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.
Ford is asking dealers to curtail orders of three shades of red paint, and one hue called “Tuxedo Black” due to difficulties sourcing metallic elements needed for the paint. The element, which is produced by a Japanese supplier, is unable to be produced to due damage resulting from the natural disasters that occurred in the country.
So far, full-size pickups and SUVs are unable to be ordered in Tuxedo Black, while vehicles like the Ford Taurus and Lincoln MKS will have their supplies of the color restricted. The shades of red will be scaled back on cars like the F-Series Super Duty and Ranger pickups, Focus, Econoline and Lincoln Navigator.
Ford says it is looking to find a replacement for the substance, called Xirallic, which is used to give the paint a metallic finish.
[Source: CNN Money]
Fiat’s 900cc TwinAir 2-cylinder turbocharged engine, currently available in the European market Fiat 500, has won critical acclaim for its performance and use of advanced technology, and the motor will soon be available in both the Alfa Romeo MiTo and Fiat Punto.
The TwinAir will superceed the current base engines in both cars, rated at 77 and 64 horsepower respectively, as it produces 85 horsepower. The TwinAir will also likely be more efficient in terms of fuel consumption and carbon emissions, with estimates ranging between a 10 and 15 percent gain in both categories. A start-stop system will also be employed.
The base engines will still remain available, but the TwinAir is expected to be a popular option, as it will allow buyers to dodge European C02 emissions taxes.
[Source: Left Lane News]
While the Nissan Sunny has already been previewed at AutoGuide, we just got out first look at the hatchback version of Nissan’s subcompact (known as the Tiida) thanks to a Chinese photographer who spied the car out in the open.
The new hatchback looks like a Lexus CT200h mixed with Nissan’s familiar corporate styling cues, not a bad step up from the current Versa’s dowdy looks. The interior also looks like it will get a big bump in quality. We aren’t sure if this is the “locked-in” styling for North America, nor do we know what kind of powertrains will be offered, but the gallery below should give you a good idea of what to expect. Expect a New York Auto Show debut, and AutoGuide will be on hand with live coverage.
GALLERY: 2012 Nissan Versa Hatchback
Mitsubishi‘s diminutive i electric vehicle is undergoing some fairly substantial changes when it makes its debut on our shores, the most significant being a slight increase in length and a 5 inch bump in width, with the extra size added to help the car feel better during high speed highway driving.
While Japanese drivers experience mostly stop-and-go driving, Mitsubishi felt that the revamp was necessary to better adapt the vehicle to North American freeway travel. The car is set to launch in 8 months time, customers will be able to place orders for the $30,000 vehicle starting in the spring.
One sticking point for North Americans will be the extremely long charging times required with a 110 volt power source – as long as 22 hours. Mitsubishi representatives did not specify how long times will be with a 240 volt charger, only stating that it would be virtually necessary to install one.
[Source: Automotive News]
An old finance maxim states that “by the time you’ve read about it, it’s already too late”, but that hasn’t stopped used car dealers from eagerly snapping up any 4-cylinder or hybrid vehicle as gas prices continue to climb.
With one dealer calling the sudden trend a “panic”, values of previously undesirable cars like the Chevrolet HHR have shot up to $11,000 from the $8,000 or $8,500 they previously commanded.
In an interview with Automotive News, a NADA guides official stated that prices for these types of cars will probably rise between 3 and 4 percent above what the NADA guides state, while SUV and truck prices are set to fall. However, NADA is not set to alter their residual values, in part because they feel that any major spike in gas prices will last for three years, roughly the same term as most leases.
[Source: Automotive News]
With the Chevrolet Cobalt SS being a critical (if not commercial) success, General Motors has been pushing for an SS version of their new Chevrolet Cruze small car, and the program looks like it’s a go, with much of the work being done by their Australian Holden division.
While details are still preliminary, a more powerful turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, sharper steering and an improved rear suspension seem to be in the cards, with engine choices ranging from anywhere between a 1.6L 180 horsepower turbo mill to a 2.0L 280 horsepower 4-cylinder.
