July 2009 Archives

Honda had high hopes for the new Insight hybrid and even though the automaker claims it isn't a direct competitor to the Prius, many consider it to be. Especially the fact that it even looks like the Prius. Well it looks like the Insight is winning over very few buyers in the US. It probably has something to do with the fact that the reviews have been less than stellar and the Prius manages to get better mpg. Either way only 2,079 Insights were sold in June compared to 12,998 sales of the Prius. Honda had hoped to sell 90,000 units in its first 12 months, but at the current rate Honda will only manage to sell a third of that goal.

The one thing going for the Insight is that it starts at a lower price point than the Prius. Dealers are hoping that Honda will rework its marketing efforts to call out the price differences between the two hybrids. But it may not work since Toyota is planning on releasing a cheaper Prius that will start around $21k in September.

The Insight has managed to sell well in Japan, but Honda needs to figure something out quick in the US before the Insight is simply forgotten.

Chrysler PT Cruiser to Live On....


Although the PT Cruiser was expected to be dead by the end of 2010, Chrysler has announced that the small car will live on. But for how much longer? Chrysler didn't mention how long the PT Cruiser will survive in its current state or if a redesign is in the future. It will most likely remain in production until the new Fiat based cars are ready to hit Chrysler dealers.

The last Pontiac Solstice has rolled off the line at GM's Boxwood Road assembly plant. When GM entered bankruptcy on June 1st, the automaker announced that it would be closing the plant by the end of July that builds the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky roadsters. The announcement at the time wasn't a total surprise since GM had been looking for a buyer for Saturn and since Pontiac had been given a death sentence.

The last roadster produced was a silver Solstice.

Chevy Agile Sketches Provide First Look at 2011 Aveo


GM has released the first sketches of the upcoming Chevy Agile, which is sold in South America.

The Agile, which was developed in Brazil features Chevy's trademark two-tier grille and headlights similar to the Chevy Cruze.

"The Agile goes beyond a traditional hatchback. Our task was to conduct a vehicle for a demanding client. Great design, interior space and a crossover, ie a car transpired versatility to attract customers from a different urban public or to a surfer who loves the countryside, "said Carlos Barba, General Director of GM Design Mercosur.

Production of the Agile will begin in Argentina in the next few months. The Gamma II-based B-segment hatch is also expected to be produced at GM's Lake Orion, Michigan facility since this is expected to be the next Aveo in 2011.

Honda Posts Q1 Profit and Raises Full Year Forecast


Honda, Japan's number 2 automaker posted an 88 percent fall in operating profit, due to the drop in car sales, but managed to beat expectations for a loss.

Honda posted an operating profit of 25.2 billion yen ($267 million) in the April-June quarter, compared to a 210.5 billion yen a year earlier. Honda also raised their full year forecast die to the fact that it expects sales to improve. For the year ending March 31, 2010, Honda is now forecasting an operating profit of 70 billion yen and net profit of 55 billion yen.

No R56 Based MINI Diesels are Headed to the US


MINI USA has been trying to build a case to bring the diesel powered MINI to the US for some time now, but it looks like that isn't going to happen.

The main reason that we will not see a diesel powered MINI anytime soon has to do with costs. It would cost the automaker a significant investment to convert the European-spec diesel engine to US standards. Even if MINI were to charge 10-15% more for the diesel powered model, the automaker would still lose money. Charging 40-50% more would pay for the development costs, but who would actually buy it at that price? So it looks like we will have to wait another 4-5 years to get the diesel when the next-generation MINI is released.

Plans are still up in the air for an R60 based Cooper S D to make it to the US, but we'll see...

Ferrari has officially unveiled the mid-engined V8 replacement for the Ferrari F430, the Ferrari 458 Italia.

The 458 Italia will be officially unveiled to the public at the Frankfurt Motor Show this September, but Ferrari has been nice enough to release some of the info early. The 458 is powered by a 4.5L V8 that pumps out 562 horsepower and 398 lb-ft of torque. The power is put to the ground through a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. 0-62 mph comes in a fast 3.4 seconds with a top speed of 202 mph.

Lincoln and Mercury Think Small in the Future


Ford's Lincoln and Mercury brands are expected to get an array of fresh new vehicles to keep Ford's ball rolling. Ford has been focusing much of its energy on small vehicles and the same is going to happen over at Lincoln and Mercury. Sales of the Navigator SUV have dropped significantly and now Ford is looking at developing new Lincoln models built off the same platforms as the Focus and Escape.

