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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Reports

Five Ford Vehicles Named IIHS Top Safety Picks

On: Mon, Jun 14, 2010 at 2:32PM | By: John Welch

Five Ford Vehicles Named IIHS Top Safety Picks test 1-1

Ford just keeps on keepin' on, spewing good news from every pore. Today it was announced that five Ford models have earned a five-star rating for 2011 from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Ford now has eleven Top Safety Picks for 2011 models, more than any other manufacturer. The 2010 Ford Flex and Fusion, Lincoln MKZ and MKT, and Mercury Milan are the latest Ford models to be scrutinized. Due to extensive use of high-strength steel, all five models passed the IIHS tests with flying colors.

“Leading the industry in both Top Safety Pick ratings and government five-star crash test ratings is very significant because customers increasingly consider IIHS and NHTSA ratings when choosing a new vehicle,” said Sue Cischke, Ford’s Group Vice President of Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering. “These latest test results further demonstrate Ford’s commitment to continuous improvement on the safety front.”

Denso Becomes Number One Light-Duty Auto Supplier Worldwide

On: Mon, Jun 14, 2010 at 11:26AM | By: John Welch

Denso Becomes Number One Light-Duty Auto Supplier Worldwide test 1-1

Most Americans recognize Denso as a spark-plug manufacturer. Spark plugs that are expensive, but throw solid spark for millenia. Bosch, on the other hand, Americans are a little more familiar with. While also manufacturing spark plugs, we have seen their wiper blades and wastegates and electronic compnents for years. Denso Corp. does everything Bosch GmbH does and, if sales numbers count for anything,  they do these things better then Bosch. In 2009, Bosch's global sales to automakers fell 24 percent to $25.62 billion. Denso's fiscal-year sales rose 3 percent to $28.73 billion. Boo-yah, game, set, match.

Not so fast! What about the wacky Japanese April-March fiscal year? Huh? Under this thoroughly convienient fiscal time table, sales figures exclude the depressed first three months of 2009 and include the early 2010 rebound. Bosch contends that if it were operating on the same namby-pamby fiscal year it would have posted sales of $28.80 billion, beating Denso's $28.73 billion.

This situation gets even murkier. Toyota owns 23 percent of Denso, but arch-rival Bosch owns 5 percent! They manufacter similar products, as well. To go with spark-plugs, Denso makes fuel systems, radiators, air conditioners, and electronics. Bosch also produces electronics, brakes, chassis systems, motors, navigation systems, and other parts. Denso has been number two in sales behind Bosch for the last four years.

Denso Corp. isn't confused about its standing in the supplier market. "There are still some very, very strong competitors out there, and they're going to come back," says Terry Helgesen, senior vice president for sales and marketing at Denso International America Inc. "We've been fortunate to have a broad customer base and a broad product portfolio."

Suppliers provided most of the data for the ranking. Some companies' sales were estimated. The numbers do not include non-automotive, aftermarket, or heavy-duty truck sales. Sales are in dollars, translated when necessary from other currencies.

UPDATE: 24 Hueres Du Mans; Race Day!

On: Sat, Jun 12, 2010 at 9:36AM | By: John Welch

Audi R15 Plus test 2

The cars are waiting on the grid, the drivers anxiously pulling on their gloves and HANS device. I've got my pound of coffee, two laptops and a clear schedule. We will be updating the 24 Hours of Le Mans all day, but first a few dramatic happenings before the race has even begun.

The GT2 pole went to Risi Competitzione and Ferrari after qualifying, but it was stripped from the team after post-qualifying tech inspection. The rear wing on the Risi F430 GTE was found to be an inch to short. This infraction cost the American team the pole and possibly the race; they will now start from the very rear of the field. Crushing disappointment for Risi, the Ferrari teams penalty was Corvette Racing's gain. Having qualified second and third, Le Mans now has an all Corvette front-row in GT2. Another interesting note, both GT2 Corvettes qualified in front of several GT1 cars.

The Audi R15's are struggling for pace. Out qualified by all of the Peugeot 908's, the Audis need to hustle at the beginning of the race just to keep it interesting. Both diesel teams are light years faster then gasoline-engined car LMP's, but the Peugoet is one order faster then the Audi. Lack of testing due to economic kafuffles has seriously affected Audi's ability to stay ahead of their competition. The economic climate favors the older and better-sorted 908, rendering the R15 Plus's potential technological advantage moot.