Expect to see the car offered in hatchback form, to appeal to much of the world market. A sedan version is still up in the air – as are North American sales for that matter.
[Source: Motor Authority]
Despite being an ultra-niche vehicle, interest in the Nissan GT-R always remains strong, and car enthusiasts have been fretting about whether Japan’s natural disasters have impacted production of the revised GT-R.
According to an interview with David Reuter, Nissan Americas vice president of communications, supplies of the GT-R are safe, with roughly 70 percent of North America’s allocation on the ground already. “There are no shortages of anything specific at this point,” he told Inside Line. “As we work through the final assessments, we’ll have a better idea if we have any dips to smooth over with individual vehicle lines.”
Reuter also confirmed that the Nissan LEAF is safe, with 1,500 cars either in transit or at the port. Infiniti vehicles, which are all built in Japan, are considered most at risk for production disruption, but Reuter said that a 50-day supply of vehicles exists.
While companies like Nissan have emerged unscathed, General Motors announced major cutbacks at plants in Spain and Germany due to a shortage of Japanese made parts. While Japan’s automakers may be sending a positive message for now, the long-term situation could potentially get much worse due to factors beyond the control of the auto industry.
[Source: Inside Line]
The Insurance Institute For Highway Safety awarded the Mazda 3 with its Top Pick honor in the small car category. The Mazda3 met the criteria by scoring a “Good” rating in all crash test categories (front, side, rear and rollover) and has electronic stability control.
The Mazda3 is the first car from the automaker to score a Top Pick since the IIHS enacted new roof strength regulations, but it is also joined by 12 other small cars in receiving the accolade, including the Honda Civic, Chevrolet Cruze and Kia Forte.
While the Mazda3 was judged to be capable of withstanding forces on the roof equal to more than five times the vehicle’s weight, the IIHS noted that injuries to the pelvis, ribs and right leg are possible, although the risk is low.
Ford‘s strategy involving smaller cars priced at a premium will become even more important if gasoline rises beyond $4 gallon, said Ford of the Americans President Mark Fields.
“There is a natural kind of water level that if a gallon of gas goes over, that may shift the market mentality,” Fields told Automotive News. ”When it starts getting over $4 a gallon or gets to triple digits when you fill up your tank, that catches people’s attention.” Gasoline prices are currently at a national average of $3.55 per gallon, and global unrest means that they are likely to keep rising.
The Focus in particular represents Ford’s new premium small car strategy, with high end models costing as much as $29,000, while still achieving 40 mpg on the highway. But with more than 80 percent of its parts shared in common with global variants (and expected worldwide sales of 2 million per year in 2012), the Focus could prove to be an extremely profitable car for the company.
[Source: Automotive News]
The Audi A2 was well ahead of its time when it launched in 1999, and it paid dearly for its advanced nature, with a short lifespan and disappointing sales.
But the A2, which was capable of getting 78 mpg in some trim levels, appears set for a renaissance. Times have changed, and the demand for a small, ultra-efficient premium car appears to be there, and Audi is investigating the revival of their quirky compact. Autocar is reporting that Audi is investigating the prospect, and has set some very ambitious targets, notably a curb weight of just under 1800lbs. With its small footprint and aluminum construction, a figure like that is theoretically possible (and the original A2 only weighed about 220 lbs more), but with modern conveniences and safety features, Audi’s engineers still have a monumental task ahead of them.
With Audi planning to use aluminum spaceframes across most of its model range, the A2′s development costs could theoretically by absorbed across a large number of models – a crucial factor in a car that was considered to have been too expensive for its time. On the other hand, things are looking far different than they did in 1999, and the A2 may finally be ready for mainstream acceptance.
Designing a single car for the entire world is a tough proposition. No matter how hard engineers strive towards a unified design, concessions must usually be made, particularly with regards to engine and gearbox choices. Other instances have called for variations in size to suit regional tastes.
While the Ford Focus and Chevrolet Cruze are technically world cars, albeit with different powertrains for different markets, Mitsubishi is forging ahead with a much more ambitious world car project.
