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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.
A dizzying line of taillights that goes on for miles is enough to ruin anyone’s day. Pressure mounts in your temples and your skull feels like it’s going to crack. Welcome to the traffic jam migraine.
Don’t worry though, the commuter’s burden will eventually be a thing of the past. If there’s one thing luxury cars are good at doing, it’s showing us technology we can expect in econo-boxes years down the road. One of the latest features found at the forefront of cool luxury tech could stand to silence screams from angry drivers stuck in traffic: autonomous driving.
BMW is showcasing a video on YouTube that gives details on their highly-automated driving mode, which essentially drives the car for you.
Nico Kaempchen, the project manager behind the technology, explains that the car will fully take over driving under certain circumstances, but that the driver remains in control at all times. During that period, the car takes advantage of four different sensor systems to stay on track: radar, cameras, laser scanners and ultrasonics.
It’s not as simple as gluing a few sensors onto a 5-Series and hitting the road. Kaempchen tells us in the video that they need to map each road out that the car drove itself on down to the very inch (or centimeter as he says it).
BMW isn’t the only manufacturer to play with the idea of a car that drives itself. On January 24 we published a story about Volvo testing similar technology in what they call a road-train. Of course for Volvo to be involved it had to do with more than convenience. Their iteration involves a self-piloted convoy that can interact with independent traffic with the goal of making the road safer.
BMW ends their video by saying that the research they conducted will go towards improving already existent systems like their Traffic Jam Assistant. We’re not sure how far to look into the future for mass production, but rest assured when it’s here we’ll have a different outlook on traffic jams. You can watch the video below.
BMWs in certain markets may be getting a “Made In China” code in their VIN numbers starting at the end of 2011, as the company plans to export Chinese made 5-Series sedans to certain markets.
The Truth About Cars quotes the CEO of BMW’s Chinese operations as stating “We will find some markets, maybe in the Middle East, somewhere in Asia, or some other markets that welcome the products where we can test this export effort. The main market of course is here (in China), because we can’t even supply enough here.”
The 5-Series is built in China as part of a joint venture with Brilliance. TTAC’s China expert Bertel Schmitt claims that the quality of cars built in Chinese/foreign joint ventures is no worse than vehicles built in Japan, America or any other country (and sometimes better). The 5-Series is a popular vehicle in China, with a long-wheelbase version regarded as a status symbol for wealthy Chinese who can afford a driver.
[Source: The Truth About Cars]
12. Toyota Camry
While automakers and outside research firms publish sales figures and earnings reports on a regular basis, one metric we rarely get a glimpse of is how profitable each vehicle is. In an era of re-badging and platform sharing, one would think that the most profitable vehicles are those with a large number of derivatives to spread the cost around. But a new report from Bernstein Research suggests that two factors – price point and volume – are the keys to making big bucks off vehicles. And judging by the list, longevity seems to help as well.
Number 12 on the list is the Toyota Camry, and for good reason. The Camry has a number of factors in its favor – massive volumes, an accessible price point and its made in America (currency fluctuations, particularly a rise in the euro or yen, can make exports unprofitable). Bernstein’s report notes that high volume cars at a medium price point are one of the keys to profitability, and the Camry might be the textbook definition of this formula. The Camry’s twin, the Lexus ES350, was absent from the list, but no doubt earns its keep, as a gilded version of the Camry.
The BMW 5-Series ActiveHybrid will make its debut at this December’s Tokyo Auto Show, featuring BMW’s familiar twin-turbo I6 engine and an electric motor that will produce a total output of 340 horsepower. Backed by an 8-speed automatic, the car will be able to operate in pure electric mode up to 37 mph.
The ActiveHybrid’s 55 horsepower electric motor will be powered by a trunk mounted lithium-ion battery pack, and also allow the driver to coast with the gasoline engine shut off. A boost function will also enable rapid acceleration, though BMW did not elaborate on its exact nature. An energy management system is said to work in concert with the car’s GPS unit to adjust for road conditions.
BMW also markets hybrid versions of the 7-series and X6. A 3-Series Hybrid will bow in 2012, while the i3 and i8 electric cars will debut in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
BMW held a dealer presentation in the Netherlands and a leak has rumors stirring that the upcoming M550d will officially come with 381-hp and 516 lb-ft of torque from its tri-turbo, inline-six diesel powerplant.