Who knows when or if the Navigator will be replaced, but Lincoln could add a third crossover to its lineup that would be smaller than the current MKX and MKT models and based off the next-gen Ford Escape for the 2012 model year. Lincoln is also working on a small compact car that is built on the same platform as the next Focus, but it has yet to receive the green light. Mercury is also expected to get a version of the Focus for 2012.

In 2013 the Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan, and Lincoln MKZ are scheduled to move to a new front-wheel-drive platform that is shared with the European Ford Mondeo.

The body-on-frame Mercury Grand Marquis, Mountaineer and Lincoln Town Car are all getting ready to be six feet under...

Nissan has tasked its engineers with the job of getting more miles for gallons out of its vehicles to attract more buyers that are interested in the government's Car Allowance Rebate System "Cash-for-Clunkers". The program offers more of an incentive for vehicles with greater efficiency.

"We want as many of our products as possible to pop up on the shopping list," Nissan North America spokesman Brian Brockman told Automotive News.

Small cars don't usually do that well in the US, wIth the exception of a few models such as the Honda Fit and Mini, many of the small cars sold here are not that great. Especially the current small cars from Detroit. Because of this many US car buyers stay away from the sector, which means tiny sales and even tinier profits for automakers. Alfa Romeo's MiTo would be a great competitor to the Mini, but CEO Sergio Cravero recently stated that the small Alfa may not be coming here.

"A preliminary product assessment for a sporty three-door small hatchback showed potential volumes in the U.S. right now are roughly 20,000 units a year," Cravero said. "That is not enough to make it a viable business case."

Of course this could all change if US car buyers start buying more small cars. In the meantime we will be getting a five-door mid-sized hatchback, named the Milano in 2011.

Sales of the Ford Explorer have dropped significantly to just 78,439 units in 2008, down from over 400K at its peak. Next year Ford is going to release a new Explorer which ditches the current body-on-frame design for a new unibody platform that is shared with the new Taurus. When the new Explorer is released the slow selling Sport Trac version and Mercury Mountaineer will be dead according to the Automotive News. Sales of the Explorer are even worse this year and the Sport Trac and Mountaineer are even lower, which means that Ford can't justify their existence.

Fans of the Sport Trak or Mountaineer better go buy one now before they are gone forever...

Spy Shots: 2010 BMW X6 Hybrid Caught in SC


BMW's first hybrid, a hybrid version of the X6 is expected to be released by the end of the year. The X6 hybrid in these photos was caught near BMW's Spartenburg, SC plant.

The 2010 BMW X6 ActiveHybrid is supposedly already rolling off the production line, which means we will start seeing it at dealers in the next few months. The X6's two-mode hybrid system is the same system used in GM's full-size hybrids and Chrysler's now dead Durango and Aspen hybrids. Although the system has been BMW-ized in the X6 hybrid. The system should improve mpg numbers by 20 percent over the regular X6. Prices are expected to start around $70k.

Toyota Prius Coupe Becoming More of a Reality


Its been rumored that Toyota has been considering a coupe version of its popular Prius hybrid and thanks to Honda's upcoming CR-Z hybrid coupe, it may become a reality.

The newest reports claim that Toyota is working on a 2+2 hybrid coupe based on the Prius that will feature an upgraded version of the 1.8L engine in the current Prius with around 136 horsepower. More horsepower obviously means that the coupe version will have slightly lower mpg numbers. The overall length of the coupe is expected to be about 100mm shorter than the regular Prius. The interior will also largely carryover.

The Prius-based coupe is expected to be released in mid-2012.

Lexus at Work on a 1 Series and A3 Competitor


Lexus is expected to unveil a new concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show this fall and according to reports the vehicle is set to be a five-door hatchback. The hatchback is expected to be a head to head competitor with BMW's 1-series and Audi's A3.

The production version is likely to carry the 'BS' or 'CS' name and it will be powered by the same 2.4L hybrid powertrain as the HS 250 hybrid. Although it will borrow the HS powertrain it will not be built on the same platform, but it will also be front-wheel-drive.

The concept is expected to be a 90 percent match of the production model that is expected to go on sale at the end of 2010.

Subaru Announces the Impreza WRX STI spec C


Subaru has unveiled the Impreza WRX STI spec C, which is lighter and more powerful than the other Impreza models. Unfortunately it is only going to be sold in Japan.

