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.
Volkswagen is recalling 168,000 diesel engine vehicles produced from 2009-2012 over a possible leak from the fuel injectors that could start a fire.
The vehicles in question are Volkswagen Jetta, Jetta SportWagen and Golf models as well as the Audi A3 TDI. 161,144 VWs and 7,131 Audis are involved in the recall, while no injuries or accidents have been reported so far. Volkswagen says that about 20 percent of the vehicles in question have fuel injector lines that could be potentially faulty. The company will begin notifying dealers and owners in November.
[Source: The Detroit News]
While General Motors seemed desperate to sell Opel back in 2009, GM CEO Dan Akerson now says that the terms of the sale were a “bad deal” and that Opel, along with GM’s other global divisions, are now profitable.
Nick Reilly, GM’s European president, said that GM Europe will be profitable – albeit not by much more than the break-even point – once the 2011 restructuring plan has finished at the end of the year. ”In 2012, we won’t have those restructuring charges,” Reilly said. “They’re mostly done. We’ll get the full 12 month benefit of the restructuring that we’ve done.”
[Source: Automotive News]
For the European market, the thought of another high performance Ford Focus has become banal, but North America is eagerly awaiting the launch of the first “Euro” hot hatch variant of the Focus, with the upcoming Ford Focus ST.
The original Focus SVT was based on a European model called the Focus ST170, but the new Focus ST marks the first time that there will be a single unified Focus performance model – with one exception. A Focus ST “wagon” (shown above) will be sold in world markets, but not North America.
With a 2.0L Ecoboost 4-cylinder making 250 PS and 265 lb-ft of torque, the Focus ST relies on an electronic torque-steer management system to put power down through a 6-speed manual gearbox via the front wheels. Big brakes and Recaro seats on offer, as are a specially tuned chassis, 18″ wheels and Goodyear Eagle F1 tires with an asymmetric tread pattern. Stay tuned to AutoGuide for live shots of the Ford Focus ST starting on Tuesday, September 13th as coverage of the Frankfurt AutoShow kicks off.
The Saab 9-6X concept was unveiled six years after being axed. The first pictures of the concept have hit the web and was unveiled at the company’s museum in Trollhättan.
The 9-6X was based on the Subaru Tribeca and was slated for production but the vehicle was shelved when GM sold their 20 percent minority stake in Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru’s parent company) in 2005. Interestingly, Saab also built a three-door prototype of the 9-6X, which would have been a unique vehicle if launched.
The next generation Mercedes-Benz B-Class will make its debut at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show in September, with the car moving towards a hatchback body style rather than the current pseudo-minivan design.
A full range of four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines will be available, along with a start-stop system for improved fuel economy. Mercedes’ main goal for the new car was to preserve the interior space of the current car while retaining the usual Mercedes characteristics. The new B-Class will be on sale at the end of 2011, although the vehicle hasn’t been confirmed for North America.
[Source: Carguide Blog]
A “leaked document” (read: dubious rumor) claims that a coupe variant of the Opel Insignia sedan, may wear the famed Calibra badge. The previous Calibra was known for its slippery styling and turbocharged engines, and the Insignia would make a worthy successor.
Opel previewed an Insignia Coupe with their GTC Concept, which was powered by a 2.8L V6 with a twin-turbo setup, and this engine is currently used in the Insignia VXR good for 321 horsepower. A proposed coupe would be fitted with all-wheel drive, and have a shorter wheelbase to give the car sharper reflexes.
While Opel and Vauxhall cars aren’t sold Stateside, the car could make its easy over here as a Buick. The possibilities mulling in our heads, from a new Riviera to a Grand National successor, are definitely enticing, but we’ll wait for the real car to surface before we let our imagination run wild.
[Source: Auto Express]
The Dacia Logan, intended to be sold in world markets as basic transportation, was never supposed to come to America, but somehow, 41 Dacia Logan station wagons found their way to Iowa, sans drivetrain.
The fleet of Romanian-built compacts, engineered in collaboration with Renault, came without VINs as well, since the cars were intended to be converted to electric vehicles. The project seems to have gone belly-up, and the cars are now being auctioned off on Ebay at a starting price of $4,500. Buyers have the option of purchasing a single car or buying in bulk, although registering the cars for road use will undoubtedly be more trouble than its worth.
[Source: Bring A Trailer]
Saab is hitting the road in an effort to promote its new financial backers, but the road show will have to wait for approval from several authorities who must approve Saab’s transactions with China’s Hawtai Motor Group and Russian financier Vladimir Antonov.
CEO Victor Muller will target major media events and car shows in an effort to demonstrates Saab’s newfound vitality. But Saab was tentative on whether Antonov would be a part of the program.
“If and when Antonov gets involved, we want to include him,” Michele Tinson, a spokesman for Saab Cars North America, told Automotive News. “We want people to meet him and know who he is. Obviously we want to include our Chinese joint-venture partners as well in our tour.”