Even though the horsepower figure comes in lower than the early speculations of over 500-hp, the torque is pretty impressive. It also appears that the M550d will be AWD only with production beginning next March. It is not yet known if this F10-generation M550d will make its way to North America, but we could be seeing the tri-turbo diesel in other BMW models including the X5 and X6.
BMW is recalling 32,000 vehicles in order to replace potentially faulty electric auxiliary water pumps. An issue can cause the water pumps to overheat, potentially causing a vehicle fire. Models impacted by the recall include 2008-2011 5-Series, 5-Series Gran Turismo, 7-Series, X5 and X6 equipped with either the eight- or 12-cylinder turbocharged engines.
Two engine compartment fires have already been reported with 102 cases of pump failures worldwide. No crashes or injuries have been reported due to the issues however. The pump in question is an auxiliary pump that helps cool the turbocharger and in case of failure can cause the circuit board to overheat. BMW said in cases that this does occur, a warning message will illuminate on the instrumental cluster.
The issue was first discovered in June of 2009 on a test vehicle and in April 2010, a smoldered electrical cable of the water pump was found on a BMW-owned vehicle. Owners impacted by the recall will be contacted next month with BMW replacing the faulty electric auxiliary water pump.
Toyo Tires has just announced their vehicle lineup for this year’s SEMA Show, bringing four high-profile and customized vehicles to their booth and announcing three of them today.
Headlining the debuts will be the Toyo Tires Ultimate Ride Sweepstakes 2011 Dodge Durango, which will also be given away to a lucky winner. Along with the Durango, Toyo will have a 2011 Ford F-150 Raptor, a 2011 BMW 5-Series customized by Wald, and a yet-to-be-announced vehicle at their booth.
The giveaway Durango is a Mineral Gray Metallic Heat Edition 4×4 features a set of Toyo Proxes ST II rubber matched with 22-inch Savini Forged SV28c wheels. The Durango is further modified with a Magnaflow exhaust system while Mega Motorsports outfits it with a custom Alpine Audio entertainment system. Roadwire further modifies the interior with black leather upholstery contrasted with blue stitching. Up front is a T-REX four-piece flat black mesh grill featuring a UFC logo. Those attending the show will have the opportunity to scan a QR code to automatically enter themselves into the giveaway.
Second on the list is a custom Ford F-150 Raptor done by Street Concepts. The exterior features a Snow Camo vehicle wrap with 20×9-inch matte black Fuel Boost wheels wrapped with Toyo’s Open Country M/T rubber. The F-150 will be show-ready at SEMA thanks to Icon Vehicle Dynamics’ suspension, Brembo brakes, new bumpers and lighting. On the inside, Street Concepts gave the interior a carbon fiber-wrapped interior accented by black Alcantara. Kenwood supplies the in-car audio on this truck project.
Last of the announced vehicles will be a complete Wald F10 Black Bison, a customized 2011 BMW 5-Series. The 5-Series will feature a full Wald Black Bison body kit with 20-inch Wald R12 two-piece wheels paired with Toyo Proxes T1 Sport UHP tires.
The fourth vehicle remains a secret but Toyo promises it’ll be a crowd-stopping show car. Autoguide.com will be sure to stop by Toyo’s booth at this year’s SEMA Show to see these masterpieces in person.
GALLERY: Toyo Tires 2011 SEMA Lineup
The results for the most successful cars of 2011 so far are in. Automotive data and marketing solutions company Polk has calculated the results from the first six months of 2011 new vehicle registrations and have come up with the top picks for non-premium and premium models.
These results look at model-level performance and determine which ones are doing well so far this year. It’s also important to note that the March Japanese earthquake/tsunamis have had an impact on these results, and the inventory shortages for Toyota and Honda caused by the disaster have impacted the June 2011 CYTD (Calendar Year To Date) retail results for these brands.
Here’s a list of the winners so far, along with the June 2011 CYTD year-over-year improvements in new retail registrations.
1. Hyundai Sonata (+32%)
2. Volkswagen Jetta (+69%)
3. Ford Fiesta (not on sale in 2010)
4. Chevrolet Cruze/Cobalt (+178%)
5. Jeep Grand Cherokee (+170%)
Other non-premium models that performed well in the first half of 2011 include the Optima, Regal, 200/Sebring, Durango, Elantra and Equinox.
