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‘s NILS Concept won’t ever qualify for the HOV lane, since the single seat concept was designed as VW’s vision of a future commuter that’s a bit like the proverbial “table for one”.
Sporting a single seat – and a curb weight of just under 1000 lbs – the NILS has a 40 mile range from its 34 horsepower electric motor and and scoot to 60 mph in 11 seconds. Although it looks like a goofy kids toy, some neat futures, like gullwing doors, make it cooler than a Smart Fortwo, even though the gullwing setup is horribly inefficient for tight parking spaces that are prominent in urban environments.
Volkswagen’s research says that 90 percent of German drivers travel to work alone, and 74 percent only cover 30 miles or less per day. Something like the NILS is right up their alley, and may even fly in a place like New York City. Let’s see if it makes it to production at all.
While Ford has stopped short of confirming it, a recent article on Automotive News suggests that a Fiesta subcompact fitted with the company’s newest 1.0L Ecoboost 3-Cylinder engine is all but a done deal for North America.
Ford confirmed that the engine would make it to America in some capacity, and the motor is only capable of fitting in the Ka, Fiesta and Figo. Of those three, only the Fiesta is sold here, with the Ka meant for Europe and the Figo sold only in developing markets. No word on when the engine will come to market, or how much power it will make, but the engine is said be to producing around 120-horsepower, roughly the same as the Fiesta’s 1.0L 3-cylinder motor.
[Source: Automotive News]
Toyota’s new Yaris is built on the strengths the Yaris has become known for including its durability, versatility, efficient engines and easy to drive nature. Toyota has now taken these key aspects into the new model and gone further to offer a sharper, more agile, more contemporary looking vehicle.
The Yaris will also appeal both to technology-focused customers and drivers who value quality, practicality and price when considering a new car.
The Touch audio system includes touchscreen controls, provides Bluetooth, a USB port and a rear parking camera. The Toyota Touch and Go system is also available providing full map satellite navigation and has a range of connected information services that can be accessed and downloaded through a dedicated customer portal.
Engines include a 1.0 and 1.33-liter gas engine as well as a 1.4-liter turbodiesel engine. The three cylinder 1.0-liter engine is coupled to a five speed manual transmission generating 68-hp at 6,000 rpm. Fuel consumption has been improved to 58.9 mpg. The 1.3-liter produces 98-hp and achieves 56.5 mpg. The 1.4-liter diesel engine is matched to a six speed manual transmission, producing 89-hp at 3,800 rpm and 205 lb-ft of torque. This engine achieves 72.4 mpg. However these engines are almost certainly for world markets only, and the U.S. will definitely see some beefier engine choices.
Gallery: Toyota Yaris
The Aston Martin Cygnet might seem like anathema to everything the company stands for, but Aston Martin is hoping that the Cygnet will become the number two seller for the brand.
With a projection of 1,500 units sold per year, the Cygnet would trail the Vantage as Aston’s stop selling model. Aston sold a total of 4,250 cars in 2010.
The Cygnet is based on the Toyota iQ city car, and Aston Martin is marketing the car not based on performance, but on luxury. ”Prior to Cygnet your choice was, you open the door and it smells of plastic; now you open the door, and you’ll be hit by this wonderful smell of leather,” Chief designer Marek Reichman told Automotive News.
[Source: Automotive News]
BMW‘s 1 Series is due for replacement next year, but so far BMW has only released a vague teaser of the car and its potential body styles. So far, observers seem to think that a 3-door and 5-door hatchback are set to be launched, at least in Europe. We’d expect that North America will get a coupe variant, due to the lack of love for hatches Stateside.
So far, BMW has released a commercial that alludes to the two body styles being offered. While its ostensibly a bit of avant garde advertising, we just get anxious and impatient due to a lack of car content. Hit the jump to check them out.
The upcoming Cadillac ATS is expected to slot below the mid-size CTS, and compete with upcoming compact luxury cars. In order to differentiate itself from the CTS, the ATS will get a series of smaller engines, with an Ecotec 4-cylinder or a small V6 (much like the high feature V6, seen above) among the possibilities.
According to sources, the Cadillac CTS-V’s LSA V8 may fit under the hood of the ATS, but with the next BMW M3 getting an inline six engine, the ATS-V will likely get a twin turbo V6 making 380 horsepower, with a choice of 6-speed manual or automatic gearboxes. Unfortunately for Cadillac, their last effort with turbocharging on the SRX crossover was poorly received by everyone but critics. Hopefully the ATS-V provides some redemption, and with current gas prices, the idea of yet another blown V8 is unfathomable.
[Source: Car and Driver]
The Chevrolet Sonic actually looks like a good vehicle, and not just in relative terms to the outgoing Aveo that it replaces. In a classic case of misplaced good intentions, Chevrolet decided to take things up a level with their Sonic Z-Spec package, that combines questionable visual patterns with the color palette of a Creamsicle.
