Auto News

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.
 |  Apr 29 2012, 11:01 AM

When the Dodge Dart hits dealers later this year it will be the first Fiat-based Chrysler product to go on sale in America and will also offer competitive fuel economy.

While not quite segment leading, the new numbers are near the top of the pack, with the entry-level 160 hp 2.0-liter Tigershark 4-cylinder rated at 25 mpg city and 36 mpg highway with the six-speed manual, and 29 mpg combined.

Available after launch will be a 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbocharged 4-cylinder (shared with the Fiat 500 Abarth) also making 160 hp mated to a dual-clutch transmission making 27 mpg city and 39 mpg highway, though it will still get a 29 mpg combined rating. Dodge also plans to launch a fuel economy package “aero” version of the Dart with “at least” 41 mpg highway, which will arrive in the the Fall.

In addition, Dodge will offer a 184 hp 2.4-liter 4-cylinder model, though no fuel economy numbers have been announced for that package yet.

The 2013 Dodge Dart will go on sale in June starting from $15,995.

GALLERY: 2013 Dodge Dart

2013_dodge_dart_3.jpg2013-Dodge-Dart-20.jpg2013-Dodge-Dart-23.jpg2013-Dodge-Dart-13.jpg2013-Dodge-Dart-30.jpg2013-Dodge-Dart-8.jpg

Discuss this story at DartForums.com

 |  Apr 16 2012, 3:33 PM

10. 2012 Mazda CX-5


Ward’s Auto has released its top 10 picks for best interior in 2012 today, though in no particular order. Here they are with brief notes on each car’s engine specs and starting price.

The 2012 Mazda CX-5 crossover is powered by 2.0-liter Skyactiv inline four cylinder that makes 155 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque with a starting MSRP of $20,695 with front-wheel drive.

 |  Apr 09 2012, 4:02 PM


Excitement gathered around Toyota as the company announced a factory-backed return to Le Mans in the LMP1 category. Now, it seems like Toyota will be taking its racing efforts to a new level.

During its glory days, Toyota enjoyed 43 victories as well as seven FIA world rally titles. From 1973 through 1999, Toyota was a fixture in the sport.

Now, a report from the FIA World Rally Championship website revealed that Toyota has built a regulation 1.6-liter turbocharged powerplant, which meets the WRC Global Race Engine technical regulations, and is currently performing a series tests at Toyota Motorsport GmbH in Cologne. According to a spokesman from Toyota Motorsport, “We’re leaning towards an S2000-style of car which would be available for customers first. This is a development project, but it’s very early days –  the engine only fired up for the first time a few weeks ago- at the very earliest, a car won’t be available until next year. Obviously, this being a Global Race Engine, it could go in any car, but the Yaris seems to make sense.”

According to the anonymous spokesman, participation in rallying is a part of the automaker’s medium-term future goals. What’s more, a Super 2000 category vehicle may also suggest new plans for World Touring Car Championship, as the S2000 specification is split to cover both rally and touring car racing regulations.

[Source: WRC.com]

 |  Mar 21 2012, 3:31 PM

070705_f_fiat500_30.jpg

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]

 |  Feb 25 2012, 12:01 PM

Citroen-DS4-Racing-Concept-11[2].jpg

Citroën has just released official images of its latest hot-hatch concept model set to premiere at the upcoming 2012 Geneva Motor Show. It’s images like these that convince us the North American market could really use some French metal.

In terms of hardware, the Citroën DS4 Racing concept receives the turbocharged 1.6-liter engine found in many vehicles in the Peugeot-Citroen line-up. Unlike the other models, the engine in the DS4 R has been tuned to produce an incredible 256-hp in DS4 R trim. At an astronomical 160-hp per liter, Citroën claims the ratio is the highest for any mass-production car. New geometry lowers the ride hight by 35mm compared to the standard DS4 and tracks are widened by 55mm in the front and 75mm at the back.

For aesthetics, the DS4 R Concept takes from Citroën’s earlier DS3 R, receiving a similar ground effects kit including sculpted bumpers with wider air intake, a subtle carbon fiber trim around the grille, a rear diffuser , wheel-arch extensions, and side sills.

