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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."

The Nissan Juke

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

The Nissan Juke test 1-1

Plans for the U.S. launch of the Nissan Juke mini-crossover later this year are accompanied by some skepticism as to whether or not the little car with the “cartoonish looks” will fare well in the American market.  The Juke has been described as bizarre, zany, and even compared to the looks of a puffer fish at its unveiling at this year’s New York Auto Show.

In Japan, the unusual appearance and small size of the Juke SUV has NOT been a deterrent to consumers at all. Nissan has had over 10,000 orders for the Juke so far this year (with 1,300 sales in the first week), due to the fact that the Japanese automaker had already rung up 5,296 orders in the first week the Juke went on sale.

So far, red is the most prevalent exterior color ordered. Red interior has been very popular, as well, comprising 59% of total orders. The largest demographic for the Juke, thus far, is the 50-year-old and older group making up 44% of all sales, and 15% of the market has been the 20 to 24-year-old age group, with more male buyers than female.

Toyota Announces Plans to Work on EV Prototype with Tesla

On: Mon, Jul 12, 2010 at 9:51AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Tesla Model S test 2

Tesla, a relatively new company without much of a track record, and the number one green car auto manufacturer in the world, and Toyota have formed a partnership that has been somewhat baffling to many.

Tesla Motors recently held their IPO and Toyota Motors purchased $50 million in stock as the two automakers plan to partner in the making of electric vehicles at the Nummi Plant that was recently closed in Freemont, California.

Since initial trading on June 29th, Tesla shares have dropped and are trading slightly below their initial public offering price of $17.

During a recent interview the president of Toyota Corporation; Akio Toyoda, announced that his company has begun the process of building the first prototype electric vehicle that has a Tesla battery pack.

This year, Tesla launched an all-electric Model S Sedan that travels 300 miles on a single charge, sells for $57,000, and reportedly has enough power to accelerate from 0-60 mph in less than 4 seconds.

Vintage Camping: Good Things Come In Smaller Packages

On: Fri, Jul 9, 2010 at 12:25PM | By: Clay Ritchings

Vintage Camping: Good Things Come In Smaller Packages test 1-1

Not all road trips require a behemoth RV that is ugly and drains your wallet every time you gas it up, not to mention most people are not comfortable driving such monstrosities. How about traveling to your favorite camping spots in a unique completely restored VW bus? Want to camp at the beach and fish till dark? Well, Florida Oldscool Campers, LLC can assist you in planning a perfect holiday.

No more staying at high-priced hotel rooms, you can camp at thousands of beautiful locations throughout Florida with camper vans that are available for rent daily, weekly, or monthly. Oldscool Campers is a young company that has big plans to add more restored VW campers to their fleet in the near future; in fact, according to Mike, the Fleet Manager, they plan to have a green, orange, beige, and blue available for this spring.


The Resurrection of the 2011 Rolls-Royce Ghost

On: Fri, Jul 9, 2010 at 10:51AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

The Resurrection of the 2011 Rolls-Royce Ghost  test 1-1

The Rolls-Royce Ghost is being resurrected! The Ghost’s name was first used by Rolls between the years of 1906 to 1925. The very first Ghost was introduced as a 40-50 hp model.

The new 2011 Ghost, however, will take that initial hp and multiply it by 10 for a whopping 500 hp. Under the hood, the Ghost has a much more dynamic character as compared to the Phantom. The Ghost has an arsenal of horsepower. Power comes from a 6.6L V12, with direct injection and twin turbochargers, which puts out 563 hp and 575 lb-ft of torque—and that torque peaks at only 1,500rpm, so off idle the Ghost has 780nM of torque with just a touch of the gas pedal. Top speed is 155 mph but the Ghost can literally fly, going 0-60mph in 4.7 seconds (sounds like a BMW M model rather than the iconic car the butler usually drives).

Compare that to the Phantom’s 6.0 second 0-60 time, and it’s clear that performance was the primary goal of the engineers when they brought the Ghost back to life.

Ford Van Pooling Commuters

On: Fri, Jul 9, 2010 at 10:18AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ford Van Pooling Commuters test 1-1

Van Pool Services Inc. (VPSI) is a private company originally started by Chrysler to serve the transportation needs of individuals who wanted to save on fuel expense as far back as the 70s. The company was started in my stomping grounds—Minneapolis, Minnesota—and the fleet of vans providing a cheap alternative to the daily commute was so successful that the company expanded to serve cities around the nation, and is still around today.

The California Department of Transportation selected VPSI to operate the very first statewide vanpool program, only instead of using Chryslers, the fleet is comprised mostly (70% of the 5000 vehicle nationwide fleet) of Ford E-Series vans, which can achieve a whopping 150 passenger-miles per gallon each day as commuter vehicles.

According to Ford Media.com, annually, the fleet "eliminates more than 14 million commuter trips, saves more than $73 million in fuel, and reduces CO2 emissions by 259,000 tons."

Ford reports that the E-Series has been the country’s number one full-sized van for over 30 years. These top selling vehicles now transport over 40,000 commuters in the U.S. each day, with an average savings of $5,000 per year per commuter, compared with the cost of driving to work alone.

“We believe we have the most ecological Ford vehicles on the road,” said Steve Pederson, VP of Fleet Management at VPSI. Pederson was responsible for estimating the 150 passenger miles per gallon figure by "multiplying the 15 mpg achieved by Ford E-Series vans by 10 passengers. Some VPSI Ford commuter vanpools seat as many as fifteen passengers, which would result in even more impressive results," stated Pederson.

