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Auto Industry Posts Highest Sales Record in 13 Months for September

On: Tue, Oct 5, 2010 at 12:41PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Auto Industry Posts Highest Sales Record in 13 Months for September test 1-1

According to a recent automotive news article the auto industry is not yet ready to sing “ Happy Days are Here Again,” but September’s posted profits are the highest in 13 months—enough to get automakers, at the least, feeling optimistic.

Up 29% since last year, September’s numbers came in at 959,049 for sales of light vehicles, raising the annual rate to 12.2 million sales, according to automotive News Data Center. Last September marked the end of the Cash for Clunkers government incentive program, leaving dealerships depleted of supplies as a result of an inflated sales rate for August of 2009. September was the first month since 2008 that the sales rate was more than 12 million units for total automobiles sold in the United States— other than August of 2009 when the falsely inflated numbers of 13.7 million reflected the Cash for Clunkers program.

Jesse Toprak, automotive analyst for TrueCar.com, stated:  "It's a solid month, another step in a stable, somewhat painful recovery." Toprak also said; "This may be a healthier way to recover."

Ford Will Launch New Market Plan For Focus Similar To That Of The 2011 Fiesta

On: Mon, Oct 4, 2010 at 5:02PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ford Will Launch New Market Plan For Focus Similar To That Of The 2011 Fiesta  test 1-1
Ford has just announced its plans to launch a major marketing campaign for the Focus that will build on the lessons Ford learned when a similar promotion was advertised for the all new Fiesta. Ford’s plan includes finding 100 drivers from all over its worldwide market to test drive a Focus in Europe for 2 days in early 2011, about the time the vehicle will be launched in the United States.

Those fortunate enough to be able to take the European tour in a brand new Focus will agree to blog about their experience and post blogs, videos, and photos of the car on Facebook, according to Ford Motor Co. It’s a brilliant scheme to get the word out to younger buyers that Ford often refers to as “Millennials,” the segment of the population that makes up about 80 million people born between 1980 and 1995.”

A similar social media ad campaign was implemented prior to the unveiling of the Fiesta subcompact car that is, so far this year, a big hit for Ford. Ford choose several consumers who the company deemed to be “social media savvy” to drive the Fiesta for a few months and then convey their thoughts about the car on social media sites, including Facebook.

Ford’s spokesman Mark Schirmer stated: "Working with vibrant social media people was a lesson learned from the Fiesta Movement. It's about getting word of mouth."

Ford also plans to donate up to a half a million dollars to a variety of charities as part of the “Focus Global Test Drive” campaign.

ALMS Wrap Up Pt.1: Peugeot Plays Proud Protagonist, Audi Alarmed Antagonist

On: Mon, Oct 4, 2010 at 3:09PM | By: John Welch

ALMS Wrap Up Pt.1: Peugeot Plays Proud Protagonist, Audi Alarmed Antagonist test 1-1

So many crazy things happened before, during, and after the 2010 Petit Le Mans that one post just won't cut it. In the name of clarity and full coverage, let’s start with the Prototype categories.

As we should know by now, the American Le Mans Series generally acknowledges two prototype classes, LMP and LMPC. For longer endurance and ILMC-sanctioned events the LMP class is split into LMP1 and LMP2; LMP2 cars are light and average 550 bhp, LMP1 vehicles are heavier and have more power on tap. It really should be classified "The Diesels and everyone else" as the Audi and Peugeot diesels are nearly unstoppable, under the current rules.

So, for last Saturday's 10 Hour Enduro (or 1,000 kilometers, whichever comes first) in Braselton, Georgia, we had a shoot-out between the dominate diesel entries, another race-within-a-race between the ALMS LMP regulars, and a third contest for LMPC honors. Because of the rule changes between the ALMS and the ACO's Le Mans rule book, the LMP2 class was rendered inert—the real races were between the Audis and Peugeots, the LMP1 Lola of Intersport Racing, the Patron-Highcroft ARX-01c, the Drayson Lola, and the Cyto-Sport Porsche RS Spyder.

LMPC, a new for 2010 category featuring identical (at the start of the season) Courage FLM-09 prototypes, has been hard fought by the Green Earth Team Gunnar and Level 5 Motorsports teams. Going at it tooth and nail all season, these two teams have helped elevate LMPC far beyond its original expectations as a boring spec-class that will only slow down serious competitors in the LMP and GT classes. That hasn't been the case; besides offering extremely economical racing for the teams (a few entries have run the same Chevrolet LS3 crate engine all year) the class went into Petit with a tie in the points lead. Pretty exciting for a "field filler" classification.

