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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."


The Leaf is Gone: Nissan "Sells" Out Its First-Year Allotment

On: Mon, Sep 27, 2010 at 4:37PM | By: Chris Weiss


The Leaf is Gone: Nissan "Sells" Out Its First-Year Allotment test 1-1

Nissan announced today that it has reserved its entire 2010 U.S. goal of 20,000 Leaf electric vehicles. In other words, it's closing the reservation books until 2011, three months ahead of its intended schedule.

Of course, Nissan's numbers are to be taken with a grain of salt. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn actually told the press that the Leaf sold out all the way back in May. Then suddenly there were four months worth of unfilled reservations. And before today, things seemed to be plodding along for Nissan and it wasn't clear if it would even reach its 20,000 goal by year-end. So the fact that it suddenly reserved all its Leafs (Leaves?) three months ahead of the first delivery in December seems a little too convenient. But only the company knows for sure.

On the other hand, since Nissan actually shut down its reservation system, it would appear that it's content with the Leafs that it's reserved. Nissan will reopen the books next year after current reservations are processed and deliveries to launch markets are well underway.

Nissan released some information about its initial Leaf sales back in late July. At the time it had reserved about 17,000 cars, and said that 30 percent of those were blue and 26 percent were silver. Three-quarters of the reserved Leaf models were of the SL trim.


Latest Rumors Say No Lamborghini Jota in Paris

On: Mon, Sep 27, 2010 at 4:30PM | By: Chris Weiss


Latest Rumors Say No Lamborghini Jota in Paris  test 1-1

Last week, we reported on some new information from a leaked document that Lamborghini had two brand new models to show off, first to dealers and then to the public via the Paris Motor Show. The first was expected to be the Jota, a Lamborghini that's been spotted in various forms of testing and is known for a fact to be on the way. The second was a big, bold question mark that went by the code name of '83X'. Well, the latest rumor out of Autoguide.com is that Lamborghini will only be showing one car in Paris and it will be the 83X, which it says is a concept designed to demonstrate new technology.

Autoguide says that the Lamborghini won't be a successor to the Gallardo, a sedan headed for production or any form of production car whatsoever. Instead it will be a purely conceptual exercise that the site calls a "technology demonstrator." Unfortunately, their source didn't divulge any other information, but did say that the car will be the only new unveil that Lamborghini makes in Paris. We do know that it will be a V10-powered car with heaps of carbon fiber and a light, spry figure.


 

North American Car of the Year Contestant List Shortened

On: Mon, Sep 27, 2010 at 3:33PM | By: Sherry Christiansen


 North American Car of the Year Contestant List Shortened  test 1-1

The North American Car and Truck of the Year award ceremony is impending for 2011 model year awards. Ford Motor Co., Kia Motors Corp., and General Motors Co. are the auto makers at the top of the list most likely to take this year's Truck and Car of the Year honors.

North American automotive journalists writing for magazines, newspapers, websites, television, and radio, from Canada and the United States will judge the awards.

Originally 27 new cars were eligible for the 2011 Car of the Year award, but recently, that number was narrowed to only 14 vehicles that judges deemed worthy of consideration.

There are also 14 trucks on the list to be considered for the 2011 Truck of the Year award.

All in all, there are 4 European models, 4 domestic models (including GM which has 3 cars on the list), 4 Japanese Models, and 2 Korean models on the list for the final honors.

On December 16th of this year, the final winners will be announced in Detroit. In January a press conference will take place just before next year's Detroit auto show, to announce the winner of the North American Car and Truck of the year for 2011 models.


Toyota's Prius Hybrid Technology to be Utilized in Future Lotus Elite Hybrid Model

On: Mon, Sep 27, 2010 at 9:41AM | By: Sherry Christiansen


Toyota's Prius Hybrid Technology to be Utilized in Future Lotus Elite Hybrid Model test 1-1

Lotus Automotive is jumping on the green car band wagon as the company consults with Toyota to purchase the Japanese automaker’s proprietary hybrid powertrain for use in a new Lotus hybrid vehicle.

Toyota Motor Company has been pushing to sell its hybrid powertrain on a large scale to other automakers in hopes of keeping the price of the hybrid components down. Lotus plans to use the gasoline/electric hybrid powertrain as an option for its 5.0 liter V-8 Lotus Elite that the company plans to launch in 2014, according to a Lotus official spokesperson. The British sports car company will launch the Elite as a concept car at this year’s Paris auto show. The hybrid Lotus will “feature a hybrid gearbox with integrated electric motors and a kinetic energy recovery system that recoups heat energy during braking to recharge the battery,” according to Automotive News.com

“We are working with Toyota on powertrain solutions for our future cars, and this is part of the development but it is not an existing system,” a Lotus official said. Toyota stated that the company “welcomes such deals because we would like to see environmental technologies adopted and used as widely as possible.”


Ford Says Fiesta Buyers Seek High End Options

On: Mon, Sep 27, 2010 at 9:23AM | By: Sherry Christiansen


Ford Says Fiesta Buyers Seek High End Options test 1-1

Initial sales numbers are in for this year’s Ford Fiesta, and surprisingly the data shows that a high percentage of consumers are purchasing higher-end features for the small economy car. The Fiesta has helped to boost sales for Ford Motor Company this year in an otherwise flat market, according to officials at Ford.

In fact, according to a recent Automotive News article, only approximately 7% of all Fiestas sold in the United States this year were ordered with standard features since the 2011 Fiesta was launched in June 2010. As many as 93% of the Fiestas sold included models with high end features such as satellite radio, ambient interior lighting, heated front seats, keyless acces and starting, chrome exterior trim, alarm, cruise control, aerodynamic aids, alloy wheels, heated power mirrors, or illuminated door sills.


Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Gets More Efficient

On: Fri, Sep 24, 2010 at 4:51PM | By: Chris Weiss


Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Gets More Efficient  test 1-1

The Bugatti Veyron has been in innumerable articles and blog posts the past two months thanks to the Super Sport variant's record-breaking 268-mph top speed. Now the namesake is in the news for something completely different, something that car fans probably would have never expected to see the Veyron being covered for: fuel economy.

No, the electric Veyron rumored earlier this year hasn't made a debut, and Bugatti hasn't cut out any of the 16 cylinders or 8 liters of the Veyron's powerplant. But the car did manage a nominal year-over-year increase in fuel economy according to official EPA numbers. The Bugatti's great efficiency bragging rights? It upped highway mileage from 14 mpg in the 2010 model to 15 mpg in the 2011 model in the most recent EPA testing. City mileage is still an atrocious 8 mpg, but who the heck drives a Veyron in city traffic anyway?

While the Veyron's fuel economy is still one of the lowest out of any car's, a 1-mpg boost is an achievement for a car that's capable of draining a tank of gas in 12 minutes. However, we don't think that it will be much of a factor for potential buyers.


Lamborghini Puts Its Name on Garden Tools

On: Fri, Sep 24, 2010 at 3:50PM | By: Chris Weiss


Lamborghini Puts Its Name on Garden Tools  test 1-1

Don't have $200,000 to invest in a Lamborghini Gallardo? Get the Lamborghini you've always wanted in a smaller, more affordable package: chainsaws, hedge clippers, and grass trimmers. These new accessories may not deliver the performance and "look-at-me" factor of a four-wheeled Lambo, but they'll certainly require a lot less money and work in both the long and short term. Thanks to a new licensing deal, you can now own your very own shed-full of Lambo.

The new licensing deal allows IKRA Mogatec, a German company that specializes in high-end gardening tools, to badge a line of tools with the Raging Bull. So far, the all-electric line consists of a chainsaw, hedge trimmers, cordless grass and shrub shear, grass trimmers and cordless grass trimmers.

When I first read about the tools, I naturally assumed that they'd be toys for the ultra-rich, bearing prices in the thousands thanks mostly to the Lamborghini name. However, the tools incorporate more every-man pricing. The chainsaw costs around $200 and the hedge trimmers come in at around $150. Cutting down lumber with your sexy new Lambo? Now that's priceless.

The Lamborghini deal extends only to the badging, so don't expect to find V12-powered chainsaw mayhem when you're shopping the line. In addition to the bull, the tools feature rather attractive black, silver, and red/orange styling.


Toyota Announces New Pricing for 2011 Prius, Highlander, and F.J. Cruiser

On: Fri, Sep 24, 2010 at 1:16PM | By: Sherry Christiansen


2011 Toyota Highlander test 2

Toyota has recently announced the introduction of the new 2011 Highlander and Highlander Hybrid mid-size SUV, as well as a change in the price for the Prius mid-size hatchback, Venza crossover, and the FJ Cruiser mid-size SUV.  The new 2011 Highlander models will be available for retail sale this month. The 2011 Venza will arrive at dealers early next month, followed by the 2011 Prius, and then the new 2011 FJ Cruiser in late November.

The Highlander gets upgrades to standard equipment such as a standard 50/50-split third-row with rear climate control, improving both cargo flexibiliy, and passenger comfort. A new Tech Audio package includes a USB port, integrated satellite radio, and Bluetooth hands-free phone and streaming audio. In addition to featuring the Star Safety System, which is standard on all Toyota models, the 2011 Highlander will receive standard Smart Stop Technology, Toyota’s brake override system. The 2011 Highlander model will also receive a refreshed interior and exterior including an all new hood, fenders, and front fascia.

The sticker price for Highlander will start at $27,390 for the base model, 4-cylinder, 2-WD model; the SE V6 2-WD will be $33,150, and the V-6 Limited 4WD model will be $36,345. The list price for Highlander Hybrid will range from $37,290 for the base model to $42,945.
Toyota’s best selling Prius hybrid vehicle will also get a price increase with a new list price of between $23,050 for the Prius Two model to $28,320 for the Prius Five model, which is an increase of 0.9% to 1.1%.

Toyota’s 2011 new generation Venza crossover will be equipped with Smart Stop Technology, the list price will range from $26,475 for the four-cylinder FWD model, to $29,750 for the V6 AWD, an increase of $200, or 0.7 to 0.8 percent.


Proving The EcoBoost In A Big Way

On: Fri, Sep 24, 2010 at 10:43AM | By: John Welch


Proving The EcoBoost In A Big Way test 1-1

Yesterday I reported the wealth of engine options available for the 2011 Ford F-150. I also posed some difficult questions: would truck buyers shell out their hard-earned money for cylinder counts less than eight? Are V6 engines stout enough to take the abuse meted out by dirt roads, hauling of large mammals, bulldozer relocation, random falling boulders, and anything else a hairy-chested truck commercial might throw their way?

Ford would like to save you some time and shed light on these quandaries. How's a 150,000-mile bench test followed a week of timber hauling followed by 24 hours of race car trailerin' followed by 1,000 miles of Baja running followed by a complete tear-down sound? Ford will do all of that and more to one, randomly chosen 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6. Not a fully built ringer, just a ordinary engine assembly plucked from the bowels of the Cleveland Engine Plant and thrown on the dyno, eager to pass its first test.

Full details on all of the glorious torture and quotes from Ford, inside the post . . .

UPDATE: Weird things going on with the innerwebs. Notice how we imply that there should be a video of some sort in the body of this blog post? Hmmm, yes, it isn't there. Neither is the webpage I got it from. Perhaps it is being updated? Or, just maybe, the randomly selected EcoBoost engine popped? We'll let you know when we find out!