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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry



Categories: Reports

Toyota Buys Into Tesla Motors

On: Sun, May 23, 2010 at 10:10AM | By: John Welch


Toyota Buys Into Tesla Motors test 1-1

Akio Toyoda is determined to erase Toyota's staid, Big Brotherish reputation. First mandating more passion be injected into Toyota's marginally boring line-up, now he is doing his best to instill a entrepreneurial spirit into Toyota's corporate philosophy. By dropping $50 million into Tesla Motors, Toyoda has found a use for the dormant NUMMI plant, as well as provided his company with some much needed positive motivation.

“I’ve felt an infinite possibility about Tesla’s technology,” said Toyoda, chief executive officer of Toyota, founded by his grandfather. “By partnering with Tesla, my hope is that all Toyota employees will recall that ‘venture business’ spirit.”

For Tesla, this is the second $50 million investment received in as many years. Diamler bought into Tesla in 2009, though they have reduced their stake since. The Toyota-Tesla partnership doesn’t impede Daimler’s cooperation with the California automaker, said Brigitte Bertram, a Daimler spokeswoman. Tesla is supplying Diamler with battery packs for a test fleet of electric Smart minicars.

The most important news here is the revival of the NUMMI plant in California, a joint venture between Toyota and GM for nearly 25 years. NUMMI produced the Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe twins most recently, but fell on hard times after 2008. The death of Pontiac and Toyota's moving Matrix production to Japan left NUMMI with little to do. First GM, then Toyota pulled out of the plant, leaving all of its 4,700 employees looking for work.

Though not rehiring that much man power right away, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, has a comprehensive plan for providing as many jobs as possible. Tesla has hired back about 90 former NUMMI workers and expects to add about 50 a month, Musk said. The plant’s restart “is welcome news for the state’s economy and workers after the closing of this highly productive plant,” UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said in a statement.

Toyota plans to use Tesla's technology to produce short-range plug-in Hybrids, similar to the Chevrolet Volt. The first plug-in Prius should turn a wheel in the fall of 2012.


The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly: Six Hours In Monterey

On: Fri, May 21, 2010 at 3:51PM | By: John Welch


The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly: Six Hours In Monterey test 1-1

We haven't enjoyed an American Le Mans Series race since the weekend of April 18th, when the ALMS parade put on an excellent show in Long Beach. That race was won on a last lap pass, an astounding move by Simon Pagenuad in his formally LMP2 ARX-01c. Remember, the Le Mans Prototype classes have been combined this season. Performance equalizers have been put in place to ensure fierce, competitive racing between the powerful, heavy LMP1s and the nimble but less powerful LMP2s. The car Pagenaud dusted off for the win, Adrian Fernandez's Lola/Aston Martin, is powered by a 6 liter V12. Pagenaud's Acura sports a tiny, wheezing HPD (Honda Performance Development) V8. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand the advantage the Aston might have over the Acura. This sort of competitive parity is found only in the ALMS (the European Le Mans Series still separates LMP1 and 2) and it makes for some fantastic finishes.

As far as the points battles are concerned, 2010 is a stellar year for fans of razor-thin margins. Two, I repeat, TWO of the four classes are tied at the top, and these classes just happen to be the two top classes—LMP and GT. In LMP there are eight teams within ten points of each other. The ALMS proves time and time again that its formula for parity is unrivaled in top-level motorsports the world over.

There are no European teams competeing in the Monterey Grand Prix this weekend, which is a significant disappointment. That means the Audi drought continues and no oil-buring French-Lions. For the first time this season there will be no Prodrive/Gulf/Lola/Aston-Martin prototype to lust after. I think the embassment of being defeated by an inferior marque/car may have put the gorgeous AMR Lola back in Europe for good. I sure hope not; that thing is baby-blue candy-coated sex on wheels and it would hurt me deeply if I was never given the opportunity to hear its twelve-cylinder siren song again . . .

Stupid CBS and your stupid delayed programming. The Monterey Grand Prix takes place this weekend, but will not be seen on television until May 29th. Let's be honest, if this is the only "Ugly" thing I can find to gripe about then the ALMS must really kick ass. Seriously, the ALMS absolutely flattens ass and then rearranges ass's molecules. Throws ass in the dryer right after wringing ass's neck. Beats ass with ass's own sister. Tases ass while curb stomping ass. You get the picture. The American Le Mans Series is pretty sweet.


Chrysler Pays $1.9 billion on Federal Debt

On: Fri, May 21, 2010 at 2:08PM | By: Sherry Christiansen


Chrysler Pays $1.9 billion on Federal Debt test 1-1

In 2009, the Chrysler Corporation got in line for federal funding that would serve to bail the company out financially after the recession hit the auto industry, which resulted in tremendous losses to automakers. A loan was offered to Chrysler for $4 billion, but the company went into default shortly before filing bankruptcy.

