September 2009 Archives

Breaking News: Say Goodbye to Saturn...Penske Walks!


Well for sometime now we've all been under the assumption that Penske Automotive Group was going to acquire the Saturn brand from GM. The deal involved Penske buying the brand and GM would continue to provide Saturn vehicles on a contract basis...well it looks like that deal is off.

GM issued a statement tonight that states "Penske Automotive Group (PAG) has decided to terminate discussions with General Motors to acquire Saturn."

It looks like Penske was having problems finding other products to sell after the contract with GM ended. GM originally planned on only supplying the Outlook, Aura and Vue until the end of next year. As a result of this announcement, Saturn will officially join Pontiac and Oldsmobile six feet under.

Aluminum bodied cars are lighter than traditional steel models, so Audi has unveiled an aluminum A5 Coupe prototype that is over 200 pounds lighter than its equivalent steel bodied production model.

Audi engineers started with the traditional steel-bodied production car as its basis and then added the benefits of the aluminum Audi Space Frame (ASF) concept. According to Audi the use of the ASF principles lowers the body weight of a car by 40 percent. It shows here with the use of ASF and carbon fiber engineers were able to lower the body weight of the A5 from 3,130 pounds to 2,888 pounds.

A major benefit is that the lighter A5 prototype that is powered by a four-cyl engine offers the same performance as a V-6.

Audi's aluminum technology is bound to find its way into future Audi models, but Audi has no plans to produce the A5 prototype.

2010 Nissan Altima Gets a Refresh and Starts at $19,900


Nissan has released the official specs, photos and pricing for the refreshed 2010 Nissan Altima Coupe and Sedan.

On the outside the Altima gets a restyled hood, grille and front bumper and new wheels. Inside there are new fabrics and trim and revised option packages. A new nine speaker Bose audio system and the next-generation Nissan Hard Drive Navigation System with 6.5-inch VGA color touch-screen display are optional.

The powerplants remain unchanged with the 175-hp 2.5L 4-cyl, 275-hp 3.5L V6 and the 198-hp hybrid available only on the sedan.

Pricing starts at $19,900 for the base 2.5S sedan and goes all the way up to $29,600 for the 3.5 SR (no longer named SE) coupe.

Tokyo 09' Preview: Mitsubishi Concept PX-MiEV has an Anti-Aging Interior

Just like almost every other preview so far of the Tokyo Motor Show next month, most of the concepts being unveiled have some sort of electric motor under the hood. Mitsubishi is following suit with the unveiling of the Concept PX-MiEV, which features Mitsubishi's Plug-in Hybrid System in a CUV body.

The Concept PX-MiEV features two electric motors that power the front and rear wheels coupled to a 1.6L DOHC MIVEC gasoline engine that powers the front wheels and also acts like a generator. The new plug-in system allows users to plug into either a 100 or 200-volt outlet. The concept is capable of traveling in EV mode up to 30 miles, which can transfer power between the front and rear wheels when necessary. The Concept PX-MiEV also features the same S-AWC (Super All Wheel Control) system as the Evolution X.

Mitsubishi's cocochi-interior "embraces occupants in a pleasantly comfortable cabin environment developed to a Clean, Stress-free and Safe & Reassuring theme." Some interesting highlights of the interior of the Concept OX-MiEV are seats that deactivate allergens and odors as well as bacteria, windows that keep out UV-A radiation so that you don't get a nasty farmer's tan or premature wrinkles from the sun and a negative-ion aroma humidifier.

Nissan is Expecting 20,000 Initial Orders for the Leaf EV


Next spring, Nissan is going to start taking orders for the Leaf EV, with deliveries starting that fall. Nissan is expecting to receive 20,000 orders, which is well over the 5,000 Leafs Nissan has planned to lease in 2010.

For the first two years of production all Leafs will be imported to the US from Japan. By 2012 Nissan expects to have completed a $2 billion investment in its Smyrna, TN production facility to produce 150,000 electric vehicles and 200,000 lithium-ion batteries per year.

The Leaf is going to launch in Tennessee and Oregon as well as San Diego, CA; Seattle, WA; and the Phoenix/Tucson are of Arizona. These areas have committed to installing 2,500 electric vehicle charging stations.

Tokyo 09' Preview: Subaru Impreza WRX STI Carbon...Ok?


Subaru is going to unveil the Impreza WRX STI Carbon at the Tokyo Motor Show next month, but some of the details of the car make you wonder...why? The WRX STI is supposed to be the halo performance car for the Impreza brand, so when Subaru decides to put a carbon fiber roof on this edition, we say..great! It will lower the total weight and center of gravity, which means better performance. But wait... Now for some reason Subaru has decided to add a 5-speed automatic to this version...why?? An automatic? Really?? That makes no sense at all! Also who really cares about suede seats?

Tokyo 09' Preview: Honda EV-N Concept Looks Like a Cute Puppy


The third concept to take the Honda's stage at the Tokyo Motor Show next month alongside the CR-Z and Skydeck will be the EV-N Concept. At first glance the small electric EV-N immediately recalls Honda's N360 minicar from the 1960s.

The EV-N features lithium-ion batteries and seating for four. There is a communications system embedded in the front fascia, something that Honda calls HELLO, s solar roof and swappable seat fabrics. The front passenger door also has one Honda's U3-X personal mobility devices tucked in it for when you aren't riding in the car.

Check out the photos...

Tokyo 09' Preview: Subaru Hybrid Tourer Concept Has Wings


Subaru will be showing off the Subaru Hybrid Tourer Concept at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show next month.

The gullwing Hybrid Tourer Concept is a four-passenger concept that Subaru describes as "a new proposal for the future of [the] grand touring car."

The Hybrid Tourer Concept is powered by a horizontally opposed 2.0L direct injection turbocharged four cylinder mated to a hybrid motor system with lithium-ion batteries. The hybrid system is a two-motor system with a motor in the front and rear of the car. During normal driving the front motor is primarily used, but at start up and extremely low speeds the rear motor is mainly used.

Subaru of course didn't give any details if this concept will ever see production.