Thanks to a reprogrammed ECU, 2.0L four-cyl now puts out 304 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque. Subaru lightened the car by giving it an aluminum hood, smaller battery, and new lightweight 18-inch alloy wheels. Laminar glass is also used in the front and side windows. Engineers also retuned the suspension and reinforced the chassis. A mechanical type rear limited slip differential was also added.

Subaru is only going to produce 900 units, which will only be available in Japan.

2010 Audi R8 V10 Starts at $146K


Audi has announced the pricing for the 2010 R8, including the new V10 powered R8.

The 2010 Audi R8 4.2 FSI quattro starts at $114,200, which is unchanged from the 2009 model, while the R8 5.2 FSI quattro starts at $146,000. The V10 powered R8 puts out 525-hp and 391 lb-ft of torque and reaches 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds.

"The R8 is a proven worldwide success story for Audi," said Johan de Nysschen, President, Audi of America. "The positive effects of the vehicle on dealers, customers, and Audi fans alike have exceeded all expectations. The addition of the V10-powered R8 5.2 FSI quattro adds further equity into the already sought-after R8 nameplate and the Audi brand."

2010 Chevy Camaro Transformers Special Edition Unveiled


The 2010 Chevy Camaro Transformers Special Edition has been unveiled today for those diehard fans.

For an extra $995 you get:
-Autobot insignia on the driver and passenger side panels, wheels and center console
-Transformers logo on driver and passenger doors' sill plates and hood rally stripes
-High-gloss black center rally stripe package

The Transformers Special Edition can be ordered as a Rally Yellow LT or SS model.

2010 Saab 9-5 Images Leaked


Thanks to Autobild we now have our first look at the 2010 Saab 9-5.

Stay tuned as more info comes in.

Ford has officially announced the introduction of the new 2.0L 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine and that the automaker is expecting a 20 percent improvement in fuel economy as a whole by the end of 2010 versus 2005.

The new 2.0L 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine will be the first EcoBoost engine to include Twin-Independent Variable Cam Timing (Ti-VCT) when it is introduced sometime next year. Ford's goal is a 10 to 20 percent fuel economy improvement over larger displacement V6 engines without compromising power. It's expected to have at least 230 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque. Ford hasn't announced which models will receive this engine and surprisingly the first application may not even be in a car. Note that the Explorer America Concept was shown with a 2.0L EcoBoost engine.

The 2010 model year sees the introduction of EcoBoost engines in the Ford Flex, Taurus SHO, Lincoln MKS and MKT. Ford expects its to offer EcoBoost engines in 90 percent of its vehicles by 2013.

Honda is issuing a recall of model year 2001 Accords and Civics to fix an issue with the driver's side airbag. Apparently the driver's side airbag in effected vehicles could inflate with so much excessive force that it could rupture the inflator module. If the inflator is ruptured metal shards from the explosion could rip through the airbag, thereby hurting the driver and passengers.

Owners of affected 2001 Accords and Civics will be able to bring their vehicles into their nearest Honda dealer to have the inflator replaced, free of charge.

Rolls Royce Ghost Officially Puts out 563 HP


Rolls Royce has released the official horsepower numbers of the Rolls Royce Ghost. The Ghost's 6.6-liter, twin-turbo V12 pumps out 563 hp and 575 lb-ft. of torque. The engine is mated to an 8-speed automatic ZF transmission. The Ghost reaches 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds and has an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.

Rolls Royce also confirmed that sales of the Ghost in the UK and Europe will begin late in 2009 with pricing from £165,000.

2010 Lexus HS 250h Starts at $34,200


Lexus has announced the pricing for its first dedicated hybrid, the HS 250h.

The 2010 HS 250h starts at $34,200 and the premium model starts at $36,970, which prices it above the Prius, but significantly less than the Lexus GS 450h. The HS 250h is powered by a 147-hp four-cylinder engine that is mated to an electric motor for a combined output of 187 horsepower. The hybrid features four drive-modes: Normal, Power, Eco and EV. It has also received EPA-estimated ratings of 35 mpg city and 34 mpg on the highway for a combined 35 mpg on regular gasoline.

The HS 250h will start rolling into dealerships in late-August.

