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.
There’s a new mid-engined supercar in town and it hails from Great Britain, but it’s not from the likes of Aston Martin, Bentley or even Noble.
With the government shutdown in full force, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has stopped many of its functions that help keep motorists safe.
Nissan has announced it will launch the all-electric Nissan Leaf ahead of schedule in the city of Chicago, citing popular demand as well as preparedness by the city.
Last February, Gov. Pat Quinn announced that $1 million would be invested to install state-of-the-art charging infrastructure for electric cars throughout the Chicago area. The City of Chicago matched the investment with an additional $1 million for the project to implement 280 EV charging stations.
“Illinois is laying the groundwork for electric vehicles, and our efforts are paying off,” Gov. Quinn said. “By investing in electric vehicle technology, both the State of Illinois and Nissan are making transportation in our state more efficient, sustainable and affordable.”
The City of Chicago has also spearheaded an aggressive infrastructure plan to add 73 DC quick charging stations and 207 Level 2 stations by the end of 2011. So far, 40 stations have been installed, but when complete, the system will provide the Chicagoland area with the most extensive infrastructure for electric vehicles in the U.S.
Surprisingly, large segments of Americans are willing to buy Chinese made cars. Market research company GfK Automotive did its annual Barometer of Automotive Awareness and Imagery, and found that 38 percent of the respondents would consider buying a Chinese car. According to the study, “The openness to purchasing a Chinese and Indian vehicle is highest among Gen Y consumers, with 52 percent saying they are open to a vehicle from a Chinese automaker and 41 percent saying they are open to a vehicle from an Indian automaker.”
Don Deveaux, managing director of Gfk Automotive commented on the issue saying, “When a relatively unknown auto brand enters the market, potential buyers are going to have some initial skepticism without a frame of reference into the company’s history and differentiators from other brands. Quality and repair support are critical factors that potential buyers evaluate before purchasing a new vehicle, and without an established history in the United States, Chinese and Indian manufacturers need to overcome the lack of knowledge of their brands among potential new buyers.”
Currently Chinese automakers suffer from a poor image due to continued promises to offer models in America (which never seem to come to fruition), not to mention numerous poor marks in crash tests. Then again, who cares about safety when you can get a Bentley-styled SUV, like the Huatai B35 above.
[Source: The Truth About Cars]
In 2010, the world’s vehicle population hit one billion which works out to be roughly one car for every seven people. Reports conclude that China fueled half of the global growth, as it passed Japan for the world’s second largest vehicle population, with 28 million cars on the road.
India’s vehicle population has increased by nearly nine percent, pushing its total to 21 million cars on the road. The United States is still the country of cars, despite a lingering downturn in vehicle sales. The total vehicle population of 240 million cars, works out to be one car for every 1.2 persons.
[Source: Inside Line]
Diesel sales have vastly improved through the end of July, up 38.5 percent, compared to the same seven- month cycle in 2010. Volkswagen has been leading the sales with the Jetta TDI and Golf TDI.
Volkswagen sold 5,206 Jetta TDI models in July, bringing the diesel powered sedan’s year-to-date total to 56,717. On the other hand, the Golf TDI did not perform as well, with only 966 units being sold, but did land second place among all diesel vehicles sold in the U.S. Bringing up the rear, in third place was the BMW X5 xDrive35d with 562 units sold.
Through the first half of the year diesel sales have had a significant advantage, with sales of hybrids suffering due to limited supply as a result of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Still, the Prius managed to move a total of 74,427 units year-to-date, well ahead of the Jetta TDI.
[Source: Hybrid Cars]
American consumers buying the Fiat 500 are choosing pricier packages and customized options. The mid level Sport ($17,500) model accounts for almost half of the model’s sales in the first five months of the Italian brand in the U.S.
The top level Lounge ($19,500) model represents 20 percent of sales which features bigger wheels, leather seats, satellite radio and a glass roof. ”A lot of what we’re seeing is customers really want to build their car,” said Laura Soave, head of the Fiat brand in North America. ”Customers are willing to wait the six to eight weeks to get the one they want.”
Sergio Marchionne, CEO of both Fiat and Chrysler, aims to merge both automakers to reduce costs and generate over $142 billion by 2014. Chrysler predicts selling more than 50,000 500′s annually in the US. Fiat has delivered 7,982 500′s in the US since March and has sold 3,038 units in July. Fiat will open 130 initial dealerships and hopes to attain its sales target by 2011. The 500 is built in Chrysler’s factory near Mexico City.
[Source: Automotive News]
Click here to read AutoGuide’s 2012 Fiat 500 Review and discuss this story at Fait500Owners.com
With the outdated Crown Victoria taxi being put to rest, the competition to select the future NYC cab has turned into a fierce fight.
Three different models were chosen to be tested including the Nissan NV200, Ford Transit Connect and the Turkish entry, the Karsan V1. Ultimately the NV200 was chosen to serve for the next ten years, but the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) could approve other vehicles for the fleet. The Transit Connect was among the vehicles selected for approval, and taxi companies can choose to add the Ford van as well. New York will join Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia where officials have approved Transit Connect Taxis for use.