1. Cadillac CTS (+54%)
2. BMW 5-Series (+56%)
3. Jaguar XJ (+273%)
4. Porsche Cayenne (+178%)
5. BMW X3 (+276%)
An honorable mention goes out to the Volvo S60, another premium model that has performed well in 2011.
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]
The development of the Jaguar XF wagon is still a work in progress for the British automaker. Ford’s product planners did not include a wagon body style when the sedan was first designed and Jaguar engineers have had to develop the XF estate from square one, with the project has becoming considerably more expensive and complex.
Some insiders have suggested the XF wagon will be the same length as the sedan. The Jag will also share styling cues with the XJ, as the wraparound rear pillars will be present, giving the estate a cleaner looking back end compared to the X-type wagon. The British automaker is aiming for the vehicle to be as practical as the Audi A6 Avant and BMW 5-series, with space comparable to the large Mercedes-Benz E-class estate.
The XF will most likely debut at the Geneva or Paris auto show in 2012. Unfortunately, the vehicle probably won’t arrive stateside since there is minimal demand for wagons.
If there’s any car out there that proves less is more, it’s this BMW 528i built by Evan and featured on Canibeat.com. Obviously the 5-Series is a luxury sedan before anything else, but who says you can’t add a little sportiness to your luxury? This 5-Series started by being outfitted with BMW’s M Sport kit, but it’s 3D Design’s components that really make it stand out. Subtle and clean, the M Sport front lip, carbon fiber splitters and carbon fiber rear diffuser completely transforms the 5-Series.
In addition to the 3D Design kit, Evan shaved the annoying reflectors off the M Sport front bumper and swapped out his stock kidney grilles for a pair from the 528i’s bigger brother, the 550i. From there, getting a proper stance and wheel and tire combination was crucial to perfect the look and Evan hit the nail on the head. A staggered set of 21-inch Rennen RM7 Extreme Concave 3-piece forged wheels are seen on each corner, wrapped with Falken’s FK-452 tires for a perfect fit. CKS coilovers gives the BMW a lowered stance without compromising the luxurious ride quality.
The last finishing touch was a custom quad-tipped exhaust by Royal Muffler.
GALLERY: 3D Design-Equipped M Sport BMW 528i
BMW claims it is the cleanest 5-Series ever and out performs its closest rivals by 10 percent when it comes to mpg. The 520d EfficientDynamics sedan achieves 62.8 mpg and emits 119g/km of CO2 emissions. The car still uses the 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine which produces 184-hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. The 520d can accelerate to 62 mph in 8.2 seconds.
The BMW will also feature auto start-stop technology, an optimum gearshift indicator, brake energy regeneration and active aerodynamics. The vehicle has a longer final drive ratio to reduce engine revs at highway speeds and low rolling resistance tires on streamline-design alloy rims.
The ECO-PRO Mode allows economical and comfortable driving at low speeds by adjusting the engine mapping, throttle sensitivity, automatic gearshift points, climate control and heated seats.
The 520d will go on sale in September from £30,435.
[Source: Auto Express]
BMW will expand its Chinese joint venture with local automaker Brilliance, in an effort to build 300,000 cars per year in China. BMW’s joint venture near Beijing currently builds the 3-Series and 5-Series, and will add the X1 crossover in 2012.
Plans call for new factories dedicated to vehicle assembly, stamping and a paint shop. These plants will be good for an additional 200,000 units according to BMW.
With China now serving as BMW’s third largest market, expanding domestic production makes sense for the brand, with BMW Chaiman Norbert Reithofer noting that “BMW vehicles are very popular in China. We anticipate that this growth will continue in the future.”
[Source: Inside Line]
BMW and Chinese automaker Brilliance have joined forces to create a plug-in hybrid version of the 5-Series long wheelbase sedan sold in the Chinese market.
Set to be revealed at the Shanghai Auto Show in April, the 5-Series plug-in will back an unspecified displacement turbocharged engine making 215 horsepower and a 94 horsepower electric motor. The car can travel 47 miles on pure electric power at a speed of 37 mph. The 5-Series plug-in will be produced in 2013, but it will not be sold in other markets, as the car was specifically designed for the Chinese market and their needs.
BMW is planning to expand its range yet again, with reports of an upcoming 4-Series lineup that would compete against the Audi A5 Sportback in the burgeoning sporty hatchback segment.
