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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Reports

Dodge Releases 2011 Charger, Uses Up Every Adjective Available In The Process

On: Tue, Oct 5, 2010 at 2:46PM | By: John Welch

Dodge Releases 2011 Charger, Uses Up Every Adjective Available In The Process test 1-1

Some samples from a Chrysler-supplied press kit regarding the 2011 Dodge Charger:

sinister “ready to attack the road” face

iconic character

puts the world’s best E-segment sedan competitors between its new “split crosshair” signature grille

radically raked back headlights

iconic horizontal “coke bottle” or “double-diamond” body-side styling

signature taillamp design that incorporates 164 illuminating LEDs to form its signature “racetrack” graphic and gives the new Charger its unmistakable character from blocks away.

and finally . . .

the all-new 2011 Charger is the Dodge brand’s flagship that proudly delivers premium, world-class E-segment sedan precision at an incredible value.

Chrysler seems to have made a mistake. They keep saying "E-segment" but I'm pretty sure they mean "formerly E-Class". See, this Charger is still based on the underpinnings of the '96 to 2000 Mercedes E-Class, so it has a little catching up to do. It certainly looks the part, the sheet metal is less gaudy and more aggressive than that which it replaces, but it is still slightly behind the times. Also, I must applaud Dodge for sticking with a rear-drive chassis, as another Dodge Intrepid might just cause Mopar fanatics to violently raze any number of executive domiciles located throughout Metro Detroit. So, no matter how the car is or isn't, one thing is for sure: it is rear drive. Someone pass that memo on to Acura, please . . .

New UAW Agreement Will Allow GM To Realize a Profit From Production Of The New Aveo

On: Tue, Oct 5, 2010 at 12:54PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

New UAW Agreement Will Allow GM To Realize a Profit From Production Of The New Aveo test 1-1

According to Automotive News.com, the United Auto Workers union has negotiated a contract with General Motors to begin production on the first profitable compact car produced by the company in the United States.

The subcompact Aveo was originally built and designed in Korea before being shipped to the US, but now GM has signed a contract with the UAW to build the next generation Aveo in Michigan’s Orion Township plant. General Motors will receive nearly $800 million in local tax credits that will enable the company to pay the full union wages of $28 per hour to auto workers who will build the Aveo in Detroit. 

GM will also score points with consumers for saving hundreds of union jobs as the contract stipulates 60% of all workers at the Orion Township assembly plant will assemble the Chevrolet Aveo in exchange for $28 per hour plus full benefits, according to Miek Dunn, shop chairman at UAW Local 5960. The other 40% will receive “a so-called Tier 2 wage equal to roughly half that of so-called legacy workers,” says Automotive News.com.

Auto Industry Posts Highest Sales Record in 13 Months for September

On: Tue, Oct 5, 2010 at 12:41PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Auto Industry Posts Highest Sales Record in 13 Months for September test 1-1

According to a recent automotive news article the auto industry is not yet ready to sing “ Happy Days are Here Again,” but September’s posted profits are the highest in 13 months—enough to get automakers, at the least, feeling optimistic.

Up 29% since last year, September’s numbers came in at 959,049 for sales of light vehicles, raising the annual rate to 12.2 million sales, according to automotive News Data Center. Last September marked the end of the Cash for Clunkers government incentive program, leaving dealerships depleted of supplies as a result of an inflated sales rate for August of 2009. September was the first month since 2008 that the sales rate was more than 12 million units for total automobiles sold in the United States— other than August of 2009 when the falsely inflated numbers of 13.7 million reflected the Cash for Clunkers program.

Jesse Toprak, automotive analyst for TrueCar.com, stated:  "It's a solid month, another step in a stable, somewhat painful recovery." Toprak also said; "This may be a healthier way to recover."

ALMS Wrap Up Pt.1: Peugeot Plays Proud Protagonist, Audi Alarmed Antagonist

On: Mon, Oct 4, 2010 at 3:09PM | By: John Welch

ALMS Wrap Up Pt.1: Peugeot Plays Proud Protagonist, Audi Alarmed Antagonist test 1-1

So many crazy things happened before, during, and after the 2010 Petit Le Mans that one post just won't cut it. In the name of clarity and full coverage, let’s start with the Prototype categories.

As we should know by now, the American Le Mans Series generally acknowledges two prototype classes, LMP and LMPC. For longer endurance and ILMC-sanctioned events the LMP class is split into LMP1 and LMP2; LMP2 cars are light and average 550 bhp, LMP1 vehicles are heavier and have more power on tap. It really should be classified "The Diesels and everyone else" as the Audi and Peugeot diesels are nearly unstoppable, under the current rules.

So, for last Saturday's 10 Hour Enduro (or 1,000 kilometers, whichever comes first) in Braselton, Georgia, we had a shoot-out between the dominate diesel entries, another race-within-a-race between the ALMS LMP regulars, and a third contest for LMPC honors. Because of the rule changes between the ALMS and the ACO's Le Mans rule book, the LMP2 class was rendered inert—the real races were between the Audis and Peugeots, the LMP1 Lola of Intersport Racing, the Patron-Highcroft ARX-01c, the Drayson Lola, and the Cyto-Sport Porsche RS Spyder.

