AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Porsche sales in China increased 5 times as much this July compared to last year’s, with the Cayenne selling especially well.
Porsche moved 2,484 cars in the month of July: while it might not seem like much, considering Porsche’s total of 10,722 vehicles worldwide, it’s still 5 times more than what they sold in July of 2010. Most of these cars were Cayennes, in Asia as well as worldwide: 5,483 cars around the world, or an increase of 16.1% compared to last year. Panamera sales also increased 2.5% from the same time, to 2,352.
So far, Porsche moved 71,381 vehicles from January to July. But SUVs and sedans were the bulk of it—overall sales in Europe dropped a significant 38.3%, and the sports car market caught onto the 911′s impending replacement: 1,666 examples of the Porsche icon were sold, for a drop of 35.1%. The Boxster and Cayman dropped 22.9% during that same year, with almost the same amount as the 911 sold (1,221 cars). If sales trends continue like this, Porsche will soon break into the Class 6 medium-duty truck business.
The Cadillac Converj was thought to have been lost in the ether between dazzling concept and pained execution. But GM’s executives have green-lit the Volt-based luxury car, and promise that it will be better than the idea of a “Volt-based luxury car” may sound.
The Converj was thought to have been killed off back in 2009, a few months after it was first shown at the Detroit Auto Show. Back then, Cadillac product planners couldn’t justify the expense of building even more Volts and not making a profit.
But as Chevrolet can’t build enough Volts to sell ‘em, GM finds that it is able to bring down the cost of production—and it is now eager to ramp up production in any way possible. The Converj will get the Volt’s current drivetrain, and will be put into production by 2013 or 2014: and this time, Cadillac is not waiting for the 2nd generation Volt’s powerplant that will arrive in 2015. A plug-in model may be available then, as well.
Part of GM’s eagerness is the fact that they could sell the Converj (or whatever 3-letter acronym Cadillac chooses to use) for around $60,000, enabling them to finally make a profit on the Voltec system. This would also have the added advantage of lowering the Volt’s current price of $40,000, to a price point more befitting a Chevrolet.
It seems almost extraneous to say that the last time Cadillac built a car based on a Chevrolet, we got…well, you know. This time however, the Standard Of The World should have a bit more luck.
[Source: Green Car Reports]
Like the world’s slowest jigsaw puzzle, the pieces for the Infiniti JX crossover are coming together, eventually.
Here’s the sixth image in a series of seven that parent company Nissan is releasing of their upcoming seven-passenger luxury crossover, in advance of its August 18th debut at Pebble Beach. The bulbous nose shows the same styling influence that gave us the Infiniti M, and the headlights are a little less angry than that of the FX.
The production version of the JX will be shown after Pebble Beach, at the LA Auto Show in November. Until then, we have just one more moody darklit photo of the JX to entertain ourselves with: stay tuned, folks.
GALLERY: Infiniti JX Concept
Hyundai‘s nice little publicity stunt is now over: future Equus buyers will not be getting a free Apple iPad with their luxury car (much like we didn’t when we reviewed it recently).
Hyundai spokesman Jim Trainor said that the iPad promotion was only available for the first year of Equus sales. Anyone who wants an Equus now will have to deal with a weighty lump of dead tree for their owner’s manual, though the iPad app is still available in the App Store.
The free iPad was a strong attraction for the initial launch of the Equus, though not necessarily a selling point—we don’t know how many people threw down $58,000 for the sake of a $500 iPad. No word on whether future Equus buyers will be stuck with a Blackberry Playbook.
Click here to read AutoGuide’s Hyundai Equus Review and see after the jump for our video:
Here’s a perk that those lucky Ford Mustang Boss 302 owners get: a free track day with Ford Racing at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah. And now that dates have been announced and the phone lines now open for registration, those owners should better clear their calendars.
The two-day experience begins with a private dinner and tour at the track’s Larry H. Miller Total Performance Museum, where owners will bone up on their knowledge of Boss heritage. The next day consists of classroom sessions with instructors, then a chance to practice vehicle techniques behind the wheel of their Mustangs. After lunch comes exercises around the entire track with instructors and then by themselves. Upon completion, owners get a special graduation pack and the bragging rights of their entire neighborhood.
