May 2010 Archives

GM Sued for Creating Sexy Albert Einstein Ad

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem that owns Albert Einstein's publicity rights is suing GM for the unauthorized use of his image in an ad for the GMC Terrain.

The university sued GM in U.S. District Court in California on May 19 for more than $75,000. Einstein willed his publicity rights to the university before he died in 1955.

This is just another marketing issue for GM following the recent commercials which featured Chairman and Chief Executive Ed Whitacre discussing the fact that GM had repaid its federal loans. He was accused of stretching the truth. GM has also switched ad agencies for the Chevy brand twice in the recent months.

According to GM's spokeswoman, Ryndee Carney, GM purchased the right to use Einstein's image from a "reputable firm." GM's ad agency Leo Burnett created the ad which ran in People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" issue last September.

Ford to Finally Kill Mercury

After years of promising new products for its Mercury line, it looks like Ford is finally going to kill Mercury.

Mercury sales have dropped 74 percent since 2000 and without any new product, the sales will only continue to fall. According to sources, Ford's top executives are preparing a proposal to kill Mercury.

Mercury has long been a forgotten brand and the fact that it keeps losing models, only makes it worse. Ford CEO, Alan Mulally originally promised that the brand would survive, but it looks like Mercury is set to follow the same route as Pontiac, Saturn and Oldsmobile and Plymouth.

According to sources, Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford and other members of the founding family all support killing Mercury.

Mercury was originally launched by Edsel Ford, son of Henry Ford in 1939.

Cadillac to Get a Version of the Lambda Crossover

GM currently offers the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse (above) and GMC Acadia, which are all 7-passenger crossovers based on GM's Lambda platform. It was reported before that Cadillac would also be getting a version of the crossover, but that was before GM went into bankruptcy.

Well according to GM's vice president of global engineering, Karl Stracke, the Lambda-based Cadillac crossover is still on.

There is no other info about the new Cadillac crossover. Do you think that GM really needs a fourth Lambda crossover? Lets hope that GM isn't returning to its old method of badge engineering all of its vehicles.

GM is Reportedly Working on a New Small Truck

Although the segment is much smaller than it was in the 80's and other manufacturers are pulling out, GM is working on a new small truck. According to sources GM is working on a new compact truck that will be similar to the originial S-10.

GM's current small trucks, the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon have been losing sales over the past few years and the future of the two trucks is uncertain. GM currently plans to end production of at the Shreveport plant where the two trucks are produced in 2012.

One of the main reasons for the decline of the segment is that the current players like the Toyota Tacoma have gotten bigger and more expensive. Former small truck buyers have moved into the full-size segment because the price tag is often close to that of the current midsize trucks.

GM now sees room for a new small truck that would get better fuel economy than the larger trucks and also be much cheaper. The small truck would be similar in size to the compact pickups of the 1980's.

Ford is planning on Ranger next year, which means Ford truck buyers will have to make due with the F-150. But even though Ford is pulling out of the segment, Chrysler is hoping to produce a successor to the soon to be dead Dodge Dakota. Toyota's Scion is also considering a small truck as well.

Nissan CEO States that the 2011 Leaf is Sold Out

According to Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, the all-electric 2011 Nissan Leaf is already sold out. Since Nissan started taking orders for the Leaf it has already received 13,000 orders, which is equal to the amount that has been allotted to the US.

The Leaf can travel up to 100 miles on a single charge and has a top speed of 90 mph. It takes about eight hours to charge on a 220-volt outlet or 20 hours on a 110-volt outlet.

The Leaf comes in two trim levels. The base SV model is priced at $32,780, but would actually cost as little as $25,280 after the federal tax credit up to $7,500. The higher trim level starts at $33,720.

The Leaf will go on sale in select markets this December.

Spied: 2011 VW Jetta Shows up in Detroit

It looks like we have two shots of the upcoming 2011 VW Jetta. A forum member at GM Inside News posted two photos of the next-generation Jetta driving around in Detroit.

Even though there is a fake emblem on the trunk, it's obvious that the two black prototypes are the new Jetta.