While details around the new French hot-hatch are limited, it’s power output places the concept squarely against the VW Golf R and Ford Focus ST. More details on the DS4 R Concept will be available as we near the 2012 Geneva Auto Show.

GALLERY: Citroën DS4 R Concept

Citroen-DS4-Racing-Concept-11[2].jpgCitroen-DS4-Racing-Concept-1[3].jpgCitroen-DS4-Racing-Concept-2[3].jpgCitroen-DS4-Racing-Concept-3[3].jpgCitroen-DS4-Racing-Concept-4[3].jpgCitroen-DS4-Racing-Concept-6[2].jpg

 

 |  Jan 25 2012, 6:30 PM

The Sports Car Club of America’s B-Spec class is growing in popularity as enthusiasts enjoy a relatively inexpensive entry into amateur racing while automakers are discovering B-Spec to be a great platform for grassroots motorsport marketing.  Honda, one of the early adopters to B-Spec racing, is committed to the series and hopes to gain even more fans.

Honda Performance Development, HPD General Manager Marc Sours said, “A cornerstone of our grassroots motorsports marketing initiative has been to establish a connection between Honda’s passenger cars and the racing cars that evolve from these models. The B-Spec category provides a relatively low-cost means for the prospective racer to enter the sport, and the Honda FIt offers a natural point of entry. These are inexpensive, great-handling cars that should provide both excellent competition and help grow the sport at the entry level.”

Continuing its support, Honda has announced a new line of “manufacturer-approved suspension components” for the Honda Fit that will be available via HPD on February 1, 2012. The suspension components kit includes coil-over shocks, front and rear race springs, cat-back exhaust, performance front brake pads, camber bolts, braided stainless brake lines, an air filter,  and an A/C delete belt.

Despite the thorough list of performance parts in the kit, Honda fit owners and racers will still need to be responsible for a competition roll cage, racing seats, harness and other safety equipment.

[Source: Inside Line]

 |  Jan 23 2012, 6:30 PM

Swedish automaker Volvo is looking to shack up with a new mate in the hopes of making a fresh set of small cars. Their current compact, the C30 (above), is based on technology from former parent company Ford.

However, Ford dumped Volvo almost two years ago, passing them off to Chinese Geely Holding Group for $1.8 billion, a fraction of what they originally paid. Now the company says the are welcoming partnerships with other companies to fill the void their former American partner left behind.

Volvo CEO Stefan Jacoby told the Financial Times that the company is open to new partners who will be able to share in developing further compact models alongside Volvo in an effort to drive down production costs.

There isn’t an official decision yet about pairing up with any specific company, though it makes sense that Volvo would be looking for a new dance partner given that their current C30 line is nearing the time when a model typically gets a refresh.

The collaborative strategy is becoming increasingly common among automakers as profit margins start to wear thin. Last year Volvo agreed to work with German company Siemens to produce an electric vehicle.

Aside from business to business collaboration, Jacoby is taking Volvo in a similar direction as the last company he managed: Volkswagen. In an effort to cut costs, he’s taken the company from offering 10 engines to only two. He’s also implementing something similar to VW’s “modular box” approach to building cars, where multiple vehicles of different sizes are made in the same facility.

In the spirit of consolidation, Volvo is also expected to launch the compact V40 at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show this March. That car will replace the current S40 and V50 models.

[Source: Financial Times]

 |  Jan 17 2012, 2:45 PM

070705_f_fiat500_15.jpg

It’s no surprise that the 500′s return to North America did not make the splash that Fiat expected. Having sold less than 20,000 vehicles in its first model year in the United States, the 500 only did half as well as the company initially forecasted.

The success of the 500 is essential to the Italian automaker’s re-entry into the North American market. In Europe, Fiat sold more than 770,000 units since the 500′s introduction in 2007. Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne admitted that the 500′s weak performance was in part due to overly-optimistic forecasting. “We thought we were going to show up and just because of the fact people like gelato and pasta, people will buy it.”