More Volt News: Chevy Hoping To Score With World Series Commercials

On: Mon, Oct 4, 2010 at 10:22AM | By: Chris Weiss

More Volt News: Chevy Hoping To Score With World Series Commercials test 1-1

What's more American than the Chevy name and the elbow grease and ingenuity behind a product like the Chevy Volt? Baseball, of course! And GM will capitalize on this all-American connection when it officially begins Volt advertising with a series of spots during the World Series.

The World Series begins October 27 and will run as long as November 4, depending upon how the on-field drama unfolds. And with the Volt set to launch in the United States in mid-November, the big-draw sporting event is the perfect venue for Chevy to start pushing its Volt.

This weekend marks the end of the MLB's regular season and will decide who goes to the playoffs and how they're seeded. It would appear that someone has a little love for the eco-friendly Volt and its parents because the teams should work out to the company's advantage.


Paris Motor Show: Lotus Blitz Includes Six New Models

On: Mon, Oct 4, 2010 at 10:11AM | By: Chris Weiss

Lotus Elan Concept test 2

If we had to think of one word to describe the Paris Motor Show, it would be "Lotus." We knew that Lotus was going to be hitting the show hard; way back on the first day of summer Lotus gave a hint that it had something big in store, and later reports indicated that Lotus was bringing four new model concepts to the show. As it turns out, Lotus bombarded the show with no less than six brand new concepts, showing that it has serious plans for the future.

CEO Dany Behar said of Lotus' future plans: "Our plan is to change Lotus from its present position as a niche sports car company to a builder of a range of premium sports cars."

New Nissan GT-R, Godzilla Attacks Paris

On: Mon, Oct 4, 2010 at 9:35AM | By: Chris Weiss

New Nissan GT-R, Godzilla Attacks Paris test 1-1

In somewhat of a surprise move, Nissan showed the updated 2012 GT-R to a group of press and VIPs at the Paris Motor Show. There have been a number of leaks and spy shots of the next-gen GT-R, but this was the first official showing.

The new GT-R gets a number of very mild exterior updates concentrated in the front including the straked-out front bumper, LED running lights, and new air intakes, which lower the drag coefficient of the sports coupe. Out back, a new diffuser pulls the GT-R helps keep the car grounded.

For those that don't really pay that much attention to bumpers and diffusers, the most interesting change could be the addition of two new exterior colors: Aurora Flare Blue Pearl and Nebula Opal Black.

Unfortunately, Nissan was more than tight-lipped on mechanical and performance changes, delaying those announcements for a few weeks. In the meantime, rumors are indicating a slight boost in the 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6's output thanks to upgraded turbos, a new oil cooler and exhaust system. Output is expected to jump slightly over 500 hp (up from 485 hp). The GT-R is also expected to lose about 65 lbs, so we can hope to see a very slight boost in the GT-R's already impressive numbers: 0 to 62 mph in 3.5 seconds and 195 mph top speed.

Volt To Make Its Official Debut During World Series

On: Fri, Oct 1, 2010 at 3:41PM | By: John Welch

Volt To Make Its Official Debut During World Series test 1-1

Welp, its about damn time. Chevrolet has finally announced when they will bombard us with Volt marketing, and there is no Volt song or dance in sight. Settling on a slightly, uhm, manlier medium for introudcing their much-hyped hypermiler, Volt commercials will officially debut during the 2010 World Series. That would be a series of fairly important baseball contests, for those who will click off this page and return to Second Life.

The spots will highlight Chevrolet's place in American culture, possibly featuring reminders of important Chevrolets built over the course of the company's 100-year history. This is a rumor mind you; GM has been totally silent regarding the content in the ads, announcing only that they will begin airing Volt spots during Major League Baseball's fall classic, and continue to run the ads for the remainder of the autumnal season.

GM is scheduled to begin production of the Volt for retail sales on Nov. 11 at its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant. The Volt is being marketed as a "halo car" to underscore GM's green credentials. The campaign will run on TV, radio, and in print media. Because of the amount of ad support Chevrolet is putting into the World Series, MLB and Fox have agreed to push the start time of Game Three of the World Series to a more managable 6:57 pm - instead of effing midnight or whatever MLB had originally planned. This will be the earliest starting time for a WS game since 1987. The purpose of the early start time? Still clouded in mystery rolled in an enigma and swallowed by a cunundrum. In other words, we have no idea.

Though GM has declined to report exactly what they have spent on the ads, they are certain that they are close to if not the largest investor in this year's World Series. GM plans to resume this advertising campaign during the NFL's Super Bowl, in Feburary 2011.