Expect to see the new Jetta debut later this year with sales starting early next year.

The BMW 5-Series GT has been on the market a few months, but sales have failed to take off or at least to a level that BMW had hoped. BMW executives are now admitting that they may have launched with the wrong model mix. At launch the 5-Series GT was only available with rear-wheel-drive and a V8 engine (550GT).

"The V-8 was probably not the right car to launch it with," said Rich Brekus, BMW's general manager of sales for North America.

Jim O'Donnell, BMW's North American boss, recently stated that BMW was "too ambitious with the 550 GT."

An all-wheel-drive model is going to launch next month and a six-cylinder in the fall.

Since its launch BMW has sold 1,143 units.

Toyota Prius MPV to be Called Alpha and Debut in March 2011

Toyota is set to expand the Prius range with a new compact minivan, which is reportedly going to be named Alpha. The Prius based minivan, Alpha will be the first Prius model to get lithium-ion batteries. The Prius Alpha is based on the current Prius platform, but will have an extra row of seats. The extra seats mean that the Alpha will be about 300 mm longer than the Prius.

The Prius Alpha will be powered by the same 1.8L Atkinson-cycle petrol engine and THSII hybrid system, but its fuel economy numbers will be slightly less than the combined 50 mpg rating for the Prius sedan.

The Prius Alpha is set to debut in March 2011.

Toyota and Tesla Team up to Create Electric Vehicles

Toyota and Tesla have announced a partnership to develop electric vehicles in northern California.

Toyota is going to purchase $50 million of Tesla's common stock and Tesla has purchased the former NUMMI factory in Fremont, California that used to produce the Toyota Corolla and Tacoma.

"I sensed the great potential of Tesla's technology and was impressed by its dedication to monozukuri (Toyota's approach to manufacturing)," said TMC President Akio Toyoda. "Through this partnership, by working together with a venture business such as Tesla, Toyota would like to learn from the challenging spirit, quick decision-making, and flexibility that Tesla has. Decades ago, Toyota was also born as a venture business. By partnering with Tesla, my hope is that all Toyota employees will recall that 'venture business spirit,' and take on the challenges of the future."

Production of the Model S will take place at the NUMMI plant and will bring back 1,000 employees that will produce up to 20,000 vehicles a year initially. The plant has the capability of employing up to 10,000 employees.

"The Tesla Factory effectively leverages an ideal combination of hardcore Silicon Valley engineering talent, traditional automotive engineering talent and the proven Toyota production system," said Tesla CEO Elon Musk. "The new Tesla Factory will give us plenty of room to grow."

Ford Unveils New 2011 Flex Titanium Model

Ford has unveiled a new top-end model of the Ford Flex, dubbed the Flex Titanium.

The Flex Titanium is based on the Limited model and comes in four exterior color choices: Red Candy, White Platinum, Tuxedo Black and Ingot Silver. All four colors are mated to a new tuxedo black two-tone roof. There is also a blackout treatment for the headlamps and taillamps. The beltline moldings, fog lamp bezels and side-view mirror skull caps are blackened while the liftgate appliqué is now black chrome.

Inside the black theme continues with charcoal black leather-trimmed seats with gray Alcantara suede inserts.

HD Radio and one-touch PowerFold third row seats are also part of the package.

The front-wheel-drive non-turbo V6 model starts at $40,350, while the EcoBoost AWD model goes for $45,185.

GM has officially announced the pricing for the anticipated 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe.

The 2011 CTS coupe goes on sale in August with a starting price of $38,990. It's powered by a 304-hp 3.6L V6 that is available with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic. Buyers can also choose between rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive.

"CTS Coupe is a compelling new alternative for luxury and performance-minded drivers," said Don Butler, vice president of Cadillac marketing. "The addition of a Coupe, especially one this dramatic, provides an important entryway for new consumers to experience Cadillac Art and Science."

If 304-hp isn't enough for you, the CTS-V with its 6.2L supercharged V8 starts at $62,990.

Jeep Releases More Photos of the 2011 Grand Cherokee

The 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee is almost here and Jeep has released several new photos of its new SUV.