LMPC, a new for 2010 category featuring identical (at the start of the season) Courage FLM-09 prototypes, has been hard fought by the Green Earth Team Gunnar and Level 5 Motorsports teams. Going at it tooth and nail all season, these two teams have helped elevate LMPC far beyond its original expectations as a boring spec-class that will only slow down serious competitors in the LMP and GT classes. That hasn't been the case; besides offering extremely economical racing for the teams (a few entries have run the same Chevrolet LS3 crate engine all year) the class went into Petit with a tie in the points lead. Pretty exciting for a "field filler" classification.


More Volt News: Chevy Hoping To Score With World Series Commercials

On: Mon, Oct 4, 2010 at 10:22AM | By: Chris Weiss

More Volt News: Chevy Hoping To Score With World Series Commercials test 1-1

What's more American than the Chevy name and the elbow grease and ingenuity behind a product like the Chevy Volt? Baseball, of course! And GM will capitalize on this all-American connection when it officially begins Volt advertising with a series of spots during the World Series.

The World Series begins October 27 and will run as long as November 4, depending upon how the on-field drama unfolds. And with the Volt set to launch in the United States in mid-November, the big-draw sporting event is the perfect venue for Chevy to start pushing its Volt.

This weekend marks the end of the MLB's regular season and will decide who goes to the playoffs and how they're seeded. It would appear that someone has a little love for the eco-friendly Volt and its parents because the teams should work out to the company's advantage.

New Nissan GT-R, Godzilla Attacks Paris

On: Mon, Oct 4, 2010 at 9:35AM | By: Chris Weiss

New Nissan GT-R, Godzilla Attacks Paris test 1-1

In somewhat of a surprise move, Nissan showed the updated 2012 GT-R to a group of press and VIPs at the Paris Motor Show. There have been a number of leaks and spy shots of the next-gen GT-R, but this was the first official showing.

The new GT-R gets a number of very mild exterior updates concentrated in the front including the straked-out front bumper, LED running lights, and new air intakes, which lower the drag coefficient of the sports coupe. Out back, a new diffuser pulls the GT-R helps keep the car grounded.

For those that don't really pay that much attention to bumpers and diffusers, the most interesting change could be the addition of two new exterior colors: Aurora Flare Blue Pearl and Nebula Opal Black.

Unfortunately, Nissan was more than tight-lipped on mechanical and performance changes, delaying those announcements for a few weeks. In the meantime, rumors are indicating a slight boost in the 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6's output thanks to upgraded turbos, a new oil cooler and exhaust system. Output is expected to jump slightly over 500 hp (up from 485 hp). The GT-R is also expected to lose about 65 lbs, so we can hope to see a very slight boost in the GT-R's already impressive numbers: 0 to 62 mph in 3.5 seconds and 195 mph top speed.

Volt To Make Its Official Debut During World Series

On: Fri, Oct 1, 2010 at 3:41PM | By: John Welch

Volt To Make Its Official Debut During World Series test 1-1

Welp, its about damn time. Chevrolet has finally announced when they will bombard us with Volt marketing, and there is no Volt song or dance in sight. Settling on a slightly, uhm, manlier medium for introudcing their much-hyped hypermiler, Volt commercials will officially debut during the 2010 World Series. That would be a series of fairly important baseball contests, for those who will click off this page and return to Second Life.

The spots will highlight Chevrolet's place in American culture, possibly featuring reminders of important Chevrolets built over the course of the company's 100-year history. This is a rumor mind you; GM has been totally silent regarding the content in the ads, announcing only that they will begin airing Volt spots during Major League Baseball's fall classic, and continue to run the ads for the remainder of the autumnal season.

GM is scheduled to begin production of the Volt for retail sales on Nov. 11 at its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant. The Volt is being marketed as a "halo car" to underscore GM's green credentials. The campaign will run on TV, radio, and in print media. Because of the amount of ad support Chevrolet is putting into the World Series, MLB and Fox have agreed to push the start time of Game Three of the World Series to a more managable 6:57 pm - instead of effing midnight or whatever MLB had originally planned. This will be the earliest starting time for a WS game since 1987. The purpose of the early start time? Still clouded in mystery rolled in an enigma and swallowed by a cunundrum. In other words, we have no idea.

Though GM has declined to report exactly what they have spent on the ads, they are certain that they are close to if not the largest investor in this year's World Series. GM plans to resume this advertising campaign during the NFL's Super Bowl, in Feburary 2011.

198,000 BMW's To Be Recalled For Brake Leakage

On: Fri, Oct 1, 2010 at 2:17PM | By: John Welch

BMW 7 Series test 2

A collective "D'oh!" could be heard emanating for BMW North America's headquarters this morning, as company execs read the startling news that 198,000 of their babies would have to recalled over a braking issue. Thankfully, this is BMW and not Toyota, so instead of the requisite "cover it up for six years" mentality employed by their Japanese counterparts, BMW is taking the initiative and ordering a recall before the customary NHTSA report is released. Good on ya, Bimmer, way to jump the shark or whatever . . .

