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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Reports

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 . . .

The Best-Selling Cars And Trucks In The US

On: Mon, Jun 7, 2010 at 7:11PM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

2010 Ford F-Series Pickup Truck test 2

A recent report was published by ABC News about the best-selling cars & trucks available in the US, with some surprising numbers. Leading the pack (drum roll, please) are the best-selling trucks in the US for three decades and counting: Ford’s F-Series pickup trucks. Sitting comfortably at number two and three is Toyota with the Corolla and the Camry. The BMW 3-Series is also near the top, which is surprising because luxury autos don’t tend to top the lists of best-selling cars because fewer people have the pockets deep enough to buy them, and more people tend to buy economical cars.

The ABC News report, which cited national statistics from Autodata, stated “Ford's F-Series trucks (ranging in price from $21,820 to $43,355) have been the most popular trucks in America for 33 years running. Toyota's Camry (starting at $19,595) and Corolla (starting at $15,450) are perennial bestsellers, although Honda's Accord and Civic are serious contenders for the top spots. Other standbys are BMW's 3-Series sedan, which has sold 26,730 units year-to-date and is up 21% over 2009, and Ford's Escape, up 36.7% over last year and the eighth-best-selling of any vehicle in 2009.”

Chrysler Sales Peaked Over 100k in May

On: Mon, Jun 7, 2010 at 5:26PM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

Chrysler  test 2

I am always scouring the World Wide Web looking for positive news on the auto making industry. For one, I am a very happy person and I always look for inspiration online when reading about different industries that are now rebounding after overcoming many obstacles and hurdles. And for a second reason: there are always so many bad things that you read about in the news that it is nice to find something that is more enticing and uplifting, as opposed to only reading about things that are depressing. Speaking of depressing, the recent auto recession was really climaxing—or so it seemed—over the past several years, where the future of the Big Three automakers was at stake and filled with an air of uncertainty.

However, the full moon of sales is rising. By that pun I mean that the tides and waves of auto sales are rising, and that really is a great thing, folks! I was searching the web today, looking for some good news, and, indeed, I found it in a report from Auto News showing the once struggling and nearly bust automaker, Chrysler, had sold more overall units (in the month of May) than they had in fourteen months. Now, if you are looking for some good news in the auto industry, as it relates to new cars being sold, it does not get much cushier or spicier than this. Saucy, indeed, is my sentiment. As the report revealed to me, sales for Chrysler are vastly up for the month of May, 2010—to the tune of an overall increase of 33%.

Four Important Factors to Consider When Buying a New or Used Car

On: Mon, Jun 7, 2010 at 4:56PM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

Car Shopping test 2

There are so many things that may pop in and out of your mind when you are considering purchasing a brand new car or a used car, or even pondering leasing one. Some things that really leap out at first thought here are price, warranty, cost of car insurance, gas mileage, annual fees from the motor vehicle department, reliability, comfort, and of course, the dreamy ride you crave to own and to drive. Thankfully, there are so many resources that are out there these days that are—quite literally—right at your fingertips. Thanks to the advent of the World Wide Web, online car shopping, price comparison, and all related aspects has been made as easy as sitting down in front of your home computer and doing some digging and poking around. To better aid you along the way, here are some things to take into consideration while you are doing your car shopping.

Your Budget & How You Figure it Out
First off, it is of good mind to know what new car or used car that you can afford to buy. An excellent method of knowing what your monthly payment might be, or what you could expect to pay per month, is by using an auto loan calculator. Lucky for you, there are some great websites that offer free auto loan calculators, such as Bank Rate (Click Here to See Their Free Auto Loan Calculator). This way you can have a really solid idea of what your payment will be, and most importantly, what you can afford to spend and expect to pay.

To Purchase a New Car or Used Auto or to Lease One
You have options, as well. You can shop for used cars online or locally; just make sure you use online resources like CarFax.com or AutoCheck.com so that you can do a vehicle history search on the car. This way if you do buy a used car, you know you are getting a great car. You can also opt to just buy that spanking new ride outright, or lease it. Keep in mind there are many underlying terms to auto lease contracts, and they all vary; so if you do plan on leasing a car make certain to read the terms before signing on the dotted line.


