June 2009 Archives

2010 BMW X1 Officially Revealed


After many spy photos and teasers, BMW has finally released the official photos of the 2010 X1.

In Europe the X1 will be offered mainly offered with diesel engine choices with the most powerful model being the xDrive23d with 201-hp and 295 lb-ft. of torque. The most powerful gas powered engine will be the xDrive28i with 258-hp and 228 lb-ft. of torque.

The X1 is expected to be launched by the end of this year with sales starting in the US early next year. Expect more details once the official US press release is available.

Just like Chrysler did when gas prices were out of control, Hyundai has announced a new incentive called Assurance Gas Lock, which locks in gas prices for buyers of new Hyundai vehicles at $1.49 per gallon for up to a year. With gas prices expected to be over $3 a gallon this summer, Hyundai is hoping this new incentive will bring in more buyers.

"Our research shows that nearly 40 percent of potential new car buyers are staying out of the market specifically due to uncertainty around future gas prices," said John Krafcik, CEO and president of Hyundai Motor America. "With Assurance Gas Lock, we're empowering consumers with gas price stability so they can make a confident vehicle choice. And for those buyers out there driving older gas-guzzlers that qualify for the new government CARS program, we think our fuel-efficient lineup of award-winning vehicles, combined with Assurance Gas Lock, makes Hyundai an unbeatable combination."

The program compliments Hyundai Assurance and its 10-year warranty. In addition it is available with special rebate and financing options on individual models.

Assurance Gas Lock is available on Accent (excluding base model), Tiburon, Elantra, Elantra Touring, Entourage, Sonata, Azera, Santa Fe, Tucson and Veracruz models purchased or leased between July 1 and August 31, 2009 . The program reduces any available rebates by $1,000.

Consumer Reports' recently tested the 2010 Honda Insight and after completing its series of tests, claims that the new Honda hybrid "is the most disappointing Honda Consumer Reports has tested in a long time."

The publication gave the Insight poor scores due to ride quality, handling, interior noise, acceleration, rear-seat, access and visibility.

"The Insight is a noisy, stiff-riding car with clumsy handling that is nothing like the Fit on which it is based. Also, Electronic Stability Control is only available on the highline EX version."

In terms of its raking with other small hatchbacks and wagons, the Insight came in at the 21st spot out of 22. The only thing worse than the Insight according to CR is the Dodge Caliber..ouch!

Jaguar Announces the 2010 XF Supercharged with 470HP


Jaguar has announced the introduction of the 2010 Jaguar XF Supercharged, which brings the total XF models to four.

The XF Supercharged is powered by a 470 hp version of the 5.0-liter supercharged AJ-V8 Gen III engine and reaches 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds. It slots in below the 510-hp XFR in the lineup and will start at $68,000 when it hits showrooms this October.

GM has announced plans to end its 25 year New United Motor Manufacturing Incorporated (NUMMI) joint venture with Toyota.

The plant currently produces the Pontiac Vibe and has produced other GM vehicles such as the Geo/Chevrolet Prizm in the past. Production of the Vibe will end at the plant in August. GM and Toyota could not come to an agreement on a product plan that made sense for both parties.

It's not known what this announcement will mean for the Fremont, CA plant that also produces the Toyota Corolla and Tacoma.

Hyundai Equus Will Take on the Lexus LS 460 Next Summer


Hyundai is determined to move up market with the introduction of the Genesis and now the automaker is currently evaluating its Equus luxury sedan that is expected to be introduced here next summer.

The rear-wheel-drive Equus is based on the Genesis platform, but is 7.2 inches longer at 203.1 inches. In Korea it is powered by the same 3.8L and 4.6L engines as the Genesis, but according to sources the US will only get receive the V8 powered Equus.

Hyundai is aiming the Equus squarely at the Lexus LS 460, which starts at 64,700.

"We plan to keep the price under $60,000," said the Hyundai insider.