In addition to the goofy graphics, the Z-Spec package includes exhaust tip, roof spoiler, mirror caps, grille surrounds and a choice of 16″ or 17″ wheels, while the interior gets a an aluminum door sill kit and aluminum pedals. While the Sonic Z-Spec is supposed to capture the hearts and minds of young buyers, we think that the 1.4L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and 40 mpg rating are much better ways to sell your product, as opposed to slathering your new car in orange-and-white polka dots.
Gallery: 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Z-Spec
The Mitsubishi i electric vehicle will start at $20,490 after a federal tax credit, coming in at nearly $5000 less than a Nissan Leaf. The $20,490 sticker price is for a base ES model, while the upgraded SE trim with an 8-speaker 360 watt stereo, leather wrapped steering wheel, 15″ alloys and fog lamps will cost $22,490.
Mitsubishi will also offer an option packing for $2,790 that features a DC quick charging port, allowing the car to recharge to 80 percent battery level in 30 minutes. Other features include a navigation system, backup camera, steering wheel audio controls and a FUSE hands-free system.
Customers will be able to order their i starting on April 22nd via Mitsubishi’s online ordering system. Potential buyers will then have to PayPal $299 for a refundable deposit, and $99.99 for a home inspection fee (waived for the first 2,000 customers) to make sure their home can handle EV charging equipment. Once this process is complete, customers will be able to take delivery of their car as soon as it reaches our shores in November, 2011.
Mazda confirmed that their previously unveiled Minagi concept will go into production as the Mazda CX-5, a small crossover intended to slot beneath their mid-size CX-7 and full-size CX-9.
The CX-5 will be the first Mazda vehicle to come with a full suite of SKYACTIV fuel-saving technologies, among them an all-new engine designed for maximum efficiency, new gearboxes, lightened engine ancillaries and other little tricks to eke out optimum fuel economy. Mazda has chosen a route similar to Hyundai, where weight reduction and refinement of the internal combustion engine is utilized to save fuel and cut emissions, rather than hybrid or electric technology. However, Mazda says that the SKYACTIV architecture will eventually allow it to employ start-stop systems, regenerative braking and other hybrid-esque technology.
A refreshed 2012 Mazda3 with a new SKYACTIV 4-cylinder engine will debut this fall, and is expected to get 40 mpg on the highway. With 33 % of Mazda’s global sales being made up of Mazda3 vehicles, the refreshed version is a crucial product for the company, but the current car’s multitude of strengths combined with increased efficiency should have nothing but positive effects. Mazda also announced a diesel engine in time for 2013, but gave no further details regarding product packaging.
The Impreza, which has gotten less quirky over the years, looks downright generic in its newest incarnation, but underneath the skin, the same boxer engine and all-wheel drive system remain, in keeping with Subaru tradition. The company claims that their new Impreza is the most fuel-efficient AWD car on sale, returning 27 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway.
Sure, these numbers don’t quite match the benchmarks of 30/40 mpg, but the added weight and complexity of powering all four wheels necessitates a trade-off in fuel economy – whether Subaru will be able to get this message across to mechanically disinterested consumers is another matter.
The Impreza rides on a one inch longer wheelbase, which gives the car more interior room, while shorter overhangs help balance out the overall size of the car. Under the hood is a 2.0L 4-cylinder making 148 horsepower and 145 lb-ft, with a 5-speed manual or CVT as transmission options. Standard features include Bluetooth, ABS and stability control, while leather seats, voice activated controls and an in-dash LCD screen with navigation are all optional.
GALLERY: 2012 Subaru Impreza
See AutoGuide’s ‘First Look’ Video of the new Impreza from New York after the jump:
The 2012 Honda Civic is a crucial product for Honda. As the competition gets better and better, Honda will have to fight to retain customers in the compact car segment, an area where they were the undisputed champions for decades. But with the new Chevrolet Cruze, Hyundai Elantra and Ford Focus nipping at its heels, Honda has been forced to double down its efforts and ensure that the Civic is a winner.
The lineups bread and butter will be the standard coupe and sedan models, which look visually similar to the outgoing car, but pack some interesting improvements beneath the skin. A new 1.8L four-cylinder with 140 horsepower will be the standard engine, with a 5-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission on offer.
Fuel economy will be close to class leaders, with as much as 39 mpg available during the highway cycle. Buyers looking for even more miserly fuel consumption will have to step up to the HF model, which is available only with a 5-speed automatic transmission. The HF will get a unique spoiler, 15” wheels and underbody enhancements to help it achieve 41 mpg on the highway, 1 mpg higher than the Ford Focus or Hyundai Elantra.
