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2011 Ford Explorer Up Close and Personal

On: Fri, Aug 6, 2010 at 3:57PM | By: Chris Weiss

2011 Ford Explorer Up Close and Personal  test 1-1

Ford eschewed the usual auto show release when it unveiled the 2011 Explorer through Facebook back in July. However, that doesn't mean the automaker won't be spending plenty of time traveling the country to show off its latest creation. Demonstrating that the Explorer isn't going to shirk from the real outdoors just because it switched to a car platform and lost its transfer case, Ford had the new Explorer on display at the Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City this week. Outdoor Retailer is the outdoor sports industry's ground zero for new products, and Ford being there shows that the company is more than willing to defend the new SUV's versatility and outdoor worthiness.

The new Explorer's DNA is a careful compromise between performance and capability on one side and efficiency and practicality on the other. Certain voices within the media have been quick to question and criticize Ford's decision to trade in some of the Explorer's capability and power, but Ford remains confident in the move, feeling that its latest release reflects what consumers want: enough off-road and towing capability for the campground dirt road, or other light-duty off-roading, inside a slimmer, more economic ride.

Hyundai Looks to Lead the Way in Efficiency

On: Fri, Aug 6, 2010 at 11:43AM | By: Chris Weiss

2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid test 2

Hyundai announced intentions of averaging 50 mpg across its entire line by 2025, pushing to continue its leading role in fuel efficiency. Hyundai's plan, which was announced earlier this week, pushes ahead of U.S. government requirements that dictate an average of 35.5 mpg by 2016. Prior to the NHTSA requirements of 35.5 mpg by 2016, Hyundai had announced intentions of reaching 35 mpg by 2015. Hyundai is clearly embracing the future of efficient technology and looking to maintain an industry lead that it's enjoyed since 2008.

Tesla Posts Second Quarter Loss

On: Fri, Aug 6, 2010 at 11:32AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

2011 Tesla Roadster 2.5 test 2

In its first earnings report since its initial public offering in June, Tesla Motors Inc. reported a second quarter loss of $38.5 million, or $5.04 a share, up from about $10.8 million or $1.56 per share in the same quarter last year.

According to Musk the number one goal for Tesla this year is to build a prototype of the S Model Sedan that is very close (80-90%) to the final production model.The initial public offering was in fact, one of the few lucrative IPO’s in 2010.  Tesla actually raised approximately $226 million when it offered 13.3 shares for sale to the public.  Historically, this was the very first United States automobile companies to go public since Ford Motor Company in 1956. Palo Alto-based Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA.O) reports second quarter revenue of $28.4 million, up from $26.9 million in the same quarter last year.

2011 Nissan GT-R

On: Fri, Aug 6, 2010 at 10:56AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

2011 Nissan GT-R test 1-1

Two years into its existence, has Nissan mastered the GT-R? The verdict is still out, but everything is pointing towards yes. Since the GT-R’s 2009 debut in the United States, Nissan has improved the vehicle by deleting and adding, as necessary, to make this vehicle what it is today. From its power to its design and features, the 2011 GT-R is a roaring beast in its class.

The power of the 2011 GT-R is absolutely breath taking. The base level shrouded from American consumers, the Premium is all that remains for purchasing.  What does the Premium have? Everything! Rocking a 3.8L twin-turbocharged engine, kicking 485 ponies out, with 434 pound-feet of torque, this vehicle will make those in the car idling next to it experience an adrenaline rush. Can you blame them? This car hits 60 mph in under four seconds and pushes through a quarter-mile in less than twelve seconds reaching a speed of just under 119 miles per hour. For those who like shifting gears Nissan dropped in a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission that makes the most amateur of shifters move through the gears like a pro.


OnStar To Deliver Mobile App Functionality Across GM Brands

On: Fri, Aug 6, 2010 at 10:14AM | By: Chris Weiss

OnStar To Deliver Mobile App Functionality Across GM Brands  test 1-1

Early this year, at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show, GM introduced an app for the Chevy Volt that brought basic vehicle controls like locking and unlocking doors to smartphones. With the growth of hybrid and electric vehicle technology, the lines between the automotive and consumer electronics markets are blurring, and the move appeared to be made to highlight the advanced technological aspects of the Volt plug-in. Today, GM announced that it won't be limiting app functionality to the 2011 Volt, or to plug-in vehicles; it will be offering apps for nearly all of its models beginning next year.

Geely Comes Out Gunning: Volvo to Offer 7 Series, S-Class Rival

On: Fri, Aug 6, 2010 at 9:48AM | By: Chris Weiss

Geely Comes Out Gunning: Volvo to Offer 7 Series, S-Class Rival  test 1-1

The ink has barely dried on the deal that sent Volvo from Ford to Chinese automaker Geely, but the latter is wasting no time in laying out big plans for its new brand. A top-ranking Geely official stated intentions of producing a Volvo-branded high-end luxury sedan to compete with top European offerings such as the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

In a press conference in London, Geely chief Li Shufu told the audience that he believes that Volvo has the technology and research capabilities needed to offer cars that can compete with (and fetch the prices of) other full-size premium models. Citing the aforementioned examples specifically, Shufu said: “At the moment we are competing with BMW, Audi and Mercedes, but we don’t have a product to compete with the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes S-class. We need to fill that gap."

