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.
BMW has for a fifth straight month, held the top spot in its sales lead over Mercedes-Benz and Lexus, delivering the most luxury models in the U.S. BMW has been able to hold this position thanks to the deliveries of the new 5-Series and X3 SUV. The German automakers U.S sales rose 6.5 percent last month compared with a year earlier, to 20,815. This accomplishment has allowed to automaker to move in closer to being 2011′s top-selling U.S luxury brand. Lexus currently holds that impressive position and has done so for 11 years straight.
Both Mercedes-Benz and Lexus have both dipped in sales but for different reasons. Mercedes-Benz fell 1.9 percent to 18,477 in August but Lexus dropped seven percent to 18,103 due to continuing inventory disruptions caused by the March earthquake and tsunami.
“This has been a very strange August for our industry with both difficult news and unfortunate events — consumer confidence down and an earthquake, hurricane and floods in the Northeast,” Jim O’Donnell, head of BMW of North America, said in a statement.
So far, BMW has increased sales by 12 percent through August to 155,929 and Mercedes-Benz is up 6.1 percent in U.S sales to 148,409. Lexus has dipped 17 percent to 120,652 but the March disaster must be taken into account.
[Source: Automotive News]
A Chinese inspection agency has alleged that Toyota vehicles are responsible for several fatal accidents. China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine claimed that the Toyota Camry, Prado and Reiz models have faulty brakes and drive shafts. The agency has yet to provide any details pertaining to the accidents , nor casualty information.
“All we know so far is what included in the agency’s statement,” said Toyota spokesman Liu Peng in an interview yesterday. “We are looking into the issue and will try to clarify the facts.”
Automobile ownership is steadily increasing, causing China’s government to increase efforts to control vehicle quality. Collisions have also spiked 36 percent to 3.9 million accidents in 2010, according to the Ministry of Public Security.
[Source: Left Lane News]
Fiat will be gradually discontinuing the beautiful Alfa Romeo 159, as reports have indicated that production of the 159 has come to an end at the assembly plant in Naples, Italy. Last minute 159 buyers may have some luck because the vehicle has been stockpiled by dealers ahead of the factory’s temporary closure.
Sadly, the 159 suffered from its edgy front end, making for poor aerodynamics and although the vehicle was built to meet U.S regulations, the vehicle was never sold stateside.
Enthusiasts are complaining that with the absence of the 159, there is a gaping hole left in both Alfa Romeo and Fiat’s line-up. Neither the Alfa Giulietta, Lancia Delta nor the Fiat Bravo can pass as a compact executive car. The 159 is expected to be replaced by the Giulia but won’t hit the road until 2013, and will likely stay that way for another few years. The Naples plant will now produce the Fiat Panda.
GALLERY: Alfa Romeo 159
[Source: italia speed]
Fiat may shift planned production of Jeep and Alfa Romeo SUVs from the Turin plant to an American facility. If this is successful, Fiat will have space to produce a small car at the Italian plant. One insider said that the compact car may be built at the Mirafiori plant, and Fiat’s strategic SUV move is based on America’s ongoing demand for trucks, although Fiat has yet to make a final decision.
Less than a year ago, Fiat invested $1.44 billion in the Turin plant in order to produce Jeep and Alfa Romeo SUVs for late 2012, but since then, the Euro has increased nearly nine percent against the american dollar. This economic shift makes the possiblity of manufacturing Jeep vehicles aborad, then shipping them back to the U.S, a less profitable venture. Fiat will likely build the trucks stateside, allowing Jeep to remain domestic and providing Alfa Romeo with momentum to relaunch in America.
[Source: Detroit News]
Fisker is interested in BMW’s new turbocharged four-cylinder engine for the “Project Nina’ mid-size premium sedan. The “Project Nina” sedan will be built at a former GM plant in Wilmington, Delaware by the end of 2012. The contract signed between BMW and Fisker allows for the supply of up to 100,000 engines per year.
