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U.S. Proposes New Energy Plan for Future Auto Regulations

On: Wed, Sep 29, 2010 at 12:01PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

U.S. Proposes New Energy Plan for Future Auto Regulations test 1-1

In breaking automotive news today, the Obama administration is planning a new proposal that will regulate fuel efficiency and emissions guidelines for cars and light trucks starting in 2017.

The White House budget office is currently reviewing the plan that is a focal point of Obama’s energy agenda aimed at reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil supplies. While the results will not be released until Thursday, experts in the environmental field are projecting that government regulations will be set at a range of an average increase in fuel economy by 3%-6% per year starting in 2017. The Obama administration has made it clear that regulations will be more aggressive than the automotive industry has experienced in the past.

The astonishing facts are that the United States, home to only 5% of the world's population, is currently consuming 44% of the oil supplies and producing 25% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. The average car puts out 6 tons of pollution in the air every year in the form of carbon emissions.

Lamborghini Teams With Swiss Watchmaker for Gallardo LP570-4 Special Edition

On: Wed, Sep 29, 2010 at 11:53AM | By: Chris Weiss

Lamborghini Teams With Swiss Watchmaker for Gallardo LP570-4 Special Edition test 1-1

Since premium automakers like Lamborghini and high-end Swiss watchmakers, like Blancpain, can offer only so many products to corral money from the world's wealthiest consumers, sometimes they need to team up to offer something ever-so-slightly different that is "special" and "limited" enough to take another bite out of that collective cash cow. Hence, we see cars like the Gallardo LP570-4 Blancpain Edition, a car that gets some performance, exterior, and interior enhancements to make it more exclusive than those other Gallardos.

Blancpain is a sponsor of Lamborghini's Super Trofeo racing series, so the partnership on the new car is a natural extension of that relationship. The car was unveiled at the final Super Trofeo race in Vallelunga, Italy over this past weekend. The new Gallardo combines the street-legal status of other Gallardo models with a variety of performance tweaks from the Super Trofeo cars. Its 570-horsepower 5.2-liter V10 engine is the same used in the racing cars, as is the prominent rear wing and vented engine cover. Other upgrades include carbon ceramic disc brakes, Skorpius wheels, and a carbon fiber injection that includes pieces like the rear diffuser and mirror casings. The carbon fiber upgrades help to keep weight down to 2,950 lbs., nearly 500 lbs. lighter than the Gallardo LP560-4.

Chrysler Factory Workers Caught Drinking on Lunch Break

On: Wed, Sep 29, 2010 at 10:41AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

 Chrysler Factory Workers Caught Drinking on Lunch Break test 1-1

Chrysler Group recently reported that 13 autoworkers were fired and 2 others were suspended after they were caught drinking during their lunch breaks. A local television station filmed the Chrysler employees drinking alcohol on the job, then aired the film to the public. According to Automotive News.com, Detroit Fox News channel responded to a tip and “captured workers from the Chrysler Jefferson North Assembly Plant guzzling beer and, in some cases, smoking what appeared to be hand-rolled cigarettes or other smoking material.”

Interestingly enough, Auto News also pointed out that the incident occurred within days of Barack Obama’s visit to the Detroit auto plant in which the President praised autoworkers for their worthiness of the federal bailout that saved union workers jobs. The news coverage prompted a high level of response from local Detroit viewers and was the topic of discussion on many of the local Detroit radio stations; the public was reportedly “outraged at the workers who returned to work after the lunch breaks." Viewers also voiced criticism regarding the TV station that aired the report.

The report was considered derogatory for Chrysler’s reputation as consumers questioned the safety of vehicles being produced by intoxicated plant workers. Chrysler was adamant about giving a statement to convince consumers that the plant’s control systems would ensure the quality of the Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV that was being manufactured there.

Lexus Considering LF-A Roadster

On: Wed, Sep 29, 2010 at 9:55AM | By: Chris Weiss

Lexus Considering  LF-A Roadster test 1-1

After being introduced in its production suit last year, the Lexus LF-A has quickly become the hottest gossip-maker of Toyota's luxury arm. Starring in news stories, supercar showdowns, pictorials and flute-shattering commercials all year, the LF-A goes into production later this year. Lexus plans to build just 500 examples of the $375,000 supercar and those have all but sold out. New indications are that those who miss the chance to own the Japanese rocket will soon have a second opportunity: Autoweek reports that Lexus will be following the first run of coupe production with a roadster.

According to the new report, Lexus will stick with its 500-model production run and then take a break from making the LF-A coupe. However, it will shift focus onto an LF-A roadster, with a January 2014 launch window speculated. The report indicates that Lexus may even build the roadster version in higher volumes than the coupe.