Tokyo 09' Preview: Honda Skydeck Concept Hybrid Minivan Unveiled


The 2009 Tokyo Motor Show is right around the corner and even though a number of automakers have already pulled out of the show, we can expect to see a number of reveals. Honda is set to unveil a near production ready Honda CR-Z in addition to the Skydeck concept shown here.

The Honda Skydeck Concept is a six seater minivan hybrid. Honda is most likely looking for other areas to apply its hybrid technology and this minivan concept could be a possibility. Of course those scissor doors wouldn't make it to production. Honda hasn't released any technical specs, but we do know that the hybrid system has been moved to the center console.

Stay tuned for more info from the show.

Honda unveiled the CR-Z hybrid concept at the 2007 Tokyo Auto Show and now two years later the concept that is hitting the stage at again at the 2009 Tokyo Auto Show. As typical with most Honda concepts, the concept version ends up being very close to the final product. According to Honda officials, the concept that we will see next month is 95 percent of the real thing. The production version of the Honda CR-Z will be officially unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in January.

The spiritual successor to the much loved CR-X, the 2011 CR-Z is a 2+2 coupe powered by a 1.5L i-VTEC inline-4 combined with Honda's IMA hybrid powertrain and mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. Who knows if Honda may eventually broaden the appeal of the CR-Z with the addition of non-hybrid powertrains.

The interior of the concept is near production ready and features a layout that looks somewhat similar to the Insight. The Ni-Mh battery pack is believed to be under the floor like in the Insight, in which the CR-Z is based on.

The 2011 CR-Z is expected to go on sale in Japan in February 2010 and in the U.S. a few months after that.

Stay tuned for more info from the show...for now check out the photos.

While we wait patiently for the introduction of the Tesla Model S, Tesla has announced that the platform of the seven passenger sedan will be used for derivatives including a minivan, cross-over utility vehicle and a utility van for fleets.

The announcement was part of a release from Tesla about the automaker's plans for $465 million in low-interest loans from the Department of Energy that Tesla received.

Tesla plans on using the loans for the US-based production, engineering, and assembly of the Model S and for a powertrain manufacturing facility in Northern California that will build advanced EV powertrain components for other automakers. The Model S will be produced in Southern California.

Jaguar Reportedly Working on an XF-Based Five-Door Coupe


According to Inside Line, Jaguar is currently at work on a compact five door coupe based on the XF. Think of it as a competitor to the Audi A5 Sportback.

The coupe is codenamed RD7 and it has suicide-type rear doors and a side-hinged tailgate. Jaguar had been considering three and five door versions, but has decided to move forward only with the five door since it should have higher sales.

Although Inside Line has received word that the coupe is in the works, it is still about four years off. A new sportscar, codenamed XE is set to debut first in 2011, with sales starting in 2012.

Toyota Issues Urgent Recall of 3.8 Million Vehicles


Toyota is issuing its largest recall in the automaker's history due to an issue with floormats.

The Federal Department of Transportation has issued an "urgent" warning to owners of several Toyota and Lexus models advising owners to remove the driver's side front floor mats to keep them from getting in the way of the accelerator and brake pedals.

This notice has come out after a fatal crash in late August that involved a 2009 Lexus ES350 that crashed after the front floor mat caused the accelerator and brake pedals to stick.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging owners of the affected vehicles to remove the floormats and to not replace them with anything else.

Fiat Unveils Abarth 500 R3T in San Remo


Fiat unveiled the rally-spec Abarth 500 R3T at the 51st Sanremo rally.

The Abarth 500 rally version will be type approved for Group R3T. It's powered by a 1.4-liter four-cyl with a Garret GT 1446 fixed-geometry turbocharger that puts out 180 horsepower and is mated to a six-speed sequential transmission with a multiplate self-locking differential and twin plate clutch. 17" OZ rims and adjustable racing shock absorbers are also included in addition to Brembo discs on all 4 wheels.

The 500 R3T is fitted with a full roll cage and dry weight comes in at 2380 lbs, which is the minimum for the category.

Hyundai Unveils Equus Limo for VIPs


Hyundai has developed a stretched version of its flagship Equus sedan. The Equus Limousine is 300 mm longer than the regular version and is longer than most of its competitors in Korea. To differentiate it from the Equus sedan, the stretched version features a new horizontal cross-bar grille. The Equus Limousine can be powered by either the Lambda 3.8L V6 or the Tau 5.0L V8 that puts out 400 horspower.

Mazda has released official images of its next-generation SKY powertrains and the Kiyora concept that will be unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show next month.

The SKY-D' diesel engine, SKY-G' direct injection gasoline engine and SKY Drive' high-efficiency automatic transmission define "Mazda's approach to developing next-generation powertrains that will significantly improve the eco-friendliness and dynamic performance of all Mazda vehicles."

In addition to the new more efficient engines and transmissions debuting at the show, the Kiyora concept is Mazda's newest take an an eco-friendly, but fun to drive car. It's powered by the next-generation Mazda SKY-G 1.3 engine mated to the new six-speed Mazda SKY-Drive automatic transmission. The Kiyora concept achieves fuel economy numbers of 32 kilometers per liter and its compact body weighs 100 kilograms less than Mazda's current mass production model in the same segment.

Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger to Live on Until Late 2012


The Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger midsize sedans were pretty much dead under Chrysler's former owner, Cerberus Capital Management, but now that Chrysler has a new owner, the sedans have a new lease on life.

Cerberus had originally planned to kill the Sebring and Avenger at the end of 2010 and close the Sterling Heights, Mich., factory where they are built. The factory could still be closed, but the sedans will continue to be produced until the end of 2012.

The Sebring is slated to get an extensive face-lift in 2011, while the Avenger is slated to get a milder refresh, which may bring it to the market sooner than the Sebring. The changes can't come soon enough...

Chrysler Brand to Sell Fiat 500 in U.S.


Since it's unveiling many people in the U.S. have been hoping that the Fiat 500 would eventually be sold here. Well now that Fiat and Chrysler have hooked up our wish has come true. Its been confirmed that the Fiat 500 will be sold through Chrysler dealerships when it is released and it will be the only Fiat badged model in the U.S.

