May 2009 Archives

2010 Cadillac SRX Starts at $34,155


Cadillac has announced the pricing for the all-new 2010 Cadillac SRX crossover.

The new SRX will be at dealerships this summer with a starting price of $34,155. For 2010 the SRX will be offered with a choice of two direct-injected V6 engines. Either a 260-hp 3.0L or a 300-hp turbocharged 2.8L. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

Additionally Cadillac is also going to release the CTS Sport Wagon later this summer. The CTS wagon will feature the same 3.0L V6 as the SRX and get an estimated 28 mpg on the highway.

Honda Fit Hybrid to be Released by Fall 2010


According to the newest reports Honda is set to release the hybrid version of its popular Fit by the fall of 2010, which is about a year and a half earlier than was originally planned.

Honda had previously announced plans to release three new hybrids by 2012, following the release of the Insight earlier this year. The production version of the much-anticipated CR-Z will be released sometime early next year followed by the Fit hybrid and then eventually an all-new Civic hybrid.

The Insight was launched in Japan in February and has become the first hybrid to ever hold the top sales spot in Japan. Japan's Nikkei is reporting that the Fit hybrid will start around 1.5 million yen ($15,800) with annual sales of over 50,000 vehicles.

Mitsubishi has announced the introduction of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X FQ-400 for the uk market.

The new Lancer flagship is now the fastest version with 403 horsepower and 387 lb-ft. of torque pumping out of its 2.0L MIVEC engine. Mitsubishi estimates that the FQ-400 will reach 0-62 mph in 3.8 seconds and have a top speed of 155 mph. All that power is put to the ground through Mitsubishi's Super-All Wheel Control (S-AWC) four-wheel-drive system.

The FQ-400 also features a wider track, lowered suspension and lightweight 18-inch alloy wheels.

The most powerful Evolution X will be released in the UK next month with a starting price of £49,999.

New York's Time Square is Now Off Limits to Cars


New York's Time Square and Herald Square just got a little better thanks to a new ban on cars entering the area.

Sections of Broadway from 47th to 42nd streets and 35th to 33rd streets have been closed to cars to help reduce pollution, traffic and pedestrian accidents.

To celebrate the newly created pedestrian mall in Times Square a movie is going to be shown on a giant screen on Monday. There will also be street performers present.

Honda S2000 Successor to Get AWD and Hybrid Powertrain?


The Honda S2000 has been on the market since the 2000 model year, but at the end of this year we will have to say goodbye to Honda's only sports car. Honda has announced that the 2009 model year will be the last.

Japan's Best Car is reporting that in addition to the production version of the CR-Z hybrid coupe, Honda is also working on a larger, more powerful coupe that would essentially act as the replacement for the S2000. According to Best Car the replacement would be a 2+2 coupe that would feature Honda's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system (SH-AWD) instead of the current rear-wheel-drive setup.

In addition to the 2+2 setup and SH-AWD system, it is being reported that the coupe will feature a hybrid system similar to that in the Civic and Insight hybrids.

2010 BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo Officially Unveiled


BMW has officially released the specs and more photos of the 2010 5 Series Gran Turismo.

The 2010 BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo doesn't stray far from the concept version that was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year. It basically gets smaller wheels and a more production friendly interior. According to BMW the 5 Series GT "combines elegance, space, comfort and variability in truly unique style." The design features a coupe-like roofline and frameless windows.

Europe will have the choice of three different engines, the 306hp 535i, 407hp 550i and the 235hp 530d. All three engines are mated to a eight-speed automatic transmission.

BMW hasn't announced which models will make it to the US.

VW Scirocco R Unveiled with 265 HP...Arg!


This fall VW is going to release a more powerful Scirocco, dubbed the Scirocco R.

The more powerful Scirocco R gets the engine from the Audi S3, which thanks to a bigger turbo, uprated pistons, and high-pressure injectors puts out 265 horsepower. The engine is mated to a six-speed manual or the DSG. Unfortunately the power is still put to the ground only via the front wheels. The ride has also been lowered and there are larger brakes.

