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.
Recently unveiled for Europe, the Opel Cascada is headed to America suggest sources inside the company, likely badged as a Buick.
From the Regal to the Verano, several of the new models in Buick’s revitalized lineup owe their origins to GM’s European operations where they were first engineered under the automaker’s Opel division. That could happen once again with the new Vauxhall Cascada a possible look at a future Buick convertible.
Opel is now the first automaker to road-test a fully integrated matrix light in its prototype vehicles. Its new LED light matrix technology is designed to make night time driving safer by using high beams in standard driving mode.
While that may sound annoying to the other drivers on the road, the light matrix is designed to keep the beam glare free, automatically adapting it to the traffic situation. Essentially the LED light matrix can adjust more rapidly to the traffic situation than any other solution that relies on the driver, or is based on mechanical components.
By working in combination with the front camera, the matrix light will adjust the second the sensors from the camera detect light sources from oncoming or proceeding traffic. The area in front of the vehicle will be completely dimmed while the rest of the road will remain brightly illuminated. This help ensures that drivers in front of the light matrix aren’t pestered, but other non-illuminated obstacles remain well lit.
Each of the two matrix headlights consists of four light segments. Behind each segment, there are four different light sources that can be switched on or off individually, giving it 16 possible combinations per headlight. In total, there are 256 different light settings that will change and adjust without the driver noticing.
Opel plans to implement the LED lighting matrix in its vehicles over the next few years.
Watch a video of it in action after the break.
When Opel/Vauxhall first announced that its Ampera plug-in hybrid electric vehicle would participate in the 13th International Monte Carlo Rally for alternative energy vehicles, it made a point to challenge the Tesla Roadster, which won the previous two years.
Completing the racing stages from Annecy-le-Vieux to Monte Carlo from March 22 through 25, the Opel Ampera of Bernard Darniche and Joseph Lambert finished in first place, winning the Ampera’s inaugural Monte Carlo Rally. Following the leading Ampera, three more crossed the line to finish in the top 10.
A total of 130 competitors from 30 manufacturers took part in the Monte Carlo Rally, including a total of seven Amperas, the Renault Fluence Z.E., Tesla Roadster, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Volkswagen Up!, and Peugeot Ion. A test of endurance for alternative propulsion, teams were judged based on energy usage at a steady speed via a ratio formula that accounted for vehicle weight, CO2 emission, energy density of the fuel and its consumption.
According to French rally co-pilot Joseph Lambert, “The sophisticated technology of the Ampera was always reliable and enabled our tremendous success.”
“The Ampera’s success in this versatility contest under very challenging conditions proves its impressive balance between durability and fuel efficiency. This underscores our leadership role in the field of alternative propulsion,” Vauxhall/Opel director of E-mobility Enno Fuchs said.
GALLERY: Monte Carlo Rally Opel Ampera
But it appears that GM executives can let out a sigh of relief, as the European counterpart, the Opel Ampera, has broken the 7,000 order mark and is nearly sold out until year’s end in Europe. The Ampera was recently named European Car of the Year which was no huge surprise considering the Nissan Leaf took the honor in 2011.
“We are extremely pleased with the continuing demand for our Ampera,” said Enno Fuchs, Opel’s e-mobility launch director. “This news shows us that our sales target of 10,000 units for 2012 is well within reach.”
What’s interesting now is how quickly Opel will be able to fulfill those orders considering GM shut down production for five weeks. The automaker began delivering Amperas to customers in February and according to Opel, deliveries are “going according to plan.” Interestingly enough, many of the Europeans purchasing the Ampera are switching from luxury brands such as BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz stating that the Ampera’s “cutting-edge technology” is what’s enticing.
[Source: Plug In Cars]
Entering the Monte Carlo Rally for Alternative Energy Vehicles, the six Amperas will race against 150 other green cars in a series of stages starting March 22 from Annecy-le-Vieux, to Clermont-Ferrand, Luganu, and finally finishing three days later at Monaco.