The recall encompasses all BMW products built between 2002 and 2010, that feature 8- or 12-cylinder engines. Yes, overpaid hedge-fund yuppies, that means Rolls Royce as well. In the affected vehicles, it is possible for the power braking system to leak. This can result in a loss of vacuum pressure and a reduction in the amount of braking assistance the system gives the driver. When this occurs, the mechanical brakes still function and can slow and stop the car, but requires more driver effort to press the pedal. See? It isn't even that bad! There have been no reports of any injuries or deaths as a result of this issue.

BMW is setting up an inspection and repair procedure, and will distribute this info along with spare parts to its entire North American dealer network. Though affected customers will be alerted by first-class mail, anyone experiencing braking issues with their Bimmer should report the issue to an authorized BMW service center immediately.

Venture inside the post for a list of affected vehicles . . .

GM September Sales Improve 11% Over Sept. 2009

On: Fri, Oct 1, 2010 at 12:09PM | By: John Welch

GM September Sales Improve 11% Over Sept. 2009 test 1-1

Is the much hyped economic recovery really starting to bear fruit? Heh, not for me, personally, but somebody seems to be doing better than they were in September of 2009. Otherwise how could we have bought so many GM vehicles in the last month? I don't witness it in my day to day life, but somebody, somewhere is generating more cash lately, and taking that cash to GM dealerships to the tune of an 11 % sales increase over September 2009.

GMC leads the charge with a whopping 41.6 % gain over last year. Golly, we still need those big ass, lane clogging trucks I s'pose. GMC's success could be contributed to the mind boggling popularity of its Equinox sibling, the GMC Terrain. A slightly smaller, less lane clogging SUV, the Terrain features, uhm, "abstract" styling and excellent fuel economy. 

The other three remaining GM brands are all up as well, rounding out a decidedly bullish month for GM.

GM Specifies Volt Electric Range of 20 to 50 Miles Depending On Conditions

On: Fri, Oct 1, 2010 at 11:21AM | By: Chris Weiss

GM Specifies Volt Electric Range of 20 to 50 Miles Depending On Conditions test 1-1

For as long as we can remember, the Chevy Volt has been defined by a 40-mile electric range. Chevy quotes that range in official materials and it's been the most practical number that we've seen to denote how far the car will drive under battery power. Much more practical than the 230 mpg number the company once touted.

Of course, any such figure, even those prized mpg numbers from the EPA, are subject to a certain amount of variation based on how, when and where you drive. And the Volt is no different. GM recently clarified that Volt drivers can expect to get anywhere from 25 to 50 miles of all-electric driving depending upon a range of factors.

Spokesman Rob Peterson said last week that after further testing Chevy had come to the new conclusion. Certain predictable factors like use of air conditioning, heating, extreme weather, aggressive driving and hilly drives can limit the range of the Volt. The extra 300 miles provided by the range-extending gas engine was unaffected by the new announcement.

Despite these newly detailed caveats, GM is sticking with its 40-mile range for "most drivers under normal conditions." This is an important distinction, since Chevy has said that that figure gives the car enough electric range for 75 percent of U.S. drivers to get to work under pure battery power.

Paris Motor Show Debuts: BMW 6 Series

On: Thu, Sep 30, 2010 at 11:10AM | By: John Welch

Paris Motor Show Debuts: BMW 6 Series test 1-1

Before its unveiling in 2004, the spec sheet of the BMW 6 Series was enough to make a grown man weep. Solid chassis, imposing size, true coupe body, strong V8 options with a chance of V10. It was a rad car, on paper. Then we got a look at it. Sad Bloodhound or Drowning Guppy, that’s what came to mind after laying eyes on the 6 Series. Who wants to tool around in a Sad Bloodhound? The dynamics didn't work out quite as advertised either.

Though physically smaller than the 5 Series sedan, on the outside, the 6 Series was just as heavy as its 4-door counterpart. This issue led to lack-luster acceleration, porky handling and a tendency towards tire howling hysterics when pushed past seven-tenths. Not to say that the 6 Series was slow, it just wasn't as fast as it should have been. Couple its ample waistline with Chris Bangles odd "flame surfacing" and you had a recipe for an expensive, unattractive, slightly sluggish convertible. It looks absolutely menacing when duded up for racing (see Turner BMW M6) but the road car left something to be desired.

BMW has redesigned the 6 Series, and it plans to reverse the 6's backsliding reputation. Pulling the headlights back, smoothing out the strange cut lines on the side of the car, changing the cheap-looking rear end treatment, all of these elements serve to pacify the 6's detractors. Also, the new interior is particularly inviting. It could be said that these styling changes soften the 6's image a little too much, possibly even make the car more boring. I say thee, nay! Just like the 3 Series, 5 Series and Z4, these updates make for a more focused looking, classier 6 Series.

Making its debut at the Mondial de l'Automobile Paris 2010, the 6 Series features new sheet metal, new engines and a host of interior upgrades that should improve its appeal to North American buyers.