Chevy Gets a Woody in an Artsy Sort of Way

On: Fri, Aug 6, 2010 at 9:23AM | By: Chris Weiss

Chevy Gets a Woody in an Artsy Sort of Way  test 1-1

Showing that you don't have to live in southern California to rock a little gnar, Chevrolet of Europe introduced the Spark Woody yesterday at the Boardmasters surf, skate and music festival in the U.K. The supermini hatch features a prominent serving of woody station wagon circa the 1950s and 60s. Unfortunately for anyone who thinks the surf-ready ride looks like what they've been craving in their driveways, the car is but a one-off art car that won't be available for sale.

Ford Starts Production of 2012 Focus at Michigan Plant

On: Thu, Aug 5, 2010 at 12:18PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

2012 Ford Focuses . .. Foci? idk . . . test 2

Ford has started the production of the 2012 Focus at the Michigan Assembly Plant, located in Wayne, Michigan. Early production of the Ford Focus will involve pre-production vehicles, built to allow Ford to test the final design and perfect the assembly process. The plant will start formal production later in the year.

The Michigan Assembly Plant was originally built to produce the F-150, Expedition, and Navigator. It has been completely redesigned in order to switch gears and produce smaller cars, such as the Ford Focus. Ford tooled the plant so that several variations of the new Focus could be produced there; one such model is the electric-powered version which will be launched in 2012.

The equipment within the plant is flexible enough to be able to switch production without retooling, which is normally very time consuming and expensive, but necessary when changes to the production model are made. For example: if the market suddenly changes and more electric models are being sold, Ford will be able to swiftly modify the productivity without as much overhead cost and produce those models that the market currently demands.

Early production of the Ford Focus at the Michigan plant will involve pre-production vehicles that are built in order for Ford to test the final design and perfect the assembly process. The plant will start formal production later in the year.Ford Starts Production of Focus at New Plant
Early production of the Ford Focus at the Michigan plant will involve pre-production vehicles that are built in order for Ford to test the final design and perfect the assembly process. The plant will start formal production later in the year.

Daytona Construction Well Underway, Piece of Track With Every Daytona 500 Ticket

On: Thu, Aug 5, 2010 at 11:25AM | By: John Welch

Daytona Construction Well Underway, Piece of Track With Every Daytona 500 Ticket test 1-1

As soon as the last Sprint Cup car disappeared into the Daytona International Speedway garage on the evening of July 3rd, the tarmac surrounding the 2.5 mile landmark began to tremble. It knew its time as the racing surface in Daytona was up. On July 5th, the tarmac realized its worst fears. Crews began disassembling the catch fence surrounding the track, trucking in construction equipment, and making the final preparations for the new track surface.

Now we crawl into August (I say 'crawl' because that is the fastest we can travel when outdoors in Florida; it’s very hot and an elevated heart rate will cause one's head to explode) and The AutoShopperBlog has a few DaytonaConstruction updates for you. Brothers operating cranes, tarmac for free, and month-one progress inside the post . . .

The Great Mini-Van Wars Of Aught Ten: Japanese Nissan Quest Revealed

On: Wed, Aug 4, 2010 at 3:42PM | By: John Welch

The Great Mini-Van Wars Of Aught Ten: Japanese Nissan Quest Revealed test 1-1

We have seen the redesigned Toyota Sienna, the brand new Honda Odyssey, but where is the third wheel in our Axis of Asian Mini-Vans? Nissan is getting around to it, just be patient.

I say things like that as if anyone cares about a bunch of MommieWagens whose popularity waned towards the end of the twentieth century, giving way to the rise of the fullsize SUV. Considering their tainted, dorkish reputation, these vehicles have a lot of work to do if they want to capture our collective, highly ego-driven American taste.

As far as the Sienna and Odyssey are concerned, these issues have been addressed. Decidedly butch, both bread boxes exude a much tougher persona, and in some ways overcook the, uhm, "rawness". The Toyota delivers an easily understood people-mover with a slightly edgy side. The Honda is a little less easy to comprehend; from a styling standpoint, anyway. Some of those angles . . . yikes. Otherwise, the Honda is as desirable as the Toyota, and, to me, both are far more desirable than any number of SUVs.

This rodeo is missing one bucking bronc, the Nissan Quest. As is custom with foreign automakers, the Japanese version of the Quest, entitled "Elgrand," has been released to the saki-fueled, car crazy Japanese public shortly before the North American release of the Quest.

Pagani Unveils Zonda HH

On: Wed, Aug 4, 2010 at 2:01PM | By: Chris Weiss

Pagani Unveils Zonda HH test 1-1

Known for its extremely rare, exotic supercars, Pagani has introduced a privately commissioned model known as the Zonda HH. The one-off convertible leaked last week and was officially revealed today. Mixing aspects of the Zonda Cinque and Zonda Roadster F, the shimmering, blue car has a beautiful look all its own.

The new Zonda HH was built for one lucky American customer who worked closely with Pagani to stay within budget and develop the ultimate customized dream car. While the customer remains anonymous, an Internet trail indicates that he's a car fanatic that also has a taste for Lamborghini. As nice as Lamborghinis are, they must pale in comparison to a one-off Zonda.

The Zonda HH is powered by the 7.2-liter Mercedes AMG V12 behind the Zonda Cinque. Instead of the paddle-controlled sequential six-speed found on the Cinque, the Zonda HH gets a six-speed manual transmission, as per the customer's preferences.