Recently Chrysler paid back another $1.9 billion to the United States Department of Treasury toward the debt that was incurred to support Chrysler’s financial services arm of the corporation. The United States Treasury reports that of the $14.3 billion in loans to Chrysler, it has received $3.9 billion in re-payment.


Toyota Bomb Hoax: Was It Real?

On: Fri, May 21, 2010 at 9:19AM | By: Sherry Christiansen


Toyota's facility located in Princeton Indiana test 2

If you have been reading recent automotive news, you may be confused about exactly what Toyota's new "crisis" is. Rumors about bomb threats and closing down Toyota plants across the country are all over the internet, but what really happened? Did Toyota get threatened by a mentally unbalanced consumer who couldn't take the thought of having to getting another Toyota model serviced for recalls? Well, apparently not…

The perceived “crisis” for Toyota was discovered recently when, according to the Associated Press, Toyota "received four fake bombs through the mail since Friday. The first suspicious package arrived at Toyota America’s headquarters in Erlanger, Kentucky on Friday, followed by similar packages delivered to the company’s West Virginia and Texas production facilities on Monday. The latest package was addressed to Toyota’s Princeton, Indiana plant, but was discovered before it left the local post office. The post office was evacuated, but a bomb expert later found the package to be a fake.”


 

Recall Fever: Lexus, Volvo, And Nissan

On: Thu, May 20, 2010 at 1:21PM | By: John Welch


2010 Nissan Altima test 2

Criminals Beware: 2011 Ford Police Interceptor is a High-Tech Crime-Stopper!

On: Thu, May 20, 2010 at 11:55AM | By: Michael Jon Lazar


2011 Ford Police Interceptor test 2

Police nationwide are offering their salvos to the Dearborn automaker, Ford Motor Corporation, for their newest line of criminal defender vehicles that is already in production for police stations, substations, and facilities nationwide: The 2011 Ford Police Interceptor. There have been some vast improvements made upon this car, even from their last line, the 10’ receptor, and then some! Even better: the newer model ditches the ugly old Crown Victoria model—which is curvy and outdated’and replaces it with a flashier and much more aesthetically pleasing Taurus sedan. But don’t get anything wrong: this is not your average Ford Taurus. Far from it, in fact! 


GM Starting to Show a Profit for First Time in Three Years

On: Thu, May 20, 2010 at 9:50AM | By: Michael Jon Lazar


GM test 2

I am sure that most of you can recall a few years back—during what were perhaps some of the most tumultuous times for our US economy—when the Big Three (well, Chrysler and GM . . . not so much Ford) automakers went belly up. There was a rash of emergency meetings down in Washington, where the bigwigs from the major automakers plead their case for bailout funds to US Congress. They basically were asking for billions of US dollars in aid, from taxpayers and bonds, and some other methods of funding, like short term loans from the government. Many people saw this ‘auto bailout’ as tantamount to the housing market collapse, in the sense that there was much bickering back and forth as to whether we should have  bailed out the automakers, like General Motors, as we did.

But as it turns out, sometimes foresight is worth a few billion dollars or so. According to some recent news reports that have been surfacing and flying all over the web, GM is indeed once again a profitable entity. This has not been an easy task for the once gigantic automaker. They had to negotiate with unions. They had to close down numerous plants. They had to entirely readjust their budget. They had to eliminate some models. And the best part of all: they did these things and are making money again. GM looks to be in the driver seat to get us taxpayers finally paid off over the years to come. Hooray!


Americans Impress At Nurburing 24

On: Wed, May 19, 2010 at 1:51PM | By: John Welch


Farnbacher Ferrari F430 test 2

Too bad we don't have any serious endurance races here in America. Shyeah, Sebring is a rough track, and the race is 12 hours. Right, Petit Le Mans is a thousand kilometers and takes place near crummy 'ole Atlanta, but that really isn't that bad either. There are plenty of amateur 24-hour events, but the Daytona 24 is the only true 'round the clock race . . . even it is contained inside the cushy confines of Daytona International Speedway. Which translates to: almost zero elevation change . . .

No, by "serious endurance race" I mean 24 hours, hundreds of feet of elevation change, 220 participants and thousands of ess-faced Germans trying to scrawl dirty limericks on the actual racing surface with sidewalk chalk . . . while people are racing! And did I mention that this racing surface is nearly 16 miles in length? The Nordschilfe makes Sebring, at a little more then 4 and a half miles, almost seem small! That is the reputation that comes with being the mightiest race track in the world; The Nurburing Nordschilfe.