“The BMW engine was an obvious choice for us, as BMW is known for producing the best and most fuel efficient gasoline engines in the world,” said Fisker CEO Henrik Fisker. “We are very pleased to have signed this agreement with BMW.”
Currently, Fisker uses a General Motors turbocharged 2.o-liter engine for the Karma, but nothing has been mentioned as to whether the vehicle will also receive BMW power in 2012.
GALLERY: Fisker Karma
Two knucklehead dealership technicians decided to borrow a BMW 1 Series M Coupe and put it through its paces. What makes the video even more painful to watch is that the technicians have no sympathy for the car’s delicate break in period.
Interstingly, members of the 1Addicts forum managed to narrow down the location of the joyride and trace it back to Pacific BMW in Southern California. Fortunetly the car had not been sold yet, and the dealership asking price was a whopping $20,000 over MSRP.
Once the driver knew the heat was on, he attempted to cover his tracks by removing the video from his account, but someone had already made a copy. The BMW abuser has apparently been fired by the dealer after forum members reached out in outrage. Furthermore, local city spokesman Tom Lorenz also indicated that local law enforcement is investigating the technician in regards to the obviously unsafe and illegal speeds obtained during the joyride in residential neighbourhoods.
Check out the video after the jump!
BMW engineers are currently working on the introduction of laser light technology as the next logical step in car light development. Laser lights offer a vast improvement over the stock LED bulbs, currently used in luxury cars because lasers use less energy, are brighter, smaller, and can be directed at a smaller area.
LED lighting generates only around 100 lumens per watt, but laser lighting generates approximately 170 lumens, meaning they’re much brighter. The new technology is much more efficient and interestingly, because lasers are much smaller, designers can create very thin lights, seen on futuristic concepts. BMW also sees no reason why they can’t implement all the familiar lighting functions to lasers such as Adaptive Headlights, the Dynamic Light Spot spotlighting system and the Anti-Dazzle High-Beam Assist.
[Source: e90 Post]
Two weeks ago, Kia officially confirmed that it would unveil a rear-wheel drive four-door sports sedan at this month’s Frankfurt auto show.
Today, sources have revealed that Kia may call the sporty sedan, the Veredus. Kia has filed for a trademark on the Veredus name, and sources have also explained that the concept is the only vehicle in the company’s short-term product plan without a name.
The concept has sleek and muscular proportions, and will likely slide in between the Hyundai Genesis and Equus in terms of size. Kia’s future product plans also include an electric vehicle and a sedan based off the forthcoming Hyundai Azera.
GALLERY: Kia Veredus
[Source: Car and Driver]
BMW is recalling 241,000 3-Series models due to faulty tail lights. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has confirmed that certain 2002-2005 325i, 325xi, 330i and 330xi models built between September 1, 2001 and March 1 2005 may experience resistance in the electrical contacts of one or more rear lamp functions.
The resistance could eventually lead to the one or more rear lamp functions from working. That failure could reduce the ability to warn other motorists of the drivers intentions, potentially leading to an accident.
BMW dealers will repair the electrical components free of charge once the recall begins in October of this year. Concerned BMW owners may contact customer relations at 1-800-525-7417
British Columbia Mounties have impounded 13-high end sports cars following an alleged street race in Metro Vancouver on Wednesday afternoon. Around 3:30 pm yesterday afternoon, police received reports of high-end cars racing southbound along Highway 99 in the area of George Massey tunnel.
Witnesses reported that the cars were travelling in excess of 200 km/h (120 mph), and on several occasions, the sports cars would travel side by side to block traffic, allowing their friends in front to race. Thirteen drivers were pulled over and their cars are worth a total of more than $2 million.
The vehicles involved in the race include a, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Nissan GT-R and Aston Martin. RCMP Insp. Bryon Massie said, ”The majority of them had personalized plates as well and were souped-up, so they’re fairly distinguished and the witnesses had no problem in providing us with the descriptors that were tracked back to the vehicles.”
