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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Reports

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.

Ferrari World Announces Pricing, Opens October 27

On: Wed, Sep 29, 2010 at 4:39PM | By: Chris Weiss

Ferrari World Announces Pricing, Opens October 27 test 1-1

A Ferrari amusement park sounds like something any supercar-lusting, red-blooded man or woman dreamed up on a particular good night of REM. Happily, it's one of those dreams that's as true when you wake up as it is when your eyes are shut. Deep in the works in Abu Dhabi, Ferrari World, which features all kinds of Maranello-inspired rides and attractions, has announced its official pricing. And visitors just seething to get their first taste of the park will be able to do it a day earlier than originally scheduled. 

Ferrari World will open on October 27 at 7 p.m., less than one month from today. The park pushed the opening date up by one day. The opening will mark the start of the "inaugural period," which will run through November. In December, Ferrari World will hold a grand opening celebration.

As for pricing, Ferrari World uses height rather than age to distinguish between guests. Guests 1.5 meter (4' 11") and taller will be charged AED 225 ($61) and those guests shorter than that will be 165 AED ($45). And since the park is located in the Middle East, where richer folks love to distinguish themselves from the masses, there will also be a premium ticket, which includes priority on rides and attractions, and entry into a private lounge with refreshments. Those tickets will cost 375 AED ($102) and 270 AED ($74). 

The park will be open on Tuesdays through Sundays beginning at 12 p.m. each day.

Chrysler Factory Workers Caught Drinking on Lunch Break

On: Wed, Sep 29, 2010 at 10:41AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

 Chrysler Factory Workers Caught Drinking on Lunch Break test 1-1

Chrysler Group recently reported that 13 autoworkers were fired and 2 others were suspended after they were caught drinking during their lunch breaks. A local television station filmed the Chrysler employees drinking alcohol on the job, then aired the film to the public. According to Automotive News.com, Detroit Fox News channel responded to a tip and “captured workers from the Chrysler Jefferson North Assembly Plant guzzling beer and, in some cases, smoking what appeared to be hand-rolled cigarettes or other smoking material.”

Interestingly enough, Auto News also pointed out that the incident occurred within days of Barack Obama’s visit to the Detroit auto plant in which the President praised autoworkers for their worthiness of the federal bailout that saved union workers jobs. The news coverage prompted a high level of response from local Detroit viewers and was the topic of discussion on many of the local Detroit radio stations; the public was reportedly “outraged at the workers who returned to work after the lunch breaks." Viewers also voiced criticism regarding the TV station that aired the report.

The report was considered derogatory for Chrysler’s reputation as consumers questioned the safety of vehicles being produced by intoxicated plant workers. Chrysler was adamant about giving a statement to convince consumers that the plant’s control systems would ensure the quality of the Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV that was being manufactured there.

Ford Announces Plans to Build New Engine Parts Plant in China

On: Wed, Sep 29, 2010 at 9:54AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ford Announces Plans to Build New Engine Parts Plant in China test 1-1

Many U.S. automakers are developing plans to take advantage of the economic boom in China, as well as of the increased demand for American vehicles by local Chinese consumers. Ford has announced its decision to begin the construction on a second automotive parts assembly facility in China.

Changan Ford Mazda Automobile Company is the name of Ford Motor Co.'s China venture that is made up of an alliance of Ford Motor Company, Mazda Motor Corporation, and Chongqing Changan Automobile Co. This week Changan Ford Mazda signed an agreement with the Chinese municipal government to build a new $500 million automotive engine plant in the local city of Chongquig. Those present at the signing were Chongqing Changan Chairman Xu Liuping, local government official Xiong Xue, and Ford China CEO Robert Graziano, as well as Ford Motor CFO Lewis Booth.

Ford plans to begin construction of the new plant in 2011 and the engine production will begin 2 years later.


Volkswagen Plans to Overtake Toyota as World's Largest Automaker

On: Wed, Sep 29, 2010 at 9:40AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Martin Winterkorn test 2

CEO of Volkswagen Martin Winterkorn stated that the company plans to become the world’s largest automaker by 2018. This is a lofty goal for Volkswagen; the German automaker tied at 5th place this year (under Honda, Subaru, Toyota, and Hyundai) on Consumer Report’s  list of top automakers. While it’s true that VW has had some award-winning vehicles, such as the Volkswagen GTi, selling more cars than Toyota will be quite an undertaking for the German automaker.

Winterkorn reports that he feels so strongly about leading the company into first place, as the world’s largest automaker, that he wants to remain the CEO long enough to see that continuity is established and the company's goals are met. "We know how ambitious our goals are," Winterkorn said in an interview to be published Monday in the German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel.

Volvo Announces The Pedestrian Detection System

On: Tue, Sep 28, 2010 at 1:37PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Volvo Announces The Pedestrian Detection System test 1-1

Volvo’s new S60 sedan has been announced with a recent press release describing one innovative safety feature: the pedestrian detection system. Volvo engineers promised the new pedestrian detection system would actually stop the car by itself. According to Volvo approximately in 11%, or 4,700, of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. are pedestrians. In Europe it's about 14 percent, and in China 26 percent.

True to Volvo's tradition of emphasizing safety, the S60 will feature a collision warning system with an automatic brake function, in addition to the pedestrian protection feature which can recognize the presence of pedestrians on the road. Once the vehicle reaches speeds of more than 25 mph the automatic braking procedure is triggered, if the driver does not react in time, slowing the car down to reduce the collision severity as much as possible.

