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.
Should General Motors’ German subsidiary be scrapped? Not according to its American parent, which plans to pour four billion Euros into it through 2016.
With much of Europe mired in recession and seemingly ever widening debt crisis amongst member states, the very notion of spending exorbitant sums of money on activities like motorsport is coming under increasing scrutiny.
Tom Tom is a company known for building aftermarket GPS devices. But now, with the new Tom Tom speed camera app, users in Europe can beat the speed traps and save some money.
We’ve got to laugh a little at the German automaker for deciding to intentionally offer less-than-optimal fuel efficiency in the Q5s headed to North America. Their 2.0-liter TDI is actually more efficient than the hybrid powertrain that will be available stateside.
To keep people from flocking to the most efficient bird in the roost, Audi decided to slip the same 3.0-liter diesel from the Q7 into the smaller Q5, branding it as a more performance-oriented option.
You can see in the photos that the Q5 is getting Audi’s S-line treatment like the new A4 and A6. We’re also told that the compact SUV will come with the latest multimedia interface, including Audi connect and Google Maps.
GALLERY: 2013 Audi Q5 spy photos
Ever wondered what a Cruze would look like if it had some more trunk space? Today, Chevrolet has revealed its Cruze station wagon before its official appearance next month at the 2012 Geneva Auto Show.
These pictures show the wagon with the same clean looks that the Cruze sedan and hatchback have, and sporting a new set of alloy rims. Also new for the station wagon is the optional 1.7L diesel engine with start-stop technology.
Unsurprisingly, at 184.2-inches long, the Cruze station wagon is bigger than both the Cruze hatchback (177.5-inches long) and the Cruze sedan (180.9-inches long.)
Trunk space is what talks in the world of station wagons, and Chevrolet says if you pack the trunk up to the window, you’re looking at 17.6 cubic feet of trunk space. If you still need more space in the back, you can drop the back seats and enjoy a total space of 52.9 cubic feet of space.
The full reveal of the station wagon will take place at the Geneva Auto Show, where Chevrolet will show us updates to the Cruze’s front fascia, and interior. Also, hopefully Chevrolet will comment on the Cruze station wagon’s availability in other markets than Europe.
As of now there is no talk of bringing the stretched out Cruze to North America.
Efficiency is important these days. The government is cracking down on gas guzzlers and imposing strict regulations that force automakers into saving more fuel than ever before.
That’s why it might come as a surprise that Audi of America is opting not to offer their most efficient diesel engine in the upcoming 2013 Q5. That’s right, the German luxury brand sees fit to package the same diesel 3.0-liter V6 that they currently offer American consumers in the Q7.
Why, you might ask? The answer is simple, though less than logical. Audi is afraid of selling a 2.0 turbo diesel Q5 because it gets better milage than the hybrid-electric powertrain they are offering in the same vehicle.
In other words, the diesel engine is too efficient for the discerning U.S. palette. Now, there may be some merit to the theory, considering diesel fuel is more expensive than gasoline. People can be quick to judge at the pump and diesels still carry a somewhat sordid name among American consumers, even today.
On the other hand Hybrids evoke green imagery and environmentally friendly thoughts, which is even funnier when you realize that Europeans have been driving diesels to save fuel for decades.
Regardless of the reasoning, Audi is doing a good job of pandering to consumer egos, saying they chose to offer a more performance oriented diesel and an efficient hybrid.
Speaking of performance-oriented diesels, the company will also be offering Americans the same engine in the A8 later this year. The same logic that spoiled the chances for a 2.0-liter diesel Q5 is also keeping the hybrid A8 out of reach.
“Our current A8 with the 4.2L gasoline V-8 gets the same fuel economy as hybrids from BMW, Lexus and Mercedes” due to its emphasis on weight-saving aluminum construction, Audi of America President Johan de Nysschen said to Ward’s Auto. “Imagine now what happens when you put a diesel in the car. You have all the driveability and driving enjoyment with even better fuel economy.”