The R version of the Scirocco is distinguishable by a new body kit, spoiler, sports seats and R badges.

Too bad US drivers can only drool over this car, since VW has no plans to bring either version of the Scirocco to the US.

The new 2010 Mustang is just beginning to hit the streets and for most Mustang enthusiasts the current engine lineup leaves much to be desired, especially compared to the new Camaro.

Well before the 2010 Mustang was launched it was stated that the 2011 model would see changes to the engine lineup. Well it is now being confirmed that Ford is working on a new 5.0L V8 that will put out somewhere around 400 horsepower. Codenamed "Coyote", the new V8 will be used in the Mustang and F150 thereby replacing the 4.6L and 5.4L V8s. Ford Australia product development director Russell Christophers has confirmed the existence of the new aluminum double-overhead cam 5.0-liter V8, “I have seen the performance curves and it is a pretty good engine,” he said.

The new V8 will begin appearing in the Mustang and F150 sometime in 2010.

Mercury Sable Hits the End of the Line this Thursday


The last Mercury Sable is expected to roll off the production line this Thursday. Even though Ford is releasing an all-new Taurus, Ford decided to not spend the money on a Mercury we're saying bye bye to the Sable once again.

"The last Sable will roll down the line on Thursday," said Ford spokeswoman Angie Kozleski.

The death of the Sable leaves Mercury with only four models, the Mariner, Mountaineer, Milan and Grand Marquis. Both the Mountaineer and Grand Marquis are expected to be dead within the next few years. Mercury is supposed to be getting a new small car, even though nothing has been officially confirmed yet.

Ford chose to not develop a new Sable so that they could invest more money in the Taurus.

"They had to make a choice, and their choice is to polish the Blue Oval," Analyst Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics said.

Toyota Receives 75,000 Orders for the 2010 Prius


Toyota has received 75,000 orders for the all-new Prius according to the Nikkei business daily, which means its going to be a fierce battle between the new Prius and the Honda Insight.

The Honda Insight was launched in Japan in February and in three months Honda has sold almost 20,000 units, which has surpassed Honda's initial goals. The Insight was also Japan's best-selling vehicle last month.

The new Prius will be on sale here later this month with a starting price of $21,750 including destination fees.

Ford has officially announced the debut of the 2010 Lincoln MKS with the new 3.5L EcoBoost V6 engine.

The 3.5L EcoBoost V6 puts out 355 horsepower and 350 lb-ft. of torque thanks to direct-injection and twin turbochargers. The EcoBoost V6 gives the Lincoln MKS the power of a normally aspirated 4.6L V8, but without sacrificing fuel economy. The MKS with EcoBoost will get at least 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.

The 2010 MKS with EcoBoost has standard 19-inch wheels, steering-wheel paddle shifters, all-wheel-drive and adaptive HID headlights. Also included are rain-sensing wipers and a rear-window power shade.

For even more distinction there is the Appearance Package which includes, luxury seats in Sienna with Charcoal Black Tuxedo Seam, illuminated MKS sill plates and upgraded floormats. Outide the package gives you a distinctive grille, front lip spoiler rear fascia lower, side rockers and door cladding, decklid lip spoiler with chrome insert and modified MKS decklid badge ("S" in red).

GM Announces Plans to Close 1,100 Dealers


Just like Chrysler did yesterday, GM has announced plans to close 1,100 of its "underperforming" dealers.

Although GM has identified the 1,100 dealers that will be closed, the automaker is not closing any dealerships today. GM will be working with the dealerships over the next few weeks to come up with a long term plan. It is expected that their will be a wind-down of the affected dealers over the next year. This is in contrast to Chrysler's plans to close its affected dealers by June 9th.

GM likely to announce more dealer cuts in the future since the automaker wants to pare down its network from 5,969 stores to approximately 3,600 by the end of 2010.

Chrysler has announced plans to reject 789 of its current dealers. The 789 dealers were sent overnight letters informing them that they have until June 9th to close their doors.