Regulations for this competition dictates that a car must emit less than 115g/km of CO2 in order to participate. While not as exciting as the WRC event, the Alternative Energy competition can be just as challenging to tackle. The goal is to cover the race distance, maintain a constant speed, all while using as little energy as possible.
The Tesla Roadster emerged victorious at the Monte Carlo rally twice in a row. Intent on giving Tesla a run for its money, the Opel Ampera features an electric motor that drives the wheels and a conventional gasoline engine that kicks in to generate electricity once the battery depletes. The Ampera’s system is prepared to deliver 150 hp and 273 lb.-ft. of instant torque, good for a 0-62 mph time of approximately 9 seconds and a top speed of 100 mph.
German automaker Opel revealed the specifications and pricing on its hot new OPC today which has us hoping it might, in some form, make it to the U.S. market.
That might seem like a pipe dream, but the GM-owned company already has its hands in the American market by way of the Buick Regal, which since 2009 has essentially been, well, a re-badged Opel. The 2.0-liter turbocharged powerplant in the OPC packs 277 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque in a stylish body that could probably have a home in our sport compact market. The Opel OPC rungs from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in six seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph.
Riding on a FlexRide chassis, Opel incorporated a mechanical limited-slip differential and high performance struts (HiPerStruts) for the front-wheel drive sports car. Two driving modes are available: Sport and OPC. On the inside, Opel outfits the OPC interior with race seats, incorporating weight-saving material seen for the first time in a production vehicle. In total, each seat weighs 45 percent less than a conventional one and still boasts up to 18 different configurations.
The OPC will launch in Germany this spring with a starting price of around $44,890 (€34,250) including value-added tax.
If the performance parts aren’t enough to pique interest, it might be worth nothing that the Astra OPC recently endured a 6,213-mile test on the Nürburgring which equates to 111,846 miles in a normal driving environment. You can watch a video of the car below.
GALLERY: Opel Astra OPC
Opel and Vauxhall have announced the lineup of debuts for the upcoming 2012 Geneva Motor Show, with the highly-anticipated Astra OPC/VXR headlining the booth.
The aggressively designed Astra OPC/VXR will be powered by a turbocharged 2.0L powerplant with 277-hp and 295 lb-ft of torque and will also sport High Performance Struts (HiPerStruts), a FlexRide chassis, and lightweight bucket seats in the interior.
Next on Opel’s list will be its new Mokka crossover which is based on the Buick Encore. It will be released with three different engine choices available, a standard gas 1.6L with 113-hp, a turbocharged 1.4L with 138-hp and a 1.7L CDTI diesel with 128-hp. Front-wheel drive will be standard on the new Mokka, but all-wheel drive will be an option. Opel also mentioned in their release that all Mokka models will come with Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control (TC), Hill Start Assist (HSA), and Hill Descent Control (HDC) as standard.
The Insignia BiTurbo was also announced as a debut, featuring a 2.0L twin-turbo diesel engine with 192-hp and 295 lb-ft of torque.
Not exactly automotive related, but Opel and Vauxhall will also show off a RAD e electric bike concept. They described it as the “first e bike to be built around automotive construction and production principles.” The RAD e electric bike will show off a 250-watt motor that can give it an electric-assisted range of 37-90 miles.
Opel will also have refreshed variants of their Corsa, Meriva, and Astra at the show including their Corsa Kaleidoscope edition, a Meriva 1.4 LPG Turbo ecoFLEX model and an Astra 1.4 LPG Turbo ecoFLEX model.
GALLERY: Opel / Vauxhall Geneva Lineup Preview
In 1989, Rick Moranis played a nerdy dad who accidentally downsized his children to an insect scale in Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. He probably wouldn’t have believed it if someone told him that 23 years later automakers would be doing the same thing to their cars.
For those of us living in the North American 2012, there are increasingly large swarms of little cars buzzing around the streets. The din their tiny engines makes isn’t overwhelming yet, but just wait.
