speed transmissions.

The all-new Sorento is expected to have its world debut at the Seoul Motor Show and its official US debut will be at the New York Auto Show shortly after.

In 2008 Nissan confirmed that the Maxima would receive a 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel, that was developed by Renault for the US market. The original plans saw the introduction of the diesel-powered Maxima being released later this year. But now it looks like those plans have either been delayed or scrapped altogether.

A Nissan spokesman told AutoObserver there is "no official word yet," regarding Nissan's maintaining the U.S. launch for diesel-powered 2010 Maxima. The spokesman would also not deny that it was being in fact delayed or that if it was actually being canceled.

"We're reviewing our mid-term product plans right now [some to be delayed, some potentially canceled], but nothing in concrete as yet," the spokesman added, saying the company's U.S. arm "should have some clarity in the coming weeks."

Other automakers have also recently announced plans to delay or cancel their own diesel programs in the US. Acura has delayed, possibly indefinitely the diesel-powered TSX. GM also announced plans to discontinue development on a new V8 diesel that was to be used in light trucks and SUVs.

Chrysler Chief Executive Bob Nardelli is asking for another $1.5 billion from the US government to fund the company's financial arm, which would allow for more loans to individuals that haven't been able to qualify.

Due to the credit crunch it has become increasingly harder for individuals to receive financing, since banks are now requiring better credit scores and higher down payments.

In January the US government gave $1.5 billion to Chrysler Financial, which allowed Chrysler to subsidize zero percent interest loans on new vehicles.

Acura has released a few teaser images of its new crossover concept that is going to be unveiled at the New York Auto Show.

The crossover concept features styling that is very similar to the controversial BMW X6. That means its most likely a four-door coupe-like crossover.

Expect more details soon....

2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe Sales Are "Simply Smoking"


The 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe has been one of highly anticipated cars for this year. With a choice of a turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder or a 300+ hp 3.8L V6 and standard RWD the Genesis Coupe has a lot of enthusiast appeal. According to Hyundai USA CEO John Krafcik early sales are "simply smoking."

According to Krafcik early sales of the Genesis Coupe have been better than the luxurious Genesis sedan, with significantly less marketing. The 2.0T have just begun to hit dealerships, so its too early to see what the product split will be like. But among the 3.8L models, over 50% leaving the lots are the Grand Touring models. The Grand Touring model starts at $28,250 with a manual transmission and $29,750 with an automatic gearbox (including a $750 destination fee).

It will be interesting to see what happens when the $24,000 performance-tuned 2.0T R-Spec model starts arriving. The entry-level 2.0T starts at $22,000.

For years Toyota and Honda have been able to boast that their vehicles retain their value longer than their many of their competitors due to their higher perceived quality, but times are changing.

At the end of 2008 a three-year old Toyota was worth 46.5% of its value compared to 50.5% two years earlier. Critics are suggesting that the reason Toyota's residuals are dropping is due to a growing awareness of quality issues. Large SUV and truck values have been hit very hard across the industry and Toyota is no exception with values dropping from over 60% to 45.4%. Tundra residual values have managed to drop from 59.5% a year ago to 40.1%. Tundra residual values are still higher than the Silverado and F-150 at 39.8% and 32.2% respectively.

The main issue for automakers is that residual values are tied to lease rates. Monthly payments for leased vehicles are largely based on their expected residual value. When a vehicle loses more of its value than expected, the automaker has to eat that loss.

VW Will Sell Two Versions of the Polo in the US in 2011


VW is planning on selling two versions of its compact Polo in the US, a sedan that is smaller than the current Jetta and a four-door hatchback that will be roomier than the model unveiled in Geneva earlier this month.

Volkswagen Group of America CEO Stefan Jacoby claims that both versions will be designed specifically for the U.S. Jacoby recently spoke with the Automotive News and stated that although the new Polo is larger than its predecessor, its still too small for the US market. The US version will be taller and have a larger wheelbase.

