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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Car News

LaHood Encourages U.S. Ban on All Mobile Phone Use While Driving

On: Mon, Oct 11, 2010 at 11:14AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

LaHood Encourages U.S. Ban on All Mobile Phone Use While Driving test 1-1

Ray LaHood, United States Transportation Secretary, made a recent statement that he believes a ban should be passed on the use of all cell phones while driving, including hands-free calling and texting.  

Lahood has led the campaign against texting while driving that has resulted in 30 states adopting laws that prohibit motorists from making calls and/or texting while operating a motor vehicle. The government transportation secretary also voiced concern regarding programs such as Ford Motor Company’s Sync and GM’s OnStar program as far as causing driver distraction.

“I don't want people talking on phones, having them up to their ear or texting while they're driving,” LaHood said in an interview this week. “We need a lot better research on other distractions, including Bluetooth-enabled hands-free calls and the in-car systems,” he said.

While Lahood’s campaign against mobile phones being used while driving may not necessarily end up in a ban of cell phones in all states, it’s likely that Lahood may influence automakers to reduce the production of technical features such as the Sync.  

According to Olivia Alair, spokeswoman for the NHTSA, “even hands-free phone conversations are a cognitive distraction.”  
Lahood plans to meet with U.S. automakers in order to attempt to gain support for his campaign to limit distracted driving, he announced in a recent interview.

Jaguar/Land Rover to Hit the Market With 13 New Models Over Five Years

On: Mon, Oct 11, 2010 at 10:59AM | By: Chris Weiss

Jaguar/Land Rover to Hit the Market With 13 New Models Over Five Years  test 1-1

A new Motor Trend report indicates that Jaguar and sister company Land Rover plan to remain very busy over the next half-decade. The companies will combine to bring no less than 13 new models to market between now and 2015.

After being sold from Ford to Indian company Tata Motors in 2008, Jaguar and Land Rover are ready to hit the market with a surge of new models. The 13-model barrage is actually already underway and began with the 2012 Rover Evoque, which Land Rover introduced over the summer and recently debuted at the Paris Motor Show. That three-door is billed as the smallest, lightest, most fuel-efficient Range Rover ever and features 2.0-liter turbocharged four and 2.2-liter turbodiesel options under the hood. It will be offered with both front- and all-wheel drive configurations.

After the Evoque debuts next year, Land Rover will follow up with an all-new Range Rover in 2012, followed by a new Range Rover Sport. Both those models will be seated on the same platform. Those models will get choices of V6-, V8- and hybrid-based powertrains.

The final piece of the Land Rover puzzle mentioned by Motor Trend is a new Defender coming for 2015. That model will be offered in three different wheelbases and up to six different body styles.

Mitsubishi Offers Online Test Drive for the Outlander Sport

On: Mon, Oct 11, 2010 at 10:48AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Mitsubishi Offers Online Test Drive for the Outlander Sport test 1-1

Mitsubishi Motors has created the first online test drive of its kind in an attempt to improve its image as a highly evolved technical brand and to create positive PR with its customers as well.

The new Outlander Sport 2011 model is now available to test drive online at the new Mitsubishi Live Drive website. An interactive remote control enables the user to actually experience what it would be like to drive the Outlander in a “closed course in Southern California,” according to a recent Automotive News.com article.

The site will be available from the 1st through the 10th of November to U.S. residents who are 18 or older; a valid driver’s license number must be entered in order to register at the site on www.outlandersport.com.   

The online test drive is part of a new marketing campaign to launch the Outlander Sport, that will begin October 15th; the campaign includes television, direct mail, print, and digital media that works by allowing users to drive the Outlander via remote control hardware using the arrow keys on the computer keyboard. The driver’s seat has a camera to provide an online video “feed to computer screens of the virtual test drivers, which steer the vehicle around the closed course,” according to Automotive News.com.

GM to Invest $145 million in Michigan Plant to Build Compact Buick Sedan

On: Fri, Oct 8, 2010 at 4:08PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

GM to Invest $145 million in Michigan Plant to Build Compact Buick Sedan   test 1-1

General Motors plans to invest $145 million to build a new compact Buick to be named the Verano. The Chevy Aveo subcompact will be built alongside the Verano under contract for a new labor agreement. The Aveo is slotted to be the very first subcompact assembled in the United States to be profitable.

GM stated that the tooling for the Verano and Aveo will be installed at the Orion Township assembly plant in Detroit by summer 2011. Production will begin in the second half of the year. Both vehicles be launched in 2011 as 2012 models. Mark Reuss, president of North American GM stated that “the Verano will be Buick's first compact car in 20 years.”