Rumors have been flying about a possible 3-Series GT, a complement to the crossover-like 5-Series GT (shown above), but this may in fact be part of the supposed 4-Series models, which would include a coupe, sedan and even a convertible.
For now, the rumors are merely conjecture, and any vehicle wouldn’t arrive until 2013 at the earliest, but with the German marques making such a push to fill every possible niche market, count this one as more likely to happen than not.
Discuss this story at 4series.org
Purists may scoff at the 4-door MINI Countryman and its betrayal of “brand values”, but BMW’s bean counters are laughing all the way to the bank as the company credits the newest MINI with helping profits surge 15-fold in 2010. BMW’s net income was recorded at 3.23 billion euros in 2010, up from 210 million euros in 2009.
BMW also credited increased demand for the 5-Series, particularly in China, as well as the new X1 crossover. The launch of the re-designed X3 and 6-Series should help BMW deliver a record 1.5 million vehicles in 2011.
There wouldn’t be much of a Geneva Motor Show if AC Schnitzer didn’t have a thing or two up its sleeves to announce. For this year’s show, we now know they’ll at least be debuting a new ACS 5 Sport S and 99d vehicles, based on the BMW 550i and Z4 respectively. With both priced at the same amount, approximately $205,785, it probably comes down to if you want a nice sports car or a sedan.
Not exactly falling in the category of cheap, let’s take a look at what you get for your money from AC Schnitzer. The ACS5 Sport S, based on the BMW 550i, has its performance enhanced to 540-hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. A limited slip differential upgrade also comes with the engine modifications. No more details are given on the ACS5 Sport S, but clearly AC Schnitzer will also outfit the vehicle’s exterior with its traditional body kit, trunk and roof spoiler, suspension modifications and a set of fashionable AC Schnitzer fashionable wheels.
The same probably goes with the 99d, based off of BMW’s Z4. For its performance, AC Schnitzer sent the unconventional route and based it off of BMW’s 320d Efficient Dynamics Edition powerplant. The result is 190-hp with 310 ft-lbs of torque. The aesthetics feature much flashier graphics than the 5-Series counterpart does and we’re better ACS has an announcement to make about having your sports car and being green.
Set to debut in Geneva, we’ll be on hand to bring you more on these cars with show coverage starting March 1st.
GALLERY: AC Schnitzer ACS5 Sport S and 99d
Each spring, a jury of 66 automotive journalists from around the globe get together to pick a winner for the World Car of the Year title. The journalists are asked to vote by secret ballot, selecting the winner from 10 cars that have made the final cut.
For the 2011 awards, those finalists have now been announced. They are: Audi A1, Audi A8, BMW 5-Series, BMW X3, Jaguar XJ, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG (shown above), Nissan LEAF, Porsche Cayenne and Volvo S60/V60.
And yes, the much hyped Chevrolet Volt didn’t make the cut this time around, perhaps next year when it becomes more widely available.
Now that the finalists for this year’s awards have been announced, the jurors will ‘re-evaluate’ each vehicle on merit, value, safety, emotional appeal, significance and environmental impact. Once the findings of these evaluations have been tabulated, the shortlist will be whittled down to three vehicles, which will be announced at the Geneva Auto Show next month. The actual World Car of Year winner, will be announced at the New York International Auto Show on April 21st; the final ballots being tabulated by international accounting firm KPMG.
The World Car Awards were first instigated in 2003 to reflect a more global automotive landscape and complement existing national and regional Car of the Year award programs.
Past WCOTY winners have generally been cars that have proved popular in many countries around the world. The first car to actually win the accolade, back in 2005, was the Audi A6, while past winners have included other top selling cars such as the BMW 3-Series; Mazda 2 and Volkswagen Golf.
The long awaited next generation BMW M5 will get its first showing in (lightly disguised) concept form at the Shanghai Auto Show. With China becoming a rapidly important market for BMW (read: sales are booming), the new car, codenamed the F10, will surely be a hit with performance-minded buyers in China and the world over.
The sublime V10 is expected to be jettisoned in favor of a new twin-turbo V8, as seen in the X5M and X6M. Rumors state that the car will also feature ceramic brakes (a first for any BMW), and we can similarly expect to see some kind of dual clutch transmission. The new V8 makes 555 horsepower and 510 lb-ft in the SUVs, and a bump in power wouldn’t be unreasonable for what is arguably BMW’s flagship M car. The most significant development of course, is that BMW chose to reveal the car at Shanghai, but this still leaves the door open for an official production unveiling at September’s Frankfurt Auto Show, which is of course, BMW’s home turf.