Chrysler officially filed a motion with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to reject certain Chrysler, Dodge or Jeep dealers. 2,392 dealers will continue to sell vehicles under the new company in a global alliance with Fiat. Chrysler plans on continuing "business as usual" with all of its dealers and intends to honor warranty and incentive payments during the period that "rejected" dealers remain open.

2011 Nissan Murano Convertible in the Works?


Last year Inside Line reported that Nissan was working on a convertible version of its Murano crossover...many of us didn't believe the rumors. A Murano convertible? Right!

Well now Inside Line has received confirmation from sources that Nissan is still working on the Murano convertible and that it will hit dealerships before the summer of 2010. The Murano convertible is being aimed at empty nesters that need a little extra room. It will feature a soft top.

The 2011 Murano convertible will feature two less doors than the current Murano and will be powered by the same 265-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 mated to a continuously variable transmission.

BMW has created a new concept of the X6 that no one has probably asked for, although a few ambulance drivers may rejoice. The BMW X6 xDrive50i Ambulance concept is going to be shown off at the upcoming RETTmobil rescue vehicle show in Fulda, Germany.

The concept is powered by the 407hp twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 and is being positioned as the first responder vehicle, which would carry a doctor or paramedic to a scene before the actual ambulance. Which is a good thing because its doubtful that an X6 ambulance could hold nearly as much as a regular ambulance.

2010 Opel Astra Officially Unveiled

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Following yesterday's photo leaks, GM has officially unveiled the next-generation 2010 Opel Astra ahead of its unveiling at the Frankfurt Motor Show this fall.

The 2010 Astra borrows styling cues from the mid-size Insignia. The new Astra has more interior room thanks to a longer wheelbase. It also features a cab-forward design that exhibits Opel's new design language, sculptural artistry combined with German precision. The wing and blade design cues on the exterior are also used on the inside.

There are a total of eight engines that will be offered, four diesel and four gasoline powered. The diesel engines range in size from 1.3L to 2.0L units, putting out between 95- 160 horsepower. The four gasoline engines put out from 100hp to 180hp.

Now that Saturn is dead, it's been rumored that Buick will receive this new Astra.

Suzuki XL7 Production Halted


It looks like Suzuki has stopped production of its only US-produced model, the XL7. Due to slow sales and the credit crisis, Suzuki has decided to halt production of the US-only crossover.

The XL7 was produced at General Motors' CAMI joint-venture facility in Ingersoll, Ontario. Although no other XL7s are going to roll off the production line, the factory is still up and running.

Ford Engineers Push Shopping Carts into the 2010 Taurus


Ford has announced a new series of safety testing that the automaker is using to evaluate the the sensitivity of new air bag pressure sensors being introduced on the new 2009 F-150 and 2010 Taurus.

The new "extreme" testing involves ramming shopping carts into car doors and blasting water cannons. The new airbag sensors being used in the new F-150 and 2010 Taurus use pressure-based sensors rather than acceleration-based sensors to determine the severity of a crash. The new sensors perform better in crash tests and are less likely to be effected by vehicle design differences.

Since engineers were worried that everyday mishaps could trick the new sensors, Ford's engineers came up with came up with tests like a shopping cart loaded with a 110 pound weight that was rammed into the car at 10 mph.

Toyota has announced that the automaker will cut production this year by 28 percent to its lowest level in seven years.

Slow sales mean that Toyota will produce 6.68 million vehicles in 2009, down from 9.24 million in 2008.

"We expect the severe conditions to continue this year," said Toyota spokeswoman Ryoko Nishinohara.

Toyota also expects the fiscal year ending in March 2010 to be its worst year ever, forecasting a net loss of $5.7 billion (550 billion yen). In contrast in the fiscal year ending in March 2008, Toyota had a record profit of 1.72 trillion yen.

2010 Opel Astra Photos Leaked Onto the Web


Although the Saturn Astra may be dead, the US may still get the next Astra under the Buick brand. The first photos of the all-new Astra (Euro-spec) have surfaced.