Mark Reuss, GM’s president of North American operations, said the Verano will be a premium car  designed for buyers who want luxury in something smaller than the new Regal sedan. The Verano evolved from a strategy at GM to attract new customers with a wide variety of small, fuel efficient cars. GM is hopeful that the plan will put the company in a better position in the compact car segment market, which is a competitive part of the market in which GM has NOT been on the cutting edge.


Jaguar Doing Production Evaluation On C-X75 Hybrid SuperCar

On: Fri, Oct 8, 2010 at 3:55PM | By: Chris Weiss

Jaguar Doing Production Evaluation On C-X75 Hybrid SuperCar test 1-1

We fell in love with it the minute we saw it. Autoweek gave it the "Best of Show" for the Paris Motor Show. And I think every car journalist, fan, and show-goer has been quietly thinking the same thing: "Please, please, please consider producing the Jaguar C-X75." Porsche did it with the 918 Spyder Hybrid, so crossing fingers doesn't seem like an entirely futile effort, despite the official line that the C-X75 is a concept with no plans for production.

Well, it looks like Jaguar will follow in Porsche's lead in running a production feasibility study of the C-X75, as told to Autocar by anonymous sources. The company will consider the viability of producing between 1,000 and 2,000 models.

Denny Hamlin Boosts Toyota's Sprint Cup Hopes

On: Fri, Oct 8, 2010 at 9:25AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Denny Hamlin Boosts Toyota's Sprint Cup Hopes  test 1-1

Denny Hamlin has reportedly signed through 2011 with Joe Gibbs Racing; although no official contract details are available, but it is widely believed Hamlin's contract looks like it is through at least 2011.

That the Joe Gibbs Racing driver is in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup isn’t surprising—he’s qualified for the 10-race playoff for five consecutive years. That he’s leading the point standings? Well, that’s another matter. “It is a little different position than we’ve been in,” Hamlin admitted Friday. “Usually I’m at least 80 or 90 points behind when we get to this race right here.”

“And I’ve always felt like I had to make up points and then I would get even more frustrated if we lost more points to whoever the championship leader was at the time.” Toyota is seeking its first championship at NASCAR’s highest level and Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch are the only two Toyota representatives in the 12-driver Chase. After Sunday's race at Kansas, Hamlin who finished 12th, is currently second in the standings, eight points behind Jimmy Johnson. Busch, who finished 21st, is 80 points out.

Chevy Volt Gets New $500 Charger and Tax Breaks

On: Thu, Oct 7, 2010 at 3:41PM | By: Chris Weiss

Chevy Volt Gets New $500 Charger and Tax Breaks  test 1-1

The Chevy Volt has just gotten a whole lot cheaper. In Lansing, Michigan. The Lansing Board of Water and Light announced this week that it will offer Lansing residents a matching grant of up to $7,500, which will double the tax break offered by the federal government, cutting up to a full $15 grand off the Volt's base price. That means Lansing Volt buyers will have the opportunity to walk away from the Chevy dealership with a $26,000 Volt. Not only does Lansing's program double the overall incentive to buy a Volt, it pays right on the spot rather than in the form of a tax credit.

In other Volt news, Chevy announced a new 240-volt charger that will cost $490 and will cut charging time to four hours.

Lansing's program is limited to the first 25 plug-in buyers, so if you live in the city and want to buy a plug-in at some point in the near future, you'd best act fast. While the program applies to plug-ins in general, the Chevy Volt will hit the market long before the Nissan Leaf, so all 25 spots are likely to go to Volt buyers. However, the program allows for people buying Volts or other federally eligible plug-ins elsewhere and then moving them to the Lansing area for coverage under the program.

There are already at least 29 people signed up for the grant, confirming that it will be highly competitive. Lansing hopes to allocate more money to the program to expand it to more consumers.

Saab Returns to Mexico, China, and Russia in 2011

On: Thu, Oct 7, 2010 at 3:27PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Saab Returns to Mexico, China, and Russia in 2011 test 1-1

Saab Automobile, the Swedish carmaker owned by Spyker Cars NV, plans to start selling cars in China, Russia, Brazil, and Mexico in the first half of next year, according to SAAB sales chief, Adrian Hallmark. Saab is negotiating with potential distributers in the four countries and has set a goal to reach agreements by the end of the year, Hallmark said late yesterday.

"In the next two years the new markets will not materially change our performance volume-wise, but in the next five years I believe they will fundamentally change our performance,” Hallmark said. The export of Saab to China and Russia was put on hold during the economic crisis in 2008 and recently Saab has decided to revisit plans for exporting its vehicels to foriegn markets again.