The race is underway, and Allan McNish is ramming his R15 right up the ORECA Peugeot’s arsche. This apparent recklessness is classic McNish, driving the first lap of a 24-hour race as if it were the last lap. Updates throughout the day . . .

Saab To Use BMW Powertrains?

On: Fri, Jun 11, 2010 at 4:38PM | By: John Welch

Victor Muller test 2

The Saab 9-2 rumor mill is just getting ramped-up, and, naturally, the parties involved have "no comment". Word is, Victor Muller, chief executive of Spyker, and Chairman of Saab, says talks with larger companies regarding the Saab 9-2 power train are well underway. One of those companies just happens to be BMW, again, according to rumors.

Both Muller and BMW were quick to deny the reports, a BMW spokesman having this to say: "We are in talks with several interested parties who have interest in our technology, but there are no contracts with Saab at the moment." A spokesman at Saab said the carmaker was looking for "possible partners" but also declined to comment on the report. A Mini-powered 9-2 would be interesting, but would it relegate the car to front-wheel drive? Would that ruin the spirit of the 9-2? I mean, the BMW four banger they're referring to isn't even a 2-stroke . . . isn't that heresy enough?

Saab has other concerns as well. "We are concentrating on the 9-5 and the 9-4X," Eric Geers, a company spokesperson, said. "A smaller Saab below the 9-3 is not in our business plan though it would be on our wish list." Another possible BMW/Saab tie-up in the near future: BMW supply the requisite diesel engines the GM-sourced 9-4x will need to be competitive in Europe. Dagens Industri (a European ‘trade’ publication) reported on Friday that there were also plans for BMW to supply a diesel engine for Saab's 9-4X, which will be launched in the European market at the start of 2011.

Victor Muller is serious about saving Saab. He plans to double Saab's annual yearly output, to 85,000 by 2012. The addition of the 9-5 and 9-4x will help, but a large-volume small car would affect Saab's bottom line significantly. More on the 9-2 as details become available . ..


24 Heures Du Mans; The 'Shopper Preview - GT

On: Fri, Jun 11, 2010 at 11:38AM | By: John Welch

24 Heures Du Mans; The 'Shopper Preview - GT test 1-1

Zany mix-ups are always good for a laugh. Sometime around 2007, the entire world stopped caring about GT1 cars. Saleen, Maserati, even Aston Martin quit backing factory teams, and the mighty Corvette C6.R's were left to race each other. This whole "no competition" thing bored the hell out of CorvetteRacing, and they did what any self-respecting group of total-badasses would do: went andfound competition. With the American squad changing classes to GT2, that left no teams building or campaigning GT1 cars. It had become too expensive, too fast, too antiquated. GT1 was no longer relatable by 2009, the underbody aero-dynamics and carbon brakes just too costly for privateer teams. What to do, what to do . . .

Along came French driver Stephan Ratel, with is slicky-boy hair and his radical plans for molding GT1 into a relevant, global racing series. We will get further into the FIA GT1 World Championship and it's spectacular website later; all we need to know at the moment is that Ratel's plan would essentially create bigger GT2 cars. The under floor diffusers and carbon brakes would be shelved (just like a GT2 car,) and weight added to each car. Some of these new GT1 machines are specially built based on the rules, the Nissan GT-R's for instance, and some competitors are 'grandfathered' in. Start with a GT1 C6.R, take away all of it's aero-tricks, throw a sandbag or two in the trunk, and voila- new GT1 car. It could be argued that "New GT1 Car" stands for "Porky GT2 Car" and that the two classes being so closely matched should add up to some freaking amazing racing. It could also lead to some horrifying wrecks, as there are 8 cars entered in GT1 and an unprecedented 17 entries in GT2. Jeebus, that’s a lotta GT cars! Traveling at the same speeds! For 24 hours! 

We've got hard numbers inside the post. Qualifying times for all 26 GT entries, and possibly an image or two . . .