Chrysler brand CEO and head of sales for all Chrysler Group brands, Peter Fong stated that the Fiat 500 will likely have a dedicated corner in Chrysler showrooms rather than its own retail network like the Mini. Eventually four versions will make it to the U.S., the hatchback, convertible, a wagon and a high-performance version.

The Fiat 500 is expected to be produced at Chrysler's Toluca, Mexico facility in late 2010 or early 2011.

As expected, the next-gen BMW M5 is going to ditch its current 5.0L V10 engine for a smaller turbocharged V8.

BMW insiders have confirmed the change, but did not give any details about the V8. It's safe to assume that the M5 will be powered by the same turbocharged 4.4L V8 that is in the M versions of the X5 and X6. In the X5 and X6 it puts out 555 horsepower and 500 lb-ft. of torque.

Audi is also expected to drop its V10 engine from the RS6 for a turbocharged V8.

2011 Hyundai Sonata Will Not Offer a V6


When Hyundai unveiled the all-new Sonata in Korea, a V6 engine was not mentioned in the press release. Only 2.0L and 2.4L 4-cylinders were mentioned for the Korean market. Well it looks like when the US-spec Sonata is unveiled it will also not receive a V6. According to Hyundai only 15 percent of the Sonatas currently sold are equipped with the V6.

The 2.4L that will be offered will feature direct injection, which is expected to have more power and better fuel economy numbers than the current 2.4L (it's currently rated at 175hp and 22/32 mpg).

Hyundai is also deleting the V6 option from the new Tucson. Expect the 2011 Sonata to be unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in January.

Toyota has announced the pricing for the 2010 4-Runner, Land Cruiser, Venza, Tacoma and Prius.

-The all-new 4-Runner was unveiled yesterday and starts at $27,500 for the SR5 4x2.

-The Venza starts at $26,275 for the four-cylinder front wheel-drive model, which is an inease of $300.

-The iconic Land Cruiser starts at a pricey $65,970, an increase of $1,215.

-The Tacoma receives a price increase of $175, with the base model starting at $15,345.

-The new Prius, which was released just a few months ago will see price increases of $400 for the Prius II, III, IV and V models. The Prius I pricing remains unchanged with a starting price of $21,000.

BMW to Release 3 Series GT in 2011


The BMW 5 Series GT has yet to reach showrooms, but BMW is already planning a GT version of the 3 Series. The 335i Gran Turismo will be released sometime in 2011 and will have a similar two-stage tailgate as the 5-Series GT. It's expected to be priced between the 3 Series and 5 Series. It's also possible that 4 and 5 seater versions will be produced with both diesel and gasoline engines. It's doubtful that an M3 version will be produced.

It's not yet known if the 3 Series GT will replace the 3-Series wagon in the US, since the 5 Series GT is expected to replace the 5 Series wagon here.

Mercedes Drops Photos of the SLS AMG in Gran Turismo 5


Earlier this week it was revealed that the new Mercedes SLS AMG would be one of the cars in the new Gran Turismo 5 and now Mercedes has released images of the car in the game.

ASI Creates a Bodykit for the Ferrari 458 Italia


Japanese luxury tuner, ASI has created a new bodykit for the 2010 Ferrari 458 Italia.

According to ASI the new kit, which consists of a new nose, air intakes and vents in front of the front wheels matches the aerodynamic performance of the stock 458 Italia. Of course the new kit is lighter.

It's not known if there willbe any performance upgrades to the 570-hp 4.5L V8.

Chrysler to Make Ram Nameplate a Stand Alone Brand


It's being reported that part of Chrysler's restructuring will be the creation of the Ram nameplate as a stand alone brand. The Ram nameplate would focus on trucks, SUVs and vans, which would allow the Dodge brand to become affordable performance-car brand.

Future Dodge models are expected to share components with Alfa Romeo.

Additionally Chrysler is expected to withdraw the Dodge brand from Europe. It launched in Europe in 2006.

Next-Gen Audi RS6 to Drop V10 for Turbocharged V8


The next-generation Audi RS6 is set to be unveiled early next year. Rumors are circulating that the next model will drop its 5.2L V10 for a V8 with twin turbochargers.

The current RS6 is powered by a twin-turbo 580-hp 5.2L V10. It reaches 0-62 mph in 4.5 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph. If the rumors are in fact true, don't expect a reduction in power. The turbocharged V8 will likely be between 4.0-4.5 liters.

The next BMW M5 is also expected to ditch its V10 for the 4.4L V8 that powers the M versions of the X5 and X6.

Chrysler and Fiat Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne is set to submit a five year plan to the company's board of directors Friday. In his plan, Marchionne is calling for facelifts of at least five models by mid-2011. This would include the Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Caliber, Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot. Chrysler is also working on an update for the aged PT Cruiser.

Marchionne wants the updates completed within 18 months, which would normally take 2-3 years. To meet this goal Chrysler's current workforce is expected to work overtime and some of the workers that were laid off may be rehired.

Of course all of this is dependent on if the board approves the plan and if it does then it will be sent to to President Barack Obama's auto task force next week.

When Mitsubishi showed off the Outlander GT Concept at the New York Auto Show it was pretty obvious that the automaker was planning on adding its "Evo" grille to the production Outlander.

Well here it is. Mitsubishi has unveiled the 2010 Outlander in Australia and it is sporting a grille that looks like it came directly from the Lancer Evo. Was the new grille needed?

Land Rover Confirms Production of LRX Concept

| 1 Comment

Land Rover has officially confirmed the production of the LRX concept, which is not really much of a surprise to anyone. The production version of the concept will join Land Rover's lineup in 2011.

According to Land Rover the new Range Rover will be the smallest, lightest and most efficient vehicle ever produced by the automaker.

Phil Popham, managing director of Land Rover said: "The production of a small Range Rover model is excellent news for our employees, dealers and customers. It is a demonstration of our commitment to investing for the future, to continue to deliver relevant vehicles for our customers, with the outstanding breadth of capability for which we are world-renowned."

Final details have not been released, but the official photo rendering of the production version shows that its styling will remain close to the concept.

2011 Ford Super Duty Unveiled in Texas


Ford officially took the wraps off the 2011 Super Duty at the Texas State Fair. The 2011 Super Duty gets new styling and two new engines, a diesel powered "Scorpion" 6.7L Power-Stroke V8 and a new 6.2L gas powered V8. A new TorqShift six-speed automatic transmission has also been announced.