The new Astra is based on the Delta platform, which underpins the Chevy Cruze and upcoming Volt. The sixth-generation Astra will be powered by a normally aspirated gasoline1.4L four-cylinder according to CarScoop and turbocharged variants will also be offered. A turbocharged 180-hp 1.6L is also expected. In regards to diesel powerplants, a range of diesels will also be available, including 1.3, 1.7 and 2.0L variants.

CarScoop also claims that the five-door Astra will hit showrooms this fall and a three-door GTC coupe is expected to follow. A wagon, four-door sedan, and a retractable hardtop model are also expected.

Now we just have to wait and see if the Astra makes it to the US, even though GM's ownership of Opel may soon be over.

GM Plans to Sell Chinese Built Cars in the US


A new document has surfaced that reports that GM is planning on selling vehicles it makes in China, in the US by 2011. The document that was given to lawmakers reports that GM plans on selling 17,335 units of China-made vehicles in the U.S. by 2011 and hopes to increase that number to 51,546 by 2014 according to the Automotive News.

The plan does not reveal which vehicles the US will receive, but the 50,000+ vehicles only represents 1.6 percent of the planned 3.1 million vehicles GM expects to sell in 2014.

Of course union leaders are not too happy about the plan.

Although Opel has been one of GM's "better" brands lately, the European brand is not going to be under the GM umbrella much longer. It's already been rumored that GM is looking for a suitable buyer for the brand, but now GM CEO Fritz Henderson recently stated that there are several bidders for the brand.

GM hopes to decide on a buyer by the end of this month, right before its June 1st deadline. Fiat and Magna have publicly announced their interest in the brand. GM insists on having the final word on who buys the brand. GM has also asked the German government for 2.5 billion euros to help finance new company.

Now if GM can find a buyer for Saab and HUMMER...

Ford Recalls Almost 9,000 MY 2009 F-150s


Ford is recalling 8,735 2009 Ford F-150 trucks to fix an issue with the brake lights.

According to NHTSA the issue has to do with the brake stop lamp switch and in some situations of very mild braking, the brake stop lamps may not illuminate. Dealers have been instructed to inspect the affected vehicles and to reinstall the brake stop lamp switch free of charge.

Chrysler has only been in bankruptcy for close to two weeks, but the automaker is beginning to see how serious Obama's Automotive Task Force is. Chrysler had planned on spending $134 million over the next nine weeks on advertising, but Obama's team has reportedly only given the automaker half that amount.

Judge Arthur Gonzalez was skeptical about spending even 50 percent of that amount considering all of Chrysler's plants have been idled. Robert Manzo, executive director of Capstone Advisory Group and a consultant to Chrysler, testified at a May 4 hearing that the task force "believed that it was not feasible to not spend anything on marketing and advertising for fear of eroding the image of the brand," during the company's planned nine weeks in bankruptcy.

Steven Landry, Chrysler exec VP-sales and marketing said in a statement that the advertising efforts "gives us the opportunity to reinforce that it's business as usual and demonstrate a bright future ahead for Chrysler."

Bob Lutz and Other GM Execs Dump GM Stock


GM North America President Troy Clarke and soon to be departing Vice Chairman Bob Lutz plus four other execs have sold more than 200,000 shares of GM stock.

Spokeswoman Julie Gibson says the sales don’t show a lack of faith in the company. As GM comes closer to the June 1st deadline, GM has publicly disclosed to its shareholders that they run the risk of losing their investments if GM does end up filing for bankruptcy.

Bob Lutz sold all of his 81,360 shares for a total of $130,989.60, while Troy Clarke sold his 21,380 shares for $31,001.

The deal between Fiat and Chrysler could mean that Ford could eventually bring its small Ka to the US.

