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The Prius Plug-In Hybrid is Delivered for Testing in Canada

On: Mon, Aug 30, 2010 at 1:52PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

The Prius Plug-In Hybrid is Delivered for Testing in Canada  test 1-1

Toyota Canada has delivered a Prius Plug-In Hybrid (Pruis PHV) to its testing partners (the Province of Ontario Ministry of Energy and Transportation) in Ontario today in a ceremony dedicated to honoring the new hybrid electric plug-in concept car.

Many prestigious Canadians showed up to observe the ceremony, including the Deputy Mayor of the City of Toronto, and Toyota Canada’s President Yoichi, to name a few.

According to a spokesperson for the Minister of Energy: "The McGuinty government is pleased to be a partner in this pilot project, which will help provide us with data needed to build province-wide charging infrastructure for electric vehicles—a core element of our Smart Grid vision." Brad Duguid also stated; "The Smart Grid will not only play an important role in achieving our goal of having one electric car for every 20 vehicles on the road by 2020, it will also make it easier to bring smaller renewable energy projects on-line under our Green Energy Act."

Toyota says that the Prius PHV, with its upgraded hybrid synergy drive system powered by lithium-ion batteries, is projected to reach speeds of up to 62 mph on electricity alone. It has the ability to sustain 62 mph on electric-only power for up to 12.5 miles. Additionally, the vehicle will be able to accelerate up 62 mph from a standing start without using its gasoline engine, though Toyota makes no mention of how long it will take to reach 62 mph in full EV mode.

Analysts Predict U.S. Automotive Industry Recovery Rate

On: Mon, Aug 30, 2010 at 11:42AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Analysts Predict U.S. Automotive Industry Recovery Rate  test 1-1

The U.S. auto industry has historically been a primary indicator of how well the economy is doing. Therefore, financial analysts were pleased to report that in July retail auto sales were up, indicating that economic recovery was looking promising. As reported in an automotive news article it, “felt like it dodged a bullet in July when retail sales to consumers held up and confounded forecasts for a drop,” but when August rolled around, the numbers started to fall and the optimism for a quick turn-around of the recession plummeted.

But the game isn’t quite over yet; August sales will forecast the future outlook of what most experts are projecting will be a “slower-than-expected industry recovery,” just as General Motors prepares for its Initial Public Offering. 

This effect on the auto industry is said to result from consumers’ hesitancy to purchase new automobiles because of high unemployment rates and job uncertainty; simply stated, a lack of consumer confidence.

Ford Receives a Rare Specimen in an Auto Parts Shipment

On: Mon, Aug 30, 2010 at 9:38AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ford Receives a Rare Specimen in an Auto Parts Shipment test 1-1

In recent automotive news, it seems that Ford Motor Company is importing more than cars to its Sterling Heights Van Dyke Transmission Plant.  A very rare lizard, thought to have stowed away in a shipment of automotive transmission parts, now has a new home in the Detroit Zoo. The lizard, a Yucatan Spiny-Tailed Iguana, was discovered on a Ford loading dock in Detroit on July 29th.

To illustrate how rare the creature really is: it is said that this particular lizard can be found only in a 1,200 square mile area of the Yucatan Peninsula.  
One of the smallest ( usually only up to a foot), yet most vividly colored, of the 14 spiny-tailed iguana species is the Yucatan Spiny-Tailed Iguana. Typically, it is a rainbow of colors, with a blue head, black and white chest, red lower back, and a grey, heavily armored tail. This tail has several rows of tiny spines, giving the species its common name of ‘spiny-tailed.' On average, male Yucatan spiny-tailed iguanas tend to be slightly larger than females and the species is not known to be poisonous despite its bright color. 

2011 Lexus IS Revealed Even Before Its Debut at the Paris Auto Show

On: Mon, Aug 30, 2010 at 9:19AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

2011 Lexus IS Revealed Even Before Its Debut at the Paris Auto Show test 1-1

Even before the debut at the Paris Motor Show, Lexus has disclosed details of the new 2011 IS model. The new Lexus looks pretty much the same as last year's model, however, the exterior styling changes including headlight and rear light designs, revised front grille design, new exterior colors, and alloy wheel designs, as well as LED daytime running lights added to high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights.

Revisions elsewhere in the IS include improvements to the SE-I specs to with new rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming electrochromic rear view mirror, and new leather upholstery with heated front seats. The IS F-Sport step-up model has received a new front spoiler, a modified spoiler in the rear, a revised front grille, as well as 18-inch alloy wheels. Inside the cabin the IS gets upgraded with a new “titanium effect,” as well as an anthracite headliner. Focus on the styling changes is on the F-Sport grade, which now duplicates more closely the appearance of its high-performance sister, the IS F. Lexus hopes to appeal to younger car buyers with this marketing strategy.

Inside the sports factor continues with F-Sport steering wheel, gear lever and sports pedals, and front seats finished in leather and Alcantara. Extra touches of titanium-effect trim and a dark, anthracite roof liner are also new with the 2011 model.