Honda's New Pres Says No to V8's and Rear Wheel Drive


Honda's new president, Takanubo Ito, who took over for Takeo Fukui, recently stated that V8 engines and rear-wheel-drive are not in the automaker's near future.

"I don't think we need a classic front-engine, rear-drive car. It would be meaningless to emulate what other companies have done for more than five decades."

He also stated that, "We are considering incorporating new engines, motors, transmissions and chassis into mid- to large-sized hybrid vehicles." Fukui's plans to create V8s and a new rear-wheel-drive platform have been killed. Of course the economy probably had something to do with the decision.

2010 Acura ZDX Four-Door Sports Coupe Officially Unveiled


Acura has officially unveiled the 2010 ZDX four-door sports coupe. The ZDX is Acura's answer to the BMW X6 and will hit dealerships this coming winter.

The ZDX is powered by a 300-hp 3.7L V6 that is mated to a six-speed automatic with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) is standard. 19-inch 7-spoke alloy wheels are also standard, which means the ZDX has the largest standard wheels in the Acura lineup.

The ZDX is available in three different package levels: ZDX, ZDX with Technology Package and the ultra premium, ZDX with Advance Package. A blind spot information system, a Collision Mitigating Braking System™ (CMBS™), and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) are standard with the Advance Package.

ZDX pricing will slot in between the MDX and RL.

Ford Transit to Be Built in the U.S. in 2012


The current Ford Transit is built in Turkey on a version of the Euro Focus platform. By mid-2012 production of the Transit is expected to move to one of Ford's plants in the U.S.

The next-gen Transit will be built on the new Focus platform that we are expected to get here as well. Production of the Focus and other vehicles on that platform will commence at Ford's Wayne, Michigan and Louisville, Kentucky plants.

Last year Ford built custom Mustang AV8R the for the annual Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Gathering of Eagles festival. The car was auctioned off for the charity for $500,000.

This year Ford has produced another Mustang with the same aviation theme, dubbed the AV-X10 Dearborn Doll. It is based off the 2010 Mustang and features 19" wheels, a rear spoiler, and a lower rear fascia that were all borrowed from the GT500. The glass roof also features a star and bar design.

Under the hood the 4.6L V8 now puts out 550 horsepower thanks to the Ford Racing Performance Parts surpercharger kit. The FR500S exhaust, and FRPP's Handling Pack are also included.

The car will be auctioned off during the 2009 EAA Air Venture in Oshkosh starting next week.

The U.S. House approved a plan that will force GM and Chrysler to renew agreements with the dealers that were unexpectedly closed during their bankruptcy proceedings. The bill that is opposed by Barack Obama passed 219 to 208 yesterday and would require the automakers to restore franchise agreements with the dealers in order to get future government aid. U.S. lawmakers feel that the automakers terminated dealerships with little notice or explanation.

"There is so much confusion about how they went about it," House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, a Wisconsin Democrat, said before the vote. He pointed to a dealer in his district who he said "runs a good business."

"I do not, for the life of me, understand why he would be knocked off," Obey said. Lawmakers "are trying to send a message they want clearer decision-making in terms of who got weeded out and who didn't."

It's unclear how the Senate will vote on the bill although the Obama administration "strongly opposes" the bill. "The decision by Chrysler and GM to rationalize their dealer networks was a critical part of their overall restructuring to achieve long-term viability," the administration said in a statement.

Earlier this week, the newly unretired Bob Lutz stated that the soon to be dead Pontiac G8 was going to live on under the Chevy brand as the Caprice in the US. This statement contradicted statements from GM CEO Fritz Henderson who stated that the G8 would not be rebranded for one of GM's remaining brands.

Well now it looks like Lutz is retracting his earlier statements:

"The G8 will not be a Caprice after all. I'd mentioned it, and said we were studying it, giving it a serious look, because a car like the G8 was just too good to waste."

"That's all still true. But I have to say that, with my new "marketing" hat on, upon further review and careful study, we simply cannot make a business case for such a program. Not in today's market, in this economy, and with fuel regulations what they are and will be."

Ford Poised to Gain Market Share and Overtake GM


According to a recent Merrill Lynch report Ford is expected to gain market share in the next few years, while its domestic competitors, GM and Chrysler are expected to see declines.

The annual "Car Wars" study from Merrill Lynch claims that Ford's market share could surpass GM's. Over the next three years Ford's share could go up three points to 18 percent, while GM would likely be around 15-16 percent.