In an interview with Autocar magazine, Mitsubishi‘s global product director, Gayu Eusegi, said that the company was limiting regional changes to its not Global Small Car “colours and interior fabrics”, and that engine variations would only be carried out in the name of meeting emissions standards.
Mitsubishi is apparently planning on using 1.0L and 1.2L gasoline engines, with a start-stop system. While such small engines are the norm in most markets, they would be considered extremely undersized for North America. Mitsubishi also plans on offering hybrid and full electric versions of the car.
For all the hype surrounding the Fiat 500, Ford‘s CEO, Alan Mulally, has become one of its most prominent detractors, condemning the car to failure before it’s even launched.
Speaking to the Italian language magazine Panorama, Mulally remarked “I do not see large market in the U.S.A. for a smaller car than the Fiesta. Those that tried failed.”
While Mulally declined to comment further, it’s not unreasonable to expect such comments coming from the head of a rival firm. Not to mention, the Smart ForTwo has enjoyed dismal success in America, with sales dropping to a fifth of their highest levels in 2008.
Toyota‘s plus-sized Prius, the Prius V, has began production, and will start at $28,600 in Japan, roughly $3,700 more than the standard Prius.
Many feel that the price will be closer to $27,000 in the United States, although the American-spec Prius V will lack the third row seat. Toyota claims that this feature would not meet American buyers expectations, ostensibly because it is too small.
The Prius V will also be the first Toyota vehicle to undergo the company’s enhanced quality control procedures. “We found several issues,” said Hiroshi Masaki, a Toyota engineer who spoke to Automotive News. “There was a lot more testing of how different systems interact with each other.”
[Source: Automotive News]
One strange aspect about the Chevrolet Cruze hatchbackhas less cargo room than its sedan counterparty. While the Cruze sedan has 450 liters of cargo space, the hatchback has 50 fewer liters because of the model’s shorter rear overhang.
Nevertheless, 65 percent of vehicles sold in Europe are hatchbacks, and a Cruze hatch is a necessity to compete on the world stage. Unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show, the Cruze hatch has the same 1.6L and 1.8L gas engines and 2.0L turbodiesels as other world markets. If it makes it to North America, expect the familiar 1.4L Turbo and 1.8L 4-cylinder engines instead.
Gallery: Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback
If you’ve ever seen an original Mini (which may be unlikely if you live in North America) you might find it hard to wrap your head around just how small the car really is. The current MINI Cooper, while small by our standards, absolutely dwarfs the original car, but MINI’s new Rocketman concept should set things straight for the brand.
With a footprint that’s only slightly larger than the original Mini, the Rocketman also boasts a carbon fiber spaceframe to keep weight down, and a re-configurable interior to maximize passenger and cargo space. Unfortunately, MINI USA head Jim McDowell said that North America was unlikely to get any products that deviated from the current car’s size, so we’ll have to gaze at this one from afar – assuming it ever sees production.
Gallery: MINI Rocketman Concept
Fiat said in September, 2010 that it wanted to see their dealerships open by the end of February, but only 30 to 40 franchises will have their facilities open by mid-March. At this rate, 130 of the dealerships should be running by September, 2011. With that said, dealers are only expected to get their inventory sometime towards the end of March. Fiat USA head Laura Soave stated that Fiat was “…a tiny bit behind schedule”, and we applaud her diplomatic way of framing the issue.
[Source: Automotive News]
The production version of the Chevrolet Cruze hatchback has broken cover ahead of its debut at the Geneva Auto Show, and interestingly has less cargo room than its sedan counterparty. While the Cruze sedan has 450 liters of cargo space, the hatchback has 50 fewer liters on account of the shorter rear overhang.
Nevertheless, 65 percent of vehicles sold in Europe are hatchbacks, and a Cruze hatch is a necessity to compete on the world stage. The same 1.6L and 1.8L gas engines and 2.0L turbodiesels wil be available, but there’s no word on whether the Cruze hatch will be available on this side of the pond.
