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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry




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.


The Aftermath: Toyota's Sales To Drop After Incentives Dry Up

On: Thu, Sep 2, 2010 at 4:04PM | By: Chris Weiss


The Aftermath: Toyota's Sales To Drop After Incentives Dry Up  test 1-1

If the average person had to guess how Toyota's sales have been over the past year, I'd imagine he'd guess that they've been rock bottom. Toyota's public persona has been one of an embattled automaker struggling desperately with dire safety problems and government investigations.

In reality, however, things haven't been that bad for Toyota. In fact, according to the company's numbers, U.S. sales for the first half of this year actually increased by about 10 percent year-over-year from 2009. And after its fiscal year ended in March, Toyota reported a $2.25 billion profit. Not only does that figure make the $16.4 million fine imposed by the NHTSA over recall delays look paltry, it represents a significant leap forward from the previous year when Toyota actually lost money.

Sales incentives, both from programs like Cash for Clunkers and from Toyota itself, played a major role in keeping U.S. sales strong despite ongoing image problems. Now the automaker faces a new set of hurdles in Japan, where the impending end of government incentives is expected to cause a major sales decrease in auto sales. Toyota and the greater Japanese auto industry are bracing for the hard times to come.


Dodge Durango Launches In Anger

On: Thu, Sep 2, 2010 at 3:39PM | By: John Welch


Dodge Durango Launches In Anger test 1-1

Chrysler has always had trouble unloading SUVs that don't carry "Jeep" badges. Remember the Ram Charger? Chevy sold five C/K Blazers for every Ram Charger. Ford sold seven Broncos for each Ram Charger. Yikes, not good! The numbers get worse for the Durango. The Ford Explorer absolutely trounced the Durango in every calculable sales statistic during the nineties and early 2000s.

Dodge is rebooting and revamping its mid-size contender for 2011, and just like its Jeep cousin, the Grand Cherokee, the Durango is completely new. In many ways, this Dodge represents the first in a string of new products designed to shed the Ram brand's poor reputation for out-dated styling and technology. You can't glean too much from pictures and descriptions, but on paper this well balanced ute might be a winner. It looks pretty good as well.

Slab sided, proportional body panels converge on muscular headlights and a complicated chrome grille. This grille, I'm sure, can be ordered in flat-black. It marks the first time I have been taken aback by a Chrysler design that wasn't packing ten cylinders. The Durango is attractive in the way Gina Gershon is attractive; rough around the edges but still a solid knock-out. Some of that appeal may come from Gina's ability to knock you out, and that trait may also extend to the Durango. This is an impressive machine, on the outside. Like any good Corvette, the worst part about Chrysler products is their cheapo, Little Tykes interiors . . . how does the Durango look from the driver’s seat?


 

GM Plans to Resolve Bankruptcy

On: Thu, Sep 2, 2010 at 2:38PM | By: Sherry Christiansen


GM Plans to Resolve Bankruptcy test 1-1

In automotive news today, Motors Liquidation Co., the former General Motors, has announced that it plans to come out of bankruptcy. The plan was submitted and but not yet confirmed in U.S. court. Over a year ago, General Motors was in bankruptcy court struggling to exist. Now, the automaker is laying the groundwork to sell stock to the public once again with the eventual goal of ridding itself of government ownership as it creates an exit strategy to come out of bankruptcy. It’s been quite a haul for the Detroit Big 3 automaker.

General Motors Co. filed the initial paperwork required to hold an IPO last month. The 700-page document submitted to SEC regulators laid risks for potential investors considering buying GM stock. GM didn't disclose exactly how many shares would be offered or the precise date, although experts say the IPO could come as early as October. The company also failed to mention how many shares the government (GM’s majority owner) plans to get rid of.

Such a sale would eventually lead to the government reducing its stake in the automaker. Ed Whitacre, the company’s former CEO, said government ownership has damaged GM's public image and adversely affected sales. However, GM warned in its filing that the U.S. Treasury would continue to own a "substantial interest" in the automaker following the IPO. In the plan to release itself from bankruptcy, the company will transfer all of its assets and liabilities into 4 different trusts and distribute its stock and warrants to unsecured creditors through its upcoming IPO.  

