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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Car News

Saab To Use BMW Powertrains?

On: Fri, Jun 11, 2010 at 4:38PM | By: John Welch

Victor Muller test 2

The Saab 9-2 rumor mill is just getting ramped-up, and, naturally, the parties involved have "no comment". Word is, Victor Muller, chief executive of Spyker, and Chairman of Saab, says talks with larger companies regarding the Saab 9-2 power train are well underway. One of those companies just happens to be BMW, again, according to rumors.

Both Muller and BMW were quick to deny the reports, a BMW spokesman having this to say: "We are in talks with several interested parties who have interest in our technology, but there are no contracts with Saab at the moment." A spokesman at Saab said the carmaker was looking for "possible partners" but also declined to comment on the report. A Mini-powered 9-2 would be interesting, but would it relegate the car to front-wheel drive? Would that ruin the spirit of the 9-2? I mean, the BMW four banger they're referring to isn't even a 2-stroke . . . isn't that heresy enough?

Saab has other concerns as well. "We are concentrating on the 9-5 and the 9-4X," Eric Geers, a company spokesperson, said. "A smaller Saab below the 9-3 is not in our business plan though it would be on our wish list." Another possible BMW/Saab tie-up in the near future: BMW supply the requisite diesel engines the GM-sourced 9-4x will need to be competitive in Europe. Dagens Industri (a European ‘trade’ publication) reported on Friday that there were also plans for BMW to supply a diesel engine for Saab's 9-4X, which will be launched in the European market at the start of 2011.

Victor Muller is serious about saving Saab. He plans to double Saab's annual yearly output, to 85,000 by 2012. The addition of the 9-5 and 9-4x will help, but a large-volume small car would affect Saab's bottom line significantly. More on the 9-2 as details become available . ..

How the Oil Spill Has Impacted Auto Buyers

On: Fri, Jun 11, 2010 at 3:34PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

How the Oil Spill Has Impacted Auto Buyers test 1-1

The jury may be out for now as to whether the tragic Gulf of Mexico oil spill will have a lasting effect on consumer’s outlook toward oil consumption. For now, the effects of the catastrophic spill are certainly forcing awareness of the issue of oil dependence on all of us.

So how are consumers responding?  A poll recently completed by MSNBC asked 1,200 visitors to their website what their reaction is to the Gulf oil spill, and 57% of those who responded stated that they are actively working to try to rely on less oil. 43% of those who answered the poll stated that it is not feasible to reduce their personal oil consumption.

According to the MSNBC poll, consumer response varied quite a bit, including statements such as “I will never own another gasoline-burning vehicle. I will walk, take public transportation, and ride a bike. If I need to go a long way and haul my property, I will use a horse and wagon or a fully electric car,” Other comments ran the full gamut, comments such as “How else am I supposed to get to work? I consume what I consume due to necessity…There are simply no alternatives that are economically viable at this time. The Chevy Volt would be a great alternative if it were not so expensive.”

Chrysler Will Build New Fuel Efficient 8 Speed Transmission

On: Thu, Jun 10, 2010 at 5:37PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Chrysler Will Build New Fuel Efficient 8 Speed Transmission test 1-1

As many automotive companies prepare for future government regulations regarding minimum fuel consumption by designing more fuel efficient vehicles, the Chrysler Group plans to spend $300 million to install special equipment in order to build a new eight-speed automatic transmission that will improve fuel economy by up to 25%.

The transmission is licensed by a company called ZF Group, located in Friedrichshafen, Germany.

Chrysler announced this week that producing the transmissions in-house will help the company retain over 1,200 jobs at Chrysler’s Kokomo Casting Plant located in Indiana. Official production is scheduled to begin in 2013.

In the meantime, while waiting for future production to ramp up in Kokomo, Chrysler will import transmissions directly from the German manufacturer.

