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 car has long been a tool of freedom. It allows an individual to reach any destination at anytime in whatever fashion desired. It’s a rite of passage and a sign of maturity and adulthood. So it’s no surprise, automakers have long directed its focus to the youngest demographic in hopes to instill brand loyalty as soon as possible.However, a new and unexpected opposition is endangering the market– the rising relevance and popularity of the smartphone.
Statistics from the Transportation Department noted that in 1978, 50 percent of 16-year-olds in the United States obtained their first driver’s license. By 2008, the number dropped to only 30 percent. According to Gartner’s lead automotive analyst, Thilo Koslowski, says, “Mobile devices, gadgets and the Internet are becoming must-have lifestyle products that convey status. In that sense these devices offer a degree of freedom and social reach that previously only the automobile offered.” As a matter of fact, Koslowski went as far as saying, “The iPhone is the Ford Mustang of today.”
Sheryl Connelly, Ford Motor Company’s manager of global consumer trends and futuring, continued, “The car used to be the signal of adulthood, of freedom… Now the signal into adulthood for teenagers is the smartphone.”
Connelly explained that driving a car may limit the valuable time a teenager could have used to text their friends our update their statuses. While public transportation is slower, it will still provide teenagers time to engage friends on their mobile device. Yet, Ford is undeterred. K. Venkatesh Prasad, Ford’s senior technical leader of open innovation, responded with, “We are not looking at this to ask how we can get teens to buy a car versus an iPhone. Instead, the car has to become more than just a car. It has to become an experience.”
What that means for Ford is to create cars that can better mesh with a teenager or a young adult’s life by making them more like smartphones– cars that could automatically check in on FourSquare when it arrives at a trendy hangout spot, read text messages aloud, and built in cameras to take profile pictures and videos for the passengers so that they can upload their experiences onto Facebook or YouTube. Shared music networks can be implemented on inboard infotainment systems as well.
Unfortunately, it seems as if sheer driving pleasure and the significance of mobility has been lost to the new generation. A scary thought, but soon a car could even navigate itself so that the teenager could give social networking its undivided attention.
[Source: New York Times]
Probably the best automotive app ever created, the only complaint we have is it should have been invented sooner. After making an account, drivers can post their favorite stretches of roads or routes to the app’s internal Google Maps feature. Posted routes can be viewed by other users and they can visit these roads and rate them on a scale from 1 to 5.
While this sounds like the day-trip cousin to yelp.com, MINI Motoring app comes with a twist. Users get virtual points for their activity on the app. Non-MINI owners that use the app can receive digital items such as smartphone wallpapers and physical promo items are in the cards as well. MINI owners can get access to their MINI Financial Services lease or loan accounts and get points through paying their bills through the app as well.
The app is free and available at the Apple App Store and the Android Marketplace now.
[source: Motor Trend]
Buick and GMC understand the importance of social networking and have set up online vehicle-shopping experiences that are socially engaging, letting site visitors build, save and share their configured vehicles.
This new type of connectivity enables customers to share with their Facebook friends who can post comments or “like” their customized selections. Both Buick and GMC are among the first automakers to provide customers the opportunity to deepen and personalize the shopping experience.
“We recognize that car buyers are not only looking for product information when shopping for their next car or truck but also use feedback from friends and family to help narrow down their selection,” said John Schwegman, U.S. vice president of GMC Marketing.
A study conducted by Bereford Research that found approximately half of respondents consider information shared on their social networks when making a purchase decision, and that proportion was much higher among users 18-24 with 65 percent doing so. “By offering a connection between our web sites and Facebook, we help our customers get the feedback they want and need to make vehicle purchase decisions,” said Tony DiSalle, U.S. vice president of Buick Marketing.
The Supreme Court will rule on whether or not law enforcement officers need a warrant in order to track a suspect’s vehicle with a GPS device.
This case is based on Antoine Jones, whose vehicle was being tracked for a month without his consent or consent from the justice department. The police are arguing that tracking should not require a warrant because the location of a vehicle on public streets is public knowledge. The others are arguing that this type of surveillance is an unjust invasion of privacy. However, Jones was caught selling cocaine when his vehicle was being monitored.
Lower courts have agreed with Jones’ attorneys regarding privacy, however there is a precedent for allowing evidence to be obtained through warrantless GPS tracking.
