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The 2010 Lake Mirror Classic; Classing Up October

On: Wed, Sep 8, 2010 at 10:52AM | By: John Welch

The 2010 Lake Mirror Classic; Classing Up October test 1-1

Every October Lakeland, Florida is treated to a visual and aural spectacle named The Lake Mirror Classic. Held, oddly enough, on the shores of Lake Mirror and in the streets of historic downtown Lakeland, The Lake Mirror Classic literally has something for everybody. No kidding!

Like Mustangs? There is a Mustang specific show. Like Amphicars? Several examples will be prominently featured. Classic motorcycles? Covered. Slick restorations and untouched rolling sculpture? You will not see more LeSalles and Delahayes in one place. Priceless race cars? How about a pair of 1920s vintage Miller Indy cars? Priceless race drivers? Lyn St. James is the Honorary Chairperson.

Though not totally booked yet, Event Chairman Ford Heacock has seen a 25% increase in registration for 2010. Heacock believes that the current pace of registration will put the show at 600 vehicles, completely occupying every available inch of show space in downtown. Good thing the Classic goes on for three days!

Taking place October 15th through the 17th, most of the activities are free to the public. Inside the post we have the entire event schedule, for all three days. Our gallery features images taken by the AutoShopperBlog at the 2009 Lake Mirror Classic . . .

Coulomb Technologies Opens First of 4,600 Car Charging Stations

On: Wed, Sep 8, 2010 at 9:10AM | By: Chris Weiss

Coulomb Technologies Opens First of 4,600 Car Charging Stations test 1-1

Everyone loves to talk green vehicles nowadays. However, not everyone loves to drive green vehicles. And no one really loves the idea of getting stranded out on US-50 in eastern Nevada due to a drained pack of lithium-ion.

Range anxiety is a formidable opponent of the electric vehicle industry, and until the country begins to address this issue with action, EVs aren't likely to fly out of dealerships. At least not at the rate they could be flying out of dealerships with the right charging infrastructure.

Well, if you happen to live in Michigan, that process is under way. The proverbial ribbon-cutting ceremony on the nation's first free electric charging station under the ChargePoint America program took place last Thursday. The new charging station stands in front of the NextEnergy in downtown Detroit. The electric juice stand is one of 4,600 that will be installed across the United States under the ChargePoint America program.

Michigan, which is set to be one of the first launch markets for the Chevy Volt, will get several hundred of the free charging stations in areas like Flint, Dearborn and Detroit. Charging stations will go to  businesses, communities and homes. The equipment will come free of charge under the federally funded program, but owners will have to pay the installation fees.

Coulomb Technologies of Campbell, California is spearheading the $37 million nationwide installation program, which includes about $15 million of federal stimulus funding. On their own, each station would otherwise cost between $1,700 and $5,000, so the new program should help defray some of the costs for starting up a charging infrastructure. Installation can cost anywhere from $250 to $4,000.

Coulomb CEO Richard Lowenthal summed up the importance of getting an infrastructure in place: "With cars like this, you’ll never go to the gas station. But you need a place to charge them. If you can’t fuel your vehicle, you won’t buy one."

Taxpayers Likely to Lose Money on GM's IPO

On: Tue, Sep 7, 2010 at 9:16AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Taxpayers Likely to Lose Money on GM's IPO test 1-1

Financial analysts are predicting that the U.S. government has a very high chance of losing money on its investment in General Motors Co. in the very first offering of the automaker’s stock.  According to sources familiar with the preparation for General Motor’s IPO. Sources are saying that subsequent offerings may be more successful depending on how the stock is traded by investors.

The government may not see a break-even return on its $50 billion investment for years (possibly into the next presidential term), as the Treasury continues to sell its remaining stake in General Motors after the IPO.

A decision to price the initial GM shares below cost would be in line with the usual Wall Street practice of giving the first investors in a new stock a discount, but it could also help offset investor concern regarding the slow recovery of the U.S. economy and declining auto sales for 2010.

The projected market value of GM, according to analysts, is from $50 to $90 billion, based on estimates regarding GM’s future cash flow, and looking at the value of its closest competitor, Ford Motor Co., in addition to evaluating trading and bonds from the old General Motors.

New Features of The 2011 Ford Raptor Pickup

On: Tue, Sep 7, 2010 at 9:14AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

New Features of The 2011 Ford Raptor Pickup  test 1-1

Ford is adding some new features to the F-150 SVT Raptor SuperCrew that will make the already popular truck even more desirable, including the biggest change, which is the 4 full doors on the SuperCrew model.

The 6.2 liter V-8 engine will be standard in the 2011 model (while this year the V-8 is an option), with an output of 411 hp and 434 lb-ft of torque.     
The V-8 will also be featured in the Harley-Davidson F-150 and the F-Series Super Duty.  Ford has not made an announcement as of yet regarding the base price of the Raptor featuring the bigger V-8 engine, but in the 2010 model, the optional V-8 goes for an extra $3,000.