In live crash test dummy evaluations, drivers were instructed to maintain a steady speed of 22 mph heading straight to an adult or child-size dummy. Just at the point where a collision seemed inevitable, a chime gives an audible warning and a bar illuminates on the windshield, and then the brakes automatically engage, stopping just a foot or more from the dummy. At speeds of over 25 mph the feature will engage but will not bring the vehicle to a complete stop.

Ferrari Introduces the SA APERTA, A 599 Convertible

On: Tue, Sep 28, 2010 at 9:47AM | By: Chris Weiss

Ferrari Introduces the SA APERTA, A 599 Convertible test 1-1

Ferrari announced a new limited edition model last week: the SA APERTA. The new model is an open-top 599 that gets extra power and features a lightweight soft-top, making it an accessory most suited to the sunny coast or desert. Not quite as exciting as a brand-new Lamborghini, but a sexy, new model just the same, the SA APERTA will give us one more thing to look forward to at the Paris Motor Show beginning later this week. Officially, the SA Aperta is a tribute to design firm Pininfarina. The firm is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, so Ferrari will offer 80 models of the SA Aperta. And the lettering stands for "Sergio" and "Andrea" Pininfarina.

The 599 GTB Fiorano's 6.0-liter V12 engine has been tuned up to 661 hp for the special edition, a jump of 41 horses. AsAutocar points out, this modification puts it on par with the 599 GTO.

In a Push to Improve Buyers Perception of Lincoln, 200 Dealerships Will be Closed

On: Tue, Sep 28, 2010 at 9:32AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

In a Push to Improve Buyers Perception of Lincoln, 200 Dealerships Will be Closed test 1-1

Ford Motor Company has recently announced that it will eliminate at least 200 Lincoln franchise dealerships (which is 40% of its Lincoln dealers in major metropolitan regions) in an attempt to magnify the exclusivity of its last remaining luxury brand. Of the remaining Lincoln dealerships, many upgrades will be required in order to "raise Lincoln's game in terms of customer experience to the level of such luxury brands as Cadillac, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW," according to Automotive News.com.

The marketing ploy is being created in order to keep up with Ford’s competitors in the luxury car market and those who are saying that Lincoln does not stack up to its competitors.

Many sources report that Ford will announce its new marketing plan for Lincoln in an upcoming 2-day Lincoln dealer seminar that will begin on October 4th and takes place in the car capitol of the U.S., Dearborn Michigan.

According to Ford executives, the discontinuation of the Mercury brand was the impetus for the new plan to give Lincoln a makeover. But in the bigger metro areas where the market is much larger, some stand-alone Lincoln dealerships would still be allowed to stay opened, while in the smaller rural markets the Lincoln products would be sold only at Ford dealerships. Ford Motor Company at one time owned the following luxury brands: Jaguar, Aston Martin, Land Rover, and even Volvo. Ford has sold them off, one by one, over the past several years. Now that Ford has only one remaining luxury brand left, the Detroit automaker plans to design a “premium showroom experience for its final premium brand."

The Leaf is Gone: Nissan "Sells" Out Its First-Year Allotment

On: Mon, Sep 27, 2010 at 4:37PM | By: Chris Weiss

The Leaf is Gone: Nissan "Sells" Out Its First-Year Allotment test 1-1

Nissan announced today that it has reserved its entire 2010 U.S. goal of 20,000 Leaf electric vehicles. In other words, it's closing the reservation books until 2011, three months ahead of its intended schedule.

Of course, Nissan's numbers are to be taken with a grain of salt. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn actually told the press that the Leaf sold out all the way back in May. Then suddenly there were four months worth of unfilled reservations. And before today, things seemed to be plodding along for Nissan and it wasn't clear if it would even reach its 20,000 goal by year-end. So the fact that it suddenly reserved all its Leafs (Leaves?) three months ahead of the first delivery in December seems a little too convenient. But only the company knows for sure.

On the other hand, since Nissan actually shut down its reservation system, it would appear that it's content with the Leafs that it's reserved. Nissan will reopen the books next year after current reservations are processed and deliveries to launch markets are well underway.

Nissan released some information about its initial Leaf sales back in late July. At the time it had reserved about 17,000 cars, and said that 30 percent of those were blue and 26 percent were silver. Three-quarters of the reserved Leaf models were of the SL trim.

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.

Toyota's Prius Hybrid Technology to be Utilized in Future Lotus Elite Hybrid Model

On: Mon, Sep 27, 2010 at 9:41AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Toyota's Prius Hybrid Technology to be Utilized in Future Lotus Elite Hybrid Model test 1-1

Lotus Automotive is jumping on the green car band wagon as the company consults with Toyota to purchase the Japanese automaker’s proprietary hybrid powertrain for use in a new Lotus hybrid vehicle.

Toyota Motor Company has been pushing to sell its hybrid powertrain on a large scale to other automakers in hopes of keeping the price of the hybrid components down. Lotus plans to use the gasoline/electric hybrid powertrain as an option for its 5.0 liter V-8 Lotus Elite that the company plans to launch in 2014, according to a Lotus official spokesperson. The British sports car company will launch the Elite as a concept car at this year’s Paris auto show. The hybrid Lotus will “feature a hybrid gearbox with integrated electric motors and a kinetic energy recovery system that recoups heat energy during braking to recharge the battery,” according to Automotive News.com

“We are working with Toyota on powertrain solutions for our future cars, and this is part of the development but it is not an existing system,” a Lotus official said. Toyota stated that the company “welcomes such deals because we would like to see environmental technologies adopted and used as widely as possible.”