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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Car News

North American Car of the Year Contestant List Shortened

On: Mon, Sep 27, 2010 at 3:33PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

 North American Car of the Year Contestant List Shortened  test 1-1

The North American Car and Truck of the Year award ceremony is impending for 2011 model year awards. Ford Motor Co., Kia Motors Corp., and General Motors Co. are the auto makers at the top of the list most likely to take this year's Truck and Car of the Year honors.

North American automotive journalists writing for magazines, newspapers, websites, television, and radio, from Canada and the United States will judge the awards.

Originally 27 new cars were eligible for the 2011 Car of the Year award, but recently, that number was narrowed to only 14 vehicles that judges deemed worthy of consideration.

There are also 14 trucks on the list to be considered for the 2011 Truck of the Year award.

All in all, there are 4 European models, 4 domestic models (including GM which has 3 cars on the list), 4 Japanese Models, and 2 Korean models on the list for the final honors.

On December 16th of this year, the final winners will be announced in Detroit. In January a press conference will take place just before next year's Detroit auto show, to announce the winner of the North American Car and Truck of the year for 2011 models.

Ford Says Fiesta Buyers Seek High End Options

On: Mon, Sep 27, 2010 at 9:23AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ford Says Fiesta Buyers Seek High End Options test 1-1

Initial sales numbers are in for this year’s Ford Fiesta, and surprisingly the data shows that a high percentage of consumers are purchasing higher-end features for the small economy car. The Fiesta has helped to boost sales for Ford Motor Company this year in an otherwise flat market, according to officials at Ford.

In fact, according to a recent Automotive News article, only approximately 7% of all Fiestas sold in the United States this year were ordered with standard features since the 2011 Fiesta was launched in June 2010. As many as 93% of the Fiestas sold included models with high end features such as satellite radio, ambient interior lighting, heated front seats, keyless acces and starting, chrome exterior trim, alarm, cruise control, aerodynamic aids, alloy wheels, heated power mirrors, or illuminated door sills.

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Gets More Efficient

On: Fri, Sep 24, 2010 at 4:51PM | By: Chris Weiss

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Gets More Efficient  test 1-1

The Bugatti Veyron has been in innumerable articles and blog posts the past two months thanks to the Super Sport variant's record-breaking 268-mph top speed. Now the namesake is in the news for something completely different, something that car fans probably would have never expected to see the Veyron being covered for: fuel economy.

No, the electric Veyron rumored earlier this year hasn't made a debut, and Bugatti hasn't cut out any of the 16 cylinders or 8 liters of the Veyron's powerplant. But the car did manage a nominal year-over-year increase in fuel economy according to official EPA numbers. The Bugatti's great efficiency bragging rights? It upped highway mileage from 14 mpg in the 2010 model to 15 mpg in the 2011 model in the most recent EPA testing. City mileage is still an atrocious 8 mpg, but who the heck drives a Veyron in city traffic anyway?

While the Veyron's fuel economy is still one of the lowest out of any car's, a 1-mpg boost is an achievement for a car that's capable of draining a tank of gas in 12 minutes. However, we don't think that it will be much of a factor for potential buyers.

Toyota Announces New Pricing for 2011 Prius, Highlander, and F.J. Cruiser

On: Fri, Sep 24, 2010 at 1:16PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

2011 Toyota Highlander test 2

Toyota has recently announced the introduction of the new 2011 Highlander and Highlander Hybrid mid-size SUV, as well as a change in the price for the Prius mid-size hatchback, Venza crossover, and the FJ Cruiser mid-size SUV.  The new 2011 Highlander models will be available for retail sale this month. The 2011 Venza will arrive at dealers early next month, followed by the 2011 Prius, and then the new 2011 FJ Cruiser in late November.

The Highlander gets upgrades to standard equipment such as a standard 50/50-split third-row with rear climate control, improving both cargo flexibiliy, and passenger comfort. A new Tech Audio package includes a USB port, integrated satellite radio, and Bluetooth hands-free phone and streaming audio. In addition to featuring the Star Safety System, which is standard on all Toyota models, the 2011 Highlander will receive standard Smart Stop Technology, Toyota’s brake override system. The 2011 Highlander model will also receive a refreshed interior and exterior including an all new hood, fenders, and front fascia.

