Login to your account
Not a member? Register now.

Subscribe To The Blog:

Follow Us

Auto Industry News
And Car Reviews

Ford Sale of Volvo To Geely Final

On: Tue, Aug 3, 2010 at 9:52AM | By: John Welch

2011 Volvo V60 test 2

Having paid $6.5 Billion dollars for Volvo in 1999, one would think that FoMoCo would want to at least break even  . .. right? To US Automakers, getting rid of their European Luxo-Brands is breaking even. Just as GM lost its shirt on Saab, but is better without Saab, Ford is losing a truck-load of money on Volvo, yet doesn't seem to mind. Geely, coughing up $1.8 billion for Volvo, is saving $4.7 billion dollars. That certainly is a 'truck-load' of money.

“Volvo is an excellent brand with a strong product line, and it has returned to profits after a successful restructuring. We are confident Volvo has a solid future under Geely's ownership,” Alan Mulally, Ford CEO, said in a statement.

“At the same time, the sale of Volvo will allow us to sharpen our focus on the Ford brand around the world and continue to deliver on our One Ford plan serving our customers with the very best cars and trucks in the world.”

Where did all this restraint and responsible thinking come from? Oh yeah, Boeing. It's as if Bill Ford Jr. invited Gordon Ramsey to Dearborn for an episode of "AutoMaker Nightmares." To quote Ramsey: "How can you open seven restaurants when your first restaurant is failing?!" So true with any business; Mulally is simply finishing a plan he set in motion that would create a profitable Ford without the overhead and production baggage associated with EuroBrands like Jaguar, Land Rover (both gone to Tata in 2008), Aston-Martin (the press says AM was sold to Proton, but we all know David Richards owns all of Malaysia, as well as a large portion of Wales), and now Volvo. Ford will retain Stephen Odell, former Volvo CEO, who will return to Ford as CEO of Ford of Europe. This leaves the door open for Stefan Jacoby to step in as Volvo CEO.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: 1st Anniversary Edition

On: Mon, Aug 2, 2010 at 3:19PM | By: John Welch

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: 1st Anniversary Edition test 1-1

The Good: Last year we began preparing to launch The AutoShopper Blog right around this time. The first images were saved on July 30th, the first article written on August 1st. Though it wasn't the first article posted, the first article I wrote was a recap of the Rally Cross portion of the 2009 X Games.

I was blown away. The idea of a home-grown Race of Champions-type Rally Balls-Off made me giggle in my sleep. It was better than the RoC: no silly dune buggies, the rally cars are different brands and there were prominent jumps that the drivers had to negotiate. Two of them! The course weaved through the L.A. Coliseum, out into the parking lot, then back into the arena for jump-tastic, fascia-destroying 70-foot launches in the middle of the bowl. It was a perfect concoction of familiar drivers and short-attention span laps that would capture the skateboard-centric mind and possibly open a new form of racing to a new group of potential fans. After all, what could be more extreme than slinging a 2,500 lb. vehicle around gravel-strewn corners right next to 300-foot drop offs? That happens at every World Rally Championship race. Totally gnar-bonetubularRadical, Yo. I was so keyed-up I failed to notice the deplorable ESPN camera work or the obvious lack of scrutineering and serious scoring. That is the "Good" portion of today's article, last year's X Games Rally.

 . . . And now for the BAD . . . duhn-dun DAaaahhhh . . . The coverage and execution of the 2010 X Games Rally. The Ugly? ESPN/ABC motor sports coverage in general. Two words: "Sorely Lacking" . . .

Jeep To Get Complete Facelift Over Coming Years

On: Mon, Aug 2, 2010 at 10:00AM | By: Chris Weiss

Jeep To Get Complete Facelift Over Coming Years  test 1-1

Beginning with the recent 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep's entire line will be getting new and updated models over the next three years. The new models will leverage platforms from Fiat and may include both crossover and Jeep pick-up models.

In terms of new offerings, Jeep will develop a small crossover model for a 2013 debut. That model will be built on a Fiat subcompact platform. Rumors have indicated that Jeep is considering a pick-up version of the Wrangler, but the company is still undecided as to the fate of that project. At the Easter Jeep Safari this past spring, Jeep and Mopar made some waves when they showed off the rugged Jeep NuKizer 715, a military-styled pick-up that sparked murmurs of a possible pick-up production model.

The next Jeep model up for a refresh is the Jeep Patriot. It is expected to get some minor exterior revisions in October, including a new grille. The model will be replaced by a Fiat-based model in 2013.