Any car owner that has worked on their own vehicle knows what a Haynes manual is. The company has helped educate people working on their own cars for over fifty years. Now Haynes has stepped up to enter the digital age by uploading the manuals on the internet.
The Haynes Group took over Vivid Holding BV three years ago, a company specializing in digital publishing, that will help publish the manuals online. Haynes will upload its top 50 manuals by subscription on the Internet.
The online version will still include the print form, but the digital version will use audio and video to further improve instructions. The online version will be much easier to understand when compared to a print copy made of black and white images. Haynes hopes to make DIY car instruction much easier and also appeal to the internet generation.
Haynes has not put the guides online yet, but will do so soon.
[Source: Car Tech Blog]
Sales for the Fiat 500 are picking up after a slow start in the US market. The Mexican built US version was off to a slow start after only selling 3,141 units through the end of May, but the cute Italian car is gaining momentum. Chrysler has just 70 Fiat dealerships nationwide however there are plans to open another 60 by the end of the year, which should help move more units.
The original Fiat 500 was introduced in July 1957 and was then called the ”cinquecento”. Now in North America, Fiat is planning on launching a national marketing campaign for the new model on the Fourth of July, which will hopefully improve the the cars sales figures even more.
Three different trim levels are available including the Pop, Sport and Lounge models. The Pop base model retails for $15,500 which comes with power windows/ locks, power heated mirrors, air conditioning, remote keyless entry, cruise control and 7 airbags. The Sport model retails for $17,500 and comes with stiffer springs and shocks, 16-inch aluminium wheels, a more performance oriented exhaust, a Bose sounds system, leather wrapped steering wheel and hands free voice controls. The Lounge model retails for $19,500 and features a 6-speed automatic transmission and higher grade interior trim.
The 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine produces 100-hp and 98 lb-ft of torque. The 500 is rated at 30-mpg in the city and 38-mpg on the highway for a 33-mpg combined number.
[Source: USA Today]
Wanna make some extra dough on the side? Illinois is deciding whether to allow advertising space on its state license plates. If approved, this would allow corporate sponsors to put their business logos on the plates, which would be offered to drives at a lower price. A vote last month decided that the secretary of state should look at the pros and cons of corporate plates. Sen. John Mulroe, D-Chicago believes corporate plates will be a great way to bring in money without raising taxes.
Corporate plates have already been approved in Texas, and produced by a firm called My Plates. Companies advertising through these plates include Re/Max real estate and Mighty Fine Burgers. 489 plates have been sold in Texas since Nov 2009 and $51,805 has already been raised for the state’s general revenue fund, according to a My Plates spokeswoman.
The corporate plates may not be approved in Illinois, because there are already 70 specialty plates available ranging from promoting veterans and colleges to nonprofit organizations.
[Source: Chicago Tribune]
Apple has officially rejected any inclusion of DUI checkpoints in its iOS apps. In this week’s Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple updated its app store to prohibit applications informing users of DUI checkpoints.
This recent update was a result of a group of U.S Senators sending numerous letters of concern to Apple, Google, and RIM, asking the smartphone companies to remove and disable all apps that would inform users of DUI checkpoints.
Section 22.8 states:
Apps which contain DUI checkpoints that are not published by law enforcement agencies, or encourage and enable drunk driving, will be rejected.
Developers may be able to remove the DUI functionality from their apps, however most of the programs that identify law enforcement activity pertaining to checkpoints and speed traps are crowd-sourced, which means users submit the checkpoints themselves without app developers knowing what they’re identifying.
A poll has just been released asking Americans to rate their likelihood of making certain lifestyle changes based on different hypothetical gas prices. 57 percent of respondents refused to consider buying an “electric car that you could only drive for a limited number of miles at one time” no matter how high gas prices go.
Instead, they are more willing to buy a more fuel-efficient one if gas prices rise to the $5-per-gallon range. Only 12% say at that price, they would be willing to buy such a car that they could drive only a limited number of miles at one time.
High-income Americans are about twice as likely as those with low incomes to admit they would purchase an electric car if gas prices rose to the $5 range. Interestingly, no matter whether respondents view higher prices as temporary or permanent, or the degree of financial difficulty high gas prices are causing them, electric care are as equally unpopular as high gas prices.