Many of the sports cars had green “N” stickers in their rear windshields, as part of B.C’s graduated licensing system. Massie said, “The drivers of the vehicles are all in around the age of 20 years old. They’re all new drivers. The majority of them do not have their full driver’s licence status — they’re still in the ‘N’ new category.”
The Mazda CX-5 will enter the highly competitive compact crossover segment in the U.S when it debuts in early 2012. The CX-5 prototype was equipped with 165-hp 2.0-liter engine producing 150 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a six-speed manual transmission and the American version will likely use the same setup.
A diesel variant available in the U.S, equipped with a 2.2-liter, twin-turbo direct injection engine. The diesel will produce over 160-hp and about 310 lb-ft of torque.
The CX-5 will compete against the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Volkswagen Tiguan and Kia Sportage. The CX-5 will be 178.7 inches long, making it more than five inches shorter than the CX-7. The 106.3 inch wheelbase also makes it two inches shorter than the CX-7. The diesel will be added to the crossover in 2014 and will make its North American debut at the Los Angeles auto show in November. Mazda has yet to confirm pricing for the U.S market but Mazda reps say that the base model will sell for around $20,000.
GALLERY: 2012 Mazda CX-5
Click here to read AutoGuide’s drive of the new Mazda SkyActiv prototype and see after the jump to watch the video:
The Honda Pilot mid-size SUV will be receiving some minor upgrades for the 2012 model year which includes exterior, interior and mechanical updates.
The most noticeable upgrade to the exterior includes a new grille and front fascia. The outgoing model’s six sided grille insert will be replaced with a distinctive three-bar horizontal design. The interior will feature upgraded materials and a revised instrument panel with new center stack layout. There have also been some minor changes to the audio and navigational systems. Fuel economy has also been improved by one mile per gallon overall to 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway for a combined rating of 21 mpg. The Pilot will still use the 24 valve i-VTEC 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 250-hp and 253 lb-ft of torque. The engine features Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management system that allows the V6 to operate in six-cylinder mode for power and four or three-cylinder modes for efficiency.
GALLERY: 2012 Honda Pilot
Nissan North America has recently announced U.S pricing for the 2012 Armada SUV and 2012 Titan full-size pickup. The Armada will be offered in three models including the SV, SL and Platinum trim levels. Each models is offered with either a two-wheel or four-wheel drive setup, and a 317-hp 5.6-liter V8 engine. The engine will be mated to a five-speed automatic transmission, and a Brilliant Silver has been added as a new exterior colour choice for the 2012 model year.
Pricing for the 2012 Nissan Armada are as follows:
4×2 SV $38,490
4×2 SL $43,940
4×2 Platinum $51,050
4×4 SV $44,090
4×4 SL $46,840
4×4 Plainum $53,950
The 2012 Titan is offered in King Cab and Crew Cab body styles with in either a 4×4 or 4×2 configuration, along with two wheelbases and three bed lengths. The Titan is equipped with a 317-hp 5.6-liter DOHC V8 mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. The maximum towing capacity for the King Cab is 9,500 pounds and the Crew Cab can tow 9,400. The Titan is offered in S, SV, Pro-4x and SL trim levels as well as the all-new SV Sport Appearance Package.
Pricing for the 2012 Nissan Titan King Cab are as follows:
S King Cab 4×2 $27,410
SV King Cab 4×2 $29,410
S King Cab 4×4 $30,260
SV King Cab 4×4 $32,260
Pro-4x King Cab 4×4 $35,140
Pricing for the 2012 Nissan Titan Crew Cab are as follows:
S Crew Cab 4×2 $29,960
SV Crew Cab 4×2 $31,610
SV Crew Cab 4×2 LWB $32,060
SL Crew Cab 4×2 $37,510
S Crew Cab 4×4 $32,810
SV Crew Cab 4×2 $34,460
SV Crew Cab 4×4 LWB $34,940
Pro-4x Crew Cab 4×4 $37,340
SL Crew Cab 4×4 $40,210
Last weekend, Nissan Canada officially began the reservation process for the all-new electric Leaf. Within two hours, all Leaf inventory was reserved.