The new transmission is projected to improve gas mileage by 25% by the year 2014, according to spokesperson, Paolo Ferrero, Chrysler senior vice president of powertrain. Chrysler has not yet announced for sure which models the new transmissions would be produced for, but it already exists in some BMW models; in fact, the technology for the ZF six-speed transmission initially made its debut in the BMW Gran Turismo and BMW 760Li.

UPDATE: "Chevy" Brand Name Gets the Boot? GM Says It's OKTo Say Chevy

On: Thu, Jun 10, 2010 at 4:34PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

UPDATE: <strike>"Chevy" Brand Name Gets the Boot?</strike> GM Says It's OKTo Say Chevy test 1-1

According to the New York Times, GM has ordered that Chevrolet can no longer be referred to as “Chevy” by any of its employees, as part of a new company marketing plan to present more of a consistent branding of the company’s name to its customers.

GM sent out a memo to Detroit this week stating: "We'd ask that whether you're talking to a dealer, reviewing dealer advertising, or speaking with friends and family, that you communicate our brand as Chevrolet moving forward.”  The memo was signed by Jim Campbell, the GM division’s vice president of marketing and vice president of Chevrolet sales and service, Alan Batey.

“When you look at the most recognized brands throughout the world, such as Coke or Apple for instance, one of the things they all focus on is the consistency of their branding. Why is this consistency so important? The more consistent a brand becomes the more prominent and recognizable it is with the consumer.” The statement disregards the fact that “Coke” is a nickname for Coca Cola, or that many products made by Apple have their own niche labels such as iPhones—many consumers are not even aware that iPhones are made by Apple. GM will be hard pressed to find a patron who doesn’t realize that Chevy vehicles are made by Chevrolet—or GM, for that matter.


GM Execs to Get $24.5 Million in Shares

On: Wed, Jun 9, 2010 at 9:32AM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

gmexecs test 2

According a recent report published on Auto News, “GM issued 184,255 salary stock units and 71,155 restricted stock units executives can exercise if they hit certain performance targets, the automaker said Monday in U.S. regulatory filings. Each unit represents one share of stock, and if GM stock hasn’t been trading for six months, the executives will receive cash.”

This distribution of shares is related to their next planned IPO launch (initial public offering), according to Joe Phillippi, the president of AutoTrends Consulting. In an interview with Auto News he stated, “This is probably 100 percent related to their run up to an IPO.” Phillippi further added, “It’s probably one more step in preparation to go public.”

The CFO for GM, Chris Liddell, emphasized that the IPO probably will not take place until sometime during the next fiscal year. Even more interesting is the fact that GM’s stock value is rapidly increasing. This means that we could potentially see them actually paying back the taxpayers and the loans they borrowed a lot faster than experts first had predicted.  

New Rules Push Automakers to Boost Fuel Economy Even More

On: Wed, Jun 9, 2010 at 9:19AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

New Rules Push Automakers to Boost Fuel Economy Even More test 1-1

Everyone who has bought a new car has probably experienced the excitement of selecting a vehicle that reports great fuel economy, only to later realize that in real life driving situations, such as stop-and-go traffic on the interstate, that the new vehicle never quite stacks up to the numbers on the window sticker. Most consumers will be happy to learn that a new revision for fuel economy testing is being created by government agencies in order to push automakers into creating even more fuel efficient vehicles. New mandates could be expensive for car makers in the U.S., but they will create new rules so “vehicle test data better reflects actual fuel consumption.”

In 2007 a panel of experts were gathered by government regulators in order to analyze how accurate reported vehicle fuel economy was being reported by the automakers. Thursday that three-year report was released and it affirmed that the new rules will burden automakers with major expense in order to comply with new regulations.

The panel asked the Envirnomental Protection Agency (EPA) to revise the rules on fuel economy so that tests that are performed will be more accurate in reflecting real life MPG that motorists will be getting.