Jeep already released the official starting price last week for the new Grand Cherokee ($32,995). The 2011 Grand Cherokee gets Chrysler's all-new 290-hp 3.6L Pentastar V6 that gets an 11 percent improvement in fuel economy with up to 23 mpg on the highway. A 360-hp 5.7L V8 is optional.

The 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee will official enter production tomorrow, May 21st.

Buick Regal GS Gets the Green Light

GM unveiled a concept version of the Regal GS at the Detroit Auto Show in January, but at the time GM would not say if it was going to actually be produced (it made sense that it would). Well Tom Stephens, vice chairman of global product development, confirmed exclusively to The Detroit News that the Regal GS has been approved for production.

Stephens did not give any other details about the high-performance version of the Regal. The Regal GS concept was powered by a turbocharged 2-liter engine with an estimated 255 horsepower that was mated to a six-speed manual and all-wheel-drive.

It's obvious that GM needs more models like this to bring in a younger buyers with the average Buick buyer coming in at 65 years old. Although that is lower than the average age of 72 several years ago.

The production version of the Regal GS could hit showrooms as early as next year.

2011 Porsche Cayenne Starts at $46,700

Porsche has yet to release an official press release about the pricing for the all-new 2011 Cayenne, but if you head over to its US website, the pricing is all there. The 2011 Cayenne, which will be on sale soon starts at $46,700 for the base 3.6L V6 model. The 4.8L V8 S starts at a much higher $63,700, while the Cayenne S hybrid model starts at $67,700.

The base Cayenne is powered by a 300-hp 3.6L V6 mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission. The Cayenne S is powered by a 400-hp 4.8L V8 and the Cayenne hybrid combines a supercharged 333-hp 3.0L V6 with an electric motor for a total 380 horsepower. The top dog is the Cayenne Turbo with its 500-hp 4.8L twin-turbocharged V8 that starts at $104,800.

Ford Kicks off "It's a Pretty Big Deal" 2011 Fiesta Campaign

Ford just announced that the 2011 Fiesta officially gets 40 mpg on the highway and now Ford has announced the launch of a new ad campaign for the new Fiesta, "It's a Pretty Big Deal."

"The Fiesta Movement enabled us to introduce the car to market in a whole new way," said Matt VanDyke, Ford's director of U.S. Marketing Communications. "We are continuing that nontraditional approach with a unique advertising campaign designed to get people's attention by entertaining them as well as educating them about the vehicle."

A new 60 second ad will debut tonight during "American Idol" on FOX.

GM Adds Google Maps to Chevy Volt App

Back in January GM announced the creation of a new OnStar smartphone application for the upcoming Chevy Volt. The application would give Volt owners 24/7 connection and control of their Volt. The application displays charge status, miles per gallon, has the ability to remotely start the vehicle, etc. It was also reported last week that GM has been working with Google to create a new operating system for its vehicles.

Well GM has officially announced that it is indeed working with Google to create a new mobile app for the Chevy Volt.

"While OnStar will never lose sight of our core focus on safety and security, this relationship is an example of how we're evolving our leadership position in connected vehicle technology," said Chris Preuss, OnStar president. "What we're talking about today is only the beginning."

The features of the application that GM unveiled in January will be combined with a new "navigation" tab that will allow Volt owners to use Google Maps to find their vehicles and to integrate Google Maps with the OnStar system for turn by turn voice-guided directions.

There's good news coming out of GM this morning. GM recorded its first quarterly profit in almost three years in the first quarter of this year. During the first quarter of this year, GM made $865 million.

Operating income in the first quarter was $1.2 billion and revenue rose 40 percent to $31.5 billion. GM also generated $1 billion in free cash flow.

GM Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer Chris Liddell stated, "In North America, we are adding production to keep up with strong demand for new products in our four brands. We're also steadily growing in emerging markets, keeping our costs under control, generating positive cash flow and maintaining a strong balance sheet. These are all important steps as we lay the foundation for a successful GM."

