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Honda Committed To EV Technology

On: Fri, Nov 5, 2010 at 10:54AM | By: Chris Weiss

2011 Honda Jazz (Fit) Hybrid test 2

Over the past year, Honda has been doing a slow U-turn in terms of developing and committing to electric vehicles. Plug-ins were considered a waste of resources by previous CEO Takeo Fukui, but CEO Takanobu Ito, who took over last summer, seems to view them a little less skeptically. Last week, Honda announced a new electric vehicle concept that will debut at the LA Auto Show, and Ito said of the future of EVs and Honda: "...we have been researching [batteries] all along. Since I became president, that was accelerated quite a bit." Ito recently provided some further insight into Honda's EV plans in a discussion with Reuters.

Panasonic Partners with Tesla For Battery Development Project

On: Fri, Nov 5, 2010 at 10:26AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Panasonic Partners with Tesla For Battery Development Project test 1-1

Tesla Motors is preparing to partner with the Japanese technology giant Panasonic. Automotive News stated yesterday that Panasonic, which is already working with Tesla to provide lithium-ion cells for the Model S, is planning to invest in the California automaker. Citing the Nikkei business daily, Reuters reported that Panasonic "aims to work with Tesla to develop battery systems for next-generation EVs."

Toyota Drops the Ultimate Swagger Wagon at SEMA

On: Fri, Nov 5, 2010 at 10:19AM | By: Chris Weiss

Toyota Drops the Ultimate Swagger Wagon at SEMA  test 1-1

Toyota has been striving to bring back one of the most mocked cliches of the late 20th century: the minivan. Like it or not (not), we're all too familiar with the rhyme-spitting, image-obsessed Sienna family of Swagger Wagon fame. Toyota's family of four has been trying to make its Sienna minivan cool for a while now.

This week, Toyota pulled out some bigger tricks in its mission to give some street cred to the Sienna mini. They basically threw out the "mini," exaggerated the utility of the minivan beyond belief and destroyed any practicality that this particular mode of transportation has. What is left is known as the Swagger Wagon Supreme.

Audi To Offer Robotic Engine Note in Its EVs

On: Fri, Nov 5, 2010 at 10:13AM | By: Chris Weiss

Audi To Offer Robotic Engine Note in Its EVs  test 1-1

Range anxiety isn't the only big issue facing electric vehicle manufacturers. About a year ago, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration released study findings showing that crashes involving pedestrians and cyclists occurred more frequently among hybrid drivers than among gas-powered drivers. While the NHTSA didn't get involved in analyzing the reasons behind the discrepancy, the quiet, "silent killer" nature of the hybrid (and electric vehicle) has been a concern among road safety organizations, organizations for the blind and vehicle manufacturers. Companies like GM, Toyota and Nissan have worked on artificial systems designed to mimic the sound of a gas car and warn pedestrians of approaching vehicles.

For its own future electric vehicles, Audi has decided to take a different route. Instead of a faux engine grumble, the company is borrowing some inspiration from Hollywood.


Cheverolet Accounts for 68% of GM's Third Quarter Profit Gain

On: Fri, Nov 5, 2010 at 10:09AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Cheverolet Accounts for 68% of GM's Third Quarter Profit Gain test 1-1

In October, GM posted sales of 183,392 units, 13% more than it did in October of last year. Chevrolet sales increased 7%, Buick increased 39%, GMC increased 30%, and Cadillac increased 15%. The majority of the inflated sales numbers were accounted for by crossover and full-sized pickup sales. In fact, over 47,000 of the total vehicles sold were Sierras and Chevrolet Silverado pickup trucks. GM sold 5048 units of the newly launched Chevrolet Cruze. GM picked up 2% of the total market share and Chevy sales made up 68% of the total.

GM Products Prominent At SEMA, Pt. 1

On: Thu, Nov 4, 2010 at 4:18PM | By: John Welch

Chevrolet Corvette Jake Edition test 2

General Motors is on a rebound, of sorts, and the proof is in the SEMA pudding. Besides aftermarket tuners going absolutely bat-ess on the ubiquitous Camaro, GM itself offered up a few (more like a "bunch") of performance enhanced Chevrolets, covering every aspect of the market from tacked-on appearance upgrades to full-bore track mods designed to transform the Camaro and Corvette into asphalt devouring track beasts ala the Dodge Viper ACR-X. The General's front drive line up wasn't left out of the fun; GM introduced its new Z-Line series of visual and aerodynamic enhancements for the Volt, Cruze, and Spark commuter boxes.