Ford has yet to release power figures for either engine, but simply states that the diesel engine will be class leading and that the new 6.2L offers more power than the outgoing model.

In addition to the engine upgrades, Ford engineers also improved the ride, handling and steering of the new Super Duty. They optimized the leaf springs and spring rate and the steering gear is new.

The exterior now features a new bold front end with stacked headlights and an enormous Ford logo. Inside there is a new reconfigurable flow-through console and storage space has been increased by 60 percent. There's also a new 4.2-inch LCD Productivity Screen that lets you keep track of what's going on with the truck's technologies.

2010 Toyota 4-Runner Officially Unveiled


Toyota has officially unveiled the 2010 4-Runner. The fifth-generation 4-Runner stays true to its roots with a traditional body-on-frame design and even more rugged looks than the last model. It's longer, taller and wider and is available as in Limited, SR5 and Trail grade configurations.

The 2010 4-Runner offers two engines a 157-hp 2.7L 4-cylinder and the same 4.0L V6 as the outgoing model but that now puts out 270 horsepower and 278 lb-ft. of torque. The 4-cyl is mated to a 4-speed automatic and gets 18/23 mpg. Fuel economy for the V6 that is mated to a five-speed automatic ranges from 16/20 - 17/23 mpg. Four-wheel-drive models are only available with the V6, while the 4x2 models are available with either engine.

Toyota is positioning the 4-Runner as being more rugged than the Highlander and more versatile than the FJ Cruiser. It seats up to seven passengers.

Kia Officially Announces the U.S. Spec 2011 Sorento

| 1 Comment

Kia has officially released photos and info about the changes to the 2011 Sorento. The biggest change is that the Sorento will ditch its current body-on-frame design for a unibody structure. The overall length and width have been increased giving the Sorento the ability to hold up to seven passengers.

The 2011 Sorento will offer the choice of two engines, a 172-hp 2.4L 4-cylinder or a 273-hp 3.5L V6. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with all-wheel-drive being optional.

The Sorento will be the first vehicle to be built at Kia's new manufacturing facility in West Point, Georgia. It will hit showrooms in January 2010.

Ford Unveils the Figo for the Indian Market


Ford has unveiled the new Figo for the Indian market.

The new Figo is going to built at manufacturing facility near Chennai, which is currently undergoing a $500 million transformation.

"Our exciting new Ford Figo shows how serious we are about India," Mulally said. "It reflects our commitment to compete with great products in all segments of this car market. We are confident the Ford Figo will be a product that Indian consumers really want and value."

The Figo was designed to compete in India's small car segment, which accounts for 70 percent of the new vehicle market. It shares some of its components with the Ford Fiesta and actually looks quite similar to the last generation Euro-spec Fiesta.

Ford has yet to release the specifics of the Figo.

GM newest release on the recently launched site "The Lab" features a new Buick concept, the Buick Avant, which is meant to study the possibility of small premium models.

"We agreed that a small premium vehicle shouldn't be viewed as a compromise in any way," says Andrew Smith, Director of Advanced Design at GM's tech center in Warren. "It isn't a vehicle you buy when you can't afford the larger size version. It should be unapologetic of size and just make you feel great."

In total GM came up with six exterior and four exterior designs.

Aston Martin V12 Vantage Headed to the U.S.


Although Aston Martin originally stated that the V12 powered Vantage would not make it to the US, Aston Martin CEO Dr. Ulrich Bez has stated otherwise.

Bez recently told Car and Driver, that although Aston Martin originally planned on only producing 1,000 units over its one-year life span, more could be produced. Additionally the car is going to officially come to the US as well.

The Aston Martin V12 Vantage is powered by a 510-hp 6.2L V12. It reaches 0-62 mph in 4.2 seconds and has a top speed of 190 mph.

2012 Ford Taurus SHO to Get More Pizazz


One of the main criticisms of the new Taurus SHO is that it lacks styling differences from the regular Taurus. Currently the only way a person can tell the difference between the SHO and the lesser powered Taurus is by larger wheels, SHO badging, and a tiny rear spoiler. Well according to a Ford insider this will change for the 2012 model year.

Car and Driver claims that when Ford held focus groups on the level of pizazz that the SHO should receive no consensus was made, so Ford decided to play it safe. Well Ford has decided to make some changes for 2012 that will include more than just new wheels. The insider wouldn't reveal any of the other changes.

Ford decided to not make the changes to the 2011 model, since it would look like Ford made a mistake if it released the changes too soon.

Nissan Recalling 26K 2009-2010 Altima and Maxima Sedans


Nissan has issued a recall of 26,398 according to the NHTSA. The affected vehicles are being recalled due to an issue with the upper front strut insulators.

The upper front insulators may have been manufactured out of spec. which may cause them to crack, which would allow the struts to come out of their mounting position. This problem could affect vehicle stability and possibly lead to a crash.

Nissan is going to begin notifying owners of the affected vehicles and will replace the strut insulators free of charge.

Supercharged Chevy Camaro Z28 is Back On?


The on-again, off-again Chevy Camaro Z28 is reportedly back on. According to Ed Welburn, GM's Vice President for global design, the work on the modified body is done, although work still needs to be completed under the hood.

For a while it had been reported that the Z28 was dead, but now the latest reports are claiming that the Z28 is back on and probably about a year or so away. The Z28 will be powered by the same 6.2-liter supercharged V8 as the Cadillac CTS-V. In the CTS-V the engine puts out 556-hp and is mated to a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. The modified body will include a raised hood to make room for the supercharger, tall rear spoiler, new wheel designs and wider tires.

Next Corvette Could Become a Hybrid


GM may consider putting a hybrid powertrain in the Chevy Corvette if the car's existence is in jeopardy. The new CAFE standards, which dictate that an automaker's entire fleet has to average 35.5 mpg by 2016, could force GM to be more creative with the Corvette in order to squeeze out extra gas mileage.

VW to Buy Stake in Suzuki by the End of the Year


VW is expected to buy a stake in Suzuki by the end of 2009 according to the German industry publication Automobilwoche report.

