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.
If you were one of the unfortunate kids who never got a Power Wheels for your birthday, you might be in luck thanks to Smart.
No it’s not a joke, though it is just a concept car. Smart sent out a press release today detailing its new For-Us pickup truck. With the most serious face you can muster, picture this: Smart’s latest attempt to grab U.S. attention is small enough to fit inside an average pickup truck bed. The little thing measures a miniature 11.6 feet and features a bed just big enough to squeeze a couple of bikes with their front wheels removed.
Smart said in their release that the ultra-compact pickup could be useful for accessing areas traditional trucks cant fit into, like small trails. Despite the obvious limitations around owning a pickup smaller than some golf carts, the Smart For-Us might have a sliver of merit: it’s an EV. Perhaps if the company sees its way to marketing this little utility buggy, the world might have it’s first zero-emissions pickup truck. Just try not to go too far out into the bush. You wouldn’t want to run out of battery power on the “isolated trails” Smart suggests taking the For-Us on.
If you’re still curious, more details are set to emerge on this curious creation at the 2012 North American International Auto Show.
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.
The future of the Jeep Liberty will be revealed Wednesday when Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne will visit the Toledo, Ohio plant that currently builds the truck.
The new Liberty will shed its traditional off-road roots and move to a Fiat-based car platform. While the move to a crossover may anger traditionalist, Marchionne was apparently less than enthused regarding the Liberty’s lagging sales, especially compared to crossovers like the Honda CR-V. There is also talk of reviving the iconic Cherokee nameplate for the new car.
The new platform is expected to underpin as many as 8 future vehicles. Chrysler will invest $365 million in the plant and add 1,105 jobs.
[Source: Automotive News]
Law enforcement gets a severe-duty upgrade beginning this month, with Chrysler’s Ram Truck brand offering their new Ram 1500 Crew Cab 4×4 Special Service package for police enforcement and emergency services support.
Combining durability, reliability, and value, president and CEO of Ram Truck Brand Fred Diaz announced, “Like the Ram Truck brand, first responders give it their all with guts and glory, and we’re proud to offer a Ram truck that gives them the reliability and durability to get to the scene quickly and safely. The Special Service package offers legendary Ram capability and a ready-to-go platform for the folks who require a truck they can depend on.”
The Special Service package includes ballistic material packed within the doors, extended cycle 100,000-mile sparkplugs, a larger oil cooler to aid the engine in stop-and-go operation, as well as a 220-amp alternator to handle high electric loads. An additional PDC, a Power Distribution Center with two separate 100-amp main fuses, plus a unique wire harness combine to provide power, ground, and fusing to siren, lighting, computer, modem, radar and camera system and devices.
Did we mention that the package also comes with a Hemi? That’s right, the truck’s 5.7 liter Hemi V8 with Fuel Saver Technology, good for 390-hp and 407 lb-ft of torque, is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Combined with a 3.92 axle ratio, the Ram truck is capable of towing 10,000 and shouldering a payload of 1,455 lbs.
GALLERY: Ram 1500 Crew Cab 4×4 Special Service package
The big surprise here was the announcement of the Fiat 500 as the Hottest Sport Compact, despite a relatively small presence at the SEMA show. The Hyundai Veloster seemed like a far more likely candidate for the award, given the ubiquity of the new Hyundai hatchback.
Check out AutoGuide’s SEMA coverage here
Fans of the Land Rover Defender worried about the iconic off-roader’s impending demise should feel at ease, because the Defender has a long life ahead of it, with production scheduled until 2017.
While a new, more civilized Defender, will bow in 2015, the current vehicle will remain in production until 2017, and possibly as long as 2020. Changes in emissions and safety legislation that would have rendered the Defender unfit for sale have been ammended, or exemptions have been granted for the vehicle.
The Defender was also re-classified as a commercial vehicle a number of years ago, and reports suggest that this should help further safeguard the vehicle’s future in the European marketplace.
A truck containing a teleprompter and audio gear used by President Barack Obama was stolen in Virginia, prompting questions about security lapses.