Inside, features like a premium audio system, XM radio and a navigation system will be available. Honda expects the new Civic to get a 5-star crash test rating, in line with other cars in the segment, and while the car hasn’t been tested yet, we see no reason to doubt this. You can read our review of the 2012 Civic here and check out our New York Auto Show coverage for live photos of the car’s reveal.
Discuss the new 2012 Civic with the 9thGenCivic community.
GALLERY: Honda Civic Sedan
GALLERY: Honda Civic Coupe
Discuss the 9th generation Civic at 9thGenCivic.com
Honda will offer their Civic compact car with a new small diesel engine by 2013, but for now it looks like Europe and other markets will get it, with North America seemingly shut out.
With a new Civic set to debut in world markets in 2012, Honda is mulling various options, with world markets set to get the 150 horsepower i-DTEC engine. Europe will likely get a new generation of diesels, since offering one is a key to sales success on the continent. For now, it looks like Honda will stick with conventional gasoline powered variants, but never say never.
[Source: Indian Autos Blog]
We often take our own personal safety for granted, but in Mexico, the situation is quite different to say the least. While full-size SUVs are generally the vehicle of choice when armoring comes in to play, they’re not always the most discrete, and Volkswagen is cognizant of this.
For about $70,000, Volkswagen will sell you a previous generation Jetta (known as the Bora) with factory installed armoring that can stop small caliber rounds from entering the car. Although it uses the same 2.0T engine and DSG gearbox, the car is much more discrete than the GLI performance model, and with the extra weight, a good deal slower as well. Then again, staying alive, rather than having fun behind the wheel, is the point of this car, and the 2.0T motor is there out of necessity.
While Hyundai‘s undoubtedly been on a roll lately, they haven’t quite managed to bend the laws of physics, despite what their newest stunt may suggest.
Hyundai’s Malaysian arm suspended a 2012 Accent from the vertical face of a building, and had a driver wearing some futuristic garb descend towards the Accent. Through the use of some trick 3D projection and properly spinning wheels, the Accent really looks like it’s driving. Check out the video below.
General Motors will recall 2,100 Chevrolet Cruze sedans after a steering wheel came loose from the car’s steering column recently. General Motors claims that no injuries resulted from the problem, and a bolt that was not properly installed was the culprit.
“We made a mistake, but we’re confident that we’ve got it fixed,” said GM spokesman Allen Adler. GM claims it has inspected 2,000 cars at the Ohio plant that produces the car. Dealers have isolated the potentially dangerous vehicles and will inspect them as well. While NHTSA would normally issue an official recall notice, the government shutdown that may occur due to a political dispute may prevent it from being released in a timely manner.
Get more Chevy Cruze news and info at CruzeTalk.com
Gas prices are getting higher and Chrysler would like to sell you its Fiat 500 EV that uses no gas for $10,000 below cost.
What’s the catch? No catch, except its cost could be three times higher than a $15,995 gasoline-powered version.
Citing the high price of developing an all-electric city car, Chrysler Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne reportedly said the company will roll out a limited number of Fiat 500 EVs and will take the loss in order to get them out there.
Even at around $45,000, the car will already be a good $12,000 or more than a Nissan LEAF – another purported loss leader – so this is the high price of trying to start an automotive revolution.
Edmunds.com said it could not get a comment from Chrysler reps, but said in order to get an electric alternative to the far more sophisticated extended-range Chevy Volt, pending Ford Focus EV, and others, Chrysler is willing to do what it takes.
Last March, the financially troubled Chrysler first committed to the Mexican-built, Italian-brand car after its 2010 fleet was ranked last in EPA fuel economy ratings among 14 major automakers. Sprinkling the mix with fuel-free units probably won’t hurt on that score either.
Thus far, the expense of bringing EVs to market has been an oft-repeated story in one form or another. The industry is being government mandated, and manufacturers and consumers are being subsidized respectively to develop and buy them. On the positive side, the proposed paradigm shift has created a frenzy of enthusiasm among companies working on much-needed solutions to dwindling oil supplies, greenhouse gases, and other ill effects, with high hopes on the horizon.
The incentive at this point is seen as necessary in today’s far more complicated economic climate to, er, jump start the new industry. No matter where the grand experiment will go, nearly every major automaker is rushing to get into the fray. It would appear the Fiat 500 EV is Chrysler’s first charitable donation to the effort.
[Source: Edmunds Blog]
The New York Auto Show will be a big one for Mazda, as the company prepares 3 big unveiling that will pave the way for the company’s future on the engineering front.
Mazda will show off the Minagi concept for the first time in North America and debut the refreshed 2012 Mazda3 in America (after its unveiling at the Toronto Auto Show in February) complete with Mazda’s all-new SkyActiv engine technology. The SkyActiv 2.0L 4-cylinder hasn’t had power figures announced yet, but reports say that prototypes are putting out around 163 horsepower and 155 lb-ft of torque, while still maintaining 40 mpg on the highway and 30 mpg around town. A 6-speed automatic will also do its part to hit those numbers. With 33% the Mazda3 making up 33% of Mazda’s global sales, the refreshed car is a huge deal for the company, even if it flies under the radar of most North American consumers.