Fifteen sessions are now available, starting now until the end of the year. Dates and registration are available on the Boss Track Attack website or by calling 435-27-SPEED. Participants can also stay an extra day or bring a guest, which reminds me: my own schedule’s clear for the rest of the year, as a matter of fact. Hint, hint.
[Source: Mustangs Daily]
Niki Lauda, former F1 champion and a man who knows a thing or two about a comeback, is looking at Michael Schumacher’s own, and suggesting that it’s time for him to embrace retired life.
Lauda mounted a comeback after retirement himself, back in 1982 after spending two years off the track. He didn’t do so well this time around, however: he finished 10th at the end of the season, 59 points behind his teammate Alain Prost. Wisely, he quit while he was behind. Today, he sees Schumacher falling into the same trap as he did.
“I have always been a big supporter of Michael’s comeback, because I did it, and I know what it’s all about,” said Lauda, to Motor Sport magazine. “I think every sportsman—if he wants to perform as well as Schumacher did in the past—has to be honest with himself. He has kept saying that he needs more time, blah, blah, blah, and he presents himself as the relaxed guy who’s really enjoying it—but inside he’s not relaxed at all, because no top racing driver enjoys being beaten. If he really were as relaxed as he claims to be, then Mercedes should tell him to retire!”
An Italian newspaper reported that Schumacher had considered quitting the Mercedes-Benz team, but Schumi’s manager countered by stating that he was as committed as ever. Who knows what it will take to unnerve Schumacher’s typically relaxed demeanor, and whether he’ll heed Lauda’s advice.
[Source: ESPN F1]
The perpetually-grinning, happy-go-lucky Mazda 3 will be getting a facelift for 2012. But will it still be so happy?
A new version of the Mazda 3 is already giggling down Japanese streets as the Mazda Axela. Its US model will make it over as early as October, with both employing the same Skyactiv 2.0-liter direct-injection gasoline engine and six-speed automatic transmission—the first car to combine Mazda’s new six-speed with Skyactiv technology.
Skyactiv is blowing up at Mazda lately, in fact: the Mazda 2 already has such an engine in Japan, and the upcoming CX-5 will feature it when it’s introduced in Frankfurt next month. So the Mazda 3 does have something to smile about.
[Source: Inside Line]
This BMW M1 art car once belonged to Peter Gregg, one of America’s greatest race drivers, who campaigned a 3.0 CSL and participated in Le Mans and the 24 Hours of Daytona. Now, it’s up for auction with some artistic provenance.
Before Gregg tragically ended his own life in 1980, he ordered an M1 from his grateful employers at BMW. There, he had the car painted by artist Frank Stella, who became interested in motorsports after painting Gregg’s CSL that he raced in Le Mans. Stella painted the car to match a series of paintings he called “Polar Coordinates,” which were done in order to commemorate Gregg’s teammate Ronnie Peterson, who was killed in a crash at Monza.
“Sport and art have one key thing in common: in the end it comes down to satisfaction,” said Stella. “My philosophy is: always give of your best. Sometimes I’m surprised at what turns out, at other times I’m disappointed. Out here on the racetrack it’s very hard not to be thrilled.”
After Gregg’s death, his widow sold the car in 1990. Nine years later the next owner donated it to the Guggenheim Museum, who are now selling the car to finance other acquisitions. The M1 will be sold by Bonhams at Pebble Beach, where it is expected to go for $450,000 to $600,000.
[Source: Sports Car Digest]
If you see a 1953 Austin-Healey 100 with a bunch of names Sharpied on its grey paint, stop by and show your support. John Nikas is raising money to fight cancer, and driving from Huntington Beach, California, to Charleston, South Carolina—and all the way back again.
Nikas is driving the vintage British sports car for the Drive Away Cancer Challenge, for reasons that hit too close to home: Nikas has cancer himself, and a few months ago weighed just 100 lbs.
