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Auto Industry News
And Car Reviews

Maserati To Introduce Smaller, Cheaper Sedan

On: Wed, Jul 14, 2010 at 10:36AM | By: Chris Weiss

2010 Maserati Quattroporte  test 2

Maserati is set to appeal to a broader market, albeit still limited and exclusive, with a smaller, less expensive sedan positioned underneath its Quattroporte. The midsize sport luxury sedan will compete with the likes of the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes CL, and Cadillac CTS when it debuts in 2014. The car will help to broaden Maserati's appeal and visibility in the market, and provide a new sales dynamic for the brand.

Maserati currently offers sport and luxury cars under three models: the GranCabrio, the GranTurismo, and the Quattroporte. The first two are two-doors while the Quattroporte is Maserati's answer to the sedan market. There are three trims of Quattroporte, comprising the base, S, and Sport GT S variants. Each features a V8 powerplant. Output and performance rise up to 440 hp, a top speed of 177 mph and a 5.1-second dash to 62 mph for the Sport GT S. The line bases at over $120,000 and the Quattoporte competes with the likes of the Mercedes S-Class, Porsche Panamera, and Audi S8.

Build Your Own Corvette Engine?

On: Wed, Jul 14, 2010 at 10:26AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Build Your Own Corvette Engine? test 1-1

For those car enthusiasts who just cannot get involved enough in customizing their own cars, Chevrolet has the perfect solution for you! It’s Chevrolet’s new “Build Your Own Corvette Engine” program that allows would-be Corvette owners to “literally build the engine for their new car.”

The program is designed for those who want the most "inclusive interactive car assembly program available." When a new 2011 Corvette Z06 or the ZR1 option is ordered, customers can opt for their cars to be assembled with the LS7 or LS9 engines at the Wixom Michigan assembly plant, and then actually watch the new Corvette being built at the plant  in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Jim Campbell, VP of Chevy Marketing in the U.S., believes that “Corvette owners are some of the most passionate—and most involved. The Corvette Engine Build Experience offers customers an unprecedented opportunity to participate, hands-on, in creating the car.”

Chrysler Offers Summer Buying Incentives

On: Tue, Jul 13, 2010 at 2:33PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Chrysler Offers Summer Buying Incentives test 1-1

Chrysler announced today that the company will offer a 60-day money back guarantee for any new vehicles purchased, AND that the company will pay two months payments (of up to $500 per month) for new buyers in an attempt to compensate for a low sales record in the month of June.

Chrysler is including the offer for the Town and Country and the Dodge Caravan, as well as most other Chrysler vehicles.

Buyers will be given the option of taking either an upfront cash rebate of $3-$4K, or selecting the 60-day guarantee whereas their new car can be returned, no questions asked if the customer is not satisfied for any reason (or if they become unemployed). Another new incentive being offered in July is the zero percent financing on Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, and Jeep models. Most incentives are scheduled to apply through the second of August.

Since the beginning of the year, most automakers have made an attempt to eliminate incentives in order to boost profits and to improve brand reputation. Toyota and Honda have been notorious for NOT offering high incentives in the past as part of the Japanese automakers’ attempt at keeping their brand image high. That is all changing as even Toyota Motor Corporation has increased buying incentives this month.

Subaru Recall Blues

On: Tue, Jul 13, 2010 at 2:03PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Subaru Recall Blues test 1-1

Auto manufacturers have been issuing more and more recalls over the past few years. The regularity of recall notices may be a sign that a specific vehicle may have some issues with safety or reliablilty. Subaru has certainly had more recalls for the 2010 year model than in the past.

The latest in recalls for Subaru is the Outback and Legacy models, being recalled due to faulty wiring behind the steering wheel; the wires were found to be at risk of cracking and breaking, which could interfere with the normal functioning of the steering wheel. If this happens, some vehicle functions with controls on the steering wheel—such as the horn, cruise and radio controls, paddle shifters, and even the driver's airbag, including problems with deployment of the air bag—could fail.