The sticker price for Highlander will start at $27,390 for the base model, 4-cylinder, 2-WD model; the SE V6 2-WD will be $33,150, and the V-6 Limited 4WD model will be $36,345. The list price for Highlander Hybrid will range from $37,290 for the base model to $42,945.
Toyota’s best selling Prius hybrid vehicle will also get a price increase with a new list price of between $23,050 for the Prius Two model to $28,320 for the Prius Five model, which is an increase of 0.9% to 1.1%.

Toyota’s 2011 new generation Venza crossover will be equipped with Smart Stop Technology, the list price will range from $26,475 for the four-cylinder FWD model, to $29,750 for the V6 AWD, an increase of $200, or 0.7 to 0.8 percent.


Update: New Chinese Policy May Force Automakers to Share Technology; Dingell Outraged!

On: Fri, Sep 24, 2010 at 9:44AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Update: New Chinese Policy May Force Automakers to Share Technology; Dingell Outraged!  test 1-1

The latest automotive news related to the Chinese government’s intention to gain information from other automakers for its advantage in the renewable energy market is not a topic for discussion in the U.S. House of Representatives.

United States Representative John Dingell, D-Mich., has made a statement that he felt “outraged” about the government in China for attempting to put pressure on automakers around the world to reveal technology blueprints for electric vehicles in exchange for the privilege of selling cars to China’s booming automotive market.

Dingell stated that China’s imposed arrangement would “violate the sanctity of the intellectual property laws we hold so dear in the United States.” Dingell said in a recent e-mail statement that “the step would violate Chinese obligations as a World Trade Organization member.”

Rolls Royce Ghost Coupe and Convertibles on the Horizon?

On: Fri, Sep 24, 2010 at 9:38AM | By: Chris Weiss

Rolls Royce Ghost Coupe and Convertibles on the Horizon?  test 1-1

About a year ago, Rolls Royce unveiled its attractive, two-toned Ghost sedan at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. A report today indicates that it's considering spinning the Ghost into a full line with both coupe and convertible models.


Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes told Bloomberg in an interview: “I'm quite confident that we're going to see a Ghost derivative to come. There's still a lot of potential in the market." 
The Ghost, a $250,000 model that slates in under the Phantom, went on sale last year and has helped Rolls Royce recover from a down year in 2009. Mueller-Oetvoesent didn't go into specific details about what Ghost derivatives might be planned, instead deflecting that decision onto customer demand. Possibilities include usual suspects like a coupe that could offer even more performance than the sedan version and a drop-top.
Rolls Royce is in the process of recovering sales after the recessed economy cut demand for $300,000 ultra-premiums. As of August of this year, Rolls sold 1,467 units, already breaking its single-year record under BMW ownership of 1,212 cars in 2008. It aims to break the 2,000-car mark by year-end.

Chevy To Reincarnate Used Volt Batteries For The Power Grid

On: Thu, Sep 23, 2010 at 4:57PM | By: Chris Weiss

Chevy To Reincarnate Used Volt Batteries For The Power Grid test 1-1

The Chevy Volt is scheduled to go on sale in November of this year, and with an estimated 10 years of battery life it will be a while before used lithium-ions start showing up at battery recycling centers around the country. Chevy is already beginning to prepare for this inevitable event, however, looking to identify possible future uses for the Volt batteries. Toward this end, the automaker announced a partnership with Swiss power grid company ABB Group.

The two companies will work on a pilot program designed to research different purposes that used 16 kW batteries from Volts can serve in the greater energy landscape. According to GM's press release, even after the batteries require replacement within the Volt, they can continue to be used for storage.

"The Volt’s battery will have significant capacity to store electrical energy, even after its automotive life," said Micky Bly, GM Executive Director of Electrical Systems, Hybrids, Electric Vehicles and Batteries. "That’s why we’re joining forces with ABB to find ways to enable the Volt batteries to provide environmental benefits that stretch far beyond the highway."

Transportation Secretary LaHood's Message to Automakers: 'No More [Technological] Distractions'

On: Thu, Sep 23, 2010 at 4:22PM | By: Chris Weiss

Transportation Secretary LaHood's Message to Automakers: 'No More [Technological] Distractions' test 1-1

At a distracted driving summit this week, Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood sent out a new edict to automakers: enough of the gadgets, gizmos, and technological wonders that are going to distract drivers. He detailed plans to work with automakers toward creating new regulatory standards for in-vehicle technology. As systems like MyFord and in-vehicle Wi-Fi gain more popularity, it should be interesting to see how the government responds.

