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 fire at a Toyota assembly plant in Japan temporarily halted production at a facility that assembles the Prius, Camry and Scion tC. The fire broke out around 10 A.M. but was put out by now.
Toyota reports that no production equipment was damaged, but the fire did affect the factory’s ceiling. An investigation is being launched to determine the cause of the fire.
[Source: LeftLane News]
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]
Ford of Europe CEO Stephen T. Odell announced a “groundbreaking” new vehicle set to debut at the Geneva Auto Show at the beginning of March, but gave no details as to the nature of the car.
Some have speculated that the car could be an larger version of the Fiesta, dubbed the B-Max, that would take on cars like the Honda Fit. Presumably, an alternative powertrain would be part of the package, since a small compact hatch isn’t exactly what we’d call “groundbreaking”
The Toyota Matrix has always been a bit of a non-starter in the marketplace, but that’s not stopping Toyota from launching an all new updated version at the Chicago Auto Show.
Just like the updated 2011 Corolla, the changes are essentially all cosmetic. The same 1.8L and 2.4L powerplants remain in place, as does the antiquated 4-speed automatic transmission. The Matrix, unlike its sedan counterpart, does get all-wheel-drive as an option.
Hit the jump to see the official press release
Prius sales began to dip in September after the government subsidy program ended, but Fit sales remained strong, buttressed by the introduction of an inexpensive Fit Hybrid model. Toyota’s new Vitz subcompact was also blamed for stealing Prius sales. Overall sales in January were down about 21.5 percent compared to 2010, the fifth month of consecutive decline. Vehicles under 660cc, counted in a separate category, still continue to lead the sales race, with the Daihatsu Move and Suzuki WagonR taking first and second spots respectively.
[Source: The Mainichi Daily News]
Volkswagen‘s newest Jetta was designed to be a volume leader, selling for about $15,000. But Volkswagen loyalists, who previously loved the Jetta for its premium feel and sporty character, have decried what they see as a cheapening of their beloved compact sedan, and Volkswagen seems to be listening.
After driving a European market Jetta, with a more sophisticated multi-link rear suspension and dual zone climate control, a journalist from InsideLine confronted Jetta’s Global Technical Project Leader, Frank Donath, about the decontented car sold in North America, and if there were plans to bring the better equipped European car over.
Donath admitted that, if sales were strong, there was a good chance for the European car to make its way over. The North American Jetta, which uses hard plastics, a torsion-beam suspension and manual climate control, was designed with cost-cutting in mind, and the use of hard plastic and a less sophisticated suspension have saved Volkswagen a lot of money, at the ultimate cost of a less refined car. Now, VW seems to be essentially backtracking, and tacitly admitting that a more premium Jetta is needed. We concur.
Honda‘s previous Civic launches have seen the base models get the star-treatment right out of the gate, with performance and eco variants following later on. But this time will be different, as Honda plans to launch the regular Civic, Civic Si, Civic Hybrid and a natural gas powered Civic within weeks of each other.
The rapid launch is part of Honda’s marketing campaign based on Soichiro Honda’s phrase that there is “a Civic for everyone”. The new Civic’s introduction will be critical for Honda, as the Civic’s bread and butter car has had an exceptionally long product cycle, due to a sudden alteration of the Civic’s design after the start of the financial crisis in 2008.
For more news, discussions, pricing and pictures on the 2012 Honda Civic, please visit http://www.9thgencivic.com/
Images leaked on the internet purport to show a new version of the Honda Jazz (sold as the Fit in our markets) that looks somewhat like a stretched-in-all-directions version of the current car.
The tall-wagon/”people-mover” segment is a major one in much of the world, and the new car, which may be sold as the “Shuttle” (the same badge that the first generation Odyssey was sold under in Europe), will be Honda’s answer to larger versions of European compact cars.
The Jazz’s anemic 1.2L and 1.4L powertrains will likely be carried over, although with the extra heft, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Honda fit something a bit more substantial to the upcoming Shuttle.
Lancia’s version of the Chrysler 200, likely dubbed the Flavia, will debut at the Geneva Auto Show in March. While the idea of a Lancia-badged Chrysler is unpalatable to many enthusiasts, the fact that Chrysler has decided use the much vilified 200 will surely make it the automotive equivalent of the Antichrist.
Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne rubbed salt in the wounds of Italian car fans everywhere with his announcement, also confirming that the 200 convertible will be a part of the Lancia lineup. The Flavia will get a new front end, a diesel engine and a manual transmission as part of its adaptation for Europe.
Brighter news for Lancia comes with the announcement that the Chrysler 300 will be sold as the Lancia Thema, and the new Lancia Ypsilon will be based off the highly lauded Fiat Panda. A 5-door version will also be offered for the first time in the car’s history.
[Source: Automotive News]
Get AutoGuide’s complete 2011 Geneva Auto Show preview here.
You may have never heard of Guangzhou, China, but with nearly 12 million people, the industrial metropolis is a major player in the Chinese auto market.