However, Fiat believes that creating variants for the 500 could help boost its popularity.

Set for unveiling at the 2012 Geneva Auto Show, Fiat hopes that a 5-door Fiat 500 wagon will find better success in the North American market. The official release date of the Fiat 500 wagon is slated for 2013, while a sportier Fiat Abarth hot hatch will be available for sale later this year.

Whether the 500 wagon will boost Fiat sales remains to be seen. While the wagon’s dimensions will be slightly larger and more suitable for American consumers, station wagons are historically unpopular in North America.

[Source: Car Connection]

 |  Jan 11 2012, 10:49 AM

IMG_7881.JPG

The compact car category continues to grow and is increasingly becoming the most important and highest volume segment in America. For years Chrysler hasn’t had a competitive offering, something it is looking to change with the all-new Dodge Dart.

Sharing its underpinnings with an Alfa Romeo it’s the direct result of the tie-up between Chrysler and Fiat, with all the benefits that can have.Included in the list of rather European specs listed for the Dart are a fully-independent rear suspension and an optional turbocharged 1.4-liter 4-cylinder mated to a dual-clutch transmission.

Unveiled this week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, see AutoGuide’s first look video of the 2013 Dodge Dart below.

GALLERY: 2013 Dodge Dart

2013-Dodge-Dart-13.JPG2013-Dodge-Dart-15.JPG2013-Dodge-Dart-16.JPG2013-Dodge-Dart-17.JPGIMG_7888.JPGIMG_7886.JPG

 

Continue Reading…

 |  Jan 11 2012, 8:01 AM

2013-Acura-ILX-02.JPG

With a new flagship supercar planned in the NSX Concept, Acura also unveiled a new entry-level model at the Detroit Auto Show this week. Called the ILX, it’s based on the new Honda Civic platform, but significantly modified. It also gets some distinct bodywork and three unique engine choices, including a hybrid option – the first time ever for an Acura.

Find out more about the Acura ILX by watching AutoGuide’s First Look Video below.

GALLERY: 2013 Acura ILX

2013-Acura-ILX-03.JPG2013-Acura-ILX-04.JPG2013-Acura-ILX-05.JPGIMG_1489.JPG2013-Acura-ILX-06.JPGIMG_1494.JPG

Continue Reading…

 |  Jan 09 2012, 10:45 AM

2013-Dodge-Dart-14.JPG

Replacing the now almost invisible Caliber, the 2013 Dart is the car Dodge hopes will reinvigorate its presence in the compact segment. At the 2012 North American International Auto Show, Dodge Brand CEO Reid Bigland unveiled the highly anticipated Dart to a captive audience.

According to Bigland, compact cars currently represent 15 percent of the total US vehicle market and 25 percent in Canada, so a new compact gives Dodge a chance to really compete in a major volume segment.

Given the increasing synergies between Fiat and the Chrysler group, it’s not surprising that the Dart embodies DNA from both. Essentially, it’s based on a modified version of the same architecture used to underpin the Alfa Romeo Giulietta in Europe, though the car has been lengthened and widened to suit North American tastes.

Styling is unmistakably Dodge, in fact the overall look and greenhouse could almost indicate an updated Neon, albeit one that adopts Charger styling cues, notably the “angry” headlight treatment and full width LED illumination out back. Active grille shutters and underbody fairings are also incorporated, in an effort to minimize aerodynamic drag.

Like the last generation Neon, the Dart will only be offered as a four-door sedan, though will be available in no fewer than five trim levels, SE, SXT, Rallye, Limited and R/T.

Engine choices comprise a 2.0-liter normally aspirated “Tigershark” four, rated at 160 horsepower and 145 lb-ft, plus a version of Fiat’s 1.4-liter turbocharged and intercooled Multi-Air four-cylinder, which although rated at the same 160 hp, cranks out significantly more torque: 184 lb-ft. Down the road, a larger displacement 2.4-liter “Tigershark” motor, rated at 184 hp is expected to become available. Transmission choices comprise a six-speed manual, six-speed automatic and also a six-speed dry Dual-Clutch automatic, though the latter will only be available with the Multi-Air 1.4 motor.