The publication quoted an unnamed Suzuki executive, "For Suzuki and VW this connection would be a win-win situation. Suzuki would have access to a variety of VW's technology, while Volkswagen would have a solid supporting leg in India and Southeast Asia."

VW has declined to comment, but last week VW's Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn stated that Suzuki's current product lineup would work well with VW.

There has been speculation about a tie up between the two automakers since August.

GM Reportedly Cancels Plans for a Unibody Pickup


GM has reportedly killed plans to produce a unibody pickup after figuring out that it wouldn't get really get better fuel economy than its current trucks. GM's vice chairman of global product development, Tom Stephens, told the Automotive News that the unibody pickup would have had less capability, but not better fuel economy.

Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon Gets the Green Light


Cadillac's CTS-V sedan packs a whopping 556-hp thanks to its supercharged 6.2L V8, which aims it squarely at the BMW M5, Audi RS6 and Mercedes E63 AMG. Well according to a GM insider, GM is currently working on a CTS-V Sport Wagon in addition to a V version of the upcoming coupe.

Bob Lutz and CEO Fritz Henderson have both alluded to the fact that GM is working on V versions of the new CTS-V Sport Wagon. It remains to be seen if the wagon version of the CTS-V will sell in the U.S. BMW and Audi do not sell high performance wagons in the U.S. due to low sales and even the Mercedes E63 AMG barely manages to even register on the sales charts here. The main difference is that the CTS-V Sport Wagon starts at a much lower price point than its German competitors.

Ford is predicting more demand for bold colors. In the past white and silver have been the top selling colors for new models, but Ford is seeing increased demand for models with brighter, bolder colors.

Two of Ford's current models the Mustang and F-150 SVT have seen increased demand for bold colors like "Grabber Blue" and "Molten Orange." When the 2011 Fiesta launches next summer there will be many bright color options such as "Bright Magenta" and "Lime Squeeze."

"Brilliant colors are transforming the norms in how we think about all sorts of products, allowing people to express individuality more and more through the electronics they use and the cars they drive," said Susan Swek, Ford group chief designer, Color and Materials Design. "Color is a simple way to allow people to add a personal touch to their everyday lives - something that speaks to them and expresses a little of their personality."

Mazda2 is Headed to the US...Yay!


When the current Mazda2 aka Mazda Demio was unveiled Mazda had no plans to sell it in North America, although many of us wanted it. Well times have changed and President and CEO of Mazda's North American Operations Jim O'Sullivan has now confirmed to Mazda dealers that the Mazda2 will go on sale in the U.S. by the end of 2010. The Mazda2 shares its platform with the upcoming Ford Fiesta.

O'Sullivan cited that changing attitudes toward small cars in the U.S. is what made it possible for the introduction of the Mazda2. The US-spec Mazda2 is expected to debut at the 2009 LA Auto Show later this year.

Frankfurt 2009: 2010 Lexus LS 600h Gets a Refresh


Lexus has released info on the refreshed 2010 LS 600h. On the outside the LS 600h gets a new four-bar grille and new air intakes and fog lamps. The headlights have a new running light design as well and are finished in Lexus hybrid blue.

The hybrid powertrain carries over largely unchanged although there are a few updates such as a new ECO mode, which modifies the throttle action and performance of the air conditioning system to support fuel-efficient driving. The hybrid's nickel battery has also been repackaged to allow for more luggage room in the trunk. The Lexus Hybrid Drive system has been revised to meet Euro V exhaust emissions standards. The front brake pads have also been upgraded with enlarged rotors and six-piston Brembo calipers.

Ford Releases More Info on the Electric Focus on Jay Leno's Show


Tonight on Jay Leno's new prime time show, the first celebrity, Drew Barrymore will race an all electric Ford Focus in Leno's new segment called "Green Car Challenge." Ford has released photos and specs of the electric Focus that will be featured in the show.

Ford engineers in Dearborn started with a five-door Euro-spec Focus ST and removed the engine and fuel tank. In its place the engineers installed an electric powertrain, which uses a permanent magnetic electric motor that puts out 141 horsepower and 236 lb-ft. of torque. The electric motor gets its power from lithium-ion batteries that are positioned in such a way to give the car near 50-50 weight distribution.

The Focus BEV that is featured on the show gives us a glimpse of the actual production electric Focus that will be available in 2011.

Hyundai Unveils 2010 Sonata in Korea


Hyundai has officially unveiled the KDM-spec 2010 Sonata in Korea.

We've seen spy photos of the new Sonata for a while now, so everything shown here is what was expected. The new Sonata ditches the bland styling of the current generation for a sedan with more coupe-like styling. The base engine in Korea will be a 165-hp 2.0L 4-cylinder. Once the car is released in the US next year as a 2011 model, the base Sonata will be powered by a direct-injected 2.4L instead of the 2.0L in Korea.

Ford isn't slated to introduce an electric powered Ford Focus until sometime in 2011, but in order to raise interest and public awareness, Ford is going to feature a prototype of the car on Jay Leno's new show.

On September 18th viewers will see Drew Barrymore race an all-electric Ford Focus on Jay Leno's new prime-time show on NBC. Over the next year celebrities will have the chance to race the Focus for the best lap time on the show. It's something similar to what Top Gear does.

Although car buyers can't go buy an electric powered Focus right now, Ford is hoping that this will show the public that electric cars can be exciting.

Nancy Gioia, director of hybrid vehicle programs for Ford stated, "It opens up the dialogue to the next step. Because if (electric cars are) only seen as quirky or off the beaten path, it's really hard to get people" excited.

The electric Ford Focus can travel up to 100 miles on a single charge.

BMW Confirms the Return of 4-Cylinder Engines for the U.S.


Currently BMW does not offer a four-cylinder powered car in the US, while it does in the rest of the world. Well that will soon change with the 3-Series once again being offered with a four banger in the US by 2012.

BMW's U.S. chief Jim O'Donnell revealed in Frankfurt this week that BMW is planning on releasing new 4-cylinder engines in the US that will feature twin-turbocharging technology. BMW's goal is to release the four-cylinder powered 3-Series by spring of 2012.