Making its debut at the show is one of China’s most anticipated new cars, the MG3 hatchback and MG6 sedan. Although Chinese cars are a laughing stock in much of the automotive press, the MG6, in pre-production form, has been called “borderline best in class to drive” by Autocar magazine in the UK, and with competition like the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Volkswagen Golf, this is high praise.
While the MG bears the nameplate of the famous British sports car maker, the MG6 was developed from the ground up in China. The car will be sold in the UK within a year, but no plans for American sales have been announced.
Not one to let its long-time rival capitalize on every niche, Mercedes-Benz is apparently working on a small city car to rival BMW’s MegaCity project.
Although only sketches and clay models exist, a possible synergy with the Smart brand could exist, especially in light of the brand’s recent foray into electric vehicles. The vehicle’s styling work is being carried out at Mercedes-Benz’s studio in Yokohama, Japan, under the direction of Holger Hutzenlaub.
“We been looking outside the automotive industry, including the trend towards mini city houses, to generate new ideas on space utilization and packaging,” said Hutzenlaub. With Japan’s lack of space and love for minicars, the metropolis of Yokohama is an ideal center for development, and will likely influence the project in a unique way. But with so little work done at this point, don’t expect a finish product for a number of years.
143,8003 Honda Fit hatchbacks from the model years 2007 and 2008 are being recalled in North America due to a defect that could cause the low beam headlights to stop working.
Plating on the vehicle’s headlight connector has been identified as the culprit, with the automaker stating that it “can become warn after repeated use … and cause the connector to overheat and fail, resulting in a loss of low-beam headlight functionality.”
Dealers will begin notifying owners of the affected vehicles, but owners can also have their cars inspected at a dealership for potential signs of trouble.
Mazda‘s diminutive minivan, the Mazda5, is the latest car to fall victim to the recall machine, this time a faulty fuel pump being the culprit.
Water that remains in the fuel pump may corrode the electrical connectors for the electrical harness. Should the part fail, the engine may stall and be unable to restart, which could present an accident risk.
NHTSA says 16,200 cars are affected, and the recall will begin on December 11th. Hit the jump to read NHTSA’s official announcement.
For all the hype surrounding Ford‘s Fiesta subcompact, which is capable of hitting 40 mpg, it looks like subcompacts, especially those than can hit the vaunted number, aren’t selling all that well in the USA.
Even though gas prices will almost certainly hit $3 a gallon, customers are still gravitating towards compact cars, according to Cars.com’s David Thomas. This means vehicles like the Chevrolet Cruze and Hyundai Elantra are well positioned with their 40 mpg fuel economy numbers, spacious interior and premium features…but if gas prices keep going past $3 (and they almost certainly will) then the sub compact segment may see a resurgence, just like the summer of 2008 when gas was around $4.
The big winners in the segment are still the Nissan Versa and Honda Fit respectively, with the Versa enjoying a nearly 3,000 unit lead over the Fit in November. Hyundai’s Accent and the Fit are nearly neck and neck, while the Fiesta comes in at fourth place, but cars like the Chevrolet Aveo and Toyota Yaris are nipping at its heels, even with stale-dated designs and no 40 mpg capability. We think the significant delta in price between a bare bones Aveo and a more expensive Fiesta hatch may have something to do with this.
[Source: Kicking Tires]
Despite being hailed as the vehicle that would motorize a billion-strong economic powerhouse, the Tata Nano has turned out to be a spectacular flop, with November sales totalling just 509 units, from a peak of 9,000 units in July. For comparison, Mercedes-Benz cars, far beyond the reach of a majority of India’s population, regularly sells over 500 cars a month.
Quality problems have dogged the Nano, and are blamed for the disastrous sales decline. Numerous Nanos have gone up in flames, prompting Indian consumers to stay away for the $2,257 car. Despite the Nano’s troubles, parent company Tata motors has had a phenomenal financial year, with a 100-fold increase in profit and a share price increase of 78%.
[Source: Economic Times]
Honda has given its European market Jazz (also known as the Fit to us North Americans) a mild refresh, and confirmed availability of the Jazz Hybrid that debuted at the 2010 Paris Auto Show.
A front end re-style drops the drag co-efficient to 0.33, and the 1.2L and 1.4L powerplants get minor reductions in CO2 emissions. Higher-grade materials adorn the cabin, while leather seats are an option on higher trim levels.
Most significant is the option of a CVT transmission, something that was apparently quite popular on the first generation Jazz. The CVT will be standard equipment on the Jazz Hybrid, and an option on 1.4L engine cars.
Chevrolet‘s Cruze Eco compact sedan has returned 28 mpg in the city and 42 mpg on the highway, allowing it to capture the top spot in its segment for fuel economy.
Using the new 1.4T engine that displaces 138 horsepower, the Cruze Eco also has a few aerodynamic tricks up its sleeve, including a front air dam, rear spoiler, a revised underbody surface and a lowered ride height, as well as a host of weight reductions. Low rolling resistance tires at 17″ wheels also help lower the car’s drag coefficient.