2010 GMC Terrain Starts at $24,995


GM has announced the pricing for the 2010 GMC Terrain that will be available in dealerships this September.

The 2010 GMC Terrain starts at $24,995 for the front-wheel-drive model and $26,745 for the all-wheel-drive version (including a $745 destination charge). The Terrain is powered by a 182-hp 2.4L direct-injection engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and gets an estimated 32 mpg on the highway. A 264-hp 3.0L direct injected V6 is also available.

The Terrain comes standard with such features as a rear-view camera, a six-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system with USB connectivity and XM satellite radio, six airbags and StabiliTrak vehicle stability control.

2010 Kia Soul Denim Special Edition to Start at $17,300


Kia is going to offer a special edition version of its recently introduced Soul for the 2010 model year. The Soul Denim Special Edition will be offered in a special "denim" exterior color and production will be limited to only 1,200 units.

In addition to the denim paint scheme, the exterior will also feature white side view mirrors and 18" alloy wheels. There is also a white racing stripe across the top of the car. A wing-type rear spoiler, fog lights and front fender mounted turn signals are also included. The interior of the Special Edition Soul is all black with Soul logo inserts on the seats.

The Kia Soul Denim Special Edition with the five-speed transmission starts at $17,300 and the automatic starts at $18,250.

Mercedes-Benz CL to be Renamed S-Class Coupe in 2011

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Just as the CLK has officially been renamed the E-Class coupe, Mercedes is also going to rename the revised CL the S-Class coupe when it launches for the 2011 model year.

The S-Class coupe will feature a facelifted front fascia with a more upright grille and LED headlights. Outback there will be new LED taillights and a new bumper design.
(2009 model pictured above)

Opel Astra Two-Seater Convertible in the Works


The all-new Opel Astra is set to be officially unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show this September and now comes word that a two-seat convertible variant is in the works.

The new Astra convertible will replace the Astra TwinTop in the lineup and will only seat two. It will feature a retractable hardtop and will be sportier than the old TwinTop. The interior will be similar to the hatchback, but with sportier seats and more luxury appointments.

The two-seater is expected to go head to head with the Mini and VW's upcoming roadster.

2010 Ford Taurus SHO Returns to Dealership on a Flatbed


How sad this 2010 Ford Taurus SHO apparently left the Ford dealership only to return on a flatbed. It's not even on sale yet and apparently it ended up in a three car pile up.

More bad news for Detroit's automakers, a new study from Grant Thornton LLP's Corporate Advisory and Restructuring Service estimates that by 2012 they will produce less vehicles on US soil than their Asian and European competitors.

Although domestic automakers are expected to return to profitability by 2012, their production will be outpaced by import automakers like Toyota, VW, Hyundai and Honda. The estimated projection is that domestic automakers will reduce production in the US by 35 percent, while import automakers will increase US production by 20 percent. The final total from Chrysler, Ford and GM is estimated at 7.5 million with all other automakers coming in at a combined 8 million units.

Grant Thornton Principal Kimberly Rodriguez stated "Suppliers largely dependent on Detroit OEMs will have to present a new value equation to potential customers from Europe and Asia if they want to participate in the accelerated shift that is coming."

GM Announces New 2.4L Engine for 2010 Buick LaCrosse


GM has announced that the 2010 Buick LaCrosse is going to offer a new 2.4L four-cylinder in addition to the two V6 engines.

The Ecotec 2.4L direct-injected four-cylinder puts out 182 hp and 172 lb-ft of torque. It's mated to a six-speed automatic and is expected to get 30 mpg on the highway and 20 mpg in the city. Buick expects 25 percent of LaCrosse customers to select the four-cylinder option.

The 2.4L will join the 3.0L V6 and 3.6L V6.

Lexus Leads 2009 JD Power Initial Quality Study


J.D. Power and Associates has released its 2009 Initial Quality Study (IQS) with Lexus taking the lead this year with only 84 problems per 100 vehicles.