"We continue to believe Ford is effectively executing on its restructuring plan, while bolstering liquidity, and view the results of our Car Wars study as further evidence that management is making all of the right moves," Merrill Lynch analyst John Murphy said in a separate note to clients on Wednesday.

Now that Ford no longer holds a significant stake in Mazda, Mazda is needs to have a new source for its upcoming hybrid vehicles. Currently the only Mazda hybrid is the Tribute that borrows its hybrid powertrain from the Ford Escape. Inside sources are now claiming that Mazda is seeking a new partner and is reportedly in talks with Toyota.

The Nikkei business daily is reporting that the two automakers are in the final stages of discussion and that an announcement is expected soon detailing the plan to supply Toyota produced hybrid components to Mazda.

Toyota and Mazda are both denying the talks.

Porsche Once Again Leads in 2009 J.D. Power APEAL Study


J.D. Power and Associates has released the results of the 2009 Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout (APEAL) Study. For the fifth straight consecutive year Porsche tops the list as the industry's most appealing brand in the U.S.

The top three brands this year were Porsche, Jaguar, and Cadillac.

"Most automakers are on track in terms of designing new models that are highly appealing," said David Sargent, vice president of automotive research at J.D. Power and Associates. "The greater challenge for manufacturers lies in creating models that launch with both strong appeal and high quality, which ultimately lead to improved sales through greater customer loyalty and advocacy."

Volkswagen managed to take four of the segment awards, while Ford, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and Nissan each garner two awards.

Jaguar Kills the X-Type and Cuts 300 Jobs


Jaguar has announced plans today to kill the slow selling X-Type and to lay off 300 workers at its Halewood plant in the north of England.

"Our industry has been especially badly hit by the recession and the premium sector more than others. Jaguar Land Rover's retail sales fell by 28 percent in the past 10 months," Chief Executive David Smith said in a statement.

The X-Type has been in production for the last 8 years and Jaguar has sold over 350,000 units. Production of the X-Type was originally planned to cease in mid-2010.

In addition to killing the X-Type by the end of the year, Jaguar is going to shut down the Halewood plant for three weeks to keep inventory levels in check.

The current Honda S2000 is officially going to end production at the end of 2009. Honda has been rumored to be working on a replacement for the past few years, but Honda has yet to release any details about the S2000's successor.

Now according to 7tune there are rumors that the successor will feature FWD and a 2nd-generation hybrid driveline that will be shared with the Accord. If this actually becomes a reality the next S2000 will share nothing with the current model expect the its name and the number of doors. The S2000 will also be a step above the new hybrid CR-Z. The hybrid S2000 will also feature a retractable hard top and is expected to go on sale in 2012.

Let's hope that these rumors aren't true...

Upcoming MINI Crossover to be Dubbed the Countryman?


Spy photos of MINI's upcoming crossover, which is based on the also new BMW X1 have been all over the place lately. Although the crossover has been confirmed and is expected to be unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show this September, we have yet to learn what the crossover is going to be named...until now. It looks like BMW AG (parent company of BMW and MINI) has officially registered the "Countryman" name for trademark for the new MINI crossover.

In the past the Countryman name was used for long-wheelbase versions of the Cooper in specific markets.

VW Invests $1 Billion in Mexico Plant for New Model

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A company spokesperson recently told Reuters that VW is going to invest $1 billion in its Mexico plant to build a new model that will launch in early 2010.

Currently the plant produces Jettas, Boras and New Beetles.

"The production of the new model will start in March or April of 2010," spokeswoman Consuelo Minutti said.

Minutti did not disclose which new vehicle VW plans to produce at the plant.

Fiat Releases the Pricey 500 Abarth Competizione


Fiat has launched the 500 Abarth Competizione, which commemorates the first anniversary of Abarth's return to the Dutch market. Only 10 units will be produced with prices starting at €24,995 ($35,214 USD). The extra €3,000 premium over the the stock 500 Abarth gets you a black roof, black 17" wheels and matching black graphics. Inside there are new bucket seats and an upgraded audio system.

2010 Acura RDX Photos Leaked


The first photos of the revised photos of the 2010 Acura RDX have leaked onto the web or at least what looks like the new RDX.

As expected, the RDX has received the new corporate grille. The rear bumper has been revised with hexagonal exhaust outlets. It is also rumored that the 2010 RDX will for the first time be available in a two-wheel-drive version, which will be both more fuel-efficient and cheaper. The horsepower figures are expected to remain the same from the turbocharged 2.3L four-cylinder.

