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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.
The full-size pickup segment has never been so competitive. A brand-new Chevy Silverado, a heavily revised Ram and a refreshed Toyota Tundra are tantalizing options, and then there’s an aluminum-body F-150 waiting in the wings. But fixin’ for a fight, Nissan is throwing its 10-gallon hat into the rodeo ring with a brand-new Titan.
The Ridgeline is a slow seller, but Honda isn’t ready to give up their only truck bed-bearing model just yet.
The 2012 model will be getting a slight facelift along with a lower-cost sport (pictured above) model. The four-door pickup hasn’t managed to take hold since 2006 when it was first released.
Those slow sales fed speculation that the truck might disappear from showroom floors altogether, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. American Honda’s Truck Planner, Sage Marie, directly addressed the issue in an official statement, saying the truck is “here to stay.”
Tetsu Iwamura, President and Chief Executive Officer of American Honda confirmed that statement in an interview with AutoBlog.com at the Tokyo Motor Show.
“We’re fully aware of the importance of that model and we’re trying to make that model grow much more. At this moment, there is no intention to stop the Ridgeline,” he said before confirming that Honda is conducting research into improving North American appeal for the truck.
Ford is revising their forecast for F-150 Ecoboost sales, estimating that the turbocharged 6-cylinder pickup will comprise 45 percent of F-150 sales, versus original estimates of 40 percent. Ford now estimates that the Ecoboost will sell 100,000 units this year.
The F-150 remains the best selling vehicle in the United States, and Ford was caught off guard by the Ecoboost’s popularity. A V6 option has only been available within the last two years, as the segment was dominated by V8 engines. Unstable fuel prices and a general trend towards environmentally conscious purchase choices are credited with helping Ford introduce a V6 powered F-150 in a favorable light.
[Source: Wall Street Journal]
General Motors will idle its Fort Wayne, Indiana plant for one week in November to help bring pickup truck production in line with slowing demand.
The plant will be idled for the week of November 7th, and no Chevrolet Silverado or GMC Sierra pickups will be produced at that time. GM has reported a 108 day supply of full-size pickups for the month of August, while an 80-day supply is considered a normal figure. GM said that sales of the Silverado and Sierra are up 7 and 18 percent respectively.
[Source: Automotive News]
We all had a good laugh at BMW‘s M3 Pickup Truck but it looks like someone out there actually thought it was a good idea. Found on Craigslist this custom BMW E30 that has received quite the makeover, transforming the classic BMW to a functional pickup and painted in a gaudy yellow with an equally gaudy matching yellow and black interior. The bad boy is located in Tulsa, Oklahoma and the owner is looking for just $1,900 for it. $1,900! What a steal.
There are of course very few details surrounding this one-of-a-kind project, other than that it’s a 1985 BMW 325e with an automatic transmission and that it “needs a little work.” Knowing that everyone’s definition of “a little work” is probably different, we’re guessing it probably needs “a lot of work”. The seller did state that it needs new brakes, the windows aren’t working, there’s a few rust bubbles, a cracked windshield and the interior could use a little “sorting out.” Yeah, like sorting the bumblebee theme right on out of there.
But hey, at least the owner was honest and said he had big plans for the car but has too many projects right now. We’re curious as to what other projects would take precedent over this magnificent creation. We’re hoping some crazy drifter picks it up, shoves in a V8 and goes sideways in it.
For parents, babysitter nightmares don’t come any worse than this: a 23-year old woman was arrested after leaving an 8-month old baby in the back of a Dodge Ram and driving around in the back.
Keyona Davis, from—where else?—Florida, was stopped by police after witnesses spotted her sitting in the back of the truck, with the stroller and the baby inside. The driver, a Mr. White, was cited for reckless driving, but Davis got off a bit harsher—felony child neglect, to add to a rap sheet of previous charges. She is being held in jail on a $5,000 bond, and will not be getting a recommendation from the baby’s family.
Click the jump to see the police dashboard camera, which caught the vehicle in the act. To be fair, she also sat in the back of the truck with the baby and the stroller, which makes it safe! And a note to aspiring babysitters: the Subaru Brat was taken out of production for a reason.
[Source: The Smoking Gun]
The first half of 2011 is officially over, and the Ford F-Series and Toyota Camry are still the top selling truck and car in America. While the F-Series has traditionally been the best selling vehicle in America since time immemorial, the Camry has often traded places with the Ford Taurus and Honda Accord, and our sales tally also lumps in sales of the Solara coupe as well, similar to the Corolla and Matrix, which are grouped together for second place in the passenger car standings.
The Chevrolet Silverado and Dodge Ram take second and third place in the truck standings, while the Corolla/Matrix, Nissan Altima, Ford Fusion round out the car category.
Other strong performers include the Hyundai Elantra and Sonata and the Volkswagen Jetta. All three are relative newcomers to the top of the sales charts, but have managed to gain significant market share amid recent re-designs.
