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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.
General Motors and PSA Peugeot Citroën inked a deal yesterday that will see the companies partnering to further their interests in Europe.
“This partnership brings tremendous opportunity for our two companies,” said Dan Akerson, GM chairman and CEO. “The alliance synergies, in addition to our independent plans, position GM for long-term sustainable profitability in Europe.”
The companies plan to share vehicle platforms, components and modules and to create a global purchasing joint venture that will improve both groups’ leverage in sourcing goods and services from suppliers by commanding $125 billion in purchasing power.
As part of the deal GM will acquire a seven percent stake in PSA Peugeot Citroën.
“This alliance is a tremendously exciting moment for both groups and this partnership is rich in its development potential. With the strong support of our historical shareholder and the arrival of a new and prestigious shareholder, the whole group is mobilized to reap the full benefit of this agreement,” Philippe Varin, chairman of the managing board of PSA Peugeot Citroën said.
The alliance will initially focus on small and midsize cars, MPVs and crossovers, the first of which is expected to launch in 2016.
Fiat has released pictures of its new 500 “wagon” ahead of the car’s big reveal at the Geneva Motor Show this March. Called the 500L, it’s a replacement product for the infamously ugly Multipla.
The “L” stands for “Large” and helps expand the Fiat 500 range to four models. As for sizing, the 500L measures in at 163-inches long, 70-inches wide and 65-inches high. By comparison, the standard 500 model, the 500L is roughly two feet longer.
Designed as an alternative to traditional B and C segment cars, the 500L will go on sale in Europe in the last quarter of 2012 with a choice of two gasoline engines (TwinAir and a 1.4-liter), as well as a 1.3-liter turbodiesel.
GALLERY: Fiat 500L
Well, there’s good indication that it will at least be heading for ‘South’ America, where automotive tastes tend to run more closely to those across the Atlantic.
The B-Max adopts much of the current Fiesta’s styling, albeit in a taller package. It’s also the first to receive Ford‘s new three-cylinder EcoBoost engine. And with Ford recently announcing the EcoBoost 3 will be offered in North America, it’s not hard to speculate that this is the package it could come wrapped in.
Both engine and B-Max will be assembled at Ford’s plant in Craiova, Romania, though with Ford expected to wind down Fiesta production at its Brazilian plant in Cuantitalan (relying instead on models built in Mexico for that market), there’s a good chance B-Max production might be added there. That would make the idea of a B-Max ending up in our showrooms more feasible.
Further indications that this pint-size MPV could make it here, include the fact that Ford has trademarked the B-Max name with the U.S. Patent Office, along with ‘Easy Access Door System,’ marketing speak for a sliding door setup which, incidentily, was previewed on the B-MAX concept at the Geneva Motor Show back in March. All we can say for now is, watch this space.
[Source: Ford Inside News]
These days Mazda doesn’t have a lot going for it and it’s not often that the automaker makes the headlines. But this story just proves what thinking outside the box can do.
More than five years ago Mazda axed its low-selling minivan and debuted the Mazda5 – a smaller van based on the compact Mazda3 platform. It hasn’t quite caught on here (despite its incredible packaging), but our neighbors to the North love the thing an it’s a popular vehicle in other markets.
Classified as an ‘MPV’ it has started to gather a following and other automakers are taking notice, with Ford recently debuting its own rival, the C-Max.
Now Nissan is getting in on the action, and is set to debut a rival to the mini-minivan some time this year. But rather than reinvent the wheel, the yet-unnamed Nissan will be based off the Mazda5.
According to Mazda the vehicle is planned for the Japanese market and there is no info on if it is planned for North America.
Suzuki has been struggling with its car division in North America, and sales in 2010 were particularly poor. However, in its home market of Japan, the brand does quite well, thanks to tiny run-abouts like this new MR wagon.
The MR wagon fits under the kei-class category in Japan, which in English would mean, ultra sub-compact. There are many benefits to owning such vehicles in Japan, as you get plenty of tax cuts for driving economical vehicles. So like all other kei-class cars, the MR wagon features an engine displacing just 660 cc and three-cylinders.
You can either get a normally aspirated engine that produces 54-hp, or a turbo-charged unit that develops a ‘whopping’ 64-hp. You can also choose between a front-wheel drive model and an all-wheel drive model. However, the only transmission on offer is a CVT automatic.