Saab’s American dealer network held a conference call to discuss dealer issues and the deal with Hawtai. According to Saab National Dealer Council chairman Kurt Schirm, Muller will be targeting major media outlets during his American stops.
[Source: Automotive News]
Volvo CEO Stefan Jacoby has announced that their plans for a flagship sedan to compete with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7-Series have been put on hold, and may be dead altogether.
“It is not in our midterm or long-term strategy right now,” CEO Stefan Jacoby said at last week’s Shanghai Auto Show. “That has been decided.”
Jacoby said that Volvo is preferring to concentrate on their core products rather than move upscale. Volvo is spending $11 billion to invest in new products and as many as 2 Chinese assembly plants over the next 5 years. The new plants would be a means of boosting sales in China, where Volvo hopes to sell 200,000 cars per year by 2015, but some capacity could also be exported.
[Source: Automotive News]
Saab’s attempt at selling off assets to a Russian financial magnate Vladimir Antonov has stalled after the European Investment Bank told the Swedish auto maker to essentially find a new partner within a set time frame.
The EIB and other parties have expressed concerns regarding Antonov’s reported Russian mafia connections. All parties involved are understandably reluctant to elaborate on specifics, but Saab parent company Spyker said in a statement that “Saab Automobile is working with all parties involved on a solution to complete the sale of the property and will have further talks with the EIB today,” Spyker said.
Saab has borrowed $400 million from the EIB, but a cash crunch has also seen the company owe its supplier $49 million, leading to parts supply disruptions and a mere trickle of cars built due to the disputes. Saab has also been courting Chinese auto makers for a variety of deals, but said that it has nothing to do with Volvo, Saab’s fellow Swedish auto maker, currently owned by a Chinese corporation.
Another one makes the cut. Add the 2012 Volvo S60 to the list of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick award winners. That means it earned good performance ratings for front, side, rollover, and rear crash protection. It also comes with standard electronic stability control (ESC), which is also needed to win this award.
It has been a few years since the S60 has picked up a Top Safety Pick. In previous years, the S60 sedan only earned good ratings in the Institute’s front and rear evaluations, but when it came to the side impact test, it was only rated acceptable (in previous models, they weren’t tested for roof strength in rollover crashes).
But that’s old news, and the good news is that the new model has made the grade when it came to testing side impact and roof strength tests. The IIHS found that the roof of the S60 withstood a force equal to 4.95 times the car’s weight. Right now, the current federal standard is 1.5 times weight.
Volvo has a history of getting into bed with Italian coachbuilders for some of its more exclusive models, first Bertone and then Pininfarina.
In 2003, Volvo and the latter launched a joint venture, to build the former company’s second generation C70 retractable hardtop/convertible at a dedicated factory in Uddevalla, Sweden.
However, that arrangement is now coming to an end; Volvo stating that it will assume full control of Pinnfarina’s Swedish operations in May 2013.
Research group JATO dynamics said sales of the C70 were down by some 1.7 percent last year, versus 2009; only 4,703 examples were sold for 2010.
Volvo recently revealed that it is looking for 400 early adopters to test a prototype of its 24 kWh all-battery powered C30 Electric car. Better get in line early, because the limited range, practically hand-made vehicle will be leased for just $2,100 per month.
Why bother with an every day C30 four-passenger, two-door hatchback, when the exotic version can be had for 7.5 times more? OK. Snarky leading sentences behind, here’s a bit of background: Some are taking this as a sort of honesty index – with Volvo showing just how expensive developing a viable EV can be.
Its been alleged that presently Nissan has not pleased too many automakers for practically giving away its LEAF at $32,780 before $7,500 federal tax credit.
The first Smart ForTwo test EVs looked like a rip-off by comparison at $599 per month, but are those more realistically priced considering what it cost to develop such vehicles?
Like Smart’s initiative, the plan with its “DriveE-powered C30 is to get significant numbers on the roads as a test vehicle. Production versions that may be available by 2013 or so would come with a less-than-exorbitant electric powertrain, or so the plan goes.
For now, Volvo is calling on a pool of heavily subsidized, environmental-advocating organizations, government fleet users, and such. Its plan is they should ante up, so Volvo does not have to take the price hit in preparing to launch its EV.
About 300 C30 Electrics could be leased in Europe, and 100 in the U.S. – with 50 on the West Coast, and 50 on the East.
Sounds like a win-win between Volvo, “green” corporations, and other advocating entities spending other people’s money to help usher in the age of the EV.
[Source: Edmunds Green Car Advisor]
Video after the jump
The move comes as a bit of a quid pro quo for Audi, since SEAT’s Exeo flagship is a re-badged Audi A4, and with SEAT’s flagging sales presenting an issue for Volkswagen’s overall profitability, the excess production capacity could be put to good use building a product that will surely be a hit. The move will also add between 700 and 1,200 jobs in a region that has been hit hard by the global recession.