Hallmark stated that Saab “intends to become profitable by 2012. While the company is now focusing on re-establishing itself in the U.S. and Europe, growth markets such as China will be key to its long-term success.”

First Chance at 2011 Camaro Convertible Comes in Neiman Marcus Christmas Book

On: Thu, Oct 7, 2010 at 3:17PM | By: Chris Weiss

First Chance at 2011 Camaro Convertible Comes in Neiman Marcus Christmas Book  test 1-1

The Chevy Camaro Convertible will hit the market in the first quarter of next year with a base price of $30,000. That's for us regular muscle drop-top lovin' folks. If you happen to have the funds to be able to invest more than double in an exclusive Camaro SS Convertible, you'll be able to place your order in a few short weeks. Neiman Marcus Christmas Book, a unique holiday catalog for the wealthy, hard to buy for, and jaded will offer the market's first Camaro Convertible beginning later this month. Not only will Neiman customers get to be the first to order the convertible Camaro, they'll be treated to a model with luxurious accents inside and out.

The most compelling part about the limited edition Camaro SS Convertible is that it features a unique, Deep Bordeaux metallic paint that actually changes tint depending upon the light outside. Under low light conditions, it appears to be nearly black, but as it gets brighter outside, the car's deep red undertones begin to pop. "Ghosted" racing stripes help to bring the look home.

Inside, the model gets a variety of leather, Deep Bordeaux, and amber accents to separate it from those average Camaro SS Convertibles that will be hitting the masses next year. It features amber leather seats, black leather side panels, and red accents on the steering wheel and shifter.

Mechanically, the Neiman Marcus Camaro is indistinguishable from the regular Camaro SS Convertible. It features a 6.2-liter V8 engine worth up to 426 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. That powerplant can be paired with either a six-speed automatic or six-speed manual.

Redial 911!

On: Thu, Oct 7, 2010 at 11:21AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Redial 911! test 1-1

Over the last fifty years, fewer cars have done more and less to improve their flagship model than Porsche has with its 911. The technological advancements have been astounding: going from air to water cooling, adding turbos, more turbos, transmissions that house four, five, six, and even seven speeds that vary in mode from the traditional manual, to semi-automatic, to full automatic, all while steadily improving horsepower numbers. However, it takes a keen eye to visually distinguish a 385hp 911 from a 620hp monster. This is because Porsche has done almost nothing to change the basic appearance of the 911 since its inception back in 1963.

For 2011 Porsche has decided to unveil another version of the all too familiar shaped model:  The Carrera GTS

Set to make its official debut at the Paris motor show, the new GTS is rationalized by Porsche as fitting the gap between the current 385hp Carrera S and the 435hp GT3, which it does almost perfectly by producing 408hp (a perfect split would be 410hp for the record) and an identical torque peak 310lb-ft as the Carrera S, but coming in at 4200 rpm as opposed to the S’s 4400 rpm from the same 3.8 liter horizontally opposed boxer six. Driver’s choice of transmission is either a standard six-speed manual or a paddle-shifted, seven-speed PDK dual-clutch unit. Fuel mileage remains unchanged from the Carrera S’s 18/25 city/highway mpg.  

2011 Hyundai Sonata and BMW 5 Series Get 5-Star Crash Ratings Under NHTSA's Stricter Testing

On: Wed, Oct 6, 2010 at 4:47PM | By: Chris Weiss

2011 Hyundai Sonata and BMW 5 Series Get 5-Star Crash Ratings Under NHTSA's Stricter Testing test 1-1

Over the summer, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that it was implementing stricter crash testing procedures for the 2011 model year. The new system includes a single, multi-star rating for the first time, and initial test results indicate that only two cars will occupy the top, 5-star slot: the 2011 Hyundai Sonata and the 2011 BMW 5 Series.

The 5-star rating reflects the newly implemented "Overall Vehicle Score," which combines frontal crash testing, side crash testing, and rollover resistance testing. The testing procedures are more rigorous under the NHTSA's revised procedures. In addition to the new overall score, NHTSA's rating procedure now incorporates a new side pole crash test, includes weighting based upon crash-prevention technologies like electronic stability control, and uses female crash test dummies for the first time.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said of the new procedures: “With our upgraded Five-Star Safety Ratings System, we’re raising the bar on safety. Through new tests, better crash data, and higher standards, we are making the safety ratings tougher and more meaningful for consumers.”

Initially, the BMW 5 Series stood alone in the 5-star category, but Hyundai asked that the NHTSA retest the Sonata, which was originally given a 4-star rating. Upon the second testing, the NHTSA agreed with Hyundai that the Sonata is 5-star material.