Frankfurt 2009: Ford Announces New EcoBoost 4-Cyl Engines


Ford has announced the introduction of the new EcoBoost 4-cylinder engines, which will join the existing 3.5L V6 EcoBoost engine. The new turbocharged 4-cyl engines will be available as a 1.6L and 2.0L.

Ford has yet to announce official performance numbers, but the 1.6L is expected to put out around 180 horsepower and 175-180 lb-ft. of torque. The first application of the 1.6L will be in the Ford C-Max in late 2010. The 2.0L will be launched in larger European models and in North America in 2010.

Frankfurt 2009: Ford Grand C-Max Headed to the U.S. in 2011


Ford has unveiled the Grand C-Max in Frankfurt, which is a larger version of the 5-seater C-Max. In addition to unveiling the larger 7-seater version, Ford has also announced that the Grand C-Max will be available in North America in late 2011.

The arrival of the Grand C-Max provides a small minivan for Ford. It is slightly larger than the current Mazda 5. The Grand C-Max is the first of a new generation of Ford global C-cars that will be released in the next few years, which includes the next-generation Focus.

"The C-MAX brings more emotive, dynamic design to the segment, along with a great driving experience," said Mark Fields, Ford's president of The Americas. "People will gravitate toward C-MAX for the way it looks and drives, and not just because it's practical and versatile - and that's going to help us reach a whole new group of customers."

Ford has yet to announce if the smaller C-Max will also show up in the U.S.

Frankfurt 2009: Aston Martin Rapide is Sexy


Aston Martin's first ever four-door sports sedan is upon us and it is quite sexy...much sexier than the Porsche Panamera. The Aston Martin Rapide takes the current styling of the Aston Martin coupes and apply is it to a four-door design. The concept version of the Rapide was unveiled at the 2006 Detroit Auto Show and the production version remains true to the concept.

The Rapide is powered by a 470-hp 6.0L V12 engine that is mated to a six-speed Touchtronic 2 automatic transmission.

Chief Executive, Dr. Ulrich Bez said: "Rapide is the culmination of the Aston Martin range of sports cars, a car that seals the revival of a truly admired marque. There is now an Aston Martin for every taste and for every use.

"With Rapide, the entire family can enjoy their Aston Martin together in unison, in an invigorating yet comfortable environment, sitting low, with plenty of visibility from every seat and with new levels of comfort, refinement and entertainment."

Frankfurt 2009: MINI Roadster Concept Unveiled


Officially joining the Mini Coupe Concept in Frankfurt is the Mini Roadster Concept. The Mini Roadster is a two-seater with a chopped roofline and a more tilted windshield. Other than that the Roadster concept looks pretty much the same as the other Mini models currently being produced. In fact this concept is almost certainly the second new model Mini is going to produce in addition to the new coupe.

The front end of the roadster is identical to the convertible all the way until the a-pillar, where the roadster gets a more raked windhield. With the roof up the roadster has a more notchback look, further distinguishing it from the Mini convertible.

VW has unveiled the E-Up! Concept that was developed from the Up! concept and is supposed to give a glimpse of a new car in 2013 that VW claims will be the "Beetle of the 21st Century."

The small E-Up! is powered by an electric motor, which has a range of 80 miles. It sprints from 0-62 mph in 11.3 seconds. Depending on charging infrastructure, the lithium-ion battery can be charged up to 80 percent within an hour.

The E-Up! Concept is indeed a small car and has a 3+1 layout to make it possible to carry up to four passengers.

Although US buyers aren't getting the A5 Sportback, Audi has unveiled the sportier version, the S5 Sportback.

The S5 Sportback is powered by the same supercharged 3.0L V6 as the S4 that will also soon replace the V8 engine in the S5 coupe. It puts out 333 horsepower and 324 lb-ft. of torque and propels the S5 Sportback from 0-62 mph in 5.4 seconds with a 155 mph top speed. Audi claims that the S5 Sportback averages 24 mpg. Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system and seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic transmission are standard.

Visually the S5 Sportback is differentiated from the lesser powered A5 Sportback by side mirrors in aluminum trim, a single frame grille, S-design aluminum wheels, and quad tailpipes.

The S5 Sportback goes on sale in Europe in Spring 2010 with a starting price of 57,900 Euros.

Lamborghini has unveiled Reventon Roadster, which features the same jet fighter styling as the coupe. The roadster version is also powered by the same 6.5L V12 engine, which propels it from 0-62 mph in a very short 3.4 seconds with a top speed of 205 mph.

Only 20 Reventon Roadsters will be produced with a starting price of 1.1 million Euro. Deliveries will start next month.

Following the unveiling of the revised 2010 Volvo C30 last week, Volvo has unveiled the sportier C30 R-Design that will make an appearance in Frankfurt this week.

More than just sportier styling, the R-Design version of the C30 features more precise steering thanks to stiffer bushings, a lower steering ratio which yields a 10 percent faster response, and spring stiffness has been increased by 30 percent. According to Volvo the new sport chassis makes the C30 R-Design a more agile car. In terms of styling the C30 R-Design gets a new body kit that is painted the same color as the car and that makes the car appear lower to the ground than it acutally is. 17-inch Cratus aluminum wheels are standard, with 18" being optional.

Frankfurt 09' Preview: Bugatti Galibier Concept Revealed


Bugatti recently held an event to unveil its newest concept the Galibier four door supercar to its past customers and future Bugatti buyers. The Galibier is going to be officially unveiled in Frankfurt, but now we have an early look.

The Galibier concept features a two-tone exterior with polished aluminum for the doors and front fenders mated to a dark blue carbon fiber weave. The concept is powered by Bugatti's huge 8.0L W16 engine that is mounted in the front of the car. It's being reported that it will have a top speed of 217 mph.

Just in case you're wondering Galibier is the name of one of the most difficult alpine passes along the Tour de France.

Audi is set to unveil the e-Tron electric concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Audi has yet to officially release any photos or details about the concept, but these photos have surfaced today.

The e-Tron has the same profile as the R8, but with revised front and rear styling and wheels. Inside the E-Tron concept has a completely different interior compared to the R8 with a driver-focused console. It's not yet known what will power the e-Tron concept, but expect more details soon...