McLaren Embarks On North American Tour

On: Mon, Aug 30, 2010 at 9:14AM | By: Chris Weiss

McLaren Embarks On North American Tour test 1-1

If you happen to live in some of the country's more exclusive urban markets, and happen to be in the market for a $250,000 supercar, you might want to get a copy of McLaren's tour schedule. After debuting its new MP4-12C at the Concours d'Elegance in Pebble Beach, McLaren is embarking on a tour around North America to show its latest creation to potential customers. The tour will hit such areas as Chicago, New York City (Greenwich, CT) and Miami.

The MP4-12C's official North American debut was earlier this month in Pebble Beach. The company showed off a Supernova Silver 12C, Titanium Silver 12C and an XP13 rolling chassis to a crowd of about 1,000 at the event. Guests included California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and known car hound Jay Leno.

With the official unveiling of the supercar, McLaren is ready to begin pushing it to future customers. After Pebble Beach, the company moved on to its future Beverly Hills retail partner The Auto Gallery. Other dealer locations where McLaren will travel in the coming weeks include Pfaff Automotive Partner in Toronto on September 1 and 2, and  Lake Forest Sportscars in Chicago; Park Place in Dallas; Miller Motorcars in Greenwich, Connecticut; Price Family Dealerships in San Francisco; Dew Luxury Motor Cars in Tampa Bay and The Collection McLaren in the Miami area sometime thereafter. McLaren will also add Philadelphia and Newport Beach, California to the schedule.

Ford recalls 575,000 Windstar Minivans

On: Mon, Aug 30, 2010 at 9:09AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

 Ford recalls 575,000 Windstar Minivans  test 1-1

Ford Motor Co. has announced that the company is voluntarily recalling as many as 575,000 Windstar minivans that were sold in Canada and the United States, due to a problem with rear axles that have a potential for breaking as a result of corrosion.

According to the Nation Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), vehiclesinvolved in the recall include 1996 to 2003 model year Windstar vans that have been located in 21 cold weather states (and Canada). The NHTSA stated that the design of the axle appears to allow it to collect road salt slush, leading to rust.

A recent announcement posted on the NHTSA website by Ford Motor Co stated: “after many years of vehicle service in these areas, corrosion can weaken the rear axle, making it susceptible to stress.”

Approximately 950 complaints were filed regarding rear axle cracks; 7 of those complaints involved accidents that allegedly resulted in three injuries, according to a Ford spokesperson. Ford announced that the company will fix all of the recalled vehicles at no cost to the customers using brackets that will serve to reinforce the defective rear axle.

Fisker Releases Promo Video For Its Karma Plug-In

On: Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 5:05PM | By: Chris Weiss

Fisker Releases Promo Video For Its Karma Plug-In  test 1-1

So far the high-end plug-in sports car market has been dominated by the Lotus-based Tesla Roadster. However, there has long been a competitor waiting in the wings. Fisker, the California-based venture started by former BMW designer Henrik Fisker, has the very sexy, sporty Karma plug-in hybrid on the way, a car that will deliver 403 electric ponies and cost well under $100K. The luxury sedan is expected to launch next year and Fisker put up a promotional video of it in action to whet our appetites.

The Fisker Karma features a powertrain that combines two rear-mounted 200-hp electric motors and a 260-hp 2.0-liter  turbocharged four-cylinder engine sourced from GM. Powered by a 200 kW lithium ion battery pack, the electric motors spin the axle, while the gas engine serves as a generator when the batteries are depleted. The Karma promises up to 50 miles of all-electric driving before any gas is required. When you factor the four-cylinder in, the Karma has an overall range of 300 miles. Fisker claims fuel economy numbers of more than 100 mpg.

The two electric motors deliver up to 959 lb-ft of torque and push the four-door to 60 mph in about six seconds. The car's top speed is 125 mph. In electric-only mode, the car hits 60 mph in 7.9 seconds and tops out at 95 mph.

Fisker complements its eco-friendly powertrain with a what can only be viewed as a perfect storm of green. Upon looking at the car, it's hard to miss the roof covered in solar panels. Those panels produce electricity that powers the lithium-ion battery with electricity used for the motors and climate control system. The exterior is coated in recycled glass flake paint. The interior features leather sourced from an energy sufficient plant, a blend of rescued, fallen and sunken wood, and eco-suede. To protect our most valuable natural resource, the Karma includes exterior speakers to warn nearby pedestrians of its presence.

The Karma made its world debut at the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. It was expected to go into production this year, but due to unspecified delays, production has been pushed back. It will run $87,900 when it hits the market. Production is now expected to begin next year.

Driver Swap For Corvette At Mosport

On: Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 4:51PM | By: John Welch

Driver Swap For Corvette At Mosport test 1-1

Corvette Racing is used to winning everything, with relative ease. That was the case during the better part of this century, when GT1 was viable and the team dominated all comers with their C5 and C6.Rs. Switching to GT2 (now simply 'GT') has caused a few wrinkles in the yellow-and-black armor, and Doug Fehan, Corvette Racing Director, is doing the best to win with what he has. Namely, new cars, in a new class, but veteran drivers, all of which are consummate professionals.