Given its Alfa Romeo DNA, the Dart promises to be fun to drive, with good chassis dynamics and responsive steering, aided by aspects such as specially tuned MacPherson struts up front, designed to minimize camber loss and a fully independent rear setup. Four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, are standard on all Darts.

According to Bigland, a major part of the Dart’s appeal lies with the  interior, which has been conceived  to maximize volume (it reportedly rivals some mid-size cars for space), while the use of upscale materials (including soft touch surfaces), should certainly address some long standing stigmas about low grade cabins on Chrysler built small cars.

A high level of interior equipment (such as an available heated steering wheel, plus Chrysler’s U-Connect media center with 8.4-inch touch screen and voice activatation and no fewer than 14 different trim color options), also provide the 2013 Dart with more trump cards than the old Caliber.

Although pricing has yet to be officially announced, Bigland says the Dart will feature a starting MSRP of around $16,000, which should position it well in the segment, especially against cars like the Chevy Cruze (current MSRP of $16,720), Honda Civic ($15,805) and Hyundai Elantra ($16,445).

Production of the 2013 Dart is scheduled to begin at Chrysler’s Belvidere, Illinois assembly plant in the second quarter of this year, with cars showing up in dealers soon afterwards. In perhaps a homage to the original 1963-76 Dart compact, which morphed into a junior muscle car/youthmobile; Chrysler’s Mopar division will offer some 150 customization options for the new one.

GALLERY: 2013 Dodge Dart

2013-Dodge-Dart-16.JPG2013-Dodge-Dart-15.JPG2013-Dodge-Dart-18.JPGIMG_7875.JPG2013-Dodge-Dart-23.JPGIMG_7867.JPG

Discuss this story at DartForums.com and see AutoGuide’s complete 2012 Detroit Auto Show coverage here.

See AutoGuide’s First Look Video of the new Dodge Dart below:

Continue Reading…

 |  Jan 06 2012, 9:45 AM

2012 Audi Q3 10.jpg

The battle axes are sharpened and starting to swing in Germany between the three largest luxury car makers, as Audi admits for the first time that they plan to sell their compact Q3 SUV in America.

The Volkswagen-based luxury brand has been hinting and teasing the notion that we might get the Q3 on North American soil, but until now there wasn’t any way to be sure. Now Audi has confirmed it will reveal a Q3 “Vail” Concept at the Detroit Auto Show on Monday, using the vehicle as part of a larger strategy to overtake BMW as the top-selling luxury brand by 2015.

“The next pillar of the market that we have to conquer is the United States,” Audi CEO Rupert Stadler said in London on Thursday. “We see opportunities in the SUV and sedan segments.”

Audi has been growing as a brand outside the U.S. but making a more solid footprint in the American market is essential for them to meet their goal. Here in the States BMW and Mercedes still have a strong grip on luxury sales, but by introducing smaller cars, Audi may be able to change that. Along with the Q3, Audi is expected to deliver several versions of its next generation A3, including a sedan.

Another key point in their strategy will be manufacturing cars domestically rather than shipping and therefore significantly limiting availability to consumers, something BMW and Mercedes have already figured out.

It isn’t as easy as flipping a switch, though, according to Stadler, Audi is finally profitable in America, giving them the confidence to go from wading into full swim.

“In the next decade, we will have to think about the next icon in the Audi brand,” Stadler said. Given the strong trend toward smaller, more economy-minded cars, we’re eager to see what he has up his sleeve.

GALLERY: Audi A3 Concept

2012 Audi Q3 01.jpg2012 Audi Q3 02.jpg2012 Audi Q3 03.jpg2012 Audi Q3 05.jpg2012 Audi Q3 06.jpg2012 Audi Q3 13.jpg

[Source: Automotive News]

 |  Jan 05 2012, 10:00 AM

Oh how compact cars have changed…  Chrysler, or Fiat as it were, is taking a march through the elephant graveyard and bringing new life to some old bones.