According to Inside Line, Nissan execs have discussed the idea of expanding the Infiniti M lineup to include coupe and convertible versions. Mercedes has sedan, coupe and convertible versions of its latest E-Class and BMW is also working on coupe, sedan and convertible versions of its next 6 Series. It only makes since that if Infiniti wants to remain competitive that it offer other versions of the new M.

If Nissan does decide to create a coupe and convertible version of the M its expected that both M37 and M56 variants would be offered.

Next-Gen Honda Civic Delayed Until 2011

The current generation Honda Civic has been on the market since the end of 2005 and normally we would expect the next generation to be on the market by the end of this year, but its been delayed.

According to John Mendel, American Honda Motor Co.'s executive vice president, the redesigned Honda Civic won't arrive until 2011. Mendel claims that changing market conditions and tougher fuel economy regulations have effected the development of the next Civic. Mendel failed to release any other details other than saying that the next Civic will be unveiled sometime next year.

Hopefully we won't have to wait until the end of next year...

2011 Ford Fiesta Officially Rated at 40 MPG Highway

The EPA has officially rated the 2011 Ford Fiesta at 40 mpg highway and 29 mpg in the city when it is equipped with the new six-speed PowerShift automatic transmission.

"The new Fiesta is yet another car in Ford's lineup that delivers class-leading fuel economy," said Barb Samardzich, vice president, Global Powertrain Engineering. "From Super Duty to Fusion Hybrid and the new Mustang V-6, Ford is committed to fuel economy leadership with every new vehicle it introduces in all segments."

The Fiesta is powered by a 1.6L Duratec engine that puts out 120-hp. It can be mated to either the dual-clutch automatic transmission or a five-speed manual. The five speed manual is rated at 28 mpg city and 37 mpg highway.

The 2011 Fiesta sedan and five-door hatchback will be in showrooms this summer.

All-New Ford Explorer Teased in Photo with Chief Designer

The Ford Explorer was once the best-selling SUV for years, but lately its been off the radar with sales dropping sharply the last few years. Well Ford hopes to reverse that with the next-generation Ford Explorer, which for the first time is going to be built off a car platform.

Jim Holland, chief engineer for the redesigned Ford Explorer, is pictured here standing next to the new Explorer. Many of the questions that Ford is getting about the new Explorer surrounds the fact that it is going to ditch its more rugged body-on-frame design. Ford has already revealed a new terrain management system that has five different settings: Normal, mud, sand, snow and hill descent.

The next Explorer is going to actually share its platform with the Taurus, which actually means that it's technically a crossover, but Ford plans to still market it as an SUV. It will be interesting to see how the Explorer does compared to the seven-seater Flex crossover, which has already failed to meet sales expectations.

Production of the new Explorer is expected to start being produced at the end of the year. It remains to be seen if the new Explorer can recapture some of the sales its lost in the past six years.

Acura Unveils the TL A-Spec Limited Edition for Canada

Acura has announced the limited edition TL- A-Spec for our neighbors up north. The TL A-Spec gets 19-inch wheels with special summer tires, a full aero kit, midnight chrome grille and A-Spec badging.

The TL A-Spec also features Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system and can be equipped with either the 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission.

Canadian buyers can get the TL A-Spec for $51,290.

BMW 5 Series Diesel Headed to the US

There have been rumors that BMW is going to bring a diesel powered 5 Series to the US, but now the rumors have been confirmed. Inside Line has received confirmation that a diesel-powered 5 Series is going to be offered in the US.

The BMW official did not give any other details other than saying that the 5 Series diesel will be one of two diesels added to the US lineup. Now if we only knew what the other vehicle will be...

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Starts at $32,995

Chrysler has announced the pricing for the all-new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The new Jeep Cherokee, which will be in showrooms next month starts at $32,995 for the Laredo 4x4 model.

The Jeep Cherokee will be available in three models: Laredo ($32,995), Limited ($39,995) and Overland ($42,995). The standard engine is a new 290-hp 3.6L V6 that gets an 11 percent improvement in fuel economy with up to 23 mpg. A 360-hp 5.7L V8 is optional.