The Q3 will share a platform with the upcoming Porsche Cajun, but the P-Car will be built at a separate facility in Leipzig, Germany.
Maserati is reporting a sales increase of 20 percent in 2010 and selling 2,000 cars. Not bad for a car company that only a decade ago was a boutique maker of finnicky but beautiful Italian exotics.
In a press conference at the Geneva Auto Show, CEO Harald Wester remarked that 2011 should be a banner year for the brand, with expansion into Russia and Japan, as well as a revised GranSport cabriolet. Wester also dropped brief hints about their upcoming SUV, a product necessary for serious competition in markets like China and Russia.
The Suzuki Kizashi may have enjoyed critical acclaim (and rightly so) but it’s sales figures have never been stellar. Suzuki is planning to sell the Kizashi in the UK later in 2011, and while Suzuki only plans on selling 500 units, it’s difficult to imagine the car being anything more than a low-volume curiosity.
With only a 2.4L 4-cylinder, a CVT gearbox and all-wheel-drive, the Kizashi will go up against fully loaded players like the Vauxhall Insignia and Ford Mondeo, two established cars beloved by buyers on the other side of the pond. A lack of a diesel option will also hurt Suzuki, but the company thinks that the AWD system will allow it to attract buyers who may gravitate towards Subaru and AWD Vauxhall models. We wish them luck. They’ll need it.
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
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.
Saab has announced it’s updated 2012 9-3, which will be available in sedan, SportWagon or convertible forms. Chief among the changes are a new front fascia which brings the 9-3 in line with bigger brother, the 9-5.
The most visible difference are new headlight assemblies, though other updates include standard front foglights and a rear deck spoiler on all models.
Under the hood, the 2012 9-3 also gets new engines, in the shape of a pair of new direct injection gasoline four-cylinders, with twin scroll turbochargers designed to reduce boost lag, as well as variable valve timing for better throttle response, balance shafts for less vibration at higher revs and a forged steel crankshaft for greater strength.
The turbo gas engines come in two different forms, rated at 163 or 220 hp. Saab says that equipped with these engines, fuel economy and emissions on the 9-3 are improved by around four percent.
In the United Kingdom, the 2012 9-3 will also be available with a 1.9-liter twin-turbo diesel engine, which is offered in three different variants, rated at 130, 160 and 180 hp respectively. It will also be offered in two trim levels, SE or Aero.
There’s no word yet on how North American models will be spec’d though expect the gas engines to make the cut but probably not the diesels.
Think the $41,400 sticker price for a BMW 335i is bad? Be glad you don’t live in Singapore where the same model will run you $260,000, about what an Italian exotic would retail for in the United States.
Singapore residents who want a private vehicle must pay for a special permit that allows them to keep the car for a decade – the permit alone costs $55,000 USD, as much as a Porsche Boxster would in America. In 2008, the permit cost about $2,000. On top of that, buyers must pay a 150% duty on the vehicle upon importation. Not surprisingly, car ownership rates in Singapore sit at around 15%, compared to 82% in the United States.
Singapore is ruled by an authoritarian regime (famous for outlawing chewing gum in the name of etiquette and cleanliness), and is strongly pushing for residents to adopt mass transit as a practical solution to reduce congestion, and cut down pollution. While Singapore boasts outstanding air quality, it fears that it could become similar neighboring islands like Hong Kong, which has fewer restrictions on vehicle ownership but is riddled with heavily polluted air.
The structures in place leave car ownership as a privilege for the wealthy, and car dealers are now looking to peddle premium brands to the wealthy, since they are largely unaffected by an increase in ownership costs. “The extra $20,000 to S$30,000 on the [new vehicle permit] is nothing when the total car price is $300,000 or more,” one dealer told Bloomberg. No wonder that companies like Lamborghini do well in the tiny Asian country, with a special preview for their upcoming LP-7004 Aventador being held exclusively for that market.
Ferrari head Luca Cordero di Montezemolo denied reports that the company was planning to go public. “There are no current plans (to list the company). Perhaps in three, four or five years. There is no project now. Maybe there never will be,” he told Reuters.
There was brief speculation that Ferrari would be listed on stock exchanges separately from parent company Fiat.
Without a compact luxury car, Infiniti will have a hard time competing in their new European stomping grounds, and let’s face it, a rebadged Nissan Versa ain’t exactly up to the task.
What Infiniti does have is a new alliance with Daimler through parent company Renault-Nissan. Infiniti is about to leverage this relationship big-time with their new front-drive Etheria concept, which will use a Mercedes-derived 4-cylinder direct-injection engine with a turbocharging to deliver 202-horsepower from only 1.8L of displacement. The car will be based off the next generation Renault Megane, but the only styling direction given to us was a vague silhouette of a two-door hatchback. No matter, since we’ll see the car soon enough at the Geneva Auto Show.