Daimler Looking to Score Points at World Cup

On: Mon, Jun 7, 2010 at 4:11PM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

2010 Fifa World Cup test 2

The CEO of Daimler, Dieter Zetsche, has his eyes set on a massive marketing campaign for the FIFA World Cup this year. When the German soccer team takes to the field their attire is typically plastered with all sorts of Daimler ads, and this year should look to be no different. Except that Zetsche has emphasized the fact that he is not only trying to bring more consumer awareness to the thriving Mercedes brand, but he is also wagering his stakes on the German soccer team winning the event—something that they have not done since 1990.

Daimler’s campaign will include the traditional fanfare of advertising that is commonly prevalent at soccer tournaments and major sport events. According to a report by Auto News, Daimler's spokesperson, David Biebricher, concludes that, “Daimler's 2010 campaign involves traditional advertisements as well as online, print, and television media cooperation agreements.”

Damiler feels the need after the recent flop at the Formula One races. Damiler sponsors a car, and driver Michael Schumacher—who the company signed to help boost consumer awareness—is not doing well enough to provide the expected (or, at least, hoped for) jump in sales. He is in ninth place after completing seven Formula One races this year. So the car company is casting its eyes towards the World Cup this year as a method of rebounding their sales, and perhaps building more awareness of their brand to other countries, like South Africa—where the major soccer tourney is being hosted this year.

The company plans to offer some pretty sweet incentives to get drivers into a new Mercedes, as well, according to the report by Auto News. “A special leasing offer pays Mercedes' customers as much as 319 euros if Germany wins the World Cup title at the July 11 final in Johannesburg. The country's odds of winning are 14-1, according to betting company William Hill Plc. Spain and Brazil, both with 4-1 odds, are the co-favorites. Mercedes is also offering zero-percent financing under the “dream selection” program, which includes the compact A- and B- class models, as well as the GLK SUV. The SLK discounts are for a package of options including larger wheels and black leather seats with red stitching.”

Many Germans see the pairing of the carmaker and their World Cup advertising as an emotional relationship and a bond that exists between Daimler and the German football team. In an interview with Auto News, Thomas Rosier, a managing director of dealer Autohaus Rosier GmbH, stated, “The promotion is very sympathetic and the partnership between Mercedes and the Germany's premium football team fits together very well.”

Will Elon Musk's Financial Problems Prevent Tesla from Going Public?

On: Mon, Jun 7, 2010 at 2:45PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Will Elon Musk's Financial Problems Prevent Tesla from Going Public? test 1-1

Elon Musk, founder of Tesla Motors, is reportedly broke. According to a recent court filing in connection with his divorce case, Musk ran out of cash last year and has been living off of personal loans borrowed from friends since October of last year—even though he is spending $200,000 per month and bringing in $8,255 in monthly personal income. The question is: will the divorce between Elon and his estranged wife interfere with Tesla's plans to go public in the near future?

"About four months ago, I ran out of cash," Musk wrote in a court filing with the Superior Court of Los Angeles on Feb. 23, released by VentureBeat.com on Friday. "I had to obtain emergency loans from personal friends. These loans are the exclusive source of cash I have. If I did not take these loans, I would have no liquid assets left."

In addition Musk had this to say about a $1 million loan he made to Tesla; "I did not and could not actually receive this money from Tesla," he wrote. "It was converted to equity. This will cause me to pay taxes even though I didn't receive actual cash income, further straining my cash resources."

The Tesla Motor Company is not in much better financial shape than its founder; the company has been operating on a $465 million loan from the Department of Energy and it shows a $30 million loss for the first quarter.

 In a recent filing with U.S. securities regulators, the new California start-up company attempted to separate itself from the much publicized divorce between Elon and his wife. In the Securities and Exchange Commission filing, the company was quoted as saying; “We do not believe that Mr. Musk’s personal financial situation has any impact on us,” seeing that the company does not plan to have to rely on Musk’s finances again in the foreseeable future.