Expect an official unveiling soon.

Jaguar Has Already Received 55 Orders for the 2010 XJ


Jaguar took the wraps off the 2010 XJ last week in London and according to the automaker there have already been at least 55 pre-orders.

55 orders in a matter of days may not seem like much, but according to Jaguar that is about the same numbers it received when the XF was unveiled. Some of the orders were placed at the XJ's launch at the Saatchi Gallery in London last week and the rest have come from people who haven't even seen the car in person. Production is expected to start this fall, with sales starting in January.

Peugeot Releases Official Teasers of the 308 RC Z

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Peugeot has released a few teaser photos of the production version of the RC Z sports coupe that was unveiled in concept form in 2007.

The 308 RC Z is about the same size as the Audi TT and will be powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder. Final specs have not been released, but we can expect to see it at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

Honda FR-V Gets the Axe in the UK


Honda has announced that the six-passenger FR-V MPV is being phased out.

The last FR-V will roll off the production line in August, with no plans for a replacement. Only 13,531 FR-Vs have been sold in the UK since it went on sale in 2004. Honda expects to be able to cover the market with the Insight and Jazz (Fit).

Ford and GM Could Shrink Future Full-Size Sedans


Ford is just about to launch the new Taurus and now comes word that the next Taurus could be built off the same platform as the next Fusion/ Mondeo. Ford is currently working on plans to consolidate three different platforms that are the foundation of the automaker's mid-large size vehicles worldwide.

The next Fusion is expected to use an evolution of the European C/D-class platform which underpins the Ford Mondeo and Galaxy in Europe. The next Taurus could also use a version of this platform, although it would be longer than the Fusion, but smaller than the one that is about to be launched.

If Ford does go ahead with these plans, it would still be a few years off. Ford is currently working on an all-new Explorer that will share the same platform as the Taurus.

GM is also looking at a similar strategy by moving the Chevy Impala to the same platform as the Malibu. Although GM won't confirm it, the automaker is considering moving the Impala to the Epsilon II platform that is expected to be the foundation of the next Malibu.

Honda has confirmed today that the anticipated CR-Z hybrid and Fit hybrid models will enter production by the end of 2010.

The CR-Z, which looks like a spiritual successor to the much loved CRX is expected to go on sale in Japan in early 2010. The Fit hybrid is expected by the end of 2010. It's not yet known if Honda is going to bring the CR-Z to the US, but lets hope so!

Honda also announced that the automaker is currently working on a new hybrid system for mid to large size vehicles. It looks like the return of the Accord hybrid could not be far off.

Pontiac G8 Lives!... As the Chevy Caprice


Although GM CEO Fritz Henderson has repeatedly stated that the Pontiac G8 would not be sold under another GM brand after Pontiac's demise, Bob Lutz has reportedly stated it will. Bob Lutz recently stated that the Pontiac G8 will live on under the Chevy brand as the Chevy Caprice.

"The last time we looked at [the G8], we decided that we would continue to import it as a Chevrolet," Lutz said. "It is kind of too good to waste."

GM Exits Bankruptcy...Say Hello to the New GM


GM has officially exited Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings and what's left is what GM is now referring to as the "new" GM.

"Today marks a new beginning for General Motors, one that will allow every employee, including me, to get back to the business of designing, building and selling great cars and trucks and serving the needs of our customers," said Fritz Henderson, president and CEO. "We are deeply appreciative for the support we have received during this historic transformation, and we will work hard to repay this trust by building a successful new General Motors."

The new GM consists of four core brands: Cadillac, Buick, Chevrolet and GMC, which means a total of only 34 nameplates. Less GM models will allow GM to focus more attention on making each model more competitive. In addition the new GM has a more competitive cost structure, a cleaner balance sheet, and a stronger liquidity position that will enable GM to invest in new products, key technologies, and its future.

The U.S. Treasury department reportedly owns 60 percent of the new GM, while Canada holds 11.7% and the UAW holds 17.6%.

2010 Kia Forte Koup Hits Dealerships Later this Summer


Kia is set to finally be a key competitor in the compact sedan and coupe market with the introduction of the Kia Forte and 2-door Forte Koup. Kia has already released the details of the sedan version and now the automaker has released the details and stats about the coupe.