Ford Announces Plans to Build New Engine Parts Plant in China

On: Wed, Sep 29, 2010 at 9:54AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ford Announces Plans to Build New Engine Parts Plant in China test 1-1

Many U.S. automakers are developing plans to take advantage of the economic boom in China, as well as of the increased demand for American vehicles by local Chinese consumers. Ford has announced its decision to begin the construction on a second automotive parts assembly facility in China.

Changan Ford Mazda Automobile Company is the name of Ford Motor Co.'s China venture that is made up of an alliance of Ford Motor Company, Mazda Motor Corporation, and Chongqing Changan Automobile Co. This week Changan Ford Mazda signed an agreement with the Chinese municipal government to build a new $500 million automotive engine plant in the local city of Chongquig. Those present at the signing were Chongqing Changan Chairman Xu Liuping, local government official Xiong Xue, and Ford China CEO Robert Graziano, as well as Ford Motor CFO Lewis Booth.

Ford plans to begin construction of the new plant in 2011 and the engine production will begin 2 years later.

Volkswagen Plans to Overtake Toyota as World's Largest Automaker

On: Wed, Sep 29, 2010 at 9:40AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Martin Winterkorn test 2

CEO of Volkswagen Martin Winterkorn stated that the company plans to become the world’s largest automaker by 2018. This is a lofty goal for Volkswagen; the German automaker tied at 5th place this year (under Honda, Subaru, Toyota, and Hyundai) on Consumer Report’s  list of top automakers. While it’s true that VW has had some award-winning vehicles, such as the Volkswagen GTi, selling more cars than Toyota will be quite an undertaking for the German automaker.

Winterkorn reports that he feels so strongly about leading the company into first place, as the world’s largest automaker, that he wants to remain the CEO long enough to see that continuity is established and the company's goals are met. "We know how ambitious our goals are," Winterkorn said in an interview to be published Monday in the German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel.

Sexy, Quick, and Electric: The Exagon Engineering Furtive e-GT

On: Wed, Sep 29, 2010 at 9:22AM | By: Chris Weiss

Sexy, Quick, and Electric: The Exagon Engineering Furtive e-GT test 1-1

French racing company Exagon Engineering has its first road-ready car to show at the Paris auto show later this week. The new car is an attractive electric sports car that brings another sexy-but-green option in the vein of the Tesla Roadster and Fisker Karma.

The Furtive-eGT is a 2 + 2 two-door that measures 4.5 meters in length. Exagon worked with several prominent industry partners on developing the prototype, including Siemens Corporate Technology (engines), Saft (batteries) and Michelin (tires). The car is powered by two 168-hp electric motors and a gasoline generator that combine for a total of 500 miles of range. The car gets half that range under electric power alone.

As impressive as its electric range, is the Furtive-eGT's performance; the car uses its ever-ready torque to hit 62 mph in just 3.5 seconds. For reference, the $110,000 Tesla Roadster and its tiny, lightweight Lotus chassis don't break 60 mph until the 3.7-second mark. The Furtive also improves upon the Tesla's top-end with a rather gas-looking electronically limited 155 mph (over Tesla's 125 mph). And while, the car's all-electric range is about the same as Tesla's (245 miles), the gas generator means double the overall range, no range anxiety and several hundred miles more than the range-extending Fisker Karma, which provides about 300 total miles and 50 miles of all-electric.

Volvo Announces The Pedestrian Detection System

On: Tue, Sep 28, 2010 at 1:37PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Volvo Announces The Pedestrian Detection System test 1-1

Volvo’s new S60 sedan has been announced with a recent press release describing one innovative safety feature: the pedestrian detection system. Volvo engineers promised the new pedestrian detection system would actually stop the car by itself. According to Volvo approximately in 11%, or 4,700, of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. are pedestrians. In Europe it's about 14 percent, and in China 26 percent.

True to Volvo's tradition of emphasizing safety, the S60 will feature a collision warning system with an automatic brake function, in addition to the pedestrian protection feature which can recognize the presence of pedestrians on the road. Once the vehicle reaches speeds of more than 25 mph the automatic braking procedure is triggered, if the driver does not react in time, slowing the car down to reduce the collision severity as much as possible.

In live crash test dummy evaluations, drivers were instructed to maintain a steady speed of 22 mph heading straight to an adult or child-size dummy. Just at the point where a collision seemed inevitable, a chime gives an audible warning and a bar illuminates on the windshield, and then the brakes automatically engage, stopping just a foot or more from the dummy. At speeds of over 25 mph the feature will engage but will not bring the vehicle to a complete stop.

Is There Something Strange In Your Neighborhood?