The new MR wagon order book is now open. Prices start at about $14,000.
Chrysler Corporation will look to introduce a new compact van for either Dodge or Chrysler, with the new model replacing that brand’s current minivan offering. Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Chrysler and Fiat, made the comments to reporters gathered at the North American International Auto Show.
The move will take place by 2013 says Marchionne, with the small MPV set to rival the Mazda5 and newly-released Ford C-Max. If Chrysler gets the small van, then the Town & Country will be cut, while the Grand Caravan will face a similar fate if Dodge gets the new model.
With the Town & Country the stronger seller in the U.S. and the fact that it commands higher prices, the Grand Caravan’s fate would appear numbered.
Like how the C-Max rides on the Focus platform and the Mazda5 on the Mazda3 architecture, the new Chrysler Group model will be based off of an upcoming compact car platform, that will not only be used for the Caliber replacement, but it also expected to be used to build Jeep crossovers, like the next-generation Compass and Patriot.
It’s tied in to the same type of sensor in the key fob that allows for keyless access and allows you to open the liftgate by simply motioning with your foot under the rear bumper. (Genius, we know). To help demonstrate just how easy and effective it is, Ford has released a video highlighting the feature.
If that’s got your interest in the C-Max, then you might also want to know that it seats 7 in a 5+2 configuration, has sliding side doors and can even be had with a 1.6-liter EcoBoost turbocharged 4-cylinder that makes 168-hp and 173 ft-lbs of torque.
GALLERY: 2012 Ford C-Max
Check out the video after the jump:
Ford is betting on the compact vehicle, so much so it plans to offer 10 different models based on its new compact car platform, which underpins the upcoming 2012 Focus. The latest of these is the 2011 Ford C-MAX, which will compete in the MPV segment alongside the Mazda5.
Ford doesn’t call it an MPV, however, but a ‘white space’ vehicle – whatever that means. In Europe this car is actually called the Grand C-MAX, with the regular C-MAX model featuring just five seats.
While MPVs are popular in Europe, they’ve yet to catch on here, despite clever packaging that delivers excellent fuel economy, plenty of passenger and cargo room and a drive quality that’s engaging.
As a 5+2 seater the C-MAX has one more seat than the Mazda, with a second row that includes a center seat which folds out from one of the side seats. Total cargo room is rated at 70.2 cubic feet.
With a standard 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine making 168-hp and 167 ft-lbs of torque, Ford will easily achieve best-in-class fuel economy thanks to an optional EcoBoost 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, which also boasts 168-hp as well as 173 ft-lbs of torque that’s available from just 1500 rpm. On premium fuel the EcoBoost motor makes 180-hp. Also helping in the fuel economy department is a six-speed automatic transmission and electric power steering.
Interested? But you haven’t even heard the best part. Always looking for innovative solutions to make life easier, even items like SYNC and the new MyFord Touch have nothing on the industry-first hands-free liftgate. That’s right, thanks to sensors in the bumper, as long as you have the keys in your pocket, just approach the vehicle, wave your foot under the car and the rear hatch opens up. (Why has no one thought of this before?)
Set to debut at the Detroit Auto Show in January, Ford has yet to release all the details on the C-MAX, but we can all but guarantee the EcoBoost model will cost a premium and items like the hands-free liftgate are certain to only be available on top trim models with a keyless access system and push-button ignition.
Check back for complete Detroit Auto Show coverage starting January 10th.
GALLERY: 2011 Ford C-MAX
Official release after the jump:
Kia appears to have quietly killed-off its Rondo MPV in response to a continued slide in sales. Visitors to the Rondo page on Kia’s U.S. website are greeted with the news, “Thank you for inquiring about the Rondo. As the saying goes, ‘all good things must come to an end’ But with endings, come new beginnings…” Below that message is an image of the new 2011 Kia Sportage, directing customers that that page where they can check out the stylish new compact crossover.
The Rondo’s demise was stumbled upon by the team at Autoblog, who then contacted Kia and received this response. “Kia has not yet decided on a 2011 model, but the 2010 is still available in dealerships.”