As expected the Forte Koup has the same engines as the sedan with the base 156-hp 2.0L that is available with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission and the more powerful 173-hp 2.4L that is available with either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic.

The Forte Koup rides on the same 103.4 inch wheelbase as the sedan and also seats five. The good thing is that the Koup features sportier handling than the sedan.

2010 Jaguar XJ Officially Unveiled in London


Jaguar has officially taken the wraps off the 2010 XJ in London that goes on sale in December 2009, with deliveries starting in early 2010.

The new XJ looks somewhat like a larger XF with coupe-like roofline and a rear end that is a big departure for Jaguar. There's also a standard panoramic roof.
The 2010 XJ will be available in regular and extended wheelbase versions.

In the US we will have a choice of three engines: a 385-hp 5.0L V8, 470-hp 5.0L supercharged V8 and a 510-hp 5.0L supercharged V8.

Pricing for the 2010 Jaguar XJ starts at $72,500.

Lexus just released the IS C convertible and now reports are surfacing that Lexus is working on an IS F version for release in early 2011. The IS F convertible would be powered by the same 5.0L V8 that powers the sedan version and will be aimed squarely at the BMW M3 convertible.

The SC430, which was expected to be dead soon apparently has a successor in the works. Since the hardtop convertible has been on the market for a long time, Lexus is starting with a "clean sheet of paper" and may even switch to a softtop design.

Lotus Elise SC Joins Hertz Italian Rental Car Fleet


Hertz Italiana has just announced that the Lotus Elise SC is joining the Italian rental fleet.

"I am delighted that Lotus Cars has entered into this agreement with Hertz, giving us the opportunity to make our stunning world class sportscars available to the rental market," Mr. Michael J. Kimberley, Chief Executive Officer of Group Lotus said. "The iconic and multi award winning Lotus Elise and the stunning Lotus Exige are the perfect fun rental cars for those who desire exclusive and high performance motoring."

This summer Hertz Italiana will be offering the Lotus Elise SC at select rental locations throughout the country, which probably won't be cheap.

It has been previously announced that Hyundai is working on a replacement for the Tiburon that will be sold alongside the rear-wheel-drive Genesis. In a recent interview with Inside Line, Hyundai's President and CEO John Krafcik gave more details about the upcoming coupe.

According to Krafcik the final version will look 70-80 percent like the Veloster concept and will feature a "surprise body style."

"It might be doors or a unique roof or something with the hatch. But it won't be like anything out there before in the small car segment."

Krafcik also stated that the coupe is about the same size as the Accent. "Think of it like a four-passenger Honda CRX," he said. "It'll be a little car you can take out and wring its neck and still get good mileage. Fun and economical, with a great power-to-weight ratio."

The coupe is also expected to be powered by a direct-injection 1.6L with 140 horsepower that also returns over 40 mpg.

The official name of the coupe is still being decided.

According to BestCar, there is a 55 percent chance that Mazda is going to finally unveil a RX-7 Concept at the Tokyo Motor Show this October.

If Mazda is in fact working on a new RX-7 it is expected to relieve the RX-8 of its flagship duties by becoming Mazda's flagship rotary powered car. Although the concept is expected this fall, it won't be until mid-2012 that production version will be released.

Once the BMW 5 Series GT hits the US, it may jeopardize the existence of the 5 Series wagon in the US according to some BMW officials.

The BMW 5 Series wagon barely registers a blip on the radar and once the Gran Turismo is released the little demand for the wagon may be gone. No official decision has been made, but don't expect to see a wagon version of the next 5 Series on our shores.

2010 Volvo XC60 R-Design Debuts


Volvo has announced, as expected, the introduction of the XC60 R-Design, which adds more "sport" to the exterior and chassis.

On the exterior the R-Design package adds door mirror housings, trim moldings and décor trim in matte silk metal finish, skid-plates and twin chrome tailpipes. The five-spoke Cratus aluminum wheels are also unique and are available in either 18-inch or 20-inches. The lower section of the XC60 is also color matched to the exterior with the R-Design package.

A more direct steering gear has also been added to add more sportiness to the driving experience, due to its faster steering response.

The R-Design package for the XC60 will have its public debut at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show and will go on sale shortly after that.

2010 Porsche Panamera Gets U.S. Debut at Pebble Beach


The upcoming 2010 Porsche Panamera is set to have its U.S. debut at the 2009 Pebble Beach Conours d'Elegance, which runs from August 9-16.

