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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Car News

Toyota Denies that it Will Discontinue the Sequoia

On: Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 9:33AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Toyota Denies that it Will Discontinue the Sequoia  test 1-1

In recent auto news, Toyota Motor Co. is denying the rumor that it will discontinue the Sequoia.The Sequoia is the largest SUV in the Toyota line-up, named after the tree that is known to grow to be one of the largest trees in the world. There are four versions of the Sequoia, each powered by the same 5.7-litre V8 engine, which puts out 381 hp. The engine is attached to a six-speed automatic gearbox driving all four wheels, not an economic fuel efficient vehicle by any means.

Rumor has it that the slow selling vehicle would be retiring soon, after the current model has expired, but Toyota has responded to those innuendos with a strong rebuttal, stating: 

“Toyota denies any reports of the discontinuation of the Sequoia. For obvious competitive reasons, Toyota does not discuss future product plans. Sequoia continues to be a profitable, high-quality vehicle for Toyota and several years remain in the life of the current generation. Our focus remains on building our vehicles, including the Sequoia, with the highest possible quality.”

There are four versions of the Sequoia, each powered by the same 5.7-litre V8 engine, which puts out 381 hp. The engine is attached to a six-speed automatic gearbox driving all four wheels, not an economic fuel efficient vehicle by any means.

Arbitration Cases Settled For Chrysler Dealership

On: Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 10:04AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Arbitration Cases Settled For Chrysler Dealership  test 1-1

The verdict is in for Chrysler arbitration cases; final count: 73 wins and 32 losses for Chrysler Corporation resulting from law suits that were filed against the company when it closed 789 dealerships after bankruptcy in 2009. The arbitration hearings, which were mandated by Congress, began in April this year and continued through the middle of July, with the final decisions being announced this week.

The arbitrators that ruled in favor of Chrysler made reference to the company’s post bankruptcy strategy to merge Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, and Jeep together into single dealerships. 

For the dealerships that won their cases, the main factors that supported the decisions were how fast Chrysler closed the dealerships, as well as how many total dealerships were closed; in fact, the Inspector General for the U.S. Troubled Relief Program had investigated those issues as well.

Lawyers who represented the dealers stated that more of them would have won provided the audit by Neil Barofsky had been released, giving arbitrators access to the information gathered from the audit before making their final decisions.

Enterprise to Rent Out Nissan Leafs in Eight Cities

On: Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 9:16AM | By: Chris Weiss

Enterprise to Rent Out Nissan Leafs in Eight Cities  test 1-1

Want to get some on-road testing time behind the wheel of an electric vehicle without committing to buying one? Nissan and Enterprise announced this week that you'll get just that opportunity beginning this January. The Japanese automaker is selling a fleet of 500 Leaf electric vehicles to Enterprise Rent-A-Car. The rental company will distribute the EVs to eight separate locations, allowing car renters the opportunity to give the new electric car an extended test run.

Enterprise, which owns Enterprise, Alamo, and National car rental brands, will introduce the Nissan Leaf models to the Seattle, Portland, Oregon, Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson, Nashville, and Knoxville markets this winter. It's not yet clear if there will be a premium for Leaf rentals, but Enterprise does offer hybrid vehicles at an increased rental price over gas-powered models so electric vehicles are expected to be priced similarly.

The move by Enterprise seems like a positive one all around: consumers in the cities included will have the opportunity to try Nissan's electric vehicle, Nissan will familiarize the market with EV technology, and Enterprise will make a visible move toward embracing clean technology.

Toyota Expects Next Prius Model To Be Built In U.S.

On: Wed, Jul 28, 2010 at 2:26PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Toyota Expects Next Prius Model To Be Built In U.S. test 1-1

According to a Toyota executive, the fourth generation Prius model may be manufactured in the United States. Toyota had historically planned to produce the Prius at its Mississippi plant, but decided to build the Corolla there instead.

"The main components for the Prius—such as the motor and battery—are not mature enough for local production," Executive Vice President Atsushi Niimi said. "We expect that they'll be ready with the next remodeling."
The exact location for the new site for the 2016 fourth generation Prius production has not yet been announced. 

"If you look at unemployment, housing, and other economic indicators there's not much good news. I think it will take time for the market to recover," Niimi said, adding he did not agree that the U.S. market could bear above 12 million units in 2011.

The history of Prius production has a strong connection to the rising fuel prices which resulted in a shortage of Priuses back in 2008 when Toyota announced that the best selling hybrid would be built at a new plant in Mississippi. The Blue Springs plant had originally been intended for building the Highlander SUV, but as the market demanded more Prius models due to soaring prices at the pumps, Toyota changed its plan.



MINI To Take The Countryman Rally Racing

On: Wed, Jul 28, 2010 at 11:45AM | By: John Welch

MINI To Take The Countryman Rally Racing test 1-1

The WRC (The FIA World Rally Championship, if you prefer)  has seen its number of factory-sponsored competitors dwindle in the last few years. Hyundai, Peugeot, Mitsubishi, and even the mighty Subaru have all left the sport since 2007, leaving only Ford and Citroen to duke it out in the hills of Acropolis, the snows of Finland, the rains and gravel of Great Britain.