24 Heures Du Mans; The 'Shopper Preview

On: Thu, Jun 10, 2010 at 4:22PM | By: John Welch

24 Heures Du Mans; The 'Shopper Preview test 1-1

It wasn't all that long ago you could time an Audi victory at Le Mans by the damn sun. Nowadays things have changed, drastically. The 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans will be held this weekend, and an Audi R15 Plus occupies not one of the top four starting positions. Not one! To further rub salt in that gaping wound, all four of the top spots have been filled by Audi's arch nemesis, Peugeot. You read that correctly, the first four positions are all Peugeot 908 HPDi's, with the fastest Audi coming in fifth. FIFTH?! All that '2012' business must be true! The world really is coming to an end!

For American fans, there a number of Le Mans aspects that are especially interesting this year. 2010 is the first year that Patron-Highcroft, a decidedly American team, has been invited to La Sarthe. 2010 also marks the 50th anniversary of the Chevrolet (no more 'Chevy', right?) Corvette's first appearance at Le Mans. In 1960, the No. 3 Cunningham Corvette driven by John Fitch and Bob Grossman won the large displacement GT class and finished eighth overall. Sharing the GT2 class with the yellow and black Corvette Racing cars are ALMS regulars Rahal/BMW, with their M3 GT's, the Flying Lizard Porsche GT3 and, on provisional pole for GT2, the Risi Competitzione Ferrari F430 GT. Not in the 78-year history of Le Mans has our country entered so many strong teams. The BMW's, the Ferrari and the Porsche should all be able to stomp their European counterparts, and the Corvettes will rival their GT1 cousins in overall speed. Utilizing a significantly toned-down set of aerodynamic rules, it will be interesting to see if the modern GT2 machinery can keep up with the older GT1 Corvette C6.R's, as well as the other GT1 machinery.

I'm going to go ahead a swallow my tongue right now, so that it doesn't happen while I am hyperventilating at 6:00 a.m., Saturday morning. While I'm doing that, why don't you peruse the LMP results from the first Le Mans qualifying session, inside this post . . . GT1 and 2 qualifying results to come in a later post . . .

Ford and GM Partner With Google

On: Wed, Jun 9, 2010 at 9:52AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Chevy Volt Mobile App test 2

Google has become such a big name that it is now being integrated into automotive technology in many of Detroit’s Big Three vehicles. It was announced today that Google Maps will soon be incorporated into GM’s OnStar eNav technology.

Ford has also made a similar decision, today, to assimilate Google Maps into its Sync system which is similar to OnStar and includes: hands-free calling, turn-by-turn directions, 911 assist, traffic alerts, audible text messages, and now the ability to incorporate Google Maps.  In fact, the major difference between OnStar’s telematics system and Ford’s Sync technology is that Onstar has its own communications equipment and Ford’s system is linked through cell phones.

GM Execs to Get $24.5 Million in Shares

On: Wed, Jun 9, 2010 at 9:32AM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

gmexecs test 2

According a recent report published on Auto News, “GM issued 184,255 salary stock units and 71,155 restricted stock units executives can exercise if they hit certain performance targets, the automaker said Monday in U.S. regulatory filings. Each unit represents one share of stock, and if GM stock hasn’t been trading for six months, the executives will receive cash.”

This distribution of shares is related to their next planned IPO launch (initial public offering), according to Joe Phillippi, the president of AutoTrends Consulting. In an interview with Auto News he stated, “This is probably 100 percent related to their run up to an IPO.” Phillippi further added, “It’s probably one more step in preparation to go public.”

The CFO for GM, Chris Liddell, emphasized that the IPO probably will not take place until sometime during the next fiscal year. Even more interesting is the fact that GM’s stock value is rapidly increasing. This means that we could potentially see them actually paying back the taxpayers and the loans they borrowed a lot faster than experts first had predicted.  

Honda Leader of Pack with Auto Sales in Asia & US - Civic is Still the Hot Seller

On: Tue, Jun 8, 2010 at 1:44PM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

Honda test 2

At one time or another it seems that we all have known someone who absolutely swears by driving a Honda. There are tons of great lines that this automaker has to offer to the consumer—from small and  compact cars, like the Honda Civic, to roomier and spacious mid-sized sedans, like the Honda Accord. They have even increased their already impressive fleet of vehicles lately, adding the sweet touring sedan they call Honda CrossTour, and even making mini-SUVs that appeal to the younger  crowd, like the Honda Element. They also offer the Pilot for those looking for a real four door SUV, and they have the Ridgeline, a very durable and heavy-duty truck. For  parents and child-toting folks, they also offer the Honda Odyssey—which is a pretty feature-loaded and safe mini-van.