The gear, estimated at about $200,000, was parked in a van at a Virginia hotel parking lot ahead of Obama’s visit to the area. The van was said to be carrying audio equipment, podiums and even the Presidential seal, which only Obama is allowed to stand behind. The truck was eventually recovered, but details about the equipment’s status has not been made public.
The truck was said to be unmarked but wearing government tags, and observers are questioning whether this was simply a random vehicle theft that happened to be carrying important cargo, or whether the goods were specifically targeted by thieves.
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]
The Chevrolet TrailBlazer was killed off in 2009 to make way for GM’s new range of car-based crossovers, but evidently there’s still demand for a mid-size, truck based SUV, as Chevrolet has announced a new TrailBlazer based on the upcoming Colorado mid-size pickup.
Given that the Colorado was developed for world markets by GM’s Thailand division, expect the new TrailBlazer to differ from the outgoing vehicle, which could be had with a 6.0L small-block V8. The new TrailBlazer will be unveiled alongside the Colorado at the Dubai Motor Show in November. In the mean time, check out the press release below.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating Jeep Liberty SUVs built between 2002 and 2003 for an issue regarding the premature deployment of airbags.
NHTSA said that they’ve received 7 complaints regarding airbags deploying without a crash, with 5 of these incidents having caused injuries. 387,356 vehicles are said to be affected by the issue.
[Source: Automotive News]
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]
Nothing can test a truck’s true mettle quite like thousands of miles of sand. For the 2012 Dakar Rally, the British Excite Rally Raid Team plans to enter the most brutal competition on Earth using three specially modified versions of Land Rover‘s new Evoque.
Powered by a 3.0-liter turbo diesel straight-six engine by BMW producing 275-hp and 479 lb-ft of torque and mated to a ZF six-speed gearbox, the Evoque will be hand-built by the wizards of RaBe Race Cars, whom possess a very long history of providing Dakar raiding hardware for many teams.
British Excite Rally Raid Team, as the name suggests, will be a completely British crew. The drivers are Martin Rowe, Andrew Coley and John Hardy. Keep a look out for British Excite at the 2012 Dakar Rally in January 1, 2012.
GALLERY: British Excite Rally Raid Team Land Rover Evoque
Toyota recently announced an updated version of its Tacoma pickup for 2012 and has now revealed pricing, with the top-selling truck starting at $16,875.
The 2012 Tacoma will emphasize driving comfort, usability, and convenience. Exterior enhancements include a facelift with new hood, headlamps and fog lights. Two new shades of paint, Spruce Mica and Nautical Blue Metallic, are new for 2012 as well. Tacoma’s interior gets an update too, providing a new steering wheel, new gauge cluster, a new center instrument panel, as well as several interior trim updates. TRD Sport and Off-Road models get to have extra water-resistant fabric seats while Access or Double Cab models benefit from heavy duty all-weather flooring.
But really, the nice surprise from the new Tacoma is that it will be one of the first Toyota vehicles to have the new Entune multimedia/infotainment system. Entune is designed as a collection of popular apps and data services including Bing, Pandora, movietickets.com, live traffic and weather, sports and stocks. Smartphone tethering is also available. Entune subscriptions will be free for the first three years.
Powertrains available for the 2012 Tacoma are the base 2.7 liter I4 and the premium 4.0 liter V6, pushing 159 hp/ 180 lb-ft and 236 hp/ 266 lb-ft respectively. Both engines will have Toyota’s variable valve timing VVT-i for better efficiency and stronger torque. Finally, selections for transmission are either six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic.
The 2012 Tacoma maintains its regular cab, access cab, and four-door double cab in 4×2 and 4×4 configurations. Pricing will start from $16,875 and reach $27,835.
GALLERY: 2012 Toyota Tacoma
Fiat may shift planned production of Jeep and Alfa Romeo SUVs from the Turin plant to an American facility. If this is successful, Fiat will have space to produce a small car at the Italian plant. One insider said that the compact car may be built at the Mirafiori plant, and Fiat’s strategic SUV move is based on America’s ongoing demand for trucks, although Fiat has yet to make a final decision.