The concern is that if Musk’s estranged wife is awarded too much of the company’s stock (she is seeking 10%) in the divorce it could impact Tesla’s capability to retaining the U.S. DoE funds (totaling $465 million).

The solution is obviously for the company to go public, but that doesn’t happen instantly and in the meantime Tesla has committed to paying $42 million to purchase the NUMMI plant in Freemont so they can partner up with Toyota to build electric cars. Toyota has agreed to pay Tesla $50 million but notuntil it completes an initial public offering.

Ganassi/BMW Dominates Sahlens 6 Hours

On: Mon, Jun 7, 2010 at 1:09PM | By: John Welch

Ganassi/BMW Dominates Sahlens 6 Hours test 1-1

Though we are in the midst of six straight weeks of televised Grand Am, this past weekend's Sahlens 6 Hours of the Glen puts a cap on the busiest week of the season. On Monday the teams practiced, qualified, and then raced at Lime Rock, Connecticut. Four days later they did the same at Watkins Glen New York, only this race was six hours long. Brutal.

The Telmex/Ganassi team ran afoul of the Gainsco Chevrolet on the first lap at Lime Rock. Front bodywork smashed to pieces, they were forced to park the car and watch the Lime Rock race from the pits. That incident lit the proverbial fire under the Tlmex team's collective asses, and they returned this weekend ready to conquer all comers at the Sahlens 6 Hours.

Conquer they did; Scott Pruett turned a blistering lap in qualifying, giving the Ganassi BMW the pole by a full second over the Gainsco car. The race played out in about the same fashion; the No. 01 TELMEX BMW Riley scoring its third consecutive victory in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen. The Ganassi team's biggest rival throughout the race was the No. 99 GAINSCO Chevrolet Riley of Jon Fogarty, Alex Gurney, and four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson. The two teams combined to lead 179 laps. Gurney was gaining on the Bimmer from third position, but spun out his Chevrolet with 15 minutes remaining, resulting in a sixth-place finish. "This was probably the best the GAINSCO Auto Insurance car ever has been at Watkins Glen," said Fogarty, who drove the opening three hours, seven minutes of the race before turning the car over to Johnson. The reigning NASCAR champion ran second behind Rojas for his entire hour behind the wheel.

Detroit Gets New Plant for Making Jeep Suspensions

On: Mon, Jun 7, 2010 at 9:49AM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

Jeep Grand Cherokee test 2

Hyundai Mobis has announced that they are taking over a parts manufacturing plant in Detroit to build suspensions for the very popular car line of Jeep Grand Cherokees, which are assembled currently at the Chrysler Group’s Jefferson North assembly plant. The plant will be manufacturing the front and the rear suspensions and modules for all new Grand Cherokees that will be made in the US over the years to come. The UAW (United Auto Workers Union) executive vice president, Bob King, is simply ecstatic about more jobs coming back to a city that has been plagued by the shuttering of plants since the Big Three automaker fallout and car buying recession began a few years back.

He was quoted in a recent interview in Auto News, stating, “When you do it in an urban environment, we really appreciate that social commitment.” By urban environment, King is truly emphasizing that this will put some life back into the city which currently sprawls with empty auto plants that used to crank out thousands of cars per day. But after the calamity of the auto recession struck, it has been nearly turned into a car-making ghost town.

According to the report by Auto News, “The factory, which received $23 million in new investment, will add a second shift in July, Joon-hyung Lee, COO in charge of Hyundai Mobis’ global business division, said during ceremonies at the plant.”

Hyundai Mobis, the Korean supplier of the parts that will be used to make these suspension modules, has recently taken over the plant. This was after the departure of ArvinMeritor Inc.; the company has ceased production of lightweight vehicles and no longer requires the use of the plant for producing parts. This takeover is expected to start immediately—as Hyundai Mobis plans on adding shifts and hiring new employees starting in July of this year.

The company has no looming financial woes either, and this is great news for Detroit—a city that was once the auto-making capital of the US and the world.