Frankfurt 09' Preview: 2010 Ford Grand C-Max Pics Leaked


At the Frankfurt Motor Show this year Ford is going to show off the new C-Max and the extended version shown here, the Grand C-Max. The new C-Max and Grand C-Max are based on Ford's new global C-platform architecture that will also be the basis for the next Focus. The both models will be powered by a new 1.6-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder.

The 2010 Grand C-Max looks very similar to its smaller sibling, but has been stretched to accommodate three rows of seats. The extra length also adds sliding rear doors, instead of the conventional rear doors on the C-Max.

Expect more details soon...

Spy Shots: 2011 Infiniti QX56 Shows up in the Middle East


Infiniti is set to release a new QX56 SUV for the 2011 model year, but the large SUV was on display in the Middle East and one lucky guy managed to capture two shots of it.

Overall the 2011 QX56 is much smoother looking that the current generation. It features certain styling elements from the smaller FX. The QX56 is based on the Nissan Safari/ Patrol.

The 2011 QX56 should make its official debut at the Tokyo Motor Show.

More Photos of the 2010 Toyota 4Runner Hit the Web


Toyota has yet to officially release any full photos of the 2010 4Runner, but here are some photos of the body-on-frame SUV that is going to be unveiled in a few weeks.

The fifth generation 4Runner sticks to its body-on-frame roots and gets all-new styling that emphasizes this. The 2010 4Runner will be available with either a 161-hp 4-cyl or a 268-hp V6 engine. The V8 will no longer be offered.

Stay tuned for the official unveiling...

GM To Sell 55% of Opel to Magna

| 1 Comment

GM has finally announced the sale of Opel to Magna after months of debating. According to GM's press release, Magna/Sberbank will own 55 percent of Opel, while GM will retain 35 percent and employees will hold the remaining 10 percent.

In the coming weeks binding agreements including the written support of the labor unions and a definitive financing package from the German government will be finalized.

Under the new agreement, Opel/ Vauxhall will continue to be a fully integrated part of GM's global product development organization.

Frankfurt 09' Preview: Audi R8 Spyder Shows up


Photo leaks are so common now that it was only a matter of time before photos of the upcoming drop-top version of the Audi R8 showed up. Well here you go...the first photos of the R8 Spyder are here.

Audi has yet to release the specifics of the R8 Spyder, but it is already known that it will be available with a 525-hp 5.2L V10 engine.

Rather than having a heavy retractable hardtop, Audi has equipped the R8 Spyder with a soft-top. These photos don't show the Spyder with the top up, but stay tuned for its unveiling in Frankfurt.

GM's Board Meets Again to Discuss the Fate of Opel


GM'S board is meeting again to discuss the fate of the Opel and Vauxhall brands and a decision could come out as early as today. The board is expected to hold its second round of meetings today after it failed to make a decision last month.

Currently there are two bidders for Opel, RHJ and Magna. Germany's organized labor is supporting a sale to Magna because it is expected to save more jobs in Germany. On the other hand GM is worried that a sale to Magna would hurt GM's Russian business. Although GM could delay the announcement again, political pressure may bring a decision sooner than later.

Frankfurt 09' Preview: Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Photos Leaked


The first photos of the 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG have begun to leak out thanks to Australian site CarPoint.

The SLS AMG is expected to be unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show, so it's no surprise that photos are already leaking. It is powered by a 563-hp 6.3-liter V8 with 480 lb-ft. of torque that is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The SLS AMG can reach 0-62 mph in 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 196 mph.

Production is expected to start in late 2010.

Frankfurt 09' Preview: 2010 Volvo C30 Gets a Facelift


Just like the C70 convertible, Volvo has given the C30 a facelift for the 2010 model year. The revised front end is very similar to the new C70 and the S60 concept.

"The front of the Volvo C30 has become more dramatic and expressive. The angled lines of the front bumper together with the new headlamps, which are drawn offset and up, reinforce the impression of speed and sportiness," says Fedde Talsma, Exterior Chief Designer at Volvo Cars.

In addition to the styling changes, the new C30 also gets new color and wheel options and a new optional sport chassis, which lowers the car 10 mm.

The 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour hasn't received the positive feedback that Honda was hoping...just take a look at the Facebook page dedicated to the new model. Well Honda has released some more photos of the new CUV in red, but does it look any better? Not really...

Rolls Royce has released several new photos and more info about the 2011 Ghost.

The 2011 Ghost will have its official unveiling at the Frankfurt Show. It is powered by a 563-hp 6.6-liter V12 with 575 lb-ft. of torque. That's enough to propel the Ghost from 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph.

The Ghost was previewed by the 200EX concept earlier this year and for the most part remains unchanged.

"200EX is a modern execution of timeless Rolls-Royce elegance, breaking with some areas of tradition but retaining the core values that make our marque unique," said Chief Executive Officer Tom Purves. "We expect the more informal design to broaden the appeal of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, attracting people who appreciate its fusion of refinement, new technology and contemporary style."

A new study by Consumer Reports claims that 81 percent of respondents who stated that they are looking to buy a new car, would consider a domestic brand. This compares to only 47% for an Asian vehicle and 46% for a European brand.

Of course not every domestic automaker is equal. Ford has benefited the most with a 17 percent increase compared to a year ago. GM interest is only up 6 percent, while Chrysler is down 25 percent among new car buyers.

"The Detroit 3 have been in the spotlight all year," said Rik Paul, automotive editor, Consumer Reports. "Ford was the only one of the Detroit 3 that did not seek federal assistance, and this has likely helped bolster its reputation among car buyers."

Out of those surveyed only 9 percent are likely to buy a car in the next year compared to 19 percent a year ago.

2011 Ford Mustang to Get 315-HP V6 and 400-HP V8 Engines?


It's already known that the 2011 Mustang is set to get engine upgrades to both the V6 and V8 engines. Little details have surfaced until now about how much horsepower we can expect.

A forum member over at The Mustang Source has posted some of what we can expect, hopefully when the 2011 Mustang is released.

