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.
Despite recently released distracted driving guidelines targeting in-car navigation systems, Chevrolet announced its new GogoLink smartphone app that delivers full-function navigation to the Spark and Sonic’s MyLink infotainment system.
Imagine what the NTSB thinks about this, an application on a smartphone that provides plenty of distracting pictures on the vehicle’s infotainment system. Nonetheless, the aim of the GogoLink smartphone app is to provide a cost efficient in-car navigation option for those buying the more affordable Spark and Sonic models from Chevy. The app even has live traffic updates.
Those visiting the upcoming New York Auto Show can take it for a test drive at the Chevrolet booth. According to Cristi Landy, Chevrolet marketing director for small cars, about 90 percent of Spark and Sonic owners have a smartphone.
“This technology is typically found on cars costing far more, but next-gen customers are accustomed to being connected. By using a smartphone app, Chevrolet found a smart and safe way to provide navigation,” she said.
GogoLink will be available after the Spark goes on sale, so early adopters of the Spark will have to swing by the dealer to get a software update. Pricing for GogoLink hasn’t been announced yet.
Watch GM’s webisode on the GogoLink Navigation app after the break.
Discuss this story on SparkTalk.com.
GALLERY: GogoLink Navigation App
General Motors is going to some pretty extreme lengths to capture a younger audience. The automaker’s latest tactic was to hire MTV Scratch to head its latest marketing campaign.
So you might ask yourself: “What’s so newsworthy about that?” General Motors – one of the largest, well-known and well-established car brands is handing over its marketing to the same marketing company behind quality programming like Jersey Shore and Teen Mom. Yeah, you can say that GM is definitely going in a different direction.
Apparently, GM is having a problem getting the younger generation to care about cars – and that’s where MTV Scratch comes in. “They think of a car as a giant bummer,” said Ross Martin, executive vice president of MTV Scratch. “Think about your dashboard. It’s filled with nothing but bad news.”
Based on some of the marketing research, GM has made a few changes to its cars to appeal to this younger audience. For example, new Chevrolet colors, like “techno pink,” “lemonade” and “denim” will be seen on the Spark this summer.
We wonder what these new MTV Scratch-produced campaigns will look like. Uber-tanned twenty-somethings sporting skin-tight clothes and big hair fist-pumping to tunes cranked out of a Sonic? You stay classy, General Motors.
[Source: New York Times]
It might not make sense to trade your gas guzzler in for a more fuel-efficient car, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping people.
Sub-compact and compact car sales are spiking this year, according to J.D. Power and Associates. It seems that both segments are growing, but the smaller sibling is winning out among American consumers, probably because of rising fuel prices.
The average gallon of gas across the U.S. sells for $3.80 today and is expected to climb in the coming months, as is common in during the warmer seasons. That seems to be driving consumer preferences toward cars like the Scion iQ, Chevrolet Sonic and Fiat 500 which might have seemed unthinkable a couple of years ago.
In fact, both segments are outpacing growth in the rest of the industry, which saw an 11.5 percent sales gain over last year. Sub-compact deliveries grew by 37.7 percent, while compacts enjoyed a 13.3 percent increase.
What’s more, 23.6 percent of sub-compact owners traded in their fuel efficient car or crossover for another sub-compact. More models are also being traded in for smaller cars at dealerships this year compared to last.
So it seems that the small cars some people looked at with disdain a few years ago are actually gaining popularity. Maybe Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne will be able to announce good news for his brand’s U.S. sales for a change.
[Source: J. D. Power and Associates]
For this year’s Super Bowl ad, Chevrolet looks to share all of the Sonic stunts it pulled off the past year which ranges from skydiving to bungee jumping to kick flipping and performing with OK GO in creating a music a video. While clearly these stunts aren’t made to inspire you to do wild and crazy things with your Sonic, it does a great job in generating buzz surrounding the new GM compact as an exciting and exhilarating vehicle to own and drive.
Chevrolet will be one of 11 automakers running ads during the Super Bowl this year and is expected to have a total of seven commercials on Sunday. Three will be during the big game, two before and two after. Watch the ad after the break.
GM continued flexing their marketing prowess with a new promotion for the Chevy Sonic, creating the world’s largest claw game on Hollywood Boulevard out in Los Angeles.
