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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Miscellaneous

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.


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,”

Ford Reports Second-Quarter Profits Up 13%

On: Mon, Jul 26, 2010 at 8:56AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ford Reports Second-Quarter Profits Up 13% test 1-1

Contrary to what many financial analysts predicted, Ford Motor Company’s second-quarter profit has reached $2.6 billion, a 13% increase, marking the fifth quarter in a row that Ford has been able to report the good news. Sales have been up for Ford Motor Co. as a result of the new redesigned the Taurus, and many new fuel efficient models that have been launched this year, which have shown that Ford continues to be a success in the marketplace.

Ford’s total sales climbed to $31.3 billion, which is quite an increase over last year’s numbers, which were reportedly only $27.2 billion.

In a recent conference call, Ford’s CEO Alan Mulally stated, “Overall, our performance this year gives us great confidence going forward.”  He continued, “We are ahead of where we thought we’d be.”

Paying off debt has been a big goal for Ford and analysts say if the company continues the track record it has set so far this year, that goal should be attained by the end of 2011. According to analyst Shelly Lombard: “It can give the company more flexibility and ultimately improve the way they’re perceived on Wall Street.”

Analysts predicted a 41-cent rise in stock shares but Ford reports stock earnings at 68 cents per share, to $12.73. Ford shares had fallen as low as $1.26 in 2008.

According to a recent Associated Press article posted on www.kval.com, Ford, which had mortgaged everything to avoid taking government bailouts as well as bankruptcy, is now “reaping big rewards and stealing business from stumbling rivals.”

ALMS Attacks Lime Rock Saturday

On: Fri, Jul 23, 2010 at 11:16AM | By: John Welch

The Flying Lizard Porsche GT3 RSR test 2

So the Utah race was little bit of a snoozer; it was the fault of that awful Miller Motorsports Park, not the ALMS regulars who raced there. That track, in a word, is BORING. Lime Rock on the other hand is INTENSE! That is a significant difference when talking about cars that need some sort of straightaway to pass. This weekend we have straightaways galore!

The Grand-Am Series has already raced at Lime Rock this year, and it was purty badass. The ALMS features prototypes and GT cars that are even faster than Rolex Series racers, making the long front stretch that much more important. Passing is at a premium in Utah, it should be omnipresent in Connecticut.

The rain has already fallen during the first practice session, which began about an hour ago. The Drayson Lola looks fast, as well as the usual ALMS favorites, Patron Highcroft Racing. Their HPD ARX-01c is out-paced by the Drayson's V10 Judd engine and the Intersport AER-sourced Turbo V8, but in the corners the Wirth-Engineering chassis shines. It doesn't hurt that Highcroft employs some of the best drivers in the world, David Brabham and Simon Pagenaud, among them.

Qualifying can be viewed live, online at SPEEDtv.com. The race goes green tomorrow at 2 p.m. Eastern. The 'Shopper Blog will have a full recap Monday, images and videos included!


MotorTrend Archives; AutoStag From The Past

On: Thu, Jul 22, 2010 at 3:05PM | By: John Welch

MotorTrend Archives; AutoStag From The Past test 1-1

I may have come off as less than a MotorTrend supporter in the past. Something about poor editing in the name of saving money just doesn't hit me the right way. Though they regularly print glaring errors, MotorTrend does have its upside: the website.

Buried deep within the bowels of MT's server we are able to find the MotorTrend Archives, an absolute treasure trove of old car reviews and articles. Not the typical stuff from the fifties or sixties either; I'm just finishing an article about the 1986 Mazda RX-7. I would have never known how absolutely brilliant this thing was. The FC RX-7 came equipped with every trick used by automakers today. Everything from an nearly active rear suspension (the rear-end is able to change camber to suit driving conditions . . . what?!) to electronically controlled power steering, something that annoys the hell out of us nowadays, but in 1986 this feature was totally space-aged.

The Archives are sort of difficult to find, as I alluded to earlier, but we grabbed a link so that you can skip all of the self-stroking puffery and get straight to reviews about cars you can actually afford. Enjoy!

GM Awards $2 Billion To Hewlett-Packard For Technology Contract

On: Thu, Jul 22, 2010 at 9:23AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

 GM Awards $2 Billion To Hewlett-Packard For Technology Contract  test 1-1

General Motors has approved a $2 billion contract with Hewlett Packard (HP), which will maintain the companies' partnership that was established over two decades ago. In a recent press release, HP spokesperson was quoted as saying that this agreement will extend the two companies' 25-year relationship.

According to HP, the company will "manage GM’s technology infrastructure with a focus on providing an enhanced and continuously improving world-class end-user experience." Translated, that means that HP will integrate its own technology into GM platforms, including OnStar.

“The automotive industry is in the midst of a transformation and GM’s technology infrastructure needs to be hitting on all cylinders to take full advantage of the potential market opportunities,” Tom Iannotti, HP senior vice president and general manager, said in a company release. “HP has a track record of outstanding service to GM that we will continue to deliver to help GM realize their business objectives.”

Not only does HP provide apps for GM’s auto technology in new vehicles, the company also provides data and financial management for GM.

GM Completes Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Concept Car

On: Sat, Jul 17, 2010 at 9:29PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

GM Completes Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Concept Car  test 1-1

As green technology continues to grow and evolve there is much controversy about potential negative effects of natural gas on the environment; natural gas may be even worse for the planet than coal. In fact, using natural gas rather than diesel in vehicles could actually increase climate change, according to Robert Howarth, professor of ecology and environmental biology at Cornell University. "You're aggravating global warming more if you switch," he says.

Although preliminary studies may suggest that natural gas could contribute far more to global warming than previously thought, it looks as though Congress may be asking for support of a bill that would replace diesel with natural gas in heavy vehicles. General Motors is on board.