General Motors’ German subsidiary, Opel, is planning to release a micro car they’re calling the Allegra (or, tentatively, Junior). No, not the allergy medication, though the thing is small enough to be mistaken for a bee in ragweed season, at least compared to the standard American palate. When the Allegra hits Europe in 2013 it will probably stand to compete against cars like the Volkswagen Up, MINI Cooper and Fiat 500.
In fact, it’s a solid 3.3 feet longer than the Mercedes-Benz spawned Smart ForTwo, which looks like a cross between a golf cart and an alien space pod. Our spies caught the Opel Allegra on camera during winter testing, but what’s the big deal? Opel cars aren’t sold in North America, right?
Well, not necessarily. Rumors are floating around that the not-so-smallish micro car might make it overseas rebadged as a Buick. (Why not? It’s not the first Buick to come from Opel). And with the recent launch of the Fiat 500 and the Scion iQ on our shores, the market for mini-cars is growing.
Of course, the name will likely change to keep big pharma happy.
GALLERY: Opel Allegra/Junion Spy Photos
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]
Last month, GM and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced the Chevy Volt’s fire hazards after the electric vehicle suffered collision. As investigations continue, GM’s Opel react by announcing the delay of Ampera deliveries throughout Europe until a solution to the defect is found.
An Opel spokesman explains that Opel is, “not currently delivering the cars to customers while we set up the process to deal with these highly charged batteries to make sure they are safe.” The Opel Ampera and the Chevrolet Volt are built alongside one another in the Hamtramck, Michigan assembly plant and share the same electric and battery technology.
However, there has been no word yet as to how long the delay will last or whether the number of Ampera deliveries in France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, and Holland will be eligible for vehicle buy back.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman of Vauxhall confirmed that there will be no delays for its version of the Volt and the first examples of Vauxhall’s electric car will be delivered to customers by May.
Amid news of an introduction for both the Cadillac ATS and Chevrolet Sonic RS at this year’s 2012 North American International Auto Show comes news of a third vehicle – a Buick crossover – that will also make its debut.
The crossover will reportedly be based on a platform that underpins the Opel Meriva (above) though it will ditch the minivan-look for a more traditional crossover bodystyle. The Meriva also shares a platform with the Chevrolet Sonic, though dimensions and powertrain choices have not been revealed. A small four-cylinder turbo with forced induction is a likely candidate. The Meriva is about 5 inches shorter than a Sonic, and it would be reasonable to expect GM to make the car larger to suit North American tastes.
[Source: Automotive News]
General Motor‘s European subsidiary, Opel has contributed greatly to GM’s engineering and technology development. Despite this, Opel has had difficulty making profit. GM Vice Chairman and Opel’s supervisory board chairman, Stephen Girsky explained to Financial Times Deutschland, “Unfortunately, our plan for making Opel profitable this year did not work.”
Analysts suggest causes for Opel’s unprofitability include its costly vehicle production in Germany. Germany is one of the most expensive labor markets in the world and Opel’s lack of a premium brand makes attaining the desired profit margin more difficult. If Opel’s lack of performance continues, GM may decide to scrap the brand.
GALLERY: Opel Insignia
[Source: Left Lane News]
Opel, General Motors’ German wing is boasting big changes to their Insignia sedan, including a new biturbo diesel.The engine makes 195 horsepower and about 295 foot-pounds of torque, but the real eye-catcher on the new engine is fuel consumption and emissions. The new Insignia is only supposed to emit 129g/km of CO2 and achieves 48 miles-per-gallon.
Diesels typically get better mileage than gasoline engines, but that improved economy usually came hand-in-hand with performance compromises. While that is still true, the gap is shrinking somewhat. The biturbo system takes advantage of differently-sized turbochargers to reduce turbo lag, spooling up the smaller piece first and diverting exhaust to the larger turbo as RPMs increase. The system is seamless according to GM.
The biturbo diesel Insignia can get to 62 mph in 8.7 seconds and tops out at 143 mph, which is a significant improvement considering many small displacement turbo diesels aren’t happy past about 80 mph.