Less than a year ago, Fiat invested $1.44 billion in the Turin plant in order to produce Jeep and Alfa Romeo SUVs for late 2012, but since then, the Euro has increased nearly nine percent against the american dollar. This economic shift makes the possiblity of manufacturing Jeep vehicles aborad, then shipping them back to the U.S, a less profitable venture. Fiat will likely build the trucks stateside, allowing Jeep to remain domestic and providing Alfa Romeo with momentum to relaunch in America.
[Source: Detroit News]
We’ve seen Jeremy Clarkson review some of the most beautiful and exotic cars ranging from the Bugatti Veyron to the classic Jaguar E-Type. We’ve also seen him review some of the most hideous cars like the Reliant Robin, but military vehicles? From a video game? This is a first.
Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson will be spicing up Forza Motorsport 4 with a featured role in the XBOX 360 game. With the game ready for release in October, this commercial has been released featuring the high tech M12 FAV Warthog from Halo, and the witty Jeremy Clarkson. Now gamers and auto enthusiasts are getting the best of both worlds. Interestingly, the Warthog won’t be the only vehicle that will receive Clarkson’s review. Apparently the game’s Autovista model will introduce players to a wide variety of unique vehicles.
In the short commercial, Jezza approaches the imaginary assault vehicle with his typical sarcasm and dry sense of humor, that we’ve come to know and love from his fantastic TV show. Check out the video after the jump to see the tank like all-terrain vehicle.
Off-roaders may want to listen up, this is your lucky day. Land Rover has confirmed production for the next-gen Defender SUV. The British automaker intends to launch a new Defender in 2015, and the concept version (DC100) will be present at next month’s Frankfurt Auto Show.
Gerry McGovern, Director of Design for Land Rover weighed in on the issue saying, “Replacing the iconic Defender is one of the biggest challenges in the automotive design world; it is a car that inspires people worldwide. This isn’t a production-ready concept but the beginning of a four-year journey to design a relevant Defender for the 21st century.”
The next-gen Defender is likely to be quite different than the old version in several ways. It will have a more refined design with more technological features and modern structural materials. However the new version will likely stick to the traditional simplistic approach for which the Defender is well-known.
John Edwards, Global Brand Director, Land Rover added:”Loved the world over for its simple, honest and distinctive design, we are determined that the new Defender will be true to its heritage, while meeting the requirements of a changing global market. We plan to engage with existing and potential customers to help us finalize the details of the new vehicle. One thing’s for sure, it’s going to be an exciting journey, and we can’t wait to get going.”
GALLERY: Land Rover DC100 Concept
Infiniti announced U.S pricing for the 2012 QX full-size SUV and the 2012 EX crossover. The QX was redesigned in 2011, so changes to the 2012 model are non-existent.
The full-sized SUV will be offered in both a 2WD and 4WD setup, and some options have been changed to make some features more accessible in lower-level packages. One change on the 2012 model is the Blind Spot Intervention system available with the Technology Package. This option alerts the driver to vehicles in the blind spot area. Both the QX models will utilize the 400-hp 5.6-liter V8 mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. Pricing for the 2012 2WD model will start at $58,700 and the 2012 4WD model will start at $61,800.
The 2012 EX will be available in four models including the EX35 RWD ($35,600), EX35 AWD ($37,000), EX35 RWD Journey ($37,900) and EX35 AWD Journey ($39,300). The crossover also gains the HomeLink Universal Transceiver as standard equipment on the EX35 Journey. All four models will utilize the same 297-hp 3.5-liter V6 mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission.
GALLERY: Infinti EX35/ QX56
Two National Guard Light Medium Tactical Vehicles were entirely submerged during the Hurricane Irene aftermath, and the action was captured on video.
The two trucks drove through the deep water in downtown Manville. They managed to drive about a block before either water got into the engine or the drivers ran out of breath. At one point when the trucks stop, the men climb out of the trucks and appear to be unable to swim.
Check it out for yourself after the jump!