[Source: The Truth About Cars]
The V6 powered version of the Ford F-150 outsold the V8 variant for the first time in the vehicle’s history, signalling a dramatic shift in consumer tastes that has left Ford rushing to meet demand for the new V6 engines.
Ford’s gamble with offering two V6s – a 3.7L version, and a 3.5L Ecoboost positioned as a V8 alternative – has clearly paid off. Ford didn’t release specific data broken down by engine choice, but a report by the Cleveland Plain Dealer suggests that V6s are becoming the engine of choice for truck buyers, amid rising gas prices and other negative economic factors.
The Brook Park plant in Cleveland has resorted to cutting their summer vacation short to meet demand for the engines. Ford charges a $1,750 premium for Ecoboost engines, while the base 3.7L V6 is fitted as standard equipment.
Mazda is very excited to show off its Freestyle Cab version of its BT-50 pickup at the upcoming Australian International Motor Show that will be held in Melbourne on July 1st-10th. The BT-50 receives Mazda’s now infamous Freestyle door configuration that was first revealed on the RX-8. By utilizing the unique door configuration, the BT-50 Freestyle gives a way to comfortably seat four while retaining a large carrying capacity.
Improvements have also been made from the current BT-50 offering by utilizing the Freestyle door configuration. In the rear, seat cushions have been lengthened by just over twp inches, giving way to better thigh support and better fitment for child seats. The seatback height has also been increased by slightly over five inches.
Most importantly, the BT-50 Freestyle benefits from a larger carrying capacity. Mazda has been able to increase the overall cargo volume by 51.3-cubic feet, a 9.4-cubic feet increase from the currently existing model.
Unfortunately for the North American market, Mazda still has no plans of bringing the BT-50 Freestyle to North America.
GALLERY: Mazda BT-50 Freestyle
The Holden Commodore Ute has had more false starts in the United States than Elizabeth Taylor has had marriages, but rising gas prices might give General Motors an impetus to import the Ute as a pickup alternative at a time when high gas prices are making large trucks economically unfeasible.
Mark Reuss, GM’s head of North American operations, said that the Ute may be an important product if fuel prices compel pickup buyers to downsize from full-size trucks to more efficient but equally versatile vehicles. ’I've lived in Australia and I’ve seen where fuel prices are $5 a gallon and lots of tradesmen will use a ute with a tray on the back to do lots of different things, and they don’t need the bandwidth of a big pick-up truck,’ he told Australia’s Drive.
Reuss also said that no decision would come until the next generation Commodore in 2014, and that the pickup truck market in the States was still strong enough to continue with current offerings. General Motors planned to offer the Ute as a Pontiac vehicle, but those plans were shuttered in the wake of the 2009 recession.
The last V6-powered Ford F-150 was sold to the public in 2008, and only 11% of sales were made up of the smaller-engined trucks. Three years later, and Ford’s gamble to offer not one but two V6s in America’s best-selling vehicle seems to be paying dividends, with 35% of F-150′s sold coming with either the base 3.7L V6 or the 3.5L Ecoboost turbo engine.
Part of it can be attributed to the rising gas prices felt throughout the year. The 3.7L F-150 is classified as the most fuel-efficient full-size truck, with a 17/23mpg EPA rating. Ford also claims that the Ecoboost is selling like hotcakes, but didn’t give any data to back up the claim. With the V6s selling strong, there may be a shift to smaller engines in trucks, now that the mental barrier of requiring a V8 in a pickup seems to be dismantled among consumers.
General Motors has halted production at their Tonawanda, New York engine plant, due to a parts shortage that has affected another factory in Louisiana.
The New York plant builds engines for the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, which are assembled at the Shreveport, Louisiana plant. While GM has acknowledged that the closure is due to an issue with Japanese parts, GM hasn’t specified what components are affected.
Of the 623 workers at the plant, 59 have been laid off due to the shortage. Some have suspected that GM is diverting the components to more profitable vehicles, as it fears an extreme disruption to its supply chain. GM plants in Spain and Germany have also been closed due to the shortage.
[Source: USA Today]
It wasn’t exactly a secret. With Thailand being one of the most popular single markets for small and mid-size pickups – the biggest in the world according to GM’s Susan Docherty, it’s hardly surprising the General chose the Bangkok Auto Show to reveal its global Ford Ranger competitor, the Chevrolet Colorado.
However, the actual truck shown, although clearly production focused, still displays some flashy show car gingerbread, namely 20 inch wheels and a body colored tonneau cover. Not much has so far been mentioned about the mechanicals, save that it will be powered by a 2.8-liter turbo diesel engine and probably teamed with both manual and automatic transmissions, at least in its launch market.
Gallery: Chevrolet Colorado
After a wildly enthusiastic reception to the Ram Runner, the dune-bashing variant of the Ram pickup, Chrysler engineers have decided to go back to the drawing board and make the upgrade kit street legal, giving Ram loyalists a weapon against the Ford F-150 Raptor.