In fact, 41% of Q7 and 55% of A3 sales in the U.S. were diesel models, though the fact that Audi still ships from Germany probably restricted supply, so it makes sense that they would be rolling more models out with the oil-burning option.
GALLERY: Audi Q5 Hybrid
[Source: Wards Auto]
If you had twelve children every year, would you love them all the same? It might be hard to keep track, but as is true with any parent, seeing one of your babies hurt would be tragic.
While it’s a bit much to think of cars as children, and some people do, the Pagani Zonda is a rarity in the luxury supercar market because the company only produced one every month starting in 1999 and stopped production last year. That is enough to tug on enthusiast heart strings and evoke a passionate response when one of these rare birds gets its wings clipped.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what seems to have happened in Hong Kong. Pictures started floating around a forum, showcasing a wrecked Zonda in the middle of an intersection. There aren’t many other details to report on the wreck, but it’s clear from the picture that the car was on a tight city street. You can see that the driver hit a pole, but beyond that it’s tough to speculate on the incident. Click here to see the forum for yourself.
GALLERY: Pagani Zonda F Roadster
Numbers might not mean much to most people, but this will put things into perspective: at 1.6 million units worldwide, BMW stood fast as the world’s largest luxury car brand. Those are worldwide sales figures. VW came close to the half-million mark in Europe alone and with just one model.
As far as American bravado is concerned, we can’t come close to touching those numbers. The top-selling car in the U.S. was the Toyota Camry with 308,510 units. To be fair, all you need to do is delve into the popular world of pickup trucks to find that the Ford F-150 sold about 100,000 more units in the States than the Golf did in Europe, but the fact remains that Volkswagen is killing the competition with their catchy compact.
If VW has its way, the Golf will remain in the top spot for its seventh generation— set to debut at the Paris Auto Show in September. Sales actually dropped by 2 percent last year, though such fluctuations are typical towards the end of a model cycle.
GALLERY: 2011 Volkswagen Golf
[Source: Automotive News]
Mercedes-Benz is going guerilla with its marketing tactics for the new A-Class by placing camouflaged cars around Germany stamped with QR (Quick Response) codes to give those lucky enough to scan them a chance at some prizes.
While that’s good news for a bunch of lucky Germans, the rest of us will have to settle for a new video showing the body shape, headlights and bits of bumper. The video is just a small teaser for the full reveal which will happen in Geneva this March.
If you’re in Germany and see one of the “specially marked” vehicles, whip out your smart phone and scan the code. It could lead to a visit to witness the A-Class debut in person.
Last month our spy photographers spotted a camo-wrapped A-Class being tested but we weren’t sure about the mechanical details. Since then we’ve learned that it will likely feature a 1.8-liter turbocharged four cylinder mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Most models will feature front-wheel drive, though the AMG variant will get 4Matic treatment.
Expect to hear about the A-Class hitting the road in Europe by the end of the year, but not in the U.S. until mid 2013. There will, however, be a four-door coupe hitting the American market based on the same drivetrain later this year.
We’ll be covering the A-Class reveal as well as other breaking news from Geneva starting on March 6.
Watch the promo video after the jump.
[Source: Motor Authority]
Cutting costs these days seems to be all about building factories in the country meant to buy your products. Audi is following that mantra by announcing designs to build a plant in North America.
Doing so would help the brand avoid the pitfalls of the European economy and make the actual act of bringing vehicles to market much simpler.
“It’s not a matter of if we will do a plant in North America, but when,” Audi of America president Johan de Nysschen told WardsAuto. “The decision to do a plant, technically we’ve reached that conclusion. It’s a matter now of waiting to pull the trigger.” So that means we, and most everyone concerned with the auto industry, are asking just that— when? Though there isn’t a date settled, Audi might be motivated to move quickly in an effort to meet their 150,000 U.S. unit sales goal by 2015.
“One advantage of Mexico is that you could support the growing markets down in South America, Brazil,” said De Nysschen. “More so, you have the benefit of exporting cars into Europe duty-free.” Despite that, Mexico isn’t a definite destination. He also said there are definite advantages to building the plant in the U.S., though using Volkswagen‘s Chattanooga, TN plant isn’t an option because it is expected to be running at maximum capacity.
