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.
A battle that almost seems to have fought it self, selling diesel cars in the U.S. used to be little more than a fool’s errand for most automakers, but that is quickly changing with companies competing to catch up with the trend.
Infiniti has announced its newest incentive in customer service, the National Collision Repair Network.
“Facilities that have the willingness to participate in this program must have the commitment to achieve higher standards in the collision repair industry. This program will be a platform to satisfy all aspects of their customers’ automotive service needs,” said Carnie Colliver, the senior manager of Parts and Service for Infiniti Americas.
The purpose of the program is to provide consistency to all Infiniti owners looking to get their vehicles serviced regardless of where the vehicle is worked on. Infiniti will be visiting garages all around the U.S. to designate them as Certififed Collision Repair shops.
Any garage may be certified, whether it is privatley owned or already part of the Infiniti dealer network. The certified shops are recognized for their overall repair work, training, equipment and delivery services.
Customers looking for an Infiniti certified shop can search for them online using Infiniti’s dealer locator.
Audi is introducing their new line of bi-turbo diesel engines that will make their way into several A6 cars and the A7 Sportback.
Those included in the list are the A6 sedan, A6 Avant, Allroad Quattro and A7 Sportbacks. Next spring U.K. customers can look forward to those cars sporting the option of Audi’s most powerful V6 diesel to date. The 3.0-liter bi-turbo oil burner will have 309 horsepower and 479 ft-lb of torque. That will be enough to propel the A6 Quattro from 0-60 mph in just 5.1 seconds, while the A6 Avant and A7 will get there in 5.3.
There isn’t any news on those cars making their way across the ocean just yet, but Audi did well in the U.K. last year, selling 14 percent more vehicles than they did the previous year. Audi says part of their plan to continue that upward trend is to invest more money in new products for what looks like a hungry market.
While this is little more than speculation, it doesn’t seem that outlandish that Audi might decide to bring those products to market in North America. An A6 diesel has long been rumored for the US, but the date keeps scooting out of sight.
Hopefully the new engine will sell well in the U.K. and encourage Audi to expand its distribution. That said, we won’t be surprised if it takes a long time or just doesn’t happen at all. Afterall, we’re still staring at the A1 with envy as the clock ticks by. There’s also already a diesel engine being sold in the US, albeit one with only 225 horsepower, sold in the Q7, and soon to be available in the Q5 CUV and A8 sedan.
Mercedes-Benz is going guerilla with its marketing tactics for the new A-Class by placing camouflaged cars around Germany stamped with QR (Quick Response) codes to give those lucky enough to scan them a chance at some prizes.
While that’s good news for a bunch of lucky Germans, the rest of us will have to settle for a new video showing the body shape, headlights and bits of bumper. The video is just a small teaser for the full reveal which will happen in Geneva this March.
If you’re in Germany and see one of the “specially marked” vehicles, whip out your smart phone and scan the code. It could lead to a visit to witness the A-Class debut in person.
Last month our spy photographers spotted a camo-wrapped A-Class being tested but we weren’t sure about the mechanical details. Since then we’ve learned that it will likely feature a 1.8-liter turbocharged four cylinder mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Most models will feature front-wheel drive, though the AMG variant will get 4Matic treatment.
Expect to hear about the A-Class hitting the road in Europe by the end of the year, but not in the U.S. until mid 2013. There will, however, be a four-door coupe hitting the American market based on the same drivetrain later this year.
We’ll be covering the A-Class reveal as well as other breaking news from Geneva starting on March 6.
Watch the promo video after the jump.
[Source: Motor Authority]
Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Maseratis, they all have distinct exhaust notes that turn heads from Hoboken, New Jersey to Hollywood, California. They still ain’t got nothing on the rare and raspy resonation that marks an Acura NSX.
Where an ultra-expensive Italian car says status, the NSX spits true tuner taste— especially because they aren’t in production. That’s why our ears perk up whenever news surfaces about the highly anticipated next generation of the old legend.
The latest? On Monday, Acura announced at the North American International Auto Show that they plan to do the research, development and manufacturing for the new NSX at their Marysville, Ohio facility.
“Honda associates are up to the challenge of producing the new NSX for global customers with a high degree of craftsmanship,” said Hidenobu Iwata, head of Honda’s North American manufacturing operations and president of Honda of America Mfg., Inc. in a press release. ”Honda associates in Ohio have been building high-quality Honda and Acura vehicles for nearly 30 years, so this news in many ways is a culmination of their determined efforts.”