[Source: 4 Wheels News]
Some driving schools teach you the rules of the road. Others show you how to get the most out of your car while driving at the limit on a closed circuit. A rarefied few, like BMW‘s facility in the former East Germany, can show you how to get away with life and limb intact should you ever come under an armed assault.
With BMW’s lineup of factory armored cars, sold under the BMW Security lineup, are frequently sold to customers who live in locales where the rule of law isn’t always stringently enforced. The armor plating helps these types of BMW owners defend themselves against bullets or bombs, but the other half of the equation is driving training. The BMW facility, stationed at a former Soviet airbase, is a prime location to teach evasive driving maneuvers, and as the video below explains, it’s pretty badass.
Video after the jump
Studie AG is one of the rare but well-known Japanese tuners that specialize in European vehicles, more specifically BMWs. Over the past decade Studie AG has customized a huge range of BMWs, from vibrant to subtle, race cars to street cars. Their newest creation is a 2010 BMW 5-Series GT that has received a flat green ‘Safari’ theme.
The BMW F07 Safari was introduced at the 2010 BMW Familie event, sporting an interesting theme to the entire project. The exterior received a treatment from AC Schnitzer, which was slightly modified to incorporate LEDs in the front. The stock wheels were quickly dumped for AC Schnitzer’s Type IV wheels, measuring in at 19×8.5-inch and 19×9.5-inch. (19s never looked so small).
To complement the flat green exterior, white decals were added giving the project more of a military/camo style to go with the Safari theme. We’re actually digging the fact that Studie AG didn’t lower the car to its bumpers, further reflecting the Safari theme.
GALLERY: Studie AG BMW 5-Series GT Safari
[Source: Jon Sibal]
Good news for the economy, not-so-great news for BMW and Mercedes-Benz factory workers who had travel plans over the holiday season. In order to meet the growing demand for new models, these two automakers have decided to shorten Christmas breaks this year.
This shortened vacation policy applies to BMW’s German plants in Dingolfing and Leipzig, as well as Mercedes-Benz’ Hamburg factory. The BMW factory is where the recently overhauled 5-Series and the X1 are made, and the Mercedes plant supplies parts to vehicles including the Mercedes E- and S-Class sedans.
While workers might be grumbling about there shortened holidays, this is great news for the automakers and the economy. It shows that luxury-vehicle demand is back – in fact, BMW and Mercedes each target sales growth of more than 10 percent this year. Business is also booming for Audi as well (the luxury unit of Volkswagen AG), as they have plans to add shifts next month to address a record number of orders.
As for sales, BMW increased sales worldwide by 13 percent to 1.19 million vehicles through October (this includes Mini and Rolls-Royce models, which the company manufactures), while deliveries of Mercedes and the Smart city car rose 12 percent to 1.04 million.
It’s nice to get some good news about the economy for a change, and the experts remain optimistic as well. “This is the first strong signal that the boom over the last few months can continue into next year,” said Juergen Pieper, a Frankfurt-based analyst with Bankhaus Metzler.
[Source: Automotive News]
Most people’s perception of BMW owners is likely rooted in negative stereotypes; the inattentive soccer mom driving her X5 while on the phone or a douchey, sunglasses wearing M3 driver, blasting techno while holding the wheel with one hand.
BMW is hoping to conquer this by releasing a video called “BMW Unscripted”. The video shows BMW’s being used as cross-country motorcycles, ferrying wildlife observers into the African desert and as the infamous “Ring-Taxi” on Germany’s Nurburgring race track. We also see some brief glimpses of meerkats and a gorgeous BMW 3.0CS.
Hit the jump to see the official video
Reports say that BMW is looking to re-brand the 6-Series lineup as the 5-Series Coupe and Convertible, to better align themselves with the Mercedes-Benz E-Class range.
The E-Class Coupe and Convertible were once known as the CLK, but Mercedes decided bring them under the E-Class lineup. Having already built up significant brand equity in the 6-Series nameplate, the 6-Series would become the nameplate for the BMW Gran Coupe, positioned against the Mercedes-Benz CLS and Audi A7.