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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Reports

Hyundai's Hardcore Racer

On: Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 9:21AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Hyundai's Hardcore Racer test 1-1

As the member of a family that owned a 1987 Sonata, I can tell you that back then, Hyundai was not in the business of making a car it was easy to get excited about. That 1987 four-cylinder, four-speed auto transmission did about what you would expect it to do in a four-door family sedan. It wasn’t a race car, but, to its credit, it never tried to be despite my best 16-year-old efforts to imagine it as such.  

What that Sonata did do, however, was last a decade with very few complaints. Sure, the alternator went once or twice and the water pump gave up the ghost around year eight, but other than those natural auto ailments, there were no real surprises or recalls that made us give up our car before we were ready and willing to.  

Fast forward 23 years later. Today, Hyundai has taken most of those same principles that our 1987 Sonata conveyed to us, and gone from a relative punch line in the automotive community to the fifth largest auto manufacturer in the world. With a very simple strategy that could have once been called the ‘Toyota Model to Success’, Hyundai has worked tirelessly at building a brand name synonymous with economical quality for the masses. 

In 2010 Hyundai introduced the sports coupe for those masses in the Genesis Coupe. In 2011 Hyundai is bringing to the table a hardcore version of that sports car for all to enjoy—the Genesis Coupe R-Spec.  

Worst. Traffic. Ever. China Experiences 10-DAY Delays

On: Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 8:56AM | By: Chris Weiss

Worst. Traffic. Ever. China Experiences 10-DAY Delays test 1-1

Most Americans get a little hot under the collar when road construction, accidents or other factors beyond our control create traffic delays measured in hours--or even minutes. Imagine the calamity that would ensue if traffic delays began hitting the days and weeks marks. That's beyond inconvenient, it's downright scary; and it's all happening now across the world in China.

China's traffic disaster, which has taken the country's Beijing-Zhangjiakou highway hostage, is now on its 11th day. Some drivers have been immersed in the bumper-to-bumper mayhem for five days. Yeah, it looks like they'll be a little late for that Monday morning meeting.

The traffic jam began on August 14. The Beijing-Zhangjiakou is an already packed highway and road construction in Beijing caused traffic to slow to a mind-bogglingly sluggish crawl of a half mile per day. Lines of vehicles snaked back some 60 miles.

UPDATE: The massive Chinese Traffic jam has all but subsided. NBC showed up just in time to report on a traffic jam that no longer exists. All the details at MSNBC World Blog.

Nissan Plans

On: Wed, Aug 25, 2010 at 3:35PM | By: Chris Weiss

Nissan Plans test 1-1

When you first hear that Nissan is planning a convertible version of the Murano crossover, it's nearly impossible to have any reaction that doesn't include a version of "WTF?!!" Perfectly natural. According to a new Automotive News report, that's exactly what the company is going for. Nissan realizes that the Murano convertible will have a polarizing effect, but hopes that the model will draw attention to the brand and develop some buzz. It's hard to see how that plan will fail.

Prices of Pre-Owned SUVs Up 30%

On: Wed, Aug 25, 2010 at 11:42AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Prices of Pre-Owned SUVs Up 30% test 1-1

In such an unstable automotive market as the U.S. has experienced in the past year, it’s difficult to predict exactly when the best time is to buy or sell a used car, but if it’s an SUV, Minivan, or Crossover that’s involved, now may be the best time to sell—not buy.

According to Edmunds.com, prices of pre-owned SUVs and Crossovers have gone up by as much as 30% since last year.  Cadillac Escalades, for example, being sold in 2010 are getting 36% more for the average sale price than buyers paid in 2009.

In a market that values vehicles that provide great fuel economy, one may think that prices for gas guzzling SUVs would be going down instead of up. On average, wholesale prices for used vehicle have decreased slightly in July as compared to record high prices in the spring.

Edmunds.com reports that the average retail price for a pre-owned Cadillac Escalade, (calculating an average price paid for all model years) was $34,715 in July, surprisingly, up 36% from the average price paid last July. Edmunds.com reports that the average retail price paid for a used Dodge Grand Caravan in July, averaged over all model years, was $15,629, up 34%.