This is big news, considering the previous NSX was made entirely in Japan and then exported.
Hiroshi Takemura, president of Honda R&D Americas agreed, saying that the company has a rich history of creating cars in the U.S. and that the decision to build the new NSX in Ohio demonstrates the maturity and ability of Acura’s American operation.
For the most part, Acura is keeping mum on tech specs, though we do know that the car will, again, feature a mid-mounted V6, lightweight chassis and Acura’s Super Handling All Wheel Drive system. We also know that the car will be available within three years time.
Don’t head to the optometrist just yet. If the parking lot outside the California Pizza Kitchen and P.F. Chang’s seems particularly crowded with Mercedes-Benz SUVs, you’re probably seeing just fine.
The company had some good news to release with the new year, they managed to surpass the 2 million SUVs sales mark. According to a press release, the company enjoyed significant growth in SUV sales in 2011 thanks to the U.S. and China. SUV sales were up 24.3 percent compared to 2010 and additionally the company saw a 23.5 percent sales spike in November.
“With the launch of our first sport utility vehicle – the G‑Class – more than 30 years ago, we entered a segment in which we are now very successful with a total of five models. The SUVs today are an important pillar of Mercedes-Benz’s growth and have regularly posted a new sales record in every month since July 2010,” Joachim Schmidt, Mercedes’ head of sales and marketing, said.
While it may have taken the company 30 years to reach that number, luxury SUVs have really only been making a splash since the late 90′s with the introduction of the ML-Class. It may be easy to forget the rocky debut they had, but had some serous struggles making them a success. Questionable assembly and poor reliability in the not-so-distant past might still have some buyers feeling wary.
Nevertheless, it seems that suburban soccer moms and the expanding Chinese hunger for luxury cars is fuelling growth even with a shaky world economy. The R-Class boasted the biggest spurt with 50.3 percent sales growth this year, while the M-Class squeaked out 15.8 percent despite a model change.
Mercedes-Benz is still proud despite the M-Class taking last place in growth, calling it the latest star in their family. That pride comes part in parcel with the SUV having best fuel efficiency in its segment and receiving a five-star rating by the European New Car Assessment Programme for its safety.
Despite the accolades, we weren’t particularly impressed with the 2012 M-Class. It’s not to say we hated it, but the new model isn’t much to write home about either. Mild improvements thanks to direct injection and a scrapped hydraulic steering system were nice, but less than revolutionary. Mercedes-Benz isn’t falling short, but they didn’t jump ahead of the pack with this one either.
General Motors is taking steps to make carbon fiber a major component in their future production vehicles by working with Teijin Ltd. of Japan.
Carbon fiber is a labor-intensive product, meaning it is expensive to implement in production vehicles. That expense generally restricts its use to low-production models like the Chevrolet Corvette Z06. That will all change in the future thanks to a new process that allows Teijiin to make carbon fiber products much faster than previously possible.
“Our relationship with Teijin provides the opportunity to revolutionize the way carbon fiber is used in the automotive industry,” GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky said in a statement. “This technology holds the potential to be an industry game changer and demonstrates GM’s long-standing commitment to innovation.”
Teijin’s new technology uses thermoplastic material to allow carbon fiber parts to be molded in less than a minute instead of the traditional method, thermoset, that takes ten minutes or more per piece.
“It’s easier to handle and quicker to mold,” Jim Hentschel, GM’s executive director for body and exterior, said in an interview. “That’s what allows us to be able to introduce this technology into more mainstream, high-volume vehicles.”
Carbon fiber is stronger and ligher than aluminum and steel, making it a valuable asset for GM as it tries to increase fuel efficiency in new models.
The specifics behind the deal aren’t available yet, but neither company is exchanging equity in the process. Teijin will, however, be opening a U.S. techincal center to handle their business with GM.
[Source: Automotive News]
Porsche is spicing up their U.S. vehicle lineup starting next year with three new models, including a diesel Cayenne.
It’s hard not to see the writing on the wall when a status symbol like Porsche decides to port the diesel counterpart of their high-end SUV to the U.S. Most people familiar with the European car market know that diesels are a staple across the Atlantic, but until recently the alternative fuel was pretty much an 18-wheel thing. That’s all changing, as mainstream manufacturers are offering efficient diesel versions and companies like Cummins are ramping up their capacity in anticipation of a market shift.