According to Kerry Baldori, chief engineer of the Raptor: “We spent a lot of time developing our desert durability test so that it’s very close to replicating the Baja 1000.” Baldori also stated: ‘’Desert testing proved to be a very quick way to learn about the reliability of the truck, and it put another level of extreme loads on the engine that our normal durability testing doesn’t need to cover.”

The current Raptor is available only in the SuperCab model with the rear half doors, the new SuperCrew body style that is being offered for 2011 models will provide much more space and comfort to passengers in the rear seats.


Chevrolet Hires Tim Allen to Appear in Its Commercials

On: Tue, Sep 7, 2010 at 9:10AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Chevrolet Hires Tim Allen to Appear in Its Commercials test 1-1

Chevrolet has recruited comedic actor Tim Allen to perform in its television commercials to advertise the 2011 Chevy Cruze. Commercials will debut September 7th and will ramp up later in the fall after the Cruze arrives at dealerships across the country, according to a General Motors spokesperson.

Allen is a transplanted native of Detroit (born in Denver Colorado,) who is known for his appearances in many well known movies and sitcoms, but he also performed voiceovers for the award-winning “Pure Michigan" ad campaign promoting Michigan’s top travel destinations on television and radio.   

The Cruze, which will arrive at local dealerships this month, is known for having the roominess and features of a sedan, with the fuel economy of a compact car. The Ecotec 1.4L I-4 turbo engine gets an EPA fuel economy rating of 26 mpg in city driving and 36 mpg on the highway for the manual transmission, and 22/35 city/highway mileage for the automatic. The Eco model of the Chevy Cruz is expected to get as much as 40 mpg on the highway.

The advertising campaign created for the Cruz includes television spots, social media ads, car show exhibits, and events. According to Joel Ewanick, VP of U.S. Marketing for Chevrolet: "Tim Allen brings the right combination of a recognizable voice with the credibility, likeability and humor that will connect with viewers." Ewanick also stated: "His passion for all things cars makes him the perfect match for the Chevrolet brand."

Lotus City Car Concepts Leak

On: Fri, Sep 3, 2010 at 4:45PM | By: Chris Weiss

Lotus City Car Concepts Leak  test 1-1

Information and pictures about Lotus' "dawn of a new era" to commence at this year's Paris Motor Show are just seeping out all over the Web. Following Lotus' official preview of the Evora S and IPS and a report that identified the four concepts that Lotus will be showing at the show, grainy pictures of two of the concepts have leaked.

Mini Working on a Two-Door Countryman Off-Roader

On: Fri, Sep 3, 2010 at 4:09PM | By: Chris Weiss

Autocar Rendering  test 2

Thanks to the success of the BMW X6, BMW-owned Mini may offer an off-road-capable coupe for those that crave something a little smaller. The company is currently beginning design work on a coupe version of its recently released Countryman five-door crossover. The new model would be a coupe aimed squarely at Range Rover's new Evoque, which will make its world debut at the Paris Motor Show in late September/October. If approved, the new Mini could hit the market as soon as 2013.

According to an Autocar report, Mini is currently considering several possible designs for the new concept. A four-door variant with no B-pillars and rear suicide doors is one direction under consideration, and a more traditional two-door model is the other. The car will feature a sloping, coupe-like roofline similar to that seen on the Evoque.

If Mini goes through with the Countryman coupe, it's expected to offer a car that undercuts the pricing of the Evoque while boasting better overall fuel economy and improved city driving. Speculation indicates a price of as low as £20,000.

The Range Rover Evoque, which was unveiled in July, will make its world auto show debut at the 2010 Paris Motor Show. It will be offered in both two-door and four-door varieties and will be the first Land Rover to offer a front-wheel-drive configuration. It will be Land Rover's smallest, lightest model, but will cost more than the Land Rover LR2 due to its sportier, more luxurious build.

The Countryman coupe is just one of several models that Mini is considering. The company is also developing a city car concept in the vein of the Smart ForTwo. That model is expected to feature a two seat or 2 + 1 layout and debut next year. Autoweek reported last month that that concept might debut at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show.

Toyota Sales Decline but Still in The Lead For Retail

On: Fri, Sep 3, 2010 at 3:28PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Toyota Sales Decline but Still in The Lead For Retail  test 1-1

Toyota Division U.S. sales fell 34% in August resulting in 1% down so far in 2010, but and are now down 1 percent for the year to date but Toyota’s  General Manager Bob Carter states he “isn’t panicking,”  according to a recent automotive news article.

During last year’s “cash for clunkers” program, Toyota sold more cars than any other automaker with 50% more in sales.  That resulted in the Japanese automaker having a difficult goal to reach this year in order to post a sales gain for 2010.