LA Auto Show to Host 20 New Launches

On: Mon, Aug 2, 2010 at 9:43AM | By: Chris Weiss

LA Auto Show to Host 20 New Launches  test 1-1

One of the last big auto shows of 2010 is shaping up to be an intriguing one this year. Organizers of the 2010 LA Auto Show have indicated that there will be no less than 20 new vehicle debuts at this year's event. The show opens to the media on November 17 and is open to the public from November 19 through November 28.

The announcement didn't include any specifics as to which cars will debut, but we know of at least a few. Nissan will return to LA after missing the show last year. It announced earlier this month that it will use the show to debut the 2011 Quest. Indications are that the company will also be making a big announcement about the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle, perhaps about the charging infrastructure that will support it. The Leaf is scheduled to launch in the U.S. in December.

Undoubtedly the most interesting news of the day also comes from the Nissan camp. Autospies reports that Nissan plans to introduce a convertible version of its Murano crossover at the show. That will be a 2012 model. The Murano convertible has been rumored for several years, originally as a 2011 model. It will be the only vehicle in the crossover segment to offer a convertible option, and is expected to lose two doors and sit at the top of the Murano line, costing somewhere in the neighborhood of $40,000. The picture is a rendering of what the oddball Murano convertible will look like.

Autocar reports today that Porsche will introduce a lightweight Cayman called the Cayman Clubsport. That model will lose 175 pounds from the standard Cayman and will get a little boost under the hood, featuring a slightly tuned version of Porsche's 3.4-liter six-cylinder engine. Exterior modifications will include a ducktail spoiler, lowered suspension, and special graphics. The Cayman Clubsport follows the Boxster Spyder, a lightweight Boxster introduced at last year's LA show. Porsche has not officially confirmed the Cayman Clubsport, but reports indicate that it will reach production next year.

Organizers of the show point to the increased participation and new model launches as signs the auto industry is turning around, stating: "The auto industry's continued economic recovery has spurred greater participation and engagement from manufacturers at the show."


Obama to Announce Early Success of Auto Bailouts

On: Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 5:12PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Obama to Announce Early Success of Auto Bailouts test 1-1

President Barrack Obama traveled to visit Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors Company this week to attempt to sway the taxpayers into believing that the bailouts have had a positive outcome and will result in bringing a financial return. Recent polls have shown that voters are not impressed about the bailouts in general and they are currently unconvinced that the $84.8 billion rescue will result in a financial return. In fact, as many as 48% of the public polled are less in favor of the bailouts while only 17% are more supportive. 

Obama’s speeches will take place in the Detroit area GM and Chrysler plants in what he is calling “an industry revival that has saved millions of jobs," according to the Bloomberg News. In a preview of the President’s speech on ABC earlier this week President Obama stated: “We are going to get all the money back that we invested in those car companies.” The automakers’ recovery “tells a good story” about the U.S. economic recovery, he said.

According to the former head of the automotive task force (initiated by President Obama): “It appears that those of us behind it haven't succeeded in convincing people that it's worked.” According to Ronald Bloom, a recent appraisal of General Motors reveals that the company is worth about $60 billion, the same amount that it took from the taxpayers last year as a bailout.

Bloom also made comment about the number of jobs that have risen in the automotive industry since the bailout, stating, “If we hadn't have stepped in when we did, most observers believe at least a million jobs would have been lost.” All of the Detroit Three have reportedly posted a profit in the first quarter of 2010, and Ford Motor Company realized a net profit that was the highest in two years for the second quarter, a sure sign that the automotive industry is recovering. General Motors has already repaid $6.7 billion in loans and the U.S. hopes to recoup tens of billions of dollars more when the company conducts an IPO scheduled for later this year.

President Barrack Obama traveled to visit Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors Company this week in order to attempt to sway the taxpayers into believing that the bailouts have had a positive outcome and will result in bringing a financial return. 

NHTSA Introduces More Rigorous Crash Testing

On: Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 4:01PM | By: Chris Weiss

NHTSA Introduces More Rigorous Crash Testing  test 1-1

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has announced that it will begin more rigorous crash testing on 2011 vehicles. The agency plans to test 55 2011 cars and trucks under a tougher five-star rating system. The new system will include new tests and will present consumers with a single overall safety score for each vehicle for the first time. Information about vehicle safety features, like collision warning systems, will also be included as part of the new rating system.

In a press release, NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said of the changes: “For over 30 years, NHTSA’s 5-star crash testing program has been the gold standard for consumers looking to buy the safest cars on the market for their families. Now, this great program has gotten even better by making it easier to compare the safety performance of vehicles not only in terms of crash survivability, but in terms of avoiding crashes in the first place.”

Nissan Designs an Automobile That Provides Health Benefits?

On: Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 3:18PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

The updated Nissan Rogue test 2

Nissan has recently issued a press release about a brand new concept in automotive interior features—a car that can promote comfort, as well as health and wellness for drivers and passengers.

