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.
A Cheap Box, and Not Much Else
When the Scion xB was first introduced in 2003, it was a funky looking little square box aimed at youths involved in the tuner car scene. However, like many vehicles of this era targeted at younger buyers, it never really caught on. Blame the lack of power, blame the quirky looks, blame an unknown brand, but the xB look was destined to disappear into the automotive hall of shame with Edsel, the Aztek and the Vehicross.
Japanese car firm Toyota is already a world leader in hybrid technology. Now it seems, Toyota wants to have a similar strangle hold of the fuel-cell market.
According to vice-president of product planning and marketing for Toyota Europe, Alain Uyttenhoven, Toyota is planning on selling a few thousand fuel-cell vehicles starting in 2015. Sales are expected to be low due to the price required to make the vehicles. Since the technology is new and thus expensive to produce, each vehicle could sell for as much as $138,000.
The price means that it would attract the most eco-minded drivers and government agencies looking to put more green in their footprint.
For 2012, Toyota will offer a plug-in hybrid version of the Prius along with the regular Prius models. The plug-in version uses the same Hybrid Synergy Drive system as the regular version, but since it has a much larger 4.4 kwh lithium-ion battery pack, it can travel 13-miles on electric mode alone. Since the battery pack is not very big, it takes just 3-hours to fully charge from a standard 120v household outlet, or just 1.5-hours from a 240v system. Once the battery is depleted, you can continue the journey using the normal Prius hybrid drive system.
The Ford Fiesta B-Spec is intended to be Ford’s offering for the newly created B-Spec racing class, which allows racers a (relatively) affordable way to go road racing in production cars.
Based on the same Fiesta available to consumers, the B-Spec cars have their interiors gutted to make way for a rollcage, a bucket seat, race harness and ballast, designed to keep weight levels even among the various cars. Engine work is minimal and rules are still in flux, but certain vehicles will have restrictors fitted to the intake – no word yet if the Fiesta will be subject to this handicap.
Tires and suspension will also be subject to the same strict regulations, but again, rules are still being worked out. Ford is evidently behind the program in a big way, and we’re looking forward to a full field when racing gets under way in 2012.
Gallery: Ford Fiesta B-Spec
Check out more of AutoGuide’s SEMA coverage here
Hyundai has already admitted that they have two sets of tooling for their three-door Veloster, so that Hyundai can switch the door’s location for either left or right-hand drive markets, and the company has admitted that a Veloster with two rear doors is a possibility for the future.
Hyundai is apparently planning a five-door version for European markets, and company representatives were coy when asked whether it was coming to the U.S. Hyundai was similarly evasive regarding the Elantra Touring coming to the U.S., but with previous versions having already made the trip across the ocean, we might as well expect it at an upcoming auto show.
[Source: Car and Driver]
Volkswagen‘s Up! city car will go on sale in the United Kingdom for £7,995 up to £11,180 ($12,422 to $17,371) with deliveries starting in the spring of 2012.
A range of 1.0L three-cylinder gasoline engines will power the Up! with power ranging from 58 to 73 horsepower. The base Up! will be quite spartan but will come with features such as an MP3 input jack, a full suite of airbags and body-colored bumpers. Premium versions will get a navigation system, alloy wheels and power mirrors.
For more information on the Volkswagen Up, please visit http://www.vwupforums.com/
[Source: Auto Express]
The Smart fortwo might be the butt of jokes Stateside, but the city car has managed to move 500,000 copies worldwide after launching in its second generation four years ago.
Sales this year are up 6.6 percent, and an electric version is due to launch in the spring of 2012. While other version of the Smart, such as the ill-fated forfour fourseater, haven’t fared well, Smart is looking to expand their horizons by launching products like an electric bicycle in the coming years.
Kia will launch their 2012 Rio Hatchback with a starting price of $13,600, plus a $750 destination charge (bringing the total to $14,350).
The base car will come only with a manual gearbox, while an automatic transmission equipped version will cost $14,700 ($15,540 with destination included) while the top-of-the-line SX model will set you back $18,000 ($18,750 with destination included). The Rio will come generously equipped with air-conditioning, power steering, stability control, ABS, a hill-holder for manual transmission cars, and a 1.8L 138-horsepower engine capable of returning 30/40 mpg.
The Rio will also offer a start-stop feature, a class exclusive, that will boost city fuel economy to 31 mpg.
Suzuki may be an also ran in America, but in India, their Maruti Suzuki partnership can boast the title of “best-selling car” with their Alto subcompact. With a population of 1 billion people, the Indian market is a significant one, and the Japanese auto maker is facing competition not just from home grown efforts like Tata, but Hyundai as well.