But a minuscule setback like cancer didn’t stop him from racing vintage cars for the past five years. The Austin-Healey was donated to him by a member of the Austin-Healey Club, who also had cancer. Mechanics took two weeks restoring it to drivable condition and exorcizing rust from its flanks, and the fact that it ran amazed the crew, said Nikas.
“It’s a perfect metaphor for people living with cancer,” he said. “If this car can even make this attempt, and actually make it, it says a lot. It’s so easy to just get depressed and just sit and wait, and maybe driving a 60-year-old car across the country isn’t what everyone would do, but it’s about doing something productive in the time that you have.”
Nikas set off from Huntington Beach on Monday, after a police escort paraded him through town. Over 100 names were scrawled on the car in Sharpie—names of loved ones affected by cancer, signed by friends and strangers alike. At last count Nikas was in Albuquerque, and plans to shoot down Interstate 40 the entire way to the East Coast. Over 25 car clubs have already pledged their support, and Nikas will show the car off at the Monterey Historics on August 17th when he returns.
Godspeed, John Nikas—may the gods of speed bless you with synchronized carburetors and working Lucas electronics. You can follow his journey on the Drive Away Cancer Facebook page.
[Source: NBC Los Angeles]
We reported on Ford’s investigation and potential recall of its 2011 and 2012 V6-engined Mustangs, which have developed problems with the 6-speed manual transmission. Now here’s what they’re actually like, as recorded by Ford customers.
The videos show an inability to grasp second or third gear with the clutch depressed. At speeds, the gears grind in 2nd and 3rd when the driver lets off the gas. When downshifting from 3rd to 2nd, the gear fails to grab at all. More dangerously, the transmission sometimes locks out upon acceleration at 70 mph, causing the rear end to lose traction. The 6-speed transmissions are all made by Getrag, which has supplied Ford for years.
V8 Mustang transmissions have a skip-shift feature, forcing drivers to shift into 4th on low acceleration to save gas. But these are V6-engined cars that don’t carry the feature, and some of these cars have had their transmissions replaced once before. Some of these transmissions are bolted to new cars with just 5,000 miles; Ford has refused to honor the warranty the second time around, citing “abuse.” Lots of frustrated owners are sharing their stories—enough for Ford to conduct an investigation of their own, they hope. Click the jump to see more wanton acts of transmission “abuse.”
[Source: Mustang Source Forums]
Cimarron Bell is facing the death penalty after using a modded Chevrolet Monte Carlo as the bait in four killings, as part of an elaborate check-cashing scheme that saw him robbing three strangers and shooting his girlfriend.
Bell listed the Monte Carlo for $8,000 to lure prospective buyers. When three men became interested, Bell told them he felt more comfortable completing the transaction at his own house—where he had wrapped the garage in plastic sheets. When the three men arrived, Bell and another suspect killed them, wrapped them in plastic, and placed the bodies in the three men’s Mercedes. The car was later found in a strip mall in Los Angeles, with $1,500 in the glove box that Bell hadn’t noticed.
A few weeks prior, Bell had shot and killed his girlfriend when another greed-driven scheme had gone wrong. The four murders had gone unsolved until another girlfriend of Bell’s was arrested for credit card fraud, and she told investigators that Bell had confided in her the murders.
Bell is now sentenced to death. The Monte Carlo was exonerated of all charges.
Audi says its urban concept (with trendy lowercase letters) “combines elements of a racing car, a fun car and an urban car into one radical new concept.” Well, we’ll see about that come Frankfurt.
The urban concept is designed, as its name alludes, to fit into the sort of tight city spaces we still manage to cram Escalades into. As such, it only seats two people—Audi calls it “1+1 seating”—and has a silly door configuration: the entire rear midsection slides back to allow ingress.
This city car emphasizes sportiness over other urban runabouts: the cockpit is made from carbon fiber, and the 21-inch LED-infused wheels are freestanding from the body. Everything inside is adjustable for the driver, including the pedals, flat-bottomed steering wheel and heavily-bolstered seats.