The five-story 3D projection of a claw game was created on the side of The Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles, California and even won itself a spot in the Guiness World Book of Records for being the world’s largest claw game. Passer-bys were able to line up for a chance to use a human-sized joystick to direct the claw – which was essentially a huge projection on the side of the building – and had a chance to win prizes. The top prize of course was a brand new 2012 Chevy Sonic, but other prizes included a $4,000 vacation and a Burton snowboard.
Check out a video after the break showcasing the concept behind the World’s Largest Claw Game and how it all worked.
The 2012 Chevrolet Sonic is besting the competition for safety ratings, for now. The little sub-compact Sonic scored a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to beat out the Ford Fiesta, which only scored four out of five.
Safety isn’t the only thing we’re pleased to say makes the Sonic great, it’s a peppy starter car that comes available with a six-speed manual and a turbocharged four-cylinder that had us scooting past the speed limit with surprising ease. It also comes with 10 standard airbags.
The Sonic still has to go up against its other competition: this year’s Kia Rio and Honda Fit, which both have yet to be rated. The 2012 Nissan Versa sedan also still has to be rated, but the verdict isn’t looking good for its hatchback brother with three of five in the frontal crash category and four of five in rollovers.
Poor ratings aside, the Sonic hasn’t won the race yet. It got four out of five stars in the rollover category, so there is still a chance the unrated cars can equal or best it.
Of course, that rating is coming hot off the heels of a recall over missing brake pads in the Sonic. We’re willing to assume the rating is based on completely assembled cars.
The Sonic is also a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Read Autoguide’s Chevy Sonic review here.
We’re 75 percent there! Well not really, you can probably guess what’s hiding behind the last square in Buick‘s little puzzle-style picture of their Encore small SUV. In case you’re missing the joke, it’s a wheel.
GM hasn’t released details about the Encore yet, though we can make a couple of educated guesses to tide you over until the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, where it will officially debut.
We do know that it will take advantage of the sub-compact Chevrolet Sonic‘s architecture. We are expecting to see GM’s new 1.4-liter and maybe 1.6-liter turbocharged four cylinder engines, as well as options for front- and all-wheel drive choices.
We’ll be in Detroit for the show, offering up-to-date information starting a week from today. Until then, see AutoGuide’s complete Detroit Auto Show Preview here.
Chevy is recalling certain 2012 Sonics, manufactured between June 2, 2011,through November 21, 2011 because of brake system issues.
The recall was issued because the front inner or outer brake pad might be missing from the Sonic, which can cause a loss in brake system power and result in a collision. There is an estimated total of 4,296 Sonics which are affected by the recall. GM says that if you bring your Sonic into a local dealer the mechanics will inspect the front brakes, and if there is a pad missing it will be replaced by the company.
For more info check out the NHTSA website.
5. 2012 Mazda3 Skyactiv
What’s the best car of 2012? Who knows. Is a Porsche GT3 RS 4.0 better than a Ferrari 458 Italia? What about the Scion FR-S? Or a Prius Plug-in Hybrid? The past year has seen the launch of numerous excellent vehicles, including some we really didn’t expect to be any good. That said, we’ve put together our list of the top five surprisingly good cars of 2012, starting with the updated Mazda3.
We thoroughly enjoyed the new 3 (read our 2012 Mazda3 review here), something that’s not at all surprising at first. What is more of a shock is that it was Mazda’s new Skyactiv model, designed primarily for fuel economy, and that it managed to deliver in that department while sticking true to the brand’s Zoom-Zoom slogan.
Adding to our reasons for placing this car on our list of surprisingly good cars is the technology behind it. At both a preview event and the actual drive, Mazda gave us a deep-dive into the engineering solutions behind its new SkyActiv technologies, rethinking every aspect of the engine and transmission for this updated model. When Ford sold off its shares in Mazda recently many skeptics proclaimed that in this new era a smaller company like Mazda couldn’t possibly hope to be competitive without a large partner like, say, Toyota. But Mazda has proved them wrong, not only competing, but perhaps delivering the the only 40 mpg car that’s actually fun to drive.
Rob Dyrdek, MTV-reality and action sports-star, decided to do something no man has successfully done in a car. Out at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California, Dyrdek strapped himself into an all-new 2012 Chevy Sonic and performed a kickflip in it – that’s a 360-degree rotation in mid-air.