Approximately 74,000 Outback and Legacy models are thought to be affected by the faulty steering wheel wiring issue, models that were assembled between February 16, 2009 and April 12, 2010. Consumers who own one of the affected vehicles are asked to contact their local Subaru dealer; they will then be checked to see if they have the faulty steering roll connector; all Subaru Legacy and Outback models found to have the problem will be fixed at no cost. For more details on this latest recall contact NHTSA on 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153) or visit Safecar.gov


Chevrolet Caprice PPV Detective Package; We Want A Cop Car

On: Tue, Jul 13, 2010 at 12:28PM | By: John Welch

Chevrolet Caprice PPV Detective Package; We Want A Cop Car test 1-1

Chevrolet keeps giving us reasons to believe that, maybe, one day, they will bring back V8-powered Austrailian sedans like the now deceased Pontiac G8. Based on the Holden Commadore, the G8 offered near-BMW levels of dynamic satisfaction while packing a small block and an American badge. It wasn't around long enough and we miss it dearly.

The obvious thing to do, it would seem, would be to slap a bow tie on the G8's nose, call it a Caprice, and continue selling it. The problem here is that the G8 didn't sell in large enough numbers to justify the tooling needed to make the Pontiac-Chevy switch. A nice excuse, if they weren't building these things for the police. Which means they have the tooling. Which means there is no reason why I can't go order up a Matte Black SWB Caprice with a 6.0 liter something or other and a manual tranny. None, completely ridiculous.

Though I can't explain GM's weird, masochistic need to keep its best products to itself, I can tell you everything about the Caprice Police Package. Though we have reported on the PPV before, we now have the enitre GM Fleet Sales order sheet. Details inside the post . . .

Chrysler Recalls 2010 Dodge Ram 1500, Jeep Liberty, and Dodge Nitro

On: Tue, Jul 13, 2010 at 9:45AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Chrysler Recalls 2010 Dodge Ram 1500, Jeep Liberty, and Dodge Nitro test 1-1

Chrysler is the most recent player in the game of automotive recalls. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that Chrysler will be recalling some models of the 2010 Jeep Liberty, Jeep Wrangler, Dodge Nitro, and 2010 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup.

Chrysler announced the numbers are 22,300 trucks and SUVs that have a potential braking problem.

According to the official NHTSA bulletin, those vehicles were built with a defective part that could cause a loss of braking ability that could result in potential accidents.

The fault lies in the end flare that sits between the master cylinder and the hydraulic control unit brake tube assembly. In certain affected models, the improperly formed part could allow brake fluid to drain out of the system, which could lead to a loss of braking capacity, putting the affected automobile at risk for a potential collision. 

The NHTSA bulletin does not indicate the number of vehicles affected, nor does it list production dates, so anyone who has a 2010 model should assume that their vehicle may be included in the recall.

Roads Laced with a Titanium Dioxide Could Reduce Pollution

On: Mon, Jul 12, 2010 at 4:15PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Roads Laced with a Titanium Dioxide Could Reduce Pollution test 1-1

New research being done at the Eindhoven University of Technology (EUT), located in the Netherlands, may find a way to decrease air pollution, creating cleaner air for us to breathe, and for the environment.

It seems that researchers at EUT have discovered a method to efficiently remove up to 45% of the nitrogen oxides from car exhaust that end up in the atmosphere. The process of removal of the nitrogen oxides involves mixing titanium dioxide with concrete before pouring it onto the roadways. The titanium dioxide is a catalytic substance (which means that it helps to breakdown other elements), and it seizes the nitrogen oxides in the air, transforming them into nitrates which can be easily washed away by rain water.

Exposure to high levels of nitrogen oxides is known to cause damage the respiratory airways. Contact with the skin or eyes can actually cause burns. 

Nitrogen oxides are broken down rapidly in the atmosphere by reacting with other substances commonly found in the air. The reaction of nitrogen dioxide with chemicals produced by sunlight leads to the formation of nitric acid, which is a major constituent of acid rain. Nitrogen dioxide reacts with sunlight, which leads to the formation of ozone and smog conditions in the air we breathe.

Porsche 918 Spyder Hybrid To Start At 500,000 Euros

On: Mon, Jul 12, 2010 at 4:08PM | By: Chris Weiss

Porsche 918 Spyder Hybrid To Start At 500,000 Euros test 1-1

Today, the world has gotten a glimpse at what the future market of ultra-performance hybrid supercars will look like. In short, it's not cheap. While Porsche has yet to officially confirm the 918 Spyder Hybrid for production, a pair of loose-lipped, anonymous sources familiar with Porsche's plans indicate that Stuttgart has already received more than enough letters of interest to seriously consider production. The same sources indicate that Porsche plans on introducing the car at a price of €500,000 (app. $630,000). This figure represents Porsche's most expensive model ever, beating out the €453,000 Carrera GT.