"It's more like a cross between a compact minivan and a hatchback. In other words, it's more like the Honda Fit," Jacoby said.

Jacoby also said the Polo must be priced between $13,000 and $15,000 in the United States. Sales could start in 2011.

GM is recalling 1,738 2009 HUMMER H3T models to fix an issue with the fuel tank.

The front support strap that holds the fuel tank in place could fracture, which would mean that the tank would only be supported by the rear strap and the stone shield. If left in this condition the rear strap and stone shield could also break causing the fuel tank could fall off the truck.

Dealers have been instructed to install a new-design fuel tank front support strap, free of charge.

VW GTI-R Rumored to Debut in Frankfurt


According to CAR, VW is rumored to be prepping an even hotter version of the GTI, dubbed the GTI-R.

The R version of the GTI will not use the 3.2L V6 from the R32, instead a turbocharged four-cylinder with around 266 horsepower, which could be the same engine in the Audi S3. All that power will be mated to an all-wheel-drive system. To make up for the added weight of the awd system, VW will also seek to cut the weight by removing some features.

The GTI-R is rumored for an unveiling at the Frankfurt Motor Show this fall and a release sometime in early 2010.

GM May Bring the Opel Insiginia to the US as a Cadillac


Now that Saturn is all but dead in a few years it looks like GM is trying to figure out to bring its impressive Opel Insignia to the US. Originally the next-generation Saturn Aura would have been our version of the Insignia, but instead the sedan could come here as a Buick or Cadillac.

Automotive News is reporting that the Insignia is set to hit US dealerships under the Buick brand as a replacement for the discontinued Regal sedan. But the fact that the Insignia shares the same front-wheel-drive platform as the next-generation LaCrosse, it may not make much sense. Instead GM may bring the Insignia to the US under the Cadillac brand, which could feature both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive versions.

2010 Kia Sorento Revealed..Sort of


Kia World has posted the first official photos of the 2010 Kia Sorento.

The overall styling of the Sorento is in-line with the styling of the new Forte and Optima. It's more stylish than the last generation and is expected to now have room for seven passengers. The Sorento is expected to have its public debut at the Seoul Motor Show next month. In the US it will be powered by a 170 hp 2.4L 4-cyl and a 260 HP 3.8L V6.

The Sorento will most likely have its US debut at the New York Auto Show.

Toyota Seeks $2.1 Billion in Loans


It is being reported that Toyota is seeking $2.1 billion in loans from the Japanese government to help its finance arm (Toyota Financial Services) to cut costs.

"Toyota is not in danger. It's out to get the lowest price for funding that the strength of its credit can get," said Yasuaki Iwamoto, an analyst at Okasan Securities. "On the balance sheet, it doesn't matter if the funds are private or public."

Mio Sugito, an official at Toyota's business management group, said that Toyota is in talks with the Japan Bank for International Cooperation.

Sugito also stated that Toyota may seek assistance from other countries.

It's also being rumored that Honda is going to be seeking loans as well, a total of $100 million to loan to U.S. customers.

Honda and Toyota sales in the U.S. were both down last month, with both automakers posting declines over 30 percent.

VW has unveiled the Polo BlueMotion Concept at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show.

The Polo BlueMotion is powered by a 1.2L TDI three-cylinder with common rail injection. Combined with start-stop technology and regenerative braking, the Polo BlueMotion gets 71.3 mpg (US). That effectively makes the Polo BlueMotion the most fuel-efficient passenger internal combustion car available.

The Polo BlueMotion is expected sometime in 2010.

Aston Martin is going to officially unveil the One-77 at the Geneva Motor Show. The One-77 is a showcase of Aston Martin style and performance.

The One-77 is powered by a 7.3L naturally-aspirated V12 engine with upwards of 700 horsepower. The engine is mated to a six-speed transmission that is controlled via column mounted paddle shifters. It also features Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires (255/35 ZR20 front, 335/30 ZR20 rear) that were developed specifically for the One-77.