The annual ADAC Nurburing 24 was held last weekend, and the over-all victory went to a factory BMW very similar to the Rahal/Letterman M3 GT2s campaigned in the American Le Mans Series. More interesting to us, as Americans, are the Grand-Am regulars who scored class victories at the storied event. Leh Keen, driver of the No. 41 Team Seattle/Global Diving/Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8 GT in the Grand-Am Series was able to capture first in the SP7 class. His No. 43 Hankook Ferrari F430 GT was the only car able to mount a challenge against the race-winning BMW towards the close end of the event. Shane Lewis, a common sight at Grand-Am races, was able to bring his No. 70 Gotz Motorsport Audi RS4 to the flag, first in the SP 8T class for big-bore touring cars.


BMW Pushes for More Built-To-Order Vehicles

On: Wed, May 19, 2010 at 1:08PM | By: Sherry Christiansen


BMW Pushes for More Built-To-Order Vehicles test 1-1

BMW is working hard to overcome America’s instant gratification tendencies by encouraging buyers to purchase more built-to-order vehicles, saying that it is “worth the wait,"  BMW reports that consumers get higher satisfaction in the buyinbg process when they get to select  the exact features they want in a new custom ordered BMW.

Built-to-order vehicles help manufactures reduce their abundance of costly inventory, but they are not that popular in the U.S., Toyota states that Lexus sells only 2% of its total monthly inventory on pre-built custom orders.  But in Germany however, 50% of all the BMWs sold are customized with features such as moon roofs and iPod adaptors, interior and exterior custom colors and more.  According to Edmunds.com CEO, Jeremy Anwyl, “ordering has not been part of the car buying process in the U.S.” consumers are used to going into a dealership and driving away with a car. We tend to be very impulsive."


How to Avoid Buying a Lemon - Three Easy Tips!

On: Wed, May 19, 2010 at 10:49AM | By: Michael Jon Lazar


Avoid Buying A Lemon! test 2

There are many common used auto pitfalls that many consumers can easily overlook when they are in the process of seeking to purchase a used car. It does not really matter whether you are seeking to get your hands on used cars from a used car dealership, or you have your eyes set on private purchase: lemon cars do exist and there are some easy ways that you can go about assuring that you never purchase one.

First and foremost, what is the definition of a car that is deemed be a lemon?

According to Carlemon.com, “A vehicle that continues to have a defect that substantially impairs its use, value, or safety. Generally, if the car has been repaired 4 or more times for the same Defect within the Warranty Period and the Defect has not been fixed, the car qualifies as a Lemon. All States differ so you should consult the Lemon Law Summary and the State Statutes for your particular State. Note that the warranty period may or may not coincide with the Manufacturer's Warranty.”


Zipcar Is Zipping It's Way All Over Europe

On: Mon, May 17, 2010 at 3:08PM | By: Michael Jon Lazar


Zipcar test 2

Perhaps one of the most innovative notions that has ever reached the auto rental loving and using masses—perhaps most people are not fond of renting cars because they are paying and they are not driving their own cars—Zipcar is growing exponentially, according to some breaking news reports that show some shocking numbers, as far as expansion and a surprise company merger between the Euro equivalent—or what was up until recently—Streetcar. But this is really no surprise, because there are many desirable features this car rental service has to offer to people, universities, as well as businesses too.

Rates and Plans

The summary of what the company’s service model embodies is rather simple at heart, according to their website, and very innovative when you think about it. Once you sign up and are approved for using a Zipcar—which you can do at their website online at www.zipcar.com—you can then use the website to locate cars that are parked and are for rent in areas near to you. Many places have special Zipcar parking for drivers to park the cars when they are done using them, and for other drivers to pick up and use later on, as opposed to returning them to a specified car rental lot. Anybody who has a Zip card can unlock and drive the car. The company automatically bills the costs of the miles you drove (which for most of their plans include up to 180 miles per day; but you can up that online by adding more miles to your plan). The cars also have a free fuel card in them that you can use to fill up at any gas station, as well. And as far as insurance goes, you are covered with their insurance by being a member, so no worries there.

When looking at their website for what Zipcar poignantly called “Seattle personal driving plans”, there two options offered: “occasional driving plan,” and, “extra value plan”. The real difference between them is pennies saved for drivers who use the plans more often. The usage of either plan requires a $25 US application fee, as well as a $50 US annual fee, which does not vary for either plans. However, some drivers who use Zipcar or Streetcar often can save a few bucks by opting to go with their Extra Value Plans; similar rates are in effect in Europe, just priced out in Euros.