While any stock Ram 1500 can be used as a basis, the parts used will have more in common with Baja race trucks than anything seen on the street. The vehicle is so wide that special side markets have been mandated by the government. Track is widened by 3 inches in the front and 6 inches in the rear, while special Fox shocks, new control arms and widened fenders are just some of the modifications made for the Ram Runner.
Buyers can purchase a complete package, or the individual bits to upgrade their truck over time. Chrysler is looking at making a factory version but stated that “If we did, we would use a [second stage] partner to build the trucks.”
With the Ford Ranger having left the building, General Motors is capitalizing on the death of a legend by going full steam ahead with the development of their next compact pickups, which will replace the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon.
While the Ranger will be sold in markets across the globe, save for the United States, the GM twins will be developed as a world platform, with General Motors leveraging the expertise of their divisions in Thailand, which is a significant market for small trucks. Of course, the trucks will have to be built Stateside, since imported trucks are subject to extraordinary duties thanks to the infamous “chicken tax“.
Of course, Toyota and Nissan still make a compact truck, but we can see the appeal of a domestic alternative for a large section of the market. GM had originally planned to kill off their small truck twins, but the recent change of events seems to have made them re-consider their plans.
After Ford filed a legal injuction regarding Ferrari’s use of the name “F150″ for their new Formula 1 car, the Italian supercar manufacturer has bowed to legal pressure and re-dubbed their entrant the “F150th Italia”.
While Ford’s ubiquitous pick-up truck, the F-150, could never be confused with the purpose built race car, evidently someone in Ferrari’s legal department thought it was a prudent move. The Ferrari was dubbed the “F150″ in honor of the 150th anniversary of Italy’s unification.
Hit the jump to read the official press release
Ford will invest $400 million in their Kansas City, Missouri assembly plant after the state government agreed to a series of tax breaks. “This investment and promise of a new vehicle to be built in Kansas City reinforces Ford’s commitment to U.S. manufacturing and American jobs,” said Ford President of the Americas Mark Fields.
Ford’s investment will ensure nearly 3,750 full-time employees remain on the company payroll. Ford builds both the Escape and F-150 at the plant, but the Escape’s demise means that Ford will likely build its Vertek crossover at the plant sometime around 2012.
Ford‘s F-Series truck is America’s best selling vehicle for the 34th straight year, moving an astounding 528, 349 units, up nearly 28 percent from 2009. In second place was the Chevrolet Silverado, which moved a relatively paltry 370,135 trucks, but saw a 17 percent jump in sales.
The Toyota Camry and Honda Accord duked it out for the title of Best Selling Passenger Car, with the Camry edging out the Accord by 16,423 units. Toyota sold 327,804 Camrys in 2010, a 7.5 percent drop, while Accord sales were up 8.1 percent to 311,381 units.
Rounding out the top 10 were the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Nissan Altima, Ford Fusion, Honda CR-V and Dodge Ram. Also noteworthy is that Ford sold more total units in 2010 than previous leader Toyota.
[Source: Kicking Tires]
After going through the equivalent of 160,000 miles worth of grueling tasks, Ford will take apart an Ecoboost V6 selected for the evaluation process, in a bid to demonstrate that the boosted V6 can be a viable alternative to traditional V8s.
The V6, which was randomly pulled from the regular production line, was put into action in a variety of tasks, from racing in the Baja 1000 to towing over 11,000 pounds for 24 hours straight. At the end of the test process, Ford dynoed the motor and found that it still produced 360 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque, just as it did when it left the assembly line.
Hit the jump to see the official press release
Nissan and Mitsubishi announced a new joint venture today, notably involving a minicar project that will see Nissan’s engineering prowess and Mitsubishi’s small car expertise utilized in to give greater market share to both companies in markets outside North America.
The first salvo of products will include a Nissan-built van to be sold as a Mitsubishi in Japan, while Mitsubishi will build a Nissan badged SUV for the Middle East market. The upcoming minicar will compete in a segment that comprises a third of Japanese new car sales, and has increasing demand in many developing markets.
“In the global auto industry, cooperation on specific projects among automakers is becoming increasingly common,” Ghosn said at a press conference announcing the venture.”It is, in fact, a signal of how our industry is evolving to sustain success over the long term, by leveraging size, scale and investments more effectively to create more value.”
[Source: The Detroit News]
But a parts shortage, affecting unspecified components, threatens to impede Ford’s launch plans, forcing a batch of F-Series trucks to sit idle as the automaker waits for the parts.
The 2011 F-Series was given a range of new powertrains designed to address consumers increasing desire for better fuel economy. F-Series sales rose by 30 percent last month, a strong number in light of the upcoming refreshed model and rising fuel prices.
[Source: Automotive News]