Honda Leader of Pack with Auto Sales in Asia & US - Civic is Still the Hot Seller

On: Tue, Jun 8, 2010 at 1:44PM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

Honda test 2

At one time or another it seems that we all have known someone who absolutely swears by driving a Honda. There are tons of great lines that this automaker has to offer to the consumer—from small and  compact cars, like the Honda Civic, to roomier and spacious mid-sized sedans, like the Honda Accord. They have even increased their already impressive fleet of vehicles lately, adding the sweet touring sedan they call Honda CrossTour, and even making mini-SUVs that appeal to the younger  crowd, like the Honda Element. They also offer the Pilot for those looking for a real four door SUV, and they have the Ridgeline, a very durable and heavy-duty truck. For  parents and child-toting folks, they also offer the Honda Odyssey—which is a pretty feature-loaded and safe mini-van.

These are but a few of the many great cars already in the Honda fleet.

Over the years, Americans have really taken to Honda cars. People love Hondas for several different reasons. Most people, when asked why they cherish their Honda so much, have told me it is the most reliable car they have ever driven, and that it comes with an excellent warranty as well. They seem to really, indeed, like a car company that offers them the car they want and the peace of mind gained  from knowing their car is covered by a great warranty.

Curious about the Honda warranty, I poked around on their website (www.honda.com) and pulled up some stats. They do offer a fairly decent package. And when I looked at other car warranties, the Honda warranty does indeed compare rather nicely—adding to why people love these cars so much, in addition to the fact that they look so sleek and drive so smoothly.

GM Recalling 1.5 Million Vehicles For Potential Fire Hazard

On: Tue, Jun 8, 2010 at 12:46PM | By: Drew Christy

GM Recalling 1.5 Million Vehicles For Potential Fire Hazard test 1-1

General Motors is recalling 1.5 million Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Hummer, Saturn, and GMC vehicles worldwide to fix a heated windshield wiper fluid system module, which could cause a fire. The recall affects several GM car, truck, and SUV models made between 2006 to 2009. This is the second recall for the same heated windshield wiper fluid system. GM originally recalled the system back in August 2008 because a short circuit on the printed circuit board could overheat the control-circuit ground wire and cause a fire. Dealers fixed the vehicles by installing an in-line fuse in the heated washer module wiring, however, GM came across new reports of fires in vehicles that had been fixed.

In a press release, General Motors Executive Director of Safety stated: “While our analysis shows the number of incidents is very small compared with the number of vehicles on the road, we want our customers to have complete peace of mind. We always want to make sure customers can count on the safety and quality of their GM vehicle.” GM has decided to disable the heated portion of the washer fluid system because no solution is available to fix the malfunctioning module. Dealership service personnel will remove the heated washer fluid module and reroute washer fluid hoses. “This was a unique technology available from only one supplier, and that supplier has stopped manufacturing, which left no opportunity to collaborate on an improved design,” Boyer said. Boyer continued, “We want to be clear that the voluntary payment to customers is for the loss of the feature, not the recall.” The report says GM will reimburse owners and lease holders $100 since the feature is being disabled.

GM will start sending recall notices this month, however, customers may also contact their local dealer at any time to make an appointment to have the heated washer system removed. Most of the vehicles, 1,365,070, are in the United States; there are 98,794 affected vehicles in Canada; 26,228 in Mexico, and 38,093 elsewhere. There are no known injuries or crashes reported, however, GM is aware of five fires.

See the list and full report after the jump...

Official Reproduction Parts Available For Restoring Your Old Ford

On: Tue, Jun 8, 2010 at 10:46AM | By: Clay Ritchings

Official Reproduction Parts Available For Restoring Your Old Ford test 1-1

The days of driving around hunting for car parts to restore your old Ford are a thing of the past. No more trudging through muddy junk yards on the hunt for the illusive Mustang—all the while doing your best to avoid the canine landmines. If you are lucky enough to scrounge the part you need, it is unlikely that you can just bolt it to your classic and call it a day. Thanks to Ford and the “Interwebs” it is much easier to restore your classic Ford with factory-correct parts. Parts that are manufactured on original Ford tooling and have the fit and finish you are looking for are just a mouse click away.