This was of course part of MTV’s Fantasy Factory and they were onsite filming for season five’s premiere, but of course other people were also on hand to capture the quickly executed stunt to share with us before the show’s premiere. This is also a good marketing move for Chevrolet and their new Sonic, since Dyrdek is a self-proclaimed Chevy guy.
Check out the video of Dyrdek becoming the first man to successfully kickflip a car after the break.
[Source: DUB Magazine]
Making its way on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick for 2012 is the all-new Buick Verano. This raises General Motors IIHS Top Safety Pick award count to 14 in 2012 – not too shabby.
Equipped with 10 standard air bags, the Verano came out with a good score in the IIHS tests for front and side crash tests, roof strength test, and rear impact test. The Verano also features standard electronic stability control, which the IIHS requires for Top Safety Pick designation.
“GM set a goal that every new product would be designed to meet or exceed the third-party metrics that IIHS and others use to communicate crash worthiness to consumers,” said Gay Kent, GM executive director of Vehicle Safety. “We are now seeing the results from that commitment.”
Of the GM vehicles that made it to IIHS’s 2012 Top Safety Pick award list, 13 models had previously qualified for the 2011 award. These vehicles were carried over to 2012 because its structure is substantially the same as the IIHS tested for 2011. Carrying over for 2012 awards are the Buick LaCrosse, Regal and Enclave; the Chevrolet Cruze, Sonic, Volt, Equinox, Malibu and Traverse; the Cadillac CTS (sedan) and SRX, and GMC Terrain and Acadia.
Americans have been historically unreceptive to small cars, and the 2013 Chevrolet Spark represents uncharted territory for the brand, which will introduce their first B-segment car since the Chevrolet Metro, long the butt of jokes for American society.
Unveiled at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show, the Spark measures two feet shorter than the already compact Chevrolet Sonic, but is only 6 inches shorter than the Chevrolet Equinox mid-size crossover. These dimensions leave us a bit skeptical, as the whole package seems a tad top-heavy, but the 1.2L 4-cylinder engine only makes 85-horsepower, so high-speed cornering is more theoretical than realistic.
We do like the 2,269-lb curb weight, as well as the 7-inch touch screen and Bluetooth integration. The Spark has done well in a number of world markets where physical space is at a premium, and considering how much we liked the Sonic, we’re optimistic that the Spark will be a fun, if not sporty, urban runabout.
Gallery: 2013 Chevrolet Spark
Following our coverage of the Chevrolet Sonic Ricky Carmichael Concept and the Chevrolet Sonic Super 4 Concept, AutoGuide got to sit down with both Ricky Carmichael and John Buttermore, the men behind the two vehicles.
Carmichael and Buttermore were kind enough to walk us through the two cars and explained the philosophies behind the two very different Sonics. Check out the videos after the jump.
For more coverage of the 2011 SEMA Show, click here
Chevrolet unveiled the first of what will surely be many concept cars based on their new Sonic compact car, with a lifestyle/tuner car designed with input by Motocross legend and NASCAR driver Ricky Carmichael, and a ready-to-go racer intended for SCCA competition.
The Sonic All Activity Vehicle – Ricky Carmichael Concept features a full suite of interior and exterior accessories, including OEM Z-Spec body treatments, an interior made by Fox Motocross from their board short material, and the familiar 1.4L Chevrolet turbocharged 4-cylinder engine to ensure that there’s some go to back up the “show” element.
The Sonic Super 4 Concept, despite the goofy name, is a full-blown race car that is intended to be a turnkey, SCCA-legal car with a proper rollcage, harnesses and a fire suppression system, the Sonic Super 4 is the perfect counterpart to the Ricky Carmichael Concept – it ain’t pretty, but it’s probably very good at its intended mission. The Super 4 uses the same 1.4L turbo 4-banger and 6-speed gearbox as the Ricky Carmichael Concept, but in this application, definitely gets put to much better usage.
Check out the rest of AutoGuide’s SEMA coverage here
Gallery: Chevrolet Sonic Ricky Carmichael Concept and Super 4 Concept
Chevrolet will make their small cars the focus of the brand’s presence at the upcoming SEMA Show, bringing a huge collection of customized Sonics and Cruzes to the show floor. The majority of the Sonics and Cruzes coming from Chevrolet will feature products from the Z-Spec lineup, including performance, styling and personalization accessories.