Power comes from two e-tron electric motors, with a lithium ion battery. The specifics aren’t out yet in regards to weight and power, but we’ll just have to wait until the Frankfurt Motor Show that Audi will be dominating next month.
Fiat CEO and the auto industry’s wise old grandpa, Sergio Marchionne, warned the industry that “the day of reckoning is inevitably coming,” when Chinese automakers begin exporting on a massive scale.
Marchionne is usually regarded as being “usually four steps ahead of everybody else,” according to Chrysler executives. It’s no surprise then that his warning, given during the annual conference of the Center for Automotive Research, sounds dramatic. “We cannot afford to be unprepared for the ascent of China, reassuring ourselves of our invincibility,” said Marchionne. “Rather, we need to work to make our industrial base more competitive.”
Even if China exports a mere 10% of what they build, “the risk we face in our home markets is enormous.” No doubt Marchionne has already seen this in Brazil, where Chinese imports are eroding the sales of normally-popular Fiats.
And behind his words is another warning, this time aimed at Detroit: just because the Big Three are profitable again, doesn’t mean that wages and benefits should increase again—long-term competitiveness against foreign threats like China, South Korea, or even South America is key. America may be years from its own Chinese invasion, but if Marchionne has any say, Detroit won’t get caught off-guard. Wolverines!
[Source: Detroit Free Press]
Xou Vang thought he scored a sweet deal on eBay: $55,100 for a 2009 Nissan GT-R with just 36,069 miles on the clock. But Honda of San Marcos, Texas, is refusing to honor the sale, pressuring Vang to pay the full $59,000 sticker—and violating eBay’s stringent rules in the process.
As of yesterday, the GT-R is still listed on the dealership’s inventory at $62,674. While a three grand reduction off the price is impressive enough, it still isn’t what Vang is legally bound to pay. He called the dealership repeatedly, arranging a deposit and a time to pick up the car, which the dealership refused. A sales manager told Vang.
“So he kept telling me he will not sell it as he has the rights to not sell this car,” said Vang, “as eBay is not a contract and eBay has fine small prints that says dealers are exempt and they do not have to sell the vehicle. I asked him where was this and he was unable to point me to the information where he is finding this small print.”
Vang wisely contacted as many offices as he could: eBay, the Better Business Bureau, Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, Texas Attorney’s Office, and the Federal Trade Commission. But he lives all the way in Anchorage, Alaska, and the idea of making the trek down south makes him feel “hopeless, since I have no one to turn to,” he said. For now, however, he’s got his comrades at My350Z Forums, and as we’ve learned time and time again from similar cases—don’t underestimate the power of the Internet.
Hardcore punk isn’t exactly Infiniti’s target demographic: rather, Rollins was picked for his deep, unmistakable voice. “Our first intention was to get the voice,” said Ben Poore, vice-president of Infiniti America. “To get the spirit with an interesting tonality. It had to be authoritative and at the same time stand out,” Poore said. “We listened to hundreds of voices, but they weren’t pushing the board enough.”
While Rollins won’t be in the videos explicitly—those sleeve tattoos might scare off the Tchaikovsky demographic—his voice has already been put to use in two Infiniti ads, both of which poke fun at Lexus. The former lead singer of Black Flag is like Infiniti in that they both shake up the status quo, said Poore. There may be some old-school Hermosa Beach guys that may take umbrage at that.
Click the jump to see the first of these ads.
Those lots include BMW, MINI, and Rolls-Royce cars, with the latter surely being a drop in the figurative bucket. BMW Group counts all of these cars together to achieve this sales figure, which represents an increase of 7.6%.
“We have just reported the most successful July sales ever,” said Ian Robertson, a BMW board member, “the best ever sales result for the BMW Group. We are clearly benefitting from a very attractive product line-up which is finding success with customers right across the globe.”
BMW wants to set a record year for 2011, and they’re looking forward to reaching a 1.6 million sales figure by the end of the year. In America, sales increased in July 2011 from 26,120 vehicles from July 2010′s figure of 23,390, or 11.7%, netting it the title of best-selling premium carmaker in America. Chinese growth was triple that: a 36.1% increase from 13,852 to 18,858 cars.