Kia managed to move just 14,206 Rondos last year, a 50 percent drop from 2008 when the company sold 28,645 units. The Rondo would seem to be the latest casualty in the Kia lineup with the Korean automaker recently dropping the Borego full size SUV.
This move also looks to be a part of a larger product switch from Kia away from old models and old designs towards fresh and exciting new products. Unfortunately for those few looking at a Rondo, the Sportage simply doesn’t offer the same utility.
Of note, Kia Canada isn’t following suit with any message on its website, suggesting the Rondo will continue on there. This isn’t surprising as sales of MPVs like the Rondo and Mazda5 are strong in Canada.
[Source: Kia via AutoBlog]
With the release of a new model, automakers generally see a big surge in sales. Mazda may be counting on that, or perhaps they’ve got a few tricks planned, because the company has announced it intends to sell as many as 30,000 Mazda5 models next year. Last year Mazda sold just 18,500 units of the MPV (commonly called a minivan), a 16 percent drop-off from 2008.
Mazda introduced the second-generation Mazda5 at the Geneva Auto Show earlier this year, and while Mazda exec Thomas Pixton has said that the car’s sporty driving dynamics and improved fuel economy will attract buyers, it’s not clear if the car will get the same 2.0-liter direct-injection 4-cylinder (with Mazda’s start-stop system) offered in Europe.
Mazda has been at the forefront of the MPV segment, competing only with the Kia Rondo. That, however, will soon change with Ford’s introduction of the Grand C-Max. Chevy also has it’s new Orlando MPV but has decided to not sell it in the U.S., while Hyundai is also rumored to be thinking about the MPV segment.
With increased competition, Mazda is also certain to put some added marketing budget behind the Mazda5, which should help it reach the 30,000 unit mark.
The GMC Granite has been given the green light for production. No… wait… it hasn’t. According to a report by Motor Trend, a source at GM announced that the funky Scion xB-like urban MPV based on the Chevy Orlando will get the go ahead. After publishing the report, GM contacted MT to inform them that the production light is not green, but more yellow – if not downright red.
Did MT just jump the gun? Or perhaps someone at the General slipped up and prematurely announce this new model for production long before it is ready. After all, GM hasn’t even launched the Chevy Orlando yet and the Granite is sure to come after it’s Chevy brother.
Regardless, we have to think that after the overwhelmingly positive reaction the Granite received at this year’s Detroit Auto Show, well see it in dealerships before long and unlike the Orlando, the Granite will most certainly be sold in America.
GALLERY: GMC Granite
[Source: Motor Trend]
Hyundai is preparing to introduce yet another new model to its growing lineup and this time the car in question is an MPV (multi purpose vehicle). Built for the European market, a prototype has been spied testing in the Swiss Alps. The new MPV is expected to be based on the HED-5 i-Mode concept that debuted at the 2008 Geneva Auto Show.
Based on the same platform as the i30 (the Elantra Touring here in North America), the new MPV is designed as a five-seater with two extra seats in the trunk areas for occasional use. Power is expected to come from either a 1.7-liter diesel or a new 1.6-liter direct-injection gasoline engine, slated to debut in the upcoming Veloster. Styling will mimic Hyundai’s new fluidic design language.
Designed to compete against the Ford C-Max in Europe, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Hyundai deliver a stretched version of this vehicle in the coming years for the U.S. market. After all, Ford is about ready to do just that with its Grand C-Max, while Mazda already owns that segment with the Mazda5.
The MINI brand looks to expand in a big way – and not just in numbers either. While several new models are set to debut over the next few years, the biggest news might just be an even bigger model. According to a report by the notoriously speculative AutoExpress, MINI plans to introduce a larger 7-seat version of its new crossover. The Countryman already caused quite a stir, being the first four-door MINI and the first MINI to offer all-wheel drive.
According to AE’s sources, the new model would compete against models like the Nissan Qashqai and VW Touran (neither of which are offered in North America). Interestingly, the Touran is more of an MPV than a crossover and so perhaps a larger MINI would take that form.
Adding a measure of credibility to the report s a quote from MINI brand manager Dr Wolfgang Armbrecht, who says the Countryman’s wheelbase is already capable of being stretched.
MINI already plans to introduce both Coupe and Roadster models in the coming hears and more recently we’ve heard reports that the Countryman-based Beachcomber Concept has been given the green light for production.