All-New 2011 Volvo S60 Starts at $37,700

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Volvo has announced the pricing for the all-new 2011 S60 sedan that now starts at $37,700 plus an $850 destination fee. The S60 undercuts a comparably equipped BMW 335i xDrive by $7,150 and the Mercedes-Benz C350 by $1,765.

"The all-new S60 has been a long time coming," said VCNA President and CEO, Doug Speck, "but it's been worth the wait. With 300 horsepower, standard all-wheel drive, its stunning design and Volvo's latest technology, it's the kind of car that will put a smile on any driving enthusiast's face." Today's pricing announcement gives the competition pause for thought. "When you consider you can own an extremely well-equipped 2011 Volvo S60 for only $41,400, and that you will pay nothing to repair or maintain the all-new S60 for 5 years or 60,000 miles, it really becomes a no-brainer," continued Speck.

The 2011 S60 is powered by a turbocharged inline six-cylinder with 300 horsepower and 325 lb-ft. of torque. It reaches 0-60 mph in 6.2 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph.

Ford Confirms 7-Seater C-MAX Headed to the US in Late 2011

Ford has announced plans to bring its seven-seater Grand C-MAX to North America in late 2011.

The Grand C-MAX is based off Ford's new c-segment platform, which is shared with the new Focus and the Mazda5. The small minivan marks the return of a Ford vehicle with sliding rear doors. Ford has yet to announce what will power the Grand C-MAX when it goes on sale here.

In addition to the announcement about the Grand C-MAX , Ford also announced plans to release a hybrid version of the five-seater C-MAX in 2013 for European customers.

"The Hybrid Electric and Plug-In Hybrid Electric derivatives of the all-new Ford
C-MAX are great news for the Valencia plant and region, for Spain, and for Ford customers across Europe. These new advanced technology models are key to Ford's commitment to delivering a portfolio of alternative powertrain vehicles globally and to European customers in the next few years," said John Fleming, Chairman and CEO, Ford of Europe and executive vice president of Global Manufacturing and Labour Affairs.

Toyota is Reportedly Working on a Cheaper Baby FT-86

The much anticipated Toyota FT-86 is set to go on sale in 2011. Originally Toyota wanted the car to start below $20,000, but development costs have run way over budget, meaning that the car will definitely cost more than $20k. Now there are rumors that Toyota is working on a milder version of the FT-86 that will be $5,000 cheaper than the FT-86.

The "baby" FT-86 is expected to be about 150 inches long, and be powered by a 109-hp 1.5L engine. It will retain a front-engine/ rear-wheel-drive layout.

If the rumors are true, expect the smaller and cheaper coupe to launch sometime in 2012.

Next-Gen BMW X3 Causes Bomb Scare in New York

Yet another bomb scare in New York City, but this one is a little different. Yesterday a "funky looking" BMW SUV was parked outside of the Museum of Natural History in the Upper West Side of NYC. A passer by called the police after noticing the SUV was parked outside the entrance to the museum and that it was running unattended.

The "funky looking" SUV was actually the next-generation BMW X3 that was covered in camouflage. It seems that Martin Birkmann, a BMW brand manager and test driver was enjoying a picnic in Central Park with his girlfriend, but pressed the wrong button on the key fob to the prototype to remotely turn off the engine. The NYPD bomb squad ended up smashing the rear and side passenger windows of the X3.

Land Rover to Offer Front-Wheel-Drive Version of LRX

When Land Rover launches the production version of the LRX this fall it will it will launch with a front-wheel-drive variant. Land Rover initially ruled out creating a front-wheel-drive LRX, but due to the growth of the front-wheel-drive segment, Land Rover was forced to.

The front-wheel-drive version will not be available at launch, instead it will follow "shortly after" the four-wheel-drive version is launched.

Land Rover has yet to announce what the official name for the "coupe SUV" will be.

Aston Martin has announced plans to bring the V12 Vantage to the US, which is good news especially if you can actually afford it.

The V12 Vantage is powered by a 6.0L V12 engine that puts out 510-hp and 420 lb-ft. of torque. It reaches 0-62 mph in 4.2 seconds and has a top speed of 190 mph.