Audi e-Tron Blows Its Lid

On: Fri, Oct 1, 2010 at 2:55PM | By: Chris Weiss

Audi e-Tron Blows Its Lid test 1-1

We heard plenty of rumors of it coming. We even saw some sketches. And now that Paris is underway, it's officially here; the Audi e-tron Spyder made its debut on the first media day of the Paris Motor Show, giving us one more look at Audi's electric/hybrid family. And it's arguably the sexiest look yet.

The new Spyder looks just like the sketches indicate it would: stylish, exposed, wraparound glass in front and sides providing a cockpit look; sharp, angular side window lines that disappear seamlessly just beyond the doors and an R8-influenced rear-end. The front-end and sides are similar to the R4 e-tron hard-top that Audi showed at the Detroit Auto Show, with a few departures. The slats in the grille extend all the way to the edges and the car loses the vertical slats from the Detroit version. Similarly, the front air intakes have switched from vertical slats to matching horizontal slats. Certain lines also have a little more definition, like the lippy front fenders.

Lotus Esprit Concept Debuts in Paris

On: Fri, Oct 1, 2010 at 2:51PM | By: Chris Weiss

Lotus Esprit Concept Debuts in Paris test 1-1

It's been an exciting couple of days in the auto world thanks to pre-Paris and Paris auto show debuts all over the place. The most exciting part of the show's first day has got to be the all-new Lotus Esprit. We've been waiting for it for months and it's finally a reality--or at least a conceptual reality. While the current iteration is just a concept, Lotus has production plans for this one, with a spring 2013 production debut being quoted.

Rumors of a V10 engine are officially dead, as the new Esprit goes for the more historically accurate V8 engine--a mid-mounted Lexus IS F 5.0-liter V8 engine, to be exact. However, the new engine is more powerful than any Esprits in the past, storing 620 ponies in those 8 cylinders. Lotus also says the car is pressure charged but hasn't specified if that means turbo or superchargers. We'll just assume they'll go with turbochargers, which were used in the last Lotus before its wind-down in 2004. That engine works in tandem with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

198,000 BMW's To Be Recalled For Brake Leakage

On: Fri, Oct 1, 2010 at 2:17PM | By: John Welch

BMW 7 Series test 2

A collective "D'oh!" could be heard emanating for BMW North America's headquarters this morning, as company execs read the startling news that 198,000 of their babies would have to recalled over a braking issue. Thankfully, this is BMW and not Toyota, so instead of the requisite "cover it up for six years" mentality employed by their Japanese counterparts, BMW is taking the initiative and ordering a recall before the customary NHTSA report is released. Good on ya, Bimmer, way to jump the shark or whatever . . .

The recall encompasses all BMW products built between 2002 and 2010, that feature 8- or 12-cylinder engines. Yes, overpaid hedge-fund yuppies, that means Rolls Royce as well. In the affected vehicles, it is possible for the power braking system to leak. This can result in a loss of vacuum pressure and a reduction in the amount of braking assistance the system gives the driver. When this occurs, the mechanical brakes still function and can slow and stop the car, but requires more driver effort to press the pedal. See? It isn't even that bad! There have been no reports of any injuries or deaths as a result of this issue.

BMW is setting up an inspection and repair procedure, and will distribute this info along with spare parts to its entire North American dealer network. Though affected customers will be alerted by first-class mail, anyone experiencing braking issues with their Bimmer should report the issue to an authorized BMW service center immediately.

Venture inside the post for a list of affected vehicles . . .

GM September Sales Improve 11% Over Sept. 2009

On: Fri, Oct 1, 2010 at 12:09PM | By: John Welch

GM September Sales Improve 11% Over Sept. 2009 test 1-1

Is the much hyped economic recovery really starting to bear fruit? Heh, not for me, personally, but somebody seems to be doing better than they were in September of 2009. Otherwise how could we have bought so many GM vehicles in the last month? I don't witness it in my day to day life, but somebody, somewhere is generating more cash lately, and taking that cash to GM dealerships to the tune of an 11 % sales increase over September 2009.

GMC leads the charge with a whopping 41.6 % gain over last year. Golly, we still need those big ass, lane clogging trucks I s'pose. GMC's success could be contributed to the mind boggling popularity of its Equinox sibling, the GMC Terrain. A slightly smaller, less lane clogging SUV, the Terrain features, uhm, "abstract" styling and excellent fuel economy. 

The other three remaining GM brands are all up as well, rounding out a decidedly bullish month for GM.