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Throughout The Car Industry
Your humble author spent most of the past week at the 2011 New York International Auto Show, and here's a look back at the proceedings.
The biggest buzz surrounded the Scion FR-S Concept. This front-engine, rear-drive sports coupe will likely reach production, although specs are sparse. Toyota did reveal that there will be a 2.0-liter horizontally-opposed "boxer" engine and six-speed manual and automatic transmissions. The FR-S drew raves both for its looks and for the fact that Toyota is taking a chance on a sporty car (even if it might be branded a Scion).
Tags: 2011 New York Auto Show, nyas, nyias, Concept Cars, debuts, Automakers, Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Toyota, Lexus, Jeep
Toyota has already stopped producing the 2ZZ-GE engine that Lotus uses to power the Exige and Elise. Though Lotus has a stockpile of the engines, supplies are winding down fast, meaning the end of the current-generation Elise and Exige are drawing near. Before all those 2ZZ-GEs run out this July, Lotus will offer three limited production, 'Final Edition' versions for the North American market.
The Exige Final Edition 260 will get a boost in output from 240 hp to 260 hp thanks to supercharging and intercooling of Toyota's 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. The model will get some extra equipment standard, including leather-trimmed sport seats courtesy of the Touring Package, and double-adjustable Ohlins dampers as part of the Track Package. Other upgrades include Torsen limited-slip differential and black, Y-type, five-spoke wheels. 30 models will be built, with pricing starting at $67,500.
Posted In: Car News, Special / Limited Edition, Exotics
Tags: Lotus, special edition, final edition, Elise, Exige
The New York Auto Show is officially underway and Scion has made one of the more interesting debuts of the week. It's called the FR-S and it's basically a Toyota FT-86 sports coupe with a few Scion badges on it. But it's also a little more than that, with its own unique styling elements.
The first thing I noticed when looking at the FR-S is that the front-end has straight lines along the sides rather than the curved ones that were on the Toyota FT-86 II that debuted last month. The LEDs that adorned the FT-86 have also been eliminated in Scion's version of the coupe to make room for air inlets. The car also has some pretty defined fenders, side skirts, and streamlined side mirrors.
Posted In: Auto Shows, Concept Cars
Tags: Scion, Toyota, FT-86, FR-S, sports cars, 2011 New York Auto Show
Suzuki has launched two new concepts based on its Kizashi sedan at the 2011 New York Auto Show. As was rumored, the first concept is a gas-electric hybrid version of the Kizashi. The second is a suped-up, motorcycle-inspired Kizashi fittingly named "Apex."
The EcoCharge Concept is powered by a combination of 2.0-liter I-4 engine and small, 20-hp electric motor. The motor derives its power from a lithium-ion pack. The car puts out 144-hp and 127 lb-ft while delivering a 25 percent boost in highway fuel economy. Other technologies like start-stop and regenerative braking maximize the EcoCharge's efficiency.
Posted In: Auto Shows, Concept Cars
Tags: Suzuki, Kizashi, concepts, hybrids, 2011 New York Auto Show, Apex, EcoCharge
The Nissan Leaf has gotten off to quite a sluggish start since hitting the market late last year. Nissan has sold only about 500 Leafs through March in the United States, and despite easily meeting its goal of 20,000 reservations last year, Nissan has found actual sales more difficult to fulfill, with roughly 40 percent of reservees moving forward with purchase.
Nissan indicated this week that it doesn't plan to sit idly by and let the story change from "world's first mass-produced electric vehicle" to "limited-range electric that no one wants to buy." The company plans to ramp up distribution and sales throughout the rest of 2011.
Posted In: Auto Shows, Car News, Hybrid / Green, Reports
Tags: Nissan, Leaf, EV, electric vehicles, production, sales, 2011 New York Auto Show
It's somewhat surprising that Jeep debuted the special edition Wrangler Mojave in New York this week. After all, a special-edition Wrangler named and inspired by the desert is probably more of a vehicle for the dirt, rock, and sand of the desert—say in Moab, where the Easter Jeep Safari is going on now. It certainly isn't the ideal vehicle for operating the traffic-clogged arteries of Manhattan. But, Jeep still chose to debut it there rather than in Utah. The special edition Wrangler gets both styling and hardware updates.
