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Throughout The Car Industry



Categories: Reports

Grand Thrown Down At Watkins Glen, Ganassi Takes Number Seven!

On: Mon, Aug 9, 2010 at 4:47PM | By: John Welch


Grand Thrown Down At Watkins Glen, Ganassi Takes Number Seven! test 1-1

The race was going quickly . . . very quickly. By the middle of the first hour it appeared that the Crown Royal 200 at the Glen was going to go the distance caution free, something that has never happened at Watkins Glen. With no yellow flags to slow and bunch the field, the race leaders were running a blistering pace. The No. 01 Ganassi BMW averaged a startling 120.679 mph on its way to the 7th victory of the season for Ganassi.

Tying the Rolex Series record for wins in one season is a big deal (especially considering there are two races left, with no signs of weakness from the Ganassi bunch), but the margin was paper thin. Scott Pruett brought the attractive (for a DP) BMW/Riley across the line 2.722 seconds ahead of the Wayne Taylor Dallara driven by Max ('The Ax') Angelelli. These two cars rubbed fenders all day, but, as usual, Scott Pruett came out on top.


AutoShopperBlog Personas For Mozilla Firefox!

On: Mon, Aug 9, 2010 at 12:04PM | By: John Welch


AutoShopperBlog Personas For Mozilla Firefox!  test 1-1

We know you love reading the AutoShopperBlog on a daily basis, not because you have to, because you want to. With that in mind we have developed a way for Mozilla Firefox users to stare at their favorite AutoShopper photography instead of finishing those dreaded TPS Reports. These "Personas" work only with Firefox , are free, and feature as much racing hooliganism as we can fit into a 3000x200 rectangle. A very kewl way to spice up your browser that doesn't involve unicorns or Japanese animation or blinged-out Escalades that are so off center you can see only half of one massive chromed wheel.

We have submitted three Mozilla Personas to Firefox so far, but will be adding more weekly. Click inside the post to adorn your browser with some AutoShopper eye-candy . . .


The Road Racing Weekend

On: Fri, Aug 6, 2010 at 6:05PM | By: John Welch


The Road Racing Weekend test 1-1

Sports cars aplenty this weekend, the American Le Mans Series is sharing the track with the IzodIndyCar Series, and the Rolex Grand Am Series will tackle Watkins Glen on Saturday, before NASCAR rolls in for their annual trip to the Glen. Grand Am won't start qualifying until noon-forty-five tomorrow, while the ALMS handled qualifications today.

There is lots of news involving prototypes and driver swaps and wrecks and general sports car zaniness. Let's dive right in with more Lola news.

Roush/Yates Engines has signed a contract to provide Lola Cars with purpose-built EcoBoost engines for new 2011 Lola chassis. The liter twin-turbo V6 will be built at the Roush Yates factory in Mooresville, North Carolina. The Ford EcoBoost LMP engine is designed to be a low maintenence, high mileage alternative to more exotic power plants from HPD (Honda Performance Development) and others. Lowering costs even further, this engine will be offered as a standard installation unit for Lola's 2011 LMP2-ish contender, the B11/40. If the 2011 engines function well and prove to be popular alternatives for LMP2-spec prototypes, Roush Yates may begin development on a Ford Coyote-based power plant. The Coyote, if you're not familiar, is the instantly legnedary 5.0 mill stuffed into 2011 Mustang GTs.

This isn't the first time a Yates engine has found its way into a Lola chassis. The Kremer Team ran Yates V8s in their Lolas in 2000, taking wins at Spa Francochamps and Kyalami. Both companies are excited about next season, and I am getting excited about all these turbo-equipped prototypes we may see next season.

More roadracingcrack inside the post . ..


Geely Comes Out Gunning: Volvo to Offer 7 Series, S-Class Rival

On: Fri, Aug 6, 2010 at 9:48AM | By: Chris Weiss


Geely Comes Out Gunning: Volvo to Offer 7 Series, S-Class Rival  test 1-1

The ink has barely dried on the deal that sent Volvo from Ford to Chinese automaker Geely, but the latter is wasting no time in laying out big plans for its new brand. A top-ranking Geely official stated intentions of producing a Volvo-branded high-end luxury sedan to compete with top European offerings such as the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

In a press conference in London, Geely chief Li Shufu told the audience that he believes that Volvo has the technology and research capabilities needed to offer cars that can compete with (and fetch the prices of) other full-size premium models. Citing the aforementioned examples specifically, Shufu said: “At the moment we are competing with BMW, Audi and Mercedes, but we don’t have a product to compete with the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes S-class. We need to fill that gap."