Regardless of the challenge, Toyota has maintained the number one ranked automaker for retail sales in August, and the Camry remained the top selling car (as it has historically).  According to Automotive News; fleet sales were less than last years’ sales at 6% of total sales volume, compared with 9% for the year in 2009.

Toyota Manager Bob Carter stated; “The numbers don’t look very pretty, but August was a fair month for Toyota.” Carter also made mention to the fact that August sales were just slightly below July numbers for 2010.

Toyota reports spending on incentives was at about $2,200 per vehicle, Toyota notoriously has not had a history of offering lucrative sales incentives to customers, but drastic times require drastic measure and the Japanese automaker has stepped up to the plate.

GM Plans to Pitch to Investors After Elections

On: Fri, Sep 3, 2010 at 10:05AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

GM Plans to Pitch to Investors After Elections test 1-1

Two sources have recently announced that the long awaited General Motors’ initial public offering is planned to price on November 17th and debut on the 18th of November. The dates are not set in stone and are subject to change, depending on the stock market.

GM plans to begin pitching its IPO to potential investors on November 3rd, after the congressional elections. Waiting until the end of the year allows the company to report profits from the last quarter, although GM has already forewarned that the second half of the year will show an expected decline in sales as compared to the first half.

This is perhaps one of the biggest initial public offerings in U.S. history (since 2008 when Visa’s IPO transpired), as GM has listed the company as being worth as much as $20 billion. Although the government has not yet announced how much of its GM stock will be sold, analysts are projecting that the common stock will sell for as much as $12-$16 billion with the preferred stock (that would convert to common stock under a mandatory provision) going for up to $4 billion.

The U.S. government invested $50 billion of taxpayer money into the automaker and subsequently owns a 61% stake. The stock offering will reduce the governments’ stake in the company, but no one knows for sure just how much.

Ferrari Solves 458 Fires, Plans Recall

On: Fri, Sep 3, 2010 at 10:03AM | By: Chris Weiss

Ferrari Solves 458 Fires, Plans Recall test 1-1

Just a week after announcing that it was looking into fire issues on its 458 Italia, Ferrari has identified the problem at the heart of some of the fires and intends to issue a recall to repair it. The news comes as media sources have reported at least 10 fires and accidents involving the 458 in the past three months, leading some to go so far as to speculate that the model is jinxed.

The problem that Ferrari identified as the cause of the fires is an adhesive that binds the engine heat shield to the wheel arch assemblies can overheat, smoke and catch fire. Ferrari says that the problem happens in hot ambient temperatures and when the car is driven aggressively (read: driven like a 458 Italia).

A Ferrari spokesperson explained the issue to Autocar: "When the car is driven to high exhaust temperatures, in hot ambient temperatures, the adhesive used in the wheelarch assemblies can overheat and allow the rear wheel housing heat shields to move around. In extreme cases, the glue can begin to smoke and even catch fire."

Chevy to Begin Volt Production on Veterans Day

On: Fri, Sep 3, 2010 at 9:57AM | By: Chris Weiss

Chevy to Begin Volt Production on Veterans Day  test 1-1

We've known for some time that the Chevy Volt will be hitting the market this November, but the exact date when the assembly lines would begin churning out Volts has been a mystery until this week. According to an exclusive on AOL Autos, Chevy will ramp up production on Veterans Day. That's November 11 for you unpatriotic folk.

A national holiday seems like an odd day to begin production, but according to GM it's merely a coincidence. GM spokesman Rob Peterson is quoted by NY Times Wheels as stating: " “We’ve said our target of mid-November is tied to many things — suppliers, engineering, production facilities. It’s definitely not tied to a holiday.” That's good, because Veterans Day didn't seem to have a whole lot to do with Chevy's buzzed up range-extender.

The Volt is scheduled to be a gradual release vehicle beginning in California. GM plans to produce 10,000 Volts this year, but has not yet indicated how many Volts will be going to individual dealers. The company plans to do that on November 17 after production begins. Other initial markets will include New York, Michigan, Connecticut, Texas, New Jersey and Washington D.C.

Chevy plans to build between 30,000 and 45,000 Volts next year. GM reportedly intends to make numerous headlines around the time Volt production begins, engaging in a concentrated media blitz. The company may tie the Volt launch media campaign in with its upcoming IPO offering.

The Volt is a range-extending plug-in hybrid that uses a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine to boost the 40-mile range of its 111 kW electric motor to over 300 miles. Owners will be able to charge the lithium-ion battery in about 10 hours via regular 120 V outlets or in about four using a dedicated 240 V outlet. The car carries a base price of $41,000 and will be available for lease starting at $350 per month.

Initially, Chevy advertised fuel economy numbers for the Volt as high as 230 mpg, but has since abandoned those claims as the EPA restructures the way that economy ratings are calculated for hybrids and electrics.

Given the amount of buzz that has been surrounding the Volt for years, GM has a lot riding on a successful launch.