At least that’s what the badge might get you to think. Fiat now owns 58.5 percent of Chrysler, up from their initial 20 percent holding in 2009. That increased ownership is the result of Fiat fulfilling the final piece of an operating agreement with Chrysler— to produce a vehicle with at least 40 average miles-per-gallon. The 2013 Dodge Dart makes its official debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit and represents that fulfillment.

It was 1960 when the Dart shot onto the American car scene, and boy did it make a bang. Back then people thought of it as a compact, despite the available big block V8. You could choose between a singe- or double-barrel carburetor and single or dual exhaust too. Jump forward to 2012 and we’re eagerly awaiting what could be one of the most intriguing compacts to come on the scene, despite having no resemblance to its namesake.

The new, aerodynamically-minded, Dodge comes with an Alpha Romeo spirit rethought for the North American market. That means an inline 1.4-liter turbocharged Fiat MultiAir engine capable of 168 horsepower and 180 ft-lbs of torque while maintaining an average 40 mpg.

Consumers will also be able to choose from larger displacement 2.0 and 2.4-liter Tigershark 4-cylinder using a 6-speed dual-clutch transmission. There will also be a 9-speed automatic somewhere in the future.

Though there aren’t many more details available we do know the car will feature 4-wheel independent suspension. It’s not the Dart that came around in 1960, but the latest Fiat-Chrysler lovechild is still following in the fresh spirit that made the first generation popular 52 years ago.

GALLERY: 2013 Dodge Dart

2013dart.jpg2013dartrear.jpg01-2013-dodge-dart-interior.jpg02-2013-dodge-dart-interior.jpg

Discuss this story at DartForums.com

 |  Dec 22 2011, 4:30 PM

2012 Toyota Vitz 01.jpg

To make room for expanding model research and development on the home front, Toyota Motor Corp has appointed its European division to lead global product planning for small cars.

Vested with this major responsibility, extensive reorganization in Toyota Europe’s sales and marketing operations were put to effect in hopes to best approach the new mission. According to Toyota Motor Europe CEO Didier Leroy, “It is essential to bring focus to this mission and the product planning division will play a key role in this integrated strategy, together with our designers.”

Alain Uyttenhoven, head of product planning and marketing, will shift his responsibilities to focus on product planning specifically and will be in charge of overseeing the global potential of the future Aygo minicar, Yaris/Vitz subcompact, as well as the Auris/Corolla compact.

Taking Uyttenhoven’s old marketing duties is Daniele Schillaci of Toyota-France. Schillaci’s new role as Toyota’s general manager of sales and marketing, according to Didier Leroy, will allow Toyota, “… to respond in the fastest and most efficient way to market volatility and changes in customers’ expectations.”

To replace Daniele Schillaci’s former role as Toyota France CEO is Pascal Ruch, who currently holds station as Toyota’s general manager of sales and production efficiency in European distribution.

Finally, Miguel Fonseca will become the vice president of business integration. While this is a major managerial shift within Toyota, Ford and Fiat-Chrysler rely on its European operations to develop future products in the minicar, subcompact and compact segments as well.

[Source: Automotive News]

 

 |  Dec 22 2011, 9:00 AM

Chevrolet is planning a more performance-oriented version of the Cruze compact sedan AutoGuide has learned. Sources inside the company have let slip that GM does intend to offer a more sporting version of its best-selling model, though as past reports have indicated, it won’t be badged as an SS.

“The SS badge will be reserved only for ultra-high performance machines,” said the source, who wished to remain anonymous.

What isn’t yet clear is if GM intends to offer a rival to the Focus Focus ST, or if the performance-packaged Cruze will be along the lines of the new Sonic RS model. Current Chevy does offer a Cruze RS styling package, though it isn’t an actual model designation like on the Sonic. If GM does deliver something along the lines of that car, look for custom aerodynamics, plenty of interior upgrades and a retuned suspension. What the Sonic RS doesn’t offer, however, is added power, with the 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder remaining stock with 138 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque.