Germany had about the same level as the year before—a 0.8% increase, but at least it’s not a slide. And in markets like Brazil, Russia, India, and Korea, sales increased by double-digit percents.
The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu is supposed to be the most high-tech car in Chevy’s lineup. And in order to compete with Ford’s Sync, it’s going to be the car that debuts GM’s new MyLink infotainment system.
MyLink will be a touchscreen that features voice activation, Pandora Internet, Stitcher and XM satellite radios, hands-free dialing, USB and MP3 input, and Bluetooth—the sorts of features consumers not only expect these days, but are used to.
The system seems relatively fast and easy to understand, thanks to its 7-inch touchscreen. Consumers can get their hands on MyLink starting next spring, when the new Malibu debuts. Click the jump to see it in action.
Pope Paul VI was the first pope to travel the world, visiting Asia, Africa, and the Americas extensively. When he came to the USA for the first time, he needed something fitting to represent the Catholic Church—and this Lincoln Continental served nicely.
This Continental was built upon a request from the Vatican, who needed a ride for Paul VI’s address to the United Nations in 1965. To fulfill the order, coachbuilder Lehman-Peterson built it in just two weeks. They stretched it to 21 feet and added a removable roof section, with a PA system to address the huddled masses and a removable transparent window, more to shield the pope from the weather than from the likes of Carlos the Jackal.
When Pope Paul VI came to New York, he addressed the United Nations, attended the World’s Fair, and witnessed a Yankees game, to the chagrin of Red Sox fans. After his whirlwind New York tour the Pope and his Continental went to Bogotá, Colombia, where the car was modified to fit in with the city’s 8,000-ft elevation.
The car never made it back to Italy after the South American trip, but rather to Chicago where, given the right series of events, it could have become the Bluesmobile. Instead, it carried a series of astronauts: Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anderson after they orbited the moon, and then the Apollo 11 crew after the 1969 moon landing.
Just another example of a Lincoln Continental becoming part of world history. And this bit of history could be yours at Pebble Beach, where it will go up for auction on August 19th. Auction house Bonhams believes it will go for $250,000 to $350,000, which seems low for a car that’s a genuine holy roller.
GALLERY: 1964 Lincoln Continental Pope Mobile
[Source: New York Times]
The kid confused the gas pedal for the brake in his Toyota Hilux pickup truck and careened into his mother, who was sitting in front of the motor vehicle registry. The mother was pinned against the wall and thankfully survived after being rushed to the hospital, albeit with severe leg injuries.
It’s not known whether the driving examiner was also injured, but he won’t be passing the 17-year old.
The RX-8′s days may be as limited as the Shinka, but the rotary engine isn’t. Mazda is still interested in furthering production of the Wankel, and they could have one ready by 2017 with Skyactiv technology.
During the gap, engineers will work on improving the rotary’s mileage and oil-eating capabilities, as well as improving reliability. The new rotary project had been scaled back during the recession, but senior officials are eager to continue developing it to fit with Mazda’s “zoom-zoom” image. It could go in the RX-7/RX-9 revival that’s been floating around for years, or it could even go in the MX-5 Miata. Either way, one thing’s for certain: they won’t give up on the triangle spinner.
Mileage is a big concern, but Mazda’s new Skyactiv system from its gasoline and diesel engines could make the jump over to the rotary. Skyactiv promises hybrid-like mileage from conventional powertrains, and some of its technology—direct injection, for starters—could easily be adapted. No more eating apex seals, hopefully.
[Source: The Detroit Bureau]
If you’ve ever wanted the ultimate level of garish customization, fear not! Ferrari is willing to open up its entire upholstery and custom department to owners, called “Tailor-Made.”
If you can dream it, Ferrari can do it. The company states: “this innovative programme enables clients to create an individual car, using exclusive and unique materials, colour and trim with the support of a dedicated team, as if it were a bespoke suit.”