Aston Martin Chief Executive Officer, Dr Ulrich Bez said: "This is the ultimate performance interpretation of the Vantage range, combining our most agile model with our most powerful engine. It represents the definitive Aston Martin driving experience; providing spectacular performance to ensure a dynamically thrilling drive in a highly exclusive package."

Aston Martin is also going to release limited Carbon Black special edition, which is painted iCarbon Black metallic paint with a subtle metallic twist to create a deep rich patina; painstakingly created through a hand painting process taking 50 man hours. The iconic Aston Martin side strake has been fashioned from real carbon fibre backed by a black mesh and complimented with gloss black 10 spoke diamond turned alloy wheels. A bright finished grille and front parking sensors (normally an option) complete the exterior detailing. Inside, owners will be greeted to swathes of Obsidian Black leather highlighted with a contrast silver coarse stitch.

If you're lucky enough to afford this beauty you can put your order in now. Deliveries are expected to start in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Consumer Reports has announced that it has removed the 2010 Lexus GX 460 from its "Dont Buy" list since Toyota has fixed the handling problems that the publication discovered during its emergency handling tests.

Toyota corrected the issue by fixing the software that allowed the stability control system to not prevent the vehicle from sliding during certain maneuvers. Consumer Reports originally labeled the issue as a safety risk since the vehicle could roll over if the vehicle were to slide and hit a curb or slide off the pavement.

Toyota recalled approximately 10,000 units to fix the issue and suspended sales until a fix was found. On April 29th sales of the GX 460 resumed. It's important to note that there were no injuries reported due to this problem.

Hummer Recalling all H3s Produced Since 2006 to Fix Hood

GM announced today that it is recalling all Hummer H3s produced since the 2006 model year to fix an issue with the hood.

The recall affects 198,404 Hummer H3s and H3Ts. According to Hummer spokesman Nick Richards, a device on the hood called a hood louver can come loose during driving and in some cases it can detach. The louver is a panel on the hood that allows air to enter the engine compartment. It was used to cool the engines of older Hummer models, but on the H3 it was only decorative.

GM is going to repair the hood louver by applying an adhesive to keep it attached to the hood, since the current tabs holding the louver could fracture, causing it to come loose and possibly hit other vehicles if it were to fall off.

GM is currently in the process of shutting down the Hummer brand since the plans to sell the brand to Chinese company Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machines Co., Ltd. (Tengzhong) fell through.

Ferrari's CEO Says No to a Four-Door Sedan

Porsche and Aston Martin have done it, but Ferrari's CEO, Amedeo Felisa is saying that Ferrari will not follow its rivals by making a four-door sedan.

"As Enzo [Ferrari, company founder] would say, we will never do four doors," said Felisa. "And we will keep this tradition."

Ferrari also stated before that it would not make a hybrid or use start-stop technology on its cars, but Felisa had this response, "Hybrid was forced on us by regulation, there is no regulation forcing us to do four doors."

"Frankly speaking no-one is asking for a four-door Ferrari. If you want a four door Ferrari we have a Maserati."

VIDEO: Aston Martin One-77 Caught Driving Around London

The awesome Aston Martin One-77 was recently caught driving around in London.

The One-77 is powered by a 7.3L V12 that puts out more than 700-hp. It reaches 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds and has a top speed over 200 mph. Only 77 units are going to be produced. Unfortunately the car is out of the price range for most since it's going for $2 million bucks.

Audi R8 GT Unveiled... It's Lighter and More Powerful

Over the weekend Audi unveiled the R8 GT, which is an even more powerful, but lighter R8.

The R8 GT is powered by the 5.2L V10 that now puts out 560-hp up from 525. It propels the R8 from 0-62 mph in 3.6 seconds and reaches 124 mph in 10.8 seconds. The R8 GT also has a top speed of 198 mph.

Engineers were able to trim 220 lbs from the weight of the R8 by using a thinner glass windshield and lightweight polycarbonate for the rear windows. Carbon fiber was also used for the rear hatch and rear bumper to save even more weight.

Only 333 R8 GTs will be produced and in Germany it goes for €193,000. Audi hasn't announced how many, if any at all will be sent to the US.

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