Over the past several years, vehicles have been incorporating new types of technology that include integrated hard drives for MP3s, Internet capabilities, and even social networking. Automakers make their way to the Consumer Electronics Show, in addition to the myriad auto shows around the world, to launch and demonstrate their latest electronic marvels.

While these changes reflect a society that is more connected to and dependent upon technology than generations past, they also present big, new implications for road safety. Texting and driving, talking on a cell phone, and other distractions have long been considered a major bane on highways, so what happens when technologies like Internet, Facebook, and Twitter start showing up right on your dashboard?

Ford Goes Crazy With F-150 Engine Options

On: Thu, Sep 23, 2010 at 3:09PM | By: John Welch

Ford Goes Crazy With F-150 Engine Options test 1-1

Ford had increased the quality, reliablilty, and safety of its automotive fleet over the past two years, and now it is increasing engine choices. The Ford F-150, long known as the best selling truck in America, is recieving a much-needed dose of "engine-choice" for 2011, and we have the details on all four powerplants. A word of advice to Chevy and Dodge: pushrods might not be the way to go anymore . . .

Along with two V8 options, the new F-150 will also bring back the V6, in a big way! There is the typical base option, Ford's corporate 3.7 liter making 302 bhp and 278 pound feet of torque. Think about the typical six-cylinder option leveled on trucks of yore: heavy, slow, and not much more economical than their octo-cylinder counterparts. No longer the case! Along with the base engine, Ford is also offering the 3.5 liter Eco-Boost six, pumping out 355 horses and a certified 420 pound feet of stump-pulling torque. Combined with a looong torque curve, this engine should prove popular once the added complication of twin-turbos is no longer scaring off customers.

And thus, a good question is raised. Will truck buyers overlook the stereotypes associated with these modern engines? The added cost and complexity? The possiblity that these techno-marvels will require more than a set of wrenchs and a couple of biceps to repair? Will the V8s out sell the sixes solely based on familiarity?

Toyota A-BAT Concept Pickup; Will Other Automakers Follow Suit?

On: Thu, Sep 23, 2010 at 2:13PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Toyota A-BAT Concept Pickup; Will Other Automakers Follow Suit?  test 1-1

Now that Ford Motor Company has announced the official plans to discontinue the production of the Ford Ranger, what is next in a small-sized pickup truck for Ford; will a new prototype be popping up soon to replace the Ranger?

Ford plans to get rid of the Ranger sometime next year and may be planning to replace it with a new vehicle built on the next generation Ford Focus platform.

It certainly seems that there continues to be a market for a small Ranger-type pickup as evidenced by the popularity of the Toyota A-BAT pickup concept at this year’s Detroit auto show. The vehicle is as small as a Toyota Corolla, with four seats and small (4-foot) cargo box.       

The A-BAT has some unique features, such as the midgate which is positioned between the back seats and the tailgate. The midgate can be lowered to create a cargo floor that can be expanded to reach from the cargo box all the way through the back seats up to the front seats of the cab. Extending the space of the cargo box would allow for hauling of a cargo up to 4x8 feet.

Ford Could See Earnings Decline Into 2011

On: Thu, Sep 23, 2010 at 12:51PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ford Could See Earnings Decline Into 2011 test 1-1

Credit Suisse has projected that Ford Motor Co. may continue to realize decreasing profits into 2011. Financial analysts project that Ford Motor Co. may possibly see a decline in profits from 2010 to 2011 as a result of increased cost for materials and structural costs, as well as the rise in future pension expense.

It seems that the cards may be stacked against automakers today in more ways than one. It’s not enough that a slow economy has negatively impacted automotive sales with the lowest level profits since the 80s; Ford now faces the possibility of a $900 million addition to the company’s pension expense.  According to a recent Automotive News article: “an earnings-per-share headwind of about 15 cents to 20 cents; if discount rates remain unchanged and asset returns do not improve, analysts, including Christopher Ceraso, said.”

"To the extent that Ford has been a great earnings momentum story, it will be difficult, in our view, for the shares to push higher in the face of declining earnings," analysts wrote to clients.

Analysts believe that Ford could possibly realize a “step-down” in profits from the financing arm of the company, Ford Credit, which has received benefits this year from gains on higher lease residuals as well as losses from slow repayment of credit accounts, which are at an all-time low.