But it’s clear who this is aimed at: those who want their 458s to be just that certain level of special. If you want Ohio State colors, a center console wrapped in crocodile skin, or Gaddafi-like patterns across the headliner, then go ahead and write them a check. How about bright orange, for an example of taste and restraint? Or denim seats as on Fiat manager and sartorialist Lapo Elkann’s personal California, giving Ferrari its long-sought connection with AMC? They’ll probably even do whale penis leather if you ask nicely. Porsche and Bentley have similar programs, but with a Ferrari there’s just that extra amount of attention-seeking that owners can afford.
Xzibit would be proud.
[Source: Auto Express]
And not the steakhouse either, where suburban G-Wagens are usually sighted. No, Mercedes-Benz is launching a rescue mission deep into the heart of Australia’s outback, where six of its off-roaders have been stranded.
Five standard G-Class models and one “military-spec” example are stuck somewhere along the Canning Stock Route, where they blew their shock absorbers while crossing some rough terrain. Fourteen people have been stranded and are now waiting for Mercedes-Benz to fly in replacement parts to a remote airfield near their base camp.
Luckily for the team, they have ample provisions and are in little immediate danger (as long as they watch over their babies for dingoes). But the 14-day crossing of the Outback still has 800 kilometers to go, across the aptly-named Great Sandy Desert.
“When we undertook this journey we were well aware of the punishment that the vehicles would endure,” said Horst von Sanden, a managing director of Mercedes-Benz Australia. “We put in place a group of very experienced Outback operators who have the expertise and logistical knowledge to cover off any eventuality. “I have complete faith in the team out on the Canning and the thorough logistics and preparation the team have put in place.”
The military G-Class is the only vehicle to not break, rather unsurprisingly: it is similar to ones used by the Australian Defence Force, and in civilian markets is known as the GProfessional. It will meet the rescue flight at the airport and deliver parts to the stranded team.
This is Benz’s attempt to complete the first crossing of the Outback by car, 1,900 kilometers total across the desert: if there ever was a car to have faith in for completing dangerous off-road expeditions, it is the mighty G-Class. Now that the even mightier Outback has claimed another victim, though, we’re not so sure.
[Source: The Land]
In the most recent example of an aquatic-predator-themed-cable-television-theme-programming tie in, Audi is jumping on the same themed-television-bandwagon as Discovery Channel’s Shark Week.
The rather cumbersomely-named “R8 GT Week” will feature daily videos that show off the R8 GT’s performance as it laps Infineon Raceway, with Audi racer Emanuele Pirro behind the wheel. Pirro won five LeMans championships, three of which were with Audi, so he certainly qualifies as an expert.
Unlike the availability of Shark Week on basic cable—as well as its ability to infiltrate pop culture consciousness—Audi’s own Week will be on its Youtube channel. Don’t call it Shark Week, however—BMW still has a trademark on that.
Turns out, being rich and looking good ain’t enough to get you by in this business. The Pagani Huayra has to step in line with the proletariat: just because it’s a six-figure, low-volume supercar, doesn’t grant it an exemption from America’s airbag regulations.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stopped giving waivers to their airbag safety regulation which is now 11 years old. As such, Pagani will need to invest over 4 million Euros in bringing its airbags up to spec, which include adjusting deployment speed based on weight sensors in the seats.
Currently, the only companies with waivers are Tesla, for its Roadster (which expires this year with its end of production) and Lamborghini (whose waiver expired in February). Pagani planned to only sell 5 cars in America next year, but they’ll have to still play ball like everyone else. As such, they assert that without a waiver, they won’t be able to sell cars in America until 2015. “Although Pagani has realized profits in recent years, the company asserted that immediate compliance with the advanced air-bag requirements will cause substantial economic hardship,” said a notice issued by NHTSA. Pagani estimates that lost sales during that period will total $4.5 million.
Given the likelihood of exotic cars and the lack of talent among their owners, however, Pagani may need to swallow this bitter medicine in the end. It’s for your own good, remember?
GALLERY: Pagani Huayra