Rejoice, Ford fanatics, your beloved manufacturer now offers up over 9,000 officially licensed parts. Ford is offering Parts for cars and trucks going back to Model Ts, and the catalog includes complete shells for 1967, 68, 69, and 70 Mustang coupes, as well as all manner of other parts to fix up old Mercurys and Lincolns. 

Lexus "Dark Ride" An Interesting New Avenue In Car Marketing

On: Mon, Jun 7, 2010 at 6:24PM | By: John Welch

Lexus "Dark Ride" An Interesting New Avenue In Car Marketing test 1-1

Lexus has come to the conclusion that auto advertising does not involve you, the customer, quite enough. In fact, Lexus would like to extend to you the opportunity to control their commercials yourself. Such is the case with the innovative 13-minute featurette: "Dark Ride."

The movie puts you in the passenger seat as Norman Reedus, of "Boondock Saints" fame, does his best to pilot the Lexus CT 200h prototype to a Lexus "safe house" before dawn. Making you the navigator, Norman is screwed if you don't tell him where to go. That's right, you become a part of the commercial, guiding the Norman and the CT 200h through side streets and away from mysterious road-going "bad guys".

“With ‘Dark Ride’ we are creating a unique virtual test drive opportunity so consumers can experience this hybrid, that is like no other, months before it is available at dealerships in early 2011,” said Dave Nordstrom, Lexus vice president of marketing. “In it, consumers play a co-starring role as the fun-to-drive Lexus CT 200h is put through its paces. By guiding the driver and the CT through a series of adventures, customers will be exposed to ‘The Darker Side of Green,’ which is completely different than the way hybrids are usually portrayed.”

Daimler Looking to Score Points at World Cup

On: Mon, Jun 7, 2010 at 4:11PM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

2010 Fifa World Cup test 2

The CEO of Daimler, Dieter Zetsche, has his eyes set on a massive marketing campaign for the FIFA World Cup this year. When the German soccer team takes to the field their attire is typically plastered with all sorts of Daimler ads, and this year should look to be no different. Except that Zetsche has emphasized the fact that he is not only trying to bring more consumer awareness to the thriving Mercedes brand, but he is also wagering his stakes on the German soccer team winning the event—something that they have not done since 1990.

Daimler’s campaign will include the traditional fanfare of advertising that is commonly prevalent at soccer tournaments and major sport events. According to a report by Auto News, Daimler's spokesperson, David Biebricher, concludes that, “Daimler's 2010 campaign involves traditional advertisements as well as online, print, and television media cooperation agreements.”

Damiler feels the need after the recent flop at the Formula One races. Damiler sponsors a car, and driver Michael Schumacher—who the company signed to help boost consumer awareness—is not doing well enough to provide the expected (or, at least, hoped for) jump in sales. He is in ninth place after completing seven Formula One races this year. So the car company is casting its eyes towards the World Cup this year as a method of rebounding their sales, and perhaps building more awareness of their brand to other countries, like South Africa—where the major soccer tourney is being hosted this year.

The company plans to offer some pretty sweet incentives to get drivers into a new Mercedes, as well, according to the report by Auto News. “A special leasing offer pays Mercedes' customers as much as 319 euros if Germany wins the World Cup title at the July 11 final in Johannesburg. The country's odds of winning are 14-1, according to betting company William Hill Plc. Spain and Brazil, both with 4-1 odds, are the co-favorites. Mercedes is also offering zero-percent financing under the “dream selection” program, which includes the compact A- and B- class models, as well as the GLK SUV. The SLK discounts are for a package of options including larger wheels and black leather seats with red stitching.”

Many Germans see the pairing of the carmaker and their World Cup advertising as an emotional relationship and a bond that exists between Daimler and the German football team. In an interview with Auto News, Thomas Rosier, a managing director of dealer Autohaus Rosier GmbH, stated, “The promotion is very sympathetic and the partnership between Mercedes and the Germany's premium football team fits together very well.”