In China Buick sells several models we don’t get here, including the GL8 van. Recently, a replacement for the current GL8 was spotted camoed-up and testing in China, looking a lot like the Buick Business Concept first shown at the Shanghai Auto Show last year.
The current GL8 is based off the tremendously old Pontiac Trans Sport and so it’s nice to see that Buick is planning to move significantly forward with the next generation of this minivan/mpv. With Buick established as a full luxury brand in China, the GL8 can almost be considered to be the Buick version of the Mercedes R-Class here.
It’s unclear if the GL8 badge will stay intact when Buick launches the production model, but based on the concept we do expect to be impressed with the overall package.
Several years ago GM got out of the minivan business in North America and has made no hint that it ever intends to get back into it here – even cutting the Chevy Orlando from its U.S. product lineup. Still, a new GL8 might be just the thing to rival Ford’s Flex – especially with AWD and GM’s rumored twin-turbo V6.
GALLERY: Buick Business Concept
Reports of a Prius MPV model aren’t new, but now comes word that the car will be call the Prius Alpha. Set to go on sale next March, the seven-seat Prius will ride on a stretched version of the current Prius platform that is almost a foot longer. The car was first previewed in the Prius Hybrid X Concept (above).
Power will come from the same 1.8-liter hybrid setup used in the standard third-generation Prius, although there’s the possibility that Toyota could opt to use a mode advanced lithium-ion battery pack. If that does happen, expect even more impressive fuel economy. Otherwise the slightly taller and heavier Prius Alpha will be just a little less efficient.
Toyota has announced it intends to expand the Prius name into a whole line of standalone hybrid models, which is also likely to include a smaller Prius model based on the FT-CH Concept.
Kia as just announced its fourth special edition Soul model, the Ghost Soul. Like the previous three special edition models, the changes aren’t drastic and include a special aerodynamics kit, a new rear spoiler, different front fender vents, special 18-inch wheels and some chrome detailing. There’s also a light gray-blue exterior and gray side-stripe. Interior upgrades include a leather steering wheel and shift knob along with heated, leather front seats.
The Ghost Soul is based on the Soul+ model and also gets Kia’s Audio Upgrade Package including a center speaker, subwoofer and separate amplifier.
Pricing is set at $19,4901 with a five-speed manual transmission.
GALLERY: Kia Ghost Soul
Official release after the jump:
After having just announced a C-Max hybrid and plug-in hybrid for the European market, Ford has now confirmed a seven-seat Grand C-Max for North America. Based off the new Focus platform, the Grand C-Max will compete in an emerging segment currently dominated by the Mazda5.
Ford, which owned the majority of Mazda up until about a year ago has since sold off much of its stake in the Japanese automaker, but realized the potential of the Mazda5 model in offering 4-cylinder fuel economy with most of the functionality of a minivan – including sliding rear doors.
Interestingly, General Motors doesn’t seem to have much faith in the MPV market, announcing recently that it would not bring its Chevy Orlando model to the U.S. (although it will go on sale North of the border in Canada, where the Mazda5 is a hit).
We expect the Grand C-Max to bow in 2011 as a 2012 model, with the choice of either a direct-injection 2.0-liter 4-cylinder or For’s new EcoBoost 2.0-liter.
GALLERY: Ford Grand C-Max
Official release after the jump:
Toyota will launch a Prius minivan next year, powered by advanced lithium-ion battery technology. News comes from Japan’s Nieeki business daily via Reuters and is the latest report indicating the direction of Toyota’s plan to expand the Prius name into a whole lineup of vehicles.
The Prius van (or more likely an MPV similar to a Matrix or Mazda5) would be priced competitively to the current Prius and would offer improved fuel economy thanks to the new battery technology. The new model would include three rows with seating for 5 to 7 people.
The plan to produce of a hybrid van or hybrid MPV comes as no surprise as we reported last week that Chevrolet will also debut a version of the upcoming Chevy Orlando using the Chevy Volt’s Voltec powertrain. The Volt MPV is expected to debut in concept form later this month at the Beijing Auto Show.