They nearly took the GT2 crown at Le Mans this year; if it wasn't for Anthony Davidson and his over enthusiastic prototype piloting. Though not racing for position, or even in the same class, Davidson's Peugeot punted the GT2-leading Corvette ZR1 off the track following the Mulsanne Straight, totally uncalled for. This incident is indicative of Corvette Racing's GT2 campaign as a whole; supremely promising, but with severe setbacks. Only one win to show, the 2009 Mobil 1 Grand Prix of Mosport, does not properly illustrate the effort the team has put forth. Dynamic rules in GT1 allowed carbon brakes, relocated engines, and full-floor diffusers, not so in GT2. The GT2 Corvette ZR1 is a totally new car, with half the prowess of the old C6.R. And it hasn't worked too well so far.

With this in mind Fehan is shaking up his driver pairings. No one is losing their job, as Corvette Racing employs four of the best drivers in the world. The team is simply rearranging its line up, separating Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin. Gavin will pair with Jan Magnusson, as they did for endurances races during the 2004-'06 seasons. Johnny O' Connell and Beretta will drive together for the first time, but again, these are total professionals; there should be no serious hassle with the driver change.

Ford Resumes Shipment of Fiestas

On: Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 10:39AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ford Resumes Shipment of Fiestas  test 1-1

Although all signs point to the fact that the Ford Fiesta is a hit; it’s difficult to understand exactly what is going on in the market as Ford has recently halted shipments of the compact car on several different occasions, including the latest delay resulting from a quality problem with a single part that had to be replaced before thousands of Fiestas could be shipped to customers.

A spokesperson for Ford Motor Corporation has stated that approximately 2,300 Fiestas were checked and only around 12 actually had a problem. The additional checks slowed delivery by an extra 3-4 weeks. Ford refused to report exactly what the problem was, but according to an undisclosed spokesperson there was an issue with the seat adjustment lever.

The Fiesta was part of a new initiative on Ford’s behalf, aimed at targeting younger consumers in the car buying market through social media, similar to what Toyota has done with the Scion brand.  

According to Mark Fields of Ford Motor Co.: "The reception by consumers has really been encouraging."  Ford reported North American sales have reached 4.400 from the launch of the Fiesta in May of this year.

Rob Partelo and Winner's Circle Racing

On: Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 10:04AM | By: John Welch

Rob Partelo and Winner's Circle Racing test 1-1

Diving head-first into local motorsports, our sister-site, AutoShopper.com has sponsored a local circle-track stand out, Rob Patelo and Winner's Circle Racing. Tonight you have a chance to meet the team and drivers at the Pinellas Park Boys & Girls Club's Grand opening, tonight, from 5:30 until dark.

Pinellas' new Boys and Girls Club is located at 7790 61st Street N. Pinellas Park. Rob will have his late-model Chevy Impala on hand as well as his son Cole's Mini Cup Car. The Winner's Circle Team will be handing out AutoShopper.com freebies, and will be taking donations for the United Way and Boys and Girls Club. If you are in the area stop by say 'Hello', enjoy the machines and grab some AutoShopper.com swag!

Winner's Circle is a full service used car dealer, located at 4242 54th Avenue North, Saint Petersburg, FL 33714, they can be reached at 727-526-0046. With over 95 vehicles available, they have your transport needs covered. Offering full warranties, buy here pay here, and guaranteed financing, Rob is also buying cars. Search their AutoShopper.com ad for some stellar deals!

The AutoShopperBlog will be covering Rob's races, but you can meet him tonight from 5:30 to dark. One more time, here is the address:

Pinellas Park Boys & Girls Club

7790 61st Street N.

Pinellas Park, FL 33781

Not All Recalls Are Created Equal

On: Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 5:12PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Not All Recalls Are Created Equal test 1-1

When Mazda Motor Corp. announced the most recent recall involving a half a million Mazda3 models worldwide, with defects that could potentially result in loss of power steering (which has allegedly caused at least three crashes), the press did not report. Just another of a string of recalls right? Well, maybe not; when the history of the problem is really examined some may wonder “where’s the outrage?” Which is the question the title of a recent Automotive News article poses.

When the facts are examined, it’s interesting to note that Mazda, being a Japanese automaker with its headquarters in Hiroshima, Japan, instantly brings to mind a comparison with Toyota; Mazda recalling half a million vehicles with potential life threatening risks that could occur from sudden loss of power steering, and Toyota Corp. recalling thousands of vehicles for potential problems with sudden unintended acceleration. All things being equal, it seems that both automakers would receive equal press, particularly considering that Mazda, like Toyota, didn’t inform the U.S. public of its knowledge of power steering problems even though Mazda had knowledge of potential risks for fatal accidents for at least 1 year prior to the recall.

Yes, that’s right, one year. Federal regulators began an investigation in June of the Mazda3 models equipped with electronically assisted power steering as a result of complaints that had been filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Mazda replied with a letter dated August 12th stating: “rust that forms within the steering hydraulic system can damage a motorized pump, triggering an automatic shutdown to prevent overheating.”