The report by Auto News really shows the real numbers on how large the part maker is: “Hyundai Mobis ranks No. 20 on the Automotive News list of the top 150 suppliers to North America with parts sales to automakers in North America of an estimated $1.44 billion in fiscal 2009.”

Toyota Sales Gaining in Japan

On: Mon, Jun 7, 2010 at 9:42AM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

Toyota Back on Track test 2

Despite being the subject of much scrutiny as of late, the largest automaker in the world, Toyota, is on the rebound. Things are actually looking up for this carmaker. In fact, a recent report published on Bloomberg shows that sales in Japan are way up for Toyota, and that they have substantially increased their annual production of cars and exports. Not only that, but their future is looking bright and shiny, too. This is because Toyota has risen to the challenge of what is, perhaps, the most horrendous PR nightmare any company could ever endure (with regards to the millions of recalled parts, as well as the faulty acceleration issues, and being lambasted by the US Congress). Even after many people wrote them off, and even after sales plummeted with the fall of their image, Toyota is back in the driver's seat! And there is a good reason why they are the largest maker of cars—because their annual production and sales easily demonstrate this fact.

According to a recent report published on Bloomberg, “Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s largest carmaker, led a sixth straight monthly increase in vehicle production in Japan as a global recovery spurred exports. Output at the country’s 12 vehicle makers in April rose 51 percent from a year earlier to 731,794 units, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said in a statement today. Exports surged 90 percent.”

But the buck does not stop there. No way, Jose! The carmaker has also drastically increased the production of its car lines immensely. After the PR escapade that nearly busted the company over this past year, they had drawn back on production of new cars, and the output.  That was because they needed to focus on revamping their image, and really assuring people that buying a Toyota was a wise decision. Despite the calamity that the car company endured, they did indeed make it through the trials and tribulations, and have come out on top in the end!

Chrysler And BHP Catch The Recall Bug

On: Fri, Jun 4, 2010 at 4:26PM | By: John Welch

CanAm Spyder Roadster test 2

Owners of model year 2007 Dodge Calibers and Jeep Compi (the Compass, for those who don't subscribe to "computermouse/Lexus" humor) are being asked to bring their cars back to the dealer for gas-pedal maintenance. To be clear: there are NO reports of crashes or injuries associated with this pedal gremlin, and both Chrysler and the NHTSA have been investigating this issue for the last month. This recall is being ordered by Chrysler and is intended to prevent any possible misshaps.

Can-Am's remarkable Spyder Roadster is also being hit with a recall today, for issues regarding the Roadster's semi-automatic clutch assembly. The full NHTSA report for both manufacturers inside das post . . .

Two Races In Four Days: Grand (Am) Insanity

On: Fri, Jun 4, 2010 at 3:38PM | By: John Welch

Two Races In Four Days: Grand (Am) Insanity test 1-1

Last week, the race was at Lime Rock, this week Watkins Glen. Using the word "week" to describe Grand-Am's recent schedule is a wee bit excessive. The Lime Rock portion of this cavalcade of road racing madness took place last Monday, Memorial Day. While the rest of us ate pork and drank Schlitz, Rolex Sports Car teams were dueling each other on a new (to Grand-Am) circuit. Afterwards, while we were faking sleep on the couch to avoid dishes, these teams were driving 18-wheelers filled with racecars and race paraphernalia north, to Watkins Glen New York. Where, after just four short days, they will unload and begin terrorizing the Catskills countryside with the sounds and tremors of 40 angry, dinosaur-fueled sports cars. Almost makes a person forget about that whole "oil spill" thingee. Almost.

Though domination by the Ganassi BMWs was every knowledgeable know-nothing's prediction (yours truly included) the blue and white Riley was crippled two laps into the race—the outcome of a scuffle with the championship-contending No. 99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Chevrolet. This incident left the door open for the SunTrust/Wayne Taylor Racing team, who were starting the race from the pole position. Max Angelli drove a smooth race and brought the SunTrust Dallara its first victory of the season.

A video review of Lime Rock and a preview of the Sahlens 6 Hours at the Glen inside the post . . .