Like every struggling motorsport organization, the WRC decided to change its rules and attempt to attract more manufacturers through lower costs. Naturally aspirated engines are now strongly advised, and turbocharged engines cannot measure more than 1.6 liters. It will be difficult to push this size engine to the 300 or more reliable horsepower the old 2.0 units were making, but in a few years we should see the return of air restrictors as engineers find ever increasing gobs of power.

One of the manufacturers willing to take on the small bore turbo challenge is MINI, and they aren't taking their rally campaign lightly. Teaming up with Prodrive, the company is responsible for building many successful race cars, Subaru's championship winning WRC team included. Utilizing the nearly-new Coutryman model, MINI and parent company BMW plan to live up to the brand's already prestigious racing history. Their last international rally win coming at the 1967 Rally Monte Carlo; the team is anxious to get a car built and testing underway.

MINI will run a limited schedule in 2011, and look for a full campaign from 2012 on. Their deal with the FIA is for 3 to 4 years, and if successful they will commit to the WRC further.

Porsche Developing New Hybrids and Electrics For Next Year

On: Wed, Jul 28, 2010 at 10:18AM | By: Chris Weiss

Porsche Developing New Hybrids and Electrics For Next Year  test 1-1

Like its parent company Volkswagen, Porsche is hard at work on a new generation of hybrid and electric vehicles that will begin making their way to the market in 2011. The Stuttgart automaker unveiled the Cayenne S Hybrid at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show and announced this week that a Panamera S Hybrid will share a powertrain with the Cayenne model and launch shortly after it. The company is also deep in the works on an electric vehicle, with testing set to begin next year.

The hybrid powertrain that underpins the Panamera S Hybrid will be the same supercharged 333-hp 3.0-liter V6 and 47-hp electric motor pairing that was detailed for the 2011 Cayenne S Hybrid. That powertrain promises to boost efficiency by 20 percent in the Cayenne and offer all-electric driving.

Porsche came out with its hybrid flags flying this past March in Geneva, offering a look at three hybrid vehicles and concepts. The first was the Cayenne S Hybrid, and the other two were the 918 Spyder Hybrid and the 911 GT3 R Hybrid.

The race-specific 911 GT3 R Hybrid features a pairing of two front-axle-mounted 82-hp electric motors and a flywheel generator, which gathers energy from braking and powers the motors when accelerating. This combination teams with a 480-hp rear-mounted flat-6.

Ford Will Charge More for the 2011 Explorer with Fewer Ponies

On: Tue, Jul 27, 2010 at 11:58AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ford Will Charge More for the 2011 Explorer with Fewer Ponies test 1-1

Ford is setting a brand new trend as it announces the new price structure for the new redesigned 2011 Explorer, asking consumers to do something rather out of the ordinary: pay more for an the engine option with less horsepower

Going against a historical track record of charging more for an engine with more hp that the automotive industry has had since its inception, Ford will be charging a premium for the 4-cylinder engine when the Explorer is launched at the end of this year. Contrary to most other trim levels offered, The Explorer’s 3.5 liter V-6 will be the standard option and the smaller 4-cylinder, with over 50 less horsepower, will be the next price level up.

According to Ford, the value of the smaller engine lies in its cutting edge technology that allows an SUV to realize the fuel economy of a Toyota Camry at 19 mpg in the city and 26mpg on the highway. SUV owners looking for a new roomy 4x4 that gets decent gas mileage can now have their cake and eat it too! In fact, according to a recent Bloomberg news article, the seven passenger 2011 model Ford Explorer now gets 30% better fuel efficiency than last year’s model.  

The Explorer’s engineer, Jim Holland, stated, “We really want to make a statement that the old baggage on fuel economy with the Explorer is gone; to get great fuel economy it takes technology, and it’s our view that people will pay for that.”

Critics are saying that Ford will be hard pressed to convince the public that there is more value in a smaller engine, particularly now that gas prices have gone down 34% from 2 years ago when some pumps were reading $4.11 per gallon, according to Jim Hall, principal of automotive consulting firm in Birmingham, Michigan.

“Why would you want to pay more for fuel economy when gas prices are going down?” Hall said. “People have very short memories.”

BMW to Sponsor U.S. Olympics

On: Tue, Jul 27, 2010 at 11:00AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

BMW to Sponsor U.S. Olympics test 1-1

At a recent news conference in New York, BMW and the U.S. Olympic Committee came to an agreement that BMW will be the very first imported car manufacturer to sponsor the Olympics and a 6-year contract has been signed between the two entities. The 24 million dollar deal will replace the 2008 agreement that General Motors had when it  sponsored the Beijing Summer Games.