One issue with volatile gas prices is that most Americans cannot respond immediately to them by significantly adjusting their lifestyles. However, change can be made over time. By asking Americans at what price they might react in a potentially significant way, an understanding into consumer price sensitivity(price elasticity) and the resulting future consumer behaviours can be studied.
Predictions have been made that gas prices will reach $4.52 a gallon this year. Even with this expensive prediction, most Americans seem unwilling and/or unable to significantly change their overall lifestyles. Most Americans suggest this will continue to be the case even if fas prices stay high or climb even more. To combat this expense, Americans will cut back in other areas by spending less on expenses like retail and household items, significantly affecting the US economy.
Many auto enthusiasts collect memorabilia, whether it be model cars, old signs, license plates, coffee tables made from NASCAR tires or even scrap cars turned into couches. This kind of stuff is the perfect addition to those with a classic in their garage and gasoline in their veins. But how about wearing it? Well besides the obvious t-shirts and jackets, you can how have an auto inspired watch!
Equipe Watches now produces 15 different items with a Detroit automotive theme. Each of these watches even has their own appropriate name, ranging from Chassis, to Hemi to Octane. Features such as simulated tire straps, and faces that ape instrument clusters are just the finishing touches. One particular watch, the XXL (shown here) pays homage to the dashboard on big 1960s sleds like Imperials and Lincoln Continentals with a full width instrument panel and steering wheel. According to Equipe founder Jeff Freeman, “we wanted to introduce a watch collection that was authentically Detroit – one that pays homage to the great cars of yesterday and modern race cars of today.”
Along with a bunch of different styles, Equipe’s line of automotive watches are also designed to cater to different budgets as well, prices at post time ranged from $299 to $999.
You can do your part to wipe out breast cancer with AutoTex PINK windshield wiper blades.
Now available for purchase on Amazon.com, the AutoTex PINK blades are working to “Wipe Out Breast Cancer” by donating part of its proceeds to support those affected by breast cancer and to help fund ongoing research.
“We are so excited to be able to offer our windshield wiper blades on Amazon.com,” said Paula Lombard, WEXCO president and co-founder of AutoTex PINK. “AutoTex PINK is committed to doing our part to help the cause. Having our wiper blades available on Amazon.com will be a big boost to meeting our goal of helping fund continuing research that will hopefully one day eliminate this disease.”
One of the most common cancers to afflict women, breast cancer comes in second only to skin cancer. And since AutoTex PINK is a woman-owned company, they decided to take action by partnering with the National Breast Cancer Research Foundation in the United States and the Breast Cancer Society of Canada.
“The additional exposure of having AutoTex PINK available on Amazon.com will be a great help in getting the word out,” said Lombard. “We have a great product that supports a tremendous cause, now with the help of Amazon.com we can take the message to more people.”
You can help wipe out breast cancer and water off your windshield with these high-quality blades, which come in a standard black and are adorned with a small pink ribbon that is synonymous with breast cancer awareness and research. They’re easy to install, will fit 98 percent of vehicles and are made from natural molded rubber for longer life. You can buy them by clicking here – there are different sizes to choose from, so make sure to get the right size for your vehicle.
It’s been delayed more times than a mid-east peace agreement, and until now it was looking just as unlikely. That’s right, we’re talking about Sony’s Gran Turismo 5 video game. At a press conference held yesterday at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, Sony confirmed that GT5 will hit shelves on November 2.
The game will feature 950 vehicles, NASCAR racers, exotics like the new Mercedes SLS AMG and its even touted to have 3D graphics.
[Source: USA Today]
See the GT5 trailer after the jump:
You may not be able to afford Ferrari’s Scuderia Spider 16M roadster, but you can own a little piece of the luxury with the company’s new limited edition Ferrari 16 M Scuderia Spider surfboard.
Just like the car, the 16 M Scuderia Spider surfboard is limited to a run of 499. Made from poliurethan with glass fiber and resin and adorned with the 16 M Scuderia Spider graphic design, this board measures in at 7.2 feet and comes complete with a customized bag with shoulder strap and carbon fiber covered fins. It also features wooden stringer (the backbone of the surfboard), which makes up the vertical line along the board – everything about this handshaped surfboard oozes quality and precision.
It’s also a lot cheaper than its automotive counterpart too – it’ll cost you about $1,870. But if you’re one of those people who likes to everything Ferrari, this longboard is an essential to your collection.