On August 27th, Canadians attended one of 27 Nissan Leaf certified dealers and were invited to reserve the electric vehicle for a refundable $99 deposit. Judy Wheeler, Nissan Canada’s director of marketing, said, “Response from Canadians since we first revealed the Nissan Leaf in 2009 has been astounding, so we’re not surprised that our first inventory of 40 model year ’11 cars were snapped up so quickly”.
Nissan says that Leaf deliveries will begin sometime in September for Canadians that reserved the vehicle. Nissan will also be selling 600 units of the 2012 model year Leaf sometime soon.
We’ve seen Jeremy Clarkson review some of the most beautiful and exotic cars ranging from the Bugatti Veyron to the classic Jaguar E-Type. We’ve also seen him review some of the most hideous cars like the Reliant Robin, but military vehicles? From a video game? This is a first.
Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson will be spicing up Forza Motorsport 4 with a featured role in the XBOX 360 game. With the game ready for release in October, this commercial has been released featuring the high tech M12 FAV Warthog from Halo, and the witty Jeremy Clarkson. Now gamers and auto enthusiasts are getting the best of both worlds. Interestingly, the Warthog won’t be the only vehicle that will receive Clarkson’s review. Apparently the game’s Autovista model will introduce players to a wide variety of unique vehicles.
In the short commercial, Jezza approaches the imaginary assault vehicle with his typical sarcasm and dry sense of humor, that we’ve come to know and love from his fantastic TV show. Check out the video after the jump to see the tank like all-terrain vehicle.
The high revving 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302 is known strictly for its energized 5.0-liter V8 and its adjustable suspension because it was built as a track car. It was built to go fast and handle well in the corners but one aspect of the car that could use some work is the no-frills interior.
Several owners have been complaining that the interior could use some more technology. It looks as though they may be getting their wish, as a leaked list of features includes the SYNC system. The Boss will also be getting a 4.2-inch LCD message center that will likely be the same one currently used in the Explorer and F-150. The Boss will also get HID headlights, although it is unclear whether they will be standard or an option, but what has been confirmed is that the graphics package will be available, similar to that of the 1970 Boss 302.
Read our full review of the Boss 302 here!
GALLERY: Ford Mustang Boss 302
[Source: Mustangs Daily]
Today was a great day for MINI, as the two millionth Cooper rolled off the assembly line, ten years after the start of production. British Prime Minister David Cameron was even present at the Oxford plant to drive the car out of the factory.
The MINI convertible was complete with special paintwork and extras. David Cameron declared that the ceremony that, “It’s a real privilege to drive this true British icon off the production line today. The 2 millionth MINI to be made here in Oxford is a fantastic symbol of the UK’s strength in the global automotive industry and a great British manufacturing success story. MINI is not just a symbol of our industrial past, but also the great industrial future we want to build.”
When production began at the Oxford Plant in 2001, 2,400 employees worked a single shift producing 300 cars a day. Today production has expanded to include 3,700 employees working two shifts, five days a week, building 900 cars a day. The maximum capacity of the plant has also increased from 100,000 units per year in 2001, to 200,000 units ten years later. Currently, the MINI is delivered to customers in more than 90 countries across the globe.
Jürgen Hedrich, head of Plant Oxford said: “This marks a tremendous milestone for Plant Oxford and its employees. Oxford has been the heart of MINI production for ten years. Our employees are proud to be part of this brand’s success.”
Nissan North America has recently confirmed U.S pricing for the 2012 Maxima. The Maxima is being offered as either the 3.5 S or 3.5 SV model. The 2012 Maxima 3.5 S has been priced at $31,750 and the SV model has been priced at $34,450. Pricing has not increased for the 2012 model year despite a number of significant enhancements.