The Alto is a pretty antiquated platform, and Hyundai is hoping that their new effort, dubbed the Eon, will not only be more technologically advanced, but price competitive, at around $6,000. Powering the Eon will be a 1.2L 4-cylinder engine making 80 horsepower.
Last weekend, Nissan Canada officially began the reservation process for the all-new electric Leaf. Within two hours, all Leaf inventory was reserved.
On August 27th, Canadians attended one of 27 Nissan Leaf certified dealers and were invited to reserve the electric vehicle for a refundable $99 deposit. Judy Wheeler, Nissan Canada’s director of marketing, said, “Response from Canadians since we first revealed the Nissan Leaf in 2009 has been astounding, so we’re not surprised that our first inventory of 40 model year ’11 cars were snapped up so quickly”.
Nissan says that Leaf deliveries will begin sometime in September for Canadians that reserved the vehicle. Nissan will also be selling 600 units of the 2012 model year Leaf sometime soon.
Today was a great day for MINI, as the two millionth Cooper rolled off the assembly line, ten years after the start of production. British Prime Minister David Cameron was even present at the Oxford plant to drive the car out of the factory.
The MINI convertible was complete with special paintwork and extras. David Cameron declared that the ceremony that, “It’s a real privilege to drive this true British icon off the production line today. The 2 millionth MINI to be made here in Oxford is a fantastic symbol of the UK’s strength in the global automotive industry and a great British manufacturing success story. MINI is not just a symbol of our industrial past, but also the great industrial future we want to build.”
When production began at the Oxford Plant in 2001, 2,400 employees worked a single shift producing 300 cars a day. Today production has expanded to include 3,700 employees working two shifts, five days a week, building 900 cars a day. The maximum capacity of the plant has also increased from 100,000 units per year in 2001, to 200,000 units ten years later. Currently, the MINI is delivered to customers in more than 90 countries across the globe.
Jürgen Hedrich, head of Plant Oxford said: “This marks a tremendous milestone for Plant Oxford and its employees. Oxford has been the heart of MINI production for ten years. Our employees are proud to be part of this brand’s success.”
MINI has recently released another short commercial featuring the adventurous 2012 coupe. This video is a tad bit creepy, involving a hitchhiker, a MINI driver and a wanted poster. The video leaves us on a cliffhanger, and we’re not exactly sure what happens. Maybe MINI Coupe owners attract negative attention? MINI also released two other videos, with one set in Hong Kong (and taking a much lighter tone) and another set in Rio, with a carnival/samba theme.
Three different trims will be offered with the Coupe including the standard Cooper, Cooper S and the high performance John Cooper works model. The base model will start at $22,000 and have a 121-hp engine. The S model will start at $25,300 and gets a turbocharged 181-hp engine. The steroid infused JCW model will start at $31,900 and produce 208-hp, also through a turbocharged engine.
Check out the video after the jump!
In case you weren’t impressed with the Mayfair or Goodwood model, MINI will be releasing another special edition known as the Highgate later this year. The vehicle will follow along the lines of the recently released MINI Hampton.
The Highgate model will feature an Ice Chocolate Metallic color, half way between Hot Chocolate and Astro Black, and the interior will be coated in Chocolate colored leather with contrasting white stitching. The Highgate model will likely come with a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine from the 2011 MINI Cooper S producing 181-hp. MINI will release the Highgate later this year as a 2012 model. Look for a likely debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show.
[Source: Motoring File]
Sharing the same platform as that car, look for an improved ride quality, plus the Forte is expected to get a new design closer in keeping with the larger Optima sedan.
As for engines, look for the 1.8-liter 4-cylinder from the Elantra with 148-hp. Both a six-speed manual and six-speed automatic will be offered. In terms of fuel economy, look for fuel economy that could even exceed the 29/40-mpg rating of the current Elantra. The 2013 Kia Forte could even get a stop-start system that will arrive in the all-new Rio later this year.
[Source: Automotive News]
Subaru of American announced today, that its highly-anticipated 2012 Impreza will start at just $17,495. At that price, customers will get the base model 4-door 2.0-liter with a five speed manual transmission.
Impressively, the car’s starting price remains the same as last year’s model. The base model equipped with a CVT transmission will carry a $1,000 premium. The five door model with a five speed with cost $17,995 or $18,995 for the CVT model.