Chevy isn’t revealing the custom Sonics and Cruzes built by some of the country’s top builders yet, but they did release teaser details (and a few pics), commenting that they’ll be bringing their Z-Spec #1, Z-Spec #2, Z-Spec 4D Concept and Dusk for their Sonic line. The pair of Cruzes Chevy will be showing off are the Cruze Z-Spec and Cruze Dusk.
Z-Spec #1 will be a turbocharged Sonic five-door sporting a collection of concept Z-Spec accessories. A ground effects kit, spoiler, unique grille and graphics package are applied to a Torch Red exterior further accented by a set of 18-inch Z-Spec concept wheels. On the inside, perforated black suede seat inserts, a Z-Spec sport pedal kit, sport shift knob and racing-style flat-bottom steering wheel accent the interior. Performance comes from four-piston brake calipers, new suspension and a high-flow exhaust system.
Z-Spec #2 is similar to the Z-Spec #1, but features a more aggressive exterior styling package and will be shown off in a Flat White with Torch Red accents. The 4D Concept will show off the sedan accessories in an Ashen Gray Metallic finish while the Dusk is a subtle Berlin Blue exterior with 18-inch wheels in a dark Galvano Silver finish.
For the Cruzes, the Z-Spec will feature a ground effects package, 18-inch wheels, an accessory spoiler and a high-flow grille. A new stripe package is also added to the exterior while the interior accessories are similar to the Sonic’s offerings. The Cruze Dusk will also be similar to the Sonic Dusk, offering a look at a more subtle package of accessories and upgrades.
GALLERY: Chevrolet SEMA Sonics
See AutoGuide’s complete 2011 SEMA Show preview here and look for coverage starting November 1st.
While General Motors has had major success in South Korea, Japan has eluded GM for some time. The American automaker is hoping to reverse that trend with the introduction of their Chevrolet Sonic small car, which will be positioned above domestic entrants like the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris.
GM is launching a television campaign, a rarity for an American automaker, and pricing the Sonic at 1.89 million yen, or about $24,550. Japanese consumers consider a price tag of 2 million yen (about $26,000) as the cut-off for an “affordable” car. GM is hoping that the Sonic, which will only be offered in fully-loaded trim levels, will appeal to Japanese consumers that want to stand out from the crowd.
Chevrolet’s sales in Japan are minimal, but the brand has a high profile as an importer of quintessentially American vehicles like muscle cars and SUVs, which has given Chevrolet a cult following in Japan.
[Source: Automotive News]
According to the EPA, the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic will receive a lower rating than GM’s optimistic 40-mpg figure. The standard model with a five-speed manual transmission, powered by a 1.8L four-cylinder with 135-hp is getting an EPA-estimated 26/35/29-mpg rating for city/highway/combined. The six-speed automatic transmission is just slightly less at 25/35/28-mpg. The 1.4L turbocharged four-cylider with 138-hp does achieve the 40-mpg rating however.
This news makes the Sonic a little more disappointing, despite its price point. Those seeking the best mpg might not even look its way, as its larger Cruze counterpart gets 25/36/29-mpg with the same 1.8L and six-speed manual transmission while the Cruze Eco with an automatic transmission gets 26/39/31-mpg. For now, the Aveo successor will have to compete on price with the base LS model starting at $13,735 while the LTZ can top out at $17,235 in hatchback form – or $17,935 for the turbocharged 1.4L.
The long-anticipated replacement for the Aveo, the Chevrolet Sonic, is set to drop in August. But a strike at the Sonic’s plant could delay this—thanks to a pay discrepancy among assembly workers.
The Sonic is being built by workers at the Orion assembly plant in Michigan, under the supervision of supplier LINC Logistics Co. Workers here make $10 per hour as opposed to the $14 to $28 they would make if they were UAW members at a GM plant. And today, workers at the Orion plant voted in overwhelming favor to authorize a strike, with 98% of workers voting yes.
Negotiations for a pay increase are set to increase soon, and with this authorization, union leaders could call for a work stoppage anytime. Despite this, GM spokespeople believe that the Sonic will still be released on time, as scheduled. Good luck, folks.
General Motors is pumping $109 million into its Ecotec program in Michigan, in order to support ongoing production of the 1.4-liter engine shared by three Chevrolet models as well as keeping/adding 96 jobs in Michigan.