Porsche's first four-door sedan is expected in showrooms in October with pricing ranging from $89,800-$132,600.

Following on the heels of Hyundai's gas promotion, Suzuki has announced its own promotion that will run for three months on the 2009 SX4 sedan and crossover models.

The program that runs from July 1st - Aug 31st provides free gas by giving buyers a prepaid gas card that should provide enough money to buy gas for up to three months. Of course this all depends on how much you drive, and the price of gas. The SX4 sedan comes with a $270 gas card and the SX4 Crossover includes a $290 card. The promotion is in addition to other rebates available.

VW has released its sales totals for the month of June 2009 and although VW sales were down 18 percent compared to the same month in 2008, VW has announced strong sales of its diesel powered models. Diesel powered versions of the Jetta, Jetta SportWagen and Touareg totaled 5,072 units, which accounted for 26 percent of VW's total sales last month.

Clean diesel TDI's accounted for 81 percent of SportWagen sales, 40 percent of Jetta sedan sales, and 29 percent of Touareg sales.

BMW Confirms the X1 for the US in 2011


After all the photo leaks yesterday, BMW has officially released more photos of the X1 and released a brief press release which states that the X1 will be offered in the US, sometime in 2011.

The X1 will debut this fall in Europe with a choice of either three diesel engines or a gas engine. It will also be available in either rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive configurations.

BMW hasn't officially announced which configurations the US will receive in 2011.

Chevy Camaro Outsells the Ford Mustang Last Month


June 2009 auto sales are just being reported and it looks like the revived Chevy Camaro outsold the also new Ford Mustang. According to GM, the automaker sold 9,320 Camaros, which compares to the 7,632 Mustangs that Ford sold.

GM still has a backlog of 10,000 Camaro orders to fill, so it remains to be seen if the Camaro will continue to outsell the Mustang once all the pre-orders are filled. Just in case you're wondering, Chrysler only managed to sell 1,369 Dodge Challengers last month.

Top 10 Best-Selling Cars in June 2009 Were....


Today is officially the start of July and with that comes the sales numbers for the month of June. While we wait for all the official numbers, here are the top ten best-selling vehicles last month:

* Ford F-Series: 35,915
* Toyota Camry: 26,394
* Chevy Silverado: 24,766
* Honda Accord: 23,995
* Honda Civic: 20,954
* Toyota Corolla: 19,935
* Ford Fusion: 18,561
* Nissan Altima: 16,350
* Ford Escape: 15,385
* Chevy Impala: 14,931

Of course the Ford F-Series continues to dominate the list. Ford as a whole also had the most top models with the F-Series, Fusion and Escape all making the list. Missing from the list is the recently redesigned Dodge Ram.

2010 BMW 7 Series to Offer xDrive AWD This Fall

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BMW has announced that the 2010 BMW 7 Series will be offered with the xDrive AWD system for the first time ever.

The 2010 BMW 750i and 750Li will be offered with BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system. In addition the 2010 model year also sees the introduction of the V12 powered 760Li model, which brings the total to five variants of the 7 Series.

A new M Sport package is also available on the 2010 7 Series. The package includes an M steering wheel, lift-reducing aerodynamic kit, Active Roll Stabilization (RWD only), Shadowline trim, Anthracite headliner and 19″ wheels with ultra-high performance tires. 20" wheels are also available.

GM has announced the start of a 72-hour sale that includes zero percent financing for up to 72 months on all Pontiacs and large Chevy and GMC trucks and SUVs.

The soon to be dead Pontiac Vibe, G3, G5, G6 and G8 are all included in the sale, which starts today and funny enough runs through July 6th. Too bad that is a little longer than 72 hours... In addition to all the Pontiac models, GM is also including the Chevy Impala, Silverado and Tahoe in addition to the GMC Yukon and Sierra models in the sale.

Other GM models will also have zero percent financing, but for only 60 months.

2010 Subaru Outback Gets 29 MPG....Even with AWD


Subaru has released the fuel economy figures for the all-new 2010 Outback and even with standard AWD the wagon manages to get 29 mpg on the highway.

The Outback 2.5i CVT with its 170-hp 2.5L engine that is mated to the new Lineartronic CVT gets a combined 24 mpg and 29 mpg on the highway, which is better than many of its competitors, including the Toyota Venza and VW Passat.

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