The Impreza will also be offered in 2.0i Premium, Sport Premium and Limited models. The 4-door 2.0i Premium will cost $18,795, with the five door Premium starting at $19,295. The 2.0i Limited 4-door will cost $21,595 and $22,095 for the 5-door. Lastly, the Impreza 2.0i Sport Premium will start at $20,295 and is only offered in the 5-door body style.
The 2012 Impreza has a few changes from last year including the all-new148-hp 2.0-liter Boxer engine, that achieves 27 mpg city and 36 mpg highway. The 2012 Impreza will hit dealerships in November 2011.
Shares in Fiat fell on Tuesday as a result of reports that North American sales of the 500 would fall short of the company’s target.
Fiat shares fell 4.26 percent Tuesday as investors grew worried over what CEO Sergio Marchionne said regarding the great opportunities the Italian brand would have in America.Laura Soave, head of the Fiat brand in North America acknowledged that Fiat would fall short of its full-year North American sales target of 50,000 vehicles. By the end of July, Fiat had only sold 12,000 units in North America.
Fiat is hoping to have better luck with a new variant which will hopefully cement the 500′s reputation as a trend setter. A Gucci 500 will be unveiled at Fashion Week in New York on September 8. Both Gucci editions of the Fiat 500 and 500 Cabrio have been designed in collaboration between Gucci Creative Director Frida Giannini and Fiat’s Centro Stile. ”With Gucci as our design partner, we’ve amplified the Italian style of our Fiat 500 with unique exterior and interior looks that will make the car truly unique on the road,” said Laura Soave. ”We have coverage now, so now is the time for us to turn this up,” Soave said. Fiat’s Gucci 500 will hit dealerships in December and pricing will soon be announced.
[Source: The Detroit News]
The third generation Smart fortwo is on its way, hitting dealers in the spring of 2012. The electric Smart car will roll off the production line in Hamback, France and will be available in more than thirty markets worldwide when released.
The third generation smart fortwo electric drive features a fifty-five kW magneto-electric motor, churning out 130 lb-ft of torque. The fortwo will accelerate from 0-62 mph in less than thirteen seconds, and have a top speed of more than 120 km/h. The 17.6 kWh battery allows the car to travel more than 140 kilometers before needing a recharge.
“The smart fortwo has exceeded itself. It has always been a pioneer of urban mobility and with the new electric drive it is once again setting standards with even more driving fun and environmental compatibility,” says Dr. Annette Winkler, Head of smart. “With the new generation the frequently cited “electric era” has finally arrived.”
The third- gen Smart car will feature a larger radiator grille featuring the electric drive logo, stylish LED lights below the headlights, wider door sills and several modifications to the rear of the vehicle. Smart has also teamed up with iPhone to create a drive app. Important features include making phone calls via hands-free system, your own extensive music collection, internet radio and a navigation system.
After a 27 year absence, Fiat has had a very successful launch in North America. Currently, the 500 is available in three trim levels, but the model range is set to expand next year with the introduction of the sporty Abarth version and an all-electric 500. Fiat will also launch a fifth vehicle in 2013, a four-door, five-seat, taller subcompact. This vehicle will be built on a larger platform but will still use the 500 in its nameplate. It will be marketed as a more family-oriented car within the Fiat lineup.
The 500 Abarth will use an imported version of the 1.4-liter engine equipped with a turbocharger producing 160-hp. The Abarth will also have a stiffer suspension, wider tires and a tweaked exterior and interior design. Fiat feels this vehicle will be a serious competitor to the Mini Cooper S.
The next-gen Suzuki Swift Sport will debut at the 64th Frankfurt Auto Show on September 13.
Compared to the standard Swift, the Sport model has a more aggressive exterior and promises a “high-quality” interior with, “features that heighten excitement about the driving experience.”
Powering the Swift is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 134-hp, with better fuel consumption than previous models. The engine will be mated to a specifically developed six-speed manual transmission.
The Swift Sport also offers better handling thanks to larger wheels and low profile tires, as well as a new suspension setup with custom spring and shock settings.
Safety features include seven airbags and a stability control system.
It has been rumored that the Swift may come to North America, and if it does, hopefully the Swift Sport will also be offered. More information will be known at the Frankfurt auto show so stay tuned!
Ford is delaying the full launch of the 2012 electric Focus. Initially, the Focus EV was to be launched in 19 markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit and Seattle. However, plans have changed and the primary launch will be concentrated in California and New York.