The Newest Italian Stallion

On: Fri, Jul 9, 2010 at 10:05AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

The Newest Italian Stallion test 1-1

When it comes to Ferraris, any new addition is celebrated by its many adoring fans like a new child in the family. The only sad part about adding a new Ferrari is that, more often than not, it comes at the cost of losing one of our favorites. The new Ferrari 458 Italia is no different. With its arrival, we must now cast off one of the most beautiful and crazy fast stallions from Maranello, the F430. From 2005-2009 the F430 scorched streets and racetracks all over the world with its 483-horsepower 4.3-liter banshee imitating V8 that pushed that car in to a terminal velocity of 196 mph. You had your choice of either a traditional six-speed manual, or an F1-style six-speed electro-hydraulic paddle shifter. It was a car that was called by some (including your author) as the most captivating Ferrari since the mighty F40. With such large tires to fill, the question is:  Is the new 458 Italia up to the task?   


Yes. Yes, it is.  

McLaren Announces First Six U.S. Dealers for the MP4-12C

On: Thu, Jul 8, 2010 at 9:39AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

McLaren Announces First Six U.S. Dealers for the MP4-12C test 1-1

 The MP4-12C is “pure McLaren”, from its innovative technologies to customization—every detail of its design is purposeful. The 2012 two-seater, mid-engine 12C has a capacity to travel from 0-60 in under 3 seconds (in case you weren’t paying attention, -that was 3SECONDS!)

That's faster than the 2010 Porsche 911 Turbo which hits 60 in 3.2 seconds, the Corvette ZR1, or the Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4. This vehicle is said to revise the fabric of sports car design with innovative engineering comprised of a revolutionary carbon fiber “MonoCell” chassis, and a complete spotlight on total performance and high quality.

The 12C has a V8, twin-turbo engine with 592 horsepower and 443 ft-lb of torque with a 7-speed Seamless Shift dual-clutch transmission. Its advanced aerodynamics is accompanied by its Airbrake which gives the 12C excellent stability under braking. The 12C sets new standards for its lush interior and technology in its class.

Customers that are interested in purchasing a 12C will be happy to hear that six new dealers have been selected across the country to offer the MP4 12-C to the public. The names of the dealerships and cities in North America are: The Auto Gallery in Beverly Hills, CA; Park Place in Dallas, TX; Miller Motorcars in Greenwich, CT; Price Family Dealerships in San Francisco, CA; and Dew Luxury Motor Cars in Tampa, FL. In the coming months, McLaren also plans to assign dealers in Miami, Orange County, Philadelphia, and Toronto.

Toyota Will Recall Lexus in Japan

On: Thu, Jul 8, 2010 at 9:32AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Toyota Crown Hybrid Concept test 2

Toyota Motor Corp. recently announced that it would recall 270,000 Lexus and Crown vehicles worldwide in order to repair valve springs, an important engine part that when not working properly could cause an engine to stall during motion (or just grenade itself completely-JD).  Toyota will start its recall in Tokyo, then extend the recall to the U.S., Canada, and other countries.

Toyota stated that there have been no injuries or accidents that have resulted from the problem.

The quality problem affecting Toyota’s top-of-the-line Lexus, comes as Toyota struggles to move on from massive global recalls that started in October. The recall is one of a string of recalls involving faulty mechanics in Toyota cars in the past 18 months—everything from stability control problems to faulty gas pedals, and more; it seems the list is never ending.

Just last week, 17,000 Lexus hybrid models were recalled for fuel that could potentially spill during a rear end crash.

2010 Brumos Porsche 250; Sports Car SlobberKnockers

On: Wed, Jul 7, 2010 at 3:05PM | By: John Welch

How did we get to this image? test 2

The Rolex Grand Am Series produces incredible racing action every time the Daytona Prototypes lay rubber to tarmac. This post contains an image gallery highlighting one of the many scraps that occured on track during the 2010 Brumos Porsche 250. Allow me to set the scene . . .

After a terrible beginning to the 2010 Rolex Series, the No.99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Chevrolet Riley turned a scorching lap during qualifying to claim second starting position for the race. Second only to the No.10 Wayne Taylor/SunTrust Ford Dallara, a car also plauged by finishes not indicitive of the way they have run in the races this season, the Gainsco car found itself locked in a fierce contest of wills with it's primary rival, the No.01 Ganassi/TelMex BMW. The Ganassi machine, suffering from a little bit of ballast-bloat (BMW-powered DPs were saddled with a 75 lb. weight penalty after the race at Mid-Ohio two weeks ago), qualified a lowly fifth, rather unusual for the dominant Ganassi team.

The bit-players in this gallery include the No. 6 MSR Dallara, driven by Brian Frissell, as well as the No. 59 Brumos Porsche Riley. Both cars were in the hunt all day, with Frissell leading a significant portion of the race. We now know that Ganassi came out on top, but the result was anything but certain while these photos were being taken. Description of the action with each image; enjoy!

Texas and New York Included in Early Launch For the Volt

On: Wed, Jul 7, 2010 at 10:35AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Texas and New York Included in Early Launch For the Volt test 1-1

The Chevy Volt will soon be upon us.  Chevrolet plans to launch the new electric car in select markets across the county, but there are a few select markets that will have access to Volt much earlier than the fall 2010 scheduled date.

GM has made the decision to include extra markets for the Volt due to the extensive interest that has been shown in the electric hybrid.  “We can add markets as diverse as Texas and New York because the Chevrolet Volt can handle both urban commuting and longer trips, in Austin summers and Manhattan winters,” Whitacre said. “The Volt can be your primary vehicle, giving you the freedom to drive gas-free without the stress of planning every trip around the battery’s charge level.”