First the V6 powered Mustang will see an increase in horsepower to 315 thanks to a new 3.7L (15 more than the Camaro). The V8 powered Mustang GT also gets a horsepower upgrade to 400 thanks to an expected 5.0L Coyote V8. The 5.0L V8 will be mated to a new six-speed manual transmission. Sadly, due to the small horsepower gap between Ford's EcoBoost V6 and the new V8 ( 365 vs 400) it looks like there won't be an EcoBoost V6 powered Mustang.

Let's hope these rumors are true...

Top 10 Best-Selling Vehicles in Aug 2009 Were...


The sales numbers for August 2009 are in and thanks to the Cash for Clunkers program sales were up for a few of the automakers. Toyota, Honda and Ford saw sales increase by 10.5%, 14.2% and 17%, respectively. Although GM was down 20.2% and Chrysler by 15%.

The Toyota Camry surpassed the Ford F-Series to become the best selling vehicle in the US last month, although the F-Series also had a good month. New to the list for August was the Hyundai Elantra, likely due to increased sales from the Cash for Clunkers program. The Honda CR-V also made a return this month, surpassing the Ford Escape, which is missing this time.

* Toyota Camry: 54,396
* Ford F-Series: 45,590
* Honda Civic: 43,294
* Toyota Corolla: 43,061
* Honda Accord: 39,726
* Chevy Silverado: 32,421
* Honda CR-V: 30,284
* Nissan Altima: 26,833
* Ford Focus: 25,547
* Hyundai Elantra: 21,673

Mercedes to Take Sprinter Van Away from Dodge by Jan 1


Mercedes-Benz is planning on getting into the commercial van business in the US and will appoint up to 120 dealers to sell the Sprinter van. Currently Dodge sells the Sprinter van through 350 of its dealers. The contracts with the Dodge dealers will be canceled by Jan 1, 2010, which means there will no longer be a Dodge version of the Sprinter. Dodge has been selling the Sprinter since 2003.

In January the Sprinter will be branded as a Mercedes-Benz in the US. The Sprinter will be launched with a 3.0-liter, V-6 common-rail diesel in all 50 states.

BMW Set to Take Top Sales Spot from Lexus


BMW is only a few thousand units behind sales leader Lexus, which could mean that there could be a new top-selling luxury brand in the US by the end of the year. Lexus has been in the number 1 spot for the past nine years.

"We're really breathing down Lexus' neck," said Jim O'Donnell, CEO of BMW Group's North American sales operation, during an Automotive Press Association luncheon Tuesday.

"We were slightly ahead of Lexus (in sales) until July," he said. "But we expect business to pick up and have a strong fourth quarter. We could catch them."

Through August BMW has sold 129,176 units compared to the 131,469 units Lexus has sold.

Love the Porsche 911, but want something even more exclusive...well here you go. Porsche has unveiled the 911 Sport Classic that is only available to a very few, but lucky 250 customers.

Developed by Porsche's in house Porsche Exclusive, the 911 Sport Classic is based on the Carrera S, but features a wider body and a newly developed double-dome roof. It also features a new front apron with a unique lip spoiler and outback the rear spoiler is fixed in position like the legendary ducktail on the 1973 Carrera RS 2.7.

The 911 Sport Classic is powered by a 408-hp 3.8L mated to a six-speed manual transmission.

Inside the exclusivity continues with new materials that have never been used by Porsche, such as woven leather made up of smooth leather strips and woven yarn featured on the seat centerpieces. The dashboard is finished in Espresso Nature natural leather, which is a distinctive contrast to the exclusive body paint in Sport Classic Grey.

Sales begin in Europe in January 2010 for a starting price of 169,300 Euros.

Toyota has released single shots of the vehicles it is planning on unveiling at the Frankfurt Motor Show later this month.

The more exciting shot is of the Lexus LF-Ch concept which is meant to go head to head with the BMW 1 Series, Audi A3 and Volvo C30. Under the hood of the concept is a version of Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive system.

The LF-Ch will be joined by the Auris HSD Full Hybrid Concept, which Toyota claims is the first application of Toyota's full hybrid technology in a mainstream model. Toyota's other hybrid, the Prius will be unveiled in plug-in hybrid form. Lastly two Q show cars (iQ for Sports and iQ Collection) will hit the Scion stage at the show.

2010 Dodge Caliber Gets a New Interior...Thank You!


The Dodge Caliber has consistently received negative marks for its low grade interior. To hopefully improve its standing in the hatchback segment, Chrysler has finally updated its interior.

The 2010 Caliber gets a new, better looking interior, which hopefully ditches the crappy hard plastic from the current model. Although Chrysler has addressed one main issue with the Caliber, we in the US still have to make due with the current engine. Europe on the other hand now has the option of the new 2.2-liter Common-rail Diesel (CRD) engine. The diesel puts out 163-hp and 236 lb-ft. of torque. It delivers 16 percent more power, 3 percent more torque and 25 percent more towing capability than the old diesel engine.

2010 Hyundai Sonata Shots Keep Leaking Out...


More shots of the 2010 Hyundai Sonata have hit the internet before its official launch in South Korea.

The all-new Sonata ditches its conservative styling for a more curvaceous body with a longer nose and coupe-like roofline. Hyundai claims that the all-new Sonata expresses Hyundai's "fluidic sculpture" design language.

Stay tuned for the official launch in Korea on Sept 10th. The US should receive the new Sonata sometime next year as a 2011 model.

2010 Volvo C70 Photos Hit the Internet Ahead of Frankfurt

| 1 Comment

Volvo is set to unveil a revised C70 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, but the first shots have been unveiled. Although Volvo has yet to release an official press release with the photos, we have our first look at the changes to the 2010 C70.

The changes to the new C70 are mainly on the exterior with new more swept back headlights, a larger grille and new taillights and rear bumper. The single interior shot doesn't look much different than the current model.

Since Volvo has yet to release a press release it's not known if there are any changes under the hood.

Stay tuned...

2010 Honda Accord Crosstour Finally Shows Itself...Ugly?


Honda's newest crossover the Accord Crosstour has been showing up in spy photos and has lately been teased on Facebook, but here are the first two official shots.

These two shots don't show off the prettiest car, but who knows maybe people will flock to it. What do you think? Stay tuned for more photos and info soon...

Monthly Archives


About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from September 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

August 2009 is the previous archive.

October 2009 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

March 2017

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31