The Ford Ka and Fiat 500 are built on the same platform that as developed by Fiat. Currently there are plans for Fiat to build the 500 at one of Chrysler's North American plants, when the vehicle eventually goes on sale here. Chrysler also wants a small car that would share the same underpinnings as the 500 and Ka. Since US car buyers historically like larger cars, the only way to make a profit would be to some how manage to sell more of them and bringing the Ford Ka here could help achieve that goal. By building three cars all built on the same platform in the US, costs could be more evenly spread out. This would provide more fuel for the business case to bring the little Ka here since the vehicle could actually be profitable.

There is no word yet on if Ford does indeed plan on bringing the Ka here. If the Ka did come here, it would be one of the smallest vehicles on the road, since its only marginally bigger than the Smart ForTwo.

Honda has announced that the new Insight hybrid was Japan's best selling vehicle in the month of April 2009.

Honda managed to move 10,481 units making the Insight the first hybrid to ever top the sales charts in Japan (Toyota must not be happy). The Insight was introduced on February 6, 2009. It managed to move to the top spot in April up from the 21st best-selling vehicle in March.

The Honda Fit/ Jazz was Japan's best-selling vehicle until the Insight knocked it out of its top spot, thereby pushing it down to the number 2 spot. This is the first time that Honda has managed to occupy the two best-selling car positions in Japan.

GM has dropped the SS versions of the Chevy Impala and Cobalt sedan for the 2010 model year.

The news came from GM's 2010 Online Order / Reference Guide for dealers. The death of the Impala SS is not that great of a loss, but the Cobalt SS sedan was a decent competitor with its 260-hp, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine.

At the end of April a Camaro5 forum member Bumleb was driving his brand new 2010 Chevy Camaro SS with only 40 miles on it, when it shut down. The culprit was a battery cable that was run from the trunk. The insulation had worn down from rubbing against the starter, which caused it to short out and shut down the car. GM has issued a voluntary safety recall of the 2010 Camaro SS because of a potential shorting problem with the starter making contact with an exposed battery positive starter cable.

GM has a temporary fix, which involves wrapping the battery positive starter cable with protective insulating tape and rerouting the cable to ensure proper clearance between the starter and the battery positive starter cable. A permanent fix is available after May 11th and that includes doing the same procedure as the temporary fix, but with engine wiring harness tape.

Owners have the option of getting the temporary fix now or they can leave their cars at the dealer until the engine wiring harness tape is received by the dealers on May 11th. Lastly the recall only affects V8 equipped Camaros.

Buick Astra Coming in 2011?


Now that Saturn has one foot in the grave, GM is looking at other ways of selling Opels in the US. The newest rumor claims that Buick is going to receive a version of the small Astra.

If these rumors are in fact true, Buick will be getting a new small car in 2011 as a 2012 model. It's not yet known if the Buick will use the Astra name or get something entirely new. It's also not known if it will be a hatchback, a sedan or both. Saturn was expected to get three and five-door versions of the next Astra.

Does Buick really need a new small car? This rumor brings back memories of the not so great Skylark.

Ford has announced plans to turn its former Michigan truck plant into a more modern small car production facility.

Ford is going to invest $550 million in the Michigan Assembly Plant to transform it into a "lean, green and flexible" plant that will build the next-generation global Ford Focus and a new battery-electric version for the North American market. The new Focus is set to start production next year and the all-electric Focus will debut in 2011.

Formerly the plant was the production site for the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator.

Demand for the 2010 Chevy Camaro has prompted GM to add a shift for the week of June 29th at the Oshawa, Ontario plant. That week was originally planned as a week off.

The Peterborough Examiner is also reporting that the flex line workers will begin working overtime on Saturdays during June, July and August.

Chrysler has announced new incentives for the month of May to move more of its vehicles off dealer lots by giving buyers what they want...more cash.

Beginning today, Chrysler is now offering $4,000 consumer cash on 2009 vehicles, $1,000 owner loyalty for current Chrysler owners and $1,000 credit union bonus cash for qualified members. So that basically means that some buyers will be able to get up to $6,000 towards the purchase of a Chrysler, Dodge or Jeep.

The incentives run through June 1, 2009.