Posted In: Auto Shows, Special / Limited Edition
Tags: Jeep, Wrangler, special editions, Mojave, special edition Wrangler, Easter Jeep Safari, New York Auto Show
Fortunately for everyone involved, these Maseratis aren't actually on fire. But there was a time, not all that long ago, that Maser's products were akin to leaky propane stoves near a live fallen power line, just waiting for the fickle hand of fate to light 'em up like flash paper (Biturbos, I'm talking about you).
These days it seems—Ferrari’s self-immolating 456 Italia not withstanding—that quality is on the upswing across (most of) Fiat’s brands, including Maserati, Ferrari, and the soon-to-reach-our-shores-for-better-or-worse Alfa Romeo, and Fiat itself (though I never thought I’d use “Fiat” and “quality” in the same sentence without it being weighed down by loads of typewritten snickering).
Anyhoo, for those of you who hadn’t noticed, Maserati has built itself quite a range of models here in the U.S. of A, most of which start with “Gran,” just like you do when tactfully explaining to your mom’s mom why you won’t wear the Christmas-themed cable-knit pullover she made for you that’s three sizes too large and has sleeves of differing lengths.
Posted In: Auto Shows, Car News, Special / Limited Edition
Tags: Maserati, GranTourismo, Convertible Sport, New York Auto Show,
Veyron. Enzo. Few two-syllable words bear greater weight in the automotive world than those two. So it's quite intriguing to hear that the former has influenced the latter. According to an Autocar report, Ferrari has drawn influence from the Bugatti Veyron in developing its next-generation Enzo flagship.
We got word of the Enzo revival during a Fiat presentation last year. Fiat outlined the next several years in Maranello, and among the planned new models sat the most beautiful of all—the Enzo, which is scheduled for a 2012/2013 debut.
Posted In: Car News, Reports, Rumors, Exotics
Tags: Ferrari, Enzo, Bugatti, Veyron, supercars, sports cars, Next-Gen Ferrari Enzo
While Land Rover has been watering itself down a little of late with offerings like the Evoque three- and five-doors, it still plans to live up to its rough-and-ready image in the future. In fact, the company plans to have products in the three SUV segments: luxury, leisure, and utility.
At the helm of the utility segment will be a new version of the company's Defender, its most hardcore, off-road-ready offering. Land Rover has begun work on a variety of body styles and intends to introduce the first of the new series within two to three years.
Posted In: Car News, Reports
Tags: Land Rover, SUVs, Defender, reports, new cars, Evoque three, Evoque five-doors, Tata
This won’t earn me any fans at Chevy, but the upcoming 2012 Camaro ZL1 is a wussy. Though they call it everything from the “highest-performing Camaro and the most technically advanced car ever developed in its class” to the “fastest Camaro ever offered by Chevrolet,” it still isn’t stout enough in my mind to wear what is arguably the Camaro’s most hallowed performance badge.
The important bit in all of Chevy’s PR frippery is the one that reads “by Chevrolet,” as the ne plus ultra classic Camaro, the 1969 ZL1, wasn’t technically a Chevy. Sure, it was a Chevy Camaro with a Chevy all-aluminum racing 427 cu.-in. V8 (codename: ZL1), but if it was produced today GM would demand that dealers like Fred Gibb—who ordered the first 50 original ZL1 Camaros—remove all Chevy emblems because the General doesn’t need the headaches that would follow on the heels of unleashing a tactical nuclear weapon on wheels like the ZL1.
Or so you’d think.
Posted In: Aftermarket, Special / Limited Edition
Tags: Chevy, Camaro, 2012 Camaro ZL1, 2011 SLP Camaro ZL1, Muscle car, Performance enthusiast, cars
Last week, survey results from research firm TNS demonstrated how public views on certain brands affected (or not affected but thought to be affected) by the natural disasters in Japan were leading consumers away from Japanese brands like Toyota and Honda. Consumers were wary of parts shortages and worried that prices would rise too much when compared with vehicles not so directly affected.
Well, of course, such ruminations are bound to extend beyond brands; people buy models, not brands, after all. According to some market research by Edmunds, consumers are starting to look away from the Toyota Prius, even as gas prices rise to historic levels.
Posted In: Car News, Reports
Tags: Toyota, Prius, sales, production, earthquake, gas prices, Japan