Natural gas is available in abundance, and can offer a solution to the U.S. dependence on foreign oil. With the future of green technology possibly moving in the direction of natural gas, General Motors has announced the finalization of the all new Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)-powered van named the Chevrolet “Express,” as well as a full-size van called the “Savana” for GM’s fleet consumers to have the option of a CNG fuel system.  

GM announced that in May that it would be the first and only automaker to offer a natural gas-powered commercial van. “Our focus from the beginning has been to offer fleet customers a simple ‘check the box’ approach with our CNG Chevrolet Express and Savana vans,” said Brian Small, general manager, GM Fleet and Commercial Operations. “Our robust production process is a key enabler and certainly separates us from any competitive offering.”

How Crash Tests Are Performed

On: Fri, Jul 16, 2010 at 12:39PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

How Crash Tests Are Performed test 1-1

Everyone knows that car crash tests are done to evaluate the level of safety in automobiles, but how, exactly, are those tests performed?
There are several types of crash tests that are performed to establish standards in crashworthiness and crash compatibility for automobiles and components.

Frontal-impact tests have been around the longest and are what most people envision when crash tests are mentioned (the old crash test dummy being thrown into the windshield comes to mind), but nowadays crash tests are much more sophisticated. Test includes crash impact on solid concrete walls at a specific speed, and results of collisions involving high side-impact of SUVs or trucks.

Offset tests involve crash tests where only part of the car impacts with a vehicle, the force of the impact remains approximately the same as in frontal impact tests, but only a portion of the car is required to absorb all of the force. This test is done to evaluate the impact on a car turning into oncoming traffic. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety performs these tests.

Side-impact crash tests are performed to evaluate the result of side-impact crashes, which have a very high incidence of fatality, and to measure the crumple zone for the ability to absorb impact before the occupant is injured. Side-impact crashes, with their high fatality rates, are responsible for inspiring the use of side airbags.

The History of Monster Truck Events

On: Wed, Jul 14, 2010 at 5:32PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

The History of Monster Truck Events test 1-1

If you are a truck enthusiast, chances are that you are into Monster Trucks, particularly if your love for trucks goes back to the 70s when their popularity initially began, as lifted trucks with large 48-inch wheels became the rave. Famous trucks such as “Bigfoot" and “King Kong” were first introduced back then and still compete in shows today.

In the late 70s, truck enthusiasts began to explore different options for mud bogging and truck pulling which were evolving into more and more popular leisure activities. Trucks used for competition started to be modified to adapt to an increased demands that were put on them.

A pioneer in the monster truck industry was Bob Chandler, who has become known as the founder of the trade. Bob Chandler was a 4X4 enthusiast, and those who knew him say he was a lead-foot when he drove. His notoriously heavy foot led to a nickname—Bigfoot. Chandler started creating promotional videos of his jumps for his truck store. Then, as fate would have it, an event promoter noticed the video and requested that Chandler start performing in front of a live audience. Eventually the events grew to be more and more popular. Chandler was the first promoter of events with monster trucks that would jump and race other trucks. Chandler's performance became known as the “Truck-A-Rama,” and he was also believed to have first termed the phrase “Monster Truck,” when describing the famous truck called “Bigfoot.”

Build Your Own Corvette Engine?

On: Wed, Jul 14, 2010 at 10:26AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Build Your Own Corvette Engine? test 1-1

For those car enthusiasts who just cannot get involved enough in customizing their own cars, Chevrolet has the perfect solution for you! It’s Chevrolet’s new “Build Your Own Corvette Engine” program that allows would-be Corvette owners to “literally build the engine for their new car.”

The program is designed for those who want the most "inclusive interactive car assembly program available." When a new 2011 Corvette Z06 or the ZR1 option is ordered, customers can opt for their cars to be assembled with the LS7 or LS9 engines at the Wixom Michigan assembly plant, and then actually watch the new Corvette being built at the plant  in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Jim Campbell, VP of Chevy Marketing in the U.S., believes that “Corvette owners are some of the most passionate—and most involved. The Corvette Engine Build Experience offers customers an unprecedented opportunity to participate, hands-on, in creating the car.”

Ford Van Pooling Commuters

On: Fri, Jul 9, 2010 at 10:18AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ford Van Pooling Commuters test 1-1

Van Pool Services Inc. (VPSI) is a private company originally started by Chrysler to serve the transportation needs of individuals who wanted to save on fuel expense as far back as the 70s. The company was started in my stomping grounds—Minneapolis, Minnesota—and the fleet of vans providing a cheap alternative to the daily commute was so successful that the company expanded to serve cities around the nation, and is still around today.

The California Department of Transportation selected VPSI to operate the very first statewide vanpool program, only instead of using Chryslers, the fleet is comprised mostly (70% of the 5000 vehicle nationwide fleet) of Ford E-Series vans, which can achieve a whopping 150 passenger-miles per gallon each day as commuter vehicles.

According to Ford Media.com, annually, the fleet "eliminates more than 14 million commuter trips, saves more than $73 million in fuel, and reduces CO2 emissions by 259,000 tons."

Ford reports that the E-Series has been the country’s number one full-sized van for over 30 years. These top selling vehicles now transport over 40,000 commuters in the U.S. each day, with an average savings of $5,000 per year per commuter, compared with the cost of driving to work alone.

“We believe we have the most ecological Ford vehicles on the road,” said Steve Pederson, VP of Fleet Management at VPSI. Pederson was responsible for estimating the 150 passenger miles per gallon figure by "multiplying the 15 mpg achieved by Ford E-Series vans by 10 passengers. Some VPSI Ford commuter vanpools seat as many as fifteen passengers, which would result in even more impressive results," stated Pederson.