Aston Martin expects a 0-60 mph time of 3.5 seconds and a top speed over 200 mph.

Infiniti hit the Geneva Motor Show head on today with the unveiling of the Essence Concept, which combines sexy coupe bodywork with a "green" drivetrain.

The Essence Concept is a front-engined, two-seater. It features a 3.7L V6 engine mated to an electric motor that has been dubbed the 3D Motor. The combined output is 592 horsepower ( 434 from the V6 and 158 from the electric motor).

The styling of the Essence Concept draws cues from the current Infiniti lineup, but in a much sexier way. The assymetrical two-seat interior features a driver focused interior with two distinct cocoons. The driver's side is black, while the passenger's "cocoon" is an earthy red.

The EPA has officially rated the 2010 Toyota Prius at 50 mpg combined fuel-economy rating.

According to Toyota the all-new Prius offers more power, room, performance and better mileage. The 2010 Prius is powered by a 1.8L 4-cylinder that puts out 98 hp. Combined with the electric motor, the Prius puts out a total of 134 horsepower, which is 24 more than the last generation.

For the first time the Prius offers three different driving modes. EV Mode allows driving on the battery alone for up to a mile. Power Mode increases throttle sensitivity, giving the Prius a slightly sportier feel. Eco Mode helps drivers achieve better gas mileage.

The 2010 Prius will be on sale next month.

Stay tuned for the pricing.

Ford has announced the pricing for the 2010 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan at $19,995 and $21,205, respectively.

The front-wheel-drive Fusion S features a 2.5L four-cylinder engine and starts at $19,995. The top Fusion Sport with its 263 HP 3.5L V6 starts at $25,825 for the FWD models and $27,675 for the AWD model.

The new Fusion Hybrid starts at $27,995 and gets 41 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway.

GM is set to unveil two more versions of the Volt at the Geneva Motor Show. In Europe the Volt will be called the Ampera and sold under the Opel and Vauxhall brands.

The Ampera is essentially the same thing as the Chevy Volt although with a bit more style on the front and rear of the car.

The Ampera will enter production in late 2011.

Geneva 09': VW Unveils the 2010 Polo


VW has unveiled the 2010 Polo, which will be officially unveiled tomorrow at the Geneva Motor Show.

The all-new Polo looks very similar to the larger Golf and is larger than the outgoing model. Despite the fact that the new Polo is larger, the overall body weight has been reduced by 7.5 percent. The new Polo is also expected to attain the highest 5-star EuroNCAP rating.

Seven different engines will be offered on the Polo, four gas and three diesel, five of which are new.

Sales of the new Polo will begin at the end of June in Germany and the rest of Europe shortly afterwards. VW has also announced that the Polo will eventually be offered in the US, possibly as early as 2010.

Ford is going to unveil the iosis MAX Concept at the Geneva Motor Show tomorrow.

The iosis MAX Concept previews the design of Ford's next generation global C-car family, which includes the Focus and C-Max. Ford has already announced that the next-generation Focus will be the same model sold in Europe and North America. The C-Max MPV could also eventually make it to the US.

The concept is powered by a 1.6L EcoBoost four-cylinder that puts out 178 horsepower thanks to turbocharging and direct injection. The engine is mated to a dual-clutch transmission. This engine could eventually makes its way into the next Focus.

Toyota-Subaru RWD Coupes Reportedly Still on Track


Last week it was reported that the upcoming Toyota-Subaru (Toyobaru) rear-wheel-drive coupes had been put on hold. According to PR sources in Japan those reports are false and the coupes are still on track for a 2011 launch.

The joint collaboration between Toyota and Subaru is going to yield a coupe for each brand that will use a Subaru platform that will be converted to RWD. The car's will also feature Subaru's 2.0L boxer engine. The coupes will have different styling.

It was originally planned that the coupes would be built by Subaru at a new plant in Oizumi, but the current economic crisis mean that the cars will be built at Subaru's long-serving Gunma main plant.

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