This year's top five nameplates were Lexus followed by Porsche, Cadillac, Hyundai and Honda. Hyundai managed to move up to the number 4 spot from 13th position in 2008 and Cadillac moved up from the 10th spot in 2008.

Suzuki managed to have the most gains this year moving up to the 9th spot from the 32nd spot last year.

The study also claims that domestic automakers improved their quality by 10 percent compared to 2008, which is higher than the 8 percent industry average.

Besides the 300 and Challenger, Chrysler doesn't really anything else exciting in its car range. The current Sebring and Avenger mid-size sedans don't even come close to their Camry/ Accord competitors, so now Chrysler is trying to figure out a way to bring the 200C concept to life.

The 200C concept was shown at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show in January and should have been everything the Sebring and Avenger were when they were launched. The concept is based on a shortened LX platform, which means the possibility of RWD and AWD configurations for the new midsize. There is a possibility that Fiat's D-Evo platform could be used, but execs are worried that the platform may not be large enough.

Ford Unveils the Glass Roof Equipped 2010 Ford Mustang


Ford has unveiled the 2010 Ford Mustang with the glass roof option and just in case you're worried about the sun's rays, the roof blocks out 90 percent of UV rays. Ford even claims that roof's UV-filtering capability is equal to wearing SPF 50.

The glass roof option adds another $1,995 to the price of either the V6 Mustang or Mustang GT.

Audi A5 Sportback Not Headed to the U.S.


Yesterday Audi released two teaser images of the upcoming Audi A5 Sportback, which will debut at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show in September. Now comes word that Audi has no plans to bring the vehicle to the US.

The A5 Sportback will be available with a choice of two gasoline or three diesel engines. The two gas engines will be the 211-hp 2.0L TFSI and the 265-hp 3.2L V6. The diesel options are a 170-hp 2.0L, 190-hp 2.7L and a 240-hp 3.0L V6.

The reason that Audi is claiming that the A5 Sportback is not slated to come to the US is because the larger Audi Sportback Concept, dubbed the A7 is expected to come here. The A7 will mainly compete with the Mercedes CLS.

It has been reported for quite a while that Chrysler was going to eventually kill the PT Cruiser. The latest reports had slated its death for this summer, but since the automaker now has a new owner it looks like the little wagon will continue in production for a little longer.

The PT Cruiser officially went into production at the end of 1999 and now ten years later the vehicle has remained largely unchanged. According to new reports the PT Cruiser will continue to be produced until the end of 2010 at Chrysler's Mexico plant. Once production is stopped, Chrysler will start retooling the plant for the Fiat 500 and a Jeep version of the Fiat Panda. The Fiat 500 will start production at the Toluca plant in the summer of 2011.

2010 Kia Forte Hits the Road at $13,695


Kia has announced the pricing for the all-new 2010 Kia Forte. The base Forte LX starts at $13,695 plus destination charges. The Forte EX begins at $15,795 and the top of the line SX trim begins at $17,195.

The base Forte LX and EX models are powered by 156 hp 2.0L four-cylinder that can be paired to either a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic transmission. The top SX model is the sportiest model and is powered by a 173 hp 2.4L engine and is mated to either a 6-speed manual or a 5-speed automatic. Fuel economy numbers are competitive for its class with 26/34 mpg for the 2.0L and the 2.4L gets 22/32 with the manual transmission and 23/31 with the automatic transmission. The 2.0L EX model has an optional Fuel Economy Package, which improves its numbers to 27/36 mpg.

Toyota Has No Plans to Restart Camry Solara Production


Last summer Toyota decided to kill the slow-selling Camry Solara Coupe, but continued production of the drop-top version. Production of the drop-top Solara stopped in December, but Toyota had hoped to restart production.

"I think there was some hope that eventually during the spring/summer months the market would bear a need," says TEMA spokesman Rick Hesterberg. "We kept the tooling, just waiting to see, but that never came to fruition."