Chevy Volt Requires Premium Fuel

On: Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 3:14PM | By: Chris Weiss

Chevy Volt Requires Premium Fuel  test 1-1

Despite previously offering (exaggerated) fuel economy claims of as much as 230 miles per gallon, GM confirmed today that the Volt will be a little less frugal than some may have hoped. The Volt requires premium fuel to run its 1.4-liter range-extending four-cylinder engine. According to Edmunds, the premium fuel will jump fueling costs by 10 percent over regular fuel, based on today's fuel prices.

Spokesman Adam Denison explained: "The Volt's unique architecture causes the onboard engine to act more like a generator. As such, premium fuel is required to maximize fuel efficiency. The use of premium fuel in the Volt increases fuel efficiency by 5 percent or greater over the use of regular fuel. Simply put, premium fuel optimizes this engine's characteristics. Basically, with reduced fuel consumption a key objective, premium fuel is the right solution for the Volt."

Nissan Offers the Same 8-Year, 100,000-Mile Battery Warranty As GM

On: Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 9:35AM | By: Chris Weiss

Nissan Offers the Same 8-Year, 100,000-Mile Battery Warranty As GM test 1-1

Last week, GM announced that it would offer an 8-year, 100,000-mile warranty on the lithium-ion batteries that power its upcoming Chevy Volt range-extending electric vehicle. Not to be outdone, Nissan this week matched GM's industry-leading battery warranty on the lithium-ion batteries in its upcoming Leaf electric vehicle. The two vehicles are set to compete for their share of the mainstream electric vehicle market beginning later this year.

Also announced this week, the Chevy Volt will cost over $7,000 more than the Nissan Leaf when it hits the market in November. The Volt will carry a base price of $41,000 while the Leaf bases at $32,780. Volt and Leaf buyers will be eligible for federal tax credits, cutting costs by as much as $7,500.

While the Volt will cost more, Chevy plans to offer a leasing option that is nearly identical to the Leaf's $349/month option. Chevy's lease agreement will cost $350/month over 36 months. Chevy will require $2,500 down, while the Nissan Leaf's 36-month lease requires $1,995.

Toyota Denies that it Will Discontinue the Sequoia

On: Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 9:33AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Toyota Denies that it Will Discontinue the Sequoia  test 1-1

In recent auto news, Toyota Motor Co. is denying the rumor that it will discontinue the Sequoia.The Sequoia is the largest SUV in the Toyota line-up, named after the tree that is known to grow to be one of the largest trees in the world. There are four versions of the Sequoia, each powered by the same 5.7-litre V8 engine, which puts out 381 hp. The engine is attached to a six-speed automatic gearbox driving all four wheels, not an economic fuel efficient vehicle by any means.

Rumor has it that the slow selling vehicle would be retiring soon, after the current model has expired, but Toyota has responded to those innuendos with a strong rebuttal, stating: 

“Toyota denies any reports of the discontinuation of the Sequoia. For obvious competitive reasons, Toyota does not discuss future product plans. Sequoia continues to be a profitable, high-quality vehicle for Toyota and several years remain in the life of the current generation. Our focus remains on building our vehicles, including the Sequoia, with the highest possible quality.”

There are four versions of the Sequoia, each powered by the same 5.7-litre V8 engine, which puts out 381 hp. The engine is attached to a six-speed automatic gearbox driving all four wheels, not an economic fuel efficient vehicle by any means.

Lola Produces Prototypes Under New 2011 Regulations

On: Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 2:34PM | By: John Welch

New Lola Chassis test 2

I might have written a little piece on the ALMS Northeast Grand Prix last weekend. In that article I may have stated that Lola will no longer build Coupes. I was wrong; they will no longer build short wheelbase coupes, like the Dyson Mazda, but they will produce a long wheelbase Coupe; think Drayson-Judd. Also, try not to confuse Dyson with Drayson, annoyingly similar team names, I know.

The new Lola Coupe, the B11/80, will feature the same ACO mandated "blow-over" fin as the B11/40 open top prototype. This fin is intended to interrupt a car's momentum if it gets up on two wheels and is trying to turn over, possibly crushing the driver. These regulations were spurred by an accident at Monza in 2008. Stéphane Ortelli's Courage is seen here nearly beheading Allan McNish as it flips and rolls, causing a broken ankle for Ortelli and Gawdawful signage space on the backs of post-2010 LMPs. Funny thing is, this sort of incident has NOT happened since. Scott Sharp's crash at Petit Le Mans last year was caused by hitting an errant Porsche 911 while cresting a blind hill at 140 mph, so it doesn't count. Before going into the new Lola Coupes, I offer video of Ortelli and Sharp, flippity flipping their prototypes into oblivion, inside yon post . . .