Ford Boosts 2011 Mustang With Supercharger Kit

On: Wed, Aug 25, 2010 at 11:00AM | By: Chris Weiss

Ford Boosts 2011 Mustang With Supercharger Kit  test 1-1

The 2011 Ford Mustang has already made big headlines for bringing back the 5.0 and delivering 300 (hp) and 30 (mpg). Now, Ford Racing is offering a little something for those that prefer 500 or 600 over 300. The company's new supercharger kitsfor 5.0-liter Mustang GT models boosts output up to 624 hp (up from 412 hp of the stock 5.0-liter V8).

Ford Racing announced the new kits at the Woodward Dream Cruise this past weekend. The kits are the first power upgrades offered for the new Mustang.

The two top kits feature a 2.3-liter twin-screw supercharger, intake manifold, air-to-liquid intercooler system, drive belt, 47 lb/hr high-impedance fuel injectors and an ECU tune from Ford Racing. The 525 hp kit gets an ECU tune for 7 psi of supercharger boost and the 624 hp kit gets a 9 psi boost. The base Tuner Kit, which is aimed at tuners and "extreme enthusiasts," does not include the ECU tuning from Ford Racing, but includes all the other pieces of the puzzle. Since the base kit is designed for tinkerers, no final output numbers are given.

The 525 hp kit boosts torque up to 470 lb-ft at 4,200 rpm and the 624 hp kit offers up to 536 lb-ft at 4,700 rpm.

The extra power from Ford Racing won't come cheap. The base kit costs $6,499. Each of the other two kits comes in choice of black or chrome, which relates to the color of the intake manifold. The 525 hp kit costs $7,199 for the black version and $7,799 for the chrome, while the 624 hp kit is $7,499 in black and $8,099 in chrome. The 525-hp kit includes a 12 month/12,000 mile warranty when installed by a Ford/Lincoln dealer, while the 624 hp kit comes with no such niceties. All the kits are available as you read.

Ford May Lose Some Investors to GM IPO

On: Tue, Aug 24, 2010 at 9:52AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Allan Mullaly test 2

According to the Bloomberg News, Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman, Bill Ford recently commented that some of the company’s investors may liquidate their holdings in order to buy shares in General Motors Co’s IPO with the strategy in mind of distributing the risk throughout the automotive industry.

“Some money will be rebalanced into GM, but look: our company and GM ultimately are going to succeed or not based upon performance,” according to Ford's statement to reporters at an event in Detroit. “It doesn’t make any difference to me where our shares are or their shares are on any given day.”

As GM prepares for its initial public offering after bankruptcy, many analysts are predicting an offering of up to $16 billion.

The U.S. Treasury currently owns as much as 61% of GM. The share sale will allow the company to decrease the government’s ownership share while making a comeback to public market. Ford Motor Co. was the only Detroit automaker of the big three that didn’t take a government bailout or file bankruptcy by borrowing $23 billion. Alan Mulally, Ford CEO stated that the company is at a disadvantage in the marketplace due to having such a huge financial loan obligation.

U.S. Dealers Are Asking For More Inventory

On: Tue, Aug 24, 2010 at 9:38AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

2011 GMC Terrain test 2

We have heard the woes of dealers across the country complaining about lack of stock and lost sales, every since automakers cut production as a result of last years’ stalemate of new car sales affecting every automaker in the U.S. market.  Stories about dealers such as Carter Myers who reports that he is losing motivated buyers over lack of products such as the Terrain crossover, Honda Pilots and Sonatos, and Chevy Suburbans, to name a few.

Automakers "have driven supplies too low,"  according to Myers, a former chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association.

It is a perplexing issue across the industry.  While most dealerships in the industry suffer from low sales these days, many dealers feel they could definitely sell more vehicles if automakers would supply them. There are a handful of difficult-to-get vehicles, such as the Terrain, which accounts for much of the problem. Many of the complaints are from General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group dealers.