“Getting a plant allows us to have a higher degree of U.S. content. It allows us to have a natural hedge against that,” he said.
Even with such discussions, the fact remains heavily on Audi’s radar that their sales don’t currently justify building such a plant.
“We’ve got to build our business to get to the point where, with a combination of production for the U.S. and some exports to other markets, we can get the economies of scale to make that factory work.” In other words, the company is looking for much greater sales before staking out territory for their North American plant.
[Source: Wards Auto]
When there’s blood in the water, sharks start to bite. If the automotive industry does nothing else, it fosters ruthless competition and a winner-takes-all mentality akin to professional sports.
Outside scheduled announcements, Marchionne told the Detroit News that ”there’s a willingness on the part of Fiat-Chrysler to listen,” going on to say that ”this is an industry that is in evolution.”
Despite his affirmation that Fiat would be willing to consider the idea, there doesn’t seem to be any plan being cooked up. GM vice chairman Steve Girsky said he and Marchionne had dinner last Sunday and that Marchionne wasn’t interested in Opel.
“Opel is not for sale,” Girsky said. “We’re going to make Opel work.” GM is “committed to returning our European business to sustained profitability. There’s a lot of work to do.”
For better or worse, the business world is sensitive to such discussions. The notion that something like that might happen drove speculation that Fiat might also be eyeing Peugeot. Once again, it seems the rumor mill is churning out little more than hot air, though Marchionne maintains that he is open to opportunities.
For now it seems the dinner discussions that spurred these questions were little more than meals, though we’ll stick to Marchionne’s philosophy and refuse to rule anything out, especially considering his original plan after buying Chrysler was, in fact, to take Opel as well.
[Source: Detroit News]
The European Union has just announced that it wants to improve emissions by 20% in 2015, and to achieve that goal, it is tightening emission regulations starting from 2012.
As of January 1st, all automobile manufacturer’s who produce more than 10,000 vehicles per-year, will need to sell 65% of their annual sales of cars that produce less than 130-grams of Co2/kilometer (0.621-miles).
Automakers who cannot comply with this regulation will pay a fine of $6.50 per-gram for each car that is over. This could add to millions by the end of the year, making survival in the auto industry even tougher than before.
Renault’s Romanian brand Dacia will be in trouble with these new regulations in 2012, and Daimler is expected to be in even more trouble, as it would have to pay a fine of $2500 per vehicle.
Not all car companies will be in trouble however. Toyota, Peugeot and Fiat produce vehicles that produce between 112 to 119 grams/km.
While this regulation favors companies that produce small cars, those who produce large SUV’s will either have to cut production or start offering a small commuter car to bring their average down.
[Source: Left Lane News]
According to Jenny Gu, a Shanghai- based analyst at research firm LMC Automotive, the number of luxury cars sold in China for 2011 may increase by 39 percent to 939,000, overtaking Germany by 25,000.
That 2.7 percent margin might not seem like a lot, but Europe as a whole is on a downswing for premium products. China, on the other hand, is growing rapidly. Gu expects Chinese sales to increase 16 percent next year, eclipsing the forecast 4.4 percent for Germany.
“Luxury car demand is still on the rise in China with low penetration rates,” Gu said to Bloomberg. “Sales of such cars in developed markets like Germany fluctuate together with the economic cycle.”
Despite BMW’s lead as the largest luxury manufacturer worldwide, Audi actually beats them in China— something they hope will boost them toward their goal to beat Bimmer for the top spot by 2015.
While it sure isn’t over until the lederhosen-laden fat lady sings, this year might serve as an indicator of things to come. Audi enjoyed a meteoric 69 percent sales spike in China this year, as compared to Mercedes-Benz‘ 24 percent and BMW with a measly 9.8 percent growth.
Those numbers seem to have BMW and Mercedes scrambling, both automakers will keep their plants open an additional week this year by limiting holiday closures. Audi, on the other hand, will enjoy the full two weeks that the other two have forgone for a second year running.