Ford’s electrified-vehicles marketing manager David Finnegan said, ”For the first few months of production, we will be concentrating on California and New York,” he said. “Our dealers in those areas will be the first to have their retail orders scheduled and receive the Focus electric. We will be rolling out to the remainder of our initial markets starting in spring 2012.” Ford has yet to set a date for the Focus EV launch in the remaining markets.
[Source: Automotive News]
Yoichi Yokozawa, CEO of Mitsubishi Motors North America confirmed that a new Lancer SE model will be arriving this fall as a 2012 model. The SE model will receive all-wheel drive, like its Ralliart and Evolution siblings, however it will be powered by the naturally aspirated engine found in the DE, ES and GTS trims.
The SE model will likely sell for around $20,000 and is expected to account for 15-20 percent of all Lancer sales. Mitsubishi plans to sell 100,000 units in the U.S again and hopes adding the SE to the Lancer lineup will boost sales – and stay competitive with long-time rival Subaru. Mitsubishi last sold over 100,000 vehicles in the U.S. in 2007, with 128,993.
[Source: Automotive News]
Today, General Motors confirmed that the Chevrolet Spark subcompact will be sold in the U.S. The Spark goes into production this month as the smallest car sold by Chevrolet. The General Motors executive director of North American production communications, Jason Laird, confirmed that the vehicle will launch between January to June 2012 as a 2013 model.
The Spark is currently selling in Asian countries and has been a very important model for Chevrolet in the global mini car segment. Laird explained that the ”Spark minicar will give Chevrolet A-B-C-D-E segment coverage for first time in [the] U.S.” The Spark fits in the A segment, the Sonic fits in the B segment, the Cruze fits in the C segment, the Malibu fits in the D segment and the Impala fits in the E segment.
GALLERY: Chevrolet Spark
[Source: Green Car Reports]
‘Today, it was announced that Mopar will be offering more than 150 accessories including key covers, graphics, body kits, bike carriers, roof racks and seat covers for the new 2012 Fiat 500. Prices will range from $21 for a locking gas cap to $1,400 for a body kit.
“The FIAT 500 is one of the most accessorized vehicles in Europe,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “We expect that trend to continue here in North America and will offer more than 150 accessories for those looking to personalize their ride. Our all-new FIAT 500 is the perfect canvas for customization.”
One of the most interesting accessories is the UConnect Web option which allows each passenger to separately access the Web. The in-vehicle router receives broadband Internet. Passengers can access social media, maps, e-mail, online games and more. This option starts at $399.
The Fiat 500 is offered in three models including the Pop ($15,500), Sport ($17,500) and Lounge ($19,500). The Fiat 500 is powered by a 1.4-liter inline four cylinder engine featuring MultiAir technology. The engine is rated at 30 mpg city and 38 mpg highway for a 33 mpg combined number.
Lexus hopes to change this in the coming years as a diesel option becomes available for the next-gen GS model. Lexus will remain focused on its hybrid offerings, but recognizes the importance of diesel engines in the European market. Lexus currently offers a diesel engine on the IS to the European market, but this will change with the launch of the new GS sedan in 2013.
Lexus will continue to offer the GS with a 3.5-liter gas-electric hybrid and an entry level 2.5-liter V6 but the diesel will help the company compete with BMW’s 520d. The next-gen GS is expected to debut this September at the Frankfurt auto show.
Mini has shifted to become fully integrated into the BMW family, and will grow to include 10 individual models. Mini’s traditional three-door hatchback will be the first of the Mk3 Minis to arrive before the end of next year, and go on sale in 2013. The other nine new Mini’s will be lauched by the middle of the decade, to include a new Clubman estate as well as an all-new MPV.
The next-gen Mini family will be based on the BMW engineered platform called the UKL1. BMW recently invested £500 million to convert the Cowley, Oxfordshire plant to accommodate the new platform. This platform will utilize front-wheel drive, will come in two wheelbase lengths, and is based around MacPherson strut front suspension with BMW’s Z-axle rear end.
Most of the Mk3 Mini lineup will be powered by BMW’s highly advanced three-cylinder engines. This new engine will supposedly be just as powerful as the existing Mini four-cylinder, but will cost less. Power will range to span 120-hp to 160-hp. The UKL1 will also use 2.0-liter four cylinder BMW engines, capable of producing 230-hp. This engine will most likely be utilized in the John Cooper Works model.
The UKL1 platform will also offer both four-wheel drive and at least one type of hybrid drivetrain. The UKL1 platform will be offered in a range of different bodies including a three-door and five-door hatchback, a super compact SUV and a tall 5-series GT-style car.
[Source: Auto Car]