Saturn May be Dead, But Hybrid Technology Will Live On


GM has announced in its most recent Viability Plan to pull forward the resolution of Saturn by the end of 2009. So even though Saturn will not be a part of GM by the end of the year, the automaker is going to move forward with the hybrid plans that were initially planned for Saturn.

Saturn currently has two hybrids in its lineup, the Aura and Vue. A Vue plug-in hybrid was planned for 2011, but now that the Vue will be dead soon GM has pledged that the technology will be used in one of its other four core brands. In addition there will not be a delay in the introduction of the plug-in technology.

It's still not known, which brand will get the technology. Maybe the new Chevy Equinox or GMC Terrain, since they are built on the same platform as the Saturn Vue...

Knight Rider is Officially Dead...Finally!


It's official NBC has canceled the unloved remake of the Knight Rider series.

NBC unveiled its list of shows this fall and the show with horrible acting was missing from the roster.

Knight Rider joins “Lipstick Jungle,” “Kath & Kim,” “Kings,” “My Own Worst Enemy” and “Crusoe” as the shows that are gone forever from NBCs lineup.

Last week Chrysler officially declared Chapter 11 and now more details are surfacing about what the future holds for the automaker. Chrysler’s manufacturing chief Frank Ewasyshyn recently stated in court that the bankruptcy and plant shutdowns are going to delay the introduction of the 2010 models and that some 2011 models may also be delayed.

Once Chrysler starts producing vehicles again, the first models to be produced will be the remainder of the vehicles that are now partially built in Chrysler's plants. Preparations to switch over to the new models will delay the introduction of 2010 models.

The delay is likely to cut into Chrysler's already dismal sales. Let's hope they can get it all ironed out before the introduction of the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chrysler 300.

Now that Chrysler and Fiat have managed to come to an agreement and Chrysler has officially entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy, what is next?

Industry analysts predict that by 2011 a Fiat-run Chrysler will look very different in the US. Many of Chrysler's under performing models will likely be nixed and replaced by Fiat sourced models and some will not be replaced.

Chrysler is expected to become more of a niche automaker. It's new lineup will not likely guarantee huge profits, according to some analysts, but the bankruptcy reorganization puts Chrysler in a position to be profitable.

Following the announcement of Chrysler's bankruptcy yesterday, attention is now focusing on what will happen to GM at the end of this month.

GM has a deadline of June 1st to convince 90 percent of its bondholders to swap $27 billion in debt for a 10 percent stake in the company. If the United Auto Workers and bondholders cannot agree to money-saving concessions by the end of the month, GM could also be forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

"When there is a lot of bluffing going on in any negotiation, this shows the government is serious," said Jeremy Anwyl, chief executive officer of

Earlier this week GM announced an updated Viability Plan that announced the death of Pontiac, more plant and dealer closures and more job cuts in an effort to qualify for more government aid.

Currently GM and its bond holders remain far apart on an agreement to swap debt for stake in the company. GM originally offered a 10 percent stake in exchange for $27 billion in debt, but the bond holders quickly counter offered with a deal that would give them a 58 percent stake in the company.

GM's current exchange offer expires on May 26.

Chrysler's Nardelli to Walk Away with Nothing


Part of yesterday's announcement that Chrysler is going to enter Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings is that Chrysler’s chairman and chief executive, Bob Nardelli will step down once the restructuring process is complete.

When Nardelli leaves Chrysler, he will leave with nothing. Meaning he will not get a hefty severance package.

I’ll pick up my pencil and walk out the door”, Nardelli said on Thursday.

In contrast when Nardelli left his last post at Home Depot he made $32 million in his last year and also received a severance package worth $210 million. Nardelli did not have a contract at Chrysler when he took control of the automaker in August 2007.

Following the completion of the restructuring process, Fiat will control 20 percent of Chrysler, which could rise up to as much as 35 percent as Fiat pays off the government loans that Chrysler received. Nardelli's replacement will be decided upon by Chrysler's new board and with Fiat's approval.

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