"Part of our company's ethos is to really become part of the culture of countries where it sells cars," said Jack Pitney, vice president of marketing for BMW of North America. BMW engineers plan to assist USOC to upgrade the technology for athletes, a new helmet design that is more aerodynamic is just one example of how BMW will assist in supporting the Olympic games. BMW will also help the USOC with fundraising.

BMW will be the “official mobility partner," which is a term that was created to encompass a wide range of forms of transportation that BMW will provide for the games.

BMW will sponsor the bobsled and skeleton, speed skating, swimming, and track and field. This not the first time that the German automaker has supported American athletes; in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics BMW also stepped up to the plate.


Audi To Launch RS5 Sports Coupe In North America in Early 2012

On: Tue, Jul 27, 2010 at 10:53AM | By: Chris Weiss

Audi To Launch RS5 Sports Coupe In North America in Early 2012  test 1-1

When Audi first introduced the 450-hp RS5 coupe at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show, it wasn't clear whether or not it would be offered in the North American market. Audi clarified this in April, when word from its high-end Quattro GmbH division confirmed that the RS5 would make it across the Atlantic. At the time, deliveries were speculated for early-2011 or even as early as the third quarter of this year. Unfortunately, we'll have to wait until sometime in early 2012, as Audi North America chief Johan de Nysschen told the NY Times today.

When the RS5 hits, it will mark the return of Audi's high-end performance RS models to the U.S. The coupe will settle in above the S5 and A5. It features a 450-hp V8 engine, a slightly tuned version of the 4.2-liter V8 used in the Audi R8. The engine is mated to a dual-clutch seven-speed S-tronic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddles. The V8 and gearbox team up to deliver 317 lb-ft of torque, a 0-to-62-mph run of 4.6 seconds and an electronically-limited 155 mph top speed. The latter can be increased to 173 mph upon request. Despite its speed and performance, the RS5 provides an Audi-sourced fuel economy of nearly 22 mpg.

Other aspects of the RS5 include the Quattro all-wheel-drive system with a crown-gear differential, designed to allow shifting in torque between the two axles—up to 70 percent can be delivered to the front and up to 85 percent to the back. In standard setting, the all-wheel configuration is set at 40:60, with the majority going to the rear wheels to enable sporty handling. Torque vectoring technology works with the all-wheel drive to improve traction and cornering, and three drive modes—auto, comfort, and dynamic—alter the settings of the steering, transmission, differential and engine to meet the driver's demands.

Ford Launches the 2011 Ford Explorer

On: Tue, Jul 27, 2010 at 10:16AM | By: Chris Weiss

Ford Launches the 2011 Ford Explorer  test 1-1

After several weeks of teasers, Ford unveiled the 2011 Explorer in an unprecedented Facebook debut on Monday. The new Explorer has taken a step away from the large, gas-guzzling SUV mold, moving toward a lighter, sleeker, more efficient model that offers just enough off-road and towing capability for the average user. In doing so, Ford promises an SUV that offers the roominess and rugged durability of Explorers of old combined with class-leading fuel economy of the next-generation.

“Our objectives for Explorer dynamics were threefold,” said Carl Widmann, vehicle engineering manager. “The first element was to greatly increase on-road comfort, capability and driving dynamics. The second was to maintain the ‘any road, anytime, anywhere’ capability of the previous model. Finally, we aimed to apply technology to the task of safely towing, as V6 Explorer models are rated up to 5,000 pounds. We think customers will be pleased with the next-generation Explorer on all three counts.”

The 2011 Explorer drops the body-on-frame construction of past Explorers in favor of a Taurus-based unibody platform, moving it into the crossover segment. It has lost nearly 100 pounds thanks to the slimmer platform and lightweight materials like the aluminum hood. Aerodynamics have been increased through additions like the harmonized front air dam and rear spoiler.

Closing of Mercury Will Cost Ford $500 Million

On: Mon, Jul 26, 2010 at 4:22PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Closing of Mercury Will Cost Ford $500 Million test 1-1

Closing Mercury will cost Ford nearly $500 million, Ford CFO says.  A June auto news reported that Ford Motor Company plans to stop the production of the 71 year old brand, Mercury in the fall of 2010, and then sell the remaining Mercury inventory by the end of the year, a decision that according to a recent GM Inside News Report, could cost Ford nearly $500 million as stated by Ford CFO Lewis Booth.

Booth told Automotive News that “Ford took special charges of $247 million in the first half of 2010 to cover the cost of ongoing dealer reductions and shuttering the Mercury brand. He estimates the total cost to close the brand will be twice that amount.”

Booth also stated that 700 of the total 1,700 Mercury Franchises have already signed an agreement to close up shop after being offered cash compensation which accounts for the lion’s share of the expense that Ford will incur to close Mercury down.  When the original announcement was made back in June, Ford announced that it would be presenting a termination agreement with a buyout that included approximately $200,000 per dealership.

 “The plan is in place and we're having very fruitful discussions with our dealers,”