If you still struggle with the smoke-belching image diesel vehicles evoke for so many Americans, figure this: Porsche is counting on the diesel Cayenne to help double their U.S. sales by 2018 without adding any dealerships. The other two sales-boosters are a redesigned 911 and the 430 horsepower Panamera GTS.
If the American diesel is true to its Euro-spec brother, you’re looking at a Cayenne that boasts just under 40 mpg combined. It’s likely that the car will have a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6, making 245 horsepower and 405 lb-ft of torque, capable of a 0-60 sprint in 7.6 seconds. You won’t be winning any races in it with a top speed of only 137 mph, but then again you’re looking at a fuel-saving SUV.
If speed is really more important than mileage to you, consider the hybrid version, which makes 380 horses. Just know that you’re probably going to pay about $10,000 more for a vehicle that only gets about 24 mpg.
[Source: Automotive News]
Ramciotti was lured out of retirement to head up the project, which aims for a common design language for the two brands. “We are trying to find an international language, which could have a place both here in Italy and in the U.S.,” said Ramaciotti in an interview with Bloomberg. “If you put all the models into the showroom, they must fit together. It’s a delicate problem.”
Sergio Machionne, Chief Executive Officer of Fiat and Chrysler, hopes sharing designs will boost both Chrysler and floundering Italian sister company Lancia, a weak link for Fiat. The carmaker loses an estimated $1.08 billion annually in Europe. If all goes as planned, the new Chrysler-Lancia line will boost group sales 64 percent by 2014.
Sharing vehicles between manufacturers is a quick way to cut costs, but it can have a high price.
“It’s extremely difficult to succeed in a strategy of globalizing design,” said Roberto Verganti, a management professor at Milan Polytechnic. “The risk is making international cars with no personality. When you buy a Lancia, you are looking for a piece of Italy, and when you choose a Chrysler, you are getting a slice of America.”
Despite the plan to marry models between Chrysler and Lancia, Fiat doesn’t plan to do the same for other brands including Dodge, Jeep, Maserati and Alfa Romeo, all of which will retain their respective identities.
Currently, Chrysler provides re-badged Grand Voyagers and 300s to Lancia, with Lancia calling them the Voyager and Thema respectively. For now, the cars are attracting attention in showrooms, but they haven’t been hot sellers in the depressed Italian economy. “Reactions are good. The Thema is pretty, design is attractive for Italians, too, but no one is buying these kinds of cars now,” said Roberto Ferrari, who owns a Lancia dealer outside Milan.
Overall, Chrysler only sold 37,000 cars in Europe last year, including Jeep and Dodge. That number is down by almost 38 percent since 2007 when they peaked at 120,000 units.
The news isn’t all bad for Fiat’s rebranded American cars though. Since June, the company enjoyed 18,000 orders for their rebranded version of the Dodge Journey minivan, more than double their total sales for 2009.
According to a study conducted by the Department of Transportation, results revealed that Americans have been driving less now than they have over a year ago.
Travel on U.S. roads have declined by 1.3 percent through the first eight months of the year when measured against the same period a year ago. This 1.3 percent drop translates to about 26 billion vehicles miles traveled, a number that has not been recorded since 2003.
The result of many exterior forces at work, there are no clear indications to explain the decline. A likely assumption is the increase in fuel prices over last year as well as the recent economic times have encouraged more people to take daycations and staycations than to plan extended road trips.
[Source: usa today]
It’s been years since George Bush was in office, but a trade bill from his presidency finally made it past the House and Senate.
The deal includes Columbia, Panama and South Korea to open trade between those countries and the U.S. with changes aimed to aid U.S. auto manufacturers.
“I’ve fought to make sure that these trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama deliver the best possible deal for our country, and I’ve insisted that we do more to help American workers who have been affected by global competition,” said President Obama, when asked about the deal.
Despite support from President Obama and many Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid disagreed. “I don’t favor these bills, but the majority of this Senate does, so it was important that we move forward,” he said.
Public Citizen, a watchdog group, also opposed the deal saying that it would make importing easier for foreign manufacturers but that the same balance wouldn’t be maintained for domestic companies.
While the deal is meant to open business traffic for both countries, the fact remains that South Korea is traditionally a very closed market, meaning U.S. manufacturers are likely to see less of an increase in exports out of the deal.
This could potentially help Hyundai-Kia, whose vehicles are already established in North American markets.