On: Tue, Sep 28, 2010 at 10:09AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Is There Something Strange In Your Neighborhood? test 1-1

The Ghost Busters Cadillac is one of the more popular movie vehicles featured on a variety of different top 10 Movie Car lists. Although the “Ectomobile” plays a small role in the film, it is considered the most well known medical movie car of its time. The 1959 Cadillac S & S ambulance with red tailfins, strobe lights, sirens, attached ladder, and more roof gear than a fire truck, is surely one of a kind. The drivetrain sports a 325 hp, 6.4 liter V-8 with rear wheel drive.

Many movie-based replicas have popped up over the years since the famous Ghost Busters movie released in 1984 (thanks, Wikipedia). One such Cadillac cost a whopping $83,000 to turn the old rusting 1959 model into an Ecto-1 lookalike after its owner, Chris Reynolds, found the car in Maryland in 1997. The Cadillac had spent its previous life in church parades for 20 years. The 20 ft. long, 6.5 foot wide vehicle had its roof removed when Reynolds first discovered it.

Reynolds, who is a coachbuilder by profession, decided to create a business opportunity by refurbishing the vehicle, to sell it to someone who wants to use it as a unique rental vehicle for private hire and promotional events.

According to Reynolds: "The car's ghostly presence is in stark contrast to the real life experience of bringing it back to life—and the cost of doing so! The car was about to be scrapped when I discovered it and the restoration has been a real labor of love, and hopefully it will find a worthy home."

While the exterior of the vehicle resembles the eclectic Ecto-1 from the movie, the interior has been designed to look like a luxury limousine. Powered by a 6.5-liter V8 engine, the 2.55 ton car gets a whopping 8 mpg!

The Cadillac is currently listed for sale and will be up for auction on Saturday, September 25th as part of the "Historics at Brooklands," (UK’s premiere auction house), where the vehicle is expected to go for between $96,000 and $109,000.

Other auction highlights at the Historics and Brooklands auction include a 1964 Aston Martin DB5 Convertible and a 1933 Singer Nine Le Mans.

UPDATE: The EctoMobile did NOT sell this last Saturday. Expected to go for at least 60 thousand pounds Sterling, the dramatic Caddie did not find any takers. The Singer Nine Le Mans sold, for £30,731.25. The Aston Martin DB5 went the way of the Ecto-1, not meeting its reserve.

Ferrari Introduces the SA APERTA, A 599 Convertible

On: Tue, Sep 28, 2010 at 9:47AM | By: Chris Weiss

Ferrari Introduces the SA APERTA, A 599 Convertible test 1-1

Ferrari announced a new limited edition model last week: the SA APERTA. The new model is an open-top 599 that gets extra power and features a lightweight soft-top, making it an accessory most suited to the sunny coast or desert. Not quite as exciting as a brand-new Lamborghini, but a sexy, new model just the same, the SA APERTA will give us one more thing to look forward to at the Paris Motor Show beginning later this week. Officially, the SA Aperta is a tribute to design firm Pininfarina. The firm is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, so Ferrari will offer 80 models of the SA Aperta. And the lettering stands for "Sergio" and "Andrea" Pininfarina.

The 599 GTB Fiorano's 6.0-liter V12 engine has been tuned up to 661 hp for the special edition, a jump of 41 horses. AsAutocar points out, this modification puts it on par with the 599 GTO.

In a Push to Improve Buyers Perception of Lincoln, 200 Dealerships Will be Closed

On: Tue, Sep 28, 2010 at 9:32AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

In a Push to Improve Buyers Perception of Lincoln, 200 Dealerships Will be Closed test 1-1

Ford Motor Company has recently announced that it will eliminate at least 200 Lincoln franchise dealerships (which is 40% of its Lincoln dealers in major metropolitan regions) in an attempt to magnify the exclusivity of its last remaining luxury brand. Of the remaining Lincoln dealerships, many upgrades will be required in order to "raise Lincoln's game in terms of customer experience to the level of such luxury brands as Cadillac, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW," according to Automotive News.com.

The marketing ploy is being created in order to keep up with Ford’s competitors in the luxury car market and those who are saying that Lincoln does not stack up to its competitors.

Many sources report that Ford will announce its new marketing plan for Lincoln in an upcoming 2-day Lincoln dealer seminar that will begin on October 4th and takes place in the car capitol of the U.S., Dearborn Michigan.

According to Ford executives, the discontinuation of the Mercury brand was the impetus for the new plan to give Lincoln a makeover. But in the bigger metro areas where the market is much larger, some stand-alone Lincoln dealerships would still be allowed to stay opened, while in the smaller rural markets the Lincoln products would be sold only at Ford dealerships. Ford Motor Company at one time owned the following luxury brands: Jaguar, Aston Martin, Land Rover, and even Volvo. Ford has sold them off, one by one, over the past several years. Now that Ford has only one remaining luxury brand left, the Detroit automaker plans to design a “premium showroom experience for its final premium brand."