It was originally planned that the Solara Convertible would remain in production for another two years since Toyota did not have any other convertibles in its lineup. Apparently there were also some buyers that still desired the car.

Luxury car maker Koenigsegg and a group of Norwegian investors have signed a letter of intent with GM to take over Saab according to Swedish television.

Final details of the deal have not been finalized.

Citing increased inventory levels, GM has announced that production of the 2010 Chevy Malibu hybrid have been suspended.

Apparently inventory levels are high enough of the 2009 Malibu hybrid, that GM doesn't need to produce any more at the vehicle's current selling rate. GM's hybrid spokesman Brian Corbett recently told AutoblogGreen that there are no plans to produce any of the mild hybrid models:

"There will be some MY2010 production. We will fulfill some MY2010 fleet orders for the Malibu Hybrid. As part of the Memorandum of Understanding between GM and Penske Automotive Group, Saturn plans to offer the Aura, Vue and Outlook models in 2010. Specific details of which versions (i.e. hybrids) has not yet been determined. "

Spy Shots: Aston Martin Rapide Undisguised and Caught


A CAR Online reader (Simon Gregg) spotted the upcoming Aston Martin Rapide testing in the UK sans camouflage. The production version of the Rapide is expected to be unveiled this fall at the Frankfurt Motor Show and go on sale in early 2010.

The Rapide is expected to be powered by the automaker's 6.0L V12 with approximately with 470 hp and 443 lb-ft. ot torque.

Fiat Officially Closes Deal With Chrysler


Fiat has officially closed the deal and taken over Chrysler this morning. The takeover now means that Fiat's Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne will become CEO of Chrysler.

Fiat is now going to start transferring Fiat's technology, platforms and powertrains to Chrysler plants. Chrysler's plants are also going to resume production soon, since they were idled during the bankruptcy process and cost the automaker up to $100 million a day.

"We intend to build on Chrysler's culture of innovation and Fiat's complementary technology and expertise to expand Chrysler's product portfolio both in North America and overseas," Marchionne said.

"This morning's closing represents a proud moment in Chrysler's storied history," said the U.S. Treasury Department. "The Chrysler-Fiat Alliance has now exited the bankruptcy process and is poised to emerge as a competitive, viable automaker."

Fiat currently owns a 20 percent stake in Chrysler, which will eventually be increased to 35 percent, but Fiat cannot gain majority control until all taxpayer funds are repaid.

Supreme Court Removes Delay for Chrysler/ Fiat Deal


The U.S. Supreme Court has removed the temporary stay that was issued yesterday clearing the way for the completion of the Fiat/ Chrysler deal.

The high court rejected arguments from three Indiana pension and construction funds who are against the sale.

Chrysler and Fiat are now free to complete their deal.

Fiat Won't Cancel Chrysler Deal Despite Court Delay

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sergio-marchionne-fiat_new.jpgYesterday the U.S. Supreme Court delayed the Fiat/ Chrysler deal to listen to arguments from three Indiana pension and construction funds who are against the sale. The funds have been fighting the sale since since they feel that it unfairly favors Chrysler's unsecured stakeholders ahead of secured debtholders like themselves.

Under the terms of the agreement with Fiat, Fiat has the option to abandon the deal if it is not completed by June 15th. It is not known how long the Supreme Court is going to delay the deal, but Fiat has announced that the automaker has no plans to end the deal.

"Fiat won't walk away from Chrysler," Fiat spokesman Gualberto Ranieri said.

GM has announced this morning that the former AT&T CEO, Edward Whitacre, Jr. will become chairman of the "new" GM when the company is launched this summer. GM's interim Chairman Kent Kresa will continue to serve as interim chairman until the launch.

"The appointment of Ed Whitacre as chairman represents a very auspicious beginning for the New GM," said Kresa. "We look forward to working with him to complete the reinvention of GM and maximize the enormous potential of this new enterprise."