According to Opel, the new Insignia will sell for 33,000 euros and will come with a slew of other improvements including optional all-wheel drive. AWD models will also come with their SuperSport suspension, featuring adaptive damping, Brembo brakes and the HiPerStrut system to improve handling.
The new model also gets adaptive cruise control and some radar-based safety features including forward collision alert.
[Source: Left Lane News]
It’s no secret that General Motors’ European arm, Opel/Vauxhall has been struggling. With an ongoing debt crisis in Europe, high labor costs in Germany and regional status, Opel is finding the going difficult against many rival automakers in its homeland, including traditional competitor VW, whose tentacles stretch far beyond the boundaries of Europe.
Last year, Adam Opel AG lost some $1.6 billion and although GM has been looking at plans to sell the ailing company, recent news suggests that it plans to keep Opel under it’s wing, at least for the time being. One aspect which would appear to confirm that is the appointment of Stephen Girsky to the role of chairman of the board, replacing Nick Reilly who is officially retiring.
During a recent statement, Girsky said that “in order to fully leverage [Opel's] potential we will continue to work on optimizing the cost structure, improve margins and make use of economies of scale within the group.”
One of the biggest obstacles is very high assembly costs, which have continued to put a major dent in Opel’s profitability even though its research and development arm remains first rate. In order to help deal with that issue, as well as Germany’s powerful IG Metall manufacturing union, GM is bringing in Peter Thom as it’s Opel manufacturing chief. Thom’s is armed with experience working in China and a mandate to significantly cut costs, two things that will no doubt have far reaching effects.
General Motors has announced its decision to delay the addition of a second shift for the Chevy Volt assembly plant.
Intended to meet projections for the Volt to double its production by 2012, the second shift is no longer necessary as a plant overhaul conducted this summer plus a modest addition of 300 workers working in one shift is sufficient enough to meet GM’s 60,000 unit production target. GM’s move will dramatically reduce cost by improving upon the assembly plant’s efficiency.
As a matter of fact, earlier forecasts for Volt’s 2012 production were a more conservative 45,000 units, indicating a better reception towards the EV than GM expected. As Volt demand continues to increase and a next generation Chevrolet Malibu will begin production at the plant next year while a new Chevrolet Impala will arrive for 2013, GM still intends to launch a second shift to meet demand, providing jobs for hundreds of more workers.
George McGregor, president of UAW Local 22 and the labor representative for the workers of the plant, says that the second shift will begin sometime in 2012.
[Source: Automotive 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]
It’s that time of the year again as Car of the Year begins the laborious task of whittling down new Car of the Year contenders for 2012.
A total of 59 journalists, representing automotive authorities across 23 European countries, have been recruited for the task of choosing top car. The number of journalists to represent each country is based on the relative size of the said country’s car market. Countries like Spain, Germany, Italy, and Great Britain have a well established market, and each will be represented by six journalists.
As for cars, only completely redesigned new models that have launched within the twelve months before the contest are counted. Each car must be available in at least five European countries and must have an expected sales volume no less than 5,000.
Categories considered include design, safety, performance, and price. This year, says the judging committee, technical innovation and value will be especially influential. What also makes Car of the Year unique is the absence of separate genres for its candidates. Rather than selecting the best of the compacts or the best trucks, vehicles with all sorts of engine size and body types will be vying for the same allotment of points.
Comparison testing of the vehicles will be performed in Sweden.
The following 35 candidates selected for the 2012 Car of the Year award include:
For quite some time now, GM executives in North America have been contemplating distributing Opel’s Astra GTC as a Buick in America. Now there’s a chance that the three-door, sporty vehicle could even be produced in America.
In order to satisfy the UAW, GM has plans to build an additional compact car at an unnamed plant in America, which points fingers at the Astra GTC. Though it’s all speculation right now, GM has been committing to reopening its Spring Hill, Tennessee plant and with the addition of the new compact’s production, could generate 500 new jobs. Could Buick’s version of the Astra GTC be rolling off the Tennessee assembly line by early 2013? We’ll just have to wait and see.
[Source: Left Lane News]