For 2012, the exterior has been refreshed including a new front grill design, new rear combination lights and new 18-inch and 19-inch aluminum-alloy rims. The interior features a new meter cluster illumination colour (white), new Dark Piano-hairline trim, a new Atlantic Cherry wood tone trim, a new metallic-finish trim, and a new Cafe Latte interior colour. The audio display has also been updated as well as new exterior colours including Java Metallic and Dark Slate.
A new special Limited Edition Package is also being offered on the 3.5 S model. The package includes: smoked appearance headlights, High Intensity Discharge (HID) Xenon headlights, a compass in the rearview mirror, 18-inch aluminum-alloy Dark Hyper Silver finish rims, a rear spoiler, dark satin chrome front grille, fog lights, outside mirrors with integrated turn signals and metallic trim. This package has been priced at $710. Both models come equipped with a 290-hp 3.5-liter V6 mated to an Xtronic CVT transmission.
Off-roaders may want to listen up, this is your lucky day. Land Rover has confirmed production for the next-gen Defender SUV. The British automaker intends to launch a new Defender in 2015, and the concept version (DC100) will be present at next month’s Frankfurt Auto Show.
Gerry McGovern, Director of Design for Land Rover weighed in on the issue saying, “Replacing the iconic Defender is one of the biggest challenges in the automotive design world; it is a car that inspires people worldwide. This isn’t a production-ready concept but the beginning of a four-year journey to design a relevant Defender for the 21st century.”
The next-gen Defender is likely to be quite different than the old version in several ways. It will have a more refined design with more technological features and modern structural materials. However the new version will likely stick to the traditional simplistic approach for which the Defender is well-known.
John Edwards, Global Brand Director, Land Rover added:”Loved the world over for its simple, honest and distinctive design, we are determined that the new Defender will be true to its heritage, while meeting the requirements of a changing global market. We plan to engage with existing and potential customers to help us finalize the details of the new vehicle. One thing’s for sure, it’s going to be an exciting journey, and we can’t wait to get going.”
GALLERY: Land Rover DC100 Concept
The all-new 2012 Audi S7 is the latest edition to the automaker’s lineup of swoopy pseudo-hatchbacks, and it will be nothing less than a beast. The S7 will use the same engine as the S6 and S6 Avant, the new twin-turbo 4.0-liter TFSI V8 producing 420-hp and 405 lb-ft of torque.
The five-door coupe can accelerate from 0-62 mph in 4.9 seconds with a top speed limited to 155 mph. The engine features Audi’s “cylinder on demand” technology improving fuel consumption for an overall rating of 24 mpg. The engine is mated to a dynamic seven-speed S tronic transmission as well as with Audi’s bullit proof quattro permanent all-wheel drive system. The S7 also comes standard with the adaptive air suspension sport and the Audi drive select dynamic system. The car can be had with 19- and 20-inch wheels and dynamic steering, which varies its ratio as a function of speed, carbon-ceramic discs, and optional sport differential.
The sporty character of the S7 is carried through on the interior as well. The interior is highlighted by numerous details including the S badges, the red ring on the start-stop button , the S7 badges in the door sill trim, the aluminum strip on the S tronic gear lever and the aluminum shift paddles. The seats are height adjustable with power lumbar support. The cabin can also be styled with aluminum, carbon, natural fine grain ash and layered Beaufort oak as well as Pearl Nappa leather and Alcantara, with the leather grades Milano and Valcona, so in other words, no shortage of choice.
The S7 Sportback is scheduled for delivery starting in the spring of 2012. Look for the official debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show on September 13th.
GALLERY: 2012 Audi S7
Ford is experiencing tremendous success with its new Vista Roof option, a large panoramic sunroof available on their crossover vehicles. Take rates for the inexpensive roof option are climbing as consumers opt for more airiness and light bathed cabins.