 

Daytona Construction Well Underway, Piece of Track With Every Daytona 500 Ticket

On: Thu, Aug 5, 2010 at 11:25AM | By: John Welch


Daytona Construction Well Underway, Piece of Track With Every Daytona 500 Ticket test 1-1

As soon as the last Sprint Cup car disappeared into the Daytona International Speedway garage on the evening of July 3rd, the tarmac surrounding the 2.5 mile landmark began to tremble. It knew its time as the racing surface in Daytona was up. On July 5th, the tarmac realized its worst fears. Crews began disassembling the catch fence surrounding the track, trucking in construction equipment, and making the final preparations for the new track surface.

Now we crawl into August (I say 'crawl' because that is the fastest we can travel when outdoors in Florida; it’s very hot and an elevated heart rate will cause one's head to explode) and The AutoShopperBlog has a few DaytonaConstruction updates for you. Brothers operating cranes, tarmac for free, and month-one progress inside the post . . .


The Great Mini-Van Wars Of Aught Ten: Japanese Nissan Quest Revealed

On: Wed, Aug 4, 2010 at 3:42PM | By: John Welch


The Great Mini-Van Wars Of Aught Ten: Japanese Nissan Quest Revealed test 1-1

We have seen the redesigned Toyota Sienna, the brand new Honda Odyssey, but where is the third wheel in our Axis of Asian Mini-Vans? Nissan is getting around to it, just be patient.

I say things like that as if anyone cares about a bunch of MommieWagens whose popularity waned towards the end of the twentieth century, giving way to the rise of the fullsize SUV. Considering their tainted, dorkish reputation, these vehicles have a lot of work to do if they want to capture our collective, highly ego-driven American taste.

As far as the Sienna and Odyssey are concerned, these issues have been addressed. Decidedly butch, both bread boxes exude a much tougher persona, and in some ways overcook the, uhm, "rawness". The Toyota delivers an easily understood people-mover with a slightly edgy side. The Honda is a little less easy to comprehend; from a styling standpoint, anyway. Some of those angles . . . yikes. Otherwise, the Honda is as desirable as the Toyota, and, to me, both are far more desirable than any number of SUVs.

This rodeo is missing one bucking bronc, the Nissan Quest. As is custom with foreign automakers, the Japanese version of the Quest, entitled "Elgrand," has been released to the saki-fueled, car crazy Japanese public shortly before the North American release of the Quest.


Consumer Reports Designates Best Cars For Teenagers and Senior Citizens

On: Wed, Aug 4, 2010 at 11:11AM | By: Chris Weiss


Consumer Reports Designates Best Cars For Teenagers and Senior Citizens test 1-1

With an eye toward teenagers and young adults going back to college and high school, Consumer Reports has released its short list of the best vehicles for these young drivers. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the organization has also released a list of suggested vehicles for senior citizens. The cars on the lists include advanced safety, handling and design features that make them particularly beneficial to the individual groups. The lists cover segments including midsize sedan, minivan, small sedan and small SUV.

CR recommends that parents looking to outfit their children with new or used vehicles in time for college look carefully at safety features like electronic stability control and crash test results. The organization also warned of blindly selecting a large SUV, car or truck, thinking that it will automatically be safer than smaller cars.

David Champion, the senior director of CR's Automotive Test Center in East Haddam, Connecticut explained: "Often parents think that putting their child in the biggest car is the safest thing they can do, but that's not so. Teens are the most inexperienced drivers on the road, so you want to make sure they're driving something that handles well, is agile and has as many safety features as possible--especially electronic stability control."


Cadillac Escalade Tops Most Stolen Vehicle List (Again)

On: Wed, Aug 4, 2010 at 9:42AM | By: Chris Weiss


Cadillac Escalade Tops Most Stolen Vehicle List (Again)  test 1-1

Popular culture is oh so quick to romanticize the high life behind rolling on chromed-out 24s in your Escalade, but it leaves out a glaring piece of the puzzle: the part about when you finish up sippin' Cris at the club and come out to find an empty parking spot where you're freshly washed Escalade was once resting. According to a new report by the Highway Data Loss Institute, Cadillac's biggest model is the most stolen vehicle on the road. In fact, the Escalade has topped the HDLI's list 6 out of the past 7 times, making it one of the more fleeting status symbols of modern times.

The HDLI's numbers are derived from the frequency of insurance theft claims and the size of payouts over the last three model years, so they don't necessarily include all cases of theft. The 2007 to 2009 Escalade was followed by the Ford F-250, Infiniti G37 and Dodge Charger with HEMI engine. Those four models averaged about 3 to 5 times more thefts than the average vehicle.

The vehicle group that experienced the most thefts according to the report is the extra large luxury SUV segment. Given that the HDLI's report takes financial losses into account, it's not surprising that large, expensive SUVs would be at the top.