Fans of the Land Rover Defender have long feared the vehicle’s demise amid intensifying regulations and waning interest in off-road vehicles, but Land Rover isn’t giving up on their iconic product.
A report in a British magazine suggests that an all-new Defender will debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show, using the same underpinnings as Land Rover’s capable LR4 SUV. A new range of in-house 4-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines will be employed, as well as Land Rover’s Terrain Management System, which can adjust the entire driveline to cope with various off-road situations.
[Source: Auto Express]
Bob Buckhorn, the mayor of Tampa, Florida needed a safe, reliable vehicle for his family, and did what many cost-concious car buyers do – he looked for a vehicle seized by the police.
While most people have to attend an auction to purchase such a car, Buckhorn decided on a police forfeit since it meant that the city wouldn’t have to pay a dime to get him a vehicle. Buckhorn opted for a 2005 GMC Yukon Denali, and the car in question has what many classic car auction houses would call “provenance”.
Buckhorn’s Denali was formerly owned by Charles Melvin Fox, who was convicted of sex trafficking. Authorities allege that Fox’s Denali was used to transport prostitutes across state lines, making Buckhorn’s new car a pimpmobile in every sense of the word – the vehicle even had spinner rims installed, but they were eventually removed before Buckhorn took delivery. Buckhorn described the car as ”a product of ill-gotten gains is being put to good use.”
The result of high gas prices, Americans drove 15.5 billion miles less in the first half of 2011. The Federal Highway Administration reported that U.S drivers logged 1.453 trillion miles through to June 30 which is down 1.1 percent over the first half of 2010. The last time Americans drove less was back in 2004, when they logged 1.351 trillion miles (at the half way point), according to the government.
The all time high for first-half travel occurred in 2007 with 1.497 billion miles. June in particular was a month of few miles. Travel fell 1.4 percent to 259.1 billion miles, down 3.8 billion miles. In contrast to 2011, Americans drove three trillion miles in 2010, which has a direct correlation with lower gas prices. With gas prices the way they are, Americans are driving less, and according to recent studies are also more likely to hold onto older cars.
[Source: The Detroit Auto News]
The new 2012 Jeep Wrangler will be getting a new engine that provides better fuel efficiency with more power and torque. The new 3.6-liter “Pentastar” V6 engine improves fuel efficiency up to 21 miles per gallon, while delivering 285-hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. The Wrangler will also receive a new five-speed automatic transmission to improve shifting and performance. The 3.6-liter Pentastar engine was the winner of the prestigious Ward’s 10 Best Engines award, and for the first time can be mated to a manual transmission. The new engine has 40 percent more horsepower and 10 percent more torque than the outgoing 3.8-liter V6.
“Jeep Wrangler – the most capable and iconic vehicle in the world – has a new heart but retains the same soul for 2012,” said Mike Manley, President and CEO – Jeep Brand, Chrysler Group LLC. “Our new 3.6-liter V6 engine gives the ever-capable Wrangler a completely new, more refined on-road driving experience – complete with more fuel efficiency, power and torque”.
New colors also join the Jeep color palette for 2012, including “Dozer” yellow, “Crush” orange, a “Black Forest” dark green, a bright green “Gecko” and a blue-gray “Winter Chill”. Plus, look for a Moparized Wrangler Renegade to follow.
GALLERY: 2012 Jeep Wrangler
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]
Land Rover sold 31, 864 units in 2010 and has sold 20,000 vehicles through July of 2011. ”Both brands have some similarities in the fact that we are planning for growth predicated on product introductions,” said Goss. With the new compact Evoque added to the lineup, Goss feels the 50,000 mark is within the automakers reach. Jaguar will most likely have more trouble attaining the 50,000 unit goal, based on the fact that the automaker only sold 13,340 units in 2011. Jaguar hoping to up sales with help from a sports car that the brand is considering, which may debut as a concept at the Frankfurt auto show. Goss did not provide any details but noted that Jaguar needs a small sports car and a sedan to compete with the BMW 3-Series.
[Source: Automotive News]