Today's news comes from a Bloomberg report which states that Porsche has received 2,000 letters of interest for the 918 Spyder Hybrid. Shortly after Porsche wowed the auto world when it introduced the 918 concept at the Geneva Motor Show this past winter, Porsche CEO Michael Macht indicated that the company was excited about the possibility of seeing the model through to production. At the time, word was that Porsche wanted to get 1,000 sales pledges from buyers before proceeding with plans. While letters of interest are less serious and binding than actual pledges, the number shows that there is plenty of interest in the model.  Porsche has not committed one way or the other, but is expected to announce its intentions later this year.

Patron-Highcroft Conquers Utah

On: Mon, Jul 12, 2010 at 1:13PM | By: John Welch

Patron-Highcroft Conquers Utah test 1-1

The American Le Mans Series threw down in Utah this weekend, the third race at the incredibly flat Miller Motorsports Park. Not that I dislike this 3.08 mile circuit, it's just really flat. Like a speedway infield, without the speedway. Just an observation.

Qualifying opened with blistering pace from the Lola-chassied cars. The Dyson Racing Mazda, now sporting Castrol Sponsorship, set a quick lap, the Intersport Lola hovered near the top of the time sheets, and the Drayson Racing LMP1 coupe was cookin' with gas! None of that mattered, however, because Patron-Highcroft came to play, as always. Despite an nearly 30 mph speed disadvantage on the straights, Simon Pagenaud was able to take pole position from the turbo-equipped Lolas.

So went the race. Though Intersport put up a hell of a fight, leading the first few laps and pulling out several seconds of lead, Jon and Clint Field were unable to keep the tires underneath them. After several fast laps the Intersport car invariably began slowing by five tenths a lap, handing the lead over to Drayson Racing and then, eventually, Patron-Highcroft. Taking their third win of the season, Patron was able to overcome their performance issues to take a strangle-hold on the Prototype points lead.

King Snake

On: Mon, Jul 12, 2010 at 10:47AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

King Snake test 1-1

The Ford Shelby GT500 is a car that has garnered about as variable a reaction as any one car could receive. Corvette guys will say the Shelby is overweight. Camaro guys will say the GT500 can't handle. German fans will just laugh at anything that doesn't have an independent rear. Italians will go into a fit of rage about any car that wants to be a Grand Tourer that doesn't come from the red, white, and green; quite honestly, up until 2011, all previous iterations of the GT500 did fit into most of those stereotypes. The 2007-2010 models were full of power, but they were also full figured (and not in the places you'd like the weight to be). But the 2011 Shelby has put almost all of those naysayers to rest. Almost.

The newest version of the old favorite is the fastest, most powerful mass-produced Mustang ever. Go back as far as you like—1965, 1968, 1969, 1995, 2000, 2003, doesn't matter. Even many of the mighty tuner cars this side of a Saleen S7 (which doesn't count as a Mustang, anyway) can't compare to the GT500. You won't find a production Ford pony car with better numbers than 0-60 in 4.1 seconds, 0-100 in 9.1 seconds, and a standing 1/4 mile in 12.4@117mph. Go look, we'll wait ...


... See? This car is a beast.

Mercedes Benz Financial Joins Group 1 Automotive

On: Mon, Jul 12, 2010 at 10:25AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Mercedes Benz Financial Joins Group 1 Automotive test 1-1

Group 1 Automotive Company has announced this week that Mercedes Benz Financial has agreed to a partnership that would allow Mercedes to be part of a financial institution involving $1.35 billion dollars in revolving credit.

The Houston, Texas-based company Group 1 is a fortune 500 retail company, a leader in the industry. The company held its public offering in 1997 and has since become one of the top five groups of dealerships in the United States. Group 1 states that the company’s success has much to do with a “strategy that emphasizes geographic and brand diversity, interrelated revenue streams, operational efficiencies and the prudent deployment of capital.”

The lenders in Group 1’s syndicated lending facility now include Mercedes Benz Financial, Toyota Motor Credit Corporation, Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp., and BMW Financial Services NA LLC, along with 16 commercial banks, including Chase Bank, Bank of America, Citizens Bank, Deutsche Bank in New York, and more.

According to the group 1 VP and CEO, John Rickel, "We are delighted with Mercedes-Benz Financial's decision to join our floor plan and acquisition facility; the addition of a partner of this caliber is a plus for our credit syndicate and further expands our strategically important financial partnerships. We look forward to working with Mercedes-Benz Financial and our other financial partners going forward."