$84 million of that money goes to GM’s engine plant in Flint to increase production capacity, while the rest is earmarked for Bay City, which produces the Ecotec’s connecting rods and camshafts. This latest effort is part of GM’s 2-billion-dollar initiative to preserve more than 4,000 jobs in 17 facilities across 8 states.
“This investment marks the second major increase in engine and engine component output in less than six months,” said Terri Burden, Flint’s plant manager, “a sign that GM is moving quickly to meet growing demand for more fuel-efficient cars.” Earlier this month GM announced a $131 million investment in its Bowling Green, Kentucky Corvette Factory.
Currently, the 1.4-liter Ecotec resides under the hood of the Cruze and the Volt—which adds turbo power as well—but the upcoming Sonic is eagerly awaiting the Ecotec’s potency.
The Chevrolet Sonic actually looks like a good vehicle, and not just in relative terms to the outgoing Aveo that it replaces. In a classic case of misplaced good intentions, Chevrolet decided to take things up a level with their Sonic Z-Spec package, that combines questionable visual patterns with the color palette of a Creamsicle.
In addition to the goofy graphics, the Z-Spec package includes exhaust tip, roof spoiler, mirror caps, grille surrounds and a choice of 16″ or 17″ wheels, while the interior gets a an aluminum door sill kit and aluminum pedals. While the Sonic Z-Spec is supposed to capture the hearts and minds of young buyers, we think that the 1.4L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and 40 mpg rating are much better ways to sell your product, as opposed to slathering your new car in orange-and-white polka dots.
Gallery: 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Z-Spec
For all the dismissive attitudes surrounding GM CEO Dan Akerson, his latest machinations seem particularly astute, even if they don’t quite jibe with the tastes of “car guys”.
For months, Akerson has been creating a contingency plan for when oil prices rise to $120 per barrel. Akerson is on record stating that “I don’t think the industry learned a lot of lessons from 2008 — they will this time around,” and who can blame the guy. GM was sunk last time around in part because there were too many SUVs and trucks sitting on dealer lots when gas prices were high and credit was unavailable.
Cars like the Chevrolet Cruze, Sonic (above) and Buick Verano should help flesh out a lineup that was devoid of small cars during the last crisis, and Akerson has also demanded that the company find ways to reduce the cost of the Chevrolet Volt by $10,000. GM sources say that the goal has nearly been achieved, and that the Volt could either see an increase in production, a price cut – or more likely, a bump in profits for GM.
[Source: Detroit News]
Daewoo, one of South Korea’s most famous nameplates, is being retired by parent company General Motors, in favor of Chevrolet. GM is hoping to make Chevrolet a global brand, and the move fits in with their overall strategy.
Daewoo has a deservedly poor reputation in the United States for making and selling cars that were less than stellar, but the firm has made enormous strides, becoming an invaluable engineering arm for GM’s small car division. But despite their laudable work behind the scenes (such as playing a huge role in developing the Cruze, Spark and Sonic small cars), the new company, known as GM Korea Co., will be undergoing a radical transformation this year.
The biggest marker of change will be the launch of the Camaro in Q1 of 2011, along with a refresh of 8 other vehicles. “We have studied the brand issue in depth for a long time and have come to the conclusion that launching a new brand strategy and making Chevrolet our primary brand is good for all stakeholders, including especially Korean consumers,” spokesman Park Haeho said.
Daewoo only has 9 percent market share in South Korea, compared to Hyundai’s 47 percent and Kia’s 33 percent. GM is hoping to increase it to 10 percent, despite Daewoo being a Korean nameplate in a market where domestic cars are heavily favored.
[Source: Automotive News]
Despite having already debuted the new Chevy Aveo show car at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year, and the official production model reveal at the Paris Auto Show, General Motors has reportedly decided to change the sub-compact’s name when it arrives here in 2011.
According to the team at GMInsideNews, Chevy has green-lighted a name change to ‘Sonic.’ (You know, like, the hedgehog). This report is backed-up by GM’s recent filing for a trademark on the name “Chevrolet Sonic” in October.
The move should help GM’s re-establish the new model and move away from the Aveo’s ‘Old GM’ reputation for being cheap. It also fits with Chevy’s new ‘hip’ naming structure, sitting between the compact Cruze and the upcoming Spark minicar.
GALLERY: Chevrolet Aveo (Sonic) Debut in Paris