[Source: Left Lane News]
That choice, among others, came after Mercedes-Benz took over distribution of the brand in the U.S. last July. They also plan to scrap the current FourTwo (above) in favor of a new model developed in partnership with Renault, which will share the platform with their Twingo, though the new version won’t be available until 2014.
The 2012 FourTwo Electric will also get an improved interior and new lithium ion batteries from Deutsche Accumotive GmbH, a joint venture between Daimler and Evonik Industries.
[Source: Automotive News]
The world’s economy stinks, gas is expensive and we’re all watching our wallets closely.
You might assume that would also indicate less car parts being sold, but not for diesel engine manufacturer Cummins. “Several of the economies where Cummins operates are clearly weakening,” COO Tom Linebarger told analysts last month. “We really don’t know how deep it will go. We are confident in the long-term profitable growth of the company.”
The Columbus, Ind. based manufacturer builds natural gas and diesel engines and despite the worlds money woes is projecting a sharp rise in diesel fuel demand. Last month Cummins told analysts they forecast to grow by more than 60 per cent and reach $30 billion in 2015.
Over the next five years the company also plans to hire 7000 new engineers to compensate for increased demand. They hope doing so will allow them to develop new engines to meet increasingly stringent efficiency standards.
They owe their expansion in large part to overseas demand in emerging economies like China and South America and India where there is still high demand for construction equipment, but it isn’t the only reason.
The company is also expanding its production for consumer vehicles. Nissan is currently working on putting a 2.8-liter direct injection turbocharged four-cylinder from Cummins into its 2015 Titan pickup. Once available, the new generation Titan will be one of the most efficient full-size pickups on the market.
The Mazda CX-5 will enter the highly competitive compact crossover segment in the U.S when it debuts in early 2012. The CX-5 prototype was equipped with 165-hp 2.0-liter engine producing 150 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a six-speed manual transmission and the American version will likely use the same setup.
A diesel variant available in the U.S, equipped with a 2.2-liter, twin-turbo direct injection engine. The diesel will produce over 160-hp and about 310 lb-ft of torque.
The CX-5 will compete against the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Volkswagen Tiguan and Kia Sportage. The CX-5 will be 178.7 inches long, making it more than five inches shorter than the CX-7. The 106.3 inch wheelbase also makes it two inches shorter than the CX-7. The diesel will be added to the crossover in 2014 and will make its North American debut at the Los Angeles auto show in November. Mazda has yet to confirm pricing for the U.S market but Mazda reps say that the base model will sell for around $20,000.
GALLERY: 2012 Mazda CX-5
Click here to read AutoGuide’s drive of the new Mazda SkyActiv prototype and see after the jump to watch the video:
The National Insurance Crime Bureau released its Hot Wheels report today, listing the 10 most stolen vehicles in the United States. The report examins vehicle theft data submitted by law enforcement to the National Crime Information Center to determine the most reported stolen cars.
Domestic vehicles have become more popular to thieves over their import counterparts on the list for the first time since 2002. The 1999 Chevrolet Silverado Pickup and 1997 Ford F-150 broke into the top five which was the most astonishing news because these places are usually held by small Japanese cars. The most stolen vehicles in the United States for 2010 include:
- 1994 Honda Accord
- 1995 Honda Civic
- 1991 Toyota Camry
- 1999 Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)
- 1997 Ford F150 Series/Pickup
- 2004 Dodge Ram
- 2000 Dodge Caravan
- 1994 Acura Integra
- 2002 Ford Explorer
- 1999 Ford Taurus
The good news is that overall, vehicle thefts are on a downward trend. Initial 2010 FBI crime statistics point to a 7.2 percent reduction over the thefts posted in 2009. If these numbers stay their course when the FBI produces the final statistics later this year, 2010 will post the fewest vehicle thefts since 1967.
Fiat has returned to the U.S after a nearly three-decade absence, and the Italian automaker is eager to make a positive impression on the American consumer. So far, dealers are happy with the initial sales of the 500 but see the need for more ad support to sustain long-term growth of the brand.
As part of the campaign, Fiat is offering a $199 a month lease and cut-rate financing on the Fiat 500 coupe. The lease term is 39 months with $1,999 due at signing. Customers interested in buying the coupe can choose three different financing packages including 1.9 percent financing for 36 months. The $199 lease is being offered on the entry-level Pop model which comes with a five-speed manual transmission, which starts at $15,995, including shipping. Fiat has planned to open 130 dealerships by the end of 2011 and so far has 93 up and running.