Click here to read AutoGuide’s 2011 Chevy Cruze Review

 |  Nov 07 2011, 11:45 AM

Scion FR-S 12.JPG

In the midst of launching its iQ mini-car and in preparation of the massive spike in exposure the brand will get from the FR-S sports car, Scion VP Jack Hollis is already looking into the distant future. “We are currently working on several different concepts,” he says sitting in the back seat of a highly customized xB at the SEMA Show.

As for exactly what those concepts will be, he won’t say, but Scion does have two models that will soon be in need of overhauls, while the brand is always looking to grow its product offering. In previous discussions Hollis has mentioned his interest in bringing a mini-truck to market; something compact and car-based, a size down from the incredibly popular Toyota Tacoma.

“Versus other vehicles, I can’t say it’s priority one,” admits Hollis, however, he says, “I’m very interested in it. A lot of prospective owners are interested in it and every meeting I have in Japan, I’m asking, what else can we do.”

Not prepared to just ask, Hollis has a plan for a new model that would evolve much like with the Toyota-Subaru tie-up that produced the FR-S (FT-86/BRZ). Initially, he says, he wanted to see about bringing over a small truck from Toyota subsidiary Daihatsu, but with all the necessary regulations it was impossible to make a business case for it. Instead, Hollis suggests he’d like to see a collaboration with Daihatsu, sharing a product and developing it together from inception.

In addition to a min-truck, Hollis believes there’s room in the Scion brand for even more vehicles in the compact and sub-compact range. “I think there’s a movement towards small cars,” he says.

Beyond new additions to the brand, Scion also needs to look at revamping its current lineup, particularly the lacklustre xD and volume selling xB. The xD and its predecessor the xA have never performed as well as they could, lagging behind sub-compact top sellers like the Yaris, Fit and Versa in a segment where, considering its targeted market, Scion should be tops. While mum on the xB, Hollis says not to expect just another version of the xD. Speaking about its replacement, he says that “If I get my wishes it will be nothing like the xA or xD.”

With the official debut of the Toyota FT-86 planned for the Tokyo Motor Show later this month, the Scion version is expected to arrive at the New York Auto Show in the Spring. Hollis wouldn’t say as much, but considering Scion’s history of debuting concept cars in the Big Apple, look for a hint at future product too.

 |  Mar 02 2011, 7:49 AM

IMG_7578.JPG

The Kia Rio used to have the ignominious honor of being a “penalty box”, a car you didn’t want to spend time in unless absolutely necessary. But with the upswing in quality from Kia, and shared underpinnings from the promising new Hyundai Accent, the all-new Rio, shown for the first time at the Geneva Auto Show, might just be a solid little car for entry level buyers.

On sale in the U.S. this fall, the Rio features Kia’s new corporate styling cues, but still maintains a very close resemblance to the Ford Fiesta – not a bad thing in this segment. While only European specifications were announced, the North American version will probably use the 1.6L 138-horsepower 4-cylinder engine that the Accent uses, which will also deliver about 30-mpg in town and 41 mpg on the highway. The Rio should also boast one of the lightest curb weights in its class, and may even undercut the Accent’s MSRP.

Gallery: Kia Rio

IMG_7570.JPGIMG_7571.JPGIMG_7572.JPGIMG_7575.JPGIMG_7578.JPG

 |  Feb 10 2011, 3:09 PM

Suzuki may not have much of a profile in the United States, but their Swift compact hatchback has been a hit with both critics and consumers in other markets, and the Geneva Auto Show will be the platform for Suzuki to launch a thinly veiled ”concept” version of the new Swift.

With the current Swift regarded as one of the sportier hatches on the market, the “S-Concept” designation will likely play on that theme, but all Suzuki has shown so far is a teaser rendering of the front of the car. Regardless, we wouldn’t be surprised if the concept played up Suzuki’s rally heritage as well.

 |  Feb 07 2011, 5:23 PM

Elantra_11

Hyundai is looking to capture 5 percent of the U.S. car market in 2011, amid projections that show greater overall sales for new vehicles in the coming year.

With Hyundai sales up 24 percent in 2010, and a market share of 4.6 percent, the new target is certainly reachable, especially with new products like the Elantra and Accent compacts. The company will also cut fleet and rental sales from 17 percent to around 13 or 14 percent. Fleet sales help boost overall sales figures but are less profitable due to automakers selling vehicles in bulk.