“For decades, Ford has been synonymous with New York City taxis, and we are pleased residents and tourists now will benefit from our next-generation vehicle,” said Mark Fields, Ford president of The Americas.
General Motors has officially confirmed that there will be a diesel version of the Chevrolet Cruze compact car in the U.S, planned for introduction in 2013. The current Chevrolet Cruze Eco is rated at around 40 mpg on the highway, so the diesel would have to deliver significantly better fuel efficiency than that to justify a higher-price. GM CEO Dan Akerson commented on the diesel variant, ”I drove it the other day. It is great, these new diesels are quiet. Should make it in the low- to mid-40s, and that’s with an automatic,”.
Diesel engines on average get 20 percent to 40 percent better mileage than similar-sized gasoline engines but lately, diesel fuel in the U.S has averaged 5 percent to 10 percent more than regular gas. Diesel engines are also costlier than gas engies, and require complex emissions gear, upping the price of diesel vehicles. GM wouldnt release anything pertaining to the price or give other details about the diesel Cruze because production is more than a year away however, a Jetta diesel with an automatic costs $24,865 so the Cruze is likely to be competitively priced.
Check out Cruze Talk forums for more info
[Source: USA Today]
Toyota has clarified their position on the 2012 RAV4 EV and the car will be sold to the general public. The RAV4 EV makes use of Tesla’s electric drivetrain and has been tested with 160 users receiving positive feedback, according to Geri Yoza, Toyota’s national business planning manager of advanced vehicle marketing.
Testers charged the RAV4 more frequently (around 10 times a week), costing $150 for six weeks. Toyota will also be bringing the electric Scion iQ stateside, which will be marketed to fleet and car sharing programs only.
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
Toyota has officially announced a recall of certain 2006 and 2007 model year Highlander hybrid and Lexus RX 400h vehicles. The recall will affect 45,500 Highlander hybrids and 36,700 RX 400h’s. The issue stems from the Intelligent Power Module (IPM) located inside the hybrid system inverter that contains a control board with transistors.
Certain transistors on the control boards in the affected vehicles were inadequately soldered and could be damaged from heat caused by a large current flow during heavy driving.
If this were to occur, warning lights would come on and in most cases the vehicle would enter a fail-safe driving mode, resulting in reduced power and a shorter driving distance. In more serious cases, the power supply circuit fuse could blow when the transistor is damaged. The blown fuse would cause the hybrid system to stop and the vehicle would cost to a stop.
Owners with affected vehicles will be notified by first class main in mid-July 2011. An inspection will be made at a Toyota dealer, and if the vehicle is affected, the IPM will be replaced at no cost.
The program including Chevrolet, Buick and GMC names will continue to offer the 12-month/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty as well as a five-year/100,000 mile limited powertrain warranty with 24-hour roadside assistance and courtesy transportation. Other standard features will include a more thorough 172-point inspection improved from 117 points as well as reconditioning, free trials of OnStar and Sirius/XM Satellite Radio.
“Customers demand more value for their money, and we have responded,” said Jennifer Costabile, general director of marketing and sales support, GM Fleet and Commercial Operations. “We believe our enhanced program offers our customers an outstanding experience from the moment they drive their Chevrolet, Buick or GMC Certified Pre-Owned vehicle off of the lot.”
GM will be getting rid of the General Motors Certified Used Vehicle brand in the U.S. However the Cadillac Certified Pre-Owned program will continue without any changes.
Don Johnson, vice president, U.S Sales Operations, said that adding more value to the GM Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle program will help the company sell more vehicles. “One of the most important things we can do is manage the business to help increase the value of Chevrolet, Buick and GMC used vehicles,” Johnson said. “This increased value gives potential new vehicle customers more for their trade-ins, thereby lowering their ownership costs.”
Carlos Tavares has been appointed Renault’s new Chief Operating Officer. As of July 1, Tavares will oversee Renault’s growth strategy focused on developing electric vehicles and new markets. He has replaced Patrick Pelata, who resigned in April following a case of alleged industrial espionage which turned into a fraud investigation.
Carlos Tavares, 53, a Portugues national, fluent in both English and French, spent 23 years at Renault in engineering and program management roles before moving to Nissan in 2004.
Carlos Ghosn, Renault and Nissan Chief Executive, said in a statement: ”His talent and experience will be key strengths for Renault and for all its employees as we go into the first year of our Renault 2016 — Drive the Change program.”
The Obama administration will announce today it is buying 116 plug-in electric vehicles and will install charging stations in government buildings in five cities.
Of the 116 vehicles, 101 of them will be extended-range Chevrolet Volts. These vehicles are to be placed with 20 government agencies in five cities including Washington, D.C., Detroit San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
The purchase decision was made by the federal government after accepting competitive bids from automakers. The General Services Administration, which has already ordered 35,000 vehicles so far this year, claims there will be an overall average fuel efficiency improvement of 21%. The new cars will save 2.4 million gallons of fuel saving $9 million in spending. The GSA has doubled the number of hybrids in the federal fleet over the last two years.
President Obama has plans to cut oil imports by one-third by 2025 over 2008 levels and also wants to put 1 million plug-in vehicles on the road by 2015.
[Source: Detroit News]