[Source: Automotive News]
Toyota has decided that the RAV4 electronic vehicle will not be made available to consumers. According to Geri Yoza, Toyota’s national business planning manager of advanced vehicle marketing, the vehicle will instead be focused for “very strategic applications” such as fleets and car sharing programs.
The RAV4 EV has made use of Tesla’s electric drivetrain and has been tested with 160 users receiving positive feedback, according to Yoza. Testers charged the RAV4 more frequently (around 10 times a week), costing $150 for six weeks.
This is Toyota’s first RAV4 EV after first launching the vehicle 15 years ago in 1996. The EV is the first vehicle in the world powered by nickel-metal hydride batteries, capable of achieving 78 mph (125 km/h) and a maximum range of 120 miles (190 km). The RAV4 is expected to arrive in the U.S by the first quarter of 2012.
GALLERY: Toyota RAV4 EV
Volkswagen shifted their sales strategy last fall when they lowered the price of their 2011 Jetta by $1,600. New buyers became more attracted to the vehicle and sales vastly improved. June’s combined U.S sales jumped 88 percent for the wagon and the sedan even with a price hike of $500 set last April.
June was actually the Jetta’s best month with 17,105 sales. The last six month sales period also improved by 66 percent hitting 91,752 units sold.
Jonathan Browning, CEO of Volkswagen Group of America was interview and he said: Jetta’s lower base price attracted new customers and the average transaction price increased. He also said, ”We are selling more units above $19,000 than ever before”.
VW has figured out the formula after decades of trial and error as to what Americans want. VW will also be testing this formula for the U.S built, redesigned 2013 Passat arriving in fall.
[Source: Automotive News]
Volkswagen wants to produce the Tiguan SUV model in North America in an effort to slash production costs on the compact crossover. VW is already producing the Jetta and Passat in North America and is considering moving production of the Tiguan, according to a report by WirtschaftsWocke magazine.
Presently, the Tiguan model is only produced at the Wolfsburg plant in Germany.
The shift in production from Germany to North America will allow VW to guard against exchange rate fluctuations that can eat away at profits, analysts said.
Producing Volkswagens in the U.S will also allow the automaker to keep closer track of changing tastes in the world’s second largest auto market, where consumer trends often originate.
It is unclear whether the Tiguan will be produced at the Chattanooga, Tennessee plant (currently VWs only plan in North America), however, production is scheduled to rise to 150,000 vehicles annually by 2012.
The Chrysler Group has repaid it outstanding debt worth $7.6 billion in loans to the U.S and Canadian governments. This ends nearly two years of public ownership of the third largest U.S automaker.
Chrysler made a payment of $5.9 billion to the U.S Treasury and $1.7 billion to Export Development Canada- finally ending loans that bailed Chrysler out of near bankruptcy in June 2009. It is impressive that the automaker managed to repay all debts six years ahead of schedule.
“Less than two years ago, we made a commitment to repay the U.S. and Canadian taxpayers in full and today we made good on that promise,” CEO Sergio Marchionne said in a statement. “The loans gave us a rare second chance to demonstrate what the people of this company can deliver and we owe a debt of gratitude to those whose intervention allowed Chrysler to re-establish itself as a strong and viable carmaker.”
The repayment became possible for Chrysler through its 16 new or refreshed models this year. The company reported a first quarter net profit for the first time since exiting bankruptcy under the control of Italy’s Fiat S.p.A
The automaker initially borrowed $5.1 billion from the U.S and $1.6 billion from Canada in June 2009 however the company racked up $1.8 billion in interest.
[Source: Automotive News]
Earlier today, Volkswagen launched its “Think Blue” campaign in the U.S. VW’s aim is to “encourage eco-friendly mobility and progressive ideas for responsible action in everyday life”.
This launch coincides with VW’s partnership with the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, as well as the May 24th inauguration of VW’s plant in Chattanooga, TN, a facility that encorporates numberous energy- conserving systems and efficiency upgrades.
The idea behind Think Blue is to heighten broad public awareness for sustainable actions and encourage individuals to play an active tole. Eco-friendly technology and efficient production processes are of major importance but the key lies in addressing social and cultural issues.
Think Blue originated with VW’s “Think Small” slogan of the 1960s, which focused on how the VW Beetle played a role in “democratizing mobility.”