[Source: Reuters]

 |  Nov 29 2010, 6:38 PM

X11CH_CZ045.jpg

In the history of automotive transmissions, the CVT undoubtedly ranks near the bottom of the pile, as one of the car world’s poorly thought out inventions.

The CVT offers the worst of all worlds, combining the worst parts of an automatic with the efficiency of a manual. It makes you feel like you’re driving something with an outboard motor, thanks to its ability to hold a constant rpm, but somehow it has survived and is still offered by many companies today.

Now we have word that GM may offer the CVT on upcoming versions of the Chevrolet Cruze, Spark and Aveo, thanks to the fact that it will bump up fuel economy by roughly 10 percent. GM needs to increase mileage by this amount for the next model cycle, and this is simply the most expedient route. Most consumers may not even notice, but color us ticked off.

[Source: Automotive News]

 |  Nov 23 2010, 4:28 PM

Are company cars destined to be a relic of the past? Probably not, but companies are begging to adopt a new kind of corporate vehicle, one that can be paid for by the hour and operated by Hertz or Zipcar, two of the biggest names in auto-sharing programs.

An article in the New York Times focuses on Hertz’s Connect by Hertz program, as well as Zipcar, which are seeing an increasing number of corporate clients. Employees can use the cars for anything from sales calls to grocery shopping, and the cost savings are substantial. One Boston area firm cut costs from $43,000 per employee to $6,500, just by switching from a livery car service to Zipcar.

At a cost of only $5 per hour to the employees, which includes parking, gas and insurance, car-sharing looks like a no brainer, even if the fleet is heavily skewed to the Toyota Prius and other less than exciting vehicles.

[Source: New York Times]

 |  Nov 19 2010, 12:18 PM

08

Volvo CEO Stefan Jacoby announced a pilot project that will see 1,000 plug-in hybrid models based on the C30 hatchback. The vehicles will be offered in unspecified European and Chinese locations, as well as California.

The plug-in hybrids are part of an approach to meet growing demands for environmentally friendly vehicles, as well as boost sales for the Swedish auto maker. In 2004, Volvo sold 140,000 cars in the United States, while that number dropped to 60,000 in 2009.

[Source: USA Today]

 |  Nov 16 2010, 12:14 PM

2010_Civic_Si_Sedan_003

In a move that would be unthinkable to most North American consumers, Honda will stop selling its ubiquitous Civic in Japan due to non-existant demand for the iconic compact.

Japanese have been gravitating towards hybrids, ultra-compact cars and small minivans for some time now, leaving little room for the venerable Civic sedan, an extremely popular vehicle in the rest of the world. The Civic sedan has been the best selling car in Canada for a number of years, and is also extremely popular in America.

That didn’t help the fact that Honda only sold 182 Civic Sedans in Japan for the month of October (in addition to 270 Civic Hybrids), an abysmal number for such a blue-chip product. Fortunately, the Civic will still be built for export in one of Honda’s Japanese plants, and our own supply, built in a factory outside of Toronto, Canada, will be secure for the forseeable future.

[Source: Nikkei]

 |  Nov 12 2010, 11:34 AM

Hyundai is hosting a briefing at their HACHI technical center in Michigan, and Autoguide is on hand for the various presentations today. The first one focused on the upcoming Elantra, and CEO John Krafcik revealed some important details.

Among them was a claim that the Elantra will get 29 mpg city and 40 mpg highway, and that all models will achieve this figure, not just a special “ECO” model like the Chevrolet Cruze. The Elantra’s new generation 1.8L four will feature variable valve timing for both intake and exhaust, produce 82.4 horsepower per liter and pump out 148 horsepower and 131 lb-ft of torque.

Hyundai will officially revealed the 2011 Elantra at next week’s Los Angeles Auto Show, and you can check back for updates on our Los Angeles Auto Show coverage section, as well as our Twitter feed. Check out Autoguide’s Twitter feed for more updates.