73% of the 244 dealers interviewed in an Automotive News survey last week, agreed that they had too few new vehicles in inventory. And 77% of those respondents felt that they had lost sales as a result.

Automakers report that they are doing their best to keep dealerships stocked with inventory while avoiding the past mistake of over production that resulted in too much inventory on the lots, driving prices and resell values down and high incentives up.

2011 Scion iQ, 3 Plus One

On: Tue, Aug 24, 2010 at 9:25AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

2011 Scion iQ test 2

The 2011 Scion iQ is a new subcompact car from Toyota's youth-oriented brand. The iQ is a front-wheel-drive hatchback that seats 4 passengers. Toyota calls it the world’s smallest 4-seater.

The iQ has a 90-horsepower 1.3-liter 4-cylinder engine paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that operates much like an automatic. Available safety features include ABS, traction control, antiskid system, curtain-side airbags, front-side airbags, driver- and front-passenger-knee airbags, and a rear-window-curtain airbag. Standard features include a 50/50 split-folding rear seat back, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, and digital-music-player plug-ins. Several audio systems are among the available features.

The 2011 Scion iQ will go on sale in early 2011. With its compact size, youthful appeal, and quirky looks, the 2011 Scion iQ is considered a vehicle with qualities opposite of gas guzzling SUVs. The New York Times described the iQ as "Cute as a square button, the iQ is a city-slicker micro car that, at 120 inches long, is barely a foot longer than the Smart Fortwo, the smallest car sold here."

The 2011 Scion iQ uses an innovative "3 + 1" seating arrangement that holds three adults and one child or pet.  The configuration makes it the smallest four-seat car in the world, according to Scion. The iQ has a long list of standard features including many standard safety features. Inside, the iQ has a well-laid out cabin. Like most Scions, the iQ is anticipated to be very customizable.

VW, GM, Toyota Agree to 10% Pay Raise for South African Workers

On: Mon, Aug 23, 2010 at 9:42AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

VW, GM, Toyota Agree to 10% Pay Raise for South African Workers   test 1-1

Union members from South African automobile manufacturing plants have reached an agreement, as far as wages go, ending an expensive 8-day strike in Johannesburg. Thousands of autoworkers signed a three-year wage deal that will result in workers getting as much as a 10% pay increase this year and an additional 9% in the next 2 years. The goal for the unions was to get a 15% wage increase, which is over 3 times the country’s current inflation rate.

JD Powers Forcasts 15% Sales Decrease for August

On: Mon, Aug 23, 2010 at 9:23AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

JD Powers Forcasts 15% Sales Decrease for August test 1-1

According to a recent J.D. Powers and Associates poll, the vehicle sales record for August is expected to decline from July’s numbers which were “relatively strong.” Total sales for light vehicles are expected to be down 15% from last August when numbers were high as a result of the “cash for clunkers” government incentive program. But numbers will remain above that of the selling rate from the first 6 months of 2010.

August sales are expected to be around 875,000 units, which, according to Automotive News, “represents a seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) of 8.9 million units.”
August sales are expected to diminish slightly from July's reported rate of 9.2 million units. These numbers represent the most accurate predictor of the demand for new cars in the country.

When analysts factor in the distortion rate from the “Cash for Clunkers” program, the actual numbers are up by 14% from August of 2009.

RedLine Time Attack 2010: Japanese Metal And Everything Else

On: Fri, Aug 20, 2010 at 3:00PM | By: John Welch

RedLine Time Attack 2010: Japanese Metal And Everything Else test 1-1

Here we have all of the images the AutoShopperBlog couldn't squeeze into other posts regarding the RedLine Time Attack Series event at Sebring Interantional Raceway last weekend. There were many more pictures that didn't make the cut, either because they were of cars we have fully covered, or my finger was in the way . . . whichever.

Here we have more than few GTRs, Evos, MINIs, BMWs, Scions and Porsches. This race was a blast to cover and hopefully will return next year. I wouldn't mind a slightly overcast day, though; I'm still peeling face skin off in sheets.

If you have any questions about any of the vehicles in these pictures, feel free to ask them through the 'comments'. Enjoy!