Both the Ford Explorer and Flex are popular models featuring the Vista Roof. Almost half of Explorer buyers are opting for the $1,595 Vista Roof, despite Ford expecting a take rate of just 30-35 percent when first introduced. With Edge buyers, 56 percent are choosing the roof and 32 percent of Flex buyers opt for it as well. The Vista Roof’s success in SUVs and crossovers is due to their large interiors that can at once feel claustrophobic for rear passengers but also offer the extra space to best accommodate the headroom-snatching glasswork and mechanism.
Interestingly, there is some degree of regionality to the roof demand. Customers in hot, sunny markets are somewhat less inclined to purchase the option. However U.S coastal regions select the panoramic roof at a near 60 percent rate. Ford has attributed this success to customers desiring more open structures and having more light available. Ford’s success with the panoramic roof only betters its bottom line. One supplier said that the American automaker could be profiting 25 percent or better on the approximately $1,500 average cost.
[Source: Edmunds Auto Observer]
However, Ford can only officially say that the 2012 Focus attains 40 mpg when equipped with the Super Fuel Economy package and six-speed automatic transmission. Ford is eager to prove that the Focus is more fuel efficient regardless or its options, so the American automaker organized a media drive in Romeo, Michigan.
Ford invited reporters to drive the Elantra at a steady 45 miles per hour around the 2.5-mile track. Then the reporters drove a Focus without the SFE package and lapped the track at the same speed. Conditions were equal for both cars and an engineer sat in the backseat, monitoring the fuel economy. The results showed that the average fuel economy of the Focus was 40.4 mpg and the Elantra achieved 37.8 mpg. This proves that the Focus is more efficient at a steady 45 mph than the Elantra.
[Source: Automotive News]
Now that we know the mid 1990s Honda Civic and Accord hold the top two spots amongst car thieves, what cars do thieves avoid most?
Well, aside from the BMW 5-Series, the common denominator on this list is that these cars are all pretty dull. Interestingly, midsize SUVs and German sedans are among what the Highway Loss Data Institute deems to be undesirable to car thieves. These vehicles are likely on the list because they have proper anti-theft mechanisms that go beyond a mere alarm system. On the other hand, the Chevrolet Aveo is a rolling anti-theft system in itself.
Here’s the Top 10 car that thieves dislike:
- Audi A6 all-wheel-drive, large luxury car
- Mercury Mariner (2009-10) small SUV
- Chevrolet Equinox (2010) midsize SUV
- Volkswagen CC (2009-10), midsize car
- Chevrolet Equinox four-wheel-drive (2010) midsize SUV
- Lexus RX 350 (2010) midsize luxury SUV
- Saturn Vue midsize SUV
- Chevrolet Aveo (2009-10) mini station wagon
- BMW 5 series all-wheel-drive large luxury car
- Mini Cooper Clubman 2-door car
[Source: USA Today]
Kia Motors is participating in an 8,000 mile trip with the 2011 Optima Hybrid sedan in an effort to break the Guinness World Record for the lowest fuel consumption in a hybrid car.
Drivers Wayne Gerdes and Chris Bernius will drive through 48 states in 16 days. Both drivers are experienced fuel economy drivers and the 2011 Optima Hybrid is bone stock, in accordance to Guinness’ strict rules. The Optima set off from Kia’s plant in West Point, Georgia on August 26 and is scheduled to conclude its drive on September 10 in South Carolina.
“Fuel economy is becoming increasingly important to car buyers all around the world, and the Kia Optima Hybrid is one of our latest models to address this consumer requirement,” Senior Executive Vice President & COO of Kia Motors Corporation Thomas Oh, said.
Currently, the Guinness World Record for lowest fuel consumption in a hybrid car was set in October 2010 using a Toyota Auris Hybrid. Amazingly, the Toyota covered 307.58 miles while only using 4.53 gallons of fueling, achieving 67.89 mpg.
GALLERY: Kia Optima
[Source: Left Lane News]