The aftermarket spit out more than a couple modified GM vehicles, but by far the most intriguing came from our friends over at Hurst Performance. Allow me to pontificate for a moment regarding the base engines offered in modern "Muscle Cars". The key word is "modern" here. Though a V8-powered Camaro or Mustang is physically faster, in a straight line, than its V6-powered counterpart, when the going gets twisty the dynamic responses of the smaller-engined cars are superior. Even with cheaper/smaller/less grippy rolling stock. The designers of these machines are able to position the V6 engines with more freedom than the V8s, because of their smaller size and mass. A V6 can be crammed right up against the firewall of a car, keeping as much of the weight of the engine behind the shock towers as is mechanically possible. This translates to better weight distribution, which in turn translates to better handling.

What if the power output of these V6s were to match or exceed that of the throaty V8s? Hurst asked themselves that question and then got to work. We will tell you all about it tomorrow. First, the General has some presents for you . . .

Automotive Industry Offers Great Incentives for Leasing

On: Thu, Nov 4, 2010 at 2:26PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Automotive Industry Offers Great Incentives for Leasing test 1-1

The U.S. auto market has posted low profits of new car sales for the past couple of years, but according to Automotive News.com, there is a "silver lining" in the weak new car market.  Fewer new cars being sold translates to lower numbers of used cars available on the market for the next 2 or 3 years. Lower used car inventory will enable automakers to promote leasing without concern for whether or not returned lease cars will flood the market in 2012 or 2013.

As a result, automotive leasing has been making a come back in the past few months. In fact, leasing has climbed to approximately 21% of U.S. sales through September 2010, compared to only about 16% for all of 2009, according to Emunds.com.

The New 2011 Ford F-150 Gets 23 MPG Highway

On: Thu, Nov 4, 2010 at 10:13AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

The New 2011 Ford F-150 Gets 23 MPG Highway test 1-1

Ford Motor Company has announced the upcoming launch of the most fuel-efficient full-size pickup truck on the market—the 2011 F-150, equipped with the all-new 3.7-liter V6 engine. Good economy is expected with a base V6, but what about some power? Try 302hp, 278 lb.-ft. of torque . . . from a base V6! It is projected to deliver best-in-class 23 mpg highway, pending EPA certification. Ford’s new Ford 2011 F-150 3.5-liter V6 engine and its new 5.0 V8 are projected to deliver best-in-class, provided EPA certification comes through.

Commercial To Concept: Kia Soul Hamstar

On: Thu, Nov 4, 2010 at 9:18AM | By: Chris Weiss

Commercial To Concept: Kia Soul Hamstar  test 1-1

Usually a new car begets a commercial, not the other way around. But in the case of a new Kia SEMA concept, the Korean automaker pulls inspiration from its commercials for a modified Soul. The Hamstar debuted this week in Las Vegas.

At this point everyone's seen at least one version of Kia's hamsters. Those cute little urbanized rodents that drive around in their Kia pumping bass like white suburban teenagers with a chip on their shoulder. Kia seems to have the right idea with those commercials: regardless of our views on the Soul, we certainly love hamsters more than the annoying Sienna family or "earnest" GM executives that appear in other automaker commercials.

Subaru Teases Concept For LA Auto Show

On: Wed, Nov 3, 2010 at 4:24PM | By: Chris Weiss

Subaru Teases Concept For LA Auto Show test 1-1

There are still a handful of concepts promised but not detailed by the LA Auto Show last month. This week, Subaru announced that one of those concepts will hail from its stables and will be used to demonstrate a new philosophy to appear across future vehicles. The concept appears to be a rather sporty, muscular coupe and is designed to exude "Confidence in Motion." That sounds to me like the type of meaningless auto babble that only makes sense to Subaru's marketing team and maybe a handful of engineers. I mean, what car isn't supposed to incorporate some type of "confidence in motion." Driving would be pretty scary if the manufacturer that made your car had no confidence in your motion . . .

Volkswagen Working On BlueSport Convertible For 2013 Debut

On: Wed, Nov 3, 2010 at 4:12PM | By: Chris Weiss

Volkswagen Working On BlueSport Convertible For 2013 Debut test 1-1

Like the Porsche Boxster, but don't quite have the money to justify a $50,000 roadster? Porsche's daddy Volkswagen is working on just what you crave. The BlueSport roadster was originally launched as a concept in 2009, and word is that the German automaker plans to debut the production version in 2013. Development is underway.

Debuted at the 2009 North American International Auto Show, the BlueSport bore some definite resemblance to the Boxster, but lost the overdone Porsche headlights in favor of a more angular pair similar to those seen on the Jetta, only sharper and more narrow. Smaller than the Boxster, the BlueSport measured in at 13 feet (the Boxster is over 14) with a 96-inch wheelbase.