According to Automotive News.com: “Motors Liquidation is the shell of General Motors that retained all of GM's old unwanted assets and liabilities after the "new GM"—renamed General Motors Co—emerged from bankruptcy protection last year by completing a sale of its best assets, such as Chevrolet and Cadillac, to a new company funded by the U.S. Treasury.”

Motors Liquidation Co. is a 10% owner in GM stock and it “warrants exercisable for a further 15 percent of General Motors common stock on a fully diluted basis,” according to Reuters.

The 1st quarter of 2011 is the target date for Motors Liquidation Co. to receive confirmation of the plan by the court system; by then the company anticipates that much of the unsecured claims will be resolved. 


Toyota Verso-S Debuts in Upcomming Paris Auto Show

On: Thu, Sep 2, 2010 at 1:54PM | By: Sherry Christiansen


Toyota Verso-S Debuts in Upcomming Paris Auto Show test 1-1

Toyota will be unveiling many new models at the Paris Motor Show this fall, including the Verso-S, a "small, spacious and smart" vehicle. While details are limited, the model will have iQ-inspired styling with many options for interior features. Toyota is keeping most of the specs of the Verso-S silent until the Motor Show press release on September 30th, but the company has revealed that the Verso-S is likely to go on sale in the UK early in 2011.

Measuring less than 13 feet in length, Toyota says the Verso-S will be the most compact B-segment MPV in Europe, but points out that the Verso-S has been designed and engineered with comfort and practicality in mind, offering the maximum use of the seating and cargo space that the vehicle does have. Toyota also plans to introduce many other new and refreshed models at the Paris Motor Show including a revised interior for the compact iQ, and the launch of the Prius Plug-in Hybrid, and the Auris HSD (Hybrid Synergy Drive). 

Other highlights of the show that Toyota is planning include the Hybrid Synergy Drive Gallery and the FT-CH concept, which originally debuted at the 2010 North American International Auto Show.


Auto Loan Credit Terms Improve

On: Thu, Sep 2, 2010 at 11:56AM | By: Sherry Christiansen


Auto Loan Credit Terms Improve  test 1-1

Experian Automotive (the institution in charge of collecting and reporting consumer’s auto credit data) has reported for the 2nd consecutive quarter that auto loan delinquencies are declining.  So what does that mean to new car buyers? As lending institutions begin to collect more payments on time, auto loan terms (including rates) improve for all borrowers and credit becomes available to more consumers. This will have a direct impact on the automotive industry as a whole, resulting in increased sales which will subsequently help the economy.

The 30-day delinquency rate for auto loans declined from 3.07 in 2009, to 2.89 in the second quarter of 2010, and the number of 60-day delinquent payments also fell from 0.8 to 0.71.

President of Experian, Scott Waldron, stated: “A drop in delinquencies year over year is a positive sign for both the lending and automotive industries.” Waldren also commented: “The fact that we've seen a drop for the second consecutive quarter is an indication that there could be a light at the end of the tunnel for the economy.”

As loan delinquencies drop, the number of subprime loans that are approved goes up because lenders begin to “loosen credit terms,” according to Experian. In fact, compared to the second quarter of 2009, the number of reported subprime loans that were approved this year was 16.73% as compared to only 16% last year.  Subprime lending is said to have increased in the mortgage industry in the most recent period as well.


(STI)LL Got It!

On: Thu, Sep 2, 2010 at 9:46AM | By: Lou Ruggieri


(STI)LL Got It! test 1-1

As most of us have found out, slowly over time our bodies begin to disappoint us. With age tends to come a slowing of our speed and reaction. Weight begins to become more and more difficult to lose,  joints tend to creak and complain in ways unimaginable in years prior, and, for some, hair begins to exist more and more inside their head rather than on it.  

It seems that (automotive) art, does, in fact, imitate life. Subaru’s top dog, the WRX STI, burst on the scene in 2004 with a huge wing, gold BBS wheels, 300 horsepower, and a ton of boy-racer attitude aimed directly at its Mitsubishi made enemy, the EVO. After four years of street fighting, the STI aged like all the rest of us, and it was time for a change.  

In 2008 the STI did grow up, and out. The super-Subie did get more refined (as most of us do as we age), by smoothing out its ride, dialing up less twitch on its steering, and a going through big body change. It seems that in its middle age the STI got … Well … Big.  In hatch only form, the 2008-2010 STI gained a bit in the way of handling due to suspension improvements and chassis rigidity, but it lost a lot more of its hardcore following.  With only a five horsepower increase, it seemed the round shape was taken more as a sign of the STI letting itself go.  