These are but a few of the many great cars already in the Honda fleet.

Over the years, Americans have really taken to Honda cars. People love Hondas for several different reasons. Most people, when asked why they cherish their Honda so much, have told me it is the most reliable car they have ever driven, and that it comes with an excellent warranty as well. They seem to really, indeed, like a car company that offers them the car they want and the peace of mind gained  from knowing their car is covered by a great warranty.

Curious about the Honda warranty, I poked around on their website (www.honda.com) and pulled up some stats. They do offer a fairly decent package. And when I looked at other car warranties, the Honda warranty does indeed compare rather nicely—adding to why people love these cars so much, in addition to the fact that they look so sleek and drive so smoothly.

GM Recalling 1.5 Million Vehicles For Potential Fire Hazard

On: Tue, Jun 8, 2010 at 12:46PM | By: Drew Christy

GM Recalling 1.5 Million Vehicles For Potential Fire Hazard test 1-1

General Motors is recalling 1.5 million Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Hummer, Saturn, and GMC vehicles worldwide to fix a heated windshield wiper fluid system module, which could cause a fire. The recall affects several GM car, truck, and SUV models made between 2006 to 2009. This is the second recall for the same heated windshield wiper fluid system. GM originally recalled the system back in August 2008 because a short circuit on the printed circuit board could overheat the control-circuit ground wire and cause a fire. Dealers fixed the vehicles by installing an in-line fuse in the heated washer module wiring, however, GM came across new reports of fires in vehicles that had been fixed.

In a press release, General Motors Executive Director of Safety stated: “While our analysis shows the number of incidents is very small compared with the number of vehicles on the road, we want our customers to have complete peace of mind. We always want to make sure customers can count on the safety and quality of their GM vehicle.” GM has decided to disable the heated portion of the washer fluid system because no solution is available to fix the malfunctioning module. Dealership service personnel will remove the heated washer fluid module and reroute washer fluid hoses. “This was a unique technology available from only one supplier, and that supplier has stopped manufacturing, which left no opportunity to collaborate on an improved design,” Boyer said. Boyer continued, “We want to be clear that the voluntary payment to customers is for the loss of the feature, not the recall.” The report says GM will reimburse owners and lease holders $100 since the feature is being disabled.

GM will start sending recall notices this month, however, customers may also contact their local dealer at any time to make an appointment to have the heated washer system removed. Most of the vehicles, 1,365,070, are in the United States; there are 98,794 affected vehicles in Canada; 26,228 in Mexico, and 38,093 elsewhere. There are no known injuries or crashes reported, however, GM is aware of five fires.

See the list and full report after the jump...

Panoz Unveils Abruzzi; So Wild It's Nearly Pornographic

On: Tue, Jun 8, 2010 at 11:46AM | By: John Welch

Panoz Unveils Abruzzi; So Wild It's Nearly Pornographic test 1-1

The Internet has a funny way of taking rumors and running with them. Like scissors. The Panoz Abruzzi is the source of a few rumors, and the Internet has sensationalized every aspect of the new Panoz supercar in any way it could.

"2,300 brake horse pressures!"

"Carbon-Kevlar dead-pedal and a licorice dispenser on the ceiling!"

"The nose doubles as a sweet three-blade razor! Lifts and cuts!"

On top of these ridiculous claims, the Internet has provided us with several concept drawings that were far from accurate. What I find hilarious about this is that the actual car is more outrageous than any of these fake Panoz drawings depict. I mean, geezus, this car is front-engined?! Where, exactly, does the engine go?! Not being manufactured by some elves in an Alpine cave somewhere, the Panoz Abruzzi has a lineage that helps us ease past the slightly Sci-Fi aerodynamic treatment. This is a real car, screwed together well, and the badge on its hood has the racing credentials to give it more cachet than, say, a Gumpert Apollo . . . which is built by some elves in some Alpine cave somewhere . . .