Best of all, the Cruze only costs $18,895, but you’ll have to wait until January to order one.
After bringing you a preview of the Ford Fiesta SEMA exhibit, we now bring you pictures of Ford’s newest compact in the flesh, looking quite a bit different from the Fiestas you might see at college campuses or 16th birthday celebrations across the country.
For the Fiesta’s SEMA debut, Ford enlisted the services of a variety of tuners, among them H&R Springs, Steeda, 3D Carbon, L&G Enterprises, FSWerks and the hilariously named UTI Inc., which is actually a technical college. We have galleries of each of the Fiestas, and the official details on each car are listed in the press release below.
Gallery: Ford Fiesta Steeda
Gallery: Ford Fiesta 3D Carbon
Gallery: Ford Fiesta Custom Accessories
Gallery: Ford Fiesta FSWerks
Gallery: Ford Fiesta UTI
Gallery: Ford Fiesta L&G Enterprises
Gallery: Ford Fiesta H&R Springs
Hit the jump to check out the official press release
Honda has made some improvements to the stop-start system on their Insight hybrid car, allowing drivers to keep the engine off for up to 3 times as long as previous years.
Insights before 2011 could keep the engine stopped for up to 30 seconds, but new improvements for this coming model year allow for the engine to be stopped for as long as 90 seconds. The initial figure was based on a “worst case scenario” of extreme humidity, a car full of passengers and poor weather, but Honda has now revised the rating.
The 90 second engine-off feature will help improve mileage in town by a noticeable amount. Unfortunately, we’re not sure just how significant the improvement will be, as no official figures have been released yet.
Chevrolet will debut their first television commercial for their Volt electric car during Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday. The ad will tout the Volt’s ability to go farther than other electric vehicles by using its gasoline-engine range extender.
The range issue is a major concern for many potential EV customers, and Chevrolet is hoping to position the Volt as one that can be more than just urban transportation. Shots of freeways, suburban neighborhoods and rural two-lane roads feature prominently throughout the ad, ostensibly to highlight the Volt’s ability to drive extended distances.
Don’t want to wait for the World Series to start? Check out the commercial after the jump:
[Source: Chevrolet Volt]
Chevrolet‘s next Aveo will see more bodystyles beyond the traditional hatchback, with a crossover and a sedan among them.
A sedan model will be essential for the U.S. market, where hatchbacks are slowly gaining acceptance, but have been a traditionally tough sell. The Aveo sedan will likely debut at the Detroit Auto Show in January, but details of the car still haven’t been fully fleshed out.
The crossover will likely be built on a stretched Aveo platform with available all wheel drive, and a premium interior with certain components taken from upmarket Opel models like the Insignia. GM Daewoo bosses, who were responsible for developing the Aveo, were quick to stress that the Aveo would not infringe on Opel or Vauxhall cars, which will retain their premium brand and get their own versions of the Aveo crossover.
The folks over at Left Lane News have spied an undisguised Hyundai Accent after it was caught at a well-known hot weather testing location by the spies at Brenda Priddy & Co.
The Accent gets some differentiating styling cues from the Korean market Accent (known as the Verna over there) and, with the American car sharing some details with the rapid-selling Sonata. Specs haven’t been announced in advance of the car’s Los Angeles Auto Show debut, but a 1.6L direct-injection four-cylinder engine making 140 horsepower is expected to motivate the car, with a 6-speed automatic or a 5-speed manual.
[Source: Left Lane News]
Mazda proudly announced that their upcoming Japanese market Mazda2, set to bow in the second half of 2011, will get an astonishing 70 mpg without any hybrid technology, making it the most fuel efficient gasoline car on the road.
Using an all new family of chassis, engines and gearboxes, Mazda’s SKYACTIV system is designed to get the most mileage out of Mazda’s cars without resorting to hybrid technology. The Mazda2 will use a direct-injection gasoline engine with an astonishing 14:1 compression ratio, but diesels will be available on other models, notably the Mazda6.
The already svelte car will also get a stiffer and lighter chassis as part of the upgrades. No word on whether we’ll see this car in North America, but you can check out our review of the U.S. and Canadian spec Mazda2 here.
[Source: Automotive News]
While only a small percentage of buyers actually opt for a manual transmission, offering one usually indicates that a company seriously cares about how their products perform.
The Chevrolet Cruze, with it’s 1.4L turbo engine, has all the right stuff to be a fun-to-drive compact, but the sole transmission choice, a 6 speed automatic, wasn’t exactly cutting it. Now, GM looks to be offering a proper manual on their sportiest Cruze, and with a lack of an SS trim level, we’re pretty pleased. The Cruze Eco was slated to be available with a 6-speed manual and a 1.4L engine, but adding the manual across the range will allow consumers to get that combination without the Eco’s aerodynamic additions and low rolling resistance tires.
Get more Chevy Cruze news and info at CruzeTalk.com
[Source: GM Inside News]