However, for 2011 Subaru has put its Alpha model back in the gym.  Although the quoted 0-60 time for the STI is still a conservative 4.9 seconds, and its 2.5 liter turbo engine is still pumping at 14.7 psi of boost and putting down the same 305 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 290 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm as the outgoing model had, the car itself has taken on a wholly new, yet familiar shape, and can now fit in those old jeans again.  


New Details On Lotus Concepts Emerge

On: Thu, Sep 2, 2010 at 9:28AM | By: Chris Weiss


New Details On Lotus Concepts Emerge test 1-1

We got an official sneak preview of the Lotus Evora S and Evora IPS coming to the 2010 Paris Motor Show earlier this week, and we now have a not-so-official preview of the four concepts that Lotus will be debuting at the show. The concepts are expected to showcase a new paradigm for Lotus, a shift from the smaller, lighter, cheaper ethic that has guided it for the past several years onward toward a heavier, cleaner and more performance oriented direction.

We've been hearing whispers about an Esprit revival concept and three other concepts, and a report yesterday in Autoweek shed some light on exactly what those other concepts might look like. The report cites the ever- simple "sources" as to where it derived the information.


GM and Ford Post Double Digit Declines in August

On: Thu, Sep 2, 2010 at 9:13AM | By: Sherry Christiansen


GM and Ford Post Double Digit Declines in August  test 1-1

Ford Motor Co. reported a 10.7% drop in August U.S. sales to 157,503 cars and trucks after the government's cash-for-clunkers promotion skewed last year’s results. The best-selling F-Series pickup and the Taurus sedan were bright spots, while the Focus and Fusion both reported double-digit declines. General Motors Co.—presently named Motors Liquidation Co.—posted a 25% decline in August sales, ending the automaker's streak of seven straight monthly sales gains.

Sales of Buick, Cadillac, and GMC dropped 11% last month, while Chevrolet shows a 22% decline, according to the automaker’s statement today. While Chevy’s retail sales of full-size pick-up trucks and SUVs rose 8%  last month, sales of many of Chevrolet’s top-selling vehicles such as the Impala, Cobalt, Equinox, Traverse, and Camaro declined drastically from August 2009, according to GM. GM's August sales were down 7.3% when compared to July 2010—when GM posted U.S. light vehicle sales of 199,602. The yearly sales record for GM is even worse at 28.9% lower than August of 2009. Last year the auto industry profited as consumers took advantage of the federal government's “cash for clunkers” program. But GM suffered a 20% sales decline its first month after exiting bankruptcy. Ford Motor Co.'s August sales were reportedly 14% lower than 2009’s August numbers, when the cash for clunkers program helped to boost auto sales. This was the first month Ford has reported a drop in sales since September of 2009.

According to GM’s VP of US sales and operations, “Last year's Cash for Clunkers program spiked industry sales in 2009, so results this August were, not surprisingly, a bit mixed. Importantly, three of our four divisions showed solid gains.”


Nissan Confirms Murano Convertible and Ellure Concept For Paris

On: Wed, Sep 1, 2010 at 3:48PM | By: Chris Weiss


Nissan Confirms Murano Convertible and Ellure Concept For Paris test 1-1

Well, after years of speculation, renderings and all-out head scratching, Nissan has confirmed that it has a Murano convertible on the way this year. The company issued a statement this week confirming rumors that the Murano convertible will be unveiled at the 2010 LA Auto Show. The statement also indicates that the odd crossover-convertible will be joined by the Ellure, a four-door concept, and Leaf and Quest production models.

The Murano convertible will be officially named the 2012 Murano CrossCabriolet, which coincidentally or not is very similar to the Audi Cross Cabriolet concept debuted at the 2007 LA Auto Show--the closest thing to the Murano convertible that the world has seen. Nissan describes the significance of the Murano convertible in that it is the "world’s first all-wheel drive crossover convertible." Indeed, Nissan will break new ground (quite possibly ground that should have always remained intact) when it unveils the car.

Nissan hasn't given any more indication of the design or powertrain of the CrossCabriolet, outside of stating that it will carry a premium level interior and enough room for four adults with luggage in back. The model is expected to lose two doors along with its hard roof.