GALLERY: 2012 Mazda3
GALLERY: Mazda Minagi Concept
View video of the 2012 Mazda3 from its debut after the jump:
The initial slow start to the Chevrolet Volt rollout sped up in March with sales of more than twice the number than were sold in January and February combined.
Sales of 608 Volts plus 321 in January and 281 in February now make 1,210 total. This is not a lot compared to 18,018 Cruzes sold in March alone, but GM is not calling defeat by any stretch of the imagination at this early juncture.
Its initial sales were through dealers in regions whose demographics supported hybrids and alternative technology. By the end of the year, GM plans for nationwide distribution.
Last month Chevrolet also reported big gains for its combined new model line. A 54-percent increase in the new car category led the bowtie brand’s sales.
“March sales demonstrated our newest models continue to win over customers,” said Don Johnson, GM’s vice president of U.S. sales operations. “Vehicles like the Chevrolet Cruze and Equinox put us in great position to benefit from consumer’s increasing desire for fuel-efficient vehicles.”
Overall, Chevrolet posted 148,197 sales in March, an 11-percent increase over the same month a year ago. This number includes an 18 percent gain in retail sales of cars, trucks and crossovers.
To date this year, Chevrolet has sold 416,505 vehicles, representing a 37-percent spike in retail sales, and 23 percent increase in total sales.
Subaru will re-start their large car production plant, nearly a month after an earthquake caused parent company Fuji Heavy Industries to shut the factory down.
The factory builds the Legacy, Impreza and Forester, which comprise the bulk of Subaru’s U.S. lineup. The plant will only be running at 50 percent capacity initially. Subaru claims that they have an adequate supply of parts on hand, but admits that the situation is still not yet concrete and production may stop again if necessary.
Subaru recently cut production at its Indiana plant by 50 percent due to a parts shortage. The factory makes the Legacy and Outback, two popular models in North America.
[Source: Automotive News]
Expected transmissions are a 6-speed manual and an automatic, rumored to be a 4-speed. The sedan will complement the hatchback previously revealed at the Geneva Auto Show. Also possible is a 138-hp direct-injection 1.6-liter 4-cylinder, similar to the one offered in the 2012 Hyundai Accent.
AutoGuide will have complete coverage of the New York Autoshow starting April 20th, so stay tuned to our site for more photos and videos.
The Toyota plant which builds the Yaris subcompact for export markets will remain closed for another month, as the factory recovers from the massive earthquake which struck northern Japan.
While the plant has had repairs completed and electricity has returned, the supply of natural gas has not been restored. Toyota’s other plants are expected to remain closed until at least April 14th, but the Yaris plant in Miyagi prefecture will stay shuttered until the end of April. Toyota has resumed production of its Prius hybrid, but is only operating at 50 percent capacity.
Toyota released a statement claiming “Depending on vehicle type, there may be a significant impact on our production capabilities.” No start date was given for any of their factories, but a source told Automotive News that the company was attempting to secure a gas supply from neighboring regions. Parts supplies also remain an issue, and the company is attempting to resolve these problems from their Toyota City headquarters.
[Source: Automotive News]
Determined to make sure the launch of their new 2012 Focus is flawless, Ford is road testing the first examples of the new Focus for 30 miles, an unprecedented length for a mainstream car.
Ford will take a Focus from its Wayne assembly plant to a Dearborn test track for evaluation, and then a further inspection once back at the factory. While some industry analysts have raised questions about whether the elaborate procedures are a cover for significant problems with the Focus, Ford is claiming that the launch is crucial for the company, especially in light of the Focus’ 40-mpg capability and rising gas prices.
Ford spokesman Said Deep said that Focus models being built right now would not get the same 30 mile test drive, but will get a thorough inspection nonetheless.
[Source: Automotive News]
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
Taking shots at your competitors is nothing new in the advertising world, but North Americans generally see the kind of gentle ribbing that comes from restrictive libel laws and the preference for subtlety over braggadocio.
Not so in Brazil, where Nissan ran a campaign for their Tiida small car (aka the Versa on our shores) that featured actors imitating rappers and dancing with bikini-clad video girls in front of a Ford Focus. The message of the ad was that Ford was overcharging customers (due to the $1,800 delta in price between the Focus and Tiida) and their lavish lifestyles were funded by the extra cash.
Ford took issue with the gratuitous nature of the commercial and has decided to sue. We don’t know whether their argument will hold up in a Brazilian court of law, but we sure appreciate the video!
Hit the jump to see the video