Similarly, some cars made the list not so much for the fact that they were likely to get stolen but because the claims were significantly higher than average. The fifth car on the list was the Corvette Z06, which averaged a claim of $41,229--more than four times that of the Dodge Charger with Hemi.


Ford Sale of Volvo To Geely Final

On: Tue, Aug 3, 2010 at 9:52AM | By: John Welch


2011 Volvo V60 test 2

Having paid $6.5 Billion dollars for Volvo in 1999, one would think that FoMoCo would want to at least break even  . .. right? To US Automakers, getting rid of their European Luxo-Brands is breaking even. Just as GM lost its shirt on Saab, but is better without Saab, Ford is losing a truck-load of money on Volvo, yet doesn't seem to mind. Geely, coughing up $1.8 billion for Volvo, is saving $4.7 billion dollars. That certainly is a 'truck-load' of money.

“Volvo is an excellent brand with a strong product line, and it has returned to profits after a successful restructuring. We are confident Volvo has a solid future under Geely's ownership,” Alan Mulally, Ford CEO, said in a statement.

“At the same time, the sale of Volvo will allow us to sharpen our focus on the Ford brand around the world and continue to deliver on our One Ford plan serving our customers with the very best cars and trucks in the world.”

Where did all this restraint and responsible thinking come from? Oh yeah, Boeing. It's as if Bill Ford Jr. invited Gordon Ramsey to Dearborn for an episode of "AutoMaker Nightmares." To quote Ramsey: "How can you open seven restaurants when your first restaurant is failing?!" So true with any business; Mulally is simply finishing a plan he set in motion that would create a profitable Ford without the overhead and production baggage associated with EuroBrands like Jaguar, Land Rover (both gone to Tata in 2008), Aston-Martin (the press says AM was sold to Proton, but we all know David Richards owns all of Malaysia, as well as a large portion of Wales), and now Volvo. Ford will retain Stephen Odell, former Volvo CEO, who will return to Ford as CEO of Ford of Europe. This leaves the door open for Stefan Jacoby to step in as Volvo CEO.


The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: 1st Anniversary Edition

On: Mon, Aug 2, 2010 at 3:19PM | By: John Welch


The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: 1st Anniversary Edition test 1-1

The Good: Last year we began preparing to launch The AutoShopper Blog right around this time. The first images were saved on July 30th, the first article written on August 1st. Though it wasn't the first article posted, the first article I wrote was a recap of the Rally Cross portion of the 2009 X Games.

I was blown away. The idea of a home-grown Race of Champions-type Rally Balls-Off made me giggle in my sleep. It was better than the RoC: no silly dune buggies, the rally cars are different brands and there were prominent jumps that the drivers had to negotiate. Two of them! The course weaved through the L.A. Coliseum, out into the parking lot, then back into the arena for jump-tastic, fascia-destroying 70-foot launches in the middle of the bowl. It was a perfect concoction of familiar drivers and short-attention span laps that would capture the skateboard-centric mind and possibly open a new form of racing to a new group of potential fans. After all, what could be more extreme than slinging a 2,500 lb. vehicle around gravel-strewn corners right next to 300-foot drop offs? That happens at every World Rally Championship race. Totally gnar-bonetubularRadical, Yo. I was so keyed-up I failed to notice the deplorable ESPN camera work or the obvious lack of scrutineering and serious scoring. That is the "Good" portion of today's article, last year's X Games Rally.

 . . . And now for the BAD . . . duhn-dun DAaaahhhh . . . The coverage and execution of the 2010 X Games Rally. The Ugly? ESPN/ABC motor sports coverage in general. Two words: "Sorely Lacking" . . .


Jeep To Get Complete Facelift Over Coming Years

On: Mon, Aug 2, 2010 at 10:00AM | By: Chris Weiss


Jeep To Get Complete Facelift Over Coming Years  test 1-1

Beginning with the recent 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep's entire line will be getting new and updated models over the next three years. The new models will leverage platforms from Fiat and may include both crossover and Jeep pick-up models.

In terms of new offerings, Jeep will develop a small crossover model for a 2013 debut. That model will be built on a Fiat subcompact platform. Rumors have indicated that Jeep is considering a pick-up version of the Wrangler, but the company is still undecided as to the fate of that project. At the Easter Jeep Safari this past spring, Jeep and Mopar made some waves when they showed off the rugged Jeep NuKizer 715, a military-styled pick-up that sparked murmurs of a possible pick-up production model.

The next Jeep model up for a refresh is the Jeep Patriot. It is expected to get some minor exterior revisions in October, including a new grille. The model will be replaced by a Fiat-based model in 2013.