Ferrari says it is an all-round board and good for beginners, so watch for it on the waves this summer. You can order in at Ferrari’s online store, but hurry before they’re all gone!
[Source: Born Rich]
It’s probably hard to believe for some, but Ford‘s ‘other’ legendary nameplate, Thunderbird, celebrates it 55th anniversary this year. When it was first introduced, the two-seat, personal luxury car was a smash hit and arguably saved Chevy’s Corvette from distinction. Although the T-Bird morphed into a four-seater for 1958 and became increasingly larger and more ostentatious through the 1960s and early 1970s, it always sold respectably.
The T-bird was downsized in the late 1970s, selling in record numbers – a few years later it was re-defined as a truly modern GT, winning approval from the press and public alike. Although discontinued in 1997, the car was re-born as a modern interpretation of the original two-seater for a brief period this past decade. The name is currently in limbo once again, but while the T-bird might not register much with mainstream car shoppers today, as far as classic auto enthusiasts are concerned, it remains a firm favorite.
In honor of the car’s 55th birthday, a special show will be held at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan on June 26th. Already, T-birds from 25 different states and Canada have registered for the event, which will include breakfast at the Ford Estate, a drive on the Ford test track, a display in front of the Ford Motor Company Headquarters and a drive to Greenfield Village and dinner at the pavilion. The event will be hosted by the Water Wonderland Thunderbird Club, the American Road Thunderbird Club and the Thunderbirdnest.com. If you have even the slightest bit of interest in these cars, you owe it yourself to attend this shindig. For information call Show Chairman Paul Nichols at 313-561-8895 or visit www.tbird55.com.
[Source: Old Cars Weekly]
RM Auctions’ inaugural Sporting Classics of Monaco, held over the Weekend of May 1-2, proved a resounding success. Held at the Grimaldi Forum, within the confines of the tiny principality, the auction drew €33,235,917 ($45,101,139) in total sales, with 88 of the 105 historical vehicles finding new owners (an 86 percent sell-through rate). Five of those cars fetched prices of over €2,000,000 each.
The top selling automobile of the auction, was a super rare 1962 Ferrari 400 Superamerica short wheelbase cabriolet with bodywork by Pininfarina, which achieved a new record for a Superamerica – selling for €2,800,000 ($3,799,600), significantly more than it’s original sale estimate of €2,450,000.
Additional sales that surpassed the two million euro mark included a highly desirable 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Gran Turismo, selling for €2,632,000 ($3,571,624); a rare 1960 Maserati Tipo 61 ‘Birdcage’, that set a new world record for a Birdcage, by selling at €2,464,000 ($3,343,648); plus the ex-Harrah 1957 Ferrari 250 GT LWB Tour de France, that sold for €2,352,000 ($3,191,664) and a stunning 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spyder, that brought in €2,072,000 ($2,811,704).
Other notable auction results included a stunning 1938 Delahaye 135 MS Competition Cabriolet that sold for €1,792,000 ($2,431,744); plus a significant 1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom II “Special Town Car” by Brewster, the only one of it’s kind to retain its original coachwork. The Rolls sold for €1,456,000 ($1,975,792). Further high profile sales included a rare alloy-bodied 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB/6C Berlinetta, that went for €784,000 ($1,063,888); a fully-restored 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 Berlinetta, that gaveled for €767,200 ($1,041,090); plus a matching-numbers 1930 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Zagato Spider, that fetched an impressive €879,200 ($1,193,074) and a genuine 1963 Shelby 289 Cobra Roadster Le Mans racer, that brought in €744,800 ($1,010,694).
The sale’s cover car, the 1937 BMW 328 MM ‘Buegelfalte’ (above), considered to be one of the world’s most significant pre-war sports race cars, exchanged hands within less than 24 hours of the sale’s conclusion for a confidential sum and was therefore not included in the final sale results. However, the Buegelfalte had reached a high bid of €4,300,000 ($5,835,100) prior to its final sale and, added to the final auction results, it helped result in the most successful collector auction in history.
Besides the record sales for RM, there were some interesting observations at Sporting Classics. For example, many top bids were registered by telephone from 33 different countries and first time bidders represented 28 percent of the total number of registered entries. A sign of things to come? Perhaps. But such a high proportion of new buyers, along with the high sales tallies, indicates that the interest in blue chip classic and collectible cars remains healthy, even in the midst of slow economic growth.
[Source: RM Auctions]