Chevrolet will unveil a new Orlando-based concept car at the Beijing Auto Show, powered by an adapted version of the powerplant found in the Chevy Volt. The team at GMInsideNews has provided us with a patent sketch for the vehicle, which was filed in August of 2009, but made available just yesterday. Associated with the sketch is GM designer Bob Boniface, the lead designer for the Volt.
The vehicle also appears to be the very same model that GM leaked in a YouTube video last year. Seen below, the Orlando-based model is smaller than the Orlando, but most certainly displays Volt-like styling.
We’ll be sure to bring you more when Chevrolet officially unveils this concept in Beijing later this month.
GALLERY: Chevy Orlando Voltec Concept
Mazda unveiled the second generation Mazda5 at the 2010 Geneva Auto Show.
The Mazda5 gets a slight facelift with elements Mazda’s “Nagare Flow” design. The new Mazda5 might even look especially happier and smilier than usual.
Under the hood is a 2.0L direct injection gasoline engine with Mazda’s i-Stop system. According to Mazda, the new engine has 15% lower CO2 emissions than the previous 2.0L powerplant. The Mazda5 will also be available with a 1.8L gasoline engine with six speed manual transmission.
Mazda pretty much owns the MPV market on this side of the Atlantic, but it faces stiffer competition in Europe and is about to get more rivals in North America from models like the Ford C-Max and Chevy Orlando. So to stay ahead of the competition, the Japanese automaker will debut an all-new second generation Mazda5 model (called the Premacy in some markets) at the Geneva Auto Show in March.
Mazda gave the 5 a facelift in 2008 and while this model looks only like a cosmetic tweak (like the new Mazda3) there’s more to it than that. In Europe the new 5 will be offered with either a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder or a 2.o-liter 4-cylinder with direct-injection and Mazda’s i-stop start-stop technology, which will reduce emissions by 15 percent. Both engines will come with a 6-speed manual transmission as standard.
As for the aesthetic changes, they include some swoopy lines on the side of the car, inspired by Mazda’s recent concepts like the Nagare and Furai. In addition, it’s hard to miss the aggressive (or, as some might, say, excessively happy) front end.
Once it arrives in North America, we expect to find the company’s 167-hp 2.5-liter engine under the hood, most likely mated to a six-speed manual transmission as standard.
GALLERY: 2011 Mazda5
Official release after the jump:
GMC introduced its new Granite concept model at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show, presenting a “urban utility vehicle” with a boxiness rivaling the Scion xB.
“Granite was conceived as a new type of vehicle from GMC – one that could stretch people’s ideas of what a GMC can be,” said Lisa Hutchinson, product marketing director for GMC. “We call it an ‘urban utility vehicle’ and our goal was redefining what the GMC name could mean to a new generation of customers looking for both bold design and functionality.”
If brought to market, the Granite would be the smallest GMC ever produced. With a wheelbase of 103.6 inches, the Granite is comparable to the Chevy Cobalt, and at a total length of 161.3 inches, the Granite would be more than a foot shorter.
Despite its small size, the Granite boasts a generous amount of cargo space. The doors are hinged to open like French doors and the lack of a pillar between front and rear doors makes it easier for passengers and cargo to be loaded. The passenger and seats fold and flip up towards the center console for additional space. According to GMC, the passenger seat can be folded to fit a mountain bike with both wheels still attached.
Powering the Granite is a turbo-charged 1.4L four-cylinder engine matched with a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. Instead of a traditional shift handle, the Granite uses a knob that rotates with distinct clicks like a torque wrench.
Gallery: GMC Granite Concept
Official release after the jump:
Urban Utility Concept foreshadows GMC Granite MPV
GMC has just released a teaser image of what it is calling the Urban Utility Concept. Set to be unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show next week, word has already slipped out that this new model will see production under the name: GMC Granite.
According to the GM’s TheLAB website, the UUC is a new breed of truck, “that’s as efficient as it is chic, innovative as it is functional.” Previous reports have already stated that this new concept will be based on the Chevy Orlando MPV but target a the youth-market, competing with vehicles like the Scion xB, Kia Soul and Nissan Cube.
GMC echoes these comments in a statement saying that this new concept has plenty of flexible and functional space in a “urban-box” design.
We’ll bring you full coverage on the GMC Granite when its unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show next week.
GALLERY: GMC Urban Utility Concept