Whitacre and Kresa will join current board members Philip A. Laskawy, Kathryn V. Marinello, Erroll B. Davis, Jr., E. Neville Isdell and President and Chief Executive Officer Frederick A. Henderson will serve as the board for the new GM. The six other members of the board will likely retire.

"I am honored to be able to serve GM at this critical juncture and take part in its reinvention," said Whitacre.

The upcoming sale of Chrysler LLC to Fiat has been temporarily delayed by a by a U.S. Supreme Court justice.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg acted right before the 4pm deadline from a U.S. appeals court in New York. Indiana pension funds and consumer groups asked the Supreme Court over the weekend to stop the sale of Chrysler so that they could challenge the sale. The end of the appeals court would have allowed Chrysler to proceed with the sale to Fiat.

Chrysler and the Obama administration are worried that if the deal is delayed too long it could kill the deal. Fiat has the option of walking away from the deal if it is not done by June 15.

Chrysler and the U.S. Treasury Department had no immediate response to the announcement.

GM Announces Deal With Penske to Save Saturn


2009_saturn_outlook_new.jpg Days after GM officially filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the automaker has announced an deal with Penske Automotive Group, which will officially acquire the Saturn brand.

Under the proposed deal, Penske would officially own the Saturn brand and GM would continue production of the Saturn Vue, Aura and Outlook on a contract basis. The Saturn Astra and Sky are apparently not part of the deal, which means they will be dead. The deal will save 350 dealerships and approximately 13,000 jobs.

The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of this year.

2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible Starts at $43,850


Infiniti has announced the pricing for the 2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible. The G37 Convertible starts at $43,850 and the G37 Convertible Sport 6MT starts at $43,900.

The first ever G37 Convertible features a three-piece folding hardtop and is powered by a 325-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 mated to either a 7-speed automatic or 6-speed manual transmission.

The 2009 G37 Convertible will be available on June 19th.

GM Has a Buyer for HUMMER, but Buyer Not Revealed


Following yesterday's bankruptcy announcement, GM has announced that the automaker has entered "into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a buyer for Hummer."

GM stopped short of revealing who the buyer is, but stated that the sale is expected to close by the end of the third quarter this year. GM also stated that the buyer is committed to aggressively funding future HUMMER vehicles, hopefully like the H3T and that 3,000 jobs are now secure.

BMW X1 Spy Photos Released by BMW


BMW has released a few official photos of the upcoming X1 draped in camouflage.

According to TimesOnline there will be three engine choices in Europe: a 177hp diesel and 204hp diesel, and a gas powered 272bhp 3.0L V6. The US is likely to only receive the V6 when the X1 is released here.

We can expect to see the official production version of the X1 at the Frankfurt Motor Sow this September.

Kia Soul'ster is a Go?


Kia unveiled the Soul'ster concept at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show, which is based off the recently released Kia Soul.

The two-door concept that featured a canvas top is now being considered for production. According to Kia the response to the concept was very positive and some Korean magazines are reporting that decision on Soulster’s production will soon be made.

If Kia does in fact approve the Soul'ster we would see it in US dealers as early as the second half of 2010.

GM Officially Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy


Well it was Chrysler last month and now as many people expected, GM has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

GM has officially filed for bankruptcy in a New York court citing $82 billion in assets, but an astounding $172 billion in debts. Although GM for most of its 100-year history has managed to hold the title as the world's largest automaker, the automaker has seen its sales drop almost 50 percent this year.

“Today marks a new beginning for General Motors,” GM Chairman Kent Kresa said in a statement this morning. “A court-supervised process and transfer of assets will enable a New GM to emerge as a stronger, healthier, more focused and nimbler company with a determination not to just survive but to excel.”

The process will see GM divided into two groups, good assets and bad assets. The good assets will become part of the new "leaner" GM and the bad assets will be liquidated. To aid in the process the U.S. treasury is going to provide an additional $30 billion to finance GM during the bankruptcy, which brings the total to almost $50 billion.

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