Though some analysts are predicting a softening in the Chinese market thanks to stricter mortgage regulation, Olaf Kastner, CEO of BMW’s Chinese venture, Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd. doesn’t seem concerned.
“The premium car industry has enjoyed over the past two to three years an amazing growth,” Kastner said to Bloomberg. “We still, in the premium segment, will see a higher growth rate than the mass segment” for next year.
[Source: Automotive News]
Bill Kwong, Lexus Communications Specialist, said the LX 570 and Toyota Land Cruiser will feature an updated body style, but that the interior and drivetrain would remain almost completely the same.
The truth is, the LX models don’t sell very well in the U.S., meaning changes are more in tune with what European and Australian consumers, who show Lexus more love, and like the LX’s Land Cruiser-based underpinnings. For example, Yankees bought close to seven Cadillac Escalades for every LX 570 in 2010.
BMW is turning to Brilliance Jinbei Automobile, an already-established Chinese partner, to work their way around new legislation aimed at promoting Chinese cars.
Ian Robertson, director of sales and marketing for BMW told Automotive News Europe said the new brand, which will exist solely to sell electric vehicles in China, will only use limited BMW technology. That decision is in contrast to the i3 and i8 cars BMW plans to release in other markets, including the North America and Europe.
This isn’t the first time BMW and Brilliance have worked together to market a vehicle in China. Last April we reported a story on a 5-series plug-in hybrid meant for Chinese markets that the companies worked together on.
With Europe having a long history of taxing cars based on engine displacement, automakers have long dodged this levy by placing diminutive engines in even their largest vehicles.
Infiniti is hoping to get around this by following the same path, and starting in 2012, the Infiniti M will feature a pair of 4-cylinder engines borrowed from Mercedes-Benz; a 204 horsepower turbocharged 1.8 L, and a a 170 horsepower 2.1L turbodiesel. Both engines are from the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and will be some of the first technology sharing to come from the agreement signed by Mercedes-Benz and Nissan.
The vehicles are expected to be introduced at March’s Geneva Auto Show.
[Source: Left Lane News]
It seems Ford‘s financial health is improving after an announcement that they will reinstate a cash dividend on their stocks at 5 cents a share.
Ford originally abandoned the dividend in 2006 as part of an effort to preserve cash after posting a total of $9 billion in losses the previous five years. They hadn’t planned to make such a move until their credit rating climbed back to investment status, but the board felt differently in light of the company’s success.
“We have made tremendous progress in reducing debt and generating consistent positive earnings and cash flow,” Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford, said in a statement. “The board believes it is important to share the benefits of our improved financial performance with our shareholders.”
The $9 billion Ford lost leading up to the recession paled in comparison to the $30.1 billion they lost between 2006 and 2008, but it looks like the number crunchers feel good about the last 10 quarters where they posted consistant profits. As it stands, the dividend is payable on March 1, 2012, to Class B and common shareholders of record on Jan. 31, 2012.
S&P and Moody’s both downgraded Ford’s credit rating in 2005, before the bulk of their losses took place. Though neither returned Ford to the rating originally aligned with reinstating the cash dividend, they bumped the automaker up to just below investment grade. The upgrade came because of improved finances, but also after a renewed agreement with the United Auto Workers.
Lewis Booth, Ford’s CFO expects the company’s strong financial growth to support the dividend nonetheless.
“We have demonstrated our capability to finance our plans and we are confident that we can begin to pay a dividend that will be sustainable through economic cycles,” Booth said in a statement.
S&P said today that the move to reinstate the dividend will not affect Ford’s credit rating because it is less than the $2 billion they expect Ford to generate in automotive operating cash flow before the dividends are paid out.
Despite that, they also said that global industry prospects are weakening, pointing to economic uncertainty in Europe and a softening market in Brazil.
While it isn’t clear how much of an effect that will have on Ford, a blow to international sales may be a concern for the company on some level considering their growing international success with cars like the Fiesta.
[Source: Automotive News]