Mazda‘s announcement regarding a SKYACTIV diesel engine in future products had car geeks hoping for a diesel Mazda3, but it looks like the oil-burner will actually make an appearance on the mid-size Mazda6, putting it squarely against the updated Volkswagen Passat, which will be available with a TDI diesel engine.
While details on the SKY-D engine have been sparse, the engine will make 182 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque, substantially besting the Volkswagen unit’s 140 horsepower and 236 lb-ft. Although the SKY-D will only be available with a 6-speed automatic, it should be quite the machine on the highway, where the massive torque will allow effortless passing while returning the kind of mileage numbers that only small compacts can hope for.
While rumors of the new BMW sub-brand have been floating around for months, February 21st has been marked as the official announcement date for details the sub-brand, and the apparently revolutionary MegaCity electric vehicle.
Many suggest that the new sub-brand will be a re-imagining of the Isetta microcar of nearly a half century ago, and use some of the advanced materials that the Megacity also uses. Smaller internal combustion engines are a possibility, with the MegaCity setting itself apart by using the all electric drivetrain used in the BMW ActiveE.
Dodge‘s trademark cross-hair grille, the front end treatment that has been the hallmark of the brand’s styling for years, will become the sole domain of the Ram truck brand, as the Chrysler division moves toward a new look for future products.
“It takes time. We will evolve the products,” Ralph Gilles, CEO of Dodge and Chrysler’s design chief, told Automotive News. “We did as much as we could with the split cross-hair grille,” he said. “We had to be careful because the cooling work was pretty much done when we decided to rebrand the vehicles. That will continue evolving over time.”
No plans were divulged with regards to Dodge’s new look, but with cars like the new Charger leading the way, and attempting to target a different kind of buyer, perhaps a more mature look is in line for the brand as Chrysler moves upscale, and Dodge has been seperated from Ram Trucks, which understandably needs to project a macho image.
[Source: Automotive News]
Suzuki is recalling their SX4 compact and Grand Vitara SUV over a faulty tensioner pulley that could cause steering difficulties and engine stalling if it causes the accessory belt to detach while driving.
Dealers will replace the pulley at no charge starting February 16th. The recall affects 32,291 vehicles.
Hit the jump to read the official recall notice
While speaking to Motor Trend, Fiat USA head Laura Soave told the magazine that in addition to new variants of the Fiat 500, there will be a new subcompact car arriving sometime around 2013, with a focus on the needs of the United States market.
Soave did not specify what body styles would be offered, but it’s hard to imagine a car made for America that lacked a sedan model. Soave feels that with Fiat having such a long absence from the United States, the chance to craft a brand identity free of any preconceptions is there, and the company intends to capitalize on this. Soave also mentioned that a C-segment car (around the size of a Honda Civic) is the largest Fiat would ever go, since Chrysler, Dodge and Alfa Romeo will cover the larger ends of the market place.
[Source: Motor Trend]
Despite our initial reservations, we grew to adore the Nissan Juke, even though it’s styling could politely be described as “interesting”. Whether the Infiniti Etherea concept will do the same is a question only time can answer, but so far we’re not quite as enthusiastic about the concept car’s looks than Infiniti might like us to be.
Designed as a preview to the entry-level Infiniti set to debut by next year, the Etherea is about 4 inches longer than a Nissan Versa, but will obviously be targeting a much different market. With size-conscious Europe requiring any luxury player to field a compact, the Etherea is a crucial product for Infiniti, but evidently there’s still some work to be done for its production ready.
Gallery: Infiniti Etherea
Although the Smart ForTwo hasn’t been warmly received by American buyers, there is hope for the quirky maker of diminutive city cars, as parent company Daimler is backing the brand with new products and utilizing their alliance with Renault-Nissan to give the lineup a boost.
A Smart representative confirmed that a four seat model will arrive sometime in the future, a vehicle that will doubtlessly expand Smart’s appeal to a much broader customer base. While this car will arrive in a few years, a 5-seater hatch with 5-doors reportedly based on the Nissan Micra is set to bow in the last quarter of 2011. A revised ForTwo, which will share a jointly-developed Renault-Nissan platform will also debut, but on an unspecified time frame.